Wednesday, March 22, 2017

WHEN IT COMES TO CONNECTING THE TRUMP-RUSSIAN DOTS, REP. DEVIN NUNES IS EITHER REALLY INEPT, OR SIMPLY BAD AT LYING

When it comes to getting to the bottom of Russian intervention in our 2016 presidential election, there's some serious incompetence going on in the halls of Congress. Either that, or the GOP leaders in the House Intelligence Committee - but especially Rep. Devin Nunes - are not very good at lying.


Let's consider the following question(s) ...

Is it a crime if someone hacked your computer, stole documents, and then selectively leaked the information to deliberately damage or hurt you? You bet. However, what if a foreigner did the hacking? Let's  make that a Russian hacker. Is it still a crime? According to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), if a foreigner is involved in hacking and releasing information, it's less of a crime.

It might not even be that important.

However - and this is the strange part - according to Rep. Nunes and his colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee, while foreign hackers might not be a problem in his book, writing about those who speak with hackers and their collaborators leaves you open to criminal prosecution.

To recap. If you're a foreigner and you commit a crime, it's probably not that important, according to Rep. Nunes. But those who write about the criminal activity should be prosecuted.

Welcome to Donald Trump's America, where writing about the crime is more important than the actual crime. And it's all brought to you by the Republican Party, who suddenly don't care if foreigners attack and subvert America's democratic process.

But wait. It gets better (or is that worse?).

It turns out that Rep. Devin Nunes, the head of the House Intelligence Committee, not only doesn't seem to care about foreign (Russian) hackers, but he claims he doesn't know anything about some of Donald Trump's very public and biggest sycophants, Carter Page and Roger Stone, who had direct contact with (or knowledge of) the players involved in the hacking.



Here's the real fun part: Rep. Devin Nunes was on Donald Trump's Presidential Transition Team when Carter Page and Roger Stone were very publicly running around Trump Towers.

And he's the head of the House Intelligence Committee.

What this means is that as head of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Nunes is either inept, or not very good at lying to the press about what he knows.

Either way something's wrong.


What's clear is that the Republicans need to participate in the appointment of an independent prosecutor. This is absolutely necessary if we're ever going to get to the bottom of Russia's assault on America's democracy.

Absent this, the GOP is simply participating in and allowing the gradual erosion - and even collapse - of the American democratic experiment.

- Mark

Monday, March 20, 2017

REP. ADAM SCHIFF CONNECTS TRUMP-RUSSIAN DOTS ... IT'S CLEAR THERE ARE FEW "COINCIDENCES" AND, YEAH, TRUMP'S IN TROUBLE


Rep. Schiff, Part I.

The Trump-Russia dot connecting (string of coincidences?) begins at 6:30 into the clip, and clearly opens Donald Trump to accusations of treason ...



Rep. Schiff, Part II.

More Trump-Russia dot connecting, with Rep. Schiff weaving together a stream of "coincidences" beginning at 2:44 into the clip ...


The real interesting part here is how Rep. Schiff compares Russia's 2016 cyberattack break-in of the Democratic National Committee's computers to Richard Nixon's Watergate break-in by a group of people (the "plumbers"), who ultimately were convicted and went to jail (before Nixon's resignation).

The number of Russian-related lies by the Trump administration's appointees, and cabinet members, make it clear there are few coincidences in the Trump-Russian story. So, yeah, there was collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia.


After today, you know a Tweet storm's coming.

Stay tuned ...

- Mark

TAX EVASION JUNKIES ... THE REALITY OF AMERICA'S FINANCIAL ELITES, AND THE BANE OF OUR ECONOMY


I've been writing about the tax shelter game for some time now. Still, this clip (and Bernie Sanders) reminds us why corporations, and people like Donald Trump, don't pay their fair share of taxes. Tax loopholes, generous tax write-offs, offshore tax havens, and regular bailouts leave you and me to pick up the tab for basic services and a skyrocketing national debt ...


Think of this the next time Trump talks about eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax.

- Mark

Click here for an informative op-ed discussion on the AMT from the Denver Post.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

SUNDAY NIGHT READING (March 19, 2017)



BluExit: A modest proposal for separating Blue States from Red (New Republic).

Rep. Joe Kennedy III slams Paul Ryan on ACA repeal - then forces GOP lawyer to admit major exclusion (Daily Kos).

What the world's nations are best at, revealed in one map (Independent).

In a place of need, an unhealthy contradiction (Washington Post).


JUST INTERESTING/STUFF TO KNOW
Here's the reality about illegal immigrants in the United States (NY Times).

L.A. officials to ICE: Stop calling yourselves police (CNN).

It's finally here: Radioactive plume from Fukushima makes landfall on America's West coast  (Environews).

The night I fired Donald Trump (Pollstar).


THE GOP's "HATE THE DARKIES" FEST CONTINUES
Francisca Lino, mom of six, is about to be deported. Her congressman protested and was handcuffed (Washington Post).

U.S. citizen detained nearly 24 hours in San Ysidro (NBC News).

Man breaks into mosque, rips up copies of Quran (Huffpost).

Afghans who worked for U.S. are told not to apply for visas, advocates say (NY Times).


BAKERSFIELD IN THE NEWS ... IT'S NOT GOOD (again)
'A hidden health crisis': Toxic stress driving up Kern death rates (Bakersfield Californian / AcesConnection).

These are the 10 most White Trash cities in California (Home Snacks).


GOP NEANDERTHALS
Rep. Steve King: 'We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies' (Yahoo!).

'Is that not correct?: Male GOP lawmaker asks why men should pay for prenatal coverage (Washington Post).


TRUMP'S MORE PATHETIC THAN WE THOUGHT
After pledging to donate salary, Trump declines to release proof (NBC News).

Trump's salary will be donated at the end of the year, says Sean Spicer (NBC News).

The astonishing dysfunction of Trump's State Department, in one quote (Vox).


RUSSIAN/TRUMP CORRUPTION ALERT
This level of corruption is unprecedented in the modern history of the presidency (Esquire).

Bharara hints in tweet that he was fired because he was investigating Trump (Raw Story).

Republicans are becoming Russian accomplices (Washington Post).

Memos: CEO of Russia's state oil company offered Trump adviser, allies a cut of huge deal if sanctions were lifted (Business Insider).

Rachel Maddow just aired Trump's dirty Russian money laundry (American News X).

Leak reveals Rex Tillerson was director of Bahamas-based U.S.-Russian oil firm (The Guardian).


"LIKE A DRUNKEN SAILOR ..." COMES TO LIFE
Admiral, seven other charged with corruption in new 'Fat Leonard' indictment (Washington Post).

Prostitutes, vacations and cash: The Navy officials 'Fat Leonard' took down (Washington Post).


FROM YOUTUBE
"No thanks": Best DHS checkpoint refusals EVER (Top Buzz)!

Adidas rejects student,s commercial made for them, and now it's going so viral they probably regret it (Bored Panda).


MISCELLANEOUS
Bootstrap myth exposed: White inheritance key driver in racial wealth gap (Channel 3000).

Mom pulls gun on another mom at Texas elementary school's drop-off line (HuffPost).

This GOP senator just attributed a well-known liberal quote to Ronald Reagan (Washington Post).

There is no deep state (The New Yorker).

Before you cut foreign aid to fund defense, consider where it goes and what it does for U.S. troops and national security (CSIS).

- Mark

THE TRUTH ABOUT OBAMACARE IN KERN COUNTY, CALIFORNIA


The CEO of Clinica Sierra Vista, Steve Schilling, published an insightful response to a local right wing radio host who wrote a misleading and factually incorrect op-ed about Obamacare in Kern County. Mr. Schilling's response in the Bakersfield Californian is spot on, and based on real time facts in the field of health care. For the record, Mr. Schilling could also have been speaking to Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), House Majority Leader from Bakersfield, whose position on Obamacare is as misguided and factually incorrect as is our local radio host's. 


**********************
REPEALING OBAMACARE IS THE REAL JOB KILLER

In response to Inga Barks’ March 2 column, “Reform healthcare, even if government jobs are lost,” the claim that the Affordable Care Act is a job-killer and only created more government-funded jobs is not based in fact or reality.

There is also no evidence that millions of full-time employees became part-time employees or that large numbers of employers kept their workforce to less than 50 employees just to avoid the employer-mandate.

Since the passage of the ACA, popularly known as Obamacare, the U.S. workforce has grown by millions of full-time workers, while fewer people are working unwillingly in part-time jobs. In fact, the U.S. unemployment rate has experienced a steady decline since its implementation, moving from 9.9 percent in March 2010 to 4.7 percent in February 2017. Private sector employment has grown every single month since the ACA passed on March 23, 2010.

Study after study has surfaced over the years, disproving many critics’ claims that the ACA was a job-killer. The reality is, jobs were not lost and the number of part-time workers did not rise. Despite continued assertions by ACA opponents, there is no evidence that supports the notion that the “employer mandate” has led to an increase in part-time employment at the expense of full-time jobs. The ACA was not the “job-killer” many had feared it would be. Quite the opposite is true.

