Top of the Morning: Donnie Deutsch, Orin Hatch, Trump, Lanny Davis, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort

On Morning Joe, Donnie Deutsch once again put forward the “if your boss tells you to do it” defense of Michael Cohen.  Seriously?  If your boss tells you to commit a crime (and you’re a f…ing lawyer) you just do it and everybody is supposed to feel sorry for you?  I don’t think so.  What a pathetic excuse of an argument.  It’s almost as bad as Lanny Davis trying to make us believe that Cohen had a moral awakening when he saw Trump bow down to Putin in Helsinki.  

Just after both Manafort and Cohen became felons, and Cohen stipulated before a judge that the President of the United States directed him to commit a crime, Orin Hatch (whose use of oxygen is morally repugnant) offered the excuse that Trump was a better person now then he was in the past.  Orin Hatch is certainly not a better person.  Least we forget, Hatch not only behaved like a self-righteous jerk in the Clarence Thomas hearings, (please watch this choice clip:, 19 years afterward, he publicly called for Anita Hill to APOLOGIZE to the Thomas and his wife.

Mitch McConnel just refused to answer questions about Trump’s behavior, and went back to packing the judiciary with right-wing political activists.

In an interview with Fox News, Trump asserted:

“I’ll tell you what, if I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash,” he said. “I think everybody would be very poor because without this thinking, you would see numbers that you wouldn’t believe.”

Oh, and Trump was up tweeting at 1 AM.

It’s not even noon.

Top of the Morning: Jury Deliberations for Paul Manafort

Another day of jury deliberations in the Paul Manafort trial.  I can hardly sleep for worrying about the outcome.

I keep thinking about the O.J. Simpson case, another case in which the evidence was overwhelming and the guilty walked free.  I think about the case of the young woman in Florida who clearly killed her child and the jury let her walk free.

And, the jury in the Paul Manafort case requested that a birthday cake be brought in to the courthouse for one of the jurors last week.  Not a good sign.  Are adults really this silly?

They’re deliberating the case of a man who, if convicted, may spend the rest of his life in prison and someone has to have a birthday cake in the middle of it?  They are deliberating in a case where the judge has had death threats.  But, somebody has to have a birthday cake.  They are deliberating case that may well dramatically affect the trajectory and the reception of anything the Mueller probe comes up with.  This is a case that will, whatever the outcome, affect the shape of democracy in this country.  But, somebody has to have a birthday cake?  And, no other juror or court official told them to fuck themselves.  I don’t get it.  Why would a juror’s birthday even come up?  Why would a juror’s birthday even be discussed, let alone discussed to the extent of arranging for the purchase and delivery of a cake.  Are we this trivial and self-obsessed.  Well, yes.

And, another thing about the Manafort case that is keeping me up at night is that (talk about trivial and self-obsessed) judge.  Why is he being allowed to intervene in the trial on the behalf of the defense over and over again?

If the prosecution loses because of the influence of the judge on the jury, they don’t get a second chance.  If it were the other way around, if the judge was making prejudicial statements against the defense, they could appeal.  The prosecution is just out of luck.  We are out of luck.

And, again, not to be outdone in the area of triviality and self-obsession, cable news people are doing interview after interview with people who have trial and legal experience who act like this behavior on the part of the judge is just a display of mildly amusing cantankerous antics, not unusual in a trial.  Well, if it’s not unusual, it should be.  No judge should be allowed to behave like this.  It’s unprofessional to say the least.

Sometimes I think the media and the legal professionals have such an investment in maintaining the party line that the legal system is unbiased and based solely on facts, they won’t admit what’s in front of their faces.  This is not behavior characteristic of an unbiased and professional court system.  If the guy can’t control his ego, he shouldn’t be on the bench.  We have got to stop allowing people with power to behave in any way they chose.

O.K.  Finally, about the Manafort Case: I would really like to know why the Russian woman (who it appears to me at least slept with every Republican in Washington) has been moved to the same jail as Paul Manafort.  What’s that about?  I would really love to hear any information anyone has about this.

It’s just Monday.



It’s a Crime: Trump and the Security Clearances


“It borders on scandalous how the media treats what Trump did to Brennan—and now implies he’ll shortly do to others—a *political* move. In fact, these are *witnesses against him in a federal case*—and he’s trying to intimidate and silence them. This is a *crime*. RT if you agree.”

Seth Abrahamson on Twitter


Look Who’s Talking and What They’re Saying: Thursday



Yesterday was a particularly bad morning.

A number of media outlets decided to publish editorials reminding their readers of the Constitutionally secured status of the media as part of a democratic society.  It is ridiculous that they even had to do this.  It is ridiculous that in an advanced industrialized country the media had to remind people (or tell them for the first time) that independent journalism is a guarantor of individual rights.  Without journalism, information, we have no way of controlling government, corporations, the powerful, anything.

But, media anchors in covering this story yesterday were seriously asking other media representatives if the defense of this constitutional right was “counterproductive” because it “feeds into” Trump’s narrative that the media is the enemy of the people.  WHAT?  I SAID WHAT?  The argument is that one shouldn’t say what is obviously true for fear of provoking a reaction by liars and charlatans?

How can intellectually functioning adults sit on a set and ask questions like this?  Do they not even think through what they are saying on national television?

O.K. Next.  Donald Trump takes away the security clearance from John Brennan to signal that anyone, especially those in the intelligence community, opposing his policies, questioning his actions, or speaking out against him will be punished.  He has already made sure that the careers of Justice Department officials who might testify against him, have have been seriously affected, if not destroyed.  This is the behavior of a autocrat – using the government to destroy anyone who opposes him.

There is no doubt that this is what he is doing.  He even admitted it before the day was out.  The direction here is crystal clear.  Omarosa herself once said in an interview with NPR that the Trump presidency was about making people bow down, everybody who had ever questioned, challenged, or criticized Trump.  Stephen Miller said on national television that no one was allowed to question Trump.

If you have half a brain you can look at the actions of this administration and see that Trump and the Republican party are advancing a coup, a slow coup, but a coup.  They are installing one-party government, a kleptocracy with dictatorial powers, run for the benefit of a few wealthy individuals.  And it has to be stopped.

But, the discussion on morning cable news yesterday was not about Trump’s clear use of the federal government to destroy his enemies, about the serious implications this has for a democracy.  The narrative was actually about John Brennan’s behavior, whether Brennan “crossed a line” or whether he was “too political.”  His motives were even called “impure” by Noah Rothman in a weird kind of rationalization where he both argued that Brennan was at fault and that Trump’s action was abuse of power.

But, damn it, JOHN BRENNAN IS NOT THE ISSUE.  This is not about what John Brennan has done or said, it is about TRYING TO SILENCE and INTIMIDATE OPPOSITION.  If they can do it to John Brennan, who is next?

But, the Cable news media never disappoints when it comes to trivializing every event.  The conservative wimp-ass line started (at least for me) Thursday night with Elise Jordan, who I have no doubt is decent enough personally.  She was vociferously arguing with Katy Tur that Brennan shouldn’t have a security clearance anyway.  Jordan argued that Brennan didn’t need a security clearance because the administration wouldn’t rely on his advice.  He had, according to Jordan, clearly made himself objectionable to the administration.  In her mind, Brennan deserved to have had his security clearance taken away.


Whether Brennan should or shouldn’t have a security clearance isn’t the point.  The goddamn point is that Trump took the security clearance away to punish him for speech, and to intimidate other speech.  This is a dangerous path, an extremely dangerous path.

Fortunately, the discussion Thursday night was a little better, but this morning, on MSNBC, the head of Axios was advancing a truly strange argument that Trump was not trying to silence speech, he was actually attempting to elevate Brennan, to make him more important.  Trump himself then picked up this argument on the White House lawn talking to reporters.  I have no idea what the guy from Axois wasbrennan arguing.

Trump and the Republican party are clearly moving to install one-party rule in this country and it’s not going to be nice.  As someone else said today, there’s nothing I would put past them in pursuing this goal.







Jimmy Carter: Democracy, “…a great deal more to sell.”

Jimmy Carter

This is a quote from an interview done by Thom Hartman in 2015. Hartman asked Carter about Citizens United.

“It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it’s just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or being elected president. And the same thing applies to governors, and U.S. Senators and congress members. So, now we’ve just seen a subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect, and sometimes get, favors for themselves after the election is over. … At the present time the incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody that is already in Congress has a great deal more to sell.” Jimmy Carter. Zuesse, Eric (8/3/15) Jimmy Carter is correct that the U.S. is no longer a democracy.” Huffington Post.

See the entire article:


Your Republican Party at Work for You: Chris Collins

Chris collins official photo

Chris Collins (D) New York.

Chris Collins was arrested last week for passing along insider information related to stock he and his family owned.  The information he passed along was that a clinical trial of the drug the company produced had failed and the stock was going to plummet.  Collins was warning his family to sell quickly before the information became public.

One of the reporters who broke the story said that this was a classic “pump and dump scheme.”  Most of the coverage, however, has centered around the “dump” part of the scene, that is, the getting rid of the stock before the price tanked.

According to Investopedia, a “Pump and Dump” scheme is a “scheme that attempts to boost the price of a stock through recommendations based on false, misleading or really exaggerated statements.  The perpetrators of this scheme, who already have an established position in the company’s stock, sell their positions after the hype has led to a higher share price.  This practice is illegal based on securities law and can lead to heavy fines.”

Pump and Dump schemes usually involve what are called “micro’ and small-cap stocks, since they are the easy to manipulate.  It only requires a few buyers to push a stock higher.

According to Invesopedia: “Through huge volume selling, they pump up the price of the stock.  Once the selling volume reaches critical mass with no more buyers, the firm dumps its shares for a huge profit.  This drives the stock price down, often below the original selling price, resulting in huge losses for the customers because they can not sell their shares in time.

This can be done by anybody who has access to an online trading account and “the ability to convince other investors to buy a stock that is supposedly ready to take off.”  The schemer buys heavily into a stock that trades on low volume which pumps up the price.

The stock is usually promoted as a “hot tip” or “the next big thing” with details of an upcoming news announcement that will “send the stock through the roof”. The details of each individual pump and dump scam tend to be different but the scheme always boils down to a basic principal: shifting supply and demand. Pump and dump scams tend to only work on small and micro-cap stocks that are traded over the counter. These companies tend to be highly liquid and can have sharp price movements when volume increases. The group behind the scam increases the demand and trading volume in the stock and this new inflow of investors leads to a sharp rise in its price. Once the price rise has formulated, the group will sell their position to make a large short-term gain.

(Two movies use the pump and dump schemes as a central theme: The wolf of Wall Street and Boiler room.)


There’s a World Out There: Colombia


Gustavo Petro won over 41% of the vote in Colombia’s most recent presidential election.  This was called by Miguel Salazar of the Nation Magazine, “an unprecented electoral feat for Colombia’s left after decades of isolation and political assassinations – his candidacy became the most successful leftist campaign in modern Colombian history.”

“There is no defeat here,” Petro tweeted shortly after the election results were announced.

But, the election of Ivan Duque, the candidate hand-picked by former President Alvaro Uribe and described by some as a political nobody a short time ago, is no cause for celebration.  Duque, according to Salazar, “…supports a return to harsher measures for combating drug production and consumption in Colombia, including the recriminalization of minor drug offenses and a return to aerial spraying of coca crops, a hazardous practice that was halted under president Santos despite pressure from Washington. Over the past few months, Duque has also supported partnerships between the private sector and the government’s educational branch, and he has vowed to continue the mining and oil drilling operations that have contributed to global warming and perpetuated violence across the country. He’s allied with ultra-conservative politicians such as Alejandro Ordoñez, a former seminarian who opposes LGBT rights, and Marta Lucía Ramírez, a staunch opponent of women’s reproductive rights who will serve as the first female vice president in Colombian history.”

The election of Duque demonstrates once again the strength of Colombia’s conservative elite.

“Politically, Iván Duque is a nobody,” said Sandra Borda, a political scientist at Los Andes University in Bogotá and quoted by Salazar. “He owes every single vote to (former president) Álvaro Uribe.”

See:  Salazar, Miguel (6/20/18) Once again, the right wing wins in Colombia, Amid divisions on the left.  The Nation Magazine.








Chris Collins: Indictment

Chris collins official photo

You can read the full indictment of Chris Collins and his co-defendants.

As Richard Painter tweeted this morning: You can either be a public servant or you can play the stock market.  You can’t do both.  We must have laws that prevent those in public service from profiting off their positions.  Donald Trump and his family are primary offenders.