Sunday, December 8, 2019

Last Call For Wag The Dog

I haven't talked much about this week's shooting at Pensacola Naval Air Base in Florida because the investigation is still ongoing and I don't trust the Trump regime when there are Saudi nationals involved, as the suspect appears to be.  People did get killed here, and that's a significant story.  But with Trump facing impeachment this week, it's very clear that some in the regime wants a "terrorist attack" story to bludgeon Democrats with.

National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien said that Friday's shooting at a naval base in Florida "appears to be a terrorist attack." The gunman was a member of the Saudi Air Force and an aviation student at the base.

"To me, it appears to be a terrorist attack," O'Brien said on "Face the Nation" on Sunday. "I don't want to prejudge the investigation, but it appears that this may be someone that was radicalized, whether it was here or it's unclear if he's got any other ties to other organizations."

The FBI identified the shooter as Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, 21. The gunman opened fire in a classroom at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Friday, killing three sailors and wounding two sheriff's deputies.

Alshamrani was killed after exchanging gunfire with the sheriff's deputies.

President Trump and top law enforcement officials have declined to say whether the shooting was terrorism related. A U.S. official told the Associated Press that Alshamrani and three others watched videos of mass shootings during a dinner party he hosted a dinner party earlier in the week.

O'Brien said the FBI doesn't know if Alshamrani was acting alone, but from what he is seeing in public reports, "this looks like something that's terrorism, or akin to terrorism." The Saudi government, he added, has committed to fully cooperating with the investigation.

"This is a guy who may very well have had said some things on Twitter that suggest he was radicalized," he said. "He went out and killed a number of Americans, so my point is it looks like terrorism."

A second lieutenant in the Royal Saudi Air Force, Alshamrani was a student naval flight officer of Naval Aviation Schools Command.

The Navy identified the three sailors killed in Friday's attack as Joshua Kaleb Watson, 23, Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, 19, and Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters, 21.

The problem for Trump is that it's a Saudi "terrorist attack" story, and the Saudis, if they really wanted to hurt Trump right now, could make his life absolutely miserable. He has to proceed carefully.  Other Republicans, not so much.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said Sunday the deadly shooting at a Navy base in Florida should “inform our ongoing relationship with Saudi Arabia,” calling for an investigation with Saudi cooperation and for greater vetting of U.S.-based Saudi nationals and trainees.

A Saudi aviation student training at Naval Air Station Pensacola shot three people to death on Friday and wounded 11 others before he was killed by police. After the shooting, Gaetz, whose congressional district includes the naval base, called it an “act of terrorism.” Authorities have not confirmed that characterization.

On Sunday, Gaetz said on ABC’s “This Week” that he “directly delivered” a no-tolerance message to the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., Princess Reema bint Bandar, when she offered her condolences. The princess, who condemned the attack on Twitter, assured Gaetz that Saudi intelligence will work with the U.S. government, the congressman said.

“We want no interference from the kingdom as it relates to Saudis that we have,” Gaetz said.

“And if there are Saudis that we do not have that may have been involved in any way in the planning, inspiration, financing or execution of this,” he added, “we expect Saudi intelligence to work with our government to find the people accountable and hold them responsible

Well, not too much cooperation, otherwise somebody might figure out Trump and especially Jared Kushner are in deep to the Saudis for billions...

The Reach To Impeach, Con't

House Judiciary Democrats were putting in another Saturday session to begin drafting article of impeachment against Donald Trump, articles that we could see presented Monday by the committee and could see a full House vote in a matter of days.

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives met on Saturday to prepare for what could be the final week of their months-old impeachment inquiry that has imperiled Donald Trump’s presidency.

After emerging from an all-day closed door meeting, House Judiciary Committee Democratic lawmakers said they were still in the process of drafting formal charges, known as articles of impeachment, that the panel could recommend for a full House vote as early as Thursday. 
Representative Jamie Raskin told reporters on Saturday evening the committee had spent the day digesting information they received from the House Intelligence Committee and constitutional law scholars who testified before Congress on Wednesday. “So now we are in the process of putting the law and the facts together to begin to think about the next step,” he said. 
The lawmakers released a 55-page report on Saturday morning outlining what they see as the constitutional grounds on which articles of impeachment could be built.
In releasing the report, the panel’s Democratic chairman, Jerrold Nadler, said impeachment was the only way to hold the Republican president to account.

“President Trump abused his power, betrayed our national security, and corrupted our elections, all for personal gain,” Nadler said in a statement. “The Constitution details only one remedy for this misconduct: impeachment.” 
“Now we have the task of focusing on what the exact articles might be,” said Eric Swalwell, another Democratic lawmaker in the House Judiciary Committee, on his way out of Saturday’s meeting. 
The committee will hold a public hearing on Monday to consider evidence gathered in the inquiry.

House Republicans of course are screaming bloody murder.

Republicans have called for a full day of proceedings to examine their own evidence, including a 110-page report saying the inquiry had found no evidence of an impeachable offense. 
On Friday, the White House told Nadler it would not take part in the panel’s hearings and condemned the inquiry as “completely baseless.” Nadler, in turn, expressed his disappointment: “The American people deserve answers from President Trump.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, directed the committee to draw up the charges on Thursday after weeks of investigation into Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic nomination to face the president in the 2020 U.S. election.

