Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Midnight Meme Of The Day!

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by Noah

The Trump administration has introduced us to yet another name and face for evil. That name and face is the name and face of Kirstjen Nielsen. Nielsen is Herr Trump's Chief of Homeland Security, or "die Homeland" as they probably call it in the White House. When asked by the White House press corps why we were only seeing film and photos of male refugees in cages, she acted, and I mean acted, in her ice cold nazi-like contempt, like it was news to her. She even claimed that she didn't know what photos reporters were talking about even though they've been running like a loop on TV (Well, maybe not Rupert Murdoch's Republican channel or Alex Jones). She played her own loop of evilly disingenuous, smart ass word games about not knowing about the photos; "Photos? What photos? She took the attitude that she didn't understand what the fuss was about when reporters wanted to know the whereabouts of toddlers and young girls stolen from their parents by the Trump jackboots, the same jackboots that laugh and make jokes about the cries and terror of their captives. Either Nielsen doesn't care or she knows perfectly damn well what's happening with those kids in her Kiddie Internment Camps.

Kirstjen Nielsen. Remember that name. It's the kind of name that Republicans prefer our immigrants to have. Names don't get any whiter than that, but that's why she's got the job she has. You could look at her contempt for anyone who wanted to know the additional horrible details and see the result of decades of republican wet dreaming. Just how much further will they go, and how much further will we enable them, and their kind, to go?

When it comes to Kirstjen Nielsen, you could say, "Meet the new Sarah Huckabee Sanders." The job position is different but whereas Sanders only went as far as displaying the complete lack of empathy of an Ayn Randian psychopath, i.e. the apple of the eye of the current Republican Speaker of the House, Nielsen was put before the press and the nation Monday to take the White House theme of depraved indifference yet another step further into outright evil. Imagine being in charge of knowing where the babies and young girls are and how or if they are being properly cared for, and not even caring enough to know the details. If she does know, then that is even more evil. Either way, there's that contempt of that not caring and then going out before the entire world and just cavalierly saying you don't know, or, basically say "Is there a problem?" Some terrorists hide behind a mask. Some hide behind their smirk.

The press doesn't get off easy either. Yes, I'm glad that they are asking the questions about the whereabouts of the stolen children, but the reason we are only seeing pictures of the young males is beyond obvious. It's a marketing ploy and the press needs need to shout that fact from the rooftops. It's the kind of marketing ploy that Republicans are so extraordinarily adept at: marketing fear, not the fears of the children and their parents but the fears of reptilian Republican voters. The reason we are only seeing pictures of young males, some who look as old as 18 or 19 is that it plays into the Trumpist narrative that all young males of color are gang members, MS-13 and all that. It's the Republican politics of fear being played to the hilt as they use children as pawns and bargaining chips in furtherance of their white supremacist agenda. Stephen Miller, John Kelly, Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump. Add Kirstjen Nielsen to that list of racist horror. Add Kellyanne Conway who just defended their actions in the name of Catholicism. You might as well add the names of all who work in the Trump White House. With any luck and if we actually get out of this nightmare of neo-nazi Trumpism, all of the names of those who work in today's White House will be remembered by history. That's the wall we should build; a wall in Lafayette Park across the barricaded street in front of the White House, a wall with all of their names, every, single, one, of, them, a wall where future generations can all go a spit, while future republicans complain that we are spitting on their heritage. Think of the irony of a White House goon like Conway citing a religion that has its own issues of how children are treated. Maybe that's OK, too, if you're a republican. Just wait 'till we here about all sorts of abuse, sexual and otherwise, coming from these camps. You have to know that that is only a matter of time.

The reason we haven't seen the photos of toddlers and young women; the reason the press needs to name is that photos of toddlers and girls would engender sympathy. They would engender feelings of humanity, something Trump and those who work for him can't stand. They don't show the girls because just look at the reaction that picture of the sobbing two-year-old got. That picture will get a Pulitzer and go down in history as being as powerful as the Pulitzer-winning photo of the girlnaked and napalmed Vietnamese girl did decades ago, in Nixon's time. Those pictures are photo-journalism at its best, and they are why fascists hate journalists. Now it's up to the press to tell all, not just half. In the meanwhile, we will get some staged photos of happy, well-cared for toddlers and young girls in an attempt to quiet things and mollify us. How long before we see a photo op of Ivanka or some republican congresscretin like Rep. Marsha Blackburn or Sen. Joni Ernst, wearing new MAGA hats available at Trump.com. for the low, low price of $49.99, visiting a "cleaned up for presentation" detention center. I can just see Ivanka asking a little girl if she knows how to make shoes.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

How Much Did Self-Funding Help In The California Congressional Races?

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Gil Cisneros, the DCCC's staff's idea of a candidate

There were a lot of candidates willing to spend over $500,000 of their own money to buy a place in the general election run-off. None of the big spenders came in first and most of them failed to come in second, which is what they would have needed to get into the general election. These are the 3 districts, all in Orange County, where multimillionaires spent over half a million in the effort. All but one of the big self-funders are Democrats, in part due to the DCCC's repulsive obsession with recruiting wealthy self-funders. In some cases they actually hurt themselves by recruiting more than one self funder in a single district. The DCCC recruited both Gil Cisneros and Mai Khanh Tran in the 39th and Harley Rouda and Hans Keirstea in the 48th, a race that still hasn't be called.

Worse yet, in the 39th, Cisneros is such an abysmal candidate that unless the blue wave is an absolute tsunami, he's unlikely to be able to win the general election. What the DCCC has done is cede the best target in Orange County to the Republicans just because Cisneros is such a big spender, his only "qualification" for office.

The vote counts are as of last Saturday, June 16 and the money totals are of May 16

CA-39
Gil Cisneros (D)- 25, 291 (19.3%)- $3,552,762
Andy Thorburn (D)- 12,046 (9.2%)- $2,785,900
Herbert Lee (D)- 5,456 (4.2%)- $800,000
Mai Khanh Tran (D)- 6,793 (5.2%)- $730,000
CA-48
Harley Rouda (D)- 29,178 (17.2%)- $1,130,500
Omar Siddiqui (D)- 8,384 (5%)- $764,820
Hans Keirstead (D)- 29,292 (17.3%)- $730,400
CA-49
Paul Kerr (D)- 7,707 (4.5%)- $4,112,728
Sara Jacobs (D)- 27,154 (15.7%)- $1,587,831
Brian Maryott (R)- 5,133 (3.0%) $700,000

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Is Every Single Thing Just A Distraction For The Unprecedented Kleptocracy?

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Today, Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, told a Bloomberg editor at the Economic Club of New York that he thinks Señor Trumpanzee is just bluffing about starting a trade war. "That’s what you’d do if it was a negotiating position and you wanted to remind your negotiating counterparty of how much firepower you have. I don’t think we’re in a suicide pact on this, so I suspect we’re not going to cause the economies to collapse... I do think-- as some people have commented-- that this is part of a negotiating pattern, that would be my best take." And no one knows what a gaslighting bullshit artist Trump is?

Jeremy Zipple is a film maker and Jesuit priest in San Antonio at Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine. He had a couple of powerful tweets over the weekend, aimed right at Señor Trumpanzee: "2600 years ago, one prophet named Isaiah said, 'Woe unto those who legislate evil'-- that’s actually scripture--'and rob the poor of their rights and make women and children their prey'" and "US Catholic bishops seem to be gearing up for a full on fight on this issue during an election year.

But suppose Trump feels enough pressure to finally give in on this, which I suspect will happen, maybe even fire far right racist neo-Nazi and crackpot Stephen Miller and make him the scapegoat. Although... Bannon doesn't agree that Trump is going to fold on this and that its core to his campaign promises and absolutely fabulous. Yesterday he told Jonathan Karl on This Week that listening to his inner voice Señor Trumpanzee "is going to lead-- write this down-- that’s going to lead to an astounding victory in November, where he’s going to run the tables in the House and he’s going to pick up a couple seats in the Senate... Trump is accomplishing everything he committed to the American people on the campaign that I stepped in as CEO. I couldn’t be prouder of the guy. All he has to do is continue to hit those marks on that whiteboard and he’s going to run the tables."

Yes, write this down. Or don't; write this down, an article by Francis Wilson for Bloomberg instead: New York’s Case Against Trump May Be Prophetic. But not prophetic in the same way Zipple talks about prophetic-- prophetic for the courts and for the members of Congress who have to vote on impeachment in 2019. It starts with Trump being an absolutely slimy crooked businessman, worst I've ever seen... and I've seen some bad ones.
The report released by the inspector general of the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Thursday painted a vivid picture of the past. It shows that in 2016, James Comey, then the FBI director, inexcusably broke the rules in advertising his department’s investigation into Hillary Clinton while simultaneously following the rules in keeping its investigation of Donald Trump under wraps.

Trump has already mischaracterized the report, in the way Trump routinely does. But it’s unclear, ultimately, how much all this history matters politically.

For a more prophetic vision of the future, you should read the complaint against Trump, his children and his foundation by New York State Attorney General Barbara Underwood.

Why prophetic? Because it’s likely a preface to the report or complaint that special counsel Robert Mueller will bring. The alleged crimes described by Underwood are not similar to those being investigated by Mueller. But the behavior is.

One stumbling block to public understanding of the Mueller probe, in addition to a steady stream of propaganda and lies designed to undermine it, is that it’s hard for even a cynic to accept the premises of what is being investigated.

U.S. history simply doesn’t offer a lot of reference points for a major-party political candidate who so casually subverts the law and sells out the nation’s highest values. How many Richard Nixons are there?

Someone seems obsessed


To believe the accusations that Trump colluded with Russia, laundered vast amounts of money and/or put American foreign policy on the auction block in return for the enrichment of his family requires an awkward leap of faith. You have to believe this leader is both profoundly corrupt-- far more so than Nixon-- and staggeringly sloppy-- again more so than Nixon.

This is essentially the portrait that Underwood paints in the detailed accusations against the head of the Trump Foundation: that of a shady huckster who engages in “persistently illegal conduct” and is buffoonishly sloppy along the way.

To give credit where it’s due, the New York attorney general is building on the case built in 2016 by Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold, whose search for legitimate charitable activity by Trump’s foundation consistently left the reporter comically empty-handed.

What Fahrenthold detailed was Trump’s utter disregard for the law in taking in tax-deductible contributions to his foundation and proceeding to spend the money on his personal and business needs. 
New findings, for instance, show that the Trump Foundation’s largest-ever gift-- $264,631-- was used to renovate a fountain outside the windows of Trump’s Plaza Hotel.

Its smallest-ever gift, for $7, was paid to the Boy Scouts in 1989, at a time when it cost $7 to register a new Scout. Trump’s oldest son was 11 at the time. Trump did not respond to a question about whether the money was paid to register him.
Take a moment to savor that last detail. A man claiming to be worth billions of dollars-- and who certainly flaunted the lifestyle-- appears to have illegally diverted $7 from a charitable foundation to pay his son’s Boy Scouts registration fee.

Trump’s foundation is organized “exclusively for charitable, religious, scientific, literary or educational purposes either directly or by contributions to organizations that qualify as exempt organizations under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code."

Instead, as Underwood’s complaint shows clearly, he used it to pay settlements incurred in business lawsuits and to advance his 2016 political campaign. The foundation took in millions in donations for veterans. His campaign then directed the foundation to issue checks to Iowa veterans groups in advance of the Iowa caucuses as he sought to curry political favor.

How does Underwood know campaign personnel were involved in spending decisions? Because the Trumpsters are so recklessly contemptuous of rules that they left a trail of this blatant violation of campaign-finance law on their emails. At least one email thread included Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski weighing in on where he wanted the foundation’s tax-deductible funds directed.

The foundation also made a $25,000 contribution to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who subsequently determined that fraud charges against Trump’s university were not a proper matter for her office. The foundation listed the contribution as going to a Kansas nonprofit with the same name as Bondi’s political committee.

“The Foundation has no credible explanation for the false reporting of grant recipients to the IRS and the State of New York,” Underwood concluded.

Trump will likely claim he was uninvolved and unaware. But Underwood’s complaint has that covered, too.
Mr. Trump, who was the sole signatory on the Foundation's bank accounts, approved all grants and other disbursements from the Foundation. Accounting staff for the Trump Organization had responsibility for issuing checks from the Foundation, and issued the checks based solely on Mr. Trump's approval before presenting the checks to Mr. Trump for signature.
Indeed, the foundation’s board didn’t provide much of a check on Trump’s personal whims, owing to the fact that, in violation of the law, it “has not met since 1999 and does not oversee the activities of the Foundation in any way.”

It took the attorney general’s office months to investigate this narrow corner of the Trump universe-- even though the evidence was lying around in plain sight. Mueller’s investigation is far broader and more consequential. His complaint may yet take a while. But it should be a doozy.

Trump's rotten regime seems to have lost close to 6,000 children, after telling Congress last month that they "only" lost 1,500. "To the extent that there are problems for protection of unaccompanied children, this will only become worse as they put more kids in the unaccompanied category by ripping them away from their families," said Clara Long, U.S. researcher at Human Rights Watch. This isn't just on Trump and the people that work in his fetid swamp. Every Republican enabler in Congress who hasn't spoken up with rot in Hell with them.
The reality is the Trump administration-— and the Obama administration beforehand-- has lost track and continues to lose track of thousands of unaccompanied minors while ORR does not appear to be trying to keep track of the children once they’re placed with sponsors.

...A 2008 law signed by President George W. Bush placed all children who arrive at U.S. borders and ports of entry without a parent or guardian under the care and custody of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Under President Barack Obama this issue grabbed national attention when, in 2015, it was discovered that HHS did not require any meaningful proof that the people who presented themselves as family friends really were who they said they were.

In one high-profile case, HHS allowed six migrant children from Guatemala to be turned over to traffickers who forced them to work in grueling conditions on an Ohio egg farm.
Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice: "What’s happened is that ICE has a new policy of going after sponsors. The bigger story if not that they are losing people-- it's that ICE is terrorizing people."

Think of the basement of the Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg on July 16, 1918

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Well-Deserved Set Back For Kris Kobach In Kansas

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Kris Kobach is one of the poster children for voter disenfranchisement and xenophobia. He's currently Kansas secretary of state running for governor. According to the Wichita Eagle, a federal judge struck down his discriminatory voter law and has ordered him to take legal/civics classes

Judge Julie Robinson, in an 118-page ruling Monday, ordered a halt to the state’s requirement that people provide proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. The decision will probably mae it easier to register for the August primaries.
Judge Julie Robinson also ordered Kobach, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor, to take more hours of continuing legal education after he was found in contempt and was frequently chided during the trial over missteps.

In an 118-page ruling Monday, Robinson ordered a halt to the state’s requirement that people provide proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. The decision holds the potential to make registration easier as the August and November elections approach.

Robinson’s ruling amounted to a takedown of the law that Kobach had championed and lawmakers approved several years ago. She found that it “disproportionately impacts duly qualified registration applicants, while only nominally preventing noncitizen voter registration.” 
“If eligible Kansans’ votes are not counted despite believing they are registered to vote, it erodes confidence in the electoral system,” Robinson wrote.

She ordered Kobach not to enforce the proof of citizenship law and its accompanying regulations.

Kobach's office said he will appeal the ruling. "Judge Robinson is the first judge in the country to come to the extreme conclusion that requiring a voter to prove his citizenship is unconstitutional. Her conclusion is incorrect, and it is inconsistent with precedents of the U.S. Supreme Court," his office said in a statement.

At trial, Kobach said the law was working. Since 2000, 129 non-citizens have either registered or attempted to register. Many of them were blocked from registering by the proof of citizenship law, he said.

"The 129 is just the tip of the iceberg…we know the iceberg is much larger," he said.

The ruling is the culmination of a federal lawsuit filed in 2016. At a bench trial earlier this year, the American Civil Liberties Union and attorney Mark Johnson represented voters who said they had been impeded from registering by the law.


“This decision is a stinging rebuke of Kris Kobach, and the centerpiece of his voter suppression efforts: a show-me-your-papers law that has disenfranchised tens of thousands of Kansans. That law was based on a xenophobic lie that noncitizens are engaged in rampant elections fraud," said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project.


...Under the ruling, Kobach must instruct all state and county election officers that voter registration applicants do not need to provide proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. Registrants who have not provided proof of citizenship must be listed the same as all other registrants.

Robinson rejected Kobach’s argument that the law was needed to prohibit voter fraud. She said of the tens of thousands of people whose voter registrations have been canceled or suspended because of a lack of proof of citizenship, less than 1 percent have been confirmed to be non-citizens.

Instead of helping to block voter fraud, the law “acted as a deterrent to registration and voting for substantially more eligible Kansans than it has prevented ineligible voters from registering to vote,” she wrote.

The ruling was also a slap against Kobach as an attorney. Robinson wrote Kobach had a “well-documented history of avoiding this Court’s orders.” She repeatedly criticized Kobach’s conduct in court, noting that at least once he tried to introduce evidence despite Robinson having excluded it.

She also wrote that Kobach failed to disclose documents, and she faulted misleading testimony by one of his witnesses.

Kobach was previously fined $1,000 in the case and held in contempt.


“I have a very difficult understanding why someone with Kris Kobach’s educational pedigree can make such poor judgments repeatedly,” Rep. John Carmichael, D-Wichita, said after Monday’s ruling.

...Robinson concluded her ruling by ordering Kobach to take six additional hours of continuing legal education in addition to any other hours required for a law license.
Aside from Kobach, there are half a dozen other Republicans competing in the August 7th primary, including incumbent Jeff Colyer. The latest polling shows Colyer narrowly ahead of Kobach.

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Blue Wave Headed Toward Florida?

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The last attempt to fix some of Florida's severe gerrymandering problems created a new district up north, the fifth, that connects most of Tallahassee with most of Jacksonville and goes as far west into the panhandle as Chattahoochee. The PVI is D+12. Hillary eviscerated Trump here, 61.3% to 35.9%, Trump's worst performance in northern Florida. The first congressman elected from the new district was conservative Democrat Al Lawson, former "dean" of the state Senate.

ProgressivePunch, which grades him "F" shows that he, Blue Dogs Stephanie Murphy and Charlie Crist has the worst voting records of any Florida Democrats. A New Dem, he has the 9th worst voting record among House Democrats, made worse by the fact that he represents a deep blue Democratic district.

Normally we would over the moon that anyone as far to the right as Lawson has a primary challenge. Unfortunately his challenger, Alvin Brown, is another conservative Democrat. When Brown was elected mayor of Jacksonville in 2011 he became the first African-American mayor in Jacksonville's history and the first Democrat to be elected to the position since 1991. He was so conserative that many Democrats didn't bother coming out to the polls in 2015 and he was defeated for re-election by Republican Lenny Curry. So... yes, Al Lawson is absolutely terrible. But is it worth replacing him with someone likely to be almost as bad (if not just as bad)? Especially when a new Gravis poll showed much better news coming out of Florida this week.

The much better news is that the progressive running for governor, Andrew Gillum, is now leading in the primary and leading any Republican running for the nomination! Polling was conducted between May 31 and June 15. It found that "Florida voters are to the left of center. Voters oppose a complete abortion ban 53%-29%, a twenty-week ban 42%-39% and support LGBTQ protection from discrimination 55%-22%. They are, however, tightly split over support for sending the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexican border 45%-44%. Uncertainty remains among three issue that will be put before voters in November. Support for the citizen initiative process being the exclusive method for authorizing casinos in Florida is split at 26%-25%. Restoring voting rights for felons sits just over the required 60% threshold at 61%-30%. Finally, voters support an initiative to ban all offshore drilling 52%-29%... Voters have soured on the Republican tax reform law. In March, support was 36%-37% and has now fallen to 38%-47%. Voters indicate that they are less likely to support a candidate that supported the bill by a 42%-36% spread.

Goal ThermometerAt the same time, incongruously, Trump's approval rating has gone up-- from 41%-48% in March to 48%-52% today. "Voters are split over the performance of their other elected officials. Governor Rick Scott is slightly below water at 48%-50% while Rubio is farther in the red at 39%-56%. Voters are mixed on incumbent Democratic Senator Bill Nelson at 47%-44%." And here's where it gets exciting. Gillum, the progressive in the gubernatorial race is now leading his conservative rivals. Blue America has endorsed Andrew and you can contribute to his campaign by clicking on the 2018 gubernatorial thermometer on the right. Gillum is the most viably progressive candidate for governor in Florida’s history. He has plans to make healthcare more affordable through Medicare for All, increase spending on education and workforce training through a corporate tax adjustment and marijuana legalization, and raise the minimum wage in Florida to $15 an hour. He has helped high school students get registered to vote in the aftermath of the Parkland tragedy and, as mayor of Tallahassee, has been sued by the gun lobby twice and won both times.
Voters are beginning to decide on choices for the August Gubernatorial primaries. Undecided levels fell from 60% to 43% on the GOP side and 64% to 27% on the Democratic side. The previous poll showed Philip Levine ahead in the Democratic field 13%-11% for Andrew Gillum and 9% for Gwen Graham. The new poll shows Gillum taking the lead at 29% with Philip Levine falling to third place at 17% and Gwen Graham rebounding to 24% in second place. Gillum appears to have weathered some damaging news cycles and is now leading the pack as voters are possibly responding well to his recent debate performance, though the June 9th debate was towards the end of the field period for this poll.

“Gillum is clearly performing well in the debates and Democratic primary voters are taking notice” said Gravis Marketing Managing Partner Doug Kaplan. “The progressive wing of the party is behind him in this very close race between Gillum, Graham and Levine. Billionaire Jeff Greene is about to shakeup the race with his campaign launch.”


In the Republican field, Adam Putnam has reclaimed the lead over Ron DeSantis 29%-19%. Richard Corcoran (4%) and Bob White (5%) are currently well behind the top-two. Kaplan remarked that “The attacks on DeSantis are obviously working. Opponents have poured in money to convince Republicans that DeSantis is weak on immigration and somewhat liberal.” Kaplan concluded that “We predicted that the attacks on DeSantis were underreported and he was being damaged. One question that is up in the air is whether Trump’s endorsement will be enough to overcome those attacks.”

Moving to the general election, Democrats appear to be gaining ground on retaking the Florida Governor’s Mansion for the first time since Lawton Chiles defeated Jeb Bush in 1994. While Gwen Graham is currently performing the best in general election match-ups, both Gillum and Levine hold leads as well. Graham leads Putnam 45%-39% and DeSantis 44%-34%. Gillum beats out Putnam 42%-39% and 38%-35% over DeSantis. Levine holds leads almost identical to Graham over Putnam 43%-39% and 43%-33% over DeSantis.

The best news for Democrats in this new poll comes from the Senate race where Bill Nelson now holds a 50%-40% lead over Rick Scott. This margin was a narrower 44%-40% in March. Nelson is winning 81%-12% among Democrats and 49%-32% among independents while Scott has winning Republicans 73%-21%. Florida’s Hispanic electorate is less liberal than the nation electorate. Scott leads Nelson 40%-32% among Hispanics despite trailing Nelson 73%-20% with African Americans and 49%-43% among Caucasians. Nelson does best among women (51%-39%), but still holds a lead among men (49%-41%).

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Are Trump's Concentration Camps For Immigrant Children Going To Further Damage The GOP Brand?

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Meet Jesuit priest, James Martin author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage and Building a Bridge. He's also an editor of the Jesuit magazine America. You may know him for his appearances on Colbert's show. He has a lot of influence in the Vatican and it's worth reading between the lines in the tweet storm above. It's also worth reading Barbara Bush's Washington Post OpEd from Sunday night, Laura Bush: Separating children from their parents at the border ‘breaks my heart’. "I live in a border state," she wrote. "I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart. Our government should not be in the business of warehousing children in converted box stores or making plans to place them in tent cities in the desert outside of El Paso. These images are eerily reminiscent of the Japanese American internment camps of World War II, now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history... "Americans pride ourselves on being a moral nation, on being the nation that sends humanitarian relief to places devastated by natural disasters or famine or war. We pride ourselves on believing that people should be seen for the content of their character, not the color of their skin. We pride ourselves on acceptance. If we are truly that country, then it is our obligation to reunite these detained children with their parents-- and to stop separating parents and children in the first place."

A few hours earlier White House communications director Stephanie Grisham announced that Melania "hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform. She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart." Both sides of the aisle? Really. Her husband, Señor Trumpanzee, keeps asserting the child stealing and incarceration was forced on him by some imaginary Democratic law, instead of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions' "zero tolerance" policy meant to "send a message."
[O]ver the weekend his secretary of homeland security, Kirstjen Nielsen, flat-out denied that such a policy existed.

"We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period," Nielsen tweeted.
But the Department of Homeland Security does separate children from their parents at the border, and it just put out a press release about it on Friday, explaining its new "zero tolerance" policy for border crossers. And why have they been building concentration camps (that are now filled with children)? And why is Trump's policy tearing his own party apart?

Yesterday AP reported that Trump's ugly and inhumane policy "is also starting to divide Republicans and their allies as Democrats turn up the pressure." Susan Collins (R-ME) has signaled she won't work with the Democrats to fix anything but-- always trying to have it both ways-- said "What the administration has decided to do is to separate children from their parents to try to send a message that if you cross the border with children, your children are going to be ripped away from you. That’s traumatizing to the children who are innocent victims, and it is contrary to our values in this country."
Former Trump adviser Anthony Scaramucci said in a weekend interview that the child separation interview could be dangerous for Trump. He said the president “should be immediately fixing this problem.”

“This is a fuse that has been lit,” he said. “The president is going to get hurt by this issue if it stays out there very, very long.”

The signs of splintering of GOP support come after longtime Trump ally, the Rev. Franklin Graham, called the policy “disgraceful.” Several religious groups, including some conservative ones, have pushed to stop the practice of separating immigrant children from their parents.
Trumpanzee is meeting with House Republicans today and said he'll sign whichever bill Ryan gets through Congress, a vaguely conservative bill or the one the neo-Nazis from the Freedom Caucus and the crackpot Trumpists are pushing.



The Republicans are in a bit of a pickle here. A new poll from Ipsos shows that most Americans oppose Trump's policy, the Republican base are just fine with it. 27% of Americans-- normal people plus Republicans-- like the child grabbing policy. 46% of Republicans favor and just 32% disagree. Among normal people, there's a very different story. Just 14% of Democrats and 29% of Independents support support what Trump is doing. Congressional Republicans are feeling the pressure-- especially from independent voters who they have to win over to be reelected.

As Caitlin Owens explained at Axios, Ryan is allowing a vote on 2 different immigration bills this week: one written by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte that the neo-Nazis and other Trumpists favor and a sort of compromise bill that's still hideous but that mainstream conservatives like a little more than what Goodlatte came up with. It's not likely either will pass. Ryan "agreed to do this to avoid the worst-case scenario of moderates filing a discharge petition-- a way of forcing votes on bills they don’t like-- which could have resulted in passage of the Democrats’ preferred immigration bill... Even the optimists say that the compromise bill’s chance of passage is probably in Trump’s hands: He alone has the power to pressure reluctant House Republicans into voting for it. (Democrats are unlikely to support it.)"



Today the Economist suggested that people who really want to raise the stakes in this scriptural to-and-fro might consider turning to a verse in Matthew’s Gospel which warns of the dire consequences that may befall anybody who does spiritual harm to children: "If anyone causes one of these little ones…to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea."

Paul Clements, the progressive running for the southwest Michigan congressional seat occupied by Trump enabler Fred Upton, put it like this: "We are a nation of immigrants. So why are we watching ICE separate families and detain human beings in inhumane conditions? Why are we watching them put frightened children in mass detention for months at a time?

This isn't how we ought to respond to immigrants and refugees. Regardless of your political leanings, human beings shouldn't be treated this way--especially when there's a better way:
A pathway to citizenship for immigrants who have not committed crimes after entering the United States
Permanent DACA protections
Compassionate and sound refugee policies following international human rights standards and emphasizing cooperation with other nations
We need elected leaders in Congress who will stand up and say no to this inhumanity, and demand accountability and decency."

I wonder how long it's going to take Republican rubber stamps too scared of Trump to do their jobs to get this message. American voters sure have. Now it's just a matter of how many Republican congressmen are going to be looking for jobs on K Street in 2019. Lobbyists already love old-timers like Upton but what are Trump enablers like Steve Russell in Oklahoma, Ron Estes in Kansas, Don Bacon in Nebraska and Dan Donovan in New York going to do to make a living?

This reporting won't make Trumpanzee happy if someone reads it to him: GOP Governor Charlie Baker said Monday that "members of the Massachusetts National Guard will not be sent to the Mexican border to assist the Trump administration in what the Republican called its 'cruel and inhumane' policy separating migrant children from their families."

A few Republicans are starting to criticize Trump. Florida governor Rick Scott, in a tough Senate race, told the Tampa Bay Times on Monday that "What the country is witnessing right now is the byproduct of the many years of bi-partisan inaction and failure from our federal government. Let me be clear-- I do not favor separating families. Washington is to blame for this by being all talk and no action, and the solution is to secure the border. Anyone seeking to enter our country illegally needs to be sent back, with the exception of those who are truly seeking asylum from an oppressive regime." A Miami area Republican congressman, Mario Diaz-Balart, went a little further, though, like Scott, was too frightened to mention Señor T: "It is totally unacceptable, for any reason, to purposely separate minor children from their parents. Any and every other option should be implemented in order to not separate minors from their parents, which I believe is unconscionable. We cannot allow for this to continue happening, and it must stop. I continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that the provision included in this week's immigration bill puts an end to this cruel practice."

Lindsey Graham (R-SC) did mention Trump by name though: "President Trump could stop this policy with a phone call." Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse (R): "Family separation is wicked. It is harmful to kids and absolutely should NOT be the default U.S. policy. Americans are better than this... The administration’s decision to separate families is a new, discretionary choice. Anyone saying that their hands are tied or that the only conceivable way to fix the problem of catch-and-release is to rip families apart is flat wrong. There are other options available to them. The other options are all messy (given that some overly prescriptive judges have limited their administrative options), but there are ways to address this that are less bad than the policy of family separation they’ve chosen. There are many senior folks in the administration who hate this policy, and who want to do something better. But some in the administration have decided that this cruel policy increases their legislative leverage. This is wrong. Americans do not take children hostage, period... The President should immediately end this family separation policy."



UPDATE: Who's Taking Care Of The Kidnapped Kids?

Guys like Deputy Sheriff Jose Nunez, a 10-year veteran of the Bexar County Sheriff's Department. According to the Dallas Morning News Nunez (not Devin Nunes this time) sexually assaulted a 4-year-old girl and threatened the victim's mother into staying quiet about the assaults.

Sheriff Javier Salazar said the girl had been assaulted multiple times over the course of several months. The mother is an undocumented immigrants and Nunez said she'd be deported if she told anyone.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!

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by Noah

Mike Pence is waiting in the wings. For all we know, he is the biggest leaker in the Trumpanzee administration but he's also just another in a long, long line of typical Republican douchebags and worse. You can bet he shares his boss's envy of dictators who kill journalists with impunity. After all, his desire to torture our gay brothers and sisters is proud public knowledge. Ripping babies from their mothers arms? Yeah, that too. Perhaps the only differences between Pence and Trump are Pence's alcohol intake and his religious fervor or, call it what it is, religious insanity.

Pence, like most of his kind, will tell you that he believes in what he perversely calls "the sanctity of life" but if you, embrace those who blow up places where a woman can get an abortion, those who kill journalists, and those who steal babies, then you are no different than those you envy who do the same. Republicans will point at ISIS but really, the only difference is opportunity. Fanaticism is fanaticism. Just give them a little more time. In fact, we don't need ISIS. Yes, they are dangerous, but American has proven before that it can come up with its own version.

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Monday, June 18, 2018

Solving The Country's Biggest Problem (Yes TRUMP, But Nothing To Do With Mueller)

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On Friday, writing for New York Magazine Andrew Sullivan found yet another way to call Señor Trumpanzee a liar: "making us all live in his delusional reality show." The ugly fascist swine "believes," wrote Sullivan, "what he wants to believe, creates a reality that fits his delusions, and then insists, with extraordinary energy and stamina, that his delusions are the truth. His psychological illness, moreover, is capable of outlasting anyone else’s mental health. Objective reality that contradicts his delusions is discounted as 'fake news' propagated by 'our country’s greatest enemy,' i.e., reporters. If someone behaved like this in my actual life, if someone kept insisting that the sea was red and the sky green, I’d assume they were a few sandwiches short of a picnic. It’s vital for us to remember this every day: Almost no one else in public life is so openly living in his own disturbed world.

My friend Jerry Leichtling mentioned in passing the other day that "Trump said he’d get Mexico to pay for the wall. He didn’t say he’d make them pay with their children." He added that "These refugees have nothing. And Trump is stealing their children as bargaining chips to gain funding for his wall. The President of the United States," which is what he calls Trump, "is trafficking in children." Raise your hand if you think Señor T has an iota of empathy. As Helen and I have explained dozens of times, Trump is the very definition of "Narcissistic Personality Disorder." And that's on display ever day in every way. Even those tariffs he just levied... who do you think is going to suffer most? Has there ever been a successful trade war? Yesterday the NY Times noted that as his filthy illegitimate regime "imposes tariffs on allies and rivals alike, provoking broad retaliation, global commerce is suffering disruption, flashing signs of strains that could hamper economic growth. The latest escalation came on Friday," when the ugly and low IQ fake president "announced fresh tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods, prompting swift retribution from Beijing," just as all of our other trading partners had done. These tariffs get paid by American consumers not by the government. "As the conflict broadens, shipments are slowing at ports and airfreight terminals around the world. Prices for crucial raw materials are rising. At factories from Germany to Mexico, orders are being cut and investments delayed. American farmers are losing sales as trading partners hit back with duties of their own." Yes, he's a moron and yes, his enablers in Congress are too scared to slow him down. The Times also noted in an editorial yesterday that the tariffs are already hitting Trump voters hardest and quickest.
In Iowa, where farmers raise 40 million to 50 million pigs annually, President Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum from Mexico have already cost producers $560 million, according to an Iowa State University economist. How can that be, you ask. Mexico has threatened countervailing tariffs that include a 20 percent tariff on American pork. That prospect alone sent hog prices tumbling. If you like barbecued ribs, this could be a great summer for you. If you raise the pigs, you may be eating more barbecued beans.

Soybean growers throughout the Midwest are nervously watching as China, which buys a quarter of American soybeans, takes aim at their crop in response to the Trump administration’s announcement that it will move ahead with $50 billion in tariffs on “industrially significant technologies” in more than 1,000 categories. Trade between the two countries has been “very unfair, for a very long time,” the American president said in a statement. Mr. Trump vowed that he would add to that list if China retaliated-- which is what most countries do in this situation. Indeed, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce has said to expect as much. Oh great, Middle America collectively sighs.


Local newspapers across the heartland are full of similar tales of value destruction and lost income as a result of Trump trade war tweetism. In Great Lakes states, traditional steel makers might benefit from the administration’s 25 percent tariff on foreign steel. But for steel users, it’s an entirely different story. Shortly after tariffs were announced, steel suppliers, no longer as fearful of price competition, began jacking up prices-- they’re no fools. That has meant a 40 percent increase since January in the cost of steel for their customers who use it in their finished products, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. They can either pass that increase on to you or be less profitable.

...Trump’s obsession with Canada is particularly strange, and his outburst directed at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (“Very dishonest & weak.”) is particularly petulant. When you tote up the goods and services traded between the two nations in 2017, the United States counted a $8.4 billion surplus. Canada buys more American agricultural exports than any other nation, $24 billion worth. The Canadians sent $7 billion worth of steel here last year while we sold a similar amount to them.

...These are not small or isolated examples, as Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross seems to believe. The losses are real now and could become enormous in the future. Job losses from the metal tariffs alone could top 400,000, according to an analysis by Trade Partnership Worldwide, a nonpartisan consultancy that supports free trade. So while U.S. Steel can celebrate the restart of two blast furnaces in Granite City, Ill., and bring back about 800 workers, 12,000 jobs will be lost elsewhere, the consultancy estimates.

None of this reality seems to have registered with the president, who is obsessed with the trade deficit. “Why should I, as president of the United States, allow countries to continue to make massive trade surpluses, as they have for decades, while our farmers, workers & taxpayers have such a big and unfair price to pay?” Mr. Trump tweeted.

As any number of Nobel economists have tried to explain, a trade deficit by itself is neither good nor bad. American citizens benefit from being able to buy competitively priced Mexican produce, Japanese cars and Canadian steel. And foreign countries use the earnings from those sales to invest in American stocks, bonds and industries. Our currency stays strong without our making our export products too expensive. Japan ran trade surpluses for 30 consecutive years until 2011, but that did not prevent its economy from sputtering.

And as for protecting American workers, with a 3.8 percent unemployment rate, the number of job openings now exceeds the number of people who are unemployed, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Republican lawmakers, long proponents of free trade, portray themselves as impotent to halt the president’s trade warmongering. The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, has said there’s not much he can do, even as the European Union has put his state’s thriving bourbon industry in the cross hairs with a proposed 25 percent tariff. Kentucky and Tennessee sell $1 billion worth of liquor to foreign countries. In Wisconsin, home state of House Speaker Paul Ryan, companies that make fishing boats and motorcycles (Harley-Davidson) are also being targeted. So are cranberry growers. Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, got nowhere when he proposed legislation requiring congressional approval of tariffs that are imposed in the name of national security, as the recent ones were.

...Threatening an all-out trade war, insulting our next-door neighbor and ally, will not change the nature of our economy, only damage it. In Wisconsin and Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas, farmers who need to maintain access to foreign markets are hoping that Mr. Trump’s bluster is just that, a negotiating tactic, and that cooler heads will eventually prevail.

Goal ThermometerDon’t bet the farm on it.
There's a solution to every problem brought up in this post-- from trafficking in children at the border and the danger to the country from Trump's Narcissistic Personality Disorder to the trade war he's starting and the recession he's about to start. And, until 2020 when we all get to vote him out of office, it is literally the only realistic way of solving these problems: defeating every Republican in every election for every office can can vote for in every part of the country. The ones who are left may notice and may look at their constitutional duty to protect the country a little more seriously. I'm sure you see that Blue America 2018 congressional thermometer on the right. Please click on it and contribute what you can to congressional candidates who take putting a check on Trump seriously. Never tried it before? Give it a shot. There's no such thing as a contribution too small.



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What Happens If Alexandria Ocasio Doesn't Replace Crowley In November

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I often write that Joe Crowley-- handpicked by Pelosi and Hoyer to take over the House Democrats after they leave-- is the single most corrupt Democrat in Congress. Over the weekend I got a call from a friendly Democrat in Congress who asked me on what basis I keep making that claim. She told me she intends to vote for Crowley to lead the Democrats but was disturbed by the persistence of my assertions about him. I sent her the link above. She called back this morning and said my assertions in those posts were disturbing but they weren't enough for her to change her intentions.

Neither did a discussion we had about how Wall Street and the whole financial sector had given Crowley more money-- bribes-- than any other Democrat in the House, $7,148,700 at this point, even more than Hoyer ($6,432,164) and Himes ($6,115,602), both notorious Wall Street whores.

But what did seem to stop her in her tracks was an old story-- from before she was elected to Congress-- I found from the New York Daily News. I have a feeling very few of the freshmen and sophomores in Congress know anything about this-- nor about how Pelosi had to make a deal with the Republicans getting Crowley off the hook... by agreeing to let FOUR Republicans off the hook with the House Ethics Committee! Benjamin Lesser's 8 year old article, Queens Congressman Joe Crowley's campaign funds under investigation in ethics probe should be required reading for every Democrat before voting for their next congressional leader. It isn't a chapter Crowley is comfortable discussing.
Queens Congressman Joe Crowley is one of the most prolific campaign fund-raisers on Capitol Hill-- a trait that now has him in the middle of an ongoing ethics investigation.

Last month, the House Office of Congressional Ethics sent letters to a number of Washington lobbyists asking for documents related to fund-raising just before the Dec. 11 House vote on financial regulatory reform.

The preliminary investigation centers on a bipartisan group by eight members, including Crowley.

One of those who got a letter was Julie Domenick, a lobbyist who hosted a fund-raiser for Crowley Dec. 10 in her D.C. home. She confirmed the letter requested records related to her fund-raising.

Domenick said that the Crowley event had been scheduled on Nov. 4, weeks before the final votes of regulatory reform.

Crowley declined to discuss the Domenick event except to say through a spokesperson he "has always complied with the letter and spirit of all rules regarding fund-raising and standards of conduct."

Crowley, who represents parts of Queens and the Bronx, is the top-ranking member of New York's House delegation and vice chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's money machine.

When he was first elected to Congress, labor unions were his biggest financial backers. They've been eclipsed by financial, insurance and real estate interests, records compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics show.

By the 2008 election, half of Crowley's contributions came from those three industries.

"I think I've matured here both personally and in terms of my assignments," Crowley said. "Many people here in Washington view me as an important figure."

In October, as the House wrestled with financial regulatory reform, Crowley and several other members of the New Democrat Coalition traveled to Wall Street to meet with JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs executives.

Crowley said the financial powerhouses are "important to New York."

"I don't think there's anything wrong with listening to people who will be affected by the legislation you're going to pass," he said.

Crowley also has received tens of thousands of campaign dollars from real estate investment trusts-- companies that use investors' money to purchase and manage commercial real estate.

Since 2008, a political action committee of the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts has donated $33,500 for Crowley's campaign and leadership PAC.

His donors had reason to be pleased with him. In 2008, Crowley pushed legislation that let the trusts resell properties faster without tax penalties.

"Mr. Crowley was very much central to the cause on the House side," one industry observer said.

Then on Jan. 27, Crowley sponsored the Real Estate Revitalization Act of 2010-- a bill that would lower taxes on foreigners investing in real estate trusts.

Four days later, Crowley flew to L.A. to attend the Grammy awards, at one point posing with pop star Katy Perry.

While he was there, Peter Lowy, a top executive of the Westfield Group, an Australian-based developer whose lobbyists have pushed Crowley's bill, organized a Crowley fund-raiser at a restaurant called Toscanova.

Lowy and his wife also have contributed $18,800 to Crowley since February 2008.

A spokesman for Westfield said Lowy hosted the L.A. event as an individual. Crowley insisted it was "crazy" to think campaign money had any impact on his decision to sponsor the legislation.

He said he's gone against the real estate trusts, including raising taxes on profits for investment managers. "I have never, ever, ever sold my vote," he said.
Goal ThermometerIs there an alternative to Crowley? There is, although House Democrats would have to change precedent (Democrats have always elevated their minority leader to the speakership upon reclaiming majority control of the House) and would have to re-imagine the job of Speaker. Ted Lieu isn't a senior Democrat and his career hasn't been all about raising immense amounts of money from special interests-- which seems to have become, in recent years, the primary job of speakers, a relatively recent phenomenon-- but he would make an excellent Speaker. I know Ted and I see him as a modern day Sam Rayburn, someone who has the ability to help shape bills by working across the aisle the way he did when he was a California state senator. Ted has no intention of running against Pelosi, of that I am certain. He might, however, be amenable to serving if she leaves the position. Blue America has opened an ActBlue page just for that. That's what the thermometer on the right is for.

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There's Working Class Solidarity-- And There's Also Betrayal

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Working class candidates often point to their roots when they talk about why they can be trusted to represent the interests of working families. The best examples this cycle have been Randy Bryce (D-WI), Kaniela Ing (D-HI), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Jared Golden (D-ME), Tom Guild (D-OK) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Class has been integral to all of their campaigns-- both as  motivationally and in terms of goals. People in Queens and the Bronx are hearing her inspiring message which is bring hope to communities that have been largely ignored by an incumbent congressman who has nothing to do with the people he's supposed to be representing. Today Alexandria told me


Goal Thermometer"I was born to a working class family. At a very early age, I learned the injustice of a zip code determining your destiny. When I was four years old, my parents realized that the public school options in my area were severely lacking and we of course had no money for private schools. So my entire family-- my parents, my aunts, my uncles, my family in Puerto Rico-- chipped in to let my parents put a down payment on a small home 40 minutes north of the Bronx. This 40 minute drive shaped my world view at a very young age. I saw how just 40 minutes changed the opportunities I had versus what my cousins had in the Bronx. Those 40 minutes gave me the opportunity to go to college, get a job at Ted Kennedy's office, and have some economic opportunity. But in 2008, I also learned just how fragile economic opportunities are for working families like mine. At the same time the stock market crashed, my father passed away. I saw how even though my family had spent 20 years trying to build up some wealth, it could get wiped away in an instant because we didn't have a wealthy community or family to fall back on. We had no safety net. For the next few years, my mother had to go back to driving buses and cleaning and I started taking double shifts at night waitressing and bartending-- it was a fight to keep our home. We hear about an America where if you work hard and do everything right, you can make it, but the reality now is that unless you are born to the right family in the right zip code, the chances of making it with hard work are becoming slim to none. We need to change that."
But this isn't always the case. Paul Ryan wasn't exactly working class. His family was somewhat well-to do. His father was an attorney but at 16 years old Ryan found his 55 year old father dead in their home of a heart attack. From the time of his father's death until his 18th birthday, Ryan received Social Security survivors benefits, which were saved for his college education. In that period he worked at McDonald's operating a grill. He has spent his entire political career trying to pull up the ladder behind him that allowed him to prosper after his father's death. A devotee of Ayn Rand, Ryan doesn't believe in the kind of government help that allowed him to go to college. In that way, he differs fundamentally with Bryce, Ing, Tlaib, Golden, Guild and Ocasio-Cortez.

Below is a TV ad for Tom Guild. who has a primary a week from tomorrow and who has a very different approach from Paul Ryan's. He told me this morning that "As a small child our family survived mainly on government commodities, a precursor of the food stamp or SNAP program. My brother Robert and I would surely have starved and perished were it not for this godsend to our family that was existing well below the poverty level. Since this government program literally sustained our lives, I will fight for today’s poor children (and adults) and make sure that they are not nutritionally deprived, and don’t needlessly perish from this earth."



Over the weekend, Politico reported the GOP has given up-- at least for now-- on their goal of destroying Medicare. "Republicans on Capitol Hill," they reported, "are giving up on what might be their last best chance to overhaul Medicare, just as they’re losing their leading champion on the issue, House Speaker Paul Ryan. The quiet surrender on a subject that’s energized GOP fiscal hawks for the better part of a decade comes as new projections show Medicare’s trust fund in its worst shape since the recession, partly because of Republicans’ other chief obsession: their sweeping tax cuts."


That’s left conservatives unsure how to agitate for a politically unpopular Medicare overhaul-- one that President Donald Trump detests-- and raises new questions about who will take up the entitlement reform mantle as Ryan heads for the exits.

“It takes two houses of Congress and a president to want to do that,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), lamenting the party’s apathy over Medicare. “No matter who’s been in the House or who’s been speaker, we have not been able to get entitlement reform done.”
"Reform" might be lowering the age of Medicare to 55 or including treatment of eyes, ears and teeth, for example... extending it to all Americans is the goal for progressives. But when Republicans talk about "entitlement reform," it doesn't mean improving it; it means abolishing it, iultimately through privatization. That's what Blunt wants and what Ryan wants. The public doesn't.
[T]he GOP’s sweeping tax cuts will add $1.5 trillion to the deficit, slowing the flow of money into Medicare and putting the health care program on increasingly unstable financial ground, the report from Medicare’s trustees predicts. The decision to also repeal Obamacare’s deeply unpopular Medicare cost-containment panel, the Independent Payment Advisory Board, will put additional strain on Medicare’s finances, the trustees said. Medicare’s hospital trust fund is now projected to go broke by 2026, three years earlier than projected.

...The trustees' report, which was overseen by Cabinet officials, projected the GOP tax cuts would reduce the income taxes people pay on Social Security benefits, part of which are funneled toward Medicare. The tax law’s repeal of the Obamacare penalty for not having insurance will drive up the uninsured rate, increasing Medicare payments for uncompensated care, the report said.

Medicare’s chief actuary, Paul Spitalnic, said lower-than-expected tax returns explained the “vast majority” of this year’s funding shortfall. The trustees found that payroll and income taxes simply aren’t enough to cover Medicare’s large budget gap, partly as a result of the GOP’s tax law. The results, Spitalnic said, are “largely a revenue story.”

The report also delivered grim news for Social Security: For the first time since 1982, the program is expected to spend more than it raises in revenue and collects in interest.

...Republican leaders have shown little appetite for tackling Medicare since taking full control of Washington last year. Though Ryan himself said a Medicare overhaul would be a priority for 2018, Republican leaders have abandoned the idea ahead of a midterm election that could determine control of Congress.

Neither chamber has firm plans to pass a budget blueprint this year, and some conservatives now fear GOP leaders may skip it entirely, leaving a big question mark about the GOP’s fiscal agenda.

...During the Obama administration, House Republicans approved belt-tightening budgets that would transform Medicare into a so-called premium support model giving beneficiaries a set amount to spend either on traditional Medicare coverage or private insurance plans. Critics contend the plan, dubbed Medicare privatization, would leave enrollees with higher costs and worse coverage. Other Republicans have supported raising Medicare’s eligibility age.

Democrats, who in the past have eagerly campaigned against the GOP‘s Medicare plans, claim Republicans have shed their concerns about fiscal restraint in pursuit of tax cuts.

“When Republicans want to cut taxes but don’t want to contain health care spending, they are yanking Medicare three years closer to insolvency,” said Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Finance Committee.

GOP leaders, though, insist they haven’t taken their eye off entitlements. They just need a bit more time at the drawing board.

“It’s still a huge thing,” House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) said. “The question is, how do we address this thing?”
Alan Grayson grew up in a tenement in the Bronx and worked his way through college by cleaning bathrooms. He gave up his Orlando congressional seat to run for the Senate. He's seeking to win back his House seat now, currently in the hands of a do-nothing conservative New Dem. While Grayson was in the House he did the opposite of Ryan, working hard to perfect and try to persuade his colleagues to expand Medicare and Social Security, cut or eliminate taxes on working people and retirees, raise the minimum wage, provide paid sick leave and vacations to everyone, stop foreign military intervention, protect our privacy, block corporate "free trade" giveaways and make public college free-- among other things. This is the TV ad he's running in Orlando right now:

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