Sunday, March 31, 2019

Last Call For Border Line Insanity, Con't

Donald Trump has threatened to close the southern border with Mexico several times in the last year over what he sees as President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's "failure" to stop undocumented immigration, but this time he really really means it you guys.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Sunday that President Donald Trump is serious about possibly closing the U.S.-Mexico border this week.

“It certainly isn’t a bluff. You can take the president seriously," she said on "Fox News Sunday," adding, Congress "can fix this."

"Congress can fix the problem of immigration that they’ve failed to fix. This president is looking at the metrics," she said, adding the U.S. has "never seen a surge" in immigration "like this."

On Friday, Trump said “there’s a very good likelihood” he would close the southern border this week.

"Mexico is going to have to do something, otherwise I’m closing the border," Trump said.
"I’ll just close the border," he added. "When you close the border, also you will stop a lot of the drugs from coming in."

She also defended the president's decision to cut off aid to the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Trump has claimed the governments of those countries had "set up" migrant caravans for entry into the United States.

"We need to send a message," Conway said.

It's a bluff and everyone knows it.  Closing the border with Mexico would cost the country billions in trade dollars a day and Republicans in Congress aren't about to put up with that.  Trump has already blown a hole in the side of the US economy with his tariffs.  Closing the border with Mexico would only make things worse.

And speaking of making things worse...

Taking drastic action over illegal immigration, President Donald Trump moved Saturday to cut direct aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, whose citizens are fleeing north and overwhelming U.S. resources at the southern border.

The State Department notified Congress that it would look to suspend 2017 and 2018 payments to the trio of nations, which have been home to some of the migrant caravans that have marched through Mexico to the U.S. border.

Amplified by conservative media, Trump has turned the caravans into the symbol of what he says are the dangers of illegal immigration — a central theme of his midterm campaigning last fall. With the special counsel’s Russia probe seemingly behind him, Trump has revived his warnings of the caravans’ presence.

Trump also has returned to a previous threat he never carried out — closing the border with Mexico. He brought up that possibility on Friday and revisited it in tweets Saturday, blaming Democrats and Mexico for problems at the border and beyond despite warnings that a closed border could create economic havoc on both sides.

“It would be so easy to fix our weak and very stupid Democrat inspired immigration laws,” Trump tweeted Saturday. “In less than one hour, and then a vote, the problem would be solved. But the Dems don’t care about the crime, they don’t want any victory for Trump and the Republicans, even if good for USA!′

If Republicans wanted to fix immigration, they could have done it at any time when they controlled the House, Senate, and White House in 2017 and 2018.  They chose not to.

But it's the Democrats' fault?


The Crown Prince, The King Of Amazon, And The Orange Jester

So it turns out that Jeff Bezos's affair wasn't just blabbed by his mistress's brother to the National Enquirer after all, but instead it was all part of a Saudi operation to destroy Bezos for the Washington Post's coverage of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman's ordering of the murder of Post reporter and Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi. This information comes directly from Bezos's lead investigator on the matter, Gavin de Becker, who took to The Daily Beast to spill the beans.

I’m writing this today because it’s exactly what the Enquirer scheme was intended to prevent me from doing. Their contract also contained terms that would have inhibited both me and Bezos from initiating a report to law enforcement.

Things didn’t work out as they hoped.

When the terms for avoiding publication of personal photos were presented to Jeff Bezos, he responded immediately: “No thank you.” Within hours, he wrote an essay describing his reasons for rejecting AMI’s threatening proposal. Then he posted it all on Medium, including AMI’s actual emails and their salacious descriptions of private photos. (After the Medium post, AMI put out a limp statement saying it “believed fervently that it acted lawfully in the reporting of the story of Mr. Bezos.”)

The issues Bezos raised in his Medium post have nothing whatsoever to do with Michael Sanchez, any more than revealing the name of a low-level Watergate burglar sheds light on the architects of the Watergate cover-up. Bezos was not expressing concerns about the Enquirer’s original story; he was focused on what he called “extortion and blackmail.”

Next, Bezos directed me to “spend whatever is needed” to learn who may have been complicit in the scheme, and why they did it.

That investigation is now complete. As has been reported elsewhere, my results have been turned over to federal officials. Since it is now out of my hands, I intend today’s writing to be my last public statement on the matter. Further, to respect officials pursuing this case, I won’t disclose details from our investigation. I am, however, comfortable confirming one key fact:

Our investigators and several experts concluded with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos’ phone, and gained private information. As of today, it is unclear to what degree, if any, AMI was aware of the details.
We did not reach our conclusions lightly. The inquiry included a broad array of resources: investigative interviews with current and former AMI executives and sources, extensive discussions with top Middle East experts in the intelligence community, leading cyber security experts who have tracked Saudi spyware, discussions with current and former advisers to President Trump, Saudi whistleblowers, people who personally know the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (also known as MBS), people who work with his close associate Saud al-Qahtani, Saudi dissidents, and other targets of Saudi action, including writer/activist Iyad el-Baghdadi.

Experts with whom we consulted confirmed New York Times reports on the Saudi capability to “collect vast amounts of previously inaccessible data from smartphones in the air without leaving a trace—including phone calls, texts, emails”—and confirmed that hacking was a key part of the Saudi’s “extensive surveillance efforts that ultimately led to the killing of [Washington Post] journalist Jamal Khashoggi.”

Some Americans will be surprised to learn that the Saudi government has been very intent on harming Jeff Bezos since last October, when the Post began its relentless coverage of Khashoggi’s murder. The Saudi campaign against Bezos has already been reported by CNN International, Bloomberg, The Daily Beast, and others.

Saudi Arabia attacks people in many ways, obviously, including through their elaborate social media program that uses sophisticated technology and paid surrogates to create artificially trending hashtags. To give you an idea of how this program has infected the U.S., the New York Times reported that the Saudis even had an operative inside Twitter, which fired the suspect employee, and later advised select activists and others that “your Twitter account is one of a small group of accounts that may have been targeted by state-sponsored actors.”

In October, the Saudi government unleashed its cyber army on Bezos (and later me). Their multi-pronged campaign included public calls for boycotts against and its Saudi subsidiary, Just three examples among thousands:

“We as Saudis will never accept to be attacked by the Washington Post in the morning, only to buy products from Amazon and by night! Strange that all three companies are owned by the same Jew who attacks us by day, and sells us products by night!”
“Our weapon is to boycott… because the owner of the newspaper is the same as their owner.”

We're after you - the Jew, worshipper of money, will go bankrupt by the will of God at the hands of Saudi Arabia... the owner of Amazon and Souq is the owner of the Washington Post is the spiteful Jew who insults us every day.”

Bezos is not Jewish, but you get the point.

We studied the well-documented and close relationship between MBS and AMI chairman, David Pecker. That alliance includes David Pecker bringing MBS intermediary Kacy Grine to a private White House meeting with President Trump and Jared Kushner. Mr. Pecker has also traveled to Saudi Arabia to meet with the Crown Prince. Though we don’t know what was discussed in those private meetings, AMI’s actions afterwards are telling. To coincide with MBS’ March 2018 U.S. tour, AMI created a 100-page, ad-free, glossy magazine called The New Kingdom. Since MBS wasn’t yet a notorious figure in the West (this was before the murder of Jamal Khashoggi), AMI’s magazine introduced him to Americans as “the most influential Arab leader—transforming the world at 32,” and “improving lives of his people & hopes for peace.”

