Friday, January 19, 2018

John Kelly in hot water for suggesting that Donald Trump may have "evolved" on the issue of the border wall.

Don't say anything stupid, don't say anything stupid, don't say anything stupid.
Courtesy of the New York Times:  

President Trump directly contradicted his own chief of staff on Thursday and said his position on building a wall between the United States and Mexico had not “evolved.” 

Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, John F. Kelly, told some Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday that Mr. Trump had “evolved” on the issue of the wall, and that the president was not “fully informed” when he promised to build such a barrier last year. 

In an early-morning Twitter post, Mr. Trump took the unusual step of publicly pushing back against his own White House, signaling a disconnect between the president and his staff at a critical time of negotiations with Congress to avoid a government shutdown.
People have been wondering how long John Kelly was going to be able to hang in there before Trump got fed up with him and canned his ass.

This straw may not quite snap that camel's back, but it is certainly going to put a target on Kelly's back for the next time he publicly suggests that his boss may not understand what the fuck he is doing. 

Sources say that Donald Trump personally directed Steve Bannon not to answer questions from the House Intelligence Committee.

Courtesy of Foreign Policy: 

President Donald Trump personally made the decision to curtail the testimony of former chief White House political strategist Steve Bannon before the House Intelligence Committee, according to two people with firsthand knowledge of the matter. 

Trump acted to limit Bannon’s testimony based on legal advice provided by Uttam Dhillon, a deputy White House counsel, who concluded that the administration might have legitimate executive privilege claims to restrict testimony by Bannon and other current and former aides to the president, according to these same sources.

Bannon infuriated both Republicans and Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee by refusing to answer questions this week regarding his role in the presidential transition and later as a White House advisor. Repeatedly during Bannon’s executive session testimony, he and his attorney took numerous breaks to confer via phone with the White House counsel’s office as to what questions he should answer and which ones he would not.

This report seems to explain how chief of staff John Kelly was able to say that the White House did NOT advise Bannon not to answer questions, while Bannon claimed that he was getting direction from the White House.

Apparently Kelly was left out of the loop, and Trump was directly obstructing this investigation on his own.

By the way, everybody seems to agree that these tactics simply will not work when Bannon stands before Robert Mueller's grand jury.

House Republican to bring Bill Nye "The Science Guy" to Trump's State of the Union Address.

Courtesy of The Hill: 

Celebrated children's TV show host and outspoken environmentalist Bill Nye "The Science Guy" will attend this year's State of the Union address in Washington, D.C., as guest of GOP Rep. Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma. 

“Bill Nye has been inspiring countless young people to enter the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math since before we used STEM as an acronym. Our country needs these disciplines now more than ever," Bridenstine said in a statement. 

Nye has been an outspoken critic of the Trump administration, calling it the "anti-science movement."

It should also be noted that Bridenstine is Trump's pick to head NASA, though he ha not yet been confirmed. So doing this seems kind of like a big middle finger to Donald Trump.

I have already decided that I am going to boycott the speech personally, but I will be closely following it on Twitter, because the idea of Trump giving this speech in front of an audience with multiple sexual abuse survivors and Bill Nye in attendance just seems like it could make for some high comedy.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Barack Obama is returning to the world of politics, and that should scare the crap out of Republicans.

Hold on America, I'm coming.
Courtesy of Yahoo News:

If President Donald Trump and the Republican Party were already worried about defending their majorities in the House and Senate come November, they will now have another major factor to contend with: Barack Obama.

The former president enjoyed a busy year since leaving the White House but has largely stayed under the radar. Now Obama is reportedly planning to return to the political stage in 2018, setting the stage for a prominent role in the lead up to the crucial midterm elections. 

Close associates to the 44th president predict a politically active year, including campaign stops and other displays of public support. Obama will "continue to be politically active in 2018, with more endorsements and more campaigning," his spokeswoman Katie Hill told The Chicago Tribune. 

The former President's popularity has only grown since he left office, and with the current Democratic surge already underway, his presence on the campaign trail can only make that larger and more devastating for the Republican majority.

Personally I am excited to watch candidates endorsed by Barack Obama, slaughter candidates backed by Donald Trump.

And then watching Trump's angry reactions on Twitter would be extremely satisfying.

Speaking of our greatest president ever, this is how he handled his wife's birthday yesterday.

 God I miss these two.

Robert Mueller is now looking at suspicious Russian monetary transactions with American companies, including the possibility that they funneled money through the NRA into Trump's campaign.

Courtesy of Buzzfeed: 

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, charged with investigating Russian election interference and possible collusion by the Trump campaign, is examining these transactions and others by Russian diplomatic personnel, according to a US official with knowledge of the inquiry. The special counsel has broad authority to investigate “any matters” that “may arise” from his investigation, and the official said Mueller’s probe is following leads on suspicious Russian financial activity that may range far beyond the election. 

The transactions reveal: 

One of the people at the center of the investigation, the former Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak, received $120,000 ten days after the election of Donald Trump. Bankers flagged it to the US government as suspicious in part because the transaction, marked payroll, didn’t fit prior pay patterns. 

Five days after Trump’s inauguration, someone attempted to withdraw $150,000 cash from the embassy’s account — but the embassy’s bank blocked it. Bank employees reported the attempted transaction to the US government because it was abnormal activity for that account. 

From March 8 to April 7, 2014, bankers flagged nearly 30 checks for a total of about $370,000 to embassy employees, who cashed the checks as soon as they received them, making it virtually impossible to trace where the money went. Bank officials noted that the employees had not received similar payments in the past, and that the transactions surrounded the date of a critical referendum on whether parts of Crimea should secede from Ukraine and join Russia — one of Vladimir Putin’s top foreign policy concerns and a flash point with the West. 

Over five years, the Russian Cultural Centre — an arm of the government that sponsors classes and performances and is based in Washington, DC — sent $325,000 in checks that banking officials flagged as suspicious. The amounts were not consistent with normal payroll checks and some transactions fell below the $10,000 threshold that triggers a notice to the US government. 

The Russian Embassy in Washington, DC, sent more than $2.4 million to small home-improvement companies controlled by a Russian immigrant living not far from there. Between 2013 and March 2017, that contractor’s various companies received about 600 such payments, earmarked for construction jobs at Russian diplomatic compounds. Bankers told the Treasury they did not think those transactions were related to the election but red-flagged them because the businesses seemed too small to have carried out major work on the embassy and because the money was cashed quickly or wired to other accounts. 

Each of these transactions sparked a “suspicious activity report” sent to the US Treasury’s financial crimes unit by Citibank, which handles accounts of the Russian Embassy. 

Along with this suspicious activity Mueller also discovered a connection between the Kremlin and the NRA.

Courtesy of McClatchy:  

The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency, two sources familiar with the matter have told McClatchy. 

FBI counterintelligence investigators have focused on the activities of Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA, the sources said. 

It is illegal to use foreign money to influence federal elections. 

It’s unclear how long the Torshin inquiry has been ongoing, but the news comes as Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sweeping investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including whether the Kremlin colluded with Trump’s campaign, has been heating up. 

All of the sources spoke on condition of anonymity because Mueller’s investigation is confidential and mostly involves classified information. 

It should be noted that the NRA donated 30 million to the Trump campaign, which is three times the amount they donated to Mitt Romney's 2012 campaign. 

Damn that Robert Mueller is a thorough son of a bitch isn't he? 

I cannot tell you how much I hope the NRA is outed for illegal campaign contributions.

Seeing them taken down along with Donald Trump, would just be the cherry on top of the delicious justice sundae for me.

Donald Trump suggests that passing his recent cognitive test means he is more capable of solving the North Korea problem than his predecessors.

According to Reuters Trump said this while being asked about dealing with Kim Jong Un: 

With North Korea persisting as the major global challenge facing Trump this year, the president cast doubt on whether talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would be useful. In the past he has not ruled out direct talks with Kim. 

“I’d sit down, but I‘m not sure that sitting down will solve the problem,” he said, noting that past negotiations with the North Koreans by his predecessors had failed to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. 

He blamed his three immediate predecessors, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, for failing to resolve the crisis and, a day after his doctor gave him a perfect score on a cognitive test, suggested he had the mental acuity to solve it. 

“I guess they all realized they’re going to have to leave it to a president that scored the highest on tests,” he joked.

First off, he wasn't joking. The reporter from Reuters is just giving him the benefit of the doubt here.

And secondly Trump is ALWAYS bragging about his intellect, and I imagine truly believes he is more capable than Bill Clinton, a Rhodes Scholar, or Barack Obama, who became the first African American editor of the Harvard Law Review, and may have the highest IQ of any president in modern history. 

Keep in mind that Trump's cognitive test consisted of remembering a sequence of numbers, simple subtraction, drawing a clock, and identifying animals by name.

It is a ten minute test that his doctor claimed took him thirty minutes to complete, and THIS suggests that he has good cognitive abilities?

Just the fact that he made the statement above, demonstrates the falsity of that claim.

It should also be mentioned that later in the Reuters article when asked Trump did not rule out a military solution to the North Korean problem.

Such sharp cognitive skills this one.

Psychiatrists who warned that Donald Trump was fomenting violence receive threats of violence from Trump fans. Let's call that, point made.

Courtesy of the Daily Beast:  

Two psychiatrists who warned that Donald Trump was inspiring violence had their point made, the hard way, when Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) abruptly canceled a planned public meeting with them at a senior center after receiving violent threats about the event. 

According to Bandy X. Lee, an associate professor at Yale who was scheduled to speak at the event, Raskin informed her just 24 hours beforehand that it was off, because going forward would have posed “significant safety risks” to attendees. 

“Sorry about tomorrow night—we’ve been getting so many threats,” Raskin said, according to Lee, the editor of The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, a controversial collection of essays arguing that Trump’s affinity for violence represents a danger to the public, and a leading member of the National Coalition of Concerned Mental-Health Experts (full disclosure: the group’s members include Claire Silverman, a psychologist and this reporter’s mother) that’s raised public questions about Trump’s fitness for office. 

Raskin has roused the ire of Trump supporters since he submitted a bill in April of last year calling for the creation of a committee to evaluate the president’s physical and mental fitness. 

“Whenever my boss talks about the 25th Amendment, there will be an uptick in comments on social media, or phone calls, or emails, that contain either explicit threats or generally violent and hateful language,” Lauren Doney, Raskin’s communications director, told The Daily Beast, while confirming that Thursday’s event had been canceled.

Nothing proves that you are not inspiring violence, like your fans threatening to kill everybody who says you are inspiring violence.

Nicely done deplorables.

Michael Wolff's book. "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," is going to be a TV series.

Courtesy of the Hollywood Reporter: 

Michael Wolff's controversial Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House is coming to television. 

Endeavor Content — the financing and sales arm formed in October between sister companies William Morris Endeavor and IMG — has purchased film and television rights to the No. 1 best-selling book. The massive deal is said to be in the seven-figure range. Endeavor Content plans to adapt the book as a TV series. A network is not yet attached, as Endeavor will now begin shopping the project. 

Wolff will executive produce the series, with veteran Channel 4 and BBC executive Michael Jackson — now CEO of indie producer Two Cities Television — also on board to produce.

Fire and Fury debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list, based only on the first two days of sales. In less than a week, the publisher reported more than 1.4 million hardcovers on order and 700,000 copies shipped, making it the fastest-selling nonfiction book in the company’s history. 

To date, rights to the book have been sold in 32 countries. It is currently the best-selling book of any genre worldwide. (A Spanish-language edition is set for Feb. 28, with subsequent takes in Arabic, Albanian, Portuguese, Bulgarian, Japanese, French, German and other languages also planned.)

I think that we all know that Trump will be glued to the TV while this show is on, and rage tweeting like a maniac until his phone finally bursts into flames. 

Hey, maybe they will get Alec Baldwin to play Trump.

Because THAT would send him right over the edge.

Pentagon considering a possible nuclear response to the next cyber attack. WTF?

Courtesy of HuffPo: 

The Pentagon is reportedly pushing a new retaliation tactic should the U.S. ever be hit by a devastating cyberattack: America could nuke the culprit. 

The New York Times reported Tuesday that a pre-decisional draft of the Defense Department’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, which details U.S. nuclear strategy, includes “large cyberattacks” as an example of a non-nuclear strike on American lives and infrastructure that could be countered with nuclear weapons. 

“Three current and former senior government officials said large cyberattacks against the United States and its interests would be included in the kinds of foreign aggression that could justify a nuclear response,” the Times wrote of the new strategy. The officials stressed, however, that “other, more conventional options for retaliation” could also be used in response to a cyberattack. 

The Nuclear Posture Review, or NPR, was commissioned last year by President Donald Trump and is currently being reviewed by the White House. It will need the president’s approval before it’s made final.

No, no, no, no, no!!!

As much as I want there to be a more robust response to the next cyber attack you cannot kill potentially millions of innocent people becasue their government is hacking our email accounts.

Nuclear weapons are the final deterrent, NOT the opening salvo in response to an attack.

Especially a non-lethal cyber attack.

Besides who believes that Putin's puppet would actually allow this response to a Russian attack, which is the most likely?

And while the Pentagon is apparently losing its collective mind, the Trump Administration has still done virtually nothing to defend us against the next online attack from our enemies.

Here is today's test of your gag reflex.

This is so disturbing on so many levels.