Saturday, May 27, 2017

Trump’s budget sneakily asks for new weapon against sanctuary cities

Dara Lind · Wednesday, May 24, 2017, 1:22 pm

Trump couldn’t defund sanctuary cities on his own. So he’s asking Congress to help.

Tucked into President Trump’s 2018 budget request, in the form of language rewriting a 1996 law governing local cooperation with federal immigration enforcement, is a new front in the Trump administration’s war on “sanctuary cities” — jurisdictions that don’t help federal immigration agents scoop up unauthorized immigrants (and that happen, generally, to be under Democratic control).

The Trump administration is asking Congress to make it illegal for any law enforcement officer not to comply “with any lawful request” from federal immigration agents — including requests to hold immigrants after they’d normally be released from jail, so that federal agents can pick them up.

If the budget passed, it would put hundreds of cities that limit local help with federal agents — that say that, for example, local jails won’t hold immigrants booked on traffic offenses for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to pick up and deport — on the wrong side of the law.

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Trump team didn't make a $2 trillion mistake on the budget—it engaged in massive accounting fraud (mark Sumner) · Wednesday, May 24, 2017, 1:06 pm

A couple trillion here, a couple trillion there. No matter how many times Trump's budget team tries to reuse the same fake money, that doesn’t make it real.

President Donald Trump's newly unveiled budget contains a massive accounting error that uses the same money twice for two different purposes. Based on its supersized projections of 3 percent GDP, the president's budget forecasts about $2 trillion in extra federal revenue growth over the next 10 years, which it then uses to pay for Trump's "biggest tax cut in history."

Actually, since the whole idea that Trump’s currently unformulated tax cut is going to generate an extra $2 trillion is complete hokum, why not let Trump use it twice? Why not use it four times? Why not 10? Why … Donald Trump’s budget eliminates the national debt in six weeks, plus it will help you drop 20 pounds and eliminate crepey elbow skin!

The whole purpose of the entirely intentional accounting “mistake” is that it allows Trump to maintain the pretense that he can throw ridiculous sums at the military, cut even more monstrous refund checks for the wealthy, and still “balance the budget.”

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney didn't deny the math, saying it was done "on purpose," during a press briefing Tuesday.

There’s an obscure accounting term used when you don’t report the correct numbers on purpose—it’s called fraud.


Special Counsel Robert Mueller has Comey's memos—but don't expect him to admit it (mark Sumner) · Tuesday, May 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

While the testimony of former CIA director John Brennan on Tuesday was a visual reminder that the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation was at last getting back into action after a long Devin Nunes-inspired delay, it’s far from the only game in town. There is a matching investigation going on over on the Senate side. And now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is in place, a third, independent track is engaged.

Unlike the congressional investigations, Mueller’s work will happen mostly out of the public eye. In fact, unless his investigation ends with charges being filed, he could close up shop and never make any public report. One of these days his office will either produce charges … or it won’t. Which is a big part of why anyone filling those special counsel shoes has to be someone with broad public trust.

On the other hand, though the special counsel’s office is unlikely to be a source of frequent progress reports, it’s no more immune to a few open windows and whispered conversations than any other office in Washington. So as of Tuesday, we at least think we know that Mueller now has his hands on James Comey’s carefully maintained notes.

In one memo, Comey wrote that Trump asked him to end the FBI probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Any information coming out of the special counsel’s office should be taken with a double dose of salt simply because it’s so impossible to check. Any extraordinary predictions of impending action are probably false. However it certainly seems reasonable that Mueller would put Comey’s notes high on his list of must-have items. For the same reason, it also seems reasonable that Mueller wouldn’t be all that thrilled with the idea of Comey making further public appearances.

Potentially complicating that effort is Comey's acceptance to testify on Capitol Hill after Memorial Day. The source says Comey likely will be limited with what he will be able to say now that the Russia probe is in the hands of Mueller.


The corporarions will try to own your ass, if you let them.

Uber shortchanged New York drivers by an average of $900. It will cost them millions.

Timothy B. Lee · Tuesday, May 23, 2017, 5:20 pm

Uber admitted on Tuesday that it has shortchanged drivers in New York by an average of about $900 per driver. The calculation error could wind up costing Uber more than $45 million in payments to drivers in the New York area.

“We made a mistake and we are committed to making it right by paying every driver every penny they are owed, plus interest, as quickly as possible,” Rachel Holt, regional general manager of Uber in the US and Canada, told the Wall Street Journal. “We are working hard to regain driver trust, and that means being transparent, sticking to our word, and making the Uber experience better from end to end.”

It’s the latest embarrassing admission for a company that has long had a testy relationship with its drivers. The company admitted to a similar mistake in the Philadelphia area. Back in January, Uber agreed to pay $20 million to settle claims that it had exaggerated how much people could earn as Uber drivers.

Then in February, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick was caught on tape lecturing an Uber driver who complained that fare cuts were harming his ability to earn a living.

Simmering driver dissatisfaction is a big problem for a company that needs hundreds of thousands of drivers to provide service in dozens of cities. With so many mistakes, it’s going to be hard for Uber to rebuild driver trust.


FEC commissioner asks agency to broaden Trump-Russia investigation (hunter) · Tuesday, May 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

The Federal Elections Commission is mostly known around these parts for a complete inability to enforce election laws. This is due to the commission's partisan makeup; when a violation comes down the pike, certain partisan (hint: Republican) members of the commission can simply refuse to investigate possible breaches by certain partisan (hint: Republican) candidates and that's that, good bye, have fun on election day.

The commission is slightly twitchier when it comes to foreign interference in our elections, or at least they claim to be. Which is, these days, newly relevant.

A member of the Federal Election Commission is calling on the agency to investigate whether Russian agents paid for Facebook ads to spread damaging stories about Hillary Clinton ahead of last fall’s presidential election.

“I think there is potential there for finding a violation, but I don’t want to suggest that I have prejudged anything that could potentially come before me,” said FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub, a Democratic appointee to the commission.

That's based on a complaint from two watchdog groups, which highlights Russian-paid internet propagandists as indeed being a foreign expenditure in a campaign, which is under the FEC's purview. Weintraub wants to know if any of those efforts included advertising to boost the profiles and visibility of the stories they posted.

The FEC is already investigating Russian interference efforts, so this wouldn't be an additional investigation but lumped onto the existing one. If the other commissioners allow it, that is. Politico speculates that the FEC could be in a position to undertake a more "transparent" investigation than the congressional versions, but we won't hold our breath on that one.


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Friday, May 26, 2017

What is wrong with TrumP

Trump and NATO

Robert Reich

Trump had an opportunity today to make amends for his absurd campaign claim that NATO is “obsolete,” and when he questioned why the United States was spending its own money to defend Europe and threatened to withdraw if other members failed to pay their “fair share.”

Which is why European leaders eagerly anticipated Trump’s speech today at the ceremony to dedicate a memorial to NATO’s resolve in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.
But Trump blew it.

In his speech he gave no specific commitment to NATO. Instead, he publicly chastised his fellow alliance leaders for not being “fair” to U.S. taxpayers, saying “23 of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying and what they are supposed to be paying,” and that they owe “massive amounts” from past years. “I have been very, very direct with Secretary Stoltenburg and members of the alliance in saying that NATO members must finally contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations." Even the 2 percent of their gross domestic products that members have agreed to spend on defense is “insufficient,” he said. “Two percent is the bare minimum for confronting today’s very real and very vicious threats.”

Then Trump focused on driving terrorists out of Europe and not letting them back in, saying “all people who cherish life must unite in finding, exposing and removing these terrorists and extremists. And, yes, losers. They are losers. . . . Drive them out and never let them back in.”

Immediately after his speech, subdued European leaders gathered for a “family photograph” — a standard feature of such summits. As they chatted among themselves, Trump was left alone at the podium.

Trump continues to be an embarrassment.

Message to Europe: He doesn’t represent the views of most Americans. We’re doing all we can to get rid of him.

What do you think?


Trump Just Threw Our Allies Under The Bus With An Insulting Lecture To World Leaders


President Donald Trump is on the fourth leg of his trip abroad. Today he is in Brussels, a city he once described as a “hellhole,” to meet with NATO and EU leaders.

In a brief speech, Trump used a condescending tone to lecture them on how much they should spend on defence.

Trump also failed to endorse Article 5 of NATO’s founding treaty.

This is an important signal from the President, who has previously called NATO “obsolete.” An endorsement of article 5 would serve not only to indicate that Trump now fully backs the Alliance, but also send a strong message to Russia that America is still willing to defend her European allies.

Trump instead lambasted our NATO allies in broken English about “not paying what they should be paying and what they are supposed to be paying for their defence.”

“This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States and many of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years and not paying in those past years.”
The faces of other NATO leaders says it all (video below). The ashen expressions suggest a lot of them were biting their tongues and holding back screams of frustration.

They were probably also trying not to laugh at how badly Trump can read. It’s like listening to a fifth grader do his reading homework.

Perhaps Trump should stick to reading in 140-character segments, any more might stress him out.

Trump isn’t entirely wrong. Defence spending in Europe has been waning in the last two decades thanks to the end of the Cold War, and a resurgent Russia has taken many by surprise.

While Europe’s defences do need an injection of funds from nations that haven’t been paying their fair share, Europe’s defences also need an American President who is prepared to stand up to Russia instead of colluding with them to win an election.

The fact that Trump has decided against endorsing article 5 does more damage to Europe that a $119 billion shortfall in funding.


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