Monday, May 21, 2018

Last Call For Mine Craft

Word out of West Virginia is that convicted mine safety scofflaw Don Blankenship isn't done with his Senate run after losing the GOP primary to AG Patrick Morissey earlier this month, a possible third-party run could split the vote and allow Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin to stay in Congress.

West Virginia coal baron and former prisoner Don Blankenship announced on Monday that he plans to launch a long-shot third-party Senate bid after finishing a distant third in this month’s Republican primary. 
Blankenship said he would run in the general election as the Constitution Party nominee. But he would need to overcome a “sore loser” law in West Virginia that prevents failed candidates in a main-party primary from refiling to run in the general election under another party’s banner.

Blankenship said he’s prepared to challenge that law in court if needed. If he’s successful, his move that could hurt the GOP’s prospects of unseating Democratic incumbent Joe Manchin in November. 
“It is especially appropriate for me to be nominated by the Constitution Party given its staunch and uncompromising commitment to upholding the United States Constitution,” Blankenship said. 

That sore loser law makes it pretty clear that Blankenship can't actually run, but if he wants to waste millions in court on the battle and run ads attacking Morrissey, well, I'm not going to stop him, no sir.

Blankenship, who spent millions out of his own pockets to fund his Senate campaign, hinted that he was ready for a legal fight. 
“Although the establishment will likely begin their efforts against us by mounting a legal challenge to my candidacy, we are confident that — if challenged — our legal position will prevail, absent a politically motivated decision by the courts,” he said. 
The coal baron also said that the establishment was “determined to keep me — the most anti-establishment candidate in the nation — out of the United States Senate,” and that “the press and the establishment have colluded and lied to convince the public that I am a moron, a bigot, and a felon.”

It's a conspiracy, you see.  All those votes against him were a fraud or something.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

Will Bunch provides a pretty good summary of where we are on the Trump Regime's collusion front in light of this weekend's blockbuster from the NY Times.

Part 1: The Art of the Steal: With the GOP nominee behind in the polls for much of 2016, Team Trump seemed willing to listen to offers of help from any and all comers, morality or election laws notwithstanding
. In June 2016, having secured the nomination, Don Jr. gladly convened a Trump Tower confab with Russians who claimed to have dirt on Clinton. It didn’t produce any overt deal on collusion because it didn’t need to. Just days after Team Putin learned that Trump’s people were open to help and wouldn’t rat them out to the FBI, the flow of illegally hacked Democratic documents — the 21st-century version of breaking-and-entering at the Watergate — began. 
Now we know that Nader, on behalf of Saudi and UAE princes, came to Trump Tower about six weeks later with a similar deal. We don’t know to what extent, if any, that the Israeli ex-spy Zamel’s firm called Psy-Group — whose motto is “shape reality” — helped Trump. But it’s well known that Cambridge Analytica, owned by American hedge-fund billionaires Robert and Rebekah Mercer, was paid by the Trump campaign to do the same kind of psywar work. Just this week, whistleblower Christopher Wylie told a congressional committee that CA ran a voter-suppression effort aimed at convincing blacks to stay home on Nov. 8, 2016 — updating Selma for the digital age. Trump’s subsequent victory may have been the greatest moment of “shap(ing) reality” in world history.

Part 2: Cashing in the Chips. Winning the presidency should have been its own reward, but that’s not how the childish Gambinos now in charge of a global superpower conduct their family business
. As noted above, Russian oligarchs tied to Putin funneled millions to the Trump inauguration and one firm backed by a pro-Putin billionaire hired the president’s personal lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen, who was peddling his access to Trump all around Washington. You also have the curious activities of Nader (a peach of a fellow who’s been convicted of both child porn and child sex-abuse charges in the past), who helped a key Trump fund-raiser, Elliott Broidy (also a convicted felon and recent deputy finance chair of the Republican National Committee), win $200 million in UAE private security contracts. If Broidy’s name sounds familiar, he’s the guy who also funneled $1.6 million through fixer Cohento win the silence of a possibly impregnated Playboy model. Broidy said he had an affair with the woman. Some speculate a different scenario. Whether wheeler-dealers like the Nader-linked, UAE-funded Broidy were backing high-ranking people in the same fashion that Cohen paid off Trump mistress Stormy Daniels should be fertile ground for special counsel Robert Mueller. 
As long as Trump and Jared Kushner continue to hold onto their business holdings while leading U.S. foreign policy, this cloud will remain. Did Trump voice support last week for ending American sanctions on the Chinese telecom company ZTE Corp. because it would benefit their U.S. subcontractors, or because a Chinese fund is investing $500 million in an Indonesia theme park that should dramatically boost the value of a related Trump Organization development? Then there’s the matter of Qatar, because in recent months it has become clear that the Gulf state is again in the Trump administration’s good graces, and the strategic alliance has been renewed as if last spring’s blowup never happened. Is that because it’s a more sensible policy — or is it because a firm called Brookfield Asset Management that is backed heavily by Qatari funds is near a deal to bail out Kushner’s 666 Fifth Ave? Is it any wonder that so many longtime key allies of the United States wonder if they can trust Trump’s America? 
Part 3:The Big Payback. It’s impossible to dispute that these countries that made offers to help Trump win the election have continuously benefited in terms of policy — beginning as early as the summer of 2016, when Trump allies changed the GOP election platform to take a less confrontational stance toward Russia in its conflict with Ukraine. The determination not to impose new sanctions on Russia or, under great pressure, to announce largely toothless penalties — despite the clear-cut evidence that Russia meddled in our election — has been a continual storyline of the Trump presidency. 
The revelations about possible Saudi and UAE meddling take things to a much higher level. The Trump administration has walked in lock-step with the Saudis and their dynamic, de facto leader Prince Mohammad bin Salman (“MBS”), supporting the young prince’s so-called reform agenda that’s involved jailing and abusing his enemiesas well as advocates for women’s rights, 2017’s move on Qatar, and his brutal military campaign in Yemen, which has caused massive civilian casualties. People are dying because of policy decisions that are tainted by Trump corruption, and it may be getting worse. The anti-Iran agenda of the Saudis, UAE and Israel (which has close personaland business ties with Kushner) has hovered over Trump’s killing of the Iran nuclear deal, which not only makes it more likely that Iran will get the bomb more quickly but has dramatically ratcheted up tensions in the powder keg region
It never should have gotten to this point. The political pundits are still busy debating whether Trump impeachment is a good fall political strategy for the Democrats or a losing hand. But things have already moved way beyond that. If we’re at the point where we can tolerate soliciting foreign governments for help in a presidential election, using stolen data, reality-bending psychological warfare and voter suppression of blacks to win, a president and his son-in-law senior adviser profiting from deals while sitting in the White House, slush funds to pay off mistresses and God knows what else, and then making life-or-death decisions based on all of these utterly corrupt things, then the United States is not a country anymore. How much worse does the worst political scandal in American history have to get before the people who actually can do something wake up and do something?

As I've said, all possible roads to remedy the Trump problem begin with a Democratic-controlled Congress, otherwise Trump will continue to be enabled and defended by Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.  Should Republicans keep the House, Trump will be defended by the even worse Kevin McCarthy instead of Ryan.

And as Chuck Pierce says, this is now the Constitutional Crisis Moment™ we've been dreading.

The president* has proceeded to up the ante. Over the weekend, on the electric Twitter machine, he hereby demanded that the Department of Justice launch an investigation into whether or not the Obama administration had used the FBI to submarine his campaign, a contention that would be laughable if it weren’t so serious. (It appears that, rather than be accused of political shenanigans, the Bureau kept the investigation into the Trump campaign on the down-low, a consideration that was not afforded the campaign of Hillary Rodham Clinton.) 
This outburst was clearly designed to put the DOJ, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, into an impossible small-p-political position. (Rosenstein handed off the request to the DOJ’s inspector general, which was the smart rope-a-dope play under the circumstances.) More to the point, it brought the president* right to the brink of a serious constitutional cataclysm. He is hereby demanding that the DOJ conduct an investigation of a political rival for purely political purposes. This is what Nixon did. This is why John Mitchell went to federal prison. And it is right there, in the open, on the electric Twitter machine. The Watergate crowd at least had the common decency to use code names. 
Thus, the week begins ominously. We can only hope it ends the same way because, if it doesn’t, if there is not a constitutional crisis, ongoing and loud, at the end of the week, then we have determined through our system of government, and through our elected representatives, that we are willing to tolerate foreign bribes doled out to our president*’s pets, foreign sabotage of our national elections, and American foreign and domestic policy sold out to the highest grifter.

Ultimately, it's up to us to stop Trump and the GOP.  This week is now the beginning of the endgame, for better or for worse.  If, as Pierce warns, this week passes without the clarion call that something is badly wrong in our country, then we no longer have one.

There's always the very real chance that November will be far too late to do anything at this rate.  America may not survive another five months and change of Trump. The damage has already been phenomenal.  It's getting close to being fatal.

Trump took money from foreign powers to buy foreign policy in exchange for money, period.  He needs to go to prison, let alone be removed from office.  But this remains a political issue, not a criminal one.  And until that changes, Trump will remain in power.

The Dotard Strikes Back

Donald Trump doesn't like being made fun of, he has no tolerance for it, and after last week's move by North Korea to squeeze the US for more concessions on nuclear talks, Trump is finally realizing that he's been played from the beginning and is looking for a way out.

President Trump, increasingly concerned that his summit meeting in Singapore next month with North Korea’s leader could turn into a political embarrassment, has begun pressing his aides and allies about whether he should take the risk of proceeding with a historic meeting that he had leapt into accepting, according to administration and foreign officials.

Mr. Trump was both surprised and angered by a statement issued on Wednesday by the North’s chief nuclear negotiator, who declared that the country would never trade away its nuclear weapons capability in exchange for economic aid, administration officials said. The statement, while a highly familiar tactic by the North, represented a jarring shift in tone after weeks of conciliatory gestures.

On Thursday and Friday, Mr. Trump peppered aides with questions about the wisdom of proceeding, and on Saturday night he called President Moon Jae-in of South Korea to ask why the North’s public statement seemed to contradict the private assurances that Mr. Moon had conveyed after he met Kim Jong-un, the 35-year-old dictator of the North, at the Demilitarized Zone in late April.

The president’s conversation with Mr. Moon, which was first reported by The Washington Post, came just three days before the South Korean leader was scheduled to arrive in Washington to meet with Mr. Trump on Tuesday. It was a sign of Mr. Trump’s discomfort, some officials speculated, that he could not wait to discuss the issue until Mr. Moon arrived for his meetings here, though there is no indication that the president is considering pulling out of the North Korea talks.

Mr. Trump’s aides have grown concerned that the president — who has said that “everyone thinks” he deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts — has signaled that he wants the summit meeting too much. The aides also worry that Mr. Kim, sensing the president’s eagerness, is prepared to offer assurances that will fade over time.

Moreover, Mr. Trump’s decision this month to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal raises the stakes for the North Korea negotiation. If he emerges with anything less than what President Barack Obama got, which in Iran included the verified shipment of 97 percent of all nuclear material out of the country, it will be hard for Mr. Trump to convince anyone other than his base that the negotiation was a success.

This is a very polite way of saying that Trump has no idea what he's doing here, that he's in well over his head, and that when all of this is over he'll have nothing to show for it. Anyone could have told you that.

He'll be a loser and a failure. Again, common knowledge.

That's when things get ugly.  That too should come as no surprise when Trump eventually turns to military action and lashes out.

Stay tuned.


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