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Zorro's Journal
Zorro's Journal
September 26, 2019

Rudy Giuliani -- World's Worst Best Friend

Rudy Giuliani is the Trump administration’s point man on Ukraine. Just remember that, and everything else will make a lot more sense. “I think it’s incredible the way he’s done,” the president of the United States said Wednesday about his personal lawyer, who specializes in going on television and babbling incoherently.

We don’t know precisely what Giuliani’s diplomatic role is, given the fact that he’s not a government employee. His job seems mainly to be finding some proof that when Joe Biden was vice president, he was up to some shady Ukraine business in order to help out his son, Hunter.

Rudy certainly has Donald Trump’s ear — and more clout than the beleaguered State Department. “Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man,” Trump told the president of Ukraine. “He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you.”

As mayor, Giuliani’s was most famous for his 9/11 performance, which was more impressive if you ignored the fact that he’d located the city’s emergency command at the World Trade Center, despite police warnings that the towers had previously been bombed by terrorists. In a way, he’s playing a similar role now — he’s assigned to deal with a crisis he’s helped create. How often did you worry about Ukraine before Rudy picked up the case?


September 25, 2019

White House Unveils Lightly Edited Memorandum Of U.S. Constitution That Declares Trump's Innocence

WASHINGTON—Seeking to exculpate the president from alleged wrongdoing, the White House released a lightly edited memorandum of the U.S. Constitution Wednesday that specifically declares Trump’s innocence.

“[The President of the United States of America] shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, can talk to whatever foreign official he wants about any subject whenever he wants, consequence-free,” read the memo, which White House sources indicated did not include the full text of the nation’s founding document but offered a summation of its important points such as “Congress has the power to shut up and stay out of the President’s way.”

“The President, Vice President, and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors, assuming they are Democratic officials. This impeachment process shall not hold in the event that the president is a former real estate developer whose party controls the Senate...Make America Great Again! Trump 2020!”

At press time, legal scholars had suggested that despite the edits, the memorandum contained over a dozen examples of the president breaking the law.


September 25, 2019

The rough transcript is devastating. How could Trump not know that?

At least Richard Nixon had the good sense to resist releasing the “smoking gun” tape until finally forced to do so by the Supreme Court. That is because Nixon, the worst criminal to occupy the Oval Office until now, at least had a modicum of moral sense and self-awareness. He knew what he had said was wrong — he was heard plotting to use the CIA to shut down the FBI investigation of Watergate — and he realized that the tape’s release would be devastating to him.

President Trump, by contrast, is so clueless — so lacking in even the most basic sense of right and wrong — that he could actually tweet this morning: “Will the Democrats apologize after seeing what was said on the call with the Ukrainian President? They should, a perfect call — got them by surprise!” Suffice it to say, there were no apologies after the release of the Memorandum of Telephone Conversation (TelCon) between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25. This isn’t a verbatim transcript, and it’s always possible that it was doctored in some way, but what is revealed in its five pages is deeply damaging to Trump.

“The United States has been very very good to Ukraine,” Trump tells Zelensky with an undertone of menace. “I wouldn’t say that it’s reciprocal necessarily because things are happening that are not good but the United States has been very very.good to Ukraine.” Eager to placate Trump, Zelensky thanks him “for your great support in the area of defense.” “We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.” (The Javelin is an antitank missile.)

The very next words out of Trump’s mouth are: “I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it.” Quid, meet quo. Trump is explicitly tying U.S. military aid to Ukraine to Ukraine’s willingness “to do us a favor.” He then makes clear that the “us” he is referring to is not the United States of America. It is the Trump campaign.


September 25, 2019

Tropical Storm Karen set to make dizzying turn, perhaps eyeing Bahamas, southeast U.S.

A day after lashing Puerto Rico with flooding rains and winds gusting over 40 miles per hour, Karen is continuing its trek northward. Still a tropical storm, Karen is expected to maintain strength or slowly strengthen, eventually stalling and possibly making a turn west. That makes Karen one to watch for residents in the Bahamas and southeast United States, where Karen’s long-anticipated tour of the west central Atlantic might bring it uncomfortably close.

Karen is a capricious storm. Less than 36 hours after being classified as a tropical storm Sunday morning, Karen weakened into a tropical depression, sparking doubts that the system would ever make it to Puerto Rico intact. Barely a day later, Karen intensified into a tropical storm once again as it drew near the island territory. The main impacts in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands weren’t from wind, however; the headaches stemmed from rain.

Just southwest of San Juan, 3.46 inches of rain fell, with 3.50 inches in Utuado along the island’s western half. A number of flash flood warnings were issued in the island’s mountainous terrain. Doppler radar indicates as much as half a foot fell in Juana Diaz and Villalba municipalities. It’s estimated that more than 14 inches fell just offshore.

Karen is sitting about 150 miles north-northeast of San Juan, with maximum central winds of 45 mph. Over the next day or two, the system will casually strut northward or slightly north-northeastward, as if heading out to sea. But then the storm slams on the brakes and throws it in park. Karen could stall over the open Atlantic for 12 to 24 hours from late Thursday into the latter half of Friday.


September 25, 2019

Cindy McCain says GOP no longer the 'party that my husband and I belonged to'

Cindy McCain, the widow of the late Sen. John McCain, said on a podcast released Wednesday that the Republican Party is "excluding people for the wrong reasons" and is no longer "the party that my husband and I belonged to."

When McCain was asked if Democrats have a chance to win Arizona in 2020, she said she "really can" see the southwestern state going blue.

"We have, on my side of the aisle, on the Republican side, we see a local party in Arizona that's not functioning well. And it's excluding people. And it's excluding people for the wrong reasons," McCain said in an interview for Politico's "Women Rule" podcast.

"If you're not walking the line, then you're out. That's just not right. That's not the party that my husband and I belonged to."


Well Cindy, today's GOP is the same party that your husband and you belonged to. It's just more in-your-face about it now.

September 25, 2019

Panicky Trump Orders Dozen New Sharpies Before Releasing Ukraine Phone Transcript

NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report)—A reportedly panic-stricken Donald J. Trump ordered a dozen new Sharpies before releasing a transcript of his phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Trump was reportedly incensed after he discovered that aides had not replenished his supply of Sharpies after he used his last one diverting the path of Hurricane Dorian.

In New York for the United Nations General Assembly, Vice-President Mike Pence scoured stationery stores in midtown Manhattan to find the precious Sharpies, but came up empty.

While the quest for Sharpies continued, aides professed that the situation was “under control.” “President Trump has actually done some of his best work with crayons,” one aide said.


September 25, 2019

New U.N. climate report: Massive change already here for world's oceans and frozen regions

Source: Washington Post

Climate change is already causing staggering impacts on the oceans and ice-filled regions that encompass 80 percent of the Earth, and future damage from rising seas and melting glaciers is now all but certain, according to a sobering new report from the United Nations.

The warming climate is already killing coral reefs, supercharging monster storms, and fueling deadly marine heat waves and record losses of sea ice. And Wednesday’s report on the world’s oceans, glaciers, polar regions and ice sheets finds that such effects only foreshadow a more catastrophic future as long as greenhouse gas emissions remain unchecked.

Given current emissions levels, a number of serious impacts are essentially unavoidable, says the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Extreme floods that have historically struck some coastal cities and small island nations once every 100 years will become an annual occurrence by 2050, according to the IPCC. In addition, if emissions continue to increase, global sea levels could rise by more than three feet by the end of this century — around 12 percent higher than the group estimated as recently as 2013. Melting glaciers could harm water supplies, and warming oceans could wreck marine fisheries.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2019/09/25/new-un-climate-report-massive-change-already-here-worlds-oceans-frozen-regions/

September 25, 2019

The Winners and Losers of the Latest Trump Scandal

Only 11 days have passed since Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, revealed that the Trump administration was illegally withholding a whistle-blower complaint from Congress. When the news came out, I — probably like most observers — expected it to be another fizzle, yet another clear example of Trump malfeasance that would just fail to catch fire with Congress or the public.

And that may yet happen. I presume and hope that pollsters are at work as we speak, trying to gauge public opinion on the scandal. But this time feels different, maybe because it’s so simple and clear cut. The president of the United States and his personal lawyer both admit that they called on a foreign regime to produce dirt on one of his political rivals. It now looks as if he tried to pressure said foreign regime by withholding crucial military aid, which makes it worse.

The result is that this scandal is blowing up in a way previous Trump scandals, no matter how serious, haven’t. A House vote to impeach has quickly gone from “unlikely” to “more likely than not” now that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to announce a formal impeachment inquiry.

Why does this matter? In general, I dislike the common journalistic trope of “winners and losers” from political developments. In this case, however, it seems to me like a good way to sum up the fallout so far. So here are three winners and two losers from the developments so far.


September 24, 2019

Trump officials threaten to withhold highway funding from California

Source: Washington Post

for its 'chronic air quality problems'.

Trump administration officials threatened this week to withhold federal highway funding from California, arguing that the state has not shown what steps it is taking to improve its air quality. The move by the Environmental Protection Agency escalates the fierce battle between President Trump and the left-leaning state, and could put billions in federal funding in jeopardy.

In a predated letter sent late Monday to the California Air Resources Board, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler suggested that the state “has failed to carry out its most basic tasks under the Clean Air Act” and needs to either update its plans to tackle air pollution or risk losing federal money.

At stake, the EPA said, are billions of dollars in federal highway funding every year. Federal officials have the right to halt that money if they determine that a state is not taking sufficient steps to show how it aims to cut air pollution such as soot or smog-forming ozone.

In the letter, Wheeler notes that 34 million Californians live in areas that don’t meet federal National Ambient Air Quality Standards, more than twice as many residents as any other state. California has more than 130 “state implementation plans,” which serve as blueprints for how California would tackle these pollutants, awaiting federal approval.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2019/09/24/trump-officials-threaten-withhold-highway-funds-california-its-chronic-air-quality-problems/

There is no end to this administration's fuckery.
September 24, 2019

On impeachment, the worm has turned

The worm has turned.

For months, Democrats agonized over whether to impeach President Trump. Would it cause them to lose House seats? Would it hurt their chances of winning the Senate? Wasn’t it pointless because of the near certainty the GOP Senate wouldn’t convict him?

But Trump just made the Democrats’ choice for them. He left them no alternative but to proceed with impeachment — and they will.

The president admitted Tuesday that he withheld congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine just days before a phone call with the Ukrainian president in which he demanded Ukraine produce dirt on Trump’s likeliest Democratic opponent. That, on its face, is a flagrant abuse of power and nearly identical to the behavior, denied by Trump, at the core of the Russia investigation: seeking a foreign government’s help in a U.S. election.


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