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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 50
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 9,632

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In a month, Trump has destroyed 'America First'

The uproar in Washington over President Trump’s corruption in Ukraine and malfeasance in Syria has obscured a broader story. In little more than a month, virtually every other foreign policy initiative the Trump administration has pursued has imploded — thanks mostly to the president’s increasingly unhinged behavior.

The unraveling started on Sept. 7, when Trump abruptly announced that he had canceled a previously undisclosed summit with the Afghan Taliban due to be held the next day at Camp David, and shelved a draft peace deal that a State Department special envoy had spent a year negotiating. The immediate result was a spike in violence in Afghanistan — and at least the temporary shelving of Trump’s ambition to pull U.S. troops out of the country before the 2020 election.

A week later, Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran came undone. Following an Iranian-sponsored attack on a Saudi oil complex, Trump ruled out a military response; instead, he told French President Emmanuel Macron that he was open to a plan to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the United Nations and lift sanctions on his government in return for negotiations. The gambit failed: Rouhani left Trump waiting on a phone line. But Saudi Arabia got the message: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has asked Iraq and Pakistan to broker a de-escalation with Tehran.

Just two weeks after the Iran debacle, Trump saw his nuclear negotiations with North Korea crumble — again. At a meeting in Stockholm, Kim Jong Un’s delegation rejected a U.S. proposal for an incremental deal — a far cry from the total disarmament Trump once sought — and walked away, refusing to agree to a date for future talks. Trump’s hopes for a Nobel Prize-securing breakthrough in 2020 now look vanishingly small.


There's yet another level to the Trump administration's corruption in Ukraine

It's becoming evident that President Trump’s corruption in Ukraine was not limited to his pressure for politicized investigations that could help his reelection campaign. We now know that the president’s unjustified firing of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine in May advanced the interests of two businessmen who made large contributions to his political campaigns.

According to reporting by The Post and other news organizations, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two emigres from the former Soviet Union with checkered financial histories, made $630,000 in contributions to Republican candidates and political action committees beginning in 2016, including $325,000 to a pro-Trump PAC. This year, the men sought the removal of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, whom they saw as an obstacle to their scheme to change the management of Ukraine’s state energy company and strike a deal to sell it liquefied natural gas.

Messrs. Parnas and Fruman were working with Mr. Trump’s attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, and connected him to two corrupt Ukrainian prosecutors, one of whom made false charges against Ms. Yovanovitch. The result was the abrupt recall of the ambassador, who told Congress last week that she had been yanked on the orders of Mr. Trump even though the State Department assured her she had done nothing wrong.

As Ms. Yovanovitch put it, “contacts of Mr. Giuliani may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.” Messrs. Parnas and Fruman have now been arrested and charged with campaign finance violations, including routing illegal contributions to federal candidates from a Russian source.


China is waging war with U.S. businesses. And it's winning.

If you want to understand what’s happening in the National Basketball Association, turn off SportsCenter and pick up “The Art of War.” More than 2,000 years ago, the Chinese general Sun Tzu wrote that “the skillful strategist defeats the enemy without doing battle, captures the city without laying siege, overthrows the enemy state without protracted war.” That’s how the NBA lost its recent battle with China, and it’s how China has been beating Americans the past few years.

Let’s back up.

On Oct. 4, Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets, tweeted support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. Of course, almost no one in China saw this tweet given that the country’s ban on Twitter keeps Chinese citizens in dark. Nevertheless, this small, symbolic gesture of solidarity with human rights-seekers landed the NBA in the middle of the war between Chinese techno-authoritarianism and U.S. democracy.

The Chinese Communist Party mobilized immediately. The Chinese Basketball Association severed ties with the Houston Rockets, Chinese corporations canceled lucrative deals, and CCTV (Beijing’s state-run media company) and Tencent (the tech giant that’s in bed with Beijing) declared that they’d be blacklisting Rockets games. Millions of viewers and billions of dollars were on the line.

The NBA quickly surrendered. The league pushed Morey to apologize, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver followed suit. Even worse, Joe Tsai, the owner of the Brooklyn Nets and co-founder of the quasi-state enterprise Alibaba, parroted Beijing’s Orwellian spin that Hong Kong protesters are less pro-democracy than they are a “separatist movement.”


Unswayed by top advisers, Trump doubles down on decision to withdraw troops

President Trump’s order to withdraw essentially all U.S. forces from northern Syria came after the commander in chief privately agitated for days to bring troops home, according to administration officials — even while the Pentagon was making public assurances that the United States was not abandoning its Kurdish allies in the region.

The officials, granted anonymity to describe internal deliberations, described Trump as “doubling down” and “undeterred,” despite vociferous pushback from congressional Republicans who have been loath to challenge the president apart from a few issues, such as national security.

Behind the scenes, Trump has tried to convince advisers and lawmakers that the United States is not to blame for Turkey’s military offensive, which has targeted Kurdish fighters who have aided the U.S. fight against the Islamic State.

But experts — and many Republicans — say otherwise. And even Trump allies say the president needs to do a better job of selling the troop withdrawal to the public, beyond tweets.


The "stabl jenius" strikes again.

Memory Card Found With Brutal Videos and Photos Leads to Murder Arrest

Memory cards often hold troves of information. Well-meaning people have used the photos and videos stored on them to return lost cards found to their rightful owners.

But a memory card that someone recently picked up off the ground in Anchorage led to the arrest of a city resident this week on a first-degree murder charge.

The card, which the police say a woman discovered in the Fairview neighborhood and turned over to them on Sept. 30, contained videos and pictures of a man beating and strangling a woman in a midtown hotel room, the authorities said.

Two days later, on Oct. 2, a caller informed the police that human remains had been found outside the city, on Seward Highway near Rainbow Valley Road — about 18 miles from the hotel that was the setting in the videos and pictures found.


This is incredibly depraved, and probably not the first time this guy has done something like this.

Deutsche Bank Does Not Have President Trump's Tax Returns, Court Says

Source: New York Times

Deutsche Bank has told a federal appeals court that it does not have President Trump’s personal tax returns, the court said on Wednesday.

Congressional committees investigating Mr. Trump subpoenaed Deutsche Bank earlier this year for its financial records related to the president, his companies and his family, including federal tax returns. Mr. Trump sued the bank — which has been his main lender over the past two decades — to block it from complying with the subpoenas.

That litigation is working its way through the federal courts. Last month, The New York Times and other media outlets asked the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York to unseal a letter from Deutsche Bank that identified two members of the Trump family whose tax returns the bank possesses.

On Wednesday, the court rejected the media’s request, in part because, it said, Deutsche Bank had informed the court that “the only tax returns it has for individuals and entities named in the subpoenas are not those of the president.”

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/10/business/deutsche-bank-trump-tax-returns.html

Uh huh...

Republicans Stand by Trump Because They Like What He Does

Donald Trump is probably the weakest he’s been since becoming president.

He all but confessed to trying to tilt the next election in his favor with pleas — public and private — to China and Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president, and Biden’s son. A majority of Americans support the Democratic impeachment inquiry; a plurality wants him impeached already. His defense is anything but, as allies like Rudy Giuliani keep undermining his position with their own misconduct. His approval rating is on the wane, and he trails his Democratic opponents in key swing states like Wisconsin.

And yet most congressional Republicans refuse to break with the president. Despite his obvious wrongdoing and complete unfitness for the job, the vast majority of Republican office holders in Washington are “ride or die” supporters of Trump.

The most common explanation for this stalwart commitment is simply fear. “Across the country,” reports The Washington Post, “most G.O.P. lawmakers have responded to questions about Trump’s conduct with varying degrees of silence, shrugged shoulders or pained defenses. For now, their collective strategy is simply to survive and not make any sudden moves.” The former Arizona senator Jeff Flake made a version of this point last month, when he said that most Senate Republicans — “at least 35” — would vote to remove Trump if it were on a secret ballot.


Yes, the obvious truth is that Trump's policies are Republican policies, and they like what he's doing.

The GOP's bootlicking cowardice knows no bounds

President Trump’s defense against impeachment is bombastic, full of lies and incoherent to the point of lunacy, which is no surprise. Republicans are beclowning themselves to pretend Trump is making sense — and that, sadly, is also no surprise.

Trump has described his smoking-gun phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as “perfect,” which is only true from the point of view of the prosecutors in his impeachment trial — if it comes to that. His lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, has claimed that Zelensky was the first to mention Joe and Hunter Biden, while the rough transcript of the call clearly shows it was Trump who did so. Trump has demanded that the whistleblower be unmasked, and claimed that he or she somehow misrepresented the call, hoping no one will notice that the allegations in the whistleblower’s complaint have been confirmed by documents and statements released by the White House.

Trump has accused House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) of “treason” and demanded that they be impeached. After first refusing to say whether he wanted Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, he admitted it and called on China to investigate them, too. And as for Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) — who said that Trump’s call with Zelensky was “troubling in the extreme ” and that his requests to Ukraine and China were “wrong and appalling” — Trump has called him a “pompous ‘ass’  ” and wants him impeached, too.

Romney and Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio), however, are the only prominent GOP officeholders thus far to call out Trump for the conduct that will likely get him impeached. Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Ben Sasse (Neb.) have been critical of the China appeal but have said nothing about Ukraine. The bootlicking cowardice of today’s Republican Party knows no bounds.



Trump Ordered to Turn Over 8 Years of Tax Returns to the Manhattan D.A.

Source: New York Times

A federal judge on Monday rejected a bold argument from President Trump that sitting presidents are immune from criminal investigations, allowing the Manhattan district attorney’s office to subpoena eight years of the president’s personal and corporate tax returns.

Lawyers for Mr. Trump were expected to appeal the ruling from Judge Victor Marrero of Manhattan federal court.

The judge’s decision came a little more than a month after the Manhattan district attorney subpoenaed Mr. Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, for his personal and corporate returns dating to 2011. The demand touched off a legal showdown that raised new constitutional questions and drew in the Justice Department, which supported the president’s request to delay enforcement of the subpoena.

The Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., has been investigating whether any New York State laws were broken when Mr. Trump and his company reimbursed the president’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, for payments he made in the run-up to the 2016 election to the pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels, who had said she had an affair with Mr. Trump.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/07/nyregion/trump-taxes-lawsuit-vance.html

Impeach Trump, Repeatedly

A president should not be able to stonewall and run out the clock.

When the Democratic leadership was finally forced to formally back an impeachment inquiry, they faced a choice: focus broadly on all of Donald Trump’s corruption and unfitness, which could drag on for a long time, or focus narrowly on the new revelations about Trump and Ukraine and do so quickly. They chose the latter.

I happen to agree with that strategy, if one assumes that you only have one shot at this. But, I also propose another scenario: Do both. Draw up articles of impeachment on the narrow case of Ukraine, but don’t close the impeachment inquiry. Keep it open and ready to draw up more articles as new corruption is uncovered. Impeach Trump repeatedly if necessary.

There is nothing in the Constitution that prevents a president from being impeached more than once.

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