Monday, November 12, 2018

What's a Morally Appropriate Response to Climate Deniers?


A small part of a much larger infographic showing our bright bright technical future. None of this will happen.

by Gaius Publius

What's a morally appropriate response to climate deniers?

What's a morally appropriate response to those who enable mass murder?

This short piece is the start of a much longer consideration of the state of the U.S. at this crossroads moment. It's an odd state. I remember the Y2K explosion of fear and concern, that there may be a global collapse due to computers not having been told that the year portion of a date contains four digits, not just two. Many computers stored the year as two digits, for example, as "68" for 1968. That works until 1999. What would happen when all those computers, if they weren't fixed, rolled the date to January 1, 2000? Would they all be fixed?

Y2K fear was in all the newscasts of the day, and appropriately so. No one knew what would happen, and if the very worst did occur, it could indeed have been a disaster. It wasn't, but we sure heard about it.

When it comes to global warming, however, at the rate we're fixing the problem — which is achingly slow, the slowest rate anyone can manage and still be pretending to care — there will be a global disaster. And yet there's been nary a peep from the media or any public official in position to act effectively.

Newscasters talk about driverless cars in 2030; about cheap, widespread DNA-inspired nanotech in 2033; about designer molecules from "superatoms" in 2036; an unhackable quantum internet; a feast of wonders at the next stage of culture and development. (See graphic at this link for all of these technologies.) And none of that will happen unless the disaster we're headed for is avoided. Any movie set in 2030, that doesn't have global chaos as its backdrop, is set on a planet none of are living on, unless we effectively address global warming now.

If a meteor were approaching the earth, the will of the world would be bent toward salvation. Global warming is that meteor. No one with any power is acting appropriately.

Those with power, of course, are paid not to act. For example:

And those without power — the mass of the public — are encouraged by a well-paid media campaign not to act. Many in that mass, our aggressive climate deniers, are in fact deliberately in the way. Many of those aggressive climate deniers are our sisters, fathers, neighbors, friends, co-workers. What's a morally appropriate response to climate deniers, even among our friends?

Consider this from Eric Anderson, first published at Ian Welsh's excellent site (lightly edited; emphasis added):
Shun the Climate Change Deniers

I have a little boy. He is my first, and most likely, only child — and he is everything to me.

I once thought that I knew what love is. I am still learning that I had no idea I could love anyone so deeply. I would lay my life down for him in a heartbeat, and will viciously attack any who dare threaten it.

There are those that threaten it every day.

Those that, in the past, I have professed to love and who, in turn, profess to love my son:

They are my parents.
They are my older sisters.
They are my Aunt, and my Uncle.

They move their mouths as they profess their love for my son, but I know in my heart that it’s not true. They are lying to both him and themselves.

They are lying because they are climate change deniers.

Because they vote for people, parties, policies and platforms that are actively contributing to the destruction of the planet my son depends on for his future survival. [...]

I ask them, “If there were even the tiniest chance you could be wrong, why would you risk the future of your family?” To which, they consistently reply in some manner of, “Well, it doesn’t matter anyway. I’m so old I’ll be long gone.” And so, their words of love are hollow. They are selfish. They are hypocrites. They are killers.

They care more about their ideology, than they care for my son. I have to call them what they are.

Therefore, if I continue to profess my love for both them and my son, what does that make me? What does that make the man who professes that he is willing to go to any lengths to try and ensure that his son has a future that doesn’t read like a dystopian novel? A future wherein, my son doesn’t look at me and say “Daddy, why didn’t you do something???”

To do both makes me the hypocrite. But I’m not a hypocrite.

Which is why I have made the decision to shun them all.

They need to feel the repercussions of their actions.

Everyone one of them do. Immediately. There is simply no time to lose. [...]

I exhort you to do the same, if indeed, the love you profess for your children is true.

We all must shun the climate change denying hypocrites that profess to love us from one side of their face, while they sell our future down the road with the other. Enough is enough.

Please think hard about joining me in shunning them all.
"Shun them" means to cut off all social interaction. Remove them completely and totally from your life. Sit shiva for them and declare them dead to you. Shunning is a non-violent act, but a public declaration, and frankly it's the mildest of responses. (For contrast, consider a Jack Reacher response to those who enable what kills.)

Anderson admits the extremity of this act: "I would be lying if I told you this isn’t the most difficult decision of my life."

And yet: If a neighbor cheers a murder as you watch, how should he then be treated? If an aunt cheers an active genocide as you watch, how should she then be treated? What if the genocide included you and your children?

It's the same here. If a person is seduced by Fox News for reasons of hate — the Fox News product is entirely hate, and its viewers watch it just for that — and thus helps choke the life from the species you share, how should that person be treated?

Like a man who verbally backs the wife in a dispute, when you back the husband? Or like an accessory to murder?

Something to think about...


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Ted Lieu Is Not Running For President... But Everyone Else Is


I am certain that Ted Lieu is not running for president because:
1- Ted and his wife want him to spend weekends with his two young sons— and you can’t do that when you’re running for president
2- Ted’s parents brought him to the U.S. from Taiwan when he was a child, making him constitutionally ineligible to be president.
Ted is virtually the only member of Congress who’s made a name for himself who isn’t running, or at least floating trial balloons about running. I have an idea that Bernie may make his announcement later in the month which could make some of the minor candidates back down. I hope so. As I’ve mentioned before, I have persuaded myself that I’m entitled to have one great president in my lifetime and I don’t see an alternative, not now and not on the horizon. And think how fabulous it would be for the country— and how needed after the worst— and I hesitate to use the word— “president” in history, bar none.

