The Breakfast Club (Stability)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Samuel Morse opens America’s first telegraph line; Four men sentenced for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; Britain’s Queen Victoria born; The Brooklyn Bridge opens; Singer-songwriter Bob Dylan born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

There is nothing so stable as change.

Bob Dylan

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The Russian Connection: More Revelations

Yesterday the Washington Post reported that Trump appealed to two intelligence chiefs for help to push back the FBI investigation into his campaign after then Director James Comey revealed its existence in March.

Trump made separate appeals to the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and to Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, urging them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.

Coats and Rogers refused to comply with the requests, which they both deemed to be inappropriate, according to two current and two former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private communications with the president. [..]

Trump’s conversation with Rogers was documented contemporaneously in an internal memo written by a senior NSA official, according to the officials. It is unclear if a similar memo was prepared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to document Trump’s conversation with Coats. Officials said such memos could be made available to both the special counsel now overseeing the Russia investigation and congressional investigators, who might explore whether Trump sought to impede the FBI’s work.

Today, Director Coats, a Trump appointee, testifies before the Senate Armed Service Committee declining to comment on the veracity of the Post article.

On the House side, former CIA Director John Brennan, not exactly known for his veracity to congress, testified before the Intelligence Committee about what he knew about the contacts between Russia and Trump, it didn’t make Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC) very happy.

Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC) was trying to get to a no since Brennan is no longer on board and could easily provide Republicans with sound bites that they could use disingenuously to suggest that there’s nothing to see here in TrumpRussiaGate.

But instead, when Gowdy pushed for evidence of collusion, he got the former CIA Director to say, “I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign.

That was not what Gowdy wanted to hear.

Dir. Brennan also commented on Trummp’s passing of highly classified intelligence to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador:

Brennan testified that if media reports are accurate, President Trump violated at least two protocols when he leaked classified intelligence to Russia.

During a round of questioning from Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), former CIA Director Brennan said, “I don’t know what was shared or said in the Oval Office, but if the reports in the press are true that Mr. Trump decided to spontaneously some intelligence with the Russians, I think he would have basically violated two protocols, and those protocols are one is that such intelligence, classified intelligence is not shared with visiting foreign ministers or local ambassadors…..Secondly, before sharing classified intelligence with foreign partners, it needs to go back to the originating agency to make sure that the language in it is even just providing the substance going to reveal sources and methods and compromise the future collection capability.

Brennan also dispelled the myth being floated by Trump and his administration that Trump leak classified information by pointing out that just because Trump shared it with the Russians doesn’t mean that the intelligence was not still classified.

Brennan also explained to the committee how the Russian connection was a slow walk to treason

Explaining how the Russians work to turn people, Brennan said, “Frequently individuals who go along a treasonous path do not even realize they are on that path until it gets to be a bit too late and that’s why my radar goes up early when I see certain things that I know what the Russians are trying to do to and I don’t know whether the targets of their efforts are as mindful of the Russian intentions as they need to be.” [..]

Brennan’s comments explain how the Russians could have turned people in the Trump campaign towards treason through a very subtle and deliberate process. His description also illustrates that the intelligence community knows what to look for and why red flags were raised based on what they may have seen coming from some people in the Trump campaign.

The Trump campaign landed on the CIA’s radar, and the question of what they were doing with Russia is why the country is in the midst of a scandal today.

The Director then proceeded to give the Republicans on the committee, who were more focused on the leakers than the severity of what was leaked, a lesson in patriotism:

As Republicans once again focus on “leaks” from whistleblowers who are trying to protect the United States against the Republicans in the White House and Congress who are at the very least unwilling to take action to protect the country from hostile, aggressive moves by Russia against the U.S., Democrat Rep. Denny Heck asked Brennan why constituents should care about Russia’s election interference.

The answer Brennan gave was a perhaps unintentional, but nonetheless powerful, schooling of Republicans on patriotism.

Because for the last 241 years, this nation and its citizens have cherished the freedom and liberty that this country was founded on. Our ability to choose our elected leaders as we see fit is, I believe, an inalienable right we must protect with all of our resources and all our authority and power,” Brennan told the committee.

Also appearing before the House Armed Services Committee, NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers will most likely face questions about his conversation with Trump. He, too, is expected to decline to answer in an open hearing.

Former White House Nation Security Advisor retired Lt. General Michael Flynn refused to comply with the Senate Intelligence Committee subpoena for his testimony and documents related to his role in the campaign and White House Russian connections based on his Fifth Amendment rights. Not yet willing to charge Flynn with contempt, the committee is considering interim steps to obtain the documents which are business related and are not protected by the Fifth Amendment. In a press conference, following a closed door meeting, the ranking Democratic member. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) revealed that the committee had issued two more subpoenas targeting Flynn’s businesses.

“While we disagree with Gen. Flynn’s lawyer’s interpretation of taking the fifth, it is even more clear that a business does not have a right to take the fifth, it is a corporation,” Warner said Tuesday during a joint press conference with Senate Intel Committee chairman Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC).

“Those subpoenas, one has been served one is in the process of being served,” Warner said, adding the committee is keeping “all options on the table.”

Included in those options is the possibility of holding Flynn in contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the investigation.

The Senate committee will also seek the testimony of DNI Coates and Adm. Rogers.

The shoes seem to be dropping until late in the evening every day now.

Katahdin Woods

This should be a feel good story, but…

The family that makes Burt’s Bees Lip Balm (they may make other things, that’s what I know them for), the St Clairs, took some of their money and started buying up land that had been logged over to the point that the Lumber Companies didn’t want it any more.

Eventually they ended up with 87,563 acres which they donated to the National Park Service as a National Monument (there are excellent views of Mount Katahdin). Now this gift was explicitly conditional on the land being used as a recreational forest area, in short- a Park.

Well The Donald and his Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke have pretty much never met an animal they didn’t want to kill or a tree they didn’t want to send to the wood chipper and as part of their plan to pave over everything Big Oil doesn’t want so it can be used for parking lots for Hotel/Casino complexes and Money Laundries, they’ve been re-evaluating our National Monuments (among other things).

Maine, where Katahdin is, has an insane and spiteful Governor named Paul LePage who also happens to be a YUUGE Trump supporter. He personally lobbied to add Katahdin Woods to the list (it’s actually too small to be of much interest).

And because he is insane and spiteful, even though Katahdin Wood is fully open and operational, LePage refuses to put up directional signs on State Roads and Highways arguing it’s a waste of money since it’s just going to get paved over anyway.

Nice guy ehh?

I would imagine, though I don’t know for a fact, that there were some restrictions written into the contract that transfered the land so this will likely end up in court if the Department of the Interior removes recognition.

Your tax dollars at work!

‘Spiteful and petty’: Maine governor bans signs to Obama-designated monument
by Edward Helmore, The Guardian
Sunday 21 May 2017

A decision by the Republican governor of Maine, Paul LePage, to ban signs to Katahdin Woods and Waters, a national monument designated by Barack Obama, has been described as “sophomoric and petty” by a member of the family that donated the 87,563-acre tract to the nation.

LePage made the controversial move, which was announced on Friday, pending the outcome of a federal review of 27 national monuments ordered by Donald Trump in April and being carried out by the US interior secretary, Ryan Zinke.

In February, LePage asked Trump to reverse Katahdin’s designation, arguing that Obama had violated the federal Antiquities Act. “I think it was a horrible, horrible decision and it should be reversed if it can,” he said in remarks reported by the Portland Press Herald.

A state transportation spokesman, Ted Talbot, said in remarks reported by the Bangor Daily News that the refusal to allow official signs for Katahdin to be placed along main roads, including interstate 95 and routes 11, 157 and 159, was a cost-saving measure.

“What we don’t want to do is commit taxpayers’ money to signage or any type of project without knowing that it [the monument] is in place and that everyone is on board with it,” he said.

Lucas St Clair, whose family acquired the land using the Burt’s Bees fortune, told the Guardian that the governor’s refusal to erect signs was “spiteful and destructive”.

“It’s one of the most irresponsible things he could do for the region,” St Clair added. “To place signs to show the way to the national monument is a simple thing. It could even be [done with] private money. But he has refused to allow that to happen. It’s a sophomoric and petty way to behave.”

“This is very different to the Organ Mountains in New Mexico or the monuments in Utah,” he said. “This was private land that my family owned and wanted to donate to create a national park, and really it’s just one outspoken person – the governor – who wants it to be rescinded.”

Environmentalists claim the Katahdin land will create its own commercial purpose as a relatively pristine destination for outdoor recreation. Others claim the land, which lies in the shadow of Mount Katahdin, Maine’s highest peak, would be better returned to timber production.

“They fail to realize the land was sold to us by people from the forest products industry because it was no longer valuable to them as a landscape to log and cut trees,” St Clair said. “That argument that this is taking this land out of potential fiber production is absurd.”

LePage’s decision to block signage is entirely self-serving, St Clair maintained, “because the only reason it is under review is because he asked for it to be under review. LePage is trying to undermine the benefit of a national monument from a tourism perspective. Then he will point to that and say, ‘See! It wasn’t worthy of being a monument.’

“The best thing the public can do is comment on the department of the interior’s website and demonstrate their appreciation for the landscape by going and enjoying it.”

Zombie Lie-berman

It has been my great displeasure to meet Joe Lie-berman in person on several occasions. He is the smarmiest, oiliest, limp handshaked, cheat, con artist and dissimulator I’ve ever been in proximity to, even for a politician. I never left an encounter without wanting to shower with a Brillo Pad. He’s petty and vindictive, in every way deserving of his other nick-name, “Sore Loserman.” People in Connecticut hate him.

And he ain’t that smart neither.

You can rest assured that in addition to being utterly unqualified for the position of Director of the FBI that he would use it to punish his real and imagined enemies for the smallest slight.

Joe Lieberman atop FBI would be a First Amendment disaster
By Trevor Timm, Columbia Journalism Review
May 22, 2017

Former Senator Joe Lieberman is reportedly President Trump’s leading choice to replace the recently-fired James Comey as FBI director. If you’re a person who values free speech and press freedom rights, it’s hard to imagine a worse pick for FBI director than Lieberman.

It was only a week ago we learned that Trump allegedly urged Comey in a private meeting to prosecute reporters for publishing classified information. So one of the most vital issues for any confirmation hearing will be whether the next FBI director will respect journalists’ right to report on the government. You don’t have to look far to understand how dangerous an FBI Director Lieberman would be to the journalism profession.

In 2010, when WikiLeaks, in conjunction with The New York Times, The Guardian, and other papers, started publishing secret State Department cables, then-Senator Lieberman was Congress’s leading advocate for prosecuting the publishers of the cables—First Amendment be damned. At the time, he loudly called for the prosecution of WikiLeaks, saying, “I don’t understand why that hasn’t happened yet. … I think it’s the most serious violation of the Espionage Act in our history, and the consequences globally that have occurred.”

As for The New York Times, he said they also should be investigated and suggested they should be prosecuted. “To me,” he said, “New York Times has committed at least an act of bad citizenship. And whether they’ve committed a crime, I think that bears very intensive inquiry by the Justice Department,” adding it’s “a serious legal question that has to be answered.”

While Lieberman didn’t get his wish, he did use his power as a member of Congress to pressure Amazon to stop hosting WikiLeaks on its servers. After Amazon complied, Lieberman went on television and called for other US companies to do the same. Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal followed suit, financially censoring WikiLeaks despite no court proceeding or official government action of any kind against WikiLeaks.

Still not fully satisfied, Lieberman wrote leak legislation that would have criminalized publishing certain information regarding human sources of intelligence of US agencies. As Wired made clear at the time, “Leaking such information in the first place is already a crime, so the measure is aimed squarely at publishers.”

The Justice Department this year has indicated it wants to prosecute WikiLeaks and founder Julian Assange. No matter what you think of WikiLeaks—even if you dislike them in the extreme—the same danger that existed in 2010 remains today: Any precedent used against WikiLeaks can certainly be turned on the Times, Post, or any other newspaper that prints a story Trump finds offensive. Lieberman is living proof that that is a clear and present danger.

It was Lieberman who led the effort in 2009 to suppress evidence of war crimes when it was clear the Freedom of Information Act should have compelled the release of photos showing US military members engaging in torture. Lieberman wrote an amendment to a defense appropriations bill that essentially created a new exemption to FOIA that allowed the US government to keep the photos of the Bush era crimes secret.

In 2011, before leaving the Senate for good, Lieberman pushed an “Internet kill switch” bill before he left the Senate which would give the government wide authority to attempt to shut down portions of the Internet in the case of a “cyber emergency.” He authored an amendment that would’ve repealed whistleblower protections and strengthened the state-secret privilege, of which whistleblower groups at the time said “will set whistleblower protections back 30 years for hundreds of thousands of federal employees.” Early in his career he tried to censor violent video games and music with explicit lyrics.

The press is engaged in one of the great investigative reporting periods in modern history and is almost single-handedly holding the Trump administration accountable where Congress has fallen down—even in the face of a torrent of criticism and the specter of aggressive leak investigations. If Joe Lieberman is confirmed as FBI director, it’s possible he will attempt to use the agency’s vast powers to prosecute the press—stamping out one of the only ways Trump’s power can be checked.

The Breakfast Club (Commitment)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Top Nazi official Heinrich Himmler commits suicide; Israel captures fugitive Nazi Adolf Eichmann; Bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde killed; Industrialist John D. Rockefeller dies; Golf legend Sam Snead dies

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Commitment is an act, not a word.

Jean-Paul Sartre

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The Orb

Gleiwitz

On the night of August 31st – September 1st, 1939 Nazis (real actual factual members of the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) took several concentration camp prisoners and one Silesian farmer with pro-Polish sympathies arrested the day before and murdered them after a short broadcast in Polish to make it appear as if there had been a Polish attack on a small radio station in Gleiwitz. This was used as the primary casus belli for the Nazi conquest of Poland.

It was what is commonly called a ‘false flag’ operation.

Can Europe Stop the Far Right if It Doesn’t Stop Neoliberal Austerity?

A second German soldier has been arrested in the investigation into an alleged false flag terror attack. The suspects are accused of plotting to shoot left-wing politicians and then pin the blame on Syrian refugees in Germany. The first soldier in the plot was found to be posing as a Syrian. The case has fueled concern over a larger neo-Nazi network within the German army.

The Russian Connection: Not So Innocent Mike Pence

Don’t believe for a minute that Vice President Mike Pense was out of the loop about the Russian interference in the election or the chicanery of former national security advisor Michael Flynn.

Don’t Believe That Pence Was “Out of the Loop”
By Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo

We’re seeing multiple stories this morning, building on hints and suggestions over the course of the week, that Vice President Mike Pence was kept “out of the loop” on seemingly all the problems with Mike Flynn. I see no reason to believe this.

Pence wouldn’t be the first Vice President to go this route. Some of the modern ubiquity of this phrase stems from then Vice President Bush claiming he’d been “out of the loop” on key decisions and knowledge about the Iran-Contra Scandal. There’s even less reason to believe this with Pence.

If we were still in the late summer of 2016, I’d say ‘maybe’. Pence comes from a different world. Whatever Pence’s own issues, Trump’s world of predation and appetites and grift isn’t Pence’s. Or at least it wasn’t. But Pence has now been up close, right there, with everything that’s happened over the last 8 or 9 months, with Flynn and all his emerging secrets and bad acts. Pence was the head of the presidential transition when Flynn informed the transition’s top lawyer Donald McGahn (now White House Counsel) that he was being investigated by the FBI. More than two months later Pence claimed it was the first he’d heard about it.

It is fair to say that Pence probably wasn’t the active manager of the Transition process. But it’s probably fair to say that nothing would be more important to the transition process than learning that the President’s top foreign policy advisor was being investigated for being in the pay of a foreign power. Like, almost literally nothing. If he never learned about something that serious, he either made sure not to hear or had information kept from him by others. A similar pattern emerges with Flynn’s assurances about his calls with Russian Ambassador Kislyak: Pence’s public statements turn out to be false and it’s excused with the claim that he was left in the dark. There are many other examples.

The only way this seems plausible to me is if Pence were somehow so clean, so far from the center of the action, that the Trump crew knew not to tell Pence these things. That clearly seems to be the story Pence’s aides are trying to tell – possibly to insulate him from Trump’s ubiquitous corruption and lying and allow a smooth transition to a Pence presidency.

But again, it doesn’t add up.

Pence was reportedly one of the few advisors fully involved in the decision to fire James Comey. Even if you buy the argument, which you shouldn’t, that the Trump Team didn’t understand that firing Comey would be a problem, Pence certainly did. He is a DC veteran. He’s been the Chief Executive of a mid-sized state. He’d know exactly what a high stakes gambit this was – both the wrongness on the merits and the severe political risks. But he was fully in on and the decision and as explicitly as anyone went on camera to make the always implausible and quickly discredited claim that Trump somehow fired Comey on the say-so of the Deputy Attorney General. He was in on the decision, he vouched for the cover store. The cover story was quickly discredited.

All of this tells me that Trump and his top people trust Pence to be in on the bad acts and the cover ups. We’ve seen him participate in them, again and again, with eyes wide open. Whether his knowledge of specific decisions can be proved is something we’ll only learn over time. But the ‘Pence was out of the loop’ line just doesn’t add up. It’s not credible.

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow demonstrated why Vice President Mike Pence is not only implicated in the Russia scandal, but he is a central figure in the scandal which has publicly told many lies that will ruin his career.

“Last Week Tonight” This Morning

The host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” John Oliver devoted his show to looking back at the week that was and quite a week it was:

(F)rom President Donald Trump leaking Israeli intelligence to Russian officials, to finding out a high profile member of the administration has been named as a person of interest in the Russia probe to the revelation that Trump called fired FBI Director James Comey a “nut job” to the aforementioned Russian officials.

But above all, Oliver said, this week will be remembered as the week that Anderson Cooper lost it on Jeffrey Lord and said one of the truest, funniest, most profane things ever said on cable news.

“He could take a dump on his desk and you’d defend it,” Cooper said.

“Yes!” said Oliver. “That is a professional journalist saying of the president, ‘If he took a dump on his desk, you would defend it.’ And, more importantly, Jeffrey Lord did not immediately answer ‘no.’”

 

The Breakfast Club (True Perversion)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

 photo stress free zone_zps7hlsflkj.jpg

This Day in History

Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy sign the ‘Pact of Steel’; Richard Nixon is the first U.S. president to visit the Soviet Union; Actor Laurence Olivier born; Johnny Carson hosts his last ‘Tonight Show.’

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

More people have been slaughtered in the name of religion than for any other single reason. That, my friends, that is true perversion.

Harvey Milk

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