Saturday, February 25, 2017
If nothing else, narcissistic bigot Donald "Rump" Trump hates being contradicted or corrected. After all, he's always the smartest guy in the room, just ask him. So that's why the days of his new National Security Advisor, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster may be numbered. It's been reported that Thursday, at an all-hands meeting of the National Security Council staff, McMaster told them that the term so popular with Rump and the Islamaphobes on the right, "radical Islamic terrorism," was not helpful in the fight against ISIS, al Qaeda and other jihadists. It's widely known that the use of the modifier "Islamic" is offensive to Muslim allies who are on the front lines with us, and a recruiting tool for the radical groups who have hijacked Islam and who want to portray the fight as a religious clash with Christianity. It's a 180 degree shift from his predecessor, conspiracy theorist and nutjob Michael Flynn.
With such unhinged Islamaphobes as chief "strategist" and Rump's string puller Steve "Loose Cannon" Bannon and his sidekick, little Stephen "Dead Eyes" Miller, with easy access to Rump, we're thinking that McMaster may not want to get settled in just yet.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) has seen the leaked House Republican bill* to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and he has some thoughts:
Let me count thy ways that the leaked GOP ACA repeal plan will totally, completely, monumentally screw you.— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) February 24, 2017
(1) You get a couple thousand bucks to help u buy insurance. That's it. If u aren't rich or healthy, u won't be able to afford anything.— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) February 24, 2017
(2) It gets worse. When u can't afford your premiums bc the tax credit is too small, you get a huge penalty when you try to sign up again.— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) February 24, 2017
(3) Coverage mandates and penalties only work if you make insurance affordable. GOP plan cuts subsidies so much that penalty is unworkable.— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) February 24, 2017
(4) Mandatory benefits are repealed. So even if you CAN get insurance, it doesn't have to cover ANYTHING. Out of pocket expenses skyrocket.— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) February 24, 2017
(5) Oh, and Medicaid expansion is effectively GONE. Millions and millions lose coverage, start using ERs again for health care. Others die.— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) February 25, 2017
(6) Last rant, for now. If you're older, your premiums go WAY up. GOP plan guts premium protections for older consumers.— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) February 25, 2017
* We would offer working titles for the Republican bill: "Afflicting the Afflicted, and Comforting the Comfortable Act of 2017" or perhaps "The Real Health Care Death Panels Act of 2017" or maybe "The Ayn Rand - Paul Ryan Health Care Dystopia Act of 2017." Just remember -- it's all about Freedumb!
(click on images to enlarge)
|Cover art: Barry Blitt|
The New Yorker has captured the zeitgeist of life in the U.S. since 1925, and this week's cover is no exception. It's a take off on the magazine's first cover (below). It's also the first time that the "New Yorker" in the magazine's title is in a foreign language -- in this case, Russian/Cyrillic, appropriately.
Here's the iconic image from the very first edition of The New Yorker in February, 1925 by artist Rea Irvin:
The Trump administration has enlisted senior members of the intelligence community and Congress in efforts to counter news stories about Trump associates’ ties to Russia, a politically charged issue that has been under investigation by the FBI as well as lawmakers now defending the White House.
Acting at the behest of the White House, the officials made calls to news organizations last week in attempts to challenge stories about alleged contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives, U.S. officials said.
The calls were orchestrated by the White House after unsuccessful attempts by the administration to get senior FBI officials to speak with news organizations and dispute the accuracy of stories on the alleged contacts with Russia. [snip]
The officials broadly dismissed Trump associates’ contacts with Russia as infrequent and inconsequential. But the officials would not answer substantive questions about the issue, and their comments were not published by The Post and do not appear to have been reported elsewhere. [snip]
The effort also involved senior lawmakers with access to classified intelligence about Russia, including Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chairmen of the Senate and House intelligence committees. A spokesman for Nunes said that he had already begun speaking to reporters to challenge the story and that, “at the request of a White House communications aide, Chairman Nunes then spoke to an additional reporter and delivered the same message.”The involvement of Burr and the villainous Nunes in assisting the White (supremacist) House fight the Rump/ Putin connection firestorm is alone enough to justify having a Special Prosecutor take over the investigations. As far as any "investigation" by these rats, Republican Sen. Rand Paul gave the game away when he said, "I just don't think it's useful to be doing investigation after investigation, particularly of your own party." Also, the contacts with the intelligence community, once again, subvert confidence in their independence and impartiality:
Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, issued a statement Friday evening saying that if the White House “contrived to have intelligence officials contradict unfavorable news reports, this represents a new and even more grave threat to the independence of the intelligence community.”Remember, the bottom line was this:
U.S. intelligence reports cite multiple contacts between members of Trump’s team and Russians with links to the Kremlin, during the campaign and afterward, according to officials who have seen them. Such reports were based on intercepted Russian communications and other sources, the officials said.
Nunes, who served as a member of Trump’s transition team, has resisted calls for his House committee to investigate alleged contacts between Trump associates and Russia. He said in an interview that after months of investigations, U.S. authorities have turned up no evidence of such contacts.At some point down the road, if events unfold as we hope and expect, all those who engaged in trying to derail or coverup this emerging scandal must be judged and held accountable.
BONUS: As Silver Spring Bureau Chief Brian notes in the comments, weasel- made- man Rep. Darrell Issa (Weasel- CA) is also calling for a special prosecutor. Hmm.
Friday, February 24, 2017
In a crude, rinky- dink authoritarian gesture intended to intimidate, silence and delegitimatize media criticism of their ongoing shitshow, several news organizations were prohibited from a White (supremacist) House briefing today:
The New York Times and CNN, both of which have reported critically on the administration and are frequent targets of President Donald Trump, were prohibited from attending. The Huffington Post was also denied entry. [Ed.: as was the Los Angeles Times and Politico]
Both the Associated Press and Time magazine, which were allowed to enter, boycotted out of solidarity with those news organizations kept out.Just who, then, was invited?
The White House also invited journalists from conservative outlets such as Breitbart News, The Washington Times and One American News Network, sparking concerns that the administration was playing favorites with certain politically aligned outlets.This behavior on the part of the little Goebbels in the Press Office tells us that, as part of the "media is the opposition party" strategy of real President Steve "Loose Cannon" Bannon, the goal is to delegitimatize those who eventually will be bringing to light the facts of neo- fascist Putin poodle Donald "Rump" Trump's treasonous ties to the Kremlin. It's the old Nixonian "modified limited hangout" strategy updated and pre- weaponized for today's foaming- at- the- mouth right wing media machine (see paragraph above).
A number of news organizations have responded to this strong arming tactic, as well as the White House Correspondents Association (which might see a lot of empty tables at its annual ethics challenged schmooze fest with the Stormtrumpers on April 29). Here's CNN's response:
CNN was blocked from WH @PressSec's media gaggle today. This is our response: pic.twitter.com/8SfY2uYKEI— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) February 24, 2017
As Masha Gessen pointed out in her prescient "Autocracy: Rules for Survival" back in November, this is straight out of the Putin playbook:
The national press is likely to be among the first institutional victims of Trumpism. There is no law that requires the presidential administration to hold daily briefings, none that guarantees media access to the White House. Many journalists may soon face a dilemma long familiar to those of us who have worked under autocracies: fall in line or forfeit access. There is no good solution (even if there is a right answer), for journalism is difficult and sometimes impossible without access to information.They're following the script so far.
Note to media: If you’re still in the room, that means the WH approves of your tone and content. https://t.co/8neThbuR2X— Seth Masket (@smotus) February 24, 2017
Jay Farrar formed alt- rock/ country Son Volt in 1994 following the breakup of Uncle Tupelo, a band he started with Jeff Tweedy (Wilco) and Mike Heidorn. "Back Against The Wall" is a song from Son Volt's just- released album, "Notes of Blue." We can't help but notice that the lyrics mirror how many of us feel in these days of darkness:
No time to be wayward,
No time to be unwound,
With darkness at your doorstep
Keep your feet on the ground.
There will be times of injustice
Times when there's more lost than found
Downtimes mixed with days of wonder
A real live spinning merry-go-round...
What survives the long cold winter
Will be stronger, can't be undone.
At the urging of the White (Supremacist) House, some Republicans are saying "paid protesters" account for the throngs of angry citizens showing up at their town hall meetings. Otherwise, what other earthly reason would they have to show up?
(click on images to enlarge)
(Matt Davies, Newsday)
(Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Crowd at CPAC waving these little pro-Trump flags that look exactly like the Russian flag. Staffers quickly come around to confiscate them. pic.twitter.com/YhPpkwFCNc— Peter Hamby (@PeterHamby) February 24, 2017
This couldn't have been more delicious, to have the goobers in the audience at the CPAC mud wallow waving Russian flags with Trump's name emblazoned on them. "Alt-Rightie" then!
Here's a closeup of the Trump flag (h/t Crooks & Liars):
And the Russian flag:
UPDATE: Some outlets are reporting that this was an epic trolling of the mouthbreathers at CPAC, many of whom were unaware that it was the Russian flag with Rump's name on it that they were gleefully waving. Either way, the stupid burns.
According to new reporting from CNN, White (Supremacist) House chief-of-staff and human/weasel hybrid Reince "Prepuce" Priebus tried to get the FBI to knock down reports in the New York Times indicating that there was frequent contact between Russian officials and the campaign of narcissist and Putin poodle Donald "Rump" Trump. The FBI rejected the request, saying that the investigation into those contacts was ongoing. In addition, ever since the Watergate era, when the Nixon and his co-conspirators meddled in the Justice Department's business, contacts between the FBI and White House are barred except in very limited situations and only to the President, Vice President, General Counsel and Deputy General Counsel. Prepuce apparently talked to FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe after the New York Times story appeared.
Prepuce and the White House are now claiming that the FBI suggested that the allegations of contacts between the campaign and Russia were inaccurate, despite the fact that the Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov claimed just days after the election that there were contacts between Russian officials and the campaign. Numerous sources in the intelligence community have also alleged frequent contacts, and Rump campaign aides Paul Manafort and Carter Page were known to have ties to Russian officials and business there.
This White House has a habit of making bad choices in their phone calls, especially when the calls involve Russia. With this Nixonian attempt to steer the FBI investigation, it should be clear that Rump is desperately trying to change the subject and bury the evidence. Prepuce, an empty suit and hack, is all too willing to help his boss in that effort.
BONUS: Someone is acting like he has something to hide --
The FBI is totally unable to stop the national security "leakers" that have permeated our government for a long time. They can't even......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 24, 2017
Can't have those leaks! Looks like a job for Nixon & Co. Plumbers!find the leakers within the FBI itself. Classified information is being given to media that could have a devastating effect on U.S. FIND NOW— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 24, 2017
BONUS II: Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe had this to say about Prepuce's contact:
"[I]t could well be attempted obstruction of justice, and it’s certainly so unethical that it would be a firing offense for a chief of staff in any White House that respects the rule of law.”As with the Michael Flynn episode, Prepuce was likely just following a direct order from the shitgibbon.
BONUS III: Charles Pierce on how another Republican President tried to use Federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies to influence an investigation, with disastrous consequences.
Thursday, February 23, 2017
Last night at an Austin Bar and Grill in Olathe, Kansas, two men of Indian origin were shot by an unhinged loon who shouted "get out of my country" at them before brandishing a gun and shooting both men. One of the men later died. Also shot was an onlooker who tried to stop the killer, identified as Adam Purinton of Olathe. The two Indian men are employees of a Garmin facility in that city. Purinton fled the scene and was arrested this morning in Clinton, MO as he drank at a bar, where he told a bartender that he needed a place to hide. He's been charged with one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder.
Purinton likely viewed the two Indian victims as Middle Eastern. There has been a surge in hate crimes against Muslims in the past few months, as the supporters of bigoted demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump feel they now have permission to attack people that are (or may not be) Muslim because of their leader's white nationalist dog whistles to them and refusal to speak out against bigots. Whether it's Rump's Muslim travel ban or his aggressive deportation of undocumented Latinos, people like this miserable lowlife want to pitch in and "help" their leader make America white again.
(photo: Henry County, MO sheriff's department)
All the talk at the crusty white people's Conservative Political Action Conference today was about the joint appearance by the Oscar Madison and Felix Ungar of the alt- right, Steve "Loose Cannon" Bannon and Reince "Prepuce" Priebus. Fighting off rumors that they're continually stabbing each other in the back to gain more power in Trumpland, they may have taken the buddy buddy act a bit too far:
In case anyone's counting, Priebus has touched Bannon's leg four times during this 18 minute interview— Olivia Becker (@oliviaLbecker) February 23, 2017
But, apparently, permission doesn't go both ways:
Please tell me somebody else saw Priebus' reaction to Bannon trying to touch him. #CPAC2017 pic.twitter.com/oNXGEvgNhv— Kyle Alvarado (@KJAlvarado124) February 23, 2017
Perhaps this is why Priebus reacted as he did:
If you look closely you can see Bannon's hand up @Reince's ass.— Christopher R Walker (@TheLoki47) February 23, 2017
With the firehose of outrageous actions and statements coming out of the White (Supremacist) House and the Rethuglican Party these days, it's hard to keep up. However, the most critical issue at the core of neo-fascist demagogue Donald "Rump" Trump's political existence is uncovering what ties him to his almost slavish loyalty to Russia and its autocratic leader. We can be certain that little, if anything, will be thoroughly and independently investigated by the party-before-country Rethugs in the House or Senate, despite being shamed in countless town hall sessions with angry and suspicious constituents. Senate Rethugs, with the possible exception of the McCain/Graham show, predictably will shirk their duties also, especially with amoral clown Mitch "Missy" McConnell controlling the agenda as Majority Leader.
In his article at AlterNet, Joe Conason explains that the Rump-Russia connection has much more to be revealed, and that the dossier compiled by former British intelligence official Christopher Steele is gaining more credence with our intelligence agencies (and those of Western allies) as some elements of that dossier are gradually being corroborated by those agencies. Among the tangle of confidential meetings and interplay with shady Russian oligarchs described in the dossier, Conason notes one major allegation: that state-owned Russian energy giant Rosneft was prepared to give Rump and his associates/partners 19% of the company in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. The money would be laundered through a number of fronts and shell companies so as to conceal the ultimate recipients. What makes the allegation resonate is that Rosneft privatized 19.5% of its shares late last year, roughly a year after the Steele dossier was compiled, making Steele either clairvoyant or the allegation believable.
There's increasingly more fire than smoke appearing in the Rump-Russia connection, and it needs to be investigated independently before the party-before-country Rethuglicans have a chance to bury it.
What are the evil bastards up to now?
Rolling back protections for transgender students:
President Donald Trump’s administration announced on Wednesday that it will no longer bar schools from discriminating against transgender students, rescinding a policy put in place by the previous administration. [snip]
[Trump Press Secretary "Spicy" Sean] Spicer said Tuesday that the president considered transgender rights to be “a states’ rights issue and not one for the federal government.”
“I find it obscene that Mr. Spicer would characterize the well-being, the health and the very safety of transgender young people as an issue of states’ rights,” responded Eliza Byard, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. “The fact is that no child in America should have their rights subject to their zip code.”Providing the "freedom" of living without affordable health insurance:
As with their "socialized medicine" scary blabber when Medicare/ Medicaid was introduced 50 years ago, the far right has the same talking point:
Freedom is the ability to buy what you want to fit what you need. Obamacare is Washington telling you what to buy regardless of your needs.— Paul Ryan (@PRyan) February 21, 2017
Fortunately, we have things called "facts" and "history":
More than half a century later, Medicare hasn’t created a totalitarian dystopia. Instead, it has allowed generations of seniors to access the medical care they need, while sparing them the hardship and indignity of financial ruin. That’s arguably a huge increase in freedom, much like the Affordable Care Act seeks to deliver now.Or, what she said:
Don't pretend ACA is like making everyone buy a car with a sunroof. It makes sure dealers can't sell you a car without brakes. https://t.co/K6rNwKJsUZ— Deborah Roseman (@roseperson) February 22, 2017
Sending out the Trump Deportation Squad to terrorize immigrants:
The Department of Homeland Security Tuesday laid out the Trump administration's plans for aggressive enforcement of immigration laws, including a potentially massive expansion of the number of people detained and deported. [snip]
The fundamental shift in US policy will likely continue to provoke fear in immigrant communities of a vast expansion of the government's use of its enforcement powers to potentially deport undocumented immigrants who have lived in their communities for years, and may have family members who are legal US residents or citizens.Some of these "aggressive enforcement" actions sound more like the actions of sadists with axes to grind.
Remember, these are the same hypocrites who believe in "family values" and the "sanctity of life," at least before birth and only if you're of the Christian Caucasian persuasion.
Letting the fox "guard" the environmental chicken coop:
As Oklahoma’s attorney general, Scott Pruitt, now the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, closely coordinated with major oil and gas producers, electric utilities and political groups with ties to the libertarian billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch to roll back environmental regulations, according to over 6,000 pages of emails made public on Wednesday.
The publication of the correspondence comes just days after Mr. Pruitt was sworn in to run the E.P.A., which is charged with reining in pollution and regulating public health. Senate Democrats tried last week to postpone a final vote until the emails could be made public, but Republicans beat back the delay and approved his confirmation on Friday largely along party lines.Nice touch that the party- before- country Senate Republicans rushed ahead to confirm Pruitt before the emails could be introduced at his confirmation hearing, not that it would've changed the outcome.
All of this is churning while we wait for the truth to come out on the Rump- Putin connection (stay tuned for our next post). No wonder they're moving so fast.
BONUS: Seth Meyers on Rump's wall and immigration policies --
A CLOSER LOOK at Trump's wall and immigration policies https://t.co/u2x7wp4gpW— Seth Meyers (@sethmeyers) February 23, 2017