Saturday, December 14, 2019

After Mongolian president meets with Trump's firstborn, Big Game Hunter Junior goes out and shoots an endangered sheep. Yes, a SHEEP!

Donald Trump, Jr., son of US President Donald Trump, gives a thumbs-up as he walks outside of Trump Tower in New York, September 24, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
It's easy to "negotiate" when you are corrupt and your standards are zilch.

In August, Donald Trump Jr. went to Mongolia to hunt. While there, Junior reportedly killed an argalis mountain sheep. The wild sheep are found throughout central Asia and are considered endangered, as their numbers have been significantly decreasing over the past couple of decades. Because they are protected by the Mongolian Laws on Fauna and Hunting, few permits for hunting them are given out, and they cost a lot of money. ProPublica reports that Trump Jr. has the extra dubious distinction of receiving his permit retroactively.

“It’s unusual for permits to be issued after a hunter’s stay. It was one of only three permits to be issued in that hunting region, local records show.”

The trip, which the Mongolian government and the U.S. government had to provide security for, will have cost tax payers quite a bit of money. ProPublica explains that the process of getting a permit like the one Trump Jr. belatedly received is already dubious and “political,” But the fact that Trump Jr. is … Donald Trump the president’s son makes it a special kind of terrible. They also report that after Junior’s trip into the mountains to kill endangered wild sheep, he met “privately” with Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga. 

None of this is surprising, as the unseemly workings of the wealthy in our world are never particularly surprising these days. But these processes are doubly dubious when one considers the implications of silver-spooned, entitled kids using the planet as their trophy-hunting playground. Especially when those useless children are default ambassadors of our country, because their corrupt parent is president of the United States.

Trump Jr.’s response to the ProPublica article is that he planned the trip before his father announced that he was running for president and that the trip had been purchased by Junior personally at a National Rifle Association charity auction. Of course, he didn’t take the trip until after his father was president and about a month after his father and the president of Mongolia met to discuss U.S. support. 

According to ProPublica, Junior killed the animal at night, and they took images the next day—though Junior didn’t allow anyone to join him in the photos with the downed argalis.
The local guides, who said they were impressed by both Trump Jr.’s hunting abilities and his willingness to handle the animal’s dead body, were prevented from posing in photographs with Trump Jr. and the argali carcass. Trump Jr. posted nearly two dozen photos of his Mongolian vacation on Instagram in separate posts from August, October and November. One showed him in a yurt, another with a live eagle and a third depicted him riding a Mongolian horse. He did not post any photos of the argali.

US President Donald Trump speaks with reporters as he welcomes Mongolian President Khaltmaa Battulga in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on July 31, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)        (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
Trump and Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga in July 2019
Technically, if Junior wanted to bring any of his argalis trophy home with him he would have to “apply for and be granted permission by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.” Of course, there are no records of that and no one knows whether or not Junior did bring anything back with him from his trip to Mongolia. Maybe he brought back a personal thank you and a picture of a person kissing a ring.

Friday, December 13, 2019

73-year-old Trump bullies 16-year-old Thunberg on Twitter. She once again makes a fool of him

MADRID, SPAIN - DECEMBER 11: Swedish environment activist Greta Thunberg gestures as she gives a speech at the plenary session during the COP25 Climate Conference on December 11, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. The COP25 conference brings together world leaders, climate activists, NGOs, indigenous people and others for two weeks in an effort to focus global policy makers on concrete steps for heading off a further rise in global temperatures. (Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)
Sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg was named TIME magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year for her work as an environmental activist and advocate. Thunberg is the youngest person to receive this recognition. Donald Trump, who was a finalist for the position, and who himself was dubbed Person of the Year in 2016, responded to Thunberg’s cover in a manner suggesting that he, not Greta, is the teenager in this equation. After TIME’s cover was revealed, Trump took to Twitter to mock Thunberg and suggest that she seek anger management and watch a movie with a friend.

This isn’t the first time Trump has bullied Thunberg on Twitter. In September, Thunberg gave a speech urging adults to act on climate change. "I shouldn't be up here," the teenager said in her U.N. climate action speech. "I should be back at school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”

Moving, for sure, but not particularly happy. Trump, who has described climate change as a hoax and whose administration continues to attack the environment, made haste on Twitter to diminish her as a “very happy young girl” as her speech went viral.

