Alex Acosta's Jeffrey Epstein press conference, for an audience of one.
If Alexander Acosta wanted to pull a Kavanaugh, he should have just shouted incoherently about beer at yesterday's press conference. Instead, the Labor secretary -- who a decade ago was the United States Attorney stroking secretive billionaire Jeffrey Epstein's hair while negotiating his plea for molesting what the FBI alleged were dozens of girls -- told a series of easily disprovable lies and then bizarrely blamed Epstein's victims for their own abuse. Cheers!
"The message is you need to come forward," Acosta burbled from the podium. "And as victims come forward, these cases can be brought and they can be brought by the federal government, they can be brought by state attorneys, and they will be brought."
Pinocchios on fire.
The Washington Post's "Fact Checker" column turned its reptilian eye to statements made during last week's second half of the first Democratic debate, and found some fibs (Joe Biden did oppose busing), some truths (Michael Bennet did introduce a very generous path to citizenship bill), and some judgment calls (was it really the "most progressive" immigration bill ever?). The column also suggested a statement by Bernie Sanders was true, but also somehow false, which is a truly impressive achievement, like Schrodinger's Socialist. Let's wonksplore!
The column takes issue with Bernie Sanders's statement, "Three people in this country own more wealth than the bottom half of America," even after noting that it's true. But you see, it's a misleading kind of true (it's not), per the factchecker:
This snappy talking point is based on numbers that add up, but it's also a question of comparing apples to oranges. Sanders is drawing on a 2017 report from the left-leaning Institute for Policy Studies, which said that three billionaires — Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos (who owns The Washington Post) and Warren Buffett — had total wealth of $248.5 billion, compared to $245 billion for the bottom 160 million of the United States. The wealth of the three men has gone up even more since then.
So that's true. The combined wealth of the Three Cool Pluto-Cats was even more a couple years later and they're all richer than the bottom 160 million Americans. So why's that wrong, huh?
But people in the bottom half have essentially no wealth, as debts cancel out whatever assets they might have. So the comparison is not especially meaningful.
We have read that sentence a whole bunch of times, and it is indeed composed of words in an order and ended with a punctuation mark.
Mmmmm, tasty LIE VOMIT.
Yesterday, Fox and Friends started the day whining about coordination between Democrats and "the mainstream media," and ended it by inviting the president's personal lawyer on air to hock rancid globs of phlegm at Sean Hannity and see if any of them would stick. The jury's still out on that one, although Hannity and his audience are well primed to believe just about any crazy shit, so ... odds are good they're going to slurp this right up.
Yeah, that's gross, but get a load of this shit! Here's part of a blogpost Sekulow wrote on his own site which Fox was kind enough to republish before his Hannity appearance! (They were also kind enough to edit out the part about the "Obama FBI using the faulty, unverified Steele Dossier it new [sic] was salacious," so Sekulow would look like less of A IDIOT.)
Stunning new information just released by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) shows that the Obama administration stepped up efforts – just days before President Trump took office – to undermine Trump and his administration.
The ACLJ, where I serve as chief counsel, has obtained records that show the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, under Director James Clapper, eagerly pushed to get new procedures as part of an anti-Trump effort. The procedures increased access to raw signals intelligence before the conclusion of the Obama administration, just days before President Trump was inaugurated.
Sekulow is no stranger to grift, but even by his debased standards, this one's a whopper.
Boy, it's gonna be awkward at the Conway house tonight. Like, even more than usual when one partner makes her living barfing insane nonsense to support the Dear Leader into every available microphone, and the other is a leading light of the Twitter Resisteratti. George Conway has been tweeting up a storm about our lawless president and how he should be impeached, and here's his lovely wife Kellyanne wandering into the frame to violate the Hatch Act six ways from Sunday. Hope they can hold it together for the sake of the corgis!
Today the Office of Special Counsel (not the Special Counsel's Office!) sent a report to the president recommending that Kellyanne Conway be fired from federal service for repeated violations of the Hatch Act. The Act protects federal employees from being conscripted to support a particular political candidate or party and bars high-level employees from publicly supporting a political candidate. The OSC is responsible for enforcing the Act and protecting whistleblowers and, by sheer coincidence, they posted this handy video to their Twitter feed just last week 'splaining the very law in question.
Burnin' out his fuse up here alone.
For all of Donald Trump's repeated insistence that the 2017 Big Fat Tax Cuts For Rich Fuckwads would pay for themselves by supercharging the economy, the evidence keeps piling up that while they were really really good for the rich, and for corporate profits, the cuts didn't have a hell of a lot of impact for either the economy, which was already growing, or for ordinary Americans' wages, which haven't increased anywhere near as much as corporate profits. Those are among the conclusions in a report released yesterday by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, which will nonetheless be ignored by Republicans because the CRS is not Of the Body of true believers in voodoo economics.
At the time the cuts passed, Donald Trump insisted they'd boost economic growth into the stratosphere, and even now, he loves saying they're the main reason the economy is continuing to grow. Just last month he took credit for the wonderful outcome of chopping federal revenues by over $1.5 trillion over the next decade.
"At the heart of America's revival are the massive tax cuts that I signed into law a year ago," Trump said at an event for the National Association of Realtors in May. "And they are like rocket fuel for America's economy."
If so, that's some seriously shitty rocket fuel, since there's been a steady decline in the unemployment rate since the Obama administration, and the pace of that decline didn't noticeably change after the cuts went into effect. Here, lookie this chart from Forbes in October 2018:
Let a thousand position papers bloom!
Julián Castro continued the hot trend of 2020 campaigns with Big Ideas, releasing his "People First Education" plan Monday like some kind of common Elizabeth Warren. It has several elements in common with education plans already out there, like calling for universal pre-K, increased funding to fix education infrastructure, and free tuition for public universities, community colleges, and vocational schools. And like Warren, Castro also wants to tackle the student loan debt mess, albeit with a slightly different mechanism. Let's put on our poindexter spectacles and take a look!
Sure, this seems like a good fight to have.
Donald Trump really, really, reaaaallly wants to re-fight healthcare for the 2020 election, because he apparently thinks it was such a winning issue for Republicans in 2018. That's why he's very hot on the idea of having the courts throw out Obamacare altogether, eliminating healthcare for 20 million people, and not incidentally leaving about half of Americans subject to losing their coverage for preexisting conditions. Republicans, Trump announced Wednesday, will now become "the party of healthcare," just as soon as they come up with a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, or maybe just trash it and hope everyone loves them for it. It worked with firing James Comey right? Democrats, on the other hand, are are looking forward both to shoring up Obamacare -- since that did a pretty good job of winning the House in 2018 -- and then working toward some form of actual Medicare for All, because really, it's not a choice between those two, silly.
Oh you dumb idiot bastard.
This morning, after giving Fox News a 12-hour head start with a yet-to-be-filed copy, Devin Nunes and a Virginia lawyer who may not have the best interests of a free press at heart sued some folks. They sued Twitter, and some punk GOP operative woman who probably sucks, and her (they allege) conspirators, Devin Nunes' Mom and Devin Nunes' Cow.
Wonkette would like to take this opportunity to sue Devin Nunes' Cow for stealing our shtick, the one we invented and which is very extraordinarily clever, and I came up with it and then set Evan loose on it one day when I noticed haw haw that Devin Nunes studied animal HUSBANDRY and even though I know that is just fancy for "farming," I said, "HEY, DO YOU THINK DEVIN NUNES IS FUCKING HIS COW?" Sure, it's no Jerry Falwell losing his virginity to his mother in an outhouse -- because it's ONE MILLION TIMES FUNNIER, STUPID DUMB LARRY FLYNT! The Supreme Court -- at least in the old liberal Rehnquist days, lol -- it would doubtless agree!
Oh, wait, we just remembered you can't copyright an idea, which makes us a better lawyer than Devin Nunes's Virginia dude. Allegedly. We opine.
Nunes's grievances are many -- as they should be with a demand that the courts award him $250 million -- and they are dumb.
How Dumb Are They?
Devin Nunes and his Free Speech Hero lawyer, Steven Biss -- who once sued a paper for printing "fake news" about a school board member that was actually very real news -- have several complaints. (After a very long introduction in which it is explained for no reason at all that Devin Nunes once introduced a bill for The Troops.) The first complaint, about which we do not care, is that Nunes claims he is being "shadowbanned" by Twitter. Fox News's Judge Andrew Napolitano made quick work of that one; a private company, despite being the new "town square," does not have to give untrammeled access to its platform, and may in fact, thanks to the Communications Decency Act, censor people. This was to Devin Nunes's benefit yesterday when Twitter suspended user Devin Nunes' Mom for being gross and mean and VERY hilarious and sounding just exactly like a common Wonkette.
Fine, make the rhetoric guy write about economics.
The February jobs numbers are out, and the only thing anyone can agree on is that it's kind of weird that following two months of solid job growth, only 20,000 new jobs were created in the economy, compared to a forecast of 180,000 new jobs by people who supposedly know things. So is this good news or bad news? What we keep seeing -- at CNN Bidniss, the New York Times, and Bigass Accountants R Us -- is that a single month's job numbers don't really mean a lot, since they could be a blip, who knows? Or maybe they could signal the END OF THE WORLD, because economix is funny like that.
While everybody was watching Michael Cohen alternate between answering questions and being called a filthy liar who lied (for Donald Trump) Wednesday, elsewhere on Capitol Hill Washington state Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal introduced the House's leading version of a Medicare for All Bill. It's pretty darned ambitious, and would switch the US healthcare system from a tangled mess of private and public health insurance plans to a single-payer system that genuinely covers everyone in the country. Jayapal's proposal (summary here) would actually cover even more healthcare needs than Bernie Sanders's Medicare for All proposal in the Senate. For that matter, it would provide even more wide-ranging coverage, with fewer direct costs to the consumer, than any of the existing single-payer systems in the world. Take that, Old Europe!
Next, bringing back the Alien and Sedition Acts!
Freedom of the press is a pain in the ass for public officials and celebrities, because the damn liars in the media keep saying things that make them look bad. But in US America, we have this nice thing called the First Amendment, which was handed to George Washington by Jesus along with the rest of the Constitution in a well-documented public ceremony. According to no end of Supreme Court decisions, the First Amendment protects the media from lawsuits by public figures, because a vigorous public debate is far more important than the hurt fee-fees of a president or even a movie star. But Donald Trump has been complaining for years that he'd LOVE to "open up" America's libel laws so he could sue people who say mean things about him.
Good luck with that, Russiaboy! But Trump must be dancing around his Executive Time in his burger-stained jammies today, because yesterday, Clarence "Scalia's Bitch" Thomas wrote in an actual legal opinion that he thinks it's high time the Court reconsider the whole idea of what protected speech is, because shouldn't we all remember that it's actually still 1791 as far as Constitutional Truth goes?
Hey, what if we REALLY acted like children are the future?
We actually have a genuine Nice Time for you today -- none of that mixed-blessing stuff like a story of a good person who got horribly discriminated against but then had the last laugh. Nope, this is just a terrific idea about reshaping a part of the economy to fit human needs and make everyone's life better, except of course for the lives of greedheads, but they're all miserable anyway because of all the Greed.
The nonprofit People's Policy Project has a nifty proposal for a national family policy that would put economic equality behind the notion of "family values" and address the decidedly non-family-friendly realities of capitalism. They call the thing the "Family Fun Pack," and you better bet they're deliberately playing off the silly advertise-y tone of that slogan. Heck, why use that name for discount tickets to a water park when we could make actual families' lives better?
Long story short ... eh?
YEAH, HE CAN PROBABLY DO IT. He's probably going to raid funds set aside for military construction and housing to build his stupid Fuck You Mexico monument. Our best hope is to tie this shit up in the courts until 2021, when we send his flabby ass packing off to Florida permanently, God willing and the crick don't rise. Sorry it's not better news.
OMG, What Is Even Happening?
Well, earlier this week, Congress hammered out a compromise budget and crossed their fingers hoping that Sean Hannity would sign off on it and not shut the government down again. Looks like that goat they sacrificed in the Senate cloakroom must have done the trick, because the government will remain open. But everything has a price, and President Couch Potato refused to sign unless Mitch McConnell agreed to support a national emergency declaration for WALL. So Yertle inched back to the Senate where he interrupted a pissed-off Chuck Grassley to announce the joyous news that their party had WON! Or, you know, "won." Not only did they get their budget blessed by the Dear Leader, they also were getting a shiny new usurpation of congressional authority, HOORAY! Literally no one was fooled -- they all knew McConnell had gotten played, and they were about to be yanked ever deeper into the cold abyss. Which is what happens when you lash your party to a giant sea demon racing toward the bottom of an ocean of corruption. You pays your money, and you takes your chances.
Looks like the Republican leaders of the Great State of Texas have finally decided how to respond to the high 2018 turnout that wasn't quite enough to elect Beto O'Rourke to the US Senate but did manage to flip a couple seats blue in Congress, add a dozen Democrats in the state House, and replace Republicans with Democrats in an astonishing number of state appellate court seats. Obviously, something has to be done, so how about a good old-fashioned "voter fraud" scare? Friday, Secretary of State David Whitley's office said it had complied a list of 95,000 possible non-citizens registered to vote -- and issued the scary claim that 58,000 people on the list had voted in at least one Texas election since 1996. Whitley was just appointed to his post in December after serving as Gov. Greg Abbott's chief of staff. Fun coincidence, huh?
Of course, it was pretty obvious from the get-go that the list, based on data from driver's license and ID applications, wasn't proof of any voter fraud. But the scary raw numbers were immediately taken as Gospel truth -- or at least GOPspel truth -- by the people who just know in their hearts that scary foreigns are voting fraudulently, so we need to make voting much more difficult to preserve the "integrity of the ballot" (translation: too many potential Democratic voters) .
So let's get right to why this list -- which was sent to voting officials in every Texas county -- is just plain bogus. It was complied from records from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), which requires applicants for a Texas driver's license or a photo ID to check a box if they're a noncitizen, but a legal resident of the USA. The secretary of state's office then compared the DOT data with voter rolls and decided that anyone whose name was on both lists was possibly an illegal voter, so the counties better go check up on them.
BIG problem with that method, obviously, because it's only a list of registered voters who were not citizens at the time they went to the driver's license office -- so even if they became citizens later and registered to vote, the DPS data wouldn't reflect that. Lawyers for 13 civil rights groups have already sent letters to the state and the county warning not to strike anyone from the voter rolls on the basis of the list:
Somebody's finally allowing a vote to reopen the government!
Having largely sat out the government shutdown, which is now in its one millionth day, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stepped up with a bold new plan to do virtually nothing: He's scheduled a vote Thursday on two different bills to reopen the government. Just a small problem: One includes funding for WALL and immigration provisions no Democrat will vote for, and the other is the same as a non-WALL stopgap funding measure passed by the House already, which may or may not get the 60 votes needed to proceed, but which Donald Trump has pledged to veto, lest Ann Coulter yell at him.
At least they were good for the economy. Oh, wait, no, that never happened either.
President Goodbrain's Big Fat Tax Cuts for Rich Fuckwads bill was the only thing Republicans got done during Donald Trump's historic first year in office, and boy, were they ever gonna do wonderful things for the economy and make everyone prosperous forever! Just as long as by "everyone" you mean big corporations and the already rich. The rest of us got boned! A new analysis of the economic effects of the tax cut at Bloomberg found cuts to the corporate tax rate resulted in a lot of tax savings for businesses (and corresponding growth of the national debt), but very little improvement for the economy as a whole. Once adjusted for that flood of tax savings, the overall benefit was actually a bit lower than growth projections before the tax cut. But at least we'll be paying for that corporate tax cut binge forever!
Bloomberg banking columnist Stephen Gandel moneysplains the tax cuts were just AWESOME for big corporations, but kinda shitty for the ol' national bottom line:
In late 2017, soon before Congress passed the tax cut [...] the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated it would cost $1.4 trillion over 10 years. White House officials criticized that estimate as being too high. In fact, it wasn't nearly high enough. My current estimate, now that companies have completed 2018, is nearly $2 trillion, and that's just for the S&P 500.
Those cuts were terrific for corporate profits, which jumped by 24 percent in 2018, but Gandel estimates roughly half that income growth "came not from an improvement in operations but from lower corporate tax bills" -- so hooray for profits. Say, Johnny, what do our viewers have to give the S&P 500 thanks to Republican generosity? "S&P 500 companies saved $144 billion, or $395 million a day, in taxes in 2018." Which, as others have pointed out, the companies mostly plowed into stock buybacks, pumping up their stock value and enriching investors, but not actually improving wages or adding jobs. Funny, there are only so many yachts and upgraded bizjets the filthy rich can blow money on!
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