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The caption reads: History Repeats Itself – The Robber Barons Of the Middle Ages And The Robber Barons of Today

And there is a bigger copy of the image here

** so said Gordon Gekko in Wall Street

 

Good Tuesday Widdershins!

So have you ever heard that phrase or one similar that goes something like “I know a friend of a friend of…the police chief, the Mayor…” or someone else that implies the person knows the high muckety-mucks and that relationship can help…you.  That’s a pretty good description of an event that was held at the Ritz Carlton in Beijing this past weekend. The event was sponsored by the Kushner crime uh family.

The shindig was an “investment opportunity” for wealthy Chinese citizens to plunk a cool half million dollars into a Kushner luxury apartment complex in Jersey.  And it has the additional sweetener that by plunking down said $500k you can also apply for what’s known as an investor visa.   That program is called the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Process.  I might refer to it as “grease the skids on getting entrance to the U.S.”.

And of course it was all on the up and up.  Of course.  And we know it was on the up and up because it included Nicole Kushner Meyer, Jared’s sister.  And of course she was introduced just that way, as Jared’s sister.  And these people knew exactly who Jared Kushner is; the son-in-law of the President of the United States.

The tagline on a brochure for the event: “Invest $500,000 and immigrate to the United States.”

Over several hours of slide shows and presentations, representatives from the Kushner family business urged Chinese citizens gathered at a Ritz-Carlton hotel to consider investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a New Jersey luxury apartment complex that would help them secure what’s known as an investor visa.

The potential investors were advised to invest sooner rather than later in case visa rules change under the Trump administration. “Invest early, and you will invest under the old rules,” one speaker said.  [me – I wonder if they ran that line past Col. Cornpone and Steve Bannon?  Those two might now want any of these yellow people getting into ‘Merica.]

Gawd, do these people, any of them, have any shame or is it all about the almighty dollar, regardless of what it looks like.

The event underscores the extent to which Kushner’s private business interests have the potential to collide with his powerful role as a top official in his father-in-law’s White House, particularly when it comes to China, where Kushner has become a crucial diplomatic channel between Beijing and the new administration.

While Kushner has reported divesting from elements of the family business, including the specific project that his sister pitched in Beijing, the session Saturday demonstrated that the company is perceived as enjoying close ties to the Trump administration. Ethics laws prohibit government officials from profiting personally from their public-sector work.

Divest, my backside.  The family will be holding Jared’s share for after he leaves government, ya know…after the impeachment.

Still, it’s the image of what this implies.

Watchdogs and ethics experts on Saturday criticized the Beijing event as an attempt to cash in on Kushner’s newfound proximity to power.

“It’s incredibly stupid and highly inappropriate,” said Richard Painter, the former chief White House ethics lawyer in President George W. Bush’s administration, who has become a vocal critic of the Trump administration. “They clearly imply that the Kushners are going to make sure you get your visa. . . . They’re [Chinese applicants] not going to take a chance. Of course they’re going to want to invest.”

And this particular type of visa has become very popular with the Chinese, especially as a way to get their money out of China.

Also, it has become a source of getting dubious investment dollars without really following through on what it was designed for.

The program was launched with the goal of securing investment and creating jobs. But instead, in recent years, many real estate developers have used the program as a source of cheap financing by using foreign investors, especially from China, for flashy projects in Manhattan and other city centers.

A Government Accountability Office report in 2015 found the EB-5 program carried a high risk of fraud, was rife with counterfeit documentation and had “no reliable method to verify the source of the funds of petitioners.”

In other words, a way to finance Trump and Kushner investments and real estate.

 

There’s much more at the link, so check it out when you can.

Lastly, real life issues came up with Prolix so I took today’s post.  I apologize for such an un-Prolix type of post.  It will make us appreciate all the more, the real deal when he has time to post again.  Of course this is an open thread.

 

 

From Anne Rice’s book, The Witching Hour:spork

Give me a man or woman who has read a thousand books and you give me an interesting companion. Give me a man or woman who has read perhaps three and you give me a very dangerous enemy indeed.

Our White House is chocked full of dangerous enemies. I doubt Dolt 45 has ever read a book.  Of the two power brokers, Steve Bannon and Steve Miller, or Steve Squared, Bannon has undoubtedly cracked more books than the dead-eyed, zombified Miller, but their coming of age is almost identical.

According to acquaintances, Bannon changed after 2001.  He came to embrace eras of historical significance divvied-up into 20-year increments of “highs, awakenings, unraveling, and crises.”  To quote one of Bannon’s 2008 films, “History is seasonal, and winter is coming.”

The Miller part of Steve Squared was an enfant terrible calling into conservative talk radio while still in high school in the early aughts.  He bragged to conservative audiences of cracking the whip on laggardly high school janitorial staff. A graduate of U.S. Senator and ambulatory garden gnome Jefferson Beauregard Sessions’ tutelage, there is no better description of Miller than this:little-trump

In any other Republican administration, Miller would have been lucky to land a second-tier job at a third-tier agency.  But in the Trump White House, Miller stands out: He’s one of the few people in the president’s inner orbit who has actually worked in government.

And that my friends is the high water mark of what constitutes a policy shop for a petulant 70-year old who might or might not have successfully graduated from the Trump University of Potty Training given the reports of vodka-swilling, borscht-loving prostitutes.

Bannon and Miller are zealots. They are true believers – not of Trumpism for whatever that may turn out to be. They have spawned an apocalyptic philosophy of white national populism – the schizophrenic belief of a Judeo-Christian right to a 21st Century modernity of gadgets and gizmos nestled safely in a 1950’s culture where we are all employed by jobs last worked by our grandparents.

Empty vessels are the easiest filled. Barely 40-days in and this truism is proved by Flynn resigning due to canoodling with the Russians, a Secretary of the Navy, a Secretary of the Army, a Secretary of Labor, a Deputy Secretary of Commerce, and at least six White House staffers biting the curb because of non-existent vetting.  Hundreds of offices are unfilled without any hint of nominees.

Thank goodness Republicans don't engage in identity politics...

Thank goodness Republicans don’t engage in identity politics…

We have a rolling disclosure of Russians leaping like Baryshnikov to meet with campaign Trumpets. As of this writing, Flynn, Kushner, fruitcake Carter Page, J.D. Gordon, Walid Phares, and His Gnomeness Sessions, all met with the Russian ambassador Kislyak.

Then there is Michael Cohen, Trump’s lawyer, who is so squirrely his bushy tail twitches when he someone says, “nuts.”  Add to that Paul Manafort and you just need one more to field a baseball team, maybe the Chernobyl Reds who can play in the majorly radioactive league.  The nagging question is this: Why the concerted effort to conceal these meetings?

Given these people’s intellectual challenges, they would be safer if they ate their meals with sporks since they are absolutely unfettered by their cluelessness of what they don’t know. The two people who are dancing on Occam’s razor, hoping against hope that Dolt 45’s signing pen doesn’t run out of ink are McTurtle and the doe-eyed Granny starver Ryan.

These two who worship power above all else are hoping that when the dust settles, their treasonous tryst will go unnoticed. And even if they are suspected of nefarious collusion, they will have accomplished their goal – tax cuts for the wealthiest among us. The 400 highest income earners in the country will get an average tax cut of about $7.0 Million a year for the low, low price tag of depriving health care to 21 Million.

congressional-hearingsOf course this pas de deux of the vacuous and the treasonous will culminate in a virtuoso of viperous Republican retribution. All in an effort to make good on the promise to the reliably hateful Republican/Tea Party voters to hurt those with less.

Overwhelming the already anemic media is part of the Steve Squared’s plan – not that overwhelming the media requires much effort. At least it appears that the Democrats are heeding the message to fight. It seems as if they finally understand there were no rewards for working with Dubya or no punishment for eight years of Republican obstruction.

It seems as if the Intelligence Community is our last bastion of protection. I follow a few former intelligence officers on Twitter and I perked right up when one said quite unequivocally that Dolt 45 will spend his last years in prison. They use sporks there too.

What’s on your mind today?

 

mask-venice-desperate-sad

Good (?) Monday Widdershins

Due to mb being very, very busy with real life and stuff I’m putting this post up to move things along and to provide us with some further topics of discussion.

Trump says give more $$s to defense

 

His orangeness has decided to give D.o.D. a 10% increase in its budget because, you know, there’s never enough money to hand out to Lockheed Martin, Boeing Aerospace, Raytheon, General Dynamics and the like.

President Trump will propose a federal budget that dramatically increases defense-related spending by $54 billion while cutting other federal agencies by the same amount, according to an administration official.

The proposal represents a massive increase in federal spending related to national security, while other priorities, especially foreign aid, will see significant reductions.

Yeah because foreign aid is such a large part of the federal budget.

How much of the federal budget goes to foreign aid?

What’s your best guess? 10 percent? 20 percent? 1 percent?

If you’re like most Americans, you probably guessed wrong.

In December, the Kaiser Family Foundation polled 1,505 people. Only 1 in 20 knew the right answer: less than 1 percent of the $4 trillion federal budget goes to foreign aid. The average respondent estimated that 26 percent went toward assisting other countries.

What’s more, our ignorance colors the way we think about foreign spending. Fifty-six percent of the poll respondents thought the U.S. spends too much on foreign aid. Once they were told that the U.S. spends less than 1 percent of the federal budget on foreign aid, only 28 percent still thought the nation was overspending.

Going back to the WaPo piece:

“We are going to do more with less and make the government lean and accountable to the people,” Trump said. “We can do so much more with the money we spend.”

The White House did not specify how Trump’s budget would address mandatory spending or taxes, promising that those details would come later. The vast majority of federal spending comes from programs Trump can’t touch with his budget. Social Security costs were approximately $910 billion last year, and Medicare costs outpaced defense spending with a total cost of $588 billion in 2016. Medicaid, interest payments on existing debt, and miscellaneous costs made up an additional $1.2 trillion combined.

Ah the old familiar “do more with less” axiom.  Generally it meant that shit just piled up and got backlogged as agencies tried to prioritize the elements of their mission.

More bomb threats against Jewish community centers and schools

More fallout from the alt-right/neo nazis?

Jewish facilities around the nation were rocked by yet another wave of bomb threats Monday, forcing evacuations in at least 12 states.

At least 20 Jewish community centers and day schools in Alabama, North Carolina, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Virginia and Delaware received threatening phone calls, The Huffington Post has confirmed.

This is the fifth wave of threats JCCs have received since the start of the new year.

I just don’t understand it.  What is the point in threatening children?  You want to discuss terrorism Donnie, try the home-grown version.

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said that sometimes Jewish community centers and day schools are either “co-located” or near each other. “It is deeply troubling to see that these anti-Semites are expanding their scope to target a broader section of the Jewish community,” Greenblatt said. “These JCCs often house preschools and elder care programs and they often house after-school activities for teenagers.”

There have now been more than 160 bomb threats made to over 60 Jewish community centers since January.

There’s much more at the HuffPo link including a graphic of the number of threats against JCCs.

Big surprise from the Justice Dept (not)

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions (the turd) is already hard at work doing what he does best:  turning back civil rights to the “golden era” say around 1850 or so.

The Department of Justice is reversing the federal government’s position in an important voting rights case, involving a Texas voter ID law. The switch was not unexpected following the election of Donald Trump and confirmation of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. Both Trump and Sessions claim voter fraud is a major problem and have backed voter ID laws.

DOJ says it will file a motion later Monday asking a federal court to dismiss the department’s earlier claim that the ID law was enacted with the intention of discriminating against minority voters. That claim was made by the Obama administration as part of a broader legal challenge to the law, which is among the strictest in the nation.

I wish I had Adobe Photoshop or something similar so I could put Col. Cornpone’s face on a garden gnome since that’s about what he reminds me of.

In a written statement, Gerry Hebert of the Campaign Legal Center, which represents some of the plaintiffs, said, “I am appalled and disgusted that DOJ would abandon their claims, that they have advocated for the last six years, that TX’s photo ID law was enacted with a racially discriminatory purpose.”

A federal appeals court last year agreed that the law had a discriminatory impact, but asked the lower court to reconsider its findings that the law was passed with a discriminatory intent.

A few other news items in my RSS feed:

Trump urges insurers to work together to ‘save Americans from Obamacare’

Yeah because 20 million people now having health care…SAD!

Link to Dubya’s comments on the press in a democracy

Alrighty folks.   This was literally thrown together in about twenty to thirty minutes so ignore any typos, bad grammar or anything else that reflects a general sloppiness on the part of the writer. 

Of course it’s an open thread.

 


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Our 2016 Ticket!

Our girl is gonna shine

Busted: Glass ceiling

HRC bumper sticker

She’s thinking “Less than 2 weeks I have to keep seeing that face”

Yeah I can make it

The team we’re on

Women’s March on Washington!

Right-click the pic for more info

Kellyanne Conway’s new job

So similar

Take the kids to work? NO!

3 turds control fate of healthcare for millions

That moment when *your* pussy gets grabbed