Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Friday, May 17, 2019

Did He Try Listening?

Trump seems to be conflating being warned about Flynn being under investigation with being warned about the Russian threat at all (which he also was warned about, and then claimed he wasn't). But--

Obama warned Trump not to hire Flynn.

Sally Yates warned Trump about Flynn (and got fired).

Trump knew well enough that there was a problem and fired Flynn, but still told Comey to go easy on Flynn (and Comey got fired).

He was warned--he just didn't listen. Or he knew what the situation was, and did not care. Trump is mad at the world on Twitter today because he suddenly cares now.

Seems a bit late, I'm just saying.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Catapulting the Propaganda 2

Some of you readers are like me and can remember where I filched the phrase "catapulting the propaganda" from--that was from the Bush Administration. George W. Bush admitted he had to repeat things over and over again for the "truth" to set in in order to "catapult the propaganda".  That word "truth" is a pretty slippery commodity, but the idea of "catapulting the propaganda" pretty accurately described his Administration's messaging. He let that moment of reality slip while talking about privatizing Social Security, but it more truthfully describes what happened regarding the use of repetition, changing justifications, and outright frauds to create a casus belli for the war in Iraq.

Now, here comes the Trump Administration, no strangers to repeating things that are inaccurate or unclear or perpetrating frauds, talking up the possibility of a threat of war with Iran out loud and in private (looking for their "slam dunk case" perhaps?). Even though our allies indicate that there seems to be no real urgent threat.

All I'm saying is, we have sure as hell been here before, and pretty damn recently, too. I don't think it's a "wag the dog" situation, necessarily, to draw attention away from the eleventy-odd investigations into Trump, his family, his businesses, etc., the unwisdom of his trade policies, or even necessarily because blood appeases his base--although I think that last thing, right there, might be a little relevant.

I see Sen. Cotton thinks an Iran War would short and sweet:

This answer seems asinine for reasons I don't think one even has to have served in the military to figure out--a "first strike" indicates we start a war of choice to send a message. What the actual entire fuck thinking is that? Maybe the message inadvertently sent won't be "Don't start a war with us", but rather, "You might as well retaliate".(This is not an invitation to try and explain his thinking to me--it's not thinking!) After the first and last strike--then what? Because a war is pointless unless you can then win the peace. (Unless you don't actually want peace. I guess that, too, is a possibility.)

We did have a diplomatic deal with Iran for a bit and I know Cotton didn't like it at all, but the funny old thing is, you don't shoot at people or bomb them and expect diplomacy. You can just do diplomacy.

I'd love to think that having been here before, and having watched how Iraq played out (and is still, really, playing out), we could expect the media to not help "catapult the propaganda" but I don't know. Trump (and his allies') propaganda seems to be repeated all the time, even if, paragraphs down or further in the conversation, someone, somehow, factchecks. And the repetition is what matters for propaganda to succeed.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Catapulting the Propaganda

Trump has Tweets again:

He still isn't actually saying that American consumers will be paying the tariffs, and his Tweets make no actual sense, but then, neither do his advisers.

Simply rest assured, sacrifices must be made in a trade war, but Trump still believes they "easy to win".

UPDATE:  Holy shit, he actually "believes" his bullshit.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

He Can't Help It

Huh. If you could sit down and think of all the ways you'd probably make McGahn's eventual testimony more likely, you probably still would not do more than Trump did in one Tweet. On a technicality of course, Trump "was NOT" going to fire Mueller--he was going to have someone else do it! I would also question the claim of "unprecedented cooperation". But the point stands that Trump has plainly indicated here that Mueller was safe--

Only who would actually know that, or be able to disprove that? Someone who sat 30 hours with Mueller's team! And with the added dig "Never a big fan!" Is that intended to influence potential testimony? not the poster child for impulse control.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

TWGB: It's Getting Real, Now

So, adding to the subpoena issued to Don Jr. (which he could very well try to bail on, thanks to the weird blow-off advice of Uncle Lindsey and his own really dumb failure to still know what trouble looks like), we've now got subpoenas for Trump, Sr.'s tax returns.

And maybe these subpoenas will go nowhere at first--after all, former White House Counsel Don McGahn was subpoenaed to provide documents and testimony, and seems to be hanging in with White House instruction to just say "No" to that (even though, as a former White House employee and a grown man, he doesn't have to let them tell him to do anything.) Maybe that will change though, as it comes out that just after the Mueller report dropped, the White House tried to induce McGahn to go on record saying he effectively wasn't told to obstruct justice, in a way that looks sort of further obstruction of justice-y. And while McGahn isn't going to say it totally did happen out loud where the people can hear, he also doesn't want to say it didn't.

I feel like there are good reasons for that. But the truth might actually be more compelling in the long run because it looks like McGahn actually was told by Trump to do a crime, and didn't, which I guess really counts for something? (This nudge to say Trump is cleared on at least one count of obstruction reminds me ever so much of his pressure on Comey to say that he wasn't under investigation--it is hard to separate whether he has consciousness of guilt or just consciousness of looking bad. Heh--narcissism!)

But maybe there's reason to think the IRS/Treasury tax requests are going to also resolve themselves sooner than later--and one thing to note from my happy little New York appreciation post--once the information from the NY returns are out and about, the justification for holding back the federal returns weakens. The toothpaste doesn't get back in the tube.

Also. House Democrats are exploring a legal basis to add juice to their subpoena power by investigating the seldom utilized power of inherent contempt to make their legal requests more compelling. (And honestly, Jr. should just honor the Senate subpoena after contacting a good lawyer or so because eventually....I think he's just going to have to say something, and doing it as CYA as possible is his best bet.)

In my last post, I noted that public opinion is a factor in impeachment, and one of the things I think should be considered is that so many former US prosecutors have found themselves willing to sign their name to support the evidence for obstruction of justice in Trump's case. These are professionals who are legitimately saying they think, knowing what they know that they could try that one. That is really saying a lot.

Now, the White House and Barr's DOJ are still stalling on releasing the full Mueller report, and we hear that Mueller won't be reporting in person on May 15 after all. This seems to have something to do with the White House preferring he doesn't , which is really amazing for folks who want to pretend the Mueller report exonerated Trump when, oh, for goodness sakes, no. Also, Mueller too, is a grown person whose investigation was ended and doesn't need to keep hanging around DOJ, and if he wasn't at Trump's or Barr's say so, would be able to agree on his own volition without strings I am pretty sure?

I don't know. I'm not at that level. But from where I'm looking, Senator McConnell's claim that what we know of the Mueller report thus far means "Case closed" is like pretending the Super Bowl is over at the half based on who's up in the scoring.

That isn't how this works, at all. That isn't going to be how this works, regardless of what he wants to say.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Build it and They Will Come

One of the things that had me seething during the 2017 Presidential Inauguration was my unshakeable sense that a man was about to take an oath of office that he could not personally, in any sense, be true to. It did not strike me as even plausible that Trump was a person who could respect the Constitution over his own interests, anymore than he could separate his ego from the office he was about to hold. Within a span of less than 24 hours from taking that oath, he spoke before the CIA and rambled about the size of his inaugural crowd and his war with the media, right in front of a memorial for fallen intelligence officers. The note that struck has been the tone of his entire administration--at war with intelligence, with the media, with the judicial system, with Congress. President Trump, and multiple members of his party, have demonstrated a wholly partisan approach to their conduct, not the least with respect to the Russian interference investigation.

Barr has failed here on this very thing. But only because he's determined to back Trump. (His choice here is amazingly bad.)

This is why I think Speaker Nancy Pelosi makes a very reasonable point in saying that Trump is "self-impeachable". What she is saying is that, as what some are starting to call a "constitutional crisis" grows larger, the violations of norms and the nature of Trump's obstruction will only become more apparent. It can be argued, for example, that the installation of Bill Barr as AG and Barr's very clear legalistic leger de main has been the kind of overreach that a conservative legal thinker in good standing can easily see through.

We are in a very strange place when it should appear remarkable that a GOP Senator subpoenas a person who has dodged further inquiry, specifically because that person was the President's son. It's sheer batshit when another GOP Senator suggests it's just fine and dandy for that individual to dodge a subpoena.

What harm does talking to the Senate do, if what Trump, Jr. has to say would not be problematic? Oh, but wait--it probably would be! When your choices look like: don't show up, plead the fifth, or staying lying, you probably are in a bit of trouble. And while that sucks, for Don Jr., it doesn't give him any especial right to call this a stunt, or Senator Burr a coward.

See, those are not things you do when you can just walk in and deliver your truth. Those are things you do when you are not legit. As with Trump Sr.'s refusal to release his taxes, or respond to further subpoenas for docs, this kind of refusal looks bad in a way that sort of suggests the whole situation is bad. (What do I keep saying?) The fuckery about this is pretty upfront, and Republican politicians are drawing lines between supporting Burr's request or supporting Trump Jr.'s vastly telling silence. What I think we have here is an odd loyalty question--loyalty to Trump? Or that old oath of office Pelosi was talking about?

Former FBI Director Jim Comey in a recent op-ed described how a politician like Trump could co-opt the soul of someone working for him by slowly dragging them down, compromise by little compromise. He's really on to something, there. Josh Marshall in 2016 described the phenomena as "dignity-wraithing", where once respectable people suddenly lost whatever they were respected for because Trump eats that. I view it as a kind of ethical "sunk cost fallacy" (rather like the kind the banks who lent to him found themselves in upon discovering he was extraordinarily unreliable, except with morality instead of money). There will be people scrambling to cover Trump's ass as more of his awfulness comes out, only to discover they have less and less credibility themselves to cover it with.

This is why I am not in such an all-fired hurry to see Pelosi go straight to impeachment--her apparent delay looks to me to be strategic to get Trump and 'em to hang themselves just a bit more with whatever rope she hands them. Sure, I want to see Trump impeached, but there's a timetable to consider--when do we want the hearings, how long should they be, and how would they intersect with an entire election bid that's already underway? Put Trump's ass on trial right now, and the Trumpsters can lie and call themselves exonerated and we can all fully expect the Senate to agree (at least McConnell will, that bloated reprobate). Pelosi is leaving impeachment open, but I am certainly not inclined to rush it and fuck it up.

But I still insist the case needs to be made every day. The one thing I can say for the House trying impeachment even if the Senate would not boot Trump so long as it is GOP-held, is that it is a massive negative ad for Trump and his dignity wraith Senate minions. Build that case, and people will come to appreciate it. Right now, support for impeaching Trump is on the rise. But on the other hand, his approval rating is sort of high, for him? So I think a course of slow, steady, and always be chiseling away at how shitty, brutal and not the most legal Trump (and friends ) is everyday. The crescendo builds through 2020.

Build the case for Trump being out of office, and people will come. But I respect that it will take time to hang out as many people as truly need to get good and publicly diminished.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

A NY State of Mind

In a power move or so today, the state of New York did two key things that I am really excited by--the state senate approved a bill to vacate double jeopardy where a person was convicted of federal crimes only to be pardoned by the president, and also resolved to release NY state tax information to the US congress upon request. This comes a couple of days after AG Letitia James filed a lawsuit against the IRS and the Department of Treasury for not complying with legally mandated records requests

This all serves as a great reminder that even if GOP Senators, House Members, and Cabinet members want to toady up to the White House, states can still signify, and of the many investigations currently ongoing into President Trump and all his dealings, there are currently NY state cases regarding his taxes and how he used his "charitable" foundation as a slush fund. He doesn't have any leverage regarding the state, whatever he may have over the US DOJ.

I love New York for other reasons--it's a beautiful state! But today reminded me of the importance of state governments and why federalism remains an important part of our republic. 

Interesting Strategy

Trump's response to the NYT story that broke yesterday about his incredible mega-losses in business during the late 1980's and early 1990's seems to be that he fooled around with his taxes, a possible fraud (which we already kind of knew, right?!).

This really just adds to the argument that it's necessary to see Trump's present-day returns. Nice strategy!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The Curb Problem

I've seen the video of PA State Rep. Brian Sims confronting anti-abortion protesters outside of a Philadelphia Planned Parenthood, and I am honestly a little conflicted. I'm extremely on his side regarding the good work that PP does for community health, especially for reproductive health, that sometimes social shibboleth. I also view anti-abortion protesters as basically busybodies who want to tell other people what they can do with themselves, without ever having to weigh and consider the life stories of the people who have bodies with histories, with health issues, with any human, entirely personal matter that is not up for some curbside "counseling". 

I get it. What they do is intrusive and constitutes personal harassment of people living their own lives according to their constitutional rights.  If they gave such a shit, camp out at a legislative office or work harder on educating people about not getting pregnant in the first place if you want to stop abortion, but getting in the face of regular folks with their own problems has always been bullying (and sometimes the harassment of clinic personnel goes even further--so there's definitely that). Sims, a lawyer and LGBT rights activist who has also worked as a PP escort, has all the experience he needs of these judgmental, "doing more harm than good" people, praying at (not for, oh, make no mistake) patients as if to try to shame them out of claiming their bodies' needs.

I think of this really excellent video of a man who was being curb-shamed by these so-called "counselor" activists, when it was not at all the right time for them to insert themselves (and yes, I know it never really is).  They didn't understand the trauma a young family that wanted children could be going through, and were callous and defensive. These protestors are full of self-importance and relative ignorance about why people are even visiting a clinic, and I don't disagree with the idea that they are the ones who should find something better to do. Adopt a kid, if you think unwanted babies need love. Fund people with at-risk pregnancies and support universal health care. Support well-family programs for nutrition and day-care. But just don't holler in people's faces. 

But I also feel like there's a rule about what public servants should be doing vs civilians. Is a persona with a public platform as an elected official in the right place using his social media to shame a protester? Or to use that platform to crowd source doxing? I'm not as cool with that, and not just because it gives license to right-wing pols to dox leftist protesters. It's just, you have access to better tools--use those! Bring that energy--without personally getting up in the activists' spaces because that deal is unequal. 

I also think he got unnecessarily personal in addressing the old white lady as an old white lady. I know, I'm starting to radiate some serious "Talk to your manager" energy myself, but while I don't see "white" as a slur, please don't get all up in someone's case about whether they are old. Yes, some of the protesters are post-menopausal and don't need to consider their own likelihood of coming down with a case of baby on board. But also, some people just have old faces and can get caught out in their fifties.