I Can’t Watch

Trump Maladministration

I’m so depressed over the Kavanaugh mess I don’t even want to follow the news. I’ll check back in later.

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All the President’s Tax Frauds

Trump Maladministration

Do read the blockbuster report out by the New York Times on the Trump Family Taxes.

Mr. Trump won the presidency proclaiming himself a self-made billionaire, and he has long insisted that his father, the legendary New York City builder Fred C. Trump, provided almost no financial help.

But The Times’s investigation, based on a vast trove of confidential tax returns and financial records, reveals that Mr. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire, starting when he was a toddler and continuing to this day.

Much of this money came to Mr. Trump because he helped his parents dodge taxes. He and his siblings set up a sham corporation to disguise millions of dollars in gifts from their parents, records and interviews show. Records indicate that Mr. Trump helped his father take improper tax deductions worth millions more. He also helped formulate a strategy to undervalue his parents’ real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars on tax returns, sharply reducing the tax bill when those properties were transferred to him and his siblings.

This all might have been criminal at the time, but unfortunately it’s all past the statute of limitations.

By age 3, Mr. Trump was earning $200,000 a year in today’s dollars from his father’s empire. He was a millionaire by age 8. By the time he was 17, his father had given him part ownership of a 52-unit apartment building. Soon after Mr. Trump graduated from college, he was receiving the equivalent of $1 million a year from his father. The money increased with the years, to more than $5 million annually in his 40s and 50s.

Horatio Alger would have been proud.

Fred Trump was relentless and creative in finding ways to channel this wealth to his children. He made Donald not just his salaried employee but also his property manager, landlord, banker and consultant. He gave him loan after loan, many never repaid. He provided money for his car, money for his employees, money to buy stocks, money for his first Manhattan offices and money to renovate those offices. He gave him three trust funds. He gave him shares in multiple partnerships. He gave him $10,000 Christmas checks. He gave him laundry revenue from his buildings.

Much of his giving was structured to sidestep gift and inheritance taxes using methods tax experts described to The Times as improper or possibly illegal. Although Fred Trump became wealthy with help from federal housing subsidies, he insisted that it was manifestly unfair for the government to tax his fortune as it passed to his children. When he was in his 80s and beginning to slide into dementia, evading gift and estate taxes became a family affair, with Donald Trump playing a crucial role, interviews and newly obtained documents show.

Truly inspiring.

The most overt fraud was All County Building Supply & Maintenance, a company formed by the Trump family in 1992. All County’s ostensible purpose was to be the purchasing agent for Fred Trump’s buildings, buying everything from boilers to cleaning supplies. It did no such thing, records and interviews show. Instead All County siphoned millions of dollars from Fred Trump’s empire by simply marking up purchases already made by his employees. Those millions, effectively untaxed gifts, then flowed to All County’s owners — Donald Trump, his siblings and a cousin. Fred Trump then used the padded All County receipts to justify bigger rent increases for thousands of tenants.

Good ol’ American ingenuity, huh?

All told, The Times documented 295 streams of revenue that Fred Trump created over five decades to enrich his son. In most cases his four other children benefited equally. But over time, as Donald Trump careened from one financial disaster to the next, his father found ways to give him substantially more money, records show. Even so, in 1990, according to previously secret depositions, Mr. Trump tried to have his father’s will rewritten in a way that Fred Trump, alarmed and angered, feared could result in his empire’s being used to bail out his son’s failing businesses.

How heart warming. And there’s lots and lots more. So much more. And as you read it, keep reminding yourself that if Dems take back the House, the head of the House Financial Services Committee will be Maxine Waters. And Maxine Waters could subpoena all of Trump’s bank records and tax returns.

See also this Forbes article about how Trump is trying but failing to make money off the presidency. So much winning.

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Why Is Kavanaugh Still a Candidate for SCOTUS?

Trump Maladministration

What I’m seeing in the Kavanaugh mess is very different from what Republicans must be seeing. Because what I’m seeing is that the longer this drags out, the worse Kavanaugh looks to most voters. Yes, opinions about the candidate have hardened along partisan lines, but “swing voters” are mostly going into the opposition camp. Many people who were undecided last week are “no” this week. It also appears that opposition to Kavanaugh is stronger among Dems than support for him is among Republicans. He is, as someone might say, a loser.

Yet, rather than back off from the nomination, Republicans are doubling down. And they are doing this in spite of lots of indicators that Kavanaugh is going to hurt them more than help them in the midterms. Apparently, Republicans think otherwise.

