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February 20, 2019

Hal Brown blog late Feb. 2019

This blog contains links to my Capitol Hill Blue columns plus selected news items of the day. 


Breaking news:
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Update 02/26/19 7PM EST

“A bad deal for the United States”: top South Korean official , Moon Chung-in, a special adviser for foreign affairs and national security to South Korea’s president slams proposed Trump-Kim pact – VOX

proposed agreement for President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to sign during their Vietnam summit this week “is a bad deal for the United States.”
That’s not the view of a cynical expert, or a Democrat. It’s the view of a top national security adviser to South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

For one of his (S. Korean Pres. Moon Jae-in) top advisers to trash the proposed agreement is more than surprising, because it could drive a major wedge between US negotiators and their South Korean counterparts. That matters for the North Korea talks as the South Koreans have proven to be important conduits in certain diplomatic moments.

Still, a top adviser of a critical ally in the US-North Korea talks just trashed the general outline of what Trump and Kim may sign in two days. And if South Korea isn’t happy, it’s possible Trump’s negotiators may have to scramble to either satisfy their ally or change the proposed deal altogether. 
The original image is below
I made this and put it on before Russian Foreign
Minister Lavrov showed up in Hanoi and I had to
update the column.
“The attempt to develop a sense of humor and to see things in a humorous light is some kind of a trick learned while mastering the art of living.”

 “It is well known that humor, more than anything else in the human make-up, can afford an aloofness and an ability to rise above any situation, even if only for a few seconds.”
― Viktor Emil Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning

 click to enlarge images

Click images to enlarge (learning to use my new photo editing software)

New: Why not to waste your time watching CNN why to stick with MSNBC or PBS

Science and Nature


President Donald Trump—who boasted over the weekend that his success in life was a result of “being, like, really smart”—communicates at the lowest grade level of the last 15 presidents, according to a new analysis of the speech patterns of presidents going back to Herbert Hoover.
The analysis assessed the first 30,000 words each president spoke in office, and ranked them on the Flesch-Kincaid grade level scale and more than two dozen other common tests analyzing English-language difficulty levels. Trump clocked in around mid-fourth grade, the worst since Harry Truman, who spoke at nearly a sixth-grade level.
At the top of the list were Hoover and Jimmy Carter, who were basically at an 11th-grade level, and President Barack Obama, in third place with a high ninth-grade level of communicating with the American people.


We Have Finally Normalized Trumpism

This is the sad state of conservatism in the Trump era: You can either have your dignity but no influence or relevance, or you can keep your dignity and hit the pavement.

Donald Trump has signaled to his inner circle that even he knows Special Counsel Robert Mueller finishing his investigation will be a new beginning, not a dramatic end, for Trumpworld’s eclectic legal hellscape.

The president made clear to his outside legal team, which includes Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow, that he didn’t want his lawyers going anywhere—even after the Mueller probe ends. The conversations served as a private admission that federal investigations bedeviling his first term in office will be haunting him for possibly years to come.

The president broached the topic of keeping his team together starting late last year, according to two sources familiar with the exchanges, by discussing other legal woes he might face after the Special Counsel’s Office submits its report to the Department of Justice.

A little bit of Dana Milbank from Trump is the best thing since sliced bread. And he invented sliced bread! on Trump planning July Fourth celebration.

  • “We will be having one of the biggest meteorological phenomena in the history of Washington, D.C., at 6:45 am tomorrow. It will be called ‘Sunrise.’ ”
  • By reelection time, he will have given Americans indoor plumbing, ice cream and Christmas.
  • He gave himself props for the “safest year on record” in aviation in 2017, even though no U.S. airline had had a fatality since 2009. And he claimed credit for inventing the 19th-century economic phrase “prime the pump.” This would appear to be a pure example of “fake news” — a phrase for which Trump has also awarded himself authorship.
  • “How about the word ‘caravan?’ ” he said at a rally last week. “ ‘Caravan.’ I think that was one of mine.” The Post’s JM Rieger, who traced the origin of “caravan” to 1588, observed that Trump has also awarded himself credit for, among other things, a veterans’ health-care law enacted in 2014.
  • And as Congress blocked his border wall, Trump claimed credit for segments of wall built years ago. “A lot of the wall is built,” he announced.
  • And that wall is the greatest thing since sliced bread — which, it so happens, Trump also invented.

Trump's inner circle might escape Mueller charges — but still won’t be safe

Several sources close to Trump’s White House say the real threat is not Mueller’s examination of potential collusion between Trump associates and Russia in the 2016 campaign.

Instead, they fret that people around the president could get indicted for misleading lawmakers — one of the key charges that Mueller recently lodged against longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr told CBS earlier this month that his panel during the course of its two-year Russia investigation had “not been shy” in referring people to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution. The House Intelligence Committee recently voted to send more than 50 of its transcripts to Mueller.

“These guys took the whole Congress thing way too lightly. They didn’t understand [members and aides] actually listen, take notes and record this shit,” said a senior Republican official in regular touch with the White House. “I think they all took it way too nonchalantly and didn’t think it matters — and boy does it.”

“If you lie in a sworn deposition to Congress or anybody else then you should be worried. That’s how people go to jail,” added Barry Bennett, a former Trump 2016 campaign adviser.

Feb. 25, 2019
Link to story above
I don't write the titles for my columns, the editor does. This is standard practice in newspapers and online. Doug Thompson, CHB editor and publisher is an old newspaper pro so he writes headlines far better than I do. HUFFPOST consistently has some of the best front page titles. Generally, the title on the main HUFFPOST page is different than the title on the story as is the case in the "Grab 'em pres accused again" story. As far as print newspapers the NY Daily News is the best for front pages. Here are their Donald Trump front pages.

More about the woman now suing the president who says Trump forcibly kissed her.

These quotes are in a Forbes article about Roger Stone, but apply to Trump as well:

Gaslighters/narcissists are some of the most predictable people, especially when they perceive they've been wronged.  Roger Stone posted an Instagram photo of Judge Amy Berman Jackson next to an image of crosshairs.What's one of the most effective ways to handle a gaslighter/narcissist? After Stone's Instagram post, Judge Jackson ordered Stone to not speak publicly or write about the investigation or case against him.....

 Why is this type of punishment so effective for a gaslighter/narcissist?  Because gaslighters/narcissists live off attention.  They find power in whipping people into a frenzy, particularly after posting something provocative on social media.  Never before has a gaslighter/narcissist been able to transmit a message of perceived persecution or accusations so quickly. For example, look at the frenzy President Trump causes every time he posts on Twitter. Trump's tweets are so effective at riling people up and distracting them that they are helping Twitter's bottom line.

Gaslighters/narcissists know exactly what they are doing when they post incendiary comments and photos on social media. 

Rod Rosenstein drops mysterious hints about the possible release of a Mueller report

Feb. 24, 2019

House Democrats To Subpoena Mueller If Report Isn’t Made Public, Says Adam Schiff

‘There Is A Pathological Symbiosis Between Donald Trump And His Supporters,’ Says Psychiatrist

Click above to read comments

What ICE should be doing

Much of the media focus of the Florida sex trafficking raid and arrests has been generated by the fact that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft (who Trump feels sympathy for) was arrested. What struck me in the NY Times article ‘The Monsters Are the Men’: Inside a Thriving Sex Trafficking Trade in Florida was this one sentence: "Sheriff Snyder said investigators, who worked with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, estimated the trafficking ring to be a $20 million international operation." This is the kind of serious law enforcement ICE should be doing, also known as real police work, instead of harassing people who are guilty of at most misdemeanors. 

Feb. 23, 2019
Today's column:

Dept of It Isn't Always Doom and Gloom: Federal Judge Shuts Down Trump Administration’s Discrimination Against Children of Same-Sex Couples

Trump's wall prototypes to come down along U.S.-Mexico border: Too bad. I thought they'd be saved for the "Trump presidential library" - a name that is an oxymoron for a moron president.

Border Patrol Agent Theron Francisco said Friday it isn't clear when the prototypes will come down but added that the money has already been set aside for their removal.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Friday they cost between $300,000 and $500,000 apiece to build.
"There is money already allocated to either take them down or build infrastructure around them. But the decision has been made at the national level to take them down, and the secondary replacement project will take their place," Francisco said.

Abortion supporters are finally telling the truth — they don't want any restrictions by Rick Santorum, and my comment:

This is a modern faith-based belief. This is from HuffPost:

The Bible doesn’t talk about abortion, but it does say when a human being’s life begins.
Genesis 2:7 is clearest. The first human became a “living being” (nefesh hayah, “a living breath”) when God blew into its nostrils and it started to breathe. Human life begins when you start breathing, biblical writers thought. It ends when you stop. That’s why the Hebrew word often translated “spirit” (ruah) — “life force” might be a better translation — literally means “wind” or “breath.”

But what about babies in the womb? 

A few passages talk about someone called by God before birth: “The LORD called me from the womb. From the innermost parts of my mother, God named me ... and said to me, ‘You are my servant Israel, in whom I’ll be glorified” (Isaiah 49:1-3). 

Here, the one called is the nation Israel, not an individual. A nation of course can’t occupy a womb.
If you're like me you never heard R. Kelly sing.
He sounds like Michael Jackson.
Here's one of his most popular songs
Quote of the Day: 

In addressing the 1964 landmark First Amendment case which made it difficult for public figures to win libel cases Thomas wrote this:

"The constitutional libel rules adopted by this Court in New York Times and its progeny broke sharply from the common law of libel, and there are sound reasons to question whether the First and Fourteenth Amendments displaced this body of common law,” Clarence Thomas in his 14 page opinion saying Supreme Court should revisit landmark libel ruling. Progeny, of course, means offspring and he obviously means it pejoratively here. He probably was tempted to use the word "spawn." He apparently thinks all media descended from what Trump calls the "failing New York Times." Read more in The Hill 

He's in line with Trump who wants to curtail the freedom of the press. 

This week what did Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, and Heather Nauert all have in common?

Could this liberal North Carolina state court gerrymandering decision end up in the Supreme Court?

Feb. 22, 2019

Dershowitz: 25th can be used when president is psychiatrically incapacitated.

Someone should remind Alan Dershowitz that the 25th Amendment is in the Constitution for a reason which may apply to the current president, and that having Department of Justice officials discuss whether it may be applicable with a president who shows signs of being mentally unfit is legitimate.  He is saying on Fox News that if Rod Rosenstein and Andrew McCabe and other FBI officials removed President Donald Trump from office using the 25th Amendment it would be an attempt at an unconstitutional coup d’├ętat if they spoke to Cabinet members about it.

The Dershowitz column was featured on Dr. John D. Gartner's Duty2Warn Twitter page and was retweeted numerous times from there:


Department of Just Deserts:

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft charged with soliciting prostitution

Here's another: 

Of course this Trump supporting former Fox News psychiatrist who once said people would do well to emulate Donald Trump to achieve optimal mental health has to be considered innocent until proved guilty. Here’s a Daily Beast story from 2017:  Fox News’ Notorious Quack Dr. Keith Ablow Wants You to ‘Trump Your Life’It would be wrong to gloat over this breaking news: 

According to The Boston Globe, Keither Ablow allegedly “lured” the women into abusive relationships including “beatings, conversations about bondage, and, in one case, getting a tattoo of the doctor’s initials to show his ‘ownership’ of her. He began to hit me when we engaged in sexual activities,” one of the women claimed. “He would have me on my knees and begin to beat me with his hands on my breasts occasionally saying, ‘I own you,’ or ‘You are my slave.’” Ablow has denied all the allegations against him.

Great photo.

Dr. John Gartner, founder of the Duty to Warn group in a 46 minute podcast (audio) interview, explains in layman terms Donald Trump’s dangerous three part psychopathology.

Feb. 20, 2019 


Feb. 19, 2019

7 bombshells from the NYT’s devastating report of Trump’s ‘war’ on the investigations into him

In a new in-depth report Monday on Trump’s efforts to intimidate and defame the investigators, the New York Times documented many new and revealing details of this campaign. While some of the information has been made public before, its narrative account gives new life to both familiar and previously unknown facts that may one day provide the basis for an obstruction of justice charge against the president. Here are 7 key claims from the report. Click above to read details.
  • 1. Trump pressured Whitaker to install a crony to oversee the SDNY investigation.
  • 2. Attorneys for the president dangled pardons to both Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn.
  • 3. Even though Michael Flynn resigned voluntarily, Trump pushed the falsehood that he asked for Flynn’s resignation.
  • 4. White House lawyers warned about Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s spreading of misinformation.
  • 5. Trump claims Rod Rosenstein told him the Michael Cohen investigation had nothing to do with him.
  • 6. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and other Trump allies decided in July 2017 to actively undermine Mueller.
  • 7. Trump has gone after Mueller and the Russia investigation more than 1,100 times in public.

NOT IN MCCABE BOOK: Former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe said he briefed a bipartisan group of congressional leaders about the FBI’s counterintelligence operation into President Donald Trump in May 2017, and that none of them objected.
“No one objected — not on legal grounds, not on constitutional grounds, and not based on the facts,” he said Tuesday in an interview on NBC’s “Today,” ahead of the release of his book about his time at the FBI under Trump. 


On CNN Tuesday, national security expert Samantha Vinograd wondered if the investigation is still ongoing and what that could mean for potential Russian interference in US policy. 
“Is that investigation still ongoing? McCabe has said that the President’s moves to undercut investigations, to believe Vladimir Putin over his own intelligence officials, to make personnel decisions based on Russia related matters, all led to this investigation,” Vinograd observed. 
“McCabe would have laid that out before the Gang of Eight. But just in the past few days, the counterintelligence red flags are flying a lot higher than they did arguably than when this investigation was first launched,” she pointed out. 

“And that this investigation is continuing and there is still a chance that Vladimir Putin is controlling the White House.

“Four out of ten Americans are still okay with the lies every day, the racism every day,” Joe Scarborough today.

Feb. 18, 2019

This is what I added to my Feb. 16th story:

McCabe said Rosenstein raised the idea of using the 25th Amendment to remove Trump out of concern about the president’s “capacity and about his intent at that point in time.”

The key words, above, from a mental health perspective, are “capacity” and from the concern over President Trump’s loyalty, “intent.”
For once I agree with Lindsay Graham (on CBS “Face the Nation”):
Graham called the idea of invoking the 25th Amendment “beyond stunning.”
Indeed, the very idea that Trump’s psychological impairment might justify removal from office is beyond stunning. That there was evidence being taken seriously by experienced  intelligence experts to ponder taking such a step is staggering and mind-boggling.
Then, there’s this:

Trump insisted intelligence reports that North Korea had launched an ICBM were incorrect because Putin had told him that North Korea did not have that capability, the book says, per The Washington Post.

The most innocent explanation of this is that Trump does not have the judgment to think rationally about an issue vital to national security, that he took the word of the leader of a nation which is an adversary over his own intelligence experts. Is it any wonder that those aware of this were considering invoking the 25th Amendment because of mental incapacity?
Jeremy Bash, former chief of staff for the Defense Department and the CIA under Barack Obama told Michelle Wallace on MSNBC today: “Think about this, Putin says to an American president, ’I don’t want you to take seriously the threat of an ICBM from North Korea.’” He said that Putin’s motives would be to “undermine U.S. intelligence. More  fundamentally, the Russian Federation has had a long-standing agenda to stop the United States from building national missile defenses because those defenses could defend our territory from Russian ICBMs.” He said that Trump heeding Putin’s advice represents a “very dangerous situation.”

Watch Ivanka Trump sit in stony silence as Germany’s Angela Merkel rips her father’s trade war with Europe