Monday Reads: The Wheedle and the Damage Done

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I continue to believe that a huge number of Christians in this country actually make this the least Christian country on the planet.  After all, white evangelicals were the biggest chunk of voters that made way for Russia’s attack on our form of government and brought an insane man into the White House.  What type of people fall for cons? What type of people actually will damage themselves and their neighbors to feel smug and safe in their whiteness?  Better yet, what will the recently installed Pope say to President Swiss Cheese for Brains and the Gingrichs who play the pious game of “maybe for thee but not for me” with all the Jesus teachings.

You can have as many bible studies and prayer breakfasts as you want in this administration and the actions will never overtake the words passed into law.  What we continue to see is the rich and powerful destroying the lives of the weakest among us to provide lavish tax cuts that basically accrue value to no one but the person who receives them.

With that lecture, I give you the Republican and Trump Agenda.  We are seeing the proposals that will send many to their graves.  Paul Ryan is not nicknamed the Granny Starver for nothing.  Please don’t watch the Trumpical Clusterfuck Tour. Read what’s going on with the Budget and with the Department of Re-Education.

President Trump’s first major budget proposal on Tuesday will include massive cuts to Medicaid and call for changes to anti-poverty programs that would give states new power to limit a range of benefits, people familiar with the planning said, despite growing unease in Congress about cutting the safety net.

For Medicaid, the state-federal program that provides health care to low-income Americans, Trump’s budget plan would follow through on a bill passed by House Republicans to cut more than $800 billion over 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that this could cut off Medicaid benefits for about 10 million people over the next decade.

The White House also will call for giving states more flexibility to impose work requirements for people in different kinds of anti-poverty programs, people familiar with the budget plan said, potentially leading to a flood of changes in states led by conservative governors. Many anti-poverty programs have elements that are run by both the states and federal government, and a federal order allowing states to stiffen work requirements “for able-bodied Americans” could have a broad impact in terms of limiting who can access anti-poverty payments — and for how long.

Numerous social-welfare programs grew after the financial crisis, leading to complaints from many Republicans that more should be done to shift people out of these programs and back into the workforce. Shortly after he was sworn in, Trump said, “We want to get our people off welfare and back to work. . . . It’s out of control.”

Trump’s decision to include the Medicaid cuts is significant because it shows he is rejecting calls from a number of Senate Republicans not to reverse the expansion of Medicaid that President Barack Obama achieved as part of the Affordable Care Act. The House has voted to cut the Medicaid funding, but Senate Republicans have signaled they are likely to start from scratch.

As usual, children and the sick get the worst treatment. I suppose it’s only time that we see an end to child labor laws and poor farms established.  Either that, or we funnel every one to private jails.

But Tuesday’s budget will be more significant, because it will seek changes to entitlements — programs that are essentially on auto­pilot and don’t need annual authorization from Congress. The people describing the proposals spoke on the condition of anonymity because the budget had not been released publicly and the White House is closely guarding details.

The proposed changes include the big cuts to Medicaid. The White House also is expected to propose changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, though precise details couldn’t be learned. SNAP is the modern version of food stamps, and it swelled following the financial crisis as the Obama administration eased policies to make it easier for people to qualify for benefits. As the economy has improved, enrollment in the program hasn’t changed as much as many had forecast.

And they’re still after a the Affordable Health Care Act.  This amounts to a death by a million paper cuts.  You’ll notice most of this isn’t being rolled out with the same gusto as the Saudis welcomed Kremlin Caligula.

The Trump administration Monday plans to ask a federal court for another 90-day delay in a lawsuit over Obamacare insurance subsidies, according to two administration sources, leaving the future of the health care marketplaces in limbo through late August.

The suit, House v. Price, centers on Obamacare’s cost-sharing program, which reimburses health insurers to help low-income people make co-payments at the doctor or hospital. The legal motion in a case that was brought by House Republicans during the Obama administration is expected to be filed later Monday.

President Donald Trump has argued that the markets are fatally flawed and will collapse no matter what his administration does. He also suggested that the ensuing chaos could entice Democrats to come to the bargaining table and help craft a health care overhaul. But administration officials have said the payments would continue while the lawsuit is pending.

While another delay would stop short of imploding the markets, it still undermines the exchanges, by continuing uncertainty as insurers decide where to offer coverage and how to price it.

House Republicans charged the cost-sharing program was never legally funded in Obamacare. A federal district court judge ruled in 2016 that the Obama administration was illegally funding the program. The Obama administration appealed that decision but the issue was unresolved before Trump took office.

September 16, 2016

Meanwhile, Betsy DeVos is already steamrolling along. The plan that has completely failed in Louisiana is about to go National with this nut job in charge of the Department of Re-Education.  School choice is another term for segregated schools and public funding of religious atrocities foisted on innocent children.

Before she was picked by President Trump to head up the U.S. Department of Education, Betsy DeVos was the chairwoman of the American Federal for Children, a pro-school choice lobbying group.

When she visits Indianapolis Monday night, Secretary DeVos will address a sea of friendly and familiar faces at the AFC’s National Policy Summit at the Weston Hotel.

It’s expected DeVos will roll out a Trump administration plan to provide tax credits to corporations and individuals who donate money to groups and schools that provide school choice scholarships to students and parents.

“We see that this is a really significant opportunity for her to lay out a vision for what she sees as educational choice going into the future for all fifty states,” said AFC Spokesman Tommy Schultz. “I think Indianapolis and Indiana are great places to do it where Indiana has one of the fastest growing choice programs in the entire country.”

More than 33,000 Hoosier students attend classes in a private or charter school under Indiana’s expanded choice program.

“So a federal tax credit scholarship program would be a really great way to facilitate getting more families educational options for their child. We expect something like that to be potentially rolled out later this year,” said Schultz. “It’s purely folks giving charitable contributions to education scholarship organizations and then therefore they’ll get a credit for that.”

Indiana’s public school teachers fear the DeVos speech will be one more attack on the system that educates a majority of America’s children, many of them in struggling urban school districts.

“We are concerned that her speech is going to be about changes to the proposed federal budget and how that’s going to impact our students,” said Theresa Merideth, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association. “What we have is a voucher system now that funds kids who are already going, by and large, to private schools anyway, and there is no data that is showing they are doing any better that public school counterparts.”

Meredith said before- and after-school programs, and services aimed at special education youngsters, will be at risk from proposed Trump administration cuts to the federal education budget.

Make American White, Fascist, and Nutty Religious folks!  I really think their slogan should be Greed and Grifting is Good!  In that vein, the White House is trying to block ethics investigations of ex lobbyists now working in Federal Agencies and the West Wing.

The Trump administration, in a significant escalation of its clash with the government’s top ethics watchdog, has moved to block an effort to disclose any ethics waivers granted to former lobbyists who now work in the White House or federal agencies.

The latest conflict came in recent days when the White House, in a highly unusual move, sent a letter to Walter M. Shaub Jr., the head of the Office of Government Ethics, asking him to withdraw a request he had sent to every federal agency for copies of the waivers. In the letter, the administration challenged his legal authority to demand the information.

Dozens of former lobbyists and industry lawyers are working in the Trump administration, which has hired them at a much higher rate than the previous administration. Keeping the waivers confidential would make it impossible to know whether any such officials are violating federal ethics rules or have been given a pass to ignore them.

Mr. Shaub, who is in the final year of a five-year term after being appointed by President Barack Obama, said he had no intention of backing down. “It is an extraordinary thing,” Mr. Shaub said of the White House request. “I have never seen anything like it.”

There is some good news.  The Court System appears to be working as a system of checks and balances on all the crazies that have invaded the executive branches and legislative branches throughout the Country and in the District.  SCOTUS just told North Carolina its gerrymandering smacked of racism and rejected its proposed Congressional Districts.  Thomas sided with the majority and Gorsuch sat out so I’m no sure we can divine any future trends from this.

A divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled that North Carolina Republicans relied too heavily on race when they drew two bizarrely shaped congressional voting districts that were used until the 2014 election.

The ruling upholds a lower court decision that rejected the two majority-black districts and ordered a new map for the 2016 election. Even with the new lines, Republicans maintained their hold on 10 of the state’s 13 districts.

Writing for the court, Justice Elena Kagan said a three-judge panel had sufficient grounds for concluding that race, and not politics, was the driving factor in setting out the lines. She also backed the lower court’s conclusion that the district lines weren’t needed to comply with a federal voting-rights law.

“A state may not use race as the predominant factor in drawing district lines unless it has a compelling reason,” Kagan wrote.

The case produced an unusual split. Justice Clarence Thomas, perhaps the most conservative justice, joined the court’s four liberals in the majority. Thomas is a staunch opponent of the use of race in drawing district lines, no matter which side benefits.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Anthony Kennedy issued a partial dissent saying they would have upheld one of the districts. Justice Neil Gorsuch didn’t take part in the case, which was argued before he joined the court.

