Sunday, March 31, 2019

Another Dirty Old Man For President?


Supposedly "everyone" knows that Biden is a dirty handsy old man who doesn't even understand what it means to be respectful of women he comes in close proximity to. But "everyone" doesn't really mean every person, of course. It just means people who care enough of insider politics to pay close attention. Biden must have been contemplating what would hit him-- and how much apologizing he would be forced to do-- in a #MeToo era. (I can hardly wait to see him and Kirsten Gillibrand debate it face to face... if she dares.) But last week, former Nevada legislator Lucy Flores wrote a first person account how creepy "Uncle Joe" Biden was when he was "helping" her campaign for Lieutenant Governor a couple of years ago.

This is how she described the dirty old man who is trying to be president again based on his newish image as the Obama guy. "And we have no prior relationship. We’re not friends. There’s no relationship whatsoever. And then he begins to not only touch me but get really inappropriately close. And then lean in, and smell my hair and kiss my head... He proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head. My brain couldn’t process what was happening. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I was confused... I just froze. I didn’t know what to do. Because again the only thing that you’re processing is that there is a very powerful man standing next to you. That person is there to campaign on your behalf and you just don’t know how to respond. I mean that’s how I felt. I literally just didn’t even know what to do other than just wish the moment away."

Biden's spokesperson-- he rarely speaks for himself for some reason-- said he can't recall the incident. Lucy Flores does speak for herself and she said that "He probably doesn’t remember the interaction. I would argue that he is so used to behaving in that way that it is no big deal."

On Friday evening at Vox, Laura McGann reminded her readers that Lucy Flores is correct. Biden's got a long history of touching women inappropriately and that the media gave him a pass for years but surely won't if he runs for president. It's always "Biden being Biden" and women aren't going to accept that this year or next.
Biden, 76, arrived in Washington at the age of 30. His substantial public record includes a mixed history on women’s issues, a legacy that makes his in-person conduct even more worthy of discussion.

Lisa Lerer unpacked his history on abortion for the New York Times, reporting that Biden, who is now pro-abortion rights, has not been a solid liberal on the issue for his whole career.

In the Reagan era, Biden voted for a bill in committee that the National Abortion Rights Action League called “the most devastating attack yet on abortion rights.” Biden, who is Catholic, said at the time: “I’m probably a victim, or a product, however you want to phrase it, of my background.” He called the decision “the single most difficult vote I’ve cast as a U.S. senator.”

Biden also held the opinion that the Supreme Court went “too far” in deciding Roe v. Wade. In an interview in 1974, he said he did not think a woman should have the “sole right to say what should happen to her body.”

Biden declined to speak with Lerer for her article, so we don’t know exactly how and why he evolved on Roe. A spokesperson for Biden did not respond to an email asking for comment.

In his years in Washington, though, Biden has voted for pro-abortion rights bills. He’s championed the Violence Against Women Act. And he’s spoken forcefully about the problem of sexual violence.

If Biden runs, he’ll occupy a lane in the Democratic primary as the “normal” candidate-- a likable white guy who won’t lose it on Twitter, or pander to Russia, or throw children in cages at the border.

As Democrats grapple with the intense desire to beat Trump in 2020, many are anxious that a woman will have a tough time beating him because of sexist attitudes still held by some voters. Perhaps, the thinking goes, it’s better to go with the kind of leader that Americans are used to. Biden, who was in office for eight years under Obama, could fit that bill.

But Biden would still have to present a clear contrast to Trump. While Biden has not been accused of sexual assault (as Trump has a dozen times) and there are no tapes of Biden on the Internet joking about grabbing women by the genitals, there are tapes of Biden behaving inappropriately. One man’s behavior is far worse, but that doesn’t excuse the other.

Democrats are conflicted about what to do about this category of behavior. It’s not the same as what other men of the #MeToo movement have bee accused of, but it’s also not what liberals want to endorse. Sen. Al Franken’s resignation is still controversial for this reason. Some Democrats feel the party is putting itself at a disadvantage against Republicans, who let the president get away with far worse than any accusation Franken faced.

Flores confronts the issue of whether some bad behavior is okay, forcing us to consider what these seemingly small incidents are really like. “The vice-president of the United States of America had just touched me in an intimate way reserved for close friends, family, or romantic partners-- and I felt powerless to do anything about it.”

The Democratic Party is more than half women. More women than ever in history ran as Democrats in the 2018 elections-- and won. They outperformed their male peers. They were central to Democrats retaking the House. Women are leading the sustained resistance to Trump. The party should be committed to making sure that women and girls participate in government and politics to their fullest potential. The party needs them.
On Saturday, Marc Caputo, writing for Politico, noted Status Quo Joe "is enduring the roughest stretch of any candidate in the Democratic presidential primary, and he’s not even a candidate yet. In a two-week period where his attempts to smooth a path into the 2020 race only seemed to underscore the obstacles confronting his prospective candidacy, the former vice president got a concentrated dose of what’s in store for him if he chooses to embark on a third run for the White House.
“Biden’s record is at odds with where the Democratic party is in 2020,” said Rebecca Katz, a progressive consultant who advised Cynthia Nixon's primary campaign against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “Primaries are tough, and Joe Biden, when you’re this old and running for president, you have a pretty long record for people to go through.

Biden says he doesn't recall grabbing anyone's boobs intentionally

[A] picture from the event also shows Biden also burying his nose in the hair of actress and activist Eva Longoria. Katz, a former staffer in the U.S. Senate-- where Biden had served for 36 years before becoming President Obama’s vice president in 2009-- said it was easy to believe Flores’ accusations.

“The thing that’s so challenging for team Biden is that everything that Lucy Flores said seems very, very true,” Katz said. “There’s literally highlight reels of Biden, whether it’s with world leaders or granddaughters of incoming members of Congress, doing things that seem a little off-- on camera.”

...Republicans and Democrats alike are already laying the groundwork to face Biden by examining the business deals of his son, Hunter Biden, when Biden was vice president. It’s an issue of such grave concern to Joe Biden, who lost his other son Beau Biden to cancer, that he has told close associates it’s a major factor in deciding whether to run.

To start off the week, the conservative website One America News Network featured a report Monday about Hunter Biden’s ties to a Ukrainian oligarch and a natural-gas company in 2014, an arrangement that was also criticized a year later in a New York Times editorial.

