Monday, October 15, 2018

Iowa Is About To Look A Lot Bluer, Even If Just A Pale Shade Of Blue

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The Des Moines Register and Elizabeth Warren agree that J.D. should be the next congressman from IA-04-- while the DCCC snoozes

There was a big stir Saturday night when an early version of the Des Moines Register hit the internet. Iowa's leading newspaper announced their congressional endorsements: GOP has failed to govern; give Democrats a chance. They endorsed Democratic incumbent Dave Loebsack and 3 Democratic challengers to Republican incumbents: garden variety Democrats Abby Finkenauer, and Cindy Axne plus cutting edge progressive J.D. Scholten.
When Republicans achieved the trifecta in 2016, winning the presidency as well as holding the House and Senate, it seemed the country was poised to move beyond the GOP-engineered partisan gridlock that had characterized much of the previous six years.

Americans had reason to expect action from Congress, for better or worse, on a variety of issues ranging from health care and immigration to reducing government overspending.

Not so much, as it turned out. The Republican majority in Congress tried and failed to dismantle the Affordable Care Act without offering a plan of their own that a majority of their own members-- let alone a majority of the American people-- could support.  Instead, they have allowed the system to become increasingly unstable, leading to a lack of competition and rising premiums.

Republicans in Congress have not only failed at comprehensive immigration reform, but their action allowed protection to expire on young, undocumented Americans brought here as children. They haven’t even fully funded President Trump’s border wall. They stood by as the administration tried to bar Muslims from certain countries from entering the United States. They looked the other way as the administration shocked and dismayed the nation by separating young children from their parents at the border, holding them in detention and losing track of some of the kids.

Republicans promised fiscal responsibility, yet they have punted on putting the nation back on sound financial footing. Their one major legislative success, the 2017 tax cut, is projected to add $1.9 trillion to the debt. This, after Republicans howled endlessly about the comparatively meager deficits created during the Obama administration. The Congressional Budget Office said in August that these tax cuts and spending increases would become “unsustainable” if extended. But the House GOP, including Iowa’s three Republican representatives, voted last month for another $3.8 trillion in tax cuts.

The Republican majority has twiddled its thumbs while President Trump started a trade war with China, imposing tariffs and provoking retaliation that is hurting Iowa farmers by threatening export markets. They have even allowed the Farm Bill to expire, leaving town without resolving differences.

Some have argued that this election should be a referendum on President Trump. We disagree. This is about Congress, which has abdicated much of its constitutional duty and has failed to provide a check and balance to the executive branch.

Not only has the party failed to act as a check on the president, key Republicans have been complicit in trying to obstruct and undermine the investigation of a foreign power’s interference in a U.S. election. And by their silence they have tacitly endorsed the president’s racism, misogyny, white nationalism, divisiveness and crudity.

In becoming the party of Trump, the Republicans have forsaken traditional conservatism and given voters no rational alternative to the Democrats. The party needs to be voted out of power and spend a few years becoming again the party of Lincoln, not the party of Trump.

...4th District: Scholten

This one’s a no-brainer for any Iowan who has cringed at eight-term incumbent King’s increasing obsession with being a cultural provocateur. In his almost 16 years in Congress, King has passed exactly one bill as primary sponsor, redesignating a post office. He won’t debate his opponent and rarely holds public town halls. Instead, he spends his time meeting with fascist leaders in Europe and retweeting neo-Nazis.

His Democratic challenger, J.D. Scholten, a 38-year-old former professional baseball player from Sioux City, is a breath of fresh air. He’s focused entirely on working for the 4th District, particularly rural communities that are struggling with the effects of low commodity prices, Trump’s trade war and workforce shortages as a result of the immigration crackdown. His party label doesn’t match that of many of his voters, but he can relate to people across the political spectrum.

We particularly like Scholten’s willingness to vote for new leadership of his caucus in the interest of easing partisan gridlock. We endorse him not just as an antidote for King’s virulent xenophobia but as a promising new leader.
A few hours later the Washington Post noted that across the country, "Enthusiasm is up across almost all demographic groups, but the increases are greater among younger adults, nonwhite voters and those who say they favor Democrats for the House." This was based on a Langer Research poll they released with ABC News. It shows Trump's national approval/disapproval at 41-54% and generic Democratic candidates leading generic Republican candidates nationally by 11 points-- 53-42% among registered voters and even higher among likely voters.




Now, back to Iowa for a moment. In the first district, Rod Blum has already been tossed overboard by Ryan, basically among the walking dead. The 538 Forecaster gives him a 1 in 30 chance to win, a dismal 3.6% in a district Obama won twice but where Trump beat Hillary 48.7% to 46.2%. This is Bernie country and the PVI is still D+1. Abby Finkenauer is a mediocre candidate but she will beat Blum, a very far right incumbent. He has struggled to keep up with her fundraising by writing himself a $500,000 personal check. As of June 30 he had "raised" $1,780,866 to her $1,861,542. Democratic SuperPACs have spent $828,045 attacking Blum and no GOP PACs have spent on his behalf.




The 3rd district is closer. David Young is a wealthy, sad sack closet case who is about to lose his seat to a not very special Democrat, Cindy Axne. The 538 Forecaster gives him a 42.7% chance of reelection-- 3 in 7... and dropping. The PVI is R+1 and, again, Obama won twice with Trump beating Hillary 48.5% to 45.0%.




Goal ThermometerThe 4th district is the real red part of Iowa-- Obama lost both times and Trump took it by a lot: 60.9% to 33.5%. Unlike the other two, the DCCC is ignoring the district, which allowed a grassroots progressive, J.D. Scholten, to win the primary. The DCCC and associated PACs have spent $2,223,318 against Young but not a nickel against King. Scholten and King have raised around half a million dollars each but Scholten has $254,566 going into the final stretch to King's $117,554. The 538 Forecaster gives King an 89.1% chance at reelection, 8 in 9. This could be one of the cycle's biggest upsets. Scholten is running the kind of outside the box, grassroots campaign that isn't picked up by traditional forecasters. If you'd like to contribute to his campaign, please tap on the thermometer on the right that will take you to the ActBlue page for progressives who won their primaries and have been ignored or undercut by the DCCC anyway. This is an important page for Blue America because it includes some of our best candidates who are not just fighting right-wing Republicans but are also fending off the determined negativity of establishment corporate Democrats.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!

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by Noah

Smug and corrupt from head to toe. On the days these sociopathic two parasites die, the world will truly be a better place because they are no longer in it. In the meantime, the damage they cause to every living, breathing thing in America, even their beloved .05%, is nearly incalculable. McConnell and Ryan: Yes, nearly all of Washington is on the take, but there are no better examples of maximum corruption than these two Trump toadies. They mooch and mooch off of us as we pay them with our hard-earned tax dollars. They suck up a lifetime of medical care as if they are lampreys attached to our necks. Even the office staffs and the meals they eat come out of our pockets, not to mention their pensions. They do it all while they moan about others getting "entitlements" handed to them. But, still, what they greedily guzzle at the public trough just isn't enough. They want more, more, more, and one of the places they get it is from Big Pharma and other healthcare related corporations that have an interest in keeping the status quo gravy death train going. Mitch and Paul know all about handouts. Does anyone get more free stuff?

What do we get from top of the list lowlifes like McConnell and Ryan in return? The human misery of health issues we can't afford to treat even though it is our money that goes to treat theirs. McConnell and Ryan hate the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. They hate the idea of Medicare for all. In fact, they hate the idea of Medicare, period. Human Misery, illness, death. They are it's merchants. They are mass murderers on a huge scale, from doing away with regulations that keep chemicals out of our water and the air that we breathe to doing away with our ability to pay for the aforementioned treatments that become needed for our survival; all because of their sadistic money-grubbing, and sociopathic legislating. Imagine if you were one of McConnell or Ryan's kids and you woke up one morning, truly woke up, and realized what a mass-murdering maggot brain your dad is.

Halloween is coming. Who needs Freddy Krueger when you have the reality of these two?

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Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Disgrace Of Waller County, Texas

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by Dorothy Reik
President, Progressive Democrats of the Santa Monica Mountains


In an effort to prevent Mike Siegel, the Democratic challenger, from unseating the incumbent Republican in Texas' 10th Congressional District, Waller County officials announced that one of the addresses students at the historical Black college, Prairie View A & M University (PVAMU) were instructed by the county to use to register to vote was not in the proper precinct so they would have to file additional paperwork. Mike's field representative delivered a letter of complaint to the Waller County clerk and was promptly arrested. when he admitted his boss was a Democrat. He has since been released.

There has been an ongoing war between Waller County and Prairie View over voting rights of its all Black student body since eighteen year olds were given the right to vote, allowing college students to vote where they were enrolled in college. Waller County, home of PVAMU, feared that the Black students votes would affect election outcomes in the predominantly white county.

In 1970 Black students accompanied the only PVAMU student allowed to vote-- he was white! Black students began to fight for their voting rights when the Black students were denied the right to participate in the 1972 presidential election when the County used a form to be filled out only by students whose responses were then used to deny their right to vote. The students sued on the basis of a Fourteenth Amendment violation and won at the Supreme Court-- but that didn't end it.

More attacks were to follow. In 1992 19 students were indicted for illegally participating in general elections. The charges were subsequently dropped. More skirmishes followed in 2004- 2006, when Sheila Jackson Lee had to intervene, and again in 2008 when 3,000 registered voters at PVAMU were informed that the only early voting station was to be located 30 miles from the school. The students have won each battle including this last one. Waller County has announced that no further paperwork will be required from the students. The complete history can be found here.

And if the name Prairie View A & M sounds familiar, that is because it's where Sandra Bland was heading for a new job when her life was abruptly cut short. She died in police custody after being jailed for a traffic stop and kept in jail for days when she couldn't make bail. The street leading to the college is now named after her.

Goal ThermometerAs Democrats continue to rake in online donations surpassing the fundraising of their Republican rivals and Paul Ryan continues his triage, leaving many Republican candidates with no party support, help is on the way. Sheldon Adelson is using millions of his one billion dollar savings from Trump's tax bill to fund attack ads against Democratic candidates. Much of the money is going to attack Randy Bryce in Wisconsin. He drove Paul Ryan out of the race and is facing a Ryan clone in November. Wisconsin is very much in play with incumbent Governor Scott Walker trailing his opponent, Democrat Tony Evers, in the latest polls. Much of Adelson's money, laundered through Ryan's sleazy SuperPAC, has been spent attacking minority Democratic candidates.

Republicans running for Congress in the 25 districts Hillary Clinton won are further endangered by Trump's recent campaigning which concentrates only on riling up his base. The Atlantic predicts that Democrats will definitely pick up 15 seats with another 5 likely and the others still in play. Between 60-88 seats could flip in November if Democrats can get their voters to the polls. One seat that Democrats were counting on may go to Republicans, as Donna Shalala trails her opponent in Florida even as other women are leading. And will Heidi Heidkamp pull off another upset in North Dakota and retain her seat? Polls continue to predict Democrats will take the House while Republicans will keep the Senate but Democrats have a chance to take the Senate if Heidkamp wins and they pick up seats in Arizona and Nevada. And then there's Beto in Texas.

And in Georgia, where we reported on voter suppression yesterday by candidate for governor AND Secretary of State Brian Kemp, voter outrage is growing and his Democratic opponent Stacy Abrams is calling for Kemp to step down as all other Secretaries of State have done in the past when they ran for office.

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Paul Ryan Gives Up On 2 More Orange County Incumbents— Mimi And Dana Pushed Overboard

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Maybe it’s too early to congratulation progressive Democrat Katie Porter and New Dem Harley Rouda, but yesterday’s L.A. Times reported that Mimi Walters (CA-45) and Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48) are no longer seen as viable candidates by Ryan’s shady, Adelson-funded SuperPAC. Both have been cut off and left on the side of the road to die, politically speaking. What the Times reported is that the omission of Rohrabacher and Walters from TV advertising by Ryan’s Congressional Leadership Fund “comes at a crucial inflection point in the midterm election when the two parties begin assessing their likely winners and losers.”

Walters and Rohrabacher join a dozen other Republican incumbents who have been left for dead like Barbara Comstock (VA), Mike Coffman (CO), Mike Bishop (MI), Kevin Yoder (KS), Rod Blum (IA)... This is especially odd and unexpected for Walters and Rohrabacher because just last week Ryan’s PAC spent $337,839 savaging Katie Porter and $324,105 smearing Harley Rouda.
Candidates in California, where more than half a dozen seats are being seriously contested, are at particular risk of being cut off financially because of the state’s exorbitant advertising costs. Money saved in the costly Los Angeles media market can be spread over several contests in other states that may be considered more winnable.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, which collects multi-million-dollar checks from the Republican Party’s biggest donors, says it is spending nearly $12 million on cable television ads in four House contests in Southern California.

On Friday, the super PAC launched an additional $5-million ad campaign on the main broadcast stations in Los Angeles, the nation’s second most expensive media market after New York.

But the fund’s opening broadcast ads support only two of the four Republican candidates in the Southland’s hardest-fought races: Rep. Steve Knight of Palmdale and Young Kim of Fullerton, relegating its Rohrabacher and Walters ads to cable channels with fewer viewers.

The fund is free to add Walters and Rohrabacher to its broadcast lineup later. But millions of Californians have already received their ballots by mail, so immediate advertising is crucial to the fate of the two lawmakers, who are each facing their most serious challenges ever.

Rohrabacher has served 15 terms in Congress and Walters is bidding to win her third term.

Their Democratic challengers are already spending heavily on broadcast television ads. Walters has aired some broadcast commercials too, but Rohrabacher has not.

Nationwide, Democratic candidates have raised far more money than Republicans. As a result, GOP candidates are counting on outside groups like the Congressional Leadership Fund to come to the rescue.

But those groups must pay as much as quadruple the rates that television stations are required by law to offer to candidates, so the Democratic dollars are buying far more ad time. And those dollars are expanding the political battlefield, pressuring Republican strategists to make hard decisions on where to commit precious resources and which candidates to let go.

“While most people talk constantly about whether [Democratic enthusiasm] will translate into turnout, it’s definitely translating into dollars,” said Rob Stutzman, a veteran Republican strategist in Sacramento. “Dollars aren’t decisive always, but it’s always a big advantage.

“When you’re these national committees and you’ve got problems in the suburbs of Dallas, Kansas City, Chicago, Philadelphia, you’ve got to start making decisions on where you can most effectively spend,” Stutzman said.

For Knight, facing a formidable fundraiser in Democratic challenger Katie Hill, the new boost from the Congressional Leadership Fund came as a big relief. “We’re happy to have the help,” Knight strategist Matt Rexroad said.

Kim, the other Republican getting broadcast ads from the fund, is battling Democrat Gil Cisneros to succeed Rep. Ed Royce of Fullerton.

A Rohrabacher spokesman did not return a call for comment.

Dave Gilliard, a strategist for Walters, warned against reading too much into the latest machinations.

“There’s a lot of head fakes and games of chicken that occur between various outside spending groups in all these congressional districts,” he said. “Everybody’s trying to head-fake the other side to get them to spend money where they don’t need it.”

A spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee said the GOP’s congressional campaign arm is now broadcasting a spot supporting Walters and attacking her challenger, Katie Porter.

But he declined to say whether the committee would step up its advertising in either Orange County district if the Congressional Leadership Fund keeps Rohrabacher and Walters limited to cable.
The DCCC is doing something very similar. Remember, triage is bi-partisan-- and always favors conservatives (because of who exactly makes the decisions).They sent out a toxic memo Friday urging institutional donors and the suckers who still contribute to them instead of giving directly to candidates to concentrate on the corrupt conservatives the DCCC is pushing and stop giving money to the progressive candidates whose campaigns the DCCC is trying to destroy. They specifically asked donors to earmark money for New Dem candidates who are way ahead, while cutting back on all candidates associated with Bernie and with the policies he espouses and which are popular with Democratic voters. It’s ironic because the only way the anti-Red wave could possible turn into a Blue Wave would be for the DCCC to embrace ideas like Medicare-For-All, free state colleges, $15 minimum wage, Job Guarantee and other progressive ideas. The DCCC and their bag of Republican-lite candidates would rather run on bullshit talking points and conservative policies like PayGo.

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Not Even Republicans Can Stand Ted Cruz-- And Everyone Loves BETO

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Digby penned the Blue America letter today-- for a candidate that all of us like a lot, Beto O'Rourke-- and we've known Beto longer than almost anyone outside of El Paso, having endorsed him in 2012 when he first ran for Congress and ousted a corrupt conservative incumbent. This time around, Beto had raised an historic $23,332,950 by June 30 (and appears to have brought in over $38 million since then)! Cruz brought in almost exactly the same out as of June 30, but less than a third of what Beto did in the last quarter. Cruz is counting on a network of shady right-wing SuperPACs to bail him out and, indeed, they have already spent $4,822,400 smearing Beto. (The DSCC has spent exactly ZERO in Texas and the only PACs attacking Cruz have spent a grand total of $113,282.)




Let's Pull On Beto's Bootstraps
by Digby


Every once in a while a politician comes along who captures the imagination of voters in such a way that everyone knows from that moment on that he or she is clearly bound for greater things. I'm sure you all recall a certain night back in 2004 when a young first-time Senate candidate from Chicago electrified the Democratic convention-- and four years later went on to capture the White House. From the beginning, it was clear that Barack Obama had that "x-factor" that makes a politician embody the hopes and dreams of his followers.

This year there are dozens of stories of progressive candidates inspiring voters all over the country, motivating average folks to get off their couches and volunteer, call, canvass and donate. But there is one who has assumed the spotlight in a way that has the whole country paying attention. That would be Congressman Beto O'Rourke of Texas who is giving the odious Ted Cruz a run for his money. And when I say a run for his money, I mean big, big money.

Beto's campaign reported that they set a new record in US Senate races, raising 38.1 million dollars in the last three months. 60% of it came from small Texas donors, the rest from progressives around the country.  This is widely being reported as "more than Jeb Bush raised for his presidential campaign" which you'll recall was considered a record haul at the time. Cruz brought in 12 million, most of it from desperate big donors worried about losing their gravy train if the Senate turns blue.



Money doesn't mean a win, of course. But it doesn't hurt. And the reason Beto has been so successful at raising money and generating enthusiasm is because he has been running a strong progressive values-based campaign. He's from a red state but he doesn't run from the controversies or calculate how to split the difference in the culture war. 
"Non-violently, peacefully, while the eyes of this country are watching these games, they take a knee to bring our attention and our focus to this problem to ensure that we fix it, that is why they are doing it. And I can think of nothing more American than to peacefully stand up, or take a knee, for your rights, any time, anywhere, in any place."
His explanation of why he supports the NFL players taking a knee went viral because millions of people are yearning to look to the future again instead of wallowing in nostalgia for a past that never was.

He makes unabashedly traditional American arguments about fairness, equality, and justice which evoke a kind of patriotism that a lot of people, even some conservatives, would like to be able to feel again. They certainly haven't been hearing it from Republicans.

Regardless of the outcome of this Texas Senate race, Beto O'Rourke has proven to be a leader of the future, a progressive with a skilled way of preaching beyond the choir. He's been a Blue America leader since his first congressional race and we've been proud to support him all along the way.

   Goal ThermometerHowever, we are not going to ask you to donate to his campaign. He's obviously got enough money to carry him through! We are, instead, going to ask you to give to the other progressive candidates in Texas who will help Beto lead a progressive delegation to Washington.

Please give what you can to Turn Texas Blue!

[Note to DWT readers: by all means, contribute to Beto on that page too if you want to. I believe that we can expect to see a tidal wave of Adelson, Mercer and Koch money flooding  into Texas in the next three weeks-- and with no DSCC help, Beto could get swamped. Believe me, as Señor Trumpanzee would say, Adelson, Mercer and the Kochs are not giving up on Ted Cruz without a real fight.]


UPDATE: Mike Siegel (TX-10)

"Thousands of Texans are putting their lives on hold to make a stand for democracy in the United States, and though the polls may not always show it, we are on the brink of shocking the world. With Beto in the Senate, and several more Texas Democrats in the House, we will have what it takes to stop the Trump Republican agenda in its tracks, protect the safety net and Dreamers, investigate the Department of Homeland Security and the President, and propose real solutions to our most pressing problems: health care, climate change, infrastructure, campaign finance, criminal justice reform, and more. In the tradition of LBJ, we will help bring the South to the table in restoring justice and common decency to our country.”

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Kushner-In-Law Is A Big-Time Tax Cheat— Surprised?— So What Should We Do About It?

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NY Times reporters Jesse Drucker and Emily Flitter are definitely off the Trumpanzee Christmas card list. They did a fascinating expose on how real estate developers— like Kushner (and, no doubt, his crooked father-in-law)— avoid paying taxes. “Over the past decade, Jared Kushner’s family company has spent billions of dollars buying real estate. His personal stock investments have soared. His net worth has quintupled to almost $324 million. And yet, for several years running, Mr. Kushner— President Trump’s son-in-law and a senior White House adviser— appears to have paid almost no federal income taxes.
His low tax bills are the result of a common tax-minimizing maneuver that, year after year, generated millions of dollars in losses for Mr. Kushner, according to the documents. But the losses were only on paper— Mr. Kushner and his company did not appear to actually lose any money. The losses were driven by depreciation, a tax benefit that lets real estate investors deduct a portion of the cost of their buildings from their taxable income every year.

In 2015, for example, Mr. Kushner took home $1.7 million in salary and investment gains. But those earnings were swamped by $8.3 million of losses, largely because of “significant depreciation” that Mr. Kushner and his company took on their real estate… [T]he allowance often represents a lucrative giveaway to developers like Mr. Trump and Mr. Kushner.

The law assumes that buildings’ values decline every year when, in reality, they often gain value. Its enormous flexibility allows real estate investors to determine their own tax bills.

The White House last year championed a sweeping revision of the nation’s tax laws that expanded many of the benefits enjoyed by real estate investors, allowing them to reap even larger deductions.

“The Trump administration was in a position to clean up the tax code and promised to get rid of some of the complexity that certain taxpayers use to their advantage,” said Victor Fleischer, a tax law professor at the University of California, Irvine. “Instead, they doubled down on those provisions, particularly the ones they have familiarity with to benefit themselves.”

…Kushner’s father appears to have benefited from the same tax deductions, the documents indicate. The experts interviewed by The Times said Charles Kushner most likely avoided paying federal income taxes from at least 2012 to 2016.

The tax code affords real estate investors great leeway in how they calculate their depreciation — flexibility that often is used to inflate their annual deductions. Among the tactics used by many developers: Their tax advisers prepare studies arguing that much of a property’s value is attributable to things like appliances and parking lots, which under the law can be depreciated more quickly than the building.

Such strategies are almost never audited, tax professionals say. And the new tax law provides even more opportunities for property investors to take larger deductions.

Developers might have to pay capital gains taxes if they sell their properties. But the Kushners, like others in the real estate business, often avoid that tax, too, by using the proceeds of sales to buy more properties within a certain time window.

At least in part because of that perk, the Kushners’ property sales in the period covered by the documents— totaling about $2.3 billion, according to Real Capital Analytics, a research firm— generated little or no taxable income for Mr. Kushner.

Last year’s tax legislation eliminated that benefit for all industries but one: real estate.

Because the super-wealthy contribute to the careers of crooked politicians, these kinds of benefits are written into tax laws. These are benefits unavailable to working families of course. When Bernie talks about these wealthy people paying their fair share, this is precisely the kind of thing he’s talking about— and why elites, even inside the Democratic Party disparage him.

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It's Like The End Of The World-- Though Not For Florida's GOP Climate Change Deniers Like Neal Dunn

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It's hard hearing the cracking voices of our countrymen and women from the Florida Panhandle whose lives have been turned inside out by Hurricane Michael. Some of lost their homes or businesses; some lost both. There were 17 American deaths, 8 in Florida, attributed to the strongest hurricane to strike the Panhandle in recorded history, the third strongest to ever hit the U.S. mainland. It made landfall near Mexico Beach as a Category 4 storm. Insured damage is estimated to be $8 billion so far. Damages to Mexico Beach and Panama City in FL-02 was pretty catastrophic.

Last night the BBC reported that Mexico Beach was virtually flattened and nearly wiped off the map. The Columbia Journalism Review called it a climate change story, even though the initial reporting on Michael by the NY Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal failed to mention Climate Change at all. None of the reporting I saw did either. "This is particularly disappointing," wrote Pete Vernon, "because, just days before Michael made landfall, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report with a dismal assessment of current global conditions and a warning that the future, soon approaching, is much more dire than previously feared."
Climate scientists are cautious not to directly link rising sea levels and warming temperatures to any individual storm, but a basic theory holds: warmer water and air, along with rising sea levels, will lead to storms of greater intensity. Even though a straight line between climate change and Michael cannot yet be drawn (researchers will later be able to model the actual intensity of the storm compared to computer generated models), coverage of major storms that fails to address profound environmental problems fails to provide audiences with a full picture.

As our understanding of the impact of climate change expands, some journalists have taken up the challenge of bringing the topic into the discussion of storms like Michael. “Hurricane Michael isn’t a truly ‘natural disaster,’ John D. Sutter, a CNN investigative reporter, wrote. “Neither was Harvey in Houston. Nor Maria in Puerto Rico. Yet we continue to use that term. Doing so-- especially in the era of climate change-- is misleading if not dangerous.” In Thursday’s Times, Henry Fountain, a climate reporter, explained the “triple threat from climate change: more rain in larger storms on rising seas.” The Atlantic’s Robertson Meyer explained how Michael’s sudden growth could be tied to rising sea levels and warming waters, writing that “scientists won’t formally know whether climate change played a role in Michael’s rapid intensification for several months. But local weather experts have already said Michael is exactly what they would expect to see in a climate-changed world.”

Writing on the UN report, the Post’s Margaret Sullivan argued that “when it comes to climate change, we-- the media, the public, the world-- need radical transformation, and we need it now.” That transformation could include reporting on climate changes impact on any number of issues, from the economy to immigration to warfare. With the country focused on coverage of Michael’s destruction, the opportunity to bring climate change into the discussion is there for the taking, and it shouldn’t be ignored.
The congressman who represents Mexico Beach and Panama City is freshman Republican Neal Dunn, who replaced wretched Blue Dog Gwen Graham, who fled the area when redistricting made it harder for a Democrat to win. Although Dunn is probably best known for having an office lousy with sexual harassment, he also has a record as a legislator. Basically, he's just a Trump-worshipping backbencher in a safe red district. The PVI is R+18 and Trump won the district 66.2% to 30.6%. Dunn beat his Democratic opponent, Walter Dartland, 67.3% to 29.9%, after dumping $567,701 of his own money into the race. This cycle he's facing Bob Rackleff who's raised $165,478 to Dunn's $1,182,655. The 538 Forecaster gives Dunn a better than 99 in 100 chance to win next month.



Ironically, Dunn is on the House Science Committee. The League of Conservation Voters gives him a 3% environmental score. As for climate change, he's, proudly, a denier. In April 2016 he told the Panama City News Herald that he's "sure human activity plays some role, but I don't think the science is clear on how much is man-made and how much is natural. What I do know is that the United States should not follow the path of the global warming alarmists like the Obama administration who wants us to unilaterally handicap... industry with over-burdensome EPA regulations." There's no pulse left in Mexico Beach at all and it will be months before most of his district recovers.

Most of the Florida congressmembers, like Dunn, are virulent Climate Change deniers, who all oppose regulating the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. Our top scientific institutions, the U.S. military, NASA, NOAA, and nearly all credible experts say pollution is causing our planet to get warmer. Still, false information designed to discredit climate science is actively promoted by organizations with ties to fossil fuels, and many leaders in Congress are also spreading disinformation for political reasons. While fossil fuel companies are generating enormous profits, we ultimately will bear the costs associated with extreme weather and rising sea levels. Representatives for Florida in the United States Congress have an important role in supporting efforts to solve the issue. They are virtually all Climate Change deniers, including Ron DeSantis, currently running for Governor. Republican voters don't seem to connect the dots... yet.

There's no reason to believe Dunn will get any fewer votes than he would have before the Hurricane-- except for the 8 who died in his district. I wonder what it will take to wake these folks up. I especially would love to see how folks in Mexico Beach vote in November.


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Midnight Meme Of The Day!

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by Noah

To be fair, Rene Belloq, the Raiders Of The Lost Ark character Melania Trump is standing next to in tonight's meme was not strictly a NAZI. He he was, to be more precise, an opportunistic NAZI sympathizer, so, in that sense, it's a perfect match at the least. But, I have to laugh at people who think that Mail Order Melania is unaware of the messages she sends with her hideous fashion choices. Once? Maybe. but this is over and over again. This is a woman filled with hate for those she views as people who don't matter, people she looks down upon, people she barely even considers people. For those who wonder why she married fellow jackass Donnie Trump, that shared worldview is one of the keys to their marriage. It could not be more obvious. It's right there with the smell and attraction of the money, and the fact that Donnie Boy would probably try to ruin her life in an instant and have her deported if she ever did something he actually didn't approve of.

With Melania, It's not just the wearing heals to a hurricane or 5 figure gardening clothes, not too mention her internet full of softcore porn. It's not just "I Don't Really Care, Do You" jackets. It's more than standing next to her husband to distract from that thing on his head. Earlier this week it was wearing the British Colonial garb to Africa, complete with safari pith helmet to piss off a whole continent. Now it's Dress As A Nazi Day on a visit to the Pyramids in Egypt. At least she leaves the Ilsa She Wolf Of The SS uniform back at the White House. So far, that's only for Donnie and her other men. You can bet she wears it around the White House living quarters, though. OMG, if Kellyanne ever saw that one, she'd be getting her own in a heartbeat, if she doesn't have one already. We know how much Kellyanne loves to dress up! How much of a PC crisis would it be if Melania dressed as Ilsa strode into Stephen Miller's office? How much would Miller be conflicted? Enough to melt down into a puddle or just keel over dead?



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Saturday, October 13, 2018

Dear Evangelicals...

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This afternoon, our friends at Vote Common Good pulled the big tour bus up to the Miller Park Pavilion in Omaha and did an evangelical "Flip Congress" rally with progressive Democrat Kara Eastman. Tuesday the bus will be at Wichita Farm and Art Market Plaza in Wichita for a rally with another progressive candidate, James Thompson. Evangelicals haven't been seriously pursued by Democrats since Jimmy Carter ran for president. Vote Common Good is working to change that. They're still buzzing after their event in Sioux City with J.D. Scholten (in the middle):


VCG co-chair Samir Selmanović assured Democratic candidates this cycle that they "can reach religious and values voters in a grounded, confident, and impactful way. Addressing them directly, he wrote that "Vote Common Good is here to help you turn your perceived weakness into real strength. Vote Common Good team members have worked as pastors, coaches, activists, and spiritual directors for decades, and we are equipped with 'insider' knowledge, empathy, and the best practices of religious communication. As a part of our overall strategy, we want to help you tap into your authentic self when you communicate to religious voters. In front of any religious audience, your authenticity can become more compelling than the lingo, posturing, or hubris of your opponents." He went on the explain the VCG goal now:
Help Democratic candidates become more confident talking about religion in a way that is both authentic and persuasive to religious voters, particularly Evangelicals who are ready for your message. Many of them are on the brink of turning their vote to the left in order to follow their conscience, be faithful to their religious experience and story, and cross the line (in the booth or in public) to recover their personal integrity.
We do this through coaching and advising, helping you as a candidate be in touch with your spiritual experience (for what it already is, nothing more), broaden your story, learn to articulate it in public, and connect with the religious sensibilities of the electorate.
You can be you. And you will know how to “turn the table” of faith on Republican religionists so to speak. This is more simple to do and more powerful in its impact than most Democrats can imagine.
We will help you ground and deepen your “presence” (presence eats arguments for breakfast) and tell a bigger story in which others can find themselves.

As a result, some previously Republican voters will flip their vote, some will stay home and not vote Republican, while some will double down their commitment against you and progressive values you hold. We are focused only on the first two groups. Offending (or often scaring) some in the third group is an inevitable byproduct of doing this right.

The voters we want to reach have already begun to change on the inside. They only need to acknowledge what is already true for them and cross a threshold with their actions. Voting is that action.
Many voters are not willing to take on more and more of the incremental fear dispensed by Republicans and much of the Evangelical establishment. Instead of trying to convince these voters with arguments on issues (level of mere reason), you will learn how to speak in a way that invites them drop into their formative faith (level of emotion, values, and social connections) and embody their faith in their political choices (level of behavior).
You will learn how to help them cross the line by naming what they are right about, not what they are wrong about. We are asking them to manifest deeper loyalty to the religious/spiritual path they are already on. In their heart of heart, they can’t wait to migrate from fear to faith.
Importantly, in our experience, the voter impact for Democratic candidates working on this is vastly underestimated by most candidates. The margin for growth is huge. Teachings and values of religion in general, and example of Jesus in particular, now overlap with Democratic platform and values more than with the Republican. In other words, this effort provides a small lever to open a large door for Democratic candidates.

White evangelicals are a major part of the Republican base. Laura Clawson at Alternet wrote that "a majority of them [are] happy to excuse Donald Trump’s lying and infidelities and crudeness and general lack of anything resembling Christian values as long as he picks anti-abortion judges. But there’s evidence of at least a little erosion of rock-hard Republicanism among evangelical women in Texas, the New York Times reports:
“I care as much about babies at the border as I do about babies in the womb,” said Tess Clarke, one of Ms. Mooney’s friends, confessing that she was “mortified” at how she used to vote, because she had only considered abortion policy. “We’ve been asleep. Now, we’ve woke up.” [...]



“I keep going back to who Jesus was when he walked on earth,” she said. “This is about proximity to people in pain.”
Rep. Beto O’Rourke, running for Senate against Ted Cruz, is doing some careful outreach to women like Tess Clarke and her friends, including doing a podcast segment with a popular evangelical woman author. O’Rourke’s ability to appeal to such women-- even if some of them are keeping it hidden from the men in their families-- may be one more reason Republicans are pulling out all the stops to back Cruz, despite the fact that most people who know him dislike him, with John Cornyn, Cruz’s fellow Texas senator, doing a fundraiser for him hard on the heels of campaign visits by Donald Trump Jr. and Mike Pence.

In another sign of the tight spot Cruz finds himself in, the vaunted college debater who previously challenged O’Rourke to five debates has backed out of a CNN town hall event, leaving O’Rourke with an hour-long televised town hall all to himself. Not exactly what confidence looks like, but it’s true that the contrast of smarmy, smug, oily Ted with charismatic Beto might not be to Cruz’s benefit.



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WGRZ Tracks Down Trumpist Crook Chris Collins (NY-27) And Makes Him Answer 2 Questions

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How does a progressive Democrat will in a Republican district with an R+11 PVI? Nate McMurray got a helping hand when the FBI barged into Republican incumbent Chris Collins' Manhattan penthouse and arrested him on a long list of charges related to Insider Trading. But that doesn't put him-- nor Ammar Compa-Najjar, who is also running against an indicted right-wing felon on the other side of the country (San Diego's equally red suburbs)-- into the seat.

Goal ThermometerLike I said, this is a helluva red district and there are many right wing voters who would prefer to elect a crooked Republican than a Democrat. McMurray hopes his first ad (above) will introduce him to NY-27 voters in a way they can relate to. He's running it both the Buffalo and Rochester media markets. He can use some help keeping it on the air and please consider contributing by tapping on the congressional thermometer on the right. Right now the race is in a dead heat-- even with the huge amount of money Collins has spent against him, smearing him in every conceivable way in the hope of getting Democrats and independents to just throw up their hands in disgust and not vote, the idea being, of course, that they're both corrupt. That's what an indicted felon has to do. Duncan Hunter is pulling a similar stunt on Ammar, who he's trying to paint as an Arab terrorist, even though Ammar passed a very tight security test when he worked in the Obama administration, a test Hunter could never pass-- not just because he's a drug abuser but because of the 36 page indictment. Paul Ryan kicked him off the House Arms Services Committee as a national security risk. So, try to tar your opponent with the same brush... the Republican strategy.

McMurray's not buying in to the negativity and has kept his campaign positive and issue-oriented. Collins has been ducking debates and interviews and any kind of public exposure. But... David McKinley from Buffalo power house station WGRZ wrote that he had tracked Collins down and got him to answer a couple of questions before he scurried away. "After months of trying to get a hold of Representative Chris Collins to get your questions answered," he wrote, "2 On Your Side has finally tracked him down. In an exclusive interview with 2 On Your Side's Dave McKinley, we found Collins and he spoke with us for a couple minutes outside the Brookside Banquet Hall in Newfane. The Niagara County Republican Party was holding a meeting the candidates event there. [Neither] the Niagara County GOP Party nor the Collins campaign made mention that he would be attending the event. If you take a look at the party's website, candidates that were invited were named except for Collins. We are the station that holds the people in power accountable and we brought the tough questions to Rep. Collins."
Dave McKinley: HOW CAN YOU ASK SOMEONE TO VOTE FOR SOMEONE WHO IS UNDER INDICTMENT?

Rep. Chris Collins: "WELL VERY SIMPLE, I'M INNOCENT. SO I'M REMINDING PEOPLE OF MY SIX YEAR VOTING RECORD, MY RELATIONSHIP WITH THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS SEAT STAYING REPUBLICAN TO KEEP NANCY PELOSI FROM BEING SPEAKER TO KEEP JERRY NADLER FROM BEING CHAIR OF JUDICIARY TO KEEP MAXINE WATERS FROM BEING CHAIR OF THE FINANCIAL SERVICES. THIS IS ABOUT PROTECTING TRUMP AND THE DIRECTION OF THIS COUNTRY FOR THE NEXT TWO YEARS AS OPPOSE TO GRIDLOCK, INVESTIGATIONS, INQUISITIONS, IMPEACHMENTS. IT'S THAT SIMPLE."

Dave McKinley: YOU TALK ABOUT BEING EXONERATED AT TRIAL, YOUR TRIAL DATE WAS SET TODAY, IF YOU EVER GET TO TRIAL, FEBRUARY OF 2020. HOW EFFECTIVE CAN A CONGRESSMAN LIKE YOURSELF BE WITH A MILLSTONE AROUND HIS NECK?

Rep. Chris Collins: "THERE IS NO MILLSTONE AROUND MY NECK, I'VE BEEN IN CONGRESS SINCE THE INDICTMENT. UM, I'M BEING TREATED LIKE I'VE ALWAYS BEEN TREATED. I'M, I HAVE NOT MISSED A VOTE. I AM SPONSORING LEGISLATION, I'M CO-SPONSORING LEGISLATION. I HAVE FOLKS COMING THROUGH MY OFFICE TALKING ABOUT THE ISSUES IMPORTANT TO THEM. I'M IN DISCUSSION WITH THE ADMINISTRATION. LET ME TELL YOU DAVE, NOTHING HAS CHANGED IN MY RELATIONSHIP IN CONGRESS WITH MY FELLOW MEMBERS OR WHAT I'M DOING A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS SINCE THERE, SO THERE YOU GO RIGHT THERE PROVES."

When asked if Collins gave insider trading information to his son, he did not answer the question and walked inside.
Again, that thermometer up top is so you can contribute to Nate McMurray's campaign. This is one we can help a good candidate replace a really bad one.

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Police Brutality

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Me and Keisha

Two years ago I met Nickeisha Gaynor at an event for me at Stony Brook University. She introduced me at the ceremony. At the time she was writing a paper on Mass Incarceration regarding gangs and police brutality. She reminded me about all the athletes lately protesting against police brutality. She worries that her generation, is not as active in learning about the politics of our time. In her hope to change that, she sent me this essay and I remembered about the incredible video she did a couple of years ago, "The Right To Grow Up."



Police Brutality-- Taking Advantage Of "Self Defence"
by Nickeisha Gaynor



Stop Police Brutality! Black lives matter! We've cried it. We've protested it. We've churched it. We've pleaded for it to stop. In fact, we have not only done this peacefully, but we have also ensured it was done lawfully. We have abided by the rules and regulations in return for what we had asked for--and end to police brutality. It is evident that changes like this take time, but it’s sad to say, it’s been too long now. As a family, we need to protect ourselves!

Let us take a look at the current situation that just occurred in Baltimore. How many people do we actually hear focusing on the death of Freddie Gray? I guarantee you that we are all aware of the riots and the lootings in Baltimore, but hardly about Gray, the 25 year old African American, who’d suffered multiple fractures and a broken spine while detained by police officers. It is as if police brutality is normal nowadays. We protested on this matter before, yet police brutality continues. We watch our brothers and sisters die off one by one, and all we hear is “it was self defense.” If police officers can use that line, why can’t we? We are being targeted by a higher power, isn’t it fair for us to do whatever we can to protect ourselves and call it “self defense?”

Now gangs in Baltimore have decided to put their differences aside and come together as one and still, the main issue of police brutality was ignored. They want Blacks to fight back. They wanted them to make themselves look bad just so they may use that as the opportunity to justify their reasons for their actions. Well, it worked. Stores were vandalized by protesters and it only got worse from there. What did you think the news reporters were going to show? Not the peaceful protest that took place prior, but the violent acts that occurred after. That is the problem. We will never be seen when we peacefully ask for a change, but will always be seen as animals that needs to be tamed.

We need a new tactic, not to end up begging and pleading for help from the government, etc., but for us to keep on coming together as a family, not only for protesting, not only for church, not only for school, not only for work, etc., but in everything we do. We seriously need to regain our original identity, because we were once known for our hands on work, and now sadly, for our hands on guns. We need to unify once again and yes, we need the gangs in our community to keep on coming together as one also. We need to protect ourselves!

Someone is asking if I’m serious about the unification of gangs. Let us take this time to start reminiscing on what gangs use to be like when there was unity. I recently saw a post on the internet that stated, CRIP: Crip stands for Community Revolution in Progress. Now, I am not sure if that was the original meaning being CRIP, however, because the originality of their aim was to protect our community nothing more nothing less, I support it. It was also said that BLOOD: Blood stands for Brotherly Love Overcomes Our Depression. Realize that their goal was to overcome oppression not to cause fear nor stir up aggression? That’s what gangs were all about, of course when there was unity. Thus, it’s very clear that with unity, we can make ends meet!

Intriguingly, the difference in this generation is that ever since we have obtained our freedom, everyone is more to themselves. I know it will be hard to break out of this habit, especially with today’s entertainment industry encouraging us to be drug addicts, self centered and materialistic. Some may think otherwise, but let us think about some of these rappers we listen to. Rick Ross for instance. Hopefully we all know of him. If not, Rick Ross didn’t only go to college with a football scholarship, but he also had a clean reputation going on for him. He was a correctional officer. Evidently, in order to get that job, his record had to be completely clean, thus, it can be implied that he never sold drugs, nor had any criminal involvement. Ironically, his music videos portrayed that he did... why?

Food for thought: Radio stations and record companies would more likely replay a song that consistently portrays pain, gambling, addiction, and money. Rappers nowadays realize this strategy, and use it to their advantage to make easy money. Whether or not the music industry is aware that they're manipulating us, they actually are. Still don't believe me? Let's take a look at the type of songs we are listening to nowadays: "I'm in love with the coco!" This is the most explicit example one can give. Those are the songs that are constantly playing and are constantly being listened to. We not only sing along to these types of songs when we hear them, but we also sing them with confidence--which shows a form of support towards those types of lyrics. We may emphasize that these are just songs, but they're instilling this idea in our mindset that criminal activities and drug use aren't problems or an issue. Thus, we need to turn those music off and let these entertainers know that they’re also encouraging police officers to target minorities even more. We have been brained-wash. It is now time that we wash the filth out of our minds and start to think clear once again, so we can unite in peace to end this rubbish.

Furthermore, I strongly believe we should encourage the gangs in our community to help protect us. I suggest this because I was recently assaulted near a bus stop by a homeless man. He tried to rob me. Normal people stood by and watched. I was wrestling this man for around 2 minutes straight, but it felt like it was for hours. Let me reiterate the fact that "normal people stood by and watched.” It was both ex gang members and gang members, who had stepped in and help me detain the robber, until the cops arrived. These gang members weren't affiliated with each other, yet they still came together to help me. This situation itself let me realize that gangs do have the power to help save lives despite their differences. They are bold. Fearless. Strong. If only they used their strength for good? I believe we need to let them realize that their gangs aren’t their only family; we are all in this together. We need to be in this together!

In due time, we will gain justice. We just need to gain back our love in our communities, reclaim our safekeeping and become the hard working people we once were. It is time that we stop being too dependent and let us start being builders again. We all have a great amount of responsibility to take on, I know, but when we do take it on, we will surely have great power to not being fearful. I will be honest with you all. I strongly doubt that police brutality will come to an end, thus, once again, it is up to us to protect ourselves. Can we fight back if cops are in the wrong? If a black man is getting beat down by police officers wrongfully, he should be able to fight back and call it “self defence”. Many of you may assume I’m pro-violence because I am suggesting we fight back, but I’m quite the contrary. I’m in favor of self-defense, and I hope you will be too. It’s now time that we unite and help protect ourselves! Not stir up trouble, but let the government recognize that though we need police officers around, we also need to put our foot down! Police officers can get away with violent behaviors by simply calling it self-defence. A black man fighting back pays with his life or serve imprisonment. If you have not gotten anything from what I have said so far, I would like you to get this: “Self-defence” should not only be for the privileged, but also for the disadvantaged!

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Is Gaslighting The Country Into A State Of Dread An "Accomplishment?"

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A new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that registered voters say Kavanaugh’s confirmation makes them more apt to support Democratic rather than Republican candidates by a 6-point margin, 33-27 percent. Overall, confirming Kavanaugh was a net loss for the GOP. And a majority of voters thing Congress should do a real investigation of him next year. Ted Lieu, a member of the House Judiciary Committee was the first to call for such an investigation and now Jerry Nadler, the likely next chairman of the committee, has promised an investigation into sexual misconduct and perjury allegations against Kavanaugh if the Democrats take control of the House in the midterm elections.




Another poll, also released yesterday, this one by Harvard for Politico got into motivation driving voters, more proof that this wave is not a Blue Wave but an anti-Red (or anti-Trump) Wave. "Fear and anger over the GOP’s health policies are driving a majority of Democratic voters to the polls in an effort to flip control of the House and put the brakes on the Trump administration’s agenda... More than half of Democrats likely to vote in House races rank health care as “extremely important” in determining their vote." Republicans are more driven by their own paranoias about terrorism and guns.
“The parties are incredibly polarized in what they are voting on,” said Robert Blendon, a Harvard professor of health policy and political analysis, who designed the poll. “Health care is not really a major issue for Republicans. But it’s an overwhelming issue for Democrats.”

Beyond health care, Democrats list education, the Supreme Court and climate change among their top concerns heading into the November elections.

...More than two-thirds of Republicans say they’re somewhat motivated to vote in November to show support for President Donald Trump. Among Democrats, the president is playing an even bigger role in priming turnout: 72 percent say they’re voting in part to oppose his administration. ...For Democrats, the midterms are about protecting Obamacare and its benefits, and preventing the Trump administration from pursuing its own health care agenda. Republicans, reflecting Trump’s protectionist leanings, care deeply about issues like preserving gun rights and immigration restrictions.


Yesterday New York Magazine carried an essay by Andrew Sullivan on the dangers of Trump's accomplishments. "Trump’s record as a force of destruction is profound," he wrote, "whether it be the sabotage of Obamacare, the devastation of democratic norms, or the rattling of NATO. But as the months tick by, there’s a decent case that Trump’s proactive accomplishments are beginning to add up as well: a huge tax cut, two Supreme Court justices, wholesale deregulation, renegotiation of NAFTA, isolation of Iran, and a broader reboot of bilateral nationalism on the world stage. But I’m not talking merely about policy-- he has also shifted the entire polity more decisively toward the authoritarian style of government. In this respect, yes, the Trump administration has indeed accomplished much more than many of us want to believe."

But there's another essay from yesterday that's a must read, this one by John Harris and Sarah Zimmerman for Politico, Trump May Not Be Crazy, But The Rest Of Us Are Getting There Fast. Sullivan overlooked that accomplishment. "Psychologists' couches are filling up as Americans seek relief from Trump Anxiety Disorder." Her wrote about couples have problems because "the agitated state of American politics was causing strain in their marriage... Trump excites hot feelings in many quarters has cooled them considerably in bedrooms... During normal times, therapists say, their sessions deal with familiar themes: relationships, self-esteem, everyday coping. Current events don’t usually invade. But numerous counselors said Trump and his convulsive effect on America’s national conversation is giving politics a prominence on the psychologist’s couch not seen since the months after 9/11-- another moment in which events were frightening in a way that had widespread emotional consequences."
The American Psychiatric Association in a May survey found that 39 percent of people said their anxiety level had risen over the previous year-- and 56 percent were either “extremely anxious” or “somewhat anxious about “the impact of politics on daily life.” A 2017 study found two-thirds of Americans’ see the nation’s future as a “very or somewhat significant source of stress.”

These findings suggest the political-media community has things backwards when it comes to Trump and mental health.

For two years or more, commentators have been cross-referencing observations of presidential behavior with the official APA Diagnostic and Statistical Manual’s definition of narcissistic personality disorder. Journalists have compared contemporary video of Trump with interviews from the 1980s for signs of possible cognitive decline. And even some people on his own team, according to books and news reports, have been reading up on the process of presidential removal under the 25th Amendment of the Constitution-- fueled by suspicions that the president’s allegedly erratic and undeniably precedent-shattering approach to the Oval Office may prove eventually to be a case of non compos mentis.

A more plausible interpretation, in the view of some psychological experts, is that Trump has been cultivating, adapting and prospering from his distinctive brand of provocation, brinkmanship, and self-drama for the past 72 years. What we’re seeing is merely the president’s own definition of normal. It is only the audience who finds the performance disorienting. In other words: He’s not crazy, but the rest of us are getting there fast.

...A study from the market research firm Galileo also found that, in the first 100 days after Trump’s election, 40 percent of people said they “can no longer have open and honest conversations with some friends or family members.” Nearly a quarter of respondents said their political views have hurt their personal relationships.

“Authority figures represent the parent, [so] President Trump seats in the seat of parent for all Americans,” said Baum-Baicker. “So now, my ‘father figure’ is a bully, is an authoritarian who doesn’t believe in studying and doing homework... [Rather than reassurance] he creates uncertainty.”

Even Trump supporters are not insulated from this modern age of anxiety.

...Nearly every interview with psychologists returned to the theme of “gaslighting”-- the ability of manipulative people to make those around them question their mental grip.

Trump daily goes to war on behalf of his own factual universe, with what conservative commentator George F. Will this week called “breezy indifference to reality.”

Examples include false boasts on the size of his inauguration crowd; his denunciation of unfavorable stories as “fake news”; the assertion that an investigation into his campaign which has already produced multiple criminal convictions is “a hoax.” Some people can’t just roll their eyes at obvious bullshit-- they experience an assault on truth at a more profound psychic level.

“Gaslighting is essentially a tactic used by abusive personalities to make the abused person feel as though they’re not experiencing reality, or that it’s made up or false,” said Dominic Sisti, a behavioral health care expert at the University of Pennsylvania who penned an article with Baum-Baicker on Trump’s effect on stress. “The only reality one can trust is one that is defined by the abuser. Trump does this on a daily basis-- he lies, uses ambiguities, demonizes the press. It’s a macroscopic version of an abusive relationship.”

When people are frightened by erratic behavior and worry what’s coming next in any arena of life, said Panning, that creates an extraordinary amount of anxiety and often a feeling of dread.”

...[T]herapists say today’s political conditions are ripe to send people of all partisan, ideological and cultural stripes to the emotional edge.

“Human beings hate two things,” said Michael Dulchin, a New York psychiatrist who has seen Trump anxiety in his practice. One is “to look to the future and think you don’t have enough energy to succeed and live up to your expectations. The other is to not be able to predict the environment.”

Put these together, he said, and the psychological result is virtually inevitable: “Anxiety and depression.”

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