Monday, October 14, 2019

Last Call For Buckeye Blowout, Con't

The polling continues to show Donald Trump losing several key states to generic Democrats and in direct head-to-head matchups, and nowhere is that making Team Orange more nervous than across the river in Ohio.

A new poll from Public Policy Polling and Innovation Ohio shows that Ohio is set to return to its traditional status as a battleground state in 2020.

A memo on the results and the cross tabs can be found on Innovation Ohio’s website.

After winning the state by 8 points in 2016, the PPP survey finds President Trump trailing a generic Democratic 47-48% and an underwater 47-51% favorable/unfavorable rating. Given that state’s swing from 2012 to 2016, it is especially notable that President Trump trails a generic Democrat 37-51% with independent voters.

“As Democrats gather to debate in Ohio, these results show that Ohio will once again be a battleground in 2020, and any Democrat would be foolish to write off our state,” said Innovation Ohio President Janetta King. “Given his unpopularity with Ohio voters, it is clear that President Trump’s failures and broken promises are catching up with him in the state.”

“Ohio is a must-win state for President Trump. His poor numbers in this poll help to explain his early spending on TV and digital ads here,” King continued.

The poll also tested President Trump against five Democratic candidates; he failed to top 47% against any of them. This survey comes on the heels of similar results from Emerson Polling.

It gets somewhat worse for Trump in Ohio too.

Trump trails a generic Democrat 48-47 for reelection in the state. Particularly troubling for him is a 51-37 deficit with independent voters. Suburban areas have tended to be a swing vote in Ohio elections but- matching the national trends- they now lean toward voting Democratic by a 53-40 margin over Trump next year. Trump doesn’t get more than 47% against any named Democratic opponent – he trails Joe Biden 48-46, and he’s tied with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren at 47% each. Trump only has leads against two of the lesser-known Democratic candidates: he leads both Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg 47-43 with 10% of voters undecided in those particular matchups.
Ohio’s return to swing state status is a function of Trump’s unpopularity in the state. Only 47% of voters have a favorable opinion of him, to 51% with a negative one. The ratio is even worse for Trump when it comes to voters who have strong feelings about him- just 38% say they have a ‘very favorable’ opinion of him, to 45% who have a ‘very unfavorable’ opinion of him.
It makes sense that Ohio is closely divided when it comes to next year’s election. Right now FiveThirtyEight’s national poll tracker finds Trump to have a 42/54 approval split. That -12 net standing represents a 10 point net drop for him compared to election day 2016 when he lost the popular vote by 2 points. Given Trump’s 8 point victory in Ohio last time, a similar 10 point drop in Ohio to what he’s seen nationally would put him slightly underwater with voters in the state as our new poll finds.
Ohioans narrowly support an impeachment inquiry into Trump, 49/47. These numbers are meaningful not just for Ohio but for the country as a whole, because it shows that even in states that voted pretty strongly for him last time there is still significant support for moving forward with the impeachment process, suggesting there’s not a lot of political liability for Democrats in doing so. There is majority support for impeachment with both pivotal independent voters (54/41) and suburban voters (57/40).

That overwhelming hole Trump's in among suburban voters spells bad, bad news for Ohio Republicans.  I don't expect the Dems to get their act together to the point of winning the state legislature back, but it would be nice if they could at least stop the GOP from having a supermajority in the State House and Senate.

The real story though is age.  Voters under 45 favor the Democrat by large margins, but over 45 favor Trump by ten.  If voters under 45 turn out, my generation and younger, the Dems win Ohio and almost certainly the White House.  If the voter turnout model is 2018, then yes, Trump's going to lose the Buckeye State.

But if it's 2016 or god forbid, 2014, he's going to win here, barely (if 2016) and by 8-10 points again (if 2014).  We'll see who shows up after another 12 months of brutal disinformation on social media, possibly a war or two, maybe a recession, and an impeachment.

It's All About Revenge Now, Con't

The wheels have truly come off the Trump regime, with a brutal viral video showing Donald Trump gunning down all his declared "enemies" like Black Lives Matter and the press, shown to wild applause at a Trump 2020 conference last week at one of Trump's own resorts.

A video depicting a macabre scene of a fake President Trump shooting, stabbing and brutally assaulting members of the news media and his political opponents was shown at a conference for his supporters at his Miami resort last week, according to footage obtained by The New York Times. 
Several of Mr. Trump’s top surrogates — including his son Donald Trump Jr., his former spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis — were scheduled to speak at the three-day conference, which was held by a pro-Trump group, American Priority, at Trump National Doral Miami. Ms. Sanders and a person close Mr. Trump’s son said on Sunday that they did not see the video at the conference. 
The video, which includes the logo for Mr. Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, comprises a series of internet memes. The most violent clip shows Mr. Trump’s head superimposed on the body of a man opening fire inside the “Church of Fake News” on parishioners who have the faces of his critics or the logos of media organizations superimposed on their bodies. It appears to be an edited scene of a church massacre from the 2014 dark comedy film “Kingsman: The Secret Service.” 
The disclosure that the video was played shows how Mr. Trump’s anti-media language has influenced his supporters and bled into their own propaganda. Mr. Trump has made attacks on the news media a mainstay of his presidency, and he tweeted a similar — but far less violent video — in 2017. In recent weeks as he has confronted impeachment proceedings, he has ramped up his attacks on the news media, repeatedly calling it the “enemy of the people.”

A person who attended the conference last week took a video of the clip on his phone and had an intermediary send it to a reporter for The Times. Parts of the video were posted on YouTube in 2018 by a user with a history of creating pro-Trump mash-ups.
The organizer of the event said in a statement on Sunday that the clip had been played at the conference, saying it was part of a “meme exhibit.” He denounced the video and said his organization was looking into how it was shown at the event.

“Content was submitted by third parties and was not associated with or endorsed by the conference in any official capacity,” said the organizer, Alex Phillips. “American Priority rejects all political violence and aims to promote a healthy dialogue about the preservation of free speech. This matter is under review.” 
Organizers declined to say exactly where at Mr. Trump’s resort the video was shown.
A person close to Mr. Trump’s son said he was unaware that the video had been played at the conference. Ms. Sanders said she was unaware of the video’s existence until a Times reporter contacted her. 
“I was there to speak at a prayer breakfast, where I spoke about unity and bringing the country together,” Ms. Sanders said. “I wasn’t aware of any video, nor do I support violence of any kind against anyone.”

Sure, plausible deniability.  I haven't seen it and We don't condone violence, Trump said today, we don't know how the video was played at AMPFest, but it was, and Trump's bloody base had a good laugh.  And yes, the video was the product of trolls on the site of one of Trump's many neo-Nazi followers, Carpe Donktum, aka Logan Reed, one of the many professional firestarters who attended the White House's digital propaganda conference earlier this year.

Everything's fine of course, right up until people get killed, or should I say more people get killed.  People have already died thanks to Trump's stochastic "who will rid me of these troublesome enemies" terrorism, then he denies everything when blood is spilled and lives are taken.  Trump has revved these nutjobs up and unleashed them upon America. As Steve M. says, the GOP fringe is the GOP mainstream.  There's no difference.
In the modern Republican Party, this is regarded as perfectly normal. In the modern Republican Party, the fringe is the mainstream.
No doubt when the next lunatic snaps and murders those around him in the name of Trump's "America" after gorging themselves on the products of Trump's hatefest, he'll deny it again.

And if you think congressional GOP folks are going to do anything, well, they're all nihilists now.

The truth is, Trump fatigue is a condition that knows no party, and many Republicans are as tired of this shit as anybody else. That’s not to say they’re outraged, or motivated to Make a Difference. They’re just tired. You can live inside the right-wing bubble in a state of depression, resigned to the fact that, yeah, every five minutes or so, the president is probably going to do something norm-shattering or potentially impeachable, and no, you probably won’t or can’t do anything to change that. Sad!

“I’m totally bored by the story,” one person who speaks regularly with the president told me. “There’s nothing to it. I already know all the details.” This person is bored more generally, too — with the topic of Donald Trump. When we talk about what it would take for the president’s defenders to turn on him, this crucial piece is missing: You can’t feel outraged if you can no longer feel anything at all.

“This isn’t that much different than the other crazy shit he’s done in the last three years,” the senior Republican Senate aide said. “In some ways, people are both pissed off about it but then it’s also like, Are we gonna go crazy over this incident when we’ve seen so much other stuff?" Not to minimize the seriousness here, but what came out in the call transcript is not exactly shocking. If I were to describe Republicans one way, it would be weary.

Just one more thing on the Gish Gallop of ghoulish glee.  Until the next time it happens.  And the next.  And the next...

A Syria's Case Of Withdrawal

Donald Trump has ordered all US troops out of northern Syria as the massacre of (formerly) US-allied Syrian Kurds at the hands of Turkey and Russia now continues unabated.

U.S. troops were preparing to withdraw from northern Syria Sunday as Turkish forces continued their advance.

Hundreds of Islamic State group supporters escaped from a displacement camp in the area and there were reports of alleged atrocities amid growing international alarm.

The situation on the ground was deteriorating rapidly, a U.S. official with direct knowledge told NBC News.

U.S. forces were at risk of being isolated and there was increased risk of confrontation between Turkish forces and U.S. troops, said the official, who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

President Donald Trump made the decision to withdraw Saturday night, the official said.

About 1,000 troops will leave the area "as safely and quickly as possible," Defense Secretary Mark Esper told CBS' "Face the Nation" in an interview Sunday.

They will not leave the country entirely, he said.

Esper said that the conflict between Turkish forces and U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters had become "untenable" for the U.S. military.

Trump has largely stood by his decision to pull U.S. troops back to clear the way for Turkish forces, despite growing chaos in the wake of their advance.

U.S. allies have urged an end to the Turkish invasion, which has sparked fears of a renewed humanitarian crisis in the region and a resurgent ISIS threat.

Meanwhile the ethnic cleansing of Syrian Kurds, long a priority of the Erdogan regime, is happening in real time.

Hundreds of foreigners affiliated with the Islamic State group (IS) have escaped from a camp in northern Syria amid a Turkish offensive, Kurdish officials say.

They say detainees attacked gates at the Ain Issa displacement camp as fighting raged nearby.

Turkey launched an assault last week aimed at driving Kurdish-led forces from the region.

The UN says 130,000 people have fled their homes, and the figure may rise.

Turkey accuses the Kurds of being terrorists and says it wants to force them away from a "safe zone" reaching some 30km into Syria.

It also plans to resettle more than three million Syrian refugees currently in Turkey - many of whom are not Kurds - inside the zone, which critics say could lead to ethnic cleansing of the local Kurdish population there.