As with the allegations lodged by Flores against Biden, the former vice president must not only determine how to respond, but also how to answer critics who will say Hunter Biden’s business interests make it harder for Biden as a nominee to contrast his record with Trump on the question of ties to Russia.

Trump’s defenders, who have blamed Ukrainian intelligence for some of the Trump-Russia stories, say they look forward to making Democrats pay for it if and when Biden enters the race.

“I’m pretty confident Joe Biden will be called out by his presidential primary competitors for his son getting rich off a corrupt Ukrainian oligarch’s gas company,” said Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign consultant and top Trump defender.

He pointed to a connection with Trump’s former campaign manager that should make Democrats uneasy.

“Wait till they find out Hunter Biden’s oligarch is from the same political party Paul Manafort consulted in Ukraine,” he said. “Old ‘Lunch Bucket Joe’ would be smart to not even get in the race.”

Elizabeth Warren says Biden's got to answer for his inappropriate behavior. All 40 years worth?

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Help Elect Progressives While Teaching The DCCC A Much-Needed Lesson About Fighting Republicans Not Candidates Working For Medicare-For-All And The Green New Deal


Today-- as you have probably been reminded dozens of times already-- is the end of the FEC's fiscal quarter. It's a big deal for candidates, as they are pressured to post winning numbers-- or else. Screw that! Sunday is the day we send out our e-mails and we're not letting any of the end-of-the-quarter bull get in the way.

We want to ask you to donate to these candidates not because the DCCC is making every campaign crazy with their end-of-the-quarter drivel, but because the DCCC is not where any of them are going to find any help, no matter how much money they raise. Under Cheri Bustos' incumbent protection scam, some of them already have the DCCC working against them. Look at this:

Nancy Pelosi herself seems to think that progressive candidate for Arizona's congressional seat, Eva Putzova is so competitive with Blue Dog (barely) Democrat Tom O'Halleran, calling it "an extremely tight race," that she's already campaigning for the Blue Dog. Rather than keeping Democratic Party democratic, Nancy Pelosi decided to lend her name to tip the scales of a healthy primary race. Let's help make the primary even tighter by contributing to Eva's campaign. Odd that O'Halleran is struggling-- or pretending to struggle-- to raise $15,000... with the entire corrupt Democratic establishment behind him!

Eva and Marie Newman are in tough primary battles against Goal ThermometerBlue Dog incumbents, respectively, Tom O'Halleran and Dan Lipinski, two of the very worst Democrats in Congress. Cheri Bustos' new rule against helping challengers trying to replace incumbents makes their tough primaries, much tougher. But I feel pretty confident that DWT readers don't give a whit about Cheri Bustos' new DCCC rule, right?

This week, Ro Khanna, who-- like scores of Democratic members of Congress-- sits in Congress by virtue of having successfully primaried an entrenched incumbent. Over the weekend, in response to the new DCCC policy, he did something no sitting Democrat-- to my knowledge-- has ever done before-- NOT EVER! He directly went after the chair of the DCCC. He wrote letters slamming Bustos by name, an unprecedented and courageous move that she and her allies aren't likely to forget, not ever. "This new DCCC policy," he wrote yesterday, "would have a chilling effect on new ideas and make it harder to elect new leaders. It would also put us out of step with voters who are tired of D.C. politicians holding on to power at any cost." That's why Blue America thinks today-- the DCCC's sacred end of the quarter fundraising extravaganza-- is a perfect opportunity to send them a message by helping progressive congressional candidates like the ones you'll find by clicking on the ActBlue thermometer above.

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Bernie Will Flush Trump Down The Toilet


Vice President Mike Pence-ilneck has been out parroting Trumpanzee's line about the collusion delusion. The Russia hoax is finally dead? Except for his pathetic dead end followers, Americans don't believe that. As entertaining as Saturday Night Live was last night, today's NBC News/Wall Street Journal national poll is even more fun!

First off, only 29% of registered voters believe the Mueller Report has cleared Trump of wrong-doing. Obviously, no normal people believe it but 29% means that even people in his hard-core base understand that his collusion delusion nonsense is just more gaslighting. And among independent voters that 29% who believe he was exonerated sinks to just 19%. Although 53% of American disapprove of Trump (with 43% approving), fully 50% of registered voters say they feel "very uncomfortable" with him getting a second term.

There was another significant poll released today that is worth taking a look at, the one of Ohioans by Baldwin-Wallace. Background: Hillary did so poorly in Ohio that elements of the Democratic Party have written the state's 18 electoral votes off. Trump trounced her 2,841,005 (51.69%) to 2,394,164 (43.56). In 2012 and 2008 Obama won the state, each time with over half a million more votes than Clinton got in 2016. Maybe the lesson shouldn't be Ohio is too red but that Democrats need a better candidate than Hillary Clinton. Despite warnings from Democratic groups-- stocked with her former staffers-- than Ohio is off-limits, Bernie's campaign is doubling down on beating Trump there. And the poll that came out today shows that's a smart move.

Trump's approval rating in Ohio is a dismal 39% with almost three times more Ohioans pollsters that they they "strongly disapprove" of Trump’s handling of the presidency than those who said they "strongly approve." 61% of people polled said they disapproved of Trump to some degree.
Far fewer of those surveyed-- slightly over 12 percent-- said they “strongly approve” of how Trump has handled the presidency. Thirty-one percent of Republicans who responded to the survey were in that camp, as were 15 percent of men and 10 percent of women. The poll has a 3.4 percent margin of error.

The latest nationwide polls compiled by FiveThirtyEight show Trump with a 42 percent approval rating. Every other president since Harry Truman had a higher approval level at this point in his presidency, the website’s statistics indicate, except for Ronald Reagan, whose approval rating was 41.1 percent.
Could it get worse for Trump before the election? Oh, yes, much worse. For example, in today's Washington Post, Seung Min Kim reported that congressional Republicans have no intention of heeding Trump’s urgent-- and harebrained-- demands for a new health-care plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, "fearing the potential political damage that such a proposal could cause in 2020 and hoping he will soon drop the idea." Despite Trump's boastful claims that the GOP will be the party of healthcare and that their plan will be better than the Democrats' socialist plan (yes, Medicare is socialist and the vast majority of Americans love it, including the idiots who support Trump), "not only is there no such health-care overhaul in the works on Capitol Hill-- there are no plans to make such a plan." In 2018, 42 red seats flipped blue (and another one in North Carolina probably will) and every analyst says there are two reasons: district and a negative feeling among voters for Trump and one hugely important issue-- healthcare.

Chyron of the Day-- Trump still has support from the right... but they're mostly morons

As Alex Roarty and Adam Wollner reported for McClatchy a couple of weeks ago, Bernie's the only Democrat taking on Trump directly, consistently and by name. When Bernie speaks at rallies he will often remind people that Trump is "the most dangerous president in American history," that he "simply does not know the difference between truth and lies" and that his relentless attacks on the free press are "beyond disgraceful." Everyone knows it but only Bernie says it out loud. "This is what demagogues always do. Rather than accept responsibility for what they do, they claim what anyone is saying about them is a lie." How many times have you heard him say that Trump is "a pathological liar?" Everyone knows it; no one says it.

Bernie's videos have made the case over and over again-- making sure the voters know that Trump is full of shit. He often contrasts himself to Trump. Roarty and Woller point out that "the inclusion of Trump-centric attacks reflects how his campaign starts this primary in a different place than that of many of his rivals, most of whom must still spend the next few months introducing themselves to voters."

Sanders’ rivals have not gone to nearly the same lengths to attack Trump or lay out their path to victory against him. The latest candidate to enter the race, Beto O’Rourke, didn’t mention the president at all in his campaign launch video.

“This is going to be a positive campaign that seeks to bring out the very best from every single one of us, that seeks to unite a very divided country,” O’Rourke said.

Kamala Harris and other Democratic candidates don’t shy entirely away from Trump; the senator from California, for example, has begun tweeting recently that “we need a new president.”

But asked for her plan to defeat Trump during a recent campaign stop in North Charleston, S.C., Harris offered a more general response, saying she planned to start by traveling the country.

“We are going to work hard,” Harris said. “We are going to be in the rural communities, as well as the communities where there is a dense population, and talking with folks about the things that matter, including health care, including public education, including gun violence and the need for smart gun safety laws. And that’s how I plan on winning.”

And at her campaign’s official launch last month in Lawrence, Mass., Elizabeth Warren made clear her campaign’s emphasis is on other, policy-focused concerns.

“Because the man in the White House is not the cause of what’s broken, he’s just the latest-- and most extreme-- symptom of what’s gone wrong in America,” she said.

Goal ThermometerSanders advisers say their candidate’s message is still mostly about pocketbook issues, and, indeed, last week in New Hampshire most of his stump speech covered income inequality and reducing the influence of money in politics.

But they say the campaign is intent on using Trump himself as a part of that message, as an example of a system that’s faltering for reasons that go beyond one election.

“We are not basing the campaign exclusively on Trump, but Trump is certainly an exhibit in the trial,” said Josh Orton, a Sanders senior adviser. “He’s a proof point.”
That ActBlue thermometer on the right? You can click on it and help make sure the worst occupant of the Oval Office in history, is followed by one of the greatest-- a 21st century FDR or Teddy Roosevelt or Abe Lincoln. We shouldn't elect another mediocrity to follow Trump, just because he or she passes the extremely low bar of being better than he is.

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Brexit Indecision Has The U.K. In Turmoil-- General Election On The Horizon?


Brexit by Nancy Ohanian

On Friday, as her Brexit proposal went down to an unprecedented third defeat (by 58 votes) in Parliament, Theresa May didn't resign. Instead she said "This government will continue to press the case for the orderly Brexit that the result of the referendum demands." 34 of her own Conservative members voted against her, including former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, former Conservative Party Leader Iain Duncan Smith, Former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, and, of course, the "Honourable Member for the 18th century" Jacob Rees-Mogg. Both Jeremy Corbyn and the leader of the Scottish National Party, Ian Blackford demanded that May call a general election. Meanwhile EU President Donald Tusk called an emergency EU summit in front of looming April 10 departure date.

The two most plausible outcomes are a "no deal" withdrawal-- akin to suicide-- or a second Brexit vote, which may be too sensible for the Conservative Party. Here's how The Guardian sees the possible next steps:
Withdrawal agreement is rejected but Downing Street is unable to indicate a way forward by 12 April

The leaders said they would consider a lengthy extension to article 50 if the withdrawal agreement was rejected at the third time of asking. They said, however, that they would expect “the United Kingdom to indicate a way forward” before 12 April “for consideration by the European council”. If Downing Street is in complete paralysis or it rejects any solution that might emerge from the Commons second session of indicative votes on Monday, then the EU’s leaders will be in a spot. They will likely call a summit on 10 April come what may. The decision will be whether to cut the UK loose, with the expectation that the concomitant no-deal chaos will drag the UK government swiftly back to the negotiating table, or possibly appeal to MPs over the heads of the government. Brussels could offer a lengthy extension with conditions-- and let parliament decide what to do next. EU countries do not want to be on the wrong end of the inevitable blame game. Parliament may look chaotic. But it is inching towards a resolution.

UK Unplugged by Nancy Ohanian

The Commons backs a softer Brexit

If the Commons was to back a permanent customs union in its indicative votes next week, the EU could “within days” revise the political declaration, the non-binding outline of the future relationship, to set the two negotiating teams on that course. The wording will not be detailed. The negotiations over the terms of a customs union will be hard-fought when they come. Labour has said it would want the British government to have a say in EU trade policy in such a situation. This is likely to have a pretty messy collision with reality-- but that is for a later date once the UK is out. In such a scenario, it is still feasible that the withdrawal agreement and political declaration are ratified by parliament within weeks, and the UK leaves the EU by the 22 May.

The Commons backs a second referendum or the prime minister calls a general election

Both of these scenarios would require a lengthy extension beyond elections for the European parliament. At the summit on 10 April, leaders would decide on the length. Any extension to article 50 in this scenario would be no shorter than nine months, taking Britain’s membership of the EU up to 31 December 2019. A full year is far more likely and anything up to 21 months is possible, keeping the UK in the bloc until 2021.

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Why Progressives Need To Have Ro Khanna's Back-- RIGHT NOW


As you probably know, Ro Khanna (D-CA) was one of the scores of Democrats in Congress who won a seat in an incumbent-safe blue district by primarying an incumbent. More recently we saw Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) do the same thing. All three have been among the most consequential new members in Congress and each is a living testament to the importance of primaries, particularly in districts where one party vastly outnumbers the other so that primaries are the only source of accountability.

The Democratic establishment reacted with another piece of their incumbent protection scheme, this time threatening to put any operative and consultants out of business if they do any work for Democratic primary challengers. Outrageous? That's the heart and soul of the DCCC, particularly now under the command of Rahm Emanuel protégée Cheri Bustos, a grotesquely corrupt and reactionary Blue Dog/New Dem.

Over the weekend, in response to her new policy, Ro Khanna did something no sitting Democrat-- to my knowledge-- has ever done before-- NOT EVER! He directly went after the chair of the DCCC. He wrote two letters that were sent out by DFA and then Our Revolution, slamming Bustos by name, an unprecedented and courageous move that is sure to cost him dearly.

"I'm asking for your help to stop a horrible DCCC decision," he wrote in the DFA letter. "The DCCC has announced a new policy to penalize vendors and consultants who work with primary challengers. It amounts to a blacklist that significantly weakens the Democratic Party and it's a slap in the face to voters who are sick of the status quo."
Representatives Pramila Jayapal, Mark Pocan, and I met with the DCCC Chair Rep. Cheri Bustos earlier this week to express our outrage and get the decision overturned, but it's clear she needs to hear directly from the grassroots.

The DCCC is paying close attention to the reaction on social media. Will you send a message on Twitter to DCCC Chair Rep. Cheri Bustos calling on her to end this new anti-democratic practice?

...The truth is that Beto O'Rourke, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley or I may not have made it to Congress if the DCCC had these rules in place in previous cycles.

We all won competitive primaries helping to create the most progressive and diverse Democratic caucus in history.

This new DCCC policy would have a chilling effect on new ideas and make it harder to elect new leaders. It would also put us out of step with voters who are tired of D.C. politicians holding on to power at any cost.

The DCCC needs to hear from you! Will you send them a message today?

Thank you for taking action. You have my word that I'll keep working with progressives in Congress to overturn the DCCC decision and prioritize voters and the grassroots.
After the establishment's Crowley debacle last cycle-- and with Pelosi's top lieutenant, Steny Hoyer, facing a primary from progressive activist Mckayla Wilkes-- halting primaries became a top priority for the corrupt, careerist establishment of the party. Bustos would never, never have done this without the explicit approval of Nancy Pelosi (who is also facing a 2020 primary-- this one from Shahid Buttar). Khanna's throwing down the gauntlet is nothing short of breathtaking. No Democrat has ever done anything like this before, at least not in living memory.

Saturday he fired off his second salvo: "The DCCC is trying to keep people like me out of Congress."
There is a dangerous new policy designed to keep progressives out of Congress. The worst part? It's coming from within the Democratic Party.

Cheri Bustos, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's chair for the 2020 election, just enacted a policy to blacklist anyone who works with candidates like me who will challenge an incumbent Democratic to win a seat in Congress. This new plan will strongarm progressive primary challengers out of running for office.

Tell DCCC Chair Cheri Bustos that this anti-democratic policy sends the wrong message to voters across the country. It's designed to protect the Washington establishment and runs contrary to everything the Democratic Party should be fighting for – representing working people.

If the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had its way, I wouldn't be in Congress today. Neither would members like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Talib, Ilhan Omar or any other Democrat who had the guts to take on the party establishment and fight for the working people of their district. If we're being honest, this is the kind of policy protecting the Washington establishment that plays directly into Trump's hands-- which is why we need you to speak up and strongly reject it.

Voters are sick of the status quo, and this slap in the face to grassroots candidates needs to be met by all of us raising our voices and demanding the DCCC reverse this tone-deaf policy. The good news is that we have a strong Congressional Progressive Caucus that is fighting to open up the Democratic Party, but change isn't going to happen if it's just us working from the inside. The DCCC needs to hear your voice too.

Sign the petition telling Cheri Bustos to stop protecting the Washington establishment and let grassroots candidates fight for working people without the fear of backlash. Anything less is a betrayal of our democratic values.

Goal ThermometerWe cannot allow these divisive tactics when we need to be building a unified progressive movement that can bring the political revolution our country so desperately needs. Thank you for taking action.
I'd like to add one further request. Blue America has a page devoted to supporting progressive primary challengers to Blue Dogs, New Dems and other corrupt conservatives. We'll be adding some new candidates very soon but we have a couple of great ones already. Please consider contributing what you can to their campaigns, which are under attack from Cheri Bustos and the DCCC. You can do so by clicking on the ActBlue thermometer on the right. Any amount helps, although I like to recommend $20.20.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

Sunday Thoughts:

So Republican messiah Donald Trump went to Alabama to have a look at the destruction wrought by some of God's tornados a few weeks ago. This time, instead of tossing paper towels out to the victims, he signed their Bibles. I'm guessing that the Alabamans who presented their Bibles for signature were told that Trump would only sign their KKK hoods and MAGA hats behind closed doors. I'm also guessing that the new #1 hymn on the Republican Jesus charts is titled "Hey Satan, Would You Sign My Bible?" It's a wonderful world.

When I think of the whole bible-signing episode, I can just hear Trump getting back on his bus with Billy Bush laughing and bragging "In Alabama, you can sign their bibles. If you're a racist jackass, they let you!"

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Saturday, March 30, 2019

Endorsements-- Do They All Help?


Is there any nice way to turn down an endorsement?

Obama's endorsement is going to be meaningful for the 2020 primary. If, as I think is likely, he decides not to endorse, it looks like a slap in the face to Status Quo Joe. If he endorses Biden, it will be something but... not that much because... didn't he have to? But if he endorses someone else-- whoa! Game-changer/ Imagine if he were to say, "It's time for some real change; I endorse Bernie (or Elizabeth Warren or Mayor Pete)... now that would be an endorsement that won an election. But, truthfully, if endorsements meant much, Hillary might be president now. Virtually the entire Democratic establishment in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Iowa and Michigan endorsed her and she lost those swing states-- and the election.

FiveThirtyEight has a fun little project-- The 2020 Endorsement Primary-- which tracks and puts a value on endorsements. Yes, fun, but... utterly worthless for much of anything else. Look who's in the lead: Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, the former lucky to be above the one percent club and the latter, barely in double digits. Booker's on top because New Jersey is the most machine state in the union and the machine is backing booker so... so are all its creatures and anyone who doesn't want to be on its bad side. On the other hand, seeing Donald Norcross on a list of endorsers... What kind of a message does that send? Is Booker running on a platform of being swampier than Trump? Kamala ties him (at 55 points), because she managed to corral lots of California elected officials, most of whom are worthless names on a list. Exceptions: Barbara Lee and Ted Lieu... but does it help her more to have their names or hurt them more to be associated with her?

Amy Klobuchar-- a one-percenter in the polls-- is in third place and has more points (44) than Iowa supporters. It's basically a bunch of Minnesota politicians (including Walter Mondale who was a former VP and therefor worth 10 points). The one non-Minnesota pol on the list is establishment crook Ed Rendell and, again, that oner sends a bad message. Most people are probably wondering when he'll endorse Biden.

Bernie's next (with 21 points) and a couple of people who might have names that could sway a few voters: Ro Khanna, San Juan Mayor Caren Yulin Cruz and Nina Turner (who brings no points but something less tangible for a list like this.

Biden's next with 18 points, 3 very conservative senators, the two schmucks from Delaware (worthless at best) and Dianne Feinstein, an excellent argument for opposing Biden.

Elizabeth Warren is a point below him and the big name is Joseph Kennedy III... but, come on, who really gives a crap other than a bunch of really old people who are probably going to vote for Biden anyway.

Beto has 14 points and 3 of the worst members of Congress, Stephanie Murphy, the chair of the Blue Dogs, and then 2 ultra-unsavory New York New Dems, Kathleen Rice and Sean Patrick Maloney. The only Texan he managed to lasso was his old El Paso City Council pal Veronica Escobar, now sitting in his House seat.

Julian Castro is next with 12 points, 3 of which come from his twin brother's endorsement and 6 more points come from 2 other mediocre congressmen, Blue Dog Vicente Gonzalez and New Dei Colin Allred.

John Delaney should have refused to play. Both his endorsers are embarrassments, crackpot New Dem Juan Vargas, a psycho Zionist who wants all the Jews to move "back" to Israel so Jesus can come and bring all the good people to Heaven; and David Trone, the multimillionaire he sold his Home seat to.

There's nothing notable going on for the other candidates other than the fact Kirsten Gillibrand's only endorser, Carolyn Maloney, is one of the worst Wall Street shills in Congress.

According to the way 538 plays the game, there are 10 super-endorsements (worth 10 points each) out there to get: Pelosi, Schumer, Hoyer, Dick Durbin, Tom Perez, Jim Clyburn, Jimmy Carter, Obama, Bill Clinton and Al Gore.

As a former presidential nominee, Hillary's endorsement is worth 5 points-- but so is Joe Lieberman's and Debbie Wasserman Schultz's... and a whole slew of lobbyists, like Richard Gephardt, Tom Daschle and Howard Dean. The embarrassment of being endorsed by Rahm Emanuel is worth 3 points. In fact most of these names have negative connotations or no meaning at all. Very few will bring any votes with their endorsement, although I suppose some bring good donor lists.

No points if Michelle Obama endorses you but that's probably worth more than any 10 of the ones who do brings points. And trusted organizations like DFA or the Sierra Club or the Justice Democrats must be a lot more valuable in the real world than... Debbie Wasserman Schultz or Steny Hoyer. I mean wouldn't you at least hesitate to vote for someone who was backed by Wasserman Schultz and Hoyer?

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Collusion Delusion: Trump Lost The Special Olympics


Yesterday, Tim Malloy of the Quinnipiac poll wrote that hungry for a candidate to take on Trump, "Democrats and Democratic leaners put the three B's, Biden, Bernie and Beto, at the top in a race where age, race and gender take a back seat to electability and shared views... 53% of American voters say they definitely will not vote for Trump in the 2020 general election if he is the Republican candidate." Another 30% say they definitely will vote for Trump and 13% say they will consider voting for Trump. Only 21% of independent voters say they are definitely voting for Trump. If that doesn't change between now and November of 2020, not only will Trump lose in a landslide, he'll lose all the swing states, including Ohio, Iowa and Florida,-- as well as North Carolina, Indiana, Missouri, Arizona and possibly even Georgia. How sweet would that be!

And, of course, there's no reason to believe Trump's polling numbers will remain the same. It's far more likely, judging from his life-long patterns of behavior, that his numbers will continue to sink-- at least among independents and even the few Republican women who can still stomach him. A little more sinking and Texas is gone as well.

In yesterday's Washington Post, James Hohmann noted Trump's reversal on the Special Olympics. He made a mess and he wants credit for cleaning it up. It's a pattern that is distinctly Trumpian. The asshole "declared that he had decided to save the Special Olympics as he left the White House to fly to Michigan for a rally to support his reelection campaign. Then, in Grand Rapids last night, Trump announced that he’s going to make sure the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is fully funded. Trump’s budget earlier this month proposed slashing that program, which funds the cleanup of the Great Lakes, by 90 percent-- from $300 million to $30 million... During his first year in office, Trump called for eliminating the program entirely. Last year and this year, he asked Congress to cut it by 90 percent. But Republicans and Democrats on the Hill teamed up to fully fund it over White House objections... This is part of a pattern. Remember when Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and then attacked Democrats for not protecting the 'dreamers' from deportations that he put them at risk for?"

After the tremendous uproar Wednesday about his decision to reduce the federal contributions to the Special Olympics to ZERO, Trump sensed he was in trouble and as he was leaving for Michigan, he told reporters triumphantly, heroically that "The Special Olympics will be funded. I just told my people, 'I want to fund the special Olympics'. I heard about it this morning [and] I have overridden my people. We’re funding the Special Olympics." So there you go-- he kicked Betsy DeVos in the teeth. Not that it mattered; there's no way that little gem-- one among hundreds, would have ever gotten through Congress-- the same way the defunding of the Great Lakes clean up wouldn't have. But now he can-- and will-- claim to be the hero. About 30% of Americans are literally too stupid to comprehend the little Times Square trick he just pulled on them.

And if that 30% of 2-digit IQ Trump supporters can't understand that, how are they supposed to understand the p.r. stunt he pulled in regard to the still unreleased Mueller Report. Based on a press release from the fake president's fake attorney general, the New York Times and the Washington Post spread the bullshit about Trump been exonerated and how the Mueller Report discovered nothing. They should both be sitting in the corner with dunce caps.

No one pulled the wool over David Corn's eyes and his Mother Jones essay, Here’s the Real Trump-Russia Hoax begins the long arduous task of setting the record straight. Short version: "It’s Trump defenders and lefty Russiagate skeptics claiming there is no scandal." He wrote that "Two fundamental facts were established long before Mueller completed his investigation. First, the Russians attacked an American election in order to sow chaos, hurt Hillary Clinton, and help Donald Trump. Second, Trump and his top advisers during the campaign repeatedly denied this attack was underway, echoing and amplifying Moscow disinformation (the false claim that Russia was not attacking). Whether or not the Trumpers were directly in cahoots with the Russian government, they ran interference for Vladimir Putin’s assault on the United States, and they even did so after the intelligence community had briefed Trump on Russia’s culpability. So to determine if the Barr triumphalists are acting in good faith, you need only ask them a simple question: do you accept these basic facts and acknowledge the profound seriousness of each one?"
The Russian attack on the 2016 election was an attempt to subvert the foundation of American society: the democratic process. How can Americans have faith in their government, if elections are undermined by secret schemers, including a foreign government? It is certainly arguable that the Russian intervention-- particularly the stealing and drip-drip-drip dumping of the John Podesta emails across the final four weeks of the election-- was one of several decisive factors in a contest that had a narrow and tight finish. Consequently, there is a strong case that Moscow helped shift the course of US history by contributing to the election of Trump. (And recognizing this is not the same as defending Hillary Clinton or concocting an excuse for the Democrats’ embarrassing loss to Trump.)

During the campaign and afterward, some Trump backers and some critics on the left, including columnist and media scold Glenn Greenwald, questioned whether the Russians indeed engaged in such skulduggery. (The Nation, where I once worked, published an article promoting a report that claimed the Russians did not hack the Democratic National Committee-- and then had to backtrack when that report turned out to be bunk.)

...[A]nyone citing the Mueller report, as it is narrowly capsulized by Barr, must also accept his key finding: Russia attacked the United States and intervened in the election. (They must also accept that, as the Barr letter disclosed, Mueller found evidence suggesting Trump obstructed justice but did not reach a final judgment on this question.)

Moscow’s intervention was an outrageous action, and concern about this should unite right and left and anyone in between. There is nothing more important in this whole affair than the attack itself. Those who are not profoundly distressed about the consequences and implications of that assault-- including those who instead focus more on distractions, such as conspiracy theories about the Deep State or the role of the Steele dossier-- should answer this question: Is it because you don’t truly care this happened, or is it because acknowledging this reality interferes with your ideological or partisan loyalties? Or is it both? It is hard to see how a possible misuse of wiretapping authority by the Obama administration (an unproven assertion hurled by Republicans) or possible overstatements from Democrats or liberal pundits about Trump-Russia connections (which leftist skeptics have cited) could be more important than an attack on the US political system that was a factor in the outcome of the election.

Back to the second fundamental fact. On Tuesday, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, responding to the Barr letter, proclaimed, “The idea that any of us, and me as a campaign manager, would cheat, steal, lie, cut corners, talk to Russians, was an insult from the beginning.” Her statement was a lie about lying.

The public record is undeniable: Trump campaign people communicated with Russians during the campaign numerous times. Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner met with a Russian emissary who they were informed would slip them dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of a secret Kremlin plot to help Trump’s campaign. Manafort, while serving as Trump’s campaign chairman, secretly met with a Ukrainian-Russian business associate named Konstantin Kilimnik who was a go-between with Oleg Deripaska, a Putin-friendly Russian oligarch. Manafort handed Kilimnik private campaign polling data and discussed a so-called peace-plan that presumably would involve lifting sanctions on Russia. (According to Mueller, the FBI has concluded that Kilimnik was associated with Russian intelligence.)

Not to mention that through much of the summer of 2016, Trump foreign policy aide George Papdopoulos, according to Mueller, was trying to set up an “off the record” meeting with Putin’s office. Carter Page, another foreign policy adviser, spoke with Russian officials in Moscow, where he made a speech assailing the West’s tough stance against Putin for his violent intervention in Ukraine.

All of this occurred while Russia was attacking the United States. (Manafort met with Kilimnik and Papadopoulos reached out to Putin’s office after it had been reported that Russia was the likely culprit in the hack-and-dump operation seeking to influence the US election.) And these contacts happened as Trump and his campaign-- most notably, Trump Jr. and Manafort-- were also publicly denying that any such attack was underway.

These denials had no basis in fact and ran counter to what cybersecurity experts were saying-- but they precisely echoed what the Russians were saying: It ain’t us! The combination of public denials and private contacts could only have been read as encouragement by Moscow. Trump at one point even called on Russia to hack Clinton’s emails, and, according to a Mueller indictment, Russian government hackers attempted to do so that very evening.

This is the original sin of the Trump presidency: he and his crew aided and abetted the Russian attack by lying about it and running interference for the Russians. And contrary to what Conway asserted, the Trump crowd, after the election, lied about most of these interactions. Trump and Trump Jr. lied about the Trump Tower meeting, claiming it had been merely a discussion of Russian adoption policy. Manafort lied to Mueller’s investigators about his meeting with Kilimnik. (By the way, Roger Stone, a longtime Trump adviser, was indicted by Mueller for lying about his efforts during the campaign to contact WikiLeaks as it pumped out Democratic material swiped by the Russians.)

One of Trump’s biggest lies about Russia was exposed nearly a year after the election: While running for president, he had told voters that he had no business links with Russia, yet for much of the campaign his Trump Organization had been secretly negotiating a deal to develop a Trump tower in Moscow—which could have landed Trump hundreds of millions of dollars and which likely could not have proceeded if Trump had dared to speak negatively about Putin. Such a whopping conflict of interest is a huge scandal, with or without any direct coordination between Trump and Russia’s covert operators. And for that Moscow venture, Michael Cohen, Trump’s fixer, had communicated with Putin’s office and asked for assistance. Cohen later admitted to lying to Congress about this.

There were contacts with Russia and lies about those contacts-- and false denials that provided cover for the Russian attack. How can all this be regarded as not a scandal? Especially before the full contents of the Mueller report, which might contain new information about these parts of the story, is made public, if that ever happens.

And there’s another matter not covered by Barr’s skinny summary: the counterintelligence inquiry that was part of Mueller’s probe. This was the investigation of whether Russia had manipulated or influenced Trump or anyone within his campaign or circle. The FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation began under FBI chief James Comey in the summer of 2016 as a counterintelligence project, not a criminal investigation. But as Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said this week, “It is not clear whether, or to what extent, the Mueller report, which is focused on prosecutorial decisions, will even discuss counterintelligence findings.” (Counterintelligence investigations are super-secret, often relying on classified intelligence gathering, and usually do not end with prosecutions or public pronouncements.)

It always seemed quite possible-- probable-- that the Russians did not need to conspire directly with Trump or his campaign to go after Democratic targets or to mount a disinformation campaign boosting Trump and discrediting Clinton. Yet Trump, by claiming this foreign adversary was not attacking the United States, made it easier for Putin to pull this off. Whether the Trump gang helped the Russian operation deliberately or inadvertently, it committed a foul act that undermined national security and a national election. Anyone who doesn’t accept this-- Trump and his lieutenants assisting the attack, whether or not a crime was committed-- as significant wrongdoing deserving investigation and opprobrium ought not to be considered a serious voice in any discussion of the Trump-Russia scandal.

Yet now there are many rushing to the their keyboards and strutting before television cameras to declare the scandal was nothing more than trickery concocted by sore-loser Democrats and unscrupulous journalists. Far from cooking up anything, many reporters worked hard to slice through the lies knitted by Trump and his allies and revealed many of the essential facts noted above. The Russiagate detractors and the Trump champions are deliberately and deceptively narrowing the question to focus only on direct conspiracy between the Trump camp and the Kremlin, pertaining specifically to the attack. They are embracing Trump’s own self-serving standard. They are studiously ignoring what has already been established: Moscow waged information warfare against the United States, Trump’s campaign enthusiastically engaged with Russians while the attack was transpiring (conveying to Moscow that it did not mind the Kremlin’s intervention), and Trumpists lied about these interactions and misled the public about the Russian operation. All these gleeful Russiagate deniers now exploiting the minimalist Barr letter to diminish or suppress the Trump-Russia scandal are conducting an exercise of diversion that is of tremendous benefit to two men-- Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin-- and a disservice to the American public.

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How Many Lies Did You Catch Trump Telling In His Michigan Stand-Up Comedy Routine?


Oil Can Harry by Nancy Ohanian

Earlier today we looked at one of Trump's lies that he's been spewing all week about wind energy which he repeated at his Michigan hate rally Thursday night. But I didn't want to leave anyone with the impression that the wind energy lie was the only lie he was spouting in Granbd Rapids. Oh no-- feeling vindicated by William Barr's silly press release and the media's buy in, he was feisty and crazed and eager to lie his way into the hearts of his jackass followers. It wasn't hard for him to do. Nor was it hard for fact checkers to fill pages and pages correcting his cascade of bold lies. The Associated Press catalogued them for newspapers and broadcast media across the country.

Some of the lies weren't that big a deal. Like when he started boasting about his electoral college win over Hillary almost two-and-a-half years ago. "We won 306 to 223." He did win-- with Putin's help-- but the score was 304 to 227. His numbers aren't true but I'd chalk it up to senility more than purposeful obfuscation. He also claimed "we did really well with women." I'm not sure what metric he's using but he lost among women, 54-41%. He did win, narrowly, among white women.

But the lies really started kicking in once he began rambling about health care. On Wednesday he told reporters that "If the Supreme Court rules that Obamacare is out, we will have a plan that’s far better than Obamacare" and at the rally he told his drooling fans that "The Republican Party will become the party of great health care... Republicans want you to have an affordable plan that’s just right for you" and "We will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions, always." AP:
Republicans may aspire to great health care but they don’t have a comprehensive plan for it. And there’s no indication that the White House, executive branch agencies like Health and Human Services, and Republicans in Congress are working on one.

Trump’s recent budget called for repealing “Obamacare” and setting hard limits on federal spending for Medicaid, which covers low-income people. Some Republicans argue that would be better, because the federal government would create a new program of health care grants to states. But when the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office analyzed similar proposals a couple of years ago, it estimated such changes would result in deep coverage losses, not to mention weaker insurance protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions.

Trump’s budget also called for hundreds of billions of dollars in Medicare cuts to hospitals and other service providers, a nonstarter with lawmakers in Congress worried about re-election next year.

The Supreme Court has upheld the health care law twice in previous challenges. The five justices who first upheld it in 2012 are still on the court.

Congressional Republicans are generally trying to steer away from Obamacare spats. Some are trying to focus on areas where they might find common ground with Democrats and the president, such as reducing prescription drug costs.

...He’s not protecting health coverage for patients with pre-existing medical conditions. In fact, the Trump administration is pressing in court for full repeal of the Affordable Care Act-- including provisions that protect people with pre-existing conditions from health insurance discrimination.

Trump and other Republicans say they’ll have a plan to preserve those safeguards, but the White House has provided no details. And it’s a stretch to think they could get a Republicans-only plan passed through Congress with the House under Democratic control.

Meanwhile House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has unveiled her own plan to shore up and expand the ACA, which would make many more middle-class people eligible for subsidies to help pay their premiums, and also make the subsidy amounts more generous.

Former President Barack Obama’s health care law requires insurers to take all applicants, regardless of medical history, and patients with health problems pay the same standard premiums as healthy ones. Bills supported in 2017 by Trump and congressional Republicans to repeal the law could have pushed up costs for people with pre-existing conditions.

Since he was in Michigan, he had to spin some tall tales about the auto industry, which he's destroying. The big lie was "We’re bringing a lot of those car companies back. They’re pouring back in." They're not and after the rally he doubled down for reporters: "We’re opening up car plants in Michigan again for the first time in decades. They’re coming in, really pouring in... And this has been happening pretty much since I’ve been president. It’s really amazing what’s going on... We’ve brought back so much industry, so many car companies to Michigan, so we’re very happy.
The only automaker announcing plans to reopen a plant in Michigan is Fiat Chrysler, which is restarting an old engine plant to build three-row SUVs. It’s been planning to do so since before Trump was elected. GM is even closing two Detroit-area factories: one that builds cars and another that builds transmissions.

Automakers have made announcements about new models being built in the state, but no other factories have been reopened. Ford stopped building the Focus compact car in the Detroit suburb of Wayne last year, but it’s being replaced by the manufacture of a small pickup and a new SUV. That announcement was made in December 2016, before Trump took office.

GM, meantime, is closing factories in Ohio and Maryland.

Trump can plausibly claim that his policies have encouraged some activity in the domestic auto industry. Corporate tax cuts freed more money for investment and potential tariff increases on imported vehicles are an incentive to build in the U.S.

But automakers have not been “pouring in” at all, as he persistently claims, and when expansion does happen, it’s not all because of him.

Fiat Chrysler has been planning the SUVs for several years and has been looking at expansion in the Detroit area, where it has unused building space and an abundant, trainable automotive labor force.

Normally it takes at least three years for an automaker to plan a new vehicle, which is the case with the three-row Jeep Grand Cherokee and the larger Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer SUVs that will fill the restarting Detroit-area plant and an existing one. Several years ago then-CEO Sergio Marchionne said the Wagoneer would be built in the Detroit area.

Detroit automakers usually build larger vehicles in the U.S. because the profit margins are high enough to cover the higher wages paid there versus Mexico or another lower-cost country.
Of course, he couldn't wait to start crowing about Putin-Gate and the Mueller Report he refuses to let anyone see. "After three years of lies and smears and slander, the Russia hoax is finally dead. The collusion delusion is over. The special counsel completed its report and found no collusion and no obstruction...Total exoneration, complete vindication." Polls show no one believes that but his dead-end supporters. He also said, referring to the charges in the Steele dossier, that "It came out after the election and everybody had a big fat yawn... All of a sudden I heard, 'Were you involved with Russia?' I said, 'Russia? What the hell does Russia have to do with my campaign?'" OK, let's get to the facts:
Mueller did not vindicate Trump in “total” in the Russia probe.

Mueller’s exact words in the report, as quoted by Attorney General William Barr, say: “While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

The four-page summary by Barr released Sunday notes Mueller did not “draw a conclusion-- one way or the other-- as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction,” but rather set out evidence for both sides, leaving the question unanswered of whether Trump obstructed justice. Barr wrote in the summary that ultimately he decided as attorney general that the evidence developed by Mueller was “not sufficient” to establish, for the purposes of prosecution, that Trump committed obstruction.

Barr’s summary also notes that Mueller did not find that the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with Russia to tip the 2016 presidential election in Trump’s favor. To establish a crime, Mueller must generally meet a standard of proving an offense beyond a reasonable doubt. The summary did not clear the president of improper behavior regarding Russia but did not establish that “he was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference,” Mueller said in a passage from the report quoted by Barr.

The summary signed by Barr gave the bottom line only as he and his deputy saw it. Democrats are pushing for release of Mueller’s full report, which is more than 300 pages. Barr is expected to release a public version of the document in the coming weeks.

There actually was plenty that Russia had to do with Trump’s campaign.

According to U.S. intelligence agencies and lengthy indictments brought by Mueller’s team, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a multipart influence campaign aimed at hurting Democrat Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, undermining American democracy and helping Trump get elected.

That effort included the hacking of the Democratic National Committee, Clinton’s campaign and other Democratic groups. Russian intelligence officers then coordinated the release of stolen emails and internal documents.

There were also plenty of people around Trump receptive to Russia’s help, though Mueller’s report ultimately did not find that those contacts amounted to a criminal conspiracy, according to Barr’s summary.

In the middle of the campaign, Donald Trump Jr. met at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer thinking he would be getting “dirt” on Clinton. Trump Jr. agreed to the meeting, which included Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, despite it being described to him as part of a Russian government effort to help his father.
There's never a Trump rally where he doesn't throwin for a little racism for the Republican Party base. Bringing up diversity visas, he used the old refrain: "They’re giving us their worst people." AP explains why that is flat out false.
The diversity visa lottery program is run by the U.S. government, not foreign governments. Other countries do not get to sort through their populations looking for bad apples to put in for export to the U.S. Citizens of qualifying countries are the ones who decide to bid for visas under the program. Trump repeatedly blames foreign states.

The program requires applicants to have completed a high school education or have at least two years of experience in the last five years in a selection of fields. Out of that pool of people from certain countries who meet those conditions, the State Department randomly selects a much smaller pool of winners. Not all winners will have visas ultimately approved, because they still must compete for a smaller number of slots by getting their applications in quickly. Those who are ultimately offered visas still need to go through background checks, like other immigrants.

The lottery is extended to citizens of most countries, except about 20. The primary goal is to diversify the immigrant population by creating slots for underrepresented parts of the world.
Sensitive about his shirking of his own military duties, President Bone Spurs always spends some time gaslighting about veterans. Two big lies: "They’ve been trying to get VA Choice for over 40 years. Couldn’t do it. I got it. We signed it six months ago." And "Instead of waiting online for 1 day, 1 week, 2 months, ...they now go outside, they see a private doctor, we pay the bill, they get better quickly."

Private Bone Spurs, America's biggest victim ever, has grievances galore

He’s not the first president in 40 years to get Congress to pass a private-sector health program for veterans; he expanded it. Congress first approved the program in 2014 during the Obama administration. The program currently allows veterans to see doctors outside the VA system if they must wait more than 30 days for an appointment or drive more than 40 miles (65 kilometers) to a VA facility.

Now they are to have that option for a private doctor if their VA wait is only 20 days (28 for specialty care) or their drive is only 30 minutes.

...Veterans still must wait for weeks before they can get private care outside the VA system.

The program currently allows veterans to see doctors outside VA if they must wait more than 30 days for an appointment or drive more than 40 miles (65 kilometers) to a VA facility. Under new rules to take effect in June, veterans are to have that option for a private doctor if their VA wait is only 20 days (28 for specialty care) or their drive is only 30 minutes.

But the expanded Choice eligibility may do little to provide immediate help. That’s because veterans often must wait even longer for an appointment in the private sector. Last year, then-Secretary David Shulkin said VA care is “often 40 percent better in terms of wait times” compared with the private sector. In 2018, 34 percent of all VA appointments were with outside physicians, down from 36 percent in 2017.

At a hearing Tuesday, the top health official at VA, Dr. Richard Stone, described the start of the expanded Choice program to “almost be a non-event,” in part because wait times in the private sector are typically longer than at VA.

The VA also must resolve long-term financing because of congressional budget caps after the White House opposed new money to pay for the program. As a result, lawmakers could be forced later this year to limit the program or slash core VA or other domestic programs.
Democratic Hopefuls by Nancy Ohanian

Polls consistently show that most Americans now agree that Trump is a liar. Less than a third of Americans believe anything he says. Remember how the Russians won him the election by targeting Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania? Today he'd lose all three of those seats, regardless of who the Democrats nominate. In Michigan, Biden beats him 54-46, Klobuchar beats him 53-47%, Bernie beats him 52-47%, and both Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren beat him 51-49%. In Wisconsin Biden beats him 54-46%, Bernie and Elizabeth Warren each beat him 52-48%, Beto beats him 51-49% and both Kamala nd Klobuchar are at a 50-50% tie with him. And here's the results of the head-to-head matchups that came out yesterday on Pennsylvania:

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