Dylan Scott wrote a couple of days ago,

Republicans aren’t being irrational. While Democrats are appalled, Republicans are listening to a different drummer: the conservative grassroots. Those voters want their Supreme Court justice confirmed, or else they are threatening to stay home on Election Day — and that really could put the Republican majority at risk.

Evangelicals are maybe the single cohort most loyal to Trump and therefore crucial in midterm elections, which will be a referendum on the president. They were already warning Republicans not to withdraw Kavanaugh or else risk electoral disaster before Ramirez came forward. They don’t sound likely to change course now.

The nerds at FiveThirtyEight discuss this perspective and aren’t sure it holds water.  On September 26, at least, they were saying that the Republicans might be better off withdrawing Kavanaugh and replacing him with a less controversial conservative. There was still plenty of time to get the confirmation done and off the plate before the midterms.  They also questioned how important this Supreme Court pick is to the right-wing base, really. One anti-abortion judge is as good as another, and the woods are full of ’em.

However, by sticking with Kavanaugh, and making the whole confirmation about Kavanaugh, and not just about putting a conservative justice on the Court, Republicans could very well be shooting themselves in the foot. At least, it seems that way to me. But, apparently, the Right imagines it is standing on some kind of principle, or even moral higher ground, and they aren’t going to step down.

So Mitch McConnell is preparing to push Kavanaugh through, and if he doesn’t have the votes the Republicans will probably campaign on how Kavanaugh was “borked.”

Of course, a big part of the Republican’s perspective is that they don’t think sexual assault is really a wrong. Especially if it happened a long time ago and the perp is a powerful white guy.

From the perspective of not-Republicans, this issue isn’t really about what Brett Kavanaugh did to Christine Blasey Ford. It’s about a system that protects the predation of men and dismisses the damage done to those they assault. Every time someone stands up and expresses outrage about how Brett Kavanaugh and his family must be suffering, they are saying loudly and clearly that Christine Blasey Ford’s suffering is her problem and she should get over it already, and that, basically, women don’t count.

Yeah, but dude — they vote.

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What a Bleeping Bleep

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I don’t know that the “limited investigation” will be anything but a paper shuffle, but my sense of things is that the more time it takes to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, the less likely it is he will be confirmed. David Atkins wrote,

Senator Jeff Flake’s decision to to stall the confirmation vote of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh by a week while the FBI conducts a limited inquiry to the assault allegations may turn out to be a mere speed bump on the road to Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Given the nominee’s brazen lies under oath on matters small and large, it is also possible that a week will be more than enough time for a combination of journalistic and law enforcement inquiries to expose Kavanaugh as too patently unfit for even this hyperpartisan Republican Senate to force through.

Either way, in the current political environment a week is an ocean of time, giving Republican Senators like Flake, Murkowski, Collins and others ample opportunity to consider just how history will view them, and just how low the Republican Party will sink under their guidance.

My suspicions are that the biggest reason McConnell et al. agreed to the investigation is that he didn’t have the votes. But if that’s so, will another week make any difference? Or will a perfunctory investigation provide a fig leaf of an excuse to do the wrong thing for the likes of Susan Collins?

At Axios, Jim VandeHei writes that the whole mess reveals a massive miscalculation on the Republicans’ part:

The big picture: He and Republicans had an epic failure of imagination. They were forced reluctantly and publicly into what should have been a fairly easy-to-anticipate moderate compromise: agree to a vote after a quick FBI probe. Instead of looking hungry for truth, Kavanaugh heads into the week looking fearful of findings.

There’s a reason for this miscalculation:

Republicans, from the earliest days of the allegations, were overly confident they could just jam this through, several people involved the process tell us.

They thought he would be better defending himself — and that Dr. Ford would seem less credible.

Republicans treated this like a bare-knuckles political fight. They calculated a Fox News appearance, a Trump endorsement, a headstrong Mitch McConnell, a fired-up base, a fast vote would hold the party together.

According to Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns at the New York Times, the Republicans are still approaching the nomination as a bare-knuckles political fight.

By agreeing to delay Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination in the short term, President Trump and Senate Republicans are making two long-term bets: that a drawn-out confirmation battle will secure a conservative majority on the Supreme Court, and that the fight will give them a better chance of keeping control of the Senate in the midterm elections.

With that Senate majority squarely in mind, Republicans are also making a concession to stark political realities. Party leaders have concluded that supporting Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination, in the face of sexual assault accusations against him, will all but ensure that Republicans lose control of the House in November even as their fortunes may improve in some tough Senate races. …

… Republicans, particularly the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, appear to be gambling that their majority in the House is already in tatters, and that it is worth trading for a legacy-making appointment to the Supreme Court and the chance to retain their 51-to-49 Senate majority.

Among other challenged Democrats they’re probably thinking of Claire McCaskill, who has said she will vote no on the nomination. But I’m not sure this mess is hurting McCaskill here. The people who are knee-jerk anti-McCaskill voters are knee-jerk anti-McCaskill voters with or without Kavanaugh. But there are a lot of suburban women in this state who may be ambivalent about McCaskill but are probably furious about Kavanaugh, and there are a lot of rural women who have been mistreated by men in them thar hills.

Meanwhile, even the bleeping Jesuits have withdrawn support for Kavanaugh.

See also Charles Pierce, In Plain Terms, Judge Brett Kavanaugh Lies About Everything and Jamelle Bouie, A Justice Kavanaugh Will Be a Pyrrhic Victory for the GOP.

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Maybe a Delay

Trump Maladministration

I’ve been putting off posting until there was news that the Kavanaugh nomination had been approved by the Judiciary Committee. And the Judiciary Committee vote kept getting delayed. Then the news was that the aptly named Jeff Flake voted yes but requested a one-week delay on the floor vote for investigation. Otherwise, he said, he might choose to vote against Kavanaugh in the end.

However, now we’re hearing that Lisa Murkowski and Joe Manchin also have come out for a one-week delay, which is getting a little more serious. Kavanaugh might need Murkowski’s and Manchin’s votes.

Stay tuned.

Update: GOP Leaders Will Ask FBI To Investigate ‘Credible Allegations’ Against Kavanaugh

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How’s It Going?

Trump Maladministration

I deliberately did not watch or listen to the  hearings this morning, mostly because I have other work to do. I notice the leftie-leaning media are confident Professor Ford handled herself well. So I looked at not-leftie-leaning media. This is from Politico:

THERE ARE A LOT OF REPUBLICANS who are already hoping that the White House will pull BRETT KAVANAUGH’S Supreme Court nomination — “today,” as one put it to us. “Total disaster,” as another senior Republican told us. Factions in and around the White House — Trump allies — are getting concerned. As we said this morning: It’s hard to see what Kavanaugh can do to change the strikingly difficult political dynamics. He has already said, without a doubt, that he did not do anything — that has left him no wiggle room. We’ve not spoken to a single Republican so far who thinks this is going well for them. Most think it’s an abject disaster.

Also from Politico, GOP governors call for delaying Kavanaugh vote.  And it sounds like Grassley was a total jerk.

And see Silence on Wall Street. Tears in a retirement home. The country watches, transfixed, as Ford tells her story.

Frat Boy gets his turn later, I understand.

Update: This is from the Wall Street Journal, secondhand via Raw Story:

The Wall Street Journal talked with several former Trump administration officialsabout Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee — and they all agreed that it was a disaster for Republicans.

One former Trump official described Ford as a “very credible witness” and said that her sworn testimony had gone “worse than any Republican could have expected.”

Another former Trump official said that Ford’s testimony means that Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court is now in deep trouble — and they doubted that he could save it during his testimony.

“Ford’s testimony puts all the pressure on Kavanaugh,” they said. “He really needs to knock it out of the park.”

And finally, a third official lamented that it would be almost impossible for Republicans to paint Ford as a lying political operative.

“She seems sincere, kind, thoughtful and credible,” they explained. “Hard to suggest she is politically motivated.”

President Donald Trump is reportedly seething while watching Ford’s testimony because he has been surprised at how credible she seems as a witness.

Update: Josh Marshall, Blasey Ford’s Shining Moment; Grassley’s Catastrophe

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The Culture War as Farce

Trump Maladministration

The Culture War, as Pat Buchanan envisioned it, was supposed to be about the superior moral standards of conservatism as opposed to the indulgent amorality of liberalism. This is from Buchanan’s 1992 RNC speech endorsing George H.W. Bush:

The presidency is also America’s bully pulpit, what Mr Truman called, “preeminently a place of moral leadership.” George Bush is a defender of right-to-life, and lifelong champion of the Judeo-Christian values and beliefs upon which this nation was built.

Mr Clinton, however, has a different agenda.

At its top is unrestricted abortion on demand. When the Irish-Catholic governor of Pennsylvania, Robert Casey, asked to say a few words on behalf of the 25 million unborn children destroyed since Roe v Wade, he was told there was no place for him at the podium of Bill Clinton’s convention, no room at the inn.

Yet a militant leader of the homosexual rights movement could rise at that convention and exult: “Bill Clinton and Al Gore represent the most pro-lesbian and pro-gay ticket in history.” And so they do.

Bill Clinton supports school choice–but only for state-run schools. Parents who send their children to Christian schools, or Catholic schools, need not apply.

Elect me, and you get two for the price of one, Mr Clinton says of his lawyer-spouse. And what does Hillary believe? Well, Hillary believes that 12-year-olds should have a right to sue their parents, and she has compared marriage as an institution to slavery–and life on an Indian reservation.

Well, speak for yourself, Hillary.

Friends, this is radical feminism. The agenda Clinton & Clinton would impose on America–abortion on demand, a litmus test for the Supreme Court, homosexual rights, discrimination against religious schools, women in combat–that’s change, all right. But it is not the kind of change America wants. It is not the kind of change America needs. And it is not the kind of change we can tolerate in a nation that we still call God’s country….

… Yes, we disagreed with President Bush, but we stand with him for freedom to choose religious schools, and we stand with him against the amoral idea that gay and lesbian couples should have the same standing in law as married men and women.

We stand with President Bush for right-to-life, and for voluntary prayer in the public schools, and against putting American women in combat. And we stand with President Bush in favor of the right of small towns and communities to control the raw sewage of pornography that pollutes our popular culture.

We stand with President Bush in favor of federal judges who interpret the law as written, and against Supreme Court justices who think they have a mandate to rewrite our Constitution.

My friends, this election is about much more than who gets what. It is about who we are. It is about what we believe. It is about what we stand for as Americans. There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we will one day be as was the Cold War itself. And in that struggle for the soul of America, Clinton & Clinton are on the other side, and George Bush is on our side. And so, we have to come home, and stand beside him.

Pat Buchanan is still alive, by the way. I checked because I hadn’t heard anything about him lately. It’s possible he’s been turned into a toad, but I have no confirmation of that.

Obviously, this is a very authoritarian view of morality, devoid of compassion and respect for human dignity, that is entirely about the tribal dominance of conservative Christianity, socially acceptable sex and keeping women in their place. And, of course, “rewrite our Constitution” is code for respecting the civil liberties protected in the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment, which conservatives prefer to deny. And today’s Republicans are still fighting this war, which ultimately is what the Kavanaugh nomination is about.

A few days ago I happened upon a right-wing comment thread on Kavanaugh in which the deplorables were loudly denouncing liberals for their immorality. And I was tempted to write, “Hello? You’re the ones defending sexual assault.” But of course, there’s no point, since these are the same people who think Trump is godly. One might as well teach physics to a tree stump.

But now that movement conservativism has devolved into a cesspool of white supremacy, misogyny, jingoism and just plain stupid; and their Dear Leader is a con man and all-around amoral sleazebag; and they’ve been put in the position of having to overlook credible sexual assault allegations to seat an obvious liar on the Supreme Court; we probably shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that, deep down, these people probably do still think they are on the side of morality and liberals are not.

See also After the Kavanaugh Allegations, Republicans Offer a Shocking Defense: Sexual Assault Isn’t a Big Deal.

From WaPo:

“It’s the culture war on steroids, an incredible divide and intense to the point where people won’t talk to each other in some cases,” said William J. Bennett, a conservative commentator and former education secretary in the Reagan administration. “You have the anti-Trump resistance, the MeToo movement and the Supreme Court making for a perfect storm of controversy.”

You’ll remember that Bennett used to make a good living writing books and giving speeches about morality until it came out that he was a compulsive gambler who lost millions of dollars in Las Vegas. And, of course, more recently we had the wonderful moment when Ed Whelan, the president of something called the Ethics and Public Policy Center, made a complete ass of himself by naming someone else as the guy who assaulted Christine Blasey Ford. Whelan is now taking a “leave of absence” from the “Ethics and Public Policy Center.”

I really would like to resurrect Pat Buchanan from wherever they’re keeping him and ask him if he still thinks Republians stand for morality, because from where I sit they left even a pretense of morality behind several years ago. There’s nothing left for them now but exercising power.  Well, we’ll see what’s going to happen with the Kavanaugh nomination soon enough. Seems to me it could go either way. And, while we’re at it, I’d like to ask him about his beloved Catholic Church and whether it has forfeited its right to moral authority. Seems to me Pat’s vision of “morality” is looking a tad tarnished these days.

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Rosenstein: In or Out?

Trump Maladministration

There were news reports this morning that Rod Rosenstein had resigned. These turned out to be premature.

Josh Marshall:

My read here is that Kelly thought or wanted to think that Rosenstein said he was willing to resign. But he refused to resign and made clear that if they wanted him gone Trump would have to fire him. Trump didn’t have the nerve to pull that trigger. Perhaps Kelly made clear that this was something Trump needed to do himself. So here we are.

Gabriel Sherman writes for Vanity Fair:

According to a source briefed on Trump’s thinking, Trump decided that firing Rosenstein would knock Kavanaugh out of the news, potentially saving his nomination and Republicans’ chances for keeping the Senate. “The strategy was to try and do something really big,” the source said. The leak about Rosenstein’s resignation could have been the result, and it certainly had the desired effect of driving Kavanaugh out of the news for a few hours.

Sherman also writes that Trump may be privately cooling on Kavanaugh. Publicly he says he’s 100 percent behind him, but privately he’s telling people something else.

As Kavanaugh’s poll numbers plummet, Trump is telling people in private that he was never a fan of Kavanaugh’s selection, sources said. According to two people who’ve spoken with Trump recently, Trump complained that establishment Republicans foisted Kavanaugh on him, because they reasoned Kavanaugh would unite the party in November. According to one former West Wing official, Trump’s first choice was Judge Thomas Hardiman, who served on the federal bench alongside Trump’s sister Maryanne Trump Barry.

Trump is keeping his distance from the nominee. A White House official said he hasn’t spoken with Kavanaugh in recent days. “This is Brett Kavanaugh’s fight,” the White House official said.

Paul Waldman wrote this while this “in or out?” question was still unresolved:

While Trump might replace Sessions and seems likely to replace Rosenstein, both of those positions require Senate confirmation. Not only does that take some time, but also when it happens, the nominees will without question be grilled about whether they plan to fire Mueller and if they had any communication with Trump or anyone else in the White House about that possibility. By being so public and obvious about his desire to have Justice Department leadership that would quash the investigation on his behalf, Trump has made it almost impossible for anyone he appoints to be in a position to do the one thing he seeks from them.

But in any case, permanent replacements for Rosenstein and possibly Sessions wouldn’t be in place for weeks or even months. In the meantime, responsibility for the investigation would fall to Solicitor General Noel Francisco. Which may give Trump hope, because Francisco is a movement conservative who is just the kind of Republican lawyer from whom Trump might expect loyalty.

But that is no guarantee. Francisco might well refuse to fire Mueller, realizing that doing so would set him down in history as a key player in a blatant attempt to obstruct justice by halting an investigation into the president’s misdeeds for no reason other than that the president doesn’t want to be held accountable. He might even recuse himself from the Russia investigation because his former law firm, Jones Day, represents the Trump campaign.

But wait, there’s more. While the law is a little murky, it may be that if Rosenstein resigns, Trump can immediately replace him with a new acting deputy attorney general (who could then fire Mueller), while if Rosenstein is fired, he can’t.

So, Rosenstein is being pressured to resign. Got it. The word is that Rosenstein has his job until Thursday.

However, even if Rosensten resigns and Trump appoints someone who fires Mueller, that doesn’t necessarily save Trump’s guilty ass. The Mueller investigation has done an enormous amount of work, and Bob Mueller is smart enough that he no doubt has been prepared for a shutdown all along. Waldman speculates that they’ve got a running report of what they’ve found that would surely find its way into public view if the investigation were prematurely terminated. And if the Dems take over the House, next year they can  subpoena documents and witnesses and lay everything bare. And if Trump shuts down the investigation now, the political fallout would be, well, radioactive for him.

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There’s Never Just One

Trump Maladministration

Yep, another shoe just dropped on Brett Kavanaugh. This happened at Yale:

After six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney, Ramirez said that she felt confident enough of her recollections to say that she remembers Kavanaugh had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away. Ramirez is now calling for the F.B.I. to investigate Kavanaugh’s role in the incident. “I would think an F.B.I. investigation would be warranted,” she said.

Even Fox News’s polls are showing that more people oppose Kavanaugh’s appointment than approve it. Will somebody pull the plug on this farce before long?

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Warning Signs for the GOP

Trump Maladministration

Bloomberg reports that the GOP’s own internal polling has told them that the tax cut trick isn’t working.

A survey commissioned by the Republican National Committee has led the party to a glum conclusion regarding President Donald Trump’s signature legislative achievement: Voters overwhelmingly believe his tax overhaul helps the wealthy instead of average Americans.

By a 2-to-1 margin — 61 percent to 30 percent — respondents said the law benefits “large corporations and rich Americans” over “middle class families,” according to the survey, which was completed on Sept. 2 by the GOP firm Public Opinion Strategies and obtained by Bloomberg News.

The result was fueled by self-identified independent voters who said by a 36-point margin that large corporations and rich Americans benefit more from the tax law — a result that was even more lopsided among Democrats. Republican voters said by a 38-point margin that the middle class benefits more. …

… The RNC study says Americans worry the tax law will lead to cuts in Social Security and Medicare, concluding that “most voters believe that the GOP wants to cut back on these programs in order to provide tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy.” It attributes that finding to “a fairly disciplined Democrat attack against the recent tax cuts.”

The fact that Republicans keep trotting out and saying we’ve got to cut Social Security and Medicare to balance the budget possibly also contributed to the public perception that Republicans plan to cut Social Security and Medicare to balance the budget. Just a guess.

Graphic from GOP internal poll

Still, since it’s about the only trick Republicans have, they plan to continue to use it.

Still, Republican leaders continue to try to sell the law. They’re planning on holding a floor vote in the House next week for a second phase of tax changes that would make the individual changes permanent. Since it has a slim chance of passing the Senate, the effort is seen as a political messaging tool to remind voters of the cuts and force Democrats to take an uncomfortable vote against tax relief for middle-class Americans.

“We promised more jobs, fairer taxes, and bigger paychecks. And we delivered on that promise,” House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office said in an email, adding that Americans are “better off now” under the tax changes.

For a few days Republicans in Missouri were running television ads of Donald Trump making fun of Claire McCaskill for voting against his tax cuts. That may not work even in Missouri. I think many middle-income voters have noticed that they really aren’t any better off, even though Republicans keep telling them that they are.

Paul Waldman:

The reality is not in dispute. Around two-thirds of the benefits of the tax cuts went to those in the top quintile of taxpayers, with about 20 percent of the benefits going to the richest 1 percent. By 2025, when the cuts are fully phased in, the top 1 percent will get 25 percent of the benefits. (See details here.) The centerpiece of the plan, furthermore, was a gigantic corporate tax cut. Republicans promised that this cut would produce a wave of investment and wage increases for workers, but so far the only wave that has resulted is a tsunami of stock buybacks benefiting wealthy shareholders, which is exactly what liberals predicted.

Those facts are available to anyone who might seek them out, but most people aren’t going to. What people do notice, however, is that their paychecks didn’t look much bigger after the tax cut. Maybe they’re getting a few more dollars a week, but it certainly wasn’t life-transforming.

See also The Trump Tax Cuts Did One Thing: Give Rich People More Money.

Trump’s hard-core supporters will continue to believe they’ve all gotten rich and down is up and fairies are real and white makes right, but the percentage of the population that falls into that camp really is shrinking.  The couple of bucks working folks may have gained in tax cuts have been offset by increases in health care, gas and other costs of living. Republican messaging is telling them they are all better off because of Trump, but they aren’t.

I have long said that the American people can easily be fooled about matters like foreign polcy that are outside their personal experience. But when it comes to things like their own income that they deal with in their own lives, sooner or later they figure things out. Will Republicans figure out that their tax cut trick isn’t working? Or will they push ahead with more tax cuts?

But we’re not done with the internal poll. The poll has told Republicans that Nancy Pelosi is more popular than Donald Trump. That ought to terrify them.

Another poll is telling them that Brett Kavanaugh is the most unpopular Supreme Court nominee in the history of polling Supreme Court nominees. Some of them may worry that if they push through his nomination they may take a bigger hit in the midterms than they were already anticipating, but they’re probably going to push it through anyway. Why? Maybe they think it’ll be their last chance to get a corporate/GOP toadie on the Court.

After being held in check for a few days, Trump finally started badmouthing Christine Blasey Ford. Well, a snake is a snake, right? You knew he’d go there. He can’t help himself.

However, a law professor guy named Ronald J. Krotoszynski Jr. argues in the New York Times that there could be plenty of grounds to impeach Kavanaugh even if he’s put on the court. And a lot of Dems in Congress are vowing that they will re-open investigations into Kavanaugh if they re-take the House or Senate, even if he’s already on the court.  As I wrote a few days ago, there’s a lot of hinky things about Kavanaugh beside the assault allegation that seem to have been shoved under a rug.

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