Saturday, February 25, 2017

Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez is the new DNC Chair.

Courtesy of NBC News:  

After a difficult 2016 campaign that saw them lose in the White House, both chambers of Congress and in state houses across the country, Democrats elected Tom Perez, the former labor secretary during the Obama administration, to lead the Democratic National Committee on Saturday.

Perez won in the second round of voting during the 2017 Winter DNC Meeting in Atlanta, earning 235 votes from the 447 DNC members — the voting bloc that decides the chairmanship. Perez was considered the heavy favorite of the Democratic establishment. 

Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, the preferred candidate of the Bernie Sanders wing of the party, came in second, earning 200 votes in the second round of votes. Half ballots are given to Democrats voting abroad.

I have to admit that though I followed this with interest I really did not have a dog in this fight.

In my opinion all that matters with a new DNC head is that they recognize what is happening all across the country right now in response to the election of Donald Trump and that they find some way to harness that activism and organize it into overwhelming voter turnout for the next election cycles.

With that goal in mind I think that having somebody from the Obama administration is not exactly a bad thing since it means that our former President will likely become more involved, and with his sky rocketing approval numbers that can only help moving forward.

Perez also had the good sense to appoint Keith Ellison as his deputy chair. So this is clearly not a dumb man.

Donald Trump just announced he will not be attending the White House Correspondents Dinner.

What a fucking coward.

Here he is abusing the press, essentially declaring war on them, and then he does not even have the balls to face them over a dinner steeped in tradition.

Well on the plus side I guess this means that the other attendees might actually be able to have a good time.

Trump administration enlisted top intelligence officials to counter reports about Russian/Trump investigation.

Courtesy of WaPo: 

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.

The White House on Friday acknowledged those interactions with the FBI but did not disclose that it then turned to other officials who agreed to do what the FBI would not — participate in White House-arranged calls with news organizations, including The Washington Post. 

The White House insisted the officials speak on the condition of anonymity — a practice President Trump has condemned.

Well, this is troubling.

You might also remember that Reince "twice and" Priebus recently stated that he was "authorized by the top levels of the intelligence community to denounce reports on Trump campaign contacts with Russia as false."

However there is no confirmation of this which has now placed quite a lot of pressure on a certain FBI Director to come clean:  

As the FBI declined to discuss the matter, pressure mounted on Comey to either counter or affirm the White House's account. Even the Trump administration urged him to come forward, which as of Friday was not happening. 

"Politicized assertions by White House chief of staff Priebus about what may or may not be the findings of an FBI investigation are exactly the wrong way for the public to hear about an issue that is of grave consequence to our democracy," Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat and member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement. "The American people deserve real transparency, which means Director Comey needs to come forward, in an open hearing, and answer questions." 

The push on Comey to publicly discuss the bureau's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election is especially acute given his statements in the run-up to Nov. 8 that many Democrats believe cost Clinton the election. He detailed the results of the FBI's investigation at an unusual July news conference, testified on it for hours on Capitol Hill and alerted Congress less than two weeks before Election Day that the FBI would be reviewing new emails potentially connected to the case.

One would think after the Hillary Clinton debacle that Comey would feel compelled to gain a little credibility back by setting the record straight here.

But so far, nothing.

I swear the further this thing goes the more I wonder why this entire administration is not facing federal charges.

Oh that's right, all this only counts when Democrats do it.

Our last real President made an appearance in New York yesterday.

Courtesy of Yahoo: 

Former President Barack Obama caused quite a commotion Friday when he stopped inside a New York City office building. 

A large crowd gathered outside, trying to catch a view of Obama as he left 160 Fifth Ave. in Manhattan. 

It was not immediately clear what the former president was attending to during his stop. A representative for the president's foundation declined to comment. 

In the liberal enclave of Manhattan, Obama was met with loud cheers as he walked to his motorcade.

I swear it is almost a shock to the system to see the super cool former President after this last month of watching his petulant orange tinged replacement.

Seriously what would you sacrifice to have this man back in the White House leading this country?

Asked why he is not holding town halls Senator Marco Rubio replies Because "people get rude and stupid."

Courtesy of HuffPo:When a constituent confronted Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) Thursday about why he wasn’t holding a town hall event during this week’s congressional recess, Rubio gave what seemed an honest answer. 

“I don’t know man, because town halls, people get rude and stupid ― on both sides,” the senator told the man. 

A community organizer for the Florida chapter of the Service Employees International Union tweeted a video of the encounter, which happened in a lecture hall at Florida International University, where Rubio teaches a class. The questioner appears to be Rafael Velasquez, a member of the Florida Democratic party’s board of trustees.

Not to give Rubio too much credit, but at least that sounds more honest that Louie Gohmert stating that he is afraid of getting shot like Gabby Giffords. 

However I would be willing to bet that the will live to regret this statement.

Vox provides a timeline for all of the Trump-Russian scandals.

And remember, there are more coming every day it seems.

Perhaps the most fitting Carl Sagan quote for these times.

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” 

 Yes. it's legit.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Spicy blocks several news agencies, critical of his boss, from attending briefing.

Actual photo of Sean Spicer during this briefing. No, really.
Courtesy of The New York Times: 

Journalists from The New York Times and several other news organizations were prohibited from attending a briefing by President Trump’s press secretary on Friday, a highly unusual breach of relations between the White House and its press corps. 

Reporters from The Times, BuzzFeed News, CNN, The Los Angeles Times and Politico were not allowed to enter the West Wing office of the press secretary, Sean M. Spicer, for the scheduled briefing. Aides to Mr. Spicer only allowed in reporters from a handpicked group of news organizations that, the White House said, had been previously confirmed. 

Those organizations included Breitbart News, the One America News Network and The Washington Times, all with conservative leanings. Journalists from ABC, CBS, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Fox News also attended. 

Reporters from Time magazine and The Associated Press, who were set to be allowed in, chose not to attend the briefing in protest of the White House’s actions. 

“Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties,” Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The Times, said in a statement. “We strongly protest the exclusion of The New York Times and the other news organizations. Free media access to a transparent government is obviously of crucial national interest.”

You know this isn't a campaign event where a candidate might want to keep certain critical new outlets out of the loop. This is a freaking White House briefing.

And isn't it interesting that it seems to be the organizations who have really done the most work on the Russia/Trump connection that are being blocked?

This is essentially the Trump administration showing their cowardice and that they are terrified of what the free press will reveal next about them.

So much for Donald Trump's supposed tough guy credibility.

At least one organization that WAS allowed into the briefing voiced outrage:

"The Wall Street Journal strongly objects to the White House's decision to bar certain media outlets from today's gaggle," a Journal spokesman said. "Had we known at the time, we would not have participated and we will not participate in such closed briefings in the future."

You know it is getting hard to tell if Sean Spicer is becoming more and more like the caricature of him played by Melissa McCarthy on SNL, or if he was this way from the beginning, and it is only becoming more obvious.

Yeah, I'm stumped.

Donald Trump tells CPAC audience that he is the president they have been waiting for, while some wave Russian flags in response.

Courtesy of Washington Post:  

President Trump declared himself among friends as he delivered a campaign-style speech Friday at an annual gathering of conservative activists, where he told the crowd that the movement he built during his campaign represents the future of the Republican Party. 

“Now you finally have a president, finally,” Trump said, later promising that “the forgotten men and women of America will be forgotten no more.” 

With his appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference at National Harbor in Maryland, Trump became the first sitting president since Ronald Reagan to address the group during his first year in office. After taking the stage to Lee Greenwood's “God Bless the U.S.A.," Trump pledged to return often. 

The wide-ranging speech amounted to a victory lap for Trump and chance to recount his campaign promises as well as thank a wing of the party with which he has not always been in sync.

“The core conviction of our movement is that we are a nation that put and will put its own citizens first,” Trump said, prompting the crowd to chant: “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”

You know it is becoming increasingly clear that Trump sees himself less as a president, than he does the second coming of Jesus Christ.

And this is how some in the audience responded to his all about me speech.
Okay this might be my favorite thing to ever happen at CPAC.

Not that there is a lot of competition for that title. 

Cowardly Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert uses the shooting of Gabby Giffords as an excuse to avoid town halls. Giffords calls him out over it.

Louie Gohmert, who for all the world looks like an extra on the "Andy Griffith Show," posted this bullshit excuse on his website: 

Unfortunately, at this time there are groups from the more violent strains of the leftist ideology, some even being paid, who are preying on public town halls to wreak havoc and threaten public safety. Threats are nothing new to me and I have gotten my share as a felony judge. However, the House Sergeant at Arms advised us after former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot at a public appearance, that civilian attendees at Congressional public events stand the most chance of being harmed or killed—just as happened there.

Notice there is no mention of the fact that there would be far less risk at these town halls if everybody in the country could not buy a gun as easily as they buy a pint of milk.

It should also be mentioned that the shooting of Giffords happened way back in 2011, and Gohmert is just NOW getting frightened by it?

For her part Gabby Giffords has no intention of allowing this chicken shit to use her unfortunate incident as an excuse not to do his job.

Courtesy of The Hill: 

Being the victim of gun violence didn't stop her from holding public events, she said in a statement. Since stepping down from Congress, Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, have made many public appearances on behalf of their group Americans for Responsible Solutions, which advocates for gun safety reform. 

She further noted that Ron Barber, her former district director who was also injured in the shooting, held town halls after succeeding her in Congress. 

"I was shot on a Saturday morning. By Monday morning my offices were open to the public. Ron Barber — at my side that Saturday, who was shot multiple times, then elected to Congress in my stead — held town halls. It's what the people deserve in a representative," Giffords said. On Tuesday, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) invoked the 2011 shooting that killed six people as a reason not to hold a public town hall in his district.

It just shows that it is well past time to replace these cowardly little candy asses with strong Representatives who are not afraid to face criticism, or even a bullet or two. 

FBI rejected request from White House to "knock down" media reports about investigations into ties between Trump associates and the Russians.

Courtesy of CNN: 

The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN. 

But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it did not believe the reporting to be accurate. 

White House officials had sought the help of the bureau and other agencies investigating the Russia matter to say that the reports were wrong and that there had been no contacts, the officials said. The reports of the contacts were first published by The New York Times and CNN on February 14. 

The direct communications between the White House and the FBI were unusual because of decade-old restrictions on such contacts. Such a request from the White House is a violation of procedures that limit communications with the FBI on pending investigations.

Oh hell no!

The White House can't do this!

That is called interfering in an ongoing investigation. Regular citizens get thrown in the clink for that shit.

Of course once again Spicey bitched that this was a mischaracterization of what happened: 

"We didn't try to knock the story down. We asked them to tell the truth," Spicer said.

So here we are again. Being asked to decide whether or not it's the media or this poor man's Melissa McCarthy telling the truth.

Well you know where I land on that.

To be honest, though it is completely indefensible, it is understandable as to why the White House is so desperate to keep all of this quiet.

As Politico reports this investigation is taking stage front and center at many recent GOP town halls: 

Constituents and liberal activists are demanding to know what GOP lawmakers are doing to help or hinder investigations into the president’s ties to Moscow and Russian interference in the 2016 election. The scrutiny suggests the firestorm over alleged ties between Russian officials and members of Trump’s campaign and administration has spread well beyond the Beltway. 

“I am very concerned about the Trump administration and his ties to Russia,” a woman told GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley in Garner, Iowa, on Tuesday — winning huge applause from the overflow crowd when she said that Attorney General Jeff Sessions should recuse himself from any investigation.

And the pressure got to be a little too much for Cheeto Hitler who seems to have wrested his Twitter account way from his handlers long enough to tweet this:
What is that old saying again?

"He who lives by the leaks, dies by the leaks?"

Well it was something like that. 

Pope Francis says "It's better to be an Atheist" than a bad Christian.

Courtesy of CNN:

If you're a Christian who exploits people, leads a double life or manages a "dirty" business, perhaps it's better not to call yourself a believer, Pope Francis suggested in a homily on Thursday in Rome. 

"So many Christians are like this, and these people scandalize others," Francis said during morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, according to Vatican Radio. "How many times have we heard -- all of us, around the neighborhood and elsewhere -- 

'But to be a Catholic like that, it's better to be an atheist.' It is that: scandal." "But what is scandal? Scandal is saying one thing and doing another." 

In the Catholic Church, causing scandal also a grave offense. 

Examples of such sins abound, the Pope said, from money launderers to business owners who take beach vacations while stiffing their employees.

Well this is essentially what I have been saying for years. 

Of course I would probably just have stopped with "It's better to be an Atheist." But still the Pope makes a good point.

There are SO MANY so-called Christians who use the religion as camouflage to do terrible, and even criminal things, while using their "faith" to deflect criticism.

We have seen that with tons of politicians, performers, and even pastors.

And these "Christians" seemingly feel absolutely no guilt in judging all of those around them while acting in ways that are direct violations to the teachings of Jesus Christ. 

And yes, Sarah Palin of course definitely falls into that category.

Personally I am typically FAR more trusting of a person who openly rejects religion than I am of somebody who constantly reminds everybody about their faith.

Don't get me wrong there are quite a number of very kind, and very moral religious people in the world.  And some of them have been good friends of mine.

But since I place such a premium on critical thinking skills there is always a little distance between myself and those who can accept the existence of extraordinary things without the benefit of evidence.

Homer City councilpersons sponsor resolution in direct defiance to Donald Trump.

Courtesy of Must Read Alaska: 

CITY OF HOMER, 

ALASKA RESOLUTION 17-xxx 

A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF HOMER, ALASKA, STATING THAT THE CITY OF HOMER ADHERES TO THE PRINCIPLE OF INCLUSION AND HEREIN COMMITTING THIS CITY TO RESISTING EFFORTS TO DIVIDE THIS COMMUNITY WITH REGARD TO RACE, RELIGION, ETHNICITY, GENDER, NATIONAL ORIGIN, PHYSICAL CAPABILITIES, OR SEXUAL ORIENTATION REGARDLESS OF THE ORIGIN OF THOSE EFFORTS, INCLUDING FROM LOCAL, STATE OR FEDERAL AGENCIES. 

WHEREAS, A new administration is in power in Washington, D.C. without a popular mandate; 

WHEREAS, During his campaign, President Donald Trump made statements offensive and harmful to the rights of women; immigrants; religious, racial, and ethnic minorities; veterans; the disabled; LGBTQ citizens; and the general public; and that such statements have continued since his election; and 

WHEREAS, The President on numerous occasions has stated clearly his disregard for freedom of speech; freedom of the press; freedom of assembly; and freedom of religion, particularly with regard to Muslim Americans; and 

WHEREAS, The President has not disavowed his intention to create a registry of Muslim Americans and now intends to ban Muslims from entering the United States; and 

WHEREAS, The President now is following through on his promises to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, including millions brought here as children who have grown up to know no other life than that of an American; and 

WHEREAS, The President now is following through on plans to build a wall on the border separating the United States from Mexico without apparent regard to its cost, its effects upon our nation’s economy, or its sociological ramifications, and to impose an ideological test for entry into our country; and 

WHEREAS, The President has promised to repeal federal regulations protecting LGBTQ citizens; and 

WHEREAS, The President already has issued executive orders to effect the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which provides tens of millions of Americans with health care insurance coverage; and 

WHEREAS, The President has issued executive orders to rescind certain women’s reproductive rights; and 

WHEREAS, The President has promised to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement and to remove other environmental protections instituted under the previous administration, and has begun a process to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency; and 

WHEREAS, Before and especially since the election, some citizens have been emboldened to express overtly an intolerance of diversity that is opposed to the views of most Homer residents and most Americans; and 

WHEREAS, The President’s cabinet nominees have expressed views similar to those laid out in the whereas clauses above and thus are largely out of step with the attitudes of most Homer residents; and 

WHEREAS, The presidential election has exposed deep social and political divisions among Americans and these divisions threaten the general peace as expressions of intolerance rise; and 

WHEREAS, The City of Homer recognizes that while the minority community here may be relatively small, it may be vulnerable, and that if those residents feel in any way threatened simply because they are minorities, the City should be on record as opposing all such intolerance; and 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the City Council of the City of Homer unequivocally rejects expressions of fear and hate wherever they may exist, and specifically rejects harassment of women, immigrants, religious minorities, racial and ethnic minorities, and LGBTQ individuals. 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Homer embraces all people regardless of skin color, country of birth, faith, sex, gender, marital status, or abilities; and that the City of Homer will not waver in its commitment to inclusion and to continuing to create a village safe for a diverse population. BE IT 

FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Homer will resist any and all efforts to profile undocumented immigrants or any other vulnerable population. 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Homer will cooperate with federal agencies in detaining undocumented immigrants when court-issued federal warrants are delivered. 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Homer shall steadfastly defend the United States and Alaska constitutions, especially with regard to the former’s precedent-backed right of privacy and the latter’s specified right of privacy (Article 1, Section 22), and safeguard the rights declared in the Bill of Rights. 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Homer will continue its staunch support of our local police in their ongoing efforts to enforce law and protect our community and its visitors in a just, unbiased and transparent manner. 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Homer will declare itself a safety net for the most vulnerable members of and visitors to our community. 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Homer calls on all its citizens to stand against intolerance and resist expressions of hate toward any members of the community, and thus to set an example for the rest of the nation, demonstrating that Homer residents and Alaskans adhere to the principle of live-and-let-live. 

PASSED AND ADOPTED by the Homer City Council this 27th day of February, 2017. CITY OF HOMER

 ________________________ BRYAN ZAK, MAYOR ATTEST:

 ______________________________ JO JOHNSON, MMC, CITY CLERK

Gotta love Homer.

And this is just another reminder that not everyone in Alaska is some conservative asshole. 

Hmm, think I'll add Must Read Alaska to my blogroll.

The world for Republicans right now.

Remember the only thing these Republican lawmakers fear is losing a bid for reelection.

If it becomes obvious that supporting Donald Trump will cost them their seat in Washington we might see them launching investigations on those Russian hacks, demanding to see his tax returns, and even supporting his impeachment.