The contested districts were both held by black Democrats. Critics said the goal was to dilute minority voting strength outside of those two districts and preserve the power of neighboring white Republicans.

North Carolina officials said they were trying to preserve black majorities and comply with the Voting Rights Act, the landmark 1965 law designed to protect racial minorities. North Carolina also contended that, with regard to one of its disputed districts, map-drawers were legitimately motivated by politics.

One of the disputed districts — the 12th District, held by Representative Alma Adams — was 120 miles long, snaking from Charlotte to Greensboro and roughly tracking Interstate 85. The other — the 1st District, held by Representative G.K. Butterfield — was in the northeastern part of the state, with tendrils that captured black areas further south and west.

The 12th District has been the subject of repeated court challenges over the years. The latest case represented the fifth time the Supreme Court had examined the district.

Flynn will be evoking the Fifth Amendment.   They probably have enough on him that it won’t mean much.

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn will invoke his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination on Monday as he notifies the Senate Intelligence committee that he will not comply with a subpoena seeking documents.

That’s according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private interactions between Flynn and the committee.

Flynn’s decision comes less than two weeks after the committee issued a subpoena for Flynn’s documents as part of the panel’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.

Legal experts have said Flynn was unlikely to turn over the personal documents without immunity because he would be waiving some of his constitutional protections by doing so. Flynn has previously sought immunity from “unfair prosecution” to cooperate with the committee.

Simon Maloy argues that the Trump White House is collapsing in an op ed for The Week.

Just as Air Force One was lifting off to ferry Trump to Riyadh, The New York Times and The Washington Post each published seismically significant pieces on the White House’s ever-expanding Russia scandal. The Timesreported that Trump, during an Oval Office meeting the day after he fired FBI Director James Comey, told high-level Russian officials that Comey was a “nut job” and firing him had relieved the “great pressure” Trump felt “because of Russia.” The Post, meanwhile, reported that the Justice Department’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s links to Russia has identified a senior White House official as “a significant person of interest.”

Shortly after the Times and Post stories hit, CNN came through with another big scoop, reporting that Russian officials had boasted during the 2016 campaign that they could use former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to influence Trump and his associates.

The Times piece in particular is brutal for Trump. At the time the president divulged to the Russians his motivation for firing his FBI director, the administration was still sticking to its ridiculous story that Comey lost his job because he botched the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. That means officials from an adversarial government knew the White House wasn’t being honest about a politically explosive subject.

On top of that, Trump’s comments to the Russians could become the focus of an obstruction of justice inquiry by special counsel Robert Mueller, who was tapped to assume control of the Russia investigation following Comey’s dismissal. Trump had already told NBC’s Lester Holt that the Russia investigation factored into his decision to fire Comey, and the Times report adds significant weight to the idea that Trump’s primary motivation in sacking Comey was to neutralize an issue that was damaging him politically.

The Post report, meanwhile, feels like the first strong indication that the Russia investigation has the potential to cut deeply. The fact that a senior White House official is coming under scrutiny is obviously a problem for Trump, but the Post also reported that the FBI inquiry now “also includes determining whether any financial crimes were committed by people close to the president.”

Financial Crimes is an interesting take given the Russian hacking of the US election and White House.  But, it’s a serious way to take down the Trump Criminal Syndicate.  This is from Josh Marshall writing for TPM.

We know – and this article confirms – that Paul Manafort is a significant focus of the probe. Even apart from his political work in Ukraine, Manafort appears to have a series of real estate deals, loans, etc. that investigators are looking at. So perhaps it’s something as mundane as stumbling across some kind of crooked, small-bore real estate ventures Manafort participated in while examining his business ties to people in Ukraine.

But my hunch is that it’s a bit more than that.

As you’ve seen, what I’ve been focused on in recent months are a series of business ventures over the last couple decades – either involving President Trump or his close associates – which seemed to rely on capital from people from the former Soviet Union or recent emigres from those countries. Trump himself, Felix Sater, Michael Cohen and many others figure into this as well as Manafort, Trump’s children, the Kushners and still others. My interest of course is to understand the roots of Trump’s affinity with the post-Soviet oligarch world and whatever financial ties or dependence he has on it. But even if you take the Russia/former Soviet Union connection with its geopolitical dynamics out of the equation, you simply can’t read over these deals and not see that Trump and his crew just play way out on the outer fringe of legality at best. At best. People who have done or subsequently did time in the US or other countries repeatedly appear in the picture. So do people from organized crime. A lot.