The Associated Press reported that AMI sent an advance digital copy of their laudatory magazine to the Saudi Embassy three weeks before printing and distributing 200,000 issues. (Despite AP’s substantial forensic evidence, the kingdom denied it received the magazine’s content in advance. While we’re on denials, the kingdom says Saudi Arabia had nothing to with the Bezos matter. The kingdom also says MBS had nothing whatsoever to do with the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.)

When AMI publicly insisted that nobody outside of their executives and editors “had any influence on this publication or its content,” I guess they meant other than Kacy Grine, the very same MBS-intermediary Pecker had brought to The White House. I say that because AMI soon had to disclose to the Department of Justice National Security Division that their mystery magazine included content written by Grine, and that they also gave him the whole working draft for advance review, and that he suggested changes, and that they implemented his changes, and that he provided better photographs of MBS. With friends like AMI, you don’t need… publicists.

My firm has done many investigations into Enquirer misconduct, including one that became the subject of a 60 Minutesinvestigative piece way back in 1990. Before then, tabloids had been seen as almost funny publications, mixing celebrity gossip with space aliens and Elvis sightings. But when the Enquirer’s on-again-off-again relationship with the truth percolated into politics, it wasn’t so funny anymore.

Though relatively benign at first (“Al Gore’s Diet Is Making Him Stupid”), the Trump/Pecker relationship has metastasized: In effect, the Enquirer became an enforcement arm of the Trump presidential campaign, and presidency, as the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York laid out in its case against Michael Cohen, who has pleaded guilty. The U.S. Attorney has done the country a service by levying extensive controls on AMI, David Pecker, and his deputy Dylan Howard, through a non-prosecution agreement that requires them to commit no other crimes for three years, and requires everyone at AMI to attend annual training on federal election laws. I’m guessing that’s not how they used to spend their time.

If de Becker's information is solid -- and there's every reason to believe it is -- then we have a foreign operation against a US citizen in order to wreck his life in revenge for his newspaper publishing the truth about the Saudi Crown Prince's murderous ways.

And if you think the Trump Justice Department is going to lift a finger to investigate this, I have my own newspaper to sell you.  Hell, there's even odds that Trump knew about this beforehand and tacitly gave his permission.  Trump despises Jeff Bezos for the same Washington Post that prints the truth about Trump.

Again, this is what autocrats do.  I think there may have even been a quid pro quo here, Trump covers MBS on Khashoggi's murder (and you notice that months later our relationship with the Saudis hasn't changed one bit) and in return, MBS exposes Bezos's affair, which did destroy his marriage and his soon-to-be ex-wife Mackenzie is walking away with $70 billion of Bezos's fortune.

You tell me who won in this mess, because it sure looks like to me that MBS and Trump are getting away with this.

Sunday Long Read: A Volunteer Detective

Barack Obama was arguably the best President in recent history when it came to Native issues.  He actually gave a damn about a section of America that is ignored to the point of criminal neglect under Donald Trump.  The death of Olivia Kerry Lone Bear rocked the Fort Berthold reservation in North Dakota, and it took an amateur sleuth named Lissa Yellowbird-Chase to find her body, when the police had completely given up.

On a blazing hot day in late July, Lissa Yellowbird-Chase drove her black SUV, license plate "SEARCH", to a muddy landing on Lake Sakakawea. It was a remote entrance to the water on the northern edge of the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota - not much more than a rickety dock at the end of an uneven gravel road.

Hitched to the back of Yellowbird-Chase's truck was a 14-foot boat with a half-broken motor and a set of fishing sonar. By her own admission, she was not a particularly skilled or experienced boater, nor an expert in sonar. But she had a plan.

Along with a couple of volunteers from her group, the Sahnish Scouts of North Dakota, they would motor along the shoreline of the bay, scanning the lakebed for anomalies, moving further and further away from the shore with each pass. They would keep going until Yellowbird-Chase satisfied the nagging feeling she'd had about this spot for months.

"I don't know what it was - I was drawn to that place," she recalled later. "I actually stood in that bay last fall."

Nine months earlier, in the autumn of 2017, a young mother of five named Olivia Kerri Lone Bear vanished from New Town, a tiny oil-boom city on the Fort Berthold Reservation. The 32-year-old was last seen on 24 October, at the wheel of a teal-coloured Chevy Silverado pick-up truck that she often borrowed from a friend. She was a caretaker for her father, and the following day, he found her wallet and mobile phone at his home.

Since then, the Lone Bear family had been searching for Olivia in vain. Yellowbird-Chase joined the effort along with the Sahnish Scouts, a group she founded in 2015 to search and recover missing people in Indian Country - though she had been doing the work on her own since about 2011.

"PLEASE SHARE," she posted on Facebook five days after Olivia disappeared, alongside a missing poster with telephone numbers for the Lone Bear family and her own personal mobile number. "You can remain anonymous."

In the weeks that followed, large groups of volunteers fanned out across the 1-million acre reservation on foot, and on all-terrain vehicles. Her family took over a tribal government building and established a search headquarters with a tipline, which they manned every day for months. Reported sightings came from as far away as California and Arizona.

But once the tundra-like North Dakota winter set in, all search efforts - aside from keeping the phone line open - had to be suspended until spring. The lake froze over, sealing itself under a thick crust of ice.

By July, when Yellowbird-Chase pushed out in her boat, summer was in its full height, and the waters were wide open.

She tried not to get excited when, a few hundred feet from the shore, her sonar picked up a rectangular object on what should have been the blank, featureless lakebed. In the early 1950s, the US Army Corps of Engineers dammed the Missouri River and created Lake Sakakawea, flooding farmland that belonged to the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara tribes, and swallowing towns whole. The anomaly she saw on the screen could be nothing more than an old building foundation or a chimney, she thought.

till, she took a photo and texted it to Keith Cormican, a technical diver and certified underwater sonar operator in Wisconsin. While Yellowbird-Chase was a sonar novice, she considered Cormican her "mentor" - his organisation Bruce's Legacy has located and recovered 27 drowning victims since 2013.

"I knew she had a vehicle," he recalled.

He texted back that she should keep taking scans at different times of day, to catch shadows coming off the object that would give it better definition.

After days of obsessively motoring back and forth over the same spot, and struggling with their broken motor, Yellowbird-Chase texted a new image to Corey Bristol, the then-chief deputy of the Mountrail County Sheriff's Office. It was a Saturday, and Bristol was 70 miles away, spending his day off with his father. But when he looked down at his phone and saw a pixellated image featuring what looked like a tiny Tonka truck at the centre, he jumped in his car and accelerated back towards New Town.

"We definitely wanted to find out what was down there," he said.

It was indeed Olivia Kerry Lone Bear's body.  The crime has not been solved, because the system in place absolutely favors non-Native suspects, who get regular police proceedings.  But when the victim is Native, a broken and overloaded system takes over and the gathering of evidence and even determining if there's a body can take years.

And the cases die.

It's Mueller Time, Con't

America's opinion on the Mueller probe has taken a stark partisan spin in the last few weeks, with Democrats nowhere near satisfied with Bill Barr's four-page summary.

Americans are split over whether House Democrats should continue to investigate President Trump after special counsel Robert S. Mueller III made no determination about whether he attempted to obstruct justice during the inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election, a Washington Post-Schar School poll finds.

The division marks a clear break from public support for Russia-related investigations at the start of the year, when an overall majority supported House Democrats’ efforts to examine whether Trump’s subordinates conspired with Russia as well as Trump’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Six House panels are digging into aspects of Trump’s campaign, his finances and his efforts to discredit Mueller’s inquiry as a “witch hunt,” while they wrestle with Attorney General William P. Barr for access to Mueller’s full report and the underlying evidence that informed his conclusions. Mueller did not find that Trump or his campaign conspired with Russia in 2016.

An overwhelming 83 percent say the Mueller report should be made public in its entirety, and 57 percent say Barr — who described some of Mueller’s principal findings in a letter to Congress this month — has not released enough details about the report.

The Post-Schar School national poll, conducted Tuesday through Friday, underscores how much the political dynamics surrounding Mueller’s report have changed between when it was a work in progress and its completion just over one week ago.

Nearly 8 in 10 Republicans say they feel “satisfied” with the investigation’s conclusions, a strikingly positive assessment for a group that widely disapproved of Mueller’s handling of the investigation just last month.

Among Democrats, who long expressed faith in Mueller during the inquiry, 53 percent now say they are disappointed with its conclusions. And while most still approve of Mueller’s efforts, more than 6 in 10 Democrats do not accept his finding on whether Trump conspired with Russia.

Over the course of Mueller’s 22-month investigation, and as the special counsel racked up indictments of individuals in Trump’s inner circle, many Democrats in public office had expressed confidence that the inquiry would reveal something crippling about Trump, and were as shocked as once-skeptical Republicans were elated when Barr delivered Mueller’s principal conclusions.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the end of the investigation has done little to shake partisans’ convictions about Trump’s guilt or innocence. A 76 percent majority of Democrats thinks Trump committed serious wrongdoing related to Russian election interference or the investigation that followed, including nearly two-thirds who say he committed a crime. Separately, 8 in 10 Democrats think Trump tried to hinder the Russia investigation and committed obstruction of justice in the process.

Barr is in the process of redacting and editing the Mueller report as we speak.  We will *never* get the full report in our lifetimes.  It's why he was appointed.

I wish people would understand that.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Last Call For Enemies Of The People

Senate Republicans are now signaling that they will spend the next two years investigating Obama officials as traitors to Dear Leader Trump in order to exact revenge for the Mueller probe.

Republicans are setting their sights on top Obama-era officials as they plan their own probe into the 2016 election. 
Eager to move on from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference and the Trump campaign, GOP senators are gearing up to investigate the investigators. The idea is gaining traction with the Republican caucus, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell(Ky.). 
Mueller’s report hasn’t been released yet, but Republicans have seized on a four-page letter from Attorney General William Barr that summarized key conclusions of the two-year probe, including that Mueller "did not establish" that President Trump or members of his campaign coordinated or colluded with Moscow in its election interference. 
"Republicans believe that the FBI and [Department of Justice] — the top people — took the law in their own hands because they wanted [Hillary] Clinton to win and Trump to lose," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said during an interview with Fox News’s Neil Cavuto as part of a media blitz discussing his plans for an investigation. 
He said that he will be looking at "abuse" of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant application process and the counterintelligence operation into Trump’s campaign, adding that "there will be a lot of inquiry as to how this all happened." 
GOP senators are already naming former officials who would be at the top of their lists to question, including former FBI Director James Comey and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch. 
"The Judiciary Committee has primary jurisdiction and doing oversight of the Department of Justice and the FBI, and so that ... is something we need to do. Trying to find out how this thing got off the rails and hopefully prevent it from happening again," said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a member of the Judiciary Committee.

Cornyn rattled off a list of Obama-era officials he would want to speak with, including Lynch, former CIA Director John Brennan, and former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, but he homed in on Comey. 
"I think Director Comey is probably near the top. He’s the one who said that his intention of leaking memos of his conversation was designed to prompt the appointment of a special counsel. It just strikes me as some vindictiveness and animus toward the president motivating a lot of the action," Cornyn said. 
Graham, who earlier this month teased that he wants to bring in Comey, added that the former official would be called to publicly testify and "will answer for your time as FBI director." 

Expect the next 20 months or more to be endless Senate investigations in order to "prove" Democrats are traitors and enemies of the people who must be "dealt with".  They won't stop until they can lock up Clinton, Obama, and everyone involved in them.

It's now about vengeance.

The Adventures Of Pete's Dragon

Like me, Paul Waldman is pretty goddamn tired of Democrats telling us that the problem in America is Democrats don't understand Trump voters, and nobody's been more guilty of that in the short 2020 campaign season so far then South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

If you thought we were past the tiresome “How can Democrats appeal to Trump-loving Trump voters in Trump Country?” conversation, I’m going to disappoint you. And I’d like to use some recent comments from South Bend, Ind., Mayor and presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg to illustrate how problematic the discussion among Democrats is when it comes to thinking about different areas of the country and what kind of people live where.

Buttigieg was in the coastal enclave of San Francisco when he gave a radio interview that included this:

There are some folks I encounter here who seem to have trouble believing that things like Trump voters actually exist. And so I feel sometimes like I’m an emissary from the middle of the country, just pointing out that things look a little bit different in rural communities, industrial communities like mine, and that we really need to find ways to knit this picture back together into one America.
There’s a bit more to the discussion, but it goes on in that vein. Buttigieg’s intentions are good, since he wants to promote mutual understanding and common purpose. But he frames the problem as one that stems from condescending liberals who don’t sufficiently appreciate the lives and perspectives of people in the Midwest. In other words, the divide that exists is the fault of liberals alone. If they could just do more to understand the people who wind up voting for someone like Donald Trump, that would be the path to achieving unity.

I have a crazy dream that goes like this. After a whole bunch of think pieces asking why Republicans are so contemptuous toward components of the Democratic base — let’s say African Americans — a Republican contender for president starts telling his party that they have to change the way they think, feel and talk. “For too long, members of my party have treated African Americans with scorn,” he’d tell an interviewer. “But as someone who has spent time in those communities, let me explain how they see the state of our country, and why we need to find ways to meet them where they live. Republicans are out of touch and that has to change.”

Of course, a Republican presidential candidate would never say that, because a Republican presidential candidate would never criticize his own party's voters
. They're happy to disrespect and insult Democratic voters and the places where they live, but they will testify that their own base is made up of only the most worthy of Americans, hailing from the small towns and rural areas where all virtue finds its true home.

And for the love of god he's right.  Can you imagine what would happen if a Republican said "We need to do a better job of understanding black voters" or "Latino voters" or "Asian voters" or "LGBTQ voters" because "We've treated them as less than American and less than human"

I'm tired of guys like Buttigieg saying I have to bow to a party that wants to strip me of everything.

He's going to have a really hard time in the primaries and deservedly so.

Jussie-fied By The Circumstances, Con't

The villain being portrayed by the right on the Jussie Smollett case is Cook County Prosecutor Kim Foxx, multiple Chicago cops, the state bar association, Republicans ranging from local to Donald Trump want her strung up.  Last night Foxx hit back at her critics in the Chicago Tribune to explain why the case was dropped.

