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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}


#EndorseThis: Kimmel Unwraps The Right’s Stupidest Conspiracy Ever

The idiotic attempt by right-wing conspiracy-mongers to implicate Robert Mueller in “sexual assault” — by paying women to make false accusations — is a perfect distraction from grimmer news. The FBI is now investigating the plot, which ultimately may result in one or two morons going to prison.

This stumbling frame-up was made for late-night comedy.

Jimmy Kimmel expertly unpacks the ludicrous details and comical characters behind the scheme, including a clever fraudster who put his mom’s phone number on a fake “intelligence” website.

Just click.


Suffering From Pneumonia, Clinton Falls Ill At 9/11 Memorial, Cancels California Trip

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Hillary Clinton is suffering from pneumonia, the Democratic presidential candidate’s personal doctor said on Sunday after she fell ill at a Sept. 11 memorial, an episode that renewed focus on her health less than two months before the election.

Clinton canceled a trip she was scheduled to take to California on Monday for fundraising and other campaign events, an aide said, declining to provide further details about her schedule for the week.

Clinton, 68, was diagnosed on Friday but her condition only came to light several hours after a video on social media appeared to show her swaying and her knees buckling before being helped into a motorcade as she left the memorial early Sunday.

Clinton had a medical examination when she got back to her home in Chappaqua, New York, according to a campaign aide. Her doctor, Lisa Bardack, said in a statement that she has been experiencing a cough related to allergies and that an examination on Friday showed it was pneumonia.

“She was put on antibiotics and advised to rest and modify her schedule. While at this morning’s event, she became overheated and dehydrated. I have just examined her and she is now re-hydrated and recovering nicely,” Bardack said.

Clinton‘s pneumonia diagnosis comes at a crucial time in the White House race against Republican rival Donald Trump, who refrained from commenting on her health on Sunday.

The first of three presidential debates is on Sept. 26 and the election is on Nov. 8.

Democratic National Committee head Donna Brazile said she was encouraged that Clinton“already is feeling better” and looked “forward to seeing her back out on the campaign trail and continuing on the path to victory.”

Several Clinton allies said the incident underscored the candidate’s resilience.

“After being diagnosed with pneumonia, Hillary Clinton ran a two-hour national security meeting, gave a press conference, and spent an hour and a half in the heat at a September 11 event,” said Peter Daou, who worked for Clinton in the past and now has a communications firm.

“It was an impressive feat of physical strength that undermined weeks of health conspiracies.”


Clinton abruptly departed the high-profile, televised event at Ground Zero and was taken to her daughter Chelsea’s home in Manhattan. She emerged around two hours later on a warm and muggy morning, wearing sunglasses and telling reporters that she was “feeling great.”

The video that showed her swaying and buckling with aides holding her up came from an unverified Twitter account under the name Zdenek Gazda, who did not respond to a request for comment. The Clinton campaign did not respond to repeated requests for comment about the authenticity of the video.

Political strategists said the campaign should confront the health issue head-on to tamp down any concerns, particularly as Republican rival Donald Trump and some of his high-profile supporters have repeatedly argued that she lacked the “stamina” to battle adversaries abroad.

Bud Jackson, a Virginia-based Democratic strategist, said the statement from the doctor was a good start. He said the incident should encourage more transparency from the campaign about her health. “I think they did the right thing. They had her examined and put out a statement. It means less speculation,” he said.

As the solemn ceremony began at the site of the World Trade Center that was attacked by two hijacked airliners 15 years ago, there was patchy sunlight, with temperatures at about 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.6 Celsius). But the high humidity early into the ceremony caused it to feel much hotter in the crowd at times.

Clinton wore a high-collared shirt and a dark pant suit and donned sunglasses for the morning event.

Clinton‘s pneumonia diagnosis follows a wave of conservative conspiracy theories that circulated in recent weeks suggesting that Clinton‘s coughing was a sign of deeper problems.

Clinton‘s speech at a campaign rally earlier this month in Cleveland was interrupted by a coughing spell. During the speech, she quipped, “Every time I think about Trump I get allergic.” She then resumed her speech.

Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert and senior associate at the UPMC Center for Health Security in Pittsburgh who is not treating Clinton, said coughing is a cardinal symptom of pneumonia.

Recovery from pneumonia, the 8th leading cause of death in the United States, can be variable, he said, adding it takes a week for most patients to get better. Adults above the age of 65 are at heightened risk.


Past presidential candidates have released much more detailed information about their health than either Trump, 70, or Clinton.

For example, John McCain, the failed 2008 Republican presidential nominee, allowed reporters to see 1,173 pages of medical records after concerns were raised about a cancer scare.

Clinton has been in the news before for serious health issues.

In December 2012, she suffered a concussion and shortly afterward developed a blood clot.

In a letter released by her doctor in July 2015, Clinton was described as being in “excellent health” and “fit to serve” in the White House. It noted that her current medical conditions include hyperthyroidism and seasonal pollen allergies.

The diagnosis and illness on Sunday come after some tough days for Clinton, as national polls showed her lead over Trump diminishing. A Reuters/Ipsos poll of likely voters showed an 8-point lead for Clinton had vanished by the last week of August.

On Saturday, Clinton came under fire from Republicans and on social media for saying Friday night that “half” of Trump’s supporters belonged in a “basket of deplorables.” She later said she regretted using the word “half.”

Trump has also been under pressure to release detailed information on his health and medical history.

Instead, in December, Trump’s doctor wrote in a short letter that was made public that his blood pressure and laboratory results “were astonishingly excellent” and that he would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”

(Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York,; Alana Wise, Emily Stephenson, Jeff Mason and Sarah Lynch in Washington; Writing by Richard Cowan; Editing by Ross Colvin and Mary Milliken)

Photo: U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton leaves her daughter Chelsea’s home in New York, New York, United States September 11, 2016, after Clinton left ceremonies commemorating the 15th anniversary of the September 11 attacks feeling “overheated.”  REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Will The Trump Campaign Ever Fire Their New York State Co-Chair?

It’s a jarring headline: Who am I to suggest hirings and firings to a presidential campaign? But in the burgeoning pantheon of political outrage, the continued employment of Carl Paladino as Donald Trump’s campaign co-chair in New York must rank near the top.

On Friday, in an interview with Imus in the Morning‘s Connell McShane captured by Buzzfeed, Paladino spoke about Khizr Khan, the father of deceased soldier Humayun Khan who gave an animated speech denouncing Trump at the Democratic National Convention. Paladino reiterated his frequent claim that President Obama is secretly Muslim, and said that the Khans didn’t deserve to be honored as a gold star family because of Khizr Khan’s (non-existent) radical Islamist views.

“I don’t care if he’s a Gold Star parent. He certainly doesn’t deserve that title, OK, if he’s as anti-American as he’s illustrated in his speeches and in his discussion,” Paladino said. “I mean, if he’s a member of the Muslim Brotherhood or supporting, you know, the ISIS-type of attitude against America, there’s no reason for Donald Trump to have to honor this man.”

Attacks on Khizr Khan’s patriotism began almost immediately after his DNC speech, including from Trump confidant and former Nixon “dirty trickster” Roger Stone — who alleged (baselessly) that Humayun Khan was an al-Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood double agent — and eventually, from Trump himself, who attacked Khizr Khan and implied falsely that his wife Ghazala was not allowed to speak at the convention because of religious restrictions on Muslim woman.

In an email to Buzzfeed on Sunday, Paladino doubled down on his comments, repeating the same baseless sentiments and accusations from the McShane interview, evidently without fear of any kind of consequences from the Trump campaign:

Hillary’s staff obviously wrote [Khizr Khan’s DNC] speech. She even bought him the pocket Constitution which he probably never read but also returned to the staff after the speech.

Hillary tried to get five other Gold Star parents to do the theatrics and they all said no and were paid handsomely to keep the request confidential.

In the following paragraphs (and paragraphs, and paragraphs), Paladino regurgitates many of the same spurious talking points found in the first conspiracy hit piece that Roger Stone published to his Twitter account about Khizr Khan.

Paladino, once a gubernatorial candidate in New York and a lifelong right-wing activist, has a bit of a reputation: In March, he sent an email to New York Republicans imploring them to support the Trump campaign, “and try to preserve what’s left of your pathetic careers in government.”

During an April interview with NPR’s Morning Edition, Paladino said, “People that get on this [Trump campaign] bus, on the Trump bus, are people that are very, very frustrated with their government.” He added, in what some said was coded racial language, “That’s the most important thing. It doesn’t matter what kind of person is the exterminator, OK? They want the raccoons out of the basement.”

He remains unapologetic about questioning Khizr and Ghazala Khan’s allegiances, and he continues in his position as New York co-chair for Trump.

All of this leaves us in a familiar place: What happens next, when a candidate doesn’t seem to care that a representative of his campaign spews vicious, hateful attacks? Does anyone care? Or has this kind of racist politics, seemingly picked out of the dustbin of history, make a comeback?

Jake Tapper confronted Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort about Paladino’s comments on Sunday. He was a met with a resounding “Meh.”

It goes to show: For every front-page controversy highlighting Trump’s slow motion car wreck of a campaign, there are 10 that slip under the radar. Consider the white supremacist “journalist” who was invited to the Republican National Convention — I still haven’t seen any explanation for James Edwards invitation to cover the convention as a credentialed member of the media.

So it goes. We will have to reckon with this eventually. But for now, we’re left with Paul Manafort’s reassurance to Tapper: “I’ll have to look into it.”

Photo: Carl Paladino at the 2012 Oneonta Tea Party Rally. Flickr user Sheryl J Thomas.

Is Disarmament An Insurrectionist Myth?

Among gun some gun rights advocates, talk of “control” and “regulation” can eventually end up at “conspiracy”.

Some are convinced national political leaders want firearms confiscation.

But why would the U.S. government want to take everyone’s guns?

To begin, according to the government, it doesn’t. Mainstream proponents for gun-control do not call for disarmament — only the most extreme do, but what’s actually being asked for on Capitol Hill is universal background checks with every gun purchase and a ban on assault rifles like the one used two weeks ago in the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, which claimed the lives of 49 people.

Erika Soto Lamb, Chief Communications Officer for Everytown for Gun Safety, the nation’s most prominent gun-control group — largely funded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg — told The National Memo, “We believe – along with a majority of Americans including gun owners and NRA members – that the Second Amendment goes hand-in-hand with common sense public safety measures that will save lives.”

Why so suspicious?

Ladd Everitt, Director of Communications for the National Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, told The National Memo he deals with the suspicion daily. He attributes the paranoia to the National Rifle Association’s public relations team, particularly the organization’s Executive Vice President, Wayne LaPierre, who Everitt said does an incredible job of spreading misinformation.

Everitt said disarmament is a myth propagated by the NRA and its core members, who share a foundational belief in insurrectionism. This crowd, Everitt said, is “profoundly anti-government… They want to be in opposition with the government.”

Everitt thinks the insurrectionist myth is largely driven by fear stemming from changes in culture and demographics. The influence of America’s white majority, and that of white males in particular, is waning as other groups achieve more social power and growing in numbers. The shift of political capital, Everitt said, breeds the fear that creates insurrectionism.

It creates plenty of false equivalences, too: Insurrectionists frequently point to Nazi Germany as a historical example of the relationship between disarmament and totalitarianism. The Nazi Weapon Law of 1938 prohibited Jews and other persecuted peoples from gun ownership.

Everitt said the pro-gun rebels believe in the sovereign right, at the individual level, to shoot government officials perceived as tyrannical — “like Timothy McVeigh,” he noted, referring to the domestic terrorist who killed 168 people, including 19 children, in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

McVeigh loved guns and hated the government. He was a Gulf War veteran with an exceptional record of soldiering, especially as a marksman. In 1992 McVeigh tried out for the Special Forces but quit after three days and left the Army. He became a transient, roaming the country, buying and selling weapons at gun shows and vocalizing disdain for government, which he believed was a threat to his rights and guns.

That summer saw the bloody standoff between the FBI and white separatist Randy Weaver, who was charged with selling illegal sawed-off shotguns. Weaver’s wife and son were killed. CNN observes the event became “a rallying point for McVeigh and others immersed in the militia movement.”

Then “Waco” happened. McVeigh travelled to the Texas city to protest the federal siege of a Branch Davidian religious compound where the group’s leader, David Koresh, stood accused of possessing illegal weapons and refused to give himself up, but he left before the April 19 firefight that killed 80 Davidians. Two years later to the day, after stewing for years, McVeigh carried out his murderous bombing-plot against the government.

Twenty years later, in an article for Huffington Post, Executive Director for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence Josh Horwitz argued the NRA had brought McVeigh’s insurrectionist idea into mainstream conservatism. It was easy for Horwitz to display the connection between McVeigh’s political philosophy and that of the NRA:

Speaking to a student journalist at Waco in 1993, McVeigh said “The government is afraid of the guns people have because they have control of the people at all times. Once you take away the guns, you can do anything to the people. You give them an inch and they take a mile. I believe we are slowly turning into a socialist government. The government is continually growing bigger and more powerful and the people need to prepare to defend themselves against government control.”

In an April 1995 NRA fundraising letter, sent six days before McVeigh bombed the Federal Building, the Washington Post reports LaPierre wrote, “It doesn’t matter to [the government] that the semi-auto ban gives jack-booted government thugs more power to take away our constitutional rights, break in our doors, seize our guns, destroy our property, and even injure or kill us.”

“Not too long ago,” LaPierre wrote, “it was unthinkable for federal agents wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms to attack law-abiding citizens,” but under “Clinton’s administration, if you have a badge, you have the government’s go-ahead to harass, intimidate, even murder law-abiding citizens.”

Republican Validation

Fear mongering has been the NRA’s PR modus operandi for decades. The organization addresses disarmament on its website, asking “What kind of government cares more about appeasing Islamic terrorists than defending the constitutional rights of its citizens? A government that would disarm us during the age of terror.”

But the NRA wasn’t always this way.

A May 1995 article in the New York Times says the organization was founded in 1871 by a group of former Union officers who wanted to nurture excellent marksmanship in soldiers. This was the NRA’s focus for nearly 100 years, but with the rise of crimes rates in the 1960’s the group shifted its attention to gun violence.

Then, in 1968, the passage of America’s first noteworthy gun-control law compelled the NRA to become “the prototype of the modern single-issue lobby, turning out dedicated supporters at the voting booth to reward or punish candidates based solely on their voting records on gun-control.”

The NRA assigns grades based on whether a politician’s performance is in line with the group’s mission to protect citizens’ unfettered access to firearms. As of December 2015, The Guardian reports, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders had a D- and former New York Sen. Hillary Clinton an F. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz had an A+.

NRA candidates mimic LaPierre’s insurrectionist warning calls of encroaching despotism. The Washington Post reports that in October, Cruz warned voters that “Obama is coming for our guns.”

Cruz said, “Obama’s aides have alerted the press that if Congress won’t cooperate, Obama will use executive actions to, ‘keep guns out of the hands of criminals and others who shouldn’t have access to them.’ By ‘others who shouldn’t have them,’ Obama means you and me.”

Constitutional Militiamen

The fear of disarmament fostered by Republicans and the NRA seems far-fetched, but the paranoia is not unfounded; in fact it’s quite traditional.

Concern for firearm confiscation was birthed into the American cultural lexicon with the ratification of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1791. Federalists, and their drafting counterparts, the Antifederalists — think (very roughly) Democrats and Republicans, respectively — agreed that private gun ownership was a necessary and most efficient means of resisting the standing army of a tyrannical government, which, like all governments, was possible in the United States.

Antifederalist George Mason, co-author of the amendment, professed that history had shown disarmament to be “the best and most effectual way to enslave” the populace. And Federalist Noah Webster, in one of the original Federalist pamphlets, argued the amendment was unnecessary because, not only was the Constitution designed to prevent tyranny, but disarmament must occur before a standing army could seize control, and such a possibility was negated by the population’s possession of arms. The people simply wouldn’t allow it.

Federalist James Madison, who would become the fourth U.S. president, echoed Webster’s sentiment, writing that the Constitution was air tight, and a standing army would be opposed by “a militia amounting to near half a million citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from amongst themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and united and conducted by government possessing their affections and confidence.”

Obviously, they added the amendment, which states that “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The pro-gun crowd, and the Supreme Court, interpret this to mean gun ownership should always be legal because liberty requires it. Some from the gun-control camp will claim the Second Amendment doesn’t actually guarantee the right to gun ownership, that it provides the right to raise a militia with arms provided by Congress; and that all this got twisted around over the years, through interpretations and reinterpretation yielding a voluminous record of writings and rulings.

Today, the U.S. has a standing army, and American citizens have become accustomed to private gun ownership, which perhaps the founders took for granted.

Debunking the Myth

The Constitution remains the backbone of the gun lobby. The National Rifle Association hangs its hat on the Second Amendment. They won’t bend an inch. Any increase in regulation, they say, is the first step down the slippery slope to universal background checks, which they allege would be used to create a national gun registry that would give the Feds an itemized list of every legally owned firearm in America.

On January 22, 2013, in response to a White House proposal for universal background checks, Wayne LaPierre told a crowd in Reno, Nev. that President Obama “wants you to believe that putting the federal government in the middle of every firearm transaction — except those between criminals — will somehow make us safer”:

“That means forcing law-abiding people to fork over excessive fees to exercise their rights. Forcing parents to fill out forms to leave a family heirloom to a loved one — standing in line and filling out a bunch of bureaucratic paperwork, just so a grandfather can give a grandson a Christmas gift. He wants to put every private, personal transaction under the thumb of the federal government, and he wants to keep all those names in a massive federal registry.”

“There are only two reasons for that federal list of gun owners,” LaPierre said, “to tax them or take them.”

LaPierre very ominously paints gun-control like a hellish trip to the DMV that ends in totalitarianism — and perhaps it is, but come on… Either way, reports LaPierre’s claim that universal background checks would create a “massive federal registry” is simply untrue. In fact, such a registry would be illegal. Here’s why:

The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 established the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to keep guns out of the wrong hands and ensure timely transfer of firearms to eligible buyers. The FBI says “more than 100 million such checks have been made in the last decade, leading to more than 700,000 denials” of gun purchases. Most people pass background checks, and the records created by the checks are destroyed by law, which states “The NICS is not to be used to establish a federal firearm registry; information about an inquiry resulting in an allowed transfer is destroyed in accordance with NICS regulations.” The Brady Act bans federal agencies from keeping “any record or portion thereof generated by the [NICS] system,” and bars the “registration of firearms, firearm owners, or firearm transaction” of individuals cleared by the background check. Congress has further added language to annual spending bills that force the FBI to destroy records of gun transfers within 24 hours of validation.

President Obama’s plan to expand criminal background checks would include all sales and transfers of firearms “with limited, common-sense exceptions for cases like certain transfers between family members and temporary transfers for hunting and sporting purposes.” The president’s proposal states no intention of changing current law to generate a federal gun registry; when asked if it would, the White House said no, Obama’s proposed gun laws would not change any regulations, but would simply bring all gun transactions into the existing NICS.

As Ladd Everitt of the National Coalition to Stop Gun Violence pointed out, a handful of states already require background checks, and no registry has been created.

However, on Thursday, Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed into law a bill requiring state police to enroll gun purchasers into an FBI criminal monitoring system after they register their firearms as already mandated, Reuters reports.

Amy Hunter, spokeswoman for the NRA’s institute for legislative action, told Reuters, “As you can imagine, the NRA finds this one of the most extreme bills we’ve ever seen.”

The law gives Hawaiian police the ability to determine whether a gun owner should be allowed to possess a firearm after being arrested for any charge.

Hawaii state Senator Will Espero, a gun owner and Democrat who co-authored the legislation, called the law “common sense legislation that does not hurt anyone.”

“It just means local police will be notified,” he said.

Ige’s office also signed into law two additional firearms bills. One establishes convictions of stalking and sexual assault as offenses that would ban a person from owning a gun, and the other forces gun owners diagnosed with a mental, behavioral or emotional disorder to surrender their weapons.

The NRA will likely sue the state.

One wonders whether the founders considered such provisions when drafting the Second Amendment.

Photo: AR-15 rifles line a shelf in the gun library at the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms National Tracing Center in Martinsburg, West Virginia December 15, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst