Thursday, August 30, 2018

Last Call For (Red) Meat The Press, Con't

The FBI has rounded up a Trump supporter in California for threatening to kill Boston Globe newsroom employees, as Trump's war on the press rolls on through the "we shoot journalists, don't we?" phase.

The F.B.I. said on Thursday that it charged a California man who threatened to kill employees of The Boston Globe after calling them the “enemy of the people” in a series of menacing phone calls.

Robert D. Chain, 68, was arrested on Thursday at his home in Encino, Calif. The F.B.I. said Mr. Chain owned several firearms and had recently purchased a small-caliber rifle.

According to federal documents, Mr. Chain began calling The Boston Globe immediately after the newspaper announced on Aug. 10 that it would publish a coordinated editorial response to political attacks on the media. Prosecutors said the threats were in retaliation for The Globe’s leadership in the editorial campaign.

In one call to the paper’s newsroom, Mr. Chain threatened to shoot the newspaper’s employees in the head, the F.B.I. said. Three days later, in another call, Mr. Chain said: “You’re the enemy of the people.” Using profane language, he threatened to kill “every” Globe employee.

Mr. Trump has embraced the phrase “enemy of the people.” Media executives have decried the expression, believing it a dangerous assault on the First Amendment, warning that it could trigger acts of violence among the president’s most ardent supporters in the United States and embolden authoritarian political movements overseas.

On Thursday, the president once again used the phrase.

I mean we've already got to the point where the leader of the country is cheering on the butchery of adversarial press.  This guy was caught because he was noisy and stupid.  When the next newsroom is shot up, and it's going to happen sooner rather than later, Trump will ignore it, the press will continue to be nice to him because they don't want to lose "access" to the White House, and more journalists will die.

It's not a matter of if, or even when, but of how many dead reporters it's going to take before America's news organizations realize their survival is at stake in much more than a metaphorical sense.

Puerto Rico And Other Trump Disasters

After almost a year, the official death toll in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria has been raised to a staggering 2,975 casualties, topping 9/11 and far outstripping the death toll of Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast.  Donald Trump still insists the government did a good job however.

President Donald Trump lauded the U.S. response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico last year just a day after the commonwealth said almost 3,000 people died from the storm.

“I think we did a fantastic job in Puerto Rico,” Trump told reporters Wednesday at the White House in response to a question about the new death tally. “Puerto Rico had a lot of difficulties before it got hit, and we’re straightening out those difficulties even now.”

Trump’s upbeat assessment of the disaster appears to have changed little from October 2017, when the official death toll was just 16 people. At that time, Trump compared the storm’s damage to the 1,833 people who were killed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Katrina became a millstone for then-President George W. Bush, who had praised his administration’s response before the true toll was known.

Puerto Rico’s revised death toll from Hurricane Maria -- 2,975 people -- was released Tuesday in a study that the commonwealth had commissioned from researchers at George Washington University. The study is based on researchers’ analysis of excess deaths that took place in Puerto Rico between September 2017 and February 2018. Another report to Congress earlier this month found there were 1,427 more deaths in the four months after Maria than was typical over the comparable four months in the previous four years.

“This is unprecedented devastation,” Governor Ricardo Rossello said Tuesday. Trump praised Rossello on Wednesday for his cooperation with Washington, calling him “an excellent guy” who is “very happy with the job we’ve done.”

Responding to Trump’s assessment of his administration’s handling of storm damage, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, who has been consistently critical of Trump’s response, said on MSNBC that the 2,975 deaths "will follow him wherever he goes for the rest of his life."

It won't, because of another much larger number: 62,984,828.

The number of Americans who voted for Trump in 2016, despite his racism.

The number of Puerto Ricans who get to vote for President?


Hey, in other news, FEMA employees and two million other federal workers just got their pay raises canceled.  All of them.  Because of the "nation's fiscal situation".

President Donald Trump is canceling across-the-board pay raises for civilian workers across the federal government, citing the “nation’s fiscal situation.”

“We must maintain efforts to put our nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases,” the president wrote in a letter Thursday to congressional leaders.

Under Trump’s policy, roughly 1.8 million people won't get an automatic pay boost next year, including Border Patrol and ICE agents.

Most civilian workers were slated to receive 2.1 percent increase under a years-old government formula. But the president argues that pay raises should be tied to “performance,” rather than “across-the-board” increases.

The administration’s stance sets up a funding fight with the Senate, which has already backed a 1.9 percent pay raise for civilian federal employees this year.

But we could afford a trillion dollars in tax cuts for America's wealthiest and corporations making record profits, right?


It's Mueller Time, Con't

Yesterday's announcement of the coming departure of White House Counsel Don McGahn as a prelude to the firing of Jeff Sessions, Rod Rosenstein, and Robert Mueller is far worse than we originally thought.

President Trump’s advisers and allies are increasingly worried that he has neither the staff nor the strategy to protect himself from a possible Democratic takeover of the House, which would empower the opposition party to shower the administration with subpoenas or even pursue impeachment charges

Within Trump’s orbit, there is consensus that his current legal team is not equipped to effectively navigate an onslaught of congressional demands, and there has been broad discussion about bringing on new lawyers experienced in white-collar defense and political scandals.

The president and some of his advisers have discussed possibly adding veteran defense attorney Abbe Lowell, who currently represents Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, to Trump’s personal legal team if an impeachment battle or other fights with Congress emerge after the midterm elections, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Trump advisers also are discussing recruiting experienced legal firepower to the Office of White House Counsel, which is facing departures and has dwindled in size at a critical juncture. The office has about 25 lawyers now, down from roughly 35 earlier in the presidency, according to a White House official with direct knowledge.

Trump announced Wednesday that Donald McGahn will depart as White House counsel this fall, once the Senate confirms Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh. Three of McGahn’s deputies — Greg Katsas, Uttam Dhillon and Makan Delrahim — have departed, and a fourth, Stefan Passantino, will have his last day Friday. That leaves John Eisenberg, who handles national security, as the lone deputy counsel.

Trump recently has consulted his personal attorneys about the likelihood of impeachment proceedings. And McGahn and other aides have invoked the prospect of impeachment to persuade the president not to take actions or behave in ways that they believe would hurt him, officials said.

To recap, McGahn is leaving, and four of the five deputy counsels are going to be gone by the end of the week.  Trump doesn't care about the situation, because he figures as soon as Kavanaugh is confirmed, the game is over.

He will have five SCOTUS votes to end everything against him, if not a decision to protect himself from any state cases as well. Even with a Democratic House, we're not far off from the kind of one-semi-permanent party rule we're currently seeing in places like Poland and Hungary.

In both countries the ruling parties — Law and Justice in Poland, Fidesz in Hungary — have established regimes that maintain the forms of popular elections, but have destroyed the independence of the judiciary, suppressed freedom of the press, institutionalized large-scale corruption and effectively delegitimized dissent. The result seems likely to be one-party rule for the foreseeable future.

And it could all too easily happen here. There was a time, not long ago, when people used to say that our democratic norms, our proud history of freedom, would protect us from such a slide into tyranny. In fact, some people still say that. But believing such a thing today requires willful blindness. The fact is that the Republican Party is ready, even eager, to become an American version of Law and Justice or Fidesz, exploiting its current political power to lock in permanent rule.

It will come much closer when Trump shuts down justice.  Oh, and speaking of justice, it seems George Papadopoulos is sticking with his plea deal with Mueller after all.

Stay tuned however.  Things are moving quickly now.


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