Defendant, Doors, Drew, Drama, Debt and Disgrace

After pleading not guilty to conspiracy and fraud charges in Virginia–necessitating a second ankle bracelet, as he is already on house arrest from Robert Mueller indictments in D.C.–disgraced ex-Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort requested charges for false statements and conspiracy money laundering. His attorneys note these two charges are covered in the ongoing federal case.

Manafort has sued the Justice Department for exceeding the scope of the Mueller investigation on collusion with Russia in 2016 by pursuing all possible criminal activity by Manafort under a “blank check” of prosecution.

CNN reports Manafort faces a combined maximum sentence of over 300 years, the majority stemming from the Virginia fraud charges.


Interior secretary Ryan Zinke‘s office (not the secretary himself, the bumbling bureaucracy noted) ordered three (3) sets of double doors for $139,669.68. And that included reusing “existing door handles, locks and latches.”

A spokeswoman blamed  “regulations that require historic preservation and outdated government procurement rules.”

Duke Ellington School of the Arts of Mismanaging Renovation

The doors were last replaced about six years into U.S. nation-building in Afghanistan (2007).

PHOTO: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke addresses criticism of his travel practices before delivering a speech billed as A Vision for American Energy Dominance, at the Heritage Foundation, Sept. 29, 2017, in Washington.

Zinke (above) rode to the rescue (probably not on a charter flight, which he exploits on taxpayer dollars somewhat less frequently than other Trump cabinet members, per ABC News), informing a House committee “we got it down to $75,000” by “manipulating” the contract terms. He did not elaborate.

Taxpayer-backed luxurious travel for multimillionaire “public servants” is back in the news, however. Head Treasury thug Steven Mnuchin put in some tough hours on military jets between spring and fall of 2017. His eight known trips–pried from redacted FOIA requests by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington–topped $995,000.

A source within Treasury who declined to be named told POLITICO that [Mnuchin predecessor Jack] Lew spent $3.25 million on travel expenses in 2016, which, according to the documents obtained by CREW, included 10 international trips using military aircraft, with stops in a combined 25 cities.

CREW notes that Mnuchin’s manifest is far stingier than previous secretary’s, however. He does not mix with commoners.

December Debacle: Stories from the Freezer!!! September 13 and 29: Mnuchin Continues Opulent Employment; Tom Price Priced Out of Trump Administration

Besides reportedly flying commercial not once during his tenure, one example of the former Goldman Sachs hack’s public exploitation is his self-designated Presidential Mission Trip to Miami last June. The original $27,000 FAA aircraft back from the Miami meeting with Mexico’s finance minister lacked a secure phone line, so Mnuchin upgraded to a $45,000 military plane. There were five people on the trip. His own travel office noted “for your awareness, the cost per person on commercial air is approx.: $688 roundtrip.” 

Treasury maintains Mnuchin has been off high-priced military aircraft since a $180,000 journey to the Middle East last October, but will require  jet next week for the G-20 summit in Argentina.

Mnuchin also told Sunday news host Chuck Todd that Trump’s characterization of Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) as “a very low I.Q. individual” was just a “funny name”:

“You know [Trump] likes to put names on people. He did that through the entire presidential election, including all the Republicans that he beat. […] He’s using these vulgarities in the context of a campaign and obviously there were a lot of funny moments in that rally.”


Conor J. Lamb.jpg

Democrat Conor Lamb‘s (above) upset win in a special election to serve the remainder of 2018 for Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district (which is redrawn for the midterms), despite two Trump rallies (including the “Maxine Waters has a low I.Q.” performance), had House Republicans worried.

“If you’re getting outraised [financially], this is a wake up call. Prepare to bear down.”–Steve Stivers (R-OH) 

Trump Dump

[our emphasis]

“Winning is better than losing,” reported Jim Jordan (R-OH), noting failed GOP candidate Rick Saccone‘s loss in a district that overwhelmingly supported Trump in 2016 was “not good.”

The race flowed with evil “outside money.” Although Lamb was boosted by Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and End Citizens United, the bigger story seemed to be Saccone’s $10 million backing from national Republicans.

Libertarian candidate Drew Miller (above) scored about 0.6% of the vote, or double the margin between Lamb and Saccone, after raising $2,000.


Ryan McAvoy, a White House staffer, left his personal email and password at a bus stop, but for Trump allies like Jared Kushner, House Intelligence Committee Democrats can’t rely on idiocy alone to seek out possible Russian collusion on non-official channels of communication. They’re floating subpoenas for the disgraced, temporary security clearance-stripped “Peace in the Middle East” adviser’s (below) transition team messages on “SMS, iMessage, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Signal, Slack, Instagram, and Snapchat.”

Jared Kushner is pictured. | AP Photo

Hillary Updates

Trump ousted secretary of state Rex Tillerson (below, left) and appointed CIA director Mike Pompeo (below that) in his stead.

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Tillerson’s deputy Steve Goldstein (below) was also fired.

Irwin Goldstein.jpg

Current CIA deputy director Gina Haspel is nominated to take Pompeo’s place.

Gina Haspel official CIA portrait.jpg

There were reports (now retracted) that Haspel directed the 2002 waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah (below) at a CIA black site in Thailand.

Abu Zubaydah.jpg

She did oversee Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri‘s (below) waterboarding later that year and order destruction of the tapes of Zubaydah’s torture.


Both men are currently held without charges at Guantanamo Bay.

Senator Rand Paul will filibuster both Haspel and Pompeo’s nominations.


The president wasn’t done. FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe (below), who has been on “terminal leave” since January (using accrued days off to make it until a planned retirement in March), was fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday, less than two days before he would have qualified for a pension, for allegedly not cooperating with an Inspector General.

Retiring FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe

Two days before Christmas, Trump tweeted, “FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits. 90 days to go?!!!”

Apparently, Trump is still sour at McCabe’s involvement in the Hillary Secret Server probe that ended without charges for the former secretary of state. That announcement came from recently-fired FBI chief James Comey.

Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: May 9: FBI Director Comey Fired

There were reports that current FBI head Christopher Wray refused Sessions’ request to fire McCabe back in January.

Trump tweeted early Saturday morning: “Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI – A great day for Democracy. Sanctimonious James Comey was his boss and made McCabe look like a choirboy. He knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI!”

McCabe protested the move as Trump’s ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the [Mueller] special counsel investigation.”

Former CIA head John Brennan, who famously hacked Senator Dianne Feinstein‘s computer attempting to bury a report on American torture, tweeted to Trump:

“When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America…America will triumph over you.”


The National Debt closed at over $21,000,000,000,000 on Thursday. Additionally, within the next decade, interest alone on the debt is projected to top $1 trillion annually–about triple the take of corporate tax in f.y. 2017 (or about 2/3 of the total confiscated in income tax).

Unconcerned Republicans now intend to make permanent some of their newly-enacted cuts to individual tax rates, which currently expire in 2025. The accompanying corporate tax cuts are already permanent, because priorities.


In more local news, Seaside, California teacher, city council member and reserve police officer Dennis Alexander shot up the ceiling and injured three students while leading a firearms safety demonstration. He is now on leave from the police and school positions.

Teacher who accidentally fired gun at school apologizes and thanks community for support

A Glock 21, semi-automatic .45 caliber service pistol was used in the demonstration.

The Seaside High School website lists Anderson as an educator in the career and technical department responsible for introductory classes on fire and police, as well as public safety.

Class resumed after “no major injuries” were discovered. The children’s parents might not have found out, except one boy came home with a bloody shirt and later had part of a slug pulled out of his neck at the emergency room:

​Bullet fragments removed from student's neck

The boy’s father noted: “He’s shaken up, but he’s going to be OK. I’m just pretty upset that no one told us anything and we had to call the police ourselves to report it.”

Although Alexander had taught the class in the past, the weapon itself was apparently banned from school premises. Maybe police get special privileges.


Thanks to our sources:–abc-news-topstories.html

ProPublica’s Retraction Doesn’t Mean Gina Haspel Didn’t Oversee Torture, She Still Totally Did–politics.html

A closer look at who does (and doesn’t) pay U.S. income tax

Trains, Cranes and Blame Games

Housing and Urban Development secretary Ben Carson feverishly tried to cancel a December order of $31,561 in mahogany dining room furniture for his office.

Seal of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.svg


Because the U.S. is on financially sound footing, HUD pumped $1,100 into repairing the existing LBJ-era chairs before ordering the  good stuff (each new chair cost about $1,000).

New blinds for Carson’s office cost $3,400.

Carson blamed his wife, Candy, for the expensive decisions.

Ben & Candy Carson

The Twitter profile photo of “Dr. Ben & Candy Carson”

Meanwhile, senior HUD official Helen Foster, a Treasury employee from the Obama administration who warned Carson of the $5,000 limit on redecorating offices, was reassigned as HUD’s chief FOIA officer last October.

During the Trump transition, acting HUD secretary Craig Clemmensen advised Foster that past administrations “found ways around” the limit.

Foster’s complaint says […] Clemmensen repeatedly told her to “find money” to purchase furniture for Carson’s office and said that “$5,000 will not even buy a decent chair.”

It appears that in her new assignment as FOIA chief, Clemmensen told Foster to circumvent required procedure for two FOIA requests, citing Maren Kasper (below) of the transition team.

[Maren Kasper, Executive Vice President, Ginnie Mae]

Foster was also discouraged from reporting the department’s $10.8 million deficit from 2016 and instructed by Carson to fund a new security system for his Virginia residence (he eventually withdrew the request).

The Carsons denied wrongdoing on Twitter using Psalm 91:4 and noted only the blinds counted toward the $5,000 limit, as the mahogany was a “building expense.”

According to ABC, [t]he Trump administration’s proposed budget recommends an 18 percent decrease in funding for HUD, including a decrease in funds intended to help low income individuals pay their rent.

The agency’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2019 is over $41,000,000,000 according to their website.


D.C. “streetcars”: do they not have enough Congresspeople’s children driving for Lyft while illegally sporting official tags?

The dirty district has fielded a fleet of free rides for the public since 2016 (it was initially supposed to launch in 2009), but needs to replace all the cars–at a cost of at least $25 million–starting in 2021. The existing $200,000,000 vanity project cannot repair its existing cars, because the only spare parts manufacturer is in another country. Therefore, repair parts “will likely require reverse engineering” according to D.C.’s department of transportation.

The 2.4-mile route runs exactly parallel to an existing bus route.

Another eight miles to Georgetown is planned, projected to cost $400 million.

CityLab alleges the line of public extortion is good for the city:

If economic development rather than moving people around were the only metric for the streetcar’s success, it would be viewed as an unequivocal triumph. Between June of 2010 and January 2018, the median home value in the Near Northeast neighborhood, which encompasses a significant part of the line, jumped from $441,000 to $705,000, according to Zillow, an increase 10 percent greater than the District overall during that period. Massive new apartment buildings and condos have significantly boosted the density of the neighborhood in recent years.


The Supreme Court ruled 5-3 in Jennings v. Rodriguez that immigrants, whether illegal or permanent legal residents, are not entitled to periodic bond hearings and may be detained indefinitely. Elena Kagan recused herself.

Obama reportedly did not like the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal’s verdict that detained immigrants and asylum seekers are entitled to bond hearings every six months, and kicked the case to the Supreme Court.


Carl Icahn in 2014.

Trump adviser Carl Icahn sold over $31 million in Manitowoc Company Inc. stock seven days prior to the president’s inane announcement that American steel imports will suffer a 24% tariff.

Manitowoc, which makes cranes, lost about $8 per share following the tariff announcement. Icahn had unloaded nearly 1 million shares.


The Florida high school massacre on February 14 continues to fuel our betters in the media. Delta Airlines made perhaps the biggest splash–not in one of their routine emergency landings, but by ending their discount program for National Rifle Association members traveling to the lobby’s annual convention.

USA Today noted that just 13 passengers ever used the discount, (estimated at about 10% off ticket price).

That didn’t stop the Georgia legislature from ripping a jet fuel tax break from its tax legislation–an estimated loss of $40 million for the shoddy Atlanta-based airline, whose breakup with NRA was perceived as an affront to the 2nd Constitutional amendment.

Proponents of the retaliatory move included Republican Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle (below), who is running to succeed his boss Nathan Deal.

Casey Cagle

According to Reuters, Delta is “review[ing] [the] end [of] group discounts for any group of a politically divisive nature.” CEO Ed Bastian insists “our values are not for sale” and insinuated legislature members first threatened the airline with nixing the tax break to get them to reinstate the NRArrangement.

Delta’s even more overpriced rival United Airlines also ended its NRA convention discount.

Meanwhile, FedEx announced it would retain its 26% shipping discount for NRA Business Alliance members. ThinkProgress reported what they characterize as “rule bending”: “Some [FedEx] customers have been approved for an exception to ship firearms with a 2-day (AM or PM) service,” a confidential internal document revealed.

Apparently, the decrepit United States Postal Service will rarely ship firearms at all, leaving most of the market to UPS and FedEx. While the latter two private companies require overnight shipping on all firearms, FedEx reportedly saves self-defense (or child assault?) enthusiasts some coin…by allowing them to wait an additional day for their weapon.

Documents obtained by CNN show cops were called to Nikolas Cruz's (pictured) home more times than originally thought.

The massacre allegedly perpetrated by Nikolas Cruz, 19 (above), at his former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL left 17 dead. The fallout continues, from a math teacher accused of locking his students out of the classroom to public flailing of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI .

Sheriff Scott Israel (below) is especially [TRIGGER WARNING FOR TRIGGER WARNING] [TRIGGER WARNING] under fire for the 45 police visits to Cruz’ adoptive mother’s house over the past 10 years.

Documents obtained by CNN show cops were called to Nikolas Cruz's home more times than originally thought. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel pictured above.

Daily Mail reported the disgraced law man is now preemptively characterizing the suspect (who has reportedly confessed, but not yet been tried) as “killer” and downplaying the number of police contacts:

‘Since 2008, BSO responded to 23 incidents where previous contact was made with the killer or his family. STOP REPORTING 39; IT’S SIMPLY NOT TRUE,’ a statement from the sheriff’s office said on Saturday. 

CNN obtained the figure of 45 police visits.

Neighbor Joelle Guarino (below) finally buzzed 911 herself in 2016 after seeing Cruz’ Instagram threat to [TRIGGER WARNING“shoot up a school.”

Meanwhile, former neighbor Joelle Guarino (pictured) is speaking out to detail Cruz's disturbing behavior growing up

Cruz reportedly threw a rock at Guarino’s own son several years ago and dissected toads on her lawn.

Lynda Cruz died in November of pneumonia.

FBI director Christopher Wray bit the bullet on February 16, admitting his agency not only dropped the ball in September when a blogger alerted Mississippi agents to Cruz’ YouTube comment–this is very subtle–“I am going to be a professional school shooter”, but also with an anonymous tipster in January:

The […] woman identified Cruz by his full name, his age and where he lived […] then frantically warned about his mental instability, his arsenal of firearms, his posting of assault rifles on social media, his threats to kill himself and other people, and that “he’s so into ISIS,” the notorious Middle East terrorist group.


But the Feds have everything under control now. While Congress waffles on “background checks” and “raising the age to purchase assault weapons” to prevent the few high-profile American mass killings among 15,000-plus murders annually, Pasadena, CA police officer Vasken Gourdikian, 48, is taking matters into his own hands.

Feds charge former Pasadena police spokesman with illegally selling more than 100 guns

The 24-year peace-keeping veteran pleaded not guilty to four felony counts from a grand jury who allege he illegally moved over 100 firearms in the past 3 years for profit.

His special privileges as a police officer included buying more than one handgun every 30 days, skipping the 10-day mandatory waiting period, and access to “off-roster” weapons not available to other civilians.

He has been on paid leave for the past year.

The 62 guns seized from Gourdikian’s home are now listed as “potential forfeited assets.”

Police Take Again Because They Can

Federal Government Resumes “Equitable Sharing” Funding


Trump mused that the government should just confiscate guns without warrants:

“I like taking the guns early,” Trump said during a televised meeting on gun laws at the White House on Wednesday. “To go to court would have taken a long time.”


Mammoth Energy Services (through its parent Cobra) picked up another $500 million in work for rebuilding Puerto Rico’s power grid, bringing its total contract to $945 million. Mammoth can now purchase its own supplies instead of relying on PREPA third party contractors and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.


Thanks to our sources:–abc-news-topstories.html

DC considers plan to replace streetcar fleet, still has no plans to make riders pay

Trump confidant dumped millions in steel-related stock last week

Delta and United abruptly reverse course, sever contracts with the NRA

FedEx won’t drop the NRA so these companies are dropping FedEx

EXCLUSIVE: FedEx’s secret deal with the NRA and the gun industry

Russia Probe Continues While Shulkin Doubles Down


Rick Gates, the former deputy campaign manager for Donald Trump, will cooperate with Robert Mueller's investigation, The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday. (Aaron P. Bernstein via Getty Images)

On Friday, Richard Gates (above, who, according to Wikipedia, goes by “Rick”), formerly of the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee, pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the U.S. and false statements to the FBI during the Justice Department’s investigation of Russian 2016 election interference.

Last October, Gates, 45, was hit with twelve charges related to laundering $30 million with his fellow accused, ousted Trump campaign head Paul Manafort. To these, Gates had pleaded not guilty.

December Debacle: Stories from the Freezer!!! October 23: Podesta Joins the Presidential Party

“Despite my initial desire to vigorously defend myself, I have had a change of heart. The reality of how long this legal process will likely take, the cost, and the circus-like atmosphere of an anticipated trial are too much. I will better serve my family moving forward by exiting this process.” –Richard Gates

He is expected to serve 18 months in exchange for cooperation.

Manafort maintained his innocence. Word on the street is special counselor Robert Mueller of Justice had to flip Gates to nail his longtime associate.

To secure $20 million in fraudulent bank loans, Manafort, 68, emailed PDF files of his company Davis Manafort Inc. to Gates for assistance in converting them to Word documents. Manafort was then able to falsify profits and losses, inadvertantly helping to build the prosecution’s case.

Gates’ other associate, Alex van der Zwaan, 33, (below) on Tuesday pleaded guilty to lying to prosecutors.

Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, 30, (below) pleaded guilty last year to making false statements to the FBI.

Papadopolous Mugshot.jpg


Disgraced VA secretary David Shulkin has sicced his new chief of staff, Peter O’Rourke (below), on the “subversion” offered by critics of the secretary’s reign.

Peter O'Rourke Biography Image

His boss is suddenly very concerned with accountability, O’Rourke told Politico“Those who crossed the line in the past are going to have to be accountable for those decisions.”

Shulkin, touting Trump’s reported blessing to crack some skulls on Tuesday, noted “I don’t think everybody’s going to remain at the VA.” He also referred to the infamous Federal neglect of veterans as “my operation.”

Thanks to our sources:

Who Is Rick Gates?

ICE, IRS, VA and the Russia Thing

A chief counsel at ICE, Raphael Sanchez, resigned Monday after his four-year scheme of stealing seven immigrants’ identities and spending $190,000 on credit cards and Amazon accounts opened in their names was exposed.

This required forging social security cards and drivers licenses from the ICE database. Not to be confused with the Vigilant database ICE now accesses for new prey:

Refrigerators, ICE and Ex-Im Updates

(Accolades are in order for Alameda, CA, whose residents recently nixed a $500,000 contract for a Vigilant license plate reader network.)

The 44-year-old Seattle-based lawyer, whose job description is “immigration removal proceedings in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington”,  claimed three illegal immigrants as dependents on his tax returns with impunity, but got pinched when he used a Chinese national’s permanent resident card to pay his electric bill.

Through his own lawyer, Sanchez offered “sincere and immense regret” and pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. His recommended sentence is four years.


Despite Pentagon comptroller David Norquist echoing military leaders’ “pleading” with Congress to save $2,000,000,000 PER YEAR by closing “tens of thousands of excess military bases around the world” [our emphasis], our entitled representatives have so thoroughly refuted the move that Defense didn’t even broach the subject in their 2019 budget request. According to Washington Times, the improbable decision to conduct a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) is out of the question this election year.

The last BRAC round occurred in 2005 and took a decade to complete. It is estimated to have cost $24 billion and the Pentagon estimates it will save about $4 billion per year.

The House Armed Services Committee dismissed the Pentagon’s request last year, because America was founded on the basis of a stifling cent Federal government whose chief objective is to provide military and contracting jobs indefinitely.


As the IRS gears up for tax season, they’re dogged by the independent Taxpayer Advocate Service‘s damning details of last year’s effort to recover $920 million that was mistakenly not confiscated. Private collection agencies and IRS itself were allowed to pocket 25% commissioneach–of what they scored for the Feds.

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IRS’ target group unfortunately included many struggling taxpayers. The 4,100 targets had a median household income of $41,000 (national median last year was $59,039, according to the Census Bureau); 28% made less than $20,000, and some received Social Security, making them ineligible for shakedown by IRS ground rules.

19% were below the federal poverty level.

Of those bullied into “installment agreements” by the collectors, 45% could not afford to make the payments because they had income that was less than their allowable living

According to the report obtained by ThinkProgress, the agencies got paid for accounts actually settled by IRS:

The IRS is aware that it is paying commissions to [collection agencies] with respect to work done by the IRS, but has
no plans to change its procedures to attempt to identify payments that were clearly not attributable to [agencies]…

[our emphasis]

Also, the initiative cost $20 million but recovered just $7 million.

A revenue-neutral FairTax, collected with every purchase to punishe consumption rather than production, eliminating the IRS, is still out of the question.


Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: May 10: IRS Takes From Little People; Squander Millions on Unused Email, Faulty Fraud Detection

The Department of Veterans Affairs is back under the microscope.

Last week’s Office of Inspector General report scrutinized VA secretary David Shulkin (below) for attending the Wimbeldon tennis tournament–and stopping in Copenhagen, Denmark–last July in conjunction with the London Ministerial Summit on Veterans’ Affairs.

A portrait of David Shulkin, secretary of the Department

The Obama-appointed Undersecretary is the only Trump nominee to wield unanimous 100-0 consent from the Senate from his 2017 confirmation to head VA.

Washington Post, who apparently got the story first in September, noted Shulkin previously denied reaching out to Prince Harry’s 2016 Invictus Games head Victoria Gosling to poach the tennis tickets (worth thousands on the street). It turns out Shulkin did exactly that, and got served when OIG found Gosling could not come up with the first name of Shulkin’s wife, Dr. Merle Bari. This did not match Shulkin’s story that Gosling was a friend, so the exchange did not require ethics clearance.

Dr. Bari proved to be a very expensive add in add on to the delegation, adding $4300 in plane tickets alone to the $122,000, 11-day European extravaganza funded by the VA’s taxpayer-provided budget. Her status as “invitational traveler” cleared the VA ethics office just two weeks after her husband directed the agency to determine “essential” travel to “decrease employee travel and generate savings.”

Shulkin (2016 net worth: $17 million) repaid the government for Bari’s ticket.

A member of the security team’s expense voucher included “an inexplicable $3,825 overpayment for airport parking and a $2,718 overpayment for lodging.”

The report mentions another unusual expense: VA had official “Trip Book” itineraries printed for the entourage, 15 copies at a cost of $100 each.

December Debacle: Stories from the Freezer!!! September 13 and 29: Mnuchin Continues Opulent Employment; Tom Price Priced Out of Trump Administration

The best part? Shulkin’s chief of staff Vivieca Wright Simpson (below) resigned Friday after altering emails to VA’s ethics lawyer to suggest Shulkin received an award on the trip’s Denmark leg (which would have justified his wife’s traveling at taxpayer expense). OIG, of course, found Shulkin had no idea of the malfeasance.


(Wright Simpson flew in economy class, but changed her connecting city, adding $2900 to the cost of her ticket.)

Two other staff members indulged in the trip, with six (6) security employees requiring “several additional days of advance travel.” So several of the trip itinerary booklets were apparently extras.

It’s unclear if Shulkin has yet rewritten VA hiring guidelines as he promised last December when USA Today found the agency has routinely–in violation of Federal law–employed physicians with revoked medical licenses for the past 15 years.


Besides Shulkin, four other Trump officials are under investigation for lavish travel using government funds. EPA head Scott Pruitt, for example, traveled from Cincinnati to New York on a military plane at a cost of $36,068.50 to catch his first-class flight to Rome, according to CNBC. Pruitt, according to the EPA, is awarded first or business class (for his frequent travel on jumbo jets to spread environmental protection) to avoid repeating past “security threats.” The Hill:

Pruitt has a “blanket waiver” to federal standards that limit officials’ ability to book first-class flights on the taxpayer dime.


Paul Manafort‘s release from house arrest looks even less likely, as Robert Mueller‘s long awaited Russia probe turned up evidence of his “additional criminial conduct…[including]  a series of bank frauds and bank fraud conspiracies.”

December Debacle: Stories from the Freezer!!! October 23: Podesta Joins the Presidential Party

It’s unclear if the still-pending $10 million bail deal will proceed for Manafort’s alleged overstatement of income by his company DMP International to secure a $9.5 million mortgage for his other venture, Summerbreeze LLC. No additional charges are yet filed, and D.C. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson (below) has everyone under gag order as her office aims for an October trial.

Amy Berman Jackson.jpg

On February 16, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein indicted 13 Russian citizens and 3 Russian entities for spreading anti-Hillary and pro-Trump propaganda during the 2016 U.S. Presidential election via (according to Politicoidentity theft, fake accounts, carefully orchestrated trips and outreach, a concerted social media strategy and even real live rallies across the United States secretly planned from Russia.

Specifically: Russian “specialists were instructed to post content that focused on ‘politics in the USA’ and to ‘use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except [Bernie] Sanders and Trump—we support them)[.]”

[our emphasis]

According to The Hill, the Russians sought to suppress support among black voters for Hillary Clinton, creating fake accounts on social platforms including Facebook and Instagram with names like “Blacktivist” and “Woke Blacks” — and suggesting that she was not strong enough on issues germane to African-Americans. 


Thanks to our sources:

IRS paid private debt collectors $20 million to recoup $6.7 million from low-income Americans

FEMA Withdraws Aid Withdrawal Amid Backlash, Raises Stakes with Seedy Power Provider and Drops the Ball on Puerto Rican Food Delivery; Congress Shits on Taxpayers Again; Your Location and Face Broadcast to More Federal Agencies

FEMA threatened to cut Puerto Rico off their particular division of the federal teat at the end of January, congratulating themselves for distributing over 30 million gallons of potable water and nearly 60 million meals since the island was largely destroyed by last autumn’s Hurricane Maria.

Puerto Rico Updates

The agency estimated after pumping $500 million of “public assistance,” and $3.2 million of unemployment aid into the island, just 1% of its inhabitants still require emergency food.

Remaining supplies were transferred to the island’s own disaster agency, Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency (PREMA)–not to be confused with the floundering state-run power supplier, PREPA.

Some far-flung areas of the island were slated to continue suffering. NPR cited Mayor Carmen Maldonado of Morovis, who was not contacted by PREMA regarding the 10,000 citizens of her municipality still dependent on soon-to-evaporate FEMA rations.

Days after that story broke, the Feds sought to save face:

As the New York Times reports, FEMA now claims that it never intended to end the aid and that it has no plans to at this time. Instead, the Jan. 31 cutoff date was “mistakenly publicized by the agency[.]”

If it really was a mistake, they might have just sacked an employee for pressing the wrong button and promptly reassigned him to continue soaking the taxpayers with his “public service.”

Rather, the hapless agency apparently folds on deadlines at the first hint of (justified) taxpayer discontent. And believe anything disreputable contractors say:

Those millions of FEMA meals may not have included 30 million promised by Tiffany Brown (below) of Tribute Contracting LLC in Atlanta in her October 3 bid. (At $5.10 per meal, Tribute was the lowest bidder.)

Brown bagged (pun alert) one of the biggest contracts for brown bag meals to send to the island (only they didn’t include the required heating pouches, which would have made them fancier than traditional brown bag lunches): $156 million for 30 million meals. At the mid-October deadline for the first 18.5 million, Brown’s one-woman operation had delivered…none. 

Apparently, she farmed the job out to a subcontractor: an eleven-person caterer down the road (who curiously managed anonymity across multiple media outlets). They did have the heating pouches, however:

PHOTO: A photo in Tribute Contracting, LLCs contract with a catering company show examples of self heating meals that include a meal in one pouch with a food heater, water pouch, cutlery, and seasonings.

The caterers weren’t too interested in working either, it appears. Tribute was fired.

“My biggest mistake was not asking for more help.”–Tiffany Brown

Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) of the House Oversight Committee noted this is Brown’s sixth terminated Federal contract. Four were failures to deliver food to the Federal Prison System. The fifth fuck-up came in 2016 for the Government Printing Office, who issued a decision in 2016 that “no agency in the executive branch” would enter contracts with Tribute until 2019. But FEMA said […]that exclusion only applied to GPO.

The GPO angle is interesting: the feckless Feds only banned Tribute from contracts over $35,000, and only until January 2019. And all Tribune did to GPO was fail to put the Marine Corps logo on both sides of some tote bags. Wait. New York Times:

An investigation by [GPO]’s inspector general found that Tribute “altered and submitted a false shipping document and subcontracted the predominant production function on two contracts without proper authorization,” according to a 2015 report submitted to Congress.

Which doesn’t explain why GPO returned to Tribute for the tote bags a year later.

FEMA never gave Brown any money. She is now suing the government for $70 million in debt accrued for the 50,000 meals she managed to almost deliver.

Brown told FEMA officials in an email exchange on Oct. 19 that, because of issues with suppliers, all 30 million meals would instead be delivered by November 7 – two weeks after the deadline.

She told ABC News on Friday that the original schedule in the contract was flexible and that she had been communicating with FEMA officials about the changes.

You can check out her website, but we took some screenshots just in case she stumbles upon some shame and takes it down:

Brown, who reportedly lost family in FEMA’s other notable success story, Hurricane Katrina, spoke with ABC on Friday:

“I think there’s a lacking of seeing the human aspect of everyone, the human aspect of the citizens of Puerto Rico and how they feel, the human aspect of the business owners trying to support them just trying to help out maybe that doesn’t have the larger infrastructure but out of the kindness of their own heart they want to be able to help they’re not seeing the human aspect they’re only seeing a lowest possible bid or trying to meet a budget and not about the people.”

She also fingered “a lack of infrastructure, particularly payment infrastructure on FEMA’s part.”

It appears the 50,000 meals (which actually made it to Jacksonville, FL for shipment before FEMA pulled the plug) actually came from Brown’s other partner, the non-profit Breedlove. Not to drag them into this, but their website is here.


As we noted above, Cobra Acquisitions may be picking up the slack. Nasdaq reported the subsidiary of Oklahoma City-based energy giant Mammoth (which is reportedly flirting with serious self-enrichment if the new Puerto Rico power grid is built to run on fossil fuels)…more than doubled its contract to rebuild the Puerto Rican power grid on January 28, from the $200 million already invested in quarter four of 2017 to a cool $445 million.

PREPA requested FEMA clear the contract as “reasonable” and “in compliance with emergency procurement provisions of Puerto Rico;” the federal agency obliged in late December.


Everyone knows the only solution to government incompetence is to pour more confiscated taxpayer cash onto the fire. So last week, as the seventeen-day stopgap fizzled out and the Feds ran out of borrowing power for the second time this year, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) huddled to further destroy the livelihood of their subjects employers.

Wading through the details, the disgustingly unaffordable package funds the Federal government for at least another month.

It blows through the 2011 Budget Control Act‘s limit on domestic spending by $57,000,000,000$117 billion more than Trump requested.

Military spending will swell to $700 billion this year, a monstrous 13% increase from 2016, if our numbers are correct.

In Defense of Defense

It bumps up to $716 billion  for 2019.

$90 billion for hurricane and wildfire relief was shoved in there, which sounds generous if you don’t factor in that the victims of these disasters now have more debt to pay off when McConnell and Schumer are long dead.

Some choice goodies that were slipped in, according to New York Times, include: tax credits to prop up renewable energy (it’ll be cheaper and safer for everyone, just wait); extension of a tax break for racehorse owners; exemption from a new college investment income excise tax for the non-tution-charging Berea College (conveniently located in McConnell’s state of Kentucky); funding for abstinence-only sex ed (can’t trust condoms, guys); repeal of $1.35 billion for an Obamacare public health program; repeal of Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board, which ostensibly controls Medicare spending; faster implementation of shrinking the Medicare Part D “doughnut hole;” and extension of temporary subsidies to rural hospitals and underserved areas’ health provider tuition loans.

And also billions for the VA, billions for NIH, billions for community health centers, billions for “infrastructure”…all of which Vox suggests will yield major fiscal stimulus.

The deal did not address protections for DACA recipients, the catalyst for last month’s Federal shutdown (and a vote McConnell had promised Schumer to end the impasse). Like the rest of the country, these people appear to be utterly disregarded by McConnell’s rabid lust for accumulating debt. Schumer forgot his earlier advocacy as well:

“After months of legislative logjams, this budget deal is a genuine breakthrough,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “After months of fiscal brinksmanship, this budget deal is the first real sprout of bipartisanship.”

He proclaimed the deal has consigned “the pointless and arbitrary sequester caps to the ash heaps of history.”

A speed bump emerged when Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) forced a procedural delay because the leadership would not allow any amendments to the fiscal depravity. While railing against idiotic government grants (including $700,000 studying whether Neil Armstrong inserted an extra “a” in his famous moon landing line, and coming up empty), Paul pointed out Republicans famously struck the Budget Control Act merely to slow down the rate of spending growth, and decried each and every deficit from the Obama administration.

The 2018 deficit, with this added $300 billion, is projected at $955 billion. Trillion-dollar deficits have become typical since George W. Bush in 2008. shows how much we’ve added to our over $20,600,000,000,000 in national debt in each of recent years (which is slightly divorced from deficit).

“The reason I’m here tonight is to put people on the spot,” Paul said. “I want people to feel uncomfortable. I want them to have to answer people at home who said, ‘How come you were against President Obama’s deficits, and then how come you’re for Republican deficits?'”

Paul’s fellow Republicans were pissed, as several are up for re-election this year and all reportedly wanted to start the weekend early. The most bone-headed reaction to Paul’s pragmatism came from our favorite crony cow, Lindsey Graham:

“It appears ‘General’ @RandPaul is at it again. He just called for the immediate withdrawal of all forces from Afghanistan as a way to give the US military a pay raise,” Graham tweeted. “Fortunately, only ‘General’ Paul — and the Taliban – think that’s a good idea.”

[America has been in Afghanistan, killing and being killed, without declaring war, for over 16 years.]

CNBC noted:

The vast majority of the Republican lawmakers who are opposing the budget agreement, including Paul, voted for the GOP tax law. The massive tax cuts are estimated to add more than $1 trillion to budget deficits over 10 years, even after economic growth is taken into account, according to the CBO.

The bill eventually passed early Friday morning, 71-28, and technically shuttered the government for several hours before the House could ram it through and get it to Trump to sign. It’s unclear if anyone read all of the nearly 700 pages.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi gave a House-record eight-hour speech advocating for DACA protections, largely reading testimony from Dreamers (DACA recipients) threatened with deportation next month, as the program was not extended by the crooked Schumer-McConnell generational theft. Pelosi voted against the bill, but it passed the House 240-186.


As we boosted the defense budget with fake money we don’t have, it emerged as the Pentagon undergoes its first-ever audit that its own Defense Logistics Agency (annual budget: $40 billion) lost track of $800 million in construction projects.

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The outside firm Ernst & Young who discovered the glaring errors (and warned more will be uncovered) are just one of the third party consultants who comprise $367 million of the nearly $1 billion audit. Politico reports the rest is to go back and fix broken accounting systems that are crucial to better financial management.


Customs and Border Protection continues to safeguard your liberties…by expanding locations at which it scans your face. To better patrol the U.S.-Mexican border, the McAllen, TX checkpoint will now catalog the face of every driver and passenger. About time:

The agency will use the results of the South Texas effort to set the stage for a wider rollout along the southern and northern borders, where the technology someday could be used to identify fugitives or wanted terror suspects. Customs and Border Protection already operates facial recognition exit programs at nearly a dozen international airports, including Houston’s, aimed at making sure travelers are who they say they are.

Traveler acceptance is really high, and we can thank the Apples and the Googles for that,” said Colleen Manaher, CBP executive director of planning, program analysis and evaluation, in an interview at the Border Security Expo in San Antonio, where she revealed the Anzalduas project. “It’s a game-changer.”

Summer Part 1: Stories We Shelved!!! March 10, 19 and 22–Genes, Tattoos and Faces

[our emphasis]

Colleen Manaher

Manaher (above) called the prospect of getting her grubby fingers on identification of just 50 percent of faces crossing the Port Anzalduas bridge “a home run.”


And in the wonderful state of Kansas,

Kansas: Helpful Public Servants and Meddlesome Neighbors

December Debacle: Stories from the Freezer!!! December 12: Kansas Lawsuit Settled


the two-party duopoly cracked down on attempts by the country’s debt-laden youth to gain representation.

After six teenage boys filed to run in this year’s gubernatorial election, the state House committee swiftly passed a bill from Rep. Blake Carpenter (R) requiring candidates to be “qualified electors”–that is, at least 18 years old, and able to vote.

The bill, which would not take effect until after the election, was reportedly co-drafted by Libertarian candidate Ethan Randleas (who happens to be 18). It is lauded as TRIGGER WARNINGcommon sense” by 17-year-old Tyler Ruzich (Republican candidate) and slammed as “reactionary” and “disenfranchis[ing]” by Jack Bergeson, 17 (Democratic candidate).


It’s turning into a rocky year even for Kansans who are eighteen or older: renewing a drivers license may require residents to obtain new social security cards if their middle initial, not their full middle name is currently displayed; new state-issued birth certificates if all they have is a hospital document; and a marriage license, if they’ve ever changed their name. This will transform one’s license into a Federal Real ID.

Secure driver’s licenses and identification documents are a vital component of a holistic national security strategy.

–DHS website, our emphasis

The Federal Real ID Act was passed over 12 years ago on recommendation from the 9/11 Commission, but, like Common Core, has faced massive public opposition. It mandatory compliance has therefore been extended for various states (yellow, below).

On October 10, residents of non-compliant states will no longer be granted access to airports or military bases with their state-issued drivers license.

The veil is sliding off DHS’s threat to states refusing to funneling all your passport, birth certificate, marriage license and other ID info into a single police state card with a literal TRIGGER WARNING gold star  (they’re calling it a yellow star, for obvious reasons) that can pool all surveillance of your life at the filthy fingertips of the Federal agent manning the bar code reader:

It has been 12 years since the REAL ID Act was passed and half of all the states have already met the REAL ID minimum standards. It is time that the remaining jurisdictions turn their commitments to secure identification into action.

[our emphasis]

Fortunately, according to Charlotte Observer in 2016:

By 2010, more than 25 state legislatures had passed laws criticizing or refusing to comply with the law.

Kansas is currently “in compliance” until 2020. The Feds are signaling that for other, less obedient states that later this year,

Thanks to our sources:

Refrigerators, ICE and Ex-Im Updates

Trump is under fire for his proclivity to keep food cold.

The Guardian tore into two new refrigerators slated for installation on Air Force One, replacing the current 1990 installations for $23.7 million.

The military apparently requires the jumbo 747’s five coolers to carry 3,000 meals.

Lost in the food fight is Boeing (the largest corporate welfare cow of the Export-Import Bank), who scored the culinary contract last year to install the fridges on their own 747 model and deferred reporters’ questions to Air Force One.


As we have previously reported, the infamous Ex-Im backs loans for foreigners and sticks American taxpayers with the bill.

Ex-Im Bank Updates

According to this recent rosy budget request, the agency “operates at no cost to taxpayers,” “supports 180,000 jobs” in 2018, and generates $492.2 million in deficit-reducing receipts” (about half of 1% of fiscal year 2018’s projected deficit of over $1,000,000,000,000).

This apparently justifies their $95.5 million demand for operating expenses.

In Ex-Im’s defense, the 2018 request reduces their staff by 15 (fifteen!) full-time employees, and shrinks the operating budget 17.7% compared to fiscal year 2017. Which isn’t that difficult when you justify your existence with net income to the Treasury, then pocket a paltry (by Washington standards) budget.

But there are bigger fish to fry (cooling the leftovers in the president’s new refrigerators).

Ex-Im, which dodged dismantling in late 2016, still lacks a quorum on its board of directors to approve loans over $10,000,000. (Recall Ex-Im’s primary objective is to help small businesses actually located in America.)

Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: June 29: Michigan Congressman Bucks Party on Ex-Im Bank

Scott Garrett is pictured. | AP Photo

Trumps’ pick to lead Ex-Im, former New Jersey Congressman Scott Garrett (above) didn’t even make it out of the Senate Banking Committee vote in December, much less to full Senate confirmation. Garrett twice voted against reauthorizing Ex-Im while in Congress and faced opposition from U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Acting chairman and president, Obama appointee Charles Hall, left in December, lamenting the lapse in fee collections due to a backlog of bigger loans for lack of quorum (which Hall exacerbated by leaving): “If we don’t get a board, probably sometime in 2018 I would anticipate that we would cease to be self-sustaining.”

The government website shows three of the seven board positions currently filled. No quorum for you!

Image result for soup nazi

Interestingly, Delta Airlines spent millions lobbying against the Ex-Im reauthorization in recent years (though they were outspent 7 to 1 by Boeing). Apparently, European countries are tempted to buy Airbus (the only other double-wide jumbo jet manufacturer in the world) if U.S. taxpayer-backed loans are not offered for Boeing contracts.

Delta’s beef is the Ex-Im guarantees save international competitors like Air India enough on borrowing for jets that they can slash ticket prices and siphon Delta customers.


Meanwhile, NBC spotlighted Scott Daniel Warren, a volunteer at No More Deaths, who was arrested January 17 for allegedly lavishing a pair of illegal immigrants with food and shelter in Ajo, AZ.

Carlos Diaz, a division chief of ICE’s Customs and Border Protection, denied the arrest was related to a video the non-profit released earlier that day, which showed CBP agents dumping water jugs left in the treacherous stretch of desert for illegal immigrants to consume. Diaz alleges agents are instructed to leave water jugs intact.

Should immigrants evade death, their movements will be newly scrutinized in a fashion sure to violate the privacy of law-abiding citizens as well.

Vigilant Solutions

ICE recently inked a contract with Vigilant Solutions to tap into 2 billion license plate photos and recordings of 100 million “sightings” (including date, time, and GPS coordinates) monthly. The purpose? Better “law enforcement” of illegal immigrants. (Vigilant also contracts with smaller enforcement agencies, presumably to collar real, dangerous criminals.)

ICE agents would be able to query [the] database in two ways. A historical search would turn up every place a given license plate has been spotted in the last five years, a detailed record of the target’s movements. That data could be used to find a given subject’s residence or even identify associates if a given car is regularly spotted in a specific parking lot.

ICE will get email alerts when a plate they’re watching pops up anywhere Vigilant is installed–on local police dash cams, traffic cams, who knows.

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson reportedly killed a similar program in 2012, presumably because it’s unconstitutional.


Air Surveillance of Baltimore Little People

Homeland Security reassured the horrified public that while ICE gets flags for anything tagged by Vigilant, none of ICE’s ham-handed enforcement terrorizing of non-citizens will flow back to Vigilant. (Probably convenient for ICE.)

How this private-sector database of citizens and non-citizens’ movements will be shared or disseminated with other Federal thugs remains to be seen.

Thanks to our sources:

NSA’s FISA Festivities Extended with Bipartisan Support; Rest of Government Fights for Funding–Updated with Related FBI Dereliction of Duty

In a two-hour marathon vote January 16,  a visibly humiliated Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell scraped together 60 votes to vote on the six-year re-authorization of FISA Section 702 without allowing amendments.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 gives the NSA authority to ignore the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution and collect phone logs of all Americans, as revealed by Edward Snowden in 2013, because they could all be terrorists.

Claire McCaskill (D-MO), up for re-election this November, fought flu symptoms to cast the sixtieth vote to forgo any debate of the re-authorization and advance to a final vote.

That January 18 vote exceeded the simple majority required, flipping four senators who had advocated debate to “yea”–Ted Cruz (R-TX), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Jerry Moran (R-KS),  Chuck Schumer (D-NY)–and picking up Dan Sullivan (R-AK), who missed the filibuster vote:

Trump signed the bill January 19, proclaiming on Twitter: “Just signed 702 Bill to reauthorize foreign intelligence collection. This is NOT the same FISA law that was so wrongly abused during the election. I will always do the right thing for our country and put the safety of the American people first!”

This represented quite a reversal from his January 11 tweet, in which he quoted a headline: “[‘]House votes on controversial FISA ACT today.[‘] This is the act that may have been used, with the help of the discredited and phony Dossier, to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign by the previous administration and others?”

In an exclusive Fox News interview, chief of staff John Kelly assumed credit for changing his boss’s mind:

“I see a man who can change his mind when the facts and data and staff … bring him to a different conclusion.”

The House had passed the matching version of the bill on January 11 by 256-164, after rejecting an amendment by Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Justin Amash (R-MI) to add the barest of privacy protections for American communications “incidentally” caught up in the surveillance of foreign agents for which the secret FISA court that now allows stockpiling all American communications by the Federal Government was originally established.


On January 19, Politico reported NSA was sitting on some surveillance data pertaining to pending lawsuits, “accidentally” destroyed that data, and misled a federal court about their actions.


Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: May 12: NSA, “Exploits,” WannaCry and Whistleblowers

Apparently, in addition to hoarding all our phone logs, NSA is obligated to preserve their ill-gotten, privacy-destroying goodies from our internet traffic, since 2007 when George W. Bush was slammed for warrantless wiretaps of foreigners. How far we’ve come.

But Dr. Mark O. and Elizabeth B. (they’re your employees and they watch you, but you’re not allowed to know their real names) revealed–apparently hours before the above-detailed FISA renewal–that legally-mandated logs of intercepted internet traffic from years 2001 through 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2016 were all deleted. And the backup tapes. Oops.

“The NSA sincerely regrets its failure to prevent the deletion of this data.”

In 2014, Miriam P. reassured the court that legally-must-be-retained data was safe:

The NSA is “preserving magnetic/digital tapes of the Internet content intercepted under the [PSP] since the inception of the program,” she wrote, adding that “the NSA has stored these tapes in the offices of its General Counsel.”

The agency now says, “regrettably,” that the statement “may have been only partially accurate when made.”

The latest NSA filing says the ongoing investigation indicates that officials did a “physical inspection” in 2014 to confirm the tapes’ presence in the counsel’s office storage space. However, “those tapes largely concerned metadata,” not the content of communications the NSA intercepted.

[our emphasis]


The continued collection of all Americans’ communications without a warrant (despite petty assurances from McConnell, after dragging the bill over a bipartisan filibuster, that the six-year renewal “does not allow the targeting of American citizens”) took precedence over shielding DACA participants from deportation. And funding the government itself, which shut down all “non-essential functions” on January 20.

Obama Proposes Addressing Debt After He’s Gone and Collecting Pension in Hawaii

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Members of Congress, hiding behind the 27th Amendment, will continue to cash paychecks.

The House passed a band-aid bill to fund the government for four weeks and renew CHIP, a recently-expired insurance program for children ineligible for Medicaid, but the Senate rejected it, largely at the behest of of Democrats, leading to many Republicans, including Trump’s press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, dubbing the debacle the “Schumer Shutdown,” despite the minority leader (below) offering Trump two bipartisan deals Friday morning (after assuring all citizens’ phone and email data was still open for Federal probing).

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, after meeting with President Donald Trump on Friday.

Schumer even admitted on the Senate floor he had offered to entertain Trump’s border wall in one proposed bill in exchange for the DACA protections.

Priority one: taking. Priority two: watching.

BuzzFeed, incidentally, spoke with a former NSA employee, who lamented that the agency’s contractor morale will suffer, because they could be vacationing in nicer weather if not for the uncertainty of furlough. The headline literally used the word “suffering.”)


UPDATE 1/21/18:

It was quite a weekend for government security dropping the ball. Reuters noted the FBI lost some text messages probing Hillary’s Secret Server.

Agent Peter Strzok and attorney Lisa Page reportedly dragged on a text convo from just after Trump’s election through last May. The FBI fingered its “technical system” for “failing to preserve” missives that may have focused D.C. on the newly-inaugurated president–and away from the criminal behavior of his rival.

Republicans have said the texts, which referred to Trump as an “idiot” and a “loathsome human,” raised concerns the FBI is biased against Trump and may have given Clinton favorable treatment after deciding not to recommend criminal charges in connection with the probe into her use of a private email system while she was secretary of state.

Page and Strzok (below) both did time on Robert Mueller‘s squad to investigate Trump’s possible collusion with Russia to win the White House. Strzok was reassigned as soon as Mueller learned of the texts; Page finished work for the probe in July. It’s unclear whether either was vetted for impartiality to work for the Special Counsel.

peter strzok, lisa page

Fox News reported Page texted Strzok following Loretta Lynch‘s sleazy meeting with Hillary’s husband during the investigation:

“It’s a real profile in couragw [sic], since [Lynch] knows no charges will be brought.”

Days later, Hillary was cleared by then-FBI director James Comey.


According to Heavy:

“God Hillary should win 100,000,000 – 0,” Strzok wrote to Page, according to one message obtained by Politico. “Also did you hear [Trump] make a comment about the size of his d*ck earlier? This man can not be president,” Page responded, Politico reported.

Thanks to our sources:

Peter Strzok’s Texts & Emails to Lisa Page Revealed: READ

Irma Survivors Murdered

A Federal Government contractor killed two men in a botched robbery.

Squeezed between hurricanes Harvey and Maria last year, Hurricane Irma laid as much as $190 billion of damage on America, destroyed large parts of Caribbean islands like Barbuda, and killed at least 72 Floridians (including, for example, victims of a nursing home without power and carbon monoxide poisoning from emergency generators).

FEMA to the rescue!!!

Gerjuan Jackson (below, left), 18,  dispatched by the Feds to perform the work they take your taxes to ostensibly perform themselves, assessed the Polk County, FL home of William Reiss (below, right) for Irma damage last year and apparently returned two weeks later to purchase a pair of pistols from the 68-year-old for $800.

Gerjuan Jackson, 18, was arrested for killing Reiss, whose home he assessed after the devastating storm.  

After he was collared in Alabama for traveling strapped without a gun permit last November, Jackson brought Kenley Campbell (below), 22, and Darril Rankin (below), 22, back to the Florida residence to lift the rest of Reiss’s firearms on January 3.

Campbell and Rankin are accused of helping boost up to 25 firearms from Reiss' home.

Reiss and his roommate Kenneth Maier (below), 57, were home. So Jackson (who has already confessed) plugged Reiss four times and wounded Maier. Maier, loaded with at least three bullets, reportedly flagged down a passing motorist in the driveway to save his friend. Both men eventually died.

Jackson and his friends loaded 25 guns and a flat-screen TV into Reiss’s truck, which they promoted for extra capacity. Most of the guns were sold on the street in Alabama and later recovered by the Feds.

The Polk County sheriff alleges Jackson told the friends en route that he intended to kill Reiss.

The three suspects are from Mobile, AL. Campbell and Rankin were pinched on January 6 and sold out Jackson, who was captured January 9.


FEMA, a $14 billion behemoth bureaucracy best known for mismanaging the aftermath of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, offered a “not our fault” statement, according to WFLA:

“FEMA is aware of an alleged incident that occurred in Polk County, Florida, and are looking into additional details on this matter. Our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of the victims.

FEMA’s Inspection Services are handled by contracted firms, and not FEMA employees. Currently, FEMA contracts with two private sector companies for disaster survivor home inspections. Questions about individuals employed within those contracted companies, or those companies’ hiring practices, must be pursued through their individual contractors. FEMA works closely with law enforcement on a regular basis, and will provide appropriate coordination with law enforcement on this incident.”

FEMA logo.svg

Contracting out work to others who then contract to fourth parties to ensure your disaster rebuild since 1979!

The FEMA contractor is Vanguard Emergency Management, who blame-shifted by citing Jackson’s successful FEMA background check. They confirmed his contract with Vanguard ran from September 14 through November 13.

Jackson and company are expected to be extradited to Florida for first degree murder charges. First, though, Jackson was in Mobile on Tuesday to get charged with: carrying a pistol without a permit, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, and promoting prison contraband. It’s unclear if these all stem from the November incident.


Thanks to our sources:

Sheriff: Alabama FEMA contractor traveled to Polk City, murdered man he met after Hurricane Irma

2nd victim dies after being shot by FEMA contractor in Polk City

Polk County mother shocked to learn man who helped family file FEMA claim arrested for murder

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday, Observed

Jorge Garcia, 39, of Lincoln Park stands at the ticket counter at Detroit Metro Airport checking his bags on Jan. 15, 2018. He was to be deported to Mexico.

Jorge Garcia, 39 (above), a landscaper from Lincoln Park, MI, was removed by ICE to his native Mexico despite the Federal holiday. The undocumented immigrant, brought to America at age 10, leaves behind a wife and two children, all citizens. He has reportedly never committed a crime, and because he paid taxes, Washington will lose some revenue as President Trump encourages removal of law-abiding non-citizens.


Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: July 18: Crime and Punishment

A spokesman for ICE said he could not immediately comment Monday since it was a federal holiday, and their offices are closed.

Supporters of Jorge Garcia hold up signs that read "Stop Separating Families" at Detroit Metro Airport on Jan. 15, 2018. Garcia was being deported to Mexico after living in the U.S. for 30 years.

(But apparently he was still at the office?)

The day of rest and reflection for non-deporting government paper pushers shortened the time frame the Feds are entertaining to pass the next short term spending fix. The cancerous central government’s credit card runs out January 19, and Democrats are pushing to include protections for 800,000 beneficiaries of Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in the last-minute meltdown to continue confiscating.

DACA is scheduled to expire March 5.

Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) told ABC the DACA provisions, which shield certain young immigrants from deportation, must be included to earn his vote on the spending bill.

Meanwhile, Trump is pushing for inclusion of $18 billion to construct a “Great Wall” on the Mexican border.

Yesterday the President tweeted, “DACA is probably dead because the Democrats don’t really want it, they just want to talk and take desperately needed money away from our Military.”

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) reportedly pitched a plan to include border wall funding and extension of DACA at a meeting on January 11, where Trump made a holiday weekend news cycle-dominating remark characterizing African nations, Haiti and El Salvador as “all these shithole countries” that do not contribute useful immigrants to America. Negotiations apparently collapsed shortly thereafter.

While Durbin confirmed Trump’s words, Republican senators at the meeting obscured the story. Tom Cotton of Arkansas denied the remark on Sunday, and seems to currently maintain he does not recall. Lindsey Graham (SC) half-halfheartedly confirmed the president’s words.

Rand Paul (KY), who was not present, lamented the media for blasting Trump as a racist, because it “destroy[ed] the setting…for immigration compromise.”

“I don’t think the comments were constructive at all, but I also think that, to be fair, we shouldn’t draw conclusions that he didn’t intend,” Paul said.

Trump told Twitter today: “Senator Dicky Durbin totally misrepresented what was said at the DACA meeting. Deals can’t be made when there is no trust! Durbin blew DACA and is hurting our military.”

Thanks to our sources:

Puerto Rico Updates

Governor Ricardo Rosselló of Puerto Rico sicced his Justice Department on Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (logo, below), the beleaguered island’s government-owned electric authority. They’re looking for possible crimes against the public interest.

PREPA, who hold a monopoly on the U.S. territory’s electricity, may have hoarded electrical repair supplies as nearly half the island continues without power following Hurricane Maria last October.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and heavily-armed guards raided a PREPA warehouse in Palo Seco last week.

“Critical materials” were reportedly distributed to contractors immediately.

PREPA denied to Associated Press it failed to spring the warehouse contents. The agency is reportedly reneging on its earlier decision to forgo mutual aid agreements with other power authorities to hasten the rebuild. These new partners include utility companies from New York and Florida, according to The Intercept.


December Debacle: Stories from the Freezer!!! November 6: Whitefish Revisited; Bronze Star LLC Bungles Tarps for Puerto Rico

PREPA holds $9 billion of the island’s estimated $120,000,000,000 debt from its 2016 bankruptcy.


I PROMESA You We’ll Default on National Debt

Besides the questionable deals through the mainland Federal disaster assistance we previously uncovered, The Intercept speared another big tuna in the race to profit from government incompetence: Cobra Acquisitions.

Cobra doesn’t have a cool logo to go with its name, but its Oklahoma-based parent oil company, Mammoth, does.

Unlike the [failed] [$300 million] Whitefish contract, the Cobra deal [for $200 million] involved heavy input from the Federal Emergency Management Agency[.]

[our emphasis]

CNN reported in November the cash-strapped PREPA dropped $15 million up front for Cobra’s services, noting the “pay first, get reimbursed by FEMA later” practice is commonplace in disaster cleanups.

Mammoth CEO Arty Straehla reportedly signed the deal to secure “stable cash flow” for his larger company.

Intercept suggests the Cobra deal undermines Puerto Rico’s previous goal to decrease dependence on imported oil, as the private company’s rebuild will further stymie the switch to renewable energy.

Cobra (like Whitefish) was formed just months before the storm hit.


According to Intercept, some of the island’s mayors have given up on the island government and started rebuilding their cities’ grids out of the local budget, through coalitions such as the new Pepino Power Authority–made up of volunteers and retirees. It remains to be seen if Federal overlords will pull the plug.


Thanks to our sources: