Thursday, January 19, 2017

What Color Will Señor Trumpanzee Be Mañana?

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We love the Dublin-based European betting house Paddy Power. Even though I'm not a betting man myself, they always offer fascinating opportunities to bet on current events. In a press release today, "Deep Saffron Is The New Black-- Paddy Power Open Betting On Inauguration Specials-- Including Trump's Skin Colour," they're calling attention to the odds they're offering on several important aspects of tomorrow's biggest day for fascism since Germany expanded employment by 1- preventing Jews from working, which opened up thousands of jobs for members of the master race and 2- banning labor unions from striking.
The bookie makes lighter tones Tiger’s Eye and Deep Saffron its 6/1 favourites with Mango Tango leading the chasing pack at 7/1.

Further down in the betting is Vivid Tangelo and Cool Copper at 8/1 while Mahogany props up the betting at 18/1.

Paddy Power are also betting on what will be the first Trump-ism uttered by the tycoon during his speech.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, ‘Make America Great Again’ is the favourite (2/1), while ‘Fake News’ (11/1), ‘Vladimir Putin’ (12/1)), and ‘Brexit’ (16/1) are also solid contenders.

There are also a host of wildcard options included in the betting, such as ‘I think, therefore I am’ (33/1), ‘I have a dream’ (40/1), ‘You’re fired!’ (50/1), and ‘Nigel Farage’ (40/1).

And Farage is also prominent in the market for which celebrities will be in attendance. The UKIP leader is a short price to be at the inauguration (2/1).

Noted supporter Kanye West (3/1), madcap wrestler Hulk Hogan (3/1) and Dennis Rodman (10/3) are also in contention-- as well as loud-mouth pal Piers Morgan (12/1).

However, the party could be short-lived-- with the bookie offering odds of 4/1 that Trump is impeached within six months of his presidency.

Féilim Mac An Iomaire, a spokesperson for Paddy Power, said: “Donald Trump’s election led to our biggest political payout in our history and we very much doubt that he’s done with upsetting the odds just yet. His inauguration will be watched all around the world and we make it 6/1 for the State’s to follow up its first ever black President with its first ever deep saffron Commander and Chief.”

Trump’s Inauguration Skin Colour

6/1         Tiger’s Eye
6/1         Deep Saffron
7/1         Mango Tango
8/1         Cinnamon
8/1         Heat Wave
8/1         Cool Copper
8/1         Vivid Tangelo
9/1         Carrot
10/1       Persimmon
10/1       Pumpkin
12/1       Burnt Orange
18/1       Mahogany

What Phrase Will Trump Use First?

2/1         Make America Great Again
7/2         Islamic Terrorism
11/2       Russia
9/1         Twitter
9/1         Nuclear Weapons
11/1       Fake News
12/1       Mexican Wall
12/1       Vladimir Putin
14/1       North Korea
16/1       Brexit
33/1       I think, therefore I am
40/1       I have a dream
40/1       Nigel Farage
50/1      You’re fired!
500/1    Golden Shower

Who Will Be In Attendance?

3/1         Kanye West
3/1         Hulk Hogan
10/3       Dennis Rodman
10/3       Mike Tyson
6/1         Jon Voight
12/1       Piers Morgan
16/1       Arnold Schwarzenegger
33/1       Meryl Streep
40/1       Kim Kardashian
50/1       Bernie Sanders
66/1       Lady Gaga
100/1     Bruce Springsteen
200/1     Bono

Golden couple specials

11/2       Trump to wear a golden tie
9/1         Melania to wear a golden dress

Presidential Betting Specials

4/1         Trump to be impeached in first six months of Presidency
14/1       To have an actual golden shower installed in the White House
16/1       To be dumped by Melania in 2017
500/1     To paint the entire White House gold

Trump’s First State Visit

EVS       Russia
4/1         Canada
4/1         Mexico
5/1         Israel
5/1         China
5/1         England
Let's hope people are still laughing about Trump by summertime. The alternative is chilling.


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Can Anything Prevent The Trump Take-Over Tomorrow?

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This is what Trump has done to the Lincoln Memorial (the jumbo-tron is not photoshopped)

Tomorrow, America will see the inauguration of a deranged and narcissistic fascist with shady ties to brutal Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. According to a CBS poll released Wednesday, Trump's approval rating is just 32%. In contrast, other recent presidents of both parties have had sky-high transition approval ratings. George H.W. Bush's was 82%, Bill Clinton's was 81%, Obama's was 80% and even George W. Bush's, which wasn't nearly as high (72%), was still way over double Trump's. And yet... barely over a third of the Democratic congressmembers are boycotting the horror tomorrow. And not a single senator is joining them. (At last count, there were 70-something congressmembers who have announced they're staying away from the Day of Shame events.)

The 3 top leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, co-chairs Keith Ellison and Raul Grijalva and first Vice-Chairman, Mark Pocan, are staying away. Grijalva explained why he's going to be in Tucson Friday. Rather than participate in the inauguration," he explained, "I will be joining with members of my district to reaffirm and renew this democracy and the people that are part of it. My decision to skip the inauguration is not motivated by disrespect for the office of the president, or by disrespect for the government. It is an individual act of defiance at the disrespect shown to the millions of Americans by this incoming administration."
Donald Trump wants to deport millions of people who call this country home, create a national registry for Muslims and repeal the Affordable Care Act. Skipping his inauguration is a necessary step in the fight to reject his harmful policies and stand with those who will be most at risk during his presidency.

The majority of voters rejected Trump-- they deserve respect. The 20 million Americans threatened by the repeal of the Affordable Care Act with no replacement-- they deserve respect. And the millions of voters who did not participate in the election because they blame both parties-- they deserve respect, too.

That's why during the inauguration I will be at home in Arizona meeting with seniors, the immigrant community, health care providers, and folks that care about the environment and climate change. I will join with the people of Tucson to demand respect from the Trump administration.

Now is the time for us to come together to defend and protect the future of all Americans.

David Cicilline is a vice chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. He's decided that he should go top the Trump Inauguration and he explained why-- after hearing from lots of angry Rhode Islanders-- on his Facebook page yesterday. He points out that he "worked hard to prevent Donald Trump from becoming our 45th President. When Trump's affinity for Vladimir Putin came into focus last summer, I asked President Obama to cut off his access to classified intel. I denounced his deplorable comments on women and people with disabilities, and his attack on Latinos as the hate speech that it was. And I condemned his selection of Mike Pence, a running mate with an unambiguously anti-LGBT record. Since his election, I have refused to give a single inch to the President-elect. I led more than 160 of my colleagues demanding that he rescind his appointment of Steve Bannon as White House chief strategist. I introduced new legislation that requires him to release his tax returns so we finally know what he's hiding. And just this past weekend I condemned him for his outrageous comments about John Lewis, an icon of the civil rights movement and a man who I am proud to call my friend."



And yet, Cicilline is still going tomorrow. Why? This is what he says:
I understand the frustration that people are feeling over the results of this election, and I share it. Some of my colleagues have decided the most powerful way to express their opposition to the incoming administration and the policies of the new President is to boycott the inauguration. I have deep respect for their decision and recognize that this is one way to express strong opposition. Others, like me, think it's an equally powerful message to attend the inauguration to make it clear that we're in this fight from the very first minute he takes office and for the next four years.

