Jan 16 2019


Some of the gaslighting Republicans try to do in relation to Unidicted Co-conspirator Bottomless Pinocchio’s Russian Treason Plot is to deny that there is any Quid Pro Quo, This For That.

Like pushing “Collusion”, which is not a crime, as a substitute for “Conspiracy”, which is, they’ll claim that Russian aid during the 2016 Election and Unindicted Co-conspirator Bottomless Pinocchio’s pro-Russia Policies are entirely co-incidental. This is because trading things of value for political favors is EXPLICITLY A CRIME! Either Bribery or Extortion depending on who asks who for what and how.

For instance were I Mayor or something and you came into my office and said, “Hey, I want to put in a Development,” and I said “Sure, that’ll be $100,000,” that would be Extortion. If on the other hand you came to my office and said “I want to put in a Development, here’s $100,000 for you to expedite it,” that would be Bribery.

As I say Republicans will deny there’s any evidence of Quid Pro Quo when in fact there’s plenty already in the Moscow Tower Project and Unidicted Co-conspirator Bottomless Pinocchio’s Real Estate Money Laundering Scheme.

To be more charitable than you should, you might contend this is just garden variety White Collar Crime, part of his standard business model (along with Fraud and Tax Evasion).

But it’s really much worse than that.

Yesterday Chuck Schumer and 11 defecting Republicans put the kibosh on Unidicted Co-conspirator Bottomless Pinocchio’s plan to lift Treasury sanctions imposed after the annexation of Crimea on Russian Oligarch with ties to Putin and the GRU (Russian Military Intelligence, widely believed to have been the Government Spy Organization behind the Internet Research Agency’s theft of email from the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta) Oleg Deripaska.

Yes, the very same Oleg Deripaska that Paul Manafort owes over $20,000,000 and to whom the Internal Polling information from Unidicted Co-conspirator Bottomless Pinocchio’s 2016 Campaign which really has no utility (besides as a curiosity) except to microtarget Disinformation to Facebook idiots (really, really don’t like Facebook) was given through an intermediary but with strict routing instructions.

In other developments in the Manafort case yesterday, Mueller filled his brief detailing at least four categories of lies Manafort told while he was supposedly co-operating. The document is about a 100 pages long (counting appendixes and exhibits) and is heavily redacted so I’ll wait for some more reporting before I’ll talk about it.

The Times today also tells us-

Trump Discussed Pulling U.S. From NATO, Aides Say Amid New Concerns Over Russia
By Julian E. Barnes and Helene Cooper, The New York Times
Jan. 14, 2019

There are few things that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia desires more than the weakening of NATO, the military alliance among the United States, Europe and Canada that has deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years.

Last year, President Trump suggested a move tantamount to destroying NATO: the withdrawal of the United States.

Senior administration officials told The New York Times that several times over the course of 2018, Mr. Trump privately said he wanted to withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Current and former officials who support the alliance said they feared Mr. Trump could return to his threat as allied military spending continued to lag behind the goals the president had set.

In the days around a tumultuous NATO summit meeting last summer, they said, Mr. Trump told his top national security officials that he did not see the point of the military alliance, which he presented as a drain on the United States.

At the time, Mr. Trump’s national security team, including Jim Mattis, then the defense secretary, and John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, scrambled to keep American strategy on track without mention of a withdrawal that would drastically reduce Washington’s influence in Europe and could embolden Russia for decades.

Now, the president’s repeatedly stated desire to withdraw from NATO is raising new worries among national security officials amid growing concern about Mr. Trump’s efforts to keep his meetings with Mr. Putin secret from even his own aides, and an F.B.I. investigation into the administration’s Russia ties.

A move to withdraw from the alliance, in place since 1949, “would be one of the most damaging things that any president could do to U.S. interests,” said Michèle A. Flournoy, an under secretary of defense under President Barack Obama.

“It would destroy 70-plus years of painstaking work across multiple administrations, Republican and Democratic, to create perhaps the most powerful and advantageous alliance in history,” Ms. Flournoy said in an interview. “And it would be the wildest success that Vladimir Putin could dream of.”

American national security officials believe that Russia has largely focused on undermining solidarity between the United States and Europe after it annexed Crimea in 2014. Its goal was to upend NATO, which Moscow views as a threat.

Russia’s meddling in American elections and its efforts to prevent former satellite states from joining the alliance have aimed to weaken what it views as an enemy next door, the American officials said. With a weakened NATO, they said, Mr. Putin would have more freedom to behave as he wishes, setting up Russia as a counterweight to Europe and the United States.

An American withdrawal from the alliance would accomplish all that Mr. Putin has been trying to put into motion, the officials said — essentially, doing the Russian leader’s hardest and most critical work for him.

Quid Pro Quo.

I mean, I can hardly blame Russia from their standpoint. Like a warm water port it’s something that’s been a goal for a long time.

Rachel Maddow

It’s beginning to look a lot like Treason
Everywhere you turn
Take a look at the Russian dimes
The evidence left behind
With clandestine meetings in nearly every clime

It’s beginning to look a lot like Treason
Soon the shoes will drop
And the thing that will make them sing
Is the indictments that Mueller brings
Gladdening each Patriotic heart

There are more verses but writing song lyrics is hard and I am lazy.

Jan 16 2019


Sorry Cody, big news day. Still worth watching folks.

The Fake Border Crisis, Steve King, and Our Lying, Racist President

Jan 16 2019

The Breakfast Club (Preservation)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Start of Operation Desert Storm; Space Shuttle Columbia lifts off; Prohibition takes effect ; Shah of Iran flees into exile; musical “Hello Dolly” opens.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

When you realize the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate more on the preservation of the future.

Dian Fossey

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Jan 15 2019

Bigots And Racists All The Way Down

The story goes like this- someone (presumably Chinese but it’s not important) asks a Chinese Philosopher (see, that’s why I think the questioner is probably Chinese), “What holds up the world?”

So the Philosopher thinks about it a bit and says, “The World rests on the back of a Giant Turtle”, which was a fairly widely held belief in China at the time.

The questioner persists, “Everybody knows that. What I mean is, what holds up the Turtle?”

The Philosopher scratches his beard for a while and finally says, “That’s easy. It’s Turtles all the way down.”

So what is the modern Republican Party? That’s easy. It’s Bigots and Racists all the way down.

Megan McCain gets upset when you point this out. I suppose I could be a weenie like Atrios and say something conciliatory like #NotAllRepublicans but the truth is that those who are not Bigots and Racists by inclination are operationally so because their primary constituency is Bigoted Racist Old White Guys.

Because there is a limited supply of Bigoted Racist Old White Guys (thank goodness) and it’s not enough to win elections anymore Republicans cheat. They actively disenfranchise and suppress the votes of People of Color, perhaps not because of Bigotry and Racism, but certainly because People of Color are more likely to vote Democratic.

One of the tactics they have proposed, one which might have the farthest reaching effects, is to add a question about Immigration Status to the 2020 Census in the expectation that it will scare recent immigrants into not filling out their Census Forms for fear of disclosing any paperwork problems they might have and subjecting themselves to the merciless cruelty of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Today we took a small step toward stopping that.

Trump’s effort to rig the census takes a hit
By Paul Waldman, Washington Post
January 15, 2019

It has been amply clear for some time that as far as Republicans are concerned, there is no institution of American government that should be immune from being twisted into a tool for them to obtain partisan advantage. On Tuesday, they suffered a temporary setback in that effort.

Let me quickly give you the background if you’re not up to speed on the Trump administration’s effort to subvert the census. Upon taking office, the administration decided it wanted to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, but it needed to come up with a reasonable-sounding justification for it, since its true motives were indefensible. So it came up with a cover story: It wanted the citizenship question so that it could properly enforce the Voting Rights Act.

Which is kind of like your kid telling you that you should buy him more Oreos because he wants to make sure he keeps his teeth clean. It’s not a goal he agrees with in the first place, it’s not why he wants the cookies, and getting him the cookies would accomplish the opposite of what he claims.

Why is this important? Anyone who has worked on the census will tell you that getting people to fill out the forms is a challenge, and it gets even worse in immigrant communities where people can feel intimidated by representatives of the government knocking on their doors. Now add in the Trump administration’s relentless assault on immigrants and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) frequent abuses, and the problem becomes even more acute.

In that context, asking people about their citizenship status is guaranteed to result in undercounts in communities where there are lots of immigrants. Which means those areas will get less representation in Congress and fewer federal dollars for services. And that’s the whole point.

When I call the Voting Rights Act tale a “cover story,” I’m not just expressing an opinion. We have a paper trail of documents showing that the story the administration was telling in public, including under oath to Congress, was a lie. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose department oversees the Census Bureau, claimed under oath that the citizenship question was being added because the Justice Department had requested it, and the whole thing was the Justice Department’s idea. “The Department of Justice, as you know, initiated the request for inclusion of the citizenship question,” he said in response to a question about it during congressional testimony.

That was a lie. In fact, it was not the Justice Department’s idea. Ross and his aides approached the Justice Department and asked it to formally ask the Commerce Department for the citizenship question, in order to create a paper trail they could then point to in order to make their false claim. They encountered resistance from officials at the Justice Department, who were obviously uneasy about participating in this scheme. But eventually, after months of pleading and cajoling, they found someone at the Justice Department who was willing to write a letter “requesting” the citizenship question be added to the census. We know this because emails in which they carried out this scheme were obtained in a lawsuit and made public.

Ross also lied to Congress when he claimed that he had not spoken to anyone in the White House about the citizenship question; in fact, he had a conversation about it with Stephen K. Bannon, then the president’s chief political adviser, who suggested that Ross talk about the citizenship question to Kris Kobach, the notorious anti-immigrant vote suppressor who was then Kansas secretary of state; Ross did subsequently consult Kobach about it.

Once these lies were exposed, and facing the possibility that he could at least in theory be prosecuted for perjury, Ross issued statements changing his story, saying that the fog of his memory had cleared and he now recalls that the Justice Department didn’t initiate the request for the citizenship question and he did actually talk to the Trump White House about it.

Not only that, the Census Bureau itself told Ross in a memo in January 2018 that adding a citizenship question “is very costly, harms the quality of the census count, and would use substantially less accurate citizenship status data than are available from administrative sources.” He was undeterred.

All of which is to say that there’s simply no doubt that the Trump administration has been operating in absolute bad faith on this issue, lying to the public and to Congress about it and offering an absurd story to justify its actions. If there’s any silver lining, it’s that the administration is so incompetent that the deception has been completely obvious from the beginning.

Tuesday’s ruling made that clear: “The court concludes that Secretary Ross’s decision was pretextual — that the rationale he provided for his decision was not his real rationale.” That’s a judge’s way of saying, “You lied.”

This has to be seen in the context of a broader effort on the part of Republicans to put a thumb on the electoral scale in every way they possibly can, whether it’s extreme gerrymandering, voter suppression efforts targeted at minorities, or the use of the census to make Republican victories just that much more likely.

And despite this victory, they may well get away with it. This is one in a series of lawsuits filed by states challenging the citizenship question, and the matter will almost inevitably end up before the Supreme Court. Conservatives now have five justices on the court who appear well committed to doing what’s in the interests of the Republican Party. The question is whether they’ll be willing to undermine one of the bedrock institutions of American democracy in order to do it. I wish I could say I had any confidence they won’t.

Jan 15 2019

Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Eugene Robinson: Why are Republicans suddenly outraged over Steve King’s racism?

Republicans are shocked, shocked, to learn that Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) is a dyed-in-the-wool racist. Also , that snow is cold, the ocean is wet and the sky is often blue.

The clamor of GOP voices denouncing King’s latest racist eruption is more amusing than inspiring. Where have his Republican colleagues been all these years? Surely the “party of Lincoln” is aware that race has been the most divisive issue in our national history. Surely Republicans were aware of King’s toxic views, which he makes no attempt to hide. Why such an uproar now?

Perhaps King’s newly outraged critics were waiting for him to finally spell it out in language that even the “party of Trump” cannot ignore. Which he did. [..]

We have seen, in subsequent days, that the open embrace of white supremacy is a bridge too far for many Republicans. That’s what they say, at least. I’ll believe them when they make clear — with actions, not just words — that racists such as King are unwelcome in the party’s ranks.

Paul Krugman: Donald Trump and His Team of Morons

There have been many policy disasters over the course of U.S. history. It’s hard, however, to think of a calamity as gratuitous, an error as unforced, as the current federal shutdown.

Nor can I think of another disaster as thoroughly personal, as completely owned by one man. When Donald Trump told Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, “I will be the one to shut it down,” he was being completely accurate — although he went on to promise that “I’m not going to blame you for it,” which was a lie.

Still, no man is an island, although Trump comes closer than most. You can’t fully make sense of his policy pratfalls without acknowledging the extraordinary quality of the people with whom he has surrounded himself. And by “extraordinary,” of course, I mean extraordinarily low quality. Lincoln had a team of rivals; Trump has a team of morons.

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Jan 15 2019

Redefining Radical

In defiance of Election Losing “Pragmatists” I’ve been saying for years that Democratic Policy Proposals are, in most respects and especially economic ones, cowardly craven sellouts to Monopoly MegaCorps and Thieving Billionaires. Instead the Democrats have escalated Identity Politics as a substitute for true Social Justice, dangling shiny objects while ignoring the root causes of inequality.

These same DLC Blue Dog New Democrat Republicans with a ‘D’ have been trying to reign in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez because she is too “Radical” and is tarnishing the Party Brand and driving away all their fellow Republican Never Unidicted Co-conspirator Bottomless Pinocchio ers from the “Big Tent” that is perfectly happy to kiss Wall Street’s ass and ignore the plight of their constituents.

The problem is her “Radical” ideas, in particular her “Soak The Rich” Tax Policy are, like Single Payer Medicare For All, enormously popular.

Like 59% popular overall and 45% among Republicans. Republicans!

Poll: A majority of Americans support raising the top tax rate to 70 percent
by Matthew Sheffield, The Hill

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and her Republican critics have both called her proposal to dramatically increase America’s highest tax rate “radical” but a new poll released Tuesday indicates that a majority of Americans agrees with the idea.

In the latest The Hill-HarrisX survey, which was conducted Jan. 12 and 13 after the newly elected congresswoman called for the U.S. to raise its highest tax rate to 70 percent, found that a sizable majority of registered voters, 59 percent, supports the idea.

Ocasio-Cortez has not introduced any legislation to enact the concept but the survey shows a broad cross-section of Americans supports it, at least presently.

Women support the idea by a 62-38 percent margin. A majority of men back it as well, 55 percent to 45 percent. The proposal is popular in all regions of the country with a majority of Southerners backing it by a 57 to 43 percent margin. Rural voters back it as well, 56 percent to 44 percent.

Increasing the highest tax bracket to 70 percent garners a surprising amount of support among Republican voters. In the Hill-HarrisX poll, 45 percent of GOP voters say they favor it while 55 percent are opposed to it.

Independent voters who were contacted backed the tax idea by a 60 to 40 percent margin while Democratic ones favored it, 71 percent to 29 percent.

Ocasio-Cortez is among a group of progressive legislators which includes Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) who have called for increasing federal income tax rates on wealthier Americans. The New York Democrat kicked off a debate within her party in a Jan. 6 interview with “60 Minutes” during which she said she would support setting the highest tax, which she said would kick in at individuals 10 millionth dollar of income, at 70 percent.

In her comments to the CBS show, Ocasio-Cortez referenced tax rates that had once been in place during the mid-20th century. During the 1950s and 60s, the wealthiest Americans were once taxed at a rate in excess of 90 percent.

“That doesn’t mean all $10 million are taxed at an extremely high rate, but it means that as you climb up this ladder you should be contributing more,” she said.

The proposal has been met with both criticism and acceptance within the Democratic party. Republicans and conservative commentators have been universally critical, some incorrectly implying that the congresswoman wants to tax all income of the richest Americans at 70 percent.

Jan 15 2019


I know I’ve made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal. I’ve still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission. And I want to help you.

Jan 15 2019

The Breakfast Club (Dangerous Combinations)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Martin Luther King, Junior born; Richard Nixon suspends U.S. offensive in Vietnam; Queen Elizabeth the First crowned; Work completed on Pentagon; first Super Bowl takes place.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Jan 14 2019

Polling, Polling, Polling


Keep digin’, digin’, digin’
Though voters disapprovin’

The Wall!

Don’t realize you’re losing
Just lie, mope and confuse ’em
Soon we’ll be jailed and livin’ inside.

Oh, is it that bad? Yes, yes it is.

No wonder Trump is in such a foul mood
By James Downie, Washington Post
January 13, 2019

As a new Washington Post-ABC poll shows, Trump is losing the argument over the government shutdown and building a wall at the southern border. And he’s losing it badly.

In the new poll, released Sunday morning, 53 percent of respondents (including 53 percent of independents) blame Trump and Republicans for the shutdown (now the longest ever). Only 29 percent overall (and less than a quarter of independents) blame the Democrats. Fifty-four percent oppose the border wall. As for the musings from Trump and some other Republicans about declaring a national emergency to fund the wall, only 24 percent say the border situation is a crisis. Not a single part of Trump’s framing has taken hold with a majority of the American public.

Other polls have bad news for the White House as well: A new CNN poll finds that 56 percent of voters oppose the wall; only 39 percent support it. Similar to the Post-ABC survey, 55 percent of voters tell CNN they blame the president for the shutdown, with only 32 percent blaming the Democrats. Meanwhile, Trump’s approval rating has dropped five points since December.

The usual fallback here for those determined to find good news in bad polls for the president is “at least his base is holding.” And yes, Republican support for the border wall has “jumped 16 points in the past year, from 71 percent to 87 percent” in the Post-ABC poll. But Trump’s digging in on the border wall hasn’t actually improved his support among Republicans, just their support for the wall itself. Meanwhile, in the CNN poll, Trump’s decline “comes primarily among whites without college degrees, 45% of whom approve and 47% disapprove, marking the first time his approval rating with this group has been underwater in CNN polling since February 2018.” Those voters were crucial to Trump’s victories in Midwest states in 2016; without them, his path to 270 electoral votes narrows further.

That contradictory polling captures just how critical Trump’s crisis has become. Even as independents have turned more against him, the president’s base and conservative media have become more invested in the wall. (In the Post-ABC poll, two-thirds of Republicans who support the wall oppose a Trump compromise with Democrats.) What was “only” a top policy priority has become a near holy cause for the right. So whom should Trump choose to tick off?

At this point, the saving grace for Trump is that when it comes to shutdowns, voters quickly forget. If he folds soon, whatever damage done will be long gone by Election Day 2020. But what if he doesn’t give in for months? Or what if, just as the whole GOP doubled down on immigration before the midterms and suffered the consequences, Trump makes the wall a major issue in 2020? Suddenly, a shutdown would be a political disaster for Trump — and not just a policy disaster for the country.

Jan 14 2019

Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Eugene Robinson: Trump is terrified of the far-right echo chamber

The government isn’t shut down because of President Trump’s unbelievable cluelessness as a dealmaker. It’s shut down because of his many fears.

I don’t mean his pretend fears. Surely Trump doesn’t really believe his own racist nonsense about the U.S.-Mexico border being a sieve for homicidal maniacs and walk-to-work terrorists, and he can’t be too worried about a humanitarian crisis that is largely of his own creation. I’m talking about his real fears — the ones that must keep him up at night.

Trump is afraid of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Matt Drudge, Laura Ingraham and the rest of the far-right echo chamber. (He sees Sean Hannity as more of a house pet.) He’s afraid of his shrunken but loyal base, which could abandon him if he doesn’t give them a wall. He’s afraid of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and the federal, state and local prosecutors in New York who are investigating various Trump enterprises. And he’s afraid of losing his coercive hold over the Republican senators who one day could sit in judgment of his fate.

Karen Tumulty: Trump is the president of the Republican base — not the country

The Great Shutdown Showdown of 2019 has shown more clearly than anything before the central reality of Donald Trump’s presidency: He does not lead a country; he leads a movement.

Trump is president of the Republican base. He knows how to make his most passionate supporters vibrate like the reed of a clarinet. And they have the same effect on him.

That is why he was willing to go to the wall over The Wall, despite the fact that most Americans think it is a lousy idea. It is why he proudly claimed ownership of what has now become the longest government shutdown ever, and is deservedly getting more of the blame for the pain that it is causing.

Trump used his first televised Oval Office address not to offer a more persuasive argument, or a fresh compromise, or to bring the country together. The only thing he managed to do in that precious nine minutes was to cheapen our most revered national platform with the same histrionic claims about illegal immigration that he made when he came down the Trump Tower escalator in 2015.

All of this stands in contrast with how presidents normally act — or, perhaps, that should be how normal presidents act — when their promises turn out to be implausible or deeply unpopular.

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