Monday, March 27, 2017

The night that Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee disappeared he later turned up on White House property for a clandestine rendezvous. Update!


Remember when we reported that the night before Devin Nunes ran to the White House to spill his guts he had received a phone call and suddenly disappeared into the night?

Well as it turns out we now know where he went.

Courtesy of the New York Times:

Representative Devin Nunes of California, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, met on the White House grounds with a source who showed him secret American intelligence reports a day before he revealed that President Trump or his closest associates may have been “incidentally” swept up in foreign surveillance by American spy agencies.

Wait. So the night before he ran to the White House to tell Donald Trump this disturbing news, he first went to the White House to learn it himself?

Uh...WTF?

Well here was Nunes' supposed explanation courtesy of CNN: 

The California Republican confirmed to CNN in a phone interview Monday he was on the White House grounds that day -- but he said he was not in the White House itself. (Other buildings, including the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, are on the same grounds.)

Nunes went to the building because he needed a secure area to view the information, he told CNN. He said he didn't believe the President nor any of his West Wing team were aware he was there, and the White House said Monday it learned of Nunes' visit through media reports and directed any questions to the congressman.

Uh...okay.

So Nunes HAD to visit the White House grounds in order to view the confidential information in a "secure room." However as many pundits have pointed out there are secure rooms all over Washington including in the Capitol building where Nunes works.

CNN also reports that a government official said Nunes was seen Tuesday night at the National Security Council offices of the Eisenhower building, which has a secure room, and that he arrived and left alone.

So doesn't that mean that whoever gave him this "information" was already IN the Eisenhower building? And did no one see that person arrive or leave? (Update: I just saw Nunes on CNN again and he is now claiming that he had this information for quite awhile, and did not just receive it the night in question. A statement that literally just makes all of this even more confusing.)

CNN further reports that members of Congress, like the general public, must be cleared and escorted into facilities on White House grounds.

Which of course immediately brings up the question, "Who the fuck let Nunes onto the White House grounds? And how could Trump or any of his staff NOT know he was there?"

What does that Cheshire cat always say? "Curiouser and curiouser?"

By the way with these new revelations House Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is demanding that Nunes be removed from this investigation.

And Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, is saying the same.

Actually I think that at this point this is not enough and that the FBI should subpoena his ass and get to the bottom of all of this cloak and dagger bullshit. Something is WAY off about all of this.

Update: I think we all saw this coming.

Just because the Republicans failed to repeal Obamacare does not mean they are finished trying to screw it up.

Courtesy of Yahoo News:  

Republicans may have failed to overthrow Obamacare this week, but there are plenty of ways they can chip away at it. 

The Trump administration has already begun using its regulatory authority to water down less prominent aspects of the 2010 healthcare law. 

Earlier this week, newly confirmed Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price stalled the rollout of mandatory Medicare payment reform programs for heart attack treatment, bypass surgery and joint replacements finalized by the Obama administration in December. 

The delays offer a glimpse at how President Donald Trump can use his administrative power to undercut aspects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including the insurance exchanges and Medicaid expansion that Republicans had sought to overturn. 

The Republicans' failure to repeal Obamacare, at least for now, means it remains federal law. Price's power resides in how to interpret that law, and which programs to emphasize and fund.

Bastards!

However Trump and the Republicans are not going to be able to do this in the shadows.

People are paying attention.

Courtesy of HuffPo: 

The Department of Health and Human Services inspector general has launched an investigation into the Trump administration’s decision to pull ads encouraging people to sign up for the Affordable Care Act during the enrollment period. By shutting down such outreach, the action could be seen as a stealth way to starve the health plan without legislative authority, critics say. 

President Donald Trump’s administration said the ads were a waste of money, but Democrats have characterized the action as sabotage. 

In response to a request to investigate the actions from Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), the inspector general said his office is conducting a “fact-finding” review, the Hill reported. 

The office will examine exactly what was done and when by the administration, and its effect on enrollment in the health plan, according to a letter written to the senators Thursday. Dwindling numbers of consumers enrolled in any insurance undermines an affordable risk pool.

And this is what needs to be done right down the line.

Senate and House Democrats need to identify and attempt to stall the various forms of sabotage to the Affordable Care Act while the media reports on what the Republicans are doing and the effects it is having on the already insured and those seeking insurance.

Americans also should be reminded on a daily basis that virtually ALL of the problems that ACA is currently having are related to GOP sabotage from the very beginning of its implementation.

From Republican governors refusing to expand Medicaid or allow the health care exchanges in their states, to the constant flood of disinformation that comes from their mouths, the GOP has created the very problems that they now blame on Obama and the Democrats.

The facts are that the Republicans NEVER wanted to help the American people get affordable health care, and the only way Obamacare will be preserved and improved is with more Democrats in office working to make that happen.

Remember this?

I think you already know the punchline to this joke.

Courtesy of CNN: 

President Donald Trump headed to one of his golf courses again Sunday, marking his 13th visit to one since taking office and the eighth consecutive weekend he has spent at properties bearing his name. 

While the President hasn't played golf on every visit, sometimes attending to presidential business, the trips underscore a break with his insistence on the campaign trail that he wouldn't spend his time golfing because of how hard he would be working.

Yep the guy who said he would be too busy to do any more golfing, has spent more time at golf resorts than any other president before him.


Personally I have to say that I prefer Trump out golfing instead of sitting in the Oval Office sabotaging the country.


Reports say that White House officials are purging their electronic devices in reaction to possible subpoenas coming their way.

Courtesy of the Independent:  

White House officials and members of Donald Trump’s transition team are reportedly “purging” their electronic devices to avoid being compromised by subpoenas, it has been claimed. 

 The accusation comes just weeks after government lawyers ordered the President’s aides to preserve any materials that could be connected to Russian interference in the 2016 election. 

One legal expert told MSNBC - the channel that first reported the allegations based on testimony from an inside source - there could be “legal ramifications” for staff who destroyed crucial evidence relating to ongoing investigations. 

I remember when Rachel Maddow broke this news a few days ago, and also saw Andrea Mitchell ask that legal expert what would happen if staffers did this after receiving direction to preserve their communications.

I believe prison was the answer.

But this is another of those things that you kind of already know is already happening even though the White House staff has been told directly not to.

Donald Trump simply does not believe in playing by the rules. And when you are working for somebody who is ethically challenged it becomes easy to follow their example.

I actually wonder if the cell phones and tablets had not already been purged back in February when Sean Spicer was conducting random checks to find the White House leakers.

However if these staffers actually think this will keep them out of the hot seat, or that it will stall the investigation, well then they don't understand Congressional subpoena power.

The phone company has a record of every call they have made, and as we know computer data bases are rarely ever completely wiped clean.

So if these people have actually done this they are only making things harder for themselves in the long run.

Donald Trump actually handed Chancellor Angela Merkel a 300 billion dollar bill that he claimed Germany owed NATO.

Courtesy of The Sunday Times:  

Donald Trump handed the German chancellor Angela Merkel a bill — thought to be for more than £300bn — for money her country “owed” Nato for defending it when they met last weekend, German government sources have revealed. 

The bill — handed over during private talks in Washington — was described as “outrageous” by one German minister. 

“The concept behind putting out such demands is to intimidate the other side, but the chancellor took it calmly and will not respond to such provocations,” the minister said.

So I guess Trump was full of shit yet again when he tweeted this:
This guy is a national embarrassment now.

Good job Trump voters!

Mother Jones assembles a lengthy timeline of the Trump/Russia scandal.

You really do need to read the whole thing, but here is just what has happened in the last five days or so:

March 20:  

The House intelligence committee holds its first public hearing on its investigation into Russia's interference in the US election. Responding to the committee's questioning, FBI Director James Comey confirms that the bureau has since July been "investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts." Both Comey and NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers dismiss Trump's claim that Obama wiretapped him during the election. 

- In response to questions from Mother Jones' David Corn, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chair of the House intelligence committee, tells reporters he has never heard of key figures connected to the Trump-Russia scandal, including Carter Page and Roger Stone. 

 - Spicer tells reporters that Paul Manafort, who ran Trump's campaign from April 2016 to August 2016, "played a limited role" on the campaign "for a very limited amount of time." 

March 22: 

The Associated Press reports that, starting in the mid-2000s, Manafort worked on behalf of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska to "influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and the former Soviet republics to benefit the Putin government." The news service quotes a 2005 strategy memo authored by Manafort, who writes, "We are now of the belief that this model can greatly benefit the Putin government if employed at the correct levels with the appropriate commitment to success." Manafort denies working on behalf of Russian interests. 

- Mother Jones reports that Manafort tried to help Deripaska secure a visa to the United States. The aluminum magnate had been denied entry to the United States at various points because of suspected ties to the Russian mafia. 

- Rep. Devin Nunes, without briefing Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), his Democratic counterpart on the intelligence committee, or other members of the panel, calls a surprise press conference, announcing that he has seen evidence that the intelligence community "incidentally" picked up communications by Trump transition officials in the course of lawful surveillance on foreign parties. He claims that the names of Trump officials were "unmasked" and that "none of this surveillance was related to Russia." 

- In a remarkable departure from intelligence committee norms, Nunes visits the White House to brief Trump on his findings. The president later says he feels "somewhat" vindicated by the information Nunes shared. 

- Schiff releases a statement expressing "grave concerns" about Nunes' actions and casting doubt about whether a "credible investigation" can be conducted under these circumstances. 

- Schiff tells MSNBC's Chuck Todd that there is "more than circumstantial evidence now" of potential collusion between Trump officials and Russian operatives. - CNN, citing "US officials," reports that the "FBI has information that indicates associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton's campaign." 

March 23: 

The Associated Press reports that US Treasury Department agents have obtained records of "offshore financial transactions" by Paul Manafort, in conjunction into an ongoing anti-corruption investigation into his work in Eastern Europe. According to the new service, "As part of their investigation, U.S. officials were expected to look into millions of dollars' worth of wire transfers to Manafort. In one case, the AP found that a Manafort-linked company received a $1 million payment in October 2009 from a mysterious firm through the Bank of Cyprus. The $1 million payment left the account the same day—split in two, roughly $500,000 disbursements to accounts with no obvious owner." 

- Rep. Nunes apologizes to Democratic members of the intelligence committee for failing to brief them on the new information he obtained and instead taking it straight to the White House, but he won't explain why he took this unusual action. 

 March 24: 

Rep. Devin Nunes holds a press conference, where he announces that Paul Manafort has volunteered to testify before the House intelligence committee. 

What is not mentioned in this timeline, but equally important, is that Devin Nunes has now backtracked on his claim that Trump and associates were incidentally monitored by US Intelligence agencies.

I swear even though we have all just lived through all of this, seeing it laid out like this is jaw dropping.

At this point you would have to be an idiot, ie Trump voter, not to see that Donald Trump is in deep, deep trouble here.

I can only imagine what new damaging information this week will reveal.

Pizzagate protests prove that you really can fool some of the people all of the time.

And look they actually brought their children!
Courtesy of WaPo: 

Several dozen people assembled outside the White House Saturday to demand an investigation into the unfounded Internet rumor known as “Pizzagate.” 

Wearing T-shirts and holding banners defending the conspiracy theory — which falsely linked Hillary Clinton to an alleged child-sex-trafficking ring operating out of a D.C. pizza parlor — protesters took turns climbing onto an elevated stage in Lafayette Square to demand politicians and mainstream news media take their claims seriously. 

“I don’t have any doubt that Pizzagate is real,” said Kori Hayes, a corrections officer who drove with his wife and three kids to Washington from Middleburg, Fla., on Friday night for the event. “But nothing is being said about it.”

This of course comes after the Pizzagate shooter, Edgar Welch, agreed that he was motivated by  "unfounded rumors about a child sex-trafficking ring."

And after Alex Jones, one of the biggest promoters of this conspiracy theory,  said this: 

"I want our viewers and listeners to know that we regret any negative impact our commentaries may have had on Mr. Alefantis, Comet Ping Pong, or its employees. We apologize to the extent our commentaries could be construed as negative statements about Mr. Alefantis or Comet Ping Pong, and we hope that anyone else involved in commenting on Pizzagate will do the same thing."

God there are SO MANY dumb people in this country. 

Is it any wonder that the Russians were able to get Donald Trump elected president?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Fox News host calls for Paul Ryan to step down hours after Donald Trump tweeted that everybody should watch her show.

Courtesy of WaPo: 

At the top of her show, Jeanine Pirro, host of “Justice With Judge Jeanine,” delivered a scathing commentary on Ryan’s performance in the days leading up to the decision to pull the House Republican bill to overhaul the Affordable Care Act.

“It failed within the first 70 days of President Donald Trump’s administration, a president who made the replacement of Obamacare the hallmark of his campaign and then used valuable political capital to accomplish it,” said Pirro, placing the blame squarely on Ryan. 

“Speaker Ryan, you come in with all your swagger and experience and you sell 'em a bill of goods which ends up a complete and total failure, and you allow our president in his first 100 days to come out of the box like that, based on what?” she said. “Your legislative expertise, your knowledge of the arcane ins and outs of the bill-writing process? Your relationships? What? Your drinks at the Hay-Adams with your pals?”

This woman is a nasty, nasty piece of work.

What was really interesting about this is that Trump sent this tweet earlier in the day.
I actually watched this last night, since MSNBC was visiting prison again, and was amazed at how Pirro managed to spin all of this to protect Trump and lay all of the blame on Ryan.

At the end of this segment Pirro had two guests on who clearly had not received the memo and were exactly on board with her version of events.

And though I am certainly no Paul Ryan fan, her version of events is pure unadulterated bullshit.

Sarah Palin uses the Bible to attack education and smear college professors.

Palin at one of the numerous colleges she attended.
Courtesy of Sister Mary Hypocrite's Bible study page:

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. 

Matthew 6:24 

(And what does that passage have to do with college you might ask? Nothing really, but that does not stop Palin from using it as an opening for this serving of stupidity.) 

It took me five years (And five different colleges.) to graduate college, because I worked throughout to pay for it. All my siblings did; there was never a question about Dad’s teacher salary covering four kids in college at once. We did the math…we all got jobs. Nowadays, parents unload boatloads of money on a kid’s “college experience,” and that “experience” has never been costlier. (The Democrats had a plan for bringing tuition costs down dramatically, just that I should remind people of that.)

Not just financially. Modern college culture often involves nonstop efforts to unravel our children’s value systems. Self-indulgence is the name of the game, with professors blatantly attempting to indoctrinate with their liberalism. (Well facts DO have a liberal bias.) College today isn’t necessarily an incredibly rigorous experience, where students’ minds are constantly challenged and their horizons broadened. (And you would know this how?) So many courses are so politically correct they don’t even pass the straight-face test. Since really buckling down to take silly courses isn’t required, much time is dedicated to just having a good time – to partying. Many professors have cushy jobs that don’t require them to, you know, actually teach. (Also complete bullshit.) That means parents spend their hard-earned money – or, more accurately, borrow their not-yet- earned money – for grad students and adjuncts to fill the role of educator. You getting what you paid for, Pops? 

And for all of this, the student-loan debt in America is nearly $1 trillion! It’s prudent to think twice before shelling out big bucks to liberals so they can enjoy efforts to brainwash the next generation.

(Well she has a point. The best way for conservative parents to keep their kids conservative is to deny them an education.)

Today, teach kids the value of higher education, making sure they value God’s Truth over the falsehoods of man. (In this context God's Truth is superstitious nonsense from the Bible, and the "falsehoods of man" are facts.) Consider creative ways to pay for education – such as, ummm, getting a job. It teaches them the value of what they’re receiving, and even possibly keeps them from blowing cash when the keg party passes the hat.

I am sorry, HOW many of Palin's kids attended college? (And I don't mean hair or skin college.)

And HOW many of them have jobs right now? 

Last I heard Willow was working, but as for the others.......

And do we have an example of what happens to kids who do not go on to pursue higher education, and instead embrace their parent's values?

Oh that's right, we do.

Go ahead revisit the Palin family embracing their family values instead of going to college and being "indoctrinated."

Gee, if only ALL parents raised their children in a similar fashion.

Ted Koppel telling Sean Hannity that he is bad for America to his face.

Now THAT is good TV!

Ted Koppel is the best.

Pre-purchased conservative TV ads showed up celebrating the repeal of Obamacare. Only problem, the Republicans failed to make that happen.

Courtesy of NPR: 

Some basketball viewers on Friday night were subjected to television commercials that were guilty of peddling some alternative facts. 

That's because in some markets with conservative-leaning districts, commercials aired praising some Republican House members for their efforts in repealing the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare. 

The problem of course is that repeal effort, which many thought would be a slam dunk, was abandoned because the House Republicans didn't have enough support from within their own ranks.

In the generic ads, the American Action Network, a conservative-leaning advocacy group, urged viewers to call their member of Congress to thank them for keeping their "promise and replacing the Affordable Care Act with a better health care you deserve."

The premature ad buy was supposed to coincide with the long-awaited victory lap Washington Republicans campaigned on – that once they controlled both houses of Congress and the White House, Obamacare would be tossed out.

However as we know that vote never took place because Paul Ryan could not get the Freedom Caucus to play ball and so they ended up pulling the bill.

I know that it is considered bad form to flaunt a victory in your opponent's face, but I have to say that this victory is especially delicious.

And the fact that the conservatives were cocky enough to have these ads waiting in the wings just makes it more so.

As does this:
Yep, delicious. 

Russia owned news outlet applies for pass to be part of pool that follows Donald Trump around.

Courtesy of Politico: 

The Russian state-owned news website Sputnik has applied for a White House hard pass and is seeking membership in the White House Foreign Press Group in order to become a part of pool rotations. 

Sputnik, which Foreign Policy magazine described as the "BuzzFeed of propaganda," would be part of a rotating group of roughly 22 overseas outlets following President Donald Trump in his everyday interactions along with pool reporters from American print, TV, and radio outlets. 

Andrew Feinberg, Sputnik’s White House correspondent, has been in talks with the WHFPG head Philip Crowther, who told POLITICO that if Feinberg and Sputnik complete the boilerplate criteria for being a member of the press group, there "shouldn't be any reason" they wouldn't join the White House press pool.

Sure why not?

After all how else will Vladimir Putin keep close tabs on his puppet and make sure that he is following his instructions? 

Hey guys, remember when America was run by Americans?

Alex Jones more or less apologizes for his part in the Pizzagate conspiracy theory.

Courtesy of Raw Story:  

Conservative radio host Alex Jones apologized Friday for promoting an anti-government conspiracy theory that allegedly inspired one man to open fire in a Washington restaurant last year. 

Broadcasting from his website InfoWars, Jones said he was not the author of the so-called "Pizzagate" conspiracy theory, but regretted prior comments made in support of it. He specifically appealed to James Alefantis, owner of Comet Ping Pong. The Washington pizza place was one of several that the theory's supporters believed hosted a child-sex trafficking ring sponsored by Democratic Party officials. In December, 28-year-old Edgar Maddison Welch entered the restaurant and opened fire with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle without any reported injuries. After his arrest, Welch claimed he was motivated to take action based on his belief of the theory and that he was an avid listener of Jones' radio show. 

"I want our viewers and listeners to know that we regret any negative impact our commentaries may have had on Mr. Alefantis, Comet Ping Pong, or its employees. We apologize to the extent our commentaries could be construed as negative statements about Mr. Alefantis or Comet Ping Pong, and we hope that anyone else involved in commenting on Pizzagate will do the same thing," Jones said in a prepared statement. 

A lot of this apology is made up of bullshit excuses, however it IS the first time that I can remember Jones taking ANY responsibility for the damage done by his careless spreading of unfounded conspiracy theories, so that is at least something.

Now I am just waiting for him to apologize to the parents of the children killed at Sandy Hook who he accused of participating in a "false flag" operation designed to help President Obama take away people's guns.

Yeah, I won't be holding my breath for that one.

First the Canadian girl scouts refuse to come to America due to Trump, and now it's the schoolchildren.

Courtesy of the Toronto Star:  

Canada’s largest school board will not approve any new student trips to the United States in the wake of controversial travel restrictions proposed by President Donald Trump. 

However, 25 trips involving about 900 Toronto District School Board students that are already scheduled for this spring will go ahead as planned unless circumstances change, TDSB education director John Malloy wrote in a letter to principals Thursday. 

Given the uncertainty over the proposed travel restrictions, “we strongly believe that our students should not be placed into these situations of potentially being turned away at the border,” Malloy said. 

The board’s plan — approved unanimously by trustees at a board meeting late Wednesday night — was to strike a balance between ensuring safety and inclusion for students, without causing financial loss and disappointment by cancelling the spring trips kids had planned and fundraised for over many months.

You may remember that earlier this month the Girl Guides of Canada, essentially their version of the Girl Scouts, issued a statement saying that THEY would no longer be planning trips across the Southern border either.

I guess that is what happens when you suddenly become isolationists. People start to isolate you.