Sunday, October 22, 2017

It's As If Ryan And Trump Are Determined To Eviscerate The Middle Class With Their Tax Plan


On Thursday we looked at how the Trump-Ryan tax cuts for the rich will be toxic for Republicans in states where the elimination of the federal deduction for state and local taxes is significant and will mean as much as $20,000 annually flowing from the bank accounts of middle class taxpayers into the bank accounts of multimillionaires and billionaires. Since then, Maine Republican Susan Collins has told The Hill that she's not ready to commit to voting for the package. "Until I see the specifics of the bill obviously I’m not going to take a position on it," she said. One detail she's not likely to be a fan of is the sharp cut in the deductibility of 401 (k) contributions. Ryan is eager to cut that to provide bigger tax breaks for the wealthy. Saving though deductible 401 (k) plans used to be routinely supported by Republicans as an opportunity to help middle class taxpayers save for retirement. The Trump-Ryan GOP doesn't care at all about middle class taxpayers, other than as fodder for soundbytes.

Ryan and Trump and their teams are looking for short term gains-- regardless of how badly they hurt the long-term financial situations of Americans-- to help finance big tax cuts for their campaign contributors.
It is unclear if Republicans will ultimately include a cap on contributions in the tax bill that they are expected to release in the coming weeks. Such a move would almost certainly prompt a vocal backlash from middle-class workers who save heavily in such retirement accounts and from the asset management industry.

The proposals under discussion would potentially cap the annual amount workers can set aside to as low as $2,400 for 401(k) accounts, several lobbyists and consultants said on Friday. Workers may currently put up to $18,000 a year in 401(k) accounts without paying taxes upfront on that money; that figure rises to $24,000 for workers over 50. When workers retire and begin to draw income from those accounts, they pay taxes on the benefits.

Rumors have circulated for months that negotiators were debating including a cap as a way to help offset the revenue loss from a reduction in business tax rates that Republicans have put at the center of their plan. Reducing contribution limits would be, in effect, an accounting maneuver that would create space for tax cuts by collecting tax revenue now instead of in the future.

Such a move would be likely to push Americans to shift their savings to so-called Roth accounts, where contributions are taxed immediately, and not when they are drawn out as benefits. That would increase federal tax receipts for the short run.

The congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that tax exclusions for individual retirement contributions will cost the federal government $115 billion for the 2018 fiscal year. That is just a fraction of the $1.5 trillion tax cut that Republicans are aiming to enact.

In addition to being politically problematic, including a cap could also complicate the tax bill’s prospects in the Senate. Under the rules of budget reconciliation-- the method Republicans are employing to avoid a Democratic filibuster of the bill-- legislation cannot increase budget deficits after a decade. Shifting revenue by lowering 401(k) limits “raises money early, but loses money late, and that’s exactly the opposite of what you want in a reconciliation bill,” said Rohit Kumar, a former Senate aide who leads the tax policy services practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers, an accounting firm, in Washington.

Republicans drafting the tax bill have kept its details closely held, and they would not comment on Friday about whether 401(k) changes were under discussion. Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee “are developing pro-growth tax reform policies that will encourage and support retirement savings for all Americans,” a committee spokeswoman said.

The tax framework that President Trump and congressional Republican leaders released last month promised to retain “tax benefits that encourage work, higher education and retirement security.” It left the door open to changes in the current system, saying that “the committees are encouraged to simplify these benefits to improve their efficiency and effectiveness.”

Democrats have seen firsthand the perils of proposing changes to savings accounts. In 2015, an outcry forced President Barack Obama to quickly back off his proposal to change the tax benefit of college savings plans known as 529 accounts.

On the Senate floor on Thursday, Senator Gary Peters, Democrat of Michigan, warned that the Republican majority was “keeping open the possibility of raising taxes on Americans who are trying to save for their retirement.”
Goal ThermometerRyan's opponent, iron worker and union activist Randy Bryce, was appalled by the GOP plan. "If this was something being proposed by Democrats," he told us today, "every city would have it’s streets filled with every working person who had enough gas money to get there."

Jared Golden is the progressive candidate running for the sprawling northern Maine district occupied by Trump rubber stamp Bruce Poliquin. Jared is the Majority Whip of the Maine state House and he's not liking what he sees of the Trump tax cuts for the wealthy. He's not happy about the plans they're making to cut federal tax deductions on retirement accounts. "On the 401(k) savings," he told us, "Paul Ryan and Bruce Poliquin are destroying the middle class. They don't understand how hard we work for our wages and the fact that it's getting harder and harder to save for retirement. Their priority is to cut taxes for the rich even if it's at the expense of the middle and working class. I don't care what party label you have behind your name, if you agree with me that Congress should be helping working people save for a comfortable retirement then I am ready to work with you." (I think he was talking about Susan Collins there.)

James Thompson is the Kansas Berniecrat who nearly turned the Wichita-based 4th district blue in a special election this year-- and without a lick of help from Pelosi and her DCCC. They're not helping this cycle either. They hate progressives. Thompson saves his fire for reactionary Republicans harming working families. This was his take on the latest GOP shenanigans with the Ryan tax plan:
The filthy rich are not satisfied with paying poverty wages and overtaxing the middle class while cutting taxes for the top 1%. Now they want to rob us of our retirements too by limiting the amounts we can contribute tax free to our 401Ks from the current $18,000 per year to just $2400 per year. They are doing this in order to fund their tax cuts for their billionaire buddies and corporate lobbyists. The vast wealth of this country has already been re-distributed to the top 1% over the past 40 years through the use of "trickle down economics" thereby creating an income disparity the likes that has not been seen in this country. Yet, their greed knows no bounds. When trying to determine how to pay for their cuts to the filthy rich cronies of Donald Trump, the Trump Republicans decided to attack the retirement benefits of our middle class. If this attack on the middle class is allowed by the Republican controlled Congress, the middle class will be devastated, more people will be unable to save for retirement and putting an even bigger strain on Medicaid, Medicare, Disability and other social programs in the United States. When I make it to Congress in 2019, I will fight everyday to protect working Americans from these types of attacks on our middle class. The middle class needs tax relief, not the richest 1% of this country. It is time to stand up and fight for the middle class; fight for fair taxation, and fight for America.
Kia Hamadanchy is one of the progressives running for the Orange County seat occupied by Trump/Ryan rubber stamp Mimi Walters. He sure wouldn't be voting for this toxic tax plan. "Just the fact that the California GOP invited Steve Bannon to address their annual convention shows how delusional and out of touch they really are. I'm actually kind of surprised Bannon didn't have Sherrif Joe Arpaio opening for him considering the way the state party appears to be going about their business. There is a reason that it's very possible that there won't be any Republicans on the statewide ballot on 2018 and its because time and time again the California GOP continues to embrace the xenophobia and extremism of figures like Bannon. That's why they are going to lose every single swing seat in 2018 and why they are on the path to permanent extinction in the state of California."

The other outstanding progressive running in CA-45 is Katie Porter, who's worked with Elizabeth Warren on these exact kinds of issues. She told us this morning that "Trump, Ryan, and their staunch allies, like my opponent Mimi Walters, are putting tax giveaways for the rich ahead of retirement security for middle-class Americans. As a consumer advocate, I’ve seen firsthand the importance of encouraging middle-class families to save for their futures. This policy would hurt families and leave our nation on fragile financial ground."

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What Does Keynote Speaker Steve Bannon Augur For The California Republican Party?


Friday night, Bannon gave the keynote address at the California Republican Party convention in Anaheim where he savagely attacked George W. Bush in response to Bush's NY speech the day before about the fascism Bannon has brought to the GOP. He depicted Bush as bumbling and inept, faulting him for presiding over a "destructive" presidency. Bannon said "It was clear he didn't understand anything he was talking about."
"There has not been a more destructive presidency than George Bush's," Bannon said during his dinnertime address at the convention banquet of the California Republican Party. He said Bush had "embarrassed himself" with a "high falutin" speech.

..."He has no earthly idea of whether he's coming or going," Bannon said, implying that Bush had mindlessly given a speech written for him by a speechwriter, "just like it was when he was President of the United States."

Bannon's sharply worded takedown of the 43rd President, who disappointed many of his GOP supporters with his huge increases in government spending and lengthy military entanglements abroad, illustrated the deepening divide within the Republican Party, and foreshadowed what Bannon has described as a "season of war" on the Republican establishment a year before the 2018 midterm elections.

...The reaction to Bannon's scathing criticism of Bush was mixed. At first, some in the crowd had booed loudly at the mere mention of Bush's name. There was also scattered applause and some shouts of support. But others in the crowd remained quiet.

Asserting that his wing of the party is in the midst of assembling a grassroots army, Bannon issued a call to action to those who share his point of view.

...Bannon also dispatched an arrow at Karl Rove, who wrote what he called a "very unfriendly" piece about Bannon's plans for recruiting mid term candidates in the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal.

After an offhand reference, Bannon explained that he hadn't meant to utter Rove's name Friday night: "I don't like punching down," he said of Rove, "so I'm not going to say anything."

For a little context, Bannon's brand of fascism has been a catastrophe for the California GOP. Last year Trump did worse than any Republican in living memory. Let's go back to 1960, when JFK was elected president. California voted for Nixon with 50.1%. These are the GOP California results since then:
1964- Goldwater- 44.74%
1968- Nixon- 47.82%
1972- Nixon- 55.0%
1976- Ford- 49.35%
1980- Reagan- 52,69%
1984- Reagan- 57.51%
1988- HW Bush- 51.13%
1992- HW Bush- 32.61%
1996- Dole- 38.21%
2000- W. Bush- 41.65%
2004- W. Bush- 44.36%
2008- McCain- 36.95%
2012- Romney- 37.12%
2016- Trumpanzee- 31.62%
Last year Hillary beat Trump in the Golden State 8,753,788 to 4,483,810. Her margin was 30.11%, the highest since FDR's 35.25% margin in 1936, which was also the last time Orange County went blue until Trump showed up as the candidate. On primary day Trump had taken 1,665,135 votes. Californians gave Hillary the primary win but Bernie still outpolled Trump significantly (2,381,722 votes). Trump lost all the counties with big populations. These are Trump's percentages in the 9 counties with over a million people:
Los Angeles- 22.41%
San Diego- 36.57%
Orange- 42.35%
Riverside- 44.35%
San Bernardino- 41.48%
Santa Clara- 20.58%
Alameda- 14.66%
Sacramento- 33.93%
Contra Costa- 24.87%
Many of the Republican activists who made up the crowd at CAGOP17 booed both Bush and McCain. One screamed "Hang him!" when Bannon mentioned McCain. 2018 Is looking like a particular donnybrook for California Republicans. At this point I wouldn't bet on the reelections of Darrell Issa, Ed Royce, Dana Rohrabacher, Steve Knight, Jeff Denham, David Valadao, Mimi Walters or even Duncan Hunter, Jr.

Ted Lieu (D-CA) is the DCCC Regional Vice Chair for the West Coast. He's in Oregon this weekend, encouraging Democrats there to fight back against Trumpism and against the alt-right. Saturday night he gave the keynote speech at the Oregon Democratic Party's convention. Today he warned that, "Steve Bannon is looney tunes. He is so unhinged that even the Trump White House fired him. Now he is taking Republicans down the dark path of alt-right craziness. GOP Members of Congress in California need to either publicly disavow Bannon's dangerous and extremist philosophy, or they own it. I can't wait to plaster Bannon and his evil views all over Republican Congress Members during next year's midterm elections."

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The Curse Of Self-Funders Is Undermining Democracy


Democratic Party self-funders JB Pritzker and Gil Cisneros

Reuters began their report on this weekend's parliamentary election in the Czech Republic: "Czech billionaire Andrej Babiš won a thumping victory in Saturday's election as voters shunned traditional parties and gave a mandate to the anti-establishment businessman pledging to fight political corruption while facing fraud charges himself... Babiš has promised to bring his business expertise to government... Drawing comparisons with U.S. President Donald Trump for his business background and anti-establishment message, Babiš has maintained his popularity despite charges he illegally received a 2 million euro EU subsidy when he ran his food, agriculture and chemical empire, worth an estimated $4 billion, before entering politics." Worth noting though, is that this was the first time the country had put a cap on election spending-- 90 million korunas (something like $4.1 million) per party, taking away, at least in part, the personal wealth advantage.

Last week, The Economist looked at the 2018 Illinois gubernatorial election, which they termed a contest between bajillionaires. The candidate Blue America has endorsed, state Senator Daniel Biss, is up against 3 self-funders with bottomless pockets, J.B. Pritzker (D), Bruce Rauner (R) and Chris Kennedy (D). "Though the primary is not until next March," they wrote, "the election to be the next governor of Illinois is already on track to become the most expensive in state political history, overtaking the $280m fight for the governorship of California in 2010 between Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman, a billionaire businesswoman. Election spending in Illinois has increased by 741% this year compared with the same period in the previous election, according to the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, an NGO. The candidates burned through $15.6m in the past three months, led by J.B. Pritzker, a self-funded billionaire businessman running for the Democrats, who splashed out $11.1m, mostly on television advertising, followed by Bruce Rauner, the self-funding Republican incumbent, who spent $2.6m, even though he has not confirmed yet that he is running for re-election. Mr Rauner and Mr Pritzker have so far raised just under $100m between them. In the sort of twist that seems straight from a plot by Armando Iannucci, the lion’s share ($50m) was given by Governor Rauner to a group called Citizens for Rauner. Mr Pritzker gave his campaign a modest $28m."
Though an extreme example, Illinois is no outlier. More and more very wealthy men are running for and winning office as state governors. Tennessee’s Bill Haslam, West Virginia’s Jim Justice, Florida’s Rick Scott, Kentucky’s Matt Bevin, Minnesota’s Mark Dayton, Nebraska’s Peter Ricketts, Pennsylvania’s Tom Wolf, Michigan’s Rick Snyder, North Dakota’s Doug Burgum and Arizona’s Doug Ducey all have a net worth measured in the tens, and in some cases hundreds, of millions. The richest is Mr Haslam, a multibillionaire whose father founded Pilot Flying J, a chain of petrol stations and convenience stores. Mr Justice, a coal billionaire, is the richest man in the state he governs.

America has had wealthy governors before—think of Nelson Rockefeller and Franklin Roosevelt, both of whom governed New York. But their proliferation is new. In part this simply reflects increasing income disparity in the country, says John Geer of Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. Candidates with little money are disadvantaged by having to spend more time raising funds from donors to whom they are then beholden. One of President Donald Trump’s most popular campaign lines-- that he was too rich to be bought by special interests-- works in state elections too. Given the opacity of money in politics, perhaps voters find self-funding campaigns to be refreshingly transparent.

...How good are self-funding governors at governing? Such candidates often promise to run their states like a business, but their success can depend more on whether they have previous political experience. The pragmatic Mr Haslam is well-liked in Tennessee even by Democrats, and boasts an approval rating of around 60%. He was a two-term mayor of Knoxville before he ran for governor.

Michigan’s Mr Snyder and Illinois’s Mr Rauner, on the other hand, are among the least popular governors. Mr Snyder has not recovered from the public-health crisis caused by lead-contaminated water in Flint. Mr Rauner has been unable to govern effectively with the Democrat-controlled legislature. As a result, the state of Illinois’s finances have gone from critical to catastrophic, with unpaid bills amounting to $15bn and the state paying as much as 10% interest on some of its debt.

In Florida, Mr Scott has not managed to do much of what he promised, such as expanding the state’s economic-development agencies or securing big tax cuts, says Aubrey Jewett of the University of Central Florida. The Republican-controlled legislature still considers him an amateur. He is uncomfortable giving speeches or presiding over public ceremonies. Some newly minted governors have found their first encounters with a hard-nosed political press corps to be a shock. In some cases this makes them less willing to talk, which in turn leads to even less favourable coverage-- a lesson Mr Rauner, who is now more talkative, learned the hard way in Illinois. Private wealth will not be enough to win him re-election next year, especially as Mr Pritzker is much richer.
And if you've been reading DWT for any length of time you're already well-aware that the cancer of self-funders is not just a problem in gubernatorial elections. This link brings you to ten posts about congressional self-funders written over the last 18 months. But it's becoming more and more common to read about candidates-- especially conservative candidates recruited by the DCCC-- to drop immense sums of money into their congressional primaries to drive working and middle class candidates out of the races. Last year it was a miracle that progressive champion Jamie Raskin beat out to especially vile self-funding multimillionaire conservatives in the MD-08 primary. Chris Matthews wife put $606,198 other own money into a race where Matthews was already hitting his MSNBC guests to contribute to his wife. That amounted to nothing compared to the cycle's biggest loser, beer seller David Trone, who put $13,414,225 of his own into the primary race. MD-08 primary voters weren't kind to the 2 wealthy self-funders:
Jamie Raskin- 33.6%
David Trone- 27.1%
Kathleen Matthews- 23.9%
Ana Sol Gutierrez- 5.5%
William Jawando- 4.6%
But Trone isn't finished. He probably noticed that worthless New Dem scumbag John Delaney first won his MD-06 congressional seat by putting $2,370,556 of his own into the race. As soon as he announced he would be running for president and giving up the House seat next year, Trone jumped in, announcing he would spend whatever it takes this time to win the seat. So far he's "only" put in $748,939 of his own... but we still have over a year to go and Maryland political observers expect him to spend between $10 and $15 million of his own. Absolutely devastating for democracy-- and horribly ugly for the Democratic Party, which is being ruined by an influx of conservative multimillionaires. Another candidate in the MD-06 primary, Nadia Hashimi, a pediatrician and best-selling author, has given her campaign $230,700, but she doesn't have the money to compete with Trone.

Let's move across the country to Orange County, where the Democrats are looking at 4 Republican-held congressional districts that Hillary won last year and where every indication shows voters are even worse repulsed by Trump than they were last year. Hillary's biggest victory was in CA-39, a middle class district in the northeast corner of the district that includes slivers of Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties as well. Blue America has endorsed progressive Sam Jammal for the seat. But self-funders have been attracted to what looks like an easy district. The latest FEC filings shows 4 candidates with significant self-funding:
Andy Thorburn- $2,000,000
Gil Cisneros- $561,656
Mai-Khanh Tran- $200,000
Phil Janowicz- $112,518
The richest member of Congress is Trump ally Darrell Issa, a career criminal. Voters nearly kicked him out last year and his 2016 opponent, Doug Applegate, expected to beat him easily in 2018. But a bevy of corrupt local multimillionaires led by a shady Pelosi crony, Ira Lechner, put up their own crap candidate, Mike Levin, and started pumping significant money into his campaign. Then a shady real estate investor, a crony of sleazy New Dem Scott Peters, with eye-popping Trump financial connections, Paul Kerr jumped in with $262,728 of his own money. And now there's some young Qualcomm heiress, Sara Jacobs, who doesn't live in the district but who thinks, after working for Hillary as an advisor, it would be fun to be a congresswoman and who is being urged to run in CA-49 by the predatory EMILY's List, which loves nothing on God's green earth more than heiresses with nice big rolodexes.

Fake Dem Omar Siddiqui
Just up the coast in CA-48, Putin's favorite crackpot congressman, Dana Rohrabacher, has attracted at least half a dozen opponents, including several conservative multimillionaires willing to self-fund. New Dem Harley Rouda has given his campaign $230,500. The other New Dem in the race, Hans Keirstead, has only put $55,400 of his own money in so far but DCCC sources say he is willing to stick at least a million dollars of his own into the race if he needs to. Another "Democrat," Omar Siddiqui, an "ex"-Republican who describes himself as a "Reagan-Democrat" and doesn't live in the district, has put in $255,786 so far and a 4th Democrat, Nestle executive Michael Kotick, has given his campaign $130,452. Republican primary challenger Stelian Onufrei has put $200,000 of his own into the race against Rohrabacher to boot. All these big sums is making it hard for the middle class progressive in the race, Laura Oatman to compete in the "money primary."

Other big self-funding Democrats in House races around the country so far (over $100,000 in self-funding):
NY-02- Tim Gomes- $1,000,000
NY-19- Brian Flynn- $685,400
NC-02- Sam Searcy- $480,802
NJ-11- Tamara Harris- $302,300
MN-03- Adam Jennings- $280,805
FL-27- David Richardson- $253,207
NC-02- Ken Romley- $240,000
VA-05- Leslie Cockburn- $203,000
IL-06- Kelly Mazeski- $200,753
WA-03- David McDevitt- $200,000
IL-06- Sean Casten- $180,000
PA-07- Molly Sheehan- $170,000
KS-03- Andrea Ramsey- $138,534
NM-01- Damian Lara- $125,000
NY-19- Dave Clegg- $121,182
NY-11- Omar Vaid- $105,532
NJ-07- Lisa Mandelblatt- $103,931
NY-01- David Pechefsky- $101,100
TX-16- Dori Fenebock- $100,000
And speaking of self-funders, one of the richie-rich guys from Portland just dropped himself into the ME-02 congressional race, Lucas St. Clair, who's mommy, Roxanne Quimby from Burt's Bees, wants her son to have a seat in Congress. This is a rich establishment guy from Portland planning to blanket a working class district with expensive TV ads about himself and his good deeds. Maine's Donor Table will be right on top of it; he's one of them-- an establishment guy with money to burn, who will be the easiest possible target for Bruce Poliquin. Republican John Floyd is laughing already:
[A] seemingly endless amount of southern Maine politicos have been eagerly awaiting another chance to unseat Rep. Bruce Poliquin and push their brand of politics on us in the north. But as Democrat darlings Hillary Clinton and Emily Cain found out-- there is a lot more to Maine’s 2nd district than the liberal echo chamber of downtown Bangor.

St. Clair’s biography page on the Quimby Family Foundation website describes his rearing “in a hand-built log cabin with few amenities”-- a dismal attempt at likening his background to arguably the poorest and hardest working folks in Maine. Sorry, we’re not buying it.

What follows is a litany of educational and professional highlights such as attendance at elite schools and an appointment to the Quimby Family Foundation Board. Nowhere did I see his time spent in the frozen Maine woods swinging a saw, breaking his back in the potato fields of The County or raking blueberries Downeast for day wages. He’s led a charmed life indeed.

St. Clair lives in the city of Portland, not exactly a conservative stronghold. While recently purchasing a home in the district he plans on running in may be a requirement to appear connected to his would be constituents, he will never be mistaken as a stalwart for the outdoorsman by the blue collar conservatives whose traditions and roots run deep here.

What southern Maine Democrats can’t seem to get a handle on is the fact that we make our living up here with our hands, not with our mouth. We earned what we have by hard work, not by handout. We like it that way. We also like our way of living and don’t need another outsider coming north to impose their liberal values on us. How can the entitled son of a left-wing millionaire seriously expect to represent the values, wants and needs of a simple, conservative district? Has he never heard the term ‘carpetbagger’?
Poliquin adviser Brent Littlefield described St. Clair as a dilettante embarking upon “his next life quest” by running for Congress after spending much of his adult life out of the district-- the same criticism Democrats leveled at Poliquin when he ran in 2014. “From being an attempted gourmet chef through his college training in London, to a wine expert in Seattle, to spending his family’s money ignoring the will of local voters, he has moved on to thinking he should be a politician,” Littlefield said. You can see exactly where the attacks will be coming from and what an easy target St. Clair will be in ME-02.
[V]oters of the 2nd Congressional District have increasingly switched allegiances to Republicans, including Poliquin in 2014, Donald Trump in 2016 and a clear majority of legislative races. Poliquin first won the seat, which had been in Democratic hands for two decades, in 2014 as an underdog against Democrat Emily Cain of Orono.

Golden, 34, is viewed as the frontrunner in the Democratic primary. A resident of Lewiston, a Democratic Party stronghold, he was recruited by national Democratic Party groups in part because his status as a Marine veteran who served in Afghanistan and Iraq makes him a formidable opponent for Poliquin in a district where treatment of veterans has been a key issue.

...St. Clair said he was unsure how much of his campaign would be self-financed.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


-by Noah

To some, the kneeling football player thing is tired. Some see it as a distraction or even a diversion from "bigger issues." I don't see it that way so I'm posting about it again. To me, the story gets to the core of what Señor Trumpanzee is, a sadistic, racist psychopath who seeks out every opportunity to inflict pain upon others. Case in point: His obsession with undoing anything his predecessor did; anything, even if it benefited the health of American citizens, our reputation with our allies, the lives of our allies, or even our own national security. Even his tax plan is sadistic towards those he looks down upon and has cheated all his life in that it raises the taxes of working class families while cutting the taxes of those in his own bracket by 4% or more, while also cutting estate taxes for only the very wealthy.

Trump and his wingnut supporters see NFL players kneeling as a chance to do one of those things they most love to do, i.e. put down African-Americans who dare to make an effort to defend themselves from injustice, even death. Trump's supporters lie about the kneeling having something to do with insulting "the flag," "the anthem," or "the troops." Some of them may even believe that, having rationalized their bigotry into a cover story that makes them feel righteous. There's a ton of irony in that. After all, one of the key reasons the players are doing what they are doing is that bad cops have been doing the ultimate put down of African-Americans, with their guns. In denigrating the protests of the players, the wingnuts are protesting those who protest racism. That's not surprising. Republicans enjoy their racism. They embrace it as a motivating force in who they are. So, of course, they protest those who kneel. How dare anyone protest against racism! The severely mentally ill Donald Trump knows this. He knows who and what his supporters are. They are him. His money is just a different wrapper.

For this reason, the story of NFL players taking a knee during the pre-game playing of the national anthem is not a tired story to me. We can't let Trump's propagandistic message about this issue be one-sided. From Trump's continuing tweeting about it to his Mike Pence stunt, it gets to the essence of what a divisive cancer Trump is for our country. And, for him, it's not just about having yet another opportunity to wave his racist freak flag, the flag that means so much more to him than our country's stars and stripes.

There's even more behind Trump's attacks on NFL players. He is also attacking the NFL itself, trying to turn his wacko supporters against the league. Why? Yes, he can use it all to rally his "very fine people", but it's also a very personal thing for him to attack the NFL as a whole. It's not just the players, it's also the owners, many of whom actually contributed large sums of money to his hideous campaign. The reason for the attack on the whole NFL? Simple. The NFL wouldn't let him join their club. Poor, sick in the head Donnie has felt rejected by the other rich guys for decades.

Once upon a time, in the early 1980s, Trump had a professional football team. It was the New Jersey Generals of the upstart United States Football League (USFL), a league that he helped establish back in 1982. HIs marketing and legal"strategies" for the league's growth, such as it was, is usually credited with leading to the league's demise. It's yet another example of a Trump failed business: Steaks, Wine, Airline, Football, raising his kids, and now America. The man is a failure in everything. He surrounds himself with gold but he has demonstrated a reverse Midas touch. As the USFL was going down in flames, Trump even thought some of its teams, especially his Generals, could be absorbed into the NFL, not unlike the former American Football League had been in the previous decade. That might have happened, if not for the fact that the NFL owners of the time wouldn't touch Trump with a 20 foot pole. They couldn't stand him. They saw him as the scumbag huckster con man that he is. Many of the NFL owners are no prizes themselves, but, even they had some standards, and, low as they were, Trump didn't even meet them.

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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Schumer And Gun Sanity-- He's Not On Our Side


If you've been following this blog long, you probably know that I went to James Madison High School in Brooklyn, famous for all the entertainment industry people who studied there-- Carole King, Cousin Brucie, Chris Rock, Aaron Spelling, Judge Judy, Andrew Dice Clay-- but it was also a high school that produced plenty of political figures, from Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Bernie Sanders from before I was there, to senators Norm Coleman and Chuck Schumer while I was there. Schumer was an asshole even back then; no one liked him. He's the same kind of dick he is now. As we mentioned Friday, Schumer has been pestering Senate Democrats to not bring up gun legislation after the Las Vegas massacre. As usual, Schumer is misreading the public's mood. It's his forte.

A poll that was released yesterday by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research reiterates what polls have been showing for years-- that a majority of American voters favors tighter gun laws.
Six in 10 Americans support stricter gun laws in the United States, but many question whether tightening of regulations can actually prevent some forms of gun violence, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

This new survey comes in the wake of the deadliest shooting in modern American history. Sixty-one percent of Americans say they want gun laws to be made stricter, 11 percent would like to see loosening of gun laws, and 27 percent would like to see gun laws left as they are now. Though most would like to see more restrictions on gun ownership, few believe it will lead to a decline in some forms of gun violence. Fifty-three percent of Americans think increased gun control will reduce the number of accidental shootings and nearly half say there would be fewer mass shootings (49 percent) and homicides (46 percent). Fewer say stricter gun regulations would result in a decrease in suicides (40 percent) or gang violence (36 percent).

Owning a gun has marked influence on attitudes toward gun laws and their ability to deter violent crime in the United States. Seventy-six percent of Americans without a gun in their household support stricter gun laws compared with 38 percent of Americans who own a gun and 64 percent of Americans who live in a household in which someone else owns a gun. Gun owners are less likely than those who do not own a gun to say stricter gun laws will lead to a decrease in accidental shootings, mass shootings, homicides, suicides, or gang violence.

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Taking Back The House Is #1 Priority But Winning Open Blue Seats For Progressive Reformers Is Also Crucial


People aren't thinking much about the Albuquerque congressional district, NM-01. It's a safely blue district and the incumbent, dull backbencher Michelle Lujan Grisham is stepping down to run for governor, leaving 8 or so candidates vying for the nomination to take on some Republican destined for defeat (either Michael Hendricks or Janice Arnold-Jones). The candidates I've dug up so far are lobbyist Annie Chavez, retired law professor Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, attorney Damian Lara, former U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez, former state Democratic Party Chairwoman Deb Haaland, physicist Dennis Dinge, Edgewood Mayor John Abrams and Albuquerque City Councilman Pat Davis.

Obama won the district both times, 60-39% against McCain and 55-40% against Romney. Even Hillary managed to win-- beating Trump 51.6% to 35.1%, his worst performance in the state. The PVI is D+7, unchanged from 2 years ago. The district is 49% Hispanic. DCCC chair Ben Ray Lujan, from the district just to the north, has pledged neutrality in the primary and, unlike in many districts, seems to be keeping his word so far.

The frontrunners in the money race are Antoinette Sedillo Lopez ($330,249.14), Deb Haaland ($262,098.06) and Damon Martinez ($211,001.49) who have all had strong fundraising quarters. Superficially all three seem to be qualified in their own ways, two of them come to the race with significant baggage.

Deb Haaland, as state party chair, has a checkered history with the local progressive base. As party chair last year, she committed to administering a straw poll at the state convention, only to reverse that decision and pull the straw poll at the last minute when she saw it would be a big win for Bernie. This decision infuriated local progressives, who saw it as a betrayal and an attempt to suppress Bernie support during last year's primaries. Needless to say, the decision resulted in a disaffected progressive base, and led to calls for her to step down as chair. An ardent Clinton supporter, her machinations led to her being called the Debbie Wassermann Schultz of New Mexico. Bernie went on to win Bernalillo County 38,247 (50.9%) to 36,937 (49.1%) despite Holland's bias and interference.

Former US. Attorney Damon Martinez has also recently gotten in to some hot water over allegations of racial bias in an ATF sting operation that took place during his tenure. In a recent interview with NM In Depth, a local journalist pressed him on the issue, and the former U.S. Attorney offered few answers on the allegations. Their analysis shows some significant over-representation in arrests made by communities of color. Earlier this summer, Martinez was also called out by the Santa Fe New Mexican for his refusal to prosecute bad cops. I suspect that Martinez will continue to have to answer questions surrounding his tenure as U.S. Attorney.

We'll be watching as the race continues to develop, but it does seem that at least some of the leading candidates in the race offer the Republicans needless and dangerous openings to exploit in the general. Meanwhile, it's worth mentioning that Antoinette Sedillo Lopez has been endorsed by New Mexico's former Attorney General Attorney General Patricia Madrid, local progressive icon Eric Griego and by national progressives Raul Grijalva, chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and Jamie Raskin (D-MD).

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L.A. County Board Of Supervisors Decides To Go Down With The Leaky S.S. DiFi


Kuehl, Solis, Hahn, Barger, Ridley-Thomas

Thursday the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously dissed progressive Angeleno Kevin de León by endorsing conservative Democrat Dianne Feinstein for another 6 year Senate term. You would have thought at least former congresswoman, ex-Labor Secretary Hilda Solis would have had more sense. Kathryn Barger is an actual Republican, plain and simple. Feinstein is as good a pick for senator for someone like her as she's going to find. Sheila Kuehl would endorse any woman-- even a woman's corpse-- over a man, so no surprise there either. Janice Hahn has always been the epitome of the ambitious establishment politician; she is the closest thing to DiFi in Los Angeles politics. Mark Ridley-Thomas is in no position to cross a powerful incumbent-- and neither is his dad. You can check their contributors. And that leaves our old friend Hilda, whose personal trajectory is similar to de León's. Like him she came from an immigrant household and struggled against the odds to achieve incredible success. In 1992 she was elected to the California Assembly and 2 years later to the state Senate, representing an East L.A. district not unlike the state Senate district de León represents today. In the legislature, Hilda, like Kevin, stood out as one of that body's most progressive members and-- like him-- a champion for working families and of environmental justice.

In 2000 Hilda ran against a corrupt and conservative 18-year congressional incumbent Matthew Martínez. The party establishment had a collective freakout and slammed her mercilessly for barging in against an incumbent, no matter that Martinez was the same kind of Republican-lite dirt-bag Feinstein has always been. In fact, Feinstein refused to back Hilda in her race against him, even when Barbara Boxer did. Hilda kicked his ass anyway, winning the seat 69-31%, an incredible achievement against an incumbent with all the establishment support. (He switched parties and re-registered as a Republican.)

When Hilda got to Congress she was hailed as the harbinger of a generational changing of the guard in the Hispanic Caucus. She joined the Congressional Progressive Caucus and continued the work she had been doing in Sacramento as a champion of working families and of the environment. She took on conservative Democrat Joe Baca for acting like a congressional version of Harvey Weinstein and she rose fast in the Democratic ranks. Soon after he was elected, Obama asked her to leave Congress and join his cabinet as Secretary of Labor. The AFL-CIO rejoiced while anti-union groups were furious and Senate Republicans tried to derail her nomination-- and failed. She served for all of Obama's first term and retired in January, 2013 to run for the L.A. Board of Supervisors, which many saw as a stepping stone to higher office, something she just botched by joining with the more conservative Board members in backing Feinstein.

Sarah Wire's report for the L.A. Times emphasized that the unanimous endorsement by the Board members came "as factions of California Democrats begin weighing in on the Senate race... It's a snub for De León, a native Angeleno who has represented part of the city for more than a decade in the Assembly and state Senate... [T]he lone Republican on the board, 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger, said in a statement that California needs Feinstein in the Senate.
“I’ve worked with Sen. Feinstein for many years. She’s extremely knowledgeable and always prepared on the tough issues we confront. She’s a problem solver we can count on now and in the future,” Barger said.

Feinstein already has the backing of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which traditionally backs incumbents. Soon after he announced a challenge, De León was endorsed by Democracy for America, the progressive political action committee formed by former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean in 2004.
This is a battle between a decrepit and corrupt past and a bright reformed future. I'd expect Barger, Ridley-Thomas, Hahn and what Kuehl has turned into in recent years to stick with the former. But Hilda Solis' backing of Feinstein over de León feels like a real betrayal of her progressive base. Big mistake!

left to right: past, future

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Is The DCCC Letting Peter King Off The Hook Without A Fight Again?


Last May there was such a big hubbub when progressive activist Christine Pellegrino won a red legislative district right in the heart of Peter King's Long Island congressional district (Massapequa, West Babylon, Babylon Village, West Islip and West Bay Shore). Romney had beaten Obama in that Assembly district and last year Trump eviscerated Hillary with a 23 point margin there. But Pellegrino, a full-fledged Berniecrat, beat conservative sociopath and Trumpist Tom Gargiulo 5,590 (57.89%) to 4,049 (41.93%). She ran on an unadulterated progressive platform-- none of the Republican-lite bullshit the DCCC tells all of its candidates to run on. And her victory was said to bode well for the Democrats to finally oust Peter King in 2018. So... as 2018 approaches, people are starting to wonder... what happened with that?

NY-02, which covers much of southern Long Island and includes chunks of both Nassau and Suffolk counties, went from a PVI of R+1 in 2015 to R+3 this year, but it is still very swingy and appears ready to swing back-- for the right candidate. Obama won the district both times he ran, but last year the voters gave Trump a stunning 53.0 to 43.9 win over Hillary. At the same time, Peter King was reelected 171,915 (62.4%) to 103,643 (37.6%) for DuWayne Gregory, the head of the Suffolk County legislature. DuWayne spent $372,792 to King's $1,307,660 and the DCCC refused to get involved in the race. This year, after his experience with the DCCC, Gregory-- easily the best shot the Democrats have for replacing King, seems more than reluctant to jump in again.

Instead, we have 3 candidates who know one in the district knows or cares about. Tim Gomes doesn't know if he wants to be a Democrat or Republican and keeps switching his party registration back and forth. This year he's trying the Democrat label. He doesn't have any policy positions on his website, usually a good indication of a bad candidate. And he loaned his campaign $1 million in the first quarter. (He's raised another $39,750 from real people since then.) Mike Sax seems to want to pass himself off as the progressive-- "the Randy Bryce of Long Island" without understanding anything about who Randy Bryce is-- but everyone I asked in the district (where I used to live) sees him as a nice guy who's a little looney. Liuba Grechen Shirley behaves like she's entitled to be congresswoman. But she just moved back to the district to run for Congress after living in New York City for 15 years. Everything I've read about her indicates a candidate reeking of inauthenticity, the opposite of what voters are looking for. No one knows any of them and they will have to work hard in the communities that make on NY-02 to give King a real race. I don't think Peter King could have picked a better contingent of candidates to guarantee his own reelection if he had selected each of them himself.

I'm also hearing that Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone might jump into the race. I don't know about that. He aspires to be governor and I don't think he sees a congressional seat as helpful towards achieving that ambition. He'd at least be a plausible candidate. I bet if Ben Ray Lujan or Pelosi called DuWayne Gregory and apologized for screwing him last time and promised not to do it again, he'd run again. I didn't ask him because those two would rather lose NY-02 again-- and forever-- than ever do anything like that. It's how their "leadership" works and explains why King will be in Congress in 2019 even if there is a mammoth anti-Trump tsunami next year.

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The Democratic Establishment Hates Bernie As Much As Real Democrats Love Him


Lobbyists don't like this kind of language; Americans do though

The new Granite Poll of New Hampshire voters shows Trump to be a very weak candidate, at least among New Hampshire Republicans. I hear they still like him a lot in most of the old slave-holding states. Among New Hampshire Democrats polled, Bernie is the clear frontrunner for 2020. None of the media-created "candidates," your Kamala Harrises, John Hickenloopers, Tim Ryans, Cory Bookers, Amy Klobuchars, Seth Moultons, Jason Kanders, Kirsten Gillibrands or Mark Zuckerbergs are interesting to voters. Most of them are polling at 1%. The Democrats who New Hampshire Democrats are behind are:
Bernie- 31%
Joe Biden- 24%
Elizabeth Warren- 13%
Right after that Zogby Analytics released another 2020 presidential primary poll, but a national one. They polled likely voters and again found Bernie way ahead, with a double-digit lead against any other Democrat. This poll also stuck conservatives Terry McAuliffe and Andrew Cuomo into the sample, neither of whom had significant support.

Bernie, explained the pollsters "is the most popular candidate among almost every sub-group. There are instances where Biden and Warren outshine Sanders, such is the case with older voters (age 50+), where Biden is more popular or in the case of creative class voters-working in STEM or other professional sectors-who favor Warren. Among the democratic base, which consists of women voters, younger voters, voters living in large cities and many minority voters; Sanders performs well among all of these groups. Among women, Sanders beat Warren with a ratio of more than 3 to 1 and Biden almost 2 to 1. When it came to younger Millennial voters age 18-29, Sanders (42%) dominates. He beats Warren (22%) nearly 2 to 1 and Joe Biden (12%) 3 to 1. This pattern changes among African American primary voters. Among our oversample of 247 African American Democratic presidential primary voters, Biden is the clear favorite at 31%, followed by Sanders (19%) and there is a three way tie between Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Mark Zuckerberg at 6% each... The former vice president leads every meaningful African American subgroup, including younger African American voters, while Sanders trails in second place among almost every sub-group. Sanders does tighten things up to a virtual tie among African Americans who have a college degree and African American men." When they did the same over-sample of Hispanic voters and Asian voters Bernie is the clear front-runner (41% to Biden's 14%-- including 71% among younger Hispanic primary voters. He also beats Warren and Biden, both 2 to 1, among Asian Democratic presidential primary voters."

Hoping to head off the disintegration of the Democratic Party-- and despite Tom Perez's purge of Bernie backers from the DNC-- yesterday the DNC rejected Bob Mulholland's resolution backed by corrupt conservatives and lobbyists that "would have urged independents such as Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont to 'register or affiliate with the Democratic Party' next year." Bob Mulholland is a well known California dirt-bag despised by activists for being, basically, the worst garbage crawling around inside the California Democratic Party. He managed to kill a 2007 party resolution to censure Dianne Feinstein for helping Bush to get reactionary judge Michael Mukasey confirmed as Attorney General. When Bruce Hershenson ran against Barbara Boxer Mulholland leaked a rumor that Hershenson was into porn and frequented a porn shop, effectively destroying his campaign. It's the kind of guy Mulholland has always been, a typical Democratic Party establishment hack-- pure trash, one of the kind who confuses people about the difference between the 2 parties.

In his attempt to drive progressives out of the party-- his life's work-- he whined yesterday that "I thought we were Democrats here. When the Yankees face off against the Dodgers, the only people who will be independent in that ballpark will be the umpires." No one offered a resolution kicking Mulholland off the DNC, something that would have gone over extremely well with California Democrats who hate this guy almost as much as they hate Trump.
But the negative attention on the resolution helped sink it. Terry Anderson, a DNC member from Vermont, told the committee that the language had been sprung on them without warning and didn’t reflect Sanders’s alliance with his state’s Democrats.

“It’s really troubling when you get your resolution package and you find out your state’s been named in it without any prior consultation,” said Anderson. “We’ve come to a solution that works for us, and we don’t need external voices telling us how to solve our primaries. Next year, Bernie will run for and win the Democratic primary, and he will win reelection-- as an independent.”

The resolution died with a quick voice vote.

Earlier in the day, Sanders supporters scored another win by passing language officially rejecting “corporate donors that conflict with our DNC platform.”

That language had first been introduced in 2016, when the DNC’s quadrennial platform committee met over two days to hammer out differences between supporters of Sanders and Clinton. Christine Pelosi, a San Francisco activist who had backed Clinton in the primary, introduced language that would committed the party to rejecting money from business interests whose interests conflicted with the party’s platform. The platform committee, dominated by Clinton delegates, voted it down.

But on Friday morning, Pelosi took another run at the idea, describing it a way for Democrats to codify their opposition to payday lenders and other businesses the party wants to regulate.

“In our platform, the most progressive platform in party history, we condemn predatory payday lenders,” said Pelosi. “We need to draw bright lines.”

The language ended up passing easily.
This comes right on top of Bernie eviscerating conservative champion Ted Cruz in their CNN debate Wednesday night. Dan Engelke kept score for Alternate. Spoiler-- 8 to 0 for Bernie.
"In two minutes, Senator Cruz is going to tell you that if we give tax breaks to the billionaires like George W. Bush did, like Ronald Reagan did, we're going to create zillions of jobs and you're all going to become very, very rich, that we have a trickle-down economic theory, tax breaks for the wealthiest people, the largest corporations, and, whoa, everything is good. That is a totally fraudulent theory."

"Now, the Trump Republican tax proposal that's before us today, this proposal is being pushed by Senator Cruz's campaign contributors, some of the wealthiest people in this country, by the Koch brothers, who are worth $90 billion. Why are they pushing this agenda? Because 80 percent of the tax breaks in this proposal will go to the top 1 percent."

"Under President Bush, he did it. He gave tax breaks. And you know what happened? He gave tax breaks to the rich. And you know what happened? We lost 500,000 private sector jobs, and the national debt almost doubled under Bush."

"So this idea-- of giving tax breaks to large corporations-- is basically a fraud. Listen to what Ronald Reagan's domestic policy advisor Bruce Bartlett said. He said that virtually every Republican, what every Republican says about taxes today, is a lie. Reagan's OMB director David Stockman said that the idea that closing loopholes and adding growth will pay for trillions in cuts, quote, 'is just completely fanciful and irresponsible.'"

"I happen to believe that if you want to really get the economy moving, you do things like raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, put money into the hands of working people, provide targeted tax breaks to small businesses and working people, rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, creating 15 million jobs."

"Now, Ted, I gather you are a big deficit hawk, yeah? How did you vote on the authorization bill for the Department of Defense which increased military spending by, if I'm not mistaken, $700 billion, so that we are now spending more on the military than the next 12 nations combined? Check—correct me if I'm wrong, Ted—I think you voted for that huge increase in military spending. I think that at a time when we have people working two or three jobs trying to make ends meet, where kids can't afford to go to college and are leaving school deeply in debt, I happen not to think that spending $70 billion more on the military and giving a huge boondoggle to the military industrial complex that Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us about, I happen to think that was not a good idea."

"Let's examine what Senator Cruz really wants to do. He wants to see legislation passed that would give $1.9 trillion in tax breaks to the top 1 percent, significantly increase the national debt being passed on to our kids and our grandchildren. And in order to pay for these tax breaks for billionaires, he wants to throw 15 million people off of Medicaid, cut Medicare by over $450 billion, cut Pell Grants, cut programs like the WIC program, women, infant and children program, designed for low-income pregnant women and their little babies."

"Second point that I want to make, Ted, you said earlier—two points that I want to make here. Number one, we can have a debate about whether you like what's going on in Denmark or not. Don't compare Denmark to Cuba. Don't compare Denmark to communist countries. Denmark has a higher voter turnout rate than we do. They're a vigorous democracy, as are other Scandinavian countries."

The winning team

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


-by Noah

Republicans love to dole out that corporate welfare. They do it knowing that some of it will come back their way at election time and when there's a vote in Congress on something that might help grow the corporate offshore bank accounts or end the corporate welfare itself. Republican politicians also like to lie about how their corporate CEO benefactors need more and more tax breaks. It's never enough and it never will be. Their media hacks repeat the same tired crap. Just a few days ago, the so-called president was whining in his rose garden about how other countries offer lower tax rates to corporations. It was amazing that those rose bushes didn't just keel over and die. He even lied about Ireland planning on lowering their much criticized corporate tax rate from 12.5% to 8% which is something they are not doing. We shouldn't be surprised. If Señor Trumpanzee manages to put 10 semi-coherent sentences together (highly unlikely), 9 of them will consist of blatant pathological lies. He is, after all, the pathological liar-in-chief.

What CEOs, politicians and their media slaves don't tell you about the dirty little secret regarding U.S. corporate tax rates is that, although, they seem high at the code-written 35%, give or take, U.S. corporations enjoy so many tax loopholes and deduction privileges that that 35% ends up being roughly equal to the rate that most other countries offer. That's called the Effective Tax Rate, in other words, what they actually pay when you strip away Republican lies on the subject. Señor Trumpanzee wants to lower our corporate tax rate to a starting point of 20% which would be lower than the other leading industrialized nations. If the existing U.S. tax loopholes and deduction privileges are left in place, as would be likely after the graft is handed out... well, you do the math. We will end up with a tax system that features corporations paying no taxes at all.

Already, Secretary of State and Putin Best Bud Rex Tillerson's company, EXXON makes billions in profits every year and yet, often pays no taxes at all. Kinda makes you feel real sorry for them, doesn't it? I'm sure it also makes you feel bad that that means we are also subsidizing poor the bonuses of the poor starving EXXON executives. General Electric and others enjoy a similar tax position. On top of that, Congress has been paid to even give EXXON and other oil companies millions in subsidies very year; subsidies that come from our hard-earned taxpayer dollars. I guess there's just not enough prime rib and caviar in the company cafeteria. We pay at them at the pump and we pay them every April 15th. They soak us twice. Señor Trumpanzee approves of this system but thinks subsidies to insurance companies so that Americans can have cheaper healthcare are wrong. Of course, that one is all about his psychopathis desire to inflict pain and suffering on as many non-filthy rich Americans as possible. Goons like Trump and Hannity and their party call subsidies socialism, but only when it suits their psychopathology. Bottom line: If subsidies for insurance companies are socialism, why not call subsidies for companies like EXXON what they are even more so?

Republican voters support this farce. Same for independent and any democratic voters who naively go along. They are so easily manipulated to vote against their own self interests due to not having one single ounce of critical thinking ability. This is a prime example of how not all voters are the same. Manipulated fools look at the top two points of this meme, the ones about food stamps and safety net programs and their bigotries come roaring to the surface as they start whining about minorities getting "free stuff" and "handouts," never mind that the larger percentage of food stamps got to poor rural caucasians. The key, of course, is how they always love to point fingers and look for a group to focus their hate and anger upon, while never having the common sense to point at the douchebags in suits. It's so easy to lead such voters around by the nose; so easy that they have no idea of the contempt in which they are held by those who get over on them. Welfare to billionaires doesn't bother them at all, if only because they maintain their ignorance willfully. But, damn those non-existent welfare queens driving around in Cadillacs that they're told about about! Suckers born to be suckered.

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Friday, October 20, 2017

Even Dubya Recognizes A Dangerous Charlatan When He Sees One! Trump's Stature


Sam Jammal had a fantastic idea about how to use George W. Bush's denunciation of Trumpism against Ed Royce, the rubber stamp Orange County incumbent whose seat he's contesting. And I think most any Democratic challenger could use the same idea. I know Sam well enough to know he wouldn't even mind.

So here's the full text of the speech that someone wrote for Bush to read yesterday. It was such a relief for Washington Post conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin who was hired to give a right-wing perspective on the universe and spends all her time lately denouncing Señor Trumpanzee. Yesterday she blared, proudly, This is what a president sounds like! Yeah, yeah... "Former president George W. Bush gave a speech today-- a bookend, if you will, to Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) address early in the week upon accepting the Liberty Medal. Bush spoke in a tone and with substance so different from what we have become acclimatized to hearing that his address has provoked a huge, bipartisan thumbs-up, as though the country collectively could say, 'Oh, that is what a president is supposed to sound like!'"

Bush surely had President Trump in mind when he addressed conspiracy theories, nativism, incivility and more, but I think it’s safe to say his intended audience was the moribund GOP. We have now seen the party he used to lead decline into passivity and pure partisanship, again and again enabling Trump rather than rallying to American principles and looking to the c0mmon good. We’ve seen Republicans eschew governance in favor of divisive sloganeering. One president like Trump is bad enough; the acceptance of his inhumanity by one of the major parties is a tragedy and national emergency.

...Every Republican who endorsed Trump, turns a blind eye to his unfitness, or excuses his heinous language and conduct should feel shame upon hearing those words.

Bush’s recommendation is simple but hardly simplistic: “We need to recall and recover our own identity. Americans have a great advantage: To renew our country, we only need to remember our values.” He’s talking to you, Republicans, who’ve forgotten what he rightly calls the American creed:
Our identity as a nation-- unlike many other nations-- is not determined by geography or ethnicity, by soil or blood. Being an American involves the embrace of high ideals and civic responsibility. We become the heirs of Thomas Jefferson by accepting the ideal of human dignity found in the Declaration of Independence. We become the heirs of James Madison by understanding the genius and values of the U.S. Constitution. We become the heirs of Martin Luther King, Jr., by recognizing one another not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

This means that people of every race, religion, and ethnicity can be fully and equally American. It means that bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed.

There is nothing in his four basic recommendations-- hardening our defenses against external threats to democracy, maintaining U.S. leadership in the world, strengthening democratic citizenship and “call[ing] on the major institutions of our democracy, public and private, to consciously and urgently attend to the problem of declining trust”-- that Democrats of good faith should dispute. They’ll have differences in specifics (When should we intervene internationally? Which electoral reforms do we need?) but that is understandable and healthy.

What is critical is that Bush has identified precisely the issues that must be addressed if we are to stave off Trump and Trumpism. Democrats, including ex-presidents, would be foolish not to embrace Bush’s agenda and where possible work together. After all, we are all Americans who embrace the “ideal of human dignity found in the Declaration of Independence . . .  [and] the genius and values of the U.S. Constitution” as well as the commitment to equal rights and justice for all Americans. It’s the current president who doesn’t get it, but there is a solution (several, actually) for that as well.
Bush sees Trump as a threat to American democracy. Why do so many Republicans in Congress claim to not see that threat? Bush says "bigotry seems emboldened." How come he sees it but California congressional Republicans like Ed Royce, Darrell Issa, David Valadao, Mimi Walters, Steve Knight, Jeff Denham and Dana Rohrabacher don't. Why is that? Why?

UPDATE: Bannon Denigrates Bush-- California Republicans Cheer

Friday night, Bannon gave the keynote address at the California Republican Party convention in Anaheim. He depicted Bush as bumbling and inept, faulting him for presiding over a "destructive" presidency during his time in the White House. Bannon said Bush had embarrassed himself and didn’t know what he was talking about.

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