Sunday, July 7, 2019

Last Call For Amash-ed Potato

Michigan GOP Rep. Justin Amash has now dropped the pretense of remaining as a Republican as his primary numbers in his district have plummeted to somewhere around "David Duke at the Apollo Theater" levels and as a result, he's leaving the GOP to pursue the tried and true role of helping Republicans as the third party spoiler

Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, the only sitting Republican member of Congress to support impeaching President Trump, announced on Thursday that he was leaving the party after facing fierce attacks from the president and fellow Republicans. 
In an op-ed essay in The Washington Post that did not mention Mr. Trump by name, Mr. Amash wrote: “I’ve become disenchanted with party politics and frightened by what I see from it. The two-party system has evolved into an existential threat to American principles and institutions.” 
Three hours after the essay was published, Mr. Trump responded with a personal attack against Mr. Amash, calling him “one of the dumbest and most disloyal men in Congress.”.

Mr. Amash, 39, is known as a libertarian with a contrarian streak and has been one of Mr. Trump’s staunchest critics on the right. He has even considered a run against him in the 2020 election. Mr. Amash’s move on Thursday makes him the only independent member of the House, which has 235 Democrats and, now, 197 Republicans.

In May, he became the first — and so far the only — sitting Republican member of Congress to join Democrats in saying that the president had committed offenses that rose to the level of impeachment.

That assertion was based on his reading of the redacted report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, which was released in April. In a series of tweets, Mr. Amash accused Attorney General William P. Barr of deliberately misrepresenting the report’s findings in his summary. Mr. Amash argued that the report had provided multiple examples of conduct that could be labeled obstruction of justice. 
The president immediately struck back, calling Mr. Amash a “loser” and reinforcing the congressman’s isolation within the Republican Party. A conservative state representative in Michigan, Jim Lower, and a National Guard veteran, Tom Norton, quickly suggested that they might mount primary challenges if Mr. Amash runs for a sixth term next year. 
In his essay, published on the morning of Independence Day, Mr. Amash wrote that his father, a Palestinian refugee who moved to the United States at 16, had instilled in him the belief that America is a land of opportunity.

Mr. Amash quoted George Washington on the dangers of partisanship and strongly criticized the two-party system. 
“Modern politics is trapped in a partisan death spiral, but there is an escape,” he wrote. 
He called for Americans to join him “in rejecting the partisan loyalties and rhetoric that divide and dehumanize us.”

If all of those are setting off your Gary Johnson "enough third-party anti-Trump votes to hand him the election" alarm bells, they should be, because that's exactly what's happening here.  Martin "BooMan" Longman saw this coming weeks ago.

The name that has been coming up with increasing frequency lately is Rep. Justin Amash from the Grand Rapids area of Michigan. He’s the only Republican member of Congress to say that Trump should be impeached and removed from office, and now he’s facing a serious primary challenge that he may not survive. He also quit the Freedom Caucus this week, saying that he didn’t want to be a distraction. One advantage of Amash over Romney is that Amash is actually a libertarian, so he wouldn’t be hijacking the party for his own vanity project. Beyond that, though, there’s little to recommend him as a vote-getter. Certainly, Romney would have vastly more potential for splitting votes off from both major party candidates. As a far-right Republican, Amash’s appeal to the left would be limited to a small subset of people who are primarily interested in the surveillance state and privacy issues, and those who agree with Amash’s critiques of America’s bipartisan foreign policy. Many of these people’s first choice will be the Green Party candidate. 
In any case, Rep. Amash is not discouraging this speculation: 

There has also been speculation Amash might challenge Trump in 2020 as a libertarian candidate, something he did not rule out at a recent town hall. 
“I’ve said many times, I don’t rule things like that out,” Amash said. “If you’re fighting to defend the Constitution, if you find a way to do that that’s different and maybe more effective, then you have to think about that.”   
Normally, you’d expect the libertarian candidate to cut more deeply into the Republican candidate’s base than the Democrat’s, but that is not a certainty. It might even cut in different directions depending on the state. A lot will depend on how comfortable the Democrats’ affluent white suburban professional base is with the their nominee. They may seek a middle option to register their disapproval, just as many are suspected to have done in 2016. Romney would be an easier landing place for them than Amash, but he might also soak up #NeverTrump votes that would otherwise go to the Democrat.

Amash may run in his district to keep his current job, but I expect him to seriously consider a 2020 third party bid, one that could be real trouble for the Democrats, and once again it's one man's arrogance that's going to cost the country dearly.

Justice Finally Served, Con't

More than a decade after receiving one of the most lenient sentences for a serial sex offender in U.S history, multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein has been arrested in New York, sources confirmed to the Miami Herald Saturday night.

A passerby said she saw about a dozen agents knock down the door of Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse around 5:30 p.m.

Epstein, 66, is expected to be arraigned in federal court in New York on Monday on charges that he molested dozens of underage girls in New York and in Florida, the sources said. His arrest, first reported by the Daily Beast, comes nearly two weeks after the Justice Department announced that it would not throw out his 2008 non-prosecution agreement, even though a federal judge ruled it was illegal.

Rumors had been circulating for months that Epstein was under investigation on sex charges in the Southern District of New York. It’s not clear what instances those investigations involved, and the Herald had not been able to confirm the status of the New York probe.

Sources said he was arrested by the FBI pursuant to a sealed indictment that will be unsealed on Monday. He is in custody in New York and a bail hearing is set for Monday.

“That bail hearing will be critical because if they grant him bail, he will disappear and they will never get him,’’ a source in New York told the Herald.

Last November, the Miami Herald published a series of stories, titled Perversion of Justice, that described the ways in which the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Alexander Acosta, worked in conjunction with Epstein’s lawyers to engineer the non-prosecution agreement — and keep it secret from Epstein’s victims. Acosta is now President Donald Trump secretary of labor.

Sources told the Herald that the indictment includes new victims and witnesses who spoke to authorities in New York over the past several months.

“Oh my God. Finally, finally, finally! Justice!’ said Michelle Licata, one of Epstein’s victims who was molested by him when she was 16 years old.

Epstein, who has homes in Manhattan, Palm Beach, New Mexico, Paris and in the U.S. Virgin Islands, sexually abused nearly three dozen girls, mostly 13-16 years old, at his Palm Beach mansion in 1999 to 2006, according to investigators. He used the girls to help recruit other young girls as part of an operation that ran similar to a pyramid scheme. He also had recruiters who helped with his appointments, scheduling as many as three or four girls a day, the FBI probe found.

Acosta met one-on-one with Epstein’s lawyer, Jay Lefkowitz, in October 2007, at a West Palm Beach Marriott. Records reviewed by the Herald showed that it was at that meeting that Acosta agreed to a non-prosecution agreement that gave Epstein and others involved in his operation federal immunity.

The Daily Beast story on Epstein posits that the charges against Epstein could net him 45 years in federal prison, and it backs up the Miami Herald story on the SDNY nailing him with new witnesses and testimony.

And yes, if Epstein is granted bail, he will step on a yacht and vanish like a ghost.  Even if he bugs out with only a fraction of his wealth, he'll be comfortable for the rest of his life in some country with no extradition treaty, probably the UAE or Mali or Russia...especially that last one.  Epstein is pretty mobbed up you know and if he does vanish, expect Trump to pardon him on the way out.

As to the fate of the man who Epstein bought last time to avoid spending the rest of life in prison, current Trump Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, well who knows?  He hasn't been forced to resign yet, why would he be now?

We'll see what happens on Monday.  The Miami Herald team is basically responsible for putting Epstein away, so we'll see if they get the credit for it.

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