Friday, March 10, 2017

When It Comes To Putin-Gate, Who In Congress Really Will Stand And Deliver?


At some point around 1980, Stuart Goddard (AKA- Adam Ant) had to decide if the band he led was going to be a modern boy band and go for the gold via a path used by contemporaries like Classic Nouveaux, ABC, Simple Minds, Heaven 17, Blancmange... and later so successfully trod by groups like the New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys, or go for the glory of competing with the big boys-- like The Clash, The Smiths and Generation X. If the video above confuses you, don't worry; it confused Stuart and his mates as well. Right after Kings of the Wild Frontier won the BRIT Award for Best Album, the band broke up.

Conservative Virginia Democrat Mark Warner-- one of the richest members of Congress-- isn't going to "break up," but he's at, as Matt Flegenheimer put it for NY Times readers yesterday, a stand-and-deliver moment of his own.

ProgressivePunch rates Warner's lifetime crucial vote score an "F" and there are only 4 Senate Dems with more conservative voting records-- Claire McCaskill, Joe Donnelly, Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp-- who are differentiated from Warner inasmuch as their states all went strongly for Trump and Warner's state went comfortably for Clinton. Also, those 4 are up for reelection in 2018 and Warner isn't. Interestingly, his power base has always been in rural, red-leaning southwest Virginia, Trump's strongest areas of the state. Trump lost Virginia 49.9% to 45.0% but won Morgan Griffiths' VA-09 (Blacksburg and Bristol) 68.8% to 27.3% (easily his biggest margin in the state) and won Bob Goodlatte's VA-06 (Roanoke and Lynchburg) 59.7% to 34.9%, his second biggest win in the state.Traditionally, that's been Warner country, although he has to be aware after his near-debacle in 2014, that to win he has to super-serve voters in the suburbs in the DC area, Richmond, Norfolk and the less Republican parts of the state. It's not 2001 or 2008 anymore.

No doubt Warner is happiest on the Finance and Budget committees but he's the ranking Democrat-- vice chair-- of the Select Committee on Intelligence and that is what's taking up his time and energy right now.

Flegenheimer reports that Warner is communicating "over the encrypted app Signal, just to be safe," seemingly not aware-- neither Flegenheimer nor Warner that Signal actually makes it easier for professional spies to hack your communications-- even if it helps protect you from the neighborhood children trying out hacking. Warner calls the investigation into Putin-Gate "probably the most important thing I’ve done in public life."
As Republicans resist calls for a select committee or special prosecutor to oversee the matter, the Democrats’ best hope for acquiring answers most likely remains an investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee, where Mr. Warner is vice chairman.

The result, at the height of anti-Trump fervor and Wall Street-bashing progressivism in the Democratic Party’s base, is a spotlight trained brightly on a southern-state centrist with a nine-figure net worth, a decade-old itch to be president and, until recently, according to friends and former aides, a healthy disdain for the institution he serves.

...The minefields are many, politically and procedurally, as Mr. Warner strains to hold the committee together and maintain his own credibility with peers in both parties.

He is working to assuage the concerns of Democrats who suspect that Senator Richard Burr, Republican of North Carolina and the committee’s chairman, is not especially interested in a thorough investigation.

But he has taken care not to alienate Mr. Burr, a vocal Trump supporter during the campaign.

These dueling impulses collided last month when Mr. Warner publicly scolded his Republican colleague after the Washington Post reported that Mr. Burr had spoken with the White House and engaged with news organizations to dispute reports that associates of Mr. Trump had consistent contact with Russian intelligence operatives.

In the interview, Mr. Warner called Mr. Burr a friend and declined to detail their private conversations. Other Democrats have been less muted.

Warner would like to run for president in 2020 and there's probably no worse candidate the Democrats could try. He makes Hillary Clinton look like... Bernie Sanders. We'll see if he has the strength and fortitude to lead Burr and the rest of the Republicans (including Rubio Cotton and Cornyn) and some really conservative Democraps (like Joe Manchin and DiFi) into the kind of thorough and intense investigation Putin-Gate merits. My guess is that he has neither the strength and fortitude nor the courageousness it would take.

And the House Intelligence Committee-- the partisan bunch of assholes led by enemy-of-the-people Devin Nunes-- is pretty hopeless, even if Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell are uncharacteristically and sincerely stepping up to the plate. I'd much rather see someone like Ted Lieu, who isn't on the Intelligence Committee, lead the Democratic efforts to find out, in Señor Trumpanzee's words, "what the hell is going on." Between the lies spewing out of Team Trump-- all corraborated by the Kremlin and its agents-- and the revelations from intelligence agencies, there is no doubt that someone unafraid of stepping on toes and hitting hard-- someone like Ted Lieu. not Mark Warner-- is what the Democrats need. Yesterday he introduced a resolution of inquiry that would compel the Trump and Sessions to submit to Congress any documents that could connect the Trump campaign with the Russian effort to compromise America's democracy. The resolution states that the two of them must reveal "Any meeting or communication between any formal or informal advisor, affiliate, or employee of Donald Trump, his campaign or transition team, and any individual or entity representing the interests of Russia or individuals with interests involving Russia."

December Bromance

Ted explained what he's trying to accomplish. "For the good of our Republic, there must be a full accounting of any and all ties between Russia, President Trump, his administration and his associates. Russia waged an unprecedented, robust, covert effort to alter the outcome of our nation's 2016 election. The importance of fully understanding if Team Trump colluded with Russia cannot be overstated. This resolution seeks the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth when it comes to the issue of Trump and Russia... The American people have an absolute right to know the truth about Trump and his team's ties to Russia now."


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At 3:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two items from Norman Solomon:

1) "Many Americans have overlooked the U.S. government’s fantastic hacking achievements. This is most unfair and disrespectful to the dedicated men and women of intelligence services like the CIA and NSA. Far from the limelight, they’ve been working diligently to undermine democracy not just overseas but also here at home.

Today, the massive new trove of CIA documents can help to put things in perspective. Maybe now people will grasp that our nation’s undermining of democracy is home-grown and self-actualized. It’s an insult to the ingenious capacities of the United States of America to think that we can’t do it (to) ourselves.

Contrary to all the public relations work that U.S. intelligence agencies have generously done for them, the Russians don’t even rank as peripheral to the obstacles and prospects for American democracy. Rest assured, throughout the long history of the United States, we haven’t needed foreigners to get the job done.

In our current era, can Vladimir Putin take any credit for purging huge numbers of African Americans, Latinos and other minority citizens from the voter rolls? Of course not.

Did Putin create and maintain the barriers that prevented many low-income people from voting on November 8? Only in his dreams.

Can the Kremlin hold a candle to the corporate-owned cable TV channels that gave Donald Trump umpteen free hours of uninterrupted air time for speeches at his campaign rallies? Absolutely not.

Could any Russian operation claim more than a tiny sliver of impact compared to the handiwork of FBI Director James Comey as he boosted Donald Trump’s prospects with a pair of gratuitous announcements about a gratuitously re-opened probe of Hillary Clinton’s emails during the last days of the 2016 campaign? No way.

Is Putin anything but a miniscule lightweight in any efforts to manipulate the U.S. electorate compared to “dark money” American billionaires like the Koch brothers? Give us a break.

And how about the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? The Kremlin can only marvel at the way that the CIA, the NSA and the bipartisan leadership in Washington have shredded the Fourth Amendment while claiming to uphold it."

2) The title of another piece: "Trump Can Prove He’s Not a Putin Puppet by Blowing Up the World"

To put it another way: if the Deep State can goad the incontrovertibly unstable Herr Hair into nuclear holocaust, the HRC will have won!!!

John Puma


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