Wednesday Reads: In the dark…

It is always in the dark lately, whether it is dealing with Russia or North Korea…or Puerto Rico..

Puerto Rico, Still Reeling from Hurricane Maria, Is Hit by an Island-Wide Blackout – Mother Jones

Puerto Rico’s power grid collapsed again on Wednesday, according to multiple reports.

The grid has been unstable since Hurricane Maria devastated the island in September. In the town where the storm made landfall, just 35 percent of residents had power when Mother Jones reporter AJ Vicens visited last month.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz tweeted about the collapse on Wednesday morning, calling it a return to the day Maria first struck Puerto Rico.

Officials say it could take 24 to 36 hours to restore power to the island, home to more than three million American citizens.

And then there is this shit:

And Now A Word From The Home Office: Russia Announces The US Position On Future US Sanctions Against Russia – Balloon Juice

The defenestration of Ambassador Haley continues…

From Tass:

MOSCOW, April 18. /TASS/. The United States has notified Russia through its Embassy in Washington that it will not impose fresh sanctions against Russia for the time being, a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry informed TASS on Wednesday.

“I can confirm that the US has notified the Russian embassy that there will be no new sanctions for some time,” he said.

The Washington Post’s Carole Leonnig confirmed this last night:

But it leaves an important question: who was informed first the Russian ambassador in DC or Ambassador Haley?

The US’s position on Russian sanctions has now been officially announced and confirmed by Russia through a Russian state news media outlet.

So once again we are in the dark…until Russia media, “sets us straight.”

As that interview with Carole Leonnig from Maddow stated, more information was coming forward. Here is Leonnig’s article:

More darkness….

 

All this going on meanwhile:

Mike Pompeo’s secretary of state position uncertain amid opposition | US news | The Guardian

Donald Trump’s nomination of Mike Pompeo for secretary of state encountered significant headwinds on Wednesday, as the Senate foreign relations committee looked short of the votes to deliver him a positive recommendation.

A majority of Democrats on the Senate panel announced their opposition to Pompeo, who has served as Trump’s CIA director and was chosen by the president last month to replace Rex Tillerson at the helm of the state department. Concerns over Pompeo’s nomination were amplified among some Democrats after it was revealed late Tuesday that he secretly met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang earlier this month.

Senator Bob Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the committee, criticized the CIA director for failing to disclose the North Korea meeting even as they discussed the topic privately.

“I don’t expect diplomacy to be negotiated out in the open, but I do expect for someone who is the nominee to be secretary of state, when he speaks with committee leadership and is asked specific questions about North Korea, to share some insights about such a visit,” Menendez said on Wednesday.

The uncertainty over Pompeo’s fate with the committee could force Republicans to take the unusual step of sending his nomination to the Senate floor without a favorable recommendation.

Last night the White House issued a statement about Barbara Bush, of course they fucked it up.

White House blasted as ‘sewage plant of ineptitude’ for writing the wrong year in statement on Barbara Bush’s death

You can go to the link to read the funny tweets.

One last link before the funnies, I have just a couple of weeks until my daughter gets married…so here is some new wedding dresses for 2019 from…hope you enjoy them: Spring 2019 Bridal Collections Archives | Tom + Lorenzo

04/18 Mike Luckovich: Vast emptiness. | Mike Luckovich

04/18/2018 Cartoon by John Cole

Cartoon by John Cole -

Sean Hannity: 04/18/2018 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Sean Hannity

04/18/2018 Cartoon by Nate Beeler

Cartoon by Nate Beeler -

04/18/2018 Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson

Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson -

04/16/2018 Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson

Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson -

04/14/2018 Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson

Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson -

04/18/2018 Cartoon by Nick Anderson

Cartoon by Nick Anderson -

Nick Anderson cartoon: 04/17/2018 Cartoon by Nick Anderson

Cartoon by Nick Anderson - Nick Anderson cartoon

Nick Anderson cartoon: 04/13/2018 Cartoon by Nick Anderson

Cartoon by Nick Anderson - Nick Anderson cartoon

04/11/2018 Cartoon by Nick Anderson

Cartoon by Nick Anderson -

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon: 04/18/2018 Cartoon by Clay Bennett

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon: 04/17/2018 Cartoon by Clay Bennett

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon: 04/12/2018 Cartoon by Clay Bennett

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

 

Buying Coffee: 04/18/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Buying Coffee

Tax Day: 04/17/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Tax Day

Scooter Pardon: 04/15/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Scooter Pardon

Ryan’s Resignation: 04/13/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Ryan's Resignation

04/18/2018 Cartoon by Scott Stantis

Cartoon by Scott Stantis -

04/17/2018 Cartoon by Lisa Benson

Cartoon by Lisa Benson -

 

In Trump They Trust: 04/18/2018 Cartoon by Jen Sorensen

Cartoon by Jen Sorensen - In Trump They Trust

 

04/18/2018 Cartoon by Tom Stiglich

Cartoon by Tom Stiglich -

So far that is the only Barbara Bush cartoon I could find…except one that I really didn’t like.

Not that that one is spectacular.

Anyway, would you believe I started to write this post at 12:30?

This is an open thread. A distracted open thread.

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Tuesday Open Thread

Marc Chagall: Over the Town, 1918

Good Morning Sky Dancers!!

This will be a short post, because I got hit with a severe migraine this morning for the first time in ages. I’m feeling too woozy to write much, so here are some links to check out:

NBC News: Desiree Linden, first U.S. woman to win Boston Marathon in 33 years, is ‘on cloud nine.’

Great long read at The New Yorker: A Voyage Along Trump’s Wall. Canoeing the Rio Grande reveals how life and a landscape would be changed along the border.

The Washington Post: Pruitt upgraded to a larger, customized SUV with bullet-resistant seat covers,

The Verge: Broadband adviser picked by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai arrested on fraud charges.

The Guardian: Scientists accidentally create mutant enzyme that eats plastic bottles.

Politico: Trump Administration Wants to Shut Door on Abused Women.

Politico: Cambridge Analytica created own quizzes to harvest Facebook data.

Not just in Philly. USA Today: Black man videotapes Starbucks’ refusal to let him use restroom.

Axios: Trump and Abe’s scandal-stained summit.

The Washington Post: Why President Trump can’t get the best people.

AP: Defending Trump in Russia probe? It’s hardly a dream job.

So sorry for the brief post. I will check back later on if I’m feeling better.

 


Monday Reads: Let’s talk about Comey and Culpability since he really didn’t

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

Well, I watched the ABC interview of disgraced FBI Director James Comey  by George Stephanpolous and came away underwhelmed.  I really don’t feel any news was made. The only thing I saw was a good case study of the White Male Savior prototype who just refuses to embrace the idea that he’s done wrong, he didn’t save the world, and likely caused an assault on all he says he holds dear. Comey is fighting to stay in denial. His demeanor spoke volumes.

My basic question remains despite the supposed answer of because he was saving Clinton from entering the Presidency under a cloud. Why did he say he’d do it all over again?  Why didn’t he listen to Yates and Lynch who said don’t do it?  I mean sheesh… he had to know the Republicans would make hay with all of that. They were gunning for Clinton for years. Why ignore Yates and Lynch (read this Vanity Fair piece for a good reminder) and tell Chavetz of all pseudo people? One hint to Chavetz that both candidates were under investigation would have knocked the wind right out of Chavetz leaking shit. The finer points of game theory do not mean you’re putting your finger on a scale. It just directs responses to a more manageable path. If you’re going to play great white male savior at least set the chess board up right. My answer keeps coming back to the white male savior complex.  He ignored the advice of the powerful women around him convincing himself he’d be able to rescue the powerful damsel in distress and save the country.

Anyway, the only heads exploding over this interview are in the FBI itself.  I’m just gobsmacked by the level of hubris personally even though it was wrapped up in a body language and facially expression that suggested a lot of counselling is required.

FBI sources who did not support Comey’s decision to announce the reopening of the Clinton email investigation still stood by him at the time and were outraged at the way in which Trump fired the director. He learned of his dismissal after reading it on a television screen inside the Los Angeles FBI building where he was speaking to agents.

Those same current and former FBI agents and officials—and others—did not respond well to Comey’s interview Sunday night.

Support for Comey has dwindled as those who worked closely with him and initially supported him began to see his book and his public interactions—including Twitter selfies in Iowa—as self-serving and gauche, four sources said.

Their anger has grown in recent months as agents have come to see Comey as the reason for the “current shitshow… that is the Trump presidency,” one former official, who voted for Trump, explained.

Here’s Lanny Davis writing Op Ed for The Hill that portrays Comey as a liar. The White House has been screaming “Leaker” and “Liar” for weeks now. Frankly, I think the only one Come has lied to is himself. 

On Saturday night, the great Wolf Blitzer interviewed one of his panelists about James Comey’s justification for violating over a half-century of Justice Department policies in Republican and Democratic administrations when he sent his October 28 letter to Congress in 2016, which cost Hillary Clinton the presidency.

Comey has repeatedly claimed that he was “obligated” to write his speculative letter because of a promise he had made to Congress to do so if “anything new” came up after his July 5, 2016, press conference announcing a new prosecutable case could be brought against Clinton.

When one of Blitzer’s panelists on Saturday night inaccurately repeated the Comey lie that Comey was “obligated” to send his game-changing letter to Congress because he had promised to do so, Blitzer should have interrupted and corrected the record. “No that is not correct — Comey only promised to ‘look at’ any new evidence, not to write his letter in the closing days of the election.”

Another form of a lie is by omission.

Comey knows — and knows that we all now know — that if he had done what in fact he had told Congress he would do, i.e., looked first before writing his letter, he and the FBI would have completed their review within six days, as we know happened between Oct 30, 2016, when they first began to look at Clinton emails on Anthony Wiener’s laptop, and Nov. 5, when they completed their review. And we know that they would have determined — as they announced on Nov. 6, two days before the election— that there was no “there” there in the Clinton emails, i.e., nothing new to change their July 5 non-prosecution decision. Thus, there would have been no need for Comey to write the history-changing Oct. 28 letter. And hence, Hillary Clinton, as all the data prove over the last 11 days in crucial battleground states, would be president today. During the interview, Comey also said that his decision to announce shortly before the election that the FBI was going to reopen the case was influenced by his belief that Clinton would beat Trump and his desire to make sure that the election During the interview, Comey also said that his decision to announce shortly before the election that the FBI was going to reopen the case was influenced by his belief that Clinton would beat Trump and his desire to make sure that the election results were viewed as legitimate.results were viewed as legitimate.

Of course the Trump Hate machine was locked and loaded this morning.

President Trump took fresh aim at fired FBI director James B. Comey on Monday, lambasting his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server and asserting again that Comey and another FBI official had committed crimes.

Trump’s comments on Twitter were his first since Comey’s high-profile television interview Sunday night in which he said he believes Trump is “morally unfit” to be president and that he hopes Trump will be voted out of office.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that Trump had watched “bits and pieces” of the interview but not the entire thing.

In his tweet, Trump complained that Comey “drafted the Crooked Hillary exoneration long before he talked to her” and asserted that in deciding how to handle the case, Comey “based his decisions on her poll numbers.”

This was the statement that galled me most. So, I’m calling it out again.  This allowed the Trump Team venom to target Clinton again.

During the interview, Comey also said that his decision to announce shortly before the election9 that the FBI was going to reopen the case was influenced by his belief that Clinton would beat Trump and his desire to make sure that the election results were viewed as legitimate.

There is a lot of other news today. Cohen hasn’t released his client list and is headed back to court hoping a Trump-filed injunction will save his ass from its destiny in jail.  The EPA chief is in serious trouble for all kinds of things.

I will likely watch the Consigliere match up this afternoon.

Withstanding the hearing is only the beginning of what could be an ugly legal situation for Cohen. No charges have been filed against him, but prosecutors asserted that he is under criminal investigation. Cohen, who professes a devout fealty to his boss, has spent more than a decade working alongside the Trumps, devoting his professional life to protecting them. He may now be in a position where he could be forced to choose between continuing that line of defense, or putting himself and his own family first. In my interviews with Cohen, he has always stated plainly, repeatedly, and in a Godfather-esque lingua franca, how unfailingly loyal he is to the president and to the Trump family. Over the summer, Cohen told me that he would take a bullet for Trump. In February, as the Stormy Daniels controversy heated up, he told me that he would do it again today for Trump and again for him tomorrow. “No question,” he said. Last month, he told me that it was his job to protect his client—his friend—and the Trump family.

Maybe, I’ll just take a nap instead.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Sunday Reads: Squeal in Louisiana

 

Some things are Twitter are so funny…take this for instance:

 

Seriously. Of course there is more to the story, I mean it has to deal with “gaiety” or should I say “gayiety”.

 

 

There has been so many stories of late, I’m just going to review a few…

Meanwhile:

And the tRump White House continue to gets it wrong:

 

 

And the responses to this latest Sanders shit:

 

 

Earlier this morning, tRump was off his nut:

 

 

 

Trump assails Comey in tweetstorm, suggests ex-FBI director deserves ‘jail’ – The Washington Post

President Trump sharply attacked James B. Comey in a fusillade of tweets Sunday morning, suggesting that the former FBI director deserves to be imprisoned and serving up several of his favorite theories and unsubstantiated allegations of misdeeds.

Trump’s tweets are part of a wider effort by the White House and the Republican National Committee to discredit Comey, who has written a damaging tell-all book, titled “A Higher Loyalty,” to be released Tuesday. A Sunday night interview on ABC News will kick off his national book tour.

Comey’s book is a scathing depiction of his interactions with Trump, whom he likens to an “unethical” mob boss, and casts his inner circle in largely unflattering terms, saying it was more focused on politics than national security.

More analysis at the link.

We all know that Paul “Munster” Ryan is not seeking re-election, this tweet is so on point.

Earlier this past week, there was a bunch of incidents against black people. When they happened, so much other shit news was breaking, many missed them. Now I’ve noticed an uptick in attention on twitter.

 

 

Another bit of news from last week, RIP Milos Forman:

Milos Forman, Oscar-Winning Director of ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,’ Dies at 86 – The New York Times

Milos Forman, a filmmaker who challenged Hollywood with his subversive touch, and twice directed movies that won the Oscar for best picture, died on Friday. He was 86.

His death in Connecticut was confirmed by Dennis Aspland, Mr. Forman’s agent, and by Vlastislav Malek, a representative of his hometown, Caslav, in the Czech Republic.

A native of what was then Czechoslovakia, Mr. Forman came to the United States in the late 1960s as a rebellious young filmmaker whose satirical bent was little welcomed at home in the wake of the 1968 Soviet invasion.

Just a few years later, Mr. Forman’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” — a tragicomic story of revolt and repression in a mental institution — won five Oscars, including those for best director and best picture.

The film put Mr. Forman in the front rank of those who struggled to make big, commercial films with countercultural sensibilities. His sympathy for the odd man out was always apparent, even as his movies grew in scope.

“Amadeus,” a 1984 adaptation of Peter Shaffer’s stage play, presented Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as a genius who undermined authority with his art. Again, Oscars for best director and best picture were among its many honors.

Still, Mr. Forman, by then a United States citizen, said one of his greatest pleasures from the film — which was shot in the Czech Republic — was the chance to return in triumph to his homeland.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest director Miloš Forman dies aged 86 | Film | The Guardian

Forman was born in the Czech town of Caslav in 1932; after the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, both his mother and father died in concentration camps. (Forman later discovered his biological father was actually a Jewish architect who had survived the war and escaped to South America.) After being raised by relatives, Forman joined the Prague Film Academy, and began writing scripts in the late 1950s, gradually moving up the ranks in the postwar Czechoslovak industry. His debut as director, Black Peter, about a teenager in his first job, incurred the dislike of the Communist authorities for its irreverent attitude, but after its prizewinning appearance at the Locarno film festival enabled Forman to continue directing.

[…]

The Fireman’s Ball was released in 1967 and Forman was then invited to the US by Paramount Pictures to make a film in America. After attempting to get the rights to the musical Hair, Forman began work on an original screenplay, for the film Taking Off. In August 1968 Czechslovakia was invaded by Warsaw Pact forces aiming to suppress Alexander Dubček’s liberalising reforms; Forman opted to stay in the US, where he was joined by fellow director Ivan Passer.

Taking Off was a flop on its release in 1970, and Forman suffered a breakdown, living in the rundown Chelsea Hotel in New York but determined not to return to Czechslovakia. At his lowest point he was offered the chance to direct One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, another anti-authoritarian parable adapted from Ken Kesey’s novel. Producer Michael Douglas later told the Guardian the hiring was on the strength of The Fireman’s Ball: “It took place in one enclosed situation, with a plethora of unique characters he had the ability to juggle.” With a cast led by Jack Nicholson at the height of his powers, Cuckoo’s Nest emerged as a massive success, a seminal product of the New Hollywood and winner of all top five Academy awards.

 

 

 

Miloš Forman: the director who brought the spirit of anti-Soviet rebellion to Hollywood | Peter Bradshaw | Film | The Guardian

The divine inspiration of madness – its ambiguity, its creativity, its higher sanity, and the cover and legitimacy it gives to protest against oppression and bullies of all stripes – these were the ideas which energised Miloš Forman in his remarkable work. He was the Czech new wave émigré who brought the spirit of anti-Soviet rebellion to Hollywood and made its sly comic strategies and humanist passion flower in dozens of different ways. He also became one of the many directors whose work was shaped by working with the great screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière.

Forman was a sensational Oscar winner with One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) starring Jack Nicholson as the hyperactive crook who fakes madness to get what he thinks is the soft option of a psychiatric facility; and Amadeus (1984), the gripping myth about F Murray Abraham’s thin-lipped Antonio Salieri planning to kill Tom Hulce’s impish Mozart – the mediocre rational careerist enviously destroying the disorderly genius. Forman became feted for conjuring drama and star performances from the bristling ensemble of smaller roles. And the madhouse scene, in all its poignant farce and Foucauldian political surveillance became a keynote of his movies…

So be sure to read up on those obituaries.

 

I am still dealing with wedding stuff, can’t wait until the day has come and gone…lately I’ve been working on arranging flowers:

I hope everyone is doing ok…this is an open thread.


Lazy Saturday Reads: A Friday the Thirteenth to Remember

Good Afternoon!!

I’m still in shock after yesterday. Was there another blockbuster story breaking every couple of hours or am I imagining it? The chaos just keeps increasing. How much worse can it get? I’m guessing a lot worse.

I’m not even going to try to recap all of the sordid messes that Trump’s past and present behavior created yesterday. Suffice it to say that Friday, April 13, 2018 consisted of breaking story after breaking story about Trump’s and his lawyer Michael Cohen’s corruption and criminality, ending with Trump pardoning Scooter Libby and then wagging the dog with another ineffectual strike against Syria.

Friday began with Trump raging  against James Comey and his soon-to-be-release book. Politico: ‘The possibility of Trump exploding has gone up.’

President Donald Trump decided to skip an international summit to stay close to home amid a swirling debate about launching airstrikes in Syria — but instead spent Friday tweeting angrily about former senior FBI officials.

“He LIED! LIED! LIED!” Trump wrote of former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, a career official who was fired hours before his official retirement in March amid an ongoing inspector-general review.

Trump went on to attack former FBI director James Comey and the broader Russia probe Comey once oversaw: “McCabe was totally controlled by Comey – McCabe is Comey!! No collusion, all made up by this den of thieves and lowlifes!”

The presidential missives were triggered by the release of a Justice Department inspector general report to the Hill critical of McCabe’s conduct. The report seemed only to further irritate the already amped-up president, who began the day tweeting about Comey, calling the longtime civil servant “a weak and untruthful slime ball.”

So dignified. So presidential.

Yet the main preoccupation of the president and the people closest to him remained Comey. The White House offensive is only expected to intensify in the coming days as the former FBI director embarks on a series of media interviews ahead of the book’s Tuesday release.

White House officials were scouring news reports and reaching out to allies who have copies of the book, hoping to identify passages that they believe undercut Comey’s credibility or make him seem sympathetic to Democrats.

Trump’s allies are keen to avoid a repeat of the fallout from Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury,” the hard-edged insider account of life in Trump’s White House that caught many in the West Wing by surprise and dominated headlines for weeks.

But so far, the White House’s strategy, or lack thereof, is doing little to stop the barrage of news stories about the book.

There’s much more at the link.

Much of the breaking news yesterday involved Trump’s personal “fixer” Michael Cohen. It appears that Mr. Cohen is in very deep trouble. Some links in case you missed them:

CNN: DOJ: Michael Cohen ‘under criminal investigation.’

WaPo: Criminal investigation into Trump lawyer’s business dealings began months ago.

NYT: Trump Sees Inquiry Into Cohen as Greater ThreWat Than Mueller.

HuffPost: FBI Seized Recordings Between Michael Cohen And Stormy Daniels’ Former Lawyer: Report.

NYMag: Report: Feds Seized Recordings From Michael Cohen.

NBC News: Trump lawyer Michael Cohen negotiated settlement between top GOP fundraiser, former Playmate.

CNN: Exclusive: FBI raid sought information on taxi owners linked to Trump’s lawyer.

Here’s the big one from McClatchy: Sources: Mueller has evidence Cohen was in Prague in 2016, confirming part of dossier.

The Justice Department special counsel has evidence that Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and confidant, Michael Cohen, secretly made a late-summer trip to Prague during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Confirmation of the trip would lend credence to a retired British spy’s report that Cohen strategized there with a powerful Kremlin figure about Russian meddling in the U.S. election.

It would also be one of the most significant developments thus far in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of whether the Trump campaign and the Kremlin worked together to help Trump win the White House. Undercutting Trump’s repeated pronouncements that “there is no evidence of collusion,” it also could ratchet up the stakes if the president tries, as he has intimated he might for months, to order Mueller’s firing….

Cohen has vehemently denied for months that he ever has been in Prague or colluded with Russia during the campaign. Neither he nor his lawyer responded to requests for comment for this story.

It’s unclear whether Mueller’s investigators also have evidence that Cohen actually met with a prominent Russian – purportedly Konstantin Kosachev, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin — in the Czech capital. Kosachev, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee of a body of the Russian legislature, the Federation Council, also has denied visiting Prague during 2016. Earlier this month, Kosachev was among 24 high-profile Russians hit with stiff U.S. sanctions in retaliation for Russia’s meddling.

But investigators have traced evidence that Cohen entered the Czech Republic through Germany, apparently during August or early September of 2016 as the ex-spy reported, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is confidential. He wouldn’t have needed a passport for such a trip, because both countries are in the so-called Schengen Area in which 26 nations operate with open borders.

Philip Bump at The Washington Post this morning: Michael Cohen’s visiting Prague would be a huge development in the Russia investigation.

A trip to Prague by Cohen was included in the dossier of reports written by former British intelligence official Christopher Steele. Those reports, paid for by an attorney working for Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, included a broad array of raw intelligence, much of which has not been corroborated and much of which would probably defy easy corroboration, focusing on internal political discussions in the Kremlin.

Cohen’s visiting Prague, though, is concrete. Over the course of three of the dossier’s 17 reports, the claim is outlined — but we hasten to note that these allegations have not been confirmed by The Washington Post.

It suggests that Cohen took over management of the relationship with Russia after campaign chairman Paul Manafort was fired from the campaign in August (because of questions about his relationship with a political party in Ukraine). Cohen is said to have met secretly with people in Prague — possibly at the Russian Center for Science and Culture — in the last week of August or the first of September. He allegedly met with representatives of the Russian government, possibly including officials of the Presidential Administration Legal Department; Oleg Solodukhin (who works with the Russian Center for Science and Culture); or Konstantin Kosachev, head of the foreign relations committee in the upper house of parliament. A planned meeting in Moscow, the dossier alleges, was considered too risky, given that a topic of conversation was how to divert attention from Manafort’s links to Russia and a trip to Moscow by Carter Page in July. Another topic of conversation, according to the dossier: allegedly paying off “Romanian hackers” who had been targeting the Clinton campaign.

