Sunday, July 23, 2017

Last Call For A Problem Of Coumpound Interest, Con't

Last week I talked about how America's actual President, Vladimir Putin, was getting upset with his satrap Donny over his failure to return two Russian compounds in the US back over to Moscow, both undoubtedly used for spying on America.  The Russians were threatening unspecified "actions" to be taken, especially after the Senate overwhelmingly passed new Russian sanctions last month.  Up until now, those sanctions have been stalled in the House.

But it looks like there's some congressional sausage getting made after all: Democrats will get their sanctions on Russia, not to mention review power over the Trump regime's new deals with Moscow in exchange for new sanctions on North well as harsh new sanctions on Iran that will almost certainly sink President Obama's nuclear deal with Tehran.

The House and Senate have reached a deal on a bill that would impose new financial sanctions on Russia and allow Congress to review and veto any attempt by President Trump, or any other president, to independently ease those sanctions in the future. The Senate, looking to punish the Kremlin for meddling in last year’s presidential election, passed a version of the bill by a nearly unanimous margin in June, but it has been stalled in the House for weeks due to procedural issues, pressure from industry groups, and a White House bent on weakening the proposed congressional-review power. On Saturday, however, negotiators from the House and Senate ironed out a deal that did not include the changes the Trump administration wanted.

In addition to the measures against Russia, the bill includes new sanctions on Iran (over its ballistic-missile tests) and North Korea (over its nuclear program). It also somewhat eased the concerns of the oil-and-gas industry, which worried that American companies would face an impossible amount of red tape if they attempted to partner with Russian businesses.

The tweaked bill will likely receive a full vote on Tuesday and is expected to pass with wide bipartisan support, setting up a possible veto from the president. Trump has never seemed overly concerned about appearing friendly with Russia, though it’s worth pointing out that any presidential administration would object to an attempt by Congress to weaken its power to ease sanctions or deal with foreign powers. The New York Times reportsthat “two senior administration officials said they could not imagine Mr. Trump vetoing the legislation in the current political atmosphere,” but Trump’s ability to exceed the limit of imagination is already well-established at this point.

If Trump does veto the bill, it will be interesting to see if Republicans in Congress are willing to override him. Even if the bill become law, it remains possible that GOP lawmakers won’t challenge Trump’s possible attempts to ease the sanctions — though members of the House’s majority party won’t be the only ones who get to call for such a review. Minority Whip Steny Hoyer declared on Saturday that he was pleased with the legislation, which “ensures that both the majority and minority are able to exercise our oversight role over the administration’s implementation of sanctions.”

Democrats get what they want on Russia, Republicans get what they want on Iran, and everyone's happy with sanctions on Pyongyang for its ICBM testing.  I'm more than a bit annoyed that Democrats are carving off yet another piece of Obama's legacy that they refuse to defend as payment to this illegitimate regime, but that's where we are right now.

It Was Always About Punishment Fantasies

Trump voters will remain Trump voters until they die because Trump embodies the one thing they want more than anything else: punishing Obama voters for ever daring to want an America where a non-white man was president  They will burn this country down rather than let that happen again. They will burn their own communities down, their own families and businesses and churches and everything as long as the people who made Barack Obama president are made to suffer a worse fate.

Trump will give them that.

That's all they will ever need from him.

