Friday, December 1, 2017

In (Custody) Like Flynn.....

Like many of you I got up this morning and went online for whatever reason (for me, it was to make another call to the Senate regarding the BS tax plan the Repubs are forcing down our throats) and got some news that, while it shouldn't be a surprise, did become one nonetheless.

Yep, the rumors from the past week turned out to be true.  Electoral vote winner Donny's former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn turned himself in and is charged in the probe of special prosecutor Robert Mueller.  Flynn is expected to plead guilty to one count of making false statements to federal authorities. Now there was suspicion that something would be up when Flynn's legal team stopped working to the legal team of electoral vote winner Donny about a week or so ago.  While this was floated as a possibility so was a hint that he might have agreed to work with them without charges. 

Now we know a plea deal was made.  As part of the plea Flynn has agreed to cooperate with the ongoing investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election.  That is a big deal in the probe since, even though Flynn's time working in the White House was brief.  Flynn did play a fairly big role in the election campaign and, ironically, helped lead a chant of "Lock Her Up" towards Donny's opponent in the election, former Sen. Hillary Clinton during the GOP Convention last year.

The irony here is palpable but the fact that Flynn agreed to a plea deal means that there's a lot more underneath the surface.  I've read a suggestion or two that Flynn is doing this to protect his son, Michael Flynn Jr. [who gained attention in the probe over a reported plot to kidnap a Turkish dissident living in Pennsylvania and fly him somewhere to be detained for Turkey]).  However, while there's still a bit to unpack one thing has emerged.  As part of the plea deal Flynn is reportedly willing to testify that he was authorized by the Trump campaign and then candidate Donald Trump (now electoral vote winner Donny) to make contact with the Russians during the 2016 Presidential campaign

Yes, you read that right.  Flynn apparently is now admitting that he was cleared by Donny and his minions to speak with Russia during the campaign.  In addition, ABC News reports that this decision was made within the last 24 hours. It also states that Flynn felt abandoned by his former boss.  Whether this decision was made by expensive legal bills, a (rumored) decision to protect his kin, or actual need to help this country  it does drop a bomb of sorts into the mix.

For now, the usual round of denials and whatboutism from the right will likely be ramped up a bit.  One White House lawyer (TY Cobb) has even referred to Flynn as "a former Obama administration official."  What can't be denied is that Flynn's plea deal is a big deal in this probe since, as attorney and writer Seth Abramson has pointed out on a twitter thread a deal like the one Flynn was given is offered "only when it can incriminate someone "higher up in the food chain" than them.

So who'd be higher up than Flyns that a deal would be offered?.  Well, Atty. General Jeffy Session is at the similar, if not same, level in the hierarchy (at least in terms of national security).  But he's not higher up enough for this (though Jeffy might get caught in the net somehow).  This leaves what Keith Olbermann said in his final political commentary that Nixon counsel turned Watergate whistleblower John Dean told him.  Mueller wouldn't get a deal with Flynn to get Manafort or Don Jr.  Mueller would offer the deal with Michael Flynn "to get Donald Trump."

As I said before this is far from the end of the story.  Flynn's deal with the probe is a big deal given his role in the campaign opens up a door that intensifies a journey that could lead to taking down electoral vote winner Donny, co-electoral vote winner Mikey Pence, or both, 

This is unlikely to happen right away and a lot of things could happen on the road until then (including a possibility that the GOP forces out Donny after getting the tax cuts they want so damn bad).  What this deal does mean is that, while the right wing media and Donny's minions and talking heads say otherwise, that Mueller's probe is far from over.  This also means that, if Mueller is fired in some sort of Saturday night massacre similar to what Nixon pulled (and what ultimately did him in), enough tension would erupt that the blowback would taint Donny enough that, even if he managed to get pardoned, he would be considered toxic to the Americna political landscape. 

For now, Donny has the white nationalists/white supremacists and white conservative christians (i.e.: "evangelicals/fundamentalists/charismatics) on his side.  However, if the snowball rolls far enough and picks up enough to become an avalanche even they may be less willing to stay on the Good Ship Donny as leaks sink it all around them.

Regardless of what goes down it's far from over.  Stay on the lookout.

UPDATE:  Technically Flynn ended up pleading guilty to four false statements (two response he gave regarding the Russians, one on sanctions, and one on Israel.)  While the latter two have some importance on their own, the Russia ones remain the focus of the probe - and the most pertinent as of this time.


Monday, November 27, 2017

November 2017 in a Nutshell - Elections to Electoral Winner's Tweetstorms

Hey!  Sorry for the silence on the blog front.  I've been busy getting the 25th anniversary issue ready and out to the public.  Add to that scheduling at my paying job, car issues, general obligations I have to deal with, and the specter of possible jury duty (lucked out and didn't have to go but still) updating this blog has been a bit far down on my list of things to deal with.  However, it has been on my mind.  Because of that we'll bring up some things that t went down over the past month. So here's November 2017 in a nutshell.

Let's start with the elections, in particular Virginia.  I have to admit I was actually expecting Ed Gillespie (R) to win; not because he was the best guy for the job but due to Repub dirty tricks and a campaign that did everything electoral vote winner Donny did except literally embrace him on camera.  The discovery that he was trounced by the Democratic challenger (Ed Northam) so soundly was a surprise.  Add to this a slate of Democratic victories in the state legislature and it appeared to be a rebuke to how things have gone down in the past year,  This is in addition to the Democrats winning the governor's seat in New Jersey and a number of other election victories after several special elections in blood red districts that saw the Repubs maintain their power as even further right candidates won seats vacated by those who took seats to be amongst Donny's minions.  Whether this recharged and angry electorate remains as we head towards the 2018 midterms is uncertain (and given plans by the Repubs to make it harder and harder for many to vote it looks even scarier out there) but it was a good break from the far right onslaught.

We will be looking at some of the slate of celebrity deaths in the upcoming print issue so all I have to say about this is, in some cases I'm as surprised as you are.  Seems to be bringing one of the sadder trends of 2016 back into the spotlight.

Then there's Roy Moore's scandals.  IN the past month nine women have claimed that the former Alabama chief justice now running for Jeffy Sessions' Senate seat either tried to hit on them when they were under 18 or outright tried to assault them.  Moore's supporters are claiming its a witch hunt, though it's strange that a man who refuses to even debate his opponent (Doug Jones, a former U.S. attorney who prosecuted the two Klansmen who bombed a church in Birmingham, AL killing four girls in 1963) would be so smug about his chances.  Still, he's got the white conservative christian support so who knows how nauseating this will get next month at the polls.

Finally there's electoral vote winner Donny's overseas trip to Asia and his Thanksgiving break to Mar-A-Lago.  At a time when everything from the possible loss of Net Neutrality (which affects everyone, even hardcore supporters of Donny) to the possible fear of nuclear war as Donny gets into a twitter spat with North Korea that makes you wonder if he's possessed by a bullying 11 year old, he chooses to focus on appeasing the religious fanatics and white supremacists that make up his base rather than doing his job.  In his mind it may be a good idea to keep calling CNN 'fake news" or complain about athletes taking a knee to protest police brutality (ironically a compromise move Colin Kaepernick came to after a conversation with a former Green Beret) but there's shit that needs to be done.

This leaves us at the end of the year.  With one month to go, we're now in the holiday season so I expect Donny to boast how we'll as=ll say "merry Christmas" rather than "Happy Holidays" (how the hell is he going to enforce that, much less think there won't be people who normally wouldn't care one way or another say "happy Holidays" as a middle finger to him seems to elude his base).  As 2018 and the midterm elections near this country continues to head down a scary turn it's up to us to keep fighting and make this better for everyone , not just one small group of people. 

And that's November 2017 in a nutshell.

Monday, October 30, 2017

You Three are the first contestants on The Indictments Are Right..

Did anyone else take a step back sometime today, look at the big news story and say to themselves, "Whoa!"  Maybe it's just me.

Obviously I'm talking about the indictment of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his assistant Rick Price and multiple charges of money laundering and conspiracy against the US.  Now, many people thought when news trickled out over the weekend that the first charges would be filed that Manafort would be in the cross hairs.  Some thought it would be related to collusion, some thought it was financial, but he was an easy guess to anyone who paid a slight bit of attention. 

Rick Gates' indictment was only slightly less of a shock.  Given that he worked closely with Manafort, that can be an easily understandable choice upon thinking about it.  However, the big shock was campaign advisor George Papadopoulos.  Papadopoulos surprised everyone on multiple counts.  One, almost nobody knew who he was.  Also, as we found out more it turned out he not only was indicted but plead guilty to charges of lying to the FBI in a plea deal...three weeks ago.  Yes, the Mueller probe not only had a guilty plea from someone but kept it under wraps for three weeks, which is almost a miracle in electoral vote winner Donny's Washington.

Now, Papadopoulos is admittedly a smaller player than Manafort or Michael Flynn or any of the family members (Jared Kushner, Don Jr).  However, it turned out he  brought up the possibility of meetings with a professor with ties to the Kremlin in search of dirt on Hillary Clinton.  This alone is a new hit to the side of the good ship Donny and his allies.

Electoral vote winner Donny and his minions, of course, who tried to downplay this, claiming Papadopoulos an unpaid advisor who didn't have a real role with the campaign.  The problem with that is who else was at the soon to be infamous meeting where he brought up meeting Russia.  It wasn't just small campaign types, but his current attorney general Jeffy Sessions and Donny himself.  Yup, both somehow were there.  This adds fuel to the fire that there just maybe might have kinda sorta been collusion between the campaign/administration of now electoral vote winer Donny and Russia.

Admittedly Papadopoulos is a low level player but his plea deal had him cooperating right under everyone's smug noses.  I have a feeling that pressure will be put on Manafort and Price to flip and turn over information.  Whether that's successful or not remains to be seen since many believe Manafort could just as likely stay silent, get convicted, and then get pardoned by Donny.  However, things are up in the air right now on that front.


There's still a lot to be discovered as the indictment is examined and poured over by everyone from legal experts to your average newshound.  What I do know is that any suggestion that the Mueller probe is over and that nothing will come from it is shattered.  There's still a lot to know and we're a long way from done in this long and twisted journey.

I expect we'll be commenting more ont his and news develops.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

St. Louis, The Protests, and What Should Alarm People regardless of Politics (The Story So Far)

By now, many of you have been exposed somewhat to the footage of protests that have emerged in St. Louis over the past few days following the acquittal of former police officer Jason Stockley in a bench trial last Friday.  If all you know is from the mainstream media, it appears the focus is on damage to property and the emphasis on things turning violent.  However, like many things with the mainstream media, things aren't that simple.

For the purposes of keeping things direct and to the point, we'll focus on things about the past few days.  For those wanting background on what Stockley was on trial for, this blog post gives some insight regarding why some people may be upset .  In addition, this analysis of the court ruling may also provide some insight.

While the media has been focusing on broken windows and vandalism, what I have been hearing from friends in St. Louis is that while there have been some incidents of the violence and damage, the majority of the protests have actually been non violent, if not actually peaceful (I assume that peaceful is being used as a synonym for polite in this instance but I can't be certain).  Other reports I've heard give the appearance that a heavily armed  (militarized) police presence added unnecessary tension to the situation. There are also reports that claims of chemical agents being found on protestors may be apple cider vinegar, which can be used to counteract the effects of tear gas, In the midst of this also comes  reports on social media of street medics being tear gassed (one of the reasons why the ACLU is reportedly filing a lawsuit over police tactics.)

 Then there's reports of undercover cops among the protestors and whether any of them may be stirring things up (conjecture at this point but history shows this has happened in the past so it's possible) to whether or not a cop broke a window of a restaurant in St. Louis (some report it was already broken but video shows there was a breaking sound so things are in the air on this one).  As with any evolving story, there are things that are subject to change so that needs to be taken into account.

Which leaves us to the thing that should piss everyone off, regardless of politics.  I'm talking about the arrest of between 80 to over 100 people around Sunday night/very early Monday morning.  Media reports claim over 80 but I've also heard numbers up to 120 so there's some variance there.  Here the police reportedly used a tactic of telling protesters to disperse but blocking them off so they couldn't disperse (more often referred to as kettling).  While questions actually remain about whether the protestors were actually told to disperse, the technique did arrest a lot of people.  However, whom they picked up once things got settled didn't help matters. 

While there were some protestors that were arrested, there were also a number of people swept up in the arrest kettle who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.  These were people who lived on the block, heard the commotion and went to see what was up, some people merely walking to their cars after dinner, a reported tourist or two, a stagehand in town for the cancelled U-2 concert who left a bar not knowing about the lockdown, and...an undercover cop. 

Yes,. an undercover cop who's job was the infiltrate the protests ended up getting handcuffed and, by some reports, bloodied by the police in these raids.  This leads to an interesting conundrum - don't the police have some sort of signal so they know who the undercover cops are?  You see mentions of that on occasion on crime procedural shows so you'd think a city like St. Louis would have that.  Instead, this brought to light an issue of undercover cops infiltrating protests.  To paraphrase what one friend on facebook who lives in the St Louis area posted after this became news, "If the St. Louis police can't tell undercover cops from protestors, how can the rest of us."

The revelation of an undercover cop being arrested (a fact that was revealed to the SWAT team the next day) also puts into question whether other acts of violence that went down during the protests may have been the work of undercover cops.  One friend of mine in St. Louis noted that the protesters were diverted down a street that led to the home of the city's new mayor (who's home had some damage in the aftermath) when the original intention was to disrupt the Forest Park balloon glow event.  While it remains conjecture to say the cops may be causing the property damage, anyone who knows the history of social justice movements knows of law enforcement infiltration and how, in a number of instances, said infiltrators were the ones pushed for more extreme acts, if not outright violence.  The fact that this question is now open to ask about and debate means a can of worms has been opened that may not have been intended by the powers that be in St. Louis.

Meanwhile protests continue in the St. Louis area and the police continue to act on cue by either overreacting (as in the case of the arrests of protestors at the St. Louis Galleria) opr try to shut down areas now even before protests start (as in Belleville, IL where an activist  bringing up the possibility of a protest fro Black Lives Matter in the town square found the city shutting down the town square beforehand (which, ironically, led the local activists to be able to reportedly protest throughout the city as the police qwere awaiting the worst at the town square).  News of reporters being arrested an assaulted by police have made the police reactions open to criticism in regards to freedom of the press to exercise their First Amendment Rights while city officials are slowly having to criticize how the people they hire to protect and serve have acted towards protestors (ost of whom have, in face, been non violent). 

And that's the story so far.  It may be a smaller story in light of Puerto Rico or the possibility of nuclear war but it still continues and likely won't be going away any time soon.


In light of the controversial nature of the topic we have decided to tentatively allow comments.  However, we reserve the right to moderate and remove extremely hateful and problematic ones and may decide to not allow comments on this post in the future.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

As Maria Crosses The Water

The Trouble With Normal is keeping the victims of Hurricane Maria in our thoughts as they recover from the current damage (Dominica).  We're also thinking of the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico who may be facing the brunt of Maria very shortly.  All I can say now is I hope people manage to make it out of this okay.  Adding to the damage caused by Hurricane Irma, what will be evident is there's still a lot of things that will need to be done.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Thoughts for Those Affected by Irma and Harvey

Our thoughts go out to the victims of Hurricane Irma in Florida and the Caribbean as well as those recovering from Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana, especially those who weren't able to get away when the storms hit. 

There's a lot of work ahead for people in both regions as they struggle to recover from what they lost in the storms aftermath.  While what's ahead will have various twists and turns, one thing is clear for those who dealt with either storm - this is far from over.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

If Not Sincerely Denouncing White Supremacists is Wrong, Electoral Vote Winner Donny Doesn't Want to Be Right

Here we are - we haven't even made it to Hump Day (Wednesday) yet and electoral vote winner Donny manages to not just completely undo, but draw drawers and take a massive dump on, any sense of normalcy and good will he might have gotten from the mainstream media and really naive people yesterday. 

Yep, I'm, talking about electoral vote winner Donny Trump's little press conference fiasco earlier afternoon where he managed to take his extremely milquetoast condemnation that most people who could put 2 and 2 together knew he didn't really believe (where he actually pointed out the KKK, white supremacists, and others) from yesterday, smash it against a brick wall, then stomp on it and set it on fire before really letting loose and doubling down on supporting his original statement from Saturday (see previous post for that) and taking it further.

In his speech today he claimed the reason he held off on Saturday was that he liked to wait until he knew "all the facts.".  He said the first statement was a Then he decided to take it further by asking "what about the violent alt left?"  As you take that in, realize that Donny not only went back to his "from many sides" bullshit from a few days back but added gasoline to the fucking fire in the process by implying that counter-protestors were just as responsible as the alt right. 

That, alone, is so full of shit it could make acid rain.  Then he took it one step further when he said that note everyone at the rally were neo Nazis.  With that statement alone, he managed to go from being a little miffed over giving a statement he was forced to make after several days of criticism over failing a very low bar to actually seeming to side with white supremacists and neo Nazis.  All while being as completely full of crap as he always is.

Let's start with the claim that he likes to wait and know all the facts before making a direct statement.  According to the Washington Post in his first six months in office he had 836 false of misleading claims.  Before even his running for office Donny was notorious for repeating spreading information that was untrue (remember the birther bullshit against Obama back in 2010 and 2011).  So, it doesn't really take that much work to uncover him running off and either talking or tweeting with little regard for facts. 

As for his refusal to name things until he knew for certain, as I said in the last post (and a ton of other people pointed out in too many places) Donny can get real specific when he wants to be, whether its implying that Mexicans were murderers and rapists or his attacks on everyone from primary opponents (remember his claim that Ted Cruz' dad killed JFK) to his repeated claims that you have ot name a problem before you can solve it (when it came to what he called "radical islamic terrorism" though he always was silent on white terrorists) he had a penchant for being direct and supposedly telling it like it was (his supporters claim, definitely not mine).  Yet, on this tragic event he not only refused to name the problem his so-called condemnation was taken as support from its supposed targets (with the exception of David Duke).  This continued after yesterday's supposed condemnation (which was reported as sincere by the mainstream media with some claiming he was Presidential).  In the aftermath of yesterday's speech Richard Spencer said he didn't take Trump seriously. 

So what happened in a span of 24 or so hours to make Donny not just go back to his original statement but double down?  Part of it came from his statement itself, which was delivered in a way that, to quote Bryan Cranston, felt like "a hostage forced to read a statement by his captors."  It was obvious he was reading a teleprompter and the part about Charlottesville seemed like a speech he was made to give (possibly by Gen. Kelly) than the economic part he wanted to give. 

It's also telling that the unraveling began really before he left eht press conference yesterday when he called Jim Acosta from CNN "fake news" and refused to answer a question on why it took so long to mention white nationalists.  From there came reports he was considering pardoning former AZ Sherrif Joe Arpaio (who was convicted on contempt of court charges), a tweet storm where he inadvertently retweeted someone who called him a fascist, then tweet a cartoon of a "trump Train" barreling through CNN, and a thank you from far right conspiracy theorist and Pizzagate pusher Jack Posobiec.  All that before today's press conference where things really turned to shit.

So why did he go this route?  Who knows.  It's telling though that David Duke, who was critical (if not outright angry) but the last couple of Trump speeches on last weekend thanked him for this one.  While I really hope its not the case that he's so hungry to be liked that he'd openly seek the approval of pieces of shit like Duke, Donny is known for having a desire for approval that seems almost contrary to the job he ran for over a year to get (one where being a shit magnet to some people comes with the territory).  Could he have gotten to this decision on his own?  What role did Steve Bannon play in this round?  We're in the weird world of conjecture here so it's anybody's guess.  However, today's statement managed to take what little good will he had (from the few people who actually believed it) and burned it to the ground.

What's next?  Who knows.  However, this can be wrapped up in combination with his claim that some of the people who were at the protests were angry over history being erased.  Now, personally I think that's bullshit but let's go there.  Suppose there's a person who actually believes in the whole history of the Confederacy theory and feels compelled to go.  Once they get there, they suddenly come across people in paramiliatry style outfits, some carrying the flag of Nazi Germany, and others with weapons.  At that point, this person had a choice: they could either back away, go home or get something to eat or they could stay and join the hatefest,.  Nobody would fault them if they did the former.  However, if they saw the Nazi shit and still decided to go along and march this makes them just as bad as the fucking Nazis.  This is why the history excuse rings hollow at best.

It's also why electoral vote winner Donny's statements today (especially ones where he was angrier at the media than white supremacist) makes him just as bad as the ilk he claimed to condemn.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Charlottesville Response - Or why Electoral Vote Winner Donny's "Condemnation" Wasn't Worth the Paper It Was Printed On

Like most people with any sense I was horrified and nauseated by the events that went down over the weekend by the so-called "alt right" ("white supremacists" or "white nationalists" is a more appropriate term for them - or maybe "alt reich") at the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, VA.  Between the angry march the night before of ignorant asshats (many in a uniform seemingly similar to what electoral vote winner Donny wears to play golf or tenni. i.e.: a whit epolo shirt, khaki pants, and the infamous red cap) marching with tiki torches to yesterday's rally gone over the edge where the shit these arguments for why abortion should be encouraged tried to provoke inevitably went down. 

After nearly a day of silence electoral vote winner Donny Trump issued one of the most milquetoast statements on the day's events ever made by an elected official.  While a surface level hearing made it sound like a condemnation of hate and bigotry, it really wasn't worth the paper it was printed on.  Here's why.

Let's start with the obvious.  In the statement electoral vote winner Donny said he condemned in the "strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides.."  Yes, you read that correctly, he actually said the violence came "from many sides" and didn't even mention white supremacists or Nazis.  Like a tweet he made a couple hours earlier where he urged Americans to "come together as one," he seemed to ignore the root causes of the situation while trying to push a false equivalency narrative.  While it appeared he said the words that vaguely echoed the statement he was supposed to say it seemed more out of obligation (like someone being forced to apologize for a wrong at a workplace out of fear of getting fired for example) than anything close to a sincere reflection or acknowledgement of national grief over this.

I know some supporters of Donny might want to say that "he's the president" and that he has to craft things in a way to reflect all people not just his base - thus he can't get into specifics.  However, as Shaun King points out Donny Trump is "specific when he feels like it."  From his response (as a presidential candidate) to the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL in June 2016 (in which he claimed to be "right on radical Islamic terrorism" [Islamic is capitalized in his tweet]. to his continuing to refer to his former opponent as "Crooked Hillary," there are numerous moments when our now electoral vote winner is willing to be specific in who he targets.  In fact, many of his supporters during the Presidential campaign claimed they supported him because he "told it like it is.."  Because of this his call for unity without specifics can't be taken seriously alone.  However, if you look deeper the reason Donny and company didn't call out white supremacists is more telling.

Keeping with his "condemnation" itself, a look at how it was taken by its intended targets.  A strong statement of condemnation would've made the point clear and would've garnered an angry response from the "white nationalists."  Instead, many of them supported a statement the mainstream media tried to paint as electoral vote winner Donny condemning them.  Andrew Anglin, founder of the neo Nazi web site Daily Stormer called Trump's respone "good"and mentioned that Trump "when asked to condemn walked out the room.  Really really good, God bless  him."  Infamous white nationalist figure Richard Spencer took Donny's "violence on many sides" line even further when he asked in a tweet if Trump "just denounced antifa? (anti fascist activists)" While there was one notable exception to this in David Duke's tweeting his disapproval of Trump's statement claiming that said statement attacked them and that Donny should remember "it was white americans put you in the presidency" the fact that two high profile white supremacists asshats actually voiced some form of approval on a statement that was allegedly supposed to condemn them is an obvious reflection on Donny's base and a hint of where his loyalties may lie.

At this point  some readers may be angry at what I just said.  Some may want to shout the usual insults towards anyone remotely on the left side of the political spectrum such as "libtard," "snowflake" or that my saying that is trying to shut down any speech I disagree with.  Others may be more subtle 0 asking if I really believe that Donny's base includes Nazis and white supremacists.  The latter may respond with "Hey, Trump can't be responsible for every person that votes for him."  or "Just because a few bad apples vote for him doesn't mean the whole movement is bad."  While I understand that not every individual that voted for electoral vote winner Donny is an admitted and open white supremacist, there is one reason why Donny has to take responsible for these people and their actions, especially yesterday - HE ACTIVELY COURTED THEM WHILE RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT!!!!

One of his earliest supporters of his campaign was former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke who praised Trump and actually said that voting against Trump was "treason to your heritage."  Duke was also at the rally over the weekend claiming its existence was to "fulfill the promise of Donald Trump."  As a candidate Donny's initial refusal to disavow Duke's support (and only halfheartedly disavowing it after much pressure) marked a massive break from tradition where politicians, even those with fairly racist leanings, knew to let people know that the support of Duke and his ilk weren't welcome.  Donny's immediate inaction was an opening of the floodgates.

"But that's just one case?" some of you may ask.  "You can't judge everyone by David Duke, using one example."  While it's true that a candidate can't patrol every person who supports them and that its inevitable that a few assholes will pop up along the way, Donny claimed to not know about Duke (even though interview footage from as far back at the 1990s shows otherwise) and refused to immediately respond to his support in kind.  It's also not an isolated incident.

Along the campaign trail, Donny's campaign repeated retweeted posts from white nationalist twitter sites (including a highly inaccurate one regarding homicide rates and police) even after he supposedly disavowed David Duke.  In addition, both Eric trump and Donald Jr made appearances on the Liberty Roundtable radio show, where they were interviewed by guest James Edwards, a white nationalist.  In Eric's case this happened a month (give or take a few days) before the election and a week after Trump economic advisor  Stephen Moore appeared on the show.  Add to this candidate Donny being endorsed by the KKK newspaper and the support, if not outright endorsement, of noted figures in the white nationalist movement such as Andrew Anglin and Richard Spencer (both of whom's liking of Donny's so called condemnation is mentioned earlier) and a pattern becomes clear that, far from being an anomaly, candidate Donny and his ilk sought out their support somewhat actively, if not full throttle.  Whether it's sincere or a cynical tactic to win and election is irrelevant since the damage is done.

Even after winning office electoral vote winner Donny continued to throw the white supremacists bones of access in the form of hiring former Breitbart editor Steve Bannon (who has said he wanted to make his website a meeting place of the alt-right) as chief strategist, Stephen Miller as senior advisor for policy, and Sebastian Gorka to a position working for the National Security Advisor.  All three of these people have supported positions that have undertones ranging from anti Muslim prejudice to outright thinly veiled racism to them throughout their careers.  This further entrenches the fact that Donny's statement condemning hate and violence rings hollow since he couldn't even take the basic steps of making sure people of similar views didn't get key positions on his own goddamn staff. 

So where does that leave us now?  A small glimmer of hope lies in the number of Repub politicians somehow taking stronger stances on condemning what happened yesterday than electoral vote winner Donny (though they still haven't taken responsibility for not truly disavowing this shit during the campaign).  However, as Donny moves on to fearing further investigations and threatening a possible nuclear war he continues to be oblivious to how his statement did nothing to heal divisions and, in fact, actually further emboldened white supremacist shitbags who took Donny's so called "condemnation" as a sign of approval more than anything else.  Until we deal with the systemic underpinnings of racism and white supremacy in our society and take concrete steps to rectify the damage it has caused then the cycle of hate will only continue - and possibly get worse.

And that is why electoral vote winner Donny Trump's so called "condemnation: of the events in Charlottesville, VA yesterday wasn't worth the paper it was printed on.

EDITOR'S NOTE: For the time being I have decided to allow comments to this post.  However, I wish to state that I reserve the right to block ignorant hateful bullshit if it pops up and may choose not to allow comments on this post in the future if circumstances demand it. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Just in time for back to school it's....A GRAND JURY!!!

So, as you know by now, it happened.

Yesterday (Thursday August 3, 2017) Special Counsel and former FBI Director Robert Mueller's investigation into connections between Russia and the administration/campaign of electoral vote winner Donny Trump reached a turning point of sorts when it was announced that Mueller would convene a Grand Jury on the matter.  This takes the investigation onto a level of seriousness that can't easily be denied.

What does this mean?  One simple explanation is that there's something serious in what happened between Russia and the Trump crowd.  At this point in time we're not entirely sure what it is (though we have ideas).  However, if this whole thing was a 'nothing burger" (to steal the right's latest co-opted and overused phrase) or a "Witch hunt" (as electoral vote winner Donny likes to tweet) it's unlikely that it would've reached this stage.  Would an investigation still be happening?  Probably, but if there was nothing there it would likely be dotting the i's and crossing the t's at this point.  So let's ask the question that;s on our minds: "What caused this?"

When I say we don't know exactly what in the search so far led to a Grand Jury being impaneled, there are good reasons to mention this.  For example, since the investigation began more lawyers were hired and reports emerged that the investigation may look into any possible business dealings on top of whether there was collusion in the actual election,  In addition, the long, winding, and sometimes confusing, road has been filled with Donny's minions feeding a mix of lies they later got caught on, reports of forgotten disclosures on forms required to work at the White House, and, of course, the infamous Donald Jr meeting with Russia where a draft statement that it was about adoption was exposed by Donny Jr. via a string of tweets where attached e-mails found that they were looking for dirt on Hillary Clinton.  And this is the stuff we know about.  With the investigation having access or trying to access information we don't have means there's something more serious to the potential rot that has gone down in the last couple of years with candidate Donny's campaign turned electoral vote winner Donny's administration.

There is also another possibility that means, even if the connection between people affiliated with electoral vote winner Donny and Russia were only moderately dangerous, that a Grand Jury was needed.  What got covered up?

We already know that covering up has gone down.  While the most recent was the leak that revealed that electoral vote winner Donny in fact dictated the infamous original statement that his son's meeting with a Russian lawyer on the campaign trail was about adoption (a rationale sunk like a winning blow in a game of Battleship when Donny Jr tweeted out pics of the e-mails), Donny;'s behavior since the investigation started has given the impression that something is being hidden.  Whether it's his alleged role in trying to get the Seth Rich murder conspiracy or their constant attempts to claim Hillary Clinton is actually the guilty one not them the past few months have shown that the more dirt gets uncovered the more Donny and company want to present things as if there was nothing to cover up.

So what's behind the ned for a Grand Jury?  Is it election collusion?  Something unsavory in Donny's financials that raised red flags?  A cover up that fits the description of the phrase, "it's not the crime, it's the cover up?"  At this point it may be anyone;s guess.  What is known now is that there's something serious on some level that needs to be brought to light.  Regardless of what happens with the Grand Jury, we now realize nobody can say with any honesty or seriousness that there was nothing going on between the current administration and Russia.  We just need to find out what exactly it was.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Protect Net Neutrality

As early as tomorrow, the FCC will hold a vote that could end the principle of Net Neutrality as we know it.  Currently, ISP's have to treat all websites the same but if Net Neutrailty is abolished what's to keep them from favoring one site over another? From smaller news and political sites being pushed aside in favor of large multimedia sites to the possibility of websites being slowed down for various reasons, there is a real danger.

This is expecially true when it comes to music and musicians as smaller labels and band websites could get blocked from a local by an ISP in favor of sites they themselves may have a stake in. 

A number of organizations froincluding (but definitely not limited to) the ACLU to the Electronic Freedom Foundation to Futureof Music Fondation are spekaing up to defend the principle that Internet Service Providers have to treat all websites fairly in terms of access.  For those wanting to speak out in favor of net neutrailty check out the following and make your voice heard.

dearfcc.org/

Remeber this affects all of us.  Even in the midst of the chaos regarding election chicanery, the Russians, and voter suppression plans.  This still matter so speak up.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Comey's Firing and the Blowback..

Since I briefly mentioned the French election from the start of the week (some might even say the end of the weekend since it fell on a Sunday) in the previous post, let's talk about the news event that's currently inescapable not just for those involved but for the rest of us....

Yes, I'm talking about electoral vote winner Trump's firing of FBI director James Comey on Tuesday afternoon with no notice and seemingly out of nowhere.  Given that nobody saw it coming, including Comey himself, this event seemed to drop and make waves that may change the country - just not in the way Donnie and his minions intended.

Almost immediately after it happened, there was a sense that this didn't pass the sniff test and that something was up.  Maybe it was the initial reason that was given: that the Trump administration was unhappy with how Comey handled the Hillary Clinton investigation and his treatment of her just before the election.  Given that the election was back in November and we were almost a third of the way into May at the time Comey lost his job, it seems like a spurious reason at best. Add to this, the electoral vote winner and his minions' praise of Comey around the time of the investigation and after the election (including from Sean Spicer, White House press secretary, just a week earlier) and it seems unbelievable.

Whats more pressing is the administration's claims that Comey being let go has nothing to do with his probe of Russia possibly colluding with the Trump administration in the race leading to the past election.  Given that the firing happened two days before Comey was to speak to Congress as well as the slow but steady revelation of ties between individuals in the Trump campaign (and/or his administration) and Russia, it becomes evident that his firing wasn't because of anything that happened six months ago but due to his continuing probe of possible Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election.

So what now?  The simple answer is there needs to be an independent special prosecutor to look into the probe and see if anything is being covered up.  While Democrats appear willing to offer this up, the Repubs aren't so willing.  Whether it's because of sheer partisan power plays and wanting to keep their jobs or just a naivete on a level unimaginable for someone on that level, the fact that many on the right still seem to think this is no big deal is disturbing.  Add to this the fact the firing came within less than a day of subponaes being handed out in a Grand Jury over the issue and it becomes clear that electoral vote winner Trump, co electoral vote winner Pence and their minions are trying to hide something and are drawing even more attention to the exact issue they hope would go away when Comey was fired. 


Admittedly, things are not over yet.  Even though Trump and company wanted the issue of Russia to go away, this action guarantees that a yuuuuuggggge spotlight will remain on the issue and his tweetstorms on the topic.  Time wil tell what will happen, but given that this appears somewhere between Watergate era Nixon and a third world dictator action, there needs to be a special prosecutor ASAP.


Delayed Note of How the Week Started - France Dodged a Bullet

Hey!  Sorry for being scarce on the blog front.  I was in the process of relocating for the time being to help out a seriously ill relative and have been busy doing all the usual moving related stuff.  While I still have a lot to do I thought it prudent to come on here briefly for a couple of post. 

We all know the big topic filling the room and we'll get to that in the next post.  But, for now, let's take a step back and remind ourselves how the week started. 

Yes, it's hard to believe only a few days ago the big news was the French election last Sunday where far right candidate for the National Front Marine Le Pen was steadily trounced by centrist Emmanuel Macron for the Presidency of the country.  While the centrism of Macron is far from great in a lot of ways, the fact that he beat the candidate some were comparing to electoral vote winner Trump by over 30 points is a massive sigh of relief in a world still dealing with Britain's Brexit vote and the current state of the U.S.

To be fair, a case can be made that this election had the lowest voter turnout in France since 1969.  However, their low voter turnout rate was 74%, a percentage that would probably scare the crap out of both the Repubs and establishment Democrats.  Thus, it's safe to say that the victory of Macron was legit. 

That doesn't mean it's over, Macron's party is still struggling to process candidates for elections to Parliament.  In addition there are three more European countries with elections coming up that could foretell the direction of the European Union, if not the continent's political leanings altogether.  Still, the fact that centrism beat a party that in the past had some openly neofacist tendencies (and may still have them under the surface) got the week off to a start that many thought would relieve some of the hype about the Repubs victory optics over the House repeal of the ACA. 

Little did anyone know what turns the next couple of days would take.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

RUSSIA, RUSSIA, RUSSIA (to be said in a tone similar to Jan Brady feeling trapped in her sister Marcia's shadow)

Let's get the obvious underway.  If you asked me back at the end of January if the administration of electoral vote winner Donald Trump and co electoral vote winner Mike Pence would be haunted by an overarching spector of Russia and whether the two were in collusion to fix the outcome of the 2016 election, I actually would've been a little doubtful. 

Yet, over 75 days into Trump's regime (his words - why the hell does he say that rather than his term?, but I digress) any talk of what Trump and company almost seems to be secondary to the spectrer of the rumors of possible collusion between Trump surrogates and Russia.  What started out with revelations of surrogates speaking with Russia (most notably Gen. Michael Flynn, who was Trump's national Security advisor for three weeks until news of his meetings cost him the job) seems to have taken on a life of its own with tentacles that go where few expect, almost to the point where once we almost understand one thing another pops up.

Let's look at the most recent example.  first, Devin Nunes, Republican congressman and head of the House Intelligence Committee.   Within the past few weeks, Nunes has seemed to do all he can to shut down any hearings on the matter.  Between a couple week period where he briefed the Trump administration on information before the Committee first to learning he was on the White House grounds the night before he went to give Donnie the scoop on info the Committee didn't even have, there was enough to wonder why he refused to recuse himself, if not wonder how the hell he could keep his job on said committee.  Then it became news that his information came came several officials in the White House (including one who's firing was personally stopped by the electoral vote winner himself) were the ones who gave Nunes the information he then briefed Trump on.  While the information itself may be preliminary, this sort of circular pattern definitely doesn't give the impression of any transparency.  While the Democrats in Congress are (in this case, rightly) alarmed, Nunes' fellow Repubs are almost blase here with several even claiming that he works for Trump, not the American people.  While we don't know what the information was, it is obvious that every day that Devin Nunes doesn't either recuse himself or resign from the House Intelligence Committee is a day that keeps us from finding out what the hell is going on.

Then, there's this week's big shocker - and it involves family of one of his cabinet picks.  News broke on Monday that the founder of paramilitary contractor Blackwater (now Xe) Erik Prince had set up a secret meeting in the Seychelles for  a back channel between the Trump administration and Russia.  While there's a lot of conjecture over what this entailed, the fact that Prince not only advised Trump but was close to several key people in the administration, including Steve Bannon, and that Prince's sister is Betsy DeVos, Trump's education secretary, and what we have so far can be problematic at least.  Between meetings of Trump officials past and present (including his son in law Jared Kushner) with the Russian Ambassador and the fact this meeting itself happened, it does little to quash any conjecture regarding election collusion or other things that may be considered untowards in political circles.  Was it to discuss Iran (as the Washington Post suggests)?  Does it have to do with financial issues either between Alpha Bank or the U.S. medical chain Spectrum (as was mentioned by Cenk Uygyr of the Young Turks)?  Could it be both?  Determining what exactly happened back in January there is still up in the air.  However, it's emergence manages to slightly push the news about Devin Nunes back yet does nothing in regards to taking people's minds off of Russia. As for the family connection, given that our new education secretary Betsy DeVos is Prince's sister, does anyone think that might have been part of the deal?  Time will tell.

So what now?  Given that what leaks seems to burst out the pipe fast and furious what we hear next can be anyone's guess.  However, given that many people thought Russia wouldn't be news by news, the fact that it still lingers in the newssphere means that there's something the administration isn't telling us.  It may be fairly innocuous, but since they refuse to come clea with it the possible cover ups keep this in our minds and the fallout may be far worse than if they just fessed up, apologized, and tried to move on. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Electoral Vote Winner Turmp's Had the Week That Was.....

This past week marked the two month anniversary of electoral vote winner Donald Trump taking the oath of office and the time of his term in the Oval Office.  While on the campaign trail, he swore o supporters there would be instant change that would automatically make everything better.  There'd be less regulation, and painted an impression that our military is weak and underfunded (even though the U.S. has the largest defense budget in the world and has had the largest budget on this front for years).  He promised that things would be different than they were under the Obama administration.  This past week proved that right - just not in a way he or his co electoral vote winner Mike Pence would imagine.

In the midst of unfounded claims that former President Obama had spied on his campaign before the election, the week got off to a shocking start when FBI director James Comey said they were investigating the Trump campaign and administration for any signs of collusion with Russia - and may prosecute if necessary.  All of this during a televised hearing at the House Intelligence Committee.  Comey also shot down claims of Obama spying on the new electoral vote winner, countering several weeks of tweets that seemed far etched even if Trump is given the benefit of a doubt.

That this was just on Monday, it came as somewhat of a revelation in the midst of claims that Russia may have played some role in the election and at least (at last count) seven Trump campaign officials (including his son in law Jared Kushner and new Attorney General Jefferson Sessions) having met with Russian officials.  While the mainstream media still did some more stuff regarding the spying tweets, they were moved to the back burner largely by this revelation.

Now, while the investigation is news, it should be taken with a grain of salt.  First, if the reports of true that they were investigating the Trump campaign since July then why did he reamin mum on this while making a big deal of reopening the investigation on HIllary Clinton's e-mails roughly a week before the election.  Given that some media reports call parts of the FBI Trumplandia, it seems a little strange that Comey would rise now.  Since investigations don't automatically mean convictions or impeachment (in this case), it's hard to predict how this will play out.  However, at a time when electoral vote winner Trump wanted glowing media and hype towards the planned vote on the American Health Care Act (sometiems known as Trumpcare of Ryancare [for Paul Ryan].  I prefer Tryancare, giving both of them the blame myself) it was a pothole that he didn't want - or need - to hir along the way.

Then the House subcommittee investigation gets weirder on Wednesday when chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R, CA) went to the White House to give a briefing to the Trump administration.  While for someone unaware of how these committees work that may not be a big deal, the fact he went to DOnnie and Mike before revealing any information to his own committee raised eyebrows and has many wondering whether Nunes is interested in where the truth lis or in GOP party politics and not pissing off the electoral vote winner.

Which leads to the question - should Nunes be investigated for this?  Given that he went to Trump with some possibel information regardin gthe probe on Russia before clearing it with his subcommittee, or even revealing said information to them, I think the answer should be yes on this.  Or at the very least, one should wonder why Nunes still has that seat to begin with. 

Still, all this pales in comparison to the administration pulling Tryancare just an hour or so before coming up for a vote because they were 10 votes short of the bill passing. With a bill that was would've caused either 24 million (CBO estiamte) or 26 million (a White House study) to lose their insurance as just the tip of the iceberg, the bill seemed hell-bent on removing any good thing that was in teh Affordable Care Act from removing maternity care to defunding Planned Parenthood to, according to some reports, possibly removing hopsital stays from things covered by insurance. 

While this bill would obviously be opposed by Democrats, te Hous e Freedom Caucus (a caucus that grew out of the tea party takeover of the gOP a few years back) were against it on the grounds that it still left a remote trace of Obamacare.  After an attempt by White House counsel Steve Bannon to crack the whip and make the GOP Senate support the bill, ten people went from supporting the bill to opposing it.

So who does Trump blame after having to pull a horrible bill that would've likely spent more time in court than in law at this point?  He acted indignant in wondeirng why he didn't have any support from Democrats.  Did Trump and company really believe that the Democratic Party would jump sides to vote to strip the legacy of previous Democratic president Barack Obama?  If he actually thought this he's more naive than even I thought.

More likely he's aware that enough of his followers will believe anything bad is the Democrats fault if he tells them it is.  Thus, rather than take responsibility for this fiasco he can just wind up his base by aiming their rage at the other side rather than figure out how government works. 

So, that leaves us to now.  After a golfing trip at a club in Virginia this weekend (though I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised if he flew to Miralago for at least one night of the weekend) it's back to the usual chaos.

By many accounts it's the first 100 days that a President's legacy is judged by in the long run.  The fact that any policy Trump can get through is via executive order (though the damage he can cause from it may destroy the whole damn planet way sooner than a lot of people previously thought) rather than through Congress may not be a permanent smear on electoral vote winner Trump's legacy but it does give him a couple of serious black eyes at the time he doesn't need them.  Maybe he;'ll do his damndest to make what he calls "the explosion of Obamacare" a self-fulfilling prophecy but the fact he couldn't make his media play and destroy it on the anniversary of its passing is a telling sign.

If the Democrats in the Senate follow through on filibustering Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, then things will be a lot rockier on Trump's road for a long time to come.


Friday, March 10, 2017

Scandals in Trumplandia - Flynn's BAAAAACCCCCCK!!!!!!!!!

Okay, I know I've been off the blog for a while for several reasons.  One, I've been writing for the print zine and have been focusing content there.  Also, between the holiday season and just trying to adjust to the times means that I've been focusing on other things.  However, with everything going on, some things have to fit here that can't fit in the constraints of the print issue so I'm back.

Our return to the blog focuses at retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who managed to make history with the shortest ever run as a Cabinet member when he was forced to resign as electoral vote winner Trump's national security advisor after only a few weeks when news emerged that he had lied to co electoral vote winner Mike Pence over whether he met with the Russian Ambassador on the campaign trail.  Flynn's revelation managed to keep the focus on possible ties between the Trump administration and Russia as news emerged with several other members of the administration (including Trump's son in law Jared Kushner and now Atty. General Jefferson Sessions) had met with Russia.  While this has managed to dog the Trump administration and shows few signs of going away (their attempts at covering up definitely don't help - as Sessions' near admission during his confirmation hearings would come to bite him in the ass), one thought that Flynn would fade away and become a footnote in the sphere of things.  That would be business as usual and be quite understandable.

However, since we don't live in times that are business as usual it should have been inevitable that Flynn would somehow re-emerge in the scandal sphere surrounding those working with our new electoral vote winner.  Sure enough he has when he retroactively registered as a foreign agent

It turns out that Flynn had earned over $530,000.00 lobbying on behalf of a company that had ties with the Turkish government.   While that alone may raise a few eyebrows, it gets worse when one learns he did this lobbying from August to October 2016, while he was acting as a surrogate for the Trump campaign.  While this alone could be a political flashpoint (especially if Flynn didn't leave his position), when added to the controversy over who met with Russia and whether the electoral vote winner knew about said meetings there leaves an area of murkiness that should shock people.

Which leaves us to a couple of major questions:  Did the Trump administration know Flynn was lobbying in this manner?  If so, did they care?  While White House press secretary Spicer says he doesn't think it was known, it might not be that simple.  As news dips out in regards to this, it appears the Flynn may have met government officials in his lobbying efforts.  In addition, a White House official says Flynn's personal lawyer contacted them before the inauguration about possibly having to file as a foreign agent

While Flynn is out of the administration this revelation leaves a bigger issue in the air.  Did electoral vote winner Trump and co electoral vote winner Pence know they had a possible foreign agent as a national security advisor?  Also, did Flynn's work with Turkey play a role in keeping said nation off of the travel ban (besides Trump's own holdings in Turkey)?  The fact that these questions are being asked at all leaves some obvious ethical questions lingering around us.

For now, the questions will remain unanswered as the Trump administration probably hopes that a new scandal will sweep this under the rug.  However, they also hoped new scandals and tweets would distract from any possible allegations of ties with Russia so that should be taken with a pillar of salt.  What is apparent is that the electoral vote winner somehow hired a national security advisor who lobbied a foreign government while as a surrogate for his campaign.  At that point, whether the administration knew or not is a major issue.

Until these issues are addressed and answered, these ethical minefields will be stomped on by the current administration.  While Flynn's latest revelation does take things by surprise, the fact he was lobbying for a company with ties to the Turkish government while acting as a campaign surrogate does leave some potential explosions that may backfire on the government if it is ignored, and reveals why an independent investigation may not just be a good idea but a necessity to get to the bottom of this whole damn mess.