Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Last Call For Wacky Mix-Ups

Odd how things that would land any of us in jail are just "mix-ups" when you're a Republican congressman.

Donald Trump’s point man in the House of Representatives improperly used campaign funds on video games and his children’s private Christian school, according to Federal Election Commission filings. And his staff’s explanations for the expenses are not particularly explanatory.

From September 21 through December 16 of last year, Duncan D. Hunter, the Republican congressman from California who endorsed Trump in February, used $1,302 he raised for his reelection campaign on video game fees. Another $1,650 was spent on Christian Unified Schools, a private school district in San Diego, which serves evangelicals.

Joey Kasper, Hunter’s chief of staff, told The Daily Beast it was all a big misunderstanding that was in the process of “being resolved.”

“I’ve got answers for you,” Kasper said. And he did, although they didn’t really help to clarify anything.

Hunter has been in Congress since 2009, when he succeeded his father, Duncan Hunter Sr., who left his office to run, unsuccessfully, for president. The younger Hunter had put himself through college by founding a web design company and then, after September 11, he joined the Marines, serving two tours in Iraq. According to his financial disclosures, Hunter does not have much personal wealth to speak of.

According to Kasper, it was Hunter’s 13-year-old son, also named Duncan, who was to blame for the 67 charges, totaling $1,302, from Steam Games. It’s a gaming platform that allows users to play dozens of different games—including seven versions of Call of Duty—on their computers.

The issue of the video games, Kasper said, was “complicated.”

So, if I had used a company credit card to pay for school tuition or buy $1,300 in video games off of Steam, I'd be fired, I'd have to pay the company back, and most likely they would press charges. Duncan Hunter does it, it's a wacky episode of Seinfeld.

But hey, let's be sure to grind Alan Grayson under an ethics investigation while we're at it.

I guess Hunter would have been in real trouble if he had accidentally bought lobster or t-bone steaks with that money, huh?  I guess we would have to test him for drugs in order to shame him off the public dime.


That Big Grayson Area, Con't

With all the newfound scrutiny on offshore hedge funds and tax havens thanks to the Panama Papers, it wasn't going to be long before the fallout started hitting US politicians, and the obvious choice to get roasted over this in a fit of pique is Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson.

There is “a substantial reason to believe” that U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson broke federal law and House ethics rules in connection with his offshore hedge fund and other actions in office, according to an investigative report released Tuesday.

But the House Committee on Ethics, which received the report, said the probe into Grayson requires “further review,” so it did not announce any final decision about his fate.

Investigators were initially looking into whether Grayson, D-Orlando, used his position in Congress to solicit investors to the Grayson Fund, partially based in the Cayman Islands. But the report also found possible ethical and federal law violations in his work as a lawyer, investments and the use of his office and staff.

Grayson issued a detailed rebuttal to the House Office of Congressional Ethics report in which he denied any wrongdoing. He called it “utterly frivolous” and “replete with amorphous catch-phrases like ‘reason to believe.’ It does not identify any instance where the OCE actually found an ethics violation, or any violation of law.”
Grayson, locked in heated Democratic primary campaign for the U.S. Senate, said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday that the only investors in his hedge fund were longtime friends “who were not persuaded to join the fund because I was a member of Congress.” 
Five gets you six that the "further review" has to do with the Panama Papers.  The Republicans despise Grayson and this is a good vehicle to go on the attack against him.

We'll see where this goes.  I know I've been critical of Grayson in the past, but any ethics committee in a US House run by the GOP is only going to be used for witch hunts against Democrats.  For this to come out 24 hours after the Panama Papers were released?  That's a hell of a coincidence.

Trump Cards, Con't

And speaking of dinosaur fan fiction:

Meet the Brownshirts!
They're The Donald's own security!
Will he
Still have these goons
If he wins our presidency?

One night last week, dozens of chanting activists filed into the lobby of a hotel here, demanding that it cancel a Donald Trump town hall set for the following day. Within minutes, three members of Trump’s advance security team were in the lobby, and things escalated quickly. 
An official with the Trump advance security team, a 61-year-old former FBI agent named Don Albracht, began circling the room, putting his phone in the faces of protesters and filming them. As they chanted “build communities, not walls,” Albracht ripped a sign out of one protester’s hands, jutting his phone within inches of her face, as her comrades shouted objections.

When some of the protesters tried to return the favor by filming Albracht at close range, one of Albracht’s associates pulled a protester away, screaming at her and wagging a finger in her face, an exchange captured in a video taken by activists with the group Stand Up For Racial Justice. 
Neither the Trump campaign nor Albracht would comment on the protest or the role of private security personnel like Albracht on Trump’s campaign. After a Trump speech on Wednesday in Appleton, Wisconsin, Albracht explained “our policy is that we’re not going to comment, because you just never know whether you’re going to get a fair shake.” 
The fracas in Janesville was only one example of the aggressive tactics Trump’s security has been using to tamp down even peaceful protests. A POLITICO investigation revealed that Trump has assembled a privately funded security and intelligence force with a far wider reach than other campaigns’ private security operations: tracking and rooting out protesters, patrolling campaign events and supplementing the Secret Service protection of the billionaire real estate showman during his nontraditional campaign for the GOP presidential nomination
The investigation ― which utilized Federal Election Commission reports, state licensing records, court filings and interview accounts or testimony from more than a dozen people who’ve crossed paths with Trump’s security ― found that the tactics of Trump’s team at times inflamed the already high tensions around his divisive campaign, rather than defusing them.

I honestly believe the comparisons of 2016 America to 1939 Germany have been made so often at this point that they have lost nearly all meaning, but let's try to appreciate the fact that Trump's private security goons are there to "track and root out protesters" while the guy is running for president of an ostensible representative democracy.  Please let that sink in for a bit about what that really means.

All the loud nonsense from the right (and the Useful Idiot Left) about Obama "crushing dissent" and all that is actually what Trump is doing here, and nobody seems very concerned about it.  Luckily, somebody figured out this might be illegal and is actually trying to do something about it.

The Trump campaign could be forced to publicly justify its security tactics in June when a New York state court is set to hear a little-noticed case brought by a handful of protesters who allege they were assaulted by five Trump security officials during a raucous protest outside the campaign’s Manhattan headquarters in September. The protesters’ lawyers have asked the Trump campaign to release its contracts for security, its guidelines for use of force, its security team’s personnel records, and complaints against its members ― including for excessive force, assault, battery or “violation of any federal or state constitutional right.” 
Among Trump critics who’ve had run-ins with his security, complaints include unnecessary force, discriminatory profiling and removing people from events based on little more than their appearance. Some question whether the force’s members are properly trained and certified for the work they’re doing, while others assert that the force acts as if it has the power of the law behind it. 
It was this privatized mercenary force that seemed to have state sanctioning, and that’s something that I haven’t seen before,” said Josh Jenkins, a Madison, Wisconsin, auto mechanic and veteran protester who served as the liaison with police at the Janesville hotel protest.

This is what "crushing dissent" actually looks like, and Trump is happy to do it whenever he can.

Now combine the above with the following, and you know.

A total of 80 percent of Trump supporters strongly or somewhat agree with this. Only supporters of Ted Cruz come close, at 76 percent; keep in mind that Cruz has edged towards Trump on immigration by ruling out legalization for the 11 million forever. Seventy two percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents also believe it, but John Kasich supporters are evenly split. 
Now, “minority groups” is a pretty loose term. But it seems reasonable to speculate that for a lot of Trump supporters (and for a lot of GOP voters) undocumented Latino immigrants constitute one of those groups. Indeed, this idea is perhaps bolstered by other polling: A recent Post survey found that 54 percent of Trump supporters believe that whites losing out to Hispanics and blacks is a bigger problem than the other way around. 
Anecdotal evidence has suggested that Trump supporters are resentful of government benefits that go to undocumented immigrants. Meanwhile, polls have shown that GOP voters and Trump supporters also support his call for mass deportations. 
Today’s Quinnipiac poll also finds that 78 percent of Trump supporters say they are “falling farther and farther behind economically,” a larger percentage than any other candidate. Meanwhile, 85 percent of Trump supporters say that “America has lost its identity.” This suggests the possibility that the “economic anxiety” often described as the source of Trump’s success does matter, but it’s one side of the coin, while the resonance of Trump’s suggestion that he’d turn back the demographic tide through sheer force of will is the other. As Wonkblog’s analysis of recent polling data concluded, Trump supporters tend to believe their “losses are being caused by other group’s gains.”

I mean yeah, we've destroyed Godwin's Law months ago on Trump, but let's really stop pretending that a violent private security force and a campaign run on punishing those people doesn't evoke these awful parallels, guys.

And let's not pretend the rest of the GOP isn't as bad at its core.  Trump's just saying what the racist bloc wants to hear.


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