Trump attacking people, and specifically women, on social media is nothing new. Notable with regard to his attacks on Thunberg, however, is that many Republicans have criticized people for making reference to Trump’s 13-year-old son Barron.

Trump’s own wife, Melania, recently tweeted that, as minors, kids should be “kept out of politics.”

In spite of Melania’s “Be Best” anti-bullying campaign, Trump seems to have no issue attacking teenagers—or anyone.

How has Thunberg reacted to Trump’s latest outburst? With a lot of hilarity and patience, as usual. Instead of replying to Trump directly, she updated her Twitter bio.

Greta Thunberg is handling being bullied by the President of the United States much better than I would be. I’m genuinely proud of her.

She made a similar move when Trump described her as a “happy young girl,” updating her bio to mimic his phrasing: “A very young happy girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future.” She has also said that she is uninterested in meeting with Trump to discuss climate change, astutely noting that it would be a “waste of time.”

Teenagers shouldn't have to handle being bullied by the sitting U.S. president with this much grace and maturity, but Thunberg continues to lead by example.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Trump criticizes own security staff for not roughing up a woman protesting his Pennsylvania rally

HERSHEY, PA - DECEMBER 10:  U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally on December 10, 2019 in Hershey, Pennsylvania. This rally marks the third time President Trump has held a campaign rally at Giant Center.  The attendance of both President and Vice President signifies the importance Pennsylvania holds as a key battleground state.  (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
Trump rally, December 10, 2019, Hershey PA.
As the impeachment of Donald Trump looms, with its focus, understandably, on Trump’s potential crimes and abuses of his power, it’s important for Americans not to lose sight of the actual, monstrous human being at the heart of this whole inquiry. At a campaign rally in Pennsylvania Tuesday night, Trump demonstrated perfectly not only what he is, but where he would take this country if given a chance. This should scare the hell out of you, and frankly, if it doesn’t, you should seriously rethink whether you belong in this country at all.

As Ed Mazza reported for Huffington Post, “a woman in a #MeToo hat wearing a T-shirt with a middle finger on it” made her way near the stage and “waved around a sign with a middle finger and the phrase ‘GRABBING POWER BACK.’”

This solitary protester, walking back and forth with a tiny sign, was surrounded by thousands of ardent, braying, shouting Trump supporters. But that was more than enough defiance that Donald Trump was prepared to tolerate; he demanded that security remove the woman.
“Get her out,” he demanded, gesturing the “out” signal with his thumb.
Footage showed a guard holding his arms above the woman and trying to guide her to the exit of the pen, but not touching her as she waved her sign and gave the finger to Trump:
These moments have become fixtures at Trump rallies, as his hate-engorged crowds salivate hungrily for someone to target with their relentless, thoughtless anger, all carefully ginned up by a master demagogue, who stands preening happily before his bubbling cauldron. The protesters are always escorted out under guard, while enduring a constant stream of epithets from he audience, and often a sarcastic, barbed line or two from Trump himself.

But on Tuesday night in Pennsylvania, even this wasn’t enough for Trump. “Get her out, get her out,” Trump insisted. “See, these guys want to be so politically correct. Get her out. You see that?”

Even after the protester was removed, Trump was still out for blood, so he went after the security guard. “I’ll tell you, law enforcement’s so great. That particular guy wanted to be so politically correct.” Trump waved his arms and punctuated his barbs with what Mazza describes as “moaning.”

The packed stadium crowd roared its approval as Trump mocked the security guard’s cautious treatment of the protester. “We don’t want to be politically correct,” he said. “I don’t know who he was. He didn’t do the greatest job.”

According to Trump the security guard was lacking … because he refrained from physical violence in removing a protester.

A president who cannot tolerate dissent has no place leading this country—but an elected official who encourages the suppression of political dissent through violence or gestapo-like thuggery has no place in our government at all.  This is not “funny.” This is not a ”a joke,” and this is not "entertainment." This behavior attacks the core of who we are supposed to be as Americans.

This is un-American behavior, writ large—in bold, capital letters, and everyone in that rally who cheered this display on is guilty.

If this kind of behavior by a president can go unremarked—or worse, accepted as normal—by the public, by the media, or by an entire political party—then we, as a nation, have arrived at a very dangerous place.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

They're Not Stupid, and They're Not Spineless. They're Evil. Let's Keep That Straight.

Moscow Mitch: the gravedigger of American democracy, center.  Republican henchmen, behind.
In reading comments left on various social media forums, one often sees Republican politicians described as “stupid”, “clownish”, “ignorant”, “spineless”, “cowards”, “gutless” and the like. We see them ridiculed for believing in conspiracy theories and for believing Trump’s breathtaking lies.

To this I say: get real.

Yes, a great many Republican officials do deserve the descriptions above. Louie Gohmert in particular is one of the most wretchedly idiotic adults of whom I have ever heard. But let’s cut through all of the idiocy and nonsense he and other Republicans spout.

They KNOW they’re lying. They know Trump is lying.

They do NOT believe the idiotic conspiracy nonsense they babble about.

They are FULLY AWARE of what they are doing.

They simply don’t care. Whatever it takes for them to win, they will do. They will gleefully feed the hatreds, fears, and irrational beliefs of the Republican base.

They will feed the base non-stop bullshit 24/7, if that’s what it takes to get these people to vote against their own interests, even against their own children’s futures.

They are enthusiastically FOR Trump and the horrible Republican programs that are so destructive and harmful to the American people. They may not like Trump as a person, and may in fact despise him. But they love Trump’s racism, his hatred of “uppity” women, the way Trump shovels money into the pockets of the rich, the wildly unqualified right-wing nutjobs Trump is putting on the Federal bench, and the way Trump grinds the faces of the poor and sick into the ground. They get off on it, as a matter of fact.

They are not stupid. They are not “spineless” in bending to Trump’s will. They share that will.

These people want unlimited, unfettered, unrestrained, unaccountable power. They want this power to enrich themselves, enrich their friends, maintain their social status, and forcibly impose their so-called “values” on everyone else. These people do not—DO NOT—believe in the principles on which a democratic republic rests. In fact, they emphatically reject them as “mob rule”. Being “conservatives” (a word the meaning of which has been utterly distorted), they advocate the same things American conservatism has always advocated: rule by a small group of wealthy white men. Because there’s a phrase in the Declaration of Independence they hate with the heat of a thousand suns: 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. 

American conservatism has waged unrelenting, bloody, savage war on this idea for 243 years (even though the idea’s author, Thomas Jefferson, didn’t really believe it himself). Resisting the inclusion of entire categories of Americans from the protection of the law is the zen essence of conservatism. And in Donald Trump they see a chance to win the final victory in this war.

They will use ANY tactic. They will threaten us with “Second Amendment solutions”. They will encourage hatred and egg on violence. They will keep the guns flowing to obtain NRA money and reward gun manufacturers for contributions, consequences be damned. They will lie.

And lie.

And lie.

And lie more.

They have helped build and eagerly exploit a right-wing propaganda machine of frightening pervasiveness and influence. They have dragged the level of public discourse in America down into the gutter. They have normalized a level of corruption that I scarcely thought possible. They now side with one of this nation’s mortal enemies as a way of maintaining their own power.

Treason? They’re cool with it.

So do me a favor. Look at someone like Moscow Mitch McConnell or an outright criminal like William Barr and tell me they’re not smart or that they’re weak. They’re neither.

They’re evil. And so are the rest of these bastards.

This is what we’re up against. The evil, corrupt, anti-American Republican Party.


GOTV. GOTV. Get out the g-d damned vote.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Colbert Goes Off on Trump for Lying About FBI Inspector General Report

Stephen Colbert. (photo: Scott Kowalchyk/CBS)
Stephen Colbert. (photo: Scott Kowalchyk/CBS)
By Matt Wilstein, The Daily Beast
10 December 19
The “Late Show” host suggested this story was harder to joke about than usual, calling the president’s distortion of the truth “really dangerous.”

hristmas came early for Stephen Colbert on Monday when the Justice Department’s inspector general released his report on the FBI’s 2016 investigation into the Trump campaign and found no evidence of political bias.

“See for months now, we’ve been talking about Trump and Ukraine, so it’s easy to forget about Trump and Russia,” the Late Show host began. He explained that the president has insisted that the Russia probe started “only because of anti-Trump bias in the FBI,” but now the inspector general has concluded there was “sufficient evidence” to investigate his campaign for possible collusion.

“There it is! End of story! Truth wins!” Colbert declares. “This wasn’t an overthrow of the government. This wasn’t even an attempted overthrow and nobody was ‘in on it.’”

With that, he cut to President Trump telling reporters, after the report’s release, “This was an overthrow of government. This was an attempted overthrow and a lot of people were in on it.”

