Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Last Call For Criming While Republican

In the Trump era, being a felon no longer bars one from Republican office, because all you have to do to expunge your criminal record in the court of public opinion is blame Obama's evil deep state operatives for your false conviction.

Former New York congressman Michael Grimm is a felon who has admitted to hiring undocumented workers, hiding $900,000 from tax authorities and making false statements under oath. To hear him tell it, that’s a reason Staten Island Republicans should vote him back into office. 
“It’s almost identical to what the president has been going through,” Grimm says of the federal investigation that led to his imprisonment. “It’s not an accident that under the Obama administration the Justice Department was used politically. And that is all starting to come out.” 
Grimm has uncovered a new reality in the constantly changing world of Republican politics: Criminal convictions, once seen as career-enders, are no longer disqualifying. In the era of President Trump, even time spent in prison can be turned into a positive talking point, demonstrating a candidate’s battle scars in a broader fight against what he perceives as liberal corruption. 
In a startling shift from “law-and-order Republicans,” Trump has attacked some branches of law enforcement, especially those pursuing white-collar malfeasance, as his allies and former campaign officials are ensnared in various investigations. 
Following his lead, Republican Senate candidates with criminal convictions in West Virginia and Arizona have cast themselves as victims of the Obama administration’s legal overreach. Another former Trump adviser who has pleaded guilty to a felony has also become an in-demand surrogate, as Republicans jump at the chance to show their opposition to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

“Here’s a general rule of thumb: Lawmakers should not be law breakers,” said Susan Del Percio, a New York GOP consultant who advised Grimm in 2010 but opposes his candidacy. “I guess it’s a different political norm we are facing today.”

No Republican can be guilty of a crime because it was all an Obama/Clinton plot to discredit them, and you can bet Donald Trump will be using that same excuse the second anything remotely resembling recommended charges from Mueller appear.

This is what I mean when I say Trump is a symptom of the utter rot of the Republican party, not the cause of it.  It's not Trump who believes he is above the law, it's the entire party that now believes laws and convictions no longer apply to them.

Republicans are proudly running for Congress while having been convicted of serious criminal charges and they are boldly declaring their criminal records to be meaningless politically-driven shams.  I disagree that Republicans have changed from being "the party of law and order" at all, they simply believe they are legally and morally righteous because no Republican could ever be convicted except by kangaroo courts run by those people.

And you can be damn sure Republicans want laws to apply to everyone besides them to boot.  It's not a change, it's an apotheosis.

Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

Darren Martin is currently working for the Commissioner of NYC's Social Services after serving a stint as an Obama White House intern and Dem House staffer.  He moved back to the Big Apple to start his job and had a hell of a housewarming gift: neighbors called 911 on him because being black, of course he was committing burglary.

It was an unsolicited homecoming that left Bronx native Darren Martin unsettled. 
After spending several years working on Capitol Hill and in the White House with the Obama Administration, Martin recently made the move back to New York, getting a job with the city and finding a unit in a 5-story walk-up on the Upper West Side. 
On moving day this past Friday, Martin got an unexpected visit from the NYPD. 
“I’m in my apartment but you know – you can’t go nowhere without the cops following me,” Martin said during the encounter live streamed via Instagram. 
Turns out, someone called 911 to report a “burglary in progress” and the suspect was the building’s brand new tenant – Martin. 
“Somebody called the cops on me in my own building,” he told viewers who were tuning in to watch the live video. “About how many are ya’ll? About six of ya’ll showed up, rolled up on me.” 
He has a packed work schedule and that was the only time he had to move into the building. 
“I didn’t really think anyone was going to call the cops on me because I mean – I was moving into the building.”

Wisely, Martin shared the encounter on social media, which is something I damn sure will do the next time I have a run-in with police here in Kentucky.  But it just goes to show you that no matter how educated and well-off you are being black in America, it just takes a phone call and the suspicion of a "well-meaning neighbor" in your newly gentrified neighborhood (just a few blocks from 110th Street and Harlem north of Central park mind you, like don't tell me you haven't seen a black person up across the hundred, man) to put you in a situation that could be fatal.

And we have to live with that fear every day.

Black lives still matter.

Bibi Wags That Dog Again

As embattled Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu continues to face multiple corruption investigations that threaten to bring down the government, it appears that he views his best chance of political survival as providing flimsy pretext for the Trump regime to scrap the US/EU nuclear deal with Iran in favor of a good old fashioned war. NY Magazine's Jonah Shepp:

In a special address on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented what he described as shocking, indisputable evidence that Iran had lied about its covert nuclear weapons program in the past and “continued to preserve and expand its nuclear weapons knowledge for future use” after signing the 2015 deal with six world powers to halt its nuclear activities.

Netanyahu was speaking on primetime Israeli television, but his presentation was delivered primarily in English and appeared targeted to a daytime audience in the U.S. (and perhaps an audience of one, residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.) rather than to his fellow Israelis. If so, it certainly had its intended effect, causing President Donald Trump to declare that he was “100 percent right” about the failings of the nuclear deal, less than two weeks ahead of his next chance to derail it.

Much like Netanyahu’s previous dire warnings about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, however, this one is being hugely oversold. The trove of Iranian documents recently obtained by Israeli intelligence, most of which date to before the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was adopted, do not constitute proof that Iran either has violated or intends to violate it. Several experts and European diplomats pointed out that the Israeli prime minister had not revealed anything they didn’t already know, nor did he provide a proverbial smoking gun to show that Iran was making an end run around the JCPOA. If Mossad had found slam-dunk proof of noncompliance in their brazen heist of Iran’s nuclear archive, surely Netanyahu would have included it in his PowerPoint. That he didn’t suggests that they haven’t.

The nuclear deal is an imperfect document, to be sure, as agreements signed between adversaries usually are, but right-wing criticism of it tends to proceed from the false premises that the Obama administration was unaware of Iran’s past behavior and unconcerned that the JCPOA would not prevent Iran from engaging in nuclear activity in perpetuity. Of course we knew that Iran was pursuing a covert nuclear weapons program prior to 2015: That’s why we made them agree to stop it.

It also takes some chutzpah for the prime minister of Israel — whose own nuclear program involved lying to the international community, duping American nuclear inspectors, and possibly stealing highly enriched uranium from the U.S., and which has never acknowledged that program’s existence — to accuse another country of engaging in this particular kind of duplicity. But surely Netanyahu feels that the choices Israel made in its pursuit of the bomb were justified for the sake of its national security, given that it has always been surrounded by enemies.

The White House immediately issued a blaring press release stating that Iran has a covert nuclear program, as in present tense today, which would be a clear violation of the agreement, and only several hours later bothered "correcting" the release to say Tehran had a covert nuclear program, which...yeah, was the whole point of the Iranian nuclear deal. The correction came of course after dozens of breathless right-wing armchair generals declared the nuclear deal dead amid depressingly familiar expectations of a replay of sixteen years ago.

Trump needs a war as much as Bibi does right now, and a fight of some sort with Iran seems like their best collective bet.  Remember, it only took 18 months before the Bushies had convinced the world that we needed to bomb Baghdad into scrap metal after 9/11.

And hell, it was only seven weeks between Colin Powell's UN speech on Saddam having "weapons of mass destruction" and the US invasion of Iraq.

Might want to keep that in mind.


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