Thursday, October 31, 2019


Let's lead with a smile this morning: a really funny side-by-side comparison of Obama's bin Laden speech and Trump's Baghdadi speech

This is really bad: Trump kept his own Chief of Staff (ACTING Chief of Staff) out of the loop on the Baghdadi raid
In Massive Slight, Trump Left Mulvaney Out Of Baghdadi Raid Operation 

The Wall Street Journal embarrasses itself by arguing that Trump isn't smart enough to pull off a Ukrainian quid pro quo. Really, that's their defense. Trump insists, But I really AM smart enough! 

[NB: Which is such a really stupid thing to say that maybe it proves he WASN'T smart enough? My head hurts!]

The evidence piles up that everyone knew that Trump and Giuliani were twisting Ukraine relations to get them to investigate Joe Biden -- and that there was widespread alarm about it 

But they were afraid to tell Trump?

Why they moved Trump's call to a secure server

I really love this story, it says so much about the dysfunction and amateurism of Trump's WH. If you've been following this, Congressman Devin Nunes has been constantly sowing mischief behind the scenes, acting as a proxy for Trump's agenda -- and one of his proxies has been staffer Kashyap Patel. (These are the folks trying to out the whistleblower, for example.)  Now we learn that this pipsqueak has been attending WH briefings as the NSC's Ukraine expert, crowding out the ACTUAL NSC Ukraine expert, Alexander Vindman
“At the last second,” Vindman said, he was told to stay away from the meeting. The reason he was steered away was that Nunes staffer Kashyap Patel had already “misrepresented” himself to Trump as the NSC’s expert on Ukraine, even though he had no background, no expertise, and no experience to make that claim. But Patel’s pretend position, which he had used to dip into secure intelligence information, had already made him a Trump favorite. So the genuine Ukraine expert was shut out in favor of the fraud. . . . 

Vindman also testified that he was told Patel had been circumventing normal NSC process to get negative material about Ukraine in front of the president, feeding Trump’s belief that Ukraine was brimming with corruption and had interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of Democrats. . . . It’s still not clear what materials Patel was giving Trump, or where he was getting them. . . .

Republicans admit, in private, that Alexander Vindman's testimony was really damning

The "pro-military" GOP's long history of smearing war vets when it suits them politically

Another USC staffer agrees to testify . . . and is suddenly out of a job. We don't know yet if he quit or was fired

Trump's nominee for ambassador to Russia says some really surprising things
John Sullivan, deputy secretary of State and President Donald Trump’s nominee for ambassador to Russia, apparently doesn’t agree that it’s okay for a president to try to push foreign countries to investigate his political rivals – something Trump did during a call with the Ukrainian president in July.  . . . “Soliciting investigations into a domestic political opponent…I don’t think that would be in accord with our values,” Sullivan responded.
“My knowledge in the spring and summer of this year about Mr. Giuliani was in connection with a campaign against our ambassador to Ukraine,” John Sullivan revealed to Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) at a Senate foreign relations hearing. Sullivan said that he was also given a package of disinformation that was being circulated in the State Department to smear Yovanovitch. He indicated that the package originated from someone in the White House. . . .

You know what THIS means
General won’t confirm Trump’s description of Baghdadi’s death  

Joe Biden gives the line of the campaign so far: "This is like feeding a baby its medicine in yogurt or applesauce."
Trump Was ‘Tricked’ Into Leaving Some Troops In Syria 

In investigation news . . . 

Trump's "Catch-22" defense
Donald Trump asserts that testimony by witnesses who learned about his scheme to shake down Ukraine from other presidential advisers should be disregarded as “hearsay.” Trump also asserts that John Bolton and other White House officials who were in the room with him are constitutionally “immune” from congressional subpoenas. . . . He’s arguing that Congress can’t talk to anyone who heard directly from him, and can’t trust anyone else. . . . 

How McConnell is trying to protect Trump 

Trump is BUYING Senate support. Really
Trump is tapping his vast fundraising network for a handful of loyal senators facing tough reelection bids in 2020. Each of them has signed onto a Republican-backed resolution condemning the inquiry as “unprecedented and undemocratic.” . . .

Trump is the first president in 120 years not to have a dog. He says it's because he's "too busy." Uh-huh. Is it really because he's germ-phobic? Emotionally stunted? Unable to care about anyone or anything but himself? Here is Trump's twisted relationship with dogs
Trump really lies . . . a lot

Trump made 96 false claims last week, the second-highest total of the 16 weeks we've counted at CNN. He made 53 false claims last Monday alone -- a remarkable 31 in rambling comments at his Cabinet meeting and 22 more in an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity. Fifty-three false claims is by far the most Trump has made in any day in the 16 weeks we've tracked . . . His deception last week was focused on his conduct toward Ukraine and Democrats' related impeachment inquiry . . . [read on]

[NB: You might say he lies . . . like a dog.]

Is it really possible that the Trump World Series visit was intentionally timed to come after the Baghdadi raid -- on the assumption that he would be cheered?
Trump really really wants Neanderthal Ken Cuccinelli to head up DHS. The law says he can't. So they want to find a way around the law
No, Trump isn't saving the coal industry -- because he really can't. Nobody can

Trump's relentless pressure on the Fed is really having an effect

GDP is at 1.9% for Q3. Roll the tape. . . .
[Trump, Oct 30, 2019] The Greatest Economy in American History!

[Trump, May 31, 2012, under Obama] Q1 GDP has just been revised down to 1.9% The economy is in deep trouble.

Donald Trump’s Economic Agenda Has Failed
No. Shame
Donald Trump Jr: I Wish I Was Like Hunter Biden So I Could ‘Make Millions Off of My Father’s Presidency’

Mitch McConnell, who has killed or prevented a vote on nearly every Democratic piece of legislation, while his own party proposes NOTHING, now accuses Dems of "taking a vacation"
If there were a Hall of Fame for political hypocrisy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would be a first-ballot inductee. The Kentucky Republican has condemned obstructionism after mastering the fine art of obstructionism; he’s stressed the virtues of bipartisanship after becoming the most partisan congressional leader in modern history; he’s demanded that senators treat Supreme Court nominees fairly after spearheading an unprecedented blockage against a qualified, compromise Supreme Court nominee. And this morning, according to a Congressional Quarterly transcript, McConnell stood on the floor of the Senate and condemned a productive House Democratic majority for taking “a one-year vacation.” . . .

The Repubs keep saying they want to protect coverage for pre-existing conditions too. But they really don't

Will Trump really shut down the government to get funding for his Wall™?

Really sensible thinking, for those who are still thinking
What If We Can’t Get Medicare For All? 

Kamala Harris is facing money trouble

Facebook's disaster

Twitter takes a different approach:

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Wednesday, October 30, 2019


"Attack the witnesses" -- a hateful new strand of the Trump defense. Today it is an obviously scripted, word-for-word, coordinated attack on the reputation of a decorated Iraq war veteran
Fox News Attempts To Discredit Vindman Over His ‘Affinity To The Ukrainian People’
Cable-News Trumpkins Use Same Exact Talking Point: Vindman Has Dual Loyalty
Trump allies are now accusing an impeachment witness — and Purple Heart recipient — of disloyalty
John Yoo says LTC Vindman may be guilty of espionage . . .

Vindman heard the Ukraine phone call -- and testifies that the transcript that was released "omitted crucial words and phrases"
Back when President Trump released the “rough transcript” of his call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, there were several spots where passages seemed to be omitted and replaced with ellipses. However, Trump insisted that the transcript was “word for word” . . .
For example, left out of the text was Trump insisting “that there were recordings of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. discussing Ukraine corruption.” Also missing from the text that Zelensky made it clear Trump wanted him to announce an investigation of Burisma Holdings, the company where Hunter Biden served on the board. Vindman said that he offered up both these corrections when the document was being assembled, but they were not included. . . .

The top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council will testify Tuesday in the House impeachment inquiry that he was so troubled by President Donald Trump's July 25 phone call with his European counterpart that he twice reported his concerns to a superior . . .
President Donald Trump launched a sustained online offensive Tuesday morning after details emerged of damaging congressional testimony by a senior White House official . . .

