Did You Hear The One About …?

Sometimes it seems like the Trump administration is one big joke. I simply cannot cover all the stories worthy of coverage.  It’s like a bunch of guys sitting in a bar swapping jokes.  After a bit every joke is prefaced by the phrase “Did you hear the one about…?”  Let’s explore.

Corporate Welfare

This one is not unique to the Trump administration; in fact it is 100 years old and that is the outrage. Wednesday’s New York Times contained an op-ed co-written by New Mexico Democratic Senator Tom Udall and Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley.  Occasionally politics does makes for strange bedfellows.  I’ll add myself to this mix.  Seldom do I agree with Grassley, but this is one of those rare occasions.

The op-ed is entitled, End the Taxpayer Giveaway to Big Oil and Gas.  It outlines how the rates big oil pays the federal government on land leases have remained unchanged since 1920.  There is one exception; they were (supposedly) temporarily reduced as part of the government response to the pandemic.

There is more and the op-ed is worth reading but I’ll just leave it at this: What significant expense in your budget costs you the same as it did your grandparents (great-grandparents for my younger readers) 100 years ago?  But then you don’t have a major lobby in DC.

What Is A Small Business?

A major provision of the Paycheck Protection Act was intended to benefit small business. My concern – and I’m sure I am not alone – is that individuals and mom and pop businesses remained whole and survived the economic troubles associated with the pandemic.  I wasn’t overly concerned about big corporations who just had a windfall from the Trump Tower Tax Cut (which they mostly imprudently squandered) and/or can raise funds from various sources unavailable to almost individuals and small shops.

To no surprise it is being revealed that more than half the funds went to just 5% of the recipients. About 600 firms, including many national chains, received the maximum of $10 million.  Is it any wonder the Trump administration has fought to keep the details of the program’s lending secret?

Has Barr Finally Failed His Don?

Tuesday Attorney General/Consigliere Bill Barr announced that he and his Justice Department couldn’t find any evidence of voter fraud that would have altered the results of the 2020 presidential election. That is contrary to right wing mythology and not the answer Don Trump wanted.  That may jeopardize pardon hopes for Barr.

In order to save taxpayer money I am turning over the results of one of my investigations to the Justice Department: In 2020 all the days of the week ended in “y”.

Shut Up And Veto It

Trump has been making a lot of noise about vetoing the Defense Funding Bill if certain provisions aren’t deleted or attached. Mainly it seems he wants to defend the names of the bases named after confederate officers and wants to punish social media platforms that have finally been a bit responsible in labeling lies (which of course hurts Trump).

You won’t find me defending the likes of Facebook and Twitter much but that is another matter for another piece of legislation; it has nothing to do with defense funding. As to the names of the bases the changes are long overdue!

The bottom line is let Trump veto the bill if he wants. There will be many challenges and fight to get legislation through the next Congress and signed by then-President Biden, but a bill authorizing necessary funding for DOD won’t be one of them.  That bill could be passed in the opening days of the next Congress and signed on the afternoon of January 20th.  I’m sure the military will survive until then.

Some Clarity

The sudden, unexpected and strange ousting of Geoffrey Berman as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York back in June was mysterious. This week it was revealed that Bill Barr offered him the position of heading the Justice Department’s Civil Division and when that was rejected the Chairmanship of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).  Which Berman also rejected.  The SEC isn’t part of the Justice Department which implicates Trump.  Those are two very good jobs – both seeming promotions; which begs the question:  Why would Berman reject them.

Berman alleges that he was being hushed because he had committed the “sin” of opening investigations into friends/business associates of Trump’s. In the end Barr fired Berman who was Trump’s handpicked replacement for Preet Bharara.  Unless he is on Trump’s preemptive pardon list, Mr. Barr may be in need of a good criminal lawyer in 2021.

Atlas Resigned

Dr. Scott Atlas, Trump latest unqualified coronavirus guru, resigned either November 30th or December 1st.  (Was it a typo on the letter?)  Atlas was part of the problem and made no contribution to a solution.  His departure is certainly not bad news I just don’t know if it is good news.  His harm may border on irreparable.  To those who died as a result of his actions it certainly is.

I don’t know if he shrugged going out the door or if it hit him.

I only wish I’d had a couple of beers while writing this; they always made the stories – jokes or not – at the bar better. Maybe there is no improving Trump’s America other than getting rid of him.  Oh, we did that.  We are just in the dangerous delay phase at the moment.

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