Monday, December 3, 2018

Last Call For Sore Losers, Inc.

Just like North Carolina Republicans and Pat McCrory did in the December 2016 lame duck session after Democrat Roy Cooper was elected, Wisconsin Republicans and Scott Walker are stripping power from incoming Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and giving it to the GOP legislature, and they're doing right now in Madison.

Wisconsin Republicans moved quickly Monday with a rare lame-duck session that would change the 2020 presidential primary date to benefit a conservative Supreme Court justice and weaken the newly elected Democratic governor and attorney general.

The changes being sought would shift power to the GOP-controlled Legislature and allow outgoing Republican Gov. Scott Walker to make one last major mark on the state’s political landscape after he lost re-election in November.

Republicans forged ahead despite threats of lawsuits, claims by Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers and others that they were trying to invalidate results of the November election and howls of protest from hundreds of people who showed up for a public hearing.

The lame-duck maneuvering in Wisconsin is similar to what Republicans did in North Carolina two years ago and is being discussed in Michigan before a Democratic governor takes over there.

Angry opponents filled the hallways of the Wisconsin Capitol, and the hearing room, banging on the doors and chanting “Respect our votes!” and “Shame!”

The protests, coming at the end of Walker’s eight years in office, were reminiscent of tumult that came shortly after he took office in 2011 and moved to end collective bargaining powers for public sector unions.

In addition to moving the primary date, the proposals would weaken the governor’s ability to put in place rules that enact state laws and shield the state jobs agency from his control.

Other measures would weaken the attorney general’s office by allowing Republican legislative leaders to intervene in cases and hire their own attorneys. A legislative committee, rather than the attorney general, would have to sign off on withdrawing from federal lawsuits. That would stop Evers and incoming Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul from fulfilling their campaign promises to withdraw Wisconsin from a multi-state lawsuit seeking repeal of the Affordable Care Act

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald downplayed concerns about what was being considered in the lame-duck session, saying “I don’t think it’s outrageous at all.”

“But listen, I’m concerned,” he said. “I think that governor-elect Evers is going to bring a liberal agenda to Wisconsin.”

Walker has been largely silent on what is being considered, voicing general support last month for moving the primary date. But Fitzgerald said Walker and his chief of staff had been deeply involved in crafting the measures.

Giving this state legislature, the most gerrymandered state legislature in America, in a state where Democrats won the majority of state assembly votes but Republicans control it 63-36, even more power is insanity bordering on an immoral destruction of representative democracy.

This is how Scott Walker chooses to go out.  Only power matters to Republicans, and they will use it against the people until the people remove them.  And please note, the Supreme Court passed on hearing the lawsuits against this gerrymandering, in what will probably be a permanent Republican control of the state's lawmakers.

It should be criminal, but in the era of Trump, this is who the GOP is.

Meat The Press, Con't

Over the weekend, Trump regime Secretary of State Mike Pompeo once again picked a fight with the CIA, declaring that there was "no direct evidence" of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's involvement in the murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo doubled down Saturday on the United States' support for Saudi Arabia and declined to comment on a CIA assessment that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman was involved in journalist Jamal Khashoggi's murder. 
In an exclusive interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer on the sidelines of the G20 summit, Pompeo again noted a lack of direct evidence linking bin Salman to Khashoggi's murder. 
"I have read every piece of intelligence that's in the possession of the United States government," Pompeo said. "And when it is done, when you complete that analysis, there's no direct evidence linking him to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. That is a accurate statement, it is an important statement, and it is a statement that we are making publicly today." 
When asked if the CIA has a high confidence of the de facto Saudi leader's involvement, Pompeo told CNN, "I can't comment on intelligence matters."

Today the CIA decided to make Pompeo look like the fool he is.

The C.I.A. has evidence that Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, communicated repeatedly with a key aide around the time that a team believed to have been under the aide’s command assassinated Jamal Khashoggi, according to former officials familiar with the intelligence.

The adviser, Saud al-Qahtani, topped the list of Saudis who were targeted by American sanctions last month over their suspected involvement in the killing of Mr. Khashoggi. American intelligence agencies have evidence that Prince Salman and Mr. Qahtani had 11 exchanges that roughly coincided with the hit team’s advance into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, where Mr. Khashoggi was murdered.

The exchanges are a key piece of information that helped solidify the C.I.A.’s assessment that the crown prince ordered the killing of Mr. Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and Virginia resident who had been critical of the Saudi government.

“This is the smoking gun, or at least the smoking phone call,” said Bruce Riedel, a former C.I.A. official now at the Brookings Institution. “There is only one thing they could possibly be talking about. This shows that the crown prince was witting of premeditated murder.”

Honestly, Pompeo should have known better.  The man was Trump's CIA Director in 2017 before taking over State for the departed and unmissed Rex Tillerson in April 2018.  If anyone in the Trump regime (besides current CIA head Gina "I love torture" Haspel) should be aware of what the CIA is capable of doing when it comes to backing up public analysis that something happened abroad, it's Pompeo, and he jumped directly on this land mine anyway.

I guess the guy's not that bright, because at this point pretty much every other foreign intelligence agency is 100% convinced that the Crown Prince ordered Khashoggi's murder too.  Pompeo must have known that the CIA would have leaked existence of a smoking gun to the press within a day or two, and that's exactly what happened.

This will not end well for the Saudis, or for Pompeo, frankly.

Meet The New GOP, Same As The Old GOP

Incoming House freshman Republican Ross Spano of Florida is already facing campaign finance violations before even taking office, because apparently Republicans are so utterly corrupt that they hit the ground running already lawyered up for federal investigations.

Newly elected congressman Ross Spano has acknowledged that his campaign financing "may have been in violation" of federal law.

In a filing with the Federal Elections Commission which Spano released publicly Saturday afternoon, he acknowledged borrowing $180,000 from two people he has described as personal friends from June through October this year, and then lending his campaign $167,000 in roughly the same time period.

When he made the loans to his campaign, Spano said on campaign finance reports that the money came from his "personal funds."

But under federal campaign finance law, a loan made to a candidate with the intent of providing money for a campaign must be considered a campaign contribution, not the candidate's personal funds.

Any such loan must adhere to campaign contribution limits — $2,700 each for the primary and general elections, far less than the loans Spano acknowledges having received.

Several election law experts have said that if Spano's loans to his campaign came from money from money borrowed from friends, it appears to violate campaign finance law.

The purpose of the law, those experts said, is to prevent one or more wealthy individuals from single-handedly financing a candidate for office.

At the time of the loans, Spano "believed he was acting in full compliance with the law" as did the two lenders, "based on the consultations they had at the time," stated a letter to the Commission that was released Saturday afternoon.

But the letter, written by attorney Elliott Berke of Washington, said Spano and the lenders "now recognize that some of the proceeds from the personal loans … may have been in violation of the Federal Campaign Finance Act."

Berke said in the letter that he was submitting it on behalf of Spano and the two people who gave Spano the loans, retiree Karen Hunt of Plant City and businessman Cary Carreno of Valrico.

Spano, currently a state House member from Dover, is himself a lawyer who specializes in wills and probate law.

Spano's Democratic opponent in the congressional District 15 election, Kristen Carlson, has asked for a federal investigation of whether Spano illegally funded his campaign.

So Spano took tens of thousands of dollars illegally, because I guess he's just bad at not getting caught.  A real Republican House veteran would have laundered that money through a political action committee or two, and then pulled a Duncan Hunter and would have gotten elected anyway.

Not even competent crooks, these Trump-era newbies.


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