Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Trump admitted to IRS embezzlement from his charity

Painter Michael Israel poses with Donald and Melania Trump in 2007 at Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club. Trump spent $20,000 that belonged to the Donald J. Trump Foundation to buy a six-foot-tall portrait of himself painted by Israel to decorate his estate. (Michael Israel)
It is important to understand that money and assets of the Donald J. Trump Foundation DO NOT belong to Donald Trump.  It's not his money to do with as he pleases and most the money in the DJT Foundation did NOT come from Donald. "Self-dealing" is just a euphemism for embezzling.  Not that anyone cares.

The latest from David Fahrenthold at the Washington Post,
President-elect Donald Trump’s charitable foundation has admitted to the IRS that it violated a legal prohibition against “self-dealing,” which bars nonprofit leaders from using their charity’s money to help themselves, their businesses or their families.
That admission was contained in the Donald J. Trump Foundation’s IRS tax filings for 2015, which were recently posted online at the nonprofit-tracking site GuideStar. A GuideStar spokesman said the forms were uploaded by the Trump Foundation’s law firm, Morgan, Lewis and Bockius.
You can read all about it here.

David has been all over the DJT Foundation story and deserves a Pulitzer for his work.   Follow David on Twitter here.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Big Surprise: Repealing Obamacare is hard

On more than 60 occasions House Republicans voted to repeal the ACA, so called 'Obamacare' and with the Senate even defunded it once.   These were free votes because the House knew the Senate would save them and the Senate knew the President would veto defunding.

And even today nearly every Republican in front of a mic is promising the will repeal 'Obamacare' right away.  Republicans are great revolutionaries, but they are completely incompetent on crafting policy.  And they are starting to figure this out.

Think about the people with Obamacare insurance who have cancer and need chemotherapy. Think of the patients with brain tumors who need an MRI scan. Think of all the patients at risk of heart attacks and strokes who need surgery.  Think about all the children in their early 20s kicked on their parents plans.  Think about the reaction when you give these people exactly what you promised them and then imagine watching this play out nightly on TV.

As recently as last Sunday Trump told Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes that there would be no repeal without replacement. And there will be no gap between repeal and replacement – not even a single day.

And here is the problem Republicans face: 'Obamacare' is the Republican healthcare plan.  Liberals favor single payer.  What Republicans now call  'Obamacare' was conceived at the Heritage Foundation and first implemented by Mitt Romney as governor of Massachusetts.  It's market based provided private company insurance with subsides through an online exchange, or market, if you prefer.

In the nearly 7 years since the passage of the ACA, Republicans have never been able to agree on how to replace it.  The proposal begins by abolishing Obamacare and all its revenues. Then to avoid throwing 20 million people out on the street it imposes a Republican Cadillac tax, which is basically a tax on the health plans of ordinary workers. This tax will have to be very large in order to fund insurance for 20 million people. It would have to be really, really large to achieve the Trump goal of universal coverage.  Except every Republican in the House is on record as opposing a Cadillac tax. And even if they weren’t so inclined, Trump has promised to lower taxes on blue collar workers, not raise them.  Perhaps the largest failing of Obamacare, which Trump has promised to fix is that even now something like 30 million Americans remain uninsured, and unless we make fundamental changes ot our approach to healthcare, this number isn't likely to move much.

"I've got to see replace" said Sen. Claire McCaskill, (D MO), in an interview with Talking Points Memo.. "I've threatened to bring bloodhounds to the Capitol to find replace. For years, I've been looking for replace. I've looked in committee rooms, I've looked in hearing rooms, I've looked under desks, I've looked in closets. There has never been a replace."  "Let's see how that would work for the millions of people who have certainty and security right now."

I expect we will see a proposal for universal healthcare by tax credit, but that is going to be enormously expensive with no revenue streams to subsidize the credit.  And what about preexisting conditions and all the other reforms to non-employer sponsored healthcare that the ACA brought us that everyone now takes for granted?

Shooting your mouth off is easy when you never expect to be called upon to deliver.  Now, Republicans have to deliver and I don't think they're cut out for it.

