Day 753 – Maher Nails It

Several times over the course of this blog I’ve tried to hammer home the fact that Democrats and Republicans are not remotely the same. The “both sides” argument is bogus, it’s a false equivalence that gave our district Diane Neal and is trying to give the 2020 race Howard Schultz.  In his “New Rules” segment last Friday, Bill Maher tackled the same point, so I’ve gone to the trouble of transcribing it for your reading pleasure…and because it’s Sunday night and I’m battling a case of Trump fatigue.  Here is the full text with video link below.  Enjoy.

New rule. Instead of saying both parties are equally to blame for the mess we’re in, just admit you haven’t really followed politics for the last twenty years.  Now, everyone is mad at Howard Schultz for thinking he can be the barista-in-chief but nobody is attacking his central premise: that we need an independent because both sides have become equally extreme.  Now I’m not here to pick on Howard, I don’t believe in kicking billionaires when they’re down, and besides, there’s some professional courtesy involved–I also was once a drug dealer.  But this idea of a pox on both their houses is just factually wrong.  There’s a pair of highly respected scholars named Norm Ornstein and Thomas Mann who have been analyzing Congress for half a century, always criticizing both parties in equal measure, but then around 2012 they began writing something very different, summed up in their article, “Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem.” They wrote, “the Republican party has become an insurgent outlier, ideologically extreme, scornful of compromise, unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science.”  Exactly.  Congress is not broken, the Republican party is broken. So when I hear Howard Schultz say “we are sitting today with approximately twenty-one-point-five trillion of debt, which is a reckless example not only of Republicans but of Democrats as well,” it’s obvious he just hasn’t done his homework.  Bill Clinton left office with a surplus.  Obamacare was paid for, and Obamas bank bailouts, necessary because of a Republican recession, were paid back.  Reagan, W and Trump all ran up huge debt with tax cuts for the rich and their party continues to practice trickle down economics long after evidence has shown it not to work.  Yes, evidence.  Only one side generally trades in reality anymore.  Trump has made over eight thousand false or misleading statements as President.  Nothing like this has every happened before.  Yes, all presidents lie to a degree but Trump is in a world of his own.  He’s Bob Beaman at the sixty-eight Olympics, breaking the long jump record by two feet.  He’s Babe Ruth hitting fifty-nine home runs when the previous record holder had twenty seven.  He’s…he’s…he’s Tom Brady winning six fucking Super Bowls. But this leveling of truth is a war being waged on Democracy by only one side.  Fifty-one percent of Republicans still believe in birtherism.  I once joked that Trump was the son of an orangutan and he sued me for it…but it didn’t become a foundational belief of the Democratic party!  A majority of Republicans believe Hillary ran a pedophile ring out of a pizza parlor.  They believe three million people voted illegally in 2016.  They believe reverse racism is a bigger problem than racism.  If you drew a Venn diagram of “insane” and “21st century Republican” it would be a circle.  Howard Schultz says both parties engage in revenge politics but it wouldn’t have even occurred to Democrats that you could simply refuse a president to fill a Supreme Court vacancy.  Mitch McConnell did that.  He said, “I know it’s in the Constitution. I don’t care. Make me.”  Both parties are not extreme–that’s extreme. Al Gore conceded the 2000 election for the good of the country.  Would Bush have?  Would Trump?  Only one party thinks it’s okay for presidents to have a side gig as a Russian agent.  Trump fired the head of the FBI for doing his job with the Russian investigation, then he had the Russians over and laughed about it.  That’s not a bi-partisan problem.  If Obama did it, he’d be in SuperMax now trading cigarettes with the Unibomber.  And are you really going to tell me that both sides are equally to blame for the state of the environment? One party trusts the science on climate change and the other asks, “How can Earth be warming if I’m holding a snowball?” So when you say they’re both equally bad just know that doesn’t make you a sage.  It’s a stupid person’s idea of a smart thing to say.  It’s a cheat that says you’re above it all when you’re really just too lazy to tell shit from shinola.  And it is the central fraudulent idea that allowed an outsider like Trump to get elected.  It’s one step up from “I don’t vote.” It’s like claiming that “I don’t read” makes you smarter.  And “I don’t shower” makes you smell good.

And here’s a link to the actual video:

Republicans are the problem so keep resisting…

Day 752 – Leading Ladies

Has there been a female Democrat running for any national office in the past, oh, twenty years that FOX and hate radio and the conservative right haven’t characterized as an evil, hysterical, shrill, unAmerican, unqualified, unlikable, unelectable harpy?  No, and the upcoming presidential election will be no exception. But despite the fact that this misogynist form of character assassination worked just well enough to keep Hillary Clinton from the White House (with overwhelming help from Russia), it’s reasonable to conclude that the Party Who Cried Harpy has exhausted all its mojo in the era of Me Too.  There are many exceptional women running for president in 2020 and they are not all bitches from Hell, as much as conservatives will try to paint them that way.

Elizabeth Warren announced her candidacy yesterday, and while she may or may not be the best candidate to take on Trump, as a brilliant policy formulator and effective communicator she towers over all of last cycle’s Republican contenders and is far more competent and qualified to be commander in chief than Donald Trump.  In fact, the same can be said for all of the women who have announced thus far, including Amy Klobuchar who is expected to announce today.

There are a lot of great male candidates in this cycle too, and if one becomes the nominee it would be easy to for vote any them over Don The Con.  But it’s starting to feel like the 2020 Democratic nominee will turn out to be one of the women.  It’s very early, but a narrative is emerging that only a woman can clean up the epic mess that Trump and his wrecking crew have created. While that narrative itself has an obvious sexist dimension, it’s also true that women have been particularly brutalized by the Trump regime, whether in the treatment of women’s reproductive rights and hostility toward Planned Parenthood by the Trump cabinet, the scaling back of sexual assault provisions at colleges by Betsy Devos, the treatment of Christine Blasey Ford during the Kavanaugh hearings, the lack of women among Trump judicial nominations, the outsized impact that Trump’s healthcare policies have on women, or the insults hurled by Trump at a disproportionate number of women that he resents (and fears).  The election of Trump was in many ways a result of sexism as much as it was of racism.

It’s also true that women have been the driving force behind the Resistance, and have taken local elections and the House of Representatives by storm.  Who will soon forget the bloc of women dressed in white during the State of the Union speech?  (Of course, those women were mercilessly attacked by right-wing social media — “The League of Nazi Socialist women who supported Hitler’s dream of a socialist paradise. They always went to public events dressed in white!”)

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it–there better be a female president before I leave this f***ing Earth.  And I’m hoping 2020 is the year. But it will only happen if we beat back all the bullshit that is already flowing from conservative trolls and Russian bots. Who the hell cares anymore about Elizabeth Warren’s heritage? Who the hell cares about Kamala Harris’ past boyfriends?  Who the hell cares about Kirsten Gillibrand’s likability, whatever that means? Who the hell cares if Amy Klobuchar is strict with her staff? It’s all just distraction. The President of the United States is an admitted pussy grabber.  He cheated on pregnant wife number three with a porn star.  Yet he got elected.  We have to demand a discussion of the issues, not the personalities. Because on the issues, Trump fails.  On the nicknames and faux outrage and ad hominem attacks and sleaze, Trump succeeds.  Keep in mind that the venom and bitterness Trump and his media surrogates hurl toward the Democratic women is in direct proportion to the terror they feel at the prospect of losing to a woman in the next election–just like they did in 2016.

The longest serving member of Congress ever, John Dingell, passed away last week. It’s not melodramatic to describe him as a national treasure.  And on his deathbed he dictated a final op-ed to his wife, which was published yesterday in the Washington Post.  Among other things, his words are a touching and profound reminder of how a true patriot and public servant looks at life in America in the shadow of Trump.  Here’s the link:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/john-dingell-my-last-words-for-america/2019/02/08/99220186-2bd3-11e9-984d-9b8fba003e81_story.html

Keep resisting…

Day 751 – Not With A Bang

Yesterday’s news was dominated by the Congressional testimony of acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, who was clearly outmatched buy House members. Trump only hires the worst people, and Whitaker is no exception.  Whitaker has never been confirmed by the Senate and is awaiting the likely confirmation of his replacement, William Barr.  But the grilling of Whitaker yesterday was notable.  Dana Milbank had the best take on it in WaPo:

Friday’s raucous, six-hour hearing was a vivid reminder that time has run out for the Trump administration. For two years, the GOP majority shielded Trump administration incompetence and worse from public view. That ends now.

Link to full editorial:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/matthew-whitakers-five-minutes-are-up/2019/02/08/ffdeb8e6-2bed-11e9-984d-9b8fba003e81_story.html

Of much greater import, the recent Supreme Court decision to stay the strict Louisiana anti abortion law while awaiting appeal has a lot of Pro Choice activists worried.  Justice Roberts joined the liberals on the court supporting the stay, but he may join the conservatives when it comes to the actual appeal.

The disputed Louisiana law provides a blueprint for the way partisan conservative activists on the court will try to chip away at Roe v Wade, as Leah Litman confirms in an editorial, again from WaPo:

That is how Roe v. Wade will die. Not with a bang, but with a million little distinctions that judges will draw to limit the impact of any cases that invalidate restrictions on abortion. By voting to allow the Louisiana law to go into effect, four justices gave the okay to states and lower courts to limit Roe by whatever means necessary.

Link to full editorial:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-so-called-victory-shows-how-the-supreme-court-will-kill-roe-v-wade/2019/02/08/9229852a-2bd3-11e9-b2fc-721718903bfc_story.html

It’s notable that the stay of the Louisiana law was dissented by Judge Kavanaugh.  Maine Senator Susan Collins continued to take abuse on social media yesterday for her vote to affirm Kavanaugh.  Collins and others pretended Kavanaugh wasn’t a partisan hack and judicial activist, but–shocker!–he clearly has no intention of following precedent and upholding Roe v Wade, instead appearing determined to get rid of Roe one way or another (and not for the sake of the Constitution but for the sake of his Catholic superstitions).

Kavanaugh is one of hundreds of judges vetted and approved by the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society, both of which are groups funded by the Koch Brothers. These groups pretend to be “think tanks” and wrap their organizations in important-sounding names and lofty rhetoric, but they are merely surrogates that exercise the power and prejudice of two billionaires who have so much money that they can effectively buy our courts and government. In fact, something like 80% of the judges nominated by the Trump regime are backed and recommended by a Koch group. When seen broadly, the Koch enterprise–like the Murdoch enterprise, the Sinclair media enterprise, the Mercer enterprise–is a deeply unAmerican, unDemocratic perversion rotting the heart of our democracy.  And the sooner we can get their dirty money out of our political system, the sooner our nation will work for the sake of people instead of greedy plutocrats.

Have a nice weekend and keep resisting…

Day 750 – Bezos, Roberts, Barr, Dingell, Robinson

In case you missed it, here are some highlights from yesterday’s news storm:

  • Amazon founder Jeff Bezos published letters to him from David Pecker, chairman of AMI (which owns the National Enquirer), demanding that Bezos stop publishing certain claims (presumably in the Washington Post, which Bezos owns) or else AMI would publish embarrassing stolen photos (including dick pics) of Bezos.  The letters essentially amounted to extortion, possibly criminal, and Bezos wasn’t going to sit idly by and take it.  This could be a really bad moment for Pecker and his legal team, who currently have a non-prosecution agreement with the Feds that requires them to not break the law, which could now be in jeopardy.
  • The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to halt enforcement of a severe Louisiana anti-abortion law, with Roberts siding, for now, with the liberals.  The law will probably end up before the Supreme Court, and Roberts could wind up siding with the conservatives, but yesterday’s ruling included a dissent written by Justice Kavanaugh, who is clearly aiming to beat back and overturn Roe versus Wade.  The dissent gave Maine Senator Susan Collins a black eye on social media as she was mercilessly and rightfully excoriated for having said during Kavanaugh’s confirmation that she would trust him to uphold precedent (Roe), a claim he took less than four months on the bench to obliterate.
  • Trump Attorney General nominee William Barr will proceed to a floor vote in Senate, having been approved along a party-line vote in Committee.  Barr has refused to agree to release all of the Mueller report once it’s issued, which deeply troubles many Democrats.
  • Legendary Democratic congressman John Dingell passed away at the age of 90.  He was the longest serving member of Congress, and was present for, and a catalyst of, many significant laws, and was beloved by many of his colleagues.
  • Legendary baseball player and first African American manager of a major league team Frank Robinson passed away at the age of 83.  Robinson was a trailblazing player and MVP, two-time World Series champ, as well as an incredibly effective and award winning coach.

Finally, as more people finish their taxes it seems clear that many more families are going to awaken to the horrible fact that the Trump Tax Scam has screwed them out of a lot of money.  Social media is awash with posts from people who always got refunds but who now own thousands of dollars.  These aren’t wealthy people who can afford to pay more.  These are middle class families, often homeowners, who are suddenly facing a big liability.  When politicians promise tax relief but instead screw a wide swath of people out of their hard earned cash, the screwed neither forgive nor forget.

Happy Friday.  Keep resisting…

Day 749 – Schiff Ups The Ante

Much of the news yesterday revolved around the aftermath of Trump’s State of the Union speech.  Speaker Pelosi received praise on social media for “clapping” at Trump at the end of his speech in a way that was polite yet indignant.  Then there were the predictable criticisms of Democratic women, including conservative Peggy Noonan throwing shade on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter:

AOC had a rare bad night, looking not spirited, warm and original as usual but sullen, teenaged and at a loss.

AOC tweeted an epic reply:

Why should I be “spirited and warm” for this embarrassment of a #SOTU?  Tonight was an unsettling night for our country. The president failed to offer any plan, any vision at all, for our future. We’re flying without a pilot.  And I’m not here to comfort anyone about that fact.

Of greater importance yesterday was likely the announcement by House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff that his committee will broaden the scope of their Trump inquiry beginning with these “threads”:

(1)    The scope and scale of the Russian government’s operations to influence the U.S. political process, and the U.S. government’s response, during and since the 2016 election;

(2)    The extent of any links and/or coordination between the Russian government, or related foreign actors, and individuals associated with Donald Trump’s campaign, transition, administration, or business interests, in furtherance of the Russian government’s interests;

(3)    Whether any foreign actor has sought to compromise or holds leverage, financial or otherwise, over Donald Trump, his family, his business, or his associates;

(4)    Whether President Trump, his family, or his associates are or were at any time at heightened risk of, or vulnerable to, foreign exploitation, inducement, manipulation, pressure, or coercion, or have sought to influence U.S. government policy in service of foreign interests; and

(5)    Whether any actors – foreign or domestic – sought or are seeking to impede, obstruct, and/or mislead authorized investigations into these matters, including those in the Congress.

Here’s the full text of the House Committee on Intelligence news release:

https://intelligence.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=447

It’s notable that number (5) includes domestic actors who impeded the investigation “including those in Congress,” which could be a direct shot at former Chairman Devin Nunes, who many feel did some shady stuff while in control of the committee.

Trump quickly attacked Schiff, calling him a political hack who’s trying to make a name for himself.  But it was clear Trump was terrified.  Trump said long ago that looking into his personal finances and business interests would be “crossing a red line.”  Which made sense considering that Trump spent his career rubbing shoulders with mobsters and Russian gangsters.  Of course he was terrified, and the speed and fury of his response was a clear indication of his feeling of vulnerability and jeopardy.

Adding to Trump’s anxiety should be the other interesting news item yesterday.  Paul Erickson was indicted for wire fraud and money laundering charges related to businesses he ran in South Dakota that were supposed to help seniors and the disabled.  The charges related to crimes that allegedly occurred while Erickson was a member of the Trump team, and Erickson’s Russian girlfriend Maria Butina has already been indicted on spying charges and is awaiting trial.  So many are speculating that the charges against Erickson may eventually expand to include activities related to Butina, none of which would be welcome news to the Trump regime.

Every week the law gets a little closer to Trump and his family, who are now being investigated in something like seventeen separate inquiries.  It’s not because a vast conspiracy is out to get poor Trump. It’s because Trump and the people around him are deeply crooked, and have been for a long time.

Stay tuned and keep resisting…

Day 748 – Nothing New From Trump

Last night’s State of the Union address was nothing new from Trump.  The speech was little more than a rehash of his campaign rally stump speech.  It didn’t help that his teleprompter delivery was awkward and haltingly slow–like a sixth grader reading from scribbled notes.  In fact, it seemed as if he really didn’t understand the contents of what he was reading, having to try so hard just to focus on reading the scroll coherently.  And when the contents of his speech weren’t the usual “American carnage” fear-mongering and immigrant bashing, his speechwriters had him saying things that he would never say, much less formulate in his mind.  In short, it was a long, boring, slow-motion disaster.

Far better was the Democratic rebuttal by Stacey Abrams.  Here is just one highlight of her speech:

“Making livelihoods of our federal workers a pawn for political games is a disgrace. The shutdown was a stunt, engineered by the president of the United States, one that defied every tenet of fairness and abandoned not just our people but our values.”

Full text of her speech here:

https://www.politico.com/interactives/2019/stacey-abrams-state-of-the-union-2019-response-fact-check-transcript-2/5/19/

It was amazing to see all of the Democratic women Representatives wearing white to commemorate women’s suffrage.  They looked imposing, like a battalion ready to storm government and make much-needed change, led by Speaker Pelosi, whose unflinching presence behind Trump lent a calming and dignified aspect to an otherwise sordid waste of time. The women sat in stark contrast to the Republican side of the aisle, which was a homogeneous sea of old white men whose leering faces cheering an arrogant, lying, awkward president couldn’t mask the desperation and discomfort they seemed to feel in the presence of such opposing diversity–and such looming legal jeopardy.

It’s a safe bet that the SOTU speech won’t change much.  The myriad investigations will continue onward, more indictments will drop, Trump will return to his usual vengeful and divisive Tweets, and we will see if he is stupid enough to call for a national emergency to try to secure his wall funding–a ploy many Republicans are now publicly opposing.

Congressman Antonio Delgado tweeted this after the speech:

The State of the Union is a time for the President to reflect upon the shared goals of our nation and how Congress and the Administration can best serve the people. While I wish the President’s speech had focused more on what brings us together, I was glad to hear him discuss some key issues that I think we can all agree to prioritize, like reducing the price of prescription drugs and strengthening our infrastructure. Issues like these that directly affect Upstate New York are what I’m focused on as a Member of Congress. That’s why I brought Michael Hickey as my guest, a hero in our community who brought to light the water contamination crisis we know today in Hoosick Falls. Day-in and day-out, I will continue to prioritize protecting our water infrastructure and other critical matters that I hear from the people of my district, from expanding rural broadband to supporting our farmers to improving access to quality health care.

In other news, Senator Amy Klobuchar will be making a big announcement in Minneapolis this Sunday, presumably throwing her hat into the ring for the Democratic nomination.  She will surely be yet another formidable candidate.

Keep resisting…

Day 747 – Backed Into A Corner

On the day before Trump’s State of the Union speech, news broke that prosecutors from the Southern District of New York issued a subpoena to the Trump Inaugural Committee to see donor records, looking to see if any contributors to the inauguration were foreign, which would be against the law.  Apparently there are ways to hide or disguise donors that investigators want to delve into to see if there was any subterfuge.

In an interview with ABC for the Super Bowl, Trump dismissed his legal troubles and claimed that he can’t be impeached because he hadn’t committed any “high crimes or misdemeanors.”  Yet he remains an unindicted co-conspirator in two felony Federal Election Fraud charges. If he weren’t president, he would have been arrested and hauled to court along with his longtime attorney Michael Cohen.  So regardless of what comes to light in the future, the Senate already has solid cause to impeach Trump from the Cohen charges alone. He’s cornered.

It’s important to keep in mind that the Mueller probe has already produced 37 indictments!  If I were in Nancy Pelosi’s shoes, I would give all of my fellow House Democrats a small lapel pin of the numeral “37” to wear tomorrow during the State of the Union speech.  It would be sensational.

It also came to light over the weekend, thanks to a leak to Axios disclosing three months of Donald Trump’s private schedule, that Trump is laziest do-nothing president in a generation, if not longer.  Aside from all his golfing, Trump spends hours a day watching TV and calling his friends to see “how he’s doing.”  And according to reports, he no longer gets briefings from a wide array of agencies that any other president would deem crucial.  The security implications of that claim are horrifying.

Fortunately, a solid majority of Americans are opposed to Trump, and the numbers continue to grow against him. Fully 57% of Americans state that they will NOT support Trump in the 2020 election.  If that number holds constant, his chances of re-election are slim.  Here is a great breakdown of recent polling from Jennifer Rubin in WaPo:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/02/04/americans-have-wised-up-when-it-comes-trump/

On so many fronts, Trump is screwed.  His latest plan, to declare a national emergency to fund his border wall vanity project, is getting significant push-back from Republicans.  The know he will likely be out of office by Jan of 2021 and they don’t want a new Democratic president to declare a national emergency for, say, climate change.  So they are urging Trump not to set a dangerous precedent.  Good luck with that.

We will see what surprises Trump has in store for us tonight in the SOTU.  I predict a lot of blather interspersed by immigrant fear-mongering.

Don’t waste your time watching Trump, but keep resisting…