Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Sen. Udall's Balancing Act

New Mexico Dem Sen. Tom Udall has an...interesting...plan for solving the Supreme Court issue: talk a current justice into retiring, leaving seven on the high court, then confirming both Neil Gorsuch and Obama nominee Merrick Garland at the same time.

Sen. Tom Udall has an idea that could place both Judge Neil Gorsuch and Judge Merrick Garland on the Supreme Court at the same time. 
The Democrat from New Mexico presented the plan Monday morning to Gorsuch, President Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, as well as to Gorsuch's team of White House aides and former Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who's been attending Gorsuch's meetings with senators. 
His proposal is for Trump to meet privately with Supreme Court justices who are interested in retirement. If one of those justices decided they would be willing to retire, and if Trump promises to nominate Garland, President Barack Obama's unconfirmed former SCOTUS pick, in their place, then the retiring justice would submit a letter of resignation contingent on that promise. 
Then, both Garland and Gorsuch would be voted on simultaneously. 
It's a far-fetched idea, and Udall told reporters he got no response or comment from Gorsuch's team in the room. But he added that he's been talking to other senators about it. 
A spokesman from Gorsuch's team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

If this sounds familiar, that's because we've seen this before, just not in this administration.

The idea closely follows a plot line from an episode of "The West Wing" television show. In season 5, episode 17, "The Supremes," a spot on the Supreme Court opens up and the White House works out a deal with another justice to retire so they can replace him with both a liberal justice while Republicans can get their pick of a more conservative justice. 
Jennifer Talhelm, communications director for Udall, told CNN that the senator did not get the idea from the West Wing, and that while he has maybe seen an episode or two, he doesn't watch the show. 
She said Udall has wanted to see Trump pick Garland all along, and his more recent idea came after he was speaking with a constituent who said they'd like to see both Garland and Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. 
Speaking to reporters, Udall also recalled the time that President Lyndon B. Johnson wanted his adviser Abe Fortas on the Supreme Court, so he persuaded Justice Arthur Goldberg to retire by promising him the position of ambassador to the United Nations. 
So what would be Trump's motivation to move ahead with this idea? 
"It's a good chance for Trump to try to unite the country," Udall said.

I can see the draw, but Republicans aren't about to go for this.  They know that Gorsuch will get confirmed, and there's an extremely good chance that either Justice Ginsburg, Breyer, or Kennedy will retire by 2020, giving Trump a second pick to tilt the court to a 6-3 conservative bent that would end legalized abortion, affirmative action, and maybe even same-sex marriage.  It would certainly continue the Roberts Court path of rolling back the New Deal and Great Society.

Udall makes a good pitch, and it's as good as it's going to get for Democrats.  But Republicans don't want to unite the country, they want to dominate it, and leave liberals and liberalism broken, bleeding, and crushed on the floor, without rights, without power, and without hope.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Last Call For Assurance Insurance

Kentucky GOP Gov. Matt Bevin takes to a FOX News opinion column to lead the charge of the Trump-era response to kicking tens of millions off health insurance: five weeks in, Trump is the best POTUS ever and you can just shut up.

On a larger scale, President Trump shares the desire of most Americans to see the failed ObamaCare law repealed and replaced.

Voters took note that ObamaCare was a massive and highly complex law with many layers of bureaucracy. It should be no surprise that replacing it will result in some vigorous debate and, at times, disagreement.

The president made a brilliant choice when appointing Tom Price as Health and Human Services Secretary. As a former physician and congressman, Secretary Price brings much experience and knowledge to the health care issue. Now that he has been confirmed, we can begin to build consensus on how best to accomplish replacement of this disastrous law. 
Finally, President Trump can elaborate on his economic agenda and the positive response by investors to his pro-business vision. 
In Kentucky, we are meeting regularly with business leaders who are encouraged about our state’s recent passage of pro-business legislation and who are now considering our state as a possible location for expansion. Likewise, President Trump’s commitments to tax reform and deregulation have encouraged investors to propel the stock market to new heights. 
The president’s address to Congress can provide investors with more specifics of his economic agenda and, in so doing, confirm the optimism investors have expressed.
The Trump administration can be proud of these accomplishments and the impressive array of additional cabinet appointments, including Kentuckian Elaine Chao as Secretary of Transportation.

The American people are not fooled by the media's non-stop negative narrative which is intended to overshadow the president's positive vision and his remarkable pace of significant achievements.

I mean, I thought Bevin was a small-scale grifter and basically in a protracted fight to fleece Kentuckians out of as much money as possible before he ends up getting investigated for fraud.  But he's hitched himself to the Trump Train and he's fully prepared to take the state careening into the canyon when the bridge to reality ahead is out.

Trump's "remarkable pace of significant achievements" is the most unerringly stupid thing I've seen written about the man so far.  Leave it to my idiot governor to be the one saying it.

Of course, it's Bevin who will take the guillotine when he gets done kicking a tenth of the state off Medicaid, but I'm sure he'll end up getting a nice job with either the Trump regime or with FOX News after his failed re-election bis in 2019.

Just Don't Deport The Good Ones, Donny

When Trump voters were more than happy to cast their ballot for the guy who promised to "get rid of the Mexicans" and all that?  They didn't mean get rid of the "good Mexicans", just the "bad hombres". Or something.

West Frankfort, Illinois, overwhelmingly voted for President Donald Trump last fall, but now some residents are upset after the Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested and detained a beloved local Mexican restaurant owner. 
The New York Times reports that ICE last week detained Juan Carlos Hernandez Pacheco, the owner of the La Fiesta restaurant in the town of 8,000 people located in southern Illinois. 
While residents in the town said that they were still supportive of the president’s moves to deport undocumented immigrants, they told the Times that the president should make more exceptions for people like Pacheco, who have not only been exemplary local businessmen, but also pillars of the community who take part in local charity events. 
“I think people need to do things the right way, follow the rules and obey the laws, and I firmly believe in that,” local resident Lori Barron told the paper. “But in the case of Carlos, I think he may have done more for the people here than this place has ever given him. I think it’s absolutely terrible that he could be taken away.” 
West Frankfort Mayor Tom Jordan similarly praised Pacheco as a “great asset” to the community who “doesn’t ask for anything in return.” 
And Richard Glodich, the athletic director at a local high school, wrote a letter in support of Pacheco in which he slammed ICE for arresting “a GOOD MAN that should be used as a role model for other immigrants.” 
The specific reason that ICE decided to target Pacheco for arrest is still unknown. ICE wouldn’t comment on the specificity of Pacheco’s case, and would only say that “every day, as part of routine operations, ICE officers target and arrest criminal aliens and other individuals who are in violation of our nation’s immigration laws.”

Hey, Carlos made pretty good enchiladas and besides, it was the only Mexican restaurant worth a damn in town, right guys?

Look, Trump voters.  This is exactly what you voted for.  This is what you said you wanted, you wanted the wall, you wanted them rounded up, you wanted to stop them from "taking your jobs". Well now there's possibly some prime commercial restaurant space available in West Frankfort, so who's going to step up?

I have all kinds of sympathy for Carlos and his employees.  He clearly and obviously contributed to the community.  But guess what?  You voted to wreck that arrangement because you wanted "jobs" and you wanted "America first".  This is what you get.  We warned you guys over here on this side that this was what was coming for years if you put the GOP back in charge, and you said "Well, at least he's not that Clinton bitch."

Now all of a sudden there's so much buyer's remorse across America.  Reap that whirlwind, guys. There's a lot more of that crop coming to you, and soon.

Orange You Glad You Have A Budget Plan

The Trump regime's proposed budget is mostly useless, like all White House budget plans (since Congress actually writes the numbers) but it at least lets us know what the top priorities are for this White House.  Apparently that top priority is preparing for war, and a hell of a lot of it.

President Donald Trump is proposing major defense spending increases and big cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, State Department and other federal agencies in a proposed budget to be presented soon to Congress, said a person familiar with the plan.

The outline of the budget will be made public as early as Monday, according to two White House officials. They declined to comment further on what the budget may entail. Trump is scheduled to make an address to Congress on Tuesday night.

Congress ultimately determines how the federal government’s money is spent, and the White House budget is mostly an opening bid in what could be a protracted process to set a federal spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Trump’s first budget won’t touch entitlement programs such as Social Security or Medicare. It will instead focus on ways to produce long-term economic growth by slashing taxes, he said in an interview taped Friday and broadcast Sunday on Fox News Channel.

The New York Times reported Sunday evening that the budget will assume economic growth of 2.4 percent, below the 3 percent growth Trump has pledged. Mnuchin said that the administration thinks a combination of tax cuts and regulatory relief will lead to economic growth of 3 percent or higher. “We’re going to make sure this works,” he said in the Fox interview. “This is all about creating growth.”

The proposed cuts to the State Department are substantial, maybe as much as 30% (and even more draconian to the EPA.)  Meanwhile, the Pentagon will get a significant increase in funding at the direct expense of domestic programs.  Social Security and Medicare still have "third-rail" status, but other domestic safety net programs like Medicaid, SNAP benefits, child care subsidies, federal education programs like free and reduced-price school lunches?  They are expected to be gutted.

In other words, the very programs that Trump voters depend on the most will be the first to go in order to pay for more F-35s and nukes, and most of all, tax cuts for the rich.  Now, the Trump regime will say this will create millions of new jobs that will eliminate the need for social programs, but we all know that coal jobs and manufacturing jobs aren't coming back, so the reality is Trump is going to screw over his base and continue to blame that on those people for four years.

I'm betting the Ryan Austerity Budget isn't too far off from this, if anything it will have more domestic program cuts and less defense spending to allow for even larger tax cuts for the 1%.

But stay tuned folks.  The Age of GOP Austerity Cuts are coming.


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Repeal And Repulse

The House GOP plan to repeal Obamacare is starting to take shape, and surprise, there's no "replace".  It's a disaster that will leave tens of millions with no health insurance, and tens of millions more with more expensive plans that cover far less than under the ACA.

Republican replacement plans for Obamacare would lead to significant declines in the number of Americans with health insurance coverage, according to an analysis presented Saturday at the National Governors Association and obtained by Vox.

The analysis was conducted by the health research firm Avalere Health and the consulting firm McKinsey and Company.

The analysis includes graphs on what the Republican plan to overhaul Obamacare’s tax credits, generally making them less generous, would do. They are based on the recent 19-page proposal that Republican leadership released about their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. In particular, they look at the effect of switching from income-based tax credits (which give poor people more help) to age-based tax credits, where everyone would get the same amount.

The report estimates what would happen in a hypothetical state with 300,000 people in the individual market that has also expanded Medicaid. In the individual market, enrollment would fall 30 percent and 90,000 people would become uninsured.

An additional 115,000 people in that hypothetical state may also lose coverage because they are enrolled in Medicaid and cannot find an affordable private plan.

The report estimates that coverage declines would be even higher in states that did not expand Medicaid — largely those run by Republican governors. There, the report presents an example of a state with 235,000 in the individual market. It estimates that coverage would decline by 120,000 people, about 50 percent.

Combined with Medicaid block grants, which would be billions in cuts to state Medicaid programs *on top of* eliminating funding for expanded Medicaid, you're getting the picture here: Republicans would not only take the state of insurance back to the Dubya era, it would be even worse because Medicaid would be gutted.

And this is why Republicans are terrified.  They know they're about to be burned at the stake for this.

Electing To Send A Message

Not only did Democrats keep the Delaware State Senate in yesterday's special election, but Stephanie Hansen won by an impressive margin, with pretty good turnout to boot.  Maybe Dems will start turning out after all.

In the most expensive special election in Delaware history ― a contest to decide which party controls the state Senate ― Democrat Stephanie Hansen was on track to annihilate her Republican rival on the back of extraordinary turnout.

The last time her opponent, John Marino, ran in this district, in 2014, he lost by just 2 points. Hansen’s 58-42 percent victory over Marino on Saturday ensured that Democrats will maintain control of the state Senate. It also notched a big Donald Trump-era win for a new generation of Democratic activists shocked into action by the November election.

“We turned back that win from Washington and made sure it won’t hit Delaware,” Hansen said in her victory speech Saturday night.

While Hansen’s campaign was focused on local issues, she saw a huge swell of support after nationwide Women’s March protests on Jan. 21. Protesters, many of them out in the streets for the first time, have been turning their energy toward local and state politics. The first major election since the uprising was Delaware’s.

Hansen’s campaign received huge support. More than 1,000 volunteers worked during the course of the campaign, and about 500 ― many from nearby states ― showed up Saturday for Election Day. Hansen received more than 14,000 contributions of less than $100 from small donors spread all over the country.

“That’s more volunteers than I’ve had in nine elections,” exclaimed state Sen. Dave Sokola (D), of Hansen’s Election Day workers.

“It’s overwhelming to see all these people,” said Kelly Wright, a resident of Hansen’s district. “It’s making me emotional to see that people come take a bus two-plus hours away.”

The turnout of volunteers made a huge difference as Hansen crushed her Republican opponent with unusually high turnout for a special election.

Democrats made the mistake of convincing themselves wins like these for the GOP in 2009 and 2013 were flukes, or just local anomalies.  Republicans aren't going to make that same mistake, and they are definitely going to be ready to fight back hard.   But with Trump at 44% and falling, Republicans are going to have a hell of a time doing that effectively.

Tie everyone to Trump, and the Dems just might come out ahead.

Sunday Long Read: The New Cold War

This week's Sunday Long Read is the New Yorker's tour de force on Putin, Russia, and the badly compromised Trump regime, the Obama administration, and Hillary Clinton.  It's an excellent recap of the last 18 months, and pretty good tool to see what's ahead for America.

The 2016 Presidential campaign in the United States was of keen interest to Putin. He loathed Obama, who had applied economic sanctions against Putin’s cronies after the annexation of Crimea and the invasion of eastern Ukraine. (Russian state television derided Obama as “weak,” “uncivilized,” and a “eunuch.”) Clinton, in Putin’s view, was worse—the embodiment of the liberal interventionist strain of U.S. foreign policy, more hawkish than Obama, and an obstacle to ending sanctions and re√ęstablishing Russian geopolitical influence. At the same time, Putin deftly flattered Trump, who was uncommonly positive in his statements about Putin’s strength and effectiveness as a leader. As early as 2007, Trump declared that Putin was “doing a great job in rebuilding the image of Russia and also rebuilding Russia period.” In 2013, before visiting Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant, Trump wondered, in a tweet, if he would meet Putin, and, “if so, will he become my new best friend?” During the Presidential campaign, Trump delighted in saying that Putin was a superior leader who had turned the Obama Administration into a “laughingstock.” 
For those interested in active measures, the digital age presented opportunities far more alluring than anything available in the era of Andropov. The Democratic and Republican National Committees offered what cybersecurity experts call a large “attack surface.” Tied into politics at the highest level, they were nonetheless unprotected by the defenses afforded to sensitive government institutions. John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign and a former chief of staff of Bill Clinton’s, had every reason to be aware of the fragile nature of modern communications. As a senior counsellor in the Obama White House, he was involved in digital policy. Yet even he had not bothered to use the most elementary sort of defense, two-step verification, for his e-mail account. 
“The honest answer is that my team and I were over-reliant on the fact that we were pretty careful about what we click on,” Podesta said. In this instance, he received a phishing e-mail, ostensibly from “the Gmail team,” that urged him to “change your password immediately.” An I.T. person who was asked to verify it mistakenly replied that it was “a legitimate e-mail.” 
The American political landscape also offered a particularly soft target for dezinformatsiya, false information intended to discredit the official version of events, or the very notion of reliable truth. Americans were more divided along ideological lines than at any point in two decades, according to the Pew Research Center. American trust in the mainstream media had fallen to a historic low. The fractured media environment seemed to spawn conspiracy theories about everything from Barack Obama’s place of birth (supposedly Kenya) to the origins of climate change (a Chinese hoax). Trump, in building his political identity, promoted such theories.

“Free societies are often split because people have their own views, and that’s what former Soviet and current Russian intelligence tries to take advantage of,” Oleg Kalugin, a former K.G.B. general, who has lived in the United States since 1995, said. “The goal is to deepen the splits.” Such a strategy is especially valuable when a country like Russia, which is considerably weaker than it was at the height of the Soviet era, is waging a geopolitical struggle with a stronger entity.

And that's where we are today, a country so hopelessly fractured we remain on the verge of breaking down into a new, far more frightening configuration.  The GOP spent years tearing the country apart. All Putin had to do was find two ends on either side of a tear to grab on to, and to pull as hard as he could.

What will survive the Trump regime?  I couldn't tell you.  But it sure as hell won't be the America I thought we were in January 2009.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Meet The New Chairman

As expected, the final vote for chair of the DNC came down to former Obama Labor Secretary Tom Perez, and Minnesota Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison with Rep. Pete Buttgieg dropping out over the weekend. It was a close vote, but in the end, Perez won the battle.

Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez has defeated Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) to become the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee in a blow to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and the progressive wing of the party.

Perez won with 235 votes on the second ballot, with 218 votes needed to reach a majority. He fell just shy in the first ballot, totaling 213.5 votes.

The win came after Perez failed to clear the threshold required to win the first vote by only one ballot.

Vice President Biden and other key figures from the Obama administration supported Perez, who backed Hillary Clinton in the primary.

Sanders and many of his allies backed Ellison, the first-ever Muslim elected to Congress and a star on the left. Several Ellison supporters told The Hill this week that they are unsure if they can back Perez.

The race to become the next Democratic Party leader split along establishment-grassroots lines and in many ways mirrored the divisive 2016 presidential primary between Sanders and Clinton.

The mainstream Democrats won out again.

Perez, the 55-year-old son of Dominican immigrants, becomes the party’s public face and chief spokesperson in charge of staking out Democratic opposition to President Trump.

I had some problems with Ellison, but he answered a lot of questions over the last month that I had about him and to his credit he stayed in the fight cleanly, without making it personal (and realizing that, you know, Bernie Sanders isn't a Democrat, and the people in the party are.)  To me, he proved that he really did care more about the party than his own ambitions, and like Perez, I would have been happy with either as chair.

Perez's first act was to immediately (and very, very wisely) appoint Ellison as deputy chair, but needless to say, the pressure is already on Perez to deliver immediately on the way to 2018.  If the Dems keep losing ground, Perez isn't going to have a honeymoon at all, and there will be calls for him to resign and turn operations over to Ellison sooner rather than later.

Anyhow, ball's in your court, Tom.  Be ready to play.  The country needs the Dems back in action, immediately if not sooner.

New tag: Tom Perez.

The Panic Is Setting In

Town halls full of pissed off constituents were dropped on Democrats like atom bombs in 2010 as the backlash to President Obama's election took a six-year toll on the party and gave the country to the Republicans.  Now in 2017, five weeks into the Trump regime, the GOP is learning the hard way that when you're the dog that actually catches the car you've been chasing, you're the first one to get run over.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, said on Friday that a special prosecutor needs to lead an investigation into the alleged ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s regime.

Issa made the comments to talk show host Bill Maher on HBO. Maher asked about allegations of Russian hacking and interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

Issa initially said House and Senate committees would investigate, and then Maher asked about the idea of an independent counsel handling the matter instead of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“You cannot have somebody — a friend of mine, Jeff Sessions, who was on the campaign and who is an appointee,” Issa said. “You’re going to need to use the special prosecutor’s statute and office — not just to recuse, you can’t just give it to your deputy, that’s another political appointee — you do have to do that.” 
Issa then went on to explain why he believes such an investigation is needed, criticizing Putin.

“There may or may not be fault,” Issa said. “But the American people are beginning to understand that Putin murders his enemies, sometimes right in front of the Kremlin, and then suddenly the cameras don’t work there. He’s murdered people and taken down using cyber warfare in Georgia and Ukraine. This is a bad guy who murders people who runs a gas station with an economy the size of Italy but is screwing up things all over the world that we’ve been doing ‘working with.’ Now we have to work with them. We don’t have to trust them, and we need to investigate their activities, and we need to do it because they are bad people.”

For Issa to crack this early in the proceedings is a sure sign that much worse information about the Trump regime is coming out, and soon. He's not only throwing Trump under the bus, but Jeff Sessions and the whole pro-Putin machine as well.

Issa's wealth and political power are considerable, having led the House Oversight Committee before Jason Chaffetz (who he's also throwing under the bus here.)  If he's calling for a special prosecutor, he's not just scared -- he's terrified.

Issa won't be the last Republican to call for a special prosecutor on Russia, either.  Count on that.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

And the other shoe drops on the Priebus/FBI interference story: it wasn't just Priebus who was trying to kill the Russia story by trying to get the FBI to disavow their investigation, but a full-court press by multiple Trump regime staffers and Republicans in Congress to talk news outlets into burying the Russia talk completely.

The Trump administration has enlisted senior members of the intelligence community and Congress in efforts to counter news stories about Trump associates’ ties to Russia, a politically charged issue that has been under investigation by the FBI as well as lawmakers now defending the White House.

Acting at the behest of the White House, the officials made calls to news organizations last week in attempts to challenge stories about alleged contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives, U.S. officials said.

The calls were orchestrated by the White House after unsuccessful attempts by the administration to get senior FBI officials to speak with news organizations and dispute the accuracy of stories on the alleged contacts with Russia.

The White House on Friday acknowledged those interactions with the FBI but did not disclose that it then turned to other officials who agreed to do what the FBI would not — participate in White House-arranged calls with news organizations, including The Washington Post.

Two of those officials spoke on the condition of anonymity — a practice President Trump has condemned.

The officials broadly dismissed Trump associates’ contacts with Russia as infrequent and inconsequential. But the officials would not answer substantive questions about the issue, and their comments were not published by The Post and do not appear to have been reported elsewhere.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer confirmed that the White House communicated with officials with the aim of contesting reporting on Russia, but maintained that the administration did nothing improper. “When informed by the FBI that [the ­Russia-related reporting] was false, we told reporters who else they should contact to corroborate the FBI’s version of the story,” he said.

The decision to involve those officials could be perceived as threatening the independence of U.S. spy agencies that are supposed to remain insulated from partisan issues, as well as undercutting the credibility of ongoing congressional probes. Those officials saw their involvement as an attempt to correct coverage they believed to be erroneous.

The effort also involved senior lawmakers with access to classified intelligence about Russia, including Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chairmen of the Senate and House intelligence committees. A spokesman for Nunes said that he had already begun speaking to reporters to challenge the story and that, “at the request of a White House communications aide, Chairman Nunes then spoke to an additional reporter and delivered the same message.”

Unlike the others, Nunes spoke on the record and was subsequently quoted in the Wall Street Journal.

In other words, this isn't Bannon trying to get rid of Priebus or any court intrigue here, this is full-blown panic mode in the Trump regime, drafting both House and Senate Republicans to put heavy pressure on the FBI and journalists to make the Trump regime's ties to Russia disappear.

Needless to say, the Washington Post is not playing ball.

Time for that special prosecutor, folks.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Last Call For Trump's America

Ian Grillot, hiding behind a table, counted the gunshots. When he thought the gunman was out of bullets, he jumped up to pursue the man. 
But the man who opened fire inside Austins Bar & Grill about 7:15 p.m. on Wednesday night still had one round left, and he used it to shoot Grillot. The bullet went through the 24-year-old Olathe man’s hand and into his chest. 
“I guess I miscounted,” Grillot said Thursday from his hospital room, in a video released by the University of Kansas Health System. He had acted, he said, to try to stop a man who had just shot two other bar patrons, one of whom died. 
“I wasn’t really thinking when I did that,” Grillot said. “It was just, it wasn’t right, and I didn’t want the gentleman to potentially go after somebody else.” 
Grillot, a 2010 graduate of Olathe North High School, remained hospitalized in stable condition and is expected to recover. Employees at Austins Bar & Grill said they weren’t surprised that Grillot, a bar regular there to watch a basketball game, stepped up to defend the two men when another was spouting racial slurs at them. Grillot was known by some employees to be the calm guy to defuse tense situations. 
Grillot’s sister, Maggie, recounted the shooting in a Facebook message to update friends and others on his condition. 
“He tried standing up for two people who were being wrongly bullied,” Maggie Grillot wrote. 
Grillot was inside the Austins patio area when a man directed derogatory, racial statements at two men. At one point, suspect Adam Purinton, 51, of Olathe, was kicked out of the bar and then came back in “to open fire,” according to Grillot’s GoFundMe page.

Purinton is the Missouri man who allegedly shot Grillot and two Indian engineers at Austins while screaming "Get out of my country".  One of those engineers, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, is dead.  Purinton faces murder and attempted murder charges.  But it's Missouri, so hate crime charges?  Probably won't happen.

And if you're somehow expecting the Trump DoJ and Jefferson Beauregard Sessions to step in and do the right thing, well...

You've got another thing coming, America.

This is our country now.  You should be ashamed of it.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/crime/article134581204.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/crime/article134581204.html#storylink=cpy

Bannon Presses The War

Meanwhile at this year's CPAC, the yearly conservative hootenanny where Republicans hang out with their Bircher buddies, Trump regime propaganda minister Steve Bannon is happily declaring war on America's free press, vowing to exterminate anyone who doesn't agree with Dear Leader Donald.

Even Chris Cillizza is starting to catch on.

It's no secret that Stephen K. Bannon, the past chairman of Breitbart News and now a senior strategist to the president, is behind much of Trump's anti-media rhetoric. The idea of the media as the “opposition party” or the “enemy" — two phrases Trump has used of late to describe those who cover him — is pure Bannon. 
So, there was no reason to think that Bannon was going to be anything but confrontational with the media during a joint appearance with Trump White House chief of staff Reince Priebus at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday afternoon. 
But, even by Bannon's standards, he seemed to ramp up his attacks on the media and offer a very clear message to political journalists: You think this is bad? Just wait. 
“It's going to get worse every day for the media,” Bannon said, insisting that the “corporatist” media would continue to see Trump pursue exactly the sort of economic nationalism that journalism allegedly despises. Then he added this call to arms: “If you think they are giving you your country back without a fight, you are sadly mistaken.” 
The message from Bannon was unmistakable: The enemy of Donald Trump and those who think like him is not, really, Democrats but, in actuality, the media. And the only way to combat the media is to fight like hell against them on everything and anything. 
As I've noted before, presidents (and their staffs) always have an adversarial relationship with the press. The administration insists the press isn't telling the story of the White House right. The press complains about a lack of access to the key players in the White House. It's been that way for as long as I can remember. 
But what Bannon and, by extension, Trump are up to is something very different than simply an adversarial working relationship with the media. Bannon doesn't want to change the media. He wants to totally dismantle the media. He wants to break its back and leave it for dead by the side of the road. And he's not afraid of telling the media to their faces about that plan.

Why yes Chris, he does want to exterminate you.

Maybe you should start treating him like that's his plan before he starts rounding up journalists like yourself as enemies of the state for publishing leaks.

Just an idea.  Anyway, today the Trump regime started to make good on its threats.

The White House blocked a number of news outlets from covering spokesman Sean Spicer’s question-and-answer session on Friday afternoon.

Spicer decided to hold an off-camera “gaggle” with reporters inside his West Wing office instead of the traditional on-camera briefing in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room.

Among the outlets not permitted to cover the gaggle were news organizations President Trump has singled out for criticism, including CNN.

The New York Times, The Hill, Politico, BuzzFeed, the Daily Mail, BBC, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Daily News were among the other news organizations not permitted to attend. 
Journalists from several right-leaning outlets were allowed into Spicer’s office, including Breitbart, the Washington Times and One America News Network.

A number of major news organizations were also let in to cover the gaggle. That group included ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, Reuters, Bloomberg and McClatchy.

By the way, the news outlets excluded?  All have broken at least one major story on Trump and Russia over the last five weeks.  And as Bannon said yesterday, it will only get worse for the media from here.

Your move, media.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

The Trump/Russia story continues, this time with a CNN story that the Trump regime directly asked the FBI to publicly disavow its own ongoing investigation into the regime's ties with Russia.

The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN
But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it did not believe the reporting to be accurate. 
White House officials had sought the help of the bureau and other agencies investigating the Russia matter to say that the reports were wrong and that there had been no contacts, the officials said. The reports of the contacts were first published by The New York Times and CNN on February 14. 
The direct communications between the White House and the FBI were unusual because of decade-old restrictions on such contacts. Such a request from the White House is a violation of procedures that limit communications with the FBI on pending investigations. 
Late Thursday night, White House press secretary Sean Spicer objected to CNN's characterization of the White House request to the FBI. 
"We didn't try to knock the story down. We asked them to tell the truth," Spicer said. The FBI declined to comment for this story.

So, at best, this is the Trump regime putting pressure on the FBI to publicly comment on an ongoing investigation in the regime's favor, when the rules exist expressly for the purpose of preventing such an obvious conflict of interest.  Worst case: Reince Priebus is guilty of outright obstruction of justice.  Democrats are not going to let this one slide.

House Judiciary Committee ranking member John Conyers said the report was cause for bipartisan concern, renewing a call for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from an investigation into what he called "clear ties" between the Trump administration and Russian officials.

"The need for an independent, bipartisan investigation into these matters has never been more clear," he said. "The Trump team has clear ties to the Russian government—and we ignore those ties at our own peril."

Several other former federal employees blasted the actions as improper.

Former Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security official Juliette Kayyem blasted Priebus' reported actions as "so wrong" and "so desperate." Another Justice Department alum, Matthew Miller, called the interaction "beyond inappropriate," adding that it "veers dangerously close to tampering with an investigation."

Brian Fallon, former press secretary to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, responded to the story by alluding to the FBI Director's letter to Congress about reopening the investigation into Clinton's emails.

"On the plus side, this story means Comey is going to leak word of any attempt by Trump WH to meddle in his inquiry," Fallon wrote on Twitter Thursday.

I'm sure this will be spun by the usual suspects as Priebus simply trying to get Comey to put the "rogue Obama deep state leakers" in the FBI in line, but the expectation is clearly there that the regime expects Comey to make the Russia story vanish by ending the investigation, and soon.
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