Sunday, August 18, 2019

Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

Sunday Thoughts:

And you might have thought that the only churches where this sort of thing goes on are the Catholic churches.

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Saturday, August 17, 2019

Did Jerry Falwell Jr. Support Trump Because Of The Pictures Of Himself And Mrs. Falwell In Bed With The Pool Boy? What About Joe Walsh? What's His Excuse?


If you've been following Hate Talk radio host and former far right congressman Joe Walsh's twitter feed since Trumpanzee was installed in the White House, you know he wasn't going to endorse Trump's reelection bid. But this week the NY Times published an OpEd by him calling for a conservative to primary Trump from the right.

A little background on Walsh: he was elected in the Tea Party sweep (2010), narrowly beating crooked New Dem wretch Melissa Bean, one of Congress' worst Wall Street shills in the pretty red suburbs west of Chicago (Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Elgin, Bloomingdale). The district was gerrymandered by the Dems in 2012 to get rid of Walsh and he planned to run in the redder part of the district that was combined with IL-14, although it meant he would be in a primary with Randy Hultgren. Boehner persuaded him to run against Tammy Duckworth instead. She beat him 55-45%. This is how crazy he was back then (9:04 on this tape, but the whole segment is worth watching. Only Walsh is advocating teaching pre-schoolers how to shoot mortars.):

Presumably a little less nuts today, he wrote that "There’s a strong case for President Trump to face a Republican primary challenger. I know a thing or two about insurgencies. I entered Congress in 2011 as an insurgent Tea Party Republican. My goals were conservative and clear: restrain executive power and reduce the debt. Barack Obama was president then, and it was easy for us to rail against runaway spending and executive overreach."
Eight years later, Mr. Trump has increased the deficit more than $100 billion year over year-- it’s now nearing $1 trillion-- and we hear not a word of protest from my former Republican colleagues. He abuses the Constitution for his narcissistic trade war. In private, most congressional Republicans oppose the trade war, but they don’t say anything publicly. But think about this: Mr. Trump’s tariffs are a tax increase on middle-class Americans and are devastating to our farmers. That’s not a smart electoral strategy.

It’s one of the many reasons Mr. Trump is ripe for a primary challenger. In fact, it would buck the historical trend if he didn’t have one. More often than not, unpopular presidents face primary challengers.

Since leaving Congress in 2013, I’ve been the host of my own conservative talk radio show several hours a day, five days a week. The only time a majority of my conservative audience has noticeably broken with the president is when he signed the omnibus spending bill in 2017 that ballooned the deficit. Fiscal responsibility is an issue the American electorate cares about but that our elected officials disregard from the top down-- including the Tea Party in the Trump era.

Fiscal matters are only part of it. At the most basic level, Mr. Trump is unfit for office. His lies are so numerous-- from his absurd claim that tariffs are “paid for mostly by China, by the way, not by us,” to his prevarication about his crowd sizes, he can’t be trusted.

In Mr. Trump, I see the worst and ugliest iteration of views I expressed for the better part of a decade. To be sure, I’ve had my share of controversy. On more than one occasion, I questioned Mr. Obama’s truthfulness about his religion. At times, I expressed hate for my political opponents. We now see where this can lead. There’s no place in our politics for personal attacks like that, and I regret making them.

I didn’t vote for Mr. Trump in 2016 because I liked him. I voted for him because he wasn’t Hillary Clinton. Once he was elected, I gave him a fair hearing, and tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. But I soon realized that I couldn’t support him because of the danger he poses to the country, especially the division he sows at every chance, culminating a few weeks ago in his ugly, racist attack on four minority congresswomen.

The fact is, Mr. Trump is a racial arsonist who encourages bigotry and xenophobia to rouse his base and advance his electoral prospects. In this, he inspires imitators.

Republicans should view Mr. Trump as the liability that he is: No matter his flag-hugging, or his military parades, he’s no patriot. In front of the world, he sides with Vladimir Putin over our own intelligence community. That’s dangerous. He encouraged Russian interference in the 2016 election, and he refuses to take foreign threats seriously as we enter the 2020 election. That’s reckless. For three years, he has been at war with our federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, as he embraces tyrants abroad and embarrasses our allies. That’s un-American.

And despite what his enablers claim, Mr. Trump isn’t a conservative. He’s reckless on fiscal issues; he’s incompetent on the border; he’s clueless on trade; he misunderstands executive power; and he subverts the rule of law. It’s his poor record that makes him most worthy of a primary challenge.

Mr. Trump has taken the legitimate differences that Americans have on policy and turned them into personal division. He’s caused me to change my tone and to reflect upon where I went over the line and to focus on policy differences moving forward.

We now have a president who retweets conspiracy theories implicating his political opponents in Jeffrey Epstein’s death. We now have a president who does his level best to avoid condemning white supremacy and white nationalism.

Yes, William Weld, the former Massachusetts governor, is challenging Mr. Trump from the center. But the president is more vulnerable to a challenge from the right. I’m on the right, and I’m hugely disappointed that challenge hasn’t yet materialized.

Mr. Trump’s most vulnerable against a challenger who’d make the case for strong borders-- instead of warning of “invaders,” dragging us down, turning neighbor against neighbor. A majority of Americans want fixes to our most basic problems.

We need someone who could stand up, look the president in the eye and say: “Enough, sir. We’ve had enough of your indecency. We’ve had enough of your lies, your bullying, your cruelty, enough of your insults, your daily drama, your incitement, enough of the danger you place this country in every single day. We don’t want any of this anymore, and the country certainly can’t stand four more years of it.”
Problem: everyone on the extreme right fringe between the Republican and the Nazi parties-- think Mark Meadows (NC), Liz Cheney (WY), Gym Jordan (OH), Chris Collins (NY) Steve King (IA), Barry Loudermilk (GA), John Ratcliffe (TX), Steve Scalise (LA), Louie Gohmert (TX), Mo Brooks (AL), Virginia Foxx (NC), Jody Hice (GA), Duncan Hunter (CA)-- are all avid, all-in Trump supporters. So who do they hope to get? Maybe one of the kids who learned how to use a mortar. Are they old enough yet?

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14% Of Gays Voted For Trump In 2016. Anyone Know What Percentage Of Jews Voted For Hitler?


I spend hours a day speaking with candidates all around the country. listening to their rationale about why Blue America should endorse them and help them raise money. Sometimes it's an absolute joy-- like meeting brilliant, refreshing and sincere progressives who I know will make such a difference when they're in Congress. It's how I felt when I spoke to AOC, to Alan Grayson, to Donna Edwards, Rashida Tlaib, Ted Lieu, Pramila Jayapal, Jamie Raskin, Ro Khanna and, more recently to Andy Levin, Kim Williams, Mike Siegel, Eva Putzova, Audrey Denney, Jamaal Bowman, Shan Chowdhury, Rachel Ventura... I better stop now or I'll fill up this whole page.

But you know what drives me crazy when I talk to candidates-- when they show a like of courage, stupidity, greasy careerism... when they show me they get their talking points from Fox News, the DCCC, EMILY's List or the Republican Party. Don't we have enough people in Congress wasting seats with mindsets made from that garbage? Yesterday I wasted hours on the phone talking with Democratic congressional candidates who wanted to tell me how conservative their districts are and how progressive ideas could never win-- how Medicare-for-All, the Green New Deal and raising the minimum wage would kill their campaigns. When I take the time to try to make one understand why he was getting it all wrong about raising the minimum wage, he got all huffy and said, "Well, that's your opinion" and then cited one of the most right-wing morons in Congress-- who is likely about to lose her seat because she's pissed off her own base so badly by voting with the GOP-- as proof of why raising the minimum wage was a bad idea. His mind was made up. He has zero chance of winning the seat.

But if you think the GOP doesn't have a team sitting around coming up with narratives and talking points-- as does the DCCC-- I suggest you read this piece Steve Contorno wrote for the Tampa Bay Times yesterday, Memo reveals a House Republican strategy on shootings: downplay white nationalism, blame left. "Congressional Republicans," wrote Contorno, "recently circulated talking points on gun violence that falsely described the El Paso massacre and other mass shootings as 'violence from the left.' A document obtained by the Tampa Bay Times and sent by House Republicans provides a framework for how to respond to anticipated questions like, 'Why won’t you pass legislation to close the ‘gun show loophole’ in federal law?' and 'Why shouldn’t we ban high-capacity magazines?' The answers are boilerplate Republican arguments against tougher gun restrictions. But it also included this question: 'Do you believe white nationalism is driving more mass shootings recently?' The suggested response is to steer the conversation away from white nationalism to an argument that implies both sides are to blame."
“White nationalism and racism are pure evil and cannot be tolerated in any form," the document said. “We also can’t excuse violence from the left such as the El Paso shooter, the recent Colorado shooters, the Congressional baseball shooter, Congresswoman Giffords’ shooter and Antifa."

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, included the talking points in a newsletter that he emailed this week to his Florida constituents. His spokeswoman Summer Robertson said they were “provided by the House Republican Conference," the caucus arm in charge of devising messaging strategy for its members. The conference’s internal strategies are not usually made public.
The Dayton shooter, a conveniently dead KKK supporter has been painted as a Bernie and Elizabeth Warren supporter by Trump and the GOP. He shot and killed his transgender brother in the murder spree (who was reported to be a girl by the media. Contorno reported that despite the GOP talking points-- often reported as facts by the media-- "Extremist-related murders have spiked in the last year, according to the Anti-Defamation League, and the vast majority-- 73 percent-- are committed by right-wing extremists and white supremacists. Not a single extremist-related murder in the United States last year was carried out by 'the left.'... FBI Director Christopher Wray recently told Congress 'a majority of the domestic terrorism cases we’ve investigated are motivated by some version of what you might call white supremacist violence.'" That's the opposite of what Republican officials, Fox News and Hate Talk radio use to brainwash their moron victims. It's a damn shame when Democrats running for Congress get caught up in the rinse cycle.

I was born into a Jewish family that was very anti-fascist, primarily because of the shared Jewish experience of the Holocaust, which was not a "both sides" kind of thing, just an example of right-wing racism gone amuck. So it really pains me to see Jews buy into the whole Republican/Trumpist thing-- and there are plenty who do for one reason (selfishness, stupidity, racism, greed) or another (Israel). There are still people alive today who can when there were a few Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto who joined Group 13. Horrorfying... but you know what's even more insane than a Jew revitalizing the whole kapo idea? Gays doing the same thing today. Ever hear of the Log Cabin Republicans? Gwen Aviles wrote a piece about then yesterday for, Gay Republican Group Endorses Trump In Reversal From 2016. "The Log Cabin Republicans, the nation’s largest collective of LGBTQ conservatives, has officially endorsed the re-election of President Donald Trump-- after its board of directors voted against endorsing him in 2016-- stating that Trump has advanced LGBTQ rights and helped the GOP move past 'culture wars' during his tenure. In a Washington Post OpEd published on Thursday evening, Robert Kabel, chairman of the group, and Jill Homan, its vice president, wrote that 'for LGBTQ Republicans, watching the 2016 GOP convention before Donald Trump was like a dream fulfilled' and marked the beginning of Trump removing gay rights 'as a wedge issue from the old Republican handbook' and 'taking bold actions that benefit the LGBTQ community.'" Sounds like an alternative universe? It is. Sad that these people are so incredibly stupid or-- much worse-- kapo-like.
The group, which announced new board leadership in March, cites Trump’s commitment to end HIV/AIDS in 10 years, which was met both was cautious optimism and flat-out skepticism, and his work with Richard Grenell, the openly gay U.S. ambassador to Germany, to encourage other nations to end the criminalization of homosexuality, as examples of his dedication to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.

It also states that other Trump policies, which were not specifically delineated as LGBTQ policies, such as his tax cuts, trade deals and “hard line on foreign policy,” have benefited gay Americans.

Though the Log Cabin Republicans are lending their support to Trump, the group said that it does not agree with all of his and his administrations’ actions, including the so-called transgender military ban.

“We are committed to letting all qualified Americans serve in the military,” the Log Cabin Republicans wrote. “We oppose the transgender service restriction and will continue to press the administration to reconsider.”

The Log Cabin Republicans endorsement of Trump comes as it marks a reversal from its 2016 stance.

The former president of the Log Cabin Republicans, Gregory T. Angelo, has been critical of policies enacted under Trump in the past. Three years ago, he issued a statement against Trump’s election platform, which he called “the most anti-LGBT platform in the party’s 162-year history.”

“Opposition to marriage equality, nonsense about bathrooms, an endorsement of the debunked psychological practice of ‘pray the gay away’-- it’s all in there,” he wrote at the time. “This isn’t my GOP, and I know it’s not yours either.”

Yet, Angelo appears to have had a change of heart, writing on Twitter Thursday night that the Log Cabin Republicans’ endorsement of Trump should have come in 2016.

Not all members of the Log Cabin Republicans agree with the group's assessment of Trump's track record on LGBTQ issues.

Jordan Evans, who became the only openly transgender Republican elected official after she was elected the Town Constable of Charlton, Massachusetts, in 2017, said she was "extremely upset" by the group's endorsement.

"I'm awestruck that they would endorse Trump, given his track record that's been nothing but detrimental to the LGBTQ community," Evans said. "Especially because we have another Republican candidate-- Bill Weld-- so to not even give him a chance or to wait to make an endorsement until after the RNC convention is unexplainable."

Evans added that the group's endorsement was indicative of the "greater disconnect" between Republicans and LGBTQ individuals and that it would make it harder for the Log Cabin Republicans to collaborate with other queer groups who were already "weary" to work with them.

"We keep falling back on the queer issues of yesterday, but we need to approach this new horizon, which includes fighting for public accommodations and transgender rights," Evans said. "We should be focusing on how we can have an effective voice, not going backwards."

A number of gay Democrats have also disavowed the endorsement.

“Hey @LogCabinGOP, that endorsement seems even more #%** stupid today...,” Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Sims, D-Philadelphia, wrote on Twitter.

“You’re an embarrassment. And a sympathizer for a racist, queerphobic regime,” Jonathan D. Lovitz, senior vice president of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, wrote in response to a tweet from Richard Walters, the chief of staff for the Republican National Committee, sharing news of the endorsement. “History will always remember where people like you and the @LogCabinGOP stood.”

In addition to the president’s contentious transgender military policy, which bars transgender personnel from serving openly and denies them access to gender-affirming medical care, the Health and Human Services Department proposed a new rule in May suggesting that federal laws banning sex discrimination in health care don’t apply to patients’ “gender identity."

United States citizenship has also been denied to some children of LGBTQ couples, and just this week, the Trump administration unveiled a proposed rule that would greatly expand the exemption that allows religious entities to ignore anti-discrimination laws by broadening the definition to include federal contractors that declare themselves to be religious-- a rule that LGBTQ advocates have decried as a license to discriminate.

While the Log Cabin Republicans are a significant endorsement for Trump, LGBTQ voters are a reliable part of the Democratic base, according to exit polls. In the 2018 midterm elections, over 80 percent of LGBTQ people said they voted for the Democrat in their local federal election, while just 17 percent voted for the Republican. And in 2016, 78 percent of LGBTQ voters said they voted for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, while just 14 percent reported supporting Donald Trump.
There are lots of gays in Congress. The Democrats, with just a very few exceptions from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, are all fine with their identity and out of the closet. None of the Republicans are "out." All of them-- from Jason Smith (R-MO) and Adrian Smith (R-NE) to Lindsey Graham (R-SC), #MoscowMitch (R-KY) and Patrick McHenry (R-NC) are homophobic, self-loathing, deceitful closet cases who vote against the LGBTQ community whenever they have the opportunity and who have become practiced liars, not just about their sexual identity, but about everything!

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NM-03 Could Be One Of The Most Important Battleground Districts For Progressives In 2020-- If There's A Progressive Running


As you can see from the map above, New Mexico has 3 congressional districts. NM-01 is basically Albuquerque (most of Bernalillo County) and its surroundings in much less populated Sandoval (blue), Torrance (red) and Santa Fe (red) counties. The PVI is D+7 and Obama won it with big margins both times he ran. Hillary didn't do nearly as well but still beat Trump convincingly-- 51.6% to 35.1%. Bernie won the primary in 2016 and didn't just beat Hillary but also beat Trump. In fact, Bernie beat all the Republicans combined. The congressional seat was open in 2018 and a stalwart progressive, Deb Haaland won the primary and then the general-- 59.1% to 36.3%.

NM-02 is most of the southern half of the state and it leans red. The PVI is R+6. Obama lost it narrowly both times and then Trump clobbered Hillary 50.1% to 39.9%. There are 19 counties or pieces of counties in the district. The biggest (by far) is Doña Ana (Las Cruces, north of El Paso)-- which is also the bluest-- and the only other county with much of a population is way up in the Albuquerque area, Valencia, which also swings blue. Other than that though, it's a pretty red district.The next 4 biggest counties are all overwhelmingly red: Otero, Chaves, Eddy and Lea. It was a super-close race in 2018-- the seat was open-- but a really bad Blue Dog, Xochitl Torres Small, narrowly beat Republican Yvette Herrell, 101,489 (50.9%) to 97,767 (49.1%), Torres Small is a disaster and her strategy is to vote like a Republican in the hope of luring Republican voters and while praying the Democratic base either doesn't notice or just figures that as terrible as she is, she'll be better than a Republican... even if just fractionally.

And that brings us to the bluest district in the state, NM-03 in the north. It includes Santa Fe, Rio Rancho, Clovis, Gallup, Los Alamos, Taos and Farmington and has a solid D+8 PVI. Obama kicked ass both time he ran-- first with 61.2% and then with 57.5%. But even when New Mexicans had to decide who was the lesser of two evils, Hillary beat Trump 51.8% to 36.7%. The district is around 40% Hispanic, 38% white and 17% Native American with a big Navajo population as well as Pueblos and Apaches.

The congressman since 2008 has been Ben Ray Luján, just a dull careerist and hereditary politician-- his dad, Ben Luján, was speaker of the state House-- with no strong beliefs and no backbone. He's running for the U.S. Senate, so leaving the NM-03 seat empty. In a strong blue district, this is a perfect opportunity to replace a waste-of-a-seat member with a strong progressive. But, for some reason, as far as I've been able to determine, there isn't one running. There are 10 Democrats running (an 11th, Rob Apodaca withdrew Thursday) and another 9 considering running. Yesterday an ex-Democrat, former Santa Fe County Commissioner Harry Montoya, filed FEC papers to run for the seat as well.

The dumb-narrative in the district is that the Democrats there are conservative so a progressive can't run. Oy, is that dumb! Does that mean the Democrats there don't want dental insurance included in Medicare? Does it mean they don't want to see the age for Medicare gradually lowered until it includes everyone? Does that mean they don't want to save the planet from Climate Change? Does it mean they oppose free public colleges? Does it mean they oppose raising the minimum wage to a living wage? Polling has consistently shown that the Democrats in NM-03 very much want all of those things-- and want them, strongly. It's why Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver is running on them and it's why Luján, who has consistently opposed every progressive proposal introduced into Congress, immediately started signing on as a co-sponsor to all of them as soon as Maggie's platform was released.

But the dumb-narrative persists, primarily because dumb-media and dumb-politicians repeat it over and over. It doesn't mean anything substantive but it's how nothing politicians like Luján keep getting elected and reelected. With so many candidates, it's going to be a tough nut to crack in terms of figuring out who's who and what they stand for. Remember this Chris Hayes suggestion? This district is the polar opposite-- all noise, no meat.

I had high hopes that Valerie Plame, who has certainly served the country well, might be the progressive I was looking for but... still not sure-- although, when I spoke to her yesterday, she told me she backs the Green New Deal, banning the sale of assault weapons and Medicare-for-All, adding the caveat "for those who want it." Most of my friends in the state have suggested Teresa Leger Fernandez is the progressive I'm looking for but everything about her website screams an identity politics, DCCC-EMILY's List nothing-candidate. There's no way to get in touch with her on the site-- usually a good indication a candidate is a corporate shill. There is no issues page, which is 100% pure DCCC-EMILY's List. And the website is just all about her. It's all "me! me! me!" and nothing about what she's offering the people in the district. She released this intro video this week. It doesn't say a damn thing about how she's likely to behave in Congress. Will she be like Deb Haaland, whose voting record is an "A" or like Xochitl Torres Small, whose voting record is an "F." It makes a difference.

UPDATE: Progressive

This guy Kyle Tisdel sounds good. He's seriously running on the Green New Deal and all the issues around it. I should talk with him.

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The Grassroots Will Defeat Trump, But The Democrats In Congress Have A Role To Play Also


This is how the Republican Party depicts women of color fighting for their rights

This week, UC Berkeley political science professor Taeku Lee explained Trump's fears of women of color and how Democrats take them for granted instead of mobilizing them. "Women of color, especially black women," he wrote, "are potent forces in progressive politics, both in office and as organizers who mobilize voters. It seems that liberals take this for granted, but conservatives tacitly recognize the political power of women of color when they try to discredit them through ridicule and harassment. Consider President Trump’s attacks on the members of 'the squad' who have proven to be remarkably deft and savvy politicians. Or recall that Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia played referee, scorekeeper and contestant so he could tip the scales in his favor in the 2018 election for governor against Stacey Abrams, whose voter protection efforts had begun years earlier.
That’s why it’s important to note that the outcome of the 2020 election will likely depend upon the efforts of independent groups led by women of color-- like Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta and the New Virginia Majority Education Fund-- that are expert at the nuts and bolts of politicking.

A new report called Ahead of the Majority, by the AAPI Civic Engagement Fund and Groundswell Fund uses recently released census data, polling data from the 2018 midterm elections and interviews with community organizers to illuminate the political power of women of color. Their numbers are growing, and they are turning out to vote; mobilizing their families, friends and communities; and taking to the streets.

Since 2008, women of color have grown by 18 percentage points in the general population and by 25 percentage points among registered voters. This is starting to show up at the ballot box. The 2018 election set new benchmarks for turnout in a midterm election, with a whopping 30 million more people voting than in 2014. For women of color, the increased turnout was even more stark, at 37 percent; for Latinas it was 51 percent; and for Asian-American and Pacific Islander women, 48 percent.

Women of color incited this change because they mobilized their friends and family in significant numbers. Black women led the way, with 84 percent convincing members of their social networks to register and vote, followed by 76 percent of Asian-American and Pacific Islander women, 72 percent of Native American women, 70 percent of Latinas and 66 percent of white women.

Turnout also substantially relied on the efforts of independent political groups. Consider that nearly half of 2018 voters who were contacted to register or go to the polls reported that the contact came from a group unaffiliated with a political party.

Voters of color were more likely to have been contacted this way, and these numbers buttress the experience of community-based organizations on the ground that carried out an uncommon range of nonpartisan civic engagement activities to reach those who had recently become citizens or who were classified as having a “low propensity” to vote.

The impact of community groups is especially impressive given their limited resources. Those focused on reaching communities of color have even fewer resources.

Women of color who are organizers on the ground testify that they were effective because they came from the same communities they were organizing. These independent community groups see women as the original influencers in the family and designed culturally informed programs for them. Those programs drew from the knowledge of existing networks and were used to help develop homegrown talent instead of simply relying on outside strategists who parachute into communities to extract surgical campaign victories.

...We are in a time of extraordinary challenges and opportunities for our democratic politics. At moments like this, people most directly impacted best understand the urgency for change and action. In 2018 women of color showed America what that urgency means in terms of political engagement.

Ninety-three percent of black women voters supported a Democratic House candidate as did 68 percent of Native American women, 76 percent of Latinas and 73 percent of Asian-American and Pacific Islander women. This does not bode well for the incumbent president.

Mr. Trump’s re-election strategy is focused on energizing his base of disaffected white men. And with white women evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, we would do well to heed the potential for women of color to decide the outcome of the 2020 election.
Thursday there was a lot of discussion online of Jim Lardner's American Pospect piece, Have Democrats Forgotten How to Do Oversight?. Lardner suggests what Democrats in Congress can do to help to unseat Trump while the grassroots defeats him. His panel of experts came to the conclusion that the Democrats "should not see their task simply as one of picking up the package of evidence handed to them by Robert Mueller and continuing to pursue the case he was either unable to nail or unwilling to state. Mueller felt bound to define his investigation narrowly, sticking to the trail of a potential Trump-Russia plot to meddle in the 2016 elections and adjacent offenses. The House, my panel of authorities agrees, needs to define its investigation broadly, as an inquiry into the bigger and more basic problem of kleptocratic corruption-- of self-enrichment, crony enrichment, and betrayal of the public trust." Sounds about right.
That rich realm encompasses three sub-territories. The first consists of all the areas where the Trumps have tried to turn the presidency to personal profit, whether by sneaking a $60 million real-estate developers’ tax break into the Republican tax package; getting government entities, contractors, and supplicants to purchase overpriced lodgings at Trump properties; or doing whatever they did with the $100 million supposedly raised for the inauguration ceremonies. In the second zone lie the various members of the president’s circle who, following his lead, have taken financial advantage of official positions or Trump ties. That domain blurs over into a third, in which we find the galaxy of federal departments and agencies that, thanks to the strategic placement of industry lobbyists and corporate insiders in the decision-making ranks, now routinely bow down to corporate interests at everybody else’s expense.

...In Trump’s case, the immediate loot was supposed to come from a real-estate boondoggle in Moscow. But he had also developed a taste for Russian financing when past sources had run dry. “After multiple bankruptcies in the 1980s and ’90s, Trump turned to Russian oligarchs and crime figures for a ready supply of cash,” Representative Jamie Raskin pointed out to me. “They were looking for ways to launder and safeguard money looted from the former Soviet Union.” Those transactions and thoughts of more like them appear to have been the original source of Trump’s desire to cozy up to Vladimir Putin, and in that sense, they drive U.S. Russia policy today.

Democrats, Raskin and others say, should rethink the aim as well as the subject matter of their inquiry. A scholar of constitutional law by trade (a former professor of same at American University’s law school), Raskin has no doubts about the impeachment-worthiness of credible allegations already on record. But regardless of what the House decides about impeachment or how long it takes to decide, it is time, he says, to concentrate on points of fact rather than law, and to lay out the facts to “tell a coherent and digestible story to the American people about how the president’s campaign and administration have both been money-making operations from top to bottom.” Storytelling must be the mission. And the story has to go beyond the act of corruption, says Paul C. Light, an oversight specialist and professor of public service at New York University; it needs to include the injury to government’s ability to do right by everyday people. “There’s a lot of outrage in the Democratic bloodstream,” Light says. “Unfortunately the House has not paid much attention so far to the effects of Trump’s corruption. Why does it matter to the American people? How does it affect your pocketbook or your children’s future? Who’s he robbing?”

Eight years in the minority have sapped the Democrats’ supply of oversight know-how. One of the party’s past masters of the art, former Representative Henry Waxman, counsels persistence and a willingness to “hit the same point over and over again.” The Democrats, he says, should borrow a page from Trump’s “No collusion, no obstruction” playbook. They should be willing to keep pounding away at a concise (in their case, true) message about crooked government and innocent people being shafted. “Sometimes it’s hard to get something across except in a cumulative way,” Waxman says.

...On top of the usual challenges, Democrats must now deal with a president and an attorney general telling everyone under their authority (and quite a few people who aren’t) to withhold cooperation. “Lots of norms are being thrown out the window,” says Molly Claflin, a former Senate Judiciary staffer now employed at American Oversight, an anti-corruption nonprofit that files lawsuits and surfaces official documents to compensate for the recent neglect and underfunding of Congress’s investigative work.

To get over the Trump stonewall, House committee staffers will have to cast a wide and imaginative net for witnesses, what with all the Trump-dependent people likely to resist testifying. One place to look, Light suggests, is in the middle ranks of corrupted entities, private or public. The Financial Services Committee, for example, might bring in some of the Deutsche Bank financial-crime watchdogs who tried to warn their superiors against continued lending to Trump family interests. The Natural Resources Committee could question some of the career employees at the Environmental Protection Agency who have been blocked from going after polluters. If such people feel skittish about testifying, they can be offered the option of wearing masks and having their voices distorted—a nice touch, perhaps, for the committee’s attention-getting purposes as well as the witnesses’ job-security purposes.

The ultimate victims of crooked government-- everyday people-- can also be called in. A Department of Education in the clutches of for-profit college companies and private student lenders is one unlikely to implement a loan forgiveness program for holders of student debt who commit themselves to public service. Light points to that program as a neglected and ripe target for oversight. “You have tens of thousands of people,” he says, “who have made their payments on time and are working as police officers, nurses, medical professionals and can’t get a dollar of forgiveness.” The testimony of a carefully chosen sample of those people could be the perfect prologue to a round of student-loan hearings.

Powerful stories can be aired more than once in forums with different frames of reference. The House Education and Labor Committee could hold a stand-alone hearing on the loan forgiveness program, for example; but that problem could also be examined by the Oversight and Reform Committee, under the spirited leadership of Elijah Cummings of Maryland, as part of a multi-agency investigation of the role of the former corporate lobbyists and executives now littered across the federal government. They’re all over: David Bernhardt, the fossil fuel lobbyist turned interior secretary, proud of his readiness to hand out oil-drilling leases in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; Daniel Elwell, the former airline guy running the FAA while it slow-walked its response to the safety issues of the Boeing 737 MAX; Jay Clayton, the ex–Goldman Sachs lawyer (married to an ex–Goldman Sachs executive) presiding over the Securities and Exchange Commission, and on and on. “Trump has found a fox for every henhouse in Washington,” Raskin says. That point could be effectively dramatized not only by the testimony of career public servants trying to do their jobs, but by an electronic map of the Trump administration with one agency after another lighting up as its conflicted leaders are identified.

Tax policy and tax enforcement is an obvious hearing topic. The Ways and Means Committee, under the cautious chairmanship of Richard Neal, took a woefully long time to sue for Trump’s tax returns, and it is unclear whether or how soon that litigation will bear fruit. The practical consequences of a New York law intended to force the release of Trump’s state tax returns are also up in the air. But Neal’s committee should have plenty of fodder for investigation, including an “opportunity zone” tax break with potentially large benefits for Jared and Ivanka, the disposition of a $7 million back-tax debt owed by the hedge fund manager and Republican donor Robert Mercer, and the strangely fast-tracked Senate confirmation of an Internal Revenue Service general counsel who had previously helped the Trump Organization with its taxes.

...The country needs Congress to do more oversight, not less. It’s time for the Democrats to map out a coordinated and thoughtfully sequenced series of hearings and investigations designed both to expose new information and to stir more awareness and outrage over what is already known and half-known. Old stories, vividly told, can have fresh impact; that is true even if they have a sketchy basis in reality, as the House Republicans proved with their endless claims about Benghazi and Hillary Clinton’s emails. The Democrats can proceed, moreover, with confidence that more dirt will surface, even if they cannot say exactly what it will be or where it will be found. Elected by fraud and fluke, Donald Trump has given us the crookedest presidency in our national memory, if not our history. Never has anyone with so much to hide occupied such a central and visible place. That is a formula guaranteed to keep the flow of ugly information coming as long as anyone keeps looking.

Mueller and his team, in the course of not quite finding an actionable Trump-Russia conspiracy, unearthed evidence of a multitude of other offenses, and that haul helped the Democrats retake the House of Representatives last year. By Election Day next year, Trump’s crimes could be his undoing, and they could pose an impossible burden for his Republican partners in Congress as well. The Democrats cannot be sure of that-- but it would be a terrible mistake to discount the possibility. Donald Trump himself is clearly troubled by the prospect of renewed scrutiny. We caught a recent glimpse of that fear in his racist fulminations against Elijah Cummings-- a crazed preemptive effort to undermine one of the senior House members and committee chairs most bent on pressing ahead with aggressive oversight. If the president doesn’t think he’s home free, the Democrats had better not make that assumption either.
We'll close for now with a poignant message-- some ideas for a song and video perhaps?-- from Lee's son, Mötley Crüe lead singer Tommy:

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If The Most Right-Wing Democrat In Congress, Josh Gottheimer, Now Backs An Assault Weapons Ban, Why Can't Pelosi?


Yesterday, Rachel Bade reported that the House Judiciary Committee "will return to DC on Sept. 4 at 10 a.m. to markup gun bills banning high capacity ammunition magazines; instituting red flags and anti-hate legislation. The panel will hold a hearing on an assault weapons ban later in the month. The assault weapons ban hearing is, essentially, Dem leadership's olive branch to the left on the assault weapons ban. They don't think they have the votes to pass it & don't wanna try to force moderate members to vote on it."

Thank you, Ms. Bade for another reminder that careerist Democrats like Pelosi despise Democratic values. They do have the votes to pass Cicilline's bill to ban the sale of assault weapons-- if they wanted to. But they don't... because they are afraid to force moderate conservative members to vote on it. Funny how even these conservative members have started signing on as co-sponsors to Cicilline's bill just hours after the latest NRA massacres in El Paso, Gilroy and Dayton.

The chart up top shows the 10 worst Democrats in Congress. You might call them "moderates," but their records clearly and unambiguously define what they actually are: CONSERVATIVES. Anyway, the most conservative non-freshman Democrat in the House, Josh Gottheimer, who represents mostly suburban Bergen County in northern New Jersey, adamantly refused to sign onto Cicilline's bill when it was introduced on February 15. On August 6-- back in his district, where he was hearing from furious constituents-- he called Cicilline and said he had to be listed as a co-sponsor immediately, not after they got back from recess in September. In fact, 6 Democrats called Cicilline that day with the same request-- and two more-- New Dems Cindy Axne (IA) and Joaquin Castro (TX)-- called this past Tuesday asking to have their names on the co-sponsor list too.

I'm told that another 10-12 will sign on when they get back in a couple of weeks. And now there are some Republicans in suburban districts who say they will vote for the sales ban too. Mike Turner (R-OH) has already announced it publicly. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Brian Mast (R-FL) and John Katko (R-NY) are telling angry constituents that they'll vote for it too. Turner: "I will support legislation that prevents the sale of military-style weapons to civilians, a magazine limit, and red-flag legislation. The carnage these military-style weapons are able to produce when available to the wrong people is intolerable."

Suddenly the problem is Pelosi-- the concentration camp-funding Speaker who needs to be removed ASAP if anything is going to be accomplished din Congress. Pelosi's excuse is that she has to protect right-of-center freshmen in red districts, garbage members like Jeff Van Drew (Blue Dog-NJ), Joe Cunningham (Blue Dog-SC), Anthony Brindisi (Blue Dog-NY), Kendra Horn (Blue Dog-OK), Ben McAdams (Blue Dog-UT), Jared Golden (ME), Abigail Spanberger (Blue Dog-VA), Elaine Luria (New Dem-VA)... So, the excuse for accomplishing NOTHING worthwhile that the public put the Democrats back in power to accomplish, is that if they do, some of the worst, most right-wing Republican-voting members may be defeated. Let them be defeated if they can't defend voting to ban the sale of assault weapons. I think it's more likely they'll be defeated for voting against banning the sales-- along with plenty of Republicans.

If Pelosi allowed a vote, it would be murderous for Republicans who stuck with the NRA, especially Republicans in suburban areas. Voting against Cicilline's bill would put these Republican incumbents in very grave jeopardy because of the urban and suburban women in their districts who are likely to vote on this one issue:
Dave Schweikert (AZ)- 87.7% urban, 12.1% suburban
Devin Nunes (CA)- 66.7% urban, 32.5% suburban
Duncan Hunter (CA)- 89.6% suburban
Ross Spano (FL)- 54.2% urban, 44.9% suburban
Brian Mast (FL)- 54.3% suburban, 40.5% urban
Mike Bost (IL)- 65.0% suburban, 7.7% urban
Rodney Davis (IL)- 48.1% urban, 25.6% suburban
Fred Upton (MI)- 36.1% urban, 34.2% suburban
Ann Wagner (MO)- 96.7% suburban, 3.1% urban
Don Bacon (NE)- 81.8% urban, 17.1% suburban
Chris Smith (NJ)- 79.4% suburban, 20.6% urban
Lee Zeldin (NY)- 99.9% suburban
Peter King (NY)- 72.6% suburban, 27.4% urban
John Katko (NY)- 53.0%, 31.0%
Ted Budd (NC)- 43.5% urban, 39.9% suburban
George Holding (NC)- 42.2% suburban, 26.8% urban
Steve Chabot (OH)- 56.9% urban, 42.2% suburban
Brian Fitzpatrick (PA)- 100% suburban
Mike Kelly (PA)- 48.3% suburban, 19.5% urban
Chip Roy (TX)- 70.0% urban, 15.3% suburban
Michael McCaul (TX)- 50.7% suburban, 29.4% urban
John Carter (TX)- 58.3% urban, 36.5% suburban
Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA)- 54.7% urban, 25.6% suburban
And what about holding onto the red seats where incumbents have announced they're retiring? These 5 look like goners:
GA-07 (Woodall)- 96.1% suburban
IN-05 (Brooks)- 52.2% urban, 35.8% suburban
TX-22 (Olson)- 64.7% suburban, 33.0% urban
TX-23 (Hurd)- 61.3% urban, 7.3% suburban
TX-24 (Marchant)- 53.9% suburban, 46.1% urban
So which Democrats are refusing to get behind the sales ban? Overwhelmingly, foolish New Dems and Blue Dogs from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, men and women seriously miscalculating how intensely their own constituents feel about assault weapons, many of them persuaded by one of the dumbest and most incompetent Democrats that this is the correct approach for them-- asshole Cheri Bustos, the best ally the NRCC could ever hope for. This is the whole list of the idiots still not backing the sales ban, although the ones in italics are likely to flip with just a few constituent calls; some might take more than "just a few," but all the ones in italics are worth calling iff you live in their district:
Colin Allred (New Dem-TX)
Sanford Bishop (Blue Dog-GA)
Anthony Brindisi (Blue Dog-NY)
Cheri Bustos (New Dem-IL)
Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO)
T.J. Cox (D-CA)
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)
Sharice Davids (New Dem-KS)
Pete DeFazio (D-OR)
Abby Finkenauer (D-IA)
Joe Cunningham (Blue Dog-SC)
Lizzie Fletcher (New Dem-TX)
Jared Golden (D-ME)
Vicente Gonzalez (Blue Dog-TX)
Josh Harder (New Dem-CA)
Katie Hill (New Dem-CA)
Kendra Horn (Blue Dog-OK)
Andy Kim (D-NJ)
Ron Kind (New Dem-WI)
Conor Lamb (D-PA)
Elaine Luria (New Dem-VA)
Ben McAdams (Blue Dog-UT)
Tom O'Halleran (Blue Dog-AZ)
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)
Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR)
Kim Schrier (New Dem-WA)
Terri Sewell (New Dem-AL)
Elissa Slotkin (New Dem-MI)
Greg Stanton (New Dem-AZ)
Bennie Thompson (D-MS)
Xochitl Torres Small (Blue Dog-NM)
Abigail Spanberger (Blue Dog-VA)
Haley Stevens (New Dem-MI)
Mike Thompson (Blue Dog-CA)
Lauren Underwood (D-IL)
Jeff Van Drew (Blue Dog-NJ)
Filemon Vela (Blue Dog-TX)
This was Gottheimer's OpEd after he flip-flopped and suddenly became a booster for a sales ban on assault weapons:
Just a few hours after the second mass shooting this past weekend, a parent I know said to me, stressing the futility of it all, “I guess we just can’t do anything.”

I refuse to accept that.

Last year, after the tragedy in Parkland, where we lost so many children, many of us in Congress came together, across party lines, and passed legislation that provided more resources for school safety, including more investment to support mental health and increased coordination among law enforcement agencies.

It was just a start, yet far from everything we must accomplish. But it was clear to me that, after decades of inaction, there was finally recognition that we could finally solve this problem plaguing our nation.

There is so much to do and it’s high time we finished our work. After all, in only the last 10 days, between the atrocities in Dayton, El Paso, and Gilroy, we’ve lost 34 lives, with scores more injured-- not to mention the more than 36,000 lives lost to guns every year. In 2019, so far, there have now been more mass shootings than days.

How many more times will we have to watch parents weeping at their child’s funeral?

Congress should immediately return to Washington for a special session to take practical steps to curb the epidemic of gun violence in our country, including many measures even the President and Republicans have supported: implementing red flag laws, banning military-style assault weapons and high capacity magazines, and instituting background checks for all purchases, including at gun shows.

Gottheimer and Trump

This week, I also joined with fellow Democrats, including many of my New Jersey colleagues, to urge Sen. Mitch McConnell, to immediately pass these bills.

Over the longer term, we must also combat the broader culture of violence targeted at our children and communities, in online forums and social media, and in racially charged and anti-immigrant rhetoric spewed in our public discourse, at all levels. Not only is it directly counter to the very fabric of our nation, but it’s tearing apart our neighborhoods and fueling unprecedented violence.

This isn’t a partisan issue. More than 90 percent of Americans support background checks, including NRA members and our law enforcement community.

After all, this isn’t about taking away the right to hunt or to protect yourself. It’s just about taking sensible steps to keep weapons out of the hands of hate-filled criminals, gang members, terrorists, and those with mental illness. No one needs to fire 41 bullets in rapid succession. That’s exactly what the gunman in Dayton did on Sunday: killing nine people in thirty seconds.

Plus, if you can’t wait a few days to pass a simple background check, you shouldn’t have a gun. And no sportsman needs an AK-47 to hunt.

New Jersey has the second toughest gun safety laws in the nation, and, thankfully, one of the lowest gun death rates. Our children our safer, our police more secure, and my constituents can still hunt.

My colleague in the House, Brian Mast, a Republican veteran who lost both his legs in Afghanistan, and voted this year for background check legislation, said it best, “I know that my community, our schools and public gathering places are not made safer by any person having access to the best killing tool the Army could put in my hands. I cannot support the primary weapon I used to defend our people being used to kill children I swore to defend.”

That’s my whole point. Enough excuses; it’s time to act. No more fake arguments about why we can’t protect our schools, malls, and nights clubs from yet another deranged killer, racist, white supremacist, or lone wolf terrorist who wants to destroy another family.

It’s time we doubled down on this fight in the halls of Congress, put aside the partisan name calling, and actually got this done. I’ll sit down with anyone-- Democrats and Republicans-- to solve this problem. Let’s start today.
Goal ThermometerMike Siegel is a principled progressive Democrat running for the TX-10 congressional seat. His opponent, Michael McCaul is a long time, lockstep NRA supporter. Siegel backs Cicilline's sales ban on assault rifles. I can image McCaul voting for a bill that allowed individuals to own mortars and tanks. "McCaul's support for the NRA is indefensible, and completely at odds with the majority of the Texas 10th Congressional District," said Siegel. "I hope Speaker Pelosi pushes this to a vote. In 2020, I'd happily run on common sense gun reform in the moderate Republican Houston suburbs of TX-10, where I could draw attention to McCaul's 'A' rating and tens of thousands of dollars in contributions from the gun lobby. For someone who likes to present himself as a 'domestic security expert,' his support for unlimited guns on American streets is a tragic contradiction." side from the tens of thousands of dollars the NRA has funneled into McCaul's career, he married into a the wealthy Hate Talk Radio family and is now one of the richest members of Congress. Mike Siegel can use some grassroots help for his campaign-- which is why that Blue America 2020 thermometer is on the right. Please consider chipping in what you can.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

"Republican Lawmaker" is the new "Florida Man." it's two words that, well, you just cringe when you see them together. It's always a "Jeez, what now?" moment. For years we've seen headlines like "Florida Man Shocked When Pet 20-Foot Python Eats Daughter" or some such thing. Or, how about trying on "Florida Man Claims He Only Drank At Stoplights, But Not While Driving" for laughs? As for "Republican Lawmakers," we get things like "Republican Lawmaker Punches Wife In Face For Not Undressing Quick Enough," or "Republican Lawmaker Yells 'Go Back To Puerto Rico' At California Rep." To be fair, "Republican Lawmakers" usually contain their most insane vocal moments to statements or actions of misogyny, mass shootings, racism, rape, or their twisted version of god. Floridians take a more no holds barred approach to insanity but republicans are making great progress in their attempts to catch up.

So now we've gone from now former Missouri "Republican Lawmaker" Todd Akin's infamous words "If it's a legitimate rape..." to Iowa's current "Republican Lawmaker" Steve King saying what amounts to "Hey, everyone has a bit of rape and incest in their family tree. What's the big deal?" Well, Steve King's statement may ring more true out in the cornfields of Iowa or other places where one best not stop for gas, food, or lodging, but just what is King trying to justify here? Is this more of that permissive Republican society "It's ok to grab 'em by the pussy" thing that Trump's 62 million supporters went for so enthusiastically back in 2016? Must be. Like Trump, who has praised King in the past, Steve King is an avowed, open, white supremacist and also like Trump, King apparently sees sexual assault as normal, approvable or at least forgivable behavior. Iowans have even voted for their beloved representative more times than the nation has voted for Trump (so far). Damn, I can't wait to hear "Republican Lawmaker" Steve King's views on Jeffrey Epstein!

Of course, none of this should be surprising coming from a Republican Party whose "Republican Lawmaker" members accept being a traitor to one's country as normal and approach every Russian oligarch with their hand out. "Hey, everybody has a little treason in their family tree!"

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Friday, August 16, 2019

There Have Been Times, Historically Speaking, When Crooked Politicians Went To Prison


So far Emanuel has not been arrested

The other day I was doing some research for a post about Mark Sanford and wandered onto an old (2014) City Paper piece, America's Worst Politicians. this was back in our innocence, before Putin decided who would sit in the Oval Office. Some I knew and some I didn't but there were some definite standouts besides Sanford. Illinois is a very sleazy state so it must have been hard to choose only two. One, obviously was Blowhard Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a write up by Mick Dumke of the Chicago Reader. How do you do this in paragraphs rather than in volumes?
Even toward the end of his 22-year mayoral reign, when he started selling off pieces of the city to hide its escalating financial woes, Richard M. Daley had broad support in Chicago. Sure, he was a tyrannical, thin-skinned jerk who doled out jobs and contracts to his friends, but he was the people's tyrannical, thin-skinned jerk who doled out jobs and contracts to his friends. His successor, Rahm Emanuel, is simply a jerk.

At least that's how he's seen by lots of Chicagoans after his first three years in office. In a recent poll commissioned by the Chicago Sun-Times, Emanuel had the support of a meager 29 percent of city voters.

The mayor and his allies stress he's made "tough choices" to get the city back on track, starting with restoring fiscal discipline. It's certainly true he's shuttered mental health clinics, raised water fees, privatized city jobs, laid off teachers, and closed schools-- four dozen of them at once. At the same time, he's poured millions of additional dollars into non-unionized, privately run charter schools.

But it's not only what he's done; it's also how he's done it. Emanuel is widely seen as an outsider who uses Chicago as a backdrop for his broader political ambitions. Though he appears regularly in city neighborhoods for news conferences, his daily meeting schedule is filled with millionaire corporate leaders and investors, earning him the nickname "Mayor 1%" (and inspiring a book of that name by journalist Kari Lydersen). He jets regularly to Washington to maintain his national image-- yet he also has a knack for avoiding the spotlight at home when it's especially hot, such as the time he was on a ski vacation when the school-closings list was released.

Still, Emanuel remains a formidable politician. He already has more than $7 million in his campaign coffers and is prepared to raise millions more before he's up for election next February. Rahm may not be loved, but he's unlikely to go down unless some high-profile candidate runs against him, and so far, that special someone hasn't jumped into the race.
And number two wasn't hard to find-- just another from the "blowhard category," this one written up very succinctly by Keegan Hamilton, Donald J. Trumpanzee:
Though the Donald isn't technically a politician (he has never held office), he routinely threatens to run for president and perpetually inserts himself into the national political debate. From stoking conspiracy theories by offering a $5 million bounty for President Obama's birth certificate to calling the 2012 election "a sham and a travesty," Trump is the ultimate political troll.

The reality TV star and real estate magnate recently toyed with the idea of running as the GOP candidate for governor of New York before removing himself from the race. And he has donated millions to candidates from both parties over the years. While his political ambitions may be as absurd as his comb-over, Trump is a master at exploiting the media to generate semi-serious discussion of fringy ideas that would normally be dismissed out of hand.

At various times, Trump has suggested repealing campaign contribution limits, imposing a 25 percent tariff on all Chinese goods, and building a "triple-layered fence" and flying Predator drones along the Mexican border.

Trump's sideshow routine has become tiresome for some reporters (BuzzFeed's McKay Coppins compared the experience of covering the Donald's short-lived 2014 gubernatorial campaign to "donning a network-branded parka during a snowstorm and shouting into the camera about a predictable phenomenon"), but many major news outlets still find the act irresistible for the ratings and page views. And that begs the question: Who's dumber, Donald Trump or the journalists who keep feeding the troll?
Ahhh... the good old days, when he was just a target of derision. Hard to top Trump, but I really wanted to find a public official who subsequently went to prison. It wasn't that hard to find: T for Texas. The gentleman, a former U.S. congressman was sentenced to serve ten years in prison on November 7, 2018 and ordered to pay $1,014,718.51 in restitution, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Right now he is incarcerated at a medical facility of the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Fort Worth. Not enough hints? Joe Tone wrote up Steve Stockman for the Dallas Observer.
There will soon come a day when Steve Stockman, the U.S. representative for the 36th District of Texas, will depart his Washington, D.C. office for the last time and fly home to southeast Texas, never to return to the city he so loathes. He probably won't fire a celebratory bullet through the Capitol dome, but he'll probably give it some consideration. Because Stockman, if nothing else, is the congressman of the gun.

It began in 1995, during the first year of his initial, short-lived stint in Congress, when he wrote in Guns and Ammo that the Clinton administration had orchestrated the siege on David Koresh's Waco compound "to prove the need for a ban on so-called 'assault weapons.'" Oddly, Stockman's political career quickly fizzled: He lost his next election. But he resurfaced in 2012 a totally unchanged man.

Less than a month after the 2012 Sandy Hook shootings, he introduced the Safe Schools Act, which would have repealed federal laws keeping guns away from schools. He then vowed to pursue the impeachment of Barack Obama after the president issued minor executive orders seeking more gun control, which Stockman called "an existential threat to this nation."

Occasionally, and memorably, he has exerted himself, to fight climate change, sex education, and, in February 2013, the Violence Against Women Act, which provides protection to gay and transgender people. "This is helping the liberals, this is horrible. Unbelievable," Stockman said. "What really bothers-- it's called a women's act, but then they have men dressed up as women, they count that. Change-gender, or whatever. How is that-- how is that a woman?"

It's this rhetorical flair that journalists will miss come next January, when Stockman, after recent failed bids for the Senate and his House seat, departs Washington again, likely for good this time. The gun lobby might miss him too, but only until it gets its strings attached to the new guy.
And that reminds me... Dan Alexander wrote up the net worth of all the candidates, many of them notorious crooks, who are running for president this cycle. Here they are-- in order of "net worth"... starting with the most corrupt man in the history of U.S. politics:
Señor Trumpanzee- $3.1 billion-- inheritance + decades of criminal activities
Tom Steyer- $1.6 billion-- hedge fund operator
John Delaney- $200 million-- Wall Street crook who took advantage of desperately sick people
Michael Bennet- $15 million-- factotum for crooked Republican Philip Anschutz who built an empire in oil, railroads, telecom, real estate and entertainment
Elizabeth Warren- $12 million-- writing books, investing
Status Quo Joe- $9 million-- criminal and unethical activities
Kamala Harris- $6 million-- criminal husband
Joe Sestak- $6 million-- investing
Beto- $4 million-- married rich
de Blasio- $2.5 million-- investing in NY real estate
Bernie- $2.5 million-- writing books
Jay Inslee- $2 million-- ?
Amy Klobuchar- $2 million-- ?
Cory Booker- $1.5 million-- investing
Steve Bullock- $1.5 million-- landlord
Marianne Williamson- $1.5 million-- writing books, investing
Kirsten Gillibrand- $1 million-- ?
Seth Moulton- $1 million-- investing
Andrew Yang- $1 million-- tech start-ups
Julian Castro- $700,000-- investments
Tulsi- $500,000-- cryptocurrency investments
Tim Ryan- $500,000-- never had a job in his life
Mayo Pete- $100,000-- McKinsey

This graphic shows how many billionaires are supporting each of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. Do you think support from a bunch of billionaires signifies something about a candidate? 

Bernie- zero

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