Tuesday, December 31, 2019


I recently had a conversation with a relative -- and loyal blog reader -- who had been in the military, and he pointed out that as disgusting as Trump is personally, and as bad as his corruption and corrosive impact on our political system have been, he hasn't done anything as terrible as Bush's Iraq War (over 4000 U.S. dead and 30,000 injured) and torture regime. He has a point. This blog began when the Abu Ghraib horrors were being made public -- and all of that was truly unforgivable. Does that make Bush a worse president than Trump? Interesting question.

This is coming back now as people decide that it's an angle for criticizing Joe Biden, who voted to authorize the war. He has to take responsibility for his vote, but it is also true that an incredible amount of disinformation ("weapons of mass destruction," etc) was being circulated to drive the public debate. People with a lot of credibility, like Colin Powell, were sent out to make the case with information that THEY were being lied to about. Some of this is clearer in hindsight now

Buttigieg Slams Biden For Iraq War Vote: ‘Worst Foreign Policy Decision In My Lifetime’

More: https://www.thedailybeast.com/how-biden-kept-screwing-up-iraq-over-and-over-and-over-again 

Dirty Don is not having a great holiday season

Judging by his Twitter feed and a few appearances before the cameras, President Trump doesn't seem to be enjoying his holiday break down at Mar-a-Lago. In fact, his tweeting is so obsessive and downright strange it even has some of his staunchest allies telling him he should put the phone down for a while. It's obvious that the standoff between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is driving him to distraction. If that was part of Pelosi's plan, it's working. . . . [read on]

I don't believe in IQ, and it is hardly ever mentioned -- even in educational contexts -- any more. But one person talks constantly about how high his IQ is . . . and how low the IQ of his opponents is



More: https://www.salon.com/2019/12/30/president-trumps-supporters-promote-bizarre-website-claiming-that-his-iq-is-156-at-the-minimum_partner/
President Trump's supporters promote bizarre website claiming that his IQ is 156 "at the minimum" . . .   “Mr. Trump was a student at Wharton when it was possible to derive and accurate IQ test scores from known SAT scores,” the website claims. “Given the usual requirements for admission to a top school like Wharton. I estimate that Mr. Trump has a 156 IQ at the minimum.” 

[NB: By the way, Google "Trump pointing to head" and look at how many instances there are!]

The man is not normal. He not only is retweeting claims that he is the greatest president ever -- he is now retweeting claims that he is the greatest president there ever will be. Ego aside, disrespect for much greater presidents aside, it is just bizarre to suggest that there NEVER COULD BE a greater president


In other investigation news . . .
Trump dodged a crucial phone call on Ukraine . . . to go golfing


More: https://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2019/12/more-ukrainian-shoes-dropping-they-are.html
Greg Sargent points out that it's getting harder and harder for Mitch McConnell to justify not calling witnesses in light of what we have learned. He writes: "McConnell badly needs the media’s both-sidesing instincts to hold firm against the brute facts of the situation. If Republicans bear the brunt of media pressure to explain why they don’t want to hear from witnesses, that risks highlighting their true rationale: They adamantly fear new revelations precisely because they know Trump is guilty — and that this corrupt scheme is almost certainly much worse than we can currently surmise." [read ON]

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer renewed his call Monday for White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton to testify in the Senate impeachment trial after The New York Times published new details about the effort to withhold aid to Ukraine. “Simply put: In our fight to have key documents and witnesses in a Senate impeachment trial, these new revelations are a game-changer,” Schumer said . . . 

There's only one reason he can be going there now

While Donald Trump nullifies the nation's foreign policy in efforts to wring a bit of gain for himself, and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani continues a partnership with Ukrainian ex-officials and indicted criminals seemingly intended to destabilize the existing Ukraine government for the benefit of those new allies, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be traveling to Ukraine later this week to ... well, we really don't know. If we're being honest about it, we can't say we really know why he's going. The official reason for Pompeo's brief visit, which will include a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, is to "reaffirm U.S. support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity." But Pompeo will also be meeting with other officials to, The Washington Post reports, "discuss the [Ukrainian] government's reform agenda." That last part, an alleged concern that the Ukrainian government show its commitment to anticorruption "reforms," is the exact phrasing the Trump White House used throughout its effort to extort the Ukrainian government into opening "investigations" of Democrats, and notably of Joe Biden. . . . One of Pompeo’s actions earlier this month was to order Ambassador William Taylor, who testified in the congressional impeachment inquiry, to leave Ukraine before Pompeo’s arrival. . . . [read on]

[NB: He doesn't want Taylor around. . . . hmmm?]  

Trump is helping Russia by hurting Ukraine



Trump and Putin Had a Nice Christmas Chat, But the White House Isn't Talking About It

More: https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2019/12/30/1908540/-Trump-and-Putin-talk-about-mutual-interests-as-U-S-learns-about-the-call-from-the-Kremlin  

What does Giuliani pal Lev Parnas have to share with congressional investigators?


Nancy Pelosi, The Art of War

REP EMMANUEL CLEAVER (D-MO): I think it is important or the people to understand, that Sun Tzu, in the "The Art of War," he said that political battles are usually based on deception. I think that Donald Trump falls for the deception that Nancy Pelosi is laying out there. For example, he thought, okay, we are going to get articles of impeachment, and they are going to send them over to the Senate, and Pelosi had deceived him. And at every turn, he is going to be facing the principles of the "The Art of War." So I think that if I were Donald Trump I would try to figure out what she is going to do next because she is in complete control of Donald Trump's mind.

Trump's enemies are learning how to really get him -- not with aggressive attacks but with dismissive scorn

“It no longer feels as though the most powerful human on the planet is after you. It feels as though a strange and slightly sad old guy is yelling at you to get off his lawn, echoed by younger but no less sad people in red hats shouting, ‘Yeah, get off his lawn!'”
          — Former FBI Director James Comey 

In other news . . .

The worst political predictions of 2019


Perverse lessons being drawn from the NY Hanukkah attack

In the wake of a horrific anti-Semitic knife attack in New York, Fox and Friends (reaching the end of the booker list for possible holiday relief hosts) pays Rachel Campos-Duffy to cross her legs and whine about the poor persecuted Christians. "We've seen over some Christmas some horrific attacks on Christians -- by the way, the most persecuted religion on the planet right now." . . .

Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, claimed in a tweet that 38-year-old Grafton Thomas, a U.S. citizen who allegedly stabbed five people at a Hanukkah party over the weekend, was the “son of an illegal alien who got amnesty under the 1986 amnesty law for illegal immigrants.” . . . “Apparently, American values did not take hold among this entire family, at least this one violent, and apparently bigoted, son,” Cuccinelli wrote.

More: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/ken-cuccinelli-tweet-hate-crime-immigrant-father_n_5e0a4a16c5b6b5a713b275e2
DHS did not respond to a request for comment about why Cuccinelli felt the suspect’s father’s immigration status from decades ago was relevant or appropriate to share with the public. DHS also did not respond to a question about why Cuccinelli deleted his tweet. . . .


Rudy Giuliani says Mayor Bill de Blasio could have stopped rise in anti-Semitic violence in New York

A gunman entered a Christian church, but some parishioners were packing -- Trump thinks that's just awesome

"It was over in 6 seconds thanks to the brave parishioners who acted to protect 242 fellow worshippers. Lives were saved by these heroes, and Texas laws allowing them to carry arms!"

The Cesspool

Trump Has Spent Third of Presidency at His Properties

Nixon had his enemies list, and every president is angry with leakers, but with Trump it's an obsession

On the evening of July 10, 2017 staffers at the U.S. embassy in Brussels—the official office for the ambassador to the European Union—received an unusual call from the seventh floor of the State Department back in Washington. The office of then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was irate. Someone in Brussels with access to the mission’s Twitter account had liked the wrong tweet. It had set off alarm bells in Foggy Bottom. The tweet wasn’t just any tweet. It was one written by Chelsea Clinton and directed at President Donald Trump. . .  

Urbanization is a huge factor in our future global world

The world's biggest urban areas (UN, 2018).
  1. Tokyo, Japan (37.5 million)
  2. Delhi, India (28.5 million)
  3. Shanghai, China (25.6 million)
  4. São Paolo, Brazil (21.7 million)
  5. Mexico City, Mexico (21.6 million)
  6. Cairo, Egypt (20.1 million)
  7. Mumbai, India (20.0 million)
  8. Beijing, China (19.6 million)
  9. Dhaka, Bangladesh (19.6 million)
  10. Osaka, Japan (19.3 million)
  • China now has 130 cities of at least 1 million people, more than the U.S. (45), European Union (36) and South America (46) combined.
  • India, which won't become majority-urban until the 2040s, has 61 such cities. There are 63 in Africa.
  • Nigeria's 10 largest cities are were home to 32 million people as of 2018, with 13 million of those in Lagos.
Interesting: states that will gain or lose House seats after the census


More: https://www.politico.com/news/2019/12/30/redistricting-house-2020-091451 
Epic redistricting battles loom in states poised to gain, lose House seats

The disinformation campaign against Joe Biden is going to get worse


Warren's fundraising is down, Biden's is up. Can Warren bounce back?


More: https://washingtonmonthly.com/2019/12/30/surprises-and-non-surprises-in-the-2019-democratic-campaign/
Surprises and Non-Surprises in the 2019 Democratic Campaign

Well, John McCain's dead

Joe Biden told voters in New Hampshire that he would consider choosing a Republican as a running mate, but added, “I can’t think of one right now,” CNN reports. He added: “Let me explain that. You know there’s some really decent Republicans that are out there still, but here’s the problem right now … they’ve got to step up.”

Bonus item: Trump's year, by the numbers (thanks to AG for the link)

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Monday, December 30, 2019


Trump's defenders are starting to realize that Giuliani's antics aren't helping him

In the weeks leading up to their impeachment trial, senators on Capitol Hill are actively avoiding meeting with President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani . . . “I wouldn’t trust Rudy to represent me in a parking dispute so I’d say avoid,” a senior GOP Senate aide said tersely when asked if it was a good idea for Republican senators to meet with Giuliani to get a Ukraine briefing. Another top aide in a different Republican office said their senator had informed staff that they had “no interest at all” in meeting with Giuliani on this, fearing it would amount to a “waste of time,” if not something worse. . . .

Graham Now Worries Giuliani’s ‘Information’ From Ukraine Might Be Russian Propaganda

More: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/12/giuliani-involved-shadow-negotiations-venezuela-maduro.html
At a time when tensions between the United States and Venezuela were increasing, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, took part in a phone call with the country’s president, Nicolas Maduro . . .Then-Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas was also on the September 2018 call and along with Giuliani was part of a “shadow diplomatic effort” to get socialist leader Maduro to step down as part of a plan to open the oil-rich country to private businesses again. Why exactly was Giuliani on the call? . . . [read on]

We learned the other day that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is the one Executive branch that, when Trump wants something, doesn't say inconvenient things like, "That's illegal" or "You don't have the authority to do that," like other branches -- their attitude is, "If Trump wants it, it's our job to make it happen." And Trump loves that, of course. Here's how that played out with Trump's illegal demand to withhold military funds already authorized for Ukraine 

Behind the Ukraine Aid Freeze: 84 Days of Conflict and Confusion

Highlights: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1211423792939053057.html 
Some top aides are offering the defense that they didn't connect the aid freeze to the Giuliani-Biden investigations track. Mulvaney has told associates he stepped away when Trump would talk to Giuliani . . .  

Worried much? Trump has tweeted about Nancy Pelosi 23 times


I want to hear more about this, given how Putin defines "terrorism"

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a phone call on Sunday, thanked his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump for passing on an information which helped prevent “acts of terrorism” in Russia, the Kremlin said. . . .

In other investigation news . . .

We're hearing this more and more from Trump's "defenders." He's a miserable human being, but his policies have been good


More: https://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2019/12/gop-senators-are-feeling-uncomfortable.html
GOP Senators are feeling uncomfortable

In other news . . .
The attempted murder of five at a Hanukkah party is just the latest in a string of anti-Semitic attacks in New York

Police have identified 37-year-old Grafton Thomas of Greenwood Lake, a community roughly 20 miles west of Monsey, as the suspect in the attack. . . . What we don’t know: The suspect’s motives. 

Oren Segal, vice president of the Anti-Defamation League, said on CNN's "State of the Union" that New York's Jewish communities are facing an "epidemic" following a mass stabbing at the home of a Hasidic rabbi — roughly the 13th anti-Semitic attack in New York in the past few weeks. . . .

"Christian" spokesman Franklin Graham has an explanation 

Franklin Graham suggested to Fox News on Sunday that "hatred for Trump" and "a lot of people in the media" are responsible for a mass stabbing at a Hanukkah party in New York over the weekend . . . He then complained about New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's handling of the attack. "The governor was talking about this hate phenomenon... across the country," Graham said. . . . "There's also political hatred," he continued. "The hatred that we see for Donald Trump is incredible. And the governor who is behind the microphone has been responsible for some of this hatred toward people from the other party." 

The Poor Little Rich Girl, who advises her daddy about everything, now says, don't blame her for Trump's cruel, inhuman immigration policies

'Immigration Is Not Part Of My Portfolio' 

Ahem: https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/08/06/ivanka-donald-trump-zero-tolerance-family-separation-social-media-column/899400002/
[August 6, 2018] On Thursday, Ivanka Trump finally spoke up about the family separations at the border, telling an audience in Washington that the crisis was a “low point” of her time working in the White House. “I felt very strongly about that, and I am very vehemently against family separation and the separation of parents and children.” . . . 

[NB: So, the truth of the matter is that she has spoken out on these policies, and Trump ignored her. THAT's the story here.]

Twitter: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/ivanka-trump-family-separations-twitter_n_5e097d9fe4b0843d3608a1e4 

A Washington Post editor feels he has to explain why the paper keeps pointing out Trump's lies. Think about it


Chuck Todd discovers the sky is blue 

NBC host Chuck Todd on Sunday examined how propaganda is spread by journalists asking uninformed questions . . . Earlier this month, Todd told Rolling Stone magazine that he had been "absurdly naive" about disinformation spread by Republicans. [watch!]

[NB: I shouldn't make fun of him. Maybe he really feels upset and guilty for allowing himself to be a dupe. Maybe we will see more demanding and rigorous questioning and analysis from him, going forward. Maybe. . . .]

Nope, he just CAN'T stop himself: https://crooksandliars.com/2019/12/chuck-todd-cant-stop-including-clinton 
Then Todd pulled the Toddiest of "Both Sides" by proclaiming, "One real fear -- if both sides normalize disinformation as a political tactic. . . ." [read on]

Michael Bloomberg probably won't get the Dem nomination, but I like his anti-Trump ads 



What is Tulsi Gabbard's game?

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D) on Saturday defended her decision not to vote to impeach President Donald Trump, saying impeaching him will only “embolden” him and increase his chance of reelection. . . . [read on]

Bonus item: The photos that defined the decade
***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.***