Nel's New Day

May 19, 2020

Sour Notes Continue from the $2.3 Trillion COVID-19 Bill

As I wait for my $1,200 check—not knowing whether I’ll ever get it because “Get My Payment” says I don’t exist–I follow what’s happening with the taxpayers’ $2.3 trillion assigned to rescue the country. (And yes, I fit all the eligibility requirements.)

Checks are being sent to people who have died, and now the government is sending two $500 payments for just one child. The parent claiming a child on the 2019 return should get the $500, but in the case of divorced, separated, or never-married parents who alternate claiming the child in different years, the parent claiming a child for 2020—who might not be the same one as 2019—might also receive $500. A check was also sent to a wealthy British woman who lives in London, as well as a double payment—one to the person who owed child support and another to the ex-spouse who filed an “injured spouse” claim.

These cases, however, are just the tip of the $2.3 trillion. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that 83 percent of the money in that bill goes to the top one percent. 

A $500 billion Treasury Department fund from the Cares Act passed in March still hasn’t spent much money, according to the Congressional Oversight Commission. The group doesn’t have a chairperson because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) disagree on the choice. The remaining four members issued a 17-page report, primarily questions about the process of the Treasury fund disbursements. The Treasury Department has created only one lending facility of $37.5 billion to purchase corporate debt. The department did set aside $46 billion for the airline industry but hasn’t disbursed any money. Guidelines for the Main Street Lending Program intended to help small and medium-size businesses—up to 15,000 employees and $5 billion in revenue—have changed. Loans are bigger; companies don’t have to claim they need the money because of the current health crisis; and applicants only need to make “commercially reasonable efforts” to maintain payroll and retain employees.

None of the $150 billion for state and local governments in the Municipal Liquidity Facility has gone out, and the Treasury Department has no response about how it and the Federal Reserve will assess success or failure of this program and the Main Street Program. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) described the money as a “slush fund” for corporations. Democrats are skeptical of the nominee to oversee the $500 billion Treasury Fund because he won’t comment about DDT’s firing at least four inspector generals in fewer than two months or the part he played in the on-going purge. Brian Miller’s level of independence was also questioned because, as senior associate counsel at the Office of White House Counsel, he participated in protecting DDT during the impeachment trial.

Among the first 96 airline companies receiving taxpayer funds, owners of two private jet companies donated to DDT’s and GOP campaigns in 2016. Catering to well-to-do CEOs and executives, Omaha (NE)-based Jet Linx Aviation, whose owner gave $68,100 to DDT’s campaign, received $20 million. Clay Lacy Aviation in Van Nuys (CA), whose founder gave almost $50,000 to the RNC, got $27 million. The other private jet companies received about $110 million to share among 68 of them. United Airlines got $5 billion and then told employees to voluntarily leave the company while it cuts pay and organizes layoffs. Among workers moved to part-time are 15,000 airport employees. United asserts it is complying with the terms of the bailout to keep employees.

Friends with cruise line owners, DDT is adamant about protecting the companies.  To avoid paying U.S. taxes or following U.S. environmental and health regulations, cruise lines do not register as U.S. companies. The Fed, however, is offering them billions in loans. Carnival has promised to mitigate health issues, but the cruise industry avoids most U.S. regulations

Big oil is getting $1.9 billion in tax breaks designed for small businesses. Diamond Offshore Drilling, already headed into bankruptcy, received a $9.7 million tax refund and then asked a bankruptcy judge to authorize the same amount as bonuses to nine executives. Its tax refund was small compared to the $55 million for Antero Midstream, $41.2 million for Oil States International, $96 million for Devon Energy,  $110 million for Valero, $195 million for Oxy, and $411 million for Marathon. The oil industry was using its financial problems from before the health crisis to get generous subsidies. Three coal companies with ties to DDT are receiving $22 million.

In addition to $16 billion in direct subsidies for oil and gas, the industry is lobbying for another $100 billion in tax cuts—especially for Halliburton and ExxonMobil. The IRS Inspector General found that almost $1 billion in credits were fraudulently claimed so GOP senators demanded that the tax credit be expanded and made permanent in the next COVID-19 stimulus bill. The Interior Department is granting royalty relief by reducing or eliminating the share due to taxpayers for oil and gas extracted from public lands and waters.

The fossil fuel industry has been getting trillions, likely $20 billion or more a year for over a century. The cost of these subsidies could be as high as $649 billion a year. The Department of Education gets $68 billion, and the National Institutes of Health $42 billion for 2020. Oil and gas companies needed bailouts not because of the health crisis but because they took on massive debt to drill more wells, leaving a glut of oil. Their stock placed last in the S&P 500’s index for the last decade.  

Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette admitted during a television appearance that the White House pushed the Federal Reserve to benefit fossil fuel companies by changing a lending program but that there was no encouragement to keep workers on the payroll. Bharat Ramamurti, a member of the Congressional Oversight Commission, has asked for an investigation after Brouillette said DDT personally told him and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to guarantee “access for these energy industries to those programs.”

A wealthy nonprofit think tank with a $115-million endowment and billionaire trustees, Aspen Institute, received $8 million in small business funds but decided to return it after negative publicity. The 72-person board includes Chairman James S. Crown, a member of one of America’s wealthiest families, and former Disney chairman Michael Eisner.

As the Federal Reserve gives out trillions of dollars in taxpayer money to large corporations, the recipients and amounts can be kept totally secret with no accountability. Terms, collateral, repayment, etc.—all these and more may never be revealed. Despite a 1976 law after Watergate that federal agencies’ meetings “be open to public observations,” closed-door meetings deliberating who and how much don’t need minutes until December 31, 2020. The record of votes can also be kept hidden during the COVID-19 crisis. Dispersing about $450 billion of the $500 billion bailout fund, the Federal Reserve can leverage that amount into $4.5 trillion.  Late last month, the Fed pumped $1 trillion a day into the banking system.

Small businesses—really small businesses with under 50 employees—are suffering around the country, but three-fourths of the 12,000 Catholic churches applying for money are thus far being given money from the stimulus law. Forty percent of Protestant churches applied for financial assistance and 59 percent of them also get funding. The bigger the church, the more likely it is to have applied. Among applications from Jewish organizations, 219 synagogues received over $50 million, and another 391 asking for $106 million are waiting for responses. Churches want money because their donations are down.

One goal of the Republicans is to use the COVID-19 crisis to cut Social Security benefits. Now that the huge corporations are getting trillions of dollars, Republicans are expressing concern about expenditures. One proposal, the Eagle Plan, pays individuals $10,000 in exchange for delays and/or cuts to Social Security benefits. The program is the brainchild of Jared Kushner and the State Department, odd because that agency isn’t in charge of domestic policy. DDT has said that he will not sign any future stimulus bill that doesn’t cut the payroll tax, money that pays for Social Security and Medicare.

Two months after the first COVID-19 relief bill went into law, it has been called insufficient, misguided, or both by a cross-section of lawmakers, economists, business groups, and labor advocates. One mistake was not paying companies directly to keep workers employed, a system used in some European countries. Instead, loans to companies went through the funnel of commercial lenders and were managed by the Small Business Administration. Black-owned businesses were disproportionately disadvantaged because tiny businesses with little credit and no relationship with lenders were bypassed for funding provided to firms with as many as 500 employees, also called a “small business.”

Banks didn’t receive guidance to prioritize rural businesses and those owned by veterans, women, and economically-disadvantaged people. The SBA didn’t provide a way to request this demographic information, but it did require that 75 percent of the money go to payroll although this was not part of the law.

Data shows that construction businesses, which didn’t stop during the crisis, got $45 billion more than any other sector. The second largest amount went to professional scientific and technical concerns whose lawyers, accountants, and financial planners worked from home. Publicly traded companies already doing poorly for decades did well in the bidding process.

As Republicans move forward with deregulation hidden under the health crisis, look for small bank failures as lawmakers and lobbyists push for the removal of financial safeguards. That will be the next need for bailouts.

May 19, 2020: 1,570,583 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (despite states concealing their numbers) in the U.S. with 93,533 deaths, and 37 states testing more than the U.S. based on numbers per million population.

May 5, 2020

The Selling of the Post Office

For months, Republicans have fought the idea of voting by mail, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) keeps threatening the United States Postal Service (USPS), perhaps because millions already cast their ballots by mail. Following is a piece by Sue Hardesty about the history and importance of this agency:

 

I grew up in the middle of the southern Arizona desert in a town of 1500, depending on the next birth or death. I still recall the thrill when I was 12 years old and was allowed to go the post office for the first time by myself. Everybody had to go to the post office for mail although larger towns had street delivery since 1863.

Once I even rode along with my Uncle Harold who had the second longest mail route in the United States. It was exciting until the afternoon summer sun heated our refrigeration-less car to 115 degrees while we traveled over 150 miles from one cactus to another. He was my hero, a keystone sentinel supporting the human truth that “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

Ever accommodating, Arizona mail had even been delivered by mule train. The post office in Peach Springs, Arizona, had a walk-in freezer for food deliveries. Social media, email, and texting have made an incredible difference in communication, but postal services still remain a major system to connect, one we can always depend on, one that provides a major stabilizing force in all our lives. Considering the tragic events around us, God knows we could use a stable force.

A bit of history explains how easy it is to lose one of our treasured foundations, i.e., even an actual Cabinet department. The USPS started in 1792, with Article 1, section 8, Clause 7, “to establish post offices and post roads.” Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first Postmaster General of the United States Postal Service and got a whopping $1,000 a year to build the post office services from Massachusetts to Georgia. The Postmaster General joined the President’s Cabinet in 1829, but that position disappeared under Richard Nixon in 1971. A law changed the postal service into a part of the Executive Branch. That’s how easy it is to get rid of a Cabinet department.

Originally, senders didn’t pay for using the mail items; the recipient had to pay. The first postal stamps issued on July 1, 1847, cost five and ten cents, and in 1855, this revenue began to support the USPS. Under Nixon, however, the postal service lost its ability to operate operation under non-profit rules to serve the public good and instead was forced to operate on a business model to deregulate, restructure, and decentralize. The USPS had to implement business marketplace methods and values of cutting costs, streaming operations, extinguishing unions, lowering wages, reducing jobs, and most of all, making a profit.  A profit which, by the way, it already made and always had. Part of the business model was to change the post office’s work from “in house” to privatizing jobs through contracts and giving large bulk mailing discounts to businesses.

Under President Ronald Reagan, postage was reclassified as a “product” of business instead of a government “user tax” (1982), and increased private contracts to big business eliminated jobs and services while reducing assets. Changes in USPS rates and procedures used “outsourcing” and “selling off assets” to supposedly guarantee the “best use of Postal Service assets.” The shifts took profits from the post office and moved them to private businesses

So what happens to the money you and I spend for postal services? According to the 2010 OIG report, the agency paid out $12 billion: FedEx got the most ($1.37 billion) to provide air transport and delivery overseas, tech supplier Northrop Grumman got $494 million, and UPS got $95 million. The rest of the $12 billion went to outside rental payments, purchases, outsourcing, and contracts to private corporations such as consolidators, pre-sort companies, and mailers like Amazon–all losses to the post office and to you and me as we watch money leaking by the billions to our new “business partners.” And the rich get richer.

Donald Trump has decided to completely privatize the USPS, and my memories may be all that’s left.  A private postal system, says the White House proposal, would “deliver mail fewer days per week, shift to cluster boxes instead of door and curb delivery, adjust prices and negotiate wages and benefits without government interference, and shrink its physical and personnel footprints,” i.e., close post offices, consolidate processing facilities, sell buildings, and dump jobs. Lots and lots of well paying jobs. While charging more for less service. 

Big business, however, needed one more push to drive the USPS into bankruptcy in order to sell it off to private businesses, and George W. Bush rode the elephant into the room in 2006 to finish pulverizing the USPS. That was the year that Bush signed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA), requiring USPS to pay an annual $5.5 billion up front covering future health care cost for retired workers for 50 year to 2056. This act pushed USPS into financial ruin, exposing it to a complete selloff. According to a report from the Institute for Policy Studies: 

“This extraordinary mandate, which applies to no other federal agency or private corporation, created a financial ‘crisis’ that has been used to justify harmful service cuts and even calls for postal privatization.”

Without Bush’s law, the USPS would be solvent. The post office revenue was $611 million over expenses even during Bush’s recession, the worst in 80 years.

In 2015, a CRS Report repeated the unfairness:

“No other federal agency faces a similar pre-funding mandate. Private companies that do pre-fund their future retirees’ health benefits don’t usually cover 100 percent of those costs in advance.” 

In 2019 the Postmaster General told a Congressional Committee that USPS “could not pay our employees, our suppliers, or deliver the mail,” under such a financial burden.

For the past 40 years our business-owned leaders, both Republicans and Democrats, have dismantled he USPS brick by brick and selling assets to big business. We complain about oligarchs as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, yet we go right on voting people into office who immediately sell us out to the highest bidder.

Business is important, but it doesn’t work as a model for operating any government. Roy Ulrich wrote:

“The idea that a businessman would make the best president—or governor or other political leader—is bogus. Some of the biggest presidential failures—Warren Harding, Herbert Hoover, and Andrew Johnson—were successful businessmen. On the flip side, businessman Harry Truman, considered one of our better presidents, was a failure as a haberdasher. Running a business requires different skills and managing a business.

“The entire focus of business is making a profit while government provides the foundation for businesses—building infrastructure, educating and defending people, and supporting industry. 

“Business leaders have no ‘separation of powers’ or ‘checks and balances’ while these are the bases for democracy. As a CEO, DDT controlled by snapping his fingers, but he’s had to watch the slow movement of the political world and been faced with compromise.

“Business leaders worry only about their own companies, but presidents are responsible to the entire world, not a finite group of shareholders, investors, and employees. The wrong words can drive down the stock market or cause military conflicts—even wars.”

This is not a new concept. John Adams stated:

“When economic power became concentrated in a few hands, then political power flowed to those possessors and away from the citizens, ultimately resulting in an oligarchy or tyranny.”

 Albert Einstein wrote:

“An oligarchy of private capital cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society because under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt stated:

“More striking still, it appeared that, if the process of concentration goes on at the same rate, at the end of another century we shall have all American industry controlled by a dozen corporations and run by perhaps a hundred men. Put plainly, we are steering a steady course toward economic oligarchy, if we are not there already.”

And from Bernie Sanders:

“This is what oligarchy looks like: Today, the top one-tenth of 1 percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. The top one-hundredth of 1 percent makes more than 40 percent of all campaign contributions. The billionaire class owns the political system and reaps the benefits from it.”

Our government does not “give” us anything. We all pay taxes for protections and services, including the post office. Yet we continue to deny ourselves the rightful benefits for citizens, especially in times like these, by voting in people who side with big business instead of government, lawmakers who destroy us through the law while they take our taxes for themselves. Although we all complain about the oligarchic “rich getting richer” running the country, we vote for them year after year. I wonder which Cabinet department will be next. Interior? Education? Or what major service? Social Security? Medicare? Police? Fire? My bet is on Social Security. Anybody want to join the betting pool? Please, for the sake of us all, the next time you vote, Republican or Democrat, make sure your vote doesn’t go to just another business drone.

https://www.savethepostoffice.com/how-to-privatize-the-post-office-piece-by-piece-step-by-step/

https://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/five-things/the-u-s-postal-service/11433/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/23/10-billion-treasury-loan-usps/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/04/27/trumps-claim-postal-service-loses-money-every-e-commerce-package-it delivers/?utm_campaign=wp_post_most&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_most

http://postalemployeenetwork.com/news/2011/08/post-office-makes-a-profit-congress-wont-let-it-keep/

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/04/07/lost-mail-coronavirus-era

May 2, 2020

$2.3 Trillion Law Fails, Senate Gets 1,000 Tests

Purge of the week: Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has replaced Christi Grimm, the top HHS watchdog, because her office released a report about shortages of testing and personal protective gear at hospitals. Replacement Jason Weida, who needs to be confirmed by the Senate, is an assistant U.S. attorney in Boston. Grimm, who was appointed by Clinton in 1999 to be in the inspector general’s office, has served both GOP and Democratic presidents. The White House has not commented about the replacement; the IG’s office praised its professionals. DDT also named a replacement for Marie Yovanovitch, Keith Dayton, to be ambassador to Ukraine.

Update for testing Senators: After Dr. Brian Monahan, the Capitol’s attending physician, said that he has enough tests for senators who appear ill and not enough for all of them. He also won’t have results for up to seven days. DDT sent three Abbott rapid testing machines and 1,000 tests so that senators could return to confirm his judges. Oregon requested 5,000 tests and received four. Each state, no matter the population, received 15 Abbott machines and 100 test cartridges—three weeks ago. DDT sent his acting chief of staff Mark Meadows to tell the doctor that he really has enough tests. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said today that he won’t accept DDT’s offer. His story may be different tomorrow. At the White House, DDT, VP Mike Pence, and aides who work with them are frequently testing, and everyone meeting with DDT and Pence is tested.  

DDT frequently used the $800 billion stimulus act in 2009 against President Obama, but the CARES Act of $2.3 trillion, passed on March 27, 2020, may be an albatross around DDT’s neck in an election year. Some of the effects from this law and the supplemental $484 billion added to the bill for the small business program passed on April 23, 2020:

The Paycheck Protection Program offering $659 billion for small businesses, which large businesses have taken advantage of, requires companies to use money certify to “retain workers and maintain payroll or make mortgage payments, lease payments, and utility payments.” Large companies have found ways to take the money from truly small businesses.

Because individual states are in charge of unemployment benefits, 71 percent of unemployed people failed to receive these benefits in March although 11 million people filed claims. States also have different caps from $235 per week in Mississippi to $823 per week in Massachusetts. Some states don’t provide benefits for dependents.

Sole proprietors and contractors are “shut out” of the small-business loan program, according to Michael Sasso at Bloomberg, despite claims from the Treasury Department​. Self-employed couldn’t start applying until a week after other businesses, received no guidance, and lost out because the money was given to big business within a few hours. Yet they cannot apply for unemployment.

Because private banks handled the “loans,” businesses that had done business with the banks were most likely to be first in line.; black and Latinx small businesses were most likely to be cut out. Requiring that 75 percent of the loans be use for payroll eliminated the real small businesses with primary expenses of location or facilities.

Small farmers and ranchers have been overlooked because of trouble getting loans. Their lenders couldn’t get approved by Treasury to loan out money in the first bill.

