Swamp Watch News

The Off-Topic forum for anything non-LDS related, such as sports or politics. Rated G through PG-13.
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canpakes
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Re: Swamp Watch News

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Hey, let's ignore competent, experienced folks when selecting for important Administration positions, and instead hire loyalist college students for staff. ; )

The White House has hired a third college senior to be an administration official in a sensitive post, according to four people familiar with the matter.

As some prominent Democrats call for the military to help out more with the response to the coronavirus crisis, John Troup Hemenway has been temporarily hired on a 30-day detail to help the deputy director of the Presidential Personnel Office, Michael Burley, with paperwork for Defense Department political appointees, according to one of the people. Hemenway is expected to graduate from the University of Virginia in December 2020.

Hemenway, who is in his 20s and started last week, is the third college senior to be hired in short order by the White House. One administration official praised him by saying he’s “really good at what he does.”

James Bacon, 23 and a senior at George Washington University, was hired to be one of McEntee’s righthand men as he tries to fill the Trump administration with loyalists and fire anyone who they suspect of disloyalty.

Anthony Labruna, who is expected to graduate from Iowa State University in early May but was dismissed from the Trump campaign in February, was also recently named deputy White House liaison at the Department of Commerce.

Hemenway, who worked on the Trump campaign in 2016, got his start in the Trump administration when he was on the “beachhead” transition team at the Department of Defense and then worked in DoD’s White House liasion’s office, according to an administration official. At various points during his time in the Defense Department, Hemenway has also been working to finish his degree, according to two administration officials. He has also worked for Michael Griffin, DOD’s under secretary of defense for research and engineering. Hemenway didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Some officials see the hiring of Dans -- a lawyer who previously worked in New York and recently started at the agency, according to two people familiar with the matter -- as yet another affront. The job of White House liaison generally entails matching qualified people with political vacancies at an agency and moving appointees in and out of positions when needed.

Dans has “clearly come with some kind of agenda,” said a person familiar with his hiring, who noted that Dans doesn’t appear to have much of a background in Title 5 of the U.S. code, which deals with how the government is organized and how the federal civil service operates. Dans didn’t respond to a request for comment.

In his first weeks on the job, Dans has been meeting with various program offices to try to get a handle on what they all do. He previously was at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where he was senior adviser in the Office of Community Planning & Development.

Dans began his legal career as an associate at two New York City white-shoe law firms LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae and Debevoise & Plimpton. The American Lawyer reported that when he was working at a lesser-known law firm in 2009, he didn’t get a partnership, which led him to be offered work for the small Miami law firm Rivero Mestre to help out a lawyer for Chevron who had been indicted by Ecuador with a conspiracy to violate environmental rules. Once there, he played a significant role in the legal strategy of the Chevron Ecuador case, which was one of the biggest civil litigations in history.

Dans is married to Mary Helen Bowers, a former New York City ballet dancer who has also trained celebrities like Natalie Portman in “Black Swan” and other clients like Zooey Deschanel, Kirsten Dunst and Miranda Kerr.

Dans is still going through the suitability background check but already is making some people nervous in his new agency, according to the person familiar with Dans’ hiring.

“He’s upsetting all kinds of apple carts without any basis of knowledge,” this person said.


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subgenius
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Re: Swamp Watch News

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canpakes wrote:Hey, let's ignore competent, experienced folks when selecting for important Administration positions, and instead hire loyalist college students for staff. ; )

I had to double check your post date because of the obvious time warp experienced when I discovered you were not posting about Raj Fernando.
Love your newfound outrage and how its partisan aroma billows forth from the feu de cheveux.
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canpakes
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Re: Swamp Watch News

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subgenius wrote:
canpakes wrote:Hey, let's ignore competent, experienced folks when selecting for important Administration positions, and instead hire loyalist college students for staff. ; )

I had to double check your post date because of the obvious time warp experienced when I discovered you were not posting about Raj Fernando.
Love your newfound outrage and how its partisan aroma billows forth from the feu de cheveux.

You’re confusing my skeptical humor for your conspiratorial outrage. Not surprising, considering your usual problems with the language. : D

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canpakes
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Re: Swamp Watch News

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Soon after he offered public assurances that the government was ready to battle the coronavirus, the powerful chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, sold off a significant percentage of his stocks, unloading between $628,000 and $1.72 million of his holdings on Feb. 13 in 33 separate transactions.

As the head of the intelligence committee, Burr, a North Carolina Republican, has access to the government’s most highly classified information about threats to America’s security. His committee was receiving daily coronavirus briefings around this time, according to a Reuters story.

A week after Burr’s sales, the stock market began a sharp decline and has lost about 30% since.

On Thursday, Burr came under fire after NPR obtained a secret recording from Feb. 27, in which the lawmaker gave a VIP group at an exclusive social club a much more dire preview of the economic impact of the coronavirus than what he had told the public.

“Senator Burr filed a financial disclosure form for personal transactions made several weeks before the U.S. and financial markets showed signs of volatility due to the growing coronavirus outbreak,” his spokesperson said. “As the situation continues to evolve daily, he has been deeply concerned by the steep and sudden toll this pandemic is taking on our economy.”

Burr is not a particularly wealthy member of the Senate: Roll Call estimated his net worth at $1.7 million in 2018, indicating that the February sales significantly shaped his financial fortunes and spared him from some of the pain that many Americans are now facing.

He was one of the authors of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act, which shapes the nation’s response to public health threats like the coronavirus. Burr’s office did not respond to requests for comment about what sort of briefing materials, if any, on the coronavirus threat Burr may have seen as chair of the intelligence committee before his selling spree.

According to the NPR report, Burr told attendees of the luncheon held at the Capitol Hill Club: “There’s one thing that I can tell you about this: It is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history ... It is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic.”

He warned that companies might have to curtail their employees’ travel, that schools could close and that the military might be mobilized to compensate for overwhelmed hospitals.

The luncheon was organized by the Tar Heel Circle, a club for businesses and organizations in North Carolina that are charged up to $10,000 for membership and are promised “interaction with top leaders and staff from Congress, the administration, and the private sector.”

Burr’s public comments had been considerably less dire. In a Feb. 7 op-ed that he co-authored with another senator, he assured the public that “the United States today is better prepared than ever before to face emerging public health threats, like the coronavirus.” He wrote, “No matter the outbreak or threat, Congress and the federal government have been vigilant in identifying gaps in its readiness efforts and improving its response capabilities.”

Members of Congress are required by law to disclose their securities transactions.

Burr was one of just three senators who in 2012 opposed the bill that explicitly barred lawmakers and their staff from using nonpublic information for trades and required regular disclosure of those trades.
Last edited by canpakes on Thu Mar 26, 2020 11:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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MeDotOrg
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Re: Swamp Watch News

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canpakes: "Burr was one of just three senators who in 2012 opposed the bill that explicitly barred lawmakers and their staff from using nonpublic information for trades and required regular disclosure of those trades."

Gee...can't imagine why...
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canpakes
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Re: Swamp Watch News

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Remember when Republicans were always complaining about Obama’s occasional golf games? Now that we have a Republican that golfs more often, and who pockets taxpayer money when he does - even in the midst of a pandemic - it’s all good. :wink:
The Secret Service this week signed a $45,000 contract to rent a fleet of golf carts in Northern Virginia, saying it needed them quickly to protect a “dignitary” in the town of Sterling, home to one of President Trump’s golf clubs, according to federal contracting data.

The contract was signed Monday and took effect Wednesday, records show. The Secret Service paid a West Virginia-registered company, Capitol Golf Cars and Utility Vehicles, to rent 30 carts until the end of September.

The new contract, which the Secret Service described as an “emergency order,” does not mention Trump or the golf club by name. But it closely mirrors past contracts signed by the Secret Service, for agents accompanying Trump to his golf clubs in New Jersey and Florida.

The White House declined to comment Wednesday. Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, did not respond to questions.

Secret Service spokeswoman Cathy Milhoan said in a statement that she could not comment about Trump’s schedule or travel. She said the “emergency” referred to in the document was not a security emergency: “Rather, the term was used to signal a need for expedited handling of the procurement due to deadlines within the agency’s business processes.”

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Re: Swamp Watch News

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“BREAKING: The real story is finally coming out about why there's no coronavirus testing in the US. The Trump administration tried to give a huge sweetheart deal to a health insurance company connected to his son-in-law Jared Kushner. The company promised it could perform millions of tests at testing centers nationwide. But the company currently has only two testing sites that are functioning. Even as the COVID pandemic escalated, Trump's only priority was giving his family huge federal contracts.

The price for the Trump family's greed will be millions infected with coronavirus, hundreds of thousands of deaths, and the worst economic crisis in history. And as usual with anything Trump touches, we will go bankrupt while he and his family walk away with our money.”

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/ar ... gai-YHndSI

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canpakes
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Re: Swamp Watch News

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Related to the post immediately prior - and in the spirit of swampy nepotism:
Reporting on the White House’s herky-jerky coronavirus response, Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman has a quotation from Jared Kushner that should make all Americans, and particularly all New Yorkers, dizzy with terror.

According to Sherman, when New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, said that the state would need 30,000 ventilators at the apex of the coronavirus outbreak, Kushner decided that Cuomo was being alarmist. “I have all this data about I.C.U. capacity,” Kushner reportedly said. “I’m doing my own projections, and I’ve gotten a lot smarter about this. New York doesn’t need all the ventilators.” (Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top expert on infectious diseases, has said he trusts Cuomo’s estimate.)

Even now, it’s hard to believe that someone with as little expertise as Kushner could be so arrogant, but he said something similar on Thursday, when he made his debut at the White House’s daily coronavirus briefing: “People who have requests for different products and supplies, a lot of them are doing it based on projections which are not the realistic projections.”

Kushner has succeeded at exactly three things in his life. He was born to the right parents, married well and learned how to influence his father-in-law. Most of his other endeavors — his biggest real estate deal, his foray into newspaper ownership, his attempt to broker a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians — have been failures.

Undeterred, he has now arrogated to himself a major role in fighting the epochal health crisis that’s brought America to its knees. “Behind the scenes, Kushner takes charge of coronavirus response,” said a Politico headline on Wednesday. This is dilettantism raised to the level of sociopathy.

The journalist Andrea Bernstein looked closely at Kushner’s business record for her recent book “American Oligarchs: The Kushners, the Trumps, and the Marriage of Money and Power,” speaking to people on all sides of his real estate deals as well as those who worked with him at The New York Observer, the weekly newspaper he bought in 2006.

Kushner, Bernstein told me, “really sees himself as a disrupter.” Again and again, she said, people who’d dealt with Kushner told her that whatever he did, he “believed he could do it better than anybody else, and he had supreme confidence in his own abilities and his own judgment even when he didn’t know what he was talking about.”

It’s hard to overstate the extent to which this confidence is unearned. Kushner was a reportedly mediocre student whose billionaire father appears to have bought him a place at Harvard. Taking over the family real estate company after his father was sent to prison, Kushner paid $1.8 billion — a record, at the time — for a Manhattan skyscraper at the very top of the real estate market in 2007. The debt from that project became a crushing burden for the family business. (Kushner was able to restructure the debt in 2011, and in 2018 the project was bailed out by a Canadian asset management company with links to the government of Qatar.) He gutted the once-great New York Observer, then made a failed attempt to create a national network of local politics websites.

His forays into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — for which he boasted of reading a whole 25 books — have left the dream of a two-state solution on life support. Michael Koplow of the centrist Israel Policy Forum described Kushner’s plan for the Palestinian economy as “the Monty Python version of Israeli-Palestinian peace.”

Now, in our hour of existential horror, Kushner is making life-or-death decisions for all Americans, showing all the wisdom we’ve come to expect from him.

“Mr. Kushner’s early involvement with dealing with the virus was in advising the president that the media’s coverage exaggerated the threat,” reported The Times. It was apparently at Kushner’s urging that Trump announced, falsely, that Google was about to launch a website that would link Americans with coronavirus testing. (As The Atlantic reported, a health insurance company co-founded by Kushner’s brother — which Kushner once owned a stake in — tried to build such a site, before the project was “suddenly and mysteriously scrapped.”)

The president was reportedly furious over the website debacle, but Kushner’s authority hasn’t been curbed. Politico reported that Kushner, “alongside a kitchen cabinet of outside experts including his former roommate and a suite of McKinsey consultants, has taken charge of the most important challenges facing the federal government,” including the production and distribution of medical supplies and the expansion of testing. Kushner has embedded his own people in the Federal Emergency Management Agency; a senior official described them to The Times as “a ‘frat party’ that descended from a U.F.O. and invaded the federal government.”

Disaster response requires discipline and adherence to a clear chain of command, not the move-fast-and-break-things approach of start-up culture. Even if Kushner “were the most competent person in the world, which he clearly isn’t, introducing these kind of competing power centers into a crisis response structure is a guaranteed problem,” Jeremy Konyndyk, a former U.S.A.I.D. official who helped manage the response to the Ebola crisis during Barack Obama’s administration, told me. “So you could have Trump and Kushner and Pence and the governors all be the smartest people in the room, but if there are multiple competing power centers trying to drive this response, it’s still going to be chaos.”

Competing power centers are a motif of this administration, and its approach to the pandemic is no exception. As The Washington Post reported, Kushner’s team added “another layer of confusion and conflicting signals within the White House’s disjointed response to the crisis.” Nor does his operation appear to be internally coherent. “Projects are so decentralized that one team often has little idea what others are doing — outside of that they all report up to Kushner,” reported Politico.

On Thursday, Governor Cuomo said that New York would run out of ventilators in six days. Perhaps Kushner’s projections were incorrect. “I don’t think the federal government is in a position to provide ventilators to the extent the nation may need them,” Cuomo said. “Assume you are on your own in life.” If not in life, certainly in this administration.
I’m sure that Markk will be by shortly to tell all about the supposed danger of Hunter Biden, though. ; )

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canpakes
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Re: Swamp Watch News

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The Swamp must be protected from folks doing their job ...
Donald Trump has fired the intelligence community’s chief watchdog, Michael Atkinson, who was the first to sound the alarm to Congress last September about an “urgent” complaint he received from an intelligence official involving Trump’s communications with Ukraine’s president.

Atkinson's decision set in motion the congressional probe that culminated in Trump's impeachment and ultimate acquittal in a bruising political and legal drama that consumed Washington for months.

Trump formally notified the Senate and House Intelligence Committees of his intention to fire Atkinson, to take effect 30 days from Friday, according to two congressional officials and a copy of the letter obtained by POLITICO dated April 3.
“This is to advise that I am exercising my power as president to remove from office the inspector general of the intelligence community, effective 30 days from today,” the president wrote.

Trump said in the letter that he “no longer” has the fullest confidence in Atkinson. “As is the case with regard to other positions where I, as president, have the power of appointment, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, it is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as inspectors general,” he wrote. “That is no longer the case with regard to this inspector general.”

Trump added that he would be submitting a new nominee for the position to the Senate “at a later date.”

Democrats immediately blasted the move as an abuse of power at a dangerous time for the United States.

Sic et Non. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called Atkinson’s firing “unconscionable,” and accused the president of an ongoing effort to politicize intelligence.

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canpakes
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Re: Swamp Watch News

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Worth posting as a reminder about what real corruption and fraud look like...
President Trump’s older sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, has retired as a federal appellate judge, ending an investigation into whether she violated judicial conduct rules by participating in fraudulent tax schemes with her siblings.

The court inquiry stemmed from complaints filed last October, after an investigation by The New York Times found that the Trumps had engaged in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the inherited wealth of Mr. Trump and his siblings. Judge Barry not only benefited financially from most of those tax schemes, The Times found; she was also in a position to influence the actions taken by her family.

Judge Barry, now 82, has not heard cases in more than two years but was still listed as an inactive senior judge, one step short of full retirement. In a letter dated Feb. 1, a court official notified the four individuals who had filed the complaints that the investigation was “receiving the full attention” of a judicial conduct council. Ten days later, Judge Barry filed her retirement papers.

The status change rendered the investigation moot, since retired judges are not subject to the conduct rules. The people who filed the complaints were notified last week that the matter had been dropped without a finding on the merits of the allegations. The decision has not yet been made public, but copies were provided to The Times by two of the complainants. Both are involved in the legal profession.

Judge Barry did not respond to emails or telephone messages left at her Manhattan apartment.

Judicial council reviews can result in the censure or reprimand of federal judges, and in extremely rare cases, a referral to the House of Representatives for impeachment.

In retirement, Judge Barry is entitled to receive annually the salary she earned when she last met certain workload requirements. Though the exact figure was not immediately available, it appears to be between $184,500 and $217,600.

The Times investigation focused on how the profits and ownership of the real estate empire built by the president’s father, Fred C. Trump, were transferred to Donald J. Trump and his siblings, often in ways designed to dodge gift and estate taxes.

A lawyer for the president, Charles J. Harder, said last fall, “The New York Times’s allegations of fraud and tax evasion are 100 percent false, and highly defamatory.”

Judge Barry had been a co-owner of a shell company — All County Building Supply & Maintenance — created by the family to siphon cash from their father’s empire by marking up purchases already made by his employees, The Times investigation found. Judge Barry, her siblings and a cousin split the markup, free of gift and estate taxes, which at the time were levied at a much higher rate than income taxes.

(By the end of 1997, Donald Trump and his siblings owned nearly all of Fred Trump’s empire, free and clear of estate taxes. How did they do it? A special type of trust with a clunky acronym: GRAT, short for grantor-retained annuity trust.)

On a financial disclosure form filed in 1999, Judge Barry noted that her share of the All County profits for the previous 17 months totaled just over $1 million.

The family also used the padded invoices to justify higher rent increases in rent-regulated buildings, artificially inflating the rents of thousands of tenants. Former prosecutors told The Times that if the authorities had discovered at the time how the Trumps were using All County, their actions would have warranted a criminal investigation for defrauding tenants, tax fraud and filing false documents.

Similarly, Judge Barry benefited from the gross undervaluation of her father’s properties when she and her siblings took ownership of them through a trust, sparing them from paying tens of millions of dollars in taxes, The Times found. For years, she attended regular briefings at her brother’s offices in Trump Tower to hear updates on the real estate portfolio and to collect her share of the profits. When the siblings sold off their father’s empire, between 2004 and 2006, her share of the windfall was $182.5 million, The Times found.

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Re: Swamp Watch News

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The US has negotiated with Mexico to lower their oil production targets by agreeing to reimburse them for the shortfall of previous targets. This was to get buy-in from OPEC to lower oil production in order to raise oil prices on ordinary Americans in the middle of a Depression to help prop up administration-favored domestic petrochemical companies.

It's like it was scientifically designed to offend every aspect of what used to be conservative principles if only to prove that conservative principles aren't a thing that exists.

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Doctor CamNC4Me
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Re: Swamp Watch News

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I just saw a survey here in Utah that shows Biden and Trump neck and neck regarding the upcoming election. That's pretty interesting, for sure.

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Re: Swamp Watch News

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My understanding is the White House house has done a poor job overall supporting state governments, and even red states have been frustrated because aside from limited material help, they can't even get straight answers. Daily lying to advance the party line and the home team catches the wink is different than daily lying with immediate consequences, when the consequences also directly affect the home team.

During at least one whitehouse briefing where the lying went rampant, several TV networks cut transmission.

Whatever the failures of the federal government, capitalism has remained inventive, and from test kits that somewhat circumvent the FDA to state Governors collaborating with each other and governments collaborating with private business, is it possible that a true "shadow government" will arise that effectively circumvents the whitehouse?

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Doctor CamNC4Me
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Re: Swamp Watch News

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"When somebody is president of the United States, your authority is total," - Trump

Even the Right can see this a problem, no?

- Doc

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MeDotOrg
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Re: Swamp Watch News

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If Obama talked about having total authority, I'm sure Mike Pence would have been just as sanguine as he was today...right?

...by the way Doc, I think that virus is getting far too much face time. Everywhere you look you see the face of this virus. I'm afraid other viruses will see all the attention that SARS-CoV-2 is getting, and we might get some copycat viruses. ;-)

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canpakes
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Re: Swamp Watch News

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MeDotOrg wrote:
Mon Apr 13, 2020 11:33 pm
If Obama talked about having total authority, I'm sure Mike Pence would have been just as sanguine as he was today...right?
And just as obsequious, too. : D

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Doctor CamNC4Me
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Re: Swamp Watch News

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Good Lord this man is dumb:

[url=https://ibb.co/cLY3kvZ][img]https://i.ibb.co/M6BSZht/53-C124-FA-28- ... A26-EAllusion.jpg[/img][/url]

I bet you he didn’t know it was a book before the movie was made.

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Icarus
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Re: Swamp Watch News

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Imagine if Obama wanted our Socialist checks to be delayed so he could have his signature on them...

https://www.newsweek.com/stimulus-check ... 1586916057

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Doctor CamNC4Me
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The howling over that one would’ve been insane.

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canpakes
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Re: Swamp Watch News

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Time to deepen the swamp by doling out more favors to energy industry lobbyists:
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Thursday weakened regulations on the release of mercury and other toxic metals from oil and coal-fired power plants, another step toward rolling back health protections in the middle of a pandemic.

The new Environmental Protection Agency rule does not eliminate restrictions on the release of mercury, a heavy metal linked to brain damage. Instead, it creates a new method of calculating the costs and benefits of curbing mercury pollution that environmental lawyers said would fundamentally undermine the legal underpinnings of controls on mercury and many other pollutants.

By reducing the positive health effects of regulations on paper and raising their economic costs, the new method could be used to justify loosening restrictions on any pollutant that the fossil fuel industry has deemed too costly to control.

“That is the big unstated goal,” said David Konisky, a professor of public and environmental affairs at Indiana University. “This is less about mercury than about potentially constraining or handcuffing future efforts by the E.P.A. to regulate air pollution.”

The proposed change is the latest in the Trump administration’s long-running effort to roll back environmental regulations and reduce regulatory burdens, particularly on the coal, oil and gas industries. Over the past three years the administration has weakened rules to cut carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants, restrict coal companies from dumping debris in streams and claimed falsely that that President Trump has revived the dying coal industry.

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Icarus
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Re: Swamp Watch News

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You can't make this stuff up folks.

The Trump administration paid a bankrupt company with zero employees $55 million for N95 masks, which it's never manufactured

Business Insider

In other news, our Republic's economy now hinges on the advice from economic geniuses like Vince McMahaon.

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