Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) leveled serious charges against the Trump White House on Sunday, saying U.S. policies toward Russia are being driven by what she called the “Kremlin clan” more interested in oil and personal business than U.S. needs.
Appearing on MSNBC with host Alex Witt, the California congresswoman said Trump’s recent attacks on the media are a way to delegitimize their reporting on his Russian connections.
Waters’ claims came just before the New York Times released a bombshell report stating that Trump insiders and associates were working on a plan to blackmail Ukraine President Petro O. Poroshenko in an effort to make the Obama-era sanctions disappear.
“Donald Trump is so outrageous that he thinks he can get away with saying anything,” Waters explained. “And he’s trying to get his supporters to believe that the media is lying on him because the facts are going to come out about him, his involvement with Russia, his involvement with Russia during the campaign and the connection between those around him and Putin and the Kremlin. And he’s trying to get his supporters to believe that when they hear this, it’s going to be a big lie because the media cannot be trusted, that somehow they are against the people.”
According to Waters, Trump is worried his supporters will start to put two and two together as more Russia revelations come out, including those involving the people he has surrounded himself with.
“They see that Flynn, who he had to fire, was talking with Russia about sanctions with the Russian ambassador,” she explained. “I believe that [Secretary of State] Tillerson, who was the CEO of Exxon, has as his highest priority getting rid of the sanctions. Don’t forget, he is the one who negotiated the deal with Russia to drill in the Arctic and that was stopped because Obama placed sanctions on them and they couldn’t proceed with that. And so Tillerson, who has this great relationship with Putin, is going to do everything that he can to lift those sanctions and that’s going to be their Achilles heel.”
Waters then said that Tillerson is just one part of what she calls the “Kremlin clan,” and that it begins at the top with Trump.
“Why does he like Putin so much?” Waters asked. “Why does he defend them? And I think it’s all connected to what I call the Kremlin Klan. All of these people around him that are connected to oil and gas in the Kremlin and Ukraine. It’s all about them. Just think about it. Manafort, his campaign manager, and who had to leave because it was determined that he had connections to the Kremlin and to the Ukraine and whether you’re talking about him or Roger Stone or some of the others, they are all about oil and gas and they thought that if they elected Trump, that somehow they were going to have someone friendly to them that would help lift these sanctions and this Kremlin clan are all going to benefit from it.”
What we have instead are a lot of small, unanswered questions. Questions about Flynn’s behavior and the circumstances of his firing. Questions about the behavior of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and the circumstances of his firing. Questions about enigmatic remarks made by longtime Trump associate and veteran political operative Roger Stone. Questions about an obscure American businessman named Carter Page who maybe — or maybe not — worked for some time with the Trump campaign.
But there are also longstanding questions about the opaque financing of the Trump Organization, and about why its founder and owner has been so reluctant to engage in normal levels of financial disclosure. And most of all, there are questions about Trump’s highly unorthodox attitudes toward Russia, its government, and its leader, Vladimir Putin.
If Josh Marshall has read the tea leaves correctly, Sater may soon become a household name. Sater, Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and the Putin government have been hammering out a Ukraine peace plan, which Sater gave to General Flynn just before his resignation. Why is this shocking? Because — as indicated above — Sater is a shady, sleazy character, and Trump has been trying to pretend that he has no real links to the guy.
What’s really triggered the new intrigue was a Time magazine article that dropped the name Felix Sater. The article cited by Cannon on TPM. Josh Marshall has a good deal of questions on a guy who may become a household world for sleazeball. There’s no doubt in my mind that T-Rump sees himself as some kind of global oligarch in the Russian model. Putin is thought to be the wealthiest man on earth. Is Kremlin Caligula looking to set up self up similarly by pilfering US assets?
After the lawyers got involved, Trump said he barely knew who Sater was. But there is voluminous evidence that Sater, a Russian emigrant, was key to channeling Russian capital to Trump for years. Sater is also a multiple felon and at least a one-time FBI informant. Bayrock Capital, where he worked was located in Trump Tower and he himself worked as a special advisor to Trump. Again, read the Timesarticle to get a flavor of his ties to Trump, the Trump SoHo project and Russia. For my money there’s no better place to start to understand the Trump/Russia issue.
On its own, Trump’s relationship with Sater might be written off (albeit not terribly plausibly) as simply a sleazy relationship Trump entered into to get access to capital he needed to finance his projects. Whatever shadowy ties Sater might have and whatever his criminal background, Trump has long since washed his hands of him. (Again, we’re talking about most generous reads here.)
But now we learn that Sater is still very much in the Trump orbit and acting as a go-between linking Trump and a pro-Putin Ukrainian parliamentarian pitching ‘peace plans’ for settling the dispute between Russia and Ukraine. (Artemenko is part of the political faction which Manafort helped build up in the aftermath of the ouster of his Ukrainian benefactor, deposed President Viktor Yanukovych.) Indeed, far, far more important, Cohen – who is very close to Trump and known for dealing with delicate matters – is in contact with Sater and hand delivering political and policy plans from him to the President.
Here’s something astounding from WAPO. This certainly makes Watergate look like a Piker’s Ball. You have to wonder what kind of stuff the Kremlin hackers got from the RNC and exactly who’s little gonads are swinging in the wind if it’s released.
President Trump’s personal lawyer and a former business associate met privately in New York City last month with a member of the Ukrainian parliament to discuss a peace plan for that country that could give Russia long-term control over territory it seized in 2014 and lead to the lifting of sanctions against Moscow.
The meeting with Andrii V. Artemenko, the Ukrainian politician, involved Michael Cohen, a Trump Organization lawyer since 2007, and Felix Sater, a former business partner who worked on real estate projects with Trump’s company.
The occurrence of the meeting, first reported Sunday by the New York Times, suggests that some in the region aligned with Russia have been seeking to use Trump business associates as an informal conduit to a new president who has signaled a desire to forge warmer relations with Russia. The discussion took place amid increasingly intense scrutiny of the ties between Trump’s team and Russia, as well as escalating investigations on Capitol Hill of the determination by U.S. intelligence agencies that the Kremlin intervened in last year’s election to help Trump.
