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  • Judge says Michael Flynn may not avoid prison in scathing remarks: ‘I can’t hide my disgust’

    A federal judge has unloaded on Donald Trump’s ex-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn during a court hearing on Tuesday over an agreement he and his lawyers made seeking no jail time in exchange for his cooperation — while leaving the door open for his incarceration.

    Judge Emmett Sullivan, who has presided over Flynn’s sentencing for lying to the FBI about his secret work for the Turkish government before joining the Trump administration, suggested the retired three-star general can still face a harsh sentence despite his military service.

    The judge said Flynn’s secretive work for a foreign government “arguably” undermined “everything this flag over here stands for” while motioning towards a US flag in the Washington courtroom.

    “I am going to be frank with you, this crime is very serious,” Judge Sullivan said to Flynn. “I can’t hide my disgust, my disdain, at this criminal offense.”


    Flynn was one of the several dozen Trump associates caught up in former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, along with other allies of the president ensnared on tax crimes and other various bank and money laundering scams, from former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, to former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and Rick Gates, the president’s former campaign chairman.

    He has since attempted to claim that he was tricked into having a conversation with FBI investigators which he described as a “chat” rather than an interrogation — a point the judge skewered as a falsity while rebuking the former general.

    According to The Guardian, which covered the court hearing, the judge appeared to want to make clear that Flynn could certainly still face jail time for his crimes, and that he was not immediately planning to approve the agreement his lawyers had apparently arranged for him.

    Flynn agreed to postpone the sentencing, though Judge Sullivan once again echoed that jail time could very much still be in his future.

    “I didn’t say ‘wink, wink, nod, nod’,” the judge said. “I’m not promising anything.”

    Flynn, who was recently pardoned by the president, has stirred controversy in recent days over his calls for Mr Trump to overturn his electoral defeat with the help of the US military.

    “There is no way in the world we are going to be able to move forward as a nation,” Flynn said. “[The president] could immediately, on his order, seize every single one of these machines.”

    “Within the swing states,” he added, “if he wanted to, he could take military capabilities, and he could place those in states and basically rerun an election in each of those states.”
    _______
    “Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.”
    ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

    Comment


    • Originally posted by CNN_News

      Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger calls for new Voting Rights Act
      Published on 19 December 2020



      Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger tells CNN's Michael Smerconish that the Biden administration needs to work on a new Voting Rights Act, and that it is irresponsible to not have one.

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      ...

      Last edited by JRT; 20 Dec 20,, 02:28.
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      Comment


      • ‘I’m Haunted by What I Did’ as a Lawyer in the Trump Justice Department
        No matter our intentions, lawyers like me were complicit. We owe the country our honesty about what we saw — and should do in the future.

        I was an attorney at the Justice Department when Donald Trump was elected president. I worked in the Office of Legal Counsel, which is where presidents turn for permission slips that say their executive orders and other contemplated actions are lawful. I joined the department during the Obama administration, as a career attorney whose work was supposed to be independent of politics.

        I never harbored delusions about a Trump presidency. Mr. Trump readily volunteered that his agenda was to disassemble our democracy, but I made a choice to stay at the Justice Department — home to some of the country’s finest lawyers — for as long as I could bear it. I believed that I could better serve our country by pushing back from within than by keeping my hands clean. But I have come to reconsider that decision.

        My job was to tailor the administration’s executive actions to make them lawful — in narrowing them, I could also make them less destructive. I remained committed to trying to uphold my oath even as the president refused to uphold his.

        But there was a trade-off: We attorneys diminished the immediate harmful impacts of President Trump’s executive orders — but we also made them more palatable to the courts.

        This burst into public view early in the Trump administration in the litigation over the executive order banning travel from several predominantly Muslim countries, which my office approved. The first Muslim ban was rushed out the door. It was sweeping and sloppy; the courts quickly put a halt to it. The successive discriminatory bans benefited from more time and attention from the department’s lawyers, who narrowed them but also made them more technocratic and therefore harder for the courts to block.

        After the Supreme Court’s June 2018 decision upholding the third Muslim ban, I reviewed my own portfolio — which included matters targeting noncitizens, dismantling the Civil Service and camouflaging the president’s corruption — overcome with fear that I was doing more harm than good. By Thanksgiving of that year, I had left my job.

        Still, I felt I was abandoning the ship. I continued to believe that a critical mass of responsible attorneys staying in government might provide a last line of defense against the administration’s worst instincts. Even after I left, I advised others that they could do good by staying. News reports about meaningful pushback by Justice Department attorneys seemed to confirm this thinking.

        I was wrong.

        Watching the Trump campaign’s attacks on the election results, I now see what might have happened if, rather than nip and tuck the Trump agenda, responsible Justice Department attorneys had collectively — ethically, lawfully — refused to participate in President Trump’s systematic attacks on our democracy from the beginning. The attacks would have failed.

        Unlike the Trump Justice Department, the Trump campaign has relied on second-rate lawyers who lack the skills to maintain the president’s charade. After a recent oral argument from Rudy Giuliani, Judge Matthew Brann (a Republican) wrote that the campaign had offered “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence.” Even judges appointed by Mr. Trump have refused to throw their lots in with lawyers who can’t master the basic mechanics of lawyering.

        After four years of bulldozing through one institution after another on the backs of skilled lawyers, the Trump agenda hit a brick wall.

        The story of the Trump campaign’s attack on our elections could have been the story of the Trump administration’s four-year-long attack on our institutions. If, early on, the Justice Department lawyers charged with selling the administration’s lies had emptied the ranks — withholding our talents and reputations and demanding the same of our professional peers — the work of defending President Trump’s policies would have been left to the types of attorneys now representing his campaign. Lawyers like Mr. Giuliani would have had to defend the Muslim ban in court.

        Had that happened, judges would have likely dismantled the Trump façade from the beginning, stopping the momentum of his ugliest and most destructive efforts and bringing much-needed accountability early in his presidency.

        Before the 2020 election, I was haunted by what I didn’t do. By all the ways I failed to push back enough. Now, after the 2020 election, I’m haunted by what I did. The trade-off wasn’t worth it.

        In giving voice to those trying to destroy the rule of law and dignifying their efforts with our talents and even our basic competence, we enabled that destruction. Were we doing enough good elsewhere to counterbalance the harm we facilitated, the way a public health official might accommodate the president on the margins to push forward on vaccine development? No.

        No matter our intentions, we were complicit. We collectively perpetuated an anti-democratic leader by conforming to his assault on reality. We may have been victims of the system, but we were also its instruments. No matter how much any one of us pushed back from within, we did so as members of a professional class of government lawyers who enabled an assault on our democracy — an assault that nearly ended it.

        We owe the country our honesty about that and about what we saw. We owe apologies. I offer mine here.

        And we owe our best efforts to restore our democracy and to share what we learned to help mobilize and enact reforms — to remind future government lawyers that when asked to undermine our democracy, the right course is to refuse and hold your peers to the same standard.

        To lead by example, and do everything in our power to ensure this never happens again. If we don’t, it will.
        ____________
        “Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.”
        ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

        Comment


        • Originally posted by GVChamp View Post

          You can be against all these things without wearing the label "anti-Zionist." Even the US doesn't agree with the settlement practices. Taking up the label of "anti-zionist" is a choice that means a whole lot of stuff besides "I support the current US position on Israel."

          I dismiss anyone who says they are an anti-zionist out of hand. There is no value in trying to sort wheat from chaff. Anyone who has spent more than 5 minutes online knows that there are a whole bunch of moronic Israel-bashers flying the anti-zionist label, and even if they aren't anti-semitic AT THEIR CORE, in practice they are just useful idiots for the anti-semitic crowd.
          So according to you I am either anti-Semitic or an idiot....
          “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
          Mark Twain

          Comment


          • The Scary Spectacle of Trump’s Last Month in Office
            Mixed signals about the pandemic, silence about the Russian cyberattack, and toying with martial law.

            Some may think of these as “the last days of Pompeii.”

            If that reference strikes you as too erudite to be fitting, you might prefer to think of the month ahead as “the last days of chaos in a blender.”

            Whatever you call them, the final days of the Donald Trump administration are upon us, and they look much like every other day at the White House for the last four years.

            From the point of view of the White House press corps, it goes something like this: You start each day having little guidance from the White House as to what will happen, something batshit nuts will occur, people will become irate, Trump’s fans will circle the wagons and start shooting at mirages, and the press corps will sigh and keep going.

            Friday was no different.

            It started with Vice President Mike Pence getting his coronavirus vaccination on television. In theory, this should have been a moment of joy in the country—an opportunity to celebrate scientific ingenuity and the beginning of the end of the pandemic that has dominated this annus horribilis.

            However, the moment was filled with contradictions. Outside the Brady Press Briefing Room in the White House is a sign that tells anyone who proceeds into the staff offices in the rest of the West Wing to wear a mask. Yet the White House staff routinely does not—even though dozens of White House staffers, Secret Service officers, and campaign personnel have been infected by the coronavirus. The Trump team routinely calls people who wear masks “Karens” or “snowflakes” or other words you admonish young children not to use.

            Making matters worse, many Trump fans are QAnon supporters and believe that vaccines are ineffective, or will leave patients with autism, or are an attempt at mind control, or other things you tell young children are mere fiction.

            So Trump telling us that he is responsible for a quick and easy vaccine and Pence getting his so quickly comes across as just more mixed messaging of the sort the administration has offered all year. If the pandemic is a serious problem, why isn’t mask-wearing strictly enforced in the White House? If it isn’t a serious problem, why take credit for a vaccine?
            As it turns out, Trump has lived in a world of fiction and alternate facts for four years—and that does no one any good.

            Early Friday morning, Larry Kudlow gaggled on the North Lawn driveway. He thanked the press—“I appreciate our discussions and relationships”—leaving the impression that at least he had a grasp on reality and accepted that a new administration would be arriving in January. Less than four minutes after Kudlow arrived, however, there was a sudden call for the presidential press pool to assemble and enter the Oval Office. A few minutes later it was called off. We never found out why.

            Trump, meanwhile, still hasn’t conceded. Friday a staffer told me he was “stewing” and “angry.” Another staffer said “It’s just a normal Friday”—that is, you would not have the impression that the administration is winding up its work.

            By the afternoon, new details were emerging about Russia’s massive hacking attack on the U.S. federal government—an attack that included vital defense installations and key components of our nuclear arsenal.

            Trump said nothing. (When he finally did remark on the hacking—in tweets over the weekend, of course—he downplayed and distorted what happened, contradicting remarks from his own secretary of state.)

            Another big story that broke on Friday reported that Jared Kushner created a shell corporation that funneled millions from the Trump campaign into private coffers.

            Trump said nothing.


            Meanwhile, that same afternoon, in a private interview in front of a West Wing fireplace with a Daily Caller reporter, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany criticized activist journalists—including a Playboy reporter (that would be me) for “heckling” and shouting out questions at the end of briefings.

            Harry Truman had it right: If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. So it’s odd that the Trump administration is full of people complaining about the heat, but you’ll have to drag them kicking and screaming from the kitchen.

            The child-like efforts of the Trump administration on Friday were, in a nutshell, everything the administration has been about for four years.

            But wait, there’s more.

            Rudy Giuliani showed up before lunch. We all caught a glimpse of him walking without a mask into the West Wing. Speculation was he was on the hunt for a pre-emptive pardon, or—more than likely—he was there for additional “campaign” strategy.

            Late Friday afternoon, Trump reportedly had an Oval Office meeting with Giuliani, Sidney Powell, Michael Flynn, and others about strategy going into his final month in office. There were screaming matches, one White House source said, regarding martial law and hoax investigations. Other sources said nothing happened in the Oval on Friday. But the talk of invoking martial law scared enough who heard it that it was passed to several of us in the press.

            “This is nuts,” I was told.

            “What in this administration hasn’t been?” I responded.

            By the end of the day on Friday, some of the photographers and technicians from the press pool returned from a Pence appearance with “Space Force” cookies that looked just like Star Trek comm badges and announced that the administration was stealing from Guardians of the Galaxy with the name “guardians” for the members of Space Force.

            So all in all, it was a typical day in this White House.

            Trump never showed. He tweeted.

            McEnany never briefed—she whined to a favorable news organization.

            The pandemic raged. Hundreds of thousands have died. Millions have been infected.

            And tens of millions of Americans carry on in confusion about reality—regarding the pandemic and the election. Like Trump, they are willfully ignorant or inconceivably obtuse about the truth. They cannot digest facts that don’t fit their preconceived notions.
            If we were to be told by scientists today that an asteroid like the one that killed the dinosaurs is plummeting toward Earth, perhaps half the American population would deny it was real. (I guess our Space Force guardians would have their work cut out for them.)

            Mix Trump’s incompetence with his anti-democratic desire to overturn the election and his anti-republican willingness to consider doing so through martial law, and you have a recipe for an unprecedented and profoundly dangerous moment in American political history.

            This last month in office will be historic, that is all we know.
            _________
            “Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.”
            ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

            Comment


            • Trump’s Longtime Banker at Deutsche Bank Resigns
              Rosemary Vrablic, who oversaw hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to President Trump’s company, will leave the bank next week.

              President Trump’s longtime banker at Deutsche Bank, who arranged for the German lender to make hundreds of millions of dollars of loans to his company, is stepping down from the bank.

              Rosemary Vrablic, a managing director and senior banker in Deutsche Bank’s wealth management division, recently handed in her resignation, which the bank accepted, according to a bank spokesman, Daniel Hunter.

              “I’ve chosen to resign my position with the bank effective Dec. 31 and am looking forward to my retirement,” Ms. Vrablic, 60, said in a statement.

              The reasons for the abrupt resignation of Ms. Vrablic, as well as that of a longtime colleague, Dominic Scalzi, were not clear. Deutsche Bank in August opened an internal review into a 2013 real estate transaction between Ms. Vrablic and Mr. Scalzi and a company owned in part by Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of Mr. Trump and a client of Ms. Vrablic’s.

              Ms. Vrablic and Mr. Scalzi joined Deutsche Bank in 2006 from Bank of America. Ms. Vrablic quickly made a name for herself as one of her division’s leading rainmakers. In 2011, she landed a prominent new client: Mr. Trump, who for decades had been mostly off-limits to the mainstream banking world because of his tendency to default on loans. With her bosses’ approval, Ms. Vrablic agreed to a series of loans, totaling well over $300 million, for his newly acquired Doral golf resort in Florida, for his troubled Chicago skyscraper and for the transformation of the Old Post Office building in Washington into a luxury hotel.

              When Mr. Trump became president, his relationship with Deutsche Bank came under a microscope by regulators, prosecutors and congressional Democrats. Ms. Vrablic’s starring role in the suddenly controversial relationship — she was a V.I.P. guest at Mr. Trump’s inauguration — pushed the publicity-shy banker into the spotlight.

              The relationship between Mr. Trump and the German bank is the subject of congressional, civil and criminal investigations. The Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance, has been investigating whether Mr. Trump committed financial crimes as he sought to get loans from Deutsche Bank.

              Mr. Scalzi didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
              _________________

              Wow that's odd....I wonder if it has anything to do with that investigation from just a few months back they mentioned:


              Deutsche Bank Opens Review Into Personal Banker to Trump and Kushner
              The bank will examine a 2013 transaction between the banker, Rosemary Vrablic, and a company part-owned by Jared Kushner.
              Aug. 2, 2020

              Deutsche Bank has opened an internal investigation into the longtime personal banker of President Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, over a 2013 real estate transaction between the banker and a company part-owned by Mr. Kushner.

              In June 2013, the banker, Rosemary Vrablic, and two of her Deutsche Bank colleagues purchased a Park Avenue apartment for about $1.5 million from a company called Bergel 715 Associates, according to New York property records.

              Mr. Kushner, a senior adviser to the president, disclosed in an annual personal financial report late Friday that he and his wife, Ivanka Trump, had received $1 million to $5 million last year from Bergel 715. A person familiar with Mr. Kushner’s finances, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly, said he held an ownership stake in the entity at the time of the transaction with Ms. Vrablic.

              When Ms. Vrablic and her colleagues bought the apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Mr. Trump and Mr. Kushner were her clients at Deutsche Bank. They had received roughly $190 million in loans from the bank and would seek hundreds of millions of dollars more.

              Typically banks restrict employees from doing personal business with clients because of the potential for conflicts between the employees’ interests and those of the bank.

              Deutsche Bank said it had not been aware that Ms. Vrablic and her colleagues had done business with a company part-owned by Mr. Kushner until being contacted by The New York Times.
              “The bank will closely examine the information that came to light on Friday and the fact pattern from 2013,” said Daniel Hunter, a bank spokesman.

              A lawyer for Ms. Vrablic, a senior private banker and managing director at Deutsche Bank, declined to comment.

              The White House referred questions to the Kushner family’s real estate company. Christopher Smith, the general counsel at Kushner Companies, said: “Kushner is not the managing partner of that entity and has no involvement with the sales of the apartments.”

              Ms. Vrablic bought the apartment, in a brick building at 715 Park Avenue, with Dominic Scalzi and Matthew Pontoriero. They worked for Ms. Vrablic in Deutsche Bank’s private-banking division, which caters to wealthy clients. Mr. Scalzi and Mr. Pontoriero didn’t respond to requests for comment on Sunday.

              The size of Mr. Kushner’s stake in Bergel 715 is unclear. The company has sold dozens of condo units in the Park Avenue building since the 1980s, according to public records. At least one apartment was sold to the Kushner family’s real estate company.

              Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump had not previously disclosed their stake in Bergel 715. (They did list the entity used to make the investment in Bergel 715.) The income they reported in 2019 wasn’t related to the transaction with Ms. Vrablic.

              Bergel 715’s main owners include George Gellert, a close friend of the Kushner family and an investor in numerous deals with Kushner Companies.

              There is no indication that the three Deutsche Bank employees bought the apartment — described on Zillow as a 908-square-foot, one-bedroom, one-bath unit with a balcony overlooking Park Avenue — at a below-market price.

              In 2014, the deed for the apartment, Unit 12A, was transferred to a limited liability company registered to Ms. Vrablic’s home address, according to property records. The next year, the apartment was sold for $1.85 million — a not-unheard-of 22 percent increase from the 2013 purchase price.

              Ms. Vrablic has worked in the Deutsche Bank private-banking division since 2006. She has a reputation as one of New York’s leading private bankers, generating tens of millions of dollars of annual revenue for the bank.

              The Kushner family has been a client of Ms. Vrablic’s since before she joined Deutsche Bank. In 2011, Mr. Kushner brought Ms. Vrablic to meet his father-in-law. At the time, most mainstream banks refused to do business with Mr. Trump because of his history of defaults and bankruptcies.

              “I introduced him to this woman Rosemary,” Mr. Kushner said in closed-door testimony to the House Intelligence Committee in 2017. “She is one of the biggest private wealth bankers, probably in the world. Amazing banker, amazing woman. Very smart banker. And she banked my family for a long time.”

              Ms. Vrablic and her superiors soon agreed to take Mr. Trump on as a client, even though he had defaulted on a loan from the bank three years earlier. In 2012, Deutsche Bank lent Mr. Trump a total of about $175 million for his newly acquired Doral golf resort outside Miami and for his Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago.

              Mr. Trump soon came back for more. In 2014 he sought a $1 billion commitment from Ms. Vrablic to buy the Buffalo Bills football team. (Mr. Trump’s bid was rejected, making the loan unnecessary.) The bank agreed to lend Mr. Trump’s company $170 million for its transformation of the Old Post Office building into the Trump International Hotel in Washington. And Mr. Kushner and his mother received a $15 million personal line of credit from Ms. Vrablic’s division, the largest credit line to which Mr. Kushner or his parents had access, according to financial records reviewed by The Times.

              Ms. Vrablic was thrust into the spotlight when Mr. Trump boasted to The Times in 2016 about his strong relationship with Deutsche Bank — and inflated Ms. Vrablic’s role at the bank. “Why don’t you call the head of Deutsche Bank? Her name is Rosemary Vrablic,” he said in the interview. “She is the boss.”
              ___________

              Yeah, probably unrelated....

              And almost certainly unrelated to anything going on in the various New York State's attorney's offices.
              “Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.”
              ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

              Comment


              • TopHatter
                TopHatter commented
                Editing a comment
                NY AG James vows to continue Trump investigation
                New York Attorney General Letitia James has vowed to continue her office’s investigation into President Donald Trump’s businesses that are based in the state.

                James issued a statement following a speech made by Trump at the White House yesterday in which he quoted James without providing a source for the quotes attributed to her and blasted investigations into his business affairs.

                Because some of Trump’s businesses are in New York they fall under James’ jurisdiction. Manhattan Distrct Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. also has been conducting an investigation into Trump’s business affairs.

                The accredited White House press corps was banned from attending Trump’s speech, which the White House sent out via Facebook. The major television networks declined to carry the speech, which lasted 46 minutes and had been posted on teleprompters for Trump to read.

                Most of the speech consisted of repeats of numerous lies previously told by him about the conduct of the election, including claims that he won, and included new allegations of election misconduct for which he provided no evidence.

                In the portion dealing with the New York investigations, Trump stated: “I hear that these same people that failed to get me in Washington have sent every piece of information to New York, so that they can try to get me there. It’s all been gone over, over and over again. For $48 million you go through tax returns, you go through everything.

                “The New York attorney general, who recently ran for office campaigned without knowing me stating, ‘We will join with law enforcement and other attorneys general across this nation in removing this president from office.’ I never met her. It’s important that everybody understand she’s better. ‘It’s important that everybody understands,’ she said, ‘that the days of Donald Trump are coming to an end.’ And all it’s been, is a big investigation in Washington and New York and any place else that can investigate because that’s what they want to do.”

                In her statement issued shorty before 8 last night, James said: “As the independently elected attorney general of New York, I have a sworn duty to protect and uphold state law. Last year, after Michael Cohen’s testimony, our office opened an investigation into the financial dealings of the Trump Organization. That investigation continues today. Unlike the president and the unfounded accusations he hurled today, we are guided by the facts and the law, and the politics stop at the door. Period.”

                Cohen had served for a decade as Trump’s attorney and close business associate. He alleged in Congressional testimony, numerous interviews and the book “Disloyal” that Trump’s businesses engaged in numerous improprieties.

                As part of James’ investigation, Trump’s son Eric was ordered to testify in a deposition during which he was questioned by investigators from James’ office. The deposition was carried out via video conferencing. Neither Eric Trump, his attorneys, nor James’ office provided details as to the content of the deposition.

                It was learned that another Trump child, Ivanka, sat for a deposition by investigators from the Washington, D.C., attorney general’s office on Dec. 1. That was in connection with a lawsuit filed by the attorney general’s office against the Trump Organization and the Presidential Inaugural Committee alleging the misuse of inaugural committee funds. Documents have been subpoenaed from Ivanka Trump, first lady Melania Trump and others in connection with that investigation.

                The New York Times reported Dec. 1 that President Trump has had discussions with advisors about issuing presidential pardons to his children, son-in-law Jared Kushner and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani who has been serving as Trump’s personal attorney. A presidential pardon applies to violations of federal law and does not shield its recipient from prosecution for violating state laws.
                __________

                I love Trump's narcissistic go-to line "I never met her"....Gotta diminish her in any way he can...as if that makes the slightest bit of difference.


              • TopHatter
                TopHatter commented
                Editing a comment
                Manhattan DA Intensifies Investigation of Trump

                State prosecutors in Manhattan have interviewed several employees of President Donald Trump’s bank and insurance broker in recent weeks, according to people with knowledge of the matter, significantly escalating an investigation into the president that he is powerless to stop.

                The interviews with people who work for the lender, Deutsche Bank, and the insurance brokerage, Aon, are the latest indication that once Trump leaves office, he still faces the potential threat of criminal charges that would be beyond the reach of federal pardons.

                It remains unclear whether the office of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., will ultimately bring charges. The prosecutors have been fighting in court for more than a year to obtain Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns, which they have called central to their investigation. The issue now rests with the Supreme Court.

                But lately, Vance’s office has stepped up its efforts, issuing new subpoenas and questioning witnesses, including some before a grand jury, according to the people with knowledge of the matter, who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the investigation.

                The grand jury appears to be serving an investigative function, allowing prosecutors to authenticate documents and pursue other leads, rather than considering any charges.

                When Trump returns to private life in January, he will lose the protection from criminal prosecution that his office has afforded him. While The New York Times has reported that he discussed granting preemptive pardons to his eldest children before leaving office — and has claimed that he has the power to pardon himself — that authority applies only to federal crimes, and not to state or local investigations like the one being conducted by Vance’s office.

                Trump, who has maintained he did nothing improper, has railed against the inquiry, calling it a politically motivated “witch hunt.”

                The investigation by Vance, a Democrat, has focused on Trump’s conduct as a private business owner and whether he or employees at his family business, the Trump Organization, committed financial crimes. It is the only known criminal inquiry into the president.

                Employees of Deutsche Bank and Aon, two corporate giants, could be important witnesses. As two of Trump’s oldest allies — and some of the only mainstream companies willing to do regular business with him — they might offer investigators a rich vein of information about the Trump Organization.

                There is no indication that either company is suspected of wrongdoing.

                Because grand jury rules require secrecy, prosecutors have disclosed little about the focus of the inquiry and nothing about what investigative steps they have taken. But earlier this year, they suggested in court papers that they were examining possible insurance, tax and bank-related fraud in the president’s corporate dealings.

                In recent weeks, Vance’s prosecutors questioned two Deutsche Bank employees about the bank’s procedures for making lending decisions, according to a person familiar with the interviews. The employees were experts in the bank’s underwriting process, not bankers who worked with the Trump Organization, the person said.

                While the focus of those interviews was not on the relationship with Trump, bank officials expect Vance’s office to summon them for additional rounds of more specific questions in the near future, the person said.

                Glimpses into the investigation have come in court records during the bitter and protracted legal battle over a subpoena for eight years of Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns and other financial records.

                A month after Vance’s office demanded the documents from the president’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, in August 2019, Trump sued to block compliance with the subpoena. The case has twisted its way through the federal courts, with the president losing at every turn, and is now in front of the Supreme Court for the second time.

                Danny Frost, a spokesman for Vance, declined to comment on recent moves in the investigation. Alan Garten, the Trump Organization’s general counsel, declined to comment, but recently said that the company’s practices complied with the law and called the investigation a “fishing expedition.”

                Aon confirmed that the company had received a subpoena for documents from the district attorney’s office but declined to comment on the interviews with prosecutors. “As is our policy, we intend to cooperate with all regulatory bodies, including providing copies of all documents requested by those bodies,” a company spokeswoman said in a statement.

                Deutsche Bank, Trump’s primary lender since the late 1990s, received a subpoena last year from the district attorney and has said it is cooperating with the inquiry.

                In court papers, the prosecutors have cited public reports of Trump’s business dealings as legal justification for their inquiry, including a newspaper report that concluded the president may have inflated his net worth and the value of his properties to lenders and insurers.

                Michael Cohen, the president’s former lawyer and fixer who turned on him after pleading guilty to federal charges, also told Congress in February 2019 that Trump and his employees manipulated his net worth to suit his interests.

                “It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed among the wealthiest people in Forbes, and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes,” he said in testimony before the House Oversight Committee.

                Trump’s supporters have noted that Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to lying to Congress and accused him of lying again to earn a reduced prison sentence.

                The Trump Organization’s lawyers are also likely to argue to prosecutors that Trump could not have duped Deutsche Bank because the bank did its own analysis of Trump’s net worth.

                Over the years, employees and executives inside the bank thought that Trump was overvaluing some of his assets by as much as 70%, according to current and former bank officials. Deutsche Bank still decided to lend Trump’s company hundreds of millions of dollars over the past decade, concluding that he was a safe lending risk in part because he had more than enough money and other assets to personally guarantee the debt.

                The prosecutors’ interviews with the employees was not the only recent activity in the investigation. Last month, The Times reported that Vance’s office had subpoenaed the Trump Organization for records related to tax write-offs on millions of dollars in consulting fees, some of which appear to have gone to the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump.

                According to people with knowledge of the matter, the subpoena sought information about fees paid to TTT Consulting LLC, an apparent reference to Ivanka Trump and other members of her family. Ivanka Trump was an executive officer of the Trump companies that made the payments, meaning she appears to have been paid as a consultant while also working for the Trump Organization.

                Garten, the Trump Organization’s general counsel, argued in a statement at the time that the subpoena was part of an “ongoing attempt to harass the company.” He added that “everything was done in strict compliance with applicable law and under the advice of counsel and tax experts.”

                Vance’s investigation has spanned more than two years and shifted focus over time. When the investigation began, it examined the Trump Organization’s role in hush money payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump. Prosecutors were examining how the company recorded a reimbursement to Cohen for one of the payments. Cohen pleaded guilty to federal campaign finance violations for his role in the scheme.

                A state grand jury convened by Vance’s office heard testimony from at least one witness about that issue last year, according to a person with knowledge of that testimony, but the payments have receded as a central focus of the inquiry.
                _____________

              • TopHatter
                TopHatter commented
                Editing a comment
                Is This the Real Reason Why Trump’s Freaking Out About the Defense Bill?

                For 59 years, Congress has passed and the president has signed the National Defense Authorization Act. So why is Donald Trump threatening to veto this year’s $700-billion-and-change plan, which has broad bipartisan support and is widely seen as critical to national security?

                Trump has objected to a provision that would change the names of military bases named after Confederate officials and to a non-defense add-on that would preserve a piece of the 1996 Telecommunications Act shielding tech companies from liability for content posted by their users.

                None of that explains why he’d risk a humiliating veto override to shoot down a popular bipartisan bill. One thing that would explain his bizarre position here is another add-on: one that could expose financial arrangements that Trump would prefer to keep hidden.

                That’s a bill that emanated from the House of Representatives, was folded into its Senate analog called the Corporate Transparency Act that was then attached to the NDAA after passing the Senate on a veto-proof 86-14 vote. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney started working on the Illicit Cash Act—a mouthful of an acronym for Improving Laundering Laws and Increasing Comprehensive Information Tracking for Criminal Activity in Shell Holdings—in 2007 to modernize federal money-laundering laws. It requires shell companies to report their beneficial owners, thus preventing exploitation of U.S. companies by shell companies controlled by rogue nations, terrorists, drug traffickers, weapons smugglers, sex traffickers, and other criminal operators—maybe even vainglorious tax-evading money launderers.

                If this legislation had been in place in the mid-1990s, the Trump family may have been inhibited from setting up the shell company All County Building Supply & Maintenance whose main purpose, according to epic reporting by The New York Times, was “to enable Fred Trump to make large cash gifts to his children and disguise them as legitimate business transactions thus evading the 55 percent tax.” Who knows what shell companies profiting Donald Trump have yet to be exposed, and could be with the passage of this Act?


                “Currently, the U.S. is at the bottom of the pack with respect to corporate transparency,” Maloney has said. “In many states, more personal information is needed to obtain a library card than to establish a legal entity that can be used to facilitate tax evasion, money laundering, fraud, and corruption. The U.S has been identified in several studies as one of the easiest jurisdictions in which to open an anonymous company.”

                Recall Ike Kaveladze, the so-called ‘eighth man’ at the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya. Twenty-something years ago, Kaveladze opened up over 2,000 Delaware shell companies and set them up with bank accounts at a now-defunct bank in San Francisco and also with Citibank. These shell companies were used to launder over a billion dollars through Latvia. Senator Carl Levin called Kaveladze—who has never been convicted of a crime and who called the Government Accountability Office report (PDF) detailing his shell companies “a witch hunt”—a “poster boy for money laundering.”

