Friday, August 18, 2017

How (and Why) to Make Fun of Nazis

The anti-racist forces in Charlottesville fell into a trap last week by fighting with the Nazi/KKK. They created more martyrdom for those self-pitying whites and gave Trump the coloring to say both sides were to blame. This excellent article describes a much more effective way to combat racist nonsense through ridicule. Ridicule wounds these idiots far mre than blows do! And history tells us that non-violent methds more effectively and more quickly defeat the bad guys.

Read this and always remember it!

               Op-Ed Contributor How to Make Fun of Nazis  

Friday, July 28, 2017

Trump's Terrible Week of Defeat on Four Fronts

This week was payback time!

Two women GOP Senators and John McCain killed the Trump/GOP repeal of Obamacare last night and thereby repaid Trump's nastiness to women and his denigration of McCain's having been a prisoner in Vietnam.

Of course, payback was not the main reason they voted against Trump's last hope for a repeal of Obamacare. But undoubtedly revenge lent a nice personal flavor to their voting down a bill that would have taken away health insurance from 16 million Americans. It was also the nail in the coffin of all efforts to repeal OBabmacare.

Trump once said, "Who could have imagined health insurance was so complicated". Well, Mr. Trump, obviously you also couldn't imagine that a bully would not always get his way and not be able turn the presidency into a dictatorship.

But it wasn't just Trump's enemies who poked Trump in the eye this week. The entire Congressional GOP smacked him down. The GOP Senate and the GOP House passed a law imposing increased sanctions on Trump's beloved Putin-Russia. This law also killed Trump's power to lift the new and existing sanctions against Russia. It was a smart way to signal Russia that messing in our elections will not get them a president who can give them what they want. Au contraire, honey lamb! On his own, the U.S. president can't do much, especially if the Congress won't let him. He ain't lifting those sanctions now or ever!  He can't! Congress has forbidden it.

That was the whole point of our Revolution and our Constitution. No kings here! No dictators here! A federal government of limited powers, with those limited powers controlled even further by being divided among the three branches of government.

Trump has therefore achieved virtually nothing of his grand plans. He never could because they were either grossly inappropriate goals or he and his cohorts were clueless as to how government and politics work.


No lifting of sanctions on Russia.

No repeal of Obamacare.

No wall.

No massive tax break for the rich. (It died when the GOP in Congress failed to kill Obamacare and its Medicaid component, which was to be the source of the funding for the $700 billion tax break for the rich.)

No massive "round-up of illegal aliens".  (The actual "round-up" has been a thin and spotty thing. Most of the deported will be right back. They always are. I knew them in California. For centuries before the United States existed, their families have been going back and forth across what we declare to be our border. This land was their land for a long, long time.)

No leaving NAFTA nor the Iran deal.

No pulling out of NATO.

No massive influx of jobs.

No revival of the coal industry beyond a seasonal uptick.

No blocking of Muslims entering our country. (The lower courts blocked Trump's ban entirely; the Supreme Court then virtually gutted it and gave what was left some effect only for another 6 weeks.)

So what has Trump got? Nothing. Zip, zilch, goose egg, zero.

What will he get? Not much once the fall arrives because then the Congress will be pre-occupied with housekeeping stuff like the budget. And their budget will ignore Trump's proposed severe cuts because these GOP members of Congress don't want to upset more of their constituents by cutting PBS funding, parks, and other beloved federal programs that Trump has targeted.  Of course you know why Congress will be less Draconian in budget-cutting than Trump wants. Next year is an election year!  And the Congressional GOP is scared of losing the House and maybe the Senate. By an amazing factor of four the number of Democratic would-be-candidates currently beats the all-time record of either party for candidate sign-ups. These Democrats smell blood.

And it is red blood. Not blue blood.

Just to be fair, let's look for a moment at what Trump has lost these past six months. Namely the status of not being in jail.

Trump's bumbling allowed the Russian's meddling in our election to turn into a broad and formidable criminal investigation of Trump, his entourage, his family and all their financial dealings that may or may not involve the Russians. Looking into Trump's past, I find plenty of what looks like criminal liability and very suspicious dealings with the Russian government and other hoodlum governments. Because Trump's egomania led him to fire FBI Director James Comey, he brought on this investigation. Now, in trying to hound Jeff Sessions out of the AG's office so Trump can appoint someone to fire chief investigator Robert Mueller, Trump has so deeply offended Session's chums in the Senate that the GOP Senators made it clear this week that there will be no help from them in getting rid of Sessions or Mueller. Indeed, they plan to block any firing of Sessions or Mueller even if it takes legislation to do it.

In other words, the U.S. Senate Republicans have finally stood up on their hind legs and defied the would be dictator and bully boy.

Our government is still working as it was designed to. For a while we all wondered, didn't we? But it looks like we'll be okay.

Like the old saying goes, "God takes care of dogs, drunks, and the American people."

We sure keep Him busy these days.

Big P.S. I should have included a fifthTrump failure this week, namely his attempt to bar transgender people from the military by announcing such in a tweet. It was given short shrift by the military leadership. They sent him a letter telling him to resubmit the new policy in a formal manner and to have the Secretary of Defense send along the appropriate guidlines. (Guidelines are always a two-year job.) Meantime, the letter said, the military will continue to treat "all our personnel with respect." In effect, Trump was slapped across the face.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Down and Down Trump Goes!

🎼 "Down and down Trump goes ......." Look at that plunging approval rate! And, appropriately in red, the soaring disapproval line. (Graphics from RealClearPolitics at Presidential Job Approval.)

To further paraphrase the old song: "I'm loving the spin he's in." 

It's the spin of a downward spiral. And it's crashing the GOP hopes to hold the House next year. Plus his sinking popularity has destroyed his power to govern or even, thus far, to rope the Senators of his party into supporting his health care bill. They can't even figure out what his bill is!

So here's for your summer delight — a bouquet of articles charting the old black magic as Trump proceeds to cut himself in two! (I'll be back with my own writing in about a month/6 weeks, depending how soon the new hip-to come will let me sit and type.)

Enjoy! Leonhardt: G.O.P. Support for Trump Is Starting to Crack — New York Times

Analysis | No matter what he does, history says Trump will never be popular — Washington Post

Americans generally view Trump’s presidency as below average — Washington Post

      Bad News For House Republicans: Clinton Won’t Be On The Ballot In 2018   —  Nate Silver's 538

Poll finds Trump’s standing weakened since springtime — Washington Post

Have fun!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Trump Pardon Himself for Russian Crimes? His Question, Not Mine

A brief look at a wonderful turn of events. I can't do more than a few paragraphs because of hip pain when sitting at the computer. (New hip in 39 days!)

Trump apparently wants to know about his pardoning powers in connection with his crimes in the Russian matters, including his power to pardon himself  (And we thought he was incapable of thinking ahead!)

"Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the [Russian] probe, according to one of the sources. A second person said Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves."  Trump’s lawyers explore pardoning powers and ways to undercut Russia investigation

This seems to indicate Trump has given up hope of getting rid of the Russian investigation. It also helps explain his belated rage at the head of the Justice Department, Jeff Sessions, who Trump seemingly thought would take control of the Russian investigation and subvert it to Trump's will. Instead Sessions ducked the play and recused himself, thus opening the door to the Justice Department appointing a special counsel, Robert Mueller. 

Now Trump has to give thought to what reading material he would like to take with him for all the long years in prison that some of his crimes make him eligible for. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act alone offers him a 2o-year stay, free of charge, at a federal prison.  

And — no — his free-of-charge accomodations won't be wearing the Trump Hotel brand.

* For a reminder of some of Trump's pre-presidency crimes, check out this year's best piece of reporting on Trump to date: Donald Trump's Worst Deal | The New Yorker

 What if Trump now pardons family members, etc., in order to thwart the Russia investigation? That could be obstruction of justice.  Op-Ed Contributors If Trump Pardons, It Could Be a Crime

Monday, July 17, 2017

Trump Spiraling Down in Polls

Here's some happy news for summer. I'm officially on a break but couldn't pass up posting these stories. Read 'em and cheer!

Poll finds Trump’s standing weakened since springtime

Americans generally view Trump’s presidency as below average 

Trump on Attack as Russia Revelations Appear to Take Toll  (Here's a NY Times quoteregarding the poll reported in the aboveWashington Poast story.
"...[T]here is evidence that the drumbeat of Russia revelations is taking a toll on the president. A poll published Sunday showed that Mr. Trump’s approval ratings have eroded further in recent weeks, dropping to a level never before seen for a president during his first six months in officeStill, there is evidence that the drumbeat of Russia revelations is taking a toll on the president. A poll published Sunday showed that Mr. Trump’s approval ratings have eroded further in recent weeks, dropping to a level never before seen for a president during his first six months in office."

Is Trump's Approval Rating the House GOP's 2018 Ceiling ...

Support for Trump grows more tepid and opposition is increasingly inflamed  (A real wowser!)

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Russians Are Taking Trump Down, Plus "Putin on the Ritz"

Shortly after the election, I said that the Russians would be Trump's undoing, causing either his impeachment or imprisonment. And it's happening. Here's a summary of the latest "Made in Russia" Trump troubles. The irony is, of course, that the Russians really want him to stay on as president and do their bidding. Ain't going to happen, Putin! The snowball is rolling!

Here's an excellent summary of the legal issues raised by the June 2016 meeting with the Russian lawyer that included Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, plus a growing list of other Russians who are being revealed on a daily basis as meeting attendees. The Criminal Implications of the E-mails How Trump, Jr.,’s correspondence raises questions of possible campaign-finance violations. By Jeffrey Toobin.

As a super bonus the above article includes a link to what will likely put Trump et al in the hoosegow for about 20 years each. It's about a Trump family building project that seems to have broken a half dozen serious federal laws, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which just by itself carries a penalty of 20 years. Here's the link in case you miss it in reading the article: Adam Davidson’s story. Outstanding piece of reporting.

With this for your summer reading I leave you for several weeks on a summer break to get a hip replacement. At 81 some parts are wearing out. Any prayers, good wishes, good vibes or candles will be appreciated. 

And here's a video to make you smile a while. Enjoy!
Putin on the Ritz

Take care of everything while I'm gone, and remember that this is the 100th anniversary of the Radio Flyer. Kids still pull the little red wagon. So life is good!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Trump Has Lost the Presidency

Maybe it looks like Trump can get away with anything. 

He lies. 
He knows nothing about government and doesn't even care about it.
He is cruel and rude.
He flip-flops on issues.
He boasts and brags and twitters irresponsibly.
He admires Putin, America's enemy.

Yet he is still in the White House, and his popular support, though dwindling, is only doing so rather slowly.

Don't be fooled. Trump has already paid a huge price for his nutsy narcissism and determined ignorance.

The price? He has lost the presidency. 

The presidency is more than a title. It is power. But Trump has lost all the power of the presidency. He is now only a figurehead. A cardboard cutout in the Oval Office. 

Further, he has squandered the GOP's chance to run the government with both the Congress and presidency in their control, something that hasn't been available to the GOP for a long, long time. But what's the point of the GOP having "control" of the White House? There is no power in the White House. A wheel has come off the tricycle. It ain't going anywhere. They are in control of a non-operable government.

Trump has smashed the GOP hopes and wiped himself off the presidential map just by being Trump. For six months he has been a disgusting near-psycho clown act. We all know all about him now and what to expect. We can all see him clearly now. He's a nothing. In these six months he has squandered all his credibility. In the world of politics, he is now toast.

Politics is generally despised, mostly because neither the media nor the public understands it very well. And also because it's essentially a hard-fought battle of different groups to get what they want. It's definitely a contact sport. But it has its rules, and he who doesn't follow them is out. 

Rule number one: You have to be reliable. If you say something to another politician or officeholder, it has to be true. Gerald Ford was picked by the Congress to replace Nixon because everyone in Congress knew they could trust him. As a key member of the House Armed Services Committee, he always told other representatives the accurate truth about everything to do with weapons, etc. 

Being reliable also means knowing your policy position and staying with it until something identifiable and credible changes it. I have to be able to count on your vote. That's what politics is all about. Getting votes for what each of us wants. If I can't count on you to stay with me or stay against me, then I won't ever bother with you. You're nothing.

Being reliable also means making sense. If no one can understand what you're saying or thinking, why bother with you? You're a pennyweight.

Being reliable also means being informed. Really informed. Not being fed fiction by Fox or fairy tales by the Net. It's why you have to have good staff. They make sure you know what's what.

Trump has none of these characteristics of reliability. He's a sink hole of unreliabiity. Further he lacks another of the key traits of reliability: being cool. For example, reliable people don't undercut their buddies. Trump has repeatedly made the health care reform effort harder for his GOP buddies by shooting off his mouth, messing in, even allowing one of his PACS to run an ad campaign against the imperiled GOP senator from Nevada, thus not only endangering this man's re-election but threatening Mitch McConnell's woefully thin margin in the Senate.

And a reliable person knows when to keep his mouth shut. Trump instead tells our security secrets to the Russians. 

As a politician Trump is a disaster. Yes, as a showman he won all those primaries, but he can't function in the real business of politics: getting things done. 

As a president, Trump has ceased to exist. For example, he has no leadership power in his own party. He is so toothless a tiger that no GOP senators are afraid of him and therefore — at least this far — he can't commandeer their votes for the GOP health care plan. If this legislation fails, other major parts of the GOP agenda crumble. Goodby, huge tax cuts for the rich because the cutting of Medicaid won't provide the offset for the cuts. And without a president to be cowboy, who will herd the votes on infrastructure when Rand Paul and other never-spend-a nickel senators refuse to go along?

Internationally, Trump as an American president has also ceased to exist. He did this entirely by himself. By pulling out of, or bad mouthing, the big trade deals, the mutual protection pacts, and the climate agreements, he announced loud and clear that he was picking up his marbles and going home, taking America off the stage for now. I imagine most of the world leaders were delighted to see him go. He is not a pleasant person — even literally pushing them out of his way to get to the front of a photo – and now they will have a chance at running things without the USA. In fact, America's absence for a while might have some good effects, especially re North Korea, oddly enough. But that's for another time.

Trump just doesn't matter any more politically. He's an empty suit and a big tie. That's all. He doesn't have to be impeached. He has impeached himself in a manner of speaking, i.e. removed himself from office.

He also lost power in another way. He and his advisor Steve Bannon are supposedly set on destroying the executive branch. At least they say so. Trump's failure to fill hundreds of executive positions has indeed crippled the executive branch they hate. But this is like cutting off one of your own hands. He has actually diminished the power of the presidency. He has diminshed his own power. He can't get his orders carried out. 

His flurry of ill-conceived and badly written executive orders has also reduced his power. Because they led to NOTHING! Most ended in court. Others made little sense and sit now in a file somewhere. No one up and down the chain of government will ever take this man seriously again.

I could go on. How his committee to investigate voter registration all across the nation has become a laughing stock, with most of the states saying "Go to hell" when asked for their records. And it being so transparent that he is still trying to prove he won the popular vote!  
George W was fine with his status of being president even though having lost the popular vote. Who would have ever thought there could be a president who would make George W look wise? 

Well, there isn't. Because Trump is not really a president. The other players have benched him. He's out of the game. 

In fact, he just might as well go to the showers and then head for home. 

His presidency is over. 

P.S. And he is stupid. Too stupid to be president. Too stupid to breathe. Get this, just published this evening: Trump minimizes hacking allegations, seeks to ‘move forward’ with Russia.  

Lawmakers bewildered by Trump’s suggestion of forming a ‘Cyber Security unit’ with Russia  This is like asking John Wilkes Boothe to be sure to stop by Lincoln's box at the theater.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Trump Is Going Down

Trump's disapproval numbers are going up, while his approval ratings are going down, as a New York Times columnist points out in the following short article. Even Trump's base is  eroding. 

I offer the following short article because it is clearly written on the topic of numbers, a factor which is vital in politics but often made obtuse or boring. Here all is clear and compelling. 

The writer is David Leonhardt in the NY Times of June 30. This short piece is actually an introduction to a group of articles he collected under the "Browser" section of the Times. His opener is, however, better than anything in his roundup. Unfortunately the Times provides no links for his excellent introductory pieces, so I offer it here in full. Read and cheer!
These numbers possible foreshadow the future of your country and your own future. Now let's get busy and translate these numbers into defeat of the GOP in next year's elections. With a push from us at the local level, Trump's bad numbers can sink all Republican boats, and by taking back the Senate the Democrats can block Trump's appointment of a Supreme Court Justice to replace Justice Kennedy, thus preventing an arch-conservative court for your lifetime and that of your children.

 "President Trump’s latest explosion of meanness has, yet again, left many people disconsolate about the state of the country. Many are especially demoralized that Trump doesn’t seem to lose any popular support despite his erratic behavior.
His supporters, as Ric Steinberger of Incline Village, Nev., writes in a letter in today’s Times, “still tell pollsters that Mr. Trump is their voice.”
Is that accurate? Yes and no.
It’s true that Trump continues to draw the support of about 40 percent of American adults. But his approval ratings have fallen since he became president.
His current approval rating of 39.9 percent is down from 42 percent two months ago (on his 100th day in office) and from about 45 percent on Inauguration Day, according to FiveThirtyEight’s poll average. And his disapproval rating has risen even more than his approval rating has dropped: by 13 points, to 54 percent.
Not only that, but the intensity of support for Trump — among those who continue to back him — has waned. Fewer say they “strongly approve,” and more say they “somewhat approve.” Trump’s base seems to be shrinking, as Nate Silver has written. Fewer Americans also find Trump believable than when he took office.
The polls aren’t the only place you can see this dynamic. One of the reasons the Senate health care bill has collapsed — for now, at least — is that Republican senators feel no need to do what their president wants. He isn’t popular enough to fear.
I too despair at watching my president stoop to schoolyard nastiness. And I too wish that more of my fellow citizens, from both parties, would reject this sort of behavior. But you shouldn’t worry that Trump is beyond all of the normal rules of politics.
He isn’t. His lack of results and his behavior as president matter. Despite our highly polarized country, he is ever so slowly losing the faith of people who once supported him."
Remember, there are more of us than there are of Trump and his troops! Now let's go do it! Start organizing now for next year. Hurrah for 2018!

Friday, June 30, 2017

The GOP Plan To Achieve GOP Defeat in 2018, 2020

 I don't get it.

The GOP is constructing a complete failure for themselves in the coming elections. It's a genius of a plan if their intention is to wipe their party out. 

I just don't get why they are apparently deliberately plotting their own electoral suicide. But first, let's look at what that suicide plan is.

The centerpiece of their plan is their latest health insurance bill, which cuts a huge amount out of Medicaid so as to give that money to the rich as a tax cut. 

So guess who depends heavily on Medicaid? Seniors. The same seniors who always vote and mostly vote Republican. Without the senior vote, the GOP is toast.

Many of these same seniors are in nursing homes, their residency paid for by Medicaid. They are the same seniors who need other vital care that's not covered by Medicare but is covered by Medicaid, e.g. dentures, hearing aids, eyeglasses.

How can the GOP hang onto these voters when it takes away their nursing homes and other vital medical needs? As the GOP pushes the grandmas out of the nursing homes and over the cliff in their wheelchairs, those grannies will be angrily shaking their fists at the GOP as they go flying over the edge. 

But wait! There's even more ingenious election idiocy from the GOP. 

Everybody knows the GOP can't win the White House without certain states in the electoral college, such as Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and — as of 2016 — Michigan and Wisconsin. Now get this. The GOP's  health insurance reform plan whacks 22 million people off their present insurance under Obamacare. And guess where most of these people live.

Unbelievably the biggest hits will be taken in those same states that control the electoral college outcome! Most of those key states will have their uninsured rate near-double or more! 

Take a look at this excellent depiction of what will happen: 
Which states would be hit hardest by Obamacare repealPennsylvania, for example, will have 1,221,000 more uninsured.  That's a  a 197% increase. Michigan: 1,014,000, also a 197% increase. And so on down the list.

Besides the Rust Belt states, look at what what happens to Kentucky and West Virginia! They get hit the hardest. Harder than 48 other states! Kentucky has its uninsured people increase by 231%! That makes it second only to West Virginia in loss of health care for its people. 

And guess which state Senator Mitch McConnell represents. 


This is a strange way to "represent" a state, isn't it?

These people who will be kicked off their health insurance are in effect being murdered. When reckless disregard becomes too egregious it changes from gross negligence to murder because the intent to kill can be presumed from the high degree of disregard of the inflicted danger. 

Do we know people die from lack of medical care? Yes, we do. Can we predict the elderly will die if kicked out of nursing homes? 

Well, duh!

In 2009 Harvard estimated that 45,000 people died each year for lack of health insurance in the years following the Clinton failure to enact coverage. These dead included a family friend whose life could have been saved if he had had insurance.  He was only in his 40's. We didn't know his plight or would have helped. He was too proud to ask, I guess. New study finds 45,000 deaths annually linked to lack of ...

Then Obamacare came along and began to save people, not just from death, but from unneccesary, untreated pain and suffering. 

People could get help.

And now a majority of Americans like Obamacare, according to polls. More than half of Americans approve of Obamacare now, Gallup ...

By contrast, the GOP health insurance bill to replace Obamacare has polled this past week at approval rates of 12%, 16%, and 17%. In fact, if you add the low approval rate of the GOP bill to Trump's low approval rate, even the combined total is less than the approval rate for Obamacare standing alone.

I worked for 30 years in politics to help people. Much of this work was in running campaigns. In fact, I may have been the first woman to ever run a Congressional campaign. We lost that one, though we did get some benefits for the people, e.g. a hundred housing units for farmworkers who were living in hovels and a federal law to prohibit  mass arrest and detention without due process. Pretty good stuff. Still, we didn't win the election. 

But we didn't engineer our own loss like these Republicans are apparently now doing. We fought like hell to win even in a district that was "unwinnable" according to the registration numbers. 

So I don't get it. 

Why are the Republicans setting themselves up to lose the White House and the House of Representatives? Instead of going for broke like we did a half-century ago, they are breaking all hope of winning.

Am I missing something here? 

They can't all be as nutsy as the ostensible head of their party. Is there actually some dark, hidden goal in their apparent craziness?

Anyway, Happy Fourth of July! And don't worry. The Great Experiment will go on! Neither Trump nor the ruthlessness of Mitch McConnell's GOP will destroy this country. As Lincoln said, America is the last best hope of humankind. 

It shall not perish from the earth. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Why Democrats Won't Now Work With GOP on Health Insurance

Sen. Mitch McConnell is trying to scare his stubborn fellow senators into geting on board with his version of a bill to repeal/replace Obamacare. His threat is that if they don't give him enough GOP votes he'll just have to work with the Democrats to pass his bill.  McConnell warns Trump, GOP on health bill failure - POLITICO

Big problem, Mitch: the Democrats aren't interested in working on your bill. After it dies and has been dragged away, they'll work with the GOP on fresh new ground. 

Sounds harsh? No, it's just sensible. The Democrats have at least two and a half good reasons to take a hands-off position regarding your bill.

First, you don't mean what you say. They know that you are just using the threat of Democratic participation to coerce reluctant GOP senators into voting your way. These hold-out GOP senators are indeed afraid of Democratic participation. In the states of these recalcitrant senators and many of the other GOP senators, co-operating with Democrats is heresy. Senators who work with Democrats are toast at election time. That's a political climate you have helped father. Let's hope it now bites you on the you-know-what. So yours is an empty threat. You won't risk losing even more  votes, those already on-board. Thus you are actually inviting the Democrats to a party that isn't going to happen, and the Democrats won't accept being shark bait in your duplicitous strong-arming of your ranks.

The second reason the Democrats want no part in tinkering with your very bad bill, Senator M, is that you and the Democrats can never agree on the issue most central to this bill: drastically cutting Medicaid. Be honest! You GOP don't actually want to reform health insurance but instead, under the guise of halth insurance reform, you want to cut Medicaid funding for elderly in nursing homes and for the poor in order to finance a big gift to the rich. 

Under your conniving the  $710 billion cut to Medicaid over 10 years is to be used to pay for a similar amount of tax cut for the rich. Further, this cut to Medicaid has to come before the tax measure. reform. Under Senate procedural rules, the money to balance your huge tax gift to the rich has to be ready and waiting, already identified, in order for your so-called tax reform bill to pass the Senate on a simple majority rather than a super-majority that would necessitate some Democratic votes. There are no Democrats conservative enough to vote for that tax gift to the rich. Therefore you are stuck with trying to get the Medicaid money now with just a simple majority vote. 

(The LA Times says nearly $800 billion. Other media today have other amounts. "[T]he bill reduces Medicaid funding by almost $800 billion over 10 years compared with what would have been spent under Obamacare."  Is Mitch McConnell trying to tank Trumpcare? - LA Times)

As for what's happening right now, there are no Democrats who will go along with your $710 billion cut to Medicaid. Democrats don't do what even Trump has called "mean" things. As the old saying goes, Democrats care about people; the GOP cares about money. The likelihood of some middle ground on this one doesn't come to mind. Heck, the  GOP can't find a middle ground on it among themselves so as to get a couple of more GOP votes!

So why should the Democrats enter into a hopeless "bipartisan" effort with you, Senator McC, that will go nowhere, plus give you a chance to blame the Democrats for the failure?

And now the one-half a reason the Democrats won't work to help save your bill:  The polls.

Yesterday four major polls reported American approval of the GOP bill has gone down through the crust of the earth.  12%, 16%, 17%, 24%. Even a majority of GOP hate the bill. Even a majority of Trump supporters hate it.

Why would anyone want to get involved in that? Especially when there's the hopeless stalemate about cutting Medicaid.

And get this straight, McConnell: bad polls or not for the bill,  Democrats are not throwing 22 million people off their health insurance and cutting life-and-death aid to our old and our poor. Not now. Not ever. 

That's not a raving liberal's point of view. The low polls I cited above show that almost all Americans oppose throwing the poor and the elderly over the cliff. Good for the American people!

In those poll numbers is the proof that America is truly great again!

Just like it always was. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Supreme Court Did NOT Uphold Trump's Travel Ban! And Kennedy's Not Leaving!

First, about Justice Kennedy.
All the rumors about him retiring are apparently untrue. He made no retirement announcement today, the traditonal "goodbye day". Thank heaven! He's apparently staying. He's the swing vote in 5-4 decisions. His being replaced by a Trump appointee is too awful to think about. 

Nevertheless, right now Trump is likely strutting and balleyhooing that the Supreme Court has upheld his travel ban. 

That's not what's happened. 

Without having read the actual text of the Court decision (it's not available just yet), my reading of the news coverage is that the Court greatly restricted the ban so that it's virtually a nothing:

"[T]he ban may not be enforced against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.  (Quoted by the Washington Post, 
Supreme Court allows limited version of Trump’s travel ban to take effect.

That's a very porous ban! After all, it typically took two years to get a visa before the whole ban thing started!

Further sticking its finger into Trump's eye, the Court has given his now-decimated ban a very short shelf life,  just three months for the feds to come up with persuasive evidence that something like the ban is actually needed. Further, the lower court orders freezing the Trump ban since February have already gone a long way to running out the clock on Trump's ban. Five months have already gone by without the ban in effect.

The case is set for further Court review in the October session, at which time the executive branch has the burden of showing justification for such a measure. There isn't any.

Since the executive has also been firmly told that it has until October to make good on its claim it needed time to create better vetting, the executive will be faced in October with the weird task of proving that it still has a problem even after having been given a total of eight months to fix it! The Trump folks have had since late January to fix their vetting!

The actual big news is that the Court was willing to limit the executive power at all in the areas of national security, foreign affairs, and immigration — areas generally off limits to the Court by its own long-standing policy. In October it will take up the religious discrimination charged against the ban. That is if the ban is not moot by then. Which it likely will be.

In the meantime, the Court's "limited version" of Trump's ban is a three-legged horse, going nowhere very slowly. Consider the myriad number of court cases the Court's ruling will generate if the feds still try to exclude broadly under this Court-ordered weakening of the ban. Consider the termsit includes!  "[T]he ban may not be enforced against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States. 

Almost all the people who were so cruelly excluded under Trump's original ban could have come within those exclusions. And if the feds fight to keep the exclusions narrow, an old attorney like me sees lots of litigation in that one sentence. What's a "credible claim"? A "bon fide relationship"? A "person"? An "entity"? 

It's the "Attorney Full Employment Act"!

I'll write later if a reading of the Supreme Court's complete text seems to warrant more comment from this old attorney. 

Meantime remember that those writing the news stories and the headlines are not attorneys. 

Also in the meantime ignore Trump's ignorant claims about this decision as he foments to his hardcore base. 

Ignoring Trump is a good motto for life! 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Trump as a District Attorney Who Gets Tired of Winning

I am so seriously whacked by the rumor of Supreme Court justice Kennedy retiring that I have to find joy wherever I can. I won't even discuss Trump getting to appoint Kennedy's replacement. I need a dose of distraction!

And just as ever, here comes Mr Distraction himself: here's Trump to cheer us all up with his insane stupidity and the increasingly real image of him in an orange jumpsuit, sporting manacles, and headed out the door to prison. I borrowed this comment from my own Facebook page. Today is Saturday and I had a rough week so I get to cheat and plagarize my own stuff. Maybe this will cheer you up too!

Here's a lessson on how to convict yourself of obstruction of justice. Note the masterful expertise of an idiot putting both his small feet in his mouth. Trump should be a DA. He could bring prosecutions against himself for crimes and thus "get tired of winning"! And why does he attack Obama for not punishing Russia for something that Trump doesn't even believe happened? An idiot for the ages. If there is a future, will anybody believe this guy existed?  His proud look here reminds me of an old theme song from the Golden Age of radio comedy:  "It pays to be ignorant, to be dumb, to be daft, to be ignorant." 


He confesses he meant to affect Comey's testimony in a potential proceeding aginst him. He has here spelled out the requisite intent for the crime of obstruction of justice. It's textbook! No one has so blatantly convicted himself since some long-ago fool said, "I shot Cock Robin"! And Trump did this right out in front of God and the good folks of Iowa. It's enough to make a cat laugh!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Georgia 6th Proves Old Rules But Not The Future

An Opening Note, a happy one: The Democrats still have a decent shot at taking over the House in 2018 in spite of having botched the GA 6th. See the link to Nate Silver's "538" that I've included below in the discussion of Rule Three. The consensus across the board is that the Democrats performance in the four special House elections this year indicate the Democrats will take back the House in 2018. Nevertheless, there's lessons to be learned.

So let's look at how the Democrats broke some key rules of politics and lost a special election Tuesday. Here's what happened:

Rule One of politics:   Republicans always vote Republican.

Rule Two: All politics is local.

Rule Three: You gotta know the territory.

Rule Four: Democrats need a shove out the door. 

In the Georgia 6th Congressional District the Democrats yesterday   ignored these four old rules and blew millions and millions losing a race they could have won.  

Re Rule One: The Democratic party didn't give the GOP voters a reason to vote Democratic. Obviously the Democrats were counting on disgust with Trump and hate for the GOP health care bill to move enough GOP voters. Except they forgot to remind GOP voters that these were at stake. Absent such powerful motives, the GOP voters reverted to form and stayed with the Republican candidate.

The Democrats also ignored Rule One by waving the Democratic banner, pouring in party money, publicly balleyhooing the party's involvement. The last thing you should do is remind a GOP voter that the candidate you're pushing is a Democrat.  Moderate or not, "Democrat" is anathema! The Democrat in GA 6 did fine raising his own money. There was no need for party money!

Maybe the Democrat in the SC 5th race did so well in part because the national party stayed out of it!
Re Rule Two: The Democrats looked at the GA 6th just as numbers. That approach suits the computer geeks who misjudged Clinton's chances in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan last year. But a district is more than numbers. It is people. Why wasn't the Democratic candidate talking to the people of the 6th District about things like: "How many of you or members of your family have pre-existing conditions that will bar you from health insurance under Trump's proposal?" That's hitting at the two things the Democrats were hoping would sway GOP voters. 

Re Rule Three: The Democratic leadership made no study of the election history in the SC 5th and GA 6th. As a consequence, they didn't know the territory. But Nate Silver, the guru of analysts, has looked at that history and points out:
"[T]he results aren’t all that surprising if you zoom out and take a wider view. In 2012, Barack Obama came considerably closer to Mitt Romney in South Carolina 5 than he did in Georgia 6. And Republican incumbents were re-elected to the House by wider margins in Georgia 6 than in South Carolina 5 in both 2014 and 2016. South Carolina 5 has also much more recently elected a Democrat to Congress; John Spratt served there until the 2010 midterms, while Republicans have held Georgia 6 since Newt Gingrich’s win there in 1978.
Silver continues: "To some extent, Montana — where Democrat Rob Quist lost to Republican Greg Gianforte by 6 points last month — also fits the South Carolina 5 pattern. It went strongly for Trump in 2016, but less so for Romney in 2012 — and Obama nearly won there in 2008. It has also been reasonably competitive in past Congressional races." Where Can Democrats Win?
Complicated but key! GA 6 was not as good a bet for a Dem win as other places this year unless you do as the Democratic leadership did and look only at Trump's narrow win in the 6th. 

Re Rule Four: If more Democrats had voted, the Democrat might have won the 6th. But why should working class Democrats get out and vote Democratic? Unless you have a "give 'em hell" candidate like Bernie Sanders, these overworked, desperately busy people are not going to be bothered. Even anti-Trump feelings aren't enough. Just as Washington types are out of touch with these voters, these should-be voters are out of touch with D.C. and Trumps antics. But look at this: in the SC 5th the Democratic candidate, even though a bank-type, was a Bernie Sanders populist, and he did damn well in spite of less resources and worse registration, losing by about the same as the Democrat in GA.
A ClosingNote: Wednesday morning analyst Nate Silver wrote in essential agreement with me as to how the Democrats botched the GA 6th. Not to worry. Silver and I didn't copy each other! But if we both think the same on this one, it's gotta be right! 

Says Silver:" 
"One lesson for Democrats would therefore seem to be to look at a mix of indicators for the competitiveness and partisanship of a district, rather than focusing on the 2016 presidential result alone. Trump’s popularity will be a key factor, but so could the long term partisan lean of the district and how it has voted for Congress in the past. Local issues, particularly how the new health care bill might affect the district, could also play a role."  Where Can Democrats Win?

Are ya listening, Democrats?

Saturday, June 17, 2017

"We're Off to See the Money!" And Trump to Prison!

For months I've written, "Follow the money" and thereby put Trump in jail. 

This past week the New York Times reported that Special Counselor Robert Mueller is now investigating Trump's finances: 

"A former senior official said Mr. Mueller’s investigation was looking at money laundering by Trump associates. The suspicion is that any cooperation with Russian officials would most likely have been in exchange for some kind of financial payoff, and that there would have been an effort to hide the payments, probably by routing them through offshore banking centers."  New York Times reports

Donny Deutsch said Friday on "Morning Joe", this will "take down" Trump. Deutsch is a sort of adman, but mainly he's a guy attuned to "the talk on the street", the street being Wall Street. 

And, per Donny, The Street says that Trump is a crook, ran through his credit in the USA, and had to go begging to Russia for loans to stay alive. Donny Deutsch: financial dealings will bring down 'sleazy ...

So what does Russia get in return? Deutsch and others suggest money laundering. I can think of four other things: an end to the sanctions now crippling Russia's economy; the USA abandoning NATO, thus allowing Eastern Europe to fall back into the maw of Russia; a let's-play-nice-with-Putin stance by Trump to heighten Putin's stature with his own people; a quiet greenlight for Russia and Assad in Syria. 

There's probably more, but it's now past my lunch time and I'll wind this down. Watching Trump flailing and falling gives me quite an appetite.

What make me so sure there's something financially creepy about Trump in all this? Not just Donny Deutsch saying so. No, it's Trump saying so. With every enraged tweet he announces how distraught he is. And getting more so! 

Nothing could frighten him this much other than being caught for his money misdeeds. Two reasons: one is that he can be jailed for these since they occurred before his inauguration. While presidents are not subject to prosecution for misdeeds while in the presidency, their prior misdeeds are not protected.

Second, there's not much quibbling about a conviction based on a written record of financial transactions. No issues of Intent; no swearing contests by witnesses. It's all in the record, probably bank records. And tax records, Trump's taxes. Even those GOP voters who still believe in him would have to believe this kind of evidence.

Mueller is going to want to see those all those records, including Trump's tax returns. So are some Congressional committees. And golly, that's what really scares Trump! Because his tax records may reveal that he's not nearly as rich as he claims.

This twisted, tiny little man is so insecure, so focused on being the biggest and the best. He won't be able to stand us learning that he's not a billionaire many times over, not one of the really big boys financially. That's worse for him than going to jail!

He'd probably do almost anything to keep us from knowing that he is not really, really rich. (See footnote.)

One question:  Would his doing "almost anything" include touching off a nuclear war?  

That would certainly be a distraction. And distraction is Trump's main weapon when things are going badly.

I keep thinking of the ending of Dr. Strangelove. "We'll meet again..." 

Oh, my. Is that mushroom-cloud-risk worth seeing those tax returns?

Actually it is.

Violence or the threat of it must never win our aquiescence. 

Trump just released a "financial disclosure" statement for all of 2016, plus 3 months of this year. It's meaningless absent  income tax returns since the amount on the form apparently includes business revenue, according to Bloomberg News:  Trump Discloses Multimillion-Dollar "Income" in Latest Filing ...  Business revenues can be many multiples time actual income. Trump is boastfully inflating his supposed earnings. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

How Deep Is the Hot Water for Trump?

(UPDATE: Here's right-this-moment-breaking news about Trump's increasing legal peril: D.C., Maryland to sue Trump over foreign payments to his businesses. The DAs in these two entities are suing on the basis that Trump is violating the Constitutional prohibition on federal officials taking any kind of payments ("emoluments") from foreign governments. In this case the payments are for hotel stays by foreign officials at Trump facilities. Excellent discussion of the issue of "standing".)  

How deep in jeopardy is Trump? "The water's five feet and rising, Pa," the old song said, "But the damn fool says to press on." 

In Trump's situation the rising water is hot because it can mean serving prison time. Prison for Trump is preferable to impeachment because: 

(1) Unlike impeachment, criminal prosecution is not in the control of the GOP Congress and can't be blocked by partisan blindness.  

(2) Trump's been a scoff-law all his life or at least "a twister" who boasts of wiggling around the law. Jail time will tell the world and our children that our laws mean something. 

(3) The evidence supporting a criminal conviction would have to be so compelling that even Trump supporters might finally see him for what he really is. 

(4) Trump deserves punishment. He is a cruel and vindictive man who has caused terrible suffering to immigrants and others, has cancelled worker safety laws, and has imperiled our planet.       

So how does Trump get sent to prison? As the poet said, "Let me count the ways....."

1.Obstruction of justice?:  This is everybody's nit-picky topic right now as they explore the weeds, i.e. whether Trump's saying "I hope" to James Comey constitutes giving an order and thus shows Trump intended to obstruct the FBI investigation of Trump aide Michael Flynn and/or possible Trump campaign collusion with the Russians in messing with our 2016 election. That's a complicated sentence because weed-searches tend to be complicated.

Give me a break! The topic is not complicated. On TV Trump boastfully told NBC's Lester Holt his intent and also told the Russians what he did and why. Thus the meaning of "hope" is irrelevant because Trump has publicly confessed to the required intent. 

Further, Comey virtually assured the Senate committee last week that Special Counsel Robert Mueller will investigate this possible crime. Comey saying so makes it certain Mueller will. 

If Mueller, however, does find an indictable offense, Trump can't go to jail for what he did as president, impeachment traditionally being the sole allowable remedy against a president for crimes commited while in office. Given that Mueller can't indict Trump, he may just skip the obstruction issue and go right for the biggies, such as.....

2. Trump's financial crimes: These are stunning in number and brazenness but get little press. One of the most criminal and complex is described in the "New Yorker" at Donald Trump's Worst Deal. In a subsequent "New Yorker" article, Your Questions About "Donald Trump's Worst Deal," Answered ..., the author of the original article discusses the likelihood of prosecution for the apparent Trump crimes he described in the first article. 

He has done a spectacularly good job of investigative reporting, on a par with the "New Yorker" coup of revealing the American torture of Iraqui captives at Abu Ghraib prison.Torture at Abu Ghraib - The New Yorker.   misses a few points, namely that Trump apparently violated not only the Foreign Campaign Practices Act but possibly the sanctions against dealing with Iran and also various federal racketeering and money-laundering laws. All these carry prison time.

The activities referred to above are just the tip of the iceberg: Trump and family apparently routinely engage in bent financial activity. Will Mueller go after it all? And is he able to unwind some very deliberately complex deals. 

I don't know how many he will tackle but it sure seems he is well-equipped to unravel any financial complexities. The FBI has always been good at sniffing out the money. Remember that their first big leap to prominence came with the jailing of mobster/murderer Al Capone for income tax fraud. 

It's no surprise therefore that Mueller has muscled up with some of the best in law enforcement. He has now hired the former FBI agent who broke the backs of not just one top New York mafia family but their arch-rivals as well. Mueller has similarly hired other prosecutors, several with big reputations for busting white-collar crime.

3. Trump's Failure to Get Real Legal Help: This may  be the biggest factor in whether Trump goes to jail. He has this past week hired his own long-time New York lawyer to help him now as his private attorney. (White House counsel represent only the presidency, not the president in his personal life.) The NY attorney is woefully inadequate for the job, being ignorant of D.C. and the relevant law and legal hurdles. His response this week to Comey's testimony has already showed his inadequacy. In fact, he attacked Comey this past week in a way that may constitute unlawful intimidation of a witness. (See discussion below at Item 5.)     Looks like Trump's lawyer may soon need his own lawyer!

Pitiful as Trump's current lawyer is, Trump reportedly can't do much better. A number of top firms have turned him down, including the attorney who represented George W in the fight over the Florida vote count in 2000. Trump's reputation has spread that (a) he's a client you can't control and (b) he doesn't pay his attorney bills. No attorney of any status wants a client like Trump even if he is a president.

4. Trump Will Talk Himself into Jail Time: Trump is his own worst enemy. He compulsively convicts himself out of his own mouth. He is every prosecutor's dream of a pefect defendent.

5. Someone will sell him out.  Mueller will press for turncoats, and he will get them. Michael Flynn has already offered to turn state's witness. Paul Manafort, a former Trump campaign chair, is under investigation for criminal conduct vis-a-vis Ukraine and Russia. Now also targeted by Mueller is Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, and — as of yesterday — Trump's clueless son Donald Jr. is under investigation by the New York state Attorney General for possible improprieties in his "charitable" organization. Will these relatives turn on Daddy Trump? I bet they will in a minute.

And what about Jeff Sessions, the Trump-appointed Attorney General and head of the Dpartment of JUstice? This week Comey indicated that Sessions may also be under investigation for his twice-failure to report his meetings with the Russians. Failing to disclose such on an application for a security clearance is a felony, as is lying under oath about the meetings to the Senate committee that examined him for his appointment to being AG. 

Would Sessions try to buy his way into the clear by revealing collusion between the Russians and Trump or the Trump campaign to tip the 2016 election? Why wouldn't he? Trump makes a big thing out of loyalty, but why would he expect self-sacrificing loyalty from men who have already violated their loyalty to their country and to the law?

Once a rat, always a rat.

5. There's more!: Trump virtually commits a crime a day. Some aren't readily punishable by law. For example, his disclosing secrets to the Russians becomes a non-crime because the president can choose to declassify material.  But other missteps aren't protected. 

Trump's latest is interfering with a witness by attempting intimidation. In this he was aided by — of all people! — his private attorney. Threatening to have Comey "investigated" for "leaking" Comey's own memoranda is a blatant attempt at intimidation of a potential future witness. The nifty thing here is that both Trump and his attorney are potentially liable for this crime. Only an attorney as ineffective as Trump's would make such a blunder.

Meantime Mueller's investigation and that of the Senate Intelligence Committee aren't all that Trump faces. Various other government agences are investigating the Trumps, and there are several private law suits of considerabe threat to him. One of the latter is an "unfair competition" suit against his D.C. hotel on the grounds it exploits Trump's presidential status and thus unfairly takes business from competitors. This won't bring prison time, but it's nice to know Trump has one more thing to worry about.

Conclusion: Trump sure looks like he's headed to jail. The only remaining question is whether his wife — who visibly flinches when he gets close — will visit him in jail to bring the little unhealthy snacks he so loves.