Who do you believe?
Volker vs. Sondland vs. Taylor vs. Vindman: Testimony of Trump officials shows astounding conflicts
NSC official's testimony appears to contradict Rick Perry Ukraine claims


VP Mike Pence also had a phone call with Zelensky. Will we see it?

In investigation news . . . 

The GOP wanted a public House vote on impeachment and clear ground rules. They're about to get them. So their complaints will cease, right? Right? 

Here are the new impeachment ground rules 

Another new GOP strategy, it appears: disrupt the hearings from the outside, and disrupt them from the inside 

Pelosi, Schiff Prep for GOP Impeachment 'Stunts’ and Attempts to Out The Whistleblower 
Republicans eye shift in impeachment strategy as Trump demands new attacks 

Two pieces of excellent news about the WH response team on impeachment. One is that the Boy Genius is in charge. The other is that they have their response strategy. Are you ready? . . . They think they have nothing to worry about
“During impeachment-related meetings inside the White House, Mr. Kushner has urged officials to remain calm, homing in on one of the president’s often repeated lines: that the impeachment inquiry is the latest in a long line of partisan attacks the West Wing has had to endure. Mr. Kushner’s message has been that the facts are in the White House’s favor, and that reduces the need to be on the defensive.”

Bannon reveals anti-impeachment strategy to "Fox & Friends": We're going to probe the witnesses 

Then there's this . . .
A new Selzer & Co national poll finds 81% of Americans believe that it’s not right for political candidates to ask foreign governments to help them win election. That includes 81% of Republican, 85% of evangelicals Christians, 87% of rural voters — President Trump’s 2016 base . . . If the general election were today, only 38% of likely voters say they would definitely vote to re-elect Trump while 47% would definitely vote for someone else.

In other news . . .

There's a silly debate over the crowd at the baseball game chanting "lock him up" at Trump. The usual both-sidesists say, If it was wrong for folks at Trump rallies to say it about Hillary, it's wrong for these folks to say it about Trump. But there's a big difference: it is one thing for a candidate, or President, to use their position to whip up and encourage accusations of criminal behavior against their opponent -- and something else for a public crowd to spontaneously say it. . . . especially when it is at least partly meant ironically to give back to him what he has said about others 

A rule of thumb
Rule of thumb: If a Trump story involves a man crying, the man likely did not cry. He has repeatedly invented male tears — to make opponents sound “weak,” to make supporters sound fawning. . . [read on] 

Trump likes to call people "My . . ."  Even people who don't work for him 

The things we never learned about Brett Kavanaugh 

Education Sect'y Betsy DeVos on the hot seat. . . again

Only the best
Trump needed a new appointee for his Commission On Presidential Scholars, and dude appoints some hack with an Illuminati obsession and a penchant for 29-word book titles. OH, and he sells fake degrees. . . .

Suburban voters do not want Trump

Republicans fear a "total wipeout" in 2020. This is the gift that Trump (and their fealty to him) has brought the GOP

Interesting question: If former AG Jeff Sessions runs against Doug Jones, the "most vulnerable" Senate Democrat, will Trump support him?

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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.***

Tuesday, October 29, 2019


Here's the thing about Trump being booed at the World Series ("Lock him up! Lock him up!"). It came AFTER his big announcement about getting Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi that morning, which should have been a huge crowd-pleaser. But his ham-handed announcement, full of self-praise and false claims, ruined his own Special Day
Remember when Osama Bin Laden’s killing was announced? I was in Austin, Texas, where people were whooping and cheering in bars. President Obama could’ve drawn applause anywhere in the United States that night . . .
Look how Trump’s face changes when he realizes an entire stadium is booing him . . .  This has got to be hard for Trump considering how obsessed he is with crowd size and crowd reactions . . .

[NB: This is what happens when your only exposure to the public is rallies with carefully screened attendees who adore you. Trump's ego clearly needs large regular doses of that. But then you're surprised to find out when you step outside the bubble that MOST PEOPLE HATE YOU WITH A PASSION.]

But as is too often the case, Trump lacked the wherewithal to restrain his worst instincts. During a rambling 48-minute appearance, the Republican used a tone one might expect on a playground; he needlessly shared sensitive operational details; he made multiple canine references for reasons that were not at all clear; he took the time to praise a far-right media network; he made self-aggrandizing claims for no reason; and Trump lied rather brazenly about his own record. . . [read on]
After decrying leaks, Trump shares sensitive details on Baghdadi raid

Humorous takes on the booing (thanks to AG for both links) 

In the alternate universe of Fox World
"The president and first lady were at the game last night. They got there right around the time that it started, and they stayed a pretty long time. They were greeted with mixed reaction but they were out there smiling, waving to everybody as you can see in the crowd. . . ."

If you are living in that bubble you will not know that the stadium booed loudly, chanted "lock him up" and hung Impeachment banners. They edited the sound and failed to tell the story. . . .

Of course!
Doubts Grow Over Trump’s Dramatic Account of Raid 

Announcing Baghdadi’s death, Trump claimed that the ISIS leader was “whimpering” and likened him to a “dog” in his attempt to escape U.S. forces. Five senior Trump administration officials who watched in real-time as the president spoke on Sunday morning each told The Daily Beast that they had no idea where the president got the “whimpering and crying and screaming” detail. Two officials recounted how after they heard that on Sunday, they immediately began messaging each other questions and comments like, “uh where is he getting that?” The comments confused officials in the Pentagon as well, some who told The Daily Beast that there was no way Trump could have heard Baghdadi’s voice on the Situation Room live stream Saturday night because it did not have audio. . . . 

Trump wants to "take some" oil from Syria
“And we’re securing it for a couple of reasons. Number one, it stops ISIS, because ISIS got tremendous wealth from that oil. We have taken it. It’s secured. Number two – and again, somebody else may claim it, but either we’ll negotiate a deal with whoever is claiming it, if we think it’s fair, or we will militarily stop them very quickly.” Reflecting on the Syrian oil’s value, Trump went on to say that the United States “should be able to take some,” adding, “[W]hat I intend to do, perhaps, is make a deal with an ExxonMobil or one of our great companies to go in there and do it properly.” 

Just one problem:
Trump Is Openly Talking About Committing a War Crime  

We know the basics of the Ukraine scandal -- but the witnesses we've heard from suggest there's more 

The Trump gang has known they had a serious Giuliani problem for months

Giuliani Joined Trump Admin Discussions About Erdogan Foe Before Repping Trump

EVERYTHING with Trump is transactional. Everything
Trump Explored Cutting Grants for Schools Tied to Erdogan Foe 

Trump keeps bragging about the economy -- this economy
U.S. Business Hiring Falls to 7-Year Low

In other investigation news . . .

When Republican Devin Nunes was chair of the House Intel committee, he was running as a secret conduit of information from his committee to the White House -- and he got in trouble for it. Now he's trying to leak the confidential name of the Ukraine whistleblower -- which would put that person's life at risk



"A sense of duty"
Army Officer Reported Concerns on Trump’s Ukraine Call

The House will vote to formally authorize impeachment -- now what will the GOP complain about? 

Pelosi's impeachment resolution provides legal boost to compel cooperation of crucial witnesses  

How to run an impeachment -- and how not to  

Trump doesn't like the GOP's "process" defense on impeachment -- he wants a full-throated embrace of what he did

Doesn’t Trump realize that the reason his allies are whining about process is because they have no defense to offer on substance? Maybe not. . . . [read on]

The Repubs are dreading an impeachment vote

The state of voting rights
North Carolina judges rule gerrymandered election maps must be thrown out
330K Voter Registrations May Be Canceled In Georgia
Minnesota Pointlessly Blocks People From Voting Once They Are Out Of Prison
A controversial Florida law stops some former felons from voting. A judge just blocked part of it.
Conservative Group Pushes For Quick Removal Of Wisconsin Voters From The Rolls
Pennsylvania on Verge of Major Voting Reforms

[NB: Notice, all battleground -- or potential battleground -- states.]

House committee passes bill to restore and expand the Voting Rights Act 

GOPer #19 to step down

[NB: Do you think they'd be doing this if they thought they could retake the House?]

Sean Hannity is worried that his calls with Trump might be recorded

We're back talking about superdelegates and a contested Democratic convention. Wheee!!!

Bonus item: John Oliver on Trump's Middle East policy
***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 ( 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.***