It is genocide.  We're literally standing aside and allowing it to happen.  And it's all because everyone in Trump town thought Erdogan was bluffing, and that Trump would hold him back.  Probably at Putin's orders, as Russia is happily bombing Syrian hospitals while we're headed for the hills. Meanwhile, our troops are retreating to other bases in Syria, but they could be completely pulled out of country in days and as far as the Kurds go, well, Russia is offering a safe haven.  Just like Putin planned it.

It's a disaster of epic proportions.  No country will trust the US again in my lifetime.

Well, except our new Russian bosses.  They'll trust that they have us under their command at all times.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Last Call For Down Loosey Anna Way

Louisiana Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards is headed to a runoff after failing to capture 50% in yesterday's statewide election, against the state's version of Trump. businessman Eddie Rispone.

Edwards was unable to pass the 50 percent threshold; he received 47 percent of the votes cast, according to the AP, with 99 percent of precincts reporting. Rispone, meanwhile, held off a fellow Republican, Rep. Ralph Abraham, 27 percent to 24 percent, to capture second place and earn a head-to-head shot against Edwards on Nov. 16.

The outcome of the primary sets up a potentially very competitive general election. While pre-primary polls showed Edwards with significant leads over both Republicans in possible runoffs, GOP candidates combined for more than half the vote on Saturday.

"Over half of Louisiana voters went to the polls today and cast a ballot for someone other than John Bel Edwards," noted Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, who added that Rispone "will unite Republicans and all Louisianans who want to build a better future for their state."

Edwards, a conservative, anti-abortion Democrat who’s avoided close associations with the national Democratic party, framed his campaign as for “people over politics,” a phrase the Edwards campaign painted on the side of his campaign RV. The state Democratic Party, meanwhile, sent some voters a robocall recorded by former President Barack Obama. The minute-long robocall featured Obama praising Edwards for expanding Medicaid in the state.

But national and state Republicans made a heavy push in the closing week of the race to hold Edwards below 50 percent. President Donald Trump held an election-eve campaign rally in Lake Charles on Friday night, standing alongside both Rispone and Abraham as he urged Louisianans to vote for one of the GOP candidates and deny Edwards the outright victory. The two Republicans also appeared at similar events over the past week with Vice President Mike Pence and Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son.

Trump celebrated the results Saturday night — and took credit for preventing Edwards from winning a second term. Edwards, Trump said on Twitter, "has done a poor job" as governor, and he called Rispone "a great Republican" in all caps. He also claimed, without evidence, that "after I explained what a bad job [Edwards] was doing," the Democrat's poll numbers dropped from 66 percent to the 47 percent he received on Saturday. Edwards' highest vote share in pre-primary public polling was 52 percent, according to RealClearPolitics, a website that compiles public polls.

The reality is that Louisiana's jungle primary system, much like California's, makes for some interesting matchups and a lot of runoffs.  Trump can scream all he wants to, he certainly did in yet another bizarre, rambling, racist rally on Friday where he threatened to sue Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff for trying to impeach him.

Still, the outcome was expected.  Bel Edwards won with 52% of the vote four years ago in a runoff, and he's widely expected to have another close election again.

Ukraine In The Membrane, Con't

Thursday's scheduled deposition by EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland is going to be a doozy, because it's clear he doesn't want to spend a couple decades in prison for this Ukraine cover-up despite giving Trump a cool million or so for the post.

The U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, intends to tell Congress this week that the content of a text message he wrote denying a quid pro quo with Ukraine was relayed to him directly by President Trump in a phone call
, according to a person familiar with his testimony.

Sondland plans to tell lawmakers he has no knowledge of whether the president was telling him the truth at that moment. “It’s only true that the president said it, not that it was the truth,” said the person familiar with Sondland’s planned testimony, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomatic matters.

The Sept. 9 exchange between Sondland and the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine has become central to the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into whether the president abused his office in pressuring Ukraine to open an investigation into his political rival Joe Biden and his son, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. The White House and its defenders have held up Sondland’s text, which included “no quid pro quo’s of any kind,” as proof that none was ever considered.

Sondland will hold out the possibility that Trump wasn’t truthful in his denial of a quid pro quo as well as an alternative scenario in which the president’s interest in the scheme soured at a time when his administration faced mounting scrutiny over why it was withholding about $400 million in security assistance to Ukraine and delaying a leader-level visit with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“Whether he’s deciding it’s getting too hot to handle and he backs off whatever his position really was a month earlier, I don’t know,” the person said of Sondland’s understanding.

Hours before Sondland called the president, he received a text message from the acting ambassador to Ukraine, William B. Taylor, raising questions about the aid holdup. “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” Taylor texted Sondland.
That’s when Sondland, according to the person’s understanding, called Trump, who then told him he didn’t “want a quid pro quo . . . didn’t want anything from Ukraine.” The call lasted less than five minutes, and Trump appeared to be in a foul mood, according to the person, who spoke to The Post with Sondland’s permission, an intermediary said.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment. Sondland declined to comment through his lawyers.

Sondland, who has emerged as a central actor in Trump’s efforts to persuade Ukraine to open investigations, will be deposed before House investigators on Thursday.

First US special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, then former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich, now EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland, all three ignoring State Department orders to stay silent, all three throwing Trump under the nearest public transportation vehicle.   Expect to see more and more people bail on Trump in order to save themselves.

Trump's defenders are now out of defenses.

Sunday Long Read: The Man Who Never Left The Consulate

It's been a year now since the brutal murder of Washington Post contributor and Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi, hacked to pieces by a bonesaw in the depths of the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, lured by the promise of finally being able to make the marriage to the woman he loved official.  Evan Ratliff at Insider reconstructs Khashoggi's final days and why he was literally butchered by a ruthless Saudi prince and abandoned by the worst leader in US history.

It was easy to forget, later, that he was a man in love.

That was the Jamal Khashoggi who arrived on a flight into Istanbul, early on the morning of October 2, 2018. He was a few days short of 60 and divorced, a voluntary exile from his native Saudi Arabia living a lonely existence in Virginia. His tall frame carried an unsubtle paunch, and his hair had thinned out to the sides. The graying of his beard was nearly complete, covering an owlish face with eyes that could simultaneously betray easy mirth and deep sadness.

An internationally acclaimed journalist writing for The Washington Post, he was considered brilliant by his peers. But he spent most of his days struggling under the burden of what he'd left behind, writing in hopes of breaking the world's indifference to the creeping repression in his home country. He'd grown dismayed to see its architect, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman — known in the West as MBS — fĂȘted by Washington and Silicon Valley as a dynamic reformer, while his friends and colleagues back home languished in prison for speaking out. His mission, he had come to believe, was to speak for them.

But on that fall morning in Istanbul, Khashoggi stepped off the plane with an entirely different purpose. Five months earlier, at the opening of a conference on Middle Eastern politics, he'd been approached by a 35-year-old researcher named Hatice Cengiz. She knew his work and wanted to interview him for an article she was writing. At the next coffee break, he sought her out. They spoke for nearly half an hour. She asked him about the prospects for reform in Saudi Arabia; he peppered her with questions about Turkish politics. By the end, their exchange had already begun to feel like something deeper. Before his next trip to Istanbul, he emailed to ask if she'd see him again.

The rest happened quickly, at the speed of two people who already knew themselves. By September he had met her parents. Wedding plans were in motion. The pair bought an apartment in Istanbul, the eastern anchor of what would become a dual life there and in the US.

On September 28 they visited Istanbul's civil-marriage bureau to begin the secular portion of the nuptials. Just one small problem, they were told: Because Khashoggi remained a Saudi citizen, they'd need a certificate from the Saudi government stating that he was unmarried. That would require a trip to the Saudi Consulate.

On an impulse, the couple went straight there that day. Outside the gate, Khashoggi left his two phones with Cengiz, knowing consular officials would ask for them at the door and fearing they would take the opportunity to hack them. He was wary. But once inside, the staff greeted him warmly. The document he needed couldn't be produced instantly, but if he came back on October 2 they would have it ready for him, they said. That afternoon, he left for the airport and caught a 2:40 p.m. flight to London to attend a conference.

The night before his return, Cengiz couldn't sleep, her head a scramble of nerves and excitement. Finally she drifted off, and was awoken by a call from her fiancé: His flight had arrived early. Khashoggi caught a cab to the as-yet-uninhabited apartment they'd purchased, in a gated community in Istanbul's Topkapi neighborhood. A security camera in the entryway caught them lightly embracing as they walked inside, just before 5 a.m.

Khashoggi called the consulate. An official told him to arrive at 1 p.m. to collect his paperwork.

At about a quarter to one, they set out. CCTV cameras captured the couple's unhurried stroll as they walked, hand in hand. Khashoggi wore an open-collared shirt and a blazer, Cengiz a headscarf and a long black dress.

At the security blockade typically positioned at the consulate's south-facing side, Khashoggi once again handed her both his phones. Using a handheld metal detector, a security officer conducted a quick scan of Khashoggi's person. Then the journalist passed between the metal barriers and walked briskly up to the main entrance. A doorman in a powder-blue blazer greeted him with a slight bow, and he was gone.

The rest, as they say, is now just another bloody chapter in the ugly history of the House of Saud, a blot on this Earth and one of the most repressive and murderous regimes on the planet.

Right next to the repressive and murderous regime here in the States, of course.  These days we're sending thousands of troops to Saudi soil as mercenaries because Donald Trump expects MBS to pay up front.

Never forget Khashoggi's story, however.

Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

Four seconds.

That's how long Atatiana Jefferson lived after a Fort Worth PD officer entered Jefferson's property, saw her through a window, and shot her after a neighbor called police to check on her because Jefferson had left the door open.

Atatiana Koquice Jefferson, 28, was killed in a bedroom at the home at around 2:30 a.m., according to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner.

In a statement, the Fort Worth Police Department said that officers from its central division responded to a call at 2:25 a.m. and searched the perimeter of the house on the 1200 block of East Allen Avenue.

One officer, after seeing someone through the window of the home, drew his weapon and fired one shot, killing the woman.

“The individual, a black female, who resides at the residence succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced deceased on the scene,” read the Fort Worth PD’s statement. “The officer, a white male who has been with the department since April of 2018, has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome [of] the critical police incident investigation.”

An officer handling public relations for the department did not immediately return a request for comment from BuzzFeed News.

In its statement, Fort Worth police said that after the shooting, officers entered the residence to find the resident and a firearm, and began administering emergency care. Texas is an open carry state.

Fort Worth PD released body camera footage from the incident taken from the angle of the officer who fired the shot. In it, the officer can be seen taking notice of an open door at the residence — which had its lights on — and then walking around the home’s perimeter with a colleague. He then opens a gate, and walks to a darker part of the yard while holding a flashlight.

Within seconds of walking though the gate, the officer peers through a window, where he presumably sees a person. He quickly raises his flashlight in one hand, gun in another. “Put your hands up, show me your hands,” he shouts before firing a shot — all in less than four seconds.

The body cam footage released by police also includes photos of a gun found inside the house. It's unclear if Jefferson was near the weapon when she was shot by the officer.

And here we're supposed to feel bad for the officer, who now has to live the rest of his life with the fact he murdered a black woman in cold blood.  We'll be told that the officer thought his life was at risk and that he had to kill Jefferson, because if you are black in America, you only draw breath because a police officer hasn't decided you are a threat yet.

Best part is Jefferson owned a firearm in her own home in an open carry state, but we all know open carry only applies to white people in Texas.  Anyone else gets butchered. Second Amendment rights only apply to those who looked like the founders of this "great" country, after all.

I'm so tired of this.  They kill us in our own homes now and get away with it 99% of the time. And if we try to defend ourselves, if we pretend even for a moment that we have the same rights as white people in this country, we pay for that fallacy with our lives.

I'm tired

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Last Call For Trump Trades Blow, Con't

Singapore has knocked the United States out of the top spot in the World Economic Forum's annual competitiveness report
The index, published on Wednesday, takes stock of an economy's competitive landscape, measuring factors such as macroeconomic stability, infrastructure, the labor market and innovation capability. 
Singapore pushed the world's largest economy down to second place this year, with the Asian city state scoring top marks for its infrastructure, health, labor market and financial system. 
And while the United States lost out to Singapore overall, "it remains an innovation powerhouse," the report said. 
Singapore and Vietnam put up strong performances this year partly thanks to the US-China trade war. 
The report noted that the two Asian economies "appear to be benefiting from global trade tensions through trade diversion." Vietnam jumped 10 spots from last year to rank 67th out of 137 countries. 
US imports from Vietnam rose by 36% in the first five months of this year, as companies have been shifting manufacturing from China to Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries to avoid steep tariffs. 
The trade war hasn't been a clean win for Singapore, which is heavily reliant on exports and counts China as its biggest trading partner. 
Singapore slashed its forecast for GDP growth in August, after reporting a big drop in economic activity in the second quarter of this year. It's heading for its weakest annual growth since the 2009 global financial crisis. 

So despite Singapore's economy clearly suffering, it's still more competitive than the US because the US suffered more under Trump.

It's a job only the most overrated businessman in America could accomplish.

Never Trump, For Your Narrow Definition Of Never

Tom Nichols wants Trump to lose, but maybe Trump's not such a bad guy after all if Dems don't shut up about those awful gays, or something.

Dear Democrats:

We’ve been together for a while now. It’s platonic, and probably always will be, as we share a home together as friends ever since I left the Republicans. But I appreciate our new relationship, and that’s why I’m comfortable telling you here that I’m worried about you.

We don’t agree about everything; still, we get along pretty well, you and I, centered around the daily understanding that Donald Trump is a dire threat to the United States. That’s why I’ve been comfortable in my public commitment to vote for the Democratic presidential nominee, come hell or high water. You’ve mostly responded to this by…

Well, that’s the thing, isn’t it? I feel like you’re not doing your part here.

We take our walks together and we discuss the importance of getting rid of Donald Trump. And yet, when we both leave for work in the morning, it feels like only one of us is really, truly serious about that.

When we watched the LGBTQ town hall on CNN recently, we had very different reactions. This is the event, you remember, where Beto O’Rourke said he’d punish religious institutions for refusing gay marriage, and where Kamala Harris started by informing us of her pronouns, and then Chris Cuomo, after a mild and dopey joke, had to go on Twitter the next day and apologize for making light of it. This is where Elizabeth Warren fielded a question about traditional marriage by with a sneering, smug insinuation that the only people who would ask her about that are men who can’t find a woman.

You thought it was great. You saw a ringing defense of LGBTQ rights and a reaffirmation of what Democrats stand for.

I saw it and thought: Are these people insane? Are they trying to lose the election?

So Nichols has gone from Republican to "independent" with a healthy appetite for scolding the Democrats for not being Republican enough.  Better drop them gays, Dems, or Jake and Linda out in Middle America will vote for Trump just to punish you!

Well if that's the case?

Jake and Linda can go take a long walk off a short elitist coastal city pier.  If you're seriously arguing that reminding voters that Democrats aren't the party trying to relegate LGBTQ+ Americans into permanent second-class status, and you're going to be a bigot and vote for Trump, that's not the Democrats' problem.

"Don't hand issues to culture warriors" warns Nichols, as if Republicans haven't come across the idea of attacking Democrats for supporting or being LGBTQ+ folks, or they've magically forgotten somehow.

Nichols states his case plainly.

We pledged over two years ago to join hands on this one issue. But now I worry that in your zeal to win the Woke Twitter and college campus primary, you will simply make the same mistakes you made in 2016. Your nominee will crush it in the bi-coastal race to be the Honorary Governor of the New Californiork Republic. Blue cities everywhere will welcome you as liberators. And Trump will laugh at you every day from Washington.

This election could be a landslide if the public focuses on Trump’s abuses of power, his offenses against the Constitution, his insane foreign policy, his barely contained megalomania and narcissism. I support your efforts to impeach him, but that’s likely to fail, and it is well within your — our — power to remove him at the ballot box when that happens.

But if you can’t get to 270 electoral votes, you’re going to have to live with me as the grumpiest roommate you ever had. You can count on four years of me letting the tub get grimy, leaving my dishes in the sink, and not speaking to you.

Because if Trump wins again, it’s going to be your fault

Go screw yourself, Tom.  If Trump wins again, it's the fault of the people who voted for him.

