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Zorro's Journal
Zorro's Journal
December 2, 2019

The useful idiot from Louisiana

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) showcasing the “typical shell game” of Republicans on impeachment: Eliminate the importance of the “quid pro quo,” muddy the waters of the president’s motive and distort the impeachment process itself. Since then, the senator from Louisiana has taken his pro-Trump spin to a new level: repeating Russian disinformation without a care.

On Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” Kennedy began his interview with host Chuck Todd with a mea culpa for recently misstating that Ukraine, not Russia, hacked Democratic National Committee computers in 2016. One would think such embarrassment would lead one to be more cautious in his claims about Russia, Ukraine and the 2016 election. Not so with Kennedy. Instead, he told Todd:

I think both Russia and Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election. I think it is has been well documented in the Financial Times, in Politico, in the Economist, in the Washington Examiner, even on CBS that the prime minister of Ukraine, the interior minister, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, the head of the Ukrainian anti-corruption league, all meddled in the election on social media and otherwise. They worked with a DNC operative against the president.

Unsurprisingly, Kennedy’s summary of those articles bears little to no resemblance to the actual facts. For example, the Politico article that Kennedy cited reported only that “Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office" and by highlighting former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort’s close ties to Russia. And Politico notes that those efforts “were far less concerted or centrally directed than Russia’s alleged hacking and dissemination of Democratic emails.” Similarly, Kennedy noted that “a Ukrainian court ruled that Ukrainian officials had violated Ukrainian law by meddling in our election and that was reported in The New York Times" — without mentioning that a higher court later canceled that ruling.


December 2, 2019

King Charles I was executed by his parliament. There's a lesson there for Donald Trump

If, as the saying goes, “the past is prologue,” consider this:

On Jan. 30, 1649 (is that past enough?), Charles I, King of England, laid his head down on the executioner’s block and was put to death. The charge against him, after nearly a decade of civil war, was treason for making war on his own people. The jurors who convicted him were parliamentarians, and they found him guilty of pursuing his own interests rather than the interests of the country.

We should take more than passing note of this long ago event, not because anyone would advocate that our own leader should meet such a violent end, but rather because it helps explain a central conflict that continues to roil both British and American politics: the clash between the executive and legislative branches of government.

Drawing upon legal precedents such as the Magna Carta, Parliament in the early 17th century had been asserting its own authority more and more in the face of increasing demands of a monarchy that believed in its divine right to exclusive rule. Parliament had one significant weapon: the power of the purse. Under Charles I, Parliament exercised that authority by refusing to fund the king’s foreign policy as he wished, an act of defiance that provoked the king to dissolve Parliament and rule alone for 11 years. His opponents referred to that time as the “Eleven Years’ Tyranny.” Historians, striving to be more neutral, call it the Era of Personal Rule.

Later, when Parliament was reconvened and the conflict grew even more heated, Charles accused five members of the House of Commons of treason. Attended by armed guards, he entered Parliament to arrest them, but they had already left the chamber, and the speaker for the first time asserted his obedience to the House rather than to the king.


December 1, 2019

John Simon, Wide-Ranging Critic With a Cutting Pen, Dies at 94

John Simon, one of the nation’s most erudite, vitriolic and vilified culture critics, who illuminated and savaged a remarkable range of plays, films, literature and art works and their creators for more than a half-century, died on Sunday in Valhalla, N.Y. He was 94.

His death, at Westchester Medical Center, was confirmed by his wife, Patricia Simon.

In an era of vast cultural changes, Mr. Simon marshaled wide learning, insights and acid wit for largely negative reviews and essays that appeared in New York magazine for nearly 37 years, until his dismissal in 2005, and in The Hudson Review, The New York Times, Esquire, National Review, The New Leader and other publications.

In a style that danced with literary allusions and arch rhetoric — and composed with pen and ink (he hated computers) — he produced thousands of critiques and a dozen books, mostly anthologies of his own work. While English was not his native language, he also wrote incisive essays on American usage, notably in the 1980 book “Paradigms Lost: Reflections on Literacy and Its Decline.”


December 1, 2019

Trump isn't running in Britain's election. That hasn't stopped him from getting in the middle.

Donald Trump just can’t seem to stay away from British politics. He’s fired off comments on topics including Brexit, his low opinion of a British ambassador, and how his Trump-branded golf course in Scotland “furthers U.K. relations.”

So there’s little surprise that the American president is playing an outsize role in Britain’s upcoming elections — for good or bad, depending.

In Britain, more than any other country aside from the United States, Trump has sought to bolster his political allies and trash his detractors.

In so doing, he has blithely crossed traditional red lines. In late October, Trump phoned in to a talk radio show hosted by a friend, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, to dump on leftist Labour Party head Jeremy Corbyn.


November 30, 2019

It's a good bet Trump pardons his felon allies. Here's when that's most likely.

The future isn’t promised, but it is a good bet that three felons and close allies of President Trump — Roger Stone (found guilty of obstruction of a congressional investigation, witness tampering and lying to Congress), Paul Manafort (serving a prison sentence for tax evasion and bank fraud) and Michael Flynn (pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI) — will be granted executive clemency. The only question is when.

It might be a tad bit premature for Manafort to start humming “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” But he will be there next year.

To be sure, Trump could free his friends before voters cast their ballots in 2020. But that’s politically risky, as President Gerald Ford’s 1976 defeat can attest. His approval rating dropped more than 30 points after he pardoned Richard M. Nixon.

Trump’s safest course of action would be to wait to do the dirty deed until after Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020. Trump’s impulsiveness, however, is a wild card.


November 30, 2019

Facing impeachment, the president strives to look hard at work

As Democrats in Congress push to impeach him, President Trump has toured a manufacturing plant in Texas, boasted about economic gains and signed numerous bills. He served turkey to U.S. troops in Afghanistan on Thanksgiving and grieved with the families of fallen service members at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

And next week, Trump is scheduled to jet to London to meet with European allies and be received at Buckingham Palace by Queen Elizabeth II.

Sure, Trump has been consumed by the impeachment proceedings, popping off daily, if not hourly, about what he dubs a “hoax.” But he and his aides also have staged photo opportunities and public events designed to showcase the president on the job — a strategy one year out from the election to convince the American people that he is hard at work for them at the same time that Democrats are trying to remove him from office.

“I’m working my ass off,” Trump told a thunderous rally crowd of roughly 20,000 on Tuesday night in Sunrise, Fla. He added: “The failed Washington establishment is trying to stop me because I’m fighting for you and because we’re winning. It’s very simple.”


Working hard my ass. From the photos I've seen, he's still got an enormous ass -- for someone working his ass off.

November 30, 2019

How a feud over two jobs tipped the West Coast longshore union toward bankruptcy

A feud that could wind up bankrupting the powerful West Coast dockworkers union began like a scene from a B-grade gangster film, when two men met over a calamari lunch.

According to federal court testimony, Leal Sundet, a burly blond union leader, introduced himself in a Portland, Ore., restaurant to Elvis Ganda, a gray-haired port terminal executive, with the words: “I’m the guy that can f— you badly.”

At that time, in 2012, Sundet held the second-highest position in the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which handles every shipping container that crosses West Coast ports. Sundet pressured Ganda to help the ILWU wrest control of the jobs of two dockside workers from a rival union, according to court testimony. The terminal manager told Sundet that he felt as if a gun were being held to his head.

The ILWU, whose 15,000 dockworkers make an average of $171,000 a year plus free healthcare, pursued the two jobs relentlessly for the next four years, staging slowdowns at the Port of Portland and flouting federal court orders. The resulting chaos caused international shipping lines to abandon Portland, ending Oregon-based cargo service for exporters as far inland as Idaho’s Snake River.


November 30, 2019

Gaetz Threatens Kemp With Primary, Should He Defy Trump's Wishes

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), one of President Donald Trump’s most vocal acolytes, threatened Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) with a primary challenger in 2022 should he not select Trump’s preferred candidate for a soon-to-be-open Senate seat.

It is not clear from where Gaetz, a congressman from Florida, gets the authority to threaten the Georgia governor with a primary.

Kemp wants to pick businesswoman Kelly Loeffler to replace Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), who is retiring at the end of the year. According to Politico, Kemp thinks that Loeffler can help staunch the flow of suburban voters fleeing the party.

Trump, and by extension, Gaetz, wants Kemp to pick Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) instead, a much more diehard MAGA type.


We'll get to see Dipshit Doug Collins in action at the House Judiciary Committee's impeachment hearings in a few more days, in case you're wondering about his Senatorial qualifications.

November 28, 2019

North Korea launches two projectiles in Thanksgiving message to Trump

Source: Washington Post

North Korea fired two projectiles Thursday, using the start of the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States to telegraph its frustration over Washington’s refusal to grant sanctions relief.

The short-range projectiles were launched from Ryonpo on the North’s east coast around 5 p.m. local time, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said. They added that the projectiles, presumed to have been fired from a super-large multiple rocket launcher, traveled about 235 miles and reached an altitude of 60 miles.

“This type of act from North Korea does not help efforts to alleviate tensions on the Korean Peninsula,” the JCS said.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe described Pyongyang’s actions as a threat to the region and the world.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia-pacific/north-korea-launches-two-projectiles-in-thanksgiving-message-to-trump/2019/11/28/3cb203d4-11be-11ea-924c-b34d09bbc948_story.html

November 27, 2019

Fox News guest nails it: 'Why in hell does Tucker Carlson have a job here?'

Fox News host Tucker Carlson is a propagandist, though a clever and savvy one. And on his program Monday night, he was up to the usual routine of discrediting the entire Democratic presidential field — talking up their divisions and reaching far to fetch a solution. Michelle Obama, he said, was “one of the only people who could unite the party’s warring factions.”

On the morning program “America’s Newsroom,” host Bill Hemmer used Carlson’s comments to introduce a chat with Michael Blake, a New York state assemblyman and a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee. “What do you think about the prediction on Michelle Obama?” Hemmer asked. “Would you like to see that?”

It was a curious way to premise a conversation on the Democratic presidential race, as Blake noted in his response. “Well, she’s not running,” Blake stated right off the bat.

Then came the haymakers: “But the core question is why in hell does Tucker Carlson still have a job here in the first place. The reality is this is someone who said white supremacy is a hoax and why does Fox allow him to still be here in the first place?”


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