Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Last Call For Putin On The Ritz, Con't

As President Biden meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week, you may still be wondering what the Former Guy ™ said to Putin in Helsinki in 2019, and how House Democrats were very eager to get to the bottom of Trump and Putin's conversations without any witnesses (well, a translator who House Democrats definitely wanted to talk to).

But that was then and this is now, and now we're getting well and solidly into the "We're looking forward, not backward" phase of a Democratic administration that completely refuses to hold its predecessor to account, guaranteeing an even worse administration later this decade.

Ahead of President Joe Biden’s meeting Wednesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, congressional Democrats said they are no longer seeking records of former President Donald Trump’s private meetings with the Russian leader, despite previous concerns Trump tried to conceal details of their conversations.

"The Biden administration is looking forward, not back," said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., whose panel once considered subpoenaing Trump’s interpreter to testify about his July 2018 meeting with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, where only an American interpreter was also present.

From 2017 to 2019, amid former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, Democrats raised questions about Trump’s conversations with Putin, especially after Trump said in Helsinki, standing next to Putin, that he believed his 2017 denial of election interference, over the findings of U.S. intelligence.

Similar questions were raised after the disclosure of an unplanned conversation with Putin during a G-20 dinner in Osaka, Japan, in June 2019 during which Trump was not accompanied by an interpreter.

He had told reporters beforehand that his private discussions with Putin were "none of your business."

In 2019, the Washington Post reported that the former president went to "extraordinary lengths" to conceal details of his conversations with Putin, leaving some subordinates without a clear record of the world leaders’ interactions.

Rep. Tom Malinowksi, D-N.J., a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who served as an assistant secretary of state in the Obama administration, said details about Trump and Putin’s conversations are "historically very interesting," but less relevant given that Trump "is not shaping US policy towards Russia or anything else."

"At the time, my concern was not so much that the former president and Putin had agreed ... to do something not in our interest, because President Trump would have to tell somebody that," Malinowski said. "It was more the signal that it sent to Putin that Trump wanted to confide in him above his own team."

Foreign policy analysts ABC News spoke with ahead of Biden’s meeting with Putin in Geneva largely downplayed concerns about Trump and Putin’s conversations, and their impact on Wednesday's summit.

"You’d like to have it, but I don’t think it matters much," Ian Bremmer, a political scientist and president of the Eurasia Group, who first reported Trump and Putin’s second meeting at the G-20 in 2017, told ABC New
s.
 
And there we are. "Don't think it matters much."
 
We made this mistake with Obama and Dubya and got Trump. We barely escaped Trump with Biden, and noe Biden is making the same "forward, not backward" mistake.
 
 Our next GOP tyrant will be far, far worse than Trump.

The Big Lie, Con't

Donald Trump tried to pressure both Bill Barr and his eventual Attorney General replacement, Jeffrey Rosen, into declaring the 2020 presidential election fraudulent, thus justifying whatever actions Trump then took to remain in power.
 
New emails from Justice Department and White House officials show how President Donald Trump's allies pressured then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to consider false and outlandish allegations that the 2020 election had been stolen at the same time that Rosen was being elevated to lead the Justice Department in December 2020. 
The emails show how Trump's White House assistant, chief of staff and other allies pressured the Justice Department to investigate claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election -- and how Trump directed allies to push Rosen to join the legal effort to challenge the election result, according to a batch of emails released by Democrats on the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday. 
The documents also offer a window into how Rosen dealt with the political pressure coming from the White House. 
Trump's campaign to pressure the Justice Department was occurring as he was replacing Attorney General William Barr -- who had publicly said there wasn't evidence of widespread voter fraud -- with Rosen, the emails show. 
On December 14 at 4:57 p.m., Trump's assistant sent Rosen and DOJ official Richard Donoghue a document claiming to show voter fraud in Antrim County, Michigan. An aide to Donoghue forwarded the document to the US Attorneys for the Eastern and Western Districts in Michigan. Less than an hour later, Trump tweeted that Barr would be leaving the Justice Department just before Christmas, elevating both Rosen and Donoghue to the top spots at DOJ. 
The emails also provide new detail into how Mark Meadows, then-White House chief of staff, directed Rosen to have then-Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark -- who reportedly urged Trump to make him acting attorney general instead of Rosen -- investigate voter fraud issues in Georgia before the US attorney there resigned in January. 
Amid the pressure, Rosen said he refused to speak to Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani about his false claims that the 2020 election was stolen.  
When Meadows sought to have Rosen arrange an FBI meeting with a Giuliani ally pushing a conspiracy theory that Italy was using military technology and satellites to somehow change votes to Joe Biden, Rosen said he would not help Giuliani. 
"I flatly refused, said I would not be giving any special treatment to Giuliani or any of his 'witnesses,' and re-affirmed yet again that I will not talk to Giuliani about any of this," Rosen wrote to Donoghue.
The new emails provide additional detail to reports earlier this month from CNN, The New York Times and others on Meadows' emails to Rosen after the election, which revealed how the top White House aide had urged the Justice Department to take action for Trump's benefit. The emails included a list of complaints about voting procedures in New Mexico, alleged "anomalies" in a Georgia county and the claims about Italian satellites. 
 
Needless to say, the House Oversight Committee would very, very much like to talk to Jeffrey Rosen, Bill Donoghue, Mark Meadows, Jeffrey Clark, and a whole boatload of other people, and I expect the subpoenas to fly fast and furious.

Now, whether or not the Biden White House will step in and block the subpoenas in order to protect the Executive branch, well...

That'll be the next fight, yes?
 
 

The GOP's Race To The Bottom In Schools

A well-funded, multi-billion dollar, organized right-wing assault on school boards across the country is under way this summer, and the goal is to enrage liberal white parents in wealthy suburban school districts that the demonic specter of CRITICAL RACE THEORY is going to indoctrinate precious Conner and Madison into hating white people or something.

A booby-trapped billboard. A list of demands. A conservative media frenzy.

Jeff Porter, superintendent of a wealthy suburban school district in Maine, had no idea that his community was about to become part of a national battle when in the summer of 2020 a father began accusing the district of trying to “indoctrinate” his children by teaching critical race theory.

To Porter, the issue was straightforward: The district had denounced white supremacy in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by police, but did not teach critical race theory, the academic study of racism’s pervasive impact.

But the parent, Shawn McBreairty, grew increasingly disgruntled and soon connected with No Left Turn in Education, a rapidly growing national group that supports parents as they fight against lessons on systemic racism. That action turned a heated conflict with the school board into one that soon drew national attention, mobilized by a new, increasingly coordinated movement with the backing of major conservative organizations and media outlets.

It’s a movement that has amped up grassroots parental organizing around the country, bringing the lens and stakes of national politics — along with the playbook of seasoned GOP activists — to school boards.

“I was very na├»ve at the beginning of the year,” Porter said. “I thought it was a concerned parent who had taken it a little too far. I didn't understand this until recently, but these were tactics from national organizations to discredit the entire district.”


McBreairty became Maine’s chapter leader for No Left Turn last summer. He has since put up a billboard-size sign of a school board member’s face on his lawn and said it was surrounded by rat traps to prevent theft. “This is a war with the left,” McBreairty said in an email to NBC News, “and in war, tactics and strategy can become blurry.” The fight has only escalated, and it shows no sign of slowing.

Conflicts like this are playing out in cities and towns across the country, amid the rise of at least 165 local and national groups that aim to disrupt lessons on race and gender, according to an NBC News analysis of media reports and organizations’ promotional materials. Reinforced by conservative think tanks, law firms and activist parents, these groups have found allies in families frustrated over Covid-19 restrictions in schools and have weaponized the right’s opposition to critical race theory, turning it into a political rallying point.


While the efforts vary, they share strategies of disruption, publicity and mobilization. The groups swarm school board meetings, inundate districts with time-consuming public records requests and file lawsuits and federal complaints alleging discrimination against white students. They have become media darlings in conservative circles and made the debate over critical race theory a national issue.

Virtually all school districts insist they are not teaching critical race theory, but many activists and parents have begun using it as a catch-all term to refer to what schools often call equity programs, teaching about racism or LGBTQ-inclusive policies.

Now, conservative activists are setting their sights on ousting as many school board members as they can, and local Republican Parties have vowed to help, viewing the revolt against critical race theory as akin to the tea party wave from a decade ago.

Activists and parents have launched 50 recall efforts this year aimed at unseating 126 school board members, according to a new report from Ballotpedia, a website that tracks U.S. politics and elections. Most of those recalls — which already surpass the record for a single year — started as objections to Covid-19 restrictions, but five of the most recently launched campaigns, including a particularly contentious fight in Loudoun County, Virginia, include concerns about critical race theory.

And, in a new development this year, rather than targeting a single member, these efforts often target multiple members or entire school boards, according to Abbey Smith, a researcher at Ballotpedia
.
 
Parents were already furious at school boards over COVID last year. Now they'll be looking for heads to roll, and the GOP has given them a target-rich environment.  And remember, the ultimate goal here is to get rid of the notion that equality should exist at all...and maybe public schools shouldn't exist, either.

We're well on our way down that path now, but unless Democrats get in gear, we're not going to have schools much longer. You don't need history, math, and science to work at the Amazon warehouse, but without it, you may never work anywhere else.

Education will be one more thing reserved for the "deserving", either those who have the luxury of homeschooling, or private schooling. Public education for the masses is something Republicans have wanted gone for a long time now, and they've found one of their strongest attacks yet.

Underestimate this at your own peril, and you'd better be checking on school boards where you and yours live, because I guarantee you these guys are out there, waiting to pounce on and destroy any voice that tells kids anything other than the strong should rule the weak by force.

The time to get involved in local politics was 2008, folks.
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