Friday, May 26, 2017

Last Call For The Return Of The Steve

The unstoppable Steve M. notes that the Trump regime is hitting the mattresses after Donny's global embarrassment tour, and that means the return to power of Steve Bannon:

So Bannon -- who is allegedly "super savvy" -- is responsible for "misdirections" like trying to change the subject to Bill Clinton's decades-old sexual behavior after Trump's Access Hollywood tape broke. Here's my question: How effective was that misdirection effort? Apart from any Fox-addicted wingnuts you know, did you hear anyone talking about it? If so, was anyone talking about it for days and days? Whereas we all talked about the Trump "grab 'em by the pussy" tape for days and days -- longer, in fact. We're still talking about it.

My point is that Bannon might not actually change what most Americans are talking about. What he's skilled at doing is changing what right-wingers are talking about. And maybe that's worth it to Trump, because he seems to believe he can save his presidency as long as 80+ percent of Republicans still support him without question
.

So if you have even a glancing exposure to right-wing media, expect to hear a lot of names that make you ask, "Isn't this person completely out of power now?" Susan Rice. Valerie Jarrett. Donna Brazile. (Why, here's a story about Donna Brazile at Joe the Plumber's website right now.) Expect even more on Seth Rich. Expect terror scares and "knockout game" scares and Black-Lives-Matter-is-going-to-kill-all-white-people scares. The Russia investigations might strike more and more pay dirt, but your right-wing relatives won't even know.

Steve's right on this.  What you and I think about Trump is irrelevant as to whether or not Trump stays in power until the end of his term.  What the people who voted for Trump think of him -- and what those Republican voters can do to GOP members of Congress -- is now the only thing that matters.

As long as Bannon can keep Trump's numbers up among the faithful, he will survive politically due to the power of the office, and due to the cowardice of the GOP that brought him to power.  Nobody wants to be the "Traitor That Brought Down Trump" because they know good and well what they've been saying needs to happen to "traitors" in this country.

So why is that important?  Because of tonight's Friday night news dump.

Jared Kushner and Russia’s ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, according to U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports.

Ambassador Sergei Kislyak reported to his superiors in Moscow that Kushner, son-in-law and confidant to then-President-elect Trump, made the proposal during a meeting on Dec. 1 or 2 at Trump Tower, according to intercepts of Russian communications that were reviewed by U.S. officials. Kislyak said Kushner suggested using Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States for the communications.

The meeting also was attended by Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser.

The White House disclosed the fact of the meeting only in March, playing down its significance. But people familiar with the matter say the FBI now considers the encounter, as well as another meeting Kushner had with a Russian banker, to be of investigative interest.

Kislyak reportedly was taken aback by the suggestion of allowing an American to use Russian communications gear at its embassy or consulate — a proposal that would have carried security risks for Moscow as well as the Trump team.

This is pretty much as bad as it gets for Kushner right now. Neither the WH nor the Russians are denying this story tonight.

But it gets worse for them.

Oleg V. Deripaska, a Russian oligarch once close to President Trump’s former campaign manager, has offered to cooperate with congressional committees investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, but lawmakers are unwilling to accept his conditions, according to congressional officials.

Mr. Deripaska’s offer comes amid increased attention to his ties to Paul Manafort, who is one of several Trump associates under F.B.I. scrutiny for possible collusion with Russia during the presidential campaign. The two men did business together in the mid-2000s, when Mr. Manafort, a Republican operative, was also providing campaign advice to Kremlin-backed politicians in Ukraine. Their relationship subsequently soured and devolved into a lawsuit.

Mr. Deripaska, an aluminum magnate who is a member of the inner circle of the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, recently offered to cooperate with congressional intelligence committees in exchange for a grant of full immunity, according to three congressional officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the issue publicly. But the Senate and House panels turned him down because of concerns that immunity agreements create complications for federal criminal investigators, the officials said.

Mr. Deripaska, who lives in Moscow, has long had difficulty traveling to the United States. The State Department has refused to issue him a business visa because of concerns over allegations that he was connected to organized crime, according to a former United States government official, which Mr. Deripaska has denied.

A lot of Trump's inner circle are going down and soon.  But Trump?  Trump's not going anywhere.

Not yet.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

As expected, the story last week that "a White House official in Trump's inner circle" was under FBI investigation now has a name attached to it: Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and one of his senior advisers, has come under FBI scrutiny in the Russia investigation, multiple U.S. officials told NBC News. 
Investigators believe Kushner has significant information relevant to their inquiry, officials said. That does not mean they suspect him of a crime or intend to charge him. 
The FBI's scrutiny of Kushner places the bureau's sprawling counterintelligence and criminal investigation not only on the doorstep of the White House, but the Trump family circle. The Washington Post first reported last week that a senior White House official close to Trump was a "person of interest," but did not name the person. The term "person of interest" has no legal meaning. 
The officials said Kushner is in a different category from former Trump aides Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, who are formally considered subjects of the investigation. According to the Justice Department's U.S. Attorneys' Manual, "A 'subject' of an investigation is a person whose conduct is within the scope of the grand jury's investigation." 
Records of both Manafort and Flynn have been demanded by grand jury subpoenas, NBC News has reported.

I said last Friday that Kushner or Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would make the most sense as the "person of interest" as they are the ones who have the major ties to Russian business interests if the FBI is playing follow the money, Kushner with real estate, and Tillerson with oil.

Still, it means the grand jury investigation into Trump and Russia now has reached Kushner.  Things are moving pretty quickly at this point, and it means the investigation is expanding, not "going away" like the GOP is claiming.

Meanwhile lawmakers want to talk to special counsel Robert Mueller, and soon.

A growing number of key lawmakers in both parties are calling on Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller to detail what specifically his Russia investigation is targeting, with one Democratic senator warning bluntly that failing to do so could jeopardize the criminal probe into President Donald Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn. 
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, the top Democrat on a Judiciary subcommittee, told CNN Thursday that it's possible Flynn is cooperating with the Justice Department -- and that Capitol Hill has not been kept in the loop. He warned that congressional probes that have subpoenaed Flynn for records could undercut Mueller's investigation if the former national security adviser is secretly working with the Justice Department as part of its broader investigation into possible collusion between Russian officials and Trump associates during the campaign season. 
"There is at least a reasonable hypothesis that Mike Flynn is already cooperating with the DOJ investigation and perhaps even has been for some time," said Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat.

Pay attention to what Sen. Whitehouse is saying here.  Why would Flynn be cooperating with Mueller when he's not with Congress?

We know at this point that while Flynn is resisting congressional subpoenas, it doesn't mean he's not talking to Mueller, which actually makes sense.  If Flynn is trying to get a deal, things could start going south fast for Trump and the rest.  There's only one possible target that Flynn could deliver to make the FBI even begin to consider this, and it's Tang the Conqueror himself.

Question is does Flynn actually have the goods? And is everyone at the FBI willing to bet their careers on Flynn actually having enough evidence to bring down a president?

Either way, it looks like Trump's real boss is going to get his payoff soon regardless.

President Trump is weighing changes to U.S. sanctions against Russia
, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn said Wednesday.

"I think the president is looking at it," Cohn told reporters aboard Air Force One, when asked about the president's position on Russian sanctions. "Right now, we don’t have a position."

Drip, drip, drip, Donny.

Slamming Home The Point

So how did Montana Republican Greg Gianforte win last night's special election to replace Trump Interior Secretary' Ryan Zinke's House seat by 7 points, despite being charged with assault the day before the election?

I'm glad you asked.

One, Montana went for Trump by 21 points in November.  Gianforte ran and won by 7.  That was a huge swing away from Trump, but it wasn't quite enough for Democrat Rob Quist to get the win.  It should still worry the hell out of the GOP though.  13-14 point swings towards the Dems in the generic Congressional ballot means a huge Dem takeover in November 2018 if that holds.

Two, Libertarian Mark Wicks got 6% of the vote.  If Wicks wasn't in the race at all, this would have been much closer.  Yes, Quist still would have lost as Gianforte got more than 50% +1 of the vote, but it would have been a 2-3 point win rather than 7-8.  And that would have been a complete shocker.  If you assume that Wicks got a healthy amount of anti-Gianforte votes that would have gone to Quist, Wicks definitely helped Gianforte.

Three, Dems gave up on this race far too early.




C'mon.  Quist was outspent almost 10-1.  And yet when Dems chose to spend money to help Dem Gov. Steve Bullock win re-election and stayed competitive on campaign spending, Bullock was able to beat Gianforte by 4 points even as Trump got a 21 point win in the state.

Dems abandoned Quist, period.  The money wasn't there.  The GOP money was and they won.  By the time the Dems realized they had a race on their hands, the GOP upped the money they spent on it again.

Yes, it cost the GOP $5 million to defend Montana's at-large House seat.  But they won.

Here endeth the lesson.


StupidiNews!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Last Call For Mitch's Big Punt

The House has passed Trumpcare 3.0, but the Senate may punt on repealing and replacing Obamacare with a disaster of a plan and put it off until 2020.

Senate Republicans are weighing a two-step process to replace Obamacare that would postpone a repeal until 2020, as they seek to draft a more modest version than a House plan that nonpartisan analysts said would undermine some insurance markets. 
Republicans -- in the early stages of private talks on the Senate plan -- say they may first take action to stabilize premium costs in Obamacare’s insurance-purchasing exchanges in 2018 and 2019. Major insurers have said they will leave the individual market in vast regions of states including North Dakota, Iowa and Missouri. 
A Senate plan is likely to continue subsidies that help low-income Americans with co-pays and deductibles, said third-ranking Republican John Thune of South Dakota. White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said Thursday the administration hasn’t committed to paying subsidies due in June -- which would create additional uncertainty for insurers as they set rates for next year. 
“There clearly has to be a short-term solution that works with the transition until some of our long-term policy changes can take effect,” Thune told reporters. “There’s got to be certainty in the marketplace.” 
The private Senate GOP negotiations include a 13-member leadership-controlled working group as well as almost daily closed-door discussions among all Senate Republicans. In addition, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine has convened bipartisan talks with about a dozen senators.

How far this plan will get, I couldn't tell you.  If the Senate goes this route they can't use budget reconciliation, which means they'd have to get Democratic votes to pass it.  Whether the House GOP will go along with anything that the Senate Democrats had a hand in is again anyone's guess.

Stiil, as we've seen, the devil is in those details (and the CBO score).  We know the House plan as is will wreck health care for millions of families, and the plan is more unpopular than Obamacare ever was, even in the dark days of 2010.

And we all know what happened to the Dems in 2010 when they passed health care legislation.

We'll see.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

We already know that the Trump regime knew Mike Flynn was under FBI investigation for being a representative of a foreign government when he was hired by Trump as National Security Adviser, today we find out that, as long expected, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort remained in contact with Trump months after being fired for his Kremlin ties.

Months after the FBI began examining Paul Manafort as part of a probe into ties between President Donald Trump’s team and Russia, Manafort called Trump’s chief of staff Reince Priebus to push back against the mounting controversy, according to four people familiar with the call.

It was about a week before Trump’s inauguration, and Manafort wanted to brief Trump’s team on the alleged inaccuracies in a recently released dossier of memos written by a former British spy for Trump’s opponents that alleged compromising ties between Russia, Trump and Trump’s associates, including Manafort.

“On the day that the dossier came out in the press, Paul called Reince, as a responsible ally of the president would do, and said this story about me is garbage, and a bunch of the other stuff in there seems implausible,” said a person close to Manafort.

Manafort had been forced to resign as Trump’s campaign chairman five months earlier amid scrutiny of his work for Kremlin-aligned politicians and businessmen in Eastern Europe. But he had continued talking to various members of Trump’s team, and had even had at least two conversations with Trump, according to people close to Manafort or Trump.

While the people say the conversations were mostly of a political or, in some cases, personal nature, the conversation with Priebus, described by four people familiar with it, was related to the scandal now subsuming Manafort and the Trump presidency.

It suggests that Manafort recognized months ago the potentially serious problems posed by the investigation, even as Trump himself continues to publicly dismiss it as a politically motivated witch hunt, while predicting it won’t find anything compromising.

The discussion also could provide fodder for an expanding line of inquiry for both the FBI and congressional investigators. They’ve increasingly focused on the Trump team’s handling of the investigations, including evolving explanations from the White House, and the president’s unsuccessful efforts to get the FBI to drop part of the investigation, followed by his firing of FBI director James Comey. All that has led to claims that the president and his team may have opened themselves to obstruction of justice charges.

It wasn't the Watergate hotel break-in itself that sunk Nixon, but the increasingly stupid and paranoid efforts to cover it up that ended his presidency.   Understand that since Manafort and Flynn remain under investigation and have for months now before Trump's inauguration, that these phone conversations in January have almost certainly been recorded as evidence in that investigation.

In other words, it's looking pretty bad for Trump and everyone involved with him.  And that's just the cover-up angle.  The money laundering is separate and could take down Trump too.

He is facing both.

By the way, there's reason to believe that Reince Preibus might be the next domino to fall in this mess.  As White House Chief of Staff, he would have had contact with all the players in this little game: Flynn, Manafort, Carter Page, Jared Kushner, and of course Trump himself.  James Comey talked to Priebus in February, and Comey's notes on that conversation might be the nail in his coffin as well.

Of course if it isn't Priebus, it might be Jeff Sessions who's in trouble now, as he's facing new questions about lying about his contacts with our friends in Moscow on his security clearance paperwork.

It's going to get crowded in the dock soon, I would think.

But Her Emails, Con't

Well then, it looks like we just got one of the big puzzle pieces in the whole Russia/Trump affair late on Wednesday, and our good friends the Russians were definitely in the fake news business, so much so that they even got to the FBI and James Comey about the Clintons.

In the midst of the 2016 presidential primary season, the FBI received a purported Russian intelligence document describing a tacit understanding between the campaign of Hillary Clinton and the Justice Department over the inquiry into whether she intentionally revealed classified information through her use of a private email server
The Russian document mentioned a supposed email describing how then-Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch had privately assured someone in the Clinton campaign that the email investigation would not push too deeply into the matter — a conversation that if made public would cast doubt on the inquiry’s integrity. 
Current and former officials have said that document played a significant role in the July decision by then-FBI Director James B. Comey to announce on his own, without Justice Department involvement, that the investigation was over. That public announcement — in which he criticized Clinton and made extensive comments about the evidence — set in motion a chain of other FBI moves that Democrats now say helped Trump win the presidential election. 
But according to the FBI’s own assessment, the document was bad intelligence — and according to people familiar with its contents, possibly even a fake sent to confuse the bureau. The Americans mentioned in the Russian document insist they do not know each other, do not speak to each other and never had any conversations remotely like the ones described in the document. Investigators have long doubted its veracity, and by August the FBI had concluded it was unreliable. 
The document, obtained by the FBI, was a piece of purported analysis by Russian intelligence, the people said. It referred to an email supposedly written by the then-chair of the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.),and sent to Leonard Benardo, an official with the Open Society Foundations, an organization founded by billionaire George Soros and dedicated to promoting democracy.

The Russian document did not contain a copy of the email, but it described some of the contents of the purported message. 
In the supposed email, Wasserman Schultz claimed Lynch had been in private communication with a senior Clinton campaign staffer named Amanda Renteria during the campaign. The document indicated Lynch had told Renteria that she would not let the FBI investigation into Clinton go too far, according to people familiar with it. 
Current and former officials have argued that the secret document gave Comey good reason to take the extraordinary step over the summer of announcing the findings of the Clinton investigation himself without Justice Department involvement.

Comey had little choice, these people have said, because he feared that if Lynch announced no charges against Clinton, and then the secret document leaked, the legitimacy of the entire case would be questioned.

And that is the answer to the question of why Comey came forward with the news that Clinton was under investigation.  He thought he had to, because of Russian intel, which we now know was false.

Of course, this means that the Russians planted false info so "incriminating" on Clinton that Comey did all the work, torpedoing Clinton's campaign.  Even the FBI had figured it out by August, but by then the damage was done.  The second time Comey came forward on Anthony Weiner's laptop was the finisher, but that would not have been possible without the Russian hit job on Clinton that was first received by the FBI in March of 2016.

America was played.

We elected Trump as a result.  If this story is true, then this was most successful Russian intel operation in history, and arguably an act of war.

Trump must resign.

StupidiNews!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Last Call For Russian To Judgment

Today's story on Trump/Russia misdeeds and the investigations into them takes us to see our good friends Zee Germans, who may be well more involved in Trump's possible Russian money laundering than previously thought.

Democratic lawmakers asked Deutsche Bank AG to hand over its findings on two politically charged matters -- its banking on behalf of now-President Donald Trump and trades from the bank’s Moscow operation that helped move some $10 billion out of Russia. 
Representative Maxine Waters of California and four other Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee asked the Frankfurt-based lender for its internal report about its conduct in the Russian “mirror trading” scandal. They also asked for any internal review of Trump’s business dealings with the bank, descriptions of which have surfaced in news reports. 
The lawmakers asked whether the bank’s loans to Trump, made years before the New York developer ran for president, “were guaranteed by the Russian government, or were in any way connected to Russia.” A copy of the letter sent to the bank was reviewed by Bloomberg News. 
Deutsche Bank declined to comment on the letter. Its shares fell on the news, sliding 1.1 percent to 16.93 euros at 4:39 p.m. in Frankfurt, the fourth-worst performance among 46 European companies in the Stoxx 600 Banks Index. 
As the minority party in Congress, the Democrats don’t have the power to force Deutsche Bank to make any disclosures. It’s not clear whether Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas, the chairman of the committee, shares his colleagues’ interest in the matter. Hensarling’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. 
The same group of Democrats demanded in March that Hensarling hold a hearing to explore the bank’s conduct in the Russian mirror-trading scandal, as part of an effort to ensure that the Justice Department investigation wasn’t influenced by the lender’s relationship with Trump. No hearing has been scheduled. 
The mirror-trading scheme allowed some of the bank’s wealthy clients in Moscow to convert rubles into western currency through the simultaneous purchase and sale of publicly traded shares, investigators have found. 
The Democrats cited Deutsche Bank’s previous compliance failures, which have resulted in more than $6 billion in fines and penalties to U.S. regulators since 2015. Along with the internal review of the Russian stock-trading scheme, they are seeking any internal correspondence and communications related to loans extended to Trump and his immediate family members. The bank has made more than $300 million in loans to Trump, for the Doral golf resort in Florida, a Washington, D.C., hotel and a Chicago tower.

This is a huge, huge clue as to where the Trump organization stuff is going on Russia.  The money trail is going to be key here, and when they finally go full Capone on this asshole, it's going to be exquisite.

Follow the dirty money.  It goes to Moscow.  And Vlad is getting a hell of a deal with his purchase.

Meanwhile In Bevinstan

If you thought that Donald Trump was the only Republican regularly looking to get rid of newspapers who write critical stories, you should meet Kentucky GOP Gov. Matt Bevin, no fan of either of the state's two largest papers.

Gov. Matt Bevin took to Facebook Live on Tuesday evening to blast a Courier-Journal story about his approach to the media, comparing reporters who have been ignored by his office to noisy insects. 
"They will beg to differ and that's their prerogative, but it is our option to disregard people that don't take their responsibility seriously in our estimation," he said. "There's only a handful of them. They make a lot of noise. They're like cicadas." 
In recent months, the governor's office has largely ignored requests for comment from some of Kentucky's major news outlets, including the Courier-Journal, the Lexington Herald-Leader and WAVE 3 News, choosing to go on social media or do radio interviews with friendly hosts instead. Reporter Joe Sonka of Insider Louisville has even started a running tally of how many emails he and his colleagues have sent to Bevin's spokespersons without getting a response
The governor also has publicly criticized several individual reporters after they wrote stories he disliked. He didn't name names in his Facebook video on Tuesday, but he did single out the Courier-Journal and the Lexington Herald-Leader as newsrooms that "don't actually seem to care about Kentucky." He noted that both news outlets are owned by companies based outside the commonwealth. 
Bevin, who was born in Colorado, raised in New Hampshire and went to college in Virginia, moved to Louisville in 1999. In 2011, he assumed the leadership of his family company, Bevin Brothers Manufacturing, a bell maker based in Connecticut. 
The reporters whose requests aren't returned "are not serious journalists," Bevin said, adding that Courier-Journal subscribers are throwing their money away. The targets of his criticism have included the Courier-Journal's Tom Loftus, a member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame. 
"Anytime a politician tells you not to read the work of watchdog journalists, it should raise a red flag," said Joel Christopher, the Courier-Journal's executive editor. "It's like the circus magician telling you to watch his hands." 
The governor did not mention any of Loftus' recent reports scrutinizing the $1.6 million purchase of the Anchorage home in which he and his family now reside. It is unclear who owns the company that purchased it. Nor did the governor mention stories the Courier-Journal has done on the state's ballooning pension crisis, a topic on which he says the state's media should focus. 
In an email late Tuesday evening, Herald-Leader editor Peter Baniak said: "The Herald-Leader has a decades-long record of reporting and writing about issues critical to Kentucky's future. We plan to do a lot more of that reporting and writing in the future. I'd invite the governor to read it."

By the way, Joe Sonka is serious about keeping track of the number of times Bevin's office has ignored a reporter's request this year:


So yeah, we have our own "chief executive who is bad with the media" problem here in the commonwealth.  Not going to get much better I would guess, either.

Laws, Martial And Otherwise

Speaking of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, it seems the drug-hating, murder-endorsing, police-arming leader has graduated from "strongman" status to full "dictator" this week with the declaration of martial law to deal with a terrorist attack on Marawi City in the southern part of the country.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte warned Wednesday that he'll be harsh in enforcing martial law in his country's south as he abruptly left Moscow to deal with a crisis at home sparked by a Muslim extremist siege on a city, where militants burned buildings overnight and are feared to have taken hostages.

Duterte declared martial rule for 60 days in the entire southern Mindanao region, the restive third of the Philippine archipelago, Tuesday evening to try to crush Muslim extremists who have aligned themselves with the Islamic State group and occupied a hospital, jail and other buildings and battled troops in an audacious attack in Marawi City.

Martial law could be extended for a year depending on how long the problem could be quelled, Duterte said on board a plane en route to the Philippines.

"I said I would be harsh and I warned everybody not to force my hand into it," Duterte said. "I have to do it to preserve the republic."

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said troops raided the hideout of a top terrorist suspect in Marawi on Tuesday, sparking a gunbattle that prompted the militants to call for reinforcements from an allied group, the Maute. He said dozens of gunmen occupied city hall, a hospital and a jail and burned a Catholic church, a college and some houses in a bold attack that killed at least two soldiers and a police officer and wounded 12 others.

Several militants were killed in the fighting in Marawi city in Lanao del Sur province, about 830 kilometers (520 miles) south of Manila, but others continued to lay siege to the largely Muslim city of more than 200,000 people, officials said, adding that power was cut in the city in the chaos.

"The whole of Marawi city is blacked out, there is no light, and there are Maute snipers all around," Lorenzana said in the news conference in Moscow, which was broadcast live in the Philippines.

Ahh, but if you're going to be following the "martial law to deal with Muslim terrorists in a rogue province" playbook, you learn from the guy who wrote it.

Duterte met late Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and said he is counting on Russia to supply weapons for the Philippines to fight terrorism.

"Of course, our country needs modern weapons, we had orders in the United States, but now the situation there is not very smooth and in order to fight the Islamic State, with their units and factions, we need modern weapons," he said, according to Russian state news agency Tass.

Why would Duterte want to deal with Trump to buy weapons when he can go directly to Trump's boss Vlad?  That's who's really in charge of the US right now.  Sure as hell isn't Donny calling the shots these days, he can barely survive the trip overseas without sending in Ivanka and Jared to cover for him.

And so it goes.

StupidiNews!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Last Call For But Her Emails

Truns out that yes, media coverage of Clinton's email server was a factor in costing her the race, as many have said before.  CNN's Chris Cillizza will admit that it was an issue, but being responsible for the breathless coverage is not something he's going to cop to.

Not only did "email" dominate the conversation around Clinton, it dominated the entire conversation in the race. From October 23 on, Trump is barely talked about -- an amazing feat for someone so willing to make news. 
This study will be used by liberals as evidence that the media's unnecessary focus on Clinton's email server cost her the election. 
I'd agree that Clinton's email server played a decisive role in deciding the election. But I wouldn't agree with the idea that the media is responsible for it. 
After all, it was Clinton who never seemed to grasp the seriousness of the issue and how it eroded the public's already shaky confidence in her. Her inability to do those things meant she was never able to put the story behind her. And then the Comey announcement came, which undoubtedly surged the issue back to the top of many voters' minds. 
Whatever the reasons, when people thought of Clinton in the final weeks of the race, they thought of her emails. And that was a very bad thing for her.

What makes Cillizza an asshole, even now, is that we know good and well that her email server wasn't an iota as bad as what Trump is doing now, with billions in graft for his empire and a regime drowning in corruption, with new revelations weekly, if not daily since the firing of James Comey.

But her emails, right?

I know. 25 years of Clinton Derangement Syndrome is a hard habit to kick, but 63 million still voted for her.  Go figure.

Our Little Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

We already know that the Trump regime and AG Jeff Sessions consider anybody but white men to be a threat to the homeland, so what will they do given overwhelming evidence that America's white supremacist terrorist movement is only becoming stronger and more dangerous now that it is going to be left largely unchecked by a Justice Department that is wholly uninterested in stopping them?

A man accused of shooting his two roommates Friday in a Tampa Palms apartment told police he shared neo-Nazi beliefs with the men until he converted to Islam then killed them because they showed disrespect for his faith. 
The revelations weren't over. 
Officers found a garage stocked with bomb materials as they arrived to investigate the double homicide, leading to federal explosive charges against Brandon Russell — a Florida National Guardsman and admitted neo-Nazi who kept a framed photo of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh on his dresser. 
Russell, 21, was the man Tampa police officers found crying outside his door Friday evening when murder suspect Devon Arthurs led them back to the apartment that the four had shared in an affluent suburb north of the University of South Florida. Russell, wearing camouflage, had just returned from National Guard duties. 
Police went to the apartment in the Hamptons at Tampa Palms after Arthurs, 18, told them he fatally shot his roommates Jeremy Himmelman, 22, and Andrew Oneschuk, 18, according to a Tampa police report. 
While searching the garage, investigators found a cooler full of a white, cake-like explosive material known as HMTD, or hexamethylene tiperoxide diamine, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court. Nearby, they found explosive precursors — chemicals that can be mixed to create explosives — including potassium chlorate, potassium nitrate, nitro methane and more than a pound of ammonium nitrate in a package addressed to Russell. 
Investigators also found electric matches and empty 5.56-caliber ammunition casings with fuses that could be used to detonate destructive devices once HMTD was added to the casings. The materials could be used to make a bomb, according to the complaint.
In addition, pagers carried by bomb technicians alerted them to the presence of two radiation sources. The complaint does not say whether they were connected to the explosive materials. 
In Russell's bedroom, investigators discovered Nazi and white supremacist propaganda including the photo of McVeigh, who was convicted and executed for detonating an ammonium nitrate and nitromethane fertilizer truck bomb in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. The death toll from the blast was 168. 
According to the complaint, Russell admitted to being a national socialist, manufacturing the HTMD and owning the precursors. He also admitted he is a member of a white supremacy group called the Atomwaffen, German for "atomic weapons." 
Questioned about why he had the explosives, Russell said he was in a USF engineering club in 2013 and used the HMTD, in part, to boost homemade rockets and to send balloons into the atmosphere. 
"Based on my training and experience, HMTD is too energetic and volatile for these types of uses," FBI Special Agent Timothy A. Swanson wrote in the complaint.

A guy who literally had a framed photo of modern America's most notorious domestic terrorist in his bedroom, belonged to a neo-Nazi group, had all kinds of explosives and bomb-making materials, and white supremacist propaganda where he lived,  And this guy was a zygote when Tim McVeigh attacked Oklahoma City.  Hell, I was the age he is now when that happened.

How many more of these skinhead New Reich assholes like Russell are out there?  Gosh who knows, Trump and Sessions are too busy harassing anyone darker than a paper bag.  Why would Trump go after the people who elected him, after all?

The fetters are off these guys.  Expect to see a lot more scenes like this where state and local law enforcement have to do the bulk of the work dealing with these guys, and remember Russell only got caught because he shot two of his roommates.  The cops had no idea otherwise.  The Feds under Trump and Sessions won't give a damn.

And that's going to be a disaster sooner rather than later.

How Bad Will The Senate Version Of Trumpcare Be?

David Leonhardt at the NY Times says that if you're expecting Senate Democrats to be able to stop Trumpcare from passing through GOP budget reconciliation tricks, forget it.  The only question is how bad the final Senate bill will be.

While the rest of the country has been transfixed by Trumpian chaos, members of the Senate have spent the last two weeks talking about taking health insurance from millions of Americans. 
There is an alarmingly large chance that they’ll decide to do so. But if they do, they will almost certainly rely on a political sleight of hand to disguise their bill’s damage. Understanding that sleight of hand — and calling attention to it — offers the best hope for defeating the bill. 
The effort to take health insurance from the middle class and poor and funnel the savings into tax cuts for the rich is a little like mold. It grows best in the dark. 
That’s why Republican leaders in the House handled their bill as they did. They did not hold a single hearing, because they knew that attention would have been devastating.
Just imagine a hearing featuring the leaders of these groups, every one of which opposes the House bill: the American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, American Hospital Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, American Lung Association, March of Dimes and AARP
The House also passed its final bill without waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to estimate how many Americans would lose insurance. The C.B.O. will release that analysis tomorrow afternoon. There is no precedent, outside of wartime, for passing a bill this important in such haste. 
After the House did, many observers assumed the bill was too flawed to have much chance in the Senate. Republican senators, aware of the bill’s unpopularity, were careful to say publicly that they would start fresh. But the early signs suggest that Mitch McConnell and his Republican caucus are actually mimicking the House approach.

In other words, expect the Senate to pass a bill exactly like the House did: with no public hearings, with no CBO score, and with no input from Democrats.  And considering Trump's planned budget is already going to destroy Medicaid anyway, the combination of the two will wipe out health insurance for tens of millions.

But of course, that's the point.  The GOP budget plan is lethal, trillions of tax cuts for the rich and for corporations, and trillions more in social program cuts for Medicaid, SNAP, college loans, and more on top of massive cuts to government departments that will cost hundreds of thousands of jobs.

The damage will be done, and 2020 will be far too late to fix it.
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