There was considerable evidence, uncovered in large part due to the investigative work of the Chicago Police Department, suggesting that portions of Smollett’s claims may have been untrue and that he had direct contact with his so-called attackers. Claims by Smollett or others that the outcome of this case has “exonerated” him or that he has been found innocent are simply wrong. He has not been exonerated; he has not been found innocent.

Falsely reporting any crime is itself a crime; falsely reporting a hate crime is so much worse, and I condemn in the strongest possible way anyone who does that. Falsely reporting a hate crime causes immeasurable harm to the victims of actual crimes, whether because they are less likely to be believed or, worse, because they are afraid to report their crimes in the first place for fear of not being believed.

So, why isn’t Smollett in prison or at least on trial? There are two different answers to this, both equally important.

First, the law. There were specific aspects of the evidence and testimony presented to the office that would have made securing a conviction against Smollett uncertain. In determining whether or not to pursue charges, prosecutors are required to balance the severity of the crime against the likelihood of securing a conviction. For a variety of reasons, including public statements made about the evidence in this case, my office believed the likelihood of securing a conviction was not certain.

In the interest of full transparency, I would prefer these records be made public. However, in this case, Illinois law allows defendants in certain circumstances to request that public records remain sealed. Smollett chose to pursue that avenue, and so my office is barred from releasing those records without his approval.

Another key factor is that the crime here was a Class 4 felony, the least serious category, which also covers things like falsely pulling a fire alarm in school and “draft card mutilation.” These felonies are routinely resolved, particularly in cases involving suspects with no prior criminal record, long before a case ever nears a courtroom and often without either jail time or monetary penalties. Any prosecutor, law-enforcement leader or elected official not grandstanding or clouded by political expediency understands the purpose of sentencing guidelines.
But more important than the dispassionate legal justification, there was another reason that I believe our decision not to prosecute the case was the right one.

Yes, falsely reporting a hate crime makes me angry, and anyone who does that deserves the community’s outrage. But, as I’ve said since before I was elected, we must separate the people at whom we are angry from the people of whom we are afraid. I am angry at anyone who falsely reports a crime. I am afraid when I see a little girl shot dead while sitting on her mother’s lap. I am afraid when I see a CPD commander slain by a four-time felon who was walking the streets. I am also afraid when I see CPD resources used to initially cover up the shooting death of Laquan McDonald.
I was elected on a promise to rethink the justice system, to keep people out of prison who do not pose a danger to the community. I promised to spend my office’s finite resources on the most serious crimes in order to create communities that are both safer and fairer.

Our community is safer in every sense of the word when murderers and rapists are locked away. But we can’t allow fearmongers to devalue the tremendous progress we’ve made in the last year. Since taking office, I’ve sought to employ alternative prosecutions, diversions, alternate outcomes and other forms of smart justice, and it has been working — violent crime in Chicago is down overall. In addition to the benefits of smart justice on recidivism and keeping families together, it also creates bandwidth for my office to dedicate more resources to combating not only truly violent crimes but also the opioid crisis, holding big banks accountable for their actions, protecting consumers from data breaches and other critical work.

So, the decision to seal the case was Smollett's, and it was his right to do so.  And yes, the prosecutor made the call that the conviction could not be gotten because the Chicago PD has screwed up again.

Just as I suspected.

Foxx will be shredded for this and will almost certainly lose her job, as there are very powerful angry white men who want her head on a wall and Smollett's too.

We'll see.

Corporate Citizenship Comes At A Cost

Dick's Sporting Goods started restricting the sales of firearms after the killer at the Parkland school massacre used weapons from their store.  The sales restrictions have cost the company a healthy chunk of change, but the CEO says that it's worth the cost.

Last February, when Dick’s Sporting Goods boss Ed Stack announced he was restricting gun sales at the country’s largest sports retailer, he knew it’d be costly.

At the time, Dick’s was a major seller of firearms. Guns also drove the sale of soft goods—boots, hats, jackets. What’s more, Stack, the retailer's chief executive officer, suspected the position could drive off some of his customers on political principle.

He was right. Dick’s estimates the policy change cost the company about $150 million in lost sales, an amount equivalent to 1.7 percent of annual revenue. Stack says it was worth it.

“The system does not work,” Stack said. “It’s important that when you know there’s something that’s not working, and it’s to the detriment of the public, you have to stand up.”

The 2018 school massacre at Parkland, Florida, touched a nerve for the company. Nikolas Cruz, the shooter, had legally purchased a shotgun from Dick’s a few months before the attack. A day after Cruz was arrested, police in Vermont apprehended a teenager with plans to shoot up his high school. He, too, had legally purchased a shotgun from Dick’s.

The two incidents were a last straw for Stack, a one-time Republican donor who in 35 years had turned his father’s bait-and-tackle shop into the country’s largest sports retailer. Two weeks after those arrests, Stack announced he was pulling assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines out of all Dick’s stores. He vowed he’d never sell another firearm to anyone under 21.

The response was predictable. The National Rifle Association criticized his “strange business model.” The National Shooting Sports Foundation expelled Dick’s from its membership. Gun manufacturers like Mossberg refused to do business with him at all, and some shoppers followed suit.

Some people applauded the CEO’s decision and promised to show their appreciation with their business—a phenomenon called “buycotting”—but those people didn’t stick around. “Love is fleeting. Hate is forever,” Stack said.

What happened at Dick’s confirms new study results out of Stanford University. Respondents said they were more likely to buy a product to support a CEO’s political stance than they were to boycott in disagreement, but their actions revealed the opposite. When asked for specific examples, 69 percent could name a product they’d stopped buying, and only 21 percent could recall a product they started buying.

The stock price hasn’t suffered. Dick’s shares, which didn’t move much following the announcement last February, have climbed 14 percent in the 13 months since, outpacing the 4 percent rise in the benchmark Russell 3000 Index. On Friday, the company’s shares rose as much as 0.6 percent in New York. 

It goes to show you just how much Americans spend on sporting equipment every year.  It hasn't made a difference in the store's bottom line, or the number of firearms in the country.  It's a start, but it's a drop in the ocean.

And that ocean is a blood-red as it gets.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Last Call For Meat The Press, Con't

The Trump regime is now gearing up to intimidate members of the press directly with paid political attack ads if they dare to challenge the Trump regime's narrative that Democrats are conspiratorial traitors that created the "lie" of Russian collusion.

Trump allies see Barr’s letter as a kind of Swiss Army knife—a tool useful in all kinds of situations. Not only is it exculpatory, they say, but it also implicitly rebukes the press for its coverage of the Russia investigation, inoculating Trump from any future scandal that reporters might unearth. According to a source familiar with internal discussions at the Republican National Committee and the pro-Trump super PAC America First, both organizations are “geared up for any nonsense to come.”

They’re already prepared to attack reporters. “Any reporter who tries that will be hit with 30-second spots of all their ridiculous claims about collusion,” said the source, who, like others interviewed for this story, requested anonymity to describe private conversations. “Their tweets have all been screencapped. It’s all ready to go.” (“It's the same thing we've been doing the last two years. We're going to hold the media accountable when we see fit,” an RNC official clarified, adding that this would include digital clips shared on social media.)

Earlier this week, Trump’s campaign previewed the in-your-face tactics they have in mind. A campaign official sent a letter to TV producers cautioning them against booking certain guests who had alleged that Trump colluded with Russia, including Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Democratic Representative Adam Schiff of California, and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez.

“It’s not hard to figure where we’re going to go with this,” a current campaign official told The Atlantic. “We’re still in victory-lap mode, but it will turn into a message that [Democrats] will say or do anything to stop us from making America great again, including making up lies about the president and ruining a lot of people’s lives.”

White House officials suggested that the president has no plans to move on from the report because Democrats aren’t moving on. Instead, “they are doubling and tripling down,” says the White House spokesman Hogan Gidley.

At some level, letting go would be out of character. From the first, Trump has personalized the presidency. He still obsesses over the crowd size at his inauguration, along with perceived betrayals from Senator John McCain of Arizona, who died last summer. The Mueller investigation shadowed Trump for nearly two years. Now that it’s over, he is indulging in a bit of triumphalism.

Again, and I can't stress this enough, in an America where journalists have been gunned down by Trump supporters, the Trump regime is ready to weaponize their base by directly and specifically targeting journalists and Democrats as traitors who must be dealt with.

This goes well beyond attacking political opponents.  This is targeting journalists with political-style attack ads in order to stoke rage, rage that could very well be acted upon by an already wound-up group of people.

Trump is going to get more journalists hurt and killed until they stop criticizing him.

Trump Cards, Con't

Again, I keep hearing how Donald Trump is all talk and no action on things.  At the same time, I keep seeing Trump continually violating presidential norms to do whatever he wants.  18 months ago Trump was obsessed with North Korea, and apparently he made it clear that while he was visiting Puerto Rico to survey damage from Hurricane Maria that he can start a nuclear war anytime he feels like it.

He was there to survey the path of destruction left by Hurricane Maria. But when President Donald Trump visited Puerto Rico in October 2017, the island's dire predicament was hardly the only topic on his mind. 
People familiar with the visit said the President was distracted by other matters -- including his then-devolving war of words with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un -- as he toured devastated neighborhoods and took an aerial tour of the damage. 
At one point, Trump pointed to the "nuclear football" -- a briefcase always in the President's vicinity that can be used to authorize a nuclear attack -- and claimed he could use it on Kim whenever he felt. 
"This is what I have for Kim," he said, according to three people familiar who witnessed the remark.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment on the incident. 

So why are we only hearing about this now?  Guess.

The episode came amid an increasingly acrimonious period that saw Trump boast of the size of his "nuclear button" and threaten to rain "fire and fury" on North Korea. Since then, he and Kim have developed a warm friendship and met for two summits. 
But at the time, the casual reference to his nuclear capabilities was another sign of the spiraling rhetoric that marked his early interactions with Kim. 
And, to some officials, it was an indication of Trump's disinterest in the plight of Puerto Ricans, who suffered for months without power and limited resources as their island recovered from the walloping storm. 
"There were other topics that were being discussed and my view is that the sole focus of that trip should have been on Puerto Rico," said Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló in an exclusive interview on Thursday.

Trump had made life hell for Puerto Rico, abandoning Americans because Trump hates them so much for being Americans when he doesn't think they count.

Now Gov. Rossello has returned the favor.

Deportation Nation, Con't

Just a reminder that Trump regime refuses to process migrants crossing into the US and is keeping them in camps in order to create a border crisis and a humanitarian crisis that will of course require "extraordinary emergency measures" to resolve.

The nation’s top border official warned that the U.S. immigration enforcement system along the nation’s southern boundary is at “the breaking point” and said Wednesday that authorities are having to release migrants into the country after cursory background checks because of a crush of asylum-seeking families with children.

Kevin McAleenan, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said that for the first time in more than a decade, his agency is “reluctantly” performing direct releases of migrants, meaning they are not turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, they are not detained, they are not given ankle bracelets to track their movements and they are allowed to leave with just a notice to appear in court at a later date.

He said that this is a “negative outcome” but that it is “the only current option we have” because of overcrowding at detention facilities as Central Americans stream to the border knowing they will be able to gain entry with asylum claims.

The number of migrant families coming to the border has reached new highs month after month, a trend that dramatically accelerated after President Trump announced parents and children would no longer be separated, reversing course on his “zero tolerance” crackdown.

McAleenan said the agency detained more than 4,100 migrants Tuesday, the highest one-day total at the border in more than a decade, and agency projections have border apprehensions on pace to exceed 100,000 this month — an increase of more than 30 percent. By comparison, at the height of the last border crisis, in May 2014, agents apprehended more than 68,800 migrants that month.

The massive influx of families seeking asylum has strained almost every aspect of U.S. operations on the border, McAleenan said, nowhere more evident than here, along the Rio Grande. Crossings have been overwhelmed with hundreds of migrants seeking asylum daily; Border Patrol stations are crammed and have no space for detainees; the immigration court system is backed up with hundreds of thousands of cases; and health services are having to triage batches of patients who have a variety of ailments and communicable diseases.
“That breaking point has arrived this week,” McAleenan said, standing in front of a border fence. “CBP is facing an unprecedented humanitarian and border security crisis all along our southwest border, and nowhere has that crisis manifested more acutely than here in El Paso.” 

Again, everything here from Trump's false "end" the child separation to "reluctantly" releasing migrants without processing them is designed to visibly create a crisis, and if you don't believe me, note this is being done on purpose in El Paso.

Beto O' Rourke's congressional district.

Everything is calculated revenge, and Trump doesn't care how many human lives are destroyed in the process. And now, as I have told you for more than a year, Deportation Nation is almost here.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen will ask Congress for the authority to deport unaccompanied migrant children more quickly, to hold families seeking asylum in detention until their cases are decided and to allow immigrants to apply for asylum from their home countries, according to a copy of the request obtained by NBC News.

In a letter to Congress, Nielsen said she will be seeking a legislative proposal in the coming days to address what she called the "root causes of the emergency" that has led to a spike in border crossings in recent weeks. The letter has not yet been sent.

The legislative proposal would have to clear the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, which is likely to respond with strong opposition.

The trap is simple: make Democrats vote on keeping migrant kids in cages versus mass deportations of migrant kids without their parents and blast them for whatever happens as 100% their fault.

While that won't be true, Democrats got maneuvered into this trap more than a year ago, and now it is closing around their necks.

Thousands of kids will suffer as a result.


Thursday, March 28, 2019

Last Call For It's Mueller Time, Con't

The Trump regime cover-up of the full Mueller report continues, and five days after declaring in massive headline font that MUELLER FINDS NO TRUMP-RUSSIA CONSPIRACY, the NY Times once again that it may have been had by Trump.

The still-secret report on Russian interference in the 2016 election submitted by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, last week was more than 300 pages long, according to American officials with knowledge of it, a length that raises new questions about Attorney General William P. Barr’s four-page summary.

Mr. Barr wrote to Congress on Sunday offering what he called the “principal conclusions” of the report — including that Mr. Mueller had not found evidence that the Trump campaign took part in a conspiracy to undermine the election. But he had notably declined to publicly disclose its length.

The total of 300-plus pages suggests that Mr. Mueller went well beyond the kind of bare-bones summary required by the Justice Department regulation governing his appointment and detailed his conclusions at length. And it raises questions about what Mr. Barr might have left out of the four dense pages he sent Congress.

Democrats, who like all other lawmakers have not seen the report, have all but accused Mr. Barr of covering up damaging information it contains. They have specifically focused on an apparent difference between the views of Mr. Barr and Mr. Mueller on whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice. Democrats have demanded that the attorney general make the full report and evidence public.

The American officials spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to discuss details of the report, titled “Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election.”

The Justice Department has continued to decline to publicly give an official page number, though a senior Justice Department official told reporters on the day it was received that the report was “comprehensive.”

Getting the idiots at the Times and other media outlets to finally admit that the Barr Letter is not the Mueller report is something that took almost a week, while Trump is busy doing victory laps and his party is calling for the resignation and/or blacklisting of as many Democrats as possible over the "vindication" of Trump by "the Mueller report".

Maybe House Democrats can make this happen, but it's going to take the American people demanding this daily for it to actually occur.  Republicans know they can block this as long as they want, because Americans won't tear themselves away from Netflix or cat videos long enough to stay home from work and fill the streets.

Everyone believes somebody else will take care of it.

That's not how this works.

Jussie-fied By The Circumstances, Con't

Donald Trump continues to go after political enemies, which is everyone who didn't vote for Trump, announcing today on Twitter that he's ordered the FBI and Justice Department  to look into federal charges against actor Jussie Smollett over an allegedly hate crime hoax case in Chicago that was completely dropped by Cook County prosecutors.

President Donald Trump again leaned into a controversial issue that has ignited his base -- the case of "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett -- when he announced Thursday that the Department of Justice would review Smollett's case after conservatives decried a prosecutor's decision Tuesday to unexpectedly drop all charges against the actor, who was accused of staging a hate crime against himself in Chicago. 
"FBI & DOJ to review the outrageous Jussie Smollett case in Chicago," Trump wrote on Twitter Thursday morning. "It is an embarrassment to our Nation!" 
The Department of Justice and the FBI declined to comment when asked about the President's tweet. 
Smollett went to police in January claiming he had been attacked by two men who tied a noose around his neck, poured bleach on him, used racial and homophobic slurs, and shouted, "This is MAGA country," a reference to Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan. 
Initially reacting to Smollett's claims, Trump denounced the alleged attack, as others did, telling reporters in January, "I think that's horrible. It doesn't get worse as far as I'm concerned." 
But after Chicago police investigated, they alleged that Smollett had hired two men to stage the attack, though those charges were dropped by a prosecutor Tuesday. 
On the day Smollett was arrested, Trump tweeted, "What about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments?" 
Trump's comments on Smollett's case comes ahead of a 2020 re-election battle as he tries to capitalize on another issue to animate his base. 

He's fanning hate and stoking outrage in order to keep the monsters in his base fed, lest they turn on him, but we should all be worried about a commander-in-chief who orders FBI investigations of American citizens over twitter.

The Reason For Treason Season

As I said Tuesday, the practical upshot of the Barr snow job on the Mueller report is that Trump feels 100% emboldened to go after people he sees as his political enemies openly now, and he doesn't believe anyone can or will bother to stop him.  Now he's upped the ante considerably by publicly accusing two FBI agents involved in the Mueller probe, Peter Strzok and Linda Page, of treason.

President Donald Trump said former FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page committed treason when they took steps to investigate his possible ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign.

“They wanted an insurance policy against me,” Trump said Wednesday in an interview on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program, the president’s first since Attorney General William Barr announced on Sunday that Robert Mueller had found no coordination between his campaign and the Russian government. “And what we were playing out until just recently was the insurance policy. They wanted to do a subversion. It was treason. It was really treason.”

“If the Republican party had done this to the Democrats, if we had done this to President Obama you’d have a hundred people in jail right now, it’d be treason,” he added.
Trump has long suggested that Mueller’s investigation was politically motivated and since it concluded he has called called for an inquiry into its origins. And on Monday, Trump said “people out there” had done “treasonous things against our country” and called for an investigation into their actions, without specifying what he meant.

“We can never allow these treasonous acts happen to another president,” Trump said.

I know more than a few of you think it's talk and bluster.  So far it has been.  But that rhetoric is dangerous, and unlike all of the bumbling conservative ghouls out there howling for blood, Trump actually could, at any time, order the Justice Department to prosecute Strzok and Page.

And maybe a lot more.

On Tuesday, Trump suggested the investigation was the result of some sort of targeted operation. “It went very high up, and it started fairly low, but with instructions from the high up,” he said. Asked if he was accusing senior members of President Barack Obama’s White House staff, Trump said he did not “want to say that, but I think you know the answer."

Maybe the American people will finally cut Trump off at the knees if he tries it.

But we also elected this idiot.


Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Last Call For Face The Face on Facebook, Con't

Not that the current US government cares, but apparently New Zealand's "fix this or else" conversation with Facebook over the white supremacist who shot up two mosques earlier this month while splashing live video of the massacre all over Facebook and Instagram was finally what it took to get the company to start removing these assholes from its social media services.

In a major policy shift for the world’s biggest social media network, Facebook banned white nationalism and white separatism on its platform Tuesday. Facebook will also begin directing users who try to post content associated with those ideologies to a nonprofit that helps people leave hate groups, Motherboard has learned.

The new policy, which will be officially implemented next week, highlights the malleable nature of Facebook’s policies, which govern the speech of more than 2 billion users worldwide. And Facebook still has to effectively enforce the policies if it is really going to diminish hate speech on its platform. The policy will apply to both Facebook and Instagram.

Last year, a Motherboard investigation found that, though Facebook banned “white supremacy” on its platform, it explicitly allowed “white nationalism” and “white separatism.” After backlash from civil rights groups and historians who say there is no difference between the ideologies, Facebook has decided to ban all three, two members of Facebook’s content policy team said.

“We’ve had conversations with more than 20 members of civil society, academics, in some cases these were civil rights organizations, experts in race relations from around the world,” Brian Fishman, policy director of counterterrorism at Facebook, told us in a phone call. “We decided that the overlap between white nationalism, [white] separatism, and white supremacy is so extensive we really can’t make a meaningful distinction between them. And that’s because the language and the rhetoric that is used and the ideology that it represents overlaps to a degree that it is not a meaningful distinction.”

Specifically, Facebook will now ban content that includes explicit praise, support, or representation of white nationalism or separatism. Phrases such as “I am a proud white nationalist” and “Immigration is tearing this country apart; white separatism is the only answer” will now be banned, according to the company. Implicit and coded white nationalism and white separatism will not be banned immediately, in part because the company said it’s harder to detect and remove.

The decision was formally made at Facebook’s Content Standards Forum on Tuesday, a meeting that includes representatives from a range of different Facebook departments in which content moderation policies are discussed and ultimately adopted. Fishman told Motherboard that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was involved in the formulation of the new policy, though roughly three dozen Facebook employees worked on it.

Civil rights organizations have been after Facebook for years on this and given that the Obama administration looked the other way on Silicon Valley way too often and the Trump regime could not care less about policing white supremacists when they are the world's leading white supremacist group, you will never convince me that Facebook gave a damn until Australia threatened to start putting social media executives in prison earlier this week.

Following the livestreamed New Zealand mosque shooting that left 50 dead in Christchurch, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is looking to crack down on extremist content on social media.

Morrison will on Tuesday meet with Australian executives of Facebook, Twitter and Google to discuss extremist content legislation that would punish these companies' executives with jail time, the Australian Financial Review reports. Local internet service providers will also be present at the meeting.

"If social media companies fail to demonstrate a willingness to immediately institute changes to prevent the use of their platforms, like what was filmed and shared by the perpetrators of the terrible offences in Christchurch, we will take action," said Morrison.

"We are considering all options to keep Australians safe

And lo and behold 48 hours later we get this policy.

Amazing how that works.  Australia helping New Zealand do yeoman's work, when we surely won't here.

Decade of Decadence

Democrats on the House Oversight Committee want ten years of Trump's taxes, according, well, to Republicans on the committee who are trying to sandbag the move.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee is seeking 10 years of President Donald Trump’s financial records from an accounting firm, two Republicans on the panel revealed on Wednesday.

The Democrat-led committee asked Mazars USA, a tax and accounting firm, for documents related to Trump’s finances, with a focus on the president’s effort to bid on the Buffalo Bills, according to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the top Republican on the Oversight panel, and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a senior member of the committee.

It appears to reflect an effort by the committee to follow up on former Trump attorney and fixer Michael Cohen’s testimony before the panel last month. Cohen told lawmakers that Trump inflated his personal net worth as he sought to buy the NFL team.

Jordan and Meadows, two of the president’s closest allies on Capitol Hill, made the revelations in a letter to Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) in which they alleged that the request for such information about Trump “appears to depart from responsible and legitimate oversight,” and is intended “solely to embarrass President Trump and to advance the relentless Democrat attacks upon the Trump administration.”

Their letter comes after Trump and his allies have claimed vindication after Attorney General William Barr informed congressional leaders on Sunday that special counsel Robert Mueller’s 22-month investigation was unable to establish that Trump or his campaign conspired with Russians during the 2016 election.

The president and his supporters on Capitol Hill have called on Democrats to cease their investigations into the president, which they have long derided as politically motivated.

“We should not waste our limited resources and energies on matters that do not improve the operations of the federal government or better the lives of our constituents,” Jordan and Meadows wrote, calling Cummings’ investigation “an ill-conceived inquiry into the finances of President Trump when he was a private citizen.”

The lawmakers sent a separate letter to Victor Wahba, the chairman and chief executive officer of Mazars USA, stating that Cummings did not consult with the GOP side of the committee before request the documents on Trump’s finances.

Elijah Cummings is having none of it.

Cummings dismissed the Republicans’ letters.

“If they had their way, the committee would just close up shop for the next two years, but that is not what the American people elected us to do,” Cummings said. “We are following up on specific allegations regarding the president’s actions based on corroborating documents obtained by the committee, and we will continue our efforts to conduct credible, robust, and independent oversight.”

We'll see how this battle turns out, but I'm willing to bet that between the White House and SCOTUS that at the very least they can keep this tied up for months, if not well into 2021 and beyond.  Trump knows full well that his financial records for the last decade being made public would be his end, politically, as well as from a criminal standpoint.

It's Mueller Time, Con't

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report should be made public, American voters say 84 - 9 percent in a Quinnipiac University National Poll released today. Republicans say 75 - 17 percent the report should be made public and every other listed party, gender, education, age and racial group supports making the report public by even wider margins.

Mueller conducted a "fair" investigation, 55 percent of voters say, as 26 percent say it was not fair, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University National Poll finds. The survey was conducted March 21 through March 25.

But voters are divided on another question, as 49 percent say the investigation was "legitimate" and 43 percent say it was a "witch hunt."

There is a wide gender gap as men say 50 - 43 percent the investigation was a "witch hunt," and women say 55 - 37 percent it was "legitimate." 

Indeed, the margins are huge.

Again, three out of four Republicans want the Mueller report released.  For Democrats it's 93%, which is insanely high agreement on anything.  Independents come in at 86%.

People still don't think Trump is telling the truth, either.

The special counsel’s report may have concluded there was no conspiracy or coordination between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign, but a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows the political fog around the president remains.

The poll shows a plurality of voters, 47 percent, think Trump “tried to impede or obstruct the investigation into whether his campaign had ties to Russia” — despite the fact that Special Counsel Robert Mueller didn't reach a decision on the question. Thirty-nine percent don’t think Trump tried to impede the investigation, and 14 percent don’t know or had no opinion about whether Trump tried to obstruct the investigation.

Following the release of the report’s summary, the president is not riding a new wave of popularity. His approval rating in the poll remains underwater — 42 percent approve of the job he is doing, compared to 55 percent of voters who disapprove of the job he is doing — which is essentially unchanged over the past few weeks. And when asked whether Attorney General William Barr’s letter summarizing the report changed their opinions of Trump, voters fell predictably along partisan lines.
As the Mueller report conclusion reverberates broadly, our polling suggests that the release of the summary findings has had little impact on President Trump’s favorability,” said Tyler Sinclair, Morning Consult’s vice president. “Notably, 44 percent of voters — including 73 percent of Democrats and 42 percent of independents — have a less favorable impression of the president following Attorney General William Barr's summary of the Mueller report. This compares with 39 percent — including 79 percent of Republicans — who have a more favorable view." 

And yet if the Mueller report isn't released, exactly what's going to happen?

Are millions of us going to take to the streets?  Would even hundreds of thousands do it?  I'm not sure we'd get tens of thousands protesting a failure to release it.

The maintenance of our representative democracy is in the hands of us.  If we don't shut this country down over this, we're done.

And we won't do it.  It's too much work.  Hell, we couldn't even find a way to not vote for Donald Goddamn Trump.


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Last Call For Meat The Press, Con't

The Trump regime's war on its critics has already reached dangerous levels, and we're not too far now from the point where the regime will take action to match Trump's rhetoric.

President Trump and his allies signaled Monday that they intend to use the broad conclusions of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation — which found no criminal conspiracy with Russia to influence the 2016 election — to forcefully attack perceived opponents they say unfairly accused the president of wrongdoing.

The targets are diffuse, ranging from specific Democratic lawmakers to the media more generally. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway called on House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) to resign immediately, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) urged Schiff to relinquish his committee chairmanship. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said he planned to investigate what he dubbed “all of the abuse by the Department of Justice and the FBI” during the 2016 presidential election. And the Trump campaign sent a memo to television hosts and producers that included a list of guests it suggested should no longer be booked because they “made outlandish, false claims” on air.

Trump himself, speaking in the Oval Office, offered a broad and harsh denunciation, saying there were “a lot of people out there that have done some very, very evil things, very bad things.”

“I would say treasonous things against our country,” the president added

The next step will be a bevy of Justice Department investigations into Trump's critics on Capitol Hill and in the media, and if you think a man who openly uses the word "treasonous" to define his critics isn't doing this out of pure revenge, then you've just bet the freedom of your country on that assumption.

We all have.

The strategy — currently loose and informal — is still in its infancy. But all signs indicate a Trump operation seeking vengeance and accountability from critics it says maligned the president over the investigation into whether his campaign or associates conspired with Russia to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. An adviser who talked to the president said Trump has an appetite to see his critics investigated. The adviser spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private conversation.

“What he says is, he wants this investigated,” said Trump’s lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani. “I don’t think he’s thought it out like Lindsey has. But he wants these things investigated.”

While Trump and his allies have portrayed Attorney General William P. Barr’s summary of Mueller’s findings as a complete vindication of the president, Barr made it clear that the special counsel was not exonerating the president on the question of obstruction of justice. And details of the report, if made public, could prove troublesome for Trump. Mueller’s work led to criminal charges against 34 people, including six former Trump associates and advisers, and showed that Russia sought to influence the election and help Trump.

Still, the president’s aides and allies have shown little desire to turn the page, preferring to write a new book detailing what they say is a rush to judgment from a Washington establishment unwilling to ever give Trump an unbiased assessment.

“This is not something to put behind us and move on,” said David Bossie, Trump’s 2016 deputy campaign manager. He said the White House and the Trump reelection campaign need to make sure “we are beating the drum” on how what he sees as a D.C. echo chamber bungled its handling of the Mueller investigation.

“The members of Congress, who made these ridiculous claims, how can they be on television again? How can they be called by reporters again?” Bossie asked. “How can reporters who have perpetrated this fraud gleefully on a number of networks, and at major newspapers across the country, how can they be trusted again?”

The next question will be "How can they walk free among us again?" and then "How are they not traitors again?"

The time where autocrat Trump starts taking real revenge against his critics is very soon upon us.  Nixon and his enemies list was nothing compared to what's coming.  This is what I've been warning about for years now.  Trump feels now that there's nothing to stop him.

World history tells us that he's most likely correct.

Things will move quickly now.

Jussie-tified By The Circumstances

A month after being hit with sixteen felony counts related to what the Cook County prosecutors' office said was actor Jussie Smollett's conspiracy to fabricate a hate crime about an attack made by two men wearing MAGA hats, all charges were immediately dropped, Smollett's record expunged and the case sealed by a judge.

Attorneys for “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett said Tuesday that charges alleging he lied to police about a racist and homophobic attack have been dropped.

Smollett attorneys Tina Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes said in a statement that Smollett’s record “has been wiped clean.” Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts related to making a false report that he was attacked by two men.

Among the questions that weren’t immediately answered was whether prosecutors still believe Smollett concocted the attack and whether there’s new evidence that altered their view of events. Typically, a minimum condition of dropping cases is some acceptance of responsibility. In a statement, the Cook County prosecutors’ office offered no detailed explanation.

“After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case,” the statement from spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said.

Smollett had made a $10,000 bond payment to get out of jail after his arrest on the charges.

Police and prosecutors have said Smollett falsely reported to authorities that he was attacked around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29 in downtown Chicago because he was unhappy with his pay on “Empire” and to promote his career.

Smollett, who is black and gay, plays the gay character Jamal Lyon on the hit Fox TV show that follows a black family as they navigate the ups and downs of the recording industry.

Smollett reported that he had been attacked on his way home from a sandwich shop. Smollett said two masked men shouted racial and anti-gay slurs, poured bleach on him, beat him and looped a rope around his neck. He claimed they shouted, “This is MAGA country” — a reference to President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan. He asserted that he could see one of the men was white because he could see the skin around his eyes.

Cook County and the Chicago PD were willing to put Smollett in prison for decades over this.

And then something happened to make all of this go away.  I don't know what it was exactly, but I bet it has something to do with this announced earlier this month.

Reports of leaks about the Jussie Smollett case have prompted an internal investigation of the Chicago Police Department. 
The department told CNN on Thursday that it had opened an investigation into alleged internal leaks. 
"I would like to point out that a lot of the information out there was inaccurate and there were numerous agencies involved in this investigation," said Sergeant Rocco Alioto with the Chicago PD Office of Communications. "As a standard procedure when there are allegations of information being leaked, an internal investigation has been opened and we are also looking at our vulnerabilities." 
Smollett reported to police in January that he had been attacked in Chicago in an incident that ended with a noose around his neck. Police initially investigated the case as a possible hate crime. 
But after police arrested two men who were "persons of interest," police sources revealed that police suspected Smollett knew the men and had paid them $3,500 to stage the attack. 
Smollett has denied that any involvement in orchestrating an attack.

This case went so far into the crapper for Chicago PD that the prosecutors dropped a case against a gay, black man who reported that Trump supporters assaulted him.  They indicted him with dizzying speed and had accomplices and everything.  Chicago Police went on national TV like Good Morning America to indict Smollett in the court of public opinion.

And then the case popped like a sop bubble and they tripped all over themselves making sure this case never happened.

There's a reason why, and I'm betting the Chicago PD did something so horrible that if it came out in the trial, it would have destroyed them.   Not a plea bargain, not a public apology, but a sealed case.  If this had been a celebrity payoff, then it would have been a plea bargain and community service or a suspended sentence/probation.

Whatever it was, it was so awful that it prevented a major police department from destroying a black man's life, something police have done with impunity for decades.

Something happened with this case.

I want to know what it was.

They're Coming For Obamacare Again

As I've been saying for a while now, Trump's main motivation is petty revenge, and there's nothing he likes more than punishing the Obama coalition.  There's no better way to get of us, he figures, than to take health care away from tens of millions, and the post-Mueller Trump regime is now fully dedicated to obliterating the ACA through the Roberts Court.

The Trump administration on Monday said the entire Affordable Care Act should be struck down,in a dramatic reversal. 
In a filing with a federal appeals court, the Justice Department said it agreed with the ruling of a federal judge in Texas that invalidated the Obama-era health care law. 
In a letter Monday night, the administration said "it is not urging that any portion of the district court's judgment be reversed." 
"The Department of Justice has determined that the district court's comprehensive opinion came to the correct conclusion and will support it on appeal," said Kerri Kupec, spokesperson for the Justice Department. 
It's a major shift for the Justice Department from when Jeff Sessions was attorney general. At the time, the administration argued that the community rating rule and the guaranteed issue requirement -- protections for people with pre-existing conditions -- could not be defended but the rest of the law could stand. 
After the Justice Department took that position, federal District Judge Reed O'Connor struck down the entire law and the case is currently before a federal appeals court. 
The Trump administration would not defend the law in court so a coalition of 21 Democratic states led by California stepped in. 
"This lawsuit is as dangerous as it is reckless. It threatens the healthcare of tens of millions of Americans across the country -- from California to Kentucky and all the way to Maine," said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in a statement. "The Affordable Care Act is an integral part of our healthcare system. ... Because no American should fear losing healthcare, we will defend the ACA every step of the way."

Attorney General Bill Barr has been given his marching orders.  The plan now is to take everything from those who voted against Trump.  That battle will be fought very soon in front of the Roberts Court.  There are absolutely four votes to overturn the Affordable Care Act.  All that matters is whether or not Chief Justice John Roberts is willing to be number five.

The plan now is to take it all from us.  Up to and including our health care.

Having said that, the ACA is broken.  It needs to be fixed.  It will never be fixed as long as Republicans are there to rebreak it.  But the GOP wants to take that from us anyway.

For some of us, that means taking our lives.

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