12 Russian Indictments For Hacking Clinton Campaign: How Much Did Trump Know?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE LOS ANGLES TIMES NEWSPAPER)

 

Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein outlines a new indictment Friday against alleged Russian hacks into Hillary Clinton campaign accounts.
Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein outlines a new indictment Friday against alleged Russian hacks into Hillary Clinton campaign accounts. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

Then-candidate Donald J. Trump said he was just joking in July 2016 when he called on Russia to “find the 30,000 emails” that Hillary Clinton had not turned over to State Department investigators, ostensibly because they were personal correspondence and not government business.

Now that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has obtained indictments against 12 Russian intelligence officers in connection with hacking into multiple Clinton campaign-related email accounts in the four previous months, it puts Trump’s comments in a different light.

The indictment alleges that the Russian agents broke into accounts for the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and various volunteers and employees at Clinton’s campaign — including the email account of her campaign chairman, John Podesta. It goes into some detail on how it identified the responsible parties, adding weight to the allegations.

The agents are not accused of hacking Clinton’s private email server, which isn’t surprising. Although former FBI director James Comey said in 2016 that the server could have been hacked by a hostile government, FBI investigators later told the agency’s inspector general that they were “fairly confident” the server was not compromised.

Regardless, emails taken from the DNC account started leaking in June 2016 at the site DCLeaks, then the following month from WikiLeaks. A hacker using the moniker Guccifer 2.0 — later linked by security experts to Russia — claimed credit for the leaks, but others did too, leaving the culprits unclear. Bear in mind that much of the discussion of the leaks centered on the DNC’s apparent favoritism for Clinton over her main rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). So while there were suspicions about Russia, the precise motives behind the leaks were hard to divine.

That’s the backdrop for Trump’s remarks. And now one has to wonder, just how much did he know about what Russia was actually doing?

In an editorial The Times ran shortly after Trump’s remarks, we noted the spin applied by Trump’s campaign:

“A spokesman for the Trump campaign later insisted that ‘Mr. Trump did not call on, or invite, Russia or anyone else to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails.’ Instead, Jason Miller suggested, Trump was saying the Russians already had the data because Clinton’s server wasn’t secure.”

Or maybe Trump was saying the Russians probably had the data because he knew they’d grabbed so much else from Clinton’s campaign.

The White House responded with a statement from Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters: “Today’s charges include no allegations of knowing involvement by anyone on the campaign and no allegations that the alleged hacking affected the election result. This is consistent with what we have been saying all along.”

Umm, Roger Stone?

Democratic Socialists of America Membership Surges

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘DAILY BEAST’ NEWS)

 

ON THE RISE?

Democratic Socialists of America Membership Surges After Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Stunning Victory

The day after the self-described democratic socialist unseated a long-serving Democratic congressman on Tuesday, DSA experienced a membership surge 35 times larger than normal.

The ramifications of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s stunning primary defeat of longtime Queens Democratic boss and Congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY) extend well beyond the confines of Capitol Hill.

The 28-year-old member of Democratic Socialists of America—who shockingly won in New York’s 14th congressional district on a leftist platform of Medicare for Allabolishing ICE, and a federal jobs guarantee—inspired a major boost in membership for the organization on Wednesday.

According to Lawrence Dreyfuss, a program associate for DSA, the organization saw a surge of 1,152 new memberships on Wednesday—about 35 times more sign-ups than on an average day.

The last major membership bump DSA experienced was in the month following President Trump’s election, during which time they had about six times more sign-ups than in the previous month.

DSA has undergone a renaissance of sorts in the Trump era, ballooning in size from some 5,000 members in November 2016 to 40,000 nationwide.

The left-wing group’s growth has been attributed in part to broader resistance to the new administration and wider acceptability of the “democratic socialist” label championed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

“The people of NY-14 demanded more from its representative than empty promises and deep pockets,” Christian Bowe of DSA’s National Political Committee said after Ocasio’s win. “We’re proud of this victory, and we know this is only one of many more to come.”

DSA members themselves had begun winning elections, primarily on the state level, prior to Ocasio-Cortez. Among those who’ve achieved political success in the past year are Lee Carter, elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2017, and Summer Lee and Sara Innamorato, who both defeated long-term incumbent Democrats in Pennsylvania.

Trump Blames Own Border Policy on Democrats

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FACTCHECK.ORD)

 

Trump Blames Own Border Policy on Democrats


President Donald Trump wrongly blamed Democrats for a Trump administration policy that will separate parents and their young children caught entering the U.S. illegally.

“We have to break up families,” Trump claimed, because of “bad laws that the Democrats gave us.” But there is no such law. Instead, it’s the administration’s decision to criminally prosecute all immigrants who cross the border illegally that will cause children to be separated from their parents.

In early May, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen directed her department to refer all unauthorized immigrants who cross the U.S. border to federal prosecutors. It’s in accordance with the Department of Justice’s new “zero tolerance” policyon illegal immigration at the Southwest border.

Parents would be sent to federal court under the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and then placed in a detention center, according to a DHS spokesperson. Their children, minors who cannot be housed in a detention center for adults, would be transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services for placement in a juvenile facility or foster care if they have no other adult relative in the U.S. who can take them in.

“It is the government’s choice whether to criminally prosecute someone for illegal entry or reentry,” Theresa Cardinal Brown, director of immigration and cross-border policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C., told us.

Trump made his remarks at a White House meeting on so-called “sanctuary city” policies in California. He told Nielsen, who was in attendance, that Democrats were responsible for the “tough” situation involving immigrant families.

Trump, May 16: I know what you’re going through right now with families is very tough. But those are the bad laws that the Democrats gave us. We have to break up families. The Democrats gave us that law. It’s a horrible thing. We have to break up families.

The Democrats gave us that law and they don’t want to do anything about it. They’ll leave it like that because they don’t want to make any changes. And now you’re breaking up families because of the Democrats. It’s terrible.

Since at least the administration of George W. Bush, a Republican president, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has held many parents and children who crossed the border seeking asylum in family detention centers. Those families have been kept together until they go before an immigration judge or are formally removed from the U.S.

Prior to that, “family units were hardly ever detained, but rather processed and released with a notice to appear at immigration court, especially if they met the credible fear of persecution criteria for a claim to asylum,” according to the Bipartisan Policy Center, a think tank that promotes bipartisan policy solutions.

So, to what Democratic law is Trump referring?

A White House spokesman referred us to a DHS statement regarding a 1997 legal settlement and 2008 antitrafficking law affecting minors who are apprehended without a parent present:

  • Under the 1997 settlement, DHS could detain unaccompanied children captured at the border for only 20 days before releasing them to foster families, shelters or sponsors, pending resolution of their immigration cases. The settlement was later expanded through other court rulings to include both unaccompanied and accompanied children.
  • The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 requires unaccompanied minors from countries other than Mexico and Canada to be placed in the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, or relatives in the U.S., while they go through removal proceedings. The bipartisan bill was approved by unanimous consent and signed by Bush.

(We wrote about both when Trump also wrongly faulted Democrats for the so-called “catch and release” policy that allows some immigrants caught in the U.S. without proper documentation to be released back into the U.S. while they await an immigration court hearing. See “FactChecking Trump’s Immigration Tweets” for more details.)

But neither the court settlement nor the 2008 law require the Trump administration to “break up families.”

They require the government to release children from custody after a certain period of detainment, said Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute. But they don’t require that parents continue to be held in immigration detention.

“The government absolutely has the option to release the parents,” as well, Pierce said. That’s as long as they aren’t a flight or safety risk, she added.

Brown, of the Bipartisan Policy Center, said the Trump administration’s decision to bring criminal charges against the parents — rather than follow the civil removal process — will result in children being separated from their parents.

“It is the government’s choice whether to criminally prosecute someone for illegal entry or reentry,” Brown wrote in an email to FactCheck.org. “That is the quintessential definition of ‘prosecutorial discretion.’”

“Historically, most immigrants were not prosecuted, even when the law allowed for it, they were simply removed in civil proceedings,” she said. “The significant uptick in criminal prosecution began under President George W. Bush, and continued through the early Obama administration.”

U.S Attorney General Jeff Sessions outlined the new enforcement actions on May 7.

“If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple,” Sessions said. “If you smuggle illegal aliens across our border, then we will prosecute you. If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law.”

Because minors cannot be kept in jails for adults, children would be separated from parents charged with committing a crime, Brown explained. Children would then be considered unaccompanied minors and turned over to the refugee resettlement office.

In fact, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who was Homeland Security secretary before Nielsen, indicated in March 2017 that DHS was considering splitting up parents and children as a strategy to deter other families from illegally immigrating to the U.S.

Other administration officials — including Nielsen and ICE’s top official, Thomas Homan — have since denied that is the intent.

“I want to be clear. DHS does not have a blanket policy on separating families as a deterrent,” Homan, reportedly said at the press event with Sessions. “Every law enforcement agency in this country separates parents from children when they’re arrested for a crime. There is no new policy. This has always been the policy. Now, you will see more prosecutions because of the attorney general’s commitment to zero tolerance.”

Even so, the decision to prosecute all offenders is one that was made by the current administration. It is not a law that “Democrats gave us,” as Trump said.

Share The Facts
Donald Trump
President of the United States
“We have to break up families” entering the country illegally, because of “bad laws that the Democrats gave us.”

Kentucky: Veteran Amy McGrath continues a Democratic winning streak for women and veterans

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF VOX NEWS)

 

Veteran Amy McGrath continues a Democratic winning streak for women and veterans

McGrath, a first time candidate, beat Lexington Mayor Jim Gray in a Kentucky House primary race.

Courtesy of McGrath campaign

Insurgent candidate Amy McGrath, a retired Marine fighter pilot, pulled off an upset victory in a Democratic primary House race in Kentucky on Tuesday night, defeating the party establishment candidate.

McGrath emerged from a three-person race in Kentucky’s Sixth District, beating her main challenger Lexington Mayor Jim Gray. The race was called around 8 pm, with McGrath winning with 46 percent of the vote, compared to Gray’s 42.3 percent. Gray, a millionaire who ran for US Senate against Rand Paul in 2016, had the backing of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

McGrath was born in Kentucky but only recently returned to the state; she spent the past couple decades serving in the Marine Corps as a fighter pilot. With help from a viral campaign announcement video highlighting her years of military service, McGrath went from an outsider and first-time candidate with no name recognition to the Democratic nominee.

Throughout the campaign, McGrath positioned herself as a change agent, part of a new generation of young candidates and Congress members, and touted her lack of political experience — the very thing her opponents attacked her for.

“Recruiting the same types of big-city, older millionaires is not the future,” McGrath said in a January interview with Vox. “Especially in the Democratic Party, we cannot keep relying on a staple of rich white people, old men, to save the Democratic Party.”

But McGrath’s opponents attacked her outsider status as evidence that she didn’t know the district she was running in. Having recently moved to Kentucky from the DC area, McGrath struggled to name the counties of three rural communities when asked about them at a debate.

In the run-up to Tuesday night, Gray’s campaign released its first negative ad about McGrath, hitting her for moving back to the state to run.

Ally Mutnick

@allymutnick

SIREN: @JimGrayCongress is airing 1st negative ad of the race, hitting @AmyMcGrathKY as a carpetbagger ahead of Tuesday’s primary

“Now she’s running for Congress to represent the one place she’s never lived: here,” a narrator says on the ad. “In fact, she moved here from Maryland just last year to run for Congress. We honor Amy McGrath’s service, but shouldn’t she live here for a while before she tries to represent us?”

The ad immediately received pushback from veterans groups like VoteVets and some sitting members of Congress who are veterans, such as Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA).

“You can elevate yourself, but don’t attack another Dem,” Lieu tweeted. “One reason @AmyMcGrathKY lived in a different place is because she was serving our nation in Afghanistan & Iraq flying F-18 combat missions. Stop attacking her military service. Take your ad down.”

Ted Lieu

@tedlieu

Dear @JimGrayCongress: You can elevate yourself, but don’t attack another Dem.

One reason @AmyMcGrathKY lived in a different place is because she was serving our nation in Afghanistan & Iraq flying F-18 combat missions.

Stop attacking her military service. Take your ad down. https://twitter.com/votevets/status/997660601886429191 

Gray’s ad demonstrated another thing: In the last few weeks of a race that was supposed to be an easy win for him, the Lexington mayor saw McGrath as a serious competitor.

McGrath now faces Republican Andy Barr, and she’ll likely have help from national Democrats

Even though things started out tense between McGrath and national Democrats, this likely won’t be another Laura Moser oppo memo situation in Texas. McGrath wasn’t happy with the DCCC for backing Gray early on; her campaign had also been in talks with the organization before they added Gray to their Red to Blue list.

“It’s disappointing to me that they would do that, especially after the talk of them wanting more veterans and more women, and more first-time candidates,” she told me in January. “To have done that, it kind of shows you the real disconnect between the national Democratic Party and places like Kentucky. And the key is, we have forgotten, as a party, how to win the Midwest and the South.”

Even after the McGrath campaign’s initial furor at the DCCC backing Gray, National Journal’s Ally Mutnick reported the campaign has kept in regular contact with the DCCC to show them internal polling numbers that had McGrath ahead of Gray.

McGrath has also shown herself to be a very capable fundraiser; she’s raised about $2 million as of May, as opposed to the $1.3 million Gray raised (although Gray still had more cash on hand).

In other words, even as McGrath positioned herself as the outsider candidate, she was making sure to keep up a good relationship with national Democrats, whose support she’ll need in order to triumph over Barr in the fall.

The ultimate test in November comes down to whether McGrath can convince Trump voters to cast their ballots for her instead of Barr. The district leans Republican, and many of its rural counties voted for the current president in 2016. But it contains 100,000 more registered Democratic voters. In other words, it’s prime Trump country.

Barr will face a tough election no matter what. Democrats have already mounted credible challenges to him in past years but fell short on fundraising. That’s different this year. McGrath and Gray fundraised millions between the two of them in the primary; they have real fundraising chops. Barr will also have to defend his votes for Obamacare repeal and GOP tax cuts.

Now she’s made it through the primary, McGrath is betting that her anti-establishment brand will carry her to Washington in an election year that’s shaping up to be a Democratic wave.

So, Trump Is Mad At The FBI For Them Doing Their Job, Are You Mad At Them Too?

So, Trump Is Mad At The FBI For Them Doing Their Job, Are You Mad At Them Too?

 

I am not a fan of Donald Trump nor am I a fan of Hillary Clinton, personally I believe that these two should have gotten married, they are just alike. In November of 2016 we the people of the U.S. knew going in to election day that we were all going to end up with an habitual liar as our next President, the only question was, male of female. I have no doubts at all that both of these people as well as several of the people who are close to them are nothing but liars and crooks. It is my personal belief that Hillary, Bill, Donald, Donald Jr, Erick, Jarred Kushner and Ivanka should all be forced to live out the rest of their lives in one 4×8 jail cell in the basement of Leavenworth Prison in Kansas. In that last election I voted for the third-party candidate Gary Johnson, not because I thought that he could win, I never even knew what he said he stands for, I just couldn’t drag myself to have to say that I voted for Donald or for Hillary.

 

Now to the main part of this article. As most everyone who lives here in the States probably knows President Trump is very mad at the FBI because he strongly feels that they should never ever have been investigating reported crimes being committed during the election cycle by himself and his indentured whores. Yet he does feel that they should have been investigating crimes he says that the Hillary Campaign were/are guilty of. I have no doubt that Hillary and her campaign committed many federal, state and local crimes, yet Trump feels that his campaign should get a free pass from the FBI for their crimes. It appears to me that Donald and his henchmen committed about every election crime that is possible to be committed including treason with several foreign and even hostile governments. Personally I would be very upset if the FBI and several of the other ‘Policing Agency’s’ weren’t still investigating Hillary and Donald’s crimes, after all, that is their job! How do you feel about this issue? Should the FBI just give political campaigns a free hand to do any thing with anyone no matter how many laws they are breaking?I still strongly believe that the Special Council should be working hard on ‘the money trail’ and this would include the filed taxes of these fore mentioned players. Remember, Donald still has not made his taxes public, there is a reason for his lies on this matter. On just one issue, one business, his golf club in Ma-largo Florida shows how crooked his is and how willing he is to commit tax fraud. He tells his visitors and golfing buddies that this business is worth over a 100 million dollars yet when he filed his property taxes on it he reported that it was only worth 1 million dollars so that he would only have to pay 1% of the taxes due. Folks, almost all of the houses around this club are valued at more than one million dollars. Donald, just like Hillary, is nothing but a fraud a thief and a liar and he should be in prison, not the Oval Office!

Being A Moderate In Extremist America

Being A Moderate In Extremist America

 

I am going to use this first paragraph to try to qualify to you where I stand on a few issues facing every person in America and in deed I think in every country. Personally I am a fundamentalist Christian but by no means am I a perfect person and I do not expect anyone else to be able to be perfect either. Politically I consider myself to be a moderate conservative. In a perfect world I would probably line up behind the ‘Tea Party’ on most issues, but we do not live in a perfect world here in America nor anywhere else. I consider the Tea Party to be the extreme right-wing of the Republican Party so much so that the Conservative Republican base considers them to be extremist. Personally I believe that the Tea Party should be expelled from the Republican Party forcing them to run as a third Party. The Democratic Party has this same type of issue if you consider their Party to all be a bunch of liberals even to the point of people like Senator Bernie Sanders who is really an Independent as he is far to ‘the left’ of the Democratic platform. I believe that Senator Sanders who is a ‘Independent’ should split from the Democratic Party and that he should run as an Independent in the next Presidential election.

 

Here in the state of Kentucky registered Independents can not exercise our Constitutional right to vote in the ‘primary season’, this is how it was when we lived in the state of Florida also. Yet when the main elections roll around in November both Party’s vigorously court the ‘Independent’ voters. During the 2012 Presidential elections Republican Mitt Romney made the comment about ‘48%’ of the voting public whom he had no chance to woo over to his side of the divide and the American Media railed against him for that comment even though he was correct in that evaluation. There are about 48% of the Democratic electorate who would rather not vote at all than to vote for a Republican. There is a flip side to this equation though, there are about 48% of the voters who vote Republican that would never vote for a Democrat. This leaves about 4% of Independent voters that the election is all about, whoever gets the majority of us Independents wins the Presidency. The term that has been used a lot in the Media for this situation is the ‘polarization’ of America.

 

Here in America the people of our country gripe a lot about how the politicians in DC never seem to get anything positive accomplished and I believe this is a fair belief. The Democratic leadership forces their members to vote a ‘far left’ agenda and the Republican leadership forces their members to vote to a ‘far right’ agenda. This reality means that nothing constructive ever gets done. There is also the issue that each Party wants all the credit on a bill if it is something that is actually a positive issue, they both vehemently do not want to share any ‘credit’ with the other Party. Because of these Politicians being so pious and egotistical they are destroying America from the inside and it is obvious that they really don’t care about the American people as a whole.

 

I am going to use my Father-in-law as an example of non-thinkers, (sorry Dad). He is a Tea Party type of believer, he hates all Unions and believes that America would be better off if there were no Unions at all, he thinks they are destroying our Country. He hates the Democrats and he wants the Republican agenda’s to be made law. Yet he is like most folks who believe that the Congress is a do nothing Congress. He doesn’t want to compromise on the issues yet he wants the Congress to get off their butts and get our Country moving again. Where Dad and I differ is that even though I wish the Country was living in a true Christian manner I know that this is not going to happen until after the Tribulation. In the mean time we must compromise with each other by working toward the middle and get at least some things accomplished for the good of the people (the Country). By the way, to my wife and I Dad’s position on Unions is really flawed, this is because he retired from two different Union Factories. Because these two factories were Union he now survives financially from two different retirement checks he gets each month. If it wasn’t for those Unions he and his wife would be in the poor-house or having to live in our basement.

 

I call myself a moderate conservative because I know that the Tea Party agenda has no chance of happening. I want to make mention that I am not a fan of everything the Tea Party leaders want as not everything they want would be something that would qualify as “Christ like” policies. I believe that if the Politicians do not get off of their ‘high horses’ they are either going to destroy our Country or the people are going to rise up and destroy these pious bought and paid for frauds. Personally, I am a fan of the NRA even though I do not like some of their policies, for example I believe that ten-round clips are big enough as long as the amount of clips and bullets a person can own should have no limits. Personally I am for many things that the Democratic Party wants to pass into law just as I am for many things the Republican Party stands for. The issue is that I am also against many things that both Party’s want to pass into law. We as a people must wake up and learn to work with each other or we as a Country are going to implode.

 

Watch Out, Ted Cruz. Beto is Coming

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Watch Out, Ted Cruz. Beto is Coming.

Image
Beto O’Rourke at Natachee’s Supper ’n Punch restaurant in Houston.CreditBryan Schutmaat for The New York Times

HOUSTON — Count me among the swelling ranks of the infatuated. I, too, have been Beto-struck.

I have seen the alternative to Ted Cruz — Lord knows we need an alternative to Ted Cruz — and he’s a peppy, rangy, toothy progressive with ratios of folksiness to urbanity and irreverence to earnestness that might well have been cooked up in some political laboratory. Could that formula enable Representative Beto O’Rourke, a Texas Democrat, to wrest Cruz’s seat in the Senate from him in November?

By now you’ve probably heard of Beto — seemingly no one calls him by his surname — and that in and of itself is a marvel. When else has a long-shot Senate candidate with no prior celebrity drawn so much coverage? He has been the subject of lengthy profiles in The Times, The Washington Post, Politico, Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair, which bestowed upon him the mightiest political adjective of them all: “Kennedyesque.”

He even appeared last month on Bill Maher’s HBO show, generating headlines with his response to Maher’s characterization of Cruz.

“Don’t forget,” Maher said, “he’s a giant asshole.”

“That’s true,” Beto concurred.

It was a naughty swerve from his usual niceness, and over lunch in Houston on Thursday, he told me that he regretted it.

“I think I was just moving the conversation along,” Beto said. “Anyhow, I don’t think that Ted Cruz is an asshole.”

“You don’t?” I asked, incredulous.

“I certainly don’t think that publicly,” he answered.

Cruz is a rare and precious gift. He’s so loathed that any passable Democrat with a picayune chance of toppling him was bound to draw more attention and inspire more hope than the political dynamics warranted. While President Trump’s unpopularity endangers his party’s incumbents far and wide and Texas may indeed be getting bluer, the state has been very red for very long. The last time a Democrat won statewide office was 24 years ago.

But Beto is more than passable. Many of his campaign events are mobbed. People line up for selfies and then insist on hugs.

Image
Beto O’Rourke at a town hall meeting at the University of Houston on Thursday.CreditBryan Schutmaat for The New York Times

He’s raising money like mad. Last week he disclosed that in the first quarter of 2018 he took in $6.7 million, bringing his total haul to $13.2 million, which handily outpaces Cruz and is more than any Texas Democrat running for the Senate ever amassed. All of that cash came from individuals. He has sworn off money from PACs.

“Even the most skeptical person has to acknowledge that there’s something going on here,” Jim Henson, the director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, told me. “But is it something that can overcome the deep hole that any Democratic candidate in this state is in?”

Beto’s answer to those odds is an oddball campaign. This has freed him to be freewheeling. He has no speechwriter, because he never speaks from a fixed script. He has no pollster, because he’s not going by polls.

“No political consultant worth their salt would allow us to go to college campuses, because young people don’t vote,” he told a group of Latino leaders during a meeting on Thursday that I accompanied him to. “That’s why we don’t have a political consultant.”

His next event, in fact, was at the University of Houston.

He was driving himself from stop to stop in a rented red Dodge Caravan. There was a banana and bag of nuts beside him; his two campaign aides — the entirety of his traveling entourage — huddled with their smartphones in the back. “Their highest value in the car is cranking on stuff,” he told me. The steering and navigation could be left to him.

His Facebook followers already know this, because he does Facebook Live streams of much of his day, recounting all manner of tedium. Midday Wednesday he filled in followers on an electricity mishap during a convenience-store bathroom break. “I’m in the stall,” he recalled. “The lights are cut. Pitch black. I just freeze.”

On Thursday night, viewers beheld the action-packed minutes of him refueling the Caravan. “Our purchase came to $44.45,” he narrated. “Your contributions literally go into the gas tank.”

In late January, he did a 24-hour Facebook Live beginning with a run with several hundred supporters at dawn and continuing through a chat with all-night street cleaners. (When he had to shower or such, his wife, Amy, kept viewers engaged.)

I asked him why.

“How do I get your attention?” he answered. “You’ve seen politics before. You’ve seen the well-produced ads where I’m holding my wife’s hand and our kids are running down a hillside. You’re sick of that. How do I honor what’s going on now? Politics are changing dramatically. People are really looking for the most transparent, honest, direct way to connect with one another. And we’re going to find it.”

Beto, 45, lives in El Paso, grew up there and has spent most of his life in Texas, apart from college at Columbia University, where he majored in English. He and Amy have three children, ages 7, 9 and 11. He started a small technology company before he served on the El Paso City Council and then in Congress.

That background has somehow given him enough material that whenever a voter asks him a question — about health care or school safety or the treatment of veterans — he’s able to draw on some personal anecdote. After a town hall meeting on Thursday, two of the attendees whom I interviewed separately used the same adjective to praise him: “Relatable.”

He hits so many right notes that it’s eerie. During campaign swings last summer, when school was out, the family camped out at night in state parks. His two youngest kids learned all the words to George Strait’s “Amarillo by Morning” before an event in Amarillo, which they opened with an a cappella rendition.

He’s quick to validate voters’ ill will toward federal lawmakers, and he said, during that town hall, that only 9 percent of Americans approve of Congress. “You know that communism has an approval rating of 10 percent,” he added. “Chlamydia is at 8 percent. So Congress is in the sweet spot. But watch out! The chlamydia lobby is working it hard and they are going to move up and surpass Congress soon.”

But he’s also careful to praise his colleagues in the House. “There’s so much talent in the Democratic caucus,” he told me, “from Joaquin Castro to Cheri Bustos to Joe Kennedy to Hakeem Jeffries.” In that one seemingly off-the-cuff sentence, he managed to include a fellow Texan, a storied dynasty, both genders and multiple regions and races.

He talks about fried catfish one second, James Joyce the next. (The older of his two sons is named Ulysses.) He’s fluent in classic punk rock and contemporary country. He’s fluent in Spanish, too.

He’s clear about his beliefs that health care should be guaranteed, marijuana should be legal, Trump should be impeached and the border wall is ridiculous. That puts him to the left of many Texans. But he’s just as voluble about his exhausting effort to visit every county in Texas, including the most staunchly conservative ones, and about the need for people of all political stripes to be respected.

Beto is more than the anti-Cruz. He’s a political fable, holding out the happy if far-fetched possibility that a candidate’s effervescence matters more than a state’s partisan breakdown and that gumption beats any focus group.

“People are watching,” he told his town hall audience. “If we win this race in the right way, I guarantee you, it is going to change politics in the United States going forward.”

I invite you to follow me on Twitter (@FrankBruni) and join me on Facebook.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion), and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page SR3 of the New York edition with the headline: Watch Out, Ted Cruz. Beto is Coming.. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

The Bill And The B.S.

The Bill And The B.S.

 

So the Politicians in Washington were actually able to work together enough to get a Budget Bill passed, congrats to them on this achievement. Yet We The People have the right to say to those folks that it is about damn time you did something that wasn’t bi-polar! Example being, we see and realize that as soon as a Bill is passed, any Bill, right away you get party spin about any good things that your party liked or didn’t. Trouble is most anything ever passed, and very little is passed, is all one Party sided. Personally my political views are independent of either Party and personally I believe that most people are. We often end up voting for, if we vote at all or even register for that matter, the one we consider to be the least of the two evils. I agree with neither Party Platform, some of the things that the Democrats are for, I am for. But also I am against some of their views, just as I am with the Republicans and some of their views. Until the liberal left of the Democratic Party and the far right of the Republican Party begin to hold only a little sway within their own leaderships will the individual Representative be unhindered to vote their own and their voters own conscience.

They are (mostly all) full of it and we the public are so sick of all of them (almost all). I am sick of both party leaderships. It is they that always put so much interior pressure on the people that we voted into office. I voted for my Kentucky Congressman and Senator, I did not vote for their party leaders to dictate to them how they vote. I did not vote for an New York or the California Representative, and no one should have the power to dictate to them how they will vote on any issue, except the voter who voted them in. Then, we would have a democracy where the people rule, not some tiny Round Table with only five or six Players.

Trump won’t release Democratic memo, sends back to committee

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

(Donald is ‘FAKE NEWS’ Trump shows is cowardliness, again!)(trs)

Trump won’t release Democratic memo, sends back to committee

(CNN)President Donald Trump won’t release the Democratic rebuttal to the Republican intelligence memo alleging FBI abuses of its surveillance authority at this time, and has sent it back to the House Intelligence Committee for changes.

In a letter to the committee, White House counsel Donald McGahn said, “although the President is inclined to declassify the February 5th Memorandum, because the Memorandum contains numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages, he is unable to do so at this time.”
Trump had said earlier Friday he planned to release the memo.
“It’s gonna be released soon,” Trump told reporters at the White House, adding, “We’re going to release a letter.”
The House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously on Monday to release the 10-page Democratic memo, and the committee rules gave Trump five days to decide whether to block or allow its release.
The memo from Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the committee, was written to rebut the Republican memo released one week prior, which accuses the FBI of suppressing Democratic ties to an opposition research dossier on Trump and Russia used in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant for former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page.
Schiff and other Democrats charge that the Republican memo led by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes of California is misleading and omits key facts, including that the FISA application did state that ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, the author of the dossier, was paid by a political entity.
“The Democratic response sets out the material facts that were necessary for the public to see that the FBI acted properly in seeking a FISA warrant on Carter Page,” Schiff said in a statement. “After promising to treat the Democratic response in precisely the same way, the White House now seeks to have the Democratic memo sent back to committee and revised by the same Majority that produced the flawed Nunes document to begin with.”
The White House included a letter signed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray that says they have identified portions of the Democratic memo that would raise national security or law enforcement concerns if released publicly.
Trump cited concerns from the Justice Department and FBI in his objection to releasing the Democratic memo. But Trump ignored those concerns when he decided to release the Republican memo last week — despite the FBI releasing a rare statement to say the Nunes memo omitted key information and the Justice Department raising “grave concerns” about its release without proper review.
Trump’s objection puts the committee in uncharted waters, as the committee used an obscure rule that had never been invoked before to vote to release both memos.
The White House allowed the Nunes memo to be made public. But with the objection to the Democratic memo, there is a procedure available to the House to override the objection and make it public anyway.
That would require a vote of the full House after a rare debate in closed session for the full chamber.
But it’s not clear whether Republicans will be willing to take that step, and the GOP committee members were hesitant about defying Trump on the memo earlier this week.
At the committee’s Monday meeting where it voted to release the memo, Nunes expressed concerns that the Democratic memo went further than the Republican document in disclosing sources and methods.
“This memo contains a large volume of classified information, including some touching on sources and methods heightening the potential damage to national security,” Nunes said.
Schiff said he gave his memo to the Justice Department and FBI so they could review for national security concerns in addition to just a White House review, as he expressed concerns there would be “political redactions” to the memo.
“In order to rebut the errors, omissions and distortions in the Republican-drafted memo, we have included certain details beyond the revelations made public by the release of the majority’s document,” Schiff said.
Democrats immediately cried foul at the decision to send the Democratic memo back to the committee.
“The President’s double standard when it comes to transparency is appalling,” Sen. Chuck Schumer said in a statement. “The rationale for releasing the Nunes memo, transparency, vanishes when it could show information that’s harmful to him. Millions of Americans are asking one simple question: what is he hiding?”

Waivers of Gun Rights: A New Shot at Gun Repression

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NRA-ILA)

 

Waivers of Gun Rights: A New Shot at Gun Repression

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FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2018

Waivers of Gun Rights: A New Shot at Gun Repression

Lawmakers in California must have temporarily exhausted their store of ideas for legislating against law-abiding gun enthusiasts. After years of padding the bureaucracy with ever more complicated rules, restrictions and bans for people who legally own and enjoy guns, lawmakers are now considering a measure to strike a preemptive declaration against gun ownership.

The California bill, AB 1927, introduced by Assembly Member Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, directs the state’s Department of Justice to “develop and launch a secure Internet-based platform to allow a person who resides in California to voluntarily add his or her own name to the California Do Not Sell List.” This list would be uploaded to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), meaning the system would affect a person’s ability to acquire a firearm not just in California, but anywhere in the country.

On registering, a person has the option of providing the state with the names and email addresses of up to five contacts, who have the right to be notified as soon as the registrant seeks a restoration of the right to acquire guns. The bill makes it a crime to knowingly sell or transfer a firearm to a person on the list (and a licensed gun dealer is liable to lose their dealer’s license, too). “Receipt” of a firearm is “unlawful” for anyone on the list, although the bill specifies that mere possession is not prohibited (“possession after the moment of receipt is not unlawful and the fact of possession may not be relied upon to prove a violation” of the law).

While getting on the Do Not Sell List may be as simple as a few clicks of a mouse, getting off the list is challenging different matter entirely. The registrant must file a petition with a court to have his or her name removed. All persons on the registrant’s contact list are entitled to advance notice of the date, time, and location of the court hearing. And although a person may register on the list for any reason (or no reason at all), a court is authorized to remove a registrant off the list only after he or she establishes, by a “preponderance of the evidence that he or she is not at elevated risk of suicide.” The evidence needed to satisfy this standard isn’t specified, but it’s safe to assume that a mental health evaluation and testimony from a mental health professional will be required. Once a court grants the order, the state must remove the person from the NICS Index and expunge all records related to the person’s registration on the list.

A similarly inspired bill to allow a “voluntary waiver of firearm rights” is pending in Washington State.  S.B. 5553allows anyone to file a waiver document with the court, and to include the name of a “person to be contacted” if a voluntary waiver is later revoked. All waivers are fed into a state police database used to determine eligibility to purchase a handgun. The person is free to revoke the waiver at a later date, but the waiver must stay in effect for a minimum of two weeks (seven days, plus another week in which the police must delete the waiver from the database). The bill makes it a felony to provide a gun to a person where there is reasonable cause to believe the person is subject to an active waiver, and a licensed dealer is prohibited from selling or transferring a gun to such persons.

The apparent rationale behind these bills is to provide those at risk of suicide with a way to declare themselves “prohibited persons” for the purposes of future gun purchases. Assemblyman Bonta describes his bill as giving “people the power to create a potentially life-saving barrier,” and the summary on the Washington proposal claims it will prevent suicide by helping “people in crisis maintain their autonomy while saving their lives.”

Overlooking several practical issues, the bills’ effectiveness isn’t likely to match the declared sentiment of advocates.

The California bill requires that the “Internet-based platform” for the list “credibly verif[y]” the identity of those who sign up online. Neither bill, though, has a corrective procedure to remove anyone included because they share a name and birthdate with someone properly listed, or because of some other error. The only way the bill provides for getting de-listed on California’s registry is convincing a court not that there’s been a mistake, but that the registrant has a non-elevated risk of suicide.

Waivers of constitutional rights “must be voluntary and must be knowing, intelligent acts done with sufficient awareness of the relevant circumstances and likely consequences.” In Washington State, persons contemplating a waiver should be aware that the waiver remains effective even after it is revoked because the police have a week to process the revocation, with ensuing legal consequences. Because of the time lag between actual revocation and the update to the police database, a person who seeks to obtain a gun after revocation but during that period is liable to be reported to a separate police database of people who attempt to acquire guns while prohibited under state or federal law.

The most distressing thing about these bills is the focus on the method while bypassing the underlying, core problem of the person’s suicidal impulses, depression, or other mental health emergency. Experts estimate that the vast majority of persons who commit suicide suffer from a mental illness at the time of their death. The same mindset impelled “gun violence restraining order” laws in California and Washington State, aimed specifically at disarming persons at risk of harming themselves (but only with a gun). Regardless, Assemblyman Bonta, resorting to the favorite catchphrase of the gun control movement, describes his bill as “a common-sense measure” to allow people to “self-restrict their ability to purchase a firearm.”

While lawmakers continue to look for new ways to restrict gun rights, people seeking help may find there’s a lot of talk about promoting health through “innovative” prevention strategies for at-risk individuals, without much in the way of actual help.