Saturday, June 23, 2018

We wants

Petty president.  Nasty man.

"Cryin' Chuck"?  The Asshat in Chief is the biggest whiner on the planet.

That ought to be a great time.

Release the tax returns

If the Trump Foundation's tax returns are this bad, imagine what his personal returns might reveal.
For years, President Trump personally signed the tax returns for his charitable foundation, scrawling his signature just below a stern warning from the IRS: Providing false information could lead to “penalties of perjury.”

But a lawsuit filed last week by New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood alleges that four of the tax returns Trump signed contained incorrect statements, confirming previous reports by The Washington Post.

In 2007, 2012, 2013 and 2014, the Donald J. Trump Foundation stated that none of its money had been used to benefit Trump or his businesses. But the New York attorney general found that, in each of those years, Trump had used his charity’s funds to help one of his businesses. In 2013, the attorney general alleged, Trump also failed to disclose an improper gift to a political group.


Underwood also accuses Trump of turning his charity into a tool of his 2016 presidential campaign, despite prohibitions on political activity by nonprofit entities. She also laid out her findings in a letter to the IRS, suggesting that federal authorities investigate further.


Through the 2000s and this decade, Trump repeatedly asserted on state and federal forms that his foundation was following the law.

Underwood’s complaint alleges otherwise.


If federal officials do not pursue a criminal case against Trump, legal experts said, the tax agency could face its own quandary. Why should other taxpayers be punished for violating the same rules that the president has now been accused of breaking?


" ‘If they don’t prosecute him, does everybody get a pass?’ ”

What do you think?
In 2007, for instance, Trump used $100,000 from his foundation to settle a legal dispute between his Mar-a-Lago Club and the town of Palm Beach, Fla., The Post previously reported. As part of the settlement, the for-profit beach club had pledged to make a donation to a veterans charity.


One of the questions on the 990 asks whether a charity has transferred “any income or assets to a disqualified person.” The term “disqualified person” refers to a category of person including an officer of a charity.

Trump was an officer: He was the charity’s president. So, the New York attorney general said, the charity had just transferred money in a way that saved Trump’s business $100,000.


But on that question, the Trump Foundation checked the box marked “no.”

Trump signed the return.


The same thing happened in 2012, when Trump used foundation assets — this time, $158,000 — to settle a legal dispute with a man who had sued one of his New York golf clubs over a negated hole-in-one prize.

The golf club agreed to make a donation. The charity made the gift instead, according to the lawsuit.


Then, in 2013, the Trump Foundation paid $5,000 to put an ad for Trump’s hotel chain in the program for a charity gala. And in 2014, Trump used $10,000 of the charity’s money to buy a portrait of himself, which his employees hung on a wall in a sports bar at a Trump golf resort in Florida.


In 2013, Trump gave $25,000 of the charity’s money to a political committee supporting Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (R). By law, charities are not allowed to make political gifts.


On that year’s return, as always, the IRS asked whether the Trump Foundation had spent more than $100 for “political purposes.”

The box checked was “no.”

Also, the Trump Foundation omitted any mention of the gift to Bondi’s group when the form asked it to list all outgoing donations. Instead, Trump’s charity listed a different gift in its place: It told the IRS it had given $25,000 to a separate group, in Kansas, with a name similar to Bondi’s political group. But the Kansas group told The Post it never received a donation.
Jesus Christ. A litany of fraud.
“There’s the adage, ‘Ignorance is no excuse.’ That’s not true in tax law. In tax law, ignorance is an excuse for criminal violations,” said Guinevere Moore, a Chicago attorney specializing in tax cases.

The idea, Moore said, is that tax law is so complicated that prosecutors cannot presume people know they are breaking it.


The president’s strategy, so far, has been to plead ignorance. In filings with the IRS — detailed in the New York attorney general’s suit — Trump blamed the gift to Bondi on a clerical error and said another clerical error had resulted in a nonexistent gift being listed in its place.
Almost as good as Reagan's ubiquitous defense that he forgot.
After The Post’s reporting and the launch of the New York attorney general’s investigation, Trump repaid his foundation for its expenditures. His golf club took down the portrait. He also assessed himself $4,000 in penalty taxes in total on three of the transactions — the portrait, the gala program and the donation to Bondi.

But some tax-law experts said that in the unlikely event Trump winds up in a criminal court, it may be hard to convince a jury that a man of his business experience was so unsophisticated, for so long, about his own charity.
Easier than convincing a judge.
“You could try. But I think it’s probably a loser,” said Christopher Rizek, an attorney at Caplin & Drysdale who has defended clients in tax cases. “You’ve got a guy who’s bragged for years about how smart he is, and how much tax law he knows. And now all of a sudden he doesn’t know anything?”


Last week, Trump described the lawsuit as a political attack by New York Democrats, although the current New York attorney general, Underwood, is a nonpolitician who was appointed to her post. “I won’t settle this case!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Countdown started. And I'd suggest that defiant statement indicates he did indeed know and thinks he's right.
Already, [Guinevere Moore, a Chicago attorney specializing in tax cases] said, she sees signs that taxpayers have been influenced by Trump’s approach toward his charity, as well as the way he bragged during the 2016 campaign that trying to avoid taxes “makes me smart.”


In filings to the IRS, Trump’s foundation offered a separate defense: Clerical errors caused the foundation to make payments it should not have, and Trump knew so little about charity rules that he broke the law without knowing it. “Neither the Foundation nor [Trump] knew,” the group wrote in an IRS filing, it was wrong to use foundation money to buy a portrait that hung on a wall in one of Trump’s golf resorts.
My ass. And even if he didn't - he did - the Trump Foundation has tax attorneys.

It's about time somebody filed a lawsuit on the Trump Foundation - we've known about its illegal use since before the 2016 election.

Why running the government is impossible for the GOP

There seems little doubt that the Republicans in the House of Representatives are riven with ideological chaos, struck numb by the basic conundrum of modern conservatism: When your whole political identity is defined by the proposition that government is not the solution, but, rather, the problem, you don’t know how to operate it when fortune and gerrymandering hand you the wheel.

You can fake it pretty convincingly, doing the bidding of your donor class and knuckling the powerless and making a nice living for yourself, as long as events pursue a fairly predictable course for which there are familiar precedents in your experience.


The problem arises when something unpredictable happens, and the government you control has to be fast on its feet, and you don’t know how that really works. A hurricane and a flood drowns New Orleans, and the luxury horse-show official you put in charge of the country’s emergency management system—because who cares, right?—finds that he’s really not up to the job. Or, suddenly, you find that, no matter how hot the emotions run at your rallies or how brightly your favorite TV network polishes your apple, or how hard you pitch the snake oil that got you elected, the country will not stand for being complicit in the kidnapping and caging of children. The pictures begin to pile up. The mirror in which the country prefers to see itself cracks into a million sharp shards that begin to cut your political life away.


The president*’s own rhetoric—indeed, the raison d’etre of his entire campaign—trapped him into at first defending the indefensible and then abandoning what was perhaps the only consistent policy idea he ever had—outside of enriching himself and his family, that is.


Of course, because he knows nothing about anything, including how to actually be president*, he bungled even his own abject surrender. He’s spent the days since signing his executive order railing against what he felt compelled to do and arguing against himself and losing anyway.


The president* has gone completely incoherent, standing firm until he doesn’t, looking for help in the Congress that he’ll never get, and reversing himself so swiftly on his one signature issue that he’s probably screwed himself up to the ankles in the floor of the Oval Office. By Friday afternoon, he was back on the electric Twitter machine, yapping about the Democrats and “their phony stories of sadness and grief.” And a hundred Republican candidates dive back behind the couch.


The country is hearing the voices that the cacophony of fear and anger had drowned out for almost three years. The spell, such as it was, and in most places, may be wearing off at last. The hallucinatory effect of a reality-show presidency* is dispersing like a foul, smoky mist over a muddy battlefield.


Scott Pruitt remains a grifter of nearly inhuman proportions, and a vandal besides. Neil Gorsuch continues to prove himself to be the reliable conservative hack for whom the Republicans stole a Supreme Court seat. But the crisis at the border is a leg-hold trap for all of them. There’s no way for them to keep faith with themselves and get out from under the humanitarian disaster they concocted. One day, maybe, brave Guatemalan mothers and their very brave children may be said to have saved the American Republic from slow-motion and giddy suicide. Some even may be our fellow citizens by then, and we should remember to thank them.

  Charles P Pierce
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Have I mentioned that your president is a madman?

Donald Trump has declared that North Korea still poses an “extraordinary threat” to the United States, just days after saying that the country’s nuclear program no longer constituted a danger.


It states that “the existence and risk of proliferation of weapons-usable fissile material” and the actions and policies of the North Korean government “continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States”.

  The Guardian
June 13 - "No longer a nuclear threat"
June 23 - "Unusual and extraordinary threat"

Paraphrasing the words of Sir Thomas Moore in Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons, let's just hope that when his head stops spinning it's facing front again. Not to mention his cult followers.  If they even have heads.
In an executive order on Friday, the president extended for one year the so-called “national emergency” with respect to the nuclear-armed nation, re-authorizing economic restrictions against it.
What are the North Koreans to think? If Trump "won" the nuclear weapons threat battle, why are they still being sanctioned?

Let me guess what happened here: Trump had a photo op with Kim Jong Un and pretended to have dealt away the threat of nuclear war in an attempt to get a Nobel Peace Prize nomination (like Obama), and then the world found out what he's doing to asylum-seeking families and their children; the Nobel Prize people made a statement condemning that policy, he saw his plans for a prize go down the drain, so he has to start over with Korea. About right? (Kim never gave up his nukes, by the way. Nor did he promise to do so.)
Trump claimed at a cabinet meeting Thursday that denuclearization had already begun, although his defense secretary, James Mattis, told reporters a day earlier that he wasn’t aware that North Korea had taken any steps yet toward denuclearization, and that detailed negotiations have not yet begun.
I expect Mattis will be ordered to quit talking to reporters.

This reversal took slightly longer than his three-day reversal on immigration legislation, so, no record here.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

And whose sick idea was this?

"Requested by family members."  Sure.  Leaving the inappropirateness of the whole obvious ploy aside, those people didn't arrive with giant photos of their dead family members.  Now they have giant photos of dead family members with Donald Trump's autograph.  Are they going to frame them and hang them over their TV set?  Bizarre and twisted.

And why on earth do they call them "Angel Families"?

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Friday, June 22, 2018


It's my understanding they didn't even keep records.

That's funny.  But they don't even know where they all are.

I don't think "odd" is the word you're looking for.  Try "unconscionable" or "unacceptable" or "unfuckingbelievable".

Okay, Paula?  Now they're just fucking with you guys.  Stop talking to them.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

When you've lost George Will...

Remember when George Will was the Conservative's conservative?
The congressional Republican caucuses must be substantially reduced. So substantially that their remnants, reduced to minorities, will be stripped of the Constitution’s Article I powers that they have been too invertebrate to use against the current wielder of Article II powers. They will then have leisure time to wonder why they worked so hard to achieve membership in a legislature whose unexercised muscles have atrophied because of people like them.


House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), [...] wagered his dignity on the patently false proposition that it is possible to have sustained transactions with today’s president, this Vesuvius of mendacities, without being degraded.


Congressional Republicans (congressional Democrats are equally supine toward Democratic presidents) have no higher ambition than to placate this president.

  George Will
Perhaps, but Democrats have never had a president so in need of placating as this one.
Recently Sen. Bob Corker [...] proposed a measure by which Congress could retrieve a small portion of the policymaking power that it has, over many decades and under both parties, improvidently delegated to presidents. Congress has done this out of sloth and timidity — to duck hard work and risky choices. Corker’s measure would have required Congress to vote to approve any trade restrictions imposed in the name of “national security.” All Senate Republicans worthy of the conservative label that all Senate Republicans flaunt would privately admit that this is conducive to sound governance and true to the Constitution’s structure. But the Senate would not vote on it — would not allow it to become just the second amendment voted on this year.

This is because the amendment would have peeved the easily peeved president.


[J]ust as a magnet attracts iron filings, Trump attracts, and is attracted to, louts.

In today’s GOP, which is the president’s plaything, he is the mainstream. So, to vote against his party’s cowering congressional caucuses is to affirm the nation’s honor while quarantining him.A Democratic-controlled Congress would be a basket of deplorables, but there would be enough Republicans to gum up the Senate’s machinery, keeping the institution as peripheral as it has been under their control and asphyxiating mischief from a Democratic House. And to those who say, “But the judges, the judges!” the answer is: Article III institutions are not more important than those of Articles I and II combined.
I don't know about that. And why is it a good thing to have a Congress whose job is to "gum up" its own machinery? But I take his point: vote Democratic this fall.

"Vesuvius of mendacities." I rather like that.

But, Paul Ryan never had any dignity to wager.

And, hey, George is cheating. You know he doesn't still look like this:

That looks like the picture on his Newsweek columns 40 years ago.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.


Look at the bright side.  That's 9,000 barrels that won't be sanctioned with tariffs by the EU.

Big win for Kentucky Bourbon!

Big win for the farmers

How do work requirements for food stamp eligibility benefit farmers?

And speaking of wins for farmers...
[I]n southern Minnesota, where generations of soybean farmers and pork producers are already used to economic uncertainty, Trump's tough talk on trade has been demoralizing.

The same tariffs that Trump touted on Wednesday have left these growers as collateral damage in an escalating fight with China. Tariffs beget tariffs in the fight, and the Chinese have targeted both American staples, pushing down commodity prices and sinking farm values.


While summer is the growing season for soybeans, farmers will begin harvesting in September and October, weeks before midterm elections that will surely be seen as a political referendum on the President.

"This isn't just numbers on a sheet or percentage of trade or dollar value," said Michael Petefish, a 33-year old Trump supporter and fifth generation farmer in southern Minnesota.

Standing on the farm he will likely run for the next 40 years, he added, "This is multi-generational American families, your base, that you are now squarely putting into financial peril."


Every morning he wakes up and checks two things: The weather and the price of soybeans. Over the last two weeks, as soybeans tanked, he said his farm value has lost around $250,000.


"A quarter of a million dollars in the last two weeks, somehow you have to find a way to sleep at night."

So maybe it won't be 40 years.
Petefish is one of the thousands of farmers who have seen the price of their crops tank in the face of escalating trade rhetoric between the United States and China. Growers in the area talk of their farms losing over $200,000 in value as commodity prices slump.


"I cringe," Dale Stevermer, a soybean farmer and pork producer, said when asked about President Donald Trump's tit-for-tat trade spat with China. "When a tariff even gets talked about, it makes both the buyers and the sellers jumpy. It's going to impact my bottom line, it's going to impact my business livelihood, and, to an extent, it becomes a mental outlook."
"Trade wars are easy to win."
"It's hard not to have some down days," he said, looking out on his 200 acres of soybeans.

Dale Stevermer wouldn't say who he voted for in 2016, but his wife, Lori, said she voted Republican.
Yeah, so did he.
The political irony for people like Petefish and others in southern Minnesota is that they helped propel Trump to the White House, backing the businessman-turned-politician because, in part, they felt he understood their needs better than Hillary Clinton.
And in part because they'd be damned before they'd vote for a woman.  And if they have to vote for a liberal because they don't want Trump any more (if we still get to vote in 2020, they may just sit the next one out.
Soybeans, whose prices hit a nine-year low amid trade fears with China this week, are critical to the economy of bucolic southern Minnesota and the biggest export for the entire state.


Farmers in the area are not ready to say they regret their vote for Trump but are closely watching how they will fare in the intensifying trade fight as they consider whether to break with the Republican Party in November.

"We have got about a month and a half where we can play with this thing and then after that, these prices have to be corrected, so we urge the administration to do what it has to do and do it quickly," said Tom Slunecka, the CEO of the Minnesota Soybean Association. "If we get into harvest with prices like they are, it will decimate much of farm country."


The White House, through trade policy aide Peter Navarro, has pledged to take care of farmers like the Stevermer and Petefish.

"President Trump will have the backs of all Americans who may be targeted by Chinese factions," Navarro said, adding that Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and his team "have been working on measures that will have the backs of farmers."

Navarro wouldn't reveal details to reporters.
Gee, I wonder why.
The farm bill passed by two votes and most of its most draconian provisions are DOA in the Senate, where the Democrats still have some influence. Still, it’s a look into the other half of the conservative Republican house of horrors as regards poor children who don’t look like Paul Ryan—and a helluva lot who do, most of them in rural areas that went strongly for the president*. This is Paul Ryan and his House majority leveraging millions of poor children for a tax cut, a better deal in the Senate, and to keep faith with a president* who could care less. At least those kids aren’t in cages, except metaphorical ones. They are free-range children.

  Charles P Pierce

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Make America Great Again

Torture children.

I have to say, I think this is the way an unfortunately large percentage of Americans (especially here in the middle of the country) think children in general should be dealt with not just immigrant children.  Punishments and rewards.  With an emphasis on punishment.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.