Friday Talking Points [450] -- A Ping-Pong Flip-Flop Week

[ Posted Friday, August 25th, 2017 – 17:42 UTC ]

Donald Trump ping-ponged his way from being TelePrompTer Trump to being The Real Unfiltered Trump (and then back again) this week. It started off with a rather amazing flip-flop, as Trump essentially admitted that everything he's ever said or thought about Afghanistan was wrong. Not unlike Arthur Fonzarelli, Trump's mouth couldn't actually form the words "I was wrong," but the admission was still there for all to see.

Trump's new Afghanistan strategy is... well, he didn't want to tell us specifics. Even Bill O'Reilly responded to Trump's speech by tweeting: "The president's speech on Afghanistan was strong in tone but cloudy on specifics." But even so, it was pretty clear that Trump's Afghanistan strategy is pretty indistinguishable from Barack Obama's Afghanistan strategy or George W. Bush's Afghanistan strategy. In other words, throw up your hands and let the next president deal with it.

The purpose of Trump's primetime television address to the nation was purely political, however -- to prove that he can "be presidential." This was supposed to be a giant pivot from last week, when Trump looked anything but. But while Trump did stick to the script others had written for him, the most common review was that he looked like he was in a "hostage video." We personally had a slightly different impression, that he looked like a 6-year-old being forced to apologize for something he really wasn't sorry about. Either way, it was a pretty uncomfortable speech.

Speaking of uncomfortable television viewing, we'd like to interrupt our weekly wrapup for a more erudite moment today, as we bring you an excerpt from George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, just because:

The next moment a hideous, grinding speech, as of some monstrous machine running without oil, burst from the big telescreen at the end of the room. It was a noise that set one's teeth on edge and bristled the hair at the back of one's neck. The Hate had started.

. . .

Before the Hate had proceeded for thirty seconds, uncontrollable exclamations of rage were breaking out from half the people in the room.

. . .

In its second minute the Hate rose to a frenzy. People were leaping up and down in their places and shouting at the tops of their voices in an effort to drown the maddening bleating voice that came from the screen. The little sandy-haired woman had turned bright pink, and her mouth was opening and shutting like that of a landed fish. Even O'Brien's heavy face was flushed. He was sitting very straight in his chair, his powerful chest swelling and quivering as though he were standing up to the assault of a wave. The dark-haired girl behind Winston had begun crying out "Swine! Swine! Swine!" and suddenly she picked up a heavy Newspeak dictionary and flung it at the screen. It struck Goldstein's nose and bounced off; the voice continued inexorably. In a lucid moment Winston found that he was shouting with the others and kicking his heel violently against the rung of his chair. The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but, on the contrary, that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge-hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one's will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp.

In other news -- totally unrelated, of course -- Donald Trump held a rally in Phoenix this Tuesday. The media's unfair treatment of Donald Trump seemed to be the main subject. Totally unrelated to that previous literary reference. After all, Big Brother only needed two minutes to accomplish his goal.

In Phoenix, the first ping-pong was complete. Trump ranted and raved at all his perceived enemies, whether in the media, the Democratic Party, or his own political party. The crowd ate it up, for the most part. By the next day, Trump had returned to the TelePrompTer for a speech to veterans. He later declared that this ping-ponging was actually an asset, not a liability.

This all led James Clapper, former director of national intelligence, to publicly question Trump's fitness for office. Representative Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat, introduced a bill which would "quickly secure the services of medical and psychiatric professionals" to assess Trump's current mental state. As her statement put it: "Does the President suffer from early stage dementia? Has the stress of office aggravated a mental illness crippling impulse control? Has emotional disorder so impaired the President that he is unable to discharge his duties? Is the President mentally and emotionally stable?"

By our count, four presidential commissions have now been disbanded because the participants don't want to be associated with the president anymore. Business executives, Union leaders, artists, and infrastructure experts have all bailed on Trump. Interestingly, there is one group which is supposed to advise Trump on moral issues, but they've only had one person leave in disgust. So money-grubbers and artists are proving more moral than the so-called "moral leaders" -- which should be shocking, but really isn't.

Last Sunday, as another measure of the bunker mentality at the White House, not a single administration official was made available to speak for Trump on the Sunday morning political shows -- even Fox News was shut out. Other shows reported they had asked every single GOP senator to appear to speak for Trump, but none would.

Trump announced this week that he won't be attending the Kennedy Center honors, and won't be holding a reception for the award-winners, either. There's an obvious reason for this, and it's the same reason Trump refused to throw out the first pitch for the Washington Nationals this year -- he's scared of getting booed. Here are the details:

The announcement comes as three of the five honorees -- television producer Norman Lear, singer Lionel Richie and dancer Carmen de Lavallade -- said they would or may boycott the traditional White House reception related to the celebration. As for the other two, rapper LL Cool J had not said whether he would attend, and Cuban American singer Gloria Estefan said she would go to try to influence the president on immigration issues.

Since this would be embarrassing, Trump just decided to cancel. But it's not just business and Hollywood elites who are abandoning Trump:

Labor leaders, once courted by President Trump, are stepping up their campaign to turn workers against the White House if it does not deliver more on jobs and trade -- and if it does not stop undoing Obama-era regulations.

The most visible effort, which starts in Indianapolis on Monday afternoon, is a two-week tour organized by the coalition Good Jobs Nation that ropes in labor-friendly politicians. The coalition, launched in 2013 to pressure Barack Obama's White House on trade and wage issues, is organizing rallies throughout the Midwest through Labor Day.

"Trump ran as a working-class hero, so let's look at the results," said Joseph Geevarghese, Good Jobs Nation's executive director. "We're seven months into his administration, and wages are flat. People are still getting pink slips."

They picked Indianapolis for a reason, of course -- to highlight the broken promises on the Carrier deal that Trump loves to brag about.

Nine months later, Carrier is well into cutting 632 jobs -- more cuts than the president had promised. Chuck Jones, who represented Carrier workers as president of United Steelworkers Local 1999, said that even workers who voted for Trump have learned not to trust him.

"He made promises to working-class people," said Jones, who will also speak at Monday's rally. "He said that if he were president, that jobs would not be leaving this country. Guess what? They still are. He could be signing executive orders. He's not lifting a finger."

Meanwhile, Steve Mnuchin's new wife Louise Linton seems to be going out of her way to do a Leona Helmsley impression. After all, there are people like her and her husband, and then there are all the little people, who are losers and deserve mocking and derision from their betters.

Little noticed in the furor over Louise Linton's remarks on social media was the fact that she had been in the news last year, for an article she wrote about Africa, where she attempted to channel her inner Joseph Conrad and wound up channeling nothing short of colonial patronizing nonsense. As one reviewer put it:

Linton describes experiences as an 18-year-old student who travels to Zambia in 1999, and claims that she didn’t know that war was raging in Congo. If "How Not to Write About Africa" were an Olympic floor gymnastics event, Linton's piece would be a strong contender for a gold medal, because she deploys, with maximum flourish, just about every lazy trope there is when it comes to writing about Africa.

Seems to be a common thread, there, between her attitudes then and now.

In other "Republicans being insensitive" news, we have the Arizona GOP, who needed a photo of some "Asian-Americans" (to boast of their supposed support among this group) and decided to use (you just can't make this stuff up) a promo photo from Margaret Cho's 1990s-era sitcom All-American Girl (probably because they didn't have any authentic photos lying around they could use). Republican minority outreach is a contradiction in terms, because it usually winds up with a slap in the face.

Speaking of Arizona Republicans and race, the following happened last week as well:

A federal judge in Arizona has ruled that the state violated the constitutional rights of Mexican American students by eliminating a successful Mexican American studies program, saying officials "were motivated by racial animus" and were pushing "discriminatory ends in order to make political gains."

OK, we just have a few more odds and ends to get through before we get to the awards, so bear with us. None of these seemed to fit anywhere else, so we just tossed them in a grab bag here at the end.

Mitch McConnell got a funny line off last week:

I'm often asked, "What is being the majority leader of the Senate like? The best answer I've been able to think of is, "It's a little bit like being a groundskeeper at a cemetery. Everybody's under you, but nobody's listening." That's what you get with 52-48.

From the Boston anti-hate counterprotest came some amusing signs. The best was probably "CTRL + ALT-RIGHT + DELETE," for brevity. Also seen:

LOSERS in 1865 (image of Confederate flag)
LOSERS in 1945 (image of Nazi flag)
LOSERS in 2017 (image of Pepe the Frog)

And the most amusing sign of the week:

Dear Lord is it
Time to impeach?
Give us a sign
Block out the sun

Even more amusing, it took Trump three tries before he could come up with the proper spelling of "heal." Here are his three attempts:

Our great country has been divided for decade, but it will come together again. Sometimes protest is needed in order to heel, and heel we will!

Our great country has been divided for decades. Sometimes you need protest in order to heel, & we will heel, & be stronger than ever before!

Our great country has been divided for decades. Sometimes you need protest in order to heal, & we will heal, & be stronger than ever before!

Merriam-Webster had some fun, and tweeted back at Trump:

heal (to become healthy again)

heel (a contemptible person)

he'll (he will)

Maybe he'll get it right after Hurricane Harvey hits Texas. How hard is it, after all, to issue a statement from the president which sympathizes and empathizes with people after a disaster? Well, two weeks ago, we would also have said it'd be a pretty low bar for a president to condemn Nazis and the KKK, but look where we are now. Will we get TelePrompTer Trump, or will we hear what Trump really thinks? Stay tuned, everyone....


Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week

There was a lot to be impressed with this week, but we have to begin today by looking even further back. Last week it was pointed out to us in the comments that we had completely ignored the actual counterprotesters in Charlottesville when handing out awards. This was true, and there's really no excuse. We just forgot to include them, nothing more nor less.

So we'd like to give special note this week to those who stood up against the message of hate from neo-Nazis and white supremacists in both Charlottesville and in Boston, last weekend. Anyone who has ever read the poem "First They Came For The Socialists" knows that in certain circumstances, silence is not acceptable. The alt-right certainly seems to fit that bill. Edmund Burke put it even better: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

When you see tiny demonstrations by the alt-right absolutely surrounded by tens of thousands of counter-protesters, it is obvious that many agree. Rather than doing nothing, there are good people who cannot sit idly by while racists march in the streets. So peaceful protesters of alt-right deplorables certainly deserve all the recognition they can get, including a belated Honorable Mention from us. We apologize for the oversight last week, too.

Moving along to this week, we noticed much to be impressed by. We're not sure of his political leanings, but we feel safe in awarding at least an Honorable Mention to Daryl Johnson, the former senior analyst for domestic terrorism at the Department of Homeland Security. If you've never heard his name before, you might at least remember what he wrote, as he explains:

Eight years ago, I warned of a singular threat -- the resurgence of right-wing extremist activity and associated violence in the United States as a result of the 2008 presidential election, the financial crisis and the stock market crash. My intelligence report, meant only for law enforcement, was leaked by conservative media.

A political backlash ensued because of an objection to the label "right-wing extremism." The report also rightly pointed out that returning military veterans may be targeted for recruitment by extremists. Republican lawmakers demanded then-Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano rescind my report. The American Legion formally requested an apology to veterans. Some in Congress called for me to be fired. Amid the turmoil, my warning went unheeded by Republicans and Democrats. Unfortunately, the Department of Homeland Security caved to the political pressure: Work related to violent right-wing extremism was halted. Law enforcement training also stopped. My unit was disbanded. And, one-by-one, my team of analysts left for other employment. By 2010, there were no intelligence analysts at DHS working domestic terrorism threats.

Since 2008, though, the body count from numerous acts of violent right-wing terrorism continued to rise steadily with very little media interest, political discussion or concern from our national leaders. As this threat grew, government resources were scaled back, law enforcement counterterrorism training was defunded and policies to counter violent extremism narrowed to focus solely on Muslim extremism. Heated political campaigning by Donald Trump in 2016 pandered to these extremists. Now, right-wing terrorism has become the national security threat which many government leaders have yet to acknowledge.

He's right -- his warning was ignored and buried, and we are now paying the price.

Another Honorable Mention goes to Daniel Kammen, who just quit his post as science envoy to the State Department in disgust over Trump's reaction to Charlottesville. His letter is pretty scathing, but the amusing thing (once again) is the hidden message. If you read the first letters of all his paragraphs, they spell out "IMPEACH." This could be a new trend, folks, after the "RESIST" letter from last week.

But our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week goes to Chuck Schumer, who penned an interesting article about what Democrats should legislatively call for in response to Trump and Charlottesville. Rather than just beating up on Trump, Schumer has some ideas about how to use this moment to achieve some good. After denouncing Trump's response, of course (emphasis in original):

In the wake of the events in Charlottesville, President Trump’s refusal to promptly and unequivocally denounce the radical, white-supremacist movement in this country was disgraceful. It was shameful, un-American, and it was wrong. It was an astounding failure of both presidential and moral leadership at a time when our nation needed it most.

Millions of Americans watched on TV as Nazi-sympathizers marched through the streets of a college town with torches, advocating racial violence and white supremacy. They watched as many in the groups shouted Nazi, anti-Semitic and racist slogans and some even gave "Heil Hitler" salutes. They watched as a member of that hateful group drove a car into a crowd of people, injuring dozens and killing a young woman. Then they watched their president blame the violence "on many sides," drawing a grotesque moral equivalence between purveyors of hate and racism and the Americans who came to stand up to those dangerous views.

We needed to hear from our president a message of unity. We needed to hear a consistent, unambiguous, forceful denouncement of racism, bigotry and violence and a reaffirmation of the values we all hold dear: inclusiveness, tolerance, equal opportunity for all, and non-violent protest. President Trump failed to deliver that message.

But it's not just Trump, Schumer quite rightly points out:

The Ku Klux Klan and its sympathizers at all levels of government denied black Americans the right to vote for decades. Today, voting rights are once again under assault. The misguided Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court decision gutted the Voting Rights Act, opening the door to the same voter suppression tactics that existed before the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965. In the past year and a half alone, federal courts have struck down discriminatory voting laws in North Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin. And some legislators, as they attempted to pass these types of bills, openly admitted their goal was to suppress minorities from voting. In the case of North Carolina, the court found that the legislature targeted African-American voters with "almost surgical precision." This is despicable. And now there is something even more ominous happening now within the Trump Administration.

. . .

The president's "Election Integrity Commission" and the actions of the attorney general are wolves in sheep's clothing. They are a ruse. Their only intention is to disenfranchise voters. This is how the appalling failure to use the right words and stand up to hate in the aftermath of Charlottesville is made real in the form of policy; they are two edges of the same sword.

Schumer then offers up two concrete plans for action, but we're saving those for the talking points part of the program. But for not just making political hay out of Trump's inadequate response -- for instead charting positive steps for improvement, Chuck Schumer is our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week. Other Democrats should start echoing Schumer's call to action, and raise the level of pressure to get something done rather than just score political points.

[Congratulate Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on his Senate contact page, to let him know you appreciate his efforts.]


Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week

However, in a surprise move, we're also going to award Chuck Schumer the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award as well. Because he inexplicably failed to come to the most obvious conclusion in his article. While calling for disbanding the "Election Integrity Commission" is a good first step, and promising to hold hearings on the issue of voting rights is also a great idea, the obvious final step was absent.

Why not lead Democrats in a movement to pass a new Voting Rights Act? Schumer correctly identifies the Supreme Court's decision as gutting the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but then fails to call for a modern replacement. All kinds of problems could be addressed in such legislation, to improve the process of voting for millions of Americans. In fact, the sustained Republican attack on voting rights is precisely the reason why such legislation is desperately needed right now. It would be the logical thing for Democrats to push for, in other words.

Which is why the absence of this idea in Schumer's otherwise inspirational article is downright mystifying. Sure, disbanding Trump's fake commission is important, as is listening to all sides describe the problems. But after all that is done, further action is required. So Chuck Schumer wins both the MIDOTW and the MDDOTW awards this week, for brilliantly outlining the problem but for some reason failing to offer up the obvious solution.

[Contact Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on his Senate contact page, to let him know what you think of his actions.]


Friday Talking Points

Volume 450 (8/25/17)

Have we really written 450 of these columns? Time marches on....

Our first three items are positive ideas for Democrats to rally around when they return to Congress next month. The final four are a wee bit more negative, directed towards Trump and his enablers. So let's get on with it (for the 450th time)....


   Disband the fake commission

These first two are the bullet points from Chuck Schumer's article on how Democrats should respond to Trump after Charlottesville.

Disband the Election Integrity Commission. If the president wants to truly show that he rejects the discrimination agenda of the white supremacist movement, he will rescind the Executive Order that created this commission. And if the president does not act, the Congress should prohibit its operation through one of the must-pass legislative vehicles in September. Many of us found the Election Integrity Commission distasteful when it was first created. The president’s recent failure to unequivocally condemn bigotry makes its rescission imperative.


   Study the problem

Schumer continues with another good idea.

Hold a series of public hearings on the status of voting rights in America. Let’s have a public debate about these issues where experts can discuss policies like same-day registration as well as alleged voter fraud. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, vice chairman of the Election Integrity Commission, should testify as well.


   Pass an updated Voting Rights Act

And here's the third obvious bullet point that Schumer somehow forgot.

"Pass an updated Voting Rights Act. The Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965 because they said it was too outdated. Democrats think they tossed the baby out with the bathwater, however, as recent court rulings in Texas and Wisconsin and North Carolina have proven. So we are calling on Republicans to work with us to draft an updated replacement for the Voting Rights Act. How can any true American be against the right to vote, after all? After we hold public hearings on the issue, we can use what we learn to draft a bill that will strengthen the right of every upright citizen to fully participate in their government."


   Too bad?!?

This doesn't exactly bode well for Trump, post-hurricane.

"Earlier this week, the Navy announced that another one of their ships was in a collision with a much larger vessel, resulting in the loss of life of U.S. sailors. President Donald Trump's reaction, when informed of the accident, was: 'That's too bad.' Too bad? That's it? As one New York Times reporter tweeted: 'Imagine the reaction if Obama, Bush, Clinton said "that's too bad" in response to missing soldiers on a military vessel.' What is really too bad is that we've got a president who seems to be lacking in basic human decency and empathy."


   Trump hits a milestone, of sorts...

....but one he won't likely be bragging about any time soon.

"The Washington Post has been busily collating all the times Donald Trump has lied since he took office, and this week it broke the barrier into four digits. That's right, Trump has lied to the American public a total of 1,057 times now -- an average of almost five lies per day. And those are just the ones he tells in public. There was a recent story about how Trump had lied to executives at a coal company, which is kind of surprising since Trump's supposed to be such a big friend of coal. Trump also let the cat out of the bag about his border wall this week, when he promised to shut the government down if Congress didn't pony up taxpayer money to build it. In other words, all those promises on the campaign trail that 'Mexico will pay for it' were nothing more than big fat lies to his own supporters."


   Let them eat cake

Hoo boy.

"Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's wife, Louise Linton, certainly took the Marie Antoinette 'let them eat cake' prize this week, as she belittled average Americans on social media in a breathtaking display of elitism. This was in response to a photo she had posted while giving a shout-out to all the wonderful (and expensive) designers who contributed to her outfit. The outing she was photographed traveling to was to see the eclipse from Fort Knox. This led Salon to write the headline of the week: 'Steve Mnuchin Watched The Solar Eclipse From Atop Fort Knox, Literally A Building Filled With Gold.' Just fills you with confidence about Mnuchin leading the effort to reform our tax code, doesn't it? He'll definitely keep the middle class in mind while doing so, right? Because he and his wife so obviously care deeply about average Americans."


   Pucker up!

This one's just downright astonishing, even for him.

"The Trump Kiss-Ass prize of the week has got to go to Tucker Carlson at Fox News. After Donald Trump refused to wear his protective glasses and idiotically stared straight at the sun during the eclipse, Carlson had the following praise to offer his Dear Leader, calling it 'perhaps the most impressive thing any president has ever done.' Um, no. Just... no. Lincoln freeing the slaves? F.D.R. taking America through the Great Depression? George Washington's Farewell Address? All pale in comparison -- according to the biggest sycophant on television today -- to Donald Trump risking blindness even when people were screaming 'Don't look!" at him. I'd like to think he really meant to say 'least impressive,' but given Tucker Carlson's propensity to kiss Trump's ass repeatedly, I can't believe he didn't really mean it. They really ought to start calling him 'Pucker Carlson,' at this point."

-- Chris Weigant


All-time award winners leaderboard, by rank
Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground
Cross-posted at: The Huffington Post


48 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [450] -- A Ping-Pong Flip-Flop Week”

  1. [1] 
    altohone wrote:

    Hey CW

    Gorka out and Arpaio pardoned right after you posted.

    Excellent column.
    Good praise and ridicule of Schumer.


  2. [2] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    I'll tell you what. A job with Alt-Orange is definitely not a long term gig. Now the Nazi Gorka has gotten the shiv while Harvey howls. Sad.

  3. [3] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    Nobody knew how easy this pardon thing is. Many, many beautiful pardons for terrific law breakers could be coming. Stay tuned. - Big Orange

  4. [4] 
    Bleyd wrote:

    I'm rather hoping Trump does get it right with the hurricane. I live in the Houston area, so I'm gonna be living through it.

  5. [5] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:


    Our thoughts and prayers are with you and all of the Houston area this weekend! Stay safe -- there is nothing you own that is worth more than your life!


  6. [6] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


  7. [7] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    So Schumer gets both awards for outlining the problem but failing to offer up the obvious solution.

    What else is new?

    That seems to be all we ever get from both the media and the politicians.

    Question: Does the email I got on Friday from MoveOn that contained the clip of Elizabeth Warren's Netroots speech that was just the 11 or so minutes at the end of the speech where she talked about universal democratic platitudes and started after the first 18 minutes or so where she criticized the MoveOn/ Hillary Clinton part of the Democratic Party considered as part of this week's Most Disappointing or next week's Most Disappointing ?

    And how come Warren's speech and Al Gore talking about getting the Big Money out of politics never made it in any of your articles since Netroots?

    I never saw your baseball cap in any of the clips, but if you say you were there I still believe you. Did you miss those speeches? Were you in the bathroom?

    Talk about failing to offer up the obvious solution!

    As Elizabeth Warren said in the part of her speech that MoveOn left out- you need to pick a side. Silence on the 18 minutes of Warren's speech, Al Gore's speech and so as not to disappoint those that consider me a one note troll- One Demand shows which side you are on.

    It's late but not too late to switch to the right side.

    It's never too late to do the right thing.

  8. [8] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    I've recently noticed that the STOP signs around town now say STOP Trump.

  9. [9] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    [7] but failing to offer up the obvious solution.

    An obvious solution, one of many. It's just possible that Schumer didn't suggest the legislative remedy yet because he knows that McConnell would make sure it never sees the light of day, as things stand now. This might, however, be a good time to draft an updated VRA, just so that we're ready when the time comes. The GOP's recent Healthcare debacle should be all the motivation we need to do that.

  10. [10] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Schumer's competence has both surprised and encouraged me. He held the caucus together against the GOP healthcare onslaught - something of a feat, considering how much criticism the ACA has received from both left and right in recent years.

    And somehow, Congress managed to shove the Russia-Iran sanctions bill that limited the president's power to fire the Special Prosecutor down Trump's throat, even convincing him that a veto was futile. That's legislative Jujitsu at its finest, and I hope that we see more of it.

  11. [11] 
    Paula wrote:

    [10] Balthasar: I've also been impressed by Schumer, and by the Dems' cohesion. I think -- and it's not surprising -- it took them awhile to find their feet and they made some bad calls initially -- approving Ben Carson, etc. But they then responded to the pushback from citizens who wanted them to hold firm, and they've been pretty solid ever since.

    Nancy Pelosi virtually always delivers on the House side -- kudos to her. Here's hoping they prevail in the upcoming budget battles.

  12. [12] 
    altohone wrote:

    Bleyd and Kick

    Hope you are both well.


  13. [13] 
    altohone wrote:


    CW was right.

    Actually, Dems should have had an updated VRA ready to go the day the ruling destroying it came down.


    Yes. Dems showing they are more right wing than Trump is a victory for the Democratic party top to bottom.


  14. [14] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Yes. Dems showing they are more right wing than Trump is a victory for the Democratic party top to bottom.

    And how, pray tell, does that qualify as 'more right wing than Trump'? Do you not agree that Russia's meddling in our election more than qualifies them for sanctions? Do you not agree that Trump had to be dissuaded from firing Mueller? First bipartisan thing the Congress has done in a while - that's a win in itself!

  15. [15] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Actually, Dems should have had an updated VRA ready to go the day the ruling destroying it came down.

    Let's see what the google has to say - oh, look:

    H.R.2978 - Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2017 filed 07/17/2017 by Rep. Terri Sewell of Alaska in the Judiciary Committee

    H.R.2867 - Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015
    same sponsors as above, Introduced 06/24/2015, Discharged 6/15/2016

    S.1659 - Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015
    filed 06/24/2015 by Sen. Patrick Leahy, VT.

    There was also a Voting Rights Amendment Act filed January 15, 2014 by sponsors Sensenbrenner, Leahy and Conyers.

    So no, Democrats haven't been sitting on their hands on this issue at all.

  16. [16] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Paula [11] Good point about Pelosi. I don't think that Dems are in as bad a shape as critics want to infer, i.e, this is a cycle, not a trend. In fact, the trend lines and issue polling all point in the other direction, toward more strength for the Democrats on all fronts in upcoming elections.

  17. [17] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Gosh that is good news that the Democrats are in good enough shape they can weather this "cycle" and keep offering us not as bad as the other team.

    That's what's been keeping me from voting for Democrats- not enough of the same old bag of shit!

  18. [18] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Personally, I think Trump chose to pardon Arpaio the way that he did -- foregoing the usual process and before Arpaio had served even a single day for a crime he confessed to being guilty of -- to send a message to those being investigated by Meueller: I am the only one who can protect you!

    Trump wanted it to be clear to all involved that he will reward the loyalty that is shown to him. Trump cannot allow Flynn, Manafort, Kushner, or his sons to put protecting themselves before protecting him.

    Trump doesn't trust anyone at this point and he's becoming more and more isolated : he has chosen not to attend events that the President typically hosts (the W.H. Correspondent's Dinner, the Kennedy Center Honors Gala, throwing out the first pitch at Washington Nationals ball game).

    Of course that might be because he wouldn't be able to guarantee that only cheering fans would be allowed in at those events, and Trumple-thin-skin cannot handle being boo'ed!

    Bannon is no longer around. Priebus is gone. Even the guy responsible for creating Trump's daily affirmations quit this past week. Trump's feeling all alone! Maybe little Donnie's looking into the eclipse was an attempt to blind himself so he can get out of this job?!?! It's a mad, mad world!

  19. [19] 
    TheStig wrote:


    "-- to send a message to those being investigated by Meueller: I am the only one who can protect you!"

    It might not have been smart to broadcast this message in the clear... it makes the case for obstruction of justice a lot more obvious. The Judicial Branch doesn't want to be neutered.

  20. [20] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Speaking of the missing 18 minutes from Elizabeth Warren's Netroots speech in the clip provided by Move On, how about we start humiliating Move On by comparing those missing 18 minutes to the missing minutes from Nixon's tape recordings?

    Explain to Move On how they, as Elizabeth Warren said, need to pick a side and how leaving out the 18 minutes shows they have picked the wrong side.

  21. [21] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    Here we are again, another week feeling like a month. I was shocked the other day by calls here in Canada for the removal of statues of Sir John A. MacDonald be reduced to scrap for integrating indigenous peoples of Canada into Canadian society, and few howls of state sanctioned genocide. (I loathe the word 'Indigenous' as the America's have no indigenous peoples, as they all travelled here from elsewhere!) Here in Kingston a tradition is observed, a few days before Sir John A's birthday, a group of our Mohawk brethren, from the nearby Tyendinaga reservation, hop in a car, head to Sir John A MacDonald park in the center of town and throw paint on his statue. They use acrylic paint and it's quietly hosed off...Symbolism recognised, statement understood and see you next year lads. Now that's how you throw a civilised protest.


  22. [22] 
    altohone wrote:


    Democrats being more in favor of international confrontation and economic warfare IS MORE RIGHT WING.
    Again the basics escape you.

    Reason is based on evidence.
    There isn't any actual evidence to support your meddling claim, so reasonable people should not agree with you.
    Of course, you have been informed and frequently reminded that I do not agree with your claim, so the question becomes why you would pretend it is unknown to you. What is your motivation?

    Creating conflict and advancing the right wing agenda in order to attack Trump is called shooting yourselves in the foot... but in order to grasp why, it requires a liberal/progressive/lefty point of view which the Democratic party and its defenders are incapable of embracing all too often.
    I'll spell it out for you.
    More gung ho than Trump is not progressive.

    And your praise for bipartisanship... in this case, Dems working with Repubs to advance the right wing agenda... is only a "win" if that is your goal.
    And it does seem to be your goal.


    So, what you're saying is that Schumer didn't even have to lift a finger to point to legislation to fix the VRA?
    He dropped the ball even worse than CW told us about.

    Dems did a horrible job of informing people of those efforts too. Clearly it wasn't just Schumer who failed to seize the perfect opportunity to inform and support the concept of justice in voting.

    Or perhaps they were intentionally keeping it quiet to support Schumer's brilliant strategy?

    “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs"
    - Chuck Schumer

    Just another one of the political idiots responsible for the dumpster fire that is the Democratic party.


  23. [23] 
    altohone wrote:




  24. [24] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Altohone (22,23)-
    As I said in the previous thread, unfortunately different people look at the same evidence and draw different conclusions.

    P.S.- Did you see any of my desperate pleas for signatures on the Ralph Nader petition? (see previous thread.)

  25. [25] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Democrats being more in favor of international confrontation and economic warfare IS MORE RIGHT WING. Again the basics escape you.

    To the contrary: diplomatic initiatives, including economic sanctions, are a rational alternative to physical confrontation and saber-rattling (the right wing's preferred negotiating tactic). You can argue about their purpose (and we will), but you'd have to place them somewhere in the middle of the confrontation scale. You could argue that is more rightist than assuming that Putin was changing voter rolls in Illinois in order to take the burden off of oppressed and overworked State employees.

    Of course, you have been informed and frequently reminded that I do not agree with your claim, so the question becomes why you would pretend it is unknown to you. What is your motivation?

    If you don't recognize bait when you see it, I can't help you.

    There isn't any actual evidence to support your meddling claim, so reasonable people should not agree with you.

    What are you talking about? A veto-proof majority of both houses of Congress just agreed with me, many from the President's own party. All of our intelligence agencies agree with me. All of the intelligence agencies of Europe agree with me. Private firms have examined the evidence, and agree with me. Or rather, based on the preponderance of the evidence, I agree with them.

    The real question is: why is the American far left defending the Putin regime? Why is Oliver Stone trying to paint this repressive dictator as an innocent, caught up in a series of Unfortunate Events?

    Paula and I aren't the first progressives to notice and be concerned about the odd bipartisan congruence of the far left and far right lately. Liberalism is supposed to be about tolerance and liberty, not antisemitism and suppression.

    To this end, the pragmatic progressives that you've derided as 'neo-liberal' have actually remained more faithful to liberal ideals than some who fashion themselves these days to be leftists. Your assertion that these two wings of the left are fundamentally incompatible is fundamentally self-defeating, as the American system isn't designed to be changed in the dramatic manner you seek; it is rather constructed to accommodate legislative compromise that leads to fundamental change, the most radical of which, Constitutional change, requires the consent of two-thirds of the legislature and two thirds of the States.

    When the far left and the mainstream left work together, as they did to establish the modern safety net, the Voting Rights Act and other progressive legislation, everyone benefits. When the far left instead teams up with the far right in a fit of pique, or purity, we end up with abominations like the Tea Party and Trump.

    Had Hillary been supported, rather than rejected by the left, we'd be arguing right now about the parameters of left-friendly policy initiatives like a rise in the Minimum Wage, rather than debating the prospect of supporting Putin's brutal bombing campaign in Syria. You know that's true.

  26. [26] 
    Paula wrote:

    [25] Balthasar: Yep!

    Well said.

  27. [27] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    I was shocked the other day by calls here in Canada for the removal of statues of Sir John A. MacDonald be reduced to scrap for integrating indigenous peoples of Canada into Canadian society, and few howls of state sanctioned genocide. (I loathe the word 'Indigenous' as the America's have no indigenous peoples, as they all travelled here from elsewhere!)

    I'm not sure what to make of this as it's hard to detect tone in our little virtual reality here. But, it sounds like you think our first prime minister integrated indigenous peoples into Canadian society and that state-sanctioned genocide never happened here.

    It's pretty clear how you feel about the word 'indigenous' with the implication that the original inhabitants of North America have no inherent land, treaty or aboriginal rights.

    Of course, you would be quite wrong, on both counts.

    Here in Kingston a tradition is observed, a few days before Sir John A's birthday, a group of our Mohawk brethren, from the nearby Tyendinaga reservation, hop in a car, head to Sir John A MacDonald park in the center of town and throw paint on his statue. They use acrylic paint and it's quietly hosed off...Symbolism recognised, statement understood and see you next year lads. Now that's how you throw a civilised protest.

  28. [28] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Here in Kingston a tradition is observed, a few days before Sir John A's birthday, a group of our Mohawk brethren, from the nearby Tyendinaga reservation, hop in a car, head to Sir John A MacDonald park in the center of town and throw paint on his statue. They use acrylic paint and it's quietly hosed off...Symbolism recognised, statement understood and see you next year lads. Now that's how you throw a civilised protest.

    Sorry for the confusion in my last comment - the above quote is taken directly from JTCanuck's comment and was mistakenly added to my response above.

    As for the quote itself - particularly symbolism recognized, statement understood and see you next year lads. Now that's how you throw a civilized protest - it sounds an awful lot like what is not being recognized here is the fact that Canada's aboriginal peoples (Metis, Inuit and First Nations) have many legitimate grievances that have yet to be recognized by successive non-aboriginal Canadian governments despite the constitutional protection of these rights.

  29. [29] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I sure could use an edit out of the last paragraph in comment #27 ... please and thank-you to our dear editor. :)

  30. [30] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Maybe JTC means that human beings originated in Africa so there are no indigenous people to North America because we all originally came from Africa.
    This would be why he doesn't like the word, but not an explanation of the rest of the comment.

  31. [31] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    We'll have to wait for an explanation, Don ... but, I'm thinking that this may be a case of believing the refrain that 'all Canadians are equal' and if that is what was implied, then I am looking forward to a great debate with JTCanuck (not to be confused with JFC!)

  32. [32] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    Debate all you like with the English language, Indigenous means originally from. It's established scientific fact that all the peoples of the Americas came across the 'Bering Sea land mass' some 20-30k years ago...Monty Python might have called them, 'Bering Sea Pedestrians'. I, myself, have no angst where Native people are concerned, I have many friends within the local reservation, and indeed my father lives there. We go, community-minded and harvest wild rice (legal only for Natives to do), we observe their rites and honour their past.

    My only point was, when the messy confederate memorial statue issue takes on a Canadian face, we tend to take a slightly different route to statement.


  33. [33] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    That doesn't explain very much.

  34. [34] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Do you believe that the original inhabitants of NA have certain and inalienable - not to mention inherent - aboriginal, land and treaty rights that have yet to be recognized by Canadian governments?

  35. [35] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    What is LL&P?

  36. [36] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    James T Canuck

    Debate all you like with the English language...

    No, I think that is what you do.

  37. [37] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    live long and prosper

  38. [38] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Does that mean that the original inhabitant Native people were visited in the past by Vulcans?

  39. [39] 
    neilm wrote:

    Boltansky said that if there is a shutdown, “It will confirm one of the market’s fears that the Republicans are not a political party but a government coalition made up of leadership loyalists, conservatives, and moderates.”

    Isn’t that obvious already?

    Nonetheless, Boltansky added: “If you have that dynamic, how can you get anything done legislatively?”

    Isn’t the inability to get anything done also obvious?

    From a financial blogger I follow, who, let's just say, isn't a Hillary fan.

    All the Democrats need to split the right wing into bickering sub-groups is to co-opt their message: "I'm for the small guy."

    For Pete's sake, the Democrats actually are for the small guy.

  40. [40] 
    neilm wrote:
  41. [41] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    For Pete's sake, the Democrats actually are for the small guy.

    Exactly. So, what is their freakin' problem, then??

  42. [42] 
    neilm wrote:

    Exactly. So, what is their freakin' problem, then??

    The small guys, in enough numbers, are convinced they need to lower taxes on the wealthy to be better off?

    Does anybody believe that enough Americans are that stupid?

    No. This big problem is the Gini Co-efficient - the Democrats are the "science believers" whose education has allowed them to thrive - and the small guy thinks that it is has his/her expense and somebody is getting the promised American Dream and it isn't them. And when immigrants get the American Dream, it hurts even more.

  43. [43] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    The small guys, in enough numbers, are convinced they need to lower taxes on the wealthy to be better off?

    Guess which Obama administration cabinet member did the most to debunk that favourite theory of the Republican cult of economic failure?

    The Democrats have a very persuasive argument to make on this issue and all the others. Why don't they make it?

  44. [44] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    I love discussion, debate sounds like verbal adventurism... [36]...Liz. I'm less concerned about the Canadian experience, than that of our American cousins. We hug, not shrug.

  45. [45] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    To clarify, I'm English born, Canadian proud and presently ashamed by populism.


  46. [46] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    somebody is getting the promised American Dream and it isn't them. And when immigrants get the American Dream, it hurts even more.

    Yeah, but be honest: no one is complaining about Canadians pouring across the border. It's not about immigrants, it's about dark immigrants. One of the few good things I have to say about Bush is that I think that he was honestly surprised that his party turned on him on the immigration issue - he was never really aware of the undercurrent of racism in his party, or like so many of his class, he thought it was something to be 'managed' rather than dealt with.

    Can't say that about Trump. As clueless as he is, I think he deliberately courted the bigot vote from the very first day of his campaign. And when you think about it, the events following Charlottesville were the first time since that he was really chastened for it. Some thought that when he pushed Bannon out it was a sign that he understood his mistake, but then he turned right around and pardoned the bigot sheriff, so he obviously didn't learn dick.

  47. [47] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Liz [43] The Democrats have a very persuasive argument to make on this issue and all the others. Why don't they make it?

    We try Liz, we really do. But by the time it's filtered through the Trump noise, and the media narrative, and the backwash of the internet, it's reduced to gruel. You're absolutely right that Biden had a talent for cutting through the filter and delivering the message intact. I think Sherrod Brown is also good at delivering that message, and think that he'd have been a far stronger pick for VP than Kaine on that basis. My hope is that he's able to assume more of a leadership role as we approach 2020.

  48. [48] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    You're absolutely right that Biden had a talent for cutting through the filter and delivering the message intact.

    So did someone else in the cabinet, namely the treasury secretary, Tim Geithner. As hard as it is for most people to believe, it was Geithner who spoke the most forcefully and eloquently about the dangers of the Republican cult of economic failure.

    The only problem was that no one was listening to him because they assumed that all of the fake news about him was true.

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