ProgressVirginia reported Tuesday afternoon that the Virginia Senate’s Privileges and Elections Committee killed Sen. Charles “Bill” Carrico Sr.’s electoral college-rigging bill, despite an offer by Carrico to amend the bill to award electors in proportion to the state’s popular vote. The vote was 11-4 against the bill, although it will not be official until the close of the committee meeting.
— Christopher Jones (@cjonesuva) January 19, 2017
Open thread below...
Late tonight, the New York Times reported that anonymous intelligence sources are confirming they've intercepted communications and financial transactions from Russia which may link Trump associates to Russian officials.
Paul Manafort is a focus, as is Carter Page and Roger Stone.
The counterintelligence investigation centers at least in part on the business dealings that some of the president-elect’s past and present advisers have had with Russia. Mr. Manafort has done business in Ukraine and Russia. Some of his contacts there were under surveillance by the National Security Agency for suspected links to Russia’s Federal Security Service, one of the officials said.
Mr. Manafort is among at least three Trump campaign advisers whose possible links to Russia are under scrutiny. Two others are Carter Page, a businessman and former foreign policy adviser to the campaign, and Roger Stone, a longtime Republican operative.
This may be the most chilling part of the entire report -- the reasons why they're leaking it now:
They Flamin' Groovies hardly ever get the due they deserve. They are one of the unsung forerunners of punk rock in their early years and later also became a big influence on what the world would refer to as power pop too.
The Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers album was released the same year as the Groovies Shake Some Action. In an interview at the time, Mick Jagger was asked what he thought of the similar approach to music both bands were taking. Allegedly, Mick said that between the two he thought the Flamin' Groovies did the better take on revisiting classic blues and rock 'n roll and putting it in a modern context than they did.
What are you listening to tonight?
Frothy Rick Santorum is one of the 'experts' CNN pays to pontificate on subjects like international intelligence gathering. More than a decade ago, he was famously fact-checked by Fox News in 2006 when he asserted that Iraq had WMDs-- good thing for Rick both Fox viewers and producers have very short memories.
Paul Begala and Chris Cuomo went toe to toe with him on whether the Kremlin has funded the efforts of Trump's coup of our Democracy. Ricky doesn't buy it. He 'works' with people in 'the cyber,' (like Barron Trump, perhaps?) and he knows better.
CUOMO: How come you were not equally upset by our incoming president sheltering Russia from responsibility for the hacks?
SANTORUM: Well, first off, the idea that Russia had an impact on the election because --
CUOMO: -- because you guys conflate those issues and I understand why it works for you, but it's a little intellectually --
SANTORUM: No, but first -- well, first off, I take issue and I've done this publicly and I'll continue to do it, that "Russia was responsible for hacks." First off, it wasn't a hack. It was a fishing expedition that landed --
CUOMO: Right, but there were other different hacks the Intelligence Community has consensus on. There's no diversions of opinion about who was motivating those hacks, who was channeling the information --
If we had needed a reason to disqualify Rick Perry from being President in 2012, we could have used this one. He didn't actually know what the Energy Department did then when he argued it should be abolished.
And now he is asking to be confirmed as the Secretary of Energy?
And the real tragedy is? He is the LEAST offensive of Trump's nominees. Not kidding.
During his opening statements at today's confirmation hearing to be the new Energy Secretary, former governor Rick Perry apologized for his past statements that called for "abolishing the Department of Energy" and he regrets "recommending its elimination."
Oh, how times have changed.
Gov Perry said, "If confirmed, my desire is to lead this agency in a thoughtful manner surrounding myself with the expertise on the core functions of the department. My past statements made over five years ago about abolishing the Department of Energy do not reflect my current thinking."
He continued, "In fact, after being briefed on some of the vital functions the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination. If confirmed, I will enter this role excited and passionate about advocating and advancing the core missions of the D.O.E., drawing greater attention to the vital role played by the agency and the hard working men and women who dedicate themselves in pursuit of these missions."
Isn't that nice of him?
No, it's not.
Al Franken, thanks for being you.
At the opening of his questions for Energy nominee Rick Perry, the Minnesota Senator indicated that the two had met earlier this week in Franken's office. Those pre-hearing meetings are common in confirmation procedures.
"Were you glad you met me?" said Franken.
[embed eid="22235" /]
Hey, who wouldn't be? But Perry isn't quite (?) as quick on his comedy feet as Franken, and he stepped in it.
"I hope you are as much fun on that dais as you were on your couch." said the former Texas governor.
[embed eid="22236" /]
Yeah moving on.
At least Perry acknowledged that he likely inspired a Saturday Night Live skit. He seems to have a much thicker skin and ability to self-mock than the President-elect. Sad!
It appears Sean Spicer, Trump's press secretary, is also doing double duty as the main talker for the president-elect, as well as being head of promotion for Trump's new hotel in D.C.
Pressure keeps mounting from everywhere except Trump-land on his multitude of conflicts of interest heading into the Oval office.
During his first press conference as press secretary, Spicer responded to questions about Donald Trump still visiting his D.C. hotel, and Spicer said, “To his own hotel, I think that’s pretty smart."
He continued, “I think the idea that he’s going to his own hotel shouldn’t be a shocker. It’s a beautiful place, it’s somewhere that he’s very proud of. And I think it’s symbolic of the kind of government that he’s going to run, on time under budget, excuse me, ahead of time and under budget.“
Spicer recited some numbers that nobody gives a rats-ass about with regards to Trump's D.C. hotel.
Spicer is now a carnival barker for the new Trump establishment. "He’s very proud, it’s an absolutely stunning hotel encourage you to go there if you haven’t been by.”
However, the media won't be able to go there as Politico says, "The Trump International Hotel in Washington is banning the media from its premises during inauguration week."
Senator Ron Johnson seems to be seeing the light with regard to the Republican strategy of yanking access to health care out from under millions of Americans.
In an interview with CNBC's Squawkbox, Johnson admitted that repeal was really only possible before the ACA was implemented.
Johnson said, "It's way more complex than simply 'repeal and replace.' That's a fun little buzzword, but it's just not accurate."
Oh. A Republican is concerned about accurate language. That's novel.
Had repeal been successful before the ACA was implemented, Johnson said it would have succeeded. But now, not so much. "You didn't have already the tentacles of Obamacare, you didn't already have the damage, the destruction, the harm created by Obamacare driving premiums up, distorting health-care markets and health-insurance markets," he said.
Lies about the impact of the ACA aside, he's right. Now that real people are getting real benefit from the law, it's quite difficult for them to carry out their diabolical plan.
So now, Johnson wants Democrats' help to fix it!
"My thought process is let's start working with Democrats, let's transition to a system that'll actually work that Democrats are talking about. They want to fix it, let's fix it for the benefit of the American public."
Well, I'm all for that. Here are a couple of suggestions for Senator Johnson to consider.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) on Thursday asserted that the general public would boycott Donald Trump's presidential inauguration if they had access to classified information about Russia's interference in the U.S. election.
During an interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo, Cummings explained that he would be attending the inauguration but he defended the more than 50 Democratic lawmakers who have vowed not to show up.
"You've got to understand that members of Congress have a lot of information that the public does not have," Cummings said. "And I can tell you over the last week or two, the classified briefings that I have been to, and if the public knew what members of Congress know..."
"Why don't they?" Cuomo interrupted. "If it's that important that it's going to make people not go to the inauguration... shouldn't people know?"
Cummings argued that Congress needed to move forward with an investigation into the role both Russia and FBI Director James Comey played in influencing the U.S. election so that more information could be released to the public.
Today's announcement that Donald Trump plans massive budget cuts to programs most Americans support is not surprising.
— Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) January 19, 2017
Trump team wants to privatize Corporation for Public Broadcasting and eliminate Nat’l Endowment for the Arts: https://t.co/dvmOMuZG0Y
— Mike, but furious (@mikerugnetta) January 19, 2017
4. Energy would be gutted mostly to please climate denialists; Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy & CO2 reduction programs all dead
— Jeff Yang (@originalspin) January 19, 2017
Here we stand.
Less than 24 hours until the inauguration of a man uniquely unqualified to hold high office in the history of this great nation. A man who, unlike any before him, has fought his way to the Presidency through lies, slander and outright graft. A man who has built himself up as a populist demagogue who is worshipped by his supporters, despite evidence of any wrongdoing.
When in the history of this Republic have we ever willfully elected a man who is unethical at best, and outright criminal at worst? Whose only thought is to defend his image and his ego - despite being played like a well tuned violin by an open adversary? When have we ever elected a man who puts the State of the Union and the security and welfare of the nation second to the perception that he was illegitimately elected?
This will be a sad day for the United States of America - and the death of a great Republic.
When you look at the way the Obamas are saying goodbye, it's easy to see they aren't going anywhere.
I was absolutely comforted by the not-at-all subtle tweet from the First Lady:
Thinking of Dr. King and great leaders like @repjohnlewis who carry on his legacy. May their example be our call to action. -mo
— The First Lady (@FLOTUS) January 16, 2017
Didja catch that?
And then there's President Obama's farewell Facebook post, which ends...
And when the arc of progress seems slow, remember: America is not the project of any one person. The single most powerful word in our democracy is the word 'We.' 'We the People.' 'We shall overcome.'
Yes, we can.
And if you'd like to stay connected, you can sign up here to keeping getting updates from me: https://act.barackobamafoundation.org/Keep-In-Touch
It's up to us to keep fighting. But we are not alone. Time to fight.
Republican Sen. Pat Roberts began his statements at Steve Mnuchin's confirmation hearing by making fun of Sen. Wyden and asked him if he wanted a 'Valium pill,' which was not taken kindly by Sen. Sherrod Brown.
After Sen. Wyden gave his opening remarks, Sen. Roberts said, "I just have an observation," He continued, "Senator Wyden, I've got a Valium pill here that you might want to take before the second round. Just a suggestion, sir."
Sen. Wyden was not amused and told him to move along, "We've got a lot of colleagues waiting. If you could be brief, it would be helpful."
Roberts replied, "I'm going to be very brief."
After a few seconds, Sen. Brown jumped in to blast Robert's idiotic comment and said, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chairman, I hope that that comment about Valium doesn't set the tone for 2017 in this committee. I like senator Roberts. but I just can't quite believe that he would say that to a distinguished Senator from Oregon."
Like all Trump surrogates, Sen. Roberts deflected and said, "I said that to the president of the United States at one point."
Sherrod replied, "Perhaps you did. I would hope that doesn't set the tone for the session."
(Order was lost and commotion followed)
Sherrod, "...the relationship we are building is so different from this. This is just outrageous."
Roberts replied, "I don't know about outrageous, but I think just a little pinprick of humor might help this committee from time to time, which I engage in -- I'm sorry if I have, you know, incurred your wrath."
Donald Trump will be president in one day, and in the area of national security his administration is simply not ready, Politico reports:
Sources close to the transition describe Trump’s national security staffing as a “black box,” leaving everyone from Obama administration officials to Trump job seekers and foreign diplomats guessing at who will land crucial positions shaping policy and managing crises.
Much of the speculation focuses on the [National Security Council]....
But the Trump team has also not yet announced any appointments below the Cabinet level for the departments of State or Defense, leaving many more important posts open days before Trump’s inauguration.
"This isn't getting attention it deserves. Who will run and implement policy? Right now there is a big vacuum," Max Boot, a military historian and fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, tweeted Tuesday....
“Unlike State, which can rely on its bureaucracy, the NSC has to be ready on Day One as most of its old team leaves,” said Philip Gordon, who held senior NSC jobs in the Obama and Clinton White Houses. “In a normal world, even before a single presidential phone call or meeting or decision the NSC team would prepare background, points, facts, etc. They will not have a team ready to do that.”
As a mouthpiece for the "pro-life" movement and the anti-feminist right wing, Fox News loathes feminism. These themes were prominently on display during yesterday's Outnumbered which bashed feminism and attacked the upcoming Women's March on Washington.
Cohost Meghan McCain began the segment with news that the Women's March organizers have dropped a "pro-life feminist group as an official sponsor." Her voice rose as she read an official statement from the organizers which assured partners and participants that, in keeping with the March's "Unity Principals," the March is pro-choice and as such, the anti-choice group is no longer a partner. McCain assured us that the anti-choice group is still "vowing to march" in order to, as stated by the anti-choice group, "stand up to the haters."
Y’all, Sid Miller, world renown purveyor of Fake News and proud of it, has done it again.
Claims by a Texas lawmaker that ‘illegal aliens attacked’ a hunting party have been dismissed as fake by a local sheriff who says the hunters fired on one another.
Texas Agricultural Commissioner Sid Miller used the alleged attack on a hunting party by ‘violent illegal immigrants’ as justification for why a wall must be built to secure the Texas border, in a January Facebook post.
Sid says it doesn’t matter diddle squat if he puts false information on his Facebook page, fanning the fears and hatred of all things he doesn’t like, because he’s not a “news source.” He says you should go to his Facebook page and figure out for yourself whether something is real or made-up. Do you think he’s got time to do your research for you? Do you think he can use the Google machine? Well, he can’t, so get over it. That whole “Responsible Adult” thing is something liberals made up.
Anyway, Danny Dominguez, the Presidio County Sheriff, who is a man you really don’t want to mess with, says that Miller’s story was false and smilingly added …
‘The agriculture commissioner needs to do his job and stick to that, and I’ll do my job. You tell him I said that.’
ACLU Blog: Why Are DC Police Keeping Their Body Cameras Off During Inauguration and the Women’s March?
The Big Empty: It's A Simple Question, Tom Price
Ian Welsh: What Can You Do In These Troubled Times? (Spoiler: Step 1 is 'acknowledge death' which is not nearly so depressing as it sounds.)
Round up by Frances Langum / Blue Gal of The Professional Left Podcast. Yes, we'll have a show up on Friday.
Sent tips to MBRU (at) crooksandliars (dot) com.
President Obama's opening statement of his last press conference sounded like a call to action and in the words of some, an "extended subtweet" of Donald Trump and how the press handles him.
Transcript via Media Matters:
I have enjoyed working with all of you. That does not of course mean that I've enjoyed every story that you have filed, but that's the point of this relationship. You're not supposed to be sycophants, you're supposed to be skeptics, you're suppose to ask me tough questions, you're not suppose to be complimentary, but you're supposed to cast a critical eye on folks who hold enormous power and make sure that we are accountable to the people who sent us here and you have done that. And you have done it for the most part in ways that I could appreciate for fairness even if I didn't always agree with your conclusions.
And having you in this building has made this work place better. It keeps us honest, makes us work harder. You have made us think about how we are doing what we do and whether or not we're able to deliver on what's been requested by our constituents, and for example, every time you asked why haven't you cured Ebola yet or why is there still that hole in the Gulf it has given me the ability to go back to my team and say "will you get this solved before the next press conference."
Former Iowa state senator Kent Sorenson was sentenced to 15 months for a scheme which saw him changing his endorsement from Michele Bachmann to Ron Paul just before the 2012 Republican Caucus in Iowa , and collecting a cool $73,000 in the process. Not so cool was the 15 month sentence he received for his actions.
The sentence was a surprising one, as Sorenson had been cooperating with Federal authorities, and both prosecution and defense had agreed on probation and community service. District Judge Robert Pratt had other ideas though, calling Sorenson's actions "the very definition of political corruption."
MILO, Iowa — A former state senator convicted for his part in a scheme to cover up payments he received in exchange for his endorsement of presidential candidates is lashing out at critics.
Kent Sorenson, of Milo, took to Facebook to apologize for his actions, ask for help for his family as he prepares to serve his 15-month prison sentence and defend his family. Sorenson wrote:
While I am well aware that many are gleeful for this day...
I would like to take a moment to address you. Feel free to lob all the insults and criticism you would like towards me. I was the elected official, I was the one that aired[sic] and I was the one that made the choices I did.