Thursday Reads: White House Chaos Grows Even Worse

Lady reading in the garden Niels Frederik Schiottz-Jenson

Good Morning!!

I’m still reading The Devil’s Bargain, the new book on Trump and Steve Bannon by Joshua Green. I should have finished it by now, but there has been so much news the last few days that I’ve been riveted to the internet and TV instead. Actually, yesterday I was struggling to concentrate on anything. This Trump nightmare is really getting to me. I need to find better ways to cope without completely zoning out.

Anyway, the book is both fascinating and horrifying. It turns out that Trump’s great wall was an idea that came from Roger Stone and his protege Sam Nunberg. They came up with the concept because they were trying to find a way to keep their cognitively impaired candidate talking about immigration.

Trump was vehemently pro-immigration back in 2012 when he attacked Mitt Romney for pushing “self-deportation.” Trump’s entire anti-immigration message was nothing but a carnival stunt to attract the rubes. And Bannon is the one who got Trump to keep talking about it. Trump wasn’t even interested in “the wall” until he brought it up in a speech at the January 2015 Iowa Freedom Summit and the audience went wild. So Bannon was a huge influence even back then.

I don’t know why I’m still shocked by this kind of cynicism, but I am. I wonder if Trump actually believed any of the garbage that comes out of his oddly misshapen mouth.

Now Trump has hired a new “communication director” who could be even more flamboyantly cynical–and stupid–than his boss. He’s not even supposed to be on the job yet, but he’s already making a very public fool of himself. Last night he sent out a tweet (now deleted) in which he seemed to accused Reince Priebus of leaking his publicly available financial disclosure form. Then this morning he called into CNN and ranted for about 30 minutes about White House leaks.

Woman reading a newspaper, Norman Garstin

Politico: Scaramucci claims ‘felony’ over report of public disclosures.

White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci said Wednesday he will contact federal agencies over the “leak” of his financial disclosures, which he called a “felony,” despite the forms being publicly accessible.

“In light of the leak of my financial disclosure info which is a felony. I will be contacting @FBI and the @TheJusticeDept #swamp @Reince45” Scaramucci tweeted late Wednesday.

The tweet followed POLITICO’s publication of Scaramucci’s financial disclosures filed in the course of his employment with the Export-Import Bank. The documents are publicly available on request.

Scaramucci subsequently deleted the tweet and replaced it with another disavowing widespread speculation that his message implied that White House chief of staff Reince Priebus should be investigated. “Wrong! Tweet was public notice to leakers that all Sr Adm officials are helping to end illegal leaks. @Reince 45.”

Speaking to CNN’s New Day co-host Chris Cuomo Thursday morning, Scaramucci acknowledged that the documents are available publicly but still denounced leaks.

Read CNN’s report on Scaramucci’s embarrassing call-in: Scaramucci: ‘If Reince wants to explain he’s not a leaker, let him do that.’

An even better and more succinct report in a thread from Yashar Ali on Twitter. Head over to Twitter to read the whole thing.

Also see this piece by Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine: Anthony Scaramucci Is Unclear on the Concept of the Legal System.

Despite possessing a degree from Harvard Law School, Anthony Scaramucci does not seem to possess an understanding of basic principles of the Anglo-American legal tradition. First, Scaramucci accused putative chief of staff and Scaramucci blood-rival Reince Priebus of having illegally leaked his disclosure form. (The leak was not illegal and turns out to have been a public disclosure notice.) Scaramucci’s embarrassment at this gaffe has not discouraged him from pursuing a quasi-judicial purge.

The new White House communications director has gone on television to boast that he is interfering with the justice system in violation of written rules:

More at the NY Mag. link.

Scaramucci’s outrage is over the revelation that he has a serious conflict of interest, because he is currently trying to sell his hedge fund business to a Chinese conglomerate and would need administration approval to do so. Here’s the original story at Politico: Scaramucci still stands to profit from SkyBridge from the White House.

Anthony Scaramucci finally has his White House job, but he still stands to profit from an ownership stake in his investment firm SkyBridge Capital.

The incoming White House communications director earned $4.9 million from his ownership stake in SkyBridge in addition to more than $5 million in salary between Jan. 1, 2016, and the end of June, when he joined the Export-Import Bank, according to a financial disclosure filed with the Office of Government Ethics….

The disclosure highlights the extensive wealth Scaramucci has accumulated in his career — much like many of Trump’s other top advisers and Cabinet secretaries — and also the challenge he faces in extracting himself from the potential conflicts his investments could pose.

The SkyBridge website continues to advertise Scaramucci as the firm’s managing director, despite the fact that he has been a government employee for more than a month. A SkyBridge spokeswoman said Scaramucci stepped down from the executive post Jan. 17, when the company’s sale was announced. He remained an employee of the firm, collecting a salary, until starting at Ex-Im last month.

The investment firm, which Scaramucci founded in 2005, is in the process of being sold to RON Transatlantic and Chinese conglomerate HNA Group. The sale, set in motion in January when Scaramucci was shedding his holdings in anticipation of landing an administration job, has drawn the scrutiny of regulators and is taking longer than expected to close.

The interagency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States is examining the deal to ensure that it carries no risk to national security. The panel’s review, which comes amid ramped-up scrutiny of business dealings with China, ultimately can be overruled by President Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, Trump himself just committed another impeachable offense by attempting to blackmail Sen. Lisa Murkowski and the citizens of Alaska through his Interior Secretary. From Alaska Dispatch News: Trump administration threatens retribution against Alaska over Murkowski health votes.

President Donald Trump isn’t going to just let go of Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s no vote on Tuesday’s health care.

Early Wednesday, Trump took to Twitter to express displeasure with Murkowski’s vote. By that afternoon, each of Alaska’s two Republican senators had received a phone call from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke letting them know the vote had put Alaska’s future with the administration in jeopardy.

Francis Coates Jones, artist

The response follows Trump’s no-holds-barred style of governing, even when it comes to his own party. It is his first strike of retaliation against Murkowski, however, despite her tendency to stray from the party line and the president’s priorities.

Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan said the call from Zinke heralded a “troubling message.”

“I’m not going to go into the details, but I fear that the strong economic growth, pro-energy, pro-mining, pro-jobs and personnel from Alaska who are part of those policies are going to stop,” Sullivan said.

“I tried to push back on behalf of all Alaskans. … We’re facing some difficult times and there’s a lot of enthusiasm for the policies that Secretary Zinke and the president have been talking about with regard to our economy. But the message was pretty clear,” Sullivan said. The Interior secretary also contacted Murkowski, he said.

Can this administration get any more chaotic? My guess is that, with Trump and Scaramucci working together, the answer is yes. Keep in mind that lesser chaos agent Steve Bannon was strongly opposed to the hiring of Scaramucci. He’s also opposed to firing Jeff Sessions, but apparently Trump family members are all for it, and Trump has forgotten all about the risks Sessions too by endorsing him early on. Check out this Business Insider article: Bannon convinced Jeff Sessions to endorse Trump, and Sessions worried his career in the Republican Party might end because of it.

As Joshua Green wrote in “Devil’s Bargain,” Sessions, then a senator from Alabama, was unsure if Trump could secure the Republican nomination, and knew that being the first senator to endorse Trump could further curtail his political future if Trump, the Republican frontrunner at the time, lost.

The day before Sessions endorsed Trump at a Madison, Alabama rally in February 2016, then-Breitbart News chairman Bannon told Sessions that it was “do or die” time and that “this is the moment” to endorse.

Jacek Malczewski, artist

“Trump is a great advocate for our ideas,” Sessions told Bannon. “But can he win?”

“100%,” Bannon said. “If he can stick to your message and personify this stuff, there’s not a doubt in my mind.”

Sessions then noted that the GOP already denied him the chairmanship of the Budget Committee, and that “if I do this endorsement and it doesn’t work, it’s the end of my career in the Republican Party.”

“It’s do or die,” Bannon replied. “This is it. This is the moment.”

That moment was just days before what are known as the “SEC” primaries — a series of primary contests concentrated throughout the South. Bannon told Sessions that his endorsement could push Trump over the hump in many of those contests and essentially seal up the Republican nomination.

“Okay, I’m all-in,” Sessions said. “But if he doesn’t win, it’s over for me.”

No wonder Sessions is refusing to step down as Attorney General.

It looks like today is going to be another day of fast-breaking news. I hope I can keep myself from getting as stressed-out as I was yesterday. What stories are you following?

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Thursday Reads: Spy Games

A Russian Tupolev Tu-160 supersonic strategic bomber and Tupolev Tu-22M3 Backfire strategic bombers fly above the Kremlin cathedrals, May 4, 2017 (NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP/Getty Images).

Good Morning!!

As as become the norm, two new Trump Russia stories dropped last night and another one this this morning.

Despite the ongoing investigation, Trump is considering reversing one of the punishments that Obama meted out to Russia for its interference in the 2016 election.

The Washington Post reports: Trump administration moves to return Russian compounds in Maryland and New York.

The Trump administration is moving toward handing back to Russia two diplomatic compounds, near New York City and on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, that its officials were ejected from in late December as punishment for Moscow’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

President Barack Obama said Dec. 29 that the compounds were being “used by Russian personnel for intelligence-related purposes” and gave Russia 24 hours to vacate them. Separately, Obama expelled from the United States what he said were 35 Russian “intelligence operatives.”

Early last month, the Trump administration told the Russians that it would consider turning the properties back over to them if Moscow would lift its freeze, imposed in 2014 in retaliation for U.S. sanctions related to Ukraine, on construction of a new U.S. consulate on a certain parcel of land in St. Petersburg.

Two days later, the U.S. position changed. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at a meeting in Washington that the United States had dropped any linkage between the compounds and the consulate, according to several people with knowledge of the exchanges.

Could they be any more obvious? It looks like Trump caved on getting anything in return for making it easier for Russia to spy on us. What did Putin threaten him with?

In Moscow on Wednesday, Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov said Russia was “taking into account the difficult internal political situation for the current administration” but retained the option to reciprocate for what he called the “expropriation” of Russian property “if these steps are not somehow adjusted by the U.S. side,” the news outlet Sputnik reported….

Any concessions to Moscow could prove controversial while administration and former Trump campaign officials are under congressional and special counsel investigation for alleged ties to Russia.

No kidding.

Late last night, CNN broke the news that Jeff Sessions is suspected of having another undisclosed meeting with the Russian ambassador. First on CNN: Sources: Congress investigating another possible Sessions-Kislyak meeting.

Congressional investigators are examining whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions had an additional private meeting with Russia’s ambassador during the presidential campaign, according to Republican and Democratic Hill sources and intelligence officials briefed on the investigation.

Investigators on the Hill are requesting additional information, including schedules from Sessions, a source with knowledge tells CNN. They are focusing on whether such a meeting took place April 27, 2016, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC, where then-candidate Donald Trump was delivering his first major foreign policy address. Prior to the speech, then-Sen. Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak attended a small VIP reception with organizers, diplomats and others.

In addition to congressional investigators, the FBI is seeking to determine the extent of interactions the Trump campaign team may have had with Russia’s ambassador during the event as part of its broader counterintelligence investigation of Russian interference in the election.

The FBI is looking into whether there was an additional private meeting at the Mayflower the same day, sources said. Neither Hill nor FBI investigators have yet concluded whether a private meeting took place — and acknowledge that it is possible any additional meeting was incidental.

If this is true, Sessions needs to resign.

You may read the article for full details here about some gambling games online. Check it today.

This morning The Guardian reports that Nigel Farage is under investigation by the FBI.

Nigel Farage is a “person of interest” in the US counter-intelligence investigation that is looking into possible collusion between the Kremlin and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the Guardian has been told.

Sources with knowledge of the investigation said the former Ukip leader had raised the interest of FBI investigators because of his relationships with individuals connected to both the Trump campaign and Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder whom Farage visited in March. He’s right in the middle of these relationships. He turns up over and over again….

