The GOP's Big Lie About Tax Cuts

[ Posted Monday, October 23rd, 2017 – 17:08 PDT ]

Call it the refusal of "trickle-down economics" to die. Ever since Ronald Reagan introduced the idea, Republicans have clung to a very mistaken concept -- that tax cuts always pay for themselves. Though proven false again and again, this is the fallback Republican position when trying to hoodwink the American public into massive tax cuts for those at the tippy-top of the income scale. "Don't worry," the GOP tells the public, "these tax cuts will generate so much new growth that they will pay for themselves!" As always, the reality turns out to fall far short of this lofty goal.

Continue Reading »

Friday Talking Points [458] -- Gold Star Lies

[ Posted Friday, October 20th, 2017 – 17:41 PDT ]

Call this the week when White House Chief of Staff John Kelly lost all remaining shreds of credibility. Kelly, as we all know, was supposed to bring the adult supervision to the White House that would magically transform Donald Trump into a serious president. A retired Marine Corps general was going to whip the White House into shape, and clear sailing ahead would thus quickly ensue.

That was the plan, at any rate. But this week Kelly was used as a political pawn by Trump, and it didn't exactly go well. By the end of the week, Kelly was just as guilty as his boss of making stuff up when talking to the press, or (to be less polite but more accurate) just flat-out lying. Kelly was supposed to elevate Trump up to his level of competence, but instead what has happened is Kelly got dragged down into the sewer with Trump.

Hey, he knew what he signed up for, right?

Continue Reading »

The Off-Off-Year Governors' Races

[ Posted Thursday, October 19th, 2017 – 17:20 PDT ]

In a few weeks, there will be elections for two governorships, in New Jersey and Virginia. These off-off-year contests are always closely watched, especially by those hoping for a shift in the balance of power. However, no matter the outcome, these two states aren't always accurate harbingers of how the midterm elections will turn out in the following year. Still, it being an off-off year, political pundits don't have any other key election results to talk about, so expect to be hearing lots of opinionating over the next three weeks or so.

As things currently stand, one Republican and one Democrat are leaving office, meaning an open race in both states. Chris Christie is stepping down in New Jersey, and Terry McAuliffe is leaving office in Virginia. Both were precluded from running for re-election by term limits, it is worth noting.

Continue Reading »

Trump's Despicable Gold Star Lies

[ Posted Wednesday, October 18th, 2017 – 17:16 PDT ]

President Donald Trump, once again, has been caught in numerous despicable lies, this time both to and about Gold Star families. This continues a pattern for Trump, of disrespecting other people's military service when they are not whole-hearted supporters of Donald Trump. But over the past 48 hours or so, Trump has hit new lows in this regard. And yet he still has the gall to denounce professional football players for "not respecting the flag."

Previously, Trump disrespected John McCain, who spent over five years as a prisoner of the North Vietnamese, saying Trump only liked soldiers who didn't get captured. Astonishingly, he paid no political price for this outrageous snub. Later in the campaign, Trump got into a battle of words with a Gold Star family who spoke out at the National Democratic Convention. Again, Trump paid little political price for this unseemly spat. Earlier this year, Trump reacted to the news that a U.S. Navy vessel had been in a collision that resulted in sailors' deaths by saying: "That's too bad." Again, Trump paid little political price for this callous reaction.

On Monday, Trump held an impromptu press conference, and he was asked why he had not even mentioned the fact that four U.S. soldiers had been killed in Niger twelve days earlier. Not only had Trump failed to utter one word about these deaths, but when the body of one of the soldiers who died in action was returned to the United States, Trump was out on the golf course with Lindsey Graham.

Continue Reading »

Nailing Scalps To The Newsroom Wall

[ Posted Tuesday, October 17th, 2017 – 17:02 PDT ]

The CBS newsmagazine show 60 Minutes and the Washington Post may have just clinched a Pulitzer Prize, for their bombshell reporting on how some bought-and-paid-for congressmen did the bidding of Big Pharma for campaign cash and, as a direct result, made the opioid crisis in America worse by limiting the enforcement powers of the Drug Enforcement Agency. But, Pulitzer consideration aside, they've already won an even-more-impressive award: a politician's scalp, metaphorically nailed to the newsroom wall. The television show and the companion print articles appeared Sunday. Tuesday morning, the White House announced that former Representative Tom Marino had been withdrawn from consideration for the job of running the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy -- a job more commonly referred to as "the drug czar."

To state all of this in a slightly different fashion, journalists did a bang-up job of exposing what on the face of it appears to be not only blatant garden-variety corruption, but also a rather inhumane disregard for human lives at the expense of both corporate profits and campaign cash. It also highlighted how major corporate lobbyists can essentially write their own legislation, which will then be passed by a supine Congress without a single voice being raised against such self-serving legislation. That is what good journalism is supposed to do -- hold our elected officials responsible for their heretofore hidden actions.

Continue Reading »

Trump Holds Third Real Press Conference

[ Posted Monday, October 16th, 2017 – 17:13 PDT ]

President Donald Trump gave an unexpected press conference today, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell by his side. What is really remarkable, though, almost ten months in to his term in office, is how few press conferences Trump has so far given. In fact, the true measure of the "adult day care center" situation at the White House is how effective the people surrounding Trump have been at blocking Trump from giving freewheeling press conferences. Before he became president, he used to love doing these out on the campaign trail, but not so much since he was sworn in.

By a strict accounting, Donald Trump has only held one formal solo press conference. One. He surprised everyone by appearing in front of a podium and he answered questions for the better part of an hour. That was in mid-February, not even a full month in to his term. Since that point, he has not given a single formal solo press conference at all. But perhaps that's being too rigorous in definition, because Trump did have a second long-format press conference, in Trump Tower.

Continue Reading »

Friday Talking Points [457] -- Buck-Passer In Chief

[ Posted Friday, October 13th, 2017 – 17:48 PDT ]

On Harry Truman's desk famously sat a sign which proudly proclaimed: "The Buck Stops Here." If Donald Trump had such an item, it might read: "Buck-Passer In Chief." His governing style (if it can even be dignified as such) is to cause a crisis on his own, and then dump the entire problem on Congress to deal with. Because we all know what masterful problem-solvers the Republican-led Congress are, or something. This could lead to utter disaster on many fronts, within the next few months.

Consider the "bucks" Trump has passed to Congress recently. First, he created a crisis out of thin air by setting an end date for the DACA program (for the Dreamers). At least with this one, he announced a six-month pause before full implementation, which (in normal times) would give Congress enough time to act. This year's budget process was also punted to early December, along with a necessary raise in the debt ceiling. That's a pretty full plate already, but Trump didn't stop there.

Continue Reading »

End Is Near For Islamic State's State

[ Posted Thursday, October 12th, 2017 – 17:17 PDT ]

A major geopolitical goal is now in sight, and should arrive within months if not weeks. The Islamic State is about to become stateless. They are about to lose the last shreds of territory they still control in Iraq and Syria, forcing their transformation into a stateless terrorist network (like Al Qaeda) or even their total collapse. Because their self-proclaimed "caliphate" is about to disappear.

Continue Reading »

White House Tries Deal-Making

[ Posted Wednesday, October 11th, 2017 – 17:09 PDT ]

Amidst all the continuing distractions emanating from the White House these days (I.Q. tests, the N.F.L., World War III, etc.), something interesting and unprecedented has happened in the past few weeks. The Trump administration has begun actual negotiations with Congress, on two contentious issues. It's rather astonishing when you think about it, but this is actually the first time such a thing has happened since Trump took office.

Perhaps it is due to John Kelly's influence, but whatever the reason, over the past month or so the White House has gotten much more engaged on actual legislative policy. Up until this point, Trump was content to let Congress do all the heavy lifting and just sit back and wait for bills appear on his desk for him to sign. This, quite obviously, hasn't worked out so well for Trump, as no bills appeared at all, even with a Congress firmly in Republican hands.

Continue Reading »

Digging Through Feinstein's Record

[ Posted Tuesday, October 10th, 2017 – 17:10 PDT ]

I have to warn everyone up front that this is going to be a pretty long and wonky column that really accomplishes nothing that yesterday's column didn't already cover. It's going to be a deep dive into Senator Dianne Feinstein's record over the past decade, as measured by my own subjective views. So if that sort of thing doesn't appeal to you, I'd advise just skipping today's column altogether. Consider yourselves duly warned.

Yesterday, I laid out the reasons why I was disappointed to hear that Dianne Feinstein would be seeking re-election. Since then, I've seen a few other articles also expressing dismay over the news. So I thought it'd be worthwhile to take a look at how I've judged Feinstein over the years. While thinking about yesterday's column, I dug into my own archives to see what Feinstein's score had added up to. I did this by combing the "Friday Talking Points" all-time awards list, to see where she stood. Her current tally is seven Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week awards, and fifteen Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week awards. That's worse than 2-to-1 against, obviously. I did not take into consideration any "Honorable Mention" or "(Dis-)Honorable Mention" awards, because I do not keep statistics for the minor awards.

Continue Reading »