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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Former Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Georgia) has joined a growing far-right smear campaign against the students who survived last week's massacre in a Parkland, Florida high school. Since the shooting, which killed 17 people, the students have become outspoken advocates for gun control to prevent future acts of violence. Kingston attacked the students as mere stooges for "left-wing groups who have an agenda" during an appearance on CNN Tuesday morning. Kingston added he believed George Soros was actually orchestrating the students' activism. Kingston's claims were met with disbelief by Alisyn Camerota. "Jack, I'm sorry. I have to correct you. I was down there. I talked to these kids. These kids were wildly motivated," Camerota said. Kingston's comments follow multiple articles smearing the students on Gateway Pundit, a Trump-supporting website that has White House press credentials. read more

Monday, February 19, 2018

Steve Benen: Just a day after the special counsel leading the investigation indicted 13 Russians and three Russian organizations, the White House deputy press secretary said it's the media and Democrats who have "created chaos more than the Russians" for their coverage of the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. "There are two groups that have created chaos more than the Russians, and that's the Democrats and the mainstream media," said Hogan Gidley in a Saturday Fox & Friends interview. So, on Friday, the Justice Department brought criminal charges against Russian operatives who attacked our democracy. And on Saturday, Trump's deputy press secretary effectively defended the Russians, saying it's Democrats and American journalists who are actually responsible for creating "chaos." Not surprisingly a Russian propaganda network seized on Gidley's on-air comments and promoted them to Russia Today's audience. read more

Where does Donald Trump rank on the list of American presidents? We surveyed presidential politics experts to sketch out a first draft of Trump's place in presidential history. Since our previous survey in 2014, some presidential legacies have soared (Barack Obama's stock has climbed into the Top 10), while others have fallen (Andrew Jackson toppled to 15, out of the Top 10). And President Trump? Let's say that, according to the 170 members of the American Political Science Association's Presidents and Executive Politics section who filled out our survey, he has at least three years to improve on an ignominious debut. James Buchanan, who was at the helm as the United States careened into civil war, was dislodged from his position as our nation's worst president by our current president, Trump. His Oval Office predecessor, Barack Obama, shot into the Top 10, up from 18th in the previous survey. read more

Special counsel Robert Mueller's office has told a federal judge it has found evidence that Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, committed bank fraud not addressed by the indictment last October in which he was charged with money laundering and failure to register as a foreign agent. As legal wrangling continues over a $10 million bail package for Manafort, prosecutors this week accused him of submitting false information to a bank in connection with one of his mortgages. "The proposed package is deficient in the government's view, in light of additional criminal conduct that we have learned since the Court's initial bail determination," prosecutors wrote in a court filing submitted on Tuesday and made public in a redacted form on Friday evening. "That criminal conduct includes a series of bank frauds and bank fraud conspiracies." read more

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Bags of cash delivered to a Rome hotel for favored Italian candidates. Scandalous stories leaked to foreign newspapers to swing an election in Nicaragua. Millions of pamphlets, posters and stickers printed to defeat an incumbent in Serbia. The long arm of Vladimir Putin? No, just a small sample of the United States' history of intervention in foreign elections. On Tuesday, American intelligence chiefs warned the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia appears to be preparing to repeat in the 2018 midterm elections the same full-on chicanery it unleashed in 2016: hacking, leaking, social media manipulation and possibly more. Most Americans are understandably shocked by what they view as an unprecedented attack on our political system. But "if you ask an intelligence officer, did the Russians break the rules or do something bizarre, the answer is no, not at all," said Steven L. Hall, who retired in 2015 after 30 years at the C.I.A.. read more


Motor vehicles are created to get people from place to place over streets and roads. Because of their speed, they can also become projectiles in motion and create physical and bodily damage up to and including loss of life. Each state/nation mandates that all drivers be licensed as proficient in the requisite skills to safely operate vehicles and carry insurance. Information on vehicular statistics are kept and compiled by the National Highway Safety Administration whose goal is to use the data to keep people safe on our roads.

Personally available firearms are created to shoot projectiles at physical targets and have the capability upon impact to deform, damage and sometimes destroy whatever they hit and can be particularly damaging to the human body. No state requires its owners to pass a test, or to demonstrate minimal proficiencies in knowing how to safely use and care for said firearms though we know misuse may cause unintended injury or death. Currently no US federal governmental agency is allowed to compile statistical information on US gun usage nor is the CDC allowed to do studies on firearms as a matter of public health and safety for those choosing not to use firearms themselves with the full knowledge 30,000 people die annually from gunfire.

There probably isn't any need to ban firearms if the public ever gains the true cost/benefit statistics about guns. Most will make the wise decision we should approach guns like we do any public health issue and create the safest all-around environment possible, protecting both the 2nd Amendment and the rights of non-gun owners to live their own lives free from the threat of someone else's gun usage, and to at minimally be financially indemnified from the damage caused to them and their property by guns through mandatory liability insurance (add it to the price of weapons or ammo).

So far these young people have done countless interviews, travelled to Tallahassee today to push for more gun laws, will participate in a CNN town hall tomorrow, and are busy planning a nationwide "March For Our Lives" on March 24th.

They are also inspiring others.

Earlier this afternoon, George and Amal Clooney responded to their efforts.

"Amal and I are so inspired by the courage and eloquence of these young men and women from Stoneman Douglas High School," George Clooney said in a statement. "Our family will be there on March 24 to stand side by side with this incredible generation of young people from all over the country, and in the name of our children Ella and Alexander, we're donating $500,000 to help pay for this groundbreaking event."

"Our children's lives depend on it," he added.

Almost immediately, that commitment was matched by Jeffrey and Marilyn Katzenberg as well as Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw and Oprah Winfrey. As fast as that is all happening, I suspect that we're just getting started.

Of course the right-wingers are losing their minds over the idea that young people are being empowered to fight for their own safety. People are accusing them of being coached by the "deep-staters" at the FBI; not having their own agency and instead, being manipulated by people like George Soros; and they are being referred to as "traumatized teens" who shouldn't be allowed to make policy. Anyone else remember David Bowie's song "Changes?"

And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They're quite aware of what they're going through

It strikes me that Republicans, who completely discarded African American voters in the 60's and have recently done their best to alienate women, Hispanics and immigrants, are now doing their best to ensure that the next generation of voters is committed to their downfall. Contrary to everything they've been saying over the last couple of days, it has always been the passion of young people that inspired change.

Yes they (hopefully) can.

UPDATE: Hogg responds to the smear campaign in comments to BuzzFeed News:

I just think it's a testament to the sick immaturity and broken state of our government when these people feel the need to pedal conspiracy theories about people that were in a school shooting where 17 people died and it just makes me sick. It's immature, rude, and inhuman for these people to destroy the people trying to prevent the death of the future of America because they won't.

I only hope I live long enough to see young people like these gain power in this nation if they maintain the same mindset.

The MFers are making **** up and spreading disinformation like it's some ******* game!

On Monday, the site Gateway Pundit -- a harbor for the most extreme conspiracy theories and hate-mongering of the alt-Reich -- "discovered" that senior David Hogg, who has appeared on many programs to express his insistence that thoughts and prayers come after action, was the son of an FBI agent. This discovery immediately led to other right wing news sites declaring that Hogg's opinions no longer mattered, as this was just another sign of the media trying to "prop up an incompetent bureau." And to put the seal of authority on it, Donald Trump Jr gave a thumbs up to this announcement on Twitter.

Because if there's anything Republicans have always said, it's that they hate children and law enforcement -- something that police organizations should note this fall.

How did they pull off this great piece of detective work to uncover Hogg's shady background as the son of a former FBI agent? Despite the big "Exposed!" at the top of the pundit-page, Hogg declared loudly and proudly that his father had worked for the FBI several times in televised interviews. So ... great work there.

Meanwhile, the same forces that were "uncovering" Hogg's top-secret connection, also pulled off another investigative coup.

"It was just discovered that the full name of the shooter is "Nicolas de Jesus Cruz" and that he is a registered Democrat in the state of Flordia [sic]. It is becoming more clear that this individual was NOT, in fact, an actual Trump supporter, as is being reported by the media as the result of the image that shows Cruz wearing a MAGA hat."

Really? No. Not really. Because the name of the shooter was Nikolas Cruz. With a ‘k.' And every single scrap of their big discovery, was a flat-out lie.

"The internet was flooded with rumors and hoaxes in the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida shooting as internet trolls and Russian bots started to push out a false narrative about the suspect's identity. They fallaciously claimed that he was a member of Antifa, that he was a "Dreamer," that he had affiliations with ISIS, and, as mentioned, that he was a registered Democrat:

Not content to just make up their own news, Gateway Pundit also pushed an image of a Buzzfeed headline reading "Why we need to take away White people's guns now more than ever." However, no such article existed. It's much easier to stir up racial hatred, if you just make ---- up, and that's been Gateway Pundit's M. O. from its inception. www.dailykos.com

My blood is boiling right now.

I know this post is going to get dumped but there is no way I can express my utter disgust with my fellow citizens who have no compunction taking each and every issue of personal passion and trying to dismiss wholly valid concerns as nothing but political game playing. The fact that issues of passion ARE indeed issues of politics does not make it alright to scream politics where partisan politics has nothing to do with the outrage being expressed about the specific issue. When a person and a political ideology finds itself on the wrong side of the public mood and particularly the raw feelings of actual victims of unspeakable and intolerable violence, it is not alright to attack people as partisans when all they are 'writ large' is fed up and not willing to take the status quo anymore. What does the made-up political motivations of teenagers who just lived through the horror of a mass shooting have to do with the fact they don't want other children to have to deal with what they themselves are forcibly going through? Anyone who actually listens to these kids hears them say that being safe from gun attacks on school grounds is their goal and that they do not want to be affiliated with any political party. They rightly distrust both major parties on this issue, so how are they paid tools of progressive boogeymen?

Well, I guess I did manage to say something without being dumpworthy, but my true feelings for this cretin would have found my post heavily agreed-with back in the days of our free-for-all Retort. Scorn and derision isn't a strong enough reply to the heartless insolence of today's party-over-all right wing sycophants. Mother-**** every last one of 'em and I only hope these kids have long memories about those who took their righteous rage and passion to smear them for being 100 percent correct about the fact something indeed needs to be done that doesn't involve increasing the numbers of guns as the only answer.

They're showing that the success of their party is far more important than the security of this nation. Why should we expect anything different? Trump has trashed his oath to the Constitution already, so why should they feel differently? And just to be clear, this really isn't about his policies/politics, it's about his use of his Presidency to enrich himself and his family, his refusal to respect the independence and overt non-political nature of his own law enforcement and intelligence communities, and his abdication of placing this country's needs and safety above his concerns about how today's fluid issues affect him personally.

I don't give a crap how Trump feels about this nation's electoral sanctity as it relates to his own electoral victory, and there isn't one rational American that believes finding out the truth about Trump campaign's role with the Russians during the election means Hillary will be made President. So what is his fear in actually doing the job he was elected to do and not base every single thing he does on how it effects him and makes him feel?

We told you he was manifestly unfit for the office of President, yet it didn't deter the voters who gave him his victory. Great. But we don't expect you to continue to act as though Trump is simply "different" and "shaking things up" as he careens from trainwreck to trainwreck. No modern nation, much less its preeminent superpower, can efficiently function with a de facto loose cannon in control. Other Republicans can push the same policies without the histrionics and chaos that is Trump. And you can start by defending this nation instead of suddenly finding your inner Edward Snowden when you openly wanted to execute him when he exposed some of the very things you're now using as scapegoats today.

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