Friday, February 8, 2019

Last Call For You Wrecked It, Ralph

Embattled Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam now say he will not resign over recently uncovered pictures in blackface in his medical school yearbook, despite calls from national Democrats for Northam to step down.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam told his top staff Friday that he is not going to resign over the racist photo that has roiled state politics, despite intense pressure to step down, according to a top administration official.

Northam called a Cabinet meeting Friday afternoon to announce his intention to stay, the official said. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity

The announcement comes at the end of an unprecedented week in Virginia history that has seen the state’s three top Democrats embroiled in potentially career-ending scandals.

The tumult began last Friday afternoon, when Northam’s medical school yearbook page surfaced with a picture of one person in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe.

Northam immediately apologized for appearing in the photograph, saying he could not “undo the harm my behavior caused then and today.” Most of the Democratic establishment called for his resignation by the end of the day.

On Saturday, though, the governor reversed course and said he wasn’t in the picture. He said he wasn’t going to resign immediately because he owed it to the people of Virginia to start a discussion about race and discrimination and listen to the pain he had caused.

“I believe this moment can be the first small step to open a discussion about these difficult issues,” Northam said. But the governor left his long-term plans open, saying he would reassess his decision not to resign if it became clear he had no viable path forward.

The pressure on Northam reached a crescendo Saturday when almost the entire Virginia Democratic establishment, as well as nearly every Democratic presidential hopeful, called on him to resign. That pressure has tapered off as a cascade of scandals involving top politicians has rocked the state.

Meanwhile, Virginia's Lt. Governor, Justin Fairfax, is now being accused by a second woman of sexual assault.

A Maryland woman said Friday she was raped by Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) in a “premeditated and aggressive” assault in 2000, while they both were undergraduate students at Duke University. She is the second woman this week to make an accusation of sexual assault.

The woman, Meredith Watson, said Friday in a written statement through her attorney that she shared her account immediately after it happened with several classmates and friends. Watson did not speak publicly Friday and her lawyer did not make her available for an interview.

Watson was friends with Fairfax at Duke but they never dated or had any romantic relationship, the lawyer, Nancy Erika Smith, said.

“At this time, Ms. Watson is reluctantly coming forward out of a strong sense of civic duty and her belief that those seeking or serving in public office should be of the highest character,” Smith said in the statement . “She has no interest in becoming a media personality or reliving the trauma that has greatly affected her life. Similarly, she is not seeking any financial damages.”

Sadly, Northam has decided that if Donald Trump can survive worse allegations, he shouldn't have to go anywhere.  Fairfax too denies the second allegation and says he too will not resign. 

If Democrats go down that road, there's no coming back.

And the voters will remember.

Adelson's Gamble Pays Off Big Time

GOP casino magnate Sheldon Adelson bought and paid for Donald Trump's 2016 campaign to the tune of more than $20 million, and now Adelson is getting his reward as the Trump Justice Department has quietly issued new guidelines all but putting an end to online gambling and interstate lotteries like Powerball and Mega Millions, leaving brick-and-mortar casinos like Adelson's empire as the only game in town.

The Justice Department’s decision last month to release a legal opinion that could further restrict Internet gambling is drawing fire from state attorneys general and former department officials amid questions about casino magnate Sheldon Adelson’s long-standing push for the move.

The legal opinion, which was posted online during the partial government shutdown, reversed a 2011 Justice Department interpretation of the Wire Act that effectively gave the states a green light to authorize lotteries and other forms of online gambling.

The change was long sought by Adelson, a major Republican donor who spent more than $20 million to back Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016.

“We can see no good reason for the Justice Department’s sudden reversal,” Josh Shapiro, attorney general of Pennsylvania, and Gurbir S. Grewal, attorney general of New Jersey, wrote this week in a joint letter to acting U.S. attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein.

In their letter, the Democratic attorneys general said they were concerned by reports that the drafting of the new opinion “followed substantial lobbying by outside groups.”

The opinion released Jan. 14 by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) echoed arguments outlined in a memo written by the law firm of Washington attorney Charles Cooper, who was working as part of an Adelson-backed lobbying team. Cooper’s memo reached the OLC in 2017, officials confirmed.
Cooper himself is a former head of the OLC and has worked as a personal lawyer for former attorney general Jeff Sessions.

