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High Crimes

© Tom Tomorrow

The Republicans claim Donald Trump did nothing wrong because both he (the accused) and Volodymyr Zelensky (the person being extorted, so essentially had a gun pointed at his head) said there was no pressure to investigate Joe Biden. But as multiple witnesses (yes, including several first hand witnesses) have testified under oath, there was plenty of explicit pressure. Trump was using his official power as president to extort assistance from a foreign country for his own personal gain.

That is a massive swamp, and an illegal one at that. I guess the GOP is so desperate for excuses that easily disproved lies are all they have left to try.

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No Gift

It seems like the Republicans were indeed blowing smoke when they claimed they had internal polls showing that impeachment was increasing Donald Trump’s popularity. Because the only polls that actually matter are the ones that happen on an election day, like the one yesterday.

On Monday, the day before the election, Trump held a rally in Kentucky in support of the current Republican governor, Matt Bevin. Trump even begged the attendees to vote for Bevin, saying “You can’t let that happen to me!” because it would mean “Trump suffered the greatest defeat in the history of the world.” After all, in 2016 Trump won Kentucky by a huge 30 points.

It didn’t work. And of course, after Tuesday’s loss of Bevin to Democrat Andy Beshear, the GOP tried to blame it on problems with Bevin’s campaign.

But the reality is that impeachment did not fire up Trump’s base. In fact, it did the opposite, it fired up suburban voters to vote Democratic. This is like 2018, when suburban voters turned on the GOP and handed the House of Representatives to the Democrats.

Has Trump even tried to solve this problem? No, he keeps doing things to fire up is base, but his base isn’t growing, it appears to be fixed. In order to win next year, Trump will need to expand to suburban voters, like he did in 2016. But it seems that Trump is too dumb to realize that. Does Trump need attention so bad that he is incapable of stopping pulling the stunts that are now starting to piss off the voters he truly needs?

We’ll see.

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A Gift

This is a gift for us. Our internal polling shows that Donald Trump’s support has gone up thanks to the impeachment inquiry. Since Nancy Pelosi called for this we have seen the numbers go up… We can let them keep going with this because the American people are not distracted by this.

— Lara Trump (wife of Eric Trump), in an interview on Fox News

Who did the Trump administration hire to do internal polling? More sycophants like the ones Trump has surrounded himself? Because a new poll shows that Trump has hit an all-time low among Republicans of 74%, which is 13 points lower than the 87% approval rating he had in July. Not only that, but support for removing Trump from office by impeachment and conviction has increased to 82% among Democrats.

So the number of Republicans that approve of Trump is declining, while the Democrats are becoming energized about impeaching him. That’s some gift.

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Helen Philpot is back!

I admit it, I love Margaret and Helen. But I was getting worried as there had been no posts since March. Finally, last week we got a wonderful new post from Helen. You should go read it. I’m not going to post the whole thing, because they should get lots of money from the ads on their site to encourage them to post more. Now more than ever.

If you need convincing, here’s the start of the current post:

Margaret, nobody is perfect. Lord knows I’ve been known to have a mental lapse every now and then. Like when I thought Tulsi Gabbard might have some good ideas to add to the debates. She didn’t and that’s ok. I’m a big enough person to admit when I’m wrong. Having that capacity – that strength – to admit your mistakes, learn from them, grow from them, and then move on – well that’s actually a sign of good character. Which is exactly the reason why I can say without a doubt that Donald J. Drumpf, the 45th (gulp) President of these United States must have a really, really, really tiny penis.

Now hear me out…

Now go read it. I mean it. Really.

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Hypocrisy, thy name is Donald Trump Jr.

I wish my name was Hunter Biden. I could go abroad, make millions off my father’s presidency. I’d be a really rich guy.

— Donald Trump Jr. speaking (naturally) on Fox News

For a bit of added irony (and stupidity), note that junior said “presidency”, not “vice presidency”. Is Don-ette talking about the past or the future?

The apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree. The US economy grew at an annual rate of 1.9% in the third quarter of this year. Yesterday, Donald Trump said this was “The Greatest Economy in American History!”. But in 2012, Donald Trump described a 1.9% increase in GDP by saying “The economy is in deep trouble.

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Going Down

© Jen Sorensen

Do not underestimate the power of propaganda promulgated by right-wing “news” sources. As Sorensen says in her commentary to this comic, “The fact that Facebook is bending the knee and promoting Breitbart as a legitimate news source should send chills down everyone’s spine.”

Facebook has also decided that they will run any ad from a politician, no matter how clearly false it is. This will clearly help Donald Trump and the GOP. I guess ad revenue is more important to Facebook than avoiding spreading lies and destroying our democracy.

This would not be the first time that overconfidence backfired. We must remember that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.

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Out of excuses

© Ruben Bolling

The noose is slowly tightening around Donald Trump. Government employees are ignoring his orders to disobey congressional subpoenas, which is Trump’s own fault since he has shown that being loyal to him doesn’t make you any less likely to be thrown under a bus (or two). And you’ll notice that Republicans no longer dispute any of the facts of the impeachment. Instead, they pull desperate stunts, like refusing to leave the room where witnesses are going to be questioned.

There is pretty much no question that Trump is going to be impeached. The only question is how many GOP Senators will have the guts to vote to convict him.

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This is how you trump Trump

On Wednesday, Donald Trump called the top Democrats to the White House, supposedly to talk about Syria and Turkey. But just before the meeting, the House voted to rebuke Donald Trump about his decision to withdraw all US troops from Syria and allow Turkey to invade. In a surprising display of anger against the leader of their party, 129 House Republicans voted against Trump (out of 197 GOP representatives total), along with all of the Democrats. Making it a stunning rebuke.

Of course, when Trump gets attacked, he always fires back. But this time he pretty much had a meltdown, raining insults not only at the Democrats (for example, calling Nancy Pelosi a “a third-rate politician” to her face), but also railing against his own former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who said on TV that Trump’s actions in Syria opened the door for ISIS to return, and that “It’s absolutely a given that they will come back.” In response, Trump interrupted and said that Mattis was “the world’s most overrated general.”

Trump also claimed that his move did not put any US soldiers “in harm’s way”. However, a senior Department of Defense official later said that Trump’s claim was not true.

The Democrats ended up walking out of the meeting, but Trump wasn’t done. He took to Twitter and posted a photo from the meeting attacking Nancy Pelosi, saying “Nervous Nancy’s unhinged meltdown!”.

Here’s when magic happened. Instead of engaging Trump, Pelosi took the photo and made it her Twitter cover shot. One of her staff tweeted “Thanks for the new cover photo @realDonaldTrump!” Here’s the photo on her Twitter profile:

I have to say that I am very impressed by Pelosi’s response.

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This Week in GOP Politics

Tom Tomorrow
© Tom Tomorrow

The bad news is that the right-wing noise machine is still spouting propaganda for their “perfect” leader. In fact, Donald Trump himself has averaged almost 22 lies a day in the last two months. The result? A stunning 84% of Republicans approve of the job Trump is doing.

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Five Reporters!

This has been a very significant week in the “war on Trump” (hey, I can get away with saying “war on Trump” since Donald Trump accused a completely constitutional impeachment inquiry of being a “coup”).

So many important things happened this week, you may have been a bit overwhelmed and become insensitive to their significance. So Politico asked five reporters to say what stood out as “the biggest development of a crazy week”. Interestingly, they came up with five different things. Here they are (with my commentary):

Natasha Bertrand, national security reporter: Definitely that two associates of Rudy Giuliani who are in many ways at the heart of this Ukraine scandal — Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman — were indicted on campaign finance charges. The indictment could shed more light on the pair’s campaign, alongside Giuliani, to discredit former Vice President Joe Biden and remove the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Masha Yovanovitch. It also signals an intensifying crackdown on illicit campaign contributions, at a moment when Trump’s inaugural committee is under criminal investigation for potentially receiving donations from illegal foreign sources. Parnas and Fruman, born outside the U.S., are alleged to have funneled up to a million dollars in foreign cash into political action committees and campaigns, including Trump’s.

I really wish people would stop referring to their crimes as “campaign finance violations”. I don’t care if that is the technical name for it. What these two foreign nationals did, with the knowledge of Rudy Giuliani and the involvement of Donald Trump, was funnel around a million dollars from a Ukrainian government official and a Russian businessman into Republican political action committees (PACs) and directly into a Republican congressman’s campaign (both are illegal) in order to buy political influence (which is corruption).

UPDATE: Note that accepting money (or soliciting campaign dirt) from a foreign entity is illegal, so if a politician does it and the foreign entity asks for a favor, the foreign entity could blackmail the politician if they don’t deliver. So the politician is in serious debt to a foreign entity, when the politician’s allegiance should be to their country. So the politician isn’t just violating some obscure campaign rule, they have become a security risk in order to win an election that they don’t believe they could win fairly.

These two also ran a successful campaign (under Giuliani’s direction) to get Trump to remove the US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, because (according to her sworn testimony) she was trying to stop their corrupt activities. In an ironic twist, this campaign seems to have been started by the corrupt prosecutor that Joe Biden got removed (with the support of our European allies). Oh, and these two were also working with Giuliani to dig up dirt on Joe and Hunter Biden (also illegal).

One tries to avoid the word “treason” but what else can this be called?

Darren Samuelsohn, senior White House reporter: The news about the Giuliani associates was definitely big. But I’ll throw a curveball here and go with someone we hadn’t been thinking much about of late: Robert Mueller. U.S. District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell’s questions and commentary during a hearing Tuesday suggested she’s leaning toward ordering the release of the special counsel’s grand jury materials. If that happens, she’d be handing House Democrats a bounty of new information in their impeachment inquiry — the kind of stuff that would become ammunition in an expanding probe beyond Ukraine. The Justice Department would also be all but certain to appeal a ruling from Howell that goes against them, thereby setting up a much bigger fight that seems headed to the Supreme Court.

Robert Mueller declined to indict a sitting president, but he also made it clear that the proper alternative to indictment of a president was impeachment. Therefore, his grand jury materials should be handed over to the impeachment inquiry. I hope this happens.

Andrew Desiderio, congressional reporter: The biggest development of the week, in my book, came at the tail end when the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld House Democrats’ subpoena for eight years of Trump’s financial records from his accounting firm, Mazars. It’s a huge loss for the president, after having lost a bid to quash the subpoena in a lower court. Trump has done everything he possibly can to avoid his financial records and tax returns from getting into the hands of his political enemies — and he may have no further recourse this time. But even beyond this specific battle, Friday’s ruling from a three-judge panel gives a big boost to congressional oversight authority. “Contrary to the president’s arguments, the committee possesses authority under both the House Rules and the Constitution to issue the subpoena,” one of the judges wrote.

I would vote for this one to be the most significant of the week, for two reasons. First, the appeals court reached their decision in just a few days (the lower court ruling happened earlier this week!). That kind of blazing judicial speed can happen only when when a decision is pretty obvious. As I have already pointed out, Trump is claiming that he is above the law and cannot be even investigated, let alone indicted or impeached.

Second, if they appeal this to the Supreme Court, it will be very interesting to see what happens. Trump has been able to stack the Supreme Court in his favor, and my guess is that he will pressure them to rule in his favor (which would move our country from a constitutional democracy toward a dictatorship). That will definitely be a constitutional crisis.

Consequently, SCOTUS will likely decline to take the case, which means that Trump’s financial records will be released to Congress. At that point, Trump will become even more unhinged and will probably try to discredit the courts, including his own stacked Supreme Court. Which itself is something of a constitutional crisis.

Kyle Cheney, congressional reporter: In a week of big developments, the one I think will be most consequential is former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch’s decision to defy the State Department to testify in the House’s impeachment investigation. With her decision, she set a template for other witnesses to come forward even if they’ve been ordered not to — and already a second State Department ambassador, Gordon Sondland, is preparing to follow suit. Yovanovitch’s testimony itself was significant, too. She obliterated some of the conspiracy theories that led Trump to oust her and revealed that she was given a word of support from John Sullivan, the deputy secretary of state, even as Trump pulled her from her post in Ukraine.

There are reports that other whistleblowers are starting to come forward (with at least one confirmed). With any luck, this will become an avalanche that sweeps Trump away. Remember that Nixon’s fall and resignation happened over the course of only a few weeks when everyone, including his Republican allies, deserted him.

In addition, the testimony of Yovanovitch to congress was pretty devastating.

Josh Gerstein, legal affairs reporter: I’m going to go off the board (is that allowed?) and say that the most significant impeachment development of the week was Trump’s decision to have U.S. troops stand aside as Turkey invades Syria. Of course, it has nothing directly to do with the current grounds Democrats have asserted for impeachment, but the move shook many of Trump’s key supporters to their core.

People who have stridently defended Trump at some cost to their own reputations, like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), were caught completely off guard by the president’s decision to abandon the Kurds — longtime U.S. allies. Other Trump backers even popped up in unexpected places like MSNBC to denounce the move. Why anyone in the political fight of his life would piss off his closest friends is hard to fathom. The impulsive, widely criticized move and the scramble to clean it up also undercuts arguments from Trump that that his unorthodox telephone diplomacy is as consistently “perfect” as he maintains.

This item seems very significant, because if there is anything that unites Republican politicians it is support for our military. Trump’s former Defense Secretary James Mattis says that Trump has guaranteed that “ISIS will resurge. It’s absolutely a given that they will come back.” Will more Republicans turn against Trump because of this?

Unfortunately, I do have some doubts. After all, Republicans have totally abandoned fiscal responsibility (and their claimed hatred of deficit spending, which they were only too happy to use repeatedly as a weapon against Barack Obama). They also seem to have abandoned their religious morals when they embraced a liar, cheat, and philanderer as their president. Indeed, some conservatives believe that the Republicans have abandoned conservatism. Will abandonment of the Constitution be that difficult for them?

The point of this post is that in just under a week, there have been (at least) five things, any one of which could bring down the Trump crime syndicate administration.

What will next week bring? The same article asked the same reporters this question as well (along with others), and the reporters had some interesting answers. It is worth a read.

And finally, a humorous look at this:

© Ruben Bolling
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George Will wants Trump Impeached

Or at the very least, defeated in the next election. And if the GOP senators don’t stand up to Trump, they should be replaced in the next election as well.

Here’s the opinion piece in the Washington Post. It also has a video of him talking about this, that goes a bit further than the article. Here’s one salient quote from the article:

If Trump gets away with his blanket noncompliance, the Constitution’s impeachment provision, as it concerns presidents, will be effectively repealed, and future presidential corruption will be largely immunized against punishment.

And here’s the video (plus an extra bonus video from the same interview), in case you can’t access WaPo.

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The Don

© Tom Tomorrow

What’s really frightening about this comic is that the artist didn’t have to change much of the language to show how much Donald Trump is acting like a mafia boss. Trump totally acts and talks like he is totally above the law. Yesterday’s letter from the White House to Congress basically asserted the laughable premise that impeaching Trump is illegal. Trump seems to have succeeded in surrounding himself with lawyers who are as dumb and full of bluster as he is.

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Turkey and Syria Explained

Trevor Noah explains what happened last night at 11pm when Donald Trump suddenly announced that he was betraying our closest ally in the fight against ISIS. Even though Noah’s show is comedy and his explanation has its share of jokes, he does a better job than most news sources.

The takeaway point is that Trump is doing what he always does, just trying to distract everyone from his latest crisis, in this case the impeachment investigation. But he is doing it in a way that will cost many lives and permanently damage the security of our country. Even Republicans are realizing that Trump is now totally unhinged. Never Forget.

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Twilight Zone

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Trump Humor

“Donald Trump is so privileged that the first job he ever had to apply for was president of the United States.” — Stephen Colbert

“You don’t argue with a toddler if you want to win; don’t amplify the toddler’s voice, because you’ll just get trapped in the toddler’s world. Rather, just keep asking the toddler to elaborate, because logic is the downfall of every toddler.” — “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah on handling Donald Trump

“But, you know, Trump voters—really? Not even the guy who says he wants to fuck his daughter? This is not a deal-breaker for you? I mean, what does it take? A racist, a liar, a tax cheat, a draft-dodger, a deadbeat, a Russian agent, and a rapist. You know we’re a nuclear power, right? These are red flags.” — Bill Maher

“A 12-year-old boy is actually running one of Trump’s
campaign offices in Colorado. When asked how an inexperienced child could be running things, the boy said, ‘Look, he’s the nominee and we’re stuck with him.'” – Jimmy Fallon

“So enjoy your victory, Trump voters! Because when you’re dying because you don’t have health insurance to treat the infection you got from a back alley abortion you had to get because of fetal lead poisoning, you can say to yourself, ‘At least I didn’t vote for someone with a private email server.'” — Bill Maher

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