Sunday, May 28, 2017

After Trump visit Chancellor Angela Merkel laments the loss of America as a reliable ally.

Courtesy of the New York Times: 

In the aftermath of a contentious Group of 7 meeting in Taormina, Sicily, where leaders failed to persuade President Trump to back the Paris climate accord, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said on Sunday that tried and tested global alliances were no longer as reliable as they once were, citing her experience “in recent days.” 

Ms. Merkel, who is campaigning for a fourth term in the September elections, did not name the country or leader she had in mind. 

It seemed clear, however, that she was referring mainly to the United States and Mr. Trump, who refused to commit to the goals of the 195-nation climate agreement hammered out in 2015. He has said it would be bad for the United States economy.

“The times in which we could rely fully on others, they are somewhat over,” she said, according to German news media. “This is what I experienced in the last few days.”

And just like that decades of friendship between the United States and Germany come to a close.

I guess this what the White House meant by a "successful" trip.

Here was an observation by former Bush speechwriter David Frum:
This presidency is now officially an international crisis.

How much longer can it be before even the Republicans in Washington realize that everything that America has fought and stood for is now hanging in the balance?

Jared Kushner has both a terrible memory and a case of the sads.

Courtesy of Politico: 

Once the untouchable son-in-law in a White House where top aides jockey for the president’s ear, Jared Kushner has now been cast in a new role: reassuring people that he’s not going to resign, while colleagues question whether he can survive politically. 

Any victory lap Kushner hoped to enjoy after pulling off a successful presidential foreign trip to the Middle East was cut short after the Washington Post reported that during the transition he discussed setting up a secret backchannel with the Russian ambassador. He also failed to disclose earlier phone calls with Russian officials, according to a Reuters report.

The backchannel was never established. But the news puts Kushner squarely in the middle of a wide-ranging FBI investigation into whether Trump campaign advisers were working with Russian operatives to influence the results of the 2016 election. 

And it means that the main architect of Trump’s visit to the Middle East is now the lead distraction that will greet the president, who was flying home from nine days abroad on Saturday, returning from what was seen as overall a successful foreign trip.

I'm sorry, "successful foreign trip?"

What news coverage were THEY watching?

Politico also reports that Kushner is frustrated and saddened by his ineffectiveness in his role as Trump's closest adviser: 

The spotlight on Kushner’s involvement with the Russians comes at a time when the powerful son-in-law has been telling associates that he is frustrated with his job. 

Two associates who have spoken to Kushner in recent weeks described him as “unhappy” and “miserable,” in part because he has not been able to make the changes he wants to under his father-in-law. Kushner, the source said, has recently seemed resigned to the fact that the internal dysfunction that has defined the first months of Trump’s administration is unlikely to pass. “He’s still trying to tell people it will improve but he seems like he was trying to convince himself,” the source said.

You would think that somebody who has been around Trump as long as Kushner has would realize that he is broken and there is just no fixing him.

As for all that talk about Kushner having multiple contacts with the Russian Ambassador, he apparently has developed a case of amnesia:

Top presidential adviser Jared Kushner’s legal team pushed back Friday night against a report that the White House senior adviser and Trump son-in-law had at least three undisclosed contacts with a Russian ambassador during and after the 2016 presidential campaign, saying he had “no recollection” of the alleged exchanges. 

"Mr. Kushner participated in thousands of calls in this time period. He has no recollection of the calls as described,” Kushner’s lawyer Jamie Gorelick told POLITICO in a statement, responding to a Reuters report about Kushner's contacts with Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak. 

“We have asked (Reuters) for the dates of such alleged calls so we may look into it and respond, but we have not received such information," Gorelick added. 

Ah yes the "I did not disclose my contacts with Russian operatives, as was my legal obligation, because they simply slipped my mind" defense.

Much like the "How could I have robbed that bank if I do not remember leaving the house?" defense.

Keep in mind that this guy is supposed to solve the opioid crisis, establish peace in the Middle East, and reform criminal justice in this country, all while forgetting important meetings that he has attended.

Yep, that should work out just peachy.

Of course remember in the eyes of Donald Trump all of this is "fake news."

"In my opinion?"

"It is very possible that those sources don't exist?"

Wouldn't Trump know for a fact whether or not these sources were telling the truth or not?

Yeah, I think he would. Which means he is trying to sow the seeds of doubt when he already knows what the harvest of truth will reveal.

100 eighth graders boycott picture with Paul Ryan during Washington field trip.

