Saturday, February 24, 2018

Right after the RNC came under pressure for paying Trump's legal fees, they suddenly decided to pay an exorbitant amount of rent to Trump properties.

Hey, they stopped paying my legal fees. What more do you want?
Courtesy of CNBC: 

Soon after the Republican National Committee came under pressure for paying legal bills for President Donald Trump and his eldest son in the special counsel's Russia probe, it started covering expenses for the president's re-election campaign. 

The RNC is using campaign funds to pay Trump's company more than $37,000 a month in rent, and to pay thousands of dollars in monthly salary to Vice President Mike Pence's nephew, John Pence, party officials confirmed this week. The rent pays for office space in the Trump Tower in New York for the staff of Trump's re-election campaign. John Pence is the Trump campaign's deputy executive director. 

Campaign finance experts who spoke to CNBC said this type of spending by a party committee on behalf of a campaign is highly unusual but legal, and it appears the RNC disclosed it correctly.

"This is permissible and it's being reported properly, but why they are doing it is a mystery," said Brendan Fischer, senior counsel for the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center. "One would think the RNC could be spending their money more effectively right now on the 2018 campaign, rather than spending it to pay Trump's rent." 

So far, the party has spent more than $290,000 to cover the Trump campaign's expenses since September, the first month it paid the Trump Tower rent or Pence's salary. Before then, both expenses had been paid directly by the Trump campaign.

So the RNC stopped paying Trump's legal fees, and then just suddenly started paying the Trump campaign's rent at a Trump property?

Wow! What a coinky dink!

My favorite part of all this is that in Trump world this seems to be considered super sneaky and virtually undetectable. 

I suddenly have the feeling that Robert Mueller is having very little difficulty building a money laundering case against Donald Trump and his minions.

Democrats are now almost universally embracing the idea of single payer health care. Thanks Trump!

Courtesy of WaPo:

Today, the Center for American Progress released a single-payer health plan (or thereabouts), planting a significant marker in the evolution of the Democratic Party, and eventually perhaps the American health-care system. 

And we have President Trump and the Republicans to thank for it. 

CAP calls its plan “Medicare Extra For All.” That’s a little unwieldy but seems meant to distinguish it from “Medicare For All,” which is what Bernie Sanders called the plan he proposed in 2016 and what others have called for. It isn’t a true single-payer plan because it envisions a continued role for private insurance. But it greatly expands government coverage, both for anyone who doesn’t have insurance and, critically, anyone who simply would prefer the government’s plan.

It’s significant that this plan is coming from the heart of the Democratic establishment, a think tank that is the closest thing to a Democratic government-in-exile. When it has officially put its imprimatur on a sort-of single-payer health plan, that means the general principle is now all but consensus among Democrats, something that wasn’t true even a year ago. 

While this evolution has been in-process for a while, the fact is that as of now, the Democratic Party is converging on consensus around the goal of universal coverage with a much stronger role for government. You may recall that in the last presidential election, the party’s candidate wasn’t willing to go that far. Today, nearly every Democrat considering a run for the White House in 2020 has endorsed the idea of universal coverage.

Wouldn't it be a kick in the ass if we ended up with an assault gun ban, universal health care, and a Democratic majority in the House and Senate, not BECAUSE of Donald Trump, but in spite of him?

Could happen. 

That could make him both the worst president in history, but with one of the most consequential presidencies.

Isn't politics weird sometimes?

Businesses are starting to turn on the NRA.

Courtesy of Vice: 

The National Rifle Association is getting burned by businesses after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last week. 

So far, two business partners have dropped the NRA from their roster. The First National Bank of Omaha said in a tweet on Thursday that because of “customer feedback,” the bank will cease issuing its NRA Visa card after its contract with the pro-gun lobbying group expires. And Enterprise Holdings — which operates the car rental companies Enterprise, Alamo, and National — told reporters on Thursday that it would no longer offer a discount to NRA members. 

For many years, the powerful lobbying group has struck partnerships with companies to offer NRA members discounts on a variety of services. Some of its existing partners include Hertz, FedEx, and the anti-virus software maker Norton.

Bloomberg found some others:

On Friday, LifeLock owner Symantec, Hertz, North American and Allied Van Lines, and insurer MetLife announced they would break off from the NRA. “Symantec has stopped its discount program with the National Rifle Association,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement. A MetLife spokesman said “we value all our customers but have decided to end our discount program with the NRA.” Security systems maker Simplisafe Inc. also dropped the gun group today.

There are also some businesses that are not quite ready to bail on the NRA, but are putting them on notice.

Courtesy of Raw Story: 

The world’s largest asset manager put U.S. gunmakers on notice on Thursday that it is no longer business as usual in the wake of a shooting that killed 17 at a Florida high school. 

BlackRock Inc said it will speak with weapons manufacturers and distributors “to understand their response” to the second-deadliest shooting at a public school in U.S. history, putting pressure on companies such as Sturm Ruger & Company Inc and American Outdoor Brands Corp. 

BlackRock is the largest shareholder in both gunmakers and has more than $6 trillion in assets under management. It stopped short of saying it would divest its funds of gun companies, however.

Well I think it's time to push for even more boycotts, don't you?

Not only should we refuse to do business with any companies that have advertising deals with the NRA, but we should also refuse to vote for any candidates that accept NRA money.

That would almost strip them of their influence overnight.

Well after the elections this year at least.

When you're trying to troll America but you forget to turn off your location indicator.

I heard that this account was taken down after this was posted on Reddit.

Like I said before, it is up to us to critically analyze the "news" that arrives on our Twitter or Facebook feeds.

Friday, February 23, 2018

It looks like Donald Trump is finally going to get his military parade.

Courtesy of Politico: 

President Donald Trump’s plans for a White House-backed military parade are beginning to take shape. 

The president has directed the Department of Defense to organize a parade that would take place on Nov. 11 – Veterans Day – according to an unclassified Feb. 20 memo written by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. 

The memo, which was summarized to POLITICO by a senior administration official, was sent from McMaster to Secretary of Defense James Mattis. It says that Trump wants Mattis to brief him on “concepts of operation for this event.” 

The memo also said that the parade route should begin at the White House and end at the Capitol. 

Trump, who revels in pageantry, first floated the idea of putting on a military parade after he witnessed France’s Bastille Day parade last summer as a guest of French president Emmanuel Macron.

Quick question, exactly how much brain damage much you have suffered to actually believe this parade has ANYTHING to do with the veterans?

No this is once again about Trump's overwhelming inferiority complex.

His must be bigger, longer, and more impressive.

And since we know it isn't, he is compelled to produce something that is.

And we know exactly who is is comparing his manhood against, don't we?

Courtesy of the New York Times:

President Trump announced harsh new shipping sanctions against North Korea on Friday — a clear signal, near the end of an Olympic Games marked by a rapprochement on the Korean Peninsula, that his pressure campaign against Pyongyang will not let up. 

“Today, I am announcing that we are launching the largest-ever set of new sanctions on the North Korean regime,” Mr. Trump was set to say to the Conservative Political Action Conference, according to excerpts of his remarks released by the White House.

And then there's this just today:

Speaking at a joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the White House, Trump said that if the sanctions don’t work “we’ll have to go to phase two,” which he said “may be a very rough thing.” 

“We'll have to see,” Trump said. “I don't think I'm going to exactly play that card. But we'll have to see. If the sanctions don't work we'll have to go to phase two. Phase two may be a very rough thing. May be very, very unfortunate for the world.”
“But hopefully the sanctions will work,” Trump added. “We have tremendous support all around the world for what they're doing. It really is a rogue nation. If they can make a deal it will be a great thing. If we can't, something will have to happen. So we'll see.”

"Very rough thing for the WORLD." Not just North Korea, but the world. Keep that in mind folks.

In the past American presidents KNEW that they had nothing to prove, and that they could walk softly because they had a giant stick.

Trump apparently does feel he has such a stick.

And based on his history, he never has.

Which makes him dangerous, very, very dangerous. 

So Bristol Palin is now back in Texas to continue her divorce battle with Dakota Meyer.

Courtesy of the Daily Mail: 

Bristol Palin has returned to Texas after spending some time quality time with her family in her home state of Alaska amid reports her husband Dakota Meyer has filed for divorce. 

The 27-year-old mother-of-three, who has two daughters with Dakota, took to Instagram on Wednesday to post a snapshot of herself enjoying the Alaskan winter with her two-year-old Sailor Grace. 

'Already missing AK,' she captioned the image, which shows her eldest daughter bundled up in a bright pink snow suit while cuddled in her arms. 

Of course leaving Alaska means that Bristol will be isolated from her support network that she relies on so completely.
What? No Track?

Broken families like this always seem to create a meme of "It's us against the world," which both binds them together and deepens their family pathology.

 On her own Bristol is fairly fragile and cannot stand up for herself without breaking down and making it worse.

During her custody battle with Levi she seduced Dakota into becoming her white knight and used him as her go between when she was on the ropes.

Kind of makes me wonder what poor Texas SOB she has targeted to fight her fight this time?

(P.S. I kind of enjoy talking about this fucked up family again. After all covering the school shootings, Trump presidency, and decline of America can be so depressing sometimes.)

During the school massacre in Florida there was an armed sheriff's deputy on scene. He hid until the shooting stopped.

Courtesy of the New York Times:

The only armed sheriff’s deputy at a Florida high school where 17 people were killed took cover outside rather than charging into the building when the massacre began, the Broward County sheriff said on Thursday. The sheriff also acknowledged that his office received 23 calls related to the suspect going back a decade, including one last year that said he was collecting knives and guns, but may not have adequately followed up. 

The deputy, Scot Peterson, resigned on Thursday after being suspended without pay after Sheriff Scott Israel reviewed surveillance video. 

“He never went in,” Sheriff Israel said in a news conference. He said the video showed Deputy Peterson doing “nothing.” 

“There are no words,” said Sheriff Israel, who described himself as “devastated, sick to my stomach.” 

So roll that around in your mind a little, here was a trained law enforcement agent who panicked when the bullets started flying, and Donald Trump expects regular classroom teachers to walk into a hail of gunfire and kill an armed intruder?

By the way this is how a number of teachers responded to the idea of carrying weapons to school.



This is idea is ridiculous and no serious person should even consider it as a solution to school shootings.

Mother Jones also took a look at the NRA's idea for "hardening our schools" and they are chilling.

Some of the ideas include putting up prison yard style fencing, getting rid of trees, getting rid of parking lots (Well that will be super convenient for parents and staff.), installing thicker, heavier doors, vastly reducing the number of windows, and for the windows they do keep, making sure they are made of “ballistic protective glass.”

This is not an environment in which to learn, this is an environment in which to serve time AFTER you have killed somebody with a gun.

It is where a school shooter ends up, not the children that he wanted to target.

Robert Mueller hands out new tax and bank fraud charges to Paul Manafort and Rick Gates. Update!

Courtesy of Bloomberg:  

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his onetime deputy, Rick Gates, were indicted on tax and bank fraud charges as U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller mounted a fresh attack to strengthen his legal pressure against the men. Mueller used a new 32-count indictment in Alexandria, Virginia, to raise the legal stakes against the duo, who were initially indicted on Oct. 27 in Washington on charges of laundering millions of dollars and failing to register as foreign agents for their political consulting work over a decade in Ukraine.

The second indictment complicates the legal defense for both men and appears to signal that plea negotiations have been fruitless. Gates had been weighing a guilty plea, according to several reports. Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, has charged a total of 19 people and picked up the tempo of his public actions in recent days. 

“Manafort and Gates generated tens of millions of dollars in income as a result of their Ukraine work,” the new indictment said. “From approximately 2006 through the present, Manafort and Gates engaged in a scheme to hide income from United States authorities, while enjoying the use of the money.” 

The men are accused of filing false tax returns in each year from 2010 to 2014, and of conspiring to defraud three banks of more than $22 million through loans secured by Manafort’s properties. At one bank, a conspirator helped in the fraud, the indictment said. It also charged that as their political consulting income dwindled in Ukraine in 2014 and 2015, Manafort and Gates defrauded banks to allow Manafort “to have the benefits of liquid income without paying taxes on it.”

Apparently part of the evidence used against these two idiots is an email of Manafort asking Gates to convert a fraudulent document from a word file to a pdf.
Pair of real geniuses here.

Speaking of geniuses this kind of makes me wonder just HOW MUCH incriminating evidence that Mueller has compiled to use in this investigation.

I mean he started out with indictments against Manafort and Gates accusing them of conspiracy, and when they failed to cooperate he simply indicts them on tax and bank fraud charges like it's nothing.

One has to wonder what else he has in the chamber if Manafort continues to hold out on him?

(You can read these new indictments here.)

Update: Well that was quick.

Gates has now agreed to plead guilty.

Courtesy of NBC News:

Former campaign aide Rick Gates has agreed to plead guilty, becoming the third associate of President Donald Trump to make a deal with special counsel Robert Mueller, a source familiar with the proceedings told NBC News. 

Gates, who was indicted with former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort in October on conspiracy and other charges related to their lobbying work in Ukraine, is expected to appear in federal court in Washington on Friday to enter the plea. 

The development comes a day after Mueller filed a new 32-count indictment against Gates and Manafort, hitting them with new charges of tax and bank fraud. It also follows a guilty plea by a Russia-linked lawyer who admitted he lied to investigators about his contacts with Gates.

And the dominoes just keep right on falling.

I think that once Mueller convinces Manafort to flip, that it is game over.

Update 2: Damn! Manafort just doubled down on his innocence.
Okay somebody has definitely been offered a presidential pardon.

Radiologist explains the difference between an AR-15 and a handgun.

Courtesy of The Atlantic:  

As I opened the CT scan last week to read the next case, I was baffled. The history simply read “gunshot wound.” I have been a radiologist in one of the busiest trauma centers in the nation for 13 years, and have diagnosed thousands of handgun injuries to the brain, lung, liver, spleen, bowel, and other vital organs. I thought that I knew all that I needed to know about gunshot wounds, but the specific pattern of injury on my computer screen was one that I had seen only once before. 

In a typical handgun injury that I diagnose almost daily, a bullet leaves a laceration through an organ like the liver. To a radiologist, it appears as a linear, thin, grey bullet track through the organ. There may be bleeding and some bullet fragments. 

I was looking at a CT scan of one of the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who had been brought to the trauma center during my call shift. The organ looked like an overripe melon smashed by a sledgehammer, with extensive bleeding. How could a gunshot wound have caused this much damage? 

The reaction in the emergency room was the same. One of the trauma surgeons opened a young victim in the operating room, and found only shreds of the organ that had been hit by a bullet from an AR-15, a semi-automatic rifle which delivers a devastatingly lethal, high-velocity bullet to the victim. There was nothing left to repair, and utterly, devastatingly, nothing that could be done to fix the problem. The injury was fatal.

The doctor goes on to explain that the higher velocity of the Ar-15 bullets allows them to essentially rip through the human body and obliterate internal organs, and even cause enough damage that a victim can bleed out quickly even if no major arteries are damaged. 

In short though both a handgun and an assault rifle are designed to kill human beings, however an AR-15 is designed to ensure the death of its victims even if they receive prompts medical care.

So why in the hell would that weapon be available to individuals NOT entering a war zone?

Donald Trump has now joined his buddy Vladimir Putin on Amnesty International's list of human rights villains.

Courtesy of Newsweek: 

President Donald Trump joins authoritarian leaders like Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping in spreading hate and promoting regressive policies in 2017, Amnesty International’s annual human rights report determined. 

The report looks at the human rights situation in 159 countries and territories throughout 2017, Trump’s first year in office. 

“In the U.S.A., President Trump wasted little time in putting his anti-rights rhetoric of discrimination and xenophobia into action, threatening a major rollback on justice and freedoms—including by signing a series of repressive executive orders that threatened the human rights of millions, at home and abroad,” reads the report released Thursday by the human rights group.

The report details how the Trump administration oversaw and promoted abusive border enforcement practices and the detention of asylum-seekers on the U.S. border with Mexico.

And just in case you thought that Amnesty International was being completely unfair, get a load of this.

Courtesy of Politico: 

State Department officials have been ordered to pare back passages in a soon-to-be-released annual report on global human rights that traditionally discuss women’s reproductive rights and discrimination, according to five former and current department officials. 

The directive calls for stripping passages that describe societal views on family planning, including how much access women have to contraceptives and abortion. 

A broader section that chronicles racial, ethnic and sexual discrimination has also been ordered pared down, the current and former officials said. 

The move, believed to have been ordered by a top aide to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, reflects the Trump administration’s rightward turn from the Obama administration on family planning issues. It also appears to highlight the stated desire of Tillerson and President Donald Trump to make human rights a lower priority in U.S. foreign policy.

So yeah when a US report on human rights is stripped of language to identify abuses and protect human rights, I would suggest that we are no longer a leader in that endeavor.

Which I guess answers this question for a number of people in this country.

Yes, yes we are. 

Yes, I do.

Best President of my lifetime.