Jan 19 2019

DNA Discounts

AeroMexico is offering DNA Discounts on tickets to Mexico which is a fascinating and beautiful place I would gladly visit if it weren’t so damn hot most of the year (which is not to say I’m looking forward to the 16 Degree Cold Snap predicted for Monday in Stars Hollow). As an acolyte of Clio I’m far more likely to be seen tromping around pre-Columbian cities than hanging out at the beach using a lime wedge to keep the flies out of my Corona (Point one, that’s what it’s for, it was never intended to be mixed with the beer. Point two, no real Mexican drinks Corona anyway, it’s swill.).

The acolyte side of me insists though that I make this point-

HISPANICS ARE EUROPEANS!

That’s right, they’re just as White as anyone (Well, not me, I’m Ben Franklin White), descendants of the Goths, a Germanic tribe, and the Celts, you know- Irish!

So you ignorant Bigoted Racist Morons- GET OVER IT!

My big problem with this offer is that you’re sacrificing your DNA Privacy to at least 2 faceless and heartless MegaCorps, AeroMexico and the DNA testing firm. Why would you do that for a discount?

Also I hate to fly, not because of my Acrophobia which is all too real, but because it’s terribly inconvenient and demeaning.

Still, it is a tempting and funny ad and well worth the 2 minutes it will take to watch it.

Jan 19 2019

House

Welcome to Long Format Retro Weekend.

Up first is the movie that explains what the Beatles, simply the most influential band ever (well, until Wyld Stallyns came along), were like.

Be excellent to each other. Party on dudes!

A Hard Day’s Night

Jan 19 2019

The Breakfast Club (The Land Of The Free)

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

Robert E. Lee born; Indira Gandhi elected prime minister of India;President Bill Clinton admits making false statements under oath;Singer Janis Joplin born; Dolly Parton is born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

When adversity strikes, that’s when you have to be the most calm. Take a step back, stay strong, stay grounded and press on.

LL Cool J

Read the rest of this entry »

Jan 18 2019

Who Is Yoni Appelbaum?

Well, Yoni Appelbaum is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Ideas section.

This is going to be their lead piece in the March 2019 Edition. It deals in depth with the first Impeachment, that of Andrew Johnson, the Democrat who succeeded Abraham Lincoln after his Assassination. Interesting note, his Senate Trial did not result in his Removal from Office based on 1 single vote, Edmund G. Ross’.

Ok, and six more Republicans but he was the one singled out by John F. Kennedy for inclusion in his best selling and Pulitzer Prize winning book Profiles In Courage which was probably written by Ted Sorensen anyway.

While Andrew Johnson’s reputation underwent a revival during the Jim Crow century before the Civil Rights era (indeed he has apologists today) he was in fact an incompetent die hard Racist and those who voted against his Impeachment were Racists too including the “Courageous” Edmund G. Ross. Jack Kennedy is widely admired, but not necessarily by me anymore.

Hmm… do you detect any similarities to our current situation? Perish the thought.

Though a acolyte of Clio I’ll try to elide most of the Historical stuff in my excerpt, if you have an interest click through as I always encourage you to do with any of our links, sometimes they’re hilarious.

Impeach Donald Trump
by Yoni Appelbaum, The Atlantic
March 2019

On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump stood on the steps of the Capitol, raised his right hand, and solemnly swore to faithfully execute the office of president of the United States and, to the best of his ability, to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. He has not kept that promise.

Instead, he has mounted a concerted challenge to the separation of powers, to the rule of law, and to the civil liberties enshrined in our founding documents. He has purposefully inflamed America’s divisions. He has set himself against the American idea, the principle that all of us—of every race, gender, and creed—are created equal.

This is not a partisan judgment. Many of the president’s fiercest critics have emerged from within his own party. Even officials and observers who support his policies are appalled by his pronouncements, and those who have the most firsthand experience of governance are also the most alarmed by how Trump is governing.

“The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naïveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate,” the late senator and former Republican presidential nominee John McCain lamented last summer. “The president has not risen to the mantle of the office,” the GOP’s other recent nominee, the former governor and now senator Mitt Romney, wrote in January.

The oath of office is a president’s promise to subordinate his private desires to the public interest, to serve the nation as a whole rather than any faction within it. Trump displays no evidence that he understands these obligations. To the contrary, he has routinely privileged his self-interest above the responsibilities of the presidency. He has failed to disclose or divest himself from his extensive financial interests, instead using the platform of the presidency to promote them. This has encouraged a wide array of actors, domestic and foreign, to seek to influence his decisions by funneling cash to properties such as Mar-a-Lago (the “Winter White House,” as Trump has branded it) and his hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue. Courts are now considering whether some of those payments violate the Constitution.

More troubling still, Trump has demanded that public officials put their loyalty to him ahead of their duty to the public. On his first full day in office, he ordered his press secretary to lie about the size of his inaugural crowd. He never forgave his first attorney general for failing to shut down investigations into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and ultimately forced his resignation. “I need loyalty. I expect loyalty,” Trump told his first FBI director, and then fired him when he refused to pledge it.

Trump has evinced little respect for the rule of law, attempting to have the Department of Justice launch criminal probes into his critics and political adversaries. He has repeatedly attacked both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Special Counsel Robert Mueller. His efforts to mislead, impede, and shut down Mueller’s investigation have now led the special counsel to consider whether the president obstructed justice.

As for the liberties guaranteed by the Constitution, Trump has repeatedly trampled upon them. He pledged to ban entry to the United States on the basis of religion, and did his best to follow through. He has attacked the press as the “enemy of the people” and barred critical outlets and reporters from attending his events. He has assailed black protesters. He has called for his critics in private industry to be fired from their jobs. He has falsely alleged that America’s electoral system is subject to massive fraud, impugning election results with which he disagrees as irredeemably tainted. Elected officials of both parties have repeatedly condemned such statements, which has only spurred the president to repeat them.

These actions are, in sum, an attack on the very foundations of America’s constitutional democracy.

The electorate passes judgment on its presidents and their shortcomings every four years. But the Framers were concerned that a president could abuse his authority in ways that would undermine the democratic process and that could not wait to be addressed. So they created a mechanism for considering whether a president is subverting the rule of law or pursuing his own self-interest at the expense of the general welfare—in short, whether his continued tenure in office poses a threat to the republic. This mechanism is impeachment.

Trump’s actions during his first two years in office clearly meet, and exceed, the criteria to trigger this fail-safe. But the United States has grown wary of impeachment. The history of its application is widely misunderstood, leading Americans to mistake it for a dangerous threat to the constitutional order.

That is precisely backwards. It is absurd to suggest that the Constitution would delineate a mechanism too potent to ever actually be employed. Impeachment, in fact, is a vital protection against the dangers a president like Trump poses. And, crucially, many of its benefits—to the political health of the country, to the stability of the constitutional system—accrue irrespective of its ultimate result. Impeachment is a process, not an outcome, a rule-bound procedure for investigating a president, considering evidence, formulating charges, and deciding whether to continue on to trial.

The fight over whether Trump should be removed from office is already raging, and distorting everything it touches. Activists are radicalizing in opposition to a president they regard as dangerous. Within the government, unelected bureaucrats who believe the president is acting unlawfully are disregarding his orders, or working to subvert his agenda. By denying the debate its proper outlet, Congress has succeeded only in intensifying its pressures. And by declining to tackle the question head-on, it has deprived itself of its primary means of reining in the chief executive.

With a newly seated Democratic majority, the House of Representatives can no longer dodge its constitutional duty. It must immediately open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump, and bring the debate out of the court of public opinion and into Congress, where it belongs.

Democrats picked up 40 seats in the House of Representatives in the 2018 elections. Despite this clear rebuke of Trump—and despite all that is publicly known about his offenses—party elders remain reluctant to impeach him. Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, has argued that it’s too early to talk about impeachment. Many Democrats avoided discussing the idea on the campaign trail, preferring to focus on health care. When, on the first day of the 116th Congress, a freshman representative declared her intent to impeach Trump and punctuated her comments with an obscenity, she was chastised by members of the old guard—not just for how she raised the issue, but for raising it at all.

In no small part, this trepidation is due to the fact that the last effort to remove an American president from office ended in political fiasco. When the House impeached Bill Clinton, in 1998, his popularity soared; in the Senate, even some Republicans voted against convicting him of the charges.

Pelosi and her antediluvian leadership team served in Congress during those fights two decades ago, and they seem determined not to repeat their rivals’ mistakes. Polling has shown significant support for impeachment over the course of Trump’s tenure, but the most favorable polls still indicate that it lacks majority support. To move against Trump now, Democrats seem to believe, would only strengthen the president’s hand. Better to wait for public opinion to turn decisively against him and then use impeachment to ratify that view. This is the received wisdom on impeachment, the overlearned lesson of the Clinton years: House Republicans got out ahead of public opinion, and turned a president beset by scandal into a sympathetic figure.

Instead, Democrats intend to be a thorn in Trump’s side. House committees will conduct hearings into a wide range of issues, calling administration officials to testify under oath. They will issue subpoenas and demand documents, emails, and other information. The chair of the Ways and Means Committee has the power to request Trump’s elusive tax returns from the IRS and, with the House’s approval, make them public.

Other institutions are already acting as brakes on the Trump presidency. To the president’s vocal frustration, federal judges have repeatedly enjoined his executive orders. Robert Mueller’s investigation has brought convictions of, or plea deals from, key figures in his campaign as well as his administration. Some Democrats are clearly hoping that if they stall for long enough, Mueller will deliver them from Trump, obviating the need to act themselves.

But Congress can’t outsource its responsibilities to federal prosecutors. No one knows when Mueller’s report will arrive, what form it will take, or what it will say. Even if Mueller alleges criminal misconduct on the part of the president, under Justice Department guidelines, a sitting president cannot be indicted. Nor will the host of congressional hearings fulfill that branch’s obligations. The view they will offer of his conduct will be both limited and scattershot, focused on discrete acts. Only by authorizing a dedicated impeachment inquiry can the House begin to assemble disparate allegations into a coherent picture, forcing lawmakers to consider both whether specific charges are true and whether the president’s abuses of his power justify his removal.

Waiting also presents dangers. With every passing day, Trump further undermines our national commitment to America’s ideals. And impeachment is a long process. Typically, the House first votes to open an investigation—the hearings would likely take months—then votes again to present charges to the Senate. By delaying the start of the process, in the hope that even clearer evidence will be produced by Mueller or some other source, lawmakers are delaying its eventual conclusion. Better to forge ahead, weighing what is already known and incorporating additional material as it becomes available.

Critics of impeachment insist that it would diminish the presidency, creating an executive who serves at the sufferance of Congress. But defenders of executive prerogatives should be the first to recognize that the presidency has more to gain than to lose from Trump’s impeachment. After a century in which the office accumulated awesome power, Trump has done more to weaken executive authority than any recent president. The judiciary now regards Trump’s orders with a jaundiced eye, creating precedents that will constrain his successors. His own political appointees boast to reporters, or brag in anonymous op-eds, that they routinely work to counter his policies. Congress is contemplating actions on trade and defense that will hem in the president. His opponents repeatedly aim at the man but hit the office.

Democrats’ fear—that impeachment will backfire on them—is likewise unfounded. The mistake Republicans made in impeaching Bill Clinton wasn’t a matter of timing. They identified real and troubling misconduct—then applied the wrong remedy to fix it. Clinton’s acts disgraced the presidency, and his lies under oath and efforts to obstruct the investigation may well have been crimes. The question that determines whether an act is impeachable, though, is whether it endangers American democracy. As a House Judiciary Committee staff report put it in 1974, in the midst of the Watergate investigation: “The purpose of impeachment is not personal punishment; its function is primarily to maintain constitutional government.” Impeachable offenses, it found, included “undermining the integrity of office, disregard of constitutional duties and oath of office, arrogation of power, abuse of the governmental process, adverse impact on the system of government.”

Trump’s bipartisan critics are not merely arguing that he has lied or dishonored the presidency. The most serious allegations against him ultimately rest on the charge that he is attacking the bedrock of American democracy. That is the situation impeachment was devised to address.

After the House impeaches a president, the Constitution requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate to remove him from office. Opponents of impeachment point out that, despite the greater severity of the prospective charges against Trump, there is little reason to believe the Senate is more likely to remove him than it was to remove Clinton. Indeed, the Senate’s Republican majority has shown little will to break with the president—though that may change. The process of impeachment itself is likely to shift public opinion, both by highlighting what’s already known and by bringing new evidence to light. If Trump’s support among Republican voters erodes, his support in the Senate may do the same. One lesson of Richard Nixon’s impeachment is that when legislators conclude a presidency is doomed, they can switch allegiances in the blink of an eye.

But this sort of vote-counting, in any case, misunderstands the point of impeachment. The question of whether impeachment is justified should not be confused with the question of whether it is likely to succeed in removing a president from office. The country will benefit greatly regardless of how the Senate ultimately votes. Even if the impeachment of Donald Trump fails to produce a conviction in the Senate, it can safeguard the constitutional order from a president who seeks to undermine it.

Today, the United States once more confronts a president who seems to care for only some of the people he represents, who promises his supporters that he can roll back the tide of diversity, who challenges the rule of law, and who regards constitutional rights and liberties as disposable. Congress must again decide whether the greater risk lies in executing the Constitution as it was written, or in deferring to voters to do what it cannot muster the courage to do itself. The gravest danger facing the country is not a Congress that seeks to measure the president against his oath—it is a president who fails to measure up to that solemn promise.

Full Yoni Applebaum

Really the questions are- “How much Criminality will the United States tolerate from a Republican? Is Treason enough?”

We already know the answer for a Democrat. All it takes is a consensual Blowjob.

Jan 18 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

Paul Krugman: The Real Governments of Blue America

Officially, a big part of the federal government shut down late last month. In important ways, however, America’s government went AWOL almost two years earlier, when Donald Trump was inaugurated.

After all, politicians supposedly seek office in order to get stuff done — to tackle real problems and implement solutions. But neither Trump, who spends his energy inventing crises at the border, nor the Republicans who controlled Congress for two years have done any of that. Their only major legislative achievement was a tax cut that blew up the deficit without, as far as anyone can tell, doing anything to enhance the economy’s long-run growth prospects.

Meanwhile, there has been no hint of the infrastructure plan Trump promised to deliver. And after many years of denouncing Obamacare and promising to provide a far better replacement, Republicans turned out to have no idea how to do that, and in particular no plan to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions.

Why can’t Republicans govern? It’s not just that their party is committed to an ideology that says that government is always the problem, never the solution. Beyond that, they have systematically deprived themselves of the ability to analyze policies and learn from evidence, because hard thinking might lead someone to question received doctrine.

Eugene Robinson: Nancy Pelosi steals the spotlight

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is driving President Trump nuts — a very short drive indeed — by doing something he simply cannot abide: She’s stealing the spotlight.

She is also seizing the initiative in the trench warfare over Trump’s government shutdown and his imaginary border wall, audaciously telling the president that the State of the Union address should be postponed, or perhaps forgone altogether, for reasons of security. It would be both unfair and unwise to ask Secret Service agents and other officers to protect the VIP-packed event, she contends, while they are not being paid their salaries. Trump retaliated Thursday by denying Pelosi military aircraft for her planned trip to Brussels and Afghanistan.

Pelosi’s play was a stiletto -sharp reminder of how much power she wields — and an illustration of how deftly she is wielding it. Democrats who demanded new leadership in the House should be thankful that they didn’t get their wish. It is hard to imagine anyone better matched to the moment and the task.

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Jan 18 2019

Slam Dunk

WaPo paraphrased-

Senator Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.): If Unidicted Co-Conspirator Bottomless Pinocchio tried to coach somebody not to testify, or testify falsely, would that be a crime?

Attorney General Nominee William P. Barr: Yes.

Slam Dunk. Of course it has been since the Lester Holt interview after Comey’s firing where he said this

Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it

And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself — I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.

And when he told the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak this

I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job, I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off. I’m not under investigation.

Today the buzz (hah, I am sooo punny) is about this-

President Trump Directed His Attorney Michael Cohen To Lie To Congress About The Moscow Tower Project
by Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier, BuzzFeed News
January 17, 2019

President Donald Trump directed his longtime attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, according to two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter.

Trump also supported a plan, set up by Cohen, to visit Russia during the presidential campaign, in order to personally meet President Vladimir Putin and jump-start the tower negotiations. “Make it happen,” the sources said Trump told Cohen.

And even as Trump told the public he had no business deals with Russia, the sources said Trump and his children, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr., received regular, detailed updates about the real estate development from Cohen, whom they put in charge of the project.

(T)he two sources have told BuzzFeed News that Cohen also told the special counsel that after the election, the president personally instructed him to lie — by claiming that negotiations ended months earlier than they actually did — in order to obscure Trump’s involvement.

The special counsel’s office learned about Trump’s directive for Cohen to lie to Congress through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents. Cohen then acknowledged those instructions during his interviews with that office.

This revelation is not the first evidence to suggest the president may have attempted to obstruct the FBI and special counsel investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

But Cohen’s testimony marks a significant new frontier: It is the first known example of Trump explicitly telling a subordinate to lie directly about his own dealings with Russia.

A spokesperson for the Office of Special Counsel declined to comment.

Cohen also declined comment — but the law enforcement sources familiar with his testimony to the special counsel said he had confirmed that Trump directed him to lie to Congress, and also that he had provided details of his conversations about the project with the president and Ivanka and Donald Jr.

Those three members of the Trump family have distanced themselves from the Moscow project, saying that they had little knowledge of the negotiations. But a picture of their deep involvement is now emerging, as FBI agents and prosecutors pore over witness interviews and internal documents from Cohen and other Trump Organization officials and executives.

Trump was even made aware that Cohen was speaking to Russian government officials about the deal. The lawyer at one point spoke to a Kremlin aide as he sought support for the tower.

Trump also encouraged Cohen to plan a trip to Russia during the campaign, where the candidate could meet face-to-face with Putin.

Ivanka Trump was slated to manage a spa at the tower and personally recommended an architect. She also instructed Cohen to speak with a Russian athlete who offered “synergy on a government level” to get the Moscow project off the ground, in another aspect of the deal first revealed by BuzzFeed News that later was affirmed by the special counsel’s sentencing memo. Cohen rebuffed the athlete’s proposal, which angered Ivanka Trump, according to emails reviewed by BuzzFeed News.

A spokesperson for Ivanka Trump’s attorney wrote that she was only “minimally involved” in the project. “Ms. Trump did not know about this proposal until after a non-binding letter of intent had been signed, never talked to anyone outside the Organization about the proposal, never visited the prospective project site and, even internally, was only minimally involved,” wrote Peter Mirijanian.

Donald Trump Jr., meanwhile, testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 7, 2017, that he was only “peripherally aware” of the plan to build a tower in Moscow. “Most of my knowledge has been gained since as it relates to hearing about it over the last few weeks.”

The two law enforcement sources disputed this characterization and said that he and Cohen had multiple, detailed conversations on this subject during the campaign.

Cohen will testify publicly before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Feb. 7.

There was immediate reaction-

And more considered reaction-

Mueller might finally have a smoking gun
By Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post
January 18, 2019

President Trump once joked that he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and still retain the support of his base. That proposition may soon be tested.

No one has a real understanding of “collusion,” because it is a non-legal, vague term. A conspiracy can be complicated, hard to prove. “Suborning perjury,” a phrase known to anyone who’s watched “Law & Order,” is specific and simple.

In this case, if the report is accurate, the charge of suborning perjury would not rest merely on former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen’s testimony. (“BuzzFeed says that Mueller’s office has more evidence than just Cohen’s testimony that Trump directed him to lie to Congress. Per the report, Cohen’s testimony is backed up by ‘interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents.’”) Trump’s hapless TV attorney Rudy Giuliani can smear Cohen all he likes; multiple witnesses and documents are not so easily dismissed. Moreover, one has to wonder if this conversation — like the discussion about former Playboy model Karen McDougal — was taped.

The question then is not if such action was illegal, or if it is impeachable, but if it can be proved. None other than Graham told us in the Bill Clinton impeachment proceedings in the House that we simply cannot allow a perjurer to remain in office:

The assertion that Senate Republicans would never break with Trump and never vote to impeach has rested primarily on the assumption that the evidence would never be so conclusive and the crime would never be so serious that senators would lack excuses to avoid conviction. All of that goes out the window if multiple pieces of evidence demonstrate Trump suborned perjury. At that point, public opinion may present Republicans with a choice: Get Trump out of office now, or we’ll vote all of you out in 2020.

I think Bill Clinton didn’t even commit perjury much less suborn it. ‘Is’ can mean a variety of things depending on context, it is the dialectal present tense first-person and third-person singular of ‘to be’ and one of the most common words in the English language (‘the’ #1, ‘a’ #2).

But you you know, consensual sodomy albeit with a super creepy power dynamic is faaar more important than TREASON!

Jan 18 2019

Cartnoon

What Collusion?

Stephen

Seth

Jan 18 2019

The Breakfast Club (Born Ignorant)

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

Soviet Union breaks WWII Leningrad siege; Robert F. Scott reaches South Pole; Boston Strangler suspect Albert de Salvo convicted.

Breakfast Tunes

Carol Channing (January 31, 1921 – January 15, 2019)

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.

Benjamin Franklin

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Jan 17 2019

Now THAT’S Some Fancy Trolling

The New York Times

Dear Mr. President:

On January 3rd, it was my privilege as Speaker to invite you to deliver the State of the Union address on January 29th. The Constitution calls for the President to “from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union.” During the 19th Century and up until the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, these annual State of the Union messages were delivered to Congress in writing. And since the start of modern budgeting in Fiscal Year 1977, a State of the Union address has never been delivered during a government shutdown.

In September 2018, Secretary Nielsen designated State of the Union Addresses as National Special Security Events (NSSEs), recognizing the need for “the full resources of the Federal Government to be brought to bear” to ensure the security of these events. The extraordinary demands presented by NSSEs require weeks of detailed planning with dozens of agencies working together to prepare for the safety of all participants.

The U.S. Secret Service was designated as the lead federal agency responsible for coordinating, planning, exercising, and implementing security for National Special Security Events by Public Law 106-544, December 19, 2000. However, both the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security have not been funded for 26 days now — with critical departments hamstrung by furloughs.

Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on January 29th.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

NANCY PELOSI
Speaker of the House
January 16, 2019

Couldn’t have done it better myself.

Now, does she have the power to do this? Oh my yes. Members of the Executive Branch (with the exception of the Vice President who is also President of the Senate) can only speak to members of either Chamber by invitation. Of course they can extend that privilege to anyone they want, as the did with Winston Churchill.

Unidicted Co-conspirator Bottomless Pinocchio is no Churchill (though Winnie was terribly misguided in other ways he was legitimately viewed as a great hero of WW II, moderately competent, and could speak in complete sentences and paragraphs).

The other thing about it is that Joint Sessions of Congress, which the State of the Union is delivered to, can only be called by mutual agreement of Senate and House Majority Leadership. Nancy says no? It ain’t happening. Also they are typically held in the House Chamber because the Senate is simply not big enough to accommodate 435 extra people plus a ton of guests. Speaker Pelosi is within her rights to order the Sargent at Arms for the House and the Capitol Hill Police to lock the door and turn out the lights.

Oh, it sucks to be Unidicted Co-conspirator Bottomless Pinocchio tonight. Of course he craves attention more than anything and to take away his Public Fawning Ritual is like taking a Smartphone away from a teenager.

“Daddy! Mommy is being so unfair!”

Not only that, because Unidicted Co-conspirator Bottomless Pinocchio can neither read nor write it was being crafted by the Racist Steve Miller as a 45 minute pitch to blame Democrats for the Shutdown and I’m sure it would have gone just as well as the 12/11/18 meeting.

If we don’t get what we want one way or the other, whether it’s through you, through a military, through anything you want to call, I will shut down the government, absolutely.

And I’ll tell you what, I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck, because the people of this country don’t want criminals and people that have lots of problems, and drugs pouring into our country.

So I will take the mantle. I will be the to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it. The last time you shut it down it didn’t work. I will take the mantle of shutting down, and I’m going to shut it down for border security.

Or the 1/9/19 meeting where Unidicted Co-conspirator Bottomless Pinocchio screamed at Nancy and Chuck for about 20 minutes and then banged his teeny tiny little hands on the table and stomped out, slamming the door behind him so you could tell exactly how pissed off he was that his tantrum didn’t get him what he wanted. Republicans tried to deny it but while they were busy lying (literally at the very same time) Unidicted Co-conspirator Bottomless Pinocchio was busy Twitting-

Just left a meeting with Chuck and Nancy, a total waste of time. I asked what is going to happen in 30 days if I quickly open things up, are you going to approve Border Security which includes a Wall or Steel Barrier? Nancy said, NO. I said bye-bye, nothing else works!

Or the 8 minute Prime Time Address he had to beg for which was a mere re-hash of his standard stump rant sandwiched like a squirt of sugared lard between 2 crunchy fund raising appeals. It was as bad as an Oreo. Funny thing that as bad and stiff as they were Nancy and Chuck beat him in the Ratings.

Unidicted Co-conspirator Bottomless Pinocchio is losing this debate, badly. Our old buddy poblano says-

“Trump’s approval ratings had been steady at about 42 percent for several months before the shutdown. Since then, they’ve been declining at a fairly linear rate of about half a point for every week that the shutdown has been underway, while his disapproval rating has increased by half a point per week,” he explained.

Silver noted the 2020 election is still a long way off, but said, “there are some reasons for Trump and Republicans to worry that the shutdown could have both short- and long-term downsides.”

Trump could be in the worst political position of his presidency by March.

“For one thing, there’s no particular sign that the shutdown is set to end any time soon. And if the decline in Trump’s approval rating were to continue at the same rate that it has so far, it would take his political standing from bad to worse,” he explained. “By Jan. 29, for example, the day that Trump was originally set to deliver the State of the Union address before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi disinvited him from addressing Congress, his approval rating would be 39.3 percent, and his disapproval rating would be 55.9 percent.”

“By March 1, at which point funding for federal food stamps could run out, his approval rating and disapproval rating would be 36.9 percent and 58.4 percent, respectively, roughly matching the lowest point of his presidency so far,” he noted.

Silver also said that the shutdown may be harming Trump with Capitol Hill Republicans.

“Congressional Republicans are not a group Trump can easily afford to lose. They have a lot of power to check Trump’s presidency, from modest measures such as treating his Cabinet nominations with more scrutiny to extreme ones like supporting his impeachment and removal from office,” he reminded.

Silver also noted, “the shutdown has prompted Trump to double down on his all-base, all-the-time strategy.”

“The lesson of the midterms, in my view, was fairly clear: Trump’s base isn’t enough,” he concluded. “Despite some initial attempts at reaching out to the center, such as in passing a criminal justice bill in December and issuing trial balloons about an infrastructure package, Trump’s strategy of shutting down the government to insist on a border wall was aimed at placating his critics on the right, such as Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, and members of the House Freedom Caucus.”

Taken together, 2020 may look more like the 2018 midterms than the 2016 election when Trump won the Electoral College despite losing the popular vote.

“In the midterms, voting closely tracked Trump’s approval ratings, and he paid the price for his unpopularity,” he reminded.

Brilliant! The Shutdown is also tanking the Economy (over and above Unidicted Co-conspirator Bottomless Pinocchio’s ignorant Tariffs).

Shutdown’s Economic Damage Starts to Pile Up, Threatening an End to Growth
By Jim Tankersley, The New York Times
Jan. 15, 2019

The partial government shutdown is inflicting far greater damage on the United States economy than previously estimated, the White House acknowledged on Tuesday, as President Trump’s economists doubled projections of how much economic growth is being lost each week the standoff with Democrats continues.

The revised estimates from the Council of Economic Advisers show that the shutdown, now in its fourth week, is beginning to have real economic consequences. The analysis, and other projections from outside the White House, suggests that the shutdown has already weighed significantly on growth and could ultimately push the United States economy into a contraction.

While Vice President Mike Pence previously played down the shutdown’s effects amid a “roaring” economy, White House officials are now cautioning Mr. Trump about the toll it could take on a sustained economic expansion. Mr. Trump, who has hitched his political success to the economy, also faces other economic headwinds, including slowing global growth, a trade war with China and the waning effects of a $1.5 trillion tax cut.

For now, the White House shows no signs of being ready to relent, and Kevin Hassett, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, continued to blame Democrats for the economic damage.

“Congress needs to look at the harms that we’re talking about,” Mr. Hassett said, “and address them.”

Mr. Hassett said on Tuesday that the administration now calculates that the shutdown reduces quarterly economic growth by 0.13 percentage points for every week that it lasts — the cumulative effect of lost work from contractors and furloughed federal employees who are not getting paid and who are investing and spending less as a result. That means that the economy has already lost nearly half a percentage point of growth from the four-week shutdown. (Last year, economic growth for the first quarter totaled 2.2 percent.)

Tired of winning yet?

Nancy Pelosi Is Winning
by Peter Beinart, The Atlantic
1/16/19

(H)igh-minded centrists are urging Pelosi and the Democrats to compromise. “Rather than talk about the immorality of a wall,” The Washington Post recently urged, “Democrats could use their leverage to achieve a truly moral purpose. In return for a few billion dollars for a segment of the president’s wall … Democrats might permanently shield from deportation well over 1 million ‘dreamers.’” A recent Bloomberg editorial scolded Democrats for wanting “to deny the other [side] anything that might be portrayed as a victory,” and warned that “the only alternative to compromise, now that power in Washington is more equally divided, is paralysis.”

But Pelosi knows that the alternative to Democratic compromise isn’t necessarily paralysis. It may be Democratic triumph. Trump, like Bush, has picked a fight that is popular with conservatives but unpopular with the public at large. Most Americans don’t think there’s a border crisis, don’t support a border wall, and blame Trump for the shutdown. As a result, Republican members of Congress are under more political pressure to back down than their Democratic counterparts, and the longer the shutdown continues, the more that pressure should grow. For the time being, at least, conservative opposition has forced Trump to shelve talk of declaring a national emergency. All of which means that the most likely outcome to the current standoff is that Trump caves. And since the wall was Trump’s signature campaign promise, such a retreat could depress conservative enthusiasm and impair his chances in 2020. “If he gives in,” Lindsey Graham recently warned, “that’s probably the end of his presidency.”

That’s what Pelosi is aiming for. In pure policy terms, there’s a case for compromise. Arguably, it’s worth wasting a few billion dollars on a border wall to safeguard the “Dreamers” who are stuck in an agonizing legal limbo. But Pelosi is focused on something bigger: the emasculation of the president. For years, Democrats have wondered when their leaders would start playing tough. Turns out Pelosi has been doing so all along.

Unidicted Co-conspirator Bottomless Pinocchio has decided to throw another tantrum, canceling a Congressional Delegation visit of both Republicans and Democrats to visit troops in Afghanistan (the stopover in Brussels is to refuel and consult the NATO Commanders who invoked their mutual defense responsibilities under the North Atlantic Charter to assist us against the Taliban and Al Quaida in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attack on the territory of the Continental United States, the only time in the 70 year existence of the organization it has been, the Egyptian component is simply a lie).

Of course it was secret. Afghanistan is a War Zone! Of course they can’t fly commercial. AFGHANISTAN IS A WAR ZONE!

Pelosi and the Democrats will not be swayed. Unidicted Co-conspirator Bottomless Pinocchio’s only choice is complete capitulation and blaming it on Mitch McConnell.

Even that will not save him from Mueller’s net and his litany of lies.

Jan 17 2019

No Collusion! No Collusion!

Oops.

Well, “hacking the DNC” (Theft) is not the only crime here. Campaign Finance Violations, Treason and Espionage, Tax Fraud, Bank Fraud, Plain Old Fraud, Money Laundering, Lying Under Oath, Perjury, Suborning Perjury, Obstruction of Justice, and Abuse of Power to name only a few.

The correct word is “Conspiracy” and damn right it’s a crime.

Giuliani’s absurd ‘collusion’ walkback signals serious worry about Trump’s vulnerability
By Greg Sargent, Washington Post
January 17, 2019

Everybody is having a grand old time with Rudy Giuliani’s buffoonish new comments on CNN about President Trump and “collusion” with Russia. But beyond the obvious comic relief here, Giuliani’s appearance potentially signals two important things: First, serious worry about Trump’s vulnerability; and second, the beginnings of an endgame to save him.

In an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Wednesday night, Giuliani was pressed on the news that former campaign chairman Paul Manafort allegedly shared polling data with an operative tied to Russian intelligence. Cuomo noted that there is already ample evidence that Trump campaign members committed “collusion” with Russian efforts to sabotage the election on Trump’s behalf.

“I never said there was no collusion between the campaign, or between people in the campaign,” Giuliani responded. “I said the president of the United States. There is not a single bit of evidence the president of the United States committed the only crime you could commit here: conspiring with the Russians to hack the DNC.”

“The president did not collude with the Russians,” Giuliani continued. He then said, preposterously, that Trump has not actually claimed that “nobody” on his campaign conspired with Russia. Trump has, of course, said “NO COLLUSION” countless times.

Indeed, Trump’s team has repeatedly said the campaign did not conspire with Russia, or has dramatically downplayed the meaning of it, as Aaron Blake’s timeline shows. So this is a real shift: Giuliani now acknowledges that it’s perfectly possible members of Trump’s campaign did engage in conspiracy.

Neal Katyal told me that this appears to be a tacit admission of serious vulnerability — as well as an effort to lay the groundwork for a last-ditch defense of Trump, should more come out. It also makes the nonstop claims that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is leading a “witch hunt” look ridiculous.

“They’ve been saying for two years that this is a witch hunt,” Katyal told me. “As a lawyer, given the recent revelations, Giuliani now has to pivot and outline the next line of defense.”

“This is straight out of the organized-crime playbook,” Katyal continued. “The boss says, ‘There was no conspiracy.’ Then prosecutors prove there was a conspiracy between your subordinates and a criminal organization. Then the defense shifts to, ‘Okay, there was a conspiracy, but the boss didn’t know anything about it.’”

To be clear, we’re presuming here that Giuliani said these things for a reason. We can’t know this — he is prone to strange and inexplicable outbursts — but if he did, it points to an endgame that Giuliani may be mulling for Trump.

Bob Bauer, the White House counsel under former president Barack Obama, told me that Giuliani “must have some continuing hope” that Mueller cannot prove Trump knew about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, which Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Manafort attended in the expectation of gaining dirt on Hillary Clinton produced by the Russian government.

In recent days, new revelations have surfaced. We have learned that after Trump fired James B. Comey as FBI director, the FBI launched a separate investigation into whether Trump was actively working on behalf of Russian interests. We now know Trump went to extraordinary lengths to conceal his communications with Russian President Vladimir Putin, even shielding them from his own top advisers.

We have also learned that Mueller is closely scrutinizing whether Trump was directly informed by longtime adviser Roger Stone of the latter’s advance knowledge of a coming dump of Russian-hacked Democratic emails.

If Mueller determines that the Trump Tower meeting constituted conspiracy, or if more comes out about that meeting or about other collusion we’ve already seen, or if still other conspiring that we don’t know about yet surfaces, Trump’s team will have to build a wall between that and Trump himself — which Giuliani is now doing.

“The insulation of Trump from the campaign is meant to remove him from the circle of any illegal conspiracy,” Bauer told me, adding that Giuliani is moving “to narrow the defense against collusion by arguing that the president is not responsible for what his campaign did.”

But this is a weak defense. It still remains to be seen what Trump knew about all the collusion, whether or not he actively participated in it. And we still don’t know what else Mueller has established. Giuliani’s defense signals he might be worried that still more is coming.

“If you’re the head of an organization, and you’re aware that your associates are conspiring, even if you weren’t the one doing the conspiring you could face criminal liability for it,” Katyal said. “Right now we have only the tip of the iceberg from Mueller. Giuliani may be starting to float a new defense in the event that there’s more damaging information on the conspiracy front coming out.”

Giuliani’s new comments also signal the coming political defense for Trump. Whether or not Mueller ends up indicting, should he clearly establish conspiracy by members of Trump’s campaign, it could prove politically devastating. Giuliani has now signaled this is a real possibility. He is “drawing a tight line around Trump,” Bauer noted. “Since Mueller is unlikely to indict, the defense is against impeachment.”

As an afterthought, you’d think that Giuliani’s new tacit admission that Trump campaign members very well may have committed collusion would put an end to all the screams of “witch hunt.” Of course, Giuliani and Trump will continue describing the Mueller probe as just that, and the obvious absurdity of this won’t trouble Trump’s supporters in the least.

Unindicted Co-conspirator Bottomless Pinocchio, his Family, his Company, and his Foundation are thoroughly corrupt and should be charged, tried, and convicted under the RICO statutes for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations.

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