Sunday, December 31, 2017

Michael Schmidt, Presidential Publicist

Charlie Pierce, who says "over the past 30 years, I've seen my faher and all of his siblings slide into the shadows and fog of Alzheimer's Disease," observed in Thursday's interview by the New York Times' Michael Schmidt

the president* is only intermittently coherent. He talks in semi-sentences and is always groping for something that sounds familiar, even if it makes no sense whatsoever and even if it blatantly contradicts something he said two minutes earlier. To my ears, anyway, this is more than the president*’s well-known allergy to the truth. This is a classic coping mechanism employed when language skills are coming apart. (My father used to give a thumbs up when someone asked him a question. That was one of the strategies he used to make sense of a world that was becoming quite foreign to him.) My guess? That’s part of the reason why it’s always “the failing New York Times,” and his 2016 opponent is “Crooked Hillary."

In addition, the president* exhibits the kind of stubbornness you see in patients when you try to relieve them of their car keys—or, as one social worker in rural North Carolina told me, their shotguns. For example, a discussion on healthcare goes completely off the rails when the president* suddenly recalls that there is a widely held opinion that he knows very little about the issues confronting the nation

He adds "This is more than simple grandiosity. This is someone fighting something happening to him that he is losing the capacity to understand."  "So, no," he asserts, "I don’t particularly care whether Michael Schmidt was tough enough, or asked enough follow-up questions... We've got bigger problems."

The day after its reporter's chat with the President, the Times fact-checker weighed in with "10 Falsehoods from Trump's Interview with the Times." Though a good follow-up, it was insufficient for American citizens and voters given the tone and thread of Schmidt's interview because the Times chose to publish only excerpts.

Early on, Schmidt asks "but does that (not knowing when Mueller's probe will end) bother you? ands "But you’re not worked up about the timing" of Mueller's probe?  (This took place a day before Papadopoulos' role in initiation of the investigation was revealed.) He says of lawyer Alan Dershowitz (who has been on Fox News and elsewhere claiming there is no collusion) "He's been very good to you?"

Trump says of the senior West Virginia senator, "Joe's a nice guy," to which Schmidt responds "he is a very nice guy" and adds of West Virginia "it's a very popular place for you."

If you're wondering who talks like this, you've never been a parent coddling and encouraging her child as Schmidt does Trump.

Moreover, Schmidt successfully prompts Trump to repeat his campaign and presidential themes. "You would have run completely differently" were there no electoral college, he tells Trump, as well as the latter's catchphrase "believe me."

When the President remarks Paul Manafort "worked for me for — what was it, three and a half months?" Schmidt helpfully answers his question "a very short period of time."  When Trump fumbles around claiming that the probe is a political stunt, the reporter- sensing what Trump was fishing for- adds "dossier?"

After Trump claimed Democrats "made the Russian story up as a hoax, as a ruse, as an excuse for losing an election," Schmidt assisted him by responding  "So they had to do this to come after you, to undercut you?"

More seriously, immediately prior to asking "should they reopen that email investigation," Schmidt remarks "you control the Justice Department."

That's not President Trump insisting he controls the Justice Department, though he readily agreed. That was the reporter who inaccurately told a would-be authoritarian that he controls the Justice Department. This is The New York Times, the "all the news that's fit to print" New York Times.

The New York Times must release the full transcript. As Pierce suggests, we have on our hands a president, like Reagan 41, in the early throes of Alzheimer's Disease.  The press covered up the infirmities of John F. Kennedy and Franklin D.  Roosevelt decades ago. These are perilous times, and no time for the reputedly greatest newspaper of all to mimic congressional Republicans and become a doormat for a dangerous President.

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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Good Swamp

On September 26, 2017, according to the Los Angeles Time's Brian Bennett

Trump dined with about 150 donors from New York’s real estate and financial industries at the famous circus-themed Le Cirque restaurant on the Upper East Side. Some attendees paid six-figure sums for the company of a president who often decries what he calls Washington's pay-to-play "swamp."

The Republican National Committee and the Trump Victory Fund expected the event to raise about $5 million to help protect Republicans' majorities in the Senate and the House in next year's midterm election.

The White House declined to let reporters traveling with the president attend any part of the fundraising activities or hear Trump's remarks. In years past, reporters typically have been allowed to at least attend a president's speech at fundraisers.

Yahoo News' David Knowles cites five main strategies in which President Trump is betraying one of his prime campaign themes:

a) "the lobbying boom," featuring "more than 100 lobbyists named to positions in his administration, the majority serving at the very agencies they once tried to influence;"
b) "amended staff disclosures," once by Michael Flynn and 39 times by Jared Kushner;
c) "the Trump orgainziation," including "deals around the globe," profit-making from Trump golf courses, Washington hotel, and foreign real estate transactions, and lodging and more for the Secret Service when Trump is at a property he owns;
d) "financial opacity," the refusal to release his tax returns;
e) "all in the family," featuring Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and promotion of the latter's clothing line by presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway.

It's an impressive list and impressive record. However, underlying every article and comment about the buying and selling of Donald Trump (Kremlin promotion excepted) is one premise: the assumption that Trump believes- in general- that the swamp is bad.


Obviously, Trump believes he and his immediate family are entitled to roam the swamp at will for their own profit. But he may in fact believe that the purpose of government should be the care and feeding of the President of the United States, whomever that is. Consider this excerpt from the interview of Trump on Thursday by the New York Times' Michael Schmidt:

TRUMP: No, no, they thought it would be a one-day story, an excuse, and it just kept going and going and going. It’s too bad Jeff recused himself. I like Jeff, but it’s too bad he recused himself. I thought. … Many people will tell you that something is [inaudible].

SCHMIDT: Do you think Holder was more loyal to. …

TRUMP: I don’t want to get into loyalty, but I will tell you that, I will say this: Holder protected President Obama. Totally protected him. When you look at the I.R.S. scandal, when you look at the guns for whatever, when you look at all of the tremendous, ah, real problems they had, not made-up problems like Russian collusion, these were real problems. When you look at the things that they did, and Holder protected the president. And I have great respect for that, I’ll be honest, I have great respect for that.

Ezra Klein remarks

Read that again. Trump’s premise in this section appears to be that President Obama engaged in a wide array of criminal, undemocratic, and negligent behaviors but his attorney general protected him from justice. And Trump’s conclusion is that Obama’s attorney general did his job well. To Trump, the attorney general doesn’t serve the country, or the Constitution, but the president.

Recognizing the other disturbing aspects of the interview, Klein then leaves this subject without speculating.  However, for a guy obsessed with it, the degree to which Trump has made "the swamp" larger and more dangerous is striking. Striking, but perhaps not surprising, given that he never was asked whether "the swamp" was a per se bad, and rarely if ever asked to describe it.

It's difficult to get straight answers from this guy as he wanders from subject to subject, fantasy to fantasy, and lie to lie. He is like no other President- or perhaps any other person- and few assumptions ever should be made about him or what he believes.

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Tax Scam Within The Tax Scam

What makes the Corporate Tax Scam of 2017, in the words of Ruth Marcus, "just to be really clear, worst piece of domestic policy in our lifetime?"

There are so many candidates, including the provision pertaining to real estate investment trusts, which USC professor of law, economics, and political science Edward McCaffrey explains

allows real estate investors to get a special 20% tax rate like other small businesses -- even without paying significant wages to anybody, unlike other businesses....

Take commercial real estate, to name a large and suspicious example. Real estate investors like Trump will see more generous depreciation schedules, continued deductibility for interest and lower tax rates on the business forms that hold their real estate, like real estate investment trusts -- all without having to actually hire workers.

Unsurprisingly, the private prison industry is anxious to take advantage of this loophole. Jamiles Lartey of The Guardian has found that Corevic, formerly Corrections Corporation of America, paid

an effective tax rate in the first quarter of 2015 of just 3%.

Lauren-Brooke Eisen, an attorney at the Brennan Center for Justice, said: “The way they are able to get away with that, is that they’re not allowed to keep a lot of cash on hand, they have to give it back to investors though dividends. But it allows them to have an incredibly low tax rate.”

According to Eisen, prison companies have essentially argued that renting out cells to the government is the equivalent of charging a tenant rent, thus making such business primarily a real estate venture. In her new book, Inside Private Prisons, Eisen examines the way this classification has boosted industry earnings.

When in February Attorney General Sessions rescinded the order issued by President Obama for the Federal Bureau of Prisons to phase out contracts with private prisons, it affected only the 18% of federal prisoners held in private facilities, not the 8% of state prisoners or 65% of immigration detainees held in private facilities (the latter controlled by the Department of Homeland Services).

Nevertheless, Sessions' move, the tax bill, and what Lartey characterizes as "the cosy (sic) relationship Trump has had with the industry overall" suggest increased use of private prisons, despite (or perhaps because), as the- Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates wrote (as reported in a separate Guardian article)

research had found private prisons “simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources” and “do not save substantially on costs” either. Essential government education and training programs for prisoners “have proved difficult to replicate and outsource” in the private sector, she said.

Well, that, and if there is a profit, there will be more and if there are empty beds, a way will be found to fill them. Beware, then, of (alleged) efforts at criminal justice reform- like this one from New Jersey Democratic senator Cory Booker- which are silent on the issue of private prisons, which encourage mass incarceration and discourage rehabilitation. The Corporate Tax Scam of 2017- which all Senate and House Democrats voted against, as did no Senate Republican- was a big Christmas present to the industry.

And then watch how some Republicans who voted for this horrendous piece of legislation will pose as criminal justice reformers in 2018, and recognize them for the poseurs they are.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

They're Down With Trump

Don't be fooled by headline writers, America.

The article written by Dan Friedman of Mother Jones, published five days ago, was given the headline "Republicans Quietly Warn Trump: Don't Fire Mueller." Beneath the headline appears "It wouldn't be a  good idea."

That is evidently a quote from Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey, one of five GOP senators who thought dismissing Robert Mueller, highly-decorated Vietnam War veteran, FBI director under Bush 43, and lifelong Republican, would not be wise.

And that's about as far as they would go.  None suggested any consequences if the President did in fact sack the Special Counsel and one of the five, Pat Roberts of  Kansas, cautioned "I see an awful lot of questions about how this (investigation) is being conducted.”

Another was Luther Strange who, having been defeated in the GOP primary in Alabama, soon will be a private citizen.  Evidently, Mother Jones couldn't get even Arizona's Jeff Flake and Tennessee's Bob Corker, lame ducks generally willing to criticize Trump before voting to advance his agenda and enhance his ego, to wring their hands in faux concern.

Five out of 52 (senators) isn't bad, though, compared to the one of 239 Republicans in the House sufficiently bold to suggest that firing an investigator appointed by a Republican Assistant Attorney General in a Republican administration might be displeasing.

If there now are only six GOP members of Congress willing to go on record against dismissal of Mueller, there is little hope there would be more than ineffectual criticism if President Grump were to make the move. At one time, there were even six or seven Republican senators who had stated they were either against, or had grave reservations about, the Corporate Tax Scam of 2017.

They all came around, voting for the legislation. So did 24 of the 31 GOP Representatives who belong to the House Climate Solutions Caucus, though as Think Progress explains 

Along with opening a portion of ANWR to drilling, the tax bill retained deductions of so-called intangible drilling costs and preserves a measure that lets oil and gas producers reduce taxable income to reflect the depreciation of reserves. The intangible drilling provision is viewed as “the Holy Grail” of exploration and production tax breaks because it allows companies to deduct most of the costs of drilling new wells in the United States.

No doubt some Republicans had a reservation or two but voted for the tax bill because there is nothing that unites Republicans more than shoving money upwards.  However, many were intimidated by Donald Trump, now presiding over the party of snowflakes.  If the President were to have Robert Mueller fired, he would challenge his fellow Republicans to choose sides: him vs. the Democrats, or the "liberal media," or the "deep state"-  whatever it would take. The threat of a nasty tweet from the White House or of a primary challenge supported by Trump would loom over their heads.

The President has alternatives to sacking Mueller, such as continuing to demean and undermine the Special Counsel's probe or firing Rod Rosenstein. Still, if Trump were to eliminate Mueller, fierce condemnation from Democrats would be met with little support from the GOP.

Notwithstanding what we hear or read from gullible members of the media or in headlines, congressional Republicans now have joined the base in being inextricably linked to Donald Trump. The GOP is Donald Trump; Donald Trump is the GOP. If it's within their power- as it will be until at least until the 116th Congress is sworn in- they will not let him go down.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Deserving Each Other

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you.

On December 6, 2017 President Grump announced the decision to move the USA's embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Soon afterward, "in a stinging rebuke" of his radical move

128 countries, including some of the US’s most trusted and reliable allies, voted in favor of a United Nations resolution on Thursday calling for a reversal of his position. Only nine countries voted against it.

Though the resolution doesn’t explicitly refer to the US, it’s clearly directed at the White House. The measure declares that any changes to the status of Jerusalem “have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded.”

