Sunday, July 21, 2019

Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

If Wednesday night's batshit insane "Send Her Back" chanting at Trump's North Carolina rally (as he nodded along and stifled a smile) showed us one thing, it's that republicans are now in a (to them) glorious full racist meltdown. They hardly even pretend to hide their racism anymore, and those like the propagandists at FOX "News" who push racism and then claim what they just said or did isn't racist have been encouraging racism for years. It would be hard to believe that anyone is happier about the storm we're in than Rupert Murdoch, unless his name is Trump. Neo Nazi's know they have sympathetic partners in FOX and Trump and they are letting their freak flags fly.

It's not like any Republicans in the media or among the voters every really did hide their racism, at least not completely. They may have thought so but now they don't even bother with the pretense or they will deny that what is obviously racist is racist, with a smirk of course. The racism has always been there to see. It's just that now, even more than before, Republicans are proudly and even more loudly proclaiming it. Trump's rallies are now the stuff of lynch mobs. The doors to the Republican Party closets have been blown off their hinges by a wind that howls right out of 1963 Mississippi and Alabama.

I don't know who the racist FOX "News" goon in the above picture is but, really, does it matter? You could just plug in virtually any FOX "News" goon. Sure, some airhead defenders of the white supremacist network who might claim to be Independents or even Democrats, will point to Shep Smith and claim "Not him, he's ok. They'r not all bad." But, let's get real, if you're happily riding in the back seat, you're still going along on the ride to whatever mayhem the cretin behind the wheel is driving to. The rhetoric that the White House, FOX "News" and the rest of the Republican notables is engaging in is the same as the "rotten apple" rhetoric that led us to Oklahoma City, Jackson State, Kent State, and the bodies of 3 civil rights workers being buried in an earthen dam.

One, FOX a-hole named Chris Stirewalt even recently tried to minimize republican racism by shrugging it off and saying-
Democrats will tell you every Republican is racist. Republicans will tell you every Democrat is a socialist.
Talk about your false equivalencies! Think about that one. Play it over in your mind. To Herr Stirewalt, being a racist is as acceptable as being a socialist. I'd love to see him say something like that in a crowd in Denmark, or even at a Social Security office here in the good old U.S.A. for that matter.

Well, to Republicans, being a racist is perfectly acceptable. In fact, it's encouraged and, as I've said here for years, being a racist is among the qualifications to join the Republican Party. This was well-evidenced by Tuesday's House vote on a resolution to condemn Trump's racist tweets and remarks in the White House Rose Garden. Only 4 out of all of the House Republicans voted against the resolution and they will henceforth be ostracized. The rest fiercely made their embrace of Trump's racism and their own a matter of public and congressional record. This is the Republican Party in 2019 and, horrifically, the future.

Another Republican goofball who has embraced his racism, is North Carolina $enator Thom Tillis who met Trump at the airport and was thrilled to ride with him to the rally. Thursday morning, the morning after the now infamous rally, Tillis ran as fast as he could to the FOX cameras where he enthused about all of the support for Trump in North Carolina as exemplified by crowds along the route to the rally and at the rally itself. Among other statements, he played the "fake news" card claiming media "obfuscation" of recent events and joining in with a FOX "News" blonde bozo who appeared to be right out of a Nazi S.S. central casting call as he whined to Tillis that the people in the rally arena "are being characterized as racists." Aw, poor baby! Gee, now why would people characterize racists as racists? This has been a standard tactic at FOX that they've really stepped up in recent days. Just like the White House, at Fox, whatever actions or statements by republicans that are racist just aren't racist. It's Queen of Denial Journalism 101. It's getting so bad that I expect the next time I put FOX "News" on, they'll all be looking at a picture of a lynched black man hanging from a tree and saying "that's not racist." It's FOX. It's who they are, from Rupert Murdoch on down. These are the people who turned over their shows to birtherism when Barack Obama was running for and then serving as president. These are the people who dismissed the circulating pictures of President Obama dressed as a witch doctor with a bone in his nose while the healthcare bill was being put together as not racist. That just wasn't enough for them and they will continue to escalate and escalate and escalate.

Here's Tillis joining in on the whining-
We've gotta shift the attention back to some of the positions they're taking that are extreme. Now the media here on Capitol Hill only wanna talk about parsing the president's words. I'm not gonna answer a question of them (sic) unless they come back and talk about the things that actually lit this candle and it's the extreme positions taken by A.O.C., Omar, and the so-called gang.
Yeah, there you have it. Tillis thinks the media's time would be better spent reporting the so-called "extreme" views held by the 4 congresswomen of color that republicans are focusing so much hate upon these days. Right. As if there's nothing extreme in saying that they should go back to where they came from. Hey Thommy, how about you tell that to the president's wife and her family! Go ahead. We're waiting asshole!

A parting note: On most Sunday's, I devote the Midnight Meme Of The Day! to a subcategory I call "Sunday Thoughts." Events, however, are overrunning us. I will point out, though, that tonight's meme does contain a cross and the KKK is as Republican Jesus-like as penny loafers and Mike Pence's khakis, and has been since Nixon took the racist dixiecrats, with the notable exception of former klansman Robert Byrd, into the Republican Party back in 1968. Byrd, however, unlike the rest, repudiated his former ways. Don't hold your breath waiting for that from any modern day Republicans. They have a true white supremacist messiah in Donald Trump now and it is him in whom they place their trust, no other, and certainly not the Constitution.

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Saturday, July 20, 2019

Neo-Liberals, Neo-Conservatives, Neo-Fascists, Neo-Nazis... There's A Difference?


My friend Frank-- whose dad was one of the 3 founders of the Moral Majority movement-- left evangelical Christianity many years ago... loudly. Yesterday, je sent me this video from Italy, where he's on vacation. He sure doesn't like fascists! "Be warned, America," he said, "when you elect a Nazi German to represent your country, who then calls other people "foreigners," when he is a foreigner-- because it is not an American idea to put children in cages... When you tell people of color to go back where they came from... when we forget that history, we will end up with places like this or their metaphorical equivalent." He was speaking from the ruins of a German bunker.

Commentary was founded by left-of-center Jewish intellectuals in the aftermath of the Holocaust and became a leading component of the new post-war Jewish identity until 1960 when a radical right freak, Norman Podhoretz, took over and turned it into a neo-conservative/neo-fascist magazine, destroying all credibility the magazine had developed in it's first decade and a half. His son, John Podhoretz, is the current editor and even nearly as toxic as the father. A #NeverTrumper, he broke with the fascist right on immigration policy: "[A]s a Jew, I have great difficulty supporting a blanket policy of immigration restriction because of what happened to the Jewish people after 1924 and the unwillingness of the United States to take Jews in." But, more recently, he gravitated back to his neo-fascist roots and supports both Trump and putting immigrant children in cages. I don't know much about Noah Rothman other than his position as online editor of Commentary. His new book, Unjust: Social Justice and the Unmaking of America, was published by neo-fascist publishing firm, Regnery. And his new post for Commentary, pathetic: "both sides" trash, that would have had the pre-Podhoretz editors of the magazine puking. His first couple of paragraphs sucked me into reading the article: "The 2016 election cycle was a forsaken orgy of racial anxiety, political violence, spineless complacency, and depravity of a scale that was abnormal even for American politics. The 2020 election cycle will be worse. America got a taste of what Donald Trump’s reelection bid is going to look like on Wednesday night, and it wasn’t a pretty sight. The president had only hours earlier intervened in a destructive civil conflict among Democrats by insisting that the conflict’s more progressive belligerents, all of whom are of minority descent with only one born abroad, should 'go back' to the countries 'from which they came.' Aware of the damage these remarks could do both to the GOP’s political prospects and the social fabric, some responsible Republicans dissented. Most did not. Those members of Trump’s phalanx who did not stifle their criticisms flattered the president and applauded his instincts. It was inevitable that his most committed supporters would do the same. So, when the topic turned to 'squad' member Ilhan Omar at Wednesday night’s rally, the crowd followed Trump’s lead." Eventually, so did Rothman.

First he noted that "There’s an ugly condescension inherent in the unspoken assumption that repudiating bigotry might fracture the president’s winning coalition of voters who are otherwise underserved by elite opinion-makers on the coasts, but there is no better explanation for Trump’s politically foolish compromises. Trump’s approach to constituency maintenance routinely manifests in the stoking of racial and class tensions, and there’s no reason to expect that to abate when the presidency is on the line." But then came the both sides bullshit conservatives can never resist:

Equally tragic is the fact that the Republican Party Trump represents is losing, or has already lost, the moral high ground in its efforts to call out Rep. Omar’s unveiled expressions of anti-Semitism for what they are. Democrats certainly aren’t doing so. Absent any check on her instincts, Omar and the 'squad' can be expected to renew their commitment to a special brand of ethnic and sectarian antagonism. For her part, Omar has transitioned from making anti-Semitic comments to crafting anti-Semitic policy. This week, she introduced a House resolution in support of the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions movement-- an amalgam of anti-Israel interests whose actions inevitably manifest in naked Jew-hatred-- equating Israel to Nazi Germany in the process." In other words, equating anti-Semitism with supporting the Palestinian struggle for self-determination and national identity. The brakes are off, and the temperature is rising. As the campaign season intensifies, so, too, will the emotions around the consequences of the next presidential cycle. The acts of political violence that we’ve witnessed over the last three years-- some of which are attributed to overheated political rhetoric by their perpetrators-- are unlikely to abate. As the legislative process grinds to a halt ahead of the upcoming election year, the crises that exacerbate these tensions, like the unanticipated explosion of migrants crossing the Southern border, will go unaddressed. Those crises will be demagogued; they always are. But there are no cooler heads left to prevail.

A responsible political culture can withstand the actions of a few reckless provocateurs, even if one of those provocateurs is the president. But ours is not a responsible political culture, and things are going to get worse before they get better.
Oh, well, at least I learned to never read anything by Noah Rothman again, nor to bother reading anything in Commentary. From now on, when I want to hear from delusional Republicans, I'll just stick to Andrew Sullivan, whose a lot smarter than Rothman and Podhoretz combined. His contribution to yesterday's dialogue: Trump Is Betting That Indecency Can Win in America. "In the deeply disturbing moments after Donald Trump invoked a three-minutes-of-hate session toward Congresswoman Ilhan Omar Wednesday night, and the crowd erupted with chants of 'Send Her Back! Send Her Back!', a protester yelled something inaudible, and caused a commotion. As security was called, the crowd chanted 'USA! USA!' and eventually the young man was handcuffed and led out of the stadium, to the mob’s vocal derision and pleasure. In those moments, you can see Trump pause to allow the mob to vent against the dissenter. Frenzied participants gleefully whipped out their phones to take photos of the man, who was holding up pictures of Jeffrey Epstein and Trump together and wearing a Native Trash T-shirt-- a defunct Charlotte band but also presumably," ventured Sullivan, a reference to all those who surrounded him."
This country has had volatile civil conflicts before. What’s different now is we have a president whose instinct in such turbulent times is actually to intensify the turbulence with rhetoric and mass rallies that foment greater and greater mutual hostility. Most presidents regard it as their responsibility to tamp down racial and cultural conflict. Trump, having no concept of any broader interest than his own, is incapable of it. His malignant narcissism prevents him from any other way of behaving, and each outrage becomes a new baseline for the next one.

So yes, we are in an abyss. And as Trump becomes increasingly emboldened by his survival, and one of the two major parties has become a cult, the bottom seems even more elusive than before. Think of what might happen if Trump loses the popular vote in 2020 by an even bigger margin but still ekes out an Electoral College victory. Think of how a close election could lead to Trump’s refusal to concede, and how the wheels could come off the entire system. What we know for certain is that, for the first time, we have a president who doesn’t care if that happens, who’d rather destroy the legitimacy of liberal democracy than compete legitimately within it.

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Revisiting Democratic Voting Records 6 Months Into The Term


There are only 5 freshmen with perfect voting records-- here are 3 of them

In March we decided to take a first look at how the new House members were getting started in the voting department. At the time, 24 freshmen still had 100% perfect scores-- and only 23 had "F" ratings. Today 11 freshmen are still graded "A" and just 5 have perfect scores and-- tragically-- there are now 42 with "F"s-- 42!

Thursday, just before they went home, the House voted on HR 582, Bobby Scott's Raise the Wage Act, which would-- if McConnell allowed it to be voted on it the Senate and Trump signed it-- gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. McConnell won't and Trump will never have to decide whether or not to-- but the House vote is valuable for our purposes. It was the last voted included in the scores and ratings we're about to look over. The Republicans tried killing the bill with a Motion to Recommit, which was barely defeated, 218-210 How did that happened! Easy! 14 Democrats voted with the Republican zombies to kill the bill. These were the 14, basically, all Blue Dogs and New Dems from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party:
Anthony Brindisi (Blue Dog-NY)
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)
Joe Cunningham (Blue Dog-SC)
Sharice Davids (New Dem-KS)
Josh Gottheimer (Blue Dog-NJ)
Alcee Hastings (Corrupt-FL)
Kendra Horn (Blue Dog-OK)
Ben McAdams (Blue Dog-UT)
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)
Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR)
Elisse Slotkin (New Dem-MI)
Abigail Spanberger (Blue Dog-VA)
Jefferson Van Drew (Blue Dog-NJ)
Susan Wild (New Dem-PA)
Add to that Xochitl Torres Small (Blue Dog-NM) who then voted against the bill itself and you have a good list of garbage Democrats. Except for Alcee Hastings, who is graded "B" by ProgressivePunch, everyone else who voted so badly on Thursday earned an "F" since January. None of them had "A" grades in March but most of them have gone down, down, down since then.

First off, the 24 freshmen with perfect scores have now, as I said above, been whittled down to just 5:
Andy Levin (D-MI) D+4
Joe Neguse (D-CO) D+9
AOC (D-NY) D+29
Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) D+33
Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) D+34
Michigan wins! Actually... Andy Levin wins, in one way. He may not be as famous as members of The Squad but he's the only freshman-- the only member of Congress in fact-- with a perfect score who represents as difficult a district electorally. The five above are arranged from least blue to most blue districts (according to PVI scores). There are also 11 non-freshmen members with perfect 100% scores so far this cycle, also listed here from less blue to most blue districts:
Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) D+9
Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) D+13
Grace Meng (D-NY) D+16
Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) D+18
Mark Pocan (D-WI) D+18
Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) D+21
Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) D+27
Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) D+33
Yvette Clarke (D-NY) D+34
Nanette Barragán (D-CA) D+35
Barbara Lee (D-CA) D+40
Technically one anti-progressive is on this list too, Nancy Pelosi. But as Speaker, she cherry-picks the votes she wants to take and skips any tough vote she wants to, making her score is completely meaningless. So what about the worst Democrats this cycle-- what you would call the Democraps, the Republican wing of the Democratic Party? Ladies and gentlemen... the garbage of the cycle, so far, starting with 3 freshmen tied for last place-- a total of the 15 worst Democrats in Congress, each voting less than half the time for progressive initiatives (with raw scores... and arranged from reddest to least red district):
Ben McAdams (Blue Dog-UT)- 30.0% R+13
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)- 35.0% R+12
Joe Cunningham (Blue Dog-SC)- 20.0% R+10
Kendra Horn (Blue Dog-OK)- 30% R+10
Xochitl Torres Small (Blue Dog-NM)- 37.5% R+6
Abigail Spanberger (Blue Dog-VA)- 37.5% R+6
Anthony Brindisi (Blue Dog-NY)- 20.0% R+6
Elaine Luria (New Dem-VA)- 35.0% R+3
Conor Lamb (D-PA)- 40.0% R+3
Josh Gottheimer (Blue Dog-NJ)- 25.0% R+3
Elissa Slotkin (New Dem-MI)- 42.5% R+4
Jared Golden (D-ME)- 32.5% R+2
Angie Craig (New Dem-MN)- 42.5 R+2
Jefferson Van Drew (Blue Dog-NJ)- 20.0% R+1
Cindy Axne (New Dem-IA)- 37.5% R+1
Goal ThermometerNo one "decides" on ratings. It's done by a ProgressivePunch algorithm which uses the votes of a panel of 33 proven progressives to come up with progressive scores by taking ANY VOTE in which a majority of those 33 members voted in opposition to a majority of the Republican caucus; that vote then qualifies for the database. Now that Democrats have taken back control of the House, ProgressivePunch classifies as Crucial any vote in which the progressive side was on the losing side, in addition to all close votes as defined above. "Crucial" votes are votes in which there was strong progressive cohesion and at the same time a significant defection on the part of more conservative Democrats to the Republicans. It's important to remember that raw scores aren't the be-all and end-all to judging a member. The scores do not take into account anything other than votes. It doesn't matter, for example, that Pramila Jayapal wrote and introduced the new Medicare For All Act or that some people co-sponsored it and others didn't. Nor are examples of leadership, courageousness, Twitter abilities or any other non-vote factors part of the scores. Let's take Katie Porter. Her crucial vote score is pretty awful but her spectacular work on the House Financial Services Committee means way more than that in the real world. On top of that, she's in a Republican-leaning district-- PVI is R+3-- and is a top 5 NRCC target for 2020 and still came out for impeachment while dozens of members in safe blue districts still haven't. So... don't over-emphasize the scores out of context. Meanwhile, though, people often ask me if I advocate wiping out the Blue Dogs. The answer is yes-- AND, see that thermometer above... that will take you to a list of vetted progressives-- not better of two evils candidates-- who are running against genuinely terrible conservative Democrats in primary races. Please consider contributing.

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White House Decision Making: Whoever Has Trump's Ear Last Calls The Shots


Fascism Comes To America by Nancy Ohanian

So, did Trump throw his neo-Nazi cheerleaders in North Carolina under the bus or not? Well... he definitely did-- and then he tried to take it back. He had Republicans all mixed up for the past 3 days. As Annie Karni explained to NY Times readers Friday, In Another About-Face, Trump Refuses To Condemn 'Send Her Back" Chant. Her take was that, once again, he was demonstrating "the limited influence of allies or advisers who try to steer him away from pre-election racial and cultural fights. He walked back his disavowal of a racially loaded chant at a campaign rally less than 24 hours after making it. Acquiescing to behind-the-scenes pressure from nervous Republican lawmakers and from his elder daughter, Ivanka Trump, the president distanced himself on Thursday from the chant of 'Send her back!' that the crowd at his rally on Wednesday in Greenville, N.C., directed at Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who was born in Somalia." Thursday Señor Trumpanzee backed down, telling the White House reporters-- insincerely, that he was 'not happy' with the chant and even added, obviously falsely-- since everyone could see what happened on the tape-- that "he had tried to cut it off."

Then on Friday, Señor T, influenced by another set of advisors disavowed his disavowal-- "following," wrote Karni, "the same three-stage crisis playbook he used after setting off a wave of criticism when he defended neo-Nazi protesters in 2017 Charlottesville, Virginia." Instead he played to his base and said "No, you know what I’m unhappy with-- the fact that a congresswoman can hate our country..." and off he went on his dishonest charges about Ilhan and AOC and said the neo-Nazis in North Carolina were "incredible patriots."

On his way to play golf yesteriday-- and strictly sticking with false and canned coordinated GOP election cycle talking points-- Trump said, "You know what’s racist to me, when someone goes out and says the horrible things about our country. The people of our country that are anti-Semitic, that hate everybody, that speak with scorn and hate-- that to me is really a dangerous thing."

Although the rabbis that make up the Montana Association of Rabbis were referring to Trump enabler Steve Daines, their open letter could have easily been addressed directly to Trump: "We stand firmly together to send a clear message that ignorance, hatred and threats of violence are unacceptable and have no place…in Montana or across this nation. Collectively, as Montana’s rabbis, we are the experts on antisemitism in Montana; we have studied it, lived it, and know it when we see it. We refuse to allow the real threat of antisemitism to be weaponized and exploited by those who themselves share a large part of the responsibility for the rise of white nationalist and antisemitic violence in this country. Accusing these representatives of antisemitism is no justification for telling them 'to go back to where they came from' or inciting violence against them. In a direct affront to Montana’s Jewish communities and Jewish leaders, Senator Daines has decided to join in the president’s rhetoric of hate, a rhetoric which presents a serious threat to Jewish communities. We do not feel safer or supported by Senator Daines’ comments, rather we fear the legitimization the president and the senator are giving to racism, xenophobia, misogyny and hatred."

As Karni noted, "The reversal followed the same pattern as the one after Charlottesville. After Mr. Trump’s original response to the violence that took place there in August 2017, a low point of his presidency, aides urged him to take the high ground. Days later, he finally relented, reading a brief prepared statement from the Diplomatic Room in the White House in which he, for the first time, unequivocally condemned neo-Nazi groups and stated that 'racism is evil.' But the next day, he reverted to his original stance in a combative exchange with reporters in which he again blamed both sides for the violence that left one demonstrator dead and dozens injured. But while business leaders and Republican lawmakers briefly distanced themselves from the president at the time, Mr. Trump appears to have suffered little long-term political damage because of the episode-- and that lesson appears to have made an impression."
“It just destroys him to seem to be abandoning his base on any issue,” said Douglas Brinkley, the presidential historian. “When he originally said he distanced himself from the chant at the rally, one could have guessed he would go back and embrace the people who cheered ‘Send her back!’ Contrite is not in his playbook.”

But even some critics of Mr. Trump said that the walkback of the walkback was not necessarily damaging to him. “I wish I could say it was foolish, but what have the actual consequences been in the real world or in Republican support of him sticking to his guns?” said William Kristol, the conservative columnist and prominent Trump opponent. “Being the tough, unapologetic guy, it keeps his brand stronger even if he takes a little bit of a hit.”

...Administration officials and campaign aides have rejected comparisons between Mr. Trump’s goading of elected women of color to “go back” to where they came from and what happened in Charlottesville. One was a deadly incident, they said, the other was a political fight.

But campaign aides have acknowledged that Mr. Trump’s tweets on Sunday-- in which he used an age-old racist adage in telling the congresswomen to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came”-- were unexpected, used loaded and unhelpful language, and any political strategy attached to them was reverse-engineered after the fact.

The president claimed his attacks were not politically motivated. “I don’t know if it’s good or bad politically; I don’t care,” he said. “I can tell you this, you can’t talk that way about our country. Not when I’m the president.”

While Republican lawmakers expressed outrage over what his supporters chanted in North Carolina, they kept their criticism of Mr. Trump to themselves.
Isn't that always the problem with the Republicans? The courageousness levels are too small to even be measured. This morning Long Island congressman Tom Suozzi told me that this isn't really about Trump anymore. "The American people," he told me, "either know who he is and what he’s about or they don’t. It is now about us. It is now about America. It is now about Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Progressives and Conservatives. All of us. Will we as a nation reject hatred, reject division and reject this type of politics? November 2020 will either be a reaffirmation of our faith in America and its people, or it will be the beginning of one of the darkest times in our short history. I, for one, still believe in America. I will not mourn. I will organize. We will need everyone from Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez to Vice President Biden and everyone in between. We must unite against hate and we must win. The world is depending on us."

Andy Levin (D-MI) is one of only 5 freshmen with a ProgressivePunch perfect (100%) voting record. Suozzi is a big admirer of how brilliant he is and he introduced us recently after the two of them had gotten back from a fact-finding tour of Trump's concentration camps on the southern border. Today, Levin told me that "It’s surreal to serve as a freshman legislator and interact with Republican colleagues every day. I’m trying to work with them on everything from human rights in Burma and Xinjiang and Haiti to reducing the cost of prescription drugs. But when they won’t even acknowledge that blatant racism and xenophobia are being blasted from the loudest megaphone in the land right in front of our faces, or call it out, it obviously reduces the prospects for meaningful collaboration. Worse, it raises the specter of one of our major parties veering towards the kind of demagogic, strongman rule that is antithetical to democracy itself."


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Will Anyone Care-- Or Even Notice-- That Delaney Is Dropping Out Of The Race?


After crackpot neo-liberal Congressman John Delaney (New Dem-MD) sold his seat to multimillionaire New Dem David Trone, he declared he was running for president, packed his bags and "moved" to Iowa. He also gave his campaign a personal loan of between $11 and $16 million, which quickly started spending. In a YouGov poll released this week, his favorability among Democrats was at 17%-- but 60% of the respondents didn't know who he is. More people know who non-politicians Andrew Yang, Howard Schultz and Marianne Williamson are. And none of them spent anywhere near what Delaney has spent. The Real Clear Politics national polling average shows him sitting at 0.6%, beating Frackenlooper but no one else competing for the conservative lane for when Biden self-destructs. Kamala is at 12.6%, McKinsey Pete at 4.8%, Beto at 2.8%, Klobuchar at 1.0% and Steve Bullock and Michael Bennet each at 0.8%.

In Iowa, where Delaney has spent most of his money, he's at 1.3%, still far from the top contenders for the conservative lane-- with Pete at 10.3%, Kamala at 9.3%, Klobuchar at 2.7% and Beto at 2.3%, Delaney isn't a factor in New Hampshire, Nevada or South Carolina or in any of the Super Tuesday polls. So who could have been surprised by Axios' scoop Friday morning that Delaney staffers are telling him to drop out? Normally staffers urge wealthy pigeons like Biden to stay in so they continue getting their weekly paychecks.

Alexi McCammond wrote that "On July 9, John Delaney's senior team sat him down and told him to drop out of the presidential race by mid-August.... He's been running for president for 721 days. He's spent nearly $19 million as a 2020 candidate since 2017. He's loaned over $11 million of his own money to his campaign this year. He's visited all of Iowa's 99 counties already, including at least 14 stops in Carroll Country alone. And it's all been for nothing." Delaney says he'll make up his mind after the debates at the end of the month.

The staffers all hate his interfering wife and say the sooner they never see her or hear from her again the better. Like many failed candidates, the spouse calls the shots. But what his staffers told him is that "he flopped at the first debate in Miami. There was no real breakout moment-- nor even an unreal one-- which is what everyone in leadership had been hoping for. One of McCammond's sources said, uncharitably that "'Every other day he would have a different position,' whether on economic policies or racial issues. That's a common refrain that came up in my conversations with these sources close to the campaign, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution. Some said he's not spending enough money to run a competitive race, and that all the money he's spent so far hasn't moved the needle for them. One source close to the campaign argued he'd be better positioned to run for governor or get a Cabinet position if he drops out before September. And others, who made sure to tell me they 'genuinely' like the guy, painted Delaney to be the most Republican-Democrat who's just 'not made for the moment.'"

Delaney, a New Dem, never made much of an impression in Congress-- just another back bencher kissing up to Wall Street and corporate special interests. In 2015 one of his colleagues told me that "He is my poster child for what's wrong with the Democratic Party. Recruiting clueless, rich people who have no real values is almost always a failure." He'd always be writing virulently anti-progressive OpEds for the Washington post and whining to anyone who would listen that "both sides are equally wrong." Never a fan of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt values you could always count of Delaney to say something like "[W]e need a philosophical shift in the Democratic Party, a new willingness to support programs that create pathways for nongovernmental and philanthropic innovation and investment to help solve the problems of society. We should embrace approaches, such as social impact bonds, that combine private-sector capital and expertise with public-interest goals to produce better government services. Such changes will require Democrats to leave our ideological comfort zone and move away from the idea that government, and government alone, is the answer to our problems But instead of being used to voice an agenda that can bring the country together, the party microphone has been hijacked by people more interested in scoring points than in solving problems. They propose expanding Social Security rather than prioritizing serious efforts to preserve the program-- even though it will be unable to provide full benefits as soon as 2032, the Congressional Budget Office has made clear. The only way a large-scale expansion could work is by allocating new revenue away from needed investments in the next generation or by shifting the financial burden to workers or our children."

You could always depend on hearing Republican Party talking points from Delaney, attacking things like Social Security and, in more recent times the Green New Deal and Medicare for All. He was a big advocate for raising the retirement age and for Chained CPI-- each part of the anti-working class Republican Party agenda. "[W]e should do the hard work required to reach a long-term grand bargain," he wrote for the Washington Post in 2013. "This means three things: (1) reforming entitlements by adopting a form of 'chained CPI' to lower the long-term costs of these programs, adjusting the retirement age for those not engaged in manual labor and raising the cap on Social Security taxes; (2) generating more revenue through a 'Buffett rule' approach that makes sure high-earners pay a similar rate to that of the middle class and by closing certain corporate tax loopholes while lowering corporate tax rates; and (3) adjusting discretionary and defense spending to better reflect our country’s priorities, which are vastly different from the indiscriminate cuts imposed by the sequester. With this framework, we can manage our fiscal trajectory in the next 10 years, and beyond, while also investing in our children, caring for the less fortunate and protecting our nation."

One of the bills he wrote (HR 2084)-- thankfully it failed, like all of his bills-- was designed to reward big corporations that avoid taxes through overseas accounting tricks, encourage more future offshore tax dodging, while failing to create jobs in America and increasing the deficit was another tax holiday for the wealthy like Delaney himself that is nothing more than a blatant attempt to escape their tax obligations and shift the burden onto taxpaying Americans, small businesses and domestic firms. His co-sponsors were a dozen conservative Republicans like Ted Yoho (FL), Luke Messer (IN), Steve Stivers (OH) and Andy Barr (KY) and a pack of Blue Dogs and New Dem DINOs like Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), Ami Bera (CA), Ron Kind (WI) and Scott Peters (CA).

Delaney was always a bad fit for the Democratic Party. One of his former colleagues in the House told me "no one liked him and no one trusted him... everyone was glad when he announced he was retiring. Now he feels the only way forward for him is to tear down Biden," who dominates the conservative lane Delaney had hoped he would have to himself. Delaney goes on Fox to criticize Bernie and Kamala and Elizabeth Warren and to rage against progressive policies. Recently he praised Biden as "very well known and he’s very well liked, and I admire him greatly." BUT... "I think my ideas are better. I think I’m a new face, which I think is what the party really wants. I think we want new ideas and new people... I think in many ways it’s a reminder that we need a moderate candidate who can win the center to beat Donald Trump... The only way we’re going to beat [Trump] is with a candidate the center believes will not derail the progress we’ve made economically. For example, if you put socialism on the ballot, we’re not going to win. If the economy’s doing well and we’re running on socialism, I think that’s a disaster for us."

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White Supremists Don't Fight Against Anti-Semitism-- White Supremicism IS Anti-Semitism


German Nazis in black and white; North Carolina Nazis in color

Watching Trump's ugly fascist supporters howling for Ilhan's blood in North Carolina this week, sent a shiver up my spine. By birth I'm a Jew. What would it take to turn that mob against me and American Jews? Ten words from Trump? Five? I was watching authoritarian and fascistic-oriented Americans in that audience. And to hear a neo-Nazi like Trump using some bullshit against AOC, Ilhan, Ayanna and Rashida as "anti-Semitic" was flat-out galling, sickening. I've been involved with an organization called Young Elected Officials (YEO) for many years, and long before either ran for Congress, I've seen the spectacular work Ilhan and Rashida have done as state legislators on behalf of their constituents and their communities in Minneapolis and Detroit. They were both elected to open seats last year because of how their constituents-- not Trump (detested in both cities)-- viewed their records and because of the quality of the their ideas and of their characters. Neither is remotely anti-Semitic, unless you define refusing to pledge allegiance to Benjamin Netanyahu as the definition of anti-Semitism... which would make a majority of American Jews anti-semites.

Yesterday, in her NY Times column, Michelle Goldberg, seems to have noted the same stunning hypocrisy and the "increasingly bizarre turn that American discussion of anti-Semitism has taken," not just among North Carolina rednecks but throughout the regime of a cunning and indisputably racist president.

She began by talking about Trump's actual in-house Nazi, Hungarian fascist Sebastian Gorka routinely accusing Jewish intellectuals and activists of anti-Semitism and Jew-hating. "If this were just Gorka," she wrote, "you could dismiss it as trolling. But his tweets were only a particularly brazen example of how right-wing gentiles are wrapping themselves in a smarmy philo-Semitism to attack the left, even when that means attacking either individual Jews or the political interests of most Jewish Americans.

Republicans routinely defend Trump's racist taunts as having something to do with "protecting Jews." I'd feel a lot better if he were protecting Jews from Confederate racists than from The Squad. But, as Goldberg wrote, "This is a president who regularly deploys anti-Semitic tropes and whose ex-wife said that he slept with a volume of Hitler’s speeches by his bed. When speaking to American Jews, he’s called Israel 'your country' and Benjamin Netanyahu 'your prime minister,' suggesting that in his mind, we don’t fully belong here any more than Omar does."

Is far right Montana Senator Steve Daines a Nazi?

I don't know if Montana Senator Steve Daines is a neo-Nazi or not but he seems to be behaving like one, tweeting his solidarity with Trump by proclaiming that "Montanans are sick and tired of listening to anti-American, anti-Semite, radical Democrats trash our country and our ideals." That sounds like a Nazi to my Jewish ears. And it did to the Montana Association of Rabbis as well, who sent Daines an open letter stating that the rabbis in Billings,  Bozeman,  Missoula, and Whitefish are "unanimously appalled by the ongoing torrent of racist incitement and personal attacks that President Trump continues to direct against Democratic women of color in Congress" and by Daines' complicity. "Montana," they wrote, "deserves and expects more from its representatives. It is not the Montana way to personally attack others for their political viewpoints or positions. It is not the Montana way to promote bigotry or hatred, as the senator himself stated with his fellow representatives on December 27, 2016:  “We stand firmly together to send a clear message that ignorance, hatred and threats of violence are unacceptable and have no place…in Montana or across this nation. Collectively, as Montana’s rabbis, we are the experts on antisemitism in Montana; we have studied it, lived it, and know it when we see it. We refuse to allow the real threat of antisemitism to be weaponized and exploited by those who themselves share a large part of the responsibility for the rise of white nationalist and antisemitic violence in this country. Accusing these representatives of antisemitism is no justification for telling them 'to go back to where they came from' or inciting violence against them. In a direct affront to Montana’s Jewish communities and Jewish leaders, Senator Daines has decided to join in the president’s rhetoric of hate, a rhetoric which presents a serious threat to Jewish communities. We do not feel safer or supported by Senator Daines’ comments, rather we fear the legitimization the president and the senator are giving to racism, xenophobia, misogyny and hatred."
Such Christian appropriation of the fight against anti-Semitism reached its grim nadir this week. As Trump’s racist invective against Omar and three other freshman Democratic congresswomen has dominated the news, the president’s defenders have used Jews as human shields, pretending that hatred of the quartet is rooted in abhorrence of anti-Semitism. On Tuesday, an evangelical outfit called Proclaiming Justice to the Nations accused the Anti-Defamation League-- the Anti-Defamation League!-- of siding with anti-Semites after the ADL called out Trump’s racism. The group even had the audacity to hurl a Hebrew denunciation-- “lashon hara,” or “evil tongue”-- at the Jewish civil rights organization.

Republicans are only a short step away from such shamelessness when they try to deflect from the president’s racism by accusing his foes of anti-Semitism. “Montanans are sick and tired of listening to anti-American, anti-Semite, radical Democrats trash our country and our ideals,” Senator Steve Daines of Montana tweeted on Monday, proclaiming his solidarity with Trump.

When the right presents Trump as an enemy of anti-Semitism, it goes beyond hypocrisy. Jews have thrived here as they have in few other places in the world because America at least aspires to be a multiethnic democracy, not an ethnostate. If Trump succeeds in making citizenship racialized and contingent, that’s an existential threat to American Jews.

Trump and his accomplices are simultaneously assaulting the political foundation of Jewish life in America and claiming they’re doing it on the Jews’ behalf. As the Montana Association of Rabbis wrote in an open letter to Daines on Wednesday, “We refuse to allow the real threat of anti-Semitism to be weaponized and exploited by those who themselves share a large part of the responsibility for the rise of white nationalist and anti-Semitic violence in this country.”

...It’s worth thinking about how we got to a point where anti-Semitism can be exploited as it has been this week. What we’re seeing is the absurd but logical endpoint of efforts to conflate anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism, and anti-Zionism with opposition to Israel’s right-wing government. Only if these concepts are interchangeable can Jewish critics of Israel be the perpetrators of anti-Semitism and gentiles who play footsie with fascism be allies of the Jewish people. Only if these concepts are the same can an evangelical group claim that Jews are being anti-Jewish when they protest Trump, because Trump loves Israel.

Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of the liberal Zionist group J Street, puts part of the blame for this rhetorical derangement at the feet of the American Jewish establishment. Its leaders made an alliance of convenience with right-wing Christian Zionists, who support the state of Israel as the fulfillment of biblical prophecy and a bulwark of Western values in the Middle East, but care little about pluralism in the United States.

The Jewish leaders, said Ben-Ami, “made a deal with the devil. And what they’ve done is they’ve laid down in bed with white nationalists and racists and bigots.” Now white nationalists and racists and bigots-- and those politically aligned with them-- feel entitled to use their backing of Israel as an alibi when their leader indulges in racist incitement.

“When they start asking people to go back where they came from, that’s the first line of attack on the Jewish people over centuries,” said Ben-Ami. It’s terrifying enough to have a president who says such things. It’s an almost incalculable insult for Trump and his enablers to act as if he’s helping the Jews when he adopts the language of the pogrom.

ABC News interviewed Rabbi Avi Olitzky of Beth El Synagogue in the middle of Ilhan's Minneapolis district. He had the same feelings any sentient Jew hearing those chants of the North Carolina Trumpists. In an OpEd he wrote for the Times of Israel he warned that "We cannot fall victim to the political tricks that rely on racism, and the meme of antisemitism, to bolster both sides, while still doing immense communal harm... even if [Ilhan] disagrees with the policies of the current Israeli government, I cannot stay silent today. I stand fully beside her-- and her colleagues-- and support her in the face of the recent racist tweets of the president. This is not how we engage in civil dialogue. This is not how we do business and politics in this country. We are and have been better than this. We need to be better than this," And he told ABC's Briefing Room that "this is a very eerie wave of similar situations in history, be that Nazi Germany or elsewhere," noting that the Trumpists seem to have some kind of permission to be "publicly hateful and publicly loud.

"And from the pastors of my favorite evangelical group, Vote Common Good... a t-shirt all Americans should be proud to wear:

Another NY Times Republican columnist yesterday, David Brooks, seemed as disturbed as Goldberg about Trump's fascist rantings. "The real American idea," he wrote in a column titled Donald Trump Hates America, "is not xenophobic, nostalgic or racist; it is pluralistic, future-oriented and universal. America is exceptional precisely because it is the only nation on earth that defines itself by its future, not its past. America is exceptional because from the first its citizens saw themselves in a project that would have implications for all humankind. America is exceptional because it was launched with a dream to take the diverse many and make them one-- e pluribus unum. Trump’s campaign is an attack on that dream. The right response is to double down on that ideal. The task before us is to create the most diverse mass democracy in the history of the planet-- a true universal nation. It is precisely to weave the social fissures that Trump is inclined to tear."

Tony Schwartz wrote The Art of The Deal. No one understands Trump and Trumpism better than he does.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

If you've been watching the news this past week, you might have had the same reaction as I did, ie. didn't everyone with a functioning brain already realize that Trump is a flat out racist? I mean, hell, that's a big part of the appeal to those who voted for him. The Trump historical record from his real estate discrimination court cases to his very notorious and very public stance in the Central Park Five case to taking the lead in the Birther Movement to key phrases in his announcement of his candidacy to his KKK rally cries to his "very fine people" moments; the fact that Trump is a racist has been right out in the open and plain as day. It's how he raises campaign money. It's his calling card and always has been. And, his party and anyone who voted for him had absolutely no problem with that fact.

Maybe it was the misogyny combined with racism that Trump just could not resist when he attacked "The Squad" aka Representatives Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and used the centuries old "Go back to where you came from" theme. Then again, maybe he was just trying to one-up Speaker Pelosi. And, boy, did he. He wants to leave no doubt about being the Mighty Emperor of Racists. He has a reputation to uphold, and, although Pelosi's attack on The Squad was just stupidity and arrogance rather than overt racism, Trump would never stand for someone toping him in the area of unjustly attacking a group of women no matter how small especially four sharp women of color who have dedicated their lives to helping others. Such a perfect storm combo of the fears of Trump and his party really gets to Trump. He's all about hurting people and spreading the human misery. If he sees someone getting in the way of that, especially a political rival, he's sure to explode and he did!

Certainly, the New Yorker knew what Trump is and always will be. They knew before August 2017, almost 2 full years ago when they published the issue I have used as tonight's meme. It's a hot wind that's blowing and we're running out of time to execute an answer to it.

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Friday, July 19, 2019

In General, Americans Are Not Fond Of The Political Class-- Especially Not Mitch McConnell


Bevin (R-KY) is the least liked governor and McConnell (R-KY) is the least liked senator

The Economist ran a YouGov poll this week and, among other things, asked for favorables and unfavorables of the Democratic 2020 candidates: Here's the favorable ratings (+ in parentheses what percentage of people don't know who they are) for each candidate:
Biden- 42% (16%)
Bernie- 41% (16%)
Elizabeth Warren- 39% (23%)
Kamala Harris- 36% (28%)
Cory Booker- 33% (33%)
McKinsey Pete- 32% (38%)
Beto- 30% (33%)
Julian Castro- 28% (41%)
Amy Klobuchar- 27% (43%)
Kirsten Gillibrand- 26% (40%)
Andrew Yang- 23% (50%)
Tulsi- 20% (51%)
Bill de Blasio- 19% (42%)
Jay Inslee- 19% (59%)
Tim Ryan- 19% (56%)
Frackenlooper- 19% (55%)
Michael Bennet- 18% (63%)
Tom Steyer- 17% (57%)
Delaney- 17% (60%)
Marianne Williamson- 15% (56%)
Howard Schultz- 14% (57%)
Steve Bullock- 14% (67%)
Mike Gravel- 13% (68%)
Seth Moulton- 13% (67%)
Joe Sestak- 12% (68%)
Wayne Messam- 10% (72%)
But who are these people being interviewed for these polls? Have you ever thought about that? The Economist just describes them as U.S. adult citizens-- Democrats, Republicans, Independents... They aren't likely voters although 70% says they are registered to vote. 62% live in their own home or one owned by their family and 36% live in a rental. 28% describe themselves as liberals, 27% as moderates and 32% as conservatives. 38% never got more education than high school, 32% got some college, 19% are college grads and 11% did some post graduate work. 65% said religion is important in their lives and 35% said it isn't.

But is there more we can know about them? I think so. The 32nd question tells you an awful about who takes these kinds of polls-- and perhaps they are just like our fellow citizens. Draw your own conclusions:

And now a look at how high DISAPPROVAL is for the country's leaders. The numbers in parentheses are, basically, "who the hell is that?":
Señor Trumpanzee- 51% (5%)
Mitch McConnell- 49% (27%)
Nancy Pelosi- 48% (15%)
Mike Pence- 44% (16%)
Chuck Schumer- 44% (27%)
Kevin McCarthy- 32% (47%)
Democrats in Congress- 39%
Republicans in Congress- 32%
And one more-- the annual "which senators suck the worst" poll. Respondents are only asked about their own state's senators. And every year, the most hated senator in America-- by his own constituents-- is Mitch McConnell (R-KY). And this year is no different. 36% like him and a whopping 50% hope he gets hit by a truck in the next 5 seconds and is never heard from again. There aren't many senators who are underwater the way McConnell is (more of their constituents hating them than liking them. Here's the list:
McConnell (R-KY)- minus 14%
Bob Menendez (D-NJ)- minus 8%
Susan Collins (R-ME)- minus 3%
Thom Tillis (R-NC)- minus 2%
Roy Blunt (R-MO)- minus 2%
Meanwhile, there are only 17 senators with an over 50% favorability:
Bernie (I-VT)- +62%
Angus King (I-ME)- +62%
Pat Leahy (D-VT)- +61%
John Barrasso (R-WY)- +57%
John Hoeven (R-ND)- +57%
Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)- +56%
Mike Enzi (R-WY)- +54%
Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)- +54%
John Thune (R-SD)- +54%
Ed Markey (D-MA)- +53%
Mitt Romney (R-UT)- +53%
Mike Rounds (R-SD)- +53%
Chris Coons (D-DE)- +52%
Maggie Hassan (D-NH)- +52
Brian Schatz (D-HI)- +52%
Jack Reed (D-RI)- +51%
I'd say this is the most important take-away from the study, because Collins is going to have a really tough reelection battle next year, perhaps one she probably can't win. Democrats and Independents have both turned against her far more than in previous cycles:

Last week PPP conducted a private (unreleased) poll to see how Colorado Democrats-- who have two native sons in the race-- are feeling about the presidential primary. It didn't go well for the native sons:
Status Quo Joe- 22%
Bernie- 19%
Elizabeth Warren- 15%
Frackenlooper- 7%
Michael Bennet- 5%
And one unrelated chart that I've been saving on my desktop all week. This one shows which presidential candidates-- from both parties-- got the most individual donors from Iowans so far. Bernie isn't only crushing Status Quo Joe; he's crushing Trump as well:

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A First For Tipped Workers Was Part Of What Passed The House Yesterday


by Eva Putzova
Candidate for Congress (AZ-01)

Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the historic Raise the Wage Act (H.R.582). It is the first time in the history of this country that either chamber of Congress has passed legislation that guarantees tipped workers the same minimum wage as everybody else in the country.

In my day job, I work for Restaurant Opportunities Centers United-- a grassroots organization that fights to improve wages and working conditions for the nearly 14 million restaurant workers. I have heard so many stories from our members describing their struggle to make ends meet, their dependency on tips forcing them to tolerate sexual harassment, and their wages and tips being stolen. And indeed, the restaurant industry is the single largest source of sexual harassment and has a wage and hour non-compliance rate of 84 percent.

With the vote in Congress, people working in tipped professions as servers, busers, nail salon workers-- most of them women and many people of color and immigrants are for the first time recognized (at least by one legislative chamber) as workers worth the full minimum wage with tips on top.

Goal ThermometerAcross the nation, 29 states and 42 cities have already raised the minimum wage locally. In Flagstaff, Arizona, I led a successful local citizen initiative raising our minimum wage to $15 by 2021 and the exploitative subminimum tipped wage to the full minimum wage by 2026.

While there’s enormous support for raising the federal minimum wage to $15, my opponent-- a blue Dog Democrat (former Republican state legislator Tom O'Halleran)-- contemplated a lower regional minimum wage for people in the southern states. In the end, he weakened this historic legislation through an amendment, allowing Congress to delay or otherwise modify scheduled increases based on their interpretation of findings of a study the same amendment requires. How many times in the past did the Blue Dog Coalition proposed amendments to study the economic impact of other policies on workers’ income and standard of living? Never.

Raising the minimum wage doesn’t hurt jobs. We’ve raised the minimum wage in cities and states across the country and study after study shows no long-term negative impact on employment. The most reputable economists agree that a $15 minimum wage would boost the economy and raise individual income for millions of people. Since increasing the minimum wage in Flagstaff, the most vocal opposition-- the restaurant industry-- saw an increase of 15 percent in total sales. Not only there was no decrease in the economic activity, the industry grew while people in the lowest paid professions got a small boost in their pay.

But this is more than just an economic justice issue. Nearly 40 percent of women of color would see a raise with the federal minimum wage going up. When you look at the map of the tipped wage rates by state, you’ll see that the states that pay their tipped workers $2.13 are mostly southern states with a disproportionally larger population of people of color. And indeed, the subminimum tipped wage has its roots in slavery. At Emancipation, the railroad industry and restaurant lobby demanded the right to hire newly freed slaves and not pay them anything, having them depend entirely on customer tips. The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 codified this racist practice into law, carrying this legacy of exploitation into the modern era.

A quick history of the Federal tipped wage:
1938: $0
1966: At $0.63, for the first time more than $0 and pegged to 50% of the regular minimum wage.
1991: $2.13
1996: The "other" NRA chaired by Herman Cain successfully separated the tipped wage from the minimum wage-- no longer pegged to the minimum wage.
2019: $2.13
The vote in the U.S. House is truly historic and it deserves recognition. More than 200 members of Congress co-sponsored the Raise the Wage Act. We need the Senate to follow in their footsteps and do what’s been long overdue.

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