As the Zen Master says, 'We'll see'. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

White supremacists carry out majority of fatal attacks on U.S. soil

Dylann Roof who is accused of gunning down nine African Americans at a historic Charleston church on June 17, 2015
The majority of fatal attacks on U.S. soil are carried out by white supremacists, not terrorists says the very conservative Washington Times.
In the 14 years since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, nearly twice as many people have been killed in the United States by white supremacists and anti-government radicals than by Muslim jihadis, according to a new study. White supremacists and anti-government radicals have killed 48 Americans, including [June 17, 2015] deadly attack in South Carolina, versus 26 killings by Muslim radicals, according to a count by New America, a Washington research center. “Each time it [right-wing, radical violence] comes up, there’s a tendency to dismiss it as lone actor, mental health issues,” he said. “So it’s important to not ignore threats,”

Trump Already Violating ‘Blind Trust’ Agreement by Meeting with Indian Business Partners

Donald Trump and a group of investors at Trump Tower after a meeting this week (Twitter.com)
The ink isn't even dry on Trump's supposed 'Blind Trust' and he's meeting with Indian investors in Trump businesses.

 So exciting were these Indian investors to be buying a piece of the soon-to-be POTUS that they posted on Twitter this photo of themselves alongside Trump giving the “thumbs up” gesture after their meeting and a message that said, “Atul, Sagar Chordia, Kalpesh Mehta meets U S President Mr Donald Trump at Trump Towers New York office just now.”

Here's the story.

And remember, always be closing!

The White House is for Closers!

The 11th street lobby entrance to the Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
This is going to drive Democrats and honest good government people crazy. Donald Trump has no personal ethics, has made a living self-dealing his entire life and could not care less about any government prohibitions of taking money from any one he wants.  And Republicans in Congress and certainly AG Jeff Sessions could not care less how much Donald cashes in.

Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the US Constitution prohibits Presidents from accepting gifts or money from foreign governments.  You say that foreign governments have given Presidents gifts for 230 years, and that's true except those gifts belong to the government and not the President.

So the Washington Post reports that the Trump organization is pressing all foreign governments who do business with the US to use Trump's new Washington Hotel,
To many of the guests at the reception Tuesday, accepting an invitation to tour the $212 million hotel and check out the $20,000-a-night, 6,300-square-foot “town house” suite seemed like a good idea. They spoke admiringly about the renovation and left with a goody bag of chocolates and a brochure. It listed the choices of accommodations and meeting rooms and expounded on the location’s “striking prominence” at historical moments such as the Inauguration Day parade. “Believe me, all the delegations will go there,” said one Middle Eastern diplomat who recently toured the hotel and booked an overseas visitor. The diplomat said many stayed away from the hotel before the election for fear of a “Clinton backlash,” but that now it’s the place to be seen. In interviews with a dozen diplomats, many of whom declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak about anything related to the next U.S. president, some said spending money at Trump’s hotel is an easy, friendly gesture to the new president. “Why wouldn’t I stay at his hotel blocks from the White House, so I can tell the new president, ‘I love your new hotel!’ Isn’t it rude to come to his city and say, ‘I am staying at your competitor?’ ” said one Asian diplomat.
Why indeed?  Giving business to Trump's competitors is no way to buy influence with the POTUS.

Remember when Trump was worried about the Clinton Foundation? Well, that was all made up.

You can read the story here.

Schumer: The War Time Consigliere Democrats Crave?

John Shinkle/POLITICO
When the115th Congress convenes on January 3, 2017, Harry Reid will be retired and Chuck Schumer will be leading the Democratic minority.   Will Schumer be able to effectively lead the minority to preserve as much of the gains progressives made under President Obama? He is not exactly popular with the left and folks like Elizabeth Warren will be pursuing their own agenda. Still, I would bet against Schumer but it will not be easy.  Democrat politicians in Washington are by nature institutionalists who want to make government work.  Republicans are revolutionaries who want to burn it all down and could not care less what anyone thinks.

Add to this the looming 2018 mid-terms when Democrats face the worst map in decades being forced to defend 25 seats to the Republican's eight.

Billed as an interview with Schumer, Politico has a piece that takes a look at Schumer's preparation for the battles ahead.
Schumer insists his party is more unified than Republicans following Trump's win, especially on economic issues....The party’s increasingly liberal base will expect him to confront Trump and McConnell aggressively and without exception. But Schumer also has to look out for vulnerable Democrats from red-leaning states, who represent Democrats’ only hopes of eventually getting back to the majority.  Schumer has been busy building his own cabinet of advisers. He appointed Manchin [WV and up in 2018] and liberal firebrand Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to his leadership team this week, pursuing a collaborative approach in which he’ll listen to nine voices from across the Democratic spectrum, then make up his mind.
You can read the whole piece here.

Has the Resistence formed?

John Shinkle/POLITICO

Politico reports this morning that Obama loyalist are uniting nationally to organize the resistance.   While I tend to be skeptical of such things  -- emotion makes big plans that can be hard to follow thru on when the emotion subsides -- the Obama machine redefined political organization for the 21st Century. 
The talks are all early, but a few broad themes have emerged. One is protecting the people most targeted by Trump’s policies and rhetoric. How to block a deportation force, for example? Could Vice President Joe Biden leads an anti-domestic violence campaign? Then there are the Obama policies that are most at-risk: the health law, his climate regulation. Finally, with Democratic ranks decimated not only at the federal level, but in statehouses as well, there’s a significant new emphasis on supporting alumni who are considering running for office.
Over the past 10 years, Obama alumni have spread throughout the government, the advocacy world, and influential parts of the private sector, including at Google and Facebook. That means there’s a lot diverse talent to harness.
Give it a read.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Donald Trump, the problem that keeps on giving

Following Trump's epic implosion over the weekend and the second debate, Chris Cillizza published a brief Q and A with former Romney chief strategist Stuart Stevens, who has never been a Trump supporter. 

Steven's thinks Trump's nomination is a "catastrophic mistake" for the GOP.   Here's a taste of his reasoning,
I go back to these two basic numbers: in 1980, Ronald Reagan won a sweeping landslide of 44 states with 56 percent of the white vote. In 2012, Romney lost while getting 59 percent of white voters -- and a higher percentage of white voters turned out in 2012. White voters with high school or less are Trump's strongest area. Every four years they comprise just under 4 percent less of the electorate. Betting the future on those voters is like losing $5 on every sale and hoping to make it up in volume.
You can be for or against the future but the future doesn't really care. It's going to happen.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Donald Trump all alone at the top of the ticket

Donald Trump isn't voluntarily quitting anything. And let's not pretend any of this is news.

Trump has been denigrating women on Howard Stern and in widely available Playboy videos since the 90s. Everyone who endorsed Trump knew who he was.

And for the Christian conservative Trumpers out there, I never understood Jesus to be an 'ends justifies the means' kind of guy, but you insist you know him better, so I'll defer.

But going forward, Trump now faces the very practical problem of local Republicans asking he not visit their state and refusing to appear with him if he visits anyway -- and he has to visit anyway doesn't he? So now everywhere he goes, the headline will be all about who isn't appearing with him.

Donald Trump, Groper in Chief

This is a good time remember these Trump stories of abusing women were well know long before the 2016 election cycle got under way. Trump's ex Ivana had accused Trump under oath of raping her  and another had accused him, again under oath, of sexual assault and attempted rape.

In today's NYT's  Nick Kristof recalls is the most recent account of the later.
Harth and her longtime boyfriend were in meetings with Trump to forge a business partnership. “He was relentless,” Harth recalled in an interview, describing how on Dec. 12, 1992, he took the couple to dinner and a club — and then situated himself beside Harth and ran his hands up her skirt, to her crotch. “I didn’t know how to handle it. I would go away from him and say I have to go to the restroom. It was the escape route.”

Friday, October 07, 2016

Donald Trump caught on tape

I came home from dinner out tonight to discover this huge story broke and I completely missed it.

The truth is everyone knew there was a very high likelihood something like this would surface.  This is who Donald Trump is and this is a big reason why the so-called establishment Republicans wanted nothing to do with him. 
Donald Trump bragged in vulgar terms about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women during a 2005 conversation caught on a hot microphone, saying that “when you’re a star, they let you do it,” according to a video obtained by The Washington Post. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

There aren't enough non-college White men to elect a Republican president.

The cable channels need to drive ratings and so they like to cover the presidential election like a horse race.  What they seldom (any of them) talk about is America's demographics that will actually decide this election.  This is why Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Romney lost their elections and why GW Bush lost the popular vote to Al Gore.  These demographics get worse every election cycle for the GOP.  

I have had countless arguments with low information friends who simply do not understand the demographic math and have won several bets over the years.  These friends don't understand because they're attention to the election is superficial and driven by the horse race media coverage.   I just pay closer attention and have for 30 years.

The NY Times today takes a look at this issue to see how Donald Trump could win the election, and what they found out was pretty simple: There isn't enough white non-college educated men to elect a Republican president.

William H. Frey, a demographics expert with the Brookings Institution, a nonpartisan think tank, conducted several simulations that tried to determine how much the turnout among white men without college educations would have to increase for Mr. Trump to win. He used the most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll of registered voters that had Mrs. Clinton beating Mr. Trump in a nationwide two-way race, 50 percent to 42 percent. It was among the better polls for Mr. Trump lately.
Mr. Frey tested different turnout assumptions, including improbably optimistic ones, like if 99 percent of white, non-college-educated men turned out to vote. None of the chain of events produced a Trump victory.
In fact, even if virtually all of the white, non-college-educated men eligible to vote did so, Mr. Frey found, Mrs. Clinton would still win the popular vote by 1.1 million.
And Mr. Frey said he did not account for the expected growth in Hispanic turnout. “Once you build that in,” he said, “it’s even worse for Trump.”

Post election update: Turns out there are.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

The $400M sent to Iran was reported when it happened.

As Republicans hyperventilate about the US settlement of outstanding issues with Iran including nuclear arms deal, it's important in understanding this issue, that none of this is new.

Context is everything 


As Daniel Drezner reports today in the WaPo,  almost all of this information was reported back in January when the asset exchange was made (including the $400 million figure). Both Vox’s Zack Beauchamp and the New York Times’ Michael Shear and David Sanger offer explainers about the transaction. To sum them up:
  1. Remember, the money that was transferred was always Iran’s money. It’s just that the United States seized Iran’s assets when Iran seized the U.S. Embassy in 1979. Always remember — this is Iran’s money being given back to Iran,;
  2. By all accounts the United States was going to lose an international legal tribunal ruling on the dispute. The payment prevented having to pay an even bigger penalty (in terms of interest on the $400 million held over 35 years).
  3. The transfer was not kept secret, but announced in January when the exchange took place. The new information in the WSJ stories are that (a) the transfer was in pallets of cash and (b) DOJ officials were queasy about the optics.

To manufacture a scandal out of whole cloth in a desperate attempt to change the national narrative from disastrous Donald Trump, the Wall Street Journal has taken information that was news 7 months ago, and repackage it as a scope.  Lazy reporters jump on the bandwagon because all they have to do is repeat. 

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Florida Voter Demographics place State out of reach of Trump?

 24% of Floridians in 2016 are Latin, up from 17% in 2000

Voter demographics by and large predict who will win the Presidential election.  This simple fact, doesn't get enough press attention because its really a matter of math -- not sexy -- and horse race coverage is better for ratings.   Never the less, voter demographics is the reason why the Republican party as lost the popular vote in 5 of the last 6 presidential elections.   Every presidential election cycle, voter demographics actually get worse for the Republican party; a fact not lost on GOP leadership. Following the 2012 loss the Republican Party commissioned a comprehensive study now famously known as the 2012 autopsy.  The bottom line was simple: going all in on white voters won't win the presidency and the GOP must expand their base to be competitive.  The party's POTUS candidates have completely ignored this study, but that is a subject for another post.

Perhaps no state better illustrates the GOP's problem than Florida.  Florida has been a presidential battleground for as long as I've been alive.  For many years, Florida favored Republicans because of the large, very conservative, Cuban population (I learned just how conservative the Cuban population was watching the Elián González custody dispute play out).  But as more and more non-Cuban Latin immigrants have moved to Florida, the tide as turned as George W. Bush learned in 2000.

