Sunday Reads: Fifty Ways to Lead to Fascism 

Of course you all remember this song…50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.

 

The problem is all inside your head, she said to me

The answer is easy if you take it logically

I’d like to help you in your struggle to be free

There must be fifty ways to leave your lover

She said it’s really not my habit to intrude

For the more I hope my meaning won’t be lost or misconstrued

So I repeat myself, at the risk of being cruel

There must be fifty ways to leave your lover, fifty ways to leave your lover

Just slip out the back, Jack, make a new plan, Stan

Don’t need to be coy, Roy, just listen to me

Hop on the bus, Gus, don’t need to discuss much

Just drop off the key, Lee, and get yourself free

Just slip out the back, Jack, make a new plan, Stan

Don’t need to be coy, Roy, just listen to me

Hop on the bus, Gus, don’t need to discuss much

Just drop off the key, Lee, and get yourself free

She said it grieves me so to see you in such pain

I wish there was something I could do to make you smile again

I said, I appreciate that, then would you please explain about the fifty ways

She said, why don’t we both just sleep on it tonight

And I believe, in the morning you’ll begin to see the light

And then she kissed me and I realized she probably was right

There must be fifty ways to leave your lover, fifty ways to leave your lover

Just slip out the back, Jack, make a new plan, Stan

Don’t need to be coy, Roy, just listen to me

Hop on the bus, Gus, don’t need to discuss much

Just drop off the key, Lee, and get yourself free

So with that, I give you my interpretation…various linkage to several examples will be included of course…I will go ahead and place all these links in dump form at the end of the post.


Now, I present to you:

Fifty Ways tRump is like Hitler

 

The trouble ain’t all inside your head, Dak said to me

A fascist state is no longer something to be taken hypothetically

It truly isn’t that very difficult to see

There must be, fifty ways tRump is like Hitler.

She said, that Kremlin shit asshole is so fucking rude

and what’s more, his words and actions are so abusively crude

This has become more of an authoritarian rule

There must be, fifty ways tRump is like Hitler. Fifty ways tRump is like Hitler.

Take a golden shower, Howard. Make a pee stain, Jane.

Don’t need to be truthin’ on Putin, if you listen to Joey.

Beat up the press Jess, don’t need tRump’s permission, to crush them Tim

Go back to Oman, Juan, and become a deportee

Take a golden shower, Howard. Make a pee stain, Jane.

Don’t need to be truthin’ on Putin, if you listen to Joey.

Beat up the press Jess, don’t need tRump’s permission, to crush them Tim

Go back to Oman, Juan, and become a deportee

BB said, it grieves me so to see you in such pain

But if it makes you feel any better, I don’t know when I will smile again.

She made me feel at ease, but I could not forget about those damn fifty ways.

If you don’t believe me, then just listen to the Republicans on the Right.

And I guarantee you will be frightened and begin to see the light.

There is a reason why we all must stand up and fight

There must be, fifty ways tRump is like Hitler. Fifty ways tRump is like Hitler.

Take a golden shower, Howard. Make a pee stain, Jane.

Don’t need to be truthin’ on Putin, if you listen to Joey.

Beat up the press Jess, don’t need tRump’s permission, to crush them…no

Go back to Oman, Juan, and become a deportee

 

 

The following links…from above.

tRumpy and Alf both love golden showers? Yeah.

What you need to know about the Donald Trump “golden showers” intelligence report claimed by the Russians — Quartz

The Unsolved Murder of Hitler’s Half-Niece and His Romantic Obsession | Vanity Fair

Regarding the “rumors” that Hitler loved his “golden showers” too…

the accounts of Heiden and Hanfstaengl provide a corroborative context for the third and most explicit text cited by the Party of Perversion, the shocking story of Geli’s confession which Otto Strasser told the O.S.S.

Strasser recalls a tearful Geli telling him that when night came, “Hitler made her undress [while] he would lie down on the floor. Then she would have to squat down over his face where he could examine her at close range, and this made him very excited. When the excitement reached its peak, he demanded that she urinate on him and that gave him his sexual pleasure. . . . Geli said that the whole performance was extremely disgusting to her and that although it was sexually stimulating it gave her no gratification.”


tRump and the Truth…with Hitler’s go to man on the subject…Little Joe.

How the Trump White House Has Tried to Interfere With the Russia Investigations | Mother Jones

The pattern is increasingly clear: As investigations into the Trump campaign’s ties to and possible collusion with Russia have intensified, so too have efforts by the president and his staff to quash those probes or put pressure on US officials to publicly deny the validity of the swirling allegations.

For his part, President Donald Trump has long insisted there is nothing to the investigations: “The entire thing has been a witch hunt,” he said during a recent press conference at the White House. “There’s no collusion between, certainly, myself and my campaign—but I can only speak for myself—and the Russians. Zero.”

Exclusive: Trump campaign had at least 18 undisclosed contacts with Russians: sources | Reuters

 

Joseph Goebbels quote: A lie told once remains a lie but a lie…

A lie told once remains a lie but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth

Joseph Goebbels

tRump and Hitler and the Press:

Republican Greg Gianforte ‘body slams’ Guardian reporter in Montana – audio | US news | The Guardian

This link below is from an article in the Chicago Tribune dated April 26, 1935 – HITLER CRUSHES LAST SPARK OF PRESS FREEDOM | Chicago Tribune Archive

I went ahead and copied the entire piece since the link may not work for some of you.

 

New Edict Makes Papers

Slaves of Nazis.

BY SIGRID SCHULTZ.

[Chieazo Tribin-c Service.]

BERLIN, April 25.-The last vestiges of independence of the German press were abolished today by a decree signed by Max Amnann, president of the Nazi press guild and king of all German publishers. Amann acquired fame, fortune and supreme power by publishing Adolf Hitler’s first works and the s book, “My Struggle,” bible of the National Social- ist party.

Two full newspaper pages were need- ed to print the decree and the explan. atory notes which reach a climax with the assertion that the German press is truly free “because it serves the state.” The old struggle for freedom of the press, according to Amann, was only a struggle of professional, eco- nomic or religious bodies expressing their viewpoints instead of blindly obeying the state.

Eager to Smash Papers.

The decree shows that the Nazi press chieftains are anxious to smash news- paper concerns and chains of papers except their own and those of the . Amann demands to know the identity of all owners and part owners of publishing houses and the persons behind them. He announced he will assume control of all records to make sure that nothing escapes him. The purpose of this is to exclude the Jews who stilt possess financial interest in newspapers.

All persons unable to prove their own or their wives’ Aryan ancestry as far back as the year 1800 are excluded from the newspaper profession. The appointment of publishers, editors, and their representatives is subject to Amann’s control. No newspaper hence- forth may serve Interests other than those of the Nazi state.

Onlv those Publications which reflect

tne general ana o0 the Nazis are allowed. Newspapers and magazines of religious, cultural or eco- nomic groups are barred in principle. Any exception to the rule is left up to Amann.

M\ Self Dictator.

To make sure that none but papers subservient to the Nazis can survive, Amann topped off his law with an extra decree empowering him to elim- “unhealthy” competition between newspapers by shutting them at his own will. The Nazi press is to be given preference in case of doubt.

The ruling will mean the end of semi-independent concerns, such as the Hugenberg publishing house (Lokalan- zeiger, Der Tag, Telegrafen Union], which for years was the most power- ful In Germany. Dr. Alfred Hugen- berg, ardent monarchist, tried to save himself by with Hitler as minister of economics and agriculture when Hitler became chancellor. Ile withdrew to satisfy Hitler’s demand for a ” totalitarian ” state. His news. papers attempted to survive by obey- ing all the Nazi wishes.

Amann, who drafted and Issued to- day s decree, Is regarded as one of the richest men In Germany. He coined

millions from the sale of Hitler’s books and from all Nazi publications which, according to his own statements, are to be given preference In all conflicts with other newspapers.

 

Lest we forget this:

Trump is only G7 leader not to hold press conference after summit | TheHill

Tillerson holds a press conference without U.S. media – POLITICO

Trump suggests WH ‘not have press conferences’ unless he does them himself | TheHill

At FDA, TVs now turned to Fox News and can’t be switched – CBS News

(Now some report this is no longer the case. Cough…cough.)


On to the immigration links:

Trump’s Travel Ban “Drips with Intolerance” on Its Way to the Supreme Court – The New Yorker

Immigration Arrests Rise Sharply as a Trump Mandate Is Carried Out – The New York Times

Man questioned by Metro Transit police to be deported | KARE11.com

Adolf Hitler also published a list of crimes committed by groups he didn’t like – The Washington Post

Trump highlights victims of crimes by immigrants, new office in joint address – CNNPolitics.com


Pogroms in Hitler’s Germany:

…street violence against Jews was tolerated and even encouraged at certain periods when Nazi leaders calculated that the violence would “prepare” the German population for harsh antisemitic legal and administrative measures implemented ostensibly “to restore order.” For example, the orchestrated nationwide campaign of street violence known as Kristallnacht of November 9-10, 1938, was the culmination of a longer period of more sporadic street violence against Jews. This street violence had begun with riots in Vienna after the Anschluss of Austria in March. Kristallnacht was followed by a dramatic surge in anti-Jewish legislation during the autumn and winter of 1938-1939. Another period of street violence had covered the first two months of the Nazi regime and culminated in a law dismissing Jews and Communists from the civil service on April 7, 1933. The summer before the announcement of the Nuremberg Race Laws in September 1935 saw frequent violence against Jews in various German cities. Such street violence involved burning down synagogues, destroying Jewish-owned homes and businesses, and physical assaults on individuals. Kristallnacht was by far the largest, most destructive, and most clearly orchestrated of these “pogroms.”


2 ‘Heroes’ Stabbed To Death Standing Up To Muslim Hate In Portland | HuffPost

Two men are being hailed as heroes after they were killed while trying to stop a man from abusing two young women on a train in Portland, Oregon, because they appeared to be Muslim.

Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, of North Portland, allegedly attacked the men on a MAX train at the Hollywood Transit Station at 4:30 p.m. Friday. He was charged with offenses including two counts of aggravated murder over the incident, which occurred hours before the start of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.

Witnesses said at least one of the women the suspect targeted was wearing a hijab, and it appeared the abuse was religiously and racially motivated. Christian is known to locals and authorities as an active white supremacist.

“He said, ‘Get off the bus, and get out of the country because you don’t pay taxes here,’” Evelin Hernandez, a passenger on the train, told KATU-TV.

In connection with this…as you read this next link…keep these two men in your thoughts.

Exclusive: Tillerson declines to host Ramadan event at State Department | Reuters

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has declined a request to host an event to mark Islam’s holy month of Ramadan, two U.S. officials said, apparently breaking with a bipartisan tradition in place with few exceptions for nearly 20 years.

It is things like this shit…that stand out. For me at least.


Anyway, this is an open thread.

Y’all have a safe Memorial Day Weekend.


 

 

 

 


Lazy Saturday Reads: A Spy Ring in the White House?

Good Morning!!

I’m illustrating this post with paintings of women and cats–not relevant, but perhaps more soothing than the news.

It’s beginning to look like we have an actual spy ring in the White House. Here are the late-breaking stories from last night. I’m assuming everyone has read or heard about them.

The Washington Post: Russian ambassador told Moscow that Kushner wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin.

The New York Times: Kushner Is Said to Have Discussed a Secret Channel to Talk to Russia.

Reuters: Exclusive: Trump son-in-law had undisclosed contacts with Russian envoy – sources.

The Washington Post: Senate Intelligence Committee requests Trump campaign documents.

The New York Times: Russian Once Tied to Trump Aide Seeks Immunity to Cooperate With Congress.

While all this news has been breaking, Trump has been in Europe undermining NATO and our country’s relationship with long-time allies. He has done everything Vladimir Putin could have wished for. Trump ignored his advisers and refused to reaffirm U.S. support for Article 5

Kees von Dongen, Woman with Cat 1908

Foreign Policy: Trump’s Article 5 Omission Was an Attack Against All of NATO.

When President Trump spoke to NATO members for the first time on Thursday he failed to say the one thing Europeans were waiting to hear. He never mentioned America’s unwavering commitment to Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, which states that an attack on one is an attack on all. Twitter erupted in a storm of outrage and, for at least a few hours, #NATO was trending. Sean Spicer, responding to the criticism, stressed that even though the president didn’t say it outright, he is “fully committed” to NATO and Article 5.

Spicer’s logic? Trump’s mere presence at the dedication ceremony at the new NATO HQ was evidence enough. For folks that don’t track NATO issues on a day-to-day basis (and that’s most people), the president’s omission may not seem like a big deal. But Trump’s refusal to repeat what so many members of his own Cabinet have already stated — including his vice president — was a significant blow to the transatlantic relationship and could have lasting consequences.

Why were Europeans so eager to hear Trump utter the words “Article 5”? It was just last summer when Trump, in an interview with the New York Times, alluded to the fact that the United States could make its commitment to Article 5 conditional on whether the country in question was spending enough on defense. That sent a shiver down the spines of many NATO allies as they imagined calling Washington in a crisis — only to be asked first asked whether they had met the 2 percent target. (For many, the answer would be no.) Throughout the campaign, Trump also called the alliance “obsolete” (before he said it was “no longer” obsolete) and has repeatedly claimed — falsely — that NATO allies owe the United States vast sums of money.

Read the rest at the link. Foreign Policy is providing free access to their articles this weekend.

Carl Olof Larsson, The Bridge, 1912

NBC News: Trump Declines Endorsing Paris Climate Change Deal at G7 Summit, Will Make Decision Next Week.

TAORMINA, Italy — Under pressure from allies, President Donald Trump backed a pledge to fight protectionism on Saturday, but refused to endorse a global climate change accord, saying he needed more time to decide.

The summit of Group of Seven wealthy nations pitted Trump against the leaders of Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada and Japan on several issues, with European diplomats frustrated at having to revisit questions they hoped were long settled.

Trump, who has previously called global warming a hoax, tweeted that he would make a decision next week on whether to back the 2015 Paris Agreement on curbing carbon emissions following lengthy discussions with G7 partners.

He probably needs to check with Putin first.

“The entire discussion about climate was very difficult, if not to say very dissatisfying,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters. “There are no indications whether the United States will stay in the Paris Agreement or not.”

However, there was relief that Trump agreed to language in the final G7 communique that pledged to fight protectionism and commits to a rules-based international trade system.

Read more at the link.

Pierre Auguste Renoir, Girl and Cat 1880-81

NBC News is reporting this morning that Trump and his entourage are refusing to give on-camera briefings to the press or answer questions about Kushner. All other NATO countries are holding public press conferences at the closing of the summit. They did send out designated patsy H.R. McMaster to answer some questions.

Philip Rucker at The Washington Post: Trump adviser: ‘I would not be concerned’ about a Russia back-channel, irrespective of Kushner.

TAORMINA, Italy — President Trump’s National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said Saturday he “would not be concerned” about having a back-channel communications system with Russia, though he and other top White House officials refused to comment specifically on the growing controversy surrounding Jared Kushner.

A news conference here at the conclusion of Trump’s maiden foreign trip was overtaken at times by questions about Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and Friday’s Washington Post report that Kushner had discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin.

The Post reported earlier in the week that Kushner — who helped plan the Middle East portion of Trump’s trip and traveled with the president to Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican — is now a focus of the FBI investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

McMaster sand National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, who together briefed reporters Saturday, were unwilling to discuss the Kushner matter, as was White House press secretary Sean Spicer. White House officials insisted the briefing be conducted off-camera, preventing photographers or television cameras from documenting it.

“We’re not going to comment on Jared,” Cohn said. “We’re just not going to comment.”

Fritz Zuber Buhler_A Reclining Beauty With Her Cat

McMaster either misunderstood what Kushner was trying to do or is simply trying to obfuscate and sow confusion about what happened. Kushner wasn’t just seeking a secure channel to communicate with the Kremlin. He wanted to use the Russian embassy and Russian security channels for communications that would be hidden from the U.S. government and the American people. How can that not be treason?

Some reactions to the Kushner revelations

Business Insider interviewed Bob Dietz, who formerly worked for NSA and the CIA:

“GOOD GRIEF. This is serious,” said Bob Deitz, a veteran of the NSA and the CIA who worked under the Clinton and Bush administrations.

“This raises a bunch of problematic issues. First, of course, is the Logan Act, which prohibits private individuals conducting negotiations on behalf of the US government with foreign governments,” Deitz said. “Second, it tends to reinforce the notion that Trump’s various actions about [fired FBI Director James] Comey do constitute obstruction.”

“In other words, there is now motive added to conduct,” Deitz noted. “This is a big problem for the President.”

They also talked to Glen Carle, formerly of the CIA.

“If you are in a position of public trust, and you talk to, meet, or collude with a foreign power” while trying to subvert normal state channels, “you are, in the eyes of the FBI and CIA, a traitor,” said Glenn Carle, a former top counterterrorism official at the CIA. “That is what I spent my life getting foreigners to do with me, for the US government.”

Carle noted that, if the Kushner-Kislyak meeting and reported discussion were an isolated incident, then it could be spun as “normal back-channel communication arrangements among states.” ….

“We know about the multiple meetings of Trump entourage members with Russian intel-related individuals,” Carle said. “There will be many others that we do not know about.” He noted that while this reported back channel is “explosive,” it is worth questioning who planted the story — The Post reportedly received an anonymous letter in December tipping them off to the Kushner-Kislyak meeting.

Additionally, as a longtime diplomat, Kislyak would have known that his communications were being monitored. So the possibility remains, Carle said, that the Russians used the meeting with Kushner to distract the intelligence community and the public from potentially more incriminating relationships between the campaign and Moscow.

Read much more at the Business Insider link.

Tatyana Gorshunova, Woman in the Armchair

I have to agree with Joseph Cannon on this: Lock him up? No. SEEK THE DEATH PENALTY!

I confess that this post’s title is a provocation, though it expresses my sincere belief. If this Reuters report and this WP report are true — and as of this writing, they have not been denied — Jared Kushner is a traitor. He should not simply lose his job; he must be tried. Tried for treason.

Kushner lied on his security clearance forms — forms which clearly state that a deliberate falsification will result in jail. Any “Oops! Forgot!” claim is a bad joke. Jared Kushner cannot possibly have forgotten a meeting with the Russian ambassador in Trump Tower. No-one can forget an attempt to set up a back channel communication system using Russian facilities….

You wanna know who really is without sin in all this? Hillary Clinton.

Yet the Republicans chanted “Lock her up!” because Hillary set up a private email server. Contrary to the incessant lies emitted by right-wing propagandists, that server handled NON-classified communications, with a couple of accidental exceptions (which Hillary did not send). The most often-cited of these exceptions was a piece of piffle about Malawi which never should have received a classification stamp.

That’s why the Republican establishment demanded that Hillary Clinton lose her security clearance: Freakin’ Malawi. The same establishment is now trying to come up with a way to save Kushner’s ass.

The hypocrisy on display here is beyond flabbergasting, beyond infuriating. I cannot think of a parallel in the entire history of partisan double standards. Anyone who can damn Hillary while excusing Kushner and Trump must be mentally sick.

At this time (last December), Trump and his team were bad-mouthing the U.S. intelligence community. Kushner’s back-channel was designed to keep Trump’s communications with Putin hidden from our people, not from the FSB.

Please go read the rest at Cannonfire.

More links to check out

The New Yorker: Jared Kushner’s Russia Problems.

The New Yorker: How Worried Should Jared Kushner Be?

Politico: Meet the Real Jared Kushner.

Vox: The dueling scoops about Jared Kushner’s plan for secret communications with Russia, explained.

I couldn’t sleep last night after reading these articles and watching MSNBC’s reports. I’m probably going to have to take a nap soon, but I’ll be checking in to see your reactions and click on your links. Take care everyone. This is really really scary.


Friday Reads: Living under a Mean Spirit

Good Afternoon!

We live in a country where Mean Spiritedness is now rewarded, held up, elected, and on display.  We’ve all known coarse, crude, uncouth people. Never have so many of them held public office. They are full of pride about what they consider their Christianity, their whiteness. their lack of manners, and their obvious failure to learn anything about the world, culture, and science around them.

One of our major parties is now not only one of greed but of meanness and stupidity. Kremlin Caligula represents that ethos in spades. I’ve always voted independently no matter which party had its name on my voter registration. I cannot imagine ever voting for another Republican in my lifetime because any cog in that wheel is a cog in a wheel that rolls over our humanity.

I’ve chosen to decorate my post today with Hopi Kachina Clowns or Koshare . The Koshare depict unacceptable behavior and teach values in the lore of Pueblo culture.  We could use a few good Koshare wandering around the halls of Congress and the grounds of the White House.

A rich white man who body slammed a Jewish Journalist for asking him a question is now head to the House of Representatives and was placed there by the mean spirits of Montana. He won a mostly narrow victory given the unbearable redness of Montana, but it was a victory nonetheless. This is horrifying. The usual suspects in the right wing press and in congress are blaming the victim and presenting the bully as some kind of hero.  I am appalled. The following words are from from Brian Beutler writing for The Republic.

Republican Greg Gianforte defeated Democrat Rob Quist in a special election Thursday for Montana’s lone congressional seat, a six-point victory that should horrify you because he won with the full support of the GOP after body-slamming and punching an American reporter—and many of our political institutions, especially the media, are too paralyzed to impose a meaningful consequence on him or his enablers.

Gianforte, a true coward, didn’t admit any wrongdoing until his victory speech, at which point the risks of playacting decency pertained to his criminal case—the police have charged him with assault—rather than the election. “When you make a mistake, you have to own up to it,” Gianforte said. “That’s the Montana way.” I suspect some Montanans would object to the notion that you only apologize once it’s politically safe to do so.

For it was already beyond dispute on Wednesday night, thanks to audio of the attackand a witness account from a Fox News reporter, that Gianforte had attacked the Guardian’s Ben Jacobs. That’s when the process of public accountability began. In a healthier political culture, the condemnation would have been nearly unanimous, and the context of the incident would not have been a matter of controversy. What we witnessed instead was a political media—confronted with a one-sided assault on its most basic freedom—rendered by its own constructs largely incapable of identifying the threat with any precision.

Before he became president of the United States, Donald Trump toured the country encouraging violence against protesters and whipping up animosity toward the press. Earlier this month, Trump’s Health and Human Services secretary, Tom Price, sicced police on a reporter who was trying to ask him a question in the West Virginia state capitol on account of the fact that he didn’t recognize the reporter as an attendee of a press conference, then praised the police for their diligence. Last week, the FCC’s security detail manhandled a tech reporter at the National Press Club.

Republicans know in theory how to get their hackles up over political violence directed at reporters, because in January 2010, when an aide to Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley pushed a conservative reporter (then helped him up, and apologized for his behavior) Republicans tried to end his career in public service.

Their tacit acceptance of a culture of antagonism and violence directed at the press suggests at least that the party’s values have changed.

The win wasn’t as imposing as it could’ve been.  This is the one bit of goodness.  It also may have been mostly locked in by early and mail in voting.  However, the state of Montana is sending a man who just was charged with assault and the assault was on a reporter doing his job. This is not how it’s supposed to work in a democracy.  This is from Matt Yglesias writing for Vox.

Greg Gianforte’s 7 percentage point win in the Montana special election keeps a seat in Republican hands but fundamentally represents bad news for the GOP. The basic issue, as David Wasserman breaks down for the Cook Political Report, is that for prognostication purposes you don’t only want to know who wins or loses a special election — you want to know the margin.

 Montana is considerably redder than the average congressional district. According to Wasserman’s calculations, in an election where Democrats got 50 percent of the two-party vote nationwide, you’d expect them to get just 39 percent in Montana. Quist scored 44 percent, and with the Libertarian pulling in 6 percent, his share of the two-party vote is more like 46.

Things aren’t as simple as saying that Rob Quist outperformed the 39 percent benchmark and therefore Democrats are on track to win — geography means Republicans can hold their majority with less than 50 percent of the vote. But the GOP underperformed badly in Montana, after a similar underperformance in the special election for Kansas’s Fourth Congressional District.

There are 120 Republican-held House seats that are more GOP-friendly than Montana’s at-large district. If Republicans are winning in places like Montana by just 7 percentage points, then they are in extreme peril of losing their House majority in November 2018.

Republican leaders have taken their party on a risky course, and they ought to strongly consider turning the ship around.

b1342f80e689b237b2b1077e22c72da3The Guardian–home of the assaulted Reporter Ben Jacobs–calls the new Congressman a ‘fresh liability’ for the equally mean spirited Paul Ryan.  I can’t imagine them doing anything given what kids of crooks they’ve got wandering the White House. They only care about delivering tax cuts and ending everything but the military.

As it is, the party will now have to decide whether to embrace, accommodate or ostracise a man who made himself the personification of Trump’s media-baiting, violence-inciting campaign rhetoric. The legal saga will put a dark cloud over him and his movements on Capitol Hill are likely to receive outsized and negative coverage. In short, he is a liability adding to Ryan’s already considerable burden.

“This is going to be another of those moral tests for the Republican party,” said Charlie Sykes, a conservative author and commentator. “It should be an easy one for them to say there is no place for violence against reporters.”

In normal politics, Skyes added, the incident would have been universally condemned. But, since the ascent of Trump, the compass has moved. “It’s hard to overstate the cynicism we’ve seen from Republicans in Washington who will stop at nothing when votes are involved. How far down the road are Republicanswilling to go?”

On Thursday, Ryan said that what occurred was “wrong and should not happen”and Gianforte should apologise. But he stopped short of calling for Gianforte to quit the race. The questions will keep coming, however, when Gianforte takes his seat in the House.

Meanwhile, Kremlin Caligula displayed bad form when pushing his way to the front of the NATO summit. He shoved the Prime Minister of Montenegro to get to the head of the pack like a grade school bully.

Video of the incident spread on social networks in multiple languages.

“It seems Donald Trump did not want that anyone overshadows his presence at the summit,” said the Montenegro newspaper Vijesti.

Other Balkan websites ran headlines such as “America First” and “Where do you think you are going?”

Markovic himself, however, shrugged off the slight.

“It didn’t really register. I just saw reactions about it on social networks. It is simply a harmless situation,” he told reporters after the summit.

Instead of being insulted, he took the opportunity to thank Trump for supporting Montenegro’s membership in NATO. The small former Yugoslav republic is slated to become NATO’s 29th member next month.

His speech elicited laughs, eyerolls, and mumbles.  WAPO labels Trump’s behavior a national embarrassment.  The uncouth idiot from Queens has done us no favors with our friends while spilling beyond top secret information to international Thugs and Bullies.

After Trump called NATO obsolete (then proceeded to walk that back), Europe was looking for public support of Article 5, which affirms that NATO members will come to the mutual defense of any member that is under attack. But alas, Trump could not even bring himself to utter explicitly that the U.S. supports Article 5 in his remarks at Brussels, which every single U.S. president has done since Harry Truman in 1949. If NATO allies were nervous about the United States’ commitment to Europe’s security before, they must be fuming now. The NATO summit comes as reports surface that British police are withholding intelligence from the United States after leaks to U.S. media about the Manchester bombing investigation, and weeks after Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russiansabout operations against the Islamic State. For all of Trump’s fire and fury about the United States getting the raw end of the deal from NATO, from an optics standpoint, it is the United States that is looking like the irresponsible partner.

Perhaps in Trump’s eyes, the Saudis threw a much better shindig — spending $68 million to host Trump. Well, really, it was a $110 billion dollar fete, considering the price tag for the historic weapons deal that the United States signed with Saudi Arabia. Trump appeared to be much more friendly and relaxed among Saudi Arabian and other Gulf leaders than with our European allies. Obviously, Trump was bedazzled by the kingdom’s hospitality, but none of the Saudi opulence and money can whitewash Saudi Arabia’s terrible record of fueling Wahhabi terrorism, carrying out record numbers of public beheadings, contributing to famine in Yemen, and withholding many basic rights for Saudi women and girls. Days after one of the worst terrorist attacks in British history,  Trump is visibly more comfortable praising autocrats and extremist governments who help to fuel violence and conflict. That should be a slap in the face to our liberal allies in Europe.

The US Ambassador to the UN under George W Bush–as were many former ambassadors–were horrified by the speech and behavior.

President Donald Trump‘s first trip to a NATO summit Thursday did not sit well with former ambassadors to the alliance.

“I do think Trump’s visit to NATO was the least effective of any American president since 1949,” Nicholas Burns, who served as ambassador to the 28-member defense alliance under President George W. Bush, tweeted Friday. NATO came into existence in 1949.

In Brussels, Trump admonished members of the alliance for not paying their “fair share” for defense. The president failed to publicly endorse “Article 5,” the NATO mutual assistance clause that he was widely expected to back publicly for the first time.

Donald Rumsfeld thought the entire speech was just terrific which speaks volumes to any one with extensive knowledge of his history and your basic war criminal.  Former Speaker John Boehner called him a “disaster”. But it was today’s  Hillary Clinton who gave good shade to President Swiss Cheese for Brains in ways that only she could do.  She gave her Alma Mater Wellesley’s commencement Address.  You may watch the full address below.

She was talking to the graduates about their future. But she was focused just as much on her own past, and the hardest, fullest case against Trump she’s made since last November.

“In the years to come, there will be trolls galore, online and in person,” she said, urging the graduates not to let themselves get beaten down. “They may even call you ‘a nasty woman.'”

Back when she was getting her diploma in 1969, Clinton said, “we were furious about the past presidential election of a man whose presidency would eventually end in disgrace with his impeachment for obstruction of justice,” pausing to soak up the cheers and applause from a crowd who knew exactly what she was talking about, and approved.

Just in case anyone missed the point, she leaned in a little further, reminding students and attendees of the private women’s liberal arts school in Massachusetts that Richard Nixon had gone down “after firing the person running the investigation into him at the Department of Justice.”

“But here’s what I want you to know. We got through that tumultuous time, and once again we began to thrive as our society changed laws and opened the circle of opportunity and rights wider and wider for more Americans,” Clinton said.

Clinton has been struggling non-stop over the last six months with her loss, but she’s also been struggling with her public role. People close to her, many of whom share her insistence that a race she ran well was stolen out from under her by Russian involvement and by a surprise October letter from that same now-fired FBI director, are frustrated that she hasn’t been more in demand for a central role in the Trump resistance.

 

My most favorite headline today comes from The Dallas News:  ‘Trump’s budget shows his top priority is refusing to deal with reality’ written by Kevin Williamson.

President Donald Trump has produced a very silly budget proposal. Thankfully, presidential budget proposals have all the effect of a mouse passing gas in a hurricane — Congress, not the president, actually appropriates funds and writes the tax code.Presidential budget proposals are not received as actual fiscal blueprints but as statements of priorities, and so we must conclude that Trump’s top priority is refusing to deal with reality.

Here’s the situation: About 80 percent of federal spending is consumed by five things: 1. National defense; 2. Social Security; 3. Medicare; 4. Medicaid and other related health-care benefits; 5. Interest on the debt. Trump wants to increase spending on defense by about 10 percent while shielding Social Security and Medicare from cuts. Short of a default, he doesn’t have any choice but to pay the interest on the debt. So that leaves things pretty tight.

On top of that, he wants to pass what he boasts is one of the largest tax cuts in history. And balance the budget. Naturally, the White House budget monkeys are messing with the numbers a little bit. It’s the return of the Naïve Supply-Sider.

Williamson does a great job explaining what us economists have found out and think about that. This is good because I get very tired of having to give and write that explanation many times a year.  Let me also tell you that this guy writes for The National Review so Republicans don’t have to get their prunes from me or any other person that generally votes democratic.

The problem with this simplistic analysis is that it credits 100 percent of economic growth to tax cuts, when in fact economic growth is the result of many factors. The U.S. economy has experienced periods of strong growth with much higher tax rates, as it did in the 1950s and 1960s. The meaningful comparison is not between what tax revenue was before the tax cuts and what it was after the tax cuts, but between what it was after the tax cuts and what it would have been without the cuts. Which, unfortunately, is a counterfactual.

Economists who have looked at the issue have found evidence of growth effects and sometimes evidence of very strong growth effects. What they have not found is evidence of growth effects amounting to 100 percent of forgone revenue, i.e. the holy grail of “self-financing tax cuts.” The Trump budget proposal includes tax cuts that not only are self-financing but doubly self-financing. These tax cuts would, if we are to take him at his word (and that is impossible to do) not only pay for themselves but generate enough new revenue to balance the budget 10 years down the road.

You can bet that free lunch will turn out to be expensive.

Koshare_kachina_19th_centMy big problem is the use of that word ‘free lunch’.  The folks that really need food won’t get it.  The ‘free lunch’ will go to the rest of the Caligulas resident in our country.  So, there’s the greed and the stupidity and the mean rolled up in one huge gesture.  Meanwhile, the FBI is now very out front that it’s going after Jared Kushner.  I’ll give this last bit to Charles Pierce of Esquire infamy.

In their infinite wisdom, enough of the American people got together and decided to put a manifestly unqualified and manifestly unfit New York real estate sub-tycoon in charge of the executive branch of the national government. He has proceeded to do business there in the same shadowy fashion in which he’s done business everywhere else. He’s kept everything within the family, even if the family members are no more qualified to do the work than he is. Either he never knew that you can’t run a democratic republic that way, or he didn’t care. Either everything is a surprise to this crowd, or they think that the institutions of government are just another great, fertile field of grift to be plundered.

In any case, at the end of the day, it’s all going to be about money. Jared Kushner is just the most recent clue in a completely bogus treasure map.

So, follow the money and send in the clowns. The oldies are still the goodies.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

While I was browsing for interesting stories this morning, I watched Trump’s embarrassing speech at the opening of the 9/11 center at NATO headquarters. He began with a lecture on how the U.S. is paying so much for defense and other countries are failing to meet the 2% GDP requirement. How long is he going to keep beating this dead horse?

After that, he seemed to imply that NATO had spent too much money on the 9/11 memorial. He said that the U.S. would not abandon NATO, but he did not reaffirm article 5, which states that if one NATO country is attacked, all have been attacked.

Last night a reporter for The Guardian, Ben Jacobs, was assaulted by the GOP candidate for the House in Montana.

The Guardian: Republican candidate charged with assault after ‘body-slamming’ Guardian reporter.

The Republican candidate for Montana’s congressional seat has been charged with misdemeanor assault after he is alleged to have slammed a Guardian reporter to the floor on the eve of the state’s special election, breaking his glasses and shouting: “Get the hell out of here.”

Ben Jacobs, a Guardian political reporter, was asking Greg Gianforte, a tech millionaire endorsed by Donald Trump, about the Republican healthcare plan when the candidate allegedly “body-slammed” the reporter.

Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs

“He took me to the ground,” Jacobs said by phone from the back of an ambulance. “I think he whaled on me once or twice … He got on me and I think he hit me … This is the strangest thing that has ever happened to me in reporting on politics.”

Fox News reporter Alicia Acuna, field producer Faith Mangan and photographer Keith Railey witnessed the incident at Gianforte’s campaign headquarters in Montana, according to an account published on the Fox News website. After Jacobs asked Gianforte his question, Acuna wrote: “Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him.

“Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the man, as he moved on top the reporter and began yelling something to the effect of ‘I’m sick and tired of this!’ … To be clear, at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte, who left the area after giving statements to local sheriff’s deputies.”

At least 3 Montana newspapers have now unendorsed Gianforte, and the election is today.

This might explain Gianforte’s anger toward Jacobs and the Guardian. On April 28, Jacobs published this story on Gianforte, whom Trump endorsed in voice message: GOP candidate Greg Gianforte has financial ties to US-sanctioned Russian companies.

A Republican congressional candidate has financial ties to a number of Russian companies that have been sanctioned by the US, the Guardian has learned.

Greg Gianforte, who is the GOP standard bearer in the upcoming special election in Montana, owns just under $250,000 in shares in two index funds that are invested in the Russian economy to match its overall performance.

According to a financial disclosure filed with the clerk of the House of Representatives, the Montana tech mogul owns almost $150,000 worth of shares in VanEck Vectors Russia ETF and $92,400 in the IShares MSCF Russia ETF fund. Both are indexed to the Russian equities market and have significant holdings in companies such as Gazprom and Rosneft that came under US sanctions in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of the Crimea.

The Moron-In-Chief is now in trouble with two countries and the U.S. Department of Defense for his blabbing of top secret intelligence. First it was Israel, now the U.K.

Politico: Israel changes intelligence sharing with US after Trump’s revelations to Russia.

Israel has changed the way it shares intelligence with the U.S., Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Wednesday. The move comes after U.S. President Donald Trump divulged to Russia classified information reportedly obtained from Israel.

“We discussed the issue with our friends in America,” Liberman said in an interview with Army Radio. “We did our checks.” The defense chief didn’t specify what changes had been made, saying: “Not everything needs to be discussed in the media, some things need to be talked about in closed rooms.” ….

Israel has changed the way it shares intelligence with the U.S., Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Wednesday. The move comes after U.S. President Donald Trump divulged to Russia classified information reportedly obtained from Israel.

Manchester police making arrests after bombing

The Guardian: UK police stop passing Manchester bombing information to US over leaks.

British police have stopped sharing evidence from the investigation into the terror network behind the Manchester bombing with the United States after a series of leaks left investigators and the government furious.

The ban is limited to the Manchester investigation only. British police believe the leaks are unprecedented in their scope, frequency and potential damage.

Downing Street was not behind the decision by Greater Manchester police to stop sharing information with US intelligence, a No 10 source said, stressing that it was important police were allowed to take independent decisions.

Relations between the US and UK security services, normally extremely close, have been put under strain by the scale of the leaks from US officials to the American media.

After chairing a meeting of the emergency Cobra meeting Theresa May said: “I will make clear to President Trump that intelligence shared between our security agencies must remain secure.” She is due to meet the US president at a Nato summit in Brussels on Thursday.

Not Good.

As for the Defense Department’s reaction to Trump leaks, have you read the transcript of Trump’s call to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte? It’s beyond shocking. Not only did the Moron-in-Chief praise Duterte for his extra-legal murders of suspected drug dealers and addicts, but also he revealed the location of two U.S. nuclear submarines!

Trump’s good buddy Rodrico Duterte

Reuters: Trump praises Duterte for anti-drug campaign in call transcript.

Trump commended Duterte’s actions in the same call in which the U.S. president invited him to Washington, according to a transcript of their conversation published by the Washington Post and the investigative news site The Intercept. The document included a “confidential” cover sheet from the Americas division of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.

Almost 9,000 people, many small-time drug users and dealers, have been killed in the Philippines since Duterte took office on June 30. Police say about one-third of the victims were shot by officers in self-defense during legitimate operations. Human rights groups say official accounts are implausible.

“I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem,” Trump told Duterte, according to the transcript.

“Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that.”

Duterte thanked Trump and said “this is the scourge of my nation now and I have to do something to preserve the Filipino nation.”

“I think we had a previous president who did not understand that,” Trump replied.

And then there was this:

The attack submarine USS San Francisco (SSN 711) is escorted by two harbour tugs in this file picture. – Wikimedia Commons

Buzzfeed: The Pentagon Can’t Believe Trump Told Another President About Nuclear Subs Near North Korea.

Pentagon officials are in shock after the release of a transcript of a call between President Donald Trump and his Philippines counterpart revealed that the US military had moved two nuclear submarines towards North Korea.

“We never talk about subs!” three officials told BuzzFeed News, referring to the military’s belief that keeping submarines’ movements secret is key to their mission.

While the US military will frequently announce the deployment of aircraft carriers, it is far more careful when discussing the movement of nuclear submarines. Carriers are hard to miss, and that, in part, is a reason the US military deploys them. They are a physical show of force. Submarines are, at times, a furtive complement to the carriers, a hard-to-detect means of strategic deterrence.

According to the transcript, released Wednesday, Trump called Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte April 29, in part to discuss the rising threat from North Korea. During that call, while discussing ways to mitigate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s nuclear ambitions, Trump said: “We have two submarines — the best in the world. We have two nuclear submarines — not that we want to use them at all. I’ve never seen anything like they are but we don’t have to use this, but [Kim] could be crazy, so we will see what happens.”

It takes a madman to recognize another madman, I guess. In reading the transcript, I got the feeling that Trump would like nothing more than to use those nukes. But now, all our enemies know where they can fine our nuclear subs.

By announcing the presence of nuclear submarines, the president, some Pentagon officials privately explained, gives away the element of surprise — an irony given his repeated declarations during the campaign that the US announces far too many of its military plans when it comes to combatting ISIS.

Moreover, some countries in the region, particularly China, seek to develop their anti-sub capability. Knowing that two US submarines are in the region could allow them to test this.