It also “calls upon all States to refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the Holy City of Jerusalem” — another shot at the administration, which announced plans to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

It's a non-binding resolution and hence will have little impact. The rebuke to Washington thus was largely symbolic, not unlike Trump's decision itself. But anyone who knows how to make a deal- let alone who invented the "art of the deal-" could forsee the response. But unlike Kenny Rogers, the President does not know when to hold and when to fold. In fact

There are even signs that the heavy-handed threats backfired. Barak Ravid, a correspondent for Israel’s Channel 10 news, reported that Canada switched from voting against the resolution to abstaining in order to avoid looking like a puppet of the US.

One newspaper columnist observes "Perhaps the most important change precipitated by Trump’s move is that it has provoked the Palestinians to (probably) exclude any U.S. role as mediator. Without Jerusalem, no peace talks can resume." She has noted also "Trump's unilateral move on Jerusalem gained nothing for Israel, whose captial is and will remiain in the Holy City. It served only to stir up religious tensions and disturb the Christians whom Pence claims he cares for."

But Trump is no more ridiculous, and probably less so, than many anti-Zionists.  The Jerusalem Post reported that New Zealand singer/songwriter Lorde "posted on Twitter that she was planning a tour, including a stop in Israel, writing: “MOSCOW * ST. PETERSBURG * TEL AVIV * LET’S DANCE ——->.” The JP added "Dozens of fans responded negatively to the news, with many predictably urging her to cancel the show in Tel Aviv and support the boycott of Israel." (The artist cancelled the show, much to the regret of the Israeli public relations firm which was promoting it.)

The opposition included a letter from two New Zealanders suggesting Israel practiced apartheid more brutal than that previously seen in South Africa.  In response but prior to cancellation, Jeffrey Singer of the Forward noted

The writers of the letter, one Jewish and one Palestinian, compared Palestinian treatment in the West Bank to South African apartheid and noted the historic effectiveness of boycotting as a tactic. “Today, millions of people stand opposed to the Israeli government’s policies of oppression, ethnic cleansing, human rights violations, occupation and apartheid,” they wrote.

These charges are heavy indeed, and Lorde has responded that she is “considering all options.” Whatever the singer decides to do, her fans can rest easy knowing that they can enjoy her talents in multiple cities in Russia, a country that would never oppress, participate in ethnic cleansing, commit human rights violations or occupy anything — certainly not Chechnya, Georgia or Crimea. For justice-seeking Lorde fans who don’t mind repressed freedom of expression and a dearth of civil rights, there will always be Russia.

Israel is not South Africa, is not practicing apartheid, and if it were involved in ethnic cleansing, Arab Palestinians would be an historic relic by now. Those who would be satisfied if Israel were to vanish as a Jewish state undoubtedly would resist comparison to President Trump. However, their Mideast viewpoints, fueled by falsehood and hatred, are similarly extremist and unwise.

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Sunday, December 24, 2017

Facilitating A Sham

We must stop fronting for these frauds.

In February, Politico's Tim Alberta interviewed South Carolina senator Mark Sanford and gushed

then he does the strangest thing of all: He lays waste to the president of his own party.

Most Republicans in Washington are biting their tongues when it comes to Donald Trump, fearful that any candid criticisms of the new president could invite a backlash from their constituents or, potentially worse, provoke retribution from the commander in chief himself.

Mark Sanford is not like most Republicans in Washington.

His policy résumé is beyond reproach to those on the right: He was D.C.’s dashing fiscal hawk during his first stint in the House...

In May, the Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe remarked that Senator Jeff

Flake (R-Ariz.) isn’t afraid to buck President Trump — or to defy the Republican orthodoxy in Washington that the agenda is proceeding apace. He did it last year, refusing to support Trump for president, and he’s doing it again now by publicly doubting that the GOP can revamp the nation’s health-care system.

Last month, New York Magazine's Eric Levitz referred to

the tune that GOP leaders have been singing to their party’s few sincere deficit hawks. And those lonely fiscal scolds know they’re being lied to.

“The savings, the score, it just isn’t valid because you know that they’re not going to follow through,” Arizona senator Jeff Flake said recently. “You can’t assume that we’ll grow a backbone later. If we can’t do it now, then it’s tough to do it later.”

Flake isn’t the only Senate Republican who isn’t crazy about drastically expanding the debt that his party spent the past eight years decrying. 

Levitz then cited Flake's Arizona colleague, John McCain, as well as senators Bob Corker (Tennessee), Todd Young (Indiana), and James Lankford (Oklahoma) as among the GOP's "deficit hawks."  For real.  (Video below is from October, 2017.)

These five Republican senators- as well as Representative Sanford- have something in common. They all supported the Corporate Tax Scam of 2017.

John McCain, at home recuperating from surgery for a brain tumor, did not vote but already had made it known that he would support the legislation. The others actually voted in favor of  a bill expected to increase the debt by $1,440,000,000,000.

Corker and Flake, who already have announced their retirement, are probably merely cashing in, anxious to sell themselves to the highest-bidding conservative think tanks, which in turn may enjoy the honor of billing themselves "fiscal hawks" while being fiscally reckless.

Levitz at least acknowledged that only by voting against the tax scheme would GOP senators be putting "fiscal responsibility above upward redistribution."

Lankford, Young, Sanford, and other Republicans may be afraid of a primary challenge or of the tweets- or mere disapproval- of Donald J. Trump. Or they may be living the dream of Paul Davis Ryan, eager to run the deficit up so he may complain later that Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and other pillars of the social safety net must be sacrificed in the name of "fiscal responsibility."

Their motives are not fully known and may be varied. But we do know that they are not fiscally responsible, are not "fiscal conservatives" or "deficit hawks," and are carrying water for President Trump. They are getting are a major break from a media unwilling to acknowledge that GOP talk about debt and deficits was, is, and always shall be all talk and no action.

To Christians: Merry Christmas
                   To Jews: Belated Happy Chanukah
                                     To Donald Trump:  Happy Holidays!

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Saturday, December 23, 2017

Checking Their Manhood (Or Womanhood) At The Door

They come cheap.

Republicans, that is.  From Politico's Burgess Everett and Josh Dawsey, in late October:

Once upon a time, Lindsey Graham called Donald Trump a "jackass." Never to be outdone in the put-down department, Trump labeled the South Carolina senator a "lightweight" and an "idiot" who “seems to me not as bright as Rick Perry.”

Two years after that campaign smackdown, Trump and Graham act like longtime friends, hitting the links and plotting legislative strategy together. The two have formed a surprising kinship even as Graham's best friend, John McCain, is chilly toward a president who once mocked his capture in Vietnam.

