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dajoki

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Gender: Male
Home country: USA
Current location: PA
Member since: Wed May 11, 2005, 09:48 PM
Number of posts: 10,311

About Me

I love spending time with my grandchildren and gardening.

Journal Archives

Ukrainians: Trump Just Sent Us 'a Terrible Signal'

Ukrainians: Trump Just Sent Us ‘a Terrible Signal’
Kyiv officials were hoping for a statement of support from Trump in advance of Ukraine’s big summit with Russia. Instead, the president hosted Putin’s main man.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/ukrainians-trump-just-sent-us-a-terrible-signal

Ukrainian officials spent last weekend glued to Trump’s Twitter feed.

People working closely with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky have been in contact with Trump administration officials over the past several weeks discussing the relationship between the two presidents, according to four people with knowledge of the talks. Based on those conversations, Ukrainian officials came to expect that President Donald Trump would make a statement of support before Zelensky met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in France for peace talks. A statement might even come via Twitter, they said they were told.

“Through all the signals we got, we firmly believed there would be a statement,” a senior Zelensky administration official told The Daily Beast.

But as Saturday and Sunday ticked by, there was only silence from the White House. Even as Ukrainian officials have publicly been loath to criticize Trump’s pressure campaign on their country, frustrations with Washington have quietly percolated. And last weekend, they were especially acute.

On Monday, Zelensky and Putin met in Normandy, France for face-to-face negotiations on the war in eastern Ukraine. Russia had seized Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014, and has ever since backed separatists in the eastern part of the country. French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were on hand for the talks. Putin and Zelensky agreed to exchange “all known prisoners,” according to The Washington Post. Another round of talks is expected in several months.

Words of support from the United States in the lead-up to the Normandy talks could have given the Ukrainian president more leverage with Putin, according to the Zelensky administration official and two additional people close to his administration. Instead, Trump spent the weekend on Twitter tweeting about Fox News pundits, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and CNN. It was a particularly busy weekend of social media for him, with more than 100 tweets and retweets by Politico’s count. But no word on Normandy.

<<snip>>

Report: Trump's Ukraine Extortion Scheme Was Financed by Russia

Report: Trump’s Ukraine Extortion Scheme Was Financed by Russia
http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/12/report-parnas-russia-ukraine-trump-impeachment-giuliani-money.html?utm_source=tw

President Trump is facing impeachment primarily for abusing his power for political gain, extorting a foreign country to discredit his political rivals. The secondary aspect of the plot is that the target of his extortion is hardly random. Ukraine is the victim of Russian aggression, and Russia’s continuing incursions into Ukrainian territory is the muscle that gave Trump’s threats leverage. Trump’s domestic interests are one intended beneficiary of his scheme. The other is Vladimir Putin.

Trump and his allies insist he has actually pursued a hawkish line in Ukraine. “Mr. Trump didn’t withhold military aid to Ukraine, and even if he had he would have merely been returning to Barack Obama’s policy of denying lethal aid,” argues a Wall Street Journal editorial. “No one has done more to limit Russia’s ability to engage in mischief than President Trump,” insists Representative Matt Gaetz in a Fox News segment retweeted by the president.

Meanwhile, federal prosecutors charged yesterday evening that Lev Parnas, an associate of President Trump who represented him in Ukraine, was wired $1 million from a Russian bank account weeks before his arrest. Which is to say, Trump’s Ukraine plot appears to have been financed by Russia.

Parnas met repeatedly with Trump and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. Parnas claims Trump pulled him aside at last year’s White House Hanukkah party and personally directed his activities in Ukraine. That allegation remains unproven. What is proven, though, is that Parnas met with Trump numerous times (there are photographs), was Giuliani’s official business partner, and represented himself to Ukrainians as an agent of both Trump and Giuliani.

Rudy has worked as Trump’s lawyer for “free,” but Parnas paid him half a million dollars for his work. If Parnas himself was being paid by Russian sources, this means the Russians were essentially subsidizing Trump, paying for the work themselves so he didn’t have to lay out a dime of his own money.

<<snip>>

it's hard to overstate how large the Horowitz and Durham investigations loom in the right-wing mind

Bill Barr’s Own Top Investigator Privately Says Right-wing Conspiracy about the Russia Probe Is Baseless: Report
https://www.alternet.org/2019/12/bill-barrs-own-top-investigator-privately-says-right-wing-conspiracy-about-the-russia-probe-is-baseless-report/

John Durham, the U.S. attorney picked by Attorney General Bill Barr, has privately said that he has no evidence to support the right-wing conspiracy theory that the Russia investigation was an intelligence community plot to take down President Donald Trump, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

Barr, who chose Durham to oversee a review of the origins of the investigation that has become a criminal probe, has fanned the flames of the conspiracy theories about Russia probe. His public comments have suggested he gives credence to claims made by Trump and many right-wing media figures that the whole investigation was an illegitimate effort to undermine the president. This theory has always been wildly far-fetched, but it’s been treated as received wisdom in some corners by Trump defenders.

