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Look who’s joined the war against Christmas

Look who's joined the war against Christmas

by digby

I'm sure the conservative evangelicals for whom he can do no wrong won't care, but I have to say I think it's pretty funny that Donald Trump hates Christmas parties:

By the 26th, he will have attended 21 Christmas parties, clocking in at more than 52 hours of festivities in total, or about 10 percent of his waking hours this month.

This is the life of a modern president of the United States in the month of December — and Donald Trump hates every minute of it. While he is known to enjoy hosting large social events and rallies, current and former White House staffers say he regards presidential Christmas parties with a special loathing and goes out of his way to escape early. Making Christmas great again may have been a pillar of his presidential campaign — “We’re going to start saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again,” he often promised — but the war on Christmas is now raging inside of him.

One person close to the White House told me, “It makes perfect sense” that Trump hates the entire production surrounding Christmas, “because it’s not about him!” This person added, “If it were about him, he’d love it. Christmas is not about him.”

“It’s just a lot,” a senior White House official told me. “They’re hosting all these people, half of whom they don’t know,” the official said. “He just gets impatient. He likes to go go go. Sitting through things, he gets restless.”

For his first Christmas as president, the White House parties featured a procedure for guests to enter a line and take a photo with Donald and Melania, an excruciating and monotonous ritual endured by most modern presidents since the early 1960s. It can, and often does, go on for hours. But Trump seems to have less patience for it than his predecessors. At one party, Trump grew so annoyed that he began complaining openly to one of his aides. “He said, ‘I’m supposed to be the president, but now all I do is stand there and take pictures all day. There’s no telling what’s going on in the world right now. I’d never know,’” the former aide told me, recalling the conversation.

While shaking hands with guests and standing for photos at another party last year, Trump spotted Mike Pence in the crowd. According to a second White House official, he forced the vice-president to take his place. “He and Melania left and subbed in the vice-president for the photo line,” the second official said.


Hilarious that he actually said "all I do is stand there and take pictures all day. There’s no telling what’s going on in the world right now. I’d never know" which to me is a feature, not a bug. He should spend all of his time posing for pictures at parties. Like Kim Kardashian, a reality show celebrity as he is. We know for a fact that he isn't really interested in the world. He's interested in what people are saying about him on television and in the papers. Like Kim Kardashian.

He hates having to do anything for longer than a few minutes because he needs to feed his TV addiction at regular intervals. Even a Christmas Party is an interruption.

The good news for people attending the party is that he sneaks out early so they can actually have some fun. If he's in the room, you know it's all about kissing his hem and telling him how he's made America great again. It certainly isn't about Christmas.


If you find what we do here to be helpful in understanding what's happening around us in this wild political era, if stopping by here from time to time gives you a little sense of solidarity with others who are going through their days as gobsmacked by events as you are, I hope you'll find it in your heart to drop a little something in the Hullabaloo stocking to help me keep the light on for another year.

The paypal buttons are on the sidebar and below as is the snail mail address.

As always I am immensely grateful for your continued loyalty and interest in my scribbles.

And I wish all of you Very Happy Hollandaise!

cheers --- digby







Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

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Trump doesn’t have the votes? No kidding.

Trump doesn't have the votes? No kidding.

by digby


Remember this?


HOUSE SPEAKER-DESIGNATE PELOSI: -- you begin, you make your point, you state your case. That’s what the House Republicans could do, if they had the votes. But there are no votes in the House, a majority of votes, for a wall -- no matter where you start.

SENATE MINORITY LEADER SCHUMER: That is exactly right. You don’t have the votes in the House.

THE PRESIDENT: If I needed the votes for the wall in the House, I would have them -- in one session, it would be done.

HOUSE SPEAKER-DESIGNATE PELOSI: Well, then go do it. Go do it.

Pelosi knew what the votes were and knew the president has about as much clout on legislation as Melania does. Maybe less. He doesn't have the votes:

Here's where we are at the moment:

President Trump on Tuesday retreated from his demand for $5 billion to build a border wall, as congressional Republicans maneuvered to avoid a partial government shutdown before funding expires at the end of Friday.

But Democrats immediately rejected Republicans’ follow-up offer, leaving the two sides still at impasse as hundreds of thousands of federal workers await word on whether they will be sent home without pay just before Christmas.

The new border funding offer from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) calls on Congress to pass a $1.6 billion homeland security spending bill that was crafted earlier this year in a bipartisan Senate compromise.

Under the offer, Congress would also reprogram $1 billion in unspent funds that Trump could use on his immigration policies. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), who oversees the panel in charge of homeland security funding, said the reprogrammed money would not be able to be used for a physical wall but could be spent on other border security measures.

Sen. Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) told McConnell Tuesday that Democrats would not accept the deal, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) criticized the plan to reprogram the funds.

“Leader Schumer and I have said that we cannot support the offer they made of a billion-dollar slush fund for the president to implement his very wrong immigration policies,” Pelosi said. “So that won’t happen.”


Why in the world should anyone give Donald Trump a billion dollar "slush fund" for anything? That's not how this works. It's not how any of this works.

If you want to know what the Trumpies are so afraid of:

President Donald Trump, clad in a golf shirt and golf hat under a warm South Florida sun, hitting a drive off the tee while Secret Service agents protecting him are forced to work without paychecks, possibly for weeks, because Congress wouldn’t pay for Trump’s “Great Wall.”

Such is the nightmare public relations scenario facing the White House less than a week before the Department of Homeland Security and other key government agencies run out of money at midnight Friday while Trump is scheduled to fly that day to his Mar-a-Lago resort for a 16-day vacation.


Trump doesn't care about any of that, of course. In fact, I doubt he even cares much about his stupid wall or anything else that doesn't have to do with Grand Juries, subpoenas, lawsuits, investigations and congressional oversight right now. Undoubtedly the only thing he wants to do all day is sooth himself with Fox News and talk to friends on the phone who tell him it's all going to be ok.

And Republicans in congress just want to get out of town and go home to lick their wounds. Trump doesn't even know how many will be around for a vote --- the defeated congressmen aren't even showing up for work! They're going on TV and saying they have no idea what the president wants to do and the White House is pretty much telling hem to do whatever they want. It's a mess.

Presumably, there will be some kind of agreement to stave off a shutdown but you never know. The president is missing in action and the Republicans have lost the capacity to even pretend to govern. Stay tuned.


If you find what we do here to be helpful in understanding what's happening around us in this wild political era, if stopping by here from time to time gives you a little sense of solidarity with others who are going through their days as gobsmacked by events as you are, I hope you'll find it in your heart to drop a little something in the Hullabaloo stocking to help me keep the light on for another year.

The paypal buttons are on the sidebar and below as is the snail mail address.

As always I am immensely grateful for your continued loyalty and interest in my scribbles.

And I wish all of you Very Happy Hollandaise!

cheers --- digby







Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

comments

The Trump Grifter Family band

The Trump Grifter Family band

by digby



The question of whether a sitting president can be indicted is very live all over the political world, as is impeachment. But there is no law that says a president's business (from which, by the way, he has never divested or even distanced himself as president) cannot be investigated. And if there was ever a business that should be investigated it's this one. It's a con from top to bottom. And the emerging consensus is that The Trump Organization is in serious jeopardy.

Here's one analysis:

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan this past week appeared to be barreling forward on a collision course with President Trump. Forbidden from indicting him by their superiors in Washington, the prosecutors instead are likely to turn their guns on the president’s family and close associates and, perhaps most significantly, the business he spent his life building, according to former Department of Justice officials.

In court filings, a dramatic sentencing hearing and an unusually revelatory press release, the prosecutors in the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York added substantially to the mound of public evidence that the president has criminal exposure for arranging secret payments to women during the federal election campaign.

In a sentencing memo, the Southern District cited Michael Cohen’s claims that Donald Trump, as a presidential candidate, had directed Cohen to secretly pay off two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump, in violation of campaign finance laws. In a lower Manhattan courtroom, as he pleaded with a judge for leniency, Cohen cast himself as a weak man and instrument of Trump’s will.

Shortly after the sentencing hearing concluded, Southern District prosecutors revealed for the first time that they had entered into a cooperation deal with American Media Inc. (AMI), the company that publishes the National Enquirer, which had assisted Cohen by negotiating and making one of the secret payments, $150,000 paid to Karen McDougal based on a sham contract, on the understanding that Cohen would reimburse AMI for the expense. (Despite the understanding, he never actually reimbursed AMI.)

AMI agreed to help Southern District prosecutors by providing evidence in exchange for not being charged. Both Cohen and AMI said that the hush money payments, which Trump was involved with and knew about, were intended to influence the presidential election by keeping derogatory stories about Trump out of the news.

“I think that they’re clearly building a case, right?” said Mimi Rocah, a 16-year veteran of the Southern District now in private practice. “They’re not trying to get Cohen to cooperate against AMI because AMI has a nonprosecution cooperation agreement. And they’re not cooperating AMI just against Cohen because he has already pled out. So there seem to be other targets in their sights.”

