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📝 Must Read Op-Ed and Profiles

Reporters and the Senate Judiciary Committee, mostly Dems do believe that Kavanaugh is lying. We know that bottom line that if K is lying, then that is disqualifying for a seat on the Supreme Court.

BUT…am now noticing how much selective attention will be paid to K’s testimony, in the name of getting him on the bench as to whether his drinking in HS or college is relevant, or yearbook statements.

Some powerful statements from the Boston Globe on why we can not really trust the man who should hold being truthful to a higher standard.

From Brian Stetler’s CNN Money Newsletter

Was Kavanaugh telling the truth?

Over the weekend, this Boston Globe editorial - Link to Boston Globe Editorial channeled what progressives across the country are saying: “Kavanaugh’s a liar. He lies about little things. He lies about big things. He lies under oath.”

Many Kavanaugh opponents have already concluded that he lied about his yearbook entries, his drinking, etc. So this exchange from “60” is going to get a lot of play on Monday:

PELLEY: If Judge Kavanaugh is shown to have lied to the Committee, nomination’s over?
FLAKE: Oh yes.
COONS: I would think so.

But on Sunday’s “Reliable Sources,” Trumpworld insider Matt Schlapp blunted my Q’s about Kavanaugh’s apparent dishonesty at the hearings. Schlapp dismissed fact-checkers and practically blamed the press for bringing this issue up. On the subject of Kavanaugh’s drinking, he said "I could care less whether or not Supreme Court justices guzzled too much beer. I think we’re in a ridiculous place. We should be talking about his legal jurisprudence."

Editorial

The lies that senators must tell themselves to support Brett Kavanaugh

September 28, 2018

Make no mistake: Brett Kavanaugh’s a liar.

He lies about little things. He lies about big things. He lies under oath.

On Friday, another high-drama day on Capitol Hill, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake said he would not support Kavanaugh’s nomination on the Senate floor unless the FBI did a quick investigation into the sexual assault allegation recently lodged against Kavanaugh. The accusation dates to the early 1980s, when the future federal judge was in high school. Kavanaugh denies the allegations, but a credible accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, described them in riveting testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

If Flake sticks by his demand, it may mean the GOP wouldn’t have the votes to confirm Kavanaugh. With such a razor-thin margin, Republican leadership agreed to allow a week for a new background check Friday afternoon.

Any delay, and any real probe, is welcome. After all, a Supreme Court seat is a lifetime appointment. Investigators should try to track down witnesses who can help determine whether Kavanaugh’s denials hold up to scrutiny. The issue here is as much his honesty in the present as what he may have done in 1982.

At the same time, though, it’s important to keep in mind that whatever any inquiry finds about that one incident won’t change the basic reality: Disqualifying information about the Supreme Court nominee is already hiding in plain sight. In such plain sight, in fact, that it takes a willful blindness not to notice it, a calculated effort to look the other way from blatantly deceptive statements dating back more than a decade and continuing through Thursday.

Whatever investigators finds, here’s some of what senators would need to ignore if they want to convince themselves they’re elevating an honest man to the Supreme Court:

ª In 2004, Kavanaugh said he was not involved in the handling of the controversial nomination of federal Judge William Pryor. That was a lie. E-mails later showed that he was involved.

ª Kavanaugh was asked if he was involved with a scheme to steal Democratic staff e-mails related to judicial confirmations. He lied about it. E-mails showed that he was involved.

ª In 2006, Kavanaugh was asked if he was involved in the controversial nomination of federal Judge Charles Pickering. He lied about that too and said he was not.

ª In 2006, Kavanaugh was asked about his role in the nomination of William Haynes, the Pentagon general counsel involved in creating the Bush administration’s interrogation policies. He lied about that.

Then, on Thursday, under oath and with the nation watching, he made statements so preposterous that senators should view them as an insult to their intelligence.

ª He said the term “devil’s triangle” in his yearbook entry referred to a drinking game. Google it. It doesn’t.

ª He said the word “boof” referred to flatulence. Again, no.

ª Then there was his assertion that his yearbook description of himself as a “Renate Alumnius” was meant only to signify his friendship with Renate Dolphin, a woman who attended another school and socialized with Kavanaugh. Other football players were described as “Renate Alumni.” We know what they intended to insinuate. You know what they meant to insinuate. Everyone knows. Senators may never be able to establish with forensic certainty that Kavanaugh’s entry was intended as a sexual boast, but they’re allowed to use common sense.

