Brazile, who took over as temporary DNC chair from Debbie Wasserman Schultz, saw documents in which Hillary Clinton’s campaign loaned money to the DNC in exchange for essentially fully control of the party apparatus a year before she was officially nominated.
Comment: Bernie Sanders and his supporters had claimed the process was rigged. Brazile’s new book say they were right.
Neither Clinton nor Wasserman Schultz has commented.
If you are still shocked by this kind of corruption, you haven’t been paying attention.
[Tony] Podesta has long been a larger than life figure on K Street, growing his business from a boutique firm into a massive lobbying and public relations operation. He is well known for his flashy dressing, vast art collection, generous campaign donations across all levels of Democratic politics and, of course, for his brother John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman. –Politico
This comes after ‘Rent’ star Anthony Rapp gave an interview claiming that a then-26-year-old Spacey tried to sexually assault him when he was 14 in 1986
Spacey responded to that allegation with a rambling statement in which he said he did not recall the incident, apologized to Rapp and then came out as gay.
‘I am sorry that Kevin only saw fit to acknowledge his truth when he though it would serve him — just as his denial served him for so many years,’ said Zachary Quinto. –Daily Mail
Comment: There are two separate issues here.
One is despicable, if Spacey actually did what he is accused of, namely sexual assaults, especially against children.
The other is openly gay actors attacking Spacey for not coming out earlier as gay. That is a completely distinct issue. They want to build support for open declaration of their sexual orientation. On the other hand, he has a personal right to privacy.
The privacy versus openness issue is interesting and debatable.
The sexual assault allegation are not. They should be investigated for criminal activity. Spacey gave a non-denial apology, saying he didn’t remember, might have been drunk, etc. (I would note that, if he did indeed proposition youngsters, there may well be other instances, which can be investigated.)
Those who say “we all knew” were morally (if not legally) complicit if they knew about assault allegations.
Coming out as gay at a moment when he is being accused seems like throwing dust in the air, trying to obscure the truly serious allegation.
Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple
◆ There are three stories today about Russia’s involvement in US politics, and all three are bad for the Democrats
How big the stories become–how serious the resulting scandals–depends on additional investigation and investigative reporting.
◆ Story #1: That scandalous, largely-discredited “Russian Dossier,” which led to the federal investigations of the Trump Campaign, was financed by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary’s Campaign
The Washington Post broke the story (link here) They report that the Clinton campaign, using a Washington lawyer as a cutout, retained Fusion GPS to do the dirty work. Fusion GPS has fought strenuously to prevent any disclosure of who paid them and invoked their 5th amendment privilege against self-incrimination to avoid testifying before Congress.
The Clinton campaign, like others, used a lawyer to hire these contractors so their communications would be protected by attorney-client privilege.
The Clinton people have never acknowledged a connection to Fusion GPS or the dossier.
◆ Story #2: Mueller’s Russia Probe turns toward key Democratic insiders
Paul Manafort is also a major target but, according to reports, this top Republican operative worked closely with the Podesta Group, closely aligned with the Clintons.
A thus-far-reliable source who used to be involved with Clinton allies John and Tony Podesta told Tucker Carlson that press reports appearing to implicate President Trump in Russian collusion are exaggerated.
The source, who Carlson said he would not yet name, said he worked for the brothers’ Podesta Group and was privy to some information from Robert Mueller’s special investigation.
While media reports describe former “Black, Manafort & Stone” principal Paul Manafort as Trump’s main tie to the investigation, the source said it is Manafort’s role as a liaison between Russia and the Podesta Group that is drawing the scrutiny.
The “vehicle” Manafort worked for was what Carlson called a “sham” company with a headquarters listed in Belgium but whose contact information was linked to Kiev, the Ukrainian capital. –Fox News
Comment: National news media have not reported this news.
◆ Story #3: Russian bribery, money-laundering, speaker fees to Bill Clinton, and over $100 million to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary was Sec. of State and the Russians were federal approval to buy US uranium assets
Actually House Republicans announced two new investigations (link here):
In the first of two back-to-back announcements, the top Republicans on the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees said they would formally examine the Obama Justice Department’s investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s emails. Less than an hour later, Republicans from the Intelligence and Oversight Committees said they were opening a separate inquiry into the administration’s approval of a 2010 agreement that left a Russian-backed company in control of much of the United States’ uranium. –New York Times
Comment: The NYT story downplays the significance and suggests it is all simply partisan squabbling about a now-departed administration.
I think they underestimate the possible ramifications of both investigations.
The Uranium One deal is a particularly thorny issue for the Clintons and the Obama Administration because Obama’s FBI and DOJ knew of Russian bribery and other criminal activity before the deal was approved. Congress was not informed, as it should have been. Their objections might have blocked the deal. The public was kept completely in the dark. Mueller was head of the FBI at this time. One of the Russians reportedly involved in this illegal activity was given a US visa twice during this period by Hillary’s State Department. One major question is whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has recused himself from these Russia issues, will appoint a Special Counsel to investigate this and perhaps the Clinton emails, where then FBI-director Comey wrote a memo clearing Hillary long before key witnesses had been interviewed.
The most important implication: The FBI (under Mueller) looks to be deeply compromised.
◆Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) will not run for re-election. He and Sen. Bob Corker (D-TN), who is also retiring, lacerated Pres. Trump in speeches, interviews, and social media. Their rebukes are reported here(Reuters)
Flake’s attack was on Trump’s conduct and dishonesty. Flake’s actual voting record is very supportive of Trump legislation.
Flake, who has very high disapproval numbers in his home state, was likely to lose his primary contest.
All seven members of the Party’s Standing Committee were in their 60s. Rising stars in their 50s were not included.
Comment: The absence of an heir-apparent, Xi’s cult of personality, and his name’s inclusion in the party constitution all raise speculation he might eventually seek a third-term, which had been ruled out after Mao’s death.
“On many levels, mathematics itself operates as Whiteness. Who gets credit for doing and developing mathematics, who is capable in mathematics, and who is seen as part of the mathematical community is generally viewed as White,” [Prof. Rochelle] Gutiérrez argued [in a book aimed at K-12 math teachers].
Truly, you cannot make this up. Here’s what the professor writes:
If one is not viewed as mathematical, there will always be a sense of inferiority that can be summoned,” she says, adding that there are so many minorities who “have experienced microaggressions from participating in math classrooms… [where people are] judged by whether they can reason abstractly.”
To fight this, Gutiérrez encourages aspiring math teachers to develop a sense of “political conocimiento,” a Spanish phrase for “political knowledge for teaching.”
Comment #1: Please note, Prof. Gutiérrez thinks it is rank racism to judge people in a math class on whether they can reason abstractly. In fact, math is abstract reasoning.
Comment #2: Why, Professor, does all this whiteness and white privilege in math not seem to hold back Asians and Asian-Americans in US math classes? This is not a trivial issue or mere debating point. Note, too, that many of the Asian-American students come from lower-income families. Hmmmm.
Comment #3: Gutiérrez is a professor of education, where this kind of political blather, masquerading as scholarship, is commonplace. Poor scholarship and political propaganda are major problems in Ed Schools across the country. So is the soft curriculum, which leads to adverse selection (namely, compared to other students, those who major in education consistently have some of the lowest SATs and lowest GPAs outside their majors).
I remember all the justified complaints by feminists when a Barbie doll said, “Math is hard.” They said, rightly, that the comments were demeaning to women and sending the wrong message to girls. Sorry to see Prof. Gutiérrez sending the same message to minorities and dressing up in the costume of social justice.
Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple
◆ Tax Cuts, Tax Reform gaining momentum
The Senate passed a Budget Resolution, the essential prelude to any effort to pass tax reform. Without the resolution, the tax bill could be stopped unless it had 60 votes. With the resolution, it needs 50 votes.
Analysis: Whether it can get 50 votes depends on the details, which will affect different states, income groups, and economic sectors differently.
Ending the deduction for state and local taxes, for example, hurts high-income people in high-tax states. That could cost Republican House votes if they represent such districts. (Most analysis misses the point that the state taxes hit high earners more so Republicans from middle-class districts might not be affected.)
Giving everyone a large standard deduction sounds great . . . except to the residential real-estate industry, which thinks it will render mortage deductions meaningless for many middle-income buyers.
Plus, we don’t yet know the breakpoints between tax brackets, so the impact on middle-income families cannot be forecast accurately.
Politically, the Republicans must pass tax cuts. Whether they must pass larger reforms is less obvious. But even “must pass” legislation is a problem for this bunch.
Since the testimony was behind closed doors, it is unclear if she knew or assented to the requests, if she knows who made the requests, or if “masking” an unmasking request is itself illegal. It is certainly unethical.
Comment #1: This massive unmasking for what seems like political purposes by the Obama Administration is not only a scandal in its own right. It will have real effects on national security if it blocks the renewal of FISA court authority, which must be done soon.
Comment #2: It has also been reported that the FBI and DOJ knew about Russian bribery to obtain uranium ownership during the Obama years, when Hillary Clinton was Sec. of State. Bill Clinton was paid substantial funds personally for speaking to Russian entities at this time and the family foundation received vast sums (over $100 million) from investors with stakes in the transaction.
This investigation was not revealed to the heads of Congressional Intelligence Committee, as is required.
Moreover, this Russian scandal directly involves the FBI when it was head by . . . . Robert Mueller, now in charge of investigating Russian scandals.
The region’s president, Carles Puigdemont, did not renounce independence despite a Thursday deadline imposed by the central government.
The escalating confrontation between Madrid and Spain’s most prosperous region sent ripples of unease across the continent, where European Union leaders are already wary of fissures within the bloc.
Spain’s worst political crisis in nearly four decades of democracy could hamper a still fragile economic recovery in the country as a whole and cause particular financial harm to Catalonia, which is already experiencing a flurry of corporate flight. –Los Angeles Times
◆Comment on Presidents and Fallen Soldier in separate ZipDialog post(here)
A Russian nuclear executive, whose company was the target of an FBI investigation and who admitted to corrupt payments to influence the awarding of contracts with the Russian state-owned nuclear energy corporation, paid millions of dollars in consulting fees to an American firm in 2009 and 2010 to lobby the U.S. regulatory agencies and assist the Russian’s who were then attempting to acquire twenty percent of American uranium, according to court documents, a former FBI informant and extensive interviews with law enforcement sources.
Roughly $3 million in payments from 2010 to 2011 were made to APCO Worldwide Inc., which is described on their website as the second largest lobbying firm in the United States. The firm also provided in kind pro-bono services to Bill Clinton’s foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative, services they begin 2007, according to APCO officials who spoke with Circa
and press releases from the company. It was during the same time that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was part of the Obama administration board that would eventually approve the sale of the U.S. uranium to Russia. –Sara A. Carter at Circa
NBC News is coming under increasing criticism for its failure to investigate why its embattled president, Noah Oppenheim, spiked a bombshell story that would have been the first to expose Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein as a sexual predator.
An NBC spokesperson says the network is not investigating the matter, despite new revelations that Oppenheim sat at small table with Weinstein at an exclusive New York gala in April, when Oppenheim reportedly already knew that his reporter, celebrity scion Ronan Farrow, had obtained damning audio recordings in which Weinstein admitted groping the breasts of an Italian model. –Fox News (link here)
Scott Rosenberg worked with Weinstein and company for almost a decade:
“Everybody fucking knew,” he wrote (not once, not twice, but three times) in a lyrical, near novella-length Facebook response to those shrinking away from responsibility in enabling Weinstein’s behavior.
Hollywood’s general unwillingness to face the music of personal accountability for the rot in their own industry added insult to injury in the onslaught of allegations. Because those (seemingly) well-meaning yet spineless responses only ensure one thing: that this will keep happening. –Mashable
Comment: Mr. Rosenberg’s choice of words is certainly apt.
I just hope this little unpleasantness doesn’t keep Hollywood from preaching to the rest of us.
◆ John Kelly speaks eloquently about his son’s combat death, says he was “stunned” by a Congresswoman’s criticism of Pres. Trump’s condolence call
That company, Fusion GPS and its head, Glenn R. Simpson, have no attorney-client privilege for the dossier.
Nevertheless, they are effectively refusing to cooperate with Congressional investigators, who have requested relevant documents.
What Fusion GPS gave them instead was thousands of blank pages and publicly-available news clips.
Fusion GPS is at the center of the Trump-Russia Collusion Story
Fusion GPS received unverified materials (some now discredited) from former British spy, Christopher Steele. British court documents show that the materials were exchanged via encrypted communications.
If the dossier was just bad opposition research, it would be par for the course in politics and not worth much investigation.
But the dossier, with its nasty, unverified, and salacious (but false) charges against Trump, turned out to be very consequential.
It was this unverified dossier that then-FBI chief James Comey relied upon to launch his own agency’s investigation and later leaked to the press to force a Special Counsel investigation.
Very consequential, indeed.
The best reporters on these intelligence issues, Fox’s Catherine Herridge and Pamela Browne, say this:
In March, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, wrote to Simpson asking if Steele – who compiled the raw, unverified intelligence – was simultaneously paid by Simpson’s firm Fusion GPS for his work and the FBI for the investigation of then-candidate Trump and his associates.
Separately, the House Intelligence Committee has issued subpoenas to the FBI for records on the FBI’s relationship with Steele, Fox News is told. –Herridge, Browne, and Cyd Upson for Fox News
Who Is Behind the Dossier? Who Paid for It?
Where Did the Unverified Information Originate?
One very credible Congressional witness, Bill Browder (high on Putin’s enemies list), has publicly testified that Fusion GPS and its founder, Glenn Simpson, were behind stories meant to discredit Browder and smear his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky.
According to Browder, Simpson was peddling these smears to various media. One of Simpson’s allegations: Magnitsky, who was killed in Russia, was an underworld figure. Western sources think the Kremlin was behind the killing. The implication is that Fusion GPS was trying to clear Putin of a political murder.
The Magnitsky Act and Fusion GPS
The lawyer’s assassination is particularly important because the latest US sanctions against Russia are named for attorney: the Magnitsky Act.
Repealing that act is one of Putin’s highest priorities, and Fusion GPS’s actions further that goal.
You will remember that the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskya, who met with Trump campaign officials in June 2016 was mainly interested in repealing the Magnitsky Act.
Interestingly, Simpson’s spokesman at Fusion GPS was a special adviser to then-AG Eric Holder, so the firm is not just “lawyered up,” it has hired people with connections to senior Democrats.
Simpson’s goal is to delay, delay, delay and hope the Senate gets tired of the investigation.
If he doesn’t produce documents and testify, they will charge him with contempt.
When Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch ran the DOJ, they simply ignored the Congressional findings of contempt.
Sessions’ DOJ will take them before a judge for enforcement.
Knowing that, and knowing that testifying about his secret dealings and sources of funding could ruin his lucrative business, Glenn Simpson is trying rope-a-dope delaying tactics.
The bill aims to prioritize workers’ skills over family ties, and amounts to the “most significant reform to our immigration system in half a century,” Trump said. The goal of the bill would be to knock down the number of legal immigrants admitted into the U.S. each year from about 1 million to 500,000 by 2027.
The RAISE bill would cut out the four-tiered family immigration category for green cards, paving way for a new merit-based system that prioritizes high-skilled workers who have a high level of English and “entrepreneurial initiative.” –ABC News
Comment: The two central elements of the bill are inherently separable. Shifting to a merit-based system does not entail raising or lowering the number of people legally admitted. If lower-skilled workers are still needed for some jobs, then an amendment could admit them on a temporary basis–but only if there was some tough measures to ensure they left after that period. Right now, there aren’t.
Bipartisan support? Not a chance. The Democrats are already lining up to say how racist it is. It isn’t.
What’s interesting is that the cutbacks will clear bolster employment opportunities and wages for lower-income Americans–precisely the people Democrats claim they want to help. Unfortunately for Democrats, it cuts into Hispanic immigration, or, to put it differently, into the Identity Politics that is now the true heart of the party. Forced to choose between Identity Politics and Lower-income workers (including many blacks and Hispanics), the Democrats are going with Identity.
Interesting question: will African-American Democrats go along? My bet is that they will, but that they will try to keep a low profile to avoid attention from their voters (who will be harmed). Pelosi and other House Democratic leaders will say, “If blacks and Hispanic members split on this, we’ll lose our leverage.”
Actually, they don’t have any leverage. The real leverage will come from the US Chamber of Commerce, and it will be on Republicans, some of whom will cave.
⇒ Followup: What Did the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) leaders say today? Crickets
I checked the Twitter feeds for these officers of the CBC:
None tweeting anything about the immigration proposal. Most of the other members, even the most voluble, such as Maxine Waters, maintained twitter silence on immigration.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee was the only prominent CBC member I found who weighed in. Her tweet lays out the likely response of African-American Democrats: We hate Trump, so we hate his immigration bill.
Comment: It is blindingly obvious, at least to me, that these universities discriminate against Asian-Americans. Just look at their percentages (15-25%), compared to about 50% at Berkeley, which is legally prohibited from such discrimination–and would have a hard time doing it politically in California. Granted, California has more Asian-Americans, but the proportions at the Ivies are out of whack.
My guess is that the admissions departments say what they did about Jews 60 years ago: “We just have too many of these students who score 800 in math, 700 in verbal, and play the violin. They just aren’t ‘well-rounded.’ ” No matter that these students’ parents, like Jewish parents of an earlier generation, had modest incomes, encouraged their bright kids to study hard, and then watched as Harvard and Princeton smacked them down for far less-qualified students.
The only argument in Harvard’s favor is one they would never use: we are a private university and, until the government nationalizes us, we can set our own damned admissions standards, even if you think they are unfair.
The government’s response, “Hey, buddy, nice genetic research program you got there. Hate to see all the money taken away from it.” That, of course, is how the government enforces its Title IX rules on athletic programs.
State NAACP leaders told the [Kansas City] Star that the decision to issue the advisory was made after recent legislation passed in the state which makes it harder to win discrimination suits, the longtime and continued racial disparities in traffic enforcement, and a number of incidents that exemplify harm coming to both minority residents and minority visitors to the state. –The Root
According to the Clearwater Police report obtained by The Smoking Gun, [25-year old Brissa] Dominguez had trespassed onto the Edge Hotel’s property at approximately 4:20 a.m. on July 5. Officer Richard Edmonds later arrived on the scene to find Dominguez naked, so he handed her a towel. But instead of covering up, Dominguez used the towel to “strike [Edmonds] in the face by swinging it in a whipping motion.”
Dominguez then proceeded to kick at the responding officers. The police report says she also tried biting and spitting on an officer before delivering a “mule kick” to Edmonds as police attempted to restrain her.
It’s like an Agatha Christie movie as we wait to find out which one is left alive.
◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆
Comment on the basic political problem facing Republicans on the healthcare bill
The biggest problem for Republicans who want a smaller central government but still want to be reelected is this:
Obamacare subsidizes health insurance for everyone up to four times the poverty level.
That’s extremely costly, of course, and actually has the perverse effect of lowering the quality of care (to keep costs down) and channeling subsidies away from the most needy (because so much is devoted to others, just above them).
Whatever the problems, people get hooked on “free” benefits, especially if somebody else is paying.
Unwinding those benefits is nearly impossible politically.
The Democrats knew that when they passed the bill.
Indeed, passing out such largess and locking in these big-government social programs has been the basic Democratic strategy since the mid-1960s.
That’s exactly what they did here.
Among the beneficiaries are lots of “working poor,” including the lower-middle-class whites who voted for Trump but won’t vote for Senators who take away their benefits.
What Republicans are coming to recognize, however painfully, is that they may be able to scale back the subsidies a bit and promote market-based solutions, but they cannot undo the basic features of the Obama-Reid-Pelosi subsidy program. It has already metastasized.
The hires came after the DEA launched an aggressive campaign to curb a rising opioid epidemic that has resulted in thousands of overdose deaths each year. In 2005, the DEA began to crack down on companies that were distributing inordinate numbers of pills such as oxycodone to pain-management clinics and pharmacies around the country.
Since then, the pharmaceutical companies and law firms that represent them have hired at least 42 officials from the DEA — 31 of them directly from the division responsible for regulating the industry. –Washington Post