When the Donald says ‘Lock her up,’ is he talking about Ivanka?

You really can’t make this shit up anymore. Ivanka Trump used her personal email for government business.

Seriously?

Isn’t this the same Ivanka Trump who is the daughter of one Donald J. Trump who practically made it his campaign slogan to “lock her up” (referring to Hillary Clinton) because she used a private email server while serving as Secretary of State.

My irony meter broke a long time ago, but still.

Of course, the Trumpster himself still uses his personal iPhone on a regular basis, which is a much bigger privacy risk than Hillary’s use of her well-protected private email server ever was.

Trump apologists will say that there are hypocrites on both sides of the aisle. Oh no, not like this. That, my friends, is a false equivalence, something that the Donald is truly an expert at invoking.[1]


[1] Oh sure, Ivanka’s attorney Abbe Lowell immediately went into overdrive trying to demonstrate the differences between what Hillary did and what Ivanka did. I’ll tell you the primary difference: Ivanka had four years of Hillary’s example to demonstrate to her why using her private email for government business would not be a good idea.

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Thankful for Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts?

This morning I’m writing ten words that I never thought I would write.

Today I’m grateful for Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts

What happened to precipitate this? Roughly, here’s what happpened:

  • A federal judge, specifically U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar, issued a temporary restraining order against Trump’s asylum policy Monday morning because it violated a provision of the current federal asylum law.
  • Trump criticized Judge Tigar on Twitter, calling him an “Obama Judge” and promising that things were going to change.
  • In a rare rebuke, Chief Justice John Roberts responded that “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.”
  • Trump, being who he is, immediately picked a feud with the Chief Justice, responding “Sorry Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have ‘Obama judges,’ and they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country.”

Is there anyone with any authority on this planet that President Drumpf has not started a feud with?

But go ahead President Drumpf, pick a feud with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. It’s not like you’re ever going to need him to decide in your favor.

Are you?

https://www.npr.org/player/embed/670079601/670142294



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Of course the Donald stands with the Saudis

So, a number of people were surprised when the Donaldannounced that the United States would remain “steadfast partners” with SaudiArabia after it’s become clear that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Kashoggi.

We made our beds with the Saudis a long time ago. It’s not like they are new to human rights violations. Just look at what Amnesty International had to say about them for 2017-18. The Saudis are well known to engage in arbitrary arrest and torture, arbitrary capital punishment, to condone (or at least ignore)human trafficking and sexual  slavery. If we actually cared about human rights, we would have stopped doing business with these people a long time ago.

The only difference is that this time it was one of “our guys.” By one of our guys I don’t mean an American citizen. But I do meansomeone who worked for the Washington Post, who had permanent residency here,and where three of his four children were American citizens.

Trump, as is his wont, rejected the unanimous conclusion of the American intelligence community that bin Salman ordered the killings because it did not suit Trump’s narrative. So, Trump claims, we may “never know” whether bin Salman was involved.

Admittedly we didn’t catch bin Salman with the smoking gun actually pulling the trigger. Or even on tape actually ordering the hit. But folks, they sent over a 15-person assassination squad to get one poor journalist who happened to be a critic of the regime. As he was going to the embassy to apply for a marriage certificate.

The Crown Prince didn’t know?

And the Pope is no longer catholic?

But Trump still treats us all as is we were all imbeciles. And his supporters still swallow this bile as if they were all lap dogs.

Sheesh. Democracy in 2018!

https://www.npr.org/player/embed/669666348/669761248

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If they were just marginally competent liars, we’d all be screwed

You would think that this would be hard to do, but the Saudi Arabian Royal Family are actually worse liars than the Trump regime.

What am I talking about?

The murder of Jamal Kashoggi, of course.

Let’s review: Jamal Kashoggi was a journalist born in Saudi Arabian who eventually moved to the United States.[1] A former general manager and editor-in-chief of Al-Arab News Channel, Kashoggi eventually went into exile because he had written articles critical of the Saudi regime. While in exile, Kashoggi fell in love with and planned to marry Hatice Cengiz, a 36-year-old PhD candidate at a university in Istanbul, whom he had met at a conference.

