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Category Archives: Dirty side of Politics


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“The phrase was popularised in the United States by Mark Twain (among others), who attributed it to the British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” However, the phrase is not found in any of Disraeli’s works and the earliest known appearances were years after his death. Several other people have been listed as originators of the quote, and it is often erroneously attributed to Twain himself.”

No matter who said it first the statement explains the current administration and a majority of the current Congress. It has apparently become politically normal to lie to the people who voted for you and lie again to gain acceptance of the deceit. My sense of this is that we need to do our own research and not totally rely on the media to give us the complete picture. There are few politicians who have a squeaky clean background no matter how minor the issue may be but the major issues need to be outed by the candidate (in the spirit of honesty). We have now become  in the age of mass media  inured to the faux pas’ of our elected officials and do not equate that behavior to their actions (supposedly on our behalf) to how they vote on bills and enact laws. The most flagrant outrages as far as I am concerned is the law regarding their COLA (cost of living adjustment) which was enacted to side step the public airing of this publicly financed event. Couple this with their treatment of so called “Obamacare” by exempting themselves from the penalizing part of the act rather than doing the legislative work to make the legislation better. So to encompass this long time use of deception we should always keep in mind that there are “lies, damn lies and statistics (aka facts). 

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The two (2) year slog of this administration to do the bidding of uninformed leader is beginning to wear on all of us who are paying attention beyond the rhetoric. Oddly enough that same wear is showing on the perpetrator of these flawed policies especially since he can’t run away or hide from them as he has done in his business life.  There is more to consider beyond personal beliefs and friendships. In a ship with many rats there is no escaping the inevitable turning on one another and desertion. The current issue (disaster?) is still the so called “witch hunt” aka the “Mueller Investigation”. In thinking about the lead up to this (mis) administration is the dissatisfaction by the voters  with the Congressional neer do wells who (we) they have elected on an ongoing basis. The fault for this poor administration started when Congress failed us by becoming extremely partisan to the extent of being at war with one another This war was fueled by the huge amounts of money allowed to be infused by the “citizens United” decision which removed all restraints on the amounts Corporations could donate to campaigns. This decision by our Supreme court in a partisan vote has allowed the rise of Trump and the re election of the worst representatives we have had in decades. It is bad enough that our “Representatives” years ago enacted a law that gives them a cost of living adjustment with no public scrutiny, they are also responsible for the U.S.Post office seeming to be insolvent but that appearance  is due to a law by Congress which mandated. The piece below explains the Post Office mess

“Congress, Not Amazon, Messed Up the Post Office
Legislators passed a law that made the USPS less competitive with the private sector.
By Barry Ritholtz
‎April‎ ‎4‎, ‎2018‎ ‎12‎:‎38‎ ‎PM‎ ‎CDT Corrected ‎April‎ ‎6‎, ‎2018‎ ‎2‎:‎59‎ ‎PM‎ ‎CDT
Before the news cycle gets consumed by the U.S.-China trade war in the making, let’s go back to something I find much more intriguing: the U.S. Postal Service. Specifically, is Amazon.com Inc.’s contract with the USPS kosher, or is it a sweetheart deal that amounts to a government giveaway?
Let’s get one thing out of the way up front: President Donald Trump’s endless grousing about Amazon is nothing more than a thinly disguised complaint about the Washington Post, which has done a fine job reporting on his administration, revealing its many warts and ethical lapses. He has made no secret of his hostility, as a brief review of his Twitter posts would show.
But let’s set that aside and try to answer whether the USPS provides an unfair subsidy to Amazon. To better understand these claims requires a fuller understanding about the Post Office.
Let’s start with the USPS mandate: It was formed with a very different directive than its private-sector competitors, such as FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc. Those two giant private shippers, along with a bevy of smaller ones, are for-profit companies that can charge whatever they believe the market will bear. The USPS, by contrast, is charged with delivering to every home and business in America, no matter how remote. And, they can only charge what Congress allows; increases require approval. It also has congressional pressure and oversight on where it must maintain postal offices. The USPS has been slowly closing sites where there is insufficient customer demand. But closing an obsolete or little-used facility invariably entails a battle with each representative, who in turn faces voter anger when the local post office is targeted for closing. FedEx or UPS can open or close locations with little problem as demand and package traffic dictate.
Then there is the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA), which some have taken to calling “the most insane law” ever passed by Congress. The law requires the Postal Service, which receives no taxpayer subsidies, to prefund its retirees’ health benefits up to the year 2056. This is a $5 billion per year cost; it is a requirement that no other entity, private or public, has to make. If that doesn’t meet the definition of insanity, I don’t know what does. Without this obligation, the Post Office actually turns a profit. Some have called this a “manufactured crisis.” It’s also significant that lots of companies benefit from a burden that makes the USPS less competitive; these same companies might also would benefit from full USPS privatization, a goal that has been pushed by several conservative think tanks for years.
Paying retiree obligations isn’t the issue here; rather, being singled out as the only company with a congressional requirement to fully fund those obligations is. It puts the USPS at a huge competitive disadvantage. Yes, a retirement crisis is brewing; most private-sector pensions are wildly underfunded. But the solution is to mandate that ALL companies cover a higher percentage of their future obligations — not just one entity.
What about lobbying Congress for changes to these rules? Unlike private-sector entities, the Postal Service is barred from lobbying. Similar restrictions do not apply to FedEx or UPS or other carriers.
Perhaps it helps to think of the USPS as two separate entities co-existing together: On one side is the congressionally mandated operation that delivers letters everywhere in the country. This is the side that helped knit together the far-flung cities, towns and settlements that defined the U.S. at the time of the nation’s founding. The modern innovations of email, texts and the internet helped turn this into a money-losing business.
The other side of the USPS is the parcel-delivery service, which is profitable. It both competes with, and provides services to, private-sector delivery businesses.
Indeed, both UPS and FedEx contract with USPS to perform so-called last-mile delivery for their rural and most-expensive routes. They leverage the existing infrastructure of USPS to provide services for their client base without having to build that same costly last-mile infrastructure for letters and parcels. Effectively, they arbitrage what would otherwise be low-margin or unprofitable deliveries.
The problem for the USPS isn’t the packages from the likes of Amazon, but rather, the rest of the Post Office’s mandate. In its annual report, the USPS noted that 2017 saw “mail volumes declined by approximately 5.0 billion pieces, or 3.6 percent, while package volumes grew by 589 million pieces, or 11.4 percent.” Amazon and other internet retailers are a source of profitable deliveries for the post office; the relationship is in no way a subsidy for the retailers. Incidentally, the PAEA bars the Post Office from pricing parcel delivery below-cost.
Pricing, locations, hiring, funding? The Post Office has broad limitations about making routine business decisions that its private-sector competitors do not.
Trump has raised a valid issue in pointing out the unfair conditions under which the USPS operates. He is looking, however, at the wrong side of the problem.”
(Corrects fifth paragraph of article published April 4 to delete inaccurate reference to 75-year retiree benefit funding obligation.)
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
To contact the author of this story:
Barry Ritholtz at britholtz3@bloomberg.net
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
James Greiff at jgreiff@bloomberg.net
Barry Ritholtz is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He founded Ritholtz Wealth Management and was chief executive and director of equity research at FusionIQ, a quantitative research firm. He is the author of “Bailout Nation.”

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Everyone has an opinion about something and everything. Agreement is just one or more having the same opinion or belief about a subject, person or situation. This act of agreeing while the basis of a group activity is not what we need in Judgeships from the Local level to the High Court. Our Federal Judiciary has many vacancies that require filling and our Neer do well Congress has done nothing to help that situation. There have been several times when a radical member of Congress has captured the national attention with an abnormal, even outrageous agenda which eventually proved to false and dangerous. Now it appears we have an administration that is even more dangerous and radical lead by a self promoting entertainer. Our erstwhile Congress has stood by and let it happen while blowing the proverbial smoke at the voting public. It has become the norm to defame or slur an opponent  no matter what the truth is. Are the people running for office who uses these tactics who we want to represent us?  The world is larger than just the U.S. and has been negotiable with discussions rather than arguments, now it appears that the in charge party is reverting to a stand alone vision in a global world. Currently the Right leaning Supreme court majority has and will eliminate the very reason for the high court and that is to serve ALL Americans. However our neer do well Congressional majority has seen fit to pack the courts with less than moderate judges who put their personal feelings above the overall rights of ALL Americans. Judges should and are supposed to operate on the basis of what is the rule of law for all not any party line. The current court being majority Dupublican and conservative has set a path of bias for years to come. Thank you Mr. McConnell.

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In the ongoing saga of  Administrative mismanagement, chaos and Congressional malfeasance anything that occurs in this current administration should be of no surprise to anyone who is paying attention. The supporters of this Resident will probably not see the light until  they are blinded by the long range effects. The recent tariff’s while not immediately, will affect many products  we send overseas and now China (one of our biggest trading partners) is imposing tariffs, if China decides to enforce more tariffs on items like Soybeans or automobiles, those 2 items would have a severe effect on many of TOTUS’ supporters. This Tariff issue is more about intellectual properties than physical issues and there are many. The installation of a vindictive child as Leader will over time push us ALL back 2 decades and alienate our allies. The rush to get things done with no apparent discussion is the wrong way to Govern. We already have an inept Congress lead by two self servers, adding a self aggrandizing child has only exacerbated our declining position on the world stage. There appears to be no understanding of how diplomacy  works or  what diplomacy is, yet policy is made and enacted much like a fleeting thought. Looking at the ongoing tweet storm method of Governing, we have a poor Tax reform enacted that on the face looks great but underneath the dirty end of the stick still falls to the mid to lower income Americans. Just because companies have given pay increases or bonuses to employees does not mean a boon to those employees and their families. More taxes will have to be paid on these increases and bonuses, the larger deduction will not offset these taxes. Larger deductions do not directly offset pay increases, there is only a percentage advantage. The Corporate tax cuts allow for the wage increases and bonuses but at the same time allows the investors and share holders to gain (how many low to middle income taxpayers own stock?). In the long run these tax cuts, tariffs and other executive orders will bite the low to middle class tax payers in many more ways that we never think of. For instance: The TOTUS has through his actions allowed for EPA regulations that protect our air and water but benefit the main polluters (our vehicles and certain industries), These actions do not produce any new jobs but have the capacity to cause and aggravate more illnesses for many of us. There is no upside for this Administration and the slide downward is getting slicker. To be clear we collectively do not have very good Congressional representation or Top down leadership and that falls on our shoulders because we as voters do not or will not investigate the people we vote for. The political ads are no more than buzzwords and soundbites that sound good enough to get someone elected but once in office, they do what is best for them and their party while our needs became tertiary or lower. This is again a call for all voters to forgo the entertainment value of our current administration and see behind the curtain. All of the actions of  “TOTUS” is for his edification and pursuit of adoration as evidenced by the ongoing campaign style meetings. Being adored is not the role of the Leader of our country, it is a thankless job if done as correct as possible and we see this administration tumbling into an abyss that will take many years to get out of and only if have the courage to make changes in our lackluster Congress along with electing a Leader (no matter which party) who is not Jar Jar Binks!

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Explain to me how can a program work when it is restricted as the Current administration has restricted the ACA (aka Obamacare). This program which benefitted many more people than the GOP wants you to believe has been under attack since it’s inception. The current administration has derided it as a failure but not telling the whole truth. Campaign rhetoric and promises that harm the public are as criminal as bodily harm. The administration will point to this decrease as a victory but ask the people who are affected by the loss or decrease of health care. If you are affected by these changes then you need to step up and engage in getting people elected who will do what good for you. MA.
Reuters 15 hours ago

CMS’s Verma says 11.8 million signed up for 2018 Obamacare exchange plans
(Reuters) – About 11.8 million consumers nationwide enrolled in 2018 Obamacare exchange plans, a 3 percent drop from last year when 12.2 million consumers signed up, according to a final government tally released on Tuesday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The tally includes both sign-ups on the exchange run by the federal government for 39 states, which was released on a provisional basis late in 2017, and on the 12 other exchanges run by Washington, D.C. and the remaining states.
CMS said the average premium before tax credits in 2018 is $621 a month, an increase of more than 30 percent from last year.
However, those receiving tax credits – around 83 percent of consumers on Obamacare – will pay around $89 a month on average in premiums, the agency said. That is down 16 percent from $106 a month last year.
Private insurers sell strictly regulated individual insurance plans through the Obamacare online exchanges that the government subsidizes based on a person’s income.
U.S. President Donald Trump in October cut off billions of dollars in subsidy payments to insurers that help people pay for medical costs, causing insurers to raise 2018 premiums or drop out of selling plans in the Obamacare marketplace.
His administration also halved the enrollment period to six weeks and cut the federal advertising and outreach budget by 90 percent. It also has proposed putting cheaper insurance policies offering bare-bones medical coverage on the Obamacare market in 2019 or 2020.


I wonder what effect the ACA would have had to aid the sufferers of this disease in Mitch’s home state? MA

 

Black Lungs Cold Hearts
A new Kentucky law will make it harder for coal miners with black lung to get compensation
5:36 a.m. ET

Much of the drama in Kentucky’s legislature last week was around Senate Bill 151, an unexpected and fast-moving bill that Republicans pushed through to end pensions for new teachers, replacing the defined benefits with a 401(k) style system. But Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) also signed House Bill 2, which overhauls workers compensation in the state in a way that will make it harder for coal miners with black lung to get state benefits. The law allows only federally certified pulmonologists, not radiologists, to determine if X-rays show black lung.
The problem for coal minders, NPR reports, is that Kentucky has only six federally certified pulmonologists, “four of them routinely are hired by coal companies or their insurers” and one is semi-retired and losing his federal National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) certification June 1, leaving just one doctor who generally works for coal miners rather than coal companies. The law excludes radiologist Dr. Brandon Crum, for example, who helped uncover one of the biggest clusters of complicated black lung ever documented. NPR’s survey of Appalachia has counted more than 2,200 advanced black lung diagnoses since 2010.
“It is curious to me that the legislators feel that the pulmonologist is more qualified to interpret a chest radiograph than a radiologist is,” Dr. Kathleen DePonte told NPR. “This is primarily what radiologists do.” The lawmaker who sponsored the change, state Rep. Adam Koenig (R), said he was motivated by the disparity between pulmonologists, who tend to be conservative in their black lung diagnoses, and radiologists, who tend to diagnose the fatal disease more liberally. He told NPR that he “relied on the expertise of those who understand the issue — the industry, coal companies and attorneys,” adding, “All we’re doing is making sure that qualified doctors are making these determinations.” You can listen to NPR’s report from Sunday’s Weekend Edition online. Peter Weber

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The Resident has reached a new high in trying to achieve his agenda and as usual uses any misinformation he is told. His favorite target is still President Obama. The recent stretch is regarding 100 plus Judicial vacancies. These vacancies are primarily the fault of the Congressional majority and its leader Bitch McConnell, McConnell if we recall stated publicly that “this President (Obama) will be a one term President and to that end not much legislation submitted by President Obama got passed few Judicial appointments were approved. This is the party of President Trump. As a voter the actions of the current majority party and it Titular heads should enrage you. The current administration and the Congressional leaders have their own agendas and we as voters are not part of it. It is wise to remember that for many years most of our “representatives” on both sides have become increasingly self-indulgent and lie to us when election time comes. We now have the ultimate punishment :Donald Trump as President (in his mind Emperor). The effects of this Presidency will be chaos for a number of years and if we do not oust the current Congressional leaders we will fare no better. Forget the rhetoric, the tweets and finger-pointing. Pay attention to the actual facts, get these facts by reading a variety of publications because that’s where the truth lies. The entertainment “news” is merely the unilateral opinions of people who do not share your interests and are seeking ratings rather than the truth. If we ignore the activities of this administration and the long serving Congress we are doomed to have the same poor Governance we have now.

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Here it is again!: Mitch McConnell is getting himself or his GOP set for re-election or election this year. He is pushing for Marijuana legalization to pose as more liberal than he is. His MO is always the same: look our Mitch! He advocated for coal with lies about Obama killing coal jobs which were already dead and gone, he has purposely kept quiet on his part in passing the tax reform(?) and the recent spending bill. He and Paul (miscreant) Ryan have conspired to do their dirty work by allowing the “Resident” to rant and rave about anything he wants without comment. They allowed certain Democratic add ons in the spending bill to cover themselves. Essentially they are still the same old neer do wells they have always been. It is time to put your voting power to work and get new people elected no matter what party as long as they are moderate (which means they will work with the other side.MA

BRUCE SCHREINER,

Associated Press 16 minutes ago

Wisconsin taking applications to grow industrial hemp
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The U.S. Senate’s top leader said Monday he wants to bring hemp production back into the mainstream by removing it from the controlled substances list that now associates it with its cousin — marijuana.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told hemp advocates in his home state of Kentucky that he will introduce legislation to legalize the crop as an agricultural commodity. The versatile crop has been grown on an experimental basis in a number of states in recent years.
“It’s now time to take the final step and make this a legal crop,” McConnell said.
Kentucky has been at the forefront of hemp’s comeback. Kentucky agriculture officials recently approved more than 12,000 acres (4,856 hectares) to be grown in the state this year, and 57 Kentucky processors are helping turn the raw product into a multitude of products.
Growing hemp without a federal permit has long been banned due to its classification as a controlled substance related to marijuana. Hemp and marijuana are the same species, but hemp has a negligible amount of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.
Hemp got a limited reprieve with the 2014 federal Farm Bill, which allows state agriculture departments to designate hemp projects for research and development. So far, 34 states have authorized hemp research, while actual production occurred in 19 states last year, said Eric Steenstra, president of the advocacy group Vote Hemp. Hemp production totaled 25,541 acres (10,336 hectares) in 2017, more than double the 2016 output, he said.
The crop, which once thrived in Kentucky, was historically used for rope but has many other uses, including clothing and mulch from the fiber, hemp milk and cooking oil from the seeds, and soap and lotions. Other uses include building materials, animal bedding and biofuels.
Hemp advocates fighting for years to restore the crop’s legitimacy hailed McConnell’s decision to put his political influence behind the effort to make it a legal crop again.
“This is a huge development for the hemp industry,” Steenstra said. “Sen. McConnell’s support is critical to helping us move hemp from research and pilot programs to full commercial production.”
Brian Furnish, an eighth-generation tobacco farmer in Kentucky, has started making the switch to hemp production. His family will grow about 300 acres (120 hectares) of hemp this year in Harrison County. He’s also part owner of a company that turns hemp into food, fiber and dietary supplements.
Furnish said hemp has the potential to rival or surpass what tobacco production once meant to Kentucky.
“All we’ve got to do is the government get out of the way and let us grow,” he told reporters.
McConnell acknowledged there was “some queasiness” about hemp in 2014 when federal lawmakers cleared the way for states to regulate it for research and pilot programs. There’s much broader understanding now that hemp is a “totally different” plant than its illicit cousin, he said.
“I think we’ve worked our way through the education process of making sure everybody understands this is really a different plant,” the Republican leader said.
McConnell said he plans to have those discussions with Attorney General Jeff Sessions to emphasize the differences between the plants. The Trump administration has taken a tougher stance on marijuana.
The Department of Justice’s press office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
McConnell said his bill will attract a bipartisan group of co-sponsors. He said the measure would allow states to have primary regulatory oversight of hemp production if they submit plans to federal agriculture officials outlining how they would monitor production.
“We’re going to give it everything we’ve got to pull it off,” he said.
In Kentucky, current or ex-tobacco farmers could easily make the conversion to hemp production, Furnish said. Equipment and barns used for tobacco can be used to produce hemp, he said. Tobacco production dropped sharply in Kentucky amid declining smoking rates.
Furnish said his family has reaped profits of about $2,000 per acre for hemp grown for dietary supplements, better than what they’ve made from tobacco, he said.
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, whose great-grandfather grew hemp for rope to support the war effort in the 1940s, said he hopes hemp’s legalization can “open the floodgates and we can see the true potential of this crop.”
“We hope to position Kentucky to maximize the benefit of this crop once legalized, so the economic activity stays right here,” he said.

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The Whoppers of 2017

FactCheck.org
Eugene Kiely
12/31/2017

Fact check: Trump accuses states of covering up voter fraud
Summary
We first dubbed President Donald Trump, then just a candidate, as “King of Whoppers” in our annual roundup of notable false claims for 2015.
He dominated our list that year – and again in 2016 – but there was still plenty of room for others.
This year? The takeover is complete.
In his first year as president, Trump used his bully pulpit and Twitter account to fuel conspiracy theories, level unsubstantiated accusations and issue easily debunked boasts about his accomplishments.
And a chorus of administration officials helped in spreading his falsehoods.
Trump complained — without a shred of evidence — that massive voter fraud cost him the 2016 popular vote. He doubled down by creating the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity and appointing a vice chairman who falsely claimed to have “proof” that Democrats stole a U.S. Senate seat in New Hampshire.
Even as he mobilized the federal government to ferret out Democratic voter fraud, Trump refused to accept the U.S. intelligence community’s consensus finding that Russia interfered in the 2016 campaign.
Trump disparaged the “so-called ‘Russian hacking’” as a “hoax” and a “phony Russian Witch Hunt,” and compared the conduct of U.S. intelligence agencies to “Nazi Germany.” He then falsely accused the “dishonest” news media of making it “sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community.”
When he spoke of himself, Trump’s boastfulness went far beyond the facts.
He claimed that his inaugural crowd “went all the way back to the Washington Monument,” and sent out his press secretary to declare it the “largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.” He described his tax plan as the “biggest tax cut in the history of our country,” and took credit for making the U.S. nuclear arsenal “far stronger and more powerful than ever” after seven months on the job. None of that was true.
Trump is clearly an outlier. If he and his aides were removed from our list, we would be left with a dozen or more notable falsehoods roughly equally distributed between the two parties. You’ll find those at the end of this very long list.
Forgive us for the length. But consider this: It could be even longer.
The Russia Investigation
Two weeks before Trump took the oath of office, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a declassified intelligence report that described an “influence campaign” ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin during the 2016 election.
The report said, among other things, that Russian intelligence services hacked into computers at the Democratic National Committee and gave the hacked material to WikiLeaks and other outlets to publicize in an effort “to help President-elect Trump’s election chances.”
A day after the report came out, Trump declared on Twitter that the intelligence community “stated very strongly that there was absolutely no evidence that hacking affected the election results.” Not so. The report specifically stated that the intelligence community “did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election.”
This would be one in a long line of false, misleading or unsubstantiated statements by Trump and his aides this year about the ongoing federal investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians.
There is evidence of contacts between Trump aides and Russian representatives during the campaign, as documented in our timeline, but the question of collusion remains unresolved.
To date, two Trump aides — former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos — have pleaded guilty to giving false statements to the FBI. Two other Trump campaign aides — Paul Manafort and Rick Gates — were indicted on money laundering and tax evasion charges related to their work for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine prior to the 2016 election.
Here are some of the false and unsubstantiated claims that Trump and his aides made about the Russia investigation:
In a March 4 tweetstorm, Trump called it a “fact” that “Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!” Trump offered no evidence of what he equated to “Nixon/Watergate” crimes. Then-FBI Director James Comey told the House intelligence committee on March 20 that the FBI and Justice Department had “no information that supports those tweets.”
Two days after Comey’s testimony, Trump doubled down by claiming the House intelligence committee chairman “just got … new information” (during a meeting at the White House) that proved he was “right” about Obama wiretapping his phones. There’s still no evidence of that.
When asked in July to give a definitive “yes or no” answer if he believes Russia interfered with the election, Trump said, “I think it could very well have been Russia but I think it could very well have been other countries.” There is no evidence that other countries were involved.
Trump tweeted in May that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper “reiterated what everybody, including the fake media already knows – there is ‘no evidence’ of collusion w/ Russia and Trump.” Clapper didn’t say that. Clapper said he had no such information “at the time,” meaning before he left office in January.
The White House issued a statement on May 9 saying the president fired Comey as FBI director “based on the clear recommendations” of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway said the firing had “zero to do with Russia.” That was all spin. Trump later said he would have fired Comey “regardless of recommendation,” and he was thinking of “this Russia thing” when he decided to act.
National Security Adviser Mike Flynn told the Washington Post in February that he did not speak to Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, about U.S. sanctions leveled by the Obama administration in response to Russia’s election meddling. Flynn shortly after admitted he did talk about sanctions with Kislyak and resigned. About 10 months later, he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Kislyak.
In response to Flynn’s guilty plea, Trump claimed that Hillary Clinton “lied many times to the FBI and nothing happened to her.” There is no evidence Clinton lied to the FBI. In fact, Comey, then serving as the FBI director, told Congress last year that there was “no basis to conclude she lied to the FBI.”
In an interview, Vice President Mike Pence was asked if “there was any contact in any way” between the Trump campaign and “the Kremlim or cutouts they had.” Pence responded, “Of course not. Why would there be any contacts between the campaign?” That proved to be false.
Donald Trump Jr. agreed to meet on June 9, 2016, with Russians who promised damaging information on Clinton as part of Russia’s support for Trump’s candidacy. The president’s son at first misleadingly described the meeting as “primarily” about the adoption of Russian children, but later acknowledged he agreed to the meeting to obtain dirt on Clinton.
Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s attorneys, said on July 12 that “the president wasn’t involved” in drafting his son Donald Jr.’s statement about the June 2016 meeting with the Russians. That turned out to be false. Two weeks later, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders admitted the president “offered suggestions like any father would do.”
Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, met with Kislyak on Dec. 1, 2016, during the transition. It was reported in May that Kushner asked Kislyak at the meeting if Russia could set up a secure communications channel for discussions with the Trump transition team. In rebuttal, Trump retweeted a “Fox & Friends” tweet that said, “Jared Kushner didn’t suggest Russian communications channel in meeting, source says.” That’s false. Kushner later told Congress that he “asked if they had an existing communications channel at his embassy we could use.”
Trumpian Boasts
During the campaign, Trump vowed that if elected, “We’re going to win with every single facet, we’re going to win so much you may even get tired of winning.” That kind of over-the-top boasting didn’t end with his election:
Trump claimed that China ended its currency manipulation out of “a certain respect” for him, when in reality China had not been devaluing its currency to create a trade advantage since 2014.
Trump claimed that “the world is starting to respect the United States of America again,” despite surveys that suggest otherwise. The White House provided no support for the statement.
He said that his “first order as president was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal” and “it is now far stronger and more powerful than ever,” when all he did was initiate a review that won’t be done until the end of the year and is yet to result in any improvements.
Trump stated that his administration is “spending a lot of money on the inner cities,” although we found that there has been little change in spending so far. His first budget proposed to cut or eliminate funding for programs that benefit cities.
Jobs and the Economy
During the campaign, Trump promised he would be “the greatest jobs president that God ever created,” and ridiculed the official unemployment rates (which were steadily declining) as “phony numbers.”
In what has been a running theme since he assumed the presidency, Trump regularly boasts that he has turned the economy around — citing the official job gains and unemployment rates in speeches and tweets.
In Trump’s telling, the economy was in shambles until he won the election, and has dramatically turned around since due to his leadership. As he put it in a speech on Dec. 14, “And you remember how bad we were doing when I first took over — there was a big difference, and we were going down. This country was going economically down.” That’s not true.
Here’s a list of some of his economic boasts that were off base:
Trump took credit for companies moving to the U.S., claiming that they are “creating job growth the likes of which our country has not seen in a very long time.” In fact, the U.S. has been steadily adding jobs every month since early 2010, and the job gains for the first 11 months of 2017 were slightly smaller than the gains during the first 11 months of each of the four previous years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Trump repeatedly took credit for investment and job-creation announcements that had nothing to do with him: Ford, GM and Charter Communications, to name a few. The president, for example, said Toyota’s announcement that it would invest $1.3 billion in an assembly plant in Kentucky “would not have been made if we didn’t win the election.” That’s false. Toyota spokesman Aaron Fowles told us in an interview that the investment “predates the Trump administration” and had been planned “several years ago.”
Trump also said he is “putting the miners back to work,” citing as evidence a new coal mine in Pennsylvania that was under construction before he won the election.
Immigration, Crime and Terrorism
Trump frequently ties immigrants to crime and terrorism without the benefit of facts.
In December, Trump lobbed the baseless charge that other countries are gaming a lottery-based immigration program known as the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program. Trump said foreign countries “take their worst and they put them in the bin” so that when the lottery occurs, “we end up getting them.” That’s not how it works.
Other claims that Trump made on immigration and terrorism:

Trump drew rebuke from the Netherlands Embassy in the United States and British Prime Minister Theresa May for retweeting an anti-Muslim video that purported to show a “Muslim migrant” beating up “a Dutch boy on crutches.” The tweet was wrong. The attacker was born and raised in the Netherlands and was not an immigrant.
He also exaggerated when he said Sweden was “having problems like they never thought possible” as a result of accepting refugees from Syria and other Middle Eastern countries. There was an increase in some categories of crime in Sweden since 2015, but government statistics do not corroborate the claim of a major crime wave due to immigrants.
Trump, who regularly criticizes the media, made the nonsensical claim that “radical Islamic” terrorist attacks are “not even being reported” by the “very, very dishonest press.” The White House later said Trump was talking about terrorist attacks that have gone “underreported,” not unreported. But even that criticism was proved wrong when the White House produced a list of “underreported” terrorist attacks that contained numerous widely covered attacks between September 2014 and December 2016.
Trump incorrectly tweeted that “122 vicious prisoners, released by the Obama administration from Gitmo, have returned to the battlefield,” when the total at the time was really eight former detainees.
Trump falsely claimed that border apprehensions, an indicator of attempts to illegally enter the U.S. through Mexico, “didn’t go down” under “past administrations.” Before Trump took office, there was a 75 percent decrease in apprehensions at the Southwest border from the peak in fiscal year 2000 to fiscal year 2016.
Taxes
The president made the baffling claim that under his tax overhaul proposal, “the rich will not be gaining at all with this plan.”
That was in September, when Trump had only a one-page outline for a plan. But the general details — abolish the estate tax, cut the corporate rate and abolish the alternative minimum tax — would clearly benefit the rich. And as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin acknowledged the following month, “when you’re cutting taxes across the board, it’s very hard not to give tax cuts to the wealthy with tax cuts to the middle class.”
Trump continued the false theme after Republican lawmakers introduced legislation:
The president claimed in late November that the tax plan would “cost me a fortune.” Unlike past presidents, Trump hasn’t released his tax returns, so we can’t say exactly how he would be affected. But, again, several provisions would cut taxes for wealthy individuals like Trump. The final legislation cuts the corporate rate, increases exemptions for the AMT and estate tax, and cuts the top individual income tax rate. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center found 91 percent of the top 1 percent income earners would get a tax cut in 2018, averaging nearly $62,000.
He repeatedly and wrongly claimed the plan was “the biggest tax cut in our history.” The final GOP plan will reduce tax revenues by nearly $1.5 trillion over 10 years, which still ranks it eighth or fourth place, as measured by a percentage of gross domestic product or in inflation-adjusted dollars, respectively.
Trump said “more than 30 million” small-business owners would get a marginal tax rate reduction that, in reality, could have affected no more than about 670,000 high-income taxpayers who report business income.
Trump also pushed the popular myth that farm families often have to “sell the farm” in order to pay the estate tax. One expert told us he has never seen such a case in decades of studying the issue.
Health Care
At a campaign-style rally in Kentucky in March, Trump falsely said that “many of our best and brightest are leaving the medical profession entirely because of Obamacare.” The number of active physicians increased 8 percent from 2010, when the Affordable Care Act became law, to 2015, the most recent data available from the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Trump also wrongly claimed that “Obamacare covers very few people,” despite the fact that the number of Americans without health insurance had fallen by 20 million since the ACA was enacted. That’s according to the National Health Interview Survey, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Trump said, without evidence, that by allowing insurers to sell plans across state lines, “your premiums will be down 60 and 70 percent.” The White House provided no support for those figures. Experts told us they knew of no study to back up the claim, and they disputed the idea that average premiums would drop significantly.
2016 Election
Months after a convincing victory in the Electoral College, the new president continued to insist — without evidence — that millions of illegal votes caused him to lose the popular vote to Hillary Clinton.
But the “evidence” provided by the White House to substantiate claims about widespread voter fraud — from noncitizens voting, people voting in multiple states and so-called “dead people” voting — did not hold up. Nevertheless, the president formed a commission to investigate voter fraud, which has met twice. In November, one of the members of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, Matthew Dunlap, filed a complaint in district court to find out what exactly the commission is doing. He wrote: “The commission was formed in May to answer monster-under-the-bed questions about ‘voter fraud,’ but the implicit rationale for its creation appears to be to substantiate President Trump’s unfounded claims that up to 5 million people voted illegally in 2016.”
In September, Kris Kobach, vice chairman of the commission, claimed to have “proof” of voter fraud in New Hampshire that was widespread enough to have swung a U.S. Senate election in favor of the Democrats. His evidence? Several thousand people who registered to vote on Election Day with an out-of-state driver’s license had not since registered a car or gotten a driver’s license in New Hampshire. But it is likely that most of those voters were college students who are allowed by state law to vote in New Hampshire even though they only live in the state part of the year.
The president continues to relitigate an election that he won and repeat false claims from a year ago about his defeated opponent. Other election-related whoppers Trump told this year:

A day after his inauguration, Trump claimed the crowd at the event “looked like a million-and-a-half people,” saying it “went all the way back to the Washington Monument.” He accused the news media of lying about it. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary at the time, read from a statement that said: “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.” Both were wrong.
Trump claimed his November victory was “the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan.” It wasn’t. Three presidents since Reagan captured a larger share of electoral votes than Trump did, including Republican George H.W. Bush.
In a blast from the campaign past, Trump repeated his claim that “Hillary Clinton gave away 20 percent of the uranium in the United States” to Russia. He’s wrong on several counts. The deal that allowed Russia to take control of a company with uranium assets in the U.S. was approved by two government bodies, not any one person. As secretary of state, Clinton was one of nine voting members of the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States that approved the deal. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which also approved the deal, told us Russia has not received any U.S. uranium as a result of the transaction. Trump’s use of the 20 percent figure is also wrong.
Whoppers from the Rest
Beyond Trump and his team, there were certainly others in both parties who spread false and misleading information in 2017.
Consider the statements of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Republican whose wife is the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, and Rep. Maxine Waters, a Democrat who is perhaps the president’s fiercest critic.
In a Fox News interview, Gingrich claimed “it wasn’t the Russians” that hacked into the DNC computers, but a former DNC staffer “who, I suspect, was disgusted by the corruption of the Democratic National Committee.” He said Seth Rich “apparently was assassinated” after “having given WikiLeaks something like … 53,000 [DNC] emails and 17,000 attachments.”
This fanciful tale has no basis in fact. Gingrich repeated an inaccurate report by the local Fox News affiliate in Washington, D.C., about Rich, who was shot to death in Washington, D.C., in July 2016 in what local police have described as a likely botched robbery. Gingrich spread this widely debunked conspiracy theory even though the Fox affiliate days earlier had largely retracted its report.
For her part, Waters spread unsubstantiated rumors about Trump in an MSNBC interview. Asked about an opposition research report compiled by a former British intelligence officer on Trump’s alleged ties with Russia, Waters falsely claimed that the unsubstantiated allegations of “sex actions” made against Trump in the report are “absolutely true.” Those claims haven’t been confirmed.
Here are other notable claims made by members of both parties this year — many of them about the failed Republican attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Democrats “don’t get much support from Wall Street.” That’s not so. The party’s congressional candidates got nearly $47 million from bankers, stockbrokers, hedge fund officials, venture capitalists and private equity firms in the 2016 campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That was slightly more than the $44 million that Democratic congressional candidates received during the same period from labor union PACs and officials.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz claimed that “Obamacare is discouraging people from going to medical school.” There’s no evidence of that. In fact, the number of medical school applicants and enrollees reached an all-time high this year.
President Barack Obama, before leaving office, boasted that a treaty he signed in 2011 with Russia “has substantially reduced our nuclear stockpiles, both Russia and the United States.” In fact, the treaty does not require either nation to destroy any nuclear weapons or reduce its nuclear stockpile. The treaty, among other things, limits the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550 for each country, but at the time of Obama’s boast, Russia had actually increased deployed nuclear warheads under the treaty by 17 percent, from 1,537 to 1,796. As of Sept. 1, Russia reported having 1,561 deployed nuclear warheads — still 11 more than the treaty allows, although Russia has until February 2018 to comply with the 1,550 limits.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said he didn’t think anyone would be hurt by an $800 billion reduction in Medicaid spending over 10 years in the Republican health care bill. But, at the time, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that 14 million fewer Americans would have Medicaid coverage by 2026, compared with current law.
Ryan and Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders both distorted the CBO’s analysis of the Republican health care bill. Sanders claimed that the bill “would throw 22 million Americans off of health insurance,” while Ryan said no one would be thrown off insurance. “It’s not that that people are getting pushed off our plan,” Ryan said. “It’s that people will choose not to buy something they don’t like or want.” Actually, CBO said the bill would reduce the number of people with health insurance by 22 million through a combination of both: Some would voluntarily choose not to buy health insurance, but others would no longer be eligible for Medicaid or would not be able to afford coverage.
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat, wrongly claimed that “over 1.2 million Nevadans with preexisting conditions … would be denied coverage or face exorbitant, unaffordable premiums” under the GOP health care bill. The bill would not have allowed insurers to deny coverage. Also, the 1.2 million figure is a high-end estimate for all Nevadans with some preexisting condition — not just those likely to buy plans on the individual market who would be affected by the GOP bill.
Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican who voted against the health care bill, said subsidies “are actually greater under the Republican bill than they are under the current Obamacare law.” That’s wrong. CBO said the average subsidy under the bill would be “significantly lower than the average subsidy under current law,” and the government would save $424 billion over 10 years — compared with current law — due mainly to reductions in government subsidies.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions for failing to disclose that he met twice as a senator with the Russian ambassador during the campaign in 2016. Sessions said he did so as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. In a statement and on Twitter, McCaskill falsely claimed that in her 10 years on the Senate Armed Services Committee she had “no call from, or meeting with, the Russian ambassador. Ever.” She did.
Hillary Clinton falsely claimed that no debate moderator ever asked Donald Trump, “exactly how are you going to create more jobs?” It was asked in two of the three presidential debates between Clinton and Trump.
The post The Whoppers of 2017 appeared first on FactCheck.org.
Fact check: Trump hits turbulence by taking credit for airplane safety


The recent surge of gun (firearms) coverage is still missing the point. All of the slogans surrounding this issue never approach a real solution. The solution is relatively simple. The age requirement is one realistic approach, closing any existing “loopholes” for Gun Show sales should be closed along with a longer wait time after purchase could be practical. The biggest factor is that no firearm ever attacked or killed anyone on its own. The firearm itself is a tool that has been used by nefarious people some of whom are mentally unstable or just bad people. These people cover a wide range of age groups and races. The bottom line as I see it is; we need to have reasonable regulations on firearms. The cry of “Gun restriction” is no more than a buzzword to work people up over the wrong part of a bigger issue. What is apparent in spite of all the pros and cons on the subject is that not one of the groups involved have deemed it necessary to take a meeting and really discuss it. The politics of this comes down to who has the most money to issue ads that support or oppose a viewpoint. ALL of the deaths due to firearm usage are tragic and for the  most part senseless but unless the politics of this is removed, there will be no reasonable dialogue or solution. The monetary power of any organization over elected officials is dangerous to us all.

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