Politics

Trevor Noah Is Proud Of Donald Trump, Finally

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 13:22

Trevor Noah found a reason to be "proud" of "President" Trump, when he was tricked by Chuck Schumer into saying he'd take responsibility for a government shutdown over border security:

TREVOR NOAH: I don’t know if you realize how monumental this moment is. Donald Trump just agreed to take blame for something. This is the same guy who keeps Mike Pence around just to blame farts on.

Today I’m proud of President Trump because taking blame shows some personal growth on his part. Although, if we’re being honest, he probably just thinks that if the government shuts down there’ll be nobody there to impeach him.

Open Thread below...


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Categories: Politics

Trump administration tries to rig Obamacare enrollments by hiding sign-up options

Daily Kos - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 13:21

Enrollments in the Affordable Care Act through the federal marketplace are down significantly from previous years, and almost 12 percent from last year. With a deadline of December 15—this Saturday—looming, this is alarming.

As is a new Sunlight Foundation investigation that might explain some of those lower enrollments. They've discovered that a few weeks after open enrollment started this fall, changes were made to HealthCare.gov’s "Apply for Health Insurance" webpage. They report that information about two of the ways you can apply for coverage is missing now, "replaced by a new list of application options and links, including a link for 'Help On Demand,' a third-party consumer assistance referral system, operated by a for-profit software company, BigWave Systems." Instead of providing consumers with the option of signing up for coverage by mail and phone, HHS is directing people to sign up through enrollment sites run by for-profit companies.

Sunlight says that the "removals may cause confusion and could impede consumers’ ability to obtain health insurance coverage." Absolutely. The agents and brokers that people are now being directed to are getting commissions from health insurance policies, and people trying to sign up don't have information on all of their alternatives. They've also lumped the navigator or "assisters" who don't work on commission and can provide in-person help in with those agents and brokers. Additionally, they've de-emphasized the option to use Healthcare.gov for signing up. Originally, it was the first option provided, now it's last on the list of ways to apply.

All this comes after the administration removed an assister training guide for Latino outreach. Jodi Ray, director of Florida Covering Kids & Families at the University of South Florida, says these materials are critical. "You have to know your community, the population, the culture of who you’re trying to reach. If we’re not providing the resources to be able to do that effectively, we’re going to lose that population that needs this more than anyone."

It makes grassroots outreach even more important. Please help spread the word about open enrollment and about the free help that's available, just a quick call or click away. Call 1-800-318-2596, visit localhelp.healthcare.gov or make a one-on-one appointment now.

Here are the states with extended deadlines for enrollment:
California – January 15, 2019
Colorado – January 15, 2019
D.C. – January 31, 2019
Massachusetts – January 23, 2019
Minnesota – January 13, 2019
New York – January 31, 2019
Rhode Island – January 31, 2019

Categories: Politics

Jonathan Turley: Trump Can't Escape Hiring A 'Thug' Like Michael Cohen

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 13:20

Legal analyst Jonathan Turley is generally pro-Trump, but today he told Fox News that Trump can't run away from his relationship with Michael Cohen. Trump hand-picked Cohen to be his attorney, knowing he had a bad reputation and was more of a thug than a legal mind.

Turkey joined the ladies of Outnumbered after the court sentenced Trump's former personal attorney and fixer to 36 months in jail.

After describing Cohen as a dreadful attorney who would threaten people on behalf of Trump, co-host Melissa Francis asked, "So then does that extend to the president? If you say that this was the first malady of the person who was representing him and was characterized as his fixer -- how much of that then rubs off on the president, or is it like the president said "this is my lawyer and I was listening to his advice?"

Turley, who has been a vocal critic of the Mueller investigation, replied: "No, the president does bear responsibility, here. He picked Michael Cohen. Michael Cohen never had a good legal repetition. He never had a reputation as someone who was a particularly good lawyer. He was a bit of a thug and the president hired him and so there is no escaping that."

read more

Categories: Politics

I Have a Question for High School Guidance Counselors in Michigan

Kevin Drum - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 13:04

Annie Ma writes today about a new study at the University of Michigan that tests a simple intervention to get more applications from smart kids who can’t afford UM’s tuition:

A new working paper suggests that removing those barriers with a promise of financial aid can significantly increase the number of low-income students who apply to and enroll in a selective college….The school sent personalized mailers to high-achieving, low-income students, their parents, and their principals, telling them that if the students got into UM they’d get full tuition because they qualified for a High Achieving Involved Leader Scholarship.

Of the students who received the letters, 67 percent applied to UM—more than twice the rate of the control group, made up of similar students who only got a postcard informing them of the school’s application deadlines. The group that heard about the scholarship was also twice as likely to enroll at UM; 27 percent of them did.

But wait. Perhaps UM is merely poaching kids who would have gone to another selective university if UM hadn’t sent the packet? The researchers say no: “Nearly half of HAIL’s effect on enrollment is diversion from two-year colleges and non-attendance. The other half of the enrollment effect is drawn from four-year colleges that are less selective than University of Michigan….Typical among the target institutions mentioned by students were regional, four-year institutions such as Grand Valley State, Ferris State, Central Michigan University, Wayne State University, and Eastern Michigan University.”

Let’s take this at face value: a simple packet telling low-income students about state financial aid that they already qualify for increased applications from 26 percent to 67 percent and admissions from 12 percent to 27 percent. At the risk of displaying terminal naivete, WTF is going on here? If mere knowledge of state aid programs is all it takes to make a huge difference in application and enrollment, what are high school guidance counselors doing these days?

I know, I know, they’re overworked and underpaid and spend a ton of time on ADHD kids and personalized plans for disabled kids and so forth. I get that. But advising bright kids about their college options and letting them know about financial aid they qualify for—isn’t that part of their core mission? Are they doing it, but somehow a blue and maize mailer is wildly more convincing? Or are they not doing it at all, and the mailers come as a surprise to the families that get them?

I demand another study.

Categories: Politics

Congressional inquiries into the death of Roxsana Hernández in ICE custody continue to escalate

Daily Kos - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 12:47

The congressional inquiries into the horrific death of Roxsana Hernández while in immigration custody continue to escalate, following Congress member Bennie Thompson’s letter to acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) director Ronald Vitiello seeking further investigation into her death.

An independently run autopsy found that Hernández, a transgender asylum seeker originally from Honduras, likely languished without care for days before she was transferred to a hospital, where she died in intensive care. The forensic expert also found that she had likely been beaten before her death. “The seemingly preventable death of Ms. Hernandez Rodriguez,” Thompson continues, “is just one of 11 deaths at adult immigration detention centers this year.”

ICE is supposed to release an initial public report following any death in its custody. Seven months after Hernández’s death, ICE has refused to release anything, and instead has sought to discredit Dr. Kris Sperry, the forensic expert who conducted Hernández’s autopsy. In a separate letter earlier this month, Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) also called on ICE to release the report.

“We also request,” they continued, “that ICE and CBP each provide us with complete accounting and documentation of the specific training that their officers, agents, and contractors receive related to the processing, medical evaluation and care, and safety of transgender individuals in custody.” Hernández’s death has been emblematic of the treatment of the most vulnerable populations in immigration custody, especially in the sort of private detention facilities she had been held in. 

The Senate also need to take these deaths into account because Vitiello is currently gunning to permanently lead ICE. “These detainee deaths and detention standard violations raise serious questions about the treatment of individuals in ICE custody,” Thompson continued, “particularly especially vulnerable individuals and, more broadly, about your agency’s oversight of contract detention facilities.”

Categories: Politics

Another Republican is giving Pelosi advice on how to handle Trump

Daily Kos - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 12:21

Campaign Action

Republicans sure are concerned about bipartisanship all of a sudden, offering their sage advice to incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi about just how she should approach governing. Because, you know, the little lady must be in over her head. The latest comes from Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), who wants her to know that the best thing for her and the nation would be to be bipartisan and give Republicans what they want, rather than do her constitutional duty of oversight of Individual 1 and his government.

What's remarkable is that he told the Washington Examiner this after the disastrous televised meeting between Trump, her, and Chuck Schumer: "If she wants to spend two years in investigations and possibly an impeachment proceeding, that’s going to make it very, very difficult to get anything done, other than what we absolutely have to get done like the debt limit and passing a budget." He watched the leader of his party say "I am proud to shut down the government."

That's not the end of his advice, though. "But if she decides, which I think would be much wiser for her, that this is about actually doing what the American people are looking for, which in fact will be better for her electorally in 2020," and he said that with a seemingly straight face after the Democratic blow-out of last month. No, he says, "she will have to figure out, how do you come up with this way, not just to give both sides something, but to figure out how to get some of these folks who are in the middle to come together."

Hey, genius, there is no middle in the GOP. If there were, you wouldn't have the guy in the Oval Office you all keep propping up. Including Rob Portman, who pompously declared in October 2016 that "I can no longer support [Trump]," and has gone to vote with Trump 94 percent of the time.

It's almost as rich as Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy—the guy who so famously said in June, 2016 "There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump […] swear to God!"—that Pelosi really should shy away from investigating Trump. He's also the one who said out loud "Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable right? But we put together a Benghazi Special Committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping."

Right. I'm sure she'll take all this advice in the spirit in which it is given, and respond accordingly. Just probably not as profanely as most of us would do.

Categories: Politics

BREAKING: Michael Cohen Sentenced To Three Years In Prison

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 12:15
  Michael Cohen Sentenced To Three Years In Prison

This post will be updated. Bloomberg reports:

Pauley sentences Cohen to 36 months.

As judge read sentence, Cohen closed his eyes and shook his head slightly as if in disbelief.

Cohen also hit with forfeiture of $500,000, restitution of $1.4 million and a fine of $50,000.

Cohen gets 2 months concurrent for lying to Congress.

Judge says he will allow Cohen to voluntarily surrender on March 6.

Categories: Politics

Never Forget: Trump's Wall Is A Scam

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 12:07

A reminder from last August: The General Accounting Office notes there is no actual financial planning regarding Trump's magnificent "wall."

Also recall that in May of 2017 then OMB Director Mulvaney said his office "had not done the math" on building the border wall.

[clmediameta nid=129472]

And despite yesterday's drama with Nancy and Chuck, Trump isn't going to shut down the government over "border security."

He may shut down the government to convince his brainwashed base that he cares about the wall, though.

As I said in August:

If Trump was serious about building the wall, he would have called in the Army Corps of Engineers on Day One (and Congress would have happily paid for a report). Those professionals would have told the nation it can't be built and won't work. Instead, we get a GAO report 19 months later that told us what we already knew.

Categories: Politics

There are still lots of Republican House seats Democrats can win in 2020. Here are our top targets

Daily Kos - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 12:00

On Tuesday, we published our initial list of vulnerable House Republicans we’re targeting in 2020 so Democrats can increase our newly won majority. These include super-tight races that weren’t decided until well after Election Day, like the battle in Georgia’s 7th; districts that were never really a focus this cycle but wound up with unexpectedly close results, like Missouri’s 2nd; and contests that never quite took off but where the fundamentals suggest a real opportunity, like in New York’s 24th.

Below, we’ll explain how we settled on each of these 12 races out of a much larger list of potentially competitive GOP-held districts.

Goal Thermometer

Georgia's 7th
2018 Result:
Rob Woodall (R): 50.1%
Carolyn Bourdeaux (D): 49.9%
(2016: 51-45 Trump; 2012: 60-38 Romney)

After Woodall sleepwalked his way through the campaign, Bourdeaux came just 419 votes short of handing the incumbent the defeat he had so casually dismissed before the election. Not only did this wind up the closest House race in the nation after a recount, this suburban Atlanta district is also one of the most diverse that’s held by a Republican, and Democrat Stacey Abrams carried the 7th in 2018's gubernatorial race. Democrats now have a great opportunity to finish the job in 2020 with the help of presidential-year turnout.

Illinois' 13th
2018 Result:
Rodney Davis (R): 50.5%
Betsy Dirksen Londrigan (D): 49.5%
(2016: 50-44 Trump; 2012: 48.9-48.6 Romney)

After two disappointing results for Democrats in 2014 and 2016, this district returned to its competitive ways in 2018. This seat includes strongly blue turf like the University of Illinois and the state capital of Springfield, but is balanced out by large swaths of rural central Illinois. If Democratic enthusiasm remains high in 2020, this seat should be winnable.

Categories: Politics

Kansas Farmers Are Finally Seeing Climate Change With Their Own Eyes

Kevin Drum - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 11:44

The Guardian talks to Richard Oswald, a farmer in Kansas:

“When I was a kid, my dad would say an inch of rain was a good rain. That’s just what we needed. Now we get four inches, five inches, six inches in one sustained wet spell that lasts two or three days. I don’t ever remember that as a boy. I’ve never seen the sustained wetness in the land that we have now.

….Before the flood in 2011, Oswald, a Missouri river valley crop farmer, was skeptical about the warnings that rising temperatures heralded a more difficult future. Since then, the routines of planting and harvesting that his family has pursued on the same land for five generations have given way to a haphazard cycle governed by waves of extreme heat and intense rains.

….A decade ago, Oswald was on the fence about climate change. “At a certain point you just have to look at what’s going on in your own world and try to decide what you think the impacts of that are,” he said. “One of the problems farmers have is when we start talking about environment, a lot of times Sierra Club comes to mind and Sierra Club is pretty radical in their approach. When you have a group that says cows are the problem, you need to get rid of all the cows, and raising corn is a problem, we need to get rid of all the corn, then you’re not going to have a lot of farmers who want to join in and follow you,” he said.

Still, Oswald believes that denial is in retreat. Where farmers, including him, were once skeptical they now see the change with their own eyes.

Several years ago I wondered how bad climate change would have to get before skeptics finally accepted the evidence of their own eyes. I figured it would happen at least by 2024:

Trend #4: The fact of climate change will become undeniable. The effects of global warming, discernible today mostly in scary charts and mathematical models, will start to become obvious enough in the real world that even the rightest of right wingers will be forced to acknowledge what’s happening.

I’m still not seeing much evidence of this with only five years to go. But who knows? Maybe farmers will lead the way among the right-wing coalition.

Categories: Politics

New York's newly elected attorney general is about to become the Trump family's worst nightmare

Daily Kos - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 11:41

Donald Trump and his offspring are most certainly sweating the special counsel investigation into their increasingly obvious collusion with the Russians, the NRA, and a cast of bad characters like Roger Stone, but their real nightmare is about to begin and it has nothing to do with Robert Mueller. No, no. The worst fears of the Trump family crime organization are going to be realized when Leticia James is sworn in as New York’s attorney general. Unlike her predecessors, she is not going to look the other way. In fact, she’s coming at them with all that she has—and she plans to leave no stone unturned. In an interview with NBC News, James said, "We will use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well." 

Leticia James outlined just a few of the areas they intend to investigate immediately, including exactly how Donald Trump got $413 million from his father in sketchy real estate transactions and tax schemes and much more.

  • Any potential illegalities involving Trump's real estate holdings in New York, highlighting a New York Times investigation published in October into the president's finances.
  • The June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian official.
  • Examine government subsidies Trump received, which were also the subject of Times investigative work.
  • Whether he is in violation of the emoluments clause in the U.S. Constitution through his New York businesses.
  • Continue to probe the Trump Foundation.

In fact, James went even further, saying she would "investigate anyone in his orbit who has, in fact, violated the law." Considering how many criminals Donald Trump, his family, and his associates interact with on a regular basis, Leticia James is about a bring a world of hurt to Trump Tower. In 2012, then New York City District Attorney Cy Vance’s office was on the verge of bringing felony fraud charges against Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump for deceiving investors, but that investigation disappeared like a fart in the wind after Vance received a $25,000 donation from Trump attorney Marc Kasowitz. The New Yorker revealed details of the curious decision from Cy Vance to drop the case, overruling his own attorneys from the Major Economic Crimes Bureau.

Categories: Politics

Carlos fled gang violence, but U.S. officials took his kids at border and accused him of gang ties

Daily Kos - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 11:27

“We are going to chop up your children.” That was the message that Carlos Arias got on Facebook one day. The stranger wanted Arias, an employee at a high-end design firm, to pay a fortune—$1,300 a month—to gangs that prey on families in El Salvador. So he fled, first to a relative’s home, and when the threats got even worse, to the U.S/Mexico border. But at the border, officials accused him of being the gang member, and then took his children from him.

As a ProPublica investigation recently found, immigration officials have continued to separate families at the southern border by accusing parents, with absolutely no evidence, of criminality. Arias said that officials forced him to take off his shirt in search of MS-13 affiliated tattoos, “expressing surprise when he had no tattoos.” Like Julio, Arias had documentation confirming his good standing. It didn’t matter to officials. 

“The officers said they were going to take him from his kids, causing 11-year-old Alison, a shy and studious ‘daddy’s girl,’ to burst into tears,” the Houston Chronicle reports. Despite Donald Trump’s Oval Office PR stunt this past summer purporting to end family separation, the barbaric practice has continued. More than 130 days past a judge’s reunification deadline, over 170 kids torn from families under the “zero tolerance” policy are still in U.S. custody.

In some instances, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) leaders have had to do the job of incompetent Trump officials and navigate “treacherous roads, distrustful communities and remote villages” to try to locate parents that were carelessly deported by the administration. This is how family separation becomes permanent separation.

In the case of Julio, the Houston Chronicle reports he was released by an immigration judge on $8,000 bond, but he still doesn’t have his 4-year-old son back. Arias is still detained, while his two young children, Alison and 7-year-old Carlos, are in a children’s detention facility hundreds of miles away. “I didn’t even have a chance to say goodbye,” he said. Today, Wednesday, Dec. 12, marks 139 days since a federal judge’s reunification deadline. Family separation remains a crisis.

Categories: Politics

Julian Castro Declares For 2020

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 11:23

It's on.

Source: Associated Press

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Former Obama housing chief Julian Castro says he’s taking a step toward a possible White House campaign in 2020 by forming a presidential exploratory committee. The Texas Democrat tells The Associated Press that he will announce a decision Jan. 12.

The move Wednesday gives the 44-year-old former San Antonio mayor an early start to what’s shaping up as a crowded Democratic field without a clear front-runner to challenge President Donald Trump.

Castro indicated in an AP interview that his mind was all but made up.

“I know where I’m leaning, for sure,” said Castro, who has said for weeks that it was likely he would seek the nomination.

An exploratory committee usually is a formality before a candidate launches a presidential campaign. It legally allows potential candidates to begin raising money.


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Categories: Politics

Stephanie Ruhle Begs Fox To Stop Airing Ann Coulter

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 11:18

While Fox News regularly starts feuds with their more fact-based counterparts CNN and MSNBC, it's rare that the on-air talent for a non-Fox network will call out Fox by name for their hate speech and lies.

And Stephanie Ruhle's tweet this morning does seem more in sorrow than in anger:

Ann Coulter loves any attention she can get. Multiple people on Twitter noted that a party made up of "Muslims and the Jews and the various exotic sexual groups and the black church ladies with the college queers" is exactly the party they want to join, and others noted that white and straight men attended the Women's March as allies and why didn't Ann notice?

Categories: Politics

Tennessee court says teen victim of sex trafficking who defended herself deserves 51 years in prison

Daily Kos - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 11:16

Fifty-one years in prison is the kind of justice you get if you are the 16-year-old survivor of sex trafficking that kills a much older man who solicits you for sex. Though Cyntoia Brown is clearly the victim in this scenario—a young woman who has experienced unspeakable trauma and sexual assault at the hands of men, the state of Tennessee says that she must remain in prison for five decades before she can be released.

In 2004, Brown was 16 when she shot and killed Johnny Allen, a man who was 43 years old at the time. She was a runaway who was living with her 24-year-old boyfriend, a pimp who raped her and forced her into prostitution. Allen was a real-estate agent who solicited Brown one night for sex. He took her back to his home and got into bed with her. According to Brown, she feared for her life and thought he was reaching for a gun. So she shot him first with a handgun she had in her purse. 

The Huffington Post notes that Brown was later tried as an adult and convicted of the following: first-degree murder, felony murder, and aggravated robbery. She was originally sentenced to life in prison. The U.S. Supreme Court says that life sentences without parole for juveniles is a violation of their constitutional rights. And so Brown’s lawyers filed a lawsuit claiming that her sentence is unconstitutional. But the state of Tennessee doesn’t care about Brown or her rights. So last week, the state’s Supreme Court ruled that she has to remain in prison for 51 years before she is eligible for parole. Specifically, “under the state’s law, defendants like Brown who were convicted of first-degree murder after July 1, 1995, can only be released from prison after serving at least 51 years of their sentences.”

This is not justice. Especially when Brown was convicted of a crime for defending herself against a man who was in the act of committing a crime—unless, of course, Tennessee considers sex with a minor who’s been forced into prostitution legal. It’s nothing but a workaround for the court, which delighted in noting that technically Brown isn’t in prison for the rest of her life. In fact, they made it clear that she’d received a “life sentence, not a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.”

One can only hope these judges are pleased with themselves. After all, it takes a truly awful person to sentence a teenage rape victim to life in prison. 

It’s worth noting that Brown hadn’t even reached the age of consent and wasn’t a legal adult at the time. And yet somehow, she’s the villain who ends up in jail until she’s a senior citizen. It’s really hard to imagine that this would be happening if Brown were white. And especially male. Actually, it wouldn’t be happening. Because white men who rape are so often given a pass, receiving light sentences or no sentence at all. We need only look at some recent cases in the news to know this. 

Categories: Politics

Trump attorney Michael Cohen sentenced in US District court

Daily Kos - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 11:12

Michael Cohen is in U.S. District court in New York City on Wednesday morning, appearing before Judge William Pauley to receive his sentence for tax evasion, bank fraud, and two felony violations of campaign finance law under the direction of Donald Trump. Cohen’s defense attorneys will get one last chance to discuss why they feel like Cohen should get a reduced sentence for his cooperation with federal prosecutors. They will suggest that Cohen has “already suffered” sufficiently in terms of loss of income, embarrassment, and brief periods of imprisonment, so he should receive no additional jail time.

The US attorney for the Southern District of New York will speak on why Cohen’s crimes are serious and his cooperation was incomplete. The earlier court filings from the SDNY suggested that Cohen receive only a “modest” reduction from what would normally be a sentence of four to six years.

When the attorney’s are done, Judge Pauley will hand down his decision. Though Donald Trump is directly implicated in the campaign finance violations, it’s not clear how much his part in this will play in Cohen’s sentence.

Wednesday, Dec 12, 2018 · 4:14:48 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Cohen’s attorney’s are starting out with a focus on how Cohen has cooperated specifically on the campaign finance charges. According to the attorneys, Cohen stood up to “the most powerful person” in the country by speaking out against Trump, and he should credited for this with a greater reduction than might be true in other cases.

Wednesday, Dec 12, 2018 · 4:16:16 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Cohen’s attorney not only invokes Watergate, but specifically contrasts Cohen’s cooperation with Paul Manafort’s pretend-cooperation.

x

Wednesday, Dec 12, 2018 · 4:25:22 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Cohen’s attorney has also spent considerable time on the bank fraud issue, claiming that while Cohen may have misrepresented facts and risk to banks “no bank ever lost money” in dealing with Cohen. The attorney has also dismissed the tax charges against Cohen as something that is often dealt with “in a non-criminal context.”

Wednesday, Dec 12, 2018 · 4:27:04 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

Sung to the tune of “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” …

x

Wednesday, Dec 12, 2018 · 4:30:10 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

And on the “not cooperating fully” front that was pressed by the SDNY in their documents. Cohen admits that he’s not cooperating fully, and apparently does not intend to.

x

That would not seem to be the kind of statement that generates favor with the judge.

Wednesday, Dec 12, 2018 · 4:31:32 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

You might also read that last statement as “Mikey isn’t going to talk about the mob.”

Categories: Politics

Republicans pressure IRS to audit more Americans making as little as $20,000 per year

Daily Kos - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 10:54

One of the main jobs of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is to act as a collection agency. Like any collection agency, it is tasked with making sure that the monies coming in and out are lawfully accounted for.

The much-feared “auditing” that the IRS can pursue on Americans and companies is supposed to be a process by which the IRS keeps people and large companies “honest” about paying their rightful amount of taxes. Ideally, the IRS carries out audits on people and institutions with the potential of hiding or lying about how much of their private revenue belongs to all of us to use on the programs and functions we, as a country, need. Historically, the IRS has, like many government departments, been hamstrung and directed to take it relatively easy on the people with the most money.

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) has been a part of our country’s tax codes in some shape or form since the mid-1970s. The basic idea grew out of the national conversation on what to do about poverty in our country. A country as wealthy as the United States should not need to squeeze water from a stone, especially when there are so many people and companies flush with profits. The majority of people claiming the EITC earn around $20,000 a year—and they are also more likely to be audited by the IRS than Americans making 20 times as much. ProPublica explains that this is the result of a couple of things.

For one, budget cuts to the IRS’s collection apparatus have hamstrung the agency’s ability to go after potentially more complicated tax evasion practices. The other reason is that Republicans have been pushing their now-standard racist and classist attacks on ‘fraudulent’ government spending, solely on the backs of people making the least amount of money.

Categories: Politics

Trump gets further and further from intelligence

Daily Kos - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 10:45

Donald Trump is continuing to reject the evidence and analysis provided by the CIA, military intelligence, and other agencies. His refusal to accept facts and expert review increasingly leaves the United States in danger, and is one of the primary reasons that America has so frequently been at odds with allies, and sometimes the world.

As the Washington Post reports, intelligence officials thought initially that Trump’s resistance to their work was a campaign stunt, and that once he was privy to the details of how they were reaching their results and recommendations, he would settle in and consult with them on important issues and appreciated the effort—and the lives—invested in bringing back the best information possible. But that’s not what happened. If anything, Trump has become even more resistant to looking at intelligence analysis. He won’t read reports. He’s not interested in the data. 

“There is extraordinary frustration,” a U.S. intelligence official said. The CIA and other agencies continue to devote enormous “time, energy and resources” to ensuring that accurate intelligence is delivered to Trump, the official said, but his seeming imperviousness to such material often renders “all of that a waste.”

Instead Trump wants to operate on his “gut.” And while Trump’s gut may be a considerable source of gravity, it’s utterly lacking in either gravitas or accuracy.

As a result, of the Great Wall that Trump has raised between himself and anything that looks like intelligence, many of the officials in various agencies are writing reports not for use, but “for the record.” They’re trying to ensure that when history peeks in to see just how the United States screwed up so badly on so many historic opportunities (or when alien archaeologists go looking for just who was responsible for a supposedly intelligence species parboiling the planet) they will discover that the intelligence community was still doing their work, still sending out signals of danger. But the receivers were all turned off.

Even before he took office, Donald Trump showed nothing but disdain for the intelligence community—especially when it comes to the connection between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. Trump’s refusal to look at anything related to that analysis has continued and expanded to the point where the “President’s Daily Brief” is no longer even read by Trump. Instead, it’s read by cabinet members, at least a few of whom hope to be able to sneak a fact over Trump’s threshold, so long as they don’t let him know that it was backed by actual data.

Categories: Politics

Why Fox News can't save Trump from Mueller

Daily Kos - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 10:45

Individual 1 is seething as Michael Cohen flips, implicating his former boss in a felony. Onetime national security adviser Michael Flynn moves prosecutors closer toward obstruction of justice inside the White House, Trump ally Roger Stone has taken the Fifth, and former campaign chair Paul Manafort got caught lying to prosecutors—again. This is all happening while House Democrats get ready to wield subpoena power come January. The walls are closing in on Donald Trump, and there's likely nothing Fox News or its band of feeble defenders will be able to do to stop the legal onslaught in the weeks and months to come.

As the rat-tat-tat of revelations continues via Robert Mueller court filings, with each new document dump producing more bad news for the White House, the conservative hope that Fox News and the right-wing media would be able to spin away the torrent of shocking developments is looking more fantastic each day.

Since last year, a conservative mythology has been built up and widely shared within the D.C. media that if and when Mueller releases his final Russia report, Fox News and the GOP media will effectively debunk it—or at least raise enough doubts about it, thereby diminishing the political pain for Trump's White House.

Remember, that's the whole point of creating a conservative media echo chamber via cable news, talk radio, syndicated columnists, and an army of Twitter loyalists. The goal is to build a sustainable information bubble where Republicans can exist with their own alternative facts. And that's where they have presided on a daily basis since Trump was inaugurated, as Fox News has faithfully delivered a view of the world that only the likes of Sarah Huckabee Sanders would consider to be realistic.

As the Mueller reckoning gains momentum and the drama unfolds in the legal realm, there's very little Fox News and their lineup of sophomoric analysts can do to debunk the findings. Quite simply, Fox News is completely out of its element when it comes to trying to offer up a counter-narrative to Mueller's serious and detailed Russia investigation. That very difficult job would require a team of extremely talented and adroit legal and political minds who would sift through the Mueller evidence and do their best to try to raise legitimate doubts about the unfolding allegations.

Honestly, that task wouldn’t even be possible at this point, considering the mountain of evidence that exists with regards to the criminality surrounding Trump and his team. But even if it were possible, Fox News doesn't employ a stable of extremely talented legal and political minds. Instead, they employ Trump loyalists who have trouble responding to the White House's mounting woes. Fox News just doesn't have the intellectual firepower that's required.

Categories: Politics

After months of Trump's threats to shut down government, Republicans are shocked he wants a shutdown

Daily Kos - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 10:29

Senate Republicans are reportedly "dumbfounded" that Individual 1 volunteered to take the blame for a government shutdown in his batshit meeting with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer Tuesday. Why this has come as such a shock to them is unclear, because Trump has been volunteering to shut down the government at every opportunity, for his entire time in office.

Nevertheless, they seem to think this came totally out of the blue. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who is retiring rather than further associate himself with a party that has Trump at the helm, said "Everybody wants to blame it on the other party, always. That's what you typically do. That's out the window now." Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) goes for a little bit of light anti-Semitism in his remarks. "I think Sen. Schumer was very shrewd in his efforts to make certain that whatever blame is to be had for a shutdown doesn't rest with the Democrats," Moran said. Right, that "shrewd" Jew tricked Trump. When Trump was the one insisting that this all happen in front of the cameras and when Trump has been begging to have a shutdown.

After that "remarkable exchange," Politico tells us, "congressional Republicans were reeling as they tried to adjust to the president's stunning willingness to own an impending partial shutdown over his wall demands." Not just willingness, eagerness. "I am proud to shut down the government for border security." And even after the meeting, when he was sent out again to do some damage control, he declared "I don't mind owning that issue. […] We're closing it down for border security and I think I win that every single time."

The most astounding thing out of this is that Republicans are astounded. One of the many departing House Republicans said Trump's performance "was unbelievable. I literally couldn't believe a president of the United States was acting that crazy." Where the hell has he been since 2015? The delusion is deep, however. Says Sen. John Thune (R-SD), everyone will forget this and blame it on the Democrats when the shutdown happens. "This is going to be the finger pointing exercise we always go through […] irrespective of that interesting press conference."

No. Trump is going to make sure that he gets all the credit for a shutdown. Because HE. WANTS. A. SHUTDOWN.

Where we go from here is not entirely clear. House leadership is apparently planning to have that vote Pelosi taunted Trump with, including $5 billion for his wall. It seems highly unlikely that it will pass, because if it could have passed, it would have already. But maybe as their last gasp on their way out, Republicans will rally together to get it down. That would mean, however, that the 44 of them who haven't shown up for work this week would have to come to D.C. We'll see. Seems pretty certain at this point, though, that several hundred thousand federal employees are going to be spending the holidays without paychecks. Because that's what Trump wants.

Categories: Politics

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