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Charles Rettig — Anna Moneymaker/Getty
❝ The IRS audits the working poor at about the same rate as the wealthiest 1%. Now, in response to questions from a U.S. senator, the IRS has acknowledged that’s true but professes it can’t change anything unless it is given more money.
❝ ProPublica reported the disproportionate audit focus on lower-income families in April. Lawmakers confronted IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig about the emphasis, citing our stories, and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., asked Rettig for a plan to fix the imbalance. Rettig readily agreed.
Last month, Rettig replied with a report, but it said the IRS has no plan and won’t have one until Congress agrees to restore the funding it slashed from the agency over the past nine years — something lawmakers have shown little inclination to do.
❝ On the one hand, the IRS said, auditing poor taxpayers is a lot easier: The agency uses relatively low-level employees to audit returns for low-income taxpayers who claim the earned income tax credit. The audits…are done by mail and don’t take too much staff time, either.
❝ On the other hand, auditing the rich is hard. It takes senior auditors hours upon hours to complete an exam. What’s more, the letter says, “the rate of attrition is significantly higher among these more experienced examiners.”…
With a White House, Senate, committed to kissing wealthy corporate butt, not much change in sight until Republicans are kicked out of power altogether. There will still be no shortage of battles with “centrist” who count on supplanting Republicans…offering the same services. Tweedledee and Tweedledum are still hard to tell apart.
“What if men had to undergo the same intrusive procedures as women?”
❝ A Texas lawmaker has proposed a bill that would fine a man $100 each time he masturbates.
The bill also imposes a 24-hour waiting period if a guy wants a colonoscopy or a vasectomy, or if he’s in the market for some Viagra.
Rep. Jessica Farrar, a Democrat, knows her bill isn’t going to get very far. But she proposed it last week to make a point and give male lawmakers a taste of their own medicine…
❝ Farrar has long been an advocate of women’s health in a state that has made it extremely difficult for women to get abortions. And the bill, by pointing out a sexist double standard, is meant to shine a light on the obstacles women deal with when it comes to their health care.
Say, “amen” sisters and brothers!
NY Gov. Cuomo’s top advisor sentenced to six years – Pickett/NYTimes
❝ Joseph Percoco, a former top adviser and confidant to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, was sentenced to six years in prison on Thursday in a case that cast a long and unflattering shadow over the Cuomo administration.
Mr. Percoco, 49, was convicted in March of soliciting and accepting more than $300,000 in bribes from executives of two companies with state business in return for taking official actions on the firms’ behalf.
❝ “I hope that this sentence will be heard in Albany,” Judge Valerie E. Caproni, of Federal District Court in Manhattan, said before sentencing.
She said the case had reached to the highest level of the executive branch. “Frankly, it’s not surprising that the citizenry of this state have absolutely lost faith in their government.”
My question, of course, is…Anyone surprised?
❝ U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela took a poison pen to the Republican presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump, in an open letter Monday morning.
“Mr. Trump, you’re a racist and you can take your border wall and shove it up your ass,” the Brownsville Democrat wrote in a lengthy missive to the real estate magnate.
❝ Later Monday, Vela elaborated on his remarks in an MSNBC interview.
“Well, I would have liked to have spoken in a much more diplomatic fashion, but I felt like I had to speak to Donald Trump in language he understands,” he said…
❝ Vela then pointed out that his own family lineage in the United States goes back farther than Trump’s paternal grandfather.
“Before you dismiss me as just another ‘Mexican,’ let me point out that my great-great grandfather came to this country in 1857, well before your own grandfather,” he wrote. “His grandchildren (my grandfather and his brothers) all served our country in World War I and World War II. His great-grandson, my father, served in the U.S. Army and, coincidentally, was one of the first ‘Mexican’ federal judges ever appointed to the federal bench.”…
More details in the complete article. Of course, I think the headline says it all. No time, no patience left to be tolerant of blather from bigots. That’s for people who care more about etiquette than equal opportunities. The latter is part of how this nation was founded.
You may recall we also told the Brits to stick taxation without representation up their ass, too. Too bad the so-called Tea Party plastic patriots are mostly cheapskate bigots who hate responsibility as much they hate paying taxes. Always ready for benefits without paying a fair share – or building a nation with a modern future.
Hector Balderas at Navajo Nation Police Headquarters
New Mexico’s Democratic attorney general on Friday charged Republican secretary of state Dianna Duran with embezzlement, fraud, money laundering and campaign finance violations, further widening a rift between the two over enforcement of the state’s laws governing campaigns.
Attorney general Hector Balderas’ office filed the 64-count complaint…in state district court in Santa Fe…
The attorney general’s investigation stemmed from a confidential tip received in July 2014. Duran was accused of funneling contributions intended for her campaign into personal accounts for her own use.
According to the complaint, the investigation centred on deposits of large amounts of cash as well as campaign contributions into both personal and campaign accounts controlled by the secretary of state. The movement of money often culminated with cash expenditures at casinos throughout the state, the complaint states.
Investigators obtained subpoenas for multiple casinos where Duran withdrew cash. Records show those electronic debits totaled more than $282,000 in 2014 alone. Another $147,641 was withdrawn in 2013.
The complaint also cites a series of detailed bank transactions as well as donations from supporters, calling into question Duran’s campaign finance reports.
I have no knowledge whatsoever where the tip came from. BUT – I almost wager dollars to donuts it involves the good old Bank Secrecy Act. Among other requirements, banks must report suspicious transactions to law enforcement.
In addition to the numerous felony and misdemeanour embezzlement and money laundering charges, Duran also faces counts of tampering with public records, conspiracy and violating the state’s Governmental Conduct Act…
Republican governor Susana Martinez said she has talked with Balderas about the charges against the secretary of state.
“These allegations are deeply troubling and concerning, and all relevant state agencies have and will continue to assist the attorney general throughout the process,” Martinez said in a statement…
State law requires that candidates’ reports list donations and expenditures. The public documents are also supposed to list the donations’ sources.
Balderas said his office had received only one criminal referral from the secretary of state for a violation of the reporting law.
A review by the Daily Times newspaper in Farmington also showed that Duran’s office collected only 4% of roughly 2,000 fines imposed on candidates during the 2012 and 2014 primary and general elections…
Duran, a former Otero County clerk and state lawmaker, is serving her second term as the state’s top elections official. She was the first Republican to be elected to the office in eight decades, inheriting an agency that had been plagued by scandal.
A stellar example of the inbuilt failings of our 2-party farce.
New Mexico voters – including many independents and progressives like me – voted for Duran as the only choice offered as an alternative to a Democrat Secretary of State notorious for her own corruption. The only reason she stayed in office was a Democrat AG – from one of our political royal families – who deliberately stalled out her indictments and trial until she could claim lack of timely due process and charges finally had to be dropped.
So, the Republicans offered up an alternative in Duran – when we would have voted for a prairie dog as an alternative to what Democrats offered.
What did we get? The same old, same old. More corruption, money laundering, embezzling payoffs. What do we need? An open primary system like those in many Western democracies, like the system used in California. We haven’t any independents or Greens capable of building a grassroots base for a 3rd or 4th party. At least let us have a primary system where the occasional Bernie Sanders-style independent might be allowed to run and win.
The corruption, liaison between thieves and reactionaries representing every interest but workers and working class families, has given us 2-party indoctrination for so many decades in American politics, young people must think real democratic participation is a foreign invention. To be feared, not embraced.
I’d love to be able to think of Election Day as an opportunity – not a half-hearted defense against the evil of two lessers.
Let’s hear it for Illinois!
Incoming Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner campaigned as a reformer of the state’s often corrupt politics – but, watchdog groups say activities surrounding his inauguration Monday are among the priciest of any incoming governor and take advantage of a loophole in campaign finance that allows wealthy special interests to gain access to those who hold political power…
Rauner, a Republican, is allowing corporate donors to kick in as much as $100,000 for inauguration events, and letting individuals spend up to $25,000.
It’s only about $10 million among friends. Who cares what that money could have meant to schoolkids or the unemployed? Certainly, not the governor or his buddies.
He is hardly alone. Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, a Democrat, will accept up to $50,000 per donor. Corporate sponsorship packages for inaugural events by Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, both Republicans, cost $30,000 and $25,000 respectively…
The price tag for gubernatorial inaugurations is dwarfed by presidential celebrations. President Barack Obama did not allow corporate donors for his first inauguration, though just 211 individuals covered 80 percent of the $35.3 million price tag. For his second inauguration, Obama accepted unlimited corporate donations.
Inauguration events are essentially private parties that are considered non-partisan and are funded by special committees. Under federal and state campaign laws, the inauguration committees are not required to disclose spending or donor names because the inauguration exists outside the election process. All money raised for the events is meant to cover expenses, with surpluses typically given to charity.
In recent years, the events have transformed from honorary banquets to ticketed, star-studded concerts and lavish balls. Donors gain access to events and also can get their names splashed in programs and across other marketing materials.
The process has created the perception that these are veiled opportunities for lobbyists and other corporate interests to curry favor with lawmakers…
What “created the perception” means, of course, is these are public displays of who actually holds the power of the state in their hands.
According to the Illinois Observer, Rauner and his wife are also hosting a private “business roundtable and reception” in Chicago this month that costs $25,000 per couple for both events.
Rauner Spokesman Mike Schrimpf says donors will be disclosed but would not say when. He also would not say where any surplus money would go.
I have occasionally posted, edited and participated in blogs and websites where Class Warfare is acknowledged. I admit, some of the sites that use my work not only deny such an analysis; but, the owners vigorously oppose the concept – and the reality.
Welcome to the United States of America at the beginning of the 21st Century.
Sooner or later, I am confident that more and more reality will intrude into the befuddled lives of ordinary Americans. Economic and social practices affecting all of us can’t be denied by beer commercials and glorious patriotic music forever. We are, after all, a species capable of learning from our mistakes.
I just hope it doesn’t take as long as the discovery that the Earth is round.
The Governor and the Cardinal — I don’t know which is which either?
So you’re New York Working Families Party (…nominal Democrat) Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and you decide that you need help with the ladies because you might underperform with them in the primary…And as we know, everything Cuomo is doing is based on the hilarious pretension that he’ll be a serious presidential candidate someday, so he must crush it this election. So what do you do?
Apparently, the answer is create a new party called the Women’s Equality Party. And wow, Cuomo is leading the ticket! Which would be okay I guess if the rest of the party’s slate was made up of women. But, uh, it’s not.
The cynicism of Cuomo’s plan to maintain his grip on the throne is rendered all the more glaring when you take a quick glance at the slate of politicians his pro-woman party is running: According to New York State’s Board of Elections, eight of the ten WEP candidates are men…
“You really can’t make this stuff up,” Zephyr Teachout said in a statement. “The governor is the number one reason the Women’s Equality Act failed. His Republican allies were the ones who blocked it, the Republican allies he supported over their Democratic counterparts. Most women, like me, probably find the whole thing offensive.”
It’s weird to have a governor so afraid to run on his actual record that he refuses to debate, doesn’t take media questions, and resorts to schemes like this one to … to what, exactly? To try and preserve the fiction that he’ll be president someday? Unfortunately for him, for all our faults, Democratic presidential primary voters have shown little inclination to nominate corrupt assholes.
Andrew Cuomo is the favorite Democrat – of New York Republicans. Instead of advancing anything progressive and possibly to the Left of the New York Republican Party, he apparently figures it’s useful to pass crap legislation which often has more support among Republicans than Democrats – than to fight for working folks and their families.
And he obviously expects this hypocrisy to get him elected President of the United States. As a Democrat.
Not that I think that couldn’t happen. I just think the hypocrisy stinks on ice.
The carp’s most important endorsement
Despite a slippery record, a 20-pound carp is running for office in Ann Arbor, Mich., as a write in candidate, the “candidate’s” campaign publicity indicates.
Although its publicist is a mystery, Mlive.com reported Sunday lawn signs and Internet publicity indicate voters in the city have a new option when they go to the polls Tuesday, to write in their vote for a “20-pound carp,” even though the fish has destruction of public property on its record.
The fish, Mlive.com reported, was removed from a pond in West Park in November 2012, because it was destroying the pond’s vegetation. It was then released into the Huron River, where it apparently developed a taste for politics.
Mlive.com reported the fish describes itself as a bottom feeder who is adept at using social media to get out its talking points.
The carp says it is focusing its campaign on the city’s fourth district, where Jack Eaton, a Democrat, is running unopposed.
“I’m amused. I have a sense of humor and I think it’s funny. I consider a 20-pound carp to be a substantial opponent and I wish him the best,” Eaton said.
Given the competition, we can assume the carp to be a Republican. The remaining question then – is the carp a conservative, libertarian or Tea Party neo-Confederate?