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Sunday, July 23rd open thread: ‘Shoots and Ladders’

July 23, 2017

  open-threadHere is the open thread for Sunday, July 23rd. Please feel free to post links to interesting articles and to discuss whatever issues arise during the course of the day. Nothing is off-topic here.

  Last week we discussed 10 stories, did you miss any of them? If so there is an easy way to make sure it does not happen again. I understand that all of you are busy and cannot always find the time to check the blog for updates so why not subscribe to America’s Watchtower and receive email updates whenever I write a new post? That is the easiest way to follow the blog to ensure you never miss another post.

  In addition to subscribing you can also follow America’s Watchtower on Facebook and Twitter by clicking the links on the right. But you will get more than that for I often post links to articles probably will not be writing about so it is a great way to keep up with what is happening.

 The Twitter widget in the sidebar is fully interactive. This widget updates my tweets in real time and allows you to respond to or retweet my tweets right from the blog. It also allows you to tweet me right from America’s Watchtower. 

  Here is a little ditty by the band Korn called “Shoots and Ladders” which has bagpipes, nursery rhymes, and ends with a portion of Metallica’s “One” as performed live last year.

frui diem

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Washington Post report: Jeff Sessions’ meeting with the Russians included campaign talk

July 22, 2017

  It has been a horrific week for Attorney General Jeff Sessions: First Donald Trump inexplicably decided to throw him under the bus in an interview with the New York Times and now the Washington Post is reporting here that during the meeting he had with the Russian ambassador, which led him to recuse himself from the Russian investigation, he did discuss campaign related issues.

  Here is more:

Russia’s ambassador to Washington told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to public assertions by the embattled attorney general, according to current and former U.S. officials.

Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s accounts of two conversations with Sessions — then a top foreign policy adviser to Republican candidate Donald Trump — were intercepted by U.S. spy agencies, which monitor the communications of senior Russian officials both in the United States and in Russia. Sessions initially failed to disclose his contacts with Kislyak and then said that the meetings were not about the Trump campaign.

One U.S. official said that Sessions — who testified that he has no recollection of an April encounter — has provided “misleading” statements that are “contradicted by other evidence.” A former official said that the intelligence indicates that Sessions and Kislyak had “substantive” discussions on matters including Trump’s positions on Russia-related issues and prospects for U.S.-Russia relations in a Trump administration.

  Once again we have a report with unnamed sources from the Washington Post. We do not know if this is true or not but it is sure to cause a firestorm on the Sunday shows and most likely all of next week. The left will claim the report alone means Jeff Sessions should resign, regardless of the truth of the matter. If indeed there were intercepted communications they must be released to the investigation, failure to do so will cast the whole story into doubt.

  I am not sure Jeff Sessions, especially after how quickly he recused himself from the investigation because of Democratic pressure, is going to survive the upcoming tsunami of Democratic fervor in the coming week.

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

Susan Rice ‘meets with’ the Senate Intelligence Committee today in the Russia hacking scandal

July 21, 2017

  According to CNN Susan Rice had a closed door “meeting” with the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier today. I use scare quotes around the word meeting because we do not know if she was testifying in front of the Committee or just meeting with the Committee. Was she under oath or was she not under oath? The article makes it sound as if she was not under oath, which I find interesting…

  Anyway, here is more:

  Susan Rice, who served as former President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, quietly met behind closed doors Friday with Senate intelligence committee investigators probing Russian meddling in the elections, according to an official familiar with the matter.

  Rice, one of three former Obama officials who met with the panel this week, has come under sharp scrutiny from some House Republicans because they believe she improperly “unmasked” — or revealed the identities collected in intelligence gathering — of Trump associates in US intelligence reports. She has vigorously denied any wrongdoing.
  “Ambassador Rice met voluntarily with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence today as part of the committee’s bipartisan investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election,” said Erin Pelton, a spokesperson for Rice, who also served as Obama’s US ambassador to the United Nations. “Ambassador Rice appreciates the Committee’s efforts to examine Russia’s efforts to interfere, which violated one of the core foundations of American democracy.”

Read more…

Samantha Power now in the spotlight in the ‘unmasking’ scandal investigation

July 20, 2017

  As I write every time I do a story on the unmasking scandal, this is one of the aspects of the Russia investigation which has not received the media attention it deserves. Most of the attention has revolved around Susan Rice, who recently delayed testifying in front of the Congress, and her potential role but now another official is coming under the spotlight.

  According to this story former United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power is emerging as a key figure in the story. Here is more:

Former United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power’s involvement in the unmasking by former Obama administration officials of sensitive national security information is raising red flags over what insiders view was an attempt by the former administration to undermine President Donald Trump and key figures on his team, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with the situation.

Power appears to be central to efforts by top Obama administration officials to identify individuals named in classified intelligence community reports related to Trump and his presidential transition team, according to multiple sources.

The names of Trump allies in the raw intelligence reports were leaked to the press in what many in Congress and the current administration claim is an attempt by Obama allies and former officials to damage the White House.

  Subpoenas have now been issued to Samantha Power, Susan Rice, and other top Obama administration officials. There is much more to read by following the link I provided above. If only the media cared about getting the truth about the whole scandal and not just the portions of the scandal which fits its agenda, the Democrats are not clean either…

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

Nancy Pelosi: Republican budget stirs up violence

July 19, 2017

  Earlier today Nancy Pelosi went on the offensive against the Republican budget claiming it stirs up violence. Here is some of what she said:

“A budget that says we do not measure the strength of our country in the health, education, and well-being of our people. We only measure it in military might,” Pelosi told the crowd. “You know what that does? It requires more military might. It takes us down the wrong path.”

“We take an oath to protect and defend,” Pelosi concluded. “But, that’s not the point of this. This is supposed to be a budget that prevents the spread of violence, instead they have a budget that stirs it up.”

   To date Nancy Pelosi has not commented on the violent rhetoric of the left which actually led to the shooting of Steve Scalice and others; such as Madonna dreaming of blowing up the White House, depicting  a beheaded Donald Trump, or putting on a play with Donald Trump getting stabbed to death. She has also not commented on any of the 15 different times celebrities have threatened violence against Donald Trump. Yet she chose a disagreement with policy to claim the Republicans were stirring up violence. 

  I think this tells us quite a bit about today’s left; no longer is it okay to disagree politically with them or to civilly debate the issues, any policy disagreement is apparently a call to arms.

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

The Supreme Court hands Donald Trump a partial victory over Hawaii judge’s ruling on the travel ban

July 19, 2017

  Last week a judge in Hawaii, Derrick Watson, ruled that Donald Trump was misinterpreting the Supreme Court decision which allowed the travel ban to continue pending a hearing during the next Supreme Court session by interpreting the decision too narrowly. Here is more on Justice Watson’s decision:

a federal judge’s decision to allow grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles and other relatives of people in the U.S. to circumvent the Trump administration’s travel ban policy.

The order, issued Thursday evening local time in Honolulu by Judge Derrick Watson in Hawaii, deals a temporary blow to one of the president’s signature initiatives. It also prohibits the administration from blocking refugees with a commitment from a resettlement agency in the U.S., a move that could revive the flow of refugee admissions this year.

Jeff Sessions immediately challenged the ruling to the Supreme Court and today they handed down a mixed decision. Here is more:

The Supreme Court says the Trump administration can strictly enforce its ban on refugees, but at the same time is leaving in place a weakened travel ban that includes grandparents among relatives who can help visitors from six mostly Muslim countries get into the U.S.

The justices acted Wednesday on the administration’s appeal of a federal judge’s ruling last week. U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson ordered the government to allow in refugees formally working with a resettlement agency in the United States. Watson also vastly expanded the family relations that refugees and visitors can use to get into the country.

The high court blocked Watson’s order as it applies to refugees for now, but not the expanded list of relatives. The justices said the federal appeals court in San Francisco should now consider the appeal. It’s not clear how quickly that will happen.

And more:

In the meantime, though, up to 24,000 refugees who already have been assigned to a charity or religious organization in the U.S. will not be able to use that connection to get into the country.

“This ruling jeopardizes the safety of thousands of people across the world including vulnerable families fleeing war and violence,” said Naureen Shah, Amnesty International USA’s senior director of campaigns.

That part of the court’s ruling was a victory for President Donald Trump, who rolled out a first ban on travelers and refugees after just a week in office, prompting a legal fight that has raged ever since.

But the Supreme Court also denied the administration’s request to clarify its ruling last month that allowed the administration to partially reinstate a 90-day ban on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and a 120-day ban on refugees from anywhere in the world.

The court’s ruling exempted a large swath of refugees and travelers with a “bona fide relationship” with a person or an entity in the U.S. The justices did not define those relationships but said they could include a close relative, a job offer or admission to a college or university.

Watson’s order added grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins

  Again, this is a mixed bag for the President’s travel ban but I am still left pondering something that bothers me about this whole story: The original travel ban was for 90 days because, we were told, it would take that amount of time to review the vetting process and yet months have now passed since the initial travel ban was blocked. Donald Trump did not have to wait for a decision on the travel ban before beginning a review of the vetting process so it seems to me the review should have been completed by now despite the fate of the travel ban. What is he waiting for if the refugees are the danger he claimed they were?

 malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

Donald Trump threatens to cut Obamacare subsidies

July 18, 2017

  With the Obamacare repeal bill dead before it arrived Donald Trump is once again talking about cutting the subsidies. Here is more:

Donald Trump holds a fuse in his hands — and he could decide to light it and blow up Obamacare insurance markets as soon as Thursday.

That’s the deadline for sending out the next monthly Affordable Care Act subsidies to health plans to defray the cost of caring for low-income individuals. Trump has toyed for months with the idea of stopping the payments to force Democrats to the negotiating table to avoid the prospect of millions of vulnerable Americans losing access to health coverage.

Trump has repeatedly told aides and advisers that he wants to end the subsidy payments, and he has not changed his position, according to several people who have spoken to him. “Why are we making these payments?” Trump has asked.

  In theory this might make sense as a means to force the Democrats to the negotiating table however this logic is flawed for two reasons: first; because the Republicans have not invited the Democrats to the negotiating table in the first place–the Republicans have been negotiating behind closed doors.

  And second; because it assumes the Democrats care about low-income families more than they care about scoring political points with these families. I believe the Democrats would be more than happy to let the cuts go through so they can blame Donald Trump and the Republicans thusly putting their own interests ahead of the interests of the people they claim to care the most about.

  This strategy might play well with Donald Trump supporters but I believe it will be a huge political disaster. At this point I think it is best to let Obamacare fail on its own–if indeed it is failing–and then move to fix what needs to be fixed. But then again the Democrats and the mainstream media will turn around and blame the Republicans for not fixing it when they knew it was going to fail.

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium