Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

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


#EndorseThis: Stephen Colbert issues apology to Eric Trump

After a weeklong hiatus, Late Show host Stephen Colbert made it back to work just in time for President Trump’s White House to collapse under the weight of (what else but) its very own email scandal.

A lot of the blame squarely on Donald Trump Jr.’s shoulders, Colbert figured the president’s second-born son, Eric, deserved an apology.

#EndorseThis: Colbert Slices Up Pizzagate, Mike Flynn, And Alex Jones

Stephen Colbert, perhaps the nation’s most skillful satirist of news as entertainment, is fed up with fake news – especially in the wake of the Pizzagate hoax that resulted in a shooting incident at Comet Ping Pong in Washington, D.C. He quotes Pope Francis comparing “media that…spread fake news to…people who have a morbid fascination with excrement.”

Noting that among the “uninformed gullible people” who appeared to be taken in by the Pizzagate hoax were Michael Flynn, the retired general nominated as Donald Trump’s national security adviser. That may not be the right job for “a guy who spreads this bullshit.”

Thanks to a Wikileaks email, conspiracy kooks like Alex Jones have come after Colbert as well. Gently but firmly, the Late Show host schools that fulminating impresario of idiocy. He concludes with a pointed message for Jones, Wikileaks, and all of the “subReddit sub-geniuses.”.

FBI Director: Agency Has Found New Emails ‘Pertinent’ To Clinton Probe

By Steve Holland

MANCHESTER, N.H. (Reuters) – Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign was hit on Friday by the FBI’s reopening of its investigation into her use of a private email server while secretary of state, eroding a political boost from a strong U.S. economic report.

With just 11 days to go before the Nov. 8 election, FBI Director James Comey said in a letter to several congressional Republicans that the agency had learned of the existence of emails that appeared to be pertinent to its investigation.

However, he said the FBI did not know if the emails were significant and did not provide a time frame for the probe.

Republican Donald Trump’s campaign reacted with glee. His campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, said on Twitter that “a great day in our campaign just got even better.”

The resurrection of the email issue, which has dogged Clinton’s campaign from the start, dimmed a day that had featured good news for her effort to win the White House.

The Commerce Department reported that the economy grew at a 2.9 percent annual rate in the third quarter, its fastest pace in two years and higher than the expected 2.6 percent, thanks to a surge in exports and a rebound in investment.

The report had bolstered Clinton, who has positioned herself as the best candidate to continue years of economic expansion under Democratic President Barack Obama.

More Americans say jobs and the economy are their No. 1 priority when they decide who to vote for than any other issue.

Trump argues that as a successful businessman and political outsider, he is the best person to take a new approach to rebuilding an economy that has sent too many jobs overseas and left many Americans struggling to find decent jobs.

His campaign said the figures are still not good enough.

“America can do better than the modest growth of 2.9 percent recorded for the 3rd quarter and the dismal growth of 1.5 percent for the past year,” Dan Kowalski, Trump’s deputy policy director, said in a statement.

While many voters do not follow economic indicators closely, outside experts said the release was still a good one for Clinton. She is seeking to solidify her lead in opinion polls as the Democratic Party works to win as many seats as possible in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, where Republicans now control majorities.

Clinton has also been looking to broaden the electoral map. Her campaign said on Friday that she would campaign in Arizona next week.

“Today’s release will likely improve the perception of economic conditions in the U.S. and slightly increase the odds of a Democratic president remaining in the White House,” said Brian Schaitkin, senior economist at the Conference Board.

Clinton’s camp said Friday’s report showed “real progress” since Obama took office in 2009, when the country was struggling to emerge from economic recession.

“With more than 15 million jobs created since early 2010 and real median incomes growing more than 5 percent last year, it’s clear we’ve made real progress coming back from the crisis,” Clinton senior policy advisor Jacob Leibenluft said in a statement.

But he added that there is still more that can be done.

Clinton was campaigning on Friday in Iowa, where polls show she and Trump running neck-and-neck, and in Michigan, a traditionally Democratic state hit hard by the movement offshore of many formerly well-paying American manufacturing jobs.

Trump was holding rallies in Iowa as well as in another closely contested swing state, New Hampshire, and in Maine, where his campaign sees a chance to grab one of four electoral votes.

(Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu and Patricia Zengerle in Washington; Writing by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Alistair Bell)

IMAGE: Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton boards her campaign plane in White Plains, New York, U.S. October 28, 2016.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Tim Kaine Says Congressional Republicans Strategically Leak Investigation Details To The Press — He’s Right

Appearing on NBC’s “Today” Wednesday, Tim Kaine argued that any documents released by the FBI to Congress related to the Clinton email investigation should also be released to the public.

“Anything that the FBI gives to Congress, they should give to the public,” Kaine said. “Because what we’ve seen is this lengthy, multimillion dollar congressional investigation that has been highly partisan where they’ve wanted to leak out this or that to try to make their case against Hillary Clinton. Let the public see what the FBI decides to let Congress see.”

It’s an odd thing to say, given that material like this — notes from an FBI investigation — is usually classified. But Kaine, and most in the political press, know that congressional Republicans have systematically and selectively leaked information from their multiple congressional investigations of Hillary Clinton to the press with the intent of guiding narratives; the ongoing (and usually fruitless) investigations resemble political bludgeons more than instruments of accountability.

Kaine’s proposal, so some Democrats posit, would present the public an alternate (and more complete) narrative of the investigations to combat Republican leaks to the press.

In 2012, a congressional committee began looking into the then-secretary of state’s actions surrounding the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. By late 2014, after finding no evidence of criminal culpability on Clinton’s part, committee members instead turned to Clinton’s use of a private email server while in office. The New York Times broke the news in March of 2015.

“The committee became relevant again,” Major Bradley F. Podliska, once part of the committee’s staff, told the New York Times a few months later, in October of 2015. “There was a renewed vigor in the investigation.”

Jamal Ware, an aide to Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy and communications director for the committee, told Real Clear Politics at the time, “If we wanted to make political hay, we’d be making partial releases and we’d be leaking stuff, and that is not how Chairman Gowdy works.”

So much for that. The committee began to swerve away from lessons learned in Libya and towards Clinton’s email system — political red meat — releasing emails and leaks to the press when they were politically advantageous.

“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?” said Congressman Kevin McCarthy on Fox News, letting his tongue slip about politicizing a congressional investigation. “But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping.”

Around the same time, committee chair Trey Gowdy released an email supposedly proving that Clinton had sent emails with classified information in them: Gowdy had blacked out a name in the email because it was a “classified source,” he said, and releasing it would endanger national security.

Except the name, that of former intelligence source Moussa Koussa, had been declassified years earlier. Gowdy had lied about Koussa’s status to make it appear as though Clinton was emailing about classified information.

In 2013, congressional Republicans released an email from White House advisor Ben Rhodes, selectively edited to make it appear as though Rhodes was overly concerned with the political consequences of announcing that the attack in Benghazi had been planned ahead of time by a terrorist group.

Or consider Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff who asked to testify in public for fear that, were she to testify in secret, Republican congressmen would selectively leak details of her testimony to the media. They denied her request and later confirmed her fears, leaked information to Fox News, Politico, and others meant to make it appear as though Mills had compromised the integrity of the investigation.

As recently as this July, Republican committee members released selected excerpts of their final Benghazi report to news outlets hours before they published the entire report, seemingly selecting bits of information specifically tailored for each publications’ audience.

Kaine’s support of publicly releasing all documents provided to Congress is a response to the selective “drip” of politically damaging information from congressional Republicans to the media. That drip isn’t likely to end any time soon, though.

Photo: Democratic vice presidential candidate Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) speaks at K’NEX in Hatfield, Pennsylvania, July 29, 2016.  REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein