March 15, 2018
One day after House Republicans announced they were ending their Russia investigation with a 150-page report concluding there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, the committee's top Democrat responded with a road map for continuing to investigate whether there was collusion with Russia.
Sprinkled throughout the 21-page document from Rep. Adam Schiff of California were several allegations of potential involvement between President Donald Trump's associates and Russia, which remain unproven publicly, as well as a smattering of new names that Democrats want to speak to in connection to the probe.Schiff's "status report" was the House Democrats' first step in a concerted effort to show that Republicans ended their probe prematurely and to lay the groundwork for potentially reopening the House's investigation next year should Democrats win back the House.Lawmakers and congressional officials said the document was intended to show the public — and other investigators — leads in the Russia investigation that the committee had discovered but not fully tracked down."We will be submitting to the public a detailed account of what we have learned to date, and the work that has to be done, if not by us, then by others," Schiff had said Tuesday
CONSUMER REPORTS RATES THE DONALD TRUMP
Culpeper Star Exponent
March 14, 2018
Overall Score: 35 (out of 100)
Emergency Handling: 12
Noise level: Off the charts
Pros: A totally unique experience
Cons: Noise, handling, reliability
Consumers have always been deeply divided about the Trump: They either love it or they hate it. And it’s not hard to understand why: In a market saturated with so many models that look, sound, and drive alike, the Trump sticks out like a Volkswagen Thing on a lot full of Kia Sedonas.
From the outside, the 2018 Trump lacks appeal: It comes in standard blue and red, with orange highlights and short fingers. The necktie is oddly long, the rear seat broad and spongy—yet the blond headliner comes across as over-designed. For the amount of money that went into it, the lack of refinement and grace notes is a surprise. Despite all that, the Trump has enough rough charisma to whip one crowd we saw recently into a fever.
Driving and Handling
On the highway, the Trump’s performance is much the same as it is around town: loud, clumsy, and frequently disconcerting. Handling is extremely awkward; the Trump is prone to swerve suddenly to the left or right, and at times even our professional drivers were unable to control it.
March 14, 2108
Why the Pennsylvania special election was a gut punch for the GOP: Yes, last night’s special congressional election in Pennsylvania was close; NBC News didn't call an apparent winner until 5:19 am ET. And, yes, this district won't exist in its current form come November due to the state's new map.
But the outcome — Democrat Conor Lamb getting 641 more votes than Republican Rick Saccone in a district President Trump carried by 20 points in 2016 — was a gut punch for Trump and the GOP 237 days before the 2018 midterms. Here are five reasons why:
1. THE RESULT WAS FURTHER EVIDENCE THAT DEMOCRATS ARE WAY OVERPERFORMING FROM 2016
2. THE GOP’S MESSAGING AND MONEY COULDN’T SAVE SACCONE
3. TRUMP COULDN’T SAVE SACCONE, EITHER
4. LAMB’S APPARENT VICTORY GIVES HIM A HEAD START FOR NOVEMBER
5. IT COULD TRIGGER SOME MORE GOP RETIREMENTS
Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball
UVA Center for Politics,
March 14, 2018
Assessing upcoming House specials in Arizona and Ohio after Lamb’s upset in Pennsylvania
KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE
-- An apparent Democratic takeover in a western Pennsylvania House district that President Trump won by 20 points is an embarrassing setback for Republicans.
-- The Republicans’ poor special election performances in general, combined with other factors such as the president’s low approval rating and a Democratic lead on House generic ballot polling, suggest the GOP House majority is in considerable danger.
-- Republicans remain favored in two pending special elections, AZ-8 and OH-12, but we are downgrading their chances in both. We also are moving three other races in Ohio from Safe Republican to Likely Republican.
-- That said, the AZ-8 and OH-12 specials have key differences from PA-18 that may make them easier for Republicans to defend.
CNN March 12, 2018
Oprah Winfrey has some advice for Americans feeling jaded:
"You've got to stay in the light."
Everybody is "feeding ... on the hysteria and the negativity," Winfrey said.."The darkness is there to show you your light," Winfrey advised, citing the example of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivors who are now campaigning for gun control."Look at what happened with the darkness that showed up in Parkland (Florida), and the darkness that showed up on the streets of Ferguson (Missouri), and the darkness that showed up in many, many, many homes in Chicago with shootings and senseless murders -- it brings out the best in people," the TV legend and philanthropist added.Challenged by Van Jones during the interview as to whether or not this philosophy was really feasible, and what she would say to those who might say "we're tired of going high, we want to go low," Winfrey was clear."There will be some people who do that, but you will not eventually win," she said. The workers and leaders of the Civil Rights movement proved her point, she told Jones."There hasn't been a darker time, I believe, for our people, other than slavery, than what was going on in the civil rights movement. And the young people, like the John Lewises of the world said, 'No more. Enough. Find another way,'" she told Jones, referring to civil rights icon and longtime US Rep. John Lewis of Georgia.
New Yorker Magazine
March 12, 2018
In January, after a long day at his London office, Christopher Steele, the former spy turned private investigator, was stepping off a commuter train in Farnham, where he lives, when one of his two phones rang. He’d been looking forward to dinner at home with his wife, and perhaps a glass of wine. It had been their dream to live in Farnham, a town in Surrey with a beautiful Georgian high street, where they could afford a house big enough to accommodate their four children, on nearly an acre of land. Steele, who is fifty-three, looked much like the other businessmen heading home, except for the fact that he kept his phones in a Faraday bag—a pouch, of military-tested double-grade fabric, designed to block signal detection.
A friend in Washington, D.C., was calling with bad news: two Republican senators, Lindsey Graham and Charles Grassley, had just referred Steele’s name to the Department of Justice, for a possible criminal investigation. They were accusing Steele—the author of a secret dossier that helped trigger the current federal investigation into President Donald Trump’s possible ties to Russia—of having lied to the very F.B.I. officers he’d alerted about his findings. The details of the criminal referral were classified, so Steele could not know the nature of the allegations, let alone rebut them, but they had something to do with his having misled the Bureau about contacts that he’d had with the press.
Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball
UVA Center for Politics,
March 8, 2018
KEY POINTS FROM THIS ARTICLE
— With less than a week to go, the PA-18 special election moves from Leans Republican to Toss-up.
— In addition to that ratings change, we are making 25 other changes in the House, all in favor of Democrats.
— No Democratic incumbent is now rated worse than Likely Democratic, a nod to the reality that in a Democratic-leaning environment it will be difficult for Republicans to dislodge many or perhaps even any Democratic incumbents, though there are a handful of Democratic open seats that are more viable Republican targets.
— After these ratings changes, for the first time this cycle we have fewer than 218 seats (the number needed for a majority) at least leaning to the Republicans.
— Making his debut in our competitive House ratings is the chamber’s most powerful member, Speaker Paul Ryan (R, WI-1). While his district is competitive but clearly Republican-leaning on paper, this shift mostly reflects uncertainty surrounding his future.
Daily Beast by Joy Reid
March 3, 2018
While Trump and His Cabinet Loot the Palace, the GOP has Reckoning Coming It's Way
It seems axiomatic that the past and the future cannot exist at the same time. Thanks to the space-time continuum, people from different centuries cannot live simultaneously. The same goes for a nation, which cannot survive pulling toward the future and toward the past at once.
The United States is at a fulcrum. We are two countries—one lurching for the future, one yearning for the past—that cannot live together, because we can’t be both things. Donald Trump may have brought on the breaking point, but he didn’t create the schism. It was already there for him to exploit. It was there during enslavement, when President Lincoln declared that the country could not survive half slave, half free, and it took a civil war to force these two nations: one brutal but pastoral, the other urban and focused on finance and technological innovation, often with its own kind of cruelty, to remain under one roof. Today, Trump is speeding us toward decline—the very decline his supporters so feared. His imperious leadership; his family’s grubby pretense at royalty and the apparent mad dash among members of his cabinet and White House team to hawk their positions for cash and luxuries have the feel of a decrepit regime looting the palace in its final days; stuffing the silver in their coats as they flee into exile.
GOP Happy Faces after Tax Reform
March 1, 2018
The biggest threat to Democrats in the 2018 election may be the risk of repeating their biggest mistake in the 2016 election.
That mistake was Hillary Clinton’s decision to focus almost all of her effort on convincing voters that Donald Trump did not share their values, while failing to effectively challenge his promise that he would represent their economic interests. That failure helped Trump win despite exit polls showing about three-fifths of voters doubted he had the experience or temperament to succeed as president.
The comparable risk for Democrats this year is that they will be caught in an endless succession of Trump-centered battles—both cultural (guns, immigration) and personal (Russia, White House chaos)—and fail to effectively challenge the GOP claim that its tax-cut plan is benefiting average families. Republicans expect that if voters believe the party is putting more money in their pockets, even many people recoiling from Trump’s performance will still vote to maintain GOP control of Congress. ... But the trajectory shows that, in the short term, Republicans—and their business allies—have been winning the tax debate. If Democrats can’t reverse that trend, it could limit their gains this fall.
Reuters February 27, 2018
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday curbed the ability of immigrants held in long-term detention during deportation proceedings to argue for their release in a ruling in sync with President Donald Trump’s get-tough approach toward immigration.
The court’s conservative justices carried the day in the 5-3 decision that overturned a lower court’s ruling that required that immigrants held by the U.S. government awaiting the outcome of deportation proceedings get a bond hearing after six months of detention to seek their release.
The ruling could lead to indefinite detentions of certain classes of immigrants, including some with legal status who the government wants to deport.
The court’s five conservatives were in the majority in the ruling written by Justice Samuel Alito. Three liberals dissented, including Justice Stephen Breyer, who sharply criticized the decision. Another liberal, Justice Elena Kagan, did not participate.
Class action litigation brought by the American Civil Liberties Union challenged the government’s practice of placing immigrants facing deportation proceedings in detention for months or years without being able to argue for release.
CNBC February 26, 2018
President Donald Trump's travel ban targeting people from six Muslim-majority countries violates the U.S. Constitution by discriminating on the basis of religion, a federal appeals court ruled, in another legal setback for the policy.
The Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, on a 9-4 vote last week, became the second federal appeals court to rule against the ban, finding that the Republican president's own words demonstrated that bias against Muslims was the basis of the policy.
The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed the ban, put in place by Trump with a presidential proclamation in September, to go into effect while litigation challenging it continues.
The 4th Circuit ruling went further than the earlier decision by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which found the ban violated federal immigration law but did not address the question of whether it also violated the Constitution. The Supreme Court already has said it will consider both issues in deciding the legality of the ban in the coming months.
The justices are due in April to hear arguments over the ban and issue a ruling by the end of June. "Examining official statements from President Trump and other executive branch officials, along with the proclamation itself, we conclude that the proclamation is unconstitutionally tainted with animus toward Islam," 4th Circuit Chief Judge Roger Gregory wrote in the ruling
American Public Media Reports
February 22, 2018
A growing chorus of ethics officials, including the acting director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, warns that President Trump's conduct related to his business interests is causing a dangerously negative public perception of the nation's ethics system.
"These are perilous times," said David Apol, acting director of the Office of Government Ethics. His comments came in a rare interview earlier this month that happened to be the same day President Trump nominated someone to replace him. "When the head of your organization, the head of your government says these rules aren't important enough for me to comply with, that makes the program challenging. And that changes the relationship, the way people view the ethics program," he said.
A national survey by Transparency International shows Apol has it right: The majority of the Americans polled believe public corruption is getting worse.
Culpeper Star Exponent from The Washington Post
February 22, 2018
Almost exactly a year ago, gun-rights groups asked a federal appeals court to consider whether a Maryland law banning assault weapons was unconstitutional.
The law was passed in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre, which left 20 first-graders and six adults dead after a man bearing an AR-15 style weapon stormed the school, shooting kids and teachers classroom by classroom.
The court ruled that the ban on the assault weapons like the one Adam Lanza used inside Sandy Hook that day — like the one Nikolas Cruz would confess to using inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas and the one Omar Mateen would use inside Pulse Nightclub and that Stephen Paddock would use from inside the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas — was constitutional.
It was not the first time a federal appeals court had ruled that a ban on assault weapons was permissible under the Second Amendment. It was the fourth time in the last decade. In fact, no federal appeals court has ever held that assault weapons are protected.
CONGRESS SAYS LET THE MENTALLY ILL BUY GUNS
Republican Senator Grassley Sponsored This Bill a Year Ago and was Proud of It, Now After the Parkland High School Massacre He's Fumbling Around to Find an Excuse for Such Reprehensible Legislation
New York Times February 15, 2017
For all their dysfunction, the Republican Senate and House have managed to act with lightning speed in striking down a sensible Obama administration rule designed to stop people with severe mental problems from buying guns.
President Trump, who championed the National Rifle Association agenda as a candidate, is expected to sign the regressive measure. This, despite the Republican mantra that tighter control of mentally troubled individuals — not stronger gun control — is the better way to deal with the mass shootings and gun carnage that regularly afflict the nation.
The Senate voted Wednesday to join the House in revoking the rule.
WHEN WILL THE REPUBLICANS LEARN THE ERROR OF THEIR WAYS!
February 16, 2017
The mammoth indictment issued by special counsel Robert Mueller on Friday sparked a wave of Democratic calls to shield November’s midterm vote from foreign interference — but only scattered GOP demands for stronger safeguards.
The divided response to the charges against 13 Russian nationals for a long-running, well-funded bid to influence the 2016 election underscores lawmakers’ difficulty in agreeing on any legislation to counter Moscow’s disruption campaign.
Bipartisan proposals to bolster election cybersecurity and toughen disclosure rules for online political ads have yet to gain momentum in the GOP-controlled Congress. And lately, Democrats have focused more on pushing President Donald Trump on Russia sanctions that his administration chose not to impose last month.
Still, numerous Democrats seized on the indictment, with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) lamenting that Trump “denies reality” by minimizing Russia’s offensives and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) slamming Trump for presenting no “strategic plan to confront the Russians.”
Posted February 15, 2018
After the ADL's annual review of extremist who killed American citizens in 2017, the award for the Domestic Extremists of the Year goes to:
(Drumroll, please ... )
RACIST WHITE PEOPLE!
The number of white supremacist murders in the United States more than doubled in 2017 compared to the previous year, far surpassing murders committed by domestic Islamic extremists and making 2017 the fifth deadliest year on record for extremist violence since 1970.
In its annual assessment of extremist-related killings, the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism found white supremacists and other far-right extremists were responsible for 59 percent of all extremist-related fatalities in the U.S. in 2017, up dramatically from 20 percent in 2016.
Washington Post, February 12, 2018
Now that a consensus is beginning to emerge that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has the evidence to make a compelling case of obstruction of justice against President Trump, the president’s defenders have trotted out a new defense: that obstruction on its own is a mere “procedural crime” that doesn’t really count unless coupled with proof of guilt on an underlying crime.
In other words, defenders view the Mueller probe as akin to the Watergate investigation without the break-in. But this view is wholly untenable.
The legal version of the argument is, as explained by Rich Lowry in National Review, “if Trump didn’t collude with Russia — or doesn’t have some other criminal secret to hide — it’s hard to see what his corrupt intent would be in an obstruction case.” First, the premise doesn’t hold water. We won’t know for some time what Mueller’s probe will uncover, but we already know that the Trump campaign had extensive contacts with Russians — The Post has reported more than 30 — and that Trump flatly lied in claiming there were none.......
The New Yorker
February 11, 2018
Trump is the least mysterious figure in the history of the American Presidency. His infantile character, duplicity, cold-heartedness, and self-dealing greed are evident not merely to the majority of the poll-answering electorate but, sooner or later, to those who make the decision to work at his side. This is manifest even in Trump’s favored medium, reality television. Recently, fans of “Celebrity Big Brother” witnessed Omarosa Manigault-Newman, the unforgettably forgettable former White House aide in charge of nothing at all, tearfully confessing her global despair. “It’s not going to be O.K.,” she said.
No kidding. Sooner or later, Trump’s satraps and lieutenants, present and former, come to betray a vivid sense of just how imperilled and imperilling this Presidency is. In their sotto-voce remarks to the White House press, these aides seem to compete in their synonyms for the President’s modesty of intelligence (“moron,” “idiot,” “fool”); his colossal narcissism; his lack of human empathy.
And those who know him best recognize the political consequences ahead.