The possibilities are endless with the indictment of Manafort, et. al. This signals to every person in Trump’s orbit that anything is fair game.
And whom do you suppose in the Trump rogues’ gallery of grifters has evaded taxes, at the very least?
Bannon? The Trump children? Trump himself?
That’s the thing about a special prosecutor. He is ostensibly looking for collusion with the Russians in the election. But if, in his investigation into that area, he runs across something else against the law? Tough luck, pal.
You know Donald Trump has something in his closet. This guy can grab pussies with impunity. Who knows what other rules he thought don’t apply to him?
This is eventually gonna push Orange Dear Leader over the edge. You know it will.
Fox News is going to have to queue up a lot of B-roll for shitty stories on America’s favorite candies and laundry detergents to keep everyone’s mind on something else. Good luck with that.
In most other presidential administrations an indictment of a key player would leave us wondering who else is dirty. With these people you have to wonder who isn’t. The lot of them have the faint whiff of grift about them.
The show begins today. Where it will lead is anyone’s guess.
These are interesting and very dangerous times in which we live. A federal prosecutor just threw down the gauntlet to a mentally unstable president with access to the nuclear football.
Vanity Fair notes in a current piece by writer Tina Nguyen how we all knew that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, presented in the media as the straight shooter who is bringing order to the Trump Administration, would eventually have to shame himself in order to keep favor with the mercurial Trump and his loose association with anything resembling the truth:
All senior White House staffers duty-bound to serve President Donald Trump have, at one point in their tenure, stood in front of a crowd of reporters and delivered untruths to cover for their boss—a ritualistic torching of their integrity, as it were. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was forced to dodge accusations that he had called Trump a “moron”; National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, meanwhile, had to defend Trump after the president shared another spy agency’s intel with Russian officials. It was only a matter of time before Chief of Staff John Kelly’s turn arrived, and arrive it did, with Kelly unexpectedly taking the podium during a press briefing Thursday to exculpate Trump after he was accused of mishandling a phone call to a grieving war widow. Standing before the press, Kelly used his position as a four-star general who has lost a son in battle to take Florida Congresswoman Frederica Wilson to task, saying he was “heartbroken” by her comments criticizing the president, and accusing her of bragging about appropriating money for an F.B.I. building—a claim that was disproved hours later, when video of Wilson’s speech was released.
Plenty of Trump staffers have doubled down on more egregious falsehoods (beleaguered former Press Secretary Sean Spicer comes to mind), but to hear the claims coming from the sterling four-star general was a departure. Kelly, after all, entered the White House as part of a contingent of sober grown-ups, and reportedly felt duty-bound to restrain Trump when he supplanted Reince Priebus as chief of staff. Hopes rose that Kelly’s military discipline and love of country would keep the president in line. “He has a lot of credibility,” presidential historian Douglas Brinkley told The Washington Post at the time. “Trump better not double-cross him . . . The integrity is so high.”
That reputation held after Trump’s Charlottesville press conference and speech at the United Nations, where Kelly was photographed staring dourly at the ground in apparent shame. As my colleague Gabriel Sherman reported last week, Kelly is “miserable” in his job but has remained out of a sense of duty, while carefully eyeing an eventual exit strategy. But after Wilson told reporters that Trump had upset the widow of slain solder La David Johnson, saying of her late husband, “I’m sure he knew what he was signed up for,” Kelly took it upon himself to defend the president. Rather than delivering boilerplate condemnations, he leaned in to his own experience as a father of a slain soldier to attack Wilson, who had heard Trump call Johnson’s family and relayed his comments to the public.
“I just thought the selfless devotion that brings a man or woman to die on the battlefield, I just thought that might still be sacred,” a visibly emotional Kelly said, describing how his first reaction, upon hearing Wilson’s remarks, was to take refuge at Arlington National Cemetery. “I hope, as you write your stories, let’s not let this last thing that is sacred—a young man or woman giving his or her life for country—let’s somehow keep that sacred. It eroded a great deal yesterday by the selfish behavior of a member of Congress.” Kelly then called Wilson’s integrity into question, saying that, during the dedication ceremony for a building honoring two slain F.B.I. agents, she had bragged in a speech about how “she got the money” for the building.
You have probably seen the video evidence, released soon after Kelly’s comments, showing that Rep. Wilson said no such thing. In fact, she said things that would make any right winger proud in praising two murdered FBI agents and her bipartisan efforts to rush through legislation on Capitol Hill naming a new building after them.
(Of course she was taking some credit for what was an honorable thing to do. That is what politicians do. They transmit to the folks who vote for them that they have done something that warrants continued support. But that is nowhere near falsely claiming to have secured funding to get something built. )
In light of all of this, Kelly’s beatification in the press as one of the lone credible people trying to bring order to a chaotic, dissembling White House begs some questions.
Has he been turned to the dark side, willing to say anything to keep his job and puff up Trump’s fragile ego? Or has he always been there and this episode brought it out?
Perhaps Kelly’s love and dedication to country, the main reason he is rumored to have taken the chief of staff job in the first place, has taught him that he needs to go along to get along and keep an easily distracted and offended Trump from veering off course over an incident that, while certainly important to Wilson and La David Johnson’s family, is only another blip in the President’s continued campaign to bamboozle everyone into not paying attention to the real harm he is doing behind the scenes of the chaos he creates and craves.
It says much that is terrible that we live in a time when we have a presidency wherein the ability to tell, and further, easily disprovable lies is a chief job description for even Marine generals with a long history of rectitude.
The U.S. Labor Dept. proposes a fiduciary rule for those selling retirement products to prevent them from fleecing grandma and grandpa with products not in their best interest — sort of like what all these companies did in the housing industry before the financial crisis of 2008.
It doesn’t actually say that, but it might as well:
Regulators and consumer advocates have argued that the rule is important and necessary. Financial firms have countered that it is overly burdensome and expensive.
Other lawsuits have largely relied on the notion that the Labor Department overreached in creating the rule. The Dallas plaintiffs also use those arguments, but are the only ones to mention First Amendment obstacles.
Labor Department lawyers argued the fiduciary rule only governs conduct, not speech. Even if it did regulate speech, they said, it only covers misleading and conflicted statements, which are not protected by the First Amendment.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn pressed the government on its position, saying the fiduciary rule appears to regulate more than just misleading speech.
“They can recommend any products they like, as long as they’re not recommending products that aren’t in the investor’s best interest,” Labor Department defense attorney Emily Newton responded.
The agency estimates bad advice will cost investors $95 billion over the next 10 years if the fiduciary rule is not implemented.
Among the lawyers representing the industry is Eugene Scalia, who has successfully argued for corporations and trade groups in other high-profile cases. Earlier this year he convinced a federal judge to strike down MetLife Inc’s designation as a financial company that is “systemically important,” which would subject it to tougher regulation.
His father was the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative who often sided with big business in landmark cases that protected or created corporate rights.
So the case will likely end up at the Supreme Court, and is being partially argued by the son of the now-dead justice who would have been most likely to support it. Not that the son can’t do that. It’s just what one would expect in this great country of ours where Wall Street is in control.
Truth truly is stranger than fiction.
And with Trump in the Oval Office, we all know how this will end up.
Watch your parents’ (and your own) savings closely. Because these massive industries are coming for it and don’t want any restrictions on the shitty products they can offer to take that life savings.
This case is the perfect representation of how average people screwed themselves by electing Donald Trump. Wall Street wins. We lose. Wall Street is happy.
As Flynn’s public comments became more and more shrill, McChrystal, Mullen, and others called Flynn to urge him to “tone it down,” a person familiar with each attempt told me. But Flynn had found a new boss, Trump, who enlisted him in the fight against the Republican and Democratic Party establishments. Flynn was ready. At the Republican National Convention, Flynn boiled over in front of an audience of millions. He led the crowd in chants of “Lock her up! Lock her up!” His former colleagues say they were shocked by what they saw.
What Flynn saw was corruption: Clinton, the media, the Justice Department, the intelligence community—they are all corrupt. I spoke to Flynn three months ago, while working on a profile of him for the Washington Post. “Is this some kind of hatchet job!” he roared into the phone when I asked why, exactly, he thought Clinton should be in jail.
The lifelong intelligence officer, who once valued tips gleaned from tribal reporters, has become a ready tweeter of hackneyed conspiracy theories. He reposts the vitriol of anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim commentators. “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL,” he tweeted in February, linking to a false claim that Islam wants eighty per cent of humanity enslaved or exterminated. “U decide,” he posted one week before the election, along with the headline from a linked story that appeared on a Web site called True Pundit: “NYPD Blows Whistle on New Hillary Emails: Money Laundering, Sex Crimes w/Children, etc. . . . MUST READ!”
And then there is this;
Flynn also began to seek the Washington spotlight. But, without loyal junior officers at his side to vet his facts, he found even more trouble. His subordinates started a list of what they called “Flynn facts,” things he would say that weren’t true, like when he asserted that three-quarters of all new cell phones were bought by Africans or, later, that Iran had killed more Americans than Al Qaeda. In private, his staff tried to dissuade him from repeating these lines.
Flynn’s temper also flared. He berated people in front of colleagues. Soon, according to former associates, a parallel power structure developed within the D.I.A. to fence him in, and to keep the nearly seventeen-thousand-person agency working. “He created massive antibodies in the building,” the former colleague said.
Just the kind of guy we want advising the president of the United States on how to respond to national security emergencies.
I don’t care much for the poorly educated — and by “educated” I don’t mean secondary education. I know a lot of ignoramuses with degrees and more than my share of self-taught renaissance people with no degree but all the wisdom one needs to be a caring and well-informed American.
“Poorly educated” in my world means someone with a willful ignorance of facts at hand. It’s partially borne of living in the fact-free bubble of America’s right-wing movement as much as it’s about a lack of formal education. There are plenty of self-serving right-wingers on the economics faculties at Harvard and the University of Chicago.,
Trump voters — and not a few of us on the other side — seem to be unable to live by this dictum: What’s most important is knowing what you don’t know more than what you do know.
But there were enough of those people to get Donald Trump elected and give me a few days of deep despondency over the future of this country.
And yet, as more time passes since that election, simply marveling at the stupidity of half the voters has seemed increasingly insufficient and nihilistic. Too simple. Too childish.
Yes, a lot of his voters are racists, sexist and homophobic. But I’ve also wondered how many of them are not any of those things overtly, but rather were just easy marks for a con man real estate developer playing the pied piper of resentment?
Are racism, sexism and homophobia the primary motivators of the vast majority of Trump supporters, or do they go along with that for other reasons — or just plainly choose to ignore those things in favor of a candidate whom they think spoke to their needs on other issues?
I had a middle-aged black woman in my car today, sweet as can be, and she brought up the election. I assumed she was for Hillary and against Trump. And she was, but only so far. “I can’t stand the racists, but I get why Trump people are mad at where this country is going, she said. “I’m mad, too. And I think a lot of them just wanted to overturn the system.”
Teasing all this out would be impossible without putting a great many of those supporters through a battery of well-designed tests.
It’s hard to talk about this stuff and not feel the pain of bigotry if you’ve experienced it. These debates can never not be filtered through that. Nor should they be.
The first time I read this piece I thought, “You’re expecting us to meet bigots halfway!”
Then I read it again with a more open mind. I still disagree with some of it, at least how it’s worded. Yet some of what is said here makes sense:
After winning the Nevada Republican caucuses, Trump said, “I love the poorly educated.” We laughed and made fun. But poorly educated whites were listening. And they vote, too.
For decades those people have felt ignored and belittled. During the campaign they heard a great deal about the concerns of African-Americans, gay and transgendered people, immigrants, refugees. For us, those concerns are part and parcel of a necessary compassion; they dovetail with our sense of being American. For many white voters in the other America, though, stuck in dead-end jobs and low-rent neighborhoods, those comments make them want to say, “But what about me?”
The educated elite — professors, artists, journalists, “expert” commentators — can judge the emotions behind that question as stupid and unfair, even brand them as racist or homophobic. But those feelings of exclusion are very real and not unfounded. As the saying goes, and as last week’s depressing election result clearly demonstrates, we have ignored them at our peril.
I don’t want to spend the next four years in an ideological war with half the electorate. That feels like we’re all puppets with Fox News and the radical Right as our puppeteers, keeping the entire country on edge so that none of us can focus on the truly important issues. Surely there is some common ground that we must try for with those people on the other side who are not unreformed bigots.
We should still call out bigotry in all its forms when it rears its ugly head, which it is likely to do many times (even more than usual) over the next four years. We should still work very hard to ameliorate the damage a Trump administration can do, including working our asses off on the mid-term elections.
However, as much as I laughed along with everyone else at the pitiful spelling and horrific grammar of many Trump supporters, I feel less proud of it in retrospect.
It’s easy to make fun of someone who doesn’t know the difference between “your” and “you’re,” but if you are a coal miner who barely feeds his family and is watching your future die while politicians seems not to care much — and much of the Left seems to care less than the elected officials about income inequality — the niceties of spelling and grammar are not very high on your list of priorities.
Are spelling and grammar yardsticks by which we decide someone is a good person, worthy of respect?
After all, my side –the progressive side — is supposed to be the side with all the education and, for lack of a better term in mind now, the “adulthood” to see our way past raw emotions and ad hominem attacks.
If we don’t try to break the impasse with at least some of these people — the ones who can be reached with good will, compassion and/or some semblance of reason — nobody else will. And they will be ripe for the picking the next time someone even worse than Trump comes along.
I find it hard to believe with all the marketing talent in this country that we can’t do more with that than get people to, as we do now, buy cars based on nothing more than feelings and self-image. Where are the people who will show us how to market a progressive agenda to a population that sorely needs one yet rejects it more than anyone else?
We need to learn how to talk to that part of America. I don’t have the answer on how to do that. But I hope somebody does.
For 22 years, Nick Fugate washed dishes at a local hotel near his home in Olathe, Kan.
“There was nothing easy,” said the 42-year-old man who has an intellectual disability, chuckling. “I just constantly had to scrape the dishes off to get them clean.”
The work did sometimes get tedious, he said, but he didn’t really mind. “Just as long as I got the job done, it was fine,” he said.
Nick’s father, Ron Fugate, said the job was the key to the self-reliance he’s wanted for his son ever since Nick was born with an intellectual disability 42 years ago.
“From our perspective,” Ron said, “having a job, being independent, participating in the community, paying taxes, being a good citizen — that’s a dream parents have for their children in general.”
But things got tough last year when Nick lost his job and his health insurance. For the first time, he enrolled in Medicaid. He got his basic medical care covered right away, but in Kansas, there’s now a long waitlist — a seven-year wait — for people with intellectual disabilities to get the services they need. Decades ago, Fugate might have been institutionalized, but Medicaid now provides services to help people remain independent — including job coaching, help buying groceries, food preparation and transportation. These are the services Nick is eligible for but must wait to receive through Medicaid.
In the months since losing his employment, Nick has had to pay around $1,000 a month out of pocket for help buying groceries, career coaching and transportation. Those expenses are quickly burning through his life savings.
This year, families like the Fugates have been speaking out about that long waitlist and about other Medicaid problems at public forums like one held at the Jack Reardon Convention Center in Kansas City, Kan., in May.
In a basement meeting room, hundreds of people with disabilities, their families and caseworkers railed against KanCare — the state Medicaid program. Some heckled the moderator. The state has been gathering feedback because it needs the federal government’s permission to continue running KanCare.
In 2013, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback put KanCare under the management of three private companies that promised to improve services, cut waste and save enough money to end the long waits for the kind of services Nick needs.
Two and a half years later, many families say they’ve seen few signs of improvement, especially in terms of shortening the waitlist. In fact, it’s actually grown by a few hundred names to about 3,500. And, except in emergency situations, the wait to get treatment averages seven years.
But an end is in view, insisted Brandt Haehn, commissioner for Home and Community Based Services, part of the agency that oversees KanCare.
“I think everybody in the system is doing the best job they can do to provide the people services,” Haehn said.
In August, the department announced it had eliminated a different waiting list — the one for getting physical disability services. That claim has been challenged by advocates, who say many people were dropped from the list without notice.
But state officials say the progress that’s been made in speeding up the start of services for KanCare applicants who have physical disabilities demonstrates that the agency can get results.
Haehn did acknowledge that cases like Nick Fugate’s, of developmental disability, are more expensive and complicated than physical disability cases. It will take time, he said, to come up with $1.5 billion — the state’s share of a $2.6 billion program — that’s needed to make sure that, at least through 2025, everyone qualified for these important services can get them without having to wait.
“Nothing would make me happier than to write a check and give all these people services, but that’s just not reality,” Haehn said. “So I have to deal with what reality is and try to use the money that I have to effect positive change in the most people.”
But Ron Fugate said KanCare had its chance. “We’re not treading water, we’re drowning,” he said. Families like his are quickly losing lifelong savings, he said, and their life situations are getting worse while they wait for the state to provide services.
“It’s not getting any better,” he said. “We’ve got to start taking some serious action on this and get it addressed. We’ve kicked the can down the road too long.”
The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the waiting lists, although it declined to comment for this story.
The ability of the state of Kansas to act may be limited. Gov. Brownback’s tax cuts, which he initiated to boost the economy, have instead blown a hole in the state’s budget, leaving little money to apply to something like reducing the length of the KanCare waitlist.
Meanwhile, Ron Fugate and other advocates have been studying the ways Missouri recently eliminated its waiting list for similar services, in hopes of persuading Kansas legislators to adopt the same strategy.
Ron and his wife are both in their 70s and say they’re now watching their carefully laid plans for their son’s future slip away.
“After 22 years, it looked like he was going to be able to complete a career,” Ron said, “and it didn’t happen that way. All of this comes at a time in our lives where we’re in the waning seasons. We did not anticipate this kind of a challenge at this point.”
Kansas submits its application the federal government to reauthorize KanCare this month.
This story is part of a partnership that includes KCUR, NPR and Kaiser Health News.