Tag Archives: Mitch McConnell

Band-aids Don’t Fix Bullet Holes or Budgets

What a week in Washington and beyond.

Mohamed Noor was ultimately charged in his alleged slaying of Justine Damond last July. Besides third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges (and a maximum 35 years in prison), the 32-year-old finally earned a termination from the Minneapolis Police Department. Which is interesting, because police chief Janee Harteau was forced out within a month of the incident:

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

Neither Noor [alliteration or repetition coming up? you decide] nor his partner Matthew Harrity had their body cameras running when Noor allegedly shot Damond across Harrity from the patrol car’s passenger seat.

Harrity (with whom Noor is now court-ordered not to associate) testified to a grand jury last month.

Although the Minnesota police union reported 35 to 40 Minneapolis police officers were initially subpoenaed, apparently no one talked, prompting a grand jury. Noor’s own first conversation with the law was reportedly Tuesday night when he surrendered. The prosecution noticed:

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman blamed stonewalling by the Minneapolis police for the eight-month delay in charging Noor.

“This would have been done a good deal quicker if we had gotten cooperation,” he said at a news conference Tuesday after Noor was charged.

Noor made $400,000 bail Wednesday after a night in jail.

[His attorney Thomas Plunkett is either the Mafia don on the left or the unkempt man on the right.]

Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage director Justin Terrell opined that the Somali-American Noor’s treatment for shooting a white Australian woman is disproportionately punitive and rooted in racism.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman described how Minneapolis Police officer Mohamed Noor reached across his partner's body and shot Justine Ruszczy

Freeman (above, accusatory pointing) was reportedly reluctant to resort to a grand jury because the public detests secret proceedings and, well, police in Minnesota lately racked up multiple high-profile casualties:

Christmas Special: Mohamed Noor and Justine Damond Updates

Speaking of which, somewhat lost in the highly-publicized “March for our Lives” this weekend was the Sacramento police slaughter of 22-year-old Stephon Alonzo Clark, who was reportedly breaking windows. The law cornered the father of two in his grandparents’ backyard and delivered 20 rounds of ammunition when they mistook Clark’s cellphone for a gun.

Stephon Clark was shot and killed by Sacramento Police on Sunday night.

Police released video from their heat-seeking tactical chopper:

We can see Clark enter the yard (the cursor on the screen immerses the pilot in a video game hunting experience)…

…then get dropped by the officers:

There was some disagreement as to whether the officers announced their identities. Because that’s the biggest problem here.

Sacramento police guidelines posted on the department’s website do not specify that officers must identify themselves when encountering suspects. Sacramento police spokeswoman Linda Matthew said she did not believe such a policy existed.

Jim Pasco, executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police, said that policies for departments vary across the country, but it would be impractical under such circumstances to expect officers to identify themselves.

“If you’re in a chase and everybody’s running, there isn’t a lot of talking back and forth going on,” he said.

According to Capital Public Radio, who have the body cam footage:

The video also confirms that law enforcement and first responders waited more than 5 minutes to approach Clark after the shooting. When they did, they put him in handcuffs before performing medical treatment.

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After several months on the back burner, Trump’s decision to bar transgender Americans from serving in the military has been resurrected, this time with the approval of Defense secretary James “Jim” Mattis.

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Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg reluctantly provided his first public admission of wrongdoing since he attempted to drum up “empathy” for Hurricane Maria victims with a virtual reality tour of Puerto Rico’s utter destruction last October:

Screen Shot 2017-10-09 at 3.53.15 PM

The overpriced Q-tip (below) is prepared to testify to Congress on the evil workings of Cambridge Analytica.

The short version: a Facebook app offered users to sign away rights to their personal information (and that of online “friends”) to take a personality quiz. That data was used by Cambridge’s right-wing customers to assist in Trump’s election.

[reason notes the same privacy-usurping approach via third-party Facebook app–“Graph API“–successfully sealed Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. Because Obama was a Democrat, the ploy was revolutionary, not fascist.]

However, the social media platform apparently pledged to pull the plug on Graph API and disallow further mass collection from millions of unwitting Americans in April 2015. Oops.

Facebook lost $50 billion over the past week.

Zucks admitted to selling out the ignorant masses–and finally offered an apology–via a medium long extinct to all but nostalgic elites and non-internet households: print journalism.

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TSA‘s competence was on full display Friday night when Costa Rican customs found 58 grams of marijuana, edibles, pipes and cannabis oil the crack security squad at Fort Lauderdale International Airport apparently missed in New England Patriots safety Duron Harmon‘s luggage.

[Most of the weed was in a can of Arizona Iced Tea–peach flavor! Given the TSA’s notorious beverage ban at security, Harmon must have checked the suitcase.]

Harmon was shipped back to the states. According to the C’Rican Fiscal Control Police, who were on alert for “spring break” travelers,  “[w]e want to prevent undesirable people from entering the country.”

USP NFL: SUPER BOWL LII-PHILADELPHIA EAGLES VS NEW S FBN USA MN

TSA will reclaim its investigative dominance with a new regulation: forcing passengers to remove electronic tablets from carry-on luggage in addition to laptops. A spokeswoman boasted the new harassment, which was [PUN ALERT] pilot tested in 10 airports last year (and apparently met with little resistance!) is part of “the first broad-scale changes to TSA screening procedures in the security checkpoint in more than 11 years.”

Clearly she forgot the revolutionary “which line do I get to stand in” randomizer app:

Swipe Left for Overfunded Incompetence–UPDATED

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And Congress plowed ahead with its latest spending blitz to meet an appropriations deadline. The damage: $1.3 trillion, which keeps the Feds afloat for six more months.

In the Senate, more Democrats than Republicans voted for Mitch McConnell‘s latest pork-stuffed financial condemnation of the country’s younger generations. Notably, McConnell’s fellow Kentuckian Rand Paul (a “no”) allowed the 65-32 vote without a procedural holdup similar to his protest just a few weeks prior (the last time a temporary, last-second spending patch was scraped together by the cancerous Federal installation that ran out of other people’s money over $21,000,000,000,000 ago).

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

Jim Risch (R-ID) (“no”) almost dinged McConnell’s dwindling pride by striking a provision renaming a wildlife refuge after a former political rival of Risch. Priorities.

Idaho GOP Sen. Jim Risch (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

(The rival is reportedly the recently deceased former Democratic Beehive State governor Cecil Andrus.)

But the House had already passed the bill 256-157 (more “no” votes came from the majority party, just like the Senate), and an unnamed member objected to the modification.

(Of note, Congress had a two-week vacation starting Friday evening.)

On Thursday night Paul live-tweeted his attempt to read the 2,200-page bill, which was provided to both houses of Congress about 48 hours before the funding deadline. He reportedly got through 600 pages.

View image on Twitter

McConnell heralded the measure as “the end of disproportionate and harmful cuts to Department of Defense funding […] the largest year-on-year increase in defense spending in fifteen years.”

Other reactions included no-voters John Kennedy (R-LA) (“a great dane-sized whiz down the leg of every taxpayer”) and Bob Corker (R-TN) (“one of the most grotesque pieces of legislation I can remember”).

Buried in the bill was a $48.8 million increase in the Senate budget. The House upped their budget by $10.9 million.

 

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/ex-minneapolis-police-officer-charged-justine-damond-killing-makes-bail-n858876

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/16/police-partner-of-justine-damonds-killer-testifies-at-grand-jury

http://www.startribune.com/minneapolis-police-officer-mohamed-noor-turns-himself-in-on-charges-in-justine-damond-killing/477405923/#1

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-california-police-policy/california-police-shooting-of-unarmed-black-man-forcing-look-at-policies-idUSKBN1H003T

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-california-police-policy/california-police-shooting-of-unarmed-black-man-forcing-look-at-policies-idUSKBN1H003T

https://www.recode.net/2018/3/21/17149964/facebook-ceo-mark-zuckerberg-congress-data-privacy-cambridge-analytica

Zuck apologizes for Cambridge Analytica scandal with full-page print ad

https://www.necn.com/news/sports/New-England-Patriots-Duron-Harmon-Marijuana-Costa-Rica-477819263.html

https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2018/03/24/duron-harmon-marijuana-costa-rica-arrest-detained/455944002/

https://news.co.cr/new-england-patriots-player-duron-harmon-attempts-to-enter-costa-rica-with-marijuana/71750/

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2018/s63

http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/379883-senate-approves-13-trillion-spending-bill-sending-to-trump?userid=115887&utm_source=&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=14308

House OKs Spending Bill to Fund Government, but 90 Republicans Vote No

http://freebeacon.com/politics/congress-gives-bonus-omnibus/

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.

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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.

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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. TheBalance.com 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.

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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.

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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.”

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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).

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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:

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/01/29/581511023/fema-to-end-food-and-water-aid-for-puerto-rico

https://www.theroot.com/fema-cutting-off-food-and-water-aid-to-puerto-rico-1822558738

https://www.theroot.com/tiffany-brown-head-of-the-one-woman-company-which-deli-1822897056

http://www.nasdaq.com/press-release/cobras-puerto-rico-contract-increased-to-approximately-445-million-update-on-puerto-rico-activities-20180129-01030

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/fema-contractor-scapegoat-controversy-canceled-contract/story?id=52915221

http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/372748-senate-leaders-agree-to-two-year-budget-deal?userid=115887

https://www.wsj.com/articles/house-democrats-split-on-budget-deal-1518115903

https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/08/politics/budget-vote-congress-shutdown/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/08/politics/rand-paul-analysis/index.html

http://money.cnn.com/2018/02/07/news/economy/rising-deficits/index.html

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/08/shutdown-news-rand-paul-holds-up-senate-budget-vote.html

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/02/05/pentagon-logistics-agency-review-funds-322860

https://www.mystatesman.com/news/facial-recognition-scanners-tested-soon-texas-mexico-border/K5zgnDYPlrvASb1k5c2vIP/

http://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article198664404.html

http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2018/feb/11/new-drivers-license-requirements-causing-headaches/

https://www.dhs.gov/real-id

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.

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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.

Related:

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]

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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.

BREAKING NEWS

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:

https://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article195420669.html

https://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=115&session=2&vote=00011#top

https://www.theverge.com/2018/1/20/16913534/president-donald-trump-signed-fisa-amendments-reauthorization-act-of-2017-section-702

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/01/18/senate-votes-to-approve-reauthorization-controversial-fisa-surveillance-provision.html

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/12/politics/fisa-surveillance-weird-politics/index.html

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/01/19/nsa-deletes-surveillance-data-351730

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/1/20/16912726/trump-shutdown

http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/369889-schumer-says-he-offered-to-discuss-wall-as-part-of-trump-deal

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-fbi-clinton/senator-says-fbi-lost-crucial-texts-tied-to-clinton-probe-idUSKBN1FA15O?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/01/21/newly-released-texts-between-ex-mueller-team-members-suggest-knew-outcome-clinton-email-probe-in-advance.html

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

Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: August 3: Mick Mollifies Big Spenders

Business Insider reported that Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney is reneging on promises to even marginally address the perilous finances of the United States.

mick mulvaney

If you can’t take the heat, give the big-government filth everything they demand and crawl home without your testicles.

While Mulvaney had previously promised he would demand spending cuts in exchange for “raising the debt ceiling” (a near-annual occurrence in which the Feds stare down our unprecedented $20,000,000,000,000 national debt, shrug, and pretend we’re solvent by simply increasing the amount of cheddar the Feds themselves may borrow–backed by taxpayers–without any significant reform in spending to even dent the $250 billion we pay in annual interest), he now advocates a “clean” increase. This just means we’ll keep spending beyond our means, but with a bipartisan consensus that our children should inherit at least one year of our GDP in financial obligations.

It’s all quite confusing, because:

The debt limit, the level of outstanding debt the federal government is allowed to carry, was technically hit in March. Since then, the Treasury Department has been using “extraordinary measures” to prevent a breach of the limit. The department has said Congress must pass a bill to increase the limit by the end of September to avoid a breach.

[our emphasis]

While Trump threw a transient bone to the fiscal conservative crowd shortly after his election by imposing a federal “hiring freeze,” that minuscule measure towards fiscal sanity was abandoned not even three months later. By…Mulvaney:

Summer Part 1: Stories We Shelved!!! April 11–Federal “Thaw”

Even more willing to live beyond our means is Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who made news for all the wrong reasons on August 21 by reportedly using a government jet to travel to Kentucky for front row seats in viewing the SOLAR ECLIPSE.

Mnuchin was delivering a scheduled speech alongside Senate Majority Leader Sellout Mitch McConnell (who actually hails from Kentucky and might be able to justify billing his citizens for a ticket out of D.C.)

Mnuchin might have gotten away with the alleged waste of taxpayer dollars, too, except his wife, Louise Linton, got on the Instagram to brag about the brands she was wearing on the excursion. Her selfie captured the jet in the background:

Watchdog requests documents about Mnuchin and wife's Ky. trip timed with eclipse

Linton responded to the haters, who were justifiably wondering why a luxurious lap in a federal jet was necessary for a famous actress estimated to be worth $300 million to view a three-minute natural phenomenon, with:

“Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours. You’re adorably out of touch.”

Although she later apologized for her behavior, Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (who for some reason acronymed themselves as “CREW”) have filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for any records of Mnuchin’s government-funded travel up to and including the eclipse excursion since he took office.

In related news, USA Today noted in February that fiscal year 2016 was a boon for taxpayer-funded government travel. Congressional records estimate they spent at least $14.7 million from the little people, which would be 27% more than in f.y. 2015.

Mnuchin’s own Treasury, however, estimated it was actually nearly $20 million. Treasury got their data from the State Department, and both outfits refused to explain the increase.

Using the $20 million figure, f.y. 2016 represents the highest government travel amount ever recorded, and includes 557 trips by Congress and their staffers that cost at least $10,000 per person.

Thanks to our sources:

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/trumps-budget-director-caved-one-202231113.html

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/347713-watchdog-requests-documents-about-mnuchin-and-wifes-trip-to-ky-theres

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/02/27/taxpayers-fund-first-class-congressional-foreign-travel-boom-overseas/98351442/

Summer Part 1: Stories We Shelved!!! April 7–Neil Gorsuch

SENATE GOES NUCLEAR!!!

Demented DC fixture Senator John McCain (R-AZ) had some hateful speech for the Senate majority as he joined his colleagues in changing the body rules to confirm U.S. Tenth Circuit appellate judge Neil Gorsuch (below) to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Judge Gorsuch official portrait.jpg

Democrats had filibustered the nomination of Gorsuch, 49. Republicans, who hold 52 Senate seats, were unable to muster a supermajority of 60 votes to break the filibuster. Instead, they held a 52-48 party-line vote to implement a “nuclear” option: the Senate will now require just 51 votes to allow a vote on Supreme Court justice appointments.

Yahoo! had more:

“It’s a bad day for democracy,” McCain said before entering the Senate chamber, where he later voted with fellow Republicans to change the rules. “I think it’s a terrible mistake that we will regret for many, many years to come.

[…]

There’s not a single senator in the majority who thinks we ought to change the legislative filibuster, not one,” he told reporters Tuesday. “We all understand that’s what makes the Senate the Senate.”

McCain speaks to reporters after the Senate voted to remove the filibuster rule for Supreme Court nominees on Thursday. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

[McCain (above) was re-elected in November with 53.7% of the vote.]

“I find myself torn between protecting the traditions and practices of the Senate and the importance of having a full complement of justices on the Supreme Court,” he said. “I’m left with no choice. I will vote to change the rules an [sic] allow Judge Gorsuch to be confirmed by a simple majority.”

[our emphasis]

According to Yahoo!, McCain’s April 4 statement on the matter was even more patronizing to the American people who are apparently supposed to stomach the notion that the six-term senator, 80, has any integrity at all:

I would like to meet that idiot, I’d like to meet the numskull that would say [changing the rule for Gorsuch is a good thing]. Whoever says that is a stupid idiot, who has not been here and seen what I’ve been through and how we were able to avoid that on several occasions. And they are stupid and they’ve deceived their voters because they are so stupid.”

[our emphasis]

Democrats, led by then-Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV), similarly changed filibuster rules in 2013, requiring only a 51-vote majority in the Senate to break filibusters on all presidential nominees except Supreme Court justices (i.e., executive branch and all other judicial appointments). Once the filibuster is broken, these nominees can be confirmed by a similar, simple majority vote.

USA Today notes Reid and the Democrats felt unrelenting Republican filibusters of Obama nominees for necessitated the rule change:

The turning point in the decades-long debate over Senate filibuster rules was Republicans’ decision to block all three of Obama’s latest nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the nation’s second-most-powerful court with vast jurisdiction over federal agencies and regulations.

April’s was therefore the second “nuclear” rule change for the U.S. Senate in four years.

“The American people believe Congress is broken. The American people believe the Senate is broken. And I believe they are right. The need for change is so very, very obvious.”–then-Senator Harry Reid (D-NV)

Reid (above; thanks, galleryhip.com) retired in 2016.

Then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)famously warned the Democrats: “You will no doubt come to regret this, and you may regret it a lot sooner than you think.”

Fifty-two of the fifty-five Democrats and their common-caucusing Independents voted for the 2013 rule change. Of the three Democrats in opposition, only Joe Manchin (WV) remains in the Senate today.

At the time, Dianne Feinstein noted: “I’ve sat on the Judiciary (Committee) for 20 years and it has never, ever been like this. You reach a point where your frustration just overwhelms and things have to change. I think the level of frustration on the Democratic side has just reached the point where it’s worth the risk.”

McCain, per USA Today, called the decision “foolish” and squarely blamed junior Democratic senators. “There are members that have never been in the minority who have been here a short time who basically drove this,” he said.

And Obama praised Reid’s maneuver: “A deliberate and determined effort to obstruct everything, no matter what the merits, just to re-fight the result of an election is not normal, and for the sake of future generations, we can’t let it become normal[.]”

*

For Mr. Gorsuch’s confirmation, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer shamelessly misled the public by attempting to goad the Republicans into “changing the nominee” to allow Democrats to contribute at least eight votes to reach a 60-vote threshold. This is the number needed to end the filibuster Schumer orchestrated. Washington Post:

“If this nominee cannot earn 60 votes — a bar met by each of President Obama’s nominees and George Bush’s last two nominees — the answer isn’t to change the rules. It’s to change the nominee.”

Also according to Post, Schumer decided to lead a filibuster because “[Gorsuch] was unable to sufficiently convince me that he’d be an independent check” on Trump, and Mr. Gorsuch was “not a neutral legal mind but someone with a deep-seated conservative ideology[.]”

Washington Post was complicit in Schumer’s fantasy that all Senate proceedings require 60 “yes” votes to break a filibuster (a sort of holdover from the Obama administration when Republicans filibustered ruthlessly and lead Dirty Harry to change the rules, as above) and not a simple majority of 51:

Among recent Supreme Court nominees, the 60-vote threshold has not caused a problem. President Barack Obama’s choices of Sonia Sotomayor and Elena ­Kagan each received more than 60 confirmation votes. Samuel A. Alito Jr., chosen by President George W. Bush, was confirmed 58 to 42 in 2006, but 72 senators voted to defeat a possible filibuster and allow his confirmation vote to go forward. Indeed, only Alito — among the last 16 Supreme Court nominees — was forced to clear the supermajority hurdle to break a filibuster.

President Obama had nominated chief justice of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit Merrick Garland in March 2016 following the unexpected death of conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Republicans, who held the Senate majority, refused to hold a confirmation vote for Garland, leaving an eight-member court for about one year and prompting allegations they “stole” an additional Obama-appointed Supreme Court seat. The issue became more of a sore spot for liberals with Trump’s unexpected capture of the presidency, ensuring Hillary would not make the next nomination.

After the rule change, Gorsuch was confirmed 54-45 with 51 Republicans (led by now-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell) joined in the affirmative by three Democrats: Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Manchin, and Joe Donnelly (IN). All three are up for re-election in 2018. Republican Johnny Isakson (GA) did not vote.

We were unable to find a quote from Obama reacting to the rule change and ensuing Gorsuch confirmation.

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-04-06/gop-begins-nuclear-rule-move-to-advance-trump-high-court-pick

https://www.yahoo.com/news/mccain-filibuster-change-bad-day-democracy-172058093.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Senate_election_in_Arizona,_2016

https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/gorsuch-confirmation-hearing-to-focus-today-on-testimony-from-friends-foes/2017/03/23/14d21116-0fc7-11e7-9d5a-a83e627dc120_story.html?utm_term=.a9fa2a9f85fa

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/11/21/harry-reid-nuclear-senate/3662445/

Spring Break Blitz: Stories We Sat On!!! February 27–Justice Department and EPA

Associated Press reported that new EPA head Scott Pruitt is under scrutiny for using personal email to communicate official business while Attorney General for Oklahoma, and lying about it to Congress.

A review of Pruitt emails obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request showed a 2014 exchange where the Republican emailed a member of his staff using a personal Apple email account.

Emails released under court order last week in response to a different public records request yielded additional examples where emails were addressed to Pruitt’s private account, including a 2013 exchange with a petroleum industry lobbyist who emailed Pruitt and a lawyer on the attorney general’s staff. That suggests Pruitt made his private email address available to professional contacts outside his office.

It is not illegal in Oklahoma for public officials to use private email as long as they are retained and made available as public records. Pruitt’s use of the private account appears to directly contradict statements he made last month as part of his Senate confirmation.

Pruitt’s deception came from the forward-thinking 2020 presidential hopeful, New Jersey’s Senator Cory Booker in a written inquiry for Pruitt prior to his confirmation hearing. Cabinet nominees apparently respond to written questions for vetting because it is more efficient for the Senate panels to process nominations.

Mr. Booker apparently sought to avoid the confusion caused by both Obama’s Secretary of State and Attorney General, who used personal emails throughout their tenures to flout Freedom of Information Act lawsuits:

Hillary Updates

The FOIA avoidance is especially relevant recently, because the National Security Archive FOIA Audit released March 11 revealed that only 38 out of 99 federal agencies have updated their FOIA regulations in compliance with the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016.

This allows about 60% of our agencies are ignoring the new improvements on FOIA, which require agencies to notify citizens of their right to seek assistance with the FOIA liaison and prohibiting the charge of search or duplication fees when the agency fails to meet the notice requirements and time limits set by existing law.

Oh well.

Interestingly, Elijah Cummings said of the FOIA reform during 2016 floor debate:

“This is a simple improvement that every agency should adopt, and I look forward to working with Chairman [Jason] Chaffetz [R-Utah] in the years ahead on such commonsense [sic] reforms.”

[our emphasis]

Cummings Not Going

Let’s see if the career criminal Cummings holds his own future moves to the same standard of transparency.

The Hill:

Booker […] asked Pruitt whether he had ever conducted state business using personal email accounts. Pruitt responded: “I use only my official OAG email address and government issued phone to conduct official business.”

[…]

AP and other news organizations reported last week that 7,500 pages of emails released following a lawsuit filed by a left-leaning advocacy group showed Pruitt and his staff in Oklahoma coordinated closely on legal strategy with fossil-fuel companies and special interest groups working to undermine federal efforts to curb planet-warming carbon emissions.

The emails were released after an Oklahoma judge ruled that Pruitt had been illegally withholding his correspondence, which is public record under state law, for the last two years.

[…]

Pruitt’s use of private email was first reported earlier this month by FOX 25 television of Oklahoma City.

The Hill notes that Republicans rammed through Pruitt’s confirmation vote earlier in February prior to the release of the emails. Senator Booker joined all but two of his fellow Democrats in voting against Pruitt, who was confirmed 52-46.

FILE - In this Feb. 21, 2017 file photo Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt speaks in Washington. Pruitt occasionally used private email to communicate with staff while serving as Oklahoma’s attorney general, despite telling Congress that he always used a state email account for government business. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Pruitt.

***

The Pruitt predicament is interesting, because it was only one month ago (January 26) that…

Outgoing DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and three other officials fought Obama-appointed US District Court Judge Randolph Moss‘s order to preserve their emails for public record.

Conservative group Judicial Watch was conducting a Freedom of Information Act investigation of Johnson and his lackeys using private emails on government computers. Judge Moss declared the emails should be copied for official record for “an abundance of caution.” Just in case Johnson wanted to delete them. Like Hillary.

Politico:

“DHS’s present understanding is that the former officials are not independently aware of how to transfer e-mails from a web-based account (i.e., Gmail) to a thumb drive and that DHS information technology staff who were consulted did not have any particular knowledge about how to transfer the e-mails, either,” Justice Department attorneys wrote.

The filing suggests the ex-officials and DHS staff are also unsure about how to copy part of the private emails archives, since the suit sought only work-related emails between certain dates in 2013 and 2015.

If Moss won’t lift his order, the Justice Department asked that he let the officials move the messages to encrypted DVDs instead of thumb drives or hard drives.

As brilliant and dedicated as our “public servants” are, moving an email to a thumb drive is apparently beyond their capabilities. But burning “Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde” on a DVD? Easy.

As we have referenced above, disgraced ex-Attorney General Eric Holder deliberately used the email alias Lew Alcindor for official government proceedings to shield his official communications from FOIA lawsuits.

*

For all the missteps and truly troubling actions of his nascent leadership, Trump appeared to actually propose meaningful conservative budget reforms this week, reducing spending for State Department and EPA in a budget draft. The Hill:

The Trump administration is proposing a 37 percent spending cut for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), according to multiple reports.

U.S. officials say the suggested decrease would likely require laying off employees, including security contractors at diplomatic facilities overseas, The Associated Press said Tuesday.

[…]

The agencies together received $50.1 billion during the current fiscal year, it added, a little more than 1 percent of the total federal budget.

Career Republicans in Washington whose careers depend on lavishing their constituents’ money (which they exhausted $20 trillion ago) were not pleased.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday said he would oppose drastic cuts to the State Department. 

“Probably not,” he said when asked if Congress could pass a 37 percent reduction at the department, according to Fox News.

The leaked EPA budget proposal suggested Trump will cut spending by 24% (a reduction of $2 billion to $6.1 billion), possibly reducing the EPA “work”force by about 20% to “only” 12,000 employees.

Pathetic presidential hopeful, carpet-bombing and corporate welfare advocate Lindsey  Graham had equally strong reservations as McConnell on the proposal.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Tuesday said Trump’s reported plans for his first budget were “dead on arrival.”

“It’s not going to happen,” he said, according to NBC News. “It would be a disaster. A budget this lean would put those who serve overseas for the State Department at risk. And it’s not going to happen.”

Ex-Im Bank Updates

The Trump budget will reportedly not touch the entitlement spending that is financially dooming everyone who does not die in the next 20 years.

Defense spending will increase by $54,000,000,000. That amount will be cut from non-defense spending.

As a reminder, the earlier full Trump budget proposal increased the national debt by $9,700,000,000,000 over the next 10 years. Rand Paul was the only Republican to vote against it.

*

Washington Free Beacon had some damning juice on the EPA this week as well.

Environmental Protection Agency employees used their government purchase cards to spend $14,985 on fitness memberships, according to an audit by the inspector general of the agency.

[…]

Three other transactions [from the audit] were made to vendors who were considered high risk[.]

[…]

Auditors also noted that this is not the first time the agency did not have adequate oversight of the purchase-card program. In March of 2014, the inspector general released a report noting that of the $152,602 in transactions that they evaluated, $79,254 went to purchases that were prohibited, improper, or erroneous.

[Less than 50% of sampled spending was allowed…that’s success, right?]

After the most recent findings, the inspector general said that the risk for the purchase-card program “is high enough to warrant an audit.”

The EPA did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

All emphasis is ours.

Thanks to our sources:

http://www.politico.com/blogs/under-the-radar/2017/01/justice-department-dhs-officials-emails-234253

http://freebeacon.com/issues/epa-purchase-card-fitness-memberships/

https://www.yahoo.com/news/records-show-epas-pruitt-used-private-email-despite-203908715–politics.html

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/321605-trump-pitches-37-percent-cut-to-state-budget-reports

http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/news/20170311-2017-FOIA-Audit-shows-3-in-5-Agencies-Failed-to-Follow-New-FOIA-Law-Instructions/

FOIA Reform Adopted after Years-Long Battle

Federal Government Resumes “Equitable Sharing” Funding

Justice Department Resumes Police Confiscation of Poor Peoples’ Assets

Attorney General Loretta Lynch (above) has instructed the Justice Department to resume “equitable sharing” practices.

“Equitable sharing” is when state and local police get to prosecute the property (usually money) they confiscate from overwhelmingly poor and minority citizens under Federal law as opposed to state law. The federal funding of these prosecutions logically allows the police agents to keep more of the money they either seize or obtain by selling everything else they take without probable cause, arrest, or legal authority, because prosecution of the property is subsidized by the Federal Government.

In the most recent Federal Government spending bill, the payments that assisted local cops in equitable sharing–so named because the police get to “share” your money or property if you smell like marijuana or look like a poor person who cannot sue to get your seized property returned–were temporarily suspended. According to The Washington Post:

While we had hoped to minimize any adverse impact on state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners, the Department is deferring for the time being any equitable sharing payments from the Program,” M. Kendall Day, chief of the asset forfeiture and money laundering section, wrote in a [December 2015] letter to state and local law enforcement agencies.
In addition to budget cuts last year, the program has lost $1.2 billion, according to Day’s letter. “The Department does not take this step lightly,” he wrote. “We explored every conceivable option that would have enabled us to preserve some form of meaningful equitable sharing. … Unfortunately, the combined effect of the two reductions totaling $1.2 billion made that impossible.”

While the Justice Department of your Federal Government tried as hard as they possibly could to encourage your local police to take your stuff and sell it to fund future law enforcement “operations,” the country’s trillions of dollars in debt caused a brief lull in that practice.

Fortunately for government agents–as well as the lawyer industry, which the little people have to fund to get their property returned–equitable sharing has been restored, the Post confirmed today.

“In the months since we made the difficult decision to defer equitable sharing payments because of the $1.2 billion rescinded from the Asset Forfeiture Fund, the financial solvency of the fund has improved to the point where it is no longer necessary to continue deferring Equitable Sharing payments,” spokesman Peter J. Carr said.

And not a moment too soon. Police lobbies such as the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the National District Attorney’s Association, among others, released a statement in the wake of last December’s budget cuts that protested “a significant and immediate impact on the ability of law enforcement agencies throughout the nation to protect their communities.”

It’s a lot easier to protect uncharged, innocent citizens when you take their stuff and make them hire attorneys to sue and get it back.

Mrs. Lynch oversaw more than $100,000,000 of property seized from innocent people during her reign as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

The Justice Department is anticipated, as are most of the hundreds of Federal Government agencies, to request a budget increase for the upcoming fiscal year.

The Post notes that in 2015, civil asset forfeiture took more from citizens than burglars:

The practice of civil asset forfeiture is respected by both major political parties. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) rammed through Mrs. Lynch’s confirmation to replace Eric Holder as Attorney General for President Obama in a bipartisan vote. As well, the latter Post article notes, both New Hampshire Senators Kelly Ayotte (R) and Jeanne Shaheen (D) demanded the Justice Department restore equitable sharing payments in January.

Thanks to  Christopher Ingraham at Washington Post for our source material:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/12/23/the-feds-just-shut-down-a-huge-program-that-lets-cops-take-your-stuff-and-keep-it/?tid=a_inl

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/03/28/the-feds-have-resumed-a-controversial-program-that-lets-cops-take-stuff-and-keep-it/