Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Fount of "Russian" Fake News

from the Washington Times
What caused the Barack Obama administration to begin investigating the Donald Trump campaign last summer has come into clearer focus following a string of congressional hearings on Russian interference in the presidential election.
It was then-CIA Director John O. Brennan, a close confidant of Mr. Obama’s, who provided the information — what he termed the “basis” — for the FBI to start the counterintelligence investigation last summer. Mr. Brennan served on the former president’s 2008 presidential campaign and in his White House.
Mr. Brennan told the House Intelligence Committee on May 23 that the intelligence community was picking up tidbits on Trump associates making contacts with Russians. Mr. Brennan did not name either the Russians or the Trump people. He indicated he did not know what was said.

But he said he believed the contacts were numerous enough to alert the FBI, which began its probe into Trump associates that same July, according to previous congressional testimony from then-FBI director James B. Comey.
The FBI probe of contacts came the same month the intelligence community fingered Russian agents as orchestrating hacks into Democratic Party computers and providing stolen emails to WikiLeaks.
Mr. Brennan, who has not hidden his dislike for Mr. Trump, testified he briefed the investigation’s progress to Mr. Obama, who at the time was trying to aid Hillary Clinton in her campaign against the Republican nominee.

As Mr. Brennan described his actions to the House committee: “I wanted to make sure that every information and bit of intelligence that we had was shared with the bureau [FBI] so that they could take it.
It was well beyond my mandate as director of CIA to follow on any of those leads that involved U.S. persons. But I made sure that anything that was involving U.S. persons, including anything involving the individuals involved in the Trump campaign, was shared with the bureau.

“I was aware of intelligence and information about contacts between Russian officials and U.S. persons that raised concerns in my mind about whether or not those individuals were cooperating with the Russians, either in a witting or unwitting fashion, and it served as the basis for the FBI investigation to determine whether such collusion [or] cooperation occurred,”
Mr. Brennan added.

Eleven months later, there is no official public confirmation that Trump people colluded with the Russians on hacking.

When Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, the Republican point man in questioning Mr. Brennan, asked what the Russians and Trump people were talking about, the former top spy said he did not know.

“I saw interaction and [was] aware of interaction that, again, raised questions in my mind about what was the true nature of it. But I don’t know. I don’t have sufficient information to make a determination whether or not such cooperation or complicity or collusion was taking place. But I know that there was a basis to have individuals pull those threads,”
Mr. Brennan said.

It is known that some Trump people had contact with Russians during the campaign, when the hacking occurred, and some during the transition.

Jared Kushner, a White House aide and Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, is known to have communicated with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition, as did retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.
The State Department sponsored a trip by diplomats to the Republican National Convention in July. Mr. Kislyak was among those who attended.

One Trump person known to have public Russian contacts in July was Carter Page. Mr. Page signed on as a low-level volunteer who made TV appearances on Mr. Trump’s behalf and offered advice on foreign policy.

Mr. Page, who has done business with Russians for years and lived in Moscow in the 2000s as a Merrill Lynch investment banker, returned last summer to give two talks that were covered by the news media.
Mr. Page has told The Washington Times he played no role in any Russian conspiracy to hack or otherwise interfere in the election.

He believes the Trump campaign severed ties with him because of sensational charges in an unverified anti-Trump dossier that surfaced in a smattering of news stories before Nov. 8.

The dossier was one of the forces influencing the FBI that summer. Some press reports said it was the reason the bureau began investigating Trump associates and acquired a warrant to wiretap Mr. Page as a possible foreign agent.
But Mr. Brennan’s May 23 testimony shows that it was his actions that drove the FBI probe.

The dossier was financed by a Clinton backer and written by British ex-spy Christopher Steele. He was hired by Democratic-tied Fusion GPS in Washington.

Mr. Steele’s 35 pages of memos were first circulated in late June. In mid-July Fusion passed around another memo that made the most sensational charges. “Further Indications of Extensive Conspiracy Between Trump’s Campaign and the Kremlin” was the headline.

Mr. Steele said that Mr. Carter and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort formed a team to work with the Russians to hack the Democrats.
Mr. Page calls the charge preposterous. He told The Times he has never met Mr. Manafort.

Also denying the charges was Mr. Manafort, whom the Trump organization fired after reports he received questionable payments from a pro-Russian Ukrainian politician. Mr. Manafort said he did not knowingly talk to any Russians.
After Mr. Brennan’s May 23 appearance, Mr. Page sent a letter to the House committee.

“His testimony followed closely in line with the highly defamatory and baseless accusations offered during their regime’s final year in office as well as the months since,”
Mr. Page wrote to Rep. K. Michael Conaway, the Texas Republican who is leading the panel’s investigation, and Rep. Adam B. Schiff of California, the committee’s top Democrat.

“Throughout my interactions with the Russians in 2016, I consistently made it crystal clear that all of my benign statements and harmless actions in Moscow as well as elsewhere overseas were solely made as a scholar and a business person speaking only on behalf of myself. In other words, in no way connected to then-candidate Trump,” Mr. Page wrote.
The Steele dossier said he met with two Kremlin-connected Russians in Moscow that July. Mr. Page said he has never met the two men.
Mr. Brennan has been a harsh critic of Mr. Trump, especially since the election. He took umbrage at Mr. Trump blaming the intelligence community for leaks and his likening it to how the Nazis did business. Mr. Brennan said Mr. Trump does not understand the threat posed by Russia.
While Mr. Brennan was at the White House, the Obama administration launched a six-year “reset” approach to Moscow, with then-Secretary of State Clinton standing next to Russian President Vladimir Putin and urging Americans to do business with Russia.

Relations soured after Mr. Putin’s forces invaded Ukraine.

To this day, nearly a year after Mr. Brennan alerted the FBI, there has been no public official confirmation that Trump people coordinated with the Russians on hacking. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat and Senate Intelligence Committee member, said earlier this month she has seen no evidence of collusion.
The Senate and House Intelligence committees are both investigating that charge.

Last week, the Senate panel asked the Trump presidential campaign for all records related to Russia.

Monday, May 22, 2017

DNC Convention Host Committee Gets a $1 Million Kick-back

from Philly.com
David L. Cohen has parted company with his old boss Ed Rendell on the issue of nearly $1 million in bonuses the former governor and mayor approved for staff of the host committee for the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

Cohen, now senior executive vice president at Comcast Corp., but once Rendell's chief of staff when mayor, said he was never told of the bonus plan while serving as a host committee special adviser.

“Nobody ever ran the idea of giving any bonuses to anyone in connection with the host committee of the convention,” Cohen said Thursday evening. “Had they done so, I would’ve done everything in my power to kill the concept.”

Cohen, who was instrumental in the host committee’s fund-raising efforts, said he learned of the bonuses last week, when the Inquirer and Daily News reported that in November, the committee used part of its surplus to give out more than $900,000 in bonus checks. The highest bonus, $310,000, went to the committee’s executive director, Kevin Washo, followed by $220,000 for the chief financial officer, Jason O’Malley, with the rest receiving between $13,000 and $58,000 each.

“There were never any bonuses included in any budget for the host committee that I ever saw,” Cohen said.

Rendell, who served as the host committee’s chairman, said Cohen was kept "at arm's length" on purpose because of his position at Comcast, which was the largest vendor working with the host committee.

"Obviously he couldn't be involved in spending decisions, because it would've been a conflict," Rendell said Friday. Comcast donated $5.1 million in in-kind services, which included personnel, telecommunications, hospitality and events, and $500,000 cash, the host committee reported in September.

Rendell said Cohen "wasn't privy to conversations" he had with host committee staff when they were hired. He said they were told there would be bonuses if there was money left in the end. The staff’s monthly salaries ranged from $3,000 for the office manager to $13,000 for Washo. Some, including Washo, continued to be paid months after the convention and months after starting other full-time jobs.

The host committee was charged with fund-raising and organizing the events surrounding the convention, held from July 25 to 28. It wasn't until September, when the committee filed its financial reports with the Federal Election Commission, that it reported exceeding its fund-raising goal.

The committee used its surplus to pay the city more than $500,000 for municipal services incurred during the convention, distribute $1.2 million in grants to local nonprofits, and provide the nearly $1 million in bonuses.

Washo, who also served as the committee's treasurer, previously said that the decision to hand out bonuses to the staff was made by himself, chief operating officer Eliza Rose, and Rendell.

Washo and Rendell have defended the bonuses by saying the staff worked very hard for what Rendell has described as “low pay.”

Cohen disagreed with the notion that the staff was not paid well.

“I would’ve had serious concerns over bonuses, particularly bonuses of that size, and particularly of well-compensated employees of a nonprofit organization,” Cohen said.

Cohen questioned the “propriety” of such bonuses when “100 percent of the funding was being provided by donors and by the state.”

Gov. Wolf, a Democrat, and state Republicans have criticized the bonuses and called for an audit of the $10 million grant the state gave the host committee. The state’s grant was the largest single donation received. On Thursday, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said he would audit the $10 million state grant.

Cohen said he has been fielding calls from donors complaining about the bonuses, but he declined to identify them other than to describe them as “many people who are asking how or why this was done.”

Rendell said he had received no complaints from donors. He added that if donors were upset, he would be the one to get the calls.

"I raised the lion's share of the money," Rendell said.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Baltimore's FAILED Schools...

from Fox45 News
BALTIMORE (WBFF) -- A Project Baltimore investigation has found five Baltimore City high schools and one middle school do not have a single student proficient in the state tested subjects of math and English.

We sat down with a teen who attends one of those schools and has overcome incredible challenges to find success.

Navon Warren grew up in West Baltimore. He was three months old when his father was shot to death. Before his 18th birthday, he would lose two uncles and a classmate, all gunned down on the streets of Baltimore.

“I’ve lost a lot of people, so I’m used to it. It hurts,” Warren said. “I just chose not to show it. I just keep it in. You just have to live on and keep going on every day. You have to do it somehow.”

Despite his tremendous loss, Warren is set to graduate this year from Frederick Douglass High School. It’s a school where only half the students graduate and just a few dozen will go to college. Last year, not one student scored proficient in any state testing.

“That’s absurd to me. That’s absurd to me,” says Warren’s mother Janel Nelson. “That’s your teachers report card, ultimately.”

Project Baltimore found Frederick Douglass is not alone. Four other city high schools and one middle school also have zero students proficient.

The schools are:
Booker T. Washington Middle School
Frederick Douglass High School
Achievement Academy at Harbor City
New Era Academy
Excel Academy at Francis M. Wood High
New Hope Academy
High school students are tested by the state in math and English. Their scores place them in one of five categories – a four or five is considered proficient and one through three are not. At Frederick Douglass, 185 students took the state math test last year and 89 percent fell into the lowest level. Just one student approached expectations and scored a three.

Despite the challenges at his school, Warren found a path to higher education. He’s the reigning Baltimore City 50 and 100 freestyle champion who competed at the junior Olympics, finishing in fourth place. In the fall, he will leave the streets of Baltimore and head to Bethany College in West Virginia, where he will swim.

“It’s exciting for him to get out of the city and exciting for him to start a new chapter in his life,” says Nelson.

Warren told FOX45, he believes zero students are proficient at Frederick Douglass, because the state tests are more advanced than what the students are learning in class.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Democratic Whine of the Week

from CNN
Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump is living every child's dream: More ice cream.

For example: Trump takes two scoops of ice cream with his chocolate cream pie, TIME reported, while everyone else around the table gets just one.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Coup d'etat in Aberdeen?

From the Dagger and Aberdeen Mayor Patrick L. McGrady:
When we elect a president (like him or not) we don’t try and change the rules to take away his authority granted by the voters, and that is exactly what has been done in Aberdeen.

The Citizens of Aberdeen voted for a Mayor and for a Council in November of 2015, and the City Council voted Monday night to change the results of the election because they think they know better than the voters how the Mayor and Council should interact.

The Charter of the City of Aberdeen is the document that establishes our government– it is our Constitution. It is a radical and unacceptable action to fundamentally change the form of government between elections.

This action is a violation of the fundamentally American principle that voters get to make decisions about their government.

Changes to the structure of government should never be rammed through without the public approving of the changes, and that is what Councilwoman Landbeck, Councilman Lindecamp, and Councilman Taylor have voted to do.

Specifically, these changes will take away the powers of the duly-elected Mayor over the budget, over oversight of the City government, of reporting to the public via the State of the City address, and removes the authority to make appointments for all public commissions of the City.

In order to include the voters in this process, I attempted to make these changes effective after the next Mayor is elected so that the people have a say in these changes. However, Councilwoman Landbeck, Councilman Lindecamp, and Councilman Taylor all voted against this change.

I have had multiple calls from community members to petition this issue to referendum, and I’m evaluating what would need to happen for that to be successful.

Patrick L. McGrady
for more info on the changes made to the City Charter, go here

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Opioids (Fentanyl)? ... or Heroin? ...or BOTH!

from Wikipedia
Fentanyl (also known as fentanil) is a potent, synthetic opioid pain medication with a rapid onset and short duration of action. It is a potent agonist at μ-opioid receptors in the brain. Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, but some fentanyl analogues, which are designed to mimic the pharmacological effects of the original drug, may be as much as 10,000 times more potent than morphine.

Fentanyl was first made by Paul Janssen in 1960, following the medical inception of pethidine (also known as meperidine, marketed as Demerol) several years earlier. Janssen developed fentanyl by assaying analogues of the structurally related drug pethidine for opioid activity. The widespread use of fentanyl triggered the production of fentanyl citrate (the salt formed by combining fentanyl and citric acid in a 1:1 stoichiometric ratio), which entered medical use as a general anaesthetic under the trade name Sublimaze in the 1960s. Following this, many other fentanyl analogues were developed and introduced into medical practice, including sufentanil, alfentanil, remifentanil, and lofentanil.

In the mid-1990s, fentanyl was introduced for palliative use with the fentanyl patch, followed in the next decade by the introduction of the fentanyl lollipop, dissolving tablets, and sublingual spray which are absorbed through the tissues inside the mouth. As of 2012, fentanyl was the most widely used synthetic opioid in medicine. In 2013, 1700 kilograms were used globally.

Fentanyl is also used as a recreational drug, leading to thousands of overdose deaths from 2000 to 2017. Deaths have also resulted from improper medical use. Fentanyl has a relatively wide therapeutic index which makes it a very safe surgical anesthetic when monitored carefully; however, its extreme potency requires careful measurements of highly diluted fentanyl in solution.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Is Maryland Now a Sanctuary State?

from the Baltimore Sun
Maryland's top lawyer is advising local jails that they should not honor requests from federal officials to hold people suspected of immigration violations for up to 48 hours past their release date.

The guidance from Attorney General Brian Frosh says local jails should only hold such people longer when immigration officials present a warrant signed by a judge. Otherwise, he cautioned, the jails could be sued for unlawful detention under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.

Frosh, a Democrat, said he offered the advice because of confusion amid President Donald Trump's pronouncements to crack down on immigration violators and some lawmakers' efforts to pass legislation in Maryland to regulate local involvement in immigration enforcement.

"There is a great deal of fear and anxiety and certainly a lot of uncertainty about what the law is. ... We thought it was important for us to re-emphasize what the law is," Frosh said.

The document is not an order; instead, it provides advice for local officials to consider when making decisions about their jail and policing policies.

The local immigrant-rights group CASA applauded Frosh.

"We think it's very helpful and necessary," said Nick Katz, CASA's senior manager of legal services. "We appreciate that he issued this. We hope that law enforcement agencies read it and comply with the recommendations that he makes."

Lt. Dan Lasher is director of operations for the Allegany County Detention Center and president of the Maryland Correctional Administrators Association. He said most local jails do not honor detainer requests from federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

Lasher said correctional officers don't want to "let someone go who is of the criminal element. But without a warrant, there's just no basis to do it."

Baltimore's jail, which is run by the state, does not honor ICE detainer requests without a judicial warrant, so Frosh's guidance won't affect the jail's policies, said state corrections spokesman Gerard Shields.

For the first time, Frosh's advice addresses partnerships in which local law enforcement officials are trained by the federal government and become deputized to carry out certain federal immigration duties.

Known as 287(g) programs, for the portion of federal law that authorizes them, they've come under fire from advocates for immigrants and civil liberties.

Frosh's guidance notes that it's permissible for counties to join 287(g) programs, but cautions that the federal government doesn't necessarily pay for them. And the programs have the potential to open the door to illegal racial profiling, Frosh wrote.

Frederick and Harford counties have 287(g) programs in their jails to screen people for possible immigration violations. Anne Arundel County has applied to join, and a bill pending before the Baltimore County Council would require that county to join as well. Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz has pledged to veto the bill if it passes.

"The three Republican members of the County Council are trying to frankly grandstand the issue in defiance, now, of the attorney general's opinion," said Kamenetz, a Democrat. "I think that they should withdraw their bill."

Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins said all people booked in his jail are given the same paperwork asking about their country of birth and citizenship status. Frosh said that's fine, but if the 287(g) program expands into one involving patrol officers — a change the Trump administration has expressed interest in — there is a "greater danger" of improper racial profiling.

Jenkins, a Republican, maintains that the jail screening is a helpful tool for public safety, and says he's gotten a surge of public interest in the program.

In Harford County, 34 people in the county jail have been identified for possible immigration violations since the staff began working with ICE in November, said Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler, a Republican.

Gahler said he doesn't think the new guidance will affect his jail's operations and questioned whether it was really necessary.

"It certainly has an air of partisan persuasion to it," Gahler said. "It seems to be one-sided on the 'anti' front."

Monday, May 8, 2017

France Still Fantasizes About a Globalism that Works

from RT
Following Macron’s win, famous Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek lashed out at the French president-elect, saying he “stands for the worst of Europe” and “is the candidate of fear of Le Pen,” He also noted that neither candidate had a “positive vision.”

The outspoken philosopher and cultural critic said, while he was not happy with either of the French run-off candidates’ visions, those who voted against Macron were the “only true hope” for France, as they represent the people “who didn’t succumb to this liberal blackmail [of] ‘Now things are serious. Let’s all unite behind Macron.’”

“They said: ‘No. Sorry. Whatever that is, we’re not ready to play this game – the fascist threat and the politics, which feeds this fascist threat,’” Zizek said.

In Zizek’s view, this so-called “blackmail” included a recent La Liberation cover, which featured the headline, “Do whatever you want, but vote Macron.”

“Isn’t this the very essence of what worldwide is becoming today? You have all the freedom you want if you make the right choice. This is the very formula of why our democracy is becoming more and more meaningless,” he said, adding that it appears to be the media that is making choices for the people.

However, Zizek’s biggest issue with both candidates was that neither had a “positive vision” of the state of affairs in France, and both eventually became candidates of “fear.”

“Marine Le Pen was, obviously, the candidate of fear – fear about immigrants, foreign threat, financial capitalism and so on. But Macron was also a candidate of fear – fear of Le Pen. Macron won not because of what he is, but because he was anti-Le Pen,” Zizek said.

The problem is bigger than that, the philosopher added, concluding that the “European political elite is no longer able to rule properly,” and changes are urgently needed.

“I already quoted Didier Eribon [French author and philosopher], who said : ‘A vote for Macron today, is a vote for Marine Le Pen four years in the future.’ We’re just caught in this vicious circle. Macron means business as usual. But it’s precisely this business as usual that will give new strength to Marine Le Pen. It takes time. She can wait. One election, two elections, three. In the end, she may win,” he said.

Friday, May 5, 2017

America's Corporate Tax Problem Illustrated

from the Las Vegas Review Journal
Those who doubt the necessity of reforming America’s corporate tax laws should consider cash-fat Apple Inc.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the company is sitting on $250 billion — that’s a quarter trillion — in cash reserves, almost all of it parked abroad. The amount is “greater than the market value of either Walmart Stores Inc. or Proctor &Gamble Co. and exceeds the foreign currency reserves held by the U.K. and Canada combined,” the paper noted.

The company’s windfall has doubled in less than five years. By the end of 2016, it was accumulating cash at a rate of $3.6 million an hour, the Journal reported

Why is Apple essentially stuffing greenbacks in a mattress? Because it would pay a huge tax penalty if it brought the money home.

As Steven Pearlstein of the Washington Post noted in March, “The current tax regime encourages companies to move operations, assets and even corporate citizenship overseas, while raising less and less money every year as companies come up with ever more ingenious and ethically questionable ways to avoid it.”

The combined U.S. federal and state corporate tax rate is 39 percent, among the highest in the world. And while it’s true that many companies pay a lower effective rate, American multinationals still have higher tax burdens than their counterparts in many other jurisdictions.

In addition, the federal government taxes American corporations on income earned overseas if they bring it back to the United States. That’s why many companies, such as Apple, prefer to lock up their cash in foreign instruments rather than invest it in domestic endeavors.

“There is a growing political consensus that the time has come for change in the tax rules to encourage repatriation of the vast troves of corporate earnings held outside the country,” wrote Jeff Sommer of The New York Times last year.

Donald Trump’s tax proposal calls for lowering the corporate rate to 15 percent and perhaps creating a one-time tax holiday to encourage companies such as Apple to bring their profits home. This makes sense. Critics of such a plan argue these corporations are less likely to create jobs or new businesses with the money than they are to reward investors. But so what? Either way, the money is working in the United States rather than sitting idly in some foreign investment vehicle.

Apple is not alone. Microsoft, General Electric, Pfizer and others all prefer to leave large chunks of earnings stranded overseas. While this makes good sense from a corporate standpoint, it simply nuts for Washington politicians to impose tax policies that encourage this behavior.
I'd not only encourage it, I'd raise the corporate tax rate for ALL corporations, foreign and domestic, to 95% so as to encourage small individual-owned business formation. I'd make it so that you'd have to be crazy to incorporate a company in America, or to be a foreign corporation trying to sell it's products in America.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Once Again, the Republicans Are the Biggest Spenders of All

from the Daily Beast
Having won the presidency, the House, and the Senate, the GOP’s first major legislative accomplishment is to… increase spending.

This “accomplishment” is both sad and predictable.

Let’s take the new 2017 bipartisan omnibus spending bill. To avert a looming governmental shutdown, Trump didn’t get his wall funded—and he didn’t get Planned Parenthood defunded. And after all the handwringing in the wake of his proposed budget, which would have taken the knife to most domestic agencies, Trump only trimmed the Environmental Protection Agency by a mere 1 percent.

Freedom Caucus Member Justin Amash called it “another deal to grow government. Instead of compromising to cut spending, each side agrees to let the other side spend more.”

And James Hohmann observed in The Washington Post that “Democrats are surprised by just how many concessions they extracted in the trillion-dollar deal, considering that Republicans have unified control of government.”

It seems that once Republicans gain high office, worries about “generational theft” segue to the “deficits don’t matter” philosophy—when deficit hawks morph into deficit doves.

In 2010, Rep. Paul Ryan speculated that America was about to turn into Greece. And in the 2012 vice presidential debate, Ryan declared, “We’ve got to tackle this debt crisis before it tackles us." The irony, of course, is that he has ascended to the speakership, but his own president is pushing policies that seem likely to substantially increase the debt.

This is a long-standing trend. We might forgive Ronald Reagan for increasing spending (he was busy trying to defeat the Soviet Union, and Democrats in Congress had the power of the purse), but what’s the excuse for George W. Bush—and now Donald J. Trump?

It’s not just the spending bill, either. Some are estimating that Trump’s tax reform outline could increase the debt by trillions of dollars over a decade. Don’t get me wrong. Tax cuts could help grow the economy, create jobs, and broaden the tax revenue base. But the assumption that these tax cuts will pay for themselves is dubious. (Note: Trump is now saying that he would consider a gasoline tax hike to pay for infrastructure.)

In fairness to Ryan, the primary reason for this is that Trump won’t embrace what might be Ryan’s signature issue: entitlement reform. A well-rounded conservative agenda might pair tax reform with sensible entitlement reform (which, aside from national defense, is where the real money is), but Trump has eschewed the latter.

What remains is the bigger story of how, when Democrats are in office, Republicans worry about deficits and the debt, but how they magically forget about all that once they take power. This strikes me as an inexorable structural problem. Almost all of the incentives lead to more spending.

“Name me one politician who tried to cut spending and has been rewarded for it,” said former Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston. “Sure there are many Members of the House and Senate who have consistently voted ‘no’ and been considered heroes, but they haven't delivered a spending cut.”

While there are powerful conservative organizations that promote cutting taxes and general fiscal responsibility, no major lobbyists or interest groups dole out support solely to cut spending. Meanwhile, in our action-oriented culture, politicians gain support by putting points on the board—not for taking them off. There are incentives for creating a new program or passing a new bill, not for rolling back spending.

And if the media and the public clamor for the passage of legislation, then how might a Republican president corral enough Democratic votes to make that happen? You guessed it: by increasing spending. Amid criticism from the right over his spending bill, Donald Trump tweeted: “The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate which are not there!”

The only way for a Republican president to implement the rest of his agenda—to pass otherwise good policies and to keep the government functioning—is to trade them for pork-barrel appropriations and pet projects.

This structural problem predates Donald Trump, but the “King of Debt” might be even more inclined (than your average Republican) to increase spending if it means extra points on his scoreboard. But the short-term benefits of kicking the can down the road will mean long-term insolvency.

When Democrats were last in charge, they enacted an extremely politically risky health care regime knowing it could cost them control of Congress—or even the presidency. They did this because they believed expanding health coverage was a moral imperative. Republicans have repeatedly said slashing our debt is a moral imperative. When will they act like it?
They say that, "elections have consequences". That's probably true everywhere BUT the USA. WTF, Donald?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Monday, May 1, 2017

Choose France!

from Express
Recent moves by Ms Le Pen to appeal to a wider audience seem to be working as she has removed herself as the leader of the Front National party, and rebranded her campaign with the new motto “Choose France”.

Pollster Harris Interactive, who correctly predicted the result of the first round, revealed a six points slip by Mr Macron since last Sunday.

Ms Le Pen said: “The country Mr Macron wants is no longer France; it's a space, a wasteland, a trading room where there are only consumers and producers.”

The latest polls were conducted prior to the announcement that defeated first round presidential candidate Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, would be Ms Le Pen’s prime minister if she wins the presidency.

Mr Dupont-Aignan’s policies are seen as less extreme than her own, despite being eurosceptic and a longstanding critic of the eurozone.

The French media reported it represented an important move to grab moderate voters and could prove a decisive decision during the election on May 7.

Mr Dupont-Aignan and Ms Le Pen, in a joint statement on Saturday, said that “the transition from the single currency to the European common currency is not a prerequisite for any economic policy”.

The presidential candidate denied that her position on the euro has changed. The former Front National leader said: “I have been calling for the transformation of the single currency to the common currency for quite a long time, so there is no contradiction in that.”

The Harris Interactive poll places Mr Macron on 61 per cent and Ms Le Pen on 33 per cent.

Robert Ménard, the mayor of the town of Béziers in the south of France who was elected with Front National support, said: “It's very good news. It proves that she has finally understood.

“To win an election it's necessary to assemble and gather first in your own camp. For the Front National, that’s the right.”

Political Science Professor Douglas Webber said: “It would be almost impossible for the EU to survive if Marine Le Pen should win the up-coming French Presidential elections, and subsequently win a referendum to withdraw France from it.”

Kawanio che Keeteru!

"Far as the sun extends its genial ray,
Each nation boasts her consecrated day;
Some visionary saint, some monarch's birth,
Gilds the blest morn, and wakes to annual mirth:
The stately Spaniard yields his pride of names,
Once in each year, to smile upon St. James.
Saint Dennis gives the word! behold all France
Lost in the ecstasy of song and dance.
Flush'd with the grape, Saint Patrick's sons appear,
And with his birthday lasted all the year;
‘Oh he's a jewel of a saint—no rigid numper—
But dead himself gives life to ev'ry bumper!'
'Hoot, hoot, man quoth the Scot 'a' these are bairns o' dross,
Nae worth a bawbie, compar'd wi' Andrew on his cross,'
Nor is the festal day to realms confin'd
By science honor'd and by arts refin'd;
The Savage tribes their jubilee proclaim,
And crown Saint Tammany with lasting fame.
E'en the poor Negro will awhile resign
His furrows, to adorn Saint Quaco's shrine;
For one bright hour of joy forego complaint,
And praise his tyrant, while he nails his saint.

But while the dupes of legendary strains
Amuse their fancy, or forget their pains,
While mimic Saints a transient joy impart,
That strikes the sense but reaches not the heart,
Arise, Columbia!—nobler themes await
Th' auspicious day, that sealed thy glorious fate:
A nation rescu'd from oppression's soil,
And freedom planted in a purer soil;
By worth enobled, and by valor grac'd
(The ball of empire rolling to the west),
Lo! a new order in the world arise
And thy fair fame spread boundless as the sky;
Yet as the tale of triumph we renew,
To patriot virtue yield the tribute due;
With fond remembrance, each revolving year,
To martyr'd heroes shed the grateful tear;
And with the fragrant wreath of laureate bloom
Adorn the warrior's ever honor'd tomb!

‘Midst these sad rights the moral let us trace,
That points the soldier's fire, the statesman's grace;
From Warren and Montgomery catch the flame,
And follow Lawrence in the track of fame.
Is there a child who urg'd the arduous strife
For liberty (thou dearer boon than life!)
Is there a heart to troth and virtue form'd,
By pity soften'd and by passion warm'd,
That seeks not here a monument to raise,
To speak at once, their country's grief and praise?
Recording history their deeds shall tell;
On the rich theme the muse enraptur'd dwell
To future worlds examples shall supply,
And with the glist'ning tear fill beauty's eye.
Thus when revolving time shall sanctify the name,
And Washington great favorite of fame!
By some enraptur'd bard recall'd to view,
In sons unborn your feelings shall renew;
See! as the story of his life is told,
His courage charm the young his worth the old;
His martial feats the Veteran admires;
The patriot bosom glows as he retires;
While all mankind in admiration lost,
Strive who can follow or applaud him most!
Go, Sons of liberty! assert your fame!
And emulate the Greek and Roman name;
The prize of arms by virtue be maintain'd
And wisdom cultivate what toil has gain'd;
Thus shall the sacred Fane of Union stand,
And this day's Independence bless the land!"