The Wires

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New York Times (September 22): In March the Department of Justice described criminal cases involving nearly $700 million lost [to fraud] in the previous year by about two million people. The ones hit hardest by this kind of fraud are over 70, and they experience an average loss of $41,800, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports.... Some of the newer tactics for defrauding older people focus on Social Security, grandparenting and employment searches." ~~~

~~~ Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: I have received a number of calls recently warning me I was about to lose my Social Security card, an eventuality that is highly unlikely. I have always just hung up on these automated calls, but yesterday, I decided to bite. When the "real person" came on the phone, he identified himself as a Social Security officer, certainly breaking the law right there. "Really?" I said. "How are you going to prove you're a federal government official and not a scammer?" He immediately hung up. Maybe this gang of crooks will stop calling me (tho probably not).

New York Times: "Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo have both won this year’s Booker Prize, it was announced at a ceremony on Monday, after the judges for the literary award rebelled against its rules. 'We were told quite firmly that the rules state you can only have one winner,' Peter Florence, the chairman of the Booker judges, said at a news conference. But the 'consensus was to flout the rules and divide this year’s prize to celebrate two winners.' Evaristo, who won for her novel 'Girl, Woman, Other,' is the first black woman to win the Booker Prize. 'I hope that honor doesn’t last too long,' she said in her acceptance speech. Atwood, who won in 2000 for 'The Blind Assassin,' was considered a front-runner this year for 'The Testaments,' the sequel to her 1985 dystopian classic, 'The Handmaid’s Tale.'”

We are amused:

The Hollywood Reporter has a list of this year's Emmy Award winners.

The End of the Amtrak Dining Car. Washington Post: "Amtrak says it is reinventing its dining service on long-distance trains, killing the traditional dining car to create more 'flexible' and 'contemporary' dining options. The carrier says the change, starting this fall on the one-night routes east of the Mississippi River, is driven by the desire to save money and lure a younger generation of new riders — chiefly, millennials known to be always on the run, glued to their phones and not particularly keen on breaking bread with strangers at a communal table. With the transition, Amtrak is doing away with the traditional onboard kitchen, switching to serving prepackaged meals and easing restrictions on the traditional serving times. The change allows the railroad to cut costs associated with cooking aboard and keeping up with the white-tablecloth service that was once known to rival high-end restaurants and clubs." ~~~

     ~~~ Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: I realize many of you are too young to have experienced this, but once upon a time, traveling by train & plane was glamorous. People dressed up to travel, and those who had train roomettes dressed for dinner. My then-husband & I once had a roomette when we traveled from Juarez to Mexico City, & the experience was absolutely fabulous; so was the cuisine in the dining car. Now, it's sensible to dress in the most comfy clothes in anticipation of getting squished into a teeny "economy class" airline seat. The photos accompanying the WashPo story show people wearing casual dress in the white-tablecloth dining room, & the men are too gauche to remove their billed caps. P.S. to American tourists: nobody more messes up a photo of an historic site than a bunch of yahoo sightseers ambling around in their sloppy travel outfits. Then:

CNN: "The US Navy has finally acknowledged footage purported to show UFOs hurtling through the air. And while officials said they don't know what the objects are, they're not indulging any hints either. The objects seen in three clips of declassified military footage are "unidentified aerial phenomena," Navy spokesperson Joe Gradisher confirmed to CNN.The clips, released between December 2017 and March 2018 by To The Stars Academy of Arts & Sciences, appear to show fast-moving, oblong objects captured by advanced infrared sensors.In footage from 2004, sensors lock on a target as it flies before it accelerates out of the left side of the frame, too quickly for the sensors to relocate it. Two of the videos, both from 2015, contain audio from US fighter pilots attempting to make sense of what they're seeing."

New York Times: "A solid 18-karat gold toilet, titled 'America' by its creator, Maurizio Cattelan, was stolen early Saturday [September 14] from an exhibit at Blenheim Palace, the Oxfordshire birthplace and family home of Winston Churchill.... The artwork is based on a common Kohler toilet and was created by a foundry in Florence. The work’s value was not disclosed, but [Guggenheim artistic director Nancy] Spector described it as 'millions of dollars’ worth of gold.'... The police said in a statement that they were investigating the burglary and that a 66-year-old man had been arrested but not charged. The toilet has not been recovered. Jess Milne, a detective inspector, noted that the toilet had been plumbed to the building, so the theft 'caused significant damage and flooding.' He said the police believed a 'group of offenders' using at least two vehicles was behind the theft." the Hill's story is here.

Modern Art. CNN: "Hillary Clinton's emails ... have become art -- and the former secretary of state herself went to take a look.The 2016 Democratic presidential nominee looked through printed copies of her emails and sat at a replica of the Oval Office's Resolute Desk during a visit Tuesday to an art exhibit in Venice, Italy, titled 'HILLARY: The Hillary Clinton Emails,' according to the exhibit's creator and curators. 'Hillary Clinton spent an hour yesterday reading her emails at my exhibition of all 62,000 pages of them in Venice,' American poet and artist Kenneth Goldsmith tweeted Wednesday. 'She is pictured here at a replica of the Oval Office Resolute Desk, stacked with her emails.' Francesco Urbano Ragazzi -- the collective name for two men who are working as the exhibit's curatorial team -- told CNN that Clinton came in for a private tour of the exhibit Tuesday morning."

... Related Washington Post story here.

     ... Thanks to NJC for the lead.


The Commentariat -- October 10, 2019

Late Morning Update:

** Ha Ha. Breaking. Tom Winter & Allan Smith of NBC News: "Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, two foreign-born donors who gave money to a political action committee supporting ... Donald Trump, were arrested Wednesday night and face charges tied to campaign-finance violations, two law enforcement officials confirmed to NBC News. The pair are expected to appear in federal court Thursday. Fruman and Parnas worked with Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal attorney, Giuliani has previously said, as part of his dealings in Ukraine that involved efforts to encourage the nation to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. The Wall Street Journal was first to report on the arrests." Mrs. McC: These guys have been at the center of urging Ukraine officials to gather dirt on the Bidens. One of them has dined with Trump at the White House. CNN says they were nabbed at Dulles Airport, no doubt on their way to parts very unknown. Besides Rudy, former Trump/White House attorney John Dowd is/was representing them. I wonder if Trump will ask Barr to try to get the prosecutors to drop the charges, as he asked Rex Tillerson (story linked below) to get another of Giuliani's clients off the hook. ~~~

Via the Wall Street Journal. Lev Parnas & another guy, in happier days (May Day 2018).     ~~~ Update. The Wall Street Journal story popped up here (as a "courtesy," a pop-up said).

     ~~~ Update 2. Eileen Sullivan, et al., of the New York Times: "Two associates of the president's private lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, who helped fund efforts to investigate one of President Trump's political rivals, were charged in a separate case with violating campaign finance laws, according to court documents. The two men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, believed to be important witnesses in the House's impeachment inquiry of Mr. Trump, were arrested on campaign finance charges.... Two other men, David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin, were also indicted. Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman aided Mr. Giuliani's efforts to gin up investigations in Ukraine into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden, among other potentially politically beneficial investigations for Mr. Trump. Mr. Parnas had been scheduled to participate in a deposition with House impeachment investigators on Capitol Hill on Thursday, and Mr. Fruman on Friday. Neither had been expected to show up voluntarily. House Democrats were preparing to issue subpoenas to force them to do so.... Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman are based in South Florida, and are executives of an energy company that donated $325,000 to a pro-Trump super PAC last year, prompting a Federal Election Commission complaint by a nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog accusing the men and the company of violating campaign finance laws. ~~~

~~~ Headline of the Daily Beast's story: "Rudy's Ukraine Henchmen Arrested on Campaign-Finance Charge." ~~~

~~~ But they were supposed to be so concerned about corruption! -- New York "Intelligencer" (no link)

You said Kurds weren't 'with us' at Normandy? Could you address your entire family's legacy of avoiding military service starting with your grandfather who was expelled from Germany for avoiding military service? -- Anonymous, suggested question to Cadet Bone Spurs, in today's Comments

Adam Raymond of New York: "'They suck,' President Trump tweeted Thursday in response to a Fox News poll that found 51 percent of voters backing his impeachment and removal from office. The low energy insult was directed at Fox News's pollster, but there's little doubt that Trump thinks the network sucks too. In several tweets Thursday, he lashed out at the network for not properly praising him and gave a shout out One American News, the obsequious right-wing propaganda network that's been trying to win Trump's affection for years. 'From the day I announced I was running for President, I have NEVER had a good @FoxNews Poll,' Trump tweeted. 'Whoever their Pollster is, they suck. But @FoxNews is also much different than it used to be in the good old days. With people like Andrew Napolitano, who wanted to be a Supreme Court Justice & I turned him down (he's been terrible ever since), Shep Smith, @donnabrazile (who gave Crooked Hillary the debate questions & got fired from @CNN), & others, @FoxNews doesn't deliver for US anymore. It is so different than it used to be. Oh well, I'm President!'"

Taegan Goddard of Political Wire: "Michael Pillsbury, an informal White House adviser on China, told the Financial Times that he received information about the business activities of Hunter Biden during a visit to Beijing in the same week President Trump urged China to probe the son of Joe Biden. Said Pillsbury: 'I got a quite a bit of background on Hunter Biden from the Chinese.'" Mrs. McC: Huh. Don't know who "the Chinese" are, but the Chinese government said it rejected Trump's entreaty to dig up dirt on Hunter Biden & wouldn't intervene in US domestic affairs.

Can This Marriage Be Saved? Quint Forgey of Politico: "Conservative attorney George Conway encouraged ... Donald Trump's closest aides in the West Wing to resign, specifically swiping at White House counsel Pat Cipollone for his response to House Democrats' impeachment inquiry. 'If you can't have a positive effect on him, and I don't think anybody can, yeah,' Conway told Preet Bharara, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, when asked whether he would advise members of the president's 'inner circle' to quit.... 'The only people I think who should ... who may have to stay, would be people in the national security area, who can at least have some moderating or blunting effect,' Conway said, accusing White House lawyers of attempting 'to protect Trump' from allegations related to his controversial phone call in July with Ukraine's president. Deflecting a potential query about his wife's [Kellyanne Conway] role in the administration, Conway told Bharara: 'Not going there. But I think my position is clear.'"


Lefteris Pitarakis & Mehmet Guzel of the AP: "Turkish ground forces seized at least one village from Kurdish fighters in northern Syria as they pressed ahead with their assault Thursday, launching airstrikes and unleashing artillery shelling on towns and villages the length of its border. The Turkish invasion, now in its second day, has been widely condemned around the world. In northern Syria, residents of border areas scrambled in panic as they tried to get out on foot, in cars and with rickshaws piled with mattresses and a few belongings.... A Kurdish-led group and Syrian activists claimed Thursday that despite the heavy barrage, Turkish troops had not made much progress on several fronts they had opened over the past hours. But their claims could not be independently verified and the situation on the ground was difficult to assess. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that 109 'terrorists' were killed since Ankara launched the offensive into Syria the previous day -- a reference to the U.S.-allied Syrian Kurdish fighters. He did not elaborate, and the reports on the ground did not indicate anything remotely close to such a large number of casualties." ~~~

~~~ Carlotta Gall & Daniel Victor of the New York Times: "Fighting lit up the sky early Thursday as Turkish troops pressed their air and ground offensive against United States-allied Kurdish fighters in northern Syria. At least 16 Kurds were reported to have been killed, one monitoring group said."

~~~ "Turkey Attacks U.S. Allies." Ben Hubbard & Carlotta Gall of the New York Times: "Turkey sent warplanes and troops into northeastern Syria on Wednesday in a military operation aimed a flushing out an American-backed militia, Turkish and Syrian officials said. The Turkish attack came amid a flurry of confusing policy statements from the White House, which on Sunday acquiesced to the operation, agreeing to move American forces out of the way, but on Wednesday, hours after it began, condemned it. 'The United States does not endorse this attack and has made it clear to Turkey that this operation is a bad idea,' President Trump said in a statement on Wednesday.... Mr. Trump insisted Tuesday that 'in no way have we abandoned the Kurds,' and on Wednesday said he firmly opposed the operation. Turkey,' he added, 'has committed to protecting civilians, protecting religious minorities, including Christians, and ensuring no humanitarian crisis takes place -- and we will hold them to this commitment.'... At least seven people were killed in Turkish attacks on Wednesday, according to the Rojava Information Center, an activist group in northeastern Syria." (This is an update of a story linked yesterday.) ~~~

     ~~~ Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: "A bad idea"? A bad idea is sitting out a thunderstorm under a tree. A bad idea is mixing whites and colors in a wash load. ~~~

~~~ Karen DeYoung, et al., of the Washington Post: "President Trump said Wednesday that it would be 'easy' for the United States to form new alliances if Syrian Kurds leave the fight against the Islamic State to fend off a Turkish attack.... In his impromptu news conference, Trump said he expected Erdogan to conduct the offensive 'in as humane a way as possible.... We'l have to define that as we go along,' he said. 'He can do it in a soft manner, he can do it in a very tough manner. If he doesn't do it fairly, he's going to [pay] a very big economic price.'... Behind the scenes, Defense Department and State Department officials have rushed to reassure other U.S. allies operating in Syria -- principally France and Britain -- that only a handful of U.S. troops were being moved and that the presence and mission of the total force of about 1,000 Americans in northern Syria would remain unchanged. France, whose foreign minister condemned 'the unilateral operation launched by Turkey in Syria,' called for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Thursday morning.... Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress continued to warn that the Turkish assault was a threat to U.S. policy interests.... More than 50 Democratic House members issued an open letter to Trump on Wednesday saying his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northeastern Syria in advance of the Turkish operation puts U.S. allies in danger, jeopardizes U.S. counterterrorism efforts in the region and will cause 'current and future allies to question the reliability of the U.S. as a partner.'" ~~~

~~~ Eric Levitz of New York: "The president produced a variety of contradictory defenses in response [to the backlash against his unleashing the Turks on the Kurds]. On Monday, he said, 'The United States does not endorse [Turkey's] attack and has made it clear to Turkey that this operation is a bad idea.' Then, on Twitter, Trump made a tacit case for letting Turkey have its way in northeast Syria on the grounds that the country has been such a swell ally; shortly thereafter, he warned he would 'totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey' if Erdogan's government did 'anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits.'... A a senior adviser to Erdogan told CNN Wednesday afternoon that it was, saying, 'President Trump and President Erdogan have reached an understanding over precisely what this operation is.' In a subsequent press conference, Trump did not contradict that claim... He expressed fatalism about the day's violence. Of the Turks and Kurds, Trump said, 'They've wanted to fight, and that's the way it is.'... Almost makes one wonder whether Trump is actually fit for the extraordinary responsibilities of his office." ~~~

Now the Kurds are fighting for their land, just so you understand. They're fighting for their land. And as somebody wrote in a very very powerful article today: They didn't help us in the Second World War, they didn't help us with Normandy, as an example, they mention names of different battles... but they're there to help us with their land. -- Donald Trump, Wednesday, explaining why abandoning the Kurds is no big deal

Yes, and where the hell were the Kurds when George Washington was crossing the Potomac & Teddy Roosevelt was storming Bunker Hill? -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie ~~~

~~~ Audrey McNamara of the Daily Beast: "President Trump on Wednesday addressed his decision to withdraw American troops from northern Syria, abandoning our Kurdish allies -- who have done a majority of the fighting against ISIS -- before an impending attack by Turkey. Trump noted several contributing factors, including that the Kurds, an Iranian ethnic group, did not help the United States during World War II -- including the invasion of Normandy Beach." ~~~

     ~~~ Mrs. McCrabbie: A real president, of course, would base his rationale for a decision regarding military action on advice from and deliberations with appropriate Pentagon, State Department, Security Council & intelligence agency experts. Not Fake President Trump. McNamara writes, "The president appears to have been referring to a Tuesday Townhall column by Kurt Schlichter praising Trump for his decision. 'The Kurds helped destroy ISIS, true. It's also true that the Kurds would have fought ISIS anyway, since the psycho caliphate was right next door,' Schlichter writes. 'Let's be honest -- the Kurds didn't show up for us at Normandy or Inchon or Khe Sanh or Kandahar.'" In fairness to Trump, this is not entirely his fault. Even he knows that the real basis for his decision is corrupt: his need to keep in the good graces of an authoritarian leader of a country where Trump has business interests. He had to make up something; ergo, right-wing site, Normandy!

They're going to be escaping to Europe. That's what they want to go. -- Donald Trump, Wednesday, explaining why he is unconcerned about thousands of ISIS prisoners escaping prisons the Kurds had been guarding

Because President* A.E. Newman values our European allies as much as he values the Kurds. -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie ~~~

~~~ Joe DePaolo of Mediaite: “... Donald Trump says he is unconcerned about ISIS fighters escaping Syrian prisons following the U.S. pullout because 'they will be escaping to Europe.' Speaking Wednesday at the White House, the president essentially shrugged off concerns about captured ISIS fighters held by Kurds escaping Syria -- more or less saying it's not the U.S.'s problem.... Trump went on to swipe at Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) -- who has been one of his most vocal backers over the past few years but has spoken out strongly against the U.S. pullout from Syria. 'I think Lindsey would like to stay there for the next 200 years, and maybe add a couple hundred thousand people every place,' Trump said. 'But I disagree with Lindsey on that.'" ~~~

~~~ ** Heidi Przybyla & Anna Schecter of NBC News: "... the fact that Trump made his decision to pull the U.S. troops out of Syria shortly after the phone call with Erdogan has raised alarm bells from policymakers, as well as government ethics watchdog groups who have long seen Trump’s extensive business interests as a potential area for conflicts of interest.... Trump and his family have long had business ties in and with Turkey, the most visible example being the Trump Towers Istanbul, which licenses the Trump name.... The Washington Post has reported that the organization was paid up to $10 million to put the Trump name on the two buildings. Erdogan attended the opening ceremony of the office and residential towers in 2012.... In 2015, Trump acknowledged having a potential 'conflict' when it came to issues involving Turkey. 'I have a little conflict of interest because I have a major, major building in Istanbul,' Trump said.... Businesses linked to the Turkish government are also major patrons of the Trump Organization. Turkish officials have made 14 visits to Trump properties, more than any other country, according to an analysis performed for NBC News by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW." (Also linked yesterday.)

Axios: "Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) released an outline of potential sanctions against Turkey on Wednesday, following the news of a Turkish military offensive against Kurdish forces in northern Syria.... The senators say their sanctions will go into effect upon enactment unless the Trump administration confirms that 'Turkey is not operating unilaterally' in Syria and has withdrawn its armed forces from areas it occupied as of Wednesday. Graham told Axios' Jonathan Swan that he predicts he will have more than enough votes to override a presidential veto of the sanctions, saying: 'Who the hell supports Erdogan over the Kurds?'" Report includes the outline of the proposed bill.

AP: "U.S. officials say two captive British militants believed to be part of an Islamic State group that beheaded hostages have been taken into American custody and moved out of Syria.... Donald Trump said earlier Wednesday that the U.S. had transferred some Islamic State prisoners amid fears they could escape custody as Turkish troops invade northeastern Syria. Officials say they took El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Amon Kotey out of Syria to an undisclosed location. The two men and other British jihadis who made up the alleged IS cell that beheaded prisoners were nicknamed 'The Beatles' by surviving captives because of their English accents. The cell beheaded seven American British and Japanese journalists and aid workers and a group of Syrian soldiers in 2014 and 2015, boasting of the butchery in videos released to the world."

"There Is No Plan B." Josh Rogin of the Washington Post: "Just last week, two top Trump administration officials publicly defended the U.S. Syria strategy and explained why a Turkish attack on Kurds in northeastern Syria would ruin it completely. Now, everything they were working on is in tatters, and the dangers they warned about are coming true -- thanks to President Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.... Joel Rayburn, the State Department's special envoy for Syria, told an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations... that a Turkish attack in northeastern Syria would not only be a disaster for the region, but would also set back efforts to solve the greater Syria conflict and hand a gift to America's enemies. He also warned that it would hurt other U.S. objectives, namely to ensure the enduring defeat of the Islamic State and push back against Iran.... Michael Mulroy, deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East, said at the Council on Foreign Relations that the United States cannot carry out its strategy in Syria without partners such as the mostly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who bore most of the burden in destroying the Islamic State's caliphate. He said that the United States must not leave before stabilizing the area."

Mrs. McCrabbie: A few days ago, Jeff Toobin of the New Yorker wrote that "... the Russia and Ukraine scandals are, in fact, one story." Trump's impulsive decision to betray the Kurds is also part of the same story. It's time Republicans realized this. There is nothing illegal about a president's ignoring advisors' recommendations, but it is highly irresponsible to do so against all domestic professional advice, against the national interest, & solely to accommodate the wishes of a foreign leader who has some control over his own private business interests. Trump's "decision-making process" -- which amounts to either "whatever" or "whatever works for me" -- is overwhelming evidence of his unfitness for office (and not for the first time). "High crimes & misdemeanors" need not be actual crimes codified in U.S. law. It isn't a crime to move to Istanbul to work full-time renovating Trump Towers there. But if Trump did so, he would be impeached & removed from office. Betraying U.S. security interests as a favor to a dictator friend is worse than moving to Istanbul. The betrayal of the Kurds & of American security is a stark escalation of shaking down Ukraine at the expense of American security, and that shakedown, as Toobin writes, is an escalation of Trump's campaign-era solicitation of Russian assistance in the 2016 election.

The Cover Story: "Keep Moving, People, Nothing to See Here." Lara Jakes of the New York Times: "American diplomats who had pushed for the Trump administration to restore security funding to Ukraine were advised by the White House to play down the release of the money when it was finally approved, documents show. 'Keep moving, people, nothing to see here ...' Brad Freden, the State Department's acting deputy assistant secretary overseeing issues in Europe and Eurasia, wrote in a Sept. 12 email obtained by The New York Times. He said the National Security Council would not publicly announce that $141 million in State Department assistance was being restored after being held up in what the White House described as a normal review.... [William] Taylor[, the top U.S. envoy in Kiev,] said he planned to announce it in Ukraine. 'I will inform President Zelensky as soon as he is out of a meeting,' Mr. Taylor wrote to Mr. Freden. 'We then intend to make it public here.' Mr. Freden responded in minutes. 'In terms of public messaging, N.S.C. is deliberately treating both the hold and its lifting as administrative matters,' he wrote. 'My advice is to keep your public messaging low-key as well.'... A series of previously unreported internal State Department emails reflect diplomats' frustration with the unexpected freeze on funding that Congress had already approved." ~~~

~~~ As Chris Hayes point out, "nothing to see here" is "extremely inculpatory." It's clear Freden -- and no doubt his correspondents -- knew Trump had committed a crime, and "nothing to see here" is an obvious way of acknowledging "but we mustn't talk about it."

Arden Farhi of CBS News: "CBS News has learned the full contents of what appears to be a memo written by the whistleblower one day after President Trump spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July. The memo, dated July 26, is based on a conversation the whistleblower had with an unnamed White House official who listened to the call. According to a source familiar with the matter, the memo was among the factors that led the intelligence community inspector general to determine the whistleblower's formal August 12 complaint was credible. The inspector general testified Friday behind closed doors before the three House committee leading the impeachment inquiry.... [Includes] the full text of the memo, as described to CBS News[.]" ~~~

     ~~~ Matthew Chapman of the Raw Story: "Asked for comment [on CBS News' synopsis of the whistleblower's memo]..., Rudy Giuliani launched a fresh wave of attacks on the whistleblower, saying the person is a 'poor little sissy,' and adding 'I hope he's in a mental hospital[.]'" ~~~

~~~ Alayna Treene of Axios: "The whistleblower whose allegations about President Trump and Ukraine have sparked an impeachment inquiry 'never worked for or advised a political candidate, campaign, or party,' and spent their entire government career in apolitical positions, according to a statement released by the whistleblower's lawyers Wednesday night.... Republicans and the White House have been ramping up their attempts to discredit the whistleblower, seizing on an Aug. 26 letter from Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson in which he disclosed the whistleblower showed 'some indicia of an arguable political bias ... in favor of a rival political candidate.' CNN later reported that one example of potential bias that Atkinson was referring to was that the whistleblower is a registered Democrat.... On Wednesday, Axios confirmed that Atkinson told lawmakers that the whistleblower previously had 'some type of professional relationship' with one of the 2020 Democratic candidates.... The whistleblowers' attorneys, Andrew Bakaj and Mark Zaid, clarified in their Wednesday statement that during their client's tenure as a career government official, the whistleblower has 'come into contact with presidential candidates from both parties in their roles as elected officials -- not as candidates.'" ~~~

~~~ Natasha Bertrand of Politico: "... Donald Trump's escalating war on the whistleblower who raised concerns over his July phone call with Ukraine's president is exposing what experts say are flaws in the law, which doesn't sufficiently protect whistleblowers from being publicly identified and harassed. Those concerns are growing as the president calls for the whistleblower to be 'exposed' and 'questioned,' while accusing him of having 'ties to one of my Democratic opponents' and perpetrating a 'hoax.' On Wednesday, he said, 'I think it is important to find out who that person is' and complained, 'I do not know why a person that defrauds at the American public should be protected.' Since Sept. 20, the @realDonaldTrump account has tweeted about the whistleblower or his or her attorneys at least 44 times, while the president's allies at the Republican National Committee and on Capitol Hill have amplified those attacks with salvos of their own. Meanwhile, amateur internet detectives have been speculating about the whistleblower's identity -- searching for clues within the complaints itself, combing White House personnel records and even tweeting his supposed name at the president with images of pitchforks and calls to 'get him.'... Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has called for the whistleblower to be 'cross-examined' in public, should Trump be impeached over the Ukraine scandal."

Got Guts. Karoun Demirjian & Carol Morello of the Washington Post: "Congressional investigators expect that Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, will appear as planned for a Friday deposition in the House's ongoing impeachment inquiry, despite the White House's emphatic pledge not to cooperate with Democrats' efforts to investigate President Trump, according to congressional officials involved with the process. Yovanovitch and her lawyer are 'on board,' according to a senior congressional aide, who ... spoke on the condition of anonymity.... State Department officials would not address questions about the matter, and efforts to contact Yovanovitch on Wednesday were unsuccessful. ...

[Ain't Got Guts.] "... It is unclear whether the State Department will expressly forbid Yovanovitch from testifying, as it did in with U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland earlier this week -- in the overnight hours before he was due to speak with the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees."

Alayna Treene of Axios: "The House committees investigating President Trump and Ukraine have requested that his former Russia advisor Fiona Hill appear for a deposition on Oct. 14, as well as turn over several documents dating back to January 2017.... Hill left her role as Trump's top Russia aide in August.... It's unclear how much she knew about the controversial July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.... Hill, a longstanding policy expert and critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, served under both H.R. McMaster and John Bolton on the National Security Council." MSNBC is reporting that, despite the Trump regime's ban on cooperating with the House, Hill has agreed to testify.

Catch-22. Toluse Olorunnipa & Ann E. Marimow of the Washington Post: "In a series of legal maneuvers that have defied Congress, drawn rebukes from federal judges and tested the country's foundational system of checks and balances, President Trump has made an expansive declaration of presidential immunity that would essentially place him beyond the reach of the law. In courts and before Congress, Trump's legal teams are simultaneously arguing two contradictory points: that the president can't be investigated or indicted by prosecutors because Congress has the sole responsibility for holding presidents accountable, and that the House's impeachment inquiry is an unconstitutional effort that the White House can ignore.... The broad legal effort escalated on Tuesday when the White House counsel sent a letter to House Democratic leaders dismissing Congress's impeachment inquiry as 'illegitimate' and stating that the entire executive branch would refuse to cooperate with it." ~~~

~~~ Noah Feldman in a New York Times op-ed: "For the first time since President Richard Nixon refused to turn over the White House tapes, the United States is facing a genuine constitutional crisis. To be sure, Donald Trump had already created a crisis in the presidency by abusing the power of his office to pressure foreign governments to investigate his political rival Joe Biden. But that act on its own didn't count as a constitutional crisis, because the Constitution prescribes an answer to presidential abuse of office: impeachment. Now that President Trump has announced -- via a letter signed by Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel -- that he will not cooperate in any way with the impeachment inquiry begun in the House of Representatives, we no longer have just a crisis of the presidency. We also have a breakdown in the fundamental structure of government under the Constitution."

Alexandra Jaffe of the AP: "Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday he is working with the White House counsel's office to release transcripts of his own calls with Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Pence said records of his two phone conversations would help exonerate ... Donald Trump of any wrongdoing. Pence was asked about releasing his transcripts and told reporters, 'I'd have no objection to that.' He spoke after an event in Waukee, Iowa.... Pence said he 'never discussed the issue of the Bidens' with Zelenskiy. And he again defended the president, insisting that a 'plain reading' of the rough transcript of Trump's call with the Ukranian leader shows 'there was no quid pro quo.'" Mrs. McC Translation: "to release transcripts" = "to scrub transcripts."

Evan Perez, et al., of CNN: "Trump has offered scant indication he is turning his focus to governing.... Instead, the President has spent hours tweeting about the impeachment and lighting up the phone lines of his allies on Capitol Hill -- including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.... In a return to the President's panicked behavior during the height of the Mueller investigation, Trump is calling McConnell as often as three times a day, according to a person familiar with the conversations.... Trump has been lashing out at GOP senators he sees as disloyal, according to the person familiar with the conversations, telling McConnell he will amplify attacks on those Republicans who criticize him." ~~~

~~~ Ashley Parker of the Washington Post: "After House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry into President Trump, the Oval Office occupant countered with a creative offer of his own: Impeach me? No, impeach you! And so it was that Trump suggested, in a series of tweets, that perhaps the two California Democrats leading the effort against him -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Adam B. Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee -- should be impeached instead. 'Must all be immediately Impeached!!' wrote Trump, who, in a separate missive, also debuted an '#IMPEACH­­MITT­ROMNEY' hashtag, after Sen. MittRomney (R-Utah) criticized him for calling on both Ukraine and China to investigate a political rival. Left unsaid was the pesky fact for the president that lawmakers cannot, in fact, be impeached. But the schoolyard taunt offered another window into Trump's 'I'm rubber, you're glue' approach to the impeachment inquiry now consuming his administration."

John Hudson & Karoun Demirjian of the Washington Post: "More than four years after a squad of House Republicans led a charge against then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her handling of sensitive diplomatic information, the State Department is once again under scrutiny for how diplomats use personal phones to conduct official business. But some of those same House lawmakers are now on the opposite side of the controversy, playing defense for U.S. diplomats. The most vocal defenders of the Trump administration's actions include some of the most aggressive critics of Clinton's handling of sensitive information, including Rep. Jim Jordan (R) of Ohio, Rep. Mark Meadows (R) of North Carolina and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.... State Department officials are told to use government-issued phones when conducting official business so that those communications are secure and archived for posterity in compliance with the Federal Records Act.... 'The irony is that Pompeo's diplomats are using personal devices when he personally went ballistic on Hillary Clinton for that,' [a State Department] official [said].... Pompeo, who led an aggressive campaign to extract documents and interviews from the State Department as part of a probe into the killing of a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012, also faced charges of hypocrisy last week when he accused House Democrats of trying to 'intimidate, bully and treat improperly' State Department employees through interview requests." ~~~

The notion that you can withhold information and documents from Congress no matter whether you are the party in power or not in power is wrong.... Respect for the rule of law must mean something, irrespective of the vicissitudes of political cycles. -- Rep. Trey Gowdy, at a contempt hearing for Attorney General Eric Holder, 2012 ~~~

~~~ Mike DeBonis & Rachel Bade of the Washington Post: "Several key players in the House impeachment inquiry of President Trump were the strongest proponents of Republicans' iron-fisted oversight of the Obama administration, culminating in a two-year House probe into the deadly 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Now, faced with a politically charged investigation into a president of their own party, they have dropped their formerly stout defense of congressional prerogatives and have joined Trump in endorsing a campaign of massive resistance to the impeachment probe -- a turnabout that has left many Democrats and even some Republicans aghast.... The [Benghazi] panel's chairman, former congressman Trey Gowdy (S.C.), will serve as an outside lawyer for Trump." The reporters also cite Mike Pompeo & Jim Jordan.

Another Corrupt Abuse of Power. Cristina Cabrera of TPM: "In 2017..., Donald Trump reportedly pushed then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to ask the Justice Department to drop its case against one of Rudy Giuliani's clients. According a Bloomberg report on Wednesday, Trump wanted the DOJ to terminate its criminal case against Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-Turkish gold trader who was charged with evading U.S. sanctions against Iran. At the time, Zarrab was represented by former U.S. General Attorney Michael Mukasey and Giuliani, a longtime friend of Trump’s (the President had not yet hired Giuliani to be his personal lawyer). Tillerson reportedly rejected Trump's request, and others in the meeting were 'shocked,' per Bloomberg's description. Unnamed sources told Bloomberg that shortly after the meeting, Tillerson told then-Chief of Staff John Kelly about Trump's request and how carrying it out would be illegal." ~~~

     ~~~ Mrs. McCrabbie: The Bloomberg story is a new revelation. We may find that the effect of the Ukraine scandal is to encourage others to leak even more of Trump's corrupt acts & abuses of his office. Notice, too, that in 2017, the "adults in the room" -- Tillerson & Kelly -- refused to act on Trump's corrupt request. The adults, of course, are gone. There's nothing stopping Trump now. Update: Rachel Maddow said that the crimes for which Zarrab was indicted related to laundering money to allow Iran & Iranians to get around U.S. sanctions. And you thought Trump would do anything to punish Iran. Zarrab subsequently pleaded guilty & cut a deal to cooperate with prosecutors.

Steven Shepard of Politico: "Half of voters support the impeachment and removal of ... Donald Trump, according to a new Politico/Morning Consult poll. The poll, conducted Monday and Tuesday, shows that 50 percent of registered voters surveyed would support the Senate's removing Trump from office, while 43 percent oppose the president's removal. Seven percent of voters were undecided.... The new poll is the latest public survey to show plurality or majority support for House Democrats' impeachment inquiry, which began in earnest last month amid evidence that Trump used his power as president to press foreign governments to investigate his political rivals." Emphasis added. ~~~

~~~ Dana Blanton of Fox "News": "Just over half of voters want President Trump impeached and removed from office, according to a Fox News Poll released Wednesday. A new high of 51 percent wants Trump impeached and removed from office, another 4 percent want him impeached but not removed, and 40 percent oppose impeachment altogether. In July, 42 percent favored impeachment and removal, while 5 percent said impeach but don't remove him, and 45 percent opposed impeachment. Since July, support for impeachment increased among voters of all stripes: up 11 points among Democrats, 5 points among Republicans and 3 among independents. Support also went up among some of Trump's key constituencies, including white evangelical Christians (+5 points), white men without a college degree (+8), and rural whites (+10)." ~~~

~~~ Oliver Darcy of CNN: "... Donald Trump, facing an ever-deepening scandal that threatens to swallow his presidency, appears to have lost a key ally in conservative media: The Drudge Report. The narrative-setting news aggregation website, founded in 1995 by Matt Drudge, has spotlighted an overwhelming amount of negative news for the Trump White House in the last several weeks. It's marked a major shift from how the outlet had previously covered the President." Mrs. McC: To paraphrase a real president, Lyndon Johnson, "If I've lost Drudge, I've lost Middling Wingers."

Adrienne Westenfeld of Esquire: "In All the President's Women: Donald Trump and the Making of a Predator, journalists Barry Levine and Monique El-Faizy draw on over 100 interviews ... to craft a detailed history of Trump's relationships with women.... What emerges from the authors' reporting is a portrait of a predator who hides behind wealth and institutional power to frequently harass and abuse women.... In this exclusive excerpt from All the President's Women, Levine and El-Faizy investigate an alleged wave of unwanted touching that preceded his proposal to Melania Knauss, including a disturbing instance of groping at Mar-a-Lago." (Also linked yesterday.)

Paul Dallison
of Politico: "Boris Johnson asked Donald Trump to 'reconsider the U.S. position' and force the wife of an American diplomat who is a suspect in a fatal road crash to return to Britain. According to Downing Street, Johnson told Trump he wanted the U.S. to reconsider giving immunity to Anne Sacoolas, who left the U.K. despite telling police she had no plans to do so after a crash in which teenager Harry Dunn was killed.... The pair 'agreed to work together to find a way forward as soon as possible.' Trump said it was 'a complex issue ... because we are talking about diplomatic immunity,' according to remarks issued by the White House. 'You have two wonderful parents who lost their son, and the woman was driving on the wrong side of the road. That happens. I will not say it ever happened to me, but it did.' He added: 'We are going to speak to her [Sacoolas] very shortly and see if we can do something.'"

Presidential Race 2020

Allan Smith, et al., of NBC News: "Former Vice President Joe Biden called for ... Donald Trump to be impeached during a blistering campaign speech on Wednesday. 'Donald Trump has violated his oath of office, betrayed this nation and committed impeachable acts,' Biden said in his strongest comments to date on the matter, adding, 'He should be impeached.' The former vice president said Trump 'indicted himself' by asking the Ukrainian president ... to investigate the Biden family and a conspiracy theory regarding the 2016 presidential election, but 'convicted himself' when he publicly called for Ukraine and China to investigate the Bidens last week. The president responded on Twitter almost immediately [Mrs. McC: with lies & slurs not worth repeating]."

Dartunorro Clark of NBC News: "Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday tamped down speculation that he would slow his presidential campaign after he suffered a heart attack last week, saying he plans to compete as vigorously as ever for the 2020 Democratic nomination. The Vermont independent told NBC in an ... interview airing Wednesday night on 'Nightly News' and Thursday on the 'Today' show that his health scare has only strengthened his resolve, despite telling reporters a day earlier he planned to curtail his normally packed schedule. 'I misspoke the other day. I said a word I should not have said and media drives me a little bit nuts to make a big deal about it,' Sanders said during the interview alongside his wife, Jane Sanders. 'We're going to get back into the groove of a very vigorous campaign, I love doing rallies and I love doing town meetings.'"

Christopher Ingraham
of the Washington Post: "A new book-length study on the tax burden of the ultrarich begins with a startling finding: In 2018, for the first time in history, America's richest billionaires paid a lower effective tax rate than the working class. 'The Triumph of Injustice,' by economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman of the University of California at Berkeley, presents a first-of-its kind analysis of Americans' effective tax rates since the 1960s. It finds that in 2018 the average effective tax rate paid by the richest 400 families in the country was 23 percent, a full percentage point lower than the 24.2 percent rate paid by the bottom half of American households. In 1980, by contrast, the 400 richest had an effective tax rate of 47 percent. In 1960, that rate was as high as 56 percent. The effective tax rate paid by the bottom 50 percent, by contrast, has changed little over time." (Also linked yesterday.)

Ed Dickson of Rollng Stone: "Back in 2017, former Today Show anchor Matt Lauer was fired following sexual misconduct allegations from a show staffer. At the time, however, both the identity of his accuser and the nature of the allegations against him were not publicly revealed. Excerpts from the upcoming book Catch and Kill by journalist Ronan Farrow, however, reveals the identity of the staffer and sheds light on the allegations, claiming that Lauer was let go from NBC after she accused him of anally raping her in a hotel room. In excerpts published by Variety on Tuesday, Farrow quotes the employee, whom he identifies as NBC producer Brooke Nevils, at length. Nevils alleges that Lauer anally raped her in his hotel room while he was covering the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia." (Also linked yesterday.) ~~~

~~~ Erik Wemple of the Washington Post, citing Farrow, has more on "the depravity and mismanagement at NBC News." A good chunk of Farrow's book centers on how serial sex abuser Harvey Weinstein got NBC News suits to kill Farrow's explosive story on Weinstein's decades of abuse. Mrs. McC: This is a good reminder that every time you read a news story on a controversial topic, especially if the controversy involves powerful people, there are "depraved elites" standing behind the reporters, making sure those reporters tell the story "the right way." What happened to the pioneering & celebrated broadcast newsman Edward R. Murrow (and others) at CBS way back when has been repeated time & again.

Way Beyond the Beltway

Get Out! Rym Montaz, et al., of Politico: "Either the U.K. changes its tune or the EU won't change the Brexit deadline, a senior French official warned Wednesday. Only a 'political change' in Britain, creating the possibility of a 'different dialogue,' would justify an extension of the October 31 Brexit deadline, France's state secretary for European affairs, Amélie de Montchalin, told a parliamentary hearing on Wednesday.... In Brussels, EU officials and diplomats are bracing for the possibility that French President Emmanuel Macron will take a hardline stance against any further Brexit delay given the continuing political chaos in London -- despite the repeated insistence of other EU leaders that they would never force a no-deal outcome if any chance remained for a deal. It was Macron who, almost single-handedly, pressured his fellow leaders at a summit in April into offering the U.K. only a short-term extension until October 31, while others, including European Council President Donald Tusk, wanted a long delay of a year or more."

News Lede

Guardian: “Polish novelist Olga Tokarczuk and Austrian author Peter Handke have both won the Nobel prize in literature. To a packed room at the Swedish Academy in Stockholm on Thursday, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy Mats Malm announced Tokarczuk as 2018's Nobel literature laureate, and Handke as 2019's winner. Tokarczuk was cited by the committee for 'a narrative imagination that with encyclopedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life', and Handke for 'an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience'.... Last year's prize was postponed because of the 'reduced public confidence' that followed rape accusations made against Jean-Claude Arnault, the French husband of academy member Katarina Frostenson. Frostenson and six other members ended up leaving the Swedish Academy amid bitter rows over how the accusations were handled, and Arnault, who was also accused of leaking the names of laureates, is now in prison for rape."

Reader Comments (13)

It may be because I'm not watching TV, but in the written media, I find it curious that the name of the city that is being bombed by the Turks seems to be missing. From what I can glean, that city in Syria is Qamlishi. It is right on the border with Turkey, about 40 km east of Harran, the birthplace of Abraham. Qamlishi is at the western edge of the kurdish area of Turkey.

October 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria

@Victoria: The NYT story by Gall & Victor, linked above, calls Tel Abyad "one of the spots where the fighting was heaviest." A map embedded in the story also shows Kobani, Ras Al-ain AND Qamishli as sites "where Turkish forces struck Kurdish-held areas"; that is, along much of the Kurdish-held length of the border.

October 10, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

Tel Abyad. Are you sure it's not Normandy?

So the Kurds didn't help us in WWII or at Normandy (which, in case president* big brain doesn't realize, was part of WWII) or at Khe Sanh. Guess who else didn't help us at Khe Sanh. Cadet Bone Spurs.

Plenty of other countries didn't help us during WWII or anywhere else (Saudi Arabia, anyone?), but we don't abandon them. Oh, wait. They give Donald money. Never mind.

It's classic transactional Trump. You want my help? You gotta pay to play. Sure, the Kurds helped us with ISIS, but what have they done for Donald lately?

Here's just one of the many things Fatty doesn't get (and never will) about his job. It's NOT just about what can everyone do for him. And plenty of times the transactional stuff is not money. It's a little thing like world peace, regional stabilization, staving off the murderous tyrants, self-determination. Small things, I know, and things Trump has no appreciation of, but vital to the way the world works. or at least needs to work if we are to save ourselves from a return to permanent war footings. America used to be deeply involved in such things.

No more.

What's in it for Donald? If you have an answer for that question, and can pony up enough loot, maybe you get to live to pay him another day.

October 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

(Not) Medlar's Sports Report

Medlar, if he’s a Dodgers fan, is probably still in shock after his boys coughed up a lung last night, losing a series they had in the bag, so I’ll take over for his sports report today.

In case you hadn’t heard, the NBA is now on the Orange Menace’s hit list (why? Black people would be my first guess. It’s always a good bet for our racist president* to harangue black people to whip up his base of KKK schmoes. But being able to attack someone else always makes bully Donald feel manly, and if it helps distract from his ongoing treason, all the better).

So here’s the skinny. The NBA, like hundreds of other American companies, has invested in China. They build courts there, send big name players over to visit, hand out NBA television rights free of charge to Chinese media outlets (reportedly 600 million fans watch NBA games on a regular basis there; national telecasts in this country will ring up far fewer than 2 million viewers).

The NBA gets 10% of its revenue annually from China. Last year, the NBA banked $8 billion. $800 million buys a lot of goodwill, or whatever you want to call it.

So, okay. There’s this little thing going on in Hong Kong right now. You may have heard. Pro-democracy protesters are being stomped by police. No big deal, right? I mean, the Orange Menace wished President Xi good luck in crushing democracy. But then a little voice in the NBA piped up. The GM for the Houston Rockets, Daryl Morey, tweeted “Fight for freedom. Stand with Hong Kong”. And man, did the fur fly.

The Chinese went bonkers. They started yanking all support for the NBA, put a ban on all Houston games, cut off relationships with all businesses and the NBA. The NBA? They tore into Morey. The Rockets owner and plenty of others proclaimed support for China and not for Morey (or, by extension, Hong Kong). And, to my knowledge, no players have stood up for Hong Kong either.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver sez the NBA is not a political organization. I could probably knock that down philosophically by saying that pretty much any organization with two or more people has some political standing, never mind one that crosses international boundaries and makes a ton of money all over the world, but we’ll let that go. I’m sure Mobil-Exxon believes they aren’t a political organization either. Okay, never mind.

Predictably, right-leaning sports pundits hit the roof. Of course, again to my knowledge, not a one of them has said “boo” about Hong Kong before this, even though many of them have audiences in the millions. But we’ll let that go too. The other day I heard one of them rip the NBA for hypocrisy and then have the gall to quote Donald Trump who, it must be pointed out again, actually DID say something about Hong Kong protesters. He said (basically) “Hey China, kick their asses!”

One pundit pointed out that the NBA removed its all-star game from Charlotte, North Carolina after that state pissed on LGBTQ and transgender rights with their stupid bathroom bill. His point was that the NBA is all about human rights in this country but not in China. And I have to admit, that is a point worth making.

So now the Orange Menace (aka Mr. Human Rights) is gleefully tearing into what is by far a black enterprise (oh, not the owners, I mean the players, who are, after all, the most visible, not to mention that guys like LeBron James have come out against president* racist on numerous occasions).

So what to make of all of this? Is the NBA hypocritical? Human rights concerns in the US but not in China? Sure. But so are the other 400 or so American corporations currently making money in China (and most of those don't give a rat's ass about human rights here, there, or on Saturn). The list is enormous and includes pretty much every big corporation you can think of and plenty of smaller ones (smaller meaning annual revenues of only a billion or so). And I haven’t heard a single one of these CEOs coming out in support of Hong Kong. Not a one. They don't want to piss off the Chinese.

Since opening its doors to foreign investment and businesses, China has become the place where companies go to expand markets that have either stagnated or hit the wall. Your business leveling off? No new market share to be found? Shit, go to China. There’s a fucking billion new customers there. Go crazy.

And yes, the Chinese impose ridiculous rules for entry which include companies handing over trade secrets and proprietary technology, but American corporations eager for an extra $500 or $600 million or maybe a few billion extra, go along.

And what’s the answer?

Well, there’s plenty of hypocrisy to go around here, starting with the White House. But we won’t hear any of that in the wingnut echo chamber. It’s those rich black guys who are the horrible traitors to democracy.

Same as it ever was.

I don’t have the answer either, except to recognize that capitalism has made its peace with tyrannical regimes since before it was a just a fledgling theory. Roman emperors traded with thugs. Popes traded with murderers. Daddy Koch built oil refineries for Stalin. Prescott Bush did business with Hitler. If we are now going to rip the NBA for something similar, then we better be ready to apply the stamp of “Anti-Democratic” to a looooong list of giant corporations around the world.

And the Orange Menace.

Just my opinion.

And if you’re a Dodgers fan, this lifelong Red Sox fan feels for you, man. I really do.

October 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Excerpt from an interview with Pompeo who found Trump's Ukraine call hunky dory or in his words, "Wholly appropriate":

Pompeo:...And we work on it. We work on it diplomatically to achieve good outcomes for the American people. And the results, the results that President Trump has achieved with respect to our relationship with Ukraine, I think, will stand on their own as a hallmark of success of the State Department and what this administration has done.

Judy Woodruff: Well, just finally, you know that there's been no proof any misdoing on the part of Vice President Biden.

Mike Pompeo: You all keep repeating that line, as if you're working for the DNC.

Judy Woodruff:I'm definitely not working for the DNC. I'm an independent journalist.
But they're — the European Union, the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, the International Monetary Fund, and other international organizations felt that that prosecutor was corrupt and thought he should be removed.

There's no evidence that what Vice President Biden was doing was corrupt in some way.

So, my question is, where's the — where's the rationale behind this?

Mike Pompeo:There is no one who has stared at Ukrainian activity over the last years that doesn't understand the risk of corruption from that government, oligarchs behaving in ways that are deeply inconsistent with basic fundamental rules of law, principles, private property.

You — no — no one disputes that. For a nation to seek help from another country, to say, did you mess around in our elections in 2016, was there a corruption that was engaged in, that is completely appropriate activity.

Judy Woodruff:Have you decided, just finally, that there will be cooperation with the House impeachment inquiry?

Mike Pompeo:Oh, goodness, I have made clear, I think the White House has made very clear, we will ensure that we do everything we're required to do by the law and the Constitution, every time.

You betcha Mikey and we can see that happening before our very eyes.

The story above re: Reza Zarrah is quite amazing and the fact that he is represented by Mukasey who I have always found utterly repugnant and devious in his dealings is right up there with our Rudy who has his big paws in almost every juicy pie we are coming across. Such a busy bee, this guy is, flitting here, flitting there and always with that crazy smile as though it's all just a great big game to him. If he ever sits down at a hearing and we get to watch it I will send an SOS to Victoria: "This, my girl, you do not want to miss.

October 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterP.D. Pepe

How about a reporter asking Trump: "You said Kurds weren't "with us" at Normandy? Could you address your entire family's legacy of avoiding military service starting with your grandfather who was expelled from Germany for avoiding military service?"

October 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

The only positive thing I can think of about the trump-pence
dog and pony show is that it's bringing lots of crooks and criminals
out of their hidy-holes and out into the daylight. Who knew the
president* was linked to so many criminals and mafia types?
I thought it was just hookers and stiffing contractors.
I'm running out of popcorn!

October 10, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterforrest morris

The Keystone Kops Administration

Marie wrote: "A real president, of course, would base his rationale for a decision regarding military action on advice from and deliberations with appropriate Pentagon, State Department, Security Council & intelligence agency experts."


But not this president. Experts are banned. Knowledge is verboten. Ethics are right out. He's perfectly happy to rely on sycophants, know-nothings, liars, mountebanks, and nasty little creeps for advice on little things like international incidents leading to war.

To paraphrase Churchill, this administration, and its congressional lapdogs, is a collection of idiots, wrapped in ignorance, inside a con game.

And to prove my point, I have evidence of the way these dangerous, incompetent loons operate.

Here, for instance, is Bill Barr and Lindsey Graham going after Bob Mueller. Good job, boys.

And here we see House Republicans hot on the trail of a lead about Joe Biden and corruption and stuff.

This clip was taken as Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz, Mark Meadows and other Trump jumping beans got a call from the White House about the location of Hillary's server. Go get it, men!

Finally, here's the Trump Car on its way to another Drumpf Bund rally where they can all relax with white supremacists and other MAGA brain surgeons. That's Giuliani at the wheel. Step on it, Rudy!

You tax dollars at work, my friends.

October 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Re: That shit eating grin on the Orange Menace's face in that picture (above).

Why does he always look like he's just finished burying a body he's sure no one will ever find?

Forgetting all the other bodies that have been dug up.

October 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

I see where in Bloomberg Trump says he will cooperate "if the rules are fair". Obviously, that means he gets to write the rules, which will be akin to "Calvinball".

October 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBobby Lee

Bobby Lee,

“Fair” is Trumpspeak for “I win no matter what”.

October 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@Akhilleus: Thanks for the discourse on the NBA thing, which I've avoided like a blind date with Trump. But now that Trump is getting into it because black people, I might have to start paying attention.

October 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

A question about Fatty's face: Has anyone actually questioned him as why he looks like a sunburned orange? If we had a woman at the helm whose face resembled said orange there would be constant nitpicking and "Oh horrors!" I don't get it––-has no one told him he looks ridiculous?

October 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterP.D. Pepe
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