Thursday, December 12, 2019

PERSON OF THE YEAR

Two days ago: https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/473637-trump-pelosi-on-shortlist-for-time-person-of-the-year 
Trump, Pelosi on shortlist for Time Person of the Year

The winner: https://politicalwire.com/2019/12/11/greta-thunberg-is-times-person-of-the-year/

More: https://www.vox.com/2019/12/11/21010673/cop25-greta-thunberg-climate-change-un-meeting-madrid

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2019/12/11/1904916/-Greta-Thunberg-is-TIMEPersonoftheYear2019-and-Twitter-is-freaking-out

https://www.vox.com/2019/12/11/21010936/greta-thunberg-time-magazine-cover-person-year
Young female activists like Greta Thunberg have the world’s attention

Do you remember when Horowitz was tasked with investigating the vicious anti-Hillary bias and leaks coming from the New York FBI field office (aided and abetted by . . . you guessed it, Rudy Giuliani)? Somehow that investigation never happened

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/an-important-reminder

More: https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/horowitz-probe-into-2016-anti-clinton-fbi-leaks-continues-to-this-day 

On NAFTA 2.0, Nancy Pelosi and the House Dems played hard ball and got a lot of what they wanted. Now the Repubs aren't happy

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/some-trump-allies-arent-impressed-more-progressive-nafta-20
Sen. Pat Toomey’s (R-Pa.) . . . lambasted the deal on Tuesday as a potential drag on the economy and a capitulation to Democratic labor demands . . . . “There are serious problems with this agreement,” Toomey told reporters, adding that it would be a “big mistake” to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement in the coming weeks. The GOP senator added that the trade deal has “clearly moved way to the left.” . . . As it happens, Democratic leaders are thinking along the same lines. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reportedly boasted to her conference at a closed-door caucus meeting yesterday, “We ate their lunch.”  

https://www.salon.com/2019/12/11/dont-panic-yeah-pelosi-struck-a-trade-deal-with-trump-thats-just-smart-politics/
Don't panic! Yeah, Pelosi struck a trade deal with Trump. That's just smart politics 

Trump is furious with a security guard at his rally for not being rougher in ejecting a protestor

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/donald-trump-protester-politically-correct_n_5df068cfe4b06a50a2e69d01
“Get her out, get her out,” he said. “See these guys want to be so politically correct. Get her out. You see that?”

https://www.vox.com/2019/12/11/21010774/trump-hershey-pennsylvania-rally
Trump’s speech in Hershey revealed a presidency off the rails . . . It was one of his ugliest rallies yet . . . [read on] 

More: https://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2019/12/character-assassination-from-bully.html

This is what happens when Trump weakens the U.S. role in NATO

https://politicalwire.com/2019/12/11/macron-calls-for-true-european-army/
Macron Calls for ‘True European Army’

More: https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-blasts-trudeau-and-pain-in-the-ass-macron-behind-closed-doors-following-viral-video
In the days following the release of a viral video showing world leaders at the NATO meeting in London making fun of him, Donald Trump shot back at his counterparts. The famously sensitive American president lashed out during a closed-door meeting at the White House with more than a dozen ambassadors to the United Nations present . . . During this private airing of grievances, President Trump repeatedly denigrated the Canadian prime minister behind his back and called the French president a “pain in the ass” while referring to him as “short” . . . [read on]

In other investigation news . . .
FiveThirtyEight counts the impeachment vote at 56-44 in the Senate. I think it's a little pointless to start counting votes now. The key will be whether there is any new testimony (eg, Bolton) that could change the dynamics. But he's right about one thing: don't count guilt and innocence, count the electoral self-interest of each senator

https://politicalwire.com/2019/12/11/which-senators-will-vote-for-trumps-removal/

The new GOP idea: no impeachment witnesses AT ALL

https://politicalwire.com/2019/12/11/gop-senators-want-short-impeachment-trial/ 

More: https://politicalwire.com/2019/12/11/mcconnell-will-move-to-acquit-trump/
“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is expected to hold a final vote to acquit President Trump should he be impeached, when a majority of senators believe his trial has run its course instead of holding a vote on dismissing the articles of impeachment . . . That’s significant, because Republicans want to have a vote on acquittal — to clear the President of the charges against him — not simply rely on a 51-vote threshold procedural motion to dismiss the hotly disputed case.”

Louis Gohmert outs the whistleblower -- because you knew eventually one of them would

https://politicalwire.com/2019/12/11/gohmert-unmasks-whistleblower-at-hearing/

This is a peculiar poll. 61% say Trump has not cooperated with the House impeachment process and 31% say he has. But since he SAID he isn't cooperating, and since he has blocked ALL testimony and documents from being released, and because the ONLY testimony came from people who actively defied his order not to cooperate, the actual, factual matter has been settled, hasn't it? What is going on in the minds of that 31%?

Pete Williams' "garbage interview" with AG Bill Barr

https://www.emptywheel.net/2019/12/11/american-democracy-needs-better-reporters-than-pete-williams/
American Democracy Needs Better Reporters than Pete Williams 

Funny how things work out

https://politicalwire.com/2019/12/11/pro-trump-network-tried-to-get-ukrainian-to-u-s/
One America News, the pro-Trump television network that sent a camera crew with Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine last week, tried to get Ukrainian multimillionaire Oleksandr Onyshchenko a visa to travel to the United States, the Daily Beast reports. However, German authorities arrested him . . .

In other news . . .

If you've watched the Avengers movies, you know that Thanos is a supervillian who wipes out half the population of the universe. Why would the Trump campaign post a video with Trump as Thanos? Just as an excuse to use this tag line

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/trump-campaign-tweet-thanos_n_5df0203ee4b06a50a2e63bb0
"I am. . . inevitable."

[NB: This is part of Trump's "You have no choice" strategy: I am going to win, so why do we even bother having an election? The problem is that in the movies Thanos is DEFEATED. Not so. . .  inevitable.] 

Trump says the US has never been more respected around the world. I guess he hasn't watched the NATO video all the rest of us saw

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2019/12/11/1904900/-Trump-is-making-ridiculous-claims-about-respect-because-they-re-ridiculous-And-terrifying

Or this: https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/25/politics/donald-trump-un-speech-laugh/index.html
Donald Trump bragged about himself to the United Nations. The UN laughed.

With the guard rails off and no real filter, Trump is relying even more on tweets and impromptu comments to the press, often announcing policy changes that don't exist anywhere but in his own head. There's lying, and then there's just saying s--t

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/trump-helps-prove-hes-unreliable-narrator-about-his-own-presidency
Last week, Donald Trump appeared to make some important news via Twitter. “Brazil and Argentina have been presiding over a massive devaluation of their currencies. which is not good for our farmers,” the American president wrote. “Therefore, effective immediately, I will restore the Tariffs on all Steel & Aluminum that is shipped into the U.S. from those countries.” The declaration, predictably, jolted international markets, and caused a stir in the relevant industries. What was not clear at the time, however, was that Trump’s words were effectively meaningless . . . The Brazilian government has yet to be notified by the U.S. about the intention to impose more duties on the country’s steel, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. Brazil plans to wait until it has official communication from the U.S. to make any decisions, the person said, asking not to be identified because discussions aren’t public. In other words, when Trump said his policy would take effect “immediately,” he actually meant his new policy may not take effect at all. . .

We used to say Fox News was the propaganda arm of the Republican Party. Now they're making themselves into the propaganda arm of Russian intelligence

https://www.wired.com/story/fox-news-is-now-a-threat-to-national-security/

Another pathetic Trump judicial nominee gets confirmed 

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/12/lawrence-vandyke-ninth-circuit-not-qualified.html

The "soap opera" going on in Trump's HHS dept

https://www.politico.com/news/2019/12/11/azar-verma-health-care-white-house-081598
While Washington focuses on impeachment, West Wing aides are buzzing about the vicious battle between two top Trump health aides. . . . 

Spotlight on Betsy DeVos, Education Sect'y

https://www.salon.com/2019/12/12/betsy-devos-ignored-her-own-staff-forced-students-defrauded-by-for-profit-colleges-to-pay/
Betsy DeVos ignored her own staff, forced students defrauded by for-profit colleges to pay

https://www.salon.com/2019/12/06/betsy-devos-plan-panned-as-scheme-to-block-next-president-from-canceling-student-debt/
Betsy DeVos plan panned as “scheme” to block next president from canceling student debt 

https://www.salon.com/2019/12/12/why-the-federal-governments-billion-dollar-charter-school-program-is-a-bigger-disaster-than-we-thought_partner/
Why the federal government’s billion-dollar charter school program is a complete disaster 

https://crooksandliars.com/2019/11/devos-formula-success-trash-public-schools
DeVos’ Formula For Success: Trash Public Schools And Push Privatization 

Joe Biden hints that he only intends to serve one term if elected (which would make his VP choice even more interesting)

https://politicalwire.com/2019/12/11/biden-signals-to-aides-he-would-serve-just-one-term/

More: https://politicalwire.com/2019/12/11/biden-campaign-denies-one-term-rumor/
Biden Campaign Denies One-Term Rumor

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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

INDEPENDENCE DAY

A Trump official shows a smidgen of independence and pride in defending his department. Clearly he must be punished 

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/trump-criticizes-wrays-take-doj-ig-findings
Trump Lashes Out At Own FBI Chief 

Will the DOJ IG be fired for issuing a report that debunks Trump's "deep state" lies? Trump doesn't like independent inspectors general who think their job is to represent the facts -- and not to follow his orders and print what he wants 

Remember? https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/11/trump-fire-inspector-general-michael-atkinson
[November 13] Trump Wants to Fire the Inspector General Who Brought Him Down

[NB: That was Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community IG. There are already rumblings about the DOJ IG Michael Horowitz, who just issued a report saying that there was ample evidence to begin looking into Trump-Russia issues.]

Is AG Bill Barr starting to get an inkling of the Cesspool he's been drawn into?

https://crooksandliars.com/2019/12/ag-bill-barr-unexpectedly-cancels-doj

A.G. Bill Barr Unexpectedly Cancels DOJ Holiday Party At The Trump Hotel

Dems announce two Articles of Impeachment: Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress. Of course Trump deserves to be impeached for much more, but I favor this minimalist approach: keep it simple and stick to clear, undeniable facts that go directly to Trump's own statements and actions

https://www.vox.com/2019/12/10/20998680/articles-of-impeachment-trump-read 

More: https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2019/12/10/1904683/-Adam-Schiff-sums-up-the-case-for-impeachment-and-makes-powerfully-clear-both-why-and-why-now
Adam Schiff sums up the case for impeachment and makes powerfully clear both why and why now

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2019/12/10/1904774/-On-impeachment-Democrats-have-done-the-remarkable-in-a-remarkably-short-amount-of-time
Democrats have done the remarkable in a remarkably short amount of time 

https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2019/12/11/impeachment-articles-simplicity-is-their-strength-082063
Impeachment Articles’ Simplicity Is Their Strength

Full text: https://www.vox.com/2019/12/10/21004695/articles-of-impeachment-full-text-read

Trump wants a circus in the Senate. Mitch McConnell tells him that ain't happening

https://politicalwire.com/2019/12/10/mcconnell-and-trump-differ-on-impeachment-strategy/

More: https://politicalwire.com/2019/12/10/republicans-poised-to-call-no-witnesses-in-senate-trial/
Republicans Poised to Call No Witnesses In Senate Trial

What Trump wants

https://politicalwire.com/2019/12/10/trump-asks-giuliani-to-give-briefing-on-ukraine/
Rudy Giuliani told the Washington Post that President Trump has asked him to brief the Justice Department and Republican senators on his findings from a recent trip to Ukraine ahead of a likely Senate impeachment trial.

Here is what Giuliani wants to say

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/giuliani-has-a-new-conspiracy-theory-to-mainline-into-gop-bloodstream
The Ukrainians who met with Giuliani have announced, on their own, what they told the President’s lawyer. What emerges is a new conspiracy theory positing an elaborate scheme involving the Franklin Templeton investment fund, Obama, and Schiff. . . 

[NB: First of all, this is sheer insanity. Second, it has NOTHING to do with the issues of impeachment, except as a distraction.]

There's only one defense left

https://politicalwire.com/2019/12/10/republicans-keep-lying-about-the-russia-probe/
“Challenge the findings of an investigation? Absolutely legitimate. Spin the parts that are good for your side? Everyone in politics does that. But to say up is down, day is night, apples are vegetables and baseball is played by horses on a chessboard? No. That’s not part of a healthy democracy.” “Trump, and Republicans in general, have been dead wrong about this investigation. And if they insist on claiming otherwise, it’s up to the media to make clear that they’re simply not telling the truth. . .”