Almost 300 publicly traded companies were sent over $1 billion meant for small businesses. About 12.5 percent of that money was returned, but other companies plan to keep the money because they followed the program’s rules. CEO’s of some companies make millions—up to $18 million—in compensation.

Chain restaurants and hotels received tens of millions of dollars in forgivable loans if individual locations employed fewer than 500 people. Ashford Hospitality and Braemar Hotels & Resorts received $76 million from other 100 filings. A characteristic of many corporations receiving millions and millions of dollars from the $2.3 trillion is their donations to DDT’s campaign. At least 25 officials who formerly worked for DDT’s administration, campaign, or transition team are now registering as lobbyists to get money from DDT with great success.

Among big business that took advantage of the GOP loophole was the burger chain Shake Shack with 120 locations got $10 million (which it did give back); Ruth’s Chris’s Steakhouse got $20 million (also returning money); and the LA Lakers worth about $3.7 billion got $4.6 million. AutoNation, a publicly-held retailer in 18 states worth billions and employing 26,000 people, got $77 million in funds directed to small businesses. After 81 different company locations received money, AutoNation’s board did vote tor return the money although they said they received it legally. According to documents, the company may have received $95 million although AutoNation disputes the amount. The agency handing out money refuses to release information about who gets loans and how much they are.

Just 4 percent of small businesses asked for more than $1 million in the first round of giveaways, but they received 45 percent of the forgivable loan program’s funds.

Large companies crying about how much money they lost in the pandemic spent massive amounts of money for share buybacks after billions and billions of increased profit from large tax cuts. Bharat Ramamurti, Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) staff member and the first person appointed to the Congressional Oversight Committee observing the $2.3 trillion bailout, demanded that the Fed release information about the names and amounts of corporate recipients. Ramamurti’s letter to Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.

The Small Business Administration said publicly-traded businesses should return the monies by May 7 because those corporations with “substantial market value” and the ability to raise money in capital markets were not intended recipients. Companies in the hotel, cruise ship, and medical-device sectors said they are qualified to receive the money under the Paycheck Protection Program and won’t return it.

Areas in which COVID-19 most affected small businesses, i.e., New York and New Jersey, received the least loans from the program. Approximately 30 states and territories—many of the Democratic—have requested the funding. DDT released about $2.6 million after three 2017 hurricanes, about $2,700 per approved applications.

Hospitals have no idea how they will be getting their funding. HHS has given them no information and bans any hospital that uses the funds from billing patients. The FCC refuses to grans some of the $200 million for hospitals for the telehealth program.

DDT refuses to authorize FEMA to release funeral expense money for low-income families.  

Cigna executives reassured the health company’s investors that the pandemic doesn’t hurt its business, that the company was making so much it was considering the takeover of rivals or purchase of its own stock. Then Cigna’s lobbyists begged members of Congress for financial help, requesting subsidies to employers and individuals to keep their insurance coverage and funding to help plans that incur “extraordinary, unplanned costs” from COVID-19. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin may give it to them.

The Federal Reserve has created its own program to lend money to “mid-sized” businesses. The Main Street Lending Program originally permitted loans to companies with under 10,000 employees and $2.5 billion in revenues but increased the number of employees to 15,000 and revenue to $5 billion in revenues to lend to oil companies. Borrowers cannot issue dividends and must comply with limits on employee pay as well as “make reasonable efforts” to keep employees. The $46 billion for airlines and national security of the disaster relief law has the same requirements, but companies must keep at least 90 percent of the employees.

To get money to large corporations other than through the almost $3 trillion, the Federal Reserve has a program bypassing Congress for giving hundreds of billions of dollars to large U.S. corporations. The central bank will purchase up to $500 billion in bonds issued by large companies, and companies will pay the money back with interest. With no requirement for companies to save jobs, the support is also exempt from congressional rules to limit dividends, executive compensation, and stock buybacks. An earlier version of this program required limits on executive pay and dividends, but the Fed changed to fewer restrictions, removing conditions in the public interest.

A provision of the disaster relief law is that it stops government wage garnishing except for non-payment of child support through September 30. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos ignored this part of the law as she continues to garnish wages of federal loan borrowers in arrears. About 285,000 people have their wages garnished between March 13 and March 26 although DeVos announced in March she would stop automatically seizing the wages and tax refunds. The department now says it will refund the garnished funds but has no timeline for this to happen. DeVos and the government are being sued.

Lawmakers are already discussing the next bill to salvage the U.S. from COVID-19, but McConnell kept claiming that states wouldn’t not get any money—that they could go bankrupt. Outside of the fact that the process may not be legal for states, McConnell found himself in trouble with Kentucky during his re-election year. Without aid to states, they would be forced to raise taxes, anathema to Kentuckians. Maybe a bankruptcy judge could eliminate state government, wiping out jobs. Bankruptcy means no pensions for any government workers, moving all those votes to McConnell’s Democratic opponent.

Deciding that his bankruptcy idea wasn’t good for him at this time, McConnell has another ploy: give the states some aid in exchange for his demand of no liability for companies who force workers back on the job without sufficient protection if they become ill or die from COVID-19. DDT will love the idea because he’s forcing meat plants open with no protection for employees. 

Meanwhile Republicans will push through another batch of incompetent, inexperienced conservative people as lifetime judges–unless those tests find enough sick GOP senators.

December 7, 2019

Week 150: Beyond Impeachment

This week continues the impeachment inquiry and follows the NATO disaster, but more news deserves attention.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has a Christmas gift for 3.7 million, many of whom probably voted for him: hunger. He’s taking food stamps from 755,000 people and making three other changes which reduce [visual] benefits for 2.2 million people by $127, another 3 million dropped by $37 per month, and 1 million children out of free and reduced lunch programs. It’s 9.4 percent reduction in the number of people receiving benefits and 8 percent drop in overall benefits. Most food stamps to go low-income white people, millions of them seniors, but cuts are also for low-income veterans.

DDT’s actions save a little over $1 billion a year while he hands out an additional $16 billion to big farms because of his trade war with China. The bottom 80 percent of farmer recipients received little more than $5,000. Meanwhile the number of farm bankruptcies match those at the height of the Great Recession in 2010. On Fox, Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said that impeachment inquiries don’t feed people. Neither does DDT. But he has enough food for himself.

In more destruction of the judicial system, Sarah Pitlyk, the fifth “not qualified” judge to be confirmed by Republican senators, claims that claimed that fertility treatment has “grave effects on society” and leads to “diminished respect for motherhood.” At 42 years old, Pitlyk will be on the bench in Missouri for a long time. A previously GOP-confirmed unqualified judge, lacks any “significant trial experience,” according to the ABA. McConnell recommended Walker, who had clerked for Brett Kavanaugh and defended his boss. 

DDT looks to the Supreme Court for defense after courts rule against him. Deutsche Bank and Capital One were ordered to give up DDT’s financial records for himself, immediate family, and the Trump Organization to two House committees, according to a 2-1 panel of judges from the 2nd Circuit Court, but the Supreme Court stayed the order until December 13 to deliberate about a longer stay. DDT declared that giving the records to the House committee for Financial Services and Intelligence would compromise his privacy, distract him, and has no valid purpose. He also filed an appeal of a court ruling in Washington directing Mazars to turn over financial records and tax returns to the House Oversight Committee and to New York prosecutor Cyrus Vance.

The Supreme Court did stay capital punishment by the DOJ until the D.C. Circuit Court reviews the ruling blocking executions.

Monsanto will pay $10.2 million in criminal fines after pleading guilty to spraying banned pesticides on corn seed and research crops on the Hawaiian island of Maui in 2014. The company will also pay $10 million to California in another plea deal. Third-quarter earnings for Bayer, Monsanto’s owner, were $1.15 billion so the fines were 0.018 percent of that profit. Almost 43,000 plaintiffs are suing Monsanto, up from 18,400 three months earlier.

DDT faces more investigation for his victory in hiring a North Dakota company to build a wall through a wild-life refuge. The $400 million would go to a company that failed to meet standards. DDT made the choice its CEO, Tommy Fisher, appeared frequently on Fox to ask for the contract.

A judge stopped the building of a GoFundMe wall along the southern border because of no permits, no studying its engineering, and harming the neighboring National Butterfly Center with a planned “water wall” between the nature refuge and a state park. In redirecting floodwater to the sanctuary, the water wall would wipe out vegetation, destroy the site, and reduce the property value. Despite the court ruling, the group bulldozes its way forward. A temporary restraining order lasts until December 17 and can be renewed for two weeks before possibly leading to a temporary injunction hearing.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers isn’t happy about Jared Kushner’s plans to set up web cameras for live streaming the building of DDT’s wall. It seems that contractors don’t want their proprietary explained to billions of people around the world, including other builders and people wanting to subvert the wall. Officials also know that the video will show U.S. work crews violating Mexican sovereignty when they go across the border to maneuver vehicles and other heavy equipment. Project costs include setting up web connectivity and people to continually reposition cameras. DDT’s son-in-law, Kushner will probably come out on top. 

A serious obstacle for the wall is the amount of private land that the government must acquire—162 miles out of the planned 166 miles in Texas, for example. Landowners are fighting the loss of their land, even government employers wandering across their land without permission.

