Saturday, April 21, 2018

Last Call For Assad's Useful Idiot

Before Nina Turner or Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein made it clear that cashing in on Clinton-bashing was a thing, former Dem Rep. Dennis Kucinich was making the rounds as the dirtbag left's favorite son.  With Ohio's Democratic nomination for governor relatively open, the Mistake from the Lake is already finding out just how much of a massive albatross he would be in a general election.

Ahead of a tight primary on May 8, Dennis Kucinich’s bid to win the Democratic nomination for the critical gubernatorial race in Ohio landed in trouble this week because of the revelation that he was paid $20,000 last year by a group sympathetic to Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. Now, largely overlooked election filings show that the former congressman’s political apparatus received thousands of more dollars from two brothers involved in multiple efforts to bring Kucinich and Assad together since 2007.

Elie Khawam, a member of a pro-Assad party in the Middle East, gave $6,000 to Kucinich Action PAC in two installments: $1,000 on May 4, 2015, and $5,000 on Nov. 1, 2016, two months before Kucinich’s most recent meeting in Syria with the dictator. Elie’s brother, Bassam Khawam, gave $2,000 to the Kucinich for President campaign on June 30, 2012. Both men, who are U.S. citizens, accompanied Kucinich on his January 2017 visit, and Bassam has said they funded the trip.

Kucinich has depicted his visits with Assad ― all but one of which took place after the Syrian ruler began turning his guns on his own people in 2011― as important diplomatic outreach to avoid American foreign policy mistakes and militarism. But he has also repeatedly downplayed credible reports of war crimes by the Assad regime, including at an April 2017 British conference the pro-Assad group paid for him to attend, three months after his trip to Damascus. Kucinich opponents are now making the issue central to the question of whether he’s fit to be governor.

“Kucinich has been an outspoken defender of the Assad regime in Syria even as it killed countless people and has repeatedly used chemical weapons against defenseless civilians,” former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D), a supporter of Democratic front-runner Richard Cordray, said Wednesday.

Cordray’s campaign is already demanding that Kucinich reveal any other income since he left Congress in 2013, including potential payments for multiple appearances on RT, a media outlet owned by the pro-Assad government of Russia.

The former congressman’s financial ties to the Khawam brothers could add fuel to the fire.

Asked about the donations, Kucinich spokesman Andy Juniewicz noted that the men had been friends for over 30 years. The Kucinich campaign says Cordray’s team is misrepresenting his views.

Admitting a 30 year relationship with pro-Assad war crimes truthers is probably a bad idea, even in Ohio.  I'm glad this came out now rather than after Kucinich might have beaten Rob Cordray in the primary.

Maybe it's terrible saying that, but hopefully this will knock Kucinich out of Ohio politics for good.

Meet The New El Jefe, Same As The Old El Jefe

After more than a decade, Raul Castro has stepped down as Cuba's president, handing off power to his selected successor and Cuba is still Cuba. Anyone hoping for major new reforms, especially in the Trump era, are going to be majorly disappointed.

His handpicked successor, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, 57, is a Communist Party loyalist who was born a year after Fidel Castro claimed power in Cuba. His rise ushers in a new generation of Cubans whose only firsthand experience with the revolution has been its aftermath — the early era of plenty, the periods of economic privation after the demise of the Soviet Union, and the fleeting détente in recent years with the United States, its Cold War foe.

Officials started gathering here in Havana on Wednesday morning and put forward Mr. Díaz-Canel as the sole candidate to replace Mr. Castro, all but assuring his selection by the Communist Party.

Though Mr. Díaz-Canel’s path to the top office has been forecast for years, many an heir apparent before him has fallen by the wayside in the search for a successor to lead the country, whether because of party disloyalty, snide remarks or projecting too much power for the Castros’ liking.

In that delicate balancing act, Mr. Díaz-Canel, a former provincial leader who became the most important of Cuba’s vice presidents, has shown the sort of restraint prized by the Castros. But that same caution has left him an enigma both inside and outside the country.

Few American officials — even those in the United States Embassy in Havana — have spent time with him or can claim to have shared more than a few passing words. Even the most seasoned Cuba experts have only faint clues as to what he will do, how he will lead and how much latitude he will have to chart his own course.

Cuba’s next president could be hemmed in from multiple sides. For one, Raúl Castro is expected to remain the head of the Communist Party and wield great influence. Even Fidel, who ruled Cuba since the revolution, did not officially become president until years later, allowing others to occupy the post while he ran the country.

Beyond that, the diplomatic opening with the United States has closed abruptly under President Trump, limiting Mr. Díaz-Canel’s ability to maneuver economically.

There is nothing in his résumé to suggest he is going to take risks,” Theodore Piccone, a Cuba scholar at the Brookings Institution, said of Mr. Díaz-Canel. “But that is the way the system works — anyone willing to take the risk before now would not be in line to be the president.”

