Thursday, October 31, 2019

Happy Halloween

Many Halloweens ago, the philosopher Linus Van Pelt offered some advice which will get you through the 2019 holiday season.  

There are three things you must never discuss: Religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin.

A personal note: Unless my situation improves, I may pop into the emergency room today. My usual symptoms are making themselves known, though not too severely. But for the past two days, I have also had the strangest back pains (or middle-of-the-torso pains) I've ever felt. Hate to sound like a hypochondriac, but that sort of thing can indicate a heart problem, though back pain as a cardio symptom usually occurs in women.

I tend to have girly heart attacks. It's my one concession to gender fluidity.

Don't worry: I have every intention of living long enough to see the Great Pumpkin driven out of his oval pumpkin patch.   

Although I don't really have the energy to write a proper political post this morning, I do want to draw your attention to this disturbing piece of news...
President Trump earlier this week asked for a show of hands from hundreds of wealthy donors in Chicago if they supported letting former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich out of prison, according to several people who attended.
The rest is hidden behind a paywall, but I don't think we need more. Why the hell is Blago the only Democrat Trump likes? Why does the Papaya Palpatine seem obsessed with helping the guy? And why on earth would he take that unpopular step before the 2020 election?

In a previous post, I argued that such a gesture would be yet another quid pro quo. The following refers to Obama's days as a state senator in Illinois...
Senate Bill 1332.

Remember that number. Bring it up anytime someone asks why you have the crazy idea that Barack Obama is corrupt.

Senate Bill 1332 was Obama's baby. The legislation -- completely unneeded, from the standpoint of the public -- reduced the state's hospital board from 15 to 9, and insured that the corrupt governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, would control the board which controlled a huge pile of public funds.

The corrupt members appointed included three doctors who contributed to Obama.
Those words first appeared in these pages back in 2008. I suppose that Obama's minor-league corruption as a state senator seems trivial when compared to Trump's outlandish criminality. But if Blago were to walk out of prison and spill all the beans, Obama's reputation -- and the reputation of the Democratic party -- would take a major hit.

Is Trump planning to use Blago as a weapon against the Dems? I believe so. Does Donald Trump have any other motive for helping Rod Blagojevich? Before the election?

Hiding the evidence is a crime. Vindman said that White House lawyer John Eisenberg was the one who decided to place the Zelensky transcript onto the ultra-secret "spy-stuff" computer. Yesterday, I quoted a tweet from a guy who insisted that Michael Ellis made the call. Eisenberg or Ellis? Either way, the decision was against the law (CFR § 17.22).

Lock him up! Lock the whole lot of 'em up!

Tweet tweet tweet. Here are some stray observations I found noteworthy..

Is Hunter worth "millions"? I doubt it.

Is Don Jr. NOT a "really rich guy," even though this source puts his wealth at $200 million?

Can anyone really argue that Don Jr. is something other than corrupt? I'm not just talking about his "power breakfast" with Lev Parnas at the Polo Lounge, or his Trump Tower meeting with all of those Russians. (Incidentally, I never could understand why it was so awful for the Clinton campaign to pay Fusion GPS -- an American firm -- for oppo research but perfectly all right for the Trumps to ask Putin's gang for oppo research.) And I'm not just talking about the Trump organization's flagrant violations of the emoluments clause. I'm talking about this kind of corruption.

I'm also talking about the under-discussed report that Jared Kushner received $90 million from foreign sources, funneled "through a vehicle run by Goldman Sachs in the Cayman Islands." (Remember when Trump sneered at Goldman during the campaign?)

Everybody must get Stone. David Corn argues that the Roger Stone trial could have an impact on the impeachment inquiry. Don't expect Roger to roll over on the man with the pardon power. Still, we could learn a few interesting things...
Though the trial will determine whether Stone tried to bamboozle a congressional investigation, it could answer two bigger questions about the president: Did Trump use (or try to use) Stone as a conduit to WikiLeaks, and did Trump lie to special counsel Robert Mueller? The former might not be illegal; the latter could be a crime.
During the campaign, Roger bragged about being in contact with Assange. Later, Stone said that he had lied about those contacts. In other words, his defense in court will be: "I'm a big liar. And I dress weird."

If you visit the link given above, you'll see a heavily redacted page from the Mueller report. Corns suggests that the name "Roger Stone" lay beneath the blackness. Maybe it does. Consider this instance: "[Redacted: Harm to Ongoing Matter] were discussed within the Campaign, and in the summer of 2016, the Campaign was planning a communications strategy based on the possible release of Clinton emails by WikiLeaks."

We need the unredacted Mueller report, and we need it now.

It was obvious in 2016 that Guccifer 2 was a front for Russian intelligence. Even I figured it out. (Guccifer used Russian software and he occasionally wrote under the name Felix Edmundovich, a shout-out to the founder of the Cheka, the Tsar's spy agency.) For my money, Stone's communications with Guccifer 2 are all we need to prove collusion.

Yet Bob Mueller, bless his heart, felt otherwise. That guy was way too cautious. I'll say it again: Why does this country insist that Democratic presidents be investigated by Republican special prosecutors while Republican presidents must be investigated by...Republican special prosecutors?

I like that phrase: "Harm to Ongoing Matter." That summarizes Roger Stone's entire life, doesn't it? Those words could be the title of his biography. The words on his tombstone. A t-shirt. The legend on the welcome mat outside his front door.

Finally: I'm feeling a little better now, but things are still just a bit, you know, horrible. Hm. Do I say "Hi" to those nice folks at the E.R. or not? Conundrum! If I'm anywhere near a computer later today, I may write something seasonally appropriate. Until then, au revoir.
Get yourself to the doctor or emergency room. That's what they're there for. It's probably nothing, but probably isn't good enough where your health is concerned. I may not agree with you on everything, but I've seen too many people with disastrous health outcomes because they weren't aggressive enough where their health was at risk. I would hate to see that happen to you.
Hope you get better! Sucks especially on a holiday.

Regarding why Mueller was so cautious in his investigation, I have a theory that Rosenstein actually handcuffed the investigation on the instruction of the Trumpers. Every indication is that Rosenstein was willing to go along with Trump's shit (remember he helped him fire Comey), and the mystery has always been why was he willing to protect Mueller? My guess, given the surprising level of caution by Mueller, was that Trump was convinced that Mueller couldn't be fired, but he told Rosenstein to handcuff the investigation as much as possible. One big instruction was that he told him to make sure there was "no collusion", so Rosenstein made sure the special prosecutor mandate was only to investigate a before-the-fact conspiracy with the IRA and GRU, a claim not even the most wild Russia believers ever made. The other big instruction was to make sure nothing came of the Trump Tower meeting so Mueller made the ridiculous argument that Trump Jr. was essentially too stupid to commit a crime. It would also explain why it seems like there are all of these investigative threads that just get abandoned in the report. Also, given that Meuller is the consummate rule follower, they knew this strategy would work because he would not defy his boss, Rosenstein.

In short, Trump told Rosenstein to make sure the mandate to Mueller was so narrow that Trump could claim "No collusion!" and spin that to a victory. Which is exactly what happened. It's purely a hunch, but something has always felt "off" both about how abruptly Mueller finished his report and how the investigation seemed designed fro Trump to brag about "No collusion!"
Here to second both joseph and nemdam.

@Joseph, go to your doctor or ER. Just do it, don't wait.

Really, we need your insights.

@nemdam: What you wrote sounds like less a hunch, more a good interpretation.

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