Friday, March 16, 2018

In Like a Lamb....

Being led to slaughter:

"Mass. students join nationwide walkout over gun violence" by Michael Levenson Globe Staff  March 14, 2018

These kids have found their cause.

On what would normally be a snow day spent at home, hundreds of students marched to the State House to call for stricter gun laws on Wednesday, part of a nationwide day of walkouts and demonstrations marking one month since 17 people were killed at a Florida high school.

The students — from Weston and Wellesley, Malden and Somerville, Roxbury and Dorchester — held handmade signs and chanted “What do we want? Gun control now!” and “Not in our schools! Not in our streets!”

The students were among tens of thousands across the country who walked out of their classrooms and massed on state capitols, angry and frustrated at the lack of federal action to stem gun violence, despite mass shooting after shooting.....



America’s youth call out morally bankrupt politicians

Across the nation, a call for change

Otherwise it will just be children shooting children.

Outside Smith & Wesson in Springfield, gun paradoxes are laid bare

You had better stay inside then and get some schoolwork done.

"First, it looked like a Democratic wave. Now, it looks like a tsunami" by Astead W. Herndon Globe Staff  March 14, 2018

WASHINGTON — Before Tuesday’s special election in Pennsylvania, most signs pointed to a Democratic wave in the upcoming midterm elections. But after Democrat Conor Lamb scored a razor-thin congressional victory in the heart of Trump Country, there’s a creeping consensus that the wave could become a tsunami.

That is the narrative that is being supplied to justify the rigged election coming up in November.

The political spin doctors were out in full force Wednesday, as Republicans licked their wounds from an embarrassing loss and Democrats bellowed with confidence after winning a Pennsylvania district that Donald Trump took by 20 points in 2016.

Each side tried to parse what the results could mean for the midterm elections in November, when Democrats will attempt to wrest control of the House of Representatives from Republicans amid a growing backlash against the president.

In an ominous sign for the GOP, there are 114 districts currently held by Republicans where Trump’s margin of victory was smaller than in the Pennsylvania district won by Lamb Tuesday.

“The ground that Republicans are standing on is incredibly shaky, and we saw that last night,” said Douglas Heye, former communications director of the Republican National Committee. “The signs are pointing to a very bad November.”

The Republican candidate, Rick Saccone, may still contest the outcome, but Conor Lamb’s 627-vote lead Wednesday afternoon appeared insurmountable.

Republican leaders, at least publicly, attempted to downplay the results, saying Lamb benefited from not having a primary opponent, which allowed him to stake out more conservative positions that were attractive to voters in that district. They also said the Republican in the race, state Representative Rick Saccone, was a uniquely bad candidate.

He was Trump before Trump.

Lamb held a 627-vote lead on Wednesday, leading several news organizations to declare him the winner. Lamb claimed victory, but Saccone has not conceded defeat. The margin was small enough for Saccone to call for a recount.

Pollsters and other nonpartisan political strategists see the results in Pennsylvania as only the latest in a string of warning signs for Republicans that began shortly after the election of Trump.

It's a gathering political storm.

It was the latest in a series of Democratic wins during off-year elections. They swept to victory in governor’s races in Virginia and New Jersey, and Senator Doug Jones surprised Republican candidate Roy Moore in the Alabama special election in December.

Democrats have also won a spate of state legislature races around the country, including in districts that strongly backed Trump in 2016.

See: The CIA takeover of the Democratic Party 

Here are the candidates they are running.

More importantly, pollsters say, are the demographic trends that have been constant throughout the races. From Virginia to Alabama and most of the special elections in between, the suburban voters who broke for Trump in the last days of the 2016 election seemed to have flipped to Democratic candidates. Additionally, Trump has inspired new energy among liberals, who now make up a greater share of the electorate.

“I’d put the probability that Democrats pick up the 24 seats they need for control of the House at almost 100 percent,” said Rachel Bitecofer, a pollster and the assistant director of the Wason Center for Public Policy in Virginia. “I think Republicans are going to lose control of the House, and then, beyond that, I’m thinking somewhere around 40 and 60 seats if the election is held today and Donald Trump is still the president. Because everything is conditioned on that.”

Other political observers added caveats but offered similar predictions. Much can change between March and November, said one longtime Republican operative, who acknowledged the results are certainly bad signs for conservative candidates.

In Western Pennsylvania, “These were strong Trump base voters, and we couldn’t get enough of them to get our guy over the line,” said Stuart Stevens, an anti-Trump Republican operative and former top strategist for Republican Mitt Romney. “So there’s nothing positive.”

Trump is his guy?

House Speaker Paul Ryan said at a press conference Wednesday morning that many Republicans running in November would have the benefit of incumbency and he was unconvinced Democrats could replicate Lamb’s candidacy across the country.

“This is something you’re not going to see repeated because [Democrats] didn’t have a primary and were able to pick a candidate that was able to run as a conservative — who ran against the minority leader [Nancy Pelosi] and ran on a conservative agenda,” Ryan said.

But even other conservatives disagreed with that analysis. While Lamb had some conservative positions, he also campaigned against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and vocally opposed the Republicans’ recently passed tax-cut legislation.

Lamb did say he would not vote for Pelosi to keep her leadership post, but he also embraced several younger Democrats, including Massachusetts Representatives Joe Kennedy III and Seth Moulton.

“This campaign has . . . shown what Democrats can do when we’re willing to run everywhere,’’ said Moulton in a statement. He aggressively campaigned and fund-raised for Lamb, “The political establishment, on both sides, told Conor he couldn’t win. But by continuing to invest in the right candidates, challenging the status quo, and talking about a forward-looking message for the country, we can take back the House and hold President Trump accountable to the American people.”

The race in Pennsylvania was also fought in a district that seemed primed to embrace Republican arguments on the tax reform bill passed last year as well as Trump’s recent decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum as a way to revitalize communities like suburban Pittsburgh, from where many of Tuesday’s voters came. The fact that Republicans have fared so poorly could be an indication of the limits of those political arguments.

Heye, the Republican consultant and former RNC spokesman, said he thought Ryan’s reading of the election was overly rosy. Heye expected Republicans to wake up Wednesday feeling more nervous about their midterm positions, saying they need to “deal with the reality on the ground” that Trump is not popular.

Currently, Trump’s overall approval rating is 40 percent, almost 5 points lower than Barack Obama’s in 2010, when the Tea Party backlash in the midterms upended his presidency.

As for the Democrats, the group has rarely been more confident. After their good showing in Pennsylvania, the Democrats’ campaign arm for House races — the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — added 13 new districts to its “watch list.”

Including one in New Hampshire.

One of the new additions: Ryan’s district in Wisconsin.

But while Democrats and Republicans crowed back and forth, there was one notably silent voice Wednesday morning — President Trump. His normally active Twitter account often sets the news of the day or reacts to morning political shows, but the @realDonaldTrump account was quiet on the biggest political story of the day.....

So what? 

We are told he is unpopular and hated so his silence can only help, right?


I'm told they “got [their] ass kicked,” but that's not the way they are seeing it in New Zealand:

"New Zealand Diplomat Censured for Vulgar Tweet About U.S. Democrats" New York Times News Service  March 15, 2018

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand’s foreign ministry censured its second-ranking envoy to the United States on Wednesday after she tweeted that the Democratic Party in America should get its act together “or we will all die.”

Caroline Beresford, New Zealand’s deputy high commissioner to the United States, and second in charge to the ambassador, Tim Groser, has since made her Twitter account private, with the news website Newsroom reporting that her tweets had been deleted.

Responding to an opinion piece from the politics website The Hill, titled “A Sanders-Warren ticket could win big in 2020,” Beresford responded on Twitter, “No it couldn’t.”

“Please get your” — and here she used an expletive — “together or we will all die,” she wrote.

That was apparently in response to the suggestion that two senators, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, could form a presidential ticket for the 2020 election to defeat President Trump.

Minutes before her provocative tweet, Beresford tweeted about the same article in The Hill, saying of Democrats, “They’ve learned nothing.”

Beresford did not respond to a request for comment.

She earlier confirmed to the Newsroom website that she had personally sent the tweets but “realized very quickly that they were inappropriate, which is why I deleted them.”


Scott Brown must be having an effect.

"White House churn reaches new heights in a chaotic week" by Liz Goodwin Globe Staff  March 15, 2018

WASHINGTON — Trump’s energy secretary, Rick Perry, is now denying he has interest in becoming the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs, to replace the current secretary, whose days seem to be numbered.

RelatedVeterans chief Shulkin says he has no intention of quitting

There’s speculation that Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, could soon become attorney general (the current occupant, Jeff Sessions, is weighing whether to fire former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, who recently announced a retirement that hasn’t yet taken effect).

Senators of both parties seemed shaken by this week’s events. White House staffers were unsure which one of them could be fired next. Others felt like they had become extras in the reality TV show Trump once starred in.

The president’s raw, often angry Twitter feed has long been a source of heartburn for Republican lawmakers whose dearest wish is for Trump to stick to a script and generate fewer bad headlines. But the Tillerson firing — and rumors of more shake-ups to come — spark the more serious concern that the president is ready to throw off the few constraints placed upon him and his impulsive management style in the second year of his presidency.

The light went on?

Senator Jeff Flake said he is concerned about news reports and rumors that the president is considering several more firings — from chief of staff General John Kelly to Sessions, [and] the lengthy confirmation hearings that would eat up the Senate’s time if Trump further purges his staff.

Why would web edit that out of print?

Indeed, Trump appears to be setting up a “Hunger Games”-style competition among his remaining Cabinet secretaries, asking them if they’d like to take over their colleagues’ jobs.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke sounded a philosophical note to an ABC News reporter after emerging from a tough House oversight hearing on Thursday. “Do right and fear no man,” he intoned when asked if he was scared of losing his job.

The president has railed against Sessions for supposed disloyalty ever since he recused himself from the special counsel’s investigation into Russia and the Trump campaign. Pruitt could temporarily lead the agency without a confirmation hearing, but would eventually be subject to a Senate vote.

Firing Sessions would be seen as an act of aggression in the Senate, where lawmakers have repeatedly warned Trump to leave the Russia investigation alone. Confirmation hearings will be a challenge in general, with just 51 Republicans in the Senate and fired-up Democrats more willing to vote against Trump’s nominees than they were last year.

Remember when they didn't want him?

“I’d hope he’d keep him on because I think right now there’s a lot of disarray at the White House and this would just add to it,” Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama said of Sessions.

Trump refers to several members of his Cabinet as “dead weight” and wants to remove them as soon as possible, CNN reported on Thursday. He has decided to oust H.R. McMaster as his national security adviser and is actively discussing potential replacements, the Washington Post reported Thursday night. Veterans Affairs chief David Shulkin is widely believed to be on the chopping block, and there are rumblings that Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson could be shown the door over questions about his order of a $31,000 dining set for his office.


"Housing and Urban Development officials repeatedly consulted with Secretary Ben Carson’s wife about the prospect of redecorating his office last year, according to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act. The push to redecorate Carson’s office in the weeks following President Trump’s inauguration has come under congressional scrutiny in recent weeks. The 163-page release, obtained by the left-leaning group American Oversight, includes e-mail exchanges over the course of last year in which top HUD staffers vet different furniture options and solicit input from Carson’s wife, Candy Carson, as well as the secretary....."

That's ‘‘old news.’’

The turnover is a troubling sign for some lawmakers at a time of mounting foreign policy crises in North Korea and souring relations with Russia. It also comes amid other unsettling developments around Trump, including an ongoing investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and a legal battle over whether a porn star whose silence was bought during the final weeks of the presidential campaign can speak out about her alleged affair with Trump.

Also seeIs Donald Trump Jr. getting divorced?

Before it kills him.

The churn is not without political consequences. On Wednesday, Republicans digested the grim news that they had narrowly lost a Pennsylvania congressional seat in a district that had voted for Trump by 20 points, stoking fears that the president’s low approval ratings could spell doom in the midterms.

“With peace and prosperity breaking out all over the place the president should be wildly popular,” said GOP strategist Alex Conant. “He’s not because of all the chaos that surrounds him.”

Trump is strongly denying any charges of disarray or confusion. “There is no Chaos, only great Energy!” he tweeted cryptically earlier this month.

He also appears to be enjoying scouting for new talent, bragging last week that he could get “anyone” to work for him. After his top economic adviser Gary Cohn announced his resignation last week over the president’s decision to impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminum, Trump tapped CNBC conservative commentator Larry Kudlow to replace him.


"Larry Kudlow has, at times, been overly optimistic — if not outright mistaken — about what Republican administrations can achieve for the economy. He declared in a December 2007 column for National Review that George W. Bush’s presidency was ushering in a new golden era. ‘‘There’s no recession coming,’’ Kudlow wrote. ‘‘It’s not going to happen.’’ Economists later concluded that the Great Recession and the financial meltdown it triggered began the month that column was published....."

What a Laffer, huh?

Also see: Bank, industrial stocks fall amid trade tensions

Could lead to war.

“There will always be change,” Trump said on Thursday at the White House, while also downplaying the amount of turmoil. “And I think you want to see change.”

This isn't the kind of change I wanted to see.


Here's more trouble:

"Mueller subpoenas Trump Organization" by Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman New York Times   March 15, 2018

WASHINGTON — The special counsel, Robert Mueller, has subpoenaed the Trump Organization to turn over documents, including some related to Russia, according to two people briefed on the matter. The order is the first known time that the special counsel demanded documents directly related to President Donald Trump’s businesses, bringing the investigation closer to the president.

Some related to Russia? Some?

The breadth of the subpoena was not clear, nor was it clear why Mueller issued it instead of simply asking for the documents from the company, an umbrella organization that oversees Trump’s business ventures. In the subpoena, delivered in recent weeks, Mueller ordered the Trump Organization to hand over all documents related to Russia and other topics he is investigating, the people said.

I think we know why. It makes it today's top story.

The subpoena is the latest indication that the investigation, which Trump’s lawyers once regularly assured him would be completed by now, will drag on for at least several more months. Word of the subpoena comes as Mueller appears to be broadening his investigation to examine the role foreign money may have played in funding Trump’s political activities. In recent weeks, Mueller’s investigators have questioned witnesses, including an adviser to the United Arab Emirates, about the flow of Emirati money into the United States.....

Globe then rewrites and and cuts short the NYT pos.



"George Nader's shadowy existence and long history includes intrepid back-channel mediation between Israel and Arab countries — and a 15-year-old pedophilia conviction in Europe that has not been previously reported. But Mueller is focused on....."

They will never get to the bottom of him, and all Mueller is doing is laying the legal groundwork for an obstruction of justice charge.

"McCabe, a symbol of Trump’s FBI ire, faces possible firing" by Katie Benner and Matt Apuzzo New York Times  March 14, 2018

WASHINGTON — Former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe is ensnared in an internal review that includes an examination of his decision in 2016 to allow FBI officials to speak with reporters about an investigation into the Clinton Foundation. The Justice Department’s inspector general concluded that McCabe was not forthcoming during the review, according to the people briefed on the matter. That yet-to-be-released report triggered an FBI disciplinary process that recommended his termination.

A Clinton crony lied? 

Will wonders never cease?

Lack of candor is a fireable offense, but like so much at the FBI, McCabe’s fate is also entangled in presidential politics and the special counsel investigation. He was involved from the beginning in the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. He is also a potential witness in the inquiry into whether Trump tried to obstruct justice.

Trump’s supporters have tried to cast McCabe as part of a “deep state” that operates in secret to undermine the administration. Trump has goaded Sessions into taking action against him.

The axe-grinding, slanted and biased coverage clues you into the NYT's position on the matter.

Now, Sessions is the final arbiter of McCabe’s dismissal, shortly before his retirement takes effect Sunday. Though no decision has been made, people inside the Justice Department expect him to be fired before Friday, a decision that would jeopardize his pension as a 21-year FBI veteran.

McCabe is a career agent, not a political appointee, so Trump has no direct say in his fate. The decision nonetheless comes at a moment of turnover in Trump’s national security team. On Tuesday, the president fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and named CIA director Mike Pompeo to replace him. He tapped a veteran clandestine officer, Gina Haspel, to lead the CIA.


"Thai police filed new charges Wednesday against a billionaire construction tycoon accused of hunting endangered animals in a wildlife sanctuary, in a case that has sparked public criticism of privileges enjoyed by the country’s rich and well-connected....."

The CIA black site she ran sure went quickly out of view, 'eh?

Firing McCabe, even on the recommendation of the disciplinary office, would be controversial. Among McCabe’s allies, the decision would raise the specter that Sessions was influenced by Trump’s frequent derisive comments. No deputy director in the history of the FBI has been fired.

But Sessions would be able to point to a critical inspector general’s report and say he followed Justice Department protocol. The details of why the inspector general viewed McCabe as not forthcoming are not clear.

That's where my printed paper ended it for reasons unclear. 

Though FBI disciplinary records show that drunken driving, domestic violence, and assaults have been punished by suspension, when agents are found to have shown a lack of candor under oath, they are commonly fired.

The inspector general, Michael Horowitz, announced last year that he would investigate several contentious decisions made at the FBI and Justice Department during the 2016 presidential campaign. In November, Horowitz indicated that he planned to issue a single report this spring encompassing his entire review, on matters including the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server.

There are no indications that Horowitz is prepared to release a broad report this week. It is not clear why he opted to handle McCabe separately and refer him for discipline before the release of the full report. A spokesman for Horowitz has declined to comment.

The allegations revolve around disclosures to The Wall Street Journal, which revealed in October 2016 a dispute between the FBI and Justice Department over how to proceed in an investigation into the Clinton family’s foundation. The article said that the Justice Department would not authorize subpoenas in the case. Some FBI agents, the article said, believed that McCabe had put the brakes on the investigation. Others rejected that notion.

The inspector general has concluded that McCabe authorized FBI officials to provide information for that article. The public affairs office arranged a phone call to discuss the case, a common practice in the federal government when officials believe that a journalist has only part of the story.

Yeah, nothing untoward here. Just making sure the mouthpiece, 'er, reporter gets their side of the story.

In the Journal story, a person described as close to McCabe pushed back on the notion that he had tried to shut down the Clinton Foundation investigation. To the contrary, the person described a tense conversation with the Justice Department in which McCabe insisted his agents had the authority to keep investigating.

The article was a negative one for the Clinton campaign — not Trump. It was published just days before the election, after the FBI reopened its investigation into Clinton’s e-mail practices. The article, including the FBI disclosures, made it clear that some agents saw evidence of wrongdoing by the Clinton Foundation that was worth investigating.....

Obama's politicized Justice Department did not.


"Parents of slain Democratic staffer sue Fox News over story" Associated Press  March 14, 2018

NEW YORK — The parents of a Democratic National Committee employee who was killed in 2016 allege that Fox News exploited the slaying of their son as a ‘‘political football.’’

Joel and Mary Rich claim in a lawsuit that Fox News, a reporter, and a guest commentator used ‘‘lies, misrepresentations and half-truths’’ in a May 16, 2017, article that claimed their son, Seth Rich, had leaked DNC e-mails to WikiLeaks during the presidential campaign.

That is where they came from.

So how much were the parents paid?

The network removed the story a week after it was posted, saying it was not initially subjected to its ‘‘high degree of editorial scrutiny.’’

Rich, 27, was killed in what Washington police believe was a random robbery attempt.

The lawsuit claims Fox News reporter Malia Zimmerman and frequent network guest Ed Butowsky intentionally fabricated the story connecting Rich to WikiLeaks. The story was heavily promoted by Fox News host Sean Hannity and other conservative pundits, such as Alex Jones of Infowars, a conspiracy-promoting website.....

There you go.

At least they weren't promoting phony and nonexistent weapons of mass destruction to start a war.



"President Trump is open to short-term DACA deal, White House tells GOP leaders" by Mike DeBonis Washington Post  March 14, 2018

WASHINGTON — Any deal could come together quickly: Congress must pass a new spending bill before a March 23 deadline, and congressional negotiators are aiming to release draft legislation as soon as this week.

On Tuesday, Trump toured prototypes for the border wall that have been erected in San Diego and, in remarks there, repeated bold and unproven claims about the plan’s benefits.

Globe just shining some light on them and speaking the truth.

‘‘It will save thousands and thousands of lives, save taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars by reducing crime, drug flow, welfare fraud, and burdens on schools and hospitals,’’ he said. ‘‘The wall will save hundreds of billions of dollars — many, many times what it’s going to cost.’’

Trump’s willingness to deal comes as congressional leaders had all but given up on acting to protect Dreamers before November’s midterm elections. Democrats, who forced a three-day January government shutdown over the issue, have moved on to other fights, while Republicans have shown little urgency to find a solution.

But Trump’s desire to build the border wall could get talks moving again.....



ICE arrests at courthouses disrupt justice, lawsuits claim

Trump touts Irish ties, but jokes about country’s taxes

So much for the luck of the Irish

Backed the wrong horse.

"Senate passes rollback of post-financial crisis banking rules" by Erica Werner and Renae Merle Washington Post  March 15, 2018

WASHINGTON — Given the bipartisan support for the bill, which passed 67 votes to 31, Wednesday’s passage was expected. But for the first time since Trump became president, the divisions lurking within the Senate Democratic Caucus burst into full view, with Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sherrod Brown of Ohio leading vehement opposition to the bill, even as supporters — including Democrats up for reelection in states Trump won — supported it with equal vigor.

Tells you who is really calling the shots.

Warren and Brown argued the bill amounts to a gift to Wall Street that increases taxpayer risk while boosting the chances of another financial crisis. Supporters of the legislation — including endangered Democratic Senators Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, and Jon Tester of Montana — disputed that characterization, contending that the bill’s aim is to loosen onerous regulations on local banks and credit unions, freeing them to focus more on community lending, particularly in rural states.

How can they be "endangered" when the whole nation is going Democrat?

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, opposed the legislation but after Warren called out red-state Democrats and other supporters of the bill by name in a fund-raising appeal, Schumer encouraged her to stay focused on the substance in the debate, according to a person familiar with the exchange who requested anonymity to discuss it.....



They may not be doing much, but only business leaders can be trusted.