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Gender: Male
Home country: USA
Current location: PA
Member since: Wed May 11, 2005, 09:48 PM
Number of posts: 10,659

About Me

I love spending time with my grandchildren and gardening.

Journal Archives

Ukraine Reacts: Trump's Call Is Putin's Victory

Ukraine Reacts: Trump’s Call Is Putin’s Victory
For disappointed Ukrainian democracy activists, Trump’s demands of Zelensky have made Washington the moral equivalent of the Kremlin.

For years, Ukrainian anti-corruption activists like Daria Kaleniuk looked to the United States for support in her country’s fight against graft and fake news. The Moscow-backed takeover of Crimea and eastern Ukraine was ground zero for Russian disinformation that spread across the world. Corruption was so pervasive in Ukraine that voters opted for a comedian with no political experience, Volodymyr Zelensky, who defeated the incumbent president by nearly 50 percent in elections last spring.

But the release of a July 25 memo detailing a conversation between U.S. President Donald Trump and Zelensky has, for many Ukrainians, turned the United States from a model of good governance and truth into a dispiriting example of the very kind of corruption and disinformation they are battling.

“We have faced intimidation and manipulation in Ukraine for quite a long time. Now this is happening at the highest possible level of the United States, where the personal lawyer of the president of the United States is carrying out speculation and manipulation,” said Kaleniuk, the executive director of Ukraine’s Anti-Corruption Action Center, a Kyiv-based watchdog group. “Usually the United States [was] the key [ally] of Ukrainian civil society to stop political pressure into law enforcement investigations. But I am reading the transcript where the president of the United States is doing the contrary than what we were encouraged to do.”

The chief beneficiary of this behavior will be the Kremlin, say Ukrainian activists and Western officials involved with Ukraine. They believe Trump is playing into the hands of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has engaged in a yearslong disinformation war to portray the United States and European Union as weak as a way of laying claim to Crimea and political domination of Ukraine. Trump’s casual comment to Zelensky, during their meeting at the U.N. General Assembly gathering on Wednesday, that “I really hope that you and President Putin can get together and solve your problem” also reinforced the Kremlin line.

“Oh, Putin is loving this. It makes the Americans look unreliable and strengthens the hand of the Russians and the pro-Russians in the east,” said Alex Crowther of the National Defense University. “By withholding aid, you are injecting instability into an already unstable situation and strengthening the Russians.”

For Kaleniuk, the anti-corruption activist, the episode has rendered America the moral equivalent of Russia in its willingness to traffic in the sort of disinformation and political interference she has taken aim at for years. “The key root of corruption is impunity, and impunity is possible when politicians or oligarchs or anyone else dictate to law enforcement agencies whom they have to investigate and whom they don’t have to investigate,” Kaleniuk said.

Perhaps what stands out most to Ukrainians is the sheer outrageousness of the false information that Trump is pushing, which rivals that of the Kremlin.


"Paul is embarrassed about Trump and now he has the power to do something about it"

‘Life after Trump’: Paul Ryan Is Now Reportedly ’Embarrassed’ by the President — and Is Pushing Fox News to Dump Him

Remember former House Speaker Paul Ryan? I don’t.

But a new report from Vanity Fair describing the chaos inside Fox News — where Ryan serves as a board member — reminded readers that he’s still something of a player in conservative politics. And according to the report, written by journalist Gabriel Sherman, Ryan is now, after having given up all his constitutional power, finally interested in standing up to the president.

The report describes the behind-the-scenes crisis emerging at Fox, which has been thrown into turmoil as the Democrats’ rapid impeachment push knocks the network off-kilter. Most dramatically, that disruption has played out in an on-air feud between hosts Shep Smith and Tucker Carlson. Sherman found that Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott and President Jay Wallace felt compelled to intervene and tell Smith to back off, though a spokesperson for the network denied this claim.
The report continued:

The ultimate referee of this fight will be Lachlan Murdoch. In recent months, Rupert’s oldest son has been holding strategy conversations with Fox executives and anchors about how Fox News should prepare for life after Trump. Among the powerful voices advising Lachlan that Fox should decisively break with the president is former House speaker Paul Ryan, who joined the Fox board in March. “Paul is embarrassed about Trump and now he has the power to do something about it,” an executive who’s spoken with Ryan told me. (Ryan did not return a call seeking comment.) But a person more sympathetic to Trump has told Lachlan that Fox should remain loyal to Trump’s supporters, even if the network has to break from the man.


Of course, Ryan had significant power to stand up to Trump and “do something about” him in 2017 and 2018, when he was House speaker. But ultimately, he wouldn’t have gotten that job in the first place if he wasn’t willing to put the interests of the GOP over the interests of the country, which these days is a requirement for party membership.

Does anyone else feel that the Ukraine story...

is just a prelude to a much darker narrative which is being hidden? In some of the original reporting there were mentions of multiple sinister actions but everyone, including the media, seem fixated on this one subject. I really believe there is much, much more going on here.

This is just one of the particulars I have come across, but I think there is more to it:

Did Trump promise to tell Putin the identity(ies) of one or more US spies?

We are due for a course correction

To Balance the Scales of Justice, Don’t Be Afraid to Pack the Court
The lifetime appointments of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh cry out for Democratic hardball in response.


Democrats are left in an unenviable position. Should they win a federal “trifecta” — the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives — they’ll still have to deal with a Trump-branded judiciary. It’s entirely possible that a future Democratic agenda would be circumscribed and unraveled by a Supreme Court whose slim conservative majority owes itself to minority government and constitutional hardball.

So what should Democrats do? They should play hardball back. Congress, according to the Judiciary Act of 1789, decides the number of judges. It’s been 150 years since it changed the size of the Supreme Court. I think it’s time to revisit the issue. Should Democrats win that trifecta, they should expand and yes, pack, the Supreme Court. Add two additional seats to account for the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the Gorsuch and Kavanaugh nominations. Likewise, expand and pack the entire federal judiciary to neutralize Trump and McConnell’s attempt to cement Republican ideological preferences into the constitutional order.

The reasoning underpinning this proposal isn’t just about the future; it’s about the past. We have had two rounds of minority government in under two decades — two occasions where executive power went to the popular-vote loser. Rather than moderate their aims and ambitions, both presidents have empowered ideologues and aggressively spread their influence. We are due for a course correction.

The goal isn’t to make the courts a vehicle for progressive policy, but to make sure elected majorities can govern — to keep the United States a democratic republic and not a judge-ocracy. Yes, there are genuine constitutional disputes, questions about individual rights and the scope of federal power. At the same time, there are broad readings of the Constitution — ones that give our elected officials the necessary power to act and to solve problems — and narrow readings, which handcuff and restrict the range of our government.

In the past, courts have walled entire areas of American life off from federal action. They’ve put limits on American democracy and blocked the people, through their representatives, from tackling fundamental issues of public concern. During Reconstruction, courts handcuffed the government as it tried to address violence and state-sanctioned racism; during the Progressive Era, they kept Congress from putting the economy under some measure of democratic control.

We’re living through a version of this right now. Under Chief Justice John Roberts, the Court has denied Medicaid coverage to millions of poor people, neutered the Voting Rights Act, authorized new waves of voter suppression, unleashed the power of money for entrenched interests and would-be oligarchs, and opened the door to extreme partisan gerrymandering. And while this Court hasn’t brought the absurd Lochner-era doctrines that effectively made it impossible to legislate working conditions back from the dead, it has, in Justice Elena Kagan’s phrase, “weaponized” the First Amendment to strike down economic regulation and undermine organized labor.




To Save the Republic, Some of Trump's Allies and Appointees Will Have to Face Federal Prosecution

To Save the Republic, Some of Trump’s Allies and Appointees Will Have to Face Federal Prosecution

To save our republic, some of Trump’s enablers and political appointees may have to go to jail, just like happened with Nixon’s people.

Trump’s policies are inflicting massive damage on the working class, the environment, minorities, and our economy. And the damage he’s doing to our body politic will certainly alter our form of government if there aren’t legal consequences.

Trump and his cronies have shown present and future politicians how much corruption the Republican Party and the public will tolerate, and it’s a very bad sign for the future of the American experiment.


As I point out in The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America, candidate Richard Nixon interfered with President Johnson’s efforts to negotiate peace in Vietnam; candidate Ronald Reagan interfered with President Carter’s efforts to free hostages in Iran; and George H.W. Bush loyalists on the Supreme Court corruptly disrupted the electoral process in Florida to install Bush’s son in the White House.

If Nixon had been held to account, Reagan and Bush may not have been so brazen in their willingness to subvert American democracy for political purposes and to help their campaign donors.

Their ability to get away with such corruption to win elections paved the way for Trump’s welcoming—indeed, soliciting—help from Russia and other foreign governments to become president. And now he’s even shut down the last “cop on the beat” for the 2020 election by crippling the Federal Election Commission. Furthermore, his chief enabler, #MoscowMitch McConnell, is blocking any legislation that will prevent our election infrastructure from being hacked while forestalling consequences by injecting more manifestly unqualified or corrupt people into our judicial bloodstream than during any administration in history.


Now is the time to begin a conversation about how Trump’s enablers will be held to account, to bring post-Trump America back into the realm of a functioning democratic republic.

Preet Bharara: House: Scorch the earth


revisionist history seeks to make Republicans who preceded Trump look better than they ever were

Residual Rancor and Rage for Reagan, Romney, Dubya, Cheney, and Other Wingers Now Credited With Being Better Than They Ever Were

You may have noticed a bit of revisionist history going on that seeks to make Republicans who preceded Trump look better than they ever were. As we all know, Americans have very little sense of history. Even history that ain't that old fades fast. And with the glut provided by modern information systems, our memories get taxed beyond capacity to retain even stuff that happened a few weeks ago. Then, too, there are so many demands on our always flighty attention spans that most of us lose the thread, misplace the plot, and fail to keep track of the characters even as the narrative is still being written or played out.

So, is it any wonder that distinctly villainous people who turned up just a chapter or two ago can readily be re-drafted and transformed into versions of themselves we'd readily find unconvincing if we still had the tools of memory, history, or attention spans that would allow us to recall just what a bunch of venal or dishonest shits they were clearly shown to be when they first commanded the stage.

Remembering them at all might not even be that important except for the fact that all these (and other assholes) have been remarkably quiet during the incredibly crazy time of Trump. At a time when Dubya, and Dick, and Jeb, for instance, had almost nothing to lose by raising their voices about the threat Trump posed to the country they always claimed to love, they haven't said a damn thing. I mean, really, these guys already owed the country some serious acts of atonement what with the mess they left in their wake. From Katrina to the massive debt of the Iraq war, not to mention lots of people who died early and unnecessarily, the Bush bros and the Dastardly Dick Cheney should have been on Fox every fuckin' day telling their right wing brethren that nothing Trump was doing was going to make America great again. Au contraire, mes amis, Trump ain't on your side.

I guess they couldn't bring themselves to do that for the sake of their country because, though Trump wasn't really on the side of the rabble who turned out for his rallies, he was still delivering the goods to the rich and powerful, making it pretty damn hard for the rich and powerful to speak up or speak out, no matter the ultimate consequences or the disaster that was unfolding.

Back in the 90s, during the Clinton administration, Cheney was going around crying gloom and doom about deficits, but when he and George Herbert Walker Bush's son ascended to the White House, Cheney went around telling Republicans that "deficits don't matter." Then, when Obama was in office and had to try to dig us out of a deep hole dug by Bush, Cheney, and unscrupulous bankers, deficits began to matter a whole lot again, and Republicans were beside themselves with worry about the national debt, blaming Obama for reckless spending. But then, presto change-o, Trump was elected and deficits don't matter a damn again. Deficits are measured on a sliding scale, ya see. The right wingers spend like sailors on leave, about to depart for a war zone. The deficit balloons. Trump wastes money beyond the imaginations of most people, and nearly all the captains of commerce, corrupted politicians, con artists on K St., and Republican rats, active or recently retired, are quiet as monks who've taken vows of silence.

Just for the record, lots of the scoundrels who worked for Bush/Cheney also took jobs with Trump. Just for the record, Bush also tended to offer garbled and idiotic comments on a daily basis (Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.), though he didn't tweet, thank God, bird brain though he was. For the record, Dick Cheney spent much of his time defending torture, a pre-cursor to Stephen Miller and his ilk in terms of dedicated advocacy of fascist cruelty. And, just for the record, by the time Regan reached his second term, he was, like Trump, showing daily signs of severe mental deterioration. And, like Trump, Reagan was busy leaving a legacy of assaults on the environment through deregulation, veiled appeals to racism, and wealth redistribution benefitting the already-rich at the expense of the majority of Americans. Reagan screwed the country with an affable actor's smile while Trump fucks us all spitefully and sadistically, but the violation seems much the same. Victor Cantu, a writer friend of mine, describes Trump as "Miracle Grow for hatred," but Nixon was also a pretty good compound for growing hate and suspicion between Americans dating all the way back to his first political campaign when he painted his opponent, Helen Gahagan Douglas, as a subversive and a "pinko." (Younger readers may not know that a "pinko" was a right-wing fearmongering term that defined liberals as "reds," only slightly less determined to destroy us than the dirty Commies who were, lest we forget, mostly Russians.


The electoral college is in trouble

The electoral college is in trouble

The assumptions underlying a controversy are often more important than the controversy itself.

Take the case of our blithe acceptance of the electoral college. There is nothing normal or democratic about choosing our president through a system that makes it ever more likely that the candidate who garners fewer votes will nonetheless assume power. For a country that has long claimed to model democracy to the world, this is both wrong and weird.

And there is also nothing neutral or random about how our system works. The electoral college tilts outcomes toward white voters, conservative voters and certain regions of the country. People outside these groups and places are supposed to sit back and accept their relative disenfranchisement. There is no reason they should, and at some point, they won’t. This will lead to a meltdown.


This means that the country could render a negative verdict on Trump’s time in office by swinging away from him in a big way — and he would still be president for four more years.

Defenders of such a departure from one-person, one-vote say that if Democrats run up big leads in a few states and regions — especially California but also, say, New York, Illinois and New England — that shouldn’t count. Their strained claim is that a president is somehow more “representative” of the country if he wins by eking out tiny margins in several Midwestern states. This transforms our democracy into a casino. If you narrowly hit the right numbers in some places, you take the pot.

What they are really defending, without explicitly saying so, is the idea that states with a higher percentage of white, non-Hispanic voters should have a disproportionate influence on who becomes president.

As a short-term strategic matter, Cohn is right to stress the importance to the 2020 result of states that were closely divided in 2016. But while I have great affection for the Midwest, I see no just reason for an individual voter in California having far less power than an individual voter in, say, Wisconsin or Michigan.

And the system’s bias toward white voters only encourages Trump’s habit of dividing the country along racial lines. So in addition to being undemocratic, the electoral college encourages a particularly odious politician with no interest in uniting the country to do all he can to promote minority rule.

At some point, the majority will rise up. If Cohn’s worst-case-for-democracy scenario materializes, 2020 could be that year. Our founders admitted that the electoral college system they created in the original Constitution was defective by altering it with the 12th Amendment in 1804 . It’s time we followed their lead in showing the same willingness to scrap a system that is sending us headlong into a national crisis.

Is the GOP still the "party of Reagan"? Oh, very much so.

Donald and Ronald


Joe has a real need to say that today's Republican Party - Trump's party in his eyes - is significantly different from the party he supported and served, which was, he routinely says, "the party of Lincoln and Reagan".

President Abraham Lincoln died more than 150 years ago. The "Solid South" was so enraged at him for beating them in the Civil War and at his party for ending slavery that they voted Democrat for the next 100 years. Then the Democrats started supporting civil rights for people of colour. The Republicans saw the opportunity, courted them and flipped them. The Solid South is now theirs. It has been a long time since the Republican Party has been "the party of Lincoln". Let us put that aside.

Is the GOP still the "party of Reagan"? Oh, very much so. And I was recently reminded exactly how much while re-reading a book I wrote during his presidency back in the 1980s: "You Get What You Pay For". As I flipped through the pages, I found myself saying, over and over again, "that's just like Trump".

Joe constantly points out that Trump started his campaign with racism, riding down the escalator, attacking Mexicans. Joe thinks this illustrates a difference.

But Ronald Reagan also started his presidential campaign with racism. He chose to make his kick-off speech in the heart of the Solid South, in Mississippi, quite near where three civil rights workers had been murdered. He said, "I believe in states' rights." It was the biggest dog whistle of the day, code for segregation, and the crowd cheered.

He continued: "... we have distorted the balance of our government today by giving powers that were never intended to be given in the Constitution to that federal establishment." It had been the Republican Party that had tried to impose integration after the Civil War. Reagan was making it clear that his party was completely divorcing itself from Lincoln's vision.

It was not a one-off. Reagan ran against the "welfare queens" and against "the strapping bucks" who stood in front of you at the supermarket, buying steaks with food stamps, while you made do with hamburger helper, earned by the honest sweat of your brow. It was a brilliant strategy that turned government programmes into handouts to minorities with money stolen - through taxes - from good white people.

It was called the Southern Strategy. Reagan did not invent it. But he sold it with warmth, charm, and a smile.

What he brought to the presidency that was really original was making up stories and never being embarrassed that they were not true. He made up a tale about a mysterious stranger who gave the Founding Fathers the courage to sign the Declaration of Independence.

He loved the tale of a bomber pilot who decided not to parachute from his shot-up plane in order to stay and comfort a wounded member of his crew as they plunged to the ground and received the Congressional Medal of Honor ... posthumously ... and told it often, although it had only happened in a movie.

He said that he had been present at the liberation of a concentration camp during World War II, though he had never left Hollywood.

It used to be that being caught in a lie harmed your credibility, but Reagan, for the most part, got away with it. In doing so he set a new standard that opened the tarnished road that Trump rides down on today.


So, Joe, and all the ex-Republicans, and the upright Establishmentarians, Trump may be vulgar, Trump may be abrasive, but in terms of racism, corruption, and destruction, he is Mr Reagan's true heir. Trump's Republican Party is what it has been at least since the 1980s, only more so.
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