Thursday Reads: Just do it already!


I don’t know about y’all…but I’m tired of this shit!

If you say you are going to do it…do it!

And then there is this…

And for the final Tweet link of the day…

 

Now since y’all got stuck with me again today…yeah, if you didn’t notice, I’m covering for Boston Boomer today. (I’ve tried to get this post written for the last six hours, but my motivation is seriously lacking.)

Taking the easy way out, here are some cartoons that we can enjoy today. A left over from yesterday.

 

This is an open thread….


Wednesday Reads: History Repeating… Hump Day Cartoons 

Think of tRump and his Regime as

Super Horse…

Nothing to see here:

 

 

After the Tuesday Massacre a lot of newsy people were using Nixon as a callback…a reference to history repeating.

History News Network | The Firing of the FBI Director: What Historians Are Saying on Social Media

(Historians are not so quick to make that assessment.)

I actually think this is much worse…

 

 

But I have to say…I love the little hands flipping the bird, yeah…that is tRump alright. Giving us the old “Fuck You America!”

 

In other troubling news:

 

Oh yeah….by the way…

Bottom line:

Here are your cartoons for today:

 

 

 

From last week, this cartoon seems strange now:

 

 

 

I will go ahead and hit publish on this post…because so much is fucking going on:

 

 

 

tRump is also re-tweeting Drudge report….ugh.

 

Y’all know what to do…it is an open thread!

 

 

 

 


Sunday Reads: Creature Congress, Chamber of Chills

 

Chamber of the House of Representatives

Today’s theme is a little tongue in cheek. Because I think personally, any of the creatures featured in the post would have more heart than the real monsters in the House of Representatives who voted for the tRumpcare bill.

First let’s get this out of the way….

It called out to me…I guess you can see why.

And they are in the House and Senate…and White House!

Republicans tout GOP healthcare bill on Sunday shows | TheHill

Republicans on Sunday touted the GOP healthcare bill days after it narrowly passed the House, framing the plan as a “rescue mission” for the “collapsing” ObamaCare.

Members of President Trump’s administration and GOP House leaders were out in force praising the plan and commending the president for keeping his promises to the American people. Meanwhile, Republican senators were somewhat more cautious on the House victory, expressing reservations and tempering expectations.

Of course this campaign is full of lies…

An unbelievable thing emerges from the House of Representatives, and refuses to tell the truth about the GOP Healthcare Bill

 

Tom Price says Americans will “absolutely not” lose Medicaid under GOP plan. That’s not true. – Vox

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price gave multiple interviews Sunday morning, defending the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.

He repeatedly made false promises about what the American Health Care Act would do. He told CNN that the bill would “absolutely not” result in millions of Americans losing Medicaid. He told NBC that the goal of the Republican plan is to “make certain that every single person has health coverage.”

Non-partisan analysis of the Republican health care bill shows that neither of these claims are true. The Republican plan would result in millions of Americans losing Medicaid coverage. Passing the bill would reduce rather than increase how many people have coverage.

Price’s Sunday interviews were an echo of answers that President Trump has given to defend the Republican bill. He has described it as protecting people with pre-existing conditions and reducing deductibles, while it does neither of those things.

The Trump administration offers an appealing vision of what health care could look like in the United States, a future where everyone has robust insurance coverage at a low price.

But American Health Care Act does not deliver on that vision. And if it passes, and its big cuts to Obamacare’s coverage expansion go into effect, Trump and Price will be forced to confront that reality.

More at the link of course…

The horror of the ages…formula for death.

Premium Increases Under Republican Healthcare Plan

Got Asthma? That’ll Cost You $4,000 Extra Under the Republican Plan
Diabetes? That’s over $5,000.

Using data on how much insurance companies think someone with various conditions will cost them, CAP issued estimates for the premium surcharge—that is, how much more you’d pay—for a 40-year-old with those conditions. They even included the 1.5 percent premium reduction they estimate would result from a high-risk pool. The results still aren’t pretty:

  • Asthma: $4,270
  • Rheumatoid arthritis and specified autoimmune disorders: $26,180
  • Diabetes: $5,510
  • Pregnancy: $17,060
  • Autism: $5,420
  • Seizure disorders: $7,190
  • Colorectal, breast, kidney, and other cancers: $28,230
  • Lung, brain, and other severe cancers: $71,880
  • Metastatic cancer: $140,510

If this seems like a bad idea, or even if you just would like to see the CBO and other organizations give their own evaluations of the bill before Paul Ryan shoves it through the House, today is a good day to call your congressman. Here’s a directory.

This post from an ER doctor seems fitting enough:

For those of you in Georgia, this link will give you the creeps: This Chart Shows How Many People in Your District Will Lose Health Insurance Under Obamacare Repeal

Disgusting.

On the topic of women…

 

Is there no end to the oppression of women? Make sexual assault a pre-existing condition…so women won’t report rape and lose their health insurance coverage.

 

 

 

Why are the women always wearing Handmaid color dresses?

 

 

 

This Boat Sails Women Into International Waters To Give Abortions | HuffPost

Yes, all that just to take a pill…

 

 

 

 

 

Because, they have the nerve to kill you off…by passing tRumpcare.

 

The crawling horror of Paul Ryan and the rest of the monsters…even creatures like the Mummy know how bad they are.

Next up, some world news…

Macron to become next French president after beating back Le Pen and her populist tide – The Washington Post

Chibok schoolgirls were swapped for 5 Boko Haram commanders – NY Daily News

Reporters barred from Kushner Companies’ visa-for-investment event in China | Reuters

 

Here is the original story from The Hill:

Eric Trump in 2014: ‘We have all the funding we need out of Russia’ | TheHill

It came from the bottom of the world, and into the House of Representatives.

 

The obsession with repeal of Obamacare

 

If only…

 

I would not expect it to be the “last” time.

 

This is the real wall we need, the kind to protect us from the GOP!

 

Ending with this video…don’t know the veracity of the facts…but innit nice to think so.

 

Have a good evening…This is an open thread.

Paul Ryan celebrating with a Bud…after passing GOP healthcare bill.


Sunday Reads: You’re not like other girls…

 

This will be a quick post, and it won’t mention a tRump at all.

Well, except for this little tidbit…

Democratic women senators not allowed to meet with Trump’s pick for stolen SCOTUS seat – Shareblue

Republicans are demanding Democratic support for Donald Trump’s nominee to the stolen Supreme Court seat, but the White House is denying some Democratic women the opportunity to even meet with him for questioning.

Not surprising when his VP won’t even have dinner with any woman other than his wife.

Mike Pence doesn’t eat alone with women. That speaks volumes | Jessica Valenti | Opinion | The Guardian

The vice-president’s rule is insulting for men and limiting for women. But let’s not let Pence’s sexism distract us from his whole party’s sexist agenda

Also, on that note…Mike Pence strips women of healthcare with tie-breaking Senate vote

Vice President Mike Pence just used his powers in the Senate to be the lone decider in whether or not women will have access to crucial healthcare coverage.

In a 51-50 vote, Senate Republicans — with a few members defecting to side with Democrats — just repealed an Obama-era regulation that puts states “on notice” with respect to funding Planned Parenthood health centers. The initial regulation stipulated that states that sought to deny Title X funding — which goes to groups like Planned Parenthood that provide low-income Americans with affordable family planning services — would be in violation of federal law.

The National Women’s Law Center broke down the harm that the latest decision by Vice President Pence and Senate Republicans would cause to low-income women in a recent blog post:

Breast exams—which were provided to over 1 million women nationally at Title X sites in 2015;

Other important confidential preventive care, including screenings for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)/HIV, and health education; and

Contraceptive care and counseling that helped women avoid 904,000 unintended pregnancies, which would have resulted in 439,000 unplanned births in 2014.

The move to relieve states attempting to cut Title X grants to dry up Planned Parenthood’s funding comes on the heels of the Republicans’ embarrassing Trumpcare defeat last week, when President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan’s proposed healthcare overhaul didn’t even receive a vote in the heavily Republican House of Representatives. With Pence’s latest tiebreaker, Republicans will now no longer be 0-1 in fulfilling campaign promises related to taking away healthcare for low-income people.

What a way to end out the month that was supposed to celebrate women…

Fucking hell.

 

Is she locking him up? I prefer to think she is….

It is constantly amazing to me how the right can continue to put forth life threatening laws like this:

Lawmaker: Miscarrying women must carry dead fetuses to term – SFGate

An Iowa state representative is under fire after saying women who miscarry after 20 weeks of pregnancy should be forced to carry their dead fetuses to term.

During a hearing Wednesday of Senate File 471, which would clear the way for a state ban on abortions after the 20-week mark, Republican Rep. Shannon Lundgren — the manager of 471 — faced a question from fellow Rep. John Forbes, a Democrat.

Noting that he has a daughter who is 20 weeks pregnant, Forbes asked that under the bill, would his daughter have to carry her child to term even if a doctor told her there was no longer a heartbeat.

“Is that good medicine?” Forbes wondered.

Lundgren’s response:

“This bill wasn’t written for the intent to protect or govern on the side of the woman. It was written to save babies’ lives, giving the choice and being the voice of those babies…that don’t have one. I understand what you’re saying—this fetus, this baby, is not alive. I would concur that in that instance, if your daughter’s life is not in danger, that yes, she would have to carry that baby.”

Sepsis anyone?

And this isn’t all that we have seen from the GOP this week…Georgia lawmakers cruelly mocked rape survivor lobbying against harmful bill

If you REALLY want to rage, watch this clip of Ehrhart saying being “falsely accused” is just as traumatizing as being sexually assaulted.

 

The year is 2017 and that video above still shows the dangerous repercussions of rape culture that is perpetuated by the patriarchy attitudes that show no signs of calming down. Take this incident, which is not in this country…but illustrates the point: Wealthy Man in Mexico Acquitted of Rape Because He ‘Didn’t Enjoy It’

A judge in Mexico has acquitted one of three men accused of raping a 17-year-old girl on the grounds that, as one activist described it, he “didn’t enjoy it.”

Diego Cruz, who was 19 at the time, and three of his friends, all sons of wealthy businessmen and politicians, allegedly abducted their former high school classmate and forced her into the back of a car as she was leaving a party in Boca del Rio, Veracruz, in 2015. The girl said Cruz and another man, Jorge Coahuila, grabbed under her shirt and shorts. A third man, Enrique Capitaine, raped her, while the fourth sat there.

Though Judge Anuar González acknowledged that Cruz touched the girl’s breasts and genitals, he found that Cruz’s action was “incidental rubbing” that lacked “carnal intent,” and was therefore not assault.

 

Wait a moment…is she shooting a bird? Flicking the finger? Giving the old, Fuck Off?

 

And you know, the fight…is a world wide assault. Over in Britain: Anger as tampon tax is used to help fund anti-abortion group | Politics | The Guardian

Seriously…no wonder so many women over the world took the Woman’s March to heart.

But let’s hear it for the women and girls who are standing up to the right.

 

‘They Don’t Care About Any Poor People’: Little Miss Flint Talks About Her City’s Water Crisis

Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny is Little Miss Flint. She is 9 years old and lives in Flint, MI. She told me that in her free time she likes to “go on Twitter or just play with my toys or just lay down in bed, read, and play with my dollhouse, and color and draw and cheer.” She hasn’t been able to drink the water from the sink in her house for 1,071 days, because, as she put it, “you might die.”

Copeny’s story has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

The water smelled bad. It gave me a bad rash. It smelled like bleach. We couldn’t use it no more. [We used] bottled water: 36 gallons for a bubble bath and so we could brush our teeth.

More stories of women and girls standing up below…

 

 

 

 

Want to follow some body positive folks: 6 Body Positive Illustrators You Need To Know About

Self-love is for everybody!  For those days then you feel like “ugh,” you need bright, cheerful reminders of how you are just perfect, just the way you are!  Here are 6 of my favorite body-positive illustrators to watch for everyday inspiration to love yourself and be kind to your body!

How about this: This Twitter Account Highlights Inspiring Central American Women Who Broke Barriers

With history mostly focusing on the achievements of men, it’s necessary to elevate the stories of women. As British historian and author Bettany Hughes states, “It’s the inconvenient truth that women have always been 50 percent of the population, but only occupy around 0.5 percent of recorded history. Physically the stories of women have been written out of history, rather than written in.”

That’s why the work of 24-year-old Zaira Funes is so important. During this year’s Women’s History Month, she fought this erasure by tweeting about inspirational Latin American women. Because the Salvadoran-American student chose to solely highlight Central America – an isthmus that’s also very familiar with erasure – she gave many a chance to learn and feel pride about barrier-breaking women from Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, and Belize.

Funes included a range of athletes, activists, singers, and everything in between. To wrap up March, check out these Central American women who made history, as curated by Funes:

Go to the link to read more and check those women out.

Yeah, tell him what for…

And since I am packing this post with links on women, why not post a story on…The Real Story of Elizabeth Báthory: History’s Most Prolific Female Serial Killer

Whenever you hear this story, you’ll find plenty more questions than answers. Was Elizabeth Báthory really the most prolific female killer of all time? Was she framed, a victim of being a powerful woman in a time when that alone was enough to ruin her reputation?

Or was she as bad as they say, a woman who had her henchmen gather virgins (up to 650!) from neighboring villages in order to bathe in their blood, a practice she believed would keep her young?

As with the majority of history (especially history about women and other underrepresented categories of people), you’ll just have to read what we know and make up your own mind, because there will never be a black-and-white truth.

 

Cool, innit.

Well, y’all know what I mean.

Now a quick video, because it makes me laugh every time I see it.

 

If you are on Facebook, then follow the next couple of groups. They always have interesting post.

 

And if anything is said of feminism…this must be: Intersectionality 

Let’s keep the women post going….

It's #transvisibilityday and I am sending love and strength to all my trans brothers and sisters and those who don't define as either.

A post shared by Alan Cumming (@alancummingsnaps) on

For some reason that Instagram of Alan Cumming is not showing up…this is the image btw:

 

We celebrated Transgender Day recently, and one story that went around the web caught my eye:

Transgender WWII veteran comes out as a woman at 90 | New York Post

WWII Veteran Comes Out As Transgender At The Age Of 90 | The Huffington Post

90-Year-Old World War II Vet Comes Out As Transgender  | GOOD

I put up three different links there…each has the same story but they all have little various details and quotes.

She looks skeptical…doesn’t she.

Up next…16 Lesbian Power Couples From History Who Got Shit Done, Together | Autostraddle

Lesbians are well-known for our unique ability to find a girlfriend and then turn that romantic relationship into an all-consuming life partnership — starting businesses, pursuing activism, revolutionizing social services, erecting schools, liberating marginalized groups. This is true today but has also been true since the beginning of time. Back in the day, many women were held back from activism and entrepreneurship by the demands of marriage and motherhood, making some women-loving-women uniquely able to pursue civilization-shifting ventures. (Although many managed to do both!) We’re gonna talk about some of those relationships here today.

For the purposes of this list, I defined “power couple” as a relationship through which both women were able to achieve greater professional, artistic or service-related success because of their relationship with each other. I leaned towards couples that actually made or did things together — whether that be starting a school, hosting a nightclub, creating social services for disadvantaged humans or making films. Also, as usual, the word “lesbian” is used as an adjective to describe a same-sex relationship, not the sexual orientation of the women in the relationship.

And for many of us, this next article may come as no surprise: What states have the best and worst quality of life for women.

Hawaii has best quality of life for women | Daily Mail Online

Ladies love Hawaii! The island state is declared to have the best quality of life for women – while Utah, Louisiana, and Oklahoma have the worst
A new in-depth study by MoveHub ranked US states based on the quality of life for women who live there
The site looked at factors like gender pay gap, political representation in the state legislature, equality in education, and accessibility to health insurance
It also examined reproductive rights and the number of incidents of violence against women
States in the Northeast and West mostly fared best, while Utah and a cluster of Southern states performed worst

I also thought this was a good story to share, ‘Penis Seat’ Causes Double Takes on Mexico City Subway – The New York Times

A seat in a subway car in Mexico City’s metro system caused a stir earlier this year. There were awkward glances. Visible discomfort. Baffled looks. Some laughs. And of course, the inevitable pictures from passengers’ camera phones.

It was meant to be provocative, and it was. A seat was changed to look like the lower half of a male’s body, including the penis, part of a campaign by UN Women and the Mexico City government to raise awareness about sexual harassment on subways.

On the floor beneath the seat, there was a sign reading, “It is annoying to travel this way, but not compared to the sexual violence women suffer in their daily commutes.”

Video and more at the link.

And finally….this last story:

The kingdom of women: the Tibetan tribe where a man is never the boss | Life and style | The Guardian

It’s a place where women rule, marriage doesn’t exist and everything follows the maternal bloodline. But is it as good for women as it sounds – and how long can it last?

A Mosuo woman weaves with a loom at her shop in Lijiang, China.

A Mosuo woman weaves with a loom at her shop in Lijiang, China. Photograph: Chien-min Chung/Getty Images

Imagine a society without fathers; without marriage (or divorce); one in which nuclear families don’t exist. Grandmother sits at the head of the table; her sons and daughters live with her, along with the children of those daughters, following the maternal bloodline. Men are little more than studs, sperm donors who inseminate women but have, more often than not, little involvement in their children’s upbringing.

This progressive, feminist world – or anachronistic matriarchy, as skewed as any patriarchal society, depending on your viewpoint – exists in a lush valley in Yunnan, south-west China, in the far eastern foothills of the Himalayas. An ancient tribal community of Tibetan Buddhists called the Mosuo, they live in a surprisingly modern way: women are treated as equal, if not superior, to men; both have as many, or as few, sexual partners as they like, free from judgment; and extended families bring up the children and care for the elderly. But is it as utopian as it seems? And how much longer can it survive?

Go to the link and read the rest. It is fascinating.

Well, that is all I have for you today…this is an open thread..have at it.


Lazy Saturday Reads: Trumpcare’s Ignominious Defeat and Spy News

Good Afternoon!!

Last night, for the first time since November 8, 2016, I went to bed happy. Thanks in large part to the millions of Americans who marched in the streets, went to town halls or their representatives’ offices to defend Obamacare, the attempt by tRump and Ryan to destroy the health care system has been thwarted–at least for the time being.

Trump is being roasted in the media. Here are a few stories to check out, links only because there are so many:

The Washington Post: ‘The closer’? The inside story of how Trump tried — and failed — to make a deal on health care.

Politico: Trump gets tamed by Washington (click on this one if only to view the absolute worst photo of tRump’s hair so far).

Politico Magazine: Inside the GOP’s Health Care Debacle. Eighteen days that shook the Republican Party—and humbled a president.

The Atlantic: The Republicans Fold on Health Care. The House abandoned its legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, handing President Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan a major defeat.

The New York Times: How the Health Care Vote Fell Apart, Step by Step.

Jonathan Chait: Why Obamacare Defeated Trumpcare.

I want to highlight one aspect of the tRump strategy. He let Steve Bannon talk to the Freedom Caucus, and it did not go well.

Mike Allen at Axios: 

When the balky hardliners of the House Freedom Caucus visited the White House earlier this week, this was Steve Bannon’s opening line, according to people in the conference room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building:

Guys, look. This is not a discussion. This is not a debate. You have no choice but to vote for this bill.

  • Bannon’s point was: This is the Republican platform. You’re the conservative wing of the Republican Party. But people in the room were put off by the dictatorial mindset.
  • One of the members replied: “You know, the last time someone ordered me to something, I was 18 years old. And it was my daddy. And I didn’t listen to him, either.”\\ [….]It’s hard to overstate the magnitude of the Day 64 defeat. President Trump, who made repeal-and-replace a central theme of his campaign, and House Republicans, who made it the central theme of every campaign since 2010, lost in a publicly humiliating way despite controlling every branch of government and enjoying margins in the House rarely seen in the past century.

More on Bannon’s role at The Daily Beast: Bannon Tells Trump: ‘Keep a Shit List’ of Republicans Who Opposed You. (This one was published before the bill was pulled.)

According to multiple Trump administration officials speaking to The Daily Beast on the condition of anonymity to talk freely, the president is angry that his first big legislative push is crumbling before his eyes—and his chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon is advising him to take names and keep a hit list of Republicans who worked for Trumpcare’s defeat.

“[Bannon] has told the president to keep a shit list on this,” one official told The Daily Beast. “He wants a running tally of [the Republicans] who want to sink this…Not sure if I’d call it an ‘enemies list,’ per se, but I wouldn’t want to be on it.”

One aide described it as a proposed “hit list” for Republicans not sufficiently loyal. Courses of action stemming from any related tally is yet to be determined, but the idea and message is that “we’ll remember you.”

Two senior Trump administration officials with direct knowledge of the process told The Daily Beast that Bannon and Trump have taken a “you’re either with us or against us” approach at this point, and that Bannon wants the tally of “against” versus “with us” mounted in his so-called West Wing “war room.”

“Burn the boats,” Bannon (in his typical, pugnacious style) advised Trump, according to one official involved. Burning one’s boats is a reference to when military commanders in hostile territories order his or her troops to destroy their own ships, so that they have to win or die trying.

Now let’s get to the really interesting stuff–the spy news.

Is Mike Flynn already talking to the FBI? I would be if I were in his shoes, and he has been awfully quiet since he belatedly registered as a foreign agent for his work in support of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. And yesterday we learned that Flynn proposed kidnapping Erdogan’s sworn enemy Fethullah Gulen, a former Turkish cleric whom Turkey has been trying to get extradited from the U.S.

The Washington Post: Pentagon weighs response to Flynn working on behalf of Turkish interests without U.S. permission.

President Trump’s ousted national security adviser did not seek permission from the U.S. government to work as a paid foreign agent for Turkish interests, U.S. defense officials said, raising the possibility that the Pentagon could dock the retirement pay of Michael T. Flynn.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said that the Defense Department is reviewing the issue. It arose after Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, registered retroactively this month with the Justice Department as a foreign agent for work that his company, Flynn Intel Group, carried out on behalf of Inovo BV, a Netherlands-based company. It is owned by Ekim Alptekin, a Turkish businessman who is not a part of the Turkish government, but has links to it.

The Inovo assignment centered on researching Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric whom Ankara blames for fomenting a coup attempt last summer and wants extradited from the United States, where he has lived in exile for years. That led Flynn’s company to conclude that the work “could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey,” according to a letter sent by Flynn’s attorney, Robert K. Kelner, to the Justice Department, along with the filing.

Flynn Intel Group received a total of $530,000 in three payments between September and November from Inovo BV before discontinuing the arrangement after Trump was elected president, according to Flynn’s filings. It is unclear from the paperwork how much Flynn personally profited from the deal, but he is the majority owner and chief executive officer of the firm. Kelner, reached by phone Wednesday night, declined to comment on the deal.

Flynn is in deep trouble, and now that tRump has thrown him under the bus in The National Enquirer, Flynn has plenty of motivation to start telling what he knows about the tRump campaign’s coordination with Russia to hurt Hillary Clinton.

In addition, we learned yesterday that the three other tRump guys who are under investigation, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, and Carter Page, have offered to testify before the House Intelligence Committee.

Next, we have the very strange behavior of Rep. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the Intel Committe, who appears to be working as a double agent for tRump. Nunes has given three bizarre press conferences about supposed secret information he got access to that may or may not show that members of the tRump transition team were caught up in surveillance of foreign actors. It’s obvious that Nunes is way over his head and doesn’t really understand whatever it is he saw. So far he hasn’t shared anything with the members of his committee. But where did he get this mysterious information? He isn’t saying, but here’s some background from Tim Mak at The Daily Beast: Devin Nunes Vanished the Night Before He Made Trump Surveillance Claims.

Rep. Devin Nunes was traveling with a senior committee staffer in an Uber on Tuesday evening when he received a communication on his phone, three committee officials and a former national security official with ties to the committee told The Daily Beast. After the message, Nunes left the car abruptly, leaving his own staffer in the dark about his whereabouts.

By the next morning, Nunes hastily announced a press conference. His own aides, up to the most senior level, did not know what their boss planned to say next. Nunes’ choice to keep senior staff out of the loop was highly unusual.

The Republican chairman had a bombshell to drop.

“The intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition,” Nunes told reporters Wednesday morning.

Nunes reviewed “dozens of reports” produced by the U.S. intelligence community that showed this, he added….

Where Nunes went and who his source was for this information—which he said was still incomplete—is now a mystery with serious repercussions for the independence of his investigation into Russian interference with U.S. elections.

“This information was legally brought to me by sources who thought that we should know it,” Nunes added.

Suspicions have been raised that Nunes may have gotten his information from the White House, and so far he has refused to deny it. So who could have been incidentally picked up on wiretaps? Yesterday, Dakinikat posted some links that suggest that person could have been Mike Pence. I’m reposting them here.

DailyKos, 3/22/17: Manafort made Pence the VP, they talked regularly during the transition.

The Daily Beast: 11/30/16: Paul Manafort Is Back and Advising Donald Trump on Cabinet Picks.

Finally, Bill Palmer pull the conspiracy theory together: Mike Pence appears to be the “Donald Trump transition team” member caught on wiretap.

This week House Intelligence Committee chair Devin Nunes got his hands on some kind of classified intelligence through unofficial channels, and it spooked him to the point that he broke every protocol – and may have broken his career in the process. Nunes insists someone on the Donald Trump transition team was legally picked up on a wiretap that was targeted at someone else. And it appears the person incidentally surveilled was Vice President Mike Pence.

Based on Nunes’ description, someone on the Trump transition team was picked up while speaking on the phone with someone who was the subject of a FISA warrant. Widespread media reports have long pegged four people in the Trump campaign’s orbit as being under FBI investigation: Michael Flynn, Carter Page, Roger Stone, and Paul Manafort. These are the four who could realistically have been the subject of a judge-issued FISA surveillance warrant.

Of the four men, the only one who is known to have had phone conversations with anyone on the Trump transition team during the transition was Manafort. And the one person Manafort kept calling? Mike Pence (source: Daily Kos. The two have long been aligned; Manafort went to great lengths to ensure Pence was Trump’s running mate. So it appears that Devin Nunes learned this week that Pence had been caught saying something disconcerting on Manafort’s wiretap. And that may explain why Nunes did what he did from there.

More at the link.

And we can’t forget James Comey’s surprise appearance at the White House yesterday. Will more shoes drop over the weekend? I sure hope so!

What stories are you following?


Wednesday Hump Day Cartoons: Nasty Scheme 

 

So, things are happening.

Westminster attack: woman killed and others left with ‘catastrophic’ injuries in ‘terrorist incident’ – live | Politics | The Guardian

U.K. Parliament Attacker Is Shot; Panic on Westminster Bridge – The New York Times

Then there is this…

Key witness in Preet Bharara’s Russian crime probe was just thrown from fourth floor of building – Palmer Report

Former Trump Campaign Head Manafort Was Paid Millions By A Putin Ally, AP Says : The Two-Way : NPR

 

Now for the cartoons.

 

 

Trump Rabbit Hole: 03/22/2017 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Trump Rabbit Hole

SECURITY BLANKETS: 03/22/2017 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - SECURITY BLANKETS

Confirmation Hearing: 03/21/2017 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - Confirmation Hearing

TWITTER-RANG: 03/20/2017 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - TWITTER-RANG

ST PAT’S DAY: 03/17/2017 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - ST PAT'S DAY

BUDGET CUTS: 03/16/2017 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - BUDGET CUTS

tRUMPCARE – CBO REPORT: 03/14/2017 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - tRUMPCARE -  CBO REPORT

03/22/2017 Cartoon by Nick Anderson

Cartoon by Nick Anderson -

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Tuesday Reads

Good Afternoon!!

As usual these days, I don’t know where to begin. We are living through something so strange and unprecedented that I just find myself shaking my head at each new revelation. Once again, I’m going to illustrate this post with baby animal pics, just because.

One crazy-making thing for me is the fact that the Senate is currently grilling a candidate for the Supreme Court who has been nominated by a man who may have committed treason. Neil Gorsuch should not be approved until the investigation of Trump’s involvement with Russia’s interference in the election is complete. I’m actually having difficulty watching the Gorsuch hearing. The word I think of when I look at and listen to him is “oily.” I hope some of you are following the questioning and can share your impressions.

I did watch the entire “Comey hearing” yesterday, and I’m still processing the latest revelations. I expect the press will be on this now and news outlets will compete to give us new information on a daily basis. We may have to function during political chaos for months and years to come. I can only hope the Republicans begin to develop spines as the 2018 election gets closer.

While the House Intelligence Committee testimony by FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers was still going on, White House spokesman Sean Spicer bizarrely continued to defend Trump’s accusation that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. He also claimed that Michael Flynn was only “volunteer” for the Trump campaign and that Paul Manafort had only a “limited role.”

Vanity Fair on the press briefing yesterday:

During the campaign, Flynn was a top adviser and, at one point, was vetted to become Trump’s running mate. He later accepted a job as national security adviser, one of the most important roles in the West Wing, before resigning 24 days into the new administration, after it was revealed that he had not been entirely forthcoming about his conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

“General Flynn was a volunteer of the campaign,” Spicer said on Monday, brushing off concerns that Flynn had been a high-level Trump campaign adviser with any degree of influence while maintaining ties to Russia.

On Manafort, CNN reports:

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer incorrectly diminished the role of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, remarks made at the same time as a House Intelligence Committee hearing investigated whether campaign aides colluded with Russia during last year’s presidential race.Spicer, pressed on a number of Trump associates’ connections to Russian operatives, claimed Manafort played a “limited role (in the campaign) for a very limited amount of time.”

Manafort was hired by the Trump campaign in March 2016 to lead the delegate operation on the floor of the Republican National Committee in Cleveland.

Manafort was promoted in May to campaign chairman and chief strategist. And when campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was fired in June, Manafort — who butted heads with Lewandowski — was widely seen as the campaign’s top official.

Manafort is largely credited with securing Trump the Republican nomination, through a mix of deep ties in the Republican establishment and tireless organizing to win the Republican delegate fight which almost derailed Trump one year ago.

I wonder why the White House is so desperate to disown Manafort, who is a close friend of Trump buddy Roger Stone and has lived in Trump Tower since for more than a decade? The Washington Post may have provided a partial answer this morning: New documents show Trump aide laundered payments from party with Moscow ties, lawmaker alleges.

A Ukrainian lawmaker released new financial documents Tuesday allegedly showing that a former campaign chairman for President Trump laundered payments from the party of a disgraced ex-leader of Ukraine using offshore accounts in Belize and Kyrgyzstan.

The new documents, if legitimate, stem from business ties between the Trump aide, Paul Manafort, and the party of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, who enjoyed Moscow’s backing while he was in power. He has been in hiding in Russia since being overthrown by pro-Western protesters in 2014, and is wanted in Ukraine on corruption charges.

The latest documents were released just hours after the House Intelligence Committee questioned FBI Director James B. Comey about possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow. The hearing that also touched on Manafort’s work for Yanukovych’s party in Ukraine.

Comey declined to say whether the FBI is coordinating with Ukraine on an investigation of the alleged payments to Manafort.

More details at the link.

Another Russia fan who is still in the Trump administration is good old Rex Tillerson. Have you hear about the recent changes to his travel schedule? This seems odd after what we heard at the Intel Committee hearing yesterday.

NBC News: Rex Tillerson to Skip Key NATO Summit, Plans to Travel to Russia.

America’s smaller European allies have expressed concern about President Donald Trump’s mixed signals on whether he would protect them against Russia.

The uncertainty threatened to deepen late Monday when U.S. officials said that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson planned to skip what would have been his first official meeting with NATO in April.

However, Tillerson will travel later in the month to a series of unspecified meetings in Russia, a State Department spokesman confirmed to NBC News.

Whoa! Skipping the NATO meeting and heading to Moscow? I’m speechless.

Here’s an interesting opinion piece by Walter Shapiro at Roll Call: James Comey and the Art of the Shiv.

Before Comey returned to his offstage role, he dropped enough bombshells to solidify his reputation as the most significant FBI director since J. Edgar Hoover. Joined by his crusty sidekick, Adm. Michael Rogers, who heads the National Security Agency, Comey gave an artful lesson in how to stick a shiv into a sitting president without ever raising his voice or making a specific accusation.

Early in the hearing, Comey shredded Trump’s cockamamie Twitter claim that Barack Obama had wiretapped him before the election. As Comey solemnly stated, “I have no information that supports those tweets and we have looked carefully inside the FBI.”

Comey had arrived at the hearing with his own smoking gun that he brandished at the beginning of his opening statement — official confirmation that the FBI is investigating “any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russian efforts.”

Comey’s offensive against the White House even extended to refuting a presidential tweet about the ongoing hearing. Connecticut Democratic Rep. Jim Himes asked Comey to respond to a Trump tweet claiming, “The NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence the electoral process.” Comey dismissed Trump’s fanciful version of the truth by saying, “It wasn’t certainly our intention to say that today.”

Shapiro thinks Comey’s “role in upending” Hillary Clinton gives him credibility against Trump. I’m not so sure. Still, the piece is worth a read.

This morning Trump went to Capitol Hill in person and tried to convince hostile House Republicans to vote for his disastrous health care bill. If this is how he negotiates deals, it’s surprised he didn’t have more than 6 bankruptcies.

The Washington Post: Trump to GOP critics of health care bill: ‘I’m gonna come after you.’

Assuring Republicans they would gain seats if they passed the bill, the president told Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, to stand up and take some advice.

“I’m gonna come after you, but I know I won’t have to, because I know you’ll vote ‘yes,’” said the president, according to several Republican lawmakers who attended the meeting. “Honestly, a loss is not acceptable, folks.”

But after the meeting, Meadows told reporters that the president had not made the sale, that the call-out was good-natured, and that conservative hold-outs would continue pressing for a tougher bill.

“I’m still a ‘no,’” he said. “I’ve had no indication that any of my Freedom Caucus colleagues have switched their votes.”

House Republicans made some changes to the bill yesterday, but according to Ezra Klein: The new Republican health care bill doesn’t fix the old bill’s problems.

There are three problems you could have imagined the manager’s amendment to the American Health Care Act trying to fix:

  1. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the AHCA will lead 24 million more Americans to go uninsured, push millions more into the kind of super-high-deductible care Republicans criticized in the Affordable Care Act, and all that will happen while the richest Americans get hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts. Voters — including the downscale rural whites who propelled Donald Trump into the presidency — aren’t going to like any of that.
  2. Virtually every health policy analyst from every side of the aisle thinks the AHCA is poorly constructed and will lead to consequences even its drafters didn’t intend. Avik Roy argues there are huge implicit tax increases for the poor who get jobs that lift them out of Medicaid’s ranks. Bob Laszewski thinks the plan will drive healthy people out of the insurance markets, creating even worse premium increases than we’re seeing under Obamacare. Implementing this bill, as drafted, would be a disaster.
  3. As written, the AHCA is unlikely to pass the House, and so GOP leadership needs to give House conservatives more reasons to vote for the bill, even if those reasons leave the legislation less likely to succeed in the Senate. For this bill to fail in the House would embarrass Speaker Paul Ryan and President Trump.

Of the three problems in the AHCA, the third is by far the least serious — but it’s the only one the manager’s amendment even attempts to solve. These aren’t changes that address the core problems the GOP health care bill will create for voters, insurers, or states; instead, it’s legislation that tries to solve some of the problems the bill creates for conservative legislators. It might yet fall short on even that count.

This is a trap for Republicans. Both the process and the substance of the American Health Care Act have revealed a political party that has lost sight of the fact that the true test of legislation isn’t whether it passes, but whether it works.

One more from Mother Jones on the Trump kleptocracy:

The Trump Organization Says It’s Vetting Deals for Conflicts—But Refuses to Say How.

The week after Donald Trump’s inauguration, as questions swirled about the ethics ramifications of his refusal to divest from his business holdings, the Trump Organization announced that it had created a system for vetting new deals that could benefit the president. The company said it had tapped George Sorial, a Trump Organization executive, to be chief compliance counsel and Bobby Burchfield, a Washington-based corporate lawyer, to serve as an outside ethics adviser who would scrutinize new Trump company transactions for potential conflicts of interest. Trump’s private lawyer, Sheri Dillon, had pledged in early January that Trump would “build in protections” to assure Americans that his actions as president “are for their benefit and not to support his financial interests.” But two months into Trump’s presidency, there are serious questions about the rigor and transparency of the Trump Organization’s vetting process.

The first deal completed after Trump’s swearing-in suggested the vetting procedures are weak. This transaction, as Mother Jones reported, was the sale of a $15.8 million condo to a Chinese American businesswoman who peddles access to Chinese elites and who has ties to a front group established by China’s military intelligence apparatus. Angela Chen’s connections to Chinese officials and military intelligence evidently weren’t a cause for concern to the Trump Organization. The condo sale went through on February 21, with Chen apparently paying the $15.8 million in cash—roughly $2 million more than a unit one floor below. (Chen had lived in the same Trump-owned Park Avenue building in a smaller apartment for years. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump lived in the same building before their move to Washington.) Contacted by Mother Jones earlier this month, Burchfield, the Trump Organization’s outside ethics adviser, declined to comment on the sale or how it was vetted.

Robert Weissman, president of the good-government group Public Citizen, says the Chen deal raises questions about whether any real vetting happened. “Here, where we actually need extreme vetting, it appears to be absent,” he says. “It’s absolutely unclear if Burchfield or anybody else is doing anything pursuant to what they alleged they would do. And if they are, we don’t know what it is. But we should not presume it’s happening.”

On Thursday, Burchfield, a veteran corporate litigator who specializes in political law and largely represents Republican clients, declined to comment regarding the vetting process for new Trump deals. He would not talk about any transactions approved or denied since he began advising the Trump Organization. At Trump’s January 11 press conference, Dillon promised that the outside ethics adviser would provide “written approval” of any new deal, ostensibly explaining why a transaction does not pose a conflict for the president. Burchfield has not publicly disclosed details about the written approval process.

Read more details at Mother Jones.

What stories are you following today?