Colbert proceeded to debunk that notion by explaining that the so-called Deep State couldn’t have been trying to “overthrow” the Trump government because when they started the investigation in July 2016, President Obama was still in office.

“That’s how deep this goes,” he said, mimicking Trump. “They were trying to overthrow the government before I was even it. That way, Barack Obama would no longer be in office to graciously allow a peaceful transition of power.”

The Late Show host urged viewers to “keep in mind that nothing Trump said today when he talked about the report is actually in the report,” adding, “He is, once again, just naming an alternate reality he wants to exist.”

Turning more serious, Colbert suggested that this presidential behavior is harder to joke about than usual and even “really dangerous.” If Trump can make up any reality he wants, the host explained, who’s to say he won’t declare himself the winner of the 2020 election even if he loses?

“Well, two can play at that game, sir,” Colbert said before turning to the camera and asking viewers, “Hey, did you hear what’s in the IG report? It’s much worse than any of us imagined! Trump confessed to colluding with the Russians to influence the 2020 election and stopping the Golden Globes from nominating any women for Best Director.”

Monday, December 9, 2019

HUD Secretary Ben Carson has been illegally withholding aid to Puerto Rico for months

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 12: White House adviser Ivanka Trump (R), daughter of U.S. President Donald Trump, shares a moment with Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson (L) during a signing event of an executive order to establish the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council look on December 12, 2018 at the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC. The creation of the council will oversee the opportunity zones program and it will be chaired by Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Cornucopia of Corruption

The Department of Housing and Urban Development, under Ben Carson, had a legally required deadline back in September to make desperately needed hurricane relief funding available to the suffering American island. The housing agency was supposed to issue funding notices to 18 states and territories affected by hurricanes on Sept. 4. They did so with one exception: Puerto Rico.

President Donald Trump tosses paper towels into a crowd as he hands out supplies at Calvary Chapel, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. Trump is in Puerto Rico to survey hurricane damage. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Paper Rocket Man: Trump throws paper towels to Maria survivors

Donald Trump and Ben Carson are refusing to release the aid in direct opposition to the congressional mandate. HUD officials even told the House Appropriations subcomittee that they just won’t do it. Not only did HUD officials admit that they are willfully defying the law, but they also admitted that they have “no statutory authority” to miss such a deadline.

So why are they doing it? Because laws don’t matter in Trumpland, and Trump hates Puerto Rico. 

Just as Trump does with California, another place he hates, where in the past two years raging wildfires have killed 87 people and burned more than 2.15 million acres. Trump is now threatening to withhold federal aid for firefighters for no other reason than his animosity towards the state and its people. The official reason Trump gives is that they wouldn’t listen to his brilliant idea of  “raking the forests,” which is along the same lines of his idea of nuking hurricanes. It’s a stupid idea from an uneducated man. Yet the real reason is hatred.

HUD officials are parroting Trump’s ignorant claim that Puerto Rico is too corrupt to receive federal aid. Carson even had the unmitigated gall to claim that HUD isn’t releasing the funds because Puerto Rico is incapable of managing the funds.  Yeah, the same guy who spent more than $31,000 of HUD money to buy a dining room table for his office:

The purchase of the custom hardwood table, chairs and hutch came a month after a top agency staff member filed a whistle-blower complaint charging Mr. Carson’s wife, Candy Carson, with pressuring department officials to find money for the expensive redecoration of his offices, even if it meant circumventing the law.

I don’t know what is more outrageous, that a dining room table can cost tens of thousands of dollars or why the f*** anyone needs a “dining table” in their office. Unlike Ben Carson, Trump’s own inspector general report cleared Puerto Rico of corruption charges. He found no evidence of widespread corruption within Puerto Rico’s housing agency. Trump has no legitimate reason to withhold the money, and certainly no legal standing to do so. Yet he’s doing it anyway because screw you. 

Trump’s contempt for Puerto Rico is well known. He has mocked the survivors, made fun of their accents, completely lied about relief efforts, and back in March said he didn’t want “another single dollar going to the island.” Unfortunately, congressional Democrats have taken little action. They could threaten to withhold agency funds, or take Trump to court. Instead, they’ve essentially just pleaded with Trump to do the right thing:

These are Americans down on the island. Over 3.1, 3.2 million people who every day face the same indignation from your inaction, your anger against the island. It’s time to finally be Presidential and do the right thing for my brothers and sisters on the island.
—Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL)
If Democrats haven’t learned by now, they never will: Trump cannot be shamed into doing the right thing.