In an interview, Cooper confirmed that he lobbied Justice Department officials to reconsider its previous opinion on the Wire Act and expressed satisfaction that his memo resonated with his successor.

The opinion “accords entirely with the analysis my firm undertook and I shared with the DOJ,” said Cooper, who compared his memo to law review articles and opinion pieces that serve as research material for department lawyers.

Justice Department officials said the process that led to the new opinion was independent and in keeping with department norms and guidelines.

“The 23-page opinion reflects the Office of Legal Counsel’s best judgment of the law, and the accusation that the opinion was shaped by any outside interest is baseless and offensive,” said Nicole Navas Oxman, a Justice Department spokeswoman.

[Justice Department issues opinion that could further restrict online gambling]

The opinion centers on an interpretation of the Wire Act, a 1961 statute that makes it a criminal offense to transmit information to promote interstate or foreign wagering.

In September 2011, the Obama Justice Department issued an opinion that only sports betting fell within the purview of the act.

The reversal of that decision could have an impact on interstate lotteries and has upset state officials, who have come to rely on lottery revenue to fund key programs

We'll see how this shakes out, but it could be a major disaster for states, infrastructure, and anyone who isn't a casino owner.

Pissed Pecker Procured Perilous Prime Patriarch's Package Pics, Promises Production Per Portentous Programmed Paper

Amazon CEO and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos is apparently tired of being blackmailed by the National Enquirer, who has already ruined his marriage with evidence of his cheating on his wife MacKenzie, and has decided that if Donald Trump wants to treat Bezos and his newspaper as enemies of the state, Bezos might as well fulfill the role completely.

Something unusual happened to me yesterday. Actually, for me it wasn’t just unusual — it was a first. I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse. Or at least that’s what the top people at the National Enquirer thought. I’m glad they thought that, because it emboldened them to put it all in writing. Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I’ve decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten.

AMI, the owner of the National Enquirer, led by David Pecker, recently entered into an immunity deal with the Department of Justice related to their role in the so-called “Catch and Kill” process on behalf of President Trump and his election campaign. Mr. Pecker and his company have also been investigated for various actions they’ve taken on behalf of the Saudi Government.

And sometimes Mr. Pecker mixes it all together:

“After Mr. Trump became president, he rewarded Mr. Pecker’s loyalty with a White House dinner to which the media executive brought a guest with important ties to the royals in Saudi Arabia. At the time, Mr. Pecker was pursuing business there while also hunting for financing for acquisitions…”

Federal investigators and legitimate media have of course suspected and proved that Mr. Pecker has used the Enquirer and AMI for political reasons. And yet AMI keeps claiming otherwise:

“American Media emphatically rejects any assertion that its reporting was instigated, dictated or influenced in any manner by external forces, political or otherwise.”

Of course, legitimate media have been challenging that assertion for a long time:

Mystery Grows Over Pro-Saudi Tabloid: Embassy Got Sneak Peek

I didn’t know much about most of that a few weeks ago when intimate texts messages from me were published in the National Enquirer. I engaged investigators to learn how those texts were obtained, and to determine the motives for the many unusual actions taken by the Enquirer. As it turns out, there are now several independent investigations looking into this matter.

To lead my investigation, I retained Gavin de Becker. I’ve known Mr. de Becker for twenty years, his expertise in this arena is excellent, and he’s one of the smartest and most capable leaders I know. I asked him to prioritize protecting my time since I have other things I prefer to work on and to proceed with whatever budget he needed to pursue the facts in this matter.

Here’s a piece of context: My ownership of the Washington Post is a complexifier for me. It’s unavoidable that certain powerful people who experience Washington Post news coverage will wrongly conclude I am their enemy.

President Trump is one of those people, obvious by his many tweets. Also, The Post’s essential and unrelenting coverage of the murder of its columnist Jamal Khashoggi is undoubtedly unpopular in certain circles

Bezos goes on to publish the apparent emails he received from American Media promising that the National Enquirer would basically publish his dick pics online, and basically says "bring it, you've already wrecked my marriage, but I own the goddamn Washington Post."

Popcorn time!


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