Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Last Call For Buying The Black Vote

Trump's people are trying to buy the urban black vote with literal cash giveaways, because at this point nothing's illegal or immoral in service of Dear Leader.

Allies of Donald Trump have begun holding events in black communities where organizers lavish praise on the president as they hand out tens of thousands of dollars to lucky attendees.

The first giveaway took place last month in Cleveland, where recipients whose winning tickets were drawn from a bin landed cash gifts in increments of several hundred dollars, stuffed into envelopes. A second giveaway scheduled for this month in Virginia has been postponed, and more are said to be in the works.

The tour comes as Trump’s campaign has been investing its own money to make inroads with black voters and erode Democrats’ overwhelming advantage with them. But the cash giveaways are organized under the auspices of an outside charity, the Urban Revitalization Coalition, permitting donors to remain anonymous and make tax-deductible contributions.

The organizers say the events are run by the book and intended to promote economic development in inner cities. But the group behind the cash giveaways is registered as a 501(c)3 charitable organization. One leading legal expert on nonprofit law said the arrangement raises questions about the group’s tax-exempt status, because it does not appear to be vetting the recipients of its money for legitimate charitable need.

"Charities are required to spend their money on charitable and educational activities,” said Marcus Owens, a former director of the Exempt Organizations Division at the Internal Revenue Service who is now in private practice at the law firm Loeb & Loeb. “It's not immediately clear to me how simply giving money away to people at an event is a charitable act.”

Asked about the legality of the giveaways in a brief phone interview, the Urban Revitalization Coalition’s CEO, Darrell Scott, said that most gifts were between $300 and $500, and that the group mandates that anyone who receives over $600 fills out a W-9 form in order to ensure compliance with tax law. He did not respond to follow-up questions about how the giveaways were structured and whether they met the legal standard for a charitable act.

Scott declined to name the donors funding the effort. "I'd rather not,” he said. “They prefer to remain anonymous."

Scott, a Cleveland-based pastor, has been one of Trump’s closest and most prominent black supporters. He struck up a relationship with the real estate mogul in the years before Trump’s presidential run, and — along with Trump’s former lieutenant Michael Cohen — co-founded the National Diversity Coalition for Trump to promote that run.

Where do I even begin to unpack this?

That belief that black voters are wholly motivated by money?  The hypocrisy in making voting and registering to vote more difficult for black voters but still needing us?  The systemic racism that creates black poverty in the first place being used to contain us? Using black pastors to front this operation?  The belief that this is fair game because "Democrats have been doing this for years" and of course it's the only way to explain why Republicans haven't gotten the black vote?

It's all of this and more.

The screaming, ear-splitting, banshee wail of racism here is deafening, but in the Trump era everything is permitted.

Trump Trades Blows, Con't

We're going to be constantly reminded in 2020 just how much of Donald Trump's worldview is driven by his insatiable need for petty vengeance against slights both real and perceived, but if Trump wants to take full credit for and invite zero Democrats to his signing of NAFTA 2.0, that's actually a win for the Dems.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed his signature trade deal with Mexico and Canada into law, sealing a big bipartisan win for him during his heavily partisan impeachment trial. 
But the celebration on Wednesday was far from bipartisan, as Trump excluded Democrats from the ceremony despite their key role in securing the final version of the deal that passed with overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate.

Instead, Trump used the signing of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement as a chance to keep ownership of his deal in a White House ceremony with dozens of Republican lawmakers, local officials and business, industry and union leaders present.

“We have replaced a disastrous trade deal,” Trump said in the ceremony on the White House South Lawn. “This is something we really put our heart into.” 
Signing the USMCA into law is a rare legislative achievement for the president going into his reelection campaign. But Trump will not be able to say he fully delivered on his 2016 campaign promise to replace NAFTA until Canada ratifies the deal and all three countries meet many of their obligations — and that could take months. 
Still, Trump will take his USMCA victory lap to Michigan on Thursday, where he will host an event at an auto parts supplier to tout the benefits of the pact. 
Meanwhile, Democrats and many labor unions have also been largely supportive of the deal after they secured changes that make the USMCA one of the most progressive trade agreements ever negotiated by either party.

There really are big wins for labor unions as far as enforceable labor rules to keep jobs from going to Mexico and big pharma got screwed out of their bio-drug sweetheart deal, Nancy Pelosi and House Dems actually did secure some serious concessions.  But Trump wants to make sure the Dems get no credit for those, and given the obnoxious anti-free trade stance by the Democratic purity pony crew, it's probably best that nobody reminds them of USMCA anyway.

Impeachment Reached, Con't

Mitch McConnell figured the Bolton kerfuffle would be over now and the rest of the Senate GOP would fall in line with the Trump acquittal plan for Friday.  It hasn't, so he's put out the call to the Right Wing Noise Machine to bombard Senate GOP offices with angry, angry FOX News State TV viewers to go on the assault.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) indicated in a closed-door meeting with Senate Republicans that he did not yet have enough votes to defeat an effort, expected later this week, to call additional witnesses and evidence in President Trump’s impeachment trial.

Pressure has ramped up to include witnesses after reports that former national security adviser John Bolton says in a book manuscript that Trump directly tied the holdup of nearly $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine to investigations of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

Trump’s defense team argued Tuesday that Democrats are seeking to remove him from office over policy differences as they offered their third and final day of opening arguments in a Senate trial on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Meanwhile Lindsey Graham is working Democrats in the room to get them to drop it, warning that Bolton will never be allowed to speak and instead the trial will turn into weeks of Joe Biden bashing.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) predicted on Tuesday that if the Senate opens the door to calling new witnesses, Republicans will vote to subpoena President Trump's top targets.

“I'll make a prediction: There will be 51 Republican votes to call Hunter Biden, Joe Biden, the whistleblower and the DNC staffer at a minimum,” Graham told reporters.

His comments come as former national security adviser John Bolton’s claim in his forthcoming memoir that President Trump tied Ukraine aid to the country opening up investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

GOP leadership had hoped to end the trial with no witnesses, but Bolton's accusation, reported by The New York Times, has thrown the ability of the caucus to quickly end the trial into question.

Conservatives are warning that if four Republican senators side with Democrats to call Bolton, then Trump's legal team should get as many witnesses. Since Democrats would not support calling the Bidens or the whistleblower, Republicans would have to provide the 51 votes from their 53 members.

The Senate is expected to vote Friday on whether to call witnesses. If 51 senators support calling witnesses, that would open the door to both sides making motions for specific individuals. The Senate would then vote on those specific individuals.

THe unspoken threat here is that Bolton will be blocked or put in closed door testimony, while Biden and the whistleblower will be raked over the coals.  Sen. Hawley says he will force a vote on Joe Biden and Adam Schiff, too, which may very well pass.

Again, there's a method to Mitch's madness.  He doesn't want any testimony, but if there is, Democrats will pay dearly for it.


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