ChrisWeigant.com

Friday Talking Points -- Democrats' Closing Midterm Argument

[ Posted Friday, October 19th, 2018 – 17:18 PDT ]

As usual, there was all sorts of idiocy in the political news last week. But, for a change, we're only going to skim lightly over most of it in an abbreviated weekly roundup, because we've got a special talking points section at the end, where we try our hand at writing a "closing argument" speech for all Democratic congressional candidates to consider using. So there's that to look forward to. Before that, though, let's take a very quick look at the week that was.

President Donald Trump really wants the whole scandal over the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi to quietly go away. However, this hasn't been happening -- it's been headline news for weeks, and shows no signs of abating. Trump also really wants to just go back to being buddies with the Saudis without anyone looking too closely at how totalitarian their government is. After all, they rolled out the red carpet for him! With a sword dance and everything!

America is now so little respected in the world that dictators who are purportedly our friends feel unrestrained enough to viciously murder an American legal resident inside their own consulate, without the fear of serious consequences. Trump tries to mouth the words, but he obviously doesn't believe that he should be all that concerned with the fate of the guy -- after all, he wasn't a citizen, it didn't happen here, and maybe it was just rogue assassins or something. He continues to parrot the line his advisors have fed him, about how murdering journalists should bring severe consequences, but then he goes out on the campaign trail and praises a Republican congressman for body-slamming a journalist. It's pretty easy to see what Trump really believes about all this, in other words.

Republicans in Congress (who have apparently been bought and paid for by the Saudis) are now floating smears that Khashoggi was somehow a terrorist sympathizer, because it would be so much more convenient to do nothing, if that were true.

In other fear-of-brown-people news, a caravan of people is moving northwards from Central America, and Trump is positively freaking out about it. It seems he finally noticed that more people than ever are coming across the border, even though he promised all his followers he would wave a magic wand and make it stop. He's now threatening to rip up the recent trade agreement with Mexico if they don't stop the caravan, stop all foreign aid to Central American countries, and send the U.S. military down to "close the border" for good measure. Oh, and to bring back his family separation policy, because that went over so well the first time around.

Trump is even pushing a conspiracy theory of his own -- that the people in the caravan are being paid by American Democrats to come north, cross the border, and immediately vote for Democrats. No, seriously. Maybe he's just previewing his possible excuses if he gets shellacked in the midterms?

Let's see, what else? It's been going on two years, and Donald Trump has not seen fit to visit the U.S. troops in either Afghanistan or Iraq. The reason, according to him? He's been "too busy." File this in the bulging "Things No Democratic President Would Be Allowed To Get Away With" file, we suppose.

News from the campaign trail: Ted Cruz apparently had a Men In Black moment during a debate this week. You know -- those times when one of those aliens has to pretend to be human, and botches it horribly? Cruz was asked the softball question: "Tell us something you've done in the last year that has nothing to do with politics that would give Texans insight to who you are as a person." Cruz did his deer-in-the-headlights impression for a full six seconds before stammering out an answer.

Other non-empathetic news from the GOP campaign trail: Representative Dave Brat was visiting a prison recently, and heard from a woman who was fighting addiction while in jail. To her troubles Brat cluelessly responded:

You think you're having a hard time -- I got $5 million worth of negative ads going at me. How do you think I'm feeling? Nothing's easy. For anybody. You think I'm a congressman: "Oh, life's easy. This guy's off having steaks." Baloney, I got a daughter, she's got to deal with that crap on TV every day. It's tough.

You just can't make this stuff up, folks.

Up in Minnesota, the Republican running for Senate apparently compared Michelle Obama unfavorably to a chimpanzee a while back. Republican Karin Housley wrote on Facebook, back when Barack and Michelle Obama met the Queen of England: "Michelle is soooo far from cool. Don't we expect our First Ladies to at least stand up straight?" Later, she added, for emphasis: "I do miss Nancy Reagan. Ronald even more. Speaking of Bedtime for Bonzo, I think even that chimp stood up straighter than Michelle.. Uh-oh, someone is going to make a comment." Ya think?

In other animalistic slur news, Donald Trump called Stormy Daniels "Horseface" this week, because he heard Republicans needed to shore up their support with women voters.

But these aren't even the worst election stories this week from clueless Republicans. In Georgia, a bus from Black Voters Matter was stopped from driving senior citizens to the polls this week, and everyone was forced to get off the bus instead. A mayor of a town in the county this happened posted this charming note on the Black Voters Matter webpage: "It is utterly reprehensible that your group maintains that all black voters should vote for a black candidate just because they are the same color as you. A man named Jim Jones once ran an organization like that. Better check that Koolaid you are serving up." Because everyone knows that voting for Democrats is just like forcing everyone to commit suicide, right?

Astonishingly, that wasn't even the worst offender of the week from the Republican side of the aisle. A group called Black Americans for the President's Agenda ran ads in support of Representative French Hill of Arkansas that were so incredibly offensive that Hill was forced to disavow and condemn them. Here's just a taste of one of these ads, which ran in predominantly black areas of the state:

[Woman's Voice 1]: Our congressman, French Hill, and the Republicans know that it's dangerous to change the presumption of innocence to the presumption of guilt, especially for black men. If the Democrats can do that to a white Justice of the Supreme Court... what will happen to our husbands, our fathers or our sons when a white girl lies on them?

[Woman's Voice 2]: Girl, white Democrats will be lynching black folk again.

[Woman's Voice 1]: We can't afford to let white Democrats take us back to the bad old days of race verdicts, life sentences and lynchings when a white girl screams rape.

This ad ran in the year 2018, we remind everyone. Not 60 or 70 years ago. But last week, in Arkansas.

Speaking of history, it was exactly 50 years ago this week that Tommie Smith and Juan Carlos gave their "Black power salute" at the Mexico City Olympics, during the national anthem. Smith recently spoke about Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem, a subject he knows something about: "Don't hate this kid because he stood up for something. He stood up for the right to exercise Amendment One."

OK, let's have some lighthearted news to close on, shall we? Yet another building with Donald Trump's name on it successfully removed it this week, after the residents of the building voted overwhelmingly to get rid of it.

Here's the most bizarre news from the campaign trail yet this year:

Dennis Hof, the Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for state assembly, died Tuesday at one of his brothels after a birthday party, officials said. He was 72.

Hof, a candidate for the state Assembly in a district in southern Nevada, died in his sleep in the hours after a celebration that featured pornography star Ron Jeremy, former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio and anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, according to his campaign manager Chuck Muth.

The Nye County Sheriff's office said Tuesday that it was investigating Hof's death. He was found at the Love Ranch in Crystal Tuesday morning by Jeremy, who went to wake him for a meeting, police and Muth said.

"We had a wonderful event last night," Muth told the Reno Gazette Journal. "He was having the time of his life."

We're personally trying to picture a birthday party attended by Ron Jeremy, Joe Arpaio, and Grover Norquist, but our imagination is failing us. Again, you just can't make this stuff up, folks.

And some happy news for all our northern neighbors: it is now legal to buy, sell, grow, and possess marijuana in all of Canada. So please light one up for absent friends, Canadian pioneers!

Our final item has no real political import, but it was just too funny to ignore. Someone down in Savannah, Georgia played a prank on a local public statue, which resulted in the most amusing photo we've seen all year. It seems some nefarious vandal snuck up to a statue of Nathaniel Greene and (wait for it...) stuck googly eyes on it. The police are not amused, but they're the only ones not getting in on the fun. Best comments so far: "Who is Nathaniel Greene? Never mind. I'll Googly him," and the even funnier: "Don't vandal-eyes." Heh.

 

Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week

We may be swimming against the tide on this one, but we're sticking to our initial take on it.

This week, Senator Elizabeth Warren released the results of a DNA test. It showed a Native American ancestor somewhere between six and ten generations back. Which is precisely what she had been claiming all along. She made the announcement via a very professionally-produced five-minute-long video, which many (us included) saw as her opening bid in a run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

She did so, of course, in response to taunts from Donald Trump. Trump regularly calls her "Pocahontas," and had promised to donate a million bucks to a charity of her choice if a DNA test proved her claim. So Warren tweeted in response, after releasing her video:

By the way, @realDonaldTrump: Remember saying on 7/5 that you'd give $1M to a charity of my choice if my DNA showed Native American ancestry? I remember -- and here's the verdict. Please send the check to the National Indigenous Women's Resource Center: http://www.niwrc.org/donate-niwrc

Trump first responded by denying he had ever said such a thing. He invited reporters to check the facts. They did, and the facts showed him saying exactly that. So he responded: "So what?" Later in the day, he said he'd only pay out the million if he could administer the DNA test on Warren himself.

Warren proved she was telling the truth, and she proved Trump was both a liar and a cheapskate who would refuse to make good on a bet.

The reaction to Warren's video was pretty swift, and the reviews weren't exactly good. People on the right either refused to believe the science or just didn't understand genetics and math. People on the left and in the media were complaining about the timing of the announcement and some were even completely writing off Elizabeth Warren's chances to be president. The strongest reaction came from a spokesman for the Cherokee Nation, who denounced Warren for even taking the test in the first place, and for daring to claim any sort of Native American affiliation or heritage. Warren was hit from all sides, really.

We do not agree with this tide of negativity, however. We do think Warren has some bridges to mend with Native American groups, and she would do well to repair what damage has been done in the upcoming weeks.

But what was she supposed to do? Just accept being called a liar repeatedly by the leader of the Republican Party? Not try to prove her case? Trump specifically challenged her to take one of the commercially-available DNA tests, and even laughingly threatened to toss one of the kits at her, should they ever meet in a debate. Warren called his bluff. She wanted to defuse the issue once and for all, in other words.

It didn't exactly work out that way, but we'd bet that nothing would have ever stopped Trump's "Pocahontas" taunts anyway. What got lost in the DNA story was what Warren was really trying to prove in her video -- not just that her family lore was in fact correct, but that she never used it to her professional advantage in her career. That is a far more insidious lie, and the one that she really needed to counter before making a serious run for the presidency. But, unfortunately, this mostly got lost in the shuffle.

Trumpian taunts are tough to fight. We've seen this time and time again. No politician has yet come up with the perfect way to respond to what can only be called playground bullying by Trump. Republican after Republican tried various methods during the 2016 primaries. None of them really worked all that well. Democratic candidates eyeing a possible presidential run have also notably failed to really come up with any strategy for dealing with Trump nicknames and Trump tweets.

Warren tried her own way of dealing with it -- as Barack Obama was forced to, before her. She made a statement -- she is proud of who she is, and her family did not lie to her about their own history. By doing so she was not attempting to appropriate anything she was not entitled to -- a piece of her own family's history. She should not have to ignore this history or deny the reality of it. It is her history, and no one else's. Nobody can take it away from her, period. This is the point she makes quite strongly in the video, if you watch it all the way to the end.

We did watch all the way to the end. We thought it was an excellent video all around. In fact, we'll go further and predict that if she does indeed run for president, that the controversy of the past week will largely be forgotten by the public. Who doesn't have a family story about some incident or person in the past worth passing on through the generations? Why should anyone outside the family get a vote on whether that family lore is part of your personality or not?

Elizabeth Warren took a risk this week, in taking on a big Trump lie directly. She called his bluff, and proved the truth was on her side exactly as she had related it. She showed Trump, once again, to be a sore loser who refuses to make good on a bet. That is the message which we think will have staying power, no matter what people thought this week. Which is why we're going out on a limb and awarding Senator Elizabeth Warren the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week.

[Congratulate Senator Elizabeth Warren on her Senate contact page, to let her know you appreciate her efforts.]

 

Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week

We would have two Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week awards to hand out today, but the facts are so murky in one of them we've got to hold it in abeyance for now.

Alaska Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott just abruptly resigned his office this week, but there have been no details forthcoming about what exactly happened. It seems Mallott made "inappropriate comments" but nobody's sure exactly what he said, or to whom.

Governor Bill Walker issued the following statement:

Byron recently made some inappropriate comments that do not reflect the sterling level of behavior required in his role as lieutenant governor. I learned of the incident last night, and Byron has taken full responsibility for his actions and he has submitted his resignation.

State Health Commissioner Valerie Davidson, who was sworn in as Mallott's replacement, added:

While I am deeply saddened by the resignation of Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott, I am also profoundly disappointed in his conduct. Respect for women and respect for all Alaskans is our responsibility, and I stand ready to serve as your lieutenant governor.

So apparently he said something disrespectful to a woman, and it was inappropriate enough for him to have to resign over it. That sounds pretty disappointing, so we're tentatively holding onto a MDDOTW for him, at least until any further details come out. Which they probably will, in time.

But we have no qualms about the other Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week this week, which goes to Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. Heitkamp was, even before this week, the most endangered Democrat in the Senate. She was down in the polls, and then she voted against Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation, which may not have helped her out politically.

Perhaps in an effort to counter the bad press she got over the Kavanaugh vote, Heitkamp's campaign ran an ad this week on the subject of sexual assault survivors. Here's the whole story:

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, the most endangered Senate Democrat in next month's midterm elections, apologized Tuesday for a newspaper ad that included names of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or rape without their permission.

The ad was fashioned as an open letter to Rep. Kevin Cramer, Heitkamp's Republican opponent, criticizing comments he made during the confirmation process for Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.

In a statement Tuesday, Heitkamp (N.D.) said that her campaign "recently discovered that several of the women's names who were provided to us did not authorize their names to be shared or were not survivors of abuse."

"I deeply regret this mistake and we are in the process of issuing a retraction, personally apologizing to each of the people impacted by this and taking the necessary steps to ensure this never happens again," the statement said.

. . .

The ad included names of 127 women. It was not clear how many names were erroneously included or how they came to be part of the newspaper ad.

One of the women listed in the ad expressed her outrage:

A lot of these people listed, including me, did not give anyone permission for our names to be posted. I don't even support Heidi Heitkamp and I am not a domestic abuse survivor. Should this even be legal?? Using people's names as part of your campaign??

This was a disgraceful and perhaps politically-fatal mistake. One cannot imagine what her campaign was thinking, in fact. Nobody made triple-sure that these women had approved such a letter in such an ad? Nobody was tasked with receiving written and signed approval from all 127 women before the fact? Nobody was in charge of even basic fact-checking before the ad was approved? That is political malpractice, plain and simple.

Heitkamp apologized, but the damage has already been done. She wound up making her political position worse by the entire episode, in a seat Democrats cannot really afford to lose if they still hold out any hope of retaking the Senate. Which is why she's our Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week this week.

[Contact Senator Heidi Heitkamp on her Senate contact page, to let her know what you think of her actions. Byron Mallott is no longer in public office, and we do not provide contact information on private individuals as a rule.]

 

Friday Talking Points

Volume 505 (10/19/18)

As promised, we have a special edition of our talking points this week. Because the election is now looming, the time has now come for all Democratic candidates to be making their closing arguments to the voters. We've got only two-and-a-half weeks to go, folks, so we're now officially in the homestretch.

Which is why we decided to write a generic Democratic candidate's closing argument, because at this point the following speech could probably be given by just about any Democratic candidate for the House or the Senate. You'll notice that Donald Trump is barely mentioned in it, which is in keeping with how Democrats have been campaigning. The voters know all about Trump and don't need to be reminded, in short.

What they want to hear about instead are pocketbook issues which affect them. Like healthcare. And protecting Social Security. This week, Mitch McConnell gave Democrats a big fat present tied up in a bow, as he explained while being interviewed what the Republican agenda after the election will be, should they retain control of Congress. So that features heavily in this speech as well.

So rather than a bunch of little talking points, what we've got today is one long one. Here is the speech we think any Democrat running for Congress should consider using, in the final days of the 2018 midterm campaign.

 

A Closing Argument For Democratic Candidates

The Republicans have been in control of both houses of Congress and the White House for two years now. So what have they done for you? What parts of their agenda have they passed into law to make your life better or easier? The answer is not only virtually nothing, but in fact they spent a large part of their time in power trying to make life harder for millions. That is their legacy. That is why I am running for office.

Two years ago, when the Republicans first took total control, Barack Obama turned over an economy that had fully recovered from the Great Recession. Deficits were once again under control. Jobs had come back. Millions of people had healthcare that hadn't been able to afford it previously. America was respected on the world stage.

Then Republicans quickly moved on their biggest agenda item -- repealing Obamacare and replacing it with absolutely nothing. They tried to completely throw out protections for people with pre-existing conditions. The person I am running to defeat in Congress voted to do so, even if now he [or she] seems to have forgotten this fact. They tried to jettison all of the good parts of Obamacare and return us all to the days when getting sick might mean going bankrupt. That is exactly what they voted for!

Right now, several Republican state attorneys general are suing to overturn all of Obamacare. This would immediately return us to the bad old days when insurance companies could dish out life-or-death decisions with impunity. The Republican Party supports and encourages this lawsuit, no matter what the consequences would be for tens of millions out there. They're now trying to fool voters into thinking that they would somehow protect people with pre-existing conditions, but their definition of this is to let the insurance companies charge the sun, the moon, and the stars to such people for an insurance policy. That is not "protecting" these people! That is exploiting these people's pain!

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently admitted that the Republicans basically had nothing new to offer America. He was quoted saying that if Republicans somehow retain control of the House and Senate this November, then the first thing they'd do is to once again try to repeal Obamacare and replace it with junk insurance and broken promises to people with pre-existing conditions. At least he's being honest and up-front, which is more than most Republicans running for Congress can currently admit.

In all the years since Obamacare passed, Republicans have never -- not once -- agreed among themselves what to replace it with. They all agree it should be repealed, but they go silent when asked what would follow. That is all you need to know, folks, because a Republican Obamacare replacement does not exist and never has. They refuse to come up with a plan, because they know full well that any plan would be a lot worse for millions of people than what they've got now. They are afraid of this fact, which is why they can never answer the question what they'd do instead of Obamacare.

I not only want to keep Obamacare intact, I want to expand it. I want to make it better, not worse. I want to help more people, not harm as many millions as I can. There are many ways we can go about doing this -- improving things, not making them worse -- and I support [fill in the blank: the public option, Medicare-For-All, Medicare X, whatever...]. We can have discussions about how the best way to improve things is, and we'll have that debate in full -- but we will only begin this debate when Democrats take back Congress. Republicans will never begin this debate at all because at heart they simply do not care about people like you who may have a family member with a pre-existing condition. Elect us, and we'll immediately begin working to make Obamacare better. Elect them, they'll immediately try to destroy it, once again. It's what they do, after all -- which Mitch McConnell just fully admitted to everyone. In his own words: "If we had the votes to completely start over, we'd do it." He's even admitting more than he realizes, because "to completely start over" means just what I've been saying -- in eight years, they have come up with absolutely nothing to replace Obamacare, ever! So take him at his word -- elect Democrats if you want your family members with pre-existing conditions to have a representative who fights for them instead of fights to strip them of the protections they now have.

Astonishingly enough, this wasn't even the worst thing McConnell's been saying about what Republicans will do if they retain power. After passing a massive tax giveaway -- the lion's share of which went straight to the pockets of Wall Street and the wealthiest Americans -- McConnell is now ready to slash, as he put it, "the three big entitlement programs that are very popular: Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid."

Republicans keep trying the same exact gambit, folks, and they're hoping you'll be fooled by it. They slash tax rates for millionaires, they give corporate America an enormous windfall of wealth, and then they complain that the cupboard is bare -- which can only be solved by slashing Social Security and Medicare benefits. This is nothing short of a gigantic con job.

Republicans believe, all evidence to the contrary, that cutting taxes increases the money the government takes in. Each and every time, they are proven wrong. The Republican Congress passed the Trump tax cut and the deficit jumped to $779 billion this year -- the first fiscal year where Trump was fully in charge. Corporate taxes collected fell 22 percent last year, as a result of this tax cut. The deficit is projected to hit $1 trillion a year once again, perhaps as soon as next year. This is during an economic boom time, not during a recession.

And the Republican answer -- as always -- is to slash Social Security and Medicare. They absolutely refuse to admit that their tax cuts for the fatcats create the problem, and their only answer is to stick it to the little guy. So if you want to see Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block, vote for my opponent. Because that's exactly what the Republicans want to do!

When asked about the increasing deficit, Mitch McConnell responded: "It's disappointing, but it's not a Republican problem." He called it a bipartisan problem, and tried to pin the blame on the Democrats for not joining in with him in cutting Social Security and Medicare. That is how Republicans want to run things, folks. He's admitting it right out in the open.

Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan have done nothing but carry water for Donald Trump for two years now. They have only one major legislative achievement to brag about in all that time, but their tax cut is wildly unpopular with the public. If you get the chance, please ask my opponent: "What have you been doing the past two years? What have you accomplished? What laws have you passed that have made my life better, other than the tax cut where I got back pennies and people in your income bracket made out like bandits?"

You might also ask them why they have allowed cabinet members to act like absolute grifters, while you're at it. This administration is chock-full of people who feel entitled to spend taxpayer money on private jets to European vacations, complete with security detail. And yet Congress refuses to investigate even the most blatantly scandalous ethical violations. So please ask why Republicans should continue to be allowed to aid and abet these grifters.

Of course, they don't have an answer for any of that. They have no accomplishments worth bragging about, so they are running a campaign based purely on fear. Fear of immigrants, fear of Nancy Pelosi, fear of left-wing mobs in the streets. Seriously -- that's what they have sunk to. Warning of riots should Democrats win a congressional election. Stuff that used to be relegated to the tinfoil-hat brigades is now front and center in Republican campaigns. Openly racist language is being used against Democratic candidates, and voter suppression efforts are already underway. In Arkansas, ads are running in support of one incumbent Republican with two women warning that, and I quote: "Girl, white Democrats will be lynching black folk again," to which the other woman responds: "We can't afford to let white Democrats take us back to the bad old days of race verdicts, life sentences, and lynchings when a white girl screams rape." That is the Republican Party of today. That is how low they will stoop to try to scare people into voting for them.

This is an important election, and I hope you'll turn out on Election Day to vote for me. If Democrats take back Congress, we will fight for you. If Democrats take back Congress, we will fight for affordable healthcare for all Americans -- especially those with pre-existing conditions. If Democrats take back Congress, we will fight every day to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. If Democrats take back Congress, we will fight to expand the number of people with health insurance, instead of spending all our time trying to take it away from people who already have it. If Democrats take back Congress, we will fight to make sure that the wealthiest among us pay their fair share in taxes, because the deficit should now be going down, not up! If Democrats take back Congress, we will exercise our constitutional duty to oversee the executive branch, and by doing so begin to clean up the swamp that arrived in Washington two years ago. If Democrats take back Congress, we will fight for racial justice instead of trying to bring back despicable racist fearmongering that belongs buried far in America's past. If Democrats take back Congress, Mitch McConnell will not even get a chance to try to gut Social Security, Medicare, and Obamacare. Because rather than destroying everything they touch, Democrats will work hard to make things better, not worse.

As I look out on your faces, it occurs to me that the Republican conspiracy theory is partially right. If Democrats do win this election, and win it decisively, then I'd bet that there will indeed be crowds of people out in the streets. I bet that from coast to coast large groups will indeed gather together. But, of course, Republicans got one crucial thing wrong, because all of these groups will not be rioting. Far from it. They'll be dancing in the streets instead.

Thank you, and please -- don't forget to vote on Election Day.

-- Chris Weigant

 

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Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground

 

36 Comments on “Friday Talking Points -- Democrats' Closing Midterm Argument”

  1. [1] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    perhaps senator warren should take donald at his word, and chokeslam him. or failing that, hit him in the face with a lemon pie. that could only be an improvement. and speaking of lemon pie, when are you going to meet your journalistic responsibility and write a column about the pie strategy? especially with the midterm elections coming up it's an opportunity we can't afford to miss. we'll never know how effective it could be until we try.

    JL

  2. [2] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    GREAT closing argument!!

    By closing you mean going out of business, right?

  3. [3] 
    Kick wrote:

    CW: We're personally trying to picture a birthday party attended by Ron Jeremy, Joe Arpaio, and Grover Norquist, but our imagination is failing us.

    Never let it be said that I didn't help your "failing" imagination. :p

    https://tinyurl.com/y7psrcae

    Again, you just can't make this stuff up, folks.

    Sure you can make it up (watch and learn): And Heidi Fleiss was there, and Roger Stone and Tucker Carlson phoned in. Just kidding -- *shakes head* -- nope, not kidding. :)

  4. [4] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    One only has to mention Trump's lineage to make him scratch his itch... Grandfather, draft-dodging whorehouse owner--Father, tax-evading war profiteering convicted felon. So there's that to look forward to. Biden should also get his facts straight on Trump's own business misbehaviour, his dealing with ruskie mobsters, post-soviet era embezzlers and his ongoing Emolument Clause infractions.

    Trump just needs someone to drown him in questions he can't answer without lying. That's debate one. Debate two would be more pressing on the lies of debate one. That's how you 'Pocahontas' Trump.

    Closing arguments for midterm candidates are easy...Where's your wage increase? Where are these shiny new factories being built for all the shiny new workers? Why are we still selling our good kidney to pay for the medication to save the bad one? Why is the GOP now telling us trickle-down economics won't work so the social net we all agree works needs gutting? Where has the fabled fiscal responsibility of the GOP gone, and why do they claim it's anyone's fault but theirs that the deficit is out of control, in this era of unparalleled prosperity? Why does the GOP hate women and people of colour? Why does the GOP embrace the slime of humanity such as, Putin, Mohammad bin Salman, Maduro and Kim Un?

    The list is endless and all stops at Trump's front door, too bad he's already disavowed any blame for the midterm outcome...unless of course it goes his way, then he'll hop in his mind-TARDIS and convince his ragtag mob that it was all part of his grand design.

    LL&P

  5. [5] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    [3] Kick... I love the line," Muth told the Reno Gazette Journal. "He was having the time of his life."

    Considering the guy died the following day, the night before has to have been....'the time of his life'

    I saw a doco on this toad ages ago, he spent years in exile for tax evasion and other assorted crimes before slithering his way back into the US.

    LL&P

  6. [6] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    No politician has yet come up with the perfect way to respond to what can only be called playground bullying by Trump. Republican after Republican tried various methods during the 2016 primaries. None of them really worked all that well.

    Democrats can beat Trump at his own game, and I believe he has made it clear where he is most vulnerable to attack: Trump is not as rich as he wants everyone to believe! This was the one area that was off-limits to jokes being made about during his roast on Comedy Central.

    The attack needs to focus on how Trump is terrified to release his tax returns because he knows it’ll show:

    1) He is no where as rich as he claims to be,
    2) What little money he does have has come from the Russians!
    3) Seeing how Trump forgot about the other $400 million his daddy gave him to get started, it really shows how terrible at business Trump truly is! Had he simply done nothing with that starter money but let it sit in the bank, he’d be worth about twice what he claims to be worth today!

    The attack on Trump must be non-stop! It doesn’t matter if it’s stupid: Question: What musical instrument does Putin think of when he thinks of Donald Trump.
    Answer: A trumpet - because he knows Donald is his “Trump pet!”

