Sunday, May 21, 2017

D.C. Swamp Critter Franken Returns $41K in Campaign Contributions Amid Investigation

The full story of this next D.C. scandal might not reach the attention of the national media so we are highlighting it.
Thornton Law Firm have been top donors to the Franken campaign committee and they are under investigation by the FEC and the Boston U.S. Attorney’s office.
Franken returned the money as federal regulators are investigating the firm for linking employee bonuses to campaign contributions.
Democrats have returned one million dollars though not all Democrats have followed suit. Sen. Jack Reed in Rhode Island didn’t. We would be remiss if we didn’t mention so-called Republican Lindsey Graham didn’t return contributions the firm made to him. 

Beltway crowd wants us focused on molehills instead of the mountainous problems they've created

This country has very big problems, and none of them – at least not the serious ones – were created by Donald Trump.
Take your pick. The debt, the unfunded entitlement obligations, the messed up health care system, the crime, the cultural disintegration, the tax code . . . the political class gave us these problems over the course of many decades. Whether by neglect or active foolishness, they have imperiled our fiscal stability, our economic vibrancy and even the safety of ordinary people. They’ve also made it harder for us to protect ourselves against external threats.
These problems are mountains. Mountains can be conquered, but it takes someone who is not only willing to climb the mountain but has the strength and the courage to see the challenge through when it gets difficult. Whatever Donald Trump’s faults, he ran for president because he understood the nature of these problems, and he was willing to climb the mountains.

Leaking From the Top

On Monday, the Washington Post dropped a bombshell, reporting that Donald Trump had shared highly classified “codeword” intelligence—provided by an ally on the condition that it not be more widely disseminated—with Russian officials during their meeting last week.  While administration officials initially issued fierce denials, national security advisor H.R. McMaster, who had himself blasted the story as “false” in a carefully-worded statement, effectively confirmed the key elements of the report at a press briefing Tuesday morning. While McMaster repeatedly insisted that Trump’s decision to share information had been “wholly appropriate,” his remarks (perhaps inadvertently) raised several additional grounds for concern.
First, let’s dispense with the obvious: Classification authority in the United States flows from the president, and so a president is legally entitled to declassify or disclose information as he sees fit, for any reason or no reason at all.  This is a case where that infamous Nixonism—”When the president does it, that means it is not illegal”—actually applies.  Nobody, as far as I can tell, is seriously disputing that.  It’s also true that presidents often choose, for strategic or diplomatic reasons, to share particular pieces of intelligence with foreign governments.  Yet this does not appear to have been a “routine” instance of such sharing, as McMaster sought to characterize it—not by a longshot.

Net Neutrality Nixed: Why John Oliver Is Wrong

Democrats and progressives are concerned that the internet is about to descend into a corporate hellscape since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is moving to repeal Net Neutrality regulations, which prohibit internet service providers (ISPs) from blocking particular sites or throttling traffic from specific services. We tackle the issue in the latest episode of Mostly Weekly. The idea that Net Neutrality and Title II regulations are a vital barricade protecting the internet is an interesting position to arrive at given that a free-and-open internet managed to exist without these edicts for decades. Net Neutrality rules are still on the books, but the FCC made a procedural vote on Thursday to begin the prospect of peeling off Obama-era internet regulations like an old Band-Aid.
The main progressive arguments in favor of Net Neutrality are really arguments guarding against hypotheticals: that ISPs could otherwise block and censor content (they never have) or that they'll run their operations like shakedowns, requiring content providers to pay up or slow their traffic to molasses. The main documented instance of an ISP favoring one content provider over others wasn't sinister collusion. Metro PCS offered unlimited YouTube in a budget data plan but not unlimited Hulu and Netflix, because YouTube had a compression system that could be adapted to the carrier's low-bandwidth network. In a different context, critics might have applauded Metro PCS, since bought by T-Mobile, for bringing more options to lower-income customers.

Harvard study examines media coverage of Trump — and the results will blow you away

It doesn’t take a team of experts at Harvard University to reveal what you already know: Most of the nation’s largest and most influential news outlets do not support President Donald Trump. But just how negative is the media coverage? That’s the question a new study by Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy attempts to answer, and the results are truly remarkable.
The study analyzed print news reports about Trump during his first 100 days in office appearing in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. It also examined the newscasts produced by CBS, CNN, Fox News, NBC, the Financial Times, BBC and Germany’s ARD.
According to Harvard professor Thomas Patterson, “Trump’s coverage during his first 100 days set a new standard for negativity. Of news reports with a clear tone, negative reports outpaced positive ones by 80 percent to 20 percent. Trump’s coverage was unsparing. In no week did the coverage drop below 70 percent negative and it reached 90 percent negative at its peak.”

From Prague to the Potomac: Trump’s Czech Mate

One glance at the map and it is easy to see the bullseye of Europe is Prague, as if the castle nation sits amidst a sea of blue NATO chess pieces: a great place for Vladimir Putin to plant seeds of distrust amongst allies arrayed against his myriad advances. Recently a strategic visit took place between our nations but without the bombast of current Washington politics. The result was that U.S.-Czech bilateral relations showed a welcome return to normal this month when the Czech Defense Minister visited Washington.
Defense Minister Martin Stropnicky came to the United States to attend a conference in Norfolk hosted by NATO’s Allied Command Transformation. He also held bilateral talks with Defense Secretary Mattis, and set aside a day to visit Nebraska, as part of ongoing discussions of a NATO initiative that ties together European partners with state National Guard units. This was a diplomatic nod by the Minister to the long history of Czech immigration to Nebraska.
Stropnicky’s visit presented a stark contrast to the increasing tilt by some Czech political figures toward Vladimir Putin’s Russia that we have seen from Prague over the past couple of years. The most recent example is the months-long circus surrounding claims by the Czech head of state, President Milos Zeman, that President Trump had invited him for a state visit — claims that the White House steadfastly ignored, contra Zeman’s protests. However, this came from the man who stated “I’m not drunk, it’s just a virus” at a crown jewels ceremony and likely experiences unrequited love outside Moscow’s arms.

The Obama Cult

Do you remember president Obama's eight scandal-free years?  This question, posted on an acquaintance's Facebook page, drew my astonished attention.  My immediate "LOL" response received a reprimand for expressing "disrespect."  Among other responses to this lead question were rapturous expressions of "love" and even "worship" for The Great Leader Barack Obama.  As the furor ignited by the Trump election continues to burn and blow, the melancholy longing for an alleged Golden Age is arising.  The longing is deep, and accompanied by swooning ecstasy at the reappearance to public life of Mr. Barack Obama.
I suspect that such expressions are representative of a significant population.  This occasion, in which I drew the rebuke of some of the faithful also offering comments, refreshes the perception that there is in America a continuing embrace of a bizarre personality cult that has found a deep resonance within the nation's political culture.  This cult was manifest as early as Barack Obama's 2007-2008 candidacy and is unique in its promotion and protection by major cultural institutions.  Apparently, it did not end with a change of national administrations; rather, it continues in the form of retrospective longing for imagined wonders of a lost decade of grace, intelligence, and integrity led by one who serves as receptor for spiritual and emotional projections.