Sunday, March 19, 2017

Letter From the Original HHH

Thanks Maggie! I was thinking of writing a letter on the firing of Preet Bharara and you made it so much easier.

So President Trump fired Attorney Bharara. Who cares? I do not know if Mr. Bharara is Muslim or not. Maybe everyone is trying to being politically correct.

Not everyone. She certainly isn't. For the record, his father was Sikh and his mother was Hindu. I believe his grandmother was Dutch, though. 

I thought I saw this linked at TPM yesterday. Couldn't find it today. In any case, lots of good stuff in it: Info and links and such. 

Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who was removed from his post by the Trump administration last week, was overseeing an investigation into stock trades made by the president’s health secretary, according to a person familiar with the office.

Martha Stewart should be pissed

Friday, March 17, 2017

Monday, March 13, 2017

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Two Letters to Elise Today

Just got time to link to them.

Sue Elliot

Stephen Baratta

Thanks folks, keep those fan letters to our rep coming!

Patient-Centered, Market-Driven?

Not so much.

To address this lack of price transparency,  the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) during the Obama administration launched a public database of charges by doctors, hospitals, drug companies and other providers.  You can find it here. If you are a professional researcher, you might be able to figure out which hospital in Minneapolis has the lowest posted price for a heart transplant or any of 100 other of the most common procedures.

If Republicans really wanted patients to take more responsibility for their health care, they would fix all that — fix it by insisting that doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and other providers make all their prices for all classes of customers readily available at the front desk and on their websites. But if you look through the 123 pages of the Republicans’ American Health Care Act that was rammed through two House committees this week before anyone could digest it, there’s nothing about any of that.

Nor is any mention of quality metrics. Obama’s Affordable Care Act included a big push for the government to do what is known as “outcomes research,” using millions of patient records to determine what operations, what drugs, what tests were most effective in treating various conditions. But at the insistence of Republicans, researchers cannot consider price in their analysis, making it impossible to determine which offers the best value. The Republican bill leaves this prohibition in place. What it does do, however, is to repeal the small tax on group health insurance that funds outcomes research.

Yeah, I think it's more about giving rich folks tax breaks. 

Virginia is for Traffickers

Time for a national gun policy.

“There’s no limit to how many guns I can go buy from the store. I can go get 20 guns from the store tomorrow. . . . I can do that Monday through Friday. . . . They might start looking at me, but in Virginia, our laws are so little, I can give guns away.” 

Out Like Flynn

Michael Flynn is the gift that will keep giving for awhile. And thank God and Greyhound he's gone.

Flynn’s work potentially benefiting Turkey meant he was representing the interests of a country other than the United States at the same time he was advising Trump on foreign policy during the election.

Flynn’s firm was paid more than $500,000 by Inovo for public relations and research work, including looking into exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who resides in Pennsylvania. His extradition is being sought by Turkey, which has accused him of fomenting a coup attempt last year.

Flynn wrote an op-ed on Nov. 8 for the Hill newspaper in which he called for Gulen’s extradition — a controversial diplomatic issue for the United States.

“The primary bone of contention between the U.S. and Turkey is Fethullah Gülen, a shady ­Islamic mullah residing in Pennsylvania whom former president Clinton once called his ‘friend’ in a well circulated video,” Flynn wrote.

“Gülen portrays himself as a moderate, but he is in fact a radical Islamist,” he wrote.

I believe the adjective shady could apply to Flynn as well as being a radical who portrays himself as a moderate. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Super Crooks of Russia

Wanted to at least link to this story.

“Medvedev can steal so much and so openly because Putin does the same, only on a grander scale; because everyone in government does the same, because the judges and the prosecutors and the special services are also doing the same. . . . The system is so rotten that there is nothing healthy left.”

The Trump administration, which has been backed up by Russian propaganda outlets in denouncing reports on its own activities as “fake news,” can hardly be expected to assist courageous dissidents such as Mr. Navalny in exposing truths about the Kremlin. But other Western governments and nongovernmental organizations should do what they can to help. Disseminating evidence of Mr. Putin’s corruption would be an appropriate response to Russia’s disinformation campaigns in the West.

Now More Catherine Rampell

I linked to this column in the last post, but it was already filling up the internet.

The ratings and analytics firm S&P Global has ballparked the number of people who would lose their insurance at 6 million to 10 million; others have offered figures as high as 15 million and 20 million. Meanwhile, a group of health researchers calculated that the bill would increase costs for enrollees on the individual insurance market by, on average, more than $1,500 per year when it would take effect, and by more than $2,400 per year by 2020.

Oh, and the Medicare trust fund would be exhausted by 2024, according to Brookings Institution researchers.

For those keeping score, that means fewer people would have insurance, those who get insurance on the exchanges would pay a higher price for it and Medicare's solvency would be jeopardized as a bonus.

Yes, I liked that info so much I'm putting it up twice. I was going to look up this bit of hyperbole utter bullshit today. Thanks Ms. Rampell. 

"lower costs, expand choices, increase competition and ensure health-care access for all Americans."

Why would I want to look that up? This WP editorial today brought it to mind.

No one can accuse Donald Trump of campaigning in poetry. But after just one week in the White House, the new president is bumping up against the hard reality of governing in prose.

Many of the sweeping actions President Trump vowed this week through his executive orders and proclamations are unlikely to happen, either because they are impractical, opposed by Congress and members of his Cabinet, or full of legal holes.

The reality — that yawning gap between what Trump says he will do and what he can do — underscores his chaotic start, which includes executive actions drafted by close aides rather than experts and without input from the agencies tasked with implementing those actions. 


Today on ACA R and R

That's not rest and relaxation. Words from the guv.

“Healthcare experts across the country have rejected the Republican plan outright citing the devastating impact on patients ... Health care is a human right, not a luxury,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a Thursday afternoon statement. “After seven years of progress under the Affordable Care Act, the Republican Congress has proposed an inadequate, ill-conceived and unacceptable plan that places the coverage of more than one million New Yorkers in jeopardy. Once fully phased in, (the plan) would shift more than $2.4 billion in costs onto taxpayers and hospitals each year,” he said.

“This plan is a direct assault on New York values (by) defunding Planned Parenthood, restricting access to abortion and reproductive health services, and eliminating $400 million in means tested credits that lowered insurance costs for low-income New Yorkers,” Cuomo said.

“As bad as this bill is, it may get worse. Far-right opponents of the bill in Congress are demanding changes. As disturbing and devastating as the proposed cuts would be, the final result could be downright bone chilling,” he said. “New York’s entire delegation – democrats and republicans – need to stand up and they need to fight, stand against this regressive plan, and protect the people they are sworn to represent. There is no going back.”

Good news if you're from NY or VT.

For older individuals in other states, the AHCA proposes a premium cap for older individuals at five times that of a younger person. For someone currently paying $3,000 a year, their premium could increase up to $15,000.

But in New York State, that will not happen, said Long.

“In New York and Vermont, they have to charge the same premium for all ages,” she said. “I don’t see anything in the AHCA that pre-empts that. So it won’t have as big an impact on people living in New York.”

Response to a wingnut commenter.

Cuomo is afraid of the changes to Medicaid - block grants will force him to make hard decisions.

It's not Cuomo that's going to be hurt by it. 

The ACA is unsustainable and has failed to achieve its goals. 

So, Republicans are either going to repeal it with no replacement at all. Or it's going to stay in place because they are never going to be able to agree on a replacement. Isn't that obvious? What they have is not going to cause enough low income people to lose insurance and enough tax breaks for the wealthy for the Freedom Caucus. So, they have to change it for them. And it's already too onerous to make it through the Senate. 

The only hope is a market driven system. 

Does that actually even mean anything? 

Government run healthcare is dangerous on multiple levels. 

Response to a wingnut spokesman.

We encourage everyone to read the plan at and to contact our office with their thoughts.”

I went and took a look at it and decided I wasn't going to read 123 pages of gibberish that wasn't ever going to come to fruition anyway. I'll wait for CBO on Monday. Until then I'll read Catherine Rampell

The ratings and analytics firm S&P Global has ballparked the number of people who would lose their insurance at 6 million to 10 million; others have offered figures as high as 15 million and 20 million. Meanwhile, a group of health researchers calculated that the bill would increase costs for enrollees on the individual insurance market by, on average, more than $1,500 per year when it would take effect, and by more than $2,400 per year by 2020.

Oh, and the Medicare trust fund would be exhausted by 2024, according to Brookings Institution researchers.

For those keeping score, that means fewer people would have insurance, those who get insurance on the exchanges would pay a higher price for it and Medicare's solvency would be jeopardized as a bonus. 

You gotta love market driven solutions.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Wingnut Letter Day

My joy from the other day's 7 letters from sane, well-adjusted folks has been tempered somewhat by this letter today. It's not so much that he writes in support of Elise. I could understand doing that.

I’m writing in reply to the recent coverage of the protests that took place outside Congresswoman Elise Stefanik’s office in Glens Falls. I’m familiar with this George Soros (the billionaire) backed group having gone through the same thing when I ran the Glens Falls office for Congressman Chris Gibson. 

Yes, he started right off with move.on. And did anyone realize that Soros is a billionaire. A real one, not like the one in the WH.

Based on her votes, Congressional Quarterly ranked Congresswoman Stefanik among the most independent bipartisan members of Congress ranking her 21st most independent out of 435. Isn’t this what most of us want? 

Bullshit. And no that's not what I want. I live in a district that voted for Clinton twice, Gore, Kerry and Obama twice. I want a Democratic representative, preferably not a Blue Dog. 

When Chris Gibson was in office he too was ranked one of the most independent bipartisan members, but doesn’t care about that. They only care these fine representatives are Republicans and goes after them.

Twice for move.on.

So what is the issue here with Ms. Stefanik? It isn’t a vote. is trying to say she is not accessible to constituents.

That's three.

We don’t need this George Soros backed group here in the North Country stirring the pot. It’s time moves on.

That's four and he ends with a witty little pun. Maybe that's a punny little wit. OK, I'm officially scared of move.on and will check under the bed and in the closet before tucking in tonight. Oh, and I almost forgot. It's pretty likely that many of the folks protesting Elise Stefanik have no idea who George Soros or move. on are. Guess I should be grateful he didn't say they were getting paid. 

Statement From Elise on CAHCA

Shaw, I liked CAHCA so much I'm stealing it. I'm going with Crappy American Health Care Act, tho.

“Congresswoman Stefanik believes we need to repeal and replace Obamacare with common-sense reforms that lower costs and increase access for families in our district. 

I'll just put up the comment I left.

“Congresswoman Stefanik believes we need to repeal and replace Obamacare with common-sense reforms that lower costs and increase access for families in our district. 

OK, I really hate that common-sense adjective. Saying it doesn't make it so. Did the Republicans consult with anyone in coming up with this plan? It seems to be universally loathed

While conservatives complained that these changes don’t go far enough, they have sparked criticism not just from Democrats but from moderate Republicans, AARP, the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association. “We cannot support the AHCA as drafted because of the expected decline in health insurance coverage and the potential harm it would cause to vulnerable patient populations,” James L. Madara, chief executive of the American Medical Association and a doctor, wrote in a letter to committee leaders overseeing work on the bill. Richard Pollack, CEO of the American Hospital Association, voiced similar fears, saying efforts to “restructure the Medicaid program” by shifting it from an entitlement program to one based on a per capita allocation “will have the effect of making significant reductions in a program that provides services for our most vulnerable populations and already pays providers significantly less than the cost of providing care.” 

How does she know it's going to lower cost and increase access? They didn't even wait for the CBO analysis. Yeah, I know the WH is saying CBO numbers can't be trusted. I trust them a lot more than I do Trump, Ryan or Stefanik.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Feeling Safer Already

Pretty sure that Great Wall of Trump isn't going to protect us from everything the Coast Guard, TSA and FEMA were going to.

Overall, the Department of Homeland Security would get a 6 percent boost to its budget, to $43.8 billion, according to documents obtained by reporters. But the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is reportedly seeking significant cuts to the budgets of the Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which oversees the national response to disasters. 

Here's someone not feeling safer.

"It is ignorant of what constitutes national security," said retired Adm. James Loy, a former Coast Guard commandant who served as deputy Homeland Security secretary and TSA administrator under former-President George W. Bush, to Politico. "They simply don’t understand the equation."

And someone who backed an idiot for president who doesn't like it either.

"[A]s preparations are made for a wall on the Southwest border, migrants, smugglers and potential terrorists will look to America’s shores and waterways for entry," writes Rep. Duncan Hunter (R) of California, one of Trump's earliest backers, in an opinion piece for Fox News. "Absent a strong Coast Guard, America will be less safe and President Trump’s ambition to fully reconstitute the military and enhance security will go unmet."

Have we all forgotten that Mexico is going to pay for it?

Wednesday Links on GOPcare

Wash Post editorial:

Adding to this irresponsible picture, Republicans are poised to mark up their bill without a full analysis from the Congressional Budget Office of its budgetary impact or — crucially — of how many people the proposal would (or would not) cover.

On the latter question, there is ample reason for concern. The bill would substantially reduce the amount of assistance that low-income people get to buy coverage on the individual insurance market, it would ramp up how much more insurers can charge older people relative to younger people, and it would remove Obamacare’s crucial link between actual insurance costs and the federal assistance people get. Combined, these changes would push many needy people out of the individual insurance market. Republicans claim that Americans would have more flexibility in the sorts of insurance plans on offer, including cheaper “catastrophic-only” health-care policies, but that sort of coverage, with its high deductibles and limited benefits, is hardly useful to people barely scraping by now under Obamacare’s much more generous system.

Andy Slavitt:

First, the tax-credit structure in the bill would not only make health care less affordable for millions, particularly those over 55, it would also destabilize the insurance markets. The ACA pegs tax credits to income levels and, when premiums rise, those tax credits rise along with them, protecting consumers against regional differences and sudden increases in medical costs. 

Second, the bill drops the individual mandate. About as unpopular as vegetables are with my kids, the mandate for individuals to buy insurance nevertheless keeps premiums lower for everyone. Adding a surcharge of 30 percent for those who decide to sign up for coverage after a gap may hurt more than it would help, as it would disproportionately attract sicker people. 

But the most lasting effects of this bill would be the significant steps it took toward forcing permanent changes to Medicaid and Medicare. The Medicaid changes are more obvious and dangerous. First, the bill would effectively end the popular and largely bipartisan Medicaid expansion created by the ACA, which extended care to millions of working Americans. Dropping the federal funding contribution for new enrollees after 2020 — and violating a promise the federal government made to the states — would rapidly end the expansion. In today’s world, taking away funding for such a program is the same as killing it; it’s just a different weapon.

Medicare doesn’t escape unscathed either. The bill would cut several years from the life of the Medicare trust fund, but that’s clearly no accident: The program would wind up right where “entitlement hawks” such as House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) want it — in crisis. If this bill became law, the speaker would finally be positioned to change Medicare to a voucher program.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Natives are Restless

My morning paper had such a wonderful bevy of letters.

Matthew Dorgan:

During Mr. Trump's speech to CPAC this week he said, in reference to the people who have the gall to think they should be allowed to speak to their elected officials, "They're not us." Judging from the events locally this past week it seems the Incredible Vanishing Congresswoman is in full agreement. 

Long-time reader, first-time writer? Could be. In any case, keep up the good work. 

Since I am being treated for cancer and my spouse resides in a nursing home with dementia, my very serious concerns for health care might be uppermost in my mind, were it not for what I consider to be a much greater threat — the one that Donald Trump poses to our democracy.

Ms. Eissenberg is another first-timer. Blessings and prayers to her and her husband. 

Just reading today's Post-Star regarding the remarks made by the jogging stranger.  Let this stranger also add her praise to you and all journalists who are doing their jobs under very trying conditions today to hold steady and to protect the constitutional rights for a free press. Please don't let your guard down. Thank you.

And yet another first-timer all the way from Florida. That was her whole letter. Short and sweet. Wish I could make  mine that succinct. 

I would like to congratulate Congresswoman Elise Stefanik for successfully hiding from her constituents during this congressional recess. This is another proud moment for Republicans who find that their actual policies are somewhat unpopular.

Yes, Mr. Busteed is another first-timer. Ring that bell! Definitely read the rest of his letter.

We have been urged by President Trump to be many things. Be alert, be vigilant, be angry, be fearful, be prepared, be armed. The list goes on and on. But there are some words we never hear. Among them are: be caring, be compassionate, be empathetic, be open-minded, be sympathetic, be loving.

Mr. Krantz is a veteran and long-time curmudgeon as I am. Keep up the good work Mr. Krantz.

Elise Stefanik has announced her plan to sidestep public meetings and instead have private meetings with lucky few participants to have their voices heard. This is a thinly veiled attempt to avoid providing the same public forum for dissent when Ms. Stefanik does not agree with the dissenters. I wish to lend my voice in calling out Ms. Stefanik for failing to deal with the concerns of the public in an open and honest way. I also wish to encourage the protesters outside of each of Ms. Stefanik’s offices to not let up and continue to voice your concerns as publicly and loudly as possible in growing numbers, because she may not meet with you, but she cannot help but hear you. I’ll be joining you.

Mr. Moon is another vet and the only writer who didn't upset spell-check. Congrats for that Mr. Moon.

We all need work — to survive, to have worth and dignity. The question: what to do when the place where we live (and often love) no longer provides work we know (and want).  Families from Appalachia migrated to Baltimore and Detroit; small farms in the Midwest consolidated into industrialized farms; factories in mill towns in New England shut down; coal mines closed, unable to compete financially with natural gas, coal’s pollution threatening our health and earth. People buying online harms small local businesses and many leave for larger cities. Change. Towns (and cities) are challenged to find ways of surviving and thriving.

Saved the best for last and that's no shame for the other writers. If you only go to read one of these, read the rest of this letter. Bernice writes often and writes well. 

Some folks are fired up!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Eternal Optimists Have to Stick Together

Don't miss the photo that accompanies this story. I listened on the radio and was spitting and cursing. We all handle utter disbelief and shock of the Trump presidency differently, though.

The gist of the article is that there is only so much damage that Trump can do. Thank God. That's still no reason that in 2018 every Republican available should be sent packing to K Street or Heritage or Betty Ford in the case of John Sweeney.

He can’t hold back the one true inevitability in demographic change: the replacement of older generations by newer ones. Underappreciated in November’s election was the continuing leftward lean of young voters, once again supporting the Democratic candidate by around 20 points — and with younger millennials, including both college-educated and noncollege whites, even more pro-Democratic than older ones. That is huge. And don’t expect these voters to shift right as they age. Political science research shows that early voting patterns tend to stick.

Another locus of disquiet, if not hysteria, on the left is the environment. But consider this: In 1969, the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught fire; in 1979, when Obama was attending college in Los Angeles and remembers constant smog, there were 234 days when the city exceeded federal ozone standards. Our water and air are now orders of magnitude cleaner than they were back then.

I know I'm feeling better. I read another article somewhere pointing out how the coal industry is shrinking. So, there's only going to be so much coal debris to go into those streams in West Virginia. 

It's Just Another Manic Monday

Here's an article that nicely explains how hard it is to get a wiretap. How hard is it? Pretty fuckin' hard!

"Both criminal and foreign intelligence wiretaps have onerous and strict processes of approval that require not only multiple levels of internal Justice Department review, but also require court review and approval," said Matthew Waxman, an expert on national security law at Columbia University.

And a nice column by E.J. Dionne

This saga also reminds us that a crowd claiming to place "America First" does not really believe its own slogan. They place only about half of America first, the part that opposed Obama and supported Trump. When it comes to the other half, they feel only contempt.

This is why Russian interference in our democracy appears to matter far less to Trump than saving his own skin. It's also why he could compare Obama unfavorably to a foreign autocrat during the 2016 campaign.

And Margaret Sullivan pointing out that it has gone from first we kill all the lawyers to first we kill all the journalists. Here she is on Trump and his idol Vlad

Trump’s admiration for Putin becomes even more troubling when paired with his own moves to stamp out independent journalism through disparagement, denial of access, favoritism and blacklisting.

“For Putin, there has been no greater obsession in controlling the culture than in controlling the media,” Simon said.

For America under Trump, that’s a cautionary tale.

Josh Marshall provides a laugh from Kellyanne:

Conway was asked during an appearance on "Fox and Friends" how Trump knew that his phones had been tapped by President Barack Obama. Trump made the explosive, unsubstantiated claim in a series of tweets Saturday.

"Let me answer that globally," she said. "He is the President of the United States. He has information and intelligence that the rest of us do not. And that's the way it should be for Presidents."

I'm proud to announce that the blog has received our certification as a member of the Deep State. The privilege is the honor. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Elise Wants to See Trump's Returns, But Not Much

I'll give Ken Tingley a big bouquet for this.

Back in October, Rep. Elise Stefanik said presidential candidate Donald Trump should release his tax returns.

That was good to hear.

Earlier this week, Democrats in Congress used an obscure parliamentary move to force a vote calling on Trump to release his tax returns. They reasoned those documents could aid ongoing investigations into potential links between the president, his associates and Russia.

The House voted 229-185 against forcing the president to release his tax returns.

Rep. Stefanik voted with the rest of the Republicans.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Rough Draft Letter

     I’d like to respond to Rep. Stefanik’s assessment of the president’s address to Congress as unifying and optimistic. I realize she belongs to his party and has to say nice things, besides, she doesn’t want to be a Twitter target. I’ll agree it was more upbeat than the carnage speech at the inauguration.
     I’d be interested to know what she found unifying, though. At the beginning, he devoted 51 words to the threats to JCC’s, vandalism of Jewish cemeteries and the murder of Srinivas Kuchibhotla in Kansas. The president did not mention his name. I’m sure it’s difficult to pronounce. Being president of everyone in this country obliges him to make the effort.
     At his recent press conference he was asked about recent anti-Semitism. He was dismissive of the Jewish reporter and ordered him to sit down. Later he suggested the acts were done by his political opponents. The afternoon of  the address he suggested to Pennsylvania’s AG that the attacks may be perpetuated by Jewish people to make “others look bad.”

     Numerous studies show immigrants, legal or illegal, commit crimes at lower rates than native-born Americans. Despite that, Trump is calling for a new agency at DHS to collect data on crimes by undocumented immigrants. Immigrants are more apt to be victims. Address problems that actually exist and the money to the CDC to study gun deaths.
Final Draft
     I'd like to respond to Rep. Stefanik's assessment of the president's address to Congress as unifying and optimistic. I realize he's the leader of her party and she has to say nice things. That, and she doesn't want to become a Twitter target. I will agree it was more upbeat than the carnage speech at the inauguration.
     I'd be interested to know what she found unifying. At the beginning, he devoted all of 51 words to the threats to Jewish community centers, desecration of Jewish cemeteries and the murder of Srinivas Kuchibhotla in Kansas. The president did not mention his name. I realize it's difficult to pronounce. Being president of everyone in this country obliges him to make the effort. At his recent press conference he was asked about the rise in anti-Semitism. He was dismissive of the Jewish reporter who inquired and ordered him to sit down. To another questioner, he suggested the acts were carried out by his political opponents. The afternoon of his address, speaking to the Pennsylvania attorney general, he put forth the notion the attacks might be the actions of Jewish people in a "false flag" operation.
     Numerous studies show immigrants, legal or illegal, commit crimes at lower rates than native-born Americans. Despite that, Mr. Trump is calling for a new agency, VOICE, at DHS to collect data on crimes by undocumented immigrants when they are actually more apt to be victims. They don't need scapegoating from the president.
     Looking at where things stand on ACA and tax reform, I wouldn't say Mr. Trump is even unifying Republicans. Outside of them, I believe many are coalescing around the idea that four years of this presidency is not a viable proposition.

All of Moscow's Men

Drip. Drip. Drip

Two days after the presidential election, a Russian official speaking to a reporter in Moscow offered a surprising acknowledgment: The Kremlin had been in contact with Donald Trump’s campaign.

The claim, coming amid allegations that Russia had interfered with the election, was met with an immediate no-wiggle-room, blanket denial from Trump’s spokeswoman. “It never happened,” Hope Hicks told the Associated Press at the time. “There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign.”

In fact, it is now clear it did happen.

Never say never. I mean unless it never happened. And is this guy visiting Russia on a tour with Moscow Jill

In early June, a little-known adviser to Donald Trump stunned a gathering of high-powered Washington foreign policy experts meeting with the visiting prime minister of India, going off topic with effusive praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump.

The adviser, Carter Page, hailed Putin as stronger and more reliable than President Obama, according to three people who were present at the closed-door meeting at Blair House — and then touted the positive effect a Trump presidency would have on U.S.-Russia relations.

A month later, Page dumbfounded foreign policy experts again by giving another speech harshly critical of U.S. policy — this time in Moscow.

Jesus, I can see why Obama was tapping his phones. 

Intel Courtesy of Mark Levin

And Bill Maher and his panel say what I've been thinking.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Couple of Good Stories From Josh

Summary of what's known, so far, of Trump and the Russians.

And, oh my God, Felix Sater and more.

Elise Fails

I stumbled across this looking for something else. Sweet kismet!

Elise Stefanik has refused to provide voters with positions on key issues covered by the 2016 Political Courage Test, despite repeated requests. Historically, candidates have failed to complete our test due to the advice they receive from their parties and advisors and out of fear of negative attack ads. Elise Stefanik is still welcome to submit the test at any time.

Yes, she failed the Political Courage Test. What a surprise.

And Elise Swoons

I am so glad that my congresswoman is going to continue to cling tightly to the Trump coattails. That should make it so much easier to kick her out of office in 2018. She prefers to spend her time in Washington anyway.

Stefanik, R-Willsboro, said she felt the president’s speech overall was excellent, and was directed not just to Congress, but to all Americans.

“It was very unifying and optimistic and stressed the importance of bipartisanship,” she said.

What'd I Say (TM Repsac):

There's so much that could be said, but I don't want to sit here all through the weekend. Some say Carryn Owens was being honored. I say she was being used by the WH. We'll have to disagree on that. I do want to point out though that any ovation for her and Ryan Owens were not for the benefit of Mr. Trump. And kudos to Bill Owens for pointing out that the WH is using his son as a shield to deflect criticism. 

“It was very unifying and optimistic and stressed the importance of bipartisanship,” she said. 

Optimistic? Next to the "carnage" I guess it was. Unifying? Let's see, he talked about "recent threats targeting Jewish community centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries" a few hours after "Mr Trump broke his silence to repeat an neo-Nazi conspiracy theory that has claimed that the attacks are 'false flags'. " And he finally mentioned the shooting victim in Kansas though not by name. Then there was the unification that VOICE will bring to the nation. 

That follows his recent directive that Homeland Security collect and publish weekly data detailing crimes committed by undocumented immigrants. 

That isn’t data collection, that’s propaganda, and a shameless effort to stoke fear and suspicion of our immigrant neighbors and co-workers. 

Study after study has found that immigrants, with or without legal status, commit crimes at lower rates than native-born Americans. But Trump and his handlers have drawn an alternative conclusion, and now they want to shamelessly gin up the evidence. 

I feel the nation coming together already.

And that why I bookmark stuff here. It's so much easier to retrieve it for the PS comments section. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Shine is Off the Best Speech Ever

That didn't take long. I can see why the White House wants to crack down on leaks. Some folks are putting a hurt on the Tin God.

Then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) spoke twice last year with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Justice Department officials said, encounters he did not disclose when asked about possible contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign and representatives of Moscow during Sessions’s confirmation hearing to become attorney general.

One of the meetings was a private conversation between Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that took place in September in the senator’s office, at the height of what U.S. intelligence officials say was a Russian cyber campaign to upend the U.S. presidential race.

My, what a tangled web we weave...

The Washington Post contacted all 26 members of the 2016 Senate Armed Services Committee to see whether any lawmakers besides Sessions met with Kislyak in 2016. Of the 20 lawmakers who responded, every senator, including Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.), said they did not meet with the Russian ambassador last year. The other lawmakers on the panel did not respond as of Wednesday evening.

“Members of the committee have not been beating a path to Kislyak’s door,” a senior Senate Armed Services Committee staffer said, citing tensions in relations with Moscow. Besides Sessions, the staffer added, “There haven’t been a ton of members who are looking to meet with Kislyak for their committee duties.”

That's probably because they weren't part of the Trump campaign coordinating hacking with the Russians. Oh wait, that hasn't come out yet. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Couple on the Address Last Night

Fact checking by Wash Po. Lots of fact checking.

LA Times on the VOICE fascism.

He wants to form a new agency within the Department of Homeland Security called VOICE, for Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement, to provide “a voice to those who have been ignored by our media, and silenced by special interests.” That follows his recent directive that Homeland Security collect and publish weekly data detailing crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.

That isn’t data collection, that’s propaganda, and a shameless effort to stoke fear and suspicion of our immigrant neighbors and co-workers.

"President Trump has all but declared war on refugees and immigrants," Beshear said.


"You and your Republican allies in Congress seem determined to rip away health insurance from millions of Americans who need it," he said.

And here's some pre-address blame shifting. I missed part of it the other day. So, in the interest of completeness. 

 In an interview with Fox News that aired Tuesday morning, Trump said the mission “was started before I got here.”

He noted that the operation was something his generals “were looking at for a long time doing.”

“This was something that was, you know, just — they wanted to do,” Trump said. “ And they came to see me and they explained what they wanted to do, the generals, who are very respected.”

“And they lost Ryan,” Trump continued.

What a profile in courage he is.

Paul Waldman on Trump being a cynical SOB.

And because Trump doesn't care about any of the other stuff. Obama had 7.2 million more viewers

The Infowars President On Cemetery Desecration

Excuse me, I think this one actually came from David Duke.

Donald Trump has suggested that Jewish people might be committing anti-Semitic hate crimes to make himself look bad.

After days in which he refused to comment on a spate of anti-Semitic attacks, Mr Trump broke his silence to repeat an neo-Nazi conspiracy theory that has claimed that the attacks are "false flags". Supporters of that belief – who include leader of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke – believe that such attacks are being perpetrated by Jewish people in order to undermine the White House.