March 31, 2018

The recent Russian and US diplomats expelled…can all be replaced with other diplomats by each country.  Unlike Obama’s expulsion of diplomats before he left office, in which the overall headcount was to remain reduced, the removal of diplomats in this recent expulsion of 60 Russian and US diplomats, can be replaced by asking for accreditation for replacement staff.

According to AFP in this story.

“Russia’s consulate in Seattle will also be closed, but the total size of its diplomatic footprint in the United States might not shrink for long, because the expelled staff could be replaced.

“The United States has expelled 48 Russian intelligence officers, but it is not requiring the Russian bilateral mission to reduce its total number of personnel,” a State Department official told AFP.

“The Russian government remains free to request accreditation for vacant positions in its bilateral mission. Any requests for new diplomatic accreditation will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.”

Supposedly, it’s the topic of this video, but I’d have to get my sister to listen to it to be sure….since I don’t speak a lick of Russian.

If this is true, then the Russian diplomatic expulsion was merely a publicity stunt.  It’s theater.  I would think it would cause some momentary issues for Russia’s plans to affect our upcoming US midterms, but it’s not a real, substantive step, is it.

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I had heard, in bits and pieces, here and there, that the real problem for Donny with this whole Stormy Daniels drama, as far as he’s concerned, is Melania.  That, if and when, they have to dust off the pre-nup and take a looksee at what the old broad gets, she might just go ahead and challenge it in court, just like the previous two did.  Neither of them faired particularly well in getting more than the pre-nup stated.  Maybe Melania will…and that is the worry.

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March 28, 2018

A rather surprising decision in a DC circuit court today, that Washington DC and Maryland may continue with the suit filed against Trump under the Emoluments Clause.  It really seemed unlikely this would be allowed to continue because it wasn’t certain that the State and District would be able to show they were being injured financially.  The judge agreed that since both the State and District have a financial interest in their convention centers, that the business Trump is doing at his DC hotel, Trump International Hotel, could conceivably injure them.

The Judge, Peter Messitte, is limiting the scope of the suit to only this geographical area.  This is a pretty big deal.

“Plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged that the President is violating the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution by reason of his involvement with and receipt of benefits from the Trump International Hotel and its appurtenances in Washington, D.C. as well as the operations of the Trump Organization with respect to the same. Plaintiffs have demonstrated their standing to challenge those purported violations because they have shown injury-in-fact, fairly traceable to the President’s acts, and that the injury is likely redressable by the Court.”

Even though this is limited in scope…man this opens a brand new can of worms for Donny.  Discovery would open the books on Trump.  Not to mention, this decision may give birth to similar suits in both NY and Florida.

“Violations of the emoluments clauses are a difficult case to prove because there is little precedent, the definitions are poorly understood, and it is not easy to prove that anybody has been done wrong by any alleged violations.

At the least, Maryland and Washington, DC, have now cleared one of those hurdles.”

It is also worth noting:

“Indeed, the language of the emoluments clause is cited in only three Supreme Court cases, none of which address the clause itself, according to research conducted by Bloomberg BNA. Those cases are: Kepner v. United States , 195 U.S. 100 (1904), Afroyim v. Rusk , 387 U.S. 253 (1967) and Citizens United v. Fed. Election Comm’n , 558 U.S. 310 (2010).”

This case may set legal precedent.

Who among us did not say when Trump was elected, He’s a complete idiot, he isn’t going to change, he’ll be in court the entire time, and he’ll most likely be impeached.

We all did.

March 27, 2017

John Paul Stevens writes an Op-Ed for the NY Times: Repeal the Second Amendment.

“In 2008, the Supreme Court overturned Chief Justice Burger’s and others’ long-settled understanding of the Second Amendment’s limited reach by ruling, in District of Columbia v. Heller, that there was an individual right to bear arms. I was among the four dissenters.

That decision — which I remain convinced was wrong and certainly was debatable — has provided the N.R.A. with a propaganda weapon of immense power. Overturning that decision via a constitutional amendment to get rid of the Second Amendment would be simple and would do more to weaken the N.R.A.’s ability to stymie legislative debate and block constructive gun control legislation than any other available option.”

I agree with all of this but, “would be simple…”  Even though it is potentially possible to get to a 2/3 of Congress voting to amend the constitution somewhere in the future, there is no foreseeable time where 3/4 of the states, or state ratifying conventions would vote positively for any such change to the constitution.  Doesn’t mean this should not be a goal.

I do believe that Democrats should start flooding the zone with candidates proposing anything from altering the second amendment to abolishment of the second amendment.  I would prefer those people to be primaried out, but who knows, maybe someone like that could get elected and be a voice in Congress.  I do believe liberal donors, superpacs, thinktanks, etc.,  should start selecting active cases to attempt to push any case to the Supreme Court that might force a revisiting of that awful decision in the 2008 District of Columbia v Heller.  The case in which the NRA won it’s long fought battle of semantics to have “a well regulated militia,” and, “the people,” come to mean “any single person, with little if any regulation.”

All of this is good and reasonable but it entirely misses the crux of the problem.

The problem is money.  It’s always been money.  It will always be money.

Citizens United v the FEC, granted that corporations are, in effect, people…and thereby may spend all the money they like to support candidates or political causes.

“The reason for this exponential leap in political spending, if you talk to most Democrats or read most news reports, comes down to two words: Citizens United. The term is shorthand for a Supreme Court decision that gave corporations much of the same right to political speech as individuals have, thus removing virtually any restriction on corporate money in politics. The oft-repeated narrative of 2012 goes like this: Citizens United unleashed a torrent of money from businesses and the multimillionaires who run them, and as a result we are now seeing the corporate takeover of American politics.”

I noted in my short review of the 2018 Omnibus spending package, the GOP has stealthily written into law more ways by which they can get their hands on some righteous corporate cash, and also less ways the government can do anything to stop them.  Until we stop this flow of money into politics, we will continue to have potential candidates who will say anything to get the money, and do anything to keep their seat to get more money.

This has to be stopped.  Nothing will change until this is stopped.  Our Congressional representatives are only going to become more despicable until this is stopped.  Corporations will only have greater power over our government until this is stopped.  The legislation our government produces shall increasingly reflect and represent the desires and needs of corporations until this is stopped.

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If the Supreme Court is incapable of reason, Congress needs to be self-policing in Campaign finance regulations and continual donor-class access to both them and the legislative process.  There is nothing more important than Democratic hopefuls running on this issue.  No one is talking about it and honestly it’s the only thing that matters.

Corporate money run amok is how we wind up with the useful idiot Trump.  It’s why we have Congresspeople that more closely resemble deranged Fox News talking heads than a politician.  It’s how an insider/operator like Nancy Pelosi becomes indispensable.

From this time forward, all hopeful Democratic candidates must have this as a basic pillar of political ideology and the keystone of their platform.  Nothing will change until this happens.  Nothing.

THEN, we can get back to a greatly diminished NRA.

IF we can’t abolish the Second Amendment, alter the damn thing to be highly regulated.  I would rather abolish it and send it to the states to do as they please within reason:

  1. 21.  Yes 21.
  2. All firearms must be licensed, registered biannually, and insured.
  3. proof of education for proper storage, handling, and maintenance of weapons.
  4. Universal background check.
  5. Federal laws for the continual ownership and legal responsibility of gun owners and resellers.
  6. No fucking weapons of war.

March 26, 2018

The US in coordination with the EU, expels record amounts of Russian diplomats from their nations.

“The United States and more than 20 other countries took coordinated action Monday to expel Russian diplomats in a show of solidarity with the United Kingdom over the nerve-agent attack against a former Russian spy in England.

Russia denies any involvement in the March 4 poisoning, which British authorities said involved a nerve agent called Novichuk, which was developed by the Soviet military.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia’s response will be up to iPresident Vladimir Putin. “We will be guided by the principle of reciprocity as before,” Peskov said.”

The US alone expelled 60 diplomats and shut down the Russian’s Seattle complex.

We are surprised.  We are delighted.  This is the type of coordinated effort that really never seemed like it would be possible again, due to all the damage Donny boy has done to our relations with the EU and with his apparent affinity for all things Russian.  I assume we shall discover to what extent Trump was involved with this measure, if at all, but that cannot tarnish the fact that this is possible.  This is exactly…exactly, the type of response that Putin never assumed would be possible either.  Dude has been winning left and right for years now and was certainly feeling he could not be stopped.

I had opined earlier that Putin, in feeling his oats, was going to make some big, bold, brassy moves this year.  The attempted hit in the UK was a sign he had some big plans coming; assuming he would get away with it.  Well now, he’s got some thinking to do.  Time to restrategize there comrade.  He’s overplayed his hand a bit.

The US expelling 60 diplomats does nothing to address Putin’s 2016 election interference, but it shall have at least a small effect on rolling out there plans for the 2018 election.  Let’s face it, diplomats are agents of espionage as much as they are anything else.  Losing those guys in Seattle is gonna hurt.

If you’re like me, we’re wondering how Donny can mess this action up.  He can’t really.  He can stumble through some inane narrative about how Russians are actually good people and we want to be friendly with them, and we just have a feeling in our stomach he’s going to try to mess this up, isn’t he.  Isn’t he?

He’s been noticeably muted by all the shit going on in his little fucked-up world.  He seems to be at a loss.  He can’t even do his troll twatter routine well.

Are we turning the corner here?

Thank God, we still have the diplomatic corp and relative agency employees to orchestrate this very large action with our real friends; our real partners, in the EU.

This is a good day.

 

The Inexplicable 2018 Omnibus Spending Package, large excerpts

Ok. I’m reading the 2232 fucking page long, Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus spending package that was written to support the 2018 Budget.  I have to say, right up front, I for one am sick of the disorganized, haphazard, sloppy work of the US Government.  I don’t want to see another fucking bill slapped together with no rhyme, reason, or semblance of order.

Removing the donor-class, lobbyist-driven legislation that government shits out should be job 1.  Without that, all the rest of our worrying and hand-wringing over the current state of affairs is meaningless.  Right now, I’d say that job #2 is passing legislation to force the legislative branches to write goddamn legislation that is organized, thoughtful, and thoroughly rationalized.

I understand this is the golden opportunity for everyone…and I mean everyone including lobbyists, to insert their own little piece of pork barrel, anonymously…yes, anonymously, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be compiled with order, reason, and justification.  That being said, let’s just go ahead and serve up some of the nuggets from this incredible work with example #1 of what this inane process produces:

page 1042: Ruh-roh Donny. According to 2018 Omnibus Spending Package, Trump can no longer lie.

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Fake news is no longer acceptable!!!!  WOOO HOOOOOO.  This little clause is just sitting all alone.  Not in relation or as reference to anything else.  It doesn’t say how “deliberately false or misleading,” is to be determined or by whom.  It doesn’t say how redress is sought or point to any other law or legislation.

Does that include any work by any federally paid employee in any venue?  Surely it covers federally issued electronic and communication devices.  Surely it covers any and all forms of federally disseminated information such as speeches, webpages, or physical documentation.  Right?

Right?

I can’t help but think someone inserted this at 2am in the morning as a fucking joke.

page 1042: This is just above the preceding clause.

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Now why is this so much more specific and delineated? Why is it just for those in a scientific advisory committee?  Why wouldn’t this extend to everyone?  Exactly what federal employee is political affiliation a necessary qualification?  At least these guys are covered.  I mean, this administration hates all scientists as a rule anyway.  Fact-based truths that don’t match up with the administrations ideology is the disqualifier anyway.

 

page 596: GOP makes sure to increase the flow of dark money into their coffers.

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page 491: related to above.

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The problem with this provision is best described in this story about the hidden, dark money additions in this spending bill:

“Another provision, first implemented in a 2014 spending bill, prevents the IRS from issuing guidance or changing rules related to how the agency decides whether a non-profit group spending money on politics is a “social welfare” 501(c)(4) group under the U.S. tax code. 501(c)(4) groups are not required to disclose their donors and are allowed to engage in political activities so long as politics is not its “primary activity,” a murky standard that the IRS tried to clarify before it was prevented from doing so by spending bill riders.”

Page 617-618: Pruitt and Zinke, this ones for you!

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Go ahead and read that again.  If a company or organization made campaign contributions to a federal employee, whom might have occasion, to oversee whether that company or organization receives a federal contract, no one can ask of the company or organization to provide information that the federal employee is unduly influenced by said contribution.  This fits in very nicely with the Administration desire to sell off or lease public lands to the fossil fuels industries for some righteous raping.

Page 1519: interesting insertion here.

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Page 619:  Oh no Donny!  Going to have to pay for this one yourself.

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Page 2199: very interesting.

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Removing Section 9013 is removing the effective date of all of the serious-as-a-heart-attack laws regarding campaign finance.  Each individual section of this code has it’s own effective date, pretty much.  So I’m not sure if removing the effective date for the entire chapter throws the laws into limbo, or what the fuck it does.  I don’t understand why this is selected for removal and why there’s no further explanation or justification.

What kind of stuff is covered in this chapter?  This-

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