Friday, October 9, 2020

Last Call For Graham, Crackers

Republican incumbent Lindsey Graham and Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison will no longer debate Friday night after Harrison declined to participate unless Graham took a coronavirus test in advance and Graham denied the request.

Instead of an hour-long debate, the two candidates will each participate in separate 30-minute interviews hosted by television station WSPA in Spartanburg.

The forum will air live on channels in all the major media markets of South Carolina: WCBD in Charleston, WBTW in Myrtle Beach, WLTX in Columbia, WJBF in Aiken and WSAV in Hilton Head and Beaufort. It will also be streamed live online.

The decision put an end to tumultuous back-and-forth in the final 24 hours before the debate after Harrison issued a public demand Thursday night that Graham take a coronavirus test before they debated.

Graham cast the move as a last-ditch attempt to escape the debate by adding a new requirement after the two candidates had already agreed to the debate rules weeks ago. The senator refused to take the test, citing a note from the attending physician of Congress saying that he did not need one.

Harrison continued to press for it Friday, saying in an appearance on ABC’s The View that he considered it to be a matter of safety.

“We’re disappointed that Lindsey has failed to take a simple coronavirus test, but we appreciate our hosts were able to change the event format to make it safer for everyone,” said Harrison campaign spokesman Guy King. “Jaime will be there in Spartanburg to talk to voters.”

In a series of tweets, Graham said Harrison was just trying to avoid scrutiny.

“Mr. Harrison is ducking the debate because the more we know about his radical policies, the less likely he is to win,” Graham said. “It’s not about medicine, its politics.”

I mean all Graham had to do was take the test, because Graham's FUCKING BEEN IN CONTACT WITH DONALD TRUMP WHO HAS COVID-19. 


Sorry. That was probably uncalled for, and it yes, Graham is correct that Harrison's public request for Graham to be tested was obviously (at least in part) bait for Graham to take. 

Look, clearly Harrison was goading Graham into blowing his cool and trying to throw Graham off his game before a debate performance in by what all accounts is neck-and-neck contest. For all his ludicrous faults and stupid hypocrisy, Lindsey Graham is a seasoned career politician and should have expected this and dealt with it appropriately. 

Yes, he'd have to say "Look I took the test, I'm negative" but then the two of them would hash it out on the debate stage. Harrison almost certainly would have been gracious enough to thank Graham at the debate for agreeing to the test and the two of them could have played "Well Bless Your Heart" on TV for a while like Southern politicians have been doing for decades. I grew up in NC, I expect at least some genteel behavior in my villains in matters such as this, even if it is the cake scene between Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio in Django Unchained.

What I wasn't expecting was that Graham would be so completely unnerved by this enough that he refused the request, handing Harrison the night, the debate, the argument, and most likely the Senate seat to boot, especially after Trump's similarly ridiculous behavior in the last ten days has all but cost him the race against Joe Biden.

But you see, that's worth it for Graham, because if he tests positive?

Graham is chair of the Senate Judiciary with the Amy Coney Barrett nomination. No Graham, because he tests positive, no hearing before the election.  Of course, he could be ill and he's literally risking his life by not knowing if he has COVID-19 or worse, he's hiding a positive test.

Worse still, if Graham is infected, he's risking the lives of everyone he comes in contact with, including his GOP colleagues.

I guess that's my fault. American exceptionalism was always a myth, and that applies to our villains as well as our heroes. Our historic bad guys, like Trump and Graham? 

Just petty little crybabies at heart. Sad, depressingly pathetic mortal fools.

Time to put them and the rest of the GOP in the ol' dustbin of history.

Lowering The Barr, Orange Meltdown Edition

Not even Bill Barr, the worst Attorney General in modern history, is willing to completely sell his soul and go down in history as one of the great American villains by indicting Joe Biden weeks before the election. At least, not yet anyway. Donald Trump is not amused in the least.

President Trump berated his own cabinet officers on Thursday for not prosecuting or implicating his political enemies, lashing out even as he announced that he hoped to return to the campaign trail on Saturday just nine days after he tested positive for the coronavirus.

In his first extended public comments since learning he had the virus last week, Mr. Trump went on the offensive not only against his challenger, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., but the Democratic running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, whom he called “a monster” and a “communist.” He balked at participating in his debate next Thursday with Mr. Biden if held remotely as the organizers decided to do out of health concerns.

But Mr. Trump secured a statement from the White House physician clearing him to return to public activities on Saturday and then promptly said he would try to hold a campaign rally in Florida that day, two days earlier than the doctor had originally said was needed to determine whether he was truly out of danger. The president again dismissed the virus, saying, “when you catch it, you get better,” ignoring the more than 212,000 people in the United States who did not get better and died from it.

In his statement on Thursday night, the physician, Dr. Sean P. Conley, reported that Mr. Trump “has responded extremely well to treatment” and that by Saturday, “I fully expect the president’s return to public engagement.” Dr. Conley, who has previously acknowledged providing the public with a rosy view of the president’s condition to satisfy his patient, contradicted his own timeline offered upon Mr. Trump’s release from the hospital, when he said doctors wanted to “get through to Monday.”

The president has not been seen in person since returning to the White House this Monday, but he sought to reassert himself on the public stage with a pair of telephone interviews with Fox News and Fox Business as well as a video and a series of Twitter messages. Even for him, they were scattershot performances, ones that advisers said reflected increasing frustration over his political fortunes only 26 days before an election with surveys that show him trailing Mr. Biden by double digits.

The president castigated his own team, declaring that Attorney General William P. Barr would go down in history “as a very sad, sad situation” if he did not indict Democrats like Mr. Biden and former President Barack Obama. He complained that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had not released Hillary Clinton’s emails, saying, “I’m not happy about him for that reason.” And he targeted Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director. “He’s been disappointing,” Mr. Trump said.
As Mad King Donald grows increasingly desperate in what looks more and more like the final days of his blighted reign, and the GOP looks to go down with him in a number of downticket disasters, Barr has even more bad news for his master (at least if WIN THE MORNING 2.0 is to be believed.)
Attorney General Bill Barr has begun telling top Republicans that the Justice Department’s sweeping review into the origins of the Russia investigation will not be released before the election, a senior White House official and a congressional aide briefed on the conversations tell Axios.

Why it matters: Republicans had long hoped the report, led by U.S. Attorney John Durham, would be a bombshell containing revelations about what they allege were serious abuses by the Obama administration and intelligence community probing for connections between President Trump and Russia. 
“This is the nightmare scenario. Essentially, the year and a half of arguably the number one issue for the Republican base is virtually meaningless if this doesn't happen before the election," a GOP congressional aide told Axios. 
Barr has made clear that they should not expect any further indictments or a comprehensive report before Nov. 3, our sources say. 
The Justice Department declined to comment. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
I mean the whole point of a sham indictment of your political enemies is to indict them before the election, so that you can arrest them and then declare victory, yes? Republicans facing the American voting public want Barr to at least deliver something of an October Surprise that will shift the election in their favor.

Trump's allies have long asserted that Durham's investigation will result in the arrests of top Obama administration officials. So far, Durham's probe has resulted in one criminal case: a former FBI lawyer who pleaded guilty to altering an email used to help obtain a surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. 
A former DOJ official told Axios that Durham "has a reputation for being thorough, but also somewhat slow, in part because of the big tasks he's undertaken." The official pointed to Durham's Obama-era investigation into the CIA's use of torture, one that took years for him to complete. "It comes with the territory of a sprawling investigation that every stone you turn over needs to be fully scrutinized," the former official said.

What's next: Top Republicans are planning to pressure Barr to get ahead of Durham and temper expectations for the timing of the report's release, as well declassify whatever remaining documents there are connected to the probe. 
"Bill Barr should follow the instructions of the president to declassify and release all the documents the FBI are sitting on. There's no good reason for him to withhold this information," a senior White House official said. 
Earlier this week, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe approved the release of a large binder full of documents to the DOJ to assist their review of the Durham probe.
There's still a very high chance that there will be "leaks" in the days leading up to the election, ask Hillary Clinton how implying an FBI investigation of a Democratic frontrunner two weeks before election day turns out. Barr doesn't need to indict Joe Biden in order to damage his campaign and swing the election in Trump's favor.

But Biden is so far ahead right now (FiveThirtyEight's national polling average has Biden cracking the double-digit ceiling with a 10.1% lead) that anything short of actually perp walking Joe into federal custody won't give Trump a second term. Maybe Barr has decided that it's not worth going down as, you know, an infamous American bastard in history along with the likes of Benedict Arnold, John Wilkes Booth, and, well, Donald Trump.

We'll see. Still plenty of time to break democracy on the way out.

Our Little White Supremacist Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

Two big stories to process story this week on just how crazed Trump supporters have become in 2020, as first in Michigan, multiple armed domestic "militia" members were charged by the FBI on Wednesday in a plot to kidnap Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and overthrow the state's government.

Federal agents said Thursday they thwarted a plot to violently overthrow the government and kidnap and harm Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — a conspiracy that included visits to her home in northern Michigan and training with firearms and explosive devices.

The alleged plots involved six conspirators unhappy in part about Whitmer's coronavirus restrictions, calling her a "tyrant." They wanted to create a "self-sufficient" society free from unconstitutional state governments and discussed plans to storm the Capitol and take hostages, according to FBI documents filed in court.

Organizers allegedly met starting in June, including at a Second Amendment rally in Lansing and in a Grand Rapids shop basement accessed through a secret door hidden under a rug.

The plot also included at least seven members of a Michigan militia known as the Wolverine Watchmen accused by state officials on Thursday of targeting police, making threats to "instigate civil war" and helping to plan Whitmer's kidnapping, according to state and federal officials.

The federal court filing alleges the conspirators twice conducted surveillance at Whitmer's personal vacation home in northern Michigan and discussed kidnapping her to a "secure location" in Wisconsin to stand "trial" for treason prior to the Nov. 3 election.

"Several members talked about murdering 'tyrants' or 'taking' a sitting governor," an FBI agent wrote in the affidavit. "The group decided they needed to increase their numbers and encouraged each other to talk to their neighbors and spread their message."

After the charges were revealed, Whitmer slammed President Donald Trump for failing to condemn in strong enough terms hate groups, such as the far-right Proud Boys, whom he told to "stand back and stand by" during the debate last week.

"Hate groups heard the president's words not as a rebuke, but as a rallying cry, a call to action," the Democratic governor said.
Gov. Whitmer is correct.

More than once, Donald Trump tweeted to "LIBERATE MICHIGAN".

The white supremacist domestic terrorists who follow him tried to do exactly that.

But the second story is far worse, frankly. Actual neo-Nazis, a domestic terrorist movement called The Base, have been recruiting law enforcement and military to start a white supremacist "race war". The Guardian's Jason Wilson reveals the monster behind The Base: a former US military contractor named Rinaldo Nazzaro.
The Guardian has learned the true identity of the leader and founder of the US-based neo-Nazi terror network the Base, which was recently the target of raids by the FBI after an investigation into domestic terrorism uncovered their plans to start a race war.

Members of the group stand accused of federal hate crimes, murder plots and firearms offenses, and have harbored international fugitives in recent months.

The Base’s leader previously operated under the aliases “Norman Spear” and “Roman Wolf”. Members of the network do not know his true identity due to the group’s culture of internal secrecy.

But the Guardian can reveal that “Norman Spear” is in fact US-born Rinaldo Nazzaro, 46, who has a long history of advertising his services as an intelligence, military and security contractor. He has claimed, under his alias, to have served in Russia and Afghanistan.

The revelation of his identity comes after a months-long investigation by the Guardian into Nazzaro and the activities of the Base.

While Nazzaro’s most recently used address is in New Jersey, there is evidence supporting his claims of being based in Russia, where he lives with his Russian wife.

The Base – which is an approximate English translation of “al-Qaida” – began recruiting in late 2018. The white supremacy group, which has regional and international cells, extols the virtues of an all-out race war while specifically targeting African Americans and Jewish people.

Using encrypted apps, members of the highly organized group planned terror campaigns; vandalized synagogues; established armed training camps and recruited new members.

The US attorney for Maryland, Robert K Hur, speaking after the recent arrest of three members of the Base, said that they “did more than talk – they took steps to act and act violently on their racist views”

These guys are bad news and they will be with us for a long time. In a Biden administration, expect these guys to be a real threat. 
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