I would have to think that if Clinton were in charge, there would be a much greater chance of real detente with Cuba.  Alas, America made its decision, and it appears so has Raul Castro.

Besides, even if you did want democratic reforms in Cuba, why would you want them with, you know, a country that has Donald Trump for a leader?

A Couple Brief Sessions Of Sanity

Recently, Donald Trump has been placated and has put off firing Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein and Special Counsel Robert Mueller after Rosenstein gave the House Judiciary copies of former FBI Director James Comey's memos on his meetings with Trump.

The House Judiciary immediately leaked the notes to the press in hopes that it would somehow show that Comey wasn't credible, but that "brilliant plan" has already backfired and this morning Trump was attacking the "Special Council" on Twitter yet again.

But the bigger story this morning is Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who over the course of the last week or so may have accidentally developed a microscopic thread of human decency.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently told the White House he might have to leave his job if President Trump fired his deputy, Rod J. Rosenstein, who oversees the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the exchange.

Sessions made his position known in a phone call to White House counsel Donald McGahn last weekend, as Trump’s fury at Rosenstein peaked after the deputy attorney general approved the FBI’s raid April 9 on the president’s personal attorney Michael Cohen.

Sessions’s message to the White House, which has not previously been reported, underscores the political firestorm that Trump would invite should he attempt to remove the deputy attorney general. While Trump also has railed against Sessions at times, the protest resignation of an attorney general — which would be likely to incite other departures within the administration — would create a moment of profound crisis for the White House.

In the phone call with McGahn, Sessions wanted details of a meeting Trump and Rosenstein held at the White House on April 12, according to a person with knowledge of the call. Sessions expressed relief to learn that their meeting was largely cordial. Sessions said he would have had to consider leaving as the attorney general had Trump ousted Rosenstein, this person said.

Another person familiar with the exchange said Sessions did not intend to threaten the White House but rather wanted to convey the untenable position that Rosenstein’s firing would put him in.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment. 

 I know, I'm astonished as well.  Jeff Sessions actually doing the right thing, going to bat for his eople to protect them from Trump after spending nearly a year twiddling his twiddlers doing nothing because of his recusal from the case?  Why, that would be two correct actions in 11 months.  At that rate, Sessions might win the Nobel prize in 3416.

Meanwhile the Democrats aren't sitting back and waiting around for once either (all these people in politics doing the right things, what the hell?)  Dems are now suing Trump, Russia, and WikiLeaks in a major civil case.

The Democratic National Committee filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit Friday against the Russian government, the Trump campaign and the WikiLeaks organization alleging a far-reaching conspiracy to disrupt the 2016 campaign and tilt the election to Donald Trump.

The complaint, filed in federal district court in Manhattan, alleges that top Trump campaign officials conspired with the Russian government and its military spy agency to hurt Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and help Trump by hacking the computer networks of the Democratic Party and disseminating stolen material found there.

“During the 2016 presidential campaign, Russia launched an all-out assault on our democracy, and it found a willing and active partner in Donald Trump’s campaign,” DNC Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement.

“This constituted an act of unprecedented treachery: the campaign of a nominee for President of the United States in league with a hostile foreign power to bolster its own chance to win the presidency,” he said.
The suit asserts that the Russian hacking campaign — combined with Trump associates’ contacts with Russia and the campaign’s public cheerleading of the hacks — amounted to an illegal conspiracy to interfere in the election and caused serious damage to the Democratic Party.

Go for it, guys.  Stormy Daniels shows us the way.

Economic Anxiety Watch 2018

Meanwhile, here in Ohio...


A display featuring several Confederate flags, black figures with wigs, and a black mannequin with painted lips is spurring controversy in Lindale. 
Some witnesses have described the display as disturbing. The homeowners claim they have received threats over it. 
The flags and figurines are outside a home in the 2000 block of OH-132, about a 30-minute drive east from downtown Cincinnati. 
“In no way, shape, or form should anybody think that it’s racist," said Louie Jones, Jr., who lives at the home where the display is set up. 
Jones says the porch has multiple antique pieces on it including a tin poster of John Wayne, a lantern, and a gnome. 
Jones lives at the home with his father. He says the display has been up for years.
FOX19 NOW's Maytal Levi asked Jones: "What would you say to someone driving by this saying that family hates black people?" 
Everybody hates everybody, ya know?" Jones said. "It just depends on what you hate and what you like. It ain’t got nothing to do with race, we ain’t racial.”

That economic anxiety, man, it's brutal.

Say what you will about Kentucky, there are entire counties in Ohio I won't go through because of garbage like this.

Bonus points as to how the story as framed as "Is this racist?  Opinions differ."
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