Monday, December 31, 2018

14 Congressional Districts-- 14 Nightmares For Trump And The Republican Party


We're looking forward to the 2020 congressional races. By next week we're expecting more candidates to jump in. Several, in fact, haven't stopped working since November 6. These two lists of districts show seats that are now safely blue and seats that are so close that Democrats are almost assured taking them-- especially with Trump at the tope of the ticket, like a giant, squawking albatross around the necks of every Republican candidate, especially the ones who can be shown to have enabled him, like Chris Collins (NY), Don Bacon (NE), Rob Woodall (GA) and Rodney Davis (IL).

Of the 43 districts that flipped from red to blue 9 were resounding enough wins to indicate that these districts are now out of reach for Republican Party candidates-- at least until the Democrats start screwing up and not delivering on the promises that made voters turn out for them

Mary Scanlon- 198,639 (65.2%)
Pearl Kim- 106,075 (34.8%)
GOP deficit- 30.4%


Chrissy Houlahan- 177,704 (58.9%)
Greg McCauley- 124,124 (41.1%)
GOP deficit- 17.8%


Mikie Sherrill- 183,684 (56.8%)
Jay Webber- 136,322 (42.1%)
GOP deficit- 14.7%


Mike Levin- 166,453 (56.4%)
Diane Harkey- 128,577 (43.6%)
GOP deficit- 12.8%


Conor Lamb- 183,162 (56.3%)
Keith Rothfus- 142,417 (43.7%)
GOP deficit- 12.6%


Jennifer Wexton- 206,356 (56.2%)
Barbara Comstock- 160,841 (43.8%)
GOP deficit- 12.4%


Dean Phillips- 202,404 (55.7%)
Erik Paulsen- 160,839 (44.3%)
GOP deficit- 11.4%


Jason Crow- 187,639 (54.1%)
Mike Coffman- 148,685 (42.9%)
GOP deficit- 11.2%


Susan Wild- 140,813 (53.5%
Marty Nothstein- 114,437 (43.5%)
GOP deficit- 10%
And as for the Republicans who held on by the skin of their teeth and who are now walking around with big targets on their backs, these five are in the category of dead men walking:

Rob Woodall- 140,430 (50.1%)
Carolyn Bourdeaux- 140,011 (49.9%)
blue deficit- 0.2%


Chris Collins- 140,146 (49.1%)
Nate McMurray- 139,059 (48.8%)
blue deficit- 0.3%


Will Hurd- 103,285 (49.2%)
Gina Jones- 102,359 (48.7%)
blue deficit- 0.5%


Rodney Davis- 136,516 (50.4%)
Betsy Londrigan- 134,458 (49.6%)
blue deficit- 0.8%


Don Bacon- 126,715 (51.0%)
Kara Eastman- 121,770 (49.0%)
blue deficit- 2.0%

And this is a very nice-- if sorely incomplete-- graphic that I found on Twitter early this morning. It could be a helluva lot longer, don't you think? Next year it will be, of that I am certain.

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Another Year In Review-- Trump's Residence In Hell Is Just Beginning


The White House announced that Señor Trumpanzee isn't going to his Mar-A-Lago $1,000/guest New Years Eve party tonight. The Palm Beach Post's gossip columnist wrote that "It’s unclear whether Mar-a-Lago will let people wiggle out of their tickets at this late date. But evidently, some club members and guests have no interest in paying extra-high ticket prices if the president will not be in attendance. People were willing to pay for the cachet if partying with the president, a source said. But with President Donald Trump staying in Washington, 'people are bailing,' the source said. 'It’s a lot of money (to spend) without his celebrity.'"

Fitting way to end the year for the chaos-by-design-ridden and most dysfunctional presidency ever. Everything went wrong from the day he somehow managed to slither into the White House with 3 million fewer votes than the least likable nominee the Democrats could field. And it was capped off last month with a giant thumbs down from the voters, as 43 red seats flipped blue, not even counting two districts-- one in Florida and one in North Carolina-- where the election theft was so blatant that there may well be do-overs.

There are several ways to summarize Trump's 2018. Noah did it in 11 consecutive daily posts here at DWT. Sunday at HuffPo Carla Herreria refined it down to 6 "new lows" and Business Insider decided the best way to look at it was by examining all the ongoing investigations and lawsuits in which Trump is a principal wending their ways through the courts and DOJ.

Herreria-- always keeping in mind that for normal people "it is impossible for Trump to get any worse; but, somehow, he always does," began her essay with a timely quote from Karen Tumulty: "With President Trump, there is no bottom... We have a president who is willing to politicize the deaths of two young children to score points against the opposition party. And the most shocking thing about seeing him scrape along a new moral bottom is this: It is no longer shocking at all." Here are 5 more shockers-- besides the dead children exploitation incident-- that she thinks defined Trump's 2018:
When Trump said he’d defend Saudi Arabia even if the crown prince ordered the murder of a Saudi Washington Post journalist

When Trump called Hurricane Maria’s death toll "fake news"

Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Roselló commissioned the analysis, which was completed by researchers at George Washington University. The new estimate made Hurricane Maria, at the time, one of the deadliest natural disasters in the history of the U.S.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, who became a fierce critic of Trump in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, called the president’s denial “despicable.”

“This is a new low, even for President Trump,” she told CNN. “Now, it is to be expected the president has the ability to make everything about him.”

The New York Times’ editorial board also criticized Trump for shifting the attention on the devastation to his own personal woes: “Democrats don’t need to lift a finger to make him look bad. He is managing that all on his own.”

In the headline of a story covering Trump’s death toll denial, the Rolling Stone made it more concise: “Trump Reaches New Low. Republicans Remain Silent. Rinse, Repeat.”
When Trump met with Vladimir Putin and publicly defended the Russian president against accusations of meddling in the election
Garry Kasparov, chairman of the Human Rights Foundation and former world chess champion, also said the summit marked “the lowest point in the history of the American presidency.”

In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Kasparov said Trump gave a “Russia First performance” in the high-profile meeting:
Standing next to a dictatorial leader accused by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement of attacking the foundations of American democracy, Trump often appeared confused and incoherent-- and those were his best moments at the podium. The rest of the time he spent praising the KGB dictator to his left and attacking the institutions he swore an oath to defend. It was a Russia First performance, from beginning to end.

When the Trump administration separated children from their families as part of his zero tolerance crackdown on illegal immigration

When Trump called Haiti and African nations “shithole countries”
Trump has a reputation for saying shocking things, but when the Washington Post published a report saying that the president had referred to Haiti, El Salvador and African nations as “shithole countries,” it brought his rhetoric to a whole new level of vulgar.

Grace Panetta, writing for Business Insider pointed out that nearly every corner of Trump's political, business, and charitable activities are the subject of some form of investigation as 2018 comes to a close, including a lawsuit accusing him of illegally profiting off his presidency. There are dozens investigations in which Trump faces criminal and/or civil liability involving his campaign and his behavior as "president." She wrote that "The investigation Trump publicly disparages most often as a 'rigged witch hunt' and a 'disgrace' is special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign collaborated with Russia to tilt the race in Trump's favor. But the one that poses the most immediate danger to Trump himself is the campaign finance probe in the Southern District of New York. In that case, federal prosecutors secured a guilty plea from his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen for paying for the silence of women who alleged affairs with Trump, a crime to which prosecutors listed Trump as an unindicted co-conspirator."

Here's her list:
The Trump campaign's knowledge of and possible involvement in Russia's efforts to interfere in the 2016 election.
In June 2016, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort convened at Trump Tower to meet with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Kremlin-linked Russian lobbyist.
Trump Jr. initially said the meeting had nothing to do with the Trump campaign, asserting that Veselnitskaya instead came to lobby against US sanctions on high-level Russian officials.
But he amended his statement after it was reported that he agreed to the meeting after he was offered "dirt" on Clinton by the publicist of Emin Agalarov, the son of a Russian oligarch with ties to Putin. The Washington Post later reported that Trump "dictated" the initially misleading statement his son put out after he was contacted about the story.
Both Trump and Donald Jr. later admitted publicly the meeting was part of an effort to benefit the Trump campaign.
It is illegal under US campaign finance law for campaigns to accept material aid from foreign nationals. Legal experts say that even if Veselnitskaya did not provide the promised "dirt," the laws are written in such a manner that even soliciting or inviting such material is a federal crime.

Mueller's team is also examining the extent to which people in the Trump campaign were aware of, and collaborated in, WikiLeaks' dissemination of emails hacked from the DNC and Clinton campaign to interfere in the election. Mueller indicted 12 Russian security officers over the hacks in July.
Both Donald Trump Jr. and Trump ally Roger Stone communicated with WikiLeaks and a Russian hacker who went by the name Guccifer 2.0, often tweeting links to hacked data at WikiLeaks' request.
At least 7 of Stone's associates, including people he said served as intermediaries between him and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, have been subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury convened to hear testimony in the Mueller probe.
The special counsel is seeking to determine whether Stone and other officials had advance knowledge of WikiLeaks' document dumps, as some of Stone's tweets suggested.
Mueller has also requested transcripts for Stone's 2017 testimony before the House Select Committee on Intelligence, a sign that could indicate Mueller is looking to indict Stone for lying to Congress about his contacts with WikiLeaks.
The Trump Organization's efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 election, referred to in court filings as the "Moscow Project."
The Trump Organization reportedly offered Russian President Vladimir Putin a discounted $50 million penthouse in the proposed Trump Tower Moscow. This offer could violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which outlaws US officials from giving foreign governments gifts of monetary value in exchange for something they want.
Businessman Felix Sater told Buzzfeed News that offering Putin a penthouse in the tower was a business tactic intended to raise the property values of the surrounding apartments and make them more attractive prospects for Russian oligarchs.
Experts say, however, that the deal would only violate the FCPA that if the offer for a discounted penthouse was formally lodged to Russian officials in writing, and if it was made in exchange for something like a tax break or a zoning permit, not just as a marketing ploy to raise the property values.