    It doesn’t have to be catchy, it just has to be repeated over and over. President Pinocchio, Putin’s Poor Presidential Prostitute, whatever... it will get to him.

  7. [7] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Time between FTPs seem to fly these days...and the latest FTP seems especially hard hitting (good on you CW!) The Republic is in one hell of a mess as we head into the midterms. I voted on Tues, a very beautiful fall day, and I've been walking around with an "I love to vote" sticker on my ball cap ever since. No matter how cynical I get, and I can get pretty cynical, the ritual of voting lifts my spirits. The feeling won't last, regardless of the election outcome, but it's nice while it lasts.

  8. [8] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Kick-

    I really enjoyed the tiny url you posted. I doubt anybody was shocked by his demise....the phrase "you can't eat bacon every day" comes to mind...and there were many other obvious risk factors. When you think about it, he died of a tag team of natural causes.

  9. [9] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    The USA may, in fact, be well beyond hope.

    Anyone here speak mandarin?

  10. [10] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    eetyentyen

  11. [11] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    There was a promo on one of the movie channels for another movie where a woman wakes up each day and can't remember who she is or anything else in her past.

    I thought, do they think we won't remember we have seen this before?

    Talking Points reminds me of the same thing. Standard Republicans are bad with a small bit at the end of empty promises from Democrats.

    Most Democratic candidates are probably already using this closing argument.

    And that is one reason why they keep losing. Democrats keep trying to convince people to vote for them using arguments that make sense to people that are already Democrats, but these arguments will not convince people that are not already Democrats to vote for Democrats.

    These people know the Republicans are bad and corrupted by Big Money. They also know that the Democrats are bad and corrupted by Big Money.

    These people do not believe the empty promises from Democrats and don't care if the Democrats are not as bad as the Republicans.

    And the Democrats don't care as long as these people stay home because the Democrats are not interested in providing a real alternative to the Republicans- the Democrats are just doing their part in the show to provide a false alternative to keep a real alternative from getting started or growing.

    I don't know if you are just doing your part in the show or are really fooled by the show, either way it has nothing to do with reality.

  12. [12] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    [9] 'Anyone here speak mandarin?'

    I've eaten at the Mandarin, does that count, Liz?

    ;)

    LL&P

  13. [13] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    If I say it with a Chinese accent I play the mandarin.

  14. [14] 
    LeaningBlue wrote:

    [9] Anyone here speak mandarin?

    If you're gonna be turning Chinese, better to learn Cantonese. South China is where the action is.

    Fifty years ago, it was virtually certain that in every household in America there was something made in Wisconsin.

    Now it's a near certainty that in every household in America, there is something made in Guangdong.

  15. [15] 
    LeaningBlue wrote:

    CW, most impressive choice for Most Impressive Dem.

    I'm getting sick to death of snowflake lefties yelping their lap dog warnings about getting into Trump's face, or fretting that the old biddies are distracting from The Message.

    Meanwhile, Mitch implies that if they keep the House, Republicans will try again to repeal Obamacare so as to put a nail in pre-existing coverage for good. He floats the idea that slashing Social Security and Medicaid benefits is necessary, because the tax cut is inflating the deficit.

    The Democrat's message should be simple: The Republicans are crooked, lying sacks of shit that are out to screw you, whether on purpose or by accident. The solution to that is also simple: Vote the bastards out.

    BUT, say the intelligentsia, what with gerrymandering, voter suppression, and manipulation of the voting process, the Republicans are destined to win. Why bother?

  16. [16] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    @LB,

    valid points all. however, the issue is not just the message but to whom the message is delivered. for the last forty years, the message to the professional, investor and tech classes has been "yes, we'll protect your interests," while the message to the working class has been "we're all you've got." the same messages need to be delivered, except with the targets of those messages reversed. then, democrats need to fight like hell once elected, or they'll all be one-termers and the electorate will trust them even less.

    JL

  17. [17] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    LB-
    You seem to have captured the Democrat's message.

    And NYpoet has captured what is missing from the Democrat's message.

    Many people are no longer fooled by the "we're all you've got."

    They see the Democrats as also crooked, lying sacks of shit that are out to screw you, whether on purpose or by accident.

    If only there was some way that these citizens could vote both of the crooked, lying sack of shit parties out instead of just switching back and forth between the two or not voting at all.

  18. [18] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    CW-
    I waited all week for you to issue a correction for the claim you made in last FTP that Beto O'Rourke had 800,000 contributors when it is 800,000 contributions and many are not small contributions and/or not small aggregate contributions as pointed out in my comment 14 and Stig's comment 90.

    When are you going to explore whether or not these alleged small contribution campaigns are small contribution campaigns in reality?

    Are you fooled by the claims or are you going along with the deception?

  19. [19] 
    SF Bear wrote:

    In Georgia the Secretary of State is running against a black woman for Governor so he is rescinding the voter registrations of all the black people. Because, well, they are black. In California they are rescinding the voter registrations of all the folks who attend a Trump rally as it is prima facie evidence of mental incompetence.

  20. [20] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Trump's America demands that we not miss the forest for the trees and that we keep our eyes on the big picture.

    While I believe that forms the basis for a great message for Democrats in 2018/20 - not to mention 2022, God forbid - I don't believe it will resonate with enough of the American people.

    And, therein, lies the rub.

  21. [21] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    SF Bear [19]

    Trevor Noah had a great suggestion for black voters in Georgia — register as a “Republican”... your vote will not only always be counted, it might even get counted twice in close elections!

  22. [22] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Trump told supporters at a Nevada rally that Democrats were rioting in support of sanctuary cities in CA, which is his attempt at changing the media’s focus off of Saudi Arabia! Hopefully the media won’t take the bait as this might actually be a scandal that will stick and Trump will have to answer for.

  23. [23] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    CW wrote: No politician has yet come up with the perfect way to respond to what can only be called playground bullying by Trump.

    Obama did, and he set the gold standard. Sure, folks will say that Obama's takedown of Orange Jesus is what created Monster Trump in the first place, but even that argument (which can be refuted) acknowledges how brutally effective it was.

    Have you noticed that Trump and the pubbies hardly ever even mention Obama, save to blame him for imaginary problems that they need to 'fix'? To hear them, you'd think that Hillary was running the country for eight years (with Pelosi as her VP).

    Then again, Republicans' opinion of women seems to have hit a new low generally, as evidenced by recent arguments they've tried to make that, if Democrats win, no man will be safe from a false accusation of rape. How dare the Dems suggest that every woman should be initially be taken seriously!

    To understand how deeply demeaning and absurd that argument is, substitute the word 'rape' in that sentence with 'car theft' (or any other crime).

    To be fair, the #metoo folks have occasionally overstepped (*cough* Franken *cough*), evidenced by the tone-deaf criticism made about Hillary's defense of her husband by #metoo founder Tarana Burke.

    Which is why my candidate for 'best putdown of Trump' goes to Stormy Daniels, for her reply to Trump after he called her 'horseface'. Her response, "Game on, Tiny!" was pitch-perfect.

    Chris Hayes opined this week that Trump's 'superpower' is shamelessness. Bill Maher has said that ridicule is 'Trump's kryptonite'. Stormy can combine both, rendering her a surprisingly effective foil for our deeply flawed, and deeply insecure, bully-in-chief.

  24. [24] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Hopefully the media won’t take the bait as this might actually be a scandal that will stick and Trump will have to answer for.

    Sad to say, history is not on your side. You're talking about a man that's been credibly accused of felonies, under oath, in a US District court; been credibly accused of sexual assault by at least 17 women; been accused in print of dozens of years of tax fraud; admitted to intending obstruction of justice in the firing of Comey; admitted to personally falsifying a false narrative of the Trump tower meeting, the same one that was repeated to a congressional committee by Don Jr., and is under investigation for much more and much worse.

    At this moment (as I suppose it always has been) Trump is staying afloat through a combo of personal charisma and raw power. As long as he continues to hold his base and thereby keep congressional allies in line, he is nearly unstoppable. With SCOTUS now a solid conservative majority on every case (and now including a dependable Trump synchophant), Trump could be honestly described as the most powerful president ever. (involuntary shudder)

    That's why this midterm is (literally, not as metaphor or hyperbole) the most important midterm election in American history. Unfortunately, proof of that will probably be delivered during the lame duck period after the midterms, when Ryan and McConnell will begin checking off all of the items on their wish lists. If they lose the House, they'll be frantic to make the damage they've already done as permanent as possible. If they hold the House it'll be way worse, open season really.

  25. [25] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    [24] edit: after the quote from Listen at [22], none of the rest should have been in italics.

  26. [26] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Balty

    Sad to say, history is not on your side.

    I agree wholeheartedly with ya, but this is different in a major way - Trump isn’t being held accountable for how his actions make him look, he is being held accountable for how he is making We, the People, look as a nation. Trump is making all of us look complicit in the murder with his acceptance of the crown prince’s ridiculous story of what happened. I realize that he’s embarrassed us plenty of times, but the seriousness of the crime requires our country to respond appropriately to send the message that this is never to be tolerated.

    I also think that Trump’s response of making excuses for the Saudi’s has made it clear even to some of his staunchest supporters that Trump can be bought and he is advertising that to the entire world! If SA isn’t punished, then we can expect a lot of countries being emboldened by the free pass Trump has seemingly promised them if they commit horrendous acts of violence against their people.

  27. [27] 
    LeaningBlue wrote:

    [26] If SA isn’t punished, then we can expect a lot of countries being emboldened by the free pass Trump has seemingly promised them if they commit horrendous acts of violence against their people.

    The Saudi rulers don't need Trump's permission nor his complicity. They're barbarians, and a couple trillion dollars of wealth can't change that. It may be worthwhile to put these thugs into the historical context they still practice.

    Saudi Arabia is a state engaged in wartime criminality in Yemen. It committed an act of war last year against Qutar, and hostilities, if not clashes of arms, persist. Women can drive now, but most likely can still get imprisoned or stoned to death for being raped.

    None of that is surprising, because the House (although I prefer the more descriptive word 'Clan') of Saud is little changed over more than 200 years of win-some, lose-some brigandry. After Abdulaziz, around 1800, massacred thousands of men, women, and children and looted the tomb of Mohammed's grandson, the Ottomans beheaded him and the Egyptians cast into prisons every prince they could track down.

    But they couldn't get 'em all, and by 1900, they were back. With the help of the Brits, they stayed occupied by killing each other. Then, they became the real life version of the Jed Clampett clan with various European and American families and entities serving in the role of Banker Drysdale. As it's said, the rest is history, only there's very little history that isn't the present with these people.

    In the traditional Arab (and the Bedouin, and even the Berber) view of things, the crown prince's crime is being too naive and foolish to pull off a successful assassination. If he had more experience as the ruler of the Clan of Saud, the head of a commoner enemy would have been presented to him in traditional fashion, i.e., on a silver plate of melons, and that would have been that. Live and learn, or, maybe in this case, not.

    In the Western scheme of things, though, he committed two serious crimes.

    First, he killed the wrong guy. Not a reporter, but a man responsible in part for the Washington Post's editorial position on Saudi matters writ large. This Kushneresque crown prince will now never be tolerated on a permanent basis to be Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and The Remaining Oil; he will be stained for the rest of his days, by an international establishment press that will not forget, and lurk just over the sand dunes, waiting to tear him to pieces.

    His second, and likely the more serious, crime was the stunt he pulled last year --again right out of a 200-year old family playbook-- of sawing off and looting the threatening parallel limbs on the family tree. He screwed that up, too, by not casting into dungeons all eight of his uncles on the Abdulaziz side and all the cousins he could lay his hands on, and let the rats and ants eat them alive. All he did was check a random bunch of the richest of them them into the Ritz, and order them to be beaten until they gave up all their PIN numbers and passwords. It was a kinder, gentler, way of doing things, almost civilized, almost out of a Queens or Brooklyn playbook.

    It was the wrong way of doing things. There are a lot of powerful people in the US, Europe, and elsewhere, who lost a lot of money and influence over that stunt. Recall that Trump, late last week, said that he hardly knows the Kid. That, in the Trump Clan, is a kiss of death. It's also significant that Mnuchin isn't going to the Burning Prince festival or whatever it's named. No corporation or NGO with a brand they value is going to go, either.

    There are other branches of the Saudi Clan who are far more acceptable to far more economic and state interests in the West, and the killing of the journalist may be just the excuse those interests need to get the Salmans put into a can, get the process rebooted back to 2014, and try again.

    I don't know if Trump has much to say about it.

  28. [28] 
    LeaningBlue wrote:

    In July, we might have dismissed the rant by a distant cousin of the Salmans reported here, https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/coup-saudi-dissident-prince-khaled-bin-farhan-urges-uncles-seize-power-mbs-1776042904, to be just sour grapes.

    Now, it looks a little more like a pretty well-reasoned suggestion.

  29. [29] 
    neilm wrote:

    LB [28]: Thanks for sharing. It looks like a Shakespeare tragedy is unfolding in Saudi Arabia - more Macbeth than Hamlet obviously.

  30. [30] 
    neilm wrote:

    With no Lady Macbeth obviously ... Saudi Arabia today is still behind Scotland in the 11th Century when it comes to women's rights.

  31. [31] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    [27] Excellent post, LB. I learned alot, something I've been discovering is becoming more common around here lately. It may be fall outside, but it's springtime in Weigantia, which I guess makes sense when so much of the rest of the world seems upside-down.

  32. [32] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Trump.

    That's all the closing argument that we should need.
    I've never, in fact, seen a president make such a clear prima facie case against himself.

    The Khashoggi Affair is the perfect candidate for "Exhibit A" in his political prosecution, combining as it does, the perfect intersection of Trumpian vices. Here we find the intersection of greed, incompetence, authoritarian hostility toward the press, self-dealing, the military industrial complex, narcissism, transactional politics, nationalistic hawkishness, and Kushner.

    All that's missing is a hooker, and he's in a twitter war with her.

  33. [33] 
    Kick wrote:

    JTC
    4

    One only has to mention Trump's lineage to make him scratch his itch... Grandfather, draft-dodging whorehouse owner--Father, tax-evading war profiteering convicted felon.

    You're exactly right, JTC. The vast majority of bullies like Trump are also frauds. You expose them for who they are, and they'll overcompensate by doubling down on the lying and whining to the point where only the deaf, dumb, blind, and/or apathetic aren't aware of the con.

    We are giving a middle-income tax reduction of about 10 percent. We're doing it now for middle-income people. This is not for businesses. It's for middle. ~ Donald Trump, 10/22/2018

    Watch and learn, people. Trump is doubling down on his lies and stepping up the bullying. Anyone still ignorant enough to believe this con needs professional help to pry themselves from the depths of delusion. :)

  34. [34] 
    Kick wrote:

    JTC
    5

    I saw a doco on this toad ages ago, he spent years in exile for tax evasion and other assorted crimes before slithering his way back into the US.

    Hof? Dennis Hof's legal troubles consisted primarily of multiple "employees" accusing him of rape... not an uncommon charge for a pimp.

    Actually, it sounds like you're talking about Joe Conforte, the prior owner of the legal brothels Hof purchased in the early 1990s. Conforte fled the United States in the early 90s to Brazil leaving huge sums of unpaid taxes, and Brazil refused to extradite him back. Wonder how much that cost him and who got paid over there? As far as I know, Conforte is still alive and living in Rio. Crime sometimes pays... generally it'll catch up with you, though. The Trump crew can explain how that whole thing is working out for them. :)

  35. [35] 
    Kick wrote:

    Russ
    6

    Yes, this!

    It doesn’t have to be catchy, it just has to be repeated over and over. President Pinocchio, Putin’s Poor Presidential Prostitute, whatever... it will get to him.

    And that catchy term Stephen Colbert called Trump:
    Putin's "Glock Pollster." ;)

  36. [36] 
    Kick wrote:

    TS
    8

    I really enjoyed the tiny url you posted. I doubt anybody was shocked by his demise....the phrase "you can't eat bacon every day" comes to mind...and there were many other obvious risk factors. When you think about it, he died of a tag team of natural causes.

    Likely... but his eyes also appear somewhat dilated with an obvious cataract situation and redness in one eye versus the other; the nasal area appears to have some redness going on too. In Hof's defense, this could also be signs of allergies and Benadryl use versus anything more potent. He obviously wouldn't be the first "celebrity" to die from overconsumption of drugs obtained either legally or illegally.

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