Thursday, May 10, 2018

Last Call For The Greitens Show On Earth

The saga of Missouri GOP Gov. Eric Greitens continues as the "used his own wounded veterans' charity as a illegal donor list" half of the story just got much, much worse.  Meet former Greitens campaign aide Mike Hafner, who's going public with his story.

Within days after Mike Hafner began work in January 2015 as a full-time campaign staffer for Republican Eric Greitens, Hafner says he was presented with a copy of the donor list for The Mission Continues, the charity that Greitens helped found. 
“We had set a meeting to discuss the donor list, so I could get notes from Eric and build a fundraising plan for his potential candidacy,” Hafner said in an interview Wednesday.
Hafner’s primary job, at that point, was to set up “a master tracking list’’ for Greitens to use to make campaign-related phone calls to the donors who already had given to the charity. 
The donor list was crucial in those early months of fundraising, Hafner said. The Associated Press has calculated that at least $2 million was raised from the donor list for Greitens’ successful campaign for Missouri governor. 
Hafner suspects the tally could be higher, because some of the donors broached early on the idea of forming nonprofit groups so that their contributions could not be tracked. “There was, in the very embryonic stages of the campaign, discussions already being had about C4s and LCs (two types of outside groups) and not disclosing the source of those contributions,” Hafner said. 
At the time, in early 2015, Hafner says he and allied consultants still thought Greitens was exploring a bid for lieutenant governor – not governor. 
Hafner says he also was unaware when he drew up the call list that there could be legal problems with using The Mission Continues donor list without the charity’s specific approval.

And it gets worse.

Hafner said he simply wants to make sure the record is correct about his involvement in Greitens’ early campaign, and why he believes the public should pay attention.
“I do believe in transparency in campaigns,” Hafner said. He contended that Greitens was misleading the public when he appeared on St. Louis Public Radio’s Politically Speaking podcast in January 2016, and declared that his campaign was transparent and his donors would be public. 
Although Hafner was with Brunner’s campaign by then, “I knew what they were already planning’’ with the secret money going to outside groups. 
By Hafner’s calculation, “Eric had (at least) $6 million in untraceable money.” 

Eric has been quite the industrious type, hasn't he?

Hope that serves him well in prison.

The Irreverent Revenant Is Resurgently Relevant

All this talk of Trump's CIA head pick, former 9/11-era torture maven Gina Haspel, and her disastrous confirmation hearing yesterday (so bad in fact that John McCain has turned on her) has had the effect of re-engaging the "debate" of whether or not torturing people is a good idea, and by "debate" I mean the Nameless One has risen from the Void and hungers once more.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney said the U.S. should restart its enhanced interrogation techniques — often considered torture — after the issue was thrust to the forefront during Gina Haspel’s confirmation fight to become CIA director.

Yeah, that first sentence is a piece of work by the way.  Thanks, Politico.
“If it were my call, I would not discontinue those programs,” he said in an interview that aired Thursday morning on Fox Business. “I’d have them active and ready to go, and I’d go back and study them and learn.”

And feed on their souuuuuuuls.

Cheney has long defended the post-9/11 tactics even as the national climate shifted over the years. Congress has since banned them. 
“I think the techniques we used were not torture. A lot of people try to call it that, but it wasn’t deemed torture at the time,” he told Maria Bartiromo. “People want to go back and try to rewrite history, but if it were my call, I’d do it again.”

Just a friendly reminder that the GOP was awful and repugnant well before Trump, and white people put them back in power anyway.

Haspel, the acting director, faced a barrage of Democratic questions on the morality of techniques like waterboarding at her Senate Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing Wednesday. She oversaw a secret CIA facility in Thailand where two suspected terrorists were subject to them — one on her watch — in 2002 and later pushed for the destruction of tapes of the interrogations.

That should have been the end of Haspel's career.  Alas, it was not.

“I think she’d be a great CIA director,” Cheney said. “I think she’s done a great job in terms of the career she’s built, and the people I know at the agency are very enthusiastic about having one of their own, so to speak, in the driver’s seat at the CIA.”

I bet they are.  Hey listen, "Dick Cheney thinks this is a good idea" should be a pretty big disqualifier for everything, but in the Trump era it's a bonus!

By my math, McCain and Manchin are trading places, so Haspel will still get 51 votes and probably more.  If I'm Rand Paul, I'm calling Susan Collins and seeing what I can get out of the White House while I can.

Sing A Song Of Sick Pence

Pocketful of lies, to paraphrase the old rhyme.  It's also the time of year where that broken clock that is George Will is right for once on Pence being Trump's biggest and most vile enabler.

Last June, a Trump Cabinet meeting featured testimonials offered to Dear Leader by his forelock-tugging colleagues. His chief of staff, Reince Priebus, caught the spirit of the worship service by thanking Trump for the “blessing” of being allowed to serve him. The hosannas poured forth from around the table, unredeemed by even a scintilla of insincerity. Priebus was soon deprived of his blessing, as was Tom Price. Before Price’s ecstasy of public service was truncated because of his incontinent enthusiasm for charter flights, he was the secretary of health and human services who at the Cabinet meeting said, “I can’t thank you enough for the privileges you’ve given me.” The vice president chimed in but saved his best riff for a December Cabinet meeting when, as The Post’s Aaron Blake calculated, Pence praised Trump once every 12 seconds for three minutes: “I’m deeply humbled. . . . ” Judging by the number of times Pence announces himself “humbled,” he might seem proud of his humility, but that is impossible because he is conspicuously devout and pride is a sin
Between those two Cabinet meetings, Pence and his retinue flew to Indiana for the purpose of walking out of an Indianapolis Colts football game, thereby demonstrating that football players kneeling during the national anthem are intolerable to someone of Pence’s refined sense of right and wrong. Which brings us to his Arizona salute last week to Joe Arpaio, who was sheriff of Maricopa County until in 2016 voters wearied of his act
Noting that Arpaio was in his Tempe audience, Pence, oozing unctuousness from every pore, called Arpaio “another favorite,” professed himself “honored” by Arpaio’s presence, and praisedhim as “a tireless champion of . . . the rule of law.” Arpaio, a grandstanding, camera-chasing bully and darling of the thuggish right, is also a criminal, convicted of contempt of court for ignoring a federal judge’s order to desist from certain illegal law enforcement practices. Pence’s performance occurred eight miles from the home of Sen. John McCain, who could teach Pence — or perhaps not — something about honor.

Henry Adams said that “practical politics consists in ignoring facts,” but what was the practicality in Pence’s disregard of the facts about Arpaio? His pandering had no purpose beyond serving Pence’s vocation, which is to ingratiate himself with his audience of the moment. The audience for his praise of Arpaio was given to chanting “Build that wall!” and applauded Arpaio, who wears Trump’s pardon like a boutonniere. 
Hoosiers, of whom Pence is one, sometimes say that although Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky and flourished in Illinois, he spent his formative years — December 1816 to March 1830 — in Indiana, which he left at age 21. Be that as it may, on Jan. 27, 1838, Lincoln, then 28, delivered his first great speech, to the Young Men’s Lyceum in Springfield. Less than three months earlier, Elijah Lovejoy, an abolitionist newspaper editor in Alton, Ill., 67 miles from Springfield, was murdered by a pro-slavery mob. Without mentioning Lovejoy — it would have been unnecessary — Lincoln lamented that throughout America, “so lately famed for love of law and order,” there was a “mobocratic spirit” among “the vicious portion of [the] population.” So, “let reverence for the laws . . . become the political religion of the nation.” Pence, one of evangelical Christians’ favorite pin-ups, genuflects at various altars, as the mobocratic spirit and the vicious portion require. 
It is said that one cannot blame people who applaud Arpaio and support his rehabilitators (Trump, Pence, et al.), because, well, globalization or health-care costs or something. Actually, one must either blame them or condescend to them as lacking moral agency. Republicans silent about Pence have no such excuse.

There will be negligible legislating by the next Congress, so ballots cast this November will be most important as validations or repudiations of the harmonizing voices of Trump, Pence, Arpaio and the like. Trump is what he is, a floundering, inarticulate jumble of gnawing insecurities and not-at-all compensating vanities, which is pathetic. Pence is what he has chosen to be, which is horrifying.

And as much as it pains me to say it, Will is 100% correct here.  The Republicans who enabled Trump from the beginning, and Mike Pence is absolutely the chief enabler, are the real villains in America right now. 

Of course, those villains are joined by Will and Jennifer Rubin and Rick Wilson and Ana Navarro and the other "Never Trump" Republicans who loudly and boldly attack Trump, and still manage to do absolutely nothing to stop him, let alone the fact that they agree with 95% of his policies.  These are the Republicans who wish Mike Pence was in charge, as awful as he is.

They may very well get that wish. 


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