Monday, October 15, 2018

Tax Free

According to the New York Times, Jared Kushner hasn’t paid federal income taxes for years.

That may outrage normal people, but to the Trump base, the MAGA crowd, and the rich-beyond-sanity club, they see that as a feature and want to get in on it.

Of course when the deficit shoots through the stratosphere and there are cuts to programs that might affect them, such as infrastructure (states rely on getting funds from the federal government to rebuild bridges and schools), they’ll complain about red tape and waste and fraud and abuse by bureaucrats.

And of course they say everyone should pay their fair share.  Just not them.  Or anyone like them.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Monday, April 9, 2018

Voicing Concerns

From the Washington Post:

Three Republican senators expressed concern Sunday about embattled Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt amid growing scrutiny over his spending and management practices.

Sens. John Neely Kennedy (La.), Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) and Susan Collins (Maine) voiced worry about Pruitt’s conduct in interviews on morning television talk shows. Their comments came hours after President Trump defended Pruitt, writing on Twitter that he was doing “a great job.”

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) also defended the EPA head. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin declined to comment on Pruitt’s situation but said he was certain the president had reviewed it.

The sharpest Republican criticism came from Kennedy, who said Pruitt ought to hold a “full-blown press conference” to address the criticism he has received.

Scott Pruitt’s antics and corruption would make Boss Tweed proud and the harshest punishment these senators can come up with is for him to hold a press conference?  Gee, we’re edging right up to cruel and unusual.

The GOP long ago forfeited the right to hold anyone else accountable, so when they try it again — “Clinton/Lynch/tarmac!” — they can just shut up.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Money Well Spent

Via the Salt Lake Tribune, your tax dollars hard at work:

Taxpayers paid for two hotel stays that former Rep. Jon Stanard, R-St. George, allegedly used for a tryst with a prostitute.

Greg Hartley, chief of staff for the Utah House, said Friday that records show the state paid for hotel rooms at the Fairfield Inn in Salt Lake City on exact dates that a call girl told the Daily Mail of London that Stanard paid her $250 apiece for two one-hour sessions of sex.

“We do have hotel receipts,” he said. Hartley provided copies, showing that the state paid $112.60 for each of the two days hotel charge.

Stanard resigned abruptly on Tuesday, two days before the British newspaper published its allegations.

I heard he resigned abruptly in order to take a job in the White House.

“Due Process”

Well, of course Trump is all in favor of “due process” and not “rushing to judgment” and giving “the benefit of the doubt” to the fine men who worked for him but have resigned from their jobs in the White House because of allegations of domestic abuse.

Oddly enough, though, he didn’t seem too worried about those details when he was talking about Hillary Clinton and her e-mails, or the Central Park Five, or just about anybody else that he doesn’t like.

I wonder why.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Annals Of Hypocrisy Part Infinity

Tony Perkins, the Jesus-shouting busy-body head of the severely irony-challenged Family Research Council, has no problem with Trump committing adultery as long as he does his bidding for God and separate toilets.

Perkins knows about Stormy Daniels, the porn actress who claimed, in a 2011 interview, that in 2006 she had sex with Trump four months after his wife, Melania, gave birth to their son, Barron. He knows of the reports that Daniels (real name: Stephanie Clifford) was paid off to keep the affair quiet in the waning weeks of the 2016 election. He knows about the cursing, the lewdness and the litany of questionable behavior over the past year of Trump’s life or the 70 that came before it.

“We kind of gave him—‘All right, you get a mulligan. You get a do-over here,’” Perkins told me in an interview for the latest episode of POLITICO’s Off Message podcast.

Weigh a paid-off porn star against being the first president to address the March for Life live via video feed, and a lot of evangelical leaders insist they can still walk away happy.

Evangelical Christians, says Perkins, “were tired of being kicked around by Barack Obama and his leftists. And I think they are finally glad that there’s somebody on the playground that is willing to punch the bully.”

Wait; I thought Obama was a weak-willed, lily-livered pushover.  But then again, Perkins should know all about bullies; he and his mob have done enough in the name of the Sky Faerie to earn a place in Hell.

What a fucking hypocrite.

Oh, and lest we forget, Charlie Pierce reminds us that 2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the Great Penis Hunt.  So in twenty years we’ve gone from hounding a president to the edge of impeachment for getting an illicit blow job to electing one who brags about it.  Yay.

Friday, January 12, 2018

You Said It

Since no one who has been following the news for the last couple of years was surprised in the least that Trump called Haiti and El Salvador and other places with a majority of non-white citizens “shithole countries,” the fun part was watching TV or reading online and finding out which commentators or journals would actually use the word “shithole” on the air or in print.

The Washington Post, which broke the story, shocked some readers by putting the vulgar word in its headline — a rare occurrence in the paper’s 141-year history.

“When the president says it, we’ll use it verbatim. That’s our policy,” said Martin Baron, The Post’s executive editor. “We discussed it, quickly, but there was no debate.”

Such a comment made by the president, especially in front of several witnesses, is newsworthy, no matter how reprehensible it may be, said Ben Zimmer, a linguist and lexicographer who writes a language column in The Wall Street Journal.

“It was incumbent on media outlets to present what he said without extradition or euphemization,” he said.

That’s exactly what many of them did. In an unusual move, the word “shithole” was repeated in print and on air Thursday evening, in capital letters on the CNN and MSNBC headlines that appear on the lower part of the screen. Fox News censored the word with asterisks.

Lester Holt on NBC Nightly News warned viewers that the story would not be appropriate for younger viewers, while ABC World News Tonight anchor David Muir said the president used “a profanity we won’t repeat.”

But CNN’s Phil Mudd embraced the expletive in condemning the president’s language, citing his Irish and Italian ancestry and the slurs once used against immigrants from those countries.

“I’m a proud shitholer!” he told Situation Room anchor Wolf Blitzer. “In the 1940s, we called people traitors because they came from a shithole country we call Japan. And we’re ashamed.”

For those who write dictionaries, the repetition of “shithole” on television and on the Internet was “the sort of thing we call a party,” wrote Kory Stamper, a lexicographer at Merriam Webster.

You could actually see that the network news broadcasters were getting a bit of adolescent glee out of being able to say the word on the air without fear of reprisal from the FCC; it’s like they’re actually enjoying it.  (The folks on cable TV did too, but they don’t have to worry about government oversight.  They just had fun with it.)

As for the newspapers, even the New York Times, ever the Aunt Pittypat of decorum, allowed the word to be used full-tilt in the body of the story but kept it out of their headlines.  Oh my stars and garters.  (The New York Daily News didn’t use the exact word in their headline, but a picture is worth a thousand asterisks.)

It’s also fun to see how quickly he blew up all the carefully choreographed message from the White House that he was both in control and a stable genius.  The mad scramble came from people checking their betting slips on how soon he would do something to torpedo that meme: who had under 24, 48, or 72 hours?  (Meanwhile, Eric Greitens, the governor of Missouri, is sending a box of candy and a dozen roses to the White House for knocking his sex scandal into the “In Other News” abyss.)

Since it’s not a news flash that Trump is a bigot and a racist, the only thing left now is gauging the reaction to the fact that even his staunchest supporters can’t hide behind the dog whistles that he’s been hardly using since long before he emerged as a presidential candidate. He was sued for racial discrimination in housing in the 1970’s, so it’s not like we didn’t know.  Now we get to see how all the Trumpistas, especially the ones who railed about character counting during the Clinton years, explain to the rest of us that labeling entire nations as shitholes is “shocking” without alienating the base of the voters who agree wholeheartedly with him.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Obstructed View

We have yet to hear from the Justice Department on whether or not Trump can be indicted for obstruction of justice.  Remember that Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III has recused himself from the case so of course he’s not going to say anything publicly, but he’s certainly made his views known in the past about a president’s criminal liability, so we can rest assured that he will be consistent in his opinion.

Donald Trump’s personal lawyer argued Monday that, as the nominal head of federal law enforcement, the president is legally unable to obstruct justice. But the exact opposite view was once argued by another senior Trump lawyer: Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

In 1999, Sessions – then an Alabama senator – laid out an impassioned case for President Bill Clinton to be removed from office based on the argument that Clinton obstructed justice amid the investigation into his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

“The facts are disturbing and compelling on the President’s intent to obstruct justice,” he said, according to remarks in the congressional record.

Sessions isn’t alone. More than 40 current GOP members of Congress voted for the impeachment or removal of Clinton from office for obstruction of justice. They include Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – who mounted his own passionate appeal to remove Clinton from office for obstruction of justice – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, who was a House member at the time.

In all, 17 sitting senators supported the obstruction of justice charge against Clinton in 1998 and 1999.

“The chief law officer of the land, whose oath of office calls on him to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, crossed the line and failed to defend the law, and, in fact, attacked the law and the rights of a fellow citizen,” Sessions said during Clinton’s trial in the Senate, two months after he was impeached by the House. “Under our Constitution, equal justice requires that he forfeit his office.”

So if that was the case then — Clinton HAD to be impeached — the same standard should be applied to Trump, right?

Of course not.  It’s totally different.  Y’see, Trump’s a Republican.  Case closed.  Move along.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Random Thought

Conservatives and Christian zealots applauded when a county clerk in Kentucky defied the law based on her religious beliefs, and they’re about to elect a senator in Alabama who ordered judges in that state to also defy the law based on his religious beliefs. But they got their tits in an uproar about a silent protest that breaks no law and is in keeping with various religious traditions including Mennonite, Quaker, and Amish.

What am I missing here?

Monday, October 9, 2017

Annals Of Hypocrisy

Harvey Weinstein is a sexual predator and he got what he deserved by being fired by his own company.  Democrats who got money for their campaigns from him have denounced him and turned the donations over to charity.

Meanwhile the Republicans who took money from Roger Ailes and the Murdochs, sucked up to Bill O’Reilly, and still supported the pussy-grabber in the White House have been trying to play gotcha.  And because the media is obsessed with the notion that “both sides do it,” they’ll get away with their flaming hypocrisy.  Again.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Harvey vs. Sandy

Not that anyone should begrudge giving as much help as possible to the people of Texas, but it is interesting to see how much the Republicans from Texas who voted against aid for recovery from Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast in 2013 now want a blank check from the federal government for recovery from Harvey.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Annals Of Irony — Road to Rome Edition

Via CNN, we learn that Calista Gingrich, the wife of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, is on track to be named the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.

The White House hopes to announce her nomination before President Donald Trump meets with Pope Francis on May 24 in Rome.

The decision to nominate Gingrich has been made, but the announcement has taken longer than expected pending approval from the Office of Government Ethics, an administration official said.

The White House hopes to formally nominate Gingrich as soon as this week.

Gingrich is a devout Catholic, telling the Christian Broadcasting Network in a 2011 interview that she has “always been a very spiritual person.”

Was she “very spiritual” before, during, or after she was carrying on an affair with Mr. Gingrich while he was impeaching Bill Clinton and at the same time divorcing his second wife so he could hook up with her permanently?

Hey, “let he who is without sin” and all that, but I would think the Vatican would have at least some kind of standard for who other countries send as official representatives.  Then again, a hypocritical adulterer and right-wing vocalist pretty much sums up the administration that is sending her.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Keen Observation

Melissa McEwan at Shakesville on people giving former President Obama grief for taking a $400,000 speaking fee for a speech to Wall Street denizens, much as they did to Hillary Clinton.

…most of the commentators who are taking issue with these speaking fees never seemed to have a problem with them until it was a woman and a Black man collecting them.

Funny how that works.

Monday, April 17, 2017

If You Can Fake Sincerity…

Ross Douthat tells liberals is time to go back to church even if they don’t believe in God.

Do it for your political philosophy: More religion would make liberalism more intellectually coherent (the “created” in “created equal” is there for a reason), more politically effective, more rooted in its own history, less of a congerie of suspicious “allies” and more of an actual fraternity.

Do it for your friends and neighbors, town and cities: Thriving congregations have spillover effects that even anti-Trump marches can’t match.

Do it for your family: Church is good for health and happiness, it’s a better place to meet a mate than Tinder, and even its most modernized form is still an ark of memory, a link between the living and the dead.

I understand that there’s the minor problem of actual belief. But honestly, dear liberals, many of you do believe in the kind of open Gospel that a lot of mainline churches preach.

If pressed, most of you aren’t hard-core atheists: You pursue religious experiences, you have affinities for Unitarianism or Quakerism, you can even appreciate Christian orthodoxy when it’s woven into Marilynne Robinson novels or the “Letter From Birmingham Jail.”

You say you’re spiritual but not religious because you associate “religion” with hierarchies and dogmas and strict rules about sex. But the Protestant mainline has gone well out of its way to accommodate you on all these points.

[…]

Finally, a brief word to the really hardened atheists: Oh, come on. Sure, all that beauty and ecstasy and astonishing mathematical order is because we’re part of a multiverse or a simulation or something; that’s the ticket. Sure, consciousness and free will are illusions, but human rights and gender identities are totally real. Sure, your flying spaghetti monster joke makes you a lot smarter than Aquinas, Karl Barth, Martin Luther King. Sure.

Just go to church, guys. The mainline churches’ doors are open. They need you; America still needs them.

In other words, be like a lot of right-wingers and become a complete and certified hypocrite just for the sake of appearances.  This is after assuming that a lot of liberals don’t go to church or participate in a faith community because they don’t wear it on their sleeves or their trucker hats.

As for his snarky swipe at atheism, please explain to me why the Flying Spaghetti Monster story is any less plausible than the one about two naked people and the talking snake.

It sounds like Mr. Douthat is less interested in saving liberal souls than he is in keeping the mainline churches out of the hands of the hard-core evangelicals (they’re so tacky) and the politicians who know a flock of pigeons when they see them.  He might have better luck if his fellow conservatives hadn’t fed them in the first place.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Trump v. Trump

Back in 2013, President Obama had to decide whether or not to send military forces to Syria to defeat the Assad regime and prevent them from committing war crimes against their own civilians.  He could have done it unilaterally, but that would have created a huge stink and consternation in Congress, so he said, basically, “Okay, I’ll do it but only if you approve of it.”

[Crickets]

So now we have had this horrible chemical weapons attack, clearly by someone other than the opposition in Syria because they don’t have the wherewithal, and not by ISIS since it was from an airstrike and they don’t have an air force.   The world roundly condemns it, and of course the White House under Trump is turning around and doing what they do best: finding someone else to blame.

Today’s chemical attack in Syria against innocent people including women and children is reprehensible and cannot be ignored by the civilized world,” Spicer told reporters. “These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution.” Spicer also said: “President Obama said in 2012 he would establish a red line against the use of chemical weapons and then did nothing. The United States stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this intolerable act.” (Later in the day, the White House issued a statement echoing Spicer’s remarks.)

You know who also counseled President Obama to do nothing?  Take a wild guess.

Whether or not Obama’s policy in 2013 was successful, this much is clear: at that point, Trump had an unambiguous position regarding Syria— do nothing. Throughout this episode, Trump tweeted up a storm about Syria. Repeatedly, he declared—occasionally in all-caps!—that Obama should not be messing around in Syria. He said there was no reason to attack Syria or take any action there. Let the Arab League deal with the problem. He was asserting that Obama should not respond to the chemical attacks—a policy certainly in sync with Assad (and his Russian patrons). Stay out of this, Trump demanded, and focus on domestic issues.

It’s as if they don’t even care that anyone would check the record and call them out on it.

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Party Of No

And about time, too.

Senate hearings on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch ended Thursday on a confrontational note, with the body’s top Democrat vowing a filibuster that could complicate Gorsuch’s expected confirmation and ultimately upend the traditional approach to approving justices.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he will vote no on President Trump’s nominee and asked other Democrats to join him in blocking an up-or-down vote on Gorsuch.

[…]

In a speech on the Senate floor, Schumer said: “If this nominee cannot earn 60 votes — a bar met by each of President Obama’s nominees and George Bush’s last two nominees — the answer isn’t to change the rules. It’s to change the nominee.”

I think Merrick Garland is available.

Rest assured that the Republicans, including Mitch McConnell, will storm around and run to the microphones to call Mr. Schumer an “obstructionist” and we’ll hear the minions on Fox News carry on about how it’s the Democrats who want to keep anything from getting done in Washington which is why Trump won the election by an overwhelming majority.  And then they’ll smile and burst into flames from the irony overload accelerated by the gallons of rank hypocrisy doused on them by Karma.

It is way past the time for the Democrats to utilize the tactics that are available to every minority party on Capitol Hill that are either written or unwritten in order to put a check on the roughshod running by the majority.  When the Republicans were in the minority they did it very well, most recently when they declared even before the litter had been picked up from the first inauguration of Barack Obama that nothing he did would get past them without a fight because he was… well, there had to be something that was coloring their judgment.  Even if they agreed with the principle of the policy, they were not going to allow it to become law.

For the Democrats, the difference is that not only is it sauce for the gander time, they actually will look at what is being proposed by Trump and consider it on its merits, not just because he sent it up.  They will stop it because it is bad policy, harmful to a lot of people, benefits just a few, or poses a threat to what we commonly call “democracy.”

So go on, Democrats, and become the party of No, the obstructionists, and the naysayers.  And if the Republicans complain, tell them you had a good teacher.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Teed Off

There are a lot more important things to be upset about than how Trump spends his leisure time, but since he made such a big deal about how much time President Obama spent playing golf, let’s take a look at what he’s doing on his time off.

Before Donald Trump became president, he sent several dozen tweets criticizing then-President Barack Obama for playing golf. “I just want to stay in [the] White House [and] work my ass off,” he told reporters in February 2016. That November, Trump acknowledged that he would play golf as president, but said he would “always play with leaders of countries and people who can help us.”

Since becoming president, Trump has played a lot of golf. Specifically, he has made six trips to the golf course in 30 days. This has caused some people to suggest Trump might be a hypocrite. The White House, which seems sensitive to those allegations, has responded by keeping the press and the public in the dark about Trump’s golfing ― sometimes literally, like on Feb. 11, when administration officials made an AP reporter wait in a room with black plastic over the windows while the president played golf.

Trump’s golfing this weekend was similarly secret. Late Sunday afternoon, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a top White House press aide, told reporters Trump had played “a couple of holes” Saturday and Sunday.

It was more than a couple, and it wasn’t all with world leaders: Trump played 18 holes on Sunday with pro golfer Rory McIlroy, who’s ranked third in the world; sports agent Nick Mullen; and Richard Levine, a Trump friend, donor and frequent golf partner, McIlroy told golf blog No Laying Up.

So why should anyone get worked up about what Trump does on the weekends?  Well, for one thing, he made a yuge deal about President Obama’s love of the links and now he’s just fine — if not a bit touchy — with it.  Which shows that old golf adage to be true: if someone will lie about their golf game, they’ll lie about anything.

Monday, January 9, 2017

That Was Then…

Would it surprise you that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who demanded in 2009 that President Obama’s cabinet appointees be thoroughly and completely vetted by the Office of Government Ethics before being confirmed, now claims that the same intense scrutiny is too much of a burden for the cabinet appointees of Trump?

Why no, not at all.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Steel Yourself

Add this one to the growing list of examples of steaming hypocrisy from Donald “We’re Gonna Buy American!” Trump.

Plenty of blue-collar workers believe that, as president, Donald Trump would be ready to fight off U.S. trade adversaries and reinvigorate the country’s manufacturing industries through his commitment to the Rust Belt. What they likely don’t know is that Trump has been stiffing American steel workers on his own construction projects for years, choosing to deprive untold millions of dollars from four key electoral swing states and instead directing it to China—the country whose trade practices have helped decimate the once-powerful industrial center of the United States.

Newsweek investigation has found that in at least two of Trump’s last three construction projects, Trump opted to purchase his steel and aluminum from Chinese manufacturers rather than United States corporations based in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. In other instances, he abandoned steel altogether, instead choosing the far-less-expensive option of buying concrete from various companies, including some linked to the Luchese and Genovese crime families. Trump has never been accused of engaging in any wrongdoing for his business dealings with those companies, but it’s true that the Mafia has long controlled much of the concrete industry in New York.

Hey, Chinese steel mills and wise guys need to make a living, right?

In other news from the front, the Trump Foundation has been barred from fundraising in New York because it hasn’t done its homework.