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"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross." -- Sinclair Lewis

Last Build Date: Sat, 29 Apr 2017 07:58:55 +0000


Trump's First Hundred Years

Sat, 29 Apr 2017 04:00:00 +0000

This morning-- Day 99 of the Trump Regime-- the Commerce Department released a sour look at what's happened to the economy since Mr. "I thought it would be easier" was installed in the Oval Office. According to the NY Times, "the economy barely grew, expanding at an annual rate of only 0.7 percent. The growth was a sharp decline from the 2.1 percent annual rate recorded in the final quarter of last year. It was the weakest quarterly showing in three years. Consumption, the component reflecting individual spending, rose by only 0.3 percent, well below the 3.5 percent rate in the previous quarter. The first-quarter performance upset expectations for a Trump bump at the start of 2017.Trump says he thought it would be easier. What a shock! Some 70 year old who inherited a fortune and lied and cheated his way through a corrupt business world watched Fox News and thought being president was just... well, being like Fox News. He misses driving, feels as if he is in a cocoon, and is surprised how hard his new job is.President Donald Trump on Thursday reflected on his first 100 days in office with a wistful look at his life before the White House."I loved my previous life. I had so many things going," Trump told Reuters in an interview. "This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier."As we mentioned the other day, while it looks like everything Trump tries to do fails, from his ban of Muslim immigrants and his Great Wall of Trumpiness to his promise to repeal healthcare for millions of American families, he's succeeding to do a lot of damage on many levels. This morning Matthew Yglesias pointed out how Trump has been winning, winning, winning in the on area that means the most to him: self enrichment. Donald Trump attracted a reputation over the years as a ruthless and unscrupulous businessman. He said on the campaign trail that having been “greedy all my life,” he now wanted to be greedy on behalf of the American people-- but nobody [nobody?] seriously believed him. Marco Rubio warned that Trump was a “con artist,” and Ted Cruz labeled him “completely amoral.” Liberals, needless to say, were not kinder in their judgments.From the day Trump announced his candidacy until the day he took the Oval Office, the smart take on him was that he was running on a lark, as a publicity stunt, or to lay the groundwork for some business endeavor.Yet since his ascension to the White House, conventional wisdom has developed an odd tendency to describe his inability to make major legislative changes as an indication that his presidency is failing. It's certainly true that Paul Ryan’s speakership of the House is failing, arguable that Mitch McConnell’s tenure as majority leader of the Senate is failing, and indisputably true that the Koch brothers’ drive to infuse hardcore libertarian ideological zeal into the GOP is failing.But Trump isn’t failing. He and his family appear to be making money hand over fist. It's a spectacle the likes of which we've never seen in the United States, and while it may end in disaster for the Trumps someday, for now it shows no real sign of failure....Trump... funnels money directly into his own pockets. Like many previous presidents, he golfs. And like all presidents who golf, when he hits the green, he is accompanied by Secret Service agents. The agents use golf carts to get around the courses. And to get their hands on the golf carts, they need to rent them from the golf courses at which the president plays. All of this is fundamentally normal-- except for the fact that Trump golfs at courses he owns. So when the Secret Service spends $35,000 on Mar-a-Lago golf cart rentals, it’s not just a normal security expense-- Trump is personally profiting from his own protection.The Secret Service has, similarly, paid $64,000 for “elevator services” in Trump Tower. This is a fairly normal kind of expense for the agency, paying a building money to defray the inconvenience of taking elevators offline so they can be inspected for security purposes. But, again, there is nothing[...]

Another Trump Property Tarred With His Toxic Name Is Forced To Close-- Maybe Koi Could Reopen In Clay Co, Kentucky

Sat, 29 Apr 2017 01:00:00 +0000

I bet folks in McKee, Kentucky would LOVE a Trump-branded something in their town of 800. This one is available for movingJust under a year ago I spent some time in Azerbaijan, mostly in Baku, the capital city. I went to see Trump Tower, which had opened and closed in a matter of days, and blogged about it a bit. Trump's Mafia business partners, the Mammadovs (AKA the Coreleones of the Caspian), were stuck holding the bag when the CIA insisted GOP nominee Trump extricate himself and Ivanka from a full-time criminal enterprise that was working as money launderers for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. After it was shuttered, people wondered in Baku wondered if it would be rebranded with a less toxic name-- like Motel 6-- or if the Mammadovs would just wait it out and see if Trump's name became less toxic or even, alluring on some level. It didn't and they tried to burn it down.Today it's still standing-- empty and forlorn-- in a sketchy Baku neighborhood, sucking money. It's just there, all 33 stories that you can see from almost anywhere in the city. The concierge from a much more luxurious Baku hotel told me Trump's name is so toxic in Azerbaijan that its not likely the hotel will ever open. The Trump Organization has removed it from its website-- disappeared; never happened.This week another Trump property succumbed to... all things Trump. The high end sushi restaurant at Trump Soho, Koi, shut down because of a lack of business. According to GrubStreet, "his controversial campaign’s harsh rhetoric and administration’s agenda have made many potential customers uneasy about giving their business to Trump’s properties. Residents of Manhattan’s Trump Place successfully changed their property’s name, two celebrity chefs famously backed out of D.C.’s Trump International Hotel and others were unwilling to replace them, and Trump’s new line of hotels won’t bear his name. Then last December, a month after three NBA teams announced they wouldn’t stay at his hotels, members of the Cleveland Cavaliers (including Black Lives Matter supporter LeBron James) refused to stay at the Trump Soho. Now, that hotel’s restaurant operator, Koi, an international chainlet of sushi spots for beautiful people, is shuttering its outpost there. But this isn’t a closing as usual. It’s collateral damage from the rise of Trump." [By the way, folks in Clay County, Kentucky might think of sushi as bait but they only gave Hillary 11% of their vote last year. Sounds like a perfect place for Uday and Kusay to open Trump-branded properties... or Jackson County, where Trump won 88.9% of the vote, but where everyone is a prescription drug zombie.] “Obviously, the restaurant is closing because business is down. I don’t think anyone would volunteer to close a business if they were making money,” Suzanne Chou, Koi Group’s general counsel, says with a laugh. “Beyond that, I would prefer not to speculate as to why, but obviously since the election it’s gone down.”A California import, Koi is a familiar style of pan-Asian restaurant: clubby, expensive, and popular with celebrities and professional athletes. It’s not in any food snob’s regular rotation, but the Los Angeles original (branches have opened in Bangkok, Las Vegas, and Dubai) has long been a destination for the rich and famous. When the Soho location opened in 2012, Forbes Travel Guide wrote, “where there’s a Koi dish, there’s a celebrity.” Though Chou declined to delve specifically into how much business had gone down, Koi staffers say that the election has had an impact on the restaurant’s bottom line, and their paychecks.Now, references to the downtown branch have been scrubbed from both the Koi Trump Soho’s homepages. A limited menu (“30 to 40 percent of what we used to carry,” the reservationist says) will be served until June 18, when Koi and menu items like “She’s So LA” rolls will vacate the building for good. No one other locations will close, and Chou says that the group hopes to reopen somewhere else do[...]

Backing Trump's Tax Proposals Will Be Very Costly For Scores Of Republican Incumbents

Fri, 28 Apr 2017 21:00:00 +0000

One deduction that Trump's tax plan seeks to eviscerate just happens to focus primarily on blue states. If his plan passes, deductions of state and local taxes from federal income taxes will be eliminated. There are 7 states with no state income tax-- Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming-- and neither Tennessee nor New Hampshire taxes wages, so those 9 states won't be impacted at all. But states where state and local taxes are high and where the deductions are considerable include California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, Oregon, Vermont, Iowa, Wisconsin, Hawaii and Rhode Island.This one hurts the upper-middle class worst of all, transferring $1.8 trillion in the next decade from their bank accounts into paying for tax cuts for multimillionaires, billionaires and corporations. Organizations representing state and local entities-- the National Governors Association, the National Association of Counties, the National League of Cities, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the International City/County Management Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Council of State Governments-- are up in arms and make the case that the deduction should be preserved because it gives municipalities the flexibility to provide services to residents. "Any alterations to the deduction would upset the carefully balanced fiscal federalism that has existed since the permanent creation of the federal income tax over 100 years ago... We urge Congress to maintain the state and local deduction and the tax exemption for municipal bond interest. We will work with Congress to ensure that states and local governments have the tools we need to foster healthy, safe and vibrant communities."California taxpayers will be probably hit the hardest. I haven't heard a peep out of California Republicans-- particularly not House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Are California Republicans going to stand up for the state's residents or for Trump? There are 14 Republicans in the 53-member California congressional delegation, 7 in electorally very vulnerable seats. This is the whole GOP state delegation and the percentage in parenthesis was what Trump won in each district: • Doug La Malfa (56.2%)• Tom McClintock (54.0%)• Paul Cook (54.7%)• Jeff Denham (45.5%)• David Valadao (39.7%)• Devin Nunes (52.1%)• Kevin McCarthy (58.1%)• Steve Knight (43.6%)• Ed Royce (42.9%)• Ken Calvert (53.4%)• Mimi Walters (44.4%)• Dana Rohrabacher (46.2%)• Darrell Issa (43.2%)• Duncan Hunter (54.6%)We asked Wendy Reed, the Berniecrat running against Leader McCarthy in the Trumpiest district in the Golden State. "The desire to tax our taxes displays how clueless Trump and the Republican leadership are about American tax policy," she told us. "Regressive and just plain clueless." Just next door is the most endangered of all the state Republicans: Steve Knight. Katie Hill, who runs a non-profit for homeless vets is taking Knight on. She told us that "Getting rid of the state and local tax deduction will have a huge impact on middle class Californians-- most of the people in the 25th district. The Trump tax plan will also mean a tax increase for nearly 8 million families-- including the majority of single parent households. Surely Steve Knight won't support a tax increase for so many of his own constituents." So far Knight is keeping his opinion to himself.And as we said, it's not just California where this transfer of wealth from the middle class to the billionaire class is going to cause real pain. Although Trump won with 49.7% in IL-13, a district that goes south from Bloomington and Champaign through Decatur and on into the outer suburbs north and east of St. Louis, GOP incumbent Rodney Davis is being targeted by Dr. David Gill who nearly beat Davis once before, 46.5% to 46.2%, just 1,002 votes. As long as the DCCC doesn't interfere, Gill is likely to beat Davis in 2018. He told us that "The plan proposed ye[...]

Warning To Establishment Democrats-- Working Families Party Triumphs In Connecticut House Race

Fri, 28 Apr 2017 17:00:00 +0000

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="255" src="" width="420">Something very nice happened in Hartford, Connecticut Tuesday. There was a special election for an open state House seat from which the Democrat, Douglas McCrory, had resigned after winning a state Senate seat. And the winner-- in an overwhelmingly Democratic city-- was not the candidate endorsed by the Democratic Establishment, but a Working Families Party progressive candidate, Joshua Hall, a vice president of the Hartford Federation of Teachers and former treasurer of the state Democratic Party. The Hartford race had the flavor of a Democratic primary, pitting Hall against Rickey Pinckney Sr., the Democratic-endorsed candidate, and a petitioning candidate, former Rep. Kenneth P. Green, D-Hartford. Hall is only the second candidate to win a Connecticut legislative seat as an WFP candidate, the first in the House.A registered Democrat, Hall said he will be a member of the House Democratic majority. Edwin A. Gomes of Bridgeport, who won a special election to the Senate on the WFP line in 2015, is a member of the Senate Democratic caucus... Unofficial results showed Hall with 625 votes to 512 for Pinckney and 367 for Green.“The thing for me is to make sure the state budget isn’t balanced on the backs of working families,” Hall said. “I think that’s the most critical. thing, not compromsing anything with regard to that.”Hall had a narrow lead until the returns came in at 9 p.m. from the Rawson School in Blue Hills, a middle-class neighborhood in the city’s predominantly black North End, and cheers erupted at the WFP headquarters.“Joshua Hall’s victory comes at a time when more strong, progressive leaders are sorely needed in Hartford and in our state,” said Lindsay Farrell, the executive director of the WFP. “The city is in fiscal crisis and without state help, Hartford residents will be hurt by deep cuts, the effects of which will resonate across the region.”The Hartford race exposed tensions between Democrats and the Working Families Party, a labor offshoot that fashions itself as the progressive conscience of Connecticut politics.Pinckney’s campaign, which had the support of city and state Democratic leaders, hit Hall with a mailer questioning his Democratic bonafides in a city with an all-Democratic legislative delegation.“Working Families Party? Not on our watch,” said the mailer. “There are only 26 registered Working Families members in our district. Only 26. Don’t let them steal our seat.”Normally the Working Families Party just endorses Democrats, sometimes really unsavory corrupt conservatives, but has been veering in a far more progressive and proactive direction in the last few years. The Working Families Party makes little effort to enroll party members. With rare exceptions, it has existed to push and prod Democrats, rewarding allies with cross-endorsements in general elections, backing progressives in Democratic primaries and, as is the case in the Hartford special election, occasionally directly opposing a Democratic nominee it finds wanting.“Ultimately, we are an independent organization,” said Lindsay Farrell, the executive director of the WFP. “We feel, when the Democratic Party has gotten it wrong, we’ll do our own thing. This is one of those times. I can’t speak to whether or not that’s going to hurt our relationship. It’s up to them whether that hurts our relationship. That’s up to them.”Questioning the Democratic bonafides of Hall is misleading, she said, given that all three candidates are registered Democrats who would be a member of the House Democratic caucus. Sen. Edwin A. Gomes, D-Bridgeport, won a special election on the WFP line, then resumed life as a Democrat in good standing....“Democrats don’t own the seat. The voters own the seat,” Farrell said of the Hartford race. “The voters are allowed to make a choice about issues and the qualific[...]

Will Ryan Make His Members Walk The Plank For TrumpCare 3.0 Today? Tomorrow?

Fri, 28 Apr 2017 13:00:00 +0000

Since the Congressional Budget Office announced that they're nowhere near scoring TrumpCare 3.0-- and won't even have it for next week either-- Ryan could surprise everyone today and announce an instant vote. I think if the House Republicans have the votes to pass it-- regardless of how flat on its face it would fall in the Senate-- Ryan and McCarthy could actually succumb to Trump Regime pressure and call for the vote in a few hours. But I doubt it. First off, it looks like for every Freedom Caucus crackpot they gained by eliminating the popular preexisting condition coverage requirement, they lost a more mainstream conservative. (Late last night McCarthy's office said they still didn't have enough votes to pass this pig.)Mike Coffman, (R-CO) represents a suburban Denver district that was won by Obama over Romney 51.6% to 46.5% and then by Hillary over Trumpanzee 50.2% to 41.3%. He says if Ryan calls the vote today-- before he's finished analyzing it-- he'd vote NO. Very tough district. Adam Kinzinger, represents an Illinois district Trump one substantially but he's shifted from a YES on the original TrumpCare to a "maybe" on this version. Staten Island's Dan Donovan is in a swingy district which is the only district in NYC that went for Trump (53.6% to 43.8%)-- after going for Obama in 2012. He says he was a NO on TrumpCare 1.0 and 2.0 and says 3.0 has made him even more certain he's voting NO. Majority Whip Steve Scalise says he's given up on Donovan. The Ohio GOP-held district which Trump did worst-- OH-10-- is represented by Mike Turner. Yesterday he said he was against the first version and that there's nothing in the new version that's moving him to change his mind.Texas wing nut Pete Sessions has been counted on to support every far right crackpot scheme that's ever come down the pike-- until now. Hillary won-- shockingly-- his suburban district north of Dallas 48.5% to 46.6%, enough to scare the crap out of Sessions. Yesterday he was quoted saying that he sees "no net advantage" in votes for AHCA with the MacArthur/Meadows changes. "I don't see any impact by it." Other announced NO votes include Mark Amodei (NV), Andy Biggs (AZ), Barbara Comstock (VA), Jeff Denham (CA), Charlie Dent (PA), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA), Walter Jones (NC), John Katko (NY), Leonard Lance (NJ), Frank LoBiondo (NJ), Thomas Massie (KY), Patrick Meehan (PA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL), Chris Smith (NJ), Daniel Webster (FL), David Young (IA). Many more are hiding under their desks and refusing ti take a position-- praying that Ryan doesn't make them vote. In that category we have Darrell Issa (CA), John Culberson (TX), Steve Knight (CA), Will Hurd (TX), John Faso (NY), Paul Cook (CA), Dana Rohrabacher (CA), Pete King (NY), Elise Stefanik (NY), Don Young (AK), David Valadao (CA), Ed Royce (CA), Rod Blum (IA), David Joyce (OH), Bruce Poliquin (ME), and Fred Upton (MI).James Hohmann, writing for the Washington Post reports that the Regime (Bannon) is trying to pressure Ryan with the threat that if repeal collapses, he's getting the blame. "The pressure," he wrote, "is suddenly on the Speaker, not the president, to convince potentially vulnerable members to walk the plank for an unpopular bill that’s still going to be dead on arrival in the Senate. Such a vote which could also cost some their seats next November. It will be the guys in the Tuesday Group, not the Freedom Caucus, who get swept out in a 2018 wave because they tend to come from more purple districts. Many are balking, but still undecided, about the revised proposal. A lot of Ryan allies are exasperated by the Trump push to rush a vote before the week is over. There are even rumors of scheduling one for Saturday-- to coincide with Trump’s 100th day. (This seems unlikely.) But it was a similar fixation on optics over substance that prompted Trump to demand a now-or-never repeal vote last month that would coincide with the seventh anniversary of the Affordable Care Act be[...]

Women's Choice Is Not A Cultural Issue Democrats Are Allowed To Compromise Away

Fri, 28 Apr 2017 04:00:00 +0000

The less bad anti-Choice candidate in Omaha?Activist Jodi Jacobson, founder of Rewire, was one of the people who rang the alarm bell on many elements within the Democratic Party for seemingly giving anti-Choicers a wink and a nod recently. There's a lot of misinformation floating around about the Democratic candidate for Omaha mayor, Heath Mello, and the circumstances of the hubbub around his relationship to the party. Yesterday Jodi endeavored to straighten it out and make it all clear and understandably. Let me just reiterate what I've already said: Blue America doesn't endorse anti-Choice candidates and we didn't endorse Mello. "Mayoral candidates also don’t normally draw national headlines," wrote Jodi, "but Mello did, because the endorsements also shed a glaring light on his past anti-choice record. Although he is running as a Democrat and lauded for progressive positions on numerous issues, as a Nebraska state senator, Mello co-sponsored and helped pass some of the worst state-level restrictions on abortion care in the country." Those laws remain in place, and Mello has neither denounced them nor made clear whether he now understands why they are so damaging. His elevation to a national stage has opened old and new wounds, once again raising the issue of whether the Democratic Party, and progressives writ large, truly understands the intrinsic connections between the most fundamental rights of women and the ostensible goals of a progressive agenda. It underscores the persistent but erroneous idea that abortion rights are just a “cultural issue” that can be subject to “beliefs,” rather than facts, medical evidence, and public health goals. It promotes the notion that you can restrict women’s rights and still be a progressive. It has also posed the question of whether the future leaders of the party will not only protect, but promote women’s health and rights by taking responsibility for repealing existing barriers, some of which they themselves have put in place. The initial answer to the last question seems to be no....Criticisms of the party’s embrace of Mello by leaders such as NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue led to a cycle of mansplaining (“You’re blocking our agenda with your wedge issues!”), misinformation (“Mello’s record isn’t that bad!”), and defensiveness (“But Bernie is pro-choice!”). And Democratic Party leaders demonstrated that after all this time, they can’t seem to grasp that there is no justice without reproductive justice; that women can’t enjoy full citizenship if they can’t decide whether, when, and with whom to have children; that access to abortion is a public health imperative; and that childbearing and childrearing are fundamentally economic activities no matter what tent you are pitching or where you pitch it.When women’s rights leaders protested, party leaders very quickly trotted out the most common Democratic Party shibboleths-- with the least basis in fact-- to quell the firestorm. Women were schooled about what it takes to win races in “red” states, never mind that time after time, poll after poll, ballot initiative after ballot initiative shows that no matter how they self-identify, voters in states controlled by right-wing legislatures do not desire to rob people of their fundamental rights and routinely vote against abortion restrictions when given the chance (take Colorado, Mississippi, or South Dakota for example). Never mind, either, that throughout the country women are literally running the resistance and fueling the resurgence of grassroots electoral power at the state level.The first people to effectively tell women to sit down were Sanders and DNC chair Tom Perez-- both of whom should have known better and who later reversed course to publicly support reproductive rights, because, let’s face it, a great deal of PAC money[...]

Did You Ever Imagine That The Trump Regime WOULDN'T Try To Kill Net Neutrality?

Fri, 28 Apr 2017 01:00:00 +0000

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="255" src="" width="420">While everyone was obsessing over the Trump Regime's Reverse-Robin-Hood tax proposal and the jolt of electricity the Frankstein monster known as TrumpCare just got, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, moved to kill net neutrality. He said that "high-speed internet service should no longer be treated like a public utility with strict rules, as it is now. The move would, in effect, largely leave the industry to police itself."At The Nation, John Nichols, went so far as to write that "no act of the recklessly authoritarian Trump administration poses a greater threat to the democratic discourse than the now-announced plan to gut net-neutrality rules. With newspapers dying, radio syndicated, broadcast television commercialized beyond relevance, and cable television mired in scandal and dead-end punditry, the Internet is the essential tool for the communication of ideas and the mobilization of those who choose to resist the autocratic impulses of Trump and his crony-capitalist cabal... Pai, wants to throttle net neutrality-- the first amendment of the Internet that guarantees equal protection for all voices in the digital universe where we now live." Former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps warned that, “By reopening the FCC’s historic 2015 Open Internet Order, the FCC is jeopardizing core protections for online free speech and competition. Chairman Pai appears more interested in currying favor with cable and telecom industry lobbyists than in serving the millions of Americans who wrote and called to urge the commission, during the original rule-making, to provide strong protections against online blocking, throttling, or censorship.”“Chairman Pai is kissing the ring of the Big Money lobbyists who too often call the shots in the Trump Administration,” declared Copps, who now works with Common Cause and other groups seeking to defend an open Internet. “Ending net neutrality would be a body blow to the open dialogue upon which successful self-government depends. It would be a red light for democracy and a green light for cable and telecom giants to control where we go and what we do on the internet.”...“FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is determined to give control of the internet to companies like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, no matter the cost to our economy and democracy,” says Craig Aaron, the president of the media reform group Free Press. “He’s continuing to ignore the mountains of evidence showing that the agency’s Net Neutrality rules are protecting internet users while spurring on investment and innovation.”...Gutting net neutrality, as Pai proposes, opens the way for telecommunications giants to colonize the Internet in the same way that they have done to broadcast and cable platforms-- replacing civic and democratic values with commercial and entertainment dictates. Despite claims made to the contrary, if Trump and Pai succeed, the United States will end up with an “information superhighway” for messages favored by corporate elites who can pay the tolls and a dirt road for messages from citizens who hold to the quaint American faith that human beings should have rights and corporations should have regulations.“It makes no sense,” says Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, a longtime advocate for an open Internet. “We cannot keep the promise of net neutrality openness and freedom without the rules that ensure it.”As the NY Times explained, "The plan is Mr. Pai’s most forceful action in his race to roll back rules that govern telecommunications, cable and broadcasting companies, which he says are harmful to business. But he is certain to face a contentious battle with the consumers and tech companies that rallied around the existing rules, which are meant to prevent broadband providers like AT&T and Comcast from giving special t[...]

Are There Democrats Who Want To Help Trump And Ryan Rob From The Needy And Give To The Greedy? You Bet There Are!

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 21:00:00 +0000

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="255" src="" width="420">Yesterday, after reading the Trump Regime's blueprint for for what they're calling "tax reform," Caifornia Congressman Ro Khanna issued a statement to his constituents explaining that "Trump’s plan takes money out of the pockets of working families to pay for a tax cut for the wealthiest individuals and corporations. Any tax reform plan must focus on closing loopholes that allow companies to avoid paying taxes. This one does the opposite. The United States could collect billions of dollars in new revenue and discourage companies from going offshore. Tax reform proposals must also recognize how to keep companies and jobs in the U.S. I encourage my congressional colleagues to engage in a thoughtful debate on how to change tax laws to incentivize corporations to create jobs here at home.” This morning's NY Times was even more direct: "a laughable stunt by a gang of plutocrats looking to enrich themselves at the expense of the country's future." Neil Irwin, writing in last night's NY Times, took a look at who the losers and who the winners are in the Trump Regime's tax plan. The winners: • Businesses with high tax rates. The plan would cut the 35 percent corporate income tax to 15 percent. While few businesses pay the full 35 percent rate, those that pay something close to it are in line for a huge tax cut.• High-income earners. The plan would reduce the top rate on individual income tax-- now 39.6 percent for income over around $470,000 for a married couple-- to 35 percent. But that’s only part of the gain for high-income earners. It also would eliminate a 3.8 percent tax, used to help fund Obamacare, that applies to investment income over $250,000 for a couple.• People with creative accountants. The 15 percent business tax rate could open a huge loophole for people to receive business income through a limited liability company or other pass-through entity instead of as wages. Depending on how the law is drafted, that could enable some people to pay that low 15 percent rate on their earnings instead of an individual income rate up to 35 percent. People who already receive their income through investment vehicles wouldn’t have to change anything for a windfall.• Multimillionaires who want to pass money to their heirs tax-free. The plan would eliminate the estate tax, which currently applies to individuals with estates of $5.5 million or couples with estates worth $11 million.• People who still fill out their tax returns by hand. Administration officials said the plan would simplify paying taxes, particularly emphasizing plans to eliminate the alternative minimum tax. The A.M.T. can definitely be annoying, and costly, but if you use an online tax preparation service, the software does most of the work.• Retailers and other companies that feared a “border adjustment tax.” The Trump administration did not embrace House Republicans’ big strategy to pay for the tax cut, which was strongly opposed by the retail industry and others that thought they would be losers.• Donald J. Trump. It is striking how many of the categories listed above affect the president and his family. He is a high-income earner. He receives income from 564 business entities, according to his financial disclosure form, and could take advantage of the low rate on “pass-through” companies. According to his leaked 2005 tax return, he paid an extra $31 million because of the alternative minimum tax that he seeks to eliminate. And his heirs could eventually enjoy his enormous assets tax-free.And the losers... most everyone else, especially upper-middle-income people in blue states like California and New York since the plan would eliminate the federal tax deduction for state and local income tax.Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) had a similar[...]

Obama Harvests His Presidency

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 17:00:00 +0000

 The Great House on billionaire Richard Branson's private Caribbean island prior to a devastating 2011 fire (source). It has since been rebuilt (click for tour). Cost to rent: $60,000 per night. Branson recently hosted the Obama family there for a post-presidential getaway. by Gaius PubliusMy words fly up, my deeds remain below.Words without deeds never to heaven go.    —Barack, Prince of Denmark, Act III, Scene 3This is a story I didn't want to produce, but fully expected to. For years I've been writing about Barack Obama and his legacy, the one he wants to have and the one he actually has. In 2013 I listed the four economic items Obama wanted to achieve to complete what he considered his legacy list before his presidency ended:Privatized “Medicare expansion” (the ACA). Benefits cuts for SS and Medicare. Keystone [pipeline built]. TPP [passed]. If Obama gets these four, he’s a happy man, and in his mind he goes out in glory.He succeeded on the first; tried and tried and tried on the second; bailed on the third only when forced to by popular opposition; and pulled out all the stops, every last one of them, to pass the fourth in the last months of his last year, even as his chosen Democratic successor, Hillary Clinton, under pressure in the primary, finally came out as opposed. (Obama's chosen DNC chair, Tom Perez, was never opposed, nor was anyone else close to his administration, though Perez doesn't talk about that much these days.)If it weren't for Tea Party and Freedom Caucus Republicans, he'd have been three for four — Social Security "reform" and TPP would have passed. Obama didn't lose for lack of trying.Obama's real legacy also includes zero bankers jailed for fraud despite the rampant criminal behavior of Wall Street in the run-up to the 2008 economic devastation. As he told a group of Wall Street CEOs in 2009, "My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks." He was right, and proved an effective shield. For all of those efforts, those that succeeded (passing ACA, protecting Wall Street CEOs) and those that failed (cuts to SS and Medicare, TPP, Keystone), he fully expected to be granted a "Bill Clinton future" — the big money, the big foundation, the international love and acclaim. You can read about his fundraising for the foundation here. It's quite a story in its own right. You can hear the international acclaim grow stronger by the day, thanks to the serendipitous contrast with his successor, Donald Trump. And now the money is starting to flow."Bill Clinton Money"  Fresh from his vacation on privately-owned Necker Island with billionaire Richard Branson, Obama has just inked his first lucrative speaking deal. The fee: $400,000. The venue: Wall Street.Mark Hensch at The Hill:Obama to net $400K for Wall Street speech: reportFormer President Obama has agreed to speak at a Wall Street conference for $400,000, according to a new report.Obama will appear at Cantor Fitzgerald LP’s healthcare conference in September, Fox Business Network first reported Monday.Fox Business said it confirmed Obama’s appearance with senior members at Cantor, a financial services firm.Obama will serve as the keynote speaker for one day at the company's event, sources there told Fox Business.The following is from the underlying Fox Business report by Charlie Gasparino and Brian Schwartz, who broke the story. Note the criticism that looks to us like praise (my emphasis):When he was president he called them “fat cats,” but now he’s likely thanking them for a huge payday.Former President Barack Obama, less than 100 days out of office, has agreed to speak at a Wall Street conference run by Cantor Fitzgerald LP, senior people at the firm confirm to FOX Business. His speaking fee will be $400,000, which is nearly twice as much as Hillary Clinton, his secret[...]

The Extremists In The Freedom Caucus Have A Secret Weapon Undermining Healthcare: Tom MacArthur (R-NJ)

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 13:00:00 +0000

A headline at Axios yesterday: GOP health care plan has momentum. This is the new plan where, aside from kicking 24 million people off health insurance, the Republicans gut protections for the sick (by eliminating protections for people with pre-existing conditions)-- and all to allow a tax cut for the super-rich. The far right extremists at the Freedom Caucus think it does enough damage to have earned their support. Whats known as the Meadows-MacArthur amendment allows states to waive a set of "essential health benefits" and a ban on charging sick people higher premiums in limited circumstances and if the state has established a high-risk pool. Radical anti-health care extremists like Dave Brat (R-VA), Raul Labrador (R-ID) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) are urging other extremists to vote for it-- and that may come as soon as Friday.The bill's impacts will be so bad for consumers that congressional Republicans exempted themselves and their staffers from the worst of the provisions, something that didn't go unnoticed by Democrats. Madison-based Democrat Mark Pocan called then right out on it: "House Republicans showed their hand when they exempted themselves from their own plan. If this latest version of Trumpcare isn’t good enough for Members of Congress, it’s not good enough for the American people. The reason Trumpcare failed, was that the American people took a long hard look at what the President and Speaker Ryan put on the table and flatly rejected it. Now, House Republicans are trying to introduce a worse version of Trumpcare that will likely cause more people to lose health insurance, make it harder for people with preexisting conditions to get coverage, and leaves people at the mercy of insurance companies."Meanwhile the Regime has some healthcare sabotage up its sleeve-- just in case. Mick Mulvaney spoke with Nancy Pelosi Tuesday night and threatened to cut off crucial ObamaCare payments as soon as next month. Canceling the payments to insurers, known as cost-sharing reductions (CSRs), would cause chaos in the insurance market. The payments are the subject of ongoing litigation, with a judge ruling them unconstitutional last year because Congress had not appropriated the money."Mulvaney indicated that while the Trump administration had continued the CSR payments, they had not yet decided whether they would make the May payment," the aide said. "Mulvaney made clear that, absent Congressional action, the judge's order would stand and the administration would cease making payments."Pelosi is pushing for the payments to be funded in the spending bill Congress is negotiating this week.If Mulvaney follows through on his comments, then that would raise the pressure on Congress to appropriate the payments so that they are not canceled, as the administration is threatening.Top congressional Republicans, though, are resisting funding ObamaCare payments in the spending bill, leading to a standoff.That could be awkward for mainstreamish conservatives in swingy districts. Politico and the rest of the Beltway media refers to them as "moderates," which they're not, but Politico's Kyle Cheney and Rachel Bade were correct in pointing out that much of this resuscitation mess is the fault of fake-moderate Tom MacArthur (R-NJ). "MacArthur," they wrote, "has singlehandedly kept the embers of the failed repeal-and-replace effort burning, huddling with the hard-line conservative Freedom Caucus to try to forge a deal. The negotiations have allowed the White House and GOP congressional leaders to insist that despite their embarrassing failure to pass health care legislation last month, they're still making progress. But the MacArthur-as-Republican health care savior narrative has bothered some GOP moderates, who say the New Jersey lawmaker is flying solo in negotiations with the Freedom Caucus. Thou[...]

Ohio Is All Gerrymandered Up-- And Of Course You Can Blame Arch Hypocrite John Kasich

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 04:00:00 +0000

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="255" src="" width="420">Want to understand Kasichism? Ohio Governor John Kasich has a new book out, Two Paths: America Divided or United, and you don;'t even have to read it because he's on a media blitz to push it. On The View Tuesday he addressed the reason-- a 2020 presidential run-- most people are paying attention to it: "A lot of people say, 'Well, he wrote this be 'cause he wants to run for office or whatever.' No, I wrote this book because, folks, we can't live fighting, even inside our own families."Later he was on Chris Hayes' show. It was so dull. Chris tried to make it interesting but Kasich didn't like being challenged on his conservative pieties. Eventually he just said, "We're not going to spend our time here arguing economics. You're a liberal, I'm a conservative... What I want to talk about is..." Chris, be a little more discerning with the book-writer guests.Kasich ended the evening with Trevor Noah on the Daily Show, clip above, where he actually said something useful and interesting. And he actually brought it up himself, his very last point in the 15 minute segment. "A handful of billionaires," he said, "could pick a president and that's just dead wrong. It's a Supreme Court ruling and I'm against it."Earlier he claimed to not like gerrymandering, although it's worth noting-- which Trevor didn't-- that one of the country's most repulsive gerrymanders-- Ohio-- was signed off on by Governor Kasich. It was done between Obama's two elections, when Ohioans were split down the middle. In 2008, Obama beat McCain 2,940,044 (52%) to 2,677,820 (47%) and in 2012 he beat Romney 2,827,710 (51%) to 2,661,433 (48%). In 2008 the Democrats won 10 congressional seats and the Republicans won 8 seats. Ohio lost 2 seats in the 2010 reapportionment and Republicans in the legislature-- with Kasich in the governor's mansion-- rejiggered the districts to give the GOP a 13-5 (and eventually a 12-4) majority. The 2016 Almanac of American Politics explained what happened: Republicans had cracked Columbus into multiple districts to shortchange Democrats. But the state capital was growing and attracting progressive-minded voters at such a rate that neither the Republican-held 12th [Pat Tiberi] nor 15th [Steve Stivers] might hold until 2020.So for three months in mid-2011, Republican legislative aides bunkered in a clandestine Columbus hotel room, and under the watchful guidance of U.S. House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, hatched yet another innovative scheme. Republicans would pack Democrats into a new Columbus 3rd District, merge Kaptur and Kucinich in a skinny 9th District stretching 100 miles along Lake Erie, and throw Sutton into a nearby 16th District favoring freshman Republican Jim Renacci. They would also have to sacrifice by merging two of their own, Dayton area Republicans Mike Turner and Steve Austria. But the creation of a Columbus Democratic vote sink would produce a beneficial ripple effect, allowing Republicans to shore up other freshmen and keep a 12-4 advantage.The legislature and Gov. John Kasich easily approved the plan... 21 Democrats caved and voted with the Republicans... Republicans got the 12-4 delegation they envisioned in a state that Barack Obama twice won.A constitutional amendment that would have established an independent congressional redistricting commission was defeated by voters on November 6, 2012. And last November Ohio gave Trump a pretty massive 2,841,005 (51.7%) to 2,394,164 (43.6%) win over Hillary Clinton. Trump won every Republican-held district and one Democratic-held district, Tim Ryan's 13th, where Obama's 62.9-35.4% win over Romney turned into a 51.1-46.6% Trump win.The DCCC ignored Ohio entirely in 2016-- they didn't back one Democ[...]

Time For The Democrats To Use Paul Ryan To Win Elections-- Montana

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 01:00:00 +0000

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="255" src="" width="420">Paul Ryan's SuperPAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund, has continued spending immense sums of money to prop up weak Republican candidates. Ryan spent millions on ineffective, counterproductive attack ads in GA-06 even before the GOP had a candidate, spent several hundred thousand dollars in KS-04 and is rapidly approaching the million dollar mark in Montana. Today Ryan's sleazy corporate-financed SuperPAC announced it would pour another $3.5 million into GA-06, bringing the total to $6.5 million, the most any outside group has ever spent in a congressional race anywhere. And Trump is headlining a fundraiser in Atlanta for Handel on Friday. Ryan's shady SuperPAC is spending $800,000 on the ad above in Billings, Bozeman, Great Falls and Missoula, hoping to tear down Rob Quist on behalf of the an untenable and out-of-touch Republican multimillionaire, Greg Gianforte.The ad attempts the old Republican trick of conflating every Democrat with Nancy Pelosi. Ironically, you know who people hate and mist-trust far more than Pelosi? Yep, Paul Ryan. Right-wing website Breitbart much a big deal out of the new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll that looks so terrible for Ryan. Forty percent of Americans hold an unfavorable view of Ryan, compared to only 22% who view him positively, according to the poll. The numbers represent a major decline in popularity since February, when Ryan’s net favorability was only one percentage point negative. The same drop in support is mirrored among Republican poll respondents, with net favorability falling from 49-points to 23 in the same period.Ryan’s drop in popularity was more significant than that among the long-abysmally low rating for Congress as a whole. The percentage of those with a favorable view of congressional performance fell from 29 to 20 since February. The drop among Republicans was more significant, falling to a mere 31% from the high 40s.This outpouring of disapproval comes after Speaker Ryan spearheaded the abortive effort to repeal and replace Obamacare with his own “American Health Care Act.” The bill had to be withdrawn for lack of support and drew criticism from across the spectrum of Republican politics. The perception of Ryan’s ability to deliver legislative victories in the House took a major hit in the aftermath of his health care bill’s demise, with some members of Congress calling for his replacement.Other legislative initiatives have stalled under Ryan’s leadership. He has repeatedly stated that tax reform will likely to be possible only after the precarious health care situation is untangled. At the moment, the House is embroiled in a struggle to pass a budget to keep the government running, with contention over the funding of President Donald Trump’s signature border wall apparently stalling this often routine measure.As Congressional Republicans approach the oft-discussed 100-day mark of the Trump presidency, Speaker Ryan is unable to point to any major legislative accomplishment. Negotiations are ongoing to revive the momentum for implementing the GOP’s agenda, but the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll suggests the electorate is losing confidence in the Republican leadership’s ability to do so.Tying Gianforte's campaign to Paul Ryan might be a great strategy for Montana Democrats and for the DCCC. In fact, it might be a far better approach than this pretty innocuous stab at a negative ad: allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="255" src="" width="420">[...]

Will Putin-Gate Lead To Impeachment?

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 21:00:00 +0000

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="255" src="" width="420">Looks like his decision to not seek reelection has set Jason Chaffetz free from at least some partisan obligations to the Trumpist Regime. Watch that video above. Responding to a question about Trump/Putin crony Michael Flynn, Chaffetz said "As a former military officer, you simply cannot take money from Russia, Turkey or anybody else. And it appears as if he did take that money. It was inappropriate. And there are repercussions for the violation of law." CNN reported that "The announcement about Flynn comes a week after CNN reported that Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and a senior adviser to the President, has yet to detail to the federal government all of his foreign contacts, a condition of receiving his top secret security clearance, CNN has learned. When Kushner first submitted his forms to the FBI, he left the section about foreign contacts blank-- despite the fact that he had met with a large number of foreign emissaries and leaders once Donald Trump became the president-elect and he became the point man for international contacts for the incoming Trump administration."Trumpist flack Spicy Spice then went on the air to say that Chaffetz's and the House Oversight Committee’s request for documents on Flynn is "pretty outlandish," defending the Regime's shocking denial of the request. The number of Americans who want an independent, non-partisan professional investigation into Putin-Gate has been growing by leaps and bounds, According to the new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll the number of Americans who want an independent probe is now 73%. And 61% of respondents say they have little to no confidence in Congress conducting a fair and impartial investigation into Russia's involvement in the 2016 election.Putin-Gate is now a giant octopus of interconnected scandals that is quickly swallowing the entire Trump Regime. It's no longer just about Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Carter Page-- all of whom are likely to see prison terms-- but has spread right to the top, including Kushner-in-law. Devin Nunes, head of the Intelligence Committee was forced to recuse himself from the investigation (as was Attorney General Jeff Sessions) and Nunes is now under investigation himself for having participated in a coverup.Yesterday Politico reported that Flynn's stint as a secret lobbyist for Turkey was tied to-- wait for it-- Putin! The Turkish man who gave Mike Flynn a $600,000 lobbying deal just before President Donald Trump picked him to be national security adviser has business ties to Russia, including a 2009 aviation financing deal negotiated with Vladimir Putin, according to court records.The man, Ekim Alptekin, has in recent years helped to coordinate Turkish lobbying in Washington with Dmitri “David” Zaikin, a Soviet-born former executive in Russian energy and mining companies who also has had dealings with Putin’s government, according to three people with direct knowledge of the activities.This unusual arrangement, in which Alptekin and Zaikin have helped steer Turkish lobbying through various groups since at least 2015, raises questions about both the agenda of the two men and the source of the funds used to pay the lobbyists.Although Turkey is a NATO ally, its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has grown increasingly authoritarian and friendly with Putin. And the hiring of Flynn by Alptekin came at a time when Flynn was working for Trump’s campaign and Putin’s government was under investigation for interfering with the U.S. election.Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner, declined to comment. In a filing with the Justice Department, Flynn said he relied on assurances fr[...]

Trump Continues To Make It Impossible For Congressional Republicans To Govern

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 17:00:00 +0000

Everything Trump puts his hand to turns to crap. Yesterday even Rush Limbaugh accused him of being, in effect, a loser. "I’m not happy to have to pass this on. I’m very, very troubled to have to pass this on. And I want to say at the outset that I hope my interpretation is wrong, and I hope this is not the case. But it looks like, from here, right here, right now, it looks like President Trump is caving on his demand for a measly $1 billion in the budget for his wall on the border with Mexico." Trump isn't fit for any government position under any circumstance and the fact that this ignorant crook is president and has some role in governance is just crazy. But this is exactly what conservatism leads to.Even GOP corporate whores in Congress think Trump's push to cut corporate taxes from 35% down to 15% is insane and potentially extremely damaging to the economy. It would send the national debt into the stratosphere. Since this kind of thing can't be passed under reconciliation, Trump would need all the Senate Republicans and a handful of Democrats to get this passed, even if it manages to pass the House. Ryan is trying to help by offering to use a border adjustment tax (BAT) to raise a trillion dollars but even that isn't enough and not even Trump likes the tax. Club For Growth is on the warpath over it already and has been targeting Republican congressmembers who back it. Look at this ad they're running in Houston against vulnerable GOP doofus John Culberson: allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="255" src="" width="420">Yesterday the Washington Post reported that Congress' Joint Committee on Taxation found that even Ryan's plan to cut the corporate tax rate to 20% would lead to massive revenue losses-- in the realm of nearly half a trillion dollars. The Joint Committee found that "cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent in 2018, 2019  and 2020 would lead to a decline in tax revenue collected those years by roughly one-third. And tax receipts would continue falling-- albeit only slightly-- in subsequent years, in part because companies would rush to repatriate money they are holding overseas during the tax holiday. The result would be reduced taxes on those foreign profits in future years." While Ryan and other House Republicans are advocating a reduction in the corporate tax rate to 20 percent, President Trump wants the corporate rate lowered to 15 percent, which would lead to an even bigger drop in revenue, although the committee did not provide an estimate for such a change. The White House is expected to reveal more details of its tax plan Wednesday.“We note that we project a nonnegligible revenue loss in the tax years immediately following the budget window notwithstanding the temporary nature of the tax reduction,” says the letter, which was signed by Thomas Barthold, the Joint Committee’s chief of staff.The letter illustrates how even a temporary cut in the corporate tax rate could create major revenue challenges. It also shows how difficult it would be for Republicans to pass long-term changes to the tax code. Under Senate rules, a permanent tax cut that is expected to expand the deficit needs 60 votes to pass-- a major obstacle for Republicans, who control only 52 seats in the chamber. Without 60 votes, Republicans would be able to pass only temporary tax cuts, and the three-year cut referred to in the Joint Committee’s letter probably would not qualify, because of the reductions in taxes in later years.The bullshit artist in the Oval Office is using the oldest trick in the book-- long discredited-- to pull the wool over everyone's eyes, claiming t[...]

GOP Dysfunction And Failure Are Attracting Quality Candidates To Congressional Races

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 13:00:00 +0000

Back in February 34% of Americans were very confident that Ryan's plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would make healthcare better. Does that sound like a small number of people? Since then, people have had a chance to see Ryan's concrete plans (TrumpCare) and according to the new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll that number has shrunk... to 8%. And a Washington Post poll shows something even more bizarre, namely that large numbers of Trump voters reject the actual core ideas around which the Republican health plan is premised. For example, a majority of these Trump voters-- just like normal people-- favor a national ban on hiking premiums on preexisting conditions. Turning this into a potentially even more toxic brew is the revelation that most voters in key swing states which Trump carried--Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania-- now finally understand that Trump is a liar. Just over half of the Republicans in those states say he exaggerates the truth, while close to 70% of Democrats say he intentionally lies. Luckily for Señor Trumpanzee, most voters (84%) operate from an assumption that all Republican politicians lie and that he's isn't special in that way.How many 2018 Republican-held House seats does this imperil? That same Wall Street Journal/NBC poll found that dissatisfaction with congressional Republicans in general and with Paul Ryan in particular is growing exponentially. Only 22% of voters now see Paul Ryan positively-- and nearly double that number have a negative impression of him. In February there was just a 1% gap between those who liked him and those who didn't. The gap is now 18%-- and not in Ryan's favor. Only one in five Americans think Congress-- completely controlled by the Republican Party-- is doing a satisfactory job.Just in the last two days, more grassroots (as opposed to DCCC-imposed) Democratic congressional candidates have come on the radar. A progressive emergency room nurse, activist and former Riverbank city councilwoman, Dotty Nygard, tossed her hat into the ring for the CA-10 seat held by confused Republican Jeff Denham. The Central Valley district, which stretches from Tracy, Manteca and Riverbank in the north through Modesto and down to Turlock and Newman in the south, saw Obama win twice and Hillary beat Trump 48.5% to 45.5% while the DCCC screwed up the congressional races in this white minority district again and again and again. In her Facebook statement she said that "an elected representative should embody the ideals, strengths, and spirit of the people they represent. Equally important, they must understand the concerns and struggles we face as individuals and as a community. An elected official must show leadership and dedication to their constituents, rather than sacrifice our future to the highest bidder. Here's my pledge to you: I will bring back the caring, compassion, and community that is often lost in the mundane, indifferent, business-as-usual culture in Washington and our Political establishment. I am running for congress to say enough is enough on your behalf!"
NO MORE playing politics with our Healthcare,

NO MORE playing politics with our natural resources,

NO MORE playing politics with our children's education or our ability to earn a living wage and support our families."We deserve better! We need to preserve and protect the nation's leading agricultural industry here within our rich Central Valley soils. The future sustainability of our region hangs in the balance, and will be decided at the voting booth in 2018. We must embrace our diversity and respect the tradition of immigration at the core of our Nation's heritage. I will stand FOR you, and I will[...]

Grinding Poverty? In America? Mostly In Areas Controlled By Republicans

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 04:00:00 +0000

Just before the Civil War, Issaquena County, Mississippi was the second richest county in America. That's because 92.5% of the inhabitants were slaves. 115 slave owners owned everyone else. They were rich because of the value of "slave property." Today Issaquena County has the 3rd lowest per capita income of any county in America-- $18,598 compared to $48,112 for the country as a whole. It's part of Mississippi's 2nd congressional district, represented by Bennie Thompson. The county, which had given Obama a 61-38% win over Romney, voted for Hillary over Trump, 56.5% to 42.6%. At least it has a congressman who advocates for policies that help poor people. Almost none of America's other poorest counties do.The two counties in the country worse off than Issaquena are Wheeler County, Georgia and Union County, Florida. Wheeler is named for Confederate General Joseph Wheeler, who was also a reactionary congressman from Alabama until 1900. Wheeler Co. (where the per capita income is $16,007) is part of Georgia's 12th congressional district, represented by right-wing kook Rick Allen, who was reelected in November with 61.6% of the vote. Trump won the congressional district 56.9% to 40.7%. Wheeler was even more Trump-oriented-- 67.6% to 30.7%. Allen is a knee-jerk GOP reactionary who does everything he can to make the lives of the poor folks in Wheeler County unbearable. Union County ($18,255) is the second poorest county. Part of Florida's 3rd congressional district, this backward hellhole is represented by far right nut case Ted Yoho, who is one of the most anti-working family members of Congress. He was reelected with 56.6% this past cycle and Trump took the district 56.2% to 40.2%. But Union County went for Trump in much greater numbers-- 80.2% to 17.8%.These are the dozen poorest counties in America: • Wheeler County, GA- $16,007- Rick Allen (R)• Union County, FL- $18,255- Ted Yoho (R)• Issaquena County, MS- $!8,598- Bennie Thompson (D)• Telfair County, GA- $19,306- Austin Scott (R)• Bledsoe County, TN- $20,719- Scott DesJarlais (R)• Ziebach County, SD- $20,944- Kristi Noem (R)• Stewart County, GA- $21,677- Sanford Bishop (Blue Dog)• Elliott County, KY- $21,745- Hal Rogers (R)• Concho County, TX- $22,008- Al Green (D)• Glades County, FL- $22,121- Tom Rooney (R)• Long County, GA- $22,525- Buddy Carter (R)• Lafayette County, FL- $23,012- Ted Yoho (R)Only two of the dozen poorest counties, Concho in Texas and Issaquena in Mississippi, are represented by congressmembers who advocate for poor people. The other 10 are represented by conservatives who are handmaidens of the wealthy and powerful.Trump won most of these counties by overwhelming margins-- 82.9% in Concho, for example. Hillary won Issaquena and Georgia's Stewart. According to Brookings, most poor people in the United States live in a community represented by a Republican and Republican districts have more poor residents overall: 25.1 million poor people lived in red districts in 2010-14 compared with 22.7 million in blue districts.Between 2000 and 2010-14, the poor population grew faster in red districts than blue. The number of people living below the poverty line (e.g., $24,230 for a family of four in 2014) in Republican districts climbed by 49 percent between 2000 and 2010-14 compared with a 33 percent increase in Democratic districts. As a result, Republican districts accounted for 60 percent of the increase in the nation’s poor population during that time. At the same time, poverty rates rose by similar margins in both red and blue districts (3.3 and 3.2 percentage points, respectively).According to a new book by MIT economist Peter Tem[...]

The Brotherhood Of The Traveling Five Eyes

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 01:00:00 +0000

4 Trump is willing to see go to prison for Putin-Gate-by Alex CampbellAt some point on Sunday while most Americans were enjoying a pleasant weekend afternoon, a week long conference started all the way across the globe at a tony golf resort called Millbrook located in Invercargill, New Zealand. No one knows what the subjects covered at the conference will be. And the participants at the conference won't even confirm that is happening and who is in attendance. The prime minister of New Zealand, Bill English, has said publicly that it is a meeting of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance and said to Radio New Zealand on Monday that it is "one of the regular conferences that they have, we work with the other four countries, combating terrorism, protecting our citizens around the world."The Five Eyes alliance is comprised of the intelligence agencies of the five English speaking countries of the world--Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The information sharing network was born out of the alliance formed in World War II between the U.S. and UK and after the war was officially expanded to include the other three Anglophone countries. In the spy community and intelligence circles, it is regarded as the closest alliance of intelligence agencies amongst countries. And the relationship between the UK and the U.S. agencies is especially close as reported by Buzzfeed last month when they covered Trump's "wiretapp" allegations and the subsequent fallout. "The US and UK’s intelligence cooperation is so deep that neither country’s signals intelligence-- material harvested from communications networks across the world-- is capable of operating independently. GCHQ and the NSA rely on each other’s code, access points, physical sites and staff to maintain their surveillance. GCHQ and NSA staff work from the same buildings, within feet of each other, at sites in the UK and across the world. It is by far the closest and most significant intelligence relationship for both nations-- and now that relationship is strained."On April 13, The Guardian reported that it was British spies who were the first to spot Trump team's links to Russia and turned that information over to American authorities: "GCHQ first became aware in late 2015 of suspicious “interactions” between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents, a source close to UK intelligence said. This intelligence was passed to the US as part of a routine exchange of information, they added. Over the next six months, until summer 2016, a number of western agencies shared further information on contacts between Trump’s inner circle and Russians, sources said. The European countries that passed on electronic intelligence-- known as sigint-- included Germany, Estonia and Poland. Australia, a member of the “Five Eyes” spying alliance that also includes the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand, also relayed material, one source said. Another source suggested the Dutch and the French spy agency, the General Directorate for External Security or DGSE, were contributors. It is understood that GCHQ was at no point carrying out a targeted operation against Trump or his team or proactively seeking information. The alleged conversations were picked up by chance as part of routine surveillance of Russian intelligence assets. Over several months, different agencies targeting the same people began to see a pattern of connections that were flagged to intelligence officials in the US."We don't have a confirmed list of participants for the meetings in New Zealand but we do know FBI Director James Comey arrived o[...]

15 House Republicans Join The Democrats To Stand Up Against Encroachments By Big Brother

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 21:00:00 +0000

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="255" src="" width="420">Do you remember what these 15 congresscritters have in common? • Justin Amash (MI)• Mo Brooks (AL)• Mike Coffman (CO)• Warren Davidson (OH)• Jimmy Duncan (TN)• John Faso (NY)• Garret Graves (LA)• Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA)• Walter Jones (NC)• Tom McClintock (CA)• Dave Reichert (WA)• Mark Sanford (SC)• Elise Stefanik (NY)• Kevin Yoder (KS)• Lee Zeldin (NY)Yes, they are all Republicans. Some are crazy right-wing lunatics from the Freedom Caucus like Mo Brooks and Warren Davidson; some are libertarians like Walter Jones, Jimmy Duncan and Justin Amash; some are relatively mainstream conservatives like John Faso snd Jaime Herrera Beutler. Because of the nature of their districts, some are in precariously vulnerable positions for reelection, like Mike Coffman, and some are set-for-life, like Garret Graves. But all 15 crossed the aisle on March 28 of thise year to vote with every single Democrat against Jeff Flake's Joint Resolution-- which has since been signed into law by Trump-- to allow Internet providers to sell our personal online data to the highest bidders without our permission and, in fact, without even informing us.That was insane for the Republicans-- regardless of how many of them took massive bribes from the internet providers-- to do. The bill passed narrowly, 215-205 and it makes every Republican, other than those 15, vulnerable on an issue millions American voters care very much about regardless of partisan politics. Matt Coffay is a leader of Our Revolution in western North Carolina. He's running for Congress, taking on Freedom Caucus chieftain Mark Meadows, one of the Republicans who voted to allow Internet providers to sell our personal information to whoever wants to buy it. Matt disagrees with that vote. This morning he told us, "My position on internet privacy is much like that of Senator Bernie Sanders: your internet history belongs to you, and not to corporations. This isn't complicated, or radical. How can Republicans in Congress claim that they want government to stay out of people's lives, and then vote for a bill that allows people's private browsing data to be sold to the highest corporate bidder? This bill is a violation of our right to privacy, plain and simple."David Gill is the progressive candidate for the IL-13 seat currently held by knee-jerk Republican Rodney Davis, who, of course, backed giving the Internet providers the green light to sell our personal information. David wasn't amused by his decision. "This vote represents yet another betrayal of his constituents by Rodney Davis: he took $49,000 from the telecom industry, and then he voted to allow those companies to sell your web browsing history to marketers and other third parties-- so much for privacy! I support undoing Citizens United & reforming campaign finance laws. When we take those steps, we'll have representatives who stand up for their constituents, rather than reps who sell out their constituents."Three years before Flake wrote his Joint Resolution, Michael Gurnow wrote The Ed Snowden Affair, a book that tackles many of the issues the GOP legislation starkly brings up for Americans. Even back then, he wrote that "data brokers take their information, organize it into precise little profiles, and offer it to anyone with an open checkbook." This includes the obvious customers, U.S. government and corporations, but they have other steadfast clients. Many “people locator” websites purchase data mining profiles and resell them to [...]

Are The 2018 Midterm Elections Turning Into A Dysfunctional Free-For-All?

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 17:00:00 +0000

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="255" src="" width="420">What is the DCCC looking for in candidates? • Wealthy self-funders• Republican-lite conservatives• ex-military officers• followers (as opposed to leaders)And what are they not looking for? Primary challenges to their own weak incumbents like these and idealistic progressives (i.e., Berniecrats). But that's what's comin' their way. Yesterday, Alex Thompson, who, very appropriately, doesn't know much-- if anything at all-- about electoral politics, penned a post for Vice, Trump Pushes Hundreds To Run For Congress about "an unprecedented early surge of Democrats"-- already over 400 of them-- running for House seats. He speculates that "This tsunami of Democratic challengers will likely make it more difficult for President Donald Trump to pass his legislative agenda as members of Congress-- Republicans and Democrats alike-- will be wary of casting votes that provide ammo to progressive Democratic challengers." I'm not as sanguine as Thompson on that point but I hope progressive candidates like Marie Newman and Talia Fuentes can force corrupt conservaDems Dan Lipinski and Kyrsten Sinema moderate their extreme Republican tendencies.Aside from the DCCC, groups across the spectrum of Democratic politics, from EMILY's List on the right to some of the Bernie-inspired groups on the left, everyone is recruiting and training and backing candidates, some of whom are awesome and some who are... less so.Thompson talked with Randy Wadkins, a chemistry professor at the University of Mississippi who is running in MS-01 in the northern part of the state, a district with a PVI of R+16, that includes suburbs south of the Memphis Airport, like Southaven, plus Oxford and Tupelo and most of the hill country. Both McCain and Romney beat Obama there with 62%. Last year Trump triumphed over Hillary 65.4-32.4%. The incumbent, backbencher Trent Kelly beat Democrat Jacob Owens 203,142 (68.8%) to 82,133 (27.8%). Owens didn't raise the $5,000 that would have triggered an FEC report. Kelly raised $1,053,947. Thompson wrote that "The anti-Trump resistance is so decentralized that dollars are already flowing Wadkins’ way even though the race is not considered competitive by political forecasters. He has raised $13,630 through Crowdpac from donors around the country in his first few weeks, a fraction of what he knows he will ultimately need. 'I refuse to believe it's a lost cause,' he wrote."And maybe he's right. If Trump and the Republican Congress trigger a depression, Wadkins would have a shot-- albeit a slim one-- at displacing Kelly. At least 140 new Democrats have already begun their campaigns since Trump’s inauguration, many in places where Democrats aren’t usually expected to compete. Some of them are people who have run previously and lost, but the majority are political novices, many of whom emerged from newly minted anti-Trump groups. Many also do not fit the Democratic Party’s typical focus-grouped profile for recruitment.They include several 27-year olds, a former writer for The Onion, a 34-year-old PhD student whose campaign staff is made up mostly of friends from Semester at Sea, and a woman who, fitting the times, goes by the name Mad.Patrick Nelson, a 27-year old who served asa delegate for Sen. Bernie Sanders at the Democratic National Convention last summer, was a staffer in the New York State Assembly and worked for the last two Democratic candidates in New York's 21st district, both of whom lost.Fed up, he decided to ann[...]

If Bannon Gets To Shut Down The Government Friday, How Badly Will Congressional Republicans Pay In 2018?

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 13:00:00 +0000

Will the government be open in 5 days? We speculated the other day that Bannon would like to make sure it isn't. Congressional Republicans feel otherwise. In yesterday's NY Times, Matt Flegenheimer explained that the congressional leadership-- as a matter of electoral self-preservation for its members, is "eager to forge a deal before government funding expires Friday" while the Regime "wants to use the deadline as a point of leverage that Democrats-- and at least a few Republicans-- do not believe they have, raising the prospects of a shutdown that had seemed unlikely." Trump claims he won the election, at least in part, because of his promise to build a wall to keep out Mexicans but he always-- like, totally always-- promised that Mexico would pay for it, which, obviously, they won't. Plenty of Republicans have no intention of shutting down the government over Trump’s crazy promises about a wall that not a single border state senator or House member of either party embraces. Bannon thinks it's a battle worth fighting with Ryan and McConnell (and the Democrats). Supposedly, Bannon's enemies inside the Regime are happy to see him take on this losing battle and hasten his own demise. In 2013, at a time of peak conservative fury at Mr. Obama, some Republicans did not seem to mind positioning themselves as faces of the shutdown, which supplied a soapbox for ambitious hard-liners like Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.This time, at least so far, no one seems to want any fingerprints on an impasse... [T]here seems to be little public patience for another round of Washington dysfunction....Republicans in Congress appear keenly aware that a shutdown would be blamed largely on them, despite Mr. Trump’s attempts to shift responsibility to Democrats.And while many are unlikely to say so publicly, some Democrats would plainly relish the political upside of a unified Republican government ushering in Mr. Trump’s 100th day by failing to keep the lights on.“Shutdown is not a desired end,” Mick Mulvaney, Mr. Trump’s budget director, said on Fox News Sunday. “It’s not a tool. It’s not something that we want to have.”But, he added, “we want our priorities funded.”Monday morning's Politico published a more generally alarming piece for Republicans by Alex Isenstadt, that pokes around into how Trump's toxicity with voters will impact the 2018 midterms. Before we look at it, let's just forget that most of the advantages the Democrats have will be negated by a structurally incompetent and venally corrupt DCCC. We'll make believe, for the sake of this pst at least, that the DCCC is a well-functioning normal electoral committee instead of what it actually is. Isenstadt began with some good tidings for the Dems: "Republicans say" Señor Trumpanzee needs to turn things around fast-- "or the GOP could pay dearly in 2018." Ryan and McConnell are freaking out about el Señor's "lack of legislative accomplishments, his record-low approval ratings, and the overall dysfunction that’s gripped his administration." So how's the nightmare starting to shape up in terms of the midterms? The stumbles have drawn the attention of everyone from GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, who funneled tens of millions of dollars into Trump’s election and is relied upon to bankroll the party’s House and Senate campaigns, to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Adelson hasn’t contributed to pro-Trump outside groups since the inauguration, a move that’s drawn notice within the party, and McConnell is warning associates that Trump’s unpopu[...]

The Apple Does Not Fall Far From The Orange-- Ivanka's and Jared's Fabulous Adventure

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 04:00:00 +0000

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="255" src="" width="420">John Oliver's segment this weekend on Ivanka and Kushner-in-law was classic. You've got to watch it. This morning his analysis was examined by Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly and the New York Daily News. You don't need them; just watch it.Stephen Walt's Jared Kushner Will Be Eaten By The Blob in Foreign Policy is not a prediction of how Chris Christie will eventually get his revenge on Kushner for getting his revenge on Christie (due to Kushner's father Charlie getting his revenge on someone else). "Kushner," he wrote, "may be unusually inexperienced, but he’s hardly the first person to achieve a position of political, and even diplomatic, prominence largely because of personal ties to a president." His role inside the Trumapnzee Regime "has provoked heated criticism from Democrats and skepticism from an array of pundits. It has also given late-night comics, satirists, and the Twitterati plenty of free material. And at one level their responses are understandable: Not only does Kushner’s role reek of good old-fashioned nepotism, but it is frankly absurd to think a young real estate developer can possibly perform all the miracles his loving father-in-law has asked him to produce. At last count, Kushner’s assignments include solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, leading a 'SWAT team' of private consultants that will reorganize and streamline the federal government, and serving as an informal presidential envoy to China, Iraq, and anywhere else Trump decides to send him. He also seems to have acquired the job of keeping Steve Bannon in check (or maybe getting rid of him entirely). Kushner hasn’t made his situation any easier by coming across like a spoiled rich kid who’d rather go skiing than govern. But he’d have his work cut out for him even if he combined the cunning of a Henry Kissinger and the political skills of a Lyndon Johnson... [T]he real issue is what his outsized position tells you about the president he serves and about the nature of political life in Washington, D.C." Let’s start by remembering something important about Donald J. Trump: He’s old. A 70-year-old man is not going to learn a lot of new management tricks or adopt a new leadership style at this late stage of life. By most accounts, Trump’s management approach has long relied on promoting rivalries among subordinates and demanding intense loyalty from a circle of trusted insiders (such as his sons and now his son-in-law). Given the success of his highly unorthodox presidential campaign, why expect Trump to operate differently now?...Kushner’s role in the White House actually reveals a deeper problem: Trump doesn’t actually care if his policies work or not. He doesn’t care if health care is ever fixed, if the climate warms up and millions of people die, if coal miners or autoworkers get new and better jobs, if the Islamic State is ever defeated, or if U.S. infrastructure is rebuilt. All he cares about is whether he can convince people that he’s responsible for anything good that happens and persuade them that adverse developments are someone else’s fault. It has been apparent from day one that Trump cares first and foremost about himself, his family, and his fortune. Full stop. Doing the people’s business-- that is, actually governing-- is hard work, and it really cuts into the time you can spend on the golf course.Not caring about getting anything done is also[...]

Democratic Unity-- By Backing Anti-Choice Assholes For Elected Office? No Way

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 01:00:00 +0000

Nancy Pelosi was one of Chuck Todd's guests on Meet the Press yesterday and he asked her "what should unify the Democratic Party? What should make somebody a Democrat?... Can you be a Democrat and win the support of the Democratic Party if you're [an anti-Choice asshole]?" He wanted to know if it was OK for the party to support an anti-Choice candidate, in this case Heath Mello, who's running for mayor of Omaha. Bernie is backing Mello and many progressive women's groups are furious. Pelosi, said "Of course. I have served many years in Congress with members who have not shared my very positive-- my family would say aggressive-- position on promoting a woman's right to choose... Our values unify us." And then she elucidated mostly Berniecrat values-- "our commitment to America's working families," "job creation," "budget policies that invest in the future, good paying jobs..." But not Choice; when did that stop being a value that unifies Democratic elected officials. How doddering and senile has Pelosi become?I wish Todd would have asked her how she'd feel about some old Southern Democratic Party racists coming back into the party and running for office. Or someone spewing hatred towards the LGBT community. Where does she draw the line? Apparently women's Choice is on the other side of the line.Being anti-Choice (or racist or anti-gay, etc) is an automatic instant disqualification for being endorsed by Blue America. But being anti-Choice doesn't disqualify you from being embraced by Pelosi's House Majority PAC or by her woefully failed and despised DCCC. Think about that the next time the DCCC hits you up with one of their wretched e-mails for a contribution. There's every chance in the world that some of whatever you give them will go to some anti-Choice asshole running for Congress as a "Democrat." The DCCC has been very aggressive for over a decade in undercutting and sabotaging progressive candidates and favoring conservatives from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, especially New Dems and Blue Dogs. Last cycle, for example the DCCC spent $2,680,676 and Pelosi's House Majority PAC spent $741,041 on former Republican Nebraska legislator Brad Ashford, now an arch-conservative Blue Dog. Similarly, the DCCC spent $2,547,108 and Pelosi spent $495,267 on Ami Bera's reelection campaign, not just for a right-wing New Dem, but for one of Congress' most overtly corrupt members who allowed his elderly father to take the fall for his own criminal activities and get locked up in prison. This is a horrible disgusting man who pollutes the Democratic Party brand every time he shows up on the floor of the House. Both Ashford, who lost, and Bera who won (barely) have grades of "F" from ProgressivePunch. This cycle-- so since Pelosi spent over $3 million saving his worthless hide-- Bera has wracked up, in a strong Democratic district, a 14.29 crucial vote score, second worst among House Democrats other than Kyrsten Sinema's 7.14 and tied with Garbagecrat Dan Lipinski (Blue Dog-IL), a virulently anti-Choice fake Democrat.If the DCCC begs you for money to save Choice from the horrible Republicans, it is impossible that some of that money won't go to fake Democrats who vote with the Republicans to outlaw Choice. Solution: never give to the DCCC; only contribute directly to carefully vetted candidates who really do embody progressive values (including Choice), like the ones at the 2018 ActBlue congressional thermometer on the right. You're not going to find anyone lik[...]

You Think Trump And The GOP Have No Accomplishments So Far? You Are Wrong

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 21:00:00 +0000

Do you respect the 62,984,825 voters (46.1%) who were ultimately responsible-- no matter Putin's and Comey's interference or Clinton's unsuitability-- for putting Trump into the White House? Earlier this morning we looked at how proud they still are for having backed Trump; no buyers' remorse there. But there should be-- lots and lots of it... at there there should be if the support for Trump was rational and based on something beyond racism, xenophobia, anger and blind hatred. 62,984,825 of them. Jesus! The Economic Policy Institute makes the clear case that the Trump Regime in its first 100 days has been working to shift power away from working people and towards corporations and the 1%, more a traditional Republican agenda than a Bannon-like nationalist agenda. If the Regime has been accomplishing anything at all for the Trump voters to think about-- if they were capable of actual thought-- it would be how the Trumpists have undercut wages and embarked on the destruction of protections for working people and consumers. Below are Trump's and the GOP's 10 ten achievements; how many of the 62,984,825 voters wanted this agenda? 1- Protecting Wall Street profits that siphon billions of dollars from retirement savers. At President Trump’s behest, the Department of Labor has delayed a rule requiring that financial professionals recommend retirement investment products that serve their clients’ best interests. The “fiduciary rule” aims to stop the losses savers incur when steered into products that earn advisers commissions and fees. The rule was supposed to go into effect April 10. For every seven days that the rule is delayed, retirement savers lose $431 million over the next 30 years. The 60-day delay will cost workers saving for retirement $3.7 billion over 30 years.2- Letting employers hide fatal injuries that happen on their watch. The Senate approved a resolution making it harder to hold employers accountable when they subject workers to dangerous conditions. The March 22 resolution blocks a rule requiring that employers keep accurate logs of workplace injuries and illnesses for five years. This time frame captures not just individual injuries but track records of unsafe conditions. President Trump said he would sign the resolution. If he does, employers can fail to maintain-- or falsify-- their injury and illness logs, making them less likely to suffer the consequences when workers are injured or killed. Blocking this rule also means that employers, OSHA, and workers cannot use what they learn from past mistakes to prevent future tragedies. If the rule is overturned, more workers will be injured, and responsible employers will be penalized.3- Allowing potentially billions of taxpayer dollars to go to private contractors who violate health and safety protections or fail to pay workers. The federal government pays contractors hundreds of billions of dollars every year to do everything from manufacturing military aircraft to serving food in our national parks. The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule required that companies vying for these lucrative contracts disclose previous workplace violations, and that those violations be considered when awarding federal contracts. The rule was needed, as major federal contractors were found to be regularly engaging in illegal practices that harm workers financially and endanger their health and safety. On March 27, President Trump killed this rule by signing a congres[...]

Hillary Clinton Explains Our North Korea, South Korea, China Policy

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 17:00:00 +0000

(Source)by Gaius Publius[Update: It's been suggested in comments (initially here) that Clinton's "we" in her answer to Blankfein's question was a reference to China's policy, not our own. I'm doubtful that's true, but it's an interpretation worth considering. Even so, the U.S. and Chinese policies toward the two Koreas are certainly aligned, and, as Clinton says, "for the obvious economic and political reasons." (That argument was also expressed in comments here.)  I therefore think the thrust of the piece below is valid under either interpretation of Clinton's use of "we." –GP]"We don't want a unified Korean peninsula ... We [also] don't want the North Koreans to cause more trouble than the system can absorb."—Hillary Clinton, 2013, speech to Goldman SachsOur policy toward North Korea is not what most people think it is. We don't want the North Koreans to go away. In fact, we like them doing what they're doing; we just want less of it than they've been doing lately. If this sounds confusing, it's because this policy is unlike what the public has been led to assume. Thanks to something uncovered by WikiLeaks, the American public has a chance to be unconfused about what's really going on with respect to our policies in Korea.This piece isn't intended to criticize that policy; it may be an excellent one. I just want to help us understand it better.  Our source for the U.S. government's actual Korean policy — going back decades really — is former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She resigned that position in February 2013, and on June 4, 2013 she gave a speech at Goldman Sachs with Lloyd Blankfein present (perhaps on stage with her) in which she discussed in what sounds like a very frank manner, among many other things, the U.S. policy toward the two Korea and the relationship of that policy to China. That speech and two others were sent by Tony Carrk of the Clinton campaign to a number of others in the campaign, including John Podesta. WikiLeaks subsequently released that email as part of its release of other Podesta emails (source email with attachments here). In that speech, Clinton spoke confidentially and, I believe, honestly. What she said in that speech, I take her as meaning truthfully. There's certainly no reason for her to lie to her peers, and in some cases her betters, at Goldman Sachs. The entire speech reads like elites talking with elites in a space reserved just for them. I'm not trying to impugn Clinton or WikiLeaks by writing this — that's not my intention at all. I just want to learn from what she has to say — from a position of knowledge — about the real U.S. policy toward North Korea. After all, if Goldman Sachs executives can be told this, it can't be that big a secret. We should be able to know it as well.What Clinton's Speech Tells Us about U.S. Korea Policy The WikiLeaks tweet is above. The entire speech, contained in the attachment to the email, is here. I've reprinted some of the relevant portions below, first quoting Ms. Clinton with some interspersed comments from me. Then, adding some thoughts about what this seems to imply about our approach to and relations with South Korea.The Korea section of the Goldman Sachs speech starts with a discussion of China, and then Blankfein pivots to Korea. Blankfein's whole question that leads to the Clinton quote tweeted by WikiLeaks above (my emphasis throughout):MR. BLANKFEIN: The Japanese -- I was more surprised[...]

Most Americans Think Trump Sucks-- But The Moron Voters Who Put Him In The White House Are Happily Sticking With Him

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 13:00:00 +0000

We're not quite at the 100 days of Trump mark yet but all the polls show him increasingly unpopular with the general public, The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll show that 54% disapprove of the job he's doing, compared with 40% who approve, a 14-point gap that is significantly wider than February's 4-point difference. 64% of the public view his first 100 days as fair or poor-- mostly (45%) poor. Qualities like temperament and honesty are still major problems for him, respectively 21% and 25% of people seeing him as strong on those characteristics. Only 27% see him as knowledgeable. Only 14% say he's off to a great start. And he's dragging his party down with him-- or perhaps his party is dragging him down with them:When the poll looks at white with college degrees and whites without college degrees, there's a very marked split in feelings about Trump. He knew what he was saying when, during the campaign, he said he loved the poorly educated. They love him too. Only 34% of whites with degrees approve of Trump (57% disapprove) but that statistic flips on it's head when you look at whites without degrees. 56% approve of Trump and just 38% disapprove.A poll from the Washington Post had even worse news. Just 4% of Trump voters would ditch him in a redo of the 2016 election and only 2% of Trump voters say he's been worse than expected. 62% of Trump voters say he's been better than they expected. Think about that. Gary Langer explained the poll he did for ABC News: His challenges are considerable. Majorities say Trump lacks the judgment and the temperament it takes to serve effectively. Six in 10 doubt his honesty and trustworthiness, see him as out of touch and don't think he understands the problems of people like them. Fifty-six percent say he hasn't accomplished much in his first 100 days. And 55 percent say he doesn't follow a consistent set of principles in setting policy (though fewer see this as a problem, 48 percent).All told, 42 percent of Americans approve of Trump's performance as president, while 53 percent disapprove. That compares to an average of 69-19 percent for past presidents at or near 100 days in office-- for example, 69-26 percent for Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama.Still, the national survey also finds some brighter spots for the president-- chiefly in pushing for jobs and in foreign policy-- as well as deep popularity problems for the opposition party. Sixty-seven percent say the Democratic Party is out of touch with the concerns of most Americans, even more than say the same about Trump, and similar to the Republican Party (62 percent). That's a steeply negative turn for the Democrats, 19 percentage points more critical than when last asked three years ago, including especially steep losses in their own base.Trump's better grades include broad 73 percent approval of his pressuring companies to keep jobs in the United States-- even most Democrats, liberals and nonwhites approve, three groups that are broadly critical of Trump more generally. And more than half, 53 percent, see him as a strong leader, although that compares with 77 percent for Obama at this stage.On one specific issue, a plurality, 46 percent, says he's handling the situation with North Korea "about right," as opposed to being too aggressive (37 percent) or too cautious (just 7 percent). Similarly, a recent ABC/Post poll found 51 percent support for Trump's missile strikes on Syria; [...]