Not great, Bob.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Forget the 25th Amendment

I'm sure most of you have read Trump's newest stated aspiration by now:

President Donald Trump bemoaned a decision not to investigate Hillary Clinton after the 2016 presidential election, decrying a "rigged system" that still doesn't have the "right people" in place to fix it, during a freewheeling speech to Republican donors in Florida on Saturday.
In the closed-door remarks, a recording of which was obtained by CNN, Trump also praised China's President Xi Jinping for recently consolidating power and extending his potential tenure, musing he wouldn't mind making such a maneuver himself.
"He's now president for life. President for life. No, he's great," Trump said. "And look, he was able to do that. I think it's great. Maybe we'll have to give that a shot some day."

There's been a lot of talk over the last year-plus of trying to remove Trump from office using the 25th Amendment. But I've been thinking about a different Amendment -- the 22nd:

No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.

Specifically, I'm for abolishing it. Why is it there to begin with?

Near the end of the 1944 campaign, Thomas Dewey announced support of an amendment that would limit future presidents to two terms. According to Dewey, "four terms, or sixteen years (which is what Roosevelt would have served had he lived until 1949), is the most dangerous threat to our freedom ever proposed." The Republican-controlled 80th Congress approved a Joint resolution "proposing an amendment to the Constitution relating to the terms of office of the president". in March 1947; it was signed by Speaker of the House Joseph W. Martin and acting President pro tempore of the Senate William F. Knowland.

Trump wants to be President-for-Life? We'll have to amend the Constitution to supersede the 22nd. Well, why don't we get started on this early? I can think of someone else who could benefit from that:

Trump's ego is large enough that he'd expect to continue to win reelection, term after term. If he makes it to 2020, why don't we give him a chance to take on the guy whose legacy he's trying to destroy (but whose legacy he'll likely ultimately bolster)?

Who says no? The Democrats or the Republicans?

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Late Night Track -- Just One Victory

In honor of the Parkland students... this time feels different.

Thread of the Day -- Bethany Butthurt Over Liberal Meanies Using Words

A conservative who is complaining about what a liberal calls things is just asking for it. Bethany asked for it:

It just snowballs from there. Click on the thread to read the whole thing...

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Where Would Bernie Have Been Without the Russians? (Or, the Ukraine Tads Really Knock Me Out)

I defended Bernie Sanders probably a bit longer than I should have. I was never an outright Sanders supporter during the 2016 Democratic primaries, but I was Bernie-curious briefly (until reading his economic plan that just didn't add up) and thought that his ideological presence in the primary was a positive one. A week after the election, I even referred to Bernie as "one of my heroes."

But that's gone quite downhill since. Last Saturday, after Mueller's indictments against the 13 Russians said this:

The document, which spells out in detail how the Russians worked to support Trump’s campaign, alleges that on or about Feb. 10, 2016, the Russians internally circulated an outline of themes for future content to be posted on social media accounts. 
“Specialists were instructed to post content that focused on ‘politics in the USA’ and to ‘use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump – we support them),’” the indictment said.

... I thought to myself, "Forget 'Would Trump have beaten Clinton without the help of the Russians? (SPOILER: No.)' I wonder if Bernie would have risen as far as he did without the help of the Russians? Would Bernie have been able to separate himself from O'Malley, Chaffee, and Webb (remember them?)?"

In essence, how much of the shrinking of the gap in the shaded area on the chart above (cribbed from 538) was made up by Russian campaigns?

I started going backwards in time last weekend, but didn't get further back than the 2016 Democratic National Convention in July... what I found was super interesting, though -- that a pro-Trump, likely Russian bot with apparent insider knowledge started the #BernieWouldHaveWon hashtag.

I still haven't had the time to really dig further back than that, and didn't want to tip my hand that I was starting to suspect something fishy with Bernie and the Russians, but he hasn't behaved well this week, blaming the CLINTON campaign for not doing anything about Russian interference on HIS behalf, and now he appears to be caught in a bit of a lie about the whole affair:

Bernie Sanders is taking credit for action to combat the Russian incursion into the 2016 election that he didn’t have anything to do with — and didn’t actually happen.
Twice this week, in response to questions about whether he benefited from the Russian effort, as prosecutors allege, or did enough to stop it, Sanders said a staffer passed information to Hillary Clinton’s aides about a suspected Russian troll operation.
It turns out that the purported Sanders’ staffer who said he tried to sound the alarm was a campaign volunteer who acted on his own, without any contact or direction from the Vermont senator or his staff. When the volunteer, John Mattes of San Diego, said he communicated with the Clinton campaign in local press accounts, he was confusing it for a super PAC supportive of Clinton.
He also doesn’t know why Sanders is taking all the credit. “I’m going to send him a bill for my back pay,” Mattes joked.
“He could have called me,” Mattes added. “He maybe doesn’t have my phone number.”

At this point, this is just stuck in my craw and I want to get to the bottom of this. However, I only have time to tackle one aspect today. To get my thoughts together and for the use of anyone else who is interested in helping to pursue this topic, I pulled together an archive of all of my own writings referring to Bernie since the 2016 election:

2/21/18 -- Bernie, You're Not Helping

2/19/18 -- Who Started #BernieWouldHaveWon?

11/5/17 -- I Think I'm Paranoid

11/4/17 -- The Last Words on Donna Brazile

11/3/17 -- Donna Brazile Backs Down

11/3/17 -- Fuck Donna Brazile

11/3/17 -- Friday Morning Twitshit

10/7/17 -- The Times Doesn't Get #TheResistance

6/15/17 -- Liberals Shouldn't Have Guns, Either

6/15/17 -- Who Woulda What?

6/3/2017 -- The Silencing of the Hillary Clinton Supporter

4/3/17 -- Peel Back the Skin from All the Lies

1/22/17 -- Planning Sessions

12/31/16 -- On the Same Side

Those three posts in the middle of that list with Donna Brazile's name in the titles are not a coincidence. Neither her statement about having to inform Bernie Sanders about the DNC favoring Clinton and about considering unilaterally removing Hillary from the ticket herself when that wouldn't even be possible, nor her motivation for doing so, made sense. The whole thing was bizarre. Back then, I wrote:

By now, you've likely heard that former interim chair of the DNC Donna Brazile is accusing the Clinton campaign of rigging the 2016 primaries against Bernie Sanders.
This is an insane accusation for reasons I'll let others explain below, but I have never been impressed with Brazile. She ran Al Gore's 2000 campaign, which chose Joe-friggin'-Lieberman as a VP candidate and which ran away from Bill Clinton, who had a 60%+ approval rating. She's since held a number of different positions in the party, but also was one of the first Democratic talking heads I became familiar with when I began watching cable news in the early 2000s. She was never very strong on TV, and as I started to identify with the Democratic Party more and more, I always cringed to see her represent the Democratic point of view. I am a huge Debbie Wasserman-Schultz hater, but didn't think that Brazile was much of an upgrade when Wasserman-Schultz had to resign last year.
So, I'm establishing here that I'm not a fan of hers. At all. And now she's gone from being disappointing to me to being infuriating. Perhaps the reason she's lost pretty much every election she's been involved with is that she doesn't understand how American politics works.

Well, over the years, there have been a couple of other Democratic consultants/TV personalities that I just regarded as dopey losers... one was Tad Devine. Mr. Devine, aside from being lousy on TV, has lost every Presidential campaign he's worked on -- Jimmy Carter in '80, Walter Mondale in '84, Mike Dukakis in '88, Bob Kerrey in '92, Al Gore in '00, John Kerry in '04, and Bernie Sanders in 2016. Every *American* Presidential campaign. While sitting out the next three American Presidential races, he actually won a Presidential race. Just not an American one:

... He worked again with Yanukovich in 2009 and 2010 for his successful Presidential bid.
Yes, THAT Yanukovich:

A new indictment against former Donald Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort focused a spotlight Saturday on uncovering the former European leaders who prosecutors contend were secretly paid by Manafort to lobby on behalf of Ukraine.
The U.S. indictment handed up Friday by a grand jury doesn’t name the European politicians, although it notes they worked in coordination with Manafort, his deputy Rick Gates and two Washington lobbying firms — the Podesta Group and Mercury Public Affairs — to lobby U.S. officials and lawmakers.
At least four leaders — former Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, former Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer, former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko — were named last year in public filings by the two lobbying firms. The firms said the politicians were involved in U.S. speaking events and meetings with U.S. lawmakers and others to promote Manafort’s client at the time, Ukraine’s pro-Moscow president, Viktor Yanukovych.

I'd known for quite some time that Devine had worked for Yanukovych, but he comes across as so much of a dope that I couldn't assign malice to him. But with all of the recent developments, I think I'm coming around on this. Jen Kirkman came all the way around on this several months ago, and she's not letting it go:

Back when I was writing about Brazile, a writer on Medium who goes by "S. Novi" tied together both Devine and Brazile:

Now that Donna Brazile has come forward to create a distraction with her negative comment about the DNC, her profile is also coming under scrutiny. Many of us have known Brazile as the political strategist that seemed to bring clarity in her comments on CNN. But Brazile is a professional in the realm of politics and has also held loose relationships over the years with Tad Devine, the campaign adviser for Bernie Sanders. During the 2000 Presidential campaign, Brazile was Al Gore’s campaign manager and Tad Devine was Gore’s chief advisor. But working on the same campaign doesn’t necessarily make you best friends, but in the world of politics, it does offer connections for communication.
Accusations of wrong doing by Brazile isn’t new. In 2008 she accused Hillary Clinton of breaking the rules when the then DNC chair, Howard Dean, brought it to the attention that the Republicans in Michigan and Florida had moved their primaries ahead of the DNC. When Obama complied and removed his name from the ballot, it left only Hillary Clinton and Brazile claimed that Hillary broke the rules. Even the governor of Michigan stated that Hillary had complied with the rules, but Brazile seemed to disagree and this was just one of quite a few instances where she was a spoiler.
In politics, you have to know how to play chess, and play it well and both Donna Brazile and Tad Devine have become excellent at this game.

I'm not entirely sure what to make of S. Novi -- for one thing, she cites Bill Palmer, a pretty lousy "journalist," in that piece. But we know that Paul Manafort, who worked with Devine on the Yanukovych campaign, likely committed a lot of the crimes he did because of being tens of millions of dollars in debt to a Russian oligarch. After losing, losing, and more losing, could Devine and Brazile be in the type of dire straits that would lead them to work with an American campaign that Russia was helping?

We need more data points on this... by the time the Russian agents said on February 10th, 2016 that they were supporting Sanders, Sanders had already made about 3/4 of his leap. Tad Devine, according to his Wikipedia entry, started with the campaign in 2015 -- so, before that date, and he made over $10 million from the campaign, which would be enough to pay off an awful lot of debt. With or without Bernie himself knowing, would Devine have accepted Russian help in the campaign?

Did the Russians do anything else to help Bernie between April 30th, 2015 (when Bernie got in the race) and February 10th, 2016? I'm going to keep looking.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Thread of the Day -- Bernie, You're Not Helping

If it's not apparent by my post from a couple of days ago, I'm starting to wonder for the first time if Bernie might have had at least a *little* to do with Russian interference. But the idea is hard for me to stomach without more evidence than I've gathered so far. I've long given him probably more of the doubt that I should have, and Pe Resists provides another reason that maybe I shouldn't be doing that:

Click on the thread for more.

This has me thinking:

I didn't want Sanders to run in 2020, but now I'm not sure I want his voice in our politics at all. This is, at best, irresponsible, and my mind is starting to wander to darker places.

UPDATE (2/21/2018, 7:21 PM EST): OK...?

Late Night Track -- The Art of Letting Go

Monday, February 19, 2018

Who Started #BernieWouldHaveWon?

I was working on a much larger story about the Mueller indictment drop, and stumbled on something interesting.

The first known use of the #BernieWouldHaveWon hashtag was this tweet:
This was, likely not coincidentally, the day after Wikileaks dropped the DNC e-mails and the day that Bernie supporters started turning hard against Hillary at the Convention.

Who is Austin Jackson? Clearly not the person in his profile picture. His avatar goes back at least to a roleplaying website post from 2008 which has this description under the photo:

"jonathon. likes to be called jon. he's you're average 18 year old surfer dude. he eats, sleeps,
lives, and loves the waves. he wastes his free time at the beach scoping out the hott surfer
chicks so he can go over and flirt with them. xd he's had a lot of relationships because he's a
freaking playerr."

(An aside -- the Google image search used to find this out had me going through an IMDB list called "HOT GUYS AND CUTE BOYS!")

I *think* the kid in the picture is an actor; if anyone knows who it is, let me know.

Anyway, "Austin Jackson's" Twitter feed is pretty pro-Trump and skeptical of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

His last tweet until now was this past December 10th:

But forget 2017. I'm interested in 2016. After starting that hashtag (he has well over 20,000 followers so it got around), he tried to keep the DNC e-mails story alive for months, bashed Hillary and Obama, and cheerled for Trump. He also posted many anti-abortion tweets (so did he really give a fuck about the Democratic Party?), and bizarrely (this is consistent with his profile description) interspersed tweets about various forms of Oreo cookies.

Now it gets good. On October 19th, 2016, he tweeted this:

One week later, on the same day that Rudy Giuliani spilled the beans on that unrest at the NY FBI office which resulted in the Comey letter two days later, "Jackson" let out his final three tweets until after Election Day. One was anti-abortion, and here were the other two:

And the final one:

"times up."

Did "Austin Jackson" know what was coming?

He did not tweet again until right after the election, where he retweeted these two tweets:

He did not tweet again until February 2017, and his next tweet included the hashtag #makeamericagreatagain.

To sum up:

  • A pro-Sanders/anti-Clinton hashtag that remains in use to this day (still nearly 900 times this week) was tweeted out by a ridiculously fake pro-Trump Twitter account
  • That account, which features the picture of a teenage boy, tried to divide the Democratic Party
  • The account appeared to insinuate something was coming down the pike against Hillary right before it did, and then disappeared, only reappearing to briefly gloat about Trump the day after the election and not returning again for months

This may be a step too far, but somehow, this calls to mind the @TruePundit account, which appeared to be coming from within the FBI's New York office in 2016. Seth Abramson has chronicled that here:

In light of the news that Mueller's indictment states that the Russians deliberately tried to help Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein, what the fuck does this all mean?

I've seen little hints here and there that the Comey letter drop, driven by the New York FBI office, and the Wikileaks/Russian drops are linked. Could this be further evidence? A Russian bot that knew in advance about the Comey letter?

Can anyone else put this together? My brain hurts.