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


Trump Surprised GOP Officials With Twitter Threat To Quit Charlotte

One of President Donald Trump's many targets on Memorial Day Weekend has been North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, who he says is moving too slowly on the state's reopening. Railing against Cooper on Twitter, Trump threatened to pull the 2020 Republican National Conventional out of Charlotte — and CNN is reporting that Republicans involved in the planning of the convention were "completely blindsided" by Trump's threat.

Trump tweeted, "Unfortunately, Democrat Governor, @RoyCooperNC is still in Shutdown mood & unable to guarantee that by August we will be allowed full attendance in the Arena. In other words, we would be spending millions of dollars building the Arena to a very high standard without even knowing if the Democrat Governor would allow the Republican Party to fully occupy the space."The president also asserted that Republicans planning to attend the Republican National Convention "must be immediately given an answer by the Governor as to whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied."

"If not, we will be reluctantly forced to find, with all of the jobs and economic development it brings, another Republican National Convention site," Trump tweeted. "This is not something I want to do. Thank you, and I LOVE the people of North Carolina!"

According to CNN, Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, said that the RNC is moving "full steam ahead" with the convention — although she stressed that it must be an in-person event.

McDaniel asserted, "We do not think at this time we have to switch to an alternative plan, but of course, we will monitor circumstances and adjust accordingly. We will not be holding a virtual convention."

Flynn Reportedly Attended Intel Briefings While Paid By Foreign Interests

So much for Donald Trump’s promise to muzzle Washington lobbyists: He has offered the crucial position of White House national security adviser to Michael Flynn, a retired lieutenant general who is registered to lobby for a foreign company whose owner has close ties to the president of Turkey. And just last year, Flynn accepted payment from Russia’s state-owned television network to attend a celebration in Moscow. At that party he sat next to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

What makes Flynn’s lobbying role even more troubling, according to a new report by Yahoo News chief investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff, was his attendance at classified intelligence briefings with Trump last summer — while advising both the presidential candidate and his foreign clients.

President Obama’s former ethics adviser Norm Eisen, who also served as ambassador to the Czech Republic, told Yahoo News: “This is profoundly troubling and should be disqualifying,” and predicted that Flynn’s appointment as national security adviser will result in “wholesale resignations of national security professionals, and I believe some have already drafted their resignation letters.”

Ironically, Flynn’s reported appointment came on the same day that Trump announced he will require everyone involved with the transition to sever their relationships with lobbying clients and to forego any lobbying contracts for five years after their government service concludes. But the new policy — which removed many lobbyists from the Trump transition — does not apply to past clients.

Questions immediately arose over whether Flynn had signed a White House “memorandum of understanding” that required all transition team members to disclose their finances and certify that they had no conflicts of interest. To meet that requirement, the retired general — who formerly headed the Defense Intelligence Agency until he was forced to step down in 2014 — would have to reveal details about his company, the Flynn Intel Group, whose client list remains largely unknown. But the commercial aim of Flynn’s outfit is to provide “private business intelligence” to domestic and foreign corporations.

Information that might be gleaned from a classified White House intelligence briefing, like the sessions afforded to Trump and top figures in his campaign since last summer, would be invaluable to such clients. Through his attorney, Flynn issued a statement pledging that “if I return to government service, my relationship with my company will be severed, in accordance with the policy announced by President-elect Trump.”

As recently as last week, Flynn published an article in The Hill newspaper promoting the views of the increasingly repressive Turkish government headed by President Recep Tayip Erdogan. Specifically, he advocated the extradition to Turkey of Fethullan Gulen, an adversary of Erdogan who currently lives in the United States. Flynn denounced Gulen, blamed by the Turkish government for the recent coup attempt in Istanbul, as “a shady Islamic mullah” — and compared him to Osama bin Laden.

Yahoo News also quoted Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, who called Flynn’s presence at classified briefings when he was representing foreign clients “deeply disturbing.” Brian added, “It’s exactly the kind of foreign entanglements our laws are designed to prevent.”

Millions of Americans watched Flynn gleefully chanting “Lock her up!” along with delegates to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last July, a taunting reference to Hillary Clinton for her alleged failure to protect classified information in her emails. “If I did a tenth of what she did,” he yelled, “I’d be in jail today!” Of course the FBI found that she had broken no laws — and reviews of thousands of her emails revealed that she had not knowingly disclosed any classified material or endangered national security.

Now the tables are turned — and perhaps the blustering general will have to explain why he sat in those highly classified briefings while he was still providing “private business intelligence” to foreign interests.

Trump Is A Reminder That Obama Has Made America Greater

He definitely got a bump after the Republican National Convention. And by “he,” I mean “President Obama.”

At the beginning of the Gathering of the Trumppalos in Cleveland, the president’s approval rating had sunk below 50 percent in Gallup’s daily tracking poll, an unusual occurrence this year, with only a +2 margin over his disapproval rating at 47 percent.

Two weeks later, the president is back at 54 percent, with a 11 percent margin, and probably wishes there could be alternating Republican and Democratic conventions for the rest of the year.

It’s hard to say what did more to improve President Obama’s image:

Was it the parade of D-level conservative talent in Cleveland followed by Donald Trump ranting for 76 minutes about how he “alone” can fix an America unrecognizable to those of us who realize that, under Obama, crime has gone down by about a fifth, the stock market has more than doubled, layoffs per capita are at an all-time low, and total employment is at an all-time high?

Or was it the parade of A-list Democrats in Philadelphia, along with various independents and members of the military, followed by President Obama himself arguing that America hasn’t fully recovered from the crises and wars that began under GOP rule, but that we’ve made huge strides to rebuild America by embracing the diversity that so threatens the rotting peach of a lunatic nominated by the other party?

Either way, Americans are more appreciative of the president than at any time during his tenure save the few months after his two victories in Electoral College landslides. And the fact that we’re in the middle of the longest sustained period of private-sector job growth in U.S. history is just one reason.

This president hasn’t been perfect. Hopes that he would reverse the drift of the deep security state have all but evaporated. But the spirit of those expectations has been borne out in the nuclear deal with Iran, the long overdue normalization of relations with Cuba, and the global agreement to take on climate change.

That’s why America’s image with most of our allies has improved drastically under this president.


Obama has done more to advance the fight against global warming and the rights of LGBTQ Americans than all other presidents combined — almost no other president (aside from Clinton) acknowledged that either existed.

But these achievements are all the more impressive given that his predecessor did everything possible to make both worse. And his Republican would-be successor would do the same — or worse, given the growing urgency of the climate crisis and utter inhumanity of threatening to reverse the steady progress toward equality.

Obamacare isn’t single-payer health care. But it has began the transformation of America’s health care system we so desperately need, given the fact we continually pay more for worse results than any country in the world.

And the results of these imperfect reforms have been spectacular, especially given the extraordinary resistance they’ve faced from Republicans: 20 million Americans have gained coverage, health costs are now predicted to be $2.6 trillion lower than they were before the ACA became law, and consumers are getting better coverage for less money.

Most important, the law has strengthened the social safety net by reimbursing hospitals for coverage they’re obligated by law to offer anyway.

Yet many Republicans widely regard Obamacare not just as something they hate because it has personally inconvenienced them, but as an abomination that is a greater failure than the Iraq War, Katrina, and Scott Baio’s singing career combined — which brings us to what the president likely regards as the greatest failure of his presidency.

He wanted to bring us together, yet we’ve become more and more polarized.

The division in America isn’t based on the two parties. It’s a continental divide connected by a mostly frozen sea. And we see that in the two nominees the parties are running for president, who are aren’t just hated by members of the other party, but despised by them, like mosquitos carrying Zika and audit letters from the IRS.

PPP Polling finds “74 percent of Trump voters think Clinton should be in prison, to only 12 percent who disagree. By a 66/22 margin they say Clinton is a bigger threat to the United States than Russia. And 33 percent think Clinton even has ties to Lucifer, to 36 percent who say they don’t think so, and 31 percent who are unsure either way.”

Is this Obama’s fault?

Did he start a conservative news channel 20 years ago right around the time the Republicans decided that they should impeach President Clinton over offenses similar to those or far worse than those committed by members of the Republican congressional leadership of the late 90s? Did he encourage that conservative news channel to help lie us into war? Did he tell them to give an open invitation to a reality TV clown whose only political qualification was that he was willing to ask the first black president for ID?

Could eight years of progress and soaring rhetoric fix that?

Probably not. Obama’s success has made them only more enraged, as rants about the unemployment rate, gas prices, the deficit, and Obamacare have been contradicted again and again by reality. The GOP base was left with nothing but white hot fire of their hatred for the man, the left, and the brown people they imagine have stolen their rightful legacy. So they nominated a birther.

And what did President Obama say to them on Wednesday night in Cleveland?

He didn’t attack them for empowering a man who has attacked his very identity. He appealed to their better angels.

He noted that what “we heard in Cleveland last week wasn’t particularly Republican – and it sure wasn’t conservative.” And his argument against Trump wasn’t personal, it was about the purest American value there is: “We don’t look to be ruled.”

We look to be led. And for eight years, President Obama has led us and we are greater for it.


Clinton Leads Trump By 6 Points After Democratic Confab: Reuters/Ipsos Poll

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton held a 6- percentage-point lead over Republican rival Donald Trump, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll with new wording that was released on Friday, the day after she formally accepted her party’s nomination for the Nov. 8 election.

Nearly 41 percent of likely voters favor Clinton, 35 percent favor Trump, and 25 percent picked “Other,” according to the new July 25-29 online poll of 1,043 likely voters, which overlapped with the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

The poll has a credibility interval of 4 percentage points.

The presidential tracking poll reflects a slight change of wording from previous surveys, replacing the “Neither/Other” option given to respondents with just “Other.” An internal review had found the word “Neither” has, at times, siphoned support away from one or the other candidate.

Former Secretary of State Clinton delivered an upbeat keynote address at the Democratic convention on Thursday night, as she became the first woman to accept the presidential nomination from a major party.

In the biggest speech of her more than 25-year-old career in the public eye, Clinton, 68, cast herself as a steady leader at a “moment of reckoning” for the country, and contrasted her character with what she described as Trump’s dangerous and volatile temperament.

Trump, a 70-year-old New York businessman and former reality TV show host who has never held political office, responded in a Twitter post late on Thursday that “Hillary’s vision is a borderless world where working people have no power, no jobs, no safety.”

Both candidates were on the campaign trail on Friday, kicking off what is expected to be a hotly contested general election battle.

A separate Reuters/Ipsos survey that provided respondents with the option to choose from Clinton, Trump, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, has Clinton and Trump tied at 37 percentage points.

Of the alternative party candidates, Johnson came in third with 5 percentage points, followed by Stein at 1 percentage point, according to the July 25-29 survey of 1,426 likely voters, which has a credibility interval of 3 percentage points.


Photo: Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton campaigns with vice presidential candidate Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) along with former president Bill Clinton at East High School in Youngstown, Ohio, July 30, 2016.  REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein