Category: Politics

Selling The US Down The River

From Carl Bernstein (Yes, that Carl Bernstein) on CNN, an absolutely insane yet not at all surprising piece on 45’s phone calls with dictators and allies around the world:

One person familiar with almost all the conversations with the leaders of Russia, Turkey, Canada, Australia and western Europe described the calls cumulatively as ‘abominations’ so grievous to US national security interests that if members of Congress heard from witnesses to the actual conversations or read the texts and contemporaneous notes, even many senior Republican members would no longer be able to retain confidence in the President.

The insidious effect of the conversations comes from Trump’s tone, his raging outbursts at allies while fawning over authoritarian strongmen, his ignorance of history and lack of preparation as much as it does from the troubling substance, according to the sources. While in office, then- Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats expressed worry to subordinates that Trump’s telephone discussions were undermining the coherent conduct of foreign relations and American objectives around the globe, one of CNN’s sources said. And in recent weeks, former chief of staff Kelly has mentioned the damaging impact of the President’s calls on US national security to several individuals in private.

The most jaw dropping elements were saved for describing 45’s interactions with Putin and Turkey’s Erdogan

The calls with Putin and Erdogan were particularly egregious in terms of Trump almost never being prepared substantively and thus leaving him susceptible to being taken advantage of in various ways, according to the sources — in part because those conversations (as with most heads of state), were almost certainly recorded by the security services and other agencies of their countries.In his phone exchanges with Putin, the sources reported, the President talked mostly about himself, frequently in over-the-top, self-aggrandizing terms: touting his “unprecedented” success in building the US economy; asserting in derisive language how much smarter and “stronger” he is than “the imbeciles” and “weaklings” who came before him in the presidency (especially Obama); reveling in his experience running the Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow, and obsequiously courting Putin’s admiration and approval. Putin “just outplays” him, said a high-level administration official — comparing the Russian leader to a chess grandmaster and Trump to an occasional player of checkers. While Putin “destabilizes the West,” said this source, the President of the United States “sits there and thinks he can build himself up enough as a businessman and tough guy that Putin will respect him.” (At times, the Putin-Trump conversations sounded like “two guys in a steam bath,” a source added.)

Just as a reminder, a summary of how the Senate voted during the impeachment proceedings earlier this year. (Remember that?)

Iowa

As the country heads into the start of the ever critical 2020 election season, here is a great piece from The Daily Show’s Jordan Klepper that profiles the fine, ‘diverse’ (“Iowa is 90% white but the 10% that’s not white, is 100% not white.”) folks of Iowa, the Iowa Caucuses, and why Iowa is first in the electoral primary process.

Klepper left TDS for about two years to try some other projects, and I have to say, I didn’t realize how much I missed his humor and bits until he came back to do the Iowa piece above along with this quietly savage take on a 45 rally in the heart of ‘Pennsyltucky‘, Hershey, PA.

A Call To Sanity

Image Credit: NY Times

I have to wonder if Pelosi’s smart move to hold submission of the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate will maybe make those in the GOP to take a step back and really think about what they have in front of them. Maybe when others in the GOP start to vocalize a strikingly logical perspective, like what Jeff Flake penned in the WaPost, some sense of sanity will start to sink in. Or does nothing truly matter anymore?

But what is indefensible is echoing House Republicans who say that the president has not done anything wrong. He has.

The willingness of House Republicans to bend to the president’s will by attempting to shift blame with the promotion of bizarre and debunked conspiracy theories has been an appalling spectacle. It will have long-term ramifications for the country and the party, to say nothing of individual reputations. 

Nearly all of you condemned the president’s behavior during the 2016 campaign. Nearly all of you refused to campaign with him. You knew then that doing so would be wrong — would be a stain on your reputation and the standing of the Republican Party, and would do lasting damage to the conservative cause.

Ask yourself today: Has the president changed his behavior? Has he grown in office? Has the mantle of the presidency altered his conduct? The answer is obvious. In fact, if the president’s political rally in Michigan on Wednesday is any measure, his language has only become more vulgar, his performance cruder, his behavior more boorish and unstable.

Jeff Flake, OpEd, The Washington Post – 12.21.19

Like A Poker Player Drawing to an Inside Straight

From Vanity Fair’s Scott Turow

Robert Mueller, presumably, still doesn’t know what a truthful Manafort would have to say, but Trump does. If Manafort is, in fact, playing for a pardon, a route that even disgraced former N.S.A. chief Michael Flynn, whom Trump steadily defended, didn’t take it would speak volumes about how damaging Manafort’s testimony could be to Trump or to those close to him, such as his son, Donald Trump Jr., and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. If Manafort’s truthful testimony was simply going to absolve all of them of conspiring with the Russians, he could have made a deal long ago. Such testimony would have been as likely to earn an eventual pardon, once the smoke cleared. Manafort’s problem, then, seems to be that Mueller may already have evidence of collusion that threatens to endanger him, his former colleagues on the campaign, and possibly Trump himself.

Turow’s article does an amazing job of laying out how deftly “Bobby Three Sticks” is playing this and how Manfort’s already limited options are rapidly dwindling to nothing.  Even if Manfort holds out in the hopes of getting a pardon from 45, Mueller can still bring him in front of a grand jury because in that scenario, Manafort would have to talk as he would lose his Fifth Amendment right to silence since he has no risk of prosecution based on his testimony.  But if he lies in that scenario, he could still face the music.  If 45 fired Mueller, Washington would explode, not to mention the electorate, and impeachment hearings would start faster than you could say “kompromat”.

Try Try Again

The National Archives will make yet another attempt, using advanced high tech methods, to once and for all figure out what happened during those infamous 18 and a half minutes of tape that were erased from the records of a meeting between Nixon and H.R. Haldeman on June 20, 1972, three days after the Watergate break-in that eventually brought down the Nixon presidency.

A Bud And A Colt 45 to Go

The Arizona legislature has just sent a bill to the Governor that would allow concealed guns in bars.

Critics of the measure say guns and alcohol are a dangerous combination. “We don’t let people drink and drive, why should we let them drink and carry guns?” said Sen. Paula Aboud, D-Tucson, who voted against the bill.

Ah, really?…a dangerous combination? Nothing makes me more comfortable than going into a bar full of gun totin’ drunken fools. It may truly be the Wild Wild West.

This Is Why Government is Broken

The Obama team started off their first week of his Presidency with the harsh realization that they have moved into the dark ages from a technological and communications perspective.

It is kind of like going from an Xbox to an Atari. Two years after launching the most technologically savvy presidential campaign in history, Obama officials ran smack into the constraints of the federal bureaucracy yesterday, encountering a jumble of disconnected phone lines, old computer software, and security regulations forbidding outside e-mail accounts.What does that mean in 21st-century terms? No Facebook to communicate with supporters. No outside e-mail log-ins. No instant messaging. Hard adjustments for a staff that helped sweep Obama to power through, among other things, relentless online social networking.

It appears they will be working on beige computer boxes with Windows 2000 on them. I realize that the Federal Government is quite a large organization and upgrading the systems is not a simple task, but you would have to think that the staff at the White House of all places would have an IT system and infrastructure that employs standards and technology from this decade.

Worse or Dead Worse

Interesting article by Jim Cramer in NY Magazine this week about the sorry state of the economy today and what could possibly happen a year from now:

What will New York look like a year from now? The answer: bad and probably worse, and perhaps downright catastrophic. Three degrees of awful. The first step was passing the bank-bailout legislation. Now that it’s done and if it didn’t get done we would have been looking at a guaranteed economic collapse, the critical issue will be presidential leadership. And while any president will be an improvement over the current one, there is a growing belief on Wall Street that Barack Obama has the capacity to lead us out of this wilderness while John McCain does not. I’ll go a step further: Obama is a recession. McCain is a depression.

No matter how we cut it, things are just screwed up.