Saturday, October 14, 2017

Last Call For The Two-Front War

Both Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka have been booted from the White House, but it doesn't mean they are gone from the Trump regime at all.  In fact they both are vowing to take on the two-thirds plus of Americans who disapprove of Trump and destroy them by any means necessary.  Bannon will take on Republicans and conservatives who don't swear allegiance to Dear Leader...

Steve Bannon taunted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Saturday and vowed to challenge any Senate Republican who doesn’t publicly condemn attacks on President Donald Trump.

“Yeah, Mitch, the donors are not happy. They’ve all left you. We’ve cut your oxygen off,” Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist, said during a speech to religious conservatives at the Values Voter Summit in Washington.

Referencing Shakespeare, Bannon compared McConnell to Julius Caesar, adding that lawmakers are wondering who will emerge as Brutus, the character who reluctantly joins in on the assassination of Caesar for the benefit of Rome.

Bannon, now the executive chairman of Breitbart News, bashed Senate Republicans by name for not publicly distancing themselves from Sen. Bob Corker’s criticism of Trump, reserving particular animus for Sens. John Barrasso (Wyo.), Dean Heller (Nev.) and Deb Fischer (Neb.).

Nobody can run and hide on this one,” he said. “These folks are coming for you. The days of taking a few nice conservative votes and hiding are over.”

 ...while Gorka is vowing to destroy anyone to the left of Trump.

During his speech to the Values Voter Summit today, Sebastian Gorkasaid liberals who were celebrating him leaving the White House should be more worried now.

Gorka spoke before Steve Bannon did and told the crowd not to be so troubled by the fact that the two of them left the White House.

“This is much larger than the White House,” he said. “This is a national movement to retake our country.”

He noted how liberals celebrated when both he and Bannon left, but after once again invoking Star Wars, he said this:

The left has no idea how much more damage we can do to them as private citizens, as people unfettered by being part of the U.S. government.”

Those who oppose Trump must be exterminated, you see.

And that above sentence may not be figurative for much longer.

The Blue Wave Builds For 2018

Once again Cook Political Report is checking on 2018 House races, and in the dozen districts that warranted a shift in fortunes in the last month, all 12 have seen moves to the Democratic side.

President Trump and GOP control of Congress have sparked a 2018 Democratic candidate bonanza. Don't call it "recruitment:" for the most part, these aspirants decided to take the plunge on their own. Many are political newcomers; others have waited years for the right moment to run. And in light of national polling, it was only a matter of time before more GOP-held House seats joined the ranks of the vulnerable.

Over the past week, the Cook Political Report has met with dozens of Democratic candidates sporting impressive resumes, ranging from military veterans and former Obama administration officials to prosecutors and scientists. Much like the GOP's crop of candidates in 2010, only a handful were current or former elected officials. However, some campaigns have progressed more quickly than others and not all opportunities are created equal.

For example, Democrats are rightfully excited about former federal prosecutor Jay Hulings, 42, who has taken on drug cartels and public corruption in South Texas. He possesses the national security credentials to go toe to toe with GOP Rep. Will Hurd (TX-23), a former undercover CIA agent, and it doesn't hurt that he's politically close to the Castro brothers and married to a former Miss San Antonio. But he must also overcome a competitive primary and typically low Latino turnout in midterms.

The races to watch right now are:

Arizona's 2nd, which is now a true toss-up after GOP Rep. Martha McSally sided with Trump in taking health coverage away from thousands of Arizona voters and could face a substantial challenge from Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick

California's 48th, where Putin's favorite congressman GOP Rep. Dana Rorabacher is now in the fight of his life against Democrat Hans Kierstead, who has a big war chest after selling his cancer research biotech company in order to enter public service.

California's 50th, where Duncan D. Hunter inherited his seat from his father only to face a DoJ investigation for campaign finance spending on private school for his kids and airline trips that included the family's pet rabbit, he'll face former NAVY Seal Josh Butner running on the Democratic side.

Iowa's 1st, where GOP Rep. Rod Blum now faces a strong challenge in what's now a toss-up race against state Democratic Rep. and rising star Abby Finkenauer.

Kansas's 2nd, where GOP Rep. Lynn Jenkins was one of the first retirements after Trump won, all but announcing her disgust with the party and the fact she's leaving public service.  Republicans have a mess on their hands as to who will replace her, but Democrats have made it a toss-up with the arrival of Kansas House Minority Leader Paul Davis as the top challenger for the open seat.

Hopefully more will join the ranks of these seats the Dems can flip over the next year or so.

A Bit Left Of The Moon

New Republic's Sarah Jaffe argues that post-2016 liberals winning at the state and local level in 2017 aren't winning because of Bernie, they're winning because they're liberals in a world where Trump makes both an easy and immoral contrast as he is the modern GOP.

One of the few bright spots of the Trump era thus far has been a new wave of electoral wins for candidates with decidedly left-of-center views. The victories have come in municipal and state-legislative races—most notably in places like Alabama, Mississippi, and Long Island, where the left isn’t “supposed” to have a chance to win anything. In some cases, like last week’s mayoral victory of Randall Woodfin in Birmingham, left-wing Democrats are unseating centrist, Chamber-of-Commerce-style Democrats. In others, longtime left-wing activists are successfully challenging Republicans in places where centrist Democrats have long failed.

These breakthroughs are bringing fresh ideas and new faces into the foundational layers of the political system, where conservatives have been ascendant for years. But the national media, which actively misunderstands both the South and the rest of “red” America, has decided to cover these stories only as triumphs of the “Bernie Sanders left,” as though all politics were not (in the famous phrase) “local” anymore; instead, national reporters and pundits increasingly, misleadingly, see all local politics as national.

“Bernie Wins Birmingham” is convenient shorthand for those who have no idea what actually goes on in Birmingham. But Bernie Sanders and the group his 2016 campaign inspired, Our Revolution, are not winning elections in places like Birmingham or Jackson, Mississippi, which in June elected a mayor who’s promised, “I’ll make Jackson the most radical city on the planet.” Activists in Birmingham and Jackson and Albuquerque and Long Island are winning them—left-wing activists who’ve toiled for years in the trenches, working with a new wave of organizers from Black Lives Matter and other insurgent groups, who bring social-media savvy and fired-up young voters into the mix.

Of course, it’s a great thing that groups like Our Revolution, which sprung out of Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign, are bringing money, volunteers, and national attention to candidates like Woodfin. But the top-down narrative misses a lot about what is happening on the ground around the country. For starters, it misses the movements that shifted politics to the point where someone like Sanders could run for president and win state after state in the first place. More important, it misses the specifics—the ideas, the tactics, the challenges to existing political hegemonies—that have made these campaigns successful. And telling the story wrong lessens the chances that these unlikely wins can be replicated elsewhere.

In other words, it's amazing what liberal Democrats can do in the Trump era without the baggage that the Village media has dumped on the backs of Hillary Clinton, but it doesn't mean that Bernie Sanders should get the credit, either.

I've said for years that the Democrats needed a better political candidate farm team at the state and local level, especially in Trump states that Obama has success in like Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Florida, and we're finally seeing it get rolling.  The fact that we're seeing it in Alabama and New Mexico too is all the more impressive.  It's coming from the bottom and moving up, not the top down.

But our idiot media wants to frame it in terms of Hillary vs. Bernie, and I'm sick of it.  I reject it in the era of Trump and rejected it before the era of Trump too.

Sadly, many in the country did not, which is why we have Trump today.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

If there's something you can count on in 2017, it's a story about Trump campaign wrongdoing being far worse than originally believed as additional information comes out to prove them to be liars again and again.  This time it's former campaign manager Paul Manafort, whose financial ties to Russian mobster Oleg Deripaska are far more extensive than reported earlier this year.

Paul Manafort, a former campaign manager for President Donald Trump, has much stronger financial ties to a Russian oligarch than have been previously reported.

An NBC News investigation reveals that $26 million changed hands in the form of a loan between a company linked to Manafort and the oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire with close ties to the Kremlin.

The loan brings the total of their known business dealings to around $60 million over the past decade, according to financial documents filed in Cyprus and the Cayman Islands.

Manafort was forced to resign from the Trump campaign in August 2016, following allegations of improper financial dealings, charges he has strenuously denied. He is now a central figure in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Investigators have said they are looking into Manafort's financial ties to prominent figures in Russia.

According to company documents obtained by NBC News in Cyprus, funds were sent from a company owned by Deripaska to entities linked to Manafort, registered in Cyprus.

Manafort's in a lot of trouble.  The only question is how much he can offer Mueller, because if he doesn't turn evidence, he's going down for stuff like this:

The NBC News investigation shows that $26 million was transferred from Oguster Management Ltd. — which is wholly owned by Deripaska, according to a disclosure filed at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange — to Yiakora Ventures Ltd. Yiakora, according to Cyprus financial documents, is a "related party" to Manafort's many interests on the island, a financial term meaning that Manafort's interests have significant influence over Yiakora.

The investigation also confirms a smaller loan of just $7 million from Oguster to another Manafort-linked company, LOAV Advisers Ltd., a figure first reported by The New York Times. Company documents reviewed by NBC News reveal the entire amount was unsecured, not backed by any collateral.

The $7 million loan to LOAV had no specified repayment date, while the $26 million loan to Yiakora was repayable on demand. It’s not known if either sum has ever been repaid.

Lawyers specializing in money laundering said the loans appeared unusual and merited further investigation.

“Money launderers frequently will disguise payments as loans,” said Stefan Cassella, a former federal prosecutor. “You can call it a loan, you can call it Mary Jane. If there's no intent to repay it, then it's not really a loan. It's just a payment.”

Manafort was in for $33 million to one of Putin's favorite mobster pals.  That's a hell of a lot of leverage, which became exponential once Manafort joined Team Trump.  And Now Trump is president.

But Manafort is far from the only person to turn evidence on Trump.  Former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus is definitely talking to Mueller about what he knows.

Reince Priebus, the former chief of staff to President Trump, was interviewed for a full day Friday by members of special counsel Robert S. Mueller’s team, Priebus’s lawyer said.

In a statement, William Burck said his client was interviewed voluntarily.

“He was happy to answer all of their questions,” Burck said.

The interview, which took place at the special counsel’s office in Washington, is a sign that Mueller’s investigation is now reaching into the highest levels of Trump’s aides and former aides.

Priebus served as chairman of the Republican National Committee during the 2016 election campaign before joining the White House when Trump was inaugurated. He resigned as chief of staff in July after Trump had stewed for months about his handling of the White House’s legislative agenda in the president’s first months in office. He was replaced by John F. Kelly.

Mueller’s team has also indicated an interest in interviewing a series of other current and former White House aides, including White House counsel Don McGahn and director of communications Hope Hicks.

A full day's interview?  That alone should have Trump in panic mode and the theory I've seen is that the vindictive and punishing behavior we've seen where Trump is deliberately lashihng out to hurt the American people is something an abuser does when he knows he's in trouble.

Doesn't take a genius to see what happened.
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