Friday, April 20, 2018

A few words about Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential People" list.

This was quite an amazing list.

I of course have not read it all (Who has that kind of time?) but I will share what I thought was the best, followed by the worst.

The best in my opinion was Barack Obama's write up for the Parkland student activists.

In fact it was so good I am going to share the whole thing here:

America’s response to mass shootings has long followed a predictable pattern. We mourn. Offer thoughts and prayers. Speculate about the motives. And then—even as no developed country endures a homicide rate like ours, a difference explained largely by pervasive accessibility to guns; even as the majority of gun owners support commonsense reforms—the political debate spirals into acrimony and paralysis. 

This time, something different is happening. This time, our children are calling us to account. 

The Parkland, Fla., students don’t have the kind of lobbyists or big budgets for attack ads that their opponents do. Most of them can’t even vote yet. 

But they have the power so often inherent in youth: to see the world anew; to reject the old constraints, outdated conventions and cowardice too often dressed up as wisdom. 

The power to insist that America can be better. 

Seared by memories of seeing their friends murdered at a place they believed to be safe, these young leaders don’t intimidate easily. They see the NRA and its allies—whether mealymouthed politicians or mendacious commentators peddling conspiracy theories—as mere shills for those who make money selling weapons of war to whoever can pay. They’re as comfortable speaking truth to power as they are dismissive of platitudes and punditry. And they live to mobilize their peers. 

Already, they’ve had some success persuading statehouses and some of the biggest gun retailers to change. Now it gets harder. A Republican Congress remains unmoved. NRA scare tactics still sway much of the country. Progress will be slow and frustrating. 

But by bearing witness to carnage, by asking tough questions and demanding real answers, the Parkland students are shaking us out of our complacency. The NRA’s favored candidates are starting to fear they might lose. Law-abiding gun owners are starting to speak out. As these young leaders make common cause with African Americans and Latinos—the disproportionate victims of gun violence—and reach voting age, the possibilities of meaningful change will steadily grow. 

Our history is defined by the youthful push to make America more just, more compassionate, more equal under the law. This generation—of Parkland, of Dreamers, of Black Lives Matter—embraces that duty. If they make their elders uncomfortable, that’s how it should be. Our kids now show us what we’ve told them America is all about, even if we haven’t always believed it ourselves: that our future isn’t written for us, but by us.

I almost forgot how the eloquence of this man can literally put a lump in my throat and give me the shivers at the same time.

Damn, do I miss him!

Now for the worst, and this was an easy one.
Ted Cruz's embarrassing homage to the man who once insulted his wife's looks and suggested that his dad killed JFK: 

President Trump is a flash-bang grenade thrown into Washington by the forgotten men and women of America. The fact that his first year as Commander in Chief disoriented and distressed members of the media and political establishment is not a bug but a feature. 

The same cultural safe spaces that blinkered coastal elites to candidate Trump’s popularity have rendered them blind to President Trump’s achievements on behalf of ordinary Americans. While pundits obsessed over tweets, he worked with Congress to cut taxes for struggling families. While wealthy celebrities announced that they would flee the country, he fought to bring back jobs and industries to our shores. While talking heads predicted Armageddon, President Trump’s strong stand against North Korea put Kim Jong Un back on his heels. 

President Trump is doing what he was elected to do: disrupt the status quo. That scares the heck out of those who have controlled Washington for decades, but for millions of Americans, their confusion is great fun to watch.

Well at least it was short and stubby.

However I still prefer this, much more honest, description of Donald Trump from Ted Cruz.
Hard to imagine how you go from that to licking Trump's boots, but somehow Ted Cruz made the transition.

Donald Trump welcomed the book by James Comey with open arms. Just kidding, it inspired this unhinged Twitter rant.

I watched Rachel Maddow talk about the release of the Comey memos last night with James Comey, AS they were being released.

Comey did not necessarily defend Andrew McCabe, he suggested that the process needed to play out, but he also did not "throw McCabe under the bus."
"Under the bus" is where Trump associates tend to end up.
Yeah about those memos.

Courtesy of the NYT:  

The memos are exacting in their specificity, including details about who was sitting where, the precise times that conversations began and their durations. In some cases, Mr. Comey shared his accounts with others immediately afterward. 

These details add credibility to Mr. Comey’s account of events. Mr. Trump has disputed some parts, including asking Mr. Comey to shut down an investigation into Mr. Flynn.

Exactly! Rather than indict James Comey for wrongdoing, these memos actually back up the testimony that he provided to the Senate and the details that he wrote about in his book.
Okay well first off Michael Flynn confessed to lying to the FBI and is now cooperating with the Mueller investigation.

The only one who destroyed Michael Flynn's life, is Michael Flynn.

Now back to those memos.

Exactly WHEN did Vladimir Putin brag to Donald Trump about the quality of Russian hookers?

Robert Mueller suspects that Paul Manafort may have been the Trump campaign's back channel to Russians intent on meddling in the election.

Courtesy of Bloomberg:  

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s interest in former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort stemmed in part from his suspected role as a “back channel” between the campaign and Russians intent on meddling in the election, a Justice Department lawyer told a judge. 

The disclosure by U.S. prosecutors came Thursday during a hearing on whether Mueller exceeded his authority in indicting Manafort on charges of laundering millions of dollars while acting as an unregistered agent of the Ukrainian government. Manafort’s lawyers say those alleged crimes have nothing to do with Mueller’s central mission -- to determine whether anyone in the Trump campaign had links to the Russian government. 

Defense attorney Kevin Downing argued anew to U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington that even Mueller’s appointment order permitting him to probe “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation” wouldn’t cover the political consulting work that Manafort did in Ukraine for a decade. 

But Justice Department attorney Michael Dreeben said prosecutors were justified in investigating Manafort because he had served as Trump’s campaign chairman. “He had long-standing ties to Russia-backed politicians,” Dreeben told Jackson. “Did they provide back channels to Russia? Investigators will naturally look at those things.” 

Prosecutors hadn’t previously used such explicit language to describe their suspicions about Manafort. In a previous court filing, Mueller also cited business ties between Manafort and the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

Well if this pans out Manafort might be what they refer to in the legal profession as F.U.C.K'd.

David Corn of Mother Jones gets it:
And this only adds to the avalanche of legal problems that is crushing the life out of Manafort which include a five-count indictment in Washington on charges of money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent for Ukraine, and an 18-count indictment in Virginia on charges of bank fraud, tax evasion and failing to report foreign bank accounts.

Did I mention that he was F.U.C.K'd? 

Manafort would also like to have access to his bank accounts returned.

Not because he wants to flee the country, but because he desperately wants to flee the country.

You know all of this reminds me of that word we kept hearing all year. You know the one that rhymes with "confusion."

Contusion, intrusion, foregone conclusion, nah that's not it.

Don't worry, I am sure it will come to me eventually.

Donald Trump does not need your stinking White House Correspondent's Dinner, he will be holding a poorly attended Right Wing rally instead. So there!

Aw, the ignorant, the racist, the frighteningly pale, or as I call them, my base.
Courtesy of Raw Story: 

US President Donald Trump will lead a political rally during this year’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, his campaign team has announced, opting to hold the event in the small town of Washington, Michigan. 

It is the second consecutive year Trump will be snubbing the annual dinner, amid his sustained attacks on much of the news media, and also the second time he has chosen instead to rally in a key battleground state he won in his 2016 election after speaking last year in Pennsylvania. 

His campaign chief operating officer Michael Glassner made it clear that choosing Washington, a town of some 25,000 people on the outskirts of auto manufacturing hub Detroit, was no coincidence. 

“While the fake news media will be celebrating themselves with the denizens of Washington society in the swamp that evening, President Trump will be in a completely different Washington, celebrating our national economic revival with patriotic Americans,” he said in a statement released to the media. 

Aww, does little Donnie not want to get his fee fees hurt by a girl in front of millions of Americans?

It should be noted that presidents have been attending this thing since way back in the 1940's even though they knew they would be the butt of many of the jokes.

Ronald Reagan only missed one because he had been shot the month before.

But Trump is such a fucking baby that he cannot stand to have anybody make fun of him, as we saw for ourselves during the 2011 WHCD.

I think this year Trump is especially worried about being made fun of by a girl.

Which is truly pathetic especially after Michelle Wolf double dog dared him to show up.
Only a true pantywaist would turn tail and run from that.

Bump stock maker ain't making bump stocks no more.

Courtesy of CNN: 

Slide Fire Solutions, the inventor and manufacturer of bump stocks, will no longer be selling the firearm accessories. 

On its website Tuesday, Slide Fire Solutions said it "will cease taking orders for its products and shut down its website." 

The company said it will process and ship all orders taken prior to May 20. The company did not say on its website what will happen to its factory in Texas.

It is not everything, but it is something.

