Thursday, May 26, 2016

Trouble in Trump paradise as bickering among top aides leads to another "You're fired" moment.

Karen Giorno with Donald Trump.
Courtesy of Politico: 

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign on Wednesday night announced it had parted ways with its national political director, Rick Wiley — a move that appears to stem in part from an ongoing turf war atop the campaign. 

Wiley was the first high-profile hire by Paul Manafort, the veteran GOP operative who Trump brought on board in late March to help professionalize a campaign that had cruised through the GOP primary season with a skeleton staff.

But Manafort and Wiley quickly found themselves at odds with Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and key members of the team he had built. 

Sources in and around the campaign told POLITICO that Wiley was not responsive to Lewandowski or other officials from the old regime, and that he had clashed in recent weeks with Karen Giorno, a Lewandowski ally who ran Trump’s campaign during the Florida GOP primary. 

Gee another organization put together by Donald Trump is starting to crumble? Who could have predicted such a thing?

You know, besides everybody.

By the way if you think that the name Karen Giorno sounds vaguely familiar well you are probably right.

Also courtesy of Politico:

The consultant Donald Trump hired in November to lead his Florida campaign abruptly resigned from a previous post with Gov. Rick Scott’s administration after a blow up at a Disney G.O.P. fundraiser, according to former party and administration staff.

Karen Giorno, who served as Scott’s external affairs director in 2011, now has the title of southeast political director for Trump’s campaign. Scott has also endorsed Trump's campaign. 

That year, the keynote speaker at the Republican Party of Florida’s Victory Dinner was Sarah Palin. 

Giorno wanted better seating for the Palin family at the Victory Dinner, according to the sources, which led her to try and rearrange seating in the ballroom at the Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa where the event was being held.

She received complaints from RPOF staff who had made the seating charts, and was reminded the event was a political function and that she worked for Scott’s administration, an official state job. 

“She was upset about how things were working with the Palin Victory Dinner event,” said a former party employee. “She yelled at RPOF staff and got into an altercation with some fundraising folks, then was summarily told to leave the room and not come back.”


Kind of makes one wonder if this most recent conflict was in some way Palin related as well.

Or perhaps it is yet another weird Palin coincidence.

(H/T to Martha.)

P.S. Since this post mentions Palin I should let you guys know that the trial call for Track's case has once again been continued.

I wonder how many times they can actually do that?

More on the Hillary Clinton e-mail "scandal."

Courtesy of Forbes:  

The report released Wednesday by the State Department Inspector General on its email records management is being reported as heavy-duty criticism of former Secretary Hillary Clinton. However, the report has more in it that vindicates Clinton than nails her. 

It does not add any new serious charges or adverse facts. And, it shows she was less out of line with her predecessors, notably Colin Powell, than has been charged. Powell’s handling of his email was so similar, in fact, that when House Republicans drag this issue through hearings up to Election Day, Powell should be called as a witness – a witness for Clinton. To put it differently, she is having a double standard applied to her.

The author then goes on to list five key takeaways from the report. I won't list all them all on this post, but here are a few highlights.   

First, and foremost, it is simply not about classified email. It is about regular, ordinary, run-of-the-mill, unclassified email. Yet it is the classified email, not these messages, that are the focus of the FBI investigation of Clinton. In other words, the report does not, and cannot, talk about the most serious issues. It is about a sideshow.

It is, by the way, my opinion that the FBI investigation will not include anything substantial that damages Hillary either, and I join with others in hoping that they wrap up the investigation quickly.

However if the Right Wing hoped that his report contained a smoking gun, well it really doesn't.

I will skip through the next three takeaways and go directly to the last one, which I think is key.

Fifth, to the extent that she is criticized because “she did not comply with the Department’s policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act,” the report is making a legal judgment that is not particularly strong. Note how she is not labeled as violating any statute, but rather, a real mouthful of mush – “the Department’s policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act.” So we are talking about obscure, dull, bureaucratic policies. Not a criminal statute. Not even a civil statute – just the bureaucratic policies. 

A report that says so little new against Clinton, amounts to a vindication.

You may disagree with that very last sentence, but the paragraph before it is hard to refute.

In short she broke NO laws. 

In fact other news outlets far less sympathetic to Hillary have come to essentially the same determination, like the Washington Post for instance:

The department’s email technology was archaic. Other staffers also used personal email, as did Secretary Colin Powell (2001-2005), without preserving the records. But there is no excuse for the way Ms. Clinton breezed through all the warnings and notifications. While not illegal behavior, it was disturbingly unmindful of the rules.

Okay but WAS it "disturbingly unmindful of the rules?"  Or is there in fact an epidemic of individuals in the State Department flouting the rules and Clinton is simply being held to a higher standard than the rest of them.

Because it appears very much as if it is the latter.

I think now might be a good time to once again remind everybody that the State Department's e-mail system suffered one of the "worst hacks" ever.

Though he is going to lose the Democratic nomination Bernie Sanders may have just arranged a debate with Donald Trump. WTF? Update!

Courtesy of CBS News: 

Kimmel asked Trump if he'd be willing to debate Sanders, given that Hillary Clinton had turned her primary opponent down for a California debate. Trump declared he would -- as long as the proceeds go to charity. 

As he accepted the hypothetical debate, Trump asked, perhaps jokingly, how much Sanders would be willing to pay him -- for charity -- then conceded that it would be fine if a network were willing to put up the money. Trump also said he has never met Sanders.

Sanders then responded with this:
So you saw in the interview that this was something that Sanders is asking for in an attempt to get momentum before the California primaries.

That is a dick move.

For one thing this is simply not something that a legitimate Democrat would do before a Democratic primary. And for another this is playing right into Trump's hands.

The entire debate will have NOTHING to do with policy, despite Sanders' attempts to make it about policy, and will instead simply be a Hillary Clinton bash-a-thon with Trump using Sanders' own words to inflict the most damage.

So this will mean that either Bernie Sanders will find himself forced to defend Hillary, or piling on with Trump.

If he chooses the latter he is going to further damage his standing with the Democratic party and I think remove any chance of having a lasting impact on the party moving forward.

At this point I cannot believe I was EVER supportive of Bernie Sanders being in this race.

Update: Sanders is now promoting this debate during his rally in California.

Clearly, unlike Trump, he does not consider this a joke. 

White nationalists are so excited about Donald Trump they are in danger of staining their nice white bed sheets.

Courtesy of TPM: 

Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump has been accused of dog-whistling to white nationalists ever since he kicked off his campaign in the summer of 2015 and warned against “criminal” Mexican immigrants. His retweets of Twitter users with handles like "@WhiteGenocideTM" and his tepid disavowals of David Duke's support have not gone unnoticed in that fringe community, either. 

Tucked away in the woods of middle Tennessee’s Montgomery Bell State Park, 300 “white advocates” gathered over the weekend at the fourteenth American Renaissance conference to reflect on just how much fuel Trump has added to their movement this election cycle. 

"I've never felt this sense of energy in our movement," the conference host, Jared Taylor, said in his opening remarks. "I've never been more optimistic."

Apparently the conference which brought together such like minded folks as advocates for a white ethno-state, Holocaust deniers, eugenicists and confederate sympathizers, saw an increase of about a hundred people compared to 2015, many of them first time attendees.

Gee I cannot really imagine what could possibly have inspired so many folks to come out of the woodwork and openly express their racism.

It's almost like there was a national figure who was suddenly making it cool to be racist again.

Don't worry it will come to me.

Remember that conspiracy theory spouting lunatic running for the school board in Texas? Yeah well she lost.

Whatever you do don't stare directly into her eyes.
Courtesy of NBC News:

A retired Texas schoolteacher who received national attention for her outrageous conspiracy theories and claimed President Obama was once a gay prostitute was denied a spot on the state board of education Tuesday. 

Only several months ago, Mary Lou Bruner, 69, of Mineola, Texas, had been the front-runner for the powerful seat on the Texas State Board of Education, the second-largest school system in the nation. 

But as conspiracy theories in Bruner's old Facebook posts surfaced, her lead shrunk. Voters ultimately chose fellow Republican Keven Ellis, a local school board president, for the GOP nomination. Bruner lost by about 18 percent in the primary runoff.

Her defeat was celebrated by the group that had outed her Facebook posts. 

"Texas escaped an education train wreck tonight," Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said in a statement. "If Bruner had ultimately won election to the board, she would have instantly become the most embarrassingly uninformed and divisive member on a board that already too often puts politics ahead of making sure our kids get a sound education."

You know I ding Texas fairly regularly, and often they deserve it, but this time they got one right.

Good on ya Texas!

Stephen King and other American writers post open letter expressing their concern over Donald Trump.

Courtesy of the Literary Hub:


Because, as writers, we are particularly aware of the many ways that language can be abused in the name of power; 

Because we believe that any democracy worthy of the name rests on pluralism, welcomes principled disagreement, and achieves consensus through reasoned debate; 

Because American history, despite periods of nativism and bigotry, has from the first been a grand experiment in bringing people of different backgrounds together, not pitting them against one another; 

Because the history of dictatorship is the history of manipulation and division, demagoguery and lies; Because the search for justice is predicated on a respect for the truth; 

Because we believe that knowledge, experience, flexibility, and historical awareness are indispensable in a leader; 

Because neither wealth nor celebrity qualifies anyone to speak for the United States, to lead its military, to maintain its alliances, or to represent its people; 

Because the rise of a political candidate who deliberately appeals to the basest and most violent elements in society, who encourages aggression among his followers, shouts down opponents, intimidates dissenters, and denigrates women and minorities, demands, from each of us, an immediate and forceful response; 

For all these reasons, we, the undersigned, as a matter of conscience, oppose, unequivocally, the candidacy of Donald J. Trump for the Presidency of the United States.

If you click the link at the top you can see a vast number of writers who have signed this open letter, including Stephen King,  Cheryl Strayed, Dave Eggers, Junot Diaz, Amy Tan, Mary Roach, Tobias Wolff, Richard Russo, Michael Chabon and Roy Blount, name a few.

King of course has been quite vocal in expressing his opinion of Trump.
Which is just one more reason to admire him.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

State Department report on Hillary Clinton's e-mails is probably not going to be as problematic for her campaign as Republicans are hoping. Update!

Courtesy of LA Times:

The State Department’s internal watchdog has concluded that Hillary Clinton clearly broke its rules when using a private email server as secretary of State, saying the practice created a security risk and violated transparency and disclosure policies. 

The highly critical report, sent to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, is certain to create more political problems for Clinton by feeding into the narrative Republican opponents have long worked to build: that Clinton does not follow the same rules as everyone else and that she has not been open with the American public. 

The department’s inspector general found she engaged in emailing practices that exposed sensitive information to breach, disregarded department policies that discouraged such methods of communicating and failed to promptly turn over all relevant correspondence to the department. 

The 79-page report does not criticize only Clinton. It also found a Republican predecessor, Colin Powell, to have committed similar violations. The finding may help inoculate Clinton against the partisan attack the report is certain to generate.

The report actually finds that over 90 other State Department officials also used private e-mail addresses to send information back and forth, and that the State Department itself was careless in enforcing the guidelines.

However there was also this:

The audit did note that former Secretary of State Colin Powell had also exclusively used a private email account, though it did not name any other prior secretaries who had done so. But the failings of Clinton were singled out in the audit as being more serious than her predecessor. 

"By Secretary Clinton's tenure, the department's guidance was considerably more detailed and more sophisticated," the report concluded. "Secretary Clinton's cybersecurity practices accordingly must be evaluated in light of these more comprehensive directives."

Brian Fallon, Hillary's spokesman, had this to say:  

"The inspector general documents just how consistent her email practices were with those of other secretaries and senior officials at the State Department who also used personal email," Fallon said, noting that the report says "her use of personal email was known to officials within the department during her tenure, and that there is no evidence of any successful breach of the secretary's server."

And according to Politifact Hillary seems to not have technically broken any laws:

In Clinton’s defense, it was only after she left the State Department that the National Archives issued an official recommendation that government employees should avoid conducting official business on personal emails (though they noted there might be extenuating circumstances such as an emergency that require it). Additionally, in 2014, President Barack Obama signed changes to the Federal Records Act that explicitly said federal officials can only use personal email addresses if they also copy or send the emails to their official account. 

Because these rules weren’t in effect when Clinton was in office, "she was in compliance with the laws and regulations at the time," said Gary Bass, founder and former director of OMB Watch, a government accountability organization.

So no Hillary did not break the law by using a private e-mail server, but she definitely bent the rules.

I would also be derelict in my duty if I did not point that a number of Republican politicians have ALSO gone overboard to keep their e-mails out of the hands of the media, including Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Rick Perry, and Bobby Jindal, who all used private email servers.

Now obviously just because those folks did something similar does not make what Hillary did any more defensible, but one has to wonder where the outcry is over THOSE missing e-mails.

It should also be pointed out once again, that the State Department e-mail system was hacked, whereas, at least so far, there is no actual evidence that Hillary's private server was compromised.

So yes there is still a pending FBI investigation. But if I was a betting man I would bet that it will not find anything prosecutable either.

Update: To get a better handle on the archaic system utilized by the State Department for complying with its policy on retaining e-mails you should watch Rachel Maddow's segment from this evening.

It provides a little perspective.

Bernie Sanders insults the intelligence of the American voters.

Courtesy of Salon:  

The Bernie Sanders campaign has injected a lot of welcome aspects of lefty thought into the national discourse this election cycle: An emphasis on income inequality, a discussion on how to rebuild the declining middle class, a reminder that almost none of the bankers who destroyed our economy paid for their crimes. 

Unfortunately, Sanders is also injecting one of the most wrong-headed and frankly embarrassing aspects of lefty thought into our discourse: The tendency to dismiss people who disagree with you as dupes who have been misled by a shadowy cabal of evil masterminds who brainwash the masses in order to perpetuate economic injustice. 

This is the premise of Sanders’ “political revolution” argument: That the only reason voters hadn’t backed a socialist in the past is they never really had a chance to. But once they heard the good news about democratic socialism, they will throw off their shackles, embrace the truth, and usher in our socialist paradise. 

That sort of rhetoric is harmless enough when it’s a pitch to win over voters. But now Sanders is losing the nomination. Rather than accepting the possibility that the voters heard his pitch and disagreed with him, however, Sanders has started to dismiss his loss as inauthentic, the product of shadowy forces misleading the easily duped voters rather an an authentic rejection, by the voters, of his ideas.

It has been pointed out here and in other places that Sanders seems perfectly happy with the primary system so long as he wins, especially the caucus system which most of us despise,  but whenever he comes up short he IMMEDIATELY claims that the process is rigged or broken.

At first it was easy to laugh off, but now that it has taken root, and there are people essentially calling every primary that Bernie lost illegitimate, and calling for a massive overhaul of the entire, it is really no longer a laughing matter.

Remember this is the same system that selected Jimmy Carter in the 1970's, Bill Clinton in the 1990's, and Barack Obama in 2008.

And of course back then their opponent's supporters also thought the system was rigged, and cried foul. THAT is also essentially part of the process.

If you think WE have it bad just imagine how the Republicans must feel having just selected the orange tinted short fingered vulgarian as their candidate. If ever a primary process needed overhauling, that would seem to be the party to take that leap first.

Over on the Huffington Post they have offered a helpful guideline on how elections work for the more fact resistant  of the Bernie supporters.

Speaking of Bernie supporters I finally had a long conversation with my daughter last night.

I initially called to ask her if she thought the attacks being launched against Hillary by Trump, which dredge up Bill Clinton's past indiscretions and blame her for being an enabler, would work with young millennial females.

She said absolutely not, and that her friends find him more repulsive every time he opens his mouth.

I thought so, but it never hurts to check.

So after that we discussed the state of the Democratic primary and she expressed disappointment over how it played out and that she still feels that Bernie would have been the best choice.

However she is facing facts and has every intention of voting for Hillary in the general.

She also shared that after the New York primary the number of pro-Sanders Facebook posts on her timeline dropped dramatically, and since that time have only been intermittent.

She said that a lot of her friends, who were inspired by the simple message put forth by Sanders, were now pretty disgusted with the back and forth between Hillary and Trump.

She also said that right now a lot of them are feeling drained by the process and many simply want to ignore the whole thing until it is over.

So I said I understood that and reminded her of how all of the Obama supporters felt after he was elected and immediately ran into a Republican wall of resistance which made it almost impossible for him to push through his agenda.

I then reminded her that if you are really unhappy with the way things are going then giving up is not an option, and went on to bore her with stories of the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement, and the current progress of the LGBT movement. And that if she and her fellow millennials want to change the party platform, and the political process, they need to stay engaged and not take their ball and go home. 

The call ended after I started singing "We Shall Overcome." Off key of course.

What can I say, I was caught up in the moment.

Elizabeth Warren pummels Donald Trump yet again. Update!

Courtesy of HuffPo: 

“Donald Trump was drooling over the idea of a housing meltdown because it meant he could buy up a bunch more property on the cheap,” Warren said. “What kind of a man does that? Root for people to get thrown out on the street? Root for people to lose their jobs? Root for people to lose their pensions? Root for two little girls in Clark County, Nevada, to end up living in a van? What kind of a man does that? 

“I’ll tell you exactly what kind,” Warren continued. “A man who cares about no one but himself. A small, insecure money-grubber who doesn’t care who gets hurt, so long as he makes some money off it. What kind of man does that? A man who will never be president of the United States.”

“Donald Trump is worried about helping poor little Wall Street? Let me find the world’s smallest violin to play a sad, sad song,” Warren said.

Damn do I love this!

Warren gave this speech yesterday so I am sure that by now the Donald has had a chance to rip her a new one on Twitter.
Seriously? That's it?

It appears to me that Elizabeth Warren is Donald Trump's Kryptonite.

She saps his energy, knocks him to his knees, and renders him unable to fight back effectively.

Sure seems like she is campaigning for VP to me.

Update: Apparently Warren smells blood in the water and presses her attack.

I would say that right now Warren is the single most effective individual currently going after Trump.

That is until President Obama enters the fray of course.

Hey look who finally broke her vow of silence.

Courtesy of the Wasilla Wendigo's Facebook page.
Wait is today Memorial Day?

No, that's not until Monday.

So without a Facebook ghostwriter this idiot cannot even read a calendar?

Well maybe she is just distraught because tomorrow is the long awaited beginning of Track's trial for assault.

Yep even knocking her up does not erase the fact that you beat her ass in a drunken rage.

You know it must really rub salt in the wound to read about Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich making time with your boyfriend while you are stuck up here waiting for yet more embarrassing details about your fucked up family to be reported by the media.

I'd feel sorry for her but, you know, I don't.

You know you have slipped down the rabbit hole when Bill O'Reilly is the voice of reason.

Courtesy of TPM: 

Calling the Instagram video “kind of tawdry stuff,” O’Reilly told Trump, “I'm not sure that this is a good thing…to do that” before trailing off. 

“Well, I’m only responding to what they do. She’s been very nasty, and I said I’d like it to be on policy, straight down the middle,” he said before trumpeting recent poll numbers. 

O’Reilly interrupted to say “every human being on earth” saw those poll numbers. 

“I understand what you are trying to do here is inhibit Mrs. Clinton from attacking you personally by saying, ‘if you play that game, then can I come back 10 times harder.’ I understand that,” the “O’Reilly Factor” host said. 

He continued: “But you know that it makes the country look bad abroad and things like that. That's what worries me. I understand the Clinton attack machine. I got it, and I think it has to be dealt with somewhat. But I think maybe caution.”

Man I hate to have to agree with Bill O'Reilly but of course he is right, this election season has certainly damaged our credibility around the world.

In fact many world leaders have expressed actual fear at the thought of a Trump presidency. And these are not our enemies, these are our allies.

Of course why Trump thinks these attacks against Hillary, the so called "Enabler," and Bill, the so called "Predator," will work in 2016 is because while all of us who lived through the Monica Lewinsky drama and impeachment debacle of the 90's, have moved on and think it no longer matters, there are a whole group of Millennial women who have not heard these stories before.

Trump is counting on the fact that he can fan the flames of outrage, which seem to always be right under the surface with the young folks today, and get them to reject Hillary out of hand, despite the fact that she would be infinitely more empathetic to their needs as women and far more likely to support legislation that protects them and their rights.

Will it work?

Well I would think not.

But to be honest I am not entirely sure.

After all look how easy it was for the Sanders' campaign to convince their followers that Hillary was a Republican-lite.

There are now more non-believers in England than believers. Sooo jealous.

Courtesy of The Guardian:  

The number of people who say they have no religion is rapidly escalating and significantly outweighs the Christian population in England and Wales, according to new analysis. 

The proportion of the population who identify as having no religion – referred to as “nones” – reached 48.5% in 2014, almost double the figure of 25% in the 2011 census. Those who define themselves as Christian – Anglicans, Catholics and other denominations – made up 43.8% of the population. 

“The striking thing is the clear sense of the growth of ‘no religion’ as a proportion of the population,” said Stephen Bullivant, senior lecturer in theology and ethics at St Mary’s Catholic University in Twickenham, who analysed data collected through British Social Attitudes surveys over three decades. 

“The main driver is people who were brought up with some religion now saying they have no religion. What we’re seeing is an acceleration in the numbers of people not only not practising their faith on a regular basis, but not even ticking the box. The reason for that is the big question in the sociology of religion.”

I don't want much folks, but I want to live long enough to see America become a nation where the majority are non-believers as well.

That my friends, will be a great day indeed. 

Just a picture of President Obama eating with Anthony Bourdain in Vietnam for a segment of the show "Parts Unknown."

Okay why does everything this man does look so damn cool?

Apparently in between bites the President also lifted the decades old arms ban in Vietnam as well.