The Progressive Populist: The Republican Party’s Sickness of the Soul

The following is an excellent article written by Richard Eskow in the July 1-15, 2017 issue of The Progressive Populist on page 8 titled “The Republican Party’s Sickness of the Soul” and I quote;

“The Republican Party’s Sickness of the Soul”

By RICHARD ESKOW

There’s a sickness on the land. You know the facts: millions of Americans live in poverty. The number of Americans in the workforce remains low. Wages are stagnating and inequality is growing. “Deaths of despair” from alcoholism, opioid overdose, and suicide are on the rise.

But it’s not just the inequality, or the poverty, or the despair, that wounds us. It’s the fact that so many Republican leaders and voters find ways to justify living with these injustices, and are now making them worse.

There’s no polite way to say it: they suffer from a sickness of the soul.

That kind of talk upsets the delicate feelings of conservatives like Tucker Carlson, who recently complained about “the unreasonableness… (the) assumption — and it’s held by a lot of people I live around — that you’re on God’s side … and by calling them names you’re doing the Lord’s work. I just don’t think that’s admirable, and I’m not impressed by that.”

With apologies to Tucker and other conservative snowflakes: when your party is calling for the starvation and mistreatment of large groups of people, it’s reasonable to describe you in less than flattering terms.

Sometimes people look at the cruelties in Republican policies and ask, “How can these people live with themselves?” Here’s how: by telling elaborate lies and fictions so you don’t have to face the cruelty and consequences of your own deeds every time you look in the mirror.

It’s also one way to win elections. It’s easier to blame the victims of your policies for their misery than it is to tell voters you just don’t give a damn about them.

To Hell With Kids

If we judge them by their actions, Republicans and their donors don’t give a damn about kids. One in five American children lives in poverty. But House Republicans are now trying to “reform” a free school breakfast program – by reducing the number of children who would get free meals.

Sick kids would suffer under the Trump budget, which slashes $3.4 billion from the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) – nearly 20% of its funding.

School days at most Oklahoma schools have been cut from five days a week to four, the result of repeated budget cuts by the Republican legislature. The Republican governor called the development “hard for students,” but didn’t ask for a tax increase on the wealthy to pay for education.

In Kansas, where schools were already reeling from years of budget cuts, Republican legislators nevertheless tried to balance the budget this year by cutting $128 million from education. A GOP leader said he “would prefer not to think of it as punishment. I would prefer to think of it as we have a monumental challenge in front of us and that’s what we need to be focused on.”

The “challenge” he had in mind was not the education of Kansas schoolchildren. He’s “focused on” finding a way to balance the budget while preserving huge Republican tax cuts for the rich.

To Hell With the Disabled

They don’t give a damn about the disabled, either. nnApplying for Social Security disability benefits is a rigorous process. The waiting period for people seeking a hearing is now nearly a year and a half, thanks to past Republican budget cuts, and more than 1 million people are waiting to have their appeals heard. They include a Missouri woman with debilitating brain tumors who has been waiting for a decision for more than four years. Even the dying are kept waiting – sometimes until it’s too late – like this Chicago woman, whose friends are raising money for her online.

Trump’s budget cuts funds for Social Security disability by $72 billion.

Mulvaney described Social Security disability as “a welfare program for the long-term disabled,” which it’s not. The average Social Security disability recipient paid into the program for 22 years before collecting benefits.

But then, there’s no reason why “welfare” should be a dirty word, since it exists to help people who are in need. To Republicans, however, it is.

To Hell With the Poor

“As ye do to the least of these …?” Republicans definitely don’t give a damn about the poor.

The Trump budget cuts $800 billion out of Medicaid, which provides health care for lower-income Americans. It would charge retailers for taking food stamps, making it harder for poor people to buy food. It would cut food assistance by $191 million over ten years, a move that would literally result in starvation.

Trump’s budget would also eliminate the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which would cause some poor people to freeze (and some to die) every winter.

To Hell With the Rest of You, Too

They don’t give a damn about seniors. Republicans have been trying to cut Social Security and eliminate Medicare for years. Trump’s budget cuts to Meals on Wheels would hurt many older Americans. So would his Medicaid cuts, since many seniors rely on Medicaid for board and care.

They don’t give a damn about college kids trying to get ahead in life. Trump’s budget would cut the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which would hurt middle-class and low-income kids who study to become public health doctors, or public interest lawyers, or do other good works.

Trump and his colleagues don’t even give a damn about the rural, middle-American areas that made him president. As Politico reports, “the administration’s proposed federal budget cuts are, in effect, local budget cuts that ignore the economic realities of the communities that voted for Trump. The president’s plan proposes deep reductions to agriculture subsidies and eliminates billions of dollars for housing, transportation, environmental cleanup and job training.”

From the start of life until its end, from one end of the country to another: Republicans don’t give a damn.

A State of Mind?

How do people justify supporting such heartless policies? Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson recently said this:

“I think poverty to a large extent is also a state of mind. You take somebody that has the right mindset, you can take everything from them and put them on the street, and I guarantee in a little while they’ll be right back up there. “And you take somebody with the wrong mindset, you can give them everything in the world, they’ll work their way right back down to the bottom.”

Carson also alluded to what he called a “poverty of spirit.”

If you can convince yourself that the victims of your policies are responsible for their own misfortune, you need not feel guilty about making them suffer even more. You might even be doing them a favor by forcing them to change.

The only problem is, this worldview is fiction. Studies show that childhood poverty can be debilitating, and that generational poverty is extremely difficult to escape. And nearly half of the 45 million Americans who live below the poverty line in the United States are children. But Carson’s deluded worldview probably helps him sleep at night.

For his part, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney thinks people who belong to government programs are committing “theft” and “larceny” against taxpayers — especially the high-income taxpayers who form his natural constituency.

That’s another tactic: accuse your victims. Fraud is rare among Social Security disability claimants, and the program is more likely to underpay claimants than over pay them. But Mulvaney cast the program in a larcenous light. “if you’re on disability insurance and you’re not supposed to be, you’re not truly disabled,” Mulvaney said, “we need you to go back to work.”

Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), who’s leading the GOP charge to cut school breakfasts, also uses the fraud defense. Rokita claims he’s “enhancing program integrity and fighting fraud, waste, and abuse.” When you don’t want to admit you’re depriving needy kids of something they need, it’s easier to accuse those kids of fraud.

Recently a Republican House member, Rep. Adrian Smith of Nebraska, was unable to respond coherently when asked if “every American is entitled to eat.” Smith stumbled over his words, mumbling about “nutrition” being “very important” before conceding that food is “essential.” But Smith said he was still willing to cut food stamps.

Poverty of Spirit

There is, indeed, a “poverty of spirit” at work here. But it’s not found among poor people, or among the disabled, or in struggling rural and inner-city communities.

The real poverty of spirit lives in the boardrooms and living rooms of Republican-backing CEOs, who reward themselves with record increases in their own compensation while the rest of the country suffers. It lives in the tortured, self-justifying and selfish logic of Ben Carson, Mick Mulvaney, and Adrian Smith. It lives in the sanctimonious sensitivity of Tucker Carlson and in that gelatinous embodiment of orgiastic self-indulgence that is President Donald Trump. And it lives in the political party who gives these spiritually impoverished impulses a home.

Richard (RJ) Eskow, a consultant and writer (and former insurance/finance executive), is a Senior Fellow with the Campaign for America’s Future (OurFuture.org) and host/managing editor of The Zero Hour radio show and podcast (thisisthezerohour.com). Email rjeskow@ourfuture.org. Follow Eskow on Twitter @rjeskow

From The Progressive Populist, July 1-15, 2017″

(AFTER READING THIS GREAT ARTICLE, POINTING OUT JUST HOW NEGATIVE THE REPUBLICAN-CONTROLLED CONGRESS IS ABOUT WELL OVER TWO-THIRDS OF THE AMERICAN PUBLIC, THE GOP MUST COME OUT WITH A POSITIVE PROGRAM THAT FAVORS THE MAJORITY OF THE PEOPLE.  HOW ARE THEY  GOING TO IMPROVE THE LIVING STANDARDS OF ALL THE PEOPLE, PARTICULARLY SINCE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP SAID HE WAS GOING TO BE PRESIDENT OF ALL THE PEOPLE?  CALL YOUR LEGISLATORS AND TELL THEM WHAT YOU EXPECT.  TELL THEM TO HOLD PUBLIC LISTENING SESSIONS IN THEIR DISTRICT.

 LaVern Isely, Progressive, Overtaxed, Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen Member and USAF Veteran

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The Progressive Populist: Where Does Inequality Come From?

The following is an excellent article written by Jim Hightower on the Creators.com website on May 31, 2017 which was published in the July 1-15, 2017 issue of The Progressive Populist on page 3 titled “Where Does Inequality Come From?” and I quote:

“Where Does Inequality Come From?”

By Jim Hightower

May 31, 2017 5 min read

The vast inequality that’s rending our society is not a natural, inevitable or accidental phenomenon — it’s caused intentionally by policy-decisions that corporate and political officials make, often in tandem.

Every now and then, we commoners get a glimpse of inequality in the making, as we did recently when the GOP Boss of the House, Rep. Paul Ryan rammed the awful Trumpcare bill through that chamber. Without allowing any public testimony or even getting an analysis of its cost, Ryan browbeat and cajoled the Republican majority to hold their noses and pass this gob of plutocratic wretchedness. Their bill was so bad that, at most, a mere 17 percent of Americans support it.

The public’s distaste for Trumpcare is well-deserved, for it’s an inequality machine: It strips at least 23 million people of health coverage; it lets insurance corporations either refuse to cover people with pre-existing conditions or to gouge them with extreme price increases; and it lets states eliminate the requirement that insurance policies must at least cover such essential health needs as cancer treatment and maternity care.

And, in a flagrant example of directly widening inequality in America, the Republicans’ bill slashes $880 billion out of the Medicaid budget, which provides health care for the poor, the elderly and the disabled. That’s not just a cut in dollars, but in people — 14 million needy families would lose their access to healthcare.

But that’s only the half of it. Ryan’s Trumpcare nastiness also gives a massive new tax cut to health care corporations and wealthy investors. How massive is the cut? Precisely $880 billion.

By taking from the needy and giving to the rich, this one deliberate act by Congress would further widen economic disparity in our country by nearly $1.8 trillion. That is one surefire way inequality happens.

Another way to ensure economic inequality by taking from the needy and giving to the rich is God-awful trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement. Trump gloriously pledged last year to scrap the NAFTA trade scam and renegotiate it to provide a “much better” deal for working families. Beautiful! But, like rose blossoms, a politician’s promises can be beautiful when they burst into full, glorious bloom — only later to see them fade over time and, petal by petal, fall away.

This particular blossom was the single most-important issue that convinced many hard-hit, former-factory workers to vote Trump into the White House. But the bloom is now off Trump’s rosy promise, and it looks like working families are getting nothing but more free-trade thorns from him. As revealed in a recently-leaked copy of his NAFTA renegotiation plan, far from scrapping the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal, White House negotiators are goosing it up with even more power for multinational corporations. In particular, the plan includes new “investor incentives” to offshore thousands more of our middle-class jobs. Where did this come from? It seems to have been lifted right out of last year’s discredited and defeated Trans-Pacific Partnership, a scam intended to enthrone corporate supremacy over people and even over our laws.

Indeed, the 500 corporate executives and lobbyists who essentially wrote the raw TPP deal and tried to ram it down our throats, have quietly been huddling with Trump’s team to draft the plan for this “new” NAFTA. Where were representatives of those working people Trump promised to help? Locked out, not even allowed to watch the negotiations, much less have a say in them. The same for consumers, environmentalists, farmers – even members of Congress are being left totally in the dark and allowed no voice in shaping the deal.

But I’m guessing that the six Goldman Sachs executives Trump brought in to run our economic policy have a say, along with his daughter and son-in-law who oversee both our government and the extended Trump family’s global business empire. With all of them and that slew of corporate lobbyists at the table — you, me and everyone else are on the menu. And the inequality gap will continue to grow.”

(WELL, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP SAID BEFORE AND AFTER THE ELECTION THAT HE WAS GOING TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.  IT SEEMS TO ME, WHAT I’M EXPERIENCING IS THE ONLY PEOPLE HE’S MAKING GREAT ARE HIS ELITIST ONE PERCENT MOSTLY BEING MILLIONAIRES AND BILLIONAIRES.  HIS NEW FEDERAL INCOME TAX PROPOSAL FAVORS THE ELITIST ONE PERCENT WHERE HE LOWERS THE TOP RATE FROM 39.6 PERCENT TO 35 PERCENT AND HE MAKES UP FOR THE REVENUE LOSS BY CUTTING MEDICAID AND BLAMING OBAMACARE FOR ALL THE PROBLEMS, WHILE CONDUCTING SECRET MEETINGS ON HIS TRUMPCARE BILL IN THE REPUBLICAN-CONTROLLED SENATE, WHERE HE FIGURES ON PASSAGE IN THE REPUBLICAN-CONTROLLED SENATE IN  THE NEXT DAY OR SO, WITHOUT ANY PUBLIC HEARINGS AND NOT EVEN ALLOWING DEMOCRATS TO MAKE AMENDMENTS.  TO ME, IT SOUNDS LIKE A TOTAL DICTATORSHIP.  I CAN EASY UNDERSTAND WHY SO MANY WOMEN ARE MARCHING ALL AROUND THE WORLD.  CALL YOUR REPUBLICAN LEGISLATORS AND TELL THEM WHAT YOU THINK OF THEIR SECRET MEETINGS.

LaVern Isely, Porgressive, Overtaxed, Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen Member and USAF Veteran

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ABC News: Real ‘Work’? Clinton Swipes at Chelsea’s Profession

The following is an excellent article written by Jennifer Parker on the ABC News website on February 20, 2008 titled “Real ‘Work’? Clinton Swipes at Chelsea’s Profession” and I quote:

“Real ‘Work’? Clinton Swipes at Chelsea’s Profession”

ABC News’ Jennifer Parker and Eloise Harper Report: Sen. Hillary Clinton took a swipe at her daughter’s profession today at an economic roundtable discussion at a restaurant in Parma, Ohio, suggesting wealthy investment bankers and hedge fund managers on Wall Street aren’t doing real ‘work.’

The former first lady’s daughter, Chelsea Clinton, works for New York-based hedge fund Avenue Capital Group. She previously worked in New York for McKinsey & Company, her first job after graduating with her master’s degree from Oxford University.

“We also have to reward work more,” Clinton told a small group of Ohio residents today. “and by that, I mean, I have people in New York working on Wall Street as investment managers, as hedge fund executives. Under the tax code, they can pay a lower percentage of their income in taxes on $50 million dollars, than a teacher, or a nurse, or a truck driver in Parma pays on $50,000. That’s very discouraging to people.”

You just feel like, ‘wait a minute. I’m working as hard as I can.’ All those people you see in your law office. They’re working as hard as they can and they feel like they’re just getting further and further behind,” Clinton said.

It’s not the first time Clinton has taken a swipe against her daughter’s profession. Campaigning in Wisconsin yesterday, Clinton railed against hedge funds as Chelsea sat off to the side.

“I saw a sign over here – someone has a t-shirt on, tax hedge fund dealers,” Clinton said Monday, “well in this economy we are going to have a fair tax system again. A Wall Street investment manager, a hedge fund dealer, should not pay a lower percentage of taxes on his 50 million dollars worth of income.”

In 2006, Chelsea scolded her mother for telling an audience that young people “think work is a four-letter word.” Clinton said daughter Chelsea called her to complain, arguing she does work hard and her friends work hard. Clinton later said she apologized to her daughter.

The line about investment fund and hedge fund managers has been introduced into Clinton’s talking points as she campaigns across the economically struggling state of Ohio.  Clinton is focusing her campaign on the delegate-rich states of Ohio and Texas voting March 4.”

(WHILE I’M GOING TO BE 83 NEXT MONTH ON JULY 3,  I STILL HAVE MY PURPLE T-SHIRT THAT SAYS “TAX HEDGE FUND DEALERS!” ON IT AND I STILL WRITE A MONTHLY LETTER IN OUR LOCAL PAPER, THE MONROE TIMES.  SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS IS STILL WARNING OUR LEGISLATORS THE DANGER IN DEREGULATING THE FIVE, BIG INVESTMENT BANKS AND GETTING RID OF THE DODD-FRANK BILL.  IN FACT, HE ALMOST BEAT HILLARY CLINTON ON THAT ISSUE OF THE DANGER OF THE BIG INVESTMENT BANKS CREATING A MONOPOLY AND THE FACT THAT THEY SHOULD BE BROKEN UP AND REINSTATE THE GLASS-STEAGALL ACT WHICH DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT PASSED IN 1933.  IF THE DEMOCRATS ARE GOING TO REGAIN CONGRESS, THEY ARE GOING TO HAVE TO TALK ABOUT REAL ISSUES LED BY A MUCH-MORE ACTIVE FULL TIME DNC CHAIRMAN  BECAUSE UP TO NOW, I’VE ONLY SEEN HIM ONCE ON SUNDAY MORNING TV.

LaVern Isely, Progressive, Overtaxed, Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen Member and USAF Veteran

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Politicus.com: Republicans Are Preparing For Defeat By Trying To Distance Trump From Trumpcare

The following is an excellent article written by Jason Easley on the Politicus.com website on June 21, 2017 titled “Republicans Are Preparing For Defeat By Trying To Distance Trump From Trumpcare” and I quote:

“Republicans Are Preparing For Defeat By Trying To Distance Trump From Trumpcare”

Republicans are trying to insulate Donald Trump from the potential failure of the health care bill in the Senate by keeping the President far away from the legislation.

Republicans Are Preparing For Defeat By Trying To Distance Trump From Trumpcare

Republicans are trying to insulate Donald Trump from the potential failure of the health care bill in the Senate by keeping the President far away from the legislation.

CNN reported:
But White House top aides also see the distance as a way to inoculate Trump from considerable blame if the bill fails, a nod to the President’s low approval rating and waning political capital.

“No one knows the Senate better than McConnell,” one White House official said when asked about Trump’s involvement, an acknowledgment that he is taking the lead.
A Republican Senate aide agreed.

“This is a leadership bill, sink or swim. All credit and all blame stays in the Senate,” the aide said, adding this political reality: “This gives the President cover, in a sense, if it fails.”

Check out Sarah Jones and Jason Easley discussing Trumpcare:

https://widget.spreaker.com/player?episode_id=12176842&theme=light&playlist=false&playlist-continuous=true&playlist-loop=false&playlist-autoupdate=true&autoplay=false&live-autoplay=false&chapters-image=true&cover_image_url=https://d3wo5wojvuv7l.cloudfront.net/images.spreaker.com/original/f19470fd3ba7220b8ae170109e15dab0.jpg

Part of the reason why Republicans are keeping Trump away from the health care bill is that he will say or do something to screw it up, but from the White House point of view, if this bill crashes and burns, the failure will be on Mitch McConnell.

Democrats are close to defeating Trumpcare, and the fact that the White House is taking steps to distance the President from this potential stinkbomb is the reason why Democrats need to turn up the heat and kill this bill.”

(THE REPUBLICAN-CONTROLLED SENATE IS JUST TAKING ORDERS FROM REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP–‘GET THE TRUMPCARE HEALTHCARE BILL THROUGH ANY WAY YOU CAN.  MY RATINGS ARE FALLING AND I’M GOING TO HAVE TO GET THEM UP, EVEN THOUGH THE LOWER 50% WILL PAY A HUGE PRICE FOR IT.’  CALL YOUR LEGISLATORS AND TELL THEM WE WANT TO KEEP OBAMACARE.  IT’S STILL BETTER THAN WHAT THE REPUBLICANS HAD IN THE PAST WHICH WAS CONSIDERED THE DONUT HOLE AND WHAT I HEAR WHAT THEIR NEW BILL WILL BE A BIGGER DONUT HOLE.

LaVern Isely, Progressive, Overtaxed, Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen Member and USAF Veteran

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Politicus.com: Democrats Are Shutting Down The Senate As First Step Announced To Block Health Care Bill

The following is an excellent article written by Jason Easley on the Politicus.com website on June 19, 2017 titled “Democrats Are Shutting Down The Senate As First Step Announced To Block Health Care Bill” and I quote:

“Democrats Are Shutting Down The Senate As First Step Announced To Block Health Care Bill”

Democrats have announced their first steps in blocking the secret Republican health care bill, and they including slowing the Senate to a crawl and trying to force a vote on the House-passed Trumpcare bill.

Democrats Are Shutting Down The Senate As First Step Announced To Block Health Care Bill

Democrats have announced their first steps in blocking the secret Republican health care bill, and they including slowing the Senate to a crawl and trying to force a vote on the House-passed Trumpcare bill.

Via Greg Sargent of The Washington Post:

By blocking all unanimous requests by Republicans, trying to force a vote on the unpopular House passed Trumpcare bill, and forcing debate to go late into the night with speeches, Democrats are going to do everything that they can to prevent Mitch McConnell from getting a vote on his secret healthcare bill before his self-imposed 4th of July recess deadline. The reason why McConnell wants the vote before the holiday is to avoid Republicans having to confront angry constituents over the break.

McConnell also wants to get healthcare out of the way, so that he can move on to tax cuts.

Democrats are standing up, and aren’t going to let Republicans roll their secret health care bill through the legislative process without a fight.

The message is clear. If Republicans want to get a healthcare bill through the Senate, they are going to have to make the bill public, and hold hearings. Anything less is going to hit a Democratic brick wall.”

(This is not the way the Republican Party should run the Senate. This is shameful. They blame Pres Obama for not having more hearings but his healthcare bill took over a year to pass. Now, the Republicans are hoping to sneak it through in two months.  Not even Republicans in the Senate know what is in the health care bill.  This is no way to pass a health care bill that is supposed to cover ALL THE PEOPLE.  Seems like there is a not of lying going on.  I hope the Democrats stand pat and all vote AGAINST THE BILL.  And I hope the Republicans get a lot of phone calls telling them they should keep Obamacare.

LaVern Isely, Progressive, Overtaxed, Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen Member and USAF Veteran

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New York Times: Mr. Trump’s Dangerous Indifference to Russia

The following is an excellent article written by the Editorial Board of the New York Times on June 17, 2017 titled “Mr. Trump’s Dangerous Indifference to Russia” and I quote:

“Mr. Trump’s Dangerous Indifference to Russia”

Erik Carter

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

A rival foreign power launched an aggressive cyberattack on the United States, interfering with the 2016 presidential election and leaving every indication that it’s coming back for more — but President Trump doesn’t seem to care.

The unprecedented nature of Russia’s attack is getting lost in the swirling chaos of recent weeks, but it shouldn’t be. American intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia took direct aim at the integrity of American democracy, and yet after almost five months in office, the commander in chief appears unconcerned with that threat to our national security. The only aspect of the Russia story that attracts his attention is the threat it poses to the perceived legitimacy of his electoral win.

If not for the continuing investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians — and whether Mr. Trump himself has obstructed that investigation — the president’s indifference would be front-page news.

So let’s take a moment to recall the sheer scope and audacity of the Russian efforts.

Under direct orders from President Vladimir Putin, hackers connected to Russian military intelligence broke into the email accounts of senior officials at the Democratic National Committee and of Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta. They passed tens of thousands of emails to the website WikiLeaks, which posted them throughout the last months of the campaign in an attempt to damage the Clinton campaign.

Even more disturbing, hackers sought access to voter databases in at least 39 states, and in some cases tried to alter or delete voter data. They also appear to have tried to take over the computers of more than 100 local election officials in the days before the Nov. 8 vote.

There is no evidence that these efforts affected the outcome of the election. But that’s beside the point. The Russians have engaged in behavior like this in other countries, and they’re getting better at it. An American presidential election may be their biggest target to date, but it’s hardly their first. In the last decade they have hacked computer networks in Estonia, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, France, and Bulgaria — often stealing data. They have disseminated fake news stories and other disinformation to interfere with elections in other countries, as they did here.

It’s a global threat, and serious people treat it that way. In December, President Barack Obama responded by punishing Mr. Putin with a new round of sanctions, expelling dozens of suspected Russian intelligence operatives and barring access to estates they used for intelligence activities. On June 14, the Senate voted 97 to 2 to block Mr. Trump from lifting those sanctions unilaterally. Meanwhile, a majority of Americans accept the intelligence community’s consensus that Russia interfered with the election.

Yet Mr. Trump has been dismissive at best. As a candidate, he encouraged Russian hackers to find thousands of emails that he said Mrs. Clinton had illegally deleted. His response as president-elect to the reports that Russia had attempted to swing the election in his favor was to challenge the intelligence community’s credibility and say it was time “to move on.”

Even after taking office, he has remained skeptical. In a phone call with the director of the National Security Agency, Adm. Michael Rogers, he “questioned the veracity” of the finding of Russian interference, according to The Wall Street Journal.

When James Comey, the former F.B.I. director whom Mr. Trump fired in May, was asked during his Senate testimony this month whether President Trump had ever inquired about the interference campaign itself — as opposed to how the investigation into it might affect him personally — he said, “No.”

In other words, to the extent that Mr. Trump countenances the idea of a Russian attack, he seems to regard it as all about him. The “obsession” with it, he claims, is driven by Democrats upset over losing an election they expected to win.

This is demonstrably false. It also ignores the true threat. As Mr. Comey said of the attack: “It’s not a Republican thing or Democratic thing. It really is an American thing. They’re going to come for whatever party they choose to try and work on behalf of. And they’re not devoted to either, in my experience. They’re just about their own advantage. And they will be back.”

Even if the investigations find no evidence that Mr. Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russians, the president’s refusal to accept the truth about this attack on our democracy denies reality and leaves the country vulnerable to more damaging attacks. The true obsession is Mr. Trump’s, with his own brand, and it’s distracting him from his most important duty — to protect the nation.”

(COMMUNIST RUSSIA’S LEADER, VLADIMIR PUTIN, ALONG WITH HELP FROM WIKILEAKS, CONTROLLED THE MEDIA SOURCES SO WELL THAT THE VOTER DECIDED THAT REPUBLICAN DONALD TRUMP WAS MORE HONEST THAN DEMOCRAT HILLARY CLINTON, EVEN THOUGH HILLARY CLINTON TESTIFIED IN FRONT OF CONGRESS 7 TIMES CONCERNING THE BENGHAZI ATTACK.  NOW, IF SPECIAL PROSECUTOR, ROBERT MUELLER, COULD GET REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP TO TESTIFY EVEN ONCE CONCERNING THE TRUMP-RUSSIA CONNECTION, YOU WOULD PROBABLY GET ANSWERS TO SOME TROUBLING QUESTIONS.  YOU CAN EASY SEE WHY PRES TRUMP IS BLAMING THE NEW YORK TIMES AND THE WASHINGTON POST FOR SO-CALLED FAKE NEWS.  DONALD BELIEVES HIS TWEETS ARE ABOVE REPROACH, EVEN THOUGH THEY DO CONTRADICT THEMSELVES FROM DAY TO DAY.

LaVern Isely, Progressive, Overtaxed, Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen Member and USAF Veteran

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Bloomberg Businessweek: Mueller’s Dream Team Gears Up

The following is an excellent article written by Tom Schoenberg and David Voreacos in the June 19, 2017 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek on page 46 titled “Mueller’s Dream Team Gears Up” and I quote:

“Mueller’s Dream Team Gears Up”

He’s hiring veteran lawyers to probe Russian collusion and possible obstruction of justice.
June 14, 2017, 10:54 PM CDT
Former FBI Director Robert Mueller.

Photographer: Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

In his Senate testimony on June 8, fired FBI Director James Comey was asked whether Donald Trump obstructed justice by pressuring him to drop an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Comey, as he did many times during the hearing, referred senators to Robert Mueller, the former FBI director and current special counsel, saying it was now his job to sort it all out.

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As special counsel, Mueller is investigating any links or coordination between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. He is vested with a unique set of powers, the extent of which won’t be clear until he attempts to exercise them. Mueller has the traditional tools of a federal prosecutor: He can issue subpoenas, pull people in front of grand juries, and bring criminal charges. In theory, he can interrogate the president, though it’s unclear whether Trump would willingly submit. Mueller can also seek to expand his probe beyond the original mandate into places he believes are relevant.

To that end, the special counsel is a repository for all things Russia, taking relevant information from congressional testimony and filtering through all the political noise, including Trump tweets or rumors of his own dismissal. Friends of the president have said Mueller is at risk of being fired by Trump—a claim denied by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who gave Mueller the job on May 17.

Mueller inherited months of work already under way at the FBI, including criminal investigations of Flynn and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Over the past month he has set up shop in a federal office building in downtown Washington and begun assembling a team of investigators. Some of them worked for him during his 12-year tenure running the FBI; others he met more recently while a partner at the Washington law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr LLP. Some estimate that Mueller will need 50 to 100 lawyers and investigators, comparable to the staffing of the Watergate congressional committee and the Sept. 11 Commission. Rosenstein, who controls Mueller’s budget, says he’ll have the resources he needs.

Photographer: From left: Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post/Getty Images; NYU Photo Bureau: Gallo; Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe/Getty Images; Diego M. Radzinschi/The National Law Journal; Bloomberg; Courtesy Wilmerhale

Mueller has his pick of some of the top lawyers in the country. “If you’re a prosecutor, this is what you dream of—getting on a case like this,” says Peter Zeidenberg, who prosecuted I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff.

Among the most notable of Mueller’s early hires is Michael Dreeben, who’s argued more than 100 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and is considered an expert on whether the president can legally keep his staff communications secret. Another is Andrew Weissmann, former head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s fraud unit. Aaron Zebley has spent years in proximity to Mueller, most recently at WilmerHale and before that as his chief of staff at the FBI. Zebley worked as a national security prosecutor in Virginia, where at least one of the Russia-related cases was based. He was also the lead FBI agent in the case against a key Sept. 11 conspirator.

“This is an incredibly intelligent, tenacious, and thorough team,” says Tom Hanusik, a former  prosecutor on the Enron Task Force. “Regardless of your political persuasion, if you’re interested in having this resolved, you should be heartened by this kind of team.” Trump allies have already questioned the independence of some of Mueller’s investigators over their political donations to Democrats.

Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, is having trouble persuading people to join his defense team, according to two people familiar with his efforts. Instead, Kasowitz is leaning on his longtime partner, Michael Bowe, a prominent litigator. He also signed up Jay Sekulow, chief counsel to the conservative American Center for Law and Justice, who was dispatched to cable news shows to attack Comey’s credibility. Trump also assailed Comey’s testimony, saying he’d be willing to testify that he didn’t demand a pledge of personal loyalty from him.

Mueller is more likely to focus first on Trump associates such as Flynn. “A core strategy would be to find out everything that Michael Flynn knows about Russia and the campaign,” says Kendall Coffey, a former prosecutor in Miami. Yet those associates also have legal teams for Mueller to contend with. Flynn is represented by Robert Kelner, a partner at Covington & Burling LLP, which boasts a bench of two dozen ex-prosecutors. Jared Kushner is represented by Jamie Gorelick, a former deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration, now at WilmerHale, Mueller’s old firm. Manafort is represented by Reginald Brown, also of WilmerHale.

Adding to the intrigue are congressional probes, which can advance or complicate Mueller’s work. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a June 13 Senate hearing refused to say whether Russia came up in discussions with Trump about firing Comey—­asserting his right to keep secret his conversations with the president. “It’s ­multidimensional chess,” says Robert Buschel, a Miami lawyer who represents Roger Stone, a Trump associate. “Anything you say in the House and Senate can be used by the Justice Department, which has criminal goals. You want to protect your clients’ freedom first, and then their reputation and job.”

BOTTOM LINE – As special counsel, Robert Mueller has a unique set of investigative powers, which will be tested as his probe into potential Russian collusion unfolds.”
(IF SPECIAL COUNSEL, ROBERT MUELLER’ DREAM TEAM CAN FIGURE OUT WHERE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP HAS BORROWED ALL HIS MONEY FROM AND THE AMOUNT, THEY WILL SOUND FIND OUT WHY HE WON’T SHOW HIS FEDERAL INCOME TAX RETURNS AND HAS GONE BANKRUPT SIX TIMES.  PRESIDENT TRUMP IS ACTING LIKE A LOAN SHARK LIKE IN A BOOK I’VE BEEN READING WRITTEN BY CHARLES R. GEISST TITLED “LOAN SHARKS: THE BIRTH OF PREDATORY LENDING.”
LaVern Isely, Progressive, Overtaxed, Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen Member and USAF Veteran
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