Tuesday, May 22, 2018

When It Comes To Corruption, Is There Really A Lesser Of Two Evils?


Schumer has accepted more in Wall St. bribes ($26.7 million) than McConnell and Ryan combined ($24.7 million)

Michael Tomasky predicted at the Daily Beast Monday that if the Democrats focus exclusively on policy rather than Trump's scandals, failing to hold Trump accountable, it will cost them the midterms. He reminded his readers that on Sunday Trump "tweeted that he is ordering an investigation of the investigation into him. His campaign, okay; but him"... and implored his reader to "Think about that... [T]his president-- who, it is documented, has spent 40 years lying to and defrauding people in business, and who lies nearly every time he speaks-- and his apologists have so corrupted our system that some people are discussing Trump’s move as if it’s legitimate. Just another interesting twist and turn in Donald Trump’s Washington, ha ha.
No. It’s not. It’s a scandal. It’s the biggest sign yet that Trump knows and respects no law and will use every tool he can to thwart an investigation that is obviously legitimate. We learned over the weekend from the Times that Russia may not be the half of it, a Gulf emissary reportedly offered to help Trump win the election. Again, the August 2016 meeting involving Donald Trump Jr., Erik Prince, and people from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel (what a troika!) is not denied by Trump spokespeople; nor, so far, is the fact that Don Jr. “responded approvingly” to their offers of help. Boom. That alone is collusion and is illegal. As even Steve Bannon knows, if you’re part of a presidential campaign, you call the FBI the moment you even receive such an offer.

With each revelation, Trump becomes more unhinged and more accusatory and thinks up new ways to try to discredit the FBI and entire principle of independent investigations of the executive branch. He and his campaign almost certainly cheated, and all he does-- this is the president of the United States-- is lie and turn the tables, trying to delegitimize the entire Department of Justice.

...Lately there’s been some chatter about whether Democrats want to talk about Trump heading into the midterms. My colleagues Sam Stein and Gideon Resnick reported that congressional Democrats were refusing to go on cable shows because they want to talk about prescription drug prices but cable wants to talk about Trump. Then I reported that four leading Democratic presidential hopefuls seemed to go out of their way at a major liberal conference to avoid mentioning the president.

This is a guaranteed losing strategy. Candidates campaigning in districts can talk about prescription drugs and other matters all they want. This will happen well below the radar of cable news shows, but voters will hear them. Meanwhile, the national party has to talk about Trump. If a narrative develops between now and November that the Democrats want to be “careful” about how they speak of Trump, core Democratic voters will be demoralized and disgusted.

I can hear the answer back: We’re letting Mueller take care of that. If and when he issues a report before Election Day, we’ll pounce. That’s too cautious. It depends on the actions of someone else. It’s not enough. I’m sure they’d also say we don’t want to get sucked into the impeachment trap, seem like we’re too eager to impeach Trump. But that’s easily enough avoided. All they need to say is we’ll follow the evidence and see where it leads.

But the point they need to emphasize is that unlike the Republicans, they’ll look for the evidence. They’ll look into the Trump Hotel. They’ll haul Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke and Ben Carson up before Congress to explain things. They’ll focus on what’s been happening at the Veterans’ Administration. They’ll investigate policies and outcomes, from the environment to the tax bill (oversight can be “substantive” too, and thus seen as not just “political”). They’ll investigate this Jakarta thing, which has barely been discussed in the media but which alone would have floored this city in normal times. And yes, you bet they’ll investigate the campaign.

The president is lawless. His lawyer is lawless. Both of his lawyers. All they know is to lie, deny, distort, extort, and bully. The country is being governed by Mafiosi values. If the Democrats are unwilling to say that, they’ll let down millions of Americans who are counting on them to defend the law, and they’ll lose, and deserve to. History sometimes presents moments when caution is called for. This isn’t one of them.
It will be hard for the House Democrats to find anyone in Congress more overtly corrupt that their next party leader, Queens Democratic Machine boss and Wall Street whore, Joe Crowley. And what about Debbie Wasserman Schultz? Last time I looked she was still a Democrat in Congress. But they may need to look for someone more corrupt that those two after releasing another plank in their 2018 platform yesterday: "A Better Deal for Our Democracy."

Writing for the Washington Post Mike DeBonis reported at 5AM that the Democrats’ newest midterm pitch is a crackdown on corruption. Oh God! The Republicans may be are certainly grotesquely corrupt, with Trump in our outside the equation, but is anyone supposed to think the Democrats are a scintilla better? Did they for example move against Tony Cárdenas yet? At least Ryan forced Blake Farenthold to resign-- and his victims weren't even underage!
Democrats are preparing to highlight allegations of corruption surrounding the Trump administration-- and a legislative agenda to prevent future abuses-- as they continue rolling out their party platform ahead of November’s midterm elections.

The first planks of the “A Better Deal” platform, released last year, focused on the party’s economic agenda. Now, with questions about pay-to-play politics swirling around President Trump and his current and former aides, Democrats are set to introduce anti-corruption proposals Monday billed as “A Better Deal for Our Democracy.”

According to a senior Democratic official familiar with the announcement, the new agenda will include proposals that would eliminate loopholes that allow lobbyists and lawmakers to buy and sell influence without the public’s knowledge. The message: Elect Democrats in November to “clean up the chaos and corruption in Washington.”

One proposal-- which would tighten the federal laws governing lobbying disclosures and foreign-agent registration-- responds to the apparent sale of influence by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer. According to recently disclosed financial records, Cohen earned millions of dollars from companies that wanted to secure access to Trump’s inner circle in the early days after his 2016 win.

But Cohen never registered as a lobbyist or otherwise disclosed the payments-- possibly because, under federal law, only those who spend more than 20 percent of their time on lobbying on behalf of a client must register as a lobbyist. Democrats will propose to change the law so any lobbying contact would have to be publicly reported.

Another proposal could rewrite federal statutes that might have allowed lawmakers of both parties to skirt convictions on bribery and pay-to-play allegations-- including former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell (R), former senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) and  Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ.). All were charged with fraud violations but were then acquitted or had their convictions overturned after courts found that their actions were not criminal under the current letter of federal law.

“This administration is failing to police itself, to set moral standards, to clean up its messes, to shun corrupt behavior, and to drain the swamp,” the Democratic official said. “It’s the American people who are getting stuck with a raw deal. That has to change.”

The proposals are set to be rolled out Monday afternoon on Capitol Hill with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and several other congressional Democrats who have been engaged in anti-corruption issues, including Rep. John Sarbanes (MD) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI).

The new Democratic focus on corruption as a campaign message marks a return to a formula that helped put Democrats into the House majority in the 2006 midterm elections-- after numerous scandals including the Jack Abramoff and Duke Cunningham revelations put pay-to-play politics on the public’s political radar in a big way. Polling done after the election showed that the tide of corruption helped swing votes to Democrats, and the party’s official now sees signs of similar concerns among voters.

Democrats, the official said, will make the case that they are best equipped to rein in what they are calling “the most corrupt administration in modern times” and are prepared to connect the corruption allegations to a Republican governing agenda that has delivered outsize tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans and dismantled financial and environmental regulations that aimed to protect average taxpayers.

Democrats are also preparing to highlight an apparent atmosphere of rule-bending, if not rule-breaking, in the Trump administration. Several Trump Cabinet members-- including Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, as well as former Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price and former Veterans Affairs secretary David Shulkin-- have been subject to official investigations of questionable spending on travel and other expenses.

Labels: , , ,

How Toxic Would Trump Be Campaigning For House Republicans In Swing District?


Read any of that stuff about how most Democratic candidates don't want the Clintons campaigning for them? Reactionary Democrats like Andrew Cuomo (NY) and Dianne Feinstein (CA) are exceptions; they love the idea of Hillary. (New York scold Kirsten Gillibrand-- who had been proud to run racist advertising against Latinos when she was in the House, is telling the media that "Bill Clinton should have resigned the presidency after his inappropriate relationship with an intern came to light nearly 20 years ago." Democratic senators in tough campaigns Claire McCaskill (MO) and Heidi Heitkamp (ND) went out of their way to very publicly tell Hillary to stay away.

Democratic candidates would also appreciate Nancy Pelosi to not make any public appearances in their districts. Republicans-- especially Republicans in swing districts-- feel the same way about Paul Ryan. And when Ryan does show up to wrangle big checks out of multimillionaires and billionaires he does it quietly and away from the media. Same with McConnell. McConnell, in fact, is the most unpopular politician in America-- and not just among Democrats. Republican voters have him too.

Democrats want Bernie campaigning for them in their districts. And Elizabeth Warren. And Randy @IronStache Bryce. Others we hear Democrat candidates requesting are Keith Ellison and the members of Congress who are on MSNBC a lot, like Ted Lieu, Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell.

What about Trump? Of course swing district Democrats would do anything to get him campaigning in their districts with their opponents. Yesterday Bryce's sassy campaign manager, David Keith told me that "We welcome the day Trump comes, as it'll greatly help us engage with those working families who have been left behind and are ready to stand up and fight. Bernie came to talk about hope and lift the working people up. Trump will come-- and while he'll argue he's doing the same-- and simply lie on behalf of the big corporations looking to ship jobs oversees. It's a slap in the face to working people on behalf of Ryan's job-exporting driver and/or Paul Nehlen, the Nazi... and the working people will know it."

Sunday, McClatchey ran a piece by Katie Glueck about how House Republicans are refusing to even answer questions about Trump coming to their districts. Of course, in deep red districts, filled with low-IQ Republicans and few normal people-- like districts represented by fascists Mo Brooks (AL), Matt Gaetz (FL), Louie Gohmert (TX), Jim Jordan (OH) and Liz Cheney (WY)-- they'd roll out the red carpet for Señor Trumpanzee-- and any of the cast of characters around him. One Republican in a deep red district that Trump won with nearly 70% told me-- obviously on condition of anonymity that it would make his skin crawl to do a rally with Trump but that his constituents like Trump more than they like him, so he'd do it in a second. "I'd have to take a hot shower afterwards, of course," he said, giggling.

DuWayne Gregory is in a tough Long Island district where Trump beat Hillary 53.0% to 43.9%. But he knows a Trump visit is going to motivate Democrats and independent voters in a way that isn't going to help incumbent Peter King. "The people of the 2nd Congressional District, he told me, "are still recovering from Donald Trump’s last visit when he encouraged police officers to rough up suspects. This community doesn’t need anymore of his division. We are a community united to fight against his bigotry against immigrants and Paul Ryan and Peter King’s lack of leadership in standing up for what is right." Right now DuWayne is putting together a rally with a respected-- even beloved-- Democrat in his district. It's a surprise though, so I can't tell yet. Trump also won in the Oklahoma district Tom Guild is running in. Guild told us he "would enthusiastically welcome Bernie coming to Oklahoma to support our campaign. I’ll leave it up to Mr. Russell to decide if he wants Mr. Trump to appear on his behalf in 2018." Levi Tillemann is the progressive Democrat running in the Denver suburbs against GOP stooge Mike Coffman. "According to the polling we’ve done," he told me, "Trump is actually more popular than Coffman in the district. So I guess Coffman would probably embrace the opportunity. If there’s one thing we learned over the years it’s that Mike Coffman flows like water towards political expediency."
The question of whether endangered GOP candidates want President Donald Trump to campaign with them sparked dodges, lengthy pauses and a cascade of caveats in interviews with about two dozen GOP House members who are facing varying degrees of competition in races this fall.

But the answer several Republicans from tough districts have settled on is, sure-- if Trump will campaign on their terms.

“It depends,” said Fitzpatrick, a Republican from a suburban Philadelphia district that Democrats are targeting. “On what issue is he campaigning for me? If he campaigns on term limits-- I just met with him on that. If he’s able to get public support behind it, absolutely.”

But would a campaign rally be helpful? “We’ll see, we’ll see what our schedule is looking like,” he said, getting into an elevator at the Capitol.

Rep. David Valadao of California, whose district Hillary Clinton won by nearly 16 percentage points, offered a similar calculation: “If it’s a topic like water or something positive on immigration that actually benefits us-- I think if the president of the United States wants to come to the district to highlight something that’s actually helpful to the district, I think it would make sense, but it depends on the topic.”

And Miami-area Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who represents the most Democratic-leaning district in the country held by a Republican running for reelection this year, suggested he would welcome Trump's help-- if he "supports my work."

"I’m not asking nor have I ever asked anyone to come down and campaign, I don’t need it from anyone,” said Curbelo, who is leading an effort to force votes on immigration-related bills, rankling House conservatives. “The conditions for anyone to support me, to campaign for me, is that they support my work and are helping me achieve it for the benefit of the country."

Midterm elections are often challenging for the president’s party, and the question of where polarizing presidents can campaign tends to be a fraught one. It’s a reality that has applied to a range of leaders including Presidents George W. Bush in 2006 and Barack Obama in 2010 and 2014, when beleaguered candidates from their respective parties were loathe to make joint appearances or offer public praise.

...“It might help get out the base who might not be as fervently for a candidate such as myself,” said retiring GOP Rep. Ryan Costello, who currently represents another Philadelphia-area suburban district Clinton won. “I think, though, it would be a reminder, negatively, to swing voters who view him unfavorably but who I would want to have respond to my message of being an independent check-and-balance.”

...Still, the majority of candidates McClatchy interviewed said they would be open to Trump on their trail-- though their enthusiasm in answering that question, and the level of detail they provided in their responses, swung wildly.

“Yeah, I've encouraged every president, every president, to come to my district,” Rep. Jeff Denham of California said after pausing for a few seconds. Like Valadao, who also represents the Central Valley, Denham then turned back to local issues, referencing a water controversy. “To have our president come to take a look at our water being shut off, at our communities being devastated, that is something I would definitely support."
Westside Congressman Ted Lieu, the regional vice chair of the DCCC-- and the only competent person working for the organization-- cut right to the chase when I asked him how he'd feel about Trump coming to Orange County or the Central Valley to campaign for the embattled and vulnerable Republican incumbents in those two areas. This is what he told me: "I sincerely hope Trump shows up in California to campaign for Republican congressional candidates here. The DCCC is going to spend a lot of money tying Trump to these candidates, and this would make the job that much easier. I would gladly pay the permit fee for Trump to show up in California to do one of his toxic rallies. It would be super awesome for Democrats if Californians can see Trump unleashed. It would be even better if Trump brought Scot Pruitt and Ted Nugent with him and went full MAGA. Trump's xenophobic and bigoted rallies will jack up Democratic turnout and horrify independents in California."

...Doug Heye, a former communications director for the Republican National Committee, said it was one thing for candidates in competitive seats to voice enthusiasm for a Trump visit. It’s another thing entirely to actually pursue one.

“They’ve got to take care of their base,” he said. “If you’re telling your base, ‘I don’t want Trump to come,’ you run the risk of being judged by that, and having people unhappy and everything that comes along with that. … I think it’s a different issue when it comes to actual campaigning. I think we’ll see Trump in really red places more than anywhere else.”

But Texas Rep. Pete Sessions, who represents a district Clinton won, beamed when asked if he would want Trump to show up in his suburban Dallas district. He answered in the affirmative before a reporter finished asking the question.

"Awesome, I welcome him with open arms," Sessions said. "Can you invite him for me?"
The progressive running for the Dallas-area seat, TX-32, Sessions is occupying, Lillian Salerno, told me yesterday that she "would not be surprised if the President campaigned for one of the most reliable yes men. After all, Congressman Sessions was instrumental in helping the President nearly get away with taking health care coverage from 22 million Americans. That's devotion. The reason I ran was precisely because we need to win this seat in order to help hold Trump accountable. Trump and the rigged  system know that they must remain in power to continue the fraud on the American people. This means control of Congress. I am in this race to make sure the corporate Democrat doesn’t win and I am on the ballot to beat Sessions."

Ron Brownstein, reporting for CNN, noted this morning that as Trump's daily "bombshells detonate, sometimes within hours of each other, congressional Republican leaders then react with little more than a shrug. Even more important, the vast majority of the Republican electoral coalition increasingly responds the same way... The elimination of any distance between Trump and the conventional Republican interests that controlled the party before him has happened so incrementally it can be difficult to discern from day to day. But it remains one of the central political dynamics of 2018. Over the long term, Trump's success at stamping his polarizing brand on the GOP remains a huge electoral gamble for the party because it risks alienating the young, well-educated and diverse groups growing, rather than shrinking, in the electorate. But in the near-term, the GOP's choice to ally so unequivocally with such a unique president may have the paradoxical effect of producing a much more conventional midterm election than seemed possible earlier this year."

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

How Will Trumpy The Clown Do In Singapore Against Kim Jong Un?


Is Kim Jong Un smarter that Señor Trumpanzee? Probably. Or at least he knows that Trump is a habitual liar and that nothing he says or agrees to is worth anything at all. Trump very publicly spent his entire life lying to and cheating everything he's negotiated with. Why would this meeting with Kim be any different? When Bolton let the cat out of the bag a couple of weeks ago-- that the U.S. foresees Kim winding up dead in a ditch, his country reduced to anarchy, like Gaddafi and Libya after they were tricked into giving up their nuclear deterrent-- Trump was forced to contradict him with more of his barely coherent, infantile blather: "The Libyan model isn't a model that we have at all when we're thinking of North Korea. The model, if you look at that model with Gaddafi, that was a total decimation. We went in there to beat him. Now that model would take place if we don't make a deal, most likely. But if we make a deal, I think Kim Jong-un is going to be very, very happy," Mr Trump said. He'd be there, he'd be in his country, he'd be running his country, his country would be very rich... Nothing has changed on North Korea that we know of. We have not been told anything. And if it does that's fine and if it doesn't I think we'll probably have a very successful meeting."

The North Koreans might believe it if Trump sent them Bolton's head on a pike. Vice-Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan issued a statement about Bolton: "We do not hide our feeling of repugnance towards him." The Washington Post noted today that "Trump advisers have expressed alarm at Pyongyang’s hostile rhetoric and actions over the past week, questioning whether Kim is committed to pledges to seriously discuss denuclearization." Maybe Trump should send Bolton's head in return for the whole nuclear arsenal. Nobel Peace Prize, Trumpanzee, Nobel Peace Prize.

On the other hand, as the Aoociated Press reported this morning, "Going into the North Korea meeting, senior administration officials say, the president has been almost singularly focused on the pageantry of the summit--including the suspenseful roll-out of details. He has not been deeply engaged in briefing materials on North Korea’s nuclear program, said three people with knowledge of the White House efforts." He's "staring down a dealmaker’s worst nightmare: overpromising and under-delivering."
As the Singapore meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un draws near, the president and his allies are growing increasingly anxious about how he can score a win on the world stage. While Trump has not suggested he wants to back out, he has struggled to define his objectives for the historic sit-down and last week he drew fresh criticism from his foreign foil.

“I think that Trump imagined he would go into this meeting and be able to have a historic breakthrough with a deal, but it’s clear he’s starting to realize it won’t be as easy as he imagined,” said Jean Lee, director of the North Korea program at the Woodrow Wilson Center and a former Associated Press bureau chief in Pyongyang.

Trump, who has pitched himself as the ultimate negotiator, has focused on ambitious deals as president but has struggled with the fine print. He just hit the pause button on his threatened trade war with China, announcing an agreement to reduce America’s trade deficit with China-- but few details. He recently withdrew the U.S. from the international Iran-nuclear deal-- without outlining a path forward with his allies. And his Middle East peace plan, which he deputized his son-in-law to lead, is months overdue and facing a more skeptical audience than ever.

Supporters stress that sometimes Trump’s ambitious efforts do pay off, as with the massive tax cut bill he signed into law late last year.

Going into the North Korea meeting, senior administration officials say, the president has been almost singularly focused on the pageantry of the summit —including the suspenseful roll-out of details. He has not been deeply engaged in briefing materials on North Korea’s nuclear program, said three people with knowledge of the White House efforts. They were not authorized to speak publicly.

Scott Snyder, director of the Program on U.S.-Korea Policy at the Council of Foreign Relations, said there’s a risk that “the ceremony and the historic nature of the meeting be allowed to overshadow the deliverables.”

Driven by gut instinct, Trump rarely dives deep as he prepares to meet with foreign counterparts. For the North Korea meeting, insiders say, he is motivated by the idea of scoring a historic deal and is tickled by suggestions he could win a Nobel Peace Prize-- especially since Barack Obama won the honor early in his presidency. Trump has maintained publicly that his goal is to see the Korean Peninsula denuclearized, and the North has agreed to put its nuclear program on the negotiating table as a condition for the talks. But the two sides are still miles apart on defining what might be mutually acceptable.

Trump will huddle Tuesday at the White House with South Korean President Moon Jae-in to prepare for the June 12 summit. It was Moon’s government that delivered the initial invitation from Kim for a meeting, and South Korea has been pushing the U.S. toward a peaceful resolution to the nuclear crisis.

North Korea threw a wrench in the plans last week, threatening to cancel over concerns about the U.S. push to see the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Administration officials viewed the warning as bluster, akin to Trump’s own promise to walk away if Kim isn’t serious about denuclearization. Both sides, they said, have a vested interest in a successful meeting.

Trump attempted to assuage Kim’s concerns last week, promising “protections” should he abandon his nuclear weapons. But Trump also suggested Kim risks being overthrown and possibly death if the arsenal remains.

Two former Trump administration officials said the high degree of uncertainty surrounding the talks benefits Kim, who stands to gain the most in the form of international legitimacy from a sit-down with Trump.

Concrete gains for Trump would be slower to emerge. Denuclearization programs are measured in months, not days, and for North Korea, which has already demonstrated thermonuclear capability, it would likely take years to dismantle and verify that it had abandoned its atomic efforts, should it agree to do so.

One official said the priority of the talks in Singapore would be to reach a topline understanding with Kim, with details to be fleshed out later.

The best-case scenario, experts said, would mirror the Iran-nuclear agreement that Trump withdrew from earlier this month — securing an end to the North’s atomic program in exchange for a lifting of sanctions. Such an agreement could provide Kim more assurances that his leadership would be secure.

While public jockeying last week led to speculation about whether the meeting will happen, people close to Trump say he does want it to take place.

Victor Cha, a professor at Georgetown University and former White House official, said the best outcome would be “good optics, good atmospherics, some broad statements on denuclearization and peace, and some immediate deliverable.” He said the worst-case scenario was canceling the meeting.

“Where are we, if the meeting is canceled? Are we going back to where we were in 2017? Is North Korea going to start testing again?” he asked. “I think from the broader perspective, that would be the worst outcome.”

Laying the political groundwork, Vice President Mike Pence, in an interview with Fox News, said both the Clinton and Bush administrations had been ‘played’ by the North Korean government. “We offered concessions to the North Korean regime in exchange for promises to end their nuclear weapons program, only to see them break those promises and abandon them,” he said. “It would be a great mistake for Kim Jong Un to think he could play Donald Trump.”

Today, during his meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Trump announced that the summit with Kim Jong-un may not go ahead as planned and that "maybe it will happen later.” Trumpanzee said "there are certain conditions that we want" before the summit, and if they aren't met the summit won't happen. In return for denuclearization Trump farted out of his mouth that "we will guarantee his safety" under the terms of a deal, and that China, South Korea and Japan are all willing to invest big bucks to "make North Korea great." I wonder who he thinks takes his bullshit seriously.

Labels: , ,

Mark Penn-- Worst Of The Fox Democrats Working For Trump


In order to understand The Hill OpEd Stopping Robert Mueller to protect us all, you have to know who its author, Mark Penn, is. He has nothing to do with Penn and Teller, magicians, atheists and comedians who have been performing together since the '70s. Mark Penn also started his career-- as a pollster-- in the '70s. He is best known for his work with partner Doug Schoen for conservative Democrats (as well as Menachem Begin and his neo-fascist Likud Party in Israel and for war criminal Tony Blair in the U.K.) They also specialized in whitewashing corporate criminals like Texaco, AT&T, BP, Merck, McDonald's and Verizon. They were largely behind Bill Clinton's lurch to the right and his adoption of Republican policies. He had a great deal to do with the Democratic Party abandoning working class voters in pursuit of white collar, suburban voters and was a key advisor to Hillary Clinton's failed presidential run in 2008.

Mark Penn, who is married to one of the most vile and repulsive actors in American politics, Nancy Jacobson, founder of No Labels, the group that recently financed the reelection of Dan Lipinski, is currently another Fox Democrat who talks incessantly about how there is no blue wave and how the Mueller investigation in tainted and phony. He's a "No Collusion" fanatic who is pretending to still be a Democrat. When Hillary passed on hiring him for her 2016 campaign, he turned away from whatever was left of his Democratic roots and went all the way over to the Dark Side.

Currently he's trying to break out of Fox and spread his poison to a wider audience, especially to the Clinton Democrats, who still think of him as part of "the good old days":
The “deep state” is in a deep state of desperation. With little time left before the Justice Department inspector general’s report becomes public, and with special counsel Robert Mueller having failed to bring down Donald Trump after a year of trying, they know a reckoning is coming.

At this point, there is little doubt that the highest echelons of the FBI and the Justice Department broke their own rules to end the Hillary Clinton “matter,” but we can expect the inspector general to document what was done or, more pointedly, not done. It is hard to see how a year-long investigation of this won’t come down hard on former FBI Director James Comey and perhaps even former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who definitely wasn’t playing mahjong in a secret “no aides allowed” meeting with former President Clinton on a Phoenix airport tarmac.

With this report on the way and congressional investigators beginning to zero in on the lack of hard, verified evidence for starting the Trump probe, current and former intelligence and Justice Department officials are dumping everything they can think of to save their reputations.

But it is backfiring. They started by telling the story of Alexander Downer, an Australian diplomat, as having remembered a bar conversation with George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign. But how did the FBI know they should talk to him? That’s left out of their narrative. Downer’s signature appears on a $25 million contribution to the Clinton Foundation. You don’t need much imagination to figure that he was close with Clinton Foundation operatives who relayed information to the State Department, which then called the FBI to complete the loop. This wasn’t intelligence. It was likely opposition research from the start.

In no way would a fourth-hand report from a Maltese professor justify wholesale targeting of four or five members of the Trump campaign. It took Christopher Steele, with his funding concealed through false campaign filings, to be incredibly successful at creating a vast echo chamber around his unverified, fanciful dossier, bouncing it back and forth between the press and the FBI so it appeared that there were multiple sources all coming to the same conclusion.

