Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Must See TV

Latest letter to the Post Star in response to Elise's mouthpiece. 

I want to join Tom Flanagin in urging people to watch the Plattsburgh town hall with Rep. Stefanik at Mountain Lake PBS' website. It’s a good opportunity to see her between now and next year's campaign ads. Debates, who knows? There are two additional reasons, though.

The first is it disproves the notion that her constituents are going to go on a rampage if she holds one. I was a lucky attendee and can attest that there may have been a few groans but definitely no pitchforks. Understandably, health care is an emotional issue. So watch for the audio/visual evidence disproving that old saw.

The second reason is to see the gentleman questioning her at a little over an hour and eight minutes in. He points out that she had seven opportunities to sign onto a bill forcing President Trump to release his taxes. She responds she's "called on the president to release his taxes" and other obfuscations. The questioner persists by asking whether she'd vote for tax cuts without knowing how it would affect Trump. She stuck to the "calls for the president to release his taxes." I don't think that's going to work. No matter how many times she asks. Or, for that matter, how many times she's asked why she wouldn't vote to force the release of them. Are checks and balances about giving aid and comfort to the White House? I don't think she'll answer that either.

Monday, July 24, 2017

A Couple of Stein Stories

I love this one. I love it like the Mooch loves Trump. God, I hope there's something to it.

Third party candidate Jill Stein was a surprising addition this week to investigators casting an increasingly wide net in the congressional probe into Russian interference in the presidential campaign.

Stein’s name was included in a Senate Judiciary Committee letter requesting all communication between President Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. and a number of others, including Russian officials and other members of Trump’s presidential campaign.

Yeah, it's a smear and McCarthyism and blargh! Hope not.

I'd be more than willing to give her a pass on this if it wasn't for Matt Funiciello. That and the general holier than thouness of the Green Party. 

She has made purity a central pillar of her presidential candidacy, and she has held that the Green Party reigns above all others with respect to moral and ethical supremacy. In an interview with CNN last April, she said, “I have long since thrown in the towel on the Democratic and Republican parties because they are really a front group for the 1 percent, for predatory banks, fossil-fuel giants, and war profiteers.”

Yes, that's what I'm talking about. She's invested in mutual funds that invest in companies that include predatory banks, fossil-fuel giants and war profiteers. Not directly invested. But you know what, she doesn't deserve a break for it anyway. 

Stein has invested $995,011 to $2.2 million in funds such as the Vanguard 500 fund that maintain significant stakes in Exxon and other energy companies like Chevron, Duke Energy, Conoco Phillips, and Toho Gas, a Japanese company that engages in the sale of natural gas, tar, and coke, a fuel made from coal.
...

Stein has invested roughly $1.2 to $2.65 million in funds like the TIAA-CREF Equity Index that have big stakes in the financial-services industry. Holdings in these funds include big banks like JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, and Deutsche Bank as major parts of their investment portfolios. Five of the funds that Stein invests in maintain large positions in Wells Fargo, which has come under fire recently amid charges that its employees were pressured to open up fraudulent new accounts for clients.

One of the funds Stein has invested in maintains a significant position in Goldman Sachs bonds. Stein once referred to Goldman Sachs as Hillary Clinton’s best friend.

In one of the handful of direct stock investments Stein holds, she listed between $50,001 and $100,000 in the pharmaceutical giant Merck, which paid a record fine for overbilling Medicaid. She has also invested $1,130,010 to $2,400,000 in funds that maintain significant stakes in Pfizer, Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, and Allergan.

Stein has between $500,004 to $1,100,000 invested in funds that maintain significant stakes in Phillip Morris International, the tobacco giant that manufactures Marlboro cigarettes and 17 other tobacco brands.

(S)he has between $50,001-$100,000 invested in a fund that has Raytheon Corp. as its fourth largest holding, a $38 million investment. Raytheon, which is the fourth largest defense contractor in the world and derives 90 percent of its revenue from military contracts, manufactures drone systems, which Stein has committed to ending, and significant missile systems.

And for the height of dis-ingenuousness. 

Stein said that she has “explored” more socially responsible funds but “found their investments in fracking and large-scale biofuels not much better than the non-green funds. I have not yet found the mutual funds that represent my goals of advancing the cause of people, planet, and peace.”

It took me less than 30 seconds with a web search to find funds that don't invest in fracking. 

Many critics say clean-energy and socially responsible investment funds offer a poor rate of return and should generally be avoided… Which likely explains why Stein chose to invest her wealth in funds that have often offered double-digit returns.

Yes, maybe that's it. And what does Matthew Pureheart have to do with it? 

(I)t was his wife's money and it was made by investing in some pretty damaging and unconscious companies (Monsanto, McDonald's, tobacco and oil companies and several hedge funds to name but a few.)

That was about Aaron Woolf, his Democratic opponent in 2014. I suspect he's referring to Woolf's wife owning mutual funds that invested in those companies and industries and that she's not directly invested in them. I can hardly wait to be in a comment thread involving or including MF and linking to this Stein story. C'mon 2018. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Quick Link to Michael Gerson

On the latest sins of Trump:

Republicans have sometimes employed the excuse that members of the Trump team are new to politics — babes in the woods — who don’t yet understand all the ins and outs. Their innocence, the argument goes, is proved by their guilt. This might apply to minor infractions of campaign finance law. It does not cover egregious acts of wrongdoing. Putting a future president in the debt of a foreign power — and subject, presumably, to blackmail by that power — is the height of sleazy stupidity. It is not a mistake born of greenness; it is evidence of a vacant conscience.

Next Challenger For Congress

Emily Martz, who I believe is number four.

Professionally, since her graduation from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts with a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in political science, her journey has spanned each coast and several elements of the evolving modern economy.

She worked in financial services and economic development in the Pacific Northwest as well as the Northeast, for companies such as Prudential Insurance, Putnam Investments and The Hartford. She pursued graduate studies in history, with a focus on the mutual fund industry, at the University of Delaware while also instructing business, economics and history courses at Paul Smith’s College. And she helped to lead the Adirondack North Country Association’s job-creation and sustainable development efforts before she recently resigned, on amicable terms, from her posts as ANCA’s deputy director and director of operations and finance to run as a candidate full-time. She also resigned as a volunteer on the Saranac Lake Downtown Advisory Board to run for Congress.

She sounds great as do all of them really. Patrick Nelson has been out campaigning forever it seems. Looking forward to the primary. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Eat Your Nuts and Chocolate

Your telomeres will thank you.

Diet appears to play a role in free-radical damage (which alters cell functioning), inflammation, and gut bacteria. It also affects the length of telomeres­­—protective caps at the end of chromosomes. These factors can have an impact on conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, hypertension, respiratory disorders, cognitive decline, and infection.

And don't forget the beans. You already knew they were good for your heart, though.

A Few More About the Brilliant Donald Jr

Hey, everyone else is calling the Trumps brilliant. I gotta say that I don't think it means what they think it means. First up, fake news CNN.

So, even if he didn't know the exact name or identity of the Russian lawyer he was to meet with, he knew -- if he read his email -- that whatever he was told in the meeting was part of a foreign government's efforts to help choose its preferred candidate in the 2016 election.

Sit with that for a minute: The eldest son of the de facto Republican presidential nominee reportedly met with someone he knew was peddling information as part of a Russian government effort to elect his dad.

Sounds real to me. It's sounds like it's getting realer all the time. And Randall Eliason on how conspiracy cases are made, brick by brick like a wall. Only this wall is getting made.

Conspiracies, by their nature, take place in secret. To break through that secrecy, prosecutors often rely on circumstantial evidence. The classic trial lawyer’s metaphor is that each such piece of evidence is a brick. No single event standing alone may prove the case. But when assembled together, those individual bricks may build a wall — a big, beautiful wall — that excludes any reasonable doubt about what happened.

That’s why this latest news is a big deal. The meeting helps establish a few critical facts. The first is simply that contacts between Russians and campaign officials did take place. If you are seeking to prove a criminal partnership, evidence that the alleged partners had private meetings establishes the opportunity to reach an agreement.

Of course, there already was evidence of other meetings between Russian officials and members of the Trump campaign. The crucial new detail about this meeting is that campaign members now admit it took place after they were told that Veselnitskaya was offering compromising information about Clinton.

This fact is significant regardless of what happened at the meeting. Proving a defendant’s state of mind is key in any criminal case. This meeting provides critical evidence about the state of mind of Trump representatives: They were willing to hear what a Russian individual had to offer about their opponent.

Wonder how well the Trumps are sleeping these days.

Monday, July 10, 2017

We Need All Our Legs

Paul Krugman pointing out why Republicans are having such a hard time repealing and replacing destroying healthcare in this country.

To understand what’s happened with the A.C.A. so far, you need to realize that as written (and interpreted by the Supreme Court), the law’s functioning depends a lot on cooperation from state governments. And where states have in fact cooperated, expanding Medicaid, operating their own insurance exchanges, and promoting both enrollment and competition among insurers, it has worked pretty darn well.

