Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Last Call For High Nunes

We now know what the Trump regime's response to Monday's devastating Russia testimony by FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers confirming that the Trump campaign was under investigation:  GOP House Intelligence Committee chair Devin Nunes is now trying to outright interfere with an ongoing FBI investigation on behalf of Trump. Martin Longman:

House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes called a press conference a little while ago to announce that he intended to commit a blatant act of criminal obstruction of justice with respect to the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of Trump and Trump associates’ connections to the Russians’ interference in our presidential election. Nunes began by declaring that President-Elect Trump’s personal communications may have been intercepted during the Transition due to “incidental collection” during an unrelated, completely legal and FISA-approved investigation

Let that sink in.  Intelligence community sources told Nunes and he called a press conference to leak it to the world while there's an ongoing investigation.

He then said that the potential surveillance was not related to Russia, that it wasn’t clear that it was collected at Trump Tower and that he was “alarmed by it.” 
He further stated that he had advised House Speaker Paul Ryan of his findings and that he was traveling to the White House this afternoon to share with them information that had been provided to him by the FBI in a classified setting for the purposes of advancing a congressional investigation into potential crimes committed by the people he will be meeting in the White House. 
Nunes also revealed that said “he discovered the potential surveillance of Trump himself while reviewing intelligence reports,” but he did not divulge that he kept his discovery from the Democrats on the committee who “appeared blindsided by Nunes’ announcement.”

To recap:

  • GOP Rep. Devin Nunes is the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee.
  • Nunes has been told of legal surveillance on foreign nationals that recorded conversations with not just the Trump campaign, but Trump himself. 
  • He's going to the White House to brief Trump on this.
  • He's not going to the Intelligence Committee to brief them on this.
Do we see the problem yet?

When Nunes arrives at the White House and begins sharing information about which Transition officials were captured on “incidental surveillance,” he will be committing what appears to be an obvious crime.

He claims that the surveillance is unrelated to Russia, and that may be his only criminal defense. He better hope that it will stand up in court. His press conference performance was a dishonest attempt to suggest that perhaps Trump wasn’t completely wrong when he said that Trump Tower was wiretapped at the behest of President Obama. He couldn’t assert either of those things but he made it seem like he had evidence pointing in that direction. 
And his failure to share this information with the Democrats or notify them that he would be holding the press conference shows just how disingenuous his “alarm” really is. 
But it’s his intent to share classified investigatory information with the subjects of a counterintelligence (and potentially criminal) probe that constitutes a crime. He must not be very bright. And he’s just destroyed his own committee’s investigation.

Which of course is the point, because within hours of Nunes's press conference this afternoon, this went out.

The "vindicated" Trump regime now fundraising off this.  Guys, this was planned and executed. Nunes is sinking the investigation and remember he was a Trump transition team member.  He's working with Trump all the way through.

I'm hoping as Martin said that this catastrophically stupid and obviously rotten ploy will lead to a special investigator that will fry these Republican assholes up like catfish, but odds are that the Trump regime now has all the cover it needs for their supporters, and the results of this will be to derail the investigation completely.

Trump is trying to manufacture the "Obama wiretapped me!" conspiracy wholesale.  He just might get away with it.

Regrets, I've Had A Few

A "few" in this case being that only 3.5% of Trump voters in a new Washington Post poll say they would change their vote today, as Steve M points out over at his place.

According to this survey, Trump retains the passionate support of nearly his entire voting bloc. Remember that his most primal instinct is self-preservation -- does he really care whether Republicans suffer in the midterms or there's less security and prosperity in America and the world? Yes, the Gallup poll is bad for him -- but it may just be that angry anti-Trump voters are more willing to talk to pollsters these days than Trump backers, who tend to believe all mainstream media and polling outfits are deceitful. 
I believe that Trump is historically unpopular for a president in the first months of his term. But if he can sustain this level of support until 2020, he might just slip by a Democrat again, taking advantage of GOP voter suppression and a wealthy corporate donor community that will never bail on the GOP, not to mention campaign finance rules that are only going to get worse once Neil Gorsuch is on the Supreme Court.

Reminder: Trump won the election with about 25% of the total eligible voting population, because of the electoral college and the fact only about 26% voted for Hillary.  If Trump's approval rating among voting eligible adults is 37%, and all of them vote for him, he'd win in a landslide.

People have to actually vote to beat Trump and the GOP, and so far not enough of us give a damn. So when Republicans shave off a couple percentage points with red state voter suppression tactics, it's a good move for them that will pay off for decades.  It already gave them the White House and Congress (and soon the Supreme Court).

Remember that Richard Nixon and George W. Bush won reelection before disapproval of them reached critical mass. It takes a long time for Republicans to lose faith in one of their own, even when the rest of the country has already done so. 
Credibility? Trump's base thinks he has all the credibility he needs, even now. And that base is essentially the entire GOP electorate.

The only way we win is a united front.  As Zandardad said yesterday, we had the chance to unite behind Hillary and enough of us chose not to so that Trump won.  We wouldn't be in this epic disaster documentary right now if we had just done the right thing.  And before the usual suspects come in and complain, ask yourself given Trump's actions right now and his Supreme Court nominee, would you rather have Hillary or Donald as president today?

If you can't answer that, you're the reason why we have Donald.  You picked a side, and it was Trump's. End of line.

Pink, Black, And Blue In Bevinstan

Kentucky GOP Gov. Matt Bevin has signed a raft of bills from the now deeply red GOP-controlled General Assembly, and Kentucky's transformation into yet another awful Republican state is pretty much complete at this point.

Planned Parenthood stands to lose any shot it had at government funding for family planning under a bill signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin on Tuesday.

The law will puts Planned Parenthood at the back of the line among organizations seeking family planning funding in Kentucky.

Bevin has signed more than 50 bills into law since the start of this year’s legislative session, including another on Tuesday that allows attacks on police officers and other first responders to be prosecuted as hate crimes.

While the so-called “Blue Lives Matter Law” doesn’t increase penalties against those convicted of committing a hate crime, it is considered when violaters come up for sentencing, and it is included when it comes time to consider probation or parole.

Kentucky becomes only the second state, beside Louisiana, to enact such a law.

With the family planning funding law, pro-life advocates hope that, after health departments and similar organizations receive their money, none would be left for Planned Parenthood.

Sen. Max Wise, R-Campbellsville, sponsored the legislation, which established a tiered system for distributing federal family planning dollars.

“This would place Planned Parenthood, which does not provide comprehensive health services at the back of the line for federal family planning dollars,” Wise said last week.

Kentucky lawmakers have make implementation of the law dependent on Congress reversing the Obama administration’s action blocking states from withholding funds from Planned Parenthood affiliates. Wise said he included that provision to protect Kentucky against potential lawsuits.

Planned Parenthood supporters said the organization has voluntarily stopped accepting those family planning funds for its Kentucky operations. But Wise said he hopes his bill would cut off that funding source if Planned Parenthood seeks the dollars again.

Also passing: Kentucky will join the race to the bottom with charter schools that have already become major scandals in neighboring Ohio and Indiana.  As in other states, the bill was passes to help low-income and black and Latino students as they have the "most to benefit" but in Ohio's case at least, charter schools continue to be a complete disaster.

Meanwhile the bill most likely to go to court is the state's new "student religious freedom" law, which among other things allows students in public schools to openly participate in religious activities while on campus and would allow student religious organizations at publicly-funded schools and universities to openly discriminate against LGBTQ students for membership.

The law, Senate Bill 17, will allow students to engage in religious activities and to express religious views in public schools and in their assignments. It would also allow teachers to include lessons about the Bible in discussions of religion and history.

The legislation stems from a 2015 decision to remove references to Jesus Christ from a student production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

But LGBT rights groups assailed the new law, which they say codifies legal discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. One provision of the law allows student religious groups to set their own rules for membership, which LGBT rights groups say is a path to discrimination.

“No student should fear being excluded from a school club or participating in a school activity because they are LGBTQ,” said Sarah Warbelow, legal director at the Human Rights Campaign. “While of course private groups should have the freedom to express religious viewpoints, they should not be able to unfairly discriminate with taxpayer funds.”

The bill passed both the state Senate and state House with broad bipartisan support. Just three state senators and eight House members voted against the new law.

Bevin's not off the hook on this one even facing the veto-proof margin, he gladly signed it anyway.

But this is my state now, Bevin has signed dozens of new GOP laws and they'll take effect later this summer, and any hope that Kentucky wasn't totally the joke of the nation will disappear in a flash.  Anyone who isn't a Christian white male cop isn't wanted here, it seems.

By the way, the first time a public school kid in Kentucky decides they want to pray towards Mecca under this new law, I wonder how it will hold up.


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