Sunday, January 20, 2019

trump's Offer Is Still Nothing

So trump tried to come up with some proposal to offer the Congressional Democrats to make himself look like a dealmaker, but tried to do it in a way where he wouldn't give up anything while still getting his precious Goddamn Wall.

And as usual, he sucked at it. Just check all of the immediate responses from key Democrats that Anne Laurie at Balloon Juice put together.

Adam L Silverman at Balloon Juice has a more detailed response of his own:

The President’s pitch this afternoon was a combination of rehashing his Oval Office address from two weeks ago with some limited sweeteners in exchange for $5.7 billion for his wall in order to try to bring the Democrats to the table and reopen the parts of the government that are in shutdown. This includes a temporary, three year DACA extension; a temporary, three year reinstatement of the Temporary Protected Status Program; and slight adjustments to the President’s hard line attempts to rewrite US law and treaty obligations in regards to those seeking asylum... 
The proposal was dead on arrival with the Democrats because the Democrats, under the leadership of Speaker Pelosi, seem to have finally learned that once you pay protection the first time, you never get out from under the thumb of the people running the protection racket...

Just one word there: Danegeld.

Back to Silverman:

The President’s proposal is also dead on arrival because his outside advisors and supporters feel betrayed by what he is proposing... Ann Coulter has already lambasted it... Rush Limbaugh hasn’t weighed in yet, at least not that I’ve seen, nor has Hannity or Tucker. Ingraham sort of has on her twitter feed. My guess is they’re all waiting to see how this plays so they can figure out whether they need to slam the President to get him back into line or support him against the Democrats. Coulter really only wants full on white Christian herrenvolkism, so slamming the President on this right away is easy. Regardless, this isn’t playing well with his base and I’m sure that Stephen Miller, who both channels that base to the President and is in contact with the interest entrepreneurs who manipulate it, will do what he does best behind the scenes and by the time Senator McConnell can bring this to a vote, the President will have changed his mind again and walked away from the sweeteners.
The President cannot be negotiated with because he is not a reliable negotiator, changes his mind constantly, and lies constantly. Senator McConnell cannot be negotiated with because he is not a reliable negotiator and because he recognizes no rule, norm, tradition, and/or law unless it can be manipulated to benefit him. It is easy for the Democrats to reject this proposal. If they agree to anything before Senator McConnell brings the clean appropriations and continuing resolutions to the floor that the Senate under his leadership passed 100-0 during the lame duck session in December 2018 and the President agrees to sign it before negotiations over immigration and border security start, then they have surrendered on every legislative and policy dispute for as long as the President is in office and Senator McConnell is the leader of his caucus...

We are in a sticky situation where the Democrats can't negotiate in good faith because the people running the Republicans refuse to negotiate in good faith. It's not healthy for our nation, but that's the circumstances we're in now.

I said before, this #trumpShutdown is going to end with a third option, one where the federal government itself collapses either with too many agencies and services closing down (hurting millions) or with the federal workforce rising up in ways they normally can't - just found out last week federal employees can't strike, but there are so many public signs of stress that a mass strike is unavoidable at this point - and compels trump to re-open government. But that third option will break the norms of governance as well, and it won't end cleanly...

There is of course a fourth option: Mueller finishes his grand juries into Russia-trump activities and he arrests every key Republican - trump included - on the Putin Payroll (tm). But there's no guarantee of that, and DAMMIT MUELLER WE'RE WAITING WE'VE BEEN WAITING YOU'RE WORSE THAN GEORGE RR MARTIN AT THIS POINT ARRRRRRGGGHHHH.


To make a more relevant cultural reference, we keep harking back to The Godfather movies to highlight the ineptitude, greed, and overall gangster behavior of trump and his Inner Circle of handlers (AKA his kids). There has been the constant references to the lot of them being an Army of Fredos, but here I'm thinking of the scene where corrupt Senator Geary tries to extort Michael:

Except that trump is not Michael here. trump is the corrupt sonofabitch Geary. trump is trying to squeeze the Democrats here, trying to squeeze them to get every penny he can, all out of spite and racist demagoguery even as he ignores his own sinful hypocrisy.

No, the Democrats are playing Michael here, and the offer is this trump: Nothing.

And you're the one who's going to be paying...

Friday, January 18, 2019

It Will Open The Whole Thing (w/ Update)

This is some serious shit (via Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier at Buzzfeed News):

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...

If we go by this consideration from Aaron Blake at the Washington Post:

If Robert S. Mueller III has the evidence he reportedly has — that Trump asked Michael Cohen to lie to Congress for him — it could present something that’s been missing thus far from the public domain: An event so cut-and-dried that even Republicans would be hard-pressed not to consider impeachment.
BuzzFeed News broke the story Thursday night about the alleged Trump request. The lie Cohen told is the one he has pleaded guilty to: about when efforts to secure a Trump Tower Moscow concluded. BuzzFeed reports that not only did Cohen tell Mueller’s team that Trump told him to lie, but that Mueller had evidence of this even before confronting Cohen...

That would explain how Mueller got Cohen to flip so quickly. Back to Blake:

There are important caveats here — and the story is of such significance that we need to emphasize those caveats up high. The first is that it is based upon two anonymous “federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter.” The second is that Cohen’s team isn’t confirming it, despite his having flipped on Trump long ago. We also don’t know exactly what evidence Mueller has. The solidity of that evidence matters greatly in what would otherwise be a he-said, he-said situation.
But judging by the report, it sounds like Mueller just might have the goods. The key graph:
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.
That sure sounds like a lot of evidence...

Agreed. All it took for Watergate to turn into Nixon's downfall was one audio recording of Nixon giving orders to interfere with the FBI's investigation of the break-in. If there's one verifiable email, one audio clip of trump doing exactly that - and Cohen is known for recording a lot of his conversations - and the Shitgibbon is caught dead to rights Suborning Perjury and committing Obstruction.

And I'm with Blake, so far this is just a report, without a lot of paperwork of its own to back it up. Until Mueller's investigators go public with what they have, this is still conjecture.

But it sure as hell puts in place one huge piece of the jigsaw puzzle. It explains why Cohen's office and personal abodes were raided with warrants specifying specific items (audio recordings). It explains why Cohen flipped faster than most other trump insiders like Flynn and Manafort (and Manafort still hasn't really flipped yet, which only tells us how deep in debt he is to Putin and Russia...).

It explains why trump hasn't shut the whole thing down like he's threatened to. Mueller probably already has something too big to hide, and closing his investigation will likely let that go public in the worst way.

It's just a question of when it all comes out. I hope to God it's soon. I hope to God it means a Presidential campaign of 2020 free of trump's malign presence.

I hope to God this is finally it.

Update: Mueller's Special Counsel office issued an official statement, disputing the Buzzfeed article. They don't go specifically into what was wrong within the article, but the statement notes the "characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Cohen's Congressional testimony are not accurate."

This could mean several things: the article itself was a screwup, relying on sources who were not in the know; the sources lied to rattle the Mueller investigation into making public statements before ready; or the details obtained were real but improperly interpreted. It is unlikely Mueller is blowing smoke here, so he and his office are pissed about something being wrong in the story.

One thing to note, most media outlets tend to run such stories - reporting on serious criminal matters involving political figures - by their Legal departments to make sure they didn't overstep or enter into Libel/Slander territories, so it's not likely the reporters made this all up. It's a question now of how well-vetted the story is. If I were Buzzfeed, I'd be questioning my sources under harsh scrutiny to find out what's not right.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

If I Gave the 2019 State of the Union Speech

Just noting at the moment that Nancy Pelosi - using her power as Speaker of the House - is NOT inviting trump to make a State of the Union speech this year before Congress.

She's publicly noting the security concerns are different this year due to the ongoing trump Shutdown, and that Secret Service protection will be less this time because of it. It's also quite likely Pelosi is doing this to fuck with trump's ego, on which point I heartily applaud.

The invitation has usually been something of a formality, and there's been times either side - the President or Congress - had openly mused about rejecting the offer out of partisan spite.

It's also become a terrific bore of a speech, if you ask pundits and historians. If the President and Congress are of the same party, it turns into one big rally with standing ovations and ego-boosting and nothing else. When it's split, the speech is pretty much a laundry list of "Oh hey let's do these things this year."

Even the Opposition Reaction speeches are useless.

Pelosi suggests trump is better off giving his State of the Union from the Oval Office, make it a televised spectacle to the nation without involving a Congressional background. It has the advantage for trump of being able to give the speech without having much of the House booing him for every lie he spills every five seconds.

So in some respects, this might actually be a good time to end what had been a meaningless spectacle. Our nation's actually done well without it for more than a century, after Washington stopped doing it after one year - he received a lukewarm response from Congress and swore never to return - until Woodrow Wilson revived it because he was the kind of President who believed a President should serve like a Prime Minister and make such appearances (also because film became prevalent and it was a good way to perform before the cameras).

But if it came to it, if I were President and I were still able to give a State of the Union speech before the entire Congressional body, what would I give?

Maybe something like this:

My fellow Americans, tonight the state of our union is... OH JESUS CHRIST IS trump STILL HERE?! GET him OUT! Grab him! Drag him back to the jail cell where he's waiting for his Obstruction trial.

Anyway, we are currently looking at repealing much of the Ryan Republican Tax Cut fiasco that has created billions in deficits rather than growth, we are struggling to improve health care coverage for more Americans, and we are waiting on the next Avengers Endgame movie to see how Spider-Man and Nick Fury get back (relax, no Spoilers, the trailers are already out for that).

We need to set higher goals and make better objectives this year in education. We've got to provide relief to millions of college students wallowing in loan debts. We've got to raise taxes at the federal and state levels to spend more money on upgrading every school for every city and every county. We've got to promise to ourselves and to our nation's future we WILL dedicate ourselves to making smarter and stronger children grow up to be better and happier adults.

We need to make a serious effort to fix every broken and aging bridge. We need to make a serious effort to clean up our water supply. We need to make a serious effort to end our carbon emissions to turn our planet away from the ecological disaster we are hurtling towards.

I want to count on every American to stand up in these coming days and weeks, for your families, for your communities, for your futures.

And now is the moment in the speech when we DANCE! BREAK OUT THE MOVES, SANDY!


...think it'll work?

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

How Low Will the trump Shutdown Go Day 25

This just crossed the newswire, regarding how the Republican-backed Shutdown is hurting our American workers (via NBC News):

The nation's 42,000 active-duty Coast Guard members missed their scheduled paycheck Tuesday, as the only military branch to work without pay during the government shutdown.
Because the Coast Guard is under the Department of Homeland Security, it is getting no funding during the shutdown. All other parts of the military are under the still-funded Department of Defense.

Right now I can think of 42,000 families extremely pissed off at trump's obsession to force Congress to pay for his monument to his ego.

And the idea of forming a mess of a Homeland Security Department is starting to bite our own armed forces in the collective ass.

The thing about a partial Shutdown is that the longer it goes the likelier it's going to cut off other parts of the federal government that had been funded but will soon run out of money.

And this Shutdown will NOT end because the Republican leadership - not just trump but also Mitch McConnell may he rot in the deepest pit of Hell with the other traitors - profits from this destruction. This has been the political party obsessed with cutting at the federal system with a fireaxe, whittling it down to where Grover Norquist can drown it in his bathtub, and the Republicans are reveling in watching federal workers struggle to work at jobs that won't pay them and then stumbling out to the streets to beg for food.

This Shutdown won't end until it becomes perfectly clear too many people and too many families are suffering for the nation to ignore, when the workers fight back somehow and in any way they can, and there's nothing left but the tears to count.

And by then, too many will be hurting that didn't deserve any of this.

GODDAMN YOU, REPUBLICANS. Curse your dark empty hearts.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Darkest Timeline Day 722: Betrayals Confirmed

Jesus. (from the New York Times)

In the days after President Trump fired James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, law enforcement officials became so concerned by the president’s behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests, according to former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation.
The inquiry carried explosive implications. Counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security. Agents also sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence.
The investigation the F.B.I. opened into Mr. Trump also had a criminal aspect, which has long been publicly known: whether his firing of Mr. Comey constituted obstruction of justice.
Agents and senior F.B.I. officials had grown suspicious of Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign but held off on opening an investigation into him, the people said, in part because they were uncertain how to proceed with an inquiry of such sensitivity and magnitude. But the president’s activities before and after Mr. Comey’s firing in May 2017, particularly two instances in which Mr. Trump tied the Comey dismissal to the Russia investigation, helped prompt the counterintelligence aspect of the inquiry, the people said...

JESUS. (The link is to Daily Beast because WaPo is behind a paywall)

President Trump has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details of his conversations with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, The Washington Post reports. The president's efforts include reportedly taking possession of the notes of his own interpreter and instructing the linguist not to discuss what had transpired with other administration officials. The unusual behavior part of a broader pattern by the president of shielding his communications with Putin from public scrutiny, and even preventing high-ranking administration officials from fully knowing what he has told Putin—one of the United States’ main adversaries. As a result, U.S. officials said there is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump’s face-to-face interactions with the Russian leader at five locations over the past two years...


Let me refer to Adam L. Silverman at Balloon Juice:

Vladimir Putin, despite being not the greatest strategic thinker in history, has a very specific set of goals. Some are US specific. Some are EU and NATO specific. Some are regional. And some are global. As we’ve covered here over and over since the late spring of 2016 is that Putin wants to roll back US power by weakening the US and by demonstrating that the liberal democracy and attendant values that the US promotes globally is no better, and may in fact be worse, than the managed democracy he’s created in Russia around his authoritarian rule.
In regards to the US, Putin specifically wants to enflame political, social, religious, and ethnic grievances, which is why his cyber enabled information warfare targeted very specific groups over very specific issues. Often playing groups on both sides of an issue off against each other. He also wants to rollback US power projection. Specifically he wants the US military and defense posture to stop being expeditionary. Regionally in Europe he wants NATO weakened so he can reestablish the historic near abroad and sphere of influence that he believes are Russia’s due, including his claims on Crimea and Ukraine...
...(trump's) positions during the campaign and the actions he’s taken, in regards to domestic, foreign, national security, and economic affairs, have given Putin almost everything he wanted. The only thing he hasn’t gotten yet is the lifting of sanctions, but there have been efforts within the administration to chip away at and/or redefine them in the favor of Putin and the oligarchs he protects.
And this brings us back to the question: what, if anything, would the President be doing differently if we knew for certain that he was a Russian asset or agent?
And the answer I keep coming back to, every time I ask it of myself or discuss it with those who I’ve been collaborating with on tracking the Russian active measures and cyberwarfare campaign through open sources, is nothing. There is nothing the President would be doing differently. And that conclusion is one of the most disturbing I’ve ever come to in my professional career...

This is all I can see from here: trump is actively ignoring every American security protocol; trump is actively giving Russia intel and support, and has been trying to do more outside of established communications/channels; trump is committing acts of chaos and mismanagement on both the global and domestic stages that allow Putin and Russia to profit at our expense.

If any other American was doing this, we'd have arrested his/her ass on charges of espionage within 12.7 seconds. If we were at WAR with Russia, the charges would be treason.

And who's to say we are NOT at war with Russia right now? Just because our government hasn't officially declared it doesn't mean we aren't at war. Every action Russia has taken in the last 5-10 years - the computer hacks into our political and social systems, the subversion of our electoral process, the manipulation of Americans into breaking treaties and ending activities so that Russia can profit from our absences - have been acts of war against us.

Jesus. We need to start fighting back.

We need to arrest every fucking traitor working for Putin.

Starting with the Head Shitgibbon.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Dammit. Now I Got a Crush On Her Even More


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez just quoted from the classics. To wit:


Making it a nice touch is that she quotes the author of the graphic novel rather than the questionably okay 2009 movie version. That means IMHO she's not faking this. She knows which version matters to the generation(s) to which she speaks and hopes to appeal.

So to the Concern Trolls that tried to bash her on Politico earlier, talking about "reining her in," she beat you, sons. She rolled up and mic-dropped and rolled away with you all just standing there going "what the hell happened."

So like I said before, DAMMIT. I think I have a crush on her.

I just wanna let everyone know I'm not gonna go all creepy or anything, okay? We cool? We cool. I just... will start this little altar over against the wall with a few pictures, and some candles and voodoo dolls of her enemies and...

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

So What Exactly the Hell Happened With trump's Bad Address?

The reviews for last night's brouhaha have been less than exemplary. To quote from Frum at the Atlantic:

Well, that was the shortest, most easily resolved national emergency in U.S. history. Twelve hours ago, the president was preparing to set aside the regular process of law. By 9 p.m. eastern time? Not so much...
...But Trump has never wanted a solution. He has wanted a divisive issue and a personal monument. Futile though that monument may be, he could have gotten it, too, had he been willing to trade something attractive to Democrats. But Trump was never willing to bargain. Senate Republicans would not let him: They saw no point in the border wall, and were unwilling to barter for it.
More fatefully, though, Trump’s vision of leadership allows no room for bartering. He imagines the presidency to operate on the principle, “I command; you obey.” More even than his wall, he wanted to coerce the Democrats into a surrender by the sheer force of his mighty will. Except Trump did not have the clout to achieve that...

That was essentially the whole point of trump's performance. By going up onto the national stage - bullying the media into doing so - and then using the moment spreading his usual anti-immigrant fearmongering to call out the Democrats like Pelosi and Schumer and make them succumb to his mere existence as Loser of the Popular Vote leader of the Free World.

trump had promised a serious Address to the nation about the "humanitarian and border security crisis" as a lead-up to likely assuming emergency powers to do whatever the hell he wanted without Congress having a say. There had been reports Monday about how he'd ordered his staffers and lawyers that weekend to look into trump reaching into the Emergency Powers bad of tricks to see what he could pull out.

They apparently told trump anything he tried would immediately get held up in courts and overridden by both wings of Congress (with an open Republican Senate revolt) to where he'd never get to use a single line of Executive Orders.

Without that particular hammer, trump's entire performance was just for show. It wouldn't have intimidated anyone who wasn't already so.

So what happens now is that the #trumpShutdown continues. What happens now is that trump resumes his bluster and bullying - just this morning he went back to the argument he can "assume emergency powers at any time" - while the Democrats in the House press more levers to get government working again.

I'd argue for everyone to remain vigilant, however. trump isn't done with his power grab. he'll try something else next. he'll get worse, he has no other direction but down to go...