More: http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/republicans-turn-gaslighting-response-justice-dept-report

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2019/12/10/1904705/-What-the-Republicans-learned-from-the-Mueller-report-is-to-simply-lie-about-the-Horowitz-report
In other investigation news . . .

What's his game?

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2019/12/10/1904705/-What-the-Republicans-learned-from-the-Mueller-report-is-to-simply-lie-about-the-Horowitz-report
Attorney General William Barr said on Tuesday that the FBI might have acted in “bad faith” in launching its investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, despite an in-depth inspector general report that found the decision to be justified. . . .

https://www.axios.com/bill-barr-russia-investigation-doj-report-837c7d7c-8e32-4549-a9f2-a927dcc1fb18.html
Barr attacks Russia investigation as "completely baseless"

https://crooksandliars.com/2019/12/bill-barr-denies-reality-blames-obama-and
Bill Barr Denies Reality: Blames Obama And FBI For 'Spying'

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2019/12/10/1904752/-Attorney-General-Barr-spews-kitchen-sink-level-of-disinformation-about-Russia-probe-IG-report
Barr also made claims that we objectively know to be lies. . . .

[NB: I really do not understand why Barr would stake his reputation on recycling some of Trump's wildest paranoid fantasies. I do not understand why he would throw the FBI -- and the Director of the FBI -- publicly under the bus. And I do not understand why he would lie, repeatedly, about the origins of the Russia probe and the clear evidence that there was something shady going on. Barr used to be a respected conservative legal voice. Now he's a sad joke.]

One of the bogus arguments used by the House Repubs is that impeachment is illegitimate because it isn't bipartisan. They're right that that's a problem, but it's a problem in reverse: the real question is, Given the overwhelming evidence, why ISN'T it bipartisan? This satirical piece captures the dynamic perfectly. I don't normally clip things in their entirety, but this is just too damn good

https://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2019/12/if-only-it-were-bipartisan.html
You bet I would love to support impeachment! Nothing would delight me more — if it were just bipartisan, which unfortunately it’s not, because I have vowed to oppose it at all costs. This is sure an unfortunate coincidence. I keep asking: Why isn’t there bipartisan support for this? I could support it, if only I were not against it — which I am, vehemently, and will hear no reason to change my mind. A most ingenious paradox!

If only these proceedings had my support, I would support them, but they don’t, and there we are. If only this were not a witch hunt (I declared it a witch hunt from the outset), I would consider it legitimate. There is, clearly, such a thing as a legitimate procedure: It is one that I do not oppose.

I should maybe mention now that I would oppose any impeachment procedure against this president, on the grounds that (a) people voted for him, and I do not wish to disrespect them, which impeaching him would do, and (b) previously people described him as “highly impeachable” and “the kind of guy who just screams ‘impeach me,’” and they uttered phrases such as “Impeach the [expletive]” and so now that they are impeaching him, de facto, or perhaps ipso facto, it cannot be fair! People are not allowed to be right about how someone’s presidency will turn out. If, in the end, he did commit technically a high crime or misdemeanor, it is really their fault, for not believing in him, and I am not going to reward their bad behavior.

We must consider the facts. Alas, the facts are in dispute, coincidentally again by me. So, there we are. Who can say what’s true? I understand you to be saying that a certain set of things are demonstrably true, but to that I say, “What if they weren’t? Also, think about President Andrew Johnson."

Such a shame! I’m so saddened by this. Because I really, I truly want to give impeachment a fair shake, you know. I would! I just wish this process had support from both sides, as the wolf said when the sheep suggested “not eating the sheep” as a plan. Unfortunately, this is not the kind of thing on which we are going to agree.

It is your fault that this impeachment process is not bipartisan, and you ought to feel bad. If I had not vowed that this process was illegitimate and I would oppose it, I would consider it legitimate, and support it. It is your fault that I won’t, for starting this process, instead of waiting for me to start it.

Which I would have! If the president were a Democrat.  

A rare moment of bipartisanship in the Senate: put off a trial until after the holidays
Interesting. The House Dems are about to impeach Trump -- they're also helping him pass NAFTA 2.0

https://www.vox.com/2019/12/10/21004584/usmca-democrats-trump-nafta-trade-deal

More: https://www.axios.com/usmca-trade-deal-house-democrats-trump-64011fd0-d53e-4606-bff1-6d48d3355d97.html
Pelosi said at the press conference: "There is no question, of course, that this trade agreement is much better than NAFTA. But in terms of our work here, it is infinitely better than what was initially proposed by the administration."

https://www.thedailybeast.com/house-democrats-think-their-day-of-whiplash-is-just-perfect
Dems Think Their Day of Whiplash Is Just Perfect

Too crazy for Fox World

https://crooksandliars.com/2019/12/fox-news-cuts-insane-kevin-mccarthy-rant 

We still have courts

https://politicalwire.com/2019/12/10/judge-blocks-trumps-attempt-to-divert-funds-for-wall/
Judge Blocks Trump’s Attempt to Divert Funds for Wall

Unfortunately, we still have a Supreme Court, too

https://crooksandliars.com/2019/12/supreme-court-wont-hear-appeal-kentuckys
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday chose not to hear an appeal on a Kentucky law reproductive rights groups say is intended only to "shame and intimidate" patients . . .The justices did not offer a comment on their reasoning for declining to hear the ACLU's arguments against H.B. 2, which requires doctors at the state's only remaining clinic that provides abortions to perform an ultrasound before giving a patient abortion care. . . .

Bad news: impeachment hasn't budged Trump's poll numbers. Good news: they're already pretty bad

https://politicalwire.com/2019/12/10/impeachment-hasnt-budged-trumps-2020-prospects/
A new Monmouth poll finds 43% of American voters feel that President Trump should be reelected, while 54% say it is time to have someone new in the Oval Office. . . .

Trump is going to have to play defense in 2020 in states he could take for granted in 2016

https://politicalwire.com/2019/12/10/more-electoral-votes-could-be-in-play-in-2020/

Oh, good: run on this platform, please

https://crooksandliars.com/2019/12/mulvaney-more-tax-cuts-billionaires-after 
Mulvaney: More Tax Cuts For Billionaires After 2020

When Republicans used to care about this kind of thing

https://politicalwire.com/2019/12/10/budget-deficit-soars/
Budget Deficit Soars

Another Repub won't run for re-election

https://politicalwire.com/2019/12/10/ted-yoho-will-not-run-again/ 

More: https://politicalwire.com/2019/12/10/the-red-exodus/
“When President Trump was inaugurated in 2017, there were 241 Republicans in the House. Since then, 104 of them (43%) have either retired, been defeated, or are forgoing reelection in 2020.” 

An interesting data point

https://politicalwire.com/2019/12/10/lawmakers-are-literally-crossing-the-aisle-less/
“Author Bryce Dietrich, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Iowa, analyzed the biggest video collection of the U.S. House of Representatives ever used in political science research . . . “Dietrich found representatives have physically crossed the aisle less and less to interact with opposing colleagues over time since the late 1990s.” 

Pete Buttigieg worked for McKinsey and Company. These were his clients

https://www.thedailybeast.com/pete-buttigieg-reveals-his-list-of-clients-from-amoral-mckinsey 

Can Elizabeth Warren stage a comeback?

https://politicalwire.com/2019/12/10/warren-seeks-a-second-act-after-slip-from-top/

Not like this: https://www.axios.com/elizabeth-warren-ocean-policy-climate-change-blue-new-deal-12097a9b-960e-4253-954b-e18ec686ad2d.html
Warren wants a "blue new deal"

[NB: Green, blue -- well, there are still a lot of colors to go through. . . This is NOT what this election is going to be fought over.]

The state of the Democratic race

https://politicalwire.com/2019/12/10/biden-and-sanders-gain-nationally/
“This is the first time Biden has had a double-digit lead since August, and Sanders’ best number since June. While Warren’s numbers seem to have stabilized, Buttigieg’s numbers have dipped.” . . .

Bonus item: I'm not crazy about phrases like "objective reality," but the cynical relativism of Trump and the Republicans makes me feel like a positivist


***If you enjoy Progressive Blog Digest and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sharing its URL (http://pbd.blogspot.com) with others via email or social media. Thanks for helping to spread the word!

I don’t get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don’t run ads, etc.). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a “mission,” it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***