Posted by: maboulette | February 20, 2017

Trump Minion Goes On All the Sunday Political Talk Shows


Last week, White House Senior Adviser Stephen Miller claimed 14% of non-citizens are registered to vote. “We know for a fact, you have massive numbers of non-citizens registered to vote in this country,” he said, appearing on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos. “The White House has provided enormous evidence with respect to voter fraud.”


Miller is repeating a claim Trump continues to make and it is unquestionably false and absurd; and the ignorant minion Stephen Miller has no proof.


What do we do when we have a president and White House surrogates, along with enablers in the right-wing media, who continuously lie about something as fundamental to our democracy as whether we’ve got massive voter fraud?


The answer is we find the truth. We spread the truth. We continue to speak the truth. And we use every chance we have – in op-eds, in letters to editors, in local media, on national media, on blogs – to state the truth.  And we demand that big lies like this be corrected.


A new report on voter fraud from the Brennan Center endorses that multiple nationwide studies have uncovered only a handful of incidents of non-citizens voting.  Based on state prosecution records, votes by non-citizens account for between 0.0003 percent and 0.001 percent of all votes cast.


Election officials agree that non-citizen voting in our elections is not a problem. The National Association of Secretaries of State, whose Republican-majority membership includes the chief elections officers of 40 states, said they “are not aware of any evidence that supports the voter fraud claims made by President Trump.”


Federal law and the laws of every state bar non-citizens from registering to vote or voting in elections. Experts believe that the severity of the penalties for violating these laws serve as a significant deterrent. Also, it is easy for a non-citizen to get caught.


Trump’s false claim of massive voting fraud is intended for one purpose: to legitimate more voter identification laws around the country.


Voter identification laws are already spreading rapidly. Before 2006, no state required photo identification to vote on Election Day. Now, 10 states have this requirement. All told, a total of 33 states — representing more than half the nation’s population — have some variety of voter identification rules on the books.

The purpose of these laws is to further embed Republican officials.


New research shows a substantial drop in minority participation when and where these laws are implemented – which is what you would expect given that members of racial and ethnic minorities have less access to photo IDs.

The research also shows that because minority voters tend to be Democrats, strict voter ID laws slant the primary electorate dramatically. The turnout gap between Republicans and Democrats in primary contests more than doubles from 4.3 points to 9.8 points.


The truth: There’s no voter fraud. State ID laws intended to stop voter fraud are really intended to stop Democrats from voting – and that’s been their effect.


One of the most important common goods in our society is the truth about our democracy. Trump is pounding that truth – laying the groundwork for more state constraints on access to the ballot by American citizens. 

This is beyond shameful.


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The GOP chairman of the House Oversight Committee Rep Chaffetz, who has been rejecting Democratic demands to scrutinize potential ‘conflicts of interest’ involving President Trump, and as an alternative is looking for criminal charges against a former State Department employee who aided in setting up Hillary Clinton’s private email server.


Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday asking him to organize a grand jury or charge Bryan Pagliano, the computer specialist who helped launch Clinton’s server while she was secretary of state.


Pagliano did not follow two subpoenas ordering him to appear before the oversight panel. The GOP-led committee later voted to hold him in contempt of Congress.


Earlier this month, Chaffetz met with Trump at the White House and agreed not to talk about oversight. He has banned calls for his panel to look into Trump’s businesses and probable conflicts of interests.


Chaffetz said in a statement that allowing Pagliano’s conduct “to go unaddressed would gravely harm Congress’ ability to conduct oversight.”  (Exactly how I feel about Trump).  If Chaffetz continues to harass the Clintons and does not examine the many conflicts of interest by President Donald Trump then I will do everything I can possibly do to fight against his re-election because he has not done his job.  It is sad that the majority of GOP members of Congress do not do their job.


Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said hunting down and charging Pagliano would be a waste of money and time.


“Apparently, Chairman Chaffetz and President Trump are the only two people in Washington today who think we should still be investigating Secretary Clinton,” Cumming said in a statement. He added: “The Oversight Committee can’t afford to be distracted by political vendettas against Hillary Clinton while our constituents are begging us to conduct responsible oversight of President Trump.”


Pagliano refused to answer questions in 2015 from a House panel investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. He later spoke to the FBI under immunity, telling the bureau there were no successful security breaches of the home-brew server, located at Clinton’s home in suburban New York City.


Pagliano said he was aware of many failed login attempts that he described as “brute force attacks.”  The email issue trailed Clinton’s candidacy for president, and Republicans were steadfast in focusing on her use of a private server for government business, with several high-profile hearings leading up to the election. Chaffetz and other Republicans cast Clinton as irresponsible with U.S. national security by insisting on using private communications systems at potentially greater risk of being penetrated by Chinese and Russian hackers.  But what about leaders in Congress who are doing the exact same thing now?  And what about Trump and his scandal with Russia?  So you have picked your fight to be the email server of Clinton instead of the Trump scandal over Russia?  I don’t know why I am surprised.


But Democrats insist the sole purpose of the Benghazi hearings — and a separate inquiry by Chaffetz — was to weaken Clinton’s presidential bid. She lost to Trump in spite of winning the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes.


FBI Director James Comey announced last July that the FBI was not recommending charges against Clinton in the email case, although he categorized her actions as “extremely careless,” a   remark that Democrats judged as needless editorializing.  Then, just 11 days before the Nov. 8 election, Comey advised Congress that new emails possibly connected to the case had been discovered and would need to be reviewed. A follow-up letter nine days later said the email review had done nothing to change the FBI’s original conclusion.  Many Democrats and Clinton herself have suggested that Comey’s actions so close to the election probable sunk her chances of winning.


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Posted by: maboulette | February 19, 2017

What Lawmakers Are Going to Run Into During Week Recess


As Republican lawmakers prepare to leave Washington for a week-long congressional recess, liberal groups and Democratic Party organizers are hoping to make their homecoming as noisy and uncomfortable as possible.


But national organizers admit they are playing catch-up to a “dam-bursting level” of grass-roots activism that has bubbled up from street protests and the small groups that have swelled into crowds outside local congressional offices.


Protests against the Republican programs have become repetitive since President Trump took office, with momentum building through widely shared videos of lawmakers being confronted by constituents angry over efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Now, national groups see the recess as the chance to capitalize on that local activism, with a show of might aimed at declaring the arrival of a new, and sustainable, political force — barely three months after their humiliating defeat in November.


In email alerts, is assembling members to attend town-hall-style meetings across the country, and it has set up a website,, to help people find them. The site includes a guide to “health care recess messaging.” (“The best and most impactful questions are ones where someone shares their story about what the Affordable Care Act has meant to them or their family,” it instructs.)


Organizing for Action, the political non-profit group that grew out of former President Obama’s election campaign has created a “Recess Toolkit” with suggestions on how to effectively ask questions at the events. Last week, the group held an online seminar with members of Indivisible, the most prominent activist organization to appear in response to Mr. Trump’s election, to coach supporters on how to challenge lawmakers — in a “civil and respectful way” advised one policymaker, according to a recording of the session.


Planned Parenthood is hoping to flood the sessions with members in pink T-shirts, urging Congress to keep in place the health care law and the organization’s funding.


What voters are learning is that the GOP doesn’t have anything to replace Affordable Care Act with – and they certainly can’t deliver on the good aspects of this insurance that those who have it do not want to give up.  If they could do this – they would have done “repeal and replace” years ago.

This is just some of the activities planned for this coming week.



Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in Texas arrested at a courthouse an undocumented woman who had gone to court wanting legal protection from domestic abuse.


According to the Guardian, two federal agents showed up in a domestic violence court and arrested the woman minutes after she was granted an order of protection. A local lawyer stated that the woman’s abuser tipped ICE agents off to her immigration status as well as where she was.  This case is likely to increase fear in undocumented populations, discouraging those in dangerous or abuse situations from seeking help.  This is the exact reason some cities have declared themselves as “sanctuary city”.


El Paso County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal told CBS News the woman had endured “serious abuse,” and articulated shock at the work that had gone into making the arrest.  

“We were stunned that ICE would go to these lengths for someone that is not a violent criminal,” Bernal told the outlet. “I cannot recall an instance where ICE agents have gone into the domestic violence court, specifically looking for a victim of domestic violence.”

Michelle Ortiz of Americans for Immigrant Justice said that in this amplified climate of xenophobia, ushered in by an administration that has put out clearly anti-immigrant messaging and legislation, fear in undocumented communities has reached levels not seen in decades.

“Enforcement action like this one, I mean it takes us back 30 years and it’s terrifying because we do so much outreach and community events with law enforcement trying to get the word out that this is safe, and in your home country it might not be safe, and in your home country there is corruption and there is law enforcement that does not care about domestic violence and is not going to protect women—but you’re in the United States now, where everyone is protected regardless of immigration status,” Ortiz told the Guardian. “And I’m really afraid that we won’t be able to say that anymore. It’s disheartening and frankly it’s terrifying.”

“Our clients come to us at the lowest point in their lives,” Bernal told the El Paso Times. “Many of them are so frightened of coming to us because of possible immigration concerns.”

Per the Guardian report, the woman had experienced multiple episodes of abuse. In response, she had “filed three police reports” which detail incidents involving “punching, kicking, choking and having a knife thrown at her.” The video footage shows the two ICE agents entering the courthouse and later arriving on the 10th floor, where protective order hearings are held. The footage concludes with the agents leading the woman outside.

“They came into the courthouse,” El Paso district attorney Jaime Esparza told the Guardian, “and I think it sends a horrible message to victims of domestic violence on whether or not they’re actually going to have the ability to seek justice in our courthouse.”

Posted by: maboulette | February 19, 2017

Found an Underwater Continent


Scientists say they have found an underwater continent two-thirds the size of Australia, and they are calling it Zealandia. 


This new continent is about 1.74 million square miles in size and 94 percent submerged. But at its highest points, it bulges above the ocean surface in the form of New Zealand and New Caledonia, according to a paper published in GSA Today, the journal of the Geological Society of America. 


The anticipated recognition of the continent of Zealandia does not signify the discovery of a new land mass. Rather, the paper argues that the geological evidence suggests the land mass should be categorized not as a collection of islands and fragments but as a bona fide continent.


“If we could pull the plug on the oceans, it would be clear to everyone we have mountain chains and a big, high-standing continent above the ocean crust,” Nick Mortimer, a geologist at GNS Science in Dunedin, New Zealand, told Reuters.

Mortimer was the lead author of the paper, “Zealandia: Earth’s Hidden Continent.”   New discoveries about the geology of the region prove what has long been suspected, he said. 

“Since about the 1920s, from time to time in geology papers people used the word ‘continental’ to describe various parts of New Zealand and the Catham Islands and New Caledonia,” Mortimer said.  The difference now is that we feel we’ve gathered enough information to change ‘continental’ to the noun ‘continent,'” he added.


The land mass meets the geological definition of a continent, according to the paper. It has high elevation compared to the ocean crust. It has certain geological components, including a crust thicker than ocean crust. And it has well-defined limits around an area large enough to be considered a continent rather than a fragment.


Zealandia is believed to have broken away from Australia about 80 million years ago and sunk beneath the sea as part of the break-up of the super-continent Gondwanaland.

 By contrast, modern human beings are believed to have emerged only about 200,000 years ago.

Mortimer recognizes that the paper at this point represents the making of a geological case — the opening of an argument rather than its resolution.

“The litmus test will really be if Zealandia appears in maps and atlases in five or 10 years time,” he said.



The number of problems that consumed the first month of the Trump administration is infuriating and demoralized congressional Republicans are looking for direction and specifics from the White House on key policy issues such as tax reform and healthcare.


Several in the GOP are shrugging off the bombardment of negative headlines, and are blaming it on a new president who is unorthodox as well as growing pains for a new administration  that is not fully staffed up.


Key voices in the party say the Trump controversies are beginning to add up and are causing problems since the numbers of problems are preventing Republicans from applying their full attention to their top legislative main concern: repealing and replacing ObamaCare and overhauling the Tax Code.


“It is a distraction,” Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said this week after Trump fired his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and news outlets reported close ties between Trump campaign aides and Russia. “I mean every day you guys, you’re not focused on tax reform right now… nor [are] the American people. It’s taking away from other efforts.”


But the past week has felt like Trump’s White House is speeding from one crisis to the next, responding to the ‘controversy du jour’, and is not able to put together any news cycle that is positive.  Some GOP associates worry that, while under attack, the White House will make the mistake of reacting rather than reaching out to friends on Capitol Hill.


“The danger is they become hunkered down over there in a bunker mentality, and you get more problems like the roll out of the immigration executive order,” said one House GOP lawmaker who backs Trump. “They are not reaching out to their allies here in the House and the Senate. The danger is they become more insular and it creates more problems.”

“The solution,” the lawmaker continued, “is they need to be communicating to us more, reaching out more, coordinating more. There couldn’t be too much of that.”

Another huge problem is staffing. Trump still has not nominated many of the deputy secretaries, ambassadors and other key posts requiring Senate confirmation. The White House continues to lack a full-time communications director, with Press Secretary Sean Spicer pulling double duty. And many offices in the sprawling Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House still remain vacant. Some people that came with the White House are just quitting, while others appointed by Trump are not passing FBI checks.  Trump is also beginning to have more and more people who are not interested in accepting positions.


“They have got to figure out how to get people into these key slots,” said House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who met privately with Trump earlier this month. “I was walking in EEOB today. There are still a lot of empty seats. Once they get fully staffed, it will get better, but it can’t happen soon enough.”


Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), chairman of House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the Energy Department and water infrastructure, agreed, saying it’s been hard to continue with regular oversight work since key Trump officials are not in place. “We’re sitting here going, ‘OK, we gotta do hearings and so forth, who do I call up to have a hearing at Energy and Water?'” Simpson said.  He is also echoing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in criticizing Trump for going off message which happened with the Presser during the last week.  Trump just goes off message, often not answering the question asked and he still talking about the election campaign.


Mainstream Republicans who voted for Trump “are saying, ‘What the hell is going on? And why are we talking about Ivanka’s clothing line and whether there were 3 to 5 million illegals, he would have won the popular vote?'” Simpson said. “Why are we talking about all this stuff?”

“I’m just hoping that we will get to where he focuses on those things that are important … Most Republicans agree with his agenda and what he wants to do.”


Ryan and his team say all is going as planned. Republicans will overhaul both the healthcare and tax systems, even if the Speaker cannot will it to happen.      

“We are doing tax reform. Tax reform is going to happen. Do you know why tax reform is going to happen? Because it has to happen,” Ryan said.

The GOP plans to roll out their much-anticipated ObamaCare repeal and replace bill after the President’s Day recess, though separations remain in the conference over how to do it and town hall meetings that show many rank and file Republicans are not happy about this one.  If this gets rolled out badly – there will be hell to pay in mid-term elections.


The rollout could correspond with Trump’s first joint address to Congress set for Feb. 28 – a speech many Hill Republicans hope is less of a campaign speech and heavier on policy preparations that could fill in the blanks on issues like the border wall, infrastructure and taxes.


In interviews, a number of Republicans insisted that the key committees working on Obamacare and tax reform – Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce – are progressing and have been unaffected by current White House distractions.   But they said it would help enormously if Trump sent an Obamacare bill to Capitol Hill.

“I’d love for somebody to come out and say, ‘Here’s the plan with specificity,’ or ‘Here’s the bill,’ but it’s unrealistic to expect this administration to, new as they are and with all the problems they’ve had in the Senate getting their key personnel confirmed,” Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) has said.

“I think it’s unrealistic for us to get this, but would I like to have it? Certainly I would.”



This week began with the resignation of Trump’s National Security Adviser Michael Flynn because of the the Russian scandal, and earlier today things got far more chaotic when six other members of Trump’s staff were escorted out of the White House after being flagged by the FBI. And now things have taken yet another weird turn, as ten members of a President’s Advisory Commission have all resigned also today.


Ten members of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders all resigned in unity today, in protest of Donald Trump’s treatment of minorities. This means two thirds of the commission is now vacant, after stating that they could no longer remain due to Trump’s portrayal of “immigrants, refugees, people of color and people of various faiths as untrustworthy, threatening, and a drain on our nation.” Among those who resigned were the commission’s chair and vice chair.


This comes on the same day in which six members of Trump’s own White House staff – including at least one staffer who was personally loyal to him – exited the building today under far different circumstances. After the FBI flagged them for failing background checks, they were out of the White House.

Additionally, Trump’s new pick for National Security Advisor, Robert Harward, turned him down. No one wants on the sinking Trump ship.

Wow – what a way to end the week.


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It sounds like the kind of scene one only finds in a real bad spy novel purchased at an airport gift shop and swiftly discarded once the flight is finished. But the frantic, chaotic, undercover indiscretions now leaking out of Trump’s White House have reached the point where his flight may soon be finished — as staffers reveal to major newspapers that they’re resorting to holding secret midnight meetings to plot around him and his remaining loyalists.


The plot goes like this: unnamed White House staffers nervously meeting at a bar down the street from their workplace in the middle of the night trying to figure out how to work around and survive a defective presidency. The erratic Oval Office occupant and his loyal minions have reached the point of paranoia, such that the staffers at the secret meeting are discussing eliminating their own social media pages of anything they might have ever said about Trump that could now be understood or misinterpreted as a lack of personal loyalty to him. After all, White House employees are getting fired, being escorted out of the building, and – in at least one instance – disappearing.


The White House staffers have already confirmed to use encrypted communication methods for communicating with each other – not for fear that foreign or domestic enemies might intercept them, but for fear that Trump and his personal confidants might be listening in on them trying to figure out who’s been leaking all of the embarrassing details about Trump to the newspapers.


And yet, all this despite sounding like a rejected script for Washington DC espionage thriller, is nevertheless the current scene in and around the Trump White House – just weeks into its unstable existence. More than a week ago the guy in charge of making sure Trump’s own computing devices don’t get hacked was fired and escorted out, and best anyone can tell, the guy has since vanished. Why was he fired? Where did he go? Why isn’t he talking?   No one can find him.


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Over the past week it’s become clear that the United States intelligence community is determined on exposing every last detail of Donald Trump’s election collusion with Russia, and that it’s willing to leak whatever evidence it finds directly to the media in order to make sure Trump can’t repress it. These leaks have taken down Michael Flynn, and more dominoes are in the process of falling. Now one senior U.S. Intel official is unquestionably forecasting that this will end with Trump going to prison.


Last night’s latest revelation, that four of Trump’s top campaign advisers plotted with Russian intel officials during the election, appears to have rupture the dam wide open. Trump fired back this morning with an ill-advised Twitter post about how those leaking the details of his Russian collusion were “un-American” for doing so. Hours later, John Schindler, a national security columnist for The Observer, tweeted a charming response that he had just received privately from a senior U.S. Intel official.


Schindler tweeted that the senior U.S. Intel official had shared with him the prediction that Donald Trump “will die in jail.” This appeared to be a prediction based on what the Intel official knows about Trump’s treasonous crimes with regard to Russia, and not some kind of reciprocal threat. But Schinder’s tweet helps to underscore just how thoroughly the Intel community believes Trump is guilty of treason with Russia, and its confidence in eventually being able to prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt – which is what would be required for Trump to end up impeached and imprisoned for it.


This comes less than a day after the New York Times reported that four of Trump’s campaign advisors, including Michael Flynn, had been caught by the U.S. Intel community colluding with Russian intel officials during the election. It may now simply be a matter of which of the four flips on Trump first.


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Donald Trump has announced that he’ll be heading to his Mar-a-Lago resort in West Palm Beach this weekend for the third time since he took office. This comes one week after he caused controversy by playing golf with Shinzo Abe while the media was placed in a room with the windows blacked out. And the explanation may be that a man whom some suspect is Trump’s Russian handler keeps strangely flying into West Palm Beach (and other cities) when Trump is in town.


After Trump flew into West Palm Beach last Friday, a Russian jetsetter named Dmitry Rybolovlev also apparently flew into the same airport on a private jet. This was noticeable for a number of reasons. First, Rybolovlev had traveled all the way from Switzerland to Florida. Second, Rybolovlev has past financial ties to Trump, and would be a suitable go-between with Putin. Third, it’s not just West Palm Beach, as Daily Kos has previously documented that Rybolovlev has a habit of flying into various cities that Trump is visiting at the time, including Concord, North Carolina — where Rybolovlev had no legitimate reason to be.


This raises the serious question of whether Donald Trump’s reliable weekend trips to West Palm Beach since taking office have been less about going on vacation and more about him – or someone in his administration – possibly meeting up with Rybolovlev, who just happens to also fly in for the same weekend. For instance National Security Adviser Michael Flynn also made the trip last weekend to West Palm Beach, during the height of the controversy about his Russian connections, and upon returning to Washington DC he immediately resigned. Did Flynn go down to Palm Beach to take instructions from Rybolovlev on whether he should resign? These questions feel insane, and yet they’re the ones we must now be asking.


Respected political reporter Louise Mensch has documented the expediently timed flights Rybolovlev has made to West Palm Beach, by following his plane number and flight plans, and it’s enough to make it look like yet another cog in Trump’s deepening Russian collusion.


When Trump’s people led traveling reporters into a room at Trump’s resort with black sheeting taped over the windows and then left them there, it raised further the question of whether it was to keep the media from being able to observe Rybolovlev’s presence. It also raises the question of whether Trump’s inexplicable post-election “victory” tours have been a mere excuse for Trump to get away from Washington DC so he could meet up with Rybolovlev in those cities as well.


To date there is not yet physical evidence that Trump and Rybolovlev are actually meeting with each other when they both happen to fly into West Palm Beach or another city at the same time; locking the media in a blacked out dungeon may have helped ensure that. But in light of four Trump advisors now being exposed for having colluded with Russian intel officers during the campaign, this is too much of a coincidence not to keep an eye on. With Trump traveling to Mar-a-Lago yet again this weekend, all eyes are on Rybolovlev’s private plane to see if it once again arrives at West Palm Beach airport on cue.

And, after Trump berated the press at the press conference yesterday – the press will be watching even more everything the administration and the President will be doing. I don’t believe that the President has yet learned what the Washington Press can do to him.  If he was a reader he could read about Watergate, Clinton and the intern, or numerous Senators, House Members and Speakers of the House.   The only President the press ever covered up for was John Kennedy and Trump is no John Kennedy.

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