Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Bernie's In


Tomorrow's my birthday-- but the present I wanted most came a day early. First on Vermont Public Radio and then on CBS This Morning, Bernie announced he's running for president. Responding to a question from John Dickerson, Bernie said "I am going to run for president, that's correct. Dickerson asked him what's going to be different this time and Bernie said, "We're going to win. We are also going to launch what I think is unprecedented in modern American history and that is a grassroots movement to lay the groundwork for transforming the economic and political life of this country.
"It is absolutely imperative that Donald Trump be defeated, because I think it is unacceptable and un-American, to be frank with you, that we have a president who is a pathological liar. We have a president who is a racist, who is a sexist, who is a xenophobe, who is doing what no president in our lifetimes has come close to do doing, and that is trying to divide us up.

When Dickerson asked Bernie about the crackpot Starbucks guy who has said he'd drop out if Democrats pick a conservative, corporate whotre like himself, rather than a progressive, Bernie dismissed Schultz as a billionaire who's essentially "blackmailing the Democratic Party."
"If you don't nominate Bernie Sanders he's not gonna run?" Sanders said of Schultz. "Well, I don't think we should succumb to that kind of blackmail."

Goal ThermometerDickerson pointed out that Schultz represents the argument that Democrats, in order to win voters in more conservative parts of the country, have to pick a candidate who isn't as radical.

"I think his deeper theory is, 'Hey, I'm a billionaire. Leave me alone. And let me make as much as money as I can without paying my fair share of taxes,'" Sanders countered, without acknowledging the point.
Earlier, Bernie told Vermont Public Radio host Bob Kinzel that "We have got to look at candidates, you know, not by the color of their skin, not by their sexual orientation or their gender and not by their age. I mean, I think we have got to try to move us toward a non-discriminatory society which looks at people based on their abilities, based on what they stand for."

And for those wondering... Bernie's 2020 platform:
Medicare For All
Green New Deal
$15 Minimum Wage
Criminal justice reform
Free public college
Break up Too Big To Fail banks
Gender pay equality
Paid leave
Bring down Drug prices
Expand Social Security
Save Unions
Dream Act
The centrists and "moderates" who try to shoot this down are the same kind of politicians who thought it was too radical to pass Medicare, too radical to pass Social Security, too radical to legislate a minimum wage, too radical to allow women the vote, too radical to emancipate the slaves, too radical to mandate free public education, too radical to declare independence from Britain. There will always be politicians like Status Quo Joe Biden and Billionaire Bloomberg and Amy Klobuchar. We're always better off ignoring them.


Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

Memes are, by nature, just a quick blast that conveys a message. Among the reasons that I started up the "Midnight Meme Of The Day!" was to pass the message on, provide context or expand upon the thought, create my own memes, see if anyone out there is paying attention... I've even been known to bait trolls. Once in a while though, a meme comes along and I find that someone has already expanded on the theme and done it gloriously. So, tonight, I'm just turning the commentary over to British film writer, producer, and director Nate White. He wrote what follows when asked, by Quora, a California-based question and answer website, why so many British people don't like Trump. What he wrote has since been making the rounds on social media. It's a fine read, a little long by necessity but it reads fast. It's humorous, pointed, has a powerfully hilarious ending, and millions of patriotic Trump-hating Americans will agree with its deadly accuracy. Enjoy.
A few things spring to mind.

Trump lacks certain qualities which the British traditionally esteem.

For instance, he has no class, no charm, no coolness, no credibility, no compassion, no wit, no warmth, no wisdom, no subtlety, no sensitivity, no self-awareness, no humility, no honour and no grace-- all qualities, funnily enough, with which his predecessor Mr. Obama was generously blessed.

So for us, the stark contrast does rather throw Trump’s limitations into embarrassingly sharp relief.

Plus, we like a laugh. And while Trump may be laughable, he has never once said anything wry, witty or even faintly amusing-- not once, ever.

I don’t say that rhetorically, I mean it quite literally: not once, not ever. And that fact is particularly disturbing to the British sensibility-- for us, to lack humour is almost inhuman.

But with Trump, it’s a fact. He doesn’t even seem to understand what a joke is-- his idea of a joke is a crass comment, an illiterate insult, a casual act of cruelty.

Trump is a troll. And like all trolls, he is never funny and he never laughs; he only crows or jeers.

And scarily, he doesn’t just talk in crude, witless insults-- he actually thinks in them. His mind is a simple bot-like algorithm of petty prejudices and knee-jerk nastiness.

There is never any under-layer of irony, complexity, nuance or depth. It’s all surface.

Some Americans might see this as refreshingly upfront.

Well, we don’t. We see it as having no inner world, no soul.

And in Britain we traditionally side with David, not Goliath. All our heroes are plucky underdogs: Robin Hood, Dick Whittington, Oliver Twist.

Trump is neither plucky, nor an underdog. He is the exact opposite of that.

He’s not even a spoiled rich-boy, or a greedy fat-cat.

He’s more a fat white slug. A Jabba the Hutt of privilege.

And worse, he is that most unforgivable of all things to the British: a bully.

That is, except when he is among bullies; then he suddenly transforms into a sniveling sidekick instead.

There are unspoken rules to this stuff-- the Queensberry rules of basic decency-- and he breaks them all. He punches downwards - which a gentleman should, would, could never do-- and every blow he aims is below the belt. He particularly likes to kick the vulnerable or voiceless-- and he kicks them when they are down.

So the fact that a significant minority-- perhaps a third-- of Americans look at what he does, listen to what he says, and then think 'Yeah, he seems like my kind of guy’ is a matter of some confusion and no little distress to British people, given that:
Americans are supposed to be nicer than us, and mostly are.
You don't need a particularly keen eye for detail to spot a few flaws in the man.
This last point is what especially confuses and dismays British people, and many other people too; his faults seem pretty bloody hard to miss.

After all, it’s impossible to read a single tweet, or hear him speak a sentence or two, without staring deep into the abyss. He turns being artless into an art form; he is a Picasso of pettiness; a Shakespeare of shit. His faults are fractal: even his flaws have flaws, and so on ad infinitum.

God knows there have always been stupid people in the world, and plenty of nasty people too. But rarely has stupidity been so nasty, or nastiness so stupid.

He makes Nixon look trustworthy and George W look smart.

In fact, if Frankenstein decided to make a monster assembled entirely from human flaws-- he would make a Trump.

And a remorseful Doctor Frankenstein would clutch out big clumpfuls of hair and scream in anguish:

'My God… what… have… I… created?

If being a twat was a TV show, Trump would be the boxed set.

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Monday, February 18, 2019

Steven Miller (And Trump) Want To Sell You A Bridge... While Status Quo Joe Biden Says He Wants To Build One


Adam Schiff was on CNN yesterday, questioning questioning congressional Republicans' devotion to Congress as an institution (and the U.S. Constitution) in light of Trump's fake national emergency. "It will not be a separation of powers any more," he said, "just a separation of parties. So this is going to be a moment of truth for my GOP colleagues." When Republicans go on TV to discuss arguments they can't win-- like Trump's blatant lies about this or that or the other and all of the above-- they gravitate to their safe space: Trump TV. However, Steven Miller, one of the least sympathetic characters in current politics-- even without the shoe-polish on his head-- just may have been somewhat surprised by what happened to him yesterday on Chris Wallace's show.

Watch it above. Wallace hammered Trump's in-house Nazi when he tried vomiting out memorized press department talking points instead of answering the questions. Rachel Maddow would have be kinder and gentler. Miller could almost have been on with Lawrence O'Donnell. I wrote "almost" because O'Donnell wouldn't have let him get away with this bullshit for the sake of comity and politeness:
WALLACE: 'I didn’t need to do this.' How does that justify a national emergency?

MILLER: Well as you know Chris, we already have 4,000 troops on the border in light of a national emergency, a decision that was made almost a year ago, as we see an increasing number of people crossing the border as well as increasing violence in Mexico. What the president was saying is that like past presidents, he could choose to ignore this crisis, choose to ignore this emergency as others have; that’s not what he’s going to do.

Wallace should have called him out for asserting that because of Trump's election stunt of sending some troops to the border ("a decision that was made almost a year ago," as if that was relevant) there is a national emergency. There isn't. And Miller is insisting that the troops-- which don't need to be there, except in his mind-- must be protected with a wall. He also falsely claimed that "we see an increasing number of people crossing the border." There are fewer illegal crossings than in decades. He also stuck in-- pure fear-mongering-- that we see "increasing violence in Mexico." Not true, not relevant. Wallace didn't let it all go by without pushback though:

"The president talks about an invasion," he said, "used that word multiple times on Friday-- an invasion on the Southern border. But let’s look at the facts, I want to put them up on the screen; 1.6 million people were stopped crossing the border illegally back in 2000, less than a quarter that many were caught last year. The government’s own numbers show, for all the president is talking about drugs streaming over the border, 80 to 90 percent of the cocaine, heroin and fentanyl seized at the border is seized at ports of entry, not along unfenced areas.bAnd in 2017 twice as many of the new people in the country illegally were from visa overstays, as were from crossing the border. Again, where’s the emergency-- the national emergency to build a wall?"

Miller's response was to attack George W. Bush and accuse him of "an astonishing betrayal of the American people" for allowing illegal immigration to double from 6 to 12 million. Bringing in "cheap labor" has, of course been the agenda of the big industrial and agricultural backers of the GOP for far longer than a century. Miller isn't from that wing of the party, though. He's a proud and insistent Know Nothing Republican and he's dragged his mentally-impaired boss down that rabbit hole with him.

Wall Street Journal reporter Jess Bravin had some bad news for the Know Nothings this weekend. First of all, he wrote that within hours of Trumpanzee's Rose Garden speech, "the advocacy group Public Citizen filed suit in the Washington, D.C., federal district court to block implementation of the emergency declaration. The plaintiffs-- three Texas landowners who were notified by the government that their property could be taken to build the wall; and the Frontera Audubon Society, which operates a nature preserve in the Rio Grande Valley-- contend that no national emergency exists, and that even if one did, Mr. Trump exceeded the authority Congress gave the president to respond to military contingencies. 'The facts make clear that the premise of the president's declaration that the absence of a wall in the areas where construction is planned is an emergency is legally untenable and an impermissible basis for seeking to obligate funds that Congress has refused to appropriate for a border wall,' said Allison Zieve, a Public Citizen lawyer representing the plaintiffs."

Bevin also wrote, separately, that Democratic-led states and border communities said they were readying lawsuits to halt construction that Congress had not authorized. In Texas, El Paso County, which Señor Trumpanzee "visited Monday to make his case for a border emergency, said it would join with nonprofit groups to challenge the president’s action. 'President Trump has already made many negative and false statements about our community in the attempt to justify his border wall,' Ricardo Sanmaniego, the county judge, or chief executive, said in a release. The 'emergency declaration will further damage El Paso County’s reputation and economy, and we are determined to stop this from happening.'"

A few words about El Paso County, the 6th most populous in Texas. Beto represented most of it in Congress and now that seat is held by a long-time ally of his, Veronica Escobar. The county is blue. Kerry beat Bush 56-43% there in 2004. Obama won it-- both times-- by even greater margins. Hillary win in 2016 was a landslide-- 145,509 (69.6%) to 54,567 (25.9%). El Paso County is not Trump-friendly. Even in the 2016 GOP primary, Trump came in 3rd, after Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Not a great place for his racist policy agenda to face a jury.

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Keeping Track Of Who's In And Who's Not In The Green New Deal


Tom Suozzi is generally thought of as a pretty conservative Democrat, but when it comes to action on Climate Change... the guy loves his family

When AOC first announced the Green New Deal resolution on February 7, she quickly garnered 65 co-sponsors in the House. Exactly 10 days later I count 87, including AOC, in total. Still no Republicans. That is scary. But all kinds of Democrats-- mostly progressives, of course, but I noticed a New Dem signed on and there's even a Blue Dog on the list. These are the most recent co-sponsors, each having signed on despite Pelosi's old-and-in-the-way hostility and belittlement.
Jimmy Gomez (D-CA)
Joe Kennedy III (D-MA)
Jimmy Panetta (D-CA)
John Sarbanes (D-MD)
Adam Smith (D-WA)
Jackie Speier (D-CA)
Karen Bass (D-CA)
Nanette Barragan (D-CA)
Lacy Clay (D-MO)
Elijah Cummings (D-MD)
Danny Davis (D-IL)
Bill Keating (D-MA)
Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
Nita Lowey (D-NY)
Grace Napolitano (D-CA)
David Price (D-NC)
Linda Sanchez (D-CA)
Bobby Scott (D-VA)
Tom Suozzi (New Dem-NY)
Eric Swalwell (D-CA)
Jahana Hayes (D-CT)
OK, so here's AOC's original graphic with the immediate co-sponsors. You can click on it and it will get bigger. Look for your congresscritter on the graphic and on on the list above. Don't see him or her? You should call and tell the office how important you think the Green New Deal is and how important to you their support would be. Let them know you are a voter who takes Climate Change into account at the polls-- and when you contribute to campaigns.

The freshman non-cosponsors who campaigned on the importance of dealing with climate change, as most of them did, should be asked why they're withholding their support. I just noticed, in fact, that none of the 11 freshmen who joined the Blue Dogs are on board. And the only freshmen New Dems who are co-sponsors are Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL) and Veronica Escobar (TX). The rest of 'em... MIA. And, sure, some of them are hostile to anything smacking of progressivism-- Elissa Slotkin, Max Rose, Mike Sherrill, Abigail Spanberger, Ben McAdams, Ann Kirkpatrick, Kendra Horn, Anthony Brindisi, the real bottom of the barrel. But some of those right-of-center and centrist freshmen seemed very eager to talk about Climate Change and Global Warming during the campaign, some even with a sense of sincerity-- like Sean Casten (IL), Joe Cunningham (SC), Katie Hill (CA), Josh Harder (CA), Harley Rouda (CA), Katie Porter (CA). That bunch are all worth talking to (politely) and urging them to help, not stand in the way. Because, even if Chris Hayes' diktat was meant for presidential candidates, it's going to be fully in play during congressional primary season as well.


Mark Penn Wants To Tell You Who Upended Our Election Process, Fanned Partisan Political Fames, Distorted Our Foreign Policy By Isolating Us From Russia, And Abused The Powers Of Their Office


Yesterday's big NY Times book review was Dwight Garner's look at The Threat by Andrew McCabe. Fox News has a very different perspective on the book and we'll get to that in a moment. Garner points to McCabe's first sentence-- "Between the world of chaos and the world of order stands the rule of law"-- and suggests that it demands to be read in the voice of Jack Webb from Dragnet. It may not be Dostoevsky but Garner is a fan: "McCabe is, of course, the former deputy director of the F.B.I. who was fired last March, just 26 hours before his scheduled retirement. He was briefly the F.B.I.’s acting director, after the dismissal of James B. Comey. The president hooted on Twitter: 'Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the F.B.I.-- A great day for Democracy.' This lawman, a registered Republican for the entirety of his adult life, may have been driven out of Dodge. But he has dusted off his white hat and returned with a memoir that’s better than any book typed this quickly has a right to be."
The Threat is a concise yet substantive account of how the F.B.I. works, at a moment when its procedures and impartiality are under attack. It’s an unambiguous indictment of Trump’s moral behavior. “Let me state the proposition openly,” McCabe writes. “The work of the F.B.I. is being undermined by the current president.”

It’s a rapid-fire G-man memoir, moving from the author’s training in Quantico (shades of The Silence of the Lambs) through his experiences chasing the Russian mob, the Boston Marathon bombers and others. The book is patriotic and oddly stirring. It has moments of opacity, where you feel he is holding back at crucial moments, but it is filled with disturbingly piquant details.

...McCabe’s accounts of his baffled interactions with Jeff Sessions, the former attorney general, would be high comedy if they were not so dire. They are a highlight, or a lowlight, of this book. We see a Sessions who is openly racist. “Back in the old days,” he says to the author about the F.B.I., “you all only hired Irishmen. They were drunks, but they could be trusted.”

Sessions seemed not to read his daily briefings. He had “trouble focusing” and “seemed to lack basic knowledge about the jurisdictions of various arms of federal law enforcement.”

Sessions concentrated almost solely on the immigration aspect of any issue, McCabe writes, even when there was no immigration aspect. Similarly, “Sessions spent a lot of time yelling at us about the death penalty, despite the fact that the F.B.I. plays no role of any kind in whether to seek the death penalty.”

The portrait of Sessions is of a man for whom merely ordering lunch seems to be above the timberline of his intellect and curiosity.

...Mueller is, in this book, the Mueller we have come to know: punctual, determined, the antithesis of casual, with a special loathing for people who speak when they don’t know what they are talking about.

“Ball-busting is his way of expressing affection,” McCabe writes. “If he said, Where does a person even find a tie like that? I knew things were fine: He never went out of his way to insult anyone he didn’t actually like.”

McCabe’s memoir joins a roster of recent and alarming books by high-ranking members of the United States’ justice and intelligence communities, each pushing back sharply against the president’s war on facts and competence.

These books include Comey’s A Higher Loyalty as well as  The Assault on Intelligence, by Michael V. Hayden, the former director of the National Security Agency, and Facts and Fears, by James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence, written with Trey Brown.

Each is its own Paul Revere ride of warning. Each is a reminder that we will be reading about Trump and his administration for the rest of our lives, for the exact opposite reason that we will also be reading about Lincoln and his for the rest of our lives.

There’s much more in McCabe’s book. He’s good on things like what it’s like to take a polygraph test, and the fastest way to take off a seatbelt.

He wades back through the big muddy of the Benghazi hearings. He writes of his fears about the increasing use of encryption.

He spends a good deal of time talking about Hillary Clinton and her email server. He argues that Comey, whom he admires, made crucial mistakes in how he handled the matter. “As a matter of policy, the F.B.I. does everything possible not to influence elections. In 2016, it seems we did.”

He recounts the attacks on his credibility, by Trump and others, after his wife, Jill, ran for Virginia’s State Senate as a Democrat in 2015. He hurt his own credibility, according to the F.B.I. inspector general, by making false statements about his contacts with the media.

The Trump-bashing texts between Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, his F.B.I. subordinates, did something worse: They cast doubts about the impartiality of the agency. McCabe rushes past this material too swiftly. Yet if McCabe has made mistakes, his basic decency shines through in this memoir.

He adds to our understanding of how deeply Trump remains under Vladimir Putin’s sway. After a North Korean ballistic missile test, Trump told an F.B.I. briefer that reports of the test were a hoax. McCabe writes, incredulously: “He said he knew this because Vladimir Putin had told him so.”

About Trump, the author asks, “What more could a person do to erode the credibility of the presidency?” He watches this moral limbo dancer go lower and lower. Yet he sees the president as a symptom as much as a disease.

“When is the right time,” he asks, “to give up on people’s general ability to understand any slightly complicated statement that they don’t agree with?”

So many Trump books... which one(s) to actually sit down and read? Fox News knows its audience well enough to be certain the answer, for them, is "none of them." The Threat-- How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump is not going to be on many nightstands of Fox viewers. Sunday Fox published two commentaries on McCabe's book. The first was an OpEd by one of the most odious of creatures inhabiting the swampy fringes of American politics, Mr. Repulsive, Mr. Problem Solvers himself. In fact, his Fox OpEd, shows exactly from where the Problem Solvers world view emanates. "The most egregious anti-democratic actions ever taken by the what can now fairly be called the Deep State are confirmed with the publication of fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s new book detailing how the FBI and Justice Department plotted to remove President Trump from office for firing FBI Director James Comey." Pure Trump defense from the phony-center. I wonder if Josh Gottheimer, Penn's contemptible little lap doggie inside the House Democratic caucus, would agree. This is exactly what Fox wants to reinforce in the lizard brains of its viewers:
Justice Department and FBI officials spied on U.S. citizens with false warrants, gave a pass to one presidential campaign with a predetermined investigation, investigated another political campaign on the basis of no verified evidence, and illegally leaked information on investigations. They discussed wiretapping and using the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove President Trump, and appointed a special counsel as a retaliatory move for Comey’s firing.

It is now crystal clear that the highest echelons of the Justice Department and FBI had morphed from the world’s most professional law enforcement organization into a Third World rump group. They had the hubris to believe that they-- not the American people or their duly elected representatives-- should decide who governs and how.

They upended our election process, fanned partisan political flames, distorted our foreign policy by isolating us from Russia, and abused the powers of their office.

Remember that McCabe, Comey and the intelligence community heads all publicly testified to Congress even after the Comey-Trump meetings and memos that no investigation had been tampered with in any way. None.

Yet upon President Trump’s firing of Comey, the remaining officials didn’t wait for the proper appointment of a new FBI head. Instead, they worked themselves up into an unfounded hysteria and acted to create an independent counsel over obstruction that never happened – and was never happening.

...[T]he FBI and Justice Department officials acted to keep the investigation they created under their supervision and with their friends whom they would appoint. And so rather than allow the new incoming head of the FBI to make these decisions, they acted to empower their buddy Robert Mueller as a special counsel.

Mueller, in turn, hired only Democrats, including a lawyer for the Clintons, and the “insurance policy” was launched and ensconced in power. So a counterintelligence investigation that was formed without probable cause now became the largest criminal investigation in history of a campaign and a presidency, dragging on since May 2017.

Adding to the intrigue is that Comey, McCabe and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein all disagree with each other in material ways.

McCabe believes he never lied to investigators and had permission from Comey to leak to the press. Comey says McCabe acted on his own.

McCabe and others say Rosenstein was deadly serious when he discussed invoking the 25th Amendment and wiretapping against President Trump in an effort to remove the president from office. Rosenstein says he was just joking around.

Newly confirmed Attorney General William Barr needs to crack all this wide open. The secret charge to Mueller needs to be released. The FISA warrants need to be declassified.

A grand jury must be empaneled to investigate all this and get testimony from officials under oath, and the certification of the warrants used to wiretap the Trump campaign needs to be fully investigated. Dossier author and former British spy Christopher Steele and Glen Simpson-- founder of opposition research firm Fusion GPS-- need to be called to the grand jury.

Operating a year past his commitment to the president’s lawyers, Mueller needs to finish his investigation, shut down his office, and distribute any remaining cases back to the Justice Department that now has a fully empowered attorney general.

If Mueller wants to continue instead, he should be required to balance his team with Democrats and Republicans, removing any former Clinton lawyers.

Rosenstein, who never should have been allowed to run this investigation because he was a fact witness who wrote a memo justifying firing Comey, will be leaving shortly.

McCabe and Comey appear on TV, write books, and have become nakedly partisan, revealing political attitudes no different from Strzok and Page. They readily believed unsubstantiated information and then took power into their own hands.

Every Democrat, Republican and independent should stop angling for partisan advantage and agree, regardless of who is helped or hurt, that these officials acted without proper authority and are responsible for unprecedented damage to our democracy and our political system.
By the way-- a bonus-- this is as good a time as any to let you know which freshmen Democrats have joined Penn's purposefully misnamed "Problem Solvers Caucus." Don't expect any surprises:
Max Rose (Blue Dog-NY)
Jeff Van Drew (Blue Dog-NJ)
Dean Phillips (New Dem-MN)
Joe Cunningham (Blue Dog-SC)
Abigail Spanberger (Blue Dog-VA)
Susie Lee (New Dem-NV)
Anthony Brindisi (Blue Dog-NY)
And now, another Fox OpEd willfully trying to distort McCabe's book, this time by deranged conspiracy theorist and Islamophobe Andrew McCarthy. (His latest is that Jamal Khashoggi was a Muslim Brotherhood operative and that that's why it was a good thing that Trump and the Saudis had him murdered.) His "review" of The Threat is just a dull regurgitation of the currently circulating far right trope that the FBI and CIA have been plotting a coup against Trump. As self-aware as any Trumpist, McCarthy, a lawyer, starts by asking his readers of they "ever wonder why people hate lawyers." Other than that, his review asserts that "There are really no new revelations in this week’s breathless reporting. The story is a retread, trotted out again because CBS is hoping to generate ratings for its 60 Minutes interview of McCabe on Sunday night, the launch of the McCabe book tour." His main point is that Trump is not unfit.

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Want to Pass Medicare For All? Make Voters Happy By Making Them Happy


Medicare For All is wildly popular. Why not just give the public what it wants?

by Thomas Neuburger

An argument (or "fervent discussion") is raging on the left about the best way to approach Medicare For All (M4A) legislation — Should the plan be proposed all at once, or piecemeal?

I recently contributed to that discussionhere: "Improved Medicare For All or Watered-Down Medicare For All?" It's not just the program's enemies who want to enact M4A legislation in stages, however; several of its friends have also advanced good-faith reasons why Medicare For All legislation should be tackled in chunks.

Mike Lux, who was involved in the Clinton-era health care reform battle, accurately characterizes the opposition this way. "The problem with MFA is that it takes on almost the entire industry at the same time.  Not to mention, of course, the entire big money conservative apparatus: the Koch brothers network, the Chamber of Commerce, the National Restaurant Association, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the Wall Street banks who have made heavy investments in insurance/pharma/for-profit hospitals, all the conservative think tanks and media outlets and grassroots operations. It would also likely be opposed even by some labor unions who have great health insurance plans that they have collectively bargained for over the years, and various big businesses that have their own plans they administer."

This leads Lux to argue for "splitting the health care industry, getting parts of them to support our side and parts of them to agree to neutrality."

Fair enough; but look at the polling for M4A (above). The problem with this argument is that it prevents the public from having the one thing it really wants — a card on day one they can use to go to the damn doctor without paying money.

Here's Duncan Black (Atrios) to explain this position in the simplest possible terms (emphasis mine):
I Don't Give A Shit How You Bend The Cost Curve

"We" spend too much money on health care costs in this country, but I don't particularly care about that. I mean, I do, it's absurd, and we shouldn't, but it isn't actually my job do worry about how to fix that. It isn't your job. It isn't the job of voters to waste their beautiful minds worrying about what the best plan to cut health care costs is, and it's absurd that for some reason it's expected that voters all play Wonk for a Year and try to figure out who has the wonkiest wonko plan of all.

People are paid a lot of money to figure that shit out. Go figure it out. What kind of health plan should pass that makes voters happy and doesn't make them upset because it doesn't raise their taxes or upset the status quo or isn't "moderate" or whatever the fuck? One which mails them a card on day one that they can use to go to the damn doctor without paying any money. Then the wonks and the politicians can get to work for the next 10 years fixing the engine under the hood.

Make voters happy by making them happy. Tomorrow. Eat the up front costs because we are a rich country and we can afford to eat the costs, and then spend the next 10 years clawing money back from the other "stakeholders" who have been looting the bank accounts of dying people for decades. Just don't make us have to worry about how.

Make getting sick slightly less of a hassle than Comcast Customer Support and voters will love you. It's that simple. The details matter, but the wonks should be working out that shit between themselves, not by writing memos on op-ed pages because none of us should have to care about them.
Note Black's twin bottom lines:

• The best plan gives voters "a card on day one that they can use to go to the damn doctor without paying any money."

• "Eat the up front costs because we are a rich country ... then spend the next 10 years clawing money back" from the predators who've been looting from dead people for decades.

In other words, just get on with it and do the wonky stuff later. The public would love you for it.

Imagine if President Obama's 2009 health care reform plan was today's Medicare for All? Imagine how much support would he have gotten (assuming he wanted that for us in the first place, which he didn't)? Public approval would have been instant, full-throated and universal. Remember, "Hands off my Medicare"?

A fervent supporter of all the Medicare he can get

Black's bottom lines are wildly popular, easy to understand — and easy to love, since no one in the country is giving to the "undeserving" what they aren't also getting for themselves.

Which tells you immediately how to frame this: "Folks, it's called Medicare for All, not Medicare for Some. Everyone gets the new plan — free health care forever — or no one does. So pick one: Are you in or out?"

Only the predatory health care industries will say no to that. Actual voters are the plan's best friends. All proponents have to do is make them happy by making them happy.

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Sherrod Brown Thinks We're Looking For A No-Can-Do President-- He's Wrong


I didn't bother writing a Worst Democraps Who Want To Be President post about one of the very worst Democraps trying to run, New Dem multimillionaire John Delaney. That's because he's not really a threat to anyone any more. He sold his Maryland House seat to David Trone and then moved to Iowa about a year ago. He isn't gaining any traction. He rarely breaks 1% in the polls. He's a joke candidate and I spent enough time writing about how horrible he is when he was in Congress.

This is John Delaney, although he loves to say: "People have a hard time labeling me. Some of the things they hear me talking about are on the total progressive or liberal end of the spectrum, and in other ways I'm kind of a solutions-oriented moderate who wants to get things done," snidely implying-- the way Hillary did-- that progressives don't get things done.

Fact of the matter is, centrists like Delaney (and Status Quo Joe Biden), sit around with their fingers up their asses when it's time for action to get the big and important things done. It was the progressive movement, not the centrists, who fought for and passed Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, free public education, corporate regulations, union rights, women's suffrage, emancipation of the slaves, the Bill of Rights (which politicians like Delaney and Biden bitterly opposed) and... even independence from Great Britain. "Moderates" and centrists have had plenty of time to fix this (below). Why haven't they? Really, why?

So... where does that leave Sherrod Brown, the fella in the video up at the top of the page? I don't think he has the character to be a good president. He's not terrible and in many ways he has even been excellent from time to time on one thing or another-- particularly trade and labor. Worst Democraps Who Want To Be President? No, not at all. I just don't trust him to do the right thing as president-- #3 of Chris Hayes' diktat:

Yesterday he was on CNN's State of the Union and, once again, he defined himself as one of the "that's too hard to do" crowd. The time for Medicare-For-All is now. 70% of the American public backs it. But it's too difficult for Sherrod Brown? Sherrod Brown should stay in the Senate and debate and get nowhere near the presidency (and that includes the #2 spot). If the debate was over the Bill of Rights, Brown would be suggesting we just do 3 or 4 amendments and that 10 are way too many and we'll never get it through and it's going to cause people "angst and anguish." He's just the wrong guy as a person-- who sometimes backs good policy but... just watch that video. Do you want that stumbling fool in the White House? And he sounds like a Republican when he backs himself into a rhetorical corner.

This is CNN's tweet about the show. But make the effort to read those comments under it. Sherrod Brown For President is DOA.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

Happy NOT My President Day!

Oh Lord, rid us of these thorns!

I look at this picture of psychopaths, sociopaths, looney mobsters, and brain dead slugs and I want to reach for the entire selection of Monsanto spray can products. I note that only one of the goons is able to even muster as much as half a smile for this team of destruction photo which was no doubt signed with individual Xs and handed out to their equally evil support staff; Xs that belong over their eyes.

Repeat when necessary.

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Sunday, February 17, 2019

Trump-- What Are We Going To Do Without Him?


What would Saturday Night Live have done for the last two years without Señor Trumpanzee? The media appears to need him. But what's scary to me is that in some sick way, we all seem to have needed him. How much time do you spend talking about him with friends and family? How are we going to get back to normal? I wonder if Bernie has a plan. I should ask. I'm going to.

Oh, yeah... and Trump certainly, absolutely needs the media too: the Other, the scapegoat, the easy target. Trump's tweets this morning were better ads for the show than anything could have bought. On top of that, his bonehead fans have something to hate-- just the way we do, in this perverse, unhealthy symbiotic relationship.

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Tomorrow's The Day In North Carolina-- Another Fascist In Congress... Or A Somewhat Less Horrible Blue Dog?


It's exceedingly rare that elections that are decided by vote theft get overturned. But the swingy southern-tier district of North Carolina, stretching from Elizabethtown and Fayetteville in the east, out through Lumberton, Laurinburg, Wadesboro and the southern Charlotte suburbs as far as the Central Piedmont Community College campus in the west, still doesn't have a representative in Congress. The PVI is a daunting R+8, but independents and moderate Republicans in the suburbs abandoned anyone tainted with Trump-- as Harris is-- in droves. (Trump beat Hillary in the 9th by nearly a dozen points-- 54.4% to 42.8%.)

Tomorrow-- finally-- the North Carolina Board of Elections will hold its long-awaited public evidentiary hearing in Raleigh into the Mark Harris fraud case. It starts at 10 AM and is expected to last as long as 3 days. The five-member board will consider testimony from its own investigators and experts, plus witnesses representing Mark Harris (R) and Dan McCready (Blue Dog). There are 3 Dems and 2 Republicans on the board. It would take 3 votes to certify Harris-- who leads by 905 votes (including thousands of fraudulent ballots)-- or 4 votes to call a new election. In other words, the Dems would have to get at least one of the Republicans to vote with them for a do-over. Or, the Republicans would need at least one Democrat to agree with them that the election was stolen fair and square. A decision is expected by Wednesday. If the Board of Elections can't reach a decision, either Gov. Roy Cooper (D) or the U.S. House will have to decide and there is little doubt that either would call for a new election.

Harris is trying to turn the hearing into a circus in the hopes of discrediting the decision, which no one expects to go his way. His attorney has demanded McCready appear to explain a comment he made last month on TV: "This is for the State Board to decide-- I think there are two options here. Either [Harris] knew what was going on, which I don't know how you wouldn't, and he should be in jail... or he turned a blind eye to fraud. He built a culture of corruption that represents the worst in our politics."

Early this month, Charlotte Observer political reporter Jim Morrill explained why McCready would have a commanding head start over Harris. It's mostly money. McCready's got $338,000 in his coffers compared to Harris $19,000.

This past Friday Morrill reported that McCready's case is based on the obvious, that Harris' ballot harvesting operation tainted more ballots than the current margin The Election Board can call for a new election if "irregularities or improprieties occurred to such an extent that they taint the results of the entire election and cast doubt on its fairness," which is clearly the case here.
The McCready campaign argues that the number of ballots affected by Leslie McCrae Dowless-- a Bladen County political operative and elected official who was hired at Harris’ direction to conduct get-out-the-vote work-- could be as high as 2,500, citing the 1,364 absentee-by-mail ballots cast in Bladen and Robeson and the 1,169 absentee-by-mail ballots sent to voters that were not returned and who did not vote in another way.

...Dowless, whose work in the 2016 election led to multiple ongoing investigations, is alleged to have paid workers to collect requests for mail-in absentee ballots, which is legal, and to have paid workers to collect completed or incomplete mail-in absentee ballots, which is illegal.

“While only Dowless may ever know the breadth of his scheme, the evidence is conclusive: Dowless’s operation tainted a far greater number of ballots than the apparent margin in the CD-9 race, and he was aided and abetted by elections officials along the way,” the McCready campaign said in its brief.

Dowless himself turned in requests for 590 mail-in absentee ballots in Bladen County, according to data released by the state board. McCready’s legal brief says that Dowless and his associates made “well over 700” requests in Bladen County.

As for the unreturned ballots, the McCready campaign argues their rate was “exceedingly high” in Bladen and Robeson and claims that Dowless and his associates discarded ballots they had collected.

The McCready campaign also said that Bladen County election officials released early vote totals to Dowless, gave him access to unredacted ballot request forms and provided him regular reports with voter information connected to mail-in absentee ballots.

McCready’s argument-- that more than 905 ballots were affected-- seems designed to rebut claims by the Harris campaign that the state board should certify his victory because there are not enough ballots to overcome the current deficit.

“Irregularity or misconduct alone does not mean a protest moves forward. The State Board must decide whether the irregularity is sufficient to cast doubt on the results of the election,” Harris’ attorneys wrote in their filing to the board. “If irregularity or misconduct-- no matter its nature or egregiousness-- does not cast doubt on the result, the protest should be dismissed.”

The Harris campaign has denied knowing about Dowless’ criminal history or about allegations of improper actions in 2016 until news reports after the election.

The previous nine-member board was disbanded in late December due to a separate legal challenge, but staff continued its investigation into the election results. The new board, made up of three Democrats and two Republicans, was appointed Jan. 31. Members got their first in-depth look at the evidence gathered by staff last week.
There are several reasons Democrats around the country are rooting for-- and contributing to-- McCready. First, of course, is the tribal mentality which defines this as a team sport and sees McCready in a blue uniform and Harris in a red one. A more valid reason is because Harris is a extremist lunatic who will be a 100% rubber stamp for Trump or even someone pushing Trump further right. But the best reason is because there are already too many crooked politicians in Congress and Harris clearly hired a known election fraud mastermind and paid him to steal the election./ He belongs in prison, not in Congress.

That said, I want to warn progressives about McCready. Not only is he a Blue Dog, but on most crucial issues the Republicans will be able to count on him to support their positions. The Democrats don't need another vote to elect a Speaker and organize the House-- the usual lame argument for support crap lesser-of-two-evils candidates like McCready. In fact, McCready will be another voice within the caucus, pushing the caucus to water down progressive proposals. Progressives are actually better off if McCready loses.

These are 10 freshman Blue Dogs with their ProgressivePunch ratings so far. Aside from having joined the Blue Dog caucus, you'll notice what they all have in common. McCready is considerably to the right of most of them:
Anthony Brindisi (NY)- F
Ed Case (HI)- F
Joe Cunningham (SC)- F
Kendra Horn (OK)- F
Ben McAdams (UT)- F
Max Rose (NY)- F
Mikie Sherrill (NJ)- F
Abigail Spanberger (VA)- F
Xopchitl Torres Small (NM)- F
Jeff Van Drew (NJ)- F

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Who Would Sir Isaac Newton Vote For?


Almost every time I watch a Bernie Sanders speech or video, like the one above, I think, oh, that could be part of his 2020 announcement. Well... we won't have to wait much longer. I don't think anyone will be surprised to know that Bernie is getting close to announcing. And Saturday, Politico reported that his announcement video has been recorded.
It is unclear when, or even whether, the Sanders video will be released. It’s possible that Sanders could launch a 2020 campaign with an exploratory committee and then formally declare his candidacy later, a route other presidential candidates, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, have taken.

Sarah Ford, a spokeswoman for Sanders, did not respond to a request for comment about the video.

Tim Tagaris and Robin Curran, two 2016 alumni who helped power Sanders’ successful small-dollar fundraising program, have agreed to join any second presidential campaign.

The Sanders team has also been in talks with Means of Production, the filmmaking company that created Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s viral campaign video during the midterm election, about a major 2020 role.

Meanwhile, the group founded by Sanders has been readying its members in case he runs. Our Revolution revealed its plans this weekend for the second phase of its campaign to draft Sanders into the presidential race. In a fundraising email sent to supporters, Our Revolution political director David Duhalde asked for donations to help fund phone-banking, door-knocking, volunteer trainings, and other outreach strategies.

“We’re organizing every day so that if and when Bernie announces,” he said, “our members and our groups can hit the ground running.”

Chris has that right-- and by now you surely know what he'll fight for and who he'll fight for-- unlike the squad of would-be candidates running around like chickens without heads apologizing for their shitty records (particularly Biden, Gillibrand and Harris)-- and that he can be trusted, again, unlike the apologizers who did so much damage and want a second chance-- second chances are good... but as president??

Last night, Digby reminded her readers that "Democrats win when they embrace the future with optimism and energy. All the Democratic presidents of my lifetime won on that basis. From JFK to Carter to Clinton to Obama, it was always about aspiration for progress not a retreat to the past." That leaves out Biden-- "Mr. Return to Normalcy." In fact, an awful lot of candidates-- on all levels-- are running with the idea of just making things like they were before Trump. That won't work, The way things were before Trump is exactly what saddled us with Trump. Embracing the future with optimism and energy-- and a solid program-- is way more attractive,

Ro Khanna was a Bernie-endorser in 2016, when heavy pressure was being put on everyone to back Hillary, the inevitable next president. He and Bernie worked closely on the out-of-Yemen legislation and today Ro told me that "Bernie has a vision to transform our foreign policy to be based on human rights and restraint and our economic policy to focus on communities and workers left out. We need his leadership and voice at this time of record income disparity and polarization."

Randy Bryce was another Bernie supporter back in 2016. He's just as enthusiastic today as he was back then. "Sen. Sanders was one of the first electeds (federal level) to meet with me after we got into the race for Congress," he told me today. "Not only did he offer solid advice, but he made it to the district to help out more than just about anyone else. (4 events in 3 days) He’s the one who made us think about what we could have if we valued working people before it was popular. It’s great to see so many of the things we thought of as a fantasy to actually become mainstream and something many who have already announced are advocating. We need more who will put workers first. I look forward to welcoming anyone who is willing to walk a picket line."

Wisconsin state Senator Chris Larson was the guy who first introduced me to Randy Bryce, long before anyone outside the Wisconsin labor and veterans' movements had heard the word "IronStache." Chris gets why Bernie isn't just another run-of-the-mill politician. "In an age," he told me this morning, "where heroes are being shattered by resurgent histories and accusations of political mal-intent, Bernie may be one of the last politicians whom can be held up as someone who has been setting the tone for social justice, for our environment, and for economic equality for decades. Trump can only win a second term by maligning his opponents until enough doubt exists in enough of the electorate that they stay home. Bernie is one has shown he can handle that kind of heat and shift right back to what really matters in the world, all while keeping the people with him. We have a lot of great candidates outlining visions for the future of our country. Bernie, like Elizabeth Warren, is one who will never forget to fight for the little guy because it's all he's ever fought for."

Goal ThermometerI have this thing about having one great president in my lifetime. FDR was long gone before I came along and there hasn't been a truly great president since. Some OK ones, mostly mediocre ones, some really, really bad ones-- and, of course this illegitimate thing in the White House. I think Newton's Third Law (of physics) applies well to human and societal interaction. "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction," he wrote. That would mean that after Trump, America is due for its greatest president ever. Combining the thoughts of Isaac Newton, Digby and Chris Hayes... I see two possibilities: Elizabeth Warren or Bernie. Put in a dash of Ro Khanna, Chris Larson and Randy Bryce, and it's easy enough how to figure out who to vote for. The DownWithTyranny ActBlue thermometer on the right, as a matter of fact... well, if you agree with me, please consider a $20.20 contribution to someone who's going to be as great as Trump is insignificant and unfit. And to the candidates who will support his programs in Congress.

Eva Putzova is the progressive Democrat running in Arizona's massive 1st congressional district. The incumbent is Tom O'Halleran, an "ex"-Republican who calls himself a Blue Dog Democrat but tends to vote with the GOP on crucial issues. Eva, an activist and former member of the Flagstaff City Council is thrilled about Bernie's 2020 run. "In late March of 2016 at one of his campaign stops," she told me, "then presidential candidate Bernie Sanders announced the launch of Flagstaff's citizen initiative that successfully raised the local minimum wage to $15 and got rid of the exploitative tipped wage that keeps too many women, people of color, and immigrants living in poverty. That symbolic gesture inspired many to join our efforts against inequality at the local level. Senator Sanders's candidacy in the 2020 presidential cycle will inspire a broad-based grassroots action, energize young voters, and activate courage that we need to combat climate change and build a resilient economy that works for everybody. The political discourse we will see in the coming months will be much more constructive and focused because of his presence in the Democratic Party primaries."

Eva and Bernie in Flagstaff

Like Eva, Mike Siegel, a progressive congressional candidate in central Texas, admires Bernie and what he stands for, especially his "deep and longstanding  commitment to addressing the root causes of inequality and injustice in the United States. We need courageous leadership in this moment, when our democratic institutions are under attack and when the economic system is increasingly rigged to favor the 1%. Here in Texas, Bernie’s 2016 campaign inspired the creation of dozens of enduring grassroots organizations that continue to fight for structural, progressive change at the local, state and national levels. I am hopeful that his 2020 campaign will provide another boost to movements for social justice here and across the nation."

As for "centrists"... there's nothing there. Nor should there be sat this point. What's the centrist policy on Climate Change? Well save Florida. But only starting with Orlando; everything south of Orlando... move-- fast. Historically, "the centrists" are the people who may agree that something is wrong and needs fixing but the solutions are way too hard, impossible, impractical. Let's try a bandaid and see if that works. Had centrists been in charge guess what would be missing from American history. Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security, minimum wages, public education, women's suffrage, emancipation of the slaves, the Bill of Rights (Amendments 1-10)... in fact, there would be no American history because we'd still be a British colony!

Last July, Sarah Jones penned an essay for the New Republic, There Is No Silent Centrist Majority, her point being that "the base of the Democratic Party is much further to the left than moderates recognize." The Democratic establishment aggressively promotes conservative Democrats, who are referred to as "centrists" and "moderates," and they all sit around talking to each other are persuading themselves that the grassroots of the party is someone as white, old, rich and clueless as they are. They think everyone is like Cheri Bustos, an Illinois Blue Dog who was trained by Rahm Emanuel to be just like him. Pelosi just picked her to be the chair of the DCCC. She picked all right-of-center Democrats to run it and the recruitment committee, particularly, looks like it was chosen to fail. The co-chairs are Pete Aguilar (this coke freak), Val Demings and Don McEachin. All New Dems. Who do you think they're going to recruit?

Jones quoted Bustos for her essay: "If you look throughout the heartland, there’s a silent majority who just wants normalcy, just wants to see that people are going to go out to Washington and fight for them in a civil way and get something done. There’s a lot of people that just don’t really like protests and don’t like yelling and screaming." They would have been the third of the country who refused to take sides in the War of Independence. "Party leaders might be centrist, but the base is not," wrote Jones.
In 2016, Democratic voters nearly rejected centrism outright, as the primary campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders proved more popular than expected. Nudged partly by Sanders, Hillary Clinton’s platform in 2016 veered further left than her platform eight years earlier. But on paper, her candidacy represented everything that Third Way Democrats seem to want. She had extensive political experience and a strong donor base. Her policies were detailed. She largely rejected Sanders’s platform, articulated a clear, incremental policy vision, and professed a belief in American greatness at the same time. And then she lost.

Today, it’s clear that Sanders is not the outlier he used to be. Many Democrats now agree with at least a few of his marquee policies, like Medicare for All and a higher minimum wage. But some Democrats, notably those at Opportunity 2020 last week, still insist that the politically smart path is a message of civility and capitalist reform, not outrage and economic redistribution. “The party is not going to go in the direction of Sanders-style socialism, because it’s not winning on the issues and it doesn’t win politically except in a very, very limited number of places,” Third Way President Jonathan Cowan told Time. “It’s going to go in the direction that won it two presidencies-- the last two, two-term Democratic presidents were mainstream Democrats-- and what is going to get the House back.”

As reported by Buzzfeed, “Third Way’s own polling indicates that ‘46% of voters said the government’s focus should be on ‘policies that spread opportunity to more people and places,’ compared to 25% who said ‘policies that address income inequality.’” If centrists think that result proves that there’s popular support for moderate politics, they’re likely mistaken; it’s not clear how “policies that spread opportunity” differ from “policies that address income inequality” in a meaningful sense, especially to voters. In reality, a number of policies once relegated to the leftist fringe have suddenly gained widespread approval among Democrats, and centrist policies don’t seem to enjoy nearly the same levels of popularity.

In fact, national polling suggests that there is public support for an institutional move to the left. Polls consistently show that two-thirds to three-quarters of Americans support raising taxes on the rich. Nearly half of Americans support a federal jobs guarantee, according to a Rasmussen poll in May. And a Kaiser Family Foundation poll in March found that 59 percent of Americans support Medicare for All; around 75 percent support the public option, which would have been part of the Affordable Care Act if it weren’t for moderates like then–Senator Joe Lieberman. Among Democrats specifically, support for these and other policies is even higher.

...The argument that Third Way centrism is more viable than Sanders’s platform rests largely on one premise: that some silent majority of voters prefer moderate politics. This is why moderates are pinning their hopes on Joe Biden as a possible 2020 presidential candidate. The former senator and vice president “has near-universal name identification, a personality and biography that makes him attractive to some 2016 Trump voters, and an issues profile that won’t drive progressives off the ledge,” New York’s Ed Kilgore notes.
Herb Jones, endorsed by Blue America, is running for the Virginia state Senate seat held by the racist Majority Leader. This afternoon, he told me why he's a Bernie-supporter. "I love Bernie. I love Bernie because he is genuine in what he says and does. He is the essence of America. Bernie will fight for Medicare for All, progressive, marginal tax rates, regulated adult use of cannabis, and other common sense policies..."

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