Friday, November 30, 2018

CNN's Gloria Borger: Source close to Cohen says he has 'the goods'

Video link here
Mod: Russian organized crime figure Donald Trump's ex-attorney and "fixer" is now singing like a bird. And apparently what he is chirping has quite an extensive libretto. No wonder Fatso is freaking out.

CNN's Gloria Borger: Source close to Cohen says he has 'the goods' (The Hill link): CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger on Thursday said a source close to Michael Cohen told her that Cohen has "the goods" on his former boss, President Trump.

"'Michael has the goods,'" Borger said on CNN, reading her source's quote. "'He has extremely valuable information.'"

Cohen, Trump's longtime fixer and attorney, pleaded guilty Thursday for misstatements he made to Congress while testifying about his contacts with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Cohen appeared in a federal court in Manhattan after reaching a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating ties between Trump's presidential campaign and Russia. According to court documents, Cohen pleaded guilty to making a false statement about the effort to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign. He also said that he made false statements about the timing of the project.

"And so this clearly goes beyond the Trump Tower Moscow ... although that is crucial and important," Borger said on CNN. "But if Michael Cohen is talking, and we know how close he was to Trump at certain points, how loyal he has been to Donald Trump, and we also know the things that were being asked in the grand jury."

"I think Michael Cohen, who was the man who said he would take a bullet for the president, has now become Brutus to the president," Borger said. "Because he has this need now to - his people say - tell the truth and come clean and is no longer in the business of protecting Donald Trump, which is what he did for all those years."

Cohen has reportedly spent more than 70 hours in interviews with Mueller’s office since he pleaded guilty to multiple federal crimes in August. He indicated in court that he had violated campaign finance laws at the direction of then-candidate Trump.

The violation stemmed from a $130,000 "hush money" payment to adult film star and director Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence about an alleged 2016 affair with Trump.

Mod: A penthouse. It really is just the perfect gift for the man you love.

The Trump Organization Planned To Give Vladimir Putin The $50 Million Penthouse In Trump Tower Moscow (Buzz Feed News link): During the presidential campaign, Michael Cohen discussed the matter with a representative of Putin’s press secretary, according to two US sources. President Donald Trump’s company planned to give a $50 million penthouse at Trump Tower Moscow to Russian President Vladimir Putin as the company negotiated the luxury real estate development during the 2016 campaign, according to four people, one of them the originator of the plan.

Two US law enforcement officials told BuzzFeed News that Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer at the time, discussed the idea with a representative of Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s press secretary.

The Trump Tower Moscow plan is at the heart of a new plea agreement by Cohen, who led the negotiations to bring a gleaming, 100-story building to the Russian capital. Cohen acknowledged in court that he had lied to Congress about the plan in order to protect Trump and his presidential campaign.

The revelation that representatives of the Trump Organization planned to forge direct financial links with the leader of a hostile nation at the height of the campaign raises fresh questions about President Trump's relationship with the Kremlin. The plan never went anywhere because the tower deal ultimately fizzled, and it is not clear whether Trump knew of the intention to give away the penthouse. But Cohen said in court documents that he regularly briefed Trump and his family on the Moscow negotiations.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

AP Fact Check: Entire Trump tweet on immigrant aid is wrong

Mod: Anyone surprised? In the fractured mind of Donald Trump truth is an illegal alien.

AP FACT CHECK: Entire Trump tweet on immigrant aid is wrong (Associated Press link): President Donald Trump is spreading a false claim from supporters that people who are in the United States illegally receive more in federal assistance than the average American gets in Social Security benefits. Everything about the tweet he passed on to his 56 million listed Twitter followers Tuesday is wrong.

TRUMP’s retweet: “Illegals can get up to $3,874 a month under Federal Assistance program. Our social security checks are on average $1200 a month. RT (retweet) if you agree: If you weren’t born in the United States, you should receive $0 assistance.”

THE FACTS: Wrong country, wrong numbers, wrong description of legal status of the recipients. Besides that, immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally do not qualify for most federal benefits, even when they’re paying taxes, and those with legal status make up a small portion of those who use public benefits.

The $3,874 refers to a payment made in Canada, not the U.S., to a legally admitted family of refugees. It was largely a one-time resettlement payment under Canada’s refugee program, not monthly assistance in perpetuity, the fact-checking site Snopes found a year ago in debunking a Facebook post that misrepresented Canada’s policy. A document cited in the Facebook post, showing aid for food, transportation and other basics needs, applied to a family of five.

Apart from confusing Canada with the United States, the tweet distributed by the president misstated how much Americans get from Social Security on average — $1,419 a month for retired workers, not $1,200.

Overall, low-income immigrants who are not yet U.S. citizens use Medicaid, food aid, cash assistance and Supplemental Security Income aid at a lower rate than comparable U.S.-born adults, according to an Associated Press analysis of census data. Noncitizen immigrants make up only 6.5 percent of all those participating in Medicaid, for example.

Despite that, the administration wants to redefine the rules for immigrants to further restrict who can receive benefits and for how long.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Collusionville? Manafort held secret talks with Assange in Ecuadorian embassy, sources say

Apparent Robert Mueller Documents Connect Dots From Trump Camp To Wikileaks - video here
"So let me get this straight: Manafort joins Trump campaign March 2016. Manafort secretly visits Wikileaks Assange in Ecuador, spring 2016. Trump elevates Manafort to Campaign Manager June 2016. In June and July 2016, Wikileaks releases Democratic emails. But ... no collusion?" - George Takei

The Collusion Twins?
Manafort held secret talks with Assange in Ecuadorian embassy, sources say (The Guardian link): Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort held secret talks with Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and visited around the time he joined Trump’s campaign, the Guardian has been told. Sources have said Manafort went to see Assange in 2013, 2015 and in spring 2016 – during the period when he was made a key figure in Trump’s push for the White House.

In a statement, Manafort denied meeting Assange. He said: “I have never met Julian Assange or anyone connected to him. I have never been contacted by anyone connected to WikiLeaks, either directly or indirectly. I have never reached out to Assange or WikiLeaks on any matter.”

It is unclear why Manafort would have wanted to see Assange and what was discussed. But the last apparent meeting is likely to come under scrutiny and could interest Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor who is investigating alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

A well-placed source has told the Guardian that Manafort went to see Assange around March 2016. Months later WikiLeaks released a stash of Democratic emails stolen by Russian intelligence officers.

Manafort, 69, denies involvement in the hack and says the claim is “100% false”. His lawyers initially declined to answer the Guardian’s questions about the visits.

In a series of tweets WikiLeaks said Assange and Manafort had not met. Assange described the story as a hoax.

Manafort was jailed this year and was thought to have become a star cooperator in the Mueller inquiry. But on Monday Mueller said Manafort had repeatedly lied to the FBI, despite agreeing to cooperate two months ago in a plea deal. According to a court document, Manafort had committed “crimes and lies” on a “variety of subject matters”.

Mod: Have Trump's lawyers fallen into a perjury trap? Did Manafort tell them which of his lies seemed to work with the Special Prosecutor, only to now find out that Mueller knew they were lies all along? This after Trump had already supplied Mueller with written answers to his questions?

Manafort’s Lawyer Said to Brief Trump Attorneys on What He Told Mueller (The New York Times link): A lawyer for Paul Manafort, the president’s onetime campaign chairman, repeatedly briefed President Trump’s lawyers on his client’s discussions with federal investigators after Mr. Manafort agreed to cooperate with the special counsel, according to one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers and two other people familiar with the conversations.

The arrangement was highly unusual and inflamed tensions with the special counsel’s office when prosecutors discovered it after Mr. Manafort began cooperating two months ago, the people said. Some legal experts speculated that it was a bid by Mr. Manafort for a presidential pardon even as he worked with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, in hopes of a lighter sentence.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, one of the president’s personal lawyers, acknowledged the arrangement on Tuesday and defended it as a source of valuable insights into the special counsel’s inquiry and where it was headed. Such information could help shape a legal defense strategy, and it also appeared to give Mr. Trump and his legal advisers ammunition in their public relations campaign against Mr. Mueller’s office.

While Mr. Downing’s discussions with the president’s team violated no laws, they helped contribute to a deteriorating relationship between lawyers for Mr. Manafort and Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors, who accused Mr. Manafort of holding out on them despite his pledge to assist them in any matter they deemed relevant, according to the people. That conflict spilled into public view on Monday when the prosecutors took the rare step of declaring that Mr. Manafort had breached his plea agreement by lying to them about a variety of subjects.

Mr. Manafort’s lawyers insisted that their client had been truthful but acknowledged that the two sides were at an impasse. Mr. Manafort will now face sentencing on two conspiracy charges and eight counts of financial fraud — crimes that could put him behind bars for at least 10 years.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Gallup: 60 percent of Americans disapprove of Trump's job performance

Mod: From arguing with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, to screwing off on Veterans' Day, to tear gassing toddlers in diapers, things just never seem to go too smoothly for the crazy president. People are noticing.

Gallup: 60 percent of Americans disapprove of Trump's job performance (The Hill link): Six-in-10 Americans disapprove of President Trump’s job performance, matching an all-time high for his disapproval rating in the Gallup Poll.

A weekly presidential job approval tracker released Monday found that 60 percent of Americans disapprove of Trump’s performance, while 38 percent said they approve as of the week ending Nov. 25.

The president’s disapproval rating has largely hovered in the mid-50 percent range in the Gallup poll, but this week marks the fourth time it has hit 60 percent.

It previously hit that threshold in August 2017 in the aftermath of a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., again in late October 2017 and once more in December 2017 around the time the GOP passed its tax-cut legislation.

The Gallup weekly presidential approval tracker has a margin of error of 3 percentage points, and is based on a survey of roughly 1,500 adults.

