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Tag: donald trump

Is The United States Too Disunited To Survive?

Reprinted with permission from Creators

The United States has rarely been as divided as it is today — red states vs. blue states, vaxxers vs. anti-vaxxers, the woke mob vs. insurrectionists and Houston Astros fans vs. decent human beings. Some people think the problem is not that Americans are too divided but that they are not divided enough. They have a suggestion: a national divorce.

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FBI Raids Home, Office Of Far-Right Police Union Leader In New York

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The Federal Bureau of Investigation Tuesday morning raided the offices of the right wing, controversial, pro-Trump NYC Sergeants Benevolent Association. FBI agents may have also raided the home of the group's leader, Ed Mullins, according to multiple reports.

"The union is headed by Mullins, a brash leader known for his over-the-top social media attacks on NYPD leadership and Mayor de Blasio," The New York Daily News reports, confirming the raid with the FBI. "Mullins, a member of the NYPD since January 1982, took over as head of the SBA on July 1, 2002."

{EDITOR'S NOTE: Mullins resigned his position later on Tuesday]

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Grisham Memoir Shows Why Trump’s Second Term Would Be Even Worse

Amid the many grifters, misfits, bunglers, liars and toadies who served President Donald Trump, heroes are hard to find. But even in this loathsome group, a few people did eventually grow weary of wallowing in the muck. One of them is Stephanie Grisham.

As White House press secretary, she had the dubious achievement of never holding a press conference, which is akin to an Olympic swimmer never getting wet. But Grisham has written a book in which she tries to atone for her sins by providing fresh evidence of what we already knew about her former boss.

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Trump's 2024 Threat Is Serious-- But Ultimately He Will Lose

The big question isn't whether Donald Trump plans to run for president come 2024. Assuming that he's alive, relatively healthy, and not under criminal indictment, of course he will. He pretty much has to.

Never mind that at age 75, Trump looks like a stroke or coronary event waiting to happen. The show must go on. He needs all the cash he can raise. Otherwise, his lifelong grift could come to an ignominious, if not farcical end. Tax fraud convictions and spiraling bankruptcies would be the least of it.

And if he runs, Republicans will surely nominate him.

What's left of the party he's torn apart won't be able to help themselves. Formerly apostles of "small government" conservatism, the GOP has morphed into a quasi-authoritarian cult of personality.

And despite the staggering incompetence and low comedy that marked his 2020 "Stop the Steal" campaign, it's worth remembering that people laughed at Mussolini too. Charlie Chaplin's merciless satire of Hitler in The Great Dictator didn't appear until October 1940, a full year into World War II.

So it's definitely worthwhile heeding thoughtful warnings that next time an electoral coup might work. Although there's almost no chance that Trump could come anywhere close to winning a majority of American voters, GOP skulduggery could put him back in the White House. Assuming that a complacent majority allowed it to happen.

Longtime neoconservative author Robert Kagan, has recently published a thought-provoking Washington Post essay arguing that a constitutional crisis is already upon us. Kagan, who left the GOP in 2016, warns that "Most Americans — and all but a handful of politicians — have refused to take this possibility seriously enough to try to prevent it. As has so often been the case in other countries where fascist leaders arise, their would-be opponents are paralyzed in confusion and amazement at this charismatic authoritarian."

Certainly, Republicans are doing all they can to game the 2024 presidential election. Should they retake Congress in 2022, they'll do even more. So while it's possible that efforts to prevent minorities from voting could backfire—discouraging older white voters while energizing African-Americans—putting Republican state legislatures in charge of certifying elections is an ominous development.

Had that been so in 2020, Trump's comic opera coup attempt might have succeeded. Bob Woodward and Robert Costa's book Peril, detailed a six-part plan dreamed up by right-wing law professor John Eastman, who harangued the crowd along with Trump and Rudy Giuliani on January 6. The scheme required Vice President Mike Pence to invalidate electoral votes won by Joe Biden on the grounds that seven states had sent rival sets of electors to Congress.

"If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election," Trump told the mob before promising to march with them to the Capitol and "fight like hell" to save the country.

"You can either go down in history as a patriot," Trump reportedly told Pence "or you can go down in history as a pussy."

Meow!

Never mind the constitutional absurdity—how can the Vice President decide an election in which he's himself a candidate?—Eastman's scam failed for the simplest of reasons: no states sent rival delegations to the Electoral College.

Indeed, had they done so, the likeliest outcome would have been that Speaker Pelosi would have dissolved the joint session of Congress, leading to her temporarily assuming the presidency as the next in succession.

Oops!

As usual, Trump had neglected to read the fine print. The fact is, he probably can't. But that's another issue altogether.

Kagan's point is that, next time, Trumpist legislatures will definitely send those rival delegations. Or worse. Some Republican-dominated bodies are even considering overriding their state's popular vote, if necessary, to re-install Trump.

Purged of dissenters like Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, today's Republicans have become what Kagan calls a "zombie party" in thrall to a cult of personality. "They view Trump as strong and defiant," he writes, "willing to take on the establishment, Democrats, RINOs, liberal media, antifa, the Squad, Big Tech, and the 'Mitch McConnell Republicans.'"

In other words, basically a list of cartoon enemies. If my own hostile reader emails are any guide, this is certainly true. To Trumpists, their rivals are fundamentally illegitimate. It's basically a pro-wrestling audience, excited by spectacle. To them, Trump's egomania is a feature, not a bug. He'll give no quarter to his enemies—and theirs.

"A Trump victory," Kagan concludes "is likely to mean at least the temporary suspension of American democracy as we have known it."

Which is exactly why it's not going to happen. Kagan is a learned and intelligent fellow, but he has a melodramatic imagination of his own. As a co-founder of the "Project for a New American Century," he pushed hard for remaking the world by invading Iraq.

His warnings are well-taken, but Kagan badly underestimates the determination of the democratic majority.

Trump Lawsuit Against Omarosa Gets Tossed In Arbitration

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

Donald Trump has lost his case against Omarosa Manigault Newman, his former White House aide and a former reality TV star on several "Apprentice" seasons

The case was decided in arbitration, with the arbitrator declaring that it was "certainly unreasonable" for Omarosa "to never say anything remotely critical of Mr. Trump, his family or his or his family members' businesses for the rest of her life," The New York Times reports.

"Donald has used this type of vexatious litigation to intimidate, harass and bully for years," Manigault Newman said in a statement. "Finally the bully has met his match!"

In 2018 Trump had sued Manigault Newman, who frequently uses the mononymous "Omarosa," for what he claimed were violations of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) she had signed after the publication of her book, Unhinged about President Trump. That NDA was signed in 2016 while she was with his presidential campaign.

The Times adds that Omarosa's book "paints a picture of an out-of-control president who is in a state of mental decline and is prone to racist and misogynistic behavior. Ms. Manigault Newman's book also casts the former president's daughter Ivanka Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in a negative light. When Trump advisers tried to cast doubt on Ms. Manigault Newman's accounts, she released audio recordings that backed up several of her claims."

Omarosa released four of what she claimed were about 200 tapes she had secretly recorded of Trump and others in his administration. One of those released was recorded in the White House's Situation Room, which is believed to have been "one of the worst White House security breaches ever."

Trump reportedly had wanted his then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to arrest Manigault Newman over the book.

These 'Conservative' Grifters Will Be The Death Of Our Republic

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet. This article was first published on The Hartmann Report.

Trump just unleashed an unhinged, barely coherent rant about the possibility President Biden might reveal what was going on in the White House on January 6, the day Trump tried to finally end, once and for all, any possibility of governmental oversight of his ongoing criminal career. He believed he could follow in the footsteps of grifters before him who've taken control of and then drained dry countries from Hungary to Russia, Brazil to Turkey and The Philippines.

Thus it surprises nobody to discover that when Donald Trump and the people around him learned, in mid-November of 2020, that there was absolutely no meaningful voter fraud in that month's election, they chose, instead of acknowledging the truth, to go ahead with a plan to raise over $200 million dollars (and counting). That even today "President Trump" is sending out one or two fundraising emails a day, each one with the tiny "make this a recurring donation" box pre-checked.

Grifters occupy a unique niche in the world of criminals: they avoid direct violence, but live and act only to enrich themselves, whether it's with money, sex, power or all three. They're typically high-functioning sociopaths who sneer at the rules of civilized society the rest of us take seriously.

Republican appointees on the US Supreme Court cracked open the door for professional grifters in 1976 when, for the first time in American history, the Court redefined politicians taking money from billionaires away from being "political corruption" and "bribery"—what such behavior had been called since the beginning of the republic—to instead say it was a mere "exercise of free speech" on the part of the morbidly rich.

Two years after the Buckley decision, in 1978, Justice Lewis Powell (author of the infamous 1971 Powell Memo) pushed the door even farther open when he wrote for the Republican majority a decision granting giant corporations the same "free speech right" to own politicians in Boston v Bellotti.

And in 2010, with Citizens United, Republican appointees on the Court didn't just blow the doors open; they tore down the entire building of "good government" in America, reaffirming that any billionaire or corporation that wanted to own their very own pet politician—or, if rich enough, own an entire political party—was totally legal and not at all corrupt.

Which is why Richard Nixon, who resigned in 1974, was one of the last Republican politicians who actually believed that politics in America had something to do with governing the nation (even if he did it poorly). Ever since then, the GOP has been composed almost exclusively of professional grifters (which is a somewhat different type of cat from an ordinary criminal like Nixon who just took bribes, blackmailed people and lied about it all).

Grifters occupy a unique niche in the world of criminals: they avoid direct violence, but live and act only to enrich themselves, whether it's with money, sex, power or all three. They're typically high-functioning sociopaths who sneer at the rules of civilized society the rest of us take seriously. They combine the not-uncommon skill set of being charming and great salesmen and storytellers, but have no conscience or respect for the truth.

Grifters believe they're the only "real" people in the world and all the rest of us are here for their entertainment, satisfaction or to pluck clean of whatever we have that they want. They view us as cardboard cutouts; their pains and loves and desires are real while ours are merely background noise.

And the entire Republican Party has become one giant in-crowd of professional grifters, most all of them getting rich, getting famous, and/or getting laid in the process.

Ronald Reagan grew up during the Great Depression, became a Democrat who loved FDR, and once believed in government and that hard work and talent would get him ahead. Then Nancy Davis introduced him to her wealthy father, who let Ronnie in on the grift. Shill for General Electric and the GOP and he could marry Nancy, get rich, and might even have a bright political future. He was the first professional grifter president of the modern era.

Newt Gingrich was primed for the grift, screaming about Bill Clinton having an affair with Monica while porking Calista down the hall and fending off calls from his then-second wife. He got into the grift in a big way when he rolled out his "Contract With America" that was almost entirely tax cuts for giant corporations and the morbidly rich. Hell, he's still in on it; I'm getting an email almost every week from Trump with Gingrich's picture and signature asking for money.

Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia both knew that if any other federal judge were to go quail hunting with a defendant before the Court three weeks before trial or allow his spouse to take hundreds of thousands a year from a think tank with business before the Court, there would be hell to pay. But they were in on the grift and simply exempted themselves from the Federal Code of Judicial Conduct. Hell, they helped write the grift with Citizens United.

Since Citizens United the Republican grift has fully gone party-wide and even picked up a few Democrats along the way.

Some members of Congress get rich with money from Big Pharma, others choose to make their money with Big Oil or Big Coal, others are deeply in the pockets of airlines, telcom companies, the tobacco industry, banks, insurance companies or the food and hospitality monopolies.

Some Republicans even ran day-trading operations on insider information out of their offices until then-Democratic Congressman Brian Baird tipped off the world on my show and Air America's Majority Report 14 years ago.Paul Ryan pimped tax cuts for the obscenely rich his entire career, knowing when he left office there's be massive paychecks waiting for him the rest of his life.

Dick Cheney knew there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that Saddam Hussein not only had nothing to do with 9/11 but actively hated and hunted down Bin Laden's Al Qaeda operatives so he could imprison or kill them. But Cheney had run Halliburton into trouble, betting that if he picked up Dresser Industries on the cheap that the Clinton administration would cover their asbestos liability. When he lost that bet and Halliburton was in trouble, a nice war with billions in no-bid contracts for the oil-company-turned-defense-contractor was just the grift he needed to both bail him out and make him fabulously rich.

They all believe, as Bob Dylan famously sang, "You've gotta serve somebody." And the "somebody" they all choose to serve are always the ones who pay the most.

Which is why it only makes sense that the Republican Party would put up a lifelong grifter as their nominee for president in 2016. And that he'd surround himself with grifters like Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who Forbes magazine said would, by any measure, "rank among the biggest grifters in American history," having scammed business partners out of at least $120 million.

Everybody in the GOP is either stuffing their "Leadership PACs" with money they can dip into after they leave office, living high on the hog, using their position to become famous or get into the pants of underage girls, or preparing for their well-feathered-nest after leaving politics.

I've been running a contest on my radio show since it started in 2003 offering a prize to anybody who can identify even one single piece of legislation that was originally sponsored by a Republican, passed Congress with a Republican majority, and was signed into law by a Republican president that primarily helped average working people or poor people instead of the rich or giant corporations.

Nobody has ever won the prize, and I'm betting nobody ever will.

This is not to say the Democratic Party doesn't have its share of grifters (two publicity-hungry senators come to mind). After all, when the Supreme Court legalized political grifting they didn't limit it to one party or the other.

But the single largest caucus in the Democratic Party is the Congressional Progressive Caucus (co-founded by Bernie Sanders) and its members generally refuse corporate PAC money and don't usually hang out with lobbyists. Former co-chair of the Caucus, Representative Mark Pocan, has joked on my show that "they say there are three Big Pharma lobbyists for every member of Congress, but I have no idea who mine are."

While Democrats are trying to legislate around the corrupting landmines laid by conservatives on the Supreme Court, Republicans are expanding on Donald Trump's "voter fraud" and "antifa" grifts to raise money and consolidate their own power in the face of an American electorate that's starting to figure out their game.

Trump and a handful of his grifter buddies who were up for full-out treason thought they could pull off the ultimate grift and seize the trillions in assets of the entire country. They only failed, we're learning, by a whisker.

Next time we may not be so lucky. Congress must grift-proof our politics by getting billionaire and corporate money out of politics, as Democrats tried to do when the House of Representatives passed the For The People Act that arguably Democratic grifters Manchin and Sinema are blocking in the Senate.

Perhaps the 2022 election will bring Democrats a large enough progressive majority that they can work around their own grifters. Or maybe it'll signal the death knell of the republic.

To an extent largely unprecedented in American history, that decision will be in the hands of activists and voters like you and me. We have a big job ahead of us.

Exposure Of Trump’s Coup Attempt Reveals Bannon As Central Figure

When it comes to events surrounding the January 6 insurrection, there are some whose involvement remains unclear. Did Rep. Lauren Boebert lead future insurgents on a tour of the Capitol in order to help them identify the shortest route to the people they wanted to hang? Not certain. There are others who will pretend that their calls to storming the Capitol and spilling a swimming pool of patriotic blood were purely metaphorical. Right, Rep. Mo Brooks?

And then there's Steve Bannon.

The Trump campaign chair, shining with the glow of his last-minute pardon from the fraud he definitely committed, didn't just assist a few would-be Mike Pence-hangers. He didn't just get up there and sound the horn to get out there and fight like there was nothing but a commie-filled America-free tomorrow. He worked to create both the political crisis and the maddened crowd that placed the United States within a few seconds, and a handful of steps, of seeing members of Congress marched to a gallows on the Capitol lawn.

On Friday, Bannon was the undoubtedly proud recipient of one of the first four subpoenas handed out by the House Select Committee. However, giving the head of a Brussels-based fascist movement—tastefully called "The Movement"—a couple of weeks to decide whether he wants to make an appearance before a Congress he dismisses, or a court system he sneers about, seems like far too mild an approach.

Here's a checklist of "fun" Steve Bannon moments, over just the last couple of years.

But that's just the small stuff. Because Bannon's involvement in the events around January 6 easily trumps (yes, pun intended) even trying to abscond with an 800-year-old monastery as a base for bringing down the Catholic church and creating baby Hitlers.

To a large extent, the whole idea of using January. 6 as a lever to tip over democracy came from Bannon. As the recent book Peril reported, Bannon called up Trump on December 30 and told him, "'You've got to call Pence off the f**king ski slopes and get him back here today. This is a crisis."

The point of dragging Pence back—which happened—was to explain how January 6 could be turned into "a reckoning." Bannon explained to Trump how upsetting the prescribed process on January 6 could "cast enough of a shadow over Biden's victory" that it would cause millions of Americans to consider Biden an illegitimate president. They didn't actually have to prove any election fraud. They only had to create a spectacle that would destroy faith in the system.

"People are going to go, 'What the f**k is going on here?'" said Bannon. "We're going to bury Biden on January 6th, f**king bury him."

But it doesn't take going to the pages of a book to discover Bannon's involvement in the attempted overthrow, because Bannon himself just keeps talking about it.

Bannon met with Trump and Rudy Giuliani in advance of the insurgency, with an open goal of destroying the American government.

As Newsweek reports, Bannon's open admission is that he told the others "it's time to kill the Biden presidency in the crib." On his podcast platform, Bannon went on to brag about the success of his plan, claiming that "42% of the American people think that Biden did not win the presidency legitimately"—a belief supported by the actions on Jan. 6 to deliberately undermine that presidency.

As Professor Lawrence Tribe points out. "It'd be hard to justify DOJ inaction in the face of this rapidly mounting evidence of a criminal conspiracy to commit sedition against the US Government and to give aid and comfort to an insurrection. See 18 USC secs. 2383 & 2384."

Tribe's name has recently been in the news because Trump attorney John Eastman distorted Tribe's past statements in his attempt to declare Trump the "winner" by simply leaving off as many Biden states as it took to get the numbers they wanted. But there's no misinterpreting what Tribe is saying here:

18 U.S. Code § 2383 - Rebellion or insurrection
Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.
18 U.S. Code § 2384 - Seditious conspiracy
If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.

Bannon, Trump, Giuliani, Eastman … they all engaged in a seditious conspiracy, a plan that Bannon spelled out with the declared intent of destroying the lawful government of the United States.

It's worth noting that, in their schemes, neither Bannon nor Eastman even attempted to make a case that Trump had actually won, or that there had been anything like the level of fraud Giuliani was claiming. Both plans were simply to cripple the United States by creating confusion and distrust.

It's almost what you might expect from someone who said this:

"Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that's my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today's establishment."

It's past time to stop sending Steve Bannon subpoenas and start sending him to jail. Let Eastman fight with Giuliani over who has be his cellmate.

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.