Moral Bankruptcy

October 08, 2017 By: El Jefe Category: Trump

One of the rising stories in the war between Trump and Tillerson has underlined the actual issue at the core of this administration – moral bankruptcy.  We all know that Trump is a complete waste of oxygen, a Grade A Shitbag, and every other pejorative one can conjure.  What is he, though, at his essence?  At his center, Trump is totally devoid of any decency or empathy and worse (if that’s even possible), he is morally bankrupt.  The case in point is the disagreement that has been simmering between Trump and Tillerson since the beginning of this train wreck; Trump’s desire to legalize bribery.

One of Trump’s core issues is a law that he wants reversed: the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  The FCPA was passed in 1977 in an attempt for the United States to lead the world in reducing what was then blatant corruption and bribery in international business.  The law is enforced by the SEC and DOJ and has greatly reduced corruption because, under the law, business leaders are personally liable should their companies get caught paying bribes.  For years, Trump has railed against the law, calling it a “horrible law and it should be changed.” Trump says that not being able to pay bribes to foreign officials makes us uncompetitive.

Fortunately for us, but unfortunately for Tillerson, Rex disagrees with Trump.  In a White House meeting in February, Tillerson dared to do just that with Trump after he complained about the act, saying that bribery was key to success.  Tillerson stood his ground and even related a story to him about how he refused to bribe a Yemeni state official when he was CEO of Exxon.  The deal got done anyway.

What this story reveals is not only the importance of actual adults like Tillerson, Kelly, Mattis, and others to keep Trump in check, but the critical need that they do so.  Trump is the very definition of corruption.  He is so self absorbed and completely saturated by his corruption that he actually wants to weaken US policy so HE’LL make more money.  Just thinking about having this cretin at the levers of power sends cold chills down my spine.  This man is not only evil; his corruption is a cancer on our society.

This disaster can’t end soon enough; in the meantime, as much as I disagree with Tillerson on any number of policy issues, I also see his value as the last defense against Trump burning down what’s left of our republic.  He, and those like him owe it to the rest of us to stay in place until we can excise this disease from office by either criminal charges and/or resignation.

Texas is a “Free Market” State, Right? No, Not Really.

June 09, 2017 By: El Jefe Category: Holy Crap

All of our glorified politicians and Chamber of Commerce representatives continually crow about Texas being a “free market” state with a “light touch” when it comes to regulations.  But is that really true?  Actually, no.  It’s only free market for those who pay for it.  To wit:

  • You can’t buy a Tesla directly from the company in Texas.  You have to buy it online and have it delivered from California.  Bills to allow direct sales have died 3 times since 2013, killed by big money from the powerful auto dealers lobby to protect their own dealer franchises.
  • Under the same Byzantine laws promoted by Texas auto dealers, Warren Buffett was prevented from keeping his chain of auto dealers in Texas because his company happens to also own an RV manufacturing company in Indiana. Buffett tried to fix the problem, but Teabaggers shut him down and the bill never made it to the floor.  In Texas, manufacturers cannot sell cars.  I know, weird, right?
  • You can’t buy wine online in Texas like you can in most other states.  The powerful liquor lobby controls the governor’s mansion and both houses in the legislature, and has had enacted more Byzantine laws that are inconsistently applied.  These laws treat beer, distilled spirits, and wine differently, with complicated permitting requirements.  A national online distributor, Wines Til Sold Out, recently received a cease and desist letter from the State of Texas and has shut down sales to the state.  Texas consumers lose again.
  • This year, the powerful beer distributor lobby, which has doled out over $11 million to Texas elected officials (Greg Abbott got $1.4 million, and Dan Patrick got $688,000), got a roll back of the beer law passed in 2013 which encouraged small craft brewers to invest in Texas by lifting insanely low limits on how much beer can be made by small brewers and allowing in-brewery sales directly to customers.  That law was so successful that small brewers increased by 3 fold since 2011 drawing the ire of the beer distributors who don’t like competition.  They hate it so much that they got a new law passed this year that limits the size of brewers who can sell directly in their own taprooms.  The limit is a production size of 225,000 barrels in all of their facilities regardless of whether those facilities are actually in Texas.  This shuts down craft beer company Oskar Blues of Colorado, who just spent millions opening a new brewery and tap room in Austin, and also affects Deep Ellum Brewing which is near the 225,000 barrel limit and has already announced that, because of this law, it will now seek to invest in other more friendly states.  Oh, and BTW, mega brewers like Anheuser Busch, Heineken, and Miller-Coors were all given carve outs to the size requirement.  I’m shocked, just shocked, I tell you.  Well, not really.  Oh, and for reference, Anheuser Busch produces about 125 million barrels a year.
  • But it gets worse…In this same law, small craft brewers must pay a per barrel fee to local beer distributors for beer they sell in their own facilities and that is never actually touched by the distributor.  That’s right, folks, the Great State of Texas is so “free market” that it has made a law that allows huge multi-billion dollar distributing companies to freely extort money from small brewers for the privilege for selling their own beer in their own taprooms.  You’re welcome.  This bill is on Abbott’s desk, and if he doesn’t veto it, will become law on June 18th.  With $1.4 million of beer lobby money in his pocket, what do you predict he’ll do?

By now, most of those paying attention know that Texas is not a “free market” state, not in the slightest.  It has been turned into a corrupt banana republic that benefits the wealthy and powerful while trampling on the small businesses all over the state it claims to promote.  But the really weird thing?  Those same business people and consumers who are hurt by this corruption are the very people who support and vote for those who participate in it on a daily basis.

You can only draw one conclusion from these clear facts – voters in Texas are stupid.

 

And the Tide Turns

May 15, 2017 By: El Jefe Category: Comey Firing, Trump

Last week, beginning in the 24 blazing hours following Trump’s sacking of James Comey, the nature of Trump’s incumbency markedly shifted.  It started with the free flowing lies coming from every single one of his surrogates, then continued when the Big Cheeto threw that very same crew under the bus by contradicting his own talking points the next day after the firing.   Also, that same day, all of the networks, including Fox Noise, started using the word “lie”.  The words “chaos”, “turmoil”, and a dozen other descriptors of the Trump WH are now a regular part of network reporting.

Trump then threatened Comey with “tapes” of their conversations, and that was the moment mainstream GOP leadership started to part ways.  The Senate Intelligence committee has now asked the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to turn over documents related to Trump’s businesses.  Why is that significant?  FinCen enforces laws against MONEY LAUNDERING.  Over the years before Trump’s Atlantic City casino finally closed, it was caught several times money laundering.  This shift into serious investigation into his actually business dealings marks a change in emphasis from dark figures like Manafort, Stone, and Flynn to Trump.  That’s not insignificant. Referring to the request, Mark Warner, the ranking member on the committee, said, “[is] our effort to try to follow the intel no matter where it leads.”

There is now talk of Trump cleaning house and “rebooting” his administration.  Apparently, he’s furious with his staff for doing exactly what he’s told them to do, so the rumble is that he’s going to blow up the West Wing and start over.  Even if he does that, his problems are far from being over.  Money laundering? No one, including Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan can ignore that.  Mix in Russian money with that story, and Trump will finally be toast.

Fingers crossed here, but there is a clear shift of support away from Trump.  It can’t come too soon.

There’s a Reason for That

May 01, 2017 By: Juanita Jean Herownself Category: Uncategorized

There’s a newspaper in England called the Daily Mail Online.  They like to report American goings-on because we’re so damn entertaining.

Today they did a story about how Louisiana is the most corrupt state in America.  They have charts, graphs, and big ole pictures.

 

So the cutline under this graph says, “The states with the most public corruption convictions per 100,000 population.”  So, what you have here is not the most corrupt states, but a list of the states actually doing something about corruption.

Texas heads up the bottom quarter on that list only because we don’t indict or convict our crooks. And if we do, they just keep putting off their trial until everybody dies or the law changes.  Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton has been under felony indictment since July of 2015 and from all appearances, he’ll be going to trial after Jesus comes again.

And if we don’t ever get around to indicting them, it’s just easier to send them to Washington, DeeCee to be a congressman or Secretary of Energy or something.

 

In the “No Shoot, Sherlock” Category of Breaking News

April 26, 2017 By: Juanita Jean Herownself Category: Uncategorized

Honey, if “probably” is the best they could do

 

He took money from Russia and Turkey and then didn’t reveal that when he wanted his security clearance back to serve President Trump.

Here’s the Fun With Republican Math part.

Chaffetz stressed that the government ought to “recover the money” that was paid to Flynn by foreign entities — a figure that would at least be in the tens of thousands of dollars.

We know he took $45,000 from Russia and more than $500,000 from Turkey so, yeah that’s tens of thousands.  That’s 545 tens of thousands.

Flynn could face jail time but don’t count on Jeff Sessions to make a big deal of it.  Or to even see it. I don’t even think Sessions even casts a reflection in a mirror at this point.

 

“Spine-ectomy”

March 24, 2017 By: El Jefe Category: Trump

Shockingly, the General Services Administration (GSA) issued a determination letter yesterday that the lease of the old post office in Washington, DC, now known as the Cheeto International Hotel, is VALID, even though it states in plain language in the lease that, “No … elected official of the Government of the United States … shall be admitted to any share or part of this Lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom…”   Stupidly, the letter hides behind the fact that Cheeto Jesus put this business in a trust.  Yes, it is in a trust – a revocable trust, run by his children.

The Daily Beast interviewed George Washington University Professor of Government Procurement Law Steven L. Schooner who said, “Not only is the conclusion unexpected and unpersuasive, as a matter of law, but, as a matter of policy, it is harmful to the integrity—and thus credibility—of GSA, the Presidency, and federal procurement process.” When asked how the GSA could come to the conclusion it did he gave a simple reason, “Spine-ectomy.”

So lets lay this out in plain language – the GSA employee who negotiated the contract, Kevin Terry, has just stated publicly that his boss’s boss, who is in clear, undeniable conflict of interest, is not actually in conflict of interest, even though he is the highest elected official in the land.  It’s basically “Nothing to see here, move along.”

If you had any doubt, this is what creeping corruption looks like.  We are becoming Russia, one lease at a time.