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2020 American Political Scene

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  • TopHatter
    Hunter Biden Is Under Investigation
    On Wednesday, news broke that the U.S. Attorney's office in Delaware is investigating Hunter Biden, son of Joe. The investigation, which is being assisted by the FBI and the IRS, apparently focuses on Hunter Biden's dealings with China, and possible subversion of tax laws therein. The soon-to-be First Son released a statement that said: "I learned yesterday for the first time that the U.S. Attorney's Office in Delaware advised my legal counsel, also yesterday, that they are investigating my tax affairs. I take this matter very seriously but I am confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the benefit of professional tax advisors."

    In theory, this should be irrelevant to the Biden presidency. The President-elect is not implicated in any way, is not under investigation, and is not responsible for what his adult children do. And if you want to argue that having children with business interests in China compromises a president's objectivity when it comes to dealing with the Chinese, well, Biden will be the second president in a row with that particular problem.

    In practice, of course, this is a pretty big deal. If things go badly for Hunter, it will rebound onto Joe, and will give some amount of credibility to other charges that have been lodged against the President-elect. On the other hand, if Hunter is exonerated, then Democrats from the president on down will be able to say "See? All of these claims are just made-up nonsense meant to distract people from the real issues." In other words, partisans on both sides of the aisle will be watching this one closely.

    And speaking of politics, one might be inclined to guess that this investigation is politically motivated, given how closely it tracks with the claims made by Donald Trump. And it certainly could be. But before committing too strongly to that thesis, it is worth keeping two things in mind. The first is that U.S. Attorneys don't usually play those kinds of political games. The second is that the investigation has been underway for months, having commenced well before the election. If the only real purpose was to harm Joe Biden and/or aid Trump, then it seems probable that someone would have found a way to leak the story before the election

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  • TopHatter
    Relax, A Trump Comeback In 2024 Is Not Going To Happen
    We’ve seen this president’s type before. They always fade away.

    Donald Trump lost the presidency, but his opponents so far have not achieved the victory they want most: A fatal puncturing of the Trump movement, a repudiation so complete that it severs his astonishing grip on supporters and leaves him with no choice but to slink offstage and into the blurry past.

    For now, Trump dominates conversations about both present and future. His outlandish claims that he won the election except for comprehensive fraud have helped raise more than $200 million since Election Day. Many of his partisans share his dream of recapturing the presidency in 2024. For those who despise him, to paraphrase a famous Democratic speech, it seems clear the work goes on, the cause endures, the fear still lives, and the nightmare shall never die.

    Except it will die — most likely with more speed and force than looks possible today.
    There are three primary reasons to be deeply skeptical that Trump’s moment of dominating his party and public consciousness will continue long after Jan. 20.

    Most important are the abundant precedents suggesting Trump does not have another important act in national politics. The perception that Trump will remain relevant hinges on the possibility that he is a unique historical figure. Trump, however, is singular in one sense only: No politician of his stripe has ever achieved the presidency. In multiple other ways, he is a familiar American type, anticipated by such diverse figures as Joseph McCarthy, George Wallace, and Ross Perot.

    Like Trump, they all possessed flamboyant, self-dramatizing personas. They tapped into genuine popular grievance toward elites, and had ascendant moments in which they caused the system to quake and intimidated conventional politicians of both parties. In every case, their movements decayed rapidly. Cults of personality in American politics are quite common. But they never live long, and Trump has offered no reason to suppose he will be an exception.

    That’s the second reason Trump is not well-positioned to retain his hold on public attention: He has largely abandoned any pretense that he thinks about anything other than his personal resentments, or that he is trying to harness his movement to big ideas that will improve the lives of citizens. When he vaulted into presidential politics five years ago, Trump’s still-potent gifts — for channeling anger, for mockery, for conspiracy theory — were once channeled to an agenda that fellow Republicans were largely neglecting, over trade, immigration, globalization, and perceptions of national decline. These days, no one can follow Trump’s Twitter feed and believe that he cares more about the public’s problems than his own, and that is not a recipe for sustaining political power.

    Here is the third reason to be bearish on Trump’s future: Politics never stands still, but Trump largely does. As he leaves the White House, Trump should be haunted by a stark reality — if he had any capacity for self-calibration, he wouldn’t be leaving the White House at all. He’s got one set of political tools. When things are going well, his instinct is to double down on those. When things are going poorly, his instinct is to double down on those. In political terms, the pandemic demanded modulation of Trump’s blame-casting brand of politics — but also would have lavishly rewarded him if he had done so.

    Trump didn’t change because he didn’t perceive the need and couldn’t conceive of how to do so. That’s a combination of flawed judgment and impoverished imagination that hardly supports optimism about his ability to retain power in the new circumstances that await him once gone from the White House.

    Time moves on. Ambitious Republicans who wish to regain control of the party and become president themselves do not have to confront and defeat Trump, as his 2016 rivals tried and failed to do. They merely have to transcend him, using issues to create leadership personas that will soon enough make the 74-year-old Trump look irrelevant, an artifact of an era that has passed. What about his 88-million Twitter followers, and the possibility that in his ex-presidency he will start his own news network? It is true that Trump will not lack for avenues to get his message out. But what will that message be, beyond repeating claims of a stolen election that his own attorney general has said are not true. Conspiracy theories, of course, can have power, even when the evidence is nil — that’s just proof of how deep and wide the conspiracy must go. But this isn’t a promising basis to return Trump to the White House or make him kingmaker.

    This brings the mind back to the figure who is the most vivid antecedent of Trump: Joe McCarthy.

    A comparison to McCarthy is usually invoked as an insult. Certainly I do not intend it as a compliment. But in this case let’s keep the comparison entirely clinical. Like McCarthy, Trump used accusation and grave warnings of national betrayal and decline to tap into currents of nativism and suspicion of elites that stretched back to the country’s early days. Like McCarthy, Trump is regarded by people who know him well as vastly more interested in publicity for himself than he is about the issues on which he inveighs. And just like McCarthy, Trump seemed to become intoxicated by publicity and power, becoming louder and more unleashed from fact the more he was challenged and the more his moment seemed to be slipping away.

    In the Washington Post the other day, Yale historian Beverly Gage noted that McCarthyism didn’t die after Joe McCarthy was censured by his fellow senators in 1954. That’s true. But McCarthy as a figure who could instill fear or command influence did recede rapidly.

    In an engaging memoir, “Without Precedent,” one of the secondary participants of the McCarthy drama shared an arresting recollection. John G. Adams was a fellow attorney with Joseph Welch (famous for his challenge to McCarthy, “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?”) in the Army-McCarthy hearings that were the Wisconsin senator’s undoing. After his censure, McCarthy on separate occasions kept calling Adams for the two to get together, to somehow demonstrate no hard feelings, in what McCarthy apparently believed would be part of his public rehabilitation. He proposed a dinner with spouses. “She despises you,” Adams replied. “She wouldn’t set foot in your door.” McCarthy giggled. “Heh, heh, you know the girls,” the disgraced senator said. “They take these things seriously.”

    This reminded me of something a reporter who has covered Trump since his New York years once told me: “It’s not that his bark is worse than his bite. He doesn’t really want to bite at all. He wants to be petted.”

    In the case of Adams and McCarthy, they did finally have their meeting, in which the senator spun fantasies of comeback. His adversary told him: “It’s no good, Joe. It’s over and finished; that’s all.”

    That turned out to be true for McCarthy, who died as a pathetic alcoholic at age 48 in 1957. It was basically true for George Wallace, who won 13.5 percent of the vote as a third-party candidate of racial and class backlash in 1968. He was shot in an attempted assassination when he tried again in 1972, by which it was already pretty clear that his hour of consequence had past. Perot, a more benign representation of the American fascination with supposed strong men who burst on the scene in noisy opposition to conventional politics, won nearly 20 percent of the vote as a Reform Party candidate in 1992. That dwindled to 8 percent when he tried again in 1996, and Perot continued to slip from public view.

    It is not just in American history but American imagination that self-invented, outsized outsiders don’t have staying power. Willie Stark, modeled after Huey Long, was shot at the end of “All the King’s Men.” F. Scott Fitzgerald delivered the same fate to Jay Gatsby. Not long after the Wizard of Oz is exposed as an amiable fraud (“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”), Dorothy awakens to discover it was all just a dream.

    The Trump years were not just a hallucination. But chances are they will soon enough come to feel like they were — which won’t leave much opportunity to return to real power.

    I have a feeling that the basic premise of this op-ed is correct: Trump won't run again in 2024. But I don't think Trump is going to fade away so quickly unless he chooses to (doubtful), dies (keep scarfing down that fast food!) or dementia grabs him by the genitals (likely).

    The Cult of Trump is unlike anything that came before him. McCarthy, Wallace and Perot never commanded the numbers of Kool-Aid drinkers that Trump does. That trio also never got off scot-free after brazenly insulting some of the most (formerly) sacred American totems.

    In the op-ed's favor, I suspect that Trump, once shorn of the halo effect of the presidency, will certainly see his influence diminished somewhat. That of course will depend on the MSM not giving him the billions in free airtime that he's enjoyed since announcing his candidacy back in 2015 or whenever it was.

    I'll be more than happy to be proven wrong. But I'll believe it when I see it.

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  • DOR

    Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody backs Texas challenge to election results in 4 states

    Democratic state representative calls case 'joke'

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody on Wednesday joined 16 other states in backing a last-chance effort by Texas to get the U.S. Supreme Court to block election results in four swing states where the vote went in favor of President-elect Joe Biden.

    State Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, called the case a "joke."

    "Oh come on. I know we have more important issues to address like housing and unemployment versus a joke lawsuit about an election that ended a month ago," Eskamani tweeted.

    From the Orlando Sentinel

    Broward Democratic activist Seth Platt responded to Moody on Twitter, writing that “You are supposed to stop criminals, not aid and abet them.”

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  • Albany Rifles
    Originally posted by surfgun View Post
    House Intelligence Member and former Presidential candidate was compromised by communist Chinese Spy.
    Unlike some GOP members of Congress when notified by the FBI REP Swalwell immediately cut ties with the individual and fully cooperated with the FBI in the investigation.

    And that was 5 years ago.

    Leave a comment:

  • JRT

    More influence operations at the Fox faction of the shadow government ministry of propaganda...

    Originally posted by Fox_News

    Judge Andrew P. Napolitano: Can President Trump pardon himself?

    The pardoning power is expressly and exclusively granted to the president in the Constitution

    Opinion: Judge Andrew P. Napolitano
    10 December 2020

    Most presidential pardons — indeed all pardons that President Trump has issued — have been for specific crimes of which the subject of the pardon has already been charged and convicted. Yet, Trump — never one to be restrained by precedent — has let it be hinted that he might issue prophylactic pardons to relatives and colleagues who have neither been convicted nor charged with any crimes.

    And Trump might pardon himself. Can he do that? The short answer is yes. Here is the backstory.

    The pardoning power is expressly and exclusively granted to the president in the Constitution. Article Two, Section 2, Clause 1 states that the president “shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.”

    When unpacked, that broad language reveals that the president can only pardon for federal crimes, not for anyone’s impeachment, and he does not need the approval of anyone else in the government.

    Trump is the subject of a criminal investigation for alleged or potential violations of New York state laws. But the existence of a state criminal probe of the president does not impair his ability to insulate himself from the legal consequences of a federal criminal probe, since it is clear that the president cannot pardon anyone — including himself — for state offenses.

    As there has been little modern litigation over the validity and scope of individual pardons for federal offenses, there is little case law. What case law does exist broadly favors an expansive view of presidential pardon power.

    The leading case is Ex parte Garland from 1866. There, the Supreme Court upheld a pardon issued to Augustus Hill Garland, a former Arkansas senator in the Confederate States of America.

    Garland, who supported his native Arkansas during the Civil War, was pardoned after the war of all offenses against the United States by President Andrew Johnson, even though the former senator had not been charged with any crimes. When federal officials, pursuant to a statute, refused to allow Garland to practice law in federal courts due to his support of the Confederacy and failure to renounce that support, he sued them.

    The Supreme Court ruled in Garland’s favor and held that the presidential pardon power “extends to every (federal) offense known to the law, and may be exercised at any time after its commission, either before legal proceedings are taken, or during their pendency, or after conviction and judgment.”

    The language in the Garland case should put an end to speculation about the legal validity of prophylactic pardons, as should our collective memories. President Gerald R. Ford famously pardoned former President Richard M. Nixon in 1974, a pardon Nixon accepted even though he had not been charged with committing any federal crime.

    And in 1977, on his first day in office, President Jimmy Carter pardoned hundreds of thousands of young men who declined to be drafted into the military during the Vietnam War era, many of whom had fled to Canada, and nearly all of whom had not been charged with draft evasion.

    President George H.W. Bush pardoned six Reagan-era officials in the Iran-Contra affair in 1992, including former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger — whose trial was about to commence at the time of the pardon and at which the pre-presidential behavior of Bush was to have been laid before the jury.

    In 2001, President Bill Clinton pardoned his half-brother, Roger, over an old cocaine possession conviction. President Clinton pardoned his former business partner Susan McDougal over a land deal in which he and Hillary Clinton had arguably been involved.

    President Clinton also infamously pardoned Marc Rich for a conviction of income tax evasion, and then accepted a substantial donation to the Clinton Foundation from Mrs. Rich.

    All of these pardons were and remain legally valid.

    It was well-known to the framers of our Constitution that British monarchs only pardoned for specific, already-charged offenses. Professor Aaron Rappaport of Hastings College of the Law at the University of California, Berkeley, has argued that the original understanding of the pardon power was that it would be used only for crimes that had already been charged.

    Others have argued that the concept of bilateral fairness — which certainly animated James Madison when he drafted the Due Process Clause of the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment — mandates that no person shall be a judge in his own case.

    Both of these points are well-taken and historically correct. If the president pardons for crimes not yet charged, is he exercising powers that the framers never understood that they were giving him? If the president pardons himself, is he acting as a judge in his own case? The answer to both of these questions is yes. Yet, the Supreme Court and history teach that while such pardons may be eviscerated politically, they will be upheld legally.

    Before the president pardons his children, his colleagues and himself, he should pardon all those convicted under federal drug laws for use and possession. They harmed no one. He should also pardon Julian Assange, who revealed the slaughter of innocent civilians and the cover-up by the U.S. military in Afghanistan, and Edward Snowden, who revealed that the feds have engaged in secret, unlawful and warrantless spying on hundreds of millions of innocent Americans.

    Assange and Snowden have been bitterly targeted and verbally savaged by the Deep State, but these heroes risked their lives and liberties so we might know the truth about government lawbreaking.

    Should pardons produce justice? Sometimes they do — as would be the case for Assange and Snowden. But the essence of a pardon is mercy, not justice — and they are often opposites.



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  • TopHatter
    Arizona Supreme Court unanimously rejects GOP bid to void Biden's win

    The Arizona Supreme Court agreed late Tuesday that President-elect Joe Biden won Arizona and its 11 electoral votes, rejecting an appeal by Arizona Republican Party chairwoman Kelli Ward to void Biden's win due to alleged fraud. Biden beat President Trump by 10,457 votes in Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey (R) certified last week, making him the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the state since 1996.

    Ward had filed her suit in Maricopa County Superior Court, but after a day and a half of testimony and oral arguments, she and her lawyers failed to persuade Judge Randall Warner that there's evidence of anything but a small number of honest mistakes in the vote count. The Arizona Supreme Court agreed unanimously.

    Ward's team failed to "present any evidence of 'misconduct,' 'illegal votes,' or that the Biden Electors 'did not in fact receive the highest number of votes for office,' let alone establish any degree of fraud or a sufficient error rate that would undermine the certainty of the election results," Chief Justice Robert Brutinel wrote. "The validity of an election is not voided by honest mistakes or omissions unless they affect the result, or at least render it uncertain," and "it is ordered affirming the trial court decision and confirming the election of the Biden Electors."

    The Arizona Supreme Court upheld Biden's win hours after the U.S. Supreme Court tersely rejected a bid by a few Pennsylvania GOP lawmakers to decertify Biden's win in the Keystone State, and hours before the "safe harbor" deadline for resolving election disputes. Trump and his allies are have lost all but one of their more than 50 lawsuits to overturn Biden's win, according to a running tally by Democratic election lawyer Marc Elias.

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  • TopHatter
    Trumpism Triumphant
    Even in defeat, the GOP surrenders to the nutcases.

    Off and on, for 25 years, I participated in National Review cruises as a speaker. I met lots of wonderful people who were intelligent, curious, and great company—but there were always cranks and conspiracy theorists too. Once, during the Clinton administration, people at my dinner table were repeating the story that Hillary had killed Vince Foster. I choked down my bite of chicken Kiev and responded, as equably as possible, “Well, for that to be true, she would also have had to transport his body to Fort Marcy Park without the Secret Service or anyone else noticing.” Several people at the table blinked back at me. Yeah? So?

    It was a tell, though I didn’t know it at the time. In later years, I noticed that cruisers weren’t citing mainstream publications for their information. They weren’t even citing National Review (which a fair percentage of the cruisers didn’t even read, I learned). They were getting their news from email lists and subscription newsletters. I noticed the same thing when speaking to conservative audiences. Someone was always buttonholing me and thrusting some obscure publication into my hands.

    These people were not hard up. They hadn’t been displaced from their union jobs by outsourcing. The ladies wore designer dresses and the men sported pinky diamonds. In 2020, people earning more than $100,000 voted for Trump over Biden by 11 points, whereas Biden earned the support of those earning less than $50,000 by 15 points.

    There’s a theory that people have rallied to Trump and alternative news sources because they feel disrespected by the mainstream, liberal-leaning press. They bristle at the condescension of liberals who, they believe, despise country music, guns, and Cracker Barrel. There is some truth in this, but my experience with conservatives makes me skeptical of that as a complete explanation. Sure, the urban/rural divide is real—and not limited to the United States—but resentment of elites has always been with us. From suspicion of the First Bank of the United States among the Jeffersonians to the populist movement of the 1890s, “coastal elites” have always been despised by some. But it didn’t drive people into abject lunacy in the past, or at least, not on the scale we see today.

    The resentment motive can’t account for our volume of crazy. A theme that unified these conspiracy-minded people was a sense of superiority—not inferiority. They felt that they had access to the hidden truth that the deluded masses didn’t understand. It was a key feature of Rush Limbaugh’s appeal. He frequently suggested that he understood that real story beneath the official version, and could penetrate the opaque Washington drama by stripping away the polite fictions to reveal the ugly realities beneath.

    After decades of this diet, and with an enormous turbo-charge from Trump, the conspiracists are in the driver’s seat of the Republican party. Today, the glazed-eyed-Hillary-murdered-Vince Foster-Republicans are, if not the majority, at least a plurality of the Republican party. This is profoundly worrying, because, let’s face it, they’ve suspended their critical faculties. Trump spent months saying mail-in ballots were ripe for fraud. He openly declared that he would not accept the legitimacy of any election he lost. He pressured friendly state legislatures, like Pennsylvania’s, not to count mail ballots until election day so that he could weave a story of victory if he did well with in-person voting on Election night, knowing that the count for mail ballots would take longer.

    Now consider the average Republican voter. If anyone of their personal acquaintance had said, about an upcoming company baseball game, or their kid’s weekend soccer match, that the refs were all corrupt and that the other team always cheats, and then after losing the game, claimed that it was all rigged, they’d roll their eyes and say, “That guy is a little cracked.”

    Trump is more than a little cracked. What Peter Wehner calls his “disordered personality” has been on vivid display for years. The peevishness, the pettiness, the colossal narcissism—to say nothing of his larger faults. But the normal, ordinary evaluations of character and credibility are suspended in Trump’s case.

    His legal challenges to the results have been so absurd that if they’d been filed by anyone other than the president of the United States, they might have been thrown out as “frivolous.” They have lost 49 of the 50 suits they’ve filed, and not just lost, but lost with blistering smackdowns from the judges, including those appointed by Trump. “Voters, not lawyers, choose the president,” wrote Stephanos Bibas, a judge on the Third Circuit. Another judge wrote:
    This Court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence. In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state. Our people, laws, and institutions demand more.

    In case you missed it, the Republican party of Arizona is actually asking Republicans to “fight and die” for Trump’s stolen election lie. Retweeting Trumpist Ali Akbar who said “I am willing to give my life for this fight,” the Arizona GOP replied “He is. Are you?” (The account has since deleted the tweets.)

    Eric Metaxas, who wrote a well-received biography of William Wilberforce in 2007 but has tumbled all the way down the rabbit hole into Trump cultism, released a video testament telling Trump, “I’d be happy to die in this fight. This is a fight for everything. God is with us.” Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn is calling for a military coup. One of the president’s lawyers called for an official who oversaw election cybersecurity to be shot at dawn.

    Even more disturbing than the crackpot statements of hard-core cultists are the Republican elected officials who are behaving like automatons stamped out of a brain-removal factory. The Washington Post contacted all of the Republicans serving in the House and Senate to ask who won the election. Two said Trump, 27 said Biden, and the other 220 declined to say. Ted Cruz, Mr. “Constitutional Conservative,” is volunteering to argue Trump’s utterly fraudulent stolen election case before the Supreme Court. The Court has other ideas.

    A Republican Georgia election official pleaded with the president and others to behave with minimal decency. Noting that people simply doing their jobs—along with their family members—had received explicit rape and death threats, Gabriel Sterling got emotional, predicting, “Someone is going to get shot. Someone is going to get killed,” if the president and his henchmen continue the incitement. Within hours of that plea, dozens of armed people gathered outside the home of the Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson as she was decorating a Christmas tree with her four-year-old son. “Stop the steal,” they chanted, and “you’re murderers.

    And then there are the polls showing that shocking numbers of rank-and-file Republicans are buying this big lie. A YouGov/Economist poll found that 73 percent of Republicans had little or no confidence that the election was conducted fairly. A Morning Consult/Politico survey found that 67 percent of Republicans said the election was probably or definitely not free and fair. And a Monmouth University poll found that 75 percent of Republicans were “not too confident” or “not at all confident” that the 2020 election was conducted fairly and accurately. Sixty-four Republican members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives have signed a letter asking that members of Congress throw out Pennsylvania’s slate of electors.

    We have now reached the stage where it isn’t just that Republicans fail to rebuke Trump. It isn’t just that Republicans are frightened into silence by fear of the base. We are now at the stage when a critical mass of the Republican party has adopted Trump’s disordered personality for its own. The Republican party is, in this iteration, a danger to American democracy. Our urgent task is, to borrow a phrase, to repeal and replace it.

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  • TopHatter
    Originally posted by surfgun View Post
    House Intelligence Member and former Presidential candidate was compromised by communist Chinese Spy.
    You misspelled "targeted", because that's all the link you provided, but didn't quote from, says about Swalwell.

    Want to continue venturing outside of your troll threads? Start posting like you actually give a damn.

    Leave a comment:

  • surfgun
    House Intelligence Member and former Presidential candidate was compromised by communist Chinese Spy.

    Leave a comment:

  • TopHatter
    Let's see just how much Trump gives a damn about the country: Not one goddamn bit
    Originally posted by Albany Rifles View Post

    Fixed it
    Answered it

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  • Albany Rifles
    Originally posted by TopHatter View Post
    The GOP finally finds its balls (barely). Some of them, anyway.

    Let's see just how much Trump gives a damn about the country.
    Fixed it

    Leave a comment:

  • TopHatter
    House Passes Defense Bill Overwhelmingly, Defying Trump’s Veto Threat
    The $741 billion measure passed with a veto-proof majority, setting up a potential showdown with President Trump in the final weeks of his term.

    WASHINGTON — The House overwhelmingly passed a $741 billion defense policy bill on Tuesday that would require that Confederate names be stripped from American military bases, defying President Trump’s veto threat and moving lawmakers one step closer to a potential showdown in his final weeks in office.

    The 335-78 bipartisan vote to approve the legislation that authorizes pay raises for American troops reflected optimism among lawmakers in both parties that Congress would be able to force the enactment of the bill over Mr. Trump’s objections, in what would be the first veto override of his presidency. The margin surpassed the two-thirds majority both the House and Senate would need to muster to do so.

    It also amounted to a remarkable break from the president by Republicans, who refused to defer to Mr. Trump’s desire to derail the critical bill as his time in the White House comes to a close.

    “Today the House sent a strong, bipartisan message to the American people: Our service members and our national security are more important than politics,” said Representative Adam Smith, Democrat of Washington and the chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

    Congress has succeeded in passing the military bill each year for 60 years, with lawmakers in both parties relishing the opportunity to project strength on national security issues and support for the military. But Mr. Trump’s objections have threatened to upend that tradition, as he has warned since the summer that he would veto the bill.

    He did so at first over the mandate — broadly supported by lawmakers in both parties in both chambers, as well as at the Pentagon — that the Defense Department strip the names of Confederate figures from military bases. More recently, Mr. Trump has shifted the focus of his threat, demanding that the bill include an unrelated repeal of a legal shield for social media companies.

    “I hope House Republicans will vote against the very weak National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which I will VETO,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter on Tuesday in the hours before the vote. “Must include a termination of Section 230 (for National Security purposes), preserve our National Monuments, & allow for 5G & troop reductions in foreign lands!”

    All but 40 Republicans — many of whom oppose the defense bill each year as a matter of principle — disregarded that appeal.
    Mr. Trump’s late demand to include the sweeping rollback of legal protections for social media companies in the military bill has divided his party. Some Republican leaders have publicly described the move as untenable and privately called it unreasonable.

    Senator James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, has said he will try to override a veto and has been privately lobbying the president to support the bill. But while Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California and the minority leader, said on Tuesday that he would support the measure, he told reporters he would not vote to override an eventual veto, suggesting that members of the president’s own party should not join such an effort.

    “Section 230 needs to get done,” Mr. McCarthy said, referring to the repeal of the legal liability for social media companies.

    Senior lawmakers shepherding the legislation have hoped that mustering a veto-proof majority in favor of it would cow Mr. Trump into signing the bill. But they privately conceded that the president’s mercurial nature made it difficult to predict what he might do.

    The sheer willingness of Republican leaders to mow over Mr. Trump’s objections — after initially laboring for weeks to try to accommodate them — was a stark departure from the deference the president has normally received on Capitol Hill from his own party. It underscored lawmakers’ impatience with Mr. Trump’s attempt to derail the national security measure over a social media provision that has nothing to do with it.

    “As important as this issue is, it falls outside the jurisdiction of this bill, and deserves its own domain, and a separate vote,” said Representative Don Bacon, Republican of Nebraska and a member of the Armed Services Committee. “Do you think you’ll get a better bill in two months? The answer is no.”

    The legislation contains a number of noncontroversial, bipartisan measures, including new benefits for tens of thousands of Vietnam-era veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange, a 3 percent increase in pay for service members and a boost in hazardous duty incentive pay.

    But it also includes a slew of measures pushed by Democrats that were expressly intended to constrain some of the impulses that Mr. Trump displayed during his time in office. One Democrat, Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, voted present.

    The bill would take steps to slow or block Mr. Trump’s planned drawdown of American troops from Germany and Afghanistan, and would make it more difficult for the president to deploy military personnel to the southern border. Lawmakers also included language that would compel the president to impose new sanctions against Turkey for its purchase of a Russian antiaircraft missile system, a step Mr. Trump has been reluctant to take despite the urging of lawmakers in both parties.

    The legislation also directly addresses the protests for racial justice spurred over the summer by the killing of Black Americans, including George Floyd, at the hands of the police. It would require all federal officers enforcing crowd control at protests and demonstrations to identify themselves and their agencies. And it contains the bipartisan measure that directs the Pentagon to begin the process of renaming military bases named after Confederate leaders, a provision that Democrats fought to keep in the bill.

    “We cannot ask today’s young servicewomen and men to defend our nation, while housing and training them and their families on bases honoring those who betrayed our country in order to enslave others,” said Representative Anthony G. Brown, Democrat of Maryland, and one of the sponsors of the provision. “America’s proudest achievements are defined by men and women who expanded the promise of freedom. That’s the history and those are the people we should honor.”

    The legislation is slated to be considered this week in the Senate, where it is expected to pass overwhelmingly before it is sent to the president’s desk.

    If Mr. Trump were to follow through with his threatened veto, the House would be the first to try at an override.
    The GOP finally finds its balls (barely). Some of them, anyway.

    Let's see just how much Trump gives a damn about the military...

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  • TopHatter
    Originally posted by DOR View Post

    This is why my wife woke up livid this morning -- guns in the face of children is a chickenshit way to try to intimidate whistle blowers.
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  • DOR
    Originally posted by JRT View Post

    This is why my wife woke up livid this morning -- guns in the face of children is a chickenshit way to try to intimidate whistle blowers.

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  • JRT

    Originally posted by WPLG-TV_Local-10

    State Police raid former Florida data scientist Rebekah Jones

    Published on 07 December 2020

    The home of former Florida Department of Health data scientist Rebekah Jones was raided Monday, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed after Jones posted video of the encounter with police on social media.

    Originally posted by NPR_News

    Florida Agents Raid Home Of Rebekah Jones, Former State Data Scientist

    08 December 2020
    by Bill Chappell

    Rebekah Jones says Florida law enforcement agents seized electronic devices from her home in retaliation for her sharing COVID-19 data — and criticizing the state's pandemic response.

    Florida law enforcement agents searched the home of former state data scientist Rebekah Jones on Monday, entering her house with weapons drawn as they carried out a warrant as part of an investigation into an unauthorized message that was sent on a state communications system.

    "At 8:30 am this morning, state police came into my house and took all my hardware and tech," Jones said via Twitter. She added, "They were serving a warrant on my computer after DOH filed a complaint."

    The Florida Department of Health is the agency that fired Jones in May, after she helped create the state's COVID-19 dashboard.

    Jones has said she lost her job after she refused requests to manipulate data to suggest Florida was ready to ease coronavirus restrictions. A spokesperson for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said at the time that she "exhibited a repeated course of insubordination during her time with the department."

    The search warrant was authorized as investigators tried to learn who sent a chat message to a planning group on an emergency alert platform, urging people to speak out publicly about Florida's coronavirus strategies.

    The message stated, "it's time to speak up before another 17,000 people are dead," according to member station WFSU, citing the probable cause affidavit. The message continued, "You know this is wrong. You don't have to be a part of this. Be a hero. Speak out before it's too late."

    Jones posted a short video of the raid online Tuesday, showing several agents entering her home, carrying pistols and at least one rifle. In the footage, Jones tells them that her husband and two children are in the house.

    "Police! Come down now!" an agent shouts.

    As the agents enter, one points their weapon upstairs. Jones says the agents pointed a gun at her and at her children.

    It's not clear from the video whether agents pointed a gun at Jones' family members. The top of stairs are not in view.

    Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen denies Jones' assertion, issuing a statement about the raid that states, "At no time were weapons pointed at anyone in the home."

    Swearingen also says Jones initially refused to answer her door and hung up on agents who called her about the pending search.

    Jones calls the raid on her home an act of retaliation for her persistent criticisms of how Florida has handled the pandemic. She accuses DeSantis of being focused more on political concerns than stopping the coronavirus.

    "They took my phone and the computer I use every day to post the case numbers in Florida, and school cases for the entire country," she said via Twitter. "They took evidence of corruption at the state level. They claimed it was about a security breach. This was DeSantis. He sent the gestapo."

    Swearingen says the search warrant stemmed from a complaint by the Department of Health, "that a person illegally hacked into their emergency alert system."

    The court affidavit says the rogue message was sent to a state planning group, in which all users "share the same username and password." It adds that investigators were able to trace the Nov. 10 message to an IP address that is affiliated with Jones' Comcast account.

    The affidavit adds that anyone who is no longer part of an agency involved in the planning group "are no longer authorized to access the multi-user group."

    Jones says that despite the raid, she was not arrested or charged with a crime. But she has started a Go Fund Me page, asking for donations to pay for a new computer and "a hell of a good lawyer." She is also seeking help in finding a new job in another state.

    Jones insists that Monday's search is another phase in her lingering dispute with the state, saying via Twitter, "This is what happens to scientists who do their job honestly. This is what happens to people who speak truth to power."

    After being fired from her job as a geographic information system manager, Jones created her own dashboard for reporting coronavirus information called Florida COVID Action, offering data and information about testing options. When she launched the platform, a state Department of Health spokesperson defended the state's dashboard and suggested that Jones' version included unreliable data.

    She is also involved in another project, the Covid Monitor, which focuses on coronavirus in schools.

    Jones says the raid and the seizure of her computer and other devices won't stop her work in tracking and reporting COVID-19 data. And she urged state officials to focus on easing the pandemic's horrible effects on Florida's citizens.

    "DeSantis needs to worry less about what I'm writing about, and more about the people who are sick and dying in his state," Jones told CNN's Chris Cuomo. "And doing this to me will not stop me from reporting the data."

    Last edited by JRT; 08 Dec 20,, 22:28.

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