Last October, three weeks before the election, Donald Trump visited Grand Junction for a rally in an airport hangar. Along with other members of the press, I was escorted into a pen near the back, where a metal fence separated us from the crowd. At that time, some prominent polls showed Clinton leading by more than ten percentage points, and Trump often claimed that the election might be rigged. During the rally he said, “There’s a voter fraud also with the media, because they so poison the minds of the people by writing false stories.” He pointed in our direction, describing us as “criminals,” among other things: “They’re lying, they’re cheating, they’re stealing! They’re doing everything, these people right back here!” 
The attacks came every few minutes, and they served as a kind of tether to the speech. The material could have drifted off into abstraction—e-mails, Benghazi, the Washington swamp. But every time Trump pointed at the media, the crowd turned, and by the end people were screaming and cursing at us. One man tried to climb over the barrier, and security guards had to drag him away. 
Such behavior is out of character for residents of rural Colorado, where politeness and public decency are highly valued. Erin McIntyre, a Grand Junction native who works for the Daily Sentinel, the local paper, stood in the crowd, where the people around her screamed at the journalists: “Lock them up!” “Hang them all!” “Electric chair!” Afterward, McIntyre posted a description of the event on Facebook. “I thought I knew Mesa County,” she wrote. “That’s not what I saw yesterday. And it scared me.” 
Before Trump took office, people I met in Grand Junction emphasized pragmatic reasons for supporting him. The economy was in trouble, and Trump was a businessman who knew how to make rational, profit-oriented decisions. Supporters almost always complained about some aspect of his character, but they also believed that these flaws were likely to help him succeed in Washington. “I’m not voting for him to be my pastor,” Kathy Rehberg, a local real-estate agent, said. “I’m voting for him to be President. If I have rats in my basement, I’m going to try to find the best rat killer out there. I don’t care if he’s ugly or if he’s sociable. All I care about is if he kills rats.”

After the turbulent first two months of the Administration, I met again with Kathy Rehberg and her husband, Ron. They were satisfied with Trump’s performance, and their complaints about his behavior were mild. “I think some of it is funny, how he doesn’t let people push him around,” Ron Rehberg said. Over time, such remarks became more common. “I hate to say it, but I wake up in the morning looking forward to what else is coming,” Ray Scott, a Republican state senator who had campaigned for Trump, told me in June. One lawyer said bluntly, “I get a kick in the ass out of him.” The calculus seemed to have shifted: Trump’s negative qualities, which once had been described as a means to an end, now had value of their own. The point wasn’t necessarily to get things done; it was to retaliate against the media and other enemies. This had always seemed fundamental to Trump’s appeal, but people had been less likely to express it so starkly before he entered office. “For those of us who believe that the media has been corrupt for a lot of years, it’s a way of poking at the jellyfish,” Karen Kulp told me in late April. “Just to make them mad.”

In Grand Junction, people wanted Trump to accomplish certain things with the pragmatism of a businessman, but they also wanted him to make them feel a certain way. The assumption has always been that, while emotional appeal might have mattered during the campaign, the practical impact of a Trump Presidency would prove more important. Liberals claimed that Trump would fail because his policies would hurt the people who had voted for him. 
But the lack of legislative accomplishment seems only to make supporters take more satisfaction in Trump’s behavior. And thus far the President’s tone, rather than his policies, has had the greatest impact on Grand Junction. This was evident even before the election, with the behavior of supporters at the candidate’s rally, the conflicts within the local Republican Party, and an increased distrust of anything having to do with government. Sheila Reiner, a Republican who serves as the county clerk, said that during the campaign she had dealt with many allegations of fraud following Trump’s claims that the election could be rigged. “People came in and said, ‘I want to see where you’re tearing up the ballots!’ ” Reiner told me. Reiner and her staff gave at least twenty impromptu tours of their office, in an attempt to convince voters that the Republican county clerk wasn’t trying to throw the election to Clinton.

As long as he's destroying what liberals like, they'll dance along with the flames as they immolate themselves.  They know that in America, white Trump voters can pick themselves up from the ashes far easier than Obama voters of color.

To rule in hell rather than serve in heaven.

Sunday Long Read: The Doctor Is Out

In case you missed it, our Sunday Long Read this week is a stellar piece of journalism by the LA Times on former USC Med school dean Dr. Carmen Puliafito, who left the university last year to pursue other opportunities. Some investigative reporting into why this happened turned up the Mr. Hyde side of the good doctor as he was self-prescribing some experimental treatments like "partying with co-eds" and "getting blasted on meth."

In USC’s lecture halls, labs and executive offices, Dr. Carmen A. Puliafito was a towering figure. The dean of the Keck School of Medicine was a renowned eye surgeon whose skill in the operating room was matched by a gift for attracting money and talent to the university. 
There was another side to the Harvard-educated physician. 
During his tenure as dean, Puliafito kept company with a circle of criminals and drug users who said he used methamphetamine and other drugs with them, a Los Angeles Times investigation found. 
Puliafito, 66, and these much younger acquaintances captured their exploits in photos and videos. The Times reviewed dozens of the images. 
Shot in 2015 and 2016, they show Puliafito and the others partying in hotel rooms, cars, apartments and the dean’s office at USC. 
In one video, a tuxedo-clad Puliafito displays an orange pill on his tongue and says into the camera, “Thought I’d take an ecstasy before the ball.” Then he swallows the pill. 
In another, Puliafito uses a butane torch to heat a large glass pipe outfitted for methamphetamine use. He inhales and then unleashes a thick plume of white smoke. 
Seated next to him on a sofa, a young woman smokes heroin from a piece of heated foil.
As dean, Puliafito oversaw hundreds of medical students, thousands of professors and clinicians, and research grants totaling more than $200 million. He was a key fundraiser for USC, bringing in more than $1 billion in donations, by his estimation. 
Puliafito resigned his $1.1-million-a-year post in March 2016, in the middle of the spring term, saying he wanted to explore outside opportunities. 
Three weeks earlier, a 21-year-old woman had overdosed in his presence in a Pasadena hotel room. The woman was rushed to a hospital, where she recovered. Police found methamphetamine in the hotel room, according to a police report, but made no arrests. Puliafito has never spoken publicly about the incident, which is being reported here for the first time.

And man, this story gets brutal from here. Puliafito was a party monster, heavy on both the party and the monster, and a woman nearly paid with her life as a result.  It's an astonishing account, and the Times spent months running this story down.

The most gonzo part of the story is that Puliafito kept himself in one piece while doing benders that would make Keith Richards blush and still show up to work the next day...and he was fantastic as both a dean and as an eye surgeon, by all accounts.

It's a hell of a thing, doc.

In Which Zandar Answers Your Burning Questions

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo opines:

One issue I’ve touched on here and there in my posts on the Russia probe is my abiding sense that especially the younger generation of Trumpers: Kushner, Don Jr., et al. just don’t seem to grasp the magnitude of the trouble they’re in, or at least the magnitude of their legal exposure. I can’t point to any one piece of evidence. It’s more like every piece of evidence. The signs I’m going on are a mix of public evidence, things we see unfolding in the newspapers, and my own reporting. They just don’t act like people who get what they’re dealing with and are acting accordingly. 
The abiding sense I get is not simply that they don’t know the magnitude of the legal threat but that they don’t understand the nature of the threat either. Again and again they seem to think the legal vulnerability can be trumped by good news cycles or getting the press to focus on some other individual. They don’t seem to get that a big, sprawling federal investigation like this, untethered from the political chain of command and led by one of the top law enforcement professionals of his generation, trundles onward with a perfect indifference to whether you win the morning or kill it in 10 or a 100 different news cycles. Those things just don’t matter. And yet my sense at least is that Jared Kushner thinks he is helping himself by knifing his brother-in-law – as though if Don Jr is at the center of a media firestorm for a few days, Mueller will just forget about him.

See, for all of Marshall's points here, what Josh simply doesn't get is that Don Jr. and Jared both 100% believe the worst case scenarios for either of them will be a blanket presidential pardon.  They know that in the end, Trump simply won't let his eldest son, or his favorite son-in-law go to prison. Period.

Neither Jared nor Junior have paid any sort of legal price so far, and have been this dirty and awful.

Why would either one of them fear it now?   The old man will save them, and they know it.

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