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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: 11,335

Journal Archives

Trump To Vance: I Would Prefer A Civil, Not Criminal Subpoena

Attorneys for President Trump hit back in a Monday court filing at suggestions that the President is under investigation for fraud, saying that the allegations only meet the bar for civil wrongdoing.

“Many of the allegations in the District Attorney’s extraneous sources that form the basis of his invitation to imagine an investigation broad enough to justify this subpoena, relate to civil, not criminal, conduct,” attorneys for the President wrote in a footnote as part of a broader attempt to prevent a criminal subpoena issued for the President’s financial records from going forward.

Trump is trying to block a subpoena obtained by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance for his financial records, held by accounting firm Mazars USA LLP.

The Supreme Court last month struck down a previous round of arguments from Trump that his status as President rendered the subpoena unenforceable, but remanded the case back to the district court while giving Trump leave to raise further objections.

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/trump-to-vance-i-would-prefer-a-civil-not-criminal-subpoena

Trump Goes After Sasse After He Decries Executive Actions As 'Unconstitutional Slop'

President Trump took to Twitter on Monday morning to scorn Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), who called his flurry of executive actions over the weekend “unconstitutional slop.”

Shortly after the President signed the executive actions during a press conference at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey on Saturday — which came on the heels of Democrats and the White House failing to reach a deal on a new COVID-19 relief package — Sasse tore into Trump’s move in a statement by characterizing the actions as “unconstitutional slop.”

In his statement on Saturday, Sasse wrote that former President Barack Obama did not have the authority to “unilaterally rewrite immigration law” with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The Nebraska senator then argued that Trump therefore “does not have the power to unilaterally rewrite the payroll tax law.”

“Under the Constitution, that power belongs to the American people acting through their members of Congress,” Sasse said in his statement on Saturday, joining the chorus criticism from both Democrats and some Republicans over whether the President demonstrated executive overreach with his actions.

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/trump-sasse-executive-actions-unconstitutional-slop

Monday's swarm of quakes on San Andreas fault being scrutinized by scientists

Source: San Diego Union-Tribune

The shifting now underway is similar to forces that produced the Superstition Hills quake in 1987

Scientists are carefully monitoring a swarm of small earthquakes that erupted on Monday in the Salton Sea south-southwest of the San Andreas fault.

The series included a magnitude 4.6 quake that hit at 8:56 a.m. near Bombay Beach, producing shaking felt in San Diego.

“We have had many swarms like this in the past and there has been no triggering of a fault, but we’re watching this closely,” said Neil Driscoll, a geophysicist at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography. “We can’t say whether it is or isn’t going to trigger a larger earthquake.”

San Diego State University seismologist said it is possible that the swarm will trigger a larger quake. Like Driscoll, Rockwell said, “This is certainly interesting, and we’re closely watching what is happening.”

Read more: https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/story/2020-08-10/sdsu-says-mondays-mondays-earthquake-swarm-at-salton-sea-could-trigger-larger-event

Trump's Social Security payroll tax holiday is the first shot in a class and generational war

Trump says he’ll eliminate Social Security tax next year, should he be reelected — and that would likely mean the end of the federal entitlement system as we’ve known it

President Trump’s memorandum to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin ordering that he suspend Social Security taxes for some employers and their employees for the rest of this year makes no sense if the goal is to offset economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic.

But it makes a lot of sense if it is to undermine Social Security and stir up class and generational warfare, which is clearly the goal of both Trump and his close ally, Stephen Moore, who has railed against the whole idea of Social Security for years.

Step back and look at the big picture — and listen to Trump say that he’ll eliminate Social Security tax next year should he be reelected — and you realize that if Trump prevails, it would likely mean the end of Social Security as we’ve known it.

“What President Trump has been calling a Social Security ‘tax holiday’ can easily turn into a permanent vacation,” says William Arnone, chief executive officer of the National Academy of Social Insurance.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/08/10/social-security-payroll-tax-cut/

Trump's voter suppression effort has devolved into farce

With less than three months before Election Day, President Trump’s efforts at voter suppression are becoming so desperate that they would not be out of place in a black comedy. It’s one more example of his ability to take something bad that others have done and create his own unique version of it, one that is simultaneously shameless, corrupt, and so ham-handed that it crosses over into farce.

Someone may try to produce a “Veep” or “Dr. Strangelove” satirizing the Trump era, but it won’t manage to be as absurd and horrifying as the reality.

This is illustrated by a pair of lawsuits Republicans have filed in an effort to make voting as difficult as possible in Nevada and Pennsylvania. You may have heard about the former, but the latter is even crazier and has gotten far less attention.

At the end of June, the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee sued election officials in all 67 counties in Pennsylvania, charging that the use of drop boxes where voters can deliver mail ballots violates the 14th Amendment. This terrifying threat to election integrity, they insisted, must be stopped.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/08/06/trumps-voter-suppression-effort-has-devolved-into-farce/

Trump pretends he has saved the economy while the country's misery deepens

America, you’re on your own from here on out.

That is the message President Trump sent over the weekend with his quartet of executive orders — a quintessential Trump nonsolution to a monumental problem largely of his own making.

This may be the last significant action — or at least an action that pretends to be significant — that the president takes between now and Election Day to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and the economic crisis it has caused. And it will accomplish almost nothing.

Let’s break it down:

• The supplemental unemployment insurance included in the Cares Act, which provided the 30 million or so Americans who have lost their jobs with an additional $600 a week, has expired. Trump’s order claims to restore $300 of that and asks states to chip in another $100. But it establishes a new program that could take months to implement and is potentially unconstitutional anyway, since the power to appropriate money lies with Congress, not the president.

• Trump ordered the temporary suspension of payroll tax collection, an action which, if it survives legal challenge, will do practically nothing to help the economy (by definition, people who are unemployed are not on payrolls). It will, however, weaken the Social Security and Medicare systems, which are funded by payroll taxes. As written, his order only defers collection of those taxes, which means employers and employees would have to pay them back later, though Trump claimed that if reelected, he would “terminate” the taxes, which he also can’t do.

• Trump instructed his administration to “consider” banning evictions at properties with federally owned mortgages. There is an eviction tsunami on its way that could see tens of millions of Americans lose their homes. This does nothing to prevent that.

• Trump delayed interest and payment requirements for student loans until the end of the year. This is the only one of the orders that might actually help people.

So in total, these executive orders will have little impact on the economic crisis Americans are facing. But just as Trump claims that his handling of the pandemic itself has been a story of unmitigated success, when he performed a signing ceremony before a crowd of dues-paying members at one of his golf clubs, he said the executive orders “will take care of pretty much this entire situation.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/08/10/trump-pretends-he-has-saved-economy-while-countrys-misery-deepens/

'Christianity Will Have Power'

Donald Trump made a promise to white evangelical Christians, whose support can seem mystifying to the outside observer.

They walked to the sanctuary in the frozen silence before dawn, footsteps crunching over the snow. Soon, hundreds joined in line. It was January 2016, and the unlikely Republican front-runner, Donald J. Trump, had come to town.

He was the boastful, thrice-married, foul-mouthed star of “The Apprentice.” They were one of the most conservative Christian communities in the nation, with 19 churches in a town of about 7,500 people.

Many were skeptical, and came to witness the spectacle for themselves. A handful stood in silent protest. But when the doors opened and the pews filled, Mr. Trump’s fans welcomed him by chanting his name. A man waved a “Silent Majority Stands With Trump” sign. A woman pointed a lone pink fingernail up to the sky.

In his dark suit and red tie, Mr. Trump stood in front of a three-story-tall pipe organ and waved his arms in time with their shouts: Trump, Trump, Trump.

The 67-minute speech Mr. Trump gave that day at Dordt University, a Christian college in Sioux Center, would become infamous, instantly covered on cable news and to this day still invoked by his critics. But the line that gained notoriety — the promise that he “could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody” and “wouldn’t lose any voters” — overshadowed another message that morning.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/09/us/evangelicals-trump-christianity.html

Evangelicals have been warning us heathens for decades about the impending coming of the Antichrist, and when he shows up...they vote for him...

A president ignored: Trump's outlandish claims increasingly met with a collective shrug

Shortly after a deadly explosion in Beirut this week, President Trump offered a theory — backed by no apparent evidence — that the devastating incident was “a terrible attack,” claiming “some of our great generals” thought it was likely the result of “a bomb of some kind.”

Such a bold proclamation from a U.S. president would usually set off worldwide alarms. Yet aside from some initial concern among Lebanese officials, Trump’s assertions were largely met with a collective global shrug.

More than 3½ years into his presidency, Trump increasingly finds himself minimized and ignored — as many of his more outlandish or false statements are briefly considered and then, just as quickly, dismissed. The slide into partial irrelevance could make it even more difficult for Trump as he seeks reelection as the nation’s leader amid a pandemic and economic collapse.

In battling the coronavirus crisis, which has left more than 158,000 Americans dead, many of the nation’s governors have disregarded the president’s nebulous recommendations, instead opting for what they believe is best for their residents. So have the nation’s schools, with many of the country’s largest districts preparing for distance learning when they reopen this fall, despite Trump’s repeated calls for kids to return to classrooms in person. And the president’s own top public health officials are routinely contradicting him in public — offering grim, fact-based assessments of the raging virus in contrast to his own frequently rosy proclamations.

Congressional Republicans, meanwhile, never seriously entertained Trump’s desire for a payroll tax cut in the latest coronavirus stimulus bill, and the president has been more of a spectator than a key player in negotiations. Even former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, often seems to ignore the president he is running against, focusing his messaging elsewhere.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-ignored/2020/08/08/01aacfa6-d76f-11ea-9c3b-dfc394c03988_story.html

Unwanted Truths: Inside Trump's Battles With U.S. Intelligence Agencies

Last year, intelligence officials gathered to write a classified report on Russia’s interest in the 2020 election. An investigation from the magazine uncovered what happened next.

In early July of last year, the first draft of a classified document known as a National Intelligence Estimate circulated among key members of the agencies making up the U.S. intelligence community. N.I.E.s are intended to be that community’s most authoritative class of top-secret document, reflecting its consensus judgment on national-security matters ranging from Iran’s nuclear capabilities to global terrorism. The draft of the July 2019 N.I.E. ran to about 15 pages, with another 10 pages of appendices and source notes.

According to multiple officials who saw it, the document discussed Russia’s ongoing efforts to influence U.S. elections: the 2020 presidential contest and 2024’s as well. It was compiled by a working group consisting of about a dozen senior analysts, led by Christopher Bort, a veteran national intelligence officer with nearly four decades of experience, principally focused on Russia and Eurasia. The N.I.E. began by enumerating the authors’ “key judgments.” Key Judgment 2 was that in the 2020 election, Russia favored the current president: Donald Trump.

The intelligence provided to the N.I.E.’s authors indicated that in the lead-up to 2020, Russia worked in support of the Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders as well. But Bort explained to his colleagues, according to notes taken by one participant in the process, that this reflected not a genuine preference for Sanders but rather an effort “to weaken that party and ultimately help the current U.S. president.” To allay any speculation that Putin’s interest in Trump had cooled, Key Judgment 2 was substantiated by current information from a highly sensitive foreign source described by someone who read the N.I.E. as “100 percent reliable.”

On its face, Key Judgment 2 was not a contentious assertion. In 2017, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the umbrella entity supervising the 16 other U.S. intelligence agencies, released a report drawing on intelligence from the C.I.A., the F.B.I. and the National Security Agency that found Russia had interfered in the 2016 presidential election and aspired to help Trump. At a news conference with Trump in Helsinki in July 2018, President Vladimir Putin of Russia denied interfering in the election. But when asked by a reporter if he had wanted Trump to win, he replied bluntly: “Yes, I did.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/08/magazine/us-russia-intelligence.html

A confluence of events has created a moment for a Georgia pastor to take a Senate seat

A confluence of events has created a moment for a Georgia pastor to take a Senate seat away from warring Republicans

Democrats have longed for the day when once ruby-red Georgia would be ready to transform into a diverse urban-suburban stronghold in their column.

Joe Biden’s presidential campaign has made it a top target. Republicans and their allies have already reserved $30 million in ad spending to defend Sen. David Perdue (R) from a surprisingly strong challenge.

But the GOP fear of a perfect storm has always involved the second Georgia Senate race, an odd special election with five potentially strong contenders thrown together on the initial November ballot, including appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) and the Rev. Raphael Warnock (D).

A confluence of events has created a moment for Warnock’s campaign that, if he can seize it, could turn into a political disaster for Republicans and a boon for Democrats.

Warnock, as senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, oversaw the nationally televised funeral of John Lewis, the congressman and civil rights icon whose stature brought three presidents to Warnock’s pulpit for eulogies.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/georgia-senate-warnock-loeffler-/2020/08/08/5e5ecbe6-d8df-11ea-aff6-220dd3a14741_story.html
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