Tommy CarcettiTommy Carcetti's Journal
In basketball, "flopping" is a diversionary tactic when a player is either barely touched by an opponent, or not touched at all, but then throws him or herself down to the ground in the hopes of fooling the referees into calling a personal foul and setting up a free throw.
It's a desperation move, usually made when one's team is losing, which relies little on athletic ability and far more on acting skills.
But basketball players are not the only ones to "flop."
Professor Karlan makes a harmless pun that merely mentions the name of Trump's son--Boom! She was "mocking" Barron Trump!
Representative Schiff paraphrases the readout of phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky--Boom! He was "falsifying the record" and ought to be "impeached" for "treason"!
Lieutenant Colonel Vindman raises concern about the substance of the Trump-Zelensky call--he's a "foreign agent"!
A whistleblower--still not yet identified--reports via proper channels his concerns about the call--He/she is supporting a "coup" against Trump and must be publically identified, mocked, and humiliated!
The reason why Trumpists do all of this is quite simple and transparent--the evidence against Trump is so completely damning that they're desperate to create any sort of counternarrative that will distract the public away from the facts. It's what they've tried to do with the whole IG report and ridiculous claims that the 2016 Trump campaign was "illegally spied upon;" thankfully, it appears from initial reports the IG did not take the bait.
It's why they want to make this most recent episode all about Joe and Hunter Biden and Crowdstrike and the DNC and poor Alexandra Chalupa whose name gets dropped by Republicans left and right even though she did little more than help bring out some facts that showed Paul Manafort's criminal behavior.
We, the People, are the refs.
Don't buy it.
White House officials stated that the primary focus of President Trump's visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center Saturday was to visit a service member recently injured in the line of duty.
Officials did admit that a portion of the nearly four hour visit was dedicated to Trump undergoing what they described as "a routine portion of the President's annual physical"--namely a measurement of his height. They stated doctors remain to recall the President to their hospital at own discretion on an ongoing basis to obtain other vital signs, such as temperature, blood type, nasal and ear canal cleanliness, intestinal appendix functioning levels and other measurements intended to get a fuller picture of his overall health for his yearly physical report.
However, officials insist that the majority of the time Trump spent at Walter Reed was to visit an injured serviceman, Staff Sergeant George George Glass.
"Sergeant Glass was wounded by sniper fire in Kandahar Province," the spokesperson said. "Normally, we don't release details of these highly classified missions, but President Trump insisted Sergeant Glass's bravery not be hidden from public view."
The spokesperson then stated the purpose of the mission was to investigate a potential link between Hunter Biden and Al Qaeda operatives. The link became known after former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, husband-and-wife attorneys Joseph DiGenova and Victoria Toesing, and former columnist for The Hill John Solomon spent the past several weeks in the Kybher Pass region meeting with former Taliban leadership.
Trump told White House insiders his nearly three hour, forty-five minute meeting with Sergeant Glass went very well.
"Upon entering the room, President Trump found Sergeant Glass smiling and wearing a red 'Make America Great Again' baseball cap," the spokesperson said. "Sergeant Glass then repeatedly thanked President Trump for many, many things, such as securing the southern border, taking a hard line on Chinese trade, reducing African-American unemployment to a historic low, exiting the onerous Paris Climate Treaty agreement, tackling new infrastructure projects on a near-weekly basis and draining the swamp."
The spokesperson added, "At one point, a tearful Sergeant Glass looked President Trump straight in the eye and told him, 'Sir, whatever you do, don't let the Deep State destroy you, sir. Sir, you do whatever it takes to bring those bastards to justice for this coup of an impeachment sham that Shifty Shiff and Nasty Nancy have going on in the House, sir.'"
At that point according to White House officials, President Trump pulled out the Presidential Medal for Honoring Bravery in Service Animals that he had originally intended to present to Conan, the service dog assigned to the Delta Force squadron responsible for killing former ISIS leader Abu Bahk al-Baghdadi and instead placed it around Sergeant Glass' neck, noting, "It looks very good on you. It would look good on me, too. You know, I always wanted one of these myself, you know? Maybe I should do that. Maybe I should give myself a medal and wear it around wherever I go. Boy, I bet that would drive the people in the fake news crazy. Fake News!"
