Trump's Turnberry scandal keeps getting worse with lengthy visits and government-purchased souvenirs
First came the word that an Air Force crew had apparently gone out of their way to refuel at a higher cost, and spend more on a room so they could stay at Trump’s Turnberry golf resort 40 miles outside of Glasgow, Scotland. Then, after a few days of investigation, the Air Force admitted that there had been at least four visits in the last year. And then it wasn’t four. It was 40.
Well, another day, another expansion of Trump’s Scottish scandal. Because as it turns out some of those air crews didn’t just drop in for an overnight visit and a free round of golf before they climbed back into their jets and headed for the skies. As Politico reports, Air Force officers and crew have been dropping in at Turnberry for extended stays, five days or more, which has earned them a “Pride Pin” as Turnberry VIPs. And these have been government-funded trips, not personal stays.
On at least one occasion, a crew sat out a repair session lasting multiple days, while staying at Turnberry and “hitting the links” each day. Not only did the military pay for some R&R at the Trump facility, it also picked up the tab on souvenirs.
Conveniently for Trump, the Air Force hasn’t been dropping in during the busy season, but helping to fill up rooms in the “winter low season” when they’ve been coming to stay in the “spacious” sea-side cottages that stand apart from the main hotel.
An investigation into the extent of the Air Force’s use of the Glasgow Prestwick Airport and the Turnberry resort is underway by the House Oversight Committee. Trump has made multiple claims about the military being underfunded and even “out of ammunition.” He has also appropriated hundreds of millions from the military budget to use in building his border fence.
The House Oversight committee is looking into whether she was plugging her family's shipping company while cutting grants meant to help the U.S. maritime industry. Oh noes, Secretary Elaine "Mrs. Mitch" Chao would never do such a thing! She and her husband are just chock full o' integrity! Via the New York Times:
WASHINGTON — The House Oversight and Reform Committee asked Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on Monday to turn over documents related to communication with her family’s shipping company as the panel stepped up an investigation into whether any actions taken by Ms. Chao amount to a conflict of interest.
The request by the committee in the Democrat-controlled House relates to actions Ms. Chao has taken that potentially benefited Foremost Group, a New York-based shipping company owned by her family. Foremost has received hundreds of millions of dollars in loan commitments from a bank run by the Chinese government to help build ships that Foremost has purchased from government-owned shipyards there.
The actions by Ms. Chao — including joint public appearances since she became transportation secretary in 2017 with her father, James Chao, who founded the company, and a planned trip to China to meet with government officials there along with her father — have led House investigators to question if she is using her office to try to benefit her family’s financial interests.
Whenever I hear another story like this, I think of a conversation I had with an FBI agent a long time ago. He referred to a former NFL athlete he interviewed as "a nice guy, but a sociopath" and I said he couldn't be serious. He said no, you're talking about people who have been singled out as special at the age of 13 or so, and from that point on, all the people around him are invested in protecting him from anything keeps him from going all the way.
"So these are guys who have never known consequences," he said. "You're surprised that some of them are sociopaths, when you should be surprised that more of them aren't."
On CNN's New Day:
"A source tells us that the woman accusing Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown of sexual assault and rape, Britney Taylor, met with the NFL for ten hours until late last night, ten hours. This comes as a new claim of sexual misconduct has surfaced from an unnamed woman in a Sports Illustrated report. Now Brown denies both sets of allegations," John Berman said.
He asked CNN sports analyst Christine Brennan what message it sends that Brown is still an active player for the Patriots.
"It's not a good one, if in fact that she -- if Britney Taylor said what we believe she said for ten hours, that's a long time, then it becomes a he said/she said, which is what we thought all along," Brennan said.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has made her first endorsement for a 2020 House primary, and it’s for Marie Newman, the challenger to conservative Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski. Lipinski is a prime target for a progressive challenge, as an anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ politician who voted against the Affordable Care Act and refused to endorse Barack Obama for re-election in 2012 while representing a very blue Illinois district. Newman fell short of knocking Lipinski off in 2018, but she’s not giving up.
“Marie Newman is a textbook example of one of the ways that we could be better as a party—to come from a deep blue seat and to be championing all the issues we need to be championing,” Ocasio-Cortez told The New York Times. She said of Lipinski, “The fact that a deep blue seat is advocating for many parts of the Republican agenda is extremely problematic. We’re not talking about a swing state that is being forced to take tough votes.”
Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have endorsed Newman, who also has endorsements from EMILY’s List, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, NARAL Pro-Choice America, MoveOn, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, and Democracy for America.
Stephen Colbert can't quite believe we're talking about Brett Kavanaugh and his traveling penis again.
"But there's a new book by two New York Times reporters that has a new allegation of sexual assault by Brett Kavanaugh and more corroboration of the story told by one of Brett's former Yale classmates, Deborah Ramirez.
"If you'll remember, she says that, while at a party, Kavanaugh thrust his penis in her face and she had to bat it away.
He quoted Ramirez as saying, "At Yale, they invite you to the game, but they never show you the rules or where the equipment is."
"Oh, unfortunately, he showed you where the equipment is," Colbert said.
He ridiculed Trump's response.
"And the president wants Kavanaugh to fight back, tweeting, "Brett Kavanaugh should start suing people for libel, or the Justice Department should come to his rescue."
"How does is the Justice Department supposed to come to his rescue?" Colbert said. "Is William Barr supposed to write a misleading four-page summary of his junk?"
He also mocked Trump's tweets that accused Democrats of going after poor Brett to "turn him liberal."
"Look, liberals don't need Brett Kavanaugh. Between Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey, we're all good on bad penises."
When intelligence sources indicate that last week’s attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities “originated” in Iran, there’s a good reason to believe they’re correct—from a certain point of view. The Houthi militia in Yemen, which has claimed responsibility for the attack, has previously used both missiles and drones that were manufactured at least in part in Iran. As Ars Technica reported in 2017, that includes the Qasef-1, a “lingering munition” drone about a quarter the size of a small plane, which is capable of carrying a single small bomb or incendiary device on a one-way mission. The attack on Saudi refineries may have used drones that were manufactured in Iran, or the Houthi may have simply cloned the Iranian device, just as Iran cloned Russian Scud missiles. Even Iranian Qasef-1 drones are built from a hodgepodge of international parts, including Chinese engines, and very similar drones are made in at least six other nations.
What’s much less certain is that the attack “originated” from Iran in the way most people would interpret that term—as in, was launched from Iran. In fact, this seems extremely unlikely. Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen is over 500 miles from the sites that were damaged—well outside the range of most small drones. Potential launch sites in Iran are less than 200 miles away, making them at first seem like a much more possible source of the weapons. But that’s not the whole story.
There’s the little fact that drones coming from Iran would have had to sail 200 miles across the Persian Gulf, right over the heads—and through the radars—of the U.S. Navy. And drones, even smallish drones like the ones apparently employed in the attacks, are far from invisible to radar. In fact, they’re visible to even relatively poor radar. Witness the shoot-down of a U.S. spy drone in June. Both the radar system and the weapons used in bringing down the American Global Hawk were an order of magnitude less sophisticated than the systems that are onboard the Navy ships spread out across the Persian Gulf.
Not only is the nuclear aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln apparently hovering near the southern entrance to the Gulf, with its 70-some aircraft ranging far up Iran’s coast, but it is far from alone. It’s accompanied by dozens of other ships as part of a strike group, including at least one cruiser and a pair of destroyers especially designed to ward off attacks from missiles and drones.
If Iran successfully flew 10 low-cost drones across the Persian Gulf to strike targets in Saudi Arabia, there’s a reason to be concerned that’s much larger than a momentary bump in the cost of oil. Because the implication of that action would be that the systems meant to safeguard American fleets around the world have a massive security hole.
White House blocks two former aides' House testimony, but Lewandowski plans self-promoting fireworks
The Trump White House really, really doesn’t want any of its former staffers telling what they know about whether and how Donald Trump obstructed justice. The House Judiciary Committee had subpoenaed two more former Trump aides for a hearing Tuesday, but yet again the White House has asserted immunity to block them from testifying.
Former Trump campaign adviser and ex-White House deputy chief of staff Rick Dearborn and former White House staff secretary Rob Porter have joined just about every other former Trump staffer the committee has subpoenaed, with current White House counsel Pat Cipollone writing, “The Department of Justice has advised me that Mr. Dearborn and Mr. Porter are absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony with respect to matters related to their service as senior advisers to the President.” That is, of course, the William Barr Department of Justice, specializing in Whatever Trump Wants.
This will join the slew of legal cases over the Trump administration’s frantic efforts to keep anyone from knowing what laws he obstructed when and how. (There’s really not much “if” about it.)
Tuesday’s hearing will have one headliner, though. Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski plans to testify to try to raise his national profile and bolster his own political ambitions by waging a furious defense of Trump.
A “longtime Fox News producer” has told DCReport that not only is Donald Trump unpopular at the network, but that “people are getting bolder about saying so.” However, I would argue that represents a growing chasm there more than an official change of purpose or direction, at least at this point.
The intriguing quote appeared in a recent DCReport article:
“I can’t tell you how unpopular Trump is here,” a longtime Fox News producer told DCReport, “and people are getting bolder about saying so.”
It does seem that some people at Fox are becoming more outspoken in their criticism. When host Shepard Smith recently lambasted Trump for his lies about Hurricane Dorian and Alabama, Smith tied that into a larger pattern of Trump deception: “He decries fake news that isn’t and disseminates fake news that is,” Smith said, then cited several other examples. A less-emboldened Smith could have simply fact checked Trump on Dorian and Alabama.
Donald Trump loves to brag about how Black people love him. This is a lie. It is a provable lie. And yet, he continues to say it. Way back during election 2016, Trump even called Gregory Cheadle "my African-American". And at that time, Cheadle was a proud Republican who supported Trump.
Now? That has changed. In fact he has decided to leave the GOP for good and plans to run for Congress as an independent in California’s 1st Congressional District. Quite the 180.
Here is a bit of the interview with Cheadle and Craig Melvin:CHEADLE: I wrote the President early on in his administration saying in effect "if you treat blacks well, you have my support." As we all know, as time went on, his relationship with the Black community just dissipated and here we are today. It's a mess.
MELVIN: Well, what led to the dissipation, as you put it, of that relationship between the President and the African-American community?
CHEADLE: Well, you know, when you look at the Colin Kaepernick debacle, taking a knee and the President's response to that was just abhorrent. It was just beyond words as far as the anger that I felt and the disappointment that I felt that he would take such a low shot at this whole event and just become so callous and indifferent to the plight of Black people.
MELVIN: What about Charlottesville?
An explosion, said to be of a gas cylinder, caused a fire at the Vektor research institute in Novosibirsk. The explosion took place on the fifth floor of a six-floor building, where a laboratory was being refurbished. This is a plausible explanation.
How worried should you be? If you live outside Novosibirsk, not very.
There are reports that all the glass in the building was broken, but I am beginning to doubt those reports, because I don’t see them in all the news articles. BBC has one of the more complete reports.
Vektor houses a collection of nasty viruses, including one of the two official samples of smallpox virus. I say “official” because every now and then overlooked samples show up. It’s also possible that as the Arctic warms up, the bodies of people who died from smallpox will become more accessible. But otherwise, smallpox is extinct in the wild.
The smallpox virus is probably stored in a cold room in the basement of the building. We’ve come to the time when the official samples should be destroyed. The other is at the CDC in Atlanta.
Is the Russian government telling the truth? Giving us the whole story? In 1979, the city of Sverdlovsk had a sudden epidemic of anthrax from a leak in a bioweapons production plant. The Soviet government pretended that this was from bad meat and kept it quiet, just as they did seven years later with the Chernobyl disaster. Putin seems to prefer handling accidents that way, having turned off international radiation monitors that might have told us something about the explosion at Nyonoksa in August.
If this is a coverup and viruses were released, people in Novosibirsk are the most at risk. Disease will show up fairly quickly, and people can be isolated and vaccinated. Russia does not want epidemics in its population. There is the small possibility that someone infected from Novosibirsk might travel internationally, but we know how to deal with these viruses, even Ebola now.
As to the question of whether all Russia’s explosions this summer are related, the answer is probably not, except for one possible connection. The Achinsk armory explosions are of a not uncommon type in Russia. Too many armories, too little safety, bored and uncaring security forces. The Nyonoksa and Novosibirsk explosions could be connected by pressure from above to get new weapons fielded rapidly. Pressure and haste in science tend to make things go wrong.
No More Mister Nice Blog: Disinformation campaigns will happen, but they're not magic. They can be defeated. And they're no excuse for indulging in despair.
What Would Jack Do: Trump is so thin-skinned and hypersensitive that he just can't help giving his critics a more prominent platform.
Strangely Blogged: Republicans equate anything to the left of Reagan with genocidal communism. It's an incoherent and desperate gambit.
Blog round-up by Infidel753. To recommend a post, send link to mbru [at] crooksandliars [dot] com -- I do check it!
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Carolyn Fiddler, and Matt Booker, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.Leading Off
● KY-Gov: Fundraising reports covering the period of May 22 through Sept. 6 were due for candidates running in November's gubernatorial election late last week, and they show Democrat Andy Beshear outraising Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, who has also trailed in the few polls we've seen here recently.Campaign Action
During the reporting period, Beshear brought in $2.8 million, spent $1.5 million, and had $1.3 million left heading into the final two months of the campaign. Bevin, meanwhile, raised $2 million but supplemented that haul with a $500,000 personal loan and had $1.6 million in his campaign account. According to disclosure forms he filed when he ran for Senate in 2014, Bevin's net worth was as much as $60 million, so he can write more fat checks whenever he likes.
Somewhat surprisingly, though, Bevin's spending over the summer trailed Beshear's considerably, at just $870,000. However, the RGA has made up for that shortfall by pouring $2.1 million into television ads, versus just $657,000 for the DGA. (You have to wonder, though, how RGA donors feel about having to prop up a zillionaire who can self-fund almost without limit.)
Bevin's also trying to close the gap by amping up the hate: In a racist new spot that's reportedly running on TV, Bevin's campaign features scary-looking photos of brown-skinned prison inmates with facial tattoos—who are almost certainly incarcerated in Central America, not in the U.S.—while saying the governor will "outlaw" sanctuary cities. (Note: Kentucky has no sanctuary cities.)
The narrator goes on to say that Beshear "would allow illegal immigrants to swarm our state" while tying Bevin to Trump. The extremely unsubtle imagery and message is very similar to that used in ads by Virginia Republican Ed Gillespie in 2017, amid his failed bid for governor.
Of all the candidates running for president on the Democratic side, Beto O’Rourke stands out as the maverick, the rebel, the “I don’t give a Flying F” guy who doesn’t pander and doesn’t cower. He’s got a mouth like a drunken pirate and he revels in it. (His campaign is selling tee shirts that say, over and over, “This is F — ked up”.)
Beto is the guy who almost took down Ted Cruz in 2018. That was big. He’s a Texan who speaks perfect Spanish, who waves his arms and bounces around to the point of distraction, but can handle comparisons to the Energizer Bunny because, well, he’s energized.
By rights he should be a force to be reckoned with — he’s young, earnest, charismatic, Kennedyesque— but so far there have been no real poll surges. Nothing that would suggest he might have a chance. It’s a crowded field and there are other, more adept stars who tend to dominate the stage.
But Beto is a force. He shows up on the border, near tears as he reports on the conditions in the refugee camps. He boldly rails against white supremacists from his perch in Texas, a state known for its love of guns and rage, and he minces no words when he talks against Donald Trump. (Tell us how you really feel, Beto.)
He made it clear just days after the August 3 shooting massacre in El Paso, where 22 people died in the district Beto represented in congress for six years, that he had no interest in running for the senate. It’s the presidency or nothing, because he knows only the power of the presidency will allow him to make radical change.
If candidate enthusiasm were the true measure of campaign success, then Elizabeth Warren is doing very well indeed. It was said after her speech last night she took selfie pics with her fans for four hours.
Source: Politics USA
Donald Trump measures political success on two imperfect metrics – poll numbers and crowd sizes – and Elizabeth Warren appears to be crushing it on both counts.
During a major speech at a rally in New York on Monday night, a massive crowd of 20,000 turned out to hear Warren tear into the unprecedented corruption of the Trump era.
The Massachusetts senator called Donald Trump “corruption in the flesh.”
Pictures show a capacity crowd packing into New York City’s Washington Square Park, which is just three miles from Trump Tower:
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) September 17, 2019
As I was finishing up this comic, I saw that Paul Krugman had some similar thoughts in his latest column.
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From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE…
Happy Birthday, America's Favorite Political Football!
I hope you put some extra starch in your bloomers this morning because no slouching is allowed on Constitution Day. 232 years ago, on September 17, 1787, the U.S. Constitution was signed by delegates from 12 states. And you can thank a wily West Virginia Democrat for making us pay attention to the damn thing at least once a freakin' year:
Constitution Day became a national observance in 2004, when Senator Robert Byrd passed a bill designating September 17 as the day for citizens to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution and learn more about our founding document. Senator Byrd once said, "Our ideals of freedom, set forth and realized in our Constitution, are our greatest export to the world." … In honor of Constitution Day, all educational institutions receiving federal funding are required to hold an educational program pertaining to the U.S. Constitution.
» At 81, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania was the oldest delegate at the Constitutional Convention, and at 26 Jonathan Dayton of New Jersey was the youngest.Someone take that poor thing to Staples and laminate it.
» The original Constitution is on display at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, it was moved to Fort Knox for safekeeping.
» More than 11,000 amendments have been introduced in Congress. Thirty three have gone to the states to be ratified and twenty seven have received the necessary approval from the states to actually become amendments to the Constitution.
» The boogers stuck to the document represent the Dred Scott, Bush v. Gore and Citizens United decisions, along with the language about the electoral college.
According to the Daily Show's classic history manual America (The Book), the early reviews were boffo:
"Checks, balances, executive, legislative, judiciary—this baby's got it all!"
—George Washington, Mount Vernon Bee-Dispatch
"The Constitution grabs you right from the Preamble and doesn't let go until the last Article…the must-ratify document of the summer!"
—Alexander Hamilton, New York Post
Take the quiz here. (Average score, according to the site, is 7 out of 10.) It should be noted that Republicans care very deeply about the Constitution, and pledge to fight tooth and nail for every single word. But, oddly, only During Democratic presidencies.
Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold...[Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]
On Monday evening, NBC News reported that sources inside U.S. intelligence agencies believe that the attack on Saudi oil processing facilities “originated in” Iran. This does not necessarily mean that the drones or missiles involved literally flew to the facilities from a site in Iran, but that the attack “displays a level of sophistication” outside the range of Houthi militia forces in Yemen, which have taken responsibility for the attach. The sources also indicated that Democrats would not dispute that Iran was behind the attack. That may well be the case, but it still leaves open an enormous question: Can we trust that analysis?
After all, the intelligence community wasn’t just wrong about the situation in Iraq previous to the U.S. invasion there; it was completely wrong. Wrong about the presence of weapons of mass destruction, wrong about the nature of facilities and equipment, wrong about the ease with which a post-war Iraq could be converted into a model of a modern, stable nation. That completely inaccurate picture of Iraq has directly caused the deaths of over 4,400 U.S. service members, left over 31,000 injured—often for life—and cost the lives of at least half a million Iraqis.
To be fair, there were many at the CIA, NSA, and other intelligence agencies who were absolutely right in their analysis of both the conditions that existed in Iraq at the time, and the consequences of a military incursion. But those voices, the voices backed by evidence and reason, were drowned out by highlight selective editing that mined a variety of data and pulled out only those bits that supported a preconceived notion of “the right thing to do.” Senior leadership at the Pentagon and the White House had in their hands the evidence that showed that Iraq was not developing nuclear weapons, that Iraq did not have a significant program developing either chemical or biological weapons, and that Iraq was not directly connected to the terrorists who attacked America on 9/11. They simply chose to either ignore or actively suppress all that evidence.
In a phone call to legislators, Trump’s special representative for Iran said that the Saudis considered the attack on the oil facilities “their 9/11.” That strikes a lot of Americans as offensive—even leaving out the fact that the first 9/11 could easily be considered as belonging to Saudi Arabia. This wasn’t something that cost thousands of lives. Where it hurt the kingdom of Mohammed bin Salman was in the pocketbook. What the attack really does share with 9/11 is that it was highly asymmetric, with the cost of the attack a tiny fraction of the dollar damage done.
The other thing it may share is serving as a pretext for invasion. Because, except for a single-letter edit in the target, the United States seems poised to make the same huge mistake again.
Well, we got bogged down in the Kavanaugh story and theories about Russian hacking and turning old models of voter turnout upside-down yesterday, and that leaves us with a lot to catch up on.
Will we do it? Or will we hyper-focus on some curious aspect of one of the many stories waiting in the wings? Anything’s possible! Trump could have gotten a “beautiful letter” from the Martians by showtime, for all we know!
Listen right here at 9:00 AM ET!
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For now, how about one on the house? Here’s what we did on our last new show:x Embedded Content
A new week, a new day, and KITM and David Waldman and Greg Dworkin return. Unfortunately, a lot of 2016 and 2018 followed them in: Brett Kavanaugh returns to the news. Actually, more witnesses are finally being heard. The New York Times sees some harmless penile face-thrusting. Donald Trump sees the New York Times’ penis. The FBI help keep the real dick out of sight. Should Democrats be concerned by a rhetoric gap? On a related note, life will be cursed and you will be blamed for it all if you don’t read this paywalled article. Is Trump launching a generation of Democrats into the future? Is Donald Democrats’ biggest inspiration right now? For that matter, is Joe Biden dooming Democrats’ future or is he the best representative of Democrats’ present? Will this election be decided, not by swaying independents, but by mining more partisans? John Bolton has moved on to better things, so Trump handed over the military to Mohammed bin Salman. Vladimir Putin called dibs, though. Donald Trump wouldn’t be Russia’s only asset in the US.Thanks to Scott Anderson for the show summary! Please help me pay him more! Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold.
I’ve got little but inspiration for today.
Be well.We shall re-convene on the ‘morrow.
Oh man. What fresh hell is this?
The recent media popularity of the name Kevin is gratifying, but I could do without this. On the bright side, it turns out that it refers to Kevin McCarthy, Trump’s dutiful lackey in the House. Nothing to do with me at all.