Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Very Typical Trump Allies Try To Frame McKinsey Pete For Assaulting Gay Republicans


Smear-mongers Jack Burkman, Donald J Trumpanzee and Jacob Wohl, the 3 Mouseketeers of right wing politics

If you go down deep enough into the netherworld of fetid right-wing sewage, you inevitably come to hate talk radio host (Behind the Curtain) and failed Republican Party lobbyist Jack Burkman and his crackpot sidekick Jacob Wohl. Wohl, just 21 and the son of far right psychopath David Wohl, is severely impaired mentally and has been banned by the National Futures Association for life for ripping off clients and by Twitter for creating and operating fake accounts. Wikipedia's bio of Wohl describes him (in the first sentence) as a "far right conspiracy theorist, fraudster and internet troll." He is a Trump fanatic obsessed with sex, making unfounded claims to smear Robert Mueller, Hillary Clinton, Ilhan Omar, Kamala Harris, Seth Rich and most recently-- with Burkman-- against Pete Buttigieg.

Burkman-- who can't stop thinking about male genitals-- drew some attention to himself about 5 years ago for putting together a protest against the Dallas Cowboys when they hired an openly gay team member, Michael Sam. He worked with Wohl to attempt to frame Robert Mueller-- on behalf of Trump-- for sexually assaulting a woman who later admitted she never met Mueller and that Wohl and Burkman offered her $20,000 to claim Mueller had attempted to rape her. Burkman is the founder and head of a phony organization called Lobbyists for Trump.

This morning, a team of reporters at the Daily Beast exposed Burkman's and Wohl's latest plot-- an effort recruit gay Republican college students to claim McKinsey Pete had assaulted them: Far-Right Smear Merchants Try to Slime Pete Buttigieg with Bogus Sex Assault Claim. This is what Trump has brought the Republican Party too. It's what the Republican Party now is.
The details of the operatives’ attempt emerged as one man suddenly surfaced with a vague and uncorroborated allegation that Buttigieg had assaulted him. The claim was retracted hours later on a Facebook page appearing to belong to the man.

A Republican source told the Daily Beast that lobbyist Jack Burkman and internet troll Jacob Wohl approached him last week to try to convince him to falsely accuse Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, of engaging him sexually while he was too drunk to consent.

The source who spoke to the Daily Beast said Burkman and Wohl made clear that their goal was to kneecap Buttigieg’s momentum in the 2020 presidential race. The man asked to remain anonymous out of a concern that the resulting publicity might imperil his employment, and because he said Wohl and Burkman have a reputation for vindictiveness.

But the source provided the Daily Beast with a surreptitious audio recording of the meeting, which corroborates his account. In it, Wohl appears to refer to Buttigieg as a “terminal threat” to President Donald Trump’s reelection next year.

Neither Burkman nor Wohl responded to repeated requests for comment on this story.  But after the Daily Beast contacted them last week, traces of the scheme disappeared from the web and social media.

On Monday, a separate individual using the name of Hunter Kelly published a post on the site Medium in which he alleged that Buttigieg sexually assaulted him in February. That post was tweeted out [and since deleyed] by David Wohl, Jacob’s father, and quickly re-written by the site Big League Politics, which is known as a landing ground for right-wing conspiracy theories.

Kelly’s supposed Medium and Twitter accounts both say they were created this month. His Facebook page includes several posts lauding Trump and criticizing Hillary Clinton. He appears to have responded to Jacob Wohl’s posts on Instagram in the past.

The Daily Beast reached out to Kelly on a cellphone listed to him in the student directory at his  Michigan college. Told we were reporting on apparent efforts by Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman to drum up false sexual assault allegations against Buttigieg, Kelly replied, “I was unaware this was happening. But yes it is true.”

Kelly wrote that he did not control the newly created Medium and Twitter accounts that posted the allegations under his name. When asked if he could verify his identity, he texted the Daily Beast a selfie that matched the photo seen on Medium and on Kelly’s longstanding Facebook accounts.

“Here is a selfie of me, sorry I have been crying,” he wrote. “Today and the promises made didn’t go as planned.”

Kelly declined to provide more details. But two hours later he posted a message to his Facebook timeline headed, “I WAS NOT SEXUALLY ASSAULTED.”

...The pitch by Wohl and Burkman wasn’t detailed, the source said, but it resembled past attempts by the duo to peddle dubious sexual assault allegations against perceived political foes. It would involve the accuser giving a press conference where he would publicly make his accusations about Buttigieg. The source said Wohl and Burkman seemed to want him to figure out many of the details, including a window of time during which he and Buttigieg were both in Washington, when the fabricated offense may have occurred.

When the source expressed reluctance, they assured him the scheme would make him wealthy, famous, and a star in Republican politics. Wohl cited the national recognition given to Christine Blasey Ford after she accused Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault during his confirmation hearings last year.

Wohl and Burkman described the source’s role as a “catalyst” whose false allegations would prompt actual victims to come forward. They promised that a number of such victims were waiting in the wings.

The goal, Wohl and Burkman stressed, was to hobble Buttigieg’s ascendant campaign, according to the audio of the conversation. The South Bend mayor has rocketed into the top tier of 2020 Democratic contenders, to the surprise of many national political observers.

Last Monday, Burkman wrote on Twitter, “2020 is shaping up to be more exciting than 2016.  Looking like it will be Trump vs. Mayor Pete! Get the popcorn ready!”

Labels: , , ,

Are You A Lesser-Of-Two-Evils Voter? No? What About When The Greater Evil Is Demonic, Existential, Hitlerian...?


I haven't seen him in a while, but I used to run into George Takei in one of my favorite neighborhood Italian restaurants all the time. It's an unspoken word in L.A. that you don't bother the celebrities, so I never did say anything to him. Takei is a good solid member of the Democratic Party and he often pushes the party line, feeling, no doubt, that he's doing God's work. Like I said, I never spoke with him; what I know about him is just what I've read by him. I surmise he's a lesser-of-two-evils kind of guy. I used to be too. He's 82, more than a decade older than I am. I always thought when you got old you could stop with the less-of-two-evils voting and just vote for candidates you want to see in office. I guess not everyone agrees with me.

On Friday, Takei, a glorious one-man anti-Trump propaganda machine, tweeted a proposition to his nearly 3 million followers: "Will you join me in pledging not to speak negatively about any of our candidates? We don’t know who the nominee will be, but they need to be as strong as they can be going into the election against Trump."

Takei missed the point of primaries-- and in more ways than one. Now, if he's talking about not spreading lies and baseless smears against potential nominees, his request is fine. But if he is asking his followers to not bring up the records of candidates, at this point, he's leading them down a dangerous path.

Take my word for it: Trump's opponents research team has everything anyone on Twitter is going to ever throw at Joe Biden, Bernie, Beto, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris and everyone else, even the candidates who would need a miracle-like occurrence to break through. (After all, Buttigieg's sudden meteoric race has to be looked at as a miracle-like occurrence, no?)

Anyway, getting out weaknesses in the candidates before primaries and caucuses lock in the Democratic candidate, is crucial. Suppose no one ever mentioned anything about Biden's history on race during the primary and people who care about racism didn't know anything about Biden before Obama chose him as VP. Do you think for a moment that Trump wouldn't make sure that every voter in the country with a history of voting for Democrats wouldn't be bombarded with messaging about Biden's record?

Perhaps even more important, we need to pick the man or woman we most want to see in the White House. Elizabeth Warren, like Bernie, has put forth a series of outstanding policy proposals. Some of the other candidates-- say Gillibrand, BETO and Kamala for the sake of argument-- have been "me too supporters" of some of those policies. That's great. Thank you. In the case iff these 3, however, their past records don't support a desire some might have to believe their commitments. That all needs to get hashed out in the primary season.

Actress and activist Alyssa Milano has even more twitter followers than Takei-- 3.67 million. On Saturday she reacted positively to Takei's proposition:

Many of her followers knew better-- and said so on her twitter feed. A typical rebuke went like this: "So we can’t say Biden fought on the side of credit card companies over us? We can’t point out that Mayor Pete isn’t strong on policy at this point? Are you for real? Who wins the primary then? The person with the most money?" Several commenters sounded just like me: "Absolutely not. People should never choose the lesser of evils, shouldn't follow their party even though the candidate is corrupt. Our democracy is broken, and a traitor has illegally seized power. We need to stand behind our ethics to defeat him, not abandon them out of fear." And "Critique is actually both the point of primary season and our collective responsibility as voters. That responsibility is higher for those of us with several forms of unearned privilege, like me and like you. It's highly disturbing that you don't or won't know these things."

That Trump's a monster-- and an existential threat to all of us-- and that needs to be said over and over and over, every day and in every way. But being "better than Trump" does not figure into primary season, when we're looking for the person not just who can beat him in the election, but who will also be the best woman or best man to be sitting in the White House until at least 2025.

I could have been quiet about Beto, for example. I thought about doing just that-- holding my tongue. But with Beto-mania all over the news, I realized I had a civixc duty to perform. I've known Beto since his first campaign-- a primary against an establishment Democratic incumbent. Blue America endorsed him them, the only progressive group to do so, and helped him raise money too win the seat. He turned out to be a bit of a disappointment-- not terrible by any means, but not... well we never re-endorsed for reelections. Then he captured the imaginations of many Democrats when he took on the role of David in a dramatic race against Ted Cruz. Blue America endorsed him for that. What the hell... he's good on some things. But when he lost and started floating trial balloons about running for president, I was mortified.

Several friends, less involved with politics than I, were sold. They declared themselves Beto Forever Fans. Oy! When I asked each what they knew about Beto, it was basically nothing at all. They didn't even know he was a congressman, let alone a New Dem backbencher with no accomplishments at all and without any kind of core that could predict where he would stand on any current or future issues. I don't dislike Beto at all and certainly didn't include him in The Worst Democraps Who Want To Be President series. But voters had to know, especially voters who I had urged to support him in his campaign against Ted Cruz. Beto is no Joe Biden, no John Frackenlooper, no Kirsten Gillibrand, no Howard Schultz, no Mike Bloomberg, no Terry McAuliffe... Neither is he in the same league as Bernie or Elizabeth Warren, two candidates who would make truly transformative and excellent presidents. So I started laying out Beto's record for some of my friends, one of whom swooned over him because he looks like Tobias Menzies, the actor who plays Brutus in Rome.

If Beto is the candidate against Trump-- very unlikely-- I'll vote for him, even though I live in California and don't have to. But I would. Biden? Not a chance. If I lived in Florida or Wisconsin or Ohio or any swing state, I'd have think hard about it. But I'd like to think I'd have the courage of my convictions enough to just not do it. I don't want to see Joe Biden as president. I didn't want to see him become president any of the half dozen other times he started running. And if you don't want to hear why, there are other people to follow on Twitter, other people to annoy on Facebook, other blogs to read... In fact this is from my own Facebook page. I didn't delete Richard Natale, who I don't know and don't understand how he wound up on my "friends" list. But if he's smart, he should spend his time reading what George Takei's page and not make himself miserable by reading mine. We're at different stages of evolution.

Labels: , , , , ,

Pelosi's Warns Against Progressives-- Progressives Need To Man Up And Warn About A Real Danger: Pelosi And Her Special Interests-Politics


Pelosi's in DC today-- back from Britain, where she spoke at the London School of Economics and laid out her political vision-- one that has, over the years, devolved from hearty progressivism to abject, loot-inspired centrism. She's officially one of them now, not one of us. In recent weeks she's been inviting actual progressives into her office to threaten them, insisting they not endorse Bernie. One gentleman who gently pushed back against the dictator, emerged white as a ghost; he changed his mind about endorsing Bernie for the time being.

Pelosi, Trump and McTurtle are the 3 most detested politicians in America. The country would be way better off without any of them. Now that would be an awesome Grand Bargain! Maybe Pelosi is envious that Trump is so much more hated than she is in Britain. It's the only way I can describe her jaunt over there during the congressional spring break, a jaunt that saw her inappropriately interfering in U.K. politics over Brexit and in the fight between Labour and the Conservatives. The Jerusalem Post reported that Pelosi "made combating antisemitism on the left a centerpiece of her stop in London. She met with three members of Parliament who defected from the Labour Party in large part because they said its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, did not adequately address antisemitism within the party. She also met separately with Corbyn and raised the importance of fighting antisemitism in that meeting as well." I guess she told him what a great job of not supporting Ilhan Omar she did.

While she was over there she stopped at the London School of Economics "to set out a centrist vision that could help woo Republican voters frustrated with Trump's approach. For every Republican voter she woos with her centrist agenda, we'll discourage 5 Democrats... with her centrist agenda.

More senile by the day and crazy as a loon, she warned that Democrats must avoid the "menace" of liberal policies pushed by rising political stars if it wants to beat President Donald Trump in the 2020 election."

The unwritten rules that Trump never ever plays by, kept her from criticizing her overseas-- what a joke-- but she did feel free to criticize AOC instead.
"When we won this election, it wasn't in districts like mine or Alexandria's," Pelosi said in reference to the November midterms in which the Democrats gained control of the House of Representatives.

"Those are districts that are solidly Democratic-- this glass of whatever would win with a D next to its name in those districts," said the Speaker after picking up a glass off a coffee table.
I hope Shahid Buttar is listening that his primary opponent thinks her constituents would vote for a glass of water. At least it explains why they're stuck with her as she morphed from being a progressive to being a mainstay of the status quo, not the except opposite of a progressive. Nancy Pelosi, whether she wants to look in the mirror or not, is an ex-progressive today... a self-loathing ex-progressive who never really believed anyway. She was a good tactician and got some intermediary things done along the way, but now she's in the way-- in the way of Medicare-For-All, in the Way of a Green New Deal, in the way of a $15 minimum wage and in the way of replacing Trump with a progressive.
Pelosi touted her own liberal upbringing and accomplishments representing the deeply Democratic voters of San Francisco.

"I can compare my liberal credentials across the board. I said to them: 'Anything you're about, I got that sign in my basement 20 years ago'," Pelosi said.

But "what we are saying is, to have a message that appeals to people in a way that does not menace them," she said.

"I share those values-- but we must win."
She does not share those values. She goes to work every single day and undermines those values. That she still may believe that she's a progressive is actually scary, considering what a total wretch she has turned into. She even did it on her vacation in Europe.

Democrats don't win by pretending to be Democrats. Did she forget? Allow me to string together some famous quotes by Harry Truman that Pelosi needs to be reminded of: "Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better... America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand." Let me add 2 by Howard Dean: "The way we're going to win elections in this country is not to become Republican lite. The way we're going to win elections in this country is to stand up for what we believe in... So what we-- all we really want, I think, from the so-called Democratic wing of the Democratic Party is really to stand up for what we believe in... I hate Republicans and everything they stand for." When Democrats run as Republican-right candidates, they lose because people would rather vote for a real Republican. Pelosi should know all this.

Labels: , , ,

Biden Would Be The Worst Politician For Social Security-- Not Just The Worst Democrat-- The Worst Anything


You want candidates to make a pledge? Ask Biden to pledge he won't try making another Grand Bargain with the Republicans to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits

You've read about Trump's $2.2 trillion deficit (almost 7% of GDP); that's unheard of outside of a world war and, in this case, it's a gigantic political waste that is not going to anything worthwhile, which is what the Green New Deal, for example, would be. Trump's deficits aren't about investing in the country; they're about making the rich richer and bolstering Trump's reelection chances with economic numbers that do not reflect sustainable economic growth.

Meanwhile, Trump's Regime hasn't even thought about doing anything to bolster Social Security, which absolutely needs tending too. Yesterday, Jed Graham at Investor's Business Daily, wrote that "If you're 50 or younger, there's a very good chance your Social Security deal-- the taxes you pay or benefits you earn-- will change. That's because you'll turn 62, the youngest age for claiming benefits, just as the Social Security Trust Fund is projected to run dry. CBO expects the trust fund, which now holds $2.9 trillion worth of nonmarketable Treasury securities, to be depleted by 2031. Social Security's own actuaries think that won't happen until 2035. But that's based on optimistic economic projections that have real GDP growing 25% faster than CBO expects over the coming the decade (2.2% vs. 1.75% per year). The trust fund represents surplus payments made to Social Security from 1984 to 2009, plus interest. Trust fund balances, as long as they exist, empower Social Security to run deficits in order to keep paying all scheduled benefits. Once the trust fund is gone, CBO projections show that it would take a 25% benefit cut to balance Social Security's books. That means a one-fourth cut for everyone, from the very oldest retirees to the poorest and disabled. Social Security Administration projections aren't quite as harsh, but still envision a 20% across-the-board cut. Abrupt cuts of that sort won't happen. No politician who wants to get re-elected would ever vote for it."

Out of 235 Democrats in the House, 203 are now co-sponsoring John Larson's Social Security 2100 Act (H.R.860). The bill guarantees that Social Security is solvent for the rest of the 21st Century, increases benefits and guarantees that cost of living adjustments are more accurate and less likely to allow buying power of Social Security checks to be eroded by inflation. It is likely to pass the House next month. McConnell, screeching "socialism," has already indicated that he will not allow a vote in the Senate at all.

As I've mentioned before, at the behest of scumbag billionaires, Republicans and conservative Democrats have made sure that Congress has been unable to add new protections and increases in benefits for over half a century. In the run-up to the 2018 midterms, a PPP survey found that 66% of voters said that they were more likely to back candidates who support "expanding and increasing Social Security benefits." Two years earlier a poll by Pew Research found that even Trump supporters overwhelmingly agreed that Social Security benefits should not be decreased. And except for neo-liberal Status Quo Joe, all the Democratic presidential candidates have pledged to support expanding Social Security, not just Bernie and Elizabeth Warren, but also Beto, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, etc.

Biden's always been a completely worthless piece of shit and an enemy of Social Security. A proud neoliberal, he was calling for a spending freeze on Social Security and a higher Social Security retirement age since the 1980s. He always embraced GOP bullshit about balancing the budget, something Republicans are only for while Democrats are in power. Biden's one of the morons who has always fallen for the trap and has always been the first Democrat in any circumstance to advocate raising the wait to screw working families with Austerity, which is just what anyone supporting his presidential race should be ready for if he wins. Sacrificing people dependent on Medicare and Social Security was something Biden seemed as enthusiastic about as Paul Ryan was... [T]here are indications that another "grand bargain" may be in the cards should Biden win the presidency. In a speech last year at a joint event held by the Brookings Institution and the Biden Foundation, Biden said, "Paul Ryan was correct when he did the tax code. What’s the first thing he decided we needed to go after? Social Security and Medicare. We need to do something about Social Security and Medicare." Biden suggested the programs should be means tested, and would require "adjustments," like raising the retirement age, something the GOP and Biden see eye to eye on. OK, back to Jed Graham:
The essential financing challenge facing Social Security is the aging of the population. People are living longer in retirement and the growth of the workforce has slowed. In 2009, the last year Social Security ran a surplus, there were still three workers paying into Social Security for every beneficiary. That has slipped to 2.8 workers per beneficiary and will keep sliding to 2.2 by 2036.

Yet the biggest challenge in fixing the future of Social Security is that the retirement safety net isn't very generous to begin with. Consider that someone with average career earnings (today's equivalent of $52,000 a year) will get about 40% of wages replaced by Social Security. That's about $20,800 per year. But that respectable annual payout only applies to those who retire at the official retirement age, soon to be 67. Those who retire at 62 will face a 30% early-retirement penalty each year, cutting their payout to $14,560. Some may have to retire early due to a bad job market if the economy softens. Some might have to care for an ill parent. Others may struggle to stay in physically demanding jobs.

To top it off, living longer in retirement means that people may deplete their personal savings. Even before any kind of benefit cuts, many will be increasingly dependent on an insufficient Social Security check.

In the age of Trump, Republicans have barely made a peep about cutting Social Security benefits. It's hard to see austere visions of Social Security reform making a comeback.

Democrats, for their part, have pitched Social Security benefit increases in recent years. They've slammed the door on talk of benefit cuts.

It may sound like pie in the sky, but there are two Democratic proposals to pay for those dreams. Bernie Sanders is known for his support of Medicare for all, phasing out private health insurance. But the 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful also has a Social Security fix.

The Sanders plan involves a pretty huge tax hike of about $150 billion in the first year. Sanders would apply a 6.2% tax on investment income for upper earners. That would hike the top capital gains tax rate from 23.8% to 30%. In addition, Sanders would apply the 12.4% payroll tax rate on earnings above $250,000.

Sanders would devote about 40% of the extra revenue to expanding benefits, mainly for lower earners. The other 60% would go to improving Social Security's finances.

[T]he Social Security 2100 Act would go further to make the program sustainable. The legislation, which has more than 200 House co-sponsors, would apply the full Social Security payroll tax to earnings over $400,000. It also would gradually increase the 12.4% payroll tax rate to 14.8%, raising it one-tenth of a percentage point each year. The 2.4-percentage-point hike would be shared by business and employees. The act devotes close to 20% of the revenue to expanding benefits, including a more generous annual cost-of-living adjustment.

Democrats gave a stiff arm to President George W. Bush in 2005 when he put Social Security reform atop his agenda. Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats thundered against his plan to let people invest a portion of their Social Security taxes. Yet even after Bush dropped personal accounts, they refused to come to the table. Democrats wouldn't even contemplate benefit cuts, as long as the Bush tax cuts for upper earners remained in place. A replay of sorts would be easy to imagine in 2025, when many of the Trump tax cuts are set to expire.

Democrats like the idea of a tax hike that phases in slowly enough to avoid a backlash or economic hit. As Social Security drifts closer to a real crisis, the GOP may be hard-pressed to come up with a politically viable alternative.
Refuse-- loudly refuse-- to support any conservative Democrat who tries to bargain away Social Security-- from Joe Biden and Steny Hoyer right down the food chain to Josh Gottheimer. It's not theirs to bargain away!

Ironically, it's far more likely to be Joe Biden to wreck Social Security than Donald Trump, who recognizes what a third rail touching it would be. Biden is, literally, too stupid to understand any such thing. Less ironically, Biden's base of support is among people already getting Social Security-- and who wouldn't be impacted by his "reforms"-- while younger voters have no interest in his ugly austerity agenda. And the handful of House Democrats who refuse to sign onto Larson's Social Security 2100 Act? Basically all conservative Biden-types, who stand for austerity:
Joe Cunningham (Blue Dog-SC)
Ben McAdams (Blue Dog-UT)
Jeff Van Drew (Blue Dog-NJ)
Anthony Brindisi (Blue Dog-NY)
Xochitl Torres-Small (Blue Dog-NM)
Antonio Delgado (New Dem-NY)
Cindy Axne (New Dem-IA)
Abigail Spanberger (Blue Dog-VA)
Mikie Sherrill (Blue Dog-NJ)
Elaine Luria (New Dem-VA)
Max Rose (Blue Dog-NY)
Abby Finkenauer (IA)
Dan Lipinski (Blue Dog-IL)
Josh Gottheimer (Blue Dog-NJ)
Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA)
Tom O'Halleran (Blue Dog-AZ)
Stephanie Murphy (Blue Dog-FL)
Scott Peters (New Dem-CA)
Brad Schneider (Blue Dog-IL)
Jim Cooper (Blue Dog-TN)
Charlie Crist (Blue Dog-FL)
Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR)
Ron Kind (New Dem-WI)
Steny Hoyer (MD)

Labels: , , ,

Nancy, Chuck And Trumpanzee vs McConnell, McCarthy And The GOP Deep State


Trump Jumps Ship by Nancy Ohanian

Today Pelosi and Schumer are heading over to the White House-- this time at their own request-- to talk with Trumpanzee about infrastructure. This has McConnell and McCarthy fuming, primarily because Trump's own views on this are far more in synch with the Democrats than with the Republicans. Like the Democrats, he's looking to spend-- and spend big-- and wants signs everywhere that will say "this project is being built for you by Señor Donald J. Trumpanzee," or something along those lines.

Jonathan Swan broke the story at Axios that Trump told Richard Neal, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, that he wants to spend close to $2 trillion on infrastructure. It isn't just McConnell and McCarthy who oppose him. Many in his own Regime are against it and it's unclear if he has the juice to get it through. Pelosi and Schumer want to get him to take a stand for what he-- and they-- want, even if it means McConnell, McCarthy and Trump's own skin-flint chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, have fits. The White House plan-- which Trump disparagingly calls "Gary's Plan" was put together by Gary Cohen before Trump canned him.

The "Gary Plan" was meant to authorize building out infrastructure through "public-private partnerships"-- leveraging a modest amount of government spending to stimulate private investment in projects around the country, which is a non-starter among Democrats and isn't something Trump is at all enthusiastic about either, having used the method to rip off the government and well aware of how it would be used to rip off tax dollars again.

Behind the scenes: Trump came into office imagining a presidency in which new projects-- "built by the Trump administration"-- would be erected all over the country, sources close to him tell me.
There was a genuine naivety about the prospect of Democrats and Republicans coming together to do something on a grand scale with infrastructure," a former White House official told me. "It was one of those things where Trump said it was gonna be easy. He really thought so."
In an early 2017 infrastructure meeting at the White House with his friend, New York real estate billionaire Richard LeFrak, Trump laid out his grand Trumpian vision. "They say Eisenhower was the greatest infrastructure president. They named the highway system after him," Trump said, per a source who was in the room. "But we're going to do double, triple, quadruple, what Eisenhower did."
Kudlow, who's leading the White House team on this, isn't any more enthusiastic about it than the rest of the Republicans, who would rather give their wealthy donors more tax cuts than spend money on infrastructure, especially if the money spent has to include a revenue plan (i.e., taxes).

Pelosi and Schumer aren't prepared to move unless Trump agrees to spend real federal dollars on this and raise the money needed with taxes that don't penalize working families. They are also insisting that all materials used in all the projects be American-made, something Trump will agree to instantly but that the Republican Party leaders never will. Today should be fun.

Trump Jump Ship II by Nancy Ohanian


Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

You didn't really think we were ever going to see Trump's tax returns, did you? Putin probably has but he's not a sharing kind of guy. Will someone leak them? Will some genius 12 year old computer hacker come up with them? Where there's a will, there's a way, but who has the will?

Meanwhile, the malignant tumor that is Donald Trump continues to metastasize, spreading its lethal tentacles into every corner of America. The patient is dying while those tentacles infiltrate at will. The worst in Washington laugh in dark corners and the best in Washington play around with words and legal shell games. They all secretly hope that the White House Don never has to give up his tax returns. They long for that precedent to be established so that they won't ever have to show theirs either. Who says our so-called representatives aren't looking to the future?

Labels: , , ,

Monday, April 29, 2019

Feelin' More Stressed These Days? Gallup Says You're Not The Only One


Gallup just released their 2019 Global Emoitions Report. It should probably come as no surprise that most people in Greece, the Philippines, Tanzania, Albania, Iran and Sri Lanka are stressed out. Sri Lanka just went through years and years of bloody civil war. The Philippines have a fascist tyrant as president who's a lot like Trump; Iran is isolated and in existential danger from nuclear powers. Greeks, Tanzanians and Albanians are suffering from extreme economic anxiety due to unemployment. What's counter-intuitive, though, is that Americans, the wealthiest country on earth, is tied with Albanians, Iranians and Sri Lankans as the 4th most stressed out people (55%)-- more stressed out than even Venezuelans (52%)!

Gallup barely touched on the subject, but the levels of stress among Americans seemed to correlate directly with Trump, reporting "there was "a strong relationship between stress, worry and disapproval of the job that President Donald Trump is doing. Those who disapprove of Trump's job performance are significantly more likely to experience each of these negative emotions than those who do... Younger Americans between the ages of 15 and 49 are among the most stressed, worried and angry in the U.S. Roughly two in three of those younger than 50 said they experienced stress a lot, about half said they felt worried a lot and at least one in four or more felt anger a lot... The disconnect between a strong economy and Americans' increasing negative emotions illustrates how GDP and other hard economic data only tell part of the story. In fact, the levels of negative emotions in the past several years are even higher than during the U.S. recession years. Given the ties that researchers are starting to find between negative affects like these and physical health and longevity, leaders need the whole story.

Gallup found that Americans who disapprove of Trump are far more stressed than those who approve (62% to 45%) and also worry more (51% to 35%).

Who do you think would be most stressed out watching the Thursday evening Lawrence O'Donnell video up top?

Labels: , , , ,

Never Forget: There Are Excellent Reasons Trump Is The Most Detested Man To Ever Occupy The White House


On Saturday night, in Green Bay, Trump was lying again about abortions. Chris Cameron, reporting for the NY Times quoted Trump's big abortion lie: "The baby is born. The mother meets with the doctor. They take care of the baby. They wrap the baby beautifully. And then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby." Disgusting, right? And dangerous. But this was anything but the first time he fed this line of bullshit to his hateful supporters. The video up top? That was from his hate rally in Virginia last month.

You can watch what Trump said in Green Bay here. He'll rot in hell for lies like this, although not soon enough; soon enough would mean I was speaking the the past tense.

Cameron noted correctly that this poisonous refrain "is fast becoming a standard, and inaccurate, refrain about doctors 'executing babies.' During a more than hourlong speech at a rally in Green Bay, Wis., Mr. Trump admonished the Democratic governor, Tony Evers, for vetoing a Republican bill that could send doctors to prison for life if they fail to give medical care to children born alive after a failed abortion attempt. The comments are the latest in a long string of incendiary statements from the president on abortion."

He's been howling about this since January, embelishing the ugly, purposefully divisive narrative along the way-- he even used it in his State of the Union addres-- and tweeting that Democrats "don’t mind executing babies AFTER birth." His rallies are like someone screaming "fire" in a crowded theater. Television stations are doing the nation a disservice to broadcast them.

The New York Times has previously fact-checked these claims, finding that late-term abortions are rare. In Wisconsin, only 1 percent of all abortions in 2017 occurred after 20 weeks of pregnancy, according to the most recent annual report from the state’s Department of Health Services. The numbers are similarly low at the national level.
Wrong to wish him rotting in hell? OK, fair enough. How about wishing he were indicted and awaiting trial instead? Yesterday, writing for the Daily Beast, Mimi Rocah and Renato Mariotti noted that if Señor Trumpanzee "were not now president he would have been indicted on multiple counts of obstruction of justice." They, like many Americans, are counting on him being charged after he's finally driven from the White House. "Mueller," they wrote, "collected a stunning array of evidence that clearly shows that from 2017 until 2019, Trump engaged in a persistent pattern to try to end, or at least limit the scope of, investigations surrounding him and his [completely disgusting] family."  
With so much to consider, it’s helpful to focus on four areas in particular where there are multiple reliable witnesses whose testimony corroborates one another, where some of the acts simply can’t be disputed because they occurred in plain sight, and where the evidence of corrupt intent and connection to pending proceedings are clear: (1) Trump’s efforts to fire Mueller, (2) Trump’s order to falsify evidence about that effort, (3) Trump’s efforts to limit the scope of Mueller’s investigation to exclude his conduct, and (4) Trump’s efforts to try and prevent witnesses from cooperating with investigators probing him and his campaign. While this may bear some passing similarity to mob-related and other obstruction of justice cases we worked on and saw as federal prosecutors, the conduct is more shocking and serious given that Trump is the president of the United States.

...Of course, these aren’t the only acts of potential obstruction detailed in the Mueller Report. Prosecutors would weigh a strategy of whether to charge other acts detailed in the report, like asking Comey to “let Flynn go,” or firing Comey as FBI Director. While perhaps more challenging as a legal matter with respect to issues of intent, they are chargeable and would have the benefit of ensuring that this additional conduct is admitted before a jury.

Even if not charged, there are strong arguments that prosecutors would use to have much of the evidence admitted at a trial under other rules of evidence and legal theories—for example, to prove Trump’s intent as to the charged acts and to show a pattern of conduct. And Trump’s own words, whether part of the charged conduct or not, would be admissible under the rules of evidence as admissions of a defendant, words like, “I’m fucked. This is the end of my presidency,” in response to the appointment of the special counsel.

A senior Justice Department official told the Washington Post that Barr did not believe the obstruction case “was a prosecutable offense.” We simply do not see, based on the facts described above, how this statement can be true. The Justice Department Manual’s principles of federal prosecution say that a prosecutor should charge a case “if he/she believes that the person’s conduct constitutes a federal offense, and that the admissible evidence will probably [emphasis added] be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction.”

To look at these facts and say that a prosecutor could not probably sustain a conviction for obstruction of justice defies logic and our experience. The senior official quoted by the Post refers to what they view as “complications” in such a prosecution because “the obstruction ‘relies on multiple people in a chain all doing something,’ including Lewandowski delivering the note, Sessions being persuaded by it and then Sessions moving on the special counsel.” The official called that an “attenuated chain.” But, of course, criminal schemes often involve “attenuated chains” because the primary actor wants to distance himself from the act, knowing that it’s wrong. In fact, that is often accepted by juries as circumstantial evidence of criminal intent.

To be sure, this case, like many, would not be an easy win. It has its challenges for many reasons, legal and practical. But, the criminal case against Donald Trump, private citizen, would be one that any federal prosecutor-- regardless of their politics-- should proudly pursue. As federal prosecutors, we were taught to pursue obstruction of justice cases with zeal because if obstruction goes unchecked, our whole system of justice is at risk.

Labels: , ,

Socialists Won In Spain-- But Fascism Made A Comeback


On Friday, just as Spain was preparing to vote, Bob Dylan played at the Bizkaia Arena in Bilbao. His set list as been unchanged for the whole European tour-- until the Friday night gig when he added a rare song he doesn't play much, "Dignity." An old friend married a donostiarra and settled in her hometown, San Sebastián, about an hour and a half from Bilbao. They drove there for the concert with their 3 kids, all of whom took the song as an anti-fascist message in the middle of an election where the fascists were making a comeback attempt through the Vox party. Voter turn out was way up-- basically because of support for and opposition to the fascists... 76%.

As it turns out, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez's Socialist Party (PSOE) won 123 seats, while their anti-austerity allies, Podemos. has taken 42-- so 165 seats, 11 fewer than they would need without forming a coalition with some smaller regional parties. The big loser Sunday was the center-right Popular Party (PP), whose seats were halved to just 65-- winning no seats at all in the area Dylan played-- none in Bilbao, none in San Sebastián, none anywhere in the Basque region. (And just one in Catalonia.) Another center-right party, Ciudadanos, picked up 57 seats. The fascist Vox party, founded in 2013, will make its debut in Parliament with 24 deputies (the lower end of what pollsters had predicted). That makes 146 seats for the right and 165 for the left.


Vox, as you might guess, is Spain's Trumpist party-- xenophobic, misogynist, racist, Islamophobic and 100% in thrall to the wealthy. Steve Bannon has been supporting Vox through his fascist "think tank," The Movement. Vox's Rafael Bardají is the link between Spanish fascism and the Trump regime. He advocates building a wall around the last two Spanish colonies in Morocco, Ceuta and Melilla, and forcing Morocco to pay for it. It would be more likely that Morocco would just kick Spain out of the two enclaves entirely. Santiago Abascal, the head of Vox, is also advocating for an end of gun control in Spain. Russia has been secretly assisting Vox's efforts in the hopes of destabilizing and ultimately destroying the European Union. Vox did best in Madrid (3.64%), Castile y León (2.50%), Aragon (2.33%) and Murcia (2.32%). It was below 2% everywhere else, doing worst in Catalonia, Basque Country, Galicia and the Canary Islands, less than 1% in each.

Labels: , ,

What We Learned from the April 15 Emerson Poll


Click to enlarge (source)

by Thomas Neuburger

On April 15, just prior to Joe Biden's entry into the race, Emerson College Polling released their Democratic primary contest report. Two things to note before we go further.

First, the poll of the Democratic primary shows four clear tiers of candidates (see graphic above):

Tier 1 — Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, far above the rest
Tier 2 — Buttigieg, O'Rourke, Harris and Warren, two-thirds below the leaders
Tier 3 — Castro and Yang, polling at 3%
Tier 4 — Everyone else

Tier 4, everyone else, is polling at or below the choice named "Someone Else."

Second, the Emerson site write-up of this poll highlights everything but the striking 12-point surge by Sanders, who rose from 17% in February to 29% in April. Mayor Pete's rise over the same period — from 0% to 9% — is their first touted takeaway. According to Spencer Kimball, the organization's director, "[I]t looks like Mayor Pete is the candidate capturing voters’ imagination".

The site's second takeaway highlights Biden's 3-point drop over that same period. Kimball again: “Biden has seen his support drop. In February, he led Sanders 27% to 17%, and in March the two were tied at 26%. Now, Sanders has a 5 point lead, 29% to 24%.”

Kimball is wrong twice. Mayor Pete is not the "candidate capturing voter's imagination." His rise from February to April is considerably less than Bernie Sanders increase over the same period.

Also, Biden's decline below Sanders isn't because "Biden has seen his support drop." That drop was just three points. Sanders is surging; his 12-point surge is four times Biden's fall. Sanders simply leapfrogged him.

What We Learned & What We Know

From all this we learned several things:

Sanders is indeed surging.

The polling organization, via the quotes the site chose to feature, is trying to hide the Sanders surge. That tells you something about the organization, if not the poll itself. The polling itself is may be sound, but the organization has an Establishment dog in the race.

Much of the Biden vote is also a Sanders vote, at least so far.

From the underlying polling data itself, 31% of Biden voters have Sanders as their second choice, while O'Rourke and Buttigieg together would capture another 30% of the Biden vote if Biden were out. That seems a good rough proxy for a nascent 50-50 split among Biden supporters for Radical Change vs. Return to Obama Status Quo, "nascent" because I don't think anyone who could support Sanders would begin to tolerate Biden after she learns what Biden actually stands for. Stay tuned for Biden to shed that support.

Further, from the crosstabs Sanders and Biden are as good as tied among millennials (ages 18-29). I'd be shocked if almost all of this group didn't turn against Biden by the time the primary is over.

It's early yet, but if we give Sanders a conservative half of Biden's support across the whole primary, Sanders would lead the field with over 40% popular support — a clear plurality, but not a majority. Of course, as the issues become sharpened, that could change further.

The delegate count is the vote that matters, not the popular vote.

I'll expand on this point later, but just as the popular vote in the general election is not the vote that matters, the popular vote in the primary is also not the vote that matters. The "pledged delegate" count will control what happens at the convention in the first round of voting. After the first round, superdelegates enter the battle, mostly on the side of re-establishing an Obama status quo.

This means that if Joe Biden, say, picks up 25% of pledged delegates in the very early California primary, then fades to almost nothing but doesn't drop out, his California delegates will still vote for him at the convention in round one, denying those votes to anyone else. It will go like that state by state.

So if you're a Sanders supporter, the data to watch is not his popular support, which could surge even greater by April 28, when the last of the big states votes, but his cumulative delegate count. Watch especially the delegate counts in the early races, when the sheer mass of candidates will tend to dilute any candidate's share of the total available.

• A brief expansion of the last point: Delegate counts for Tier 4 candidates can be ignored (Klobuchar, for example, will not pull many Minnesota delegates from the other candidates), and of Tier 3 candidates only Castro, who will vie with O'Rourke for "favorite son" delegates in Texas, is likely to affect the final delegate count.

This leaves Biden, Buttigieg, O'Rourke and Harris as the chief delegate vote-splitters, since most Warren delegates are likely Sanders delegates if Warren releases them. Can Biden, Buttigieg, O'Rourke and Harris together capture more than 50% of the pledged delegate total entering the convention? On that point the entire drama of the convention — and with it, the nomination — will turn.

After all, Sanders can "win" with a plurality on the first round and still be denied the nomination. 

Even so, watch these polls with great interest.

The sooner Sanders captures and keeps first place in popular support in a world with Biden as a candidate, the stronger his argument to voters in the early primaries that he should get the most delegates.

Also, the sooner Sanders captures and keeps majority support (50% or more) in these polls, the stronger his argument at the convention will be that superdelegates should support him on the second round or risk a rebellion among his supporters independent of what Sanders himself recommends. Such a revolt against the Democratic Party could put Trump in charge of the nation for another four years regardless of the goodness of the Democratic Party's "compromise" or "unity" candidate.

Put simply, superdelegates need to be put on the hottest hot seat Sanders supporters can create if his candidacy is to survive a second round of voting.

The Rebellion Has Already Started

From the Department of Just Saying, here's an expansion of that last point. The nation is already in revolt, just as it was in the 1850s before the first shot was fired at Fort Sumter. We're sitting on a powder keg, just not a lit one.

So far the rebellion is mainly electoral. People surged for Obama in 2008 thanks to the (false, as it turns out) "Times They Are A-Changin'" paint job his campaign received from Will.I.Am and "Yes We Can."

They surged for Sanders in 2016, then shockingly to many (but not to all) surged again for Trump, who lying through his teeth, ran on a "Sanders platform" and marched to a 304–227 Electoral College win over the quintessential status quo candidate Hillary Clinton.

In some congressional districts they surged again in 2018, supporting true-progressive candidates like Marie Newman, who narrowly lost to corrupt status-quo Democrat Dan Lipinski, and successful rebel-progressives like Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez.

The rebellion is surging again this year, once more electorally. Unless the odd or unexpected happens, unless he stumbles or is brought down, expect Sanders' support to reach near or above 50% among potential primary voters — and expect his 2020 polling against Donald Trump to equal his dominant 2016 polling. During that primary, Sanders beat Trump in almost every head-to-head poll by a far greater margin than Clinton did.

But if the grinding machine that is the bipartisan, militarized Establishment denies again the people's choice for president, look for the rebellion against it to seek electoral revenge once more only — by not voting or voting for Donald Trump.

After that, the rebellion will not be so restricted.

Mural by Banksy

Nor will the forces that already counter it. 

Imperial storm troopers guarding a bank in Portland

I'm not sure many of us will want to live here after that. Democratic Party leaders, this could be your very last chance to get things right electorally. If you don't, the matter may be taken from your hands for good.

Just saying.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Fox Viewers Heard Napolitano Say This About Trump "That Is Immoral, That Is Criminal, That Is Defenseless And That Is Condemnable"


Fox News doesn't have Andrew Napolitano's segment about how Trump obstructed justice up on YouTube. If they wanted a lot of clicks, they'd have it available. As always, though, Fox would rather protect Trump. The random-- and partial-- posting above is likely to be taken down for infringement of Fox's material... so watch it quickly.

What is relatively easy to find, though, is Napolitano's written OpEd for Fox News. Trump, a non-reader, is less afraid of the written word than the televised spoken word, so somehow this remains available.
Last week, Attorney General William Barr released publicly a redacted version of Mueller's final report. That report concluded that notwithstanding 127 confirmed communications between the campaign and Russians from July 2015 to November 2016 (Trump said there were none), the government could not prove the existence of a conspiracy.

On obstruction, the report concluded that notwithstanding numerous obstructive events engaged in by the president personally, the special counsel would not charge the president and would leave the resolution of obstruction of justice to Congress. Congress, of course, cannot bring criminal charges, but it can impeach.

Trump initially claimed that he had been completely exonerated by Mueller-- even though the word "exoneration" and the concept of DOJ exoneration are alien to our legal system. Then, after he learned of the dozen or so documented events of obstruction described in the report, Trump used a barnyard epithet to describe it.

The Constitution prescribes treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors as the sole bases for impeachment. We know that obstruction of justice constitutes an impeachable offense under the "high crimes and misdemeanors" rubric because both presidents in the modern era who were subject to impeachment proceedings-- Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton-- were charged with obstructing justice.

Obstruction is a rare crime that is rarely completed. Stated differently, the obstructer need not succeed in order to be charged with obstruction. That's because the statute itself prohibits attempting to impede or interfere with any government proceeding for a corrupt or self-serving purpose.

Thus, if my neighbor tackles me on my way into a courthouse in order to impede a jury from hearing my testimony, and, though delayed, I still make it to the courthouse and testify, then the neighbor is guilty of obstruction because he attempted to impede the work of the jury that was waiting to hear me.

Mueller laid out at least a half-dozen crimes of obstruction committed by Trump-- from asking former Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland to write an untruthful letter about the reason for Flynn's chat with Kislyak, to asking Corey Lewandowski and then-former White House Counse lDon McGahn to fire Mueller and McGahn to lie about it, to firing Comey to impede the FBI's investigations, to dangling a pardon in front of Michael Cohen to stay silent, to ordering his aides to hide and delete records.

The essence of obstruction is deception or diversion-- to prevent the government from finding the truth. To Mueller, the issue was not if Trump committed crimes of obstruction. Rather, it was if Trump could be charged successfully with those crimes.

Mueller knew that Barr would block an indictment of Trump because Barr has a personal view of obstruction at odds with the statute itself. Barr's view requires that the obstructer has done his obstructing in order to impede the investigation or prosecution of a crime that the obstructer himself has committed. Thus, in this narrow view, because Trump did not commit the crime of conspiracy with the Russians, it was legally impossible for Trump to have obstructed the FBI investigation of that crime.

The nearly universal view of law enforcement, however, is that the obstruction statute prohibits all attempted self-serving interference with government investigations or proceedings. Thus, as Georgetown Professor Neal Katyal recently pointed out, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was convicted of obstruction for interfering with an investigation of his extramarital affair, even though the affair was lawful.

Famously, Martha Stewart was convicted of obstruction of an investigation into her alleged insider trading, even though the insider trading charges against her had been dismissed. And a federal appeals court recently upheld the obstruction conviction of a defendant who suborned perjury in order to impede the prosecution of the sister of a childhood friend.

On obstruction, Barr is wrong.

...The president's job is to enforce federal law. If he had ordered its violation to save innocent life or preserve human freedom, he would have a moral defense. But ordering obstruction to save himself from the consequences of his own behavior is unlawful, defenseless and condemnable.
So here we have former New Jersey superior court judge Andrew Napolitano, Trump confidant and the host of Liberty File on Fox Nation, making the point that the Mueller report illustrates clear and intentional obstruction of justice, constituting legal grounds for impeachment. In Trump's twitter feed, Napolitano is no longer Judge Andrew Napolitano; he's now 'judge' Andrew Napolitano. Trump has a new enemy and it's anyone's guess how long he'll last on Fox.

Trump claims it's all because Napolitano got angry at him for not appointing him to the Supreme Court. Quick, go get the popcorn.
“Ever since Andrew came to my office to ask that I appoint him to the U.S. Supreme Court, and I said NO, he has been very hostile! Also asked for pardon for his friend. A good ‘pal’ of low ratings Shepard Smith.”

Trump’s attack on his often-quoted Fox News judge, who was once his favorite personality on the network, came after Napolitano criticized the president’s actions listed in the Mueller report, which he argued rose to the level of obstruction of justice.

“When the president asked his then-White House counsel to get Mueller fired and then lie about it, that’s obstruction of justice. When he asked Don McGahn to go back to the special counsel and change his testimony, that’s obstruction of justice. When he dangled a pardon in front of [ex-attorney] Michael Cohen in order to keep Cohen from testifying, that’s obstruction of justice,” Napolitano said on his show last Wednesday.
This is the takeaway from what Napolitano said that Trump fears most: "To save a human life or to preserve human freedom, he would at least have a moral defense to his behavior. But ordering them to break federal law to save him from the consequences of his own behavior-- that is immoral, that is criminal, that is defenseless and that is condemnable."

Obstruction of Justice 2: William Barr by Nancy Ohanian

Labels: , ,