May 18, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 9:41 PM

IT'S AN IMPEACHMENT REFERRAL:

GOP lawmaker says Trump's conduct meets 'threshold for impeachment' (Colby Itkowitz, May 18, 2019, Washington Post)

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), a critic of President Trump who has entertained a run against him in 2020, became the first Republican congressman to say the president "engaged in impeachable conduct" based on the Mueller report.

The Michigan lawmaker, often the lone Trump dissenter on his side of the House aisle, shared his conclusions in a lengthy Twitter thread Saturday after reviewing the full report by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

Amash wrote that after reading the 448-page report, he had concluded that not only did Mueller's team show Trump attempting to obstruct justice, but that Attorney General William P. Barr had "deliberately misrepresented" the findings. He added that "few members of Congress even read Mueller's report."

"Contrary to Barr's portrayal, Mueller's report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment," Amash wrote.

Posted by orrinj at 6:09 PM

THE REASSURANCE CANDIDATE:

At campaign rally, Biden decries Democratic 'anger' and pledges unity (James Oliphant, 5/18/19, Reuters) 

Seeking to build on early momentum in his 2020 presidential bid, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday condemned "anger" within his own Democratic Party and pledged to work to unify the country in the wake of Donald Trump's presidency.

At a rally in downtown Philadelphia, Biden, as he has done throughout the beginning stages of his campaign, made Trump his central target, blasting him as "the divider-in-chief."

But he also chided other Democratic presidential candidates in the field, suggesting that anger toward Trump within his party was not enough to win next year's presidential election.

His message, Biden said, was expressly aimed at Democratic, Republican and independent voters alike.

Posted by orrinj at 6:07 PM

THE DAILY DOUBLE:

Trump Likely Violated Two Laws in One Tweet (Jerry Lambe, May 18th, 2019, Law & Crime)

President Donald Trump filmed a brief video from his office on Air Force One Thursday, deriding New York City mayor and newly announced presidential candidate Bill DeBlasio, calling him "the worst mayor in the history of New York City." Trump made the campaign-related video while on his way to New York for a campaign fundraiser and posted it to his official Twitter account.

In the video, the presidential seal is prominently displayed just above the window to the left of Trump, lending priceless gravitas to Trump's screed against a possible future election opponent.

After it was posted online, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a Washington, DC based watchdog group, responded by tweeting: "Nice political ad filmed on Air Force One. You now legally need to reimburse the Treasury for the use of Air Force One on a political trip. Since you had no problem tweeting out the video, you should have no problem tweeting out the receipts when you reimburse the taxpayers."

Posted by orrinj at 6:03 PM

THE TIGHTENING NOOSE:

Austrian leader calls for snap election amid video scandal (DAVID MCHUGH and KAMILA JAFARU, 5/18/19, AP) 

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz called for an early election after his vice chancellor resigned Saturday over a covertly shot video that showed him apparently promising government contracts to a purported Russian investor.

Kurz said he would ask President Alexander Van der Bellen to set a date for a new election "as soon as possible."

Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache resigned after two German publications, the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung and the weekly Der Spiegel, on Friday published extracts of a covert video purportedly showing Strache offering Austrian government contracts to a Russian woman who was allegedly interested in investing large amounts of money in Austria.

Posted by orrinj at 5:16 AM

"THE BENEFIT OF THE COMMUNITY":

CICERO'S REPUBLIC: IMPLANTED IN THE NATURE OF MAN (Bradley J. Birzer|, May 17th, 2019, Imaginative Conservative)

The best society, Cicero continues, cultivates us as free individuals, not for our benefit, but for the benefit of the community. "For, in truth, our country has not given us birth and education without expecting to receive some sustenance, as it were, from us in return; nor has it been merely to serve our convenience that she has granted to our leisure a safe refuge and for our moments of repose a calm retreat," he argues forcibly and persuasively. "On the contrary, she has given us these advantages so that she may appropriate to her own use the greater and more important part of our courage, our talents, and our wisdom, leaving to us for our own private uses only so much as may be left after her needs have been satisfied." Though unpalatable to modern libertine ears, Cicero's words certainly anticipate those of Edmund Burke. Additionally, Cicero notes, a man must act not merely on behalf of his own republic, but on behalf of the universe as seen through the republic and the actions of its citizens. "Do you not think it important for our homes that we should know what is happening and being done in that home which is not shut in by the walls we built, but is the whole universe, a fatherland which the gods have given us the privilege of sharing with them."

One must presume, especially given his other writings, that Cicero means an example not only for the world of any one person's generation, but for all generations, past, present, and future. Scipio, one of Cicero's characters, states as much when he famously argues: "A commonwealth is the property of a people. But a people is not any collection of human beings brought together in any sort of way, but an assemblage of people in large numbers associated in an agreement with respect to justice and partnership for the common good." In this, he echoes the future views of Edmund Burke, again, in the Anglo-Irish statesman's explanation of the eternal contract between those dead, those living, and those yet to be born. "The first cause of such an association," Scipio continues, "is not so much the weakness of the individual as a certain social spirit which nature has implanted in man." As with Aristotle, Scipio claims "man is not a solitary or unsocial creature, but born with such a nature that not even under conditions of great prosperity of every sort" does he choose to leave the company of others, permanently.

Posted by orrinj at 5:13 AM

GONNA NEED MORE ROBOT HOOKERS:


Posted by orrinj at 4:45 AM

"APOLOGY"?:

Herman Wouk obituary: Author of The Caine Mutiny and The Winds of War who championed traditional Jewish values and American patriotism (Eric Homberger,  17 May 2019, The Guardian)

Wouk, who has died aged 103, was an award-winning novelist whose books were made into Hollywood movies, a playwright and an author of screenplays. He wrote books about Judaism and modern belief. Throughout, he voiced a conservative view of ethics and morality that remained largely unamended in the course of a writing career of more than six decades.

The Caine Mutiny (1951), awarded the Pulitzer prize for fiction, was made into a popular movie by Edward Dmytryk in 1954. In the role of the paranoid Captain Queeg, Humphrey Bogart gave one of his most mesmerising performances. The interrogation scene, with Bogart twisting ball bearings in his hand while breaking down under the questioning of the defence attorney Lt Barney Greenwald (José Ferrer), would have made a powerful end to the film. But the last scene, the celebration dinner for the acquitted defendants Maryk and Keith, accused of mutiny through relieving Queeg of his command when the minesweeper USS Caine was at risk of sinking during a typhoon, brought a different meaning to the story.

Greenwald's drunken speech in praise of Queeg and disdain for Lt Keefer (Fred MacMurray), who had encouraged Maryk and Keith, gave a moral victory to career navy men. It was the regulars like Queeg, "standing guard on this fat, dumb and happy country of ours", who saved Greenwald's mother, a "little gray-headed Jewish lady", from being melted down into a bar of soap.

Greenwald's speech made vivid theatre when Wouk's stage play, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, opened in New York in 1954, with Henry Fonda playing Greenwald. Dmytryk, Bogart and Ferrer had all come to the attention of the House Un-American Activities committee, seeking out political subversion, and Wouk's story provided impeccable conservative cover for them.

Wouk actually meant what Greenwald said. His conservative social and political attitudes and religious faith made him an atypical figure in American Jewish life after the second world war. He was an orthodox Jew, a Republican, a patriot and a sharp critic of assimilation. His novel Marjorie Morningstar (1955) ended with the renunciation of worldly ambition by a New York Jewish girl, and with an affirmation of marriage, suburbia, family and duty. It was one of the last moments when such a novel might have been written without apology, and published without embarrassment.

Maybe that's why people read him and not his peers?

Posted by orrinj at 4:24 AM

TRUMPBOTTING FOR CASH:

Lindsey Graham, Russian Oil Money & A Campaign Finance Scandal (The Democratic Coalition, May 17, 2019)


Len Blavatnik is a Russian oligarch with US and UK citizenship who donated to Sen. Graham's 2016 presidential campaign. Blavatnik made many of his billions off Russian oil. He is also long-term business partner of Kremlin-linked Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska at RuSal, the aluminum giant in which he is a major investor, as well as Viktor Vekselberg, who is entangled with Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen through his U.S. family office Columbus Nova.

Sen. Graham's political action committee received a total of $800,000 from Blavatnik via his company, Access Industries. He received $500,000 in May 2015 just before Donald Trump declared and another $300,000 in October 2015, long after it was publicly apparent Graham's campaign had no traction in the polls. The Blavatnik family, including Len, donated another $57,000 to Graham's campaign directly, but the Senator's campaign later returned $13,500.

Senator Graham abandoned his 2016 campaign for president on December 21, 2015. Blavatnik gave $7.35 million to PACs working for high-ranking Republicans, including both the Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leader, during the 2015-16 federal campaign cycle. Special Counsel Robert Mueller was probing donor Blavatnik for his ties to Donald Trump and specifically a million dollar inaugural donation.

Forbes amply documented Blavatnik's source funds from the Kremlin in 2013 by exhibiting a copy of the wire transfer itself in a story entitled "The Four Horsemen of Russia's Economic Collapse." It described his sale of a private Russian oil company to state-controlled Rosneft.

This report also indicates that a Ukrainian food industry executive -- who used to work for the sanctioned Russian bank, Sberbank -- and his family, who are based in New Jersey, were also significant donors to Graham's presidential campaign, who had excessive donations returned.