Morning Reads – Thursday, February 16, 2017

On this date in 1862, during the Civil War, about 14,000 Confederate soldiers surrendered to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in Tennessee .

In the legislature…

In the House today.
Yesterday in the Senate. Today in the Senate: SB 15 (weapons carry license adjustments) & SB 16 (regarding THC regulation for cannabis oil)


Jimmy Carter

Sweet Tea

27 thoughts on “Morning Reads – Thursday, February 16, 2017”

  1. That story on the ACA is kinda weird. The whole story is about how the IRS isn’t going to enforce the law anymore (I’m sure Republicans will be up in arms about that) because of the Trump EO, but at the bottom of the story is a correction which essentially says that the IRS is going to keep doing what it has been doing all along.

  2. Yahoo is saying it’s “Christie Time…” By implication that means it’s ass-kickin’ time, I guess. If I were writing a country song about this it would maybe be titled “Just the Right Amount of Wrong” or something along those lines…Opinions on bringing back His Largeness? Does the vision of one of those mafia palookas come to mind, coat draped over his shoulders?

    1. The president had dinner last night with Sen. Rubio. He has dinner and lunch with people all the time.

      Christie needs to get past the remaining federal trials on the bridge and on his ports authority pick.

    2. “Some of the mainstream media’s Trump anti-coverage once was stoked by ideology.”
      Not exactly sure what they mean by that. Who even knows what Trump’s ideology is/was?

      There were plenty of reasons for the media to be obsessed with Trump from the get-go- he’s like the perfect never-ending news story- but I wouldn’t think ideology is among the top 5. Outrageous, rich, obnoxious, habitual liar, lawsuit magnet, conflict-of-interest pulsar, “interesting” family, TV celebrity out of his element… on and on.

      edit: That was meant to refer to Ellynn’s axios article.

    1. My favorite line “The leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake.” Uhm… so..the leaks about your campaign, the turmoil in the West Wing, Flynn lying to the V.P., being open to black mail, the spooking not trusting you, and State being in disarray are ALL real (AKA be actual facts), but the reporting of these REAL leaks in the news is FAKE…? Confirm but call them out for making the confirmed leaks up?

  3. This is for Andrew. Shep on Fox is apoplectic about the press conference. Anyway, give me a brief summary of this continued Russia thing. Are the allegations that Trump’s staff during the campaign were organizing the leak of Podesta’s emails via Wikileaks? I’m serious in asking you. I know Manafort did business with Ukraine or something. Since no voting machines were hacked and not one vote was changed, what is the issue? What are Trump’s people accused of doing with regard to Russia during the course of the campaign? Thanks!

      1. Ok…so that is the question? Whether Trumps folks helped get the leaks out? Ok, lemme ask, is there any evidence or allegation that, for instance, Lewindowski or another campaign toady actually did that? Have there been whispers or allegations that somebody actually did that? Again, no snark. Serious question. Why do they keep asking, over and over, day after day? Is there any, any evidence that the Repubs helped arrange this?

    1. This is a big question to digest…

      According to sources within the intelligence community, multiple members of Trump’s campaign team were in contact with Russian officials throughout the campaign. It’s hard to pin down what the “allegations” are, since no one knows the subject of those exchanges. Obviously, the intelligence community has already come out and said that Russia coordinated the hacks on the DNC and Podesta and disseminated that information through Wikileaks. Could they have consulted with the Trump campaign on this? Certainly. I think there are possibly larger issues at play, however. Russia exports over half of its oil and gas through the Crimean Peninsula and, prior to their invasion of Crimea, those oil and gas pipelines were operated by Ukraine. Ukraine itself is one of the largest markets for Russian oil and gas exports. Russia invaded and illegally annexed Crimea in 2014 because of fears that Ukraine was growing too close to Western Europe, jeopardizing Russia’s ability to export through Ukrainian pipelines. The invasion led to sanctions from the Obama Administration that halted or severely scaled back oil production projects in Russia (something Rex Tillerson, as former CEO of ExxonMobil is intimately familiar with), causing significant economic harm to Russia. Russia, and Putin, personally, have a huge financial interest in having those sanctions lifted, something that was unlikely to happen under a Clinton administration. Curiously, the Trump campaign specifically lobbied to have opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine removed from the official party platform. At the end of the day, however, we don’t know what the phone calls were about because the transcripts that do exist are still in possession of the FBI, NSA, CIA, or whoever was monitoring these calls. Hence why folks want to see an investigation of this matter.

      With regard to Manafort, he didn’t just “do business” in the Ukraine, he worked directly as an adviser and campaign manager for Victor Yanukovich, the Kremlin-backed puppet that Russia helped install as President of Ukraine. His ouster from the Trump campaign came after Ukrainian investigators uncovered evidence he received over $12 million in off-the-books cash payments from Yanukovich’s party.

      Lastly, just as a general point. It’s important that we recognize Putin’s goals and motivations. As President Obama stated before leaving office, Russia is, economically, a weak country that is overly dependent on natural resources and, outside of oil and gas, “doesn’t produce anything that anybody wants to buy.” The rise of the EU and NATO expansion have further weakened Russia’s global position and pulled former Soviet satellite states closer to the West. It’s one reason Russia has been so adamant about doing whatever it can to disrupt Ukranian and Georgian membership or cooperation with NATO. Russia has recognized, correctly, that its success depends upon breaking up the EU and NATO.

      So, how do you break up those institutions? You destabilize their governments by supporting candidates that play up intra-national divisions, you support and disseminate fake news stories that erode the public’s trust in the news media, you release information that tears down political opponents, and you do anything you can to subtly stir-up chaos and discord. This was the playbook in the Ukraine and in other Russian attempts to install pro-Kremlin governments. I don’t think Trump is taking marching orders from Putin, but I do think that the divisions he creates among Americans and the uncertainty and distrust he creates within the NATO alliance certainly plays into Russia’s hands.

      1. Ok. No snark. Let’s continue. We heard this throughout the campaign, too. Unnamed campaign folks allegedly were in contact w Russia. Respectfully, has anyone other than Manafort been specifically named as being in contact? Who made the charge that these contacts even occurred? And is it simply speculation that the subject of collusion “could have” occurred. Am I correct that no evidence has been put forth that this is so?

        1. Question 1
          In addition to Manafort, there’s been three others explicitly named as part of the counterintelligence investigation:

          1) Carter Page (a Trump foreign policy adviser who manages an energy development company with a former Gazprom executive and used to work as a VP in Merill Lynch’s Moscow office)

          2) Roger Stone (longtime campaign operative and former Trump adviser)

          3) Gen. Mike Flynn (who you know already)

          There are apparently others under investigation as well, although their identities have not been released nor has the extent of their contact.

          Question 2
          The Flynn information came to light as the result of the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into possible links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. The Treasury Department, the CIA, and the NSA are also part of this investigation. Since this is an FBI-led investigation, it explains why Sally Yates was the one to inform the White House counsel’s office that Flynn was lying about the subject of his conversations with Russia and its why the FBI deposed him (by the way, turns out Flynn lied to the FBI as well).

          Question 3 & 4
          At this point any talk of “collusion” is purely circumstantial. However, the FBI has transcripts of Flynn’s calls and, presumably, calls from other Trump staff. This is why Sens. Grassley and Feinstein came out today and called for transcripts of Flynn’s phone calls and a briefing on the content of those conversations. So while there’s no public information out there sufficient to say “yeah, these dudes colluded” there may be enough information in the possession of the FBI to draw that conclusion.

  4. Trump: Let’s have a press conference today.
    Spicer: Are you sure? I can handle it.
    Trump: No, you are antagonizing the press and we need to get them back on our side. I am a master at PR so I will show you how to do it.

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