Compare, for example, the experience of Kentucky and its neighbor Tennessee. In 2013, before full implementation of the A.C.A., Tennessee had slightly fewer uninsured, 13 percent versus 14 percent. But by 2015Kentucky, which implemented the law in full, had cut its uninsured rate to just 6 percent, while Tennessee was at 11.

Or consider the problem of counties with only one (or no) insurer, meaning no competition. As one recent study points out, this is almost entirely a red-state problem. In states with G.O.P. governors, 21 percent of the population lives in such counties; in Democratic-governor states, less than 2 percent.

So Obamacare is, though nobody will believe it, a well-thought-out law that works where states want it to work. It could and should be made to work better, but Republicans show no interest in making that happen. Instead, all their ideas involve sawing off one or more legs of that three-legged stool.

I may not have said it for a day or two so, thank God I live in NY!

Lies and the Lying Liars That Tweet Them

I know I'm probably going to be commenting somewhere and this bit of stupidity is going to come up. I've pretty much declared a moratorium on responding to the Hillary selling uranium to the Russians thing.

There were a total of seven memos prepared by Comey after his nine conversations with Trump. Four of those memos are marked as classified at the “secret” or “confidential” level, officials told the Hill.

It’s true that “the former FBI director’s personal memos detailing private conversations with President Trump contained … secret information,” as the Fox report summarizes, though not, apparently, top secret material. (The levels of classifications go “confidential,” “secret” and then “top secret.”) But the wording on that Fox report is misleading. The memos contained classified information is true when considering the memos as a group. It is not true, though, that eachmemo contained classified information — or, at least, it’s not true that each memo was marked as being classified.

This issue came up during Comey’s June testimony, at which point Comey made clear that the memo he gave to his friend to leak, documenting a meeting on Feb. 14 of this year, was not one that included classified material.

I'd like to think I can get to the point of anticipating the wingnuttia.  

Weaving a Tangled Web

Trump Jr. shot holes all through a lot of denials of Russian contacts during the campaign. And I thought all he shot were innocent animals. Nice going Trumpito.

On “Fox News Sunday” on Jan. 15, when Pence passed along Michael Flynn's faulty information about his contact with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak after the campaign, Pence also denied any contact between the campaign and the Kremlin or Russian meddlers.

Poor Mike Pence. They don't tell him anything. Plausible deniability or they just don't like him?

DICKERSON: Just to button up one question, did any adviser or anybody in the Trump campaign have any contact with the Russians who were trying to meddle in the election?

MIKE PENCE: Of course not. And I think to suggest that is to give credence to some of these bizarre rumors that have swirled around the candidacy.

So, The Donald Jr, Manafort and Kushner took a meeting with someone whom they had no idea the identity of.


The question of what Trump Jr. really knew about her is “an investigable issue,” Bauer, who was also White House counsel under Barack Obama, told me. “It’s very difficult to believe that the son of a presidential candidate and the senior members of his campaign would go into a meeting with someone whose identity is unknown to them. Investigators will certainly not take that at face value.”

Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has already said the committee’s probe will seek to interview all attendees at the meeting, presumably in part to establish what was known about Veselnitskaya before Trump Jr. and the others met with her. Bauer told me that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation will likely try to establish the same. “It’s going to be an uphill battle for them to say they routinely took meetings with people who suggested they had useful information without checking their identities,” Bauer said.

I've been seeing this notion put out by the WH lately that even if they did collude with the Russians it's not illegal. Yes, it's gone from no collusion to what's the big deal. Anyway, happy to see this. 

“It does not help their case that you have a very specific operational instance where the campaign decided it was prepared to welcome assistance from a Russian source,” said Bauer, who has previously argued in a series of posts that the law prohibits cooperation with foreign nationals to influence a U.S. election. “You are not permitted to solicit or accept anything of value from a foreign national to influence an election. You cannot enter into a conspiracy with a foreign national to influence an election.”

“What was precisely her connection to the Russian government?” Bauer said. “Investigators are going to try to dig as deeply as possible here.” But Bauer added that it might not even have to be established that she did “report back to Moscow” for this to rise to the level of accepting help from a foreign national in influencing an election. Bauer concluded: “This should draw an awful lot of investigative energy.”

Update: Bauer has just posted his own piece on the significance of these events right here.

It is, it is illegal.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Witch Hunt?


WH ACA Lies

So, the White House is spreading lies about the "failure" of ACA. Fact checks.

Another WaPo article on the damage GOPCare is bound to do to rural areas which is what most of my district is. That's why it's huge. You can't even see Russia from one end to the other. You will be able to after Trump signs over Fort Drum to Putin, though.