In a sign of the dramatic turn in their relationship, during a flight back from South Carolina last week, the president turned to the South Carolina senator and asked if he’d like to take a helicopter back to the White House with him, offering Graham a guided tour.

“How can you not like that?” Graham said in a lengthy interview. “I mean I grew up in the back of a liquor store, first in my family to go to college. I never thought I’d be on Marine One with the president.”

Everett/Dawsey added

How long this will last is anyone's guess: Graham is known as one of the more blunt-spoken senators, and it might just be a matter of time before he whacks the president and Trump hits back.

It has lasted 61 days and counting, with Graham never giving a second's thought to voting against a tax bill set to make Donald Trump millions and his family billions.

One can only hope Sarah Kendzior is right when she hypothesizes that when Russians hacked the RNC email server, they uncovered something about the South Carolinian's sexuality, rumored to be the second or third letter in LGBT. Otherwise, there is no backbone, which goes a ways toward explaining the votes for Trump's judicial nominees and tax plan among members of Congress he has ridiculed and worse.

It's not only men, though. Talking Points Memo links to an item about Mitt Romney's niece, in which

WaPo notes a specific request from Trump earlier this year for McDaniel to stop using her maiden name publicly as she took over as RNC Chair. Advisers said the request happened when Trump told others that mention of the name Romney “often prompted boos at his events.”

A senior Trump administration official and adviser told WaPo the President was “pleased” when McDaniel mostly stopped using the Romney moniker.

McDaniel’s maiden name drop is just one piece of the puzzle in the strife between Trump and Mitt Romney. 

There is some reason that Ronna Romney McDaniel, daughter of a governor and niece of a governor, kept her maiden name (as her middle name) when she got married. Then all it took was a request from a dangerous, narcissistic, egomaniacal misogynist to get her to drop it.

Kendzior remarked “Trump has berated them, he has insulted them. He’s often gone after their wives and their family members, saying terrible things and yet they prostrate themselves to him. What kind of leader are you? What kind of man are you?” And as for Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Deb Fischer, Joni Ernst and Republican women of the House of Representatives: what kind of leader or woman are you?

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Friday, December 22, 2017

Dangerous Myth

In Marbury v. Madison, Chief Justice Marshall warned

The Government of the United States has been emphatically termed a government of laws, and not of men. It will certainly cease to deserve this high appellation if the laws furnish no remedy for the violation of a vested legal right.

Over the decades, we have self-righteously quoted the first half of Marshall's statement without the second half. The theory that ours is a government of laws and not of people has become a cliche in recent decades, assumed without proof. It was incorporated into the Massachusetts constitution in 1780 and asserted approvingly by the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court in 1803, its dominance evidently not to be questioned.

However, while quoting Marshall, Katrina vandenHeuvel in March 2013 wrote

First, the attorney general responded to Senator Rand Paul’s inquiry as to whether the president claimed the “power to authorize a lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a US citizen on US soil and without trial.” After noting that the United States has never done so and has no intention of doing so, Holder wrote that, speaking hypothetically, it is “possible to imagine” an extraordinary circumstance in which that power might become “necessary and appropriate.”

But the reassuring, self-satisfying idea that the USA has a government dominated by law is now being sorely tested, and will be increasingly the next few years. The results, so far, are less than persuasive. In a case (video from nine months ago) in which the Justice Department successfuly argued that the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue

A federal judge on Thursday dismissed a pair of lawsuits claiming that President Donald Trump’s failure to divest himself of his real estate empire and other business holdings violated the Constitution’s provision banning receipt of foreign “emoluments” while in public office.

U.S. District Court Judge George Daniels ruled that the two suits were fatally flawed because the plaintiffs failed to show injury directly related to the use of Trump’s properties by foreign officials and governments....

“As the only political branch with the power to consent to violations of the Foreign Emoluments Clause, Congress is the appropriate body to determine whether, and to what extent, Defendant’s conduct unlawfully infringes on that power,” the judge wrote. “If Congress determines that an infringement has occurred, it is up to Congress to decide whether to challenge or acquiesce to Defendant’s conduct. As such, this case presents a non-justiciable political question.”

One of the cases dismissed Thursday was filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, along with a group of employees and owners of hospitality businesses like restaurant and hotels. The other suit, brought as a class action on behalf of members of the public, was filed by an individual New York attorney, William Weinstein.

This is rich:

“It is wholly speculative whether the Hospitality Plaintiffs’ loss of business is fairly traceable to Defendant’s ‘incentives’ or instead results from government officials’ independent desire to patronize Defendant’s businesses,” the judge wrote. “Even before Defendant took office, he had amassed wealth and fame and was competing against the Hospitality Plaintiffs in the restaurant and hotel business. It is only natural that interest in his properties has generally increased since he became President.”

Excuse me for being impertinent but.... why is it "only natural that interest in his properties has generally increased?" It would be "only natural" if the plaintiffs' loss of business were in fact traceable to President Trump's 'incentives.'  Daniels' reasoning is self-contradictory.

This Judge who leaned over backwards to rule in favor of the President of the United States of America was appointed to a court in New York City by Democratic mayor Koch, reappointed by Democratic mayor Dinkins, elected to the NYS Supreme Court, and appointed a federal judge by President Clinton.

Judge Daniels appears to be a Democrat, and he has struck a blow on behalf Donald J. Trump. He has added to the appearance of a nation of men and not of laws, that a guy can sell his office and set his nation up to be bribed because he is President of the United States of America, (formerly) leader of the free world, and a guy who knows where the bodies are buried.

Stalling is a valuable tactic when ruling in a government of men and not of laws.  The Administration evidently still has not imposed the relatively stringent sanctions against Russia legislated by Congress, previously a "co-equal" branch of the federal government. Shortly before the regime gave to legislators a list which The New York Times observed "appeared to be an attempt to mollify critics," Florida Senator Rubio had remarked "We passed the law. They should execute it. They say they are struggling to identify the companies to sanction. My answer is, sanction the ones you already know and keep adding to the list.” 

This is only going to get worse as the Mueller investigation proceeds, and as a decision ultimately must be made whether to prosecute President Trump for crimes revealed. Expect Donald Trump, much more subtly but as a soulless creature, to respond with "You and whose army?"

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Thursday, December 21, 2017

Hail The Incarnate Deity

".... because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever!" (Romans 1:25, ESV)

Politico's Matthew Nussbaum reports that after passage of the Loot the Joint Act of 2017

“This has been a year of extraordinary accomplishment for the Trump administration,” declared McConnell, who led off the speeches. “We’ve cemented the Supreme Court to the right of center for a generation. Mr. President, thanks to your nominees we put 12 circuit court judges in place — the most since the circuit court system was established in 1891. You hold the record.”

