Crooks and Liars
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President Donald Trump’s new acting intelligence director, Richard Grenell, used to do consulting work on behalf of an Eastern European oligarch who is now a fugitive and was recently barred from entering the U.S. under anti-corruption sanctions imposed last month by the State Department.
In 2016, Grenell wrote several articles defending the oligarch, a Moldovan politician named Vladimir Plahotniuc, but did not disclose that he was being paid, according to records and interviews. Grenell also did not register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which generally requires people to disclose work in the U.S. on behalf of foreign politicians.
FARA is the same law that Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and former deputy campaign manager Rick Gates were convicted of violating. (Manafort went to trial. Gates pleaded guilty.)
Mike Hughes, self-taught "rocket scientist" and flat Earth conspiracy theorist, died this weekend in a homemade rocket launch gone wrong. Hughes, known as "Mad Mike," was filming for a Science Channel series called "Homemade Astronauts," a title that telegraphs the inherent problem. He was attempting to get his rocket up to an altitude of 5,000 feet allegedly to prove that the Earth is flat, but shortly after launch, there were problems and the parachute attached to the rocket ripped off, leading to Hughes falling to his death.
Hughes had made similar attempts twice in the past, most recently in August 2019. His first launch was in March 2018, and during that attempt he did reach an altitude of 1,875 feet. The second attempt was cancelled due to bad weather.
Conservative activist Chuck Muth said that he temporarily switched parties to vote for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in the Nevada caucuses.
Muth, who spoke to the Las Vegas Journal-Review while wearing a red Keep America Great hat, explained that he had crossed over to “vote for the weakest candidate possible of the Democrats.”
“It was kind of a way of demonstrating how absurd I think it is to have same-day registration as well as early voting for a caucus,” Muth explained. “So my wife and I last Sunday went to an early voting site, we changed parties right there on the spot. We caucused for Bernie.”
“It would be a dream election,” he added. “The nightmare would be if Sanders won, of course. But, look, if Bernie Sanders can beat Donald Trump, we’ve already lost it.”
If the Republicans learned anything from the 2016 election season, it is this: threatening investigations and congressional hearings work. It doesn't matter if there have been multiple investigations already, with no findings of wrongdoing. It doesn't matter if the threat comes from the fevered brains of alt-right conspiracy sites (actually, that is preferred). It doesn't matter if it makes any frickin' sense at all.
Most Americans won't follow it carefully enough to parse out cynical political moves from authentic attempts at oversight. They'll just get the sense that there's something vaguely sinister about the subjects of the investigation and the grandstanding of calling witnesses and insinuating their affiliation with a vaguely-defined deep state. It all adds up to boffo ratings for their own particular audience of one: Donald Trump.
So even though Trump's own Justice department declined to prosecute former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Chief Trump Enabler Lindsey Graham is about to haul him and a dozen other Trump bogeymen/women to get down to the bottom of...of....something::
The Debate Link: The smart kids.
Alicublog: Solidarity forever!
Heather Cox Richardson: The history of the Democratic and Republican parties and a unique moment in American politics.
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: A roundup of posts on Trump's 2021 budget.
This installment by Batocchio. E-mail tips to mbru AT crooksandliars DOT com.
In the last 2 days San Diego City Council president Georgette Gómez has been endorsed by some of the most trusted names in progressive politics-- AOC, Ro Khanna, Jamie Raskin, Pramila Jayapal... Bernie had endorsed her the week before. Today, Blue America adds our name to the growing list of endorsers.
Georgette made history as the first queer Latina elected to the San Diego City Council and two years ago she was unanimously elected president of that body, earning the support of both Democrats and Republicans. She's used that position to champion progressive initiatives involving mass transit, affordable housing, environmental policies and standing up to Trump's dangerous and bigoted border agenda. She told us that her priorities in Congress will be tackling the climate crisis, providing quality and affordable healthcare to all, investing in infrastructure and reducing gun violence. Her opponent is Qualcomm heiress Sara Jacobs, whose family is trying to buy her a congressional seat.
We asked Georgette to write a few paragraphs about the importance of affordable housing-- both looking backwards towards her job in San Diego and forwards to her job in DC. Please consider contributing to her campaign by clicking on the Blue America 2020 congressional thermometer below.
Based in Copenhagen and consisting of young musicians from Poland, Denmark and Norway, the Pimpono Ensemble is taking jazz into places not many do anymore. Emphasizing improvisation and experimenting, this orchestra of young musicians create and sound that is often expansive and beautiful and sometimes chaotic. They do breathe new and energetic life into a well known musical form, making it always interesting.
If you dig this track, I included some other music from the group in my most recent podcast.
What are you listening to tonight?
This really has to be the most pathetic excuse ever to justify the pardon we all know is coming eventually for Trump-fixer, now convict, Roger Stone.
Pence aide Marc Short was asked about the potential pardon by Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace, who actually, to his credit, pointed out the real reason for the pardon -- the fact that Stone protected Trump in the Mueller investigation -- and Short responded by claiming that the entire system is just terribly unfair because the former Acting Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe has been hired by CNN instead of sitting in a jail cell, which is where Trump would still like for him to be.
Trump's own DOJ refused to prosecute McCabe, but that doesn't matter to the right-wing grievance industry, who will never stop beating this dead horse as long as Trump remains in office, or ever.WALLACE: One of the president's friends, Roger Stone, was sentenced this week to 40 months in prison for lying to congress, for obstruction, and for witness tampering. Here was the president's reaction.
TRUMP: I'd love to see roger exonerated. and I'd love to see happen because I personally think he was treated very unfairly.
Guys, I am starting to think that God may rescind Pastor* Robert Jeffress' ticket to heaven based on some pretty non-Christian comments he just made to Septegarian Hate Monger Lou Dobbs on Fox News about churches that do not follow his personal political views.
He said:"There are some churches that deserve to die. Liberal churches that are changing God's message to fit the culture, those churches are dying."
Oh. So churches that don't follow his views "deserve to die"? Doesn't that go against Christianity? Wasn't Jesus accepting of all people, no matter their religion, age, gender, job, etc?
He continued spewing his twisted hate speech by saying:
The pundit class of DC politics is waking up to the probability of a Bernie Sanders being the Democratic nominee for president and let me tell you, they are FREAKING OUT.
To be fair, it's not without reason. And it's not all due to being part of a privileged class being encroached upon, don't kid yourself.
The oppo research on Bernie Sanders is deep and the Clinton campaign largely left it alone in 2016 in the hopes of bringing Bernie supporters to her camp. The Trump campaign and all those dark money conservative groups will have no such constraint. And that doesn't even take into account the things that will get fed and embraced by the mainstream media by other dark forces (Anyone remember how much The New York Times loved the entirely fact-free "Clinton Cash"?). Russian troll farms showed in 2016 how easy it was to seed discontent through social media and hurt turn out.
When both Carolina Hurricanes goaltenders went down with injury they called upon Dave Ayres, a 42 year-old Zamboni driver (the machine that cleans and waters the ice) to do emergency duty. Ayres had never played a professional game of hockey before in his life. Ayres received for his valiant efforts: $500 for playing, a standing ovation from the Toronto fans, and was made an honorary citizen of North Carolina by the governor.
When both of the Carolina Hurricanes' goaltenders left Saturday's game versus the Toronto Maple Leafs with injuries, 42-year-old Dave Ayres came in as the emergency backup goaltender -- and stopped 8 of 10 shots to get credit for the 6-3 win.
Ayres allowed goals on the first two shots he faced before stopping the final eight in succession.
"Obviously, that second period was a little shaky, but I told the boys in the dressing room, 'Once we come out for the third, I'll be settled down and ready to win this one,'" Ayres said afterward on the CBC Sports broadcast.
Ayres, a Zamboni driver and arena maintenance worker for the Maple Leafs' AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, has been the regular practice goaltender for the Marlies and has appeared at Maple Leafs practices and skills sessions this season. As the emergency goalie, he was available to either team, if needed.
MSNBC Guest Slams Chris Matthews After He Compares Sanders To Nazis: 'He Had Kin Murdered In The Holocaust'
Time magazine editor Anand Giridharadas criticized MSNBC host Chris Matthews over the weekend for his alleged bias against Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
Giridharadas remarks came after Matthews compared Sanders' win in Nevada to a Nazi invasion.
"Last night was a historic win that I think a lot of us are still struggling to understand," Giridharadas explained. "It's historic because we may be seeing that we are paddling through a bend of a river in history here. Something is happening in America right now that actually does not fit our mental models."
"It certainly doesn't fit the mental models of a lot of people on TV," he continued. "It doesn't fit the mental models of a lot of people in the parties. It doesn't fit our cultural mental models."
Giridharadas called it a "wake-up moment" for pundits.
"Many of this establishment are behaving in my view as they face the prospect of a Bernie Sanders nomination like out-of-touch aristocrats in a dying aristocracy" he said. "Just sort of, 'How do we stop this, how do we block this?'"
Gaslighting National Security Advisor Claims He's Seen No Intelligence On Russia Favoring Trump In 2020
Just days after the briefing to the House Intelligence Committee by Shelby Pierson, the DNI's election security czar, which may have put her head on the chopping block as the next to be purged by the Trump administration, Trump National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien wants us to believe that he knows nothing about the meeting.
It seems O'Brien is more concerned about keeping his job and playing to an audience of one than telling the truth and keeping the public informed about the threat to our democracy from Russian interference in our elections. Here's O'Brien on ABC's This Week gaslighting the audience about whether he's aware of the fact that Russia wants to see his boss reelected:
It is not common for Supreme Court Justices to come out and publicly go against fellow justices. They keep that commentary for their written dissents to cases before the Supreme Court. But, after a despicable ruling that was decided along party lines (5-4) which allowed the Trump administration to implement a "wealth tax" on immigrants in all 50 states, Justice Sonia Sotomayor could not hold back.
ABC News reports that the dissent, written by Justice Sotomayor, called out the conservative wing of the Supreme Court in such a public fashion, accusing them of being "biased toward the Trump administration." Here is why that matters — it is expected for justices to vote in a conservative or liberal fashion, but to call them deferential to a particular president is stark commentary. They are being called MAGA/Trump Cult all the way.
Trump Administration Proposes Another Social Security Rule That Violates The Law, Hurts The Disabled
The Trump administration has been making a low-key but concerted attack on Social Security in the past weeks, not in public pronouncements, but in attacks on the program through the rule-making process. While the proposal intended to kick Social Security Disability claimants off of benefits has received attention, a second rule that would make the appeals process harder to navigate has flown under the radar. Administrative law judges and Democrats in Congress have been paying attention, though.
Conservative religious pundits on Fox News recoiled in outrage on Sunday after a left-leaning guest suggested that Jesus Christ was "more of a socialist" than a capitalist.
During a Fox & Friends segment designed to cast doubt on the faith or Democratic presidential candidates, evangelical pastor Robert Jeffress argued that socialism is "antithetical to Christianity."
But St. Paul Reverend Dee Dawkins-Haigler reminded the other panelists that scriptures seemed to point to what people now call socialism.
"We believe in things like, what did you do to the least of them?" Dawkins-Haigler explained. "You fed the hungry, you clothed the naked, you went to see those who are in prison."
"You do not have to be a socialist to be a Christian!" Jeffress shot back. "Socialism is antithetical to Christianity and if they nominate Bernie Sanders, they are not going to be able to attract any faith voters."
"I totally disagree," Dawkins-Haigler retorted. "People would have said that Jesus was more of a socialist than anybody we're talking about today."
The remarks stopped Fox News host Pete Hegseth cold.
"Why was Jesus a socialist?" he exclaimed.
"Because Jesus did not sit with the establishment, he overturned tables of the tax collectors, he sat with people who were lepers," Dawkins-Haigler explained. "He made sure he healed people who people thought should not have been healed."
"So we have to be very careful how we use this language and try to take ownership of who God is," she added.
The purge of those who are not Trump loyalists in the intelligence community continues. CNN is reporting that there are more departures expected, and that Shelby Pierson, the person in charge of evaluating intelligence regarding election security with the ODNI, may be the next to go now that Trump has his flunky, Richard Grennell as temporary Director of National Intelligence:
Some top intelligence officials are looking to leave following the recent upheaval at the office that oversees the 17 intelligence agencies of the US government, including the controversial appointment of Richard Grenell as the nation's top intelligence official, a US official told CNN.
Grenell has said he is only temporarily filling the position of acting director of American spy agencies, but he is already making his mark. Grenell, a President Donald Trump loyalist, is also still serving as the US ambassador to Germany. After his appointment to the intelligence post this week, officials at the office of the director of national intelligence (ODNI) made calls to US diplomats in Germany inquiring about Grenell's leadership style, two sources familiar with the matter told CNN.
Chris Wallace Busts Marc Short On Russian Attacks: ‘You Can’t Say It Didn’t Happen And Then Say They Leaked It’
Fox News host Chris Wallace called out Marc Short, an aide to Mike Pence, after he insisted that there is no intelligence that shows Russia has a preference for Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
"There's not intelligence that said the Russians are trying to help Donald Trump win elections," Short said during an interview on Fox News Sunday.
"I know that's the White House argument," Wallace acknowledged. "There is a consistent story that came out this week and we've heard it from members of the committee, from members of the intelligence community, we've heard it from people in your own White House."
"And that is that Shelby Pierson, who is the intelligence community's election security czar, told Congress that the Russians are trying to help Donald Trump," he added. "The president's reaction was to call in her boss -- acting DNI chief Joe Maguire -- to fire him and to replace him with Ambassador Richard Grenell. a Trump partisan who has almost no intelligence experience."
"You say none of this happened?" Wallace asked Short.
The White House aided, however, pivoted to complain that information about Pierson has been leaked from the House Intelligence Committee.
Every news story about the vetting process for John Bolton's book implies that the vetting is being done by career professionals according to long-established standards. I don't believe it. I believe the career pros may be trying to uphold standards -- but is it even possible that they're not feeling intimidated? Is it conceivable that this president will allow them to exercise independent judgment, even if they conclude that the book is publishable before November?
President Trump has directly weighed in on the White House review of a forthcoming book by his former national security adviser, telling his staff that he views John Bolton as “a traitor,” that everything he uttered to the departed aide about national security is classified and that he will seek to block the book’s publication, according to two people familiar with the conversations.
The president’s private arguments stand in contrast to the point-by-point process used to classify and protect sensitive secrets and appears to differ from the White House’s public posture toward Bolton’s much-anticipated memoir. The National Security Council warned Bolton last month that his draft “appears to contain significant amounts of classified information,” some of it top secret, but pledged to help him revise the manuscript and “move forward as expeditiously as possible.”