Outfoxed And Out At FOX

FOX News State TV anchor Shep Smith got tired of being the last news guy at the propaganda network, so Friday was his last show. CNN Media correspondent Brian Stetler lays out the tale:

Last month Shep Smith decided that he had simply had enough. 
With President Trump actively distorting the truth and many of his own colleagues helping him do it, the Fox News star prided himself on anchoring a newscast that countered the network's pro-Trump opinion shows. 
The way Smith saw it, he was making sure that accurate information was getting on Fox's air. 
"I wonder," he told a Time magazine reporter last year, "if I stopped delivering the facts, what would go in its place in this place that is most watched, most listened, most viewed, most trusted? I don't know." 
But he reached a breaking point. Sometime in September, according to a well-placed source, he went to Fox News management and asked to be let out of his long-term contract. Tensions with the opinion shows were getting to be too much. 
In late September, 8 p.m. host Tucker Carlson mocked Smith for standing up for his friend and colleague Judge Andrew Napolitano after the judge was called a "fool" by one of Carlson's guests. The network's lack of a vocal defense for Smith following the incident bothered him and the whole episode factored into his decision to leave, according to a person familiar with the matter. 
But that episode was just one of many skirmishes that weighed heavily on Smith. 
Executives at the network leaned on him to stay, but to no avail. On Friday afternoon he announced his departure on the air, then exited the building immediately, clearly emotional about saying goodbye to his television home of twenty years. 
Smith was a Fox News original. He didn't change over the years -- the network changed around him. 
For months I have been working on a book about Fox News in the Trump age. Staffers have been confiding in me about the challenges of covering the news inside a network that is increasingly defined by sychophantic pro-Trump personalities like Sean Hannity.
Staffers on the news side unanimously point to Smith as a role model. 
But "it was clear he wasn't happy, on air and off air," one of the staffers said after Friday's stunning resignation announcement. 
Two other staffers also said he'd indicated he "wanted to leave" -- meaning that he was not forced out by management, as some outsiders immediately speculated on social media. 
"I think it probably just got to be too much," one of Smith's allies inside Fox News headquarters said.

I don't really have much sympathy for anyone who chose to spend 20 years at the GOP's propaganda arm and suddenly realized they were never taken seriously by their own employer as a news anchor.  At best, Shep Smith was a beard, a mask to give FOX's right-wing noise machine credibility.

But that credibility, the last shred, I guess, is gone along with him.  There's zero doubt now that FOX News exists to further the GOP fascist stranglehold on this country and its people.

As with all the Never Trump converts, all I have is scorn for them.  You knew the damage you were doing, and you'd keep doing it as long as anyone other than Donald Trump was the face of the party.

Deportation Nation, Con't

The one thing that Trump's impeachment implosion has really put the kibosh on in the last month is the regime's plans for mass deportations of thousands, maybe millions.  The Trump regime suffered another legal blow in the courts on Friday over his plan to declare refugees and poor immigrants as "public charges" in order to justify refusing them public services and eventually ejecting them from the country.

Federal judges in New York and California on Friday ordered a nationwide block in cases challenging a Trump administration policy that would make it far easier for the government to deny legal status to immigrants who use or are deemed likely to use public assistance. The rule was set to go into effect next week.

Judge George B. Daniels, of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, ordered preliminary injunctions Friday afternoon in two related cases against the administration’s new “public charge” rule that could have denied legal permanent residency and other forms of legal status to many immigrants in the country who are deemed likely to use public assistance.

Daniels wrote in the decision explaining the order in a case announced by the New York attorney general's office in August that he found good cause to grant the motion because the plaintiffs in the case had sufficiently demonstrated their legal claims and that plaintiffs would suffer irreparable harm if the rule went into effect.

"Overnight, the Rule will expose individuals to economic insecurity, health instability, denial of their path to citizenship, and potential deportation," he wrote.

"It is a rule that will punish individuals for their receipt of benefits provided by our government, and discourages them from lawfully receiving available assistance intended to aid them in becoming contributing members of our society," he wrote.

"This rule would have had devastating impacts on New Yorkers and our nation, and today’s decision is a critical step in our efforts to uphold the rule of law," New York Attorney General Letitia James said on Twitter.

That rule blockage has now led directly to another result: the sudden departure of one-time ICE boss and acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan.

Kevin McAleenan, the acting secretary of homeland security since April and the fourth person to serve in that post since the Trump presidency began, submitted his resignation to the White House on Friday, President Donald Trump announced Friday. 
"Kevin McAleenan has done an outstanding job as Acting Secretary of Homeland Security. We have worked well together with Border Crossings being way down. Kevin now, after many years in Government, wants to spend more time with his family and go to the private sector," Trump said. "Congratulations Kevin, on a job well done! I will be announcing the new Acting Secretary next week. Many wonderful candidates!" 
A source familiar with McAleenan's thinking tells CNN that the acting secretary felt he had accomplished all he could given the political realities of today -- specifically the unlikelihood that any legislative deal on immigration will happen in an election year. 
Moreover, with the numbers of undocumented immigrants apprehended or turned away at the border coming down for the fourth consecutive month -- 52,546 in September, a 65% drop from May -- the lack of crisis is dissuading members of Congress to act and compromise. McAleenan also has two young daughters and a wife with whom he wants to spend more time. 
The announcement has been planned for weeks, sources close to McAleenan say, and has nothing to do with the Ukraine scandal in which Trump and several other Cabinet officials are currently enmeshed. 
A source close to the process told CNN that White House officials tried to talk McAleenan out of resigning. 
In a statement posted to Twitter, McAleenan thanked Trump for the opportunity to serve and department employees for their work. He said he would strive to ensure a smooth transition.

I believe that McAleenan's departure "was in the works for weeks".  I even believe he didn't have "anything to do" with the Ukraine scandal.  What I don't believe is that he left because he "felt he accomplished all he could."

The Trumpies were on a roll on the deportation train, and the federal injunction will probably be decided in Trump's favor like the Muslim ban was should it get all the way to SCOTUS.  But McAleenan didn't want anything to do with it...because he clearly doesn't think the Trump regime is going to be around much longer.

No, he bailed on a sinking ship, and everyone knows it.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Last Call For Meanwhile In Bevinstan, Con't

Kentucky GOP Gov. Matt Bevin's reelection campaign is in serious trouble and he knows it.  With just over three weeks to go until Election Day here, Bevin appealed to anti-choice voters in Kentucky along with GOP AG candidate Daniel Cameron and GOP Treasurer Alison Bell at a Susan B. Anthony list endorsement event at the Governor's Mansion, all but promising if he's reelected, Kentucky will go down as the first state to end legal abortion.

Joined by dozens of anti-abortion activists and Kentucky pastors Friday at the Governor's Mansion, Republican incumbent Matt Bevin pummeled Democratic challenger Andy Beshear on supporting a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy. 
"If we cannot stand for life, what is the role of government but to protect the weak against the strong, the voiceless against those with a powerful voice," Bevin said. 
The Bevin campaign event also featured Treasurer Allison Ball and attorney general candidate Daniel Cameron, who, like Bevin, have been endorsed by the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group. 
Marjorie Dannenfelser, the group's president, introduced each candidate and said the Bluegrass State's fall election is a bellwether for other states. She said her members, who were clad in blue T-shirts proclaiming, "I vote pro-life," think this is the most important election since 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court allowed abortion. 
"The contrast between Gov. Bevin and his opponent, Andy Beshear, is honestly a gift in politics," she said. "It's also a sign of a tragedy in Kentucky. The only way Andy Beshear can win is if people don't know what his position is."

Bevin however has a much bigger problem, and that is Donald Trump's impeachment.

The White House is planning an 11th-hour push to stave off an embarrassing defeat for the Republican governor of Kentucky, with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence expected to make separate trips to the state in the runup to the Nov. 5 election. 
Trump is expected to travel to the state to stump for Gov. Matt Bevin the day before Election Day, according to two people familiar with the planning for the event. Pence, meanwhile, is slated to appear in the state on Nov. 1. Final details for the rallies are still being worked out.

White House spokespersons did not respond to a request for comment.

Bevin is likely to make Trump a central part of his closing argument, and Trump has made last-minute trips to heavily Republican areas a staple of his campaign arsenal for GOP allies. Bevin has portrayed himself as a staunch White House ally and has aired TV ads which prominently feature the president. Trump won Kentucky by nearly 30 percentage points in 2016. 
The offensive comes amid Republican concerns over Bevin’s standing. Bevin has consistently ranked as one of the least popular governors in the country, and he faces a formidable Democratic opponent in state Attorney General Andy Beshear, the son of a popular former governor.

Donald Trump hasn't made Bevin any more popular.  He's one of the least-liked governors in America, and as of July he was dead last in the country.

Now imagine where Trump is going to be three weeks from now, given the flood of impeachment testimony and bad news.  Trump wants to be the man to "save" Bevin and take credit for his win, but there's a really good chance Trump may not be in a position to help Bevin one bit.

We'll see.

The Reach To Impeach, Con't

So if you're keeping track of all the players on the State Department side of the Ukraine impeachment mess, you may be wondering why the US had a special envoy to Ukraine (Kurt Volker, who has resigned from that post and testified last week) and not a full Ambassador.  That's because the US Ambassador to Ukraine, career diplomat Marie Yovanovich, was ousted in May.

Yovanovitch, who was outspoken about the need to crack down on corruption in the country, was thrust into the spotlight in March when Ukraine’s top prosecutor claimed, without evidence, that the ambassador had outlined a list of people he should not prosecute when he first met her. The U.S. State Department called the claim by Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko an “outright fabrication.” In April, he walked back the statement in a separate interview. 
Lutsenko’s allegations about Yovanovitch came two weeks after she issued scathing remarks about Ukraine’s anti-corruption efforts and called on the authorities to fire special anti-corruption prosecutor Nazar Kholodnytsky. In wiretapped phone conversations, Kholodnytsky allegedly coached suspects on how to avoid corruption charges. 
Lutsenko made his claim against Yovanovitch in an interview with Hill.TV’s John Solomon, which aired on March 20. That same day, the Hill published twofurther pieces based off what appears to be the same interview with Lutsenko, in which the prosecutor said he had opened a probe into alleged attempts by Ukrainian law enforcement to tip the 2016 U.S. presidential election in favor of Hillary Clinton by leaking financial ledgers with details of payments made to Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort by former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

Coming weeks before special counsel Robert Mueller published his report on Russian election interference in the 2016 election, Lutsenko’s allegation about Ukrainian interference was seized upon by Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, with the president tweeting out the headline to the Hill article, “John Solomon: As Russia Collusion fades, Ukrainian plot to help Clinton emerges.”

Yovanovitch then faced a slew of criticism from Fox News personalities and other right-wing media figures, who accused her of denigrating the president in private conversations. In March, Fox News host Laura Ingraham said that former Republican Rep. Pete Sessions sent a letter to Pompeo in May 2018 calling for the “expulsion” of Yovanovitch as ambassador to Ukraine “immediately.” The then-congressman said that he had evidence the ambassador had been critical of the Trump administration in private, though the current and former U.S. officials who spoke to Foreign Policy say that claim was unfounded. 
“The fact that Sessions wrote that letter a year ago and she wasn’t removed shows me there’s no ‘there’ there,” said John Herbst, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who is now at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank.

Knowing what we know now, the May story on Yovanovich's ouster looks extremely damaging for the Trump regime.  John Solomon, Trump's disinformation go-to at The Hill and now a FOX News State TV contributor, was happy to pen the death of Yovanovich's career at State for not playing ball with Trump's efforts to use Ukraine to take down Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.  Jeff Sessions, who called for her expulsion, we now know took illegal campaign money from Lev Parnas's shell company.

It gets much worse for Trump though, as today Yovanovich testified to several House committees on why she was fired once Rudy Giuliani personally got involved, behind closed-door sessions because we now know Rudy Giuliani is now and has been under federal investigation.

The business relationship between President Donald Trump's private lawyer Rudy Giuliani and the men charged Thursday in a campaign finance scheme is a subject of the ongoing criminal investigation being conducted by federal authorities in New York, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The investigation became public after the FBI had to quickly move to arrest Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman before they boarded a flight out of the country from Washington Dulles Airport with one-way tickets. They have been named as witnesses in the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Trump. 
The investigation is being conducted by the FBI's New York field office and prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, the same U.S. Attorney's office Giuliani ran before he became mayor of New York.

Yovanovich's testimony, judging from her prepared statement, will be devastating.

The former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine whose abrupt ouster in May has become a topic of interest for House impeachment investigators said Friday that her departure came as a direct result of pressure President Trump placed on the State Department to remove her, according to her prepared remarks before Congress obtained by The Washington Post. 
Marie Yovanovitch told lawmakers that she was forced to leave Kiev on “the next plane” this spring and subsequently removed from her post, with the State Department’s No. 2 official telling her that, though she had done nothing wrong, the president had lost confidence in her and the State Department had been under significant pressure to remove her since the summer of 2018. 

Yeah, big info there: the pressure to get rid of Yovanovich started more than a year ago, before Biden entered the race.

Read Marie Yovanovitch’s prepared deposition statement 
In explaining her departure, she acknowledged months of criticisms by Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani, who had accused her of privately badmouthing the president and seeking to protect the interests of former vice president Joe Biden and his son who served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. 
Yovanovitch denied those allegations and said she was “incredulous” that her superiors decided to remove her based on “unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.” She also took direct aim at Giuliani's associates whom she said could've been financially threatened by her anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine. 
“Contacts of Mr. Giuliani may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine,” she said. 
The sweeping criticisms by a diplomat with more than 30 years in the foreign service came amid rising dissatisfaction inside the State Department at what is seen as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s failure to defend his subordinates who became targets in the Ukraine controversy. Michael McKinley, a career diplomat and senior adviser to Pompeo, resigned from his post this week as resentment in the building has grown.

They tried to get rid of her for nearly a year before Giuliani came in and told Trump to make it happen, because she knew Rudy's boys were crooked and she was trying to fight them.  Rudy won the battle.

He's about to lose the war.

Along with one Donald Trump.

Oh, and one more thing: US EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland has changed his mind and will testify next week to House Democrats.


Ukraine In The Membrane, Con't

White House staffers are bailing on the S.S. Orange Orangutan as Trump regime flunkies are desperately trying to flee the sinking ship of state.

Political appointees in the White House budget office intervened to freeze aid to Ukraine despite some career staffers raising concerns that the move was improper, people briefed on the matter said.

Acknowledging some of the concerns, White House budget aides eventually disclosed to other government officials that the money was being frozen outside of the normal “apportionment” process. But they didn’t give officials at the State Department or other agencies a reason the money was being withheld, or who had initially made the decision to freeze it, after substantive discussions about whether the move was legal.

The un­or­tho­dox steps were carried out in connection with Michael Duffey, associate director of national security programs at the Office of Management and Budget. Duffey was involved in approving orders to hold back nearly $400 million in congressionally approved military aid for Ukraine, according to people familiar with what transpired.

And who is Michael Duffy?  A Republican who got a promotion.

Another Wisconsinite is reportedly tangled up in the probe into President Donald Trump's efforts to get Ukraine to investigate his opponent Joe Biden. 
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Michael Duffey, a politically appointed Office of Management and Budget official, was given authority by the White House to keep aid to Ukraine on hold after career budget staff members questioned the legality of delaying the funds. 
Duffey previously served as executive director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin. 
"While career civil servants put an initial hold on the aid, Michael Duffey, associate director of national security programs in OMB, was given the authority for continuing to keep the aid on hold after the career staff began raising their concerns to political officials at OMB, according to people familiar with the matter," the newspaper reported.

The former GOP party head in Wisconsin.  A state Trump won by fewer than 25,000 votes that had just implemented a major voter suppression protocol.  And he got kicked upstairs into a nice cushy Trump regime job for delivering his state to handle, specifically, the budget for national security programs.  You know, like defense of America's voting systems from foreign interference.

And he's the guy who had the authority to block Ukrainian aid.

Any political fiction editor reading these facts as the plot of a manuscript this would demand a rewrite.


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