ChrisWeigant.com

Friday Talking Points [456] -- Rex Says What Everyone's Been Thinking

[ Posted Friday, October 6th, 2017 – 17:27 PDT ]

It's getting kind of hard to understand why Rex Tillerson is still secretary of state. He just had an extremely rough week, and that's even without counting the breaking news that he had previously called President Trump not just a "moron" but a "fucking moron." It's easy to get distracted by such salacious news (especially when Tillerson pointedly refused to deny the "moron" part of it), but even before that juicy leak, Tillerson was roundly being ridiculed for, once again, how his boss snarkily contradicted and belittled him on Twitter. Last weekend, Trump destroyed Tillerson's efforts to bring North Korea to the diplomatic table, tweeting that Tillerson was "wasting his time."

This prompted Dana Milbank to write the funniest bit of satire we've read in a while -- and this was before the "moron" story broke:

See Rex.

Rex is a big dog. Rex is the top dog. Rex has a good job. Rex can fly! Rex has a jet. Fly, Rex, fly. Rex flies to other lands. Rex sits. Rex shakes. Rex speaks. When Rex speaks, Rex thinks he speaks for the U.S.A.

See Donald. Donald owns Rex. Rex is Donald's dog. Donald is loud. Donald is big. Donald is bigger than Rex. Donald is mean to Rex. When Rex speaks, Donald tweets. Donald tweets like a bird. Tweet, Donald, tweet. Donald's tweets hurt Rex. Donald says: Bad, Rex! Do not speak, Rex. Rex, you do not speak for the U.S.A. Only Donald speaks for the U.S.A.

Rex rolls over. Roll, Rex, roll. Good boy. Rex tells Donald he will not be a bad dog again. Rex tries. Rex tries hard. Rex tries very hard. But then Rex forgets. Rex thinks he speaks for the U.S.A. again. Donald gets mad again. Donald tweets again. Rex rolls over again.

That's not exactly the level of respect the secretary of state is supposed to portray to the world, to put it mildly. Then came his hastily-arranged news conference, after the "moron" story broke. Tillerson forcefully denied that he had ever even considered quitting, but when asked to refute the "moron" charge, Tillerson completely dodged, calling it "petty nonsense" that he was "not going to deal with." This prompted some further satire from the Washington Post, in the form of a "statement" from Tillerson, mocking his presser performance:

Hello. I am making this statement of my own free will. (blinks rapidly) (keeps blinking) I AM NOT IN PAIN OR ANY SORT OF TROUBLE. I never even thought of leaving, and not because if I had thought it, Donald Trump -- a good, smart man, the best of men -- would have known at once and sent me to the cornfield.

Derrick.

That's not a code word that I say to beg someone to come rescue me from this nightmare of my own creation. It's just fun to say into a camera.

How could I leave Donald Trump, whose agenda makes total sense and which I fully support? It has a wisdom I don't see because my mind is too small and foolish. Donald is the light of the world. He is wearing lots of clothes and they are the best, most imperial clothes, and I just wish I could see them....

Heh. But while Tillerson is currently the laughingstock of Washington, the more important point is that he already is the laughingstock of the entire world. What foreign leader trusts that Tillerson actually speaks for Trump these days? He'd have to be an utter... well, you know.

Will Trump fire Tillerson soon? Nobody really knows. But, unsurprisingly, Trump is annoyed, if only for the reason that Tillerson is on television and Trump is not, as Axios reported: "After what Trump considered a strong trip to Vegas, he seethed when he got back and saw Tillerson's gaffe dominating cable-news coverage. Everywhere he flipped, there was Tillerson's face instead of his." Refusing to deny he had called Trump a moron, no less.

In other moronic news (which has to be the most amusing segue we've ever been able to type), Donald Trump flew down to Puerto Rico to enjoy himself. No, really! At the end of the trip, Trump actually said "it was really something that I enjoyed very much." Not so enjoyable for the people still digging out from Hurricane Maria, one of whom took the time to stand by Trump's motorcade route holding a sign which said: "You are a bad hombre."

But Trump wasn't satisfied with just enjoying himself. He actually told one family he met (in one of the richest neighborhoods in San Juan) to "have a good time." You just can't make this stuff up, folks.

As if the island hadn't had enough of large masses of hot air already, Trump took the time during his visit to praise himself -- and everyone who sufficiently praised Trump -- in effusive terms. He belittled the storm's damage, saying it wasn't "a real catastrophe" like Hurricane Katrina. He once again blamed Puerto Rico for causing him hardship, telling them "you've thrown our budget a little out of whack." This prompted Chuck Schumer to respond: "Stop blaming Puerto Rico for the storm that devastated their shores."

Trump, earlier in the week, appeared mystified by the concept of Puerto Rico being an island, in a way not seen in the White House since George Dubya's time: "This is an island surrounded by water -- big water, ocean water." Um, yeah, sure. Pretty much all islands are surrounded by water, Mister President -- in fact, it's right there in the definition of "island."

But back to his visit:

At one brief stop at a church, Trump told the gathering that they no longer needed flashlights, and he tossed rolls of paper towels into the crowd as if they were basketballs. He took a helicopter tour, visited a ship, posed for selfies -- and then left an hour earlier than scheduled.

Trump told the crowd "Flashlights, you don't need 'em anymore," apparently unaware that 95 percent of the population didn't have their electricity restored yet.

The only thing Trump did manage to do right during his visit was to not publicly argue with the mayor of San Juan, who had earned his ire late last week. Immediately after Maria hit, Donald Trump spent four days at his golf resort in New Jersey, without uttering a single peep about the response effort. It wasn't until he returned to the White House and saw the news reports on Monday that Trump even realized the extent of the disaster. Last Friday, Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz had had enough of the inaction:

I am asking the president of the United States to make sure somebody is in charge that is up to the task of saving lives. I am done being polite, I am done being politically correct. I am mad as hell. We are dying here. If we don't get the food and the water into the people's hands, we are going to see something close to a genocide. I am begging, begging anyone who can hear us to save us from dying. We are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency.

Trump responded with mean tweets, of course, slamming Cruz and all Puerto Ricans (who "want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort"). But when the two met, they were civil to each other during Trump's visit. Later on, however, Cruz chimed in with more criticism, saying Trump had been "insulting to the people of Puerto Rico" by "throwing paper towels and throwing provisions at people."

Russel L. Honoré, the retired general who cleaned up George W. Bush's mess after Katrina, also had some choice words for President Trump: "The mayor's living on a cot, and I hope the president has a good day at golf."

However, none of this made much news back home, because the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history happened in Las Vegas. The National Rifle Association even took a rare stance in favor of increasing regulations on the "bump stock" that the shooter used to essentially turn a standard semiautomatic weapon into a fully-automatic machine gun. That's a stunning stance for the N.R.A. to take, so perhaps this time won't be like all the others, where nothing ever gets done in Congress on the touchy issue of gun safety laws.

This is already too long, so we'll just quickly whip through a few other news items from the past week before we move on to the awards and the talking points.

In obscene abuse of taxpayer money for ritzy private flight news, we have cabinet members Elaine Chao taking trips aboard Gulfstream jets "including during day trips to cities about an hour's flight from Washington, as well as longer official sojourns to France and Italy for which flights cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars," and Steve Mnuchin, who has used military aircraft seven times since March at a cost of more than $800,000. Democrats in Congress are even asking about Kellyanne Conway's use of private planes. Oh, and the Secret Service has spent over $137,000 on "golf cart rentals" during Trump's frequent trips to his resorts in New Jersey and Florida. So this story is still flying along, so to speak. The Washington Post even put up a helpful page to track all the private flights from Trump advisors, since it's getting hard to keep them all straight.

For the first time in seven years, the landmark Obama job creation record streak has ended. The jobs report from last month showed a loss of 33,000 jobs, but it really isn't fair to lay this at Trump's feet, since the biggest reason was the horrendous hurricane season this year.

The Trump administration just made it a whole lot easier for companies to deny birth control in their employees' healthcare, putting another nail in the coffin of the "Ivanka won't allow her daddy to stomp all over women's rights" trope. Meanwhile, Jeff Sessions reversed the federal government's stance on protecting transgender rights.

We're glad to see the media finally picking up on the most obvious example of how Trump's tax cuts would affect Trump's taxes, since we've been trying to draw attention to it for a while now. From a Washington Post story, the lead item of how Trump's taxes would be affected:

Mr. Trump in particular might benefit from the elimination of the alternative minimum tax (A.M.T.), which prevents taxpayers from using deductions and loopholes to avoid paying at least a minimum amount to the federal government.... Mr. Trump’s return from [2005] was leaked in March, and it showed that the A.M.T. obliged him to pay $31.3 million more in taxes that he otherwise would have.

Donald Trump will reportedly announce next week that he's decertifying the Iran nuclear weapons deal, but we'll deal with that when it happens next week.

What else? Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of the release of the Billy Bush Access Hollywood tape, which proved just how offensive Trump can be towards women.

And, of course, we must end with a big Requiescat In Pace for Tom Petty, who will be missed. His death broke a lot of hearts, so to speak.

 

Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week

Before we get to the main award, we have two Honorable Mention awards to hand out. The first doesn't technically apply, since Supreme Court justices are supposed to be above partisan politics, but we didn't know where else to stick this little gem, so here goes.

Elena Kagan, during oral arguments on a case involving the police response to a house party in Washington D.C., made an interesting semi-confession. Talking about parties she had attended "long, long ago," Kagan admitted that "marijuana was maybe present at those parties." Gotta love that coy "maybe" in there, but if she's saying what we think she's saying, then it's comforting to know at least one justice has experienced weed in the past.

Our second award is more clear-cut, since it is completely political. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, whose purpose is to get Democrats elected to the House, is now running ads slamming Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell over healthcare. From the ad's script:

Paul Ryan and Washington's establishment Republicans, catering to drug companies and special interests. Coming after your health care. Increasing your out-of-pocket costs. A devastating age tax if you’re 50 or older. Ending guaranteed coverage for pre-existing conditions.

This is the way to slam Republicans on their own votes, and we encourage such efforts during the whole midterm election season. Turn about, after all, is fair play. Republicans have successfully demonized Nancy Pelosi, but their own leaders have massive weaknesses as well. Ryan is the weakest of these, and it's about time Democrats made some political hay at his expense.

But our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award goes to none other than "Monopoly Man." It could be argued that he isn't technically eligible for the award, but our ears are deaf to such arguments.

During a hearing on the Equifax data breach in the Senate Banking Committee this week, a man showed up dressed as Monopoly's Rich Uncle Pennybags. He sat behind the witness table in the audience, occasionally twirling his white moustache, blotting his forehead with what is assumably a large-denomination fake dollar bill, and playing with his monocle. The photos and videos of his antics are absolutely priceless.

The stunt was launched by Public Citizen (the organization originally founded by Ralph Nader), and was a brilliant example of effective political theater. The point of the stunt: "forced arbitration gives Equifax a monopoly over our justice system." In a press release (attached to a photo of another member of Public Citizen in the hilarious costume), they explained further:

Forced arbitration gives companies like Wells Fargo and Equifax a monopoly over our system of justice by blocking consumers' access to the courts. The [Congressional Review Act] resolution striking down the arbitration rule is a virtual get-out-of-jail-free card for companies engaged in financial scams. It should not pass go.

Rich Uncle Pennybags, when contacted afterwards, admitted that he "made the Equifax folks around me pretty uncomfortable," but he surprised everyone by not causing a commotion at all, content to merely make a statement quietly from his seat. Although, afterwards, they did try to "chase down [the Equifax CEO] as he was leaving the hearing in an effort to give him a bag of money," but were unsuccessful. "He kept walking... forcefully."

So to Public Citizen and for all who were involved in the "Monopoly Man" Rich Uncle Pennybags, well done! This was a brilliant way to shine a spotlight on a little-noticed hearing, and a superb bit of political theater. Even though the organization is non-partisan, we still have no hesitation awarding them our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award.

[Congratulate Public Citizen via their web page, to let them know you appreciate their efforts.]

 

Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week

We really struggled with our only candidate for the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week, but in the end decided not to award it to Representative Linda T. Sánchez.

Sánchez is the fifth-highest-ranking member of the House Democratic leadership team. In a yet-to-be-aired interview on C-SPAN, she called for Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and James Clyburn to all step down from their leadership positions in the Democratic House caucus.

Now, we've heard the cases, both pro and con, for keeping Nancy Pelosi on as leader. On the plus side, Pelosi is the best Democratic House leader we've seen in a long, long time -- she does a masterful job of keeping her caucus together on key votes, whether in the majority or the minority. That skill is crucial for Democrats, especially in the House. Pelosi is also a formidable fundraiser. But on the minus side, she is an absolute lightning rod for political attacks by the other side. This is because she's not only the best Democratic leader we've seen in a long, long time, she's the only such leader the House has had in a long, long time. She's been around so long that most Americans know her name. This is why anti-Pelosi ads are effective. If she stepped down, a relative unknown wouldn't generate the same amount of fury from the Republican base -- there'd have to be a learning-curve period.

But for Pelosi stepping down to have any positive effect, she'd have to pretty much do it right now -- before the election campaign season gets underway. But Sánchez backed off such a suggestion, saying "the leadership change did not need to happen immediately, but by after next year's elections." This would defeat the whole point, it seems, which is the real reason we considered Sánchez for the MDDOTW award. Why do such a political move on a timetable that won't help you out politically, after all?

But in the end, we decided that that wasn't a good enough reason. Perhaps Sánchez was just being polite (that remark about the timing was not a direct quote from her, rather a quote from the article about the upcoming interview program). She did try to deflect the issue away from age, pointing instead to "seniority," but that's really just another word for the same thing.

Reasonable Democrats can disagree about whether Pelosi should step down or not, which is why we ultimately decided not to award the MDDOTW this week. It's disappointing for Pelosi fans to hear, but it's not disappointing to all Democrats, some of whom share the same opinion.

As always, if anyone has any other nominees for the award, please don't hesitate to let me know in the comments.

 

Friday Talking Points

Volume 456 (10/6/17)

Another mixed bag this week, with a bit of pure snark at the end, just because.

So let's just dive right in, shall we?

 

1
   Hypocrisy, thy name is...

A continuing series!

"In the latest revelation that Republicans produce more than their fair share of flaming hypocrites, Representative Tim Murphy was forced to resign his seat in Congress this week. Murphy, a staunchly anti-abortion Republican, apparently thinks nobody should be able to get abortions... except his mistress, of course. She berated him in a text for having 'zero issue posting your pro-life stance all over the place when you had no issue asking me to abort our unborn child just last week when we thought that was one of the options.' Murphy essentially then used the plea of rank hypocrisy in response, blaming all the anti-abortion statements on his staff: 'I've never written them. Staff does them. I read them and winced. I told staff don't write any more.' About that staff -- some in Washington are even saying that it was his tyrannical chief of staff that convinced Paul Ryan and other senior Republicans that Murphy had to go. Murphy's chief of staff reportedly: 'regularly engaged in brutal verbal abuse of lower-ranking aides, from calling aides "worthless" and their work "garbage" to asking derisively, "Do you or do you not have a f---ing college degree?"' So maybe it was his total hypocrisy on abortion, or maybe it was because he ran his office in tyrannical fashion -- either way, I'm glad he'll soon be gone."

 

2
   Down the memory hole (1)

Time for an Orwellian review (part one).

"It's a good thing journalists are on their toes with the Trump administration, because otherwise they'd miss it when an executive department is ordered by the Ministry of Truth to send something down the memory hole. FEMA attempted to do this this week, removing drinking water and electricity statistics from its web page on how Puerto Rico is recovering from Hurricane Maria. That's a pretty Orwellian solution to the problem of your own incompetence, to put it mildly. When the story broke, they were shamed into putting the figures back up on their web page, thankfully. And the public can always check the full story on the status.pr web page that Puerto Rico put up to measure the recovery. As of today, 90 percent of Puerto Ricans still don't have electricity. Trump may have moved on from his insufficient disaster relief effort, but the people of Puerto Rico have not -- and they can't just be wiped off FEMA's website in the hopes everyone will forget about them."

 

3
   Down the memory hole (2)

At least in part 1, the shaming worked.

"The Treasury Department is also getting in on the memory hole action. Even though their archives of policy documents go back over four decades, one particular paper just disappeared from their website. This was done for a purpose, so that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin can just flat-out lie about corporate income taxes. The paper in question came to the conclusion that 82 percent of corporate taxes affect the shareholders, while only 18 percent of the burden is borne by the workers. Mnuchin has recently publicly flipped those numbers, claiming workers bear up to 80 percent of the corporate tax burden. When the truth is inconvenient, just make it go away so you can lie like a rug about it to the public! How convenient! Big Brother would have been proud indeed."

 

4
   About that House budget...

The House just passed a budget bill. It has all sorts of ugly numbers in it. Thanks to Senator Brian Schatz for pointing out a few of these, in a tweet with a photo of the actual numbers involved:

This budget document shows Senate R's are voting to cut Medicaid by 1 trillion, Medicare by 473 billion. Pass it on.

 

5
   Real fake news

Unlike how Trump uses the term ("fake news is news I don't like"), some fake news from years ago just got "realitied." (Note: If that's not a word, then it should be. Hmmph.)

"Remember when Republicans were up in arms because -- as they put it -- Barack Obama was siccing the I.R.S. on conservative political groups, out of spite and malice? Even back then, Democrats protested that liberal groups were also targeted, because it was the job of the I.R.S. to certify such groups. Turns out the Democrats were right. The Treasury inspector general just released a report showing that while groups with names containing phrases like 'Patriot' or 'Tea Party' were indeed scrutinized, the I.R.S. also scrutinized groups with affiliation with the defunct ACORN, as well as those containing phrases such as 'Progressive,' 'Green Energy,' 'Medical Marijuana,' and 'Occupy.' Fake news, meet reality."

 

6
   Fake fake news

This one is even more pronounced, because it directly "realities" the claims of fake news Trump has always made.

"Donald Trump this week tweeted that the Senate Intelligence Committee should, quote, look into the Fake News Networks in OUR country to see why so much of our news is just made-up FAKE!, unquote. What triggered this tantrum was the announcement by the committee that they had reached consensus that the intelligence community's assessment of Russian hacking during last year's election was to be trusted. Russia did indeed meddle in our election, period. That is the reality, to put it another way. The committee did admit that 'the issue of collusion is still open,' but said that it had now concluded definitively that the hacking had taken place -- something that Trump has always called 'fake news,' all evidence to the contrary. So if the intelligence committee really wanted to investigate some fake news, they could always start with pretty much everything the president's ever tweeted."

 

7
   Thank you, Rex

OK, this last one is just snarky for the sake of being snarky, we fully admit.

"Finally, one sane adult in Washington has said exactly what everyone else has been thinking all along. Rex Tillerson's characterization of Donald Trump -- with or without the expletive -- speaks directly to what millions of Americans truly believe. Rex speaks for me, whether he wants to admit it or not. Maybe after he's fired we'll hear his honest assessment of the man in the Oval Office? There's one tell-all book I'd certainly buy! In the meantime, thank you Rex, for saying what we all have been thinking for a long time now."

 

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

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

 

40 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [456] -- Rex Says What Everyone's Been Thinking”

  1. [1] 
    Paula wrote:

    Trump's approval rating dropped 5 percentage points in August to a new low of 32%, according to the latest IBD/TIPP Poll, with 59% saying they disapprove of the job he's doing as president.

    http://www.investors.com/politics/trump-approval-hits-new-low-of-32-as-support-from-his-base-slips-ibdtipp-poll/

    Puerto Rico is such a debacle -- I'm thinking that's the big driver, although it could anything at this point. The "Trump/kids lying about real estate sales" thing that was dropped via a bribe to prosecutor, or the "everyone is using private email in his corrupt/idiotic cabinet" or "Price's phone has been compromised since December" or "Bigshots all wasting taxpayer dollars flying to vacations and fundraisers" or "Revoking birth control" or geez, my hands are tired. This incredible disaster of a corrupt administration and all the ugly sludge it unleashed among the worst of the worst of Americans. Why not have 60 dead and 500 wounded? Maybe this weekend we'll top it coz we're breaking records, institutions, lives, countries…perhaps we have a plague to look forward to. Blotus will explain it was the biggest plague ever!

    Sigh.

  2. [2] 
    Paula wrote:

    Kelly's phone, not Price's --

  3. [3] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    The island of Puerto Rico has a larger population of American citizens than 21 states — more citizens than most major US cities (LA and NYC are the only two with larger populations). Yet PR has no true representation in our Government. They are American citizens who are not allowed to vote in the presidential elections as long as they live on the island. Trump didn’t have to fake like he cared about the people on the island because he doesn’t need their votes!

    If you or I moved to the island, we’d lose our vote. That makes no sense to me — that our address should determine whether we can vote or not! (I could move to China and still be able to do an absentee vote from my home state, but not if I moved to PR!). Puerto Rican’s deserve the right to vote for who should fill the office of the President. It’s time to toss the Electoral College and give every citizen a voice in determining who should lead our nation!

  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Does anyone know what day it is today?

    It's National Manufacturing Day!

    And, the manufacturers love Donald Trump. Why is that?

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Thank God for Russel Brand. I love that guy!

  6. [6] 
    MHorton wrote:

    @Listen They generally don't seem to mind too much, if their voting record is any indication.

    I don't even know if they've had a referendum on actually becoming a state yet, but I can't imagine it would win a strong majority. In 2012 it was barely a majority that wanted to become a state. And I'm not big on forcing statehood on 10 million unwilling people.

    And I kind of get why you can't vote if your only residence is in PR. Because you don't pay taxes when you live there, you don't get to vote when you live there. I'd bet you pay more taxes living overseas as a citizen than you do in PR.

    You're right it's pretty weird, but it makes sense in a way.

  7. [7] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Liz-
    It's funny to hear a woman ask a question about manufacturing. :D

  8. [8] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    CW-
    I have to once again nominate you for most disappointing- but this time for a different (but related) reason.

    You put Pelosi's fundraising on the plus side when it should be on the minus side. The Big Money she raised for the Democrats is why it's way past time to jettison Pelosi and all the Big Money Democrats from the Party.

  9. [9] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Don, that is SUCH a sexist comment.

  10. [10] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    There is a better reason to jettison Pelosi.

    She still doesn't get what needs to be done about guns in America. She's fiddling around the edges while Rome burns, you know. Like most of her fellow pols and many of her fellow citizens.

  11. [11] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Don, there were a lot of moronic women standing behind the oval office desk when the president signed the manufacturing proclamation, smiling and looking quite content with the situation in front of them.

    But, it was the men in this crowd that swooned over him.

    Sad.

  12. [12] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Liz (9)-
    Yes, it was.

    note: see Cam Newton

  13. [13] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Don, I always think of Bill Maher at times like this and his once favourite phrase ... the feminization of America.

    I prefer 'the hypersensitization of America' because it's not ALL the fault of the fairer sex. But, this comments section does seem to prove otherwise at every possible opportunity ... if you know what I mean and I'm sure that you do. :)

  14. [14] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Don,

    See Cam Newton.

    Indeed. How to sound like an idiot. :)

  15. [15] 
    John M wrote:

    Listen wrote:

    "If you or I moved to the island, we’d lose our vote. That makes no sense to me — that our address should determine whether we can vote or not!" "Puerto Rican’s deserve the right to vote for who should fill the office of the President. It’s time to toss the Electoral College and give every citizen a voice in determining who should lead our nation!"

    While I don't disagree with everything you said, it actually does make perfect sense given the way the total American system has always been set up. If you are the resident of an American territory, you are subject to the total control and at the complete whim of Congress, who has the ultimate governing authority over your territory. It is only when your area becomes a state and you attain local sovereignty that you also get full voting rights.

    There are two well established paths for Puerto Rico to change their current situation. One is to vote fully and unequivocally by a substantial majority in a referendum in favor of statehood, something that they have never as yet been able to accomplish. That is the crucial first step before they can even begin to petition Congress for a change in political status.

    The other is to change the U.S. Constitution, as was done to give residents of Washington D.C. the right to vote for President, though they still don't have any voting representation in Congress. The same thing, a constitutional amendment, would have to be done to do away with the Electoral College. The amendment route in and of itself is a daunting task, made deliberately difficult by design.

    In reality, for Puerto Rico to be able to vote for President, it's probably going to require at least 60 percent of the island's residents and 60 percent of Americans on the mainland, to be in favor of such a change, before any movement at all on the issue begins to happen.

  16. [16] 
    John M wrote:

    Elizabeth wrote:

    "She still doesn't get what needs to be done about guns in America. She's fiddling around the edges while Rome burns, you know. Like most of her fellow pols and many of her fellow citizens."

    While I tend to agree somewhat, I also have to think she is also a realist and looking at what is practical and politically possible overall both for her party and for America.

    As we all know, when it comes to guns, ownership and regulation, America is hopelessly divided almost right down the middle. Until some kind of broad consensus is reached about what to do that has overwhelming support, nothing is going to be possible to get done. That is the way America is designed and set up. Public opinion on an issue has to reach a political critical mass, so to speak. We aren't there yet, except for maybe on the single issue of background checks, that's all. And even then, as we have seen, a wealthy well connected minority can still thwart change for a substantial amount of time until the tidal wave of public opinion just becomes too great to hold things back, or the opposition becomes to disorganized, or weak or dispirited to carry on.

  17. [17] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    John,

    Leadership is needed in this situation, as in so many others.

    What does it mean to lead?

  18. [18] 
    John M wrote:

    Elizabeth wrote:

    "Leadership is needed in this situation, as in so many others.

    What does it mean to lead?"

    It takes an authoritative personality to lead and really effect change. A Martin Luther King on Civil Rights, a Gandhi on Independence, a Nelson Mandela on justice, a John Kennedy on politics, a Princess Diana on landmines, etc. I don't even remotely see anyone like that on gun violence yet.

  19. [19] 
    John M wrote:

    It also has to be the right time and place. M.L. King worked in the 1950's and 60's but probably would have died and failed in the 1800's.

  20. [20] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    If now isn't the right time and America isn't the right place for leadership on gun violence, then ...

  21. [21] 
    John M wrote:

    Elizabeth wrote:

    "If now isn't the right time and America isn't the right place for leadership on gun violence, then ..."

    America is definitely the right place, sine we are the one who has th problem. Other nations, like Australia, have already solved their problem.

    But, if after 20 children in an elementary school got shot to death was not the right time, then what happened in Las Vegas is certainly not going to be the defining moment for action right now either.

    It might even take a repeal of the 2nd amendment for anything to really happen. Which is unlikely.

    The reality is that about 40 percent of Americans are passionate about their guns and are largely single issue voters on that matter to the exclusion of everything else.

    As long as that passion holds true, nothing really meaningful will likely ever change.

  22. [22] 
    neilm wrote:

    Landing On The Sun

    Kim Jong-Un announced at a news conference today that North Korea would be sending a man to the sun within ten years!

    A reporter said - "But the sun is too hot how can your man land on the sun?” There was a stunned silence. Nobody knew how to react. Kim Jong-Un quietly answered, "We will land at night”. The gathering and everyone in North Korea watching on television broke into thunderous applause.

    Back in Washington, Donald Trump and his entourage were watching the news conference When Trump heard what Kim said, he sneered - "What an idiot. Everybody knows there’s no sun at night.” His cabinet and everyone working in the White House broke into thunderous applause.

  23. [23] 
    neilm wrote:

    ... except for Rex Tillerson who said something under his breathe that nobody else was meant to hear.

  24. [24] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Just saw where VP Pence protested the NFL players protest by leaving the Colts vs. 49’ers game after the national anthem ended — at the request of Pres. Trump! So this was a staged event by our leaders that cost the tax payers how much money???

  25. [25] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Neilm [22]

    (Thunderous applause!)

  26. [26] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    So, under the category: What stupid thing did Trump do today?

    Today, Mike Pence went to an Indianapolis Colts game, flying to Indy from Las Vegas, where he was consoling victims of the mass shooting, and unlike Trump, sorta trying to be sincere about it. When, during the National Anthem, a few players knelt, Pence left the stadium, tweeting just minutes later, "I left today's Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem."

    This was big breaking news, but only for about half an hour, after which Trump, apparently unable to stand having his VP have the spotlight for too long, tweeted:

    "I asked @VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country."

    To which Hawaii's Senator, Brian Schatz, replied:

    "Wait. This was orchestrated to make a point? That's not an inexpensive thing to do."

    As the Huffpo article that I got this story from points out, the prospect that someone would kneel at the Indy-49's game was an extremely likely event given the number of players on the 49ers team who kneel during the anthem before every game.

    “He knew our team has had the most players protest. He knew that we were probably going to do it again," said 49'ss safety Eric Reid, "So this looks like a PR stunt to me.” I wonder if Reid knew when he said that, that Trump had pretty much confirmed that it was.

    So as Pence flies literally into the sunset, one has to wonder: 1. Did Trump intend to take credit for that stunt all along, or did he just blunder into making Pence look foolish? 2. What instructions did Pence give the flight crew? "I'll be right back" is my guess. 3. Is this all part of a 'government frequent flier miles' scam on the part of the Trump administration? 'Cause they're racking up time in the friendly skies on the taxpayer's dime with the same intense enthusiasm that my grandmother used to fill up coupon books.

    Just sayin'...

  27. [27] 
    goode trickle wrote:

    In other news....

    SHS announced from the podium in a hastily announced press conference that Pence did not leave the stadium at Trumps direction due to protests.

    Pence was recalled to the WH to dialog with NASA about immediately commencing planning to land on the sun before the DPRK.

    SHS indicated Trump would be twittering " that we must not let "rocket man" win the race to land on the sun". Trump is of the mind that we can land on the big orb surrounded by light, big light, space light and show how great America was by landing on the sun.

  28. [28] 
    John M wrote:

    Neilm [22] ListenWhenYouHear [25]

    (Thunderous applause!)

    “So this is how liberty dies…with thunderous applause.” – Padmé Amidala - Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

    (Take that Michale!)

  29. [29] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    "This was big breaking news..."

    And therein lies the problem. A cheap PR stunt is considered big breaking news. I guess covering real news is just too hard.

    It's not that the media should ignore this kind of stuff, but it should be treated as the fluff and distraction that it is and balanced with an appropriate helping of real news.

    For example, instead of CW writing an article about this PR stunt along the lines of Balthasar's comment he should write a paragraph or two about that and fill the rest of the article with what the NFL players are protesting about.

    To do otherwise would be playing into Trump's plan to shift the focus away from the real issues.

  30. [30] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    By the way, CW, if you do write about Pence and the protests you should title it with my comment from a previous article:

    "Kaepernick 2020"

    And just for fun you could even throw another log on the fire with a mention of my anthem parody.

  31. [31] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    I am starting to think that Trump is going to change the meaning of “fake” to becoming slang for “truth”... kinda like how “bad” became slang for “good”. Because these days anytime I hear the president claim something being reported is “fake news”, I automatically assume that whatever it is is most likely going to be true.

  32. [32] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    John M [28]

    Well done!

  33. [33] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    But, if after 20 children in an elementary school got shot to death was not the right time, then what happened in Las Vegas is certainly not going to be the defining moment for action right now either.

    Well, when I said that if THIS isn't the right time, I was referring to the last several mass shootings and particularly the one at Sandy Hook.

    I have concluded that it will never be the right time in America.

  34. [34] 
    Kick wrote:

    neilm
    22

    Landing On The Sun

    Kim Jong-Un announced at a news conference today that North Korea would be sending a man to the sun within ten years!

    *LOL*

    And all this science, I don't understand
    It's just my job five days a week
    A rocket man, a rocket man

    ~ Elton John

  35. [35] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    OK, people...

    BEFORE I even read any of these comments, I have an announcement to make. It was a late-breaking story, which I often miss on Fridays, but I am hereby retroactively awarding this week's MDDOTW to Harvey Weinstein. He's not an elected official, but he's a known heavy Dem donor, so that's good enough. Again, the scandal really broke too late for me to notice when writing this, but he certainly seems to have earned his award.

    So, just in case anyone nominated him, I agree before the fact -- Harvey Weinstein is indeed this week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week.

    -CW

  36. [36] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Paula [1] -

    Can't say I disagree with any of that, in fact it was pretty well put, especially your list (right up to when your fingers got tired)...

    ListenWhenYouHear [3] -

    Yeah, but there's a positive side to that coin. Puerto Ricans can move to any US state, and as soon as they establish residency (rent an apartment, in other words), they can register to vote. So Maria might actually change the face of Florida's electorate next time around...

    PRcans are close to passing Cubans as FL's biggest Latino demographic. That's going to change things a bit!

    MHorton [6] -

    What PR needs is a "clean" vote on the issue of statehood. The past few referenda have been flawed in one way or another...

    And, now, the electorate on the island may have shifted in unpredictable ways.

    Don Harris [8] -

    Like it or not, one of the chief responsibilities of congressional partisan leaders is to raise a lot of money. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was a master at it, which is why she lasted so long. Again, I hear your feelings in railing at the system, but to deny it's part of the job description is to deny reality at this point. Fighting to change the reality is one thing, but denying it is another. I can't deny it, whether I hate it or not.

    John M [15] -

    Excellent comment. I agree totally with all the points you've made. The only change I'd make:

    One is to vote fully and unequivocally by a substantial majority in a referendum in favor of statehood

    Should really be:

    One is to vote fully and unequivocally by a substantial majority in a clearly-worded and unequivocal referendum in favor of statehood

    The ballot needs to be crystal-clear.

    But if PR did vote, even in the election you posit, do you really think Congress would let them become a state? It's their final say, and the GOP isn't going to go along with adding two presumably Democratic senators to the mix...

    We'd probably need a Dem Congress before they ever actually were accepted as a state...

    John M [18] -

    Just to be fair, considering the article I wrote on her today... how about Dianne Feinstein? She's been the leading Dem on gun control since the 90s, after all...

    Just curious...

    neilm [22] -

    OK, now that was funny!

    :-)

    ListenWhenYouHear [24] -

    Got up to see the 49ers lose again, but didn't catch the national anthem. Pence, according to many, cost over a million bucks for his political stance. Should have stayed, was an exciting game for Colts fans...

    Balthasar [26] -

    Nice "frequent flyers" quip. Haven't heard that yet, but it is brilliant. May have to use it myself soon...

    :-)

    Also, thanks for pointing out that even the football players could see that it was nothing more than a PR stunt. Good point.

    Don Harris [29] -

    Actually, since you mentioned it, I have been largely ignoring the NFL/Trump distration in an experiment. Trump wants to distract us with this? Well, I'll ignore it and concentrate on other things!

    The jury's still out, but that is indeed what I've been trying to do. I see it as a "red meat for the base" distraction from what's really going on.

    -CW

  37. [37] 
    John M wrote:

    Chris wrote:

    "But if PR did vote, even in the election you posit, do you really think Congress would let them become a state? It's their final say, and the GOP isn't going to go along with adding two presumably Democratic senators to the mix...

    We'd probably need a Dem Congress before they ever actually were accepted as a state..."

    Very likely true. But you probably have to admit, if republicans in Congress did vote against and deny Puerto Ricans statehood, it would give them and their outreach to Latino or Hispanic voters even more of a black eye than it already has. Especially since Puerto Ricans are already American citizens. That would be very bad optics.

    "Just to be fair, considering the article I wrote on her today... how about Dianne Feinstein? She's been the leading Dem on gun control since the 90s, after all...

    Just curious..."

    Diane Feinstein was great after the shooting of the mayor and Harvey Milk many years ago. But as of today, she simply doesn't have the power or the stature or celebrity following of a person like Princess Diana or Martin Luther King, the kind of leadership aura I guess is what I am getting at, that is needed for an advocate of gun control, in my opinion. Like I said to Elizabeth, I don't see anyone who does at this point.

  38. [38] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    John M -

    Good point, but I think it just would never come up for a vote at all. Previous states have had to wait for Congress to admit them (although I can't remember exact specifics... Alaska statehood was fought by Washington state, I know that... there are others though).

    As for your second point, what about Gabby Giffords?

    -CW

  39. [39] 
    John M wrote:

    Chris Weigant [38]

    You're probably right. Many years ago Guam voted in a referendum to adopt a new constitution for a change to commonwealth status. But Congress simply ignored it and never voted on the subject. Still, I think in Puerto Rico's case, there would be a lot more pressure to act if a successful referendum were held. Just an interesting side note. The last time we admitted a state, Hawaii in its referendum on statehood, voted between 93 and 94 percent in favor.

    Gabby Giffords is a great spokesperson, but even she still doesn't have enough star power or stature to be really an effective leader. There are probably still enough people out there who will either ask or say, Gabby who? and then when told who she is say, oh yeah, she's the one with a personal agenda because of what happened to her. It's tragic and all that, but she's not going to take away my constitutional rights and freedom as an American to own a gun to protect myself. And you need someone who has enough appeal to get past that barrier.

  40. [40] 
    John M wrote:

    Chris Weigant [38]

    Another interesting note. Washington D.C. did the same thing. They even went so far as to propose a new name, along with their statehood constitution, New Columbia. But Congress has yet to vote on their statehood proposal also. Too small, too liberal, too black, lets just give it back to Maryland (even though Maryland doesn't want it.) goes the not so explicitly said yet well known republican reasoning. FYI, I was born and raised and am originally from Maryland.

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