Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Last Call For Meanwhile In Bevinstan, Con't

Kentucky GOP Gov. Matt Bevin clearly doesn't understand the concept of taking the loss.  After the Kentucky Supreme Court buried his pension "reform" bill that shredded salaries, benefits, and pensions for current and retired state workers (but of course not lawmakers) Bevin called a surprise special session of the state legislature last night and demanded that the General Assembly and State Senate again pass his unconstitutional legislation.

Kentucky lawmakers rushed to Frankfort Monday evening for a special legislative session that started at 8 p.m., just four hours after Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin made a surprise announcement that he would convene them to deal with Kentucky’s struggling pension system.

“I am going to use the powers that have been granted to me to call the legislature into special session that will be effective tonight at eight o’clock,” Bevin said in a brief statement. “They will be coming in.”

Shortly after 11 p.m., two pension overhaul bills were introduced, both sponsored by Rep. Jerry Miller, R-Louisville, the chairman of the House State Government Committee. The committee will hold a hearing on the bills Tuesday at 1 p.m. Miller said there will be no vote taken Tuesday on the bills.

House Bill 1 is similar to Senate Bill 151 — the pension overhaul bill lawmakers approved in April that the Kentucky Supreme Court struck down earlier this month — but with some provisions removed. Gone is a requirement that the legislature switch to a funding method known as level-dollar funding, which requires larger pension payments in the next few years.

House Bill 2 is similar to House Bill 362, the bill that capped pension increases for local governments, school districts and regional universities, but includes a plan that would reduce a 3 percent benefit increase teachers receive when they’ve worked for 30 years to 2.5 percent in 2024.

Miller said the House was treating the bills as a proposal from the governor and that he expected lawmakers to make changes, including removing the benefit reduction for teachers and adding a requirement for level-dollar funding.

As lawmakers arrived at the Capitol in waves, many of them still hadn’t seen the proposed legislation Republicans hoped to pass in short order. The House immediately recessed to give more members time to arrive while the Senate held open its roll call until a quorum of members had arrived by about 8:30 p.m.

Republicans then went behind closed doors to discuss their strategy. The full House resumed briefly at 9:35 p.m. to take roll, then immediately went into another recess.

The confusion bred talk of compromise about a possible abrupt ending to the session among some House Republicans and their Democratic counterparts. House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, and former House Speaker Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, said they planned to team up to file a motion to immediately adjourn the special session, a move that would be a stern rebuttal to a governor who has made addressing the pension crisis a core tenet of his political platform.

“This is typical Matt Bevin, he acts like a spoiled middle school kid who did not get his way,” Hoover said.

Bevin cramming this through the legislature as part of a sewer bill is why the law was struck down.  Yet here he goes again, trying to pass the same bill again.  No wonder Bevin's one of the least popular governors in the country.

Independent polling firm Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy found 38 percent of Kentuckians approved of their governor's performance while 53 percent disapproved. Mason-Dixon, based in Jacksonville and Washington, D.C., interviewed 625 registered Kentucky voters Dec. 12-Dec. 15. The poll has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

Bevin fared only a little better in the conservative bastion of Northern Kentucky, where 40 percent of people surveyed approved and 51 percent disapproved.

A year ago, more Kentuckians approved of Bevin, 45 percent, compared to 41 percent who disapprove, according to Mason-Dixon.

This is not good news for Bevin as he faces re-election in 2019.

The two Democratic candidates running for governor next year, Attorney General Andy Beshear and Kentucky House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins both led Bevin in Mason-Dixon's polling. Beshear led by 8 percentage points, 48 percent to 40 percent while Adkins led by only 1 percentage point, 42 percent to 41 percent.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, a prominent Democrat who is mulling a gubernatorial run but hasn't announced, trailed Bevin by 1 percentage point, 46 percent to 47 percent.

The poll pointed out Kentucky Republicans often trail in the early stages of elections, including Bevin in 2015 when he first won election for governor, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

"Given this recent history, it is far from over for Bevin," the pollsters wrote in the study. "However, Beshear is a formidable opponent who won four years ago in a GOP-friendly state election."

Bevin's doing even worse than Trump is in the polls, and November is fast approaching.  Now he's trying this stupid stunt again to harm Kentucky teachers and cops and firefighters?

We may get Andy Beshear as governor after all.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

Things really, really did not go well for convicted Trump regime co-conspirator and foreign agent Michael Flynn at today's sentencing hearing as the former National Security Adviser suddenly remembered that he had a lot more cooperation to give to federal investigators in order to save himself from decades in prison.

A judge tore into Michael Flynn Tuesday ahead of imposing a sentence on President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser and prominent campaign supporter for lying to the FBI.

Flynn, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general, was an early supporter of the Trump campaign, and infamously called for the incarceration of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during his speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention.

He came under scrutiny for a variety of potential criminal activities, and reached a plea deal in December 2017 with the special counsel team led by Robert Mueller. As part of the deal, he agreed to cooperate and admitted making fraudulent statements in an interview with FBI agents at the White House on Jan. 24, 2017. Flynn stepped down as national security adviser in mid-February 2017, less than a month into the Trump presidency, because the White House says he misled officials there about his contacts with the Russians.

“I’m not hiding my disgust, my disdain for this criminal offense,” U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in Washington told Flynn ahead of the sentencing.

Sullivan also walked through a number of procedural steps to make sure that Flynn was pleading guilty because he was guilty and not for any other reason. He seemed frustrated with many of the arguments from Flynn’s team that he suggested took away from Flynn’s supposed acceptance of responsibility for his crime.

Sullivan had Flynn admit, once again, that he had lied to the FBI and was pleading guilty because he was guilty. He gave Flynn ample opportunity to back out of his guilty plea, discussed with the prosecution the variety of other crimes Flynn could have faced, and said Flynn’s criminal exposure would have been “significant” had be been charged with the other offenses.

“This crime is very serious,” Sullivan said, noting that Flynn lied “In the White House! In the West Wing!” Flynn shouldn’t “minimize” his “very serious” offense, Sullivan said.

“Arguably, you sold your country out,” Sullivan told Flynn. He then asked the government whether undermining U.S. sanctions against Russia for their interference in the 2016 election could be considered treason, a suggestion the government didn’t want to weigh in on. (Soon after, the judge said he did not mean to suggest Flynn committed treason.)

Eventually an extremely terrified Flynn agreed to an offer by the prosecution to delay sentencing until March, pending more cooperation with investigators in the upcoming Virginia state case that was unsealed Monday against Flynn's former Turkish lobbying business partners, Bijan Kian and Ekim Alptekin.

Oh but that's not the worst news for Trump today either, that would be the news that the New York state fraud and money laundering case against Trump's charity is so rock-solid that Trump himself has agreed to end of the Trump Foundation.

President Trump has agreed to shut down his embattled personal charity and to give away its remaining money amid allegations that he used the foundation for his personal and political benefit, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced Tuesday

Underwood said that the Donald J. Trump Foundation is dissolving as her office pursues its lawsuit against the charity, Trump and his three eldest children.

The suit, filed in June, alleged “persistently illegal conduct” at the foundation and sought to have it shut down. Underwood is continuing to seek more than $2.8 million in restitution and has asked a judge to ban the Trumps temporarily from serving on the boards of other New York nonprofit organizations.

Underwood said Tuesday that her investigation found “a shocking pattern of illegality involving the Trump Foundation — including unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing, and much more.”

“This is an important victory for the rule of law, making clear that there is one set of rules for everyone,” she added in a statement.

The shuttering comes after The Washington Post documented apparent lapses at the foundation. Trump used the charity’s money to pay legal settlements for his private business, to purchase art for one of his clubs and to make a prohibited political donation.

Trump denied that the organization had done anything wrong. In late 2016, he said he wanted to close the foundation, but the New York attorney general blocked that move while it investigated.

The settlement with Underwood’s office represents a concession by Trump to a state investigation he decried as a partisan attack. The case is one of numerous legal investigations of Trump organizations that have proliferated during his presidency.

The nonsense that Trump was trying to shut the Foundation down but was prevented from doing so because of the investigation is a bit like a bank robber complaining that he's unable to access his account while the feds are looking for the stolen money.

Trump didn't have a choice in the matter, and it's only the first brick in the crumbling wall of his mobbed-up empire of crime.

It's already a miserable week for Trump, and it's only Tuesday.

GOP Dust Woman, Or Sad-Eyed Lady Of The Suburbs

Republican women in Congress (the few of them left at least) are finding out the hard way just how little they mean to the party of rich old white guys, and they're shocked -- shocked! -- to discover that increasing the number of GOP women isn't exactly a priority with the boys club.

Republicans lost the House in November as droves of female voters spurned the party, a reflection of the gaping gender gap. The election devastated the GOP’s already meager group of congresswomen. Almost none of the political survivors will hold positions of power in Congress next year.

Republican women recognize this is a serious problem. It’s unclear whether GOP men agree.

“It’s very painful,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), who championed female candidates for a decade as the only woman in Republican leadership. “We need to make sure that we are growing our ranks.”

The stark contrast between the parties on gender will be evident when the new Congress is sworn in Jan. 3.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is poised to reclaim the speaker’s gavel as 36 women join her caucus. But House Republicans, who have already elected men to their top two posts, will see their group of women reduced by almost half to just 13, with West Virginia’s Carol Miller the lone GOP woman in the freshman class.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) said the number of Republican women in the House has fallen to “crisis level.”

“Women are a majority of voters in our country, and the GOP must do more to ensure our conference represents their views,” said Stefanik, who announced plans this month to help Republican women in their primaries in 2020.

The GOP’s poor performance with women this election cycle has exposed sensitive fault lines within the party over identity politics and how to win elections.

Republican leaders often hedge on whether recruiting female candidates should be a top priority, saying they want who­ever is most qualified. The need for more female lawmakers to better reflect the country — or at least to win votes from more women — has not been a given for all party members.

You mean Republicans really don't give a damn about women as long as they shut up and do what they're told?  Who knew?

Oh wait, Democratic party candidates knew, and they told America as much.  I have little sympathy for the sheep who voted for the wolves, except their votes hurt everyone by enabling the GOP.

Here's hoping everyone figures out what's at stake.


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