Ryan followed: “Something this big, something this generational, something this profound could not have been done without exquisite presidential leadership. Mr. President, thank you for getting us over the finish line, thank you for getting us where we are.”

And Pence continued: “Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you for your leadership, thank you for your boundless faith in the American people and thank you for keeping your promise to see this Congress deliver the largest tax cut in American history before Christmas of this year.”

“You,” Pence gushed to the president, “will make America great again.”

Trump appeared to soak it all in, smiling and nodding along, playing the role of emcee as he summoned each speaker to deliver his or her thanks.

Nussbaum calls it the "role of emcee;" Trump imagined assuming a much larger role as

“I want to say thank you to Mr. President,” said Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee. “Thank you, President Trump, for allowing us to have you as our president and to make America great again.”

“You’re living up to everything I thought you would,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. “You’re one heck of a leader.”

“Look at all the things that he’s been able to get done, by sheer will in many ways,” he added. “I just hope that we all get behind him every way we can.” This presidency, he went on, could be “the greatest presidency we have seen not only in generations but maybe ever.”

Two theologians, examining the practice of idolatry recognized in Romans 1:25 (above), observed

Paul's indictment there is that by a wretched exchange human beings came to worship and serve "created things rather than the Creator." They have wholly rid themselves of God by substituting other objects in his place.

In this case, it's not an object but rather a man, of whom Republican members of Congress now have become the subjects.  And so Politico notices, it was a "love-fest, a scene unprecedented in any other presidency." Unprecedented in any presidency but not in history for

"They exchanged the truth of God for a lie." (lit. "the lie").  This is the lie above all others- the contention that something or someone is to be venerated in plac of the true God. According to Paul elsewhere, history will repeat itself in that when the man of lawlessness is revealed and demands to be worshiped, people will follow him and reap ruin ecause they have refused the truth and have believed the lie." There, too, God gives them over to strong delusion.

The GOP is now in the throes of an aggressive effort to undermine Robert Mueller, to lay the foundation upon which he can be fired or (more likely) upon which any truth he finds can be discredited. However, that's how it is when a lawless man demands to be worshiped.

“It is written," Jesus purportedly warned, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’” Or as the leaders of today's Republican Party put it, "You shall worship the Lord your God and Donald Trump, and them only shall you serve."

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Lurking Danger

In what seems like months but was barely more than two weeks ago

House Democrats overwhelmingly joined Republicans on Wednesday to defeat an attempt to impeach President Donald Trump. But 58 Democrats supported the bid to consider impeachment over the objections of House Democratic leaders, who viewed the measure as a distraction in a Republican-controlled Congress.

The motion to sideline the measure — killing the effort — was approved 364-58, with four Democrats voting present.

The vote was forced by Rep. Al Green (D-Texas), who introduced articles of impeachment describing Trump as a bigot who incites hate and has demeaned the presidency.

"Donald John Trump, by causing such harm to the society of the United States is unfit to be president and warrants impeachment, trial and removal from office," Green said on the House floor as he introduced the articles.

Of course he does. And that is beside the point, as we learned yet again yesterday.

At Lord God Trump's cabinet meeting following final passage of the Corporate Tax Scam of 2017, there was "a short speech from the person next in line to be the most powerful man in the world" (Pence at 13:45). It included

And I just — I’m deeply humbled, as your Vice President, to be able to be here. Because of your leadership, Mr. President, and because of the strong support of the leadership in the Congress of the United States, you’re delivering on that middle-class miracle…But mostly, Mr. President, I’ll end where I began and just tell you, I want to thank you, Mr. President. I want to thank you for speaking on behalf of and fighting every day for the forgotten men and women of America. Because of your determination, because of your leadership, the forgotten men and women of America are forgotten no more. And we are making America great again.

It included also 14 separate items of praise in less than three minutes for Lord God Trump.

Mike Pence cannot be removed by Donald Trump, who is in trouble politically now and will be far more so if and when the Mueller report is released or, alternatively, after he fires the Special Counsel.

Consider, however, that the Administration now includes a General or Lieutenant General in three critical positions: National Security Advisor, Defense Secretary, and Chief of Staff.  Pence is obsequious to Donald Trump; imagine the danger posed by a President Pence who chooses to surround himself with members of the military.

Donald Trump believes he is the greatest.  A President Pence probably would not believe he himself to be a superior being but might surround himself with indviduals- perhaps adorned with a uniform and medals- whom he is even less willing to question than he is to question Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is sill unfit to be president and warrants impeachment, trial and removal from office.  But Mike Pence is a bootlicker, theocrat, lackey to the Kochs, and "inside man of the conservative money machine." So notwithstanding other substantive reasons, Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer were right to caution "now is not the time to consider articles of impeachment."

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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Wells Fargo Candidate

As a candidate, in July 2006 Donald Trump declared "We must maintain law and order at the highest level or we will cease to have a country, 100 percent. We will cease to have a country. I am the law and order candidate."

Thirteen months later, President Trump tweeted "Phoenix crowd last night was amazing — a packed house. I love the Great State of Arizona. Not a fan of Jeff Flake, weak on crime & border!”  (That same Jeff Flake is voting to give Donald Trump a huge legislative victory on taxes.) Endorsing Roy Moore, on November 21, he told reporters that Doug Jones' record is "terrible on crime. It’s terrible on the border. It’s terrible on the military. I can tell you for a fact, we do not need somebody that’s going to be bad on crime." That was Doug Jones he was talking about.

Donald Trump has spoken out so often against crime and in favor of law and order you might think he actually is opposed to crime. "After crashing the world economy and costing millions of Americans their jobs," Bernie Sanders tweets, "Citigroup & Goldman Sachs took $3.7 trillion in taxpayer bailouts. Now, the GOP is giving them a $15.2 billion tax break."  And President Trump is exultant despite- no, probably because

Wells Fargo in 2016 was fined $185 million for issuing millions of fake credit card accounts. In 2017, it was caught overcharging clients on currency trades and improperly charging homebuyers to lock into low mortgage rates.

And in 2018, it could be about to get the best tax deal of all the big banks.

The Republican tax bill, which seeks to lower the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent, would lead to an average 14 percent in earnings growth for seven of America’s largest banks next year, according to a Monday note from Goldman Sachs analyzing the plan’s implications. (Goldman does not include itself in its analysis.) The biggest winner: Wells Fargo, which would see its earnings jump by 18 percent thanks to the GOP proposal.

