Thursday, July 20, 2017

Time for Tillerson to Resign

Washington is abuzz with rumors that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is going to resign, after Donald Trump criticized Sessions for recusing himself in the Russia investigation. In essence, Trump said, "I would never have hired Sessions if I had known he had a smidgeon of honesty. I thought he was rotten to the core!"

That's not to say that Sessions is a nice guy: his plan to ramp up civil forfeiture, allowing cops to literally steal money, cars and property from anyone they merely accuse of drug crimes without any kind of due process is as corrupt as any scam the Russian oligarchs are running.

But it's Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who should resign immediately (via the New York Times):
The Treasury Department has fined Exxon Mobil $2 million for violating sanctions that the United States imposed on Russia in 2014 while Rex W. Tillerson, now the secretary of state, was chief executive of the oil company.

“Exxon Mobil demonstrated reckless disregard for U.S. sanctions requirements,” the Treasury said in a report announcing the penalty.

According to the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, Exxon Mobil violated the sanctions when the presidents of its American subsidiaries did business with an individual whose assets were blocked. They did so by signing legal documents related to oil and gas projects in Russia with Igor Sechin, the president of Rosneft OAO, and an another person.
Exxon did not voluntarily disclose the signings [emphasis added], according to the Treasury, which called the infractions “an egregious case.” 
Exxon has been secretly conspiring with the Russians to avoid sanctions for years. It is clear that collusion with Russia did not begin with the election: like Tillerson, Trump has been at it for years, making deals with Russian oligarchs, mobsters, and murderers who have been ripping the Russian people off in much the same way Trump is trying to rip off the American people.

This also explains why Trump made such a weird choice for secretary of state: the only qualification Trump was looking for was a deep and corrupt connection to Russia.

It's no wonder that Trump is upset that special prosecutor Robert Mueller might be looking into Trump's finances: Trump and his entire administration are up to their eyeballs in dirty Russian money.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Trump's Brand of Loyalty

Showing what a great guy he is, Donald Trump blasted his attorney general for recusing himself on matters dealing with Russia:
“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.”
Trump is blaming Sessions for problems Trump himself created: why didn't Trump and his army of lawyers ask Sessions about his contacts with Russia before they nominated him? I'm sure they knew Sessions had talked to the Russians, and they didn't care. Because they never thought it was a problem. They still don't. This is all on Trump.

Trump's son, son-in-law and campaign manager were the ones who met with a Russian lawyer who represented a Russian charged with money laundering, a Russian spy and a representative for a Russian oligarch close to Putin. The same oligarch Trump was in bed with at the Miss Universe contest in Moscow.

Trump is the one who proudly stated on national television that he fired James Comey because of the Russia thing: he literally confessed to Lester Holt that he was obstructing the Russia investigation. In this latest interview Trump also accused Comey of using the Golden Shower dossier as some kind of leverage over the president. This is patent nonsense: the FBI got the dossier more than eight months ago and its contents were widely known to the public before the election, as this article from Oct. 31, 2016, shows.

Trump is the one held a private meeting attended only by Putin, Trump and Putin's translator. Doesn't Trump understand how incredibly bad this makes him look? It looks like he's receiving instructions from his KGB handler, getting rid of his translator so that there are no American witnesses.

Trump has no record of what was said (I'm sure Putin does -- it's one more bit of leverage over Trump), but Trump thinks they talked about adoption. "Adoption" being Russian code for removing sanctions on wealthy oligarchs who want to launder money in the United States through Trump real estate "investments."

This is all on Trump. If he hadn't fired Comey there wouldn't be a special investigator because there wouldn't be an investigation into his obstruction of justice. If Trump hadn't constantly sucked up to Putin and Russia for the last 30 years he wouldn't be in this predicament. If Trump had been an honest man and had taught his son ethical and moral behavior, Junior would have called the FBI when he got an email from a sketchy Brit with the subject line "Russia - Clinton - private and confidential," instead of taking the meeting and then announcing to the world that he had tried to collude with the Russians to win the election for his dad.