When pressed by the media for any proof that this meeting actually took place at Walter Reed and for proof that a Staff Sergeant George George Glass actually exists--noting that such a name mirrored the exact plotline of the Season Two, Episode Nine of The Brady Bunch titled "The Not So Ugly Duckling"-- the White House Spokesperson responded, "You know, that's a very good question. We're going to look into that, and we should have a response for you as soon as we want to give you one."
DETAILS AT ELEVEN
Bravo, Madame Ambassador.
And thank you.
Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, July 25, 2019 between Donald Trump and Volodmyr Zelensky
In a rush to defend Donald Trump against allegations of quid pro quo, bribery, extortion, abuse of powers, and everything else under the sun as it pertains to the impeachment saga now brewing in the House, Republicans and supporters of Trump have tried to throw just about all arguments against the wall to see what sticks.
Whether it be making arguments of "double/triple hearsay" or questioning when the Ukrainians knew their military aid was being delayed or claiming that Zelensky wasn't pressured by Trump or attacking and unmasking potential whistleblowers or even attacking the patriotism of some of the witnesses such as Lieutenant Colonel Vindman (yes, really!) they are doing all they can to muddy the waters as much as possible.
But if we want to get down to brass tacks on the matter, it's really quite simple.
This is really just a matter of one thing: Abuse of power.
Namely, that a President should not be able to use the powers of his public office for personal or political gain. That's a principle as old as this country, to try to fend against autocracy.
Trump's rather ridiculous defense to his actions is that in raising issues to President Zelensky, he was merely acting in the interest of the US Government in the hopes of rooting out corruption in Ukraine.
And corruption in Ukraine is indeed an actual problem, as it is all the post-Soviet states. Even as someone who has roots in Ukraine and family living there, I'm not blind to admit that fact.
The problem is, Trump identified only two acts of supposed "corruption." The first was some absurd conspiracy theory about Crowdstrike and the DNC and the 2016 elections that--once you read into it--makes no sense whatsoever. And the second is attacks against Hunter Biden, Vice President Biden's son who had served on the board of a Ukrainian company Burisma that at one point had been investigated by the Ukrainians for corrupt practices. The problem there is no one--and I mean no one--has ever actually alleged that Hunter Biden specifically did anything wrong. And when it comes to Vice President Biden, Trump and others willingly misstate the facts and distort a timeline to claim that Biden himself pressured the Ukrainian government to remove a prosecutor general who had investigated Burisma (he hadn't--Biden's statements were part of US policy as well as that of the EU and IMF, and the prosecutor general who was removed actually had let the Burisma investigation drop, so.....)
The fact of the matter is that Trump doesn't care about Ukraine. He views them with a suspicious eye because he blames them for the conviction of his campaign manager Paul Manafort, who had been paid millions under the table out of money raided from the treasury by the corrupt ex-President Yanukovych. He's more than happy to repeat Putin's talking point that Ukraine supposedly isn't even a real country. Bottom line is that the only way he would ever care about Ukraine is if they did him a personal favor.
So he doesn't care about actual corruption in Ukraine. He's not worried about what company got the paving contract for the highway between Lviv and Ivano Frankivsk, or why.
He only cares about dirt on Biden and the DNC. He's a simple man like that.
But how can we prove abuse of power?
Well, it's easy. Incredibly easy. Ridiculously easy, even.
Trump says "Read the Transcript"? Well, to the extent the memorandum released could constitute a "transcript", then fine. We can do just that.
And the one thing that definitely proves that Trump was acting in his own personal interest in making demands on Zelensky, as opposed to the interests of the government? One guy.
Trump's personal attorney. And the person he directed Zelensky--the Ukrainian President--to speak to as it pertains to these matters.
That ends all debate right there. Because there is no excuse for a President to be using his personal attorney to conduct foreign policy with foreign leaders.
None whatsoever. Abuse of Power. Case closed.
Rudy Giuliani has no foreign policy experience. He has no diplomatic experience. He has no expertise on Ukrainian or Eastern European affairs. He doesn't speak Ukrainian or Russian. He's not from the region. His only two contacts to the region are two personal friends who have recently been indicted for fraudulent business practices. He doesn't have the proper security clearances and has never been appointed to any official position.
He's the President's personal attorney.
That is an absolutely ridiculously huge conflict of interest.
Someone like Rudy Giuliani should never in a million years be placed in the position of handling US foreign policy.
It's laughably absurd.
So why then did Trump do just that, if not to abuse his position as President to try and gain a personal political advantage?
Ask any Trump supporter to give you a straight answer. And they won't be able to. (Believe me, I've already tried.)
"Why Giuliani?"--Abuse of Power.
(I realize this is borderline GD: DP, but I think there are issues that go beyond the primary itself in here. If mods find it necessary to repost, I will.)
Hillary Clinton's charge against Tulsi Gabbard--implied, since she did not bother to use her name, and yet Tulsi immediately confirmed it was all about her--that Gabbard was being used as a propaganda tool for the Russians and could even be groomed as a potential third party disruptor candidate, was received by some as a wild conspiracy theory.
However, to say the notion of a candidate of Gabbard's ideology might "go rogue" is some ridiculous, far-fetched notion is actually a shaky premise. There has already been an example of one such candidate.
In 2016, a professor named Tim Canova decided to challenge then-DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz for her Florida Congressional Seat.
Many Democrats--including here at DU--who had some gripe or grievance as to Wasserman-Schultz's handling of the DNC were quick to jump aboard the Canova bandwagon, offering their vocal--and sometimes even monetary--support. Canova fashioned himself a "good liberal" and an alternative to what he claimed was the epitome of the party establishment. And he took prominent stances on environmental issues and civil rights, issues we seemingly could all agree with.
But at the very same time, he was doing some very questionable things. Such as appearing on the radio show of Joyce Kaufman, an extreme far-right local talk show host who was once tapped to be one-term Republican Allen West's chief of staff and once proclaimed at a tea-party rally, "If ballots don't work, bullets will!" Kaufman offered Canova her support in his campaign against DWS, and Canova gladly took it. I remember raising the alarm about this at DU when it happened, but it mostly went unnoticed.
Canova continued to receive positive word-of-mouth support from many Democrats as his candidacy continued, perhaps less as an endorsement of Canova as instead a way to complain about whatever irked them about DWS's leadership.
Then in the summer of 2016, the DNC famously got hacked and emails of party officials--including DWS--popped up on Wikileaks. Canova decided the best reaction to this criminal activity (which intelligence has since confirmed was the act of the Russian government) was to file an FEC complaint against DWS, citing to these emails as evidence of some sort of plot by her against him.
In the end, Canova's 2016 primary challenge fell short. DWS beat him by about 14%, which was narrower than some of her previous challenges but still a comfortable win on her part representing thousands of votes in her favor.
Following his defeat, Canova did not go graciously, however, alleging that thousands of votes in his favor were destroyed. His gripes against the DNC only got worse, and by early 2017 he was going on record supporting wild conspiracy theories about the DNC supposedly murdering its staffer Seth Rich.
His vocal pronouncements--including over his Twitter account--seemed to support an odd policy, decrying any sort of engagement against the Syrian Assad government and also insisting that the allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 in support of Donald Trump was a "hoax" and the investigation by Robert Mueller into such interference was a "witch hunt." He is a vocal supporter of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and frequently retweets pieces by quasi-left media figures Glenn Greenwald, Aaron Mate, Michael Tracey, and others. He recently posted pictures "in solidarity" with the Paris "Yellow Vest" movement, a movement many believe has benefited from covert Russian support in an effort to destabilize the center-left French Macron government.
And by 2018, Canova decided he was going to quit the Democratic Party for good. He would still challenge Debbie Wasserman Schultz as an independent though. This time, DWS won in a rout--Canova received only about 5% of the vote, but Canova again astonishingly claimed he was the victim of voter fraud. He then attached himself onto Republican efforts to stop a recount of votes in Broward County that actually dealt with the razor-thin results in the Governor and US Senate Races.
By all appearances, Canova seems to have resigned himself to being nothing more than an agent of chaos. And if you go to his Twitter feed (but be careful not to levy any sort of criticism his way, or he will block you--I know this personally), you will find a most bizarre amalgamation of feeds. You'll see occasional left leaning pronouncements on environmental issues, a lot of support for Julian Assange, a lot of re-tweeting of quasi-left pundits, and increasingly more and more a lot of retweeting of Republicans and conservative figures without criticism, including many tweets by Donald Trump himself. Most of these deal with attacks on the Democratic Party or the investigation into Russian interference with our elections.
Tim Canova and Tulsi Gabbard share many of the same beliefs and ideologies, and if you want to get a sense how Gabbard might end up, the road paved by Tim Canova since 2016 seems to be a good guess.
This was posted on Brad Parscale's (Trump's campaign manager) Twitter feed recently:
Brad ParscaleVerified account @parscale · Oct 7
The irony that @stranahan is probably right on Ukraine is I have known him since I was a teenager, 30 years ago! We worked together in Topeka Kansas.
Another Kansas patriot.
Keep digging Lee.
7:12 AM - 7 Oct 2019
The man he mentions, Lee Stranahan, is an employee of Sputnik News, which is owned/controlled by the Russian government. He is also the man who has openly admitted to helping to get Roger Stone in contact with Guccifer 2.0 during the 2016 election. Guccifer 2.0 is who US intelligence has said is the outfit run by Russian intelligence agencies and who is responsible for hacking the DNC.
And if you visit his Twitter feed, it's full of demands to repeal the Magnitsky Act sanctions against Russia (you know, the ones the Russians lobbied about during their 2016 Trump Tower meeting.)
(According to his Wikipedia page, he also is a part time erotic photographer, but that's neither here nor there.)
More on Stranahan here:
Anyways, Stranahan's most recent work seems to be pushing the theory that it was the DNC who was the real miscreant in the 2016 elections, not Trump or the Russians. He's been focusing--almost obsessively--on a woman named Alexandra Chalupa, who is the daughter of Ukrainian immigrants and who did some contract work with the DNC. Their theory is that the DNC sent Chalupa to Ukraine, where she was able to get proof of illicit payments Paul Manafort was getting from deposed autocrat and Putin ally Viktor Yanukovych. These items then helped with Manafort's ultimate conviction for tax fraud.
Now, it is true that Chalupa was able to get a hold of the Manafort payment records, which were actually proven to be genuine by Manafort's own accounting; however, there's no evidence whatsoever that the DNC sent Chalupa to get those records, or even if it did, whether that would actually constitute a crime.
But that truth's all secondary to these guys---they just desperately want any shiny non-story to distract from the actual story of Russian interference and hacking in the 2016 campaign on behalf of Donald Trump.
And the fact that the Trump campaign is still--still!--in 2019 reaching out to persons known to be agents of Russian media and Russian hackers is absolutely astounding IMHO.
But we're seeing these guys at their last resort. They're desperate at this point, and will do anything. Anything.
In the wake of a letter sent yesterday by counsel for President Trump indicating the White House's intent not to comply with ongoing impeachment inquiries in the House of Representatives, the White House counsel has sent a second letter which states that Trump should not be forced the "indignity" of having to run for re-election next year.
"Forcing the President to take time out of his busy schedule to run a cross-country campaign, all while he could be using such ever valuable time to focus on important matters of policy and governance, is an unjust burden," the letter reads. "Frankly, it is something that no President should be forced to have to do, and we are not aware of any President before Donald Trump being subjected to such ridiculous requirements of having to pander to the public's often frivolous demands."
The letter went on to request that the traditional form of elections--wherein after a series of primary elections and caucuses, each party nominates a candidate, who then face off in a general election in November--be scrapped in 2020 and replaced with a more simplified public referendum on President Trump's job performance.
This unified national referendum would ask a simple question: "Has President Donald J. Trump #MadeAmericaGreatAgain?" and would be followed by two separate answers. One would read, "Yes, I'm all aboard the Trump Train! Woo-woo!", while the second would read, "Not yet, all because of the obstructionist Democrat (sic) Party."
"We believe the notion of a Presidential election that involves dueling candidates places an unnecessary emphasis on personalities over the idea of the one person whose job it is to serve the best interest of his people," the letter added.
The letter went on to question the necessity of other long-running facets of American democracy, such as the checks-and-balances system, judicial oversight of the executive branch, Presidential term limits, and the concept of opposition political parties in general.
Details at Eleven.
Because "fake news" used to be a real thing. It used to be about false stories being spread via dubious fly-by-night websites over social media, which overwhelmingly favored Donald Trump and was heavily supported by foreign governments (i.e. Russia).
Then after he was elected, and knowing how he was elected and who was responsible for getting him elected, Trump began to use the "fake news" term not to describe any actual news that was fake, but instead towards any media outlets who dared not to paint him in the most flattering light.
Trump having run the term completely into the ground, it is now functionally meaningless to the public. It's now nothing more than a joke, a meme, a silly retort.
And now Trump is doing the same thing to the notion of "impeachment" and "treason."
Representative Schiff, Speaker Pelosi....even Republican Senator Mitt Romney must now be "impeached" for the "high crimes and misdemeanors" of criticizing Donald Trump. Their actions--in Schiff's case doing little more than paraphrasing the contents of a telephone call--constitute nothing less than "treason."
Never mind that members of Congress cannot be "impeached."
Never mind that the President of the United States should know that members of Congress cannot be "impeached" and certainly not for the mere "crime" of criticizing a sitting President, which is something that has taken place for over 230 years now and is a sign of a healthy democracy.
Trump's intent is to strip all terms of their actual meanings and turn them into cheap jokes. Nothing more and nothing less.
This past Saturday, while my area was still in the proverbial Cone of Death of a major hurricane, I went out to get some Chinese takeout at our local takeout establishment.
As I pulled into the left-hand turning lane and turned on my signal to pull into the plaza where the takeout place was located, I noticed a motorcycle travelling in the opposite direction. It slowed and moved into its right hand turning lane, meaning it was also headed towards the same plaza.
Figuring it had the right of way, I dutifully sat in the left hand turn lane and waited for the motorcycle to turn in. However, when it came for him to turn into the plaza, he instead came to a stop and sat there for a second or two.
Reminding him that he had the right of way, I waived my arm to tell him to turn in.
Still nothing. He just sat there for a couple more seconds like a bump on the log, seemingly oblivious to me.
Not wanting to lose any more time, I figured he had forfeited his right of way and I began to make my left turn in. And just as I did, the man on the motorcycle started to angrily gesture and wave his arm, only then realizing that I was there and turning in.
I pull into the plaza parking lot, and I notice that the man on the motorcycle is directly behind me and has also parked in the same parking lot.
Not one for awkward confrontations, I pray that he was heading towards one of the other two restaurants in the plaza, but as I walk towards the takeout place, I notice there he is, walking right behind me.
Now, I have been cut off many times in traffic. And typically I'll react with an angry wave of my hand, and I'll be upset for a grand total of maybe 3 seconds. 5 seconds, tops. And by then it's ancient history. But I have no guarantee how others might react.
I open the door, and the motorcycle man is literally 5 feet behind me. As I open the door, the lady at the counter announces, "Next person!"
I don't have a second to say a word to her before the motorcycle man immediately barges in front of me and asks for his order, without any regard for the fact that I was technically the next person in line.
Whatever. If he feels I somehow cut him off earlier, let him take my place in line and get his order. As long as he doesn't say anything to me.
And yet, just as he finishes his order, he turns directly to me and says to me in a thick New York/New Jersey accent--not in a shouting manner, but very bluntly--"If you ever pull that stunt on me ever again, I guarantee you that you won't be coming out in one piece."
Now, I'm a pacifist by nature. I've never gotten into a fistfight in my life, and have no plans to do so. Still, I'm forever situationally aware of things and if I ever am forced to defend myself, I will.
So I assess him up. He's at least 20 years older than me, probably in his 60s, and a foot shorter than me. So I feel reasonably confident about my situation if it were to come to blows.
I simply shake my head at him.
"Chill out, man," I tell him. "You're going to give yourself a heart attack if you keep acting like this. Besides, you ended up taking my place in line, so consider things square between us."
"Oh, my heart just bleeds for you," he responds sarcastically, seemingly not aware of my honest peace offering.
Without saying anything else he takes his food and leaves the store. I approach the lady at the counter--who is a familiar face--and she just has an expression on her face like, "What the hell was that about?"
"Must be the stress from the hurricane," I say.
She's clearly sympathetic towards me and tells me not to worry about it, people yell at her on a daily basis. I thank her and take my food.
Thinking about this in retrospect, I have to wonder how the situation might have played out if it were not simply an angry old man spewing empty threats, but someone with a gun displayed at his side.
The dynamic of the situation would have changed considerably.
How would I have reacted differently?
How would the lady behind the counter reacted differently?
We're told by the gun apologists, "An armed society is a polite society," but such a case, I can't see the outcome being any more polite or civilized.
1. Russia actively worked to get the presidential candidate of its choosing elected president.
2. That candidate and his campaign was actively aware of these efforts by Russia and--at a bare minimum--did nothing to dissuade or stop these efforts.
3. When an investigation about these efforts from Russia was taken up, the candidate--now President--undertook multiple efforts in an attempt to impede the investigation.
Those are things that neither side can deny as being fact at this point.
This is not a political problem. This is a goddamn national security problem and it needs to be addressed with the seriousness it demands.
Balls to the wall.
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