While it appears the Southern District is assembling a powerful criminal case against Trump, one of the targets for prosecution may be not the president himself, but the Trump Organization.
[...]
Federal investigations such as Southern District’s are secret, and any discussion of who future targets might be is necessarily speculative, but the charging documents from that office contain some strong hints that the Trump Organization and its executives could be the targets.

Both Rocah and Sandick pointed specifically to allegations that two Trump Organization executives, referred to in charging documents as Executive 1 and Executive 2, had concocted a fraudulent scheme to pay Cohen back for his payment to Stormy Daniels. NBC News and the Wall Street Journal have reported that Executive 1 is the longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, who was granted immunity by the Southern District in its investigation.
[...]
These machinations, presumably, served a dual purpose. First, they allowed the Trump Organization to maintain the fiction, on its books and before its auditors, that Cohen was simply being periodically paid for legal work on behalf of the company, rather than reimbursed for one-time campaign expenses. “The Company accounted for these payments as legal expenses,” the SDNY prosecutors wrote. Second, in order to maintain consistency with the Trump Organization’s deceptive accounting treatment, Cohen would have to report the full amount received as taxable income on his tax returns, rather than accurately identifying it as an untaxed reimbursement. The increased, or “grossed up,” amounts would have been to cover Cohen’s resulting taxes, since the payments to him were being classified as income, rather than a reimbursement.

The contortions may not just put the Trump Organization’s executives at risk; they could expose the president’s cherished business as well.

“I think there’s a possibility of the Trump Organization as a whole being charged,” Rocah said.

“Charges against the Trump Organization seem like a way of addressing through one path what you might not be able to address through a different path,” Sandick agreed.
[...]
Former prosecutors pointed out that a prosecution of a business organization would not be undertaken lightly. The Department of Justice’s frequently revised guidelines on the subject “generally tend to discourage charging organizations because of the concern about harm to third parties,” Sandick said.

On the other hand, it’s unclear how many employees the Trump Organization has, and thus could be affected, since much of their work seems to be in the area of licensing the Trump name, according to Sandick.

“The truth is nobody, even those of us in the alumni network, lived through something quite like this,” said Sandick. “I was there during 9/11 and we saw lots of huge cases, high profile things. I remember lots of big things happening in the office. But this is, kind of, of a different magnitude.”


Today, the state of New York announced that the Trump Foundation was closing down due to its repeated unethical and illegal conduct:

The stipulation agreement was part of a larger agreement to break up the charity and distribute its remaining funds, under judicial supervision, to other charitable groups approved by New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

“This is an important victory for the rule of law, making clear that there is one set of rules for everyone,” Underwood said in a statement. “We’ll continue to move our suit forward to ensure that the Trump Foundation and its directors are held to account for their clear and repeated violations of state and federal law.”

In her statement, Underwood also cited “a shocking pattern of illegality” that led to this decision.

Among other things, the Trump Foundation is currently being investigated for allegations the president and his three eldest children, Donald Jr., Eric, and Ivanka Trump, used the charity for their personal benefit and to benefit the president’s 2016 campaign. According to the Post, “Trump used the charity’s funds pay off legal settlements for his private business, to purchase art that decorated one of his clubs and to make a prohibited political donation.”


My favorite Trump Foundation story isn't the one where he bought his own portrait with foundation money. I think it's the one where his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski personally coordinated with the family to spread the foundation money Trump had ostentatiously raised for veterans around Iowa in the days before the primary election. It's corruption all the way down ...


If you find what we do here to be helpful in understanding what's happening around us in this wild political era, if stopping by here from time to time gives you a little sense of solidarity with others who are going through their days as gobsmacked by events as you are, I hope you'll find it in your heart to drop a little something in the Hullabaloo stocking to help me keep the lights on for another year.

The paypal buttons are on the sidebar and below as is the snail mail address.

As always I am immensely grateful for your continued loyalty and interest in my scribbles.

And I wish all of you Very Happy Hollandaise!

cheers --- digby







Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

comments

Trumpworld gossip on the mystery Mueller witness

Trumpworld gossip on the mystery Mueller witness

by digby


I have no idea, of course. But Gabe Sherman at Vanity Fair says that Trumpworld has an idea:

“They have no idea what [the] report will say,” a Republican close to the White House said. That is why Rudy Giuliani has been floating the newest line of defense that paying off Stormy Daniels or getting a heads-up from Roger Stone about WikiLeaks wouldn’t be crimes. “They’re testing these messages,” the Republican said. Last night, Mueller was a topic of discussion among the prominent members of Trumpworld, including Don Jr., who gathered at the Trump International Hotel for a birthday party for R.N.C. co-chair candidate Tommy Hicks. “People are speculating that the secret witness in the D.C. court is Don Jr.,” one attendee said. (The White House and a lawyer for Don Jr. did not respond to a request for comment.)