One thing you find looking through Trump’s history is that after his fall from financial grace a quarter century ago this pattern seemed to become part of the business model. Cut off from capital from the big banks and most people interested in not losing their money, he had to do business with people with decidedly sketchier reputations. Those people, often looking for places to park wealth in real estate, had to accept much higher levels of risk than people with clean reputations. That seemed to lead them to Trump.

Then there’s another level of it. Even apart from big bad acts and corrupt deals, look at the stuff David Fahrenthold dug up on the Trump Foundation and his Potemkin charitable giving. Beyond issues of possible illegality, the big takeaway there was that Trump operates with a seemingly almost total disregard for rule-following or even a lot of elementary record keeping. So on top of substantively shady deals things are executed in really slapdash and hazard ways. In other words, the Trump Organization sounds a lot like the Trump White House. Only it’s a private company, surrounded by a moat of NDAs, all examined by little more than the thin scrutiny of the New York tabloids.

Here are just a couple examples of some color from the kinds of associations and business dealings I’m talking about: one and two.

Follow those links.

So, I’ve just filled the page with over 3100 words and counting.  I think I’ll leave the rest to you this morning.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

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44 Comments on “Monday Reads: The Wheedle and the Damage Done”

  1. ANonOMouse says:

    Great post Dak……..Just browsing about the internet and reading your thoughts, I think both Flynn and Manafort will soon be facing charges. I read that on leaving the Trump campaign Manafort received a $3.5 million dollar loan on a property he owns in the Hampton’s through bankers who were chums of trump. Apparently the paperwork on this loan was never filed with County, State officials, Taxes were never paid on the loan and no interest was charged on the loan. Manafort’s attorney claims this loan has been repaid, but there’s something rotten about this. I believe this is the first domino in a string of what will later be revealed as a payoff to Manafort with money supplied by Russia through a front company and funneled into a shell company. I think we’re going to find out that trump’s crime and the root of the compromising material that Russia has on trump is that Trump has been money laundering Russian money through his real estate ventures. Trump’s in deep doo-doo. He’s literally falling apart before our eyes.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Trump blabbed again. Netanyahu’s facial expression is priceless.

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsTr

  3. dakinikat says:

    President Swiss Cheese for Brains strikes again …

    The President Just Told a Room of Israelis That He “Just Got Back From the Middle East”

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/05/22/trump_to_israelis_we_just_got_back_from_the_middle_east.html

  4. dakinikat says:

  5. dakinikat says:

    Cummings on Russia probe: ‘May be quite a few people’ in White House with problems

    http://thehill.com/homenews/house/334486-cummings-on-russia-probe-there-may-be-quite-a-few-people-that-may-have

    Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) suggested Sunday that more than one person at the White House may be under investigation for having ties to Russia.

    “My impression, when I walked out of the briefing, was that this thing runs deep,” Cummings told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week,” speaking about a closed-door briefing lawmakers received last week on the matter. “There may be quite a few people that may have some problems with the law.”

  6. dakinikat says:

  7. dakinikat says:

    http://www.rawstory.com/2017/05/right-wing-christians-have-some-insane-theories-about-why-the-trump-presidency-is-imploding/

    . Jim Bakker, televangelist

    In an interview with Steve Strang of Charisma News on Thursday, Bakker warned of an assassination attempt against Trump, given that “the apocalypse has already begun.”

    “There’s going to be an attempt on our president’s life very soon,” he stated. “The world is marching in the streets against our president, and it is a war.”

    “This is the first horse of the apocalypse,” Bakker promised. “The apocalypse has already begun.”

    According to Bakker, Trump’s opposition is “the spirit of the Antichrist,” fighting back against God’s miracle: the election of Trump. The strongest indicator of end times for Bakker was the cancellation of ABC’s “Last Man Standing” last week. The show starred Tim Allen, an anomalyous Trump supporter in Hollywood. Conservatives have blamed Allen’s political leanings for the show’s cancellation, despite offering no evidence to support their claims.

    Although Bakker never watched the show, he insisted it was cancelled because of hatred for Trump.

    “This is not a normal spirit. This is not a normal hate. This is that spirit of the first horse of the Apocalypse,” Bakker continued. “It’s the spirit of hatred that’s taking over America.”

    Go read them all. They’re insane.

    • Mary Luke says:

      So, according to Jim, all who disagree with Trump are the anti-Christ? Does that include Pope Francis? Cause I kind of think if the apocalypse has begun the Pope would know and he’s looking pretty chill. Unless you count Newt’s third wife becoming Vatican ambassador as a sign of the apocalypse.

  8. Pat Johnson says:

    Trump is an imbecilic moron!

    I wonder how much he paid Melania to accompany him on this trip? Another million into her bank account?

    Just does not cover public hand holding. Who knows where that paw has been.

    • dakinikat says:

      Evidently Scalia’s ghost stayed out of his bedroom that night.

    • Mary Luke says:

      Think about it. The regime is so authoritaran that Carencro Thomas has cast his first liberal vote ever.

      Also noteworthy, CJ Roberts said in oral argument questions on a deportation case last week that he was uncomfortable with deporting people for minor traffic offenses.

      I think Trump and Bannon are going to learn that nobody controls SCOTUS.

  9. bostonboomer says:

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  10. quixote says:

    I need my clued-in friends here to explain the orb to me. I can’t stomach regular news, so all I see is people making fun of it. (It is funny. No question.) But I’m curious what the *Saudi* custom or video game or whatever-the-hell was the point. What, officially, was the point of a bunch of grown men standing around a big light bulb and putting their hands on it?

    • dakinikat says:

      http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-orb-globe-saudi-arabia-what-was-it-2017-5

      In reality, Trump had touched the globe as part of an inauguration ceremony for the Global Center for Combatting Extremist Ideology in Ridyah, Saudi Arabia on Sunday. Together, the three leaders placed their hands on the globe to start a film about the center.

      The newly-opened center has a large TV wall displaying ongoing extremist activity and aims to come together to stop the spread of violent extremism, the Saudi Gazette reports. It will be used to monitor potential threats of terrorism and, through the help of experts, reveal and confront extremist speech.

      Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said his country wants the US to know that they are “not an enemy” and are committed in the fights against extremist groups like Daesh, also known as the Islamic State.

      “We are the second army after the US military in the international coalition against terrorism,” Al-Jubeir said. “The efforts will be an effective partnership between the Islamic world and the West in general to combat terrorism.”

      I kept thinking it was that new remake of Dark Crystal!!!

      • dakinikat says:

        Unfortunately, the good guys never showed up to make the two into 1 …

      • bostonboomer says:

        I still don’t understand what the orb is for.

        • dakinikat says:

          It was a fancy on off button for a presentation.

        • dakinikat says:

          The more I think about it … it’s sort’ve representative of the shiny objects that get Trump’s attention and it’s the world … lol kinda weird twisted symbolism.. Screen on. Screen off. Screen on. Screen off! Just the kind of thing a toddler would love!!!

      • quixote says:

        Thanks, Dak! I can kind of see the Saudi mind thinking this’ll be a great visual. And I can def see Agent Orange’s syndicate lacking anyone willing to speak up about how dumb it’ll look.

  11. bostonboomer says:

    The tradition of shocking stories breaking every day continues. This is like what Nixon did.

    Washington Post: Trump asked intelligence chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence

    President Trump asked two of the nation’s top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, according to current and former officials.

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

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

  12. bostonboomer says:

    In addition to the requests to Coats and Rogers, senior White House officials sounded out top intelligence officials about the possibility of intervening directly with Comey to encourage the FBI to drop its probe of Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, according to people familiar with the matter. The officials said the White House appeared uncertain about its power to influence the FBI.

    “Can we ask him to shut down the investigation? Are you able to assist in this matter?” one official said of the line of questioning from the White House.

  13. bostonboomer says:

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  14. bostonboomer says:

    Interesting story at Who What Why. Take with a grain of salt, but worth a read.

    EXCLUSIVE: WEINER’S “UNDERAGE” SEXTING GIRL LIED TO DAMAGE CLINTON

    https://whowhatwhy.org/2017/05/22/exclusive-weiners-underage-sexting-girl-lied-damage-clinton/

  15. Fannie says:

    Not being on line has been great, doing a thousand things to get ready for the move, and here I am loving my new home, the view, the big wonderful blue sky, the sunrise (added a special window) so I could soak up the early rays, and the sunsets are fabulous. Really gives me a little peace of mind. My bones, and my back are getting the best of me, all those friggin’ boxes, etc. Bill and I are very happy, sweet little home, and loving the birds out back in the pond. This moving is for the young!

    Did I tell you I hate Trump more than any person in the world. Just do, he’s an idiot, going to middle east to sell weapons. And says they are stopping terrorist, driving them out. Really when? Just as soon as the latest hit at the concert is over!