Thursday, February 23, 2017

Last Call For Bridge To Labor

Meanwhile, we know a bit more about Trump's quest for a new Labor Secretary, which is kind of difficult because rich CEOs are all terrible at convincing anyone they care about the guys making minimum wage.  It seems like Trump's next plan was simple: Pick a Republican who's such a loser, they'd jump at the chance.

President Trump offered New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie the job of Labor secretary after a lunch meeting last week, Politico reported on Wednesday. 
The offer came as the president’s previous labor secretary pick Andrew Puzder’s nomination was in jeopardy. He eventually withdrew from consideration, and Trump quickly tapped Alexander Acosta for the job. 
Christie, who backed Trump’s presidential bid early on, served as the head of the president’s transition team until November, when he was replaced by Vice President Mike Pence
Still, the New Jersey governor and onetime GOP presidential candidate has been the frequent subject of rumors that he could be tapped for a post in the Trump administration. 
In an interview with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly earlier this month, Christie said he was not offered a job in Trump’s administration that would have made him consider leaving his current post as governor. 
“The fact is that I wanted to be the governor of New Jersey, and if the president had offered me something that really was compelling me to get to Washington, I would have made the sacrifice to do it,” Christie said. 
And while he ultimately turned down the Labor secretary offer, that position was one of several jobs Trump has offered to Christie, according to Politico.

Actually, I'm fairly sure Christie my end up with a higher approval rating than Trump pretty soon. Go figure, even facing Bridgegate and a possible indictment and a GOP that hates him now, Christie still figures he's in a better position than Trump, at least good enough to turn the man down for a cabinet position.

Think about that.

Climate Of Disaster

Meanwhile, the worst flooding in a century in San Jose, CA has forced thousands out of their homes along the Coyote Creek.

Over the last two weeks, heavy rains pushed water levels at Santa Clara County’s largest reservoir into the danger zone, with officials warning it could overflow.

That happened over the weekend, sending massive amounts of water into the Coyote Creek, which runs through the heart of San Jose.

By Tuesday, the creek was overflowing at numerous locations, inundating neighborhoods, flooding hundreds of homes and forcing the frantic evacuations of more than 14,000 residents, who remained out of their homes Wednesday.

The worst flooding to hit Silicon Valley in a century left San Jose reeling and residents angry about why they were not given more warning that a disaster was imminent. Even city officials on Wednesday conceded they were caught off guard by the severity of the flooding and vowed a full investigation into what went wrong.

“If the first time a resident is aware that they need to get out of a home is when they see a firefighter in a boat, then clearly there has been a failure,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. “There is no question that we’ll need to do things differently next time.”

Late Wednesday, Assistant City Manager Dave Sykes said officials had learned that the information they had on the capacity of Coyote Creek channel was not accurate. He also said the city was working with the Santa Clara Valley Water District to determine whether debris caused blockages that contributed to flooding.

“The creek spilled over the banks faster and higher than anybody expected,” said city spokesman David Vossbrink.

Residents told harrowing stories of water flowing into homes and flooding streets. Many had to be rescued by boat. Some said they were surprised they did not get urgent warnings about the extent of the flooding.

“They didn’t say it was going to go up as high as it did,” said Louis Silva, 48. He said that his possessions were swallowed up in the flood and that the city should have warned people about the scale of the disaster with a cellphone text alert or by knocking on doors.

“They should’ve put the footwork in to show the urgency of the situation,” Silva said. “It hurt everyone. ... When Mother Nature shows up, she shows up.”

Dawn Rogers, 47, said she was in the mandatory evacuation zone but decided to hunker down instead of leave. She watched as firefighters took a boat down the street to rescue residents in homes that were flooded.

By 1 p.m. Tuesday, residents were rushing to fill up their cars with priceless valuables.

It was scary,” Rogers said. “Being in a drought for all these years, you don’t ever think you’re ever in danger of a flood.”

Remember, the problem with climate change isn't just long-term temperature increases, but the appearance of more extreme short-term weather events (like floods) and medium-term ones as well (like California's four-year drought) and the occurrence of these events more often and in a shorter time space.  Going from a 100-year drought to a 100-year flood is a really, really good example of this.

Expect to see a lot more of this in the near future, especially with this regime in charge.

The Criminalization Of Dissent Continues

Republicans aren't wasting any time in their legislative response to protesters around the country as the party has been saddled with the most unpopular regime in modern history.  Now the GOP is moving at the state level to criminalize these protests and in Arizona at least the goal is to seize all assets of anyone involved in assembly.

Claiming people are being paid to riot, Republican state senators voted Wednesday to give police new power to arrest anyone who is involved in a peaceful demonstration that may turn bad — even before anything actually happened.

SB1142 expands the state’s racketeering laws, now aimed at organized crime, to also include rioting. And it redefines what constitutes rioting to include actions that result in damage to the property of others.

But the real heart of the legislation is what Democrats say is the guilt by association — and giving the government the right to criminally prosecute and seize the assets of everyone who planned a protest and everyone who participated. And what’s worse, said Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, is that the person who may have broken a window, triggering the claim there was a riot, might actually not be a member of the group but someone from the other side.

Sen. Martin Quezada, D-Phoenix, acknowledged that sometimes what’s planned as a peaceful demonstration can go south.

“When people want to express themselves as a group during a time of turmoil, during a time of controversy, during a time of high emotions, that’s exactly when people gather as a community,’’ he said. “Sometimes they yell, sometimes they scream, sometimes they do go too far.’’

Quezada said, though, that everything that constitutes rioting already is a crime, ranging from assault to criminal damage, and those responsible can be individually prosecuted. He said the purpose of this bill appears to be designed to chill the First Amendment rights of people to decide to demonstrate in the first place for fear something could wrong.

Join a protest, get rung up on RICO charges if anyone so much as breaks a window...even if it was not anyone involved in the protest.  Republicans will not tolerate dissent, and they will use the power of the state to crush anyone who disagrees with them.

But Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said that chilling effect is aimed at a very specific group of protesters.

“You now have a situation where you have full-time, almost professional agent-provocateurs that attempt to create public disorder,’’ he said.

“A lot of them are ideologues, some of them are anarchists,’’ Kavanagh continued. “But this stuff is all planned.’’

There’s something else: By including rioting in racketeering laws, it actually permits police to arrest those who are planning events. And Kavanagh, a former police officer, said if there are organized groups, “I should certainly hope that our law enforcement people have some undercover people there.’’

Once again, the next step is to declare liberal protest groups and organizations like Black Lives Matter as terrorists and enemies of the state.  These are the laws that will be used to justify that the full power of the state be used to obliterate anyone who fails to bow to Trump the Tyrant.

These laws will be used against American citizens.  They will be spread to other states, and I would suspect they will be implemented as federal crimes as well, and soon.

We're moving very quickly into the authoritarian era of America.  My prediction that the next major Black Lives Matter protest in a red state will be met with overwhelming, lethal force is all but a guarantee at this point.

This is happening in real-time, guys. 


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Mitch The Turtle Gets Shelled

Sen. Mitch McConnell is definitely among the scores of Republicans running scared from constituents this week as people are showing up at town halls and other events to let the GOP know just how they feel about the Trump/Ryan plan to cut billions from Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security to give tax cuts to the rich.

But at a luncheon in Lawrenceburg yesterday, Mitch ran into the jet intake and got spit out into the wall going 200, maybe 250 MPH.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) got an earful from an angry constituent at a luncheon in Kentucky on Tuesday.

The exchange began innocently enough, with the woman saying she loved McConnell.

“Thank you,” he replied. “I needed that.”

But he wouldn’t thank her for what she said next.

The unidentified voter berated McConnell over jobs and health care, saying:

“The last I heard, these coal jobs are not coming back and now these people don’t have the insurance they need because they’re poor. And they work those coal mines, and they’re sick, the veterans are sick, the veterans are broken down, they’re not getting what they need.”

And that's true.  Mitch was not prepared for it.  And if people are confronting him, in Kentucky, and he's not even up for re-election until 2020?  Suddenly Republicans really are in trouble at home, guys. Things are moving pretty fast.  People are figuring out that Trump will never be able to keep all his promises, and there's going to be hell to pay.

Democrats found out the hard way in 2010 that this can happen.  I'm hoping Republicans get crushed by this next year.

We'll see.

No Sanctuary In The Cities

A new Harvard-Harris Poll finds that four out of five Americans want sanctuary cities to go.

An overwhelming majority of Americans believe that cities that arrest illegal immigrants for crimes should be required to turn them over to federal authorities.

The poll shows that President Trump has broad public support in his effort to crack down on sanctuary cities.

A survey from Harvard–Harris Poll provided exclusively to The Hill found that 80 percent of voters say local authorities should have to comply with the law by reporting to federal agents the illegal immigrants they come into contact with.As it stands, hundreds of cities across the nation — many with Democratic mayors or city councils — are refusing to do so.

Trump has signed an executive order directing Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to find ways to starve these sanctuary cities of federal funding. A Reuters analysis found the top 10 sanctuary cities in the U.S. receive $2.27 billion in federal funding for programs ranging from public health services to early childhood education.

Kelly is expected to hire thousands of new immigration enforcement agents with broad authority to detain and deport those in the country illegally, potentially setting up a showdown between the federal government and sanctuary cities.

The Harvard–Harris Poll survey found strong support for an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws, with 77 percent saying they support comprehensive immigration reform against only 23 percent who oppose.

“While there is broad support for comprehensive immigration reform, there is overwhelming opposition to sanctuary cities,” said Harvard–Harris co-director Mark Penn. “The public wants honest immigrants treated fairly and those who commit crimes deported and that's very clear from the data.”

Both the Dubya and Obama administrations looked the other way on sanctuary cities because it was an ugly fight that they considered to not be worth it.  The Trump regime on the other hand is happy to pick this fight, and it's a fight that these cities are going to lose.  Cutting billions in federal grants to these cities will have a major effect, and while that 80% number may go down as a result, it's still a losing fight.  The Constitution's Supremacy Clause makes the legal picture very clear here, and as a result Miami has already thrown in the towel. I expect several other cities will follow suit when it becomes evident that Trump really will cut funding to programs to punish cities.

Los Angeles and New York City will probably hold out longer than most, there's ample reason to believe blue states will work to make up additional state funding for cut programs, but that's not going to be an option in states like Florida, Texas, or Ohio.

We'll see how long this takes, but if 80% of Americans really are against sanctuary cities, then it's only a matter of time.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Last Call For Deportation Nation, Con't

As I pointed out last night, the Trump regime has set the groundwork for mass deportations of millions of undocumented immigrants.

In other words, rather than previous administrations focusing on undocumented people with criminal records and those immediately caught crossing the border, nearly all undocumented immigrants in the US would be targeted for "removal" by Trump regime ICE. Just the crime of being an undocumented immigrant could be enough for deportation proceedings and removal, depending on what the new field guidance priorities are.

We now have these ICE field guidance directives, and they are just as bad as feared.

The Department of Homeland Security issued a sweeping set of orders Tuesday that implement President Trump's plan to increase immigration enforcement, placing the vast majority of the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants at risk of deportation. 
The memos instruct all agents, including Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to identify, capture and quickly deport every undocumented immigrant they encounter
The memos require undocumented immigrants caught entering the country to be placed in detention until their cases are resolved, increase the ability of local police to help in immigration enforcement, call for the hiring of 10,000 more immigration agents and allow planning to begin on an expansion of the border wall between the United States and Mexico. 
The memos make undocumented immigrants who have been convicted of a crime the highest priority for enforcement operations. But they make clear that ICE agents should also arrest and initiate deportation proceedings against any other undocumented immigrant they encounter
"Department personnel have full authority to arrest or apprehend an alien whom an immigration officers has probable cause to believe is in violation of the immigration laws," one memo read. "They also have full authority to initiate removal proceedings against any alien who is subject to removal under any provision of the (Immigration and Nationality Act)." 
A Homeland Security official who briefed reporters Tuesday said that deportation protections President Obama granted in 2012 to undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children will continue to be honored so long as those immigrants abide by the rules of the program. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss details of the memos.

So for now, DREAMers will be marginally "safe" under DACA.  This will not last long, I suspect.

Everyone else, as many as ten million, are now subject to arrest and deportation.  As I said last night, it's now only a matter of logistics.  It won't happen right away, but now the tools to start are in place.

Expect many, many more raids as ICE has been given carte blanche.  As I keep saying, those private deportation facilities don't make any money unless they are full.

Still The Same Old Trump Rallies

Author Jeb Lund went to Trump's rally in Melbourne, Florida over the weekend and found that Trump supporters are still happily riding the Trump Train, not seeming to mind the occasional missing hunk of track or BRIDGE OUT signs ahead.

If people told you that MAGA hats come 25 percent off when you look peevish and 50 percent off when you're already wearing a sneer, the line snaking out of the airport hangar and a quarter mile down S. Apollo Blvd. in Melbourne, Florida, and awaiting President Trump's first rally since his inauguration would have made you believe them. 
These are the wages of a campaign and an ideology of apocalyptic civilizational struggle: a pep rally that feels undergirded with dread, voters who dismiss leftists as "special snowflakes living in a bubble," gathering in an 83 percent white county that went for Trump by nearly 20 points, and pointing across the road at a few hundred protesters behind a net barrier, wondering whether an international Jewish financier has underwritten a special attack for Saturday afternoon.

Whitey Taylor—"it's not Blackie, it's Whitey," he clarified—hawked MAGA hats and Hillary For Prison shirts at 50 Trump rallies in 33 states during the campaign and was unconcerned about the stakes. A customer asked if he was worried about protester violence; as Taylor turned his face to look at the man, a little smirk embedded in the off-white beard and deep lines framing his nose and mouth. "I've got a 9mm. I don't worry about any of these people." 
The worry grew stronger down the road, where the line looked interminable and threatened to disappear into the gray that seems to swallow the horizon under the lowering sky of a Florida afternoon. Two retired women sat in folding canvas camping chairs, watching the line, waiting for the rest of their party to gather, certain the protesters across the road were paid by George Soros. 
"I think there's a good share of them," said Francis Gilmore, who'd moved down to Florida in the last decade. They were here to advance the Soros agenda. "You can go anywhere you want, do anything you want, live the way you want, say anything you want. No sort of control. They will control us." Soros was the bad kind of billionaire, not like the ones in Trump's cabinet, who "don't have to rob the money from us because they've got enough of their own." 
Her friend, who refused to give her name, agreed. "There are many others besides George Soros but George Soros is the biggie," she said. "All the braindeads suck in the false news, because they don't have the ability to read and get the proper information." The friend had gotten a lot of the hidden details from The Creature from Jekyll Island, a Federal Reserve conspiracy book written by an HIV/AIDS denialist who believes he knows the location of Noah's ark and can cure cancer with a poisonous plant extract. When asked where else she gets her news, she replied, "Mostly radio." 
Gilmore and The Nameless Friend agreed that the protesters represented an unprecedented rejection of the office of the president and an ahistorical breach of civility. 
A man with dusty clothes, gap teeth, and a tan darker than his sandy blonde hair walked by with a four-year-old girl on his shoulders. 
"Hey, who wants to kill an unborn baby?" he said, gesturing across the street. "All them are retards. That's some shit."

So yeah, this is Trump's America, endless fear and demonization of those people, hollow chest beating, and a shared sense of camaraderie through perceived victimization.  We're all in control of the country and those stupid libtard snowflakes, but they're coming for us and  at any point we may have to start shooting.

These folks are uninformed, but they vote.  They vote GOP.  And there's nothing Trump can do that would make them not vote for him, short of being nice to liberals.  This is what I mean by impeachment or removal of Trump through the 25th Amendment being a dangerous fantasy.

Democrats need to stop relying on it, they need to stop considering it, they need to find a way to deal with the damage Trump and the GOP are causing people in real time rather than wasting breath on something that will never happen.  And the reason it will never happen is that Republicans fear Whitey Taylor and Francis Gilmore infinitely more than they fear the rest of the country.  Until they turn on Trump, he's president.

And they will never, ever turn on him.  Dems need to stop chasing these folks and worry about the millions of Dem voters who are going to be wrecked by Trump policies.

Suddenly 60 In The Senate May Not Be In Play

The last key to total domination for the GOP at this point (after the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and replacing either Ginsberg, Breyer, or Kennedy with a second pick) is getting to 60 Senate seats in 2018.  

Most observers find that far more likely that the GOP will pick up the 8 seats it needs in a midterm election compared to the 3 Democrats would need to get to 51, given the map and that fact that Dems would have to flip at least one GOP Senate seat in a state that Trump won in 2016 by double digits, whereas Dems have to defend a whopping ten Senate seats in states that Trump won last November.

But part of rolling to that victory depends on recruiting, and a month into the Trump regime, Republicans, with the best shot they've had in decades at 60 seats, are suddenly having a lot of trouble finding people to run against these supposedly vulnerable Dems.

The 2018 Senate cycle presents Republicans with a host of opportunities, but the party has already lost several top-tier candidates to fill the seats.

GOP Reps. Sean Duffy (Wis.) and Pat Meehan (Pa.) both recently announced that they’ll run for reelection instead of mounting Senate runs in blue-leaning states where President Trump pulled off upset victories.

Republicans are losing out on potential challengers in safely GOP states, too. Indiana Rep. Susan Brooks ruled out a run. Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke will likely be confirmed to lead the Interior Department, taking a top competitor out of the mix in that deep red state.

“The House [members] are generally pretty politically savvy people,” said Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a politics website that handicaps elections. “They know midterms are often—not always—bad for the president's party.”

“Trump is off to a historically weak start in terms of his approval. …You got a lot of members of the House who are in relatively safe seats. Maybe they’re making the determination that this might not best year to run for Senate.”

While a few star GOP contenders have bowed out, Republicans are shrugging it off. They point to a deep bench of other credible candidates who they believe are just as capable of taking on vulnerable Democrats.

Republicans argue that it’s too early to tell whether Trump’s performance or midterm election dynamics are impacting House members’ decisions against Senate bids. While the first few weeks of his administration have been chaotic, they say voters in states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin may view the president differently than those within the Beltway.

“It’s kind of hard to see the ‘this caused that,’ because what is “happening in the states is a lot different than what’s happening in our view,” said a national Republican operative.

If Republicans are getting cold feet this early in the 2018 cycle, it must mean that they're scared. Republicans have destroyed Democrats in midterms the 2010 and 2014, and that was before the help of new voter suppression laws that went into effect for 2016.

Republicans should be lining up to pick off supposedly doomed Dems like Jon Tester, Joe Donnelly, and Claire McCaskill.  But they're not.

Suddenly Trump's sub-40% and sinking approval rating in just 30 days is looking like a distinct liability.

Maybe there's a small hope for Democrats after all.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Last Call For Deportation Nation, Con't

Greg Sargent notes that because the Trump regime has full control over enforcement of existing immigration laws, the damage Trump can do without Congress lifting a finger is immense.  Those new enforcement directives are coming, and it's looking very much like mass deportations of millions will be happening sooner rather than later.

Over the weekend, two memos signed by new Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly were leaked to the media, revealing plans to dramatically expand the pool of undocumented immigrants who will be targeted for deportation under President Trump. Though the memos are not yet official policy, they suggest Trump’s vow of mass deportations could, in some form, soon become a reality.

But buried in the memos is a separate provision that is worthy of attention on its own. That provision, immigration lawyers tell me, raises the possibility that under Trump, enforcement officers will have an easier time than under President Obama of arresting undocumented immigrants who are in schools or hospitals or are seeking sanctuary in churches.

This would be politically explosive if it came to pass, and a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security just told me that the Obama-era protection of people in such venues will remain in place.

But immigration and civil rights lawyers tell me they still want to see a much firmer assurance to this effect once DHS formally announces the new deportation policies. And they say fears are already circulating in immigration communities that these protections will not meaningfully exist under Trump.

The worry arises from a line in one of the newly leaked memos stating that “all existing” Homeland Security “memoranda or field guidance” regarding enforcement “are hereby immediately rescinded,” with a few exceptions. What this means is that the Obama DHS memos implementing his enforcement priorities — in which longtime residents and low-level offenders were deprioritized for removal, focusing enforcement resources on criminals and recent border-crossers — are getting scrapped. This is in keeping with Trump’s recently released executive order doing the same and is the basis for the belief that a much bigger pool of undocumented immigrants will now be targeted for removal, meaning mass deportations are coming.
In other words, rather than previous administrations focusing on undocumented people with criminal records and those immediately caught crossing the border, nearly all undocumented immigrants in the US would be targeted for "removal" by Trump regime ICE.  Just the crime of being an undocumented immigrant could be enough for deportation proceedings and removal, depending on what the new field guidance priorities are.

The only thing keeping this from happening is logistics at this point.  Rounding up millions is going to take resources, it's too big of a job to just snap your fingers and do.  But hey, scaring the crap out of existing undocumented folks so that they maybe self-deport?  That only helps the Trump regime.

We'll see what happens, but the pieces are continuing to be put into place.

A Bit Of A Diplomatic Incident

I'm not 100% what to make of this, but the timing outright sucks.

Russian officials said Vitaly Churkin, its ambassador to the United Nations, died suddenly in New York City on Monday.

Russia's deputy U.N. ambassador, Vladimir Safronkov, told the Associated Press that the 64-year-old Churkin became ill in his office at Russia's U.N. mission and was taken to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, where he died. His cause of death wasn't immediately known.

Churkin has been Russia's envoy at the United Nations for a little over a decade and was considered Moscow's great champion at the U.N.

He had a reputation for an acute wit and sharp repartee especially with his American and Western counterparts. He was previously ambassador at large and earlier served as the foreign ministry spokesman.

Yeah, that's right, the Russian Ambassador to the UN has keeled over and kicked the vodka bottle, and given the tension right now this isn't a good thing.  I'm truly hoping no foul play was involved, because at this point there's way too many questions about Russians keeling over whenever Putin's involved.

Who knows.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

Josh Marshall points out the Sater-day Night Massacre over the weekend in the Trump regime/Russia story (emphasis mine:)

I don't know how much attention it's received. But the appearance of the name of Felix Sater in this new article in the Times is one of the biggest shoes I've seen drop on the Trump story in some time.

The new story explains that a group of Trump operatives, including top lawyer Michael Cohen and fired former campaign manager Paul Manafort, along with a pro-Putin Ukrainian parliamentarian named Andrii V. Artemenko and Mr. Sater are pushing President Trump on a 'peace plan' for Russia and Ukraine.

Cohen recently met with Sater and Artemenko; and Cohen agreed to personally deliver the peace plan (actually a sealed envelope with documents detailing it) to the President when he met with him at the White House. Cohen says he left it with General Flynn days before Flynn was forced to resign.

The backstory to all this is amazingly byzantine and murky. Let me try to cover the key points as simply as I can.

Having spent some time studying the matter, the biggest red flags about Donald Trump's ties to Russia and businessmen around Vladimir Putin have always been tied to the Trump SoHo building project in Lower Manhattan, from the first decade of this century. I base my knowledge of this on this rather cursory but still quite good April 2016 article from the Times and my own limited snooping around the Outer Boroughs Russian and Ukrainian emigre press. (I summarized the most salient details of the earlier Times article in Item #3 of this post.) This was a key project, perhaps the key project in the post-bankruptcy era in which Trump appeared heavily reliant on Russian funds to finance his projects. Sater was at the center of that project. The details only came to light after the project got bogged down in a complicated series of lawsuits.
After the lawyers got involved, Trump said he barely knew who Sater was. But there is voluminous evidence that Sater, a Russian emigrant, was key to channeling Russian capital to Trump for years. Sater is also a multiple felon and at least a one-time FBI informant. Bayrock Capital, where he worked was located in Trump Tower and he himself worked as a special advisor to Trump. Again, read the Times article to get a flavor of his ties to Trump, the Trump SoHo project and Russia. For my money there's no better place to start to understand the Trump/Russia issue.

On its own, Trump's relationship with Sater might be written off (albeit not terribly plausibly) as simply a sleazy relationship Trump entered into to get access to capital he needed to finance his projects. Whatever shadowy ties Sater might have and whatever his criminal background, Trump has long since washed his hands of him. (Again, we're talking about most generous reads here.)

But now we learn that Sater is still very much in the Trump orbit and acting as a go-between linking Trump and a pro-Putin Ukrainian parliamentarian pitching 'peace plans' for settling the dispute between Russia and Ukraine. (Artemenko is part of the political faction which Manafort helped build up in the aftermath of the ouster of his Ukrainian benefactor, deposed President Viktor Yanukovych.) Indeed, far, far more important, Cohen - who is very close to Trump and known for dealing with delicate matters - is in contact with Sater and hand delivering political and policy plans from him to the President.

Were Cohen not involved, one might speculate that Sater is just up to yet another hustle, looking to parlay his one-time association with Trump into influence with the new President. Cohen hand delivering his messages to the President changes the picture considerably. How or why Cohen would do this, if for no other reason than the current massive scrutiny of Trump's ties to Russia and Sater's scandals, almost defies belief. But here we are.

So yet another player in the Trump regime, definitely sleazy, definitely a felon, definitely still working for The Donald, definitely still making deals with foreign nationals.  Doug J at Balloon Juice says it's all just too much for our broken media to handle.

I hate to keep beating this horse, but I’m wondering if maybe the Trump-Russia story is one of those things that establishment media just isn’t set up to cover. I don’t mean that they can’t cover individual pieces of the story but that they aren’t able to put it all together. I had the same feeling when Josh Marshall was breaking the Bush US Attorney story, which was also ignored by establishment media. I guess some stories have too many moving parts and say things that are too negative about powerful people for establishment media to handle.

We have an “All The President’s Men” press corps but we’re living in a “Chinatown” world.

Like people keep saying, your FOX-watching racist uncle knows nothing about Carter Page, Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen, Felix Sater, or Steve Bannon.  He knows that Hillary Clinton is a bitch though, and he knows the reason why he lost his job at the plant ten years ago is the fault of those goddamn liberals, because that's what he's been told daily for ten years. He doesn't give a damn about what Trump does as long as he brings the jobs back and gets rid of Muslims and Mexicans and Black Lives Matter.

The rest, well who cares, right?


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