Tax Cuts Bad, Obamacare Good

Trump Maladministration

Trump Republicans have two issues: Tax cuts and scary dark foreign people.

Last year, when Republicans shoved through their so-called “tax cuts and jobs” act, they were certain they had just bought a midterm win. But by this past summer they were abandoning tax cuts as a campaign ad talking point, mostly because it wasn’t working.  Voters weren’t falling for the scam.

So it was a big surprise to many people last week when Trump promised more tax cuts.

President Donald Trump has promised a new middle-income tax cut plan to land days before the midterm election, a move aimed at boosting his party’s chances of holding its Congressional majorities — yet Republican tax policy-makers know nothing about it.

Party leaders were caught off-guard by Trump’s comments, made Saturday after a rally in Nevada, that “we’re looking at a major tax cut for middle income people,” and that House Republicans, including Speaker Paul Ryan, are working on a possible bill.

In fact, the House did pass a “tax cuts 2.0” bill in September, but the Senate sat on it. That might have been what Trump was thinking of; things do tend to get scrambled around in his addled head. See also “Republicans were supposed to run on their tax cuts. Instead, they’re running away from them.” Seems kind of stupid to keep talking about them at all, actually, but what else can Republicans do?

Oh, wait … they can embrace Obamacare. Paul Waldman wrote today,

First, polls over the past year or so have shown the law to be consistently popular — more so than, for instance, the tax cut Republicans thought would be the key to a midterm election victory. When even Fox News polls show the law getting more support than ever, the world is obviously not as Republicans would like it to be.

Second, instead of demanding that the ACA be torn from its foundations and set ablaze, the public seems more inclined to entrench its protections and expand its coverage. As the Associated Press reports, in the four conservative states where voters got initiatives on the ballot to accept the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid and insure thousands more people, the conservative lawmakers who refused to do so for years have been shocked by the popularity of the measures, with polls showing them with a good likelihood of winning.

Here in Missouri, incompetent weasel Josh Hawley, running against Claire McCaskill, has television ads running nonstop in which he declares that he does too support making insurance companies cover people with preexisting conditions, in spite of the fact that as Missouri Attorney General he joined a lawsuit seeking to overturn the ACA. And, of course, he has no coherent plan for replacing it. But he just luvs those preexisiting conditions requirements.


Then, of course, there’s the fact that the ACA’s guarantee of coverage for people with preexisting conditions has suddenly become the hottest issue in the midterm elections, so much so that one Republican candidate after another is airing ads proclaiming his fervent commitment to maintaining those protections — the very protections Republicans have been trying to destroy with repeal efforts and lawsuits aimed at getting the law struck down. You can find few better signs of the political success of a law than when the people who fought against it and are still trying to destroy it rush to assure voters that in fact they dearly love what it does.

And every time another Republican airs an ad claiming that he wants to mandate protections for preexisting conditions, he only reinforces one of the ideas that drove the creation of the ACA in the first place: that it’s the responsibility of government to ensure that every American has secure health coverage.

This leaves the Republicans with one signature issue that might work for them, which is scary dark foreign people. My sense of the polling is that Republican voters are scared out of their lily-white wits.

OMAHA — The guests at the Republican Business and Professional Women’s candidate forum were halfway through dessert when Representative Don Bacon offered to take their questions.

“There’s a thousand immigrants coming to our border again. From Honduras,” one woman called out. “And we’re unable to stop them without giving them asylum.”

Then a second woman asked about immigration. And a third. And a fourth. And a fifth.

Mr. Bacon, a centrist Republican seeking re-election in the only district in Nebraska that voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and sent a Democrat to Congress as recently as 2014, struggled to move the conversation along, alluding to “a breakdown in the rule of law” and his support for immigration measures that Democrats had blocked.

But soon the banquet room, filled with a few dozen people who appeared mostly white and in their 60s and 70s, broke into chants of “Build the wall! Build the wall!”

Yeah, all those migrants from Honduras are going straight to Omaha. And they’re going to break into your houses and get into your refrigerators and eat the fancy jello mold you made for the church supper and leave you with nothing.

Jeebus, people, get a grip.

Actual photo I found on the internet of actual Republican voters in Alabama earlier this year.

The question is, how is this issue working for people who weren’t going to vote Republican, anyway? Polling tells us that independents and Democrats are not all that panicked about the scary dark foreign people. However, it might get the frightened addled old white folks out to vote.

I’m not going to let Dems off the hook. See Charles Blow:

One thing that I find profoundly disappointing about modern liberalism, particularly as it now stands in opposition to Trumpism, is the degree to which it is reactive, governed by what is being done to it rather than its own positive vision.

It is true that Donald Trump is not only antithetical to liberal values, he is antithetical to most American values, and as such limiting his power and limiting the duration of his tenure are of paramount concern and absolute urgency.

Therefore, resisting what Trump represents becomes a central point of moral rectitude and ultimate patriotism. Resistance is a reaction to Trump.

But that can’t be the sum total of one’s statement of principles. You must be driven toward a concept of what you want this country to become, and not just driven by a fear of what the country could descend into.

This has been my gripe about the Democratic Party for many years.  It’s why Dems can’t turn out the base. It’s why even those of us who see how much damage the Right is doing feel jaded and manipulated when told to “vote blue no matter who.” Ultimately, it’s why Hillary Clinton lost, although her lips will fall off before she’ll admit it. At least before 2020, get a vision, please.

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Mobs and Mobsters

Trump Maladministration

Following up the “Many Standards of Anger” post — one of the Creature’s new tag lines is “Democrats produce mobs, Republicans produce jobs.” As for the latter charge, let’s review —

See “Republican presidents flunk the economy: 11 reasons why America does worse under the GOP.” Of course, y’all know this stuff.

As for the second

The Miami-Dade Republican Party’s County Chairman led an angry mob of partisans, alongside the local leader of national hate group the Proud Boys, in an attack on a Democratic campaign office this week.

Miami GOP Chairman Nelson Diaz planned the event (image below) and local Congressman Carlos Curbelo publicized the protest heavily, before and after.

No big surprise there, either. See also,

A group of hecklers angrily confronted House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi during a campaign stop for a congressional hopeful in South Florida, cursing at her and calling her a communist in a moment that was captured on video.

It was yet another incident that stoked fears that the country’s bitter and emotional political environment is at risk of leading to violence.

Pelosi has her flaws, but if she’s a communist I’m Brad Pitt. Anyway, these two reports may be of the same incident, although it’s not clear.

We’re hearing more news stories about people like Mitch McConnell being harassed in restaurants.  I’m having a hard time working up much sympathy for McConnell. Anyone who has done as much damage to the United States as McConnell has should not be able to show his face in public without consequences. But I also suspect that if people are becoming more aggressive it’s because they feel powerless. The political system is utterly corrupted; nothing works as it should. Time for the torches and pitchforks.

And it’s especially rich that the Creature, who literally patterns himself after mob bosses, should complain about mobs.

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Manna Is People

Trump Maladministration

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Stuff to Read

Trump Maladministration

Of all the exhausting amount of stupid in the news today, for some reason this irked me the most

A major evangelical leader has spoken in defense of US-Saudi relations after the apparent killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate, saying that America has more important things — like arms deals — to focus on.

Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, appeared on its flagship television show The 700 Club on Monday to caution Americans against allowing the United States’ relationship with Saudi Arabia to deteriorate over Khashoggi’s death.

“For those who are screaming blood for the Saudis — look, these people are key allies,” Robertson said. While he called the faith of the Wahabists — the hardline Islamist sect to which the Saudi Royal Family belongs — “obnoxious,” he urged viewers to remember that “we’ve got an arms deal that everybody wanted a piece of…it’ll be a lot of jobs, a lot of money come to our coffers. It’s not something you want to blow up willy-nilly.”

Just how far, and how many times, can evangelicals throw Jesus under the bus? He’s got to be nothing but bloody pulp by now. So to speak.

I’m recommending this Facebook post. Of course, wingnuts have decided that Jamal Khashoggi is mixed up in Islamic terrorism. Larisa Alexandrovna Horton explains why this is absurd.

Greg Sargent comments on the apparent aid Trump is giving Mohammed bin Salman to forge a coverup. Another good reason to subpoena Trump’s tax returns?

Ivanka Trump learned how to do business from her old man — lies and deceptions mean profits!

Charles Pierce comments on the O’Rourke-Cruz debate.

I ran into a couple of op eds today with musings about why Jamal Khashoggi’s death has gotten more coverage than the many deaths in Yemen. Steve M already wrote the blog post I planned to write, so I don’t have to.  But, seriously, the situation in Yemen gets virtually no news coverage in the U.S., and this is true even though the U.S. is involved and the atrocity is certain to come back and bite us some day. If you were to stop a thousand Americans in the street and ask them “What do you think about what’s going on in Yemen?” you’d be lucky to find one who had even a glimmer of an idea about what’s going on in Yemen. And if Jamal Khashoggi hadn’t been a journalist, and somebody that many in the national press corps knew, we’d probably be hearing only a little about him now.

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Posting Tomorrow

Trump Maladministration

I’ve been working my tush off on a book, and I just shipped all but the last chapter off to the publisher. I’ll post something tomorrow!

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This Is the Kind of Scandal That Starts Wars

Trump Maladministration

Nicholas Kristof writes,

Turkey claims to have audiotape of Saudi interrogators torturing Jamal and killing him in the Saudi Consulate. None of this is confirmed, and we still don’t know exactly what happened; we all pray that Jamal will still reappear. But increasingly it seems that the crown prince, better known as M.B.S., orchestrated the torture, assassination and dismemberment of an American-based journalist using diplomatic premises in a NATO country.

That is monstrous, and it’s compounded by the tepid response from Washington. President Trump is already rejecting the idea of responding to such a murder by cutting off weapons sales. Trump sounds as if he believes that the consequence of such an assassination should be a hiccup and then business as usual.

Frankly, it’s a disgrace that Trump administration officials and American business tycoons enabled and applauded M.B.S. as he imprisoned business executives, kidnapped Lebanon’s prime minister, rashly created a crisis with Qatar, and went to war in Yemen to create what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis there. Some eight million Yemenis on the edge of starvation there don’t share this bizarre view that M.B.S. is a magnificent reformer.

There are credible reports that the U.S. knew the Saudis intended to seize Jamal Khashoggi before it happened, and did nothing.

Did I mention how much Trump loves the Saudis? His personal business ties to the Saudis are deep and go back many years. And in spite of his claims to the contrary, those ties appear to continue.

Since Trump took the oath of office, the Saudi government and lobbying groups for it have been lucrative customers for Trump’s hotels.

A public relations firm working for the kingdom spent nearly $270,000 on lodging and catering at his Washington hotel near the Oval Office through March of last year, according to filings to the Justice Department. A spokesman for the firm told The Wall Street Journal that the Trump hotel payments came as part of a Saudi-backed lobbying campaign against a bill that allowed Americans to sue foreign governments for responsibility in the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Attorneys general for Maryland and the District of Columbia cited the payments by the Saudi lobbying firm as an example of foreign gifts to the president that could violate the Constitution’s ban on such “emoluments” from foreign interests.

The Saudi government was also a prime customer at the Trump International Hotel in New York early this year, according to a Washington Post report.

The newspaper cited an internal letter from the hotel’s general manager, who wrote that a “last-minute” visit in March by a group from Saudi Arabia accompanying Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had boosted room rentals at the hotel by 13 percent for the first three months of the year, after two years of decline.

Saudi Arabia has also helped on one of Trump’s key policy promises, and helped the president’s friends along the way.

And, of course, Trump’s first foreign trip as POTUS was to Saudi Arabia, and Mr. Ivanka appears to have developed a close relationship with MBS.

So how will the Trump administration respond to the apparent murder of  Jamal Khashoggi?

Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday that though he didn’t like the fact that Khashoggi had disappeared under mysterious circumstances, he didn’t want to risk losing a very lucrative arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

“This took place in Turkey, and to the best of our knowledge, Khashoggi is not a United States citizen, he’s a permanent resident,” the president said. “We don’t like it, even a little bit. But as to whether or not we should stop $110 billion from being spent in this country, knowing they [Saudi Arabia] have four or five alternatives, two very good alternatives, that would not be acceptable to me.”

So no, he’s not going to do anything, and I’m sure the Saudis were counting on that when they decided to take out Jamal Khashoggi. But I don’t think this issue is going to go away, either.

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The Many Standards of Anger

Trump Maladministration

Greg Sargent addresses the question, “Why is the mob angry?

President Trump and Republicans have adopted a closing electoral strategy that depicts the Democratic Party and “angry” leftist protests against Trumpian rule as the only real reigning threat to our country’s civic fabric and the rule of law. A new Republican National Committee video juxtaposes footage of leading mainstream Democratic figures with that of angry protesters, while decrying “the left” as an “unhinged mob.” …

… But much of the resulting debate over all this is hollow, because it is not putting these basic realities front and center: Trump, more than any leading U.S. figure in recent memory, has actively tried to stoke civil conflict on as many fronts as possible. He has concertedly subverted the rule of law, not just to shield himself from accountability, but, more to the point for present purposes, with the deliberate purpose of exciting his minority base — and enraging millions on the other side of the cultural divide — in a manner that is thoroughly corrupt to its core.

Witnessing this gaping hole in the debate is akin to watching a team of doctors diagnose a patient with advanced stages of brain cancer without acknowledging the existence of his tumor.

In a larger sense, this goes back to the question of who gets to be angry. See “Who Gets to Be Angry” and “Who Gets to Be Angry II.”

In the first “Who Gets to Be Angry” post I pointed out that right-wing white men are the only demographic in the U.S. allowed to display anger without social or cultural penalty. Right-wing white women are allowed to display anger if they are standing next to a white man who is angry about the same thing — call it ladies’ auxiliary anger. Otherwise, women who display anger are labeled “hysterical” or “whacky,” whereas a white man doing the same thing is “strong.” Men who are not white must also take care to be gentle of temperament, because right-wing white men have a pathological fear of black men displaying so much as mild pique. Or wearing hoodies.

Even white men can be slammed for anger if they are also “liberal” or “lefties,” although younger white guys generally aren’t used to being sensitive to the privilege rules and don’t hold back expressing themselves in angry ways. If there’s a big leftie demonstration, if somebody acts up and behaves badly it’s nearly always a young white guy.

One of the not-often-spoken rules we’ve all followed all these years is that only right-wing white men are allowed to be angry. This was plainly illustrated by the Kavanaugh hearings, in which Christine Blasey Ford was careful to be calm and unemotional, although she clearly was frightened, while the Right rewarded Kavanaugh for his unhinged hostility to the Democrats who questioned him.  Literally, he was entitled. If Ford had behaved the same way, they would have crucified her for it.

The same multiple standards apply to group demonstrations. Right-wing mobs are celebrated as the voice of the people; leftie demonstrators are condemned as violent extremists on George Soros’s payroll. Even Karen Tumulty noticed right-wing hypocrisy on that one.

There was a time, less than a decade ago, when the sound of red-faced protest was music to Republican ears.

That, of course, was when Barack Obama was president, and the tea party movement was hijacking congressional town hall meetings with shouts of “Tyranny!” There were plenty of shoving matches, and Democratic lawmakers were burned in effigy. The police were regularly called in to bring a semblance of order.  …

… Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) lauded the conservative agitation as a pure expression of the frustrations and values of ordinary Americans.

“You’re the people who prove the politicians wrong when they say that all this activism and unrest was crafted, somehow, in a boardroom, down on K Street,” he said. “The grass-roots movement isn’t Astroturf, as they like to put it. It’s something that started at your kitchen tables.”

The tea party really was more astroturf than grass roots, but let’s go on …

Now it is the Democrats who are making the noise, and the argument is playing in reverse.

“You don’t hand matches to an arsonist, and you don’t give power to an angry left-wing mob. Democrats have become too EXTREME and TOO DANGEROUS to govern. Republicans believe in the rule of law — not the rule of the mob,” President Trump tweeted Saturday about the demonstrations that erupted after the Senate voted to confirm his nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

I’ll go back even further. Remember the Brooks Brothers Riot? Those guys really were paid political operatives. They stopped a legitimate vote count and helped steal a presidential election. What did Democrats do to retalitate? Nothing.

BTW, while googling “Brooks Brothers Riot” I came across this opinion piece at Jacobin that’s worth reading.

Today Democrats are re-evaluating Michelle Obama’s famous words, “When they go low, we go high.” A few days ago, Eric Holder said, “When they go low, we kick ’em. That’s what this new Democratic Party is about.” The Right, naturally, has been outraged, never might that they declared open season on kicking, punching and even shooting Democrats a long time ago.

I’m still opposed to violence. I’m not opposed to pulling whatever legal, political levers can be pulled to destroy the Republican party, however. Voting rights reform and putting an end to gerrymandering would go a long way in that direction, and Democrats damn well better get to work on those if they take back the House. No more Mr. Nice Political Party.

We’ll know better after we get election results, but I’m seeing indicators that Republicans finally broke the Bigger Asshole rule. To review:

The Bigger Asshole Rule

Effective demonstrations are those that make them look like bigger assholes than us.

That’s because the public will turn against whichever side is the bigger asshole. So, if demonstrators are seen as bigger assholes than the Powers That Be, public opinion will support the establishment and turn against the demonstrators. But in the Kavanaugh debacle, I sincerely believe that a majority of the public saw the Republicans as the bigger assholes, and most recent polling backs that up. Even now right-wing commenters are crowing that the Democrats damaged themselves on Kavanaugh, but I don’t think so. And I think the backlash against Republicans for the Kavanaugh debacle is just beginning, and it will continue for a long time.

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Trump Maladministration

Item One, ya’ll folks in Florida, stay safe.

Item Two, there is more speculation about why Nikki Haley announced she is leaving the UN:

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley reportedly announced her departure on Tuesday — even though she’s leaving at the end of the year — because she wanted to avoid appearing as though she were leaving the Trump administration in response to potential negative outcomes of the midterm elections or any other negative news, Politico reported.

According to two people familiar with the matter, Haley also was trying to avoid the appearance that the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe had anything to do with her departure.

While Haley’s official story is that her exit is fueled by her passion for term limits, her allies say Haley felt she couldn’t move up any further in the Trump administration and she decided to “bow out,” in Politico’s words.

There are hopes among the remaining Never-Trump Republicans that she’ll challenge Trump in 2020. Trump, for his part, is said to have been “annoyed” by her popularity and political ambitions, which means that if he weren’t such a sodden mass of Stupid he’d have offered her bigger jobs.

Item Three, There are new indicators that the post-Kavanaugh backlash is helping Demicrats and hurting Republicans, which is not what Mitch McConnell expected. See Philip Bump, “This Is Not What a Pro-Kavanaugh Electoral Backlash Looks Like.” See also “Dems Gain On Generic Ballot In Post-Kavanaugh CNN Poll, Contradicting Other Surveys” and “Poll: Kavanaugh confirmation energizes Democrats more than GOP.”

Item Four, My dad was born 100 years ago today. This photo was taken about 1944, when he was about 25.


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Nikki Haley Resigns

Trump Maladministration

No idea why.

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Meanwhile, the Planet Is Going to Hell

Trump Maladministration

I haven’t been this angry at politicians since I can remember. I am take-no-prisoners, display-their-dripping-heads-on-pikes angry. And I’m not generally an angry person. I can’t imagine how really angry people must feel.


A landmark report from the United Nations’ scientific panel on climate change paints a far more dire picture of the immediate consequences of climate change than previously thought and says that avoiding the damage requires transforming the world economy at a speed and scale that has “no documented historic precedent.”

Right now, I feel that it’s going to take some heads on pikes to get the U.S. government to address this. The political system is broken.

See also: Charles Blow, “Liberals, This Is War

David Atkins, “With Kavanaugh, Republicans Secure An Unjust and Unsustainable Minority Rule

Nancy LeTourneau, “Republicans Have Reason to Fear ‘Mob Rule’”

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