Saturday, September 21, 2019

Moscow Mitch capitulates, supports election security spending amendment

Weeks of being called Moscow Mitch have finally caused Senate Majority Leader McConnell to break and support more money for election security. Not surprisingly, he's taking credit for the whole thing, too. "I am proud...
FRANCE 24 English / YouTube Mike Pompeo in Saudi Arabia quot 1568911620.jpg...

Trump’s secretary of state reminds reporters that people who frequently lie should be called...

On his way to Saudi Arabia, Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wanted to make sure reporters properly contextualized the administration's position on the region's strife. So he gave them some earnest advice: When...

Sec Tillerson: We Had To Tell Trump He Got Played By Bibi

In other foreign policy news, former Secretary of State Tillerson said that the foreign service community had to tell Trump, “several times,” that Bibi Netanyahu had “played Trump” by – get this – giving him bad information: “We later exposed it to the president so he understood, ‘You’ve been played,’” said Tillerson. “It bothers me that an ally that’s that close and important to us would do that to us.” Tillerson criticized Trump for preferring the advice of political figures outside of his administration when it came to Israel, over the assessments of his own senior cabinet members. “I did believe that we were at a moment in time where perhaps we could chart a way where the Arab world could support an outcome that the Palestinians might not think was perfect,” Tillerson explained. It “bothered Tillerson that Trump preferred the advice of others outside the administration “on this”? Tillerson said? And everything else when it came to foreign policy? Tillerson did not say, but probably should have. Trump has finally removed damn near all staff of any consequence or experience around him. The White House now looks like the Trump organization, which, contrary to public belief, was not some sprawling company with one-thousand employees, but more like “twenty.” Trump now has far more freedom to decide that he can believe what he likes. The grown-ups with experience are gone. There is no one left to tell Trump that he got “played,” something to keep in mind this week, of all weeks. In other news, PRESIDENT Obama (I never use that title with Trump, bothers me) made a rare statement regarding what a president should and should not do, relevant to the above, regarding where Trump gets his information and advice: “The other thing that is helpful is not watching TV or reading social media,” he was quoted as saying. “Those are two things I would advise, if you’re our president, not to do,” he added, per The Washington Post. “It creates a lot of noise and clouds your judgment.” Touche. Other than watching his country fall into third world status, you know Obama’s loving Trump sweat it out, Tillerson, probably loves it, too. **** Peace, y’all Jason jmiciak@yahoo.com    

Legal Issues Abound in Today’s Hearing on Trump’s “Promise” to Foreign Leader

A couple days ago, we highlighted the need to “watch this story,” as this wasn’t a “normal” Trump scandal. This involved an “urgent” security matter that the Inspector General, one appointed by Trump, believed needed to be set before congress, quickly. As you likely know, the Washington Post reports today that the I.G. will be testifying behind closed doors to the House Intelligence Committee. The Post also reports that the matter involves Trump making a “promise” to a foreign leader. The by-line has three reporters, generally taken to mean they each have a source contributing to the story. This one feels quite big. Trump’s interaction with the foreign leader included a “promise” that was regarded as so troubling that it prompted an official in the U.S. intelligence community to file a formal whistleblower complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence community, said the former officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. It was not immediately clear which foreign leader Trump was speaking with or what he pledged to deliver, but his direct involvement in the matter has not been previously disclosed. It raises new questions about the president’s handling of sensitive information and may further strain his relationship with U.S. spy agencies. One former official said the communication was a phone call. The first thing to note is that the president is allowed to both declassify material, and also negotiate foreign policy deals. In other words, in the normal course of events, if Trump handed over classified information to a foreign leader, with a promise that the U.S. would act, it would not be something that would constitute a credible and urgent matter deserving a whistleblower complaint – in the normal course of events. Something about this particular “phone call” took it out of the normal course of events. The issue, whatever else it is, must be something touching upon an abuse of power. We come full circle back-around to it being credible and urgent. The White House declined to comment. Note, the White House did not deny any element of the complaint, make of that what you will. It may be that the White House is awaiting to see the blowback forthcoming from “whatever it is.” We also know that neither the Inspector General, nor an attorney working for the whistleblower himself, wanted to comment. Note, the whistleblower has an attorney already, an attorney already identified to the Washington Post. The whistleblower likely anticipates pressure, or denials, from the White House, having his reputation smeared, something requiring a lawyer disclosed to the press. The following, all speculation, discusses possible issues that fit the timeline of the complaint, and what it might entail: Among them was a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin that the White House initiated on July 31. Trump also received at least two letters from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during the summer, describing them as “beautiful” messages. In June, Trump said publicly that he was opposed to certain CIA spying operations against North Korea. Referring to a Wall Street Journal report that the agency had recruited Kim’s half-brother, Trump said, “I would tell him that would not happen under my auspices.” I don’t believe for a second that Kim Jong Un could offer something to Trump that […]
U.S. Embassy in Syria / U.S. Embassy in Syria trump at podium...