In March, the Pew Research Center took a look at Florida, and the results are not at all good for Donald Trump.  A note on terms: Pew and the State of Florida
prefer the term "Hispanic" whereas I prefer "Latin" which more accurately describes this population.  99.9% of the Hispanic voters in Florida are in fact, Latin.   This also more accurately reflects Trump's problem.  While he hasn't attacked Spanish immigrants, he has invested heavily in attacking Latinos. Anyway, these terms here are used interchangeably.

24% of Floridians in 2016 are Latin, up from 17% in 2000. Overall, 1.8 million Latins were registered to vote in Florida as of February 2016, according to the state’s Division of Elections.

Among all Floridians, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in 2016. This is due in part to Latins, who accounted for 88% of growth in the number of registered Democrats between 2006 and 2016. During this time, the number of Latino registered voters increased by 61%, while the number of Latinos identifying as Democrats increased by 83% and those having no party affiliation increased by 95%. Meanwhile, the number of Latino Republican registered voters has grown much, much more slowly (see the chart). As a result, among Latin registered voters in 2016, 678,000 were registered as Democrats, 610,000 indicated no party affiliation and 479,000 were registered as Republicans. (It’s worth noting that not all registered voters cast a ballot, and voter turnout has a large impact in swing states like Florida.)

Go to the Pew report for a more detailed analysis, but the bottom line is this: these demographics nearly place Florida out of reach of any Republican, but especially for Donald Trump who has done more to get out the Latin vote than any Democrat could ever hope too. 

Friday, August 05, 2016

Donald Trump's Republican Party

This is what's left of Ronald Reagan's 'shinning city on a hill'


New York Times reporters have covered Donald J. Trump's rallies for more than a year. His supporters at these events often express their views in angry and provocative ways. Here are some examples.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Harvard Republican Club Refuses to Endorse Donald Trump

Donald Trump isn’t eschewing political correctness. He is eschewing basic human decency.

In an admirably principled stand, the Harvard Republican Club is refusing to endorse the Republican nominee for president. This is the only time in its 128 year history that the club has refused to endorse the Republican nominee.
Donald Trump is a threat to the survival of the Republic. His authoritarian tendencies and flirtations with fascism are unparalleled in the history of our democracy. He hopes to divide us by race, by class, and by religion, instilling enough fear and anxiety to propel himself to the White House. He is looking to to pit neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend, American against American. We will not stand for this vitriolic rhetoric that is poisoning our country and our children.

President Reagan called on us to maintain this, our shining city on a hill. He called on us to maintain freedom abroad by keeping a strong presence in the world. He called on us to maintain liberty at home by upholding the democratic process and respecting our opponents. He called on us to maintain decency in our hearts by loving our neighbor.

He would be ashamed of Donald Trump. We are to.
There is more and it's worth your time.

Attention Republican National Committee, this is what leadership looks like.  You should all be ashamed of yourselves that it is coming from a group of 20 year olds. 

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Donald Trump is the Republcan Party.

Memo to the mainstream media: Donald Trump is the only Republican choose by a national referendum of all members of the Republican party to represent the party. Not Reince Preibus, not Speaker Paul Ryan, Not Mitch McConnell or anyone else. 

Trump beat by a wide margin a large field of challengers competing for this position including some of their brightest. Think what you want about Ted Cruz or Ben Carson, Trump beat like a drum Ohio Governor John Kasich, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Sen Lindsey Graham, Sen Marco Rubio, Governor Chris Christie and Governor Scott Walker. 

 The idea that this was a weak field is preposterous. This list includes what nearly every Republican in DC a year ago would have considered their party's best and brightest. The darlings of the GOP. And guess what? The actual members of the party wanted nothing to do with anyone of them rallying around Donald Trump. That is a simple fact of history. 

So when every other Republican whose name is not Donald Trump tells you that Donald Trump doesn't speak for the Republican party on this issue or that, grow a pair and remind them that Donald Trump is the ONLY Republican chosen by the party's members to speak for the GOP on every issue. 

The sooner everyone understands that Donald Trump is the Republican Party, the sooner they will understand this is rock bottom and they can begin to rebuild. 

So stop enabling this outrageous denial. 

US President 2016 Poll Tracker

This is a tracking poll, updated hourly as new polls are released, and reflects the rolling average of all polls.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Why Does Bill O'Reilly the need to Champion the Institution of Slavery?

Bill O'Reilly is concerned that Michelle Obama has unfairly criticized the institution of slavery and in the video below seeks to set the record straight. If you listened to Michelle Obama's speech you would have heard her make the point that as a people we have come so far that the descendants of slaves now live in the American house built by slaves, and their children play on the lawn. It's a wonderful and very American story and did not condemn the institution of slavery.

But we all agree that institution of slavery was horrible right? It is a self evident truth that all men, all people, are created equal, right? Enslaving people is a sin, and a crime against humanity, right? Is slavery not the original sin upon which our country was founded?

So, why does Bill O'Reilly so badly need to defend the institution of slavery? He would never feel the need to 'correct the record' on the Holocaust.

If you chaff at people like me believing the Republican party is irredeemably stained by racism, this is a perfect example of why.  Here's Bill defending the honor of the slave owners who worked on the White House,

Trump Mocked a Reporter With a Disability and Now Lies about it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

What would be the role of the First Gentleman?

Here's a hint: It won't be picking out a new china pattern, or final approval for all floral arrangements. It also won't be a co-president and Bill won't be attending cabinet meetings.

The NYT has some ideas,
Unlike Mrs. Clinton, who was new to Washington when she became first lady, Mr. Clinton brings a wealth of political relationships, untold diplomatic experience and vast firsthand knowledge about issues and crises that presidents face. He could easily be deployed to make discreet phone calls to governors, members of Congress and business leaders, or to play a role in negotiations between foreign leaders or in global hot spots.

Mr. Clinton would not necessarily be at the White House full time, advisers say. The couple would most likely keep their home in Chappaqua, N.Y., and Mr. Clinton might continue doing some work in Manhattan with his foundation or at the offices he has kept in his post-presidency.

When in Washington, he would be less likely to be a social planner for his wife than to be her protector within the White House. Some friends of the Clintons said they could see him taking a page from Nancy Reagan, who could be aggressive in ensuring that administration staff members were serving the interests of President Ronald Reagan. Mr. Clinton might know better than most if Mrs. Clinton was being overburdened or receiving bad advice.

“He’ll be her advocate, he’ll be her lawyer, and if he thinks the staff isn’t protecting her, they’d have private conversations about it,” Mr. Kantor said. He said, however, that he did not think Mr. Clinton would go as far as Mrs. Reagan, who orchestrated the ouster of Donald T. Regan as White House chief of staff.
 On that latter part, I wouldn't bet on it.  Say what you will about the Clintons, they've often been their own worst enemies, they have stayed together all these years for some reason.  When they left the WH, nothing stopped Hillary from leaving Bill; she could have done so without any political price, but here we are.

Read the Times piece.  It's interesting and I think well done. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Trump Brags about his Russian and Chinese Friends

I guess the good news is that Trump just can't help himself.  He has to brag.  This is Donald Trump speaking last night, July 25th, in Roanoke Virgina and put together by Buzzfeed's David Mack, who wall all should be following on twitter @DavidMackau

Max Boot thinks Putin's Intervention in the Election May Just be Starting

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting of Russia's cabinet in the Kremlin in Moscow on July 22. (Alexei Nikolsky/Sputnik via Associated Press)
Max Boot, lifelong Republican, Iraq war fan and Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations is very concerned about Trumps ties to Vladimir Putin.   Boot is concerned by what he calls a foreign intervention in American politics.  We crossed that bridge with Netanyahu several years ago, but I digress.

Writing in the OP/Ed pages of the Los Angeles Times, Boot cites two well know and aptly named Russian hacker groups,"Cozy Bear and "Fancy Bear" declaring "Moscow's virtual fingerprints are all over this operation".  Boot fears that Putin may just be getting started noting that Bloomberg has reported this past June that the Clinton Foundation was also hacked and Putin could be holding back more explosive emails until October.

After quickly going through the known information about Trump's cozy relationship with Putin and Trumps financial ties (dependence?) much of which I highlighted below, Boot concludes,
Trump’s campaign — whose slogan might as well be  “Make Russia Great Again”— presents Putin with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reorient American foreign policy in Russia’s favor.  Without the countering influence of the U.S., Putin has  a good chance to achieve his dream of undoing the collapse of the Soviet Union, which he has called a “geopolitical catastrophe,” by re-swallowing Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and other former Soviet republics.
Such a development ought to alarm all Americans, even Republicans. The idea of a hostile foreign power interfering in a U.S. election is a threat to our democracy, one that Republican leaders would be condemning if they hadn’t checked  their principles at the gate in exchange for tickets on the Trump Train.
Boot's right that this is a very serious situation and it's going to be interesting and more than a little terrifying to watch this play out.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Russian Intelligence Agencies Hacked the DNC

Photo illustration by Lisa Larson-Walker. Photos by Spencer Platt/Getty Images News, Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images.
The NYT's reports today that U.S. researchers have concluded that the Democratic National Committee was hacked by two Russian intelligence agencies.  These are the same Russian intelligence agencies that were behind previous Russian cyberoperations at the White House, the State Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff last year. Metadata from the released DNC emails suggests that the documents passed through Russian computers.

While a hacker claimed responsibility for giving the emails to WikiLeaks, the Russian agencies are the prime suspects.

Putin actually has a long history of covertly supporting right-wing populists across Europe.  There were well documented large transfers of cash to keep Marine Le Pen's campaign alive in France. WikiLeaks cables showed Former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi profited personally and professionally thanks to the largesse of Putin.

Franklin Foer details Putin's efforts to bring down the West through our elections process in this piece in Slate,
There’s a clear pattern: Putin runs stealth efforts on behalf of politicians who rail against the European Union and want to push away from NATO. He’s been a patron of Golden Dawn in Greece, Ataka in Bulgaria, and Jobbik in Hungary. Joe Biden warned about this effort last year in a speech at the Brookings Institution: “President Putin sees such political forces as useful tools to be manipulated, to create cracks in the European body politic which he can then exploit.” Ruptures that will likely multiply after Brexit—a campaign Russia’s many propaganda organs bombastically promoted.
And now, little more than a week after Trump offered Putin the Baltic Nato states, emails embarrassing his opponent are released.

Finally, I'll leave you with this WaPo story from December, 2015, following a Trump appearance on Morning Joe where in he sings of his bromance/man crush on Vladimir Putin,
TRUMP: When people call you "brilliant" it's always good, especially when the person heads up Russia.

HOST JOE SCARBOROUGH: Well, I mean, also is a person who kills journalists, political opponents and ...

WILLIE GEIST: Invades countries.

SCARBOROUGH: ... and invades countries, obviously that would be a concern, would it not?

TRUMP: He's running his country, and at least he's a leader, unlike what we have in this country.

SCARBOROUGH: But, again: He kills journalists that don't agree with him.

TRUMP: Well, I think that our country does plenty of killing, too, Joe.
Maybe it's time the FBI started asking Trump and his people if they have received any documents stolen from the DNC?

UPDATE: The FBI is investigating the hack, which they probably have been doing since the DNC first reported it. But are they asking the Trump campaign if they have any ill gotten documents from this hack?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

An Hyocracy without Limits


Note the Playboy cover over Mrs. Falwell's shoulder. 

The outrageous hypocrisy of evangelical Christians defies description. For 25 years we have listened to an endless drumbeat of fire and brimstone condemnations of first Bill and then Hillary Clinton for every moral failing humanly possible to be committed by any individual in a single lifetime.  We have been endlessly told these moral indictments make it absolutely impossible for any Christian to vote for either Clinton, and walk with Jesus in the afterlife.  In my time defending either Clinton, I never responded to moral or faith-based charges from religious leaders because that was between them and their flocks.  How they administer their faith is no more my business than how I live my life is theirs. 

But now Trump?  An admitted and unrepentant serial adulterer, whose freely express bigotry and racism the world hasn’t seen since the rise of fascism in 1930s Europe?  Donald Trump gets the Christian seal of approval? Trump, whose misogyny rivals that of a Saudi Prince?  Trump who clearly hasn’t spent more than 5 minutes thinking about God in his entire Adult life?  This is who Christian leaders align with?  In my life, I can’t think of a greater example of hypocrisy. 

These self-described Christian leaders supporting Trump are the money changers we’ve read about and chasing them out of the temple with a whip seems too good for them.  An Old Testament stoning seems about right.