We are talking about a man who has no trouble taking brown children from their parents and putting them in cages. He holds Puerto Rico beneath contempt, and that indifference won’t change unless and until the island gets real political power. Democrats need to be focused on getting Puerto Rico statehood. Without political power, the island colony will continue to suffer at the whims of a bigoted president.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

'We do not reach this conclusion lightly': 500 law professors say Trump's actions are impeachable

Soon-to-be-impeached Donald Trump with accomplice AG William Barr.

As voters remain split over whether Donald Trump should be impeached for his efforts to interfere in U.S. elections and the subsequent obstruction of the investigation into that interference by his administration, there is little debate left among law professors from coast to coast about the issue. From Stanford to Texas to the University of Buffalo and everywhere in between, more than 500 law professors have signed their names to an open letter explaining why Donald Trump’s actions are absolutely impeachable.

Citing Trump’s abuse of power and saying that they “did not make this decision lightly,” these constitutional experts call impeachment an “essential remedy for conduct that corrupts elections.”

Read the full letter below. 

We, the undersigned legal scholars, have concluded that President Trump engaged in impeachable conduct.
We do not reach this conclusion lightly. The Founders did not make impeachment available for disagreements over policy, even profound ones, nor for extreme distaste for the manner in which the President executes his office. Only “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” warrant impeachment. But there is overwhelming evidence that President Trump betrayed his oath of office by seeking to use presidential power to pressure a foreign government to help him distort an American election, for his personal and political benefit, at the direct expense of national security interests as determined by Congress.
His conduct is precisely the type of threat to our democracy that the Founders feared when they included the remedy of impeachment in the Constitution.
We take no position on whether the President committed a crime. But conduct need not be criminal to be impeachable. The standard here is constitutional; it does not depend on what Congress has chosen to criminalize.  Impeachment is a remedy for grave abuses of the public trust. The two specific bases for impeachment named in the Constitution — treason and bribery — involve such abuses because they include conduct undertaken not in the “faithful execution” of public office that the Constitution requires, but instead for personal gain (bribery) or to benefit a foreign enemy (treason).
Impeachment is an especially essential remedy for conduct that corrupts elections. The primary check on presidents is political: if a president behaves poorly, voters can punish him or his party at the polls. A president who corrupts the system of elections seeks to place himself beyond the reach of this political check. At the Constitutional Convention, George Mason described impeachable offenses as “attempts to subvert the constitution.” Corrupting elections subverts the process by which the Constitution makes the president democratically accountable. Put simply, if a President cheats in his effort at re-election, trusting the democratic process to serve as a check through that election is no remedy at all. That is what impeachment is for.
Moreover, the Founders were keenly concerned with the possibility of corruption in the president’s relationships with foreign governments. That is why they prohibited the president from accepting anything of value from foreign governments without Congress’s consent. The same concern drove their thinking on impeachment. James Madison noted that Congress must be able to remove the president between elections lest there be no remedy if a president betrayed the public trust in dealings with foreign powers.
In light of these considerations, overwhelming evidence made public to date forces us to conclude that President Trump engaged in impeachable conduct. To mention only a few of those facts: William B. Taylor, who leads the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, testified that President Trump directed the withholding of hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid for Ukraine in its struggle against Russia — aid that Congress determined to be in the U.S. national security interest — until Ukraine announced investigations that would aid the President’s re-election campaign. Ambassador Gordon Sondland testified that the President made a White House visit for the Ukrainian president conditional on public announcement of those investigations. In a phone call with the Ukrainian president, President Trump asked for a “favor” in the form of a foreign government investigation of a U.S. citizen who is his political rival. President Trump and his Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney made public statements confirming this use of governmental power to solicit investigations that would aid the President’s personal political interests. The President made clear that his private attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was central to efforts to spur Ukrainian investigations, and Mr. Giuliani confirmed that his efforts were in service of President Trump’s private interests.
Ultimately, whether to impeach the President and remove him from office depends on judgments that the Constitution leaves to Congress. But if the House of Representatives impeached the President for the conduct described here and the Senate voted to remove him, they would be acting well within their constitutional powers. Whether President Trump’s conduct is classified as bribery, as a high crime or misdemeanor, or as both, it is clearly impeachable under our Constitution.