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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

The “NFL Follies.”

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

Now we can turn from the “Congressional Follies” to the “NFL Follies.”

“Roger Goodell Ignoring League’s Rules in Letting Players Protest Anthem.”
Grabien News
September 23,2017

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is such a stickler for adhering to the intricacies of the NFL’s league rule book that he infamously waged a years-long, multi million-dollar battle with the New England Patriots trying to prove that balls used in the 2014 AFC championship between the Pats and the Indianapolis Colts were under-inflated.

After a federal vacated Goodell’s four-game suspension of Tom Brady, Goodell appealed to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; by 2016, the Pats appeared to lose their will to keep fighting the case and eventually accepted the penalty (Brady’s four game suspension, $1 million fine, and the loss of two draft picks).

Yet the NFL commissioner, notorious for his unusually massive compensation package — rumored to be north of $40 million/year, making his total compensation of $156 million higher than Tom Brady’s — is taking a decidedly less fastidious approach to the rules governing the national anthem at NFL games.

The NFL rule book specifically requires both teams appear on the field for the playing of the anthem, standing, remaining quiet, and holding their helmets in their left hands. Failure to do so can result in fines, suspensions, and the loss of draft picks.

The rules are found on pages A62-63 of the league’s game operations manual:

The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem.

During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition. It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.

On Sunday, almost a hundred players took a knee during the national anthem. The Pittsburgh Steelers, Chicago Beats, Seattle Seahawks, and Tennessee Titans all opted against even coming out on the field for the anthem.

But rather than warn these players and team they’re violating league rules, Goodell is focusing his anger at President Trump, who said in a speech Friday that the NFL team owners should require their players to stand during the anthem.

“The way we reacted today, and this weekend, made me proud,” Goodell said. “I’m proud of our league.”

On Saturday, Goodell responded directly to Trump, accusing the president of disrespecting the league, which asipires to “create a sense of unity in our country and our culture”:

The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture. There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we’ve experienced over the last month. Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.

We’ve reached out to the NFL, asking if any of the players or teams that skipped the national anthem will face discipline; we’ll update this report with their comments.

Goodell hasn’t always been so supportive of his players engaging in free speech on the field.

Last year the NFL barred the Dallas Cowboys from wearing a decal on their helmet honoring the five police officers killed in a domestic terror attack.

The NFL also banned the Tennessee Titan’s linebacker, Avery Williamson, from honoring 9/11 victims by wearing cleats that read “9-11/01″ and “Never Forget” on the 15th anniversary of the terror attack.

The NFL fined Robert Griffin III $10,000 for wearing a t-shirt during a press conference that said “Operation Patience.” (The shirt was created by Reebok and players are required to only wear clothing sold by Nike.)

RGIII also ran into trouble with the league for wearing a shirt that said “Know Jesus, Know Peace.”

The NFL has banned players from wearing Beats headphones on the field (doing so violated the league’s deal with Bose).

The Steelers’ William Gay was fined for wearing purple cleats, which he did to raise awareness for domestic violence (an issue Goodell claims the league takes seriously).

Goodell’s opposition to speech he dislikes is so determined that he even has a Patriots fan who flipped him off fired from his job.

Snopes.com claims that this rule does not, in fact, exist. The article cites the rule quoted above and reports “No such wording appears in the 2017 version of the Official Playing Rules of the National Football League.”

Yet the NFL’s Game Operations Manual — the 200-plus book the league refers to as its “bible” — is different than its rulebook. It is not available to the public. The rule cited above comes from the league itself, via the Washington Post.

The Post reported Sunday that the NFL confirmed the rule’s existence but emphasized their ability to enforce it selectively:

Under the league rule, the failure to be on the field for the anthem may result in discipline such as a fine, suspension or loss of a draft pick. But a league official said the key phrase is “may” result, adding he won’t speculate on whether the Steelers would be disciplined.

The specific rule pertaining to the national anthem is found on pages A62-63 of the league’s game operations manual, according to a league source.

After Grabien contacted Snopes.com, bringing the above facts to their attention, the author amended his article, confirming the existence of the above-state rule, and changed their description of this story from “false” to “mixture.”

The DACA Conundrum

Thursday, September 28th, 2017
  • Well, here we go again. Another fight between conservatives and liberals, another impossible mess that Obama left for Trump and Reublicans( confused , disorganized and splintered as usual). So, the “Congressional Follies” will proceed as promised. A quite complete overview of the mayhem to come was provided by The Washington Examiner in its OP ED section on September 22, 2017:

Build a Wall Around DACA
Washington Examiner
September 22, 2017
President Trump will soon learn what it means to cut a deal with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Democrats will not be satisfied with amnesty for the 800,000 immigrants who entered illegally as children. They will push to expand amnesty, bit by bit, to cover nearly all 11 million illegal immigrants in America. Trump will find that his deal to codify DACA won’t earn him lasting love from Democrats and immigration activists, but merely spur demands that he go further, and stoke outraged attacks if he doesn’t.

DACA carries the seeds of its own expansion.

To prevent this, Trump and congressional Republicans should hold fast and make sure the bill is coupled not only with tougher immigration enforcement but also with root and branch reform of policies on green cards and visas.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., has co-sponsored the RAISE Act with Georgia Republican Sen. David Perdue. Cotton and Perdue are right that the current green-card policy must go, especially after DACA. This is because siblings and parents of residents and citizens are allowed to immigrate and gain permanent residence in America. This “chain migration” means that those siblings can then bring in their children and children’s wives, who can bring in more siblings, and so on and on.

By legalizing nearly a million new permanent residents, DACA could set off a massive chain reaction.

“If we don’t change underlying laws about chain migration, which account for almost two-thirds of all green cards this country gives out every year,” Cotton warned in a recent interview with the Washington Examiner, that DACA “could be the largest amnesty in the history of the United States.”

“In fact,” Cotton added, “the very first people that would be eligible are the parents of the DACA recipients, which is to say the very people who broke the law by bringing their kids here.”

Cotton’s bill would severely limit family reunification green cards, so adults don’t bring in their siblings, and adults are not automatically allowed to bring in parents. This would limit the ripple effect of DACA.

The RAISE Act, by moving toward a skills-based immigration system, would address the legal issue. Then, there’s the moral hazard issue, which is that codifying DACA would induce many Central and South American parents to send or bring their parents illegally into the U.S. in the hope of a later round of amnesty.

This isn’t imaginary. “There’s a reason why we had a surge of kids at the border two years after President Obama created the DACA program and after the first round of renewal,” Cotton aptly pointed out.

“If you’ve got kids, put yourself in the position of a mom or dad in El Salvador, the most dangerous place in the world, the home of MS-13,” Cotton said. “If the U.S. gives legal status to 20- and 30-somethings who came here as children, what price would you pay to get your child here now?”

If DACA doesn’t come with real border enforcement, this humanitarian crisis is nearly guaranteed.

Finally, there’s the political reason DACA would expand. Who actually believes Democrats want to stop at legalizing and naturalizing the 800,000 who entered as children. That’s merely Step One.

Immigration activists admitted as much in a demonstration this week where they chanted at Nancy Pelosi “All of us or none of us!” demanding amnesty for all illegal immigrants. It would fit the pattern if Democrats one at a time added new classes to amnesty. Seniors first, then people who have been here more than 20 years next, then pregnant women, and those who entered when younger than 25 years old, and so on.

We have little objection to DACA itself, but a country in which every illegal entrant is declared a legal entrant is one that has given up its sovereignty. Or, as Trump put it during the election, a country that has no border ceases to be a country. DACA threatens to spread. Congress, as part of any deal with Schumer and Pelosi, needs to build a wall around it.

Tax Reform Legislation

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

Congress is to consider Tax Reform Legislation Today.The following is a good review of the difficulties ahead

Tax Reform Legislation

Washington Examiner

September 20, 2017

Republicans are split on a strategy for moving tax reform legislation through Congress, one week before they are supposed to release a document outlining their plan to overhaul the tax code. In other words, Republicans not only don’t have consensus on the content of a tax plan, they also haven’t agreed on how to go about legislating one.

Some Senate Republicans on Tuesday mulled the idea of writing a budget that would allow them to pursue tax changes that lost significant revenue, weighing the possibility of a $1.5 trillion net tax cut over 10 years.

That approach would allow them to bypass the filibuster through budget reconciliation, the legislative procedure that allows bills to clear the Senate with only 51 votes.

 

But because of rules preventing reconciliation from adding to long-term deficits, the strategy likely would require that at least some tax provisions would have to be temporary.

 

House Republicans have staked out a different route. The House Budget Committee has advanced a budget that would require the tax plan to be revenue-neutral, meaning the reform would have to raise as much revenue as would be lost from tax cuts, after accounting for any economic growth generated by the improved tax code. In the House GOP version, the tax reform could be permanent.

 

The Senate and House budgets would have to be reconciled in conference. Then the tax-writing committees would draft legislation to meet the parameters spelled out in the budget. If those documents diverge significantly, the two chambers might have to sort out not just differences in details, but also the entire approach. And before either chamber approves its budget, it must allay concerns among some members that the process could move in a direction they don’t like.

 

In the House, conservative members of the Freedom Caucus have asked for assurances that the tax reform effort won’t drift off course, as they believe the attempt to pass healthcare legislation through reconciliation has.

 

Some of the same pressures apply in the Senate.

 

On Tuesday, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., a member of the budget committee, said he wanted to hear from the “Big Six” congressional and administration Republicans working on tax reform.

“I’d rather hold off on the budget and reconciliation until we understand a little bit more exactly what the tax proposal is going to look like,” Johnson told reporters.The outline to be released next week is expected to include some targets for rates, but not much other detail.

Georgia Rep. David Perdue, another member of the Budget Committee, said his preference was not to proceed through the budget process. “I would rather us not have to do it with reconciliation, I don’t like reconciliation,” he said.

 

In the Senate, some Republicans expressed a desire to pursue a simple, less ambitious tax plan, rather than the comprehensive rewrite of the tax code favored by House Republican leaders. Speaking at a tax reform hearing in the Finance Committee, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., downplayed the need for sorting through the details necessary to make the tax reform numbers add up. Instead, he said, Congress should simply lower business and individual tax rates, eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax and the estate tax, and bring back earnings corporations have overseas, “and call it good and not go into all these other details.””It sure would save us a lot of time,” Roberts said.

 

Yet the fast-moving developments in the Senate on Tuesday were enough to draw criticism from outside fiscal hawks.

“Senators should ask themselves whether they are going to take the easy road and pursue unpaid-for tax cuts that worsen our dangerous national debt, or use this once in a generation opportunity to pass fiscally responsible, pro-growth tax reform,” said Maya MacGuineas, head of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Trump and the Democrats: What a Mess!

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

Washington Examiner
September 11,2017
Republicans getting trumped by internal divide not the president
By Susan Ferrechio

The accepted spin on last week’s Oval Office showdown between Republicans and President Trump is that Trump handed Democrats a major political victory. But Republican internal divisions, not Trump, gave Democrats the bargaining power in the debate over how long to suspend the nation’s borrowing limit, and it will continue to give Democrats the upper hand as Republicans try to move their faltering agenda in the weeks ahead

The Republican plan to pass tax reform, a possible infrastructure bill, and implement federal spending reforms all face internal division that could end up stalling the GOP agenda and leaving President Trump with the sole option of turning to Democrats to get anything done.

The first test could come as early as the next few weeks, when House Republicans hope to begin consideration of the fiscal 2018 budget, which will serve as the legislative vehicle for tax reform, now the GOP’s No. 1 goal.

Even last week, GOP leaders weren’t sure whether they had enough support within their own party to pass a budget. They spent the August recess trying to shore up support for the proposal, but there is opposition from conservatives who are demanding more stringent spending reforms, while moderates say the plan cuts too much.

“We still have some work to do, but we are encouraged by the results we were getting over the recess,” House Budget Committee Chairwoman Diane Black, R-Tenn., said. “We are hoping to be able to get the budget done in the next couple of weeks.”

As the GOP agenda falters, Democrats are leveraging their power by remaining unified and threatening to withhold their bloc of votes to help the fractured GOP get things done.

The strategy worked for Democrats last week when they convened in an Oval Office meeting Sept. 6 with GOP leaders and Trump to discuss a deal to suspend the nation’s borrowing limit and provide hurricane disaster relief money.

Democrats wanted to limit the debt ceiling increase to three months in order to give them more time to negotiate a deal to pass an immigration reform bill known as the Dream Act.

Republicans wanted an 18-month debt limit suspension, but they lack the votes to pass it in the House or the Senate without Democratic support.

Many conservatives refuse to back a debt ceiling increase unless it includes significant federal spending reform.

Trump realized the only immediate deal possible was with the Democrats.

“Here, the currency of the realm is the vote,” Pelosi said later. “You have the votes, no discussion necessary. You don’t have the votes, three months.”

The Republicans, she added, “don’t have the votes; that is why we have three months.”

Emboldened Democrats say they now want a standalone bill on the DREAM Act in exchange for their vote for a debt ceiling increase in December.

Pelosi said Trump has signaled to them that he would sign the bill, which would legalize young people who came to the United States illegally as children.

Pelosi acknowledged that it would probably require Democrats agreeing to additional border security funding, but she said that would not include funding for a southern border wall, which was a top priority for Trump during his 2016 campaign.

Pelosi said she has discussed “border enforcement” with Trump, “but it does not include a wall.”

The potential coalition between Trump and Democrats on immigration reform threatens to leave Republicans in the dust as they struggle pass tax reform and other important legislative items.

Rep. Bill Flores, R-Texas, a senior member of the largest conservative faction, the Republican Study Committee, said the party has never been fully unified on anything.

“We are an independent group,” Flores said. “We all have various lines of reasoning for the way we think about policies.”

Dan Holler, a spokesman for the conservative Heritage Action, said Republican leaders have caused division within the party by straying too far from campaign promises including reducing government spending and repealing Obamacare.

“The division certainly gave Democrats an opportunity to swoop in,” Holler said. “But it was all preceded by this unwillingness to pursue campaign promises or conservative policy agendas.”

The GOP split was never more evident than on Friday, when dozens of House Republicans, including some Texans, voted against the leadership-endorsed Hurricane aid and debt ceiling package.

Republican opponents said they couldn’t back a suspension of the debt ceiling without spending reforms. They also called for offsets for the $15.4 billion in disaster relief, which will now add to the debt.

“As much as I want to help Texas, I can’t vote for something that is a blank check on the debt,” Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, said. “The same Texans who are now in distress are going to, when they get back on their feet, be part of the group paying this money back.”

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Washington Examiner
Op Ed: 9/11/2017
“If, as a voter, you think what we need is more Republicans in Washington to cut a deal with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, then I guess Donald Trump’s your guy.”

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas spoke those words in Manchester, N.H., in January 2016. The events of last week prove that Cruz was at least partly right.

The senator was not alone in arguing that Trump, as president, would be quick to cut deals with the political opposition at his own allies’ expense. After all, he was a businessman first, and not omitted to a specific ideological program.

To be fair to Trump, he seems mostly to have listened to and leaned on conservatives when making policy during his first seven months in office. And it took several months before he actually agreed to surrender to Democratic demands as he now has, by rolling hurricane relief and a short-term debt ceiling increase into one must-pass package. The consequences of Trump working with Democrats in this case are not too serious. Uncle Sam can keep borrowing, at least for a few more months, without any tradeoffs or limitations.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., was as conciliatory as possible on Thursday when he spoke at a news conference about Trump’s unexpected betrayal. The president, he said, had been looking for a bipartisan moment at a time of crisis, and this seemed like a good one.

Ryan, who overcame his personal reservations to work with Trump during the 2016 election, will surely continue to work with him despite such a snub. But it has never been more important for Trump to remember who his friends are. Not all Republicans will be so good-natured as their Speaker, and the success or failure of Trump’s presidency depends on their cooperation.

Democratic leaders such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., are willing to work with Trump now and then when they can belittle him by obliging him to do their bidding. It means they strategically outwit congressional Republicans and turn the tables in Washington so that they get to set the agenda once again. But no matter how much Trump works with them, Democrats are not interested in helping him achieve any of his legislative goals.

Their sole goal in 2018 is to win the midterm elections by running on the idea that Trump is the villain. This is their right as an opposition party. They are silly and vain, indulging the conceit that they are “the resistance,” a popular movement fighting a quasi-Hitlerian dictatorship, when in truth they are just an out-of-touch political party that can’t handle election defeat. But as silly and vain as the Democrats are, they are right in recognizing that they have nothing to gain from working with Trump.

This is why many in the House and Senate Democratic caucuses already publicly denounce him as a white supremacist, and not only find fault with his response to the violence in Charlottesville, but actually argue that he is responsible for what happened there.

Schumer, Pelosi, and the Democrats worked against Trump on his executive and judicial nominations, on his regulatory repeal efforts, and on healthcare reform. And after the Harvey bill has become law, they will work against him on tax reform and whatever comes after that. If they win the House back in 2018 they will have to fight hard to resist pressure to allow Trump to be impeached. They may not resist all that hard.

In the meantime, Trump has just snubbed the very congressional Republicans whose support he needs in order to win all the battles he will have to fight in the future.

Congress is a co-equal branch of government with the presidency, albeit a branch in which no single person holds all the power. Trump has big plans on healthcare, tax reform, and immigration reform (including both his wall and the future of those who came to the country illegally as children) to name just a few. He’s going to need the help and sympathy of the congressional Republican leadership to make any of them reality.

If he really thinks he can make a better deal with Democrats and get anything done after that, Trump is in for a very rude awakening.

Had Comey Committed Fraud in Clinton Probe?

Saturday, September 2nd, 2017

A real bombshell. This needs careful attention. If true, how can anything Comey tries to pin on Trump be taken seriously?

Western Journalism

New Revelations Show Comey Committed ‘Fraud’ In Clinton Probe
By Jack Davis
September 1, 2017

Revelations that allege former FBI Director James Comey started work on his statement clearing Hillary Clinton of any charges against her long before the FBI’s investigation into her email scandal was complete have led one of President Donald Trump’s lawyers to brand the FBI investigation “a fraud on the American people.”

As reported by Western Journalism, Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., wrote FBI Director Chis Wray earlier this week about the revelation that was contained in partially redacted transcripts of interviews with two FBI officials.

In the interviews, the officials said that months before Comey announced in July that Clinton would not be charged, he had started drafting a statement to announce that result.

Grassley and Graham noted in the letter that the claims that Comey was drafting the statement in May would mean that he knew how the investigation would end weeks before major witnesses were interviewed, including Clinton and her top aides.

Attorney Jay Sekulow, a member of President Donald Trump’s legal team, discussed the impact of this new evidence Thursday night on the Fox News show Hannity.

“The whole investigation, evidently, was a fraud on the American people,” he said. “You’ve got James Comey now with emails going back and forth where he’s drafting three months before they interview 16 key witnesses, including the supposed target of the investigation — exoneration!”

Sekulow noted that in the past, Comey has sought to blame others for possibly besmirching the integrity of the FBI.

“James Comey had the nerve to testify under oath that he had to come forward last July to make his statement because the whole process where Loretta Lynch met with President (Bill) Clinton on the tarmac in Phoenix cast doubt on the scope and nature of the investigation and the integrity of the Department of Justice and the FBI.”

Sekulow did not let Lynch off the hook, though.
“James Comey took over the role of the attorney general of the United States where she didn’t bother to recuse herself after she had the meeting, but it should have been the Department of Justice making this decision, not James Comey. And the fact that he got away with that is inexcusable.”

Sekulow said the idea that an investigator would write a concluding statement while the probe was ongoing is mind-boggling.

“Who in the world would draft a document … three months before witness interviews are complete including the subject and target of the investigation?” he said.

Sekulow said that if Comey was drafting the statement weeks before he presented it in July, then his claims to the American people at the time were wrong.

“This goes to the heart of a false statement that was made by James Comey when he went and made that whole statement in front of national TV where he lists off the charges of guilt and then says ‘Nevertheless, no prosecutor would charge it,’” Sekulow said.

Ari Fleischer, who served as press secretary for former President George W. Bush, said it is possible Comey prepared another memo to explain charging Clinton, but admitted that was not likely.

He said that this new revelation has “shaken my belief in the integrity of the institution” under Comey.

“If this is true, then that investigation, the most high-profile, important thing that the FBI is doing, was a sham,” he said.


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