Trump’s July 4th party bankrupted DC’s security fund


Stephanie Keith/Getty

❝ Remember just a few weeks ago when the president planned a “my dicktatorship is bigger than yours” July Fourth event in which he wanted tanks and jets and sparklers and shit?

Well, it sounds like that whole thing has bankrupted the Washington, D.C., security fund as they have spent some $1.7 million reserved for protecting the nation’s capital from terrorist threats.

In a letter to the president Tuesday, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) warned that the fund has now been depleted and is estimated to be running a $6 million deficit by Sept. 30. The mayor also noted that the account was never reimbursed for $7.3 million in expenses from Trump’s 2017 inauguration.

Does ANYONE ever get Trump to pay his bill?

The Great Kansas Tea Party Debacle

Brownback_Cartoon

The Republican party headquarters in Wichita, Kansas, shares space in a strip mall with Best Friends Pet Clinic, a cowboy-boot repair shop and a Chinese restaurant called the Magic Wok. Inside, on a recent Wednesday afternoon, a modest gathering of party faithful mill about, I’M A BROWNBACKER stickers affixed to their blouses and lapels.

It’s a terrible slogan. Four years ago, when Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback first took office, you might’ve wondered if these people, on some subliminal level, actually wanted to be humiliated by a filthy-minded liberal activist looking to add a new “santorum” to Urban Dictionary. As a senator and a failed presidential candidate, Brownback was already one of the nation’s most prominent social conservatives, “God’s Senator,” in the words of a 2006 Rolling Stone profile. But Brownback turned out to be even more radical when it came to economic policy. In 2012, he enacted the largest package of tax cuts in Kansas history, essentially transforming his state into a lab experiment for extreme free-market ideology. The results (disastrous) have reduced the governor to making appearances at grim strip malls like this one in a desperate attempt to salvage his re-election bid.

The last time I came to Kansas, in March 2013, Brownback could often be found wandering the halls of the state Capitol, sporting one of his signature sweater vests, smiling and nodding at passing strangers or offering impromptu lectures to schoolchildren paused in front of the oil painting of John Brown, the fearsome Kansas abolitionist, that hangs outside his office. Here in Wichita, though, he looks exhausted. When he takes the stage, he squints out at the audience through puffy eyes. His Texas counterpart, Gov. Rick Perry, stands behind him, having been summoned north to help bail out Brownback’s flailing campaign…

Then the Texan steps to the podium and delivers a version of a speech I saw him give earlier this year in Kentucky, where he had been mobilized on a similar mission for Mitch McConnell. After boasting about all the jobs his policies have drawn to his state, Perry praises Brownback for placing Kansas on a similar “upward trajectory,”…

There are a couple of problems with Perry’s speech. First of all, he happens to be delivering it in Wichita, where, this summer, Boeing, for decades the largest private employer in the state of Kansas, shuttered its entire operation, shifting those jobs to cities like Seattle, Oklahoma City and San Antonio, Texas (oops).

The larger problem, of course, is that Perry wouldn’t even have to be here in Kansas if Brownback’s economic plan had not already proved catastrophic…not only cutting taxes but also slashing spending on education, social services and the arts, and, later, privatizing the entire state Medicaid system. Brownback himself went around the country telling anyone who’d listen that Kansas could be seen as a sort of test case, in which unfettered libertarian economic policy could be held up and compared right alongside the socialistic overreach of the Obama administration, and may the best theory of government win…

That word, “experiment,” has come to haunt Brownback as the data rolls in. The governor promised his “pro-growth tax policy” would act “like a shot of adrenaline in the heart of the Kansas economy,” but, instead, state revenues plummeted by nearly $700 million in a single fiscal year, both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s downgraded the state’s credit rating, and job growth sagged behind all four of Kansas’ neighbors. Brownback wound up nixing a planned sales-tax cut to make up for some of the shortfall, but not before he’d enacted what his opponents call the largest cuts in education spending in the history of Kansas.

Read ’em and weep, folks – except the good folks don’t deserve the tears. They knew what this idiot was going to do. Even though every previous attempt by a supply-side economics reactionary had failed – all the way up to and including Reagan’s guru, David Stockman. Read Mark Binelli’s whole article.

They voted Brownback into office. He did what he promised to do. The state now waits for bankruptcy, fully prepared to deal with nothing but more disaster, education system crushed, employers ready to flee.

Any history-literate cynic knows American aren’t well enough-educated to vote in their own economic interest. Our nation’s history of bigotry and racism aid the whole process. Reactionary demagogues who would only be considered fringe candidates in other Western nations regularly take their seats in Congress. But, still – Kansas voters outdid themselves with God’s favorite candidate.

Thanks, Mike

Feds take over the B’nai B’rith pension plan

The U.S. government’s takeover of B’nai B’rith International’s pension plan, which is more than $25 million in debt, raises serious questions about the long-term viability of the 169-year-old, once-giant Jewish organization.

The plan, which has about 500 participants, has $55.6 million in liabilities but only $30.1 million in assets. On Sept. 11, the federal government’s Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. said it would assume control of payments and raised questions about B’nai B’rith’s future.

“The agency stepped in because B’nai B’rith wouldn’t have been able to pay its bills or stay in business unless the plan was terminated,” it said in a posting that day on its blog…

Michael Faulkender, an associate professor of business at the University of Maryland, could not comment on the specifics of the B’nai B’rith situation, but he did say that the move “definitely creates concern about the long-term health of the agency because the PBGC would expect the company to make the pension whole if they had the ability to do so before stepping in and taking over…”

The PBGC guarantees all pension benefits up to the legal limit of $54,000 per year for a 65-year-old, according to congressional regulations…

B’nai B’rith has a vaunted history in American Jewish life, having started the Anti-Defamation League, the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization and what is now Hillel: The Foundation for Campus Jewish Life. All three have left the parent organization and now operate independently. The social activities of many hundreds of B’nai B’rith fraternal lodges — such as bowling leagues and community volunteer projects — were a staple of organized American Jewish life throughout much of the 20th century.

But membership, which in the 1970s was said to have stood at 500,000, has waned substantially. No current figures were available. In 2002, the organization sold its eight-story headquarters in Washington and moved into a suite of nearby offices…

In March 2011, B’nai B’rith’s then-president, Dennis Glick, resigned abruptly from his volunteer position after being indicted on five counts, including federal charges of tax fraud. Glick, a certified public accountant, was found guilty last October “of corruptly endeavoring to obstruct and impede the Internal Revenue laws and willfully preparing false tax returns.”

At the time, a B’nai B’rith spokeswoman said that Glick’s legal problems were private and had no connection to the organization.

I’ve witnessed the slow dying away of a number of old-timey ethnic and religious fraternal organizations. Nothing as abrupt or surprising as this. I always felt the B’nai B’rith would be around forever.

You know – on reflection – this also answers the claims made by conservative Jewish lobbyists that they can deliver the “Jewish Vote” as a block. Not anymore, man!

Bankrupt church will sell – and lease back – California campus


Isn’t one of those rules – You shall not steal?

Crystal Cathedral Ministries’ church and 40-acre campus will be sold to an Orange County real estate developer for $46 million but leased back by the church in hopes of recovering the landmark venue for its “Hour of Power” broadcasts, federal bankruptcy court filings disclosed Friday.

Greenlaw Partners of Newport Beach will lease the cathedral and other core elements of the property to the church administration for $212,000 a month and guarantee exclusive lease rights for 15 years, according to the Chapter 11 exit plan filed in Santa Ana.

The successors to founder Robert H. Schuller also retain the option of buying it back for $30 million within the next four years, although a major financial turnaround in the church’s fortunes would be necessary to afford repurchase. For the four months ending in April, the church’s net loss was $1.14 million…

The indebted church hierarchy also will sell a condominium it owns in Laguna Beach that was valued in the reorganization plan at $999,000…

More than 550 creditors were included in the filings, but only a handful were designated as eligible for full repayment…

Crystal Cathedral filed for bankruptcy protection in October, saying it owed creditors more than $50 million.

For the decades Robert Schuller ran this hustle, how much do you think he would have had to pay federal, state and local governments if the operation wasn’t exempt from taxes?

Even then, it managed to fall into bankruptcy. Cripes. How much longer will American taxpayers continue to subsidize religion?

Open up that unpaid storage unit – and find what?

Fulton County, Georgia – Nearly 100 boxes of cremated remains were found in an East Point storage unit.

The 96 boxes were left behind by Sellers Brothers Funeral home, which has gone out of business, WSB-TV said.

Neil Gordon, a bankruptcy attorney and the trustee for the funeral home, told WSB that his staffers were at the storage facilities looking for the funeral home’s financial records when they discovered the cremated remains instead.

Some of the cremated remains — or, cremains — date back as far as 25 years.

They deserve a proper burial,” Gordon told WSB. “Their loved ones deserve to know that their remains were handled properly.”

Uh, especially since those families probably forked over the money for that proper burial.

Student won’t have to repay loan – court says bank’s mistake!

A Canadian bankruptcy court ruled a Nova Scotia ex-student with bank loans worth $50,000 doesn’t have to pay it back as the bank wasn’t wise in issuing them.

What!?

Alfredo Abdo, now 23, took out the first loan worth $20,000 from the Royal Bank of Canada in Halifax in his second year studying engineering at Dalhousie University in 2004, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Despite having a grade point average of 4.06 and a scholarship, Abdo lost much of the loan through bad online investments, the court heard.

The bank then offered him a second loan of $30,000, which he took. After switching to commerce from engineering, Abdo told the court he began experiencing stress-related dizzy spells and he dropped out of school and couldn’t find work.

He filed for bankruptcy a year ago and now lives with his mother, the report said.

Bankruptcy registrar Richard Cregan ruled against the bank’s claims for at least a partial repayment.

Another good reason – I guess – for keeping my Canadian options open. Like if I ever want a loan I intend to default on.