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Serious / New details on Comey's Congressional Testimony tomorrow
« on: June 07, 2017, 02:05:39 PM »
As given in a prepared remarks already delivered to the committee

Former FBI Director James Comey will tell the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday that President Donald Trump asked him for his loyalty during a dinner in January and requested in an Oval Office meeting in February that he drop the FBI's investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

"The president began by asking me whether I wanted to stay on as FBI director, which I found strange because he had already told me twice in earlier conversations that he hoped I would stay, and I had assured him that I intended to," Comey said in his prepared remarks, which the committee published Wednesday.

"My instincts told me that the one-on-one setting, and the pretense that this was our first discussion about my position, meant the dinner was, at least in part, an effort to have me ask for my job and create some sort of patronage relationship," the remarks say. "That concerned me greatly, given the FBI's traditionally independent status in the executive branch."

Comey, whom Trump fired on May 9, wrote in the remarks that he told Trump he loved his work and "intended to stay and serve out my 10-year term as director. ... I added that I was not on anybody's side politically and could not be counted on in the traditional political sense, a stance I said was in his best interest as the president.

"A few moments later, the president said, 'I need loyalty. I expect loyalty,'" Comey continued. "I didn't move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed. We simply looked at each other in silence. The conversation then moved on, but he returned to the subject near the end of our dinner."

Comey will also tell Congress about his conversation with Trump during an Oval Office meeting on February 14 in which Trump told him he wanted to talk about Flynn.

"Flynn had resigned the previous day," Comey's remarks say. "The president began by saying Flynn hadn't done anything wrong in speaking with the Russians, but he had to let him go because he had misled the vice president. He added that he had other concerns about Flynn, which he did not then specify."

"'[Flynn] is a good guy and has been through a lot,'" Comey recalls Trump as saying. "He repeated that Flynn hadn't done anything wrong on his calls with the Russians, but had misled the vice president. He then said, 'I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.'"

Comey's prepared remarks say he told Trump that he agreed Flynn was "a good guy," but that he did not tell the president that he would drop the investigation. He did, however, reassure Trump that he was not the direct subject of the FBI's counterintelligence investigation.

Still, according to Comey's prepared testimony, Trump called him at least twice more, on March 30 and April 11, to discuss the Russia investigation.

"On the morning of March 30, the president called me at the FBI. He described the Russia investigation as 'a cloud' that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country," Comey's remarks say. "He said he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia."

Comey, along with the director of the National Security Agency, Mike Rogers, had testified the week before that the FBI was investigating whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian officials during the election.

"I responded that we were investigating the matter as quickly as we could, and that there would be great benefit, if we didn't find anything, to our having done the work well," Comey's remarks say. "He agreed, but then re-emphasized the problems this was causing him."

On April 11, Trump called Comey again, according to the prepared testimony, to ask what the FBI director had done to tell the public that Trump himself was not under investigation.

"I replied that I had passed his request to the acting deputy attorney general, but I had not heard back," Comey's remarks say. "He replied that 'the cloud' was getting in the way of his ability to do his job. He said that perhaps he would have his people reach out to the acting deputy attorney general. I said that was the way his request should be handled. I said the White House counsel should contact the leadership of DOJ to make the request, which was the traditional channel."

The final straw leading Trump to fire Comey appears to have been the president's  "white hot" anger  after Comey confirmed in an open — and televised — hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee that the FBI was still investigating whether the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia.

Comey had not allowed the White House to preview that testimony, which Trump and his aides considered "an act of insubordination," according to Reuters. The New York Times echoed that report, saying Trump was broadly irked by his inability to gain assurances of loyalty from Comey.

Comey will testify one day after the Senate Intelligence Committee grilled top intelligence officials about the circumstances surrounding his firing.

Democratic Sen. Mark Warner told the officials — National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers, acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats — that it was "jarring" to hear "recent reports of White House officials, perhaps even the president himself, attempting to influence and enlist our intelligence-community leaders in attempting to undermine an ongoing FBI investigation."

You can read the full thing for yourself here.

Reports are that Comey will not go as far as to say that Trump obstructed justice, though it sounds like he's doing everything but that.

Serious / So California Signed a Climate Change Agreement with China
« on: June 06, 2017, 08:23:43 PM »
Today in 'Future SCOTUS cases'

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed an agreement to work with China to lower greenhouse gas emissions Tuesday, just days after President Trump pulled the United States out of an international climate change agreement.

The agreement, though nonbinding, aims to expand cooperation between China and California on renewable energy, zero-emission vehicles and low-carbon urban development, Brown’s office said. It will establish a joint working group of Chinese and Californian officials to come up with ways to work together, and to invest in programs that would cut carbon emissions.

Brown signed the pact with Wan Gang, China’s minister of science and technology, before meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“California is the leading economic state in America and we are also the pioneering state on clean technology, cap and trade, electric vehicles and batteries, but we can’t do it alone,” Brown said Tuesday. “We need a very close partnership with China, with your businesses, with your provinces, with your universities.”
Brown is in the middle of a weeklong trip to China, where he has signed similar agreements with leaders from Sichuan and Jiangsu provinces. Brown will headline the Under2 Clean Energy Forum on Wednesday in Beijing, a gathering of 170 cities, states and nations working to keep the global average temperature increase under two degrees Celsius.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the former Texas governor, is also attending the meeting in Beijing. Perry said Tuesday the Trump administration will pursue an “all of the above” energy strategy, according to the Associated Press.

Brown was sharply critical of Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord, reached last year by all but two other nations. Brown, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) established the U.S. Climate Alliance to push states to adhere to the goals of the Paris agreement, even after Trump’s decision.

“The president has already said climate change is a hoax, which is the exact opposite of virtually all scientific and worldwide opinion,” Brown said. “I don’t believe fighting reality is a good strategy.”

On Monday, the three Democrats said nine other states and Puerto Rico had joined their pledge to uphold the accord. Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia all agreed to reduce carbon emissions to between 26 percent and 28 percent below 2005 levels, while meeting targets of the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era rule the Trump administration has revoked.

Seven of the nine states are led by Democratic governors. Vermont and Massachusetts are led by Republicans.

“Our administration looks forward to continued, bipartisan collaboration with other states to protect the environment, grow the economy and deliver a brighter future to the next generation,” Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) said in a statement.

“Growing our economy and protecting our environment by supporting clearer anymore affordable energy and transportation choices can go together,” Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) said. “If our national government isn’t willing to lead in this area, the states are prepared to step up and lead.”

It's a bit astonishing that China is now creating agreements with US states, as opposed to the US as a whole. Though it is California.

All that and more in today's "Trump fucked up and Russia is somehow involved" thread

WASHINGTON — President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo that Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting.

“I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo.

The existence of Mr. Trump’s request is the clearest evidence that the president has tried to directly influence the Justice Department and F.B.I. investigation into links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia.

Mr. Comey wrote the memo detailing his conversation with the president immediately after the meeting, which took place the day after Mr. Flynn resigned, according to two people who read the memo. The memo was part of a paper trail Mr. Comey created documenting what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence an ongoing investigation. An F.B.I. agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.

Mr. Comey shared the existence of the memo with senior F.B.I. officials and close associates. The New York Times has not viewed a copy of the memo, which is unclassified, but one of Mr. Comey’s associates read parts of the memo to a Times reporter.

“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey, according to the memo. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey that Mr. Flynn had done nothing wrong, according to the memo.

Mr. Comey did not say anything to Mr. Trump about curtailing the investigation, only replying: “I agree he is a good guy.”

In a statement, the White House denied the version of events in the memo.

“While the president has repeatedly expressed his view that General Flynn is a decent man who served and protected our country, the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn,” the statement said. “The president has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations. This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.”

In testimony to the Senate last week, the acting F.B.I. director, Andrew G. McCabe, said, “There has been no effort to impede our investigation to date.”

A spokesman for the F.B.I. declined to comment.

Mr. Comey created similar memos — including some that are classified — about every phone call and meeting he had with the president, the two people said. It is unclear whether Mr. Comey told the Justice Department about the conversation or his memos.

Mr. Trump fired Mr. Comey last week. Trump administration officials have provided multiple, conflicting accounts of the reasoning behind Mr. Comey’s dismissal. Mr. Trump said in a television interview that one of the reasons was because he believed “this Russia thing” was a “made-up story.”

The Feb. 14 meeting took place just a day after Mr. Flynn was forced out of his job after it was revealed he had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of phone conversations he had had with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

Despite the conversation between Mr. Trump and Mr. Comey, the investigation of Mr. Flynn has proceeded. In Virginia, a federal grand jury has issued subpoenas in recent weeks for records related to Mr. Flynn. Part of the Flynn investigation is centered on his financial ties to Russia and Turkey.

Mr. Comey had been in the Oval Office that day with other senior national security officials for a terrorism threat briefing. When the meeting ended, Mr. Trump told those present — including Mr. Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions — to leave the room except for Mr. Comey.

Alone in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump began the discussion by condemning leaks to the news media, saying that Mr. Comey should consider putting reporters in prison for publishing classified information, according to one of Mr. Comey’s associates.

Mr. Trump then turned the discussion to Mr. Flynn.

After writing up a memo that outlined the meeting, Mr. Comey shared it with senior F.B.I. officials. Mr. Comey and his aides perceived Mr. Trump’s comments as an effort to influence the investigation, but they decided that they would try to keep the conversation secret — even from the F.B.I. agents working on the Russia investigation — so the details of the conversation would not affect the investigation.

Mr. Comey was known among his closest advisers to document conversations that he believed would later be called into question, according to two former confidants, who said Mr. Comey was uncomfortable at times with his relationship with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Comey’s recollection has been bolstered in the past by F.B.I. notes. In 2007, he told Congress about a now-famous showdown with senior White House officials over the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. The White House disputed Mr. Comey’s account, but the F.B.I. director at the time, Robert S. Mueller III, kept notes that backed up Mr. Comey’s story.

The White House has repeatedly crossed lines that other administrations have been reluctant to cross when discussing politically charged criminal investigations. Mr. Trump has disparaged the ongoing F.B.I. investigation as a hoax and called for an investigation into his political rivals. His representatives have taken the unusual step of declaring no need for a special prosecutor to investigate the president’s associates.

The Oval Office meeting occurred a little more than two weeks after Mr. Trump summoned Mr. Comey to the White House for a lengthy, one-on-one dinner in the residence. At that dinner, on Jan. 27, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Comey at least two times for a pledge of loyalty — which Mr. Comey declined, according to one of Mr. Comey’s associates.

In a Twitter posting on Friday, Mr. Trump said that “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

After the meeting, Mr. Comey’s associates did not believe there was any way to corroborate Mr. Trump’s statements. But Mr. Trump’s suggestion last week that he was keeping tapes has made them wonder whether there are tapes that back up Mr. Comey’s account.

The Jan. 27 dinner came a day after White House officials learned that Mr. Flynn had been interviewed by F.B.I. agents about his phone calls with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak. On Jan. 26, Acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates told the White House counsel about the interview, and said Mr. Flynn could be subject to blackmail by the Russians because they knew he had lied about the content of the calls.

Ah, how I enjoy a good news break during my cardio workout. Almost as good as during happy hour with BOGO shots.

Inb4 PSU and the usual users shout things they don't understand.

"Trump revealed classified info to Russian foreign minister and ambassador"

I look forward to seeing the "lock her up" crowd defending this, or even Congressional republicans for that matter.

After misstatements on Clinton Email investigation

FBI Director James B. Comey has been dismissed by the president, according to White House spokesman Sean Spicer.

“The president has accepted the recommendation of the Attorney General and the deputy Attorney General regarding the dismissal of the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” Spicer told reporters in the briefing room, according to a pool report.

Earlier in the day, the FBI notified Congress that Comey misstated key findings involving the Hillary Clinton email investigation during testimony last week, saying that only a “small number’’ of emails had been forwarded to disgraced congressman Anthony Weiner, not the “hundreds and thousands’’ he’d claimed in his testimony.

The letter was sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, more than a week after Comey testified for hours in defense of his handling of the Clinton probe.

“This letter is intended to supplement that testimony to ensure that the committee has the full context of what was reviewed and found on the laptop,’’ wrote FBI Assistant Director Gregory A. Brower.

In defending the probe at last week’s hearing, Comey offered seemingly new details to underscore the seriousness of the situation FBI agents faced last fall when they discovered thousands of Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s emails on the computer of her husband, Anthony Weiner.

“Somehow, her emails were being forwarded to Anthony Weiner, including classified information,” Comey said, adding later, “His then-spouse Huma Abedin appears to have had a regular practice of forwarding emails to him for him I think to print out for her so she could then deliver them to the secretary of state.”

None of the Trump WH has taken a shine to Comey, but I do find the timing and abruptness of this announcement surprising.

Serious / FCC to Investigate Colbert over "Cock Holster" Joke
« on: May 05, 2017, 03:47:33 PM »

Late night talk show host Stephen Colbert’s controversial joke about President Trump drew the attention of the Federal Communications Commission. The agency received “a number” of complaints about Colbert’s commentary earlier in the week, according to the FCC’s chief.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai promised to “take the appropriate action” following a comprehensive investigation of Colbert’s remarks.
The FCC's response will depend on whether Colbert’s remarks are considered “obscene.”
“We are going to take the facts that we find and we are going to apply the law as it’s been set out by the Supreme Court and other courts and we’ll take the appropriate action,” he told Talk Radio 1210 WPHT Thursday.
“Traditionally, the agency has to decide, if it does find a violation, what the appropriate remedy should be,” he said. "A fine, of some sort, is typically what we do.”
Broadcast television is governed by different rules depending on the time of day, Pai said Wednesday, prior to viewing Colbert’s comments.
The FCC flags speech it considers “indecent” before 10 p.m., he told Fox Business Network, and looks for “obscene” content after that point. Colbert's “The Late Show” airs at 11:35 p.m. ET on CBS.
The agency’s website states that content must meet a three-tier Supreme Court test to be labeled “obscene.”
“It must appeal to an average person’s prurient interest; depict or describe sexual conduct in a ‘patently offensive’ way; and, taken as a whole, lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value,” it reads.
Colbert on Monday unleashed a flood of insults at Trump, satirizing an interview with CBS news the president cut short the day before.
“The only thing your mouth is good at is being [Russian President] Vladimir Putin’s c—k holster,” he said of Trump.
Colbert on Wednesday defended his joke amid fierce backlash online.
“I don’t regret that,” he said. “[Trump], I believe, can take care of himself. I have jokes; he has the launch codes. So, it’s a fair fight."

I look forward to everyone who has complained about issues of free speech in the past to rush to Colbert's defense in this scenario.

The Flood / For those of you tired of Trump
« on: May 01, 2017, 11:34:16 AM »

Come join a real President.

Serious / "The Media Bubble is Real - And Worse than you Think"
« on: April 25, 2017, 11:46:39 AM »
Politico had an interesting piece today about the so-called media bubble and its role in the election. I found it pretty interesting, so figured I'd give it a share.

Tl;Dr below for you lazy fuckers that don't devote five minutes to an article. For those not lazy people, read the full thing Read it here, or just get a taste with the sample below:

How did big media miss the Donald Trump swell? News organizations old and new, large and small, print and online, broadcast and cable assigned phalanxes of reporters armed with the most sophisticated polling data and analysis to cover the presidential campaign. The overwhelming assumption was that the race was Hillary Clinton’s for the taking, and the real question wasn’t how sweeping her November victory would be, but how far out to sea her wave would send political parvenu Trump. Today, it’s Trump who occupies the White House and Clinton who’s drifting out to sea—an outcome that arrived not just as an embarrassment for the press but as an indictment. In some profound way, the election made clear, the national media just doesn’t get the nation it purportedly covers.

What went so wrong? What’s still wrong? To some conservatives, Trump’s surprise win on November 8 simply bore out what they had suspected, that the Democrat-infested press was knowingly in the tank for Clinton all along. The media, in this view, was guilty not just of confirmation bias but of complicity. But the knowing-bias charge never added up: No news organization ignored the Clinton emails story, and everybody feasted on the damaging John Podesta email cache that WikiLeaks served up buffet-style. Practically speaking, you’re not pushing Clinton to victory if you’re pantsing her and her party to voters almost daily.

The answer to the press’ myopia lies elsewhere, and nobody has produced a better argument for how the national media missed the Trump story than FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver, who pointed out that the ideological clustering in top newsrooms led to groupthink. “As of 2013, only 7 percent of [journalists] identified as Republicans,” Silver wrote in March, chiding the press for its political homogeneity. Just after the election, presidential strategist Steve Bannon savaged the press on the same point but with a heartier vocabulary. “The media bubble is the ultimate symbol of what’s wrong with this country,” Bannon said. “It’s just a circle of people talking to themselves who have no fucking idea what’s going on.”

The map at the top of this piece shows how concentrated media jobs have become in the nation’s most Democratic-leaning counties. Counties that voted for Donald Trump in 2016 are in red, and Hillary Clinton counties are in blue, with darker colors signifying higher vote margins. The bubbles represent the 150 counties with the most newspaper and internet publishing jobs. Not only do most of the bubbles fall in blue counties, chiefly on the coasts, but an outright majority of the jobs are in the deepest-blue counties, where Clinton won by 30 points or more.

But journalistic groupthink is a symptom, not a cause. And when it comes to the cause, there’s another, blunter way to think about the question than screaming “bias” and “conspiracy,” or counting D’s and R’s. That’s to ask a simple question about the map. Where do journalists work, and how much has that changed in recent years? To determine this, my colleague Tucker Doherty excavated labor statistics and cross-referenced them against voting patterns and Census data to figure out just what the American media landscape looks like, and how much it has changed.

The results read like a revelation. The national media really does work in a bubble, something that wasn’t true as recently as 2008. And the bubble is growing more extreme. Concentrated heavily along the coasts, the bubble is both geographic and political. If you’re a working journalist, odds aren’t just that you work in a pro-Clinton county—odds are that you reside in one of the nation’s most pro-Clinton counties. And you’ve got company: If you’re a typical reader of Politico, chances are you’re a citizen of bubbleville, too.

The “media bubble” trope might feel overused by critics of journalism who want to sneer at reporters who live in Brooklyn or California and don’t get the “real America” of southern Ohio or rural Kansas. But these numbers suggest it’s no exaggeration: Not only is the bubble real, but it’s more extreme than you might realize. And it’s driven by deep industry trends.

Also, this image:

Tl;Dr: Newspapers and online publishers have become more clustered, centered in urban areas along the coast and the interior, while rural and more local papers have gone out of business. As the locations of these papers and publications are more Democratic, the culture of those cities go on to influence how reporters see the world: The New York Times takes on a "central, moderate" stance, but it's a moderate stance for people who think like those who live in New York City - not for the country as a whole.

See any way that the media can counter this trend, outright of simply moving production to the center of Nebraska?

Serious / Another day, another Trump controversy
« on: March 01, 2017, 10:16:23 PM »

Then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) spoke twice last year with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Justice Department officials said, encounters he did not disclose when asked about possible contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign and representatives of Moscow during Sessions’s confirmation hearing to become attorney general.

One of the meetings was a private conversation between Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that took place in September in the senator’s office, at the height of what U.S. intelligence officials say was a Russian cyber campaign to upend the U.S. presidential race.

The previously undisclosed discussions could fuel new congressional calls for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russia’s alleged role in the 2016 presidential election. As attorney general, Sessions oversees the Justice Department and the FBI, which have been leading investigations into Russian meddling and any links to Trump’s associates. He has so far resisted calls to recuse himself.

When Sessions spoke with Kislyak in July and September, the senator was a senior member of the influential Armed Services Committee as well as one of Trump’s top foreign policy advisers. Sessions played a prominent role supporting Trump on the stump after formally joining the campaign in February 2016.

At his Jan. 10 Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Sessions was asked by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) what he would do if he learned of any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of the 2016 campaign.

“I’m not aware of any of those activities,” he responded. He added: “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”

While Sessions surely won't resign, this is going to put pressure on Nunes and Chaffetz to create select committees to investigate, considering that the DoJ is the one who released the news on the conversations.

The Flood / Jeb Bush
« on: February 07, 2017, 03:43:13 PM »
Like this post if you're running in 2020

Serious / US Government has revoked over 100,000 visas since Trump's EO
« on: February 03, 2017, 11:47:58 AM »
As revealed in court

Over 100,000 visas have been revoked as a result of President Trump’s ban on travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries, an attorney for the government revealed in Alexandria federal court Friday.

The number came out during a hearing in a lawsuit filed by attorneys for two Yemeni brothers who arrived at Dulles International Airport last Saturday. They were coerced into giving up their legal resident visas, they argue, and quickly put on a return flight to Ethiopia.

“The number 100,000 sucked the air out of my lungs,” said Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg of the Legal Aid Justice Center, who represents the brothers.

The government attorney, Erez Reuveni from the Justice Department’s Office of Immigration Litigation, could not say how many people with visas were sent back to their home countries from Dulles in response to the travel ban. However, he did say that all people with green cards who came through the airport have been let into the United States.

For people like the brothers, Tareq and Ammar Aqel Mohammed Aziz, who tried to enter the country over the weekend with valid visas and were sent back, the government appears to be attempting a case-by-case reprieve. They and other plaintiffs in lawsuits around the country are being offered new visas and the opportunity to come to the U.S. in exchange for dropping their suits.

Virginia Solicitor General Stuart Raphael said such a piecemeal approach was not sufficient, since it is not clear how many people were turned away at Dulles or other airports. The state had sought to join the suit, saying it impacted many state residents.

“There’s something very troubling about the way this is playing out,” Raphael said. “While I am pleased that they are willing to whisk people back if they come to our attention, they won’t come to our attention if we don’t know who they are.”

He said, for instance, that Virginia officials have learned that a George Mason University student from Libya is stuck in Turkey due to the ban.

Judge Leonie M. Brinkema allowed Virginia to join the Aziz brothers’ suit.

Noting that she presided over the case of 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, Brinkema said she had never before faced such interest in a legal dispute. Other judges dealing with lawsuits against the order around the country, she said, have told her of similar experiences.

“I have never had so much public outpouring as I’ve seen in this case,” she said. “This order touched something in the United States that I’ve never seen before. It’s amazing.”

For the order itself, she had some harsh words, though she said the president has “almost unfettered” power in the realm of borders and national security.

“It’s quite clear that not all the thought went into it that should have gone into it,” Brinkema said. “There has been chaos. . .without any kind of actual hard evidence that there is a need” to revoke visas already granted. People had relied on their visas as valid, she said; families had expected to be reunited with loved ones.

Bringing back individuals who have sued after failing to get into the country is a good step, she said, but “I don’t think it’s far enough.”

Outside the courthouse, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said he was “really pleased the judge recognized real harm is happening in Virginia.”

Brinkema declined to hold government officials in contempt for the way they handled travelers from the seven banned countries over the weekend, saying she did not know enough Friday to make that determination. Virginia had cited news reports and affidavits from lawmakers that, contrary to an order Brinkema issued last weekend, Customs and Border Patrol officers denied immigrants access to lawyers.

“There were so many lawyers there willing to help, and not a single one got access,” Raphael said.

Reuveni said that security at Dulles bars lawyers from anything but telephone access to people in screening.

Brinkema said she would expand the order and extend it another week but has not yet released the details.

It really stands to question whether or not the Trump administration is going to heed to judicial review that's bound to come in the next several months and years regarding this executive order - particularly after what has been a long and confusing rollout this week.

Serious / Democrats are one vote short of blocking DeVos's confirmation
« on: February 01, 2017, 01:47:05 PM »

Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said Wednesday that they intend to vote against confirmation of President Trump’s education secretary nominee, Betsy DeVos, giving Democrats two of at least three Republican votes they would need to block her appointment.

Both senators said that while they appreciate DeVos’s efforts to help at-risk children through advocating for vouchers and charter schools, they are concerned that DeVos lacks the experience needed to lead the nation’s public schools. DeVos has no professional experience in public schools, and she did not attend public schools herself or send her own children to them.

“She appears to view education through the lens of her experience of promoting alternatives to public education in Detroit and other cities where she has no doubt done valuable work,” Collins said. “I’m concerned that Mrs. Devos’s lack of experience with public schools will make it difficult for her to fully understand, identify and assist with those challenges, particularly for our rural schools in states like Maine.”

Murkowski said children in rural communities across Alaska depend on a strong public school system.

“I take very personally the success of Alaska’s schools and Alaska schoolchildren,” Murkowski said. “I believe that my colleagues here in the United States Senate and the many, many that they represent have the right to debate these questions.” She added: “I conclude my remarks to make clear that my colleagues know firmly that I do not intend to vote on final passage to support Mrs. DeVos to be secretary of education.”

Forty-eight senators caucus with Democrats. If all of them vote as a bloc against DeVos, and if they are joined by Murkowski and Collins, the vote to confirm would be 50-50. In that event, Vice President Pence — a staunch DeVos supporter — would cast the tie-breaking vote.

Both DeVos and Sessions are not waiting on full Senate votes - so I wouldn't be shocked if Mitch tries and push her through while Sessions can still help them.

That being said, I look forward to Trump's twitter blast against them

Serious / Who will be Trump's SCOTUS Pick?
« on: January 31, 2017, 02:40:55 PM »
So Trump is announcing his pick to fill Scalia's seat tonight at 8pm - most sources have whittled it down to the three names in the poll (Though Pryor is now considered a long shot for the spot). Go ahead and pick who you think.

Some details of each:


Judge Neil Gorsuch, 49, is on President Donald Trump's short list for appointment to the Supreme Court to fill the seat vacated a year ago by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Gorsuch has the typical pedigree of a high court justice. He graduated from Columbia, Harvard and Oxford, clerked for two Supreme Court justices and did a stint at the Department of Justice.

“The real appeal of Gorsuch nomination is he’s likely to be the most effective conservative nominee in terms of winning over Anthony Kennedy and forging conservative decisions on the court,” said Jeffrey Rosen of the National Constitution Center. “He’s unusual for his memorable writing style, the depth of his reading and his willingness to rethink constitutional principles from the ground up. Like Justice Scalia, he sometimes reaches results that favor liberals when he thinks the history or text of the Constitution or the law require it, especially in areas like criminal law or the rights of religious minorities, but unlike Scalia he’s less willing to defer to regulations and might be more willing to second-guess Trump’s regulatory decision.”


Judge Thomas Hardiman, 51, is on President Donald Trump's short list for appointment to the Supreme Court to fill the seat vacated a year ago by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

If chosen, Hardiman would be the only Supreme Court justice not to have attended either Harvard or Yale — a selling point that his boosters have used to push his candidacy to Trump, who has railed against the political elites ever since the launch of his presidential campaign.

As a justice, Hardiman would be unlikely to swing the ideological balance on the court. Legal experts see him as largely falling in line with the conservative bloc, as Scalia did.

A 2007 ruling Hardiman wrote upheld the constitutionality strip searches of jail prisoners regardless of how minor an offense they were accused of. The Supreme Court later endorsed his decision, 5-4.

While Hardiman has backed First Amendment rights in the context of political donations, he took a narrower view in a 2010 suit over an arrest for videotaping a police officer during a traffic stop, holding that there was no clearly established First Amendment right to record such an event.

Hardiman won favor with gun rights advocates for a 2013 dissent that said New Jersey was violating the Second Amendment to the Constitution by requiring those seeking to carry a handgun to demonstrate a “justifiable need” for such a permit.


Pryor is a standout favorite among many constitutional conservatives for his uncompromising, often caustic criticism of the leading liberal Supreme Court decisions. He has called Roe v. Wade, the 1973 abortion rights ruling, “the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history.” As an outspoken elected attorney general of Alabama, he often blasted federal judges.

“The courts have imposed results on a wide range of issues, including racial quotas, school prayer, abortion and homosexual rights. Those issues belong in Congress and the state legislature,” he wrote in a 1997 Wall Street Journal op-ed.

Pryor made it onto the 11th Circuit in 2004 via a rare recess appointment from President George W. Bush after Senate Democrats blocked a vote on Pryor’s nomination for nearly a year. He was confirmed on a 53-45 vote in 2005 as part of the so-called “Gang of 13” deal that allowed approval of several stalled Bush judicial nominees but preserved the right to filibuster.

While Pryor’s record as an appeals court judge has been staunchly conservative, he surprised many legal observers in 2011 by joining a decision holding that some discrimination against transgender individuals is prohibited by constitutional doctrine forbidding sex discrimination.

Serious / Some Photos from Yesterdays Protests
« on: January 22, 2017, 08:04:13 AM »
So, yesterday was the Womens March on Washington - which turned into marches spanning the globe, on every continent. By most accounts, it's one of the largest unified protest in modern history.

Below area couple images from various cities. A more complete list can be found here



Nairobi, Kenya



Auckland, New Zealand

Any thoughts on yesterday? Where do you see the movement going from here? Is it a one-off protest, or does it grow to something more?

Serious / House & Senate Begin Process to Repeal ACA
« on: January 13, 2017, 03:10:59 PM »
House Voted Today to Begin the Process

Republicans moved one step closer to repealing Obamacare when the House passed a measure this afternoon directing committees to begin working on legislation to repeal major pieces of the law.

The resolution cleared the House 227-198. Ten members didn't vote. Similar legislation passed in the Senate Thursday morning largely along party lines.

Republican leaders expect to enact a repeal as early as next month; House Speaker Paul Ryan said it would "definitely" come in the first 100 days.

They also say they will advance a replacement at a similar pace, though it could take years to go into effect.

The passage of the budget measure allows Republicans to dismantle large pieces of the Affordable Care Act quickly and efficiently.

A group of nine moderate and conservative House Republicans voted against the bill with concerns that Republicans would end up repealing the law without clearly laying out and presenting their replacement.

"The only thing I've ever asked for is that the replacement plan be fully developed before we take on the repeal issue," Rep. Charlie Dent, R-PA, a leading moderate who voted against the measure, said in an interview.

Hardliners want more details and are concerned about adding to the deficit.

Democrats criticized the vote and accused the GOP of playing politics.

"It's being done for political reasons," said Rep. John Delaney, D-Maryland, on the House floor.

Essentially means that the ACA is done for - however the GOP leadership in Congress continues to insist that popular measures (Protection of those with preexisting conditions, people under 26 can stay with parents) would remain in their future plan.

That remains to be seen, because we've yet to get a replacement plan after six years.

Serious / Trump Planning Revamp of US Spy Agencies
« on: January 04, 2017, 11:14:00 PM »
From the WSJ

WASHINGTON—President-elect Donald Trump, a harsh critic of U.S. intelligence agencies, is working with top advisers on a plan that would restructure and pare back the nation’s top spy agency, people familiar with the planning said.

The move is prompted by his belief that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has become bloated and politicized, these people said.

The planning comes as Mr. Trump has leveled a series of social-media attacks in recent months and the past few days against U.S. intelligence agencies, dismissing and mocking their assessment that Russia stole emails from Democratic groups and individuals and then provided them to WikiLeaks for publication in an effort to help Mr. Trump win the White House.

One of the people familiar with Mr. Trump’s planning said advisers also are working on a plan to restructure the Central Intelligence Agency, cutting back on staffing at its Virginia headquarters and pushing more people out into field posts around the world. The CIA declined to comment.

“The view from the Trump team is the intelligence world has become completely politicized,” said the individual, who is close to the Trump transition. “They all need to be slimmed down. The focus will be on restructuring the agencies and how they interact.”

In Twitter posts on Wednesday, Mr. Trump referenced an interview that WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange gave to Fox News in which Mr. Assange denied Russia had been his source for the thousands of emails he published that had been stolen from Democratic organizations and Hillary Clinton advisers, including campaign manager John Podesta.
Mr. Trump tweeted: “Julian Assange said ‘a 14 year old could have hacked Podesta’—why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info!”

Mr. Trump has drawn criticism from Democratic and Republican lawmakers and from intelligence and law-enforcement officials for praising Russian President Vladimir Putin, for criticizing U.S. spy agencies, and now for embracing Mr. Assange, long viewed with disdain by government officials and lawmakers.

“We have two choices: some guy living in an embassy on the run from the law…who has a history of undermining American democracy and releasing classified information to put our troops at risk, or the 17 intelligence agencies sworn to defend us,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.). “I’m going with them.”

But for Mr. Trump and some supporters, the accusations that Russia hacked Democrats are seen as an effort to delegitimize his election.

Since the November election, Mr. Trump has published close to 250 Twitter posts. Of those, 11 have focused on Russia or the election-related cyberattacks. In each of those tweets, Mr. Trump either has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin—last month calling him “very smart”—or disparaged the investigation into the hacks.

This stands in contrast with his posts on other issues and countries, such as North Korea or China, where his views on national security risks line up more squarely with U.S. spy agencies.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence was established in 2004 in large part to boost coordination between intelligence agencies following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Lawmakers and intelligence experts in the past have proposed cutting or restructuring the ODNI. The President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, a White House panel, recommended in a classified report in 2010 that the agency be downsized and closely focused, according to the Congressional Research Service. The report didn’t result in legislation. Officials said change has proven difficult in part because its mission centers are focused on core national security issues, such as counterterrorism, nuclear proliferation, and counterintelligence.

“The management and integration that DNI focuses on allows agencies like the CIA to better hone in on its own important work,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence panel, who believes dismantling the ODNI could lead to national security problems.

Mr. Trump’s advisers say he has long been skeptical of the CIA’s accuracy, and the president-elect often mentions faulty intelligence in 2002 and 2003 concerning Iraq’s weapons programs. But his public skepticism about the Russia assessments has jarred analysts accustomed to more cohesion with the White House.

Top officials at U.S. intelligence agencies, as well as Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress, have said Russia orchestrated the computer attacks on the Democratic Party last year. President Barack Obama ordered the intelligence agencies to produce a report on the hacking operation, and he is expected to be presented with the findings on Thursday.

Russia has long denied any involvement in the hacking operation, though Mr. Putin has said releasing the stolen emails was a public service.

The heads of the CIA, Federal Bureau of Investigation and DNI James Clapper are scheduled to brief Mr. Trump on the findings on Friday. Mr. Trump tweeted late Tuesday that this meeting had been delayed and suggested that the agencies still needed time to “build a case” against Russia. White House officials said Mr. Trump will be briefed on the hacking report as soon as it is ready.

Among those helping lead Mr. Trump’s plan to revamp the intelligence agencies is his national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who had served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency until he was pushed out by Mr. Clapper and others in 2014. Also involved in the planning is Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.), whom Mr. Trump selected as CIA director.

Gen. Flynn didn’t respond to a request for comment on Wednesday, and Mr. Pompeo declined to comment.

Gen. Flynn and Mr. Pompeo share Mr. Trump’s view that the intelligence community’s position—that Russia tried to help his campaign—is an attempt to undermine his victory or say he didn’t win, the official close to the transition said.

Gen. Flynn will lead the White House’s National Security Council, giving him broad influence in military and intelligence decisions throughout the government. He is also a believer in rotating senior intelligence agencies into the field and reducing headquarters staff.

Current and former intelligence and law enforcement officials have reacted with a mix of bafflement and outrage to Mr. Trump’s continuing series of jabs at U.S. spies.

“They are furious about it,” said one former senior intelligence official, adding that a retinue of senior officials who thought they would be staying on in a Hillary Clinton administration now are re-evaluating their plans following Mr. Trump’s election.

Current and former officials said it was particularly striking to see Mr. Trump quote Mr. Assange in tweets.

“It’s pretty horrifying to me that he’s siding with Assange over the intelligence agencies,” one former law-enforcement official said.

Paul Pillar, a 28-year veteran of the CIA who retired in 2005, said he was disturbed by Mr. Trump’s tweets and feared much of the intelligence community’s assessments could be filtered through Gen. Flynn.

“I’m rather pessimistic,” he said. “This is indeed disturbing that the president should come in with this negative view of the agencies, coupled with his habits on how he absorbs information and so on that don’t provide a lot of hope for change.”

I for one look forward to changes to the intelligence community under a man who uses terms like "hacking defense" in his opinion.

Serious / GOP Push to Gut Congressional Ethics Committee
« on: January 02, 2017, 11:05:24 PM »

WASHINGTON — House Republicans, overriding their top leaders, voted on Monday to significantly curtail the power of an independent ethics office set up in 2008 in the aftermath of corruption scandals that sent three members of Congress to jail.

The move to effectively kill the Office of Congressional Ethics was not made public until late Monday, when Representative Robert W. Goodlatte, Republican of Virginia and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, announced that the House Republican Conference had approved the change. There was no advance notice or debate on the measure.

The surprising vote came on the eve of the start of a new session of Congress, where emboldened Republicans are ready to push an ambitious agenda on everything from health care to infrastructure, issues that will be the subject of intense lobbying from corporate interests. The House Republicans’ move would take away both power and independence from an investigative body, and give lawmakers more control over internal inquiries.

It also came on the eve of a historic shift in power in Washington, where Republicans control both houses of Congress and where a wealthy businessman with myriad potential conflicts of interest is preparing to move into the White House.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the majority leader, spoke out during the meeting to oppose the measure, aides said on Monday night. The full House is scheduled to vote on Tuesday on the rules, which would last for two years, until the next congressional elections.

In place of the office, Republicans would create a new Office of Congressional Complaint Review that would report to the House Ethics Committee, which has been accused of ignoring credible allegations of wrongdoing by lawmakers.

“Poor way to begin draining the swamp,” Tom Fitton, president of the conservative group Judicial Watch, said on Twitter. He added, “Swamp wins with help of @SpeakerRyan, @RepGoodlatte.”

Mr. Goodlatte defended the action in a statement on Monday evening, saying it would strengthen ethics oversight in the House while also giving lawmakers better protections against what some of them have called overzealous efforts by the Office of Congressional Ethics.

“The O.C.E. has a serious and important role in the House, and this amendment does nothing to impede their work,” the statement said in part.

But Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House minority leader, joined others who had worked to create the office in expressing outrage at the move and the secretive way it was orchestrated.

“Republicans claim they want to ‘drain the swamp,’ but the night before the new Congress gets sworn in, the House G.O.P. has eliminated the only independent ethics oversight of their actions,” Ms. Pelosi said in a statement on Monday night. “Evidently, ethics are the first casualty of the new Republican Congress.”

The Office of Congressional Ethics has been controversial since its creation and has faced intense criticism from many of its lawmaker targets — both Democrats and Republicans — as its investigations have consistently been more aggressive than those conducted by the House Ethics Committee.

The body was created after a string of serious ethical issues starting a decade ago, including bribery allegations against Representatives Duke Cunningham, Republican of California; William J. Jefferson, Democrat of Louisiana; and Bob Ney, Republican of Ohio. All three were ultimately convicted and served time in jail.

The Office of Congressional Ethics, which is overseen by a six-member outside board, does not have subpoena power. But it has its own staff of investigators who spend weeks conducting confidential interviews and collecting documents based on complaints they receive from the public, or news media reports, before issuing findings that detail any possible violation of federal rules or laws. The board then votes on whether to refer the matter to the full House Ethics Committee, which conducts its own review.

But the House Ethics Committee, even if it dismisses the potential ethics violation as unfounded, is required to release the Office of Congressional Ethics report detailing the alleged wrongdoing, creating a deterrent to such questionable behavior by lawmakers.

Under the new arrangement, the Office of Congressional Complaint Review could not take anonymous complaints, and all of its investigations would be overseen by the House Ethics Committee itself, which is made up of lawmakers who answer to their own party.

The Office of Congressional Complaint Review would also have special rules to “better safeguard the exercise of due process rights of both subject and witness,” Mr. Goodlatte said. The provision most likely reflects complaints by certain lawmakers that the ethics office’s staff investigations were at times too aggressive, an allegation that watchdog groups dismissed as evidence that lawmakers were just trying to protect themselves.

“O.C.E. is one of the outstanding ethics accomplishments of the House of Representatives, and it has played a critical role in seeing that the congressional ethics process is no longer viewed as merely a means to sweep problems under the rug,” said a statement from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, an ethics watchdog group that has filed many complaints with the Office of Congressional Ethics.

“If the 115th Congress begins with rules amendments undermining O.C.E., it is setting itself up to be dogged by scandals and ethics issues for years and is returning the House to dark days when ethics violations were rampant and far too often tolerated,” the statement continued.

One Republican House aide on Monday disputed the suggestion that the Office of Congressional Complaint Review was a new entity, arguing that the current staff would largely remain and that the outside board overseeing it would also continue to exist.

“It’s the same office, same people, most of the same rules,” said the House aide, who was not authorized to speak on the record.

Among the most prominent cases brought by the Office of Congressional Ethics since it was created was an investigation into Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California, who was accused of intervening with the Treasury Department to try to assist a struggling bank in which her husband owned stock.

Ms. Waters was ultimately cleared by the House Ethics Committee, but the committee criticized the actions of her grandson, who was then her chief of staff, and urged the House to consider broadening a ban on lawmakers’ hiring their relatives to include grandchildren.

By moving all of the authority to the House Ethics Committee, several ethics lawyers said, the House risks becoming far too protective of members accused of wrongdoing.

Bryson Morgan, who worked as an investigative lawyer at the Office of Congressional Ethics from 2013 until 2015, said that under his interpretation of the new rules, members of the House committee could move to stop an inquiry even before it was completed.

“This is huge,” said Mr. Morgan, who now defends lawmakers targeted in ethics investigations. “It effectively allows the committee to shut down any independent investigation into member misconduct. Historically, the ethics committee has failed to investigate member misconduct.”

Serious / Russian Ambassador to Turkey Killed by Gunman
« on: December 19, 2016, 11:46:27 AM »

Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was killed Monday after gunfire erupted at a photo exhibit in the Turkish capital where he was one of the speakers, Russian officials said. One gunman also was killed in the apparent targeted attack.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. But video posted on social media purported to show a Turkish-speaking decrying violence in Syria, where Russia is a key backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said Ambassador Andrei Karlov died after being hit in the back by gunfire at the event in Ankara. Earlier, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Karlov has been hit by one gunshot, but efforts to treat him were delayed by further gunfire.

Several other people were wounded in the gallery attack, but their identities were not immediately made public. Officials in Moscow confirmed that one gunman was killed. It was not known if there were other attackers.

Russia and Turkey, a foe of Assad, recently joined to broker a deal to evacuate civilians and rebel fighters from the last opposition enclaves in Aleppo, a major Syrian city that has been under relentless attacks from Syrian forces and their allies.

“Allah Akbar! Do not forget Aleppo!” said the gunman, according to the widely circulated video. “Do not forget Syria! Do not forget Aleppo! Do not forget Syria! As long as our lands are not safe, you will not be safe!

The authenticity of the video could not be independently confirmed.

CNN Turk television reported that shooting continued after the attack targeting the ambassador.

The Associated Press published a photo showing a man lying on the ground with an armed assailant dressed in a suit standing nearby.

Karlov started his diplomatic career during the Soviet era in 1976 and had previously served at Russian embassies in Seoul and Pyongyang, North Korea. He took the post in Ankara in July 2013, according to the embassy’s website.

Turkey has been hit by a serious of attacks in recent years blamed on groups including the Islamic State and Kurdish separatists, who have battled the government for decades for greater autonomy in Turkey’s southeastern regions.

In Washington, State Department spokesman John Kirby condemned Monday’s attack.

Serious / US Election Agency Hacked after Vote
« on: December 15, 2016, 09:11:48 PM »
From Reuters

The U.S. agency charged with ensuring that voting machines meet security standards was itself penetrated by a hacker after the November elections, according to a security firm working with law enforcement on the matter.

The security firm, Recorded Future, was monitoring underground electronic markets where hackers buy and sell wares and discovered someone offering log-on credentials for access to computers at the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, company executives said.

Posing as a potential buyer, the researchers engaged in a conversation with the hacker, said Levi Gundert, vice president of intelligence at the company, and Andrei Barysevich, director of advanced collection.

Eventually they discovered that the Russian-speaking hacker had obtained the credentials of more than 100 people at the election commission after exploiting a common database vulnerability, the researchers said.

The hacker was trying to sell information about the vulnerability to a Middle Eastern government for several thousand dollars, but the researchers alerted law enforcement and said Thursday that the hole had been patched.

The Election Assistance Commission said in a statement late Thursday that it had become aware of a "potential intrusion" and was "working with federal law enforcement agencies to investigate the potential breach and its effects."

"The FBI is currently conducting an ongoing criminal investigation," the statement added.

The election commission certifies voting systems and develops standards for technical guidelines and best practices for election officials across the country.

The researchers said the hacker had an unusual business model, scanning for ways to break into all manner of businesses and other entities and then moving rapidly to sell that access, rather than stealing the data himself.

“We don’t think he actually works for any government or is super sophisticated,” Barysevich said.

In the case of the election commission, the hacker used methods including an SQL injection, a well known and preventable flaw, obtaining a list of user names and obfuscated passwords, which he was then able to crack.

Though much of the commission’s work is public, the hacker gained access to non-public reports on flaws in voting machines.

In theory, someone could have used knowledge of such flaws to attack specific machines, said Matt Blaze, an electronic voting expert and professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

The researchers were confident that the hacker moved to sell his access soon after getting it, meaning that he was not inside the system before election day.

The U.S. voting process is decentralized and there were no reports of widespread fraud in November.

The Election Assistance Commission was created by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 and is led by presidential appointees.

After this whole shit storm of an election year, I really hope that we see cybersecurity innovations in the upcoming Presidency.

Serious / Incoming North Carolina Governor Threatens to Sue State G.O.P.
« on: December 15, 2016, 03:02:26 PM »
Threat Comes as Power Struggle Continues

RALEIGH, N.C. — Gov.-elect Roy Cooper of North Carolina on Thursday angrily attacked the Republican-led state Legislature for what he called an unprecedented effort to strip his powers before he takes office, and to advance Republican policies that have led to fierce ideological battles in the state.

Mr. Cooper, a Democrat, defeated the incumbent Republican governor, Pat McCrory, and as the state attorney general, he said he was scrutinizing the legality of the Republican proposals. “They will see me in court,” he warned.

After Republicans, who have large majorities in the General Assembly, called a surprise special session Wednesday, they introduced measures that included ending the new governor’s control over election boards, requiring State Senate approval of his cabinet members and stripping his power to appoint University of North Carolina trustees.

If the measures pass and are signed into law by Mr. McCrory, they would drastically limit Mr. Cooper’s power when he takes office Jan. 1.

In a news conference, the governor-elect blasted lawmakers for plotting secretly for weeks to introduce the bills. He compared the move to the enactment this spring of North Carolina’s “bathroom bill,” known as House Bill 2, which nullified protections for gay and transgender residents. Some say the law, which brought boycotts by sports leagues and some businesses, contributed significantly to Mr. McCrory’s loss. His was the only governor’s seat in the country that Republicans failed to hold on Election Day, even as Donald J. Trump won here.

“We don’t want another disaster like House Bill 2,” Mr. Cooper said. “This is exactly why we had problems with House Bill 2, because they wanted to do it in secret,” he said.

Mr. McCrory conceded the race last week after a nearly monthlong challenge of the vote, a hard-fought race after four years in which unified Republican control of state government brought a wave of restrictions on voting access, abortion and gay rights.

Democratic leaders accused Republicans of trying to undo the election results. “This is an unprecedented, shameful and cowardly power grab from the Republicans,” said Jamal Little, a spokesman for the state’s Democratic Party. “After losing the governor’s office, the G.O.P.-controlled General Assembly is attempting to hold on to power that voters took away from them.”

A Republican leader in the House, David R. Lewis, defended the moves, telling reporters on Wednesday that Republicans would “work to establish that we are going to continue to be a relevant party in governing the state.”

Other Republicans said there was a precedent for the Legislature checking the power of a governor. Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the state Republican Party, asked in a Facebook post “how is this different” than what Democrats in the General Assembly did to a Republican governor, James G. Martin, in the 1980s.

Mr. Cooper rejected the comparison. “That is just not true,” he said when asked by reporters. “What is happening now is unprecedented.”

The most sweeping changes Republicans propose would limit Mr. Cooper’s ability to appoint top members of his administration, and in some cases would limit their powers.

The State Senate would have to approve cabinet secretaries, who are now the governor’s sole discretion. The Legislature seeks to reduce the governor’s influence over the state Board of Education and to enhance the power of the state education superintendent, who is a newly elected Republican.

Mr. Cooper said the changes would set the stage to channel taxpayer dollars into private-school vouchers. Similarly, he said that Republicans sought to take control over the appointments of the departments of commerce, revenue and environmental policy. Their goals, he said, were part of a conservative policy wish list: corporate tax loopholes and weakening clean air and water protections.

“Most people might think that this is a partisan power grab,” Mr. Cooper said. “But it is really more ominous.”

Under one Republican bill, which lawmakers will debate and vote on beginning Thursday, the state and county election boards would be revamped to remove them from the partisan control of the governor.

Under current state law, the governor names five members to the state Elections Board, which in turn appoints the 100 county boards. Now, Republicans seek to make the boards balanced equally between the two parties.

Mr. Cooper’s election, which was decided by only about 10,300 votes, or 0.2 percent, put a spotlight on North Carolina’s elections boards as they examined voting challenges in dozens of counties brought by McCrory supporters, who claimed that dead people and felons had voted.

The challenges stretched on for nearly a month, and it was not until last week that Mr. McCrory conceded.

Still, the state board rulings in the canvass procedure did not necessarily favor Mr. McCrory. Most of the votes his supporters challenged proved inconsequential.

Rumors bubbled up after Mr. Cooper’s election that Republicans in Raleigh would add seats to the State Supreme Court. The court gained a 4-to-3 Democratic majority after the election last month of Judge Mike Morgan. Republicans denied a “court-packing” plan, and no such bill was introduced. But a bill was filed to add party labels in State Supreme Court elections. It was seen as a response to the election of Mr. Morgan, who some observers thought won because voters mistakenly thought he was a Republican.

The special legislative session was announced only at midday on Wednesday, and it came as a surprise to Democrats. Lawmakers had just ended a two-day special session, the third of the year, called to enact relief for victims of natural disasters.

As the fourth extraordinary session was called to order, Democrats complained that they had been given no inkling of any bills Republicans planned to file. In the House, one Democratic representative after another rose to protest that the session was unconstitutional.

Tl;Dr - Republican controlled General Assembly has convened a special session to limit the powers of the incoming Democratic governor - including limiting the number of employees working for him, ending the new governor’s control over election boards, requiring State Senate approval of his cabinet members and stripping his power to appoint University of North Carolina trustees.

Serious / Who should be Secretary of State?
« on: December 01, 2016, 06:57:40 PM »
Take a swing.

Serious / Let's Discuss Healthcare
« on: November 28, 2016, 08:32:51 PM »
It's looking more and more likely that some, or all, of Obamacare will be repealed come the start of the next Congress. Republicans in Congress have already voted for it's repeal some 50+ times, and President Trump will without a doubt support the repeal.

So, where do we go next? What will it look like post-Obamacare? What about bipartisan provisions in the legislation that, arguably, can't be funded on their own?


Serious / Car & Knife Attack on Ohio State Uni Campus
« on: November 28, 2016, 10:16:53 AM »
CNN Updating

(CNN)At least eight people were taken to hospitals after an active shooter was reported on the Ohio State University campus Monday, authorities said.

One of those eight patients is in critical condition, Columbus Fire spokeswoman Rebecca Diehm said.

Campus officials urged people to shelter in place and avoid the Watts Hall area.

"Buckeye Alert: Active Shooter on campus. Run Hide Fight. Watts Hall. 19th and College," OSU Emergency Management tweeted Monday morning.

Watts Hall is the university's materials science and engineering building.

OSU senior Anthony Falzarano, 22, said he was in class at the time of the shooting.

"We heard a lot of sirens. I was in class and everyone got a text message at the same time for the emergency alert," he told CNN. "Someone said they heard popping right before we got the alert, but I didn't hear it. We are in a shelter-in-place right now in the building next door. "

Serious / Report: Trump Meeting with News Executives doesn't go well
« on: November 21, 2016, 06:32:06 PM »
According to an off the record source to the New York Post, Reported by The Hill

President-elect Donald Trump raged at anchors and executives from America’s five largest television networks during an off-the-record meeting Monday, according to a new report.

Two sources described the hour-long meeting at New York City’s Trump Tower in catastrophic terms to The New York Post.

“It was like a f—ing firing squad,” one source said of the meeting. "Trump started with [CNN President] Jeff Zucker and said, ‘I hate your network, everyone at CNN is a liar and you should be ashamed.’"
“The meeting was a total disaster. The TV execs and anchors went in there thinking they would be discussing the access they would get to the Trump administration, but instead they got a Trump-style dressing down.”

The Post’s second source said the meeting included 30 to 40 people, and said Trump also took aim at ABC and NBC.

“Trump kept saying, ‘We’re in a room full of liars, the deceitful dishonest media who got it all wrong,'" the source said. "He addressed everyone in the room calling the media dishonest, deceitful liars. Trump didn’t say [NBC reporter] Katy Tur by name, but talked about a female correspondent who got it wrong.

“Then he referred to a horrible network correspondent who cried when [Democratic presidential nominee] Hillary [Clinton] lost [and] who hosted a debate — which was [ABC’s] Martha Raddatz, who was also in the room.”

Top Trump aide Kellyanne Conway disputed the New York Post story.

"No, that's not true at all," she said on Bloomberg Politics' 'With All Due Respect." "I sat right to his left. He did not explode in anger. By the way, it's an off-the-record meeting so whoever said that and mischaracterized it should think twice."

Monday’s meeting was attended by ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News and CNN, as well as MSNBC, NBC’s cable news arm.

The meeting was arranged by Conway, who served as Trump’s campaign manager for the final few months of the White House race. The conversation was deemed off-the-record, meaning the participants agreed not to publicly discuss its contents.

Trump regularly attacked the media throughout his campaign, calling it “corrupt” and labeling reporters as “outright liars.”

The billionaire has not yet held a press conference as president-elect, a longstanding tradition for America’s new leaders.

Serious / Hamilton Cast calls out Mike Pence
« on: November 19, 2016, 12:23:16 PM »

Word is that Pence listened to the statement in the halls before leaving the theater.

Serious / Trump vs Clinton's America
« on: November 16, 2016, 04:09:23 PM »
Thought this was interesting look at how the country voted last week. From the NYT:

This is what Trump's America would look like, with 85% of the land mass

And this is what Clinton's America would look like with 15% of the land mass

Serious / AMA So I was wrong
« on: November 09, 2016, 07:01:38 PM »
Ask me why I was wrong.

Serious / President Elect Donald J Trump (Official)
« on: November 07, 2016, 11:16:11 AM »
After nearly 18 months of campaigning, tomorrow (11/8) is the conclusion of the 2016 elections (and the start of the 2020 elections). Below are details on the campaigns final actions today and tomorrow, and once election data starts coming in, will be updated with electoral count, state data, etc.

November 8th - Election Day

Poll Closing Times

I'll update this throughout today and tomorrow with some more information. Feel free to ask any questions you have

Serious / Which Political Party is Weakest?
« on: November 04, 2016, 03:20:20 PM »
I was having this discussion the other night with a couple of people, and the general consensus seemed to be that the Republican Party is, arguably, the weaker of the two - that it would be the first to split off into smaller sects (Trump Republicans/Ryan Republicans/Paul Republicans), and has yet to heal divisions created during the Bush years.

But at the same time, the Democratic Party is facing it's own issues - namely that the coalition it's formed is fragmenting due to issues from the 2016 primary, and with no state wide candidates who can step up and take control, is likely to face similar issues as Republicans are now.

So yeah. Let's hear your thoughts

Serious / FBI Reopening Clinton Email Investigation
« on: October 28, 2016, 12:58:01 PM »

The FBI has reopened its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state, director James Comey said Friday.

“In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to this investigation,” Comey wrote in a letter to several House committee chairmen.

Comey was briefed on those emails on Thursday, he wrote, and said he “agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps” to “determine whether they include classified information” and otherwise “assess their importance to our investigation.”

He did not specify where the additional emails came from.

In July, Comey said the FBI was not recommending charges against Clinton, saying “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring such a case. But he did chastise her for being “extremely careless” in her handling of sensitive information. The controversy over Clinton’s use of the server, reported for the first time by The New York Times in March 2015, has dogged her presidential run since its beginning.

Comey wrote on Friday that the FBI does not yet know if the new material is “significant” and did not specify a timeframe for investigating.

The news comes less than two weeks before Election Day and has the potential to change the dynamic of the race, in which Clinton had pulled away from Donald Trump. The Clinton campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, immediately celebrated the news. "A great day in our campaign just got even better. FBI reviewing new emails in Clinton probe," Conway tweeted.

House Speaker Paul Ryan called the FBI's decision to reopen the case "long overdue." "Yes again, Hillary Clinton has nobody but herself to blame," he said in a statement. "She was entrusted with some of our nation's most important secrets, and she betrayed that trust by carelessly mishandling highly classified information."

The Letter to Congress Here

"In previous congressional testimony, I referred to the fact that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had completed its investigation of former Secretary Clinton's personal email server. Due to recent developments, I am writing to supplement my previous testimony," Comey wrote.

"In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation. I am writing to inform you that the investigative team briefed me on this yesterday, and I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation," he added.

"Although the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant, and I cannot predict how long it will take us to complete this additional work, I believe it is important to update your Committees about our efforts in light of my previous testimony,"

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