After Prince Andrew got caught up in the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, the royal became another person who DDT “doesn’t know,” although photos contradict DDT’s lie. After Gordon Sondland, ambassador to EU, testified against DDT, he “didn’t know him well.” DDT may know Sondland even less after three women accused him of sexual misconduct and then retaliated against them professionally after they rejected his advances.  Sondland denies the accusations, but prominent Oregon GOP politicians are giving away his campaign donations to them.  

Kellyanne Conway has loyally lied for DDT since before becoming his campaign manager in August 2016. Yet DDT said on Fox & Friends that “she must have done some bad things to [her husband George Conway] because that guy is crazy.” The fight between the Conways—Kellyanne the DDT enabler and George the DDT critic—has now gone very public, and the White House has joined Kellyanne in viciously attacking George. Kellyanne is still defending DDT, this time claiming that the world leaders make fun of DDT because they are “jealous” of him. Derogatory comments from leaders representing at least 50 countries in the world.

When Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited DDT in the White House, DDT asked Sen. Kevin Kramer (R-ND) to block a resolution on Turkey’s genocide of the Armenian people to please Erdoğan. It was the third time that DDT told a GOP senator to block the resolution, but earlier Kramer had sponsored a resolution to recognize the genocide, and DDT made him complicit in pandering to a foreign autocratic leader.

Having acquired Rudy Giuliani’s phone logs, Congress knows he called the White House, but the calls aren’t recorded on its logs. DDT evidently uses his personal cell phone to hide his calls—like he falsely accused Hillary Clinton’s use of emails. Former officials said DDT gave his private number to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and routinely uses his phone to avoid calls being recorded—a violation of the law. His refusal to use secure telephone lines also allows anyone—including the Russians and Chinese—to record his calls. DDT demanded that CNN retract its story, but reporters continue to stand by it.

When DDT invited reporters to the White House for an introduction to Conan, the dog taking part in the raid that took down the ISIS leader, he told them, “If you open your mouths, you will be attacked.” Normal for him, but the sex of the dog was where the story went strange. Over a period of two days, reports of Conan’s gender changed four times, starting and ending with male. Either no one at the White House or Pentagon can sex a grown dog, or they lied to agree with DDT. Although the changes aren’t earth shattering, reports prove that no one can believe anything that comes out of the White House. Sharpie, anyone? 

In late November, DDT tied himself to the achievement of 1920 when he signed the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemorative Coin Act, honoring the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote: 

“I am curious why wasn’t it done a long time ago and also, well, I guess the answer to that is because now I am president and we get things done. We get a lot of things done that nobody else got done.”

Centennials come on the 100th anniversaries so they aren’t done before the 100th anniversary. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) explained the purpose of the act to DDT, and he asked again, “So why wasn’t this done a long time ago — years ago?” And the Republicans cling to this dementia.

Yesterday, DDT went even crazier. He followed his past attacks on a move from incandescent to LED lighting to a huge concern about toilets because faucets and flushing forces the water “out to sea…. And you don’t get any water; you turn on the faucet and you don’t get any water.” According to DDT, “people are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once.” He claims he doesn’t have enough water to wash his hands so he ordered the EPA to look into his problems. DDT wants “no obstruction.” Perhaps DDT is upset because he was offered a solid gold toilet from a museum instead of the van Gogh he wanted. The sculpture, called “America,” ended up installed at Winston Churchill’s former home, Blenheim Palace, before it was stolen in September.  

June 10, 2019

‘The Best [Corrupt] People’

When Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) got elected, he frequently claimed that he would “surround myself only with the best and most serious people.” These “best people” have proved to be a disaster, even to DDT, and his phenomenal turnover means that at least 50 top officials left him within the past 16+ months since his inauguration.

Some of their names might not be well-known, but their disastrous influence remains. For example, leaving this past week was Kevin Hassett, chair of DDT’s Council of Economic Advisers and advocate of DDT’s tax cuts. Hassett said that his departure has nothing to do with DDT’s disastrous tariff decisions, but he questions a successful forecast in GDP growth for 2019 and is “very much concerned” about the growing fiscal deficit. Other departed economic advisers include Paul Winfree who came from the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation, Jeremy Katz who also pushed the tax cut bill, Dina Powell who worked with Ivanka Trump on “empowerment of women,” Gary Cohn who was formerly president and COO of Goldman Sachs who wasn’t happy with DDT’s blaming “both sides” in the neo-Nazi protest in Charlottesville (VA) and left after dissatisfaction with DDT’s tariff policy, Everett Eissenstat who left to be GM’s senior vice president of global public policy, Clete Willems who dumped a job to negotiate with China to join a law firm public law and policy practice, and Linda McMahon who helped build World Wrestling Entertainment who did stay with DDT to chair one of his super PACs. And these are only some of the people in his economic world.

Staying, of course, is DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who seems to be charge of almost everything because he doesn’t have any other place to go. Almost totally silent for his first two years, he appeared two times in the past few weeks. One was testimony with hardliner neo-Nazi Stephen Miller in a closed Senate session about DDT’s new immigration plan. Kushner managed to avoid most questions and failed to provide solutions while frequently interrupted by Miller. Republicans publicly praised Kushner for the presentation of a merit-based system for the highest skilled people but privately said that he lacked clear answers. He said that immigrants would be required to pass a civics test to get access to the point system but then avowed that the central purpose is to unify immigrant families, including mothers and children. He couldn’t answer a question about what do to with undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. Because Kushner rejected the idea of DACA, GOP officials gave the immigration plan as much chance as Kushner’s peace plan in the Middle East—which is zero.

Kushner’s next performance, an interview with Axios, got a lot more media play: 

“Uh when there are things that they don’t do that we do not approve of, we we talk about that with them privately, but we feel like we’re in a position now where there’s a lot of interest that we have that are shared with them.”—about Kushner’s relationship with Saudi Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who tortured and dismembered Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. (After Kushner’s interview, DDT said he didn’t blame MBS for Khashoggi’s murder.)

“It’s a horrific thing that happened, and what we’ve done is we’ve called for full transparency.”—about whether the Saudis should return Khashoggi’s body for a proper burial.

“Look, I would not have come into government had there been anything salacious and nefarious that I was worried about.”—about the headline, “Background check chief has ‘never seen’ mistakes and omissions at level of Jared Kushner forms.”

“So, the answer is no, absolutely not. You can’t not be a racist for 69 years, then run for president and be a racist. And what I’ll say is that when a lot of the Democrats call the president a racist, I think they’re doing a disservice to people who suffer because of real racism in this country…. Like I said, I wasn’t involved in that.”—a statement that he made over and over about whether DDT is a racist, with the example that DDT continually claimed that President Obama was not born in the United States.

“Look, I think that the president did his campaign the way he did his campaign.”—about whether DDT’s campaign pledge to ban Muslims from the U.S. was “religiously bigoted.”

“It doesn’t make a difference.”—about the number of refugees permitted to settle in the U.S.

“I do think this is a terrible thing. Because you want people who have been successful in this country, who have taken advantage of the greatness of the opportunity that America provides, to go into government and to serve their country. When they get harassed and they have their companies looked at and their employees have to deal with this nonsense because people want to push a narrative, I think that’s a terrible thing.”—about whether Deutsche Bank should examine transactions moving cash from companies Kushner controls to Russians.

“[The meeting was] total waste of time, [and] we were not given anything that was salacious.”—about whether he should have called the FBI about Russian offering dirt on Hillary Clinton and whether he would call the FBI if it happened again.

“Look, I’m not here to be trusted.”—about why Palestinians don’t trust him in the peace negotiations.

Kushner owns part of real estate company Cadre that received $90 million in mysterious foreign funding since he became DDT’s senior adviser. The money was funneled from a Cayman Islands through Goldman Sachs. Kushner was refused a security clearance, but DDT demanded that he be given one.

Another Cabinet member is also being investigated for conflict of interest. Elaine Chao, Transportation Secretary and wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), has high-level political connections in China because of her family’s shipping company which helped both Chao and McConnell prosper. Part of Chao’s job is to promote U.S. maritime industry.

Chao’s father James S.C. Chao was once roommate with Jiang Zemin who became president of China. He founded Foremost Group, a New York-based shipping company in 1964 and received a big contract with the U.S. government to ship rice to Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. In 1984, the Chao family acquired part of a Chinese-owned manufacturer of marine electronic equipment although they can’t remember the investment. With some of its ship-building financed by Chinese loans, Foremost ships over 70 percent of its freight, mostly iron ore, to China for steel manufacturing. DDT has temporarily lifted tariffs on imported steel. Chao’s Transportation Department has cut programs for U.S.-flagged ships and replacing ships to train U.S. mariners. Congress replaced the money, but Chao is still being questioned for her connections and status to boost Foremost’s reputation and visibility. In her confirmation hearings, she failed to mention her family’s deep ties to the Chinese maritime industry and her accolades China gives her, a violation of her questionnaire. Thirteen members of the Chao family donated over $1 million to McConnell’s campaigns and PACs. James Chao gave the couple at least $25 million.

McConnell himself also has problems with taking campaign money from Russians–$3.5 million from oligarch Oleg Deripaska. When DDT wanted to lift sanctions last year against mafia-esque Deripaska, Vladimir Putin’s friend, McConnell pushed the Senate into following DDT’s directions although the GOP House voted 362-53 to keep the sanctions in place. Lifting sanctions allowed Deripaska’s aluminum company Rusal and its parent company En+ back into the U.S. Within four months of McConnell’s favor to Deripaska, who also worked with DDT’s convicted former campaign manager Paul Manafort, Deripaska’s Russian aluminum company Rusal sent $200 million for a $1.7 billion aluminum plant in northeastern Kentucky. Part of the action came from Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), known for his ethical problems with prostitution. Vitter’s wife, one of DDT’s judicial nominees, was not been able to get confirmed for over 18 months—partly because she didn’t support Brown v. Topeka, the Supreme Court case that just celebrated its 55th anniversary for overturning public school segregation. Soon after Sen. Vitter told McConnell about brokering the deal to pour Deripaska’s money into Kentucky, wife Wendy Vitter was confirmed for her lifetime federal judicial term. And the payoffs are all out in the open, no need to hide any of the quid pro quo.

The husband/wife team work well together. Chao designated a special liaison, McConnell’s advance man Scott Inman in McConnell’s 2014 election, to help with grant applications and other priorities from the Transportation Department for McConnell’s state of Kentucky, providing him with at least $78 million for his projects as he runs for re-election in 2020. No other state has this advantage. Earmarks are supposedly no longer legal, but McConnell has found another way to funnel a large amount of money into his state as these details prove. As McConnell said, “All 100 senators may have one vote, but they’re not all equal. Kentucky benefits from having one of its own setting the agenda for the country.” And set it, he does.

March 18, 2019

Some Republicans Briefly Oppose DDT

Congress is on a week-long recess this week—why, I don’t know—but last week it made two historic moves when GOP Republican senators voted against Dictator Donald Trump (DDT)—twice. Both of them are resolutions that opposed DDT’s power, and one has already been vetoed.

The first has been returned to the House for approval after the House already voted in favor of a similar bill. The War Powers resolution would eliminate U.S. military support for the assault on Yemen in a coalition led by Saudi Arabia. Since 2015, U.S. forces have provided targeting and refueling support to Saudi and United Arab Emirates warplanes that deliberately bomb civilian targets. A complete failure, the Saudi war against Houthi rebels has created the worst cholera epidemic in modern times and “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.” Fourteen million Yemenis are on the edge of starvation. Saudi needs U.S. support to continue the war, and DDT’s administration plans to continue its support despite bipartisan opposition to DDT’s loyalty to the murderous Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Senate does have a bill to stop U.S. sales of weapons to Saudi and place sanctions on Saudi after MBS’s torture and dismemberment of U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Passing the resolution with a 54-46 vote, the Senate supported the resolution for the second time in three months. Last December, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) refused to allow a vote after the Senate passed it 56-41, but the House now passed it by 248-177. Congress has not withdrawn U.S. forces from an authorized war for 45 years.

The second historic congressional action was the 59-41 vote to overturn DDT’s national emergency wall-building order after the House had passed the bill by 245-182, a bill that DDT almost immediately vetoed. Twelve Republicans voted against DDT after he spent almost two weeks begging them to support him. GOP lawmakers voting against DDT’s executive order know that the Constitution grants Congress, not the president, spending control.

Caving in to DDT’s threats to campaign against them in 2020, all GOP senators running for re-election except Susan Collins (ME) voted for his emergency declaration although several of those who voted against the resolution said that they supported it. Last month, Thom Tillis (SC) said he would vote for the disapproval, writing in an opinion piece for the WaPo that there would be “no intellectual honesty” in supporting DDT’s executive overreach when he had opposed that action under President Barack Obama. He lost his “intellectual honesty” and supported DDT’s executive overreach with the excuse that DDT will stop presidential powers with changes to the National Emergencies Act.

One new senator asked for a bribe in exchange for her vote. Appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) told VP Mike Pence that she’ll vote against the bill blocking DDT’s emergency declaration if he gives her more money for the military in Arizona. She may have to vote for more Pentagon funding because the Pentagon wants more funding if it has to pay for wall.

Democratic representatives plan an override vote on March 26 although Republicans will most likely not vote to oppose DDT’s emergency declaration. The Senate would need eight more votes to override the veto, and 21 are under DDT’s thumb if they run for re-election. Only one, Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander, has said he won’t run for re-election. Schumer has suggested that Democratic senators may attach Rep. Juan Castro’s (D-TX) disapproval resolution language as amendments to larger bills, including spending and defense funding reauthorization. Republicans who allow DDT to pluck money from the military for his wall may be in trouble with their constituents with the loss of jobs for the projects.

After voting to abdicate their responsibilities to determine expenditures, some Republicans are considering changes to the National Emergencies Act to more easily stop future emergency declarations as an end run around Congress—possibly as a control on a Democratic president. DDT opposes restrictions on his powers, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said, “Republican Senators are proposing new legislation to allow the President to violate the Constitution just this once in order to give themselves cover.”

Twenty states are suing the administration in opposition to DDT’s order to build his wall. Three issues to be considered:

For “standing” to be able to sue, plaintiffs must prove they are harmed. The states argue that the funding will be diverted from state-based projects, and landowners can sue for seizure of their property. Democratic legislators can also sue with the precedent of Republicans suing President Obama for payouts to insurers under the Affordable Care Act that were not approved by Congress.

The question of whether an emergency at the southern border must be proved, and DDT said, “I didn’t need to [declare an emergency].” Other arguments against the emergency include data about lower crossings, less crime from immigrations, and drugs moved through official ports of entry can also be argued. Congressional majority votes against the executive order also factor into this decision.

The third point argued in the lawsuit is whether the wall construction is a “military” project. Border enforcement is typically a civilian project, and leaders of the military complex have already said that it is “security,” not “military” as DDT’s acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Four days after Congress passed the resolution to overturn DDT’s executive order, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan provided a list to Congress with several hundred construction projects costing $12.9 billion in dozens of states and U.S. bases around the world that would be impacted shortly after DDT’s acting chief in staff Mick Mulvaney said that no list exists. The release of the list to the media has resulted in a hornet’s nest of papers across the United States furious about the losses to military construction projects.

Republicans promised Democrats that this bipartisan effort to lead the country is a short-term thing. In their efforts to placate DDT, they said that they’ll be back on his side after the two votes this week. The House has passed many bills in their two months of the 116th Congress, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has promised that they won’t “see the light of day.”

McConnell’s power hasn’t brought him popularity. He’s up for re-election next year, and 61 percent of people in Kentucky think it’s “time for someone new.” Only 32 percent think he “deserves to be reelected.” Before January, McConnell was the third more unpopular senator in the country: Sens. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) retired, and Claire McCaskill (MO) were voted out of office. McConnell’s state disapproval rating of 47 percent last year went up to 56 percent in February. Nation-wide, 40 percent of people gave him an unfavorable rating.

Hundreds of youth activists from the Sunrise Movement protested at McConnell’s office where 42 of them were arrested. The group claims that McConnell does not answer their emails; he did not speak to them at the protest. Destine Rigsby, a 17-year-old from Louisville, said of McConnell: “You line your pockets while we die in floods and choke on the air we breathe, yet you don’t even have the decency to look us in the eyes.”

DDT’s base and GOP legislators wanting to get re-elected seem to be the only ones defending DDT’s wall. Four-star Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, tasked with troops at the southern border, told Congress that Russia is the main threat facing the U.S. No mention of Mexico, caravans, or drugs. He added that “the threats to our nation from our southern border are not military in nature.” At least, DDT may have decided not to take $1 billion from military pay and pensions for his wall.

Sixty percent of Texas voters disapprove of President Donald Trump using emergency powers to fund the wall; 52 percent of voters said they don’t believe undocumented immigrants crossing the border amounts to a national emergency. According to 57 percent of Texas voters, a wall on the Mexican border would not “significantly decrease violent crime in the U.S.” while 54 percent said the wall would not “significantly decrease the amount of illegal drugs in the U.S.” In the general population, an average of 64 percent polling oppose the national emergency. Only 27 percent of poll respondents oppose a veto override; 46 percent support the override.

Another of DDT’s broken promises: Mexico isn’t paying for the expensive, unneeded wall.

DDT’s re-election campaign is asking for donations to the “Wall Defense Fund” with the money going directly into the campaign general funds. From there, it goes to DDT’s businesses and lawyers who defend his family members and some of his former officials. [Above: the wall that Nogales doesn’t want]

 

March 15, 2019

DDT Promises Violence If Investigations Continue

During Michael Cohen’s testimony before the House Oversight Committee, the former fixer for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) warned of violent consequences if DDT doesn’t get elected president. He said:

“I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 that there will never be a peaceful transition of power.”

DDT may be moving up the timeline. He began promoting violence at an August 2016 rally in North Carolina when he said that “the Second Amendment people” might have a way to stop Hillary Clinton “if she gets to pick her judges.” He continued his call for violence since he was inaugurated with his statement about “tough people” like “law enforcement, military, construction workers, Bikers for Trump,” adding that he hopes they stay peaceful. Since then he has used the same subtle statement, but he was much stronger in calling for violence in an interview with the far-right Breitbart website. Referring to the same “tough people” in talking about investigations into him, DDT added, “They don’t play it tough until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.” [Photo from a Bikers for Trump event at his Bedminster (NJ) golf resort on August 11, 2018; image by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images.]

The calls for violence go beyond promising to pay for his audience’s lawyers if they initiate violence against protesters to the point of claiming that he will order violence from armed military and allies to physically defend himself against “Democrats” who investigate him.

As the investigations accelerate, especially after the Democratic control of the House, DDT’s terror about investigations become more manifest, for example this morning’s tweet that “there should be no Mueller report.” DDT may also have made Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin afraid of him. In the past, Mnuchin has said that he will comply with the law if members of Congress legally request DDT’s tax returns. During a hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee, Mnuchin added that “we will protect the president” to his earlier claim that he will “follow the law.” The two statements are opposite because the law states he will “furnish” the returns upon request of the committee’s chair.

Current White House Counsel Pat Cipollone has told Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) that two of DDT-associated attorneys, former White House Deputy Counsel Stefan Passantino and his personal attorney Sheri Dillon, won’t be available to the House Oversight Committee. Cummings said that the two attorneys “may have provided false information” about hush money payments to Stormy Daniels.

Cohen has given the House Intelligence Committee documents about DDT’s secret deal-making with Russia over a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow and returned to testify. The documents show edits to the false written statement he submitted to Congress in 2017 made by DDT’s lawyer Jay Sekulow, who encouraged Cohen to lie under oath. Cohen also claims that attorney Abbe Lowell, representing Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, had also reviewed his 2017 statements to Congress. Sekulow denied that DDT’s lawyers had either reviewed or changed Cohen’s earlier testimony. Cohen’s earlier testimony already implicated DDT in at least 11 separate felonies:

Russia Conspiracy Case: Links to hacked Democratic emails stolen by Russian spies.

Lying to Mueller: Falsehoods in writing from DDT about his conversation with Roger Stone regarding the hacked emails.

Suborning Perjury: Orders to Cohen that he lie to Congress under oath about trying to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign and DDT’s personal lawyers who “reviewed and edited” Cohen’s congressional statement before submission, including the “length of time that the Trump Tower Moscow project stayed and remained alive.”

Campaign Finance Violations: DDT’s directive to organize hush-money payments during the campaign with evidence from a check signed by DDT for reimbursement of payout to Stormy Daniels.

Election Fraud: Hush-money payments to silence women and conceal DDT’s affairs from the voters that thwarted a fair election.

Insurance Fraud: DDT’s false claims to insurance companies that inflated the size of his assets in a ploy to reduce his premiums. [Visual on desktop]

Witness Tampering: DDT’s threatening intimidation of Cohen to “persuade” him from testifying against DDT.

Bank Fraud: DDT’s inflation of personal wealth while trying to borrow money from Deutsche Bank in a failed attempt to buy the Buffalo Bills in 2014. (Cohen said that DDT almost doubled his statement of finances by claiming that putting his name on anything is worth $4 billion.)

Tax Fraud: DDT’s deflation of “assets to reduce his real estate taxes,” for example claiming that he claimed, for tax purposes, that the National Golf Club Jupiter in Florida was worth “no more than $5 million” when he valued it at over $50 million on his financial disclosure forms. (The New York Times’ investigation found DDT “participated in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud.”

Financial Disclosure: The conspiracy of false accounting entries of the Trump Organization by DDT’s failure to disclose his debt to Cohen for making the hush-money payment to Stormy Daniels, probably to conceal the reimbursement.

Misusing Charitable Funds: DDT’s use of his charity’s money to buy a painting of himself after driving up the bid and then keeping the painting.

And More Undisclosed Crimes: Criminal allegations from prosecutors for the Southern District of New York about additional lines of investigation.

The New York attorney general’s office subpoenaed Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank for financing records connected to four of DDT’s business projects in Washington, DC, Chicago, and outside as well as failure to buy the NFL Buffalo Bills in 2014. Michael Cohen, DDT’s former fixer, has suggested that DDT illegally inflated and deflated his personal wealth for gain. In 2011 and 2012, for example, DDT’s debt load may have seemed smaller on his Statements of Financial Condition because he omitted a Chicago hotel with a high debt. Fraud against financial institutions is fraudulent and one of the convictions for Paul Manafort and part of Cohen’s prison term.

Democrats in the House continued to terrify DDT, recently with the hire of a former Manhattan prosecutor who specialized in Russian organized crime. Daniel Goldman will be working for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) who is coordinating with House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) to investigate DDT’s relationship with Deutsche Bank which has paid multimillion-dollar penalties for working with Russian money launderers.

Some current House inquiries and requested sources for testimonies:

Campaign finance from illegal donations: Michael Cohen

Russian interference in the 2016 election and collusion with DDT’s campaign: Felix Sater (DDT’s Russian born business partner the mafia ties)

Family separation of migrants on the southern border from DHS’s “zero tolerance” policy: Kirstjen Nielsen (DHS Secretary), Bill Barr (AG), and Alex Azar (HHS)

Obstruction of justice: Donald Trump Jr. and 80 others

Security clearances: White House

Shutdown and its affect on the Coast Guard, Indian Country, damage to public lands, and delayed back pay

DDT’s tax returns: Steve Mnuchin (Treasury Secretary)

Trump Organization, including possible money laundering, mismanagement of charitable funds, and revenue from its DC hotel violating the Constitution

Ethics violations such as activities by former EPA director Scott Pruitt, HHS Tom Price, and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke as well as current expenditures

Census attempt to add a citizen question: Wilbur Ross, who committed perjury but no Republican called him a liar

Reps. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Don Beyer Jr. (D-VA) have also referred Jared Kushner to the DOJ for investigation because of his false statements on security clearance applications and in public interviews.

The Senate is also looking into DDT’s security clearances. After discovering that DDT overruled security clearances about 30 times, Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) are introducing the Integrity in Security Clearance Determinations Act to stop this abuse. Among the 30 are the clearances DDT gave to daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner after they failed FBI checks but politically retaliated against former CIA John Brennan by removing his clearance because Brennan criticized him.

The House must be doing the right things. Fox network, the same one that squashed the story about the Stormy Daniels affair before the 2016 election, is pushing to get rid of five of these investigations.

As Rafi Schwartz wrote, “It says a lot about the state of the country when the President of the United States can make a laudatory, if oblique, reference to having fascist goon squads commit violence on his behalf, and it’s not the biggest headline of the day.”

March 7, 2019

23 House Republican Votes Support Prejudice

A House anti-hate resolution passed today with a large majority; only 23 Republicans voted against it, and Rep. Steve King (R-IA), stripped of his committee assignments after his most recent remarks, voted “present.” One Democratic representative was absent. From the initial rebuke of Rep. Olhan Omar (D-MN), the measure was widely broadened, even including a mention of prejudice against sexual minorities.

Republicans supporting prejudice: Andy Biggs (AZ), Mo Brooks (AL), Ken Buck (CO), Ted Budd (NC), Michael Burgess (TX), Liz Cheney (WY), Doug Collins (NY), Mike Conaway (TX), Rick Crawford (AR), Duane Duncan (CA), Louie Gohmert (TX), Paul Gosar (AZ), Tom Graves (GA), Peter King (NY), Doug LaMalfa (CA), Thomas Massie (KY), Steven Palazzo (MA), Mike Rogers (AL), Chip Roy (MD), Greg Steube (FL), Mark Walker (NC), Ted Yoho (FL), and Lee Zeldin (NY). Conservatives are slamming Democrats for supporting anti-Semitism while they protect their own racists and Islamophobes.

RESOLUTION

Condemning anti-Semitism as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values and aspirations that define the people of the United States and condemning anti-Muslim discrimination and bigotry against minorities as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contrary to the values and aspirations of the United States.

Whereas the first amendment to the Constitution established the United States as a country committed to the principles of tolerance and religious freedom, and the 14th amendment to the Constitution established equal protection of the laws as the heart of justice in the United States;

Whereas adherence to these principles is vital to the progress of the American people and the diverse communities and religious groups of the United States;

Whereas whether from the political right, center, or left, bigotry, discrimination, oppression, racism, and imputations of dual loyalty threaten American democracy and have no place in American political discourse;

Whereas white supremacists in the United States have exploited and continue to exploit bigotry and weaponize hate for political gain, targeting traditionally persecuted peoples, including African Americans, Native Americans, and other people of color, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, immigrants, and others with verbal attacks, incitement, and violence;

Whereas the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., taught that persecution of any American is an assault on the rights and freedoms of all Americans;

Whereas on August 11 and 12, 2017, self-identified neo-Confederates, white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and Ku Klux Klansmen held white supremacist events in Charlottesville, Virginia, where they marched on a synagogue under the Nazi swastika, engaged in racist and anti-Semitic demonstrations and committed brutal and deadly violence against peaceful Americans;

Whereas a white nationalist murdered nine African American worshipers at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on the evening of June 17, 2015, in the hopes of igniting a nationwide race war;

Whereas on October 27, 2018, the perpetrator of the deadliest attack on Jewish people in the history of the United States killed 11 worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue building in Pittsburgh and reportedly stated that he ‘‘wanted all Jews to die’’;

Whereas anti-Semitism is the centuries-old bigotry and form of racism faced by Jewish people simply because they are Jews;

Whereas in 2017 the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported a 37 percent increase in hate crimes against Jews or Jewish institutions and found that attacks against Jews or Jewish institutions made up 58.1 percent of all religious-based hate crimes;

Whereas there is an urgent need to ensure the safety and security of Jewish communities, including synagogues, schools, cemeteries, and other institutions;

Whereas Jews are the targets of anti-Semitic violence at even higher rates in many other countries than they are in the United States;

Whereas it is a foreign policy priority of the United States to monitor and combat anti-Semitism abroad;

Whereas anti-Semitism includes blaming Jews as Jews when things go wrong; calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or extremist view of religion; or making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotyped allegations about Jews;

Whereas Jewish people are subject in the media and political campaigns to numerous other dangerous anti-Semitic myths as well, including that Jews control the United States Government or seek global, political, and financial domination and that Jews are obsessed with money;

Whereas scapegoating and targeting of Jews in the United States have persisted for many years, including by the Ku Klux Klan, the America First Committee, and by modern neo-Nazis;

Whereas accusing Jews of being more loyal to Israel or to the Jewish community than to the United States constitutes anti-Semitism because it suggests that Jewish citizens cannot be patriotic Americans and trusted neighbors, when Jews have loyally served our Nation every day since its founding, whether in public or community life or military service;

Whereas accusations of dual loyalty generally have an insidious and pernicious history, including—

(1) the discriminatory incarceration of Americans of Japanese descent during World War II on their basis of race and alleged dual loyalty;

(2) the Dreyfus affair, when Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish French artillery captain, was falsely convicted of

passing secrets to Germany based on his Jewish background;

(3) when the loyalty of President John F. Kennedy was questioned because of his Catholic faith; and

(4) the post-9/11 conditions faced by Muslim-Americans in the United States, including Islamophobia and false and vicious attacks on and threats to Muslim-Americans for alleged association with terrorism;

Whereas anti-Muslim bigotry entails prejudicial attitudes towards Muslims and people who are perceived to be Muslim, including the irrational belief that Muslims are inherently violent, disloyal, and foreign;

Whereas Muslims and people perceived to be Muslim are subjected to false and dangerous stereotypes and myths including unfair allegations that they sympathize with individuals who engage in violence or terror or support the oppression of women, Jews, and other vulnerable communities;

Whereas in 2017, mosques were bombed in Bloomington, Minnesota, and burned in Austin, Texas, Victoria, Texas, Bellevue, Washington, and Thonotosassa, Florida, and mass attacks on Muslim communities were planned against communities in Islamberg, New York, in 2019, Jacksonville, Florida, in 2017, and Garden City, Kansas, in 2016;

Whereas the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported that hate crimes against Muslims or Muslim institutions in the United States increased by over 99 percent between 2014 and 2016;

Whereas attacks motivated by bigotry against those who are Muslim or perceived to be Muslim have substantially increased since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks;

Whereas the violation of an individual’s civil rights based on his or her actual or perceived membership in a particular religious group clearly violates the Constitution and laws of the United States; and

Whereas all Americans, including Jews, Muslims, and Christians and people of all faiths and no faith, have a stake in fighting anti-Semitism, as all Americans have a stake in fighting every form of bigotry and hatred against people based on religion, race, or place of birth and origin:

Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) rejects the perpetuation of anti-Semitic stereotypes in the United States and around the world, including the pernicious myth of dual loyalty and foreign allegiance, especially in the context of support for the United States-Israel alliance;

(2) condemns anti-Semitic acts and statements as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States;

(3) reaffirms its support for the mandate of the United States Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism as part of the broader policy priority of fostering international religious freedom and protecting human rights all over the world;

(4) rejects attempts to justify hatred or violent attacks as an acceptable expression of disapproval or frustration over political events in the Middle East or elsewhere;

(5) acknowledges the harm suffered by Muslims and others from the harassment, discrimination, and violence that result from anti-Muslim bigotry;

(6) condemns anti-Muslim discrimination and bigotry against all minorities as contrary to the values of the United States;

(7) condemns the death threats received by Jewish and Muslim Members of Congress, including in recent weeks;

(8) encourages law enforcement and government officials to avoid conduct that raises the specter of unconstitutional profiling against anyone because of their race, religion, nationality, political, or particular social group, including the assignment of blame or targeting members of an entire religious group for increased suspicion, based on the conduct of a single individual or small group of individuals; and

(9) encourages all public officials to confront the reality of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism, and other forms of bigotry, as well as historical struggles against them, to ensure that the United States will live up to the transcendent principles of tolerance, religious freedom, and equal protection as embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the first and 14th amendments to the Constitution.

Now the House needs to determine whether policy discussions, such as the U.S.-Israel relationship, can be defined as anti-Semitism.

House Democrats: Get Back to Work

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

A claim about Fox network is that it’s the far-right against everyone else. The same is true with the existing rank and file GOP, leaving lots of “everyone else” in the Democratic party, a diverse batch of people known in the past for many internal differences. One of these emerged when Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) said that the strong support for Israel, despite its genocidal behavior, came from the dollars poured into paying politicians. In an initial knee jerk reaction, Democratic leadership talked about a resolution to condemn her. The Republicans were all for the idea, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) demanded that she be taken off the Foreign Policy Committee.

An assumption to silence any debate about Israel was the anti-Semitic accusation of any suggestion that U.S. fails to support equal rights for Palestinians with one-sided support for Israel. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) addressed the narrowness of the proposed resolution when she asked why “no one seeks this level of reprimand when members make statements about Latinx + other communities (during the shutdown, a GOP member yelled “Go back to Puerto Rico!” on the floor).” Later she added, “Where are the resolutions against homophobic statements? For anti-blackness? For xenophobia? For a member saying he’ll ‘send Obama home to Kenya?’” Jeremy Cahill, editor of The Intercept, tweeted:

“If we lived in a sane society, those politicians who promote the Israeli government even as it slaughters Palestinians and cozy up to its lobbyists would be the focus of investigation and condemnation. Instead, they attack the woman, @IlhanMN, who bravely calls it out.”

When some representatives and the public protested a resolution rebuking Omar, it got softened to condemning anti-Semitism and then moved to including a condemnation of anti-Muslim positions. By now the resolution may have disappeared after many House Democrats want to go farther in condemning all religious hatred. In a caucus session, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) said, “Why are we doing this?” After the meeting, she said:

“We’ve individually and collectively already responded to the fact that we oppose all ‘-isms’ that do not treat people in this country fairly and justly. To continue to engage in this discussion is simply an opportunity to give both the media and Republicans distractions from our agenda. We’ve got important work to do.”

Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA) demonstrates how biased some representatives are over the issue when he tweeted that “questioning support for the U.S.-Israeli relationship is unacceptable.” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) advised her Democratic colleagues: “Everyone stop tweeting.” It’s a start. Thanks, ladies!

A sampling of the GOP representatives who stay in Congress but smeared Omar and/or threatened to take action against her:

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA): Accused three Jewish billionaires of trying to “buy” the midterms the day before one of them got a pipe bomb at his New York home. McCarthy refused to apologize for the anti-Semitic tweet but deleted it. McCarthy also funded attack ads in which Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) called his Mexican-Palestinian opponent a “terrorist.”

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (LA): Attended and spoke at a white supremacist convention by a group founded by David Duke, Holocaust-denying former grand wizard of the KKK and described by the Anti-Defamation League as “perhaps America’s most well-known racist and anti-Semite.”

Louie Gohmert (TX): Attacked a Jewish billionaire on the Fox Business channel with this falsehood, “George Soros is supposed to be Jewish but you wouldn’t know it from the damage he inflicted on Israel and the fact that he turned on fellow Jews and helped take the property that they owned.” Host Stuart Varney had to clarify that Gohmert’s views to represent those of Fox—and Fox’s views tend to be fairly far out.

Matt Gaetz (FL): Invited notorious Holocaust denier Chuck Johnson to be his guest at the State of the Union, suggested that the George Soros funded the immigrant caravan to “storm the U.S. border,” and appeared on Alex Jones Infowars when Jones said that “it’s not that Jews are bad, it’s just they are the head of the Jewish mafia in the United States. They run Uber, they run the health care, they’re going to scam you, they’re going to hurt you.” (DDT called Gaeta “one of the finest and most talented people in Congress.”)

Steve King (IA): Re-tweeted a neo-Nazi, sat on a panel with white supremacists, praised both German and Austrian neo-Nazis, and finished by defending white supremacy and many more racist statements. [House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) pointed out that Republicans didn’t notice King’s offensive remarks for 13 years.]

Paul Gosar (AZ): Claimed that the Charlottesville (VA) rally where marchers chanted “Jews will not replace us” was “created by the left” and funded by Soros, repeating Gohmert’s lie about Soros.

DDT has used Jewish stereotypes since he began his presidential campaign. Most recently he labeled Adam Schiff, the Jewish Democrat from California who leads the House Intelligence Committee, “shifty”—a stereotypical remark for “crafty” Jewish people. DDT’s cozying up to white supremacists has also led to far more hate crimes against Jewish people than in the past. Anti-Semitic crimes rose 37 percent in 2017.

In his push to remove Ilhan from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, DDT cited a letter from organizations that he called “Jewish groups.” The coalition, also called “leading Jewish organizations” by conservative media included those who spread anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, and one has ties to a longtime neo-Nazi. The anti-Muslim groups have ties to DDT’s administration and favor military intervention in the Muslim world, raising questions about why DDT wants Omar removed. One of the hate groups, ACT for America, calls State Secretary Mike Pompeo a “steadfast ally” in its publicity and presented him with its National Security Eagle Award in 2016. Frank Gaffney Jr., founder of another anti-Omar group called the Center for Security Policy, has called for U.S. war in the Middle East since 9/11 and makes Islamophobic and xenophobic comments, including those against Somalian immigrants. Omar is a Somali refugee. The group is now led by Fred Fleitz, former chief of staff to DDT’s national security adviser John Bolton.

Omar made a statement about how her being Muslim automatically leads to accusation of anti-Semitism, a useful method of shutting down debate:

“What I’m fearful of—because Rashida [Tlaib] and I are Muslim—that a lot of our Jewish colleagues, a lot of our constituents, a lot of our allies, go to thinking that everything we say about Israel to be anti-Semitic because we are Muslim. And so to me, it’s something that becomes designed to end the debate because you get in this space of—yes, I know what intolerance looks like and I’m sensitive when someone says, ‘The words you used, Ilhan, are resemblance [sic] of intolerance.’ And I am cautious of that and I feel pained by that.

“But it’s almost as if, every single time we say something regardless of what it is we say that is supposed to be about foreign policy or engagement or advocacy about ending oppression or the freeing of every human life and wanting dignity, we get to be labeled something, and that ends the discussion. Because we end up defending that and nobody ever gets to have the broader debate of what is happening with Palestine. So for me, I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

If the House decides to propose any “anti” resolution about religious and ethnic bigotry should be inclusive, not an attack. In the meantime, Watson Coleman got it right: “Everybody stop tweeting.” And get back to work.

February 8, 2019

The U.S. House: Fighting a Cornered Animal

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 12:42 AM
Tags: ,

VP Mike Pence threatened a shutdown the day after Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) delivered the State of the Union speech and tweeted, “The simple truth is Congress needs to do their job.” That’s exactly what the oversight Congress is doing—much to the dismay of DDT and his minions. Pence and DDT oppose the wishes of the U.S. people: 60 percent of U.S. people oppose the wall; a majority blames DDT for the shutdown that he said he would be “proud” to do; and DDT’s disapproval ratings spiked after he shut down the government. But this is only a start if DDT decides to shut down the government again in eight days.

Yesterday, I talked with someone who questioned whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) should have permitted the State of the Union address in the House chambers when another shutdown is imminent. I said that she had a strategy because DDT resembles a cornered animal, much like the brutal, vicious badger that snarls and goes for the scrotum to defeat its enemies. Known as masters of mayhem, badgers don’t register fear or pain while destroying everything in its path.

I’m guessing that Pelosi’s strategy includes the elimination of complaints from DDT’s base about refusing him his demand for the speech and scheduling the speech immediately before the House rolls into its job of oversight that causes news about the speech to disappear. The headline for the conservative Register-Guard from Eugene (OR) the day after the speech was “A Reach for Unity.” One day later, the same newspaper led with “House Launches New Probes,” news that will likely dominate the news for weeks and months—except for DDT’s possible shutdown. Like his longtime U.S. and Russian mobster associates, DDT threatened “war” if Democrats proceed with the investigation. He may have more than he bargained for as House committees delve into corruption and fraud.

For the past two years, U.S. House committee leaders repeated, “Yes, Mr. President, you’re right about everything.” Last year, House Republicans announced that DDT and his campaign showed no collusion with Russia. The message from the previous six years was “We hate you and will do anything to stop you” to President Obama.

Yesterday, however, the news from the House was totally reversed.

On the first day of the reorganized House Intelligence Committee, Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) announced a five-part reopening of the investigation that Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) had closed down to protect DDT. Rachel Maddow cited these five parts:

  • The “scope and scale” of Russia’s electoral interference to influence U.S. politics and the government’s response;
  • Potential collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign, transition and administration and foreign governments;
  • Possibility that DDT and/or his family have been compromised by “foreign actors” or any or their leverage over their finances;
  • Vulnerability of DDT and/or his associates to “foreign exploitation, inducement, manipulation, pressure, or coercion”;
  • The possibility of any foreign or domestic actors “seeking to impede, obstruct, and/or mislead authorized investigations into these matters, including those in the Congress.”

The video of Maddow’s commentary.

The first act of the Intelligence was a vote to send over 50 transcripts from its Russia investigation interviews to Robert Mueller. These include meetings with Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner, and senior campaign aides Corey Lewandowski, Steve Bannon, and Hope Hicks. Republicans failed in their push to continue Nunes’ investigations into Hillary Clinton’s campaign and alleged abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The GOP also failed in their attempts to send subpoenas to 12 officials including former FBI Director James Comey. The Democrats said that the committee wouldn’t issue subpoenas unless the witnesses refused to voluntarily witness.

Schiff also plans to draft legislation to “ensure the U.S. government is better positioned to counter future efforts to undermine our political process and national security.” The committee may also investigate the actions of Nunes because he had tried to cover up for DDT when Nunes was chair. Another point of investigation is Nunes’ meeting with dozens of foreign officials between DDT’s election and inauguration. He said that the committee will investigate efforts to impede or obstruct the investigation, including conduct by “those in the Congress.”

The House Judiciary Committee also held hearings on gun control, the first one on gun violence in eight years. White supremacist and conspiracy theorist Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said that DDT’s wall would stop violence, and Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) asked, “Are members in Congress entitled to just make things up?” In an angry exchange, Gaetz responded that House members are “not entitled to their own facts.” Gaetz also demanded that survivors of the Parkland (FL) shooting be removed from the hearing because they interrupted his rant on illegal documentation. A video of the exchange.

The House Ways and Means Oversight Committee held a hearing about legislative proposals that would provide for the release of DDT’s tax returns. The discussion was about a part of the ethics bill H.R. 1, requiring presidents, vice presidents, and major-party nominees for these positions to release ten years of tax returns. These could reveal conflicts of interest and benefits from laws that they sign. A caucus is also requesting the expansion of the bill to disclosure of presidents’ business tax returns. If Congress fails to pass such a law, they could try to get copies of DDT’s tax returns through the federal tax code allowing chairs of congressional tax-writing committees to directly ask for them from the Treasury Department and examine them in a closed session. The committee could then vote to send a report to the House which could make some or all of the returns public.

Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings (D-MD) also spoke about how “most Republicans” have tried to keep people from voting by “cutting back on early voting, eliminating polling places, and taking other steps to reduce the number of people who vote.” He added, “Especially troubling, in some cases, they have engaged in illegal efforts to suppress the vote that target minority communities.” He asserted, “This is not Russia. This is the United States of America!” An example of possible election fraud was this past year in Georgia where Brian Kemp, who ran the election and purged 340,134 voters from the roles, achieved about 55,000 more votes than Stacey Abrams. Kemp told all counties that they were not to count provisional ballots from purged voters even “if they have been purged wrongly.”

Cummings also said that another provision of H.R. 1 prevents senior officials “from accepting ‘golden parachute’ payments from private sector employers in exchange for their government service.” For example, former Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn received over $100 million “in accelerated payments from Goldman Sachs while leading the Trump Administration’s efforts to slash corporate taxes.” Another section would “require transition teams to have ethics plans in place and make those plans publicly available,” while a third would “prohibit senior federal employees from working on matters that affect the financial interests of their former employers or prospective employers. They could obtain waivers for this requirement, but those waivers would have to be made public.” The bill would also require presidents to divest their business holdings.

Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA), chair of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, announced hearings about FCC’s lack of competence, its rejection of net neutrality, and Chair Ajit Pai’s refusal to respond to congressional concerns.

In its first meeting, the new subcommittee of the Committee on Energy and Commerce began an examination of the environmental and economic consequences of climate change—the first time in ten years. High-profile experts talked about the cost of Polar Vortex, people hurt by hurricanes, the need for renewable energy, and “politically-realistic” and “technology-inclusive” solutions to the challenge of climate change. Seven of ten Republicans on the committee have received $4,167,162 from fossil fuel contributors. One of the GOP members complained that the committee was not focusing on Black History Month.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is also looking into the shutdown impact (aka damage) on federal workers, national parks, and public health.

The House Armed Services committee is investigating how the decisions for troop deployments was made soon before the 2018 election midterms.

House Democrats also plan to investigate Sergei Millian, the Belarus-born businessman reported to be the source for the “pee” tapes in Christopher Steele’s DDT/Russia dossier.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), youngest member of the House, pointed out the ability of congressional members to be corrupt. They can:

  • Run a campaign that is entirely funded by corporate PACs.
  • Participate in any legislation.
  • Hold stocks and then write laws to deregulate that industry.

Ethics expert Walter Schaub said, “There’s almost no laws at all that apply to the president.”

And this committee action is only the tip of the iceberg in hearings and legislation to stop That’s why we need legislation to stop the corruption—to really drain the swamp.

Next Page »

Mind-Cast

Rethinking Before Restarting

the way of improvement leads home

reflections at the intersection of American history, religion, politics, and academic life

© blogfactory

Genuine news

Civil Rights Advocacy

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

AGR Daily News

Quaker Inspired, Evidence Based, Art And Science Of Sustainable Health Plus Success - How To Create Heaven On Earth - Education For Seventh Generation Rainbow Warriors

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and activists.

Occupy Democrats

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

Rainbow round table news

Official News Outlet for the Rainbow Round Table of the American Library Association

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: