Feb 19 2017

Whose Ox?

You see, the thing about having principles and supporting policies and not personalities is that it frequently sets you athwart those more unmoored who float with the tides and currents of the moment. Like the nautical references? I have all the graces, among other things I sail and, now this is both funny and a metaphor, I had a very difficult day my first time out in the lee of a mountain and wind shadow of a forested shore and had to be towed out by a stink pot (motor boat),

Yeah, I’ve read Chapman’s.

In any event I can only applaud others, like Greenwald, with a firm binnacle (technically a housing for a compass and not the item itself, synecdoche for those keeping score at home which applies to both using a whole for a part and a part for a whole so it’s kind of its own antonym which is confusing).

One wishes that Politicians were as constant. One of the great disappointments of the Obama Administration is the ease with which Democrats abandoned their opposition to indiscriminate surveillance and now the glee in their embrace of it provided it it produces embarrassment to Republicans.

Personally I don’t care whose Ox. What is wrong is the process and the result is not justification.

Flynn leaks ignite surveillance debate
By Morgan Chalfant, The Hill
02/19/1

The FBI’s investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn is spurring fresh debate about a controversial law on foreign surveillance that is set to expire at the end of the year.

Republicans have expressed outrage over reports that Flynn’s calls to a Russian ambassador were intercepted by law enforcement.

That’s music to the ears of civil liberties and privacy advocates, who have long argued that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and particularly Section 702, should be curtailed.

“It shows the need for restrictions on sharing and restrictions on use,” Nathan White, senior legislative manager at Access Now, told The Hill. “You don’t want to build the wall again, but it shows that information that is collected for a legitimate purpose can be used in ways that you may not agree with.”

FISA authorizes the surveillance and collection of information from foreign powers and agents of foreign powers. The law was amended in 2008 to include Section 702, which set up procedures for targeting non-citizens outside the United States for foreign intelligence purposes.

Flynn’s communication with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak was likely picked up as a result of routine surveillance of agents of foreign powers under FISA. Though minimization rules require the names of U.S. persons picked up in surveillance of foreigners’ communications to be redacted, there is exception for individuals whose identities are necessary to understand the foreign intelligence information, which Flynn likely fit.

Section 702 of the surveillance law is poised to sunset at the end of this year, setting up a battle in Congress over whether it should be reformed.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who chairs the committee with oversight of the intelligence community, said he would investigate the leaks that prompted Flynn’s resignation.

“I expect for the FBI to tell me what is going on, and they better have a good answer,” he told the Washington Post. “The big problem I see here is that you have an American citizen who had his phone calls recorded.”

The comment was something of a role reversal for Nunes, who in the past had opposed efforts to scale back foreign intelligence collection.

“These are issues that have been very clear for years. It seems to have at least for a moment caused a change of heart for surveillance reform’s biggest opponents,” said Jake Laperruque, senior counsel at the Constitution Project.

“The idea that Americans’ communications are incidentally collected in foreign intelligence when there are foreign targets, that’s foreign intelligence 101.”

Proponents of the FISA law describe it as crucial to national security, saying it has helped thwart terror plots such as the 2009 plot to bomb the New York City subway.

Civil liberties organizations and privacy advocates support aspects of the law but say it grants far too much leeway for Americans’ communications to be swept up and shared across the government for domestic law enforcement purposes.

Critics also argue that the NSA’s “minimization” procedures — aimed at protecting the sharing of information from U.S. citizens acquired through surveillance of foreigners —don’t sufficiently protect Americans’ rights.

“The dissemination rule that is currently written, the minimization rules, the exceptions to the minimization rules are very broad, and that’s something that we’ve been saying and others in the civil liberties community have been saying for many years and certainly since 702 was drafted,” Alan Butler, senior counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told The Hill. “If anything, this [Flynn] episode proves that those exceptions are as broad as we’ve said.”

“If the chair of the intelligence committee doesn’t know that the U.S. government is routinely monitoring communications with foreign ambassadors, then we have much bigger problems than Mike Flynn’s phone calls,” he added, referring to Nunes’s statement.

When contacted, a spokesman for the Intelligence Committee confirmed Nunes’s statement and clarified that he wants to discover whether those who handled Flynn’s communications with the Russian ambassador committed “infractions.”

“There are very strict procedures for monitoring phone calls involving U.S. citizens and for handling the information derived from those calls. We already know the leak of the purported contents of Gen. Flynn’s calls was illegal, and Chairman Nunes wants to ensure no other infractions were committed in the handling of these calls, if they took place as widely reported,” the spokesman said.

“He’d like to find out whether Gen. Flynn was the target of surveillance, whether that surveillance was lawful and proper, and whether his identity was properly revealed and disseminated in the executive branch,” the spokesman said.

White said the tension between Trump and the intelligence community could undermine efforts to push for reauthorization of Section 702 at the end of the year.

“If the intelligence community and the White House are at odds with one another, they will be less united in advocating for a clean reauthorization or permanent reauthorization,” White observed. “I’m not saying the programs will not be reauthorized, but it would be a structural change in the way that the conversation is happening that, I think, would affect the outcome.”

Good. This should not be reauthorized at all, much less permanently and if it takes Republicans to do it…

Well, only Nixon could go to China.

Feb 19 2017

The Breakfast Club (Moscow Nights)

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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AP’s Today in History for February 19th

U.S. Marines begin landing on Iwo Jima; President Franklin D. Roosevelt gives the U.S. Military the authority to relocate and detain Japanese-Americans.

 

Breakfast Tune Moscow Nights

 

Something to think about, Breakfast News & Blogs below

 
‘Sweden, who would believe this?’: Trump cites non-existent terror attack
Alexandra Topping, The Guardian

Donald Trump appeared to invent a terrorist attack in Sweden during a campaign-style rally in Florida on Saturday, inviting questions that he may have confused the Scandinavian country with a city in Pakistan.

With thousands of supporters gathered in an aircraft hangar in Melbourne, Florida, Trump used his speech to talk about migration in Europe and linked it to terror attacks in Brussels, Nice and Paris. He then added Sweden to the list, incorrectly stating that an attack had happened there on Friday.

Trump told supporters: “We’ve got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden.”

“Sweden, who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible. …

 
Eight people flee U.S. border patrol to seek asylum in Canada
Christinne Muschi, Reuters

Eight asylum-seekers, including four children, barely made it across the Canadian border on Friday as a U.S. border patrol officer tried to stop them and a Reuters photographer captured the scene.

As a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officer seized their passports and questioned a man in the front passenger seat of a taxi that had pulled up to the border in Champlain, New York, four adults and four young children fled the cab and ran to Royal Canadian Mounted Police on the other side.

One by one they scrambled across the snowy gully separating the two countries. RCMP officers watching from the other side helped them up, lifting the younger children and asking a woman, who leaned on her fellow passenger as she walked, if she needed medical care.

The children looked back from where they had come as the U.S. officer held the first man, saying his papers needed to be verified. …

 
Iraq launches west Mosul offensive as torture videos emerge
Emma Graham-Harrison, Fazel Hawramy and Matthew Taylor, The Guardian

Iraqi government forces have launched an offensive to capture the western part of the city of Mosul from Islamic State.

Hundreds of military vehicles, backed by air power, were filmed travelling across the desert towards the jihadis’ positions in the city early on Sunday.

Government forces retook the eastern side of Mosul, the last major Isis stronghold in Iraq, last month. But military officials say the western side of the city, with its narrow, winding streets, may prove a bigger challenge.

According to Lt Gen Abdulamir Yarallah the latest attack began well, with the rapid response units capturing the villages of Athbah and al-Lazzagah near Mosul airport.

However, the launch of the new offensive was overshadowed by graphic videos of men in Iraqi security force uniforms carrying out beatings and killings of unarmed people on the streets of Mosul. …

 
VAGUE RULES LET ICE DEPORT UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS AS GANG MEMBERS
Ali Winston, The Intercept

OF THE MORE than 680 people swept up during last week’s nationwide raids by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, none has attracted more attention than 23-year-old Daniel Ramirez Medina. Although he crossed into the United States illegally when he was a child, Ramirez Medina twice applied successfully for permission to stay in the country under the Obama Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program.

The former California resident, who recently moved north to Des Moines, Washington, was detained on Friday when ICE went to his family’s home looking for his father, who is also undocumented and in removal proceedings.

ICE claims Ramirez Medina’s DACA status is null and void due to evidence of gang involvement outlined by government attorneys in a brief filed earlier this week. The sum of the evidence is a tattoo on his arm that immigration officials believe is gang related, and statements that he allegedly made in custody that “he used to hang out with the Sureno[s] in California,” that he “fled California to escape the gangs,” and that he “still hangs out with the Paizas in Washington State.”

While his defense attorneys and government lawyers contested claims about unconstitutional detention and doctored evidence in court this morning, Ramirez Medina’s case sheds light on ICE’s broad criteria for identifying gang members, which dates from George W. Bush’s presidency and has been used to deport thousands of individuals — including DACA recipients — over the past decade. …

 
48 QUESTIONS THE FBI USES TO DETERMINE IF SOMEONE IS A LIKELY TERRORIST
Cora Currier, Murtaza Hussain, The Intercept

FOR THE PAST year and a half, the FBI has been using a secret scoring system to judge the likelihood that someone will carry out a violent attack. The survey, called “Indicators of Mobilization to Violence,” assigns points based on factors like religious observance, travel history, financial transactions, and physical appearance.

The survey itself consists of 48 questions that agents are supposed to answer about terror suspects as part of an investigation. The document also includes a set of frequently asked questions about the scoring system aimed at agents working counterterrorism investigations.

Sahar Aziz, a law professor at Texas A&M University and expert on programs aimed at countering violent extremism, told The Intercept that some of the questions are subject to bias by FBI agents.

“Any effort to create ideological prototypes of people that are presumed to be susceptible to violence can have a chilling effect on constitutionally protected free speech,” Aziz said. “When government agents are screening people based on ideological beliefs or lifestyles that are not directly associated with criminal activity, it casts a wide net, and that can create serious consequences for targeted communities.” …

 
AS CONSTRUCTION NEAR STANDING ROCK RESTARTS, PIPELINE FIGHTS FLARE ACROSS THE U.S.
Alleen Brown, The Intercept

UNDER ORDERS FROM President Donald Trump, the Army Corps of Engineers on February 7 approved a final easement allowing Energy Transfer Partners to drill under the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. Construction has re-started, and lawyers for the company say it could take as little as 30 days for oil to flow through the Dakota Access pipeline.

While the Standing Rock Sioux and neighboring tribes attempt to halt the project in court, other opponents of the pipeline have launched what they’re calling a “last stand,” holding protests and disruptive actions across the U.S. In North Dakota, where it all began, a few hundred people continue to live at camps on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, using them as bases for prayer and for direct actions to block construction. Last week, camps were served eviction notices from Governor Doug Burgum and from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, demanding that they clear the biggest camp, Oceti Sakowin, by Wednesday and a smaller camp, Sacred Stone, within 10 days.

Now, most of the thousands of people that visited Standing Rock last fall have returned home, and some have taken up long-shot local fights against the oil and gas industry. In Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee it’s the Diamond pipeline; in Louisiana, the Bayou Bridge. In Wisconsin, the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa actually voted to decommission and remove the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline from their reservation.

Many communities have turned to direct action as a last resort. The city of Lafayette, Colorado, which has long attempted to block fracking in the area, has even proposed a climate bill of rights, enforceable via nonviolent direct action if the legal system fails.

In at least four states, encampments built as bases for pipeline resistance have emerged. They face corporations emboldened by Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress, which have used their first weeks in power to grant fossil fuel industry wishes, overturning environmental protections, appointing Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, and reviving the halted Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipeline projects. …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Something to think about over coffee prozac

Woolly Mammoth Could Be ‘De-Extinct’ In 2 Years, Scientist Says

Did we learn nothing from “Jurassic Park?”

A Harvard University scientist told The Guardian this week that his team is only two years from resurrecting some traits of the woolly mammoth, which went extinct during the last ice age. The goal is to create an embryo that’s a hybrid of the woolly mammoth and its closest living relative, the Asian elephant.

“Our aim is to produce a hybrid elephant-mammoth embryo,” researcher George Church told The Guardian. “Actually, it would be more like an elephant with a number of mammoth traits.” …

Feb 19 2017

Pondering the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Pondering the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

On Sunday mornings we present a preview of the guests on the morning talk shows so you can choose which ones to watch or some do something more worth your time on a Sunday morning.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

The Sunday Talking Heads:

This Week with George Stephanopolis: The guests on Sunday’s “This Week” are: retired vice admiral and Navy SEAL Robert Harward; Sen. Ran Paul (R-KY); Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA); former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski; and former Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook.

Face the Nation: Host John Dickerson’s guests are: White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus; Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC); Rep. David Nunes (R-CA); Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD); former Obama National Security Advisor Tom Donilon; and former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell.

His panel guests are: Washington Post’s legendary Bob Woodward; The Atlantic’s editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg; Boston Globe columnist Indira Lakshmanan; and Weekly Standard contributor Michael Graham.

Meet the Press with Chuck Todd: The guests on this week’s “MTP” are: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ); and former Secretary of Defense and CIA Director Leon Panetta.

The panel guests are: National Editor of Cook Political Report Amy Walter; conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt; and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

State of the Union with Jake Tapper: Mr. Tapper’s guests are: Gov. John Kasich (R-OH); Gen. (Ret) James L. Jones; and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ).

His panel guests are: Former State Attorney General Jason Kander (D-MO); CNN contributor Amanda Carpenter; former state senator Nina Turner (D-OH); and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA).

Feb 18 2017

Odds or Onions Challenge XXVII

Can you pick The Onion without hovering your mouse over the links?

Not much of a challenge really, but if you just looked at the headlines you’d have an easy 50 / 50 shot at being wrong.

 
“Donald Trump Rants and Raves at the Press,” Donald Trump Says, Accurately

DONALD TRUMP launched a surprise attack on the news media on Thursday at a press conference in which he mocked and harried the White House press corps for more than an hour.

Having carefully avoided questions from all but a handful of friendly reporters in recent days, as evidence of his stumbling performance as president mounted, Trump devoted less than 60 seconds to introducing his new secretary of labor nominee Alexander Acosta. Then he launched into what amounted to a 20-minute campaign speech blaming reporters in the room for portraying an administration in chaos when it was, he said, “running like a fine-tuned machine.”

“I’m making this presentation directly to the American people, with the media present,” Trump said, “because many of our nation’s reporters and folks will not tell you the truth.”

“Unfortunately, much of the media in Washington, D.C., along with New York, Los Angeles in particular, speaks not for the people, but for the special interests and for those profiting off a very, very obviously broken system,” Trump added, in a riff taken directly from the closing argument of his campaign against Hillary Clinton.

When he opened the floor to questions, Trump responded to them in a sarcastic, rambling, not entirely coherent manner, frequently adopting the tone of an insult comic, roasting reporters as if at the annual correspondents’ dinner. He raged at the profusion of leaks that have been coming out of his administration — and at what he called the “fake news” that was based on those leaks.

The performance, which prompted an outpouring of disbelief from viewers around the world, was the clearest example yet of Trump treating reporters who fail to flatter him as “the opposition party,” as his chief White House strategist, Steve Bannon, explained to The New York Times last month. …

 
Mar-A-Lago Member Complains About Loud, Obnoxious Cabinet Meeting At Next Table

PALM BEACH, FL—Saying that the noisy group was really getting on his nerves, Mar-a-Lago country club member Walter Forsyth reportedly complained to the management Thursday about the obnoxious U.S. cabinet meeting seated at the next table.

“I just wanted a nice, quiet dinner, but this rowdy table of high-ranking government officials keeps rudely shouting about classified policy initiatives,” said Forsyth, adding that more than a dozen raucous aides and advisors had pulled up chairs to a table that was clearly only meant to seat six.

“I didn’t pay all this money in membership fees to have these insufferable officials barge in and take over the entire dining room with their piles of sensitive documents spread out everywhere like no one else is even here.

I’m just trying to enjoy the prime rib, and they’re on their phones loudly talking to some foreign leader. This is the same disrespectful group, of course, that was yelling about North Korea in the spa.”

At press time, a waiter was politely asking the party to take their conversation about the Iran nuclear deal into the bar area or the lobby. …

Feb 18 2017

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Gazette‘s Health and Fitness News weekly diary. It will publish on Saturday afternoon and be open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Make-Ahead Weeknight Dinners

Chicken and Dumplings with Mushrooms photo 51214640_chicken-dumplings_1x1.jpg

With a little planning, you can look forward to a warm, comforting, and quick meal every night of the week. Joe Sevier, Epicurious

Chicken and Dumplings with Mushrooms

Our favorite Dutch oven is heavy-duty, big enough for any stew, and handsome enough to put on the table.

Lasagna With Sausage, Spinach, and Three Cheeses

With a quick-cooking sauce and no-fuss, no-boil noodles, the assembly is easy, and one pan feeds a large crowd.

Beef and Potato Pasties

The Cornish pasty, a meat-filled hand pie (rhymes with “nasty,” not “hasty”), was brought to northern Michigan by English immigrants, who ate it for lunch as they worked in the mines.

Cheesy Baked Spaghetti Squash Boats With Salami, Sundried Tomatoes, and Spinach

Meet the most creamy, comforting, flavor-packed baked pasta dinner you can make without any actual pasta.

Calzones With Chorizo and Kale

Bake a few of these grown-up pizza pockets for dinner tonight and freeze the rest to bake later.

Health and Fitness News

Cutting Salt a Health Boost for Kidney Patients

Possible Drawback to Gluten-Free: Toxic Metals

Vitamin D Linked to Lower Risk of Respiratory Infections

How antibody treatment led to lasting HIV-like virus remission

Scientifically-designed fasting diet lowers risks for major diseases

Shoveling Snow Can Kill Men, Canadian Study Finds

Superspreaders Drove Ebola Epidemic, Study Finds

Sore Back? Try Heat and Exercise First, Guidelines Say

Flu vaccine is 48% effective this season, CDC says

Feb 18 2017

Alone In The Kitchen With An Old Frenchman

Recently French chef Jacques Pépin turned 80 and retired. Over the years, he educated viewers of Public Television on how to cook and, something that no other cooking show host has done, techniques in the kitchen with wisdom, humor and a smattering of French lessons. As Gilad Edelman wrote in a Slate article, this man will teach you how to cook

Cattle Call

There are times when Jacques craves a good steak, so he shows his colleague, Chef David Shalleck, how to perfectly cook and mark, Grilled Steak with Lemon-Thyme Butter. For large get-togethers or celebrations, Jacques’ Spicy Rib Roast packs a tangy rub and makes an impressive centerpiece. Veal Chops with Caper Sauce uses the under utilized fresh sage for an herbal note, while Braised Beef in Red Wine becomes a delicious meal from an often overlooked cut.

Spicy Rib Roast

The roast should be from the smaller, less fatty end of the rib section. Cleaned of the layer of fat on top, the meat is roasted in a hot oven, then allowed to rest for at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour in a warm oven before serving so it is totally pink throughout.

Veal Chops with Caper Sauce

Be sure you don’t overcook the chops. Although veal is not served rare, as beef is, it should be slightly pink inside and juicy throughout.

Chicken or even a piece of fish also goes well with the caper and sage sauce.

Braised Beef in Red Wine

It’s important to use beef shoulder or shank. These lean yet gelatinous cuts retain their moistness after cooking — a quality essential to the dish.

Feb 18 2017

The Breakfast Club (Taking Chances)

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 10:00 am (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

‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ is first published; Jefferson Davis is sworn in as President of the Confederate States of America; ‘Chicago Seven’ defendants in court; Dale Earnhardt, Senior dies.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

One of the most important reasons for living is to do something – live outside of yourself and put together an idea, an idea that you want to explore and then complete… Awaken your creative sensitivities!

Jack Palance

Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 17 2017

More Signs Of The Coming Apocalypse

Seriously. Time for the Shipping Container Bunkers.

McDonald’s New High-Tech Straw Optimizes Your Shamrock Shake Experience
by Rose Leadem, Entrepreneur
February 16, 2017

We’re heading into March, and you know what that means… McDonald’s Shamrock Shakes are coming back.

This year, McDonald’s is going above and beyond just offering the green sugary shake, adding a new Chocolate Shamrock Shake to the menu for a limited time. It doesn’t stop there — the fast food giant has also invented a new scientifically designed straw that will be available for a limited time.

Created by a team of engineers from JACE and NK Labs, the new high-tech straw is made specifically for slurping on a Chocolate Shamrock Shake — and making sure the drinker gets exactly 50 percent chocolate and 50 percent mint in every sip.

Calling the assignment an “ambitious goal,” principal engineer and managing partner at NK Labs Seth Newburg explained, “From a physics perspective, it’s actually quite difficult to deliver a proportional amount of both chocolate and mint flavors with each sip. But that’s exactly what we did. It’s a marvel of fluid dynamics.”

Although if you want the “ultimate shake-drinking experience,” you’d better hurry. Only 2,000 of the special straws were produced, and they will be available at select McDonald’s locations across the U.S.

Cure for Cancer? Missions to Mars? Jetsons Flying Cars?

Global Warming?

No! This is exactly what our best and brightest Engineers should be working on because nothing takes your mind off imminent death, the destruction of civilization, and Mass Extinction like a cool sugar infused Shake carefully calibrated to deliver precisely 50% Chocolate and 50% Mint and dollars to a Slave Labor based Global Corporation’s pocket.

Why are you so negative?

Feb 17 2017

Lies and the Lying Liars

Over the years, I have learned a couple of things, some of them very important, some not so much. I’ve learned from both experience and observation. One of the more important things I learned that prosecutors very rarely ask a witness a question they don’t already have the answer. It’s pretty much the same with the FBI. They ask questions of persons they are investigating only if they already know the answer.

Rule #!: Never lie to the FBI.

Rule #2: If in doubt, revert to rule #1

This is where Michael Flynn really screwed up, bigly.

Flynn in FBI interview denied discussing sanctions with Russian ambassador

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn denied to FBI agents in an interview last month that he had discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States before President Trump took office, contradicting the contents of intercepted communications collected by intelligence agencies, current and former U.S. officials said.

The Jan. 24 interview potentially puts Flynn in legal jeopardy, as lying to the FBI is a felony, but any decision to prosecute would ultimately lie with the Justice Department. Some officials said bringing a case could prove difficult in part because Flynn may attempt to parse the definition of sanctions.

A spokesman for Flynn said he had no response. The FBI declined to comment.

A couple of points here, as noted by the inimitable Charles Pierce:

Any investigation of this matter will put new Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III in a tough spot. He and Flynn were the very first Republicans of any stature to climb on board the train. And, of course, in the ordinary course of events, the investigation would be handed over to the FBI which is still run by super-patriot James Comey, who might also face congressional questions as to what did he know, when did he know it, and why he didn’t write a public letter to Congress about it 11 days before the election?

Now, it is possible that Trumplethinskin could just pardon Flynn but that wold deepen T*rump’s problem of the question about what he new and when he knew it. Exonerating Flynn leave him without his 5th Amendment rights and he could be forced to reveal to investigators all he knows about T*rump’s involvement with the Russia’s influence into the election. It was the prime reason George W. Bush only commuted Scooter Libby’s conviction in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

In today’s unhinged press conference, T*rump was channeling Pres. Richard M. Nixon in 1973 as he scrambled to keep from being impeached for the Watergate scandal.

This could get very interesting.

Feb 17 2017

Pondering the Pundits

“Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

Paul Krugman: The Silence of the Hacks

The story so far: A foreign dictator intervened on behalf of a U.S. presidential candidate — and that candidate won. Close associates of the new president were in contact with the dictator’s espionage officials during the campaign, and his national security adviser was forced out over improper calls to that country’s ambassador — but not until the press reported it; the president learned about his actions weeks earlier, but took no action.

Meanwhile, the president seems oddly solicitous of the dictator’s interests, and rumors swirl about his personal financial connections to the country in question. Is there anything to those rumors? Nobody knows, in part because the president refuses to release his tax returns.

Maybe there’s nothing wrong here, and it’s all perfectly innocent. But if it’s not innocent, it’s very bad indeed. So what do Republicans in Congress, who have the power to investigate the situation, believe should be done?

Nothing.

Eugene Robinson: How could things get worse for Trump?

President Trump is flailing like a man who fears he’s about to go under, and he hasn’t even been in office a full month. His instinct is to flee to the warmth and comfort of his political base — but he will learn that while presidents can run, they can’t hide.

Trump’s administration faces two acute, interlocking crises: serious questions about his campaign’s contacts with official and unofficial representatives of the Russian government, which U.S. intelligence agencies believe made concerted efforts to help Trump win the election; and appalling levels of dysfunction in the White House that make self-inflicted wounds the rule rather than the exception.

The president’s response has been to rant on Twitter and schedule a campaign-style rally Saturday in Florida — both of which may boost Trump’s morale but will do nothing to make his problems go away

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