Wednesday, March 22, 2017

King of Distraction and Little Else

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Senator Al Franken (again).  I've met him a few times before.  I asked him one substantive question, probably shouldn't have, he's trying to relax on a plane ride at the end of the day, but I couldn't help myself.  My question was, "Does the Democratic Party leadership recognize that the claims against President Obama are merely a distraction, an intentional distraction, by President Trump to take focus off the very serious allegations about collusion between Trump and Putin?"

His answer was essentially, "Yes, it's clear to all of us."

I was pleased to hear it and in watching James Comey's testimony, specifically the questions and the answers to those questions, it was clear that the Democrats finally seem to be showing some wisdom regarding Trump.  They still (incorrectly) blame the FBI for Clinton's loss, they still (equally incorrectly, imho), think Trump won because he's a man and she's a woman.  They didn't realize that feeling "trumps" fact when people vote and Trump made people feel like they were winners, like they'd "win" their jobs back, like they'd be prosperous if the prosperous man won.  That he's mostly just playing a confidence game wasn't something they wanted to believe.

And then along came his rather obvious association with Vladimr Putin.  Trump is an inveterate blowhard, he demeans anyone and anything he feels he can get away with in order to pump himself up.  We're not "winning" in Iraq, demean our military leadership, John McCain doesn't like his comments on torture, demean McCain's military service.  So, when Russia is involving itself in propping up Bashar Assad, normally a man like Trump would have been all over Obama, he never restrained himself before where President Obama was concerned, but with Russia, with Putin, all you ever got was crickets.  He clearly had been to Russia, he certainly has ties to that part of the world (he has a large hotel in the capital of Azerbaijan, a dictatorial state run by a Putin puppet).  That didn't happen out of thin air nor coincidence.  He had reputed/alleged ties to Russian "suppliers" of concrete at a time when those suppliers shut down every other construction project in Manhattan.  In fact, the list of ties to Russia for Trump is so long, this post would be three pages before I stopped naming simply the first and second tier (ties through an immediate family member or close associate) between Trump and Russia. 

And then there's the fact that Trump was SILENT on the nature of the Wikileaks attacks except to at one point encourage them.  This may have telegraphed his myopic understanding of the law and of the gravity of any collusion which may exist.  Remember, the first thing he said was (paraphrase), "If Russia can find those missing e-mails, be my guest."  Perhaps he wasn't even aware such attacks weren't just an illegal attack on Ms. Clinton but would rightly be seen as an attack on the United States.  He's flouted the law in the past, perhaps he felt cyber attacks, which happen all the time, are no big deal.  After he was admonished, his line then became, "Well, you don't know it's Russia." A line he continued up until recently when he was advised and it was made very public, that we in fact do know.  His mockery of our intelligence community on this point undoubtedly was a catalyst which lead to the leaks he so despises, for undoubtedly that intelligence community took a look at the man and decided if he was going to attack them for doing their job correctly, they had ways of letting him know they knew his secrets. 

The story at this point goes then to this.  Trump has close ties to Putin and Russia and the various ex-KGB, oil oligarchs who surround Putin.  Those ties are deep, they include Mike Flynn (taking payments from Russia during the campaign it is alleged) and Paul Manafort, his campaign chair until the news about Russia started to leak and Trump fired him to save himself and for no other reason.

All of the things that have come up, from investigating leaks to blaming Obama for the investigation, they are all distraction, distraction meant, vainly tried, to take the focus off of Trump himself, off of what may well prove to be collusion between Trump's senior staff (and so almost certainly Trump) and hackers, hackers very likely directed by and employed by the Russian government.  If that turns out to be true, it would make Trump a guilible tool, a useful fool to use the Russian/KGB  terminology.  It would make him facile and feckless, a pawn to be exploited.  If true, Trump will be guilty of something for which he not only should be impeached but should be in prison.  Some might even call him a traitor, and if it proves to be true he helped Putin either before or after the break into DNC servers, if he colluded after the fact with Putin's men, then I'd be one of those looking long and hard at what we call treason and whether we should apply it to Donald John Trump.  The man who may well have the shortest Presidency in history where he did not die in office, and rightly so, if true.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The alternative reality of the right collides with the real world

Trump and GOP members want Americans to believe they have a better plan for health care and health insurance.

They don't.

For starters you don't rationally use an increase in the cost of insurance after a lapse by making that insurance more expensive.  It is likely that the increase in premiums will cause people to lose coverage, and Trumpcare makes it much harder to regain insurance, only adding to the numbers of uninsureds, not cover more people or make it more affordable.

The idea they embrace is to screw you and enrich themselves and the special interests who own them. The obscenely rich jerk, the hedge fund manager, by the name of Mercer, who holds the leash to Steve Gannon's collar, openly believes the amount of money you make is the only important measure of human worth.  To him and those rich bastards on the right like him, ordinary everyday Americans are of little or no value, expendable and disposable.

According to the CBO and the Census Bureau, while somewhere between 20 and 28 million people currently insured under Obamacare will become uninsured, with overall uninsured numbers rising to 52 million Americans, higher than the previous high under Dubya in 2001, of 52 million.

Don't believe Trump, don't believe the GOP; don't believe in leprechauns and unicorn magic solutions. People won't be insured by cutting taxes for the wealthy, and giving cuts to corporations either.

Wake up, you are going to be more screwed than under Dubya's economic collapse.

Monday, March 20, 2017

First Day of Spring, news in brief

Trump is still a liar, and looks ridiculous; Trump has a problem with Russia being behind his silly Brit spy surveillance claim, and the hearings in Congress show it never happened. It looks more every day as if Trump and his campaign colluded with the Russians to cheat in order to win.

In other news more and more Americans disapprove of Rump, and more Americans view Rump as illegitimate. (I do too.)

In other news Trump continues to fail on promises and performance, playing golf and pissing away the goodwill and loyalty of our allies.

And last but not least, Trump wants to fund the military on the backs and wallets of children, the old and the poor.  At the same time Rump advantages and gifts the wealthy even more than the failed Dubya tax cuts and other more devils means that harm a majority of Americans.

Neil deGrasse Tyson summed it up when he noted the Trump budget leaves the nation weaker, sicker, and more stupid.

Friday, March 17, 2017

It's another Friday Fun Day: more Rump schadenfreude

And like the week before, we have another round of Trump failures to enjoy.

Trump's bigot ban trying to fear monger Muslims has been blocked from going into effect. Good join again AG Lorie Swanson, another good example of successful Democratic governance that correctly understands and applies the proper function of government in action.

We see tremendous push back against the horrific failure in healthcare and insurance that is Trumpcare. This as much as any other initiative could hand the state and federal government back to the adults in the room aka the Democrats.

Cutting money to schools, hurting grandma and grandpa more than those fictional death panels ever could, defunding big bird, planned parenthood, and ending many if not all meals on wheels programs, enabling the harm to our LGBT population, enriching the rich at the expense of the middle and below....and endangering the nation by diverting resources from needed is not going to play well.

The Russian scandal looms larger every day, Rump's popularity falls lower and lower every day, "their president" is caught lying more and more every day.

The pace of Rump's decline and fall is slow but inexorable. And it has the virtue of a faster pace than the fall of Nixon.

In the interim it is a joy to see the mini-me Trumps being rejected in the EU, beginning with the Dutch.  Hooray for unity and strength and stability, hooray for a turn away from chaos and superficial ignorant thinking. Hooray for the choice of adults and good, thoughtful governance.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Happy St Urho's Day

St. Urho doesn't exist, never existed.  He is, in a way, fake news, more St. Ersatz.

St. Urho is a joke created here in Minnesota.  There is some disagreement as to where in Minnesota the joke started.  Minnesota has a good sized Irish population. We also have a large Finnish population in this region.

St. Urho is the Finn answer to St. Patrick, stealing just a little of the thunder of the man who was reputed to have driven the snakes out of Ireland, by having a holiday the day before the better known St Paddy.

St. Urho's holiday celebrates the driving out of grasshoppers from Finland where they were destroying the grape crop which was the foundation for the Finland wine industry.

WHAT Finland wine industry? Now you get the joke. It is very much in the low key what you might call Prairie Home Companion-esque variety of humor.

Although.... with enough global warming there might be a real need for a modern Urho to save the day, and to reinvent the culture of saunas and rolling in snow with growing grapes and stomping them into juice for wine making that far north.

After all, we have a burgeoning wine industry right here in Minnesots where we used to be known as the icebox of the lower 48 contiguous states of the USA.

Happy St. Urho's Day, hug a Finn and have a chuckle. And watch out for drunken grasshoppers.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Trumpcare is a big rickety mess

Trumpcare is a giant unwieldy gold plated shit wagon badly overloaded rolling down a steep and rocky hill of reality.

The only real questions are when will it collide with one of the many reality obstacles, how badly the rickety gold plated shit wagon will be damaged ( the shit wagon being here a metaphor for Trump and his administration) and how far the shit on the gold plated wagon will fly.  The shit metaphor here being the impossible to deliver on Trump promises, in this instance Trumpcare.

Arguably the biggest metaphor obstacle in the road down the reality hill is the CBO report released yesterday.  The shit wagon drivers (in this analogy, Trump spokespersons, surrogates, and those in congress supporting Trumpcare like Paul Ryan) trying to circumvent the obstacle of reality.  However their attemp to avoid a reality collision consists of denials the CBO assessment is real.
But there are other less obvious rocks in the road that threaten the rickety gold plated shit wagon like the West Virginia Coal Miners who recently received letters telling them they would no longer be receiving their black lung benefits for the widows and children of miners who died from working in the coal mines or those who had retired and were currently suffering from black lung.  These are angry people who voted for Trump, who believed his shit pile of lies about coal mining jobs coming back, and his lies about better, cheaper health care pots of gold.  These people PAID for these benefits they are now denied by Republicans who control Congress and the White House. These people make a compelling argument to the rest of the minimally educated blue collar white people Trump bigot base who hoped to "get theirs" while taking away from the black and brown Americans they wrongly blame for their problems and for institutional inequity. It remains to be seen if the shiny but unstable shit wagon will steamroll them flat, or if they will sharpen up and obstruct and resist the shit wagon headed their way.

The gold standard for fact checking political claims,, is quite clear that the GOP and their shit shoveling minions are lying (or if you prefer are willfully inaccurate) when they assert that the CBO failed to analyze correctly the costs and benefits of Obamacare. Rather I would argue Obamacare did a good job of performing as predicted, the CBO was correct, and that problems with Obamacare affected relatively few people and could easily be fixed.  I would further argue that the GOP has worked tirelessly to sabotage or otherwise inflict damage on the ACA but have not succeeded beyond their deluded base that dwells on that rarefied hilltop trying to avoid facts and reality that they don't like.

But like the overloaded, rickety, gold plated shit wagon, they are also going to have to head down that reality hill and will collide with sharp and painful pointy facts.

The only outcome waiting to emerge is how deep the shit is spread when it flies, who dodges it or deflects it, and who the casualties are from the collisions. Elections have consequences, and the 2018 round of the next election is looming like a mountain range horizon.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Anti-Muslim Ban Update, Sunday March 12, 2017

Last week six Attorneys General filed suit to stop it.

So far, as was the case with the previous failed ban initially, the court has requested further submission from the AGs to address specific facets.

The AGs, joined by the ACLU, and an impressive number of corporations, will be making further submissions to the court. The ban is scheduled to take effect later this week.  I predict that as with the first failed ban which completely fails to deliver on its premise but is instead throwing rotten red meat to the ignorant deplorable bigots who voted in the fascist Trump.

Stay tuned for further developments.

Friday, March 10, 2017

It's Friday, the fun day of the traditional work week: the Anti-Muslim Executive Order

I was a bit surprised to see on the midday news that the Minnesota AG Lori Swanson had joined the suit against the Trump administration bigoted Anti-Muslim ban.
I was surprised because the news report indicated this was done last night.

I was surprised because as is my habit when researching posts here, I had called the AG's office to inquire and been told no, no such action had taken place.

I am assuming the reports are true, and proud of AG Swanson for taking this action .  I'm just happy I turned on the local news before following through on writing something today.

I look forward to another successful legal challenge by Ms. Swanson, the additional AGs, and the corporations joining in opposition to this deplorable Trump executive order.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Update to Trump's Anti-Muslim Ban Opposition

As of this evening, per Reuters, March 9th, two more state AGs are joining the Hawaii and Washington, the New York AG who is also suing Trump and his (allegedly) crooked and illegal charity, and Oregon.  Per the BBC News as well, Massachusetts is joining the list of states challenging the bigoted ban, along with a number of corporations.

So far no announcement if Minnesota's AG will join that list, but we can hope.

Travel Ban 2.0 update; back in court

Hawaii is suing to overturn the latest Trump anti-Muslim ban.  The Attorney General of Washington state is expected to join in this law suit as well, after his initial success in cooperation with our own excellent AG, Lori Swanson.

I have yet to see an announcement as I write this if Swanson will join the Hawaii suit, which should again go, eventually before the 9th Circuit Appellate Court.

Legal analysts of the latest Anti-Muslim Travel Ban have opined the new version of the executive hate order contrived this new bigot ban specifically to succeed with the 9th Circuit.  However there are still major problems that continue with this ban from the previous iteration, notably all of the prior ban promotions of this ban as being specific to Islam, and the failure to demonstrate a significant danger from travelers from these six countries.

Homeland Security has been emphatically clear that national origin is NOT a predictor of subsequent terrorism, and that those few incidents of Islamic motivated terrorist violence has come from people born here, or from immigrants who were from countries not on the travel ban list.  Further with the exception of 9/11 all terrorist in the past 20 years were radicalized AFTER being in the United States for an extended period of time, not before they passed the screening test to enter the United States.

Unless Trump and his fellow bigots and swamp rats running this administration can present a cogent and credible argument that they will devise a screening test under the false label of extreme vetting that will predict future behavior that arises from unpredictable future influences, no travel ban or change in procedures they propose is going to make anyone safer from terroristic violence.
The Obama administration identified these six countries as needing further screening, which the Obama administration then put in place successfully.

The Trump administration has failed to improve on those changes in any way.

The Trump Swamp, appealing to bigot voters and the know-nothing's, deserve to lose round 2 in court.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Is their president Trump a money-launderer?

Sure looks like it.

Trump's latest anti-Muslim ban is a bad thing, an illegitimate thing, a fascist thing, a failure.

The new and not improved travel ban that targets Muslims tries to justify the need for national security with the claim that there are 300 investigations into refugees.

Not convictions. Not even prosecutions. "Investigations". Let me be clear, investigations clear people. Investigations into crimes or terrorism look at a lot of people, many who are guilty of nothing as a process of elimination.

In a separate piece of news, we learned today that apparently one of those who is being investigated, or at least having his right to travel reviewed, is Khazr Khan, the father of the Muslim soldier who gave his life to protect this country. Kahn and his wife spoke out during Hillary Clinton's campaign, parents who were subsequently shamefully vilified by Trump and his campaign. There is no evidence of any legitimate reason Khan should be singled out for this 'review' or investigation other than a politicized attack by Trump on this patriotic American citizen.

That taints all of these other supposed 300 'investigations'.

Since some 50,000 refugees entered this country just last year alone, and we have been taking in refugees since long before the Obama administration -- so what? What is the REAL significance of this vague assertion (another one without evidence)? The biological father of Steve Jobs came here as a Syrian political refugee back in the mid 1950s.

So who are these suspect refugees? Absent any other information as to how long they have been here, what screening they underwent in order to arrive here and in particular the information we have from Homeland Security that national origin is no predictor of terrorism and that most terrorists are radicalized AFTER arriving here, that assertion by the spectacularly less than honest Trump administration to justify, or attempt to justify, the anti-Muslm ban (and that is still what it is) is worse than meaningless.

I predict that this ban will fail for exactly the same reasons as the previous executive order -- because it is malicious, bigoted and incompetent.

So far the reality is that ZERO refugees from any of the remaining six countries have committed terrorist acts against the United States on US soil. And if actual terrorism is the standard, then we should be banning refugees and immigrants and visa seekers from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Chechnya, among others, and not from the countries Trump has singled out for apparently unfounded persecution.

We are not safer in the US, we are under greater fascism and authoritarianism. We are afflicted by official bigotry and hate and intolerance and ignorance. THAT is dangerous.
Image may contain: 1 person, text

Monday, March 6, 2017

Donald Trump, an ugly orange stain on America, a long term stain on the evil right

On the viewer's left, the fake president with his fake gilded pent house and his tacky noveau riche gauche taste.

On the viewer's right, the hilarious mocking of Trump and his bogus and illegitimate claims about Obama surveilling him.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing

Remember the State of the Union speech just last week? Where Trump promised pipelines would use US STEEL?

Image may contain: one or more people and text

Update on Sessions, the Russians and collusion to elect Trump (allegedly)

Here is a little more on why recused AG Jeff Sessions getting busted for perjury could be a big deal to investigating Trump's apparent collusion with the Russians to rig the outcome of the election.

From USA Today:

"Trump and other White House aides have repeatedly denied any contact between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
The ties between Sessions' staff and the current White House are many. Trump senior policy adviser Stephen Miller was Sessions' communications director before joining the Trump campaign in January 2016, and former Sessions chief of staff Rick Dearborn was director of the Trump transition and is now Trump's deputy chief of staff for legislative affairs.
..Sessions was perhaps Trump's most loyal supporter in Congress last year, and he chaired Trump's national security advisory committee."

Sessions directly benefited from Trump's questionable election.  He gained personally from this apparent collusion, gaining a position arguably more powerful than being a senator, and one from which he could shield Trump from investigation.  While there is no clear quid-pro-quo, no evidence so far that Sessions was promised the AG slot, or some other political plum, if Trump won, I think we can consider it implied from the outcome.

As a Trump National Security advisor, the CHAIR of Trump's National Security Advisors, Sessions would know damn well about the efforts of the Russians against the US, from hacking Americans (and not ONLY the DNC) but also in the proxy war in Syria as it relates to terrorism and ISIL. Sessions was much more than "called a surrogate a time or two" in his relationship to Trump and the campaign. He was a key insider, which makes his connections to Russia all the more suspect.

If the DoJ and the FBI can get leverage on Sessions for his conduct -- like perjury -- Sessions might throw Trump under the bus to save his own hide.  Not just Trump but also Trump staffer Stephen Miller who is a former Jeff Sessions staffer. Or at least Sessions might try to reduce the punishment from his actions in some way if not seek total immunity. Sessions has never struck me as a particularly strong person who would fall on his sword for someone like Trump; rather he is and has always been something of an opportunist, a man who took more money from special interests like Big Oil to act against the interests of his constituents than any other member of Congress.

Liar in Chief, Libeler in Chief

I'm thinking maybe Obama, if he is serious enough about getting rid of Trump, might go ahead and do this. I for one would LOVE to see a libel suit against "their" president.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Here is at least a spark that could lead to fire in all the Russia /Trump smoke

I have always found the Guardian to be reliable, one of the great newspapers world wide for being accurate and careful in what they write.

Today the Guardian wrote a piece that calls Jeff Sessions a liar. Still. New. It says that after Sessions met with the Russian Ambassador at the RNC convention, casually, which appears to be true, SESSIONS ALSO MET WITH THE RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR PRIVATELY AT THE RNC, OTHER THAN HIS CASUAL PUBLIC ENCOUNTER.

That makes his explanation of his failure to admit this to the Senate Confirmation senators' questions under oath a lie. THIS raises the issue of credible perjury by Sessions, if it can be proven -- and I would expect it can be proven, if it is being leaked in this way by Justice or other whistle blowers.

"According to a justice department official speaking anonymously to the Washington Post when it first reported the story, the meeting was casual: Kislyak and other ambassadors approached Sessions after he finished giving a speech. Sessions then spoke with Kislyak alone, the official said, citing a former staffer for the senator. To say the meeting was “set up by the Obama administration” is false."
Further it clarifies that contrary to claims, this was not a meeting set up by the Obama State Department. What is true is that the US State Department had a long standing pattern of inviting ambassadors from other countries to our political conventions as an educational opportunity. No subsequent meetings at the convention could be characterized as this kind of very public attendance by the Russian ambassador.  This is a case of both the original action AND the cover up being what will bring down Sessions, and Trump and his advisors, past and present.

Nowhere do we see this attendance by the Russian ambassador or anyone in his embassy doing this with Hillary Clinton and the Democratic convention.

Further, it appears that Jeff Sessions attended the GOP Convention on the Trump campaign dime, using campaign donations funding for that trip, not his own $$$ and not any senate funds to do so. This has been reported by a range of sources, including the Wall Street Journal and San Francisco Gate:
"The use of political funds instead of legislative funds is an important distinction because the Trump administration maintains that Session was acting only in his role as a then-U.S. senator when he talked to Kislyak."
This looks like the first sparks of the fire behind the smoke. This looks like more heat than just attempted obscuring the facts…/fact-check-trump-obama-wireta……/Report-Sessions-used-political-fund…

Saturday, March 4, 2017

White Privilege?

If you ever hear the phrase white privilege and you have doubts this is a real thing... think of this.

Image may contain: 3 people, hat, beard, meme and text