The dip in numbers came during the same week that Trump signaled he would not dole out additional punishment against Saudi Arabia or Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

He also clashed with Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts over the 9th Circuit's rulings, and his administration issued a report that contained a dire warning about the effects of climate change.

Obama Willing to Serve as Temp President While Trump Receives Psychiatric Evaluation (Borowitz Report link): Amid concerns about Donald Trump’s fitness to be President, former President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that he was willing to serve as “temp President” while Trump undergoes psychiatric evaluation.

“It would just be a temp thing,” Obama told reporters. “As soon as psychiatrists determine that Donald Trump is mentally stable and fit to serve as the most powerful officeholder in the world, I’d step aside.”

Obama said that he was a “logical choice” to serve as temp President because of his eight years in the White House. “For starters, I know how the light switches work,” he said.

Obama said that, once installed as temp President, he would look after the day-to-day running of the White House: “You know—vetoing bills, naming Supreme Court Justices, that kind of thing.”

Asked how he envisioned his working relationship with Vice-President Mike Pence, Obama said, “I think Mike has been working so darn hard, he really deserves a vacation. Joe Biden has said he’ll fill in for a while."

Monday, November 26, 2018

Trump Lies in Tweet Ripping ‘Fake 60 Minutes’ Episode on Child Separation: ‘I Tried to Keep Them Together’

Mod: Trump's never-ending war on reality continues. Doesn't the fibbing fool know that fact checking exists, and his "whataboutism" just never stands up to examination? But perhaps he really doesn't know the difference. 

Trump Lies in Tweet Ripping ‘Fake 60 Minutes’ Episode on Child Separation: ‘I Tried to Keep Them Together’ ( link): On Sunday, 60 Minutes ran a report on Trump’s family separation policy. Trump quickly replied by calling the segment “fake news.”

60 Minutes did a phony story about child separation when they know we had the exact same policy as the Obama Administration,” Trump wrote. “In fact, a picture of children in jails was used by other Fake Media to show how bad (cruel) we are, but it was in 2014 during O[bama] years. Obama separated children from parents, as did Bush etc.. because that is the policy and law.”

He added: “I tried to keep them together but the problem is, when you do that, vast numbers of additional people storm the Border. So with Obama separation is fine, but with Trump it’s not. Fake 60 Minutes!”

Trump’s tweet repeats a claim made by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and other Trump officials to defend the child separation policy.

Yet, the administration cannot provide statistics to back up their claim that Trump’s policy was the same as Obama’s or other presidents.

In addition, Theresa Cardinal Brown, director of immigration and cross-border policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center noted to that previous administrations used “family detention facilities, allowing the whole family to stay together while awaiting their deportation case in immigration court, or alternatives to detention, which required families to be tracked but released from custody to await their court date,” making it clear Trump’s policy is indeed not the “exact same” policy as Trump claimed in his Sunday night tweet.

Trump lashes out at ’60 Minutes’ after expose on disastrous family separation policy (Raw Story link): President Donald Trump spent his Sunday evening lashing out at the CBS show “60 Minutes” in wake of an expose on the administration’s executive order that resulted in more than 5,000 children being separated from their families.

@60Minutes did a phony story about child separation when they know we had the exact same policy as the Obama Administration,” Trump tweeted. “In fact a picture of children in jails was used by other Fake Media to show how bad (cruel) we are, but it was in 2014 during O years. Obama separated children from parents, as did Bush etc., because that is the policy and law. I tried to keep them together but the problem is, when you do that, vast numbers of additional people storm the Border. So with Obama seperation [sic] is fine, but with Trump it’s not. Fake 60 Minutes!”

Trump frequently says his policy was the same as former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush. It’s factually inaccurate. Trump’s “no tolerance policy” written specifically into his order was the reason so many families were separated. In the Obama case, courts stopped the president from moving forward with his plan. The former president faced a huge influx of migrants coming over the border, while Trump’s numbers are significantly lower. In Trump’s case, he simply decided any migrant or refugee was unacceptable.

According to the chart from Customs and Border Patrol, Trump experienced a huge decline in migrants coming to the United States. Compare him (in orange) with Obama (in blue) below:

One former Homeland Security official revealed in the expose that the White House never even sought their input for tracking the children and ensuring families could be reunited. When they offered to help, the White House ignored them.

Obama is still referred to as “The Deporter-in-Chief” today for his deportations. The president begged Congress to act and pass meaningful immigration reform that would create a pathway to citizenship to those fleeing violence. Trump, by contrast, has been removing anyone, regardless of whether they have a criminal record. Some have even been pillars of their community and business owners.

Victory at the Border, Women and Babies in Retreat

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Palmer Report: Ecuador clears the decks for Robert Mueller to seize Julian Assange

Mod: The traitor propagandized by Russians as being the voice of truth could be sitting in a United States prison very soon. Oh happy days.

Ecuador clears the decks for Robert Mueller to seize Julian Assange (Palmer Report link): Earlier this week, a U.S. Attorney’s Office partnered with Special Counsel Robert Mueller accidentally revealed that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has already been criminally charged. This wasn’t shocking news, but the big question was whether this was “accidentally” done on purpose in order to set things in motion with regard to his potential extradition. Sure enough, Ecuador – which has been shielding Assange for several years – just cleared the decks.

Ecuador has suddenly removed its Ambassador to the United Kingdom, along with essentially every other diplomat who had any kind of relationship with Julian Assange, according to CNN. There’s really only one way to interpret this move: Ecuador is indeed preparing to turn Assange over to the UK, as it has spent the past few months threatening, and it’s smoothing out the process by removing potential Assange allies from the building. So now what?

If Ecuador turns Assange over to the UK, there is every reason to expect that the UK will honor any extradition request from the United States. This would effectively allow Ecuador to turn Assange over to the U.S. for trial, while being able to save face by saying it was technically the UK that made the extradition request.

You have to wonder if Robert Mueller and his allies purposely made that “slip” about Julian Assange this week, as a way of signaling to Ecuador that it was time to give Julian Assange up. If so, it certainly appears to be working, as Ecuador just cleared the decks for Mueller by removing all of its own personnel who might be tempted to protect Assange on his way out the door.

Julian Assange: The house guest who overstayed his welcome? (CNN link): Julian Assange's stay at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London could finally be drawing to a close.

Six years after he fled to the country's diplomatic mission in Knightsbridge, yards from the world-famous Harrods department store, facing extradition to Sweden on sexual assault allegations, the WikiLeaks founder appears to be burning bridges with the only people known to have helped him since then.

The Swedish case may have since been shelved but he's still wanted by British authorities for jumping bail and entering his Ecuadorian refuge in 2012.

Back then, the activist triumphantly praised Ecuador as the "courageous Latin American nation that took a stand for justice." But as the relationship has deteriorated over the years and Ecuador's leadership has changed hands, Assange has found himself in an increasingly precarious position.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Poll: Public fears lawsuit over pre-existing conditions

Mod: Probably the biggest issue for most folks during the 2018 midterm elections was the scam to deny people their healthcare due to "preexisting conditions." There are others in the works, of course. "Medical noncompliance" is another one making the rounds. Example: You didn't do your exercise so the insurance company doesn't have to pay. Interesting things like that. These people do think about ways to beat you out of your healthcare a lot, you know. And they do own a lot of politicians. Many of whom lie about the issue on an almost daily basis.

Poll: Public fears lawsuit over pre-existing conditions (Axios link):

Most Americans are worried about the effects of a lawsuit that could gut the Affordable Care Act's protections for pre-existing conditions — probably because most people have a family member with a pre-existing condition, according to an Axios/SurveyMonkey poll.

Why it matters: A ruling in this case is expected any day, and could immediately turn the campaign-season back-and-forth over pre-existing conditions into an acute crisis for millions of people.

By the numbers: A whopping 88% of those surveyed said it's very important or somewhat important to them that the ACA's protections for pre-existing conditions remain law.

74% — including a majority of Republicans — said they're at least somewhat worried about being able to afford health insurance if those protections vanish.

And 67% said someone in their household has a pre-existing condition.

Where it stands: A federal judge in Texas is expected to rule soon in the lawsuit.

Texas and the Republican attorneys general who brought the suit want the judge to throw out the entire health care law.

The Justice Department says three provisions need to fall: the individual mandate, the requirement that insurers cover people with pre-existing conditions, and the ban on charging higher premiums because of a pre-existing condition.

Although President Trump has pledged to restore those protections if they're struck down, neither he nor his party has ever come up with a comprehensive plan to do so.

Mod: Of course Donny Two-Face has an awfully complicated position on the ACA / pre-existing conditions lawsuit. Which he started but is also against. Or so he is saying this week.

Trump's pre-existing conditions promise clashes with ACA lawsuit (Axios link): President Trump said in an exclusive interview with "Axios on HBO" that he'll reinstate protections for pre-existing conditions if a lawsuit — which his administration supports — guts the Affordable Care Act. But Republicans have never come up with a replacement plan that would offer the same level of protection as the ACA.

Trump also said Attorney General Jeff Sessions didn't give him a heads-up before urging a court to throw out the ACA's provisions on pre-existing conditions. But Sessions has said Trump signed off on the move.

Mod: It's always somebody else's fault with the Big Baby In Chief.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard eviscerates Trump as 'Saudi Arabia's bitch'

Mod: Now that the midterm elections are over and the GOP lost the House by historic margins (see item #2 below), somehow the sense many had of Trump being a highly effective and even omnipotent politician has all but vanished. The result being that people are now speaking their minds in rather unabashed and refreshing ways.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard eviscerates Trump as 'Saudi Arabia's bitch' (NBC News link): Rep. Tulsi Gabbard on Wednesday slammed President Donald Trump as "Saudi Arabia's bitch" in the latest scathing criticism of the commander-in-chief's extraordinary statement this week to stand by the country's rulers despite the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Hawaii Democratic congresswoman made the remarks in a brief and blistering tweet Wednesday afternoon.

"Hey @realdonaldtrump: being Saudi Arabia's bitch is not 'America First,'" wrote Gabbard, a 37-year-old Iraq War veteran who at various points has been considered a rising star in her party.

The tweet was in apparent reference to Trump's exclamation point-filled formal presidential statement Tuesday that his administration would take no actions against Saudi Arabia's rulers regarding the Khashoggi killing — despite NBC News and other reports last week that the CIA concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered Khashoggi's killing.

Trump's statement about Khashoggi, and broader decision to side with Saudi Arabia over his own intelligence agencies, prompted furious criticism from both sides of the aisle.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., on Tuesday tweeted, "I'm pretty sure this statement is Saudi Arabia First, not America First."

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., tweeted Tuesday night, "I never thought I'd see the day a White House would moonlight as a public relations firm for the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia."

Midterm elections: Democrats lead popular vote in House by largest margin in history (The Independent link): Democrats are set to pull off the largest midterm elections victory in history, according to a breakdown of the popular vote in races for the House of Representatives.

The party leads the Republicans by more than 8.9 million votes across the US, raw data compiled by the Cook Political Report, an independent, non-partisan political analysis website.

Previously, the largest margin of victory was 8.7 million, which came in the 1974 midterm elections after the Watergate scandal and Richard Nixon’s resignation.

Only one House result remains undeclared. Democrats trail by fewer than 500 votes in California's 23rd congressional district, where there are 15,000 votes left to be counted.

It means the party is on the brink of flipping 40 seats in the House, reaffirming the emerging assessment that this month’s midterms amounted to a ”blue wave”. As of Thursday, Democratic candidates had polled 59,351,147 votes in House seats across the country in the 2018 midterms, compared to Republicans’ 50,438,143, according to the Cook Political Report.

Democrats are on course for more than 60.5 million ballots in total, the closest an opposition party has come in midterm elections to matching the president’s popular vote two years earlier.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Basted Turkey: Chief Justice John Roberts Raps His Gavel On The Vacant Noggin Of Donald Trump

Mod: Yet another bizarre episode from the deranged daily reality show being acted out at the very highest levels of the Federal government.

Chief Justice Roberts Issues Extraordinary Thanksgiving Rebuke of Trump’s Attacks on the Judiciary (Slate link): Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts issued an exceedingly rare statement Wednesday reaffirming the independence of the American judiciary in response to President Trump’s withering criticism of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. A 9th Circuit judge in Northern California issued a temporary restraining order Tuesday halting the new Trump administration policy that prohibits migrants that enter the country illegally from seeking asylum.

“It’s a disgrace when every case gets filed in the 9th Circuit,” Trump said in a lengthy rant against the court’s decision. “That’s not law. Every case in the 9th Circuit we get beaten and then we end up having to go to the Supreme Court like the travel ban and we won. Every case, no matter where it is, they file is practically, for all intents and purposes, they file it in what’s called the 9th Circuit. This was an Obama judge. I’ll tell you what, it’s not going to happen like this anymore.”

Trump’s outburst is the latest in a series of corrosive presidential attacks on the judiciary over the past nearly two years. As president, Trump has railed against his opponents’ preference for filing lawsuits against his policies in the liberal-leaning 9th Circuit Court of Appeals; during Obama’s presidency many of the Obama administration’s policies were challenged by the right in the conservative-leaning 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The 9th Circuit is the largest federal appellate court in the country, covering Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. There are currently more than twice as many judges appointed by Democratic presidents than Republican ones on the 9th Circuit, 16 judges to 7, but Trump has the opportunity to remake the composition of the court with five nominees to the 9th Circuit with one more vacancy to fill.

Roberts’ comments Wednesday, coming from the Chief Justice, amounted to an extraordinary rebuke of the president’s rhetoric degrading the courts. Trump’s deriding the justice who heard the asylum case as an “Obama judge” seemed to particularly bother Roberts, a George W. Bush appointee, the most.

“We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” Roberts said. “What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.”

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Trump promised California $500 million extra for fire prevention - It was complete BS

Mod: Trump might have forgotten the name of Paradise, CA, and his rake the forest thing did make the whole world laugh. But promise California a half a billion dollars to fight wild fires when that money doesn't even exist? Now that is just wrong.

Trump promised California $500 million extra for fire prevention. It was an error (Sacramento Bee link): After touring the devastation of the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif. on Saturday, President Donald Trump announced that the federal government would provide an additional $500 million in funding to the 2018 farm bill for forest management to help mitigate future fires.

Back in Washington, however, no one seems to know what he’s talking about.

“$500 million. That will be in the farm bill. We just put it in,” Trump told reporters at the Incident Command Post for the Camp Fire in Chico, Calif on Nov. 17. “We have a new category, and that’s management and maintenance of the forests. It’s very important.”

The president repeated the figure during a stop in Malibu, Calif, where the Woolsey Fire has burned roughly 100,000 acres, later the same day. “So we’re putting in the farm bill, $500 million,” Trump said, according to a White House transcript.

“I’m not sure where he got that from,” said one congressional aide, who was not authorized to speak on the record, echoing the sentiment of a number of colleagues on Capitol Hill.

The reality is that there is no such funding provision in the 2018 Farm Bill, which authorizes federal agriculture and land management programs but does not appropriate funds. That requires separate spending legislation, a congressional source familiar with the Farm Bill confirmed.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Sierra Madre California City Manager Says City Will Not Be Raking Its Surrounding Forests

As you may recall from just the other day, President Trump visited the areas afflicted by recent massive wildfires, and boldly proclaimed that had Californians raked their forests like they do in countries like Finland, none of this would have ever happened.

Mr. Trump then assured the concerned nation that the incoming California Governor, Gavin Newsom, had gotten the message and would be taking care of the forest raking problem tuit suite. All 33 million acres of forest.

Curious to see just how this was being handled on the local level, The Sierra Madre Tattler contacted Sierra Madre City Manager Gabe Engeland, and the following exchange ensued.

Tattler: Will Sierra Madre's firetrucks be equipped with leaf rakes?

City Manager Engeland: Ummmm, wow! I had not read any of these quotes, they sound like they came from The Onion.

Tattler: No, that's our boy. So it is safe to say that the SMFD is not going to be raking the woodlands, right?

City Manager Engeland: Yes, that is a safe assumption.

Needless to say, here at The Tattler we are very concerned, and will be contacting the appropriate Federal officials this morning.

Smokey disagrees with the City Manager
Finns Take To Twitter After President's Claim They Rake Their Forests—'We're All At It' (Newsweek link): Thousands of miles across the Atlantic, people in Finland are making a mockery out of President Donald Trump after the U.S. leader called on Americans to be more like Finns and take care of their forest floors by "raking and cleaning and doing things."

The president made the comments during a trip to survey the damage wrought by the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, asserting that Americans have "gotta take care of the floors, you know, the floors of the forest."

“You look at other countries where they do it differently and it’s a whole different story,” Trump said.

“I was with the president of Finland and he said: ‘We have a much different—we’re a forest nation.’ He called it a forest nation, and they spent a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things. And they don’t have any problem.”

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö addressed Trump's comments head-on on Sunday, asserting that he never touted the country's forest "raking and cleaning" skills.

“I mentioned [to] him that Finland is a land covered by forests and we also have a good monitoring system and network,” Niinistö reportedly told Ilta-Sanomat, Finland's second-largest newspaper. He also recalled telling Trump that Finns "take care of our forests."

While Niinistö might have had a diplomatic response to Trump's comments, residents of Finland have not held back, taking to social media to mock Trump over his "raking" comments with a new "#RakeAmericaGreatAgain" hashtag.

"Here I am just #raking around as all us #finns do to prevent forest fires," one Twitter user, Lida Korhonen wrote, sharing a gif of a group of people raking leaves.

Monday, November 19, 2018

President Trump attacks Navy SEALs, admiral in charge for not killing Osama Bin Laden sooner

video link

Mod: Apparently the unhinged Cadet Bonespurs has a malignant case of draft dodger's envy for the accomplishments of real military heroes, and is on the attack once again.

President Trump attacks Navy SEALs, admiral in charge for not killing Osama Bin Laden sooner (New York Daily News link): President Trump, who last week said he was too busy to visit Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day, lashed out Sunday against Navy SEALs and the admiral who led them for taking too long to find Osama Bin Laden.

“Frankly, wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that? Wouldn’t it have been nice? You know, living — think of this — living in Pakistan, beautifully in Pakistan in what I guess they considered a nice mansion. I don’t know, I’ve seen nicer,” Trump said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”

“But living in Pakistan right next to the military academy, everybody in Pakistan knew he was there, and we give Pakistan $1.3 billion a year, and they don’t tell him?”

The President was responding to retired admiral and Navy SEAL William McRaven, who said Trump has “embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation” and called his attacks on the media “the greatest threat to democracy,” Trump slammed McRaven as a “Hilary Clinton backer and an Obama backer.”

“I did not back Hillary Clinton or anyone else,” McRaven said in a statement to CNN.

“I am a fan of President Obama and President George W. Bush, both of whom I worked for. I admire all Presidents, regardless of their political party, who uphold the dignity of the office and who use that office to bring the Nation together in challenging times. I stand by my comment that the President's attack on the media is the greatest threat to our democracy in my lifetime. When you undermine the people's right to a free press and freedom of speech and expression, then you threaten the Constitution and all for which it stands.”

Retired general calls Trump 'a failure' after president slams Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden (Raw Story link): Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling on Sunday said that President Donald Trump’s treatment of a retired Navy admiral is “disgusting” after the president claimed that the former SEAL had taken too long to kill Osama bin Laden. During an interview with Fox News, Trump lashed out at retired Navy Admiral William H. McRaven, who lead the effort to take down the terrorist mastermind.

“He’s a Hillary Clinton backer!” the president insisted. “It would be nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner.”

Hertling later told CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield that Trump had insulted a “true servant” of the U.S. Constitution. “I’d use one word,” Hertling said. “And that’s ‘disgusting.’ You know, everyone knows Bill McRaven as being the guy that led the bin Laden raid.”

“Having someone like the president of the United States, a man that holds an office that’s supposed to represent all people and who says he supports the military, to just dismiss this great American hero as a guy who was a Hillary Clinton lover, which is patently not true, is just really disgusting,” he explained.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Trump Says Finland Doesn't Have California Wildfires Problem ‘They Spent A Lot Of Time On Raking'

Mod: Well, we now have a solution to the problem of forest fires, and it looks like it's on you. Grab a rake.

Donald Trump Says Finland Doesn't Have California Wildfires Problem Because ‘They Spent A Lot Of Time On Raking' (Newsweek link): In a press conference Saturday afternoon in Northern California President Donald Trump did not blame climate change for the deadliest wildfire the nation has seen in a century, but said instead that Finland doesn’t have the same problem because “they spend a lot of time on raking” leaves.

"You’ve got to take care of the floors. You know the floors of the forest, very important. You look at other countries where they do it differently and it’s a whole different story,” Trump said standing next to California Governor Jerry Brown and Governor-elect Gavin Newsom.

“I was with the president of Finland and he said, ‘We have a much different—we're a forest nation.’ He called it a forest nation, and they spent a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things,” Trump said, making a moving motion with his hand. “And they don't have any problem.”

The president continued: “And when it is, it’s a very small problem, so I know everybody is looking at it to that end and it’s going to work out, it’s going to work out well.”

Trump before that said, “I know Gavin’s committed, we’re all committed, I’m committed to make sure that we get all of this cleaned out and protected,” in reference to the California Democratic leaders he has often clashed with.

Trump brought up the same point about the need to rake leaves in an interview with Fox NewsChris Wallace set to air Sunday.

“I was watching the firemen the other day and they were raking areas, they were raking areas where the fire was right over there,” the president complained in a clip. “And they’re raking trees, little trees like this that are not trees, little bushes that you could see are totally dry. Weeds. And they’re raking them, they’re on fire. That should have been all raked out. You wouldn’t have the fires.”

When asked about the argument that climate change could have contributed to the wildfires, Trump downplayed it.

“Maybe it contributes a little bit,” Trump told Wallace. “The big problem we have is management.”

The Camp Fire in Butte County has killed at least 71 people since it started as a vegetation fire on November 8, becoming the deadliest wildfire in the United States in 100 years. More than 1,000 people were missing and 148,000 acres were burned. As of Saturday morning, it was 55 percent contained.

A week ago Trump threatened on Twitter to take federal funds away from California if the state did not change its forestry management practices. His comments were criticized as incorrect by firefighters and other officials and experts.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Trump's Paranoia: Trump alarms his confidantes with questions about Mike Pence's loyalty

Mod: Down in the bunker Trump hires and fires for the most dubious reasons. Most of them based on his voracious need for unabashed approval from all who surround him. And nobody has been more cognizant of the wants of this needy man than Mike Pence. However ...

Trump privately asking aides if Pence is loyal: report (The Hill link): President Trump has privately asked aides about his vice president Mike Pence's loyalty, The New York Times reported Friday. Trump reportedly questioned Pence's allegiance so many times that many of his advisers are alarmed, as those kinds of inquiries tend to indicate that he is irritated with someone.

According to the Times, most people within the White House have been supportive of Pence when asked, but some of Trump's outside advisers have suggested that the vice president may have used up his utility.

Trump has reportedly not made it clear whether he is seriously considering a 2020 ticket change or whether he is simply trying to get advisers' opinions before the campaign begins.

The Times noted that some outside advisers have suggested outgoing United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley as a potential replacement for Pence. Trump praised Haley when she announced her intentions to leave her post at the U.N. in October. At a press conference earlier this month, Trump asked Pence to be his 2020 running mate in an impromptu exchange.

"Well I haven’t asked him, but I hope so," Trump said.

"Mike, will you be my running mate?" he added, calling on Pence to stand up.

The vice president nodded his head in affirmation as some White House staff in the room applauded. It is not clear if this was an official announcement that the two would run together again.

A representative from the White House did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment. Deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley told the Hill that Trump “absolutely supports the vice president and thinks he’s doing an incredible job helping to carry out the mission and policies of this administration.”

Bill Kristol Tears Acting AG Matt Whitaker Apart: 'Manifestly Unqualified Political Hack' (Mediate link): Weekly Standard editor at large and staunch Never-Trump conservative Bill Kristol absolutely went in on acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker Thursday. In a late-afternoon tweet, the neoconservative political analyst went ALL CAPS to bash President Donald Trump‘s interim pick to lead the Justice Department.

“It’s a problem that a non-Senate confirmed individual is acting as attorney general. It’s a problem that the acting AG didn’t recuse himself on Mueller,” Kristol wrote. “But above all it’s a problem that a manifestly unqualified political hack is acting as ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES.”

The controversy continues to swirl around Whitaker who — as Kristol noted — was not confirmed by the Senate for his most recent post as chief of staff to former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Whitaker has come under scrutiny for promoting products from a company called World Patent Marketing — which has been accused of defrauding its customers. He has also been an outspoken critic of special counsel Robert Mueller‘s probe.

Friday, November 16, 2018

In a 'self-defeating and self-incriminating' slipup, Trump just indicated he installed Matthew Whitaker to kill the Russia probe

Mod: The old boy is losing it.

In a 'self-defeating and self-incriminating' slipup, Trump just indicated he installed Matthew Whitaker to kill the Russia probe (Business Insider link): In a 'self-defeating and self-incriminating' slipup, Trump just indicated he installed Matthew Whitaker to kill the Russia probe.

"What is so unusual about Trump is that he publicly forecasts his motivation in a way that is self-defeating and self-incriminating," Elie Honig, a former prosecutor from the Southern District of New York who specialized in organized-crime cases, told INSIDERJeffrey Cramer, a longtime former federal prosecutor who spent 12 years at the DOJ, echoed that assessment.

"The president's knee-jerk pivot to talking about the Russia investigation when asked about Whitaker's qualification is what poker players call a 'tell,'" Cramer told INSIDER.

The most difficult thing for investigators to prove in an obstruction-of-justice case is corrupt intent on the part of the defendant.

"Sometimes you get lucky and get emails or wiretapped phone calls ... where the subject might secretly or privately admit intent," Honig said. "Other times the prosecutor simply must argue intent to the jury based on circumstantial evidence. With Trump, however, we have a subject who openly and publicly and unapologetically announces why he takes certain steps, even when those reasons might give rise to criminal liability."

Thursday, November 15, 2018

It Was A Big, Blue Wave: Democrats Pick Up Most House Seats In A Generation

Mod: After two years of very strange antics from the reality television star currently occupying the White House, the voters were ready for change. They turned out in large numbers to deliver it. And yes, votes are still being counted, despite the efforts of some.

It Was A Big, Blue Wave: Democrats Pick Up Most House Seats In A Generation (NPR link): Votes are still being counted in several House races. But the AP has now called another race in New Jersey, projecting Democrat Andy Kim the winner in the suburban Philadelphia 3rd Congressional District over incumbent Republican Tom MacArthur. That means, more than a week after Election Day, Democrats have increased their House gains to a net of 34 seats — and, when all the vote is counted, they may get to 39. Make no mistake: That is a very big wave.

How big? It's the most House seats gained by Democrats since the wave election following Watergate. President Richard Nixon resigned in August 1974, leading to Democrats' pickup of 49 seats that fall.

In 2006, the last time Democrats took over the House, when George W. Bush was president and the Iraq war was spiraling into civil war, Democrats gained 30 seats. They picked up 26 more in 2008, when Barack Obama was elected president. What's more, this cycle's seats are far more gerrymandered to favor Republicans than those were.

The polls got it right. Democrats currently lead on the national House ballot by 7 percentage points, according to data compiled by David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report. The final NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll a week before the election had Democrats with a +9 advantage with likely voters (+6 with registered voters), well within the margin of error of the final result. The RealClearPolitics final congressional ballot average was Democrats +7.3. The current exact number is +7.1, and that is expected to climb as more votes in California are counted.

Trump, stung by midterms, retreats into cocoon of bitterness and resentment (The Sydney Morning Herald link): For weeks before the midterm elections, an ebullient US President Donald Trump travelled relentlessly to hold raise-the-rafters campaign rallies - sometimes three a day - in states where his presence was likely to help Republicans on the ballot. But his mood has apparently changed as he has taken measure of the electoral backlash that voters delivered on November 6.

With the certainty that the incoming Democratic House majority will go after his tax returns and investigate his actions, and the likelihood of additional indictments by special counsel Robert Mueller, Trump has retreated into a cocoon of bitterness and resentment, say multiple administration sources.

Behind the scenes, they say, the President has lashed out at several aides, from junior press assistants to senior officials.

"He's furious," one administration official said. "Most staffers are trying to avoid him."

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, painted a picture of a brooding President "trying to decide who to blame" for the Republicans' election losses, even as he publicly and implausibly continues to claim victory.

White House chief of staff John Kelly and secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, who are close allies, "seem to be on their way out", the official said, noting recent leaks on the subject.

However, the official cautioned that personnel decisions are never final until Trump himself tweets out the news - often just after the former reality TV star who's famous for saying "You're fired!" has directed Kelly to so inform the individual.

And last week's Wall Street Journal report confirming Trump's central role during the 2016 campaign in quietly arranging pay-offs for two women alleging affairs with him seemed to put him in an even worse mood, said a source outside the White House who has recently spoken to the President.