Colbert, Stewart Try to Be Nice About Trump, Fail

This is just priceless. I miss Jon Stewart so much.

President Donald Trump, your wish is Stephen Colbert’s command. On Monday’s edition of The Late Show on CBS, Colbert made like the Genie in Aladdin and granted Trump’s wish for “equal time” praising him and the Republican party. Trump tweeted Saturday that late-night talk show hosts’ negative coverage of his presidency is playing into the Democratic… Continue reading “Colbert, Stewart Try to Be Nice About Trump, Fail”

NRA supports banning bump stocks

As if the massive hurricanes, earthquakes and volcanoes threatening to erupt haven’t already given the last few months an apocalyptic air, now comes news that the NRA has told Republican members of Congress that they are supportive of additional regulation for “…devises designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully automatic rifles…

GOP tiptoes into gun restriction debate, with NRA blessing

WASHINGTON — The National Rifle Association gave Republicans a green light to review whether a device used by the Las Vegas shooter should be made illegal. It was a surprising turn for the gun lobby, one of the most powerful organizations in U.S. politics, and it allows congressional Republicans to consider banning the “bump stock,” which… Continue reading “NRA supports banning bump stocks”

Comments on the New York Times’ Open Letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

The New York Times Editorial Board has written an open letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about the daunting task he faces now that James Comey has been fired and Mr. Trump has muddied the investigative waters that much further. I wanted to add my own voice to the chorus in hopes that if enough people speak up, it might help with fortifying the courage it will take to see this done right,

First, an excerpt from the NYT Editorial Board’s letter:

Given your own reputation for probity, you must be troubled as well by the broader pattern of this president’s behavior, including his contempt for ethical standards of past presidents. He has mixed his business interests with his public responsibilities. He has boasted that conflict-of-interest laws do not apply to him as president. And from the moment he took office, Mr. Trump has shown a despot’s willingness to invent his own version of the truth and to weaponize the federal government to confirm that version, to serve his ego and to pursue vendettas large and small.

When Mrs. Clinton won the popular vote by nearly three million votes, for instance, he created a Voter Fraud Task Force to back up his claim that the margin resulted from noncitizens voting illegally (the task force has done nothing to date). When there was no evidence for his claim that President Barack Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower, Mr. Trump demanded that members of Congress put their work aside in order to dig up “facts” to support it.

Firing Mr. Comey — who, in addition to leading the Russia investigation, infuriated Mr. Trump by refusing to give any credence to his wiretapping accusation — is only the latest and most stunning example. The White House can’t even get its own story straight about why Mr. Trump took this extraordinary step.

My comments:

This is an excellent letter, and I can only pray to the gods of Justice that Mr. Rosenstein will take his responsibility seriously and serve the country with dignity and honor.

It is just as important for the country to know if, as Mr. Trump insists, there is nothing to be found in any communications, business relations or other ties with Russia that are illegal or inappropriate, as it is to learn if there are. Finding the truth, whatever it may be, is the only way for the nation as a whole to have confidence that our government is working on our behalf and not the behalf of a nation that has long been hostile to us and our democratic aims.

Mr. Trump does no one – least of all himself – any favors by constantly trying to block investigations, distract people with accusations for which he can offer no support, shifting blame to others who clearly bear no responsibility or any of the other disruptive tactics he’s used. Mr. Rosenstein must find a way to neutralize Mr. Trump’s interference, and the best and most fair way would be to bring in an independent investigator and provide him or her with whatever support or resources are needed to finally answer the very valid and important questions that have been raised by the actions taken and attempts to explain those actions made by Mr. Trump’s campaign staff and administration .

Students Promised Help with Student Loans May Not Get It Due to Agency Error

Image of students at graduation. Photo by: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Photo by: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

This is a truly rotten – and inexcusable – situation. Thousands of students entered a government program in which the remainder of their student loans would be forgiven if certain conditions were met after they’d worked in public service jobs and made 120 monthly payments (which would take 10 years.) Be sure to remember that last part – it’ll be important in a couple of paragraphs.

Anyway, they had to use a specific kind of loan and have their job approved through the agency administering the program. Whether a job qualified or not depended on the nature of the organization, and not all non-profit corporations were eligible. They were also told to re-submit their job each year for recertification of eligibility in case anything changed. Even with the red tape, for many, the possibility of having the balance of the loans forgiven was an attractive offer – attractive enough that several took jobs they would have otherwise passed over because they qualified for the program.

Or so they thought.

According to the New York Times

In a legal filing submitted last week, the Education Department suggested that borrowers could not rely on the program’s administrator to say accurately whether they qualify for debt forgiveness. The thousands of approval letters that have been sent by the administrator, FedLoan Servicing, are not binding and can be rescinded at any time, the agency said.

The filing adds to questions and concerns about the program just as the first potential beneficiaries reach the end of their 10-year commitment — and the clocks start ticking on the remainder of their debts.

FedLoan claims that in some cases, students had been told their job qualified in error and that the denial of certification was retroactive. And here’s where those 120 monthly payments become important. Those payments had to be made while they were working at a qualified job, so when their previously approved job suddenly became retroactively un-approved, none of the monthly payments they made during that time could be counted toward the total 120 monthly payments they had to make for the balance to be forgiven. Worse, they were given no avenue to appeal the decision. As you can imagine, there’s now a lawsuit that’s been filed.

This is a program that started in 2007 and while it may sound like the kind of horror story likely to be told many times and in many ways as long as the Trump administration is in office, but it’s not. This year is the first year any students could receive the promised forgiveness of the balance of their loans, and the announcement that the certifications participants have been getting may be worthless came out in December. The Trump DoE isn’t helping matters by sticking to the decision that the wrongful approvals are retroactive and the documents can’t be relied on, but it’s actually a sad legacy that the Obama Department of Education has left behind.

I hope this situation is worked out fairly – and quickly. I wouldn’t even want to imagine how bewildering – not to mention infuriating – it would be to have worked as many as 10 years at a job that wasn’t my ideal job, but one which I had taken as part of an agreement to provide public service in exchange for the forgiveness for a portion of my loans, only to find out I may have essentially wasted all of that time. These weren’t people looking for a handout or a free ride on the taxpayers dime. They’ve made 10 years of payments on their loans, and they held up their end of the bargain. Now the government needs to do likewise.

More details can be found at this NYT article from when the news first broke in December.