Time and time again, investigators came up empty. Even several sting operations with an FBI spy we just learned about failed to produce a Delorean-like video with cash on the table. But rather than close the probe, the deep state just expanded it. All they had were a few isolated contacts with Russians and absolutely nothing related to Trump himself, yet they pressed forward. Egged on by Steele, they simply believed Trump and his team must be dirty. They just needed to dig deep enough.

Perhaps the murkiest event in the timeline is Rod Rosenstein’s appointment of a special counsel after he personally recommended Comey’s firing in blistering terms. With Attorney General Jeff Sessions shoved out of the way, Rosenstein and Mueller then ignored their own conflicts and took charge anyway. Rosenstein is a fact witness, and Mueller is a friend of Comey, disqualifying them both.

Flush with 16 prosecutors, including a former lawyer for the Clinton Foundation, and an undisclosed budget, the Mueller investigation has been a scorched-earth effort to investigate the entirety of the Trump campaign, Trump business dealings, the entire administration and now, if it was not Russia, maybe it’s some other country.

The president’s earlier legal team was naive in believing that, when Mueller found nothing, he would just end it. Instead, the less investigators found, the more determined and expansive they became. This president and his team now are on a better road to put appropriate limits on all this.

This process must now be stopped, preferably long before a vote in the Senate. Rather than a fair, limited and impartial investigation, the Mueller investigation became a partisan, open-ended inquisition that, by its precedent, is a threat to all those who ever want to participate in a national campaign or an administration again.

Its prosecutions have all been principally to pressure witnesses with unrelated charges and threats to family, or just for a public relations effect, like the indictment of Russian internet trolls. Unfortunately, just like the Doomsday Machine in “Dr. Strangelove” that was supposed to save the world but instead destroys it, the Mueller investigation comes with no “off” switch: You can’t fire Mueller. He needs to be defeated, like Ken Starr, the independent counsel who investigated President Clinton.

Finding the “off” switch will not be easy. Step one here is for the Justice Department inspector general report to knock Comey out of the witness box. Next, the full origins of the investigation and its lack of any real intelligence needs to come out in the open. The attorney general, himself the target of a secret investigation, needs to take back his Justice Department. Sessions needs to act quickly, along with U.S. Attorney John Huber, appointed to conduct an internal review of the FBI, on the Comey and McCabe matters following the inspector general report, and then announce an expanded probe into other abuses of power.

The president’s lawyers need to extend their new aggressiveness from words to action, filing complaints with Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility on the failure of Mueller and Rosenstein to recuse themselves, and going into court to question the tactics of the special counsel, from selective prosecutions on unrelated matters, illegally seizing Government Services Administration emails, covering up the phone texts of FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, and operating without a scope approved by the attorney general. (The regulations call for the attorney general to recuse himself from the investigation but appear to still leave him responsible for the scope.)

The final stopper may be the president himself, offering two hours of testimony, perhaps even televised live from the White House. The last time America became obsessed with Russian influence in America was the McCarthy hearings in the 1950s. Those ended only when Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) attacked an associate of the U.S. Army counsel, Joseph Welch, and Welch famously responded: “Sir, have you no decency?” In this case, virtually every associate and family member of the president has been subject to smears conveniently leaked to the press.

Stopping Mueller isn’t about one president or one party. It’s about all presidents and all parties. It’s about cleaning out and reforming the deep state so that our intelligence operations are never used against opposing campaigns without the firmest of evidence. It’s about letting people work for campaigns and administrations without needing legal defense funds. It’s about relying on our elections to decide our differences.

Penn and Jacobson, pure evil inside the GOP wing of the Democratic Party

Labels: ,

Trump Unhinged


Did anyone really believe Giuliani when the NY Times reported over the weekend that he told them that Mueller had assured him that the Putin-Gate investigation would be wrapped up by September 1? Of course Mueller's office wouldn't respond to Giuliani's nonsense but Reuters reported on Monday that a source familiar with the probe told them that the deadline was "entirely made-up" and "another apparent effort to pressure the special counsel to hasten the end of his work."

The source said the obvious-- that "He’ll wrap it up when he thinks he’s turned over every rock, and when that is will depend on how cooperative witnesses, persons of interest and maybe even some targets are, if any of those emerge, and on what new evidence he finds, not on some arbitrary, first-of-the-month deadline one of the president’s attorneys cooks up."

Giuliani sounds like he's as credible as Trumpanee and, in fact, must be taking his orders directly from Trump, who just 13% of Americans tells the truth and is trustworthy. As Mueller closes in on him and his crime family, Trump is becoming increasingly desperate and unhinged.
Trump’s simmering anger over Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s year-old Russia probe appeared to spill over into a series of well-worn recriminations in several tweets, including that the investigation was politically motivated and had its roots in the administration of his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama.

Federal investigators are looking into whether Russia tried to sway the election and if it worked with the Trump campaign to do so. Trump has denied any collusion and repeatedly dismissed the investigation as a “witch hunt.”

“I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes-- and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Trump also escalated his attacks on the Justice Department on Friday, suggesting that the FBI may have planted or recruited an informant in his 2016 presidential campaign. He cited unidentified reports that at least one FBI representative was “implanted” for political purposes into his campaign.

Neither Trump nor Rudy Giuliani, a former New York mayor who is now one of Trump’s lawyers, provided any evidence of government infiltration into Trump’s presidential campaign. Giuliani acknowledged in a CNN interview on Friday that neither he nor the president really knew if such action took place.

Giuliani was quoted by the New York Times later on Sunday as saying that Mueller had said the investigation would wrap up by Sept. 1.

A source familiar with the probe called the Sept. 1 deadline “entirely made-up” and “another apparent effort to pressure the special counsel to hasten the end of his work.”

“He’ll wrap it up when he thinks he’s turned over every rock, and when that is will depend on how cooperative witnesses, persons of interest and maybe even some targets are, if any of those emerge, and on what new evidence he finds, not on some arbitrary, first-of-the-month deadline one of the president’s attorneys cooks up,” said the source, a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

In September, the Justice Department said it had no evidence to support another of Trump’s unsubstantiated assertions: that Obama had ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential campaign.

It was unclear what kind of response Trump was seeking from the Justice Department this time, since investigations are kept secret and designed to be insulated from political influence and White House meddling.

A spokeswoman said the Justice Department had asked the Inspector General to expand a review of the process for requesting surveillance warrants to include determining whether there was impropriety or political motivation in how the FBI conducted its investigation.

Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, called Trump’s suspicion of an embedded spy “nonsense.” “His ‘demand’ DOJ investigate something they know to be untrue is an abuse of power, and an effort to distract from his growing legal problems,” Schiff said on Twitter.

In his earlier tweets on Sunday, Trump reprised his attacks on Hillary Clinton, his Democratic challenger in 2016, and maintained that Democrats were not submitted to the same FBI scrutiny.

Trump also implied that the special counsel investigation of whether foreign governments tried to influence the presidential campaign was designed to hurt Republicans in the November congressional elections.

“Now that the Witch Hunt has given up on Russia and is looking at the rest of the World, they should easily be able to take it into the Mid-Term Elections where they can put some hurt on the Republican Party,” he wrote.

Trump, who has long complained the Russia probe has overstepped its bounds, referred to reports that his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., met in August 2016 with an envoy representing the crown princes of United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.


Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah
"The right thing to do is to pray in moments like this because you know what, prayer works."
- House Speaker Paul "Crazy Eyes" Ryan, 11/6/17, after 26 died in a hail of bullets in a church no less.
Prayer is no match for massive bribes from the NRA. Prayer hasn't been much of a solution to our guns gone wild problem. Prayer: It's the least you can do, so do it!

Prayer hasn't worked, not even when combined with thoughts. But, perhaps politicians, being self-serving and of limited brain power by nature, believe in lots of fairytales, probably because they know that so many voters do, too. The con is strong with them all.

Right now, I'm waiting for some douchebag politician to take a page out of "Peter Pan" and propose "Tinker Bell Solutions." Yeah, that's the ticket. Forget prayer. If we can just get everybody to clap, the problem of mass shootings will go away. We can all clap for better health, too. Next time a tumor shows up, just clap it away! Why, I bet that clapping will even clean up our air and drinking water.

Labels: , ,

Monday, May 21, 2018

Has A Speaker Ever Been Deposed By His Own Party And Then Stayed On As A Plain Ole Member Of The House?


I can't imagine why Paul Ryan would want to stay on as Speaker. Is it to help the GOP minimize their losses in November and to hold off on leadership elections and instead allowing the GOP to focus on campaign season rather than engaging in a bloody intra-party feud? Ryan may be popular with billionaire contributors but the independent voters who will decide the midterm certainly don't like him. He doesn't seem to have some kind of a deal with Trump to stick around, although I'd think Trump would prefer the more easily manipulated Kevin McCarthy. But Sunday, Republican Party news outlet, Weeely Standard floated the rumor that there's a coup a-brewing to remove Ryan before November. The coup plotters include "the White House" and the benefactor would be McCarthy. Supposedly Trump has been briefed and "believes there is merit to the plan, but has not formed a final position."

The likeliest coup plotters, in my mind, would be the House Freedom Caucus extremists and they have their own candidate: Jim Jordan. It sure isn't McCarthy. The Standard claims "McCarthy has been weighing the effort alongside a small group of trusted advisers, considering the pros and cons of forcing Ryan's hand, and debating the best time to launch the effort. As of last week he had not spoken to Ryan about the idea, the source said."
Proponents say that the benefits are twofold. It would trigger a vote to replace Ryan, giving McCarthy an opening to become speaker of the House-- that is, if he can avoid crashing and burning on takeoff like he did in 2015. But it would also force Democrats to cast votes for-- or against-- Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a favorite target of Republican campaign strategists, to be speaker. That vote could then be used against vulnerable Democrats during the height of campaign season, the source said.

...Friday appeared to have been a breaking point for the forces eager to see Ryan step down sooner, after GOP leaders were unable to navigate the demands of the hard-line conservative Freedom Caucus, resulting in the embarrassing failure of the Farm Bill. In the aftermath of the bill’s demise on the House floor, a “senior Republican source” lashed out at Ryan in aPolitico story about the legislative failure. The “senior Republican source” argued that “this is the problem when you have a lame duck speaker who announces he’s leaving eight months in advance.”

“He can make calls to members to urge them to vote for something, but who will care?” the individual added.

A remarkably similar quote later appeared in The Hill, also attributed to a senior GOP source. "If you have somebody who’s going to be stepping down eight months in advance, a lot of people are not going to care what you have to say,” the source said.

McCarthy’s first run for speaker failed for a number of reasons. He drew Republican criticism during the race when he made comments implying the Benghazi investigation was politically-motivated. “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping,” McCarthy said on Fox News. “Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought.”

Those remarks were condemned immediately by Republicans involved in the investigation. “That was not the reason we started. We started because there were four dead Americans and we didn't have answers,” Jason Chaffetz, who challenged McCarthy for the speakership, said at the time. On top of his Benghazi gaffe, McCarthy struggled to win the support of conservative members, some of whom were reluctant to support him amid concerns that he would not represent enough of a change from the tactics of former speaker John Boehner.

Three years later, Ryan argues that McCarthy has accumulated more political experience than he had the first time around. "I think we all believe that Kevin is the right person," Ryan said during an interview with NBC after he announced his retirement.

But conflict between McCarthy and Ryan has been growing.

The two hold vastly different opinions about how to approach the DACA debate in the House. While Ryan has repeatedly said he would like to find a solution to the issue-- recently saying he wants to vote on an immigration measure before the election-- McCarthy is far more skeptical about the political benefits of doing so. During a Republican conference meeting last week, he told members that “If you want to depress [GOP voter] intensity, this is the No. 1 way to do it,” Politico’s Rachael Bade reported.

That argument highlights the difference in their leadership styles, with Ryan more policy-focused and McCarthy more interested in politics. Right now, the speaker’s race is more of a shadow campaign to win favor from the conference-- “This is the time of the year where I get all the area codes I’ve never seen before on my phone,” Kentucky Republican Thomas Massie quipped-- but members are having heated conversations about who they want to lead the party.

Other contenders for the role include Freedom Caucus founding member Jim Jordan, and Majority Whip Steve Scalise. Scalise has said he would not run against McCarthy, but members say it is likely he would run if McCarthy proves unable to garner enough support for the position.
I can't imagine someone as extreme as Jordan would actually win and become Speaker but the Freedom Caucus could probably block anyone else they oppose from winning-- anyone with too many mainstream views, for example. I have a feeling that may be in Ryan's mind-- the spectacle of a long-drawn out, bloody leadership battle all over TV right before the midterms... possibly a bad way to present the party to the voters.

UPDATE: The GOP's Pelosi Strategy Again

In a follow-up Weekly Standard post by John McCormack he noted that on Sunday, Mick Mulvaney had harped on the idea of dumping Ryan to force House Democrats to vote for or against the "unpopular Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi." He and McCarthy discussed the idea. "Wouldn't it be great to force a Democrat running in a tight race to have to put up or shut up about voting for Nancy Pelosi eight weeks before an election? That's a really, really good vote for us to force if we can figure out how to do it."

And the progressive Democrat running for the seat Ryan has been occupying, Randy Bryce, says he agrees with the GOP that Ryan should resign now-- even if not for the same reasons the Republicans are using. "Now that some members of the GOP have turned their back on Paul Ryan by plotting to remove him as Speaker, he is clearly most concerned with party politics and not the voters in Southeast Wisconsin. The people of the First District deserve a Congressman who will actually represent them and fight for their interests, not one who is going to dedicate the better part of a year to fundraising for other Republican Representatives across the country. Voters in Southeast Wisconsin were going to reject Ryan in November-- and now some in his own party are abandoning him too. He should give up his speakership and resign now in order to help address the needs of working families, rather than the needs of his legacy."

Labels: , , ,

Have Medical Bills Ever Bankrupt You Or Anyone You Were Close To?


Remember this photo of Roger Stone and I? I was backstage at Politicon, where Randy was giving a keynote address at the Latino Victory Project. Afterwards we ditched Stone and went for dinner. The waiter recognized him and treated him like a celebrity. Randy didn't have a credit card. He doesn't have a credit card. He's not a rich guy. I picked up the modest tab. Over the weekend, Randy sent this to his supporters:
Like a lot of veterans, after I was discharged from the Army, I struggled to find work that paid enough. Eventually I took two full-time jobs, and was able to just squeeze by-- but then I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. I was only in my late 20s, and despite my two jobs, I didn't have insurance. In the end, the bills from my cancer treatment bankrupted me.

My story is not unique. Thousands of working people and families across Wisconsin have experienced the same soul-crushing decision to file for bankruptcy. But the Republicans in D.C. gave millionaires and billionaires more tax cuts while telling us that we can't pay for Medicare for All, or anything else that would help families struggling to make ends meet.

A single-payer healthcare system like Medicare for All would lower costs for families and businesses by giving the government greater negotiating power with health insurance companies and untying health insurance from employment.

For too many families, the scariest thing about cancer is the cost. When they get the diagnosis, their first thought isn't, "will I make it?" it's "can I afford it?" And sadly, it's true for people with and without insurance.

I was lucky. I survived and was able to come out on the other side of some incredibly hard times -- but I know many, many more have not been so lucky. Healthcare is a right, not a privilege-- and no one should have to file bankruptcy just to afford life-saving treatment.

The U.S. already has the most expensive healthcare system in the world, but Donald Trump's allies in Congress are doing everything they can to make it even harder for families to pay for healthcare. And the industry's for-profit model means families are often faced with inexplicably high drug and test costs.

We have to pass Medicare for All. If we do better, no one will ever have to go through what I went through ever again.
See that word, "bankrupted?" A lot of people know what that is from first-hand experience. Media elites tend not to... though they've heard of it as something that happens to other people. Randy has the most valuable brand-- @IronStache-- of any candidate running for Congress. He had 271,000 followers on Twitter. He has 200,000 Facebook likes. His first video had 4 million social media views. Members of Congress have asked him to come to their districts to campaign for them. I've never heard of that before. It's usually the other way-- members of Congress campaign for candidates. The first member of Congress who came to Randy's district, aside from his immediate neighbors Mark Pocan and Gwen Moore, was Bernie Sanders to announce that he had endorsed Randy.

A lot of people are jealous. And a lot of media folks would like to enhance their own reputations by knocking Randy down a peg or two. Some journalist who can dig up some dirt can make a name for himself.

Randy has a couple of primary opponents and one lies about him all the time. A Hillary supporter when Randy was stumping with Bernie in 2016 she's persuaded her followers that she was the Berniecrat instead. Every time she's throwing her bullshit I want to write about it. Randy has asked me not to. He doesn't believe in negative campaigning against other Democrats ever and he asked me to try changing my behavior as well. "Let's save the negativity for Ryan or Nehlen or for whoever the GOP nominates he told me one time."

But... her campaign operative-- a consultant who she pays $6,000 a month-- has been going to members of the media bad-mouthing Randy and trying to get made up stories going about him from when he was struggling in poverty. The working people Randy appeals to don't pay any of the bullshit much heed. The same stories could be told about them or their families or their friends. But not about the media elites who gobble it up. Gobble this up instead; it's just as real.

Labels: , , ,

Blankenship Wants Revenge Against Trumpanzee And Cocaine Mitch


A couple of weeks ago we looked at a logical question: Will Blankenship Get Revenge Against Cocaine Mitch And Señor Trumpanzee? Early this morning, Alex Isenstadt had the answer at Politico: Yup. Start by watching the hilarious Facebook ad above. Today Blankenship announced he is running in the general election as the nominee of the Constitution Party and it seems like his only goal is to take votes from the Republican nominee, Patrick Morrisey, handing reelection to conservative Democrat Joe Manchin, who could probably win without the help anyway. One problem Blankenship needs to face up to first: "[H]e would need to overcome a 'sore loser' law in West Virginia that prevents failed candidates in a main-party primary from refiling to run in the general election under another party’s banner." And that law could have had him or someone just like him in mind when it passed.
Blankenship said he’s prepared to challenge that law in court if needed. If he’s successful, his move that could hurt the GOP’s prospects of unseating Democratic incumbent Joe Manchin in November.

“It is especially appropriate for me to be nominated by the Constitution Party given its staunch and uncompromising commitment to upholding the United States Constitution,” Blankenship said.

Should he follow through on his threat, Blankenship, who spent a year behind bars following the 2010 explosion at his Upper Big Branch Mine that killed 29 workers, could play spoiler in the general election by drawing votes from the GOP nominee, state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. Since the primary, Blankenship has refused to endorse Morrisey, whom he says is incapable of defeating Manchin.

Under West Virginia law, minor party candidates have until Aug. 1 to file the necessary number of signatures to qualify for the ballot. Still, it is unclear whether Blankenship is eligible.

A guide book for 2018 candidates posted on the West Virginia secretary of state’s website states: “Candidates affiliated with a recognized political party who run for election in a primary election and who lose the nomination cannot change her or his voter registration to a minor party organization/unaffiliated candidate to take advantage of the later filing deadlines and have their name on the subsequent general election ballot.”

Blankenship, who spent millions out of his own pockets to fund his Senate campaign, hinted that he was ready for a legal fight.

“Although the establishment will likely begin their efforts against us by mounting a legal challenge to my candidacy, we are confident that-- if challenged-- our legal position will prevail, absent a politically motivated decision by the courts,” he said.

The coal baron also said that the establishment was “determined to keep me-- the most anti-establishment candidate in the nation-- out of the United States Senate,” and that “the press and the establishment have colluded and lied to convince the public that I am a moron, a bigot, and a felon.”

Since the primary, the Republican Party has moved to prevent Blankenship from waging a drawn-out battle that could damage Morrisey’s prospects. President Donald Trump, hoping to smooth over any residual hurt feelings, phoned Blankenship the day after the nomination was settled to congratulate him on his campaign.

Blankenship has said he believes the president played a key role in his defeat. On the day before the primary, Trump sent out a tweet pleading for West Virginia Republicans to reject Blankenship.

...A few days after the primary, his top political strategist, Greg Thomas, said on a radio program that Blankenship would work to defeat Morrisey. And Blankenship released an advertisement [above] in which he warned the Senate GOP leader, “It’s not over.” 
No doubt Miss McConnell is fucking sorry he ever poked the bear with this, the day after the primary. And no, that's not fairy dust all around him... it's Colombian cocaine from his father-in-law's smuggling operation:

Labels: , , , ,

Progressive Democrats Help Enshrine "Blue Lives Matter" Into Law


"Hands up, don't shoot" — this is one form of defiance against police at the Ferguson protests. It's only in the context of state-sanctioned murder that a symbolic act of surrender can be taken as defiance (source).

by Gaius Publius

The Blue Lives Matter movement is a political counterattack against the Black Lives Matter movement. It doesn't include the concept that black lives also matter (notice the catch phrase isn't "blue lives matter too"), but enshrines a defiant, contrary opinion thinly disguised in a superficially innocuous phrase. In the same way, "America First" or "Make America Great Again" is a thinly disguised, pretend-innocuous phrase that delivers a defiant and contrary message, in this case against ideas like "immigrants have human rights."

"Blue lives matter" conceals its hatred beneath its language — barely conceals — but conceals it cleverly enough that arguments based on words alone lead nowhere. In many respects the "blue lives matter" slogan is like the American Flag when worn by cops but not nurses — an innocent-looking symbol with an angry, defiant, threatening meaning that's been widely understood since hippie days.

Affirming that "blue lives matter" is tantamount to saying "Yes, cops can kill." Affirming the Blue Lives Matter movement, or in this case, voting for Blue Lives Matter laws, throws the Black Lives Matter effort to resist and criminalize police murder under the bus.

Raúl Grijalva, Keith Ellison, Beto O'Rourke, Ro Khanna and other noted "progressives" did just that recently by voting yes on the "Protect and Serve Act of 2018" (roll call here). Anthony Rogers-Wright, writing at Medium:
This Wednesday, with little attention, the House of Representative just passed the “Protect and Serve Act of 2018” sponsored by Representative John H. Rutherford (R-FL). The bill would make it a federal crime, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, for “knowingly causing serious bodily injury to a law enforcement officer, or attempts to do so.” It joins a host of others deemed “Blue Lives Matter” laws, which have been introduced and passed, in part as a reaction to rising defiance to documented brutality and racism practiced by law enforcement in this county.
This act encapsulates the essence of the "blue lives matter" movement. Why? Because cops lie when they commit their own violence, and resistance of any kind to police violence frequently spurs more police violence. Wright again:
Let us be clear: police departments across the country have justified brutality and murder by accusing their victims of assault, for actions as heinous as dodging a night stick or pushing back on a barricade that is crushing against a crowd. And we don’t need body cameras to know that law enforcement officials are not always honest about their actions that result in arrests and lethal force — assuming the cameras aren’t turned off as was the case with Stephon Clark in Sacramento. Cops in the U.S. already have more of a License to Kill than James Bond, and in many cases enjoy more impunity that he does (Bond at least, at times, faces some scrutiny from M for his actions.)
And now there's a federal law that can be added to the crimes laid against victims of police violence, thanks to Raúl Grijalva, Keith Ellison, Ro Khanna and others who supposedly, publicly "stand with the people." Shameful.

By the way, don't fail to note the irony in the name of the act. Whom does the law "protect and serve"? The police, of course, in a perfect inversion of the phrase's usual meaning. 

The Violence of the State and Non-Violent Protest

It's not just at Black Lives Matter marches and protests that police violence occurs. And it's not just people of color who experience it. Police are also front-line enforcers of many types of Establishment control (how often have you seen political protests treated as crimes against the state?), and police and military violence is frequently directed against anyone who opposes state violence.

 Pepper spray directed by police into the eyes of seated non-violent pro-Occupy protesters at UC Davis, punishment for the crime of opposing state-sanctioned rule by bankers

Consider Chelsea Manning and her years of torture for the crime of revealing crimes by the state, including, appropriately, torture and murder.

Or consider the police treatment of ex-CIA officer and Ray McGovern shown in the hard-to-watch video below, a 78-year-old retired national security officer abused for the crime of protesting the confirmation of CIA torturer Gina Haspel as, again appropriately, the next head of the CIA.

This is the direct violence of the state as executed by police and the military. The violence of the state comes from many other people in many other forms as well, including the building of pipelines that carry poisonous liquids and gases across land and water owned by those who oppose it. Those who resist these forms of indirect state violence, even passively and non-violently, are often treated with direct violence in response. This new law affirms the state's defense of its violence. And it will certainly be broadly applied.

An Interstate Law

Note also, as Rogers-Wright points out, that this creates a federal crime under interstate law:
For purposes of subsection (a), the circumstances described in this subparagraph are that —

(1) the conduct described in subsection (a) occurs during the course of, or as the result of, the travel of the defendant or the victim —

(A) across a State line or national border; or

(B) using a channel, facility, or instrumentality of interstate or foreign commerce;

(2) the defendant uses a channel, facility, or instrumentality of interstate or foreign commerce in connection with the conduct described in subsection (a);
Which means it can and will be applied to protesters who cross state lines — and also applied in defense of victims who cross state lines, i.e., imported police and "deputized" mercenaries, even if the protesters are locals. How useful would this law as a way of further criminalizing water protectors and environmental activists who cross state lines and find themselves subjected to this?

Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protesters (source)

And this?

Source: NBC News

And dare to resist, as Ray McGovern "resisted" in the video above?

Messrs. Grijalva, Ellison, O'Rourke, Khanna: You will have much to answer for as this unfolds. 

A Note About Police Murder and the Gun Lobby

An full examination of the relationship of ideas between these elements — the NRA; public support for whites with guns; and police execution of blacks without guns — would be fascinating and productive.

The segment of society that loves guns and the NRA also loves whites who carry guns, yet fears with a passion blacks and those in the restless underclass who do the same. This is more than reminiscent of the pre-Civil War South and its roving gangs of escaped-slave hunters, aka Second Amendment–protected "state militias," whose job was to make sure any slave thinking of escape — or worse, of armed rebellion — is quickly reminded that those thoughts lead to death.

My own thoughts: Worshipers of guns and worshipers of violence by the state have much in common. Also, America's slave-punishing past is still with us, but with a greatly expanded list of victims.

I've been saying that the nation is in a pre-revolutionary state and predicting a "rolling civil war." I've called it that, a civil war, for a reason. This piece explains that reason.


Labels: , , , , , , ,