Today is another of those “clean up” days that most weeks need lately. Even if you discount the shiny objects (which often require commenting in order to establish them as such and therefore largely irrelevant) there is simply too much political news to cover. I’ll try and catch up on some of what happened during the last few days. Let’s explore.
The 2020 presidential race has hardly begun but several candidates or would be candidates made waves this week. It’s way too early to declare a frontrunner but Kamala Harris sure looks like one to me. Baring something wacky happening, she figured to be one of the last standing if not the Democratic nominee from the speculation phase. In her early days she has done nothing to hurt herself. An early rally/announcement drawing 20,000 is very impressive!
Elizabeth Warren, who will be one of the most cerebral/wonkish in the field, outlined a tax proposal that may have done more to eliminate others than help herself. Without going into the plan’s details it is basically a raise the tax on the ultra-wealthy plan. While I like a lot about the plan (especially in principle) I do question just how easy it would be to implement and enforce. Michael Bloomberg and Howard Schultz are both apparently toying with the idea of running; Bloomberg as a Democrat and Schultz as an independent. Both are very wealthy and both came out vehemently opposing Warren’s plan. Why would Americans want to “switch” to Bloomberg or Schultz? We already have a rich guy in the White House who wants tax policies that benefit him.
Speaking of Trump, why did the recent announcement that EPA fines have dropped by 85% during the Trump administration not surprise me? Over the past 20 years EPA civil fines have averaged around $500 million per year. Last year it was $72 million. You connect those dots.
On the corruption/lack of exercising fiduciary responsibility in the Trump administration front, it was revealed that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has had business dealings with associates of Oleg Deripaska. If you remember it was Mnuchin’s Treasury Department who eased sanctions on Russian entities controlled by Deripaska and his family.
Over last weekend news broke that Trump’s employment of undocumented immigrants was more widespread among his properties than originally reported. In a show a dozen were fired at his Westchester County, New York golf resort. Neither that facility nor the previously reported Bedminster, New Jersey club was using the e-verify system (although Trump bragged to the contrary during the campaign.) In fact if multiple stories from the terminated are to be believed, Trump managers guided employees in obtaining false documents. Now the Trump organization has announced that they will use e-verify at all golf facilities. Chuck Schumer’s line about Trump’s people only doing the right thing after they have been caught doing the wrong thing rings true again. As an interesting side note; the e-verify system was one of the government services that was lost during the Trump Shutdown 3.0.
Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker told a press conference that he had been fully briefed on the matter and that the Mueller investigation was about to wrap up. That set off a firestorm of chatter in the pundit class. I put about as much stock in his statement as I do in anything Roger Stone says. Just last Friday, in the course of arresting him, the FBI executed search warrants on his Florida and New York residences. Does that sound like an investigation about to close the file? Keep in mind that is not the only clue that contradicts Whitaker’s statement. Whitaker was talking to an audience of one – Donald Trump. Trump wants the investigation over and Whitaker has hitched his wagon to that “star”. By the way, did Whitaker sound like an Academic All-American to you? He certainly didn’t to me.
Trump is now scheduled to deliver his State of the Union address on February 5th. Don’t expect it to be the subject of my Wednesday the 6th article. I am so sick of Trump’s lies that I have decided not to commit to watching it live. Assuming I don’t, I will either read a transcript and/or catch “highlights”. I just can’t budget time to subject myself to the pilot episode of Trump’s Tuesday Night Lies.
The Democrats made a savvy choice in having Stacey Abrams deliver the Democratic response. While it garners a big audience and huge press attention it is one of the most difficult assignments in politics. If Stacey bombs she will still make the Democrats’ single most important demographic – African-American women – happy. If she does well it will help launch her 2020 US Senate campaign versus a vulnerable Republican David Perdue. If Abrams duplicates her 2018 effort she could just possibly upset Perdue and steal a Senate seat for the Democrats.
American’s top intelligence agency heads testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday and much of what they had to say in open session (and I’m certain the closed session was more of the same, only in more detail) contradicted what Trump has been saying over the past year. Wednesday, Trump retaliated with tweets. What would the intelligence professionals know? They probably don’t even listen to Fox and Friends in the morning and get a “tuck in” phone call from Sean Hannity at night. That doesn’t even count the expert advice from the likes of Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter.
The above is far from complete but it does give you plenty to raise your blood pressure or chat about around the water cooler on a Thursday morning.
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