Browsing the archives for the Trump Maladministration category.

What Is Kavanaugh Hiding?

Trump Maladministration

Grassley et al. are claiming that it’s somehow an outrageous idea to have the FBI investigate Professor Ford’s allegations. No precedent! Wrong; the White House could request that the FBI do the investigation. Anita Hill’s allegations were investigated, for pity’s sake, although not very thoroughly.

Obviously, the Republicans don’t want the FBI involved. Is that because Brett Kavanaugh would have to talk to the FBI? And, presumably, lie to the FBI? Which is a crime? That’s the only explanation that makes sense to me.  They are protecting him from having to talk to the FBI about what happened all those years ago.

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Kavanaugh Nomination Impasse

Trump Maladministration

Christine Blasey Ford is smart to demand an FBI investigation before she will testify. If the Republicans deny her that, it’s clear proof they aren’t interested in getting at the truth.

Senate Republicans wanted a set up in which it would be her testimony against Kavanaugh’s. No investigation, no corroborating witnesses or evidence. Just her word against his. Then they could pat themselves on the back, declare that she had been heard and then decide that Kavanaugh is more credible. You could see it coming a mile away.

White nationalist websites have published Professor Ford’s address. She has received death threats. She and her family have had to leave their home and go into hiding. And people wonder why she hesitated to come forward.

The Republicans may very well succeed in putting Kavanaugh on the court, but it’s going to cost them, especially in the upcoming midterms. And I think at least some of them realize that.

The only penalty-free way out of this mess for the Republicans would be for Kavanaugh to withdraw his name from nomination. I’m sure Trump is opposed to that, though. The senators may have to choose between Trump and the good of the party.

As a side note, Trump also has been hurting Florida Republicans with his denials of the Puerto Rico death count.  He put Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis in the position of having to disagree with him publicly. Trump is now especially furious with DeSantis, believing DeSantis owed him for his primary win. Professional moron and Fox News bobblehead Lou Dobbs declared that Scott and DeSantis had ignored “science, statistics and evidence” by disagreeing with President Donald Trump about how many people died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria. Trump retweeted Dobbs’s comments.

Say hello to Gov. Andrew Gillum and, possibly, Sen. Bill Nelson.


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It Ain’t 1991 Any More

Trump Maladministration

Public hearings Monday. The bobbleheads on the news already are comparing the current situation to Anita Hill’s testimony in 1991. But it ain’t 1991 any more. And a big reason Republicans are expected to lose the House in the midterms is that the gender gap is at an all-time high.

This week [August], we got a poll showing that same 24-point gender gap in the only “national” election of 2018: the national popular vote for the U.S. House. A YouGov survey found that male voters preferred the Republican candidate by 9 percentage points, while female voters preferred the Democratic candidate by 15 points. It was a bit of an outlier, but not egregiously so: A RealClearPolitics-style average1 of generic-ballot polls taken in the past two weeks reveals a gender gap of 16 points, and the two highest-quality polls from that period — Quinnipiac and Marist — each showed a gap even bigger than 24 points. If YouGov, Quinnipiac or Marist is correct, then just like 2016 broke a gender-gap record for presidential races, 2018 will have the widest gender gap in congressional elections since at least 1993.

1993? or 1992?

In 1992, 24 women were elected as new members to the House and four to the Senate, more than in any previous decade. Many cited anger over Hill’s treatment during the Thomas hearings as a reason for running.

And that was a long, long time ago, and we’ve had that #MeToo thing going on lately. Democrats don’t dare help cover Kavanaugh’s ass the way they made excuses for Clarence Thomas back then. And women are watching.

To sum up our current situation, a president who is on tape bragging about his ability to sexually assault women with impunity, who has been credibly accused of sexual misconduct by a dozen women, who emphatically supported accused abusers such as Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly and Roy Moore, and who promised that he would appoint only Supreme Court justices who would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, has appointed a man who is now accused of an attempted rape. Virtually the entire Republican Party is coming to that man’s defense, a defense that promises to include relentless attacks on the accuser. Just like what every other woman in her position goes through.

As Bloomberg News reports, the Trump team will try to discredit Ford’s credibility by raising questions about why she didn’t tell anybody at the incident at the time it happened. But every woman in the world knows why that 15-year-old girl didn’t tell anybody about it: because it would turn her trauma into an absolute nightmare. She’d be the one blamed. She’d be disbelieved, she’d be ostracized, she’d be called a liar and a slut and a hundred other names. Every woman knows that because every woman has seen it happen.

Orrin Hatch, who obviously didn’t get the sensitivity memo, has already said the allegations are not credible and the accuser is “mixed up.” And, of course, Trump Junior has been his trademark creepy self.

The choice for Republicans is to behave like the troglodyte jerks they are and treat Professor Ford as a nut and a slut.  Or, they can try to project “sensitivity.” But if they vote to confirm Kavanaugh they won’t be fooling anybody. Paul Waldman continues:

Not all of them are saying that; many Republicans are worried about how this controversy will make them look, and they’re trying to step carefully. But if they’re going to insist that Kavanaugh be confirmed, as they will, that means they’re saying one of three things:

They can say Ford is a liar who concocted this story for political effect, falsified therapist’s notes from 2012 to corroborate her story, pretended to be unwilling to go public until journalists discovered her identity, and has volunteered to withstand the tsunami of hate and death threats guaranteed to come her way on the chance that she could torpedo Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Sensitivity is as sensitivity does. See also Women Are Being Reminded of What Republicans Think of Them.


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Can Kavanaugh Be Stopped?

Trump Maladministration

There’s a lot that’s very hinky about Brett Kavanaugh besides his association with right-wing politics. See, for example, The Many Mysteries of Brett Kavanaugh’s Finances. The man has been living way beyond his apparent means.

Before President Donald Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, he had a lot of debt. In May 2017, he reported owing between $60,004 and $200,000 on three credit cards and a loan against his retirement account. By the time Trump nominated him to the high court in July 2018, those debts had vanished. Overall, his reported income and assets didn’t seem sufficient to pay off all that debt while maintaining his upper-class lifestyle: an expensive house in an exclusive suburban neighborhood, two kids in a $10,500-a-year private school, and a membership in a posh country club reported to charge $92,000 in initiation fees. His financial disclosure forms have raised more questions than they’ve answered, leading to speculation about whether he’s had a private benefactor and what sorts of conflicts that relationship might entail.

There is also copious evidence that Kavanaugh lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee during the hearings on his nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals in 2004 and 2006. See The Evidence Is Clear: Brett Kavanaugh Lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee. It took two sets of hearings because Kavanaugh was obviously, um, problematic even then.

And then there’s the little matter of a large trove of Kavanaugh documents that Republicans have managed to keep hidden from view. The Republicans have been steamrolling Kavanaugh’s hearings with all possible speed so that no one gets a chance to look at him real hard.

But now he’s been accused of sexual assault, and the accuser has gone public. Will that slow down the nomination? Greg Sargent writes,

Now that Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser has gone public with her story that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when both were teenagers, the White House and Republicans have signaled that they plan to aggressively undercut her credibility, a strategy that some conservatives have already launched.

You would think that this alone should obligate Republicans to invite Christine Blasey Ford to testify, publicly, before the Senate Judiciary Committee — before there is any vote. This would afford her a chance to defend her own recollections and character — that is, in direct, face-to-face response to the hostile questioning and extreme skepticism of Republicans, which they would no doubt throw at her if this does happen.

Bloomberg reports this morning that President Trump’s team plans to “try to discredit the charges for surfacing late in the confirmation process and to question the credibility of the accuser because she didn’t tell anybody about the incident at the time.”

This is getting old. How many times does it have to be explained why victims of sexual assault often keep quiet? It’s well known that sexual assault victims keep silent more often than not.

Meanwhile, Judiciary Committee Republicans put out a statement claiming that the “disturbing” timing of the allegations raises “questions about Democrats’ tactics and motives,” suggesting Ford’s story is the reflection of Democratic dirty tricks. Some prominent conservatives suggested that the charges are orchestrated by Democrats.

But let’s look at the accuser:

Christine Margaret Blasey Ford (born c. 1967) is an American psychologist. She is a professor in clinical psychology at Palo Alto University. Her work specializes in designing statistical models for research projects. She has been a visiting professor at Pepperdine University, a research psychologist for Stanford’s Department of Psychiatry, and a professor at the Stanford School of MedicineCollaborative Clinical Psychology Program.

This is not some nobody who was discovered by dragging hundred-dollar bills through a trailer park. This is a serious professional with a serious career who is knowingly walking into a maelstrom of ridicule and character assassination from which her personal and professional life will likely never recover.

Now the Democrats and a handful of Republicans are calliing for delaying the committee vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination until Professor Ford can be heard. She is willing to testify publicly. Kavanaugh is willing to lie about it testify publicly. I think if this steamroller can be slowed down, there’s a faint hope it can be stopped before it’s too late.

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Manafort to Plead Guilty

Trump Maladministration

So this happened:

President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has agreed to plead guilty to federal crimes at a hearing Friday morning, ending his long losing battle with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

We don’t know if any sentencing deal was involved. It’s possible that Manafort’s and Trump’s lawyers decided Manafort should plead guilty, avoid a trial that likely would look bad for Trump, and then Trump can pardon him sometime down the road, likely after the midterms. We may know something later today.

Update: Politico is reporting that Manafort has agreed to cooperate with Mueller.

The deal dismisses deadlocked charges against Manafort from an earlier trial, but only after “successful cooperation” with Mueller’s probe into Russian election interference and whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Moscow on its efforts. Later, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Manafort is agreeing to “cooperate fully and truthfully” with the investigation.

However, a source close to the defense told POLITICO, “the cooperation agreement does not involve the Trump campaign. … There was no collusion with Russia.”

Separately, the agreement calls for a 10-year cap on how long Manafort will be sent to prison, and for Manafort to serve time from his separate Virginia and Washington cases concurrently. But it will not release Manafort from jail, where he has been held since Mueller’s team added witness tampering charges during the run-up to the longtime lobbyist’s trial.

Let’s hope “the source close to the defense” is wrong.

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Is the Fix In?

Trump Maladministration

There’s been talk that Manafort might be discussing a plea deal. However, Politico reported something else this morning that clouds the issue quite a bit.

Giuliani also confirmed that Trump’s lawyers and Manafort’s have been in regular contact and that they are part of a joint defense agreement that allows confidential information sharing.

“All during the investigation we have an open communication with them,” he said. “Defense lawyers talk to each other all the time, where, as long as our clients authorize it, therefore we have a better idea of what’s going to happen. That’s very common.”

So, allegedly the Trump team knows what Manafort knows. Stay tuned.

Elsewhere, Trump is complaining that the revised death toll in Puerto Rico is a fake number put out to make him look bad. Even some Republicans are backing away from that one.

Rep. Ileana Ros Lehtinen (R-Fla.) told reporters she believes the figure of nearly 3,000 is sound.

“What kind of mind twists that statistic into ‘Oh, fake news is trying to hurt my image,’” she said. “How can you be so self-centered and try to distort the truth so much? It’s mind boggling.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), whose Senate bid has been endorsed by Trump, said in a tweet that he disagreed with the president, relaying that “an independent study said thousands were lost” and that he had been to Puerto Rico seven times and “saw the devastation firsthand.”

Also, Senate Democrats Have Referred A Secret Letter About Brett Kavanaugh To The FBI.

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Heck of a Job, Trumpie

Trump Maladministration

As we wait for Hurricane Florence to hit the east coast, Sen. Jeff Markley revealed that the Trump Administration raided the FEMA budget to pay to incarcerate children. Nearly $10 million was transfered from FEMA to ICE to pay for detention camps.

Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon, said on MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show” that the administration is taking money from “response and recovery” and “working hard to find funds for additional detention camps.”

FEMA has countered that the money specifically was taken from the agency’s budgets for travel, training, public engagement and information technology work, and not from the rescue and recovery budget.

“I would dispute the statement that this has no bearing on … addressing the challenges from hurricanes,” Merkley said.

You be the judge.

CNN received a copy of the document from Merkley’s office. It details the effects the transfer would have on FEMA’s operations and from where in the budget the money would come.

“FEMA will curtail training, travel, public engagement sessions, IT security support and infrastructure maintenance, and IT investments in the legacy grants systems for transition to the Grants Management Modernization Program,” the document reads.

It still sounds like weakening FEMA, which was pathetic enough already, to pay for ICE.

And The Creature actually tweeted this morning,

Literally nobody is giving Trump A Pluses for Texas and Florida, and the only reason Puerto Rico wasn’t Trump’s Katrina on steroids is that the networks couldn’t or wouldn’t do the same kind of real-time, up-close coverage they did in New Orleans.

Last month the Houston Chronicle reported on Harvey recovery in Texas.

It’s been nearly a year since Hurricane Harvey ravaged the region and for many the road to recovery appears to be mostly complete. They are back in their homes and upended lives are now mostly righted.

Then there are the others: the overlooked, the still-displaced, those who have been thrown into financial peril. They now suffer from unexplained medical problems, probably the legacy of slogging through contaminated floodwaters. Others battle with an anxiety that does not ease.

As the anniversary approaches, don’t tell them Hurricane Harvey is past.

As with most things in America, upscale areas were put right quickly while the poor and vulnerable were left to rot.

Nearly a quarter of those surveyed said their financial situation is worse, and 1 in 6 report their overall quality of life has gone down.

Four in 10 also said they are not getting the help they need to recover and rebuild their lives. Their biggest needs are housing, finances and help navigating the different assistance systems.

Not an A Plus. D plus, maybe. But Puerto Rico definitely is an F. Richard Wolffe:

After almost 3,000 civilians died in the terrorist attacks on 9/11 there were multiple hearings, investigations, reports and commissions. Everything from airport security to national security changed. But after a similar number of civilians died in Puerto Rico, there have been only two hearings with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (Fema) administrator.

That’s in spite of the multiple contracting debacles by Fema that we already know about. There was the $156m food contract that went to an Atlanta contractor with a single employee, whose track record was so bad that the company was supposedly barred from getting new government cash. That contractor handed the job to a wedding caterer, who unsurprisingly couldn’t handle the work.

Fema wrote an additional $30m contract for half a million tarps to protect people from the rain, but the tarps never arrived because the two brothers running the newly-formed company had no idea how to source them. That represented a third of Fema’s spending on tarps at the time.

In one hearing, Fema administrator Brock Long said those bungled contracts were just a handful among many thousands of good ones. Perhaps he’ll use the same excuse to respond to the recent report from the Government Accountability office, that found that more than half of Fema’s employees were unqualified to do their job after Maria. The agency also couldn’t find enough Spanish speakers to help out. We don’t know how many more Fema scandals there are because the GOP leadership in Congress refuses to investigate further.

So maybe taking nearly $10 million from FEMA doesn’t matter, because they probably would have pissed it off anyway.

Wolff also notes that the Red Cross spent less than half of the money it raised for Puerto Rico in Puerto Rico, and somehow managed to piss off a lot of what it did spend. I absolute do not ever give money to the Red Cross any more.

Finally, yesterday we learned another sad statistic — that FEMA received 2,431 requests for funeral assistance related to Hurricane Maria and approved only 75 of them. Maybe we should just abolish ICE and hand out all the money saved in the budget to the people of Puerto Rico. Not the government, directly to the people. With a letter of apology.

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John Bolton Plays Tough Guy

Trump Maladministration

It has been truly said of John Bolton that somewhere there’s a cave full of bats wondering where their shit went. Ed Kilgore writes,

The U.S. has had an up-and-down relationship with the I.C.C. — founded to provide sanctions against individuals committing war crimes, crimes against humanity, and acts of genocide — since it was founded by the Rome Statute in 1998. Bill Clinton signed the statute in 2000 but did not submit it to the Senate for ratification, saying he wanted to observe the I.C.C.’s record first. George W. Bush formally renounced any U.S. obligations to the court when it began operating in 2002. Barack Obama announced a policy of cooperation with the I.C.C. as an observer nation.

Now the pendulum is swinging back with a vengeance, as Bolton labeled the court “illegitimate” and “dead to us.”

“Dead to us”? The Guardian reported,

Bolton vowed that the United States would retaliate by banning ICC judges and prosecutors from entering the US, imposing sanctions on any funds they had in the States and prosecuting them in the American court system.

“If the court comes after us, Israel, or other US allies we will not sit quietly,” he said, also threatening to impose the same sanctions on any country that aided the investigation.

He condemned the inquiry into war crimes in Afghanistan as an “utterly unfounded, unjustifiable investigation” and the court as illegitimate.

“We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead,” Bolton said.

He said the US would negotiate more binding, bilateral agreements to prohibit countries from surrendering Americans to the court in The Hague.

So Bolton is like …

And then, showing appreciation of the subtle finesse required to settle delicate international disagreements, the Trump Administration closed the PLO office in Washington, apparently to bully the PLO into caving to Israel. Yeah, sure, that’ll work.

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We’re All Bleeped

Trump Maladministration

Right now I feel as if we’re on an endless loop of Trump Is Awful and the country is completely bleeped up. What else is new? I’d like to believe that there’s a faint hope Kavanaugh, who has been thoroughly outed as a liar and partisan tool, won’t be confirmed. It could happen if all the Dems and just a couple of Republicans vote no, but we are repeatedly told that’s not going to happen.

And the possibiity of a solid Dem vote is considered even more unlikely than the couple of Republican votes. This is why the lame “rallying” cry “vote blue no matter who” doesn’t work for me.

Try to think of something cheerfull.


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Democrats Are Spartacus?

Trump Maladministration

This happened this morning:

During a round of remarks before the questioning kicked off, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said he was going to release an email titled “racial profiling,” which the senator referenced Wednesday, that had been designated committee confidential.

Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) had complained that Democrats had been asking Kavanaugh about confidential documents without going through the process he laid out of getting permission to make them public.

“I come from a long line, as of all us do as Americans, of understanding of what that kind of civil disobedience is and I understand the consequences, so I am, before your process is finished, I’m going to release the email about racial profiling,” Booker said. “And I understand that the penalty comes with potential ousting from the Senate.”


After Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said he was willing to violate Senate rules and release confidential documents, Senate Democrats on the committee appeared in open revolt as Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) read aloud from the rules on expulsion. Raj Shah, a White House spokesman, also tweeted the rules on Thursday morning.

Cornyn read aloud from rules stating that a senator who discloses “the secret or confidential business” of the Senate could be “liable … to suffer expulsion.”

Booker responded by saying: “Bring the charges.” His comment was echoed by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who said: “Apply the rule, bring the charges. All of us are ready to face that rule.”

“This is about the closest I’ll ever have in my life to an ‘I am Spartacus’ moment,” Booker said.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) also joined in, saying: “If there’s going to be some retribution against the senator from New Jersey, count me in.”

Their comments were echoed by Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who tweeted during the debate: “I stand w/ Judiciary Committee Democrats who are well within their rights to release these very important documents that a former Kavanaugh deputy designed as ‘committee confidential.’ The American ppl deserve to know the truth about Judge Kavanaugh’s record. #WhatAreTheyHiding?”

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have been protesting the extraordinary secrecy and changes from standard procedure surrounding Kavanaugh’s paper trail. Republicans clearly are determined to railroad Kavanaugh’s approval, apparently believing he wouldn’t survive an open and deliberate process even with a Republican majority in the Senate.

One leaked letter has made headlines for casting doubt on Kavanaugh’s claim about Roe v. Wade being “settled law,” but I think this is even more interesting.

In another document, Judge Kavanaugh expressed a critical view about some Department of Transportation affirmative action regulations, writing:

“The fundamental problem in this case is that these DOT regulations use a lot of legalisms and disguises to mask what is a naked racial set-aside,” he wrote, adding that he thought the court’s four conservative justices at the time would probably “realize as much in short order and rule accordingly.”

[Read the email.]

Still another includes language about Native Hawaiians that could prove problematic not only to Hawaii’s two Democratic senators but to Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, a key swing vote who guards the interests of Native Alaskans. In the email, Mr. Kavanaugh questions Native Hawaiians as a protected group like Indian tribes. He wrote that prepared testimony “needs to make clear that any program targeting Native Hawaiians as a group is subject to strict scrutiny and of questionable validity under the Constitution.”

Anyway, I would like to see Chuck Grassley expel all the Democrats on the committee. There isn’t anything democratic about this nomination, and they might as well admit it.

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