There is a lot there — but it hinged on Cohen’s having traveled to Prague. If he was not in Prague, none of this happened. If he visited Prague? Well, then we go a level deeper.

There’s your collusion, Trump. Read the rest at the WaPo.

Right before Trump announced strikes in Syria by the U.S., France, and Great Britain, he pardoned Scooter Libby, the only Bush official convicted in the outing of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame. It’s pretty obvious that Trump did this to send a message to Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, and the rest of his gang that he could pardon them too. But there are problems with that.

Here’s the best article I’ve read on the pardon by Marcy Wheeler at The New York Times: Trump Pardoned Libby to Protect Himself From Mueller.

…we never learned the real story about whether Vice President Dick Cheney had ordered Mr. Libby, his chief of staff, to leak the identity of Valerie Plame to the press in retaliation for a Times Op-Ed by her husband, Joseph Wilson, calling out the president’s lies. We never learned whether Mr. Cheney gave those orders with the approval of the president or on his own. That’s because President George W. Bush added to the obstruction by commuting Mr. Libby’s sentence, ensuring that nothing would happen to the firewall that protected his own White House. Mr. Libby wouldn’t go to prison, but neither would he lose his Fifth Amendment privilege, which could make it easy to compel further testimony about his bosses.

On Friday another president with a special counsel investigation raging around him pardoned Mr. Libby. “I don’t know Mr. Libby,” President Trump said in the pardon announcement. “But for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly. Hopefully, this full pardon will help rectify a very sad portion of his life.”

Mr. Trump’s action does nothing to change the past.

But it might change the lives or convictions of people whom President Trump does know: his own personal firewall. By pardoning Mr. Libby, Mr. Trump sends a message to Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen and any of his other close aides who are facing or may face potential prosecution pursuant to the investigation by Robert Mueller, the special counsel.

But Trump may have waited too long to pardon his thugs.

The thing is, Mr. Trump is unlikely to be able to use his pardon power to get out of his legal jam. That’s because several of his potential firewalls — Mr. Manafort, Mr. Cohen and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner — could be charged at the state level for the financial crimes they’re suspected of. A federal pardon would simply move their prosecution beyond Mr. Trump’s control.

And there are many more people who can incriminate the president, whereas in the investigation into Ms. Plame’s exposure, Mr. Libby was one of the only people who could say whether the president had authorized the leak of a C.I.A. officer’s identity. Already, three key witnesses have agreed to cooperate with Mr. Mueller against the president, so it’s probably too late to start silencing witnesses.

Finally, neither Mr. Trump nor his thoroughly outmatched legal team knows the full exposure he or potential witnesses face. Given the involvement of Russians trying to undermine the United States, the evidence Mr. Mueller may already have collected could well be even uglier than deliberately burning a C.I.A. spy for political gain.

That makes it a lot harder to pull off what George Bush did — protect his firewall.

After yesterday, it’s looking much more likely that Trump will not be able to use pardons to weasel out of the mess he’s in.

Some stories on the Syria situation:

NYT: U.S., Britain and France Strike Syria Over Suspected Chemical Weapons Attack.

The Wrap: Rachel Maddow Raises ‘Wag the Dog’ Possibility as Trump Orders Syria Strikes.

NYT: President Trump Talked Tough. But His Strike on Syria Was Restrained.

The Hill: Trump supporters slam decision to launch strikes against Syria.

Reuters: Pro-Assad official says targeted bases were evacuated on Russian warning.

WaPo: Damascus defiant as U.S. strikes prove more limited than feared.

So . . . what stories are you following today?


Live Blog: Bombs Away … De Hair Furor on Syria at 9 pm EST

 

Will striking the Syrian Regime be legitimate?

But calling Trump’s potential strike against Syria a legitimate humanitarian intervention is absurd. The most comprehensive effort to define that notion came from the Canadian government, which in 2001—in response to pleas from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan—empaneled a commission on the concept known as the “Responsibility to Protect.” That commissionoutlined several criteria that any humanitarian war must meet. No past U.S. intervention has met them fully. A new Syria strike, however, wouldn’t even come close.

One criterion was what the commission called “reasonable prospects.” A military intervention, it argued, must stand “a reasonable chance of success in halting or averting the suffering which has justified the intervention.” When Trump struck Syria for the first time last year, it may have been “reasonable” to hope an American strike would prevent Assad from using chemical weapons again. But it is utterly unreasonable today. That’s because, in the year since Trump’s strike, Assad has used chemical weapons again and again. He didn’t just apparently use them last weekend. According to armscontrol.org, he also allegedly used them on March 11, on March 7 and at least five times in January and February.

Shouldn’t Congress approve?  Ryan says no!!!

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Thursday that President Trump has broad authority to attack Syria, precluding the need for Congress to act beforehand.
“The existing AUMF gives him the authority he needs to do what he may or may not do,” Ryan said during a press briefing in the Capitol.

 

We’re striking with the UK and France. The force is on the war.

 

 

Stay tuned!

 

 


Friday Reads: Ace G-Man Stories of the Trump Family Crime Syndicate

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

It’s going to be the usual chaos on steroids as former FBI Director Jim Comey’s tell all comes out.  The media began leaking excerpts yesterday of the book even as the official release date still looms on Tuesday.  KKKremlin Caligula is not a happy Mad King as Comey even appears to have taken  gratuitous pot shots at the size of his hands. Yes, De Hair Fury is in Teapot Tempest mode.  Hide that damn football!

President Donald Trump went into attack mode against James Comey on Friday morning, calling the former FBI director an “untruthful slime ball” and a “liar & leaker” after Comey suggested in an ABC News interview that it is “possible” that salacious allegations about the president and prostitutes in Moscow are true.

“James Comey is a proven LEAKER & LIAR. Virtually everyone in Washington thought he should be fired for the terrible job he did-until he was, in fact, fired. He leaked CLASSIFIED information, for which he should be prosecuted. He lied to Congress under OATH,” Trump wrote in a statement that stretched across two Twitter posts. “He is a weak and untruthful slime ball who was, as time has proven, a terrible Director of the FBI. His handling of the Crooked Hillary Clinton case, and the events surrounding it, will go down as one of the worst ‘botch jobs’ of history. It was my great honor to fire James Comey!”

Well, this is certainly an adult conversation!  These items are from Politico and the keyboard of Louis Nelson.

Recalling his first meeting with Trump, the former FBI director told Stephanopoulos that the January, 2017, briefing he gave the then-president elect about his alleged rendezvous with prostitutes inside a Moscow hotel was “really weird” and “almost an out-of-body experience.” During their one-on-one briefing in Trump Tower, the former FBI director said Trump responded “very defensively” and “started talking about, you know, ‘do I look like a guy who needs hookers?’”

Comey said that earlier, upon briefing Trump and his transition team about Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, the then-president elect’s first question was whether or not those efforts had affected the outcome and then discussion turned immediately to a conversation about messaging and drafting a press release. At no point did Trump or any member of his team ask Comey or the other intelligence chiefs present at the briefing what might come next from Russia or how to stop future cyberattacks from Moscow, the former FBI director said.

“The reason that was so striking to me is that that’s just not done, that the intelligence community does intelligence, the White House does PR and spin,” Comey said. “It was all, what can we say about what they did and how it affects the election that we just had.”

Folks that have read the book say that Comey found a President obsessed with getting the FBI to disprove the existence of the Pee Pee tape.  Evidently Cohen was busy fixing other Trump mishaps and couldn’t see to it.  Can you imagine how he saw the FBI as his personal clean up crew?

Trump did not stay quiet for long. Comey describes Trump as having been obsessed with the portion dealing with prostitutes in the infamous dossier compiled by British former intelligence officer Christopher Steele, raising it at least four times with the FBI director. The document claimed that Trump had watched the prostitutes urinate on themselves in the same Moscow suite that President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama had stayed in “as a way of soiling the bed,” Comey writes.

Comey writes that Trump asked him to have the FBI investigate the allegations to prove they were not true, and offered varying explanations to convince him why. “I’m a germaphobe,” Trump told him in a follow-up call on Jan. 11, 2017, according to Comey’s account. “There’s no way I would let people pee on each other around me. No way.” Later, the president asked what could be done to “lift the cloud” because it was so painful for first lady Melania Trump.

Phillip Rucker of WAPO additionally unveils Comey’s real thoughts about Trump’s lack of ethics. This is a description of a sociopath.

In his memoir, Comey paints a devastating portrait of a president who built “a cocoon of alternative reality that he was busily wrapping around all of us.” Comey describes Trump as a congenital liar and unethical leader, devoid of human emotion and driven by personal ego.

Comey narrates in vivid detail, based on his contemporaneous notes, instances in which Trump violated the norms protecting the FBI’s independence in attempts to coerce Comey into being loyal to him — such as during a one-on-one dinner in the White House residence.

Interacting with Trump, Comey writes, gave him “flashbacks to my earlier career as a prosecutor against the Mob. The silent circle of assent. The boss in complete control. The loyalty oaths. The us-versus-them worldview. The lying about all things, large and small, in service to some code of loyalty that put the organization above morality and above the truth.”

The result, in Comey’s telling, is “the forest fire that is the Trump presidency.”

“What is happening now is not normal,” he writes. “It is not fake news. It is not okay.”

But again, Comey makes quite personal remarks.  From David Moye at HuffPo:

You have to hand it to former FBI Director James Comey: He knows a good way to troll Donald Trump is to bring up the president’s reportedly small hands.

Comey touches on Trump’s hands in his new book, A Higher Loyalty, and admits the president’s mitts did appear smaller than he expected when they first met.

According to excerpts from the book posted by ABC News, the 6-foot-8-inch Comey said the 6-foot-3-inch Trump “appeared shorter than he seemed on a debate stage.”

Comey also wrote that when Trump reached out for a handshake, he couldn’t help but notice that the president’s hand “was smaller than mine” but added, it “did not seem unusually so.”

This is the type of comment liable to inspire a Trump tweet tantrum, as the president has long been sensitive to any suggestion his hands aren’t anything but “yuge.”

Steve Goldstein–DC Bureau Chief for Market Watch–argues that this puts both Mueller and Comey squarely on Trump’s turf.

If there’s any strategy in the world of President Donald Trump, it’s a simple one: Play on my field.

And the Trump playing field is a salacious one. The scandals and affairs are literally too numerous to be chronicled in a single article. Large and small, Trump University to Trump Steaks, bankruptcies and legal judgements, all manner of infidelity and aberrant behavior, real or imagined.

Former FBI Director James Comey and Special Counsel Robert Mueller were each charged with looking into an allegation of the most serious variety — colluding with a foreign hostile power to alter the presidential election.

This week the headlines emanating from Mueller’s investigation, and Comey’s book, involve a porn stara Playboy bunnya pee tapethe size of Trump’s hands and a doorman with a history of fibbing apparently alleging the existence of an illegitimate child.

That is playing on Trump’s field.

But wait. Isn’t it a violation of campaign law if Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen paid off Stormy Daniels just ahead of the election? If Cohen used a home-equity loan to fund the payment, did he lie to the bank? Doesn’t it speak to Trump’s truthfulness on a variety of a matters — including alleged collusion with Russia — whether his persistent denials of engaging with prostitutes in Moscow are truthful? Doesn’t it have relevance to the question of whether payoffs were legal if Trump bought off a doorman? And didn’t Mueller actually hand off the investigation on Daniels?

Yeah, sure, all of that.

Those are all on the level of the Ken Starr investigation into Bill Clinton’s perjury — legal matters, yes, that aren’t really the stuff of high crimes and misdemeanors. They’re all gotchas reinforcing what we basically knew about Trump and his behavior before the election.

By contrast, the consequences of playing on Trump’s field are enormous.

For Comey, baiting Trump into a reaction, which sure as water is wet came on Friday morning, will result in better book sales. But it will come at the expense of holding any future higher office. His legacy as FBI director — already tarnished for the ridiculous, torturous inconsistencies in how he handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails — is forever tarnished. Who in Washington could hire this guy? “Untruthful,” as Trump called him? No. “Slime ball?” Hmm.

Mueller, too, looks set to emerge damaged, if perhaps not as fatally. The question of whether Trump can, or should, fire him has returned. Mueller, also a former FBI director, does still have the support of both House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to finish his investigation, and a few key Republicans, including Sen. Chuck Grassley, have expressed willingness to support legislation to protect him. But the idea of his dismissal is definitely more plausible — and, for that matter, the outrage it would generate a good bit lessened.

It is clear is that Trump and his band of slimy hucksters in the West Wing have made for the low ground.   Comey has revealed some eye poppers on many of them.  However, he’s teary eyed about Obama.

Comey apologizes to Hillary Clinton, nodding to her own takedown of him in her book What Happened. “I have read she has felt anger toward me personally, and I’m sorry for that,” he writes. “I’m sorry that I couldn’t do a better job explaining to her and her supporters why I made the decisions I made.”

Comey also says President Barack Obama reassured him after the election about his decision to send the letter about Clinton, according to the Post:

Comey writes that Obama sat alone with him in the Oval Office in late November and told him, “I picked you to be FBI director because of your integrity and your ability. I want you to know that nothing — nothing — has happened in the last year to change my view.”

On the verge of tears, Comey told Obama, “Boy, were those words I needed to hear . . . I’m just trying to do the right thing.”

“I know,” Obama said. “I know.”

You surely know that I am no Comey fan after this particular interlude that undoubtedly helped brought us the Orange plague.  I just hope Trump doesn’t wag any dogs to relieve his marital problems. his popularity problems, and his multiple personality disorders.  He still may be plotting to fire Rosenstein or Mueller and who knows what else?

So, one more Trump’s latest weirdness: “President Trump poised to pardon Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, sources say.”

President Donald Trump is poised to pardon Scooter J. Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, according to sources familiar with the president’s thinking.

The president has already signed off on the pardon, which is something he has been considering for several months, sources told ABC News.

The move would mark another controversial pardon for Trump and could raise questions as an increasing number of the president’s political allies have landed themselves in legal jeopardy. The White House has repeatedly said that no pardons are currently on the table for people caught up in the Russia investigation.

Early in his term, Trump pardoned controversial former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio after he was found guilty in July on criminal contempt charges stemming from his refusal to stop imprisoning suspected undocumented immigrants.

Unlike your average Presidential Pardon, Trump’s pardons focus on pardoning law breaking white government officials.  Is this a harbinger of more mercy for predatory slime balls?

So, now I need a shower.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?