White House disavows gun proposal that the (checks notes) White House is circulating in...

The Senate/White House/NRA gun kabuki continued Wednesday with a higher degree of incompetence than usual, which is because Trump. One part of the White House—represented by Attorney General William Barr and Legislative Director Eric...
Gage Skidmore / Flickr mitch mcconnell...

THIS is how you beat the NRA! (WIth a video)

Everybody gather near. Dyin’ time is here   Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome As all of you know, I have been a frequent commentator, and will continue to be a frequent commentator on the stunning internal collapse of the National Rfle Association. My beef with the NRA isn’t in its original form as a safety and training advocacy group, rather it is the current structure of the NRA, which has become such a whorehouse for the armaments manufacturers that Wayne LaPierre should be barred from appearing in public, except clad in a turquoise halter, a bright pink spandex mini skirt, and a pair of “fuck me” pumps. But even at full strength, and with no internal distractions, the NRA would be hard pressed to deal effectively with the latest public service ad released by the Sandy Hook Promise, a gun control advocacy group founded by parents of children senselessly slaughtered in their classrooms. The ad is a hard hitting, emotional sucker punch to the gut; The tide has been turning away from the NRA for quite a while now. As I have pointed out in the past, in 2018, for the first time, gun control voters outnumbered unfettered gun rights owners at the polls. And it’s more than just that. In 2018 gun control advocacy groups finally outspent the NRA and affiliated groups in advertising leading up to the reelection. And the results showed up, 17 A or A+ rated GOP congressional incumbents lost their seats. This advertisement alone should scare Mitch McConnell shitless, as well as the other 22 GOP incumbents up for reelection next year. This spot is liquid gold when run in September and October of 2020. The problem for McConnell and the GOP is that this problem is no longer, nor has it ever been, a coastal, liberal, elite issue. From a Walmart in El Paso to a highway outside of Odessa, from a theater in Aurora to a medical office in San Bernardino. From high schools in Columbine and Parkland to a grade school in Newtown, this is a non ideological, non partisan, non ethnic problem. And the problem is that your own child’s survival in his classroom is a fucking crap shoot! This ad is going to be used against Trump in 2020. And it’s going to be used against Mitch McConnell, every GOP Senator up for reelection in 2020, as well as every GOP House incumbent with a B or better rating with the NRA, as it should be. There is no defense against this ad, simply because it is a terrifying glimpse into the thoughts of our own children when they get off of the school bus every fucking day! And it’s only going to become more effective, since sadly, as we all know, we haven’t seen the last school mass shooting before next November. I’m sorry for the tenor of this piece, but I’m so sick of the carnage that I can hardly keep my fingers from shaking to type properly. This has gone on far beyond long enough, and the GOP is about to pay a very stiff penalty for their intransigence and cowardice. I do have one simple, honest, heartfelt suggestion though. Mr Steyer, you are never going to be President of the United States. Please, I beg you, rather than spending untold millions in advertising on […]
Washington Post / YouTube Watch live Former Trump campaign manager 1568823923.jpg...

It wasn’t Corey Lewandowski who impaired the impeachment inquiry on Tuesday. It was Jerry...

Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski spent six hours in front of the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, being questioned both by the members and by a staff attorney. It was an extraordinarily frustrating experience, one in which...
Washington Post / YouTube The allegations against Brett Kavanaugh...

Rehashing the FBI’s sham Kavanaugh ‘investigation’ is a net plus for Democrats in 2020...

House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler has already thrown cold water on impeaching Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, but he also said Democrats would grill FBI Director Chris Wray about the FBI’s supposed "investigation" into sexual harassment claims...
CNN / YouTube President Trump salutes US military...

Here We Go: Trump Administration Increases Tensions, Pointing at Iran

If we know anything, it is to expect a war in the Middle East by a Republican president. One of the few redeeming values we thought Trump possessed was an unwillingness for the U.S. to engage in foreign wars as the world’s policeman. But, we know who has been surrounding Trump, and we know what the Republican “community” wants. This is what they do. So, following up upon yesterday’s tweet, we have the expected “analysis” regarding Iran’s responsibility: The US government has produced satellite photos showing what officials said were at least 19 points of impact on Saturday at two Saudi energy facilities, including damage at the heart of the kingdom’s crucial oil processing plant at Abqaiq. Officials told US media the photos show impacts consistent with the attack coming from the direction of Iran or Iraq, rather than from Yemen to the south. Iraq denied that its territory was used for an attack on the kingdom. US officials said a strike from there would be a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty. The US officials said additional devices, which apparently didn’t reach their targets, were recovered northwest of the facilities and are being jointly analysed by Saudi and American intelligence. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, did not address whether the weapons could have been fired from Yemen, then taken a round-about path, but did not explicitly rule it out. Now, all of that could be true. Absolutely. The problem is, how the hell would we know what is or is not true coming from this administration? Do we take this administration’s word over Iran’s at this point? Even though all the above might be true, I have absolutely no reason to trust them and assume its is a fair evaluation. He lies about the weather!! But even more worrisome is that even IF it is true, is there some reason that protection of Saudi Arabia – that country that has bought billions of defense armaments from the U.S. – and a nation that has near unlimited resources, needs the US to defend it? IF Iran had bombed or threatened a U.S. ship going up or down the Straight of Hormuz, or even some other innocent country’s ship, that does impact U.S. policy and interests. We need free passage throughout the world to move our goods/needs as we want. But that has not happened, and I seriously doubt it would happen unless or until the U.S. starts to shoot directly at Iran. So, it is highly disturbing to once again hear war drums beating from a Republican administration. It is especially true when Trump finds himself trailing every Democrat in the polls by double digits, and may think that his best shot at rising back up is to be our “leader” in a “fight for freedom” (as it will be called). We knew this would happen. We have no idea what is really happening, we just know what seems inevitable. Republican presidents start wars in the Middle East. American lives will be lost. Innocent Iranian lives – many innocent lives – will be lost, all in pursuit of oil interests, all in pursuit of keeping that defense interest pumping out new shit. I hope that I am wrong. Obviously. But who doesn’t think this sounds just so familiar, and […]

Elaine Chao Latest Target Of House Oversight Committee Probe For Ethics Violations

Remember that sweet television show with Rock Hudson, back in the day, “McMillan and Wife” where the couple solved mysteries together? Welcome to McConnell and Wife, where every week the couple that preys together pillages the coffers of the United States government and uses their political positions to influence things to their own personal advantage. If there’s one show in Washington that needs to go on hiatus, or better yet get cancelled, this is the one. The Hill: The House Oversight Committee on Monday launched an investigation into whether Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is using her office to benefit herself and her family. “The Committee is examining your misstatements of fact, your actions that may have benefitted the company in which you continued to hold shares, and your compliance with ethics and financial disclosure requirements,” Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) wrote in a letter to Chao. Elaine Chao didn’t divest herself of shares in a company that posed a clear conflict of interest when she accepted her cabinet position until June, 2019 — and then only because of bad publicity. New York Times: Days earlier, The Wall Street Journal, followed by other news media, reported that she had not cashed out, as promised, stock options she held in Vulcan Materials, an Alabama-based producer of crushed stone and asphalt, where she served on the board before joining the Trump administration. On Wednesday, Ms. Chao sent a letter to the Transportation Department’s top ethics lawyer, notifying the agency of the sale. In the letter, she attributed the stock holdings to an “inadvertent misstatement” made after she was nominated in late 2016 to take over the top transportation job. In various ethics agreements and financial disclosures she has filed since last 2016, Ms. Chao had said that stock options awarded during the nearly two years she served on the board at Vulcan would be paid out in cash — ending her financial ties to the company. Instead, those options were paid out last year in stock, which Ms. Chao held onto until this month, meaning she continued to have a stake in the industry. The Transportation Department placed blame for the controversy on an unnamed accountant to Ms. Chao, who apparently told agency officials that she would receive cash instead of stock. No conflict of interest here, Chao merely heads the Department of Transportation and Vulcan merely makes money constructing the materials used to build highways. Then there was the business of one of her aides coordinating federal highway grants to the State of Kentucky. What, there’s a problem with that? Of course Kentucky needs new roads, hubby Moscow Mitch has that new aluminum factory, that Manafort’s buddy Oleg Deripaska is bankrolling, to the tune of $200 Million being built. That business venture was handily approved after the Trump administration took Rusal, Deripaska’s firm, off of the U.S. sanctions list. The new plant, which is slated for construction will be the largest new aluminum plant constructed in the U.S. for decades — and Rusal will own 40% of it. Is there a problem with that? “Rusal, one of the leading global aluminium producers, and Braidy Industries Inc., a U.S. base holding company which owns both Veloxint, an MIT-incubated lightweighting solutions company, and NanoAl, a Northwestern University incubated materials research and technology company, announce an intent to establish a joint project in Ashland, Kentucky, USA to produce flat-rolled […]

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