Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Fredos of the trump Mafia Have Lost Their Henchmen To the Feds

Goddammit I promised I was going to cut back on blogging due to personal crises I have to manage and THIS SHIT happens.

It has the keywords "Florida Man" in it. AS A FLORIDIAN I AM COMPELLED TO COMMENT.


Let's go into a little more detail, via Brad Reed at Raw Story:

Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, the two henchmen who helped Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani arrange meetings with Ukrainian officials, have been accused of taking money from an unidentified Russian businessman and illegally funneling it to Republican candidates.
In the indictment released by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, Parnas and Fruman are alleged to have “conspired to make political donations” to political candidates using money provided by a person identified only as “Foreign National-1.”
According to the indictment, this individual “is a foreign national Russian citizen and businessman who, at all relevant times, was not a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States.”
Parnas, Fruman and their associates used the money from this Russian national to donate to political candidates who were in positions to help them set up a medical marijuana business, SDNY alleges...

These acts do violate election laws regarding foreign funding.

The fun stuff happened when the news got out that the two men - let's call them Rudy Henchman 1 and Rudy Henchman 2 - were arrested at Dulles International Airport, attempting to flee the country. The reason for fleeing either had to do with avoiding testifying before Congress on their role in Rudy's Ukraine scandal-shopping, or with these charges that someone may have tipped them off about the day before...

Let's stick to Raw Story this time to Sarah Burris' article:

The two foreign-born men who have been helping President Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani find dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his family were indicted and arrested early this morning while at Dulles Airport just west of Washington, D.C.
According to MSNBC, the men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were on an outbound international flight attempting to flee the country...

I had 50 cents on it them fleeing to Morocco - the closest nation without extradition to the U.S. - but it seems one was heading to Frankfurt and the other was heading to San Francisco to get a connecting flight to Asia by the looks of it.

Anyways, let me refresh this: BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

I really don't want to be blogging tonight. I've got other things to do, baseball to watch - GO RAYS - and NaNo projects to line up. It's just... the whole madness of this plot twist - this ongoing criminal conspiracy of a mob family getting dumber and more reckless as the law gets closer to tagging and bagging them - required comment.

If I gotta quote from the mob movie classics, I gotta go with this...

Fredos everywhere, man.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

One Sentence About trump's Betrayal of Syria Kurds to Turkey

That goddamn Shitgibbon - with one phone call with Turkey's brutal despot Erdogan and most likely urged on by his overlord Putin - just betrayed an entire region full of ethnic Kurds - who have been the United States' most consistent ally in the Middle East because they are desperate for their own homeland that Turkey Iraq Iran and Russia would like to never see happen - and is likely cheering on the destruction of entire cities all because the Shitgibbon owns properties in Turkey and he's making blood money off of all that.

Actually I got another sentence here, and that's me hoping to God this eternal Shitgibbon gets impeached within the next 24 hours before he can cause more damage to our foreign allies and national security.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

The Reasons I Haven't Been Blogging Much and Probably Won't For October

For all the madness happening with trump's growing Ukraine scandal and the impeachment inquiry that finally triggered because it, and for all the stuff happening with Brexit that deserves attention, along with fifty other things ranging from climate change to police brutality to civil rights to protecting families from trump's ICE thugs...

I just can't keep up right now.

Work has been a mess for some time since 2018 when I got tabbed to serve as interim library director and coping with juggling two job duties at one time.

There's National Novel Writing Month coming up in November, and due to circumstances I had to take over as ML again which is tying up my free time.

And... I'm coping with some medical issues that's requiring me to focus on visiting doctors and maybe even getting prepped for surgery. I might talk about it later when I get a chance.

Simply, I'm just tired. I need a break of some kind. I'm sorry.

So for now, October is going to have to be a quiet month for me.

If something insane or dire that requires comment comes up, I may post something then.

Until then... well... wish me luck.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Not Very Bright Guys Getting Caught

The truth is, these are not very bright guys, and things got out of hand...
- Deep Throat in All the President's Men, talking about Nixon's underlings responsible for the encompassing Watergate scandals.

Hold our beer.
- trump's underlings responsible for all the shit coming out now

The revelations today have been dropping on about an hourly basis, people. I can't keep up.

I have to keep referring to Balloon Juice and even that crew can't keep up. The best I can do is refer to John Cole's take here:

Every now and then you see a story on News of the Weird or something else about a really stupid criminal who shows up to their DUI sentencing drunk or brings an ounce of coke with them to their sentencing for intent to deliver, and you say to yourself, “How fucking stupid is this guy?”

He then quotes the New York Times article getting his Irish oop:

President Trump pushed the Australian prime minister during a recent telephone call to help Attorney General William P. Barr gather information for a Justice Department inquiry that Mr. Trump hopes will discredit the Mueller investigation, according to two American officials with knowledge of the call.
The White House restricted access to the call’s transcript to a small group of the president’s aides, one of the officials said, an unusual decision that is similar to the handling of a July call with the Ukrainian president that is at the heart of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump. Like that call, the discussion with Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia shows the extent to which Mr. Trump sees the attorney general as a critical partner in his goal to show that the Mueller investigation had corrupt and partisan origins, and the extent that Mr. Trump sees the Justice Department inquiry as a potential way to gain leverage over America’s closest allies.

And then Cole updated his post to include this:

Jesus Christ, I literally just posted this and this showed up on my news feed:
Attorney General William P. Barr has held private meetings overseas with foreign intelligence officials seeking their help in a Justice Department inquiry that President Trump hopes will discredit U.S. intelligence agencies’ examination of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the matter.
Barr’s personal involvement is likely to stoke further criticism from Democrats pursuing impeachment that he is helping the Trump administration use executive branch powers to augment investigations aimed primarily at the president’s adversaries.

We got Barr not only implicated by trump's own statements trying to interfere and discredit the intelligence / security agencies our nation relies on, but he's been documented meeting with foreign agencies to do just that. It's a twofer: Barr can't deny one and ignore the other.

Our own Attorney General is trump's most trusted foot soldier in committing crimes against our own nation. How the hell can he be allowed to stay in office one second longer?

And Barr's just the newest recruit, he's barely been at his job since February (!). Just think of all the other idiots getting caught doing trump's dirty work - Pence, Giuliani, Pompeo, Mulvaney - have been at it for years. And we're not even talking about the guys who already got caught and pled out to jail time like Michael Cohen.

These were not very bright guys...

I grew up reading Doonesbury - much to my father's horrified chagrin - and while I was a child during the Watergate years I had no memory of it. I relied on understanding the events in hindsight, trying to learn how in real time the nation handled a national crisis like that, and Trudeau's coverage helped me come to terms with some of it.

In this moment, today, all the madness being unleashed, I thought of this strip:

from July 23, 1974
Just like Popehat tweeted: if only these bastards were caught dealing blue meth, this would be so much easier to deal with...

None of this is defensible. None of this can be waved away. Our nation's highest offices are not only filled with crooks, those crooks are idiots.

This is more than just kakistocracy. This is malignant stupidity that usually gets people killed.

We are so very royally extremely godforsakeningly fucked.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Why The Republican Party is Dead To Me, and Why It Needs To Crash and Burn Forever

As the revelations into the Ukraine scandal expose more of the depths of trump's eternal corruption, it's also exposing why a once-respected political party has devolved into the cranks, conspiracy nuts, thieves, and violent extremists eager to promote any act of evil.

There's a reason why trump flourished as a con artist in the Republican Party: The GOP was already consumed by its own rot. Let me refer to Adam Serwer's piece in the Atlantic (warning, they use a paywall now):

What the Framers may not have contemplated, however, is the extent to which a demagogue is capable of convincing his supporters that the president and the people are one and the same, and therefore, the president is incapable of betraying the people, because he is their purest expression made flesh. Trump is but a crass distillation of this anti-democratic idea, but if it were not deeply rooted in the Republican Party, he could never have ascended to its leadership.
Already, Republicans have sought to dismiss Trump’s explicit attempt to extort a foreign leader into criminalizing a political rival by denying that the summary of the call shows what it shows. Republican legislators believe there is nothing the president could do to lose the support of the people who put them in office, and so there is no political benefit to acknowledging his misconduct, even though they would immediately demand the impeachment or resignation of any Democratic president who did the same thing. In the 1990s, Republicans impeached Bill Clinton over his false denials of sexual impropriety; they would not hesitate to impeach a Democratic president who withheld foreign aid to extract a smear of his Republican rivals.

This is the "If Obama Did X, Republicans Would Go Apeshit" theory. Republicans don't mind their own committing crimes and sins that the GOP would accuse Democrats of committing. The hypocrisy of it reeks but Republicans seem to enjoy the smell. Back to Serwer:

But behind this unfailing submission to Trump also lie more troubling influences. As the parties have become more racially polarized, and the Republican Party has become more exclusively white and Christian, Republicans have begun to think of themselves as the only genuinely legitimate actors in the polity. This is why Republicans draw districts that hand them more offices even when they fail to win a majority of the votes; it is why Republican legislatures strip Democratic executives of their powers when the electorate foils their efforts to rig elections in their favor; it is why the Trump administration attempted a fraudulent scheme to use the census to diminish the influence of minority voters relative to white voters; it is why Republicans seek to pass laws intended to suppress minority votes; it is why every night on Fox News, viewers hear one host after another outline deranged conspiracies about how Democrats want to steal America from its rightful white owners through demographic change...
The Republican belief that their opposition is inherently illegitimate is one reason it does not matter to many Republicans that Trump’s allegations that Biden sought to get a Ukrainian prosecutor fired to prevent his son from being investigated are baseless. As CNN’s Daniel Dale has documented, there is no public evidence that Hunter Biden was ever himself under investigation; the prosecutor whose firing Biden called for as vice president was widely considered corrupt; the investigation Biden supposedly shut down was “dormant” at the time Biden expressed the view of the Obama administration that the prosecutor should be fired; and the reason world leaders, including Barack Obama, were demanding his firing in the first place was that he was failing to investigate corruption in Ukraine, not that he was being prevented from doing so. As my colleague David Graham writes, “Biden’s pressure to install a tougher prosecutor probably made it more likely, not less, that Burisma would be in the cross hairs.”
Attempting to use one’s official powers for private gain is the most basic definition of corruption. Yet because the base of the Republican Party believes itself to be the only legitimate expression of popular will, whether or not its members constitute an actual majority of the electorate, it does not matter what Trump’s motives are. Much of the Republican base believes, as Trump does, that loyalty to the country and loyalty to himself are one and the same. Therefore, nothing Trump could do is corrupt, and even using his official powers for personal gain is an act of selfless patriotism. In this warped view, attempting to extort foreign countries into attacking his political rivals is not a betrayal of his responsibilities as president; it is the fullest expression of them.
Unless Republican support for Trump craters, Republican legislators will not turn against him. And Republican support for Trump cannot crater as long as many Republicans view their political rivals as illegitimate political actors rather than fellow citizens...

This - the failure to recognize and accept all Americans as part of this wide and diverse nation, the hatred for minorities and dread Other that consumed the GOP's collective heart - is one of the big reasons why I fled the Republican Party after 2000... Well after 1992 actually, but it took awhile to move myself to change voter affiliation. McCain during the 2000 primaries was the last Republican I ever supported.

This is why I've been screaming for more than a decade now for people to stop voting Republican. You're not voting for am honest political party when you do. You're not voting for an ideology worth supporting. You'll be voting for a corrupt criminal conspiracy of its own, raised on its own self-serving desires to seize all it can and punish everyone else through rage and destruction.

Gods help us. Until a majority of Americans wake up to the fact that Republicans are corrupt and at war with fellow Americans, this will get worse.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

How We Got to the Darkest Timeline in 2019

Just remember these fun little facts, boys and girls.

Before all this madness, trump was a multiple-bankrupted business failure.

trump was caught committing various acts of fraud.

trump was sexually assaulting women and bragging about it.

trump lied and kept lying.

trump and his cronies were a goddamned criminal conspiracy going in to the White House.

And they've gotten worse the last three years.

And the Republican Party trump represents?

The Republicans have no moral qualms about supporting this goddamn crook.

That's why we are where we are tonight as a nation.

Goddamn every trump voter and every Republican pandering to this bastard.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The Clown Living On Credit Driving the Car Off the Cliff

trump is a Clown living on credit
- quoted to Rick Wilson by a hedge fund manager

The last 48 hours - especially in the period since Pelosi agreed to let the House begin impeachment proceedings - have been a bit hectic and it's nearly impossible to write it all down because any minute now the shit can get crazier, but pretty much I can boil it down to this:

What the ever-fucking hell did trump and his idiots do now?

If you're following me you better be reading Balloon Juice, and I can tell you this day alone has been one of the craziest I've ever seen on there.

Mistermix's New Strategy: Admit Everything where trump pretty much just... tweeted everything out.

David Anderson's Unleash the Lawyers

The moment when it turned into farce: Mistermix's What a Bunch of Dumbshits when the White House emailed the House Democrats the Republicans' talking points (and then tried to recall that email).

I skipped over the grizzly bear fight because that's normal. The rest of this shit wasn't normal.

Betty Cracker's review of trump's flop sweat: "Lost Mustard! Naked Mopping! Suburu in a Field!"

Trump abused presidential power on live TV today in a press conference with Ukrainian President Zelensky, reiterating demands for investigations of the Bidens on camera. But that’s not even the crazy part. He also said on live TV that he thinks Ukraine has the 33K emails deleted from Hillary Clinton’s server, that the DNC server is located in Ukraine and possibly Ukraine has the remains of Amelia Earhart.
Okay, I made the Amelia Earhart part up, but seriously, he just started blurting out wingnut conspiracy theories to an uncomprehending world. It would be as if you were on global TV, saw a green balloon and started ranting about lost mustard, naked mopping and stray Subarus marooned in fields. Everyone would look at you like you’d lost your mind...

And right now Anne Laurie's open thread Do I Look Like A Man Who Would Go To Jail For This Putz?

Right now, for what I can gather, trump's rambling self-pitying performance today included VP Pence, AG Barr, Rudy, and maybe even two-thirds of his own family as co-conspirators in trump's extortion scheme on Ukraine.

There's been so much crazy today with the illegal stuff trump admitted to that asking a lawyer for an explanation won't be needed. Oh what the hell, here's commentary from Noah Feldman via a Minnesota legal blog:

...It is not uncommon for the U.S. government, including the president, to make aid to foreign governments conditional on certain conduct. Indeed, during the Barack Obama administration, U.S. aid to Ukraine was delayed while the U.S. pushed Ukraine to remove its top prosecutor, who had turned a blind eye to numerous corruption investigations. Biden’s role in that pressure is one of the things Trump says he wanted Ukraine to investigate.
What makes Trump’s alleged conduct so terrible is not that he froze aid to Ukraine for a policy purpose. What makes Trump’s alleged conduct outrageous is the appearance that he was doing it for his own personal benefit. Joe Biden is at present the leading Democratic contender to face Trump in 2020. So an investigation of Biden would not serve the national interest, but Trump’s personal interest.
And herein lies a crime — at least, possibly. It is illegal for a government official to solicit a bribe. That includes situations in which a public official extracts a bribe from somebody in exchange for taking an official act that falls within his governmental authority. (There are other bribery and extortion-related statutes, but this one is most relevant.)
It could be argued that Donald Trump wanted to extract a payoff from the president of Ukraine — namely, an investigation that would cast a negative light on Biden, a prospective political opponent. If Trump communicated that he would unfreeze aid to Ukraine in exchange for that payoff, he was offering to perform an official governmental act in exchange for the payoff. Put another way, Trump extorted the president of Ukraine by demanding a bribe in the form of action against Biden. True, political advantage is not the same thing as an envelope of cash or a gold watch. But to a president seeking re-election, dirt on the leading rival could be even more valuable.
The first key element here is that an investigation of Biden wasn’t in the U.S. national interest but only in Trump’s personal interest. If the president extracts a commitment from a foreign government that is in the national interest, that doesn’t constitute extortion under the law. That’s just foreign policy. So, we can expect Trump’s defenders to say that Trump wasn’t seeking personal gain. That may be what Trump had in mind when he told reporters at the United Nations that even if he had asked Ukraine to investigate Biden, there wouldn’t have been anything wrong with it. But would a rational person really believe it was purely a coincidence that Trump was seeking dirt on his strongest presidential rival?
A second key element is that Trump was proposing a quid pro quo: In exchange for the Biden probe, he would unfreeze aid to Ukraine. The crime of extortion requires a proposed exchange. In his defense, Trump can be expected to maintain, as he has already said, that he did not himself link the Biden investigation to the Ukraine aid. But even without a smoking-gun connection, and even when a corrupt deal is struck implicitly, the government can still prosecute extortion or bribery on a quid pro quo basis. Circumstantial evidence can be enough to prove a criminal exchange. Under conditions where both presidents knew that the question of aid was on the table, it would be reasonable to infer that when Trump brought up the Biden investigation he was suggesting a deal...
Just the phrase alone "Do us a favor" and trump is pretty much toast.

And while there's still a troubling matter of trump's dealings with Russia that the Mueller probe tried to reveal, this Ukraine scandal is more direct evidence of impeachable offenses because 1) trump himself is making these calls, he can't hide behind buffers like his family and campaign staffers, and 2) unlike the Russia case where Mueller can prove Russians were involved but couldn't prove trump knew and aided them, there are direct statements and acts of Quid Pro Quo that investigators can hang their hats on.

This is where hearing from the intelligence whistleblower is a necessity. Whoever it is, that person has full details of what went down and how bad it got.

And to wrap this all up let us quote from Charles P Pierce at Esquire:

Holy hell, will they ever get the dosage right on the tranq gun?
The president* closed his busy news day with a press availability at the United Nations in New York. He was just as dishonest and calumnizing as he usually is, but he did it with an affect, and in a voice, that made him look as though he were a basset hound on Quaaludes. Almost without looking up, he lugubriously tossed Mike Pence under the bus by telling congressional Democrats (and the press) to "look at Mike Pence's phone calls." Which, I assume, will now happen. He also seemed to say that he was correct in asking the president of Ukraine to engage in international ratf-cking because Hillary Clinton didn't campaign enough in Wisconsin.

This train wreck ain't over and trump's clown car is just hitting the railguard tonight. Oy. I gotta stop mixing metaphors.