Thursday, June 21, 2018

Today Congressional Republicans Proved Once Again That They Can't Govern-- Just Complain


I don't think anyone really thought Goodlatte's extreme hard-core anti-immigrant bill (HR 4760) had a chance of passing this afternoon. And it didn't. With every single Democrat and 41 Republicans voting NO, it went down 231-193. It was interesting that most of the Republicanos with tough reelection battles looming voted against it. They know which way the wind is blowing. This were some of the frightened Republicans who voted NO:
Mike Coffman (CO-06)
Barbara Comstock (VA-10)
Carlos Curbelo (FL-26)
Jeff Denham (CA-10)
Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25)
Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01)
Will Hurd (TX-23)
John Katko (NY-24)
Peter King (NY-02)
Steve Knight (CA-25)
MacArthur (NJ-03)
Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05)
Erik Paulsen (MN-03)
Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48)
Pete Roskam (IL-06)
Steve Russell (OK-05)
Elise Stefanik (NY-21)
Fred Upton (MI-06)
David Valadao (CA-21)
As Duwayne Gregory-- the progressive Democrat running for the South Shore Long Island seat Peter King occupies-- just told me, "Republican members of Congress can only grow a spine when they feel their re-election will be directly impacted. Peter King has not shown the leadership that his district and quite frankly the country deserves from a longstanding member of the Republican majority in Congress. Our country doesn’t need members in Congress who do the right thing only when they feel they elections are threatened. We need leaders who will stand up with courage and conviction to do what is best for our country regardless of the consequences."

The "compromise" bill (it shields DREAMers from deportation), which is slightly less extreme has been postponed until tomorrow-- at the soonest. It is expected to fail as well.
House conservatives have been asking GOP leaders for more time to review the legislation. And House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) has been advocating for additional time to whip the bill all week.

Speaker Paul Ryan called a meeting early Thursday afternoon with other Republican leaders to discuss the situation.

“I think it is a mistake that leadership is rushing this [compromise] bill to the floor today,” Rep. Raul Labrador, one of the top negotiators of the text, said before the leadership meeting was announced.

"I actually think with a little bit more conversation, we could actually get to an agreement on things,” the Idaho Republican said. “Somebody suggested this today: we don’t have the White House picnic. Let’s spend those two hours in a room as Republicans talking about how we can actually get to 218.”

...The expected failure of both measures is also a setback for Trump, who pitched himself to voters as the world’s greatest dealmaker. Not only does the exercise make the president look weak, the collapse of the bill will undercut his message of blaming Democrats for problems at the border. Republicans can’t get on the same page themselves... Trump fired off a flurry of immigration tweets Thursday morning but, notably, none were a direct push for House Republicans to back the compromise bill. Instead, the president attacked the U.S. asylum system and accused Democrats of preventing action on immigration.

“What is the purpose of the House doing good immigration bills when you need 9 votes by Democrats in the Senate, and the Dems are only looking to Obstruct (which they feel is good for them in the Mid-Terms),” Trump tweeted. “Republicans must get rid of the stupid Filibuster Rule-it is killing you!”

Time and again in his dealings with Congress, and especially with Republicans, Trump has shown that he doesn’t know how to close deals on legislation. At crucial times, he hasn’t been able to move votes, due in part to his failure or unwillingness to grasp the intricacies of legislation and policy.

Trump can attack Republicans in Congress, he can confuse them, and he can scare them, but he often can’t make them vote how he wants.

“We’re still working through a lot of questions that members have,” Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) said Wednesday night after leaving a whip meeting. “I think the president had a really good meeting at the White House with a number of members as well and he was really strong in his support and why he wants this bill on his desk.”

Scalise acknowledged, however, that GOP leaders still don’t have 218 votes.

The votes on a pair of immigration bill come a day after tensions between leaders, conservatives and moderates boiled over on the House floor. House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows accused Ryan of lying to him about which conservative bill he’d allow to come to a vote. The North Carolina lawmaker, who rarely raises his voice, also fumed that two provisions he’d won in the compromise bill were left out, breaking their agreement.

GOP leaders huddled Wednesday night after the clash. Ryan called Meadows and told him they would give him the provisions he wanted, leaving both sides chalking up the run-in as a misunderstanding.

Some people close to the negotiations and aligned with leadership complain that conservatives were shifting their demands as the vote approached. Immigration hard-liners counter that leaders have been unwilling to do enough to secure the border. And even though a compromise was reached on what the House would take up, ill will lingers.

Conservatives are disappointed by Trump’s inability to sell the compromise bill and are therefore wary of voting “yes.” The package includes a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and some other types of immigrants, devised by immigration hawk Rep. Raúl Labrador of Idaho.

But conservatives don’t like the final product. It would significantly curb family migration, end the diversity visa lottery program and appropriate $25 billion for a border wall. Critics on the right wanted additional provisions, such as E-Verify, which mandates that all businesses check the legal status of their workers.

Trump met with a handful of lawmakers at the White House on Wednesday and appears to have moved some of them, according to one Republican source. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen were on the Hill separately Wednesday to try to drum up support.

But GOP leaders say the only way the compromise legislation would pass is if Trump himself tells conservatives explicitly: Vote for the compromise bill.

Trump hasn’t done that. Neither, it appears, did his Cabinet officials, who echoed Trump’s careful talking points: the president would sign either a conservative bill or a moderate bill, they said.
The "compromise" bill provides DREAMers with a pathway to citizenship and gives Trump the $25 billion for the wall, most of which he plans to steal and enrich his friends. It also prevents families from being separated at the border-- incarceration instead of separation?

This Tuesday, progressive Democrat Tom Guild has his primary against some establishment candidates Today he told us that his Republican opponent "Steve Russell has made a living by logging a radical voting record and his bloviating and extreme rhetoric. When all of his Oklahoma Republican House Colleagues voted for the extreme immigration measure, Russell vote no. He was for the bill before he was against it. He must feel the heat on the immigration issue our campaign has focused on him and his radical views. Since Russell wakes up in a new world every day, we’re waiting with baited breath to see what his next naked political chess move will be."

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Racial Anxiety-- Not Economic Anxiety-- Drove 80% Of White Evangelicals To Support Trump


Can you imagine Blue America working with an evangelical group? Stretch your mind. We found one-- or rather, they found us. A few weeks ago Ted Lieu and I had dinner with some evangelical pastors and some of their supporters to discuss their plans for the 2018 election. They feel that evangelicals have been key to Trump's support and they would like to help progressive Democrats and progressive evangelicals connect before the midterms. The organization is Vote Common Good, and the Executive Director is Doug Pagitt, Minneapolis' leading progressive pastor. Today he told us that "We firmly believe that true Christians realize that Trumpism is completely antithetical to anything that Jesus actually stood for. Quoting scripture to justify inhumane policies is not Christianity. We also know that we have the infrastructure and capability to reach this incredibly large portion of the population that the Republican Party has chosen to take for granted and the Democratic Party has decided to ignore. We seek to transcend identity and partisan politics and direct our members to vote for the Common Good."

The Washington Post ran a disturbing piece by Janelle Wong Sunday, Racial Fear Is Key to Trump’s Support Among Evangelicals. (It's not economic anxiety.) The media has been getting it all wrong, obsessing over white evangelicals’ unmovable support for Donald Trump. But Wong's new book, Immigrants, Evangelicals and Politics in an Era of Demographic Change, shows white evangelicals are more conservative than other whites on policy issues including welfare, climate change and immigration. Their conservative reaction to demographic change is at the heart of their political agenda and perhaps a response to increasing racial diversity within their own religious community.

[A]ccording to Election Day exit polls, 80 percent of white evangelicals supported Donald Trump. Among all other-- nonevangelical-- whites, 59 percent voted for Hillary Clinton.

That is true in part because white evangelicals are more conservative on a range of issues. According to our survey, for example, 27 percent of white evangelicals don’t believe the federal government should pass laws to combat climate change-- while 20 percent of other whites hold that position. More than 25 percent of white evangelicals oppose more federal spending on the poor, while that is true for about 14 percent of all nonevangelical whites. And about 50 percent of all white evangelicals believe immigration is bad for the economy, compared with about 33 percent of other, nonevangelical whites.

Even among evangelicals, there are wide racial divides on political positions. It is true evangelicals of all racial backgrounds hold more conservative views on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage than does the general U.S. population.

Aside from these issues, evangelicals are very politically different by race. White evangelicals are markedly more conservative than Latino, Asian American and, perhaps not surprisingly, black evangelicals on climate change, federal funding to aid the poor and taxing the wealthy.

White evangelicals are more than twice as likely as any other group of evangelicals to oppose government funding to combat climate change or policies to tax the wealthy. No more than 10 percent of black, Asian American or Latino evangelicals oppose government regulation to combat climate change. Less than 15 percent of any of these groups oppose a tax increase on the wealthy, compared with about 30 percent of white evangelicals. White evangelicals are also more conservative on racial issues, whether those are attitudes about Black Lives Matter or the U.S. apologizing for slavery.

White evangelicals are much more conservative on immigration than nonwhite evangelicals. Fully 50 percent of white evangelicals in our survey agree that “immigrants hurt the economy,” compared with 22 percent of black evangelicals, 25 percent of Latino evangelicals  and 21 percent of Asian American evangelicals.

...Rank-and-file white evangelicals have the most negative attitudes toward immigrants of all U.S. religious groups. That’s true despite the fact that conservative white evangelical leaders strongly favor a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

My research indicates white evangelical conservatism correlates strongly with their perceptions anti-white discrimination, even after taking into account economic status, party, age and region. Fully 50 percent of white evangelical respondents to our 2016 survey reported feeling they face discrimination that’s comparable to, or even higher than, the discrimination they believe Muslim Americans face. Those who hold this perception are more likely to hold conservative attitudes on issues as wide-ranging as climate change, tax policy and health-care reform.

Here’s what is not behind these beliefs: economic anxiety. Like PRRI and political scientist Diana Mutz, I find economic anxiety isn’t a primary reason for supporting Trump. Rather, white evangelicals fear losing racial status. White evangelicals’ perceptions they’re the targets of discrimination-- more so than other groups-- influence far more than simply their votes for Trump.

Yes, 80 percent of white evangelicals supported Donald Trump in 2016. And the racial fears and anxieties that underlie their support for the president will probably remain the driver in their political views long after he leaves office.

Stephen Miller's great grandfather flunked his citizenship test in November of 1932 for "ignorance." The apple hasn't fallen far from the street, as Stephen Miller, a neo-Nazi, has proclaimed himself the architect of Trump's policy of kidnapping and abusing immigrant children, an all out anti-Christian agenda. Frank Schaeffer's father, Francis Schaeffer, was one of the founders of the "religious right" and Frank, a friend of mine, grew up in that environment. He left it long ago. After reading Wong's Washington Post article yesterday, he wrote this for us:
The public image of the leaders of the religious right I met with so many times in the 1970s and '80s contrasted with who they really were. In public they maintained an image that was usually quite smooth. In private they ranged from unreconstructed bigot reactionaries like Jerry Falwell, to Dr. Dobson, the most power-hungry and ambitious person I have ever met, to Billy Graham, a very weird man indeed who lived an oddly sheltered life in a celebrity/ministry cocoon, to actual madmen like Pat Robertson who, in any other line of work (where hearing voices is not part of the job description), would have been institutionalized.

They were all white. And with the exception of Graham had never been on the side of the civil rights movement. Falwell was an outspoken segregationist who only dropped public bigotry against blacks because he feared for his college’s accreditation.

Falwell disliked blacks and in private I was told used the N-word. He knew my father was against racial bigotry so never spoke that way to us. But when it came to gay rights and gays Jerry got personal. Dad and I were sitting in Falwell’s study just after Dad spoke at Jerry’s church. (Later I preached there too, endorsed Falwell, and also gave a talk to the whole student body.) Out of the blue Jerry brought up the gay issue. Dad said something about it being complicated and Jerry replied: “If I had a dog that did what they do I’d shoot him!”

The off-hand remark came from nowhere. Jerry wasn’t smiling. He was serious and just tossed his hatred out there the way gang members throw down hand signals.  Dad looked nonplussed but didn’t say anything, though later he growled, “That man is really disgusting.” Later still Dad commented, “You can be co-belligerents but don’t have to be allies.”

Make no mistake: white evangelicalism equals bigotry, racial hatred is par for the course. Look, if closing the border and separating migrant families wasn’t about race then evangelicals wouldn’t support Trump. Proof? The brown people coming north are Pentecostal Christians and conservative Roman Catholics. If they were Muslims or Hindus it could be argued that arresting them and deporting hem was about protecting our “Christian nation.”  But these ARE conservative Christians who share the white evangelical’s theology passionately! The only thing they don’t share with Trump’s evangelical supporters is a white skin.
A new Gallup poll finds that a record-high 75% of Americans, including majorities of all party groups, think immigration is a good thing for the U.S.-- up slightly from 71% last year. Just 19% of the public considers immigration a bad thing. A record-low number of Americans-- 29%-- saying that immigration into the U.S. should be decreased. Among Republicans and Republican leaners, 35% think immigration should be kept at its current level, 20% would like it increased and 42% say decreased.

Our friend, Harper Thorpe has written an alternative-- let's say updated-- version of Pete Seeger's "Where Have All The Flowers Gone?" The new song is "Where Have All The Children Gone?"

Where have all the children gone, all I’m asking?
Where have frightened toddlers gone, where did they go?
Where have our brown babies gone?
Picture cages everyone.
Oh, when will they be returned?
Oh, why aren’t you all concerned?

What can’t all the pictures shield, cruel harrassing?
What have all the tales revealed, what do we know?
What’s the story still concealed?
There’s no plan to bring them home.
Ivanka acts concerned,
What if my brand is spurned?

How come there’s no return plan, Kirstjen Nielsen?
How can you defend this man, his heartless show?
Think your mother’s still your fan?
Mother’s gone, but she looks on.
Think when she held you tight
And thanked the lord you’re white

Where have all the mothers gone, those trespassing?
Where have all the husbands gone, the human flow?
Where have all their children gone?
Trump pawns each and everyone
Are Mitch and Paul concerned?
Don’t want their guys mid-termed.

Where have Trump enablers gone, aura basking?
Senate, House, Republican, where did they go?
Cabinet and spokesmen gone?
Failed, jailed everyone.
Time they get what they’ve earned.
Enough of humans churned.

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Notes on Seymour Hersh's book "Reporter"


An American soldier stoking a fire of burning houses during the My Lai massacre on March 16th, 1968 (Ronald S. Haeberle/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty)

by Gaius Publius

Seymour Hersh recently released a book on his life as a reporter, called appropriately, Reporter. It's gotten praise from many quarters, including from novelist and former intelligence officer John Le Carré: "This book is essential reading for every journalist and aspiring journalist the world over."

Journalist Matt Taibbi has apparently taken le Carré's words to heart, read it (no surprise) and written an interesting commentary on it for Rolling Stone. I'm drawing the observations below from Taibbi's observations.

On Intelligence Agencies "Going Rogue"

Taibbi recounts a story from Reporter about a time when Hersh, who makes his living discovering information that intelligence agencies don't want people to know, was handed a "treasure trove" of secret information the CIA did want him to know.

Taibbi writes:
Late in his new memoir, Reporter, muckraking legend Seymour Hersh recounts an episode from a story he wrote for the New Yorker in 1999, about the Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard.

Bill Clinton was believed to be preparing a pardon for Pollard. This infuriated the rank and file of the intelligence community, who now wanted the press to know just what Pollard had stolen and why letting him free would be, in their eyes, an outrage.

"Soon after I began asking questions," Hersh writes, "I was invited by a senior intelligence official to come have a chat at CIA headquarters. I had done interviews there before, but always at my insistence."

He went to the CIA meeting. There, officials dumped a treasure trove of intelligence on his desk and explained that this material – much of which had to do with how we collected information about the Soviets – had been sold by Pollard to Israel.

On its face, the story was sensational. But Hersh was uncomfortable. "I was very ambivalent about being in the unfamiliar position of carrying water for the American intelligence community," he wrote. "I, who had worked so hard in my career to learn the secrets, had been handed the secrets."
From this Taibbi takes this lesson: "This offhand line explains a lot about what has made Hersh completely embody what it means to be a reporter. The great test is being able to get information powerful people don't want you to have. A journalist who is handed something, even a very sensational something, should feel nervous, sick, ambivalent."

From the same story I take an additional lesson: The CIA, through an active, serving, "senior official," attempted to use an unauthorized intelligence leak of massive proportions to undermine and potentially sabotage the decision of an elected, sitting president, nominally the official's boss via the chain of command, all this in 1999, decades before Donald Trump.

Should Pollard have been pardoned by Clinton? Likely not. Pressure on Clinton from Israel and the Jewish-American community was intense, but he eventually decided against a pardon, and a look at the facts shows he made the right decision. Pollard had done quite a lot of damage, was unrepentant, and acted for gain as well as in the interests of Israel. So justice was done.

Yet the method attempted by the CIA to influence this decision included not just normal chain-of-command influence (going into the president's office and arguing the case), but backdoor leaks to the press (Hersh) calculated to make a pardon politically impossible. In other words, to box in a presidential decision, the agency decided to "go rogue" — use its access to classified intelligence material to force the president it serves to make a decision it preferred.

This is first cousin to blackmail by the keeper of the nation's secrets via a third party (Hersh), and it would actually have been blackmail had someone from the agency gone to Clinton ahead of time and told him of the plan. Which they may well have done.

Keep this intelligence community behavior in mind as you consider (a) how that community operates with respect to U.S. politics; and (b) how it may be helping to get rid of another elected, sitting president, one that few in the Beltway political establishment want to continue in office.

To be clear: Should Trump be removed as president? I'm a strong yes on that, though you may disagree. How should he be removed? The answer to that sets precedent, doesn't it?

We've had presidents murdered out of office, most recently in 1963, in suspicious circumstances as a matter of fact. To my knowledge we haven't yet had one blackmailed out of office, though that clock has obviously not run out.

On CIA Assassination

Taibbi also brings up the history of political assassination carried out by the CIA: "Hersh was also among the first to describe a burgeoning American assassination program that to this day is poorly understood."
Within weeks of 9/11, for instance, Hersh quoted a "C.I.A. man" claiming the U.S. needed to "defy the American rule of law… We need to do this – knock them down one by one." He later reported on the existence of a "target list" and cited an order comparing the new tactics to El Salvadoran execution squads, reporting that much of this was going on without Congress being told.
That quote, about defying American rule of law, can be found in this New Yorker analysis of Hersh's writing about the executive assassination program in the post 9/11 years, "Close Read: What Did Seymour Hersh Say About Assassination?" published in 2009. It's quite revealing.

For even more about executive assassination, I strongly recommend reading this Hersh account of what really happened to Osama bin Laden — "The Killing of Osama bin Laden" — published in the London Review of Books.

A taste:
'They knew where the target was – third floor, second door on the right,' the retired official [one of Hersh's sources] said. Go straight there. Osama [by now an invalid] was cowering and retreated into the bedroom. Two shooters followed him and opened up. Very simple, very straightforward, very professional hit.' Some of the Seals were appalled later at the White House’s initial insistence that they had shot bin Laden in self-defence, the retired official said. 'Six of the Seals’ finest, most experienced NCOs, faced with an unarmed elderly civilian, had to kill him in self-defence?'
The whole thing, including Obama's shameful, self-serving sabotage of the agreed-upon plan, will fascinate you.

How to Be a Reporter

Taibbi ultimately reflects on the journalism business:
The job in many quarters has devolved into feeding captive audiences a steady stream of revelations framed to fit their preconceived ideas about the world, in order to keep them coming back. From Fox to MSNBC, the slant of programming has become more predictable, because audiences hate surprises and dislike being challenged. ...

Hersh's career is a tribute to the pursuit of the "unpredictable result." We used to value reporters who were willing to alienate editors and readers alike, if that's the way the truth cut. Now, as often as not, we just change the channel. This has been bad for both reporters and readers, who are losing the will to seek out and face the unpredictable truth.
I found myself speculating a little as I read those paragraphs. Matt Taibbi is already one of our most valuable journalists. Still, could this signal a change in his own career, or is this just an comment about someone else's career from his own desk at Rolling Stone? Taibbi's admiration is certainly obvious, as is his criticism of his peers.

Either way, Seymour Hersh has committed journalism of the most dangerous kind, putting him several steps ahead of what is now delivered to us as reporting. It would be nice to find a few more like him among the current crop.


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Why Is Joe Crowley Dissing The Bronx Part Of His Own District Again?


The editorial board of the NY Times slapped down Joe Crowley this week: If You Want to Be Speaker, Mr. Crowley, Don’t Take Voters for Granted. The editorial is especially poignant since Crowley hired a lobbyist to remove the Bronx part of his district removed from NY-14. Crowley is the machine boss of Queens and he doesn't like dealing with the residents of Throggs Neck, City Island, Eastchester Bay, Silver Beach, Locust Point, Schuylerville, Middletown, Pelham, Parkchester, Morris Park and Baychester. So he ignores them-- and hopes they don't vote. (In the 2014 midterm 79,790 of NY-14 voters came from Queens and just 48,580 came from the Bronx.

The Times' editors beef with Crowley was that, though he went to the Queens debate last week-- a debate he was not prepared for and clearly lost to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez-- he skipped the Bronx debate entirely.
When asking New Yorkers for their vote, most candidates would begin by showing up.

Not Representative Joseph Crowley. No, Mr. Crowley, a 10-term Democratic congressman who reportedly has ambitions of serving as House speaker, chose to skip a debate Monday night with his primary challenger, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. He sent a surrogate instead, former City Councilwoman Annabel Palma.

This is the second primary debate in which Mr. Crowley was a no-show. A spokeswoman for Mr. Crowley said he had scheduling conflicts that wouldn’t allow him to attend the two debates, inevitably leaving voters to wonder-- what are we, chopped liver?

Indeed, the snubs should be galling not only to Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and Mr. Crowley’s constituents in New York’s 14th Congressional District, in Queens and the Bronx, but also to anyone who cares about the democratic process.

Mr. Crowley, 56, is a powerful congressman who leads the Queens County Democratic Party. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, 28, has presented him his first major primary challenge in years. Despite long odds, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, a former Bernie Sanders campaign organizer, has garnered significant support, waging a high-energy campaign and positioning herself as a grass-roots alternative to Mr. Crowley.

The candidates have met once, in a Spectrum News NY1 debate last week at which both candidates held their own.

Instead of attending Monday evening’s debate, which was hosted by the Parkchester Times, Mr. Crowley visited a civic association meeting in Queens. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was left to debate Mr. Crowley’s chosen surrogate, Ms. Palma. Ms. Palma once represented the Bronx on the City Council and now serves in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration as a deputy commissioner at the Department of Social Services.

Mr. Crowley’s constituents might well now wonder whether he intends, if re-elected, to have Ms. Palma make his floor speeches and cast his votes as well.

Crowley aides said they had told the newspaper weeks ago that there was a scheduling conflict and had asked to change the event. The publisher of the Parkchester Times said he had no idea that Mr. Crowley wouldn’t attend.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter after the debate that in sending Ms. Palma, Mr. Crowley chose “a woman with slight resemblance to me” as his surrogate. Both Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and Ms. Palma are Latina. Crowley aides dispute that Mr. Crowley chose Ms. Palma because of her ethnicity. A campaign spokesman, Vijay Chaudhuri, said Ms. Palma was chosen because she is a “phenomenal local leader.”

Mr. Crowley is far from the first candidate to decline to debate a challenger he is heavily favored to beat. But as a longtime incumbent with a powerful role as a party leader, he should relish, not shirk, a chance to make his case to voters. Mr. Crowley has decades of experience that can serve his constituents well in Congress. But his seat is not his entitlement. He’d better hope that voters don’t react to his snubs by sending someone else to do the job.
Blue America has been working with a very grassroots group in NY-14, Queens Against Crowley, to run a Facebook ad campaign and do robocalls to public housing residents in Queens and the Bronx that we hope will help people understand the difference between Crowley and Alexandria Ocasio. Below are a couple of the ads that have already gone out... if you'd like to listen. And if you want to chip in for more calls and ads, you can do that by tapping here and contributing to the Blue America Independent Expenditure Committee.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

Laura Ingraham, a soulless, corporately supported FOX "News" host famous for her straight-armed salute to the delegate goons at the 2016 Republican Convention (also know as the Kleveland Kook Karnival) and famous for taunting Parkland High School shooting survivors, now has added a new atrocity to her personal greatest hits of sick behavior. On Monday, she referred to Herr Trump's Internment Camps as quote, "summer camps." This is Republicanism, folks. This is Trumpism. "Summer camps." "Summer camps" full of hostages, not campers.

As a young boy, I went to summer camps. My parents sent me, not an evil government led by bigoted, fascist scumbags and promoted by a national TV network and Russian bots.

I was a young boy the same age as many of the stolen children in Trump's Texas "summer camps." I'm not sure what kind of summer camps a lowlife like Ingraham might have gone to but, if she did go to summer camps, I feel bad for the fellow campers that had to put up with such a mental case. I can tell you that, at my summer camps, we were housed in nice, comfortable cabins or tents. We we not housed in cages. We were able to write to our parents and our parents were able to write to us. During the course of the summer, there were even a couple of visitation days. At one camp I went to, we got to leave the camp for few days and hike around the Catskill Mountains. At another, we even got to go on canoe trips down the Delaware River, miles from the camp. We happily returned each time. There were no cages waiting for us.

If Karma really did have a sense of justice, Laura Ingraham and her president would be stuffed in a cage in a very, very hot place very, very soon, a place where the attendants laugh at her cries and screams. Some nice sharp cattle prods might be a nice touch as well.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Trump Is So Uninformed And Stupid, He Should Just Keep His Mouth Shut


Ever smuggle phamaceuticals into the U.S. from Canada? They cost much less up there so it's a pretty common practice. Señor Trumpanzee, presumably with the help of the White House's top in-house Nazi, Stephen Miller, insists Canadian are smuggling scuffed up shoes from the U.S. into Canada. Señor T, wrote Daniel Dale for the Toronto Star, "has called Canada 'brutal,' accused Canada’s prime minister of being 'weak,' and taken aim at Canada’s supply management system for dairy. Now he is calling Canadians shoe smugglers."
In the latest salvo in the president’s multi-front attack on Canadian trade practices, Trump told a story Tuesday about Canadians who cross the U.S. border to buy shoes. The tale left trade experts and apparel industry officials scratching their heads.

Trump launched into it while delivering a rambling speech, focused on illegal immigration, to the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

“There was a story two days ago in a major newspaper talking about people living in Canada coming to the United States and smuggling things back into Canada because the tariffs are so massive. The tariffs to get common items back into Canada are so high that they have to smuggle ‘em in,” Trump said, apparently referring to an essay in the New York Post by Canadian journalist Isabel Vincent. “They buy shoes, then they wear them. They scuff ’em up. They make them sound old or look old. No, we’re treated horribly.”

There was a grain of truth to the story. Crossing the border to shop in the U.S. and then sneaking an item or two past customs on the way back is a time-honoured Canadian pastime. On Twitter, several Canadians immediately confessed to making furtive attempts to make their new shoes look well-worn.

But there is no indication that any of this has anything to do with tariffs. And Trump’s claim that this shop-and-hide practice results in the U.S. being mistreated makes no sense at all, trade and apparel experts said.

The Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, the U.S. industry’s lobby group, said in a statement: “The president seems misinformed about footwear trade.”

"On behalf of the American footwear industry, we welcome anyone from anywhere to come and purchase shoes in America. It helps both our brands and retailers grow. Period,” the group said. “We don’t care where they wear them, and if they get scuffed up all the better so we can sell them more.”

Under NAFTA, there are no Canadian tariffs on shoes manufactured in the U.S. Since more than 95 per cent of shoes sold in the U.S. are made abroad, any Canadian shoppers avoiding Canada’s tariffs upon their return home are actually avoiding tariffs on foreign-made items, mostly made-in-Asia goods.

In other words, Trump was complaining about Canadians spending money at U.S. stores and then refusing to pay the Canadian government for goods made in other countries-- a process that does not victimize the U.S. in any way.

“There doesn’t seem to be an issue. I’m not sure why we’re talking about this. Yet again, we’re being led down this path when there really isn’t anything there,” said Bob Kirke, executive director of the Canadian Apparel Federation. “I feel like I'm going down the rabbit hole here.”

In a tweet to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the U.S. industry group added: “The US Footwear Industry welcomes you and all Canadians to come buy shoes in America! As many as you want-- and scuff them up if you want, we can sell you more!”

Kirke said he doesn’t think “there’s any negotiation or discussion around footwear tariffs or rules of origin in the current NAFTA negotiation. Zero. Zip.” And he said lower shoe prices in the U.S. are a result of the competitiveness of the U.S. retail market, not tariffs.

“Both countries have tariffs on imported footwear,” said Karl Littler, vice-president of public affairs at the Retail Council of Canada. “His critique of Canada he might level at the U.S. system as well.”

Canadians don’t have to pay duties on their first $200 in purchases if they’re in the U.S. for 24 hours. They get an $800 exemption if they’re away 48 hours.

Another cross-border shopping issue has been significant in NAFTA talks: Canada’s $20 threshold, one of the lowest in the world, for duties on shipments mailed from abroad. The U.S. threshold is $800, and the Trump administration has called on Canada to raise its own.

On Tuesday, Trump again floated the idea of making separate deals with Canada and Mexico rather than preserving the North American Free Trade Agreement. He also made some of his usual false claims about the trade balance with Canada, and he again criticized Canada’s dairy tariffs.

“We can no longer be the stupid country. We want to be the smart country. So hopefully we’ll be able to work it out with Canada. We have very good relationships with Canada, we have for a long time, and hopefully that’ll work out, but Canada’s not going to take advantage of the United States any longer. And Mexico’s not going to take advantage of the United States any longer,” he said.

Trump also scoffed at Trudeau’s argument against the steel and aluminum tariffs that Trump imposed on “national security” grounds. Trudeau has invoked the Canadian soldiers who have fought and died with American soldiers. On Tuesday, Trump paraphrased the argument with a hint of mockery.

“By the way, Canada, they like to talk,” Trump said to laughter. “They’re our great neighbour. They fought World War II with us. We appreciate it. They fought World War I with us, and we appreciate it. But we’re protecting each other.”
The Koch brothers' political network in going mano a mano against Trump's trade agenda. They're launching a six figure ad campaign on Monday urging voters to oppose the Trump tariffs and support Mike Lee's free trade legislation which Trump vehemently opposes. The radio and TV ads say "To keep growing, we must keep trading,. Tariffs are not the answer. Tell Washington: Support Freedom. Oppose Tariffs."

The Koch brothers network sent a letter to members of Congress yesterday basically telling them to oppose what Trump is trying to do with his trade policy: "Tariffs are taxes that make Americans poorer. They raise our cost of living and force higher expenses on our businesses. Just consider the working families paying much more for a new washing machine or the locker manufacturer that now must consider outsourcing U.S. jobs overseas. These ads are an important part of our overall campaign, which also includes significant plans for grassroots mobilization and public education." Washing machines are already priced  20% higher for American consumers than they were last month-- thanks entirely to Trump.

Kellyanne's knock-off Louboutins were smuggled in from Regina

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November: Democrats Are Counting On A Wave, While Republicans Count On Gerrymandered Districts


Monday morning, the right-wing Washington Examiner tried painting a picture that the Blue Wave is no sure thing. I guess they hoped no one would dig down into their article-- which pretty much shows-- as far as anything 4 months away can do-- that it really is. They cite polling numbers that go up and down but end by admitting the Democrats are ahead in generic polling now by between 7.3 and 7.7%. And they don't talk much about independent votes who have turned against the GOP and who aren't affected by a gerrymandered map.

They then quote a former conservative Democratic hack who spends his time on Fox News, Pat Caddell, as though he were an actual Democrat. Caddell, a blowhard is always available to be the "Democrat" who proves whatever the GOP wants him to prove but even he couldn't say there was no wave coming. "I think the blue wave has receded somewhat," said Pat Caddell, a longtime Democratic pollster and consultant who is now a Fox News contributor. "I still think that as long as this election remains unclear about how it’s focused, there is an instinct in off years for anybody who disapproves of anything about the incumbent to vote no" on the presidential party.
Karl Rove dismisses the idea of a blue wave even in the House. “Instead, 2018 will be a brutal district-by-district battle,” he wrote in the Wall Street Journal. “Each outcome will be determined as much by the quality of candidates and their campaigns as by the national climate.”

That doesn’t mean all is well for the GOP, however. Republican strategists conceded to the Washington Examiner that there is still an “intensity gap” that favors the Democrats. “Voters are motivated by three things: greed, anger and fear,” said Brian O. Walsh, president of the pro-Trump outside group America First Action and a former NRCC political director.

Republicans aren’t greedy because they have just gotten a tax cut, they aren’t angry because they are in power in Washington and they aren’t afraid because they are not yet convinced those majorities are in jeopardy.

Republicans have underperformed in special elections dating to last year, even when they have won. And they have lost their share: a Senate seat in Alabama, where Trump won by 27.8 points; a Wisconsin state senate seat where Trump won by 17; a Pennsylvania congressional seat in a district Trump won by 20.

Pennsylvania is a problem because of court-imposed redistricting Democrats say reverses Republican gerrymandering and Republicans contend merely re-gerrymanders the state for the Democrats’ benefit. Either way, it is likely to lead to a net loss in Republican seats in a year where the party doesn’t have many to spare.

“With the majority of primary elections behind us, it’s clear that Democrats have nominated incredibly strong candidates who uniquely fit their districts and have built top-tier campaigns,” said Tyler Law, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “With a huge pickup in Pennsylvania, highly effective maneuvering of the California top-two system, and a historically unpopular House Republican agenda on healthcare and taxes, Democrats have all the momentum heading into the midterms. That said, we take nothing for granted given that Republicans will have a massive resource advantage with all of their dark money outside groups.”

California is a good example of the mixed signals this election cycle has sent. Democrats feared their overcrowded primary fields, riven by ideological divisions between factions loyal to 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton and her progressive challenger Bernie Sanders, would deprive them the opportunity to contest some Clinton-won districts in the state currently represented by GOP congressmen. Because California had adopted a top-two “jungle primary” system regardless of party affiliation, the concern was that Democratic votes would be so split in some of these districts that none of their candidates would make it to the general election ballot.

Instead Democrats advanced in all these districts. “First, we didn’t get locked out of anything,” said Brad Bannon, a Democratic strategist. “This gives Democrats an opportunity to play to November… Second, if you look at some the Republican incumbents, yeah they finished way ahead of their Democratic opponents, but they ended up in the high 40s. The reality is, they’re going to have to do better than that to win in November."

...Republicans also have a conflict in their messaging. Trump is an asset in the Senate races that will decide the majority but a liability in some of the at-risk congressional districts. That means different approaches to the president not only for each race, but arguably each legislative chamber.

Trump and congressional Republicans are also split on the winning formula. The latter would like to focus almost exclusively on the tax cut. Trump mentions taxes but also wants to talk tough on immigration, trade, MS-13 and national security, emphasizing his full agenda.

Caddell contended the tax cut is still “too controversial” and recommended “weaponizing the economy, impeachment, raising taxes and [the Democrats'] defense of many things that I think are indefensible. Otherwise, the natural structural tendency is to favor the Democrats.” He also suggested Republicans could sharpen their critique of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., by picking their own successor to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., before the election.

Pelosi has emerged as a powerful GOP counterweight to the Democrats’ use of Trump to motivate voters. Republicans credit anti-Pelosi ads with helping save a seat in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District last year. But some GOP operatives fear their base doesn’t take the threat of a second Pelosi speakership seriously enough to turn them out.

“The Democrats can’t have it two ways,” Caddell said. “They can’t say ‘I’m not for her, but I’ll see what happens. Uh-uh.” Pelosi’s grip on the caucus could be loosened if Democrats win a small majority, amplifying the influence of a small number of defectors, or a particularly large majority where the amount of new blood makes things unpredictable-- and she is certainly at risk if her party doesn’t capture the majority at all.

Democrats are going to force a similar choice on Republicans regarding Trump. In Virginia, where as many as three GOP-held House seats may be at risk, that will be magnified by the candidacy of Republican Senate nominee Corey Stewart, who is arguably more prone to controversy than the president. This isn’t good for vulnerable incumbents such as Rep. Barbara Comstock, who already faces criticism for being insufficiently pro-Trump-- an argument her primary challenger made on his way to winning 40 percent of the vote.
Maybe it would have been more important to mention that 53,843 Democrats voted in VA-10 on primary day compared to just 46,575 Republicans. Comstock should be looking for another job, because having neo-Nazi Corey Stewart at the top of the ticket she's running on isn't going to sit well with independent voters-- nor will it encourage mainstream Republican votes to go to the polls in November. And even if Caddell, Fox and the Washington Examiner don't get it, yesterday the Cook Report switched their rating in the VA-10 race from "toss-up" to leaning Democratic.

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When The Parties Undermine Their Own Candidates


Tony Cárdenas had no problem winning his heavily Democratic San Fernado Valley reelection bid, despite credible accusations that he he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl and threatened to fire her father if she squealed. Last month an L.A. Superior Court judge ruled that there is "a reasonable and meritorious basis" for the suit to go forward but Pelosi quashed it in Congress. He's definitely not getting the Al Franken treatment.

Cárdenas' district gave Trump a mere 16.8% of its vote in 2016 and the unassailable PVI is D+29. In the primary about 2 weeks ago, despite being a child molestor, Cárdenas scored 67% against Republican Benito Bernal (18%) and Democrat Joseph Shammas (8%). There wasn't a peep out of Pelosi or her DCCC. Funny, because when the decode to destroy a candidate, they certainly know how to do it. And not just Laura Moser.

In Orange County, the DCCC released all kinds of sex allegations against their own recruit, Hans Keirstead, who seems to have won the CA-48 race, leaving the DCCC in a really awkward position. And despite Archie Parnell handily winning his South Carolina primary, the DCCC is poisoning the atmosphere against him for allegations by his then-wife made in a 1973 divorce filing.

The DCCC communications director, Meredith Kelly, who also led the charge against other Democrats the DCCC has trying to destroy told the media that "What Archie Parnell did is inexcusable and deeply disturbing, and he should drop out of this race immediately." So what Parnell is accused of doing to his wife in 1973 is "inexcusable" but Cárdenas raping a 16 year old child is... crickets. The whole DCCC crowd has ganged up on Parnell and keeps demanding he drop out of the race, reaffirming that they will not spend any money in SC-05-- the Charlotte exurbs plus Lancaster, York and Cherokee counties-- where he came close to beating Ralph Norman in a special election when Mick Mulvaney resigned in 2017.
Ralph Norman (R)- 45,076 (51%)
Archie Parnell (D)- 42,341 (47.9%)
Norman outspent Parnell $1,630,143 to $1,379,838. But his case isn't the only one where the establishment is trying to destroy politically. In fact, the Republicans so the exact same thing... and as bad or worse than the Democrats. (Surprise, surprise, both parties really suck.)

Last week James Arkin blew the whistle on McConnell for this newest interference-- the Arizona Senate contest. The Democratic establishment has chosen the worst-- literally, the worst Democrat in the House, Kyrsten Sinema, as the nominee. McConnell wants to do the same thing for the GOP-- and he wants it to be the mainstream conservative, Rep. Martha McSally, rather than one of the neo-fascists, Kelli Ward or Joe Arpaio.

The McConnell-controlled Pac, One Nation, is already run ads claiming that McSally is far more right-wing and extreme than her record indicates. "The ads," wrote Arkin, "from the McConnell-aligned nonprofit One Nation, don’t explicitly reference the Senate race. But they quote McSally saying, 'We’ve got to build the wall,' just as the two-term Republican has been tacking to the right on immigration. She recently pulled her support from legislation that would have offered a pathway to citizenship for young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally, instead backing a more conservative immigration bill, and McSally’s office also recently took down a video from last year that featured her defending DACA, the Obama-era program that protected young undocumented immigrants from deportation." Keep in mind that McConnell is the most disliked politician in America.
The TV ad marks the first move by a national group in Arizona’s Senate race, emphasizing the high stakes there as Republicans defend their 51-49 Senate majority. Democrats are confident in Rep. Kyrsten Sinema’s chances to flip the seat held by GOP Sen. Jeff Flake, who is retiring. McConnell has made clear his preference for McSally in the primary, and national Republicans fear the race will be unwinnable if former state legislator Kelli Ward or former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio wins the nomination in late August.

Still, McConnell’s involvement comes with its own risks. The majority leader is a controversial figure among GOP primary voters, and that unpopularity was weaponized against McConnell’s chosen candidate in Alabama’s special election last year, when pro-McConnell groups spent heavily to back former Sen. Luther Strange before he lost his primary. In Arizona, Ward has already attacked the Republican establishment for interfering in the race.

"The establishment and Never Trump forces know they have to prop up Martha McSally because her support is stalling with primary voters,” Zach Henry, a spokesman for Ward, wrote in an email. “McSally's record of personal attacks on President Trump, opposing the border wall, and her dozens of votes for amnesty and reckless Washington spending doesn't appeal to Arizonans."

McSally has faced criticism from both sides for her immigration positions, with Democrats criticizing her conservative shift since announcing her Senate campaign. But the Republican primary is the first hurdle for McSally, who has been labeled “McAmnesty” by Ward’s campaign.

"Martha began working on Securing America's Future Act last September-- long before a Senate run was even a consideration," said Torunn Sinclair, a spokeswoman for McSally's campaign. "This is political posturing coming from Democrats who are grasping at straws trying to poke holes in Martha's effective record fighting for Arizonans."

Eric Beach, a strategist for Ward, told Politico in May that Ward’s campaign would not simply be a referendum on McConnell. But the majority leader has played a role in the primary: A day after that article appeared, Ward wrote in a fundraising appeal that she was “the No. 1 target” of McConnell and that he had “thrown his weight” behind McSally in the race.

In another fundraising appeal late last month, Ward labeled McConnell a “major supporter” of McSally and compared that to endorsements she had received from conservative figures Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and Sebastian Gorka.

Steven Law, president of One Nation and its affiliated super PAC Senate Leadership Fund, said in an interview earlier this week he thought McSally is well-positioned to win the primary. He didn’t discuss his group’s plans to invest in the race, saying that was something “everyone is still evaluating.” But he praised McSally’s fundraising ability and said she’s “well-positioned to be able to win this in her own right.”

...Law wrote in a memo that in most GOP primaries, the relative strength of the candidate and their political operation are critical variables. In the interview this week, Law said he’s confident in McSally.

“The record-to-record comparison between her and her two competitors in the primary, I think, will be a deal closer for Republican primary voters,” he said.

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Has Anyone Ever Won A Trade War?


This morning the NY Times reported that Señor Trumpanzee seems somehow consoled that in a trade war the Chinese will lose more than we will. His "threat to impose tariffs on almost every Chinese product that comes into the United States intensified the possibility of a damaging trade war, sending stock markets tumbling on Tuesday and drawing a rebuke from retailers, tech companies and manufacturers" He and those around him "remained unmoved by those concerns, with a top trade adviser, Peter Navarro, insisting that China has more to lose from a trade fight than the United States. He also declared that Mr. Trump would not allow Beijing to simply buy its way out of an economic dispute by promising to import more American goods."

For whatever reason-- personal greed? stupidity?-- Señor T. threatened an all-out trade war against China on Monday. His latest is to babble more bullshit about levying tariffs on everything China exports to the U.S. "unless," reported the Washington Post "Beijing agrees to a host of sweeping trade concessions, a dramatic escalation that would enlist American consumers in the brewing U.S.-China commercial conflict." (China is more keenly aware of how the demands of the two Opium Wars-- 1839-1843 and 1856-1860-- impinged on its sovereignty and sent the country into a catastrophic downward spiral that took them over a century to come out of.
In a statement, Trump said he had ordered his chief negotiator, U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer, to draw up a list of $200 billion in Chinese products that will be hit with tariffs of 10 percent if China refuses his demands to narrow the yawning U.S. trade deficit and change its industrial policies.
When Trump started his tirades about trade wars there was a lot of talk about where they had led historically-- depressions and shooting wars. Let's start by taking a look at the Financial Times' Gideon Rachman's look at how trade wars turn into real wars. "The foundations of America's relationship with China crumbled last week," he wrote. The key developments were a lurch by the US towards protectionism and a swing by China towards one-man rule. For the past 40 years, the world's two largest economies have both embraced globalization, based on understandings about how the other would behave. The Chinese assumed that the US would continue to support free trade. The Americans believed that economic liberalization in China would eventually lead to political liberalization. Both of these assumptions are now shattered. On Sunday, China's National People's Congress rubber-stamped a constitutional change that would allow President Xi Jinping to rule for life. Three days earlier, President Donald Trump announced tariffs on steel and aluminium and tweeted that 'trade wars are good and easy to win'. But Mr Trump's breezy confidence ignores the dangers involved in unleashing a trade war. Those risks are not simply economic: a trade war makes it more likely that, one day, the US and China could slide into a real war."
As the two countries slide towards confrontation over trade, territory and ideology, so the sense of grievance on both sides is likely to increase. The Chinese and American presidents are both nationalists who frequently stoke feelings of wounded national pride. Mr Trump has claimed the world is laughing at America and that China has raped the US. Mr Xi has promised to preside over a "great rejuvenation" of the Chinese people-- that will finally bury the "century of humiliation" that began in 1839, when the country was invaded and partially colonized.

The emergence of leaders such as Mr Trump and Mr Xi is a reflection of broader ideological shifts in both countries. Thirty years of stagnant or declining real wages for most American workers have comprehensively undermined the belief in globalization and free trade in the US. Mr Trump was the loudest protectionist voice in the 2016 presidential field. But even his opponent, Hillary Clinton, was forced to repudiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement that she had once promoted.

This new combination of a protectionist and nationalist America, and an assertive and nationalist China, is potentially explosive. But there are also aspects of Mr Trump's ideology that may make conflict less likely. Unlike all his recent predecessors, the US president has little interest in promoting democracy abroad. He is likely to be unconcerned by Mr Xi's move towards one-man rule. Indeed, he may even envy it.
So what about a reprise of the Great Depression? Will that be the retribution Americans get for allowing Trump into the White House? CNN pointed out that no matter what you do for a living, a trade war Trump seems determined to start should scare you. "In a trade war, countries impose tariffs and other barriers on imported products, often in retaliation for actions taken by a trading partner." Trump-- filled with the ignorance of the uneducated-- claimed a trade war would be easy to win. As with most things, he's wrong. Trade wars "slow down business activity around the globe by crimping international trade." Had Trump ever gotten an actual education-- he didn't-- he would have learned that "in a worst case scenario, trade wars can lead to a global depression. Protectionist trade polices are one of the primary factors economists cite for deepening the Great Depression. So if there's one thing that most economists agree upon, it's no one wins a trade war."

Here's how US businesses and consumers stand to lose if President Trump gets his wish for a trade war:

Prices will go up

This much is certain. In a trade war, US consumers and businesses will be left with the bill.

President Trump says he's planning to impose a 25% tariff on imported steel and a 10% tariff on imported aluminum. That means the price of cars, appliances, packaged food and everything else that uses steel or aluminum is bound to go up.

Even the aluminum industry's trade group admits the smelters remaining in this country cannot make enough additional aluminum to replace the supply coming from overseas. When the tariffs are put in place, imported products will continue to come in-- at higher prices.

Since foreign steel and aluminum prices will be higher, domestic producers are likely to raise their prices as well.

American businesses will lose sales

Yes, America buys more from other countries than it sells to its trading partners. But don't discount the amount of goods and services the United States does export-- $2.3 trillion worth.

A trade war by definition means that other countries are going to slap tariffs and restrictions on those US goods and services, making them more expensive, and less competitive-- if they're allowed into those countries at all.

And once an American business loses a contract to sell its products overseas, it can take a long time to win that business back. Their customers will find other, perhaps more dependable suppliers while the trade war is waged.

Many well-paying jobs are at risk in a trade war. In 2017, the United States exported $60 billion worth of auto parts, $56 billion of civilian aircraft, $52 billion of new cars and trucks, and $51 billion of pharmaceuticals.

That's only goods. The United States has been primarily a service economy for decades now. Today about five times as many jobs are in the service sector, such as finance, media, transportation and retail, than are in goods producing sectors, such as manufacturing and mining.

The good news is that the United States had a $243 billion services trade surplus.

American trading partners are also among its biggest lenders

The federal deficit is big and getting bigger. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates the deficit could swell to $1 trillion by next year.

Wall Street worries that the rising amount of debt could drive up the interest rates on the government debt, since the Treasury Department will have to offer higher rates to borrow more money. That would increase the cost of borrowing for consumers and businesses, since many types of loans-- including mortgages-- track government bond rates.

One thing keeping rates in check so far is the demand for U.S. debt from overseas. America's foreign trading partners, including China, are among the largest buyers of that debt. It added $127 billion to its holdings last year and now owns more than $1 trillion in U.S. debt, making it the largest foreign holder of our debt.

The trade deficit that President Trump decries is one of the reasons for those holdings. It gives foreign countries a powerful incentive to buy that debt, since they have to do something with the dollars they get back on those sales.

If the trade gap shrinks, for whatever reason, China won't have as much incentive to buy U.S. debt, and interest rates could rise significantly.
We're not watching a TV show that will end for the season and start up again in a few months or next year. Trump is an existential danger to our country in the profoundest of ways-- and in ways that the next administration isn't going to wave a magic wand and fix. No one in their right mind or with a modicum of good sense thinks this is funny.

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How Dangerous Are Trump's Severe Mental Illnesses To America? Why Not Give Him The $25 Billion Hew Wants To Steal If He Promises To Resign?


They also have a problem with him overseas

Yeah, yeah, we all know Trump is a lying sack of shit. The idea that this man is president is more disgusting and unpalatable by the day. The idea that the latest job approval poll shows that 39% of Americans actually approve of the way he's doing his job-- and only a mere 54% disapprove-- makes me worry if my country can actually survive as a beacon of hope and a decent place to live. The Washington Post ran another Trump's the Biggest Liar in History piece yesterday. The compulsive liar-in-chief and the I-was-just-doing-what-I-was- told-Nazis who populate his ghastly regime "say U.S. laws or court rulings are forcing them to separate families that are caught trying to cross the southern border. These claims are false... It’s strange to behold Trump distancing himself from the zero-tolerance policy ('the Democrats gave us that law') while Nielsen claims it doesn’t exist ('it’s not a policy') and Sessions defends it in speech after speech."

For Trump, the family-separation policy is leverage as he seeks congressional funding for his promised border wall and other immigration priorities, according to reporting by the Washington Post. Top DHS officials have said that threatening adults with criminal charges and prison time would be the “most effective” way to reverse the rising number of illegal crossings.

The doublespeak coming from Trump and top administration officials on this issue is breathtaking, not only because of the sheer audacity of these claims but also because they keep being repeated without evidence. Immigrant families are being separated at the border not because of Democrats and not because some law forces this result, as Trump insists. They’re being separated because the Trump administration, under its zero-tolerance policy, is choosing to prosecute border-crossing adults for any offenses.
Meanwhile Eliana Johnson and Annie Karni have written a shocking report for Politico on how frustrating Trump's family separation agenda has become inside his own Regime. Towards the end of a long piece on how hapless Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is caught up in Trump's horrifying actions towards children, they mention that her sponsor, Chief of Staff John Kelly-- himself the former Homeland Security Secretary-- is flipping out entirely.

"Kelly’s status in the White House," they wrote, "has changed in recent months, and he and the president are now seen as barely tolerating one another. According to four people close to Kelly, the former Marine general has largely yielded his role as the enforcer in the West Wing as his relationship with Trump has soured. While Kelly himself once believed he stood between Trump and chaos, he has told at least one person close to him that he may as well let the president do what he wants, even if it leads to impeachment-- at least this chapter of American history would come to a close." (Trump's deputy chief of staff, Joe Hagin bailed yesterday afternoon. He had wanted to quit long ago but Kelly had persuaded him to stay on.)

Standing between Trump and chaos is not something Trump approves of or finds supportive of his ultimate ambitions. Trump is certifiably insane on several levels-- from Narcissistic Personality Disorder to traits that are far more dangerous to the country. On Tuesday he exploded during a private meeting with Senate Republicans over the one thing he's trying to accomplish that will outlast his miserable time in office: the Great Wall of Trump. He threatened to shut down the government in September-- so right before the midterms-- if they don't give him the $25 billion he wants to build the wall, much of which, no doubt, will line the pockets of his friends and family. This defines a kleptocracy. The senators fear that shutting down the government will shut down their careers.
In a private meeting regarding the wall Monday, Trump fumed to senators and his own staff about the $1.6 billion the Senate is planning to send him this fall, according to two people familiar with the meeting. Trump wants the full $25 billion upfront and doesn’t understand why Congress is going to supply him funds in a piecemeal fashion-- even though that’s how the spending process typically works.

...GOP lawmakers are loath to see a government shutdown on their watch just weeks before the midterm elections.

“It’s probably an overwhelming belief in the House and the Senate, especially the Senate, that government shutdowns aren’t good for anybody,"[Alabama Senator Richard] Shelby said.

The Appropriations Committee, which is led by Shelby, began working to pass its Homeland Security bill on Tuesday. Democrats seem unlikely to change course and agree to add more border security money for the president.

"We've got the bill and we're moving forward and I think we're going to get good bipartisan support for it. I think it's a good bill that will keep our borders safe," said Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), the ranking member of the Homeland Security appropriations committee.

On Monday, GOP Sens. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Shelby both tried to explain to Trump that the Senate is merely meeting Mulvaney’s request and has to cut a bipartisan deal with Democrats. The Senate needs 60 votes to pass a spending bill, so Republicans would have to find at least nine Democratic votes.

"We're going to do make a down payment on that working together," said Capito, chairwoman of Homeland Security spending panel.

But Trump has not been mollified. He raised his voice several times in Monday's meeting with Mulvaney, White House staffers and the senators, insisting he needs the full $25 billion-- an unlikely outcome in the narrowly divided Senate.

Shelby said he views $1.6 billion as a floor in negotiations, which could increase if Democrats want to do some horse-trading.
Horse-trading-- like in rescuing the children Trump has put in concentration camps?

This is a letter the American Psychological Association sent to Trump last week:
On behalf of the American Psychological Association (APA), we are writing to express our deep concern and strong opposition to the Administration’s new policy of separating immigrant parents and children who are detained while crossing the border. We previously wrote to then Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly on April 5, 2017, about this matter. Based on empirical evidence of the psychological harm that children and parents experience when separated, we implore you to reconsider this policy and commit to the more humane practice of housing families together pending immigration proceedings to protect them from further trauma.

APA is the leading scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. Our membership includes researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants, and students. APA works to advance the creation, communication, and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives. We have 115,700 members and affiliates across the United States and in many other countries, many of whom serve immigrant youth and adults in a wide range of settings, including schools, community centers, hospitals and refugee resettlement centers.

The current policy calls for children to be removed from their parents and placed for an often indeterminate period of time in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Decades of psychological research have determined that it is in the best interest of the child and the family to keep families together. Families fleeing their homes to seek sanctuary in the United States are already under a tremendous amount of stress. Sudden and unexpected family separation, such as separating families at the border, can add to that stress, leading to emotional trauma in children. Research also suggests that the longer that parents and children are separated, the greater the reported symptoms of anxiety and depression are for children. Adverse childhood experiences, such as parent-child separation, are important social determinants of mental disorders. For children, traumatic events can lead to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health disorders that can cause long lasting effects. Furthermore, immigration policies, such as separating families at the border, can also adversely impact those immigrants who are already in the United States. They can suffer from feelings of stigmatization, social exclusion, anger, and hopelessness, as well as fear for the future.

As a tragic example of the current policy’s serious potential for harm, a Honduran man who was separated from his wife and 3-year-old son after he crossed the border into Texas recently took his own life while detained in a holding cell, according to the Customs and Border Protection officials, public records, and media reports. There are also reports of detained immigrants foregoing legitimate claims for asylum by pleading guilty to expedite the return of their separated children and reports of parents being deported while their children, including infants, remain in custody. These incidents serve to highlight the mental health crisis for many families caused by the Administration’s policy.

Given these considerations, a change in immigration policy regarding the detention of immigrant families at the border is desperately needed-- from separating parents and children to housing them together and providing needed physical and mental health services. As psychologists, we have documented multiple harmful effects of parent-child separation on children’s emotional and psychological development and well-being and urge that the current policy of family separation be reversed. Should you have any questions regarding these comments, please contact Serena Dávila, J.D., with our Public Interest Directorate.

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