First the conservative careerists with nothing to offer at all:
Career-long corporate whore Joe Biden
The coffee guy who thinks the Democrats are moving too far left and has organized a team of Republicans to cheerlead for him
Money bags Mike Bloomberg
Conservative congressman and corporate whore John Delaney (New Dem-MD), who didn’t run for Congress this year so he could take up full-time residence in Iowa

Former Blue Dog, Wall Street walker and the Senate’s least accomplished “big name,” Kirsten Gillibrand, the war on men opportunist who would be the best guarantee Trump could hope for for a second term

America’s most hated and possibly most corrupt governor, Andrew Cuomo
Trump shit-talker but increasingly hated Rahm Emanuel protege, Michael Avenatti
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti
Younger and even more boring version of Biden, Tim Kaine
The Senate’s most milquetoast member, Amy Klobuchar
Can he speak Spanish yet? If so… Julian Castro
Another rich guy who no one ever told about the common touch, Mark Warner
Ever hear of South Bend Indiana or its mayor Pete Buttigieg? He deserves something just for getting himself included on these lists… maybe an ambassadorship to a small island nation somewhere?
Tim Ryan, who took on Pelosi from the right and lost
Half of a bipartisan conservative unity ticket (with John Kasich), either Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick or Montana governor Steve Never Mind The Bullocks
A third conservative Virginian with nothing to offer, Terry McAuliffe, wheeler-dealer
Anyone want a southerner? Mitch Landrieu
Hillary is rumored to want to try again, this time possibly as a liberal. What does she have to lose?
I wouldn’t vote for anyone from that list. Here are some celebrities who might be liberals or conservatives or perhaps undecided:Oprah, Eric Holder, former presidential candidate and loser John Kerry, Reality TV star and billionaire Mark Cuban and Wrestler Dwayne Johnson (AKA: The Rock). There are also some senators who have decided to make themselves available as progressives. Wait, wait… first 3 actual progressives— and the only names mentioned so far I would vote for: Bernie, Elizabeth Warren and Jeff Merkley. Also in this group is Sherrod Brown but I wouldn’t vote for him. Now the folks in liberal guise: Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, although Kamala could find up as a ticket-balancer for Bernie is the Bernie/Warren thing doesn’t work out, which doesn’t appear to be getting off the ground.

Let’s see… more people—members of Congress— who are just wasting everyone’s time, Tulsi Gabbard (no loner a Bernie die-hard?), Seth Moulton, Massachusetts’ most conservative Democrat, Joe Kennedy III, BETO, Eric Swalwell who’s good on MSNBC.

Over the summer Mike Bloomberg was struttng around the Bohemian Grove telling anyone who would listen that he’s running. Many of the others have also hired staff, which I suppose indicates seriousness. But if this list smacks of desperation and opportunism— other than Bernie— how about Richard Ojeda, the Bernie primary voter in West Virginia who then voted for Trump in the general and last week lost an election he looked like he might win for Congress? I think Ryan Grim has been taken in by him, but I might be wrong about that. Grim broke the news yesterday. “Ojeda’s case for his candidacy,” he wrote, “is straightforward: The Democratic Party has gotten away from its roots, and he has a unique ability to win over a white, black, and brown working-class coalition by arguing from a place of authority that Trump is a populist fraud. He’s launching his campaign with an anti-corruption focus that draws a contrast with Trump’s inability to ‘drain the swamp.’”

His biggest selling point is that he refused to vote for Hillary Clinton, “seeing her as an embodiment of the party’s drift toward the elite.” I sympathize… but that’s not enough for a presidential candidate.

Much winnowing needed, the sooner the better... Although I fear even more terrible candidates will toss their names into the hat before we start getting some drop-outs.

UPDATE: Bloomberg

I love this essay by Kate Albright-Hanna that ran last week in City&State New York. She doesn’t want to see Bloomberg buy the presidency any more than I do and the short version of her piece is that “the mogul’s corporate ideology gutted the city and would do the same to the country.”

He recently spent around $100 million of his $51.8 billion helping to elect Democrats-- almost exclusively corporate conservative candidates. That’s like you contributing $1,000 to a candidate. And… he registered as a Democrat. “His recent moves ,” wrote Albright-Hanna, “warm the hearts of centrist pundits who believe his orderliness, love of data and great wealth are ‘antidotes’ to Trump.” I was born and raised in New York. It’s my home town. I stopped going there because of what Bloomberg did to it. Albright-Hanna explained:

According to reports, New York City is under siege, vanishing, empty or already dead as a result of the “Bloomberg Way”-- the concept of the mayor as CEO, businesses as clients, citizens as consumers, and the city as a product that’s branded and marketed. Bloomberg’s corporate worldview drained the color out of New York City-- a sterile, relentless kind of destruction that dehumanized its victims with the logic of the market. When he imagined what the city could be, his mind settled on a high-end mall filled with expensive accessories-- and that, increasingly, is what it has become. “If New York City is a business, it isn’t Walmart-- it isn’t trying to be the lowest-priced product in the market,” he explained at an economic conference in 2003. “It’s a high-end product, maybe even a luxury product.” If you couldn’t afford the product, the Bloomberg Way was to push you out.

Bloomberg invited global investors to knock down old brick buildings and erect glassy, lifeless towers of secrecy that housed the wealth of foreign oligarchs and kleptocrats-- but not many actual people who live in New York, pick up their dry cleaning and buy coffee at the local bodega. Not only did the absent owners fail to contribute to the local economy, but their property taxes were also wildly discounted-- for example, by 95 percent at One57, an ultraluxury tower in midtown Manhattan.

