Photo: Pavan Trikutam via Unsplash

Three Things: The Reanimation of Nixon Among Them

Busy, busy week. Load up on the caffeine or stimulant of choice and let’s get cracking.

~ 3 ~

At 9:00 pm EST Saturday evening I posted:

Any time now I expect someone in the administration will not only say openly that Trump authorized the transition team to discuss dropping the sanctions, but that it isn’t illegal when the president does it.

This morning about 6:00 am EST in Axios:

John Dowd, President Trump’s outside lawyer, outlined to me a new and highly controversial defense/theory in the Russia probe: A president cannot be guilty of obstruction of justice.

The “President cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution’s Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case,” Dowd claims. (emphasis mine)

It’s like they dug up Nixon and reanimated him with a chatbot. No wonder the White House is infested with mice and insects.

~ 2 ~

The Tax Scam Bill isn’t yet legislation; we still have at least a couple chances to kill it. It will be up for a vote in the House today, under a Motion to Go to Conference. Call your representatives well before 6:00 p.m. and ask them to vote NO on going to conference. This bill should simply not proceed any further.

Did you know those GOP jackasses in the Senate actually added a tax on retail gift cards? If your employer gives your a grocery store gift card to buy a holiday ham, you could be taxed on it. If you tip your child’s caregiver with a retail gift card they could be taxed on it. What is wrong with these Dickensian jerks?

I’m not the only one who thought of Scrooge when Old Man Orrin Hatch complained about poor children who relied on CHIP health care, saying ““I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves – won’t lift a finger – and expect the federal government to do everything.”

By the way, it was Hatch who added the retail gift card tax. Leave no meal to a poor child untaxed.

Need a little help with that phone call to your rep? See @Celeste_pewter — she’s got you covered.

~ 1 ~

Folks in Nevada need to take a cluestick to Senator Dean Heller after his execrable public townhall this weekend. His security goon squad first threatened a Stage 4 cancer patient, then threw her out along with an elderly woman with a broken arm. At least 10 attendees were ejected.

There’s video.

There are tweets.

There’s no escaping how bad the optics were; Heller wants this Tax Scam Bill for his oligarchic sponsors so badly he’ll step on the sick, injured, and elderly to get it. And then Heller doubled down on his monstrousness when asked if he’d read the Tax Scam Bill, tweeting, “Read it? I helped write it!”

It’s on you, Heller. This is your legacy. You said it, you wrote it.

~ 0 ~

Our celebration of emptywheel’s 10th anniversary continues. Watch for a post by Jim White midday today; Marcy is working on a super-sized post on all things surveillance. Stay tuned!

And if you can pitch in some rodent chow to keep the site’s squirrels on their treadmill, we’d appreciate it greatly.

This is an open thread — your off-topic comments are welcomed in this thread. Let’s kick some ass and take names this Monday morning.

44 replies
  1. Ed Walker says:

    And then there’s Iowa Pig Chuck Grassley whose senility has now advanced to the point that he can’t hide his ugly soul:

    An estate tax effectively and unfairly taxes a person’s earnings twice, he argued: first when they earn it and again when they die. And, he added, it penalizes savers without touching spenders.

    “I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing,” Grassley said, “as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”


    Grassley isn’t speaking about white working class people, now is he? Just another nasty Republican racist.


    • Rayne says:

      Yup, you nailed it, Grassley wasn’t talking to white voters. It’s a pity he doesn’t talk to them, or he’d realize they’re in the same straits as non-white voters — and perhaps worse, given how hard the opioid epidemic has hit them versus over-policed non-whites.

      What’s particularly aggravating about Old Man Hatch’s Scrooge-like comments about CHIP: Hatch was CHIP’s co-sponsor with Edward Kennedy. Is he senile?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Common or garden variety let them eat caker.  Grassley and Hatch are hard right wingers.  They don’t care that the lines they’re reading are lies intended to keep the have nots gnarling at each other over a few scraps, while they swill Napoleon brandy.  Grassley’s current familiarity with life down on the farm must be limited to the porcine politics he practices in Washington.

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Poor, up from nuffink Orrin Hatch.  How did he acquire those millions while working the past 40 years as a public employee?

    Mr. Hatch not only wants to pull the ladder up behind him, he wants to pour burning oil down on the peasants below.  So much for the hardscrabble scholarship boy from the University of Pittsburgh law school.  His meltdown under mild criticism from Sherrod Brown tells us the criticisms are accurate, and understated.  Hatch would be the first guy in line to string up George Bailey on Christmas Eve.

    Orrin Hatch is 83 and has been in the Senate since winning his first race in 1976.  He famously said of his opponent in that race: “What do you call a Senator who’s served in office for 18 years? You call him home.”  By his own calculation, Hatch has overstayed his welcome by 22 years.  He should go home.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I almost forgot that Mr. Grassley thinks wealth, especially inherited wealth, is virtuous.

    First, Mr. Grassley should compare notes with Mr. Hatch,  who thinks it’s virtuous to have worked his way up from nuthin’.  Mr. Hatch conveniently leaves out that he became a lawyer rather than a Pittsburgh steel worker because he talked his way into a full scholarship.  Yup, the same kind of post-graduate aid that Hatch now plans to tax, which would have made it impossible for the earlier Hatch to have gone to law school. And that’s just one of a long list of anti-education, anti-social safety net measures Grassley is backing.

    Second, that inherited wealth has virtue is a canard put forward by those who inherited it.  It’s not the money, it’s what you do with it, is a good argument.  A better one is that it is also the money, because inheriting large amounts of money enhances inequality and makes it permanent, thereby damaging democracy and the societies that attempt to practice it.

    Third, Mr. Grassley might ask how virtuous are multi-thousand dollar prostitutes, ten thousand dollar suits, million dollar diamonds, mega-yachts, and super cars.  Or he could just read up on the life of Louise Linton…or Donald Trump.


    • harpie says:

      Who wins biggest in the GOP tax plan? The lazy rich. ;WaPo; Opinion; Catherine Rampell; 11/6/17

      The Republican tax bill is often described as being weighted toward “the rich.” But that’s not the full story […] It’s actually weighted toward the loafer, the freeloader, the heir, the passive investor who spends his time yachting and charity-balling. […] In short: the idle rich. […] 

  4. harpie says:

    This just in:
    Zoe Tillman‏Verified account @ZoeTillman 2:01 PM – 4 Dec 2017 7 minutes ago

    JUST IN: Special counsel prosecutors say Paul Manafort had been ghostwriting an editorial about his political work in Ukraine as recently as Nov. 30, working with a Russian with ties to Russian intelligence [Link to doc]

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      The SCO’s motion with Andrew Weissman as lead signatory is as close to a fuck-you-Paulie as you can get in legal language.

      I don’t think (even now) that it’s asking for a Nebbia determination, which as bmaz explained to us, would probably not look good at all for Mr Walnuts. I do note that it cites the case against Bernie Kerik as precedent.

      Also, who the fuck was going to be the public face of the ghostwritten op-ed, and who was going to publish it? The SCO isn’t telling, but that would be very worth knowing.

      • harpie says:

        On CNN, Sen Chris Coons says, wrt this:

        “That is deeply foolish. Clearly he’s not listening to his lawyers, or he’s more afraid of the Russians than he is of federal prosecution in the United States”

        Guess that is a possibility….

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Anyone want to give odds that that applies to more people in Washington than Paul Manafort?  What’s a few years in an American prison when you could spend two minutes with a former Spetsnaz enforcer?

        • posaune says:

          I’ve wondered if any polonium inducement is going to surface amongst any of these characters.   I’d be really worried about that if I were running in that crowd.

      • harpie says:

        But as Carl Prine of the San-Diego Union-Tribune writes:

        Who among us has never secretly worked with a person tied to the FSB to scribble op-eds about Ukraine while facing a federal indictment on 12 count of money laundering, conspiracy, filing false statements and being an unregistered agent of a foreign country? Exactly.


    • harpie says:

      WaPo with a guess about ID of Manafort colleague

      The Russian colleague was not identified in court papers. However, Manafort has had a long-standing Russian employee named Konstantin Kilimnik who ran Manafort’s office in Kiev during the 10 years he did consulting work there.

  5. Mitchell says:

    Clearly, I’m incapable of judgment and human decency. i actually think maybe the Dem sexual harasser, who’s being asked by his own party, to resign is actually not as bad as Heller, both the way he treated the woman as well as voting for a bill that is harmful to many outside of GOP special interests, at best.

  6. harpie says:

    Trump tweeted about Obama administration UN vote [abstention] on Israeli settlements—the vote that someone [Kushner?] told Flynn to try to influence.

    NYT [12/31/16]

    […] A day after Mr. Obama allowed passage of a United Nations Security Council resolution criticizing Israeli settlements, Mr. Trump angrily wrote on Twitter that the move would “make it much harder to negotiate peace.” Mr. Trump added, optimistically: “Too bad, but we will get it done anyway!” […] Two days later, in a sign of his growing frustration with Mr. Obama, Mr. Trump posted again on Twitter, saying he was doing his best to “disregard the many inflammatory President O statements and roadblocks.” 

    Here’s the link to the first [1:33 PM – 24 Dec 2016] tweet.  

  7. harpie says:

    Also: McFarland Contradicted Herself on Russia Contacts, Congressional Testimony Shows; NYT; 12/4/17

    […] In a Dec. 29 message about newly imposed Obama administration sanctions against Russia for its election interference, Ms. McFarland, then serving on Mr. Trump’s transition team, told another transition official that Mr. Flynn would be talking to the Russian ambassador that evening. […] Ms. McFarland had told lawmakers that she did not discuss or know anything about interactions between Sergey I. Kislyak, who had been Moscow’s ambassador to the United States, and Mr. Flynn, according to Senate documents. […] 

        • harpie says:

          “Contradicted”…Shouldn’t this rather be called “perjury”? Or maybe that’s just in court?

          • Rayne says:

            Contradicted…you know, like Sessions’ testimony contradicted previous statements.

            You’d think the words “lying” and “perjury” were synonyms for that word “torture” which NYT also struggles to use.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            The shorthand version is that “perjury”, a felony, requires lying under oath in an official proceeding about a fact material to that proceeding, upon which an official could reasonably rely.  It’s also perjury to make material false statements in connection with certain documents, such as your federal tax return.

            As bmaz could explain at length, someone giving a statement sometimes has an opportunity to correct the record after having a “contradiction” pointed out to them.

            But, yea, the NYT should get comfortable using “lie”.   They’re gonna need to use it a lot.

            • bmaz says:

              You can cure in certain limited circumstances IF still within the proceeding where the testimony was given AND if there has been no reliance thereon.

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                Unless your testimony is in front of Congress, in which case, it seems, all bets are off. :-}

    • Rayne says:

      Jaw-dropping arrogance or stupidity. Don’t know which.

      Or there’s something else going on that boosts his confidence overmuch.

      EDIT — 7:05 PM —

      HOLY CRAP. I’m a little slowish today, just saw Manafort could lose his $11-12 million he had to put up for bail. Didn’t occur to me this op-ed business could violate the terms of his bail agreement.

      I sure hope Mrs. Manafort has consulted a good attorney to protect her marital assets — a divorce attorney.

  8. Rayne says:

    Hey person1597 — you out there? You asked where Bannon was and noted he was quiet.

    Seems he’s been lurking in Scotland hanging about at the intersection of Breitbart and Ukip attending a conference hosted by a white-nationalist-cum-business-think-tank Scotland International Ltd (SIL). Carole Cadwalladr who contributes at The Guardian-UK, took note of this; she’s been digging for connections between Brexit and Russia. There’s a yuge overlap between Brexit-Ukip-Russia and Trump-white nationalists-Russia; I’ve wondered for some time whether Brexit was really pushed by Putin to destabilize NATO by disrupting the EU. Cadwalladr has found quite a bit of convincing material to support this, and the continued actions of key characters like Nigel Farage and Steve Bannon only add emphasis.

    The question now: who else besides Breitbart-UK’s (and former Ukip advisor) Raheem Kassam met with Bannon at Gleneagles in Scotland? Somebody’s a bit uncomfortable with being identified — panel members sitting with Bannon have been pixelated. Why so shady?

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Ditzy Donald thinks that a small handful of distant – disinterested – bureaucrats are incapable of managing public lands for the public good.  He would substitute a small handful of private developers, who will not manage these lands for the public good, but rather for their private wealth.  Teddy Roosevelt, calling Teddy Roosevelt….

    Like many things, Donald misses the difference between who manages and in whose interest they manage. Those few bureaucrats – rather, an entire bureaucracy – are obligated to manage assets under their control in the interest of others.  Private developers in Utah or California, Dubai or Singapore are stewards only of their own purse.

    That Donald misses this, as he misses so much else, shouldn’t really be a surprise for a guy who grew up as the beneficiary of trust funds, and who has created them for his own family, which are managed by a small handful of bureaucrats on Wall Street exclusively for Trump’s interests.  Everything for me, None for thee must be the logo on his ever expanding waistband.

    • harpie says:

      Patagonia’s home page today.

      The President Stole Your Land
      In an illegal move, the president just reduced the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. This is the largest elimination of protected land in American history. [Learn More] [Take Action] [Support these groups fighting to protect public lands]

      Thank you, Patagonia!

    • harpie says:; 12/4/17
      San Francisco, CA — Hours after President Donald Trump issued a proclamation taking an axe to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, conservation organizations filed a lawsuit [Link] attacking the order as an abuse of the president’s power. […] 

    • harpie says:

      bmaz retweets Will Bunch:

      Amazing nugget in this @mckaycoppins extravaganza – During Access Hollywood crisis, GOP bigwigs asked if Trump had a price for leaving the race. They said he did. $800 million.

      From Bloomberg article about Deutsche Bank subpoena:

      Trump’s relationship with Deutsche Bank stretches back some two decades and the roughly $300 million he owed to the bank represented nearly half of his outstanding debt, according to a July 2016 analysis by Bloomberg. 

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Who would a thunk it: the Trump administration has an in-house PR flack at the Washington Post.  And here he is, “columnist” and full-time fossil fuel lobbyist Ed Rogers.

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