And all journeys toward progress are made up of tiny steps forward.

Looking forward to the day when the last company says that they will no longer manufacture AR-15's.

I know, I know, don't hold your breath. 

New York Attorney General moves to sidestep any potential presidential pardons.

Courtesy of HuffPo: 

New York’s attorney general has asked officials to change state law so President Donald Trump’s aides can be tried for any criminal acts committed in the state, even if they have been given a presidential pardon. 

In a letter sent to New York’s top lawmakers, including Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) said that he was troubled by Trump’s frequent discussion of his ability to issue pardons and that he was worried those who had committed crimes in the state would escape prosecution. New York has a double jeopardy law that prevents individuals from being charged with the same crime twice, even if the charges originated at the federal level. 

“New York’s statutory protections could result in the unintended and unjust consequence of insulating someone pardoned for serious federal crimes from subsequent prosecution for state crimes,” Schneiderman wrote in the letter, dated April 18. “Even if that person was never tried or convicted in federal court, and never served a single day in federal prison.”

I am not a lawyer, but I believe that if this is successful the legal term is "checkmate." 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Rudy Giuliani is joining Donald Trump's legal team, because hell, why not. Update!

Courtesy of WaPo: 

Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, a combative former prosecutor and longtime ally of President Trump, told The Washington Post on Thursday that he has joined the president’s legal team dealing with the ongoing special counsel probe. 

“I’m doing it because I hope we can negotiate an end to this for the good of the country and because I have high regard for the president and for Bob Mueller,” Giuliani said in an interview. 

Trump counsel Jay Sekulow said Thursday in a statement that Giuliani is joining the team along with two former federal prosecutors, Jane Serene Raskin and Marty Raskin, a couple who jointly run a Florida-based law firm. 

“Rudy is great,” Trump said in the statement issued by Sekulow. “He has been my friend for a long time and wants to get this matter quickly resolved for the good of the country.”

Jesus, is that what you get when you scrape the bottom of the barrel, freaking Rudy Giuliani?

I think the last time that Giuliani practiced law he was chasing horse drawn ambulances.

It does not appear however that Giuliani is coming on board to do much legal work, but rather as a go between for Trump to reach out to the Mueller team.
Yes, because that's how these things work.

You just need to find a friend that you and the investigator have in common, and they will convince them that you are a good guy and they should back off.

Besides isn't that kind of how Trump got into this mess in the first place?

The President then returned to the topic of Mike Flynn, saying, "He is a good guy and has been through a lot." He repeated that Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong on his calls with the Russians, but had misled the Vice President. He then said, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go." I replied only that "he is a good guy." (Source.)

It is VERY unlikely that Giuliani is going to be able to persuade Mueller to wrap things up quickly or see his way clear to "let it this go."

In fact there are currently rumors that Giuliani is ALREADY under investigation by the Mueller team.

That seems a little awkward.

By the way also keep in mind that Giuliani is waist deep in this Russia collusion thing as well.
Yeah, that was a lie.

And certainly not the first or last one that Giuliani has told on Donald Trump's behalf.

Just another clown added to the clown car.

Update: This Twitter thread makes an important point. 

Excellent point.

Sean Hannity and Donald Trump don't simply share lawyers, they are late night snuggle bunnies.

Courtesy of WaPo:

The phone calls between President Trump and Sean Hannity come early in the morning or late at night, after the Fox News host goes off the air. They discuss ideas for Hannity’s show, Trump’s frustration with the ongoing special counsel probe and even, at times, what the president should tweet, according to people familiar with the conversations. When he’s off the phone, Trump is known to cite Hannity when he talks with White House advisers. 

The revelation this week that the two men share an attorney is just the latest sign of how Hannity is intertwined with Trump’s world — an increasingly powerful confidant who offers the ­media-driven president a sympathetic ear and shared grievances. The conservative commentator is so close to Trump that some White House aides have dubbed him the unofficial chief of staff. 

This portrait of the interactions between the president and the talk-show host is based on interviews with more than a dozen friends, advisers and associates of the two men, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations. 

For a president who feels, intensely, that he is under siege, Hannity offers what he prizes: loyalty and a mass audience. And Trump, in turn, has directed his supporters to Hannity’s show — urging people on Twitter last week to watch the commentator attack special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who heads the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign. 

Their bond intensified during the 2016 campaign and has grown stronger during Trump’s time in office. 

“The bottom line is, during the heat of the campaign when relationships are forged, he was always there, offering good advice, in person and on television,” former deputy Trump campaign manager David Bossie said of Hannity. “The president sees him as an incredibly smart and articulate spokesman for the agenda.”

"Incredibly smart?"  Sure, okay.

The article goes on to say that Trump and Hannity talk several times a week, and that Hannity  even helps him with his tweets. (Well that explains a lot.)

In fact it is almost as if Hannity has a desk in the White House.

Shit, more like he has his toothbrush in the master bathroom.

Essentially Trump and Hannity are engaging in the Right Wing cable television version of phone sex.

"Oh Donald you are so masterful, and your hands seem gigantic over the phone."

"Oh Sean you are so creepily flattering, and I love how you carefully manipulate me into saying and tweeting crazy things that are damaging our country. I can't quit you."

I really think that this was Roger Ailes' fantasy all along.

To have Fox News take over the running of this country, and lead it to the glorious conservative dystopia that dominated his masturbatory fever dreams.

Too bad he did not live long enough to see it.

And hopefully WE will live long enough to see it all come crashing down around Donald Trump's ears.

Trump's attorney Michael Cohen abruptly drops his suit against Buzzfeed and Fusion GPS. Gee, I wonder why?

Courtesy of Politico: 

Embattled attorney Michael Cohen has dropped a pair of much-touted libel suits against BuzzFeed and the private investigation firm Fusion GPS over publication of the so-called dossier detailing alleged ties between President Donald Trump and Russia. 

Cohen abandoned the suits late Wednesday as he continues to fight to recover documents and electronic files seized from his home, office and hotel room last week by federal authorities as part of what appears to be a broad criminal investigation into his conduct. 

"The decision to voluntarily discontinue these cases was a difficult one," Cohen's attorney David Schwartz said. "We believe the defendants defamed my client, and vindicating Mr. Cohen’s rights was — and still remains — important. But given the events that have unfolded, and the time, attention, and resources needed to prosecute these matters, we have dismissed the matters, despite their merits." 

The dossier claims that Cohen met with Russian operatives somewhere in Europe, including Prague, to attend a meeting to “clean up the mess” created by public disclosures of other Trump associates’ reported ties to Russia. 

So why would Cohen suddenly drop these lawsuits?

A couple of reasons spring to mind.

For one Cohen is under criminal investigation, and being sued for defamation by the attorney for Stormy Daniels.

That means he would be involved in at least three legal battles at the same time, one of which might see him face time in a federal prison.

That is a lot of money be spreading around. Even if he is rich, there is a limit. 

The other reason is discovery in the Fusion GPS and Buzzfeed cases.

Any evidence that Cohen has to reveal to battle them in court is likely going to then be made available to the media, and will definitely be available to the Mueller team.

And as we have witnessed before team Mueller are known for jumping on newly revealed information quickly and decisively.

In response to all of this Cohen might not remain Trump's personal attorney for long.

In fact one of Trump's past legal representatives has reportedly told Trump he cannot Trust Michael Cohen.

Courtesy of Slate: 

One of President Donald Trump’s longtime legal advisers said he warned the president in a phone call Friday that Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer and close friend, would turn against the president and cooperate with federal prosecutors if faced with criminal charges.

Mr. Goldberg said he cautioned the president not to trust Mr. Cohen. On a scale of 100 to 1, where 100 is fully protecting the president, Mr. Cohen “isn’t even a 1,” he said he told Mr. Trump…. In the call, Mr. Goldberg [-] said he told the president Mr. Cohen could even agree to wear a wire and try to record conversations with Mr. Trump. “You have to be alert,” Mr. Goldberg said he told the president. “I don’t care what Michael says.”

Of course IF Trump fires Cohen that would then give him less reason to go out on a limb to protect his former boss. 

You know it is almost as if Trump is being outmaneuvered on all sides.

Trump asked if he plans to fire either Robert Mueller or Rod Rosenstein, answers with "There was no collusion."

Courtesy of Raw Story:

"Have you concluded that it’s not worth the political fallout to remove either special counsel Mueller or Deputy Attorney General [Rod] Rosenstein?” Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs asked the president during his joint press conference with Japanese President Shinzo Abe. 

“I can say there was no collusion and that’s been so found, as you know, by the House Intelligence Committee,” Trump responded, citing the recent closure of the Republican-led committee’s Russia investigation. “There is no collusion. There is no collusion with Russia other than by the Democrats, or, as I call them, the obstructionists. They truly are obstructionist.” 

The president then switched gears to reiterate his belief that the Russia investigation is a “hoax,” claiming that it was “created largely by the Democrats as a way of softening the blow of a loss which is a loss that frankly they shouldn’t have had from the standpoint that it’s very easy for them to have a tremendous advantage in the electoral college.” 

“You look at the kind of money that was paid, probably some went to Russia,” he continued. “You look at [Obama White House adviser] John Podesta having a company in Russia where nothing happened and people don’t talk about it. You look at the fact that their server, the DNC server, was never gotten by the FBI.”

You will notice that at no time did Trump proclaim that he was NOT planning to get rid of either Rod Rosenstein or Robert Mueller.

And as for collusion, we are seeing it happen right before our eyes with Trump refusing to implement the Russian sanctions that were voted on by Congress, and that his own Ambassador to the UN announced were coming.

That is the pro quo for Putin's quid.

In the meantime Mitch McConell is refusing to allow a vote to protect Robert Mueller reach the House floor.

And the police in Pittsburgh are preparing for the riots that will surely erupt once Trump does fire Mueller.

Can you say "constitutional crisis?" I knew that you could. 

Three year old shoots pregnant mommy in the stomach with her daddy's gun. Man, it does not get more American than that!

Not actual child in story. I think it's one of the Olsen kids.
Courtesy of Newsweek:

A pregnant mother of two is in critical condition after she was shot by her 3-year-old daughter, who picked up her father’s gun inside her car. 

The mother, 21-year-old Shaneque Thomas, was parked outside a Plato’s Closet thrift store in Merrillville, Indiana when she was shot from behind by her young daughter. 

Police said the father, Menzo Brazier, left the legal but loaded 9mm handgun between the console and the front passenger seat after he left the vehicle to go inside the store, reported WMAQ-TV. 

The child is then said to have climbed over from the backseat and reached to pick up the gun before accidentally firing, hitting her mother though the upper right part of her torso.

It's a good damn thing that bullet did not hit the fetus, because that is the only thing that would convince the Republicans to do something about gun violence in this country.

Men, women, and children can die by the truckloads and the Republicans could not, and do not, care one little bit.

But abortion, even bullet abortion, is one thing they simply could not handle.

Of course their solution would almost certainly involve some kind of maternity size bullet proof tummy shield, but at least they would have to weigh in.

The 2nd Amendment, causing death and mayhem for over two hundred years.

Top Republican official admits that they could not have won in Wisconsin without voter ID laws keeping thousands of eligible people from voting.

Courtesy of Mother Jones:

Election officials and Democrats in Wisconsin have repeatedly argued that the state’s strict voter ID law allowed Donald Trump to win the state in 2016 by keeping thousands of voters—predominantly in Democratic-leaning areas—from the polls. Now a top Republican official in the state is saying the same thing. 

“We battled to get voter ID on the ballot for the November ’16 election,” Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, who defended the law in court, told conservative radio host Vicki McKenna on April 12. “How many of your listeners really honestly are sure that Sen. [Ron] Johnson was going to win reelection or President Trump was going to win Wisconsin if we didn’t have voter ID to keep Wisconsin’s elections clean and honest and have integrity?” 

The law, which went into effect in 2016, required specific forms of government-issued photo identification to vote. In a cover story last year, Mother Jones reported that the law kept tens of thousands of eligible voters from the polls and likely tipped the state to Trump. A federal court found in 2014 that 9 percent of registered voters in Wisconsin did not possess the identification necessary to vote. In a University of Wisconsin study published in September 2017, 1 in 10 registered voters in Milwaukee County and Madison’s Dane County who did not cast a ballot in 2016 cited the voter ID law as a reason why. That meant that up to 23,000 voters in the two heavily Democratic counties—and as many as 45,000 voters statewide—didn’t vote because of the voter ID law. Trump won the state by 22,000 votes.

Just another reminder that without cheating, unnecessary voter ID laws, gerrymandering, Russian meddling, Republicans cannot actually win.

For me it is not so much the winning, but rather the good that you can do once you win.

I guess that is why I'm a Democrat.

This almost got lost in all of the recent news lately, but yet another Republican is jumping ship.

Charlie Dent was actually one of the least odious Republicans, I think they called him a moderate or something like that.

Which I think in conservative circles means he was not one who masturbated with his gun while staring at a picture of Ronald Reagan. 

However he was a Republican so he has gotta go.

And now there is one more opportunity for Dems to pick up yet another House seat.

Looking good for 2018 my friends.