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Category Archives: politricks


After having a conversation with an acquaintance this morning, I am claiming a minor political victory. The conversation was with an avid Trumper and dyed in the wool GOP (Dupublicans) member. The conversation began with the statement that “Scamocrats” ( Democrats) were going to jail based on ludicrous information derived from the Mueller report (odd connection). I then explained that for the past 25 to 30 years our politics have been fraught with poor representation from both major parties and we all should abandon party line politics. The exceptions on both sides have been few but effective in several cases. I stated that TOTUS’s election served to lay bare the poor Congressional representation we currently have and have had.  This conversation has reinforced my thinking that we are being entertained into poor voting choices. Mass media has given us many ways to get information and misinformation. Unfortunately, in entertainment, the truth is rarely found as it is an art form and not required to be entirely truthful. Our politics have become art in its lowest form while entertaining to some inspires no honest thought provocation on behalf of the recipient. Remember that “Botch” McConnell is turtle slow walking all legislation that he doesn’t halt altogether. It is evident to anyone of reasonable intelligence that our Congress is brought to its knees by the leaders who we apparently side with through our silence and ignorance.

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Continuing drama from our “Government” is more “entertainment” than substance. The current 1600 resident is so far out of his depth that a stepladder is required to keep the nose above water. The reason TOTUS is in place is lack of voters will to exercise their privilege of voting. Low voter turnout is the primary reason for this Presidency and its subsequent poor decisions. The stable genius has brought the wrong people into a respected office to do his bidding which is informed by misinformation and prejudice. This perfect storm of intolerance and mismanagement is aided by a neer do well congress who are looking out for themselves, not the voters who put them in office. What DJT has shown us (if you are paying attention) is that our long-serving Congress is essentially as prolific in misinformation and misrepresentation as our 1600 Pennsylvania resident. Staring with the first election cycle voters need to start replacing the longtime seat fillers with new people and be willing to replace them when needed. WE will never achieve better government until we vote for people who will do the work. We need to keep an eye on the lies and know the difference between them and the truth.

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Tim Eagan Comic Strip for May 30, 2019 Stuart Carlson Comic Strip for May 29, 2019 Mike Luckovich Comic Strip for May 30, 2019 Tom Toles Comic Strip for May 30, 2019 Phil Hands Comic Strip for May 30, 2019


FactChecking Trump’s Fox News Interview
By Eugene Kiely
Posted on May 22, 2019

President Donald Trump, in a lengthy interview on Fox News, made several statements that were false, misleading or not supported by the evidence:
Trump claimed Joe Biden, as vice president, pressured Ukraine to fire a prosecutor who “was after his son,” Hunter Biden. There’s no evidence that Biden was under investigation, although he was a board member for a company whose owner was under investigation.
Trump said of North Korea: “They haven’t had any tests over the last two years — zero.” It’s true that they haven’t had any nuclear tests or long-range missile tests, but North Korea has tested short-range missiles twice this month.
The president said he will provide $15 billion in assistance to U.S. farmers hurt by the trade war, because that’s “the most money that China has ever paid” for U.S. agricultural goods. But federal data show that China purchased nearly $27.2 billion in U.S. agricultural goods in 2012.
Trump boasted that Honda is “coming in [to the U.S.] with $14.5 billion” in investments. A Michigan-based automotive research group says that Honda has announced $1.7 billion in U.S. vehicle manufacturing investments over the last five years.
The president said he has “tremendous poll numbers now.” Trump’s average approval rating is currently below 43 percent.
In a wide-ranging interview that aired May 19 on “The Next Revolution,” Trump and the show’s host, Steve Hilton, discussed foreign policy, international trade, the economy, politics and more.
Hunter Biden and Ukraine
At one point, Hilton raised Trump’s campaign promise to “drain the swamp,” asking the president whether former White House aides should be allowed to lobby for foreign companies. The president pivoted to 2020 — implying that a potential 2020 rival, Joe Biden, intervened while he was vice president to halt an investigation in Ukraine of his son, Hunter.
Trump twisted the facts when he said that the then-vice president threatened to withhold $2 billion in U.S. loan guarantees unless Ukraine dropped its investigation into Hunter and fired the prosecutor. There’s no evidence that Hunter was under investigation.
Trump: Biden, he calls them and says, “Don’t you dare prosecute, if you don’t fire this prosecutor” — the prosecutor was after his son. Then he said, “If you fire the prosecutor, you’ll be OK. And if you don’t fire the prosecutor, we’re not giving you $2 billion in loan guarantees,” or whatever he was supposed to give. Can you imagine if I did that?
Let’s review what we know — and don’t know — about the Bidens and Ukraine.
In March 2016, Biden went to Ukraine and told the government that the U.S. would withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees if Ukraine failed to address corruption and remove its prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin. We know this because Biden boasted about it last year during an appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations.
The former vice president, who is now running for president, said the incident occurred during a visit to Kiev.
Biden, Jan. 23, 2018: I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. And I had gotten a commitment from [then-Ukraine President Petro] Poroshenko and from [then-Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy] Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor. And they didn’t.
So they said they had — they were walking out to a press conference. I said, nah, I’m not going to — or, we’re not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, you have no authority. You’re not the president. The president said — I said, call him. I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. He got fired.
The U.S. wasn’t the only one critical of Ukraine’s anti-corruption efforts. A month earlier, the International Monetary Fund threatened to withhold $40 billion unless Ukraine undertook “a substantial new effort” to fight corruption.
At the time, Hunter Biden was a board member for the Burisma Group, one of the biggest private gas companies in Ukraine. He joined the board in May 2014, instantly raising concerns about a potential conflict of interest. An Associated Press article called Biden’s hiring “politically awkward.”
“Hunter Biden’s employment means he will be working as a director and top lawyer for a Ukrainian energy company during the period when his father and others in the Obama administration attempt to influence the policies of Ukraine’s new government, especially on energy issues,” the AP wrote.
However, there is no evidence that Hunter Biden was under investigation or that his father pressured Ukraine on his behalf.
A few days before Fox News aired the Trump interview, Yuriy Lutsenko, Ukraine’s current prosecutor general, gave his own interview to Bloomberg News and said: “Hunter Biden did not violate any Ukrainian laws at least as of now, we do not see any wrongdoing.”
Lutsenko told Bloomberg that the prosecutor general’s office in 2014 — before Shokin took office — opened a corruption investigation against Mykola Zlochevsky, the owner of Burisma, and numerous others. He said the probe’s focus was Serghi Kurchenko, who owned a number of gas companies, and a transaction that occurred in November 2013, months before Biden joined Burisma.
Bloomberg News, May 16: As part of the 5-year-old inquiry, the prosecutor general’s office has been looking at whether Kurchenko’s purchase of an oil storage terminal in southern Ukraine from Zlochevksy in November 2013 helped Kurchenko launder money. Lutsenko said the transaction under scrutiny came months before Hunter Biden joined the Burisma board.
“Biden was definitely not involved,” Lutsenko said. “We do not have any grounds to think that there was any wrongdoing starting from 2014.”
The investigation is still active, he said.
North Korea and Nuclear Tests
The president also spoke about North Korea and its nuclear weapons program. Trump met with North Korea dictator Kim Jong Un in June of last year, and the two leaders agreed to “promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
During Kim’s reign, North Korea has conducted numerous nuclear tests and missile launches — including four nuclear weapons tests and three test launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs.
Trump: But, they haven’t had any tests over the last two years — zero. There’s a chart and it shows 24 tests, 22 tests, 18 tests. Then I come, and once I’m there for a little while you know, we went through a pretty rough rhetorical period. Once I’m there for a little while, no tests, no tests, no tests.
It’s true that North Korea has not conducted a nuclear test since Sept. 3, 2017, and it hasn’t launched an ICBM since Nov. 29, 2017. (See details in the Arms Control Association timeline.) But North Korea has conducted short-range missile tests twice this month, and it continues to actively pursue a nuclear weapons program.
The U.S. intelligence community released a threat assessment report in January that said, “We continue to observe activity inconsistent with full denuclearization.”
The report didn’t detail what kind of activity. But a week earlier, the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington issued a report that said it found “approximately 20 undeclared missile operating bases,” including one that serves as a missile headquarters.
A month later, three Stanford University researchers issued a report that said North Korea “continued to operate and, in some cases, expand the nuclear weapons complex infrastructure. It continued to operate its nuclear facilities to produce plutonium and highly enriched uranium that may allow it to increase the number of nuclear weapons in its arsenal from roughly 30 in 2017 to 35-37.”
China and Trade
Another subject that the president addressed was the ongoing trade war with China.
The Trump administration last year imposed tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods, and China responded with tariffs on $110 billion of U.S. goods. The trade dispute escalated this month. First, the Trump administration on May 10 raised tariffs from 10 percent to 25 percent on about $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. China responded three days later when it announced that it would increase tariffs from 10 percent to 25 percent on roughly $60 billion worth of U.S. goods, beginning June 1.
The dispute has hurt U.S. agricultural exports in particular, and the administration responded by authorizing up to $12 billion in aid to U.S. farmers. Trump said he would increase financial assistance to $15 billion and explained how he arrived at that number.
Trump: I said to Sonny Perdue, Department of Agriculture — secretary of Agriculture – “Sonny, what’s the most money that China has ever paid toward agriculture, toward buying food product?” He said $15 billion a number of years ago. I said “Is that the most?” He said “Yes.” Some people will say close to (inaudible) but $15 billion was about the most. I said “Good. I’m going to take $15 billion out of the $100 billion, and I’m going to give that to our farmers.”
Trump told a similar story in a recent speech to the National Association of Realtors.
Trump, May 17: So I called Sonny Perdue, our great Secretary of Agriculture, and I said, “Sonny…” — (applause) — I said, “Sonny, what’s the biggest amount they’ve ever spent in this country?” He said, “About $15 billion. People could say 18, 19. But basically $15 billion.” And I said, “So let’s take $15 billion, set it aside out of the 100 or 125 billion [in annual tariffs imposed on all imports].”
We asked the White House and the Department of Agriculture about this conversation. Neither responded. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative referred us to the White House.
But this much we know based on available data and emails from two federal agencies: $15 billion isn’t “the biggest amount” that China has spent on U.S. agricultural exports.
In its annual reports on shifts in U.S. merchandise trade, the United States International Trade Commission reported that China purchased $27.2 billion in U.S. agricultural products in 2012 – the most in one year from 2010 to 2017.
The most recent USITC report covers 2013 to 2017, and a commission spokeswoman told us a new report covering 2018 would not be released until November. However, according to the Department of Agriculture, agricultural exports to China fell dramatically to $9.2 billion in 2018. That was “almost all due to retaliatory tariffs” imposed by China, Wallace E. Tyner, who teaches agricultural economics at Purdue University, told us in an email.
We also know that, as of the morning of May 20, the U.S. has paid $8.54 billion to farmers through three aid programs, a USDA spokesperson said.
The Market Facilitation Program — the largest of the three programs — can provide up to $10 billion to producers of corn, cotton, sorghum, soybean, wheat, dairy, hogs, almonds and sweet cherries, according to a December report by the Congressional Research Service on the trade aid programs. The top five commodities that received assistance through the program were soybeans, corn, wheat, cotton and sorghum, the USDA spokesperson told us.
We found that, from 2009 through 2018, the most that China imported of those five commodities in any one year totaled nearly $20 billion, according to Census Bureau export data. That occurred in 2012, when China’s agricultural purchases included nearly $14.9 billion in soybeans, $3.4 billion in raw cotton and $1.3 billion in corn, according to Census data.
As we said, we don’t know what the president meant when he said that $15 billion was “the biggest amount they’ve ever spent in this country.” We will update this item if the White House responds.
Honda and U.S. Investments
In talking about the U.S. economy, Trump boasted about companies coming to the United States — singling out one car company in particular.
Trump: Well, really very simply, we have companies coming in here, as you know, by the dozens and by the hundreds and big ones, car companies, Honda’s coming in with $14.5 billion.
We don’t know how many companies have relocated to the U.S. or have left the U.S. But the president overestimates Honda’s future investment in the U.S.
On its website, Honda said that its total capital investment in the U.S. (not just auto manufacturing) has been $21 billion over the last 60 years, including $5.6 billion in the last five years. We could not find any new automotive investments that would equal $14.5 billion, so we reached out to the Michigan-based Center for Automotive Research Group, which tracks new investments in the United States.
Kristin Dziczek, vice president of industry, labor and economics, told us that she, too, could not match the $14.5 billion figure cited by Trump, and “we try to keep very close tabs on these things.” She said Honda has announced auto manufacturing investments totaling $1.7 billion over the last five years.
In February, Honda announced that it would close a manufacturing plant in Swindon, England, in 2121, when it stops production of its current Civic model. Honda Chief Executive Officer Takahiro Hachigo told Automotive News that the next generation Civic will be manufactured in North America, but the company has yet to say where the plant or plants will be located.
Honda currently has five vehicle manufacturing plants in the United States, including one in Indiana that builds the current Civic models. It also manufactures Civic models in Ontario, Canada.
We reached out to Honda, but did not hear back. We will update this article if we do.
Trump’s Approval Rating
The president also boasted that he has “tremendous poll numbers now.”
It’s subjective, of course, to describe one’s poll numbers as “tremendous.” But Trump’s average job approval rating — based on polling data assembled from dozens of polls by Real Clear Politics and FiveThirtyEight — is currently below 43 percent.
As of May 22, Trump’s average job approval rating on Real Clear Politics was 42.5 percent, and FiveThirtyEight put it at 41.1 percent. By contrast, those who disapproved of Trump’s job performance averaged 53.7 percent, according to Real Clear Politics, and 53.8 percent, according to FiveThirtyEight.
As for individual polls taken this month, Trump’s job approval rating reached a peak of 51 percent in the Zogby Poll, which was conducted May 2 to May 9 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent. The low point was a Morning Consult poll, which showed the president at 37 percent. That poll was taken May 17 to 19, and had an error margin of plus or minus 2 percent.
Trump Repeats
As we often find, the president also repeated some false claims that we have previously debunked:
China Trade Deficit: The president said, “We have a trade deficit with China of $500 billion.” That’s false. As we have written before, the U.S. trade deficit with China in goods and services was a record $378.7 billion in 2018, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (see table 3). The U.S. had a $419.3 billion deficit with China in goods (table 6) and a $40.5 billion surplus in services (table 9).
Tariff Revenue: Trump said that, as a result of tariffs he has placed on Chinese goods, “we are going to be taking in possibly $100 billion, possibly more than that in tariffs. We never took in 10 cents from China.” It’s not true, as we have previously said, that the U.S. has never collected tariffs on Chinese goods. The amount of tariff revenue has increased, but the U.S. did collect billions of dollars each year since at least 2000. For example, the U.S. collected about $13.4 billion in 2016, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission database. As we also wrote, tariffs are taxes paid by U.S. importers in the form of customs duties, not by the Chinese government or its companies.
Liquefied Natural Gas Exporting. The president said, “I was in Louisiana opening up a $10 billion LNG plant that would’ve never been approved under another type of administration, never,” and, “They’ve been trying for years to get it built, but we got approvals very quickly for the big LNG.” That’s false. As we wrote before, the plant in question, Sempra Energy’s Cameron LNG plant, was approved in 2014 by the Obama administration, a fact Sempra Energy confirmed.

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O’Rourke Twists Facts at Town Hall
By D’Angelo Gore, Lori Robertson, Eugene Kiely, and Robert Farley
Posted on May 23, 2019

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke twisted the facts on several topics, including immigration and gun control, during a CNN town hall.
O’Rourke incorrectly said Trump is “proposing to build a 2,000-mile wall” at a cost of $30 billion. The administration has proposed a 10-year, $18 billion plan that would increase the total miles of primary border fencing to 970 miles. “The wall’s never meant to be 2,100 miles long,” Trump now says, citing “natural barriers” between the two countries.
O’Rourke claimed that the president had described “asylum-seekers as animals or an infestation,” but the president used those words when talking about the MS-13 gang.
O’Rourke said Trump tried to “ban all Muslims” from entering the United States. Trump called for such a ban during his presidential campaign — but that’s not what he did as president.
The Texas Democrat said “an expert” told him that “40 percent of the incarcerated population in” Iowa is African American. But estimates we reviewed were lower — at around one-quarter of inmates.
He claimed that states that have adopted universal background checks for gun purchases “have seen a reduction in gun violence of up to 50 percent.” Academic research doesn’t support that.
The town hall aired on May 21. O’Rourke, a former U.S. representative from Texas, spoke to a crowd at Drake University in Iowa.
Exaggerating the Wall
In discussing the current situation at the southwest border, O’Rourke twice said that Trump either wants or is proposing to “build a 2,000-mile wall.”
O’Rourke: And then let’s focus more of our attention on our own hemisphere. Those people to whom we are connected by land, by culture, and increasingly by families, if we invest in solutions in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, then fewer people have to flee those countries and come to our border at the United States-Mexico border, where we’re proposing to build a 2,000-mile wall right now.
He later repeated his claim about “a 2,000-mile wall.”
O’Rourke: But, Dana, that can’t be the solution in and of itself. We need to invest in solutions in the northern triangle. This president wants to cut $500 million — that’s all that we give to those three countries — and if you put it into perspective, he wants to spend $30 billion on a 2,000-mile wall. He wants to cut that. I would double it.
We don’t know what the president “wants.” But he has not proposed a 2,000-mile wall, and, in fact, he has said that there is no need to erect barriers the entire length of the border because of natural barriers, such as rivers and mountains.
It is true that during the 2016 campaign Trump promised he would build “a great, great wall on our southern border.” He provided no specific construction plan during the campaign. His immigration plan simply said, “There must be a wall across the southern border.” And, of course, “Mexico must pay for the wall.”
Once elected, Trump signed an executive order that directed the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to “take all appropriate steps to immediately plan, design, and construct a physical wall along the southern border, using appropriate materials and technology to most effectively achieve complete operational control of the southern border.”
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection, an agency within DHS, developed a 10-year, $18 billion plan, which it submitted on Jan. 5, 2018, to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. The plan “identified approximately $18 billion in funding needs over a 10-year period for 722 miles of ‘border wall system,’ including ‘316 miles of new primary wall and 407 miles of replacement and secondary wall,’” according to a committee report.
In a July 2018 report, the Government Accountability Office said it reviewed the CBP’s “Impedance and Denial Prioritization Strategy,” which the GAO said “included an overall estimate of the cost to construct barriers at Border Patrol’s top 17 priority locations — an estimate of $18 billion for 722 miles of barriers.”
The GAO report also said: “From fiscal year 2005 through fiscal year 2015, CBP increased the total miles of primary barriers on the southwest border from 119 miles to 654 miles — including 354 miles of primary pedestrian barriers and 300 miles of primary vehicle barriers.”
If the administration does add 316 miles of new primary barriers to the existing 654 miles of primary barriers, then there would be about 970 miles of primary barriers — roughly half the 2,000-mile southern border.
During the partial government shutdown, which was spurred by the president’s demand for border security funding, Trump addressed the nation on Jan. 19. In his remarks, Trump said he was asking Congress for $5.7 billion in fiscal year 2019 toward construction of what he called “a strategic deployment of physical barriers, or a wall.”
The president said that there was no need to build “a 2,000-mile concrete structure from sea to sea.” He said, “Much of the border is already protected by natural barriers such as mountains and water.”
A year earlier, the president told the Wall Street Journal something similar.
Trump, Jan. 11, 2018: The other thing … so the wall. The wall’s never meant to be 2,100 miles long. We have mountains that are far better than a wall, we have violent rivers that nobody goes near, we have areas …
But, you don’t need a wall where you have a natural barrier that’s far greater than any wall you could build, OK? Because somebody said oh, he’s going to make the wall smaller. I’m not going to make it smaller. The wall was always going to be a wall where we needed it.
Carlos Diaz, a CBP spokesman, provided us with a “border wall status” fact sheet dated May 23 that said: “Since January 2017, approximately 205 miles of new and updated border barriers have been funded through the traditional appropriations process and via Treasury Forfeiture Funding, of which approximately 42 miles have been completed to date.”
CBP has identified $6.1 billion over the last three fiscal years to fund 336 miles of new and replacement barriers, according to the agency’s fact sheet.
We don’t know what Trump plans to do at the border after fiscal year 2019, and CBP declined to say. “All that we can discuss at this point is what we’ve been funded by Congress,” Diaz said.
But what we do know is that Trump has not proposed “to build a 2,000-mile wall,” as O’Rourke said.
Mischaracterizing Trump’s Words
O’Rourke claimed that President Donald Trump had described “asylum-seekers as animals or an infestation,” but the president has used those words to describe MS-13 gang members.
Trump has used the word “invasion” to describe members of the caravan and all immigrants who cross the border illegally.
O’Rourke: This president, this administration, his policies here at home and abroad have been an absolute disaster. Describing those immigrants who come to this country as rapists and criminals, though they commit crimes at a far lower rate than those who are born in this country, describing asylum-seekers as animals or an infestation — an infestation is how you might describe a termite or a cockroach, something that you want to stamp out, something less than human — you don’t get kids in cages at the border until you have dehumanized them in the eyes of your fellow Americans.
Trump has a history of using the word “animals” in reference to MS-13 members. At a July 25, 2017, rally in Ohio, Trump said MS-13 gang members were “animals” who “slice” and “dice” young girls because they want their victims “to go through excruciating pain.” Three days later in New York, Trump again said of the gang members, “These are animals.”
In May 2018, there was some controversy when the president said at a White House roundtable discussion with California political and law enforcement leaders: “We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in — and we’re stopping a lot of them — but we’re taking people out of the country. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals.”
Some news coverage said Trump referred to some immigrants as “animals,” while other reports said he was talking about immigrant gang members, which had been mentioned by the Fresno County sheriff before Trump made his comments. Then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi criticized Trump for saying “undocumented immigrants” were “animals.”
But Trump, and White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, then clarified his remarks. Trump said, “But I’m referring, and you know I’m referring, to the MS-13 gangs that are coming in.”
We wrote of the controversy then that we couldn’t say what Trump meant when he made his remarks, but the president had a history of using the term “animals” for gang members. Plus, at this point, Trump has clarified the remark.
Similarly, Trump’s use of the words “infest” and “infestation” has been in comments mentioning MS-13. He said in a June 19, 2018, tweet that Democrats “want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country, like MS-13.” A few weeks later, he tweeted: “When we have an ‘infestation’ of MS-13 GANGS in certain parts of our country, who do we send to get them out? ICE!”
As we have written before, the MS-13 gang formed in Los Angeles in the 1980s. The Justice Department said there were “more than 10,000 members” in 2017, but the FBI has been using that 10,000 estimate since at least 2006.
Tried to ‘Ban All Muslims’?
O’Rourke said Trump attempted to “ban all Muslims” from entering the United States. As a presidential candidate, Trump proposed such a ban. As president, he didn’t go that far.
O’Rourke: To try to ban all Muslims, all people of one religion from the shores of a country that is comprised of people from the world over, every tradition of faith, every walk of life.
Trump did call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” during the 2016 presidential campaign. That was shortly after a Muslim couple killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California. The husband, Syed Farook, was born in America, but his wife, Tashfeen Malik, came to the U.S. from Pakistan in July 2014 on a K-1 fiancee visa.
Trump issued a “Statement on Preventing Muslim Immigration,” which he read at a Dec. 7, 2015, rally. Trump called for a “complete shutdown … until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on. We have no choice.”
However, Trump’s executive actions as president did not go that far.
On June 26, 2018, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the president had “lawfully exercised the broad discretion granted to him” under the Immigration and Nationality Act to restrict entry to some foreign nationals in order to protect the interests of the United States. That ruling concerned a presidential proclamation that Trump signed in September 2017 — the third version of the administration’s travel restrictions — which denied U.S. travel visas to certain nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, North Korea and Venezuela.
The first five countries are majority Muslim nations, but that’s not a ban on all Muslims.
In fact, in January 2017, the Pew Research Center estimated that Trump’s original executive order — which also included travel restrictions for Iraqi and Sudanese nationals — would affect only about 12 percent of the world’s Muslim population.
Iowa’s African American Incarcerated Population
O’Rourke said he was told by “an expert” that African Americans make up “40 percent of the incarcerated population” in Iowa. We didn’t find support for a figure that high.
O’Rourke: I was talking to somebody in Iowa, Tavis Hall, who is an expert on this. He said African Americans comprise 3 percent of Iowa’s population, 40 percent of the incarcerated population in this state.
African Americans are just 3.8 percent of Iowa’s population, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates as of July 2018. It’s also true that African Americans are overrepresented in Iowa’s prisons and jails, although they don’t make up two-fifths of the state’s incarcerated population, according to the estimates we reviewed.
In 2014, the nonprofit Prison Policy Initiative, which produces research on mass incarceration, reported — based on data from the 2010 Census — that African Americans made up 3 percent of Iowa’s total population and 23 percent of its prison and jail population. A senior policy analyst for PPI told us the organization plans to update those figures in 2021, after the 2020 Census data becomes available.
In addition, the Vera Institute of Justice, a nonprofit that works to “improve justice systems,” estimates that, in 2015, African Americans made up 25.2 percent of Iowa’s state prison population and 23 percent of the population in jails statewide.
The Vera Institute says its “Incarceration Trends” data tool is “assembled using information collected by the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), supplemented with data from state departments of correction when federal data is not available.” Its prison population estimate is very close to a more recent figure from a report from the Iowa Department of Human Rights, which said the total prison population in Iowa was “approximately 24.5% African-American” as of fiscal year 2018.
We called Tavis Hall, executive director of Experience Waterloo, which promotes tourism in that Iowa city. He said he did speak with O’Rourke about African American incarceration.
Hall initially told us he didn’t recall the source of the statistic he mentioned to O’Rourke, but later he emailed us a link to the 2017 annual report from the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office in Iowa. That report said that nearly 40 percent (2,003 of 5,720) of male inmates in Black Hawk County Jail that year were black.
“I likely conflated that number with the overall incarceration rate within the state,” Hall explained.
Universal Background Checks
O’Rourke repeated a variation of a claim we have fact-checked before, saying that states that have adopted universal background checks for gun purchases “have seen a reduction in gun violence of up to 50 percent.” Recent academic research does not support that.
O’Rourke: We know that in this country, those states that have adopted universal background checks and close every loophole — the Charleston loophole, the boyfriend loophole, the gun show loophole — and make sure that everyone who purchases a firearm goes through a background check, those states have seen a reduction in gun violence of up to 50 percent.
O’Rourke is a proponent of universal background checks, which would cover private sales by unlicensed individuals, including some sales at gun shows and over the internet. But he has repeatedly cited this misleading success rate, despite recent academic research that suggests it is wildly inflated.
When O’Rourke claimed in a May 7 campaign event that state laws mandating universal checks “have been shown to reduce gun violence by 50 percent,” his campaign pointed to research released by Everytown for Gun Safety in 2015 that found “nearly 50 percent fewer police murdered with guns, women shot to death by intimate partners in states with background checks.” This time, O’Rourke added an “up to” qualifier — that “states have seen a reduction in gun violence of up to 50 percent” — but the claim is still misleading.
Boston University Community Health Sciences Professor Michael Siegel told us states that have lower firearm violence rates to begin with are the ones that tend to pass laws requiring universal background checks. A study he led looked at the change in gun violence rates after states passed (or got rid of) universal background checks and found lower rates of violence associated with states with universal checks, but not nearly 50 percent lower.
That study, published in March in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, looked at homicide and suicide rates in all 50 states over a 26-year period and found that universal background checks are associated with about a 15 percent reduction in firearm homicide. The study stopped short of concluding that the decline was caused by those laws.
“After reviewing the overall literature, I would estimate that the association is somewhere between a 10% and 15% reduction,” Siegel told us via email. “So the 50% claim sounds exaggerated. I’m not sure what data would support that.”
Siegel noted that his research found an “association” between universal background checks and reduced homicide rates, “but did not definitively conclude causality.”
A spokesman for Everytown for Gun Safety told us it has updated the data cited by O’Rourke about universal background checks as a result of new research.
“The rigorous research that’s come out since that release has improved our understanding of this, and we replaced the statistics from that (2015) release in more recent materials, including the background checks page,” Adam Sege, a spokesman for Everytown for Gun Safety, told us. The current background checks page cites a study in 2015 that concluded Connecticut’s implementation of a handgun permit-to-purchase law “was associated with a 40% reduction in Connecticut’s firearm homicide rates during the first 10 years that the law was in place.” But that’s a little different from a universal background check law — the law required background checks for handgun permits; it’s just one state, and again, the researchers found association, not causality.
In 2018, the RAND Corporation released several reports as part of its Gun Policy in America initiative, including one on the “Effects of Background Checks on Violent Crime.” The review identified eight studies since 2003 that examined the relationship between background checks and violent crime, and that met its research criteria. The report concluded: “Evidence that background checks may reduce violent crime and total homicides is limited, and studies provide moderate evidence that dealer background checks reduce firearm homicides. Evidence of the effect of private-seller background checks on firearm homicides is inconclusive.”

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It seems that the seat fillers we call Congress are all cowards and as we already know liars! They have been caught unawares on multiple issues stated in TOTUS’s tweet stream and during his campaign rallies. With all the backpedaling and explaining they have had to do, they still back this backward running horse. My firm conviction is that the President’s election is in many ways less important than the members of Congress as many have been in office for longer terms than the President. Add to this their openly poor performance on many life determining issues for us all, we have the perfect storm of Government gone wild. Bitch McConnell has kept his head down while doing his “save my own ass” act instead of leading as he should “loud and out front” as he did when Barry was President. The back room activities (or lack of) in Congress is where our failures start and stop. The upcoming national and local elections are our opportunity to shift the administration towards one that reflects the will of the ALL of us, not just a privileged few. We have been in the grip of a Crisis maker who wants to appear to ride to the rescue as if leading a country is an Action movie. Our sole objective needs to be the correction of government’s function which simply put means using our tax dollars to take care of us and assist our allies in the struggle for peace and prosperity.

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Peter Wade, Rolling Stone 17 hours ago

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been taking heat this week for cutting funding from the Special Olympics in its budget proposal this year, but a department official familiar with the process who spoke with CNN said it was the White House Office of Management and Budget that insisted on revoking funding, not DeVos.
DeVos, though, was the one who had to appear before Congress and defend the decision by the government to cut the $18 million in funding for the event, only to have President Donald Trump restore it two days later.
Another staff member who spoke with CNN described the fallout as the “week from hell.”
Department staffers said that their budget proposals had included money for the Special Olympics, but the Office of Management and Budget kept rejecting it.
After the cuts received a flurry of negative news coverage, the president decided to restore funding. “The Special Olympics will be funded,” Trump told reporters, adding, “I have overridden my people, we’re funding the Special Olympics.” He also claimed he “had no idea” about the proposed cuts until the press started reporting it.

After Trump reinstated the funds, DeVos issued a statement saying she was “pleased and grateful the President and I see eye-to-eye on this issue.” She added, “This is funding I have fought for behind the scenes over the last several years.” That last statement contradicts what DeVos said to Congress, but two people familiar with the process confirmed DeVos’s characterization to CNN.
The Office of Management and Budget also released a statement of its own: “The President trusts his agencies and staff to implement his goals, yet when he learned of this issue, he has a big heart and made an executive decision. While the budget requests over $13 billion for special education, this administration has also always made clear that the Special Olympics is a worthy cause. His announcement yesterday does not change the overall goals of the budget and we will work with Congress to ensure the President’s priorities and agenda are advanced on behalf of the American people.”
Sounds like once again the White House was caught in crisis of its own making.
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There are mainstream and semi-mainstream personalities who promote conspiracy theories as a job. Some monetize these efforts with donations from believers and some other contributors yet the information offered is more hyperbole than fact. Conspiracy theories are just that, theories- until proven to be real. Many of these theories are derived from undeveloped ideas, half-truths and sometimes legends. These skewed versions somehow sound plausible to many due to their personal biases and circumstances. The beliefs in these theories and other off-center beliefs have become fodder for the extreme sides of politics while coloring the facts. Now that the Mueller investigation is done(?), we have more questions than answers and more Trumpian utterings from Congress and the OFFAL office stating exoneration. This is not the end of this as the truth is still unknown and thereby will promote more Conspiracy theories to carry us into the next major election.

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Thank you, GOP (or Dupublicans) and “Scamocrats”   for your continued support of misfit leaders in the Senate and the Oval Office. It will not go unnoticed in the next election by people who vote and are affected by your poor performance.MA

Sebastian Murdock
HuffPost•March 15, 2019
President Donald Trump this week issued a thinly veiled threat of violence against his opponents, saying that members of the police, military and biker gangs could “play it tough” if they “reach a certain point.”
It was a disturbing remark, but even more disturbing is the fact that its part of a long history of Trump encouraging his supporters to engage in violence. Largely unchecked by his party’s leadership, Trump’s rhetoric has become normalized despite its real-world ramifications.
“I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of Bikers for Trump,” Trump told Breitbart in the interview, which he later tweeted. “I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.”
“I think it sounds very much to me like he’s encouraging them to engage in something that’s probably illegal such as assaulting people, you know behave in a dangerous way,” Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) told MSNBC. “That sounds like a threat to me. I think it’s appalling.”

The president later deleted his tweet as news began to trickle in of a mass shooting in New Zealand that left at least 49 worshiping Muslims dead on Friday. While there are no signs that the suspect was a close follower of Trump, he did mention the U.S. president once in his rambling manifesto, calling Trump “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.” Trump has previously banned those from majority-Muslim countries from coming into the U.S., keeping families apart under a racist policy.
It’s impossible to ignore how Trump’s continued rhetoric of violence and fear of other ethnicities has inspired his supporters to carry out attacks. Pro-Trump extremists sought to slaughter Somali Muslim immigrants in Kansas before authorities managed to intervene. The men chose their targets after Trump called refugees “the greatest Trojan horse of all time,” according to court testimony.
The case is one of more than a dozen where apparent Trump supporters attacked or plotted to attack Muslims. Acts of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism have surged during Trump’s presidency, with more than 150 instances of Trump-related taunts and attacks, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting.
But it’s not just hate speech the president gloms onto when encouraging violence. During the 2016 presidential election cycle, Trump continuously called for his supporters to commit violence against protestors.
“If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you?” Trump said at a 2016 rally in Iowa. “Seriously, OK. Just knock the hell — I promise you I will pay for the legal fees, I promise.”
It worked. Videos taken at Trump rallies show his supporters lobbing punches at protestors.
In 2017, a gaggle of white supremacists committed acts of violence in Charlottesville, leading to the killing of anti-racist protestor Heather Heyer. It should have been a layup for the president to condemn the attack. He defended his racist supporters instead.
“You have people who are very fine people on both sides,” Trump said.
GOP leaders have largely ignored Trump’s repeated calls for violence. After Trump claimed to have the might of the military on his side, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) stayed quiet. Sens. McConnell and John Cornyn (R-Texas), along with Reps. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif) did not respond to HuffPost’s requests asking if they would condemn Trump’s latest remarks.
As the GOP fails to respond to Trumps’ threats, the violence continues. Last October, pipe bombs were mailed to the political enemies of Trump and to the New York offices of CNN, which Trump has consistently deemed the “enemy of the people.” The Florida suspect in that case drove a van plastered with images of the president, and had told coworkers he “wanted to go back to the Hitler days.”
Just days after authorities caught the pipe bomb suspect, another wave of terror hit when a man went into a Pittsburgh synagogue and killed 11 people. Tree of Life Rabbi Jeffrey Myers later met with the president to remind him that “hate speech leads to hateful actions.”
The rabbi’s words apparently fell on deaf ears.

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The proposed budget as outlined below indicates how out of touch the current administration is or perhaps they do not care about the effects this budget if passed will have on the country and especially the neediest of us all no matter the race. This administration seems to have the idea that these cuts will only affect mostly nonwhite Americans. The point of this budget is to get money for a wall that in its use will not stem the flow of drugs, illegals as the administration likes to tout. Better thinkers have pointed out what is needed in conjunction with some “barriers”  are more personnel (jobs) and electronic surveillance (jobs). This is an indication of “trump” method of conducting business e.g create a crisis or situation then through solutions at it and hope something works, if not move on like grazing cattle . Examining the current cabinet composition we can easily see that they are not the “best” people as TOTUS assured us he would appoint (drain the swamp?). MA

JIM TANKERSLEY and MICHAEL TACKETT 1 hr ago

As budget deficit balloons, few in Washington seem to care

WASHINGTON — President Trump sent Congress on Monday a record $4.75 trillion budget request that proposes an increase in military spending and sharp cuts to domestic programs like education and environmental protection for the 2020 fiscal year.
Mr. Trump’s budget, the largest in federal history, includes a nearly 5 percent increase in military spending — which is more than the Pentagon had asked for — and an additional $8.6 billion for construction of a border wall with Mexico.
White House officials said the budget would include a total of $1.9 trillion in cuts to mandatory safety net programs, like Medicaid. It also proposes new work requirements for working-age adult recipients of supplemental nutrition assistance, federal housing support and Medicaid, a move the administration said would reduce spending on those programs by $327 billion.

The president is asking for a 5 percent, cut in nondefense discretionary spending, compared to 2019 spending caps set by Congress. That would amount to $100 billion less than Congress actually spent on nondefense discretionary programs in 2019, when it busted those caps.
Those cuts would not be across the board but come from programs at federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, where Mr. Trump has previously suggested cutting funds. The budget would also reduce spending on foreign aid, international cultural exchange programs and federal employee retirement plans.
A few domestic spending programs would see increases, if Mr. Trump’s budget were to become law. Those include efforts to reduce opioid addiction and a 10 percent increase in health care spending for veterans. Mr. Trump will also propose a new school-choice program, $200 billion in infrastructure spending and efforts to reduce the cost of prescription drugs.
The budget would not balance for 15 years, breaking Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign promise to pay off the entire national debt within eight years. Mr. Trump’s first budget proposed to achieve balance in 10 years.
The budget forecasts trillion-dollar deficits for four straight years, starting in 2019.
The budget is unlikely to have much impact on actual spending levels, which are controlled by Congress. As with any president in a time of divided government, the blueprint is more of a declaration of Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign priorities than it is a guide to spending decisions in Washington this year. Democratic leaders in both the House and Senate pronounced the budget dead on arrival on Sunday. Mr. Trump’s budgets largely failed to gain traction in previous years, when Republicans controlled both chambers.
Budget details released by White House officials highlight several areas of conflict between Democrats and Mr. Trump, starting with immigration enforcement. Along with renewing the wall funding fight that led to a record government shutdown late last year, Mr. Trump is asking for more personnel at United States Customs and Immigration Enforcement and a policy change meant to end so-called sanctuary cities, which do not hand over undocumented immigrants to federal officials when they are arrested in local crimes.
Administration officials fanned out to defend the president’s budget. Russ Vought, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, blamed Democrats for “our nation’s $22 trillion debt,” while omitting that the debt has soared under Mr. Trump.
In an Op-Ed on FoxNews.com, he said that the president’s proposed cuts in domestic spending were in line with his campaign promises. He then outlined a number of programs, such as $68 million “being spent every year on international labor activities, including promoting unions in countries in South America,” that he said highlighted wasteful spending.

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