Tag Archives: Trump Administration

Pennsylvania Avenue Jr. High

I’d be surprised to discover there’s a parent, grandparent, legal guardian, or teacher (anyone who’s had contact) with a middle schooler who hasn’t heard the Great Whine, or forms thereof.  It is a bit disturbing to hear the Great Whines emanating from the White House.   For those who haven’t had a 12-14 year old in close proximity recently, the Great Whine comes with perfectly predictable elements.

I didn’t do it.  Yeah, right.    Like the sheets and towels aren’t blue-gray after a pair of denim jeans (just your size) were tossed into the washing machine?

Okay, but everyone does it.  No.  Only people immature and foolish enough to think that parents don’t notice other parents aren’t getting memos from the school about children who sling toilet paper around the rest room do it.

Yeah, but So and So was the one who made me do it.  Please.  This household believes in Free Will.  You did it, you own it. We also believe in the Pottery Barn Rule — you break it, you buy it.  Next time you might want to have a quick thought before succumbing to some silly antic or prank.

It’s no big deal.  Uh, yes it is. When you screw up it’s a big enough deal.  If it were not a big deal no one would be noticing it, much less commenting.

But, it’s not really bad.   Wrong again me bucko.  If it violates the norms of civilized behavior, causes harm to anyone or anything, is a misdemeanor or perhaps even a low grade felony…it’s bad.

It’s not fair.  Oh yes it is.  Even if your friend didn’t get his skateboard confiscated because he flunked his last English test, even if your friend didn’t get grounded for throwing tomatoes at the neighbor’s cat, even if your friend (real or imagined) didn’t get into trouble for leaving left-over pizza out on the living room table overnight… you are not the victim of a misinterpretation of Universal Divine Law.  You screwed up, and there are consequences.

The problem with the Pennsylvania Avenue Junior High is that the stakes are so much higher than those associated with the usually small misdemeanors of young adolescents.  Yes, there are highly questionable meetings with agents of a hostile foreign power.  There are profound questions about the enforcement of sanctions imposed on that country for invading a sovereign nation, occupying that nation’s territory, and attacking the election processes of western democracies, and for egregious violations of human rights.

There are questions concerning the enforcement of those sanctions by a government the leadership of which may have financial connections of a nature as to make the desires of the foreign power of greater importance than the needs of our own nation. These questions need answers.  Those findings may range from  the inconvenient to the felonious, but applying the Cliché of the Day: We need to follow the facts.

 

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Whatever Happened To… S 722 Russian Sanctions?

Whatever happened to S 722, the sanctions bill passed by the US Senate on a 98-2 vote?  Perhaps a more timely question is what happened to the amendment concerning US sanctions on the Russians:

“The amendment would do a number of things. It would codify and
strengthen six existing Obama administration Executive orders on Russia
and Ukraine and on Russian cyber activities and the sanctions flowing
from them.
It would provide for strict congressional review of any effort by the
President to relax and suspend and terminate or waive Russian sanctions
patterned after the Iran Review Act.
It would require mandatory imposition of sanctions on malicious cyber
activity against the United States, on corrupt Russian actors around
the world, on foreign sanctions evaders violating the Russia, Ukraine,
and cyber-related sanctions controls, on those involved in serious
human rights abuses in territories forcibly controlled by Russia, and
on special Russian crude oil projects around the world.”

Seems reasonable in light of what’s been going on to keep the sanctions, codify them, and give Congress a hand in the process in case the administration tries to modify them.  Although there is an argument to be made that allowing Congress to interfere with the sanctions process is problematic, there is a valid counter argument asserting that when an administrative proclivity toward softening sanctions against an international ‘bad actor’ is displayed, Congress needs to have some mechanism for putting on the brakes.   We might also want to pay particular attention to that last line in the amendment description, “and on special Russian crude oil projects around the world,” because this element is a thorny proposition in relation to the pro-fossil fuel policy of the current administration and State Department.

The amendment description continues:

“It would authorize broad new sanctions on key sectors of Russia’s
economy, including mining, metals, shipping, and railways, as well as
new investments in energy pipelines.
It would crack down on anyone investing in corrupt privatization
efforts in Russia–something we have seen a lot of over 20 years.”

This, of course would definitely not be music to the Oligarchs’ ears.  The “privatization schemes” began in the 90s, including the Aluminum wars and the oil grabs, along with other highly questionable distributions of Russian assets, natural and manufacturing.  The Wilson Center analysis is one of the better, more succinct, summaries:

“The small groups of individuals who emerged in control of the privatized enterprises fall into three different groups, according to Goldman. The first is former factory directors that became factory owners. This group outmaneuvered the workers, who were not organized, to gain control of the factories. The next two groups, argued Goldman, were the ones who obtained the greatest wealth–the nomenklatura and non-nomenklatura oligarchs. The nomenklatura oligarchs were the Soviet economic elites who took advantage of their positions to privatize the industries that they regulated. For example, Viktor Chernomyrdin, who oversaw natural gas production during the Soviet era, went on to head up Gazprom, the Russian natural gas monopoly and richest company. When Chernomyrdin went on to become Prime Minister, he passed control on to his deputy who worked under him in the Ministry.”

It’s easy to see why and how privatization became piratization.   And now we come to some of the items in the amendment the current administration might find potentially problematic:

“It would broaden the Treasury Department’s authority to impose
geographic targeting orders, allowing investigators to obtain ATM and
wire transfer records so Treasury can better target illicit activity of
Russian oligarchs in the United States.
It would require Treasury to provide Congress with a study on the
tangled web of senior government officials from Russia and their family
members and any current U.S. economic exposures to Russian oligarchs
and their investments, and that includes real estate.”

Let’s move to a side track for a moment and look at those geographic targeting orders in light of recent activity by FinCen:

“The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) today (2/23/17) announced the renewal of existing Geographic Targeting Orders (GTO) that temporarily require U.S. title insurance companies to identify the natural persons behind shell companies used to pay “all cash” for high-end residential real estate in six major metropolitan areas. FinCEN has found that about 30 percent of the transactions covered by the GTOs involve a beneficial owner or purchaser representative that is also the subject of a previous suspicious activity report. This corroborates FinCEN’s concerns about the use of shell companies to buy luxury real estate in “all-cash” transactions.”

Now, who’s in the “high end residential real estate” business?  This brings to mind that transaction between Donald Trump and the Fertilizer King in south Florida.  Sometimes, it appears, the shells weren’t even thought necessary? However, the high end real estate market is attracting a stream of foreign “investment” which is perilously close to, if not definitively part of, good old fashioned money laundering.  Thus, providing Congress with a study of those tangled webs of Russians and their ‘investments’ and our economic exposure to their machinations might be embarrassing to the current administration?

The amendment also gives the administration some homework:

“It would require the administration to assess and report to Congress
on extending secondary sanctions to additional Russian oligarchs and
state-owned and related enterprises.”  (link to pdf)

Not only would be administration be tasked with enforcing or perhaps even increasing sanctions on the Oligarchs, but it would have to study whether secondary sanctions should be applied on those with whom they do business.

We should recall that this bill, including this amendment, sailed through the Senate on a 98-2 vote.  No sooner did the bill hit the House of Representatives than the leadership thereof displayed a heretofore relatively quiet amorous relationship with the Origination Clause.   Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) thought the origination questions had been settled in the final version of the Senate bill, but House Republicans continued to argue the question had not been resolved.

And now we turn to Nord Stream 2 pipeline, not exactly a subject of banner headlines in the US, but nevertheless an important piece in the sanctions discussion.  The Financial Times reports that the pipeline will pump gas from Russia to European countries in 2019, and is a “flagship project” for Gazprom; among those sanctioned would be investors in the pipeline.  The Oil and Gas lobby is particularly “concerned,

“Rep. Bill Flores, a Republican from Texas, said he’s been approached by “five or six of the majors” based in his state. The energy companies have told him they worry the bill as it stands is overly broad.

“You could restrict the sanctions of those activities within the borders of Russia, that might be a quick fix and also the national security carve out as well,” Flores said when asked how the sanctions bill might be changed to address those concerns. “Most of us are fine with having sanctions on U.S. interests operating inside Russia, with Russian companies, but then going outside of Russia is too broad.”

“Going outside of Russia” appears to be code for “Nord Stream 2.” Somewhere between Nord Stream 2 and the inspection of money laundering and other dubious transactions in the high end real estate business may lie the explanation for administration/House Republican opposition to the passage of S 722.

While Nevadans are calling Senator Heller’s office urging him to vote “no” on the health insurance bill, they may also want to contact our Congressional Representatives about advancing S 722.

Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) can be reached at 775-686-5760 (Reno) 775-777-7705 (Elko) or 202-225-6155.   Representative Ruben J. Kihuen can be reached at 702-963-9360 or 202-225-9894.  Representative Jacky Rosen’s Las Vegas office number is 702-963-9500 and Representative Dina Titus can be reached at 202-225-5965 or 702-220-9823.

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The Russia Sanctions: From Headache to Migraine for the Trump Administration – Updated

The US Senate approved amendment S. Amdt 232 to S.722 (Iran Sanctions bill) on June 14, 2017 on a 97-2 vote (No. 144) and it’s worth our while to look at precisely what this amendment provides [Congressional Record]:

The amendment would do a number of things. It would codify and
strengthen six existing Obama administration Executive orders on Russia
and Ukraine and on Russian cyber activities and the sanctions flowing
from them.

The Obama Administration imposed sanctions on Russian in the wake of Russia’s incursions and take over of Crimea, described by Reuters on December 20, 2016. The article notes that the incoming administration, Rex Tillerson included, were in favor of easing these sanctions.

It would provide for strict congressional review of any effort by the
President to relax and suspend and terminate or waive Russian sanctions
patterned after the Iran Review Act.

This provision likely won’t be well received at the White House, as it removes the administration’s power to unilaterally ease the sanctions, including the ones added in the aftermath of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.  The ‘cyber’ sanctions included the removal of 35 Russian diplomats and the closing of two Russian properties identified as “rest and recreation” locales, but commonly believed to be intelligence centers by US authorities.  It was reported last May that the administration was giving consideration to returning the two controversial properties to the Russians.[WaPo]

It would require mandatory imposition of sanctions on malicious cyber
activity against the United States, on corrupt Russian actors around
the world, on foreign sanctions evaders violating the Russia, Ukraine,
and cyber-related sanctions controls, on those involved in serious
human rights abuses in territories forcibly controlled by Russia, and
on special Russian crude oil projects around the world.

The use of the term “mandatory” is important in this context.  The message is clear, should the Russians or their agents engage in further acts of “malicious cyber activity, then imposition of sanctions is an absolute, non-negotiable, manner.  Notice, please, the list of activities which would trigger sanctions: Violating sanction controls, human rights abuses, and Crude Oil Projects.  The latter will be of great interest to the Russian oligarchs and “comrade” Putin.

It would authorize broad new sanctions on key sectors of Russia’s
economy, including mining, metals, shipping, and railways, as well as
new investments in energy pipelines.

The inclusion of “metals” is interesting,  considering the Trump promise to build oil pipelines with American steel.  The promise has a compromise:  On March 31, 2017 the Los Angeles Times reported that about half the steel for the Keystone Pipeline would come from an Arkansas plant and the rest will be imported. The rationale?

“The steel is already literally sitting there” waiting to be used, White House spokeswoman Sanders told reporters, explaining the reversal. Evraz Steel, a Canadian subsidiary of Russia’s Evraz PLC, had signed on to provide 24 percent of the steel before the project was rejected under Obama, according to Reuters, and some pipe segments have already been built.” [CSMonitor]

It would crack down on anyone investing in corrupt privatization
efforts in Russia–something we have seen a lot of over 20 years.
It would broaden the Treasury Department’s authority to impose
geographic targeting orders, allowing investigators to obtain ATM and
wire transfer records so Treasury can better target illicit activity of
Russian oligarchs in the United States.

A few translations might be in order.  “Corrupt privatization” is an analytic term used to describe Russian versions of privatization as essentially corrupt — “corruption has resulted from the privatization of public assets whether “bought” (typically at grossly undervalued prices) or by government officials in effect taking private control of assets still officially publicly owned.”  “Geographic targeting” refers to the authority given to the Department of the Treasury to regulate sanctions over regions, and not just specific countries or companies.  ATM and wire transfer records are of great interest to FINcen, and FINcen is the division of the Treasury which investigates financial fraud and other illegal activity.  (See also OFAC FAQ compliance)  At the risk of unsupported speculation, we can muse that if FINcen has the power to investigate wire transfers to Russia, and if the Special Counsel has access to FINcen investigations, then any attempts to evade sanctions can end up in the hands of the Special Counsel’s investigation.  This might get messy indeed.

It would require Treasury to provide Congress with a study on the
tangled web of senior government officials from Russia and their family
members and any current U.S. economic exposures to Russian oligarchs
and their investments, and that includes real estate.

This portion of the amendment widens the net.  “Any current US economic exposure to Russian oligarchs and their investments” is sufficiently broad to include anyone, any company, any corporation, and any family.  And, while we’re discussing real estate, this opens the possibility — even the probability — of a report on the transaction in which Russia’s “Fertilizer King” bought a Trump property in Florida at a price well over the market. [Miami Herald]  The term exposure could also extend to the fine art of money laundering, succinctly explained by this Business Insider article.  When the word “investments” pops up we can assume that the powers thus authorized in the Amendment can look into shell corporations.  “The real big shots don’t bother with casinos, crooked bank managers, junkets, or smurfs. They manage to transfer millions, or billions, without handling cash or involving banks at all, instead funneling their money through corporate deals (bribes, kickbacks, and embezzlement schemes), which are exempt from currency controls.”

It would require the administration to assess and report to Congress
on extending secondary sanctions to additional Russian oligarchs and
state-owned and related enterprises.

We can also safely assume that an administration which wanted to ease sanctions on Russia will not be best pleased with having to self-report on the possibility of extending secondary sanctions to “additional Russian oligarch,” etc.  For clarification, “secondary sanctions” are defined as follows: “Secondary sanctions are a relatively new kind of sanction that has been implemented frequently over the past five years, particularly relating to Iran. These kinds of sanctions supplement other sanctions programs by targeting non-U.S. persons (primarily foreign financial institutions and foreign sanctions evaders) who do business with individuals, countries, regimes, and organizations in Iran.” [OFACnet]  The Amendment provides for an administration report of the relative effectiveness of levying such secondary sanctions.

So, what to expect?  Since the administration failed to apply the brakes on the Senate, we could reasonably expect it to try to ameliorate these provisions in the House.  This should separate the Reagan Would Be Spinning In His Grave Republicans from the Dear Leader Trump Is Always Right Crowd.  Speculation Warning: Trump friendly representatives may try to argue that the Senate Amendment is “too broad,” or “too vague.”  The problem with this is that the Senate amendment is neither too broad or “void for vagueness.” There will be the “sanctions don’t work” argument perhaps — but this falters if those in favor of reverting to the old level of Cuban sanctions try to have it both ways — Cuban sanctions OK, Russian sanctions not OK.

Not to put too fine a point to it, but 97 members of the US Senate have just elevated the administration’s Russian sanctions headache to a full bore hemiplegic migraine.

Update: S. 722 (Iran Sanctions Bill with Russian Sanctions Amendment) passed the Senate on a 98-2 vote (number 147) The only members of the Senate voting against the bill were Sanders (I-VT) and Paul (R-KY).

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Monday Morning and The Press

There are several things of note this morning, probably the least important of which is the Blunder at the Oscars, although that’s one of the more entertaining.  Added to this is the current administration’s rather bombastic squabble with the press, however, this too is of more interest to the media itself than an actual matter of national interest.  In fact, some of the best political reporting is that which is done outside the confines of news conference spin sessions.   For example, in 1902-03 Ida Tarbell didn’t need to attend press conferences to expose the machinations of John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil. Nor did Upton Sinclair need a gaggle to write about the meatpacking industry in 1906.  In 1953 reporter Murrey Marder followed the serpentine trail of Senator Joe McCarthy and helped expose the duplicity of the Senator’s charges against the Army. Surely, the administration wasn’t applauding David Halberstam’s coverage of the war in Vietnam. Woodward and Bernstein weren’t following White House press gaggle threads to uncover the Watergate story, nor was Dana Priest relying on press releases about black sites in eastern European countries, or when she revealed conditions at Walter Reed Hospital.

In short, some of the very best reporting has resulted from investigations outside the walls of various and sundry executive offices.  There are stories still unfolding which may have an extraordinary effect on American politics and governance, and the information essential to their explication won’t come from anyone’s gaggle, no matter who is invited.

Suggestions?

#1. The Trump Russian connections.  As the Boston Globe opined:

“The issues raised by Trump’s Russia connection are some of the most serious that this country has ever confronted. We could have a president who is vulnerable to blackmail from Moscow and even worse, one who has committed treasonous offenses. As long as these questions go unanswered there will be a permanent black cloud over the White House — and the country.”

We could have a president subject to blackmail? We could have a president whose financial ties to Russian interests impact his decision making? We could have an administration so entangled with Russian financial and political entities that we have allowed an infringement on our own sovereignty?  Investigative journalism is necessary if we are to avoid that “permanent black cloud.”

#2. The rise of white nationalism/supremacism and the nature of Antisemitic acts and the assaults on Muslims and their mosques. If anything tears at the fabric of American civic life it’s the demonization of ethnic and religious minorities, and the tacit support for the demeaning and desecration of religious institutions.  No, the conservative white Christian establishment is not under “attack.” However, synagogues, mosques, and cemeteries  definitely and physically are.  Does the current administration bear some responsibility for emboldening the hateful people who commit these acts?  What steps must the federal government take to discredit and diminish the organizations which seek to perpetrate them?  We know a great deal about the membership, publications, and activities of these organizations, however we’re missing more essential writing on the impact these groups have in terms of radicalizing white nationalists. What motivated the current administration to shift law enforcement focus away from domestic terrorists and pay almost exclusive attention to foreign sources?  We may think we know the answers, but more reporting would be extremely useful.

#3. The impact of anti-immigrant fervor on American economic growth.  As noted in a previous post, the anti-immigrant plus anti-Muslim posture of the current administration could have significant effects on the tourism, agriculture, housing, and food service sectors. It’s going to take some research and analysis from business reporters to fully understand the impact of this posture on our economy.

#4. The assault on the institutions of democracy by those who promote vote suppression and gerrymandering.  Again, we have had more than enough examples of the blatant attempts to restrict the Right To Vote. The story is NOT about vote fraud, it’s about the fraudulent attempts to prevent people from voting.  The story is about a nationwide attempt, to deliberately freeze out qualified voters, eliminate them from the rolls, and prevent them from voting in convenient polling places, by a national political party and its myrmidons.

I need to immediately acknowledge that my list may not be everyone else’s list, and that I’ve left out topics like women’s reproductive health issues, health care access. and climate change, but there’s always room for MORE investigative journalism and more topics of national and international interest. Indeed, investigative journalists could turn the “tennis ball machine” back on the White House, and give the Oval Office a daily dose of its own distraction.  After all, a good offense is often a good defense.  Every session in which the administration has to justify its ties to Putin, has to explain the rise of white supremacists, has to speak to the economic impact of anti-immigrant policies, has to find ways to excuse vote suppression, is a session in which it has less opportunity to promote the Trickle Down Hoax and its embrace of Wall Street.  For that matter, why not add in more reporting about the administration’s efforts to promote Wall Street interests at the expense of Main Street?

Politics is, indeed, a contact sport and the sooner this administration finds out the truth of that old saw the better.

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Keep Your Hat On

I note with a soupcon of interest that some pundits have picked up the argument that Democrats must be careful to follow their etiquette guides and advice from Miss Manners when dealing with Trumpster voters. All this lest their tender feelings be assaulted and they demure from future liaisons with the Democratic Party.   Perhaps we should note that this question only arises when the Democrats are in the minority in Federal offices, and practically never when Republicans are ascendant.

Democrats are urged to be polite, respectful, and never stoop to holding loud protests, engaging in emotional arguments, and indulging in blatant partisanship.  Republicans can engage in these behaviors and the media pundits describe them as “enthusiastic,” or “active,” or as “representing the grass roots.”  Thus yelling “Lock Her Up,” is rude, but nothing to make the chatterati clutch their pearls.  So, I will be polite to all those Trumpster voters:

(1) By all means, keep your hats on. Let those bright red MAGA hats on your heads remind you that you supported a  candidate who can bellow “Hire American, Buy American” while his brand manufactures his stuff beyond American shores.

(2) Proudly display those Trump/Pence stickers on your vehicle. They serve to remind me that you may be lacking a bit of empathy which I interpret to mean that no matter the number of vehicles at a four way stop, you will consider it your God given right to go first.  I appreciate the warning.

(3) Fly your Trump Flag or a Confederate Flag with all the enthusiasm of a junior high boy with a new leather jacket.  It’s the best indication I can think of that you are a racist, white supremacist, whatever… and that it would be best for me to avoid your company.

(4) Go ahead and tell me you voted for the Trumpster because he was the lesser of two evils.  I’ll be silent in the face of your admission that you could not tell the difference between a candidate with a record of significant public service and a rank amateur with a record of bankruptcies, discriminatory practices, and remarkable misogyny.

(5) Please feel free to be as hypocritical as you wish. I’ll simply smile internally as you demean all those people in town meetings and on the streets as “paid outside agitators.” The charge that the opposition to Republican policies must be “outside agitators” is replete with associations with White Supremacist history.  Again, you are telling me who you are, and I appreciate that heads-up.

Grandma’s ancient wisdom applies:  You are known by the company you keep, and if you don’t wish to be associated with this present company then either apologize or accept the fact that the life long Democrats among you aren’t particularly sorry to see you go.

However, when you can no longer drink the water or breathe the air; when you can no longer eat the fish from polluted streams; when you can no longer find a job that pays a living wage; when you can no longer get health care necessary for yourself or your family; when your small businesses are squeezed out by large corporations; when your tax bill goes up but the millionaire on the hill is banking his or her tax cuts; when your infrastructure crumbles around you because it’s deemed more important to finance new projects than invest in maintenance; when you’ve been unable to vote because you are too old, too young, too dark;  please remember…

The Democrats will still be fighting for you.

 

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Work With Him? Why? It doesn’t seem to pay.

Let’s guess it won’t be too long before some pundit expounds on the necessity of the Democrats to “work with the (Trumpster Fire) Administration” because not to do so will be to risk retribution in the off year elections.  To which I will call… the southbound product of a northbound male bovine.  Why?

A man who doesn’t pay his bills isn’t likely to be a good negotiating partner. No matter what the closing price may be, he’ll probably try to get out of it. Proof, you ask? Try the June 9, 2016 edition of USA Today.  “Trump Doesn’t Pay His Bills.”  Need more?  On the same day, the Wall Street Journal ran essentially the same information, and if suppliers and vendors couldn’t get paid why should anyone think he’ll keep to his bargains now?  CNN highlighted small business owners who got the Trumpster Treatment.  The Atlantic magazine described the Trumpster’s many ways to avoid laws, contracts, and ethics.   And, then there were the “Freedom Girls,” the young dancers who didn’t get paid.  Any questions about why the Trumpster can’t get talent to perform at his Investiture?  Performers are business people, they depend on getting paid, and this man doesn’t exactly have a track record of paying much of anyone – including an 82 year old immigrant for services rendered.

A man who doesn’t stand for anything won’t be a reliable partner in any deal.  He hates the Electoral College?  He did in 2012.  Now he loves it.   In 1999 he was very Pro Choice.  Now he says he’s Pro Life aka anti-abortion. He’d have us believe that he manufactured his products overseas because the “system made him do it.”  Really?  It’s not like there aren’t perfectly profitable clothing manufacturers in the US.  He’s anti-immigration – but, wait, he needs foreign workers for his winery.  For that matter, he has a decades long record of hiring foreign workers.  Thus, for anyone sitting across the table from him the message is reasonably clear – whatever he says he believes today may not be what he purports to believe tomorrow.

A man who lies doesn’t care what he negotiates because there’s no way to hold him to his end of the bargain.   Remember when he said he didn’t settle cases? And then there was the settlement in the Trump University fraud case.   Oh, how he saved jobs in Indiana – but wait, more jobs left the state than stayed, and those that were left weren’t guaranteed.  Then there’s the matter of conflicts of interest with his businesses – he doesn’t have any conflicts? Wrong? Handing them over to his children will satisfy the law? Wrong again.   If you believe he is going to cut the carried interest tax loophole with an Administration full of Goldman Sachs and hedge fund managers – I have some used cars I’d like to unload on you.

A man who hides his side of the negotiations while demanding his opponents operate in complete transparency isn’t reliable.  Where are those tax returns?  What do they show about conflicts of interest? Potential involvement with financial institutions he’s tasked with regulating while they hold his paper?  Involvement with foreign countries who may have “something on him.”

It isn’t simply a matter of Doing to the GOP what they did to President Obama for 8 years…stall, delay, deny, and obfuscate… Democrats have no evidence that this incoming administration will deal honestly, forthrightly, and with any form of stability.  Until they do, there’s no rational person on the planet who should ever believe anything coming from the Trumpster White House.

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Bubble Boy Gets Ready for the White House

Bubble We could call it the Bubble Presidency – as the president-elect tries to stifle dissent and distract the media from his plethora of broken promises, outright lies, fake news, and conflicts of interest.  One way to strengthen the bubble is to prevent protests which might call into question the appointments, and by extension the policies of the next administration.  The clock starts now, as the “massive omnibus blocking” of protest permits during Inauguration Season comes to the fore.  In the instance of the Women’s March and the ANSWER protest we see a familiar pattern:

“In the past, inaugural committees have let the park service know what land they won’t be using, and then permits have been issued, Litterst said. The park service is awaiting word from Trump’s inaugural team about its plans. Verheyden-Hilliard said activists are concerned that the inaugural committee will run out the clock on dissidents and she will take legal action in a bid to prevent that.} [ABC3]

Running out the clock is nothing new to the Trumpsters.  The clock ran on with the tax returns – now 2054 days since their release was promised.  The clock ran out on a plan to divulge how a blind trust might be established to reduce conflicts of interest.  The clock is running on plans to replace the ACA. The clock is running on promises to “drain the swamp”  and a plethora of other false inferences and hints.

In the midst of it all is a president-elect who lies with impunity, makes hypocrisy an art form, and elevates statement reversals to the pinnacle of officious palaver.  A few examples in the table below.

January 16, 2016 Trump charged that opponent Senator Ted Cruz was “owned” by Goldman Sachs (Tweet: Daily Wire) As of December 9, 2016 Goldman Sachs related associates of Trump were holding positions as: National Economic Council Director; Secretary of the Department of the Treasury; Senior White House Adviser; Lead Transition Team Adviser.
Trump billed himself as the advocate of Main Street America (“Make America Great Again”) His selections of Wilbur Ross and Steven Mnuchin to head Commerce and Treasury mean that Wall Street is more likely to intersect with the White House than Main Street. [NYKR]
Trump, the rally signs said, “Digs Coal” Republicans are calling the legislation to restore the Miner’s Health Plan a “bailout,” and bipartisan legislation is stalled in Congress.  Trump has had nothing to say that’s been reported on this issue. [Politico]
Trump called for an increase in American manufacturing, said he wants to “buy American and hire American” [CNS] The GOP House voted to cut the “buy American” rules from federal projects (H.R. 2028) Again, the president-elect has made no public comment on this disparity.
Trump claimed to have an “open mind” about human related climate change [VF] Trump appoints climate change denier Scott Pruitt to head the EPA.

 

All is well in the Bubble – in which Trump supporters believe the economy got worse under the Obama Administration (it didn’t); that crime is at its highest rate in 45 years (it’s at the lowest rate in the last 51 years); and, that poverty is an African American problem (while in terms of percentages of a minority population this is defensible, the fact remains that as of 2013 some 18.9 million white Americans were poor, 8 million more than African Americans, 5 million more than Hispanic Americans [Root]).

Facts don’t permeate the outer membrane of the Bubble.  There’s enough fake news and phony reporting out there to restore the outer layer of protection and to keep it reinforced.  However, eventually clocks and calendars do run out, and there’s no more excusing current blunders and problems on past administrations – not that the GOP won’t try.

Restoring a Fact Based Government will depend on the efforts of independent reporters and media, independent thinkers, and independent analysts.   Dissent may have consequences, perhaps not the ones Mrs. Conway has in mind?

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