Thursday, January 18, 2018

Barack Obama is returning to the world of politics, and that should scare the crap out of Republicans.

Hold on America, I'm coming.
Courtesy of Yahoo News:

If President Donald Trump and the Republican Party were already worried about defending their majorities in the House and Senate come November, they will now have another major factor to contend with: Barack Obama.

The former president enjoyed a busy year since leaving the White House but has largely stayed under the radar. Now Obama is reportedly planning to return to the political stage in 2018, setting the stage for a prominent role in the lead up to the crucial midterm elections. 

Close associates to the 44th president predict a politically active year, including campaign stops and other displays of public support. Obama will "continue to be politically active in 2018, with more endorsements and more campaigning," his spokeswoman Katie Hill told The Chicago Tribune. 

The former President's popularity has only grown since he left office, and with the current Democratic surge already underway, his presence on the campaign trail can only make that larger and more devastating for the Republican majority.

Personally I am excited to watch candidates endorsed by Barack Obama, slaughter candidates backed by Donald Trump.

And then watching Trump's angry reactions on Twitter would be extremely satisfying.

Speaking of our greatest president ever, this is how he handled his wife's birthday yesterday.

 God I miss these two.

Robert Mueller is now looking at suspicious Russian monetary transactions with American companies, including the possibility that they funneled money through the NRA into Trump's campaign.

Courtesy of Buzzfeed: 

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, charged with investigating Russian election interference and possible collusion by the Trump campaign, is examining these transactions and others by Russian diplomatic personnel, according to a US official with knowledge of the inquiry. The special counsel has broad authority to investigate “any matters” that “may arise” from his investigation, and the official said Mueller’s probe is following leads on suspicious Russian financial activity that may range far beyond the election. 

The transactions reveal: 

One of the people at the center of the investigation, the former Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak, received $120,000 ten days after the election of Donald Trump. Bankers flagged it to the US government as suspicious in part because the transaction, marked payroll, didn’t fit prior pay patterns. 

Five days after Trump’s inauguration, someone attempted to withdraw $150,000 cash from the embassy’s account — but the embassy’s bank blocked it. Bank employees reported the attempted transaction to the US government because it was abnormal activity for that account. 

From March 8 to April 7, 2014, bankers flagged nearly 30 checks for a total of about $370,000 to embassy employees, who cashed the checks as soon as they received them, making it virtually impossible to trace where the money went. Bank officials noted that the employees had not received similar payments in the past, and that the transactions surrounded the date of a critical referendum on whether parts of Crimea should secede from Ukraine and join Russia — one of Vladimir Putin’s top foreign policy concerns and a flash point with the West. 

Over five years, the Russian Cultural Centre — an arm of the government that sponsors classes and performances and is based in Washington, DC — sent $325,000 in checks that banking officials flagged as suspicious. The amounts were not consistent with normal payroll checks and some transactions fell below the $10,000 threshold that triggers a notice to the US government. 

The Russian Embassy in Washington, DC, sent more than $2.4 million to small home-improvement companies controlled by a Russian immigrant living not far from there. Between 2013 and March 2017, that contractor’s various companies received about 600 such payments, earmarked for construction jobs at Russian diplomatic compounds. Bankers told the Treasury they did not think those transactions were related to the election but red-flagged them because the businesses seemed too small to have carried out major work on the embassy and because the money was cashed quickly or wired to other accounts. 

Each of these transactions sparked a “suspicious activity report” sent to the US Treasury’s financial crimes unit by Citibank, which handles accounts of the Russian Embassy. 

Along with this suspicious activity Mueller also discovered a connection between the Kremlin and the NRA.

Courtesy of McClatchy:  

The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency, two sources familiar with the matter have told McClatchy. 

FBI counterintelligence investigators have focused on the activities of Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA, the sources said. 

It is illegal to use foreign money to influence federal elections. 

It’s unclear how long the Torshin inquiry has been ongoing, but the news comes as Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sweeping investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including whether the Kremlin colluded with Trump’s campaign, has been heating up. 

All of the sources spoke on condition of anonymity because Mueller’s investigation is confidential and mostly involves classified information. 

It should be noted that the NRA donated 30 million to the Trump campaign, which is three times the amount they donated to Mitt Romney's 2012 campaign. 

Damn that Robert Mueller is a thorough son of a bitch isn't he? 

I cannot tell you how much I hope the NRA is outed for illegal campaign contributions.

Seeing them taken down along with Donald Trump, would just be the cherry on top of the delicious justice sundae for me.

Donald Trump suggests that passing his recent cognitive test means he is more capable of solving the North Korea problem than his predecessors.

According to Reuters Trump said this while being asked about dealing with Kim Jong Un: 

With North Korea persisting as the major global challenge facing Trump this year, the president cast doubt on whether talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would be useful. In the past he has not ruled out direct talks with Kim. 

“I’d sit down, but I‘m not sure that sitting down will solve the problem,” he said, noting that past negotiations with the North Koreans by his predecessors had failed to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. 

He blamed his three immediate predecessors, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, for failing to resolve the crisis and, a day after his doctor gave him a perfect score on a cognitive test, suggested he had the mental acuity to solve it. 

“I guess they all realized they’re going to have to leave it to a president that scored the highest on tests,” he joked.

First off, he wasn't joking. The reporter from Reuters is just giving him the benefit of the doubt here.

And secondly Trump is ALWAYS bragging about his intellect, and I imagine truly believes he is more capable than Bill Clinton, a Rhodes Scholar, or Barack Obama, who became the first African American editor of the Harvard Law Review, and may have the highest IQ of any president in modern history. 

Keep in mind that Trump's cognitive test consisted of remembering a sequence of numbers, simple subtraction, drawing a clock, and identifying animals by name.

It is a ten minute test that his doctor claimed took him thirty minutes to complete, and THIS suggests that he has good cognitive abilities?

Just the fact that he made the statement above, demonstrates the falsity of that claim.

It should also be mentioned that later in the Reuters article when asked Trump did not rule out a military solution to the North Korean problem.

Such sharp cognitive skills this one.

Psychiatrists who warned that Donald Trump was fomenting violence receive threats of violence from Trump fans. Let's call that, point made.

Courtesy of the Daily Beast:  

Two psychiatrists who warned that Donald Trump was inspiring violence had their point made, the hard way, when Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) abruptly canceled a planned public meeting with them at a senior center after receiving violent threats about the event. 

According to Bandy X. Lee, an associate professor at Yale who was scheduled to speak at the event, Raskin informed her just 24 hours beforehand that it was off, because going forward would have posed “significant safety risks” to attendees. 

“Sorry about tomorrow night—we’ve been getting so many threats,” Raskin said, according to Lee, the editor of The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, a controversial collection of essays arguing that Trump’s affinity for violence represents a danger to the public, and a leading member of the National Coalition of Concerned Mental-Health Experts (full disclosure: the group’s members include Claire Silverman, a psychologist and this reporter’s mother) that’s raised public questions about Trump’s fitness for office. 

Raskin has roused the ire of Trump supporters since he submitted a bill in April of last year calling for the creation of a committee to evaluate the president’s physical and mental fitness. 

“Whenever my boss talks about the 25th Amendment, there will be an uptick in comments on social media, or phone calls, or emails, that contain either explicit threats or generally violent and hateful language,” Lauren Doney, Raskin’s communications director, told The Daily Beast, while confirming that Thursday’s event had been canceled.

Nothing proves that you are not inspiring violence, like your fans threatening to kill everybody who says you are inspiring violence.

Nicely done deplorables.

Michael Wolff's book. "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," is going to be a TV series.

Courtesy of the Hollywood Reporter: 

Michael Wolff's controversial Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House is coming to television. 

Endeavor Content — the financing and sales arm formed in October between sister companies William Morris Endeavor and IMG — has purchased film and television rights to the No. 1 best-selling book. The massive deal is said to be in the seven-figure range. Endeavor Content plans to adapt the book as a TV series. A network is not yet attached, as Endeavor will now begin shopping the project. 

Wolff will executive produce the series, with veteran Channel 4 and BBC executive Michael Jackson — now CEO of indie producer Two Cities Television — also on board to produce.

Fire and Fury debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list, based only on the first two days of sales. In less than a week, the publisher reported more than 1.4 million hardcovers on order and 700,000 copies shipped, making it the fastest-selling nonfiction book in the company’s history. 

To date, rights to the book have been sold in 32 countries. It is currently the best-selling book of any genre worldwide. (A Spanish-language edition is set for Feb. 28, with subsequent takes in Arabic, Albanian, Portuguese, Bulgarian, Japanese, French, German and other languages also planned.)

I think that we all know that Trump will be glued to the TV while this show is on, and rage tweeting like a maniac until his phone finally bursts into flames. 

Hey, maybe they will get Alec Baldwin to play Trump.

Because THAT would send him right over the edge.

Pentagon considering a possible nuclear response to the next cyber attack. WTF?

Courtesy of HuffPo: 

The Pentagon is reportedly pushing a new retaliation tactic should the U.S. ever be hit by a devastating cyberattack: America could nuke the culprit. 

The New York Times reported Tuesday that a pre-decisional draft of the Defense Department’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, which details U.S. nuclear strategy, includes “large cyberattacks” as an example of a non-nuclear strike on American lives and infrastructure that could be countered with nuclear weapons. 

“Three current and former senior government officials said large cyberattacks against the United States and its interests would be included in the kinds of foreign aggression that could justify a nuclear response,” the Times wrote of the new strategy. The officials stressed, however, that “other, more conventional options for retaliation” could also be used in response to a cyberattack. 

The Nuclear Posture Review, or NPR, was commissioned last year by President Donald Trump and is currently being reviewed by the White House. It will need the president’s approval before it’s made final.

No, no, no, no, no!!!

As much as I want there to be a more robust response to the next cyber attack you cannot kill potentially millions of innocent people becasue their government is hacking our email accounts.

Nuclear weapons are the final deterrent, NOT the opening salvo in response to an attack.

Especially a non-lethal cyber attack.

Besides who believes that Putin's puppet would actually allow this response to a Russian attack, which is the most likely?

And while the Pentagon is apparently losing its collective mind, the Trump Administration has still done virtually nothing to defend us against the next online attack from our enemies.

Here is today's test of your gag reflex.

This is so disturbing on so many levels.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

"Guardians of the Galaxy" director offers $100,000 dollars to Trump's favorite charity if he will prove he only weighs 239 pounds.

Courtesy of EW: 

Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn isn’t buying Donald Trump’s annual medical exam. And he’s willing to bet $100,000 that the report wasn’t accurate. 

Gunn tweeted that he would give six figures to Trump’s favorite charity if the president would step on a scale under more transparent circumstances.

Gunn is simply saying what I think the majority of the people recognize.
And that is that the man on the right is definitely NOT six foot three and DEFINITELY does not weigh only 239 pounds.

Which means by the way that we really cannot believe a single thing that the White House doctor, Ronny Johnson, told us yesterday.

We have a story right below this one which insinuates, rather strongly, that Trump paid Marla Maples to claim he was the best lover she had ever had.

So of COURSE he also must be the healthiest president, no matter how much that costs to prove.

Personally I think that if Donald Trump wants to put this all to rest he should take James Gunn up on his offer.

 Besides it could prove lucrative, because let's face it Donald Trump's favorite charity is Donald Trump.

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has lawyered up. Update!

Courtesy of the Daily Beast:  

Corey Lewandowski, the president’s erstwhile campaign manager, has lawyered up. The Daily Beast has learned that Peter Chavkin, of Mintz Levin, is representing Lewandowski for purposes of the Russia investigations. Lewandowski helmed Trump’s campaign until Paul Manafort took over on May 19, 2016. A month later, the campaign announced that Lewandowski was out. There’s significant animosity between the two men. 

Apparently Lewandowsky is testifying today to the House Intelligence Committee.
I have no idea what Lewandowski knows, or doesn't know.

But I have faith that once his testimony is released that it will prove quite entertaining.

Is it just me or does anybody else hear the tune "Another One Bites the Dust" every time another former Trump campaign or current White House staffer is identified as a potential witness in these investigations?

Update: It looks like Lewandowski is taking a page from the Steve Bannon playbook.
I bet he sings like a canary for Mueller as well.

Steve Bannon spent eleven hours on the Hill yesterday refusing to answer questions even after receiving a subpoena.

Courtesy of NBC News:  

Steve Bannon told lawmakers investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election that the White House instructed him not to answer questions related to his tenure as a top White House adviser, prompting a rare subpoena to compel testimony, multiple congressional sources tell NBC News. 

The former Breitbart executive and now-spurned Trump confidante spent more than 11 hours on Capitol Hill to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, the first of three high-profile witnesses expected before the panel this week. 

Rep. Mike Conway, R-Texas, who is overseeing the panel’s Russia probe, said they expect additional testimony from Bannon after further discussions with the White House over what lawmakers in both parties considered an overly broad claim of executive privilege.

However as confidant as this might have made the White House feel, sources claim that Bannon will not defy the Mueller subpoena.

Courtesy of the Daily Beast:  

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon broke some bad news to House investigators Tuesday, announcing that the White House had invoked executive privilege to keep him from answering many of their questions. 

But executive privilege—the president’s right to keep certain information from the public so he can have frank conversations with aides—will not keep Steve Bannon from sharing information with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, according to a person familiar with the situation. 

“Mueller will hear everything Bannon has to say,” said the source, who is familiar with Bannon’s thinking.

Not sure what game Bannon is playing here as it seems very unlikely that Trump will ever invite him back into the inner circle.

But we certainly know what game Robert Mueller is playing. He isn't.

And just today it was revealed that Bannon has reached a deal with the Mueller team.

Courtesy of CNN: 

Steve Bannon has struck a deal with special counsel Robert Mueller's team and will be interviewed by prosecutors instead of testifying before the grand jury, two people familiar with the process told CNN. He is expected to cooperate with the special counsel, the sources said.

It appears that Steve Bannon realizes that Mueller is not playing games as well. 

More about Donald Trump's affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels.

As it turns out there was a reporter from Slate working on the story about Trump and Daniels before the election.

Jacob Weisberg did not post that story because he did not feel he had enough corroboration to write it with confidence that it could stand up to scrutiny.

Now that the Wall Street Journal has written their account of Daniels receiving $130,000 in hush money Weisberg has written about what he learned during multiple interviews with Daniels.

From the article: 

Daniels, whose given name is Stephanie Clifford, did indeed have a story about Trump, which she related to me in a series of phone conversations and text exchanges that took place between August and October of 2016. 

Daniels told me she’d gone to Trump’s hotel room after meeting him at a celebrity golf tournament in Nevada in 2006. There they’d begun a sexual relationship, which continued for nearly a year. They’d met in New York and more than once in Los Angeles. In early 2007, Trump had invited her to a party to promote Trump Vodka, where she was photographed. He’d also invited her to his Miss USA pageant that year. 

In our conversations, Daniels said she was holding back on the juiciest details, such as her ability to describe things about Trump that only someone who had seen him naked would know. She intimated that her view of his sexual skill was at odds with the remark attributed to Marla Maples.

You may remember that Maples reported that it was "The Best Sex" she had ever had.

You know just like Trump is the least racist person you have ever met, the best businessman in history, and the healthiest person to ever occupy the White House.

Weisberg sort of glossed over the more prurient details and instead focused on what was then a pending financial agreement between the lawyers for Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels' attorney: 

Daniels said that, through intermediaries, she and Trump had worked out an agreement for the presidential candidate to pay her a six-figure sum to keep quiet. More specifically, she said her lawyer Keith Davidson, a Beverly Hills–based attorney who specializes in claims against celebrities, had worked out the terms with Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen. 

Daniels told me that agreement involved a complicated arrangement to shield the real names of the parties. She texted me an unsigned two-page document spelling out this arrangement, the title of which was “Exhibit ‘A’ to the Confidential Settlement Agreement and Release: Assignment of Copyright and Non-Disparagement Agreement.”* The document she texted me indicated that in the main agreement—a document I never saw—“Stephanie Gregory Clifford aka Stormy Daniels is referred to by the pseudonym ‘Peggy Peterson,’ and ___________ is referred to by the pseudonym ‘David Dennison.’ ” 

The document Daniels sent me included two additional pseudonyms, “David Delucia” and “RCI,” but did not indicate which person and/or entity those pseudonyms referred to. Another provision in the document I saw stated that only Daniels’ lawyer Keith Davidson and a lawyer for the other party would be allowed to retain copies of the side-letter agreement identifying the parties by their actual names.

About a week before the election Daniels stopped responding to texts and emails, likely due to the fact that she had reached that financial agreement which the Wall Street Journal reported on recently.

Now it is very unlikely that this story by Weisberg would have changed the outcome of the election, because let's face it unless this was gay sex, or sex with a black person, Trump's deplorables would not be bothered in the least.

However, as has been pointed out by a number of commentators, this story would have DESTROYED the candidacy of any other politician that we can think of, and that right there tells us just how far away from our moral center we have drifted since Donald Trump rode down that escalator to announce his candidacy.

In Touch got even more information about this fling from Daniels back in 2011. Here is their story:

Stormy told In Touch, “[The sex] was textbook generic,” while discussing the fling they had less than four months after Donald’s wife, Melania, gave birth to their son, Barron. “I actually don’t even know why I did it, but I do remember while we were having sex, I was like, ‘Please, don’t try to pay me.’” 

At one point, Stormy told In Touch, she excused herself to go to the bathroom. “When I came out, he was sitting on the bed and he was like, ‘Come here.’ And I was like, ‘Ugh, here we go.’ And we started kissing.” After having sex, Stormy said, “We hung out for a little while and he just kept saying, ‘I’m gonna call you, I’m gonna call you. I have to see you again. You’re amazing. We have to get you on The Apprentice.’” 

Of course Trump never did get Daniels that gig on "The Apprentice" or kept any other promises that he made to her.

However he DID pay her off, which is why she is denying all of this now.

On a final note the fellow adult film star that Stormy Daniels invited to a threesome with Donald Trump appeared on the Megyn Kelly show to tell her side of things.

I do not typically post video of Kelly's show, but I think you will like this.

“Picture this: Donald Trump chasing me around the bedroom in his tighty whities isn’t something you forget.”

And now none of us will be able to forget it, or that such an embarrassing POS is occupying the People's House. 

FBI rattled, worried about ability to do their job, after Justice Department gives documents to Congressional Republicans.

Courtesy of Bloomberg:  

The Justice Department’s decision to give congressional Republicans access to documents about FBI investigations risks exposing sensitive sources or material and poses a critical early test for bureau Director Christopher Wray, current and former U.S. law enforcement officials say. 

Some officials view the department as capitulating to a small group of Republicans who are intent on helping President Donald Trump undermine the integrity of the FBI and, by extension, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump or any of his associates helped Russia interfere in the 2016 election. 

It’s the latest setback for a law enforcement agency that has long held itself out as doggedly independent and above partisan politics, only to be besieged over the last two years by questions about its handling of politically sensitive investigations into Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Trump. 

One agent said he’s now concerned that forms identifying FBI informants would be handed over to Congress. If that happened, he said, it would cause him to think carefully about whether to withhold sensitive information from future reports. 

Another agent said recent statements about the bureau by Trump and congressional Republicans have made it more difficult for him to get informants to open up. 

Trump has tweeted that the Federal Bureau of Investigations is “in Tatters -- worst in history” and has said a senior official committed “treason.”

The FBI knows full that is it only a matter of time after the Republicans get their hands on the documents, that the leaks and spreading of false information will begin.

Their agenda right now is to protect Donald Trump from the Mueller investigation, and they will burn down the entire American justice system to achieve that goal.

Bet on it.

Trump's first year in office saw 3.2 million more Americans without health insurance.

Courtesy of TPM:  

Over the course of President Donald Trump’s first year in office, the number of Americans without health insurance increased 1.3 percent—with 3.2 million more people uninsured, according to Gallup-Sharecare’s latest tracking report published Tuesday. 

It’s the largest one-year increase in the uninsured population since Gallup-Sharecare began the survey in 2008. 

The study noted “several factors” swelling the ranks of the uninsured, from increased premiums caused by insurance companies dropping out of the individual market to uncertainty around whether the Trump administration would enforce the individual mandate’s penalty for forgoing health insurance. Exacerbating both factors, the GOP-controlled Congress repealed the individual mandate in December, which is expected to hike premiums by an additional 10 percent or more. 

Premiums also went up significantly in 2017 when the Trump administration cut off cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies, though the vast majority of people on the individual market were shielded from the increase by a bump in their federal tax credits. 

Though the uninsured rate remains well below the high of 18 percent—the year before the Affordable Care Act went into effect—the increase in 2017 is the first reversal of several years of decline. And Gallup-Sharecare predict that the trend will continue, with more people dropping or losing their insurance coverage in the years to come.

Gee, who would have thought that constantly attacking Obamacare without having a better plan to take its place would have such a negative effect?

Oh that's right, the almost 66 million people who voted for his opponent.

Pretty much sums up the Trump presidency. Don't you think?

Courtesy of the Daily Mail: 

President Donald Trump along with wife Melania and son Barron boarded Air Force One amid rainy Florida weather on Martin Luther King Jr day. 

Photos show President 45 holding a large black umbrella close to his head - perhaps in an effort to keep his famous hair from being pelted by rain drops. 

But wife Melania, 47, and Barron, 11, were left to the mercy of the elements as they boarded the plane at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach. 

It is not clear whether Trump, 71, at any point offered space under his large umbrella to his wife or son. 

Oh I think it's pretty clear.

He didn't.

And why in the hell would anybody who knows that Trump names everything after himself, and uses his Twitter account to engage in constant self aggrandizing, ever think to help anybody other than himself?

Ever?