Farage has not been accused of wrongdoing and is not a suspect or a target of the US investigation. But being a person of interest means investigators believe he may have information about the acts that are under investigation and he may therefore be subject to their scrutiny.

Sources who spoke to the Guardian said it was Farage’s proximity to people at the heart of the investigation that was being examined as an element in their broader inquiry into how Russia may have worked with Trump campaign officials to influence the US election.

“One of the things the intelligence investigators have been looking at is points of contact and persons involved,” one source said. “If you triangulate Russia, WikiLeaks, Assange and Trump associates the person who comes up with the most hits is Nigel Farage.

“He’s right in the middle of these relationships. He turns up over and over again. There’s a lot of attention being paid to him.”

The source mentioned Farage’s links with Roger Stone, Trump’s long-time political adviser who has admitted being in contact with Guccifer 2.0, a hacker whom US intelligence agencies believe to be a Kremlin agent.

More Trump Russia news

Ryan Lizza at The New Yorker: Trump’s ‘Good Job’ Call to Roger Stone.

On May 11th Roger Stone, Donald Trump’s on-again, off-again political adviser for several decades, had just wrapped up a pair of morning television appearances when, according to two sources with direct knowledge, he received a call from the President.

Just a night earlier, Trump claimed that he was no longer in touch with Stone. In the weeks and months ahead, the relationship between Trump and Stone is expected to be a significant focus of investigators, and their call raises an important question: Why is the President still reaching out to figures in the middle of the Russia investigations? Previous reports have noted that Trump has also been in touch with Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, two figures targeted by the F.B.I.’s Russia probe. Add Stone to the list of former top Trump aides who, despite being under investigation, are still winning attention from the President….

 

On May 9th, Trump fired Comey. Stone’s role in advising Trump on the abrupt dismissal of the person investigating the President’s campaign and advisers, including Stone himself, immediately became a subject of intrigue.

CNN reported that Stone “was among those who recommended to the President that he fire Comey,” a potentially explosive revelation that was also reported by Politico. Firing the F.B.I. director, according to several legal scholars, could be obstruction of justice. This made it worse. The President of the United States was not just talking to one of the subjects of the F.B.I. probe but also, if the CNN and Politico reports were accurate, colluding with Stone to terminate the head of the investigation. Trump quickly tried to contain the damage.

“The Roger Stone report on @CNN is false – Fake News,” he tweeted. “Have not spoken to Roger in a long time – had nothing to do with my decision.”

Stone himself was more circumspect. “I am not the source of Politico/CNN stories claiming I urged @realDonaldTrump 2 fire Comey,” he tweeted. “Never made such claim. I support decision 100%.” As for Trump’s claim that the two men haven’t spoken “in a long time,” Stone insisted they had actually spoken “fairly recently.”

Trump seems unable to stop himself from reaching out to those who apparently helped him coordinate with Russia during the campaign. Is he trying to get forced out of the presidency or is he just plain stupid?

…aside from contradicting Trump’s claim of not talking to Stone, the call is unusual for another reason. “The conventional wisdom is that when someone has exposure to obstruction-of-justice liability, as Trump certainly does, he should avoid unnecessary reaching out to others involved in the investigation, lest he make things worse for himself,” Norman Eisen, the ethics counsel in the Obama White House, said. “But Trump is famously unorthodox. Indeed, that is how he got into this mess in the first place.”

He added, “Trump just added another item to the investigators’ checklist.”

ABC News: Former Trump adviser Carter Page eager to provide ‘straight dialogue’ in Russia probe.

The one-time foreign policy advisor to President Donald Trump, who has since been swept up in the congressional investigation of Russian influence in the 2016 presidential campaign, told lawmakers this week that he is eager to come to Washington, D.C., to testify.

“In the interest of finally providing the American people with some accurate information at long last, I hope that we can proceed with this straight dialogue soon,” Page wrote in a letter to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Page told ABC News that the committee told him they are not yet ready to interview him.

For his part, Page said he told ABC News he is “more than cooperating” with the congressional probe.

But is he talking to the FBI?

One more before I wrap this up. Politico: Russia escalates spy games after years of U.S. neglect.

In the throes of the 2016 campaign, the FBI found itself with an escalating problem: Russian diplomats, whose travel was supposed to be tracked by the State Department, were going missing.

The diplomats, widely assumed to be intelligence operatives, would eventually turn up in odd places, often in middle-of-nowhere USA. One was found on a beach, nowhere near where he was supposed to be. In one particularly bizarre case, relayed by a U.S. intelligence official, another turned up wandering around in the middle of the desert. Interestingly, both seemed to be lingering where underground fiber optics cables tend to run.

According to another U.S. intelligence official, “They find these guys driving around in circles in Kansas. It’s a pretty aggressive effort.”

It’s a trend that has led intelligence officials to conclude the Kremlin is waging a quiet effort to map the United States’ telecommunications infrastructure, perhaps preparing for an opportunity to disrupt it.

“Half the time they’re never confronted,” the official, who declined to be identified discussing intelligence matters, said of the incidents. “We assume they’re mapping our infrastructure.”

Now that is scary.

As the country — and Washington in particular — borders on near-obsession over whether affiliates of Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with the Kremlin to swing the 2016 presidential election, U.S. intelligence officials say Moscow’s espionage ground game is growing stronger and more brazen than ever.

It’s a problem that’s sparking increasing concern from the intelligence community, including the FBI. After neglecting the Russian threat for a decade, the U.S. was caught flat-footed by Moscow’s election operation. Now, officials are scrambling to figure out how to contain a sophisticated intelligence network that’s festered and strengthened at home after years’ worth of inattention.

Please read the rest at Politico.

What else is happening? Let us know in the comment thread below and have a tremendous Thursday!


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?


Crazzzzy Monday Reads

images (12)Good Afternoon!

It’s been a long few days for me culminating with spending the morning at the LASPCA trying to spring my friend’s runaway dog.  Did I mention it took three hours while I had to look at about 10 cute kittens that definitely need a home ASAP giving me those big eyes ? So, I’m late with everything, tired, and the last thing I need is to crack a virtual newspaper and read about crazy.  However, we still have two crazies in the race, so it’s crazzyyy Monday!!!

We knew the Trump ads against Clinton would be bad but we’re beginning to see exactly how bad they will be.  I think most newspaper Tabloids have less sensation and more facts to be perfectly honest. Is this a clickbait headline or what? Alex Jones has taken over candidate Trump’s policies and their oppo research.  From TPM:  “New Trump Video Mixes Bill Clinton Rape Allegation, Hillary Clinton Laughing.”

Donald Trump released a new Instagram video on Monday featuring audio from interviews with women who’ve accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual assault. The accompanying text asks if Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton is “really protecting women.”

As a photo of Bill Clinton comes into focus against a black-and-white photo of the White House, a voice can be heard saying “I was very nervous.”

That voice belongs to former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, explaining her concern about divulging her affair with the President to a grand jury.

The next voice says “No woman should be subjected to it. It was an assault.” That’s Kathleen Wiley, a former White House volunteer who alleged that Clinton groped her in the hallway of the White House in 1993, speaking with Fox News’ Sean Hannity in 2007.

The last bit of audio is taken from an infamous 1999 NBC Dateline interview with Juanita Broaddrick, a former nursing home administrator who accused Clinton of raping her in 1978. A tearful Broaddrick can be heard saying that he “started to bite my top lip and I tried to pull away from him.”

Clinton denied the assault on Willey in a 1998 deposition and has also denied Broaddrick’s rape allegation, which surfaced at the time of congressional impeachment proceedings over his affair with Lewinsky.

Trump’s video clip ends with a shot of Hillary and Bill Clinton together. While audio of Hillary Clinton laughing plays, the words “Here we go again” appear on the screen.

It’s the second time in two weeks that Trump has brought up past sexual assault allegations against Bill Clinton. He has called Hillary Clinton a “nasty, mean enabler” of her husband’s alleged affairs.

We’re about to hit through  the boundaries of horrific misogyny32316240-chihuahua-dog-ready-to-run-away-ready-for-adoption-isoalted-on-white-background-Stock-Photo straight into new, uncharted territory.   This is simply on the internet now, but I can only imagine what he’ll eventually try on other forms of media.  This is really appalling.

And this on top of crazy Bernie Sanders and his delusional dead-enders!

There are also the usual proxies for the two campaigns.  I’m not sure if you’ve had a chance to read this but you might want to look at the NYT’s profiles of Roger Stone (Trump) and David Brock (Clinton).  It’s about some of their behind the scene work for the campaigns.

One takes a pint-size dog named Toby almost everywhere, smokes electronic cigarettes and wears his silver hair in a flowing pompadour.

The other has a portrait of Richard M. Nixon tattooed on his back, boasts that he owns more shoes than Imelda Marcos and traffics in conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assassination.

The 2016 election, filled with ugly insults, whispered innuendo and sordid character attacks, features two central antagonists known for their colorful traits and devotion to the dark arts of politics: David Brock and Roger J. Stone Jr.

Each has a passion for his side — Mr. Brock for Hillary Clinton and Mr. Stone for Donald J. Trump — and a zeal for attacking critics of his candidate. Their intensity and pugnacity make them either perfect villains or misunderstood masterminds, depending on your point of view.

On the wall of Mr. Stone’s office in South Florida, which has an undisclosed address because of the death threats he said he had received, hangs a “Spy vs. Spy” cartoon, which young staff members titled “Brock-Stone” after the two battling operatives.

“The dynamic between the two of them is very interesting,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a Democratic strategist who knows both men. “This will be a battle about who’s tougher.”

Politics has always attracted flamboyant characters with a sometimes-reckless devotion to a cause, and both these men seem to enjoy their outsize images.

Mr. Brock, 53, divides his time between Washington and the West Village in Manhattan, throwing lively salons and wooing liberal donors on both coasts, often accompanied by Toby, his schnoodle — a schnauzer-poodle mix.

7.10.14-Dog-ActivityWe frequently read our friend’s at Brock financed pro-Hillary blog Blue Nation Review.   The NYT article has some interesting stories on him and the purpose of his pro-Hillary PAC.

Mr. Brock now runs Correct the Record, a “super PAC” that coordinates with the Clinton campaign to defend Mrs. Clinton, and American Bridge, a related group that digs up opposition research to defeat Mr. Trump. (Enough to “knock Trump Tower down to the subbasement,” as Mr. Brock put it in remarks to liberal donors, according to Politico.)

His mission now will largely be to get inside Mr. Stone’s complicated head to anticipate, and stay ahead of, Mr. Trump’s attacks. Mrs. Clinton’s allies have vehemently denied that she was involved in silencing Mr. Clinton’s accusers, but Mr. Trump will continue to push that assertion as the two candidates battle for the support of women voters.

Mr. Stone acknowledged that Mr. Brock’s operation has significantly more resources, but he said the traditional tactic of dismissing these accusations as sordid rumors could backfire. “Brock is calling us conspiracy theorists and trying to make us all sound kooky,” he said. “The only people that scares away are the elites.”

Mr. Brock’s group Media Matters for America has taken direct aim at Mr. Stone, labeling him “the underbelly of the Trump machine” and assembling an encyclopedia on his tactics, including his involvement in a National Enquirer article that accused Senator Ted Cruz’s father of associating with Lee Harvey Oswald before President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Mr. Stone calls Media Matters part of “the Clinton slime machine.”

Both men operate outside the official campaigns, though Mr. Brock directly coordinates with the Clinton campaign through Correct the Record. Mr. Stone said he had “no formal or informal role” within the Trump campaign, but he is close to Mr. Trump and has had a major influence on strategy.

And both have taken risky moves that have created drama and tensions within the campaigns they are ostensibly helping.

We probably are experience some Nixonian election tactics this year. So, I am going to use Media Matters as the go to for this story on the potential of running-awayNewt Gingrich showing up as Trump’s VP.  I didn’t want to go directly to the National Review but you can if you’d like!  It’s amazing to me that what looks like a slate of serial adulterers and cheaters is going after Hillary on her husband.  The optics on that alone are so bad as to make your eyeballs peel.  It can’t be to attract women. It must be a full throttle all speed ahead to grab white men’s votes.

Fox News figures are praising network contributor Newt Gingrich as a “great choice” for Donald Trump’s running mate. They have touted Gingrich — the first speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives to be punished by the House for ethics violations — as “a genius,” “a conservative with bona fides,” and someone who would “bring tremendous stability, tremendous gravitas, incredible intellect,” and “judgment experience.”  

Trump Is Considering Gingrich As His Running Mate

Bloomberg: Trump Has Discussed Gingrich As His VP. Bloomberg reported that “Trump has discussed in recent days the possibility of selecting former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich as his running mate, according to people familiar with the talks.” [Bloomberg, 5/11/16]

Trump: Gingrich Is “Absolutely” On His Short List For VP. The Fox News morning show Fox & Friendsasked Trump if Gingrich was on his short list for vice president. Trump responded: “Absolutely. I’ll say yes, because he’s been such a supporter. I mean, anybody that supports me is on the shortlist as far as I’m concerned.” [The Hill, 5/20/16]

Gingrich Has Suggested He Would Accept The VP Slot. Gingrich stated during a Fox News interview that he would be “very hard-pressed not to say ‘yes’” if offered the spot. [The Huffington Post, 5/16/16]

Trump Aide: Staffers Were Informed Gingrich “Will Have His Hand In Every Major Policy Effort.”National Review reported of “Gingrich’s ascent to Trump’s inner circle”:

Gingrich’s influence within Trump World is widespread. Inside Trump’s newly established campaign offices in Washington, D.C., his fingerprints are everywhere. “Right from the minute I joined we were told that Newt will have his hand in every major policy effort,” says one Trump aide. “So one of the things I do when I’m researching or writing anything, in addition to looking at what Trump has said about anything, I look at what Newt has said.”

Gingrich’s ascent to Trump’s inner circle — and potentially to the vice presidency — marks a reversal of fortune for the speaker, who in recent years has fallen out of favor with party elites over his vocal criticisms of the Iraq War and Paul Ryan’s proposal to reform Medicare. On both issues, the views that irked GOP insiders were squarely in line with the unorthodox positions Trump has espoused on the campaign trail. [National Review, 5/23/16]

So, it will be ugly if it’s the doughboys but it’s an easy take down on the sexcapades at least.  I still can’t believe any woman would find Newt’s history fbb9e510884e48c9828b933f161fabf7with women any more appealing than Trump’s.  Still, Trump’s campaign insists they will be aggressive in their ads against Hillary,

“Republicans have been accused in the past, and some degree rightfully so, of not tearing the bark off of our opponents, and this year Donald Trump has made it very clear we are going to be aggressive” to get a Republican in the White House, Sean Spicer RNC chief strategist and spokesman, said.

“We’ve been at it for four years going through her record,” Spicer also said, as quoted by Breitbart. “This idea that people know who she is and that they’ve seen everything is just ridiculous.”

Spicer, speaking with Breitbart News Sunday on SiriusXM radio, added the party has only “scratched the surface” with Clinton.

I never understand the appeal of these kinds of attacks.  They really turn me off. It’s one of the reasons I’m ready to do just about anything within the legal boundaries of the law to see that Bernie Sanders goes back to the Vermont outback, never to be heard from again.  Why do all the remaining dudes in this race all represent the angry white male, women-hating prototype?   Are there really that many of them left out there?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday Reads: Canned Hostility

0b0a1c822749322f2b6c29e57355c588Good Afternoon!

Populist insurgencies usually get ugly.  We’ve got two campaigns that are pretty representative of that assertion. I’m a veteran of a lot of political shenanigans and ugliness having run against a mean ass outsider in my day.  People that only see themselves and their “movements” as some savior of society are willing to do and say just about anything.   That goes for the kinds of people they attract to the campaign also.  I’ve seen some ugly ass comments coming from surrogates this year that really have made my stomach churn.  I know this isn’t a particularly cheery topic but since New York, all I see is two campaigns resplendent with hostile, angry people, candidates, surrogates, and staff.  It’s beginning to feel a lot like a Nixon campaign.

We knew it would probably get ugly when Donald Trump started surging. He’s been friends with two of the worst Nixon ratfuckers that ever lived.  How could you possibly trust a guy with mentors like Roy Cohn and Roger Stone to be anything but a mean, nasty piece of work? Jeffrey Toobin scored an interview with Stone for the New Yorker.  All that’s missing is Donald Segretti when it comes to the Trump Equation.

Roger Stone, the political provocateur, visited the bar at the Four Seasons Hotel on primary day last week to reminisce about his long friendship with Donald Trump. It started in 1979, when Stone was a twenty-six-year-old aide in Ronald Reagan’s Presidential campaign. Michael Deaver, a more senior campaign official, instructed Stone to start fund-raising in New York. “Mike gave me a recipe box full of index cards, supposedly Reagan’s contacts in New York,” Stone said. “Half the people on the cards were dead. A lot of the others were show-business people, but there was one name I recognized—Roy Cohn.” So Stone presented himself at the brownstone office of Cohn, the notorious lawyer and fixer.

“I go into Roy’s office,” Stone continued, “and he’s sitting there in his silk bathrobe, and he’s finishing up a meeting with Fat Tony Salerno,” the boss of the Genovese crime family. Stone went on, “So Tony says, ‘Roy here says we’re going with Ree-gun this time.’ That’s how he said it—‘Ree-gun.’ Roy told him yes, we’re with Reagan. Then I said to Roy that we needed to put together a finance committee, and Roy said, ‘You need Donald and Fred Trump.’ He said Fred, Donald’s father, had been big for Goldwater in ’64. I went to see Donald, and he helped to get us office space for the Reagan campaign, and that’s when we became friends.”

Stone is now sixty-two, and he’s allowed his hair, which used to be a kind of yellow, to evolve into a shade more suitable for an éminence grise than for an enfant terrible. He has played roles in many of his generation’s political dirty-tricks scandals. He was just nineteen when he had a bit part in Watergate; he sent campaign contributions in the name of the Young Socialist Alliance to the campaign of Pete McCloskey, who was running against Richard Nixon for the Republican nomination in 1972. Almost three decades later, he helped choreograph the so-called Brooks Brothers riot, which shut down the Bush v. Gore recount in Miami-Dade County.

This is one of the reasons I groan when a member of the Bernie cult tries to tell me that Charles Koch is “backing” Hillary Clinton.  How nixonpic-thumb
much we’ve forgotten of the Nixon years.
 How much we need to pay closer attention to the connections between the old Nixon CREEPS and Trump. Nixon evidently even had a thing for Trump when he appeared on a Phil Donahue segment back in the day.

At the time, Trump was only 41 but was already a New York media darling. The Art of the Deal had just come out, which would make him a national figure. Most of the interview isn’t about politics, but the parts that are are very Nixon-friendly. Trump defends Nixon and his father against allegations that they discriminated against black tenants, and talks admiringly of Roy Cohn, the right-wing lawyer most famous for prosecuting theRosenbergs and serving as Joseph McCarthy’s chief counsel in the Senate.

Cohn (who spent his whole life closeted and died of AIDS the year before the interview) was a friend of Nixon’s and reportedly helped him win reelection in 1972 by leaking Democratic VP candidate Thomas Eagleton’s psychiatric history.

“The one thing I’ll say about Roy is that he was an extremely loyal guy,” Trump says. “Loyalty is a great trait.”

The prospect of Trump running for office comes up again and again:

Donahue: You tell us also in your book that you left Queens and you left Brooklyn for Manhattan to get away from rent control! You’re honest to tell us in this book.

Trump: I’m honest. Hey, I’m not running for anything, Phil, I’m not running for office. I don’t have to lie in a book. I want to tell the facts, okay? Do you want me to say little fibs and little this and little that, and how much we all love rent control and what a great thing it’s been for New York? It’s been a disaster for New York, it’s badly hurt New York, it’s crippled New York.

Trump follows that up by engaging in the kind of political rhetoric that he’s perfected over the past year: populist while simultaneously drawing upon his own power as an elite. He condemns rent control for primarily helping the politically well-connected, bragging in the process that he has those connections (“it’s the people with the connections — somebody knows Trump, somebody knows somebody else, they call up and say, ‘Do me a favor,’ that’s what it’s all about”).

Pardon me for citing the National Review, but they see it too.s-l300

Richard Nixon might have been right at home in the bully-boy politics of today. As a young candidate, Nixon conducted what he called “rock ’em, sock ’em” campaigns. Donald Trump sometimes seems to be channeling Nixon in his pursuit of “the silent majority,” a phrase coined by Nixon. Trump would be lucky to do as well as Nixon did in attracting voters with his populist rhetoric. While winning a second term in a landslide in 1972, Nixon got the votes of 35 percent of self-described Democrats — many of them lower-middle-class blue-collar whites.

Trump also seems to suggest that he would be like Nixon in another way: as a deal maker. This side of Nixon sometimes gets overlooked, but it is worth examining as Republicans (and possible the country as a whole come November) contemplate whether Trump would be a good president. As president, Nixon was willing to compromise. Democrats controlled Congress, so Nixon worked with their leaders to pass a raft of environmental and social-welfare legislation. In part, Nixon was being politically opportunistic. Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine hoped to ride the nascent environmental movement to the Democratic presidential nomination and the White House in 1972. Nixon saw a chance to outflank Muskie by creating the Environmental Protection Agency. Nixon was not just posturing — he really did want to get things done. In his crafty way, Nixon was willing to outmaneuver his own subordinates. He told Chris DeMuth, a young aide assigned to write up the new environmental-law regulations (and later president of the American Enterprise Institute), to steer clear of Commerce Secretary Maurice Stans, a prolific Nixon fund-raiser who was closely allied with big industry. “I’ll take care of Stans,” said Nixon, and he did, keeping him away from the rule-making process.

Nixon’s capacity to play to the emotions of voters while still governing effectively was best displayed in his approach to civil rights. In 1968 and 1972, Nixon employed what was called the GOP’s “southern strategy.” Appealing to southern Democrats (then the majority), Nixon loudly inveighed against forced busing to integrate schools. To liberals, he seemed to be pandering to racists. But with Nixon it was important, as his attorney general, John Mitchell, said, “to watch what we do, not what we say.” Working quietly behind the scenes to overcome resistance to federal court orders, Nixon set up citizens’ committees in each of the Deep South states to integrate the schools. When Nixon became president, 70 percent of black kids in the Deep South attended segregated schools. Within three years only 10 percent did.

Perhaps in today’s noisy and instantaneous media environment, Nixon could not have gotten away with such politically deft sleight of hand. Nixon, who was always muttering that “the press is the enemy,” did not have to contend with bloggers or cable-news talking heads. Nixon wrote many of his own speeches (including the “silent majority” speech) but was cunning about using the right speechwriter to set the tone he wanted in any particular moment — Pat Buchanan for red-meat populism, Ray Price for high-minded good governance. Still, sometimes he was too clever by half, especially when trying to be both a hawk and a dove on Vietnam.

ed813061d0c2887e9af83467bf60121fNixon was one of those guys that got where he did by bringing out the worst in people. Trump is following in that style.  So is the other populist in the race. Just when you thought the attacks couldn’t get any more personal from the sinking Sanders campaign, up jumps Rosario Dawson with a Monica Lewinsky reference.

Bernie Sanders’ lone Senate endorser on Monday rejected the notion that the recent comments made by one of the candidate’s celebrity surrogates represents more than an isolated, inflammatory incident.

“No. This is individuals going off track on their own,” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said in an interview with CNN’s “New Day,” addressing actress Rosario Dawson’s invocation of Monica Lewinsky against bullying while introducing Sanders over the weekend in Delaware.

Such remarks are “not helpful to the campaign, and it’s certainly not in keeping with what Bernie wants to see.”

“Those are complete distractions. They take away from the conversation about core policy issues. In a campaign you have many people who step forward on your behalf. They come out with some things that go off track,” Merkley said. “Hopefully everything I say will be on track, because I do believe that this is a conversation about so many important issues.”

Dawson’s comments are not the first from a Sanders surrogate to have raised eyebrows among those on the Hillary Clinton campaign and beyond. For example, when actor Tim Robbins compared Clinton’s victory in South Carolina as “about as significant” as winning the island of Guam, the territory’s lone congressional delegate and former first lady fired back, pledging her support to Clinton ahead of the May 7 primary. Robbins later apologized, saying he did not intend to make light of the territory’s lack of full voting representation.

For his part, Sanders declined to directly address Dawson’s comments about Lewinsky on Sunday, praising the actress in a CNN interview for doing a “great job” in discussing the “real issues” facing the country.

Bernie’s silence on the matter screams a lot about his intent to me. I think he’s so mad about not being the recognized savior that he doesn’t give two shits about what his people say about Clinton or the Democratic Party.  The man has a mean streak as large as Richard Nixon’s paranoia.b9257fb0e492168168042a9b4ebcfcb6

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont did his best on Sunday to avoid talking about comments made by one of his supporters, the actress Rosario Dawson, who invoked Monica Lewinsky at a rally for Mr. Sanders this weekend.

Ms. Dawson created some controversy Saturday when she referenced Ms. Lewinsky, the former White House intern who had an affair with President Bill Clinton. Though Ms. Dawson was talking about cyberbullying and about being under pressure to support Hillary Clinton, the Clinton campaign has called the comment “vitriol.”

“We are literally under attack for not just supporting the other candidate,” Ms. Dawson said while introducing Mr. Sanders in Wilmington, Del. “Now, I’m with Monica Lewinsky with this. Bullying is bad. She has actually dedicated her life now to talking about that. And now, as a campaign strategy, we are being bullied, and, somehow that is O.K. and not being talked about with the richness that it needs.”

On Sunday, Jake Tapper of CNN questioned Mr. Sanders about Ms. Dawson’s comments. “One of your high-profile surrogates, actress Rosario Dawson, invoked Monica Lewinsky at one of your rallies,” Mr. Tapper said. “Do you think it’s appropriate for your surrogates to be talking about Monica Lewinsky on the campaign trail?”

Mr. Sanders, however, declined to speak about the reference to Ms. Lewinsky and instead expressed support for Ms. Dawson. “Rosario is a great actress, and she’s doing a great job for us,” he said. “And she’s been a passionate fighter to see that we increase the voter turnout, that we fight for racial, economic, environmental justice.”

He added: “What our job right now is to contrast our views compared to Secretary Clinton. That’s what a campaign is about.”

Bernie’s chances at the nomination are all but gone but he can and is destroying whatever goodwill and legacy he may have built. He’s getting a series of open letters written to him in newspapers begging him to stop self-destructing and begging him to stop doing Donald Trump’s  “dirty work”.  I suggest that he’s just ratfucking at this point in time. This from the op-ed by Michael Cohen at the Boston Globe.

But here’s the thing – and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but maybe a little tough love is in order — you’re not going to win the Democratic nomination. This isn’t one of these “yeah, it’s a long shot, but maybe if I get lucky and everything goes my way” things. You’re not going to overcome Hillary Clinton’s lead in pledged delegates and you’re certainly not going to convince super delegates to vote for you over her. I mean, think about it: You’re trying to convince them to vote against the person who is almost certainly going to win in pledged delegates.

And even if you could win that way, would you really want to? In fact, if we’re really being honest here, the way your campaign has gone the past six weeks isn’t the way you want to win — or even the way you want to lose. Remember back in May 2015 when you said you didn’t want this campaign to be about Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, or Bernie Sanders? Remember when you said you weren’t going to engage in character assassination and personal attacks?

Brooklyn Congressman Hakeem Jeffries accuses Bernie of giving aid and comfort to Donald Trump.   Bernie’s dodged every chance to disown the comment.

A Brooklyn congressman is accusing Sen. Bernie Sanders of providing “aid and comfort” to Donald Trump and the GOP after a top surrogate referenced Monica Lewinsky at a recent Sanders rally.

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, a Brooklyn Democrat and Hillary Clinton supporter, said Mr. Sanders needs to “stop it” and disavow the comments made by Rosario Dawson, an actress.

“Bernie Sanders ran a scorched earth campaign in New York that personally attacked Hillary Clinton at every turn, and he was crushed by 16 points,” Mr. Jeffries said today, referring to Ms. Clinton’s triumph over Mr. Sanders in the April 19 New York primary. “Instead of learning from past failure, supporters of Bernie Sanders continue to play dirty pool in a desperate attempt to halt Hillary Clinton’s clear path to the Democratic nomination.”

A lot of us think that Charles Koch is ratfucking by joining Karl Rove and America First to turn Bernie voters against Hillary.  Unfortunately, it’s working on some of them as I’ve seen from time lines and feeds.   I’m going to close with this one from MSN and the Daily Beast: Trump, Sanders, and American Ignorance.nixon man thing

Civic participation is one of the most important responsibilities of being an American. I’m o
ld enough to remember when being selected to lead your  homeroom class in the daily Pledge of Allegiance was a source of great pride. As kids, with our hands over our hearts,  shoulders squared, we’d recite those venerable words, “…and to the republic, for which is stands…” with purpose.  Unfortunately, the moral imperative of being a good steward of this great nation and understanding what it takes to preserve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, is an afterthought for many, if any thought at all.

Without question, the insurgent candidacies of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have jolted many Americans out of their normal political malaise. Bringing more citizens into the political fold is a good thing.  But, what many of them are now realizing is that it takes more than just rolling out of bed to rage against the machine at big political rallies to select the next leader of the free world.

Surprise! There are rules involved. Rules governing the presidential election date back to our founding and the establishment of Electoral College. The Constitution also gives latitude to the states in how to structure their nominating process. Electing the president wasn’t necessarily meant to be easy. Nothing worth safeguarding usually is. The founders deliberately designed our constitutional republic that way to avoid the tyrannical pitfalls of past societies like ancient Greece or the monarchies of Europe.

The Framers wanted multi layered stakeholders invested in the best interest of the republic making it less vulnerable to the rash whims of a majority. They understood how pure democracy without checks and balances historically led to the subjugation of minority voices. It was true then and still rings true today. That’s why our constitution does not allow for direct voting to elect the president.

The best thing I’ve seen on the internet for days is this interview with Joy Reid and Sanders Reality Denier Jeff Weaver who was doing his usual Baghdad Bob routine on MSNBC.  Go watch it as she makes this point to him:  “You Only Win White Voters and White Caucuses”.  It’s a hoot!  The fact neither Trump, Nixon or Sanders can fool minority voters or most women just says something, doesn’t it?

That our country was designed to confound populist impresarios is the best thing to remember when all this craziness from populists goes down. They can scream about rules they don’t like and don’t know about.  But, the rules basically come straight out of our Constitution and it’s to stop nonsense like this current round of ratfucking from creating a situation where the leader of the free world is a loud mouthed, egoist, know nothing.  Oh, you can apply that label to which ever candidate you prefer or all of the above.  Remember, the system eventually dealt with Richard Nixon who was everything but a know nothing.  It just took some time.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Did David Koch Buy the VP Nomination for Paul Ryan?

Roger Stone

Via Shawn Russell at Dailykos, former Republican dirty trickster Roger Stone claims to have learned from “sources” that Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan as his VP at the behest of David Koch, who promised in return to donate another $100 million to the Romney/Ryan cause. Stone writes at his blog The Stone Zone:

I’ve waited a few days to lay out my analysis of the selection of Paul Ryan for the VP slot on the Romney ticket. Unlike politicos like Dick Morris who bad-mouths the selection privately and shills for it publicly, I’ll tell you what I really think. My sources tell me David Koch played a key role in Ryan’s selection and that Koch’s wife Julia had been quietly lobbying for Ryan. The selection was cemented at the July 22nd fundraiser Koch held for Romney at the former’s sumptuous Hamptons estate.

Koch pledged $100 million more to C-4 and Super PAC efforts for Romney for Ryan’s selection.

It sounds like a conspiracy theory, but even Joe Conason has weighed in on it. According to Conason:

Any such transaction would represent a serious violation of federal election laws and perhaps other statutes, aside from the ethical and character implications for all concerned. Although Stone is not the most reputable figure, to put it mildly, he has been a Republican insider, with access to the party’s top figures, over four decades. His credentials date back to Nixon’s Committee to Reelect The President and continue through the Reagan White House, the hard-fought Bush campaigns, and the Florida fiasco in 2000, when he masterminded the “Brooks Brothers riot” that shut down the Bush-Gore recount in Miami-Dade. Peruse his site and you’ll see his greatest hits and the attention he has drawn from major publications.

I’ve known Roger personally for years and always considered him intelligent and amusing; also extremely dangerous and even erratic. Sometimes I’ve been surprised by how much he knows about the inner-most workings of his party – even when he is clearly persona non grata among the current power elite. 

Conason says there is a “ring of candor in Stone’s story.” As Conason notes, Roger Stone may have scores to settle with the Republican Party, which he left early this year to register as a Libertarian. Here is what Stone wrote at the time:

To real conservatives the freedom of the individual is paramount. No one should be able to tell you what you can eat, drink, smoke, or marry, or what kind of gun you can own. We don’t want to be snooped on by an all-knowing big brother government. That is the essence of liberty. The Republican Party has become both a party of big government and also an authoritarian party that would tell us how to live.

That the Republican Party can only produce Mitt Romney, who was an independent during the Reagan-Bush years (and only converted to conservatism after serving one term as governor, never intending to run for re-election while always planning to run for president), Newt Gingrich, a thrice-married egomaniac with delusions of grandeur and Rick Santorum, a religious fanatic, who would tell other people how to live, as presidential candidates proves the GOP may be going the way as the Whigs.

As Conason noted, Stone is a wingnut and unpredictable, but he knows everyone in the Republican Party–he was an insider’s insider. He worked for Nixon’s Committee to Reelect the President (CREEP), and worked in the campaigns of every Republican President since Nixon and served as Senior Adviser to Jack Kemp. Stone was accused of being involved in the Willie Horton ads for Bush I, and he is believed to have been the organizer of the “Brooks Brothers Riot” during the Florida recount in 2000.

In 2008, Stone founded Citizens United Not Timid in 2008. He formed the group in order to slime Hillary Clinton (note the initials in the name), and it ultimately morphed into the infamous Citizens United.

In his blog post, Stone wrote of his distaste for Paul Ryan’s claim of being a libertarian. He even criticized Ryan’s wardrobe!

The idea of Paul Ryan as a libertarian is a joke. Ryan is a big government, Washington DC Republican who votes to fund foreign interventionism and the erosion of our civil liberties. Ryan began his political career as an acolyte of one of my heroes, Rep. Jack Kemp. Yet Ryan has wandered far from Kemp’s genuine concern about the poor and disadvantaged. Ryan has become more of a faux deficit hawk and less of a pro-growth proponent.

Then there is the question of Ryan’s clothes. I’m not sure if he gets his threads from the Salvation Army or the Goodwill. His suits are too large as are his dress shirts. He appears to be wearing a plastic belt. The Romney team should enlist supply-side guru Larry Kudlow to coach Ryan, not on economics but on how to dress.

It could be that Stone’s admiration for Jack Kemp is at the root of his disgust with Ryan. Ryan claims Kemp as a mentor, but hasn’t really followed his example.

Yes, I know this sounds crazy, but look at all the craziness we’ve seen so far in the 2012 campaign. We have to ask ourselves: after all the dishonesty we have seen from Mitt Shady, can anyone who is paying attention really dismiss Stone’s allegations out of hand?

UPDATE: Roger Stone was not involved in the founding of Citizens United. That organization was founded in 1988 and has been headed by David Bossie since 2000. Thanks to Violet Socks for the correction.