Recent reports have suggested, though, that a forthcoming report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz will refute the conspiracists and say the investigation was opened appropriately (though it will reportedly find some sloppiness and minor wrongdoing on the part of FBI officials). Following these reports, the Post found that Barr is prepared to dispute this key conclusion from Horowitz, adding to the perception that Barr is a partisan hitman trying to confirm Trump’s preconceived notions.

<<snip>>

It cautions, though, that Horowitz’s report is not yet final and the Post has not seen the draft report.

For those not tuned in to conservative media, it’s hard to overstate how large the Horowitz and Durham investigations loom in the right-wing mind. A minor event on Wednesday gave just one indication of the build-up: During the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment proceedings, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) suggested that the release of Horowitz’s report could provide grounds to impeach former President Barack Obama.

It's hard to be an optimist about America right now

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/its-hard-to-be-an-optimist-about-america-right-now/2019/11/27/8020e526-115b-11ea-b0fc-62cc38411ebb_story.html

<<snip>>

There is another concerning trend that threatens America’s constitutional character: the ever-expanding power of the presidency. Whatever you think of the charges against President Trump on Russia or Ukraine, his position of resolute noncooperation with Congress should trouble you deeply. If Congress cannot exercise its core oversight capacity, obtain documents and subpoena administration officials to testify, the essential system of checks and balances has broken down. The presidency will have become an elected dictatorship.

We have been going down this road for a while. Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. wrote about “The Imperial Presidency” in 1973. The legislation and culture after Watergate led many to believe that matters were under control. People actually began worrying about a weakened and emasculated White House. In fact, as Schlesinger noted in a 2004 reissue of his book, the presidency in recent years has become stronger than ever. The fear after 9/11 proved to be the gateway for an out-of-control executive branch. The president gained the ability to snoop on private Americans, use military force at his whim, torture prisoners and detain people indefinitely. The president can now order the execution of American citizens who are deemed — by him — to be terrorists, without due process.

In Attorney General William P. Barr, Trump has found an extraordinarily useful aide, who appears to believe, despite all this history, that the great problem in the United States is that the presidency is too weak. He has enabled a policy of stonewalling and silence, in which top administration officials almost behave as though Congress does not exist. People often ask themselves what the founders would think of America today. It seems to me that the greatest shock to them would be the incredible growth of presidential power. Congress and the courts are recognizable from their times; the White House is not.

Tensions over profound demographic change, fierce political backlash and a presidency that refuses to be checked. My optimism is wearing thin.

Trump's GOP defenders cannot be shamed. It's time to try this instead.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/11/22/trumps-gop-defenders-cannot-be-shamed-its-time-democrats-try-this-instead/

/snip/

It’s time to drop the posture that Trump’s defenders can be shamed into accepting what has been unearthed, or that they can be shamed into arguing from a baseline of shared democratic values, or into arguing over how to interpret a comprehensive set of shared facts.

Instead, let’s rhetorically treat Trump’s defenders as his criminal accomplices. Not just as “enablers” of Trump’s corruption but as active participants in it.

Once this is accepted, it becomes obvious why they can’t be “won over,” because they are actively engaged in keeping the corruption in question from getting fully uncovered, in the belief that they, too, benefit from it, and that they, too, lose out if it’s exposed.

/snip/

"If those records had come out, the truth would have been exposed"

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/legal-issues/trial-opens-for-roger-stone-accused-of-lying-about-wikileaks-and-trump-campaigns-interest-in-hacked-2016-democratic-emails/2019/11/06/647bd322-ff2b-11e9-8bab-0fc209e065a8_story.html

<<snip>>

The trial before Judge Amy Berman Jackson is expected to last about two weeks. She has warned that any visible or audible response from those attending the trial will lead to expulsion from the courtroom, and after one break, Stone warned his supporters to “tone down the reactions — no smiling, no giggling, no rolling your eyes,” he said.

A trove of Stone’s communications with Trump insiders, including exchanges with Bannon, Manafort and Manafort deputy Rick Gates, will figure prominently in the case.

Zelinsky said the case’s most important evidence will not be the witnesses, but Stone’s own words.

“Amazingly, most of the evidence in this case is in the written record — it’s emails and text messages showing what really happened. If those records had come out, the truth would have been exposed,” the prosecutor said.

The trial will detail the eagerness of some in Trump’s orbit to find damaging information to derail Clinton’s presidential run, and how Stone then denied such efforts when asked about them.

“At a critical moment in this nation’s history,” as Congress sought to “find out the truth of what happened,” Zelinsky said, Stone “was doing his best to stop them.”

Sorry, pundits: The problem isn't "polarization" -- Republicans have lost their damn minds

Sorry, pundits: The problem isn't "polarization" — Republicans have lost their damn minds
Mainstream media loves the "both sides" narrative. But the real problem is that the GOP has snapped the tether
https://www.salon.com/2019/11/01/sorry-pundits-the-problem-isnt-polarization-republicans-have-lost-their-damn-minds/

When the final vote tally on a formal resolution governing the impeachment inquiry concluded on Thursday with a party-line split — all Republicans present voted against the resolution, and all but two Democrats voted for it — one could practically hear the squeak of excitement from the mainstream media pundit class. Here was an opportunity to run with a "partisan polarization" narrative that neatly sidesteps the substantive disagreement between the two parties.

The situation is simple: The Republican Party, both its politicians and its voters, has collectively decided that it's fine for Donald Trump to use his office to run an illegal extortion scheme against a foreign leader in an effort to cheat in the 2020 election. The moral rot of the Republican Party, and its cultist loyalty to a criminal president is the sole reason for this situation. Democrats are — rather too reluctantly! — trying to do something to stop the bleeding.

But to read mainstream news coverage, one would think the real problem is that both sides are irascible and bitterly divided, and that there's some reasonable solution that involves everyone joining hands and finding some way to compromise.

"Analysis: On Impeachment Fight, Neither Side Seems Willing To Give an Inch," read the Friday morning front-page headline at the New York Times, which, as usual, was the most egregious offender when it comes to "both sides" pablum.

The article underneath, by Carl Hulse, focused exclusively on the failure to compromise, noting that "the two parties [are] pulling ever further apart as they dig in deeper on the righteousness of their respective causes" and that "[l]ittle evidence has emerged that either side is willing to give an inch."

How the parties are supposed to compromise on the issue of whether the president should be allowed to commit serious crimes is not even addressed. After all, to acknowledge that one side is for crimes and the other side is against them might expose how ridiculous this "compromise vs. polarization" framework really is.

The Associated Press covered the vote in a similar vein, writing that "Democrats swept a rules package for their impeachment probe of President Donald Trump through a divided House," and failing to note until the 22nd paragraph that Republicans have been calling for such a vote for weeks, as Media Matters pointed out.

Other outlets, including NBC News, CNN and the Washington Post, ran front-page stories on the way partisan polarization shaped the vote and is driving the polling on impeachment.

These stories are tough, because, in one sense, it's technically true that the vote and the polling shows that Americans are deeply divided, by party identity, on the issue of impeachment. But that framework misses the larger story: The reason for this deep division is that Republicans, both voters and their representatives, have completely abandoned any respect for democracy and rule of law, choosing instead the cult of personality around a flagrant criminal. It ignores that Democrats value the truth and Republicans are awash in lies. It equates the two sides in a way that is not justified by looking at the bigger picture.

The "both sides" frame, in other words, hides the fact that this situation is very a one-sided problem.

<<snip>>

Kevin McCarthy is implicated in the scandal he doesn't want investigated

https://www.emptywheel.net/2019/10/31/the-republican-closing-argument-against-impeachment-is-personally-implicated-in-the-scandal/
...

But perhaps the most telling aspect of the debate is that the Republican closing argument — yet another recital of that same Hamilton quote — came from Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Kevin McCarthy is implicated in the scandal he doesn’t want investigated.

McCarthy received money both personally and in the guise of his Protect the House PAC from Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, the grifters at the core of the influence operation that led to Trump’s quid pro quo conversation with Volodymyr Zelensky. He also keynoted an event with the grifters. While he has said he’d donate the money to charity (though has not yet, as far as I know, shown that he did that), there is no way to unring the bell of their support. He became Majority Leader with the support of men who have since been indicted for that support.

That is the face that is leading opposition to impeachment.

...

Suddenly Ken Starr doesn't like impeachment so much

Suddenly Ken Starr doesn’t like impeachment so much
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/10/29/suddenly-ken-starr-doesnt-like-impeachment-so-much/#comments-wrapper

Is there anything Republicans won’t say to make impeachment go away?

They attack the patriotism of decorated veterans. They decry rules that they devised. And they discard long-held principles as though the past never happened.

Comes now Ken Starr, responsible more than any other person on Earth for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, to tell us what a dreadful thing impeachment is.

“It just seems we need to ratchet the conversation down because of the evils of impeachment,” the former independent counsel said during an interview with conservative writer Byron York released on Monday. “Impeachment has become a terrible, terrible thorn in the side of the American democracy and the conduct of American government since Watergate. . . . Let’s at least have a reasoned and deliberate conversation about some lesser kind of response.”

Starr thinks Congress should consider censuring President Trump, and he says Republicans in 1998 should have considered “whether something short of impeachment would be appropriate.”

Now he tells us? He didn’t mention “censure” once in his referral to Congress in 1998 laying out “substantial and credible information that President Clinton committed acts that may constitute grounds for an impeachment,” nor in his November 1998 testimony. Then, Starr argued passionately that Clinton’s actions fit the “high-crime-and-misdemeanor” standard.

Starr wasn’t finished. During this week’s interview, he also absolved Trump of guilt, both for obstruction of justice in the Mueller inquiry and for wrongdoing in the Ukraine quid pro quo, saying Trump’s “intent” was pure. Starr protested that Trump “is being held to a remarkable standard” in which we are “over-criminalizing the conduct of the business of government.”

Seriously? From the man who pushed to impeach a president for lying about oral sex in a civil deposition? Back then, Starr rejected the argument that Clinton’s “intent” in lying was to avoid embarrassment, not to perjure himself.

Starr, still going, suggested this week that impeachment is a plot by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to seize the presidency. A “conflict of interest is that the speaker of the House is guiding this process when she is third in succession,” he argued. “She will do well if she can have the elimination of Donald Trump from office and then Vice President Pence somehow.”
Somehow?

The brazenness of Starr’s historical revision was largely lost amid a profusion of equally outrageous attempts to excuse Trump.

<<snip>>

Bill Barr's alternate universe "investigation" has a goal: Right-wing authoritarian rule

Bill Barr's alternate universe "investigation" has a goal: Right-wing authoritarian rule
Barr's "criminal investigation" of the Russia probe is the fruit of a long-running far-right plan to kill democracy
https://www.salon.com/2019/10/25/bill-barrs-alternate-universe-investigation-has-a-goal-right-wing-authoritarian-rule/

Students of the modern conservative movement often date the recent supercharged radicalization of the Republican Party to the rise of Newt Gingrich and the Republican Revolution in the early 1990s. It's true that the GOP went seriously off the rails during that period and the craziness has been picking up speed ever since. But in reality, the conservative movement has been radical from its beginnings, starting with the anti-communist crusade after World War II all the way through Goldwater to Reagan, Gingrich and now Trump. Now it has finally shed all trappings of a sophisticated political ideology, culminating in this surreal parody of a presidency in 2019. The conservative "three legged stool" of small government, traditional values and global military leadership has completely disintegrated.

But one aspect of that earlier conservative movement has continued to chug along with its long-term project to transform the U.S. into an undemocratic, quasi-authoritarian plutocracy. That would be the group of far-right lawyers who started the Federalist Society, with the goal of packing the judiciary with true believers, along with a certain group of Reagan-era legal wunderkinds who came to believe that the GOP could dominate the presidency for decades to come. They developed the theory of the "unitary executive," originally advanced by Reagan's odious attorney general Ed Meese ( recently awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom) which holds that massive, unaccountable power is vested in the president of the United States.

Attorney General William Barr was one of those lawyers, along with White House counsel Pat Cipollone, former appeals court judge Michael Luttig and others who encouraged Barr to take the job, particularly after his famous memo declaring that what any normal person would see as obstruction of justice doesn't apply to the president. (In a nutshell, Barr agrees with former President Richard Nixon, who said, "If the president does it, it's not illegal." )

Barr is described as supremely confident in his beliefs, which is to say that his overweening arrogance is not an act put on someone who is overcompensating to hide insecurity. He believes in this theory and when it became obvious that former Attorney General Jeff Sessions was not long for the job, Barr and his legal cabal appear to have seen the clueless and corrupt Donald Trump as a perfect instrument to test their theory, and perhaps set legal precedents that would enable future right-wing presidents to use the full power of the presidency to dominate American politics without regard to democratic norms or congressional checks and balances. Indeed, they had been setting the stage for such a man for decades.

It's also obviously the case that Barr, and perhaps his Reaganite cronies as well, are suffering from the malady known as Fox News Brain Rot, the symptoms of which are an extreme susceptibility to absurd right-wing conspiracy theories and an inability to believe anything that contradicts them. (Barr once said that there was more evidence for the bogus Uranium One charges than the Russian interference in the 2016 election, which confirms the diagnosis.)

<<snip>>
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