Thursday, June 20, 2019

A Sunday Show Finally Figures Out It Would Be A Good Idea To Put On Someone Interesting And Not Half-Dead


AOC has a bigger twitter following than anyone else in the House; she's up there with the big-time senators:
@AOC- 4.39 million
@SpeakerPelosi- 2.61 million

@BernieSanders- 9.32 million
@SenSanders- 8.38 million
@SenWarren- 5.07 million
@ewarren- 2.63 million
@CoryBooker- 4.26 million
@TedCruz- 3.35 million
@SenTedCruz- 1.24 million
@Kamala Harris- 2.71 million
@RandPaul- 2.49 million
@SenSchumer- 1.81 million
@SenGillibrand- 1.42 million
And no one even heard of her a year ago! The rest of these people have been building up their following for years-- if not decades! And until two days ago she had never appeared on any of the Sunday talk shows. This week she was a guest on ABC's The Week. I doubt Pelosi's office recommended her-- and I'm certain they won't recommend her again. David Axelrod would though:

So what upset Pelosi and her clique?

1- "I think that we have a very real risk of losing the presidency to Donald Trump if we do not have a presidential candidate that is fighting for true transformational change in the lives of working people in the United States. I think that if we elect a president on half-measures that the American people don't quite understand-- the agenda of a president, you know, that says we're fighting for higher wages but we don't want a $15 minimum wage, fighting for education but we don't want to make colleges tuition-free, fighting for women's rights, et cetera, but we don't want to go all the way with that, then I think we have a very real risk of losing the presidency."

2- She called impeaching the dangerous criminal in the White House a "constitutional responsibility."

3- She answered affirmatively when asked if progressive Democrats are frustrated with Pelosi. "I think it's quite real," she said. "I believe that there is a very real animus and desire to make sure that we are-- that-- that we are holding this president to account."

4- "I'm excited to be introducing a repeal of the Hyde Amendment via amendment-- we'll see where it goes-- for incarcerated women and the maternal and reproductive health care of incarcerated women is-- it should be guaranteed as it is with all women in the United States. And so I think it really depends-- and that's really what the Hyde Amendment is about."

I hope you'll watch the whole segment (above) but here are a couple of key excerpts:
JONATHAN KARL: Essentially you have 41 freshman Democrats that are in seats that were held by Republicans. And from everything I've seen, virtually all of them-- these are your majority-makers, all of them oppose moving forward with impeachment.

AOC: I would disagree with that assessment. I think that some of these dynamics are changing. I would very much not say all of them are opposed to impeachment. I think many of them are extraordinarily concerned about the misconduct coming out. You have to look at the process. There is opening an impeachment inquiry and then there's the impeachment vote itself. There may be some that are out on the impeachment vote itself, but I think that there is a growing sentiment even among many of these frontliners, as we call them, swing district Democrats that think we should at least open an inquiry and look into the abundance of evidence, 10 counts of obstruction of justice, four with rock-solid evidence, we have violations of the emoluments clause.

We need to at least open an inquiry so that we can look at what is going on. And that is what opening an-- an impeachment inquiry means.

...I think what we really need right now is a presidential candidate that is going to fight for the well being of working-class Americans and all Americans. And I think that he [Sanders] does that excellently. I think his policies do that excellently. I believe Senator Warren's policies do that excellently. And I think that that's really what we need to be looking for in terms of the agenda.

And when we talk about the agenda, for me, that agenda means the right to health care. It means a $15 minimum wage pegged to inflation. It means making sure that we can make college accessible to all people including public colleges, vocational schools, and community colleges. It means having a foreign policy that's focused on peace-building and stability. And that is what I'm looking for, really, in a candidate for the United States presidency.

KARL: So, do you believe the Democrats will lose to Donald Trump if they don't nominate somebody who is, in your mind, a true progressive along the lines you just described?

AOC: Well, I think that we have a very real risk of losing the presidency to Donald Trump if we do not have a presidential candidate that is fighting for true transformational change in the lives of working people in the United States. I think that if we elect a president on half-measures that the American people don't quite understand the agenda of a president, you know, a president that says we're fighting for higher wages but we don't want a $15 minimum wage, fighting for education but we don't to make colleges tuition-free, fighting for women's rights, et cetera, but we don't want to go all the way with that, then I think we have a very real risk of losing the presidency.

...KARL: OK. Unfortunately, we're almost out of time but I got a couple of quick ones I want to get to. First, you have suggested that an economic system that has billionaires is immoral. So let me just ask you, if you had a true progressive program put in place, would Jeff Bezos still be a billionaire five, 10 years from now?

AOC: I think I spend less time thinking about Jeff Bezos and I think more time thinking about Amazon warehouse workers. I think about the outcomes that I want for those folks. So whether Jeff Bezos is a billionaire or not is less of my concern than if your average Amazon worker is making a living wage, if they have guaranteed health care and if they can send their kids to college tuition-free. And if that's the case and Jeff Bezos is still a billionaire, that's one thing. But if his being a billionaire is predicated on paying people starvation wages and stripping them of their ability to access health care, and also if his ability to be a billionaire is predicated on the fact that his workers take food stamps, so I'm paying for him to be a billionaire...

KARL: And do you think that's why he's a billionaire, because he pays his workers starvation wages and...

AOC: I think it's certainly a part of the equation when you have a very large work force and you underpay every single person and then you also participate in-- you know, in taking billions of dollars of government subsidies, I think that could be part of it. But, if he's willing to give up all of his government subsidies, if we're willing to charge fair taxes, if we're willing to pay people living wage, send people to college tuition-free, guarantee everyone health care and he's still a billionaire, then, well, that's a fight we can have another day.
She held back on Biden, although it was obvious she isn't supporting him for the nomination. One of her own supporters-- Cenk Uygur-- was less reticent when he was interviewed over the weekend. He warned Democrats: "Don’t make the same mistake we made in 2016. All of the media told you that Hillary Clinton was the more electable candidate. The polls showed the opposite but the media said, 'No, don’t believe your lying eyes, believe in my alternative facts instead.' And we were right and they were wrong."

He worries that the Democrats will nominate a status quo elitist like Hillary-- in other words: Biden. "Do not make that same mistake. Vote for a progressive who says, 'I’m going to fight for you.'"

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The Two-State Solution Is Dead. What Next?


Control of the region recently called Palestine from 2000 BCE to the present (source; click to enlarge)

by Thomas Neuburger
There are two possible futures for Israel and Palestine: one close to the vision of Isaiah — “nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” — and one reminiscent of the prophecy of the Sibyl of Virgil’s Aeneid: “wars, horrendous wars,” the Jordan “foaming with tides of blood.” It’s a simple choice. Let’s choose peace.
     —Presidential candidate Mike Gravel (source)
The part of the Middle East formerly known as Palestine is lost as a two-state region. The Israelis are "systematically" driving toward a single regional state: the State of Israel. Below is a map showing Israel proper, the West Bank region, Palestinian population centers and the growing incursion of Israeli settlements which are "eating" the West Bank.

"A State Department map shows Palestinian population centers in the West Bank. Obama was surprised to see how 'systematic' the Israelis had been at cutting them off from one another." (source, click to enlarge)

The outcome of this long process of territorial integration, barring any implementation of an alternative to the "two-state solution," will be as Mike Gravel says, "horrendous war, the Jordan foaming with blood." The monomaniacal drive by Israel's leaders to recover the western part of their Iron Age kingdom has now made peace impossible, sans intervention.

If the two-state idea is dead, what alternatives are left? Just one. Below I list the main points of presidential candidate Mike Gravel's proposal, offered as the only non-military, non-ethnic-cleansing way forward. Is this solution "practical"? No, it's not, in the sense that the current leaders of the U.S., Israel and Palestine will not accept it.

But yes, it is practical, in the sense that a bloodbath in the region — and it will come to that — a bloodbath that will wash over all of the Middle East, is the only other alternative. If a war of this magnitude is itself "impractical" in the extreme, Gravel's solution is imminently practical. I, like Gravel, see this as the only way out.

Here are Gravel's main points, as offered in a recent Mondoweiss piece:

Move toward creating a secular, democratic binational state — "Most American diplomats will, in their more candid hours, admit that the two-state idea is long dead. Prudence dictates that America acknowledge that on the world stage and begin the search for other solutions. The most obvious and humane path forward is the creation of a secular, democratic, binational state with equal rights for all. That is the model the U.S. government, with its partners in the region, should work toward and publicly highlight as the ideal outcome."

Gravel recognizes that the above proposal would disappoint everyone in the region. Yet it's the only peaceful way forward: "Both visions serve an abstract nationalism rather than the actual needs of Israelis and Palestinians living in the area, and a state along the lines of the idealized United States model, one with no prized ethnicity or religious character, is the solution all those seeking a humanitarian alternative should support. There would be no need for the byzantine arrangements (land swaps, dual city ownership, etc.) upon which most attempts to resolve the conflict have hinged: it would simply be the decision—an admittedly difficult one—to live together, Muslim, Jew, and Christian, in a peaceful, democratic, egalitarian society."

Force AIPAC and similar pro-Israel groups to register as foreign lobbies — "The first step should be mandating that AIPAC register as a foreign lobby under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). AIPAC manages to skirt American laws about foreign lobbying by claiming that it represents Americans who happen to support Israel. But the shockingly close ties between the governing Likud Party and AIPAC give a lie to this legal fiction; AIPAC will always stand closer to Israeli interests than American ones. Such an arrangement would prevent AIPAC from influencing American elections, and would require it to report all of its contacts with Congress, along with details of its spending, to the Department of Justice."

The point about preventing influence in American elections is important — the present arrangement skirts very close to the line marked by our present panic over "foreign interference in our democracy," if it doesn't cross well over it. Without Israeli influence in the U.S. electoral process, a wider world of foreign policy and peace-making options is open to us.

Yes, I know this proposal is anathema in the current environment — witness the immediate and bipartisan vilification of Rep. Ilhan Omar — but Gravel merely says out loud what everyone in D.C. knows, but won't repeat with a microphone nearby. Nevertheless, we in the "reality-based community" should acknowledge this fact.

End military support for Israel — "Next, the U.S. should end military aid to Israel, citing the Israeli military’s complicity in crimes against the Palestinian people. It should call for a gradual demilitarization of Israel and Palestine, and should be clear with the Israeli government that the days of Israel-right-or-wrong are over. Future outrages by either side will receive an even-handed response without bias. Accordingly, it should demand that Israel bring itself into compliance with international law and end the harassment of dissidents..."

This proposal, actually two proposals in one, is highly controversial to say the least. Cries of "but Israel needs to be able to defend itself" will be loud enough to cause deafness. In response, I would add to Gravel's call my own proposal that we end all military support in the region. Note that ending U.S. military aid does not mean immediate disarmament for any of these nations; far from it. Israel can do quite nicely without U.S. dollars swelling their military coffers — and besides, as the only nuclear-tipped army in the region, it still has the deciding advantage.

The region's militarization, in fact, underscores the importance of the second part of his proposal, a "gradual demilitarization of Israel and Palestine." Recall again the aforementioned atrocities and "crimes against the Palestinian people." Those do have to stop or be made to stop. If they don't, the region is on the road to ethnic cleansing, and that won't end well for anyone, including the U.S. and Europe.

It's a simple choice: demilitarize or keep on the current path. There's no middle ground. Once the main goal is shifted to a peaceful secular state, the need for demilitarization between Israelis and Palestinians is inescapable.

• Finally, end U.S. attempts to stifle BDS, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement — "the U.S. should refuse to take unconstitutional steps to stifle BDS. Whatever one’s personal thoughts on BDS, an individual or group’s decision not to associate with another group or country is a legitimate exercise of the freedoms of speech and association guaranteed by the Constitution, and using the power of the government to influence those decisions is wrong. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker should be ashamed of themselves for supporting federal laws to restrict BDS. (It is perhaps no coincidence that Booker and the president of AIPAC 'text message back and forth like teenagers,' by Booker’s own admission.)"

Bottom Line

If peace in the Palestinian region is the goal, and if you're clear-headed about what it will take to get there, these are the most practical steps, and in fact the only ones, no matter how objectionable they will be to everyone involved in the conflict.

First, the goal must recognized realities on the ground. If a two-state solution is impossible, the only alternatives are an increasingly cleansed Greater Israel, with intifada after growing intifada revenging within its borders, or a peaceful secular state. One cannot have a religion-dominated Israel as the only state in the region and still have peace. One may as well want a bird that can fly to the moon.

Next, if the second alternative, a peaceful secular state, is to be achieved with U.S. leadership, the U.S. political process much be cleared of the protected intervention of the Israel lobby. If not, its paid politicians will win almost every battle, neutering every attempt at make peace, until peace itself is a dream of the past and war is the fact on the ground, the "foaming tide of blood" Gravel seeks to avoid.

Neither of the alternatives, a one-state region dominated by religion and cleansing, or a one-state region of diversity and tolerance, will be achieved without great pain. But I were the one choosing between them, a road that leads to a foaming tide of blood would be last on the list, if it even made the list at all.

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Darkness, Darkness-- The Mercers Are Disappointed In Trump


There are plenty of evil families in the Trump orbit. But-- no offense meant to the DeVos/Prince monsters-- none come close to the Long Island billionaire Mercer clan. At least as much as Putin and Hillary, they delivered a victory to Trump in 2016. They gave him Bannon, Kellyanne, Bossie, Cambridge Analytica... a whole campaign. And then once he won, Rebekah, the imperious, ultra-spoiled daughter, called the shots. She was a heavy hitter on the executive committee of the Trump transition team and pushed for Jeff Sessions, Michael Flynn and John Bolton and vetoed Mitt Romney.

The father, Robert, pretty much viewed as a complete crackpot by everyone who has ever met him, is obsessed with urine research, revels in the death penalty, Islamophobia and Obama-hatred. He told his co-workers in Setauket that "your value as a human being is equivalent to what you are paid... [and] by definition, teachers are not worth much because they aren't paid much." The crazy daughter has the same bestial ideology as her dad. They "invested" $10 million in Breitbart to spread their crackpot ideas to the kind of mentally-weak people attracted to fascism, xenophobia, racism and generalized hate-mongering, the core of their lives. The Mercers we're merely angling to influence the Republican establishment-- they wanted to obliterate it. Now, according to Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman they're disappointed, complain Trump was a bad investment and are essentially gone from TrumpWorld. And that's a problem because the Trump campaign says it isn't raising enough money from big donors.
With their ties to Steve Bannon, Breitbart, and Cambridge Analytica, Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah were superstars last cycle. According to half a dozen sources familiar with the reclusive family’s political activities, the Mercers have drastically curtailed their political donations in recent months and will likely not play a significant role in 2020. “They think that the administration could do so much more. They’ve been very vocal about that to the president,” a person familiar with the Mercers’ thinking told me. “It’s like they’ve disappeared,” the former West Wing official added. “Crickets. They’re gone,” a prominent Republican strategist said.

The numbers tell the story. In 2016, Robert Mercer, the former co-CEO of hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, and his wife, Diana, donated $15.5 million to a variety of different organizations to help elect Trump, and they put up another $1 million for the inaugural committee. They also provided substantial support to Breitbart, which at times seemed to function as an extra arm of the Trump campaign. The Washington Post reported they spent more than $49 million on political activities in 2016 and that year’s election cycle. “The Mercers laid the groundwork for the Trump revolution,” Steve Bannon said in 2017. In addition to the millions the Mercers pumped into Trump’s election, they spent $10 million on Breitbart News and millions more on Cambridge Analytica, the data firm cofounded by Robert Mercer in 2013.

But in 2018 the Mercers donated only $400,000 to the pro-Trump Great America PAC, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Their total political spending dropped to $2.9 million last year. Sources said the Mercers cut back their spending because they felt scarred by the press scrutiny that followed their association with Trump. Two sources said Rebekah’s divorce from her husband is also motivating her to keep a low profile. “This whole thing did not end up well for them,” former Trump adviser Sam Nunberg told me. “They’ve been destroyed,” a former West Wing official said. A former Renaissance executive said: “Bob views all his political spending as a bad investment.” (The Mercers did not respond to requests for comment.)

Like Trump, the Mercers exploded onto the national scene from seemingly nowhere. Robert, a painfully shy computer scientist who reportedly prefers cats to people, never gave interviews. When I approached Robert at Trump’s 2016 election-night party at the New York Hilton, he smiled and walked away.

At that time, the Mercers had become so influential with Trump that they successfully installed their handpicked strategists, Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, to run Trump’s campaign in the closing months of 2016. After Trump won, Rebekah served as a senior member of the transition team. And in December 2016, Trump repaid their loyalty by making an appearance at Robert’s annual costume ball held at his Long Island mansion known as the Owl’s Nest.

But the relationship was stress tested from the beginning of Trump’s term. In March 2017, the New Yorker published an embarrassing profile of Robert Mercer, depicting him as an eccentric recluse. Five months later, Trump exiled Bannon, which drove a wedge between Trump and the Mercers, Bannon’s longtime patrons. Around the same time, Mercer’s support for Trump and Breitbart was outraging Renaissance employees and the fund’s investors, sources told me. (The hedge fund’s founder, James Simons, is among the country’s biggest Democratic donors.) In November 2017, Mercer was pushed out of Renaissance and he publicly transferred his stake in Breitbart to his daughters. A month later, the Mercers’ relationship with Bannon reached a breaking point when Bannon was quoted extensively in Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury criticizing the Trump family. Rebekah issued a rare statement distancing herself from Bannon. “My family and I have not communicated with Steve Bannon in many months and have provided no financial support to his political agenda, nor do we support his recent actions and statements,” it read. “Bob and Rebekah both felt so burned by Bannon and the negative publicity,” a person close to the Mercers told me.

Meanwhile, the Mercers’ investment in Cambridge Analytica was putting them in legal jeopardy. A few months after Robert left Renaissance, it was reported that the FBI opened an investigation of Cambridge in the wake of revelations that the firm appropriated private data from more than 50 million Facebook profiles. Last May, the Mercers shut the company down. “The Cambridge investigation really spooked them,” said the prominent Republican strategist.

Another factor driving the Mercers off the national stage is that Trump was never their ideal candidate, despite the millions they spent helping him, sources told me. “They never really liked Trump,” the person close to the Mercers said. During the 2016 Republican primary, the Mercers put all their cards on Ted Cruz. The source recalled that Robert invited Kellyanne Conway, who was then working for a pro-Cruz super PAC, to his Florida mansion and told her to “beat Trump!” What seemed to be most driving the Mercers was a hatred of Hillary Clinton. “Trump was just Bob’s play against Hillary,” the former Renaissance executive said. “Bob said she and her husband were murderers who would destroy the country. He thought she was an evil person and a socialist.”

Without the specter of a Clinton presidency to motivate them, the Mercers are returning to their pre-Trump private existence. Robert didn’t host a costume ball last year. But the family remains active outside of politics. For example, the Mercers’ foundation continues to donate to the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, whose cofounder, Arthur Robinson, is a pro-nuclear energy climate change skeptic who does research on slowing down human aging. “They’re still supporting us at levels that are comparable to what they’ve been,” Robinson told me.
Robinson is Mercer's urine guy and Mercer keeps funding campaigns for Robinson to run against Pete DeFazio (OR-04). His Concerned Taxpayers of America PAC spent $597,172 bolstering the Pee Guy in 2010 and spent another $438,455 through Mercer's Republican Super PAC in 2012. In 2014 Mercer ponied up $1,750,000 to the Ending Spending Super PAC, $736,712 of which went to Pee Guy. He also ran in 2016 and 2018. Last year DeFazio beat Robinson 208,710 (56%) to 152,414 (40.9%). He's running again this cycle, of course.

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What Does "Bipartisan" Mean To Status Quo Joe? "Nothing Would Fundamentally Change"


Would it surprise you to read that Status Quo Joe is trying to woo lots of Republican donors? It shouldn't-- and he is. What it should do, however, is alarm you. What's Biden telling these Republican millionaires and billionaires about how he'll govern the country? He could be saying "Just look at my record." Or is he going further? He's the only top contender not calling for Trump's impeachment. Is he explaining that on day one he'll pardon Trump and his family and his regime so we can move on and get a fresh start? I'd be he is.

Listen to the clip up top. The whole thing reveals a lot about who Biden is but this is the part that frightens me: "You go out and bundle $250,000 for me, all legal, and then you call me after I'm elected and say 'Joe, I'd like to come and talk to you about somethin'.' You didn't buy me, but it's human nature; you helped me. I'm going to say, 'Sure, come on in.'" Biden's brother and several family members are sleazy culture-of-corruotion lobbyists who have bene trading on his name for decades. He never stopped it. After all, it's practically a Biden family slogan that "lobbyists are not bad people... People who accept the money from them are not bad people." But they are. It's a form of legalistic bribery that has to be ended, not celebrated.

On Tuesday, Biden openly, earnestly-- and with all his heart and soul-- told a roomful of Wall Street vultures, munching hors d’oeuvres that included lobster, chicken satay and crudites at the Carlyle Hotel: "Remember, I got in trouble with some of the people on my team, on the Democratic side, because I said, you know, what I’ve found is rich people are just as patriotic as poor people. Not a joke. I mean, we may not want to demonize anybody who’s made money... Truth of the matter is, you all know, you all know in your gut what has to be done. We can disagree in the margins. But the truth of the matter is, it’s all within our wheelhouse and nobody has to be punished. No one’s standard of living would change. Nothing would fundamentally change... I need you very badly.

The Trump swamp hasn't been disgusting enough? Now we need a "bipartisan" Biden swamp? After all, isn't that the kind of "bipartisan" Biden is such an evangelist for? The bipartisan of business as usual-- you get yours and I get mine and we go out for martinis after work and laugh at the suckers outside the Beltway?

In his Splinter story Tuesday, Paul Blest wrote that Republican multimillionaire John Catsimatidis, owner of the Gristedes supermarket chain (and donor-- like Trump bragged he always was-- to anyone regardless of party, who will help his business interests), attended a fundraiser for Biden at the New York home of investor and short-seller Jim Chanos, at which he said Biden spoke to him for about 10 minutes and asked for his help.

Is it beyond Biden's ken to understand that the racist never called him "boy" because he's white?

Catsimatidis is a Trump loyalist-- he gave a Trump SuperPAC $100,000 in 2016-- but as long as a politicians is willing to scratch his back, he's always been willing to write a check and push them on his sleazy radio show. "I think Joe Biden is the most common sense nominee of the 23 people running in the Democratic Party," he told CNBC. "Monetarily, I did not commit to helping him but I will help him brotherly, on my radio show and with all my media contacts." Blest continued: "In total, the Catsimatidis family gave over $200,000 to Democrats and nearly a million to Republicans in 2016. In 2018, the family gave over $850,000 to Republicans and over $76,000 to Democrats. Catsimatidis has also been involved in politics himself, running a failed Republican bid for New York City mayor in 2013... Catsimatidis was not the only Republican at the donor meeting Monday. Former U.S. Sen. Al D’Amato was also there. Other notable guests at the event included former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, who served under former President Barack Obama and Trump; Michael Kempner, CEO of public relations firm MWWPR; and real estate executive Bruce Mosler."

The New York Post also covered Biden's revolting money chase this week. It was as though he asked his staff to find every shady character with a reputation for corruption.
Joe Biden on Tuesday hit up the law firm that paid disgraced Assembly speaker Shelly Silver loads of cash for steering clients their way-- a day after one of President Trump’s top supporters turned down the former veep’s plea for a donation.

Biden spoke to a few dozen employees at the East Village law firm Weitz and Luxenberg, which paid the twice-convicted Silver hundreds of thousands to steer cancer patients to its lawyers.

Silver was convicted of pocketing roughly $4 million, but remains free on bail as he appeals his second conviction.

...Biden called for restoring the “soul” of the country and its standing in the international arena, championing the middle class and defeating Trump.

...Biden spoke earlier to about 100 people at the Midtown firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, which issued the report in the 2015 “Deflategate” controversy involving New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Biden also told those in attendance, who forked over $2,800 each for the privilege, that the “wealth gap” was a threat to America.

“The fact of the matter is, you represent a lot of really good people, you represent a lot of people in need, you represent everybody,” he said.

What's not to like? If you're a Republican fat cat

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

There he is, Mitch The Treason Turtle, smug smile and all. I can see him someday enjoying his retirement at some Crimean villa, maybe even lolling around on the Black Sea beach being mistaken for a sea turtle, a very rich one, sharing jokes about what he did to America with Putin, Trump and their oligarch buddies, over glasses of vodka and ladles of caviar.

Do the math. Russian money pocketed. Legislation blocked. Only a fool can't see it, and Washington and our media are peopled with plenty of fools of various flavors; co-conspirators, too. It's the same idiotic mentality that said "No one would ever fly a plane into a building." The Treason Turtle has stated that he has no problem with his boss's asking for 2020 collusion on national television. He even goes on Neo-Nazi Laura Ingraham's sick Tokyo Rose styled GOP-TV show to say it, with a chuckle and an evil smile, of course. "Case closed," he says, again. Mitch McConnell despises the very idea of election security. Election security is a sacrilege to Republicans. "We don't need no stinking election security!"

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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Trump = Treason... And "Later Can't Mean Never"


Rick Wilson is a GOP strategist and consultant who ran George W. Bush's campaign in Florida and moved to NYC to run Giuliani's mayoral campaign. He's probably best known now as an inveterate Trump-hater on cable TV. He's also author of the best-selling Everything Trump Touches Dies. Yesterday the Daily Beast published a piece by Wilson, Every Member of Team Trump Is Now Enabling Treason. "When," wrote Wilson, "Donald Trump was asked Wednesday by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos if he’d accept intelligence and campaign help from a foreign power, he blew up Washington and gave us a sharp insight into the true Trump. This was no fifth-dimensional chess move; it was the commander in chief saying the quiet, treasonous part out loud. Set aside that accepting such help is illegal—after all, the laws are for the little people in Trump’s Great America-- it was Peak Trump."
Talking about Large Adult Son Don Jr. testifying before the Senate again about his infamous Trump Tower meeting with a Russian emissary promising dirt on Hillary Clinton (“If it’s what you say, I love it!”), Trump replied:

“I think I’d take it.”

In Trump speak, that was, “Please send Biden oppo to asap!!” Rest assured, Don’s not calling the FBI, so bring it on!

Mr. “No Collusion” on Wednesday welcomed collusion with and aid from any and all hostile foreign powers to ensure his re-election in 2020. Trump invited all comers to fuck America, good and hard, if it means he gets the goods-- again, I may point out-- on his Democratic opponent.

Trump proved Wednesday exactly what we’ve known about him for quite some time-- he combines treachery, stupidity, and villainy in equal measure. After his disgusting performance in the Oval Office on Wednesday, I’d call Trump a political whore for foreign powers, but that would give whores a bad name.

This is nothing new. Let’s not forget, Trump requested this kind of help in 2016. It wasn’t a joke. It wasn’t “Trump being Trump.” It was Trump on live television soliciting Russian intelligence service help in defeating Hillary. He received that help through the GRU’s subsidiary WikiLeaks within hours of his ask.

All Vladimir Putin has received in return is an American president who lets the Russian leader run wild, who sides with a former KGB officer over American intelligence services at every turn, and who displays utter obeisance to the Russian leader. Kak skazat’, “Return on investment?”

We live in a world of counterfactuals, hypotheticals, and more tu quoque scenarios than a reasonable person can process. That said, I have to beg my Republican friends to imagine-- just for a moment-- what you’d be doing if Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama said they would accept the help of a foreign power in a campaign and not report it to the FBI.

I’ll tell you what you’d do: You’d lose your fucking shit.

You’d spurt blood from your goddamn eyes.

You’d corner the market on guillotine, tumbrel, and pitchfork stocks. A gibbet would appear in Lafayette Park.

Fox News producers and on-air talent would grind out weeks of videos until they collapsed, as sick and exhausted as they keep saying Trump’s opponents must be. They’d work like galley slaves, a nearly naked Lou Dobbs beating a massive kettle drum to keep them producing screeching agitporn.

Entire forests would be leveled and pulped to write the condemnatory articles and books. The lights would dim on the Eastern Seaboard, and nuclear power plants would be brought online to support the massive surge of electricity needed to power a hundred thousand new servers hosting the hundred million articles and videos you’d make condemning this outrageous act.

You’d demand not only impeachment, but also drawing, quartering, and the wholesale razing of the villages of everyone involved. You’d call anyone else doing this a traitor, a villain, and the worst person ever to hold the office of president.

But we all know what’s going to happen to Trump, don’t we? It’s already happening:

Not a goddamned thing.

A few Republicans in the Senate will-- ever so briefly-- furrow their brows. Some will issue anodyne comments that if you squint and look really closely could be vaguely suggestive of something in the general vicinity of an elliptical criticism of Trump’s invitation to foreign governments to fuck us.

In the House, the Clown Caucus will run around with their dicks out, as per normal, and bleat about Jim Comey or Chris Steele or Bruce Ohr or Peter Strzok or whatever imaginary Deep State conspiracy they’re trying to froth into existence today. They’ll race to Fox shows like Bonfire of the Hannity to bellow about witch hunts and reap millions from the boob donors on their email lists: Help me fight the Deep State and protect President Trump from Soros-Clinton-Hussein Obama Witch Hunt Sharia Lesbianism.

Bill Barr’s Trump Family Legal Defense and Obstruction Center will do exactly fuck-all. Nothing, exactly nothing will be said or done about this outrage. A real attorney general would demand a private meeting in the Oval Office and would give President Fuckwit both barrels. A real attorney general would nut-punch a president who so obviously invites foreign intelligence services to compromise the so-called leader of the free world. Bill Barr is not a real attorney general. He is a family retainer for Trump Inc., a small man in a big job without the moral compass or legal sensibility God gave the common rat.

Trump also threw Christopher Wray under the bus Wednesday, spitting “The FBI director is wrong” for saying a person should call the FBI if a foreign government offers them information intended to sway our elections. But Wray won’t quit. Neither will Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats or CIA Director Gina Haspel. No one will.

They tell themselves a pretty lie that their replacements will be worse and that they’re the last ones standing between Trump, compromise, and chaos.

They’re wrong. Every one of them is now an enabler at best or a co-conspirator at worst. These are fearful, honorless men and women serving the most honorless man ever to besmirch the office of the president.

What is even more mind-boggling is that Trump uttered this line of utterly treasonous bile while sitting behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office.

Trump solicited foreign help while he sat behind the desk where Obama was briefed on the raid that would capture and kill Osama bin Laden. The desk where George W. Bush spoke to the nation in the hours after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.

It was the desk where George Herbert Walker Bush helped end the Cold War without firing a shot and where Reagan plotted the end of Soviet communism.

It was where JFK faced down Castro and Khrushchev as they tried to install nuclear weapons 90 miles south of Miami.

Trump’s ichor, his slimy amorality, his reek of greed and treason is an insult to the work, legacy, and memory of the men of both political parties who put America before their own egos, their own political fortunes. The sense of anger, outrage, and disgust on the part of Americans with the slightest sense of conscience is palpable and justified. That is directed not only at Trump but all those who serve and enable him, and dare call that public service.

Trump took an oath-- the most sacred oath in our nation. You know it: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

On Wednesday, Trump confirmed for the world that the oath of office is like every other oath he’s ever sworn, every wedding vow and promise he’s made, and every contract he’s ever signed. Trump views it-- and us-- as purely contingent, solely about his personal (and now) political benefit.

It holds up only so long as he’s getting laid or getting paid.
John Oliver was never a Republican strategist or consultant. The night before last he explained on his show why he thinks impeachment is now the inevitable way to go. I hope Pelosi and Hoyer watched that HBO show-- or that someone suggests to them, what I'm suggesting to you: Watch:

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Trump's Over-Hyped ABC News Interview Bombed-- Is No One Paying Attention To The Liar-In-Chief Anymore?


Trump and ABC News expected a ratings bonanza for last Sunday's hour-long special with George Stephanopoulos. It sure wasn't Game of Thrones; instead it was a stinker. It came in 3rd in the time slot, with just 3.91 million viewers. By way of comparison, the big ratings winners that night were the 2019 U.S. Open Golf Championship (7.29 million) and 60 Minutes (4.67 million in the same time slot). Trump managed to beat out a rerun of America’s Funniest Home Videos (3.50 million). The week before, ABC had run Celebrity Family Feud in the slot and that had 6.1 million viewers. Anyone think Trump gives a hoot about ratings? He's bigger than that, right?

The BBC review was interesting. Their DC correspondent, Anthony Zurcher, noted that when Trumpanzee started waxing eloquent about his tax returns, his chief of staff coughed to warn Trump to be careful. Trump reacted badly. "When Mick Mulvaney, acting White House chief of staff," wrote Zurcher, "coughed in the background of the Oval Office interview, Mr Trump became visibly upset and asked his top aide to leave the room. 'Let's do that over, he's coughing in the middle of my answer,' Mr Trump said. 'I don't like that, you know. I don't like that. If you're going to cough, please leave the room,' the president added, pointing and shaking his head in disapproval. 'You just can't, you just can't cough.' The exchange happened as Mr Trump defended his decision not to turn over his "fantastic financial statement" to the US Senate, adding that he 'might' reveal it someday."

For people waiting for the flat-out lies... well, they didn't have to wait long. [PolitiFact hasn't gone through all the lies yet, but they did publish an essay on how GOP pundits have been lying about the interview in an attempt to make Trump's comments and behavior look less criminal and treasonous but if you're interested, you'll have to avail yourself of the link and check it out yourself. Time to get back to the BBC and one of the mega-whoppers of the hour.]
The Trump campaign has fired several of its hired pollsters after leaks showed Mr Trump losing to Democrats next year in several key battleground states, according to US media.

But in the interview, Mr Trump denied there were any unflattering popularity figures, maintaining that his team's internal polls "show I'm winning everywhere."

He dismissed leaked opinion surveys showing Democratic White House hopeful Joe Biden leading in swing states such as Michigan and Wisconsin. Mr Trump stated that "those polls don't exist."

On Monday, he returned to the theme on Twitter, saying: "Only Fake Polls show us behind the Motley Crew"-- a reference to the crowded Democratic presidential field.

Trump argued that no president has ever been as mistreated as himself, including Abe Lincoln, who was shot dead.

"If you can believe it, Abraham Lincoln was treated supposedly very badly," he said. "But nobody's been treated badly like me."

Mr Trump, who calls himself a student of history, has previously drawn comparisons with the 16th president. During a rally last September in Montana, Mr Trump said Lincoln's legendary Gettysburg Address "was excoriated by the fake news."

And during his first election campaign, Mr Trump claimed: "With the exception of the late, great Abraham Lincoln, I can be more presidential than any president that's ever held this office."

Trump smiled and shrugged when ABC asked about reports of Navy pilots seeing unidentified flying objects.

"They do say, I mean, I've seen and I've read and I've heard, and I did have one very brief meeting on it," said the president. "But people are saying they're seeing UFOs.

"Do I believe it? Not particularly."

When ABC asked him if the US president would be made aware if there was evidence of extraterrestrials, Mr Trump did not directly answer the question.

He said: "Well, I think my great pilots, our great pilots would know. And some of them really see things that are a little bit different than in the past, so we're going to see, but we'll watch it."

With election season nearing, the Republican president indicated he would launch a new plan to revamp the nation's healthcare system.

"Obamacare has been a disaster," Mr Trump told ABC as he was driven in the presidential limousine dubbed The Beast.

He promised that the plan for "phenomenal healthcare" will be unveiled "in about two months, maybe less."

Mr Trump last week teased details at an unrelated White House event, saying: "Nobody knows what it is. It's going to be a big surprise, but it's going to be a very pleasant one."

Trump, who once promised to completely eliminate the national debt over two terms in office, defended its continued climb under his own watch.

"They doubled the debt on nonsense," he said of the Obama administration.

But when the interviewer noted the debt has not stopped accumulating during Mr Trump's presidency, he responded: "Sure. But I have to rebuild the military."

He added: "We have beautiful new F-35s and F-18s and new rifles, new uniforms."

Since Mr Trump took office, the US has added over $2tn (£1.6tn) to the federal debt, and it now stands at more than $22tn.

Another stiff: Hillary and Clinton the Broadway show, starring Laura Metcalf and John Lithgow folded after just over 100 performances, a month early. Reason: underwhelming ticket sales. The play, which cost $4.2 million to produce, began performances in March and drew mixed-to-positive reviews, but has struggled to fill seats, reaching only 36 percent of its gross potential in the last two weeks. Its cumulative box office stands at $4.7 million. That wasn't the first indication the public has had enough of the Clintons for a while. Recall last December when ticket prices for the Bill and Hillary 13-stop paid speaking tour were cut in half, and then in half again-- and in the futile hope to have some people in the seats, sold for just 10% of the original asking price?

People are not happy about politicians in general and have the feeling that we're being ripped off by then. A few, here and there, have been shot. That's a little extreme but ignoring them? Sounds about right, especially when it comes to putting more of our money in their pockets.

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Why Is Gillibrand Such A Colossal Flop?


Kirsten Gillibrand already re-started her campaign launch-- twice. It didn't do a bit of good either time. No does the whining about how everyone is ignoring her because she's a woman... as Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and even Amy Klobuchar leave her in the dust. Her polling averages are putrid and it's a joke she's even being allowed into the first debate. The latest RealClearPolitics national average of polls shows her at 0.8%, trying to catch up to Andrew Yang. Her average in Iowa is worse-- 0.6%-- and it's really awful in New Hampshire... just 0.3%, even worse than Frackenlooper! And she's not even doing as well as that in Massachusetts, a super Tuesday state where she's unlikely to pick up a single delegate. And in her own state, New York... oy. Bad polling, few small donors and almost no endorsements from her colleagues.

Cory Booker won the endorsement of all 11 New Jersey members of Congress and the other U.S. Senator + the governor, lieutenant governor, Senate president and General Assembly speaker. Contrast that with Gillibrand, who managed to wrangle an endorsement from Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who has her own primary troubles because of her coziness with Wall Street banksters. Although she hasn't made a formal endorsement, the furthest right on any statewide official in New York, the state's putrid lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, gave Gillibrand a maxed out donation.

Her campaign's latest incredibly lame excuse for its failure to win any endorsements: "the campaign does not expect Gillibrand to be an establishment candidate and its strategy reflects that." Newsday reported that a national party official from New York speaking on the condition of anonymity said Gillibrand hasn't generated much good will among fellow politicos in the state. Another official, also speaking anonymously, noted that Gillibrand rose to her post more as an individual than as a team player. Small donors have stayed away and she stopped taking money from Wall Street and corporate PACs when she was severely criticized for doing so but... she transferred $10 million in that kind of sewer money from her Senate account to her current presidential campaign.

And that brings us to Edward-Isaac Dovere's weekend piece in The Atlantic, This Isn’t Going According to Plan for Kirsten Gillibrand. He finally said aloud what no journalists allow themselves to write: everyone hates her. "This isn’t going well for Gillibrand," he wrote. "She has failed at some basics. For someone who’s always been a voracious fundraiser, she raised just $3 million in the first quarter of the year, less than half of what South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg raised. And she was weeks behind the self-help author Marianne Williamson and the automation alarmist Andrew Yang in getting the 65,000 donors needed to guarantee her a spot on the Democratic debate stage later this month. (Her campaign announced she finally passed that mark last weekend.) Gillibrand is a United States senator from New York, and this is the best she can do. A mess, maybe. But it’s no more of a mess than at least a dozen other candidates who are underperforming just as much, or worse. If all the candidates who, like Gillibrand, haven’t broken 2 percent in the polls were subject to as much coverage about how terribly they were doing, there wouldn’t be room for coverage of anything else."
This is the story Gillibrand tells about herself, and she tells it consistently: “I have always been underestimated-- not only by potential opponents, but by the media,” she said in a 2010 interview, right after she’d dispatched what seemed likely to be a serious primary challenge from a former representative. “It will be the tale of the tortoise versus the hare, and I am the tortoise. Every campaign I’ve ever had, it’s always been part of my story, and I was not helped by many people who should have helped me,” she told me when we sat down briefly in April at a Friendly’s outside Concord, New Hampshire. “I am an underdog, and I’ve always been in every race I’ve ever had, and I win people over based on the merits,” she told me last week in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The potential reasons for why her campaign hasn’t caught on are seemingly endless. People working with her campaign acknowledge that she clearly underestimated how much her being out front in calling for Al Franken to resign from the Senate was going to haunt her-- even though that was a year and a half ago, and despite the fact that all the other senators in the race called for him to go too. Among primary voters and partisan media outlets that put a premium on purity, no one is letting go of her past pro-gun or anti-immigrant positions. The media spotlight she gets in New York and Washington only makes it more shocking when insiders in those cities realize she’s largely unknown to almost everyone else.

Gillibrand claims to be not surprised that big donors haven’t been as supportive as she would have wanted. She claims to be not surprised that she’s been slow to gain a following. She claims to be not surprised that she seems stuck in a time loop, with almost every event and interview including questions about Franken and how she’s changed her position on gun control since running in her first House race. “They don’t know me,” she reasons, so they’re going for the easy attacks on her, but “once I get the chance to speak about who I am, what I’ve done, and what I intend to do, I believe the questions will change, and what people know about me will change.”

...What many had expected was for Gillibrand to blast into the race as the candidate of women’s empowerment, seizing on the #MeToo movement and the greater moment of female activism that has been driving Democratic victories. That’s tough in a race with six female candidates, including three other prominent female senators, but it’s also a theme that Gillibrand has largely left alone until now, deciding that because people are so concerned with electability, she’d focus instead on how she’s been able to win in tough districts and get bills passed.

...I’d asked people who have worked for and around Gillibrand what it is that makes people not like her. The answers all included some mention of how much of a striver she is and how clear her ambition is—a complaint laced with notes of sexism that critics have had about her for years, though particularly weird in a presidential race, in which over-the-top ambition and ego are prerequisites.
She's still being called to answer for her Franken crap and still immediately gets out the shovel and starts digging herself in deeper. Watch her on Fox, where she came across angry and mean. She didn't win any converts, even if some people applauded a bit.

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Robert Reich Explains What The Center Is-- And What It Isn't


Bernie's ideas seem very popular. Have you noticed? And that means Third Way, a major player among those who are part of the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, is on the attack. Matt Bennett, Third Way’s senior vice president, when talking about senators running for president noted that "We’re open to everybody except for him." That was a year ago. The Republican wing of the party is putting all they've got into poisoning the well for Bernie. They know he means what he says and they know what that means for the status quo they've grown fat on.

"The 'center,'" said Reich in the video above, is not halfway between what most Americans want and what big corporations, Wall Street and the super-wealthy want. The 'center' is what the vast majority of Americans want." Reich could have explicitly included the mass media in with "big corporations, Wall Street and the super-wealthy."

In any case, polling shows that Americans favor the agenda the GOP has been trying to paint as "socialist"
higher taxes on the super-rich- 76% favor
a wealth tax on fortunes of over $50 million- over 60% favor
Medicare-For-All- 70% favor
lower prescription drug prices- 92% favor
drug importation from Canada- over 70% favor
paid maternity leave- over 70% favor
more affordable child care- 79% favor
free college tuition- 60% favor
climate change is man-made and needs addressing- 62% agree
money has too much influence in politics- 84% agree
put limits on campaign spending- 77% agree
Yes, Americans, but not Mitch McConnell, not Laura Ingraham and not this country's political and economic elites, which thrive on gaming the system and benefit from the status quo.

I asked some of the Blue America candidates and some of the candidates we're still vetting about the issues they're running on and about how they're using those issues to fight back against the Republicans who label them "socialism."

Mike Siegel is a progressive Democrat running in a gerrymandered red Texas district that he nearly won in 2018. This time he has sky high name recognition and his chances to beat the reactionary GOP Trump enabler are much better.

"The National Republican Congressional Committee," he told me this morning, "just ran an ad targeting me as 'socialist' based on my support for the most basic aspects of a social safety net-- exactly what Reich identifies as the political center. In 2018, I ran for Congress in what was called a 'deep red' district-- the Texas 10th was considered R+19-- and I ran on a platform including Medicare for All. By the end of the race, the incumbent McCaul, who thinks Obamacare is socialist, only had a 4% advantage. We can run and win on these issues. Healthcare, better schools, progressive taxation, infrastructure spending and jobs programs. We have to lean into our commitment to using government for the greater good, because that is what a democracy is supposed to be."

Goal ThermometerKathy Ellis, has an even redder district in southeast Missouri-- the reddest district in the state, huge, rural, very poor, abandoned by the national Democratic Party-- and she is also trying to reach out to her neighbors with a populist-progressive campaign. "For too long," she said, "the political system has not worked for average, working-class people-- people like you and me. It's been built to represent the needs of the super wealthy and super powerful. It's time that we change that and begin the work of building a country that works for us all, not just the wealthy few. For this reason, I support issues that prioritize the needs of everyday, working people. These include healthcare for all, campaign finance reform, universal childcare and pre-k, debt-free college, and increased environmental protections."

Marie Newman is running for a very different kind of seat, one in a nice blue Chicagoland district, but with a Republican-lite Blue Dog as an incumbent. She will make a very different kind of representative than he is: "When 65-80% of Americans are supportive of policies such as raising taxes on the ultra rich, providing universal childcare and paid leave, but conservatives call it ‘fringe’, I guess the new meaning of fringe = most Americans."

Kina Collins is the progressive Democrat running for the Chicago seat occupied by Danny Davis. "As a former organizer for Physicians for a National Health Program," she told me this morning, "seeing everyday people suffering from preventable illnesses and not being able to afford health insurance showed me how urgently we need single-payer Medicare for All in our country. We cannot wait. The majority of Americans support health care reform, we need to take bold action on this issue."

Shaniyat Chowdhury is also running in a blue district represented by a corrupt conservative Democrat, this one in southeast Queens. His perspective is that "We're starting to see the seeds of change make a difference when every working class and poor American participates on a massive scale. Without a doubt, vast majority of Americans believe our current representatives are influenced by big money, condoning their luxurious lifestyles. These actions have caused the most vulnerable Americans to not have access to healthcare, education, jobs, and a productive solution to climate change. Once we collectively drain the swamp of corrupt and bought politicians, we will open the doors for solutions such as Medicare for All, Free College Tuition, Federal Job’s Guarantee, and a Green New Deal. It’s not 'time for a change.' We’ve just been long overdue for everyday Americans to stand up with morals, ethics, and courage to take big money out of politics."

Kara Eastman is in a 50/50 swing district-- Omaha, Nebraska and the surrounding suburbs. NE-02 voted for Obama, Romney and, narrowly Trump. Kara came close to winning in 2018 and-- like Mike Siegel-- can probably go all the way in 2020. She told me that "It’s clear that people I talk to from across the political spectrum understand money’s corrosive influence on our government at all levels. My relatives who are more affluent, who lean right, as well as my supporters actually agree we have to fix the political system we have inherited. That’s why my decision to refuse all corporate PAC money is broadly supported by constituents in Nebraska but not necessarily by our two political parties."

Audrey Denney is another progressive Democrat trying to win a tough red district. She did incredibly well in 2018 and intends on going all the way in 2020. "It is far past time," she told me today, "that we had elected leaders who were responsible and accountable to the people they served-- instead of corporations and special interests. Campaigns in 2020 should about things that matter to people-- things that make people’s lives a little bit better. Making sure Americans don’t go bankrupt when they have a health emergency. Making sure new parents can rest and recover and care for their infants before they go back to work. Making sure young people can get a degree without trying to climb out of debt for the rest of their lives. Making sure all Americans can find dignified jobs that let them provide for their families. Making sure we are doing all we can to address the existential threat of climate change. These aren’t radical ideas. These are common sense American values."

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Is That The Trump Recession We See Looming On The Horizon?


I can't say I watched the whole Chris Matthews town hall in Montgomery County, Ohio (Dayton), a county that swung from 145,997 (52.5%) for Obama and 128,679 (46.3) for McCain in 2008 and 137,139 (51.5%) for Obama and 124,841 (46.88%) for Romney in 2012 to 123,909 (47.97%) for Trump and 122,016 (47.24) for Hillary in 2016. MSNBC must have spent a lot of time finding people who fully embraced so much shocking ignorance. I almost turned the TV off when some woman who was either doing standup comedy or is truly the dumbest person to ever speak into a mic, when she referred to Trump as "an economist." A few minutes later, I did turn it off when some codger, who was stupider yet, took out a piece of paper and started reading Trump barking points about how the colored folks were doing better than ever and the economy is the best its ever been in history and...

The Washington Post just happened to publish a piece by Damian Paletta and Heather Long at 10:33, just when I turned off MSNBC and the dummy-brigade, Trump May Be About To Face His Biggest Test Yet On The Economy. Good thing he's an economist! Paletta and Long wrote that he "faces a number of major decisions on trade and the budget in the coming months just as the U.S. economy faces the biggest head winds of his tenure, forcing him to decide whether to recalibrate as recession fears mount for next year. Trump has threatened to escalate trade conflicts with China, Mexico, the European Union and Japan, spooking business leaders and leading some to pull back investment. Similarly, budget and debt-ceiling talks with congressional leaders from both parties have sputtered, raising the possibility of another government shutdown in October. The uncertainty-- and a cooling global economy-- led JPMorgan Chase on Monday to predict that there was a 45 percent chance the U.S. economy would enter a recession in the next year, up from 20 percent at the beginning of 2018." That's the bad news. The good news is that Bernie could get swept into power, hopefully with a more progressive House and a Democratic Senate.
Also Monday, a key gauge of New York’s manufacturing industry notched the biggest one-month drop ever recorded. It was the latest sign that after a relatively strong economy last year, political and economic forces appear to have combined this year in a way that has darkened the economic outlook. This could be problematic for Trump, who has tried to tout the economy’s performance as key to his reelection.

“The key question is: Can you have a smooth landing for the economy?” said Vincent Reinhart, chief economist for Mellon and a former Federal Reserve economist. “We’re going through a slowdown and nobody likes it. It doesn’t feel good.”

The economy’s softening and uncertainty around Trump’s next actions are causing a delicate situation for the Fed, which is meeting Tuesday and Wednesday. Trump is relying on the central bank to cut interest rates to boost economic growth. But Fed officials are trying to reconcile worrisome reports about the economy with other areas of relative strength, particularly the low unemployment rate and high levels of consumer spending.

At the same time, Trump has it within his power to reduce risks to the economy-- on the budget and trade.

Lawmakers are working to craft a budget deal that could avoid a shutdown in the fall, raise the federal debt limit and prevent deep spending cuts. But so far even Republicans have struggled to come to an agreement with the White House, which would be a prelude to a broader negotiation with Democrats. Similar efforts at the beginning of the year ended in the longest government shutdown on record after Trump demanded funding for his border wall.

Another government shutdown, flirting with a breach of the federal debt limit and deep spending cuts would all hit the economy.

Similarly on trade, White House officials, Republican leaders and business executives have said that if the spats are resolved soon, that could lift the economy heading into 2020. But so far most of the negotiations are either unresolved or stalled, with uncertainty even over whether Trump will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 meeting next week.

“The biggest self-inflicted risk to growth today would be trade going south,” JPMorgan chief executive Jamie Dimon told reporters last week.

The president has taken complete ownership of the economy’s performance, calling it the “Trump economy.” During the first year of his presidency, his top economic advisers engaged in rigorous debate about how to shape policy, and Trump hesitated to take actions that would harm growth.

But over the past year, his team has become largely deferential to Trump’s instincts, particularly on trade, and Trump has been willing to entertain tariffs and government shutdowns in hopes of achieving other policy objectives even if they posed risks to the economy.

On Saturday, Trump discounted the concerns and said the economy’s performance was historic and just getting started. He warned of a downturn if he loses next year. He often refers to the economy setting records but rarely specifies to which records he is referring.

“The Trump Economy is setting records, and has a long way up to go,” he wrote on Twitter. “However, if anyone but me takes over in 2020 (I know the competition very well), there will be a Market Crash the likes of which has not been seen before! KEEP AMERICA GREAT.”

Next month the economy will notch the longest expansion in U.S. history, growing for more than a decade since the Great Recession officially ended in 2009. Trump boosted growth with tax cuts, higher levels of government spending and more deregulation, but Democrats have charged that some of these changes amounted to a “sugar high” that will wear off and ultimately damage the economy.

There are numerous signs that the economy’s strength last year might prove short-lived.

Manufacturing indexes have fallen to the lowest levels of Trump’s presidency, reflecting weaker demand and fears that Trump’s adversarial approach to trade is leading companies at home and abroad to pull back on spending.

Amid signs that some manufacturers are pulling back, Trump has gone on the attack. He has lashed out at several iconic companies, including Harley-Davidson and General Motors, over announcements of cutting domestic jobs, and he said last week he was pushing Lockheed Martin not to curb production at a helicopter plant in Pennsylvania.

Trump has tried to point to individual companies that he sees are cutting jobs, but the impact of these threats is unclear. Businesses cut back on capital investment in the first three months of the year even though they continued to benefit from sweeping tax cuts at the end of 2017.

The Morgan Stanley Business Conditions Index recorded its largest one-month drop on record in June and is now at its lowest level since December 2008, when the U.S. economy was in the middle of a recession.

“We see this underlying deterioration. It’s been a slow bleed,” said Lindsey Piegza, chief economist at Stifel Fixed Income. Piegza has been especially alarmed by slowing private domestic sales, an indication that U.S. demand is likely weakening.

...The U.S. economy added just 75,000 jobs in May, many fewer than expected, but the unemployment rate is 3.6 percent. White House officials believe wages and consumer spending will help lift the economy despite other factors even if businesses continue to pull back investing.

“In the end, you have to judge whether the data are making sense,” Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said in an interview. “The thing that makes sense to me is we get saved from the slowdown by the consumer right now because income growth has been so high.”

Trump and business leaders are both looking to the Fed for a possible lift. The stock market has rebounded in recent weeks, largely based on investor belief that the Fed will step in to counter any widespread harm from the tariffs.

Wall Street is forecasting an 85 percent chance of a rate cut in July and will be watching Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell’s news conference closely Wednesday for signs he is ready to act soon.

“The Fed is going to try to act sooner rather than later. If they wait too long, it will be much more difficult to get out of trouble,” said Andrew Levin, a former Fed economist who now teaches at Dartmouth.

The biggest concern, however, remains how Trump plans to resolve the escalating trade fight with China. Trump has imposed tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports and threatened to penalize an additional $300 billion in imports if China doesn’t agree to major concessions. Talks with China began last year and continued for months before unraveling in May. Trump has said that if Xi doesn’t meet with him next week during the G-20 summit in Japan, the United States would be prepared to move forward with new tariffs.

“The economy is not close to a recession this year, but next year is a lot more problematic,” said Greg Valliere, chief U.S. policy strategist at AGF Investments who writes a daily political newsletter. “If we go into 2020 with no China deal, that’s going to be a significant negative for him in terms of business uncertainty, farmer uncertainty, weaker economic growth and maybe even a little touch of inflation.”

More than 320 companies and industry groups are testifying at the United States Trade Representative’s office this week and next about their fears that imposing tariffs on all Chinese imports will cause significant price increase, job losses and profits to shrink. But inside the White House, some advisers point out that hundreds of thousands of companies were not bothered enough to testify or even submit comments about the tariffs.

The U.S. economy grew 2.9 percent in 2018, the highest level since 2015, according to the Commerce Department. White House officials have predicted growth will be even stronger this year, but few others concur. The economy grew 3.1 percent in the first three months, but a number of analysts predict it will grow less than 2 percent between April 1 and the end of September.

Trump has shown no sides of backing down, particularly in his trade fight with China or in his budget impasse with Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill. But he has also shown a penchant for pivoting sharply when confronted by bad polls or a stock market dip, numbers that he watches closely.

“The White House doesn’t need to panic, but there are reasons to be nervous,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, an economist who advised Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) during his 2008 presidential run. “We were always going to slow down from 3 percent growth. The question is, to what? If we slow down to 2.5 percent, that’s a huge victory. If we slow down to 1.5 percent, that’s a much tougher reelection sell.”
Back to Montgomery County again for a minute. Last year's midterms showed a confused, split voting base in the county. The voters went heavily for Sherrod Brown (D) who beat Jim Renacci (R) handily there-- 56.1% to 43.9%. But on the same day, the voters there went for Mike DeWine (R) over Richard Cordray (R), by a hair, 48.5% to 48.4%. The county also voted to reelect Mike Turner (R) against Theresa Gaspar in the 19th district. The PVI of the county in that race was R+7. So what's predictive? Nothing at all but a close election, although the Democrat who did the best there-- Sherrod Brown-- was the progressive populist, not the Democratic establishment GOP-lite bullshitters with nothing to offer but caution and fear.

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