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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

Are we nuts yet? I think I am.

Notes from the Cuckoo's Nest: Am I a Russian? Are You? And What about That Guy over There?


According to Engel's reporting, there are armies of Russians in front of keyboards cranking out this stuff in a concerted effort to get Americans to hate one another, mistrust one another, and generally lose faith in ourselves, our system of government, and our fellow Americans.

And it's working, ain't it? The Russians have a man in the Oval Office, a guy who loves Putin, loves the love letters he gets from Kim Jong Un, and is undermining our intelligence services, ignoring the threat to our democracy, and lending all his efforts to further divide this country until it cracks.

And it's cracking, ain't it? The evidence is written in blood, written in rallies, written in the miasma of corruption and barely-concealed criminality that covers the waterfront from pedophilia to presidential malfeasance and nonfeasance, from pardons to prostitutes to stripping away of regulations meant to protect us from pollution of air and water. Add to that the creeps like Tucker Carlson and the always-odious Ann Coulter, telling us that the threat of white supremacy is a hoax, or that even a mention of background checks by Trump is a blow against the empire.

And don't it just begin to seem that very real daily malevolence is at work here. We get up, turn on our computers or our TVs and up pops the latest shooting, scandal, or presidential pally boy and pervert found dead in his cell under the most suspicious of circumstances. How can we bear such times and live?

Can we trust what we read? What we're told by anyone anymore? I'm so gaslighted and fucked over by now that I'm beginning to think I might be a Russian agent myself. I do know I've spent a lot of time sowing division with things I write, so maybe I'm working for Putin now. Maybe it's not just discourse between citizens in a democracy now. Maybe calling out the racism and decrying the corruption and ugliness of the right wing is doing nothing more than furthering the progress toward the cliff we all seem to be heading for in this once-fairly-ok country Trump promised to make great again. You know, like back when black people were charged poll taxes or made to pass impossible tests in order to vote, or when they had to drink from separate water fountains, attend separate schools, or piss in separate rest rooms. Or back in those great days when women couldn't get credit in their own names unless their husbands co-signed for the spoiled bitches.

I gotta tell ya, I'm an old man now. I've been through the political wars since I was still in my teens. I've done my tiny bit to combat the right wingers across the spectrum of their perfidies and predations against minorities, against working people, against common decency, against the raids on Social Security and the assaults on sanity, the environment, and a more viable future on this planet. Like so many others, I was sickened and appalled by the massively wasteful war in Vietnam, the virulent and persistent racism, and the constant rip offs of the treasury. Like so many other people of good will who wanted so desperately to love our country, I was disgusted by Nixon and Kissinger, by the bumbling Gerald Ford who pardoned his boss and told us our "long national nightmare" was over. I was nauseated by Reagan's phony role-playing when he cast himself as an archetypical American hero, affable, likeable, and good natured, though he was a dark and maggoty figure, wriggling with deeply embedded racism of the kind he shared with Nixon in late-night phone calls to that pathologically damaged human being. Like many others, I lent energies to opposing the nuclear buildup of the '80s, opposed wars little and bigger, from the invasion of Grenada to the war in Iraq. I lived through decades being told that the Russians were coming, that they were not our friends, and they were not bearing gifts. I shuddered when Reagan made an on-air joke about launching nukes their way. I hung my head as I watched the dumbing down of the presidency under Reagan, then the bred-in-the-bone privileged stupidity of sub-mediocrities like George H.W. Bush and Dan Quayle, his hand-picked white bread VP, the dim-witted son of money who corrected a grade school kid who had correctly spelled "potato." I opposed Clinton's welfare reform bill, and went nuts when he signed off on repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act that would later help the bankers to pillage the country and bring the entire world to the brink of financial collapse when the big money thieves stole so much they nearly brought down the entire house of cards. And, like so many, I was sickened and appalled by the dim-witted George "Dubya" Bush and his merry band of neo-con henchmen and enablers, many of whom would later turn up again, undiminished, in the Trump administration. It was truly horrifying to see a man like Dick Cheney defending torture after getting us mired in Iraq, needlessly and criminally, even as his old outfit, Halliburton, pocketed billions for doing bad work and endangering American solders in the process. Like so many others, I remember Rumsfeld sending soldiers to Iraq in unarmored Humvees because that crooked administration was so eager to go to war they couldn't wait, excusing the lack of concern for the troops by saying "you go to war with the army you have, not the army you want." This was from a Secretary of "Defense" in charge of the most expensively funded military force in the world, where so much money disappeared without a trace.

And now, along with my fellow baby boomers, I went from diving under desks in grade school to now seeing Russians in the White House woodwork. Don't bogart that joint, my friend, pass it over to me.

I thought we'd seen it all, those of us who've been on this long strange trip since the Cold War. But now it seems like we ain't seen nothin' yet. Despite the craziness we've witnessed, nothing could have prepared us for what we've seen in the past three years, a massive exhibition of mind fuckery far beyond the imagination of the most gifted, addled, or paranoid writer of fiction. It's a screenplay that would have been laughed off the screen, with a cast of characters too bizarre to make it into a Marvel comic book, with a dastardly orange super villain with cotton-candy hair, a murderous Korean shrimp who writes him love letters, and cunning Russians attacking us at the most vulnerable points of our nation's original sins of slavery, racism, and distance from our ideals.


Are we nuts yet? I think I am.

Reporting directly to Donald Trump's personal lawyer, two operators waged a brazen

Two Unofficial US Operatives Reporting To Trump’s Lawyer Privately Lobbied A Foreign Government In A Bid To Help The President Win In 2020
Reporting directly to Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, two operators waged a brazen back-channel campaign that could thrust another foreign country to the center of the next US election.

Two unofficial envoys reporting directly to Donald Trump’s personal lawyer have waged a remarkable back-channel campaign to discredit the president’s rivals and undermine the special counsel’s inquiry into Russian meddling in US elections.

In a whirlwind of private meetings, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman — who pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into Republican campaigns and dined with the president — gathered repeatedly with top officials in Ukraine and set up meetings for Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, as they turned up information that could be weaponized in the 2020 presidential race.

The two men urged prosecutors to investigate allegations against the Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden. And they pushed for a probe into accusations that Ukrainian officials plotted to rig the 2016 election in Hillary Clinton’s favor by leaking evidence against Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chair, in what became a cornerstone of the special counsel’s inquiry.

They also waged an aggressive campaign in the United States, staying at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, and meeting with key members of Congress as they joined in a successful push that led to the removal of the ambassador to Ukraine, after she angered their allies in Kiev.

Meanwhile, the two men — who both have troubled financial histories — rose to prominence in Republican circles, meeting with party leaders while injecting hundreds of thousands of dollars into top Republican committees and dozens of candidates’ campaigns.


Have a seat. This is upsetting


YES, COLLUSION Mueller Missed the Crime: Trump's Campaign Coordinated With Russia

Mueller Missed the Crime: Trump’s Campaign Coordinated With Russia
The special counsel will testify before Congress next week. He needs to answer for historic legal and factual errors.

Ever since the release of the Mueller Report, countless commentators have implored everyone to just #ReadtheReport. The problem is not who is reading it—the problem is the report itself, and its many errors.

Robert Mueller made a significant legal error and erroneously cleared President Donald Trump and his campaign of wrongdoing on campaign coordination with Russia. Mueller’s errors meant that, first, he failed to conclude that the Trump campaign criminally coordinated with Russia; second, he failed to indict campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates for felony campaign coordination (see in a concise timeline below); third, the 10 acts of felony obstruction in Volume II fell flat among the general public because it lacked compelling context of these underlying crimes between the campaign and Russia. On top of these errors, the former special counsel said he deliberately wrote the report to be unclear because it would be unfair to make clear criminal accusations against a president.

The bottom line is that the Mueller Report is a failure not because of Congress or because of public apathy, but because it failed to get the law, the facts, or even the basics of writing right. When Mueller testifies before Congress on July 17, he should be pressed on all of this.

The DOJ’s initial appointment explicitly tasked Mueller with investigating campaign “coordination,” and it is not too much to ask that he get the law of “coordination” right. The report stated that “‘coordination’ does not have a settled definition in federal criminal law. We understood coordination to require an agreement—tacit or express.”

However, Congress purposely sought to prevent such narrow interpretations: in 2002, it passed a statute directing that campaign finance regulations “shall not require agreement or formal collaboration to establish coordination.” The Federal Election Commission established the regulations for the implementation of the statute: “Coordinated means made in cooperation, consultation or concert with, or at the request or suggestion of, a candidate,” with no need to show any kind of agreement.

Outside spending for coordinated communications is an in-kind contribution, and foreign contributions are completely prohibited. And Congress made the criminal penalties unmistakably clear: “Any person who knowingly and willfully commits a violation of any provision of this Act” commits a crime. The Supreme Court upheld these limits in McConnell v. FEC with crucial observations about the functional role of suggestions, rather than agreements: “[E]xpenditures made after a wink or nod often will be as useful to the candidate as cash.” This timeline is full of suggestions far more explicit than winks and nods.

As the Supreme Court acknowledged, this is not about bribery and quid pro quo; it’s about outsourcing a consistent campaign messaging and expenses to known allies. It seems Mueller did not hire any legal experts with experience in campaign finance regulation. Given that this investigation was about campaign crimes, this appears to a revealing oversight with serious consequences.

In addition to ignoring these rules, Mueller also made a major organizational error: Volume I separates the events of Russian hacking from the actions of the Trump campaign. The entire point of a “conspiracy and coordination” investigation was the relationship between the two. The ongoing pattern of signal or invitation with response, of cause-and-effect, gets utterly lost in the hundreds of pages of details, the siloing of each character, and especially in the omissions and the errors.


Seth Abramson Connects the Dots

Seth Abramson Connects the Dots

During this whole Trump election ordeal, there have been several data points that made no sense at all to me. Three in particular have been haunting:

Why would Kushner be put in charge of “Middle East peace”? He had zero experience and zero skills in that area.

Why would Kushner seek to get a secure communication channel that could not be traced by the NSA or CIA?

WTF was going on with that Seychelles meeting that featured a rogue’s gallery of Arabs and Russians, plus everybody’s favorite mercenary, Erik Prince?

Abramson comments on a new NYTimes story. The story seems rather vague, but Abramson is able to connect dots with his own background. Suddenly those three above questions make perfect sense. Here are the points Abramson makes on Twitter:


If Abramson is correct in his inferences, and I think he probably is, suddenly those three questions at the top of this post make sense. Specifically:

Kushner was put in charge of “Middle East peace” not to broker a deal, but to carry out the wishes of these 6 nations that were part of the organized attack on America.

The need for a secure channel becomes obvious, as this is treason beyond anything ever known in this country.

And the Seychelles “rogue’s gallery” is not a collection of rogues after all. It is a meeting of the key players in this attack
Why is this not getting more attention? Even on the NYTimes it is already on the back pages.

Not Impeaching Trump Is Riskier than Impeaching Him

Not Impeaching Trump Is Riskier than Impeaching Him


Impeachment proceedings provide the Democrats the opportunity to establish a compelling narrative of Trump’s extraordinary malfeasance. Such hearings undoubtedly would include first-person accounts from the witnesses on whom Mueller relied, such as former White House Counsel Doug McGahn, detailing Trump’s repeated and felonious abuse of office to obstruct the investigation into Russian interference on his behalf in the 2016 Presidential election. (As Mueller’s report explains, obstruction of justice is committed by an obstructive act, such as firing FBI Director Comey, executed with the intention of obstructing an official proceeding, such as the FBI investigation -- regardless of whether act succeeds, e.g., whether it stops the investigation).

Impeachment hearings also would describe Trump’s numerous covert and discrediting links to the Russian government. Those would include his pursuing a real estate project in Russia while he was running for president and his senior campaign staff meeting with a Russian government agent to secure assistance with his Presidential campaign. Trump repeatedly lied in public to conceal these links. Given the numerous ongoing counter-intelligence investigations pertaining to Russia, and criminal prosecutions spun off by Mueller, it is likely additional evidence of such links would be disclosed in impeachment hearings.

The importance of these covert and discrediting links, regardless of whether they are criminal, is that like the “pee tapes” rumored to be held by the Russians, they provide the Russians leverage over Trump, i.e. the Russians could disclose his secrets. Absent some such leverage; it is difficult to explain Trump’s conduct towards Putin and Russia, such as his destruction of notes held by any American present at his meetings with Putin, and his obsequiousness in Putin’s presence. Few Americans will approve of Trump once he is shown to be, in a sense, “Putin’s poodle.”

While impeachment proceedings likely would show even more grounds for impeachment, such as Trump’s violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause -- an offense akin to bribery -- the bottom line is that impeachment hearings will demonstrate Trump needs to go. The retort that hearings won’t matter, because Trump’s “base,” presumably referring to his typical 40% approval rating, is unshakeable is manifestly wrong. Base is what is solid, and the 40% is not. For example, only 25% of voters strongly approve of Trump’s performance. That suggests a considerable portion of Trump’s supporters, as is typical for those of any president, can be switched.

The Democratic leadership maintains impeachment without removal would mobilize Trump’s base in 2020. Yet, as the political scientist Jeffrey Isaac has observed, Trump’s base is and will remain mobilized by his ceaseless racist and jingoistic incitement, regardless of impeachment. Conversely, impeachment proceedings likely will reduce Trump’s current support, perhaps down to his true base.

Mitch McConnell threatens to block everything if Trump loses in 2020

Mitch McConnell threatens to block everything if Trump loses in 2020
Mitch McConnell is already threatening to bring the country to a screeching halt if voters get rid of Trump.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is threatening to kill popular legislation and policies if voters elect a Democratic president in the 2020 election.

"If I'm still the majority leader in the Senate [in 2020], think of me as the Grim Reaper," McConnell told voters in Owensboro, Kentucky, on Monday. "None of that stuff is going to pass."

That stuff McConnell is so eager to kill? Popular progressive ideas like the Green New Deal and Medicare for All, which would help to clean up the environment and provide even more access to affordable health care. Even if voters reject Trump and the Republican agenda in 2020, McConnell is determined to do what he wants rather than what the voters want.

"I guarantee you that if I'm the last man standing and I'm still the majority leader, it ain't happening," he said. "I can promise you."


Now McConnell is openly stating he will resort to the same tactics again. If America elects a Democratic president, McConnell will do everything in his power to stop the will of the voters. Again.

Trump Is Not Stable -- and That Should Be a Huge News Story

Trump Is Not Stable — and That Should Be a Huge News Story

If over the weekend you saw a rambling madman give a frighteningly incoherent, sweaty, two-hour shoutfest of a speech at a right-wing summit, then you viewed a president coming unglued on national television in a way that has probably never been seen before in United States history. And that is extraordinary cause for alarm.

But if, instead, you saw nothing more than a “fiery” Donald Trump give a “zigzagging,” “wide-ranging,” “campaign-like” address where the Republican really “let loose,” then you likely work for the D.C. press, which once again swung and missed when it came to detailing the escalating threat that Trump represents to the country.

Specifically, newsrooms today nearly uniformly refuse to address the mounting, obvious signs that Trump is a deeply unstable man, as the CPAC meltdown so obviously demonstrated. Most reporters simply do not want to mention it. “In most ways, it was just another campaign rally for the president, in flavor, content, and punchlines,” the Daily Beast reported, summing up Trump’s CPAC calamity. In other words: Nothing to see here, folks.

That was typical of CPAC coverage. “Trump derides Mueller probe, mocks Democrats and his former attorney general,” the Washington Post headline announced. The accompanying article didn’t include even the slightest hint that Trump’s speech was a flashing neon-red sign of a man teetering on the edge. That is a bionic-level attempt to normalize Trump and his CPAC disaster, where he referred to 2020 Democratic candidates as “maniacs,” suggested they “hate their country,” and accused the Democratic Party of supporting “extreme late-term abortion.”

That wasn’t just some “long-winded” or “rambling” speech. That was pure insanity, and the fact that a sitting president unleashed such a bizarre performance, punctuated by so many incomprehensible nonsequiturs, means his stability and capacity ought to be questioned—and it ought to be a pressing news story.


Rigging the vote: how the American right is on the way to permanent minority rule

Rigging the vote: how the American right is on the way to permanent minority rule
Underhand Republican tactics – gerrymandering, voter suppression, more – underpin a vice-like grip on power


The two most recent Republican presidents have entered office despite receiving fewer votes than their opponent in a national election, thanks to the electoral college, which systematically over-represents small states. (California gets one electoral vote per 712,000 people; Wyoming gets one per 195,000.) With the presidency in hand in the run-up to the 2020 census, minority rule will be further entrenched by adding a citizenship question to the census. This will result in systematic undercounting of the population in heavily Democratic areas, which will in turn further reduce their influence as legislatures draw maps based on the data.

Then there’s the Senate. Because of its bias toward smaller, rural states, a resident of Wyoming has 66 times the voting power in Senate elections as one in California. Thus, in 2016, the Democratic party got 51.4 million votes for its Senate candidates. The Republicans got 40 million. And despite losing by more than 11 million votes, the Republicans won a supermajority (22 of 36) of the seats up for election, holding their majority in the chamber.

The hideously malapportioned Senate and electoral college permit the last piece of the minority rule puzzle to snap into place: the supreme court. In 2016, after losing the contest for the presidency and the Senate by millions of votes, the Republicans were able to install two supreme court justices. There may be more.

In fact, when the Senate confirmed Trump’s first nominee, Neil Gorsuch, it was a watershed moment in American history. For the first time, a president who lost the popular vote had a supreme court nominee confirmed by senators who received fewer votes – nearly 22 million fewer – than the senators that voted against him. And by now, it will not surprise you to discover that the senators who voted for the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh represent 38 million fewer people than the ones who voted no.

With the supreme court in hand, all those other tactics – partisan gerrymandering, voter ID and the rest – are protected from the only institution that could really threaten them. But it doesn’t stop there. The supreme court can be used to do more than approve the minority rule laws that come before it. It can further the project on its own.


GOP Rep Describes Pushing 300k Children Off Lunch Program... As "Trimming The Fat"

GOP Rep Describes Pushing 300k Children Off Lunch Program To Protect Military Spending As "Trimming The Fat"

Yesterday, House Republicans moved legislation forward aimed at preventing any reductions in military spending, even if that means cutting much needed programs for the nation’s poorest. The House Armed Services Committee’s bill provides $554 billion for the Pentagon — $29 billion more than DOD had requested — while the GOP-led Budget Committee packaged six bills that would “slice $261 billion from food stamps, Medicaid, social services and other programs for struggling Americans.”

Last night on Fox News, House Majoriy Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) claimed that the Republicans were just trimming the fat from the budget and getting rid of wasteful spending:

VAN SUSTEREN: But these cuts — I mean, these cuts — I mean, some of the cuts, I mean, just — you know, there are — there’s money sitting in our government. There’s some fat that we can.. some of these cuts. I mean — the fat is incredible!

MCCARTHY: Then you would support what we’re doing. That’s we’re doing committee by committee!

So what does McCarthy and the GOP consider budget fat? The New York Times today offered some details:

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the bill would push 1.8 million people off food stamps and could cost 280,000 children their school lunch subsidies and 300,000 children their health insurance coverage through the federal and state Children’s Health Insurance Program. Elimination of the social services block grant to state and local governments would hit child abuse prevention programs, Meals on Wheels and child care.

A further 23 million would be affected by the repeal of the Social Services Block Grant, which helps fund child care and disability assistance to low-income Americans.

In fact, eliminating the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans would more than provide the savings the Republicans are seeking, twice over.

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