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Day 1117 – Trump’s Budget Exposes His Lies

It used to be said that Social Security was the Third Rail of American politics.  When a politician tries to touch Social Security they risk blowing themselves up.  And that’s why Trump has lied and lied and lied about his plan to “protect” Social Security.  We know he’s lying because his actions speak louder than words.  His latest 2021 fiscal budget slashes a number of vital safety-net programs including Social Security and this is one of the areas where Trump is most vulnerable in November’s election.

Trump’s budget makes the following cuts:

  • Medicare cut by $480 billion over 10 yrs
  • Medicaid cut by $920 billion over 10 yrs
  • Social Security cut by $30 billion
  • Student loan spending cut by $170 billion
  • Affordable Care Act funding cut by $844 billion
  • National Cancer Institute finding cut by $560 million

Here’s a good summary in the Washington Post:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/trump-budget-cuts-funding-for-health-science-environment-agencies/2020/02/10/9c8dd784-4c2d-11ea-b721-9f4cdc90bc1c_story.html

These would be devastating cuts if Congress ever passed them–which won’t happen as long as Democrats control the House–but they expose the moral bankruptcy at the heart of Trump’s dishonest agenda.  He lies to our face and stabs us in the back, especially those of us who are the most vulnerable.

These budget numbers are valuable and Democratic politicians should latch onto like glue. “Trump promised to protect our safety net and then stabbed us in the back with his budget. He’s a liar who pretends to care about regular people and then screws them when they’re not looking.”

Meanwhile, a new scandal from Trump’s corrupt administration is erupting in the Bureau of Land Management where a whistleblower has said of the BLM, “the laws of the United States are being disregarded for the professional expediency of his superiors and the benefit of private parties, and that a culture of lawlessness has been engendered.”

Here’s an overview by Colin Kalmbacher in Law & Crime:

https://lawandcrime.com/high-profile/trump-admin-braces-for-new-whistleblower-controversy/

“The fish rots from the head,” as the old saying goes, so it’s not surprising that an agency of Trump’s administration would be as sleazy and corrupt and lawless as the Orange Stain himself.  But it’s important to continue to expose and call out all of these outrageous examples of graft.  Expect to hear more of this story.

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”

Day 1116 – How We Win

Trump spent much of the weekend in an extended post-impeachment Twitter tantrum, railing on his “enemies” and trying desperately to puff himself up.  When Trump goes on a bragging tirade full of lies, it’s usually because he feels insecure and threatened, and this weekend was a textbook case.

Trump fired and police-escorted from the White House Colonel Alexander Vindman, decorated combat veteran and member of the National Security Council who testified in the impeachment hearing, along with Vindman’s twin brother, also a member of the military.  The firing was clearly in retaliation for Vindman’s House testimony and it created a firestorm of criticism on social media and cable TV.  Critics expressed near universal outrage that President Bone Spurs would treat a purple-heart veteran in such an obviously disrespectful and vengeful way, and Trump went bragging to offset the negative coverage. In his heart Trump knows he’s a scumbag and a dimwit, so he despises being contrasted with real heroes–or anybody of substance, really. The firings were entirely predictable and consistent with Trump’s (lack of) character but they merited a public outcry nonetheless.  We can’t let him normalize conduct unbecoming the presidency.

As the Democratic challengers careen into primary season a debate rages over the best way for the eventual nominee to beat Trump.  Every candidacy and campaign boils down to a few points of emphasis, like Obama’s “Yes We Can” and Trump’s “Build The Wall,” so it makes sense for activists to separate out and mute losing issues while pushing winning issues to our candidates.  For example, healthcare should be at the center of the discussion.  Climate change should be at the center of the discussion.  But any version of Open Borders should not.  Yes, we all know immigration is broken and needs a massive fix, but telling our fellow Americans that it’s a priority to let everyone into our country at all times and give them federal money unless and until they get on their feet is lunacy–especially when the issue is enraging and motivating for so many in the Trump Party.  It’s an important issue, and yet it’s a loser when there are so many other winners.

Nicholas Kristof did an excellent job in Saturday’s New York Times of identifying one of the core issues that Democrats should own this election cycle. While the Trump economy is cruising right along and the stock market is hitting new highs, a huge chunk of the nation is not participating in the spoils.  In fact, life expectancy is going down at a higher pace than it did during the Great Depression, with suicide rates and opioid addiction at shocking levels.  Why?  Kristof writes:

These deaths are symptoms of a larger economic malaise for working-class Americans that predates Trump. It’s not his fault, but neither has he tried seriously to address it; in some ways, especially in health care, he has worsened it. Important new research finds that 20 million Americans, particularly those with low levels of education, describe all 30 of the last 30 days as “bad mental health days.”

Full article here:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/08/opinion/sunday/trump-economy.html

A large chunk of America has been left behind.  I still can’t get over the statistic from Friday’s blog, that a shocking 40% of Americans can’t cover a surprise expense of $400. Forty percent! In other words, if you have car trouble or a tooth ache or a sick child or a broken pipe, you have to decide between getting help and eating.  No wonder so many Americans are anxious.

The Democrats need to tackle this issue head on and beat it into the ground.  Our healthcare plans make sure that nobody goes hungry or worse–bankrupt–from a medical procedure.  Our fiscal plans mean that if you lose a job and can’t find another quickly, you and your family won’t go hungry.  Our priorities for the social safety net mean that you won’t be forced to live destitute in old age because inflation–or the Trump Party–ruined your Social Security.

The demographic most affected is the non-college educated working class American, and while Trump’s lies about prosperity must seem shiny and appealing, they won’t ever help get this group get to a better place.  It will take job re-training, a raising of the minimum wage, and stronger collective bargaining.  It will take higher taxes for the rich and better support services for the working poor.

It’s been the case for several years that, contrary to our national myth of the Land Of Opportunity, upward mobility in the USA has lagged way behind other countries. Even class-stratified Britain has better upward mobility that we do! No wonder people near the bottom of the ladder feel despair, and when Rupert Murdoch’s Fox lie-machine blames that despair on immigrants or libtards or feminists it only deepens the rift and sours the outlook.

We can’t win with free college or open borders or wonky policy footnotes, as important as all of those are.  We can win by showing working class Americans that our agenda–in contrast to Trump’s deceptions–will make the playing field more level and give them a shot at a life that isn’t just lived from paycheck to paycheck.

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”

Day 1113 – Lies of Consequence

Trump went on a vengeance tantrum yesterday.  He started by making disparaging comments at the National Prayer Breakfast directed at Nancy Pelosi and Mitt Romney, insulting their beliefs and prayer life while exposing his own unfamiliarity with and ignorance of the core of Christianity.  Later at a rambling, blithering press conference, Trump ranted for over an hour at those people he felt harmed by who deserve payback and punishment for offending the Orange King.

When he’s not screaming some version of, “So unfair, so unfair!”, Trump is often lying about the basic facts of his presidency, as he did in droves during his recent State of the Union speech.  Since his lies are likely to be the centerpiece of his re-election campaign, we need to understand the truth and be able to rebut his lies on these important issues.  Here are some of the biggies:

  • Trump claimed that he produced an economic “turnaround” from a failed Obama economy. Nothing could be further from the truth.  During the last three years of Obama’s tenure:  A) The unemployment rate dropped faster under Obama than Trump.  B) Obama had faster job growth than Trump.  C) Obama had a higher average GDP than Trump.  Trump inherited economic momentum and his only influence was to slow it down.
  • Trump claimed the unemployment rate is the lowest in American history.  It’s not. It was well below 3% during President Eisenhower’s first term.
  • Trump claimed to be presiding over a “blue-collar boom” but in the manufacturing sector this is blatantly false.  Trump’s disastrous trade war and stupid tariffs have hurt our manufacturing sector and caused job losses while blue-collar factory workers have seen their real weekly pay declining.
  • Trump claimed to be supporting pre-existing condition protections while his administration sues in court to have them stripped from our health care laws.
  • Trump claimed that the Tax Scam was the biggest tax cut ever.  It wasn’t.  The 1981 Reagan tax cut was the biggest as a percent of GDP, followed by Obama tax cuts in 2012 and 2010.
  • Trump claimed to have made the USA the number-one producer of oil in the world.  But we became number one under Obama, not Trump.

As we head toward the November election, keep in mind that a new study by Capital One shows 77% of Americans feel anxious about their finances.  In fact, a shocking 40% of Americans can’t cover a surprise expense of $400.  Many people are currently employed, but a large number of those jobs are shaky minimum wage or temporary or non-salary jobs that have no benefits and are not enough, on their own, to sustain a human life.  These are the people who are living scared and who will be helped by progressive policies if we can get the message across.

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”

Have a great weekend.

Day 1112 – Unexpected Courage

As expected, the Senate voted yesterday to acquit Trump of both impeachment charges.  But one last surprise remained, brought to us by Senator Mitt Romney.  Apparently without tipping off Moscow Mitch or the White House, Romney held a press conference just before the final impeachment vote to tell America that he was going to vote to remove president Trump on the abuse-of-power article.  Romney’s speech was powerful, emotional and to the point.  “He did it,” Romney said, stating that Trump was “guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust.”  His full speech is worth listening to.  Here’s coverage in the New York Times:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/05/us/politics/romney-trump-impeachment.html

By voting to remove Trump, Romney became the first Senator in US history to vote to remove a president of his own party.  I’ve rarely been in agreement with Mitt Romney’s policy choices or politics, but his decision was a welcome and commendable act of courage and principle.  He has already received withering criticism from members of his own party, including Trump Jr who wondered on Twitter if they could throw him out of the GOP.  But in reality, the Trumps and their supporters have mutated the Republican party into something entirely different and malignant anyway, the Trump Party, where dissent or even mild criticism is cause for seething resentment and termination.  But Romney made his decision fully aware of the abuse that would ensue.

Democrats, however, were jubilant that at least one conservative had the backbone to stand up to Trump and do the right thing.  Stephen Colbert took a serious detour in his monologue last night to praise and thank Romney for standing on the right side of history–it’s worth watching if you can find it.

Another act of political courage yesterday came from Alabama Senator Doug Jones, Democrat, who voted to remove Trump despite Trump’s high approval rating in Alabama.  Jones won his seat by a razor thin margin and is up for re-election in November, so his principled vote may have big consequences for his job and for the balance of power in Congress.

Despite a formal end to the impeachment process, Rep Gerry Nadler hinted yesterday that the House may yet subpoena Ambassador John Bolton to testify before a House committee, but it remains likely that Bolton will fight a House subpoena, a process that could take months, if not years, to resolve.  But every day, more evidence emerges to corroborate what we already know about Trump’s misdeeds.  Yesterday more emails surfaced showing that career officials in the OMB were concerned and frantic about the mystery hold placed on US aid to Ukraine–because they all knew something smelled fishy and possibly unlawful.  Expect a steady drip-drip-drip of such stories in the days ahead.

The only way to remove Trump now is at the ballot box.

Keep resisting and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”

Day 1111 – Limbaugh? Disgraceful.

Another new low.  Trump used his State of the Union Speech last night to spew a stream of lies about the economic success he inherited from President Obama, followed by a newer version of “American carnage” describing illegal immigrants killing our women and children, followed by game-show theatrics like re-uniting a soldier with his family in front of the cameras. Trump Party supporters treated the night like a screaming MAGA rally while Democrats mostly sat with folded arms. Before the speech, Trump refused to shake Speaker Pelosi’s hand.  After the speech, video captured Speaker Pelosi casually ripping Trump’s speech in half.  Trump Party supporters were mad at Pelosi for shredding the speech, while Democrats were mad at the Trump Party for shredding the Constitution.

The lowest point of the evening came when Trump announced that he was giving the Presidential Medal of Freedom to his buddy Rush Limbaugh, newly diagnosed with cancer, who was in the audience.  Limbaugh spent the last three decades sowing fear and hatred on the radio–for tremendous profit–and his countless disgusting lies and smears are notorious.  He’s part of an aging white male club of phony macho wannabes desperate to appear tough and “manly” while demeaning every other group of people on the planet. Giving him a freedom medal is like giving Bernie Madoff a finance medal.  It’s an ugly stain on an otherwise prestigious award, and another signal from Trump to his base that he’s the most vile, cruel scumbag they could ever want in the Oval Office.  Disgraceful.

Meanwhile in Iowa, where the voting debacle continued, only 71% of the vote tally had been registered by midnight, and Pete Buttigieg was in the lead with Bernie Sanders a close second and Elizabeth Warren in third.  Joe Biden under-performed in fourth place and Amy Klobuchar came in fifth.  I’m not sure Mayor Pete can build enough momentum from Iowa to win elsewhere, but his appeal to Iowa voters can’t be ignored.  I loved Barack Obama, and I like and greatly respect Mayor Pete.  We’ve already elected the first African American President and now I can’t help but lament the possibility of electing the first gay male President before we’ve ever elected a woman to the White House.  I think of all the shit my single mother went through, all of the risks my activist grandmother took, and on and on, and we are still debating whether a woman can be electable, much less elected. It’s not Mayor Pete’s fault, and I take nothing away from him, but when the fuck are we going to have a woman President?  I hope to be around for at least a few more decades, but if I leave this Earth without seeing a woman in the White House I will be supremely disappointed.  This failure speaks to a persistent and pernicious misogyny that continues to infect our nation in ways both blatant and maddeningly subtle.  Will it ever end?

Aside from the politics of gender, the Democratic race is taking shape.  As voters grasp for the most electable candidate, it seems the Democrats are trying to solve this central dilemma:  Is it better to nominate a far-left candidate and risk alienating moderates and independents, or is it better to nominate a centrist and risk alienating the Bernie Bros?  Let’s all hope we get the answer right.  As Trump’s ugly lie-fest reminded us last night, democracy, equality and the truth itself hang in the balance this November.

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”

Day 1110 – A Man Without Character

By the time you read this Democratic primary contenders might have the results of the Iowa Caucus, but as of 3 a.m. on Tuesday the results were still not in.  Reporting suggested that one big problem occurred when caucus heads tried to report results to a phone-in system that was hopelessly backlogged.  Caucus heads also had the option of reporting results on a phone app, and it might be the case that the app also had issues.  Either way, the screw up had a lot of people angry last night and of course a few conspiracy theorists wondered if the system had been hacked (Democratic officials in Iowa said it had not) while a certain political camp suggested that the results were being fixed (you can guess which camp).  Either way, it was a bad start to the primary season.

Despite the glitch, entry and exit polling suggested that Sanders, Warren and Buttigieg did well while Biden underperformed expectations.  So we should know sometime today if the polling matches the actual results.

House Democrats wrapped up their impeachment closing arguments yesterday in the Senate, and once again Rep Adam Schiff did a masterful job of appealing to whatever ethics or scruples might still be lingering in the hearts of Trump Party Senators, noting that history will not be kind to Trump:

“We must say enough — enough! He has betrayed our national security, and he will do so again. He has compromised our elections, and he will do so again. You will not change him. You cannot constrain him. He is who he is. Truth matters little to him. What’s right matters even less, and decency matters not at all.  You are decent.  He is not who you are. Can we be confident that he will not continue to try to cheat in [this] very election? Can we be confident that Americans and not foreign powers will get to decide, and that the president will shun any further foreign interference in our Democratic affairs?  The short, plain, sad, incontestable answer is no, you can’t. You can’t trust this president to do the right thing. Not for one minute, not for one election, not for the sake of our country. You just can’t. He will not change and you know it. What are the odds if left in office that he will continue trying to cheat? I will tell you: 100 percent.  A man without character or ethical compass will never find his way.  Every single vote, even a single vote by a single member can change the course of history. It is said that a single man or woman of courage makes a majority. Is there one among you who will say ‘enough!’?”

Trump will deliver his State of the Union address tonight and if you have a high tolerance for nausea and disgust you can gauge for yourself how much political hay he makes of the impending Senate vote to not remove him from office.  And you can see for yourself if Trump suffers any further word-salad meltdowns.

In an interesting minor development, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin floated the idea yesterday of trying to bring a bi-partisan vote of censure against Trump to let him know his actions, while not prompting removal from office, were nonetheless bad and unbecoming the role the president. The selling point of censure would be to try to deter Trump from further election misdeeds, and to signal that his call was far from “perfect,” which would at least be better than a phony “exoneration.”

In other news yesterday, it was announced that Rush Limbaugh has late-stage lung cancer.  A life-long heavy cigar smoker, Limbaugh was nonetheless surprised by his diagnosis–which we should expect from a man with such disdain for science and facts.  I wouldn’t wish cancer on anyone, and hope that Limbaugh beats it AND retreats from public life. He was one of the original conservative hate-and-fear mongers and he has savaged many people who happened to suffer medical crises, so our nation will be less toxic with him off the airwaves.

Tomorrow there will be a nation-wide protest of the Senate impeachment “trial” with the theme “Reject the Coverup”  Several gatherings will be held in NY-19 so please click this link to find out more details:

https://rejectthecoverup.org/

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”

Day 1109 – No Exoneration

It’s a foregone conclusion that Trump will be acquitted by the Senate in his impeachment trial.  The bad news is, Trump Party Senators abdicated their duty and abandoned the rule of law by voting to deny witnesses and evidence, which means the proceedings were not so much a trial as an argument that the Democrats lost about maybe having a trial.  So keep repeating this: No witnesses, no exoneration!  The good news is twofold.  First, the final Senate impeachment vote should come on Wednesday, after Trump’s State Of The Union speech on Tuesday night, which deprives him of fully savoring the Senate sham. Second, the decision by Trump Party Senators to deny witnesses was so unjust and craven that it will give Democrats a boost in their quest to flip the Senate in November, and perhaps give the Democratic presidential contender a boost as well.

It’s important to remember that Trump won the presidency by a mere 77,000 votes spread across three states–PA, WI, and MI.  If the turnout percentages in November are in line with the turnout in the 2018 midterms, Trump will have a tough time repeating his feat.  But he has a massive digital campaign behind him that micro-targets states and districts to maximize turnout, so Democrats will have to work hard to overcome the Trump Party digital advantage.

The digital divide will also make the eventual choice of candidate important, but only because some Democrats won’t adopt the “vote for whoever wins” principle.  If every Democrat who has a favorite contender would pledge to vote for whoever wins the nomination, our chances would be much better.  And this is exactly what the former Republican party did in 2016–held their noses and voted for Trump despite widespread dislike of him.  But there are clearly some camps within the Democratic party who have trouble with this basic principle.  Some would rather vote for a “disrupter” like Trump than an “insider” or “corporate Democrat,” which is ludicrous.  Trump is the most corporate president ever, staffing his entire administration with crony capitalists, lobbyists and craven industry executives. His Tax Scam was a giveaway to corporations and CEOs.  When Trump campaigned in the 2016 race his voters wanted him to “shake things up,” but did all of them know beforehand that this meant “burn our Democracy and institutions to the ground?” Surely some of them are horrified now.

And let’s be clear, burning our Democracy to the ground is the project Moscow Mitch McConnell seems very agreeable with. McConnell’s actions have revealed his mindset: if power can be preserved through lawful and democratic means, fine, and if power can only be preserved through unlawful and undemocratic means, that’s fine too.  For decades our Congress more-or-less relied on an assumption of good faith and an avoidance of shame.  But McConnell has singlehandedly destroyed those two principles. He’s operated in bad faith since the beginning of the Obama presidency, trampling norms and traditions into dust. And aided by a conservative media lie machine (Fox), he’s been able to despoil and desecrate the Senate without shame. It used to be that if a politician told a bold-faced lie to the media, a nightly news anchor like journalists Cronkite, Jennings or Brokaw would let the world know.  Now, ignorant hate-monger/infotainers like Sean Hannity repeat the lie and few viewers know the difference.  Bear in mind that a 2012 study by Fairleigh Dickinson University found that people who watch Fox “News” know less about domestic affairs than people who watch no news at all.  Watching Fox makes people dumber.

February is the worst month of an election year.  It’s when the nominees and their supporters are the most desperate and the most afraid.  It’s when the outcome seems the least certain, and humans hate uncertainty.  Iowa’s caucuses are happening today, and while they are important, they are not critical.  Trump didn’t win Iowa in the 2016 primary.  Once we get to super-Tuesday on March 3rd let’s hope to God or Yahweh or Lucifer or whomever that Democrats will have greater clarity and can start to move beyond rancor toward unity.  Here is all that should matter in the general election: Getting rid of Donald Trump, and focusing on the big issues (the ones that affect 99% of American lives, like health insurance, job security & climate change).

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”