Thursday, April 26, 2018

Bill Cosby convicted on three counts of indecent assault.

Courtesy of CNN: 

The jury in Bill Cosby's retrial found the TV icon guilty of all three counts of aggravated indecent assault on Thursday for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in a Philadelphia suburb in 2004. 

The 80-year-old comedian faces up to 10 years in prison on each count, but would likely serve them concurrently. 

After the trial concluded, Constand left through a side door in the courtroom, walking into a hallway with her arms around two women and a huge smile on her face. 

Cosby shouted at the prosecutor in court when his bail was discussed, observers said. 

The case against Cosby centered on testimony from Constand, a former employee with Temple University women's basketball team. She testified that Cosby, a powerful trustee at Temple, drugged her and sexually assaulted her when she visited his home to ask for career advice. 

Cosby's defense team argued that their interaction was consensual. Constand is a con artist, they argued, who wanted a piece of Cosby's fortune. 

The case is the first celebrity sexual assault trial since the #MeToo movement began last fall, and as such, represents a test of how the cultural movement will translate into a courtroom arena. In closing arguments, defense attorney Kathleen Bliss positioned Cosby's legal team as standing up against "witch hunts, lynchings (and) McCarthyism."

"Witch hunt" where have we heard THAT before? 

It can be argued that the Cosby allegations were actually the impetus for the #MeToo movement, and that this conviction is proof that powerful men who thought that their money and prestige would protect them from justice have another think coming.

Gee, I wonder who could be next to learn that lesson?

Trump lawyer Michael Cohen pleads the fifth, and the Donald finally admits that he represents him in the Stormy Daniels debacle.

Courtesy of TPM:

President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen said in a court filing Wednesday that he would plead the Fifth Amendment in adult film star Stephanie Clifford’s lawsuit over a nondisclosure agreement she signed in 2016.

In a court filing Wednesday, Cohen tied the criminal probe directly to his assertion of Fifth Amendment rights in the civil suit. 

“I will assert my 5th amendment rights in connection with all proceedings in this case due to the ongoing criminal investigation by the FBI and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York,” he said in part. Cohen last week asked U.S. District Judge James Otero to delay the civil suit due to its overlap with the criminal probe.

So to be clear Trump's lawyer is refusing to answer questions in court because he is worried those answers will incriminate him in a criminal activity.

Well now, isn't THAT interesting?

Also today Trump called into Fox and Friends, and finally admitted what we have known all along.

Also courtesy of TPM: 

The President said Michael Cohen is mainly a businessman and only secondarily a lawyer. That at least undercuts his privilege argument. He says what prosecutors are looking at only has to do with Cohen’s personal business dealings, not with his representation of Donald Trump. He also said that he knows nothing about Cohen’s private business dealings. (“I don’t know his business… They’re looking at something having to do with his business. I have nothing to do with his business.”) That’s almost certainly false.

That is also going to make it hard for Cohen to claim executive privilege to keep the Feds from  digging through the files that confiscated.

And then there was also this: 

Trump says explicitly for the first time that Cohen does represent him with Stormy Daniels: “He represents me like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal.”

Boom! There you have it.

I mean WE knew it all along, but Trump and the White House was working hard not to admit this.

I imagine that after this admission Trump's lawyers spent the morning banging their heads against the wall, but is certainly made at least one lawyer very happy.
Outmaneuvered again.

The doctor is out! Ronny Jackson decides against running for VA Secretary.

Courtesy of CNN: 

Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson has withdrawn as President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, he said in a statement Thursday morning. 

His nomination was hampered by a flurry of allegations about Jackson's professional conduct. 

In a statement announcing his withdrawal, Jackson slammed allegations of improper behavior leveled against him as "completely false and fabricated." 

"If they had any merit, I would not have been selected, promoted and entrusted to serve in such a sensitive and important role as physician to three presidents over the past 12 years," Jackson said. "Going into this process, I expected tough questions about how to best care for our veterans, but I did not expect to have to dignify baseless and anonymous attacks on my character and integrity." 

Jackson said he was motivated to withdraw from consideration because the allegations against him "have become a distraction" for Trump and his agenda. 

"Unfortunately, because of how Washington works, these false allegations have become a distraction for this President and the important issue we must be addressing -- how we give the best care to our nation's heroes," Jackson said. "While I will forever be grateful for the trust and confidence President Trump has placed in me by giving me this opportunity, I am regretfully withdrawing my nomination to be Secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs."

I'm sorry but if these allegations were "completely false and fabricated" Jackson would not pull his name out of consideration for this job.

And the excuse that all of this has become a distraction for the Trump Administration is completely ridiculous because there is a new distraction EVERY SINGLE DAY.

In fact there are so many distractions happening at the same time that they are all fighting for space on cable TV shows.

No, this is just one more example that Donald Trump simply does NOT choose the very best people.

In fact it seems as if he is drawn like a magnet to the most deeply flawed people in the country, and then tries to elevate them to positions of power and prominence.

Study finds that Trump voters were not driven by economic concerns but rather concerns that their dominance as white Christians was being threatened.

Courtesy of the New York Times:  

Ever since Donald J. Trump began his improbable political rise, many pundits have credited his appeal among white, Christian and male voters to “economic anxiety.” Hobbled by unemployment and locked out of the recovery, those voters turned out in force to send Mr. Trump, and a message, to Washington. 

Or so that narrative goes. 

A study published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences questions that explanation, the latest to suggest that Trump voters weren’t driven by anger over the past, but rather fear of what may come. White, Christian and male voters, the study suggests, turned to Mr. Trump because they felt their status was at risk. 

“It’s much more of a symbolic threat that people feel,’’ said Diana C. Mutz, the author of the study and a political science and communications professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where she directs the Institute for the Study of Citizens and Politics. “It’s not a threat to their own economic well-being; it’s a threat to their group’s dominance in our country over all.”

There have been other studies that have proven this point as well, and of course  even our own powers of observation should lead us to a similar conclusion.

Trump recognized this ethnic anxiety among white Christians during his time publicly calling for President Obama to reveal his birth certificate.

And that made him a hero to these self entitled white racists.

Then all he had to do was drag Sarah Palin back onto the national stage to give him her seal of approval, and the basket of white supremacist deplorables were all set to do their thing. 

Racism, and fear of "the other," has been a theme uniting these Trump supporters since the very beginning, and it is only a uniting of the more enlightened among us that will defeat them in the upcoming elections.

Apparently Melania Trump has a restraining order against her husband's lips.

It appears that his lips have to stay at least eight inches away at all times.

Clearly Macron's wife needs one of those as well to keep the old man slobber off of her face.

I'm not going to lie, I don't think I will ever get tired of seeing Melania reject Trump's advances in public. 

EVER.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Cambridge Analytica whistle-blower reveals that Stephen Bannon was testing phrases like "drain the swamp" and pushing a pro-Putin narrative years before he joined the Trump campaign.

Chris Wylie
Courtesy of WaPo: 

Conservative strategist Stephen K. Bannon oversaw Cambridge Analytica’s early efforts to collect troves of Facebook data as part of an ambitious program to build detailed profiles of millions of American voters, a former employee of the data-science firm said Tuesday. 

The 2014 effort was part of a high-tech form of voter persuasion touted by the company, which under Bannon identified and tested the power of anti-establishment messages that later would emerge as central themes in President Trump’s campaign speeches, according to Chris Wylie, who left the company at the end of that year. 

Among the messages tested were “drain the swamp” and “deep state,” he said.

According to Wylie, Bannon was the big boss and everything had to go through him.

And get this: 

The data and analyses that Cambridge Analytica generated in this time provided discoveries that would later form the emotionally charged core of Trump’s presidential platform, said Wylie, whose disclosures in news reports over the past several days have rocked both his onetime employer and Facebook. 

“Trump wasn’t in our consciousness at that moment; this was well before he became a thing,” Wylie said. “He wasn’t a client or anything.” 

The year before Trump announced his presidential bid, the data firm already had found a high level of alienation among young, white Americans with a conservative bent. 

In focus groups arranged to test messages for the 2014 midterms, these voters responded to calls for building a new wall to block the entry of illegal immigrants, to reforms intended to “drain the swamp” of Washington’s entrenched political community and to thinly veiled forms of racism toward African Americans called “race realism,” he recounted.

Besides the Trump catchphrases that Bannon was testing out in 2014, there was also this startling revelation: 

“The only foreign thing we tested was Putin,” he said. “It turns out, there’s a lot of Americans who really like this idea of a really strong authoritarian leader and people were quite defensive in focus groups of Putin’s invasion of Crimea.”

Now look I am really fighting the urge to put on my conspiracy theory tinfoil hat here, but there is no way to categorize this as a string of coincidences. 

It really sounds like there was an anti-immigrant, racist, pro-Putin platform all ready to go and all they needed was a figurehead to be the face of the campaign.

Cue Donald J. Trump.

Or, and this is only a little less conspiratorial, since Bannon met Trump way back in 2010, perhaps all of this was tested with him in mind, and he has literally been planning his campaign since at least 2014 or 2013.

Whatever the truth behind this is, what cannot be refuted is that people essentially voted for a Steven Bannon in Trump clothing.

Somehow I don't think Ronny Jackson is going to be the next head of the VA. Update!

Courtesy of Business Insider:  

New details about the alleged conduct of White House physician Ronny Jackson emerged on Tuesday night, nearly 24 hours after the first public allegations against him came to light. including a claim that he banged on the hotel-room door of a female employee while intoxicated. 

According to four people familiar with a 2015 incident involving Jackson, the doctor allegedly caused a ruckus by banging on the door of one employee's hotel room during an overseas trip, CNN reported. Jackson reportedly caused so much of a scene that the Secret Service intervened out of concern that he would wake then-President Barack Obama.

 A former staffer said that the "middle-of-the-night" incident made the employee uncomfortable and that it was "definitely inappropriate," CNN reported. 

The incident adds to a series of other allegations against Jackson, who was scheduled to go before the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs on Wednesday. The hearing was postponed on Monday, amid multiple allegations stemming from his time as the White House physician.

Some of those allegations include claims of excessive drinking at work, creating a hostile work environment, and improperly dispensing medication, according to a CBS News report published Monday night.

Substance abuse,  inappropriate contact with a female subordinates, you might think this would make Jackson a perfect fit for the Trump White House swamp, but that is likely not how the Senate is going to respond to them.

And if Jackson was hoping that Trump had his back, he may not want to rely to heavily on that.
Yeah, Ronny Jackson meet the undercarriage of the Trump bus.

By the way this excessive drinking totally explains how Jackson was able to examine Donald Trump and think that he was healthy enough to live to two hundred years old.

Update: Oh this doesn't look good.
Hard to see him coming back from this.

James Comey has added former Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald to his legal team.

 Courtesy of TPM: 

Fired FBI Director James Comey has retained former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald as one of his personal attorneys, bringing in a heavy-hitting former prosecutor, close friend and longtime colleague to help him navigate his dramatic role as a potential witness in the investigation of President Trump’s campaign and potential obstruction of justice. 

Two Capitol Hill sources independently told TPM that Fitzgerald was serving as a lawyer for Comey. After publication, Fitzgerald confirmed that he “has been part of Mr. Comey’s legal team since May 2017.”

Damn! James Comey has chosen one of the best prosecutors in the country to assist him.

Comey and Fitzgerald go way back, and in fact Comey is the one who chose Fitzgerald to serve as a Special Counsel during the Bush Administration.

The target of that investigation was Scooter Libby, who Fitzgerald saw convicted, and who Trump just recently pardoned.

I have to imagine that Fitzgerald is not feeling terribly generous toward the man who erased all of his hard work, and Trump has NOBODY on his team who can go toe to toe with this guy.

Trump's lie to James Comey about not spending the night in Moscow after the 2013 Miss Universe pageant has been officially blown to shit.

Courtesy of the Daily Beast: 

In a fateful private White House dinner early last year, President Donald Trump raised with then-FBI Director James Comey the issue of “the golden showers thing”—a particularly salacious portion of an intelligence dossier claiming Trump hired Russian prostitutes to urinate on a Moscow hotel-room bed in 2013, while he was in town for the Miss Universe pageant. 

According to Comey’s memos about that conversation, Trump claimed it was impossible for him to have done any such thing, because “he had spoken to people who had been on... the trip with him and they had reminded him that he didn’t stay over night in Russia for that.” 

All available evidence proves otherwise—from flight records obtained by Politico to social media posts from the time to testimony from Trump’s own bodyguard. And now there’s more proof. 

Thomas Roberts, host of that year’s Miss Universe pageant, confirmed to The Daily Beast on Tuesday that Trump was in Moscow for one full night and at least part of another. 

“The first time I met Donald Trump it was in Moscow on November 8th, 2013,” the former NBC anchor said. “I taped a sit-down interview with Trump the next day on November 9th. That was also the date for the Miss Universe broadcast.” 

Roberts continued: “During the after-party for the Miss Universe event, Mr. Trump offered to fly me and my husband back to New York. He said he would be leaving directly from the party. We were unable to accept the invitation. That was the early morning hours of November 10th.”

I actually resisted reporting on this earlier because the only account we have that Trump said this is from Comey, who the Trump folks will simply discount as a liar.

However now that so much information has come out that Trump DID lie to the former director of the FBI, and now that so many news outlets have reported it, I think it is important to note here on IM as well.

You know, just to keep a record of the number of lies that Trump has told since announcing his intention to make a run at the White House.

Which I think is well into the hundreds by now. 

Besides, from what we have seen Comey took meticulous notes to back up his version of events, and has not been shown to be wrong yet. 

Habitual liars like Donald Trump will quite literally lie about ANYTHING, even if they know they will be caught, and even if it really does not serve them to do so.

Simply put, they cannot help it.

Nicolle Wallace identifies working with Sarah Palin as the first time she realized that she could no longer be a Republican.

Courtesy of Crooks and Liars:  

CONAN: Was there a moment for you when you thought, "I'm not part of what those people may be, Republicans, or that person may be a Republican, but I'm not going with that?" 

WALLACE: I mean, honestly, I think in 2008 to work for John McCain, who is also in pretty bad shape health-wise, to see that Sarah Palin's crowds were bigger and more enthusiastic for the crazy things she was saying, than him, was really the canary in the mine and the signal the party had changed. 

CONAN: Telling you something was happening in this country that was angrier. 

WALLACE: Yes. 

CONAN: And more extreme. Darker. 

WALLACE: Yes. so she gave me my first shove, Trumpism gave me my last kick out the door.

We have said it many times before here on IM, but it bears repeating.

Without Sarah Palin there would have been NO Donald Trump.

She helped to create the anti-intellectual, hating on the media, deny all reality, blueprint that Trump followed all the way to the White House.

The thing is we KNEW she was dangerous, that is why I focused on her here at the Immoral Minority.

But while I was working to undermine her chances of destroying the country, Trump came riding down that stupid escalator and started to out Palin Palin.


I mean hell, who thought THIS was literally the best way for anybody to start to campaign for president?

I certainly didn't.

GQ Magazine lists the Bible among the "21 Books You Don't Have to Read."

Courtesy of GQ: 

The Holy Bible is rated very highly by all the people who supposedly live by it but who in actuality have not read it. Those who have read it know there are some good parts, but overall it is certainly not the finest thing that man has ever produced. It is repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious, foolish, and even at times ill-intentioned. 

Indeed. I agree wholeheartedly.

As you can imagine that has some Christian leaders all worked up.

Including, of course, Franklin Graham.

Okay somebody needs to tell these idiots that just because somebody BUYS the Bible that does not mean they have READ the Bible.

It is actually rare for anybody to sit down and read the entire book from cover to cover.

I actually HAVE read the Bible, which separates me from the vast majority of people who self identify as Christians.

I was in my teens when I read it the first time, and found it laborious and poorly written.

I quite literally could not imagine how such a piss poor book could have inspired an entire religion.

I attempted to read it again in my twenties, but then one day suddenly stopped with the realization that doing so was a complete waste of my time.

And I stand by that assessment.

Ammosexuals are murdering their coolers because they dared cut ties with the NRA. No, I am not joking.

Courtesy of Mediaite:  

National Rifle Association backers are outraged over claims a company decided to cut ties with the organization, so they’ve started blowing up their products. 

Yeti, a Texas-based outfit for outdoor gear, is known for its pricey coolers which can cost more than $1,000 each. The company had been offering discounts to the NRA, but once those deals were ended, the NRA said Yeti was engaging in a boycott. That prompted owners of Yeti products to lash out, crushing, shooting and blowing up their purchases, The Washington Post reported. 

The source of the boycott claims was a letter from the NRA Institute for Legislative Action stating that Yeti was the latest in a series of companies to end business with the organization following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Parkland, FL, the Post said. 

Footage of NRA advocates above shows two women destroying a Yeti cooler in what’s being dubbed the ‘#YetiCoolerChallenge,’ then stating, “Yeti does not support the NRA, so we do not support Yeti.”

So let me see if I understand this.

If a company chooses to break ties with an organization that lobbies for gun manufacturers due to gun violence, these supporters of that organization respond with gun violence?

Good thinking.

Speaking of good thinking as it turns out the Yeti folks actually did NOT cut their ties with the NRA.

Though I would think they might be reconsidering that decision now.