I can certainly understand why they would be so secretive if it is. It would be a circus if it were public. But if it is him, it raises the question about why the prosecutor assigned to this case is an Arabic speaking specialist in counter-terrorism and transnational organized crime. I suppose it's possible that could apply to Junior but it seems unlikely.

On the other hand, who knows? The Trump Organization is all over the world and they've been laundering money for years. Don Junior is the Executive Vice president who said they get all of their funding from Russia and has been up to his neck in deals in Dubai and elsewhere.



If you find what we do here to be helpful in understanding what's happening around us in this wild political era, if stopping by here from time to time gives you a little sense of solidarity with others who are going through their days as gobsmacked by events as you are, I hope you'll find it in your heart to drop a little something in the Hullabaloo stocking to help me keep the light on for another year.

The paypal buttons are on the sidebar and below as is the snail mail address.

As always I am immensely grateful for your continued loyalty and interest in my scribbles.

And I wish all of you Very Happy Hollandaise!

cheers --- digby







Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

comments

The Little Red Hen Institute for Libertarian Futurism


For those of you who were raised in a cupboard under the stairs at number four Privet Drive and never heard the fable of the Little Red Hen, it's pretty simple.

Once upon a time there was a demon chicken.  A Transylvanian Naked Neck hen named Hellspawn who would slip into the houses of naughty children at night and lay the Egg of Moderate Remorse...

Nope.  Wrong one.

Here we go.

The Little Red Hen finds a grain of wheat and asks her fellow barnyard critters to help her turn it into bread, but they all tell her to go pound sand.   So she goes it alone.  At every step along the way -- planting, watering, harvesting, milling, etc. -- she asks for help, and they always refuse.  Finally, once the bread is baked and ready, she asks who will help her eat it. This time, all the slackers volunteer, but she tells them to fuck off, dumps her shitty husband (who hadn't done a damn thing all this time either), sells the bread and her bread-making LLC to a high-end restaurant chain for a small fortune, and splits for the Bahamas with her lover and her cash.

The end.

(Also if you would like to check out my eerily prescient political version of this story from 13 years ago you can find it here "Little Red State Fundy".)

So what (you shrewdly ask) does that have to with anything?

Good question.

See, these days, it seem like every Right-leaning think tank and future planning consortium and Very Serious public intellectual and Never Trump book peddler and professional haver-of-opinions has a whole whiteboard full of ideas about what sort of !New!And!Improved! Republican Party should rise up and occupy the political vacuum...

...which will be created once someone else does the hard and thankless work of demolishing the GOP and burying it at the crossroads with a Whip Inflation Now button through its heart. 

For example, Jonathan Chait seems very excited (for reasons which elude me) --
I Have Seen the Future of a Republican Party That Is No Longer Insane
-- about this outfit:
...the Niskanen Center, a libertarian-leaning Washington think tank, held a conference on the future of the Republican Party, called “Starting Over: The Center-Right After Trump.” 
Because all by themselves and with an annual budget of a scant $2M they have come up with a plan for the future of the Republican Party which I am sure sounds edgy and groundbreaking to the big thinkers on the Right...

...but which we on the Left would refer to more colloquially as "The Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton Center-Left wing of the Democratic Party".

And that's the first problem -- the fact that pretty much all of the Niskanen Center's revolutionary think-tanked policies already have a longstanding ideological home inside the Democratic Party.  Now if the Niskanen Center wants to spend their time and energy creating a New Republican Party which would exist to endorse 90% of the Democratic Party platform, well that'd be just great.

I wish all 17 members of this bold, new Republican Party all the luck in the world.

Because there is a second problem.  The big problem. The  "Trump is the Party and the Party is Trump" problem.  As Mr. Chait points out:
The pathological character of the Republican Party is the most important problem in American politics. It has taken decades to develop to its current deformed state, and will not be solved quickly. There is no way to imagine the current incarnation of the GOP getting to the place Niskanen envisions any time soon...

That distant point probably lies years, even decades, away. It can only happen after today’s Republican Party is destroyed, rendered incapable of wielding power at the national level, and its governing philosophy discredited completely. The Niskanen Center is the one institution planning for what can follow after the cleansing fire.
Jesus Hanging Chad Christ, Jonathan, everybody and their cousin has a whole sock drawer full of great big wonderful ideas for what to do after VR Day.  After the Republican Party is "destroyed".  After the "cleansing fire".

But the Niskanen Center (and every other clutch of Never Trump Big Thinkers who carry themselves as though they are the government-in-waiting) is conspicuously vague about who exactly they suppose will be doing the dirty, grueling work of actually demolishing the GOP and disposing of all the toxic waste they will leave in their wake.  And doing it while fighting a thankless, shitty uphill battle every inch of the way against the massive, well-financed, rear-guard action of every Republican elected official, every Conservative media outfit, the Never Trump Republicans. the entire Beltway media and anyone else who has a vested interest in not opening the ball on the decades-deep roots of the problem and allocating blame accordingly.

In other words, who exactly is supposed to grow the wheat and bake the bread which the Niskanen Center plans to slice up and serve as up toast points at their future fundraisers?

During my years years working in technology and public policy in the public and private sectors, I saw this sort of thing happen all the time.  I refer to it as the "11 quarterbacks and no wide receivers" syndrome.  It happens when C-class executives identify an imminent and potentially catastrophic mission-critical problem than is either too politically risky for them to tackle, or that none of them has the imagination or tenacity cope with.

Usually the imminent and potentially catastrophic mission-critical problem was the result of not fucking listening to people who knew better and were sounding the alarm back when it was a relatively minor problem that could have been dealt with fairly easily.

Inevitably, the people who ignored the situation until it became and imminent and potentially catastrophic mission-critical problem would end up redefining it as an "IT issue" (Translation: A "smart guy" problem) and dumping it on my desk.

Well the imminent and potentially catastrophic mission-critical problem with the GOP is not a portfolio of policies and principles that it might be theoretically possible to untangle and debate rationally.  Nor is it a vampire army where, if you slay the Vampire King, all of his minions fall to dust.  As I have written a thousand times, the Republican Party as it exists out here in the real world is composed of tens of millions of infinitely reprogrammable meatbags whose "principles" can be flipped on and off like a light switch by anyone with a big enough megaphone who knows the right code words.

A base which can be told one thing on Monday and swear by it, told the exact opposite on Tuesday and swear by that too, all while also swearing they never believed otherwise.

A base which would fling itself en masse into a live volcano if Sean Hannity told them it was safe to do so.  A base which, with their dying breath, would then blame brown people and Libtards because the lava burns.

This did not happen by accident.

This was the end-product of a calculated, massively well-funded, multi-generation Republican project to create a party base that was just exactly this rage-drunk, paranoid, racist, ignorant and malleable.  Not a vampire army, but a zombie horde, programmed to believe that anyone to the Left of Jerome Corsi is a godless, America-hating monster, that the entire mainstream media is vast commie conspiracy arrayed against them, and that any whiff of compromise on any issue is treason.

A zombie horde programmed to go wherever Fox News and Hate Radio points them.  A zombie horde which will keep coming and coming and coming for you no matter how many facts you hit them with until actuarial inevitability catches up with them and, one by one, they slouch off their unquiet graves.

Well this is not Paths of Glory, the GOP is not the Anthill and we on the Left are not going to be cannon fodder in some REMF Libertarian think tank's utopian fantasies. 

You want to shape the world to come?

Great.

Then get off your asses and into the trenches with the only people who have already been fighting this Long War for decades.

Us damn, dirty Liberals.

Fighting with little or no help from anyone.  Fighting against ridiculous odds.  Fighting as pariahs whose opinions no one wanted to hear.  Fighting in the face of the unified derision of the entire media establishment.


Because this time when we win -- and we will -- as the victors, we will dictate the contours of the postwar world.

And we have no intention of playing the piccolo in someone else's parade.


Behold, a Tip Jar!

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QOTD: Paul Krugman by tristero

QOTD: Paul Krugman 

by tristero

Krugman in a brilliant op-ed:

When Democrats threaten to win elections, they rig the voting process, as they did in Georgia. When Democrats win despite election rigging, they strip the offices Democrats win of power, as they did in Wisconsin. When Democratic policies prevail despite all of that, they use apparatchik-stuffed courts to strike down legislation on the flimsiest of grounds.
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Good lord, this is getting complicated!

Good lord, this is getting complicated!

by digby


Holiday soother: a little Joey

First, thank you all again for contributing to the Annual Hullabaloo Holiday Fundraiser. It warms my heart that you value this humble little project and I can't begin to tell you how grateful I am.

This has been an interesting morning waiting for the Flynn sentencing and watching the right wingers suddenly become paralyzed after having extolled the virtues of Judge Emmett Sullivan as someone who would expose the Deep State conspiracy to destroy the patriot Donald Trump. That didn't happen. Sullivan is a skeptic of government power but he isn't a fool.

You have to forgive them. They are authoritarians by nature so they aren't used to being on the other side of the fence and they don't really understand how this works. Civil libertarians care about checking government power and there is ample evidence that the president of the United States and a former Marine General and National Security Adviser are incompetent, unstable and unethical. And we are learning that even the best case scenario shows that those characteristics led both of them to be criminal and disloyal. (The worst case scenario is ..... bad.)

These are the most powerful positions in the world and somebody, somewhere, has to step in in a situation such as this. Preferably it would be the congress but because the Republican Party is batshit insane and politically suicidal the judicial system is the only check on this criminality and gross abuse of executive power at the moment. Sullivan is the type of judge who doesn't think high government officials should get special treatment and he apparently thinks that's what Flynn was getting.

It's possible that by the time you read this Trump will have already pardoned his man Flynn. Who knows? He's very much on edge right now and anything can happen. Stay tuned.

I don't have the skills of a Marcy Wheeler at parsing dense legal filings and government documents to suss out the underlying meaning. I depend on her to do that. But I do spend a lot of time reading and synthesizing the political news and trying to put it together in an understandable way for people who don't have the time or inclination to do that. Years of watching the right wing has given me a pretty good instinct about how that faction works and right now that's something to which we must pay especially close attention. Donald Trump is a walking social and political crisis and the underlying structure that enables him is key to whether or not we get through this intact.

We have to stay awake right now as exhausted as we are by all this. I promise that I will throw cold water on my face each morning and keep doing what I do to try to help us all sort through it. If stopping by from time to time helps you feel like you aren't going completely crazy I hope you'll find it in your heart to drop a little something in the Hullabaloo stocking to help me keep the light on for another year.

The paypal buttons are on the sidebar and below as is the snail mail address.

As always I am immensely grateful for your continued loyalty and interest in my scribbles.

And I wish all of you Very Happy Hollandaise!

cheers --- digby







Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

comments

17 and counting by @BloggersRUs

17 and counting

by Tom Sullivan

Forty-eight persons pleaded guilty out of 69 charged in the Watergate investigations, Wired magazine reminds us. President Richard Nixon may have been the nexus of the affair, but dozens of associates participated in the break-ins and the cover-ups that led to his undoing. President Ronald Reagan never faced impeachment over the Iran-Contra affair, but prosecutors charged 14 others with criminal offenses. Most were convicted. Two received preemptive pardons. Presidentin' is risky business for those guilty of perfidy.

The problem with money is it leaves clues wherever it goes. Even now, 80 percent of U.S. bills carry traces of cocaine. For a town like Washington, D.C. that runs on money, lots of it, following the money leads investigators places. As in prior investigations into clandestine presidential misadventures, money is key to the Department of Justice uncovering dirty little secrets about President Donald Trump's public and private business.

Wired reports:

More than two years in, the constellation of current investigations involves questions about foreign money and influence targeting the Trump campaign, transition, and White House from not just Russia but as many as a half-dozen countries. Prosecutors are studying nearly every aspect of how money flowed both in and out of Trump’s interconnected enterprises, from his hotels to his company to his campaign to his inauguration. While President Trump once said that he’d see investigations into his business dealings as crossing a “red line,” it appears that Trump himself obliterated that line, intermingling his business and campaign until it was impossible for prosecutors to untangle one without forensically examining the other.

Obviously, some of these investigations below may—or will—eventually overlap. Many of the players, particularly those like Michael Cohen, may end up central to multiple cases. And the existence of an investigation does not necessarily mean convictions will follow.

Although some preemptive pardons are not yet out of the question. As a public service, Wired compiled a list of investigations into the Trump administration (that we know of so far), many with Donald Trump as a nexus:
Investigations by the Special Counsel

1. The Russian Government’s Election Attack
2. WikiLeaks
3. Middle Eastern Influence
4. Paul Manafort’s Activity
5. The Trump Tower Moscow Project
6. Other Campaign and Transition Contacts With Russia
7. Obstruction of Justice
8. Campaign Conspiracy and the Trump Organization’s Finances
9. Inauguration Funding
10. Trump SuperPAC Funding
11. Foreign Lobbying
12. Maria Butina and the NRA
13. Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova
14. Turkish Influence
15. Tax Case
16. The Trump Foundation
17. Emoluments Lawsuit

Eventually perhaps, someone will bring charges against administration officials for actions driven more by cruelty than by money: the mistreatment of migrant children held indefinitely in border camps, or the denial of entry to asylum seekers in contravention of U.S. and international law.

For now, late-night comedians are charging Trump, a man who ran for president to make the whole world stop laughing at "us," for being incredibly thin-skinned. Instead of stopping the laughs, he's become the butt of international jokes.

“Remember when he was running for president and he said he was going to come up with a plan to stop ISIS in 30 days?” Kimmel recalled Monday night. “We’re two years in, he can’t even stop Saturday Night Live, never mind ISIS.”

Commenting on Trump's disastrous on-camera meeting last week with Democrats Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the presumptive next Speaker of the House, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Seth Meyers observed Pelosi clearly got the better of the self-described dealmaker.

“I’m just going to guess that by looking at the two of them, that Pelosi is going to win. Look at the two of them. He looks like he just had a panic attack in a steam room. And she looks like Neo from The Matrix ... if he shopped at Talbots,” Meyers said.

“She’s Tom Cruz. He's Risky Business.”

Seventeen investigations and counting.


If you find what we do here to be helpful in understanding what's happening around us in this wild political era, if stopping by here from time to time gives you a little sense of solidarity with others who are going through their days as gobsmacked by events as you are, I hope you'll find it in your heart to drop a little something in the Hullabaloo stocking to help me keep the light on for another year.

The paypal buttons are on the sidebar and below as is the snail mail address.

As always I am immensely grateful for your continued loyalty and interest in my scribbles.

And I wish all of you Very Happy Hollandaise!

cheers --- digby







Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

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Flynn’s gambit flopped

Flynn's gambit flopped

by digby


In my piece for Salon this morning I linked to Marcy Wheeler's post discussing the Flynn sentencing and his lawyers' implication that the FBI had somehow entrapped the poor naive general by not telling him he shouldn't lie to federal investigators. I noted the immediate assumption in the right wing fever swamp that because the judge had asked to see the interview documents, it meant that the judge was going to stick it to the Deep State and Flynn and Trump would be somehow exonerated. Like this guy:

"The FBI said Michael Flynn, a general and a great person, they said he didn't lie. And Mueller said, well, maybe he did. And now they're all having a big dispute. So, I think it's a great thing that the judge is looking into that situation. That's an honor for a lot of terrific people," Trump told reporters at the White House.

Marcy suggested that they might regret opening this can of worms. Today the judge ordered that he interview reports be released to the public. They aren't good news. For Flynn. And Trump.

Marcy explains:

In response to Judge Sullivan’s order, the government filed Flynn’s 302 under seal. After Sullivan reviewed it, he deemed it pertinent to Flynn’s sentencing, and had the government release a redacted version.

And it is unbelievably damning, in part because it shows the degree to which Flynn’s lies served to protect Trump.

The 302 shows how the FBI Agents first let Flynn offer up his explanation for his conversation with Kislyak. He lied about the purpose for his call to Kislyak on December 29 (he said he had called to offer condolences about the assassination of Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey) and he lied about the purpose of his call about Israel (he claimed he was, in part, doing a battle drill “to see who the administration could reach in a crisis” and in the process tried to find out how countries were voting on the Israeli motion; Flynn denied he had asked for any specific action).

Then, after the Agents specifically asked whether he recalled any conversation about the Obama actions, Flynn doubled down and claimed he did not know about those actions because he was in Dominican Republic.

He was hiding two things with this claim: first, I believe Susan Rice had given the Trump Administration a heads up on what Obama was going to do (at the very least the Obama Admin had asked the transition not to send mixed messages, and at least one person on the transition says they agreed not to). More importantly, he was hiding that he had already talked about the actions with KT McFarland, who was at Mar-a-Lago relaying orders from Trump.

And Flynn again denied having had a heads up from Susan Rice when he claimed he didn’t know that Russia’s diplomats were being expelled.

Finally, Flynn offered an excuse that is at least partly bullshit for why he called Kislyak multiple times.

The reason he kept calling Kislyak was, at least in part, because he was coordinating with Trump at Mar-a-Lago. His earlier claim that he didn’t respond to Kislyak is also probably a lie; he delayed his response to contact Mar-a-Lago first.

Sullivan said this 302 is relevant to Flynn’ sentencing, so he may actually use it to justify ignoring the joint requests of Flynn and Mueller for no jail time (though I’m not betting on it).

But by giving DOJ the opportunity to present this 302 for publication, Flynn provided proof of what has been hidden all this time — why Trump responded to the way he did about this investigation.

Flynn lied to hide Trump’s involvement in all this (and, to an extent, the degree to which it involved specifically ignoring a heads up from Obama).

Flynn lied to hide Trump’s personal involvement in telling the Russians to hold off on responding to Obama’s sanctions. And when the FBI investigated those lies, Trump fired the FBI Director to try to end that investigation....

This 302 also reveals that he was quoting directly from the instructions KT McFarland had given him, relaying Trump’s orders. Here’s what McFarland said she had told Flynn, in an email shared with multiple transition officials.

She also wrote that the sanctions over Russian election meddling were intended to “lure Trump in trap of saying something” in defense of Russia, and were aimed at “discrediting Trump’s victory by saying it was due to Russian interference.”