Families poor enough to need the earned income tax credit, individuals wanting helath insurance, and the elderly are among the big losers in the GOP's Corporate Tax Scam of 2017. Now, Ryan & McConnell & Co., sticking it to needy Americans for the benefit of the likes of Wells Fargo,.is cheered on by the con artist who has masqueraded as the "law and order" candidate and President.


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Monday, December 18, 2017

The Power Of Positive Lying

Start your week with a good laugh. Politico reports that on Monday morning

“Remember, Republicans are 5-0 in Congressional Races this year. The media refuses to mention this,” the president wrote on Twitter. “I said Gillespie and Moore would lose (for very different reasons), and they did. I also predicted ‘I’ would win. Republicans will do well in 2018, very well!”

Democrat Jimmy Gomez won the election to fill a vacant House seat in California's 34th District.  The President's assertion otherwise may have been simply a mistake by a deeply ignorant man. However,

Despite Trump’s claims that he predicted the respective losses of Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie in Virginia and senatorial candidate Roy Moore in Alabama, the president was outward in his support for both candidates. Trump endorsed both and implored voters to support them via Twitter. In Moore’s case, Trump recorded a robocall on behalf of the GOP candidate and stumped for him at a rally in Pensacola, Florida, just across the Alabama state line.

In Gillespie's case, Trump did not express doubt about the Virginia Republican's candidacy until after his Election Day defeat.

Trump didn't predict that either would be defeated. Had he done so, it would have been a tactical error, especially for a guy who believes in the "power of positive thinking" scam.

Trump didn't predict that either would be defeated. Had he done so, it would have been a tactical error, especially for a guy who believes in the "power of positive thinking" scam.

Trump actually may have precipitated a Moore defeat.  Exit polls showed an even split between voters who approved of the President's performance and of those who did not, while far opted for "strongly disapprove" than "strongly approve."

Moreover, Moore was headed for victory before Trump gave his full-throated endorsement of the disgraced former state supreme court justice on December 4.  Later that day, Chris Cillizza wrote for CNN

In Moore, Trump sees a kindred soul. And now, with Moore bouncing back in polls and seemingly with the momentum in his race against Democrat Doug Jones, Trump wants to be in on the Alabama race so he can claim credit if Moore wins.

Donald Trump may have privately predicted Roy Moore would lose, but if so only because he figured his endorsement would tank the Alabama Republican.  Alternatively, he's a flat-out lying weasel.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Trump Pro-Murder?

In a telephone interview on "Face the Nation" in August, 2015

'The hedge fund guys didn't build this country. These are guys that shift paper around and they get lucky,' Trump said.

'They are energetic. They are very smart. But a lot of them - they are paper-pushers. They make a fortune. They pay no tax. It's ridiculous, ok?'

Trump's comments were referring to the so-called 'carried interest loophole' - a provision in the tax code which allows private equity and hedge fund managers pay taxes at the capital gains rate instead of the ordinary income rate.

Many fund managers are in the top income bracket, but the capital gains tax bracket is only 20 percent.

While these individuals are also required to pay an additional 3.8 percent surtax on their net investment income, this total rate is still far lower than the 39.6 percent rate that top wage earners must pay on their ordinary income.

'Some of them are friends of mine. Some of them, I couldn't care less about,' Trump said.

'It is the wrong thing. These guys are getting away with murder. I want to lower the rates for the middle class.'

A few days later, he would confirm his position, telling John Heileman and Mark Halperin "I would take carried interest out."

It appears Donald J. Trump is in favor of letting murders get away. "These guys are getting away with murder," he told Heileman and Halperin. Yet, in the Corporate Tax Scam of 2017 which the President has pledged to sign

Another missing item: President Trump’s promise to get rid of the carried interest loophole. “Carried interest was unfair, and it’s gone,” Trump said last spring.

But that odious tax break isn’t gone. It’s just been tweaked a little.

Under current law, when managers of private equity funds, venture capital funds and hedge funds reap a share of their investors’ profits, they pay taxes at the low rate that applies to capital gains, not the higher rate that applies to ordinary income.

Under the new law, the fund managers still get that break, as long as they hold the underlying investment for at least three years. Tax experts say most of the managers who claim the loophole won’t find that to be a problem.

Generously, Trump could be given a break. He actually said carried interest was unfair, and "it's gone" is spoken of in the present, rather than the future, tense.

On second thought, he's a flat-out lying weasel.

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Saturday, December 16, 2017

What's The Matter With Trump (Part Infinity)

Fresh off denouncing the Federal Bureau of Investigation,Donald Grump spoke at the graduation ceremony at the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, declaring "what the hell is going on in Chicago?"

Whatever is going on in Chicago, we know what is going on with Donald Trump, as it always is: demagoguery.

Ingratiating himself with police officers (as he does with everyone when face-to-face), Trump blustered

I want to send a message today to those who threaten violence against our police:  We will protect those who protect us.  And we believe criminals who kill police officers should get the death penalty.  (Applause.)

Scenario 1:  Police officer who repeatedly engages in domestic violence assaults his wife when she, using the pistol registered to her husband, shoots and kills him.

Scenario 2: Man who repeatedly engages in domestic violence assaults his wife- who in this case, happens to be a police officer. She uses her revolver and finishes him off.

Donald Trump says both women should get the death penalty, presumably after a fair trial. Both individuals, one of them herself a police officer, were longtime victims of domestic abuse.  Perhaps either or both should be punished, which a jury generally determines. But the President of the United States of America believes both women, including the police officer, should be executed.

He wasn't done. He boasted

To any member of MS-13 listening, I have a message for you: We will find you.  We will arrest you.  We will jail you.  We will throw you the hell out of the country.  (Laughter.)  I mean, somehow, I like it better than jail.  Jail we have to take care of them.  Who the hell wants to take care of them?  (Applause.)  You know the jail stuff is wonderful but we have to pay for it, right?  (Laughter.)

Tough guy. He wants murderous gang leaders arrested and thrown out of the country, after which they can return to to the USA to deal drugs, rape women, and force children into prostitution. Of course, given Trump's distaste for most things American, that might appeal to him.

The President remarked also that

The Department of Justice has also announced more than $98 million in grant funding to help your local police departments hire desperately needed new officers.  Also, just as I promised, we are allowing our local police to access surplus military equipment — something the previous administration, for some reason, refused to do.  (Applause.)  Explain that one.  Explain it to me, please.  Never understood that one.  Somebody out there can explain.  Anybody want to stand up and explain it?  It’d be tough.  (Laughter.)

I can explain it, and I don't even have to stand up to do it.  American cities, already beset by strained, contentious relationships between the minority population and the police, shouldn't have to confront the likes of battlefield rifles, grenade launchers and tracked armored vehicles.  Such things have their places, such as in catastrophic climactic events (which are never, ever caused by climate change). However, if police have them, they will be used, as they were against Iraq war veteran Jose Guerena, a former Marine.

So what the heck is going on with Donald Trump? The usual demagoguery with with a cup of ignorance and a dash of bravado.

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Friday, December 15, 2017

Sorry. The Money Is All Gone.

In floor debate in late November, Senate Finance Committee chairperson Orrin Hatch, who worked with the late Senator Edward Kennedy to create the Children's Health Insurance Program, assured Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown "We're going to get CHIP throught. There's no question about that. I'm going to see that it gets through."

Politico's Haberkorn reported Friday that the Utah Republican stated “We’re going to take good care of CHIP. I can’t tell you exactly when, but we’ll get it done.”

With Republicans in favor of the program and Democrats completely committeed to it, CHIP will sometime in the near future be reauthorized.

Still, Haberkorn added

House Republicans on Wednesday released a spending bill that would fund CHIP for five years but pay for it with cuts to Obamacare and other programs that Senate Democrats would not support. The bill would need Democrats' help to get through the Senate.

Nice little program you got there- it would be a shame if something happened to it.  The GOP is quite willing to fund children's health care- provided that it can chip away at the social safety net elsewhere.

The hostage may be released, but the GOP is bound and determined that a heavy price is paid. It is, after all, the secondary motive for a disastrous tax bill, the primary motive being to please the Party's donors.  Hatch himself gave it away when in the largely empty chamber with Brown, he contended

We're going to do CHIP. There's no question about it in my mind. And it's gotta be done the right way. But- the reason CHIP's having trouble is that we don't have any money anymore. We just add more and more spending and more and more spending and you can look at the  rest of the bill for more and more spending.

"It has to be done the right way... we don't have any money anymore," remarked the Senator who unreservedly voted for the GOP tax plan, targeted to increase the debt by something north of $1 trillion. Excited at the pospect of slashing Medicaid, Speaker Paul Ryan at a conservative event in March bragged to the editor of the National Review "Sending it back to the states, capping its growth rate. We have been dreaming of this since I have been around, since you and I were drinking at a keg.”

Shortly before triumphantly pushing through his chamber the Corporate Tax Cut Sham of 2017, Ryan maintained at a town hall meeting "You cannot get the national debt under control, you cannot get that deficit under control, if you don’t do both — grow the economy, cut spending."  Ryan had commented in a radio interview . "Frankly, it's the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt, so we spend more time on the health care entitlements — because that's really where the problem lies, fiscally speaking."

Frankly, the Speaker dares not utter the words "Medicaid" or "Medicare," and while more detached than Hatch, he's a little more subtle, or at least wonkier. So carrying water for Ryan, Politico's Alberta and Bade characterize the Speaker's goal as "entitlement reform," in which he "tackles what he sees as the systemic problems with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid." Charlie Pierce recognizes “'what he sees as being systemic problems' with Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are that those programs exist at all."

Senator Marco Rubio echoes Ryan's call that Congress "structurally reform" earned benefits. More candid than the Speaker or Hatch, the Florida Republican stated

The only way you are going to deal with the debt is you have to do two things. ... You have got to generate economic growth because growth generates revenue. But you also have to bring spending under control. And not discretionary spending. That isn’t the driver of our debt... The driver of our debt is the structure of Social Security and Medicare for future beneficiaries.

The good news is that individuals currently elderly probably will be left somewhat, relatively, unharmed. Perhaps Hatch and his merry band of oligarchs with a daddy complex will "take care" of people now in retirement age or close to it because elderly people vote. Health care for children also- to whatever extent- will be provided. But all those people in between better hold onto their wallets. The Republican Senate and Republican Senate are coming for you- unless, of course, your parents leave their $11 million estate to you when they die.

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

It's Only Americans They Don't Like

Donald Trump isn't to blame. Sure, he did say that John McCain is considered a hero only because he was captured: that he felt like a soldier by being able to avoid venereal disease while bed-hopping in about New York City in the 1970s; and that he "loves the poorly educated." But when other conservatives disparage, or demonstrate their contempt for, Americans, they themselves should be held accountable.

Sean Hannity, perhaps the most virulent supporter of President Trump in the media, has a lot he should be held accountable for.  Talking recently to a former Navy SEAL and Federal Air Marshal about terrorist attacks, he remarked

If you have a gun pointed at your head, what you do, if you have a gun at your back, if you have a gun at your chest. If somebody pulls out a blade- which can be more deadly than a firearm in some curcumstances if somebody's (sic) trained in the use of that blade.

Hannity wanted to make the point that guns really are not all that deadly, as if Stephen Paddock had the skill to rain dozens of  knives down onto that crowd to kill those 58 persons at the country music concert in Las Vegas. Luckily, Sean further enlightens us about how victims themselves are responsible for being murdered as he continues

You're telling people that they have got to understand what this is about for them and what they need to know and how they're going to deal with evil if  it confronts them in life... The average person walking through the streets of New York City, they've got their headphones on or in their ear or they're text-walking or they're talking on their phone with zero situational awareness.

He's pretty clear here: it's not some people or some irresponsible people. It's the average person who is acting irresponsibly and begging to be attacked. Mercilessly, he adds "where do you sit in restaurants, I mean, there are certain little things that yo can do to increase your safety odds that if something happens- even a movie theatre for crying out loud."

Understandably, people may want to cry out loud listening to Hannity blaming (potential) victims for the crimes of those who would do them harm, as if the normal response to a the question of a maitre d', a waiter, or a cook of "where would you like to sit" is "where I'm least likely to get shot."

But while it's not surprising that a Trump enthusiast would get into the business of bashing Americans, it's discouraging that it's becoming more common among individuals not immersed in politics. Shortly before Lindsey Vonn injured her back while training for the Winter Olympics scheduled for St. Moritz, Switzerland in February, she had told CNN's Alpine Edge

Well I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president (because) I take the Olympics very seriously and what they mean and what they represent, what walking under our flag means in the opening ceremony.

She aded "I want to represent our country well. I don't think that there are a lot of people currently in our government that do that." Responding to a question about being invited to the White House,  she stated "Absolutely not. No. But I have to win to be invited. No actually I think every US team member is invited so no I won't go."

Tweeting "Anti-Trump Olympian Lindsey Vonn Just Injured in Ski Accident," a Trump enthusiast received 189 likes and dozens of people expressing their glee.  At least 33 of the latter cited "karma," which suggests the distrust many Trumpists have for science or rationality.

Sixteen people cited "MAGA" in their hashtag, their twitter handle, or simply as a message to those who presumably don't want to make America great again. That, too, is telling:  an athlete asserts "I hope to represent the people of the United States" and "I want to represent our country well" and Trump supporters, including this Fox News host, are appalled.

In an Instagram message, Vonn herself wrote

It is hurtful to read comments where people are hoping I break my neck or that God is punishing me for being "anti-Trump." We need to find a way to put aside our differences and find common ground in communicating. 

Vonn wants to find that common ground. And most of the people somewhat on the left, including newly-elected Doug Jones, also do. However, their critics instead aim to remake America in their idealized image with a boosterish, even hucksterish, nationalism. That is the idea of America they love- even as they are not fond, not fond at all, of their fellow citizens.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The President Of The One-Track Mind

You've all seen this tweet, sent by President Trump twelve hours before polls closed in an election I had totally wrong:

Donald J. Trump

Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office “begging” for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!
8:03 AM - Dec 12, 2017

Amanda Marcotte replied with with three tweets, one of them

Amanda Marcotte
Trump supporters, this morning: Step one, read Trump saying Gillibrand would do “anything” for donations, chuckle merrily to yourself while making a rude sexual gesture. Perhaps say something lewd about her to a friend or your wife.
1:21 PM - Dec 12, 2017

Indirectly, Marcotte- not specifying Trump as the recipient of the sexual favor- inadvertently laid the groundwork for Sarah Huckabee Sanders' slick, albeit crassly dishonest, defense of her guy during her Tuesday news conference. Responding to a question about "sexual innuendo" Sanders claimed

I think that the President is very obvious, this is the same sentiment that the President has expressed many times before when he's exposed the corruption of the entire political system. In fact, he's used similar terminology many times when talking about politicians of both parties, both men and women. And certainly in his campaign to drain the swamp. The system is clearly broken, it's clearly rigged for special interests, and this president is someone that can't be bought, and it's one of the reasons that he's President today.

Sanders cleverly misinterpreted Trump's tweet, which Marcotte already had misinterpreted.  The President's spokesperson shifted the argument to one about "politicians of both parties" allegedly being corrupt and implied that they beg for money from special interests.  After the follow-up question, she remarked "politicians repeatedly beg for money, that's not something new."

But Trump had not referred to Gillibrand specifically or special interests generally.  Instead, he spoke of one particular individual who approached one person specifically: someone who would come to my office "begging" for campaign contributions... (and would do anything for them).

The President said nothing about other politicians and nothing about any doing things for a myriad of special interests. He said she came to him for money and would do anything for it. It's his fantasy, one not uncommon among men who both long for and ridicule practitioners of the oldest profession.

American Urban Radio reporter April Ryan tried to meet the Administration halfway, choosing not to say that Trump had employed sexual innuendo but merely that it had been interpreted that way.  "Are Democrats owed an apology," she asked, "for their misunderstanding of the tweet this morning because they, including the Senator, think it's about sexual innuendo?"

The proper answer- given Sanders' denial(s)- would have been "we cannot be responsible for misinterpretation of the President's statement."

Of course, Sanders chose not to defend the boss but to attack his skeptics. She replied "only if your mind is in the gutter would you have read it that way," thus demonstrating a) she is extraordinarily sexually naive; b) she is a ruthless, crude defender of someone more ruthless and crude than most of us ever have met or heard about; or c) the Administration, valuing only victory and strength, cannot be reasoned with, only challenged and defeated.

I vote (b) and (c).  In 2013, Donald J. Trump told Celebrity Apprentice contestant Brande Roderick, a former Playboy playmate, "it must be a pretty picture you dropping to your knee." Some things never change.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Franken Must Go- If....

It was six days- nearly a week- ago that Bruce Bartlett, having had enough, tweeted

The issue is not whether charges against Franken are true; I assume they are & charges against Trump are also true. But I don't hear progressives demanding that Trump resign, only that Franken resign. It's the double standard that the left enforces on itself that drives me crazy.

On Sunday, December 10, Kirsten Gillibrand became the fifth US senator (all Democrats) to call on Donald Trump to resign or consider resigning as President because of the allegations that he has harassed and/or assaulted numerous women. She had been preceeded by Vermont senator Sanders, New Jersey senator Booker, and Oregon senators Merkley and Wyden, though Ms. Gillibrand was notably the first woman to have asked Trump to step down.

Still (as they all realize) Donald Trump won't resign, so their pleas will prove of very limited value. That is, unless they take that emphatic advice from Bartlett, who served Presidents Reagan and Bush 41.  On the same day as his other tweet, Bartlett had remarked "Democrats are so stupid. The obvious thing to say about the Al Franken business is that he will resign the day Trump resigns."

This plan is brilliantly simple. There is no concern that President Trump will call their bluff because Trump still would refuse to resign. Althoug at that point, Democrats would need a response, if Alabama voters do the predictable today (Tuesday), they have one begging to be used: Franken will resign once there is an ethics investigation of Senator-elect Roy Moore.

This would box in Senate Majority Leader McConnell, who otherwise is unlikely to initiate an ethics investigation because of the bad publicity it would engender for the GOP.  He could accept the Democrats' challenge, in which case well-publicized, possibly lurid, hearings would do his Party no good.  Alternatively, he could stubbornly refuse an investigation.  Not only could Democrats then use a Senator Moore as a campaign weapon (which they are expected to do anyway,) but McConnell's refusal would throw upon the issue greater attention because it would be coupled with the Franken matter.

Bartlett believes the Democratic Party is "stupid" because it demanded that one of its own, Al Franken, resign with no questions asked. But when members of the Congressional Black Caucus, singed by pressure on John Conyers to resign, alleged a double standard, other Democratic pols took notice. When that was coupled with a recommendation from seven female Senators that Franken resign, the Party had no choice. The base would not be denied.

But Democratic members of the House and the Senate, especially blacks and women, are not fond of President Trump.  There likely would be little pushback from anyone in the Party if the  resignation of one (of 100) Senators was linked to that of the President of the United States. The Party wasn't necessarily stupid by pressuring Al Franken to go back to Minnesota. Nonetheless, if in the wake of calls for President Trump to resign they don't link the two, Bruce Bartlett's characterization would be proven accurate, and clearly so.

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On a Positive Note, It's What He Believes

During the War of 1812, Master Commandant Oliver Perry wrote to Major General William Henry Harrison " we have met the enemy and they ...