Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Mueller asking about Trump's bowel movements...

Sources close to the investigation say that Robert Mueller is now asking close Trump associates if they can provide any insight to the bathroom habits of the President. Speculation is that he might be swallowing top secret Russian information from secured locations and then having Jared Kushner fish the intelligence from subsequent bowel movements. Something that would not be allowed considering the new limitations of security for the President's son in law.

Would you say that they are about this big?
Observers say that this line of questioning seems to be replacing the previous Mueller inquires as to whether or not Trump had anything to do with the Fergie version of the National Anthem performed prior to the the NBA all star game. While it had nothing to do with Russia, Mueller was hoping to pin it to the President in order to gain leverage for future endeavors.

Interesting Statistic...

I  have read a couple of articles recently that suggest a very compelling and interesting statistic. According to these sources (and there appears to be multiple sources that confirm this), the vast majority of our recent serial killers grew up in broken homes.

Specifically, the claim is that 26 of the 27 deadliest killers grew up fatherless.

So perhaps guns are not to blame for mass shootings. Perhaps it's not actually testosterone or something else associated with males that tend to lead them off the edge. Perhaps there is a lack of a male father figure to provide guidance?

Certainly, you are not going to convince anyone on the left that mass shootings are tied to single parenting, the normalization of divorce, the promotion of non-traditional family structure, or anything that could otherwise be seen as an insult to what is otherwise deemed as cultural improvements from a liberal social sense.

But at the end of the day, your chances of raising a successful child, who graduates from high school, goes to post secondary school, stays out of jail, becomes employed, and goes on to marry and start their own family can be greatly improved by keeping both the mother and father involved.

Oh, and apparently it also helps if you don't want your child to end up as a mass murderer.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Delta to lose $50 million tax break over break with NRA?

The Georgia Senate’s leaders vowed to block a lucrative tax break bill on Monday that would benefit Delta Air Lines after the Atlanta-based company severed ties with the National Rifle Association 
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said he would not support tax legislation that helped the airline “unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with the NRA.” He echoed a growing number of conservatives who opposed the measure over the weekend.  
That move forced Gov. Nathan Deal and other supporters of the $50 million jet fuel sales tax exemption to shift to the defensive, and prompted a growing number of Republicans to try to strip the provision out of a broader tax-cut bill that has already passed the state House.
Perhaps not everything is as simple as following the crowd. Delta no doubt felt they were doing the practical thing as a company by severing ties with the NRA. But they may end up with several million regrets. The tax bill in question would provide Delta with between $40 and $50 million a year in tax savings.

Right now it looks like the bill is stalled in the Senate, and probably won't pass unless the jet fuel tax break is stripped out (or unless Delta changes their mind on providing discounts for NRA members). The Airline recently signed a twenty year agreement to keep their headquarters in Atlanta.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Because certain people don't know how to read...

Administration's request for expedited hearing declined 
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear the Trump administration's appeal of a federal judge's ruling that requires the government to keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program going.

The court's denial was expected, because the justices rarely accept appeals asking them to bypass the lower courts.

The Justice Department said it would contest that ruling before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California. But government lawyers also asked the Supreme Court to take the highly unusual step of agreeing to hear the case, bypassing the appeals court.

The Supreme Court has agreed only about a dozen times in the past century to immediately take a case and bypass the federal appeals courts, and those case usually involve a national emergency, such as nationwide strikes in the steel and coal industries.

So the reality of this is that the Administration's plea to bypass the 9th circuit court and have the USSC move ahead with an expedited hearing was not expected to succeed. There is no reason to believe that the USSC will not hear the case should the 9th circuit court actually agree with the lower court decision.

The count rendered absolutely no opinion on the merits of the case.

By almost all legal accounts, the Administration is expected to eventually win the court case.  There is little merit to the idea that an executive action by one President would be legal because a District Judge agreed with the reasoning, while the executive action by a different President on the same topic is illegal because a District Judge did not agree with the reasoning for it. There is no legal precedent for any law or executive action to be "justified" to a District Judge before taking place.

If anyone truly expected the Courts to be able to overrule the President on this issue in the long run, then Democrats in Congress would not have been negotiating for a legislative fix for the issue.

So we can make up our own minds?

The Nunes memo stated that the FICA application did not reveal the fact that the Steele dossier was bought and paid for by the DNC and the Clinton Campaign. The Schiff memo suggests that the FBI was being fully transparent in regards to who funded the dossier.

This was the actual wording from the application (as taken from the Schiff memo):
indicated to Source #1 that a U.S.-based law firm had hired the identified U.S. Person to conduct research regarding Candidate #1’s [i.e., Trump’s] ties to Russia. (The identified U.S. Person and Source #1 have a longstanding business relationship.) The identified U.S. Person hired Source #1 to conduct this research. The identified U.S. Person never advised Source #1 as to the motivation behind the research into Candidate #1’s ties to Russia. The FBI speculates that the identified U.S. Person was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit Candidate #1’s campaign.
Now lot's of things could be ascertained from that statement. But the belief that the U.S. Based law firm was hired by the DNC and the Clinton campaign is not one you would come to without the benefit of hindsight. Certainly if the FBI knew that Steele was hired by the DNC and Clinton campaign, there would not require any "speculation" as to the likely motivation behind the hiring. I mean seriously; if our crack pot investigative team could not conclusively determine the reason why the DNC and Clinton campaign would hire Richard Steele to come up with dirt on Donald Trump, then they should all be fired for incompetence.

Let's also not forget that many Democrats disputed the Nune's claim that the warrant referred only to a Person and a Law firm, rather than a political entity. Many Democrats suggested flat out that the FICA warrant stated it was a political entity that hired Steele. This was obviously not the case in any tangible sense, and there isn't any reasonable interpretation that would force a Judge to read the term person as meaning a Political Party or Political Candidate.

The more I research the Schiff memo, the more it actually seems to confirm the Nune's memo, rather than dispute it.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Democrat Memo...

Let's be clear. The Democratic Memo was mostly a straight ahead strawman argument. It doesn't effectively defend, and doesn't even attempt to deny the main charges brought up by the original Republican memo on the subject. In stead it attempts to cleverly move the debate just slightly off kilter, attempting to debunk arguments that were never made by the original memo.

In fact, most of the relevant facts were simply echoed by the Democratic memo. The only difference appears to be that rather than be troubled by them, the Democrats seem more than willing to defend the same facts.

For instance, the fact that the FBI relied on the so called credibility of Richard Steele in their FICA application was a fact mentioned in both memos, but for different reasons. The Democrats basically parroted the argument of the FBI, that the dossier should be considered (even unverified) because they felt Steele was a trusted source. But the Republican never questioned Steele as a source. Rather they made the argument that Steele wasn't actually the source of the information as the warrant implies. The Republicans argued that Steele was simply a go between and was providing unverified information from paid Russian sources that were not (themselves) known to be trusted sources.

In other words, the Republicans questioned the reliability of the paid Russian sources. The Democrats countered with a defense of Richard Steele. This would be a classic strawman logical fallacy.

Another example of this same bit of information was the mention of the name George Papadopoulos in both memos. The Democrats state that the Steele dossier did not initiate the original counterintelligence operation by the FBI into the Trump campaign. They stated it as if it was a rebuttal of the Republican memo.  But the Republicans had also mentioned Papadopoulos in their memo as well as the reason a counterintelligence operation was initiated. They did however, argue that the dossier "fueled" the investigation moving forward.

In other words, the Republican claim that the unverified Steele dossier was used to fuel the FBI counterintelligence operation after it was initiated. The Democrats countered by demanding that the investigation was not initiated by the Steele dossier (something that was not in dispute). Again, another classic strawman logical fallacy.

The Democrats also state that the dossier was used "narrowly" in securing the warrant. This is an attempt to be clever by using a "semantic" argument that actually means one thing, while implying another. If you read the context of the term "narrowly" it suggests that a limited (or narrow) portion of the dossier was used in the FICA application. It does not actually argue (even though it implies) that the emphasis granted to this information was "narrow" in terms of the overall application.

The Republicans never made any claims that any portions of the dossier (other than the narrow subject associated with Carter Page) was used in the FICA warrant. So the Democrats making this argument are both using a strawman fallacy, while simultaneously using a semantic argument to imply something not actually stated.

There are several other examples of similar strawman arguments, where the original claims by the Republicans go untouched including:
  • The fact that the Judges in question were never informed that Richard Steele was paid by the DNC and the Clinton campaign. (apparently there was some information provided in the footnotes about the fact that Steele was being paid by someone with political interest - but to what degree a judge could assume is a matter of question)  
  • The fact that the Judges in question had been continuously made to believe that Yahoo news had "independent verification" of the information, when they knew that Steele himself had spoken to Yahoo (the Yahoo reporter admits that Steele was his source). 
  • The fact that the Steele dossier made up a significant portion of the justification for the FICA warrant was not addressed by any new facts suggesting otherwise.  
  • The fact that Deputy Director Andrew McCabe suggested that no warrant would have been sought without the Steele dossier was not seriously challenged as a matter of fact.
Bottom line is that there is really nothing new in the memo. It's basically a political argument that lacks any real new information. Even the articles I read from people who are fond of the Schiff memo are basically just happy with the tone, the argumentative nature, and the language used. Making a statement like "compelling evidence and probable cause to believe Page was knowingly assisting clandestine Russian intelligence activities in the U.S" doesn't really provide any actual "information" other than to let us know Adam Schiff's opinion. But it apparently is enough to satisfy those clinging to the notion that the FBI did everything by the books.  

I am still of the opinion that the Justice Department and Congress should simply declassify the application and the hearings on the subject. Then we can all judge for ourselves. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

Gun control is not a tangible solution... it's a political ideology.

There are over a hundred million rifles owned by U.S. Citizens, including approximately one and a half million assault rifles. These guns are not going away.  Even the previous assault weapons ban was only a partial ban, with more assault rifles protected by exceptions than assault rifles being banned. In fact it was more of a ban on "manufacturing" of the assault weapons, than it was a ban on "owning" them.

So yeah, we can ban bump stock. We can raise the age requirement for certain guns. We can bolster the background check procedures.  We can do any number of things around the edges, but none of it will fundamentally change the reality that there are still going to be millions of guns in our country, and that people will have access to them if they try hard enough.

The chances that gun control can prevent any shootings from taking place in the immediate, intermediate, or even long term future is none, none, and next to none. It's not a realistic tangible manner to prevent future shootings. It's a political ideology. A cult of hope. An philosophical argument that takes place in a wishful realm of utopia that doesn't tangibly exist.

The longer and harder people push for a political ideology in lieu of an actual solution... the more people will die in the meantime. The idea of chastising people for not living in the same fantasy world that they live in, certainly does nothing to help matters along. Most importantly, gun control fanatics must stop rejecting any and every suggestion not related to gun control, just because they feel that every other idea is somehow an argument against gun control.

Colton Haab or CNN?

Who it telling the truth...
  • Colton Haab claims that CNN rewrote his question for him, and told him that it was important for him to stick to a script. 
  • CNN suggests that they did no such thing, and that their only issue was that Haab wanted to give a speech, and this forum was not the place for speeches.
So who is telling the truth and who is fudging the truth? 

Last night Colton Haab was on Tucker Carlson, and laid out exactly what he said took place. He stated that originally CNN has asked him to write up a statement and a question, which he did. Then they told him that he couldn't read a statement, but could ask the question, which he agreed to. Later he said that the question he submitted had been rewritten for him by member of CNN (he provided the name in question) and that he was told to ask it as they wrote it, and that it was important to stick to the script. At that point, Haab claimed he decided to back out of the event. 

CNN basically denies... well pretty much all of it.

When there seems to be a dispute such as this, it's important to not allow your "politics" to determine who might be the honest one and who might be the dishonest one. If you are a conservative, your knee jerk reaction would be to side with Haab against the evil CNN. If you are liberal, your knee jerk reaction is to believe the trusted CNN over some ROTC conservative gun freak. 

But a quick look at what took place might lend some credibility to one argument or the other. As pointed out by many viewers,  there were many students who were given an opportunity to provide statements along with their questions. This seems to go against the CNN stated argument that the forum didn't allow for speeches or statements. Rather, it would seem that CNN didn't want Haab to provide his specific statement along with his question. 

Secondly, pointed out by Haab on Tucker Carlson, if you watch the forum, you will notice that every person who gave a statement or asked a question was holding and read from identical pieces of papers. Now it's possible that CNN just handed out these props so that the students could write down their own questions, but that would require the assumption that nobody had previously written their questions out and that everyone wanted to read from a piece of paper. He seems to believe that CNN provided both the props and the questions with them. 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Which way will he go?

Rumor has it?

So... we are hearing that the FBI and other US agencies have learned the names of some of the Russians associated with the so called Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear teams, which are code names for the Russian intelligence groups known to be involved in international Russian hacking. This information supposedly comes from "Dutch intelligence". 

The specific rumors are that most of the names involved are of the supervisory nature, rather than any of the specific people who may have actually done any real hacking. That may be a distinction without a legal difference.

Of course, the intelligence and evidence that ties these groups specifically to the 2016 email server hacking is sketchy at best (similar IP addresses, similar hacking software). That being said, the thing that Mueller has going for him is that he would never actually have to prove anything in court, because nobody from Russia is going to be extradited here to face prosecution.

So it's reasonable to believe that Mueller may offer us another set of indictments similar to the one he just released against the 13 members of the trolling farm. A hand full of names, some accusations of criminal activities, an explanation as to what they felt the hackers were attempting to accomplish, all with the fairly well known understanding that nothing will ever come of it.

Now the issue at hand is that the Dutch intelligence is more generic about the organization than specific to the alleged crimes. Whether or not American intelligence has learned more specifics is the going to be the driving force behind how detailed these allegations may become. Similar to the recent indictments of members of the trolling farms, those expecting similar indictments against members of Fancy and Cozy bear are not offering that there is any evidence of American involvement. At least not at this point.

My personal opinion is that Mueller will probably hold off these indictments till he is pretty close to the end of his probe. I certainly would expect that to be the case if any sort of indictment comes down against Russian hackers that does not include any American co-conspirators. Another indictment that does not implicate the Trump campaign is a loser for the left. While they may be able to spin it as one of those "we were right, it was the Russians" deals... that would be a very shallow "kissing your sister" type of victory.

The bigger debate in all of this was always about collusion. If no collusion is alleged, then Trump will claim victory. It will be hard to argue that one away.

Why is it that...

So we had a horrifying school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and of course the politics of the situation have become out of control. Now I have had very little to say on the subject, because you sort of feel like the people involved need a little space and a little leeway. It also appears like no matter how you react, it is going to offend someone. It feels like we (as a country) never allow for any grieving period, we just jump right into the politics.

But I have to ask a question here involving the two students (David Hogg and Colton Haab) that have gotten the most publicity. Why is it that David Hogg has become the instant face of the cause and is considered somewhat of a hero, while Colton Haab has been largely ignored by many on the left or has actually been getting negative publicity. Most recently, Haab has accused CNN of not allowing him to ask the questions he had written during a recent forum, which prompted CNN to issue a statement which basically called Haab a liar.  CNN stated that they did not script his question, but rather argued that Colton wanted too much of the forum's time to make his point.

Certainly David Hogg (and those students with the same view) have not had their opinions limited by time constraints. I am curious why Colton Haab should have his limited?

I think there is an an important point to make here: David Hogg spent the ordeal hiding in a closet, while Colton Haab risked his life using Kevlar sheets to shield fellow students from the shooter.

  • Why is the guy who hid in the closet the hero who deserves the spotlight? 
  • Why is the guy who risked his life for others the goat who should keep his opinions to himself?  

just curious...

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Our 2018 Olympians - Making political points

But not much else... 

Black Panther...

And here I thought movies were designed to entertain? 
Marvel Studios‘ “Black Panther” is being hailed as the most diverse superhero movie in Hollywood history, but it’s not diverse enough for some progressives who want to know: Where are all the gay characters?
The latest comic-book-to-film adaptation checked off a number of identity boxes with its almost exclusively black cast and cohort of strong female characters. But filmmakers ditched a lesbian romance subplot from the original comic books, prompting an outcry from the LGBT community.
Actress Florence Kasumba stoked the flames of outrage when she revealed that scenes of lesbian flirtation filmed during production were left on the cutting-room floor.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Tax law now more popular than not!

I guess the Democratic plan of running against the tax cuts in 2018 probably is being reconsidered. Who knows, maybe it eventually will actually be used by the GOP in 2018.

Look who was at one of those Russian organized rallies!

CNN and MSNBC Helped Russia Sow Discord by Promoting Fake Anti-Trump Rally

Micheal Moore at the "Trump is not my President" Rally!
A stooge for Vladimir Putin all the way!!!
So Mueller finally gives us the truth!  That the left turned into willing idiots in the Russian led anti-Trump propaganda war! We all know now that CNN, MSNBC, Michael Moore and millions of anti-Trumpers colluded with the Russians to bring down the nation's morale and harm the institution of the Presidency.

Shame on them, huh?

P.S. Let's play a game. How many Russians can you spot in the audience?

Monday, February 19, 2018

No longer shit for brains...

Dude, C'mon? Do you have Schiff for brains? 

But it's all Trump's fault...

The Obama administration received multiple warnings from national security officials between 2014 and 2016 that the Kremlin was ramping up its intelligence operations and building disinformation networks it could use to disrupt the U.S. political system, according to more than half a dozen current and former officials. 
As early as 2014, the administration received a report that quoted a well-connected Russian source as saying that the Kremlin was building a disinformation arm that could be used to interfere in Western democracies. The report, according to an official familiar with it, included a quote from the Russian source telling U.S. officials in Moscow, “You have no idea how extensive these networks are in Europe … and in the U.S., Russia has penetrated media organizations, lobbying firms, political parties, governments and militaries in all of these places.” 
That report was circulated among the National Security Council, intelligence agencies and the State Department via secure email and cable in the spring of 2014 as part of a larger assessment of Russian intentions in Ukraine, the official said. 
But others in the national security community say an overly cautious Obama White House could have done more both during the campaign and in the previous months and years to alert Russia that it was aware of its intentions to subvert the U.S. democracy — along with those of some other Western countries — and would retaliate forcefully at the first sign of Russian interference. 
POLITICO spoke with more than a dozen current and former officials from across the national security spectrum, including intelligence agencies, the State Department and the Pentagon. Almost all said they were aware of Russia’s aggressive cyberespionage and disinformation campaigns — especially after the dramatic Russian attempt to hack Ukrainian elections in 2014 — but felt that either the White House or key agencies were unwilling to act forcefully to counter the Russian actions.

Has Mueller actually uncovered anything so far?

The Russian journalist who helped uncover election interference is confounded by the Mueller indictments
A 37-page indictment issued by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team on Friday brings fresh American attention to one of the strangest elements of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election: The Internet Research Agency (IRA), a state-sponsored “troll factory” in St. Petersburg. 
But much of the information Mueller published on Friday about the agency’s efforts to influence the election had already been published last October — in an article by a Russian business magazine, RBC. 
In a 4,500-word report titled “How the 'troll factory' worked the U.S. elections,” journalists Polina Rusyaeva and Andrey Zakharov offered the fullest picture yet of how the “American department” of the IRA used Facebook, Twitter and other tactics to inflame tensions ahead of the 2016 vote. The article also looked at the staffing structure of the organization and revealed details about its budget and salaries.
If you read the WaPo article, it would appear that Mueller simply took most every person mentioned in the previously publicized RBC report and named them in the indictment. According to the article, some of the people mentioned were no more than low level employees who left the company in 2014, before much of this took place.

So while we have been led to believe that this indictment was the end result of high level American intelligence, it would appear that it's not much more than some simple follow up on known information. In essence, Mueller simply chose to bring indictments for what has been previously alleged by other people. Indictments that have zero chance of arrests, trials, or convictions.

This would parrot a similar theme with Mueller indicting Paul Manafort for old allegations that he had previously been investigated for (but never charged). Similarly both the original George Papadopoulos and General Flynn misleading statement charges happened prior to the Mueller assignment. It makes you wonder why neither had previously been charged by the FBI for misleading statements?

So it's certainly very fair to ask. Is Mueller and his probe actually doing any true investigation, or are they simply combing through existing intelligence looking to find people to charge with crimes? Perhaps that is what you can expect, when you put a team of federal prosecutors in charge of what had been a counterintelligence investigation?

Sunday, February 18, 2018

What TDS does to your hearing...

Rod Rosenstein: There’s no allegation in this indictment that any American had any knowledge, and the nature of the scheme was the kept defendants took extraordinary steps to make it appear they were ordinary American political activists, even going so far as to base their activities on a virtual private network here in the United States, so if anybody traced it back to the first jump, they appeared to be American.

What Liberals heard: There is no doubt that Trump associates colluded with these individuals and indictments are just around the corner.


Rod Rosenstein: The indictment alleges that the Russian conspirators want to promote discord in the United States and undermine public confidence and democracy.

What Liberals heard: The Russian conspirators were working on behalf of the Trump campaign.


Rod Rosenstein: There is no allegation in the indictment that the charge conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election.

What Liberals heard: Russian meddling was the reason Donald Trump won and Hillary Clinton lost.

The Rosenstein press conference - full transcript.

Obviously there are already suggestions being made that Rosenstein made statements that he didn't actually make, or that he didn't make specific statements that he actually did.

  • He did not, as some have claimed, make any statement that suggests that there are others (referenced or unnamed) who may later be indicted. There wasn't even the slightest hint of this. 
  • He did, twice in fact, make the plain spoken statement that there is no suggestion in this indictment that any American had any knowledge of the scheme. Had Rosenstein made the statement that no Americans were being "charged" in this indictment, then it would leave open the possibility of more indictments. But he didn't. He stated that no Americans had knowledge. His statement basically precludes the idea that there are Americans who are going to be charged for any sort of conspiracy here. 


The indictment charges 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies for committing federal crimes while seeking to interfere in the United States political system, including the 2016 presidential election.

The defendants allegedly conducted what they called information warfare against the United States, with the stated goal of spreading distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.

According to the allegations in the indictment, 12 of the individual defendants worked at various times for a company called Internet Research Agency LLC, a Russian company based in St. Petersburg.

The other individual department, Evgeny Victorovich Posogon, funded the conspiracy through companies known as Concord Management and Consultants LLC, Concord Catering, and many affiliates and subsidiaries. The conspiracy was part of a larger operation called project Lacta.

Project Lacta included multiple components, some involving domestic audiences within the Russian Federation, and others targeting foreign audiences in multiple countries. Internet Research Agency allegedly operated through Russian shell companies. It employed hundreds of people in its online operations, ranging from creators of fictitious personas to technical and administrative support personnel, with an annual budget of millions of dollars.

Internet Research Agency was a structured organization headed by a management group and arranged into departments including graphics, search engine optimization, information technology and finance departments.

In 2014, the company established a translator project focused on the United States. In July 2016, more than 80 employees were assigned to the translator project. Two of the defendants allegedly traveled to the United States in 2014 to collect intelligence for their American influence operations. In order to hide the Russian origins of their activities, the departments allegedly purchased space on computer servers located here in the United States in order to set up a virtual private network.

The defendants allegedly used that infrastructure to establish hundreds of accounts on social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, making it appear that those accounts were controlled by persons located in the United States.

They used stolen or fictitious American identities, fraudulent bank accounts, and false identification documents. The defendants posed as politically and socially active Americans advocating for and against particular candidates. They established social media pages and groups to communicate with unwitting Americans. They also purchased political advertisements on social media networks. The Russians also recruited and paid real Americans to engage in political activities for political campaigns and stage political rallies.

The defendants and their co-conspirators pretended to be grassroots activists. According to the indictment, the Americans did not know they were communicating with Russians.

After the election, the defendants allegedly staged rallies to support the president-elect, while simultaneously staging rallies to protest his election. For example, the defendants organized one rally to support the president-elect and another rally to oppose him, both in New York on the same day.

On September 13 of 2017, soon after the news media reported that the special counsel’s office was investigating evidence that Russian operatives had used social media to interfere with the 2016 election, one defendant allegedly wrote, “We had a slight crisis here at work. The FBI busted our activity. So I got preoccupied with covering tracks together with my colleagues.”

The indictment includes eight criminal counts. Count one alleges a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States, by all of the defendants. The defendants allegedly conspired to defraud America by impairing the lawful functions of the Federal Election Commission, the United States Department of Justice, and the Department of State.

Those organizations of the US government are responsible for administrating federal requirements for disclosure of foreign involvement in certain domestic activities.

Count two charges conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud by Internet Research Agency and two of the individual defendants.

Counts three through eight charge aggravated identity theft by internet research agency and four individuals. Now, there is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity. There is no allegation in the indictment that the charge conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election.

I want to caution you that everyone charged with a crime is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in court. At trial, prosecutors must introduce credible evidence that is sufficient to prove each defendant guilty beyond any reasonable doubt to a unanimous jury. Special counsel’s investigation is ongoing. There will be no comments from the special counsel at this time. This indictment serves as a reminder that people are not always who they appear to be on the internet. The indictment alleges that the Russian conspirators want to promote discord in the United States and undermine public confidence and democracy. We must not allow them to succeed.

The Department of Justice will continue to work cooperatively with other intelligence agencies and with the Congress to defend our nation against similar current and future efforts. I want to thank the federal agents and prosecutors who are working on this case for their exceptional service and I’ll be happy to take a few questions.

Is there concern that this influenced the outcome of the election?

What I have identified for you are the allegations in the indictment. There are no allegations in the indictment of any effect on the outcome of the election.

On page four of the indictment, paragraph six, it specifically talks about the Trump campaign, saying that defendants communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign. My question is later in the indictment, campaign officials are referenced not by their name, by campaign official one or two or three. Were campaign officials cooperative, or were they duped? What was their relationship with this?

There’s no allegation in this indictment that any American had any knowledge, and the nature of the scheme was the kept defendants took extraordinary steps to make it appear they were ordinary American political activists, even going so far as to base their activities on a virtual private network here in the United States, so if anybody traced it back to the first jump, they appeared to be American.

Have you had any assurances from the Russians they will provide these individuals for prosecution?

There’s been no communication with the Russians about this. We’ll follow the ordinary process of seeking cooperation and extradition. Thank you very much.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Let's be clear...

Trump is not responsible for the Russians meddling of the election... he never was.

The Obama Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA, and everyone else responsible for our national security back in 2016 is responsible. Why this seems relatively hard for people to grasp is what is otherwise known as cognitive dissonance. In this case, specifically a belief disconfirmation of a cult-like nature.

Isn't it interesting that the very people responsible for counter-intelligence, preventing our national security interests from being compromised, and protecting the American public, are now the very people trying to pass blame to someone who wasn't even in charge when any of this happened? They all conveniently point their finger at the big, bad, boogie man himself... Donald Trump. He's the one to blame! Oh, and btw... they will all tell you that he is a dumb incompetent buffoon, but it's their argument that he has been outsmarting them all six ways from Sunday. But, hey, maybe they can string him up for something like obstruction.

Moreover, those who were actually responsible for allowing the Russians to meddle, are ironically the very ones doing the lion's share of the investigation. They are in fact investigating their own paid for claims that it wasn't them who was responsible. They would like us to believe that it was an illegal conspiracy. In fact, they've been trying to prove that it wasn't their fault for nearly two years now, and are still drawing a blank.

Interestingly, almost nobody on the left sees a problem with any of this.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Liberals change their tune

From collusion to meddling... 

So the "NEW" talking points memo from the left is that the Mueller investigation wasn't about finding Trump/Russian collusion and that Trump was not defending himself all along...

Apparently the "NEW" talking points memo from the left is that the Mueller investigation was about finding evidence that the Russians meddled, and that Trump was wrong all along to call it a witch hunt. Apparently, Trump wasn't defending himself and his campaign. He was defending the "Russians".

Really. Seems many of these outlets share a brain.

Trump’s “hoax” talking point is clearly dead. The indictment specifically says the accused Russians “knowingly and intentionally conspired” to interfere with “the U.S. political and electoral process, including the presidential election of 2016.”
Robert Mueller just made it impossible for Trump to call the special counsel probe a 'total hoax'
NBC News
Democrats lashed out Friday at President Donald Trump after the investigation he has called a "hoax" and a "witch hunt" resulted in the indictment of 13 Russian nationals on charges of interfering in the 2016 election.

So, yeah... apparently we appointed a multi-million dollar special counsel to tell us that there were Russian internet trolls, and indict a whole bunch of people who will never stand trial. Go figure.

If you had asked 100 liberals six months ago if they would feel vindicated if the Mueller investigation revealed that there was Russian meddling, but no collusion with the Trump campaign. How many say yes? Any?


13 Russian nationals indicted for interfering in US elections
A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia on Friday indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities accused of interfering in U.S. elections.

They are accused of having a “strategic goal to sow discord in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 presidential election.”

The 37-page indictment was signed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

They are accused of spreading derogatory information about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, denigrating Republican candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio -- and supporting Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders and then-Republican candidate Donald Trump.

According to the special counsel, the indictment charges the defendants with conspiracy to defraud the United States, three defendants with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud and five defendants with aggravated identity theft.

Now all we need to do is get our extradition papers in order, and sent them off to Vladimir, who I am certain will be happy to send them all over for trial. Oh wait, we don't have an extradition treaty with Vladimir.

Obviously I have not read the indictment, nor would I likely understand everything that the indictment is attempting to accomplish. But quite obviously a foreigner interfering in a U.S. election, spreading derogatory information, and attempting to sow discord in our election process... would be a very bad thing.

I guess we should be expecting that indictment against Richard Steele any time now.


Update: It appears that what Mueller is going after is a couple of long standing internet trolling agencies, that have been spread pro-Russian propaganda for quite some time. Their involvement in U.S. politics goes back at least to 2014.

Rod Rosenstein, in a press conference today suggested that there were no American citizens who knowingly participated in the scheme.  One would have to assume that if there were known American accomplices, that they would have been listed in the indictment as well.

This is going to be a tough pill to swallow for the Trump/Russia collusion diehards.

Friday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian nationals and 3 Russian entities for the unregistered interference in U.S. elections.

While Russian operatives may have had a formidable online presence prior to and during the 2016 election cycle, their efforts were not expansive enough to push the needle in any direction.

Not only did the DOJ conclude there was no willing or knowing collusion between any American and Russian operatives, they also concluded Russia’s efforts failed to impact the 2016 election.

During a press conference, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein said, “There is no allegation in the indictment that any American was a knowing participant in the alleged unlawful activity,” adding “There is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election.”
Waiting to get some other opinions on the subject. But it certainly looks like this indictment is moer exculpatory than incriminating for the members of the Trump campaign.  

Immigration deal dead?

Looks that way, at least in the Senate. Several bills got support, some even majority support. But nothing came close to the 60 votes necessary. The closest bill to 60 votes was probably the bill least likely to make it through the House and be signed by the President.

The reality here... and it is reality even if it sounds partisan... is that the GOP was willing to upset their base and actually offer amnesty to get something done. Ironically I read in the Washington Post that the problem with cutting the deal is that the GOP insisted on making changes to chain migration and the visa lottery, which they called a "toxic" request for the GOP to make.

I find it amusing  that when the GOP requires something that the public wants (but the base of the Democratic Party doesn't) - that it's considered toxic. But if the Democrats require something (like amnesty) that the general public wants (but the base of the Republican Party doesn't) there doesn't seem to be much of an issue with it.

In other words... the media continues to argue that the far left views are mainstream (even if the general public disagrees).  Meanwhile they continue to argue that GOP views (even when the general public agrees) are radical and toxic.

Moreover, it seems fairly obvious that the media has forgotten who actually was elected to run the executive branch and both chambers of congress. The majority is under no obligation to cater to the wants of the minority.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

So why is it that...

Every time some crazy monster goes to a place that doesn't allow guns... takes out his own gun and mows a bunch of people down. The solution for so many people is to double down on the concept of not allowing guns?

Perhaps if we just posted a few more "no guns allowed" signs or possibly clarified what we would like to accomplish with those signs... that would do the trick?

Immigration deal? Too many cooks in the kitchen..

So we have the Susan Collins, the King/Rounds, the Gardner/Bennet, the McCain/Random Democrat plans... we have a variety of House plans in the making, and of course we have the President's four pillar plan. It sounds rather confusing, but it would appear all very simple.

The President claims he will not sign anything that doesn't include the four pillars. Democrats will not entertain any plan that includes all of the four pillars. So, what we have is a classic political "stand off". Which is to say that we can look for people to spend more time spinning blame, than solving the issue.

Some points:

  • All polling shows that the general public wants overall immigration reform. The more areas that are addressed, the more popular the reform will be. While the Democrats seem to believe that they can push a clean DACA fix, or a fix with some limited changes and a few bucks for border security, that is not what the general public wants. 
  • The President's four pillar plan is popular. Each individual piece of the puzzle (DACA, chain migration, visa lottery, and border security) is popular on their own... and by a two to one margin the American public believes that the four pillar plan is reasonable and responsible. 
  • A plan being bi-partisan does not make that plan either good or fair, especially when bi-partisan is a bunch of Democrats and Lindsey Graham or a bunch of Democrats and John McCain. The issue will still be what is included. Less is not more in the eyes of the American public.
  • The dreamers will not be deported if the plan falls apart. There will be very limited tangible effects, but very many political effects. This is more of a political piece of mind, and an expectation deal with many Hispanics and immigration supporters. They have been offered a pathway to citizenship.  
  • Fair or not, the President and conservative have created a negative stigma regarding chain migration and the visa lottery system. Defending these programs is a risk. Allowing the dreamer deal to fall apart defending them, is very dangerous.

Both sides run the risk of being blamed if this whole thing falls through. But ultimately, the President is on record with the American public as offering a reasonable compromise that includes the one thing that the Democrats have been clamoring for.

The media will certainly spin this as the GOP demanding too much for something that the public is in favor of. But that is an argument that is only half right. The mainstream public does not just see this as just an issue with the dreamers. They also are in favor of the things that the GOP is asking for.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

GOP edges in front in latest Generic Ballot poll

Republicans have erased the Democratic advantage on the generic congressional ballot in a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll that, for the first time since April, also shows President Donald Trump’s approval rating equaling the percentage of voters who disapprove of his job performance. Fully 39 percent of registered voters say they would support the GOP candidate for Congress in their district, while 38 percent would back the Democratic candidate. Nearly a quarter of voters, 23 percent, are undecided.

Make up your mind?

So everyone has probably heard about Adam Rippon. You know, the very first gay figure skater (ahem) to ever compete in the Olympics.

Anyways, Rippon wanted to make sure everyone understood he was gay, decided to attack Vice President Mike Pence on Twitter, made sure everyone knew he would be boycotting any Olympic trip to the White House, and basically brought a whole bunch of politics to the situation by his own choice...

Adam Rippon: First gay figure skater in history!

But now that he has won a medal in the 2018 games (kudos to him), Adam Rippon is upset that people are focusing on his sexual preference and his associate to Mike Pence... rather than his performance. Go figure.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Much Ado...

Rice Email Describes Direct Involvement in Russian Probe 
"The President stressed that he is not asking about, initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective. He reiterated that our law enforcement team needs to proceed as it normally would by the book," Rice wrote. "From a national security perspective, however, President Obama said he wants to be sure that, as we engage with the incoming [Trump] team, we are mindful to ascertain if there is any reason that we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia."
So... now we have our Republicans with their undies in a bunch because President Obama apparently took an interest in the FBI Russian probe. Now I understand that the former President suggested that he did not interfere in law enforcement investigations. I also understand that some people see this as proof positive that he lied.

But I think the issue isn't so much that President Obama was lying, as it is that people (still today) are confused by what the investigation into Russian hacking was.

Playing off a recent article by Andrew McCarthy, the reality was that the investigation that James Comey was leading was never a criminal investigation. Rather the Russian probe was a counter intelligence investigation. For all the pomp and circumstance surrounding the concept of collusion, the term collusion is not criminal. While it certainly has national security implications and it could conceivably turn into a criminal situation depending on what you find, the truth is that Comey was never really running a criminal investigation.

Moreover, the appointment of Robert Mueller by Rod Rosenstein left out the entire concept of actually having him investigate a particular crime. None was listed, making it unique among historical appointment.  In many ways, the appointment document suggests that the Special Counsel was being created to take up the counterintelligence investigation that Comey had left behind.

So, while it would be a very bad thing if there was evidence that President Obama had his hand in the whole Clinton Email investigation, there really shouldn't be much of an issue with him being involved in the Russian probe. After all, the President of the United States should be privy to information coming from any counter intelligence investigation that is of very high profile or high importance.

If there is an issue in all of this, it would be that the former President suggested that there may be reason to hide information from the incoming President. I don't believe that would have been his call to make, and I doubt that he ever actually made that call.

Ironically, this same logic and argument holds true for the current President. It may seem counterintuitive to some, but short of absolute proof that Trump or his administration was involved in any wrongdoing (which Comey offered none of under oath), then the FBI has an obligation to keep the Commander in Chief informed of important national security matters and important national security investigations. That should have included the investigation about Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Trump Derangement Syndrome?

So it was said that George W Bush held and attended six daily intelligence briefings a week. He met with the National Security Adviser as well as the heads of security (CIA, FBI, etc...) depending on who was required for that particular meeting. George HW Bush and Gerald Ford was said to to the same thing (but less regularly), while Carter and Reagan met most every day with their NSA to go over the daily briefing.

Obama was said to have hosted less of these in person daily intelligence briefings as President (much to the criticism of some conservatives). Obama relied mainly on the intelligence briefing document, so that he could read and assess on his own time.  Some suggested it was because Obama was disinterested and probably never bothered to read them.

Donald Trump made the decision to have the in person briefings, as many of our previous Presidents have done. If I was President, I would probably choose the same thing, since people can certainly relate things differently in person as they can in writing. It also provides the ability to have a real time question and answers which you would not get from a paper. National security is obviously one area where you would not want to see any miscommunication.

So how has this decision been greeted by the media? With the mocking that President Trump is too much of a simpleton to read things on his own, and so he needs people to tell him. There have even been quips about how the Heads of security are having to bring big pictures to help him understand. Because, you know, national security is certainly a joking manner.

As my Dad used to say when someone was trying to be funny, but wasn't...
hardy har har.

The truth is that Trump is handling the intelligence briefings exactly like many (if not most) of our past Presidents did. But since it is Trump... well obviously it must be wrong and it must be because he is stupid.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Two very similar questions?

  • Does Schiff and the Democrats want their memo to be releases?
  • Do the Democrats want to cut a deal for DACA?
As has been pointed out, Adam Schiff and the rest of the Democrats in the House intelligence do not appear to be exactly working their fingers to the bone with the FBI to rewrite and redact their memo. They do, however, appear to be working overtime on the television circuit, bemoaning the entire process. You heard very little about what was in the original memo from the Republicans until it came out. One can assume correctly that Nunes, Gowdy, and the rest of the Republicans felt that their memo would speak for itself. 

On the flip side, the Democrat are providing a ton of talk, but little action in backing up the talk. I am still hoping that eventually their memo gets released. Neither the Republicans on the committee or the President seem particularly worried about the memo. Just compare and contrast the reaction of the Democrats to the release of the first memo (which was over the top, sky is falling, sort of stuff), with the muted reaction from Republicans and the President. You almost get the feeling that they (Trump and the GOP) welcome the second memo. 

Similarly, it certainly feels like the President (especially) and the Republicans are willing to cut a deal with the Democrats to fix the DACA situation. Of course, the key there is that the President and Republicans want a deal. They are not going to allow for a separate fix for the dreamers that does not address other immigration priorities. They have the distinct advantage of knowing that the American public would like to see a comprehensive deal as well. The pillars of their deal (chain migration, visa lottery, border security) are all very popular with the public.

On the flip side, the Democrats seem poised to play politics with the issue. You get a sense that they are using more energy trying to figure out if they can tie blame to Trump or the GOP for any potential failure to secure a deal, than they are using trying to come up with a solid game plan on an actual deal. That being said, I think it would be a very big political mistake (at least short term) for the Democrats to walk away from a deal (that includes amnesty for the Dreamers) because they didn't want to give any ground on the other issues. Many in the Hispanic community are becoming impatient and frustrated with the process. Democrats simply have too much to lose if they drop the ball on this one.

Kim Jong Un's Sister

Not exactly sure "why" anyone cares about Kim Jong Un's sister (who apparently has no name of her own), but from all accouns she is "stealing the Olympic spotlight" and is somehow a big deal. 

And here I thought it was the South Korean figure skater who nearly lost her top while skating who "stole the show".  I must confess, I have not watched much Olympics this year. Perhaps because we cannot even enjoy the Olympics without the athletes providing us with their political views. Or perhaps it's because it competes with rerereruns of Impractical Jokers on TruTV.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

This is sort of ironic...

So MSNBC is attempting to pass off the fact that John Kelly did not offer to resign, and is not stepping down as Chief of staff as actual news. Think about that for a second. There was never any announcement of the sort. Not from Kelly. Not from Trump. Not from the Press Secretary. Not from anyone in the White House. 

The only people making the claim that Kelly was offering to resign, was going to resign, be asked to resign, or otherwise was in jeopardy of losing his job was the news media themselves, led by obviously uninformed anonymous sources from the NY Times.

So I guess what we can take from this headline is that MSNBC actually thinks it's news that one of the NY Times reporters came up with false information and then reported it as actual news. Either that or they actually live in a reality where they believe uninformed anonymous sources know what's real, while what actually happens is the "fake news".

A change in strategy...

  • First, the Democrats told you that a majority of Americans would see a tax increase, if the new tax laws took effect.
  • Then the tax cuts were passed, and the Democrats demanded that Americans would only see scraps. Only the rich would see a break.
  • Now that the tax cuts have been enacted, the Democrats are demanding that the Treasury and IRS got the tax tables wrong. 

Let's start with the basic premise that the Democrats have been factually lying to you all along. They knew that people would get a tax break, but hoped that they could torpedo support for the law by basically lying to people about it. Once it was passed, they begrudgingly conceded that they had been lying about tax increases, but that the tax breaks would be unworthy. Now they are attempting to create doubt as to whether or not the Treasury and IRS are playing games with the process to make tax cuts look better than they are.
Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and House Ways and Means Committee ranking member Richard Neal (D-Mass.) have asked the Government Accountability Office to take a look at the new withholding tables. “The real question with respect to withholding is being straight with the American people, and if you play games with this in order to advance a political agenda, [then] Americans get hurt," Wyden said.
The funny thing about this statement is that there is an accusation without a real accusation. Wyden is literally not suggesting that he knows anything or has any basis for his complaint. He brings forth no quotes or suggestions from any tax specialists who have seen the law and calculated it differently. Brings forth no legitimate suggestion from anyone that there is any evidence that the tables are wrong. It's quite literally some Politicians huffing and puffing about something with the blatant attempt to "cause" suspicion, without any tangible reason to do so.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Open Mic

Quote of the day

Andrew C McCarthy:

With its verification by the Grassley-Graham memo, the Nunes memo now has about a thousand times more corroboration than the Steele dossier, the basis of the heinous allegations used by the Justice Department and FBI to get the FISA warrants. 

 Read more at:

List keeps growing...

  • Deputy Director Andrew McCabe
  • Director Wray's chief of staff James Rybicki
  • FBI General Counsel James Baker
  • FBI Special Counsel investigator Peter Stzrok, 
  • FBI Special Counsel investigator Lisa Page
  • Chief of Counterintelligence and Export Control David Laufman

All have either been reassigned, asked to resign, or resigned amidst the turmoil over the handling of their Hillary Clinton probe, and their subsequent investigation of Trump campaign members.

These are not newly appointed people who didn't work out or political operatives who are expendable. These are all career law enforcement people who are being personally affected by things that are being drawn to light by both Congressional probes, as well as speculation (or leaks) about what may be coming out in the upcoming Inspector General report due in the next couple of months.

These people are not being demoted or let go because unfounded and unrelated accusations from years ago, but rather because of specific actions they took (or oversaw) as a member of the country's law enforcement community. One has to wonder if this is an inclusive list, or just the tip of the iceberg.

The Clintons told us there was Trump Russia collusion!

Friday, February 9, 2018

First 2018 political ad...

Budget Passed....

Next up. Immigration reform debate. 
(get out the popcorn)

Nobody seems particularly happy with this. Fiscal conservatives are upset that it adds more debt to the deficit. Strategic Republicans point out that a two year budget eliminates the chances next year to pass any new laws through reconciliation (which only requires 50 votes and generally is done as part of the budget process). Mainstream Democrats are upset about a major increase in military spending and some special tax breaks. The far left is livid because the Democrats allowed a budget to pass without dealing with the dreamer issue.

So basically it's a losing deal for everyone with an ulterior motive, a far left, or a far right stance.

To some degree, it's the sort of bi-partisan deal that some people claim to want.  Overall the budget deal got 71 votes in the Senate, with 173 Republicans and 73 Democrats voting for it in the House. Perhaps they can piece together something similar with immigration?

Thursday, February 8, 2018

More polling stories...

50% Think Senior Law Enforcement Officials Broke the Law to Block Trump Presidency Just 42% Think Russia Meddled More in 2016 Election Than FBI

This is all coming in spite of the constant media drum beat about collusion, the frantic chants of "Russia, Russia, Russia", and the new found belief that Presidents who deny wrongdoing or criticize investigations of them (or their administration) are "obstructing justice".

While I am sure many on the left will be quick to suggest that the FBI and Special Counsel are suffering because of unfair and unprecedented attacks... the truth is that there is nothing unusual with Congress using their oversight to bring forth possible ethical or legal lapses in law enforcement, and it's certainly not unusual that a President might fight back publicly against a Special Counsel.

It's a short memory, when we have all forgotten that the Obama DOJ went into multiple cities and effectively accused these police forces of all being racists who needed to be "retrained" by Federal employees. I wonder out loud why these same people (now so aghast at any criticism of law enforcement) sat so silent as thousands of cops were accused of racism?

While it's been a while, I find it hard to believe that anyone can forget the two Special Counsels against President Clinton led by Ken Starr. The Whitewater investigation wielded over thirty criminal convictions, but was commonly attacked by the Clintons and the Democrats as a "partisan witch hunt over a failed land deal". Meanwhile, investigations into "actual" obstruction by the President (such as lying under oath in a civil court, witness tampering, and eventually lying to Federal investigators) was written off by the Clintons and the Democrats as "all about a blowjob".  Again, one has to wonder why the media parroted and repeated the Clinton attacks on law enforcement... rather than hold them up to the same standards that they appear to feel applies today (no criticism of anyone).

Bottom line: The FBI's reputation problems are entirely self inflicted wounds. James Comey obviously ran a loose ship, allowed open partisanship to play into decisions, and effectively became an arm of the Obama administration and Clinton campaign in terms of politics.

Think about it. Clinton aides lying under oath. No charges. Clinton destroying subpoenaed evidence. No charges. Not to mention the obvious underlying crime that the director of the FBI says wasn't committed because in his opinion she wasn't trying to really hurt anyone. On the flip side, using opposition research and newspaper articles to garner warrants to spy on Trump associates in the 2016 campaign, and launching investigations in the Trump campaign supposedly on third hand drunken conversations by a low level volunteer? Charging two members of the Trump campaign with misleading statements that in one case had nothing to do with the 2016 election apparently as an act of intimidation to "get them to talk"?

The evidence is there. The FBI is responsible. The criticism is worthy of a long hard look.

Trump has better Rasmussen Approval Rating than Obama had at the same time in his Presidency

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Wednesday shows that 48% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Trump’s job performance. Fifty-one percent (51%) disapprove.
The latest figures include 34% who Strongly Approve of the way the president is performing and 42% who Strongly Disapprove. This gives him a Presidential Approval Index rating of -8.
President Trump has a stronger approval rating today than media darling Barack Obama did back in 2010 on this same day. Back on February 7, 2010 Barack Obama had an approval rating of 44% while 56% of likely voters disapproved of the far left president.
If congress can pass a two year budget this, and actually agree to some sort of immigration compromise over the next few months, then you could see the American public starting to actually "normalize" Donald Trump as President. People might actually (gasp) see him as being productive and even successful. He will likely never carry historically high approvals, but he could eventually crawl into mediocre or even good ones.

In the past eight weeks, the RCP polling average for Donald Trump has increased from 37% to over 42%. Again, 42% is not a great bottom line, but a five point bump is a five point bump

None of this will stop the media (and other Trump bashers) from their non-stop temper tantrum. But more and more people are seeing the temper tantrum for what it is. Eventually the subject will start to change to things people care about, rather than things that the media cares about. 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Budget deal reached...

In spite of many of the Democrat rank and file demanding that a DACA fix be included in the next budget deal, it looks like leadership has agreed (at least in principle) to a budget deal that would fund the Government for the next two years, and kick the next debt limit fight off till after the mid-terms.

The President is said to be in favor of signing the bill.

Meanwhile, Pelosi rages on about a DACA fix... 

The odd thing is that people are reporting that Pelosi is in agreement (in private) but publicly railing against the deal, because she claims not to have a promise from Paul Ryan to hold an open debate regarding DACA/immigration. This seems to be classic talking out of both sides of your mouth. Say one thing to these people, and another to those.  In the end, I would expect Paul Ryan to make some statement (similar to McConnell's) to the extent that they will focus on immigration reform, and make the promise that the process will be open and inclusive.

At the end of the day, many Democrats are still wanting to at least posture for a clean DACA fix. Perhaps even some expected that they would be able to force it into the budget deal. But there is effectively no chance that a clean DACA fix is either going to be included in the budget deal, or passed through both chambers of congress and signed into law by the President.

Democrats would serve the process better if they were willing to accept the reality that they are going to have to give in to some of the demands of the GOP and the President to get their DACA fix. I believe that some thought that they could stand tall, not give in, and possibly use a long term stalemate as a campaign issue for 2018. But it looks increasingly like they must absolutely get a DACA fix or they will be looking at a revolt by both members of their congressional caucus and rank and file Democratic voters.

Whatever leverage the Democrats thought they had... seems to be slip sliding away. If the budget deal goes through as expected (without a DACA fix) the Democrats will have been badly outplayed for a second time in just a few weeks. 

Trump willing to shut down Government to get Immigration fixes passed...

I'd love to see a shut down 
President Trump said Tuesday that he would “love to see a shutdown” over immigration if Democrats don’t come to the table to negotiate on border security and other stiff enforcement measures, escalating the stakes with less than four weeks to go before a deadline for action. “If we have to shut it down because the Democrats don’t want safety … let’s shut it down,” the president said at a White House roundtable discussion on MS-13 gang violence and illegal immigration. 

 The tough talk seemed to upend congressional Republicans’ carefully crafted strategy of avoiding shutdown threats, hoping to pin blame on Democrats if the government did tumble into another stoppage.


At this point, I don't believe it's about "blame" anymore. We have had so many threats of Government shut downs, we have had actual shut downs, and I really don't feel that most people really feel any personal impact, much less a major one. Other than politicians trying to blame each other, while the media takes sides, the shut down itself (if it happens) is likely to have little impact.

Ultimately people would rather we "not" shut down the government over politics. Most believe that our congress should see funding the Government as a responsibility that supersedes other legislative priorities. Polling almost always suggests that Americans don't like politicians holding the budget and spending allocations hostage over policy, regardless of the popularity of that policy.

Moreover, when it comes to immigration... both sides hold very popular positions. A vast majority of Americans support some form of a DACA fix. By two to one margins, people want to replace chain migration and the visa lottery system with a more targeted skill based immigration policy (even if this significantly lowers the number of immigrants). More border security is almost a universal issue that people agree with in some form or the other.

There is no reason why both sides cannot agree to a deal that includes everything that the American public wants. But there seems to be a growing "resistance" so to speak for doing just that. The Democrats are under a great deal of pressure from their rabid base to push through a DACA fix either as a stand alone deal, or with only minimal concessions to popular (but politically damaging) policies pushed by the GOP.

The President is pushing for a DACA fix that would include a pathway to citizenship. In doing so he is standing up to the most conservative of his base. But for him to stand up to his base, he needs to know that Democrats are willing to meet him halfway. They too should be willing to concede that the President has proposals that have widespread support (outside of the Democratic far left base)... and be willing to stand up to their base as well. Failure to do so, would show that they ultimately place partisanship above partnership.

If the President successfully frames this debate in this manner... he looks like the adult in the room. What does it say about the state of affairs in Washington, when Donald Trump becomes the voice of reason?

Members of Congress pranked

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee held an eight-minute phone conversation last year with Russian radio hosts posing as a Ukrainian politician who promised to provide compromising images of President Trump.

They got naked pictures of Donald Trump!

"We wanted to talk to someone who specifically works on intelligence and give him a completely insane version of events," Kuznetsov told The Atlantic of the call to Schiff. Stolyarov added that the pair had given Schiff "a bunch of disinformation" and described the call as "completely absurd."

The Atlantic reported that when Kuznetsov and Stolyarov called McConnell, he told them that new sanctions against Russia were unlikely. When they called McCain, he had "sounded like he didn’t know what to do — like, at all," according to Kuznetsov. 

 "This would never happen in Russia," Stolyarov told the magazine of the prank calls. "People wouldn’t be so trusting, especially if they are a member of parliament or a civil servant." Kuznetsov added that the pair would like to target Hollywood stars, but they are "much harder to reach than American senators."

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Will the President sit down with Robert Mueller for a nice friendly chat?

With the rumors circulating that Special Counsel wants to interview the President, everyone and their brother has come up with opinions on whether or not he will (or should) agree to an interview.

My own knee jerk reaction was a fairly quick conclusion that he would do so, if for no other reasons than it would be the best public relations move with the general public. The President "not" agreeing to an interview will obviously be taken by many that he is "hiding" something. I also get a sense that this Special Counsel concluding without an interview with the President will ultimately feel less than "finished".

But I generally must confess that some of the arguments to the contrary are swaying me in the other direction. Most importantly, the arguments that I find compelling are coming from attorneys or people within the legal community, who quite obviously know this subject better than I.

To some degree it's a matter of weighing the upside vs the downside.

The upside to agreeing to an interview is mostly political. It would give the feeling that the President is open. forthright, and confident. There would be more "finality" to the process, and it would move more people past the entire affair.

The downside is that any interview with a group of experienced investigators and prosecutors could be little more than a perjury trap, with the sole attempt to get the President to say something "misleading".  Certainly that is the pitfall of the Mueller team charging two Trump associates with "making false statements". It becomes a warning to all others that prosecution is willing to push "process crimes" even in areas that are not necessarily the focus of the investigation. Had neither Papadopoulos or Flynn been charged with a process crime, it's unlikely that the President's lawyers would be pushing as hard to resist.

The upside of not agreeing to an interview would be that Mueller is either forced to back off the request or show his hand. If he wants to get a grand jury subpoena to talk to the President, he needs to either show probable cause that the President has committed a crime or show that the President will provide information that he cannot garner anywhere else. Ultimately, a refusal by the President and his attorneys is also a signal that they would be willing to fight a subpoena (all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary). The last thing Mueller would want is for a Court to rule that he has no due cause to even question the President. If he legally has no cause to question, he certainly has no cause to suggest the President committed a crime.

The downside of not agreeing is the optics. People will argue and many will believe that the President has something to hide. From that standpoint, Mueller could decide not to press things to a Grand Jury, play a bit of the martyr, and provides a somewhat empty P.R. win for his team. The other downside is the possibility that Mueller takes it a grand jury, garners the subpoena, and is able to successfully fight off any court challenges.

Many legal analyst are suggesting that the President is better off resisting a voluntary sit down interview. The argument is that the bar to garner a grand jury subpoena to interview a sitting President should be very high. Moreover, there is a feeling that Mueller is not ready to declare that the President is under criminal investigation, and that Mueller knows he would have a tough time convincing a series of judges that the interview is legally necessary to acquire otherwise unacquirable information.

As a compromise (to a avoid a fight that neither side probably wants) they may agree to have some form or written questions and answers as previous Presidents have done in similar circumstances. Another possibility would be the President and his attorneys be provided a full list of the questions that would be asked prior to an interview and that they agree to only answer those questions. Both of these options would appear to satisfy the Special Counsel's need to get answers, while simultaneously satisfying the President's legal team concern that the request for an interview is a perjury trap.