Monday, June 18, 2018

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


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


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


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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Union-Busting by Planned Parenthood in Colorado


A shadow from a chain link fence falls across the Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (source)

by Gaius Publius

Planned Parenthood, via its Action Fund (PAC), is one of the cornerstones of the Democratic coalition, both in standing up for the Democratic Party and being stood up for by the Democratic Party.

The national Action Fund has come under fire in intra-Party disputes. It endorsed Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders while admitting that "both [are] good on reproductive health." That's certainly a choice they get to make.

In addition, they made sure Sanders came under their fire when he called Planned Parenthood (meaning the Action Fund, not the health care organization) "part of the establishment":
Planned Parenthood and other progressive groups are calling out Bernie Sanders for referring to them as "part of the establishment," saying the Vermont senator needs to show a more explicit commitment to women's reproductive health.

"It's a little ridiculous to call an organization Congress and Republican presidential candidates have spent six months attacking ‘establishment’ — especially when Planned Parenthood health centers are out there every day ensuring millions of often marginalized Americans have access to basic reproductive health care,” Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund told POLITICO in an email.
Notice the switch in terms: The Action Fund, which was criticized for its political leanings in an intra-Party dispute, claimed Sanders didn't show enough of support for the non-political health care part of the organization — all while the Action Fund, in its Clinton endorsement, was praising Sanders as just as good on reproductive health issues as Clinton. (The deciding factor for them was that Clinton "pushes harder." Again, that's their choice to make.)

Sanders, of course, had to say, unnecessarily, that he would defend Planned Parenthood (the non-political health care arm) against attack, a statement that was widely taken as walking back his criticism.

If you're a Sanders supporter, you likely noted in all of this the good part of PP (the clinics) and the "less good" part (the political arm). The health care part of the organization emerged from this dispute still known-good, while the the highly political Action Fund remained part of the problem, at least from a Sanders supporter's perspective. The political arm, which controls political spending, is indeed part of the well funded Democratic Establishment — Sanders was right in that assessment — and acts to protect the Establishment against the real progressive insurgency that the Sanders 2016 campaign represented.

Planned Parenthood Fights Unions in Colorado

Now come two illustrations, however, about the health care part of the organization that threaten to tar its own reputation as "known good." They are presented briefly below. Both involved Planned Parenthood in Colorado, and both involved an attempt at unionization within Planned Parenthood clinics.

For background on the Planned Parenthood union-busting story, read this good report at The Intercept. For now, this is all you need to know:
Colorado Planned Parenthood executives, with help from President Donald Trump’s labor board appointees, are fighting their health center workers’ unionization efforts in a case that could set a precedent for workers’ rights nationwide.
Ugly stuff — shades of Walmart and Amazon, in fact.

First consider this plea from Mimi Yedinak, a Planned Parenthood clinic worker, writing on Facebook. (The following was printed as a single Facebook paragraph. I've taken the liberty of adding paragraph breaks where appropriate since many infrequent Facebook users have trouble creating paragraphs for themselves.)
Mimi Yedinak
June 14 at 2:17pp

Friends- today is my last day working for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

Many people are not aware that this past year PPRM’s clinic workers voted to create a union in order to improve issues like working conditions, wages and hours. Since we made this vote, PPRM’s management have only pushed back in order to keep us from accessing our basic employee rights.

Last night they sank to an incredible low. Some of my coworkers showed up to a PPRM fundraising event wanting to educate major donors about where their money is going and to encourage donors to specify that their money goes towards patient care and NOT towards anti-union activity (the agency has hired an anti-union lawyer whose hourly rate costs roughly the same price as an out-of-pocket medication abortion).

Instead of giving my colleagues an opportunity to inform donors, PPRM called the police on its own employees and threatened to have them arrested, including a loyal abortion provider who has been involved with this cause for over 30 years.

If you truly want to stand with Planned Parenthood then stand with its clinic workers and PLEASE get the word out to anyone you can (other donors, media, etc.) about how PPRM is treating its employees. Contact PPRM directly to let them know you support us and share this info with anyone who gives money to PPRM.

I’ve given the last two years of my life to this cause that I love so much and to see my colleagues bullied like this by the agency they have worked so hard for breaks my fucking heart. Stand up for the employees on the ground-floor like me, rather than those at the top who are fine with kicking us out of fundraisers and threatening us with unnecessary police force. Don’t let PPRM silence its employees.

#prochoice #propatient #prounion #standwithpp #droptheappeal
"Stand up for the employees on the ground-floor like me, rather than those at the top who are fine with kicking us out of fundraisers and threatening us with unnecessary police force." Sounds like every bad-actor organization you know.

Next, note that the unionization issue seems to have escalated into the political sphere, with the local Action Fund getting involved. David Sirota's wife Emily is running for the state legislature in Colorado. He recently tweeted this:
Seems she criticized the anti-union actions of local Planned Parenthood clinic executives, and the PP RR's Action Fund started spending money, apparently $50,000 to date, to try to defeat her. Keep in mind that Emily Sirota is a strong pro-choice advocate, and this is a Democratic primary.

You'd think they'd have better ways to spend $50,000, given to them in good faith to carry on the real fight, not the fight to keep clinic workers' wages low.

Ryan Grim tweeted his support for Emily Sirota in this dispute:
To which David Sirota replied:
This shows to too many what the "Democratic Establishment" is made of. Note again that this isn't just the local Action Fund acting. The local PAC is defending vigorous Walmart-like anti-union behavior by the clinic.

How Will the Democratic Establishment Respond? How Will Voters Respond?

The 2018 elections are fast approaching and Democratic leaders are betting the farm that they can run and win as "not Trump." Of course, that's their choice to make. But will it work if stories like these keep popping up? Two key questions emerge as this unfolds.

How will Democratic leaders respond to this story, if they respond at all? And how will voters respond to stories like these — for examples, stories about widespread Democratic Party support for the comically corrupt Joe Crowley in his primary race against an actual and viable progressive challenger, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

It's possible to brand yourself by your advertising, and many have made money selling that service. It's also possible to brand yourself by your deeds — for that, no help is needed.

If the Democratic Party continues to brand itself as what caused many voters to rise up against it in the last election, what will its future be?


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The Big Debate-- Ocasio Eviscerates Crowley In Queens


At Friday night's debate Alexandria Ocasio forced him into, Congressman Joe Crowley was completely out of his depth. When he promised this constituents "good paying jobs... affordable healthcare, they’re hoping that they can send their children to college and get a higher education... retirement security," it was only natural to wonder what he's been doing for the past 31 years since he's been in office. Crowley and his family live in Virginia and has virtually nothing to do with NY-14, the Queens/Bronx district he represents as some kind of absentee landlord. The district includes Steinway, Woodside, Jackson Heights, Corona, East Elmhurst, College Point and Malba in Queens and Throggs Neck, Parkchester, Morris Park, Pelham, Baychester and Middletown, City Island and Eastchester Bay in The Bronx. The Democratic machine boss of Queens, a few years ago Crowley hired a lobbyist to get The Bronx out of his district-- too many people of color. The lobbyist failed and now Crowley's worst nightmare is coming true: a primary challenge from a young Hispanic woman who is forcing him to defend a record that has nothing to do with his own district, just his own careerism.

Briahna Gray reported on the debate for The Intercept. She painted it-- accurately-- as a contest between "establishment and outsider, old guard and upstart, experience and progress, status quo and change." Crowley had his lunch eaten. His "first remarks were those of a professional who felt confident enough to not prepare-- and who realized too late that he should have." He spent the whole debate babbling about fighting Trump, which he hasn't been very successful in doing for the last year and a half. Ocasio scored when she told him that "It’s not enough to fight Trump. We have to fight the issues that made his rise in the first place."

"Ocasio-Cortez’s stridency and urgent framing," wrote Gray, "highlighted the difference between lip service and substantive change, between a movement powered by small donors and a politician funded by Wall Street and luxury real estate developers. Whereas Crowley framed issues in terms of what he thinks his constituents want, Ocasio articulated them as goals she could deliver. Crowley’s nod to 'affordable healthcare' and the 'hope' of higher education sounded anemic next to Ocasio-Cortez’s demand for guaranteed jobs and free public college. And where Crowley emphasized his support of Barack Obama while underscoring how many thousands in the district are helped by the Affordable Care Act, Ocasio-Cortez’s focus was on getting more for her constituents in the form of Medicare for All.
Crowley’s experience and power in Washington are only useful for Queens and Bronx residents if he uses that power to benefit them as opposed to his high-end donors. Crowley’s promise to provide affordable housing felt empty, given that housing has only become more expensive during his long tenure-- especially since, as Ocasio-Cortez has pointed out repeatedly during the campaign, Crowley’s coffers have swelled with donations from luxury real estate developers. One exchange that was damaging to Crowley came when he defended a major development project by claiming that the local community board had been in favor of it. Ocasio-Cortez, however, had been at the vote and protested the development, and she corrected him: the board in fact voted overwhelming against it.

...Viewers looking for a spat about identity politics in the wake of The Intercept’s recent report that Crowley accused his opponent of making the race “about race” were disappointed. Issues of identity barely surfaced from Ocasio-Cartez, who mentioned the diversity of her district and the importance of representation, but left the identity wrangling to Crowley, who, in a clear effort to fend off accusations that he’s insufficiently diverse, sounded off a list the names of all the people of color who, as machine boss, he’s helped get into office. Her response: “This isn’t just about gender and race, but class.” And without missing a beat, she pivoted to a controversial zoning issue in the district which she says was approved will displacing working, disproportionately immigrant families to the benefit of luxury real estate developers.

 In fact, from her opening statement, Ocasio-Cortez made it clear that she wasn’t just an “identity” candidate. “In a district that is 85 percent Democrat, overwhelmingly working class and 70 percent people of color, we deserve a working class champion,” she said.

It’s possible that Ocasio-Cortez simply understands that her relationship to the community she hopes to represent speaks for itself, as was apparent when the candidates answered a question about their favorite restaurants in the district. Crowley offered “Daizies on Sunnyside,” an Italian restaurant.

“Taqueria Tlaxcalli,” Ocasio-Cortez answered with a smile, pronouncing it perfectly. Crowley looked nervous, perhaps wishing her were at Daizies that very moment.

The district has changed from the time when Crowley, who proudly touts his Irish immigrant roots, grew up in it. The question became, regardless of identity, whether Crowley is sufficiently in touch with the neighborhood to meet its evolving needs.

Perhaps the most uncomfortable moment in the short debate occurred when the moderator asked Crowley a question which Ocasio-Cortez has raised consistently throughout her campaign: Why do he and his family choose to live outside the district in the Washington D.C. area? Crowley explained that in his view, he was elected by the taxpayers to represent them in the capital. “And that’s what I’m doing,” he said. “I’m a lifelong New York City resident... My dad was a police officer, my mom was an immigrant,” he said (skipping over how his father also went to law school and became a partner in a firm). “I love this city. I went to school here,” he said. “I went to [Queens College]. This is my borough. This is my city and I love it very much.”

Goal ThermometerOcasio-Cortez followed: “If a person loves their community they would choose to live here... They would choose to drink our water and breathe our air. It takes away fundamental understanding of our community when they’re raised somewhere else.”

Crowley struggled for an answer. “It’s very hard to raise a family,” he said. “I’m just doing the best that I can, quite frankly, as a father.” He seemed to come close to admitting the fundamental issue underlying Ocasio-Cortez’s point: It’s hard to raise kids in New York City. But it shouldn’t have to be.
Please consider helping Alexandria do something historic by replacing Crowley, something that will send a chill up the spine of every blue seat Democrat in Congress who thinks he or she can take their constituents for granted. Please tap the 2018 congressional thermometer on the right and contribute what you can.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah


Señor Trumpanzee:

"Kim is a great negotiator. Tremendous guy. Great sense of humor. Very talented guy. His people love him, especially the ones he hasn't killed yet. I salute his generals and will do so again when they invade our ally South Korea. My Chinese and Russian pals see a new day of grand appeasement now that I have said we won't have any more "war games" in the region. They love me. People are saying. Great ratings. I salute their generals too. And boat guys. Kim's people stand at attention when he speaks. Me want my people do same. I love Kim's hair. I asked him what gel he uses. He gave me a jar of it. Wonderful guy. Looking forward to building Trump hotels on North Korea beaches. Have you seen their beaches? Beautiful beaches. Tremendous beaches. Kim say I can build Mar-a-lago East now. With basketball court for him and Dennis Rodman."

"Kim say he knows how to hack every electronic device in the world. I asked if he can hack American voting machines in 2018 and 2020. He smiled. Kim has a beautiful smile. Did you see his smile? He murders journalists. Great guy. Did you know they call resorts gulags over there? Tremendous. Kim is president for life. If I was president for life, that would be a tremendous, beautiful thing. I've shown I know the best people. Kim is one of those."

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Sunday, June 17, 2018

And, Now... Something Crazy From The Fringe-- And My Best Wishes To Robert Mueller


Almost everyone and every organization has a wikipedia page, right? But not James George (Jim) Jatras and not the American Institute in Ukraine which he claims to be Deputy Executive Director of. And not Anthony T Salvia, the Executive Director of the American Institute in Ukraine. (I did find an Anthony T La Salvia, who in 2014 was an unsuccessful Democratic primary judicial candidate in Maricopa County. It can't be the same guy-- at least I don't think so.) More recently he served as a stooge for then-President Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine who he wrote deserved a Nobel Peace Prize.

It's hard to find much about Jatras but I have a feeling he's a pretty well-known figure on some of the fringes of the pro-Putin extreme right. Like Paul Manafort, he was a Yanukovych partisan, paid to oppose NATO, the EU and the West. Eventually Yanukovych was overthrown and fled to Russia, where he still lives. Manafort is in prison awaiting trial and/or pardon. I don't know anyone who's quite sure where Jatras is but this is what he told Kremlin propaganda and disinformation organ, Sputnik last October:
[F]ederal authorities in our country today can throw anybody today in jail they want. They simply have to pile on some charges, try to catch you in some inconsistencies and they can bring criminal charges against you. It's generally assumed that this is being done to put the squeeze on somebody else; maybe they want to throw Manafort in jail, but what they really want is for him to divulge some sort of information about the campaign that they think he may be hiding... But the question is where Mr. Mueller wants to go with this, and I think a lot of people suspect that there is a partisan thrust to his investigation, that he has a lot of very partisan Democrats on his team and the real target is President Trump, not Mr. Manafort or General Flynn.

...Sputnik: Hard evidence of any real collusion is something that's been lacking right the beginning has it not, and do you think we're likely to see it by the end of this investigation, which is something that Russia has been asking for, for some time?

Jim Jatras: I don't know that we will, and the way the American media operates, I don't know if anyone expects them too-- it's enough for them to engage in speculation and hyperbole and say Russia this and Russia that-- when there is no real Russian connection at all.

And when you raise these points, it only appears in outlets like Sputnik or like RT or in the alternative media like or Zerohedge, and this is almost like samizdat-- it's almost like it doesn't exist here because it's not on CNN or in the mainstream media.
Sounds pretty familiar, doesn't it? Yesterday Jatras had a guest post at Zerohedge. A little info on him that hasn't been covered up. He was born (somewhere) in 1955, claims to have gone to Penn State and to have gotten a law degree at Georgetown. He also claims to have worked in the U.S. consulate in Tijuana from 1979 through 1981 and as a foreign service officer for Russian affairs from 1981 to 1985 and then a policy analyst for always unnamed Senate Republicans until 2002. He's all over YouTube-- often on Russian propaganda outlets-- as a "former diplomat," which appears to be a major exaggeration of what he really was. Like this:

In 2015 Paola Chavez and Madison Jaros interviewed Jatras for ABC News: Meet the Man You’ve Never Heard of Who Desperately Wants to Be Vice President. Trump didn't pick him but it's an interesting interview. Jatras is anti-Choice, anti-LGBTQ, pro-NRA, anti-immigrant and, as he puts it, "anti-phony 'free trade' deals."

Yesterday's Zerohedge post could have been written by Trump, if Trump could write, or by a Putin propagandist (although, apparently it was)-- It's Time For America To Cut Loose Our Useless So-Called "Allies".
Let’s get one thing straight: the United States has no real allies. There are countries we dominate and control, more properly termed client states or even satellites. (True, given Israel’s and Saudi Arabia’s lock-stock-and-barrel ownership of the American political class, it seems rather that we are their clients, not the other way around...) Conversely, on an almost one-to-one correspondence, countries that are not satellites are our enemies, either currently (Russia, North Korea, Iran, Syria) or prospectively (China).

But do we have any actual allies-- that is, countries that provide mutual security for the United States, and whose contributions actually make us Americans safer and more secure in our own country?

Try to name one.

Let’s start with the granddaddy of our alliances, NATO. How does having a mutual defense pact with, say, virulently anti-Russian Poland and the Baltic States make America more secure? How does, say, tiny corrupt Montenegro, contribute to US security? Are these countries going to defend America in any conceivable way? Even if they wanted to, how could they possibly?

For that matter, against what ‘threat’ would they defend us? Is Latvia going to help build Trump’s Wall on the Mexican border?

‘Our NATO allies help out in Afghanistan,’ we are told.  NATO-Schmato-- it’s Americans who do almost all the fighting and dying. It’s our treasure being wasted there. Maybe without the fig leaf of an alliance mission, we might long since have reevaluated what we still are doing there after 17 years.

But comes the answer, ‘Russia!’ Except that Russia isn’t a threat to the United States. Despite their hype even the most antagonistic Russophobic countries in NATO themselves don’t really believe they’re about to be invaded. And even if they were, that still doesn’t make Russia a threat to us-- or wouldn’t except for the very existence of NATO and a forward American presence on Russia’s borders and in the Black and Baltic seas littorals. How does gratuitously risking conflict with the one country on the planet whose strategic arsenal can annihilate us make Americans safer?

As Professor Richard Sakwa has observed, ‘NATO exists to manage the risks created by its existence.’

Let’s look at other supposedly valuable alliances.

Why do we need South Korea and Japan? ‘China!’ But except for a nuclear stockpile much smaller than our intercontinental deterrent China doesn’t present a military threat to us. ‘Yes, but Beijing poses a danger to South Korea and Japan.’ Maybe, maybe not. But even if that is so why is it our problem?

Why do we need Israel, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and bunch of other Middle Eastern countries? We aren’t dependent on energy from the region as we arguably were when Jimmy Carter proclaimed a vital national interest there four decades ago. ‘Well then, Iran!’ But the Iranians can’t do anything to us. ‘Yes, but they hate Israel, Saudi Arabia, etc., etc.’ Again, what’s that got to do with us?

In each case the argument of a US interest is a tautology.

The US ‘needs’ allies for the sole purpose of defense against purported threats not to us but to those very same allies. It’s a self-licking ice cream cone.

It would be bad enough if these faux alliance relationships were only detrimental in terms of getting embroiled in quarrels in which we have no interest, wasting money and manpower in areas of the world where our security is not at stake. But there’s also a direct economic cost right here at home.

Jatras and Kislyak

Based on the claimed need for “allies” US trade policy since World War II could almost have been designed to undermine the economic interests of American workers and American producers. Starting with Germany and Japan, our defeated enemies, we offered them virtually tariff-free, nonreciprocal access to our huge domestic market to assist with their economies’ recovery from wartime destruction; in return, we would take their sovereignty: control of their foreign and security policies, as well as their military and intelligence establishments, plus permanent bases on their territory.

This arrangement became the standard with other countries in non-communist Europe, as well as some in the Far East, notably South Korea. As much or more than puffed-up claims of military threats (and companies that benefit from inflated military spending) lopsided trade is the glue that keeps the satellites in place. In effect, our “allies” cede geostrategic control of their own countries and are rewarded at the expense of domestic American economic interests. Already of questionable value in its heyday, this pattern not only survived the end of Cold War 1 but continued to grow, contributing to the rise of Cold War 2.

Put into that context, this is where Trump’s tariffs dovetail with his other blasphemies, like expecting the deadbeats to pony up for their own defense. He challenges them to reduce tariffs and barriers to zero on a reciprocal bilateral basis-- knowing full well they won’t do so because it would spoil their cozy arrangement at the expense of American workers. He threatens the sanctity of the North Atlantic Treaty’s vaunted Article 5 obligation of mutual defense on whether countries meet a two percent of GDP level of military spending-- knowing that few of them will since they don’t in fact face any external military threat and would rather keep the money.

In his own unvarnished, zigzaggy way, Trump is doing what he said he would: putting America and Americans first. As he has said, that does not mean hostility towards other countries, whose leaders have aduty to put their countries and peoples first as well. It means both stopping our allies’ sandbagging us, while restoring to them their unsought-for-- and for many of them, undesirable-- sovereignty and independence.

In the final analysis, what the likes of Rick Wilson are really afraid of is disruption of a decades-old, crooked racket that has been so lucrative for countless hangers-on and profiteers. As James P. Pinkerton, former aide to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, describes it:
‘[T]he basic geopolitical foundations of the last seven decades are being challenged and shifted-- or, as critics would prefer to say, being subverted and betrayed. Yet in the meantime, even as his myriad foes prepare their next political, legal, and punditical attacks, Trump is the man astride the world stage, smiling, shaking hands, signing deals-- and unmistakably remaking the old order.’
Let’s get on with it.

Into the Swamp by Nancy Ohanian

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What's VIP Treatment In Prison?


Manafort's prison has a Facebook page-- he's already the star

I hope Manafort isn't the only Trump crony to find out. Perhaps they can build a prison for the whole lot of them eventually. With a golf course? I bet Manafort wasn't happy spending Fathers Day behind bars yesterday. Although I'm sure his ex-son-in-law was glad he was. The Daily Beast reported that "Manafort arrived at the Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia, just after 8 p.m. Jail records listed him as a prisoner in a 'VIP' housing unit at the 500-bed prison. The move came after prosecutors alleged Manafort engaged in witness tampering ahead of his upcoming trial on conspiracy and money-laundering charges."

It's hard getting a story out of this-- since no one can talk to Manafort at this point-- but CNN tried, even if it was about colors. "Just before dusk on Friday, a white van pulled into Northern Neck Regional Jail, a green-roofed, low-slung building about three miles from the bank of the Rappahannock River in Virginia. Inside the van sat former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. The white van had left the federal courthouse in downtown Washington, DC, with Manafort inside three hours earlier."
In the federal system, there is no mugshot nor perp walk. If he's found guilty and sent to prison for the amount of time prosecutors hope, the 69-year-old man may never be seen outside again.

Manafort was last seen wearing a navy pinstripe suit, crisp white shirt and burgundy tie in a federal courtroom in DC on Friday, the same courtroom he's appeared in almost a dozen times since his arrest in October. He had lived for the last eight months in his Alexandria, Virginia, condo under house arrest-- a circumstance so confined and uncomfortable, a doctor wrote to the judge regarding his conditions.

But court marshals had to follow the judge's order after a tense proceeding Friday morning. They took Manafort's belt, wallet and tie minutes after he was ordered into custody, leaving the man who once spent $130,000 at a clothing store in Beverly Hills without the comforts he'd entered the building wearing.

Then, Manafort disappeared. Suddenly under custody of the US Marshals Service, Manafort was taken into the back halls and basement of the courthouse along Pennsylvania Avenue. His attorneys, wife and family friends had left the premises, and the more than 100 journalists, photographers, lawyers and spectators had long dissipated. Manafort stayed within that fortress-like building for more than five hours, unable to stride out on his own accord to the waiting Range Rover he'd relied on before.

Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia, has him now-- his name's listed among upwards of 500 people they're holding.

His housing unit listed on the jail's website: "VIP." He was the only inmate at the jail with that housing unit description as of Saturday.

...Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia, opened in 1995 and is primarily owned and used by the Virginia counties that surround it. That means much of the crimes represent a cross-section of local incidents, like drug offenses, thefts and assaults.

The federal government rents space for inmates. One architecture companies' overview of the place says it's a building "in harmony with its rural surroundings"-- but with a maximum security perimeter.

The jail isn't overcrowded and houses few homeless people, according to a state study two years ago on mental health in Virginia's jails. The jail also had no reports of inmate aggression toward other inmates in the month used for the study's snapshot.

Yet the jail has had its fair share of high-profile inmates and incidents. Michael Vick, the former NFL quarterback sent to prison for a dogfighting conspiracy, stayed in a dorm-sized cell with a toilet, shower and sink for two months in late 2007, according to descriptions published by ESPN The Magazine. And the R&B singer Chris Brown waited inside Northern Neck for his misdemeanor assault trial in 2014, which he ultimately avoided by pleading guilty.

Like many jails, it has faced wrongful death and injury lawsuits in recent years and has had inmates commit suicide, according to local news reports.

The jail's Facebook page (yes, it has one, though it may not be officially sanctioned) listed an aggregate 2.1 out of 5 stars in its review section before Manafort's arrival. Among the one-star reviews, one person said the "inmates are treated worse than livestock." Another says this: "We're all utterly miserable in this hell hole!"

Family and friends have visiting privileges for one hour once a week. If several commenters online are to be believed, Manafort will be receiving letters from strangers.

This jail, of all jails in the area, was the best for Manafort at this time, the US Marshals determined.

Typically, the DC federal court where he so often appears keeps its jailed defendants not far away in the DC jail. That environ, with a population more prone to violent crime and homelessness, was too risky for a man like Manafort, who at one time was touted as the steady hand needed for Donald Trump's campaign only to flame out under a crush of news stories and other pressure 144 days after his hiring. Since his departure from the campaign, countless stories have chronicled his alleged misdeeds, especially those involving millions of dollars, a cushy lifestyle and contacts with Russians and Ukrainians.

A small pool of angered critics swarmed his court arrivals and exits in recent months with chants of "lock him up" and "traitor." One man always brings a Russian flag, which he has occasionally thrown at Manafort.

It will take Manafort's handful of attorneys in DC two hours by car to meet with their client as they prepare for trial.

Inmate number 45343 will wear a jail-issued jumpsuit for hearings with a judge. When he appears before a jury, he will be allowed to wear clothes that family members bring him.

"He's going to be identified by a number, maybe by his last name. No one is really kind in a jail," said a DC-based attorney who's represented people in Northern Neck and has consulted for clients about the Russia investigation. Until now, "When he went to Starbucks, they said good morning."

If Manafort pleads guilty to white-collar crime or a jury determines him so, a federal prison or prison camp could await him. That's much different-- inmates are sorted into low- to high-security facilities based on their crimes and histories.

But until his trial, Manafort's days will fall into a forced routine, as described on a private website that chronicles the nation's jails. Wake up early, roll call, breakfast. Participate in school or a work program. Lunch, roll call, work. Evenings in your cell or in a common pod with a TV. Repeat.

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Michigan To The Rescue?


The DCCC managed to find itself a Michigan Blue Dog, Gretchen Driskell, to support for Congress. Yesterday we looked at what happens when Blue Dogs get into Congress. The damage they cause is very serious. Blue America has endorsed 2 women running for Congress with proven records for leadership in the Michigan state legislature, Ellen Lipton and Rashida Tlaib. We endorsed them both because they are progressives with progressive records of accomplishment. Identity politics played no role in either endorsement. That said, take a look at this tweet from Dave Wasserman last week:

Ellen is the only woman in the August 7th primary for an open seat up against two men, one of whom, Andy Levin, is the retiring Congressman’s son. He’s got the family name recognition; Ellen's got the legislative experience and proven record fighting for progressive values, having served 6 years in Michigan’s State House and worked as a healthcare activist and public education advocate.

The polling and focus groups that have been dome in MI-09 show that when voters-- particularly women voters-- see and hear her story, her record and progressive vision, trump Levin's name recognition and she wins. 2018 so far is an extraordinary year for women candidates, and women in Democratic primaries are voting in record numbers. She promised her supporters that "We’re going to win this primary by hosting events all over the district, knocking on thousands and thousands of doors, and making sure every single voter in the 9th knows my name, who I am, and what I stand for...  I’m so proud and inspired to be a part of the wave of Democratic women standing up to run for Congress this year. It’s time to change the fact that only 20% of Congress is female-- because we all deserve better. We need strong women leaders in Congress now more than ever."

Republicans don't do well in her district-- McCain only pulled 40.1%. Romney, a hometown boy, did a little better at 41.9% and Trump pulled 43.7%. The PVI is D+4 and it's more than very likely that whoever wins the primary will be the next congressmember. That's even more so in MI-13, where the Republicans aren't even running a candidate and which Rashida represented in the state legislature and where she's running now. The PVI is a jaw-dropping D+33 and Obama won with around 85% both times he ran and where Trump only drew 18% of the vote. MI-13-- a big chunk of Detroit plus Highland Park, Dearborn Heights, Inkster and Romulus out beyond the airport-- is a blue powerhouse, the kind of district that should be sending cutting edge leaders to Congress. And that's exactly who Rashida is. Again, two relatives of the last congressman, John Conyers, decided to run, a son (who was disqualified) and a nephew. If Rashida wins this one, everything in her record points to one thing: she's not going to be some backbencher voting like a good little Democrat; she'll be helping form a new progressive consensus among House Democrats and leading the way on tough issues others are afraid to touch, just the way she did in the Michigan legislature.

Goal ThermometerBoth Ellen and Rashida are guided by the belief that everyone, not just the wealthy and privileged, deserves access to opportunity and a better quality of life. They have both dedicated their professional lives to amplifying and addressing the concerns of working families. They don't just talk about it... they both have records to show they've been doing it.

Rashida: "I’m running because I get results. I brought home $5.6 million in funding for before-and-after school programs and $7.8 million for bilingual education and literacy. I brought home $1 million for free health care clinics and $2 million to remove toxic lead paint from older homes. And I did it with Republicans in control of the Legislature, because I don’t make excuses, I get it done."

Neither of these dynamic women is an establishment candidate. The DCCC is ignoring both. That may be because neither sits still and gets told what to do by representatives of the status quo. They are exactly what Congress needs, what the Democratic Party needs... what our country needs. Please consider contributing to their campaigns by clicking on the 2018 congressional thermometer on the right.

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How Many Fathers Are Spending Fathers Day Praying For Their Stolen Children?


Michael Hayden was an Air Force 4 star general who George W. Bush appointed to head the CIA. The picture he posted on his twitter account this morning is Auschwitz.

On Saturday, CNN reported that Senor Trumpanzee is using the outrageous and savage tactic of separating children from parents as a bargaining chip. He suggested the policy is "a negotiating tool to get Democrats to cave on his immigration demands, which include funding for a border wall, curbing legal immigration into the US, and tightening the rules for border enforcement.
Trump again falsely blamed Democrats for his administration's actions, and said they could put a stop to the family separations by working with Republicans in Congress. Nearly 2,000 immigrant children were separated from parents over a period of about six weeks in April and May, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

"Democrats can fix their forced family breakup at the Border by working with Republicans on new legislation, for a change!" Trump wrote in a tweet.

According to reporting by the Washington Post, White House officials said President Donald Trump has calculated he will gain leverage in congressional negotiations by enforcing a policy he claims to hate.

"I hate the children being taken away," Trump said Friday morning. But Trump suggested Friday in an interview on Fox News' Fox and Friends he would not reverse his administration's policy unless Democrats agreed to his longstanding immigration priorities.
If you didn't guess the man behind the stealing children from their parents was psychotic Santa Monica neo-Nazi was Stephen Miller you haven't been paying close enough attention. This morning the NY Times reported that he was the man you persuaded Trump to separate fazmalies and blame it on the Democrats. Miller: "No nation can have the policy that whole classes of people are immune from immigration law or enforcement… The message is that no one is exempt from immigration law."

Meanwhile the United Methodist Church zeroed in on one of their own: Jeff Sessions. In a statement, A shocking violation of the spirit of the Gospel the Church explicitly calls out Sessions as a "fellow United Methodist" and asks him to reverse the Trump administration’s decision to split up migrant families after he claimed the Bible justified it.
In recent weeks, we have watched with horror at the implementation of policies from the Department of Justice regarding the treatment of people migrating to the United States.

In early May, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance” policy resulting in de facto family separation: children are immediately removed from their parents as they are apprehended after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. And three days ago, the Attorney General also announced a policy reversing protections for asylum seekers fleeing domestic abuse and gang violence. Neither threat of violence is now considered grounds for asylum.

Furthermore-- and in response to the ardent opposition from a wide array of faith communities-- the officials responsible for these policies have recently used Christian scripture to justify their actions.

To argue that these policies are consistent with Christian teaching is unsound, a flawed interpretation, and a shocking violation of the spirit of the Gospel.

Administration officials have used the Christian text of Paul’s Letter to the Romans-- his first and weightiest epistle-- to justify their actions. The ethical teachings of Romans 12-16 describe that consecrated Christian life requires the duties of love and hospitality. The commandment in Chapter 13 to “be subject to the governing authorities” is bracketed by preceding and following passages containing the command to “love.”

Earlier verses detail what love looks like:
Let love be genuine, hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord…extend hospitality to strangers. (Romans 12: 9-11, 13 NRSV, emphasis added)
Subsequent verses further clarify the centrality of love and its comprehensive nature, stating that all the
commandment[s] are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13: 9-10 NRSV, emphasis added)
We are reminded by Paul that love is the way.

Jesus is our way, our truth, our life. The Christ we follow would have no part in ripping children from their mothers’ arms or shunning those fleeing violence. It is unimaginable that faith leaders even have to say that these policies are antithetical to the teachings of Christ.

Christian sacred texts should never be used to justify policies that oppress or harm children and families.

Those using the Bible to justify these horrific policies, should also read the prophet Isaiah:
Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. (Isaiah 10: 1-3 NIV)
The Trump Administration implemented these policies. They have the power to stop these horrific actions. Join me in calling on the Department of Justice, and especially on our fellow United Methodist, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to immediately reverse these decisions.

When you reach out, be sure to share with them the Social Principles of our United Methodist Church, which uphold the rights of immigrants, oppose family separation, and demand protections for women, children and men from violence.
Like Hitler, Trump and Miller have no religion-- other than Satanism and Mammon-- so this kind of argument will have no impact in and of itself... only if Christians and other men and women of good faith rise up in disgust against them. Let's not forget this in November when Trump's congressional enablers are up for election.

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