Trump's dishonesty, greed and lies are the cause of his problems. Not Jeff Sessions.

Republicans, take note of the kind of loyalty Donald Trump has to the Republican Party: Trump is throwing Sessions under the bus. Trump tried to blackmail fellow Republicans into supporting the suckiest health care bill ever conceived, a bill that even most Republican voters hate, by threatening to primary them. Trump ran attack ads against a fellow Republican, Senator Dean Heller of Nevada to force him to support the bill. Trump even accused Ted Cruz's dad of assassinating Kennedy.

Trump's crass behavior, sexual harassment, lies, backstabbing and disloyalty have been known this for years. Yet Republicans still support this turkey? Why would anyone ever make any kind of deal with this guy, or even more incredibly, why would anyone ever agree to work for this jerk?

When are Republicans going to realize that Trump is lower than the brown scum you find on the inside of a toilet in a crack house?

Crickets From The Blue Lives Matter Crowd

Last Saturday night, two Minneapolis police officers responded to a 911 call about domestic violence in the Fulton neighborhood. Several minutes later, Justine Damond was dead...killed b;y a gunshot from one of the officers. My first reaction when I heard the details of this case was this: here we go again. It's yet another example of  "act first, think later and justify with fear" that we've seen far too often from police in the last few years.

Of course, this case is a little different. Why? The victim looks like this.

And the cop looked like this...

...which explains why we are hearing the sound of fucking crickets from the Blue Lives Matter brigade. It's these same folks that are probably wondering why Trump hasn't deported Officer Noor yet. Their hypocrisy is sickening.

So, we have another candlelight vigil in a devastated neighborhood, more nonsense from public officials, and shattered family members wondering why the police have so many laws that allow them to do shit like this.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Cast of Characters is Complete

Because the Trumps never tell the truth, we only now have found out who the eighth person in the meeting Donald Junior took to get dirt on Clinton from Russians spies (via the Washington Post):
An American-based employee of a Russian real estate company took part in a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between a Russian lawyer and Donald Trump Jr., bringing to eight the number of known participants at the session that has emerged as a key focus of the investigation of the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russians.

Ike Kaveladze’s presence was confirmed by Scott Balber, an attorney for Emin and Aras Agalarov, the Russian developers who hosted the Trump-owned Miss Universe pageant in 2013. Balber said Kaveladze works for the Agalarovs’ company and attended as their representative.
Here's how it shakes out:

Ike Kaveladze: personal representative of Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov, Putin crony.

Rinat Akhmetshin: a former Russian spy, who traffics in information stolen by Russian hackers.

Natalia Veselnitskaya: a Russian lawyer who represented a company called Prevezon that was charged with fraud and money laundering by former US attorney Preet Bharara, who was fired by Trump after initially being asked to stay on. The Prevezon case was settled for a paltry $6 million two days before trial.

Rob Goldstone: publicist for Emin Agalarov and go-between for Trump Junior.
Anatoli Samochornov: a Russian-born American translator, who apparently doesn't like Republicans.

Not at the meeting were Aras and Emin Agalorov: a Russian oligarch and his pop-star son. Trump has a long history of dealings with the Agalarovs, most notably with the Miss Universe contest.

The theory of the crime now looks like this: the Russians promised dirt on Clinton that they had or would obtain from Russian spies/hackers (Akhmetshin's area of expertise). In exchange, the Russians wanted the Magnitsky Act to be repealed (which Veselnitskaya had been working on for years), allowing oligarchs like those charged in the Prevezon case to freely launder their dirty Russian money in American real estate and casinos (things the Trumps know all about).

The subject of adoption came up because Veselnitskaya would have told the Trump campaign a future Trump administration could justify the repeal of the Magnitsky Act as a humanitarian action,  allowing Americans to adopt Russian orphans once more. Putin instituted the adoption ban in retaliation for the Magnitsky Act.

Getting rid of sanctions on Russia was one of Trump's constant themes throughout the 2016 campaign. Trump frequently talked about removing sanctions on Russia, and recognizing Russia's annexation of Crimea. Why? Trump voters didn't give a damn about Russia, but this was always a top priority for Trump because he has lots of ties to Russian money.

The Trump Justice Department settled the Prevezon case in May, for $6 million even though their own brief claimed the scheme involved $230 million. This was two months after Preet Bharara, who brought the original charges, was fired by Trump. Did this come up in discussions that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had with Sergei Kislyak?

Trump's Justice department claimed the case was too complicated for a jury to understand, and there were no longer any witnesses willing to testify. The main witness, lawyer Nikolai Gorokhov, "fell out a window" in Moscow and nearly died in March. I.e., the Kremlin tried to kill him.

Or was the Prevezon case settled because Trump shell companies were involved with the money laundering? Trump tax forms may answer this question, which is probably why he doesn't want to release them.

Or was the Prevezon case settled for pennies on the dollar because the Russians have dirt on the Trumps and Jeff Sessions?  There is a very real possibility that the entire Trump administration has been compromised by Russia, and vulnerable to Russian blackmail and extortion.

The whole scheme is a classic quid pro quo: the Russians offered to help Trump get elected, and in exchange he would help Russian oligarchs launder money in the United States, quite possibly as "investments" in Trump real estate ventures (something Don Jr. bragged about, saying that he didn't need American banks because he could get money from Russia).
The Trumps now claim that "anybody" would have met with the Russians to get opposition research, but even before the meeting it was self-evident that this "research" was the fruit of Russian espionage and therefore illegal and likely treasonous. 

Trump Junior claims he was ignorant and naive and didn't know what the hell he was doing (his father calls this 39-year-old man a "boy"). For once Junior is telling the truth: he is ignorant, naive and doesn't know what he's doing. But he knew he was dealing with Russian spies and criminals, because he had been doing business with these criminals for years.

Some experts think that this has little to do with the election, and everything to do with good old-fashioned corruption and money laundering.

Here's hoping that Mueller can get the straight dope on all this before witnesses like Goldstone, Akhmetshin, Samachornov and Veselnitskaya start falling out of windows.


Well, well, well. It looks ol' Donny Boy isn't quiet the deal maker he made himself out to be. He has officially failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act. What happened to all that draining of the swamp stuff? Looks like the swamp got him.

And it got the GOP as well. Remember back when the Democrats had both chambers and the presidency and they really couldn't get much done (except saving tens of thousands of lives with health care, of course)? I distinctly remember being chided for my party being ineffective. Where is the taunting now?

Even more hilarious is just how popular the ACA is right now (over 50% approve). I guess Nancy Pelosi was right. Once it passed, people saw what was in it, experienced it and turns out, they love it!

The president says he's just going to let the ACA fail. That might be a problem.

Despite doomsday rhetoric, Obamacare markets are stabilizing

Fake News!!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Good Words

She’s the most royally screwed-over person in the history of American politics. She should be in the White House, right now. And she’d have been good. Maybe not great. They wouldn’t allow that. We’d be having impeachment hearings underway already, I assure you, over far smaller matters than the things we know the Trump family has done. 

That would be rough, but I know this much: She wouldn’t be suddenly discovering that health care is complicated, she wouldn’t have her son-in-law on the White House staff and in charge of Middle East peace, and she wouldn’t be an international embarrassment. The free nations of the world wouldn’t be trying to find ways to work around the United States of America.

---Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast. 

Cognitive Dissonance of ETSIK

Me: Hey, did you read the emails from Trump Jr?
Every Trump Supporter I Know (ETSIK): No. It's all a witch hunt by the liberal elites and the media. It's all lies.
Me: But it was his email with Russian contacts. Here's part of it.

