Category Archives: IOKIYAR

#TaxCuts & Deregulation: How Did Your #AZHouse Rep Vote?

Arizona House

Speaker J.D. Mesnard visits the desks of Republican members who have not voted yet.

The volume of bills heard in the Arizona House this past week was down significantly from the crossover week flurry, but we still voted on some doozies.

Tax cuts, sales tax giveaways, deregulation on the edge of risky business, “efficiency savings,” and miscellaneous wacky bills abound.

The capital gains tax cut, which benefited only the wealthiest Arizonans, was a party line vote, with all of the Republicans voting for tax cuts for the 1%. Other than that, the tax giveaways have passed with bipartisan support and bipartisan opposition. Votes shift here and there depending upon the cost of the tax giveaway and the stated beneficiary, but the most consistent votes against giving away taxes are cast by Progressives and Libertarians– the same people who killed several tax giveaway bills in 2017. Several of these votes can be seen below the fold and in my Marijuana to Bump Stocks to Tax Giveaways: How did your #AZHouse Rep Vote? blog post from last week.

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‘The Kush’ has to go – drain the swamp of corruption (Updated)

The “Secretary of Everything” in the Trump administration, son-in-law Jared Kushner, is having a really bad week.

Jared had his security clearance pulled by Chief of Staff General John Kelly because he has not been able to pass a FBI background check after more than a year, because Jared has not been forthcoming about his foreign contacts and business dealings on his SF-86 form. For anyone else, that gets you terminated and/or prosecuted for lying on the SF-86 form.

“Officials in at least four countries have privately discussed ways they can manipulate Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, by taking advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with intelligence reports on the matter.” Kushner’s overseas contacts raise concerns as foreign officials seek leverage.

We previously learned that Jared was negotiating financing for his business interests during the transition. Mueller Eyes Kushner’s Pursuit of Foreign Financing:

During the transition period, Kushner (reportedly) met with the chairman of the Chinese firm Anbang Insurance, in hopes of securing a $400 million investment in his family’s flagship property at 666 Fifth Avenue. Meanwhile, his company also (reportedly) sought $500 million in capital from the former prime minister of Qatar for the same project.

And let’s not forget that Jared asked the Russian ambassador for a “back channel” to Moscow to avoid detection by the U.S. intelligence agencies during the transition. Russian ambassador told Moscow that Kushner wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin.

‘The Kush’ is a whole bucket full of red flags of national security risks. He should have been gone a long time ago.

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The Trump Black(mail) House

By Michael Bryan

If Donald Trump is not someone who is being actively blackmailed by Russia, he sure acts remarkably like someone who is being actively blackmailed by Russia.

We know that Russia is a notoriously good blackmailer: their kompromat systems are finely tuned and effective. To successfully blackmail people two things are needed; a reason to blackmail someone (something you want them to do) and information with which to blackmail them (usually a financial or sexual impropriety).

Consider the case of Russia vis-a-vis Donald Trump — as President, Trump has many things Russia would want: control of the American foreign policy and national security apparatus chief among them. Russia is rumored to have information of a sexually compromising nature about Trump (see the Steele Dossier re the so-called “pee pee tape”), but much more damaging, I think, they are in a position to have a great deal of compromising financial information on Trump. The Trumps have admitted that they have gotten a great deal of funding for their projects from Russia over the past decade. Trump is notoriously lax about due diligence in his foreign deals and the Russians and others have likely used the Trump organization to launder money on a massive scale. They also are very likely to have access to financial statements and tax records that could be embarrassing to Trump by virtue of their influence over Trump partners in the former Soviet bloc.

So, Russia clearly has motive and means to blackmail Trump. Is there evidence in Trump’s behavior that he is actively being compromised by blackmail?

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The White House is stonewalling the Trump-Russia investigations (Updated)

A highly anticipated House Intelligence Committee interview with Stephen Bannon has been postponed until next week the committee said on Tuesday, as negotiations continue over the terms of his appearance. Bannon’s House Intel testimony postponed:

Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, was expected to skip his scheduled appearance Tuesday before the House Intelligence Committee, according to sources familiar with his plans. The move sets the stage for a showdown with lawmakers who had issued a bipartisan subpoena for his testimony.

“This is unacceptable, and the Committee remains united on this matter — the Committee’s subpoena remains in effect and his interview has been rescheduled for next week. Testifying before the Special Counsel does not obviate Mr. Bannon’s obligations under the subpoena issued by the Committee,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, the committee’s ranking Democrat said on Tuesday in a statement. “Should Bannon maintain his refusal to return and testify fully to all questions, the Committee should begin contempt proceedings to compel his testimony.”

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Delusional Trump says he is ‘vindicated,’ prosecutor says the ‘Nunes Memo’ is more proof of obstruction of justice

There has been a great deal of discussion by mental health professionals over the past year about the mental health of Donald J. Trump. See for example, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President. Numerous individuals have called for invoking the 25th Amendment because the president is mentally unfit to govern.

This tweet demonstrates that Trump certainly is delusional: A delusion is an unshakable belief in something untrue. These irrational beliefs defy normal reasoning, and remain firm even when overwhelming proof is presented to dispute them. Delusions are often accompanied by … feelings of paranoia, which act to strengthen confidence in the delusion.

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Trump tweets, and the media dutifully reports it as if it is “news” rather than merely the ravings of a delusional man. Trump Says Republican Memo ‘Totally Vindicates’ Him:

The memo, while trying to paint the origins of the Russia investigation as tainted, did nothing to clear Mr. Trump of either collusion or obstruction — the lines of inquiry being pursued by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.

The memo in fact undermined Republicans’ efforts to cast doubt on the roots of the investigation by confirming that the inquiry was already underway when law enforcement officials obtained a warrant from a secret intelligence court to conduct surveillance on Mr. Page.

The Republican document, which Democrats dismissed as containing cherry-picked information and focusing on an obscure figure in the Trump campaign, confirms that a primary factor in the opening of the investigationin July 2016 was initial contacts between a former Trump foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, and Russian intermediaries.

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House Judiciary Committee Democrats respond to ‘Nunes Memo’

House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Democratic Members of the House Judiciary Committee issued a joint statement on Saturday. Judiciary Democrats: Republicans Are Complicit in Efforts to Obstruct Justice with Release of Nunes Memo:

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Democratic Members of the House Judiciary Committee, issued a joint statement following the release of the “Nunes memo,” a set of misleading talking points drafted by the Republican staff of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in an attempt to discredit the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation:

“President Trump’s decision to allow the release of Chairman Nunes’ Republican talking points is part of a coordinated propaganda effort to discredit, disable and defeat the Russia investigation.  House Republicans are now accomplices to a shocking campaign to obstruct the work of the Special Counsel, to undermine the credibility and legitimacy of the Justice Department and the FBI, and to bury the fact that a foreign adversary interfered with our last election.

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