Now, some of those might seem like ticky-tack kind of misstatements. But the pattern starts to look overwhelming. As former FBI director James Comey put it on Twitter: “Small lies matter, even about yearbooks.” The standard jury instruction, he noted, says: “If a witness is shown knowingly to have testified falsely about any material matter, you have a right to distrust such witness’ other testimony and you may reject all the testimony of that witness.”

Kavanaugh’s pattern of dishonesty certainly affects how to view Ford’s accusation that he attacked her when both were in high school. She was highly credible as a witness, passed a polygraph, and, unlike Kavanaugh, has no demonstrated pattern of bending the truth.

But put aside that allegation for a moment, serious as it is. Forget about the FBI inquiry. You can believe that a Supreme Court nominee’s conduct in high school doesn’t matter anyway. You can believe that crass material in a yearbook shouldn’t be held against him as an adult. You can even believe that maybe he genuinely doesn’t remember the assault, which Ford says happened when he was very drunk.

Those are all separate questions from whether he’s been honest.

Obviously, if Judge Kavanaugh lied about what happened, that would be disqualifying,” said Susan Collins after Ford’s allegations of sexual assault came to light.

Unfortunately, the only way for senators to convince themselves that Kavanaugh hasn’t already been shown to be a habitual liar is to lie to themselves.

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Read with article with caution ‘The suffocation of Democracy’ by Christopher Browning 10.18 NY Review of Books

…I am queesy over the state of our politicians and the common nonsense which allows for them to overlook any longterm consequences for their choices.

’If the US has someone whom historians will look back on as the gravedigger of American democracy, it is Mitch McConnell. He stoked the hyperpolarization of American politics to make the Obama presidency as dysfunctional and paralyzed as he possibly could. As with parliamentary gridlock in Weimar, congressional gridlock in the US has diminished respect for democratic norms, allowing McConnell to trample them even more. Nowhere is this vicious circle clearer than in the obliteration of traditional precedents concerning judicial appointments. Systematic obstruction of nominations in Obama’s first term provoked Democrats to scrap the filibuster for all but Supreme Court nominations. Then McConnell’s unprecedented blocking of the Merrick Garland nomination required him in turn to scrap the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations in order to complete the “steal” of Antonin Scalia’s seat and confirm Neil Gorsuch. The extreme politicization of the judicial nomination process is once again on display in the current Kavanaugh hearings.

One can predict that henceforth no significant judicial appointments will be made when the presidency and the Senate are not controlled by the same party. McConnell and our dysfunctional and disrespected Congress have now ensured an increasingly dysfunctional and disrespected judiciary, and the constitutional balance of powers among the three branches of government is in peril.

Whatever secret reservations McConnell and other traditional Republican leaders have about Trump’s character, governing style, and possible criminality, they openly rejoice in the payoff they have received from their alliance with him and his base: huge tax cuts for the wealthy, financial and environmental deregulation, the nominations of two conservative Supreme Court justices (so far) and a host of other conservative judicial appointments, and a significant reduction in government-sponsored health care (though not yet the total abolition of Obamacare they hope for). Like Hitler’s conservative allies, McConnell and the Republicans have prided themselves on the early returns on their investment in Trump. The combination of Trump’s abasement before Putin in Helsinki, the shameful separation of families at the border in complete disregard of US asylum law (to say nothing of basic humanitarian principles and the GOP’s relentless claim to be the defender of “family values”), and most recently Michael Cohen’s implication of Trump in criminal violations of campaign finance laws has not shaken the fealty of the Republican old guard, so there is little indication that even an explosive and incriminating report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller will rupture the alliance.

But the potential impact of the Mueller report does suggest yet another eerie similarity to the interwar period—how the toxic divisions in domestic politics led to the complete inversion of previous political orientations. Both Mussolini and Hitler came to power in no small part because the fascist-conservative alliances on the right faced division and disarray on the left. The Catholic parties (Popolari in Italy, Zentrum in Germany), liberal moderates, Social Democrats, and Communists did not cooperate effectively in defense of democracy. In Germany this reached the absurd extreme of the Communists underestimating the Nazis as a transitory challenge while focusing on the Social Democrats—dubbed “red fascists”—as the true long-term threat to Communist triumph.

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I agree with this.

No majority leader wants written on his tombstone that he presided over the end of the Senate,” the minority leader said.

He continued: “Breaking the rules to change the rules is un-American. I just hope the majority leader thinks about his legacy, the future of his party, and, most importantly, the future of our country before he acts.”

Are these the words of Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) as the Republican majority changed Senate rules this week to do away with filibusters of Supreme Court nominations?

Actually, they were uttered in 2013, by then-Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), when Democrats pushed through a similar filibuster change for lesser nominations.

That McConnell did a 180 on the topic — going from the institutional defender of the filibuster to the man who destroyed it — is unsurprising. He has frequently shifted his views to suit the needs of the moment. But in this case McConnell was correct in 2013, and what he just did this week was even more ruinous than what he accused the Democrats of doing then.

By rights, McConnell’s tombstone should say that he presided over the end of the Senate. And I’d add a second line: “He broke America.No man has done more in recent years to undermine the functioning of U.S. government. His has been the epitome of unprincipled leadership, the triumph of tactics in service of short-term power.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/mitch-mcconnell-the-man-who-broke-america/2017/04/07/8e12f1d8-1bbd-11e7-9887-1a5314b56a08_story.html?utm_term=.e433b5c3324b

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Thomas Friedman’s Opinion piece in NYT yesterday. Changing world order and the world according to T.

It had been replaced by Trump’s America, which is different in two fundamental ways.

First, Trump’s America does not see itself as the galvanizer and protector of the liberal global order that brought more peace, prosperity and democracy to more corners of the world over the last 70 years than at any time in history — defying the natural order of things, which is constant jungle-like conflict, protectionism and strongman rule.

“Every gardener understands that the forces of nature are always trying to overrun it with vines and weeds — and it is a constant struggle to keep the jungle back,” said Kagan. Same in geopolitics. We are always tending toward tribalism and authoritarianism and great power conflict. That’s the jungle always trying to return. And U.S. values backed by U.S. power have been what prevented that.

So when Trump says that we are just going to look out for ourselves, he shows his ignorance of both history and economics. Trump is pursuing “a great American fantasy,” added Kagan. And it is not a fantasy that we can be “isolationists” and we’ll be O.K. It’s a fantasy that we can be “irresponsible” and we’ll be O.K. The world will be far more threatened by too little American order-making than too much.

It will be springtime for thugs,” Kagan concluded — and the signs of that are now multiplying.
Second, Trump’s America is unafraid to engage in the raw exercise of power against any foe or friend to gain economic or geopolitical advantage — no matter how big or small — and, at the same time, is ready to overlook any human rights abuse or killing by any country deemed friendly to Trump personally or not interesting to him geopolitically.

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Farmers in North Dakota are being decimated by Trump’s senseless trade war, yet for the most part, they continue to support him. Go figure.

By 2000, North Dakota farms were producing 60 million bushels of soybeans. Ten years later, the number had jumped to 145 million bushels. In 2014, the level rose to 200 million bushels. As of 2017, two-thirds of the North Dakota soybean crop was going to China.

Under Obama, business was booming for these farmers as they freely traded with China. Then they chose to ignore Trump’s campaign rants against free trade and handed him North Dakota with a 36-point margin. What did they expect?

In some ways, I feel for them, but my empathy is limited by the fact that they walked off the end of the pier with their eyes wide open.

And now Trump is buying their votes in the mid-terms by doling out billions of dollars in government aid that you and I are paying for. :-1:

The federal government has announced up to $12 billion in relief; the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Market Facilitation Program will pay for half the acreage soybean farmers harvest.

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This is a fascinating article along with a companion podcast about the team of cyber-sleuths that tracked down the true identities of the alleged Skripal poisoners. Now they’re pursuing clues in the Khashoggi case. It’s an in-depth piece that doesn’t lend itself to excerpting – so I’ll leave it to you to peruse if you like stories about internet detectives. :female_detective: :male_detective:

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Trump is enabling yet another shameful cover up by spreading a preposterous explanation for what happened to Khashoggi: “…it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers.” (WaPo). He’s obviously doing this to start a buzz within his base. When the truth comes out, they will still stubbornly stick to this absurd conspiracy theory.

Trump also tweeted this: “[The Saudis] are working closely with Turkey to find answer. [sic]” This is a backhanded way of claiming the Saudi government is not involved. It’s a tactic Trump has used before – see footnote.

Trump’s cover ups include:

  • His own tax returns which could shed light on possible tax evasion and money laundering.

  • His sexual harassment of and sexual assaults upon multiple women.

  • His campaign committee’s and his own son’s conspiracy with Russians to attack our election process.

  • His extra-marital affairs.

  • His Supreme Court pick’s sordid background, including highly credible allegations of sexual assault along with many acts of perjury.

And this list represents just a small sampling of crimes he’s concealing. The Republicans themselves have compiled a comprehensive list of the President’s cover ups. It’s designed to help them plan damage control if Democrats take the House and commence investigations that Republicans have been obstructing.

Footnote: Trump is returning to the same playbook he used in 2017 when he said that he and Putin discussed setting up a joint task force to find out who attacked our election and help protect future elections. That was as crazy as saying “we’re going to work with those guys seen running from the bank carrying guns and big bags of money to find out who really robbed the bank – we’ve also asked them to help guard the bank to prevent future robberies.” Trump even floated the idea of a joint U.S./Russia cyber-security force again as recently as this July!

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If you’d like to understand why the Cherokee and other indigenous Nations are upset by Warren’s DNA test, read this.:point_down:

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All the reveals on how beholden T is to foreign strongholds - like Saudi Arabia and to Russia is now something we understand about T. It does not make it easier to accept this behavior in the face of what it could do to our greater National Security and our rule of law. T does it because he can. Power leveraging - take their money, give them breaks.

And why does he like them so much? Because they pay him.

This is not something Trump has been shy about saying. “Saudi Arabia, I get along with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million,” he said at a rally in Alabama in 2015. “Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.”

We should note that it’s more than just apartments. Trump has sold many properties to Saudis, and Saudis have invested in Trump projects. And as David Fahrenthold and Jonathan O’Connell report:

Business from Saudi-connected customers continued to be important after Trump won the presidency. Saudi lobbyists spent $270,000 last year to reserve rooms at Trump’s hotel in Washington. Just this year, Trump’s hotels in New York and Chicago reported significant upticks in bookings from Saudi visitors.

This is precisely the reason the framers of the Constitution added a provision saying that neither the president nor other officials could “accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” If a foreign country is putting money in the president’s pocket on an ongoing basis, how in the world can we trust that the decisions he makes will be based on the best interests of the United States and not on his bank account?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2018/10/16/saudi-arabia-is-putting-money-in-trumps-pocket-is-that-shaping-u-s-policy/?utm_term=.aea4fa75585b

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Why do we give a hall pass to T to deny the mounting evidence that Khashoggi’s death was a coordinated hit job by MBS?

The Saudi Cover-Up Crumbles

Evidence mounts of a ghastly crime in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. President Trump still seems inclined to buy the kingdom’s lame denials.

By The Editorial Board

The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.

The Saudis have reportedly been searching for a cover story for the disappearance of the gadfly Saudi journalist, who had been living in self-imposed exile in the United States and writing columns for The Washington Post. Denial is no longer an option — Turkey appears to have pretty solid evidence that Mr. Khashoggi was killed by thugs flown in from Saudi Arabia — so the word in Washington is that the Saudis will try to claim an attempted kidnapping or interrogation gone bad.

On Monday, when Turkey had already leaked considerable evidence of a hit, Mr. Trump was behaving like a royal apologist. “Just spoke to the King of Saudi Arabia who denies any knowledge of whatever may have happened ‘to our Saudi Arabian citizen,’” he wrote on Twitter. A bit later he told reporters, “The denial was very, very strong,” adding: “It sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers. Who knows?”

Actually, he probably does, if American spy agencies are doing their job. But evidence of big-time malfeasance has not prevented Mr. Trump from admiring the likes of Vladimir Putin of Russia, Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt or Kim Jong-un of North Korea (“we fell in love”).

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And let’s not forget that Trump hired Paul Manafort as his Campaign Chairman, a man who was well known as a card carrying member of the "Torturers’ Lobby."

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Last column by Khashoggi - These lines stands out

A state-run narrative dominates the public psyche, and while many do not believe it, a large majority of the population falls victim to this false narrative. Sadly, this situation is unlikely to change.

These actions no longer carry the consequence of a backlash from the international community. Instead, these actions may trigger condemnation quickly followed by silence.

I was recently online looking at the 2018 “Freedom in the World” report published by Freedom House and came to a grave realization. There is only one country in the Arab world that has been classified as “free.” That nation is Tunisia. Jordan, Morocco and Kuwait come second, with a classification of “partly free.” The rest of the countries in the Arab world are classified as “not free.”

As a result, Arabs living in these countries are either uninformed or misinformed. They are unable to adequately address, much less publicly discuss, matters that affect the region and their day-to-day lives. A state-run narrative dominates the public psyche, and while many do not believe it, a large majority of the population falls victim to this false narrative. Sadly, this situation is unlikely to change.

The Arab world was ripe with hope during the spring of 2011. Journalists, academics and the general population were brimming with expectations of a bright and free Arab society within their respective countries. They expected to be emancipated from the hegemony of their governments and the consistent interventions and censorship of information. These expectations were quickly shattered; these societies either fell back to the old status quo or faced even harsher conditions than before.

My dear friend, the prominent Saudi writer Saleh al-Shehi, wrote one of the most famous columns ever published in the Saudi press. He unfortunately is now serving an unwarranted five-year prison sentence for supposed comments contrary to the Saudi establishment. The Egyptian government’s seizure of the entire print run of a newspaper, al-Masry al Youm, did not enrage or provoke a reaction from colleagues. These actions no longer carry the consequence of a backlash from the international community. Instead, these actions may trigger condemnation quickly followed by silence.

As a result, Arab governments have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate. There was a time when journalists believed the Internet would liberate information from the censorship and control associated with print media. But these governments, whose very existence relies on the control of information, have aggressively blocked the Internet. They have also arrested local reporters and pressured advertisers to harm the revenue of specific publications.

There are a few oases that continue to embody the spirit of the Arab Spring. Qatar’s government continues to support international news coverage, in contrast to its neighbors’ efforts to uphold the control of information to support the “old Arab order.” Even in Tunisia and Kuwait, where the press is considered at least “partly free,” the media focuses on domestic issues but not issues faced by the greater Arab world. They are hesitant to provide a platform for journalists from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Yemen. Even Lebanon, the Arab world’s crown jewel when it comes to press freedom, has fallen victim to the polarization and influence of pro-Iran Hezbollah.

The Arab world is facing its own version of an Iron Curtain, imposed not by external actors but through domestic forces vying for power. During the Cold War, Radio Free Europe, which grew over the years into a critical institution, played an important role in fostering and sustaining the hope of freedom. Arabs need something similar. In 1967, the New York Times and The Post took joint ownership of the International Herald Tribune newspaper, which went on to become a platform for voices from around the world.

My publication, The Post, has taken the initiative to translate many of my pieces and publish them in Arabic. For that, I am grateful. Arabs need to read in their own language so they can understand and discuss the various aspects and complications of democracy in the United States and the West. If an Egyptian reads an article exposing the actual cost of a construction project in Washington, then he or she would be able to better understand the implications of similar projects in his or her community.

The Arab world needs a modern version of the old transnational media so citizens can be informed about global events. More important, we need to provide a platform for Arab voices. We suffer from poverty, mismanagement and poor education. Through the creation of an independent international forum, isolated from the influence of nationalist governments spreading hate through propaganda, ordinary people in the Arab world would be able to address the structural problems their societies face.

Editor’s note
I received this column from Jamal Khashoggi’s translator and assistant the day after Jamal was reported missing in Istanbul. The Post held off publishing it because we hoped Jamal would come back to us so that he and I could edit it together. Now I have to accept: That is not going to happen. This is the last piece of his I will edit for The Post. This column perfectly captures his commitment and passion for freedom in the Arab world. A freedom he apparently gave his life for. I will be forever grateful he chose The Post as his final journalistic home one year ago and gave us the chance to work together.

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Infuriating this automatic pivot to dismantle social safety net services, and most especially ACA, and then blame the opposition :tired_face:

Coming for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid

Mitch McConnell just revealed the scheme: cut taxes for the billionaires class, create deficits, and then shred the social safety net.

Less than a year ago, Mitch McConnell assured Americans that his $1.5 trillion program of tax cuts for billionaires and multinational corporations would not increase debts and deficits. “I not only don’t think it will increase the deficit, I think it will be beyond revenue neutral,” the Senate majority leader chirped. “In other words, I think it will produce more than enough to fill that gap.”

Even as assessments by groups such as nonpartisan analysts and watchdog groups predicted that McConnell’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would push the federal deficit to $1 trillion and beyond, the Kentucky Republican declared that the measure he and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, steered to passage last December was a “revenue neutral tax reform bill.”

Now, amid reports that the deficit had grown by 17 percent to almost $800 billion in fiscal year 2018, and that it is headed toward—you guessed it—he $1 trillion mark, McConnell says it’s not his fault. Nor, he claims, is it the fault of the billionaires and corporations he and Ryan represent.

“It’s disappointing but it’s not a Republican problem,” the Republican leader said when asked this week about Bloomberg reporting that detailed how “the Treasury Department said the US budget deficit grew to $779 billion in Donald Trump’s first full fiscal year as president, the result of the GOP’s tax cuts, bipartisan spending increases and rising interest payments on the national debt” and noted that this represents “a 77 percent increase from the $439 billion deficit in fiscal 2015, when McConnell became majority leader.”

The blame, said McConnell, lies with “a bipartisan reluctance to tackle entitlement changes because of the popularity of those programs.” While most Republicans try to talk around the issue—for obvious reasons—McConnell admits that “we’re talking about Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid.

The majority leader is lying.

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Surprise!!! More corruption…and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is being investigated. And these are all big ticket items…a lot of influence peddling.

The quick move to replace his original Inspector General - Kendall has been swiftly stopped by some inquiring Dems. (Link to wtf-has-left-the-trump-admin Zinke’s Inspector General reversal )

Meet the new Pruitt: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. While he may have been in Pruitt’s shadow earlier in the administration**, Zinke has now racked up an impressive number of scandals.** Zinke currently faces at least four inspector general probes, and he has faced more than a dozen investigations from the IG, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Office of Special Counsel. Topics include: thousands of dollars in spending on charter flights, censorship of a National Park Service report on climate change, blocking a casino project after visits from a potential competitor’s lobbyists and a real estate deal involving a foundation he created and developers including Halliburton Chairman David Lesar. Not Trump-family-member questions of corruption, perhaps, but above average for a Trump Cabinet official.

No doubt Zinke feels the multiple investigations interfere with his true calling: fulfilling his promise to “work for” the oil and gas industry. But he seems to have hit upon a new way to stymie an inspector general: Fire her.

The Post reports that Acting Inspector General Mary Kendall, “who had led the office for nine years and served as its deputy since 1999,” will be replaced by Suzanne Israel Tufts, currently an assistant secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Tufts, a political appointee, has no experience in oversight or the environment. But she has at least one qualification that Zinke might like: At HUD, “she replaced a career official who had voiced objections about a redecoration of [HUD Secretary Ben] Carson’s office.” He also might like that Tufts’s background includes “recruiting and training lawyers deployed by the Republican National Lawyers Association to watch the polls on Election Day 2016.” Or perhaps it was enough that Tufts “noted on her resume that she had experience ‘staffing events hosted by President Donald J. Trump for Victory.’”

Give Zinke points for ingenuity: Apparently, no acting inspector general has ever been replaced with another acting inspector general. And because Tufts’s position is ostensibly temporary, she need not be confirmed by the Senate. (Barack Obama nominated Kendall to fill the position formally, but the Senate never voted on her.)

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Talk about “draining the swamp”!

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Two words - bone saw.

That’s all you need to know about anyone’s intentions.

Good Opinion piece from NYT Editorial Board.

Opinion
A Saudi Prince’s Fairy Tale

The crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, issues another incredible explanation for the death of Jamal Khashoggi.

By The Editorial Board

The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.

The question now is not whether the Saudis’ latest explanation for Jamal Khashoggi’s death is credible, but whom do they think they’re fooling. In the autocratic world of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, what common people think is irrelevant; what matters is whether throwing his hit men under the bus is enough to satisfy President Trump.

Mr. Trump has been longing for some way to hang on to his soul mate Prince Mohammed and lucrative Saudi arms deals from day one, and he seemed to breathe a sigh of relief over the story the Saudis concocted after more than two weeks of lies and evasions. It was a “good first step” and a “big step,” Mr. Trump said Friday night. Asked whether he found it credible, he replied, “I do.”

He is in a distinct minority. The Saudi story has been widely dismissed as a pathetic attempt to acknowledge what has become undeniable — that a band of 15 Saudi agents flew in to Istanbul on the day Mr. Khashoggi was expected at the Saudi consulate and killed him there. It also insulates Prince Mohammed, the wielder of real power in Saudi Arabia, from any responsibility.

In this narrative, there went out a general order to round up dissidents living abroad, but somehow it got garbled in transmission, so when the Saudis learned of Mr. Khashoggi’s plans, the deputy director of intelligence, Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, dispatched a team to pick him up. According to this version of the tale, Mr. Khashoggi put up a fight and got killed, and a local collaborator was given the body to dispose of, perhaps in pieces and in suitcases.

So now the 15 agents, plus a driver and two consular staff — essentially all the witnesses minus the consul-general, who returned to Saudi Arabia and has not been heard from since — have been arrested, while General Assiri and a close aide to the crown prince, Saud al-Qahtani, and a few other intelligence officials, have been fired. Misdeed acknowledged, culprits punished, crown prince cleared, Mr. Trump satisfied.

Uh-huh. Among the many problems with this story is that nobody will seriously accept that a mild, 60-year-old journalist put up such a fight that he had to be killed, and it does not explain why one of the agents sent to Istanbul was carrying a bone saw, or why the Turks said they had evidence that Mr. Khashoggi was tortured and dismembered. Nor does it explain why it took the Saudis more than two weeks to acknowledge even that Mr. Khashoggi was dead.

And even in this narrative, why was Mr. Khashoggi deemed so great a threat that the Saudi security apparatus tried to kidnap him, even if the goal was not to kill him? A well-connected Saudi journalist, he had fled into self-imposed exile in the United States when Prince Mohammed began rounding up critics at home and frequently criticized the prince in his Washington Post columns. That is a deadly threat?

But then the only thing we are asked to believe in this yarn is that Prince Mohammed, the reformer who allowed women to drive, would never condone such violence. No, not the royal strongman who imprisoned many of his cousins to shake them down, kidnapped Lebanon’s prime minister, started a disastrous war in Yemen, broke relations with Canada over a critical tweet, rounded up critics, sentenced a blogger to 1,000 lashes and much more.

Mr. Trump is deluded if he really believes the Saudi cover-up can end the matter. The president seemed to acknowledge a few days ago that the Khashoggi murder is “bad, bad stuff,” but he seems reluctant to understand that so is his (and his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s) buddy the crown prince.

Nothing more honest can be expected from Saudi Arabia. If America’s leadership in the world is to retain any credibility, the president must demand a United Nations-backed investigation by respected and independent officials, and he must ask Turkey to provide its tapes and other evidence. He should suspend weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and ask NATO allies to do the same. And, what may be most salutary, he should signal to members of the House of Saud that he believes what so many of them believe, that Mohammed bin Salman has become toxic.

Finally Mr. Trump must ensure that the remains of his American neighbor, an honest Saudi journalist who suffered a barbarous end for simply speaking truth to power, be returned to his family.

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Peggy Noonan, conservative speech-writer for Reagan has a wish list of what would happen if…

  • both parties tried to clean up their own side of the street and I wish they worried about the country more and Everyone running for office should admit things have gotten too hot, too divided.

But sees that T fails because “As to the president, one thought. He will never lead effectively at moments like this because he can’t. It’s not within his emotional range or in his intellectual toolbox.

Defuse America’s Explosive Politics
Politicians in both parties need to clean up their own side of the street.

By
Peggy Noonan
Updated Oct. 26, 2018 11:41 a.m. ET

The attempted bombing of political figures is domestic terrorism meant to disrupt and intimidate. That it came to light less than two weeks before an election whose outcomes may constitute a national rebuke to—or soft boost of—President Trump’s controversial leadership means that passions are high and will stay so. Things are feeling primal, tribal.

There’s more than enough time before the voting for the gates of hell to open. Let’s try to keep them shut.

What can help? Some things I’d like to see:

A suspect was arrested Friday morning. It‘s good that law enforcement appears to have used every resource available to find the bomber or bombers, which will help in returning an air of order. As the investigation continues, all law enforcement should be extremely, unusually forthcoming about the facts and state probe. We’re all tired of their swanning around after school shootings with their secret information we can’t have. Be as open as possible without injuring the investigation. This may help calm the finger pointing. “It was a left-wing false-flag operation!”

Everyone running for office should admit things have gotten too hot, too divided. Then they should try to cool the atmosphere. Next Tuesday will mark one week before the election. Candidates should devote the day to something different. It would be good to see every one give a speech or statement containing their most generous definition of the aims and meaning of the opposing party. A Democratic nominee might say, “Whether they always succeed or not, Republicans do want to protect the liberties that have allowed this nation become the miracle of the world.” A Republican might say, “At its best and most sincere, the Democratic Party hopes to help those in peril, and to soften disparities of wealth and opportunity.”

The dirty secret of most political professionals is that they do see virtues in the other party. And when you show respect for people, they tend to put down their rocks.

Does this sound dreamy or otherworldly? Yes. But a tender moment isn’t the worst thing that could happen to us right now, and enraged people will find it boring. We want them bored. And actually I don’t mean it as sentimental but reorienting—a reminder for some and an education for others about what it is we’re trying to do here.

Claire McCaskill, Sherrod Brown, let us hear you on what you know to be admirable in the Republican Party—and in Republicans. Ted Cruz, Martha McSally, the same from you on the Democrats. Show some largeness. We’re dying of smallness.

Both parties could absorb an essential truth of the moment.

Democrats really and sincerely see the threat of violent words and actions as coming from the right. It’s Mr. Trump—he’s hateful and has no respect and it sets a tone. He encourages fights at his rallies; he said the other night that a congressman who pushed around a reporter was his kind of guy. He calls the press the enemy of the people. He widens all divisions, mindlessly yet opportunistically. No surprise his adversaries are being sent bombs.

Republicans and the right truly, deeply see the threat as coming from the left. Rep. Maxine Waters and Sen. Cory Booker actually told crowds to get in Republicans’ faces; Hillary Clinton says you can’t treat them civilly. Republicans see the screamers and harassers at the Kavanaugh hearings, the groups swarming Republican figures when they dine in public, antifa. A man who wrote “It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.” on Facebook didn’t insult Rep. Steve Scalise last year; he shot and almost killed him. The intimidation is coming from the left.

Trump supporters don’t take him seriously when he issues his insults. He’s kidding; he doesn’t mean it; he’s Trump. You’re lying when you say he makes you afraid.

But the left finds him, and some of his allies, honestly—honestly—dangerous.

Just as the right finds Ms. Waters and Mr. Booker and Mrs. Clinton and the swarms and the hissers and antifa honestly—honestly—the threat.

Neither side appreciates—neither side credits—the anxiety the other side legitimately feels. They have no sensitivity to it. They had better get some.

When conservatives see a liberal or progressive not condemning Mr. Booker or Ms. Waters, they assume it’s because the liberal agrees with what they say—that intimidation is part of the plan.

There is too much blindness to how the other side is experiencing the situation. It’s in the news media, too. Politicians should have a greater awareness of their own role in the drama.

Thursday morning New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was on television, saying words that were meant to be helpful. We’re not Democrats and Republicans really, he** said, we’re Americans; we can’t be divided**. It was good, he clearly meant it. But he spoke as if he had no memory of strikingly divisive words he’d uttered just a few years ago. In January 2014 he said of those who are pro-life, pro-traditional-marriage and pro-gun that they are “extreme conservatives” who have “no place in the state of New York.” No place in the state of New York? That is an extreme and aggressive statement, and it speaks of how too many progressives and liberals feel about conservatives. This kind of thing isn’t new, and it’s contributed to the moment we’re in.

Politicians, don’t lecture us. Clean up your own side of the street.

As to the president, one thought. He will never lead effectively at moments like this because he can’t. It’s not within his emotional range or in his intellectual toolbox. The targets of the would-be bombs have been his antagonists. He’s not believable when he issues pained vows of unity. Everyone assumes his staff told him to do it and in a burst of amiability he did. When he’s obnoxious, people believe he’s speaking his mind.

Mr. Trump has ushered in a new presidential era of verbal roughness. At his rallies he sees himself as being provocative and humorous and teasing. His crowds know he is entertaining them and they have fun back, re-enacting their old 2016 fervor with “Lock her up!” and “Build the wall!” They don’t emerge whipped into a rage; they leave in a good mood, though tired from standing so long because he speaks so long.

The president knows half the country is watching, and dislikes and disdains what it sees. What he doesn’t seem to know is that the unstable are watching, too. They get revved up, ginned up, pro and con. There is danger in this.

Mr. Trump seems to think only about his audience and his foes. He doesn’t seem to proceed with a broad knowledge that there are the unstable among us, and part of your job as president is not to push them over the edge. It can get ugly when you do.

In a funny way he seems to think everything’s more stable than it is, that the veil between safety and surprise is thicker than it is. Maybe you assume everything’s safe when you’ve spent your whole adult life, as he has, with private security and private cars, surrounded by staff. Maybe that makes you careless, or too confident.

But few of our political leaders seem especially sensitive to the precariousness of things. I wish they worried about the country more. That really is dreamy and otherworldly, isn’t it?

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Good piece.

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If you would like more information on Russian money going to GOP and Trump you might want to look at Craig Unger’s latest book “House of Trump, House of Putin”. He really goes into the Russian money at length. He also wrote a good article published in the New Republic (I believe) - something like Trumps Russian Laundromat - July/August 2017. I think there is a follow-up article that is in reference to the book Aug./2018.

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OMG, Preach!!

What is wrong with white women? Why do half of them so consistently vote for Republicans, even as the Republican party morphs into a monstrously ugly organization that is increasingly indistinguishable from a hate group? The most likely answer seems to be that white women vote for Republicans for the same reason that white men do: because they are racist. Trump, with his raucous rallies and his bloviating, combative style, has offered his supporters an opportunity to savor the pleasures of being cruel. It is likely that the white women who voted for him in 2016, and who will vote for him again in 2020, find this racist sadism gratifying. It is fun for them.

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