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Stuart Carlson Comic Strip for January 17, 2020


Can you be impeached for knowing nothing about anything and caring less?” Esquire
Politics

Jack Holmes
January 17, 2020, 11:23 AM CST
While even his most prodigious spokespeople teeter under Fox News questioning (!) about his relationship to Rudy Giuliani’s Ukraine henchman Lev Parnas, it’s worth considering that the scheme that led to the president’s impeachment is just one of his various foibles. He could have been impeached, after all, for relentlessly obstructing justice in the Mueller probe. He could have been impeached for his blatant public corruption, which has reached the point where people have started renting large blocs of rooms in his hotels and not even bothering to stay in many of them. Gee, I wonder what they’re getting out of it. Oh, and can you be impeached for knowing nothing about anything and caring less?
It’s a question worth asking as a new book from Washington Post reporters Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig, A Very Stable Genius, begins to trickle out via excerpts. A New York Times review calls it “a comic horror story.” The latest section published in the Post details a meeting Trump had at the Pentagon where he unwittingly laid out his attitude towards, well, everything, but specifically American military power: We can make some money off this. That was the only through-line as his senior defense and diplomatic and national-security advisers tried to tutor him in basic geopolitics and American history. Money. They owe us. We can get them to pay us.
“We should charge them rent,” Trump said of South Korea. “We should make them pay for our soldiers. We should make money off of everything.”
Trump proceeded to explain that NATO, too, was worthless. U.S. generals were letting the allied member countries get away with murder, he said, and they owed the United States a lot of money after not living up to their promise of paying their dues.
“They’re in arrears,” Trump said, reverting to the language of real estate. He lifted both his arms at his sides in frustration. Then he scolded top officials for the untold millions of dollars he believed they had let slip through their fingers by allowing allies to avoid their obligations.
“We are owed money you haven’t been collecting!” Trump told them. “You would totally go bankrupt if you had to run your own business.”
The president appears to view American military alliances as some kind of protection racket. He has openly mused recently about having Saudi Arabia straight-up pay for American troops. This is not the vision of service to the American republic and its Constitution most people have in mind with respect to our military service members. This is reportedly part of a general pattern in the book wherein Trump basically does not know anything about American history, the values and institutions of a democratic republic, or even geography.

In fairness, Trump offered some refreshing pushback against military brass who insist we must have bases everywhere, all over the world, always. The map of our installations abroad is mind-blowing. They’re everywhere. Do we really have business deploying our troops and assets all over the place? Do we think there have been some negative consequences for our relentless meddling and interventionism?
The Adults in the Room in this scene talked a lot about The Post-War International Order, and that’s been mostly good for us, but has it been good for everyone? Are their elements of it we might, uh, revisit? (Not that this president is the one to do it. That would require some capacity for strategic thinking.) We have Iran boxed in with bases all around and we wonder why they’re getting twitchy, particularly after Trump shredded the Iran Deal because Obama—despite the fact they were complying—and re-instituted crushing sanctions on their economy.
Speaking of, that came up.
Trump then repeated a threat he’d made countless times before. He wanted out of the Iran nuclear deal that President Obama had struck in 2015, which called for Iran to eliminate its uranium stockpile and cut its nuclear weaponry.
“It’s the worst deal in history!” Trump declared.
“Well, actually . . .,” Tillerson interjected.
“I don’t want to hear it,” Trump said, cutting off the secretary of state before he could explain some of the benefits of the agreement. “They’re cheating. They’re building. We’re getting out of it. I keep telling you, I keep giving you time, and you keep delaying me. I want out of it.”
I don’t want to hear it! the president said of dissenting information. And that right there, folks, is a nice microcosm of this presidency, which took the Bush-era disdain for inconvenient expertise and shifted it into overdrive. Who cares if they’re abiding by the deal, reached in coordination with the other Western powers over many long years? I want it gone! The repercussions for this spasm of impulsive stubbornness was merely a war narrowly avoided, at least partly due to Iran’s restraint.
Later on, Trump circled another decent point, demanding to know why we are still in Afghanistan. But of course he had to call it a “loser war” and attribute the attrition to military incompetence, rather than, as an ex-Navy SEAL once said on Fox News: “If you remember what Osama bin Laden said, he’s willing to fight this for generations. Is the American people, and the western world, are we as committed as they are to this battle? I doubt that, highly.” At some point, we will have to accept that the people who live there are more invested in the outcomes of our conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq than we are, not least because only a small slice of our population is truly fighting these wars.
Anyway, here’s the president.
“You’re all losers,” Trump said. “You don’t know how to win anymore.”
Trump questioned why the United States couldn’t get some oil as payment for the troops stationed in the Persian Gulf. “We spent $7 trillion; they’re ripping us off,” Trump boomed. “Where is the f—ing oil?”
Even the Bush ghouls used to pretend this was about freedom and democracy.
It was at this point that the descriptions of the president went closer and closer to what you’d expect to hear about a large baby. This is a common trope in Presidential Coverage, wherein the president’s staff and advisers talk bout him like he’s a toddler and stories are framed around The Presidential Mood—as if he has no obligation to get his emotions in check and run the country. Surely, these outbursts of emotion would be similarly tolerated coming from a woman.
Trump by now was in one of his rages. He was so angry that he wasn’t taking many breaths. All morning, he had been coarse and cavalier, but the next several things he bellowed went beyond that description. They stunned nearly everyone in the room, and some vowed that they would never repeat them. Indeed, they have not been reported until now.
“I wouldn’t go to war with you people,” Trump told the assembled brass.
Addressing the room, the commander in chief barked, “You’re a bunch of dopes and babies.”
The emotional meltdowns and irrational spasms from the world’s most powerful man are, according to the Times review, littered throughout the book. He reportedly considered awarding himself the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He suggested staff secretary Rob Porter’s ex-wife, who accused him of assaulting her, had given herself a black eye to shake Porter down for cash. Nothing sticks out more consistently than the venality. Everything is a transaction, everything is about leverage, everything is about getting ahead no matter what the cost or what the rules are.
“It’s just so unfair that American companies aren’t allowed to pay bribes to get business overseas,” the president once whined to a group of aides. All that matters is money and power. How can I use one to get the other? But Times reviewer Dwight Garner really nailed the situation while bouncing off an incident at Pearl Harbor. Trump seemed to have no idea what’d happened in Honolulu. “Throughout,” Garner says of the book, the president “is misinformed and confused while at the same time utterly certain of himself.”

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Aila Slisco  Newsweek
8 hrs ago

McConnell has explicitly indicated he has no intention of being impartial, vowing to work closely with White House counsel and Trump as the trial approached. Richard Painter, Bush’s chief ethics lawyer from 2005 to 2007, denounced the senator on Twitter for contradicting himself by taking the oath.
“This man just swore an oath saying the exact opposite. This man is a perjurer,” Painter tweeted, accompanied by a December NPR article featuring McConnell vowing to be anything but partial in the trial.
“I’m not an impartial juror. This is a political process. There’s not anything judicial about it,” McConnell told reporters on December 17, according to the article. “The House made a partisan political decision to impeach. I would anticipate we will have a largely partisan outcome in the Senate. I’m not impartial about this at all.”
Newsweek contacted Painter for additional comments but did not receive a response in time for publication.
The text of the oath McConnell took Thursday, which was administered by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, offers a clear pledge to remain impartial: “I solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of President Donald J. Trump, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, So help me God.”
Painter is a longtime Trump critic and one of several legal experts who have been critical of McConnell’s actions and statements regarding the impeachment trial. He voiced his displeasure with the majority leader when he announced he would refuse to be impartial shortly after Trump was impeached in December.
“For Mitch McConnell to say he’s working with the White House, coordinating with the defendant in this trial before the trial has even begun is atrocious,” said Painter during a CNN panel discussion. “He may think he’s a judge impaneling an all-white jury for a Klansman trial in Mississippi in 1965. That’s not the kind of trial we have.”
“It shouldn’t be partisan. It should be about America. Our loyalty is to the United States of America, and senators take an oath to their country,” Painter added.
McConnell is one of several Republicans who have indicated that they feel no obligation to remain impartial, due to the partisan and non-judicial nature of the House impeachment proceedings. The Constitution mandates that impeachment trials are the exclusive domain of the Senate.
In the lead up to the trial, senators of both parties have come under fire for publicly announcing their conclusion before the trial begins. Although the specifics remain to be seen, observers largely agree that Trump is unlikely to become the first president to be convicted in an impeachment trial.
Newsweek reached out to McConnell for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

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Tariffs are good for us? MA

Jeff Cox 9 hrs ago
Though it’s not clear yet whether massive tariffs against French wine will take effect next month, Moore Brothers Wine Company isn’t taking any chances.
The retailer, which operates in New York, New Jersey and Delaware, ordered more than 35,000 cases of imported wine to be delivered by Feb. 1, just in case the White House follows through on its threat for tariffs that could be around 100% and levied on a host of other goods.
“It’s just really terrible,” said David Moore, a co-owner of the sprawling business. “But what we hope to do is make sure that we aren’t doubling prices overnight.”
Wine imports from the European Union already face 25% duties, but the U.S. Trade Representative’s office has floated the idea of hiking them to 100% as part of an ongoing battle over tariffs on Airbus airliners. The USTR did not respond to a request for comment.
Though the U.S. and China have worked out a phase-one deal of their respective tariff battle, the wine issue is just one of many unresolved trade issues around the world.
The Federal Reserve’s latest “Beige Book” update on economic conditions in the various districts around the country, released Wednesday, contained 17 references to tariffs. “In many Districts, tariffs and trade uncertainty continued to weigh on some businesses,” it says. The report specifically mentioned an unnamed retailer in the Philadelphia area that had loaded up on wine to fend off the potential dramatic increase in costs.
For Moore’s business, tariffs have a huge knock-on effect, from the vintners in the French countryside to the shipping industry to customers and employees.
“If the tariffs go into effect, it’s not just some little guy in France who’s not going to be able to sell his wines to the U.S.,” he said. “It’s going to put us out of business, and we have 35 employees. We’re not the only ones. There are going to be hundreds of distributors who are smaller.”
In all, Moore estimates that the tariffs could cost more than 100,000 jobs, though industry estimates have been smaller.
That’s why he’s bracing now for the impact.
“We hope it’s a year’s supply,” he said of the big order. “You don’t want to have a rosé that you sold last year for 20 bucks to be 40 bucks. You ain’t gonna sell that. The whole thing is just crazy. We await the return of the adults in the room.

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By E.J. Dionne Jr. Columnist The Washington Post

January 8
President Trump’s incoherent recklessness is not the only problem for U.S. foreign policy dramatized this week. Also troubling is the eagerness of Republicans to fall in behind whatever he does and turn to demagoguery to paint his political opponents as traitors, a term Trump regularly deploys himself.
The surprise winner of the prize for the most mendacious and shameful partisan attack is former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley for her statement on the Democratic response to the killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani. Many Republicans — and some outside the party’s ranks — once praised her for a certain measured independence and civility.
Not this time. “The only ones that are mourning the loss of Soleimani are our Democrat leadership and our Democrat presidential candidates,” Haley told Fox News. “No one else in the world.”
Wow. Clearly this is a politician who has decided there is no future in GOP politics for anyone but a Trumpian distorter of reality and divider of the American people, even at a moment of crisis.
“The claim is objectively false,” The Post’s Aaron Blake wrote of Haley’s words. It sure is. Former vice president Joe Biden explicitly said on Facebook, “No American will mourn Qassem Soleimani’s passing.” He added that the Iranian had “supported terror and sowed chaos.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called Soleimani “a murderer, responsible for the deaths of thousands, including hundreds of Americans.” Warren and Biden reflected the tenor of comments from across their party.
At the heart of the Democrats’ criticisms is a proper warning against Trump’s preference for bombast and dramatic actions over sustainable foreign policy strategies. In conflating this with support for an enemy, Haley was engaging in a particularly egregious version of behavior that has become routine in her party.
Republicans keep trying to pretend they believe that what Trump does is normal and that anyone who says otherwise is out of line. Their behavior in the impeachment controversy is of a piece with this. They act as if there is not overwhelming evidence that Trump pressured the Ukrainian government to dig up dirt on Biden. They criticize Democrats for not obtaining evidence that Trump kept from them — and then say no more evidence is needed to acquit him.
Both the Iranian and Ukrainian affairs reveal who Trump is and how he behaves. What’s dangerous about him is not that he’s a hawk — or a dove. He’s not a foreign policy realist or a principled noninterventionist. He’s not a Wilsonian or a Jacksonian. He has absolutely no sense of what he is trying to do in the world. He’s just a jumble of bad and selfish instincts.
He acts less as a president than as a gamer. He loves to push buttons to do amazing things with our military prowess and then move on to something else. He also decides that certain people (usually dictators) are his friends and that these personal feelings take precedence over long-established alliances with countries that share our values.
This incoherence may have one advantage for the rest of us: He seems to prefer the satisfactions of moving a joystick to the burdens of full-scale war. He wants to show his political base he’s a tough guy and an opponent of war at the same time. So, having taken out Soleimani, he used the opening that Iran’s limited retaliation offered to back off, at least for now.
His comments on Wednesday were classic Trump: a lot of tough-sounding words, self-congratulation over Soleimani’s death and condemnations of earlier administrations for not doing what he did.
He promised he would stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons without telling us how. He said he would impose new sanctions — even though the ones imposed so far haven’t achieved the results he seeks. He asked for help from the very allies he regularly scorns. “The United States is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it,” he said, suddenly channeling St. Francis of Assisi rather than Genghis Khan.
What he did not do, and this is hopeful, was immediately threaten new military action. At least some around him seem to understand just how dangerous a situation Trump created.
His decision not to escalate immediately is good news, but it’s far from the end of the story. Our enemies have a serious, long-term strategy. Trump doesn’t. This weakens us. And the president’s erratic approach could yet blunder our country into war. At what point will his party take responsibility for this danger?

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In the following weeks, I will post a household Tip about appliances and minor home repair. These will occur randomly. This is the first one:

When purchasing first time or replacement plumbing fixtures, always buy Name brands. They do cost more but what you get is a lifetime warranty (read the information enclosed with the item) The instructions that come with the item has more than just instructions and troubleshooting information. There is also a lifetime warranty on the product. This covers the product 100% most of the time. All you have to do is REGISTER the product! You can do this online or by mail. If you do it by mail make a copy of the registration.  I have yet to pay for any replacement cartridges, handles or even the caps that identify hot and cold. This is how the major brands promote product loyalty and they are happy to help you.

BUY American

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The tariff war has become (and was initially) a hit on farmers and manufacturing. How is it possible to put tariffs on goods coming in the country and those tariffs having no effect on the consumers? The exporters simply pass this on the importer who in turn tacks it on the selling price. The premise of hurting the supplier is a falsehood and is damaging to the economy as a whole. This is the real “trickle-down” much like touted tax reform which did nothing for folks on the middle to lower end of the income scale. The lifting of some tariffs will not repair the damage already done to the farming and manufacturing sectors, by extension the consuming public (us). What is affected by tariffs: Price of hard goods where some parts are manufactured out of the country, parts that are sent out of the country for manufacturing goods that then come back with tariffs tacked on for parts not made in the USA, is this a double tariff? Now that China is experiencing a pork crisis, will they maintain a 25% tariff on the US goods or lift it on some agricultural products for the good of their people? It is well to note that China reduced its purchases of agricultural products from the US under this Trade war. Will the administration lift tariffs on incoming goods that benefit consumers? These are questions that should have been considered before tweeting the decision to impose tariffs. If you are a concerned citizen no matter what your political focus is, you need to think carefully before voting as our Congress is as much at fault for the actions of miscreant administration. Good government is our right and we can only get it by our intelligent vote.

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Rob Rogers Comic Strip for January 15, 2020 Drew Sheneman Comic Strip for January 14, 2020 Stuart Carlson Comic Strip for January 13, 2020 Tom Toles Comic Strip for January 15, 2020 Mike Luckovich Comic Strip for January 15, 2020


A few of the many proven facts belying TOTUS’s veracity.MA

January 13, 2020, 10:24 AM CST

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump made a striking claim Monday, insisting it was he who ensured that people with preexisting medical problems will always be covered by health insurance.
He wasn’t.
He also complained anew that Democrats didn’t allow him to send lawyers to the impeachment inquiry. The opposite is true: Democrats invited him to send lawyers to the inquiry and he said no.
HEALTH CARE
TRUMP: “I was the person who saved Pre-Existing Conditions in your Healthcare, you have it now, while at the same time winning the fight to rid you of the expensive, unfair and very unpopular Individual Mandate.” — tweet.
TRUMP: “I stand stronger than anyone in protecting your Healthcare with Pre-Existing Conditions. I am honored to have terminated the very unfair, costly and unpopular individual mandate for you!”
THE FACTS: People with preexisting medical problems have health insurance protections because of President Barack Obama’s health care law, which Trump is trying to dismantle.
One of Trump’s major alternatives to Obama’s law — short-term health insurance, already in place — doesn’t have to cover preexisting conditions. Another major alternative is association health plans, which are oriented to small businesses and sole proprietors and do cover preexisting conditions.
Neither of the two alternatives appears to have made much difference in the market.
Meanwhile, Trump’s administration has been pressing in court for full repeal of the Obama-era law, including provisions that protect people with preexisting conditions from health insurance discrimination.
With “Obamacare” still in place, preexisting conditions continue to be covered by regular individual health insurance plans.
Insurers must take all applicants, regardless of medical history, and charge the same standard premiums to healthy people and those who are in poor health, or have a history of medical problems.
Before the Affordable Care Act, any insurer could deny coverage — or charge more — to anyone with a preexisting condition who was seeking to buy an individual policy.
___
TRUMP: “…and, if Republicans win in court and take back the House of Represenatives (sic), your healthcare, that I have now brought to the best place in many years, will become the best ever, by far. I will always protect your Pre-Existing Conditions, the Dems will not!” — tweet.
THE FACTS: Trump and other Republicans say they’ll have a plan to preserve protections for people with preexisting conditions. The White House has provided no details.
___
IMPEACHMENT:
TRUMP: “’We demand fairness’ shouts Pelosi and the Do Nothing Democrats, yet the Dems in the House wouldn’t let us have 1 witness, no lawyers or even ask questions.” — tweet.
THE FACTS: Not true. The House Judiciary Committee, which produced the articles of impeachment, invited Trump or his legal team to come. He declined.
Absent White House representation, the hearings proceeded as things in Congress routinely do: Time is split between Democratic and Republican lawmakers to ask questions and engage in the debate. Lawyers for Democrats and Republicans on the committee presented the case for and against the impeachment articles and members questioned witnesses, among them an academic called forward by Republicans.
The first round of hearings was by the House Intelligence Committee and resembled the investigative phase of criminal cases, conducted without the participation of the subject of the investigation. Trump cried foul then at the lack of representation, then rejected representation when the next committee offered it.
His lawyers will participate in the Senate’s impeachment trial.
___
Associated Press writers Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.
___
EDITOR’S NOTE — A look at the veracity of claims by political figures.
___
Find AP Fact Checks at http://apne.ws/2kbx8bd
Follow @APFactCheck on Twitter: https://twitter.com

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The U.S. census is in progress after several (about 6) vital months of delay for a trial that should never have occurred. This delay sent the agency into a frenzied dash to hire and train people to do this important work. The delay put available people in contention with retailers gathering help for the holiday season. The census jobs are all temporary and last from 8 weeks to a year. The idea that they are temporary jobs turns some people off but the average pay rate is well above the minimum wage. It has now become a mad dash to move towards the actual work with the available people. This has created some issues that rival or mirror some cartoon characters’ actions. As with any operation, success depends on good or proper management and the right people doing the right job. Unfortunately, that is not happening locally.

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