Tens of thousands of Americans and many Rhode Islanders are taking time out of their lives to travel to Washington D.C. to protest the incoming Administration on Inauguration Day, and I will be there in solidarity and in opposition to the policies and the rhetoric of Donald Trump. And to carry on that message, on Saturday, I will join the Women's March on Washington to oppose Trump’s agenda and to commit to fight for our shared values.

Serving our state is the honor of my life. It's a responsibility that I never take lightly. And as your Representative, I promise that I will not surrender the field to Donald Trump for a single moment. He may be our 45th President, but I will be there to make sure your voice is heard loud and clear in Washington.
I take him at his word. He's a good member of Congress; better than most. The DWT strategy-- articulated by Noah: "Disdain, Derision and Zero Tolerance"-- isn't the same as Cicilline's but that doesn't mean I don't respect his decision and his service. This is a symbolic effort. I believe in it.

Alan Lowenthal, a progressive policy wonk who represents Long Beach, California had been reported by the L.A. Times to be going. He told me he never spoke with the Times about it and that he's been undecided and trying to figure out the best thing to do after Trump's deranged attacks on John Lewis. He told me this morning that "After much soul searching, and two days of listening to my constituents, I felt I could not attend the inauguration." In a message to those constituents he said that "On inauguration day, our nation invests the President-elect with executive power. We do not anoint the President with respect.  Respect must be earned. Donald Trump, in his attacks on Rep. Lewis, and minorities, and women, and the disabled, has yet done little to earn my respect. For that reason, and in solidarity with those he has attacked, I have decided not to attend the inauguration. I sincerely hope that over the next four years President Trump will work hard to earn the respect of all Americans, not just those who voted for him. The American people deserve it and the office of the President requires it."

Meanwhile, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the most truly disgusting and unworthy member of Congress on either side of the aisle-- if Trump was smart, he'd ban her from his inauguration-- decided to send out an e-mail implying she was resisting Trump. She asked her supporters to send her money because Friday is the inauguration. What she didn't say, of course, is that she's one of the corrupt deplorables who can barely wait to mingle with the lobbyists and fellow insiders at the inauguration. She'll be there... in all her contemptible shame and lack of dignity.

Blue America started this page when only a tiny handful of members were supporting Luis Gutierrez's call for a boycott. We've raised nearly $12,000 in 4 days for members to encourage this kind of resistance. But, in the end, what we're looking for is men and women in Congress willing to hold the line on bad policies and bad nominees. Bernie says he's going to the inauguration. So are Elizabeth Warren and Al Franken. Did you hear their questioning of Trump's horrible nominee for Health and Human Services Secretary Wednesday? That's more important. The votes from Democrats on Tom Price's putrid  nomination will mean a lot more-- in every way-- than whether or not they decide to go to the Trumpanzee inauguration. But if you want to show solidarity with the members who aren't going... here's the place (just tap that thermometer):

Goal Thermometer

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Virtually Everything Out Of Trump's Mouth Is Fake News

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Like I've been saying for months, we'll never really know-- not definitively-- the extent of Russia's interference in the 2016 election. It's a given-- at least for me that none of the interested parties-- not the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, not the FSB and certainly not Putin, Wasserman Schultz or Trumpanzee, has any kind of an operative relationship with Truth.

But yesterday McClathchy's Washington Bureau reported that 6 American law enforcement agencies are still trying to get to the bottom of the collaboration between the Trump campaign and the Russian dictator to make sure Trump won the presidency. The FBI, the CIA, the National Security Agency, the Justice Department, the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and representatives of the director of national intelligence are all following up leads about Putin injecting money into Trump's campaign.
Investigators are examining how money may have moved from the Kremlin to covertly help Trump win, the two sources said. One of the allegations involves whether a system for routinely paying thousands of Russian-American pensioners may have been used to pay some email hackers in the United States or to supply money to intermediaries who would then pay the hackers, the two sources said.


The informal, inter-agency working group began to explore possible Russian interference last spring, long before the FBI received information from a former British spy hired to develop politically damaging and unverified research about Trump, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the inquiry.

On Jan. 6, the director of national intelligence released a declassified report that concluded Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered an influence campaign to “undermine faith in the U.S. democratic process,” damage Hillary Clinton’s election prospects and bolster Trump’s. The campaign included the hacking of top Democrats’ emails and fake news distributed by Russian sources.

The president-elect, who will be inaugurated Friday, has said he believes Russia was involved with the hacking, and he has called allegations that he or his associates were involved a “political witch hunt” and a “complete and total fabrication.”

Trump has yet to say whether FBI Director James Comey will be retained. The rest of Trump’s newly appointed intelligence and law enforcement chiefs will inherit the investigation, whose outcome could create national and international fallout.


 ...U.S. intelligence agencies not only have been unanimous in blaming Russia for the hacking of Democrats’ computers but also have concluded that the leaking and dissemination of thousands of emails of top Democrats, some of which caused headaches for the Clinton campaign, were done to help Trump win.

Trump and Republican members of Congress have said they believe Russia meddled in the U.S. election but that those actions didn’t change the outcome. However, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, a former chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press that she believes that Russia’s tactics did alter the election result.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has opened its own investigation into Russia’s involvement in the campaign. That panel will have subpoena power.

...The BBC reported last week that the joint inquiry was launched when the CIA learned last spring, through a Baltic ally, of a recording indicating the Russian government was planning to funnel funds aimed at influencing the U.S. election.

Another source of information was the former longtime British intelligence agent, Christopher Steele, who was hired to gather opposition research about Trump for a Republican client and later a Democrat. Early last summer, Steele became alarmed about information he was receiving from a network of Russian sources describing a web of Trump’s business relationships with wealthy Russians and alleged political ties to the Kremlin, according to two people who know him. These sources also declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Steele’s reports also alleged that Russian consulates in New York, Washington and Miami were used to deliver “tens of thousands of dollars” to Kremlin-hired operatives using fictitious names as if they were legitimate Russian-American pensioners. That “ruse” was designed to give Russia “plausible deniability,” Steele’s reports suggested. However, Russia does not operate a consulate in Miami.

Steele, who had worked previously with the FBI and was well regarded, fed the bureau information in July and September suggesting collusion between Trump associates and Moscow in the hacking of Democratic computers, they said. Eventually, he met in Italy with an FBI official to share more information alleging that a top Trump campaign official had known about the hacking as early as last June, the sources said. About a month after the election, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona gave FBI Director Comey a copy of a 35-page compilation of Steele’s reports.
Filling the B Street Band slot at the inauguration? -photo by Al Quaglieri


Trump seems to follow Putin's line on just about everything-- from NATO and the EU to... well, Trump has said whether or not he agrees with Putin that Moscow's golden shower prostitutes are the best in the world. But the two of them-- both absolute and amoral masters of fake news-- agree that Steele's dossier is fake news. In fact, "fake news" is now one of Trumpanzee's favorite phrases and he uses it routinely in his campaign to discredit, bully and neutralize the press.



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Why So Many Celebrities? They Are the Masks that Humanize Corporations

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The Coca-Cola organization without the smiling celebrity mask (source)

by Gaius Publius

On this side of the Atlantic, George Monbiot is an underappreciated writer. The piece I'm about to quote makes just two main points, but they are stunning. The subject under consideration: Why is the modern world awash in celebrities, from actors who've "done something" to people like the Kardashians, who appear to have done nothing at all but "be famous."

We've even just elected our second celebrity president, a man known more as a "brand" than as person, the first being Reagan. Why did we do that?

Why are there so many of celebrities, and what do they really do? Is it something about the media, or the 20th century nationalization of publicity, that creates these people — for example, via the earlier movie fan magazines and now television and the Internet? Or is media not the cause? Is the presence of all these celebrities in our media a result of something else, of something more hidden from us?

Monbiot thinks he has the answer to the question "why so many celebrities?" and I think he's right. His two main points:

▪ Corporations are lifeless predatory monsters. They need human faces to make them look like our friends. This is like putting a face-like mask on a robot before it asks you out to dinner ... to eat you. Celebrities act as their masks and supply those human faces.

▪ At the same time that celebrities humanize the corporations that use them, they themselves become less human, productized, marketed (by themselves and others) as things — masks or "brands" — good mainly for their utility to the corporate world that employs them.

As Monbiot puts it in his piece: "Celebrity is not harmless fun – it’s the lieutenant of exploitation." The essay is called "Imaginary Friends". Here are two excepts, each making one of the two points above.

Celebrities As Human Masks for Inhuman Products and Entities

About the first point, Monbiot writes (my emphasis):
The rise of celebrity culture did not happen by itself. It has long been cultivated by advertisers, marketers and the media. And it has a function. The more distant and impersonal corporations become, the more they rely on other people’s faces to connect them to their customers.

Corporation means body; capital means head. But corporate capital has neither head nor body. It is hard for people to attach themselves to a homogenised franchise, owned by a hedge fund whose corporate identity consists of a filing cabinet in Panama City. So the machine needs a mask. It must wear the face of someone we see as often as we see our next-door neighbours. It is pointless to ask what Kim Kardashian does to earn her living; her role is to exist in our minds. By playing our virtual neighbour, she induces a click of recognition on behalf of whatever grey monolith sits behind her this week.

An obsession with celebrity does not lie quietly beside the other things we value; it takes their place. A study published in the journal Cyberpsychology reveals that an extraordinary shift appears to have taken place between 1997 and 2007. In 1997, the dominant values (as judged by an adult audience) expressed by the shows most popular among 9-11 year olds were community feeling, followed by benevolence. Fame came 15th out of the 16 values tested. By 2007, when shows like Hannah Montana prevailed, fame came first, followed by achievement, image, popularity and financial success. Community feeling had fallen to 11th; benevolence to 12th.
Which leads to two sub-points:
A paper in the International Journal of Cultural Studies found that, among the people it surveyed, those who follow celebrity gossip most closely are three times less likely than people interested in other forms of news to be involved in local organisations, and half as likely to volunteer. Virtual neighbours replace real ones.

The blander and more homogenised the product, the more distinctive the mask it needs to wear. This is why Iggy Pop is used to promote motor insurance and Benicio del Toro is used to sell Heineken. The role of such people is to suggest that there something more exciting behind the logo than office blocks and spreadsheets. They transfer their edginess to the company they represent: as soon they take the cheque that buys their identity, they become as processed and meaningless as the item they are promoting.
An American example — the nameless person cast as "the most interesting man in the world" is needed to put a face to a product few can recall by name, especially now they've retired the old, nameless "most interesting man" and hired a nameless younger replacement.

You can even apply the idea to something much less bland and far more objectionable, like the Republican Party. You need a celebrity as outlandish as Trump to market that product, to take your eyes off what's really underneath. None of the other members of their vaunted "deep bench" could have done a tenth of what Trump accomplished as an obscuring mask for the vile set of policies known as "Republicanism."

Trump was a good mask because the party's "customers" saw Trump and not the party or its goals. With any of the others as the party's virtual face, most people would see right through them to the Republicanism beneath. As masks they'd be worthless, transparent, obscuring nothing.

Celebrities Become Products

Once they become masks for others, celebrities become products themselves. While they're busy humanizing corporations, corporations are busy productizing celebrities. Monbiot:
The celebrities you see most often are the most lucrative products, extruded through a willing media by a marketing industry whose power no one seeks to check. This is why actors and models now receive such disproportionate attention, capturing much of the space once occupied by people with their own ideas. Their expertise lies in channelling other people’s visions. ...

You don’t have to read or watch many interviews to see that the principal qualities now sought in a celebrity are vapidity, vacuity and physical beauty. They can be used as a blank screen onto which anything can be projected. Those who have least to say are granted the greatest number of platforms on which to say it....

[But as] soon as celebrities forget their allotted role, the hounds of hell are let loose upon them. Lily Allen was the media’s darling when she was advertising John Lewis’s. Gary Lineker couldn’t put a foot wrong when he stuck to selling junk food to children. But when they expressed sympathy for refugees, they were torn to shreds. When you take the corporate shilling, you are supposed to stop thinking for yourself.
When celebrities take corporate money, in other words, masking and humanizing the product or operation, they become products as well, marketable only to the extent that they don't intrude an identity of their own onto the scripted (painted-on) identity the "mask" is intended to project.

Corporations As "Imaginary Friends" 

As to Monbiot's title, "Imaginary Friends" — for Monbiot the friends are the celebrities, and they are indeed imaginary. Kim Kardashian could be as imaginary as the Marlboro Man, a person who never existed, and none of us would know it. Celebrities are real to us in our minds alone, and we do imagine they are our friends.

But considering their function — to put a human face on the inhuman machinery of exploitation — it's easy to see that our actual "imaginary friends" are really the corporations themselves, whom we are taught to imagine as human, likable, even friendly, but who in fact would kill us the minute the cost-benefit analysis went their way but not ours. Is McDonald's your friend? Is WalMart?

How about Coke, the company that makes the happy fizzy drink? The Coca-Cola company is a nonhuman, profit-seeking corporation that is guilty of murder to protect its profits. Only its paid, smiling-mask faces want to "teach the world to sing."

The mask hides the psychopath beneath. And that's why we have celebrities, to keep us from noticing all that we're surrounded by.

GP
 

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Can The Senate Democrats Derail Tom Price?

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How do Ryan and the congressional Republicans get away with all the twisted lies and deceptions about healthcare? Watch the Jimmy Kimmel video up top-- and remember, that's in Los Angeles! People are morons? I'm afraid so. Otherwise Friday would be a day we'd either be pissed off that another corporate Democrat was being inaugurated or we'd be rejoicing that Debbie Wasserman Schultz failed and we'd be inaugurating the first president dedicated to working families since FDR.

Did you watch the Price Senate hearings yesterday? How foolish and wasteful! Price said, with a straight face that he doesn't want to replace a "Democrat healthcare system with a Republican system. Instead he says he wants to replace "Democrat healthcare with American healthcare." No one called him an asshole, But, as Greg Sargent pointed out in his Washington Post column yesterday, Trump is already backtracking on his pledge that "everybody" will be covered. Sargent, unlike most mainstream journalists, called all the gobbledygook and misdirection what it is: a scam. "In recent days," he wrote, "Donald Trump and his advisers have gone to tremendous, extraordinary, terrific lengths to obscure a basic aspect of the replacement for the Affordable Care Act that he and congressional Republicans are likely to embrace after repeal: It will cover far fewer people."
Trump and his advisers have been saying that no one who currently has coverage under Obamacare will lose it under the GOP replacement. Trump himself recently said that under his replacement, “everybody” will have insurance, adding that “there was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us.” Top transition adviser Kellyanne Conway recently made similarly nice-sounding noises.

But today, Trump seemed to backtrack on this promise in interviews with Fox News and Axios. While he reiterated that people without money will get coverage, he clarified that he’s considering a mechanism to do this: Medicaid block grants. “We’ll probably have block grants of Medicaid back into the states,” Trump told Fox.

Progressives tend to oppose Medicaid block grants because they are all but certain to get cut, and because states would restrict eligibility requirements. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently put it, they “would likely eliminate the guarantee that everyone who’s eligible and applies for its benefits would receive them.”

Thus, this idea-- which seems likely to be at the center of the Trump/GOP replacement plan-- would dilute the guarantee of coverage that Obamacare is striving to make universal. The ACA does this through a combination of expanded Medicaid for everyone who is eligible (in states that participate) and subsidies that are doled out according to means to cap the percentage of income that other people pay for coverage. The GOP replacement would come up with a new subsidy scheme, perhaps tied to age but not income, but there’s no indication yet that it would accomplish that cap. That, combined with the likely Medicaid cuts, would add up to a scrapped guarantee.

Thus, the question of what the Trump/GOP replacement will actually look like turns on the question of what really counts as everybody having insurance. If the Republican plan does not strive for this type of guarantee but does try to make insurance more affordable, Republicans might still say this constitutes giving people access to insurance (if they’re willing to pay for it).

Today, Democrats have a chance to pin down Price on this. Harold Pollack, a health policy expert at the University of Chicago, suggests questions designed to clarify not just whether Trump envisions a replacement that covers “everybody,” but what this actually means:
“Should every American who has an income below the federal poverty line be guaranteed access to Medicaid? Should every other American be entitled to health insurance with out-of-pocket and premium costs limited to an affordable, capped fraction of their income?”
Then there’s also the question of what constitutes acceptable coverage. The ACA has basic regulatory standards that Republicans are going to want to repeal. That, too, is an area on which Price should be questioned.

“The real question is what counts as insurance,” Nicholas Bagley, a University of Michigan law professor who has written extensively on health reform, says. “Does Price support a replacement that would allow insurers to exclude mental-health services? Preventive services? What about annual or lifetime coverage limits? Or $10,000 deductibles?”

Now, for various reasons, Republicans just don’t believe health reform should guarantee coverage in the manner that the ACA does. And that’s fine-- that’s their philosophical view. But the point is that Trump and his advisers are trying to obscure this. Trump does not want to be the guy who kicked millions off insurance. But it appears congressional Republicans philosophically cannot support anything that does not do this.  This basic problem cannot be spun away forever. An actual comparison between the ACA and the GOP replacement cannot be dodged in perpetuity. Hopefully, today will begin to supply some clarity.
PolitiFact found that Schumer was being truthful when he said that "Trump campaigned on not cutting Medicare and Social Security, but his nominee for the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, 'made his career on cutting Medicare and Medicaid.'" Price, wrote PolitiFact's Linda Qiu, "has introduced a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare every legislative session since 2009. Price’s Empowering Patients First Act instead provides tax credits to help pay for private insurance plans and expands health savings accounts. The Price plan also allows for people to opt out of Medicare and Medicaid (and other government-run health programs) and choose the tax credits to purchase private plans instead. It folds in his previous advocacy of private contracting between Medicare beneficiaries and doctors. Beyond his own proposals, Price supported Paul Ryan’s 2011 budget plan, which would have eventually moved Medicare toward private insurance by giving people under 55 voucher-like tax credits to purchase plans. This is also called premium support. When he became chairman of the House budget committee, Price was the primary author of a budget for fiscal year 2016  that included $900 billion in spending reductions to Medicaid (through block granting) and $148 billion to Medicare (by leaving the Obama administration’s cost-saving measures intact), according to the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Price’s budget for fiscal year 2017 similarly sought: $1 trillion from Medicaid and $449 billion from Medicare. After Trump’s election, Price expressed optimism that lawmakers could overhaul Medicare in 2017."
The Center for Medicare Advocacy, a nonpartisan health care advocacy group, typically doesn’t weigh in on cabinet appointments but opposes Price’s nomination precisely because of his position on Medicare, said David Lipschutz, the group’s senior policy attorney.

"The policies he has advocated would significantly cut and alter Medicare," Lipschutz told us, listing Price’s support for a premium support model, opposition to allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices and advocating for private contracting between Medicare beneficiaries with physicians with Medicare footing the bill.

Gail Wilensky, the former director at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid under President George H.W. Bush, called Price’s comment on Medicare as government intrusion a "gross exaggeration."

But Wilensky preferred to characterize Price as a supporter of Medicare reform. She added that like Price, she supports premium support as a model for Medicare reform, as do prominent Democrats Alice Rivlin, a health care policy expert who served under President Bill Clinton, and Bob Reischauer, a fellow at the left-leaning Urban Institute.

Our ruling

Schumer said, "Donald Trump said when he campaigned he wouldn't cut Medicare and Social Security" but his nominee for the Secretary of Health and Human Services "made his career on cutting Medicare and Medicaid."

Price, Trump’s HHS pick, has supported reducing the government’s role in Medicare and block granting Medicaid, which would amount to spending reductions to both programs. While it’s clear these proposals would reduce federal spending on the health safety nets, experts say it’s not the same thing as gutting the programs entirely.

Trump did pledge to leave Medicare and Social Security alone, and Price’s positions seem at odds with that. (It’s worth noting that Social Security isn’t administered by HHS).

We rate Schumer’s claim Mostly True.
Just as he started his confirmation hearing, the National Nurses United urged the Senate to reject Price as head of Health and Human Services. NNU Co-President Jean Ross, a registered nurse, pointed out that Price has also taken public positions that directly conflict with pledges made by Trump. She said that Price is against Trump's stated goals that include "a system that would assure healthcare coverage for everyone, lower healthcare premiums, deductibles and co-pays, high quality, a process to negotiate the high costs of prescription drugs, and has repeatedly opposed cuts to Medicare and Medicaid."
"There is only one plan that would achieve all of those goals, improving and expanding Medicare to cover all Americans," said Ross. "Medicare for all would mean universal, guaranteed access to care for all, guaranteed patient choice of provider, lower costs to families, strengthening Medicare through an expanded pool of healthier people, and the ability of the federal government to negotiate and demand fairer prices from the drug companies," Ross noted.

"That’s the health care plan President-elect Trump should support, and we should have an HHS Secretary who will protect the health and safety of Americans, not shred it," Ross said.

By contrast, Price supports the push by House Speaker Paul Ryan to privatize Medicare, a major cut in access and cost for seniors and the disabled and favors cuts to Medicaid by repealing the ACA expansion and replacing it with reduced block grants to states to make further cuts.

Price wants to repeal curbs on insurance abuses set by the ACA, notably the ban on pre-existing conditions exclusion, lifetime and annual payment limits.

The proposals by Price to replace subsidies for low income families to buy coverage with tax credits or health savings accounts, without any limits on industry price gouging, "would lead to additional disaster for millions of Americans already priced out of access to care, even if they have insurance," said Ross. "The last thing we need is a full return to a cutthroat healthcare system totally based on ability to pay."

..."As nurses know from the patients we care for every day, without health, there is no security. We cannot risk the very real consequences of Rep. Price’s reckless disregard for the health of our patients and our nation."

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Voter Registration, The Democrats' Sleeping Giant

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-by Alice Marshall

In 1980 The AFL-CIO's Committee On Political Education hired me to run a voter education project in Virginia's 4th Congressional District. I made my headquarters in Franklin, Virginia, a paper mill town 40 miles west of Norfolk Virginia. My job was to contact union members who were not registered to vote and persuade them to register as well as contact members who were registered to vote and persuade them to vote for the candidates the union had endorsed.

I was given two computer print-outs of union members, one of union members who were registered to vote and a second, and far larger list, of members who were not registered to vote. Again, my job was to persuade unregistered members to register to vote, and persuade both groups to vote for the union endorsed candidates. So I went about contacting members at the factory gate, by phone, and by mail. In Franklin I went to each shift change at the paper mill, 6 AM, 3 PM, and 11 PM, and distributed fliers urging workers to register and giving the times and places that they could register. I made sure that everyone knew that the registrar kept evening hours on Wednesday evenings. In those days there was no mail-in registration, that was put in by Bill Clinton. So if you could not get to the registrar during regular office hours, there was only one evening you could go to register. Wednesday is prayer night in the South, every church, black and white, has their prayer meetings, choir rehearsal, bible study, and so on, on Wednesday evenings. So by offering extended hours only on Wednesday evenings, the local establishment could effectively disenfranchise workers. Unless, of course, someone like me came to town and asked every worker to register to vote.

The local registrar told me that 1980 had seen the largest increase of voters of any election in her career. In 1976 Franklin had gone for Gerald Ford. In 1980 Franklin voted for Jimmy Carter. I suspect that it was one of the only jurisdictions in the country that flipped from Republican to Democratic in 1980. That experience taught me the power of voter registration. I don't think we could have saved the country from Reagan merely by voter registration. But there is no doubt that Democrats have lost many elections by failing to incorporate voter registration into their campaign strategy.

I am told that it isn't worth the effort to mobilize marginal voters, that it is too expensive. But Republicans don't think so. Republicans spend millions of dollars on voter suppression. For some reason Democrats have never drawn the obvious conclusion, that they can win elections by pushing back against voter suppression. Somehow Democrats think they can win elections even when much of their base stays home.

When I became Chair of the Voter Registration for the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, I knew that I could dramatically increase the Democratic vote merely by targeted voter registration efforts. By 1998 Bill Clinton had changed the law so that every state had mail-in voter registration. This meant that it was no longer necessary to create satellite registration sites, it was no longer necessary to persuade voters to go to the registrar's office. Now all you had to do is to get boxes of voter registration applications from the registrar's office, print up a flier asking people to register to vote, and distribute them. And so, this is precisely what I set about to do. Carefully examining precinct returns to identify those areas with Democratic vote of 60% or better, I identified low rent garden apartments all over Fairfax County for my campaign.

At first I went out by myself; no one on the committee understood what I was doing. But after I was able to report that indeed, voter registration applications were trickling into the registrar's office, committee members began to volunteer. After a few months I had a regular group who could be depended upon to go out, even in the hottest weather, and distribute fliers and forms in every low rent garden apartment complex in the county.

It was difficult to persevere. I remember a very hot Saturday in July distributing forms in the Vista Gardens apartment complex. My volunteers distributed forms to each of the 1200 apartments. Of these, only 11 were mailed in, a return of less than 1%. Furthermore there is an excellent chance that 3 of these new voters were Republicans. Virginia does not register by party, so this is only a guess. But if the guess is correct we registered a net gain of 5 Democratic votes. However, when you consider that Jack Kennedy won the 1960 election by an average of less than one vote per precinct, you realize that 5 new voters per precinct is a significant gain. Moreover, there were several large apartment complexes in that precinct and we worked all of them. And yes, each weekend saw a return of less than 1%. But altogether we added something like 60 new voters in that precinct that year, and almost certainly at least 50 of them Democrats, for a net gain of 40 votes. 40 additional Democratic votes in a single precinct is a major gain. Furthermore, all the voter registration activity in that precinct had the effect of mobilizing those people who were already registered to vote. The Democratic vote in that precinct increased by an additional 10 points, one of our best gains. Only some precincts offer the opportunity for this sort of gain. But it breaks my heart that local Democratic committees are walking away from these opportunities.

In his great documentary, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Greg Palast observes that before they take away your job, your pension, your house, first they must take away your vote. If progressives are to protect jobs, collective bargaining, pensions, and the rest, first progressives must defend voting rights. If you are not doing voter registration and voter protection, can you really say you are a progressive?



The cumulative impact of my voter registration work in Fairfax over successive years helped shift the entire county. In 1999 Democrats won a State Senate race, school board race, and Board of Supervisor's race based on the increase of the Democratic margin in Democratic precincts. There can be no doubt that we could shift the whole country with such efforts.

This post is addressed to members of local party committees, precinct captains. Candidates and campaign managers will not understand this. Candidates and campaign managers are interested in winning their election. They are focused only on the campaign season at hand. They are not interested in cultivating the Democratic vote in a single precinct over time.

Most of the Democratic politicians in Fairfax County did not understand or support my work. Gerry Connolly was one of the few who understood my work and supported it. I know that he is not popular with progressives. But there are reasons that he remains popular with Democratic activists in his district.

If you live in Virginia, New Jersey, Kentucky, or any state which has elections this year, I encourage you to start planning a voter registration effort now. People will tell you that you will not get a good return in an off-year election. Yet  it is precisely in low turnout years that voter registration can play a crucial role in victory. It is true that you will not get anything like the response you would get in a presidential year. But in a low turnout election, 40 additional votes in a Democratic precinct is the difference between winning and losing. For more information about voter registration, voter protection, and pushing back against voter suppression read my book: The Precinct Captain's Guide To Political Victory.

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You Think It Was All Putin? Meet Robert Mercer-- The Billionaire Behind Trump's Ratty Curtain

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Strange and elusive Long Island hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer was the "thread between a seemingly random cast of actors" who turned Trump's foundering campaign around-- Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, David Bossie and Cambridge Analytica. Mercer and his equally contemptible daughter, Rebekah, had been eyeing Señor Trumpanzee ever since their first choice, right-wing fanatic Ted Cruz, dropped out of the primaries. Cruz and Trump don't have much in common but the Mercer's felt they could easily mold Trump into what they wanted by surrounding him with their own people and taking over the campaign. Mercer invested $15.5 million in Trump's campaign, making him Trumpanzee's single largest donor.
In 2015, Mercer had single-handedly catapulted Cruz to the front of the Republican field, throwing more than $13 million into a SuperPAC he created for the now failed candidate. But with the Trump campaign faltering and struggling for support, there's a second chance for the Mercers to make a big bet. The Trump campaign is well aware of this. In fact sources within Mercer's SuperPAC would later tell Bloomberg News that shortly after Cruz drops out of the race, Ivanka Trump and her wealthy developer husband, Jared Kushner, approached the Mercers asking if they'd be willing to shift their support behind Trump. The answer is an eventual but resounding yes.

In the months leading up to Trump's presidential win, the Mercers would prove a formidable force, Beginning after the disastrous Republican convention in July, they would furnish the Trump campaign with millions of dollars and new leadership. They would also furnish it with something more: a vast network of non-profits, strategists, media companies, research institutes, and SuperPACs that they themselves funded and largely controlled.

...The Mercers' political infrastructure is so entrenched that Rebekah Mercer herself sits on the 16-person executive committee of Trump's transition team. Mercer's foray into the White House may seem to have been born partly out of luck especially with Trump instead of Cruz as his stalking horse, but his rise to power was systematic and it was years in the making. The web of connections Mercer's built over the last decade is vast and complex. It includes efforts to dismantle tax law and weaken the IRS. It's about funding quack scientists and conspiracy theorists who blame the government for, among other things, for playing role in the San Bernardino massacre. Or of colluding with the United Nations and using Climate Change as an excuse to implement environmental laws meant to depopulate America's Midwest.

...Casino capitalism-- [with a healthy dose of tax fraud, to the tune of billions of dollars]-- has given people like Robert and Rebekah Mercer riches and power beyond most peoples' imagination. But the role of activist billionaires in American politics isn't new; it's just become stronger as wealth is concentrated in fewer hands. With the top 1% of Americans today holding onto 40% of the country's wealth and with much of that increase taking place in the finance and energy sectors of the economy, the rise of people like Robert Mercer and the Koch brothers reflects how billionaires have gradually taken more direct control over politicians and the state.

...In the end, there are no workers or little guys on the Trump team, only the allies of rainmakers Robert and Rebekah Mercer, the billionaires whose political hedge pushed Donald Trump into the White House.

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Is it really necessary to label "The Borowitz Report" as "satire"?

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What's wrong with this picture?

by Ken

Let me confess that I'm the one who appended the January 15 "Borowitz Report" as an update to Part 11 of Noah's herculean 2016 In Review America Off The Rails series: "Comrade Trump: Inauguration Entertainment Update!."

It seemed an obvious call. No sooner had we put up Noah's update to his earlier post on the extraordinary difficulty the Trumpinistas have been having getting entertainers to perform at their guy's inauguration (Part 3, "The Trumpf Inauguration Committee Finds The Perfect Inauguration Entertainment At Last!"), and also getting the folks who had signed on to keep from weaseling out, than here comes Andy B with this wicked post:



Luckily, I can report that after the fact Noah found the addition of that Borowitz Report altogether appropriate. So that's not why I bring it up. I bring it up because what you see immediately above is not the way I originally presented it. No, the way I originally presented it is the way newyorker.com presented it, which was more like what you see atop this post. (For reasons I'll explain in a moment, it's not exactly what you see atop this post, which is merely a re-creation.)

Sometime after posting, I found myself looking at this again, and I found myself bothered again. No, "bothered" doesn't cover it. I was shocked and appalled, just as I had been when I'd first looked at this and noted that newyorker.com was now labeling The Borowitz Report as "SATIRE FROM THE BOROWITZ REPORT."

Really? Is it honestly necessary to explain that what Andy B produces is "satire"?

For that matter, does "satire" really define what it is? I'd never really thought about it. I guess have to acknowledge that satire sort of describes what a Borowitz Report is, but somehow putting a label on it seems to constrict it, to close it off. In truth, it seems to me that when you see something like that head, "Karaoke Machine Backs Out of Performing at Inauguration," you immediately know two things:

(1) Chances are pretty good that it's not literally true, because it seems pretty unlikely that a karaoke machine would be able to back out of performing at the inauguration.

(2) You just have to read it, because, well, it's bound to be fun and it expresses a larger truth.

I guess this is what satire does, being fun and expressing a larger-than-factual truth. Yet somehow slapping the label on seems to me to short-circuit the whole process of discovering, deciphering, and connecting. And, oh yes, smiling. Somehow when we start with that "SATIRE FROM" label, the necessity of smiling seems to diminish -- a chunk of the fun is taken out.

I might add that I don't know how long newyorker.com has been doing this -- you know, slapping that "SATIRE FROM" label on Borowitz Reports. I don't know because, as I've been realizing, I have been clicking through to a lot of Borowitz Reports lately -- since, oh, about November 3. Not because I don't think they'll be funny. On the contrary, what Andy B does maybe better than anybody I'm aware of is to find "funny" in news that wouldn't seem to have a lot of "funny" in it -- and not only funny but true.

True-to-reality, that is, not true-to-facts. Because Andy B always understands and respects the underlying seriousness of the subjects he targets. No, I think I've been looking away out of resistance to the very idea of finding anything about this post-November 3 world amusing. It's too horrifying.

Until that karaoke-machine-having-second-thoughts came along. I knew I could handle that, and I also knew that I wanted to read it right away. And I was right. Not even that heavy-handed "SATIRE FROM" label could spoil it. But not for want of trying.


POSTSCRIPT: I HAD TO DO SOMETHING

As I just noted, once I found myself looking again at the version atop this post, the longer I looked at it, the fidgetier it made me. Until finally I had to do something. I recalled that I had considered originally lopping off that "SATIRE FROM THE BOROWITZ REPORT" label. But I held back, I think out of some sense that it would be somehow misrepresenting the way the piece had been presented, which was pretty much the point of my presenting it with use of the screen shot. Now, looking at the thing more and more compulsively, and realizing that even without that slug, the piece would still be clearly presented as a Borowitz Report, I came around to the view that I should have lopped it off.

And finally, even though it was a post that already wasn't new, and might never be looked at again (though I always hope!), I had to do it. I reopened the thing in Photoshop Elements and lopped the slug off, then inserted the new version in the post. As soon as I verified that it looked OK, I deleted the original version, and I felt better. Of course, once the original version was deleted, it was gone, which is why, as noted above, I had to re-create it in order to present it for this post.

And I still feel better. My only regret is that I didn't have the sense to do it originally.
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The Sanders Conundrum

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Protesters camp out in Senator Chuck Schumer’s Capitol Hill Office, November 14, 2016 (source)

by Gaius Publius

co•nun•drum (kə-nŭnˈdrəm) n. A paradoxical, insoluble, or difficult problem; a dilemma: "the conundrum, thus far unanswered, of achieving full employment without inflation” (Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.)

I'm writing this to pose a question, not to offer an answer, at least not for now. Consider:

1. It's important to oppose Trump, especially now that buyer's remorse is setting in and Trump's voter base is freaking out about, among other things, Republican (non-)support for Social Security and Medicare. It's important for progressives to get involved in that discontent and help guide it.

2. Among progressives, Bernie Sanders is the perfect messenger and catalyst to speak to and for that discontent, that reaction and rebellion.

3. And yet, if the way he catalyzes, inflames, and channels that opposition also blesses the neo-liberal wing of the Democratic Party (who also want to cut Social Security and Medicare) as something better than they are — if Sanders helps paint them in false colors — is that really a win, either for Sanders or the nation?

Again, the last is a real question and not just a rhetorical one, since opposition to Trump must be effective or we're all in trouble.

The question is a conundrum, as defined above, and I don't think I'm ready to answer it. But I do think it the question must be asked, and asked now, before we get too far into the game of "Making Neo-Liberal Democrats Look Like What They're Not ... Again."

Because if this is the wrong game to play, the repainting neo-liberals game, Bernie Sanders of all people is exactly the wrong person to be playing it.

Here's TYT reporter Jordan Chariton making the case that Sanders is making a mistake. Note: I'm not making that case until I give more thought to the alternatives, but I do want you to notice that the question Chariton asks is a valid one.

Writing at Mediaite, Chariton says (my emphasis):
Bernie Sanders Has The Right Message—But The Wrong Strategy

As a progressive journalist who doesn’t hide the fact that I personally support Bernie Sanders, it’s bittersweet to come to this critical conclusion: the progressive icon has the right message, but the wrong strategy.

Sunday was a classic example. Sanders, alongside Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, brought out 8,000 people to a save Obamacare rally on a freezing cold Michigan day.

And trust me, they weren’t there for Schumer’s electrifying speech.

So, you might ask, where’s the problem? Of course, it’s a good thing to energize thousands of people to come out during an election year, much less a random, off-election year Sunday.

But the problem is who Sanders is allowing to piggyback off his powerful, consistent message. Schumer embodies everything that’s wrong, not only with the Democratic Party, but American politics in general. He’s a politician that, over the years, has invested more in his own personal perseverance of power than in helping the average, working class person he’s entrusted in to represent.
Schumer's history of vacuuming up Wall Street cash to consolidate personal power in the Democratic Party is well documented at DWT (more here). Chariton again:
[T]he Schumer’s of the world, whose votes on economic issues don’t depart much from Republicans, are able to fool many Americans into thinking they are the ones fighting the good fight for the average Joe—just by being on the same stage and grabbing the same headlines as Sanders.

Why should Sanders allow a Democrat like Schumer—who’s against the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall, who played a key role in getting derivates deregulated for the big banks, who takes oodles of cash from oil companies destroying our planet, who stayed silent while police illegally shot at and abused unarmed water protectors fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline—to stand next to him and con less politically-astute Americans into thinking he’s some type of progressive warrior?
Because it's really easy to see that this as a con on Schumer's part, isn't it? He's clearly using Sanders to "phoenix" himself and his fellow bought Democrats as somehow better now, newborn, using the fact that Sanders and they are on the same side of some fights, or at least, this fight. (If you don't believe that the Democratic Party as a whole are using Sanders this cynically, watch Democratic House and Senate votes during the Trump cabinet confirmations. If the votes go down as I think they will, I bet you'll conclude that the Party is the same as it always was, the same as it was last year when it was rejected by the voters as "not the solution we were looking for after all.")

And yet, how can Sanders, who clearly understands the danger Trump represents, reject such a partnership? Would you reject such a partnership, if you were Sanders, and risk being less effective by hitting the road alone?

A bit more from Chariton:
This does more than damage hearts and minds of progressives: it risks setting up the Democratic Party —which certainly looks like it will still be a bought-off, Republican-lite party in four years— as the protagonist in the 2020 thriller that seeks to take down the evil Republican boogeyman, President Trump.

And once victorious, America will be back where it’s been for the last eight years: improving on the surface, but structurally drowning as the majority live paycheck to paycheck while most of the money keeps funneling to Schumer’s donors.
There are two armies in the field against us, not just the one. Those who don't see that didn't support Sanders in the primary. And despite all the institutional thumbs on the electoral and media scales, millions upon millions of people supported Sanders in the primary — against a candidate, Hillary Clinton, whom they saw as representing all they rejected; and against policies, "Clintonism," that they saw as taking America even further down a deadly, destructive road. Those people, Sanders supporters, want to see both armies crushed, not just one; and they want to see real progressive policies rise from those dual graves.

Chariton asks, what good does it do in the end to defeat Trumpism, if as you do you position Clintonism as the natural alternative in the next election? As the protest group All of Us said in their petition when they staged demonstration in the office of Sen. Chuck Schumer (image above):
“Donald Trump won by channeling anti-establishment anger and worry about long-term economic decline, and pointing the blame at people of color and immigrants. He sold his supporters a racist lie, and gave them an outlet for their rage at a broken system. The only way to stop his disastrous policies now, and beat the Republicans in 2018 and 2020, is through a vision of our own that acknowledges that the system is broken and places the blame where it belongs—with Wall Street, the big corporations, and a political establishment that is beholden to them.

“Insisting that trickle-down economics and corporate friendly policies are working is what lost Hillary Clinton the presidency—and that’s why we can’t let Wall Street Democrats like Chuck Schumer lead the party any longer. Schumer, as one of the U.S. Senators who has received the most contributions from Wall Street, exemplifies the establishment that voters across the political spectrum have rejected.”
Yet, many would ask, as I'm sure Sanders does ask — how do you not go to war with Trump alongside anyone who will help you defeat him?

Does Sanders — do progressives — have a path against Trump that doesn't involve restoring one enemy while defeating the other? How do we turn anger at Trump into a win for progressives, instead of a win for the Clinton wing of the Party?

I'll leave you to ponder that. A conundrum.

GP
 

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Schumer Gives The Green Light For Senators To Boycott The Trumpy The Clown Inauguration. And...?

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When I first met James we were both in our twenties. Now we're both in our sixties. When I met him he was getting a doctorate in urban planning. Now he's married to one of my oldest friends from high school and is considered one of the most distinguished architects in New York. He was always imbued with progressive values but I never saw him as an activist let alone a radical. Tomorrow he's going to the big Trump protest at Columbus Circle. No one talked him into it. He's doing it for America. We all must. Did you watch this yet? It's not an ordinary movie trailer:



When we started encouraging Members of Congress to follow Luis Gutiérrez's lead in an act of symbolic resistance to Trumpism, there were only 6 House members on board. Many I spoke with were ambivalent. Blue America put up an ActBlue page so our members could express solidarity with the congressmembers willing to reject Trump and boycott his heinous inauguration. As of yesterday, they contributed nearly $6,000, in mostly small donations, and the number of congressional resisters had risen to a full quarter of the Democrats in the House. Today it will likely reach a third. Many members who I spoke with 2 weeks ago, have since changed their minds-- largely thanks to the way Trump has lashed out at John Lewis-- and now even moderates and conservative Democrats-- even Kurt Schrader, the head of the loathsome Blue Dogs!-- have joined the progressives leading the way.

The video of Rep. Gutiérrez's speech explaining why he is refusing to enable Trumpism with his presence has been watched by over 6 million people on Facebook. And the reaction has been overwhelmingly supportive. His press person, Doug Rivlin: "We usually get a lot of haters calling and trolling the Congressman on Facebook and Twitter because he is Latino and has been outspoken on immigration, guns, Planned Parenthood and other issues, but the response has been overwhelmingly positive to his family’s decision to skip the inauguration. Congressman Gutiérrez apparently articulated what a lot of people are feeling with his comments-- that Trump’s rhetoric on women, people of color and people of different religions made it such that he did not want to attend the inauguration. So many people have called with their messages of support, especially women. Our phones are ringing off the hook.

"And, since first announcing he wasn't going (December 2), there have been over half a million responses on Facebook alone! Now the L.A. Times is singling out the positions of the California congressmembers who aren't going-- and those who are. Most of the state's corporate whores and conservatives are sticking with Trump... as expected, the garbage members like Pete Aguilar (New Dem), Ami Bera (New Dem), Julia Brownley (close New Dem), Lou Correa (Blue Dog), Jim Costa (Blue Dog), Susan Davis (New Dem), Scott Peters (New Dem) and, of course, Senator Kamala Harris, the one who refused to prosecute foreclosure criminal Steven Mnuchin, Trump's pick for Treasury Secretary.

And yesterday, Schumer told Senate Democrats to make up their own minds about tending or not. "I think each person has to make the choice on their own," he told CNN, "but I don't begrudge those who have said they're boycotting. Each person can make his or her own decision." Dodgy senators who are corporate shills but like to try to portray themselves as "liberals," like Kirsten Gillibrand, are refusing to say whether they'll go or not. But what about real progressive senators? Has anyone been in touch with Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Ed Markey, Jeff Merkley? Dick Durbin, Al Franken, Mazie Hirono, Tammy Baldwin, Jack Reed, Sheldon Whitehouse? Unlike fakers like Gillibrand, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, this are the real deal. How come no leadership on the boycott? Don't wait 'til its too late to oppose Trumpism. History will be unforgiving. And speaking of giving... please do click on the thermometer and do what you can:
Goal Thermometer

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Comrade Trump: Inauguration Fiasco 2017! The Latest Inauguration News!

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-by Noah

Folks, it is with deep orange sadness, that I tell you the following facts about President Trump’s Inauguration Fiasco 2016. These are real facts, not the kind that pour out of the mouth of Kellyanne Konartist or the man who wears an orange rat on his head.

Here’s the latest, as of Tuesday evening, January 17th:

1. The B Street Band Says "No Deal!"
Remember when I postulated that even Chris Christie putting his weight behind convincing Bruce Springsteen to play the Trump inauguration failed, resulting in Comrade Trump being forced to book the "world renowned" B Street Band, a Springsteen tribute band?

Well, the tribute band has pulled out. Think about this one. Comrade Trumpinsky campaigned bigly on the idea that he knew how to make deals! Hell, he even "wrote" a book about it. He couldn’t even close a deal to get a tribute band to play for him. Sad! Loser!

No word as to whether Vladimir Putin will be sending some Russian dancing bears to replace the B Street Band.
2. Ticket Scalpers
As with any large event, ticket scalpers make out like bandits. Inaugurations are no exceptions... except this time. With Trump’s approval ratings sliding almost daily, selling tickets to the event is a difficult if not nearly impossible endeavor. Comrade Trumpinsky’s approval rating has sunk to 44% in one poll, 40% in another. These numbers are the worst pre-inauguration ratings ever. Similar polls from the recent past showed Dubya at 61% and Obama at 83%.




Occupydemocrats even reports that a desperate Donald is now offering free tickets. This makes me wonder if his parents paid kids to come to his birthday parties. Sad! Loser!

Scalpers would have done much better if they had put their money in bus or train tickets for the next day’s Woman’s March On Washington, which is expected to be one of the largest protests in our nation’s history.


3. Congressional Boycotts
When an American hero like Rep. John Lewis says that Trumpinsky is not, and never will be, a legitimate president, rational people listen. As I write this, more than 50 of his fellow congresspersons have joined Rep. Lewis in boycotting the certification and approval of fascism on Friday. We need more great Americans like Mr. Lewis.
4. Portable toilet update!
I know this is of maximum importance at any outdoor event, especially in this case when there will be so many senior citizens. Being a senior, I get this. Believe me.

So, it may interest you to know that, when it comes to large events in the Washington, DC area, the go-to company for portable toilets is a company by the name of Don’s Johns! I kid you not!

What then, to do? Does the Donald Trump Inauguration Committee send the Donald’s personal plane out to, say, Oklahoma or some other place where a different company has the portable toilet franchise? Do they then load up Trump’s private plane with every portable toilet that will fit?

Nope. Who says Trump can’t solve the problems that face America? The Donald had a fix at hand! The solution was to just tape over the “Don’s Johns” logo on every single portable toilet being made available for Friday. At press time, there was no word as to whether or not the “Don’s Johns” logo was replaced with a nice shiny, sparkly, golden TRUMP logo.

But, what about Trumpinsky himself? What does a man who regards the whole world as his toilet, do? Will the speech be short due to necessity? Or, will the new president be using a catheter? Do they come really small?
5. Cabs
I have nothing to back this up, yet, but a good friend reports to me that he is in Washington right now and, on his cab ride to the hotel, he noticed that traffic was unusually light. When he asked the cabbie about it, his response was that, in the 30 years that he’s been driving a cab, he has never seen the streets so empty. In fact, he said, he’d had only 3 fares all day and was worried about making his rent this month.

Veterans of inaugurations past, say that Washington is always gridlocked during Inauguration week. Not this time. Have a lot of people simply left town? I know I would if such an infestation of Republicans was coming.

The real rats in Washington are huge. I know this. I used to live there. They are double the size of New York rats. But, the good citizens of our nation’s capital know how to deal with rats of the rodent variety. Dealing with an infestation of of drunken zombie Republicans? Best to stay inside or leave town altogether.
6. Dress shops: No Gowns To Be Found?
Trumpinsky has been tweeting away about how successful this week's events will be. In one tweet, the Twit-In-Chief claimed that there wasn’t a gown to be found. All sold out. None. As it turns out... not so.

Salon reports their visit to the Dior Store revealed otherwise, but, they were quickly hustled from the store. It appears that word came down from Dior headquarters in New York that no Trump-related questions were to be answered. Sounds like someone has something to hide.
A parting thought:

Dear Republicans, there are only a few hours of the Obama presidency left, and, believe it, you still have your guns!

For 8 years, you have been telling all of us that President Obama is coming to take our guns away. That total wackjob who runs the NRA has taken millions from you dumbass suckers based on that claim alone. Some of you have even hidden your guns by burying them in your backyard. Now, like the brain-parasite ridden mangy little squirrels that you are, some of you don’t even remember wear you hid them.

Hey, maybe, instead of the backyard, you hid them under your floorboards or in your walls, but you can’t remember that either. You will now literally need to start tearing your house apart to find them, but only after Obama is gone, of course.

In any event, Obama has only hours left, mere hours, to launch that surprise, nationwide attack and come for your guns. Are ya still scared? I’m not. He’s had 8 years. I know I still have my gun. It’s right here, next to my computer. When that big Obama tank comes to my door, my Colt .45 is gonna show that tank a thing or two!


"Trump is the perfect modern American. He's a human consumption machine with no attention span, no self-control, no beliefs and no hobbies outside of sex, spending, eating and talking about himself. Nixon at least played the piano and read classics. He was an intellectual with a pig's heart. Trump is just the pig part."
-Matt Taibbi


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