Friday Talking Points -- Muellermas Eve?

[ Posted Friday, February 22nd, 2019 – 18:25 UTC ]

The news media -- once again -- has been in a frenzy over the possibility that Robert Mueller will wrap up his investigation next week and issue his long-awaited report. They've gone down this road before, as have President Trump's legal advisors (who have been telling Trump the whole thing is going to be over very soon now for almost a solid year and a half). So you'll forgive us for not being all that convinced that this is indeed the time that Lucy won't pull the football away, and we'll finally get to kick it thumpingly down the field!

Perhaps we're being a wee bit too cynical? Maybe. But then again, maybe not. We'll see what next week brings.

Even if Mueller's report does drop next week, we also have to caution everyone that nobody outside of his investigation has any real idea what will be in it. And it may take awhile for the public to even learn what's in Mueller's report, even if he does hand it in next week and closes up shop. The attorney general has the discretion to either release all of the report, some of it, a summary of it, or none of it. If he chooses any path other than "release all of it" then House Democrats are going to immediately begin work to obtain their own copy, of course, so the likelihood that it'll stay forever buried is probably pretty darn low.

Will Mueller's report contain the smoking gun that impeachment enthusiasts have been dreaming of? Will it show clear criminal activity by the president and his family? Will it lay out the case for impeachment so plainly that even Republicans are forced to agree?

Again -- maybe, but maybe not. Mueller's team has set the record for being the least leaky group in all of Washington, so nobody knows what will be in their final report, even at this late date. It could be earth-shattering, but then again it could be a wet firecracker. In other words, all the guilty pleas and convictions so far may have been the biggest news after all. Nobody knows, at this point, and anyone who tells you differently is lying. Mueller's team just doesn't leak, so it's impossible to tell.

Meanwhile, the scandal-creation machine that is the Trump White House just keeps grinding along. Now, however, the Democratic House is beginning to shed some light on them:

Key members of the Trump administration pushed a plan to sell nuclear power plants to Saudi Arabia in the months after the inauguration despite objections from members of the National Security Council and other senior White House officials, according to a new report from congressional Democrats. The 24-page report from the House Oversight and Reform Committee is based on internal White House documents and the accounts of unnamed whistleblowers. It said the objectors -- including White House lawyers and National Security Council officials -- opposed the plan out of concern that it violated laws designed to prevent the transfer of nuclear technology that could be used to support a weapons program.

The possible sale of nuclear power plants to Saudi Arabia was discussed in the Oval Office just last week. The meeting included Energy Secretary Rick Perry, representatives from the NSC and State Department, and a dozen nuclear industry chief executives, one of the people present told The Washington Post.

The report, key elements of which were confirmed by people directly familiar with the matter, cites whistleblowers who said that the Trump appointees "ignored directives from top ethics advisers who repeatedly -- but unsuccessfully -- ordered senior White House officials to halt their efforts."

Let's see... why would they do such a thing? Perhaps because of ulterior motives?

The report released Tuesday notes that one of the power plant manufacturers that could benefit from a nuclear deal, Westinghouse Electric, is a subsidiary of Brookfield Asset Management, the company that has provided financial relief to the family of Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and a senior White House adviser. Brookfield Asset Management took a 99-year lease on the Kushner family's deeply indebted New York City property at 666 Fifth Ave.

Meanwhile, in New York City, two other buildings voted to remove the Trump name from the front of the building. Seems the Trump brand is now officially toxic, when it comes to New York real estate.

Trump's former buddy Roger Stone also found himself in some hot water, after sending out an image of the judge who is hearing his case complete with a crosshairs icon next to her head. The judge was not amused, to say the least, and hauled him into her court to explain. When Stone attempted to do so, she responded: "Thank you, but the apology rings quite hollow," before instituting a total gag order on Stone, so that he cannot talk about his case at all anymore while it is ongoing. She also warned him that if he violated the order, she'd then send him to jail to await trial. Stone, notably, did not strike his trademark "Nixon's V-for-victory stance" when leaving the courtroom.

Let's see, what else? Trump's pick to replace Nikki Haley as U.N. ambassador had to hastily withdraw her nomination when nanny problems were uncovered. This follows all the news of Trump properties' longstanding practice of using undocumented immigrant labor, which is strange seeing as how Trump is supposed to not approve of such things.

Add to the "non-apology apology" Trump's newest invention: the "non-condemnation condemnation." After a Coast Guard officer was arrested on domestic terrorism charges for stockpiling weapons with the alleged intent to kill Democratic politicians and left-leaning journalists, Trump was silent on the issue. Right-wing terrorism doesn't fit his model of the universe, where only Muslims and Mexicans can ever be considered terrorists. Finally he was forced to address the arrest, and all he could come up with was: "I think it's a shame. I think it's a very sad thing when a thing like this happens." Wow. That's about as passive a statement as can be imagined, and contains not an iota of actual condemnation. Very fine people on both sides of the issue, perhaps?

Last week, of course, Trump announced a national emergency that was so dire and imminent that he immediately left to play golf for a few days in Florida. Thus continuing the trend of "reality under Trump being so unbelievable that no Hollywood director would listen to it as a script idea."

