Monday, December 4, 2017

Last Call For Trump Cards, Con't

America's status as global pariah under the Trump regime worsens as the United States continues to bail on UN agreements.

The United States has walked away from a United Nations effort to ease the global migration and refugee crisis, with the Trump administration saying it was no longer compatible with U.S. principles or priorities. 
In a statement, the U.S. Mission said the U.N.'s New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants — recognized by the United States last year under the Obama administration — "contains numerous provisions that are inconsistent with U.S. immigration and refugee policies." 
Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said President Donald Trump made the decision after noting that "America is proud of our immigrant heritage and our long-standing moral leadership in providing support to migrant and refugee populations across the globe." 
"But," Haley continued, "our decisions on immigration policies must always be made by Americans and Americans alone. We will decide how best to control our borders and who will be allowed to enter the country."

The rest of the world, including China and Russia, will go on without us as Trump continues to abdicate from any sort of global leadership.

World leaders and dignitaries from 193 U.N. member states adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants in September 2016, paving the way for the global compact for migration
The compact, expected to be adopted in 2018, is aimed at facilitating safe and orderly migration around the world. It will present a framework for comprehensive international cooperation on migrants, set out a range of actionable commitments and tackle issues such as protecting the safety, dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants. 
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson applauded Trump's decision to exit the agreement and said "strengthening global governance" would run afoul of U.S. laws and policies. 
"While we will continue to engage on a number of fronts at the United Nations, in this case, we simply cannot in good faith support a process that could undermine the sovereign right of the United States to enforce our immigration laws and secure our borders," Tillerson said in a statement.

No longer.  A nation of immigrants has turned its back on the people of the rest of the planet.  Only about 4% of the world's population is American. The other 96% of the globe is realizing that they can get along without us for the time being, and will gladly do so.

And speaking of refugees, we seem to be headed for creating a few million more on the Korean Peninsula as Trump national security adviser is openly warning of war with Pyongyang and GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham is calling for the US to begin removing the families of American soldiers stationed in South Korea.

Let’s be clear about what McMaster and Graham are saying. The US and North Korea appear to be on the path to war, and there’s no solution for peace in sight. Therefore, Graham argues, the US should stop sending family members of American military personnel to South Korea — and start taking those already there out of the country.

Graham’s commentary doesn’t come out of nowhere, however. There are serious reasons to worry about the damage North Korea could do to South Korea, where 28,500 US troops and their dependents reside.

If the US attacks North Korea, experts believe Pyongyang will retaliate not just against America but also against Seoul and Tokyo. Simulations of that possibility produce pretty bleak results. One war game convened by the Atlantic back in 2005 predicted that a North Korean attack would kill 100,000 people in Seoul — a city of around 25.6 million people — in the first few days alone. Others put the estimate even higher. A war game mentioned by the National Interest predicted Seoul could “be hit by over half-a-million shells in under an hour.”

It’s worth noting that McMaster has long talked about the growing prospect of war with North Korea, and Graham nonchalantly discusses “thousands” dying on the Korean Peninsula during a conflict. And of course Trump himself once said he would unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea if it continued to develop its nuclear program.

This rhetoric is supposed to remind North Korea that the US is serious when it says it needs to stop building a missile that can hit America. But now that North has one, it seems like the US is threatening war with no real chance of getting North Korea to do what America wants, experts tell me.

If McMaster, Graham, and Trump are serious, God help us,” Kingston Reif, the director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association, told me in an interview today. “If they're bluffing, it's not working to bring North Korea to the table, and threatening preventive war just further solidifies North Korea's determination to continue advancing its arsenal and increases unintended war risks.”

Either way, we're getting closer to becoming a dangerous rogue state, one the rest of the world will have to deal with.

He's Not Going Anywhere, Guys

I do update the Mueller investigation news several times a week it seems, but it's important to remember that, as The Atlantic's Peter Beinart reminds us, Trump will never be impeached by a Republican-led Congress and even if Democrats have the votes to do so in 2018, he'll never be removed from office by the Senate GOP.

Now that Michael Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I., and agreed to dish on his former boss, some Trump-watchers are suggesting that impeachment may be around the corner. “It’s time to start talking about impeachment,” announced a Saturday column on The Flynn deal, declared former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Harry Litman in Friday’s New York Times, “portends the likelihood of impeachable charges being brought against the president of the United States.”

That may be true. But bringing impeachment charges against Trump, and actually forcing him from office, are two vastly different things. And while the former may be more likely today than it was half a year ago, the latter is actually less likely. Since Robert Mueller became special counsel in May, the chances of the House of Representatives passing articles of impeachment—and the Senate ratifying them—have probably gone down.

That’s because impeachment is less a legal process than a political one. Passing articles of impeachment requires a majority of the House. Were such a vote held today—even if every Democrat voted yes—it would still require 22 Republicans. If Democrats take the House next fall, they could then pass articles of impeachment on their own. But ratifying those articles would require two-thirds of the Senate, which would probably require at least 15 Republican votes.

That kind of mass Republican defection has grown harder, not easier, to imagine. It’s grown harder because the last six months have demonstrated that GOP voters will stick with Trump despite his lunacy, and punish those Republican politicians who do not.

Among Republicans, Trump’s approval rating has held remarkably steady. The week Mueller was named, according to Gallup, Trump’s GOP support stood at 84 percent. In the days after Donald Trump Jr. was revealed to have written, “I love it” in response to a Russian offer of dirt on Hillary Clinton, it reached 87 percent. In Gallup’s last poll, taken in late November, it was 81 percent. Trump’s approval rating among Republicans has not dipped below 79 percent since he took office. None of the revelations from Mueller’s investigation—nor any of the other outrageous things Trump has done—has significantly undermined his support among the GOP rank and file.

Beinert goes on to note Clinton survived impeachment because Democratic voters supported him in 1999 at Trump-like levels.  He finished out his second term yes, but then Dubya won the all-important Supreme Court vote and the rest, as they say, is history.

Donald Trump will most likely make it to 2020. He'll run in 2020 too, hell he's running for 2020 now. Whether or not he wins, well, that's up to America, and whether we can overcome massive GOP voter suppression tactics and apathy and not die in a nuclear war with Pyongyang or whatever.

But he won't be impeached or removed from office.  Mueller may make his life miserable but there's nothing to make me think Republican voters will turn on Trump when, not if, he makes his move on Mueller.

Yes, the White House is crippled by paranoia and Trump essentially has the worst lawyers ever because they took on the worst client on earth, but the cynic's view is correct here.  This is 100% political now, the legality and morality of Trump's actions no longer apply.

President Trump's outside lawyer said in a new interview that a president can't obstruct justice. 
The "President cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution's Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case," attorney John Dowd told Axios
His comments come after Trump in a tweet over the weekend appeared to reveal he knew former national security adviser Michael Flynn had lied to the FBI when he was fired.
"I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies," Trump tweeted on Saturday. 
"It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!"

The tweet spurred controversy, as legal experts suggested if Trump knew Flynn had lied to the FBI and then asked Comey to drop the investigation, it could amount to obstruction of justice.

Mueller's investigation is still important, but only politics can remove Trump, and he'll have the support of 90%+ of Republicans regardless of what happens.  Don't fool yourself into thinking otherwise.  We're well past the "alleged" part of collusion and obstruction of justice now.

The White House's chief lawyer told President Donald Trump in January he believed then-national security adviser Michael Flynn had misled the FBI and lied to Vice President Mike Pence and should be fired, a source familiar with the matter said Monday. 
The description of the conversation raises new questions about what Trump knew about Flynn's situation when he urged then-FBI Director James Comey to drop the investigation into Flynn and whether anyone in the White House, including the President himself, attempted to obstruct justice. Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians, a probe led by Comey until Trump fired him. 
White House counsel Donald McGahn told Trump that based on his conversation with then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates, he believed Flynn had not told the truth in his interview with the FBI or to Pence, the source said. McGahn did not tell the President that Flynn had violated the law in his FBI interview or was under criminal investigation, the source said.

Trump knew Flynn lied to the FBI because McGahn told him, Trump then fired Sally Yates and James Comey in order to try to cover up for Flynn.  There's no longer any doubt now. The law no longer matters where we're going.

Yes, the Trump regime is looking more a more like the Nixon administration daily, but Nixon resigned solely due to political pressure. Maybe that pressure can be brought to bear, but as I've been saying for months now, that would depend on the same Republicans who have been supporting Trump for years now, and even if they went along Republican voters won't believe any of the charges against him anyhow.

Oh, and if Obama had ever said that the "President cannot obstruct justice" he would have been impeached the next day and removed from office by the end of the week.

Taxing Our Patience, Con't

At a bowling alley in suburban Detroit, the Washington Post talks about the GOP tax heist.

A 60-year-old retiree bowling with a group of girlfriends said she’s tired of the middle class having to pay more so the wealthy can become even wealthier. A few lanes away, a middle-aged woman with frizzy gray hair said that the more she hears about the plan, the more she hates it. And a group of young guys in matching shirts said they didn’t even know the proposal was in the works, although they seemed skeptical that their taxes would ever go down in a meaningful way.

Ron Stephens, a 49-year-old Republican who works in purchasing for the auto industry and wrote in Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) for president, said he doesn’t expect to benefit under the proposal. Any gains he might make thanks to a tax cut would probably be washed out by changes to other deductions that he usually takes, he said.

And don’t get him started on cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, as the Senate bill passed early Saturday does.

I'm betting most of folks like Ron there are worried, but they'll vote Republican anyway.  Michigan folks who voted for Trump are certainly happy about the GOP tax bill because, all together now, IT WILL HELP SMALL BUSINESSES!

A few miles away at Art and Jake’s Sports Bar, two business partners were practically giddy at the idea of the corporate tax rate going down. Jeff Hinsperger and Mark Matheson own the World Class Equipment Co. in Shelby, which builds robots to work in automobile manufacturing plants. Both voted for Trump.

Business has been booming — although they said they have struggled to get the financing needed to do all the job requests they receive. With more cash from paying less in taxes, they said, the company could finance more on its own, allowing them to hire more employees and invest in even more equipment.

“Everyone thinks business owners are greedy,” Matheson said. “We’re not. We’re the ones with everything at risk.”

Sitting across the bar that night were two other businessmen who were in town for work — one from Indianapolis, the other from Tennessee. Both were longtime Republicans. Neither of them expects to benefit from the tax cuts, and they’re skeptical that cuts for corporations will really trickle down to them. Both scoffed when asked whether members of Congress or the president care about the middle class.

They know the Republicans don't care about them.  But they'll never make the connection about what they need to do to fix the problem.

They’re not looking out for the middle class,” said Andrew Stewart, 30, a former hair stylist who works as a restaurant server while he’s studying to become an occupational therapist. “The separation between the middle class and the upper class, it’s growing, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence. . . . It’s easier to control people when they’re under your thumb.”

Stewart supported Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for president in the primaries and believes Sanders was robbed of the Democratic nomination. He voted in the general election for Jill Stein of the Green Party, which he doesn’t regret — although he disapproves of how Trump is running the country.

“I feel completely unrepresented,” he said, while studying at a local Starbucks. “I don’t feel like I’m represented at all. It’s just a sad time in American history.”

The Republicans don't care about the middle class, everyone agrees on that.  Even the ones that support Trump now admit that.  The ones that don't like Trump are really upset he's President. If only there was an alternative to the Republicans.

And the ones who will actually benefit from the tax bill?  Will they create jobs?  Funny you should ask.
Getting lunch in the mall food court that afternoon was Mike Papastamatis, a 33-year-old dentist who is a partner in a local practice and expects his tax rate to fall about 10 points if the “pass-through” deduction is increased. While that will benefit him, he said the practice is fully staffed right now and there’s no need to expand.

Most folks are upset about this bill.  They know it's a giant scam to enrich the ultra-rich at their expense.

But these same people in 2018 and 2020?

They all have something in common, you see.

They'd rather vote for the party that gives their money to those hundreds, thousands, millions of times wealthier than themselves rather than the party that gives their money to those with even less.

They will never, ever, ever vote for the Democrats. They'll stay home maybe, possibly, kind of.  They'll vote for the Green or the Independence Party But they'll never vote for the Democrat. That's an admission of failure.

Stop chasing these voters, Dems. They will never vote for you.

Pay attention to the ones who do.


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