August 8, 2018

Gates Testifies in Manafort Trial

We're officially on Insta! Did I throw on a blazer at 5 am for all you lovely people? You bet I did!

“The star witness in the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort faced tough questioning on cross-examination on Tuesday about a ‘secret life’ that included an extramarital affair and stealing funds from his former boss...


See past issues

Manafort is on trial. So is Trump’s judgment... even as they faked legal documents, according to Gates’s testimony, they signed on with the Trump campaign — a move sure to increase scrutiny of them — and not only continued their shenanigans but also tried to exploit their new positions. It was utterly reckless — precisely the quality that made them a good fit with Trump.”

Washington Post

“You know what would be surprising? If Rick Gates and Paul Manafort had suddenly suspended their apparently deeply ingrained habits of fraudulence and thievery during the three months they ran the Donald Trump campaign... given all that has emerged about their shared ethical framework, it’s hard to imagine that the public has received the exhaustive account of those months.”

The Atlantic

Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) “attempted to justify the law’s scientifically questionable reliance on the detectable heartbeat standard based on the notion that dead people no longer have a pulse... [but] under Georgia law and the 1981 Uniform Determination of Death Act, the determination of whether a person is alive is not, in fact, dependent on whether they have a pulse but whether they have sustained ‘irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions, or irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem.’”
Josh Israel, ThinkProgress

An Alabama Doctor writes that one of her patients “was 22 weeks pregnant and had a condition called preeclampsia, which is when high blood pressure puts the health of the mother and baby at risk and can result in death. The only option in that situation was to immediately deliver. The patient understood the high stakes and instead decided to end her pregnancy. But it took time (which we did not have) to convince the hospital and other physicians that this was the correct course of action because of the already hostile climate for abortion… I fear what could happen to women in this situation if the [new] law and its criminal penalties go into effect. Physicians will hesitate in how to care for complex health situations -- and Alabama is already a state with an unconscionably high maternal mortality rate.”
Yashica Robinson, CNN

Regarding the deployment of an aircraft carrier and bombers, many note that the US “has a long history of provoking, instigating, or launching wars based on dubious, flimsy, or manufactured threats… The most egregious case was the U.S. invasion of Iraq, in 2003, which was based on bad intelligence that Baghdad had active weapons-of-mass-destruction programs. The repercussions are still playing out sixteen years (and more than four thousand American deaths) later… The sense of foreboding is tangible.”
Robin Wright, The New Yorker

Trump's “goal, it seems, is to put so much pressure on Tehran that it has no choice but to completely change its behavior — but he could end up leading the countries to the brink of war in the process… Now is typically the time when cooler heads prevail, but it’s unclear if there are cooler heads around… It’s hard to overstate how avoidable this situation was.”
Alex Ward, Vox

“In theory, there’s no reason why a bad businessman can’t go on to become a good president. But a commander-in-chief whose signature legislative achievement expanded tax loopholes that he himself describes as grossly unfair is pretty much a bad president, by definition.”
Eric Levitz, New York Magazine

“So far, the prosecution seems to be trying [Manafort] for the crime of being a rich a**hole with bad taste... Much is being made of Manafort’s shopping addiction: this expensive suit, that expensive ostrich-skin jacket, etc... Manafort is charged with lying on his tax returns and on a number of loan applications. That’s what he should be tried for — not for his sartorial adventures.”

National Review

“So far, the prosecution seems to be trying [Manafort] for the crime of being a rich a**hole with bad taste... Much is being made of Manafort’s shopping addiction: this expensive suit, that expensive ostrich-skin jacket, etc... Manafort is charged with lying on his tax returns and on a number of loan applications. That’s what he should be tried for — not for his sartorial adventures.”

National Review

“Let's be clear, while Manafort remains innocent until proven guilty, this should be a wake-up call to the president… whether it's Manafort's proximate relationships with notorious organized crime interests in Ukraine or follow-on accusations that he engaged in witness tampering, Manafort doesn't exactly exemplify American morality.
By suggesting otherwise...

Washington Examiner

The president isn’t playing protectionist here. He’s pushing a single player who needs to be confronted, a cheater and a bully. For decades, China has gotten away with theft of others’ production techniques and other intellectual property, along with technology transfers and mistreatment of US companies. Moreover, it uses its ill-gotten gains to boost its military, adding another threat… Short-term, US consumers will pay a bit more — on goods that make up less than 2 percent of the nation’s $20.5 trillion economy. But China is at growing risk of losing access to the world’s top market, because Americans can buy from other lower-wage producers if Beijing doesn’t blink… Trump didn’t start this trade war, but he’s well positioned to win it.”
Editorial Board, New York Post

“We've got to suck it up. Indeed, we must be bold here. Chinese President Xi Jinping's tariffs escalation reflects his bet that he can spike U.S. domestic fears over the economy, and a corresponding popular pressure on Trump to back down… if we stand firm, Xi will have to back down because China's economy is already weakened by foreign investor doubts, caught between rural poverty and urban wealth, and vulnerable to low-cost labor competition from the region.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

“The broader context here is North Korea's crop crisis. If Kim hasn't got sanctions relief by August's end, a painful winter is coming… Absent Kim's commitment to suspend all ballistic missile tests, the U.S. should not support the provision of food supplies to the North Korean people. A North Korean long-range nuclear strike capability poses an existential threat to American society… Trump must not allow North Korea's coming suffering to dictate his decisions. Supporting North Korea with food will both prolong North Koreans' suffering under Kim and directly undercut U.S. interests.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

Some argue, “It stands to reason that if Kim is willing to starve his own people, deprive his economy of any growth, and pour billions of dollars into missile tech, he will, at some point, develop weapons America and its allies mastered decades ago. And short of an invasion or a diplomatic agreement, under the present circumstances, there is very little we can do to stop him… Taking a hardline approach—what many call the ‘big deal’—or only granting sanctions relief after full denuclearization and the end of Kim’s missile programs is completely impractical and something North Korea would never agree to… only a step-by-step process of disarming Pyongyang, where each side gets a benefit for making a concession, will work.”
Harry J. Kazianis, The American Conservative

Others posit that “the reason Kim is developing missiles that can strike Seattle or LA is that 28,000 U.S. troops are in South Korea… If we cannot persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons in return for a lifting of sanctions, perhaps we should pull U.S. forces off the peninsula and let China deal with the possible acquisition of their own nuclear weapons by Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan…

“After an exhausting two weeks [between North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, and others], one is tempted to ask: How many quarrels, clashes and conflicts can even a superpower manage at one time? And is it not the time for the United States, preoccupied with so many crises, to begin asking, ‘Why is this our problem?’”
Pat Buchanan, Townhall

Counterpoint: “after the War of 1812, President Madison… enacted the Tariff of 1816 to price British textiles out of competition, so Americans would build the new factories and capture the booming U.S. market. It worked. Tariffs [also] financed Mr. Lincoln’s War. The Tariff of 1890 bears the name of Ohio Congressman and future President William McKinley, who said that a foreign manufacturer ‘has no right or claim to equality with our own… He pays no taxes. He performs no civil duties’… [A tariff’s] purpose is not just to raise revenue but to make a nation economically independent of others, and to bring its citizens to rely upon each other rather than foreign entities.”
Patrick J. Buchanan, The American Conservative

A libertarian's take

“The scoop reflects poorly on Trump, who willfully misled the public for a decade in hopes of fraudulently representing himself as a man with a Midas touch. But he could not have succeeded without the assistance of many Americans, some mercenary, others over-credulous, who helped to spread the deceit and deception, generating countless newspaper articles, magazine stories, and TV segments that misinformed the public about the publicity hound’s record in business. New evidence of his staggering losses in that decade therefore provides an apt occasion to reflect on the media’s complicity in Trump’s brazen deceit and deception… Let [this] be a lesson for today’s tabloids, gossip columnists, over-credulous or mercenary journalists, and reality-television producers.”
Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic

On the bright side...

Does my sweaty T-shirt turn you on? At a pheromone party, singles try to match using only their noses.

SF Gate

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