Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Trump admitted to IRS embezzlement from his charity

Painter Michael Israel poses with Donald and Melania Trump in 2007 at Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club. Trump spent $20,000 that belonged to the Donald J. Trump Foundation to buy a six-foot-tall portrait of himself painted by Israel to decorate his estate. (Michael Israel)
It is important to understand that money and assets of the Donald J. Trump Foundation DO NOT belong to Donald Trump.  It's not his money to do with as he pleases and most the money in the DJT Foundation did NOT come from Donald. "Self-dealing" is just a euphemism for embezzling.  Not that anyone cares.

The latest from David Fahrenthold at the Washington Post,
President-elect Donald Trump’s charitable foundation has admitted to the IRS that it violated a legal prohibition against “self-dealing,” which bars nonprofit leaders from using their charity’s money to help themselves, their businesses or their families.
That admission was contained in the Donald J. Trump Foundation’s IRS tax filings for 2015, which were recently posted online at the nonprofit-tracking site GuideStar. A GuideStar spokesman said the forms were uploaded by the Trump Foundation’s law firm, Morgan, Lewis and Bockius.
You can read all about it here.

David has been all over the DJT Foundation story and deserves a Pulitzer for his work.   Follow David on Twitter here.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Big Surprise: Repealing Obamacare is hard

On more than 60 occasions House Republicans voted to repeal the ACA, so called 'Obamacare' and with the Senate even defunded it once.   These were free votes because the House knew the Senate would save them and the Senate knew the President would veto defunding.

And even today nearly every Republican in front of a mic is promising the will repeal 'Obamacare' right away.  Republicans are great revolutionaries, but they are completely incompetent on crafting policy.  And they are starting to figure this out.

Think about the people with Obamacare insurance who have cancer and need chemotherapy. Think of the patients with brain tumors who need an MRI scan. Think of all the patients at risk of heart attacks and strokes who need surgery.  Think about all the children in their early 20s kicked on their parents plans.  Think about the reaction when you give these people exactly what you promised them and then imagine watching this play out nightly on TV.

As recently as last Sunday Trump told Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes that there would be no repeal without replacement. And there will be no gap between repeal and replacement – not even a single day.

And here is the problem Republicans face: 'Obamacare' is the Republican healthcare plan.  Liberals favor single payer.  What Republicans now call  'Obamacare' was conceived at the Heritage Foundation and first implemented by Mitt Romney as governor of Massachusetts.  It's market based provided private company insurance with subsides through an online exchange, or market, if you prefer.

In the nearly 7 years since the passage of the ACA, Republicans have never been able to agree on how to replace it.  The proposal begins by abolishing Obamacare and all its revenues. Then to avoid throwing 20 million people out on the street it imposes a Republican Cadillac tax, which is basically a tax on the health plans of ordinary workers. This tax will have to be very large in order to fund insurance for 20 million people. It would have to be really, really large to achieve the Trump goal of universal coverage.  Except every Republican in the House is on record as opposing a Cadillac tax. And even if they weren’t so inclined, Trump has promised to lower taxes on blue collar workers, not raise them.  Perhaps the largest failing of Obamacare, which Trump has promised to fix is that even now something like 30 million Americans remain uninsured, and unless we make fundamental changes ot our approach to healthcare, this number isn't likely to move much.

"I've got to see replace" said Sen. Claire McCaskill, (D MO), in an interview with Talking Points Memo.. "I've threatened to bring bloodhounds to the Capitol to find replace. For years, I've been looking for replace. I've looked in committee rooms, I've looked in hearing rooms, I've looked under desks, I've looked in closets. There has never been a replace."  "Let's see how that would work for the millions of people who have certainty and security right now."

I expect we will see a proposal for universal healthcare by tax credit, but that is going to be enormously expensive with no revenue streams to subsidize the credit.  And what about preexisting conditions and all the other reforms to non-employer sponsored healthcare that the ACA brought us that everyone now takes for granted?

Shooting your mouth off is easy when you never expect to be called upon to deliver.  Now, Republicans have to deliver and I don't think they're cut out for it.

As the Zen Master says, 'We'll see'. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

White supremacists carry out majority of fatal attacks on U.S. soil

Dylann Roof who is accused of gunning down nine African Americans at a historic Charleston church on June 17, 2015
The majority of fatal attacks on U.S. soil are carried out by white supremacists, not terrorists says the very conservative Washington Times.
In the 14 years since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, nearly twice as many people have been killed in the United States by white supremacists and anti-government radicals than by Muslim jihadis, according to a new study. White supremacists and anti-government radicals have killed 48 Americans, including [June 17, 2015] deadly attack in South Carolina, versus 26 killings by Muslim radicals, according to a count by New America, a Washington research center. “Each time it [right-wing, radical violence] comes up, there’s a tendency to dismiss it as lone actor, mental health issues,” he said. “So it’s important to not ignore threats,”

Trump Already Violating ‘Blind Trust’ Agreement by Meeting with Indian Business Partners

Donald Trump and a group of investors at Trump Tower after a meeting this week (Twitter.com)
The ink isn't even dry on Trump's supposed 'Blind Trust' and he's meeting with Indian investors in Trump businesses.

 So exciting were these Indian investors to be buying a piece of the soon-to-be POTUS that they posted on Twitter this photo of themselves alongside Trump giving the “thumbs up” gesture after their meeting and a message that said, “Atul, Sagar Chordia, Kalpesh Mehta meets U S President Mr Donald Trump at Trump Towers New York office just now.”

Here's the story.

And remember, always be closing!

The White House is for Closers!

The 11th street lobby entrance to the Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
This is going to drive Democrats and honest good government people crazy. Donald Trump has no personal ethics, has made a living self-dealing his entire life and could not care less about any government prohibitions of taking money from any one he wants.  And Republicans in Congress and certainly AG Jeff Sessions could not care less how much Donald cashes in.

Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the US Constitution prohibits Presidents from accepting gifts or money from foreign governments.  You say that foreign governments have given Presidents gifts for 230 years, and that's true except those gifts belong to the government and not the President.

So the Washington Post reports that the Trump organization is pressing all foreign governments who do business with the US to use Trump's new Washington Hotel,
To many of the guests at the reception Tuesday, accepting an invitation to tour the $212 million hotel and check out the $20,000-a-night, 6,300-square-foot “town house” suite seemed like a good idea. They spoke admiringly about the renovation and left with a goody bag of chocolates and a brochure. It listed the choices of accommodations and meeting rooms and expounded on the location’s “striking prominence” at historical moments such as the Inauguration Day parade. “Believe me, all the delegations will go there,” said one Middle Eastern diplomat who recently toured the hotel and booked an overseas visitor. The diplomat said many stayed away from the hotel before the election for fear of a “Clinton backlash,” but that now it’s the place to be seen. In interviews with a dozen diplomats, many of whom declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak about anything related to the next U.S. president, some said spending money at Trump’s hotel is an easy, friendly gesture to the new president. “Why wouldn’t I stay at his hotel blocks from the White House, so I can tell the new president, ‘I love your new hotel!’ Isn’t it rude to come to his city and say, ‘I am staying at your competitor?’ ” said one Asian diplomat.
Why indeed?  Giving business to Trump's competitors is no way to buy influence with the POTUS.

Remember when Trump was worried about the Clinton Foundation? Well, that was all made up.

You can read the story here.

Schumer: The War Time Consigliere Democrats Crave?

John Shinkle/POLITICO
When the115th Congress convenes on January 3, 2017, Harry Reid will be retired and Chuck Schumer will be leading the Democratic minority.   Will Schumer be able to effectively lead the minority to preserve as much of the gains progressives made under President Obama? He is not exactly popular with the left and folks like Elizabeth Warren will be pursuing their own agenda. Still, I would bet against Schumer but it will not be easy.  Democrat politicians in Washington are by nature institutionalists who want to make government work.  Republicans are revolutionaries who want to burn it all down and could not care less what anyone thinks.

Add to this the looming 2018 mid-terms when Democrats face the worst map in decades being forced to defend 25 seats to the Republican's eight.

Billed as an interview with Schumer, Politico has a piece that takes a look at Schumer's preparation for the battles ahead.
Schumer insists his party is more unified than Republicans following Trump's win, especially on economic issues....The party’s increasingly liberal base will expect him to confront Trump and McConnell aggressively and without exception. But Schumer also has to look out for vulnerable Democrats from red-leaning states, who represent Democrats’ only hopes of eventually getting back to the majority.  Schumer has been busy building his own cabinet of advisers. He appointed Manchin [WV and up in 2018] and liberal firebrand Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to his leadership team this week, pursuing a collaborative approach in which he’ll listen to nine voices from across the Democratic spectrum, then make up his mind.
You can read the whole piece here.

Has the Resistence formed?

John Shinkle/POLITICO

Politico reports this morning that Obama loyalist are uniting nationally to organize the resistance.   While I tend to be skeptical of such things  -- emotion makes big plans that can be hard to follow thru on when the emotion subsides -- the Obama machine redefined political organization for the 21st Century. 
The talks are all early, but a few broad themes have emerged. One is protecting the people most targeted by Trump’s policies and rhetoric. How to block a deportation force, for example? Could Vice President Joe Biden leads an anti-domestic violence campaign? Then there are the Obama policies that are most at-risk: the health law, his climate regulation. Finally, with Democratic ranks decimated not only at the federal level, but in statehouses as well, there’s a significant new emphasis on supporting alumni who are considering running for office.
Over the past 10 years, Obama alumni have spread throughout the government, the advocacy world, and influential parts of the private sector, including at Google and Facebook. That means there’s a lot diverse talent to harness.
Give it a read.