Read the Fine Print: Heck and the Kochtopus

Heck Kochtopus

If you strain just a little you can read the fine print at the end of the ads being run by the Heck Campaign against Catherine Cortez Masto.  The ads telling you she hates old people, etc… are from “Freedom Partners.”

A word about that outfit. First we’ll return  to a September 2013 article in Politico

“An Arlington, Va.-based conservative group, whose existence until now was unknown to almost everyone in politics, raised and spent $250 million in 2012 to shape political and policy debate nationwide.

The group, Freedom Partners, and its president, Marc Short, serve as an outlet for the ideas and funds of the mysterious Koch brothers, cutting checks as large as $63 million to groups promoting conservative causes, according to an IRS document to be filed shortly.”  (emphasis added)

Now, let’s bring this back home to Nevada – as of June 2016 the Koch Brothers had some hefty plans for the Silver State:

“The group announced last week that it plans to spend $1.2 million on advertising in Nevada, where Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto is running against Republican Rep. Joe Heck to replace Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.” [Roll Call]

And Representative Heck is no stranger to the Koch Brothers and their deep pockets:

“Between 2011 and 2014, Koch Industries gave $30,000 to the Republican. During his re-election campaign in 2014, Americans for Prosperity made a $200,000 ad buy for Heck, “praising” his opposition to the ACA. Since announcing his run for Senate, Heck has received $2,500 from the Kochs.” [RKF]

More recently, Heck received $2,500 (March 31, 2016), to add to the $2,500 he’d already received on November 30, 2015, directly from the Koch Industries PAC. (FEC reports)

What do the Koch Brothers want in return for all this largess? 

Social Security and Medicare “Reform”

Freedom Partners is happy to tell us that Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are “entitlements.”  However, NOT as in “we are entitled to these benefits because we paid payroll taxes for them” – no, it’s as in we’re bankrupting the government with these “entitlements.”

One of the questions in a candidate survey conducted in 2015 by the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce is:

“Question #18: Do you support Social Security and Medicare reform that would increase the age of eligibility and reduce benefits for wealthier retirees?”

Translation: Do you support raising the age at which a person is eligible for Social Security benefits, and do you supports ‘means testing’ for Social Security benefits?

Questions #19 and #20 are also instructive:

Question #19: Do you support expanding Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act?  (the preferred answer is NO)

Question #20: Do you support capping federal spending on Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by allowing states to control those funds in the form of federal grants? (the preferred answer is YES)

Tax Break for the Wealthy Tax Increases for Everyone Else

Then there was this question: “Question #13: Should tax reform eliminate all preferential treatment and credits for individuals, industries and activities in order to lower marginal tax rates?” Sounds nice, BUT there’s always a kicker.

Flat taxation schemes overwhelmingly favor the top 0.01% of income earners, and those in what are now the upper income brackets. [USNWR] [WaPo] [CNBC]  We can probably conclude with some reasonable certainty that while Representative Heck will likely not come out in favor of a flat tax scheme, he’ll no doubt stay close to the “no new taxes on anyone wealthy” line the Koch Brothers find appealing.

Oh, The Irony!

There’s no small amount of irony involved in trying to argue that Catherine Cortez Masto is tied to “special interests,” when the Heck Campaign is entangled in the Koch Brothers Very Special Interest money.  And, no doubt more of it is on the way, such that we can get even more extremely misleading ads like the Uber Debacle

Those interested in preserving Medicare and Social Security, and in maintaining a healthy economy (one not predicated on the GOP Trickle Down Hoax) would be better served by having Catherine Cortez Masto in the U.S. Senate.

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Representative Joe Heck and the NRA: A Second Quick Look

Heck NRA 2

Information from the FEC and the Gun Violence Archive. Need we say more? 

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Representative Joe Heck and the NRA: A Quick Look

Heck NRA 1

Perhaps this is why we can’t get anything done about gun violence?

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Charity Begins At Home: Trump vs. Clinton Foundations

Clinton Foundation logo Before the discussion of the Clinton Foundation gets any more ridiculous – it’s time to do a bit of push back on the attacks.  First, there’s the mission of the charity: “We convene businesses, governments, NGOs, and individuals to improve global health and wellness, increase opportunity for girls and women, reduce childhood obesity, create economic opportunity and growth, and help communities address the effects of climate change.”

The mission statement all but invites attacks from the radical right wing; What? The charity supports global health, places a focus on projects that help women, supports efforts to reduce childhood obesity?  Oh, and then there’s the “climate change” element which generally sends the Deniers into a low orbit.   We should come back to these efforts after dealing with some of the more idiotic charges leveled by the Trump Campaign.

Here’s Trump’s latest:

“It is impossible to figure out where the Clinton Foundation ends and the State Department begins,” Trump said at a rally in Austin. “It is now abundantly clear that the Clinton’s set up a business to profit from public office. They sold access and specific actions by and really for I guess the making of large amounts of money.” [NBC]

Hogwash.  And we know this is hogwash because, as the article continues:

“Trump cited no evidence of any quid-pro-quo between the foundation’s donors and Clinton’s State Department Tuesday night, but still described Clinton as having been “bought and sold” and characterized the foundation as “a threat to the foundation of Democracy.” [NBC] (emphasis added)

Thus, on the basis of NO evidence whatsoever, Mr. Trump has decided that a charitable organization must be Investigated! Prosecuted! because….why? Perhaps it’s because the interminable Benghazi investigations turned up exactly zilch, and the emails proved absolutely nothing, the GOP is attempting to manufacture another “outrage” for low information public consumption.

Comparing the Clinton and Trump Foundations

Clinton Foundation: The Clinton Foundation is not rated by Charity Navigator, one of the more popular check sites available online.  The rationale for non-rating is made clear:

“We had previously evaluated this organization, but have since determined that this charity’s atypical business model can not be accurately captured in our current rating methodology. Our removal of The Clinton Foundation from our site is neither a condemnation nor an endorsement of this charity. We reserve the right to reinstate a rating for The Clinton Foundation as soon as we identify a rating methodology that appropriately captures its business model.   A lack of a rating does not indicate a positive or negative assessment by Charity Navigator.”

Translation: It is NOT that the Clinton Foundation couldn’t be rated, it is not rated because CN’s rating methodology doesn’t fit the business model.   But, But, sputter the critics, the Clinton Foundation was put on the Watch List by CN… Not. So. Fast.

The charitable organization rating group placed the Foundation on its watch list after several negative reports were published in the news between February and November 2015.  After which the Foundation was removed from the watch list because:

“In accordance with our policy for removing charities from the CN Watchlist, Charity Navigator removed the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation from the Watchlist in December 2015 because the charity provided publicly accessible information regarding their amended tax Forms for 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. This information, along with the public memorandum submitted addressing the other issues raised in the Watchlist entry, meets our requirements for removal.”  [CN] (emphasis added)

Now, let’s compare the Clinton Foundation, which provides “publicly accessible information,” which and The Trump Foundation, of which Charity Navigator reports:

“This organization is not eligible to be rated by Charity Navigator because it is a Private Foundation.
Private foundations receive the majority of their money from only one individual, family or corporation. This differs from the public charities that Charity Navigator evaluates. Public charities have a broad-base of support from the general public as well as variety of other funding sources. The IRS requires that private foundations file a Form 990-PF which differs from the document public charities file. This makes it impossible for us to compare the financial performance of private foundations to public charities.” [CN]

There is a whopper sized difference between not being able to rate because of data indicating a different business model, and not being able to rate because it’s impossible to evaluate the financial performance of a private foundation.  Put more simply – it’s the difference between a public charity, fully transparent, with publicly accessible information about programs and projects, and a private foundation about which practically nothing is known.

There is a way to drill down on the Trump Foundations listed but it requires more key strokes.  The portal was created by ProPublica, and from thence on to the individual 990-PF downloads in PDF.  The drilling exercise is instructive.

The Mission is the Message

One of the names appearing on the 2013 Trump Foundation 990-PF is Richard Ebers. whom Huffington Post has already noticed:

“A New York-based ticket broker named Richard Ebers has given more than $1.8 million to Trump’s foundation since 2011. When asked by phone what prompted the donations, Ebers, who’s been described as a high-end scalper, said he had “no comment.” Representatives for the Trump Organization also declined to answer any questions about the money from Ebers.”

The New York Times devoted a full piece to the Ticket Man.  Perhaps Mr. Trump believes that foundations are for “getting something” because that’s the way he has used his?  Again, the Huffington Post reports:

“…the foundation’s money has come from people and companies that do business with Trump or want something from him. In 2006, People magazine gave the foundation $150,000. Trump gave the magazine exclusive photos of his newborn son, Barron, in April of that year. NBC Universal gave the foundation $10,000 in 2007 and another $500,000 in 2012. Trump’s popular reality shows “The Apprentice” and “The Celebrity Apprentice” aired on NBC from 2004 to 2015. And in 2011, Comedy Central gave the foundation $400,000 as an appearance fee for the billionaire’s participation in The Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump.”  [HuffPo]

Perhaps this is the origin for the attacks on the Clinton Foundation? A person who believes that as he acts, thus does everyone else?  Compare this to the projects associated with the Clinton Foundation, as exemplified by the following two examples:

A self help, entrepreneurial, project in Peru — “Chakipi (meaning “to your home” in Quechua, an indigenous Andean language) Acceso is a last-mile distribution enterprise that equips women in various regions in Peru with sales training and products such as nutritious foods, personal care items, pharmaceuticals, and solar lamps. The Chakipi entrepreneurs then sell these products to others within their communities – providing essential, life-changing goods that are otherwise hard or impossible to access.”

Or CHAI, Building on the work of the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), a separate, affiliated entity, to scale up HIV testing and treatment for children, CHAI’s Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) program takes a comprehensive approach to stopping new pediatric infections. CHAI supports mothers and babies “across the cascade,” meaning from pregnancy and delivery through breastfeeding and into long-term care for HIV-positive mothers and children. Unlike many PMTCT efforts that focus only on one part of the cascade, CHAI’s work is demonstrating that a comprehensive, integrated system of care will be critical to reaching the ultimate goal of eliminating new pediatric HIV infections.”

Not to put too fine a point to it, but I’d much prefer the operations of the Clinton Foundation which does things like help women establish home based business enterprises or seeks to prevent the transmission of HIV between mother and child, to the smaller and rather more self serving projects described in the Huffington Post article.  As one of the two Corinthians might have said to Mr. Trump:

A final word from Matthew (7:5)

Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam in thy own eye, and then shalt thou see to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

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Dear Broadcast News Media, I Give Up Again

Television dump

At 9:05 AM this morning I gave up on cable news – again.  I’d finished washing up the breakfast dishes and a few of their comrades from last evening, and was ready to watch some “news” for an hour or so.  Five minutes into the viewing, including two channel changes, I remembered why I gave up on watching cable news broadcasts a short while back.  The three V’s: Vapidity. Vacuity. Vagueness.

Vapidity: Or, in the long form, a lack of stimulation, challenge, or sharpness; tepid, insipid, and bland.  This is characteristic of those broadcasters who believe that I might be remotely interested in yet another presentation of punditry discussing the semantics of e-mail transmissions.  Digging actual facts out of the morass of “process” punditry reveals that FBI Director Comey was correct – there is NO indication of any criminality in Secretary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server. NONE. Done.  That someone has discovered a possible discrepancy in variations of the explanations isn’t news, it’s not even new.  It’s part of a continuous piece of propaganda floated by the Republican Party, and its allies among the Beltway Villagers, for some “Watergate-esque” issue to continue the Clinton assault they’ve enjoyed for the last umpteen years.

If the e-mail non-story were the only example I might not be so dismissive of cable news, but it isn’t.  There have been precious few attempts by the cable networks to treat any story with any depth. Sadly, many items are mentioned and the presenter quickly shifts to “what does this mean for Senator Sludgepump’s campaign?”  For example,  MSNBC, to its credit, did offer some actual context for the Flint Water Crisis.  And now the parallel universes take the stage – in the broadcast world the issue is “old news” even though the aftermath of the water contamination is far from over; in the real world we are discovering more communities with water supplies which do not meet the maximum contaminant levels for lead – and these are getting back page, below the fold, treatment – and not a minute on cable broadcasts.

The broadcasters are content, it seems, to offer a stream of sequels to stories of limited interest to the general public instead of presenting stories involving critical national issues.   Case in point: Immigration policy reform.  There is a bill, passed by the Senate, languishing in the House which offers comprehensive immigration policy reform, and the GOP House leadership can’t or won’t move it.  Instead of seeing and hearing intelligent discussions of the POLICY issues we are being treated to “how is the Hispanic Outreach project of the Trump campaign” doing?  How is the Clinton campaign doing in the polling among Hispanic American voters?

Vacuity:   In order to hit this level a broadcast needs to wade through Shallow and into Inanity.  Here we go again, we all know that U.S. national elections are composed of 50 individual state elections, and still the cable news networks – months from the general election – tout their national polling.  This adds a new level of nothingness to the abyss.  I might as well inform readers that I have five fingers on each hand and try to pass this off as “news.”

Vagueness:  This is the point in a campaign when the parties should be sharpening their messages, and providing actual examples of policy statements and plans on offer to the voters.  We’re not getting that from the Trump side of the ledger – we get speeches, analysis of the speeches, and follow up interviews with surrogates who inform us that the details will be provided later. When’s ‘later?’   At what point will the reporters on camera demand some solid answers? And, should that fail, when do they point out that those Statues in the Park have no more ‘clothing’ than the policy non-statements issued by the Trump campaign and its surrogates.

There’s nothing that pleases the Press quite so much as whining about the treatment of the Press.  The current whine is that Secretary Clinton hasn’t had a “full blown press conference” for X number of days and counting.  Really? Since when was August a major month for press conferences by any national campaign? And, Secretary Clinton attended a fund raiser and the Press wasn’t invited! Oh dear, and we saw Governor Romney’s comment about the 47% in pool tape? Or, uh-no, it was from a bootleg tape and the press hadn’t been invited to that fundraising event.  How this tells us anything about the POLICY of and plans for an administration is anyone’s guess; but, what it does tell  us is that the media loves to talk about the media.

At least I know I’m not alone.  There’s some comfort in reading this analysis of the situation in Crooks and Liars,

“People want truth. They don’t want talking points, or “both sides do it.” Donald Trump has broken all of the rules of party politics, and also the cable news formula. Some, like Stelter, Bolduan, Keilar and Reid have taken the cue, choosing to aggressively pursue truth-telling. Others are not.

To those who refuse to pay attention, beware. Consumers have moved on from the political pablum you serve. Only those who are bold enough to speak truth to the professional liars will survive.”

And Salon’s article about the long-lived conservative obsession with all things Clinton, especially from Judicial Watch:

“This is the same Judicial Watch that currently has the press panting over every release of the Clinton State Department emails they’ve received from their FOIA fishing expedition, rushing on the air and to print based upon the organization’s often erroneous and misleading press releases. Tom Fitton, the organization’s current president and author of the book “The Corruption Chronicles: Obama’s Big Secrecy, Big Corruption, and Big Government” proudly declared, “Judicial Watch has had more success investigating the IRS, Benghazi and Clinton email scandals than any House committee.”

Considering the outcomes of the IRS and Benghazi “scandals,” it would behoove the press to show a little skepticism. The history of this group is very clear. The first time it waged its campaign of character assassination against Bill and Hillary Clinton, it’s perhaps understandable that the press failed to recognize they were being manipulated by political operatives. The trumped-up Obama scandals added up to nothing as well. There’s no excuse for the media to fall for it again.”

However, it’s my guess they will fall for it – as long as the Three V’s are the mainstays of cable broadcasting practice.

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Eleanor Roosevelt Sums It Up

Roosevelt Small Minds Quote

Now, think about the general tone and substance (or lack thereof) apparent in 2016 campaign for the Presidency on the part of Donald J. Trump.  Consider his avoidance of venues in which he could have directly addressed African Americans – the Urban League, the NAACP?  Consider his speeches to nearly all white audiences while telling African Americans “Vote for me, because you’ve got nothing to lose.”  Think of the surrogate on television suggesting a burning car would be a good backdrop for appeals to the African American community?  Remember his comment about Mexican “drug smugglers and rapists?” His verbal assault on a Judge of Mexican American heritage?  His supporters chanting “Build the Wall?”

Add to this toxic mixture his selection of a foreign policy adviser who opined that “there weren’t enough ovens,” in Nazi death camps to murder 6 million people.  [McClatchyDC]  The Trump campaign is focusing on discussing people, people as the “other” – African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Jewish Americans, Native Americans, Muslim Americans…

There’s also the matter of how the Trump campaign addresses policy issues.  (1) Make a speech with slogans and buzz words; (2) Talk about the speech in social media formats; (3) Announce that more details will be revealed later … and later seems never to arrive.  Mr. Trump is obviously willing to discuss people, periodically willing to discuss events (although his commentary on the situation in Ukraine was patently shallow), but never quite manages to have a serious policy debate – one containing those IDEAS that drive a candidacy and a party. 

There are a matter of weeks left before the general election – and still Mr. Trump hasn’t demonstrated he has anything other than a small mind.

Nor has his party been of any assistance.  The GOP clings to the “e-mails” as though they were indicative of some major issue – or related to Secretary Clinton’s veracity – they weren’t, they aren’t, and they are nothing more than the product of the Radical Right Wing Outrage Machine.  The manufactured “scandal” is propped up solely for the purpose of attacking the Secretary personally.

Their health care plans are re-heated Health Savings Accounts left over from campaigns past. Their economic plans and tax reform proposals are a repetition of the failed policy, old fashioned Trickle Down theories.  Their foreign policy pronouncements are stolid sloganeering in the face of asymmetrical and nuanced threats and issues.  Their trade policy defies the logic of their own economic core.  They slavishly recite the NRA talking points on gun violence in America.  It seems when one can’t address ideas, or present new ones for consideration, then the only thing left is the personal attack.  The small minds will continue to discuss people.

Americans deserve better.

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Friday Didjah Know?

Didja Hear Maybe “I Regret” wasn’t enough?MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren announced on Monday that, despite being a lifelong Republican, he is backing Democrat Hillary Clinton for president. Murren has never publicly endorsed a candidate before but said that he felt he needed to lend his voice to “some of the bigger issues” this election cycle after an “accumulation of vitriol” from Trump.” Full article at the Las Vegas Sun.

Those Naked Truth Statues are products of a Las Vegas artist.  Well done sir! And, a hand clap to the now famous line from the NYC Parks Department: “NYC Parks stands firmly against any unpermitted erection in city parks, no matter how small,” parks spokesman Sam Biederman joked.”

The Nevada Board of Examiners has approved another $125,000 to an outside law firm (Bancroft Associates – Paul Clement) to defend the public school fund gutting voucher education program. The firm has already gotten $420,000 from Nevada and the recent increase will mean a $545,000 total payout. [LVSun]  This would be the same Paul Clement whose firm has been tapped by North Carolina Republican leadership to appeal the NC Voter ID law targeting African Americans.

Former solicitor general during the Bush administration, and current professor at Georgetown Law School, Clement has spent much of the Obama administration working with conservatives on several prominent Supreme Court cases, including arguing in favor of overturning the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), fighting to preserve the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and helping Arizona defend its controversial immigration law. Clement won the Hobby Lobby case at the Supreme Court for religious conservatives. [TNCRM]

The Smoking Gun Memo from North Carolina Republicans isn’t going to make Clement’s task any easier.

Yes, Donald Trump is now running adsa new Dog Whistle to the Far Right. Did we expect anything else?  Thus much for the pivot, unless by “pivot” means a 360 degree turn. By the way, the ad offers up an Old Hoary GOP line about undocumented immigrants soaking up Social Security Benefits – they don’t. This talking point has been floating around since at least the 2006 mid term elections.  Ten years of the same lie is enough! [factcheck]

An Hispanic couple’s truck was vandalized in northwest Reno (can you guess what happened?) “A Hispanic couple’s truck was vandalized Wednesday night in Northwest Reno with graffiti including Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s name, in what one of the victims said was a hate crime.”

“Esmeralda Estrada, 31, of Reno, said the truck, which is only about two months old, was fine when she and her husband went to sleep around 10 p.m. Wednesday. When they woke up Thursday, it was keyed several times, including the word “Trump” scratched into the side. The tailgate was also spray-painted with “VOTE TRUMP.” [RGJ]

The Estrada’s are the only Hispanic couple in the neighborhood.

Trump and Entourage arrived in Baton Rouge, LA and was met by GOP office holders. They met with volunteers at a church which had been cooking meals for displaced persons.  [AP] The GOP has slammed the President for not appearing, however “Louisiana’s Democratic governor defended the administration’s response Thursday, saying he has spoken daily with the White House and would prefer Obama hold off on visiting because such stops pull local police and first responders into providing security.” [AP]  Nothing like barging in?

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Filed under education, Edwards, nevada education, Nevada politics, Politics, presidential race, racism, Republicans, Vote Suppression