This week came the pushback. Sixteen states, led by California's Attorney General Xavier Becerra, sued the Trump administration in court over the emergency declaration. One of those states (Maryland) actually is led by a Republican governor (who is, incidentally, thinking of taking on Trump in a GOP primary challenge).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just announced a vote next Tuesday on a congressional resolution rescinding Trump's emergency. It already has enough cosponsors to pass the House, but to date this only includes one Republican. It's going to get even tougher for Senate Republicans, since if the measure passes the House as expected, they'll be forced to hold their own vote on it. According to one whip count, ten Republican senators "are on the record supporting [Trump's national emergency declaration], 17 have expressed concerns, and four have spoken in opposition to the order. The other 22 GOP senators have avoided taking any public stance on it." Only one -- Susan Collins -- has expressly said she'd vote for the resolution overturning Trump's declaration. Democrats will need four Republicans to do so to pass the measure, so they're currently three short. It will probably take a few weeks before Mitch McConnell holds this vote, so the time is now to let wavering Republicans hear from you.

Adam Schiff wrote a poignant letter pleading with the Republicans to vote for the measure, pointing out (without getting snarky) what rank hypocrisy it would be for them to agree with Trump now after railing against presidential "imperial" powers in the past. But we're saving that for the talking points.

In the presidential race, one Republican, Bill Weld of Massachusetts, announced he'll be taking on Trump in the Republican primaries. As mentioned, Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland is also reportedly considering a run. No word yet from John Kasich, who took Trump on last time around (and has been a thorn in his side ever since).

But the big news came from the Democratic side, as Bernie Sanders tossed his hat in the ring once again. He then immediately raised a cool six million dollars from small donors on his first day in the race, blowing away all the other candidates' totals. Bernie engenders strong feelings from Democrats, although not all of them are warm feelings. He still has pretty high negatives within the party's rank-and-file, but his supporters seem to be just as avid as ever, so he is already a force to be reckoned with in the race.

In all the media coverage of Bernie's launch, there was one interesting note. The fact-checkers at the Washington Post examined a slogan Bernie's been using: "The Walton family makes more money in one minute than Walmart workers do in an entire year. This is what we mean when we talk about a rigged economy."

They broke this claim down, and discovered that the Walton family earns over $3.1 billion in dividends a year -- and that's not even counting salaries, director's fees, etc. This works out to $1.51 million per hour, or $25,149 each minute (using a 40-hour workweek).

Walmart workers, on the other hand, earn on average $24,960 per year.

Bernie's claim was thus given zero "Pinocchios." For being absolutely true, it earned the rare "Geppetto checkmark" instead.

Elsewhere on the Democratic campaign trail, while many candidates are struggling with whether to fully support things like slavery reparations and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's "Green New Deal," Amy Klobuchar is charting a different course. Klobuchar seems to be positioning herself as the most centrist Democrat in the field, which is an interesting strategy. Time will tell how successful this will be with the Democratic electorate, but for now she seems to be the only one striving for the middle ground.

OK, that's about it for this week. Next week, of course, Trump will be in Vietnam for his second love-fest with Kim Jong Un of North Korea. The last time around, Trump got played and walked away with little-to-nothing. This time around, expectations are pretty low as well. But there'll be plenty of spectacle to watch on the news, that much seems certain.

And, of course, next week may contain "Muellermas." So there's that to look forward to, as well.


Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week

We have two Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week awards to hand out this week, because we found we just couldn't pick one or the other of them.

Before we get to them, though, we also have a Honorable Mention for the West Virginia teachers who flexed their political muscles once again this week. They began a strike in protest of a bill which would have allowed school vouchers and charter schools in the state, and mere hours later the legislature killed the bill. They remembered what happened last time, apparently, and quickly folded. The teachers scored a big win, and all it took was walking out of work for a single day. That's incredibly impressive, we have to admit.

But as we said, there were two main contenders for the MIDOTW award this time around. The first needs no real introduction. Senator Bernie Sanders announced his second presidential run this week, and immediately launched himself into frontrunner position. He raised a whopping $6 million in small donations within 24 hours, easily beating the other candidates' first-day hauls by a mile (in second place was Kamala Harris, with $1.5 million).

Sanders began his announcement by pointing out that all the things he ran on before were ridiculed by many Democrats at the time as being radical and unworkable pie-in-the-sky schemes -- but almost all of them have now become mainstream both within the Democratic Party and among the American public as a whole. Medicare-for-all, a $15-an-hour minimum wage, debt-free college -- all were dismissed as being extreme, back in 2016. Now they are all solid planks in the Democratic platform. Bernie certainly deserves the lion's share of the credit for this sea-change. Which -- much more than him being the six-million-dollar man -- is why he deserves another Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award.

Our second MIDOTW this week goes to House candidate Dan McCready, down in North Carolina. He "lost" the election last November to Republican Mark Harris, because of massive election fraud. This week, the election board finally held their big hearing on the election, which resembled a soap opera at times. Harris's own son was the one to provide the damning evidence that Harris knew full well the consultant he hired was a "shady character," and after he heard his son's testimony Harris broke into tears. The next day, he stunned the audience by calling for the election to be held over -- exactly what McCready has been fighting for all along.

The board then voted unanimously to hold a new election. There is no word yet on whether this will include a primary, but because the GOP election fraud was likely ongoing during the previous primary, this would seem to be required for the new election to be seen as fair. Harris refuses to say whether he's going to run again, but at this point he's pretty much damaged goods.

Now, whether McCready actually wins the new election or not, his fight for justice was impressive on its own. Elections are often challenged in America, but it's rare indeed that they are overturned or thrown out. McCready was undaunted by these long odds, though. He may win the re-election or (especially if the GOP nominates a different candidate) he may not. Either way, for winning his fight for a new election to be held, Dan McCready deserves a Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award.

[Congratulate Senator Bernie Sanders on his Senate contact page, to let him know you appreciate his efforts. Dan McCready is a private citizen at the time, and it is our policy not to provide contact information for such persons, sorry.]


Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week

We don't really have any good candidates for the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week this week, unless we've forgotten someone obvious (please feel free to nominate one in the comments, as always).

We do, however, have updates on two former winners of the MDDOTW award.

Virginia's Governor Ralph Northam appears likely to hang on to his office, as the dust settles from his racist yearbook photo being made public. He was going to start a "reconciliation tour" of the state soon, but the college he had set for the launch abruptly asked him to reschedule. So it looks like that will have to wait little while longer.

However, new polls are out which show that Northam has done a good job of turning public opinion back around. Virginia voters say (by 48 percent to 42 percent) that Northam should not resign. Only 60 percent of Republicans want to see him step down, which is pretty low for the opposition party's opinion. Only a third of Democrats (and 31 percent of black voters) think he should resign. This means he's weathering the storm and is likely to serve out the rest of his term.

Our other update on past disgraced Democrats concerns Anthony "Carlos Danger" Weiner, who is now out of prison. He was serving a term for sexting with a 15-year-old girl, which happened after he had been caught cheating on his wife twice previously.

Weiner, more than any other individual, probably had more to do with Hillary Clinton's 2016 loss, since he was married to Huma Abedin, Clinton's longtime close advisor. At the end of the 2016 campaign, just as Hillary thought she was putting the whole email scandal behind her, Anthony Weiner was arrested again for his contacts with underage girls. His computer was seized, and it was this computer which led then-F.B.I. head James Comey to make the late announcement that the investigation into Clinton's emails had been reopened -- mere weeks before the election. Who knows how things would have played out if this hadn't happened? What did happen was the issue went right back to being front and center for Clinton right as she entered the election's homestretch. So a case can easily be made that Weiner's criminal misbehavior led directly to Hillary's loss in November.

But, like we said, neither Weiner nor Northam really did anything last week to justify getting another Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award. So we'll just have to put it back on the shelf until next week.


Friday Talking Points

Volume 519 (2/22/19)

We've got lots of issues to plow through this week, so let's just get right to it, shall we?


   Trade war fallout

This needs pointing out now, since the Chinese-U.S. trade talks will soon be in the news in a big way.

"So how is Donald Trump's trade war affecting American farmers? Well, let's take a look at the data that Trump's own Agriculture Department just put out. Farm exports in 2019 are expected to plunge $1.9 billion compared to last year. Soybean exports over the past year have plummeted by 90 percent, which is directly due to the tariff war with China. In 2017, China was the top foreign purchaser of American farm goods. Already, it is down to fifth place -- a difference between buying six percent of total U.S. exports now versus buying 18 percent back in 2104. Farm income is way down, farm bankruptcies are way up, and even the taxpayer subsidies that Trump had to give farmers affected by his trade war aren't making up the difference. In fact, you could say that Trump is singlehandedly destroying the American farm economy."


   Republican hypocrisy (part 1)

[Sound of crickets...]

"Where are all the Republicans who regularly rant and rave about non-existent voter fraud when a real case of election fraud is uncovered? North Carolina's ninth congressional district will be holding their election all over again because the first one was so badly tainted by a Republican campaign consultant. For the first time in memory, a clear case was laid out of tampering with people's ballots on a massive scale, and yet Kris Kobach and all the others are silent? Where are all those folks who regularly obsess over voter fraud now that we've got a clear case of it? Why is their silence so deafening? Perhaps it was all just a partisan ploy after all, seeing as how they don't seem to be at all concerned about election fraud when it is their team perpetrating the fraud."


   Republican hypocrisy (part 2)

Nancy Pelosi has announced the House will be voting Tuesday to rescind Trump's border wall national emergency declaration. House Democrats are already on board, but it needs pointing out that Republicans who vote to uphold such a breathtaking presidential power grab are nothing but hypocrites, after all their talk of reining in Barack Obama and other Democratic presidents. Nothing pointed this out better than an open letter Adam Schiff wrote this week in the Washington Post, so we decided to run the key paragraphs from this letter instead of trying to rewrite the same idea:

To my Republican colleagues: When the president attacked the independence of the Justice Department by intervening in a case in which he is implicated, you did not speak out. When he attacked the press as the enemy of the people, you again were silent. When he targeted the judiciary, labeling judges and decisions he didn’t like as illegitimate, we heard not a word. And now he comes for Congress, the first branch of government, seeking to strip it of its greatest power, that of the purse.

Many of you have acknowledged your deep misgivings about the president in quiet conversations over the past two years. You have bemoaned his lack of decency, character and integrity. You have deplored his fundamental inability to tell the truth. But for reasons that are all too easy to comprehend, you have chosen to keep your misgivings and your rising alarm private.

That must end. The time for silent disagreement is over. You must speak out.

This will require courage. The president is popular among your base, which revels in his vindictive and personal attacks on members of his own party, even giants such as the late senator John McCain. Speaking up risks a primary challenge or accusations of disloyalty. But such acts of independence are the most profound demonstrations of loyalty to country.


   Wall still polling badly

For a trademark issue, Trump picked one without much popularity.

"Sixty percent of the American public disapproves of Donald Trump faking a national emergency to get his precious wall built. The same percentage don't think there is an emergency at the border at all. A clear majority of the country think the president is misusing his presidential power and that he should be challenged in court. But all Trump cares about is his base. He's planning to run for re-election on two contradictory positions -- that he is already building his wall, therefore he should be re-elected, and that the wall isn't being built, therefore he should be re-elected to get it done. While some may be capable of believing such doublethink, happily the majority of Americans disagree."


   Campaign strategies

This divide needs pointing out by all Democrats.

"Heading into the 2020 election cycle, Democrats are pushing hard to add the requirement that presidential candidates publicly release their tax forms in order to be included on the ballot. They're pushing this at the national level with their H.R. 1 bill, and they're pushing it on the state level, as in New Jersey and other places. Additionally, all the Democratic candidates have sworn not to use any stolen or hacked data in their campaign, while Donald Trump refuses to make the same pledge. Hey, it worked out for him last time, right? But Democrats believe elections should be transparent instead of allowing underhanded tactics to be used. The difference between the two parties' position couldn't be starker."


   Why not 7G?

Just for fun....

"Donald Trump this week tweeted, and I quote, I want 5G, and even 6G, technology in the United States as soon as possible. It is far more powerful, faster, and smarter than the current standard, unquote. The only problem with this is that 6G doesn't actually exist yet. So implementing something that doesn't exist is going to be quite the technological challenge! I mean, if we're just making stuff up, why not reach for the moon and promise 7G technology? Why should Americans have to settle for 6G when we could all be enjoying 7G tech in Trump's fantasyland?"


   How to deal with a charlatan

This was a footnote in the news this week, but there's a point to be made.

"This week, a conspiracy-loving and dangerous individual who defrauded his followers died. Lyndon LaRouche was a constant presidential candidate who ran in the Democratic Party. He was nothing short of a nutjob, a crank from the far fringes of the political universe. He spent time in jail for ripping people off, but that didn't stop his presidential ambitions. However, the Democratic Party as a whole -- both the national party and the voters who make up the rank and file -- never bothered to even give LaRouche the time of day. They shunned him completely. Now just imagine where we'd be today if both parties had treated their tinfoil-hatted conspiracy theorists the same way...."

-- Chris Weigant


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Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground


55 Comments on “Friday Talking Points -- Muellermas Eve?”

  1. [1] 
    Mezzomamma wrote:

    Hypocrisy 1--

    You'd think that a bland, meaningless party statement would write itself: disappointment, not up to the standard expected, one rotten apple, call for probity from all parties in all campaigns, etc, etc.

    They could even work in a Dems just as bad line if they tried.

  2. [2] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    i think nancy pelosi also deserved honorable mention for holding a successful vote against the phony wall emergency, and justin fairfax deserved dishonorable mention for going kavanaugh on allegations of sexual assault. just my humble opinions.

    i am not against all walls. what i am opposed to is a dumb wall. a rash wall. a wall based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics, a cynical attempt by culture warriors like steve bannon and bill o'reilly to shove a racist agenda down our throats. you want a barrier mr. trump? try respecting the barrier between branches of government.


  3. [3] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    hmm, 5G pie? myrecipes recommends 6G

  4. [4] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    TP -5 "Campaign Strategies"

    "No hacked or stolen" dirt??? Give me a gawdam break! Does ANYbody believe that ANY politician, of ANY political stripe, is going to forego capitalizing on his/her opponent's scandals, illegalities, immoralities, etc., regardless of the source!

    Time to rejoin the real world here, folks!

  5. [5] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    more likely, they don't currently have any means at their disposal to gain such things, and so feel safe pledging not to.

  6. [6] 
    neilm wrote:

    CRS doesn't seem to understand that trafficking in stolen goods is a crime, and that stealing emails by hacking is also a crime.

    Let me put it simply for you. If I broke into your house and stole copies all the letters you wrote and received, then gave them to a competitor that used the contents of them to make people buy their goods instead of yours, you'd be dialing the cops pretty fast.

    Same situation.

  7. [7] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    neilm missed my point. He thinks I said hacking was legal, but I said no such thing.

    What I did say was that NO POLITICIAN is going to forego using ANY dirt that is uncovered by ANYbody by ANY means, legal or illegal, to smear his opponent.

    Contradicting me on that only serves to verify that he is among those that need to "rejoin the real world"!

  8. [8] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    so... CRS, what you're basically saying is that democratic politicians may also pledge that they will not exceed the speed limit, nor run any red lights, since they almost certainly will, but will probably not get caught?

  9. [9] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:


    No, not really that either. That implies that it would be illegal for the politician in question to use the dirt that had been discovered illegally but NOT by him, and I would claim that such would NOT be illegal,(although you're right, I also believe he would use it anyway).

    It's only tangentially related, but the weirdest part of the whole backstory of the Russian "collusion" episode that Kick guaranteed us would bring about Trump's downfall is that the "dirt" the Russian lady lawyer promised Trump Jr NEVER MATERIALIZED!

  10. [10] 
    neilm wrote:

    CRS [9]

    The stolen information was released on Wikileaks and open to everybody. However the hackers broke the law stealing the emails in the first place.

    What we asked Mueller to find out was the role of the Trump campaign in directing the thefts. Since the principal protagonist asked the Russians to hack Clinton’s emails it is a fair question. It is also suspicious that a meeting with Russians connected with the agencies involved in hacking at Trump Tower was covered pub Trump with a story about orphans.

    Given the prior activities of Trump’s onetime campaign manager with these same Russian groups, an investigation is warranted.

    Mueller has good investigative resources at his disposal. Let’s hope he finds out the truth.

    Your dismissal of all this reeks of desperation that you will be shown to have been duped by paper thin lies and deflections, however your ego isn’t Mueller’s or my concern.

    As always, time and Mueller will tell. Patience is the only thing the rest of us need unless we are nervous.

    I’m not nervous. If there was no involvement by the Trump campaign so be it. If there was, I hope the guilty parties are not let off by people who put party affiliation ahead of the United States of America. Frankly I’m not optimistic that many people’s ego is less important to them than our country and I expect there will be a significant percentage of the population in that sad group. Will you be one of them?