“If there is a tit-for-tat escalation Trump will have difficulty improving relations with Russia, which has just thrown U.S.A. election to him,” she wrote.

And here’s what — quoting from the transcript of his calls with Kislyak — the Agents asked him if he said.


I have always assumed that Trump was fully informed of the sanctions calls and probably ordered them. It's obvious by what he tweeted after they were made:



If you find what we do here to be helpful in understanding what's happening around us in this wild political era, if stopping by here from time to time gives you a little sense of solidarity with others who are going through their days as gobsmacked by events as you are, I hope you'll find it in your heart to drop a little something in the Hullabaloo stocking to help me keep the light on for another year.

The paypal buttons are on the sidebar and below as is the snail mail address.

As always I am immensely grateful for your continued loyalty and interest in my scribbles.

And I wish all of you Very Happy Hollandaise!

cheers --- digby







Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

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“Bring me tariffs! I want tariffs!”

"Bring me tariffs! I want tariffs!"

by digby

I remember when Tea Partiers tore out their hair and rent their garments over government bailouts during the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes. Today ... eh:

Trump's idiotic "trade war" is to blame of course. He seems to think these subsidies will be paid for by big checks the Chinese government is writing to the US Treasury. Or something. It's very hard to understand exactly what he wants out of all this other than for President Xi to say to the world "Donald Trump is the greatest leader the world has ever known and I bow before his genius."

If this is truly a battle of wits between these two men I'm afraid we're screwed.

I think one of the most surprising aspects of this Trump debacle for me is the extent to which the government bureaucracy is impotent in the face of a cretinous conman. I would have thought that when everyone in the world knows that a president's policy, divorced from any ideology other than his own fever dreams hatched over a quarter century ago, is absurd and counter-productive there would be some way to stop it. The congress could do it but it would take a major united front led by the people who can't even muster the strength to say that foreign infiltration of our electoral system might not be a good thing. So that's out.

Basically, he can pretty much do what he wants. Recall:

The scene: The Oval Office, during Gen. Kelly's first week as Chief of Staff. Kelly convened a meeting to discuss the administration's plans to investigate China for stealing American intellectual property and technology. Kelly stood beside Trump, behind the Resolute desk. In front of the desk were U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, senior trade adviser Peter Navarro, top economic adviser Gary Cohn, and Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon.

Trump, addressing Kelly, said, "John, you haven't been in a trade discussion before, so I want to share with you my views. For the last six months, this same group of geniuses comes in here all the time and I tell them, 'Tariffs. I want tariffs.' And what do they do? They bring me IP. I can't put a tariff on IP." (Most in the room understood that the president can, in fact, use tariffs to combat Chinese IP theft.)

"China is laughing at us," Trump added. "Laughing."

Kelly responded: "Yes sir, I understand, you want tariffs."

Gary Cohn, who opposes tariffs and the protectionist trade measures pushed by the Bannonites, had his shoulders slumped and was clearly appalled by the situation.

Staff secretary Rob Porter, who is a key mediator in such meetings, said to the president: "Sir, do you not want to sign this?" He was referring to Trump's memo prodding Lighthizer to investigate China — which may lead to tariffs against Beijing.

Trump replied: "No, I'll sign it, but it's not what I've asked for the last six months." He turned to Kelly: "So, John, I want you to know, this is my view. I want tariffs. And I want someone to bring me some tariffs."

Kelly replied: "Yes sir, understood sir, I have it."


At one point in the meeting, Navarro pulled out a foam board chart. Trump didn't pay attention to it, saying "I don't even know what I'm looking at here."

Trump made sure the meeting ended with no confusion as to what he wanted.

"John, let me tell you why they didn't bring me any tariffs," he said. "I know there are some people in the room right now that are upset. I know there are some globalists in the room right now. And they don't want them, John, they don't want the tariffs. But I'm telling you, I want tariffs."

Kelly broke up the meeting and said the group would work things out and reconvene at the appropriate time.


He got tariffs. And now they are costing the taxpayers billions of dollars to subsidize all the people everyone told him would be hurt by his stupid plan that he doesn't even understand. What a system.


If you find what we do here to be helpful in understanding what's happening around us in this wild political era, if stopping by here from time to time gives you a little sense of solidarity with others who are going through their days as gobsmacked by events as you are, I hope you'll find it in your heart to drop a little something in the Hullabaloo stocking to help me keep the light on for another year.

The paypal buttons are on the sidebar and below as is the snail mail address.

As always I am immensely grateful for your continued loyalty and interest in my scribbles.

And I wish all of you Very Happy Hollandaise!

cheers --- digby







Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

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