The one thing everyone seems to agree on is that Pelosi has the votes for the articles.  It's not going to be a unanimous vote by Democrats, and zero Republicans will vote for them because they're all cowards, but she absolutely has the votes to pass them.

It's extremely likely by this time next week, Donald Trump will have been impeached and will be awaiting a Senate trial.  Unfortunately, that means Mitch McConnell can run a Senate trial however he wants, even if Chief Justice Roberts will be presiding.

That won't happen until January though, so we'll wee.

Sunday Long Read: Class Of 2000

The 2000 class of Minford High School in Minford, Ohio was the beginning of the opioid crisis in Ohio's most drug-ridden county, Scioto.  OxyContin had just arrived in town and these folks and many Millennials like them, it was the beginning of the end.

The Minford High School Class of 2000, in rural Minford, Ohio, began its freshman year as a typical class. It had its jocks and its cheerleaders, its slackers and its overachievers. 
But by the time the group entered its final year, its members said, painkillers were nearly ubiquitous, found in classrooms, school bathrooms and at weekend parties. 
Over the next decade, Scioto County, which includes Minford, would become ground zero in the state’s fight against opioids. It would lead Ohio with its rates of fatal drug overdoses, drug-related incarcerations and babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome. 
To understand both the scope and the devastating consequences of what is now a public health crisis, we talked to dozens of members of the Class of 2000. Many opened up to us about struggles with addiction, whether their own or their relatives’. They told us about the years lost to getting high and in cycling in and out of jail, prison and rehab. They mourned the three classmates whose addictions killed them. 
In all of the interviews, one thing was clear: Opioids have spared relatively no one in Scioto County; everyone appears to know someone whose life has been affected by addiction.

Purdue Pharma introduced its opioid painkiller, OxyContin, in 1996, when the Class of 2000 entered high school. Some students began experimenting, often combining prescription opiates with alcohol at parties. 
For many, what started as a weekend dalliance morphed swiftly into an all-consuming dependence. They swallowed opiates before school, snorted painkillers in the bathrooms and crushed up pills with a baseball on desks at the back of classrooms.

Ohio was Ground Zero for the opioid crisis, and Minford and Scioto County was the epicenter.  For decades now the area has been fighting addiction and the horrors it caused.

And it wasn't the cities, it wasn't the gangs, it was the pharmaceutical companies.

Corporate America destroyed a generation with painkillers and appetite pills.

Never forget that.

The Klep-Trump-Cracy Continues

Donald Trump is making sure his 2020 campaign is spending millions at Trump businesses and properties, meaning he's basically stealing campaign funds in broad daylight, and nobody will do a thing about it.

The Trump campaign is spending big money at the president’s properties, according to a review of Federal Election Commission data. Yet the records show that Donald Trump still has not donated any of his own funds to the campaign. That means America’s billionaire-in-chief has shifted $1.7 million from campaign donors into his private business. 
Forbes first reported on this arrangement one year ago, when documents showed that Trump’s companies had taken in $1.1 million of campaign-donor money. By the end of 2018, that figure had climbed to $1.3 million. Subsequent disclosures show that more than $450,000 flowed into the Trump empire from January to September of this year. 
The biggest beneficiary has been Trump Tower Commercial LLC, which controls the president’s famous Manhattan skyscraper. Trump still owns the entity, which has accepted $1.2 million in rent from the reelection effort and another $225,000 from the Republican National Committee. Since Trump became president, an estimated 1.6% of the tower’s revenue has come from either the RNC or the reelection campaign. The majority of Trump Tower’s income comes from Gucci, which leases 49,000 square feet of prime retail space on Fifth Avenue for roughly $21 million a year. 
In the basement of Trump Tower, a much smaller space now serves as an official campaign store, selling hats, T-shirts, signs and other memorabilia. The rent payments for that space could be flowing through an entity called Trump Restaurants LLC, which has taken in $87,000 of rent since Trump became president. On a price-per-square-foot basis, the campaign may be paying more for that basement space than Gucci is paying for its street-level location upstairs. Smaller spaces tend to command higher rates, but the payments have nonetheless raised eyebrows
The disclosures reveal one payment to Tag Air Inc., an entity set up to lease the president’s personal Boeing 757. It was the first time since Trump took office—and therefore gained access to Air Force One—that the campaign paid the president’s private aviation company. The amount was small, just $2,700, and the exact rationale remains unclear. 
A spokesperson for the Trump Organization ignored specific questions about the expenditures, instead issuing a general statement asserting that the transactions are legal. “The campaign pays fair market value under negotiated rental agreements and other service agreements in compliance with the law,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “The campaign works closely with campaign counsel to ensure strict compliance in this regard.”

Again, all this is patently illegal.  Trump having his campaign spend millions at Trump properties is just a small part of his continual emoluments scam, lobbyists and government agencies are spending tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions at Trump properties, hotels, and restaurants.  Just what we know of Trump's government graft should land him in prison for the rest of his life, but nobody can prosecute him in office.

And of course, nobody in the GOP will call him on it, so he gets away with it.
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