On October 2, 2018, Kashoggi went into the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul in order to take care of paperwork that would allow him to marry Cengiz. He never came out.

What was the Saudi regime’s response?

  • We don’t know nuttin about it.
  • We think he came out of the building, it just wasn’t caught on camera.
  • Okay, he never came out of the building.
  • He was killed in a “fistfight” resulting from a dispute inside the embassy.

Now it turns out that not only was he dismembered by a 15 member assassination team linked to the Crown Prince, but there is an audio tape of his death that the Turkish government recorded[2] that they gave to the Trump administration. At least according to the Boston Globe and the “failing” New York Times.

Holy shit!

If any of these people were even marginally competent liars, we’d all be screwed. As it happens, they’re the most incompetent bunch of liars since Tricky Dick announced that he’s not a crook.


[1] Three of Kashoggi’s children are American citizens.

[2] Presumably obtained through surveillance by Turkish intelligence agencies.

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Why there won’t be any return to Bipartisanship anytime soon

To be honest, I don’t have many friends on Facebook who are conservative, but a few of those that I do have, have been asking questions like “when is bipartisanship coming back,” or “when can we expect a return of common sense?”

So let me answer that question quickly: not while Donald Trump is the President of the United States.

There are, of course, people out there who claim that conservatives “suffered” under President Obama, and that Trump’s Presidency is some kind of “Ausgleich,” some kind of equalizing for what conservatives had to endure under Obama.

Hogwash.

Conservatives didn’t have to “endure” anything under Obama, other than the arrival of a polished black man[1] as President and some policies that they did not like.

Progressives did not suffer under President George W. Bush

Just as conservatives did not suffer under Obama, liberals (or the term I prefer, progressives) did not “suffer” under President George W. Bush. There were plenty policies that we (and I personally) abhorred, such as Bush’s war mongering. I wasn’t in agreement with his tax cuts and with his refusal to fund stem cell research. There were lots of policy decisions that I was in strong disagreement with, but other than having to put up with a bit of a “doofus” as President, there was nothing to “suffer” through. It was just that the other team is in charge.

I recently read “Sister’s First,” the biography written by the Bush twins (Jenna and Barbara), and I must say that I liked them a lot in their book. Likewise, I think it’s sweet that George W. and Michelle Obama have essentially become friends.[2] I realize that there are people who consider George W. a war criminal, but whatever you think of his policies, he was a conventional politician who really is solidly in the tradition of American bi-partisanship. In person he appears to be what one might term a “nice man,” however misguided his policies may have been.

Conservatives did not suffer under President Obama

Likewise, conservatives did not “suffer” under President Obama. The man’s primary accomplishment while President were helping to stabilize the economy after the financial crisis of 2007–08, and the enactment of the Affordable Care Act.

Some conservatives were unhappy with the amount of money that was spent to stabilize the financial industry and to bail out the auto industry (although a good many of those policies were set in motion by the Bush administration before Obama even became President). And some conservatives did not like some of the post-crisis financial reforms, including the establishment of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The other initiative that many conservatives hated is, of course, the Affordable Care Act. They hated it even though the central idea in the ACA – the establishment of an “individual mandate” was a conservative idea that came out of the Heritage Institute after the Clinton health care initiatives went belly up. They hated it even though Obama bent over backwards to work with the Republicans on the Affordable Care Act, only to discover that the Republicans (as Mitch McConnel expressly stated in 2010) were only interested in not giving Obama any kind of “victory” that he could take into the 2012 campaign.

Obama got a Nobel Peace Prize (which I have previously argued he did not deserve). If some black men are pulled over for driving while black or similar “offenses,” Obama was unnecessarily rewarded for being President while black.  Trump partisans have argued, to promote their man, that Trump should have received the Nobel Peace Prize for reaching out to and meeting with Kim Jong Un. Of course, Kim Jong Un played Trump for a fool, so don’t stay up waiting for that to happen, Republicans. But I’m sure Obama’s prize stuck in the craw of many conservatives. That, and his unruffled “super cool” persona and the way that Hollywood and the glitterati fawned over him.

President Trump is not normal for a President of Either Party

Unlike Bush or Obama or any modern American President before him (including Richard Nixon), Donald Trump is not a normal President. Ignoring for a moment that Trump began his Presidency by lying about the size of his inauguration crowd – a lie that was so easily disputable – and has not stopped lying ever since, ignoring for a moment that Trump is a demonstrable malignant narcissist, just a look at his behavior in the last week (since the mid-terms). Just these two items (below) demonstrate how seriously disturbed Trump (and by extension his administration) really is.

  1. Not even waiting a full 24 hours for the ink to dry on the Midterm election results, Trump fired Jeff Sessions and replaced him with Republican hack Matt Whittaker. When pressed on this choice Trump claimed that he “didn’t know” Matt Whittaker, even though he had praised him on Fox just a few days before.
  2. Flustered by a set of challenging questions from CNN’s White House correspondent Jim Acosta, Trump tried to a get a White House flunky to take his microphone away. To justify Acosta’s subsequent exclusion from White House briefings, Sarah “Huckster” Sanders then released an obviously doctored video of the incident, even though the incident had been broadcast live.

WTF White House! Who does shit like this?

If Obama had done just those two things and nothing else, Republicans would have been calling for his head. In their heart of hearts Republicans know this to be true. They’re giving Trump a pass because he is their guy, because he totally pisses off the liberal establishment, because he is the thorn in our side that they’ve always wanted to have.

I have argued in the past (and will say it again) that people voted for Trump not despite him being an asshole, but because he is an asshole. That was the whole point.

And that’s why there will be no bipartisanship, no return of “common sense” as long as Trump is President.

And after Trump is gone conservatives will discover (as some of them already have) that they threw away virtually all of the moral authority they may have once had on this particularly odious piece of shit. Evangelicals, in particular, will discover that their “one issue” embrace of Trump[3] is going to cost their credibility dearly going forward into the post-Trump world.


[1] Technically Obama is bi-racial and not black, as I’ve pointed out on many occasions before.

[2] They were caught on film passing candy to each other at John McCain’s funeral.

[3] That one issue, of course, is abortion. Ironically, Trump isn’t personally pro-life. It’s simply a position-of-convenience for him, although he has delivered on a lot of the “pro-life” judges that the evangelicals so cherish

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Does the firing of Jeff Sessions mean anything?

On Wednesday President Trump fired Jeff Sessions, or asked Sessions to resign (which is really the same thing).[1]

This was, of course, the day after the mid-term elections. Honestly, I found the timing a little bit suspicious. Why do this the day after the election? It could be that Trump wanted to distract from the thumping he just took in the House; it could be that he started to panic about the fact that the House can now investigate him and his administration up the wazoo.[2]

Trump appointed Matt Whittaker to be the provisional Attorney General, and Whittaker is a political hack who has previously argued that the Mueller investigation has gone too far. This has obviously made a lot of people nervous (especially Democrats) believing that it’s a setup for Trump to fire Mueller. I don’t know about that, and I also don’t know that it’s not true. But before we get there, let’s review a little bit of the Independent Counsel statute and what Mueller’s legal authority is.

The Independent Counsel Statute

The Independent Counsel Statute was enacted in 1978 as part of the Ethics in Government Act as a response to the “Saturday Night Massacre.” That was the incident where Richard Nixon ordered the firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox during the Watergate Investigation. The conclusion from that episode was that a special prosecutor investigating a Presidential administration needed to be protected from that administration. As a consequence, the Independent Counsel Statute was enacted and included provisions that prevented a President from firing such a prosecutor on his own initiative.

Over the next 22 years, the Special Prosecutor conducted a baker’s dozen investigations that no one remembers, until we get to Ken Starr and the investigation of Bill Clinton. (For those of you who’ve forgotten) the Starr investigation began as a look into the Whitewater land deal and ended up with an investigation of a Presidential blow job. In between we had investigations looking into the suicide of Vince Foster, Travelgate, Filegate, and the sexual harassment allegations of Paula Jones.

A lot of people (myself included) thought that the Starr investigation went much too far, was much too partisan, and went into all kinds of topics that had nothing to do with the original mandate. Starr’s reputation was permanently damaged.

For this and similar reasons, the United States Congress let the Independent Counsel law expire at the end of 1999, as the law had to be renewed on a regular basis to stay in force.

Special Counsel Investigation

The current Mueller investigation is not, obviously, being conducted under the expired Independent Counsel Statute. Instead, its authority is based on an order coming out of the Attorney General’s Office, signed by then Deputy Rod Rosenstein[3], and which is directed to investigating Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election and “related matters.”

The investigation is formally under the supervision of the Department of Justice, which is part of the Trump administration. Up until now, Rosenstein has done a reasonably good job in shielding the Mueller investigation from interference by Donald Trump.

However, the Donald is correct when he argues that legally nothing prevents him from firing Mueller. He can’t do it directly – he has to do it through a surrogate, like Rod Rosenstein or Matt Whitaker – but in effect he can still get it done. The inhibition is therefore not legal but political. If he does fire Mueller (as many other commentators have noted) it would cause a “Constitutional crisis” which even Trump may be unwilling to precipitate.

Still, it would be a strange time for Trump to try to fire Mueller. With the House turning Democratic, the House could essentially pick up where Mueller left off. Granted, the House could not bring indictments against Trump’s administration, but they could take all of his materials, gather some more of their own (using their subpoena powers), and publish the resulting findings.

If the House did do that, many Republicans would (of course) complain that the investigation is “partisan” and try to delegitimize it in that way. But Republicans have already been working overtime to delegitimize the Mueller investigation, notwithstanding that Mueller is a Republican, Rod Rosenstein (who appointed him) is a Republican, and former FBI Director James Comey (who got the ball rolling) is a Republican.[4]

I think Pandora is already out of the box, and all the huffing and puffing on the part of President Obergropenführer isn’t going to get her back into the box.

But we’ll have to wait and see.


[1] The only difference is that it apparently gives Trump a little more latitude about who can replace Sessions on a temporary basis.

[2] It’s been an open secret that Trump has been itching to fire Sessions as soon as possible since Sessions engaged in the highly disloyal act (in Trump’s view) of recusing himself from the Russia investigation.

[3] Sessions had, correctly, recused himself from an investigation of the Trump campaign since he had been directly involved in it.

[4] In particular, Donald Trump admitted to CBS journalist Lesley Stahl that part of the reason he criticizes the medial so incessantly is to “discredit” and “demean” the media, so when the media writes negative stories about him, “no one will believe” them.

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There were more investigations of Hillary than there are Ornaments on a Christmas Tree

Fascinating to have President Trump and Mitch McConnell warn the Democrats about not investigating the Trump administration.

Come again?

There were more investigations of Hillary Clinton than there are ornaments on a Christmas Tree. And they brought nothing. Zero indictments.[1] How many indictments does Mueller already have?

Then Trump threatened to investigate Democratic members of the House if they investigate him.

Come again?

Or precisely, here’s what Trump said:

If the Democrats think they are going to waste taxpayer money investigating us at the House level, then we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all the leaks of classified information, and much else, at the Senate level. Two can play that game!

Alright, let’s break that down into its component parts.  First of all:

  • If Trump wants to check for leaks of classified information, he had better start with his own administration. That appears to be where the majority of leaks are coming from.
  • The Senate has no authority to investigate the House.
  • If they did, then the House could also investigate the Senate.

I realize I’m not breaking new ground here, but your President is an idiot. He’s been President for two years, and I still know more about government than he does. Sad!

And of course, later in the day Trump fired Jeff Sessions, or forced him into resigning. (More on that tomorrow.)


[1] All the “lock her up” zealots who want her in jail because Hillary used an insecure email server have a serious problem: President Trump uses and continues to use – despite being warned about this on many occasions – an insecure iPhone. There is reason to believe that the Russians, Chinese and a number of other countries have already hacked into his phone and are listening in on his conversations. In Hillary’s case, there is no evidence that her server was ever hacked.

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