Monday, November 18, 2019

Last Call For Bahama Drama

Is this regime even capable of not being absolute garbage in every aspect?  Like, is everyone involved in the Trump universe an amoral grifting asshole who operates by transactional relationships with everyone else?

A CBS News investigation has uncovered a possible pay-for-play scheme involving the Republican National Committee and President Donald Trump's nominee for ambassador to the Bahamas. Emails obtained by CBS News show the nominee, San Diego billionaire Doug Manchester, was asked by the RNC to donate half a million dollars as his confirmation in the Senate hung in the balance, chief investigative correspondent Jim Axelrod reports.

When Hurricane Dorian ravaged the Bahamas in September, Manchester wanted to help. So the San Diego real estate developer, who prefers the nickname "Papa Doug," loaded up his private jet with supplies and headed for the hard-hit Caribbean country where he owned a home – and hoped to soon be serving as U.S. ambassador.

A Trump supporter, Manchester donated $1 million to Trump's inauguration fund. He was offered the Bahamas post the day after Mr. Trump was sworn in. Manchester said Trump told him, "I should probably be the ambassador to the Bahamas and you should be president."

Then, for two and a half years, Manchester's nomination stalled in the Senate.

His Bahamas relief trip caught the attention of the President. Trump tweeted, "I would also like to thank 'Papa' Doug Manchester, hopefully the next Ambassador to the Bahamas, for the incredible amount of time, money and passion he has spent on helping to bring safety to the Bahamas."

Three days after the tweet, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel hit up Manchester for a donation. It was no small sum. In an email, obtained exclusively by CBS News, she asked Manchester, "Would you consider putting together $500,000 worth of contributions from your family to ensure we hit our ambitious fundraising goal?"

The Aristocrats!

"Did you feel like they were putting the arm on you?" Axelrod asked.

"No, I didn't. That's part of politics. It's unbelievable. You give and you give and you give and you give some more and more and more," Manchester said.

"Does any part of you feel if you had just cut the check for $500,000 that you would be the ambassador to the Bahamas?" Axelrod asked.

"No, because first of all, you have to get out of committee and you have to be voted on the floor," Manchester said. "It's a big process."

The Senate confirmation process is exactly what Manchester quickly addressed. He wrote back to McDaniel's request for $500,000, "As you know I am not supposed to do any, but my wife is sending a contribution for $100,000. Assuming I get voted out of the [Foreign Relations Committee] on Wednesday to the floor we need you to have the majority leader bring it to a majority vote … Once confirmed, I our [sic] family will respond!"

"You know what this looks like," Axelrod said.

"Well -- it looks like it to you. But it's not the facts," Manchester said. "My wife gave out of separate funds and she in fact loves Donald Trump

As usual, a couple of observations.

One, the US ambassador post to the Bahamas was essentially left open for 30 months because Trump couldn't find anyone to buy it, I guess.  This is what the US State Department is on a post-Rex Tillerson, Mike Pompeo world with most of the career diplomats having been purged.  There's just lackeys and posts to be filled by those who can give Trump's campaign half a mil.  And yes, I understand ambassadorships have gone to big donors in the past for both parties, but now it's a requirement.

Two, this doesn't even make the top 25 Trump regime scandals so far.  Really, it doesn't.  That should bother everyone on the freakin' planet.  This regime is so debased that it has become a parody of itself, the blatant corruption is now utterly normalized and accepted as how America does business in 2019.

America's still a country built on 400 years of slavery, pillage, and white supremacy.  Trump didn't change that at all.  We just reverted to the historical mean.  Growing up in the 80's and 90's and seeing the Soviet Union go down made my generation think that things were going to get better, and for a while they did.

Oh, and speaking of diplomats...

Several GOP lawmakers were more “shaken” by the testimony from State Department aide David Holmes than they publicly let on, according to one top congressional GOP source.

Behind closed doors, many expressed frustration that Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland would place a call to President Trump in a public restaurant, and are concerned that Holmes’ testimony was the most convincing argument for Trump’s direct involvement in the campaign to pressure Ukraine.

Holmes’ testimony is also making some GOP members worry about how far Sondland will go in his public testimony Wednesday.

Two senior Republican sources said that some House Republicans are also worried about how Sondland will handle himself at Wednesday’s hearing. The sources pointed out that Sondland is not an accomplished diplomat and one source added he believes Sondland was unprepared and ill-fitted for the job as US ambassador to the EU.

According to multiple State Department and former State Department officials, he was not well regarded by the US diplomatic community.

House Republicans are also increasingly worried about the political fallout from the hearings overall and the impact of multiple witnesses who are career professionals.

They are especially concerned about the reaction from independent voters and suburban women voters who are watching Trump attack witnesses both on Twitter and on television.

Sondland is being set up for crucifixion.  We'll see if he can help his case by telling the truth about Trump, or whether he goes down in flames.  As for David Holmes, the staffer for Ambassador Bill Taylor who overheard Trump's telephone tirade in a Ukraine restaurant, he will be testifying on Thursday, so if Sondland decides to lie this week, he's going to get burned before the week is out.

On national TV, no less.

Stay tuned.

A Questionable Glass Of Orange Aid

Washington Post columnist Karen Tumulty makes an excellent point: this White House lies about everything, so nobody believes the reports that Donald Trump's weekend "unscheduled routine physical checkup" is either routine or a checkup.

Who could forget the fables from his personal physician, Harold Bornstein, who released a letter in 2015 assuring the nation that an overweight 70-year-old man with a lifetime of bad eating habits and an aversion to strenuous exercise would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency?” (Bornstein later said Trump himself had dictated the letter.)

Then there was the miraculous growth spurt that occurred between the issuing of his driver’s license in 2012 and his physical in 2018, which reportedly added an inch to his height. That exam also allowed him to come in exactly 1 pound short of being classified as medically obese at a reported 239 pounds. By 2019, however, Trump had added another four pounds and crossed the line.

So now the oldest president in U.S. history claims the purpose of his two-hour medical visit, which was not on his public schedule, was to conduct “phase one of my yearly physical. Everything very good (great!). Will complete next year.” Phase one? What does that entail? Has anyone else ever taken a routine physical in installments spread out over months? Has he signed up for some kind of quirky flexible spending plan with his insurance?

There is, of course, a long history of presidents being less than honest with the country about the state of their health. Grover Cleveland had secret surgery aboard a yacht in the summer of 1893 to hide the fact that he had a tumor on the roof of his mouth. Americans had no clue that Woodrow Wilson’s 1919 stroke was so severe that his wife, Edith, was effectively running the country. In the summer of 1944, the Democratic Party nominated Franklin D. Roosevelt to an unprecedented fourth term, despite the fact that only weeks earlier doctors had written a letter predicting he would not survive to see the end of it. (He died nine months later.) In 1957, a press aide in Dwight D. Eisenhower’s White House told reporters that his stroke had been a “heart attack of the brain,” a phrase the press dutifully reported, as though that was somehow less alarming. Nor did the nation know in real time that the youthful and vigorous John F. Kennedy had a life-threatening case of Addison’s disease, or how close Ronald Reagan came to dying by an assassin’s bullet in 1981.

But medical privacy is something that should not be granted the most powerful person in the world.
As Trump embarks on his effort to convince us that he deserves another four years in office, Americans should demand something more than what they are getting, starting with a briefing from the physicians who treated him at Walter Reed.

“Oh, the rumors are always flying,” his press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Saturday night on Fox News. “He’s as healthy as can be.” Could we please have a second opinion on that?

Let's be honest here. Donald Trump is in terrible health.

He's a 70+ year-old man who eats McDonalds and KFC. You can see it in his speeches and rallies, his slurred pronunciation, his pallor, his obvious physical discomfort standing.  If the truth came out about his health now, in the middle of impeachment, it would be his end and everyone knows it.  Republicans would convince Trump that this was his golden parachute out, his resignation for "health reasons" being the price for dropping the investigation and installing Pence in the caretaker role.

Now, maybe this is Trump's ticket out.  Maybe the truth of his illness is being held behind the scenes as congressional leaders and Pence quietly discuss the terms of Trump's exit.

Or maybe the stress is just killing him and he knows he's screwed.

That Poll-Asked Look, Con't

Donald Trump is in real trouble in Georgia, at least if the latest Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll is to be believed.

A majority of Georgians disapprove of President Donald Trump’s performance in the White House and he appears to be facing a hard fight against each of the five top Democratic candidates seeking to replace him, according to an exclusive Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll.

In head-to-head matchups, former Vice President Joe Biden ran strongest against Trump, leading the president 51% to 43%, fueled by solid support from women and independents. Other matchups against South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and U.S. Sens. Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are much tighter.

The findings provide an early snapshot of the developing race in Georgia one year out from the election and strengthens claims that the state will be a 2020 battleground.

The poll highlighted the sharp degree of polarization around Trump, who is the focus of public impeachment hearings that begin Wednesday. About 54% of registered Georgia voters disapprove of his record while 44% approve.

It also shows the unsettled nature of U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s quest for a second term in 2020. Though about 50% of Georgians approve of his job performance, only about one-third say they’d support him in next year’s election. A bigger group — 41% — say their choice depends on who the Democratic nominee is.

The findings help illustrate the political challenges facing both parties as Democrats target Georgia as a 2020 battleground, aiming to flip both U.S. Senate seats up for grabs next year and carry the state in a presidential election for the first time since Bill Clinton’s 1992 victory.

The poll was conducted Oct. 30 to Nov. 8 by the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

And it's important to note that GOP Sen. David Perdue isn't a lock for re-election either.  People forget that Ohio and Virginia were in play as battleground states 10 years ago, now they are most certainly not.  Other states have risen to take their place, Georgia is looking like one of the new ones.  I think most Dems would be happy to trade Ohio for Georgia, for example.

Well, unless you happen to live there.

As far as the non-Biden candidates go, Trump only gets 43% against any of the four, with Sanders and Warren get 47%, Mayor Pete 45%, and Kamala Harris 44%.

And Perdue?  Well, he only gets 35% of the vote, with 21% going to the Democrat, but a plurality of 40% say "It depends on who Perdue's Democratic opponent is" and that can't be good news for him.

Impeachment is still split, 46% want Trump removed from office, 47% think he should remain...but this is a state Trump won by 5 points even with Gary Johnson getting 3%.

Democrats should be spending a lot more time in Georgia in 2020.


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