Giuliani’s careening gibberish and admissions about crimes involving Ukraine

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough laughed uproariously at Rudy Giuliani’s careening denials and admissions to possible crimes involving Ukraine, and then darkly noted that his bizarre “gibberish” was straight out of the authoritarian handbook.

“Morning Joe” panelists cracked up at Donald Trump’s attorney angrily denying that he sought election help from Ukraine’s government, only to even more angrily justify his reasons for doing what he had just denied.

“When it is going south you put gibberish on the air not to confuse people,” said panelist Donny Deutsch, “all of a sudden it’s just this noise that’s not as distracting that makes you lightheaded.”

Scarborough said dictators throw out “gibberish” to confuse and disorient the public, so they can gather more power.

“I could read you books of past governments, from decades past, that actually used this type of nonsense where you throw gibberish out at the population over and over again, nonsense, lies, then you admit, then you wrap it around a couple more lies,” he said, “and by the end the supporters of said public figure are so numb to the truth they do not recognize it.”

“There’s a certain regime where you go back and read — I’m not going to say,” he added. “Usually you get these writings from 1938, 1939, it wasn’t the early ’30s.”

Scarborough said recent autocrats use the same tactics to destroy truth and accountability.

“You could say this about Erdogan, you could say that about what’s happening across the globe, you know, in Russia, you could talk about what’s happening in Hungary, the Philippines, this is what strongmen, this what autocrats do,” Scarborough said. “They keep lying and shooting out gibberish, they admit, they deny until people are so numb to the truth that it just doesn’t matter. Rudy’s just admitted something outrageous. We’re laughing and supporters are going to (say) there’s nothing wrong with that, when, of course, any other president would be impeached that afternoon.”

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The greatest threat to democracy; it’s not just Trump

Trump, for all his destruction of leadership norms and erratic, inflammatory behavior, is not the greatest threat to democracy, argues Eleanor Clift in The Daily Beast. That dubious honor goes to Republican Senate Majority Leader “Moscow” Mitch McConnell
“The events in El Paso and Dayton over the weekend give new meaning to the phrase the enemy within. The country is under siege from what law enforcement officials are calling domestic terrorism inspired by white supremacist ideology,” writes Clift. “What to do? All roads lead to Moscow Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, who won’t allow debate on remedies for gun violence and refuses to take up gun-control legislation passed by the House to expand background checks.”

Moscow Mitch could fight the bloodshed right now and call back the Senate to vote on the House’s background check bill, writes Clift. But he won’t.

“Anyone who knows anything about McConnell knows that’s not happening,” says Clift. “At Team Mitch, it’s been business as usual. Just hours after the El Paso shooting, the campaign tweeted a photo of a single tombstone bearing the name of McConnell’s Democratic challenger. Another tweet shows seven grinning young white men in ‘Team Mitch’ T-shirts pawing a cardboard cutout of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez with the caption, ‘break me off a piece of that.’”

“McConnell’s cudgel is the 60-vote filibuster,” continues Clift. “In today’s closely divided senate (53 to 47), those few votes give McConnell his power. There’s no way to get to 60 votes to force a floor vote on anything gun-related, so McConnell gets to operate with absolute immunity knowing a handful of GOP defectors joining the Democrats can’t reach that threshold, and most won’t even risk it.”

This is what he has used to block popular action on everything from background checks to protecting young immigrants to election security, all while spending the Senate’s whole time confirming far-right judges.

“McConnell is accountable only to the Republican voters of Kentucky, and he showers them with benefits,” writes Clift. “He’s up for reelection in 2020 and he’s facing the best the Democrats have to offer, Amy McGrath, a retired Marine Corps fighter pilot who will have the blue wave at her back in red Kentucky. That may not be enough, but wouldn’t it be sweet if it were.”

She quotes Ira Shapiro, a former congressional staffer, who told her in an email, “We will not have a functioning Senate or a healthy politics until Senator McConnell is ousted from power.”

Raw Story

 

The Director of National Intelligence: From bad to much worse

Trump forces DNI Coats out

Dan Coats was never our top pick to head the Intelligence community but while we disagreed with his politics he did a credible job running the agency. Now Tyrant Trump, in his continuing slow-rolling bit take over of the US Government. is going to try an install his flunkey John Ratcliffe to replace Dan Coats as intelligence chief

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, among many others, called Coats’ resignation “bad news for the security of America”

Trump announced in a tweet Sunday that Dan Coats will step down as the director of national intelligence on August 15. In his place, Trump will nominate far-out conspiracy theorist John Ratcliffe a republican congressman from Texas, to head the intelligence community.

“I am pleased to announce that “highly respected”(?) Congressman John Ratcliffe of Texas will be nominated by me to be the Director of National Intelligence,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “A former U.S. Attorney, John will lead and inspire greatness for the country he loves. Dan Coats, the current Director, will be leaving office on August 15th. I would like to thank Dan for his great service to our Country. The Acting Director will be named shortly.”

In a resignation letter submitted Sunday, Coats said he had overseen the reauthorization of surveillance rules allowing the U.S. to collect the online communications of foreigners outside of the country, addressed threats to U.S. elections and improved the intelligence community’s budget processes. Things that Trump isn’t the least bit interested in.

“The intelligence community is stronger than ever and increasingly well prepared to meet new challenges and opportunities,” Coats said. “I believe it is time for me to move on to the next chapter of my life.”

Coats, a former ambassador and conservative Republican senator from Indiana, spent his tenure in the administration publicly at odds with Trump on issues such as Russian election interference, North Korea, climate change and the capability of terrorist groups, particularly ISIS. He reportedly considered stepping down in February over his frustrations with Trump but Vice President Mike Pence, who is said to be one of his closest allies in the administration, persuaded him to remain in the role.

Late on Sunday, kiss up Ratcliffe tweeted that he was “deeply grateful” to Trump for “the opportunity to lead our Nation’s intelligence community and work on behalf of all the public servants who are tirelessly devoted to defending the security and safety of the United States.”

Ratcliffe’s nomination follows his audition of extremely aggressive questioning of Robert Mueller during the former special counsel’s congressional testimony last week.

A former prosecutor and staunch Trump ally, Ratcliffe garnered praise from Trump’s allies for his over the top grilling of Mueller

House and Senate leaders in both parties appeared rattled at the news that Coats was stepping down. Democrats condemned Trump’s pick, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., stating Coats’ resignation “is bad news for the security of America.” Even “Moscow Mitch” McConnell said he was “very sorry to learn” that Coats would be leaving his job. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., vehemently denounced Trump’s plan to nominate Ratcliffe to replace Coats. “It’s clear that Ratcliffe was selected because he exhibited blind loyalty to Trump with his demagogic questioning of former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III,” Schumer said in a statement. “If Senate Republicans elevate such a partisan player to a position that requires intelligence expertise and nonpartisanship, it would be a big mistake.”

Ratcliffe’s suck-up performance in the Mueller hearing earned him attention among Trump and other Republicans, But Ratcliffe had also been on Trump’s short-list to replace former Attorney General Jeff Sessions before he ultimately chose another total lackey William Barr.

Trump has been wanting to replace Coats since at least February. Coats has drawn Trump’s ire more than once for not defending him publicly on matters of national security and foreign affairs. He was famously caught off guard during an on-stage interview at last year’s Aspen Security Form when he appeared visibly surprised by an announcement that Trump was planning on inviting Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington.

“Say that again?” Coats quipped to MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “That is going to be special.” That really pissed Trump off.

In January, Trump lashed out his top intelligence officials after they testified about their assessments of worldwide threats to U.S. national security, which presented significant differences with his own views.

“Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!” Trump tweeted at the time.

Post Based Info from Politico, Raw story, MSNBC, and Salon

Intelligence Committee: Russians hacked election systems in all 50 states, #MoscowMitch is cool with it

A report from the Senate Intelligence Committee shows the Russians targeted election systems in all 50 states. Senate Dictator and chief Trump enabler Mitch McConnell doesn’t care! Tag him #MoscowMitch

Wednesday, former special counsel Robert Mueller went before Congress and testified that the Russians were still interfering in U.S. elections and “they’re doing it as we sit here.”

In response, “Dictator of the Senate” #MoscowMitch McConnell blocked a series of election security bills that would have strengthened our election system. He said Democrats were only passing bills requiring paper ballots and funding the Election Assistance Commission for “political benefit.” The reality is there’s no way that either of those gives an edge to Democrats, but it clear that old #MoscowMitch feels that republicans retain an edge if he lets the Russians continue to meddle.

Russian meddling is far more widespread than many had first realized. On Thursday, right around the time #MoscowMitch was refusing to let the Senate even take a vote, the Senate Intelligence Committee issued a bipartisan report saying election systems in all 50 states had been targeted by Russia during the 2016 elections. Worse, they gained some level of access in 21 states. (a fact we have stated here many times)

The Russians would have been able to delete voters from the rolls.  The report says that in at least one state — Illinois — the Russians gained a level of access where they could have actually deleted or changed votes.

They have been setting the stage for further interference. One cybersecurity expert told the committee Russian efforts looked like they were “conducting the reconnaissance…so that you could actually understand the network, establish a presence so you could come back later and actually execute an operation.”

These revelations are just the tip of the iceberg because the Intelligence Committee has been working on this report for two-and-a-half years, and this 67-page report issued Thursday is only one of five volumes it will release over the next month. A large portion of the report is redacted because of intelligence concerns, but what one can read is startling enough.

Importantly the committee found, when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the FBI got around to telling states about the hacking threat, which they didn’t do until well into the 2016 general election, “the warnings did not provide enough information or go to the right people.” Worse, the alerts provided “no clear reason for states to take this threat more seriously than any other alert received.”

#MoscowMitch has blocked election security bills twice this week and the Republican leader also prevented the Obama administration from warning Americans about Russian meddling in 2016.

With the 2020 election right around the corner, #MoscowMitch’s decision to look the other way has many calling him “Putin’s other puppet”

 

Mueller has downplayed the importance of some key events and felony crimes in his report

Some Democrats and critics of Donald Trump have been railing against Republicans for admitting that they haven’t read former special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report for the Russia investigation and for saying that they don’t plan to. But journalist and Trump critic Jed Shugerman takes a different approach in an in-depth piece published in the Daily Beast this week: rather than attacking Republicans and Trump supporters for not bothering to read the report, Shugerman argues that Mueller’s report isn’t as damning of Trump and his allies as it should have been — and that Mueller is downplaying the importance of some key events.

“The bottom line is that the Mueller Report is a failure not because of Congress or because of public apathy, but because it failed to get the law, the facts or even the basics of writing right,” Shugerman asserts. “When Mueller testifies before Congress sometime in July, he should be pressed on all of this.”

In his report, Mueller concluded that the 2016 Trump campaign’s interactions with Russians, although questionable, didn’t rise to the level of a full-fledged criminal conspiracy. But Shugerman views Mueller’s analysis as flawed.

“It seems Mueller did not hire any legal experts with experience in campaign finance regulation,” Shugerman complains. “Given that this investigation was about campaign crimes, this appears to a revealing oversight with serious consequences.”

Shugerman goes on to say that Mueller’s “errors meant that, first, he failed to conclude that the Trump campaign criminally coordinated with Russia.” And the Daily Beast writer adds that Mueller “failed to indict campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, for felony campaign coordination.”

In 2018, Manafort was vigorously prosecuted in federal court for a long list of financial crimes thanks to Mueller’s investigation — and Gates became the prosecution’s star witness. But neither of them was accused of “felony campaign coordination,” Shugerman writes.

Shugerman, in his article, goes on to list and describe, in detail, interactions between Trump’s campaign and Russians in 2016 — and those interactions, he believes, are more damning than Mueller concludes in his report.

For example, Shugerman asserts, “Mueller should have concluded that both Manafort and Gates engaged in felony campaign coordination, and he should have indicted Manafort for it. Manafort is a lawyer with decades of experience working for presidential campaigns: it would be less difficult to establish knowing and willful violations. And Manafort’s extraordinary record of lying to prosecutors — and coordinating his lies with Trump’s lawyers — would help prove the case as an inference of consciousness of guilt.”

Shugerman concludes his piece by stressing that when Mueller publicly testifies before two committees in the House of Representatives on July 17, he hopes members of Congress will address some of the ways in which his report falls short — and why the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russians three years ago were more damning than the report indicates.

“Given Mueller’s failure and Trump’s exploitation of that failure,” Shugerman stresses, “it is now Congress’ duty to the public, the candidates under investigation and future candidates to identify the law clearly and to explain that some of this behavior was a civil violation — and in fact, a criminal violation.”

From Raw Story

 

 

Racists, Traitors anti-free press and more election interference just another day in Trump world

Donald Trump Jr and an army of suspicious social media accounts target Kamala Harris with a dumb racist smear

Donald Trump sarcastically asked Vladimir Putin not to meddle in the 2020 election — hours after his son helped amplify an attack on Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) that was pushed by suspicious bot accounts.

Shortly after Harris dealt former Vice President Joe Biden a devastating blow by questioning his commitment to racial justice, Donald Trump Jr. retweeted a post questioning the California Democrat’s own racial credentials.

Trump doofus son later deleted his post, but an army of sketchy-looking Twitter accounts (Russian backed) began pushing the same theme just minutes later.

Caroline Orr

@RVAwonk

A lot of suspect accounts are pushing the “Kamala Harris is not Black” narrative tonight. It’s everywhere and it has all the signs of being a coordinated/artificial operation.  #DemDebate2

That message was further amplified by Katrina Pierson, Trump’s former campaign spokeswoman.

Katrina Pierson

@KatrinaPierson

 Kamala Harris is going to get a stern talking to after the debate. Can’t play the race card without going all the way…Obama did choose Biden &none one yelled foul! Obama is actually African American – Kamala Harris is not. Who is best to speak for the AA Community?  #DemDebate2

Raw Story

This so called “Booming economy” benefits only the rich, the rest of us are out of luck

 

Americans are not happy, and for good reason: They continue to suffer financial stress caused by decades of flat income. And every time they make the slightest peep of complaint about a system rigged against them, the rich and powerful tell them to shut up because it is all their fault.

One percenters instruct them to work harder, pull themselves up by their bootstraps and stop bellyaching. Just get a second college degree, a second skill, a second job. Just send the spouse to work, downsize, take a staycation instead of a real vacation. Or don’t take one at all, just work harder and longer and better.

The barrage of blaming has persuaded; workers believe they deserve censure. And that’s a big part of the reason they’re unhappy. If only, they think, they could work harder and longer and better, they would get ahead. They bear the shame. They don’t blame the system: the Supreme Court, the Congress, the president. And yet, it is the system, the American system, that has conspired to crush them.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, unemployment is low and the stock market is high. But skyrocketing stocks benefit only the top 10 percent of wealthy Americans who own 84 percent of stocks. And while more people are employed now than during the Great Recession, the vast majority of Americans haven’t had a real raise since 1979.

It’s bad out there for American workers. Last month, their ranking dropped for the third year running in the World Happiness Report, produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a UN initiative.

These sad statistics reinforce those in a report released two years ago by two university professors. Reviewing data from the General Social Survey, administered routinely nationally, the professors found Americans’ assessment of their own happiness and family finances has, unambiguously, declined in recent years. But if Americans would just work harder, everything would be dandy, right?

No. Not right. Americans work really, really hard. A third of Americans work a side hustle, driving an Uber or selling crafts on Etsy. American workers take fewer vacation days. They get 14, but typically take only 10. The highest number of workers in five years report they don’t expect to take a vacation at all this year. And Americans work longer hours than their counterparts in other countries.

Americans labor 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more than Brits, and 499 more than the French, according to the International Labor Organization.

And the longer hours aren’t because American workers are laggards on the job. They’re very productive. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates that the average American worker’s productivity has increased 400 percent since 1950.

If pay had kept pace with productivity, as it did in the three decades after the end of World War II, American workers would be making 400 percent more. But they’re not. Their wages have flatlined for four decades, adjusting for inflation.

That means stress. Forty percent of workers say they don’t have $400 for an unexpected expense. Twenty percent can’t pay all of their monthly bills. More than a quarter of adults skipped needed medical care last year because they couldn’t afford it. A quarter of adults have no retirement savings.

If only Americans would work harder. And longer. And better.

Despite right-wing attempts to pound that into Americans’ heads, it’s not the solution. Americans clearly are working harder and longer and better. The solution is to change the system, which is stacked against workers.

Workers are bearing on their backs tax breaks that benefited only the rich and corporations. They’re bearing overtime pay rules and minimum wage rates that haven’t been updated in more than a decade. They’re weighted down by U.S. Supreme Court decisions that hobbled unionization efforts and kneecapped workers’ rights to file class-action lawsuits. They’re struggling under U.S. Department of Labor rules defining them as independent contractors instead of staff members. They live in fear as corporations threaten to offshore their jobs—with the assistance of federal tax breaks.

Last year, the right-wing majority on the U.S. Supreme Court handed a win to corporatists trying to obliterate workers’ right to organize and collectively bargain for better wages and conditions. The court ruled that public sector workers who choose not to join unions don’t have to pay a small fee to cover the cost of services that federal law requires the unions provide to them. This bankrupts labor unions. And there’s no doubt that right-wingers are gunning for private sector unions next.

This kind of relentless attack on labor unions since 1945 has withered membership. As it shrank, wages for both union and nonunion workers did too.

Also last year, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations can deny workers access to class-action arbitration. This compels workers, whom corporations forced to sign agreements to arbitrate rather than litigate, into individual arbitration cases, for which each worker must hire his or her own lawyer. Then, just last week, the right-wing majority on the court further curtailed workers’ rights to class-action suits.

In a minority opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that the court in recent years has routinely deployed the law to deny to employees and consumers “effective relief against powerful economic entities.”

No matter how hard Americans work, the right-wing majority on the Supreme Court has hobbled them in an already lopsided contest with gigantic corporations.

The administrative branch is no better. Just last week, the Trump Labor Department issued an advisory that workers for a gig-economy company are independent contractors, not employees. As a result, the workers, who clean homes after getting assignments on an app, will not qualify for federal minimum wage (low as it is) or overtime pay. Also, the corporation will not have to pay Social Security taxes for them. Though the decision was specific to one company, experts say it will affect the designation for other gig workers, such as drivers for Uber and Lyft.

Also, the Labor Department has proposed a stingy increase in the overtime pay threshold—that is, the salary amount under which corporations must pay workers time and a half for overtime. The current threshold of $23,660 has not been raised since 2004. The Obama administration had proposed doubling it to $47,476. But now, the Trump Labor Department has cut that back to $35,308. That means 8.2 million workers who would have benefited from the larger salary cap now will not be eligible for mandatory overtime pay.

It doesn’t matter how hard they work; they aren’t going to get the time-and-a-half pay they deserve.

Just like the administration and the Supreme Court, right-wingers in Congress grovel before corporations and the rich. Look at the tax break they gave one percenters in 2017. Corporations got the biggest cut in history, their rate sledgehammered down from 35 percent to 21 percent. The rich reap by far the largest benefit from those tax cuts through 2027, according to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center. And by then, 53 percent of Americans—that is, workers, not rich people—will pay more than they did in 2017 because tax breaks for workers expire.

The White House Council of Economic Advisers predicted the corporate tax cut would put an extra $4,000 in every worker’s pocket. They swore that corporations would use some of their tax cut money to hand out raises and bonuses to workers. That never happened. Workers got a measly 6 percent of corporations’ tax savings. In the first quarter after the tax cut took effect, workers on average received a big fat extra $6.21in their paychecks, for an annual total of a whopping $233. Corporations spent their tax breaks on stock buybacks, a record $1 trillion worth, raising stock prices, which put more money in the pockets of rich CEOs and shareholders.

That’s continuing this year. Workers are never going to see that $4,000.

No wonder they’re unhappy. The system is working against them.

https://www.rawstory.com/2019/05/the-untold-story-of-trumps-booming-economy/?utm_source=push_notifications

LEO GERARD, INDEPENDENT MEDIA INSTITUTE – COMMENTARY