As Obamacare was implemented, private doctors’ offices, clinics and hospitals hired tens of thousands of employees to keep up with the growing demand. If anything, there were not enough health care professionals to meet the demand and that was one of the biggest shortfalls of this historic health care legislation. Additional private sector jobs were created when the demand for goods and services spilled over into other areas of the economy. Health care now represents over 18 percent of the U.S. economy.

The Commonwealth Fund estimates that with the repeal of Obamacare, over 300,000 jobs will be lost in California by 2019. A repeal of the ACA would result in a loss of 2.6 million jobs nationally, with 97.5 percent of the losses occurring in the private sector. Only 2,000 “spillover” federal, state, and local government jobs would be among the job loss casualties.

The real “job-killer” among us is the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The law that essentially saved and created jobs and covered millions of Americans is now being threatened by unproven claims and a Congress that is making a hasty attempt to make good on an ill-advised campaign promise.

Job loss is not the only consequence of the repeal of Obamacare. Loss of access to health coverage will be the greatest impact. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that a repeal of Obamacare without enacting a viable replacement could leave at least an additional 24 million people without health insurance by 2026.

This would equate to a substantial loss for Kern County. According to the University of California, without the Medi-Cal expansion, Kern is at risk for losing an estimated 4,000 jobs and 95,000 county residents would lose health coverage.

Health care is not a commodity for the wealthy or the privileged. It is our belief that it is a basic human right that should be afforded to everyone based on each individual’s resources and ability to pay. Our community simply cannot afford this economic, and health, setback. These losses would devastate our economy and leave thousands of our family, friends and neighbors without the health coverage that they deserve.

Ms. Barks, it’s irresponsible to be cavalier with other people’s lives. No one is immune to disease, accidents or injuries. For many people, what we are talking about is life or death situations. We see this every day in our community health centers. During these divisive times let’s take politics out of it and let us be the community that embraces compassion and empathy. Let’s model this behavior for future generations.

Steve Schilling is CEO of Bakersfield-based Clinica Sierra Vista, a nonprofit corporation that provides health care to a low-moderate-fixed income patient population.

Kern County, California. 
*****************************
- Mark

Friday, March 17, 2017

TRUMP WHINING ABOUT SNOOP DOGG SHOWS HOW LITTLE HE UNDERSTANDS ABOUT AMERICA



Our so-called president, Donald Trump, thinks Snoop Dogg - "failing career and all" - would have received jail time if he had created the mock presidential assassination video when President Obama was in office.

________________________________
________________________________


Here's one of many things wrong with Donald Trump's "jail time!"claim: As the Washington Post points out, "Rap lyrics aren't actual bullets" and "if there's not a true threat, then it's absolutely protected free speech."

So, yeah, Donald Trump's simply whining, again.

In Trump's world, it's OK for him to recklessly claim that President Obama is not a U.S. citizen, then accuse him of wiretapping his phone lines, with absolutely no evidence. But if someone mockingly shoots a bad caricature of him with a toy flag gun, in an act of artistic expression, the topic of "jail time!" has to be broached.

Perhaps the biggest problem I have with our so-called president being such a wilted flower on this is that President Obama - who Trump tried to delegitimize with his birther stupidity - endured far more actual threats and "jokes" that called for his death; and they weren't part of a rap song, or any other artistic interpretation (as you can see hereherehere, and here). People like Ted Nugent were actually calling or praying for President Obama's death, and there was no "jail time!" for him, as Donald Trump is now throwing out there.


One more thing.

In the United States, the 1st Amendment is pretty sacrosanct. It's one of the reasons garbage like "Infowars" gets to spew the ignorance and stupidity that Trump's supporters thrive on. What this means is that creative art is also protected under the 1st Amendment. So, yeah, if the lunacy that comes out of Infowars gets a pass as free expression, Snoop Dogg's artistic expression does too.

Real Americans understand this. Trump does not.

I'll leave you to fill in the blanks.

- Mark

Thursday, March 16, 2017

83% of AMERICA'S TOP SCIENCE STUDENTS ARE CHILDREN OF IMMIGRANTS ... BUT HISTORY TELLS US THIS ISN'T REALLY NEWS

Albert Einstein immigrated to the U.S. Would he be welcome, or harassed today?

Donald Trump's baseless travel ban, and his racist war against people of color (let's call it what it is), will end up damaging the United States over the long term if it continues to discourage people from coming to America. Already the tourism industry is reporting financial losses after Donald Trump became president, which is eerily similar to what happened when the United States reported hundreds of billions of dollars in losses after the xenophobic anti-Muslim hysteria that gripped the nation after September 11, 2001.

But this is not an empty scare tactic about lost business opportunities in modern America. No, it's about what America will lose in the future.

Forbes magazine is reporting that 83% of America's top high school science students are the children of immigrants. Specifically, Forbes writes:

What would we lose if immigrants could no longer come to America? Surprisingly, one of the most important things America would lose is the contributions made by their children.

A new study from the National Foundation for American Policy found a remarkable 83% (33 of 40) of the finalists of the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search were the children of immigrants. The competition organized each year by the Society for Science & the Public is the leading science competition for U.S. high school students. In 2017, the talent search competition was renamed the Regeneron Science Talent Search, after its new sponsor Regeneron Pharmaceuticals,and a new group of 40 finalists – America's next generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians – are competing in Washington, D.C., from March 9 to 15, 2017.

Both family-based and employment-based immigrants were parents of finalists in 2016. In fact, 75% – 30 out of 40 – of the finalists had parents who worked in America on H-1B visas and later became green card holders and U.S. citizens. That compares to seven children who had both parents born in the United States ...

If the scientific and intellectual capital that lies at the heart of America were to slowly drain away over the next few decades - because of the Trump administration's incessant race-baiting and ethnic scapegoating - rest assured that much of the economic dynamism and energy that supplies places like the Silicon Valley with talent and creativity would disappear as well.

The founders of Google and Yahoo!, for example, were both immigrants. Heck, the father of Steve Jobs was a Syrian immigrant (a political refugee).

Where would they go in Trump's America? Your guess is as good as mine. But one thing is clear: making America fear and hate (again) is no way to make it great.

You can read the remainder of the Forbes article by clicking here.

- Mark

Hat tip to Agulia for the link.

TRUMP'S POLITICAL FACE ... IT'S NOT PRETTY

Remember "Bush's Brain" (about Karl Rove)? Unfortunately, with President Trump, it's much worse than a political campaign manager manipulating the political strings of a U.S. president. It's the unvarnished reality behind Donald Trump's political face ... and it's not pretty.


- Mark

Hat tip to Seven, for the disturbing reference.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

THE TRUTH ABOUT THE McDONALD'S COFFEE LAWSUIT ... and why the frivolous lawsuit movement's a scam


Apart from learning the truth about the coffee spill lawsuit, we learn how corporations like McDonald's turned a legal loss into a political tsunami of negative publicity against your legal right to sue in this YouTube clip ...




So, yeah, if you're against "frivolous lawsuits" and are standing by while our 7th amendment rights are slowly being chipped away, you clearly don't understand the misinformation behind the frivolous lawsuit movement.

More to the point, you've been duped.

- Mark

Kudos to David for the clip.

RISE OF THE MACHINES, AND THE LOSS OF YOUR JOB ... ARE YOU READY?



From CNN Money we get "Rise of the Machines: Fear robots, not China or Mexico," with an easy to understand video clip of what's been happening in our world since the dawn of time ...



So, are you ready?

- Mark 

Monday, March 13, 2017

WHY IS OUR GLOBAL FINANCIAL SYSTEM SUCH A MESS? LET'S START HERE ...



If you want to understand the mess that's confronting our global economic financial system, in the clip below one European member of parliament, Britain's Godfrey Bloom, raises some serious questions - specifically about abuses in our fractional reserve banking system, and especially with our legal counterfeiting system called "quantitative easing." Enjoy ...



- Mark

RISE OF THE MACHINES: ALEXA CONNECTED TO THE CIA?



For many, this is a 'rise of the machine' moment. Amazon's "Alexa" responds to a question about being connected to the CIA, and shuts down ...



Click here to learn why Alexa responded the way it did, at least according to what Consumerist is reporting.

- Mark

Sunday, March 12, 2017

SUNDAY READING (March 12, 2017)

__________________________________

Eric Trump's business trip to Uruguay cost taxpayers $97,830 in hotel bills (Washington Post).

Pence used personal email for state business as governor and was hacked (The Hill).

Trump argues for revised travel ban by citing attacks carried out by U.S. citizens (Washington Post).

Here are the top ten Republican accomplishments of 2017 so far (Mother Jones).


KEEPING TRACK OF THE LIES
Here's a running list of President Trump's lies and other bullshit (BuzzFeed News).

The complete list of all 99 false things Donald Trump has said as president (Toronto Star).

AP Fact Check: Trump's skewed ledger of achievements (Gazette Xtra).


TRUMP'S INNER CIRCLE: COMPROMISED, DELUSIONAL SOCIOPATHS?
Disgraced Trump adviser Mike Flynn admits he worked as a "foreign agent" for the Turkish government (Vox).

Here's another Trump cabinet pick with close financial ties to Russians (Mother Jones).

Steve Bannon says Trump's cabinet of billionaires has been "selected for a reason ... deconstruction" (Salon).

Steve Bannon's disturbing views on 'genetic superiority' are shared by Trump (Think Progress).

Blackwater founder Erik Prince, the brother of Betsy DeVos, is secretly advising Trump (Democracy Now!).

Ben Carson: Slaves were immigrants who came here and worked really hard 'for less' (HuffPost).

Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media (The Guardian).

Where did Steve Bannon get his worldview? From my book (Washington Post).


WHAT OBAMA LEFT TRUMP ... IT'S ACTUALLY PRETTY GOOD
The America Donald Trump is inheriting [inherited], by the numbers (NPR).

Inside a moneymaking machine like no other (Bloomberg).

The Obama 'fiduciary rule' is helping American savers (Wall Street Journal).


THIS ISN'T GOOD ...
Trump gives pen to Dow Chemical CEO after signing executive order to eliminate regulations (Eco Watch).

Ignoring state threats, firm keeps sucking sand from Monterey Bay (SF Chronicle).

Study shows undocumented immigrants pay a higher share of income in taxes than the wealthiest 1 percent (Salon).

How President Trump isn't just deporting "the bad ones" (attn:).

Following Sessions' Mar-a-Lago appearance, new ethics questions arise (MSNBC).


BUT THIS DEFINITELY ISN'T RIGHT
Fury in Cambodia as U.S. asks to be paid back hundreds of millions in war debts (Sydney Morning Herald).

Experts baffled as robots sent to clean up Fukushima nuclear site keep dying (Independent).

How companies make millions off lead-poisoned, poor blacks (Washington Post).

Republican lawmaker says cancer patients can go to the ER for health care (Shareblue).

Investigation into husband and wife pastor duo reveals decades of abuse at North Carolina church (Jezebel).


TRAVEL BAN / IMMIGRATION: IT WAS NEVER ABOUT SECURITY
Canadian woman en route to Vermont to U.S., told she needs immigrant visa (CBC).

Gold Star father Khizr Khan cancels speech in Toronto after organizers report his travel privileges were under review (Los Angeles Times).


WHEN DENIERS DENY
Exxon knew of climate change in 1981, email says- but it funded deniers for 27 more years (The Guardian).

'Shell knew': oil giant's 1991 film warned of climate change danger (Alternet).

A diabetic boy's parents 'didn't believe in doctors.' Now they're guilty of his murder (Washington Post).


MISCELLANEOUS
Democrats can't win until they recognize how bad Obama's financial policies were (Washington Post).

How Swedes and Norwegians broke the power of the '1 percent' (Common Dreams).

Sweden brings back the draft, alarmed by Russian activities (NPR).

Trump says Schwarzenegger was fired from 'Apprentice.' Then Schwarzenegger fires back (Washington Post).

- Mark

Saturday, March 11, 2017

CHRISTIAN HATE AND POVERTY EXPLAINED


As with most social issues the Republicans speak about, Rep. Jason Chaffetz' "buy-health-care-not-an-Iphone" suggestion reveals how clueless the GOP is about our world. It suggests that not having health care and even poverty are about making the right decisions. 

The fact that these comments came during the same week the very Christian Republican Party rolled out their disastrous healthcare plan - which wipes away health coverage for millions of Americans - makes one thing clear: Republicans don't understand the poverty treadmill in America, or the dynamics behind wealth creation. 

Think about it. Conservatives of all stripes revere Donald Trump, a man who inherited his wealth, squandered it, and then needed an army of tax lawyers and the U.S. bankruptcy code to keep his head above water. Yet, Republicans and their conservative supporters think Trump's many bankruptcies (6) and his abuse of our tax code are a sign of a good businessman. 

Incompetence, greed, and reality be damned.



Here's the problem I have with the GOP's train of thought, and their blind acceptance of Donald Trump. If you don't understand how wealth is created and maintained, I'm pretty sure you don't have a clue why people are poor. 

And so it is with the GOP. 

WHAT REALLY CAUSES POVERTY
According to the Bible there are at least four causes for poverty. Laziness, or what conservatives in the United States would refer to as a lack of personal responsibility is just one. This is what Republicans like to focus on. 

And why not? It makes the world real simple. It relieves them of having to think seriously about complex issues. 

The reality is poverty is a complex issue. If the Christian wing of the GOP would simply pick up their Bible - you know, the one they claim to read - instead of passing judgment they might learn a few things about poverty.

For example, the Bible
speaks about people who are wronged and impoverished through fraud and deception. The millions of Americans who lost their jobs and homes after widespread fraud and deceit on Wall Street were left impoverished and demoralized.

Getting caught up in systemic fraud doesn't make you lazy.

The Bible also speaks about people who are wronged and impoverished through stereotypes and falsehoods. Profiling and singling out Muslims and Mexicans for deportation because you want to believe they are terrorists and rapists, but saying nothing about white nationalists and white extremists who gun down and terrorize neighborhoods, is an injustice that impoverishes and sets back millions of innocent people.

Getting profiled doesn't mean you're lazy.

The Bible also speaks about people wronged and impoverished through famine and sickness. Repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a useless and worthless healthcare package - that's really a massive tax cut for Americans, who are already wealthy - condemns millions to suffer through treatable ailments. Bankruptcy filings will surge if Obamacare is repealed. Worse, it's a death sentence for hundreds of thousands of Americans (so much for the sanctity of life). 

People who become impoverished because they get sick are hardly lazy.



In real simple terms, you can't speak about poverty and make broad generalizations about "personal responsibility" when people are reduced to modern pauperism because they are ripped off, are wrongly judged/accused, or forced to endure sickness or death because Republicans and their Christian supporters want to give tax breaks to people who don't need them.

FINAL THOUGHTS
When the game is rigged, the causes behind poverty go far beyond dismissive references to laziness and a lack of personal responsibility.

Our conservative and very Christian friends seem to have no sympathy for, nor a clue about, any of these issues. Nor do they seem to care to learn about them.


So, yeah, Jason Chaffetz and the entire "repeal and replace Obamacare" crowd are, in many ways, biblical illiterates. 

Ironically, they're this way because of what they claim about the poor: they're lazy. Intellectually lazy, that is. 

They simply don't want to take the time to understand or learn about our world, even if the lessons are right there in their Bible. Why? Because it's much easier to feed prejudices, point fingers, and to hate ... you know, just like Jesus did.

So, by all means, let's call it what it is. Christian hate. 

If you have a better term for it, I'm all ears. 

- Mark

Friday, March 10, 2017

FROM RUSSIA, WITH LOVE

_________________________

Trump reverses pledge to mandate U.S. steel for Keystone pipeline. A direct beneficiary is a Russian oligarch with close ties to Vladimir Putin (HuffPost).

Declassified report says Putin 'ordered' effort to undermine faith in U.S. election and help Trump (Washington Post).

'You're in deep sh*t': Lawmaker alerts Trump if phones were 'tapped' a judge found 'probable cause of crime' (Raw Story).


COMMERCE SECRETARY WILBUR'S RUSSIA LOVE CONNECTION(S)
Trump's pick for Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, leaves Russian questions unanswered (McClatchy).

White House accused of blocking information on bank's Trump-Russia links (The Guardian).

Donald Trump and the mansion that no one wanted. Then came a Russian fertilizer king (Miami Herald).
_________________________
_________________________


THERE IT IS ... THE WHO'S WHO LIST OF RUSSIAN CONNECTIONS
Despite early denials, growing list of Trump camp contracts with Russian haunts White House (Washington Post).

A Who's Who of the Trump campaign's Russia connections (Rolling Stone).


LOOKING FOR ANSWERS
George W. Bush: We need answers on Trump team ties to Russia (The Hill).

Every outlet White House banned from press briefings is chasing stories on Trump's Russia ties (Shareblue).

This is not what Putin wanted as he cosied up to Trump (The Guardian).

- Mark

Thursday, March 9, 2017

GESTAPO TACTICS IN REAL TIME ... AND THE BIRTH OF 'DIANE'S STRIP'

While I've posted Lalo Alcaraz' work several times, this one is particularly satisfying. One of Trump's Trolls is upset with Lalo's work (and, it would appear, with the legality of his "papers"), and let him know about it in her own special Gestapo-esque way, which he captures in the strip below ...
_________________
_________________

Lalo wrote on his FB page: "The real 'Diane' has threatened me with legal action for riffing on her racist hate letter(s)."

All I have to say is, I hope this strip goes viral.

- Mark

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

IGNORANCE AND HATE ARE NOT AMERICAN VALUES

If your program reinforces ignorance and hate, and makes the rich even richer, I think I'll pass on trying to "work together" ...


- Mark

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

THE GOP'S HEALTH CARE PLAN ... IT'S TOOTHLESS, IT'S USELESS, AND IT'S WORTHLESS

We waited 7 years for this?


Here's the long-awaited Republican health care plan, in a nutshell

1. IT'S TOOTHLESS: A perverse one-time penalty fee, that few will abide by once they figure it out. This means the "mandate" is effectively toothless. 
2. IT'S USELESS: The tax credits are inadequate, and won't keep up with industry price hikes, which makes them useless.

3. IT'S WORTHLESS: Massive tax cuts will add billions to the national debt, and don't help the middle-class because they go disproportionately to the rich ... because, you know, they aren't rich enough already. So, yeah, if you're not already making a gazillion dollars, the tax cuts are worthless.

A quasi trifecta in health and legislative incompetence. 

It's almost as if the GOP want their deeply flawed health care plan to be implemented because they know it will fail miserably, so they can say, "See, we tried ... what can more can we do?" (wink, wink). 

Seriously, what the hell is wrong with these people? 

- Mark

THE MOVIE EVERY AMERICAN WANTS TO SEE (sort of)

______________________

With the Republican Party more concerned about power than the welfare of the nation, this SNL clip brings out what every American, and most of the world, sees and thinks when it comes to the GOP and their fawning acquiescence to the daily dishonor Donald Trump brings to America ...
___________________


- Mark

MID-WEEK READING (March 7, 2017)



Father died 'after downing a whole bottle of Tequila for a bet' (Yahoo!).

Creationist Ken Ham: Dinosaurs fought gladiator battles against humans and giants (Raw Story).

U.S. judge finds that Aetna deceived the public about its reasons for quitting Obamacare (LA Times).

Bernie Sanders takes another swing at big pharma with bill to allow drug imports (Washington Post).


YEAH, TRUMP'S NUTS ... THE WIRETAP CLAIM
While you were sleeping, Trump pushed a wiretap conspiracy into the Red Zone (Esquire).

President Trump accuses Obama of 'wire tapping,' provides no evidence (NPR).

Trump wire-tapping claims 'simply false' - Obama spokesman (BBC).

'You're in deep sh*t': Lawmaker alerts Trump if phones were 'tapped' a judge found 'probable cause of crime' (Raw Story).

Republican Senator: Trump causing a 'civilization-warping crisis' for U.S. with wild wiretapping charge (Raw Story).


THE GOP'S HEALTHCARE PROPOSAL (and you thought Trump was a joke)
The American Healthcare Act: The Republicans' bill to replace Obamacare explained (Vox).

Republicans release long-awaited plan to replace Obamacare (Washington Post).

[Late Add] Conservative groups blast GOP healthcare plan (The Hill).


THE MAKING OF A POLICE STATE
Across the country, a Republican push to rein in protesters (NY Times).

Trump administration sought to enlist intelligence officials, key lawmakers to counter Russia stories (Washington Post).

White House briefing bar: Media groups condemn exclusion (BBC).

Plan a protest, lose your house: Arizona Senate passes SB 1142 charging 'provocateurs' with racketeering (Phoenix News Times).

Donald Trump is going to publish a list of crimes committed by immigrants. Hitler did the same (Independent).

Gold Star father Khizer Khan's travel privileges 'under review' (McClatchy).


IT'S NOT ABOUT SECURITY, IT NEVER WAS (Trump's just a punk and a coward)
The president's silence after an attack in Kansas speaks volumes about his priorities (Upworthy).

Yes, mass deportations are coming. And we know why (Bloomberg).

Leaked DHS doc says Trump's seven countries aren't very dangerous (Mother Jones).

Trump-backing town angry after ICE detains beloved local Mexican restaurant owner (Raw Story).

Voices: How violent are udocumented immigrants (USA Today)?

Authorities arrest 22-year-old dreamer after she speaks to media (Huffpost).

"Decade of Betrayal": How the U.S. expelled over a half million U.S. citizens to Mexico in 1930s (Democracy Now!).

Despite Trump's speech, immigrants commit far fewer crimes than native-born Americans (Business Insider).


MAKE AMERICA HATE AGAIN
Sikh community asks for hate-crime probe after man is told 'go back to your own country' and shot (Washington Post).

NRI businessman Harnish Patel from Vadodara shot dead in South Carolina (The Indian Express).

Rick Santorum: 'millions of Americans' with preexisting conditions are scammers stealing health care (Raw Story).

It's time to start calling evangelicals what they are: The American Taliban (Medium).

Hate in the age of Trump (New Republic).


REPUBLICANS WHO GET IT ...
Paul Wolfowitz: 'The American people need to know the truth' (Spiegel Online).

Bush talks Trump, describes 'pretty ugly' political climate in pair of interviews (NPR).

Former President Bush says SNL impressions never bothered him a bit (NPR).

Trump national security adviser wants to avoid term 'radical Islamic terrorism', sources say ["because the terrorists are, quote, 'un-Islamic'."] (The Guardian).

John Kasich admits protesters are affecting Obamacare debate (Huffpost).


... AND REPUBLICANS WHO DON'T
Republicans vote to give police powers to arrest people planning peaceful protests: 'Wouldn't you rather stop a riot before it starts?' asks senator (Independent).

McCarthy's call for Sessions' recusal was too sane to be true (Bakersfield Californian).

Kevin McCarthy displays his clout, for good and ill (Sacramento Bee).

DeVos called HBCUs 'pioneers' of 'school choice.' It didn't go over well (Washington Post).


MISCELLANEOUS
When ICE comes for SF immigrants, new hot line team fights back (SF Examiner).

'The sickness of this man': Michael Moore blasts Trump for 'record applause' boast as grieving widow wept (Raw Story).

America's 'complacent class': how self-segregation is leading to stagnation (KUOW).

Jeff Sessions needs to go (NY Times).

- Mark

Monday, March 6, 2017

PRESIDENT TRUMP'S MOST RECENT IMMIGRATION ORDERS & DEVELOPMENTS (March 6, 2017)

It looks like this is going to become a regular feature on my blog ... 


Win Eaton is one of the top immigration attorneys on the west coast, with offices in Salem, Oregon, and here in Fresno and Bakersfield, the breadbasket of California's San Joaquin Valley. He is also currently participating in our Immigration Justice Collaborative series, which disseminates legal information to our undocumented populations throughout Kern County.

The following is another immigration update from the law offices of Win Eaton & Associates ...

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A few minutes ago, President Trump signed a new travel ban imposing a 90-day ban on the issuance of new visas for citizens of six majority-Muslim nations. In addition, the nation’s refu­gee program will be suspended for 120 days, and the USA will not accept more than 50,000 refugees per year, down from the 110,000 cap set by the Obama administration.

Trump signed the new ban in private, out of public view, according to White House officials.

The order will apparently not take effect until March 16, 2017. The new executive order names six of the seven countries included in the first executive order but excludes Iraq. Iraq will apparently be increasing cooperation with the United States on additional security vetting under separate negotiations and Iraqi citizens are not subject to the new order, according to a fact sheet provided by the administration.


In other immigration news ...
A Bosnian refugee has urged the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a lower court’s ruling that held naturalized U.S. citizens may be stripped of their citizenship in criminal proceedings based on immaterial false statements they made when applying for naturalization. 
President Donald Trump has claimed that his promised southern border wall will cost around $12 billion. However, recently leaked government estimates are suggesting the project is likely to cost twice as much, and will be slower to start than the president claims, potentially turning off already-lukewarm lawmakers.

The Supreme Court ruled this morning that a Colorado man convicted of unlawful sexual contact is entitled to a new trial after learning that a juror made a racist comment, holding that courts may penetrate the secrecy of the jury deliberation room when there is reason to believe that racial bias has cheated a defendant of the right to an impartial jury.
On Friday, A Florida federal judge stopped a new Miami-Dade County policy involving U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests for undocumented immigrants. The ruling finds that it violates the Tenth Amendment.
According to a resolution passed by the European Parliament on Thursday, American travelers will be forced to apply for visas before entering Europe.  The measure is intended to pressure the U.S. to rescind a policy of requiring visas from five member nations.
On Thursday, Maryland’s attorney general asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to designate the state’s courts, hospital emergency rooms and schools as “safe harbors” for unauthorized immigrants, citing concerns that the Trump administration’s new enforcement policies will undermine public safety, instead of promoting it.
On Wednesday, dozens of law enforcement leaders sent a letter to Congress expressing their concerns about the Trump administration’s threats to eliminate funds from cities that fail to enforce federal immigration law. Law enforcement leaders claim doing so would be “extremely problematic” and would not make communities safer or fix the “broken immigration system.”
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- Mark