                “Beyond the impacts for law enforcement,” Maloney has noted, the Illicit Cash Act, “will directly affect us here at home by lowering housing costs in New York City,” where shell companies parking money in high-end real estate have cut into housing supply and pushed up real estate costs for everyone else. That includes many of the 1,300 Trump condominiums that were purchased with all cash by anonymous shell companies, according to a Buzzfeed investigation.

                A New York Times analysis of Trump’s financial records recently concluded that he has liabilities approaching $420 million, with the bulk of that bill coming due in the next few years. If Maloney is right, then the Illicit Cash Act represents a direct financial threat to him. Are there any others?

                Well, how about the undisclosed bank accounts tied to Trump that the Times found in Ireland, the UK, and China? It revealed that his secret China account, which millions poured into and out of, was actually in the name of one of the 500 limited liability companies owned by Trump that we know of. How many other LLCs does he own that we don’t know of?

                The broker for Trump Sunny Isles development in Florida, Elena Baranoff, who was once described on the cover of a Russian magazine as “Trump’s Russian Hand,” sold countless units in that development to anonymous Russians purchasing through shell companies. When Baranoff died in 2014, David Correia and Lev Parnas, the Rudy Giuliani associate now facing fraud charges, picked up her brokerage business for the Trump development while setting up their own shell company called Mendo Cali LLC which they also leveraged into brokering investment by Russians into potential budding cannabis businesses out west. Baranoff and then Parnas were following in the footsteps of Dolly Lenz, the broker who reportedly sold 65 units in Trump World Tower in the 1990s, mostly to Russians using shell companies.

                In unit 63A, the apartment directly below Donald’s in Trump Tower, Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov (aka Taiwanchik) ran a gambling ring. That was a different gambling ring to the one run by fellow Trump Tower resident Anatoly Golubchik, reputedly a lieutenant and close associate of “Boss of Bosses” Semion Mogilevich, who ran a multi-million dollar Bank of New York money-laundering scam making substantial use of shell companies. Golubchik and Mogilevich have shell companies that share the same address, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

                Speaking of Mogilevich, he was able to obtain the release of a notorious Russian vor by the name of Vyacheslav Ivankov from a Siberian gulag. He arranged for Ivankov to live in Brighton Beach in Brooklyn in the mid-aughts and run his rackets from there. The FBI could not locate Ivankov for months, before finally ascertaining that Ivankov had moved into the Trump Towers. Think the FBI could have used the Illicit Cash Act back then?

                Those are dots we can see. Who knows what other ones the Illicit Cash Act—a past, present, and future threat to Donald Trump, his children, and his business—would connect? Identification of beneficial ownership of shell companies and the ability of foreign whistleblowers to more effectively blow their whistles on empty vessels like All County Building Supply & Maintenance and Michael Cohen’s Essential Consultants will inhibit nefarious, covert business dealings. It is a shame that Congresswoman Maloney’s legislative quest took so long. But the bipartisan support it has engendered reflects the very real need for this legislation.

                If Donald Trump is not afraid, he should be. Take it to the bank. You know, the one offshore.
                ____________

                Tick Tock Tick Tock...

            • Trump's legacy: He changed the presidency, but will it last?

              WASHINGTON (AP) — The most improbable of presidents, Donald Trump reshaped the office and shattered its centuries-old norms and traditions while dominating the national discourse like no one before.

              Trump, governing by whim and tweet, deepened the nation’s racial and cultural divides and undermined faith in its institutions. His legacy: a tumultuous four years that were marked by his impeachment, failures during the worst pandemic in a century and his refusal to accept defeat.

              He smashed conceptions about how presidents behave and communicate, offering unvarnished thoughts and policy declarations alike, pulling back the curtain for the American people while enthralling supporters and unnerving foes — and sometimes allies — both at home and abroad.

              While the nation would be hardpressed to elect another figure as disruptive as Trump, it remains to be seen how much of his imprint on the office itself, occupied by only 44 other men, will be indelible. Already it shadows the work of his successor, President-elect Joe Biden, who framed his candidacy as a repudiation of Trump, offering himself as an antidote to the chaos and dissent of the past four years while vowing to restore dignity to the Oval Office.

              “For all four years, this is someone who at every opportunity tried to stretch presidential power beyond the limits of the law,” said presidential historian Michael Beschloss. “He altered the presidency in many ways, but many of them can be changed back almost overnight by a president who wants to make the point that there is a change.”

              Trump's most enduring legacy may be his use of the trappings of the presidency to erode Americans’ views of the institutions of their own government.

              From his first moments in office, Trump waged an assault on the federal bureaucracy, casting a suspicious eye on career officials he deemed the “Deep State” and shaking Americans' confidence in civil servants and the levers of government. Believing that the investigation into Russian election interference was a crusade to undermine him, Trump went after the intelligence agencies and Justice Department — calling out leaders by name — and later unleashed broadsides against the man running the probe, respected special counsel Robert Mueller.

              His other targets were legion: the Supreme Court for insufficient loyalty; the post office for its handling of mail-in ballots; even the integrity of the vote itself with his baseless claims of election fraud.

              “In the past, presidents who lost were always willing to turn the office over to the next person. They were willing to accept the vote of the American public,” said Richard Waterman, who studies the presidency at the University of Kentucky. “What we’re seeing right now is really an assault on the institutions of democracy.”

              Current polling suggests that many Americans, and a majority of Republicans, feel that Biden was illegitimately elected, damaging his credibility as he takes office during a crisis and also creating a template of deep suspicion for future elections.

              “That’s a cancer,” Waterman said. “I don’t know if the cancer can be removed from the presidency without doing damage to the office itself. I think he’s done tremendous damage in the last several weeks.”

              Jeopardizing the peaceful transfer of power was hardly Trump's first assault on the traditions of the presidency.

              He didn’t release his tax returns or divest himself from his businesses. He doled out government resources on a partisan basis and undermined his own scientists. He rage tweeted at members of his own party and used government property for political purposes, including the White House as the backdrop for his renomination acceptance speech.

              Trump used National Guard troops to clear a largely peaceful protest across from the White House for a photo-op. He named a secretary of defense, Jim Mattis, who needed a congressional waiver to serve because the retired general had not been out of uniform for the seven years required by law. In that one example, Biden has followed Trump's lead, nominating for Pentagon chief retired Gen. Lloyd Austin, who also will need a waiver.

              Trump’s disruption extended to the global stage as well, where he cast doubt on once-inviolable alliances like NATO and bilateral partnerships with a host of allies. His “America First” foreign policy emanated more from preconceived notions of past slights than current facts on the ground. He unilaterally pulled troops from Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq and Syria, each time drawing bipartisan fire for undermining the very purpose of the American deployment.

              He pulled out of multinational environmental agreements, an action that scientists warn may have accelerated climate change. He stepped away from accords that kept Iran's nuclear ambitions, if not its regional malevolence, in check.

              And his presidency may be remembered for altering, perhaps permanently, the nature of the U.S.-China relationship, dimming hopes for a peaceful emergence of China as a world power and laying the foundation for a new generation of economic and strategic rivalry.

              While historians agree that Trump was a singular figure in the office, it will be decades before the consequences of his tenure are fully known. But some pieces of his legacy already are in place.

              He named three Supreme Court justices and more than 220 federal judges, giving the judiciary an enduring conservative bent. He rolled back regulations and oversaw an economy that boomed until the pandemic hit. His presence increased voter turnout — both for and against him — to record levels. He received unwavering loyalty from his own party but was quick to cast aside any who displeased him.

              “President Trump has been the person who has returned power to the American people, not the Washington elite, and preserved our history and institutions, while others have tried to tear them down,” said White House spokesman Judd Deere. “The American people elected a successful businessman who promised to go to Washington, not to tear it down, but to put them first.”

              At times, Trump acted like a bystander to his own presidency, opting to tweet along with a cable news segment rather than dive into an effort to change policy. And that was one of the many ways Trump changed the way that presidents communicate.

              Carefully crafted policy statements took a back seat, replaced by tweets and off-the-cuff remarks to reporters over the whir of helicopter blades. The discourse hardened, with swear words, personal insults and violent imagery infiltrating the presidential lexicon. And there were the untruths — more than 23,000, according to a count by The Washington Post — that Trump tossed out with little regard for their impact.

              It was that lack of honesty that played a role in his defeat in an election that became a referendum on how he had managed the COVID-19 pandemic, which has now killed more than 300,000 Americans.

              Day after day during his reelection campaign, Trump defied health guidelines and addressed packed, largely mask-less crowds, promising the nation was “rounding the corner” on the virus. He admitted that from the beginning, he set out to play down the seriousness of the virus.

              He held superspreader events at the White House and contracted the virus himself. And while his administration spearheaded Operation Warp Speed, which helped to produce coronavirus vaccines in record time, Trump also undermined his pubic health officials by refusing to embrace mask-wearing and suggesting unproven treatments, including the injection of disinfectant.

              “We have seen that Donald Trump’s style was one of the contributing factors to his failure as a president,
              said Mark K. Updegrove, presidential historian and CEO of the LBJ Foundation. “His successor can look at his presidency as a cautionary tale.”
              ____________
              “Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.”
              ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

              Comment


              • Originally posted by Albany Rifles View Post

                So according to you I am either anti-Semitic or an idiot....
                Well, I think you being an anti-Semite is vanishingly unlikely. More that, if you are a syndicated columnist complaining about Israel, I am almost certainly ignoring your column. If you're protesting in front of the Israeli embassy or whatever, I'm definitely not listening.

                If you post on WAB, eh, I'll probably read it unless you wrote War and Peace. Which is pretty much what online discussions on Israel almost always devolve into IME.

                But, hey, if you're an idiot on Israel, that's okay, everyone has more dumb opinions than smart opinions. I sure AF can't fix the Middle East.
                "The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood"-Otto Von Bismarck

                Comment


                • Originally posted by GVChamp View Post

                  Well, I think you being an anti-Semite is vanishingly unlikely. More that, if you are a syndicated columnist complaining about Israel, I am almost certainly ignoring your column. If you're protesting in front of the Israeli embassy or whatever, I'm definitely not listening.

                  If you post on WAB, eh, I'll probably read it unless you wrote War and Peace. Which is pretty much what online discussions on Israel almost always devolve into IME.

                  But, hey, if you're an idiot on Israel, that's okay, everyone has more dumb opinions than smart opinions. I sure AF can't fix the Middle East.
                  So to be clear...if you disagree with the policies of the State of Israel regarding the Occupied Territories you consider that person anti-Semitic?

                  See, I am of an age and been a student of foreign policy going close to 50 years and have seen Israel turn from fighting for its survival to pivoting to a darker much less sympathetic policy towards the Palestinians. This comes from studying the situation for decades, interactions with Israeli military personnel during my career and having written my capstone paper in CGSC on the 73 War.

                  I think the entire Fundamentalist Christian support of Israel to support the coming of end times is absurd and it is dangerous to base US foreign policy on that goal.

                  But you think what you think...but don't try to interpret my terminology for anti-Semitism in my interaction with another WAB member.

                  “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
                  Mark Twain

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by TopHatter View Post
                    _________________

                    Wow that's odd....I wonder if it has anything to do with that investigation from just a few months back they mentioned:

                    ___________

                    Yeah, probably unrelated....

                    And almost certainly unrelated to anything going on in the various New York State's attorney's offices.]
                    I wonder how soon before they are found floating face down in the Hudson....
                    “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
                    Mark Twain

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by Albany Rifles View Post

                      So to be clear...if you disagree with the policies of the State of Israel regarding the Occupied Territories you consider that person anti-Semitic?

                      See, I am of an age and been a student of foreign policy going close to 50 years and have seen Israel turn from fighting for its survival to pivoting to a darker much less sympathetic policy towards the Palestinians. This comes from studying the situation for decades, interactions with Israeli military personnel during my career and having written my capstone paper in CGSC on the 73 War.

                      I think the entire Fundamentalist Christian support of Israel to support the coming of end times is absurd and it is dangerous to base US foreign policy on that goal.

                      But you think what you think...but don't try to interpret my terminology for anti-Semitism in my interaction with another WAB member.
                      No, if you disagree with Israeli policies in the Occupied Territories, you are "normal." It's labelling yourself an anti-Zionist that's suspect, and "suspect" does not mean "anti-Semite."

                      "Normal" people can reasonably conclude that Palestinian leadership is and has been terrible and they largely stand in their own way, and that there isn't a "Palestinian" group to negotiate with since 2006. They can also reasonably conclude that Israeli security policies are overly severe, often illegal, and counterproductive, and they can conclude that Israeli settlement policies are incredibly inflammatory and counterproductive. They can also conclude that overall Israel is an important ally in the region and that our interest is in keeping them well-armed and well-supplied.

                      Meanwhile you're making a vague insinuation that US support of Israel is based on the Religious Right wanting to bring about Armageddon and also that Israel is like South Africa. Neither are reality. They are not reality even if you personally know a lot of fundamentalists in rural Virginia and personally know a lot of racists in the Israeli military.
                      "The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood"-Otto Von Bismarck

                      Comment


                      • Kudos to Charles Sykes for coining the phrase “Vichy Republicans” to describe the Trump collaborators.

                        https://morningshots.thebulwark.com/p/can-we-quit-trump






                        Trust me?
                        I'm an economist!

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by TopHatter View Post
                          GOP-controlled Senate defies Trump and easily passes $741 billion defense bill despite the president's veto threat
                          _________

                          Three possibilities:

                          1. Trump meekly signs the bill
                          2. Trump vetoes and the GOP overrides him
                          3. Trump vetoes and the GOP once again surrenders

                          Place your bets ladies and gentlemen, place your bets...
                          Trump vetoes a military bill that Congress passed with veto-proof majorities.

                          President Trump on Wednesday made good on his promise to veto the annual military policy bill, setting up what could be the first veto override of his presidency after both chambers of Congress overwhelmingly approved the legislation.

                          In refusing to sign the legislation, Mr. Trump cited a series of provisions, including one that would allow the military to strip the names of Confederate leaders from military bases. He also has demanded that the bill include a provision that would repeal a legal shield for social media companies that he has tangled with, a significant legislative change that Republicans and Democrats alike have said is irrelevant to a bill that dictates military policy and has become law for each of the last 60 years.

                          “My administration has taken strong actions to help keep our nation safe and support our service members,” Mr. Trump wrote in the veto notification. “I will not approve this bill, which would put the interests of the Washington, D.C., establishment over those of the American people.”

                          The House is expected to return on Monday to vote on an override. Should it pass, the Senate is expected to return on Tuesday to begin considering the override.

                          The veto is the latest sign that Mr. Trump, in his last weeks in office, is ready to challenge lawmakers in his own party, forcing them to chose between fealty to him and loyalty to their congressional leaders and, for some, their ideals.
                          _____________

                          Welp, that leaves Options 2 and 3. Now we see just how firm of a grip Trump has on Republican Party.
                          “Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.”
                          ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by GVChamp View Post

                            No, if you disagree with Israeli policies in the Occupied Territories, you are "normal." It's labelling yourself an anti-Zionist that's suspect, and "suspect" does not mean "anti-Semite."

                            "Normal" people can reasonably conclude that Palestinian leadership is and has been terrible and they largely stand in their own way, and that there isn't a "Palestinian" group to negotiate with since 2006. They can also reasonably conclude that Israeli security policies are overly severe, often illegal, and counterproductive, and they can conclude that Israeli settlement policies are incredibly inflammatory and counterproductive. They can also conclude that overall Israel is an important ally in the region and that our interest is in keeping them well-armed and well-supplied.

                            Meanwhile you're making a vague insinuation that US support of Israel is based on the Religious Right wanting to bring about Armageddon and also that Israel is like South Africa. Neither are reality. They are not reality even if you personally know a lot of fundamentalists in rural Virginia and personally know a lot of racists in the Israeli military.
                            Okay...I think we talked past each other...easy to do these days.

                            I think we are actually in violent agreement.

                            I think our stumbling block is how we define anti-Zionism....of what Zionism has morphed into and not what its spirit and best parts are what we have seen previously.

                            My bit about the Religious RIght is not to say that is why we are supporting Israel...a state which I strongly believe we need to support. It is just some of the policies which the US supported the last 4 years are right in line with the apocalyptic view of the world...something which I definitely reject.

                            As for the Palestinians...yeah they are a mess... but Israel under Netanyahu has worked to weaken that leadership so there is no one to work with.
                            “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
                            Mark Twain

                            Comment


                            • Geraldo slams Trump for leaving while COVID bill in limbo: 'What the hell are we supposed to do now?'

                              Geraldo Rivera appeared on The Five Wednesday where he slammed President Trump for heading to Mar-a-Lago while the COVID relief bill remains in limbo.

                              On Tuesday, after months of negotiations, Congress passed a COVID relief bill, but Trump was quick to say he wouldn’t sign it as is, demanding larger stimulus checks along with other changes. If no action is taken on the bill, millions of Americans will lose unemployment aid and the government will shut down on December 29. On top of that, on Wednesday, Trump vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act, a veto that will likely be overridden by Congress.

                              While others on the show blamed Congress, Rivera had some harsh words and some questions for Trump.

                              “What about the president? I mean, he’s threatening a veto. He’s gone on Christmas holiday. What the hell are we supposed to do now?” Rivera asked. “The president has said this is no good. What about the defense authorization part of this? What about paying the military? You know, what happens when all this funding is exhausted on the day after Christmas, or thereabouts?”

                              Rivera went on to castigate the president for being more focused on his attempts to remain in power than on helping the American people.

                              “We needed some leadership here, instead we got, I think, the president saying, first of all, making an allusion, ‘Maybe I’ll be the next administration.’ Which is farcical,” Rivera said. “But more importantly, he’s the leader of the free world. Give us some guidance.”

                              House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) jumped at the chance for larger stimulus checks as Trump suggested, while Republicans have stayed largely silent. But as the government shutdown looms, along with the loss of financial support that millions currently depend on, Rivera was left wondering what will happen next.

                              “Now what are they supposed to do?” Rivera asked. “He’s going to Mar-a-Lago, now is Nancy Pelosi going to meet with Mitch McConnell? Are they gonna get together, get a plan? What are the American people gonna do? We’re left adrift right now.”
                              ___________

                              Hey even a has-been like Geraldo has finally been able to adroitly sum up the entire Trump "Presidency":

                              “We needed some leadership here, instead we got, I think, the president saying, first of all, making an allusion, ‘Maybe I’ll be the next administration.’ Which is farcical,” Rivera said. “But more importantly, he’s the leader of the free world. Give us some guidance.....We’re left adrift right now.”

                              "What the hell are we supposed to do now?" you ask? Geraldo, I don't know how to tell you this but Donald Trump never wanted to provide leadership or guidance. This whole thing has been One Giant SCAM. You're supposed to do what every easy mark does when they realize they've been suckered by a con man.






                              Click image for larger version  Name:	f45062546d53c7f6ec052ca7fe159072.jpg Views:	0 Size:	98.0 KB ID:	1570068
                              “Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.”
                              ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

                              Comment

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