Finally, it is unclear why Duterte would need to know the specific number of subs in the region. The Philippines is not a part of US military efforts to deter North Korea, so why would Duterte need to know such details?

There is so much Trump Russia news that I’ll have to give you the rest as links only.

Three big stories broke last night, and I posted them on JJ’s thread.

NYT: Top Russian Officials Discussed How to Influence Trump Aides Last Summer.

WaPo: How a dubious Russian document influenced the FBI’s handling of the Clinton probe.

CNN: AG Sessions did not disclose Russia meetings in security clearance form, DOJ says.

More Trump Russia stories:

Politico: Manafort advised Trump team on Russia scandal.

Daily Beast: Reince Priebus Sweating Secret Comey Memos, White House Sources Say.

The Atlantic: The Known Unknowns of the Russia Investigation.

Politico: White House tries to avoid ‘paralysis’ amid investigation.

Other News:

NBC News: Trump Failing to Track Foreign Cash at His Hotels.

Axios: Trump’s “street fighters.”

NBC News: Ben Carson Says ‘Poverty Is a State of Mind.’

The Atlantic: Pope Francis, Trump Whisperer?

Bloomberg: Obama Feted in Berlin as He Praises Merkel Before Trump Summits.

What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread below, and I hope you enjoy your day.


Wednesday Reads: tRumpy + Bibi BFF …Hump Day Cartoons 


Anyone with half of a brain can see it…well, maybe that is giving some dumbasses too much credit.

 

‘Pope looks like he’s being held against his will’: The internet goes nuts over Trump’s weird Vatican photos

 

Donald Trump and some of his family members met Pope Francis — and social media users couldn’t help but notice the Holy Father didn’t look too happy about it.

Trump appeared grinning in photos with the Pope, whose dour expression never changed, and both first lady Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump wore black veils.

See what I mean. That picture is everything.

Want a close-up?

Funny how just a few hours ago this was the image that seemed to define the trip so far:


tRump’s trip to places not America isn’t going well, not that I expected anything less. Honestly, this picture above is a perfect showcase of the orange idiot’s true mental capacity….as the image made its way across the social media scene. This was what tRump wrote as his parting thought when he signed Israeli Holocaust Memorial Guestbook. Imagine, the only thing tRump left out of this Happy Yearbook sign off was the tRumpy BFF Bibi inside a big heart.

Seriously…he put exclamation points! WTF!!!!

Here is a side by side of Obama’s message compared to tRump.

It isn’t like this is the only news out there:


Now on the cartoons because what else can you say about that?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOMEGROWN TERRORISTS: 05/24/2017 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - HOMEGROWN TERRORISTS

 

TRUMPNADO: 05/17/2017 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - TRUMPNADO

 

I have to post this now…power is going out…bad storms.

This is an open thread.


Tuesday Reads: Another Overwhelming News Day

The Morning News, William Merritt Chase

Good Afternoon!!

I’m having another one of those days where I just can’t get going on a post. The news is just so overwhelming.

As has been happening almost daily for the past couple of weeks, The Washington Post broke a huge new story on the Trump Russia investigation: Trump asked intelligence chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence.

Trump made separate appeals to the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and to Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, urging them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.

Coats and Rogers refused to comply with the requests, which they both deemed to be inappropriate, according to two current and two former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private communications with the president….

Trump’s conversation with Rogers was documented contemporaneously in an internal memo written by a senior NSA official, according to the officials. It is unclear if a similar memo was prepared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to document Trump’s conversation with Coats. Officials said such memos could be made available to both the special counsel now overseeing the Russia investigation and congressional investigators, who might explore whether Trump sought to impede the FBI’s work.

Coats is refusing to comment on the story, but he isn’t denying it.

End of the Story, Marcus Stone

Of course that breaking news story was quickly pushed to the media back burner after the terror attack in Manchester, England.

NBC News: Manchester Arena Suicide Bombing: Victims Include 8-Year-Old Girl, Young Student.

The first victims identified in the suicide bombing after an Ariana Grande concert in Britain were an 8-year-old remembered as a “beautiful little girl” and an 18-year-old college student who had previously met her pop idol.

They were among the 22 killed Monday night at the Manchester Arena in the deadliest terror attack in Britain since 2005. Another 59 people were also injured as the suspect detonated a bomb near one of the venue’s exits, sending the mostly younger concertgoers fleeing in panic, authorities said.

Grande’s fans are predominantly teens and young girls, and many had gone to the venue with their parents for a night of carefree fun that in a flash turned into a scene of carnage. Hours after the bloodshed, desperate parents said they were still trying unsuccessfully to reconnect with children.

The Washington Post: Manchester bombing suspect identified, U.S. officials say; Islamic State claims responsibility.

The Islamic State claimed Tuesday that one of its “soldiers” carried out an apparent suicide blast in Manchester that killed at least 22 people, including teenagers and others streaming out of a pop concert.

U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, identified the assailant as Salman Abedi. They did not provide information about his age or nationality, and British officials declined to comment on the suspect’s identity.

Islamic State’s claim came as British investigators intensified their search for possible accomplices and police teams fanned out across the northern city after the worst terrorist strike in Britain in more than a decade.

The Islamic State did not give any details about the attacker or how the blast was carried out late Monday. Its statement was posted on the online messaging service Telegram and later noted by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant websites.

The Islamic State often quickly proclaims links to attacks, but some previous claims have not been proven.

Morning News, Lillian Westcott Hale

This morning DNI Dan Coats testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee and discussed the attack. NBC News:

The bloody mayhem in Manchester could be a taste of the ISIS terror to come.

That was the dire warning from Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats on Tuesday in his appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee and a report by the agency.

“They claim responsibility for virtually every attack,” Coats told the panel after ISIS declared it was behind the suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, that left 22 dead and dozens more injured. “We have not verified yet the connection.”

The attack came straight from the ISIS playbook that Coats warned lawmakers about.

“We anticipate that ISIS will be in transition over the coming year, shifting toward more traditional terrorist operations rather than conventional military engagement in Iraq and Syria,” Coats warned. “ISIS will continue to lead, enable and inspire terrorist attacks, both unilaterally and with the assistance of its formal branches and networks.”

Why? Because ISIS is losing on the battlefield and it has lost much of the territory it held in Iraq and Syria.

There also was a hearing this morning in the House Intelligence Committee on the Trump-Russia connection. I watched some of it. It’s hard to believe, but Republicans are still trying to absolve Trump and are more concerned about leaks to the media than the fact that Russia interfered in U.S. elections.

Some headlines coming out of the testimony of former CIA Director John Brennan:

Sunday Johanna Harmon

NPR: Former CIA Director Tells Lawmakers About ‘Very Aggressive’ Russian Election Meddling.

Former CIA Director John Brennan told the House Intelligence Committee Tuesday that Russia “brazenly interfered in the 2016 election process,” despite U.S. efforts to warn them off. Brennan testified in an open session of the committee, one of a handful of congressional committee now investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Brennan said he told his Russian counterpart, the head of Russia’s FSB, last August that if Russia pursued its efforts to interfere, “it would destroy any near-term prospect for improvement in relations” between the two countries. He said Russia denied any attempts to interfere.

In his opening statement, Brennan also recounted how he had briefed congressional leaders in August of last year, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees about the “full details” of what he knew of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Brennan said he became convinced last summer that Russia was trying to interfere in the campaign, saying “they were very aggressive.”

So both Ryan and McConnell knew how serious this was back in August 2016, and they did nothing in response but continue enabling/supporting Trump.

Brennan said he is “aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign.” Brennan said that concerned him, “because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals,” and that it raised questions about whether or not the Russians “were able to gain the cooperation of those individuals.” Brennan added he didn’t know if “collusion existed” between the Russians and those he identified as involved in the Trump campaign.

While Brennan would not specifically identify any individuals associated with the Trump campaign who had contacts with Russian officials and would not opine as to whether there was any collusion or collaboration, he did tell lawmakers why he was concerned about the contacts occurring against the general background of Russian efforts to meddle in the election. Brennan said he’s studied Russian intelligence activities over the years, and how they’ve been able to get people to betray their country. “Frequently, individuals on a treasonous path do not even realize they’re on that path until it gets to be too late,” he said.

Woman reading the newspaper, Carl Vilhelm Holsoe

Business Insider: Former CIA director: I was concerned about ‘interactions’ between Russians and the Trump campaign.

Former CIA Director John Brennan, in testimony Tuesday before the House Intelligence Committee, said that he was concerned by some of the “interactions” between Russian officials and members of the Trump campaign that took place during the election last year.

Brennan’s testimony on Russian interference in the election came two months after he was originally scheduled to testify in an open hearing that was unexpectedly canceled by the committee’s chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes. He told the committee that he warned his Russian counterpart, FSB chief Alexander Bortnikov, in an August 2016 phone call against interfering in the presidential election.

“It should be clear to everyone that Russia brazenly interfered in our 2016 presidential election process,” Brennan said in his opening statement, “and that they undertook these activities despite our strong protests and explicit warning that they do not do so.”

Republican Rep. Tom Rooney asked Brennan if he ever found “any direct evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Putin in Moscow” while he was the CIA director.

Brennan replied that “there was intelligence that the Russian intelligence services were actively involved in this effort … to try to get individuals to act on their behalf either wittingly or unwittingly.” He added that he was “was worried by the contacts that the Russians were having with US persons” and “had unresolved questions” by the time he left office about whether” the Russians had succeeded in getting Americans to do their bidding.

More articles of interest about Brennan’s testimony:

USA Today: Ex-CIA director John Brennan: ‘Unresolved questions’ about Trump campaign ties to Russia.

CNN: Ex-CIA chief John Brennan: Russians contacted Trump campaign.

Think Progress: Trey Gowdy’s effort to throw cold water on Trump-Russia collusion backfires spectacularly.

Another big story this morning was the release of Trump’s ridiculous proposed budget. I’ll let you check that out at the links below:

The Washington Post: Trump proposes dramatic changes to federal government, slashing safety net programs that affect up to a fifth of Americans.

BBC News: Trump’s $4.1tr budget takes hatchet to safety net

The Washington Post: Larry Summers: Trump’s budget is simply ludicrous,

FiveThirtyEight: Trump’s Budget Is Built On A Fantasy.

NBC News: Trump’s Own Voters Would Be Among Hardest Hit By His Budget.

Business Insider: Trump’s budget only works ‘if you believe in tooth fairies.’

So . . .what stories are you following today?

 

 


Monday Reads: The Wheedle and the Damage Done

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I continue to believe that a huge number of Christians in this country actually make this the least Christian country on the planet.  After all, white evangelicals were the biggest chunk of voters that made way for Russia’s attack on our form of government and brought an insane man into the White House.  What type of people fall for cons? What type of people actually will damage themselves and their neighbors to feel smug and safe in their whiteness?  Better yet, what will the recently installed Pope say to President Swiss Cheese for Brains and the Gingrichs who play the pious game of “maybe for thee but not for me” with all the Jesus teachings.

You can have as many bible studies and prayer breakfasts as you want in this administration and the actions will never overtake the words passed into law.  What we continue to see is the rich and powerful destroying the lives of the weakest among us to provide lavish tax cuts that basically accrue value to no one but the person who receives them.

With that lecture, I give you the Republican and Trump Agenda.  We are seeing the proposals that will send many to their graves.  Paul Ryan is not nicknamed the Granny Starver for nothing.  Please don’t watch the Trumpical Clusterfuck Tour. Read what’s going on with the Budget and with the Department of Re-Education.

President Trump’s first major budget proposal on Tuesday will include massive cuts to Medicaid and call for changes to anti-poverty programs that would give states new power to limit a range of benefits, people familiar with the planning said, despite growing unease in Congress about cutting the safety net.

For Medicaid, the state-federal program that provides health care to low-income Americans, Trump’s budget plan would follow through on a bill passed by House Republicans to cut more than $800 billion over 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that this could cut off Medicaid benefits for about 10 million people over the next decade.

The White House also will call for giving states more flexibility to impose work requirements for people in different kinds of anti-poverty programs, people familiar with the budget plan said, potentially leading to a flood of changes in states led by conservative governors. Many anti-poverty programs have elements that are run by both the states and federal government, and a federal order allowing states to stiffen work requirements “for able-bodied Americans” could have a broad impact in terms of limiting who can access anti-poverty payments — and for how long.

Numerous social-welfare programs grew after the financial crisis, leading to complaints from many Republicans that more should be done to shift people out of these programs and back into the workforce. Shortly after he was sworn in, Trump said, “We want to get our people off welfare and back to work. . . . It’s out of control.”

Trump’s decision to include the Medicaid cuts is significant because it shows he is rejecting calls from a number of Senate Republicans not to reverse the expansion of Medicaid that President Barack Obama achieved as part of the Affordable Care Act. The House has voted to cut the Medicaid funding, but Senate Republicans have signaled they are likely to start from scratch.

As usual, children and the sick get the worst treatment. I suppose it’s only time that we see an end to child labor laws and poor farms established.  Either that, or we funnel every one to private jails.

But Tuesday’s budget will be more significant, because it will seek changes to entitlements — programs that are essentially on auto­pilot and don’t need annual authorization from Congress. The people describing the proposals spoke on the condition of anonymity because the budget had not been released publicly and the White House is closely guarding details.

The proposed changes include the big cuts to Medicaid. The White House also is expected to propose changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, though precise details couldn’t be learned. SNAP is the modern version of food stamps, and it swelled following the financial crisis as the Obama administration eased policies to make it easier for people to qualify for benefits. As the economy has improved, enrollment in the program hasn’t changed as much as many had forecast.

And they’re still after a the Affordable Health Care Act.  This amounts to a death by a million paper cuts.  You’ll notice most of this isn’t being rolled out with the same gusto as the Saudis welcomed Kremlin Caligula.

The Trump administration Monday plans to ask a federal court for another 90-day delay in a lawsuit over Obamacare insurance subsidies, according to two administration sources, leaving the future of the health care marketplaces in limbo through late August.

The suit, House v. Price, centers on Obamacare’s cost-sharing program, which reimburses health insurers to help low-income people make co-payments at the doctor or hospital. The legal motion in a case that was brought by House Republicans during the Obama administration is expected to be filed later Monday.

President Donald Trump has argued that the markets are fatally flawed and will collapse no matter what his administration does. He also suggested that the ensuing chaos could entice Democrats to come to the bargaining table and help craft a health care overhaul. But administration officials have said the payments would continue while the lawsuit is pending.

While another delay would stop short of imploding the markets, it still undermines the exchanges, by continuing uncertainty as insurers decide where to offer coverage and how to price it.

House Republicans charged the cost-sharing program was never legally funded in Obamacare. A federal district court judge ruled in 2016 that the Obama administration was illegally funding the program. The Obama administration appealed that decision but the issue was unresolved before Trump took office.

September 16, 2016

Meanwhile, Betsy DeVos is already steamrolling along. The plan that has completely failed in Louisiana is about to go National with this nut job in charge of the Department of Re-Education.  School choice is another term for segregated schools and public funding of religious atrocities foisted on innocent children.

Before she was picked by President Trump to head up the U.S. Department of Education, Betsy DeVos was the chairwoman of the American Federal for Children, a pro-school choice lobbying group.

When she visits Indianapolis Monday night, Secretary DeVos will address a sea of friendly and familiar faces at the AFC’s National Policy Summit at the Weston Hotel.

It’s expected DeVos will roll out a Trump administration plan to provide tax credits to corporations and individuals who donate money to groups and schools that provide school choice scholarships to students and parents.

“We see that this is a really significant opportunity for her to lay out a vision for what she sees as educational choice going into the future for all fifty states,” said AFC Spokesman Tommy Schultz. “I think Indianapolis and Indiana are great places to do it where Indiana has one of the fastest growing choice programs in the entire country.”

More than 33,000 Hoosier students attend classes in a private or charter school under Indiana’s expanded choice program.

“So a federal tax credit scholarship program would be a really great way to facilitate getting more families educational options for their child. We expect something like that to be potentially rolled out later this year,” said Schultz. “It’s purely folks giving charitable contributions to education scholarship organizations and then therefore they’ll get a credit for that.”

Indiana’s public school teachers fear the DeVos speech will be one more attack on the system that educates a majority of America’s children, many of them in struggling urban school districts.

“We are concerned that her speech is going to be about changes to the proposed federal budget and how that’s going to impact our students,” said Theresa Merideth, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association. “What we have is a voucher system now that funds kids who are already going, by and large, to private schools anyway, and there is no data that is showing they are doing any better that public school counterparts.”

Meredith said before- and after-school programs, and services aimed at special education youngsters, will be at risk from proposed Trump administration cuts to the federal education budget.

Make American White, Fascist, and Nutty Religious folks!  I really think their slogan should be Greed and Grifting is Good!  In that vein, the White House is trying to block ethics investigations of ex lobbyists now working in Federal Agencies and the West Wing.

The Trump administration, in a significant escalation of its clash with the government’s top ethics watchdog, has moved to block an effort to disclose any ethics waivers granted to former lobbyists who now work in the White House or federal agencies.

The latest conflict came in recent days when the White House, in a highly unusual move, sent a letter to Walter M. Shaub Jr., the head of the Office of Government Ethics, asking him to withdraw a request he had sent to every federal agency for copies of the waivers. In the letter, the administration challenged his legal authority to demand the information.

Dozens of former lobbyists and industry lawyers are working in the Trump administration, which has hired them at a much higher rate than the previous administration. Keeping the waivers confidential would make it impossible to know whether any such officials are violating federal ethics rules or have been given a pass to ignore them.

Mr. Shaub, who is in the final year of a five-year term after being appointed by President Barack Obama, said he had no intention of backing down. “It is an extraordinary thing,” Mr. Shaub said of the White House request. “I have never seen anything like it.”

There is some good news.  The Court System appears to be working as a system of checks and balances on all the crazies that have invaded the executive branches and legislative branches throughout the Country and in the District.  SCOTUS just told North Carolina its gerrymandering smacked of racism and rejected its proposed Congressional Districts.  Thomas sided with the majority and Gorsuch sat out so I’m no sure we can divine any future trends from this.

A divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled that North Carolina Republicans relied too heavily on race when they drew two bizarrely shaped congressional voting districts that were used until the 2014 election.

The ruling upholds a lower court decision that rejected the two majority-black districts and ordered a new map for the 2016 election. Even with the new lines, Republicans maintained their hold on 10 of the state’s 13 districts.

Writing for the court, Justice Elena Kagan said a three-judge panel had sufficient grounds for concluding that race, and not politics, was the driving factor in setting out the lines. She also backed the lower court’s conclusion that the district lines weren’t needed to comply with a federal voting-rights law.

“A state may not use race as the predominant factor in drawing district lines unless it has a compelling reason,” Kagan wrote.

The case produced an unusual split. Justice Clarence Thomas, perhaps the most conservative justice, joined the court’s four liberals in the majority. Thomas is a staunch opponent of the use of race in drawing district lines, no matter which side benefits.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Anthony Kennedy issued a partial dissent saying they would have upheld one of the districts. Justice Neil Gorsuch didn’t take part in the case, which was argued before he joined the court.

The contested districts were both held by black Democrats. Critics said the goal was to dilute minority voting strength outside of those two districts and preserve the power of neighboring white Republicans.

North Carolina officials said they were trying to preserve black majorities and comply with the Voting Rights Act, the landmark 1965 law designed to protect racial minorities. North Carolina also contended that, with regard to one of its disputed districts, map-drawers were legitimately motivated by politics.

One of the disputed districts — the 12th District, held by Representative Alma Adams — was 120 miles long, snaking from Charlotte to Greensboro and roughly tracking Interstate 85. The other — the 1st District, held by Representative G.K. Butterfield — was in the northeastern part of the state, with tendrils that captured black areas further south and west.

The 12th District has been the subject of repeated court challenges over the years. The latest case represented the fifth time the Supreme Court had examined the district.

Flynn will be evoking the Fifth Amendment.   They probably have enough on him that it won’t mean much.

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn will invoke his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination on Monday as he notifies the Senate Intelligence committee that he will not comply with a subpoena seeking documents.

That’s according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private interactions between Flynn and the committee.

Flynn’s decision comes less than two weeks after the committee issued a subpoena for Flynn’s documents as part of the panel’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.

Legal experts have said Flynn was unlikely to turn over the personal documents without immunity because he would be waiving some of his constitutional protections by doing so. Flynn has previously sought immunity from “unfair prosecution” to cooperate with the committee.

Simon Maloy argues that the Trump White House is collapsing in an op ed for The Week.

Just as Air Force One was lifting off to ferry Trump to Riyadh, The New York Times and The Washington Post each published seismically significant pieces on the White House’s ever-expanding Russia scandal. The Timesreported that Trump, during an Oval Office meeting the day after he fired FBI Director James Comey, told high-level Russian officials that Comey was a “nut job” and firing him had relieved the “great pressure” Trump felt “because of Russia.” The Post, meanwhile, reported that the Justice Department’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s links to Russia has identified a senior White House official as “a significant person of interest.”

Shortly after the Times and Post stories hit, CNN came through with another big scoop, reporting that Russian officials had boasted during the 2016 campaign that they could use former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to influence Trump and his associates.

The Times piece in particular is brutal for Trump. At the time the president divulged to the Russians his motivation for firing his FBI director, the administration was still sticking to its ridiculous story that Comey lost his job because he botched the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. That means officials from an adversarial government knew the White House wasn’t being honest about a politically explosive subject.

On top of that, Trump’s comments to the Russians could become the focus of an obstruction of justice inquiry by special counsel Robert Mueller, who was tapped to assume control of the Russia investigation following Comey’s dismissal. Trump had already told NBC’s Lester Holt that the Russia investigation factored into his decision to fire Comey, and the Times report adds significant weight to the idea that Trump’s primary motivation in sacking Comey was to neutralize an issue that was damaging him politically.

The Post report, meanwhile, feels like the first strong indication that the Russia investigation has the potential to cut deeply. The fact that a senior White House official is coming under scrutiny is obviously a problem for Trump, but the Post also reported that the FBI inquiry now “also includes determining whether any financial crimes were committed by people close to the president.”

Financial Crimes is an interesting take given the Russian hacking of the US election and White House.  But, it’s a serious way to take down the Trump Criminal Syndicate.  This is from Josh Marshall writing for TPM.

We know – and this article confirms – that Paul Manafort is a significant focus of the probe. Even apart from his political work in Ukraine, Manafort appears to have a series of real estate deals, loans, etc. that investigators are looking at. So perhaps it’s something as mundane as stumbling across some kind of crooked, small-bore real estate ventures Manafort participated in while examining his business ties to people in Ukraine.

But my hunch is that it’s a bit more than that.

As you’ve seen, what I’ve been focused on in recent months are a series of business ventures over the last couple decades – either involving President Trump or his close associates – which seemed to rely on capital from people from the former Soviet Union or recent emigres from those countries. Trump himself, Felix Sater, Michael Cohen and many others figure into this as well as Manafort, Trump’s children, the Kushners and still others. My interest of course is to understand the roots of Trump’s affinity with the post-Soviet oligarch world and whatever financial ties or dependence he has on it. But even if you take the Russia/former Soviet Union connection with its geopolitical dynamics out of the equation, you simply can’t read over these deals and not see that Trump and his crew just play way out on the outer fringe of legality at best. At best. People who have done or subsequently did time in the US or other countries repeatedly appear in the picture. So do people from organized crime. A lot.

One thing you find looking through Trump’s history is that after his fall from financial grace a quarter century ago this pattern seemed to become part of the business model. Cut off from capital from the big banks and most people interested in not losing their money, he had to do business with people with decidedly sketchier reputations. Those people, often looking for places to park wealth in real estate, had to accept much higher levels of risk than people with clean reputations. That seemed to lead them to Trump.

Then there’s another level of it. Even apart from big bad acts and corrupt deals, look at the stuff David Fahrenthold dug up on the Trump Foundation and his Potemkin charitable giving. Beyond issues of possible illegality, the big takeaway there was that Trump operates with a seemingly almost total disregard for rule-following or even a lot of elementary record keeping. So on top of substantively shady deals things are executed in really slapdash and hazard ways. In other words, the Trump Organization sounds a lot like the Trump White House. Only it’s a private company, surrounded by a moat of NDAs, all examined by little more than the thin scrutiny of the New York tabloids.

Here are just a couple examples of some color from the kinds of associations and business dealings I’m talking about: one and two.

Follow those links.

So, I’ve just filled the page with over 3100 words and counting.  I think I’ll leave the rest to you this morning.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?