---On Jun 3, 2016, at 10:36 AM, Rob Goldstone wrote:
Good morning
Emin just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting.
The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.
This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump - helped along by Aras and Emin.
What do you think is the best way to handle this information and would you be able to speak to Emin about it directly?
I can also send this info to your father via Rhona, but it is ultra sensitive so wanted to send to you first.
Rob Goldstone
On Jun 3, 2016, at 10:53, Donald Trump Jr. wrote:
Thanks Rob I appreciate that. I am on the road at the moment but perhaps I just speak to Emin first. Seems we have some time and if it's what you say I love it especially later in the summer. Could we do a call first thing next week when I am back?
Sent from my iPhone--

ETSIK: Witch hunt. Liberal media. Don't believe it. Hillary is probably behind it. Fake news. Deep state nazism.
Welcome to the United States in 2017.

Seriously? Now Cops are Shooting Blonde 40-year-old Women

There's been a lot of outrage over the deaths of black men like Philando Castile who have been shot by police while obeying their commands.

Now two cops in Minneapolis, just a few miles from where Castile was killed, have shot and killed a 40-year-old blonde white woman:
An Australian woman was fatally shot overnight Saturday by Minneapolis police officers who did not have their body cameras turned on, officials said.

The woman, Justine Damond, was shot as the officers were responding to her 911 call of an assault near her home in the suburb of Fulton [Note to the Times: Fulton is not a suburb -- it's an upscale neighborhood of Minneapolis]. Ms. Damond, 40, who is from Sydney and who also went by the name Justine Ruszczyk, was engaged to be married to an American man, according to Australian news media reports.

Police officials said they were looking into the circumstances of the shooting, and why the officers were not using their body cameras.
What the hell? Did they shoot her because they thought she was some dangerous illegal alien, with a suspicious Australian accent?

What is wrong with these cops? And what's wrong with the police department? The killer has been put on paid administrative leave, instead of being fired on the spot.

I know being a cop is dangerous. I know cops are deathly afraid of being shot any time they venture out. That fear is almost completely due to the fact that there are too many guns on the streets, thanks to the NRA and the Republican Party.

This shooting is no more and no less outrageous than the shooting of Castile. It shows what a load of crap the cops are spewing when they try to justify shooting black men. It's clear that cops who shoot innocent civilians are cowering ninny who pull their guns and fire at the slightest thing that spooks them before properly assessing the situation.

This is criminally negligent homicide. Which is also what Castile's killer, Jeronimo Yanez, should have been found guilty of.

Yanez excused the killing by claiming he smelled marijuana smoke and was afraid for his life because Castile was slowly killing a child with second-hand smoke (Yanez really said that!). What excuse will these guys use? "When I saw her hair I thought she was the Atomic Blonde and I would get radiation poisoning!"  "When I heard that Australian accent I immediately thought of Crocodile Dundee and was afraid she had a really big knife! Or maybe a crocodile!"

Can we stop making excuses for bad cops? When they shoot innocent people they are committing crimes. It is the worst possible dereliction of duty for a police officer to kill the person who just called them for help.

Yet this happens all the time: in Seattle, in Indianapolis, in Chicago, and so on. To be fair, cops have also been shot by people who called 911: in Georgia, for example. So, yeah, I get why cops are trigger happy. But that's no god-damned excuse for killing innocent people!

The real problem, again, is that there are too many guns on the street. Police are rightly paranoid that they could be shot by some nut job. But these people are supposed to be trained professionals paid to protect the public, not kill them because their panties get in a bunch.

These killings are not "tragic accidents." They are catastrophically stupid blunders of sheer incompetence. We have got to find a way to train cops to handle these situations and weed out trigger-happy cops who are not up to the job.

But the real questions is why these cops are so trigger happy?

The sheer quantity of guns in the United States has put the entire nation under a pall of fear and paranoia, with the NRA, gun manufacturers and the Republican Party constantly stoking that fear with lies and hatred, all the time pumping more and more guns into our communities. All those guns are making it harder and more dangerous for the competent cops to do their jobs. All these guns do not make us safer -- Castile's gun got him killed.

In the final analysis, Justine died so the NRA could have their toys.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Target. Manipulate. Brainwash.

I wonder how all the right wing bloggers and commenters feel now that the truth has come to light regarding how they were microtargeted by members of the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Congressional and Justice Department investigators are focusing on whether Trump’s campaign pointed Russian cyber operatives to certain voting jurisdictions in key states – areas where Trump’s digital team and Republican operatives were spotting unexpected weakness in voter support for Hillary Clinton, according to several people familiar with the parallel inquiries.

Boom, son!

Also under scrutiny is the question of whether Trump associates or campaign aides had any role in assisting the Russians in publicly releasing thousands of emails, hacked from the accounts of top Democrats, at turning points in the presidential race, mainly through the London-based transparency web site WikiLeaks.

Double boom, son!

I posted this the other day but it's worth repeating. Several times.

A Second Look At Russians Officials

US Intelligence officials are taking a second look at conversations that took place among members of the Russian government in the run up to the 2016 election, the Wall Street Journal is reporting. In some cases, the Russians in the overheard conversations talked about meetings held outside the U.S. involving Russian government officials and Trump business associates or advisers, these people said.

According to the report, it looks like a lot of this began at the 2013 Miss Universe pageant. The players are starting to come out of the woodwork and it's only a matter of time before all the pieces fall into place. The more Trump denies collusion the more he reveals himself to be more of an idiot than I thought he was.

Good Words

Donald Trump is an American who ran for office under a slogan of patriotic pride and love of country. People who love their country do not help rival powers intervene in their country’s elections, even if that intervention might have the lovely side effect of getting them elected.

--Megan McArdle, Bloomberg View

But, hey, as long as those liberals are squirming, who gives a fuck about our country?

Criminals or Morons?

Donald Trump formed a commission formed to investigate "electoral fraud" early in his presidency. Of course, there's no evidence whatsoever that there's any serious amount of in-person voter fraud (of the few cases found most involved Republicans). But Trump says there has to be because he lost the popular vote by 3 million votes.

A couple of weeks ago the commission asked all the states for confidential information on all voters, including names, party affiliation, addresses, birth dates, and even the last four digits of the Social Security number.

This is exactly the information that Russian hackers need to commit identity theft, allowing them to empty out your bank account. Or screw with the voter registration system in the states, preventing Americans from voting in the next election.

Did Jared Kushner want that secret back channel to the Russians so he could send them this data?

The Trump administration's plan for this data was to have the states upload the data to a server and then store it on "someone's" computer in the White House. Apparently, no consideration was made for the security of the data.

Just recently it was discovered that a Republican operative had left voter data for 200 million Americans on an unsecured server. Was he just incompetent, or was this the cyber equivalent of a dead drop for Russian hackers?

Trump's commission insisted they could be trusted to keep the data safe. They then showed exactly how incompetent they are at keeping people's personal details confidential:
The White House on Thursday made public a trove of emails it received from voters offering comment on its Election Integrity Commission. The commission drew widespread criticism when it emerged into public view by asking for personal information, including addresses, partial social security numbers and party affiliation, on every voter in the country.

It further outraged voters by planning to post that information publicly.

Unfortunately for these voters and others who wrote in, the Trump administration did not redact any of their personal information from the emails before releasing them to the public. In some cases, the emails contain not only names, but email addresses, home addresses, phone numbers and places of employment of people worried about such information being made available to the public.
Rule #1: if you want people to trust you, don't do the very thing they're telling you not to do.

Most states -- even the Republican ones -- have refused outright to comply with Trump's dictates, so our data should be safe for now.

But the question is: did these clowns intentionally release these details to get even with their critics, letting the Russians and Republican doxxers know who they should target? Or are they complete idiots, oblivious to the harm they can cause with this kind of information, and especially, how bad this makes them look?

In the Bush administration, it was always a question of whether Bush and his people were lying or incompetent -- about the WMDs, the war in Iraq, Katrina, etc.

But with the Trump administration, the lies are a given. They always lie. Over and over. They never tell the truth. For them truth does not exist: everything they say is just another scam crafted to sell some swamp land on a Florida sinkhole. As Junior's meeting with the Russians shows, their story changes five times in two days, and in the end they will still never tell the truth. Because, in the end, they're covering up intertwined crimes and conspiracies that go back decades.

So now you've gotta ask: is the Trump administration filled with criminals or morons? No -- why choose? Criminal morons it is.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Good News on Cancer

Nearly everyone I know has had their lives adversely affected because of cancer. Today's news about the FDA universally recommending a new treatment that attacks the disease with the bodies own living organisms is amazing and most welcome.

To use the technique, a separate treatment must be created for each patient — their cells removed at an approved medical center, frozen, shipped to a Novartis plant for thawing and processing, frozen again and shipped back to the treatment center. 

A single dose of the resulting product has brought long remissions, and possibly cures, to scores of patients in studies who were facing death because every other treatment had failed. The panel recommended approving the treatment for B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia that has resisted treatment, or relapsed, in children and young adults aged 3 to 25.

Good news is hard to come by these days. It points to something I have predicting for years. People are going to start living longer thanks to advances in medical technology and it's going to happen exponentially.

But Her Emails...

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Irony 101: a single email may seal Trump's fate

After years of yapping about thousands of Hillary Clinton's emails, it turns out that a single email may tear down the entire Trump administration.

On Saturday the New York Times published an article about a meeting the Trump's son, son-in-law and campaign manager had with a Russian lawyer.

The first excuse Donald Trump Jr. had was that they didn't know who they were meeting and they talked about adoption. Then he said that he had been promised some unspecified dirt on Clinton, but that the Russian lawyer had lied to him and had nothing, and was talking nonsense!

Nonsense? Nonsense like "DNC's emails that criticize Bernie Sanders," "Wikileaks," "Julian Assange," "Guccifer?" perhaps? The same stuff that was leaked a few days later and probably caused millions of Bernie supporters to stay home on election day instead of voting for Clinton?

Now Donnie Jr. said he had gone to the meeting intending to collude with the Russians, but got mad when they punked him and just wanted to talk about letting wealthy Russian fatcats buy up New York real estate again.

Then, finally the truth came out: Donnie Jr. had a Russian friend whose dad is in Putin's inner circle. This guy sent Donnie an email saying that the Russians wanted to help Trump win, and that they had evidence of foreign contributions to the DNC.

That's what convinced Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort to take a meeting with an agent of the Russian government. Of course, there was no collusion between the DNC and the Russians, because the Russians wanted Trump to win. The email, though false, baited the hook and the Trump campaign swallowed it, the line and the sinker.

Now everything makes a lot more sense. The reason Kushner was so intent on getting FBI Director James Comey fired was that he knew this meeting would eventually come to light if Comey kept looking at Kushner's meetings with Russians.

Trump Sr. didn't want his son to go to jail for soliciting in-kind campaign contributions from an agent of the Russian government, so he went along with Comey's firing. Besides, he was almost certainly in the loop -- he would have been pleased to learn that his best friend, Vladimir Putin, wanted to help him win the election.

The interesting thing is that all this information is being leaked directly out of the White House. It looks like Steve Bannon is stabbing Jared Kushner in the back.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Trump Was Right!

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Trump Proudly Announces He Will Collude with Russia

During the presidential campaign Donald Trump called for Russia to hack Hillary Clinton's email, which has ultimately lead to an investigation of whether his campaign colluded with the Russians to win the election for him.

Always tone deaf, after meeting with Putin at the G-20 Trump proudly announced that he will collude with Russia once again on hacking (calling it "cybersecurity" this time around).

This was met with ridicule in most quarters, many of them Republican:
[Sen. Marco] Rubio suggests that partnering with Putin on cybersecurity would be like partnering with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on a “Chemical Weapons Unit” (Assad is widely believed to have carried out chemical weapons attacks on his own people).
Other Republicans were equally derisive:
When asked for his response on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) chuckled.

“It’s not the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard, but it’s pretty close,” he said of the cybersecurity proposal.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) similarly scoffed at the suggestion.

“I am sure that Vladimir Putin could be of enormous assistance in that effort ― since he’s doing the hacking,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, equated Putin’s involvement in a joint cybersecurity venture to “letting the fox guard the henhouse.” He tweeted a clip of a fox from a Discovery Channel documentary.
Democrat Adam Schiff tweeted that Americans “might as well just mail our ballots to Moscow.”

After Trump's meeting with Putin Russian media claimed that Putin denied he had interfered with the US election, and that Trump had accepted his denial. Trump's comments afterwards suggested that he accepted the denial, repeating the same sort of weasel words he has since the election ("I think it was Russia, and it could have been other people in other countries.").

Other members of the Trump administration basically said that Russia hacked the election and Trump didn't know what he was talking about.

All in all, Trump's performance at the G-20 was an embarrassment: a video from an Australian reporter illustrated how isolated and clueless the American president was at a meeting that the United States has historically dominated.

Despite his speech in Poland about defending "the West," Trump has completely abdicated America's leadership position in the free world to Germany and France, choosing instead to enroll in the Putin University for Third-World Dictators.

An Excellent Summation of President Trump

Oops! Trump's Guys "Forget" Another Meeting with the Russians

It's a crime to hide meetings with hostile foreign nationals when applying for a security clearance. But Jared Kushner has done it over and over again. This time it was with a Russian lawyer who defends Russia's policy of holding babies hostage:
Two weeks after Donald J. Trump clinched the Republican presidential nomination last year, his eldest son arranged a meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan with a Russian lawyer who has connections to the Kremlin, according to confidential government records described to The New York Times.

The previously unreported meeting was also attended by Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman at the time, Paul J. Manafort, as well as the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, according to interviews and the documents, which were outlined by people familiar with them.

While President Trump has been dogged by revelations of undisclosed meetings between his associates and Russians, this episode at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, is the first confirmed private meeting between a Russian national and members of Mr. Trump’s inner circle during the campaign. It is also the first time that his son Donald Trump Jr. is known to have been involved in such a meeting.
The Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, has waged Russia's attack on the Magnitsky Act, passed by Congress after Russian accountant Sergei Magnitsky died (probably murdered) in a Russian prison. Magnitsky had exposed a huge corruption scandal in the Putin administration.

In retaliation for the passage of the Magnitsky Act (which sanctioned Putin's oligarch pals), Russia banned adoptions of Russian orphans by Americans. Yes, Putin is trying to blackmail Americans who desperately want to save Russian children from a grim and hopeless future by taking them into their homes at great expense to themselves.

Kushner's story is that the meeting was about adoption, though it was really about getting Trump to repeal the Magnitsky Act so Russian oligarchs could go back to snapping up New York real estate.

And then there's this:
One of Ms. Veselnitskaya’s clients is Denis Katsyv, the Russian owner of a Cyprus-based investment company called Prevezon Holdings. He is the son of Petr Katsyv, the vice president of the state-owned Russian Railways and a former deputy governor of the Moscow region. In a civil forfeiture case prosecuted by Mr. Bharara’s office, the Justice Department alleged that Prevezon had helped launder money tied to a $230 million corruption scheme exposed by Mr. Magnitsky by parking it in New York real estate [emphasis added] and bank accounts. As a result, the government froze $14 million of its assets. Prevezon recently settled the case for $6 million without admitting wrongdoing.
This story hits the trifecta: Russians, Trump and real estate money laundering. Robert Mueller, take note.

Trump's conspiracy theory cronies fabricated a story about child sex slaves in the non-existent basement of pizza joint out of an obscure reference in an email from John Podesta. They were so convinced something terrible was happening that one nutjob shot up Comet Ping Pong Pizza to "rescue" the nonexistent children.

Here we have Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner meeting secretly with the lawyer of man who laundered hundreds of millions of corrupt Russian dollars through New York real estate. Yet Trump supporters obliviously insist that there was absolutely nothing going on in the dozens of meetings Trump campaign operatives and associates had with Putin, Russian bankers, Russian lawyers, Russian diplomats, and Russian spies.

Why so many meetings with Russians? And why are these secret meetings constantly being uncovered, one after another, six months after Trump took office? The "I forgot" excuse is wearing thin.

The next time Kushner remembers one of these "forgotten" meetings he should be fired, lose his security clearance, and charged for lying to the FBI.

No, scratch that: Kushner's security clearance should be revoked and he should be fired today. His credibility is damaged beyond repair. There are so many questions swirling around Kushner that he is completely exposed to Russian blackmail: he's lied so many times about the Russians that there's almost certainly another bombshell out there waiting to explode.

Worse, even if there aren't any other secret meetings forthcoming, there may be "tapes" of Kushner's contacts with the Russians, they could blackmail the Trump administration by threatening to release recordings of Kushner saying any number of incriminating things.

No wonder Trump is always so complimentary to Vladimir Putin...

No More Fire Pits, Please!!

Folks, I have a confession to make. I hate fire pits with all of my heart and soul.

I realize this will cost me in MN street cred because just about everyone in this state absolutely loves fire pits to the point of insanity, obsession and OMG why don't you have one??!! But I hate them. HATE them!! Why?

1. I deplore obsessive, keep up with the Joneses trendy crap. Only in Minnesota could a campfire be a hipster thing to do.

2. The smell. I hang out by a fire pit for more than three seconds and I stink to high heaven. I have to shower twice and do an extra load of laundry just to smell normal again.

3. The lack of fresh air. I like to have fresh air in my house but I rarely can open my windows because all my neighbors have fire pits blazing 24-7. I live in the beautiful North Woods where the air would normally be immensely fresh if it weren't for the fucking fire pit festival every year.

4. With fire pits come drum circles and I really can't stand those dumb ass things. Join a band (rock or pep) and put all that energy into something creative rather than being a wanker trying to impress some hippie chick with how in touch you are with your "soul."

Most of you who know me recognize that I'm not an outdoors-y guy. Fire pits represent an intrusion of camping into my suburban bliss that I find deeply offensive on a number of levels.

Here's to hoping I can bring more anti fire pitters out with this message and give them the courage to join me in saying enough of this! I want to smell fresh air again!!

Saturday, July 08, 2017

A Tale of Two Children

A couple of days ago Donald Trump made news by offering help to the parents of Charlie Gard, a British baby with a terminal genetic disease that is turning his DNA into mush. Trump supporters are spinning it as "The evil doctors in the British National Health Service want to pull the plug on the kid. But Donald Trump has a heart!"

But there are thousands of kids like Charlie Gard here in the United States. Kids whose parents can't afford to pay for their medical treatments and would go bankrupt without Obamacare, which is literally giving them a lifeline.

One such parent is Alison Chandra, a pediatric nurse whose son Ethan was born with heterotaxy, a condition that leaves a child's insides a jumble of organs: two left lungs, five spleens, and nine congenital heart defects.

Chandra posted a picture of her son's medical bill on the Internet with the following tweet: "It seems fitting that, with the #TrumpCare debate raging, I got this bill in the mail today from Ethan's most recent open heart surgery."

Some of the responses were supportive, but others were vile, hitting back at Chandra for daring to criticize Trump and the Republicans' repeal of Obamacare:
They came at me swinging, picking fights I’d never asked for. They called me ungrateful, a thief, a lazy mooch, an attention whore.

The attacks became increasingly personal and increasingly violent. Strangers were telling me it would have been cheaper to make a new kid.
I was offered a .22 bullet, although I’m still not sure whom he meant it for, me or my child. One man took me up on the challenge I’d posed in the thread and declared that my son just wasn’t worth keeping alive anymore. There was even a percentage of the comments dedicated to the belief that I was a foreigner or, worse, a terrorist, which is when I started asking news outlets to use my full name: Alison, not Ali, since people seemed unable to believe that I was, in fact, a white chick from New Jersey. 
Why do Trump supporters swoon when he feigns interest in the fate of some foreign child who is almost certainly doomed (Charlie's very DNA is kaput), yet send death threats to an American citizen whose child actually has a shot at life when she graphically expresses an opinion on the what the effects of the Republican health care plan will be for American kids?