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Zorro

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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 50
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 9,642

Journal Archives

Of course Trump flips on GOP ideas. He never understood them in the first place.

On Tuesday, President Trump blithely tweeted out his support for voter ID legislation and also “Paper Ballots as backup (old fashioned but true!)” just a week after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) killed legislation that included — wait for it — funding for paper ballots. In one throw-away line, he simultaneously reminded us why the election security issue had Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank calling McConnell a “Russian asset” and exposed himself as a simpleton: “old fashioned but true” is a pretty good indicator that in his mind, it boils down to “new-fangled, bad; old-fangled, good.”

It’s just latest example in a career of not-even-half-baked utterances that show just how poorly briefed and shallow he is. He was cunning enough to effect a hostile takeover of the Republican Party, but when it comes to articulating anything close to traditional GOP beliefs, he’s as likely to sound like the lifelong Democrat he was until Republicans tell him what to think.

If you need more evidence, go back to last year, when Trump sat down with a group of congressional leaders and said he’d get behind Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) suggestion to pass a “clean DACA bill” until House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) cut him off mid-sentence and reeled him back to the GOP position. A few weeks later, in the course of a single meeting, Trump told members of Congress not to fear the NRA, floated the idea to “take the guns first, go through due process second” as a response to gun violence and momentarily signed on to an assault weapons ban, with Feinstein nearly jumping out of her chair in delight while Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) had to laugh just to keep from crying.

Still not convinced? There’s Trump’s protectionist trade policy: tariffs with a heaping helping of soybean farmer welfare. His take on the Constitution: “I have the right to do whatever I want.” (translation: “when you’re a star, they let you do it”) His approach to the Bible: many people are saying it’s a good book. And there’s his foreign policy: NATO, bad; Russia, good; North Korea, let’s be BFFs.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/07/31/course-trump-flips-gop-ideas-he-never-understood-them-first-place/

U.S. sanctions Iran's foreign minister amid escalating tensions

Source: Washington Post

The Trump administration imposed sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Wednesday in a dramatic step bound to further escalate tensions with Tehran.

The move to punish Iran’s top diplomat had been anticipated after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said last month that President Trump had directed him to do so. But the sanctions were delayed after State Department officials argued that would close the door to diplomacy.

Trump has frequently expressed a desire to talk with Iranian leaders, even as his administration deepens a maximum pressure campaign that has devastated the Iranian economy.

A Treasury Department statement said Zarif was sanctioned because he “acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly” Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, who himself was sanctioned in late June. At that time, Mnuchin said measures would also be taken against Zarif, although action was subsequently postponed amid statements by Trump that he was willing to negotiate with Iran “without preconditions.”

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-sanctions-irans-foreign-minister-amid-escalating-tensions/2019/07/31/1d4f3780-7eaf-47cc-8c55-569f6ede7615_story.html

Trump and Epstein partied together. Then an oceanfront Palm Beach mansion came between them.

For the better part of two decades starting in the late 1980s, Jeffrey Epstein and Donald Trump swam in the same social pool. They were neighbors in Florida. They jetted from LaGuardia to Palm Beach together. They partied at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club and dined at Epstein’s Manhattan mansion.

And then, in 2004, they were suddenly rivals, each angling to snag a choice Palm Beach property, an oceanfront manse called Maison de l’Amitie — the House of Friendship — that was being sold out of bankruptcy.

Before the auction, Epstein and Trump each tried to work the ref; the trustee in the case, Joseph Luzinski, recalls being lobbied by both camps.

“It was something like, Donald saying, ‘You don’t want to do a deal with him, he doesn’t have the money,’ while Epstein was saying: ‘Donald is all talk. He doesn’t have the money,’ ” Luzinski said. “They both really wanted it.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/donald-trump-and-jeffrey-epstein-partied-together-then-an-oceanfront-palm-beach-mansion-came-between-them/2019/07/31/79f1d98c-aca0-11e9-a0c9-6d2d7818f3da_story.html

My my my....

Chinese billionaire faces charges in $1.8-billion scheme to smuggle aluminum through L.A.

Source: LA Times

A Chinese billionaire and the company he founded were accused of hatching a scheme to avoid paying $1.8 billion in tariffs by disguising “huge amounts” of aluminum as pallets and smuggling the material into the United States, according to a federal indictment unsealed late Tuesday.

China Zhongwang Holdings Ltd., Asia’s largest aluminum extrusion company, and Zhongtian Liu, 55, former president and chairman, are also accused of engineering bogus sales of the aluminum to related entities to inflate the company’s revenues and deceive investors, authorities announced.

“The aluminum sold to United States-based companies controlled by Liu were simply aluminum extrusions that were spot-welded together to make them appear to be functional pallets, which would be finished goods not subject to the duties,” according to the indictment. “In reality, there were no customers for the 2.2 million pallets imported by the Liu-controlled companies between 2011 and 2014, and no pallets were ever sold,” the U.S. attorney said in a statement.

Authorities added that the aluminum was shipped through Southern California ports and stockpiled in local warehouses that were owned by companies under Liu’s control.

Read more: https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-07-31/zhongwang-holdings-aluminum-smuggling-indictment



This is a weird one.

Lindsey Graham Sheepishly Approaches Fox News Interns To See If Anybody Up For Grabbing Drink



WASHINGTON—Conspicuously remaining in the studio following his appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) sheepishly approached a group of Fox News interns Wednesday evening to see if anyone was “up for grabbing drinks.”

“Hey, gang! What do you say we all head down to Lyman’s for some brews and jalapeno poppers on me?” said Graham, addressing a group of 22-year-old summer interns working quietly and pretending not to hear the invitation.

“I passed a couple of real dive bars on my way over here, so maybe we can get a game of darts going? That is if anyone thinks they can beat the Graham Man. So, you’re all busy? Okay. Right. Okay, I’m gonna head out there now, but if one of you can give me a phone number, I’ll snag us a booth and text you where I’m sitting.”

Graham was seen two hours later in the parking lot, evidently holding back tears upon spotting the interns boarding an Uber on their way to a house party.

https://politics.theonion.com/lindsey-graham-sheepishly-approaches-fox-news-interns-t-1836853176

Hal Prince, Giant of Broadway and Tony Award Collector, Dies at 91

Source: New York Times

Hal Prince, the Broadway royal and prodigious Tony winner, the producer or director (or both) of many of the theater’s most enduring musicals, including “Damn Yankees,” “West Side Story,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Cabaret,” “Sweeney Todd” and “The Phantom of the Opera,” the longest-running show in Broadway history, died on Wednesday in Reykjavik, Iceland. He was 91.

The death was confirmed by a spokesman.

Mr. Prince began working in the theater in the halcyon days of Broadway, when Cole Porter and Rodgers and Hammerstein were its songwriting kings, the stage musical was a robust American art form (not to mention an affordable entertainment option) and theater songs were staples of the airwaves.

His contributions were prolific and persisted through challenging eras — when rock ‘n’ roll threatened to make show music irrelevant, when the decline of Times Square discouraged Broadway attendance, when the arrival of popular British musicals like “Phantom” pushed aside their American counterparts and when corporations like Disney entered the Broadway sweepstakes and miniaturized the impact of the independent producer.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/31/theater/hal-prince-dead.html

The FBI tracked down the alleged Capital One hacker online. The suspect left a digital trail.

Weeks before she was arrested, Paige Thompson was getting ready to euthanize her cat.

The 33-year-old Seattle programmer was pained like any loving pet owner, tweeting that her cat Millie’s health would “only get worse” and that she “just can’t see her go through this misery anymore.”

Her next tweet took a darker turn. Thompson wrote that she planned to check into a mental hospital after her ordeal with Millie was over.

“I have a whole list of things that will ensure my involuntary confinement from the world,” she wrote July 5. “The kind that they can’t ignore or brush off onto the crisis clinic. I’m never coming back.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/07/30/fbi-tracked-down-capital-one-hacker-online-suspect-left-digital-trail/

Pentagon issues forceful rebuke of Oracle as debate over a massive federal contract turns caustic

The Pentagon has issued an unusually strong rebuke of Oracle, accusing the company of employing “poorly-informed and often manipulative speculation” in its efforts to undermine the military’s process of awarding a massive 10-year contract for cloud computing technology.

The remarks were the latest flash point in the long-running dispute over the bidding process for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI), a $10 billion contract that would be one of the federal government’s most expensive information technology procurements.

Oracle alleged in a lawsuit that the Defense Department’s bidding process has been plagued with conflicts of interest and rigged in favor of Amazon’s cloud computing business. Oracle’s attempt to block the award was rejected this month, with the judge in charge of the case explaining his reasoning in a lengthy document unsealed Friday. But in his decision, the judge posed new questions about the Pentagon’s legal argument for awarding one big contract.

Defense Department spokeswoman Elissa Smith noted in a statement that the judge also affirmed the Pentagon was “reasonably justified” to award a single contract. Despite the “tension” in the judge’s ruling, the department has said it plans to award the contract in August, nearly a year and a half after it was announced.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/07/30/pentagon-issues-forceful-rebuke-oracle-debate-over-massive-federal-contract-turns-caustic/

Trump Wants New DNI To 'Rein' In Intel Agencies That Have 'Run Amok'

President Trump didn’t hide his intentions for hiring a Republican lawmaker to replace Dan Coats as director of national intelligence while speaking to the press on Tuesday.

He said he nominated Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) — who, among other things, thinks special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is linked to the Clinton Foundation — to “rein” in an intelligence community that he claims has “run amok” under Coats, an official who’s vociferously warned of Russia’s meddling efforts.

“I think that John Ratcliffe is going to do an incredible job if he gets approved, he’s gotta get approved, but I think he’ll do a great job, I hope he gets approved,” he told reporters Tuesday. “I think we need somebody like that, we need somebody strong that can really rein it in because, as I think you’ve all learned ,the intelligence agencies have run amok. They’ve run amok.”

Trump tends to undermine his own intelligence community when it comes to findings that Russia meddled in the 2016 election — and has even publicly accepted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denials of interference — because he feels it delegitimizes his win.

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/trump-dni-intel-agencies-amok-rein-in

Chuck Grassley Accidentally Lies In State For Few Hours After Drifting Off In Capitol Rotunda



WASHINGTON—Surrounded by onlookers, former colleagues, and Supreme Court Justices paying respect to the slumbering U.S. Senator, Chuck Grassley (R-IA) accidentally lay in state for a few hours Monday after drifting off in the Capitol rotunda.

“Today, we honor a giant of the United States Senate, a devoted father, and a dear personal friend for his great service to this country,” said a tearful Majority Whip John Cornyn in a stirring retrospective about the sleeping Iowa Republican, whose quietly dozing body had been mistakenly draped in a U.S. flag for public viewing just hours after the exhausted 85-year-old senator reportedly yawned and stretched out on the floor for a catnap beneath a frieze of George Washington.

“We may salute him today with a procession. We may lower the flags as he lies in repose. But we will never forget what he has sacrificed for our nation. Rest in peace, my friend.”

Several hours after the ceremony ended, a dazed Grassley snapped awake in the darkened chamber, pulled several pieces of regalia off himself, and stumbled away in confusion while a member of the Capitol police wasn’t looking.

https://politics.theonion.com/chuck-grassley-accidentally-lies-in-state-for-few-hours-1836789977
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