The billionaires were a “godsend,” according to Bloomberg, and the “bigger income gap” in the city was fine because everyone’s income was going up. For someone who purportedly loved data and math, numbers failed him here, because when median household income for all renting families goes up by 16 percent while median contract rents rise by 25 percent or more (as they did from 2005 to 2010), that’s a net loss for families-- especially when the cost of food, child care and transportation is also rising twice as fast as incomes.

In 2014, just after the end of Bloomberg’s tenure, New York University’s Furman Center estimated that more than half of renting households paid more than 30 percent of their income in rent and utilities. Rents increased more in lower-income neighborhoods than in areas with household incomes above the citywide median.

Small-business owners faced similarly daunting math: From 2004 to 2014, rents skyrocketed 89.1 percent in 16 Manhattan retail corridors while total retail sales grew by only 31.9 percent. The investment firm CBRE Group called it “an unsustainable situation.”

A surprising new phenomenon-- high-rent blight-- featured boarded-up windows where beloved local shops used to serve the community. With rent hikes that, in some cases, went from $4,000 to $40,000 per month, landlords might hold out for a global chain store or a bank. (Chase will pay $3 million a year in rent when it takes over the space occupied by Coffee Shop on Union Square.)

In a city accustomed to dizzying change, this sort of “change” was different. Where immigrants had once gotten a toehold in the city to build their dreams, global corporations now monopolized even the lowest-barrier entry points. With Bloomberg’s encouragement, they turned the owners of newsstands into renters, and imposed a steel and frosted glass uniformity onto them. A new sort of existential precarity took hold of everyone trying to make it-- as Bloomberg sought to clamp down on every rogue ice cream truck in town.

With the immigrants’ small businesses and long-standing family-owned shops and restaurants dying out, a sense of cultural transience permeated everything-- from hypergentrifying neighborhoods to vapid corporate pop-up shops. Nothing felt solid or permanent.

Bloomberg seemed totally fine with that. He offered hundreds of homeless people one-way tickets out of town, even while his policies allowed people to be pushed out of their homes. By the end of his three terms, the crisis of homelessness was setting new records, with the number of homeless families rising 83 percent during his mayoralty.

The CEO mayor, rumored to be a competent manager of complex problems, failed at every level of decision-making when tackling the problem. He took a relatively successful program that, under four previous New York City mayors, had helped more than 53,000 families move to long-term, permanent housing using Section 8 federal housing vouchers-- and disrupted it with his signature Advantage program. In 2010, he abandoned the program and left families with no assistance whatsoever to move into permanent housing.

And how did all this innovation impact the city’s bottom line-- supposedly the No. 1 metric for a CEO mayor? By expanding the temporary shelter system, expenditures rose nearly 80 percent to $1 billion. Even while the data showed that Housing First models provide an impressive return on investment, Bloomberg doubled down on harassing and ejecting people out of the shelters, relying on the art of bureaucratic stonewalling to discourage people from seeking help, based on the ridiculous premise that anyone-- even someone who just landed in New York on a private jet-- would choose a shelter when they have an alternative.

In Bloomberg’s imagination, the theoretical jet-setter is the only person who actually exists in his luxury city, and so every scenario-- even homeless shelters-- are considered in light of the global elite. It’s a distorted, deeply ideological worldview very much at odds with the claim that Bloomberg governs “based on the facts.”

Similarly, Bloomberg’s ideology leaves large gaps in basic economic logic. According to Bloomberg, homeless people should get jobs so they won’t rely on the city’s shelters. But it would be one of the “most misguided things we can do” to raise the minimum wage-- even if a full-time minimum wage job can’t cover the cost of a New York City apartment.

In 2012, Bloomberg vetoed a living wage bill for workers employed on projects that received more than $1 million in public subsidies. It would have raised the pay of approximately 500 working-class New Yorkers to $11.50 per hour or $10 plus benefits.

To review: Bloomberg was willing to pay over $6,000 to fly a homeless family out of town, but unwilling to pay housing-insecure workers a few more dollars per hour while they built the “luxury product” that Bloomberg was subsidizing with their tax dollars.

Conversely, generous handouts to corporations with no accountability are a cornerstone of the Bloomberg Way. In fiscal year 2009 alone, he gave away more than $300 million in public subsidies to 576 projects with the expectation that the payouts would create jobs. Over a decade, a city audit found that the city was owed 45,000 jobs from businesses and banks that had taken public money and failed to create jobs.

The bottom line in Bloomberg’s New York was that your value was determined by what was in your bank account. If you were wealthy enough, you could consume the luxury product he was designing for you. If you couldn’t afford it— even if you were a teacher or a nurse or someone else who built the product-- you were in the way. You deserved to be stopped and frisked, your dignity, security and freedom constantly at risk-- data be damned-- in order to protect the brand.

So, based on his record as mayor, would a Bloomberg presidency provide welcome relief from the reign of Trump?

The signature move of the Trump administration has been taking the New York real estate con, where lying is a business model, and scaling it up to the national level. In the really grand scheme of New York real estate politics, however, Donald Trump is actually a bit player-- almost anachronistic, a throwback to a time of wealthy, eccentric characters who made New York “colorful.”

As mayor, Michael Bloomberg wasn’t just a bit player in the real estate con. He orchestrated the whole real estate game in a way that turned most of us-- renters, small-business owners, wage earners, innovators and artists without trust funds-- into losers.

We’re left yearning to enjoy the bike lanes and waterfront parks that he built from the periphery, or in exile. As more of us are pushed out, we can begin to grasp the implications of a Bloomberg Nation. Let’s hope our democracy is still strong enough to resist the coming onslaught of his billions.
Better than Trump? Sure. But so is a steaming pile of dog shit that no one cleaned up-- and we don’t give the steaming pile the keys to the Oval Office.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

This is indeed your brain on FOX News! Remember that van Trump's pipe bomber fan had? Check this out! In the republican mind, this is a great ride! Think of the generations of inbreeding and meth use that goes into things like this. How much you wanna bet that it also serves as a home school for the kids! You know, the kids with fetal alcohol brain damage.

Seriously, though, in Germany in the 1920 and 1930s, it was a common practice for Nazi Party and Hitler supporters to decorate their vehicles in this exact way, and look where that went. Now that the midterm elections are done, the 2020 campaign season has begun. Can we expect to see more and more of these? As Sarah Palin (remember her?) would say, "You betcha!"

In looking at a blow up of this photo very closely, I think I can make out Sarah Huckabee Sanders behind the wheel. I could be wrong. It might be her dad.

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Sunday, November 11, 2018

Trump Rains On The Parade In Paris


Trump made an ass of himself on the international stage again and disgraced our country, as he always does. He’s a hateful little turd who thinks he can bully foreign leaders the way he bullies the cowardly careerists in his own party. He respects Putin— even seems to genuinely like him— and no one else.

Jonathan Swan reported this evening that he’s “as jazzed as ever about hitting foreign-made cars with steep tariffs. Just about every member of his senior economic team besides Peter Navarro believes this is a terrible idea. But they haven’t swayed him. With each passing month, his zest for car tariffs only swells. Trump now views the threat of car tariffs as his best leverage over negotiating partners. He has privately told aides that he got a better trade deal with Canada because he threatened Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with car tariffs. And he says the same about the Europeans, according to sources briefed on his thinking… Trade law dictates that Defense Sec. James Mattis must provide a national security justification for any new auto tariffs. A source who spoke to Mattis more than a month ago said he was deeply skeptical about the idea, worrying that big new car tariffs could further strain relationships with allies. Mattis has not, however, made any final decision.”

And speaking of bullying, , which is sees as a foreign colony and can’t seem to conceive as an integral part of the U.S., a product of his lifelong prejudice and ugly bigotry and racism. He “doesn't want to give Puerto Rico any more federal money for its recovery from Hurricane Maria, White House officials have told congressional appropriators and leadership. This is because he claims, without evidence, that the island’s government is using federal disaster relief money to pay off debt. Trump also told senior officials last month that he would like to claw back some of the federal money Congress has already set aside for Puerto Rico's disaster recovery, claiming mismanagement.”

Fearful of his make-up running and his “hair” getting messed up, he avoided the ceremony honoring fallen U.S. servicemen from WWI, clowning himself again in Paris. Peter Baker reported in the NY Times today that Trump also avoided the kind of camaraderie other foreign leaders got into in Paris over the weekend. He’s always the odd man out, the sulking asshole everyone hates but has to pretend to respect. Trump and Putin managed to make “a ceremony meant to celebrate the ties that bind the world today [instead something that] in effect showcased the divisions that are pulling it apart.”
Dozens of leaders from around the globe marched in the soaking rain down the Champs Élysée on Sunday, expressing solidarity for an international order that had its origins in the end of a world war 100 years ago, an order now under increasing pressure on both sides of the Atlantic.

Only after these leaders arrived by foot at the Arc de Triomphe did President Trump show up, protected from the rain as he made an individual entrance. A few minutes later, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia did the same.

…No one has done more to break up the postwar global system in the last couple of years than Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin. As the anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I was commemorated on Sunday, Mr. Trump’s brand of “America First” nationalism was rebuked from the podium while he sat stone-faced and unmoved, alienated from some of America’s strongest allies, including his French hosts.

…“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism,” President Emmanuel Macron of France said in a speech at the Arc de Triomphe, welcoming the leaders and extolling an old system now under siege. “Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism by saying: ‘Our interest first. Who cares about the others?’”

Recalling the forces that led to World War I, Mr. Macron warned that “the old demons” have been resurfacing and declared that “giving into the fascination for withdrawal, isolationism, violence and domination would be a grave error that future generations would very rightly make us responsible for.”

Mr. Trump, who recently declared himself “a nationalist,” appeared grim as he listened to the speech through an earpiece and clapped only tepidly afterward. He had no speaking role and made no mention of the issues Mr. Macron raised during an address later at a cemetery for American soldiers killed in the war.

The ceremony led by Mr. Macron encapsulated the tension in the international arena as Mr. Trump seeks to rewrite the rules that have governed the world in recent decades. He has abandoned international agreements on trade, nuclear proliferation and climate change, and disparaged alliances like NATO and the European Union.
How do you stop this guy?

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The Emperor Has No Mind


by Noah

Nixon was pretty damn bad. We knew he was a bad guy. He’d given some signs of mental instability too, perhaps most notably with his 1962 “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore” speech. Sadly we did 6 years later. But, it wasn’t until he was heading for his exit that we learned just how wacked out he was. Now we have Donald Trump. Like with Nixon, the signs were there before he got "elected" President. It was even more obvious, but his voters went to the parade and saw what they wanted to see and saw what they were told to see by the corporate media.

What we have here in Donald Trump and his supporters is a variation of the old Emperor Has No Clothes thing. He acts like he should be bowed down to by all, as if he was an emperor or dictator. His enablers and supporters look at him and they refuse to see the reality that their "president" is stark, raving mad and could destroy us all, including them, if he isn’t stopped. A madman can lose his mind but that doesn’t mean he can’t plot his trajectory, and ours, every day.

Crazy as he is, he is able to deliberately create chaos. He does it in order to achieve a result. History and comic books are full of truly evil and demented people like Donald Trump. Consider Trump a real life example of The Joker from the Batman comics, a twisted man bent on creating mayhem simply for his own gratification and personal gain.

On Wednesday, the day after the elections turned over the control of the House of Representatives to the Democrats, Trump was fuming and panic stricken over what he correctly saw as a rapidly coming future of at least some level of reckoning. For the first time in his life, at least since he and his father lost a racial bias court case or two in New York, Trump stands to face, if not some accountability, some high profile exposure of his misdeeds and criminality. He knows that his obsequious cabana boy, California Rep. Devin Nunes, is no longer in charge of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Come January, California's Rep. Adam Schiff will be.

So, what was a sniveling caged rat in a freaked out panic state of feverish mental illness like Donald Trump to do? Ever the marketing man, he knew a smokescreen, a distraction was required and it had to be an elaborate one. He would hold a long and rambling press conference. Don’t look over there! Look here! He would pretend the takeover of the House was meaningless, almost never happened. Takeover? What takeover? Ditto for the losses of governorships and state legislatures. He would play up the Senate victories and he would display his vile, virulent pettiness and mock those in his own party who lost House and Senate races as getting what they deserved for not embracing and praising him at every opportunity. He would, once again, attack the press as “the enemy of the people” when it is only the perceived enemy of himself. His mobster-style message to all was “If you don’t kiss my ring and kiss my ass, then bad things will happen to you.“ In so doing, he once again displayed his massive insecurities and psychosis; something a person in full control of their mind would never do, certainly not live on national TV.

As if to deliberately reveal how far gone Trump’s aides are, one of them was heard to say words to the effect that “this is going to be great” as Trump waddled into the room to give his version of the theater of the absurd. What followed could just be titled “President Crazy Pants Loses It On National TV For An Hour And A Half” or, perhaps, “The Crackup Of A President” or some thing similar.

It backfired. Trump could not control his mind and he went off the deep end. He went way too far. He was more than confrontational, petulant and belligerent as he fumbled at his podium and stalked around it aimlessly like a deranged street person. His mental illness is in full bloom now. It's more out in the open than ever before. Only his support group of fellow crazies could possibly look at the actual film of the press conference and see it otherwise and they did. FOX “News” reported that CNN reporter Jim Acosta “strong-armed” a female intern who Trump had sent to seize his microphone. Nothing could be further from the truth of course, as film of the entire incident clearly shows, but FOX “News” and their White House partner showed the public a doctored version of the film of the incident that had been made by another one of Trumpanzee’s favorite “news” outlets, Alex Jones’ Infowars. When you’re afflicted with Republican Insanity Syndrome, the truth is not the truth.

The White House’s presentation of the Alex Jones video recreation of the Acosta incident did nothing to change the minds of sane people but it was a real Goebbels moment. In tandem with their presentation of genuinely fake news, however, the White House revoked Jim Acosta’s White House press credentials. Trump sent out Sarah Huckabbee Sanders to lie to the world about what everyone had seen with their own eyes on live TV; and lie she did with all of her customary great fervor; falsely accusing Acosta of putting his hands on the female intern. It was a perfect manifestation of the Republican “truth is not the truth” way of life. That girl Sarah was born to lie! But, born of what, who knows?

I’m actually happy for Acosta. I know he must be disappointed and frustrated at the turn of events but I know I wouldn’t want the job of visiting an insane asylum every day forever. Having to constantly look in on the insane likes of sociopaths like Stephen Miller, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Kellyanne Conway, John Kelly and all the rest of Trump’s servile toadies is bound to take its toll. It has to be one of the very most depressing jobs in journalism, right up there with seeing kids in cages, reporting on people who are doomed to die simply because they can’t afford proper medical care, or listening to Eric and Donnie Jr. talk.

Once the whole press conference debacle blew up in their faces, Trump and his White House needed yet another “event” to redirect the spotlight yet again. They came up with a doozy, they pulled out AG Jeff Sessions’ resignation “at your request” letter. Yeah, that’s going over real big, just like Nixon’s infamous Saturday Night Massacre. Sessions is now free to go home to Alabama and bake swastika cookies for the rest of his days, but odds are, he will try to run for the Senate. Oh joy!

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Will The New Congress Be Able To Accomplish Anything Substantive?


Is there anything the new Congress can do is a question many people are asking. As we saw earlier today, potential— if absurd— presidential candidate, putatively as a Democrat, Howard Schultz, the Starbucks guy, is worried that the Democratic Party is wandering too far left. He’s an idiot. Norman Solomon, in an essay for TruthOut, is far more on the mark. He notes that pundits and conservatives are urging Democrats away from popular policies that are embraced by most Americans, if not by the super-wealthy. “We should expect plenty of such advice during the months ahead as Democrats take control of the House for the first time in eight years,” he wrote. It may sound prudent to urge ‘affordable health care’ instead of Medicare for All, or ‘subsidies for community colleges’ instead of tuition-free public college. But such positions easily come across as wonky mush that offers no clear alternative to a status quo that played a role in driving populist anger into the arms of the right wing in the first place.”

One problem is that the conservative Democrats from the Republican wing of the party is exactly who the DCCC stocked the new Congress with. Many of the winners campaigned on “affordable healthcare,” for example, instead of on Medicare-for-All. Unfortunately, not many progressive were elected. The DCCC saw to that in candidate recruitment and candidate support. Plenty of Republican-lite careerists were elected. “When political campaigns are deeply authentic from the grassroots,” wrote Solomon, “they serve as compost to prepare the ground for future victories. In sharp contrast, there’s little left to build on after Election Day in the wake of top-down campaigns that promote moderate notions in response to extremely dire problems. While commonly applauded by mass media, centrism smothers the fires of grassroots excitement.” So where do we go from there?
Incantations about the need for so-called moderate policies do little to stimulate a big turnout from the Democratic base— and other voters— oriented to voting against Republican candidates if their opponents draw sharp contrasts between advocacy for economic justice and flackery for de facto oligarchy.

Surveys show that voters are hungry for genuinely progressive policies that have drawn little interest from mainstream media outlets. For instance, polling of the US public shows:
76 percent support higher taxes on the wealthy.
70 percent support Medicare for All.
59 percent support a $15 minimum wage.
60 percent support expanded tuition-free college.
69 percent oppose overturning Roe v. Wade.
65 percent support progressive criminal justice reform.
59 percent support stricter environmental regulation.
Yet such popular positions are routinely ignored or denigrated by elite political pros who warn that such programs are too far left for electoral success. The same kind of claims assumed that Bernie Sanders would never get beyond single digits in his 2016 presidential campaign.

The midterm election results have made Nancy Pelosi the likely next House speaker. Although habitually bashed by Fox News and other right-wing outlets as an ultra-liberal villain, Pelosi has declared allegiance to fiscal centrism and ongoing militarism that forecloses implementing a progressive political agenda.

In September, as House minority leader, Pelosi precluded any potential left-populist agenda by backing reinstatement of a “pay-go” rule to offset all new spending with tax increases or budget cuts. A former legislative director for three Democrats in Congress, Justin Talbot-Zorn, responded with an article on The Nation’s website pointing out that “bold progressivism and ‘pay-go’ fiscal conservatism are mutually exclusive.” He wrote: “The issues of America’s rising inequality and frayed social contract— including stagnant wages, unaffordable college, and exorbitant health care can only be fixed with major new investments.”
And challenges to Pelosi and coming from the far right of the Party, Blue Dogs with the worst of the New Dems. Congressional progressives seem to just twiddle their thumbs to see what will happen to them. Meanwhile, How about if Congress tries for some great policy that should be adoptable in a bipartisan fashion? Most Americans want big money out of politics. That would be a smart policy for the Democrats to pursue.

Voters overwhelmingly support reform that would include reducing the influence of big money in politics and requiring full disclosure of all money being raised and spent to influence elections. Backing for legislative action is cross-partisan with 85% of Democrats, 81% of independents, and even 78% of Republicans in support. This is something the new Congress could accomplish in a bipartisan way that voters would be really happy with— even if the big donors of both sides of the aisle, as well as certain party leaders from both sides of the aisle, would oppose.

Last week, Simone Pathé, writing for Roll Call reported that three-quarters of Democratic challengers in top races are rejecting corporate PAC money. Rejecting corporate PAC money is easy for a candidate, since they never get offered anyway. What happens when they’re a member with checks being waved under their nose-- either directly from lobbyists or indirectly from party leaders who routinely launder dirty money with a wink and a nod. (Example, anyone who has ever taken a contribution from Wasserman Schultz was taking money from Wall Street, the private prison industry, pay-day lenders, Big Sugar, etc. Hoyer gets his money from sources just as shady.) How will new member navigate that piece of the swamp? How many incumbents currently reject corporate money? I know Ro Khanna and Beto O’Rourke do, maybe a few more— and a few members from both parties reject corporate money from sources that have anything to do with the jurisdiction of the committees they serve on. But those are very rare exceptions.

Some of the new candidates who made the no corporate PAC pledge are, ironically, New Dems, a group within the party that is completely based on bundle dirty corporate cash, particularly from Wall Street, for their members. It’s not easy to imagine characters like Jason Crow (New Dem-CO), Abigail Spanberger (New Dem-VA), Anthony Brindisi (NRA-NY), Max Rose (New Dem-NY), Conor Lamb (New Dem-PA), Elissa Slotkin (New Dem-MI) sticking to this long without a law forcing them too.
These candidates did get pushback from members of Congress— and some still encounter lobbyists who pressure them to go back on their pledges.

“I got a lot of angry phone calls from senior Democrats,” Slotkin said. Democratic elected officials told New Jersey’s Tom Malinowski his stance would make the campaign harder. Similarly, [Andy] Kim was told to consider all the resources he’d be giving up if he won and ran as an incumbent.

…[E]ven with so many candidates now rejecting PAC money of some kind, there’s still skepticism amongst some D.C. lobbyists and fundraisers, whose business model depends on incumbents taking the money… “This could really be a problem not this cycle, but next cycle when Democrats have a huge map to defend and a lot of candidates in competitive seats who are leaving a million dollars on the table,” said one Democratic lobbyist, who argued that rejecting corporate PAC cash, which is fully disclosed, shouldn’t necessarily be a priority for overhauling campaign finance.

…More than 100 Democratic candidates signed on to a letter last month “to put Congress on notice” and demand that leaders address the issue.

But any campaign finance overhaul is unlikely to become law with Republicans expected to hold on to the Senate and with Trump still in the White House.

Even if a proposal stalls in a divided Congress, candidates who have rejected corporate PAC money say they will keep their promises.

“There’s two options here. One is Max continues to maintain his federal lobbyist and corporate PAC pledge and contribute as a member of Congress,” Rose said. “Or two, Max Rose is no longer a member of Congress.”

It will be interesting to see how party leaders, who accrue and maintain power by their ability to raise immense amounts of money from the sewer, will de-rail this tendency— and have no, illusions… de-rail it they will… or die trying. Without the pay for play system, creeps like Steny Hoyer, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Steve Scalise and Kevin McCarthy would be what, exactly? Back-benchers competing in a world of ideas where they have no footing whatsoever?

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The Democrats-- And The Country-- Cry Out For A Champion... It's Not The Starbucks Guy, No Matter How Many P.R. People He Hires


Howard Schultz, left of Trump... right of the Democratic Party

If there’s one thing that people seem to think Trump proved is that virtually anyone can run for president. I suspect, though, that once he’d finally driven out of office, that isn’t going to be a consensus. But in 2020 several ambitious but questionably-qualified candidates will give it a go— unaccomplished congressmen, freshmen senators who have never done a thing but run their mouths, businessmen galore, self-entitled billionaires, cultural celebrities in the same way Trump was…

It’s hardly news that billionaire Michael Bloomberg, a Republican-Independent-Democrat— an founding member of the Mike Bloomberg Should Be President Party— intends to run (as a conservative Democrat). Nor is it news that Howard Schultz, the Starbucks guy, also thinks what the country needs after Trump is another billionaire with no political experience, namely Howard Schultz. NBC News reported that he’s been putting together an elite team to help him get the Democratic Party nomination. Political p.r. wiz Steve Schmidt’s name has been floated for months as a Schultz team honcho. He’s recently quit the Republican Party, made a name for himself among Democrats as an entertaining Trump-bashing commentator of MSNBC and quit his p.r. firm.

Schultz’s next step is “a civic-minded” book— From the Ground Up: A Journey to Reimagine the Promise of America— that his p.r. team will help him launch as a the first step in his campaign. No one knows who wrote it.
Schultz is one of the many names widely considered as a possible candidate to take on Trump in two years. In an interview with CNBC earlier this year, Schultz left the door open to a run. With experience mainly in the business world but not the political arena, Schultz would likely need experienced political operators on his side if he were to dive into presidential politics. Schmidt fits that bill.

Schmidt got to know Schultz through Edelman's partnership with Starbucks. The two have kept in touch since Schultz left Starbucks earlier this year, people familiar with the relationship have said. Schmidt has continued to do private consulting work for Schultz on a variety of issues, including guiding him ahead of his upcoming book tour.

In October, Schultz hired Cheryl Cook, a longtime executive vice president at Edelman, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter. She will be representing Schultz up until and throughout his book tour, which is expected to start in February in New York City, these people said. Cook worked at the PR firm for more than a decade and got to know Schultz directly when Starbucks was one of her clients.

…Another close advisor recruited by Schultz is Rajiv Chandrasekaran, who worked with the former Starbucks executive throughout his tenure at the company, according to a person familiar with the relationship. He joined Starbucks in 2015 to help the company work on social issues, and he followed Schultz out of Starbucks after serving as a senior vice president. He also co-authored the book For the Love of Country with Schultz. Prior to his stint at Starbucks, Chandrasekaran was a senior correspondent at the Washington Post.

People close to Schultz describe Chandrasekaran as one of his closest confidants and say he's positioned to be a pivotal voice when the coffee executive decides whether he will run for office.

…Schultz, a resident in the state of Washington, has also not met with officials from the state Democratic Party.

For his part, the former Starbucks chairman has been critical of the party in the past.

In an interview with CNBC in June, Schultz went on the offensive and said Democrats need to be careful with how far they veer to the left.

"It concerns me that so many voices within the Democratic Party are going so far to the left," Schultz said. "I say to myself, 'How are we going to pay for these things,' in terms of things like single payer [and] people espousing the fact that the government is going to give everyone a job. I don't think that's realistic."
That alone shows how utterly unqualified he is— like Trump— to jump from the business world to the political world, especially as a Democrat. Maybe he should audit a Stephanie Kelton economics class at Stony Brook on Long Island before he decides to run for office, let alone president. Or, if mainstream Democratic ideas seem too far left for him, perhaps he can start a third party— the Eisenhower Republican Party, which could combine mainstream Republicans— disgusted with Trump’s cult of personality— with the ascendant Republican wing of the Democratic Party (the Wall Street-financed New Dems and Blue Dogs). Let's see how Kyle Kulinski explained what Howard Schultz is all about-- and unqualified to head the Democratic Party... let alone the country.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

Something to think about as we celebrate Veterans Day. I dedicate this meme to President Bone Spurs.

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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Will Many 2020 GOP Candidates Want Trump's Kiss Of Death Endorsement?


People have short memories. The very first GOP incumbent running for reelection endorsed by Trump was Renee Ellmers in North Carolina. Aside from doing his carnival barker routine on Twitter, Trump recorded a robocall for her, which went out to every Republican voter in NC-02. All the far right groups backed George Holding but Trump gambled his reputation as a king-maker and party strong man on opposing them and backing Ellmers. She had been one of the first members of Congress (and the first woman member) to fully embrace his narcissistic-- not to mention racist, xenophobic and misogynistic-- campaign. Aside from Holding's own family SuperPAC, the American Foundations Committee, putting $330,580 into the race, the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity threw in $205,794 and the Club for Growth threw $787,841 into the red hot primary. Three other extremist groups, FreedomWorks, the Tea Party Patriots and the Susan B Anthony List, the lunatic fringe GOP version of EMILY's List, also jumped in to attack Ellmers. Four days before primary day Trump gave Ellmers the robocall you can hear below. He didn't give her any money or even pay for the call, but his backing for her was seen as a test of what his name meant to Republican primary voters. Although he did well in his own primary in North Carolina, he didn't do great in the Raleigh suburbs which make up much of this district. Ted Cruz had beated him in Franklin, Nash, Wilson, Chatham and Johnston counties. Ellmers lost— very badly. 5 of the 6 counties in the district went to Holding.

George Holding- 53.38%
Renee Ellmers- 23.64%
Greg Brannon- 22.99%
You’d never know it from all his bragging and gas lighting, but the Trump kiss of death extended into the general election last Tuesday. 70.9% of the candidates Trump endorsed lost to Democrats— all candidates he either held rallies for or sent out one or more of his one-size-fits-all distinctive tweets for— 39 newly dead Republican candidates, although as counting continues, several more Trump-backed candidates are losing and his win-lose number will likely be 25/75% before the end of the week. Big Trump losers in the House include Dan Donovan (NY), Karen Handel (GA), his boy Danny Tarkanian (NV), Dave Brat (VA), Kevin Yoder (KS), Randy Hultgren (IL), Katie Arrington (SC), Keith Rothfus (PA), Pete Sessions (TX), Claudia Tenney (NY), Erik Paulsen, Rod Blum (IA), John Faso (NY), Lena Epstein (MI), Mike Bishop (MI), as well as:

Yesterday, Politico gave their readers what they billed as a Sneak peek at the House Democrats’ agenda and it wasn’t only about defeating Trump in 2020. At least not according to Patriot Majority, a Clinton-oriented outfit and SuperPAC. That video below is their ad that debuted on the Sunday talking heads shows today. It will run through Thanksgiving in what they described as a six-figure TV ad buy. No mention of Medicare-For-All or… PAYGO.


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Jesus vs White Evangelicals


Wonderful video above; please watch the whole 3 minutes. It starts with GOP Jesus condemning a refugee child to a detention center. Ha, ha… right? Currently, American evangelical Christians, in selling out to TV hucksters and snake oil salesmen, have allowed their lot to be thrown in with Trump, utterly forsaking the actual Jesus. 100%. So they have the Jesus in the video instead.

A couple of weeks ago, Samuel Smith, writing for the Christian Post reported, that according to new polling data from the Public Religion Research, ”most white evangelicals say immigration, increasing racial diversity harms America. White evangelical protestants are the only religious demographic in the United States in which the majority views immigrants as a ‘threat’ to American values and sees the country's increasing racial diversity as a bad thing, a new survey has found.”

That’s what they’ve come to believe, the hell with Jesus’ message. And they’re “at odds with all other identified religious groups on many questions relating to immigration, race, the #MeToo movement” and of course, the illegitimate, fake “president.” And their self-satisfied bigotry goes well beyond the abortion issue. In contrast to their anti-Jesus beliefs, 80% of black Protestants, 75% of religiously unaffiliated, 74% of Hispanic Catholics, 73% of non-Christian religious Americans, 52% of white mainline Protestants and white Catholics hold a negative opinion of Señor Trumpanzee and his fascist orientation and policies.
While white evangelicals are known for having strong conservative stances on issues like same-sex marriage and abortion, the survey showed that white evangelicals are the religious group most opposed to immigrants and immigration.

As data shows that the U.S. will become a minority white nation by the year 2045, the survey asked respondents whether or not the nation's ethnic and racial "realignment" is positive or a negative thing.

The majority of all major religious demographics surveyed said they see the realignment as positive thing except for white evangelicals. Fifty-four percent of white evangelicals surveyed said they see the U.S. becoming majority non-white as a mostly negative trend.

…When asked about the growing number of "newcomers" to the United States, white evangelicals (57 percent) were the only major religious group to have a majority say that immigrants "threaten traditional American customs and values."

…PRRI also found that although most Americans oppose a hypothetical law to ban refugees around the world from being able to come to the United States, about half of white evangelicals (51 percent) would support such a law. Almost as many white mainline Protestants (47 percent) said they support a refugee ban.

The data also finds that white evangelicals were the group least likely to oppose a policy of separating immigrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border.

A majority (56 percent) of white evangelicals opposed such a policy while 68 percent of white mainline Protestants, 69 percent of white Catholics and 71 percent of Hispanic Catholics, 81 percent of Hispanic Protestants and 85 percent of black Protestants said the same.

When it comes to a "temporary travel ban for people from some majority-Muslim countries," 72 percent of white evangelicals favor such a policy. Meanwhile, 63 percent of white mainline Protestants and 60 percent of white Catholics also favor a temporary travel ban. Hispanic Protestants were more divided with 46 percent favoring a ban and 54 percent opposing. Thirty-four percent of Hispanic Catholics and black Protestants also favor a temporary ban on travel from some majority-Muslim countries.

…"When you look at the [PRRI] report, [marriage and abortion] are a very low priority for Republicans and for white evangelicals. The real key to understanding white evangelicals is through their anti-immigrant attitudes and fear of demographic change," [author and professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland Janelle] Wong explained. "They are the group that is most conservative on the travel ban. They are also the most conservative of family separation, which to many people is a moral issue."

"They are also the only religious group to contend that immigrants threaten American values," she added. "It is really this potent mix of nativism and racial anxiety and white Christian nationalism that underlines many of the other policy attitudes that you see presented in this report."

While 69 percent of Americans feel that Trump has "damaged the dignity of the presidency," White evangelicals are the only religious group to have a majority (53 percent) that says that Trump has not "damaged the dignity of the presidency."

"Why do they stick with Trump?" Wong asked during the panel. "Because Trump's immigration agenda is the white evangelical immigration agenda. I think that has become very clear."

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

Brian Kemp, the proud new face of White Nationalism. It's time for the Republican Party and the conservative movement to change its names?

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