Friday, July 21, 2017

Sean Spicer quits.

I guess Spicey did not like the news that Trump is bringing in Anthony Scaramucci to do his job.

I'm telling you right now this is just the beginning.

Remember the spokesperson for Trump's legal team also just quit.

There are also rumblings that this is a temporary position for Scaramucci and that his ultimate job trajectory has him taking over for Reince Priebus.

Shit's getting real now. 

Florida man upset that utility trucks are parked near his lawn, starts shooting.

Courtesy of the Miami Herald: 

He didn't like the AT&T work trucks in front of his Hialeah home, so Jorge Jove retrieved his revolver and began shooting out the tires and the engine, police said. 

Cell phone video rolled as Jove, 64, calmly walked around the first truck and shot at all four tires. The sound of the air coming out of the tires followed the blast. 

Jove then walked to the second bucket truck and began shooting at the front of it, reloading the gun several times. Meanwhile, one of the AT&T workers could be heard calling police to report the shooting. 

“He's shooting the truck right now,” said a man who identified himself as Derrick Taylor, a technician with AT&T. “There's a guy shooting the tires and shooting the engines and everything.” 

As Taylor spoke to the dispatcher, Jove continued his attack on the trucks.

At the end of the Miami Herald article it says "charges are pending."

But let's face it he is a white guy in Florida exercising his 2nd Amendment right to protect his lawn from utility trucks.

He probably won't get more than a slap on the wrist.

Actually probably get a commendation for protecting the neighborhood from those AT&T bastards.

Newest Senate health care bill would still leave 22 million more Americans without insurance.

Courtesy of Business Insider: 

Republicans in the Senate just released another update to the Better Care Reconciliation Act, their plan to overhaul the US healthcare system. 

Noticeably absent from this round bill is an amendment that was added just a week ago from Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee that critics said could make plans with adequate coverage unaffordable to those who have certain medical conditions.

The Congressional Budget Office didn't have a chance to score that version of the bill. Instead, it analyzed the Senate bill based on the most-recently released draft that omits the amendment. 

The CBO concluded that the bill would leave 22 million more Americans without insurance by 2026 compared with the current law, in line with their estimates for the original bill. The CBO also said that the revised bill would add $100 billion in deficit savings. 

There is also this little nugget revealed by the CBO.
However as bad as all of that is, and boy that is bad, it does not even hold a candle to what happens if the Republicans move forward with that "repeal only" bill that some are still pushing forward.

Courtesy of Politico:  

A revived bill that would dismantle large parts of Obamacare without an immediate replacement would leave 32 million more people uninsured and double premiums over a decade, the Congressional Budget Office said in a report Wednesday. 

The legislation — an update of the repeal measure nearly all GOP senators voted for in 2015 — is on track to reach the Senate floor early next week, where it likely would fail.

Let's face it, the Republicans don't know dick about health care, and the ONLY way they are going to come up with a fix for the problems with Obamacare is if they stop attempting to get rid of it, and ask the Democrats to come on board to make it better. 

And I think some of these guys would rather have open heart surgery without benefit of anesthesia than to swallow their pride and do that.

Oklahoma teacher takes to panhandling to raise money for school supplies and public awareness as well.

Courtesy of Fox 23 News: 

A Tulsa teacher is making a bold statement about the state of education as she pleads for money at a local intersection in order to pay for classroom supplies. 

Teresa Danks is a third grade teacher in the Tulsa Public Schools systems.

As a result of serious education budget cuts, Danks says she is now spending between $2,000 and $3,000 of her $35,000 salary on supplies for her students. 

Oklahoma ranks nearly last in teacher pay when compared to other states across the U.S.

There is nothing unusual about that by the way, a LOT of teachers are forced to spend their own money to make sure that their students have the materials that they need to learn in the classroom. 

And good for this teacher to bring attention to that fact, and to hopefully shame some of the politicians in her area to start adequately funding public education.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Despite threats from The Donald, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating the Trump family finances. Update!

Let's see, what else does Donald Trump not want me to investigate?
Courtesy of Bloomberg:

The U.S. special counsel investigating possible ties between the Donald Trump campaign and Russia in last year’s election is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. 

FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. 

The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

John Dowd, one of Trump’s lawyers, said on Thursday that he was unaware of the inquiry into Trump’s businesses by the two-months-old investigation and considered it beyond the scope of what Special Counsel Robert Mueller should be examining. 

“Those transactions are in my view well beyond the mandate of the Special counsel; are unrelated to the election of 2016 or any alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and most importantly, are well beyond any Statute of Limitation imposed by the United States Code,” he wrote in an email.

The MINUTE I read that New York Times article, where Trump essentially threatened the Special Counselor, I HOPED that Mueller was going to aggressively go after the Trump family finances, and lo and behold he is.

I am sort of torn between hoping that Trump DOES NOT fire Mueller so that he can continue to do his investigations without interruption, and hoping that he DOES find a way to get rid of Mueller so that we can witness the devastating fallout that it will surely trigger.

All I know for certain is that Donald Trump's problems are really only just beginning.

Update: This just broke from the Washington Post 

With the Russia investigation continuing to widen, Trump’s lawyers are working to corral the probe and question the propriety of the special counsel’s work. They are actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work, according to several of Trump’s legal advisers. 

A conflict of interest is one of the possible grounds that can be cited by an attorney general to remove a special counsel from office under Justice Department regulations that set rules for the job.

The president is also irritated by the notion that Mueller’s probe could reach into his and his family’s finances, advisers said. Trump has been fuming about the probe in recent weeks as he has been informed about the legal questions that he and his family could face. 

His primary frustration centers on why allegations that his campaign coordinated with Russia should spread into scrutinizing many years of Trump dealmaking. He has told aides he was especially disturbed after learning Mueller would be able to access several years of his tax returns.

Yeah, not hard to see that this was coming.

So yes, Trump is looking for a way to fire Robert Mueller.

But wait, there's more.

The article goes on to reveal that Trump is also exploring with his legal team his ability to grant pardons.

Including the possibility of pardoning himself.

And I think that would be what we might call Trump's plan B.

Update 2: Spokesman for Trump's legal team resigns

Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort are all scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week.

Courtesy of the Independent:  

Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort are to testify before the US Senate Judiciary Committee in relation to a meeting with a Russian lawyer who promised to provide incriminating information about Hillary Clinton. 

The meeting has come under intense scrutiny as part of investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 US election and possible collusion on the part of the Trump campaign. 

Mr Trump Jr and Mr Manafort are to appear in front of the committee on July 26, but Mr Kushner is due to appear on July 24 in a closed session.

Mr Kushner’s lawyer Abbe Lowell said his client is voluntarily cooperating with the congressional probes into the now notorious meeting. 

In addition, Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who organised the meeting with Mr Trump Jr, has also said she would be happy to testify.

Oh I am DEFINITELY clearing my calendar to watch this.

I just wish that Kushner's was an open door testimony as well.

Maybe he is just afraid that people will mock his little boy voice if he appears on television.

But don't worry he is certainly not out of the woods yet.

Courtesy of Newsweek: 

The Congressional oversight body that holds U.S. employees accountable and exposes government fraud and abuse voted unanimously Wednesday to investigate why senior Trump administration officials have been granted security clearances. 

Senior advisors to the president, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions were all given security clearances after “omitting significant information about foreign contacts from their applications,” said a statement from Illinois House Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi.

And the noose gets a little bit tighter.

P.S. After I wrote this I saw a few talking heads on TV suggesting that Junior and Manafort would be idiots to agree to show up for this hearing, and I got a little worried.

But then Senator Dianne Feinstein came along to put those concerns to rest:  

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Thursday she isn't concerned about Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort agreeing to testify before a Senate panel, because if they don't "they'll be subpoenaed." 

"Am I concerned? No, I'm not concerned, because if they don't they'll be subpoenaed," Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters.

And there you have it.

Junior and Manafort might TRY to avoid testifying next week, but they will ultimately testify one way or the other. 

The guy in charge of the new voter integrity commission is not sure just who won the last election.

Courtesy of CNN: 

The vice chair of President Donald Trump's voter integrity commission said Wednesday he isn't sure if Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election.

"We may never know the answer," Kobach said. 

Kobach repeated this claim when pressed, later conceding that, "Based on the data, you could make some very educated guesses." 

He applied a similar skepticism to the votes cast in favor of Trump, which Kobach said were "absolutely" in doubt as well.

Wait, so we have no idea who won the last election for sure?

Well there is really only one appropriate response to that kind of doubt, a do over.

Yep, let's hold the whole election over again and may the best woman win.

Here is some of that absolutely incredible interview that the New York Times conducted with Donald Trump. (Including audio.)

Here are some excerpts courtesy of the New York Times:

President Trump said on Wednesday that he never would have appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions had he known Mr. Sessions would recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation that has dogged his presidency, calling the decision “very unfair to the president.”

In a remarkable public break with one of his earliest political supporters, Mr. Trump complained that Mr. Sessions’s decision ultimately led to the appointment of a special counsel that should not have happened. “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Mr. Trump said.


“Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the president,” he added. “How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the president.”


Why is he talking about himself in the third person?

It should be noted here that Sessions recused himself only after it was revealed that he lied about meeting with Russians during his confirmation hearing.

The real question for Trump should be why did he choose an Attorney General with ties to Russia, and then extrapolate that out further to ask why virtually EVERYBODY working on his campaign and now within his administration have ties to Russia?

Speaking of Russia this is how Trump characterized his meeting with Putin during the G20 Summit: 

Describing a newly disclosed informal conversation he had with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia during a dinner of world leaders in Germany this month, Mr. Trump said they talked for about 15 minutes, mostly about “pleasantries.” But Mr. Trump did say that they talked “about adoption.” Mr. Putin banned American adoptions of Russian children in 2012 after the United States enacted sanctions on Russians accused of human rights abuses, an issue that remains a sore point in relations with Moscow.

Mr. Trump acknowledged that it was “interesting” that adoptions came up since his son, Donald Trump Jr., said that was the topic of a meeting he had with several Russians with ties to the Kremlin during last year’s campaign. Even though emails show that the session had been set up to pass along incriminating information about Hillary Clinton, the president said he did not need such material from Russia about Mrs. Clinton last year because he already had more than enough.

Of course as we know "adoptions" is code for "sanctions," and I am amazed that Trump is actually using Russian talking points so blatantly since everybody knows for a fact what that meeting between Junior and the Russians was all about.

It is almost as if he assumes that nobody reads.

Then the subject turned to James Comey:  

Mr. Trump recalled that a little more than two weeks before his inauguration, Mr. Comey and other intelligence officials briefed him at Trump Tower on Russian meddling. Mr. Comey afterward pulled Mr. Trump aside and told him about a dossier that had been assembled by a former British spy filled with salacious allegations against the incoming president, including supposed sexual escapades in Moscow. The F.B.I. has not corroborated the most sensational assertions in the dossier. 

In the interview, Mr. Trump said he believed Mr. Comey told him about the dossier to implicitly make clear he had something to hold over the president. “In my opinion, he shared it so that I would think he had it out there,” Mr. Trump said. As leverage? “Yeah, I think so,” Mr. Trump said. “In retrospect.” 

The president dismissed the assertions in the dossier: “When he brought it to me, I said this is really made-up junk. I didn’t think about any of it. I just thought about, man, this is such a phony deal.”

Wait, did Trump just accuse the former head of the FBI with threatening to blackmail him?

He does realize that President Obama was also told about that dossier as well, right?

Trump also disputed Comey's testimony under oath that he asked people to leave the room so that they could talk in private about ending the investigation into Michael Flynn:

“I don’t remember even talking to him about any of this stuff,” Mr. Trump said. “He said I asked people to go. Look, you look at his testimony. His testimony is loaded up with lies, O.K.?” 

He expressed no second thoughts about firing Mr. Comey, saying, “I did a great thing for the American people.”

Oh, well you just know the Senate Intelligence agency is going to want to talk to about that.

Trump also went after Special Counsel Robert Mueller: 

Mr. Trump was also critical of Mr. Mueller, a former F.B.I. director, reprising some of his past complaints that lawyers in his office contributed money to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign. He noted that he actually interviewed Mr. Mueller to replace Mr. Comey just before his appointment as special counsel.

“He was up here and he wanted the job,” Mr. Trump said. After he was named special counsel, “I said, ‘What the hell is this all about?’ Talk about conflicts. But he was interviewing for the job. There were many other conflicts that I haven’t said, but I will at some point.”

And then there was this thinly veiled threat:

Asked if Mr. Mueller’s investigation would cross a red line if it expanded to look at his family’s finances beyond any relationship to Russia, Mr. Trump said, “I would say yes.” He would not say what he would do about it. “I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia.”

Holy shit!

So to be clear in this one interview Trump has admitted that he would not have hired Jeff Sessions if he knew he would not protect him from these Russian investigations, suggested that the former FBI chief was threatening to blackmail him, and insinuated that the Special Counsel might lose his job if he investigates the Trump family finances.

That is in only ONE interview.

Damn, no wonder Trump hates the media.

They keep reporting on the things that he says and does, so that people know about them.

Must be so frustrating. 

The US Military is paying $130,000 a month to stay in Trump Tower and protect a president who is never there.

Courtesy of CNBC:

The United States government is paying more than $130,000 a month to rent a space in Trump Tower for a military office that supports the White House, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. 

Lease documents obtained by the Journal showed the government agreed to pay $2.39 million for a 3,475 square foot space from April 11, 2017 to Sept. 30, 2018 — above market rate for similarly sized high rise luxury apartments, the report said. 

A spokeswoman at the General Services Administration said the space is owned by someone not affiliated with the Trump Organization, suggesting the rent money isn't going to President Donald Trump, according to the report. 

The GSA is the agency that negotiates office space agreements for the government. 

An office like the one in Trump Tower is used by the U.S. military to provide services that need to be close to the president at all times. That includes medical, food, transportation, communications and a briefcase that allows the president to authorize a nuclear attack, the Journal said.

But here's the kicker.  

The president, however, hasn't spent a night at the skyscraper since taking office, it added.

So to be clear, the American taxpayers are paying Donald Trump for the services needed to protect Donald Trump, which he never actually needs because the taxpayers are also paying to protect Donald Trump on one of Donald Trump's many golf course.

Which are also being paid to house those protective services. 

Does that about sum this up?

Dallas Morning News lists outline of Trump's "achievements."

Courtesy of the Dallas Morning News: 

President Donald Trump's first six months have been defined by his often angry and tasteless tweets, his ham-handed efforts to denigrate and undercut the multiple investigations into Russian influence in the 2016 election and the stalemated legislative battle to repeal and replace Obamacare.

The News then goes on to list a number of things that Trump has achieved.

Here is a sampling:

FOREIGN POLICY 

-Embraced autocrats in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Philippines, Egypt and abandoned longtime U.S leadership in seeking to enhance democracy and human rights. 

-Insulted U.S. allies in Europe, especially Germany, and undercut longstanding U.S. treaty commitments. 

-Compromised Israel's intelligence sources. -Spurred more divisiveness in an already divided Middle East by setting off a squabble between Saudi Arabia, a major U.S. ally, and Qatar, home of the region's biggest U.S. military base.

(Trust me there's more.)

DOMESTIC POLICY 

-Proposed a budget with massive cuts that would shred the social safety net and cripple longstanding governmental functions. 

-Created uncertainty in the nation's health care system by sending inconsistent administrative signals and supporting legislation that could deprive millions of people health insurance coverage, undermine Medicaid health support for lower income Americans and give wealthy taxpayers a massive tax cut. 

-Mismanaged the federal government by failing to fill many top spots and installing an inexperienced, dysfunctional White House staff.

(Yep, there's more.)  

INSTITUTIONAL DAMAGE: 

-Committed potentially impeachable offenses of obstructing justice that prompted appointment of a Special Counsel by firing FBI Director James Comey, because of his probe into possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia, and urging other intelligence officials to pressure Comey to halt the probe. 

-Undermined the courts with denunciations of judges and their decisions affecting his administration's policies, especially those curbing his hastily issued ban on Muslim travel from certain countries.

 -Without evidence, accused former President Barack Obama of illegally wiretapping his phones. -Repeatedly misrepresented his administration's policies and trashed officials with whom he has disagreements, calling the ousted Comey "a nut job," Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer the "head clown" and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi an "incompetent."

(And yes there is more. So much more.)

But that gives a fairly accurate overview of Trump's accomplishments thus far.

Hell if he accomplishes any more America will soon be a smoldering crater in the ground.

I guess this is what the Trumpsters meant by the term MAGA.

While all of that news was breaking on Tuesday about that second meeting between Trump and Putin, THIS was what Fox News was focused on.

I imagine that the next breaking story will be about Hillary's unpaid parking tickets, or a book she did not return on time to the library.

When people ask me if I believe in alternate realities, my response is "What? You've never heard of Fox News?"