  11. [11] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:


    Yes indeed, "The hackers broke the law stealing the emails in the first place", and far as I'm aware, that is a universally accepted fact. And the devious bastards have all been indicted, and are about to find themselves in deep shi - I mean trouble. I've heard that Sarah Palin can hear them from her house, shaking and trembling with fear - or could it possibly be laughter?

    Definitely, "an investigation is warranted", and it's in fact a done deal. Read all about it, every shocking detail, in the lead Huffpost article this very minute. Time and patience are no longer even necessary.

    You perpetually appear lose sight of the fact that NOBODY would cheer louder than this "smug egomaniac" if the Russian collusion WERE to rid us of the burden of the asshole-in-chief, but sad to say, it ain't gonna happen

  12. [12] 
    neilm wrote:

    "but sad to say, it ain't gonna happen"

    I agree. But in turning over the rocks a lot of other things have been exposed. This is the start of the real investigations into Trump's business deals.

    This is when the entertainment starts because, unlike the Mueller investigation, most of this will be out in the open.

  13. [13] 
    neilm wrote:

    "but sad to say, it ain't gonna happen"

    I agree.

    But we could both be surprised - we are not dealing with a very intelligent family here, and Mueller and the SDNY may be able to bring Manafort and Stone to the realization that they are going to spend the rest of their lives in jail if they don't sing.

    I think we are both assuming that the Russians were smart enough not to involve Don Jr. or the clown-in-chief himself, but maybe they are just as cartoonish as the Trumps.

    And we are also assuming that Trump and Don Jr. weren't so stupid as to do something obviously illegal and then leave behind an incriminatory paper or email trail - so if anything we are assuming the Trumps are not as stupid as they seem on the surface.

  14. [14] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    "I agree" (that it ain't gonna happen).

    Please pass the word along to Kick. She still thinks I've been lying to her these 2 1/2 yrs. Maybe it'll carry more weight coming from a fellow Democratic.

    I'll kinda hate to lose her, but she asks for it.

  15. [15] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    kick is not a democrat, nor is she a member of the democratic party. remember: grammar, it's the difference between knowing your sh*t and knowing you're sh*t.

  16. [16] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Everybody here is a Democratic except for me. If not in name, for whatever reason, then in fact.

  17. [17] 
    TheStig wrote:


    .....knowing your sh*t, knowing you're sh*t AND making an
    *ss of yourself in the process.

  18. [18] 
    TheStig wrote:

    CW- so there's a Peanuts Muellermass Special....i guess every holiday has to have one now. Is Mueller voiced by a trombone...or is the trombone the Acting Attorney General? Is Trump Pigpen? We are cheapening Muellermas....and
    I hate putting up the lights...and taking them down.

  19. [19] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    why do all these pc people have to say happy muellerdays?

  20. [20] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Muellermas will come and go without a sound, as Mueller has better stored up for us later. So the story goes. I don't think he's anywhere near ready right now, and congress is just getting started..

  21. [21] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    neal katyal says in the times that mueller's report will be brief and leave a lot to be done by other agencies - less the beginning of the end than the end of the beginning.

  22. [22] 
    TheStig wrote:

    I'm surprised that Wednesay's unanimous ruling against Police Seizure of Property wasn't mentioned in FTP or other columns. Did I miss something? I've always thought the practice to be blatantly unconstitutional and an express lane to police corruption. Why did this take so long???? Express lane to corruption.

    I'm pleased that RBG got to write the opinion....while recovering from surgery no less. Her power to weight ratio and overall durability must be the highest in the human species.

  23. [23] 
    TheStig wrote:

    On a related note to comment 24, has anybody poked Justice Thomas with a stick lately? Just to be sure?

  24. [24] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    All of the "We can't stand the reality of Trump's election, so we're going to pretend into perpetuity" contingent of the population of the land of Weigantia need to go instantly to Huffpo's lead article, "MUELLER MEMO HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT".

    Turns out "perpetuity" isn't nearly as far down the road as you've been pretending.

    But hey, if it will hold the wrist-slashing to a bare minimum, I promise not to be "smug", not to say 'Na-na-na-na-na', nor 'Told-ya-so', not to revel in your misery, etc. etc. etc.

    Oh, what the hell, maybe I well revel just a little.

  25. [25] 
    neilm wrote:

    Huffpo's lead article

    Two things:

    1. Isn't it odd the right winger is insisting we all pay attention to Huffpo - let's face it, it is a clickbait aggregator targeted to make the left feel good - sort of an honest version of Hannity for the left

    2. How many times do you have to learn that nobody but Mueller knows nothing - yet again you promised that the report was coming out next week, and yet again Mueller pulled the football away from you.

    in order to keep your hopes alive until next week, when I expect you all to follow in the steps of that famous old-time WWII Japanese pilot, I forget his name, something like Harry Carey.

    - CRS 2/20/19

    No seppuku for you!

  26. [26] 
    neilm wrote:

    Farm exports in 2019 are expected to plunge $1.9 billion compared to last year. Soybean exports over the past year have plummeted by 90 percent, which is directly due to the tariff war with China.

    [tldr: China needs a trade deal as desperately as Trump and both are going to play it as a win to their home audiences]

    In a prior job I used to travel to China to present at financial services conferences, and got to see their capital markets structure in some detail - even, or maybe especially, back then the foundations were weak, and to my eyes at any rate, subject to government interference (and not the good sort from e.g. the SEC over here).

    I was selling risk analysis and management software, and at one meeting met with the CIO of their version of the SEC in Beijing. Before the CEO arrived there were about 8 VPs who all had high quality U.S. educations and we had a very interesting chat about the structure of the capital markets, where the strengths and weaknesses were, etc. The CIO finally arrived and all the VPs shot out of their seats to attention, so our side of the table did as well. My translator, sitting next to me, got ready for work, and the CIO started talking in rapid Chinese, then switch to very broken English (which was still far better than my Mandarin, to be fair) and started a very strange lecture on how America was doomed because we didn't manufacture anything. This went on for a while, then he decided his work was done and left.

    It was later explained that the CIO was a political plant put in to ensure that there was compliance to the internal power structure, and that this was common in China. I had a similar meeting in Shanghai, when the CIO of one of the exchanges insisted we go to a North Korean restaurant for a very expansive lunch where they only took cash (on my dime of course - we had to all empty our wallets to come up with enough paper - the North Korean establishments don't like American Credit Cards). And again I got a lecture on the Chinese way.

    As I got to know more of the Chinese, both in my company and in the markets and regulatory bodies, it became more and more clear that China had a serious problem with financial structural integrity.

    I keep an eye on China to this day, and an article in the NY Times summed up my increasing concerns that President Xi's focus on individual control may be hastening a presipice:

    NY Times, China’s Entrepreneurs Are Wary of Its Future, February 23, 2019

    Chen Tianyong, a Chinese real estate developer in Shanghai, boarded a flight to Malta last month with no plans to return anytime soon.

    After landing, Mr. Chen, a former judge and lawyer, shared on social media a 28-page article explaining himself. “Why I Left China,” read the headline, “An Entrepreneur’s Farewell Admonition.”

    “China’s economy is like a giant ship heading to the precipice,” Mr. Chen wrote. “Without fundamental changes, it’s inevitable that the ship will be wrecked and the passengers will die.”

    “My friends,” he urged, “if you can leave, please make arrangements as early as possible.”

    Trump obviously miscalculated by adopting a pose that forced President Xi into a position where he could not back down - this was a dumb, but given Trump, an expected mistake by the U.S. Trump's base are bearing a lot of the pain, a deliberate action of the part of the Chinese (targeting soy beans). China is also hurting, but this may be more due to internal policies than the trade war, however the trade war and Trump in particular are a good smoke screen for President Xi, however his policies and attempts at deep and intrusive control over his people are the real long term problems for China, and the underlying foundations, particularly their capital markets, are far too weak to bear any stress.

    As Warren Buffet says, when the tide goes out you see who is swimming naked. If China's growth slows, we will see a lot of naked Chinese institutions and they will not be pretty.

  27. [27] 
    neilm wrote:

    As an after thought, it always surprises me that America get's so wound up in perceived threats.

    The whole of Honduras could arrive at our borders and we could absorb them, and in 10 years we would see our GDP shoot up.

    The most powerful industrial nations in both Europe and Asia were swept aside by the U.S. simultaneously in the 1940s. The next most powerful nation on Earth after WW2 tried to take on the U.S. and lasted 40 miserable years before the USSR fragmented.

    Japan came back in the 1980s as the USSR was fading and bought Pebble Beach and we were told we had lost WW2. Japan then got swept aside and China started growing and are the new bogeyman.

    There is a common theme here. As long as America accepts new ideas and new people, and let's markets work in positive ways (we had to break up the Trusts in the early 1900's - markets are not panaceas), our model will succeed and we will keep growing - faster than anybody can keep up (China may take over as the largest economy, but only because they have 4x the people we do, and I'm not convinced they will manage to keep their growth rate over time).

  28. [28] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Of all the inane, ignorant, stupid exclamations that have emanated from the font of insanity that is our president, by far the most egregiously stupid has been "Trade wars are easy to win".

    The man is too ignorant to comprehend the fact that in trade wars there ARE NO WINNERS! Trade only takes place when both parties benefit, but that basic fact is far beyond his comprehension.

  29. [29] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    There is a high probability that if it does indeeed turn out that getting advice, information, etc. for your political campaign, even from evil Commies, is NOT illegal, and in the absence of any big scandals, the official "Mueller Report" will never SEE the light of day, meaning the Huffpo version is all you're gonna get.

    So, is that going to suffice to keep all the Democratic's hopes up forever that if we just wait LONG ENOUGH, verbal "collusion" will eventually turn out to be illegal and Trump will be gone prior to end of his first term???

    Sorry, that's too inane to keep me from "reveling".

  30. [30] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    neilm [30]

    Re "The most powerful industrial nations . . were swept away . . in the 1940's . . "

    More like 'Bombed away', weren't they? That wouldn't be an easy scenario to duplicate these days.

  31. [31] 
    neilm wrote:

    Dianne Feinstein is setting herself up for a MDDOTW award if the stories coming out about her interaction with the California schoolkids is accurate.

  32. [32] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    The 'full' version of the video tells a different story. So it goes.

    Y'know, I'm all in with S.E. Cupp that Dems have to stop the carnage during primaries. These sorts of petty personal attacks are ramping up, and it's just unseemly.

  33. [33] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Not to mention: counterproductive. What are thy thinking? The object is stopping Trump. The rest is noise.

  34. [34] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    neilm [29] - And I was just about to congratulate your post - very insightful. The soybeans thing is interesting to me (I drink soy milk), so I keep up.

  35. [35] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    thomas is probably pondering retirement, now that kavanaugh has replenished the court's creepy sex criminal contingent.


    it's christmas that has twelve days - muellerfied or not, chanukah still only has eight.


    of course getting campaign help from foreign interests is criminal; that's in the election law code. a more apt question would be whether it's prosecutable, or whether it's the kind of thing where authorities are hamstrung in court and tend to look the other way, except at the end of the month or when someone seriously pisses them off.


  36. [36] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    So oder so...

    One thing's for sure, the GOP are all in.
    The right-wing of America have to hope (and no doubt, pray their tiny minds out) Trump wins the next election. Either way, this way or that (so oder so) it's a clinical, political foil for dems to run on...'let's see the Mueller report in its entirety, or when we retake the White House, we'll make it public.'

    Political faits' accompli are mainstream fodder these days, why not push it down Trump's throat? why not use the hammer of tax returns, Trump Tower Moscow, 666 Shithole st and Saudi nuclear-sale cash-grabs--(note how the conspiratorialists of the right have gone quiet on this outrage, while they embraced the Clinton uranium bullshit like it was akin to Benedict Arnold's betrayal!)-- a main stream media issue? Even the dimwitted FOX crowd can't hide from an inundation of these subjects. Much as Hannity would have them believe otherwise, there's a Trumpian swamp, all of his own brewing, therein.

    The Mueller conclusions aren't as vital to the well-being of the USA as they're made out to be, insomuch as national security spins on a dime, but the report seems very important to Trump and his political survival. Unless Trump s'tfu, acquiesces and lets it roll over him prior to the election, it surely will when he packs his bags in January 2021.

    Two words that will unhinge Trump in any national presidential debate....'sealed indictments'


  37. [37] 
    goode trickle wrote:

    The whole CRS thing could have been shortened simply by dragging out this little gem...

  38. [38] 
    goode trickle wrote:


    Whats your take on how the ag sector will fare should a deal with China get done?

    China has signed some pretty long term agreements with Brazil and Mexico for the primary grain imports and is looking to sign some deals with Chile and Central American countries for the other fruits and veggies. US meat imports to China have likewise been spread around.

    Personally I see a large drag on the economy coming once the trump ag subsidies run their course.... which should be about now.

  39. [39] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    another thing about chanukah/hanukkah, it's not really all that important, not even in the same universe as christmas except perhaps commercially. so muellerkah would probably be more consistent with CR stucki's conception of the event - a great big show about not all that much.

    until the christmas season in the US became a secular institution, jewish kids got their presents on purim, which generally falls in march (or occasionally the end of february). also, while christmas and easter are the most important christian holy days, chanukah ranks about seventh in terms of its religious importance to jews.


  40. [40] 
    goode trickle wrote:

    A couple of last drive by thoughts.

    If trump is willing to declare a national emergency for a stupid wall, what is to stop him from declaring one in 2020 should he lose the election?

    What is going to be the Dems response to trumps large scale propaganda/re-election campaign? How will they address the fact that he has two of the largest media conglomerates in his pocket? Will Dems start oversight on WH spending at rallies and how the presidential seal is used at campaign events (much like the GOP did to Obama)?

    While not trying to out-trump, trump will be key to winning (IMHO) and a positive motivational message is a must. The Dems need to figure out how they will address the issues posed by running against a narcissistic, media centered person in the short term if they plan on coming out of the primary season with a chance of winning.

  41. [41] 
    TheStig wrote:


    I would add that WWI initiated the decline of European economic power and left many of them in massive debt to the US. Much of Allied debt was transferred to Germany by means of war reparations. European debt financed the US economic boom of the 1920's and the industrial infrastructure remained largely intact, if not very busy, through the Great Depression. The Second World War left the US as the only major player left standing.

  42. [42] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    Popcorn, popcorn...

    I hope you all have your Orville's at the ready, the two dictators (a direct quote from FOX NEWS) are at it again. Cohen, meanwhile back at the farm, gets to completely upstage Trump with his spectacle in front of a congressional can't make this shit up. No doubt Cohen will get blasted by the Trumpian water-carriers on the committee, and no doubt the dems will push him on the 'pre-presidential' Trump business dealings to which we've hitherto had clarity.

    Any way you slice it, the next few days are going to be splendid theatre...with trump playing the fool in all productions.



  43. [43] 
    neilm wrote:

    Whats your take on how the ag sector will fare should a deal with China get done?

    I think the trade will snap back fairly quickly - the U.S. has the transportation infrastructure in place and will have a glut to swamp the markets with to re-establish their position.

  44. [44] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Regardless of when it lands, the Mueller report is going to 'explode' with a faint dull thud, the biggest anticlimax since the last time Kick or I had sex.

  45. [45] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    poet [38]

    No, "Getting campaign help from foreign interests" is NOT criminal. Getting "MONEY", or comparable "things of value" is criminal.

    Yes, there is room for judicial review of whether advice, information, suggestions, etc. were included in the "things of value" in the intent of those who worded the law, but when that concept runs up agains First Amend. arguments, it's gonna LOSE!

  46. [46] 
    Paula wrote:

    FWIW: Paul Waldman in WaPo:

    The piece is about whether CONGRESSIONAL candidates from either party in purple areas need to be "moderate" to attract voters from the other party. Per the data the answer is "no" coz it doesn't work anymore.

    Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz shared with me an analysis he did of the effects on House elections of the district’s presidential vote, whether there’s an incumbent running, and whether that incumbent is more or less ideologically extreme.

    Here’s what his results show. Up through the 1990s, while there was still a fairly strong relationship between presidential and House votes, the other two factors mattered a lot too. Incumbents did far better than non-incumbents, even controlling for their district’s partisanship. And being more moderate was a big help.

    But by the time you hit the 2008 election, ideology has stopped making a difference. A moderate or a far-left liberal will do equally well if their district looks roughly the same. And by 2016, the effect of incumbency is reduced from a huge benefit to a tiny one.

    “Incumbents still get reelected at a very high rate, but the reason is that the large majority of them are in districts that favor their party,” Abramowitz told me.

    He goes on to say that people seem to be voting based on "party" now - and with the goal of getting control of the House - not voting for individuals. Speculates that's in part because of loss of local media but rise in social media means ppl are less in touch with local politics but more in touch with national politics and thus grasp the significance of control of chambers.

    Doesn't address POTUS candidates.

  47. [47] 
    Paula wrote:

    Meanwhile, Kevin Drum has a Green New Deal idea I agree with: via @MotherJones


    I can’t think of an example in all of human history where a large polity—let alone the entire world—willingly made significant sacrifices in service of a fuzzy, uncertain hazard that’s decades away. We are overclocked hairless apes who are simply not designed to think that way. Why would anyone deny this?

    This, then, circles back to what I was saying a couple of days ago: A climate plan that requires significant sacrifice might work on planet Vulcan, but not on planet Earth. Assuming otherwise is nonserious. We need a plan that will work with only homo sapiens to carry it out, and that means a plan that takes into account human selfishness and shortsightedness. It means a plan that will appeal to China and India and Brazil and the rest of the world. It means a plan that will somehow reduce atmospheric carbon a lot even while most of us sit around fat, dumb, and happy.

    The only such plan I can think of is one that increases global R&D spending on climate mitigation by, oh, 10x or so. Maybe 20x if it’s feasible. This money would be spent on developing new sources of clean energy and energy storage; reducing the price of current sources of clean energy; figuring out ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere; and pretty much anything else that seems remotely useful. The fruits of this research would be turned over to the private sector for free, and they would then compete to sell it all over the globe. This would harness human selfishness instead of fighting it. It’s not guaranteed to work, but unlike the GND and similar manifestos, at least it’s not guaranteed to fail.

  48. [48] 
    neilm wrote:

    Paula [52]

    The french put on yellow jackets and started burning cars partly because taxes were being raised for green causes.

    I think Kevin Drum is on the right track. But I do think that converting gradually (over a decade or so) from income taxes to carbon taxes would be very effective, and would require most of us to do nothing but help ourselves lower our taxes by switching off heating/AC in empty buildings, driving more fuel efficient cars, etc.

  49. [49] 
    Paula wrote:

    [53] neilm: yep.

    [54] Stucki: Kevin isn't offering a "plan" in a serious way, he's offering some suggestions to make the larger point which is that no one is going to get anywhere by demanding wide-scale voluntary sacrifice. Humans don't operate that way and ppl who benefit directly from problems don't provide solutions that will de-benefit them. Instead you have to create incentives for everyone and effort should be expended to figure out how those might work. A big part of that is aiming money at it, but in ways that pay back. If you start programs to retrofit buildings and create jobs and nourish new related industries you get your $ back in the end while benefitting workers and the environment. Etc.

  50. [50] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    first amendment? how is hacking and publicly as well as privately soliciting others to hack a first amendment issue? cyber-crime is crime too.

  51. [51] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:


    The thing that got the whole collusion nonsense started was simply a verbal exchange between the Russian lady lawyer who told Jr. that she had some "dirt" (gossip, scandal nobody knows what 'dirt' actually was, 'cause it never happened) on Clinton. Having a conversation, even with a Commie, is ALWAYS gonna be protected by the first amend.

    Doesn't even matter where the 'dirt' came from.

  52. [52] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    the thing began when donald announced in a july speech that he wanted russia to look for hillary's e-mails. the meeting with don jr. and Natalia Veselnitskaya came out much, much later.


  53. [53] 
    Kick wrote:


    Oh, stop! You're making way too much sense! ;)

    you want a barrier mr. trump? try respecting the barrier between branches of government.

    Very well said, sir. :)

  54. [54] 
    Kick wrote:


    Comment 3 has nothing to do with One Demand.

    No one cares.

    Helpful hint for DH: Your initials suit you. :)

  55. [55] 
    Kick wrote:


    It's only tangentially related, but the weirdest part of the whole backstory of the Russian "collusion" episode that Kick guaranteed us would bring about Trump's downfall is that the "dirt" the Russian lady lawyer promised Trump Jr NEVER MATERIALIZED!

    Your flailing, ignorance, and lack of reading comprehension skills are again duly noted. As is your modus operandi on this board, you're overly concerned about one tiny aspect of the myriad of laws that have been violated by Trump, the Trump campaign, the Trump children, and the seedy moblike persons with which he perpetually surrounds himself.

    What seems completely lost on you as demonstrated repeatedly by your uninformed repetitive spew is the fact that whether or not "dirt" promised by any foreign national ever "materialized," violations of campaign finance law have been violated despite your repeated protestations to the contrary, and it's illegal if someone in the Trump campaign joined a conspiracy, aided and abetted a crime, or actively concealed a crime. Can you grasp that fact? It's not that complicated a legal concept.

    How many times must I reiterate to the morons like yourself who can't seem to grasp the concept of conspiracy who keep prattling on and on about "collusion"? How many times must it be explained to the idiots living in the right-wing bubble whining about "collusion" that what we're witnessing in front of our eyes is likely conspiracy? How many times must I use the words RICO and conspiracy to pierce that incomprehension that you're living with?

    Here, let me help you yet again: A conspiracy is simply a legal term for an agreement to commit a crime. One aids and abets in the commission of a crime if they know about criminal activity and actively try to make it succeed.

    If you can finally grasp the conspiracy concept and stop spewing the ridiculous right-wing talking point about "collusion," maybe then... and only then... will I explain to you the term "misprision of felony."

    Your initials also suit you well, old man. :)

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