Friday, July 13, 2018

Last Call For The Trump Tax Scam, Con't

The GOP tax cut bill was supposed to put more money in American workers' paychecks and lead to a bright economic future.  Of course, anyone with a half-a-brain would have told you that was complete nonsense and that corporations already making record profits would use that windfall to make themselves richer rather than give a dime to the workers who made it possible, and now the numbers are in that prove not only that corporate America looted all that money at taxpayer expense, but that worker wages in 2018 have actually gone down for most Americans.

Six months after the Tax Cut and Jobs Act became law, there's still little evidence that the average job holder is feeling the benefit.

Worker pay in the second quarter dropped nearly one percent below its first-quarter level, according to the PayScale Index, one measure of worker pay. When accounting for inflation, the drop is even steeper. Year-over-year, rising prices have eaten up still-modest pay gains for many workers, with the result that real wages fell 1.4 percent from the prior year, according to PayScale. The drop was broad, with 80 percent of industries and two-thirds of metro areas affected.

"Now, economic confidence has been good, we're in a strong economy, GDP is growing, but the question has been, where's the paycheck?" said Katie Bardaro, vice president of data analytics at PayScale.

The answer is, largely, in the companies' coffers. Businesses are spending nearly $700 billion on repurchasing their own stock so far this year, according to research from TrimTabs. Corporations set a record in Q2, announcing $433 billion worth of buybacks — nearly doubling the previous record, which was set in Q1.

In just the first six months of the year, companies took the generous gift that Republican lawmakers gave them at our expense and have spent more than $700 billion on stock buybacks and workers didn't get a penny.  In fact, thanks to higher prices at the pump and the grocery store -- and now thanks to much higher prices coming due to Trump's trade wars with China, the EU, Mexico and Canada -- things are going to get a lot worse for the average American in the second half of the year.

Prices are going to go up, and wages are going down.  But that's what our corporate masters wanted from the GOP, and that's exactly what they got: record profits and by the end of the year it'll be well over a trillion bucks taken out of taxpayer pockets to make corporations even richer.

Of course, that was the whole point of the bill...

It's Mueller Time, Con't

As Donald Trump continues his European trip and will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday in Finland, Special Counsel Robert Mueller just handed him a Siberian-sized diplomatic headache with almost exquisite timing.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking offenses related to the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

The 12, who are members of the GRU, a Russian intelligence agency, are accused of stealing usernames and passwords of volunteers in Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign, including its chairman John Podesta. They also hacked into the computer network of the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, in an operation starting around March 2016.

The charges include conspiracy to commit an offense against the U.S., aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to launder money. They are accused of releasing the stolen emails on the web.

The announcement came only three days before President Donald Trump is to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. 
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told reporters Friday that “I briefed President Trump about these allegations earlier this week. The president is fully aware of the department’s actions.”

Now I know that federal prosecutors are, as a rule, rat bastards.  But it's damn funny when they are actually rat bastards towards somebody who deserves to be screwed over by rat bastards.

Rosenstein said two separate Russian units of the GRU intelligence agency stole emails and information from Democrats and then disseminated it via online personas, DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0. He also said there’s no allegation in the indictment that any American was involved in the operation. 
“The object of the conspiracy was to hack into the computers of U.S. persons and entities involved in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, steal documents from those computers, and stage releases of the stolen documents to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election," the indictment said. 
The Russians masked their activities by using cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin to buy servers, register Internet domains and make other payments in the hacking operation, according to the indictment. It said the Russians also funded the operation in part by “mining” Bitcoin. 
With the charges, Mueller’s prosecutors have marked out another Internet pathway they say Russia used to influence the U.S. election. On Feb. 16, his prosecutors charged 13 Russians and three Russian entities they said were part of a broader effort to sow discord among U.S. voters through social media -- which they used to impersonate Americans, coordinate with unwitting U.S. activists and even plan rallies.

Trump told reporters in London Friday that he will “absolutely firmly” ask Putin about the finding by U.S. intelligence agencies that he authorized the campaign of interference. But he added, “I don’t think you’ll have any ‘Gee, I did it, I did it, you got me” confession.

Spoilers: The Russians did it, and Putin ordered it, and both Trump and Putin know it.  They hacked into the DNC and the Clinton campaign with the absolute intent to interfere in the 2016 election.  And Donald Trump and the GOP have regularly stated that they do not want this investigated because they directly benefited from this.

Mueller knows all that too.  This is pretty huge, as we now have Mueller flat out saying that a dozen GRU agents raided the Clinton campaign and stole information.  The Russians conducted an operation to attack our elections, which is what I told you guys 23 months ago.  At the very least Trump should cancel that meeting with Putin and start expelling Russian diplomats like baseballs in a pitching machine.

We're finally getting to the point where Trump won't be able to let the Mueller probe continue without permanent damage to himself.  Ryan Reilly at HuffPo breaks it down as the witch hunt sure has found a lot of actual practicing spellcasters, guys.

Here are the most crucial revelations the 29-page grand jury indictment brings to light.
  • Chiefly, the indictment names names. The defendants were part of the Russian Federation’s Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff (GRU). GRU units 26165 and 74455, the indictment says, “conducted large-scale cyber operations to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.”
  • The defendants, according to the indictment, were specifically involved in the effort to hack Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. The Russians also “monitored the computers of dozens of [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] and DNC employees.”
  • The Russians searched DCCC computers for terms like “hillary,” “cruz,” and “trump” and copied a folder titled “Benghazi Investigations.”
  • “DCLeaks” ― a website launched in June 2016 to post hacked emails mostly targeting Democrats ― claimed to be run by “American hacktivists.” It wasn’t. The same computer that ran the DCLeaks Twitter account also managed a Twitter account called @BaltimoreIsWhr that posted images with the hashtag #BlacksAgainstHillary.
  • Using the name “Guccifer 2.0,” the Russians told Trump associate Roger Stone ― identified in the indictment as “a person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump” ― that it would be their “great pleasure” to help.

Oh and this bit:

  • As the journalist Marcy Wheeler points out, the indictment also indicates that Russia had access to the Clinton team’s analytics, which could offer the Russians a guide to targeting voters as part of their effort to hurt Clinton’s campaign.

The Russians had Hillary's campaign battle plan.  They knew exactly what her campaign team was telling her.  You wanna bet they offered that info to Trump's guys?   Like say, this would be helpful info for formulating an attack on her in states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, right?

This one is particularly fun:

  • WikiLeaks ― named as “Organization 1” in the indictment ― worked with the Russians to time the release of hacked emails to have the greatest impact on the election. WikiLeaks thought Clinton had only a 25 percent chance of losing to Trump, but evidently thought “conflict between [Vermont Sen.] bernie [Sanders] and hillary” could help.

I told you WikiLeaks was a Russian front this two years ago as well.

But here's the money shot:

  • Last but not least, on Aug. 15, 2016, a “candidate for the U.S. Congress” requested stolen documents from the Russians posing as Guccifer 2.0. They obliged, and “sent the candidate stolen documents related to the candidate’s opponent.” The congressional candidate in question hasn’t been identified.

You can absolutely bet that candidate was a Republican, and that the candidate in question is sweating bullets the size of tank rounds about right now.  I fully expect that candidate won that election in 2016, and is most likely in Congress today.  Now, it's possible that this particular member of Congress is one of the many Republicans who announced their retirement this year, but whoever that person is?

They are done.  That's collusion, guys. And I'm betting this person wasn't alone, either.  I bet there's a lot more people who requested info from the Guccifer 2.0 Russians, including stolen DNC emails. Suddenly that explains why so many Republicans are so hellbent on not investigating this Russian operation.

Stay tuned.  Mueller just opened this biggest can of worms so far in this investigation.

More is on the way.

How Much SUV Could A Woodchuck Chuck...

Winter in Wisconsin is tough.

So tough, in fact, that living creatures might go searching for shelter in unlikely places.

House Speaker Paul Ryan explained Thursday that a family of woodchucks moved into his Chevy Suburban recently, eating the wiring, and rendering the car useless.

"My car was eaten by animals," Ryan said, to laughs from an audience at an event hosted by the Economic Club of Washington D.C. "It's just dead."

The car was parked at his mother's house in his hometown in Wisconsin, and when she came back from her annual trip to Florida for the winter, it wouldn't start. As a top congressional leader Ryan has a security detail and hasn't been allowed to drive in three years.

"So I towed it into the dealer, they put it up, and they realized that a family of woodchucks lived in the underbody of my Suburban," Ryan said.

Ryan told the story after giving a speech about how he feels Republican policies, like last year's tax overhaul, have helped the economy. He disagreed, however, with President Trump's decisions to impose tariffs on a number of nations, most recently on China.

"The rule book for the global economy of the future is being written right now," Ryan said. "The question is whether the United States will be holding the pen."

Much like Paul Ryan's SUV, the United States has an vicious orange rodent underbody problem.  Besides, the only pens these clowns deserve to get are the federal kind with the decidedly substandard housing options.  For right now, he's too busy running interference for Trump and the rest of the GOP's vast stable of serial sexual abusers.

House Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday indicated he opposed a congressional ethics probe into fellow Republican Rep. Jim Jordan after numerous former Ohio State University wrestlers alleged the lawmaker ignored reports of sexual misconduct when he was an assistant coach at the school in the 1980s and 1990s.

The House Ethics Committee, Ryan said, "investigates things that members do while they’re here, not things that happened a couple of decades ago when they weren’t in Congress."

Ryan said he called Jordan over the weekend to discuss the allegations, as well as to "check in on" the Ohio Republican following news that his nephew had been killed in a car accident.

"I have always known Jim Jordan to be a man of honesty and a man of integrity," Ryan said during a weekly press conference alongside other GOP House leaders.

The retiring speaker's remarks came after President Barack Obama's ethics czar, Norman Eisen, and another government watchdog filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics calling for a "preliminary inquiry" into whether Jordan's response to the allegations.

"If Rep. Jordan’s recent statements — that he had no knowledge that student wrestlers under his supervision were being sexually abused — are false, his present conduct in connection with this serious matter would fail to 'reflect creditably on the House'" in violation of House rules, their letter to the OCE says.

But Ryan will certainly land on his feet somewhere in the vast Right-wing Noise Machine come 2019.  There's no way a former House Speaker doesn't cash in on K Street or FOX News, and he'll have plenty of money to buy a new SUV or six.

The rest of his former constituents in Wisconsin, well, not so much.


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