Nothing to see here…

Hillary Clinton responds to a very good question from Citizens for Ethics researcher Robert Maguire:

To its credit, The New York Times uncovered the Trump family tax scam that led to Trump’s sister “retiring” to end an inquiry into her role in the tax cheating scheme. It would have been nice if they’d busted out that scoop on, say, November 1, 2016, which was the day they instead published a front-page story entitled, “Investigating Donald Trump, FBI sees no clear link to Russia.” But hey, nobody’s perfect.

Still, isn’t it weird that they published the story about Trump’s sister resigning in disgrace over a scam in which her brother — the sitting president! — was involved on page A23? I mean, it was their scoop that kicked off the inquiry — wouldn’t journalistic bragging rights alone warrant more prominent placement?

I know “Trump and his entire family are unbelievably corrupt crooks” is kinda “dog-bites-man” at this point. But really, this kind of thing makes me think the folks who accuse The Times of being part of a Republican-plutocrat alliance to prevent us from having nice things are onto something.

Open thread.



Couch Surfer Evicted

The world’s worst couch surfer was evicted after seven years:

That perp-walk scene reminds me of the video of Saddam Hussein being dragged out of his hidey-hole.

Some snippets from The Post article on the arrest:

Ecuador, which took Assange in when he was facing a Swedish rape investigation in 2012, said it was rescinding asylum because he of his “discourteous and aggressive behavior” and for violating the terms of his asylum…

London’s Metropolitan Police carried out the Thursday morning arrest and said in a statement that they were “invited into the embassy by the ambassador, following the Ecuadorian government’s withdrawal of asylum.” In response, the Russian government accused Britain of “strangling freedom” by taking custody of Assange.

“Strangling freedom” is pretty rich coming from the Russian government. The metaphor could have been more unintentionally ironic — they could have accused Britain of “driving freedom to commit suicide by shooting itself in the head three times and then flinging its despondent body over a balcony railing to the pavement 10 floors below.” Anyhoo, the Russian government’s pet gerbil also spoke up:

From Moscow, fugitive American former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden described the scene of Assange’s arrest as a violation of press freedom. “Images of Ecuador’s ambassador inviting the UK’s secret police into the embassy to drag a publisher of — like it or not — award-winning journalism out of the building are going to end up in the history books,” Snowden wrote on Twitter. “Assange’s critics may cheer, but this is a dark moment for press freedom.”

That Snowden called the London cops who came at the invitation of the Ecuadoran embassy to evict Assange “the UK’s secret police” is a good indicator of the level of hysteria this arrest has evoked from Assange’s dwindling number of defenders. But in the end, the “discourteous and aggressive” couch surfer simply wore out his welcome:

“I think [Ecuadoran President Moreno] has never been comfortable with Assange in the embassy,” [political consultant Sebastián Hurtado] said. “And it’s not like this is an important issue for most Ecuadorans. To be honest, we really don’t care about Assange.”

So, what happens next? The folks who reserve their harshest condemnations of the U.S. government for Democratic administrations — a crowd that when combined with Assange groupies forms a perfect circle in a Venn diagram — may get an object lesson in the difference between Democratic and Republican Party governance.

Trump confessed his love for Wikileaks almost daily in the run-up to the election, and Assange corresponded fondly with Trump Jr. But now that the Trump people are in power, it could be they’ve forgotten the little people who got them there. Compare and contrast:

In the last administration, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. decided against pursuing prosecution of Assange out of concern that WikiLeaks’ argument that it is a journalistic organization would raise thorny First Amendment issues and set an unwelcome precedent.

The Trump administration, however, revisited the question of prosecuting members of WikiLeaks, and last November a court filing error revealed that Assange had been charged under seal… [I]n April 2017, then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo, now secretary of state, characterized WikiLeaks as a “nonstate hostile intelligence service” and a threat to U.S. national security.

Today, it’s arguable that no one has a bigger interest in shutting Assange up than Trump. How ironic if the candidate Wikileaks and its fan club championed as a refreshing alternative to the “hawkish” Clinton ends up “disappearing” their hero.

UPDATE: Breaking news from The Post:

BREAKING: A U.S. federal court unsealed an indictment Thursday against Assange charging him with a single count of conspiracy to disclose classified information that could be used to injure the United States.

PARIS — British authorities arrested WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Thursday in response to a U.S. extradition request after Ecuador rescinded his asylum at its embassy in London, ending a standoff that lasted nearly seven years.

London’s Metropolitan Police said a statement that Assange was “arrested on behalf of the United States authorities” and would “appear in custody at Westminster Magistrates’ Court as soon as possible.”

Assange and crew thought helping a transnational white nationalist movement fomented by Russia to meddle in Western democracies would usher in more “freedom.” Boy was he ever wrong!

As he was dragged out of the embassy, Assange was shouting “RESIST!” at the crowd. If indeed he is extradited here, Assange may find it challenging to motivate the U.S. resistance to the Trump regime to agitate on his behalf, seeing as how he was so instrumental in saddling us with these incompetent fascist wannabes in the first place.

Speaking only for myself, fuck that guy. He’s reaping what he sowed. I’ll reserve my efforts for Trump victims who didn’t help put a racist, sexist, xenophobic demagogue in charge of my country.



This won’t end well…

Trump was crowing on Twitter earlier about the Trump signs waved at the Netanyahu victory rally:

It’s natural that Trump and Netanyahu have an affinity for one another. They’re both crooks and bigots who are taking their respective countries to dark places.

The signage is no surprise either; fanatics all over the world have adopted MAGA-wear to express their blinkered hatred and stupidity — it’s the new Stars and Bars.

The jury is still out on how Trumpism will end for America; I am hopeful we can beat back the kakistocracy starting next year, though it’ll be a heavy lift, and we’ll have the millstone of stupid that is the collective weight of Trump voters around our necks for generations to come.

But I don’t see how this ends well for Israel. U.S. support for Israel has been a bipartisan priority for decades, and so far, most Democratic Party pols are maintaining that unity despite Netanyahu’s outrageous interference in our political affairs, including openly siding with Republicans to oppose President Obama.

Democrats’ unwavering support may change as rank-and-file party member sentiment changes and pols respond to that. Can’t speak for y’all, but my sentiment has damn sure changed over the past several years. I used to feel as neutral toward Israel as I feel toward, say, Luxembourg. Now I don’t want a dime of my tax money spent to prop up that country’s corrupt and hostile (toward MY interests) government.

Netanyahu has placed all his chips on red. If America manages to pull out of this nose-dive, that may turn out to be a very bad bet indeed.



Tuesday Mid-Day Open Thread

The dogs are confined to the front porch while a man installs a new hot water heater. Badger isn’t taking the confinement well:

According to multiple media alerts on my phone, AG Barr just told Congress he’ll release a redacted Mueller report “within a week.” Bold prediction: It won’t change any minds, but it might club the Beltway press into a new narrative.

Democrats are also set to grill Trump’s T-Man Mnuchin about Der Gropenfuhrer’s tax returns later today. During the campaign, Trump said he’d release his returns about a dozen times. Let’s see a lie reel on every network except Fox News (would violate their contract).

Open thread!



Quadrupling Down on Cruelty

Some additional reporting support’s Cheryl’s point downstairs that Trump is flailing, specifically on immigration. According to NBC News, it was Nielsen’s refusal to reinstate the family separation policy that led to her ouster:

President Donald Trump has for months urged his administration to reinstate large-scale separation of migrant families crossing the border, according to three U.S. officials with knowledge of meetings at the White House.

Trump’s outgoing Homeland Security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, resisted — setting her at odds with the president.

Trump has been pushing this policy since January, the sources said, when the numbers of undocumented immigrants crossing the border began to rise.

A senior administration official said it seems Trump is convinced that family separation has been the most effective policy at deterring large numbers of asylum-seekers.

The acting secretary, Kevin McAleenan, hasn’t ruled out reinstating the policy, which is why he’s in and Nielsen is out. As for Nielsen, it will really piss me off if the Beltway bozos try to make a martyr of her. I hope Jeffrey Toobin will set the tone:

He said she deserves the lousy reputation she’ll have for the rest of her life, and he’s correct. Nobody made her take that job, implement horrendous policies and lie to defend her shitty boss.

If Nielsen could have done more to circumvent the legal protections asylum-seekers are afforded and/or hide the cruel practices of the agency she led, she would have done so. Trump will likely install another toady who will also fail.

The real problem is that Trump’s own rhetoric created a crisis at the southern border where none existed. People in desperate circumstances hear rumors of a wall going up, remittances (frequently the difference between having food or not) being shut down, etc., and they think, “Now or never.”

The New Yorker has a great three-part piece on factors driving immigration from Guatemala. It’s heartbreaking and infuriating in a thousand ways but well worth a read. The first part of the series is here.

Let’s hope our 2020 contenders are prepared for the coming shitstorm around immigration. Julián Castro was on Pod Save America last week and outlined his vision for a sane approach to immigration, as well as other issues. Even if he’s not the nominee, Castro’s ideas on immigration deserve a wider hearing within the party (and Warren’s on fighting corruption, etc.).

Buckle up, folks. It’s going to get even uglier.