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Jan

Even when Jon Stewart was giving Michael Steele all kinds of grief on the Daily Show, I've always liked Steele and respected him. Matt Schlapp tries desperately to cover for the racist comment that was made about Steele but Steele just ain't havin' it!


Hmm, the government of Bashar al-Assad versus al Qaeda-dominated guerrillas. Yeah, I support the civilians who are caught in the crossfire.


Yes, Eric Trump is very annoyed with Americans who oppose his father. Never mind the fact that his dad is the most divisive president this country has ever had, that he has never once made a serious attempt to bridge differences or to even understand the other side's point of view. Nah, those who oppose President Trump are all just a bunch of ignorant peasants and commoners who don't have any manners.


Republican strategist Sarah Drumpf is asked about guns. She says she and others of her side of the issue are more concerned about law enforcement people freezing and not charging into certain-death situations. But we've known about this sort of thing happening for well over a century. The difference in combat is that you have a large crowd of fellow soldiers that will push you to charge the enemy anyway.


So the First Lady adopted cyber-bullying as her personal cause. The Parkland teens are undergoing serious cyber-bullying. How does the FLOTUS react? Complete radio silence, of course.


President Trump makes a number of statements on guns. Let's look at one of them: “I will be strongly pushing Comprehensive Background Checks.” Okay, first off, he has acted to weaken, not strengthen, background checks. Second, the problem with bakcground checks is not that they aren't comprehensive, it's that they don't cover nearly enough gun sales. So yeah, the statements are pretty unimpressive.  

Also, here's an interesting finding.
“The FBI conducted a study of 163 instances of mass shootings and found that only one was stopped by an armed individual versus 21 that were stopped by unarmed people.”

Dana Loesch seriously wears out her welcome on CNN.


Yes, there is quite a bit of anger and division in America right now, but right-wingers are certainly part of the problem.


Interesting stats. If the suspect isn't firing back, the NYPD hit rate is 30% If he is firing back (highly likely) the hit rate drops to 18%.

If we do a proper cost-benefit calculation, I just don't see why civilians need to have anything as lethal as an AR-15 or why anyone needs more than 10 bullets in a magazine. Senator Rubio was asked about magazines that hold 30 to 50 bullets and he just couldn't come up with any justification that was more urgent or necessary than the harm it caused for mass shooters to have them. People want pistols for self-defense or rifles for hunting, fine. Neither one requires more than 10 bullets, neither requires the super-lethality of assault weapons.


The President suggested teachers should be armed. There are a whole host of reasons that's a terrible idea.


Srudents across the country conduct walkout to protest the excessove availability of guns.


Yikes! Sea ice reaches lowest level in 12,000 years. 


"Republican congresswoman blames mass shootings on Democrats"
I believe people have asked the question of how likely are mass shooters to be either Republicans or Democrats and the answer has been that they tend to be apolitical, giving their allegiance to neither party. As this piece points out, the shooter in Parkland was very definitely a strong supporter of President Trump.


Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman appears to have some pretty wild diplomatic ideas that appear to be much more fantasy than reality.


Seems to be a battle between the kids of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School and the right wing unlimited-guns supporters.
Included: Dinesh D'Souza plumbs new moral depths.


The Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas wants to fire the United States as the mediator between Palestinians and Israel. President Trump apparently thought recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel would speed up the peace process. But the move was made without consulting or sounding out either the Democratic Party, the Palestinians or any of the Arab or other states. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley made it absolutely crystal clear that that decision was set in stone and would never change.
It of course hardly helped that the US decided to cut more than $100 million in funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency that provides many critically needed services to Palestinians. Slamming a party that's merely being stubborn may be a good strategy, but slamming a party with a legitimate grievance can be seriously counterproductive.


Donald Trump Jr. "liked" a tweet that blamed the father of one of the Parkland students for not acting to prevent the shooting on February 14th. Problem with doing that? The details aren't at all clear. Junior is seriously jumping the gun here and assigning blame before anyone really knows the story.


Our voting system has been under attack from Russia, but has also been under attack since the younger George Bush Administration started raising fears of in-person voter fraud. Here's a bill that will safeguard our systen.


So after blowing the deficit sky-high with their tax bill in December, the Republican Speaker of the House is, of course, naturally, what did anyone expect?, blaming our social safety net for the deficit.


Important context for why the Second Amendment was written in the first place.


Had a conversation with an FB friend about whether the Green Party's Jill Stein was a "useful idiot" or a "witting asset." Given Stein's rather hysterical attempts to change the subject and to say "Look over there!," I'd have to put her into the "witting asset" category.


There are zero good reasons for the US to still be involved in Syria. The war against ISIS is over and Bashar al-Assad is the legitimate President of that country. I understand we support and like the Kurds, but they're safe in Iraq and can communicate with their fellow Kurds in Syria from there.


President puts out a series of tweets. I write that he is the most divisive president the US has ever had.


Yes, the Russian interference with the vote is serious, but the domestic scaremongering about voter fraud (it happens, but it occurs in about one case out of every 50 million legitimate votes) is also a very serious threat to democracy.


Powerful speech made by survivor of Parkland schol shooting.


As of mid-February, President Trump hasn't held a press conference for a year. I recall the big, ugly stink that people made when Hillary Clinton hadn't held a press conference for almost 260 days. Keep in mind, she was just a candidate at that point! 


Speaker of the House Paul Ryan puts out a statement

We have known that Russians meddled in the election, but these indictments detail the extent of the subterfuge. These Russians engaged in a sinister and systematic attack on our political system.

Great statement. Really cool. I agree completely. Problem is, he talks the talk, but doesn't walk the walk. He fails to put hs money where his mouth is. A citizen asks:

Why have you allowed Nunes to try to obstruct the investigation at every turn, @SpeakerRyan? Why have you not spoken out about Trump's repeated false claims that the Russian interference is a hoax? Why did you laugh about Trump and Rohrbacher being in the pocket of the Russians?

And as the WaPo's Jennifer Rubin says: 

The president’s failure to take action to protect the U.S. election system and prevent another assault on our democracy — a real and ongoing concern voiced by the unanimous testimony of his top intelligence officials — appears to be a gross dereliction of Trump’s duties and an abrogation of his oath.

Mash-up video of Speaker Ryan arguing against "knee-jerk" reactions to shootings.


"House Republicans Gut Americans With Disabilities Act" Piece features clip of Rachel Maddow asking "Who the heck runs on the platform of 'I'm going to stick it to crippled people?' Who does that?"


Jared Kushner, the President's son-in-law, has regularly read the PDB (Presidential Daily Brief) since the beginning of his father-in-law's term as president. This is the singlr most highly classified, regularly distributed dcument the government publishes. He has no permanent security clearance. Reasons for this are that he keeps having to update his financial disclosure form and may have serious conflicts of interest. Also, debt is the single greatest reason that people "turn" and become double agents and there are strong indications that Kushner is deeply in debt.


Representative Steve Scalise compares "gun-free zones" with places where guns are allowed. He alleges that we have fewer fatal shootings in the allowed places, but the blogger recounts the situation in the Colorado Walmart last October, where more guns made it much more difficult to locate who the killer was.


Getting legislation on immigration is essentially the Trump Administration's first real attempt at legislation as the health care and budget initiatives were largely Congressional ones. Essentially, the president's team came out of the gate and fell face-first in the mud. 
Y'know, it's amazing, but the legislative model of getting a really small group of like-minded people together, coming up with a plan the group agrees on and then trying to ram through that proposal without getting any buy-in from any other group just doesn't seem to be a very successful model.


Both Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner like to conduct diplomacy without any aides with them. Not a particularly smart move. "On at least one occasion, they [Kushner and Cui Tiankai, the Chinese Ambassador to the US] met alone, which counterintelligence officials considered risky. 'There’s nobody else there in the room to verify what was said and what wasn’t, so the Chinese can go back and claim anything.'” Tillerson met with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and was wholly dependent on the Turkish translator.


"Paul Ryan says not yet time for political battles on guns"
Nope. Sorry. Wrong answer. When the bodies are being tagged and bagged and the blood is still fresh, that's precisely the correct time to discuss solutions and real gun control. We wait until a "proper" cooling-off period is over, the subject never gets discussed. We've seen way too many shootings over the years to believe that Speaker Ryan will ever voluntarily discuss gun safety measures.


Senator Marco Rubio says:

“I think it’s important to know all of [the facts] before you jump to conclusions that there’s some law we could have passed that could have prevented it,” [Senator Rubio] said. “There may be, but shouldn’t we at least know the facts?"

I'm curious. What are these oh-so-important "facts" that Senator Rubio wants to know before any action can be taken on the free and open availability of guns that are more suited for the batlefield than for any conceivable civilian purpose.


"After Florida school shooting, Fox analyst says AR-15s can be stopped 'with a slingshot if you know how to use it'"

First off, Israel faces more of a straight military threat. But Israel has much stricter gun laws than the United States does. Also, "Israel relies on professional members of the military and police force for security, rather than 'good guys with guns' or even Civil Guard volunteers." 
Second, sure you can stop a person with a rifle if you know how to use a slingshot. If, of course, you happen to be carrying a slingshot in the first place! Kind of like saying the shooter in Las Vegas could have been stopped if there had been a professional sharpshooter with a high-powered rifle ready and on the scene.


Cryptocurencies are really cool. But you know who realy, really likes them? Criminals!


Three right-wing conservatives allege that Hollywood is "weaponizing" the #MeToo movement to attack the President.


So how does it work for Palestinians from Gaza to depend on Israel for access to medicine outside the strip?

Palestinians from Gaza missed at least 11,000 scheduled medical appointments in 2017 after the Israeli authorities denied or failed to respond in time to applications for permits.
...
The Israeli authorities state that they can process priority permits in one day, although the typical waiting time averages two weeks, while "regular" cases require 23 days, and often fail to meet this timetable.

The USDA believes that sending SNAP recipients boxes of food items will cost less money than the current system of issuing checks and allowing people to buy their own food. That sounds highly unlikely to me and doesn't appear to take into account what groups like Hunger Free America are saying about the logistics of moving that much food to so many addresses. I also recall getting supplies in for my ship that was stationed in Italy. We had a shipment of non-perishable foods every few months from the US, but we'd supplement that with regular, smaller supplies of fresh fruits, vegetables and milk from local vendors. The USDA seems to think non-perishable foods are sufficient all by themselves. 
And remember, Puerto Rico only got a tiny fraction of the food that vendors were contracted to deliver ("50,000 of the 30 million meals contracted for"). The same people who bungled that would be in charge of this new initiative.


"Scores of top White House officials lack permanent security clearances" because President Trump's first priority is that people be absolutely loyal. Secondarily, they should be able to do their assigned jobs. It's hard to get people who can do both, especially as Trump's White House is a absolutely horrible place to work.


Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones names a bunch of nitwits and idiots and then I realize he's talking about his heroes! Yeah, it's an interesting talk. He characterizes net neutrality as a tool favoring the globalists and other such nonsense.


Mass shooting takes place at the  Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL and takes 17 lives. And yep, the shooter wore a Trump hat
Some guy comments that the shooting occured in a "gun-free zone." Okay, what is the boundary like between a gun-free zone and a zone where guns are allowed? Oh, that's right, there isn't any! New York state has lots of strict gun laws, but Virginia doesn't. People just drive down to Virginia, purchase guns and ammo and drive back again. Only national borders can screen for guns. State and city and school borders can't do that.


Budget Director Mick Mulvaney's assertion that a job is the best social welfare would make sense if jobs paid more than a measly $7.25 an hour. If the minimum wage was at least $15, then a job might be sufficient to life people out of poverty. Nah, Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) is right. Mulvaney's budget is immoral. 


The subject of this blog post is important, that our intelligence agancies were never asked to counter Russian interference in our electoral processes, but we also need some word-parsing here.
“Unverified” does not mean “discredited” and “salacious” doesn’t have anything to do with credibility.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., thought he'd trapped [FBI Director Christopher] Wray into admitting that the Steele dossier was discredited by asking if Wray agreed with James Comey's earlier statement that it was "salacious and unverified." Cotton seemed taken aback when Wray said that was "something we can discuss more in a closed setting," which naturally left the impression that there was something to discuss.

Permanantly occupying Northern Syria strkes me as a very poor idea. The rewards seem very slight  and, as in Angola in 1975, when the other guys escalate, the US doesn't have any mandate to do likewise.


Yeah, the line from the White House that (words to the effect of) "We just didn't realize how abusive Rob Porter was" was never credible. For a politician to say "Hey, I'm a big picture kind of guy. I wasn't following those fine-grained, nitty-gritty details of who did or didn't have security clearances and why," wouldn't be good, but it would be understandable. For a Chief of Staff to say that? Nope. Sorry. Wrong answer. The whole point of having a Chief of Staff is precisely to track exactly those kinds of issues. If John Kelly didn't know several months ago, then he's incompetent and should be fired immediately.


Trump Administration wants to send SNAP recipients boxes of food rather than to simply cut them a check. It's far from clear that the plan would save the government any money as you'd need to purchase the food, move it to warehouses and then hire people to pack and ship the boxes. Also, dietary restrictions would make for lots of waste, as those with say, an allergy to peanut butter would find it easier to chuck the stuff rather than return it. I wrote an LTE to our local paper on the isse. 


Hmm, y'know it's funny, but no one seems to know what the President is talking about when he says his infrastructure plan "has received great reviews." Main problem, as was pointed out here, is that the plan depends on states and localities drawing upon great pots of money that don't actually exist.


It is nice that "Last year, Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, dismissed his boss’ budget promises as 'hyperbole.'” But it would have been nicer had President Trump explicitly recognized "how difficult it is to balance the federal budget while also lowering taxes, preserving non-discretionary spending, increasing military spending, and cutting discretionary spending." He doesn't appear to have ever really grasped how to do all these things with the budget and still maintain a decent standard of living for regular citizens.


This is why people have concluded that Republicans just couldn't care less about administration figures beating their supposedly "loved ones." When you relegate wife-beating to a "woman's issue" or "soap opera news," you're indicating it's no big deal.


There's a very interesting statement here "Israel has to be very careful with the settlements." Sounds to me as though President Trump is saying to slow down the building of more settlements, which is of course precisely what Obama was saying. What Palestinians want on that issue is for all of the settlements to be removed as soon as possible. Unless the Trump Administration takes that demand seriously and agrees with that principle, Trump's statement of "Right now, I would say the Palestinians are not looking to make peace" will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.


Representative Jim Himes (D-CT) gives us some straight talk about the Nunes memo versus the Democratic rebuttal memo. Yeah, gee. For some strange reason, the Demcratic memo isn't being as well recieved by the Trump Administration. 


A look at "radical centrists." Never had much use for those who proudly pronounce themselves to be centrists and this piece confirms that. 


Hmm. Kellyanne Conway is asked about the President's respect for women. I notice that Conway has to restrict her proofs to talking about the President's private, behind-the-scenes actions as she can't point to anything where he's publicly treated women as equal to the powerful white men who get accused. It's also rather interesting that White House Communications Director Hope Hicks has been romantically linked to not one, but two men in the Trump Administration who have been accused of violence against women.


Ooh! These are not good! An Israeli jet gets shot down by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces that are Russian and Iranian-supported. Also,  Kurds shoot down a Turkish helicopter. Turkey has been a US ally since NATO was formed back in the late 1940s, the US has been supporting the Kurds since 2003 and especially lately in actions against ISIS.

Fox News contributor Marie Harf really tries! She really does, but her co-hosts won't hear the far more sensible explanation on the FBI lawyer Lisa Page sent to FBI Agent Peter Strzo text message that she offers.


Iraq needs $100 billion to recover from the damage the US did to them with the 2003 invasion and an occupation that lasted until the end of 2011. Obviously the US could have afforded that had they not just blown $1.5 trillion on a tax break and are planning a $200 billion infrastructure bill.


The President puts out a tweet bemoaning the loss of due process for white, wealthy men accused of domestic abuse and assault. This twitter author reproduces the full-page ad encouraging the execution of the Central Park Five, five innocent men wrongly accused of a brutal rape that one Donald J. Trump put into the paper. More details on that case.


The second part to this blog post is infuriating as it relates to austerity/government spending and urgent, real-life priorities. The particular subject here is security clearances.


President says he can't release Democratic response to the Nunes memo without unspecified revisions. Democrats will work with Justice Department to find out what President's concerns are.


Aww, man! House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is so badass! Love it! She speaks, gets interrupted and grins "Touched a nerve there, I hear." Ha, ha, ha!


*Sigh* The President's briefers just can't win for losing. They realize they have to simplify the briefings so he gets them, but "at times, Trump has been dismissive of his briefers. He has shaken his head, frowned and complained that the briefers were 'talking down to him,' this person said."


For a person to say "I'm not fit to shine such-and-such a person's shoes. He exists on a plane far above us mere mortals," is fine. But he has no business saying that other people are on that same humble plane as he is. Steve Cortes has absolutely zero business saying that neither Joan Walsh nor Erin Burnet can criticize White House Chief of Staff Kelly. Kelly clearly failed in a big way and should be fired for it.


'Fraid to say I'm completely on the same page as Krugman here. I thought presidential candidate Ronald Reagan was making a lot of really wild claims during 1980 and concluded very quickly after he was president that this whole "fiscal hawk" stuff was a cover for being against Democrats spending money in ways that helped the non-wealthy.


Kind of interesting that Speaker Paul Ryan would wax poetic over a "bipartisan, bicameral super committee aimed at advancing real reforms to fix our broken budget process," because in the immediately preceding tweet, he put out five priorities, 1. Is okay, but not obviously needed, 2. Is very much needed, 3. Isn't particularly important. 4 & 5 are totally one-sided, partisan goals.


So Kellyanne Conway, a pollster, is running the Trump Administration's effort against opioids, essentially just replicating the work of the "Drug Czar," whose budget is being slashed for no apparent reason. Oh, and "Andrew Giuliani, Rudy Giuliani’s 32-year-old son, who is a White House public liaison and has no background in drug policy," whose main achievement in life has been in the area of golfing, is one of Conway's major assistants.


How poorly has the White House handled the Rob Porter wife abuser scandal? Judging by Amanda Carpenter's reaction here, pretty poorly!

Rob Porter, who served until Wednesday as White House Staff Secretary, did not have a full security clearance, a fact that it's difficult to believe White House Chief of Staff Kelly wasn't aware of. It's equally hard to credit the idea that Kelly was unaware of the specific reason Porter didn't have a clearance, that is, the allegations made against him by two ex-wives.


Yep. back in the past, once upon a time, deficits were a big, important thing.


Wow. Our Attorney General's plan sounds about as useful as Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" program was (To be fair to the former FLOTUS, her program was designed for children and was never intended for adults).


This is pretty amazing and saddening. Our Secretary of State admits that Russia is hacking our elections software. When asked what we're doing about that, throws up his hands and says we can't do anything. He's given some stern warnings, but appears to know his warnings will have no effect. Piece has link to correspondent with plenty of things we can do.


Oh good grief! The wannabe dictator, our President, wants a parade

Aww, man-n-n-n! Shep Smith of Fox News is just having way too much fun with the President's idea of having a big military parade. 

Hmm, priorities, priorities. How to decide?

Estimated cost of Trump's military parade: $17.2 million 

Cost to provide housing for every homeless veteran in America (40,000): $24.7 million


Military Times ran a poll. 51,000 respondents answered. 89% oppose a military parade.

The President says: "We are not getting support of the Democrats.” Well, it would kinda help if the Trump Administration could speak with any consistency on what it is they all want. As it is, it appears to just be a complete cluster****. How does the administration feel about DACA? About a government shutdowm? Depends on who you ask


Speaker Ryan says that the Nunes memo is all about the abuse of FISA, which I presumes means spying improperly on domestic opponents. Regardless of what one thinks of FISA, the memo provides zero evidence that the act been abused.


Representative Collins draws what we call a "distinction without a difference." Democrats "didn't applaud Trump" but Republicans were "not overreacting." 


With ISIS having been more or less eliminated in Syria a month or so ago, after having been eliminated in Iraq earlier, it's far from clear what the mission of US troops is in Syria now.


For the GOP to have released the Nunes memo, obviously for political gain, could have serious long-term consequences.


CDC is seriously short on funding. I guess the Trump Administration is just so nostalgic for the flu epidemic of 1918 and the ebola outbreak of 2014, they're figuring "Hey, let's have more of those!"


Eek! Dow is down 1,175 points! Hmm, Janet Yellen was just denied a second term as Federal Reserve Chairperson. And hey, as long as we're talking about the economy being down, "Top 5 Economic Disappointments of the Trump Regime (so far)."


Federally-funded health centers are not being funded at the moment and are under financial pressure. That has an impact on the abortion debate.


"Donald Trump Attacks Democrats Not Clapping At State Of The Union As 'Treasonous'." The President allows his authoritarian flag to fly. Funny how Republicans consistently sat on their hands during Obama's speeches, consistently showed a lack of enthusiasm, but the president at that time never described them as "treasonous" or of not loving America.

Why didn't the RNC pay for the President's trip to Cincinnati? After all, it was a highly political speech! There was barely a pretense of it being anything other than entirely political. Why did American taxpayers pay for it?


"House panel clears release of Democrats’ rebuttal to GOP memo, forcing showdown with Trump."
Very cool! Kudos to the House Republicans on the Intelligence Committee as the Democratic memo was unanimously cleared. Now we'll see if the President has the cojones to sign it.


Yeah, back during October, our President was very eager to take credit for the state of the stock market. Today? Ehhh, not so much. The market's gone down even further since the above piece came out. 


The Pentagon has a lot of problems joining the rest of the Trump Administration in denying climate change as many bases are imperiled by things like seawater rise and extreme weather.


Freedom is a popular thing everywhere! Iranian women speak out against the forced wearing of the hijab. They don't have a problem with themselves or anyone else wearing it voluntarily, of course.


Wow! This guy would get an award from an authoritarian leader! Faced with the crystal clear evidence that the current level of black unemployment has little or nothing to do with the current occupant of the Oval Office, this Trump adviser nevertheless soldiers on and says a bunch of stupid stuff.


Several days after the Nunes memo is released, AG Sessons weighs in. Very little and very late.

Donald Trump Jr. here continues to show just how narrow and constricted his social contacts and news sources are. "Trump Jr.: Nunes Memo Release Is 'A Little Bit Of Sweet Revenge'."


Good! A really seriously fringe extremist was rejected for an environmental post. "But Buchele says Hartnett White told him years before that 'she supported regulations, just not at the expense of growth and that industry is actually essential to a healthy environment.'"
Hmm. Yeah, when she claims to support regulations, but "not at the expense of growth," that doesn't sound as though she supports much regulation at all.


Uma Thurman comes out with allegations that track well with other allegations made against Harvey Weinstein.
Quentin Tarantino is not accused of any sexual improprieties but he apparently acted without any due regard for Thurman's safety when filming a scene.


"Young US Jews Write 700 Letters of Solidarity to Ahed Tamimi." The letters were to celebrate her 17th birthday.


President is absolutely convinced tha Nunes memo "totally vindicates" him. It of course does no such thing.


Speaker Paul Ryan claimed that $1.50 a week bump was a significant and worthwhile consequence of the big tax bill they passed in December. Mockery was so fierce, he quickly deleted the tweet. 


Carter Page was the main subject of the Nunes memo, the fellow that the surveillance and the FISA warrant was all about. Did the warrant rely on the Steele Dossier? Uh, no. Surveillance of Page began in 2013, many years prior to the dossier.


Passed on by an FB friend who lives in China. Living in China means he knows propaganda and he feels this ("China is building a laser 10 trillion times more intense than the Sun that could tear space apart." from Fox News, of course) is one of the most ridiculous propaganda pieces around. Keep in mind when you read this hysterical, overheated piece that a laser is simply light passed through a liquid, a crystal or a gas that then amplifies it in some way.

BTW, my friend feels the really serious and worthwhile news from China is that they've made huge progress in air quality. When he arrived in 2011, the coal smog was a really serious health hazard and they've done quite a bit to clean it up.


I lasted about a minute into Sean Hannity's "case" that FISA had been abused before I heard so many errors/misstatements I had to turn to something else. If you want to tune in, I recommend reading the real facts here on the Nunes memo first.

Update: Think Progress puts out a detailed fact check. Distressingly, his audience is four million, just about all of whom are probably pointing to his monologue and saying "See? Here are the real facts!"


The tax cut passed in December by the Republican Party is draining the coffers faster than expected.


Young Turks discuss the just-released Nunes memo. Huh! Didn't know Francesca Fiorentini was a member of that group. Cool that she is, though.

Some Republicans deeply impressed with the Nunes memo. Others, including Representative Trey Gowdy, who was about the only member of Congress that read all of the underlying, background material, were considerably less impressed.

The central claim of the Nunes memo is that the FISA process was abused. Problem is that neither Representatives Trey Gowdy nor Adam Schiff agreed with Nunes on that. Nunes is desperately trying to make his actions appear far more reasonable then they actually were. It was wildly irresponsible for Nunes to make the claims he did.

Wow! When Ex-Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez has "no confidence" in the Nunes memo, that's saying something! More criticisms of the memo here, here and here.


"Trump clears way for release of the memo over objections of FBI, DOJ and Democrats."
Shortly after the Women's March, a friend asked another (words to the effect of) "Why? Why do people not Love Our Glorious Leader?" To which I'd answer that we know Fox News was at least as critical of Obama as the traditional mainstream press has been of Trump. There haven't been any financial or foreign policy disasters over the past year. Yet according to Gallup (They've been conducting daily approval polls of the president since Harry Truman) Obama never got below a 40% approval rating and Trump has been at 40% or below since June of last year. The answer, I believe, is illustrated in this piece, where the President acts as a tinpot, Third World dictator of a banana republic and demonstrates zero concern for the rule of law.

Update: President takes comfort from an obviously outlier of a poll that puts him at 49% approval.


So it only took a single phone call to persuade the President that drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was a good idea. It obviously never occurred to him to ask "Why have people been opposing drilling in ANWR all these years?"


Before it decided to release the Nunes memo, the House Intelligence Committee took partisan, party-line vote after vote. This was despite the fact that the White House was inceasingly concerned that the memo might be a dud. Speaker Ryan is asked about the memo and immediately change the subject to tax cuts


"The Fascist underpinnings of Trump’s State of the Union."
Our blogger reviews the SOTU and is considerably less than impressed. Piece includes Young Turks clip. 


Rachel Maddow did a piece on this last night (Jan 31). Three Russian spy chiefs arrive in Washington DC and we have to learn about it from Russian media. We never heard anything from the American government on this.


Eric Trump always just reminds me of the very limited and constricted social circles he spends time in. He speaks of liberals and Democrats as though they were alien creatures who lived on a far-off planet. He obviously doesn't know any personally. He says Democrats were terrible and unpatriotic and obviously didn't love America or Jesus because they didn't stand and cheer for his dad often enough.  

MSNBC's Chuck Todd is his usual unhelpful self here, drawing a false equivalence between Democrats and Republicans not standing and cheering for the other Presidents' SOTU. 


January                      back to top


"Trump Didn’t Bother to Say What Happened to the Birth Mother in His Police Adoption Anecdote."
We see in a photo the First Lady, the heroic and generous police officer and the officer's wife with the baby of the woman who had drug and legal problems. Where is that last person? Nowhere in the picture, not named and the President couldn't be bothered to explain how she was doing.


Hmm "Fitzgerald, who is 71, declined to explain to Politico why she purchased thousands of dollars of Big Tobacco stocks after assuming leadership of the CDC on July 7." Sounds to me like someone had some inside iformation


Wow! Just ... wow! About the Nunes Memo, the document that not all of the intelligence agencies have been able to review or who have just had a brief time to look at, this has to be the most wildly, incredibly irresponsible statement from White House Chief of Staff John Kelly: "I'll let all the experts decide that when it's released. This president wants everything out so the American people can make up their own minds." Main problem the piece identifies is that the Nunes Memo presents information without context or explanation. Naturally, of course, the GOP hasn't cleared the Democratic rebuttal memo for release.


Hmm, interesting. Representative Jason Chaffetz quits and now Reprentative Trey Gowdy announces his retrirement. Chaffetz was head of the Oversight Committe, just as Gowdy is now.


The President said a few good things in his first SOTU regarding national unity. We don't even need to look for examples outside this particular speech to see how hollow and empty those statements were. Problem is, his idea of "unity" seems to be the crowds at his own campaign rallies or of a Nuremberg rally in the 1930s, Nothing that an American would recognize as real unity.


Wow! Yeah, statements like “I don’t think anyone can argue it is probably one of the most successful first years in office,” and an assertion that the President “has some wind at his back,” are just stunningly out-of-touch! I'd say Trump's first year is a lot like the younger George Bush's last three years, he's disliked by pretty much everyone outside the hard-core right wing and can't get much through Congress.


How Rs & Ds feel about the other party's presidents during bad times is similar. Percentage of Republicans who said Clinton provided poor moral leadership in 1999 was 91%. Percentage of Democrats who say the same about Trump today is 96%. The real difference is between how they felt about their own respective presidents at the time. "After the Lewinsky scandal, 65% of Democrats disapproved of Bill Clinton’s morality. Today, just 16% of Republicans say Donald Trump doesn’t provide moral leadership."


In advance of the State of the Union (SOTU) Address, what's the real state of the union?


Slovenia is now the second country after Sweden to recognize Palestine as a state. Our FLOTUS is a Slovenian.


UN Ambassador Nikki Haley is trying really, really hard to convince people that Iran launched or provided some missiles that were aimed at targets in Saudi Arabia. As the piece here points out, it's far from clear which country manufactured the missiles. As a group examined the missiles earlier, they asked when the missiles were launched. If they were launched before the agreement with Iran was signed, then they're completely irrelevant. Those presenting the missiles had no idea when they were launched.


The Trump Administration wants to release the Nunes memo in the name of "transparency." The institutions named in the memo haven't been able to review it and so have opposed its release. This is hardly an administration that can credibly talk of transparency.


Very happy to see at least one member in the mainstream press admitting that he was guilty of drawing a false equivalence between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in 2016. 
Also nice to see that Maureen Down, who played a "Mean Girl" to President Obama also now sees the light and that Obama was a good president. 


Really stupid piece on how nuclear wars can be won and that our hugely excessive number of nuclear weapons serves any purpose beyond fattening the wallets of arms contractors. 


Good thinkpiece on how our intelligence agencies and media and technology people can protect the 2018 midterm elections.


Bwah-hah-hah!!! Of course former Press Secretart Sean Spicer regrets working for the Trump Administration! He totally surrendered any integrity he had. That's why no one will hire him and why Sarah Huckabee Sanders won't ever get hired either. That's the fate that waits for lots of Trump people and why no one is on deck to replace them.


Very disturing to see far-right supporters of the President calling for the deaths of political opponents.


Saturday Night Live's Will Farrell brought up a very good point. Yes, the younger George Bush was a better president than Donald Trump is, but only by comparison. Bush was an absolutely awful president.


Our President was asked about global warming. He doesn't appear to be any better informed on that than he is about much of anything else. No one knows where he got this: “The ice caps were going to melt, they were going to be gone by now, but now they’re setting records.”


Here's the problem with living in glass houses and throwing stones. Many GOP members were eager to condemn Democrats in October as the sexual harasser Harvey Weinstein had been a generous donor to the Democratic Party. Democrats agreed and condemned him and returned his contributions. Now, the casino mogul Steve Wynn played a far more central role to the Republican Party and his scandalous behavior towards women is at least equally egregious. Unlike Weinstein, who was just a movie producer, Wynn was the Finance Chairman of the Republican National Committee. So Wynn is quite a bit more embarrassing to the Republican Party than Weinstein was to the Democrats. So the Republican silence and very unenlightening statements on Wynn are quite notable. 

Update: RNC's disposal of Wynn's money.


"Entire board of USA Gymnastics resigns after enabling Nassar abuse. USAG received early reports of Nassar's abuse, but dragged its feet to take any action."
Good! There wasn't enough sense of either shame or duty sufficient to have protected the gymnasts, but there was at least enough to see to it that enablers quit their posts.


"Donald Trump's mouth has cost U.S. 40,000 jobs and $4.6 billion in lost tourism." This was a concern back when President Trump's first attempted to put travel bans into place. This is one of the many reasons why the economy will decline during this administration.


Despite our President being stubbornly retrogressive, most of the world's businesses are seeing the light and are moving towards renewable energy.


Big gulf between the parties. A few months after Trump became the President, Democrats gave the "moral and ethical climate" of this country a 37, Republicans gave it a 22. Currently, Democrats rate it as 23 and Republicans as 31. Republican approval is now up to where it was in 2008, right before Obama became President.


Got a letter from Senator Toomey (R-PA) where he commented on President Obama and DACA: 

To the contrary, the Constitution requires the President to enforce the law. President Obama simply did not have the legal authority to create the DACA program and to ignore enforcement of existing immigration law. In fact, he said on numerous occasions before he created DACA that it would be unlawful and contrary to the Constitution for him to create such a program through executive action.

Problem is, Obama never agreed that he was breaking the law. "In contrast, he emphasized his authority to set priorities until Congress approved the DREAM Act, a measure that would formalize the legal status of this group of immigrants."


CNN's Kaitlan Collins has a very clear, simple, straightforward message for older male bosses who might be thinking of dating their younger female subordinates. "Don't." Your female subordinates have no romantic or sexual interest in you. If females want to chase you, they'll do so at cocktail parties or other social events, they won't use the workplace to catch your eye. 


Iraq is cleared of ISIS, so US forces have no one to fight any longer. Syria is split between US-backed Kurds, Turkey and the central government of Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russia and Iran. US forces can keep backing the Kurds, as long as the fight doesn't get very big. This now resembles Angola in 1975. The US and South Africa had troops inside Angola prior to Angola's independence. Problem was, Cuba flooded Angola with troops and the US didn't have any sort of popular mandate with the American people to defend Angola with. Similarly, the US can maintain some support for the Kurds in Syria, but only until our opponents there get really serious. 


TPP has lots of flaws and problems, I and many other progressives agree. Problem is, when an administration can't come up with a meaningful alternative, their opinion just becomes "The world just moves on without us." 


Fox News commenter Sean Hannity delivers comedy gold. Sayng roughly "We've got a scandal!"
"Oops, uh, no we don't."
"Hey, check out this high-speed auto chase!" All within a half-hour. 

So what was Hannity so excitable about? Ptresident Trump demonstrated that the meaning of the term "fake news" is quite clear. It's news that makes the President look bad, news he doesn't like. The term says absolutely nothing whatsoever about how accurate the item really is. The news in this case was that he tried to fire Robert Mueller a few months ago. 

Good summary of all of the "Secret Society" nonsense.


The answers that Press Secretary Sanders gives to the latest mass shooting are a mess because even though the Trump Administration, Republican Senators and Representatives and conservative media commentators all shouted in unison in October that "It's too soon after horrific shootings to discuss practical, legislative answers to gun violence!" What they all really meant was "We have no intention of ever discussing practical, legislative answers to gun violence!"


"American democracy is failing. The courts are finally starting to notice."
Very encouraging signs, but after a "lost decade," lots and lots of work to do. We'll probably need a Constitutional Convention to set things right.


A Republican Senator makes a truly incredble claim.  The claim is that there is a "Secret Society" within the FBI. Even the Fox News announcer is leery of this claim.

Representative Charlie Dent (R-PA) is amazed he even has to address this "secret society" nonsense.


"Lara Trump Says Women Are Too Stupid To Know Why They Are Marching."
Lara Trump asks "Why/ Why don't the people Love Our Glorious Leader (Donald Trump, her father-in-law)?!?!?! I wrote a blog post on that. 


"Schumer takes Trump's border-wall funding off the table."
So by pushing for everything the Trump Administration got nothing. They upped the ante so much, they blew the deal. Good for Minority Leader Schumer!


Sad to say, I completely agree with this

It’s the 20th anniversary of the Great Penis Hunt of 1998. This happens to be when modern American political journalism went into a very bad tailspin out of which it has not yet recovered.


Nope. Sorry. Wrong answer. No, President Trump doesn't get a "mulligan" (golf term meaning "do-over") for cheating on his wife with a porn star. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. If Clinton was an evil, horrible, terrible person for cheating on his wife, then Trump is at least as much so. 

Yeah, I completely agree with Michael Steele. Evangelists have zero business talking about any sort of moral superiority on their part. 

Hmm, nope. Not buying it. I don't agree with Evamgalists see that Donald Trump has changed in any significant way.


The Republican Party thought the achievements of Obama would be easily swept away. Obama's achievements have been amazingly durable.


This sounds pretty reasonable as a missio for US forces in Syria:  "Green said the civilian mission was not to rebuild but to help civilians return home by clearing roadside bombs, and restoring water and electricity." But I'm very wary about this: "US forces in Syria have already faced direct threats from Syrian and Iranian-backed forces, leading to the shoot-down of Iranian drones and a Syrian jet last year, as well as to tensions with Russia."
This sounds to me like the compromised, half-in, half-out strategy that the US was using in Vietnam and has tried without much success in various places since then.


The Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) is perhaps the most highly classified regularly-distributed document that the government has. Jared Kushner gets a copy every day. Kushner does not have a top-secret security clearance! Fun fact: Obama had a total of seven officials cleared to see his PDBs at the end of eight years in office. Trump already has 14 people on that distribution list!


Glenn Greenwald's done a lot of good investigative work, but I agree with Southpaw, I care very deeply about foreign powers mucking around in our elections.


Seems to me that Nixon tried the "Madman Theory" of foreign relations and the American public was much more frightened by it than our adversaries were. So if this "Poll: Almost half of voters question Trump's mental stability" is some deliberate plot by our President, it isn't working.


Hmm. So Ivanka Trump is in the process of "Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic," by trying to get White House Chieff of Staff John Kelly fired. I'm hard-pressed to get too excitable about this. Yes, it would be this White House's third Chief of Staff in a little bit over a year, but Kelly's hasn't exactly been doing a good job. The President's tweets and announcements are as undisciplined as ever and Kelly has revealed some seriously archaic beliefs. So I'm like "Ehh."


In the now-disbanded Voter Integrity Commission, we now have documents saying they were trying to tag all voters with Hispanic surnames, at least for Texas and fortunately, those records were never turned over!


VP Mike Pence encourages Palestinians to return to the peace talks with Israel. But according to the Palestinians, that isn't going to happen. "Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said Pence’s speech on Monday 'has proven that the U.S. administration is part of the problem rather than the solution.'”
Pence also said discouraging things about peace with Iran.


Lots of arguments against and a link to a Vox piece arguing for the Democratic strategy on shutdown ending today. Dunno, I think Democrats came out ahead today. 


"WH releases photos of Trump working through shutdown." Yeah, if I were the PR guy here, I would not have approved this photo. We know that the President is anxious to get to Mar-a-Lago and then Davos so he can hobnob with his wealthy buddies. So a picture of him wearing a hat and jacket without a tie  tells us that he's just wrapping up a few quick details before hopping onto the helicopter and getting out of town. The photo does not give the impression of "I'm working hard for the American people!" As an FB buddy pointed out: "empty desk: no computer, no folders filled with background material. A completely staged picture that shows he does nothing."


This is especially worrying about the shutdown. Foreigners are watching how the Trump Administration negotiates and they have no reason to feel confident that any agreement they reach will be honored.

Also, it doesn't sound as though the Republican Party is in any hurry to end the shutdown."[Senate Minority Leader Chuck] Schumer: White House Hasn't Called Me To Negotiate Gov't Shutdown."


Poor Senator Flake got hit from the left and the right for his comment that President Trump's language dangerously resembles that of Josef Stalin. Lefties were unimpressed because Flake isn't following up his rhetoric with actions like voting with Democrats. Right-wingers like Howard Kurtz have to be really obtuse and needs to pretend to be ignorant in order to criticize Flake.


Women's March in Philadelphia. I'd say we had about 1/5th fewer people this year. We could move around more freely. Not quite as jammed up. 

Update: Sunday shows barely mentioned the march.


Oh, and while the President is sad that he's missing his inauguration anniversary party due to the government shutdown, things aren't going all that well overseas. "Russia accuses US of destabilizing Syria with Kurdish-Turkish Clash."


The amusing thing about Hannity's rant here is: Since when is it the responsibility of prosecutors and investigators to be objective?!?!?! Jury members, at the beginning of a trial, should be objective. Judges should be objective from the beginning to the end. No one else in the judicial process has any objectivity requirement. Also, people can separate their own personal feelings from the facts of the case.


"Yeesh! Why are the libs so critical of Our Glorious Leader for playing golf so much?"
Well, here ya go! Because our President has spent so much time on the links and not enough in the office, "Of the roughly 130 federal office and agencies that have to have shutdown contingency plans, 66 of them haven’t been updated since 2015."


What's the situation that led to the shutdown

It's been 112 days since CHIP expired, 112 days since the fiscal year ended without a budget, and 137 days since Trump revoked DACA. The #TrumpShutdown could have been avoided if Republicans simply did their job last fall instead of waiting until the last minute.


And the "Trump Shutdown" commences. Heh! "Trump Shutdown" trending worldwide on Twitter. Got a few people on Facebook trying to tag is as "Schumer Shutdown." Sorry guys! No one is blaming Democrats!


Excellent piece by an anti-choicer. Yes, I do see her movement as one that "only cares about an unborn child until he or she exits the womb," and the author is right that having the very highly divisive President Trump as a speaker does absolutely nothing to convince people that the movement cares about women as opposed to just their babies.


*Sigh* Yeah, looks like we'll have a shutdown. Caught someone on TV saying "Democrats are simply not going to put up with policy being made by Stephen Miller and Tom Cotton."


Republicans threatened on the 19th, to release what later became known as the "Nunes memo." Some guy on the Fox News Sean Hannity show said it would release a “tsunami of information” exposing “Obama/ Clinton/ Deep State scandals.” My reaction was

Oh, Hell YES! Release it all! Release it all NOW! Wonder why we haven't heard anything more about the recently reopened Uranium One "scandal?" That's because it was a nothingburger. My very strong suspicion is that we'll see the same here.

Update (Feb 2): Yep, the memo was a complete bust. Absolutely chock-full of lies and information that didn't prove anything. Many Republicans disagreed that it said anything meaningful.


"Trump delays latest golf trip to Florida—at least until tomorrow—as Republican shutdown looms."
In response to one of my posts lately, I got lots and lots of comments! One of the commenters wondered why "libs make fun of Trump for his golfing." My answer was 

No, we don't make fun of him. We regard his grossly excessive golfing as Dereliction of Duty. There are many issues he hasn't taken the time to understand. There are many government positions where there is no nominee. He's blowing off tasks that need doing.


Colleen Rowley and the Veterans for Peace put out a meme stating that the US has refused offers from North Korea for peace. US News and World Report confirmed that in September. On the face of it, the North Korean proposal, a "Freeze for a Freeze" sounds pretty reasonable. Cancel military exercises where the US and South Korea pretend to invade the North in return for North Korea standing down its nuclear program. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said: "When a rogue regime has a nuclear weapon and an [intercontinental ballistic missile] pointed at you, you do not take steps to lower your guard." 
"Lower [our] guard"?!?!?! That seems a pretty hysterical, overheated way of regarding the question. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the White House was looking at "aggressive measures, both diplomatically [and] economically. As we've said, all options are on the table." If canceling provocative military exercises are out of the question, it's difficult to imagine what options are on the table!


Rachel Maddow reveals through a report on Fusion GPS just how the Russians have moved money to Donald Trump and subordinates. Essentially, they just overpay for properties.


Rather, erm, eh, interesting view of civil rights here! The Trump Administration believes it's a "civil right" for bigots to not have to provide medical services to people they feel are morally unworthy. Yes, this is a very, very dangerous principle to put into law.


Hee, hee, hee! Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie tries to use the VIP gate at the airport so he can fly back home. Airport people say "Nope!" He's gotta use the regular person's gate. Story features photo of him looking really cross.


This is extremely bad. The majority of the board that advised the Interior Department resigned because, after about a year on the job, they were simply being ignored. Secretary Ryan Zinke just didn't care to consult them at all. This is no way to run a government.


The "Stormy Daniels" is titillating, but the financial aspect is important. A very big and important question is where the pay-off money came from. What account, from whose pocket was it taken? Doesn't sound like an isolated event, either.


"House Spending Bill Changes Law To Let Trump Administration Secretly Shift Intelligence Money."
Oh, good grief! There's so little oversight as it is! These guys feel that they need even less oversight?!?!?!


So the President finally put out his "Fake News" awards. First one is kind of a puzzle. A prediction from an economist that the stock market would "never recover" from Trump's election victory. I have a really hard time classifying an incorrect prediction as any sort of "fake" or "false" or "dishonest" news. I don't think that really fits the definition. There's no dishonesty in being wrong. The "awards" that follow are similarly underwhelming.

Update: Not surprisingly, the President's "Fake News Awards" suffered from a severe lack of work, time, effort, truth and relevance. They were a "healhearted flop." 


Early in President Obama's term, he got the P5+1 powers to impose sanction on Iran. Iran finally said "Uncle!" and sat down to a serious negotiation which lead to the nuclear deal. Is President Trump's approach to DACA similar? Yeah, a bit. He blew up DACA and then waited for Democrats to offer concession on it. The problem? As Senate Majority Leader McConnell says: "I am looking for something that President Trump supports..."  In other words, if the President had any sort of coherent plan to follow up his taking apart DACA with, he might have made something other than a mess.


Very bad staffing news. The Trump Administration has no one waiting to fill positions after the current people get burned out and quit. For people to burn out while working for the president is very common and goes back several decades, but the lack of people to replace them is a new problem. 


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau spent several years trying to carefully balance the interests of all of the stakeholders in the predatory "payday lending" industry. Under direct control from the Trump Administration, the CFPB has said words to the effect of: "Ah, screw that! Screw the consumer! It's the lenders and only the lenders that are important!"


The US is trying to create a 30,000 strong police force in Northern Syria. From Ankara,Turkey to Moscow, Russia, this is a highly unpopular move .


Problem with being a bigly unpopular US president who has a lot of foreign properties is that Trump's finances are taking a major clobbering!

Absolutely unacceptable! As of Day 113 of after Hurricane Maria, over 1.3 million in Puerto Rico are still without electricity. As Vox points out, Puerto Rico's power grid was in very poor shape before the hurricane, making recovery doubly difficult. 


Bristol Palin (Daughter of Sarah) makes a comment: "If Donald Trump were still just a regular old billionaire and threw a party at Trump Tower in New York City, celebrties would be lined up out the door." Dinesh D'Souza quotes her and responds: "Bristol Palin seems so much smarter than her horse-faced counterpart Chelsea Clinton."
It's difficult to see how Palin's statement qualifies as more than an elementary school-level comment. It's even less apparent that D'Souza is any sort of intellectual. 

Update: D'Souza makes an entirely accurate comment about Democrats and racism and the Southern "one-drop rule" versus the Nazi rule of who constituted a Jew. Of course, in emphasizing that he's referring to Democrats, he's ignoring that Democrats and Republicans, between the presidencies of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, essentially switched places between being the parties of racism and equality. 


So apparently, the problem with that fellow in the White House is that he's a vague and confused old man, uninterested in policy details and very easily manipulated by his subordinates. The really serious problem beyond that is that the hard-liners of the Freedom Caucus aren't the slightest bit interested in any deal that the rest of the country can support.


So first President Trump declares that the US Government will do something about opoids. It takes about 11 weeks to then produce a very underwhelming policy document. Then a wildly-under-qualified 24-year old person gets assigned to run the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Yep, situation normal, all effed up. Further details.


The move to open up the coast to oil drilling looking like a serious blunder.


See, here's the problem with President Trump's "fake news awards." We know for a fact, the Wall Street Journal had recordings, that he was quoted accurately, but he attacked them as "fake news" anyway. To the President "fake news" is simply news that he doesn't like


So when economic protests broke our in Iran, President Trump attempted to put himself and the US on the side of ordinary Iranians and against the Mullahs. How'd that work out? Ehh, not well. Problem is, Iranians are not the slightest bit convinced that the US is really on their side or cares the slightest bit about their concerns. 


Thoughts on President Trump and racism.


"Stormy Daniels" is the porn performer who slept with the President back in 2006 and got paid $130,000 to keep hushed up about it. Interesting thread about the financial/criminal implications of that.


Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was the head of the recently-disbanded Voter Integrity Commission. He created a lot of questions with his suggestion that the disbanding was purely for the purpose of frustrating Democratic attempts to force the Commission to be somewhat accountable. The Commission requested voter data from all 50 states. Some complied, some didn't and many did so partially. Kobach has now been forbidden to use that data under any circumstances.


Very interesting! The President sees the Mariel Boatlift of 1980 as the template for all migration from non-wealthy countries to the US. Of course, for Cuba to dump its population of criminals and people with mental problems onto Florida was a highly unusual one-off.
Of course, President Trump's disparaging the people of Haiti and praise for the people of Norway is a gift to US competitors and enemies.


"Trump administration offshore drilling move reeks of illegal political favoritism"
In light of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's statement that "Florida is obviously unique" as far as offshore drilling is concerned, Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) says: 

His decision reeks of improper political favoritism. It’s also illegal. By treating Florida differently than other similarly situated states, Zinke’s planned program will likely be struck down by the courts and demonstrates that his decision-making is an abuse of discretion, and is arbitrary and capricious. There is no legal standard that would appear to allow his decision to stand.


Excellent commentary from MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace, a former Bush Administration Republican, on the Presidet's "shuthole" comment. President Trump's words aren't just anti-liberal, they're anti-American!

And yeah, I agree with whoever this other person was:

More from today’s “sh*thole” mtg: Trump said, “Why do we need more Haitians, take them out,” according to our sources. Someone else in room responded: “Because if you do, it will be obvious why."


"Walmart quietly lays off thousands of workers after bonus announcement" Um, isn't that the exact opposute of what Republicans said would happen after they rammed their tax plan through Congress? Can we blame Walmart for its action? Eh, ya bring a picnic lunch out into the woods, realize you forgot napkins, go back to the car, return and some bear is eating your lunch. Is it the bear's fault or is the bear just being a bear? The real problem is that the Republican Party is alleged to have thought that tax cuts would cause companies to keep people employed.


Presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway and CNN's Chris Cuomo demonstrate fundamentally different approaches to combatting bad speech. Conway and her boss President Trump want to "look at the libel laws." Cuomo argues for the compettion of ideas, for American ideals to be carried out in real time. 

Also, Kellyanne Conway says that the declaration that the US will move their Israel Embassy to Jerusalem was an "accomplishment." It was a unilateral move made without any coordination with Middle East countries or with the Democratic Party. The Republican Party just said "Oh, okay." and went back to sleep. Most of the world voted against us in reaction. Hard to see how this counts as an accomplishment.


Two people message each other and one of them expresses concern that Trump might win the 2016 election. President Trump considers his comment to be "treason."

Problem with being a bigly unpopular US president who has a lot of foreign properties is that Trump's finances are taking a major clobbering!


Absolutely unacceptable! As of Day 113 of after Hurricane Maria, over 1.3 million in Puerto Rico are still without electricity. As Vox points out, Puerto Rico's power grid was in very poor shape before the hurricane, making recovery doubly difficult. 


Bristol Palin (Daughter of Sarah) makes a comment: "If Donald Trump were still just a regular old billionaire and threw a party at Trump Tower in New York City, celebrties would be lined up out the door." Dinesh D'Souza quotes her and responds: "Bristol Palin seems so much smarter than her horse-faced counterpart Chelsea Clinton."
It's difficult to see how Palin's statement qualifies as more than an elementary school-level comment. It's even less apparent that D'Souza is any sort of intellectual. 

Update: D'Souza makes an entirely accurate comment about Democrats and racism and the Southern "one-drop rule" versus the Nazi rule of who constituted a Jew. Of course, in emphasizing that he's referring to Democrats, he's ignoring that Democrats and Republicans, between the presidencies of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, essentially switched places between being the parties of racism and equality. 


So apparently, the problem with that fellow in the White House is that he's a vague and confused old man, uninterested in policy details and very easily manipulated by his subordinates. The really serious problem beyond that is that the hard-liners of the Freedom Caucus aren't the slightest bit interested in any deal that the rest of the country can support.


So first President Trump declares that the US Government will do something about opoids. It takes about 11 weeks to then produce a very underwhelming policy document. Then a wildly-under-qualified 24-year old person gets assigned to run the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Yep, situation normal, all effed up. Further details.


The move to open up the coast to oil drilling looking like a serious blunder.


See, here's the problem with President Trump's "fake news awards." We know for a fact, the Wall Street Journal had recordings, that he was quoted accurately, but he attacked them as "fake news" anyway. To the President "fake news" is simply news that he doesn't like


So when economic protests broke our in Iran, President Trump attempted to put himself and the US on the side of ordinary Iranians and against the Mullahs. How'd that work out? Ehh, not well. Problem is, Iranians are not the slightest bit convinced that the US is really on their side or cares the slightest bit about their concerns. 


Thoughts on President Trump and racism.


"Stormy Daniels" is the porn performer who slept with the President back in 2006 and got paid $130,000 to keep hushed up about it. Interesting thread about the financial/criminal implications of that.


Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was the head of the recently-disbanded Voter Integrity Commission. He created a lot of questions with his suggestion that the disbanding was purely for the purpose of frustrating Democratic attempts to force the Commission to be somewhat accountable. The Commission requested voter data from all 50 states. Some complied, some didn't and many did so partially. Kobach has now been forbidden to use that data under any circumstances.


Very interesting! The President sees the Mariel Boatlift of 1980 as the template for all migration from non-wealthy countries to the US. Of course, for Cuba to dump its population of criminals and people with mental problems onto Florida was a highly unusual one-off.
Of course, President Trump's disparaging the people of Haiti and praise for the people of Norway is a gift to US competitors and enemies.


"Trump administration offshore drilling move reeks of illegal political favoritism"
In light of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's statement that "Florida is obviously unique" as far as offshore drilling is concerned, Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) says: 

His decision reeks of improper political favoritism. It’s also illegal. By treating Florida differently than other similarly situated states, Zinke’s planned program will likely be struck down by the courts and demonstrates that his decision-making is an abuse of discretion, and is arbitrary and capricious. There is no legal standard that would appear to allow his decision to stand.


Excellent commentary from MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace, a former Bush Administration Republican, on the Presidet's "shuthole" comment. President Trump's words aren't just anti-liberal, they're anti-American!

And yeah, I agree with whoever this other person was:

More from today’s “sh*thole” mtg: Trump said, “Why do we need more Haitians, take them out,” according to our sources. Someone else in room responded: “Because if you do, it will be obvious why."


"Walmart quietly lays off thousands of workers after bonus announcement" Um, isn't that the exact opposute of what Republicans said would happen after they rammed their tax plan through Congress? Can we blame Walmart for its action? Eh, ya bring a picnic lunch out into the woods, realize you forgot napkins, go back to the car, return and some bear is eating your lunch. Is it the bear's fault or is the bear just being a bear? The real problem is that the Republican Party is alleged to have thought that tax cuts would cause companies to keep people employed.


Presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway and CNN's Chris Cuomo demonstrate fundamentally different approaches to combatting bad speech. Conway and her boss President Trump want to "look at the libel laws." Cuomo argues for the compettion of ideas, for American ideals to be carried out in real time. 

Also, Kellyanne Conway says that the declaration that the US will move their Israel Embassy to Jerusalem was an "accomplishment." It was a unilateral move made without any coordination with Middle East countries or with the Democratic Party. The Republican Party just said "Oh, okay." and went back to sleep. Most of the world voted against us in reaction. Hard to see how this counts as an accomplishment.


Two people message each other and one of them expresses concern that Trump might win the 2016 election. President Trump considers his comment to be "treason."


"after congressional lawmakers proposed reinstating protections for immigrants from" nations with largely non-white populations, the President asked: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

The President's staff felt this comment might help with Trump's base voters, so hey, no biggie!


So Sarah Huckabee Sanders "gaslights" a journalist (The bad guy turns down the lights and then says "What? No, it's not getting dark in here. You're imagining things again.") by telling the journalist that two completely contradictory tweets are in fact, perfectly consistent with each other.


If Ronald Reagan was the king of "magical thinking," then Oprah Winfrey was its queen. Yes, that means President Trump is very much a product of the landscape that Winfrey played a role in creating.


Hmm. Did candidate Donald Trump's apparent opposition to foreign adventurism ("America First") combined with Clinton's apparent willingness to continue with them contribute to her defeat in 2016?


President Trump lets his authoritarian flag fly, making it clear that, although he's not a dictator, he sure does want to be. Very disturbingly, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), gave a response that no one in such a position should ever give, suggesting he was eager to comply with the President's demand.


The NY Times betrays a pro-Trump bias by waits several paragraphs to deliver this line: "He did not lapse into incoherence but neither did he demonstrate mastery of policy details after a year in office." Think they call that "grading on a generous curve."


Representative John Lewis (D-GA) sponsored a bill to upgrade the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Happy to say the bill was signed into law. Does this prove that President Trump is not a racist? It's tempting to read too much into the signing, but I'd say Dr. King is a pretty safe, non-controversial, historical figure by this point.


There's an object about 3 billion light-years away (Milky Way Galaxy is 100,000 light-years across) that's throwing off magnetic bursts that last from 30 microseconds to 9 milliseconds. Each burst throws out as much power as our sun puts out in a day. If this object were in our galazy, we would definitely have known about it a long time ago. 


What a completely insane idea! "U.S. officials are mulling the possibility of launching a military strike against North Korean targets without provoking war on the Korean Peninsula." I hav absolutely zero confidence that such a strategy could ever work under any circumstances.


Working for the White House is a really tough, exhausting job under any president. Word that this particular WH is an absolutely horrible workplace along with this president being incapable of doing the job makes staffing an extremely serious problem.


President Trump tries to prove the Wolff Book "Fire & Fury" wrong by conducting an open meeting/debate on immigration. Politically, for him, the results were disastrous. It reminds me of Democrats trying to deal with Speaker of the House John Boehner in 2011. He was perfectly willing to make deals. He just couldn't deliver the votes of the Tea Party/Freedom Caucus people. It was a complete waste of time to talk with him. Same here. It's a complete waste of time to talk with the President because he can't deliver on his own vote as he can't seem to remember what his vote was ten minutes after he's cast it.

Heh! The very right-wing Ann Coulter gives us a very accurate assesssment of the meeting. 

By contrast, the moderate CNN panel is ridiculously over-impressed with what was clearly a doddering, vague president who didn't understand what was going on around him.


Good! Democrats have been calling for the release of the Fusion GPS interview, which Republicans have refused to do. Senator Feinstein did so over their objections and hey, whattaya know? There appear to be claims that the GOP has made that are inconsistent with the transcript! 

The following statement from Senator Grassley's office would have more impact if Fusian GPS hadn't requested that the transcript be released.

A Grassley spokesperson, in a statement, called Feinstein’s release of the transcript “confounding” and said her action “undermines the integrity of the committee’s oversight work and jeopardizes its ability to secure candid voluntary testimony relating to the independent recollections of future witnesses.”


Oh, Good Lord! This is completely insane! Absolute fascism! The Louisiana schoolteacher here asks a very good and very legitimate question and got manhandled and cuffed and dragged out of the building for it.


Whew! Good!!!

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) unanimously rejected Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s plan to raise consumer energy bills in order to subsidize coal and nuclear power plants — a major blow to the Trump administration’s effort to slow the growth of solar and wind power.

Ohio wants to purge voters from the rolls who haven't voted recently. Hard to see what legitimate purpose this would serve. My understanding of registering to vote is that after you've registered, you're on the rolls until some life change happens, like dying, being imprisoned or moving to another town/state/country.


Ivanka Trump gives Oprah's speech a "You go, girl!" endosement. Eh, if she gets criticized from the right wing, she'll retreat right off. 

Turns out that, in the Wolff Book "Fire & Fury," Steve Bannon attacked Don Jr. and Ivanka Trump. I agree that when Rush Limbaugh attacked the 13-year old Chelsea Clinton over the issue of her looks, that was disgusting. When Bannon criticizes Don Jr. and Ivanka, who are both in their 30s? Ehh, I don't blame our President for reacting strongly, a dad defending his kids is perfectly understandable. But I have a much harder time getting protective of grown-up White House children who both have children of their own.


In response to the report that President Trump shows up for work around 11:00am these days.

For comparison, George W. Bush was usually in the Oval by 7am. Obama had a morning workout routine, but he was in there by 8:30-9am according to reports. Both worked until 6pm or so. Obama often came back late at night. You know, it's a pretty demanding job. For most people.


Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is mightily impressed that Donald Trump prevailed against 17 fellow Republicans. To me, the fact that Trump ran against 17 Republicans and won doesn't tell me he's smart and talented. It tells me about the degraded and deplorable state of the Republican Party. The fact that he won against Clinton tells me about the headwinds that Clinton was battling, from media bias to foreign interference to a last-minute FBI intervention. And no, I'm still not convinced that there needs to be an investigation of the Steele dossier.


Wow! Having finally gotten around to watching the whole Stephen Miller trainwreck of an interview with Jake Tapper, I can easily see Stephen speaking at a basement meeting of fellow Brownshirts and waxing poetic about "Our Glorious Fuhrer."


Senate bill to reverse Trump Administration Net Neutrality decision gains 30th co-sponsor.


I was under the impression that the proposed move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem had blown any deal between Israel and the Palestinians to bits, but the news that Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner has extensive financial ties to Israeli banks and financial institutions should make any deal out of the question. 


So how's the big infrastructure plan going? Any ideas on how to both cut $1.5 trillion out of the budget in tax breaks for the wealthy and pony up $200 billion for infrastructure? Nah, of course not. 


Oprah Winfrey gives a really good speech at the Goden Globes Awards.


In response to the President's "Fake News Awards" being postponed

Translation: I'm incapable of managing even made-up imaginary bullshit that I designed entirely to make myself feel better. Even THAT was too much work for me. This is like a child delaying the opening of a fucking pretend tea party.


Schooling under President Trump. Classrooms in Baltimore are at 40 degrees. Not that he's to blame specifically, the problem goes back to "white flight," but I'll betcha he doesn't find time to address the problem in his twitter rants this morning or any other morning.


AT&T and Comcast not only got a big tax cut, they got the end of Net Neutrality. How have they rewarded the American people for the generosity of the Republican Party? "Companies that announced big bonuses after GOP tax cut are now laying off their workers"


Gotta love the headline here!
"Trump Insists He's A 'Very Stable Genius' In Unhinged Twitter Rant"
Um..."the Fake News Mainstream Media, are taking out the old Ronald Reagan playbook and screaming mental stability and intelligence....."
Yeah, erm, Reagan had Alzheimer's and we saw signs of that in response to Iran-Contra.


Kinda depressing that the "War on Pot" seems to be about the only thing Rs & Ds agree on these days, but yes, the news on that is good. Neithe party has any use for Attorney General Sessions' "War." 


No, I disagree with the Fox News "comedian" Greg Gutfeld. I don't think the Wolff "Fire & Fury" book humanizes President Trump, that any amateur would produce the same horrific results that he has. Trump's style is to tear people apart and to divide them and to have everybody at each other's throats. He's not just "everybody's uncle."

President demonstrates his confidence that the Wolff book is "Fake News" by runnning away from reporters who try to ask questions about it.


It's good to see the phrase "open secret" redefined as "Well, why didn't you do anything about it?" As the Hollywood Reporter observes "they all—100 percent—came to believe [President Trump] was incapable of functioning in his job." So the real and important question the book raises is "Why has the Republican Party failed to act?"


The Obama Administration started easing marijuana regulations back in 2013. If having pot legalized was causing any problems, there has been plenty of time for anti-pot partisans to gather those facts and the current AG has had a year to present them. Attorney General Sessions clearly doesn't have any such facts, else he'd have presented them. Public opinion agrees with the last President, so it's pretty obvious that Sessions is reversing the last administration's pot policy purely and entirely due to his own personal belief.

Heh! Those who supported the Confederacy both during and after its existence used "State's Rights" as a major justification, so it's sweetly delicious to see pro-pot Republican senators use state's rights against AG Sessions here.

How did marijuana become illegal in the first place? An explainer.


*Sigh* Again with that marvelous, subtle diplomacy. The US gives Israel $3 billion a year in aid. Palestinians get $400 million. President Trump is threatening to withhold the aid to the Palestinians unless they start negotiating with Israel. Uh yeah, Sure. that's going to work! [/snark]


Further commentatry on "Fire & Fury."

Wolff book on how top aides regard Trump: “For Steve Mnuchin and Reince Priebus, he was an ‘idiot.’ For Gary Cohn, he was ‘dumb as shit.’ For H.R. McMaster he was a ‘dope.’ The list went on.


Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says: “The president and the people of this country should be concerned about the mental fitness of the leader of North Korea.” Well, we are. but that doesn't mean we're prepared to overlook our President's mental health and fitness for office! 


Excellent! A more ridiculous waste of time, money and resources was hard to imagine. The commission accomplished nothing except to drive home the point that in-person voter fraud (the kind that could be battled with people having ID cards) was a non-problem.


One thing struck me in this piece (Excerpt of "Fire & Fury" by Michael Wolff). Rupert Murdoch had sagely warned that Trump's opportunity to make a real impression was going to be very short-lived. He had to make an impact within the first 100 days. Problem was, no one on the Trump team thought they were going to win the presidency, so no one had prepared any sort of agenda. Steve Bannon wanted to undertake a "shock and awe" approach, but his re-design of the immigration system called for the involvement of so few people and such limited advice and buy-in that it was a complete cluster-&%$@. Instead of "crushing the liberals," it energized us far more than it depressed us.


Yeah, mission accomplished. No questions about money laundering or Fusion GPS. But yeah, I very strongly disagree that Obama just sat around, refusing to deal with either North Korea or Iran. In both cases, he took the best approach that would yield best results. We need his kind of leadership back!


Kind of interesting as you consider that Laura Ingraham is speaking from the same movement that cried and wailed and beat their chests about "Sharia Law" being imposed on us poor, innocent Americans. But by suggesting that actresses wear more modest clothing in order to then be taken seriously as people who oppose sexual harassment, isn't Sharia Law what Ingraham is recommending here? And no, "staring" does not equal "harassment."


I agree with the blogger here (NSFW language) The Iranians are demonstrating hate and discontent with their leadership, but the President has absolutely zero moral authority to stand with Iranian protesters. He never gave a crap about them and never will.


Working in the White House is a rough job under any president. The burn-out rate is high and has been for many decades. Add to that a temperamental, president who likes a workplace in chaos and where there isn't much prestige in serving there. Add to that the publicity over the fate of Sean Spicer, who lied so much that no one will hire him and you've got a recipe for a very thin, stressed-out, overworked staff.


(I live in Horsham) The 2018 Horsham Town Council welcomed two new Democratic members, Bill Gallagher and Veronica Hill-Milbourne. Asked someone there when the Council last had any Democratic members. She thought it was sometime back in the 70s.


So, a bit over 100 days after Hurricane Maria, how's Puerto Rico doing?

Status.pr reports:
55% power consumption
*70% power generation
*97% of the island has water
*295,000 individuals have arrived in Florida from Puerto Rico, since October 3rd
*354 survivors are staying in 20 shelters that remain open


Presidetnt Trump takes credit for there being no deaths from commercial air travel in 2017. Erm, actually, the last such deaths were in 2009.


Ah, okay. I remembered upon reading about President Trump talking about health care associations "What? 'Millions' of people are joining these association? Really? I would have thought I would have heard of them by now." Well, it turns out that associations are not even real on paper. There have been a few small, private associations and they've had lots of waste, fraud and abuse problems. Congress hasn't even begun drafting any legislation for the kinds of national-scale associations that the President was referring to.


Four problems that President Trump claimed he was going to solve by now. Nope. Nowhere even close. They were 1. “'Everybody' was supposed to have health insurance." Number is actually down by 3 & 1/2 million.  2. "America was supposed to be 'respected again.'” Favoable view of US has crashed from 64% to 49%. 3. "The deficit was supposed to 'go away rapidly.'” The only piece of major legislation to get through increases the deficit by $1 trillion over 10 years.  4. "Trump was supposed to have quit Twitter.” Yeah, he should have done that more for his own sake than anyone else's . 


First NJ Governor Christie canceled a railway tunnel from New Jersey to New York's Manhattan, now President Trump cancels another proposed tunnel! There's only one tunnel that leads to Penn Station, the busiest transportation hub in the US. It's old and it's deteriorating.


President Trump gets BJ from NY Times: "where NYT argues that unlike 'aloof' Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, Trump is a president of the people."
Keep in mind that popular support for Net Neutrality is over 80% and a Trump-appointed FCC just repealed Net Neutrality without making the slightest attempt to explain why. No, Trump is not a "president of the people!"
And discussing the truly idiotic NY Times piece that claims that "President Trump has brought a reality-show accessibility to a once-aloof presidency, invigorating voters who felt alienated by the establishment."


Hmm, does a Chinese action film mark a sea change in world affairs? Chinese action film where Chinese hero defeats the bad guy, a white American. American Embassy is useless. 


Cause for all Americans to feel deeply ashamed. The Electoral Integrity Project "has measured 213 elections in 153 countries and is widely agreed to be the most accurate method for evaluating how free and fair and democratic elections are across time and place." If North Carolina were a country, it would rank somewhere in the middle of democratic integrity in terms of how free and fair its election in 2016 was.


"After Years of Lies, a Federal Judge Brought a Swift End to the Hillary Clinton Benghazi BS"
Good! Hillary Clinton gave public testimony about Benghazi in late 2013. That was really the last notable, meaningful word on the case. Everything since then has been the opposition political party just trying to score points and to tear down Clinton's reputation.