Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Top Weasel Award Goes To: The Envelop Please — Donald J. Trump

If He Stays on Top He Will Be Content, So. Polish Daily


The award for “Fact vs. Fiction” then and now (2-minute video reminder):


That was then (the fiction); this is now – the facts:

8 weekends at Mar-a-Lago, FL: A favorite destination in the early days of his presidency, until this weekend Trump hadn't been back to Mar-a-Lago since the private club closed for the season. Expect this number to tick up in the coming winter months.

8 weekends at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, FL: His Florida visits always include a jaunt over to this golf club, including on Wednesday.

1 weekend at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, FL: He's only gone to this club once, way back in February, when he brought Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe along.

6 weekends at Trump International Washington in Washington, DC: If he stays in Washington, he occasionally swings by for a meal at his hotel just blocks away from the White House.

15 weekends at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, VA: Almost a guarantee if you happen to be on pool duty on a weekend when the president stays in Washington: A trip to his nearby golf club in Sterling, Va. Trump also has held meetings at the club.

10 weekends at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, NJ: The closing of Mar-a-Lago meant the president spent more time at his New Jersey club, including his August "working vacation."

Bonus: Trump Tower on two Sunday nights. His Manhattan property was his final destination on a couple weekend evenings, ahead of weeks he spent in NYC in August and September.


Still he says and said previously that he has no time for golf, adding he would be too busy in the White House solving problems for such pleasure.

My Parting question: Whenever in American history have we ever had such a lying president – lies that have been carefully documented and mostly by his own words – he is one who insults anyone anytime about anything.

How much longer will the country tolerate this? It is painfully clear that our world status has fallen since he assumed office.

I’m done now.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

High Stakes Poker: Two of Kind May Not Win for Trump or Moore

Roy Stewart Moore and Donald John Trump
(Two of Kind and No Winning Hand)


Washington (CNN) – Trump now seems to defend embattled Alabama Republican Roy Moore, all but directly endorsing the Senate candidate who has been accused of sexual assault by numerous women.

Trump says directly about Moore's woes: “He denies it. Look, he denies it. If you look at all the things that have happened over the last 48 hours. He totally denies it. He says it didn't happen. And look, you have to look at him also.”

(I note: Over the last 48 hours – is that a joke. He denies it – of course he would. But that does not override or dismiss the women, many who have come forth publicly in their stories).

The Trump said this when asked whether he would campaign with Moore: “I'll be letting you know next week.” Then he repeatedly emphasized that Moore has denied the allegations brought against him as stated above.
======================================================
Those several women who have come forward have accused Moore of pursuing romantic relationships with them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s (one was 14 years at the time). Several others also have accused him of assault. Moore has denied the allegations.

Some conflicts:

Trump says: “We don't need a liberal person in there, a Democrat, Jones. I've looked at his record. It's terrible on crime. It's terrible on the border. It's terrible on military. I can tell you for a fact we do not need somebody who's going to be bad on crime, bad on borders, bad for the military, bad for the Second Amendment.”

These Trump comments mark the first time he has publicly positioned himself on the matter and mark a stark contrast from the more than a dozen Senate Republicans, including Mitch McConnell, who has called on Moore to drop out of the race.

Also, the campaign arm for Senate Republicans and the RNC both have severed all ties with Moore.

The maximum conflict: Ivanka Trump-Kushner issued a direct rebuke to Moore last week, saying in part this: “I've yet to see a valid explanation and I have no reason to doubt the victims' accounts” she told The Associated Press. Then she concluded: “There's a special place in hell for people who prey on children.”

B/L if that’s even possible to have a bottom line in all this: Republicans, and especially those in Alabama, seem to think and in fact some have said, “We’d rather vote for Moore (alleged child predator) that see a DEM win the seat)"

How pathetic and crazy is that?

We will know next month when this special election is held. If Moore wins, then what will the GOP do?

Stay tuned, and thanks for stopping by.

Monday, November 20, 2017

White House: Trump Empire, Inc. Annex for 4-8 Years (Up to Voters)

“Ours, All Ours — Deal With It” /s/ DJT
(CEO and Chairman of the Board)


Astonishing and excellent story here from a Daily Beast examination of public records.

It reveals that there are at least 20 families, joined by either blood or marriage, in which multiple members hold some Trump Federal post or key appointment.

They include the families of some of Trump’s most prominent campaign supporters and agency officials, including one cabinet officer. The posts range from senior White House staff to more ceremonial and advisory positions.

A few of the most prominent cases:

* In recent weeks Eric Trump’s brother-in-law was hired to be Chief of Staff at the DOE.

*  The nomination of Brett Talley to a Federal judgeship in Alabama.

(Noteworthy: In paperwork filed with the Senate Judiciary Committee, Talley failed to disclose that his wife is the chief of staff to the White House senior counsel Don McGahn — presenting a potential conflict of interest if the administration ever argues a case in Talley’s court).

* Additionally, McGahn also has a direct relation in the administration. His wife, Sharron McGahn, was hired in May as a policy adviser to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

*  In March, Trump tapped former Ford Motor Company lawyer Jim Carroll to join McGahn’s team. Carroll has since moved over to OMB where he serves as general counsel, but before he did, the White House hired his son, James Carroll III — whose previous professional experience consisted of a stint as the sports editor of his college newspaper — as a staff assistant.

Now, such staffing choices of family members (blood or marriage) aren’t necessarily novel for this administration. Historically-speaking, from President John Adams to John F. Kennedy, presidents and their teams have drawn on families for high-level staffing (e.g., Bobby Kennedy as AG).

A lack of comprehensive records for previous administrations makes it difficult to gauge whether the Trump administration is staffed by more families than his predecessors did. However, Trump’s administration is, more than any since perhaps Kennedy’s, defined by blood relations, with daughter Ivanka Trump-Kushner and son-in-law Jared Kushner occupying senior posts.

Son Don Jr. and son Eric and daughter-in-law Lara Trump, serve as prominent public faces of the president’s political and business arms. And the degree to which other families supply the administration with top talent only further illustrates the insularity of the current group controlling the levers of power in Washington, D.C.

This story is extensive and continues here.

My Analysis is Simple: The Trump family is in government to make money, world contacts, and expand their empire either while in office or after.

They are running government like a business acquisition with Trump at the head of the board and CEO.

That is painfully obvious.

Trump talks about “America First” or make us “Great Again.” Yet he makes meals on foreign trips to import more foreign product (made off-shore I presume).


When President Trump returned this week from a 12-day, five-nation swing through Asia, he gave himself high marks for the “tremendous success of this trip.”

But experts say that while he avoided major blunders during his stops in Japan, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines, the president missed more than one opportunity to offer his administration's strategic vision for the region — the world's largest, most populous and fastest growing.

“It was all fluff," says David Shambaugh, a professor of political science and international affairs at the Elliott School at George Washington University, adding; 

“Nothing came out of it except Trump flying in and being treated well himself.” 

He points to the lavish dinners, honor guards at nearly every stop and the tea to which the president was treated in Beijing's Forbidden City as “symbols that the Chinese and in fact, most Asian leaders, have figured out Trump” — by flattering his ego.

This is classic Trump: seek and stay in the spotlight anyway possible to promote himself and family and Trump Empire, Inc.

How long will this last? Who knows? Stay tuned.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Our Panama Ocean Club Int’l Hotel & Tower Deal Progressing Daddy

 Then: The Deal with Alexandre Ventura Nogueira 
is running Like Clock Work
Now: Nogueira who? 

Major Update on the Following Story here from (Alternet.org): 

My input: Ho Lee Shitte. Sure looks like Ivanka's deal with this guy, Alexandre Ventura Nogueira (see more below), did and perhaps is still paying off ... and certainly fodder for Mueller for sure:


======================================================
Original Post: The Headlines from Reuters Special Report is Classic Trump: 

“Ivanka Trump and the Fugitive from Panama”

From Reuters by Ned Parker, Stephen Grey, Stefanie Eschenbacher, Roman Anin, Brad Brooks, and Christine Murray

Highlights:

PANAMA CITY & TORONTO, November 17 (Reuters) – In the spring of 2007, a succession of foreigners, many from Russia, arrived at Panama City airport to be greeted by a chauffeur who whisked them off in a white Cadillac with a Donald Trump logo on the side.

The limousine belonged to a business run by a Brazilian former car salesman named Alexandre Ventura Nogueira, who was offering the visitors a chance to invest in Trump’s latest project – a 70-floor tower called the Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower.

Note: That project was the future president’s first international hotel venture, a complex including residential apartments and a casino in a waterfront building shaped like a sail.

“Mr. Nogueira was an outgoing and lively young man. Everybody was so impressed with Homes as they seemed to be riding the top of the real estate boom at the time,” remembered Justine Pasek, who was crowned Miss Universe by Donald Trump in 2002 and was acting in 2007 as a spokesperson for Nogueira’s company, Homes Real Estate Investment & Services.

One of those Nogueira set out to impress was Ivanka Trump-Kushner. In an interview with Reuters, Nogueira said he met and spoke with Ivanka “many times” when she was handling the Trump Organization’s involvement in the Panama development. 

“She would remember me,” he said adding that Ivanka was so taken with his sales skills that she helped him become a leading broker for the development and he appeared in a video with her promoting the project.

A Reuter’s investigation into the financing of the Trump Ocean Club, in conjunction with NBC News, found out that Nogueira was responsible for between one-third and one-half of advance sales for the project.

It also found out that he did business with a Colombian who was later convicted of money laundering and is now in detention in the United States; a Russian investor in the Trump project who was jailed in Israel in the 1990s for kidnap and threats to kill; and a Ukrainian investor who was arrested for alleged people-smuggling while working with Nogueira and later convicted by a Kiev court.

Three years after getting involved in the Trump Ocean Club, Nogueira was arrested by Panamanian authorities on charges of fraud and forgery, unrelated to the Trump project. Released on $1.4 million bail, he later fled the country.

He left behind a trail of people who claim he cheated them, including over apartments in the Trump project, resulting in at least four criminal cases that eight years later have still to be judged. Nogueira denies the charges and told Reuters in an email: “I am no Angel but not Devil either.”

Noteworthy: Ivanka Trump declined to comment on her dealings with Nogueira.  
A White House spokesman referred questions to the Trump Organization.

Alan Garten, the Trump organization’s chief legal officer said: “No one at the Trump Organization, including the Trump family, has any recollection of ever meeting or speaking with this individual (Nogueira).”

Further refer to the above from Nogueira who said he met and spoke with Ivanka “many times she would remember me.”

Now the Trump card is played (when they are caught red-handed so to speak thus):
“Nogueira, who?”

However Donald Trump put his name to the development and stood to make up to $75 million from it (re: bond prospectus for the project). 

He did not exert management control over the construction and was under no direct legal obligation to conduct due diligence on other people involved, but still, some legal experts say the episode raises questions about the steps Trump took to check the source of any income from there.

For example, Arthur Middlemiss, a former assistant district attorney in Manhattan and a former head of JPMorgan’s global anti-corruption program, said that since Panama was “perceived to be highly corrupt,” anyone engaged in business there should conduct due diligence on others involved in their ventures. 

If they did not, Middlemiss said, “…there was a potential risk in U.S. law of being liable for turning a blind eye to wrongdoing.”

Story continues here. 


My 2 cents: How about a Rick Perry “oops” about right now, um, Ivanka or Mr. President.

Claiming not to know Nogueira, but gave him permission to use the Trump name?

You agreed to huge profits from the deal with your name?

Now you expect us to believe you didn’t know the man or only slightly? Hardly – and highly unlikely and totally not plausible.

Seems the father and daughter dual (or maybe all 4 of the Trump’s) have tried to pull a “Bernie Madoff” – well, maybe not that big – but just as bad (i.e., being in cahoots with a scam and skillful con artist – the aforementioned Nogueira).

I expect more on this story that is the Trump’s tap dance around it – then who the hell knows – seems to be the M.O. right? So, stay tuned.

Thanks for stopping by. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

How Many Weasels Make Up the GOP: Most Known Species Fit the Bill

Top 3 GOP Weasels in "Leadership Roles"

Top GOP Cheerleader on most Bogus Issues
(Fox Puts Hannity the Center of that Boogle)

Update on the following from this Shep Smith on Fox:

While Fox News has doubled down on the “Clinton-Russian Pay-to-Play Uranium One” story on recent weeks, devoting hours of programming time to the Obama-era uranium deal in an effort to paint it as “the real Russian conspiracy,” one prominent face on the network has completely avoided covering it.

Until today, that is. And let’s just say, he covered the story in a far different way than, say, Sean Hannity. With Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee pushing Attorney General Jeff Sessions today to appoint a special counsel to investigate Hillary Clinton’s involvement in the deal, 

Fox News anchor Shepard Smith devoted a few minutes this afternoon to breaking down the facts of the deal. In doing so, he made it clear that much of what’s been reported on his own network about the “scandalous” deal doesn’t hold water.

After giving a bit of a history lesson on mining company Uranium One and the 2010 deal involving a Russian agency obtaining controlling interest in the company, Smith highlighted that this rose to the level of scandal after a Breitbart editor-at-large wrote in a 2015 book that a quid-pro-quo occurred between then-Secretary of State Clinton and Russia via donations to the Clinton Foundation.

Smith said: “That statement is inaccurate in a number of ways. First, the Clinton State Department had no power to veto or approve that transaction. It could do neither.”

Smith then went on to explain how the approval process worked with this particular deal while pointing out that Clinton appeared to have very little, if any, involvement. Also, regarding the claims that $140 million was donated to the Clinton Foundation from investors involved in the deal, Smith pointed out that most of those donations cited were from a man who sold his stake in the company in 2007, three years before the deal.

He ended his report by saying the following – see the clip from Smith’s show in the above link – it is keeper for sure. The question is: How many GOPers will believe the facts vs. the BS?
======================================================

Previous background information follows: 

INTRODUCTION: Actually more deflective SMOKE AND MIRRORS from a string of the latest Trump tweet that resemble this: During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump lodged the uranium accusation during a campaign rally saying that “Hillary Clinton gave up 20 percent of America’s uranium supply to Russia — to Russia.”

(Note: According to Politifact, Trump said that and ranked the claim “mostly false” because there was no evidence of a quid pro quo, adding: “The State Department did approve the Uranium-One deal, but it didn’t act unilaterally. It was one of nine U.S. government agencies, plus independent federal and state nuclear regulators, as well as the Canadian government had to sign off on the deal.” And, separately, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) needed to approve, and did approve, the transfer of two uranium recovery licenses as part of the sale.)
Key Facts that are stunning and should be a wakeup call for all Americans and especially the right-wingers who follow this crap without facts:
1. Only CFIUS can approve a sale, but it cannot stop a sale. Only the president can do that (stop a sale), and then only if the committee recommends or “any member of CFIUS recommends suspension or prohibition of the transaction.”
2. According to guidelines issued by the Treasury Department in December 2008 (Note: Barack Obama was not president in December 2008) and then after the department adopted its final rule which was a month earlier (Note: That would have been in November 2008 and under President George W. Bush).
That rule reads “Treasury Department, Dec. 8, 2008: Only the President has the authority to suspend or prohibit a covered transaction. Pursuant to section 6(c) of Executive Order 11858, CFIUS refers a covered transaction to the President if CFIUS or any member of CFIUS recommends suspension or prohibition of the transaction, or if CFIUS otherwise seeks a Presidential determination on the transaction.”
Further note: Even the president cannot prohibit a transaction without “credible evidence that the foreign interest exercising control might take action that threatens to impair the national security.”

Note: Very little is known about the Uranium-One-Rosatom deal or even Clinton's role in it because the law for such matters and according to Treasury Department guidelines have:

“Strong confidentiality requirements by law information filed with CFIUS is subject to strong confidentiality requirements that prohibit disclosure to the public, and accordingly, CFIUS does not disclose whether parties to any transaction have filed notices with CFIUS, nor does CFIUS disclose the results of any review. When a transaction is referred to the President, however, the decision of the President is announced publicly.” 

Also note: Jose Fernandez, former Assistant SOS represented State with CFIUS has stated that: “Mrs. Clinton never intervened with me on any CFIUS matter.”

Summary: Schweizer raises legitimate questions about the Clinton Foundation and its donations but, he simply goes too far when he says Clinton had “veto power and could have stopped the uranium deal” when in fact only the President has the authority to suspend or prohibit (not approve) such a covered transaction. Through a spokeswoman, Schweizer backpedaled and told the TIMES that he “meant the Clinton could have forced the issue to the president's desk.” However, at is not what he said when he appeared on Fox News Sunday, where he discussed the uranium deal and his book (which was released May 5, 2015).
Chris Wallace, host of Fox News Sunday: Made that point when he questioned Schweizer about his lack of evidence connecting the donations to the uranium deal. (Note: Fox News was among the media outlets that received an advance copy of the Schweizer book). Schweizer made his counter-argument and again without any evidence that “…investors bought Hillary Clinton’s silence by making contributions to the Clinton Foundation.” Schweizer speculated that investors were worried about Clinton's history of opposing the sale of “critical assets in the U.S.,” while citing her opposition as a senator to the 2006 sale of six U.S. ports to Dubai Ports World, a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates.
Chris Wallace: “Nine separate agencies and the Clinton campaign all pointed out there's no hard evidence, and you don't cite any in the book that Hillary Clinton took direct action or was involved in any way in approving as one of nine agencies the sale of the company?”
Schweizer: “Well, here's what's important to keep in mind: it was one of nine agencies, but any one of those agencies had veto power. So, she could have stopped the deal. So, what's interesting about this, of all those nine agencies, who was the most hawkish on these types of issues? Hillary Clinton. She had a reputation going back to the Dubai Ports deal.” Schweizer and his publicist were emailed links about the comments and assertions to CRS report and the regulation that governs the CFIUS and their work.
Schweizer responded through the publicist saying (in fancy sidestepping): “By veto I mean halt the deal and advance their concerns to the President.” He then also noted that Clinton was the only committee member who had a family foundation that received donations from the investors in the uranium deal. Finally, Schweizer is trafficking in speculation. He raises legitimate questions about the Clinton Foundation and its donations – all fair game. But, he goes too far when he says Clinton had “veto power and could have stopped the uranium deal.” 
(I note: That is flat out a lie – and whopper to boot).
And here we are today: Talk Radio and Fox (Hannity types) trying to shift the focus from Trump-Russia and that mess to this non-issue issue.
For Trump to get DOJ to assign a Mueller-type S/C to investigate here is just flat out raw nasty ugly mean politics of the worst kind – hands down – and possibly illegal and unlawful with Trump’s pressure on AG Sessions (which he denies) and the DOJ to get involved – design: Take the dam pressure off of me. /s/ Trump.
Plus, the shades of Nixon and Watergate now hover over the White House.
100% stay tuned … and thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Another Update: Whitefish $300M PR Power Project Still Under Scrutiny

Bigger Story Now Than Ever Thought
(But as many predicted)

Puerto Rico: Entire Power Grid Down After Hurricane Maria



4th Update (and I suspect this is not the last we have heard about this mess or shall we call it for what it is: One huge “con”):

This update is from the NY Times with this headlines:

Lineman Got $63 an Hour. PR Utility Billed $319 an Hour

Extract from this very extensive and detailed article (my emphasis added):

SAN JUAN, PR — The small energy outfit from Montana that won a $300 million contract to help rebuild Puerto Rico’s tattered power grid had few employees of its own, so it did what the Puerto Rican authorities could have done: It turned to Florida for workers.

For their trouble, the six electrical workers from Kissimmee are earning $42 an hour, plus overtime. The senior power linemen from Lakeland are earning $63 an hour working in PR the FL utility said. Their 40 co-workers from Jacksonville, also linemen, are making up to $100 earning double time, public records show.

But the Montana company that hired the workers, Whitefish Energy Holdings, had a contract that allowed it to bill the Puerto Rican public power company, known as Prepa, $319 an hour for linemen, a rate that industry experts said was far above the norm even for emergency work — and almost 17 times the average salary of their counterparts in Puerto Rico.

A spokesman for Whitefish, Chris Chiames, defended the costs, saying that “simply looking at the rate differential does not take into account Whitefish’s overhead costs,” which were built into the rate and he continued: “We have to pay a premium to entice the labor to come to Puerto Rico to work.”

Many workers are paid overtime for all the time they work. Overtime pay varies by type of worker, union membership, mainland utility company, and many other factors.

As I said, this story is probably not over yet – stay tuned.

And. as usual, thanks for stopping by.

====================================================== 
3rd Update (today): Highlights from here (Boing-Boing.net):

Whitefish Energy's had quite a week:

Last week the two-person company from Whitefish, Montana (FYI: Hometown of Trump Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke) was awarded a $300 million contract to help rebuild the power-grid in Puerto Rico.

That contract has some very favorable terms including: (1) $462 / hour for subcontracted supervisors, (2) no penalties for nonperformance, and (3) a guarantee that the government wouldn't audit its expenditures, plus it was a “no-bid” contract.

Now, Whitefish has lost that contract after the governor of Puerto Rico demanded that it be canceled. The cancellation came with an announcement that all of Whitefish Energy's government contracts would be audited, and the FBI is involved now.

As they say: Something has stunk since day one on this “deal.”

So, stay tuned – expect W/H (via Tweeter storm at 3 am) to follow.

======================================================
2nd Update (October 27, 2017): This story just keeps growing each passing now it seems – the latest from The Hill here (in part) with this headline:

“FEMA has ‘Significant Concerns’ with Puerto Rico’s
$300M Power Deal”

Highlights and Intro:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is sounding an alarm over Puerto Rico’s $300 million contract with a small Montana company to restore power infrastructure, amid concerns over the firm's tiny staff and lack of competitive bidding.

FEMA will be responsible for paying for the work by Whitefish Energy Holdings, but the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), the island’s utility, entered into the contract. 

(NOTE: The Company is named after the small town (Pop. 6,300) of Whitefish, MT which also happens to be the hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke – what a deal, um?).

From a FEMA statement: Based on initial review and information from PREPA, FEMA has significant concerns with how PREPA procured this contract and has not confirmed whether the contract prices are reasonable. FEMA is presently engaged with PREPA and its legal counsel to obtain information about the contract and contracting process, including how the contract was procured and how PREPA determined the contract prices were reasonable.” 

I note: As the old saying goes or a cliché of sorts: “I smell a rat.” Stay tuned.
======================================================
1st Update (October 26): I had a hunch this story was bigger and apt to grow and now it has … details here from The Daily Beast with this headlines:

“Whitefish Energy Apologizes to Puerto Rico, San Juan Mayor 
for Twitter Comments”
In part:

Whitefish Energy issued an apology to San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz and “everyone in Puerto Rico” for comments posted in a public Twitter spat today.

The small Montana-based company is at the center of a controversial $300 million contract to restore electricity to the storm-battered U.S. island territory.

After Cruz questioned the transparency of the “alarming” contract — the largest awarded for relief efforts after Hurricane Maria — and demanded it be voided, Whitefish Energy’s Twitter account called her comments “disappointing and demoralizing” and appeared to threaten to stop working altogether, tweeting:

“We’ve got 44 linemen rebuilding power lines in your city & 40 more men just arrived. Do you want us to send them back or keep working?”

More questions have arisen about how the company, which had only two full-time employees up until recently, managed to beat out other utility companies and secure the contract.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Whitefish CEO Andy Techmanski have admitted knowing each other but said that played no role in Whitefish getting the contract. The company’s investors also include HBC Investments, a Texas-based firm whose founder donated generously to President Trump.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello echoed Cruz’s concerns on Wednesday, announcing that he’s asked the OIG to review the contracting process.

Wow – stay tuned.

=====================================================

ORIGINAL POST: Whew boy – can we now add contract corruption in the Puerto Rico power grid recovery process by a well-connected small electric company tied to Trump campaign donor? Seems like it…

Introduction and Highlights from The Daily Beast:

Puerto Rico has agreed to pay a reported $300 million for the restoration of its power grid to a tiny utility company that is primarily financed by a private-equity firm founded and run by a man who contributed large sums of money to President Trump, an investigation conducted by The Daily Beast has found.

Whitefish Energy Holdings, which had a reported staff of only two full-time employees when Hurricane Maria touched down, appears ill-equipped to handle the daunting task of restoring electricity to Puerto Rico’s more than 3 million residents. Much larger utilities are more commonly used following natural disasters on the scale of Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island last month.

The private-equity firm that finances Whitefish, HBC Investments, was founded by Joe Colonnetta, who serves as its general partner.  FEC data compiled by The Daily Beast shows Colonnetta contributed $20,000 to the Trump Victory PAC during the general election, $2,700 to Trump’s primary election campaign (maximum amount permitted), $2,700 to Trump’s general election campaign (the maximum), and a total of $30,700 to the RNC in 2016 alone. Colonnetta’s wife, Kimberly, is no stranger to Republican politics either; shortly after Trump’s victory, she gave $33,400 to the RNC (maximum permitted) for party committees in 2016.

Colonnetta is not the only Republican connection to the controversial Whitefish contract. On Monday, The Washington Post reported that Whitefish Chief Executive Officer Andy Techmanski is friends with Trump administration Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (R-MT).

Moreover, Whitefish is located in Zinke’s hometown of Whitefish, MT (Hence: The Company’s name: Whitefish).

Related coverage:





My summary: I’m not saying (wink/wink) there is “corruption brewing there, there,” but corruption seems to be brewing there, there. How to solve it – how to get to the bottom of this apparent insider dealing and if so, it is totally unfair and certainly possibly illegal. A look-see is definitely called for this $300 million pending deal. That’s a lot of money.

The question is who will initiate a look-see.

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

"Only I Can Fix Things" /s/ Trump: Applies Silly Putty to VA Foundation

The Lincoln Quote: Was the basis for the VA
(Does it still apply under Trump, I wonder)

CinC and VA Secretary: Same Wall Conflicting Statements

This from the AP updates my notes on that which follows:

Trump has a huge tendency to overreach and fluff himself about his successes in office while the W/H and others almost daily correct and set the record straight – never have I seen any president lie and exaggerate as much as his man does for his self-promotion and pleasure at others’ expense (usually) – it comes naturally for him – which is the worst part. Examples:

During his Asian trip and especially while visiting Vietnam (at least Trump can now say he went to Vietnam – I guess his bone spurs are all nicely healed after 50 years, um?)

Trump told veterans of the Vietnam War that the VA quote “has made amazing strides and already is a whole new place.”

Short rebut: Those remarks and a White House progress report at the VA did not and have not acknowledged old problems that persist have been solved, let alone all addressed.

For example, a key effort to improve waiting times by revamping the VA's electronic medical record system may not be completed for eight more years — when Trump will be out of office. Here is a look at some other statements about the VA and other topics raised and bragged about by Trump which are false (my emphasis is added):

FROM THE WHITE HOUSE: “President Trump announced that the VA will adopt the same Electronic Health Record as DOD. VA's adoption will ultimately result in all patient data residing in one common system, enabling the immediate availability of service members' medical records and seamless care between the departments.”

THE FACTS: While the administration did announce in June that it would overhaul the VA's aging information technology system, VA Secretary David Shulkin admitted to Congress in October that the project to revamp electronic medical records won't be completed for seven to eight years, and the full costs of the project also are not known and have yet even been budgeted.
  
FROM THE WHITE HOUSE: “President Trump signed the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017, taking action to streamline the appeals process for disability compensation claims within the VA. More than 470,000 veterans are awaiting pending decisions regarding their appeals.”

THE FACTS: Trump signed the bill in August, part of a bid to reduce a rapidly growing claims backlog, but its immediate impact is overstated, as it will have no effect on the 470,000 pending claims.

Under the legislation, veterans will be able to file “express appeals if they waive their right to a hearing or the ability to submit new evidence.” While lawmakers hope the legislation ultimately could reduce average wait times to less than a year, it applies almost entirely and only for new appeals.  

VA Secretary Shulkin has said the VA would need Congress to approve an additional $800 million for “hiring surges of additional appeals processors if the VA hoped to clear its current backlog within 10 years.”

FROM THE WHITE HOUSE: “President Trump has ensured continued access to care in the Veterans Choice Program by signing the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act, authorizing $2.1 billion in additional funds for the Veterans Choice Program.”

THE FACTS: This statement glosses over one of several budget shortfalls by the VA. Congress was forced in August to approve $2.1 billion in emergency money to keep Choice running after the VA had repeatedly understated costs of the program, assuring lawmakers for much of the year that money would last until January. Shulkin subsequently revealed an emergency shortfall in June that threatened medical care for tens of thousands of veterans.

The $2.1 billion was intended to last until February. But weeks after receiving the money, the VA acknowledged that money for Choice would again run out sooner than expected, requiring Congress to approve additional stopgap financing before the end of the year or face disruptions to veterans' health care. Lawmakers have yet to act, in part as the Trump administration sorts out longer-term costs to the private-sector program.

FROM THE WHITE HOUSE: “The VA has launched its “Access and Quality Tool,” allowing veterans to see online the wait times at VA locations.”

THE FACTS: An effort started by Shulkin when he was VA undersecretary of health in President Barack Obama's administration, the VA website www.accesstocare.va.gov provides data on wait times as well as on veterans' satisfaction ratings in getting timely appointments, something that no other health care system in the country does. The VFW have faulted the data for being misleading and not depicting wait times the way a typical person would view it.

The GAO noted that the data do not include the amount of wait time from when a veteran initially asks for care and when a scheduler reaches out to set an appointment, which it said could be lengthy.

In addition, GAO earlier this year continued to find evidence that VA data can be unreliable because of schedulers recording wrong dates or changing dates outright, though the VA says it is implementing new checks and training to help identify “outliers in scheduling.”

FROM THE WHITE HOUSE: “The White House has opened a brand new VA Hotline staffed principally by veterans and direct family members of veterans to ensure that no complaint goes unaddressed.”

THE FACTS: It opened, but it did not get off to a smooth start. Trump pledged during the presidential campaign to create a “private White House hotline” answered by a real person 24 hours a day to take complaints from veterans, leading the VA to create a hotline beginning in June.

Originally scheduled to be fully operational by August 15, it has encountered some delays. In a letter to the VA last month, Sen. Jon Tester, the top Democrat on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, complained: “The White House is frequently routing these calls back to local VA offices, which are often understaffed and do not have the ability to address the additional casework in a timely manner.” 

My previous VA notes to show the conditions of Vets and the poor if not totally lousy support they get – and lest we forget – we have been in war now for over 16 years – think about that as you research the following:

Vets and the SNAP (Food Assistance Program):



How many veterans are on welfare: The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonprofit D.C.-based think tank, estimates that as many as 340,000 veterans rely on federal or state rental assistance. About 900,000 veterans live on food stamps, and an additional 5,000 active-duty service members are food stamp recipients.

H.R. 3016: The bill cuts the housing allowance for military children attending college and redistributes the money towards other programs such as (1) prenatal care for female veterans and (2) K-9 training.

Some in VFW don’t believe that is entirely a bad thing, saying in part: “We would never actively support any stand-alone provision that reduces benefits for Vets or service members, we feel that H.R. 3016, taken in its entirety, contained enough good provisions to support its passage.”

The American Legion, the organization that helped spearhead the very first iteration of the GI Bill after World War II and pass the Post-9/11 GI Bill in 2008 supports the bill and VFW, adding that this new bill adds a provision the current law lacks for example: for the first time count the time a reservist spends recovering in hospital from wounds and injuries toward GI Bill eligibility.

The IAVA, opposes the bill because it “robs Peter to pay Paul.” Other veterans groups such as VVA also agree that “cannibalizing” existing programs isn’t the way to go. More funding across the board is needed for all Vets and families.


My summary: Seems either the VA or the White House has a serious issue with the truth.

We have been at war for over 16 years – needs of the Vets will only grow as well as cost. What are we prepared to provide?
Apparently, political rhetoric is cheap but results are not – how much is your freedom worth?

Thanks for stopping – thank the next Vet you meet.