Courtesy of Common Dreams: 

One hundred eighth grade students refused to be photographed with Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan during a field trip to the nation's capital because they "didn't want to be associated with a person who puts his party before his country," as one student put it. 

According to reporting, roughly half of the 200 students who traveled from South Orange Middle School in New Jersey protested the photo-op on Thursday, watching instead from a parking lot across the street. 

"It's not just a picture," eighth grade student Matthew Malespina told the local ABC News affiliate. "It's being associated with a person who puts his party before his country." 

Most recently, Ryan has come under fire for forcing through legislation that would strip healthcare from 23 million Americans.

Well look at that, we now live in a country where eighth grade students have more integrity than the entire Republican party. 

Looks like the future might be in good hands after all.

While other world leaders walk toward location for group photo, Donald Trump is taken by golf cart.

 Courtesy of The Hill: 

President Trump chose to ride in a golf cart while his foreign counterparts took a walk through Taormina, Sicily on Saturday during the Group of 7 (G7) summit. 

The Times of London reported the six other world leaders - from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan - walked 700 yards to take a group photo at a piazza in a hilltop town. The U.S. leader decided to wait until he could get a golf cart. 

Trump was late for the photo, but joined the other world leaders during the walk down from the piazza.

As if that was not embarrassing enough Trump had earlier refused to pledge America's support for the Paris climate deal, making our country the only one present to do so.

It should be remembered that this summit used to be called the G8, before Russia was kicked out over it's invasion of Ukraine.

Now it appears that Trump might be angling to get the name changed again, this time to the G6.

By the way, according to Fox News, it is Donald Trump who is being disrespected:

Nile Gardiner said that NATO leaders acted in an "absolutely appalling" way toward President Trump. 

Gardiner, an aide to late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, said he was disgusted at leaders who were caught smirking and chuckling during Trump's speech. 

He criticized Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel for appearing to laugh when Trump spoke about the need for nations to pay what they owed to NATO. 

Gardiner called the actions of Bettel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel "absolutely appalling."

Yes, how shameful that these people laughed at the giant orange clown. 

Sean Hannity has gone "underground" while contemplating his future at Fox News.

Courtesy of IJR: 

Hannity has gone “underground” and is actively considering whether or not he will return to Fox News on Tuesday, a source close to Hannity told Independent Journal Review. It's a stunning development at the network, which has seemingly remained in a constant state of turmoil since the ouster of the late Roger Ailes. 

Speculation ran wild earlier this week when the network announced Hannity would be taking a mid-week vacation amid controversy over the host’s promotion of unverified reports suggesting a link between murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich and his alleged contact with WikiLeaks. Hannity is currently facing threats of advertiser boycotts from liberal groups like Media Matters. Multiple companies have since pulled ads from “Hannity.” 

In response to the rumors, a Fox News spokesperson said Hannity would “be back on Tuesday” after his Memorial Day weekend vacation, and people who “suggest otherwise are going to look foolish.” 

But the well-placed source said Hannity has since retreated to isolation — even temporarily “swearing off” social media — while he makes a decision regarding his future at Fox News. Hannity’s last tweet was posted on Thursday afternoon. 

“He has stopped answering his phone, and communicating even with his close friends,” the source added.

Oh please, Hannity is getting canned and he knows it.

He is leaking this information to give the appearance that he has some say in whether he continues on at the cable outlet, but with advertisers fleeing like their hair is on fire, and his refusal to accept the truth about that Seth Rich story, I think we all know that he is simply trying to save face.

Though with a face like that I am not sure it is really worth saving.

The Simpsons wade into the Trump/Comey controversy.

I swear I am not sure we have needed humor in our lives more since the Great Depression.

What the three top cable news outlets were reporting the night we learned that Jared Kushner wanted a back channel to communicate with Moscow.

Apparently these were captured at almost the exact same time from all three networks.

Is it any wonder the conservatives are not all up in arms over this Russia collusion thing?

They don't even know about it yet!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Donald Trump abruptly cancels campaign rally in Iowa. Gee, I can't imagine why?

Courtesy of The Hill:

President Trump has canceled a campaign rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa that was previously scheduled to be held next week. 

“Due to an unfortunate change in President Trump’s schedule, we will need to unfortunately postpone the previously schedule rally in Cedar Rapids,” a statement from the Trump campaign read. “President Trump will see you in Iowa very soon.” 

Trump’s campaign previously announced the rally last week, which was set to follow Trump’s first trip abroad as president. 

"An unfortunate change" in Trump's schedule?

Do they mean like an ramping up of the Russian investigations?  

Apparently Trump was also the only member of the G7 Summit NOT to have a press conference.

It's almost as if he were afraid of what the reporters might ask him.

But that can't be it, Trump loves to banter back and forth with the press, doesn't he?

James Comey used fake Russian intelligence to make decisions about Hillary Clinton email investigation.

Courtesy of CNN: 

Then-FBI Director James Comey knew that a critical piece of information relating to the investigation into Hillary Clinton's email was fake -- created by Russian intelligence -- but he feared that if it became public it would undermine the probe and the Justice Department itself, according to multiple officials with knowledge of the process. 

As a result, Comey acted unilaterally last summer to publicly declare the investigation over -- without consulting then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch -- while at the same time stating that Clinton had been "extremely careless" in her handling of classified information. His press conference caused a firestorm of controversy and drew criticism from both Democrats and Republicans. 

Comey's actions based on what he knew was Russian disinformation offer a stark example of the way Russian interference impacted the decisions of the highest-level US officials during the 2016 campaign. 

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that this Russian intelligence was unreliable. US officials now tell CNN that Comey and FBI officials actually knew early on that this intelligence was indeed false.

So Comey used intelligence that he knew was fake to end an investigation, that he also must have known by then was based on false allegations?

Here's more: 

In classified sessions with members of Congress several months ago, Comey described those emails in the Russian claim and expressed his concern that this Russian information could "drop" and that would undermine the Clinton investigation and the Justice Department in general, according to one government official. 

Still, Comey did not let on to lawmakers that there were doubts about the veracity of the intelligence, according to sources familiar with the briefings. It is unclear why Comey was not more forthcoming in a classified setting.

I don't get this at all, becasue all Comey had to do if this information did "drop" was reveal that it was bullshit. 

It seems more likely to me that Comey was more concerned about the response from the Right Wing fringe, some of who also apparently work in the FBI, to that fake intelligence, which of course they would NEVER believe to be fake at all.

That makes me wonder if that was not also part of the reason why Comey was so quick to send that letter about reopening the investigation based on those emails on Anthony Weiner's computer?

Is James Comey really this easily manipulated?

He is due to give testimony again after Memorial Day, perhaps we can get some answers about all of this at that time.

Here is the People's President giving a commencement speech at Wellesley College.

If you click here you can read the Washington Post's transcript complete with annotations.

Here is just a portion:.  

You are graduating at a time when there is a full-fledged assault on truth and reason. Just log on to social media for ten seconds. It will hit you right in the face. People denying science, concocting elaborate, hurtful conspiracy theories about child-abuse rings operating out of pizza parlors, drumming up rampant fear about undocumented immigrants, Muslims, minorities, the poor, turning neighbor against neighbor and sowing division at a time when we desperately need unity. Some are even denying things we see with our own eyes, like the size of crowds, and then defending themselves by talking about quote-unquote “alternative facts.” 

But this is serious business. Look at the budget that was just proposed in Washington. It is an attack of unimaginable cruelty on the most vulnerable among us, the youngest, the oldest, the poorest, and hard-working people who need a little help to gain or hang on to a decent middle class life. It grossly under-funds public education, mental health, and efforts even to combat the opioid epidemic. And in reversing our commitment to fight climate change, it puts the future of our nation and our world at risk. And to top it off, it is shrouded in a trillion-dollar mathematical lie. Let’s call it what it is. It’s a con. They don’t even try to hide it.

Oh, what might have been.

I am sure that at some point Trump will take to Twitter to attack Clinton for telling the truth about him again.

The biggest story to break last night, Jared Kushner attempted to establish a "back channel" to secretly communicate with the Russians.

Courtesy of WaPo: 

Jared Kushner and Russia’s ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, according to U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports. 

Ambassador Sergey Kislyak reported to his superiors in Moscow that Kushner, son-in-law and confidant to then-President-elect Trump, made the proposal during a meeting on Dec. 1 or 2 at Trump Tower, according to intercepts of Russian communications that were reviewed by U.S. officials. Kislyak said Kushner suggested using Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States for the communications. 

The meeting also was attended by Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser. 

The White House disclosed the meeting only in March, playing down its significance. But people familiar with the matter say the FBI now considers the encounter, as well as another meeting Kushner had with a Russian banker, to be of investigative interest.

Gee, ya think?

When I first heard this news my first thought was, wait didn't we already hear this?

That's when I remembered a story from last month about Erik Prince, Betsy DeVos' brother, working to establish the same kind of back channel: 

The United Arab Emirates arranged a secret meeting in January between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a Russian close to President Vladi­mir Putin as part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump, according to U.S., European and Arab officials. 

According to the article the Prince meeting happened about a month or so after Kushner's meeting, which essentially proves that this was something that the Trump team really wanted to set up, and not some spur of the moment suggestion.

Now the question to ask yourself is why in the hell would a presidential transition team want so badly to set up a communication network, controlled by the Russians mind you, that would bypass our own intelligence gathering agencies?

Go ahead, try to think of a reason that does not make this group seem to be the Keystone Kops of Russian spies.

While you are contemplating that I should also inform you that a Russian oligarch with ties to Trump's former campaign manager is now seeking immunity from Congress 

Oleg V. Deripaska, a Russian oligarch once close to President Trump’s former campaign manager, has offered to cooperate with congressional committees investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, but lawmakers are unwilling to accept his conditions, according to congressional officials. 

Mr. Deripaska’s offer comes amid increased attention to his ties to Paul Manafort, who is one of several Trump associates under F.B.I. scrutiny for possible collusion with Russia during the presidential campaign. The two men did business together in the mid-2000s, when Mr. Manafort, a Republican operative, was also providing campaign advice to Kremlin-backed politicians in Ukraine. Their relationship subsequently soured and devolved into a lawsuit.

Like I said in an email to my friend yesterday, what we are seeing right now is no longer just smoke. This is clearly fire. 

And perhaps that is why the Senate Intelligence Committee is now requesting  ALL campaign documents that relate to Russia.

Donald Trump tries to handshake bully French President Emmanuel Macron, fails miserably.

As you can see in this tweet Trump attempts that whole Mafia dominating handshake thing that he is known for, but the mighty Macron totally holds firm and does not allow his tiny hands to win the day.

Later after Macron throws a little shade Trump's way by greeting Angela Merkel and several others before deigning to acknowledge Trump, he attempts the same maneuver, and once again Macron refuses to be pulled off balance or bullied by Cheeto Hitler.  By the way Trump also told Macron that "You were my guy," while meeting him as if the internet did not even exist to prove that claim wrong.

(H/T to Wonkette.)

That new body slamming Montana Congressman believes that retirement is for pussies because Noah was building that ark at 600 years old.

Hi my name is Greg Gianforte and I believe in fairy tales.
Courtesy of the Washington Post:  

In a 2015 talk at the Montana Bible College, Gianforte said the idea of retirement doesn’t exactly match his religious beliefs. 

“There’s nothing in the Bible that talks about retirement. And yet it’s been an accepted concept in our culture today,” he said at the time, according to a report in HuffPost. “Nowhere does it say, ‘Well, he was a good and faithful servant, so he went to the beach.’ It doesn’t say that anywhere.”

“How old was Noah when he built the ark? 600,” he said. “He wasn’t like, cashing Social Security checks, he wasn’t hanging out, he was working. So, I think we have an obligation to work. The role we have in work may change over time, but the concept of retirement is not biblical.”

Oh dear god that I don't believe in, what fresh hell, which I also don't believe in, has Montana subjected itself to?

Noah is a character in a children's tale of morality, NOT an actual person whose life should be taken literally!

I swear the next person who tries to convince me that religion does not destroy rational thinking, I am going to body slam.

German magazine Der Spiegel tells the unvarnished truth about Donald Trump. Update!

Courtesy of Der Spiegel: 

Donald Trump is not fit to be president of the United States. He does not possess the requisite intellect and does not understand the significance of the office he holds nor the tasks associated with it. He doesn't read. He doesn't bother to peruse important files and intelligence reports and knows little about the issues that he has identified as his priorities. His decisions are capricious and they are delivered in the form of tyrannical decrees.

He is a man free of morals. As has been demonstrated hundreds of times, he is a liar, a racist and a cheat. I feel ashamed to use these words, as sharp and loud as they are. But if they apply to anyone, they apply to Trump. And one of the media's tasks is to continue telling things as they are: Trump has to be removed from the White House. Quickly. He is a danger to the world.

I read all the way to the bottom of the article and I could not find a single point that I disagreed with.

Yes, Donald Trump has to go.

Now if we can only convince the Republicans of that simple fact.

Update: The front page of German newspaper.
Heaven and Hell, I think that is fairly accurate.