Trump could also be implicated in his lawyer Michael Cohen's guilty plea to lying to Congress about the timeframe during the 2016 election in which the Trump Organization pursued the Trump Tower Moscow deal.
Special counsel Mueller's sentencing memo for Cohen said that Cohen provided cooperation regarding "the circumstances of preparing his false testimony" and his contacts with White House officials, which experts says could describe a coordinated plot to direct Cohen to make false statements to Congress.
Cohen's lawyer Lanny Davis also told Bloomberg that "Mr. Trump and the White House knew that Michael Cohen would be testifying falsely to Congress and did not tell him not to."
The probe into Trump's alleged obstruction of justice and witness tampering as president.
Mueller is also investigating whether Trump committed obstruction of justice with his May 2017 firing of FBI Director James Comey, which came after Comey refused to drop the FBI's probe into Michael Flynn's false statements to FBI agents about his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak.
While the White House claimed Comey was fired over his handling of the probe into Hillary Clinton's emails, Trump later said on national television to NBC host Lester Holt that "this Russia thing" was a factor in his decision.

In July, the New York Times reported that Mueller is also examining whether Trump tampered with witnesses in the Mueller probe with his private interactions and public tweets slamming former Attorney General Jeff Sessions for not reigning in the Mueller probe, and not investigating Trump's political foes.
Some of the events under scrutiny for possible witness tampering include Trump threatening to fire Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, suggesting Comey himself should be investigated, and attempting to push other senior officials like then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo into pressuring Comey to shut down the FBI's probes of Flynn and of Trump himself.

The Times later reported in August that former White House counsel Don McGahn-- who was present for many of the events Mueller is examining as part of the obstruction probe-- had voluntarily provided 30 hours of testimony to Mueller.
Some of the other crucial events which McGahn witnessed include the Comey firing, Trump's attempts to force Sessions to oversee the Russia probe, Trump drafting a letter describing his reasons for firing Comey, and Trump's reported attempts to fire Mueller himself.
Violations of federal campaign finance law, including the October 2016 payouts to Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels to which Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to paying.
On Dec. 12, Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen was sentenced to 36 months in prison after pleading guilty in August to eight federal crimes, including two large payoffs to silence women who claimed to have affairs with Trump, in violation of federal campaign finance laws.
Prosecutors said in their sentencing memo for Cohen that he made the payments "in coordination with and at the direction of" Trump, officially establishing him as an unindicted co-conspirator in the case.
Prosecutors also struck a non-prosecution agreement with American Media Inc., the parent company of the tabloid the National Enquirer, which paid $150,000 to buy the rights to McDougal's story (which the company never published).

Trump's two main defenses were that he had no knowledge the payments were illegal, and that they were made to protect his businesses and not to influence the election.
The NPA, however, clearly states that AMI "further admitted that its principal purpose in making the payment was to suppress the woman's story so as to prevent it from influencing the election."
NBC and CNN both reported the unnamed Trump campaign official referenced in the NPA as being in the room with Cohen and AMI CEO David Pecker while the deal to purchase McDougal's story was being made, is none other than Trump himself.

Federal prosecutors in SDNY are also reportedly launching a criminal probe into whether the Trump inaugural committee misspent some of the $107 million it raised, and whether it brokered special access to the administration for top inaugural donors.
The lawsuits against the Trump Organization and Trump Foundation.
On Dec. 18, Trump agreed to dissolve his charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, after a lawsuit from the New York Attorney General's office alleged "persistently illegal conduct." This included unlawful coordination with the 2016 Trump campaign and multiple self-dealing transactions with the Trump Organization.
The suit seeks $2.8 million in restitution and a temporary ban on Trump and his three eldest children from serving on the boards of New York charitable foundations.
The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance is also investigating whether there is enough evidence to refer criminal charges against foundation executives to the AG's office for prosecution.

Incoming New York Attorney General Letitia James has pledged to also investigate Trump and the Trump Organization on a number of other fronts, including alleged tax evasion and aggressive pursuit of tax breaks.

Meanwhile, the attorneys general of Maryland and Washington, DC, are in the discovery phase of a lawsuit accusing Trump of violating the foreign and domestic emoluments clauses of the constitution, which prohibits elected officials from personally profiting off their office.
The suit, which is the first-ever emoluments case to go to trial, accuses Trump of illegally making money off his presidency by soliciting business from state and foreign government officials at Trump-owned hotels and restaurants.

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Remember When Señor Trumpanzee Loved "His" Generals?


I think Trump finally figured out that none of the generals love him and that none would fit into his schemes. It appears that Michael Flynn testified against him and his crooked offspring. And he wound up firing James Mattis, John Kelly and H.R. McMaster after dragging each one of them through the mud and tarnishing their careers with their proximity to his stench. They're all gone now-- replaced by an ambitious Nazi with bad hair who wormed and flattered his way into Trump's good graces and now pretty much sets all U.S. policy emanating from the White House.

No more "moderate" adult generals with steady hands on the till. "I see my generals-- generals are going to keep us so safe. These are central casting-- if I'm doing a movie, I pick you, general." Now the clown has faced the reality that there are some generals who don't get sucked into treason by the jingling of a little cash and that "Mad Dog" Mattis isn't a mad dog the way Trump expected him to be.

Yesterday, the L.A. Times published an interview with John Kelly defending his time at the White House by "arguing that [his tenure at the White House] is best measured by what the president did not do when Kelly was at his side." Kelly was referring to Trump's desire to please Putin by pulling out of NATO and by with withdrawing from Afghanistan. Commenting on the two kidnapped Guatemalan children who died in Trump's custody, Kelly seemed to separate himself from Trump, while blaming the whole family separation policy. I can imagine Trump didn't like this: "Illegal immigrants, overwhelmingly, are not bad people. I have nothing but compassion for them, the young kids." Trump's official response to the same question had Miller's paw prints all over them:

Kelly, who doesn't leave Trump's employ until later in the week, seemed to castigate him by reminding him that "If you want to stop illegal immigration, stop US demand for drugs, and expand economic opportunity [in Central America]." Remember, last week Trump had a different idea that he tweeted, threatening to cut off all aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador if they don't stop the refugees from leaving their countries.

Meanwhile we have Marco Rubio tisk-tisking that "It makes abundantly clear that we are headed toward a series of grave policy errors which will endanger our nation, damage our alliances and empower our adversaries." Has he retired from the Senate to become an observer and casual commenter on current events? As far as I know, he's still a united States Senator. Unfortunately, his Trump adhesion score is 94%. Maybe if it were 74 or 64% Trump would notice when he says something.

Another big name retired General, Stanley McChrystal (4 stars) went after Trump on This Week yesterday in no uncertain terms, characterizing him as an immoral liar, a sentiment that is shared by most Americans but is which is pretty heavy to say about a commander-in-chief. When Martha Raddatz asked him if he thinks Trump is a liar he said, "I don’t think he tells the truth."
“Is Trump immoral, in your view?” Raddatz asked.

“I think he is,” he said.

McChrystal said he couldn't tell any of Trump's supporters "that they are wrong," but added, "What I would ask every American to do is... stand in front of that mirror and say, 'What are we about? Am I really willing to throw away or ignore some of the things that people do that are-- are pretty unacceptable normally just because they accomplish certain other things that we might like?'

"If we want to be governed by someone we wouldn't do a business deal with because their-- their background is so shady, if we're willing to do that, then that's in conflict with who I think we are. And so I think it's necessary at those times to take a stand."

...McChrystal, who recently published a book on leadership styles throughout history called, Leaders: Myth and Reality, criticized Trump for not embodying effective leadership.

“The military talks about would they come for you. And what that means is if you're put into a difficult military situation, would that leader sacrifice himself, put himself and others at risk to come for you? I have to believe that the people I'm working for would do that, whether we disagree on a lot of other things. I'm not convinced from the behavior that I've seen that that's the case here,” said McChrystal.

He also cautioned anyone who might fill the vacancy left by Defense Secretary James Mattis’ departure, to consider if their values sufficiently align with those of the president.

"I think maybe it causes the American people to take pause and say, wait a minute, if we have someone who is as selfless and as committed as Jim Mattis resign his position, walking away from all the responsibility he feels for every service member in our forces and he does so in a public way like that, we ought to stop and say, 'OK, why did he do it?,'" McChrystal said on This Week.

“I would ask [potential candidates] to look in the mirror and ask them if they can get comfortable enough with President Trump's approach to governance, how he conducts himself with his values and with his worldview to be truly loyal to him as a commander in chief and going forward,” McChrystal said. “If there's too much of a disconnect then I would tell him I think it’s-- it would be a bad foundation upon which to try to build a successful partnership at that job.”

McChrystal said he would not take a job in the Trump administration if he were asked.

"I think it's important for me to work for people who I think are basically honest, who tell the truth as best they know it," he said. "I'm very tolerant of people who make mistakes because I make so many of them-- and I've been around leaders who've made mistakes ... but through all of them, I almost never saw people trying to get it wrong. And I almost never saw people who were openly disingenuous on things."

He also disagreed with Trump’s approach to his visit to Iraq last week to address troops, saying the president was wrong to politicize a usually non-political occasion. In addition to talking extensively about domestic political issues in his speech to troops, Trump autographed troops' “Make America Great Again” hats. The president said in a tweet that the hats were not provided by the White House.

McChrystal said he understood why many young troops would want signed memorabilia from the president, comparing it to meeting a celebrity, but also warned that it “violated the spirit” of the military code and that the military’s apolitical status should be preserved.

“If we encourage young military members to be Republicans or Democrats or anything particular, you start to create schisms in an infantry platoon,” McChrystal told Raddatz on This Week.

“I never knew who was a Democrat or Republican and even when we were generals, when you got in a room, you never talked about politics because it was just considered bad form," he said. "I think if we allow it or encourage it, I think we are going to create something that could be a slippery slope.”

McChrystal also disagreed with Trump's announcement to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, warning it would lead to "greater instability" in the Middle East.

"What difference does it make-- does it really make, if those 2,000 U.S. forces leave?" Raddatz asked.

“If you pull American influence out, you're likely to have greater instability and of course it'll be much more difficult for the United States to try to push events in any direction. There is an argument that says we just pull up our stuff, go home, let the region run itself. That has not done well for the last 50 or 60 years,” McChrystal said.

In announcing the withdrawal from Syria earlier this month, Trump touted victory over the Islamic State, or ISIS, there, declaring, “We have defeated ISIS in Syria.”

McChrystal disagreed, citing the continued threat of ISIS’ ideology.

“I don't believe ISIS is defeated,” McChrystal said. “I think ISIS is as much an idea as it is a number of ISIS fighters. There's a lot of intelligence that says there are actually more ISIS fighters around the world now than there were a couple of years ago.”

ABC News has also reported that Trump plans to reduce U.S. forces in Afghanistan by half, about 7,000 troops. In a statement to Bloomberg Friday, Garrett Marquis, a spokesperson for the National Security Council said Trump "has not made a determination to" to withdraw troops from Afghanistan or "directed the Department of Defense to begin the process of withdrawing" troops. Marquis did not respond when ABC News requested further comment.

"Do you see that as a problem?" Raddatz asked McChrystal.

“I think the great mistake in the president's leaked guidance is that just when we were starting to sit down with the Taliban, just we were starting to begin negotiations, he basically traded away the biggest leverage point we have. If you tell the Taliban that we are absolutely leaving on a date... their incentives to try to cut a deal dropped dramatically,” McChrystal said.

McChrystal added that the decision could have a lasting impact on the trust in the alliance between the United States and the democratically-elected Afghan government it supports.

“Of course I was worried about the confidence of the Afghan people because at the end of the day, that's what determines who wins in Afghanistan,” McChrystal said. “And I think we probably rocked them-- we rocked them in their belief that we are allies that can be counted on.”

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Two New Presidential Candidates Today-- One Great And One Scraped Off The Bottom Of The Toilet... Let's Stick With Elizabeth Warren Though


I expect dozens of politicians for the 2020 election cycle (for Congress as well as president) to start officially announcing later in the week, or maybe next week. Kara Eastman (NE-02) and Elizabeth Warren (President) beat them to it. Kara announced she's running for Congress again-- Blue America's first endorsed candidate for the 2020 cycle-- a week or so ago and Elizabeth Warren announced that she's formed a presidential exploratory committee a few hours ago. Please watch Senator Warren's excellent announcement video up top.

Earlier this morning I thought I would take some time and do the research for another in the DWT series, Worst Democraps Who Want To Be President, to welcome corporate ambititron Terry McAuliffe into the fray. His SuperPAC sent out an e-mail this morning: "We need Terry's voice in the arena and our PAC has already raised his profile in key early states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina through early ad buys." How insider and full of crap is that? It's all about me, me, me. And the image... I wonder how much they made the consultant who came up with it; for their sake, I hope not too much:

I'll hold off on McAuliffe for the day. I like this frame from Elizabeth Warren's video so much better:

Her brand new website doesn't have much verbiage yet-- almost none at all, in fact. But this biographical paragraph, all there is, is useful if you want to understand who she is and why she's running: "Elizabeth grew up on the ragged edge of the middle class in Oklahoma and became a teacher, a law professor, and a US Senator because America invested in kids like her. She’s spent her career taking on powerful interests and fighting to give every kid the same chance to succeed." Her video shows what we should all know already, unlike Claire McCaskill, Warren is one senator who is very much in touch with the zeitgeist. As you probably may know, I'm a Bernie supporter. But I'm a Warren supporter too. I wish they were running as a ticket.

Associated Press pointed out this morning that "Now, as a likely presidential contender, she is making an appeal to the party’s base. Her video notes the economic challenges facing people of color along with images of a women’s march and Warren’s participation at an LGBT event."
Warren has the benefit of higher name recognition than many others in the Democratic mix for 2020, thanks to her years as a prominent critic of Wall Street who originally conceived of what became the government’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

She now faces an arduous battle to raise money and capture Democratic primary voters’ attention before Iowa casts its first vote in more than a year. She has an advantage in the $12.5 million left over from her 2018 re-election campaign that she could use for a presidential run.

Warren’s campaign is likely to revolve around the same theme she’s woven into speeches and policy proposals in recent years: battling special interests, paying mind to the nexus between racial and economic inequities.

“America’s middle class is under attack,” Warren said in the video. “How did we get here? Billionaires and big corporations decided they wanted more of the pie. And they enlisted politicians to cut them a fatter slice.”
I fell in love with Warren in 2014 when I read one of her books, A Fighting Chance. I was so thrilled that there was someone with her intelligence and elegance fighting on our side. In the prologue, she wrote "Today the game is rigged-- rigged to work for those who have money and power. Big corporations hire armies of lobbyists to get billion-dollar loopholes into the tax system and persuade their friends in Congress to support laws that keep the playing field tilted in their favor. Meanwhile, hardworking families are told that they’ll just have to live with smaller dreams for their children. Over the past generation, America’s determination to give every kid access to affordable college or technical training has faded. The basic infrastructure that helps us build thriving businesses and jobs-- the roads, bridges, and power grids-- has crumbled. The scientific and medical research that has sparked miraculous cures and inventions from the Internet to nanotechnology is starved for funding, and the research pipeline is shrinking. The optimism that defines us as a people has been beaten and bruised. It doesn’t have to be this way. I am determined-- fiercely determined-- to do everything I can to help us once again be the America that creates opportunities for anyone who works hard and plays by the rules. An America of accountability and fair play. An America that builds a future for not just some of our children but for all of our children. An America where everyone gets what I got: a fighting chance."

I've been an Elizabeth Warren partisan ever since, although a year earlier I had noted with enthusiasm that she led a fight against Obama's putrid deal with Republicans (and through them, Wall Street) on the student loan debacle, a bill-- likely masterminded by Biden-- which benefitted some students in the short term and crucified all students over time-- a really ugly, shameful "compromise." The deal on student loan interest rates was an unacceptable plan to sell out and profit off the backs of students. It jeopardized the long term well being of students, their families, and the country’s economy by making a college level education inaccessible for many, while locking those who do go to college into even more years of debt. Warren was one of the senators then willing-- enthusiastically willing-- to stand up to Obama, Biden and Wall Street and say that we needed legislation that protects students and promotes education and entrepreneurship, not a plan that raises rates and puts students at the mercy of the market. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie, Ed Markey, Jack Reed had the guts to go after their own misguided president. Remember, this was 2013. Bernie spoke out: "The White House is being disingenuous and is trying to sweep under the rug big increases in interest rates for students and parents in the near future. Because college costs are out of control and interest rates are rising, students are leaving college deep in debt or in some cases choosing not to continue their education because they cannot afford it."

The Amendment offered by Warren and Reed failed 46-53 in the Senate, corrupt conservative Democrats Tom Carper (DE), Joe Donnelly (IN), Tim Kaine (VA), Mark Pryor (AR) killing it-- along with Angus King (I-ME) and Tom Harkin (IA-- don't ask me what kind of fucking bee got in her bonnet that day) by voting with every single Senate Republican; Claire McCaskill (MO) coincidentally got locked into the lady's room and didn't have to vote.

After the roll call, Senator Warren sent out this brief statement, while Obama and his Wall Street pals celebrated: "Today's vote is over, but our fight to make college more affordable and a better deal for our students continues. I'm in this fight for the long haul-- we must invest in our kids, bring down the skyrocketing costs of college and tackle the more than trillion dollars in student loan debt that is crushing middle class families and threatening our economy. I am eager to work with the President and my colleagues to attack these problems head-on and find solutions that will provide a real shot at an education for all of our children."

Elizabeth Warren by Nancy Ohanian

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Jesus Loves Everyone-- But Banksters... And He Hates Them


In 2012 Will Oremus asked if Jesus was a homophobe and concluded he wasn't" "While it’s reasonable to assume that Jesus and his fellow Jews in first-century Palestine would have disapproved of gay sex, there is no record of his ever having mentioned homosexuality, let alone expressed particular revulsion about it... Never in the Bible does Jesus himself offer an explicit prohibition of homosexuality." Nor does Jesus ever mention abortion. But you know what Jesus did talk about in the Bible? Banksters.

Do you recall Jesus ever becoming angry and violent, succumbing to hatred instead of love? I do; when he threw the money lenders out of the Temple. On his blog, Biblical Perspective On Money , Bob Lotich, dealt with the topic of why Jesus drove the money changers out of the Temple.
Why Did Jesus Drive Them Out?

1. They were taking advantage of those who had traveled long distances to celebrate Passover.

Two things were essential for these foreign worshipers: an animal to sacrifice and Temple coins which local merchants would accept. There was probably nothing wrong with selling animals or operating a legitimate money exchange, but, according to Jesus, these particular vendors were a “den of robbers” who undoubtedly charged exorbitant rates, thus taking advantage of those who seemingly had no other options.

2. They were doing so in the Temple.

Evidently, these shysters set up shop in the Court of the Gentiles, effectively crowding out those who had traveled to worship. Furthermore, they were perverting the purpose of the Temple itself; Jesus exclaimed that they were turning the house of prayer into a den of robbers. Not good!

In summary, these “businessmen” were guilty of a double whammy: they took advantage of others and they blocked God’s purposes in doing so. No wonder Jesus was angry!

The Rest of the Story

What happened after Jesus threw those moneychangers from the Temple? I imagine there was a shocked silence as people awkwardly waited to see what would happen next. The Bible tells us that the blind and the lame came to him, and children recognized him as “Hosanna, son of David.”

Think about it: Immediately after Jesus dealt with the opportunists, he became a magnet for the very ones whom others so often take advantage of. It may be that when we take a courageous stand for righteousness, some will recognize and appreciate that stand. The world is full of downtrodden people who are looking for someone to stand up for them. If we don’t do it, who will?

On Tuesday, the new Congress is sworn in. Who to trust and who to be wary of? These are the incumbents who have been reelected to the House who have "special relationships" with the banksters, along with the amount of money that have taken-- clearly bribes, although not defined as bribes in the statutes which are written by Congress specifically to exclude their own criminal behavior from prosecution.

This first list are the House's 30... most successful members-- at least when it comes to taking bribes from the money lenders:
Finance Sector

Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)- Minority Leader- $7,891,492
Steny Hoyer (D-MD)- Majority Leader- $6,838,814
Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)- Financial Service's subcommittee on Capital Markets chair- $6,327,421
Jim Himes (New Dem-CT)- Financial Services Committee- $6,279,357
Steve Stivers (R-OH)- House Financial Services Committee- $5,598,776
Patrick McHenry (R-NC)- Financial Services Committee- $5,586,542
Richard Neal (D-MA)- chair, Ways and Means Committee- $5,504,510
Nita Lowey (D-NY)- chair, Appropriations Committee- $5,244,643
Kevin Brady (R-TX)- ranking member, Ways and Means Committee- $4,182,735
Ed Perlmutter (New Dem-CO)- Financial Services Committee- $4,111,253
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)- Speaker- $3,985,976
John Larson (D-CT)- Ways and Means Committee- $3,969,459
Brad Sherman (New Dem-CA)- Financial Services Committee- $3,823,403
Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO)- Financial Services Committee- $3,772,203
Sean Duffy (R-WI)- Financial Service's oversight subcomiittee chair- $3,679,647
Gregory Meeks (New Dem-NY)- Financial Services Committee- $3,661,288
Andy Barr (R-KY)- Financial Services Committee- $3,568,176
Ron Kind (New Dem-WI)- Ways and Means Committee- $3,308,271
Joe Kennedy III (D-MA)- Energy and Commerce Committee- $3,304,400
David Scott (New Dem-GA)- Financial Services Committee- $3,260,344
Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)- Energy and Commerce Committee- $3,258,220
Charlie Crist (New Dem-FL)-Financial Services Committee- $3,165,972
Steve Scalise (R-LA)- Energy and Commerce Committee- $3,100,326
Vern Buchanon (R-FL)- Ways and Means Committee- $3,092,743
Peter King (R-NY)- Financial Services Committee- $3,092,721
Ann Wagner (R-MO)- Financial Services Committee- $3,041,599
Josh Gottheimer (New Dem-NJ)- Financial Services Committee- $2,967,427
Jim Clyburn (D-SC)- Majority Whip- $2,906,566
Sean Patrick Maloney (New Dem-NY)- formerly on Financial Services Committee- $2,873,140
Tom Reed (R-NY)- Ways and Means Committee- $2,854,464

Stock Brokers/Investment Industry

Jim Himes (New Dem-CT)- Financial Services Committee- $2,919,307
Nita Lowey (D-NY)- chair, Appropriations Committee- $2,503,191
Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)- Minority Leader- $2,342,302
Ro Khanna (D-CA)- Budget Committee- $2,126,244
Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)- Financial Service's subcommittee on Capital Markets chair- $1,918,498
Joe Kennedy III (D-MA)- Energy and Commerce Committee- $1,673,683
Steny Hoyer (D-MD)- Majority Leader- $1,669,332
Josh Gottheimer (New Dem-NJ)- Financial Services Committee- $1,568,898
Patrick McHenry (R-NC)- Financial Services Committee- $1,278,356
Richard Neal (D-MA)- chair, Ways and Means Committee- $1,227,619

Hedge Funds

Elisse Stefanik (R-NY)- $359,832
Jim Himes (New Dem-CT)- Financial Services Committee- $331,225
Nita Lowey (D-NY)- chair, Appropriations Committee- $279,300
Chellie Pingree (D-ME)- Appropriations Committee- $264,550
Tom Reed (R-NY)- Ways and Means Committee- $226,116
Joe Kennedy III (D-MA)- Energy and Commerce Committee- $220,599
Josh Gottheimer (New Dem-NJ)- Financial Services Committee- $202,065
Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)- Financial Service's subcommittee on Capital Markets chair- $150,656
Ann Kirkpatrick (New Dem-AZ)- freshman- $147,972
ikie Sherrill (New Dem-NJ)- freshman- $147,333

Mortgage Banking

Brad Sherman (New Dem-CA)- Financial Services Committee- $250,365
Patrick McHenry (R-NC)- Financial Services Committee- $189,487
Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)- Financial Service's subcommittee on Capital Markets chair- $153,690
Gregory Meeks (New Dem-NY)- Financial Services Committee- $145,905
Ed Perlmutter (New Dem-CO)- Financial Services Committee- $142,950
Steny Hoyer (D-MD)- Majority Leader- $142,400
Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)- Minority Leader- $138,900
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Speaker- $134,792
Sean Duffy (R-WI)- Financial Service's oversight subcomiittee chair- $132,700
Bill Huizenga (R-MI)- Financial Services Committee- $131,550

Payday Lenders

Alcee Hastings (D-FL)- $182,950
Steve Stivers (R-OH)- House Financial Services Committee- $169,225
Patrick McHenry (R-NC)- Financial Services Committee- $139,599
Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO)- Financial Services Committee- $135,100
Gregory Meeks (New Dem-NY)- Financial Services Committee- $132,000
Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)- Financial Service's subcommittee on Capital Markets chair- $130,050
Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)- Minority Leader- $105,300
David Scott (New Dem-GA)- Financial Services Committee- $95,130
Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)- Energy and Commerce Committee- $90,200
Henry Cuellar (New Dem-TX)- Appropriations Committee- $82,900

Student Loan Companies

Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE)- Appropriations Committee- $62,800
Ed Perlmutter (New Dem-CO)- Financial Services Committee- $62,750
Virginia Foxx (R-NC)- ranking member Education Committee- $60,450
Patrick McHenry (R-NC)- Financial Services Committee- $51,200
Bobby Scott (D-VA)- Education Committee- $42,000

Commercial Banking

Patrick McHenry (R-NC)- Financial Services Committee- $963,694
Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO)- Financial Services Committee- $901,988
Steve Stivers (R-OH)- House Financial Services Committee- $901,772
Steny Hoyer (D-MD)- Majority Leader- $827,730
Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)- Minority Leader- $693,302
Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)- Financial Service's subcommittee on Capital Markets chair- $677,795
Jim Himes (New Dem-CT)- Financial Services Committee- $626,975
Andy Barr (R-KY)- Financial Services Committee- $608,518
David Scott (New Dem-GA)- Financial Services Committee- $607,201
Ed Perlmutter (New Dem-CO)- Financial Services Committee- $591,200
Should people writing banking and investment legislation on their committees be taking money-- particularly very large sums of money-- from banksters and from PACs financed by investment and finance industries? I don't think so. I think the practice absolutely degrades Congress, degrades American politics and surely drives a wedge between voters and the members of the political class. Congress will never pass a law prohibiting members of Congress from taking bribes until voters go crazy on their asses and really make them feel the heat. Many members are really pissed off at AOC because of this kind of thing:

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