Category: U.S. Politics (Page 1 of 26)

Barr report finds potential obstruction of justice — Still waiting on the Mueller report

The big news from Attorney General William Barr’s brief letter about the contents of the unreleased Mueller report is that Trump might be guilty of obstruction of justice. While Barr argued that, in his own judgement, he did not think there was enough evidence to charge Trump with a crime, he nonetheless confirmed that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team had found much evidence of possible obstruction of justice and included it in the report.

What is that evidence in particular? We will not know until the Trump administration actually releases the Mueller report. Media coverage of Barr’s letter has been distorted, focusing on Barr’s letter as if it represents the Mueller report.

Headlines include:
“A Cloud Over Trump’s Presidency Is Lifted,” Peter Baker, New York Times
“Trump, falsely accused of collusion, faces new onslaught of obstruction accusations,” Byron York, Washington Examiner
“For Democrats, the Mueller report turns their politics upside down,” Dan Balz, Washington Post

The Washington Post headline strangely refers to “the Mueller report” even though no such report has been released. By now, after the Trump administration has lied about everything from the crowd size of the inauguration, the results of the 2016 election, the size of his electoral college victory, and whether or not they met with Russian officials, the press and observers should know enough to not immediately take anything the Trump administration says as the gospel.

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Trump: I’m the most successful president ever

Donald Trump told Fox News’s Sean Hannity that he is the most successful president ever. This comes from the same megalomaniac who thinks he had the largest crowd size in history, who thinks he is more popular than Abraham Lincoln, and who thinks he actually won the most votes in the past election.

So for someone who is the most popular president ever, what has he accomplished?

He failed, multiple times, to repeal Obamacare.

He hasn’t even gotten started building a wall, despite two years of unified Republican control, and he hasn’t even tried to get Mexico to pay for it.

He couldn’t even get Congress to pay for it.

His attempt to end protections for “Dreamers” is stalled in the courts.

He left Hanoi with nothing, and North Korea hasn’t been denuclearizing for the past year either.

He has gotten some things done, most of which any ordinary Republican president would have done, like cutting corporate taxes and estate taxes, but he hardly goes down as the most successful president in history.

Trump’s intel chiefs were right, what a surprise!

After Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats testified before Congress that North Korea was a much bigger threat than illegal immigration from Mexico and unlikely to give up its nuclear weapons capabilities, Trump lashed out at intelligence.

“I disagree with certain things that they said. I think I’m right,” Trump said, citing no evidence. He also expressed through Twitter, “The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong!”

He skipped the next intel briefing because of it (though his disdain for being informed about intel has been publicly known since early on).

Turns out Trump was wrong. And Trump was forced to concede to the facts when he left his meeting with Kim Jong-un early with no deal.

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About the Black Hebrew Israelites

The Black Hebrew Israelites, a group of black activists who call themselves one of the lost tribes of Israel, has been in the news this week due to a banal confrontation they had with some Native American activists and Catholic school boys who were in Washington, DC for different protests.

Reportedly, the Black Hebrew Israelites were yelling vitriol at the Native Americans and Catholics, and then eventually one of the Native Americans approached the Catholic boys and started playing the “American Indian Movement” song.

It is not surprising to Washington DC residents to see the Black Hebrew Israelites engaging in unhinged rants, hate speech, and personal attacks. They are a cartoonish group that often sets up shop around the city–especially outside the Chinatown metro station during the summer–and shouts about their nutty beliefs, complete with attacks on individuals passing-by and those crazy enough to engage them, like an evangelical on a college campus. The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled some of their sects hate groups.

Here is a video I briefly recorded of them yelling at a Hispanic man this past summer:

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White-on-white crime is a bigger problem than “immigrant crime”: Why doesn’t Trump care?

Donald Trump gave a television broadcast in support of his wall last night with his typical mix of anecdotes, exaggerations and outright lies all mixed into a demagogic gloop and served in a tiring Trump voice. It has been called “an insult to the nation’s intelligence” by Vox’s Zack Beauchamp and a “wet fart Oval Office address” by The Daily Beast‘s Rick Wilson, while Mark Thiessen called the speech “presidential” in The Washington Post.

His main message was, as usual, that illegal immigrants are responsible for a massive crime wave. The message is wrong on multiple levels. Illegal immigration has declined precipitously since Obama took office. Most research shows that immigrants (both legal and illegal) commit crimes at a lower rate than American-born citizens. That is why Trump and his fellow opponents of immigration (both legal and illegal) always have to cite anecdotes so viciously.

But they always ignore anecdotes about Americans murdering each other, especially if those Americans are white Americans. It’s the same old story. In the run-up to the 2016 election, Breitbart fear-mongered about refugee children having committed a crime against a white girl (and lied in order to trump up the details), but the outlet entirely ignored a murder that took place in the same city Breitbart sent its writers to report from. Because the logic is the same, I now present the article I wrote on it, originally published at Medium:

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Trump’s foreign policy views distorted by pro-Russian, pro-Saudi distortions

Donald Trump espoused inaccurate and incoherent claims about Russia and Iran at a January 2 cabinet meeting that call into question whether he should be making foreign policy decisions for the United States.

Trump defended the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan and seemed to support Soviet domination of Eastern Europe:

Russia used to be the Soviet Union. Afghanistan made it Russia, because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan. Russia … the reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there. The problem is, it was a tough fight. And literally they went bankrupt; they went into being called Russia again, as opposed to the Soviet Union. You know, a lot of these places you’re reading about now are no longer part of Russia, because of Afghanistan.

Russia invaded Afghanistan to try to support a pro-Soviet government. But Trump either has no idea what the Soviet Union was or actually thinks the Soviet Union was justified in colonizing Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan, and imposing its will on the satellite states. By saying, “Russia used to be the Soviet Union,” Trump is in fact making no distinction between Russia and the component states of the USSR. He’s saying that Ukraine was itself part of “Russia.”

Next, Trump blames Iran for the war in Yemen—even as the United States provided bombs for Saudi Arabia to drop on Yemen and logistical assistance for most of Trump’s two years in office.

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Conservative press whines about WaPo’s accurate coverage of Trump’s Iraq trip

The president visited Iraq…
…and the Washington Post reported that the president visited Iraq…
…and now the Wall Street Journal is outraged that the WaPo reported that the president visited Iraq.

Is there anything the “liberal media” can do that won’t cause the conservative media to cry “liberal bias”??? Perhaps if they lied, the right-wing grievance-mongers would like them more, since they don’t seem to like it when the press reports facts. In fact, 80 percent of the Republican Party does seem to prefer falsehoods over truth, evidenced by their continued support for a certain president.

Here is the WSJ editorial board’s frantic attempt to find something to be outraged about.

President Trump touched down Wednesday in Iraq in his first visit to a conflict zone as commander in chief, a week after announcing a victory over the Islamic State that his own Pentagon and State Department days earlier said remained incomplete.

The president’s visit to Al Asad Air Base west of Baghdad, which was shrouded in secrecy, follows months of public pressure for him to spend time with troops deployed to conflicts in the Middle East and punctuates the biggest week of turmoil the Pentagon has faced during his presidency.

  • WaPo

[C]an anyone reading those opening two sentences wonder why millions of Americans believe Donald Trump when he tells them that he can’t get a fair shake from the press?

  • WSJ

Can the Wall Street Journal actually find anything untrue or unfair in those passages? Did Trump not visit Iraq? Did Trump not ignore professional advice and announce a withdrawal from Syria without planning? Did his announcement not leave the Pentagon blindsided and scrambling to come up with a half-workable process?

If Trump’s management of foreign and domestic policy is incompetent and chaotic, it’s not the fault of the press.

Conservative blogger Ann Althouse adds:

I can barely read the news these days (and I absolutely cannot watch it on TV). The negativity toward Trump is so relentless, cluttering up everything.

“Negativity.” If only the press just pretended everything were all right instead of reporting objectively.

Loser Trump feels self-pity about being president

Donald Trump whined this morning about having to be president and having to be in the White House.

“I am all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come back and make a deal on desperately needed Border Security,” he wrote on the social media site Twitter.

He provided no rationale for why “Border Security” is the most important issue, despite the fact that the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. hasn’t increased since 2006. This, at a time when the stock market is crashing and his foreign policy is in chaos; there are many issues more pressing than border security.

He also pressed for “wall” funding. If border security and “the wall” was so important, why didn’t he do it during the two years Republicans had control of both houses of Congress?

He’s trying to blame the Democrats for the Trump shutdown, but Trump himself said on December 11 in a meeting with top Democrats that he wouldn’t blame them. And the Senate–including all Democrats–already unanimously passed a funding bill. Trump simply refused to sign it.

In fact, on December 19, Trump said he didn’t need border funding to sign a bill and that he would find money elsewhere. Trump is the one who is moving the goalposts and breaking his word.

In another Trumpian tweet, he said, “I am in the Oval Office & just gave out a 115 mile long contract for another large section of the Wall in Texas. We are already building and renovating many miles of Wall, some complete.”

If the “wall” is going forward so well, then why does he need funding? Why not just keep doing it however he is pretending to do it?

Incoherent Trump compared Federal Reserve to golfer

Donald Trump has become predictable. He has no policies, just attacks. As usual, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average crashing by over 600 points today, Trump took to the offensive on Twitter, whining about the Federal Reserve.

“They don’t have a feel for the Market, they don’t understand necessary Trade Wars or Strong Dollars or even Democrat Shutdowns over Borders. The Fed is like a powerful golfer who can’t score because he has no touch – he can’t putt!” he said.

The Fed has nothing to do with tariff policy or immigration. And a strong dollar makes it more expensive for other countries to purchase American goods, so Trump calling “Strong Dollars” “necessary” is completely at odds with the purported goal of his trade war.

Trump’s trade war has hit the U.S. economy badly this year.

As I noted in my column in late November:

Agriculture has been particularly hard hit by retaliatory tariffs. Soybean exports to China since July have been close to nothing. The U.S. hasn’t come close to making it up in exports to the rest of the world. In October 2018, U.S. soybean exports globally were half of what they were in October 2017.

American manufacturers that use metal sourced from overseas to produce final goods are also paying a heavy price. While foreign-produced steel is more expensive due to tariffs, the price of domestic steel has also skyrocketed due to artificially increased demand for the stuff. In the first week after steel tariffs were announced in March, prices for steel made in the U.S. rose by 35 percent. The American Enterprise Institute published an analysis in October that said American steel prices are the most expensive in the world.

Caterpillar, a construction equipment company, and Ford have both seen their stock prices drop by over 20 percent over the past six months. Precor, a company that makes exercise equipment, says its material costs are rising.

The Dow has dropped by more than 2,000 in the last month and is about 2,300 points down since the start of the year.

It has to be hurting Trump’s pride. This is someone who bragged about “record” stock market highs multiple time a week his first year in office.

He can’t do anything to respond, because he’s a man of no policies. All he has is whining. The Federal Reserve is supposed to be free of political interference–for good reason; we wouldn’t want a self-interested president like Trump to abuse the process to try to prop up an economic bubble for political purposes.

But Trump has also consistently failed to execute his proclaimed policies on issues within a president’s legitimate scope of influence. Consider how he never got wall funding even with Republicans controlling Congress for two years or how Obamacare repeal failed in part because of Trump’s utter ignorance on the issue and inability to make a case.

Trump is whining today, and he’ll be whining tomorrow and the next day.

Marines concerned about abandoning allies

In a stunning move to many civilians, Secretary of Defense James Mattis tendered his resignation from the Trump White House, effectively giving a two months notice while citing mutually irreconcilable differences when it comes to philosophy. Many Marines see this as a fulfillment of his commitment.

This resignation is by far the most significant departure from the Trump White House. Mattis was a uniting force that caused some “Never Trump” Marines to get begrudgingly on board. It also comes on the heels of the current administration announcing her full withdrawal from Syria.

Mattis made clear his feelings on abandoning allies in his resignation letter. In it, he cast some major shade at Trump but stayed classy about it as Mattis is wont to do. When contacted about this, many Marines both active and prior service were reluctant to divulge their true feelings, but the overall sentiment is that abandonment is bad and we should not abandon our allies in Syria and that Mattis may be abandoning us.

There is fear that Turkey will invade Syria when we pull out as per Mike Fonda, a decorated US Marine who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan under the stars and stripes only to return to the Middle East to fight for YPG, a local Marxist militia.

Other Marines were worried about an unleashed Trump with no Mattis to reign him in. “I don’t know,” said Elizabeth West, “Are people going to remember this as a slap at Trump or as the time he abandoned us to a madman?”

This is an overarching concern of Marines. West comes from a military family and is currently out of the service so has full rights to talk shit about the administration. 




In his resignation letter, Mattis has committed to staying till February to get a replacement up to speed and to do so before the change over of the joint chiefs scheduled in September.

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