Trump probably still thinks 'Birth of a Nation' was robbed.
It's easy with all the corruption and shredding of institutional norms to forget that Donald Trump is also a sickening racist. During his rally Thursday night in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the president of the United States went on an Archie Bunker-style rant about the Oscar-winning film Parasite.
TRUMP: How bad were the Academy Awards this year? Did you see it?
The MAGA crowd booed the very mention of the Oscars, because we've always been at war with Hollywood.
TRUMP: And the winner is a movie from South Korea. What the hell was that all about? We've got enough problems with South Korea, with trade. And after all that they give them best movie of the year?
The South Korean government didn't win any Academy awards. The work of an individual South Korean filmmaker, Bong Joon-ho, was honored.
TRUMP: Was ["Parasite"] good? I don't know.
He hasn't actually seen the film, but he's going to "pre-judge" its value based solely on its national origin. This is such an obvious example of know-nothing bigotry, it could appear in a children's pop-up book.
Also under consideration: Health insurance to cover monkeys flying out your butt.
The Washington Post ran a fun piece of speculative nonfiction Wednesday about economic advisers suggesting to Donald Trump that an election-year tax cut plan might also include a minimum corporate tax, according to "two people briefed on the planning" for what's informally being called "Tax Cut 2.0." The idea, says the story, is to "address criticism that the 2017 tax law allowed many of the country's largest firms to virtually eliminate their federal tax burden," and maybe to raise some revenue to offset those beautiful "middle-class tax cuts" that Trump has been talking about since the 2018 midterm elections.
Mind you, the sources caution, the tax package discussions are still in the early stages and the minimum corporate tax "has not been officially endorsed" or maybe even spoken of aloud in Trump's presence. Those in favor of the idea say it might help to blunt Democrats' criticisms that the benefits of 2017's Big Fat Tax Cuts For Rich Fuckwads went almost entirely to rich fuckwads, such as the 91 companies on the Forbes 500 that paid precisely zero dollars in federal corporate tax for 2018.
Yup, this is a pure moonshine story being floated by somebody as a trial balloon. Donald Trump doesn't need to show he's Getting Tough on corporations. He can just as well lie and say the 2017 tax cuts gave all Fox News viewers better gas mileage and brighter smiles, and that will become the truth.
WHAT IS BERNIE MADOFF, CHOPPED LIVER?
Donald Trump was feeling merciful today, so he did us a favor though and granted clemency to a load of famous crimers, including former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, former NYPD commissioner Bernard Kerik, former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr., and fraudy inside trader Michael Milken. Kerik, Milken, and DeBartolo all received full pardons, while Blago only had his 14-year sentence commuted, allowing him out of prison but leaving his conviction for trying to sell an appointment to the US Senate seat that had been held by Barack Obama.
Trump also granted clemency to a number of less well-known people, including some women convicted of drug offenses, who appear to have actually turned their lives around in prison. It is not yet known whether the women were insulted by being included in a clemency spree with those scummy fraud men.
The Chicago Tribune's headline for the story was a masterpiece of pointed omission:
He's not corrupt! He's YOU!
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was on Fox News last night, explaining to Laura Ingraham that Donald Trump is an everyday man of the people, because unlike Democrats, who are all out-of-touch elitists, Donald Trump actually just barely puts up with the rich people with whom he surrounds himself and for whom he operates tacky, overpriced trash palaces. We haven't actually seen the whole segment, but do we really need to?
McCarthy was part of an Ingraham Very Special Episode on liberal elites last night, the same show where Candace Owens explained LBJ hated black people so much he signed civil rights laws to trap them in Democratic bondage. McCarthy's segment followed a rant called "A Party of Snobs," in which Ingraham explained that all liberals are exactly like Michael Bloomberg, who said a dumb — and deceptively edited — thing about how for 3,000 years, farming has been super easy because all you do is dig a hole, drop in a seed, add water, and you're a farmer, but those people can never learn tech jobs. (Apparently no liberals mocked Bloomberg at all, so you didn't see it.) So that would explain that "THE ELITIST LEFT" chyron.
McCarthy explained that, by contrast, the guy with the gold-covered penthouse apartment is just an ordinary Joe like the people who elected him:
If you ever go on a project with him where he's building a building, he is more in contact with those who are building it than those who are buying it. That's the uniqueness of him. He'd rather hang out with everyone who builds the building than whoever buys the room from him.
We haven't actually ever seen a photo of Donald Trump "hanging out" with the people who built his buildings, possibly because so many of them would be asking him to finally pay them for the work they did. (The complaints continued even after Trump took office.) But McCarthy said it on Fox, so you'd best believe it will now be seen as true by Trump voters. Maybe Trump will incorporate it into his attacks on the elitists who scorn him, even though he's actually richer and better educated and more elite than them! He went to Wharton!
Trump gonna Make America Poisoned Again.
Donald Trump's administration is getting set to finalize its rollback of Obama-era regulations on mercury emissions by coal-fired power plants. That's even though America's utility companies don't even want the rules rolled back, because they've already complied with the rules. But Trump's Environmental "Protection" Agency is going to go ahead and rewrite the regulations anyway, because 1) Obama did it, so it's bad, 2) it's part of Trump's sacred mission to boost coal company profits for as long as possible before the industry dies out altogether, and 3) It will fundamentally change how government calculates the costs and benefits of environmental regulations, making it easier to rig the rules in favor of dirty industry.
As the Washington Post explains, big energy companies fear the rule change could result in costly lawsuits over a matter the industry thought was settled. Exelon, one of the biggest utility companies in the country, formally asked the EPA to leave the rule alone, calling the rollback "an action that is entirely unnecessary, unreasonable, and universally opposed by the power generation sector."
Kathy Robertson, a senior manager for environmental policy at the company, said the industry long ago complied with the rule.
"And it works," she said. "The sector has gotten so much cleaner as a result of this rule."
Sorry, Exelon. Donald Trump doesn't quite understand the math, but he knows Obama Bad, and he also knows coal baron Bob Murray, his good pal and coal whisperer, wants the rule changed. So the rule must be changed.
Yet another explanation for why you're not rich, you loser.
Twitter is a wonderful place where you can find cute animal videos and also complete idiots, like this thought from a guy called "Dave Ramsey," a bestselling writer of books on financial success. According to the wiki, Mr. Ramsey's books and radio show advocate "a fiscally disciplined approach to personal and household finances, including the strict management of debt, and often feature a Christian perspective."
We'd never heard of him before today, but here he is, explaining how to get out of debt:
If you're working on paying off debt, the only time you should see the inside of a restaurant is if you're working there.
Like a lot of common sense financial advice, it sounds very sensible and straightforward. And for most people, about as useful as the rightwing geniuses who explain that nobody would ever go bankrupt from medical bills if only they didn't waste their money on iPhones instead.
AMERICA IS THE ASSHOLE.
Ah Reddit! Sometimes it is really, really bad. Sometimes it's really, really good! And sometimes it is good/bad in a very satisfying kind of way that lends itself very well to falling into a four-hour internet hole. Perhaps the subreddits best suited to that sort of time-wasting misadventure are r/AmITheAsshole — a forum in which people ask if they are actually the asshole in whatever situation they are currently in — and r/relationships, in which people seek advice from strangers on the internet on issues in their relationships. It's sort of like a modern version of advice columns and Ricki Lake. I also "enjoy" r/legal_advice for when I'm just not having enough nightmares, r/IDontWorkHereLady, and r/AskTrumpSupporters for when I am just not jaded enough about humanity, and the many skincare and nail art subreddits I am subscribed to for when I decide to fuck it all and just be really shallow.
But I digress.
Last night, just in time for the holiday, a very particularly American post appeared on Am I The Asshole? A post from a man who was wondering if it's bad that he is telling his fiancée she has to work 80 hours a week and live off of cheese sandwiches and eat zero avocados in order to be debt free by the time they are married. Said fiancée has accrued $60K in debt because she had to finance her father's cancer treatments.
Happy Valentine's Day!
HHS Sec Tells Senate Trump's Obamacare Replacement Is Not The Plan They're Looking For (Because He's Never Had One, Never Will)
Plan to replace the thing we're killing? Why?
At a Senate hearing today, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the Trump administration won't offer a plan to replace Obamacare until after it's struck down by the Supreme Court. In other words, if the Court does exactly what the administration has been asking for and overturns the Affordable Care Act while Trump's still in office, Americans won't find out until then what Trump has in mind to replace it (not like Trump or Republicans have ever had a real plan, ever). Heck, healthcare is only a sixth of the economy. It's not like it's complicated or anything.
The kids are more than all right.
British high school students would very much like to have a human-friendly planet when they're older, thank you very much. So instead of just waiting for Parliament to finally get funkadelic with teaching about climate in the nation's schools, they've produced their own bill that would mandate a climate education program and other steps to make sure their voices are included in UK climate policy. Seems a reasonable demand, since they and their kids will be living with the consequences of decisions being made right now.
The "Teach the Future" campaign was launched by 17-year-old Joe Brindle, who the Guardian reports "is preparing for his A-levels in Devizes, Wiltshire" — which we believe has something to do with graduating from wizarding school. Brindle's motivation is pretty straightforward: He says he's "angry about the injustice that is allowing the most vulnerable people in the world to suffer from the actions of the richest and most powerful."
Isn't that just typical of the selfishness of youth? Not a single bit of empathy for investors in fossil fuel companies.
Let them eat state fair corndogs!
While the nation was paying attention to Iowa's dysfunctional caucus last week, the state's Republican-controlled legislature was working on some important legislation, like a bill to allow breweries in the state to purchase hard liquor, as long as it's used to create canned cocktails for the good of all. The Cedar Rapids Gazette informs us that important bill was introduced the day after the Iowa Brewer's Guild hosted a reception for state lawmakers, so let's hear it for the tradition of citizen outreach to let elected officials know what matters to constituents.
In addition to doing regulatory favors for brewpub hipsters, members of the Lege also had a thought for their less affluent constituents, and that thought mostly involved coming up with new ways of making it harder for people to qualify for food stamps (formally, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP). You see, Fox News says there's too much waste and fraud in the SNAP program, and so Iowa Republicans need to add tougher eligibility requirements.
Not that some of the changes the Iowa legislature is talking about make a hell of a lot of sense!
Don't worry, the money wasn't going to people on welfare anyway.
Mississippi is not a good place in which to be poor. It's the go-to state for other states with crappy social programs to compare themselves to: "Thank God for Mississippi!" (Alabama sometimes goes in the object slot, too.) Like many red states, Mississippi doesn't believe that poor people can be trusted to receive cash assistance, so instead, the state gives most of its federal "welfare" funds to nonprofit organizations that are supposed to fight poverty through job training, parenting classes, and other important services like telling poor people not to fuck.
Such programs may not reduce poverty in any measurable sense, but they're a great deal for the nonprofits being funded by federal anti-poverty money. So it probably shouldn't be too big a surprise that last week, several top people at "Mississippi Community Education Center," one of the state's biggest nonprofits, were arrested for embezzling millions of dollars that didn't even go to the pretense of providing services for the poor, as Mississippi Today details in a report that may have you hurling your computer across the room.
Get this: The investigation didn't just nab the director of the outfit, Nancy New, and several members of her family who worked for the nonprofit. New, who founded a private school in Jackson and tried but failed to get in on the charter school grift too, "has long had the support of state leadership and often appeared on conservative SuperTalk radio to promote her work." No telling how the criminal charges will affect her standing on the wingnut economic prosperity circuit, but she can probably claim she was victimized by Cultural Marxists.
The probe also led to the arrest of John Davis, the former director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services, the state agency responsible for disbursing the funds. Since 2018, the nonprofit had sucked up $53 million in funding from the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, the cash-assistance program that used to be called "welfare." The case is still under investigation, so the exact amount of embezzled funds hasn't been released.
But don't you worry: Mississippi only uses five percent of its annual TANF funding for direct payments to needy families, so even without the crimes, the money would have gone to programs that may or may not have actually been helping poor people. In a sense, this is really a case of some crooks stealing money from the legitimate grift they were already running. Isn't that a comfort?
But look at all the money they saved!
The children of Flint, Michigan, haven't gone away. They're in school -- have been from the start of the 2014 water crisis, of course. But now the babies harmed at the very beginning of the lead poisoning emergency are reaching school age, and as public radio station WBUR's "Here and Now" reports, Flint schools have a far higher percentage of kids in special education than in schools in areas not treated to lead-poisoned water due to a Republican governor's fiscal shock policy.
[Flint's] rate of special education students has grown steadily since the water crisis began — 28% of students are in special education programs, while the national average is about 13%.
In response, over a dozen Flint families, with help from the ACLU of Michigan, the Education Law Center of New Jersey, and a private law firm, are suing the Flint school district and the Michigan Department of Education in federal court. They argue that the school district and state haven't been meeting their obligations to identify kids with special needs and provide them with an appropriate education as required by federal law. It's one of several ongoing lawsuits over the lead poisoning.
While the lawsuit was filed by 15 Flint families as plaintiffs, the attorneys are seeking to expand it to a class action that would cover all the kids in Flint. The case should be going to trial later this spring.
It's a sick game with no winners.
Robert Williams shot two New York City police officers Saturday night. Sunday morning, he continued his rampage at a police precinct in the Bronx, where he opened fire and shot a police lieutenant. He also injured another officer who was trying to subdue him before being taken into custody.
This was a terrible act of violence, but now it seems the looming question is who else is responsible other than the actual gunman. The police union pinned blame on Democratic state legislators who are apparently soft on crime. Police Commissioner Dermot Shea believed police protestors were accomplices in the "premeditated assassination attempt."
SHEA: Just remember these things are not unrelated. We have people marching in New York City last week and I condemned it and I condemn it right here again today -- using profanities against the Police Department.
They are in fact completely unrelated. However, Mayor Bill De Blasio agreed with Shea's top-notch police work.
DE BLASIO: Anyone who spews hatred at our officers is aiding and abetting this kind of atmosphere. It's not acceptable. You can protest whatever for whatever you believe in, but you cannot vilely attack those who are here to protect us. It creates this kind of dynamic.
This a crazy irresponsible statement. Roughly 500 people gathered last month in Grand Central Terminal to protest the increased police presence in subways. Demonstrators held up signs stating "Poverty is not a crime" and "The real fare beaters are on Wall Street." Some even led a call-and-response chant: "How do you spell racist? N-Y-P-D." People might consider that rude, but it's also free speech. What it definitely isn't is criminal facilitation. Saying mean things about the police didn't provide Williams with either the means or the opportunity to shoot cops.
The mayor shouldn't use the term "aiding and abetting" metaphorically. It has a specific definition. If de Blasio has evidence that the protestors had previous knowledge of Williams's intentions and actively helped him in any way, he should contact the police. However, disagreeing with police tactics or even just straight-up disliking the police aren't the same on a moral or practical level as actually trying to murder police officers.
Schlapp just couldn't "guarantee" Romney's safety at the conservative conference.
We all enjoyed a good laugh when Mitt Romney was disinvited from the grand douchebag ball that is the Conservative Political Action Conference. This occurred with much pomp and circumstance after Romney voted, along with Susan Collins, to allow witnesses in Donald Trump's sham impeachment trial. The vote failed, but Romney was still denied the golden ticket to CPAC.
Romney is even less popular among the Trump faithful now that he's the lone Republican who voted to remove the president from office. The conservatives who write for the Washington Post or the New York Times, along with the entirety of "Morning Joe," all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude, but the conservative rank and file might just rip him to shreds like he's the unseen gay character in Suddenly, Last Summer.
That's Matt Schlapp's theory at least. During an appearance on Greta Van Susteren's "Full Court Press," the CPAC chairman suggested that yanking Romney's invitation was an act of kindness. He couldn't guarantee the sitting US senator's safety.
American progressives tend to oppose the death penalty.
Last night, after the Democratic debates, Chris Matthews had a moment. And by moment, I mean that he had a complete breakdown, was physically shaking, on the verge of tears, and — it seems — trying to insinuate that if Bernie Sanders were elected president, he would be beheaded in Central Park. Or that if Fidel Castro had taken over the United States, he would have been beheaded in Central Park and some people would be cheering.
Better duck and cover to prepare yourselves for this one.
Well, it seems like someone's talking the John Birch Paranoid Blues. Let's dig in, shall we?
And Eric Trump lied about it to your face.
Donald Trump, for all his imbecility and incompetence, has one truly impressive talent: He knows how to grift. This is not the same as being a great businessman, as his bankruptcies and multiple failed enterprises readily illustrate. (Trump Steaks! The Trump Shuttle! Trump Organic Free-Range Condoms!) But when it comes to petty shit that can squeeze out a few tens or hundreds of bucks, Trump is on it, like refusing to pay his contractors when he was building casinos, or making sure his 2016 campaign paid top dollar to rent rooms in Trump Tower, and to maintain his fleet of gold-plated trashjets. Since becoming "president," the grift has continued, as Dok Zoom's pretend boyfriend David Fahrenthold details in yet another jaw-dropping Washington Post story about just part of the money Donald Trump's businesses make from renting rooms to the Secret Service, which has to stay close to Trump at all times.
As with most of the reporting that earned Fahrenthold a Pulitzer Prize in 2017, the piece is a combination of dogged research and an eye for details that just leave you blinking in astonishment. The bottom line is that records Fahrenthold was able to compile -- some from the public record, others from watchdog groups' lawsuits, plus interviews with insiders -- "show more than $471,000 in payments from taxpayers to Trump's companies." But that's just a start, since, as he notes, "these records cover only a fraction of Trump's travel during a fraction of his term — the actual total is likely to be higher."
For instance, during the first year of Trump's maladministration, his Mar-a-Lago club charged the Secret Service rates up to $650 a night. Later, that nightly rate seems to have dropped some, to payments of "$396.15, dozens more times in 2018." But don't go thinking that had anything to do with the Trump Organization deciding the high costs looked bad. Don't be silly! Instead, it appears that's because the "2018 receipts list the Secret Service as an "honorary member" of the club, which could have made it eligible for a member discount."
Such a great deal maker!
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