Thursday, September 21, 2017

A Huge Serving Of Baked Alaska

How bad is the Graham-Cassidy Trumpcare bill in the Senate?  It's so awful, Republicans are trying to buy off GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski's vote by letting Alaska keep Obamacare.

Let that sink in for a bit.

According to the aide, here is a summary of what the new draft of the bill entails:
"This draft includes 3 separate provisions benefitting Alaska.

Alaska (along with Hawaii) will continue to receive Obamacare’s premium tax credits while they are repealed for all other states. It appears this exemption will not affect Alaska receiving its state allotment under the new block grant in addition to the premium tax credits.

Delays implementation of the Medicaid per capita caps for Alaska and Hawaii for years in which the policy would reduce their funding below what they would have received in 2020 plus CPI-M [Consumer Price Index for Medical Care].

Provides for an increased federal Medicaid matching rate (FMAP) for both Alaska and Hawaii."

The changes aren't final, and it remains to be seen whether they'll be enough to win Murkowski's vote.

Who knows if she'll vote for it, but Republicans are willing to let Alaska (and Hawaii) keep Obamacare and avoid massive Medicaid cuts just to get one vote.

So why isn't that good enough for everyone else in America, you ask?

Good question.

That's Some Funny-Looking Economic Anxiety You Got There

We've now reached the point where in the Trump era here in the Tri-State, the coal jobs are never coming back, but the white supremacists are coming in.

A burly young man pulls into the parking lot of a Walmart on a weekday afternoon. He leans out the window of his beat-up white sedan and grins. 
“Ya’ll looking for some neo-Nazis?” 
Meet Matthew Heimbach, the white nationalist who has set up shop in this small town an hour northwest of Louisville. From Paoli, he controls the Traditionalist Worker Party, a small but growing white nationalist organization. 
In the last few years, Heimbach, 26, has emerged as a leader for the “alt-right,” a movement that espouses racist, anti-semitic and nationalist ideologies. He has played a key role in uniting the fractious movement, an effort that coalesced with the deadly rally last month in Charlottesville, Va. 
“Heimbach is a well-known figure in the white supremacist community,” said Marilyn Mayo, who tracks hate groups for the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. “He bridges the gap between what I call the academic racists and the hard-core neo-Nazis.”

The Traditionalist Worker Party is a white-rights advocacy group that is anti-capitalist, anti-semitic and anti-diversity. The group’s ultimate goal is the creation of an all-white ethno-state that people of other races would need a visa to visit.

Young Matt here wants an apartheid state.  Charming guy, he just wants to kick me out of where I live because I'm black.  No big deal.

Heimbach’s plan to appeal to white working-class voters focuses less on Confederate statues and rallies, and more on grassroots community organizing. He said the Traditionalist Worker Party plans to start health clinics, support small businesses, combat food insecurity and work with those affected by the opioid crisis in under-served communities. 
That recruitment approach, Heimbach said, is modeled after “Hamas, Hezbollah, (and) traditionally, the Irish Republican movement.” 
The U.S. State Department considers those groups terrorist organizations. They have used bombings, assassinations and violent uprisings to advance their nationalist goals in Palestine, Lebanon and Ireland, respectively. They also have gained local influence by offering community services, building schools and providing food to families.
The community building is the part Heimbach hopes to emulate. 
“When the system is unable or unwilling to fulfill the needs of the community, the nationalists step up,” he said. 
Heimbach’s group held a canned food drive before the Pikeville rally. He said a few members in Texas helped out with Hurricane Harvey relief. Beyond that, though, the group hasn’t built any social service infrastructure. 
The Traditionalist Worker Party bills itself as nonviolent, except when provoked. Heimbach recently pleaded guilty to shoving a protester at a March 2017 Trump rally in Louisville, and the group has been involved in rallies that turned violent. 
The terrorists groups cited by Heimbach also legitimized themselves by winning elections. In 2016, the Traditionalist Worker Party endorsed a candidate in a Tennessee congressional race. Rick Tyler’s “Make America White Again” campaign garnered only 1.9 percent of the vote. In Heimbach’s version of events, he recalled it being closer to 5 percent. 

Worked for Sinn Fein, worked for Hamas, worked for Golden Dawn in Greece, why not the TWP?

“If we can go from 5 percent of the vote and in the next election cycle get 9 percent of the vote and then 12 percent of the vote, that’s the snowball starting to go down the mountain,” he said. 
He said he has lined up Traditionalist Worker Party candidates to run in 2018 for an Indiana county council seat and several local, nonpartisan races in Texas, North Carolina and Tennessee. 
Voters won’t hear claims of “Make America White Again” or see TWP logos on any campaign mailers. Instead, they’re likely to hear Heimbach catchphrases like “securing a future for our children,” “advocating for the silent majority” or appeals to “those left behind by globalism.” No one will use the word “white.” 
Heimbach said TWP doesn’t shy away from discussing race, but candidates are looking to avoid what he calls the “media firestorm of voting TWP.” 
“I think in 2018 we’re going to win at least several of these races and it’s not going to be a big media spectacle, because they’re not having to identify with a party, they just identify with their ideas,” said Heimbach.

They just have to identify with the idea of white supremacy.  Considering the majority of white voters already do (hi Trump!) they can probably get that 3, 6, 12% down to road.  How that will affect the Republican Party is anyone's guess.

But hey,  if they can make the trains run on time, right?

Russian To Judgment, Con't

We're apparently not waiting until Fridays anymore for the news dumps on Trump/Russia anymore, and Tuesday afternoon was a big one.  First up, confirmation that Team Mueller definitely has the White House square in the crosshairs.

Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, has asked the White House for documents about some of President Trump’s most scrutinized actions since taking office, including the firing of his national security adviser and F.B.I. director, according to White House officials. 
Mr. Mueller is also interested in an Oval Office meeting Mr. Trump had with Russian officials in which he said the dismissal of the F.B.I. director had relieved “great pressure” on him.

Why yes, Mueller is going after Trump for obstruction of justice.  And there's a lot of obstruction there to bust through.

The document requests provide the most details to date about the breadth of Mr. Mueller’s investigation, and show that several aspects of his inquiry are focused squarely on Mr. Trump’s behavior in the White House. 
In recent weeks, Mr. Mueller’s office sent a document to the White House that detailed 13 different areas that investigators want more information about. Since then, administration lawyers have been scouring White House emails and asking officials whether they have other documents or notes that may pertain to Mr. Mueller’s requests.
One of the requests is about a meeting Mr. Trump had in May with Russian officials in the Oval Office the day after James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director, was fired. That day, Mr. Trump met with the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, and the Russian ambassador to the United States at the time, Sergey I. Kislyak, along with other Russian officials. The New York Times reported that in the meeting Mr. Trump had said that firing Mr. Comey relieved “great pressure” on him. 
Mr. Mueller has also requested documents about the circumstances of the firing of Michael T. Flynn, who was Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser. Additionally, the special counsel has asked for documents about how the White House responded to questions from The Times about a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower. That meeting was set up by Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, to get derogatory information from Russians about Hillary Clinton.

Let me repeat this for the folks in the cheap seats: Trump is definitely a target in this investigation. There are three aspects here, the Russia money laundering, the Russian interference with the election, and the obstruction of justice to cover those first two up.  Kushner and the Trump kids (Eric and Don Jr.) are neck deep in the first, Flynn and Manafort are neck deep in the second, and Trump himself is neck deep in the third.  On top of that, there's a significant chance that all of these clowns are involved in all three aspects, and that Pence was brought in and up to speed on the last two.

And speaking of Manafort, there should be zero doubt now that he was a Russian asset

Less than two weeks before Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination, his campaign chairman offered to provide briefings on the race to a Russian billionaire closely aligned with the Kremlin, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Paul Manafort made the offer in an email to an overseas intermediary, asking that a message be sent to Oleg Deripaska, an aluminum magnate with whom Manafort had done business in the past, these people said.

“If he needs private briefings we can accommodate,” Manafort wrote in the July 7, 2016, email, portions of which were read to The Washington Post along with other Manafort correspondence from that time.

The emails are among tens of thousands of documents that have been turned over to congressional investigators and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team as they probe whether Trump associates coordinated with Russia as part of Moscow’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.

There is no evidence in the documents showing that Deripaska received Manafort’s offer or that any briefings took place. And a spokeswoman for Deripaska dismissed the email ex­changes as scheming by “consultants in the notorious ‘beltway bandit’ industry.”

Nonetheless, investigators believe that the exchanges, which reflect Manafort’s willingness to profit from his prominent role alongside Trump, created a potential opening for Russian interests at the highest level of a U.S. presidential campaign, according to people familiar with the probe.

Several of the ex­changes, which took place between Manafort and a Kiev-based employee of his international political consulting practice, focused on money that Manafort believed he was owed by Eastern European clients.

The notes appear to be written in deliberately vague terms, with Manafort and his employee, Konstantin Kilimnik, never explicitly mentioning Deripaska by name.

Investigators believe that key passages refer to Deripaska. The billionaire is referenced in some places by his initials, “OVD,” and one email invokes an expensive Russian delicacy in what investigators believe is a veiled reference to Manafort’s past work with Deripaska.

Deripaska is bad news, by the way.  Had him flagged all the way back in August 2016 when it became clear that Manafort was on his way out.  He's arguably one of the most powerful members of Putin's circle of oligarchs, and he hired Manafort before.  In fact, Manafort's business dealings with Deripaska go all the way back to 2006, which if you'll recall is also the date when Mueller's investigation of Manafort stretches back to.

But yeah, at this point we've got to be getting close to the point where Mueller makes his recommendations about possible charges, "close" being "later this year" in this case.  We'll see.


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