Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Last Call For Israeli A Mess Now, Con't

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu is headed back to the drawing board as he has failed to form a coalition government in the allotted post-election period, meaning Israel is now facing another round of snap elections in September.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suffered a stunning defeat on Thursday after he failed to meet a midnight deadline to form a new government, casting a cloud over his future as prime minister and thrusting Israel into the chaos of a new election.

Just seven weeks ago, when Mr. Netanyahu basked in a postelection “night of tremendous victory,” he seemed invincible, confident that he would serve a fourth consecutive term and a fifth overall. Despite a looming indictment on corruption charges, he appeared set to surpass the nation’s founding leader, David Ben Gurion, as Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.

But after weeks of negotiations, his plans ran aground on a power struggle between two blocs of his potential right-wing coalition — the secular ultranationalist and ultra-Orthodox factions — who refused to compromise on proposed legislation on military service.

The dream collapsed in a breathtaking display of political maneuvering in recent days, as Mr. Netanyahu, long nicknamed “the magician” for the political wizardry that has kept him in office continuously for the past decade, desperately tried to salvage his fortunes.

With his conservative Likud party claiming it had locked down 60 seats, just one shy of a majority, he sought out new coalition partners and potential defectors from opposition parties. He even approached Labor, the center-left stalwart, which rebuffed his advance.

At the same time, his party advanced a fallback bill to dissolve Parliament and go to new elections.

That bill passed shortly after midnight on Thursday, with Parliament voting to disperse itself just a month after it was sworn in, with 74 votes in favor and 45 against. One member was absent.

Israelis will return to the ballot box in elections tentatively set for Sept. 17, the first time in the country’s history that it has been forced to hold a new national election because of the failure to form a government after the previous election.

Immediately after the parliamentary vote, Mr. Netanyahu angrily blamed Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of the ultranationalist party Yisrael Beiteinu, for thwarting a right-wing coalition.

Bibi of course has nobody to blame but himself.  He's still facing indictment as a sitting Prime Minister, and his failure to form a government absolutely reflects that.  We know he won't resign, but his inability to form a government may finally be the death knell for his political career.

We'll see, but there's hope.

It's Mueller Time, Now With Actual Mueller Edition

Robert Mueller made public remarks at the Justice Department today, which probably won't satisfy Democrats who insist he testify under oath, but he did make several "read between the lines of the Mueller report" assumptions very clear.

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III reiterated Wednesday that his office could not clear President Trump of obstructing justice, asserting in his first public remarks about his investigation that federal prosecutors cannot accuse the commander in chief of a crime while suggesting Congress still may do so.

Standing alone on stage in a room used for news conferences on the Justice Department’s seventh floor, Mueller said that if his office “had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” and noted that the Constitution “requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse the president of wrongdoing.”

But if Mueller was trying to suggest Democrats could initiate impeachment proceedings, he also seemed to dash any hopes they might have had of doing so with him as their star witness.

The special counsel — who noted he was closing up shop and formally resigning from the Justice Department — said he hoped the news conference would be his last public comments, and if he were compelled to testify before Congress, he would not speak beyond what he wrote in his 448-page report.

So, that's the bad news, and yes, as far as the Trump regime is concerned, it's all over and the noxious indictments of Democrats can now begin.

But Democrats aren't giving up on Mueller speaking under oath or the House investigations.

Democrats, meanwhile, said they would press ahead with their investigations. Several presidential contenders — including Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg — said Mueller’s comments were akin to an impeachment referral. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said Congress “has a legal and moral obligation to begin impeachment proceedings immediately.”

In a statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has resisted a move toward impeachment, thanked Mueller for providing “a record for future action both in the Congress and in the courts” and said lawmakers would “continue to investigate and legislate to protect our elections and secure our democracy.”

A House Democratic leadership aide said Mueller’s public statement would change nothing: the chamber still intends to call the special counsel to appear before Congress — even if lawmakers have to force him. Should Mueller refuse, Democrats could issue a subpoena, though they were hoping to avoid such a compulsory measure.

The aide, who follows the House investigations closely, argued there’s value in having Mueller appear in public, even if he refuses to answer questions beyond what’s in the report. Most Americans, Democrats note, haven’t read Mueller’s findings — but potentially millions would tune in to a highly anticipated hearing broadcast on national television to hear him re-litigate some of what he found.

The bottom line: Mueller is once again saying this is Congress's job, and for Democrats to be able to do that, they want Mueller to spell it out on national TV instead of it coming from Bill Barr or Trump or Sarah Sanders.

But Congress must act.  Period.  That is what Mueller is saying, it's what he said in the report, and he made that clear again today.  Trump is not exonerated.

Whether or not Mueller will agree or even be allowed to testify, well...

No Relief In Sight

My Representative in the House, Thomas Massie, continues to be a national embarrassment and now he's hurting the rest of the country, holding up the latest disaster relief bill for Midwest flood victims out of pure spite and rancor.

For the second time in less than a week, the House on Tuesday failed to pass the Senate-approved $19 billion bill providing disaster aid funding to parts of the United States hit by hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes and wildfires after a Republican lawmaker objected.

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., objected to a request to pass the measure by unanimous consent during a pro forma session. If the bill had passed, it would have gone straight to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature. Most lawmakers are back home in their districts this week for a weeklong Memorial Day recess.

"The speaker of the House should have called a vote on this bill before sending every member of Congress on recess for 10 days, and I object," Massie said on the floor.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters afterward that the chamber will again attempt to pass the bill by unanimous consent Thursday. If it's blocked once again, the full House would be poised to pass the bill when lawmakers return the week of June 3.

"House Republicans need to immediately end this shameful sabotage, and allow the House to pass the bill that the bipartisan Senate has finally agreed to," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement. "How many more communities need to suffer before Republicans end their political games?”

Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., slammed Massie's move Tuesday on Twitter, calling it an example of a politician "putting their own self-interest ahead of the national interest."

Even other Republicans are objecting at this point to these idiotic antics.

Massie has to go in 2020, and I hope the DCCC has plans to get rid of him.


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