Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Democrats’ Category

US spies heard Russian intelligence agent vowing to target Clinton: report

leave a comment »

Mark Hensch reports in The Hill:

U.S. spies reportedly heard a Russian military intelligence officer bragging about his organization planning to target Hillary Clinton in May 2016.

The officer told a colleague that GRU would cause havoc in America’s presidential election, Time reported Thursday.

The officer reportedly described the intelligence agency’s effort as retribution for what Russian President Vladimir Putin considered Clinton’s influence campaign against him while serving as secretary of State.

Senior U.S. intelligence officials told Time that American spies transcribed the conversation and sent it to headquarters for analysis.

Time reported that an official document based on the raw intelligence was then circulated.

“We didn’t really understand the context of it until much later,” a senior U.S. intelligence official said.

Putin publicly accused Clinton of conducting a major operation against Russia when protests erupted in more than 70 cities in 2011.

The Russian leader said that Clinton had sent “a signal” to demonstrators and that the State Department had actively worked to fuel the unrest.

The State Department countered that it had only funded pro-democracy organizations. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 May 2017 at 5:45 pm

Intriguing column by Jennifer Rubin: “The next FBI director”

leave a comment »

She writes in the Washington Post:

The Post reports:

Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.), the second-ranking Senate Republican who has in recent weeks become a more outward defender of President Trump, and acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, who on Thursday contradicted the Trump White House on a range of topics, will interview Saturday to serve as the FBI’s permanent director, according to people familiar with the matter.

The men are two of at least four people who will interview to replace James B. Comey, whom Trump suddenly fired earlier this week, the people said.

The others are Alice Fisher, a white-collar defense lawyer who previously led the Justice Department’s criminal division, and Michael J. Garcia, a judge on the New York State Court of Appeals who previously served as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Other names mentioned include two partisans, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and former congressman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who were enmeshed in the Benghazi investigations that ultimately went nowhere. The notion that a partisan Republican would even be considered suggests a lack of appreciation for the damage done to the president’s credibility and the independence of the Russia investigation.

Among those interviewing the next director is Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose participation in the firing of James B. Comey raises ethical and legal questions. Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general whose memo was used as a pretext for firing Comey, is also participating. How are we to know if the contenders will be asked about the ongoing investigation? How will we know they will not be selected because they hint at a jaundiced view of the Russia investigation? (The investigation has metastasized with the report that the Justice Department is seeking “banking records of Paul Manafort as part of a widening of probes related to President Donald Trump’s former campaign associates and whether they colluded with Russia in interfering with the 2016 election.”) We won’t — unless the president’s conversations are in fact being recorded.

Democrats are threatening to stall the hearings on a new FBI director unless Rosenstein agrees to name a special counsel (to replace himself in overseeing the FBI probe into Russian interference in the election). However, they may reconsider after hearing his testimony next week in a briefing for all 100 senators. He may provide information and/or establish credibility with the Senate that persuades both Republicans and Democrats to leave him in place to continue investigating the Russia affair.

There is no downside for Democrats and for conscientious Republicans in refusing to move forward with a permanent FBI director. For now, McCabe is doing the job. He’s the one person who we know Trump, Sessions and Rosenstein would have had no role in influencing. It’s not even clear the partisan Republicans will want a confirmation hearing for a new FBI director. This would devolve into a tutorial on obstruction of justice, queries about a White House taping system, a reaffirmation of the conclusion that Russia meddled in our election (which would contradict the president) and a critique of Trump’s alleged conversations with Comey.

The one measure that Congress does have within its power is appointment of a special commission or select committee, which would be within Congress’s domain. (The former would likely require legislation, which might need to be passed on a veto-proof majority.) . . .

Continue reading.

Do read the rest. Quite a punchline.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 May 2017 at 2:15 pm

“Winners and Losers of the Recent Nuclear Holocaust”

leave a comment »

Dan Cluchey in McSweeney’s:

The nation was recently rocked by retaliatory nuclear blasts that have turned much of America into a barren wasteland, decimating the population, triggering the rise of firestorms and supervolcanoes, and generally bringing civilization to the brink of collapse. Let’s take a look at the political fallout.

Winners

  • Congressional Republicans: Widespread destruction aside, this was a kumbaya moment for a caucus that has had its share of family spats of late. For the first time since coming together to narrowly pass the American Health Care Act in May, Speaker Paul Ryan wonkily persuaded the House GOP’s version of the Hatfields and McCoys — the principled hardliners of the Freedom Caucus on one hand, and the reasonable moderates of the Tuesday Group on the other — to set their bickering aside just long enough to squeak through a resolution in support of President Trump’s plan, tweeted out at 3:29 a.m. on Thursday morning, to “FRANCE IS LOOKING FOR TROUBLE. Sick country that won’t solve its own problems. Maybe nucluar?” Concerns that a more deliberative Senate would splash cold water on a rare show of Republican unity proved unfounded when Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the human fulcrum perched stoically at the precise center of American politics, revealed in a nationally televised special that she would vote to authorize nuclear war to balance out the fact that she had recently broken ranks with her party on an agriculture appropriations bill.
  • CNN: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 May 2017 at 5:06 pm

Comey’s Testimony on Huma Abedin Forwarding Emails Was Inaccurate

leave a comment »

Peter Elkind reports in ProPublica:

FBI director James Comey generated national headlines last week with his dramatic testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, explaining his “incredibly painful” decision to go public about the Hillary Clinton emails found on Anthony Weiner’s laptop.

Perhaps Comey’s most surprising revelation was that Huma Abedin — Weiner’s wife and a top Clinton deputy — had made “a regular practice” of forwarding “hundreds and thousands” of Clinton messages to her husband, “some of which contain classified information.” Comey testified that Abedin had done this so that the disgraced former congressman could print them out for her boss. (Weiner’s laptop was seized after he came under criminal investigation for sex crimes, following a media report about his online relationship with a teenager.)

The New York Post plastered its story on the front page with a photo of an underwear-clad Weiner and the headline: “HARD COPY: Huma sent Weiner classified Hillary emails to print out.” The Daily News went with a similar front-page screamer: “HUMA ERROR: Sent classified emails to sext maniac Weiner.”

The problem: Much of what Comey said about this was inaccurate. Now the FBI is trying to figure out what to do about it.

FBI officials have privately acknowledged that Comey misstated what Abedin did and what the FBI investigators found. On Monday, the FBI was said to be preparing to correct the record by sending a letter to Congress later this week. But that plan now appears on hold, with the bureau undecided about what to do.

ProPublica is reporting a story on the FBI’s handling of the Clinton emails and raised questions with government officials last week about possible inaccuracies in Comey’s statements about Abedin.

It could not be learned how the mistake occurred. The FBI and Abedin declined ProPublica’s requests for comment on the director’s misstatements.

According to two sources familiar with the matter — including one in law enforcement — Abedin forwarded only a handful of Clinton emails to her husband for printing — not the “hundreds and thousands” cited by Comey. It does not appear Abedin made “a regular practice” of doing so. Other officials said it was likely that most of the emails got onto the computer as a result of backups of her Blackberry.

It was not clear how many, if any, of the forwarded emails were among the 12 “classified” emails Comey said had been found on Weiner’s laptop. None of the messages carried classified markings at the time they were sent.

Comey’s Senate testimony about Abedin came as he offered his first public explanation for his decision to reveal the existence of the emails on Oct. 28, days ahead of the 2016 election and before FBI agents had examined them.

When agents obtained a search warrant that allowed them to read the messages, they turned out to be mostly duplicates of emails the bureau had obtained earlier in the investigation. Comey announced just before Election Day that nothing had changed in the Clinton case, which had been closed four months earlier without criminal charges.

During his testimony, Comey said that part of the reason for . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 May 2017 at 2:56 pm

Let’s electrify America!

leave a comment »

Kevin Drum has an excellent post at Mother Jones; it begins:

Yesterday I asked for a simple jobs pitch that Democrats could make to win back all those disaffected working class voters who put Donald Trump in the White House. A bunch of people had ideas, and by the power invested in me as author of this blog, three struck me as real possibilities:

Rebuild America. This is a simple infrastructure pitch. Democrats should all get behind a gigantic infrastructure bill that would rebuild roads, bridges, airports, sewer lines, you name it. There would, of course, be no real mention of paying for this. Or, if there is, we’ll tax the rich to do it.

Electrify America. This includes both infrastructure (solar panels, wind farms, etc.) and a huge program to push cars and trucks to mostly electric over the next ten years. For funding, see above.

Split Up America. This needs a better bumper sticker, but the idea is to make a big deal out of antitrust: new laws that would break up big companies on both Main Street and Wall Street and encourage the growth of smaller companies.

For what it’s worth, the electrification idea has real appeal. It would promise lots of jobs. It would clean up the air. It would address climate change. It doesn’t require a ton of retraining since the jobs mostly consist of standard construction and assembly-line work. Its impact would be spread across the entire country. And it hasn’t already been co-opted by Republicans. It’s an interesting idea. . .

Continue reading.

For “Split Up America” I suggested “Make Businesses Work,” the idea being that when a monopoly or oligopoly is broken up, businesses have to get to work and compete instead of just raking in profits.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 May 2017 at 6:32 pm

Charles Peters on Recapturing the Soul of the Democratic Party

leave a comment »

Paul Glastris writes in the Washington Monthly:

Most of us, as we get older, tell ourselves that we’ll keep working past age sixty-five, or at least use our skills and experience productively in retirement. That’s especially true of writers. But few of us will pull off what Charlie Peters has done. At ninety years old, Peters, my mentor and the founding editor of the Washington Monthly, has just published an important book on the central issue facing the country.

We Do Our Part is a history of how American political culture evolved from the communitarian patriotic liberalism of Peters’s New Deal youth to a get-mine conservatism in which someone like Donald Trump could be elected president. It’s a fall-from-grace story interlaced with Peters’s rich life experiences and generally consistent with the Greatest Generation narrative we’ve all come to know. The arguments and anecdotes will also be familiar to anyone who has read Peters’s previous books and the Tilting at Windmills column he wrote for so many years.

But as he told me when, as a young Washington Monthly editor, I groused about having to commission a version of a story we’d previously published, “there’s no sin in repeating the truth if the truth hasn’t sunk in yet.” The truth Peters aims to impart in this book is one that all Americans, and especially liberals, need to understand: An America in which the elite serves the interests of the majority isn’t a pipe dream. That world actually existed, in living memory. And there are signs, in the country’s reaction to the election of Donald Trump, that it could exist again.

Peters was a six-year-old in Charleston, West Virginia, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office at the height of the Great Depression. He remembers unemployed men, mostly from the outlying rural areas, selling apples on the street corners and knocking on the back door of his home asking for food. He also vividly remembers the popular culture of his youth—Spencer Tracy and Jimmy Stewart playing Average Joe heroes, comedies that mocked the pretensions of the rich. Over the course of the 1930s he saw the numbers of apple sellers and beggars decline as a result of New Deal policies that were crafted and implemented by thousands of idealistic bureaucrats who had poured into Washington to do their part for the country.

At seventeen, he caught a glimpse of the most brutal side of that era when the local police chief gave him a tour of the jail and, “trying to treat me as a man of the world, said he wanted to show me how they dealt with niggers. He opened a door to a closet that was full of bloody garments.” But soon after, as an Army draftee, Peters broke his back in basic training, and during several months spent recuperating in a racially integrated hospital ward saw signs of a more hopeful future. “Our laughter came so frequently and with enough volume that the nurses would tell us to quiet down. There was absolutely no racial tension. [It]…made you think of what could be.”

From there came Columbia University, law school at the University of Virginia, and a move home to Charleston to join his father’s law firm. In 1960 he ran for the state legislature while also helping lead John F. Kennedy’s presidential primary campaign in West Virginia. Both men won, and after a short time in the statehouse Peters, like the young New Dealers a generation earlier, went to Washington. There he ran evaluations for the newly founded Peace Corps, a job he held well into the Johnson administration.

In the standard telling, the decline of big government liberalism begins sometime around the Tet Offensive and the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. Peters fixes the date much earlier: 1946. That’s the year a number of senior advisers to the recently deceased FDR, people like Thurman Arnold and Abe Fortas, decided to become lobbyists. Few New Dealers had done this before, so the connections and insider knowledge these men possessed were rare and valuable. Arnold and Fortas grew rich and powerful—the advance guard of what would become a vast Washington industry.

Peters’s concern isn’t just with how lobbying corrupted the political process, though it certainly did that—Fortas, for instance, was denied the job of chief justice of the Supreme Court thanks to shady payments from a client-connected foundation—but more broadly with how it corrupted the incentives and worldview of those who came to Washington. Men like Fortas, a brilliant Yale Law School grad from a modest background who owned multiple homes and Rolls-Royces, set a new lifestyle standard in Washington. As more staffers and ex-congressmen followed the lobbying path, those still in government began to see their salaries, which they once considered comfortable, as penurious. (Eventually they became so, as all the high incomes bid up real estate prices and the local cost of living.)

This acquisitiveness was connected to another rising sin: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 April 2017 at 12:53 pm

An interesting difference between liberals and conservatives: Liberals are more consistent

leave a comment »

Perhaps because they arrive at their positions through evidence and thought rather than through simple tribal affiliation.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 April 2017 at 4:12 pm

%d bloggers like this: