Friday Open Thread | Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds Week

TGIF, Everyone!

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89 Responses to Friday Open Thread | Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds Week

  1. eliihass says:

    “…Judge Andrew Napolitano may be temporarily sidelined at Fox News, but he’s been telling friends and associates that he could be in for a big promotion — to the Supreme Court.

    After meeting with President Trump twice during the transition, first in December and again in mid-January, the Newark, N.J.-born television personality told several people that Trump said he was on the list of judges from whom he was selecting a nominee for the high court.

    “He said, ‘Trump said I’m on the list,’” said a source who spoke with Napolitano shortly after one of his meetings with the then president-elect. “He’s been saying that since the transition.”

    Friends warned Napolitano not to take the president too literally – or seriously. “He’ll take your call and invite you to the Oval Office, but he just wants you to say nice things about him on TV,” the source says he told Napolitano at the time. But that didn’t sink the ambitious judge’s hopes….the salt-and-pepper-haired Napolitano, 66, who served as a New Jersey Superior Court judge until 1995 and joined Fox News in 1998, was a sleeper candidate, he told his skeptical friends. He claims he’s submitted both academic and personal resumes to Trump aides, and that they’ve pored over the judge’s writings, including several popular non-fiction books.

    Since the Gorsuch nomination, Napolitano has continued to maintain that he is in the running for a seat, telling a colleague that Trump promised him the next Supreme Court seat “if I get another one.”

    In his transition meetings with the president-elect at Trump Tower, the longtime Fox News personality said he discussed the Supreme Court vacancy. “He was interested in a broad range of ideas and attitudes about the type of person who would best fill Justice Scalia’s seat.”

    Napolitano told Fox Business’ Stuart Varney in an on-air readout of their conversation. At their second meeting, which he described as “awesome, to say the least,” Napolitano told Varney that he and the president-elect discussed “judicial attitudes, judicial temperament, ideology, and candidates for the court.”

    Napolitano is a well-known conspiracy theorist, and a vocal proponent of the view that the U.S. government is hiding something about the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “I think 20 years from now, people will look at 9/11 the way we look at the assassination of JFK today,” he told radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in 2010. “It couldn’t possibly have been done the way the government told us.”

    • eliihass says:

      “…Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano returned to the air on Wednesday morning and stood by the unsubstantiated wiretapping claims that got him in hot water with his network nearly two weeks ago.

      The former New Jersey Superior Court judge had not been on the air since March 16 as he became enmeshed in the controversy over President Trump’s still-unproven claim that his predecessor had ordered surveillance of Trump Tower.

      Napolitano returned on “America’s Newsroom” with only a passing reference to his absence made by anchor Bill Hemmer, who, after introducing him, said, “You’ve had a few quiet days.”

      Napolitano was called on to discuss a matter involving Aaron Shock, a former Illinois congressman, but briefly said that he and his sources stood by the wiretapping claims.

      A representative of Fox News said the “matter was addressed internally” and declined to comment further…”

  2. eliihass says:

    Good for Jeff Merkeley…stood his ground…brilliantly swatted down the paid agents of misleading…

  3. rikyrah says:

    Mary J. Blige
    Shares The REAL Story About Her Divorce From Kendu Isaacs – The
    Overwhelming Disrespect, Spousal Support Demands & More

    Mary J. Blige is sharing the intimate details about her uncoupling from her estranged husband Kendu Issacs.
    And she’s not holding back. She gets down to the nitty, gritty about
    the overwhelming disrespect from Kendu, his spousal demands and much
    more. Highlights from her raw interview inside…

    We’ve all been watching Mary J. Blige’s nasty divorce from her estranged husband/former manager Kendu Isaacs play out in the media. But, she’s soldiering through it like a G.

    The “No More Drama” singer stopped by Power 105 to chop it up with
    radio personality Angie Martinez to open up and share the intimate
    details of her pending divorce.

    “Unfortunately he was my everything and you can’t make a
    person your everything, because you’re giving them too much power,
    you’re giving them God’s power. And this is why thing like this happen.
    So, I just gave him way too much but I gave him all of that so he can
    feel comfortable, you know, in the company of my peers. When he comes around, he’s not just my Mary J. Blige’s husband.”

    So very true. When you make a person your everything it gives them too much power they shouldn’t have had in the first place.

    After being with her estranged husband for 16 years (and married for
    13 of those years), Mary said she realized he no longer wanted to be
    with her. He started complaining about things she wasn’t doing that she never did in the relationship and she said the disrespect had gotten to a point where it was just TOO much.

    “The overwhelming disrespect. Just disrespect, you’re too
    familiar, you’re way too familiar and you’re disrespecting me and I
    know, I can sense that I’m not what you want anymore. Because now you start throwing questions around like “ok why you don’t cook?” I haven’t been cooking. “Why you don’t wear your hair like that?” I never wore my hair like this before what’s up with you? You know, so you start to realize that this man doesn’t want you and he’s just gone all the time and you’re by yourself in the relationship. You realize you’re just by yourself in the relationship and you’re just suffering through it. Now it’s time to do some investigating.”

    • eliihass says:

      This made me very, very sad …and extremely mad on Mary’s behalf…

      May God bless her…see her through this painful and publicly humiliating and what must be draining

  4. rikyrah says:

    Obama Officials Made List of Secret Russia Probe Documents To Protect Them
    March 31, 2016

    Obama administration officials were so concerned about what would happen to key classified documents related to the Russia probe once President Trump took office that they created a list of document serial numbers to give to senior members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, a former Obama official told NBC News.

    The official said that after the list of documents related to the probe into Russian interference in the U.S. election was created in early January, he hand-carried it to the committee members. The numbers themselves were not classified, said the official.

    The purpose, said the official, was to make it “harder to bury” the information, “to share it with those on the Hill who could lawfully see the documents,” and to make sure it could reside in an Intelligence committee safe, “not just at Langley [CIA hq].”

  5. rikyrah says:

    Stop. The Mostly Republican led state bullshyt.
    Even when there is a DEMOCRATIC Governor, the GOP state Houses block them. There is not one DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR that hasn’t tried to expand Medicaid.


    No Obamacare cease-fire in red states
    After the collapse of the GOP’s repeal bill, most states refusing Medicaid expansion won’t give up the fight.
    03/31/17 05:13 AM EDT

    The epic collapse of the Obamacare repeal bill created an odd opportunity for 19 states that have long shunned Medicaid expansion.

    Billions in Obamacare cash remain on the table. And for the first time, that cash comes with a Trump administration promise to give states unprecedented flexibility to remake the program with a conservative slant — for instance, by imposing work requirements or requiring more recipients to pay premiums.

    Yet with few exceptions, most of the holdout states are walking away from the money and what they regard as a broken entitlement program. Some even want to shrink the program they have.


    For years, these 19 holdout states have walked away from piles of federal cash to expand the program — even after two Supreme Court rulings and the reelection of Barack Obama in 2012 further entrenched the Affordable Care Act. These mostly Republican-led states argued that expanding the program would bust their budgets and make it harder to dismantle the health care law once Republicans gained full control in Washington.

  6. rikyrah says:

    Student Loan Forgiveness Program Approval Letters May Be Invalid, Education Dept. Says

    March 30, 2017

    More than 550,000 people have signed up for a federal program that promises to repay their remaining student loans after they work 10 years in a public service job.

    But now, some of those workers are left to wonder if the government will hold up its end of the bargain — or leave them stuck with thousands of dollars in debt that they thought would be eliminated.

    In a legal filing submitted last week, the Education Department suggested that borrowers could not rely on the program’s administrator to say accurately whether they qualify for debt forgiveness. The thousands of approval letters that have been sent by the administrator, FedLoan Servicing, are not binding and can be rescinded at any time, the agency said.

    The filing adds to questions and concerns about the program just as the first potential beneficiaries reach the end of their 10-year commitment — and the clocks start ticking on the remainder of their debts.

    Four borrowers and the American Bar Association have filed a suit in United States District Court in Washington against the department.

  7. rikyrah says:

    But….it was supposed to be JUST CRIMINALS….remember?

    ICE Arrests Green Card Applicants In Lawrence, Signaling Shift In Priorities
    March 30, 2017

    Federal immigration officers arrested five people in Lawrence on Wednesday when they showed up for scheduled appointments at a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office.

    WBUR has confirmed that at least three of those arrested were beginning the process to become legal permanent residents. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says the agency had orders to detain each of the five individuals for deportation.

    ‘They’re In A Sort Of Catch-22’

    Brian Doyle, the attorney for one of the three people who were seeking green cards before they were arrested, says he knew there was a chance his client would be taken into custody at the appointment.

    His client, a Brazilian national who had been ordered deported before she married a U.S. citizen, understood the risks as well, but ultimately decided that she wanted to keep the appointment and begin the green card process.

    This, Doyle says, is an example of the difficult situation for many immigrants living in the country illegally, who are forced to weigh the costs and benefits of keeping an appointment with an immigration official in light of new deportation priorities set by President Trump.

    “Now, they’re in a sort of catch-22 where, ‘All right, I’m being called in for this interview. I want to have this first step approved.’ If they don’t show up, it’s what’s called abandoned … USCIS just sort of assumes that they don’t want to go forward with it,” Doyle said. “But now, if they do show up, trying to take that first step and they’re detained, it can lead to them being removed.”

    Because Doyle’s client is married to a U.S. citizen, she is eligible for a specific application process sponsored by her husband. Both Doyle’s client and her husband were present at the USCIS office for what’s called a marriage petition interview, a process used to screen for fraudulent marriages. Doyle said his client, a small business owner with no criminal record, had just completed her 40-minute question and answer session when an ICE agent entered the office and informed her that she was ordered removed and was being taken into custody.

  8. rikyrah says:

    DeVos: Picking schools should be like picking Uber, Lyft, or taxis
    03/31/17 04:47 PM—UPDATED 03/31/17 04:49 PM
    By Steve Benen
    Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ outspoken support for privatizing public schools out of existence isn’t exactly new, but the Republican cabinet secretary shared an analogy this week that stood out as notable.

    DeVos spoke at the Brookings Institution in support of so-called “school choice,” a conservative euphemism for school vouchers, though her timing could’ve been better. The New York Times reported just last month, “[E]ven as school choice is poised to go national, a wave of new research has emerged suggesting that private school vouchers may harm students who receive them. The results are startling – the worst in the history of the field, researchers say…. It’s rare to see efforts to improve test scores having the opposite result.”

    Nevertheless, DeVos remains committed to her privatization crusade, and made the following pitch:

    “How many of you got here today in an Uber, or Lyft, or another ridesharing service? Did you choose that because it was more convenient than hoping a taxi would drive by? … Just as the traditional taxi system revolted against ridesharing, so too does the education establishment feel threatened by the rise of school choice. In both cases, the entrenched status quo has resisted models that empower individuals.

    “Nobody mandates that you take an Uber over a taxi, nor should they. But if you think ridesharing is the best option for you, the government shouldn’t get in your way.

    “The truth is that in practice, people like having more options. They like being able to choose between Uber Pool, Uber X, Lyft Line, Lyft Plus, and many others. Or when it comes to taking a family trip, many like options such as Airbnb.

    “We celebrate the benefits of choices in transportation and lodging. But doesn’t that pale in comparison to the importance of educating the future of our country? Why do we not allow parents to exercise that same right to choice [sic] in the education of their child?”


    The idea that families don’t have educational choices is, by and large, plainly wrong. Nationwide, parents can send their child or children to a public school, for a free quality education. In much of the country, if parents prefer, they can also choose between private, parochial, or charter schools. If none of those are appealing, many families home-school their kids.

    But wait, DeVos would probably say, those varied options may exist in theory, but in practice, many Americans can’t afford private education. That’s true. It’s also where her ridesharing analogy starts to break down.

    For many low-income Americans who can’t afford a car, “choices in transportation” don’t really exist. Those folks can walk, bike, or take a bus. Taxis and ridesharing may sound nice, but for those who struggle economically, they’re not a realistic “choice.”

    DeVos, as best as I can tell, isn’t recommending taxpayer-funded vouchers to help those Americans subsidize their taxi and/or ridesharing choices, motivated by some kind of hostility towards municipal bus networks. She simply assumes that people with more resources will have greater transportation options than people with fewer resources – just as the wealthy have more choices in housing, health care, nutrition, technology, clothing, recreation, and many other aspects of modern American life.

    If the Education Secretary were calling for governments to invest taxpayer money into taxis and ridesharing, so that those who rely on buses and bikes can take better advantage of their “choices in transportation,” we’d be having a different kind of conversation. But DeVos, like many on the right, wants to give low-income Americans taxpayer money to choose privatized education – and just privatized education.

  9. rikyrah says:

    Anatomy of a Cover-Up
    by Nancy LeTourneau March 31, 2017 3:48 PM

    Yesterday I mentioned that, as we get additional pieces of the puzzle related to the Trump campaign and administration, it is important to place them into the bigger picture. Yesterday brought a couple of important items that would be helpful to put in context. So here is a timeline of what might be called “an attempted cover-up.”


    In addition to the timeline, it is important to note the connections between the players involved.

    As I mentioned previously, Sessions and Flynn both served on Trump’s National Security Advisory Council during the campaign,
    Back in November, the NYT noted that Rep. Devin Nunes was a “close confidant” to Michael Flynn.
    Cohen-Watnick was brought to the White House by Michael Flynn.
    Michael Ellis worked for Rep. Nunes on the House Intelligence Committee as its general counsel prior to taking a job at the White House.
    All of that leads me to a very important question raised by Barton Gellman.

    …why would a White House lawyer and the top White House intelligence adviser be requesting copies of these surveillance reports in the first place?…There is no chance that the FBI would brief them about the substance or progress of its investigation into the Trump campaign’s connections to the Russian government. Were the president’s men using the surveillance assets of the U.S. government to track the FBI investigation from the outside?

    Stay tuned. If the answer to that turns out to be “yes,” we’ve reached that point in the investigation where the old Watergate adage applies, “It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.”

  10. rikyrah says:

    Michael Flynn’s Problems are Donald Trump’s Problems
    by Martin Longman March 31, 2017 1:04 PM

    Nancy is correct to emphasize that it’s quite possible, likely even, that many folks are drawing the wrong conclusions from the fact that Michael Flynn is seeking immunity before he’s willing to talk again to the FBI or testify before Congress. All it definitely means is that there’s a high probability that Flynn will invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Whether he has something worthy of a trade for immunity is a separate matter. In other words, some folks are willing to say that they’re eager to talk to Congress, and others are warning that they’ll clam up real tight if called or subpoenaed to testify. Flynn is in the latter camp, and for obvious reasons.

    If he was ever in any doubt about it, he now knows with a certainty that he’s been the subject of a multiagency counterintelligence investigation since at least July of last year. He’s seen the allegations made against him in the Steele dossier. If those things weren’t terrifying enough, he apparently was “less then forthcoming” with the FBI when they questioned him about the content of his communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. It’s also increasingly clear that even if the Intelligence Community and, in particular, the CIA didn’t see him as potential turncoat and Putin-controlled mole, he attempted to make war on them and lost.

    His legal vulnerabilities are therefore huge and his enemies determined, which makes it less than helpful that he’s been caught dead to rights failing to report payments from the Russian government for his travel to Moscow to meet with and fête Vladimir Putin, nor to divulge that he was taking money from Turkey and was therefore serving as an agent of a foreign power. One might imagine that he’s committed perjury by paperwork on these issues as he got himself cleared to work as Trump’s National Security Adviser.

    And then there’s the possibility that he could actually be prosecuted for conspiracy to commit kidnapping, which he had the lack of foresight to engage in in the presence of a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

  11. rikyrah says:

    If the White House spied on the FBI, there’s a problem
    03/31/17 01:12 PM
    By Steve Benen

    The latest available information sheds quite a bit of light who leaked sensitive information to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as part of his effort to bolster one of Donald Trump’s conspiracy theories. Yesterday we learned the names of three of the Republican congressman’s sources, each of whom are senior White House officials, including the National Security Council’s top lawyer.

    One of the questions hanging over this is why, exactly, these White House officials were reviewing these intelligence materials in the first place.


    But why were the White House officials reviewing the surveillance in the first place? Rachel noted on the show last night that Barton Gellman, a longtime investigative reporter covering national security, wrote a piece for the Century Foundation raising the possibility that the Trump White House was effectively spying on the FBI during the bureau’s counter-intelligence investigation.

    [W]hy would a White House lawyer and the top White House intelligence adviser be requesting copies of these surveillance reports in the first place? Why would they go on to ask that the names be unmasked? There is no chance that the FBI would brief them about the substance or progress of its investigation into the Trump campaign’s connections to the Russian government. Were the president’s men using the surveillance assets of the U.S. government to track the FBI investigation from the outside?

  12. rikyrah says:

    Trump keeps expanding his son-in-law’s policy portfolio
    03/31/17 11:20 AM—UPDATED 03/31/17 11:41 AM
    By Steve Benen

    Donald Trump relied on his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as a close confidant during last year’s campaign, so no one was especially surprised when the 36-year-old lawyer, with a background running his father’s real estate business, was brought into the White House. But I don’t think anyone fully appreciated just how much Jared Kushner would do at the White House.

    We learned this week that the president’s son-in-law has been tasked with leading the White House Office of American Innovation, which apparently puts Kushner in a position to lead “a SWAT team of strategic consultants.” The idea, evidently, is for Kushner to “overhaul the federal bureaucracy, make the government run like a business, and answer only to Trump.

    BuzzFeed reported soon after that president’s son-in-law’s policy portfolio just got a little bigger.
    Jared Kushner, son-in-law and senior adviser to President Donald Trump, has been dispatched by the White House to discuss criminal justice reform issues with key senators, BuzzFeed News has learned. Kushner met with Sens. Chuck Grassley and Dick Durbin on Capitol Hill Thursday.

    Kushner was spotted entering Grassley’s office on Thursday morning. An aide familiar with the meeting confirmed that Kushner is speaking with the senators about the reform legislation, which stalled last Congress despite early optimism that it could pass.

  13. rikyrah says:

    If the new ad from the Congressional Leadership Fund in Georgia’s upcoming special election is any indication of their internal polling, Republicans are starting to panic a bit about Jon Ossoff’s (D) chances. The first round of voting is on April 18. The runoff, which will likely be necessary, will be June 20.

  14. rikyrah says:

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s isolation is a problem
    03/31/17 10:50 AM
    By Steve Benen
    All is not well with the State Department. With Donald Trump in the White House, the agency has been marginalized and ignored in ways without modern precedent. The president seems a little too eager to slash the State Department’s budget – a move that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson inexplicably embraced, further demoralizing the department.

    Let’s put it this way: when U.S. military leaders are more concerned about the State Department’s budget than the Secretary of State, there’s a problem.

    The Atlantic recently spoke to one unnamed State Department officer who said, in reference to White House officials, “They really want to blow this place up…. I don’t think this administration thinks the State Department needs to exist.”

    It’s against this backdrop that the Washington Post reports today on Tillerson’s increasing isolation.

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson takes a private elevator to his palatial office on the seventh floor of the State Department building, where sightings of him are rare on the floors below.

    On many days, he blocks out several hours on his schedule as “reading time,” when he is cloistered in his office poring over the memos he prefers ahead of in-person meetings.

    Most of his interactions are with an insular circle of political aides who are new to the State Department. Many career diplomats say they still have not met him, and some have been instructed not to speak to him directly – or even make eye contact.

    That’s literally unbelievable. It’s one thing for aides to an eccentric movie star to avoid eye contact with their spoiled boss, but the idea that career diplomats have been told not to make eye contact with the Secretary of State sounds absurd.

    • eliihass says:

      Saw him earlier on BBC with NATO officials, and not only is he way over his head, the guy looks seriously out of it … and is on track for some serious medical emergency..

    • Ametia says:

      YES! Until these folks can get a grip and understand that life is NOT all about being WHITE, they will continue to believe that being white is all it takes to get what they want in life, without having to work, sweat, and learn for it.

      There are folks of all stripes who come on hard times, who are on disability, who’ve lost their jobs, yet they don’t get all these fucking write-ups on whoa look at me, I’m having a hard time! What do they get? “lazy, welfare queens, on the government dole” BULLSHIT slogans.

      So yes, it’s white socialism.

    • rikyrah says:

      Lips pursed.

      Uh huh
      Uh huh


      Disabled, or just desperate?
      Rural Americans turn to disability as jobs dry up


      The lobby at the pain-management clinic had become crowded with patients, so relatives had gone outside to their trucks to wait, and here, too, sat Desmond Spencer, smoking a 9 a.m. cigarette and watching the door. He tried stretching out his right leg, knowing these waits can take hours, and winced. He couldn’t sit easily for long, not anymore, and so he took a sip of soda and again thought about what he should do.

      He hadn’t had a full-time job in a year. He was skipping meals to save money. He wore jeans torn open in the front and back. His body didn’t work like it once had. He limped in the days, and in the nights, his hands would swell and go numb, a reminder of years spent hammering nails. His right shoulder felt like it was starting to go, too.

      But did all of this pain mean he was disabled? Or was he just desperate?

      He wouldn’t even turn 40 for a few more months.

      An hour passed, and his cellphone rang. He picked it up, said hello and hung up — another debt collector. He rubbed his right knee. Maybe it would get better. Maybe he would still find a job.

      His mother had written a number the night before and told him to call it, and he had told her he’d think about it. She wanted him to apply for disability, like she had, like his girlfriend had, and like his stepfather, whom he now saw shuffling out of the pain clinic, hunched over his walker, reaching for a hand-rolled cigarette. Spencer got out of the truck. He lit his own.

      “Remember we were talking about it last night?” he asked Gene Ruby. “Remember we were talking about signing up?”

      “Yeah,” said Ruby, 64.

      “Remember Mama said there was a number you got to call?”

      “She’s got the number,” Ruby said. “The Social Security number.”

      Spencer kept asking questions. What would Social Security want to know? How often are people denied? But he didn’t mention the one that had been bothering him the most lately: Was he a failure?


      The decision that burdened Desmond Spencer was one that millions of Americans have faced over the past two decades as the number of people on disability has surged. Between 1996 and 2015, the number of working-age adults receiving disability climbed from 7.7 million to 13 million. The federal government this year will spend an estimated $192 billion on disability payments, more than the combined total for food stamps, welfare, housing subsidies and unemployment assistance.

      The rise in disability has emerged as yet another indicator of a widening political, cultural and economic chasm between urban and rural America.

      Across large swaths of the country, disability has become a force that has reshaped scores of mostly white, almost exclusively rural communities, where as many as one-third of working-age adults live on monthly disability checks, according to a Washington Post analysis of Social Security Administration statistics.

      Rural America experienced the most rapid increase in disability rates over the past decade, the analysis found, amid broad growth in disability that was partly driven by demographic changes that are now slowing as disabled baby-boomers age into retirement.

    • Liza says:

      I watched that Chris Hayes / Bernie Sanders town hall in McDowell County, West Virginia, a few weeks ago. It was interesting, and for the most part they covered the usual issues. The coal mining jobs gone, the dependency on Medicaid, etc…

      However, there was one thing that came up that was quite illuminating. A prison was built in or near McDowell County with the intention of providing employment for this depressed area. I don’t know if the prison was federal or state or who came up with the idea that this is a good way to put people back to work.

      Then, as it turns out, workers have to be bused in from other places to work at the prison because not enough locals can pass the drug test required for employment.

      • eliihass says:

        Watched it too, and was especially saddened that the prison industrial complex is so enthusiastically embraced and considered a valuable and desperately needed job resource and a life-saving employer by these completely clueless, poor and especially ignorant and vulnerable people…

        It’s a glaring symbol of oppression for the people of color it targets, and these folks get and enthusiastically embrace that…they don’t see how it also exploits and targets them..

      • Liza says:

        I think it is mostly the state legislatures and perhaps lower level government agencies who think that new prisons are the Marshall Plan for these depressed rural areas. It satisfies their constituents in the better heeled urban areas because they don’t want the prisons in their backyards. But the locals don’t seem to want these jobs badly enough to give up their pain killers or their meth.

  15. rikyrah says:

    Chaffetz explains his indifference towards Trump’s alleged corruption
    03/31/17 10:09 AM—UPDATED 03/31/17 10:28 AM
    By Steve Benen

    In late December, CNBC’s Larry Kudlow, an advisor to Donald Trump’s team for months, wrote a piece celebrating the Republican’s presidential transition, and touting the wealthy people who would serve in top administration posts.

    “Why shouldn’t the president surround himself with successful people?” Kudlow wrote. “Wealthy folks have no need to steal or engage in corruption.”

    It’s a curious argument: wealthy people don’t bother lining their pockets, because their pockets are already full.

    Oddly enough, House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) made effectively the identical argument to The Atlantic’s McKay Coppins, explaining his indifference towards allegations of Trump corruption.

    On a recent afternoon in his Capitol Hill office, I read through a litany of headlines detailing potential entanglements between President Trump’s business and his administration with the congressman. As he listened, Chaffetz leaned back in his chair – jacket off, an ankle resting casually on one knee…. I asked Chaffetz if he was concerned about Trump reaping financial rewards from his presidency, but he just shrugged.

    “He’s already rich,” Chaffetz said. “He’s very rich. I don’t think that he ran for this office to line his pockets even more. I just don’t see it like that.”

    Asked specifically about reports that the president’s son-in-law was exploring a lucrative deal with a Chinese company while advising the president on foreign policy, Chaffetz suggested the story was irrelevant. “I don’t see how that affects the average American and their taxpayer dollars,” the Utah Republican said.

    In other words, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, with direct responsibility for establishing checks on possible White House excesses, effectively declared that Team Trump corruption is improbable, and possibly even impossible.

    This is, to a very real extent, bonkers. The idea that wealthy people don’t commit crimes to acquire more wealth is plainly at odds with millennia of human history.

  16. rikyrah says:

    Jennifer Bendery‏Verified account
    @ jbendery
    Huh. Sens. Duckworth and Cortez Masto both say Gorsuch refused to meet with them.

  17. rikyrah says:

    Re Jared Kushner.

    — Bruce Bartlett (@BruceBartlett) March 30, 2017

    • eliihass says:

      “…Kushner’s claim to business knowledge, beyond admiring Silicon Valley, boils down to his work for his family’s commercial real estate company, which is hardly comparable to a government institution. And if industry dynamics are not transitive across the board, expertise isn’t, either.

      On that count, I don’t even know how to quantify Kushner’s expertise, anyway. Yes, he ran the company — which he inherited, not uncommon in New York’s dynastic, insular real estate world. But he was sure he had the goods. When I worked for him, I didn’t think he had a realistic view of his own capabilities since, like his father-in-law, he seemed to view his wealth and its concomitant accoutrements as rewards for his personal success in business, and not something he would have had in any case. To me, he appeared to view his position and net worth as the products of an essentially meritocratic process…”


  18. rikyrah says:

    We’re gonna feel pretty silly when Jared Kushner achieves Middle East peace, solves the opioid crisis, and makes government super efficient.

    — Neil Irwin (@Neil_Irwin) March 30, 2017

    • rikyrah says:

      they might want to be slick, SG2. But, this isn’t the first rodeo for those who can grant immunity.

    • rikyrah says:

      Also, the Russia stuff, while obvious to us, isn’t the greatest threat of jailtime for Flynn. The Turkey stuff is. He’s trying to get out of that.

    • Liza says:

      Well, prosecutors agree to immunity for a lesser criminal who can deliver the bigger ones. People are not granted immunity because it makes them more comfortable testifying as some “conservatives” are saying in defense of Flynn. All we can conclude right now is that 1.) Flynn has information and 2.) Flynn is preemptively trying to keep his ass out of jail.

      It remains to be seen if Flynn’s information is worth immunity.

  19. rikyrah says:

    Immunity in presidential scandals has complicated history
    Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian, talks with Rachel Maddow about the historical precedent for immunity granted in a presidential scandal

  20. rikyrah says:

    Trump actions boosted Russian effectiveness
    Rachel Maddow shares video of testimony by Clinton Watts, former FBI special agent, at today’s Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in which Watts explains how Russian fake news operations were made more effective because Donald Trump cited those stories.

  21. rikyrah says:

    Trump scandals risk inuring Americans to government corruption
    Rachel Maddow reviews a list of less reported but no less outrageous current Trump administration scandals and notes that beyond the big Trump Russia scandal, Americans have to retain their ability to be shocked by corruption

  22. rikyrah says:

    White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer says the darndest things
    03/31/17 09:20 AM
    By Steve Benen
    Earlier this week, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer twice seemed to describe the Republican health care plan, which his boss supported, as “a bad deal” the president decided to walk away from. Given Donald Trump’s work on the legislation, reporters were puzzled to hear the president’s spokesperson describe the GOP proposal this way.

    A day later, Spicer insisted he “never said” the legislation was a “bad deal.” He encouraged everyone to “check the transcript.” So I did check the transcript, and he really did suggest the bill was a “bad deal” – twice.

    I can appreciate the fact that “Sean Spicer says strange things that don’t appear to be true” isn’t exactly breaking news – the Republican’s reputation has struggled in recent months for a reason – but this has been an especially unflattering week for the press secretary, and the week’s not quite finished.

    The day after the “bad deal” flap, for example, Spicer said in reference to the Russia scandal, “[E]very single person who has been briefed on this, as I’ve said ad nauseam from this podium, that they have been very clear that there is no connection between the president or the staff here and anyone doing anything with Russia.” That’s obviously not true: the matter is still the subject of an ongoing FBI counter-intelligence investigation, which hasn’t drawn that conclusion, at least not yet.

  23. rikyrah says:

    Devin Nunes has some explaining to do
    03/31/17 08:44 AM—UPDATED 03/31/17 08:54 AM
    By Steve Benen
    New evidence emerged yesterday that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), when he tried to lend credence to a Donald Trump conspiracy theory, relied on dubious information he received from two White House sources. As Rachel noted on the show, the Washington Post reported last night that there was also a third.

    At least three senior White House officials, including the top lawyer for the National Security Council, were involved in the handling of intelligence files that were shared with the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and showed that Trump campaign officials were swept up in U.S. surveillance of foreign nationals, according to U.S. officials.

    The White House role in the matter contradicts assertions by the committee’s chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), and adds to mounting concerns that the Trump administration is collaborating with the leader of the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

    The New York Times identified two of Nunes’ sources: Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council, and Michael Ellis, a lawyer who works on national security issues at the White House Counsel’s Office. The Post pointed to a third: John Eisenberg, the top lawyer for the National Security Council.

  24. rikyrah says:

    As more emerges re @realDonaldTrump’s theft of the presidency it gets clearer that we mustn’t keep calling him POTUS. He’s a usurper.

    — Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) March 31, 2017

    • eliihass says:

      It grates whenever I hear the buffoon addressed with that title…and especially as the entire media and other folks have suddenly remembered to never speak of him without reverentially applying the unearned title…

  25. rikyrah says:

    This child was patted down by a TSA agent for 2 minutes. Don’t think that’s a long time? Watch until the end.

    — Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) March 29, 2017

  26. rikyrah says:

    Can you imagine the outcry if Hillary Clinton had insisted that diplomats at State not make eye contact with her?

    — Annie Lowrey (@AnnieLowrey) March 31, 2017

  27. rikyrah says:

    Why California’s New Infrastructure Plan is a Big Deal

    Spandan Chakrabarti
    March 30, 2017
    California is not waiting around for Donald Trump’s promise of a yuuuuge federal infrastructure injection to become reality. Governor Brown and the leaders of our state legislature joined a coalition of business, labor and local government groups yesterday to announce a $52 billion transportation infrastructure investment, funded with California’s clean energy future in mind.

    While there are already the usual suspects making noise in the state about “new taxes”, the plan will cost the average California driver $10 a month and save the average vehicle $700 a year in damage and maintenance when all is said and done. In addition to modernizing and repairing our roads, highways and bridges and focusing on high traffic corridors, the plan invests an additional $7.5 billion in public transit, and a billion dollars to improve road conditions conducive to walking and biking (*cough* yours truly *cough*).

    In all, it raises California’s gasoline excise tax by 12 cents per gallon. But before you pass out at the prospect of slightly more expensive gasoline, consider that the excise tax in our state is adjusted yearly by the Board of equalization, and right now, the excise tax is just about 12 cents below what we paid two years ago. The plan would also increase the vehicle registration fee, essentially extending a progressive tax: the higher the price of your vehicle, the more your increase in fee is. $100 a year flat is collected from owners of electric vehicles to pay for road repairs.

    In just the context of the state, the infrastructure plan would, at once, discourage the purchase of expensive gas guzzlers, encourage less driving and more transit and biking, and invite more economic development with a world class road infrastructure being added to our unbelievably diverse pool of talent.

  28. rikyrah says:

    The Return of McCarthyism
    This time the intelligence community is the target.

    by James Bruno March 31, 2017

    When I was in college and, later, as a young diplomat, I’d meet State Department old timers who related horrifying tales of the communist witch-hunt era of the 1950s, when Joseph McCarthy, an amoral and alcohol-sodden senator, rode a wave of nationwide anti-communist hysteria to root out mythical “traitors” inside the federal government. Prized on his hit list were career diplomats. As a compliant Congress stood by, the best of the State Department’s China hands were purged for allegedly having “lost China” to Mao Zedong’s communist forces. Their careers were destroyed, leaving a huge talent gap as well as a years-long fear among diplomats to stick their necks out.

    Their real crime? Speaking truth to power in their honest reporting from the field. It took many years for the department to recover.

    I fear our intelligence agencies may become the next targets of a political witch-hunt, stoked by another amoral politician: President Donald Trump. The attacks by Trump and his surrogates against the intelligence community (IC) have been frequent and harsh, echoing the baseless tirades during the McCarthy era.

    “The real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by ‘intelligence’ like candy. Very un-American!” tweeted the president following Gen. Michael Flynn’s dismissal as national security advisor. The term “un-American” suffused Joe McCarthy’s verbal attacks against his targets in the ‘50s. Perhaps no other politician today so closely channels McCarthy as Congressman Steve King, the firebrand Trump loyalist who has urged the president to “purge Leftists from the executive branch before disloyal, illegal and treasonist [sic] acts sink us.” He added, “People [in the IC] need to be rooted out.”

  29. rikyrah says:

    The GOP Chasm Deepens
    by Nancy LeTourneau
    March 31, 2017 8:00 AM

    I guess I should have waited a couple of days to write about the chasm that is growing within the ranks of Republicans, because lately things are on the brink of open warfare. It seems that no one in the GOP is quite ready to put the fiasco of their failure to repeal Obamacare aside.

    Jonathan Swan provides a quote from a White House source:

    This was never about policy. This was about people wanting to oppose each other and it’s such a divided conference at the moment it’s hard to get things done. We were the ones caught in the crossfire.


    There had been talk of a meeting between the House Freedom Caucus, their allies in the Republican Study Committee, and moderates who are members of something called the Tuesday Group to discuss how to move forward on health care. That isn’t going to happen.

    The centrist Tuesday Group affirmed at a meeting Wednesday that it will not meet with the conservative House Freedom Caucus to negotiate changes to an ObamaCare replacement bill, according to Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.)…

    “I think the Freedom Caucus is simply trying to shift the blame for this bill going down to someone else, and the thought that they could say, ‘Oh, we’re willing to meet and negotiate with the Tuesday Group,’ is absurd on its face,” Collins said.

  30. rikyrah says:

    Why Did Russia Hack the Voter Rolls?
    by Nancy LeTourneau
    March 30, 2017 5:42 PM

    You might remember that early on when the story of Russian hacking initially broke, a big concern of the Obama administration was that they were caught hacking voter rolls. The concern was that they would try to tamper with the tallies. But according to the intelligence community, that didn’t happen.

    So why did they do it in the first place? Paul Wood might have come up with the answer.

    “This is a three-headed operation,” said one former official, setting out the case, based on the intelligence: Firstly, hackers steal damaging emails from senior Democrats. Secondly, the stories based on this hacked information appear on Twitter and Facebook, posted by thousands of automated “bots”, then on Russia’s English-language outlets, RT and Sputnik, then right-wing US “news” sites such as Infowars and Breitbart, then Fox and the mainstream media. Thirdly, Russia downloads the online voter rolls.

    The voter rolls are said to fit into this because of “microtargeting”. Using email, Facebook and Twitter, political advertising can be tailored very precisely: individual messaging for individual voters.

    “You are stealing the stuff and pushing it back into the US body politic,” said the former official, “you know where to target that stuff when you’re pushing it back.”

    This would take co-operation with the Trump campaign, it is claimed.

  31. rikyrah says:

    How Trump’s Decision to Overrule His Appointees Is Blowing up in His Face
    by Martin Longman March 30, 2017 4:06 PM

    Well, stab me in the eye with a fork, imagine what I thought when I learned that Ezra Cohen-Watnick was one of the sources that House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes surreptitiously met with at the White House. I knew I remembered the name, and I only had to travel a little more than two weeks into the Wayback Machine to refresh my recollection.

    President Donald Trump has overruled a decision by his national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, to sideline a key intelligence operative who fell out of favor with some at the Central Intelligence Agency, two sources told POLITICO.

    On Friday, McMaster told the National Security Council’s senior director for intelligence programs, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, that he would be moved to another position in the organization.

    The conversation followed weeks of pressure from career officials at the CIA who had expressed reservations about the 30-year-old intelligence operative and pushed for his ouster.

    But Cohen-Watnick appealed McMaster’s decision to two influential allies with whom he had forged a relationship while working on Trump’s transition team — White House advisers Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner. They brought the matter to Trump on Sunday, and the president agreed that Cohen-Watnick should remain as the NSC’s intelligence director, according to two people with knowledge of the episode.

    The career professionals at the Central Intelligence Agency seem to have a lot of reservations about Team Trump, and now we can begin to see some of the reasons why. It’s also no coincidence that Devin Nunes shows up in that article about Cohen-Watnick. He’s there to bolster the case that the CIA only went after Michael Flynn and his allies, Robin Townley and Cohen-Watnick, to protect their own turf, rather than because Flynn has been the subject of a counterintelligence investigation since last July.

    And, I mean, look, this isn’t just long-time intelligence officers who are grumpy about being criticized. The Washington Post reported that McMaster decided to remove Cohen-Watnick at the request of Trump’s hand-picked CIA director:

  32. rikyrah says:

    Make it 3 White House officials involved in Nunes intel escapade. Almost certainly more to come.

    — Greg Miller (@gregpmiller) March 31, 2017

  33. rikyrah says:

    Trump threatens hard-liners as part of escalating Republican civil war
    By John Wagner, Mike DeBonis and Robert Costa
    March 30 at 7:10 PM

    President Trump threatened Thursday to try to knock off members of the House Freedom Caucus in next year’s elections if they don’t fall in line — an extraordinary move that laid bare an escalating civil war within a Republican Party struggling to enact an ambitious agenda.

    In a series of tweets that began in the morning, the president warned that the powerful group of hard-line conservatives who helped block the party’s health-care bill last week would “hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast.”

    The president vowed to “fight them” as well as Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections, a warning that his allies said was intended in the short term to make members of the Freedom Caucus think twice about crossing him again. But Trump’s pledge was met with defiance by many in the bloc, including some members who accused him of succumbing to the establishment in Washington that he had campaigned against.

    Later in the day, Trump singled out three of the group’s members in another tweet, saying that if Reps. Mark Meadows (N.C.), Jim Jordan (Ohio) and Raúl R. Labrador (Idaho) got on board, “we would have both great healthcare and massive tax cuts & reform.”

    Most of the roughly three dozen Freedom Caucus members were elected from safe Republican districts, and many of them faced no primary opposition. To make good on his threat, Trump would have to recruit GOP candidates to make the case that the Republican incumbent they face was unhelpful to an un­or­tho­dox, populist president.

  34. rikyrah says:

    Babyface has barely aged. Loved this week’s music 😍😍😍

  35. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone 😄😄😄

  36. Man did my mama love her some babyface he was that clean up the house music lol

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