The Times reported that Cohen said he left the proposal in a sealed envelope in the office of then-national security adviser Michael T. Flynn while visiting Trump in the White House. The meeting took place days before Flynn’s resignation last week following a report in The Washington Post that he had misled Vice President Pence about his discussions in December of election-related sanctions with the Russian ambassador to the United States.
Cohen, speaking with The Post on Sunday, acknowledged that the meeting took place and that he had left with the peace proposal in hand.
But Cohen said he did not take the envelope to the White House and did not discuss it with anyone. He called suggestions to the contrary “fake news.”
“I acknowledge that the brief meeting took place, but emphatically deny discussing this topic or delivering any documents to the White House and/or General Flynn,” Cohen said. He said he told the Ukrainian official that he could send the proposal to Flynn by writing him at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
A controversial and unverified dossier assembled by a former British intelligence agent alleged that Cohen had discussed Russia’s hacking of Democratic Party computer systems with a Russian official in Prague during Trump’s campaign, but Cohen and the Russian official have both denied that allegation. Sater had apparently been working on a plan for a Trump Tower in Moscow that was halted on account of Trump’s presidential campaign. Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall, for what it’s worth, thinks Sater’s inclusion in the report is a very big deal, since Sater was at the center of the Trump Soho development project in Manhattan, which Marshall notes was the Trump project with the most Russia-linked shadiness.
Trump says he has no deals in Russia. Sater, who's pushing for lifted sanctions, does business in Russia. Here's his actual business card. pic.twitter.com/qPuo93divb
Every time we turn around, there’s something new linking Trump to Russia. Just a few days ago, FBI Director James Comey briefed the Senate Intelligence committee about the ongoing investigation of Team Trump and its ties to Russia, and all the chatter afterward was about how the senators seemed kind of shaken by what they heard.
Who knows? Maybe it all turns out to be nothing. But there sure is a lot of smoke out there. It’s hard to believe there isn’t a fire too.
Economic Gain? Blackmail? Affinity for fellow thugs? Who knows what the motivations are for all of this. All I know is that our country is on the losing end of all this and I would hate to for us sell our allies out for rubles.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
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Yup, that cartoon is correct. tRump taking a dump on democracy.
I write this with a lingering migraine and depression that is going through the roof. So since my fingers can barely move without the will to make them…here are a few links to look through this afternoon.
Above are two promos for a new video on Maya Angelou…via PBS. It looks good…take a peek at that.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention genetic testing may help prove that untreated Flint River water contributed to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in and around the city, the MLive site reports.
More than 100 individuals, of whom 12 have died, have contracted the bacterial disease in the Flint area since the outbreak began in 2014. Michigan state officials suspected in early 2015 that Legionnaires’ cases may have been linked to Flint’s 2014 decision to begin using the Flint River as a source of tap water but didn’t make that suspicion public until nine months later. City, state, and federal officials’ failures to properly treat and monitor Flint’s tap water after the Flint River switch are also believed to have caused an epidemic of lead contamination.
The relevant CDC test found that a sample of water taken from the McLaren Flint hospital matched a sample taken from a Legionnaires’ patient who is not known to have received services at the hospital. The reason that’s important is because the state of Michigan is attempting to make the argument, disputed by McLaren officials, that the high number of Legionnaires’ cases during the outbreak that involved the hospital were attributable to the failures of its own internal water system. If bacteria found at McLaren match a patient who never spent time there, however, one logical possibility is that both the McLaren sample and the patient sample derive from a third, original source—like untreated Flint River water.
Even among the right-wing ideologues doing the actual presidenting in this administration, Stephen Miller stands out for the copious amounts of Kool-Aid he mainlines. Speaking to the New York Times, a Trump team colleague described Miller as “fiercely loyal” to the president, “a true believer in every sense of the word.” Though he joined the campaign in its early days, penning many of the apocalyptic speeches that won fear-drunk Republican hearts and minds, Miller recently got a lot more visibility after a string of television appearances in defense of the Muslim ban. At each stop, Miller showed a flair for the dramatic: he lied, he dodged, he put on his best tyrant’s voice and proclaimed the executive branch above the law. It seemed contrived and forced, like a politically precocious, weasley teenager’s idea of how to command a crowd. According to those who know Miller’s history, that’s not so far off the mark.
I could not read the whole thing. Right now I am in a fix, I wanted to adopt this little mutt puppy that was born on the night we thought my mother was dying…back the day after Christmas. But, now…my mom and dad are refusing to let me bring her home. My mom would be okay with another pug puppy…a 2000.00 pug puppy, but not the puppy that I’ve gotten attached to over the past 2 months. Anyway…that is that.
It’s day 29 of the illegimate presidency of Donald tRump and the chaos continues unabated. There are hundreds of stories I could share with you today, and it’s difficult to figure out which is most worthy of attention. I believe that Russian influence on our government has to be number one, but there are many other urgent issues as well. We can’t ignore the truly frightening story of what tRump is trying to do to undocumented immigrants. Of course there really are many more serious concerns, such as tRump’s refusal to accept advice from experts and his war on the free press. So here are a few stories to check out and I hope you’ll add more in the comments.
Physicians like me have also taken notice of Trump’s bizarre, volatile behavior. Given our experience, we can’t help but wonder if there’s a medical diagnosis to be made. After all, many medical conditions exhibit their first symptoms in the form of psychiatric issues and personality changes. One condition in particular is notable for doing so: Neurosyphilis.
Syphilis, a sexually transmitted infection, is sometimes referred to as “The Great Imposter” because of its ability to mimic many other conditions. It is commonly broken down into three stages. Primary syphilis is the most widely recognized form of the disease. It is characterized by the development of an ulcer, usually genital, a few weeks to a few months after sexual contact with an infected person. If the ulcer is not noticed, or not treated, it heals on its own, and the disease enters a dormant phase. But during this time, the bacteria—a spirochete called Treponema pallidum—spreads throughout the body without causing any symptoms.
Untitled, by Perle Fine
A secondary stage of the disease is seen in some patients weeks or months later. These patients may develop a variety of systemic symptoms, such as rash, fever, and swollen glands. If not treated, the infection enters a prolonged latent phase, which can last decades. During this time, it is asymptomatic and it is not contagious. In some cases, this is followed by a tertiary stage, which is the most serious and may involve any organ in the body. It is seen 10 to 30 years after the initial infection, and is best known for causing neurologic and neuropsychiatric disease: Neurosyphilis.
The symptoms of neurosyphilis are protean, varying widely from one individual to another. Commonly recognized symptoms include irritability, loss of ability to concentrate, delusional thinking, and grandiosity. Memory, insight, and judgment can become impaired. Insomnia may occur. Visual problems may develop, including the inability of pupils to react to the light. This, along other ocular pathology, can result in photophobia, dimming of vision, and squinting. All of these things have been observed in Trump. Dementia, headaches, gait disturbances. and patchy hair loss can also be seen in later stages of syphilis.
Beutler of course admits that he cannot make a diagnosis without more information and access to tRump, but he argues that Neurosyphilis needs to be considered as a possibility along with psychological disorders because of tRump’s own public admissions about his sexual history.
Night Creatures, Lee Krasner
Supposedly tRump is going to be interviewing candidates for the National Security Adviser position vacated by Michael Flynn. He has already been turned down by his top two candidates, Adm. Robert Harward and Gen. David Petraeus.
Sources close to retired Gen. David Petraeus say the White House eliminated the former CIA director from consideration for the open national security adviser post after he weighed in on the job during a conference in Germany this week.
“Whoever it is that would agree to take that position certainly should do so with some very, very significant assurances that he or she would have authorities over the personnel of the organization — that there would be a commitment to a disciplined process and procedures,” Petraeus said at the Munich Security Conference.
That pronouncement angered the White House as it deepened the sense the next national security adviser must assert authority over staff and the inter-agency process — highlighting the reason Vice Adm. Robert Harward refused to take the job earlier this week. Two sources confirmed to CBS News that Harward had demanded his own team, and the White House resisted.
Sources close to the situation said the White House is content for the time being with acting National Security Adviser Keith Kellogg and does not have a coherent replacement plan in place. Kellogg, a former commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, had been serving as chief of staff and executive secretary of the National Security Council when he took over as the national security adviser.
Apparently, tRump is determined to control the makeup of the NSC, including keeping Steve Bannon on the principals committee. It’s hard to imagine any experienced candidate who would accept that.
As President Donald Trump prepares to interview more candidates this weekend, accepting the influential policy-making post that oversees a policy staff of hundreds is now widely considered a high-risk gambit, according to current and former government officials and longtime veterans of the National Security Council.
Trump will be forced to “sweeten the deal,” predicted one former Republican NSC official, in order to enlist a high-caliber replacement following the resignation of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn….
Red Ikon, by Sonia Gechtoff
“I would want to know that I had direct, unimpeded access to the president whenever I felt it was necessary,” said Nicholas Rostow, who served as the top legal adviser to both Colin Powell and Brent Scowcroft when they held the post under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, respectively.
“Historically that job has been one step removed from domestic politics, and the national security adviser and his or her staff have always prided themselves on looking at things through the prism of the national interest — and therefore slightly less political than other positions,” added Rostow, who now teaches political science at Colgate University.
A former high-ranking national security official in the George W. Bush administration, citing the perils of navigating Trump’s dueling power centers, was far more blunt about the challenges awaiting Trump’s would-be national security adviser: “No serious person would take that job. It’s a recipe for disaster.”
If you’re interested in the Russia connection, I hope you had a chance to watch Joy Reid’s show this morning. She had a great segment on Russia’s reaction to the firing their obvious ally Michael Flynn. Here’s a piece Reid wrote about the situation at The Daily Beast: It’s Not Too Early to Ask: Are Even the Russians Turning on Trump?
Trump’s utility to the Russians has never been in his wackiness. It’s been in the potential for him to deliver, as President, a different U.S. foreign policy; one that deemphasizes the traditional Western alliances and frees Russia to operate in the European theater as it pleases, with lifted sanctions and a few lucrative bilateral oil deals to boot.
But Trump as President hasn’t shown any inkling of the kind of competence or political skill—or the political capital—to do any of that. Even his Secretary of State, Exxon’s Rex Tillerson, has sounded a dubious note about the extent to which the United States will allow Moscow to flex its muscle around the world, which had to be a great disappointment to his good friend, “V. Putin,” as Trump labels him in tweets, using the common Russian nomenclature….
Russian leaders seemed palpably freaked out when Gen. Michael Flynn, clearly seen as Moscow’s main man in Washington, was forced out of the Trump administration amid revelations that he conducted secret foreign policy on the phone with the Russian ambassador over Christmas, then lied to the vice president about it. It’s pretty difficult to imagine that Flynn acted without the direction, or at least the approval, of his boss, the then-incoming president.
But more alarming than the phone calls was the fact that Flynn was considered potentially compromised by a foreign power, by the Director of National Intelligence, the acting attorney general of the United States, Sally Yates, and others, and that the White House was told as much and still waited to act. Now, the Kremlin has reportedly ordered Russian media outlets to dial back their glowing Trump coverage, amid uncertainty about what comes next.
Read the whole thing at the link.
Origin,1956 by Jay Defeo. Access. #1980.24 Berkeley Art Museum and Film Archive, Berkeley, CA., USA
Time evidently doesn’t simply fly when you’re operating with daily emotional shock and awe and the chaotic actions of a mad king. It zooms at super sonic levels leaving stinky vapor trails and maddening sonic booms. It also seems like it never ends. The national nightmare continues after 30 days of hyper Alt Right policies and an Administration creating havoc and chaos what ever they do and where ever they go. Welcome to the 10 second news cycle. We are all ADD and PTSD now.
We’re nationally exhausted. The entire civilized world is exhausted. We’re in constant need of spiked hot chocolate, a warm blanket, and a long nap. Exactly what is it going to take for the Republicans to eliminate this massive onslaught of threats to life as the planet and country has known it? How much more of this are they going to foist on us so that their theocrats and plutocrats can tear down their pet institutions and feel secure for the time being in their enclaves of privilege?
Will this entire Democratic experience die on a cross of religious bigotry and greed while Hair Furor parties on in his Florida Resort Bunker surrounded by leaking oozing hack-able incompetents??
The Democrats and even few Republicans are questioning this so-called President’s mental health. What more does it take to send up the call for a series neuropsychological tests on the s0-called President? Can any one really tell us that Kremlin Caligula is functional in any standard sense of the word? How can we get Trump to a psychiatrist or psychologist? The man is in obvious need of help!
“Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) in a floor speech this week called for a review of the Constitution’s procedures for removing a president. He warned the 25th Amendment of the Constitution falls short when it comes to mental or emotional fitness for office.”
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) during a weekend interview with CNN’s “State of the Union” said that “a few” Republican colleagues have expressed concern to him about Trump’s mental health.
And Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) plans to introduce legislation that would require the presence of a psychiatrist or psychologist in the White House.
The Democrats justify their questions by pointing to Trump’s habit of making demonstrably false claims. At a press conference Thursday, he said he’d had the biggest Electoral College win since President Ronald Reagan, for example, when his margin was lower than either of President Obama’s wins.
Blumenauer told The Hill he started taking another look at the 25th Amendment because Trump had casually repeated easily disproven claims, such as stating that it wasn’t raining during his speech on Inauguration Day when it was.
“It’s not normal behavior. I don’t know anybody in a position of responsibility that doesn’t know if they’re being rained on. And nobody I work with serially offers up verifiably false statements on an ongoing basis,” he said in an interview steps from the House chamber.
But suggesting the president has a mental health problem invites criticism that Democrats are going too far.
“It’s divisive. The bottom line is, if Trump doesn’t succeed, we all fail. It’s time to give the guy a chance,” said Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.).
Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) and Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) both burst out laughing when told some Democratic colleagues were questioning Trump’s mental health.
“Are you serious?” Hunter asked. “Yeah, I don’t care what they say.”
That’s the entire deal. The Republicans keep acting like this is their new normal. This nightmare is their opportunity to gut every reform since The Gilded Age and maybe even before that. We have a daily constitutional crisis. It’s evident our election had serious issues and that Congressional oversight is needed on many levels. But hey look! HER EMAILS!! AGAIN!!! “Chaffetz seeks charge of ex-Clinton aide in email inquiry.” Did he ignore that extended live performance yesterday where our president did everything but literally froth at the mouth?
The Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, who has refused Democratic requests to investigate possible conflicts of interest involving President Donald Trump, is seeking criminal charges against a former State Department employee who helped set up Hillary Clinton’s private email server.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday asking him to convene a grand jury or charge Bryan Pagliano, the computer specialist who helped establish Clinton’s server while she was secretary of state.
Pagliano did not comply with two subpoenas ordering him to appear before the oversight panel. The GOP-led committee later voted to hold him in contempt of Congress.
Earlier this month, Chaffetz met with Trump at the White House and agreed not to discuss oversight. He has rebuffed calls for his panel to look into Trump’s businesses and possible conflicts.
Chaffetz said in a statement that allowing Pagliano’s conduct “to go unaddressed would gravely harm Congress’ ability to conduct oversight.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said pursuing charges against Pagliano would be a waste of time and money.
On Thursday afternoon, President Donald Trump’s staff corralled the White House press corps into the East Room of the White House so that he could sing the praises of his new Labor Secretary pick, Alexander Acosta.
This was the case only for first few minutes during which the president, visibly bored, read from a sheet of notes, sounding like he had just woke up from a power nap.
For the remainder of the marathon press conference, which lasted one hour and 17 minutes, Trump perked up and did what he has the most fun doing: beating up on the press.
He shouted about Russia, Vladimir Putin, and Russian intelligence. He vented about how unfair and nasty “the media” was to him, but took time to specifically praise friendly outlets such as Fox News. He tried to settle old scores in public. He touted the single national poll that showed a favorable approval rating. He continued to protest too much about charges of racism, and even anti-Semitism in his ranks. And President Trump revived Candidate Trump’s favorite campaign-rally applause line about how he has “never seen more dishonest media than, frankly, the political media.”
It was like he had never left the campaign trail or all the old talking points, pugnacity, and vitriol that came with it. The only thing that was missing was a jab at “Crooked Hillary.”
And as the official White House press conference disintegrated further into unhinged criticism and belligerent sniping, reporters seated in the East Room could hardly contain themselves. There was an awkward mix of laughing with Trump, and chuckling at him as the president kept venting and sneering. The reporters present couldn’t stop quietly gossipping about Trump.
“What is going on?” one journalist whispered to another. “This is insane” and “What the hell?” were other popular refrains in the room.
Given that we’ve got this nightmare partially due to the inability of the media to discern the Pandora’s Box of Trump’s Psyche early on, it only seems fitting they get the abuse straight in their faces. Embedding in the White House Press Corps should come with war zone pay and counselling for ongoing trauma. Still, the Republicans just appear to be hiding and doing what weasels usually do. They’re busy destroying stuff in their own little way. Krugman has a great op ed about the silence of the weasels. Well, he calls them hacks. But then he has to get it published on the NYT and I just press a button here!!!
The story so far: A foreign dictator intervened on behalf of a U.S. presidential candidate — and that candidate won. Close associates of the new president were in contact with the dictator’s espionage officials during the campaign, and his national security adviser was forced out over improper calls to that country’s ambassador — but not until the press reported it; the president learned about his actions weeks earlier, but took no action.
Meanwhile, the president seems oddly solicitous of the dictator’s interests, and rumors swirl about his personal financial connections to the country in question. Is there anything to those rumors? Nobody knows, in part because the president refuses to release his tax returns.
Maybe there’s nothing wrong here, and it’s all perfectly innocent. But if it’s not innocent, it’s very bad indeed. So what do Republicans in Congress, who have the power to investigate the situation, believe should be done?
Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, says that Michael Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador were “entirely appropriate.”
Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, angrily dismissed calls for a select committee to investigate contacts during the campaign: “There is absolutely not going to be one.”
Jason Chaffetz, the chairman of the House oversight committee — who hounded Hillary Clinton endlessly over Benghazi — declared that the “situation has taken care of itself.”
Just the other day Republicans were hot in pursuit of potential scandal, and posed as ultrapatriots. Now they’re indifferent to actual subversion and the real possibility that we are being governed by people who take their cues from Moscow. Why?
Well, Senator Rand Paul explained it all: “We’ll never even get started with doing the things we need to do, like repealing Obamacare, if we’re spending our whole time having Republicans investigate Republicans.” Does anyone doubt that he was speaking for his whole party?
Just three weeks into his term, Democrats, in and out of the media, smelled blood. Many already were going for the kill.
They won’t get it, at least now. Trump bought himself time yesterday.
In what universe was yesterday’s display of insanity a time buyer? We’re all getting used to gasping for air in 10 second or maybe minute news cycles. I guess if you were black, a woke woman or Jewish you heard a totally different set of dog whistles. This CNN headline says it all “Trump tells Jewish magazine’s reporter to ‘sit down,’ blames anti-Semitism on ‘the other side'”
He settled on a reporter who identified himself as Jake Turx, a reporter with Ami Magazine, which bills itself as “a new standard in Jewish media.” Turx prefaced his question by saying he did not see evidence the President or his staff were anti-Semitic. He even mentioned Trump’s Jewish grandchildren.
He then launched into the thrust of his question about bomb threats to dozens of Jewish Community Centers last month.
What we are concerned about, and what we haven’t really heard being addressed, is an uptick in anti-Semitism and how the government is planning to take care of it,” Turx said.
As Turx continued, Trump interrupted, “See, he said he was going to ask a very simple, easy question, and it’s not.”
The reporter said, “It’s an important one.”
“Not a simple question. Not a fair question. OK, sit down. I understand the rest of your question,”
Trump said. “So here’s the story folks. No. 1, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. No. 2, racism. The least racist person. In fact, we did very well relative to other people running as a Republican.”
Turx raised his hand again and spoke up.
“Quiet, quiet, quiet,” Trump replied. “See he lied about — he was going to get up and ask a very straight, simple question. So, you know, welcome to the world of the media.”
Turx shook his head, and Trump continued as if he himself had been accused of anti-Semitism, despite Turx’s preface.
“But let me just tell you something: I hate the charge. I find it repulsive. I hate even the question because people that know me — and you heard the Prime Minister, you heard Benjamin Netanyahu, did you hear him, Bibi? He said, ‘I’ve known Donald Trump for a long time,’ and then he said, ‘Forget it.’ So you should take that instead of having to get up and ask a very insulting question like that.”
Trump can make anything into something about directly related to his EGO by his screaming ID. Even I can see that and I’m not the Psych PhD blogger on the blog. I’m just the humble economist trying to deal with a continual onslaught of abusive, gas lighting insanity.
I just don’t know how much longer anything can take this constant assault. It’s an assault on our sanity. It’s national gaslighting. It’s destroying or nation’s rule of law and institutions! And just to prove yesterday’s rant about leaks was true and news being fake we got a wag the dog leak this morning. The AP dropped a story about using the National Guard for deportation efforts. Media outlets got told it was false AFTER the AP made the accusations. Then, there’s this …
Very good point. AP says White House & DHS didn't respond to requests for comment before publishing. Then WH/DHS quickly denied—only after. https://t.co/ZTo7K5aMbZ
It’s hard to know where to get started on the utterly boorish behavior of our of so-called President over the weekend. It’s only topped by his utter cluelessness when it comes to the decorum of the world stage. Our country makes Banana Republics look perfectly democratic and functional at the moment.
Today’s photos are of Saturday Night’s Krewe de Vieux Parade coming out of my neighborhood and heading into the French Quarter and downtown. It’s a political satire parade and you can see where it went this year. You can enjoy the fun while I write about extremely scary things.
In light of this, and out of worries about the White House’s ability to keep secrets, some of our spy agencies have begun withholding intelligence from the Oval Office. Why risk your most sensitive information if the president may ignore it anyway? A senior National Security Agency official explained that NSA was systematically holding back some of the “good stuff” from the White House, in an unprecedented move. For decades, NSA has prepared special reports for the president’s eyes only, containing enormously sensitive intelligence. In the last three weeks, however, NSA has ceased doing this, fearing Trump and his staff cannot keep their best SIGINT secrets.
Since NSA provides something like 80 percent of the actionable intelligence in our government, what’s being kept from the White House may be very significant indeed. However, such concerns are widely shared across the IC, and NSA doesn’t appear to be the only agency withholding intelligence from the administration out of security fears.
What’s going on was explained lucidly by a senior Pentagon intelligence official, who stated that “since January 20, we’ve assumed that the Kremlin has ears inside the SITROOM,” meaning the White House Situation Room, the 5,500 square-foot conference room in the West Wing where the president and his top staffers get intelligence briefings. “There’s not much the Russians don’t know at this point,” the official added in wry frustration.
So, it’s hard to know where to start other than our foreign policy has turned into a complete dumpsterfire. Instead of the usual State Dinner at the White House with celebrities, cultural and intellectual folks, political leaders, artists and musicians, and just basically the cream of the US crop, Japanese Prime Minister Abe got treated to a tacky weekend in Florida. The Taxpayers undoubtedly footed the bill and wrote a huge check to that tacky “resort” owned by the Uber Tacky So-called President. I’m pretty sure the Prime Minister wasn’t expecting he’d become a wedding crasher but I’m also pretty sure that every one knows that anything classy, dignified, and in keeping with decorum is off the table these days.
Then there was a phone call about North Korea taken on his cell phone in the middle of the public dining room.
What was happening — as first reported by CNN — was an extraordinary moment, as Trump and Abe turned their dinner table into an open-air situation room. Aides and translators surrounded the two leaders as other diners chatted and gawked around them, with staffers using the flashlights on their cellphones to illuminate documents on the darkened outdoor terrace.
The scene of their discussion, Trump’s club, has been called “The Winter White House” by the president’s aides. But it is very different than the actual White House, where security is tight and people coming in are heavily screened. Trump’s club, by contrast, has hundreds of paying members who come and go, and it can be rented out for huge galas and other events open to non-members. On the night of the North Korea launch, for instance, there was a wedding reception underway: CNN reported that Trump dropped by, with Abe in tow.
As a Mar-a-Lago member, DeAgazio already had remarkable access to a president that day. He had earlier snapped pictures of Trump and Abe golfing and of the president and White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon schmoozing guests.
Now, as a national-security crisis broke out in front of him, DeAgazio continued snapping pictures — and posting them on Facebook.
“The President receiving the news about the Missile incident from North Korea on Japan with the Prime Minister sitting next to him,” DeAgazio wrote as the caption for a photo he posted on Facebook at 9:07 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday.
Later, he posted other photos of Trump and Abe’s discussion, including some that seemed to have been taken from just a few feet away. Those photos have now been seen around the world, providing photographic proof of this unusual moment.
This description came from Richard “DeAgazio — a retired investor who joined Mar-a-Lago three months ago … ” as described by David Farenholdt.
But DeAgazio, for one, said he was impressed that Trump had not gotten up from the table immediately, to seek a more private (and better-lit) place for his discussion with Abe.
“He chooses to be out on the terrace, with the members. It just shows that he’s a man of the people,” DeAgazio said.
Membership at the Mar-a-Lago Club now requires a $200,000 initiation fee — a fee that increased by $100,000 after Trump was elected.
DeAgazio also posted photos of himself with a man that he identified as the military member who carries the “football” that would allow Trump to launch a nuclear attack. In that Facebook post, DeAgazio described how “the football” functions, but said that the military member did not divulge that information to him.
“I looked it up” on Wikipedia, DeAgazio said. “He didn’t say anything to me.”
Yes. A real man of the people. That initiation fee is about what my entire house is worth.
Oh, and the wedding crashing part came after the let’s broadcast stuff about North Korea around Florida thing and an embarrassing presser.
On Saturday, as President Donald Trump was hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, news broke that North Korea had launched a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan. CNN was the first to report last night that Trump was joined at the dinner table by his embattled national security adviser, Mike Flynn, and chief strategist Stephen Bannon. As Mar-a-Lago members dining separately looked on, they reviewed classified documents with Bannon and Flynn using their cell-phone lights so Trump could see what he was reading.
After that awkward exchange, Trump and Abe held a hastily assembled joint press conference where Trump made a statement that was shorter than his awkward handshake with Abe at the White House on Friday.
What did Trump do after that? Bunker down with his National Security Council? Spend the evening on the phone with his Defense Secretary James Mattis? No. CNN reported that Trump dropped by a wedding that happened to be taking place at Mar-a-Lago, took the mic, and spoke to the guests.
Earlier in the week, Trump had been criticized for leaving intelligence documents vulnerable to people without security clearance. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) noticed that the president kept the key in a secured bag while hosting people in the Oval Office, which is a bit like leaving your house keys in your front door while you’re having a party in your backyard. There’s no indication that anyone saw anything confidential in this incident, but this, Heinrich suggested, was “Classified 101.”
Compared to holding a national security conversation over dinner in the public dining room at his private club, though, the lockbag incident pales.
It’s not clear that anyone heard particulars of the conversation, but other diners certainly noticed. Richard DeAgazio was in the room and posted photos of the moment to Facebook.
Shock and awe aside, there’s this:
Why is this important? Mobile phones have flashlights, yes — and cameras, microphones and Internet connectivity. When Edward Snowden was meeting with reporters in Hong Kong at the moment he was leaking the material he’d stolen from the NSA, he famously asked that they place their phones in the refrigerator — blocking any radio signals in the event that the visitors’ phones had been hacked. This was considered the most secure way of ensuring that the phones couldn’t be used as wiretaps, even more secure than removing the battery. Phones — especially phones with their flashes turned on for improved visibility — are portable television satellite trucks and, if compromised, can be used to get a great deal of information about what’s happening nearby, unless precautions are taken.
President Trump’s national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, had a pretty wretched week. The Post’s reporting revealed that Flynn, contrary to his and the White House’s earlier assertions, had discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with Moscow’s ambassador in Washington prior to Trump’s inauguration. Flynn, according to intelligence sources, likely signaled that the question of sanctions would be revisited by a more friendly Trump administration.
In recent years, the dinner has become a star-studded event attracting A-list celebrities ranging from George Clooney to Helen Mirren to Lindsay Lohan, with politics mainly an afterthought.
This year, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair have canceled parties they traditionally host as part of the hoopla surrounding the dinner.
Also, many stars are avoiding the event this year and no “headliner” comedian has committed so far, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
– ‘Stick a fork in it’ –
Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan said the glitzy party and related events around it no longer seem appropriate.
“Once merely embarrassing and ridiculous, the annual White House correspondents’ dinner is poised to tip over into journalistic self-abasement,” she wrote. “It’s time to stick a silver-plated fork in it.”
Slate correspondent Jacob Weisberg echoed those sentiments, saying in a tweet: “Please cancel the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Unseemly spectacle, totally at odds with the press holding administration accountable.”
Well, Sky Dancers, have at it! I’m not sure I’m up to describing the many ways that all this is so very very very wrong.
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Now, I live in a neighborhood with babies, pets, old people, and unsuspecting tourists, etc. etc. etc. It turned out to be a training exercise at the abandoned Navy Base about 5 doors down from me. Ya think they could’ve told a few of us about this especially a few days after 9 tornadoes touch down all around us and 21 days into the chaos that is Drumpfistan.
I mean this seriously. Hair Furor has been promising to invade US cities with the army for days now so I figure mine’s as good as any because, well, you know, a lot of my neighbors are black and you know what kinda hell realm my neighborhood has to be in the eyes of Hair Furor. We also have lots of other folks here that are immigrants and do very terrorist type things like own corner stores and restaurants. We must be on his target list!!! So, what would you think if the Army started swooped in and exploding things on your city block at 1:00 fucking A.M.?
A federal appeals panel has maintained the freeze on President Trump’s controversial immigration order, meaning previously barred refugees and citizens from seven majority-Muslim countries can continue entering the United States.
In a unanimous 29-page opinion, three judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit flatly rejected the government’s argument that suspension of the order should be lifted immediately for national security reasons, and they forcefully asserted their ability to serve as a check on the president’s power.
The judges wrote that any suggestion that they could not “runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy.”
Threats against more than one judge involved in legal challenges to President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration have prompted federal and local law enforcement agencies to temporarily increase security protection for some of them, according to law enforcement officials.
CNN did not learn how specific the threats were, but law enforcement agencies treated them seriously and out of an abundance of caution, the US Marshals Service and local police increased patrols and protective officers to provide security for some of the judges, the officials said.
A spokesperson from the US Marshals Service declined to comment directly on the threats but said that while “we do not discuss our specific security measures, we continuously review the security measures in place for all federal judges and take appropriate steps to provide additional protection when it is warranted.”
The threats come as Trump continues his verbal criticisms of judges — something that has drawn concern from former law enforcement officials and others who fear that public officials should not target a specific judge, and instead base their criticism more broadly on a court’s ruling.
And hundreds of thousands of Iranians are taking to the street shouting “Death to America” in what looks like a full on self-fulfilling prophecy. Hillary warned us about this. The foreign policy and national security experts warned us about this. But, no, we have to be surrounded by racists and bigots with false narratives poured into their little tiny hands and minds. Day by day, Kremlin Caligula is the one that makes us less safe.
Hundreds of thousands of Iranians rallied on Friday to swear allegiance to their clerical leaders and reject U.S. President Donald Trump’s warning that he had put the Islamic Republic “on notice”, state TV reported.
On the anniversary of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled the U.S.-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, marchers including hundreds of military personnel and policemen streamed towards Tehran’s Azadi (Freedom) Square for the main event.
They carried “Death to America” banners and effigies of Trump while a military police band played traditional Iranian revolutionary songs.
State TV showed footage of people stepping on Trump’s picture in a central Tehran street. Marchers carried the Iranian flag and banners saying: “Thanks Mr Trump for showing the real face of America.”
“America and Trump cannot do a damn thing. We are ready to sacrifice our lives for our leader”, a young man told state TV, in a reference to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Last week, Trump put Iran “on notice” after a Jan. 29 Iranian missile test and imposed fresh sanctions on individuals and entities. Iran said it will not halt its missile program.
Leading religious and political figures, including President Hassan Rouhani, had urged Iranians to join the rally on Friday to “show their unbreakable ties with the Supreme Leader and the Islamic Republic”.
I bet Putin is celebrating again.
The happy news today is that nasty ass Jason Chaffetz had a horrid time in his town hall last night. Remember, this is Utah not Massachusetts.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) on Thursday faced a flood of protesters during a town hall in his home state.
Demonstrators repeatedly disrupted the House Oversight Committee chairman, challenging him over his treatment of President Trump.
“If you want to continue to look into [2016 Democratic presidential nominee] Hillary Clinton, I don’t care,” an attendee named Noor Ul-Hasan asked Chaffetz, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. “But why aren’t you checking out your own president?”
“You’re really not going to like this part,” Chaffetz responded. “The president, under the law, is exempt from conflict of interest laws.”
Chaffetz was a key player in the Benghazi and email investigations that plagued Clinton, a former secretary of State under President Obama. Shortly before Election Day, Chaffetz said he believed the committee had two years’ worth of material on her. Now he’s facing added pressure to apply the same level of scrutiny to Trump.
The Tribune reported Thursday’s event at Brighton High School in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, was at capacity, with police warning some would not be admitted into its 1,080-person auditorium.
Demonstrators repeatedly booed when Chaffetz mentioned Trump’s name, it said, and some held up signs reading “disagree” at the Utah lawmaker.
Remember, it isn’t illegal, facism, NAZIsm, or unethical when the President does it or his family does it!!!
Meanwhile, Besty just can’t seem to find the pencils in the Department and she can’t even visit a school. See Betsy run away. Run, Betsy, Run!!!!
That’s a photo of “thundersnow,” because that’s what I’m expecting to see during the Nor’easter that’s happening here today. I’ll be viewing it from my 10th floor apartment, so maybe I’ll get a good view when it happens. It’s been a pretty mild winter in the Boston area, but February is when we tend to get the worst storms and this one is supposed to be a big one–now they’re saying we might get 15 inches. I’m hoping it won’t last long. For everyone else in the path of the storm, stay safe and warm. We had a 55-car pile-up here yesterday.
The Northeast has gone from short sleeves to snow boots in less than 24 hours.
More than 2,700 flights were canceled and all public schools in New York City, Boston and Philadelphia were closed Thursday as some 50 million people braced for a nasty nor’easter that could dump a foot of snow or more — the largest so far this season.
The Latest on the Northeast Storm
Fifty million people from Maine, along the Interstate 95 corridor, down through Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., are being affected by a winter storm dumping about 2 inches of snow per hour.
Snow total estimates for major cities: Boston, 12-18 inches; New York City, 8-12 inches; Philadelphia, 3-5 inches.
A blizzard warning has been issued for southeastern Massachusetts, and eastern and central Long Island, New YorkRic. Wind gusts have reached about 50 mph in some areas.
More than 2,700 flights have been canceled, with at least 60 more already scrapped for Friday, FlightAware reported. Runways were temporarily closed at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport at 11 a.m. ET and could reopen by noon.
Schools throughout Boston, New York and Philadelphia are closed, as well as some government institutions.
So that’s a slight distraction from the political horrors taking place in our nation’s capital, but not enough of one. It’s ugly down there. Here’s the latest:
Donald Trump attempted to whitewash critical remarks made about him by his own SCOTUS pick Thursday morning. Even though a representative for Neil Gorsuch confirmed that he had expressed dismay at the president’s attack on a federal judge, Trump claimed his words had been twisted. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, told the media that the conservative judge said it was “disheartening” and “demoralizing” to see Trump attack a federal judge for ruling against his travel ban from seven Muslim-majority countries. Gorsuch’s camp confirmed that this account was true, but Trump still went on the attack. “Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who never fought in Vietnam when he said for years he had (major lie), now misrepresents what Judge Gorsuch told him?” the president tweeted. (Blumenthal has previously admitted lying about his military service.) Shortly after Trump’s tweet went live, Republican Sen. Ben Sasse confirmed to MSNBC’s Morning Joe that Gorsuch had made the remarks, adding that the judge got “pretty passionate about it.” Additionally, Sasse said, Gorsuch remarked that “Any attack on brothers or sisters of the robe is an attack on all judges.”
Every day there are new new horrors; it’s getting hard to keep up with the constant tales of corruption as tRump tries to turn the U.S. into an authoritarian dictatorship. Yesterday the Senate confirmed racist xenophobe Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. The day before it was Republican megadonor and anti-public school advocate Betsy DeVos who was handed control over the Department of Education.
The Sessions horror only slightly distracted from tRump’s completely unethical promotion of his daughter’s brand on Twitter (retweeted on his official Twitter account!)
My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday that Nordstrom’s decision to stop carrying Ivanka Trump’s clothing and accessories line is an attack on the president’s policies and his daughter.
Spicer told reporters during his daily press briefing that the decision — which Nordstrom said was a result of poor sales, not politics — was because of the clothing company’s displeasure with President Donald Trump’s executive orders and his policies.
“I think this is less about his family’s business and an attack on his daughter,” Spicer said. “He ran for president. He won. He’s leading this country. I think for people to take out their concern about his actions or his executive orders on members of his family, he has every right to stand up for his family and applaud their business activities, their success.”
Today Kellyanne Conway went on Fox News to promoted Ivanka’s products.
The White House should be used for service to the American people to whom it belongs, not as a marketing platform. https://t.co/HKotw3Ry8j
The biggest election-related scandal since Watergate occurred last year, and it has largely disappeared from the political-media landscape of Washington.
According to the consensus assessment of US intelligence agencies, Russian intelligence, under the orders of Vladimir Putin, mounted an extensive operation to influence the 2016 campaign to benefit Donald Trump. This was a widespread covert campaign that included hacking Democratic targets and publishing swiped emails via WikiLeaks. And it achieved its objectives. But the nation’s capital remains under-outraged by this subversion. The congressional intelligence committees announcedlast month that they will investigate the Russian hacking and also examine whether there were any improper contacts between the Trump camp and Russia during the campaign. (A series of memos attributed to a former British counterintelligence officer included allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.) Yet these behind-closed-doors inquiries have generated minimum media notice, and, overall, there has not been much outcry.
Certainly, every once in a while, a Democratic legislator or one of the few Republican officials who have bothered to express any disgust at the Moscow meddling (namely Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Marco Rubio) will pipe up. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi days ago called on the FBI to investigate Trump’s “financial, personal and political connections to Russia” to determine “the relationship between Putin, whom he admires, and Donald Trump.” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), responding to Trump’s comparison of the United States to Putin’s repressive regime, said on CNN, “What is this strange relationship between Putin and Trump? And is there something that the Russians have on him that is causing him to say these really bizarre things on an almost daily basis?” A few weeks ago, Graham told me he wanted an investigation of how the FBI has handled intelligence it supposedly has gathered on ties between Trump insiders and Russia. And last month, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) pushed FBI Director James Comey at a public hearing to release this information. Yet there has been no drumbeat of sound bites, tweets, or headlines. In recent days, the story has gone mostly dark.
Read the rest at the link.
Navy Seal William Ryan Owens, who died during Trump’s botched Yemen raid.
In the wake of the Trump administration’s first counterterrorism mission, which reportedly killed 14 al-Qaeda fighters, one U.S. Navy SEAL, and an unknown number of civilians in Yemen, the president and his press secretary have set a remarkably steep standard for when the administration’s military actions can be criticized: If the action is against an enemy and involves sacrifice, it must be accepted as a success.
That message was underlined by a series of tweets sent Thursday morning by Donald Trump, who was responding to John McCain’s characterization of the raid as a “failure.” McCain, as the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is one of the congressional leaders charged with oversight of the American military. But the Republican senator “should not be talking about the success or failure of a mission to the media,” Trump wrote. “Only emboldens the enemy!”
“Our hero Ryan [Owens] died on a winning mission (according to General Mattis), not a ‘failure,’” he declared, in reference to the soldier who was killed and his defense secretary, James Mattis.
On Wednesday, Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, similarly insisted that the raid was an unqualified success. “I think anyone who would suggest it’s not a success does disservice to the life of Chief Ryan Owens” and should apologize, he told reporters. “He fought knowing what was at stake in that mission. And anybody who would suggest otherwise doesn’t fully appreciate how successful that mission was, what the information that they were able to retrieve was, and how that will help prevent future terrorist attacks.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on Thursday warned that the country is heading toward a “constitutional crisis,” moments after President Trump attacked him for sharing Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s concerns with the president’s attacks on judges.
“I said to Judge Gorsuch and I believe that ordinarily a Supreme Court nominee would not be expected to comment on issues or political matters or cases that come before court, but we’re in a very unusual situation,” Blumenthal said on CNN’s “New Day.”
“We’re careening, literally, toward a constitutional crisis. And he’s been nominated by a president who has repeatedly and relentlessly attacked the American judiciary on three separate occasions, their credibility and trust is in question.”
The Sky Dancing banner headline uses a snippet from a work by artist Tashi Mannox called 'Rainbow Study'. The work is described as a" study of typical Tibetan rainbow clouds, that feature in Thanka painting, temple decoration and silk brocades". dakinikat was immediately drawn to the image when trying to find stylized Tibetan Clouds to represent Sky Dancing. It is probably because Tashi's practice is similar to her own. His updated take on the clouds that fill the collection of traditional thankas is quite special.
You can find his work at his website by clicking on his logo below. He is also a calligraphy artist that uses important vajrayana syllables. We encourage you to visit his on line studio.