Friday Talking Points -- Trump Unites Washington!

[ Posted Friday, March 1st, 2019 – 19:11 UTC ]

In a bizarre development this week, President Donald Trump brought unity to all the politicians in Washington. He managed this feat by failing to get any deal out of his much-hyped summit meeting with North Korea's murderous dictator Kim Jong Un. When news of this failure on the international stage reached Washington (in the middle of the night), a gigantic sigh of relief was heard -- from both Democrats and Republicans alike. Yes, Washington has achieved absolute unity in the belief that Trump not giving away the store to Kim in exchange for nothing was a very good thing indeed.

Actually, Trump had largely achieved this unity before his summit had even fizzled. Before the failure to reach any agreement was announced, both Democrats and Republicans were already unified -- in their fear that Trump would cut any deal at all just to get some positive media coverage. This palpable fear was just as bipartisan as the sigh of relief was, so it's been a unified week all around!

Think we're being too snarky? Well, maybe. But don't for a minute think we're overstating the unity part, because we're not. Here are three statements made by congressional leaders about the outcome of the summit. See if you can guess which two are from Democrats and which one came from a Republican:

"I was pleased to see the president recognize North Korea's unwillingness to strike a comprehensive deal. President Trump did the right thing by walking away and not cutting a poor deal."

"President Trump was right to walk away from a shallow, and potentially dangerous, deal."

"I guess it took two meetings for him to realize that Kim Jong Un is not on the level. The prospect for success seemed dim in light of the insincerity of Kim Jong Un."

Tough choice, eh? That's because they are all saying exactly the same thing. For the record, the first of those came from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the second from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and the third from Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But they're all pretty interchangeable, really. Unity has been achieved!

Oh, and one final point that Republicans and Democrats agreed upon -- Trump is a fool if he really thinks that Kim Jong Un knew nothing about what happened to Otto Warmbier. That was also a pretty unanimous sentiment from both sides of the aisle as well -- which included a devastating takedown of this idiocy by Warmbier's parents.

Of course, this was only one of the two biggest events of the week. The other was about as divided along partisan lines as can be imagined. Politicians railed against lying, using lawyers who worked for free, and general disgust that a married man would have girlfriends. In a surprise twist, however, these sentiments came not from Democrats decrying Trump, but instead Republicans facing Michael Cohen, Trump's "fixer" for ten years. The week's final bit of irony came at the conservative-a-palooza festival known as CPAC, where many of these same conservatives stood and cheered for Ollie North -- a man who (wait for it...) was convicted of lying to Congress. Just another hypocrisy-filled day in Conservativeland, we suppose.

Cohen even pointed this out, at one point during his testimony in front of a House oversight committee. Representative Paul Gosar, a Republican, told Cohen directly: "You're a pathological liar." Cohen responded: "Are you referring to me or the president?" The chair of the committee, Elijah Cummings, noted in his closing statement that President Trump has lied, by the count of the Washington Post, a jaw-dropping 8,718 times since he's been in office.

This all led Bernie Sanders to quip during a CNN appearance this week, when asked about how he'd approach debating with Donald Trump: "Well, we'll bring a lie detector along and every time he lies it goes 'beep.'"

Which brings us to the Democratic presidential field, for a moment. Here's this week's update: Washington state Governor Jay Inslee has officially jumped in the race, and he's looking to be the "climate change guy" in the race, obviously. Amusingly, this now means that over a quarter of the American public is represented at some level of government by Democrats who are running for president. This isn't all that extraordinary when you consider that the percentage of people represented by these candidates is exactly the same -- 28 percent -- as it was for the 2016 Republican field. Of course, the Democratic number could go higher as more jump in.

On deck for Democratic presidential run announcements are Beto O'Rourke and (possibly) Joe Biden. As well as plenty of possible others, but those are the two who have been directly teasing possible announcements this week.

Elizabeth Warren made some news this week by swearing off high-dollar fundraisers for big donors. However, this may be nothing more than a convenient way to explain why neither Warren nor probably any other Democrat will be able to boast the same small-donor prowess that Bernie Sanders has already shown. Team Bernie announced they had raked in a whopping $10 million in the first week alone. Furthermore, they boasted of two stats which should make the other candidates sweat: only a tiny handful of Bernie's small donors have topped out the maximum they're allowed to give, and forty percent of those who gave were not on Bernie's already-immense mailing list. Like it or not, Bernie's now the frontrunner and will be at least until Joe Biden makes his mind up. Bernie even topped a poll taken within New Hampshire this week, pulling in even more support than Biden.

We're going to have to whip through all the other news of the week in lightning fashion, since this is already running long. Other things of note from the Cohen hearing:

Before the hearings even began, one Republican House member decided to engage in a bit of freestyle witness intimidation, when Matt Gaetz posted the following tweet:

Hey @MichaelCohen212 - Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she'll remain faithful when you're in prison. She's about to learn a lot...

He's already being investigated by the Florida state bar for this possibly-criminal act. Stay classy, GOP! Nothing like a little mobster-style witness intimidation to open with, eh?

Reaction was swift. From a former GOP House member: "a new low in an age of low, and possibly a crime by a sitting Congressman." House Democrat Bill Pascrell warned: "One of my colleagues, a duly elected member of Congress, has taken to Twitter to intimidate a witness.. This is grossly unethical and probably illegal. House Ethics must investigate this disgrace and stain on our institution." Winner of snarkiest response, however, went to Representative Sean Maloney, who responded: "Hard to combine disgusting and maybe criminal stupidity in one tweet but, hey, you did it. Keep this up, Cohen's going to need a double cell."

Cohen's testimony provided a dandy roadmap for Democrats to follow when it comes to who they should haul before oversight committees next. And it also provided a clear and convincing reason why the next thing House Democrats should do is demand Trump's tax returns from the I.R.S. -- something well within their legal power to do. By one count, if Cohen's testimony can be proven, Trump is now on the hook for at least five felonies, and Trump's taxes could provide that proof.

During the hearing there was a dustup when Rashida Tlaib essentially called Mark Meadows a racist. Meadows reacted with indignation, claiming he couldn't possibly be a racist. Hours later, however, video emerged of him saying, during a campaign stop: "2012 is the time we are going to send Mr. Obama home to Kenya or wherever it is." So, you know, he must have been one of those non-racist birthers.

Since it wouldn't be a proper week in the world of Trump scandals if there weren't a brand new Trump scandal, we also learned that Trump personally intervened to get his son-in-law Jared the highest security clearance possible, even though he was deemed by the professionals as being at risk of foreign influence. Trump and the White House have repeatedly lied about this in the past, but this week they were strangely tight-lipped, insisting that "we won't comment on security clearances."

The House easily passed a measure rescinding Trump's border wall national emergency declaration and sent it over to the Senate. As time goes by, Trump seems to be losing more and more support from Republican senators, so at this point it looks like even odds (at the very least) that it will pass there, too. While neither chamber is likely to have enough votes to override the expected veto, it will still be a pretty embarrassing rebuke to Trump -- the first time Congress will have ever disagreed with any president about what constitutes an actual emergency.

Mitch McConnell performed a stunning display of pretzelry this week, when he (assumably with a straight face) tried to blame Republicans' attempts to steal a House election in North Carolina on Democrats. He tried to conflate voter fraud with election fraud, which led to this amusing reaction in the press:

It's as though McConnell and his party had been complaining for years about burglars using crowbars to break into houses and then claiming validation when someone created a master key to unlock every front door on a block. The result is the same: The house has been violated. But the thing that the Republicans were warning about isn't the thing that actually happened.

Speaking of being divorced from reality, we also had this charming story about the idiocy of President Trump this week:

It started when [President Donald] Trump was asked by a reporter how long "memorandums of understanding" being negotiated with China over trade disputes would last.

Trump shot back: "I don't like MOUs because they don't mean anything."

[U.S. Trade Representative Robert] Lighthizer calmly corrected the president, and turned to explain to reporters: "An MOU is a contract. It's the way trade agreements are generally [established]. It's an actual contract between the two parties. A memo of understanding is a binding agreement."

He added: "It's detailed, it covers everything.... It's a legal term; it's a contract."

"I disagree," said a scowling Trump, causing top Chinese negotiator Vice Premier Liu He to laugh. "A memorandum of understanding is exactly that: It's a memorandum of what our understanding is," he said, circling his hands in the air. "How long will that take to put into a... contract?"

In a flash, Lighthizer switched gears without breaking a sweat: "From now on we're not using ‘memorandum of understanding' anymore" ? sparking laughter from several people in the room ? "we're going to use the term ‘trade agreement.' We'll have the same document; it's going to be called a trade agreement. We're never going to have an MOU again."

"Good," said Trump.

You just couldn't make this stuff up if you tried, folks.


Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week

We have two Honorable Mention awards this week, the first for Senator Cory Booker, who introduced the "Marijuana Justice Act," which would "remove cannabis from the federal list of controlled substances, while also providing financial incentives to states to loosen their marijuana laws.... The bill also aims to reverse the damage done to those who were prosecuted for marijuana use by expunging federal crimes and allowing offenders to petition courts for shorter sentences." He introduced this bill last year, too, but it didn't get a vote in the Republican Senate. This time around, though, he's got some notable cosponsors: Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and Kirsten Gillibrand, all of whom are also running for president.

Our other Honorable Mention is actually a group award, to "all Democrats on the House oversight committee who didn't waste their five minutes while questioning Michael Cohen." The most notable among this group was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who asked both followup questions (that previous Democrats had let lie without necessary further questioning) and her own questions, to get Cohen on the record recommending who else the committee should interview next. But, as one commenter to the first article we wrote about Cohen's testimony pointed out, A.O.C. wasn't the only one making good use of her time:

Also of note whole final slate of Dems did good work.

Via Rep. Ro Khanna: "Executive 2" was Trump Jr.

Rep. Jimmy Gomez: Blotus' taxes not under audit -- Blotus refuses to release them coz he fears "experts" would review them and discover stuff that would get him in trouble.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez focused on DJT overvaluing his properties to show off and undervaluing his properties for IRS.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley confirming Blotus buying his own portrait & paying for it with Trump Foundation funds among other things.

Kudos to all of them! When you only have five minutes, you really shouldn't waste time, and these fresh-faced Democrats showed the veterans how it should be done.

But our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award goes to the committee's chairman, Elijah Cummings. After witnessing the entire day's spectacle, Cummings gave one of the most heartfelt and moving political speeches we've ever heard. If you didn't watch the whole hearing -- or even if you missed the second after-lunch phase of it -- you should really take the ten minutes to watch the closing statement Cummings gave. It was a cry for America to rise up from the Trump era and regain normalcy in our politics once again. As Cummings said, "We are better than this."

We completely agree. This was such a powerful speech -- given not from notes but from the bottom of his heart -- that it alone well deserves the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award. Well said, Mister Chairman, well said.

[Congratulate House Committee on Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings on his House contact page, to let him know you appreciate his efforts.]


Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week

We have two (Dis-)Honorable Mention awards this week, and two Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week awards as well.

The (Dis-)Honorable Mention awards go to Senator Dianne Feinstein and Joe Biden. DiFi got caught on video being incredibly snotty towards a delegation of school-age children who were trying to get her to support the Green New Deal.

This included both the dismissive line: "You know what's interesting about this group is I've been doing this for 30 years. I know what I'm doing," as well as pointing out that none of the kids had voted for her (because they are not old enough, mind you). She told one child: "Well you know better than I do, so I think one day you should run for the Senate. Then you can do it your way." This superciliousness was pretty thick throughout the exchange. If DiFi's been doing this for 30 years, you'd think she would have learned by now how to handle a group of children. But apparently not.

Second up for a (Dis-)Honorable Mention is Joe Biden, for casually remarking that Vice President Mike Pence is "a decent guy." Gay people were, to put it mildly, not amused. Cynthia Nixon tweeted to Biden: "@JoeBiden you've just called America's most anti-LGBT elected leader 'a decent guy.' Please consider how this falls on the ears of our community." Biden, to his credit, immediately realized this was another "Biden gaffe" that wasn't exactly playing well, and he tweeted back to her: "You're right, Cynthia. I was making a point in a foreign policy context, that under normal circumstances a Vice President wouldn't be given a silent reaction on the world stage. But there is nothing decent about being anti-LGBTQ rights, and that includes the Vice President."

But, to our disgust, we have two incredibly disappointing people who deserve the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award. Both come from the mid-Atlantic region, one from Virginia and one from Maryland.

Here's the first sad story:

Embattled Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax compared himself to Jim Crow-era lynching victims in a surprise speech Sunday, as he resists widespread calls to resign prompted by allegations of sexual assault.

Fairfax strongly defended himself and lashed out at his critics from his rostrum in the state Senate as the 2019 legislative session was coming to a close.

"I've heard much about anti-lynching on the floor of this very Senate, where people were not given any due process whatsoever, and we rue that," Fairfax said, referencing legislation the General Assembly passed expressing "profound regret" for lynchings in Virginia between 1877 and 1950.

"And we talk about hundreds, at least 100 terror lynchings that have happened in the Commonwealth of Virginia under those very same auspices. And yet we stand here in a rush to judgment with nothing but accusations and no facts and we decide that we are willing to do the same thing," Fairfax said.

When he finished his five-minute impromptu speech, stunned senators sat in awkward silence.

Fairfax, who is black, has been accused by two women of sexual assault. Both of the alleged victims are African American.

He's black and he's from Virginia, and so there's no excuse for him not to understand full well the weight of talk about lynching, and yet he went there anyway.

But, sadly, he wasn't alone in Democrats' shocking talk about race this week. From Maryland we have the following disgraceful story:

A Maryland lawmaker apologized Tuesday for using a racial slur to describe a majority-black county in suburban Washington.

Del. Mary Ann Lisanti (D-Harford), who is white, allegedly told a white colleague late last month at an Annapolis cigar bar that campaigning in Prince George's County on behalf of another candidate amounted to door-knocking in a "nigger district," reported The Washington Post.

Prince George's County, with a population that is 65 percent black, is one of the most affluent majority-black counties in the U.S., according to the Census Bureau. Harford is 80 percent white.

Lisanti, when contacted by the Washington Post, initially responded thusly:

The Post questioned Lisanti earlier this month about whether she used the slur, but she claimed she couldn't "recall much of that evening." Asked if she believes she's ever used the word, Lisanti said she was "sure" she had.

"I'm sure everyone has used it," she told the Post. "I've used the f-word. I used the Lord's name in vain."

That's a pretty flippant attitude. Since then, she's had to step down from a committee chairmanship and the entire Maryland General Assembly voted unanimously to censure her for the comment.

When she finally got around to issuing an apology, however, she set a new standard in the "non-apology apology" category. While her statement did have some solid language in it:

I understand that the use of inappropriate and insensitive language is not acceptable under any circumstance. I am sorry for the hurt I have caused and will do everything I can to help heal that pain and regain the trust of my colleagues and constituents. I pray for forgiveness.

Lisanti also included a rather bizarre claim:

I am sickened that a word that is not in my vocabulary came out of my mouth. It does not represent my belief system, my life's work or what is my heart.

This is provably untrue. Anyone in the room whose vocabulary did not include that word would have reacted by saying something like: "I'm sorry, I don't recognize that word she just used -- can someone tell me what it means?" But it is an oxymoron to claim that "a word that is not in my vocabulary came out of my mouth." Is your mouth unconnected to your brain's vocabulary? Is it somehow an independent agent? This claim makes zero sense, on the face of it.

Lisanti somehow still believes she can hang onto her job:

However, Lisanti has refused to step down amid calls from other Maryland lawmakers that she resign, saying she planned to continue working and gain back the trust of her constituents. Lisanti has already been stripped of several committee assignments.

"Quitting is easy, but not the road to redemption," she said Thursday, according to the Post. "Staying here, accepting responsibility, is hard work.... But I am up for the challenge. And that is why I am staying. Healing begins tomorrow."

As for her road to redemption, we'd wager it's going to be a fairly long one.

So this week, for claiming moral equivalence with lynching victims, and for somehow using a word that was not in her vocabulary, we hereby award two very shameful Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week awards, to Justin Fairfax and to Mary Ann Lisanti.

[Contact Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax on his official contact page, and Maryland Delegate Mary Ann Lisanti on her official webpage, to let them know what you think of their actions.]


Friday Talking Points

Volume 520 (3/1/19)

Another mixed bunch this week, with (as usual) one downright hilarious one at the end. Enjoy and use responsibly!


   If a dictator says it, it must be true

This is a rather disturbing trend....

"Donald Trump seems to have one measuring stick for truthfulness: if a dictator says it, it must be true. The leader of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, says that all drug dealers deserve instant extrajudicial death, and Trump offers words of praise for his death squads. Vladimir Putin tells Trump that North Korea doesn't have I.C.B.M. capabilities, and Trump believed this even when his intelligence agencies reported that North Korea had just successfully tested one. Putin swore to Trump he didn't interfere in the 2016 election, and Trump believes this over every single one of his own intelligence agencies, and furthermore, states this on foreign soil after meeting with Putin. The de facto leader of Saudi Arabia tells Trump he knew nothing -- nothing! -- about the American journalist killed and dismembered inside a Saudi embassy, and Trump believes him over his own intelligence agencies. And just this week, Trump said he believed Kim Jong Un when he said he had no knowledge of Otto Warmbier's treatment while in custody, and once again, Trump took a murderous dictator at his word. It's pretty plain to see that, for Trump, if a dictator or strongman or tyrant tells him something, he automatically believes it -- all evidence to the contrary. To state the painfully obvious: this is a dangerous trend in a United States president."


   One Republican had a good week

On two separate fronts, one GOP House member deserves recognition.

"Representative Justin Amash seems to be one of the only Republicans who have emerged from the pro-Trump fog and realized how far his party has strayed from any claim to morality or ethics. He was the lone Republican who asked Michael Cohen real questions during this week's hearing, and his best question was stunning in its simplicity: 'What is the truth President Trump is most afraid of people knowing?' Cohen himself was so taken aback by this question that he couldn't offer up an answer. Earlier in the week, Amash voted against Trump's 'national emergency' power grab, and tweeted the following admonishment to members of his own party who weren't willing to do the same: 'The same congressional Republicans who joined me in blasting Pres. Obama's executive overreach now cry out for a king to usurp legislative powers. If your faithfulness to the Constitution depends on which party controls the White House, then you are not faithful to it.' I couldn't have put it better, and I tip my hat to Justin Amash for twice this week standing up for what is right and putting country ahead of party."


   Liar Liar!

Irony was not in short supply in Washington this week.

"During the Cohen hearing, one Republican unveiled a giant sign that screamed 'Liar! Liar! Pants on fire!' which is truly ironic when you consider that Donald Trump is approaching the astounding total of nine thousand lies uttered while in office. Republicans on the House committee performed some pearl-clutching and shed some crocodile tears over the unseemliness of lying, when confronting Cohen. During the same week, President Trump's spokesperson Kellyanne Conway called House Republicans liars for not giving Trump his wall money while they were in power for two years, and Oliver North was cheered at the Conservative Political Action Conference even though he was also guilty of lying to Congress. The Republicans in the committee hearing tried to claim that no person convicted of lying to Congress had ever testified in such a hearing -- even though earlier this month Elliot Abrams did exactly that, after pleading guilty in 1991 to (you guessed it) lying to Congress. In other words, in the midst of all their pretend-angst over lies, the Republicans on the committee were actually guilty of exactly what they were accusing Cohen of doing -- lying to Congress. The hypocrisy and irony was hip-deep in the hearing room by the time they were done."


   You're stupid if you care about your tax refund

Hoo boy.

"According to Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley, American taxpayers are, quote, 'stupid to look at your [income tax] refund to see whether you got a tax increase or decrease. You can't measure by the refund.' Unquote. So let's see, after Republicans passed a tax cut for the wealthy, average people shouldn't care about the size of their refund, and anyone who does is 'stupid.' Well, that's one way of putting it, but I'd be willing to bet that the millions of Americans who are about to be surprised by getting a tiny refund or no refund at all would disagree. And that's saying nothing about the millions of others who are going to owe taxes this year rather than getting a refund. This is the GOP's attitude towards regular taxpayers as opposed to the ultrawealthy and corporations in a nutshell, folks. If you're not overjoyed about the way the Republican trickle-down tax cut flim-flam worked out for you, then you are, quote, stupid."


   The media are the ones who can't walk and chew gum

This really needs pointing out by Democrats.

"You know, I remember not too many weeks ago when the media was obsessed over whether Democrats would focus solely on investigating the president or whether they'd concentrate on legislation. Democrats, the media told us smugly, couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time. But in reality, we've been doing fine on both fronts. In the same week as the Cohen hearings, Democrats also did the following: passed two gun safety measures, the first to pass in decades; introduced a measure to restore the Voting Rights Act after the Supreme Court gutted it; held hearings on the Trump administration 'zero tolerance' child-separation policy as well as prescription drug prices; and, for good measure, introduced a bill to legalize marijuana at the federal level that almost all the Democratic candidates for president have signed on with. Now, I remember when the media cared about at least some of these things -- remember when the child separation policy was all the media could talk about, last year? So it seems that the folks who can't actually walk and chew gum at the same time is the media itself, not congressional Democrats. Because when we move forward on multiple fronts, only the biggest and splashiest one actually gets covered."


   Too, too funny

Mr. Trump, tear down this wall.

"In the same week that the House voted to reject Donald Trump's fantasy of a national emergency on the southern border, his precious border wall prototypes were actually torn down. Almost 60 former national security officials -- Republican and Democrat alike -- signed a letter stating that, quote, there is no factual basis, unquote, for such an emergency declaration. It further went on to say: 'Under no plausible assessment of the evidence is there a national emergency today that entitles the president to tap into funds appropriated for other purposes to build a wall at the southern border.' This letter was signed by Madeline Albright, Chuck Hagel, Thomas R. Pickering, John Kerry, and a host of others who have served both Republican and Democratic presidents. For good measure, two dozen former Republican congressmen signed a separate letter begging currently-serving Republicans to vote for the measure in the House to deny Trump his so-called national emergency. One Republican senator begged Trump to reverse himself on the Senate floor, and it looks likely that this measure will also pass the Republican Senate. All of this happened the same week that the Customs and Border Protection agency stated 'we don't necessarily have a purpose or use' for the border wall prototypes, and therefore 'we will be bringing them down.' All around, not a very positive week for Trump's precious wall."


   Hold the date!

It's always -- always -- all about Trump.

"Donald Trump just sent out what could possibly be the most brain-dead tweet he ever has ever written. Allow me to read it in full:"

HOLD THE DATE! We will be having one of the biggest gatherings in the history of Washington, D.C., on July 4th. It will be called "A Salute To America" and will be held at the Lincoln Memorial. Major fireworks display, entertainment and an address by your favorite President, me!

"Really? 'Hold the date' of July freakin' fourth?!? Because you'll be introducing a new celebration on the Mall? And it'll actually have fireworks and entertainment? This, of course, led to widespread mockery online, as everyone with two brain cells to rub together pointed out that Donald J. Trump was nothing short of an idiot if he expected anyone to buy this megalomania. My favorite response:"

HOLD THE DATE! We will be having one of the biggest candy giveaways in history on October 31st. It will be called "Halloween" and will be held in every neighborhood. Major pumpkin displays.

-- Chris Weigant


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Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground


47 Comments on “Friday Talking Points -- Trump Unites Washington!”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    When a possible presidential candidate gets a dishonourable mention for "casually" describing a sitting vice president of the United States as a decent guy, that's when I know, sadly, that there is little hope for the promise of America.

    The point that wasn't mentioned here is sadder still - at a prominent security conference in Munich, a large group of allies and other world leaders sat stone cold silent when Vice President Pence opened his remarks by saying that he is here on behalf of President Trump.

    Let that sink in for a while and wonder what it means.

    That Biden responded within 24 minutes to a valid criticism of his "casual" description of Pence - a criticism, mind you, that failed to account for Biden's long history of support for the LBGT community - should have been enough to nullify a casual dishonourable mention.


  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Do you suppose Trump is getting his, ahem, talking points from some foreign and adversarial government(s)?

  3. [3] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    HOLD THE DATE! We will be having one of the biggest reveals in the history of reveals on April 1st. It will be called "UFO's are real" and will be held at area 51 in roswell, NM. Major alien artifact display, parapsychology, definitive proof that obama is a secret muslim from kenya, and an address by your favorite President, Elvis!

  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


  5. [5] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    and pie!

  6. [6] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    That's better.

  7. [7] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Re TP 4

    We've talked about this before. Actually, Grassley is right, but I'd re-phrase it to more like "You've got only yourself to blame if your tax refund is EITHER bigger OR smaller than you'd like.

    Rational people would NEVER benefit financially from being 'overwithheld', it's stupid to make the gov't an interest-free loan for a year, while you pay high interest on borrowed money (credit card debt, mortgage debt, or whatever).

    However, if you're trying to save up some cash for any reason (car downpmt, major item purchase, etc), and you're too dumb to sock a little into bank or the credit union each payday, maybe overwithholding makes some slight degree of sense.

    If that's the case, you just need to adjust your W-4 with your employer to have more/less held out each payday. It's entirely your choice, and if you don't like the size of your refund either direction, it's all YOUR FAULT, not the IRS, not congress, not Trump, it's YOU!

  8. [8] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    One final point …

    When I clicked on the casually remarking link, I expected to be taken to the speech that Biden gave in Omaha or wherever it was but, instead, I was taken to an article that said Biden 'praised' Pence.

    Now, THAT's fake news.

  9. [9] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    If Biden does enter the race, then I think we should have a contest to discover the best Biden gaffe.

    With any luck, it'll go viral.

  10. [10] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    "...only a tiny handful of Bernie's small donors have topped out the maximum they're allowed to give..."


    How exactly is someone that has contributed the maximum allowable amount which is over 2000 dollars a small donor by any definition of the word?

    Of course only a tiny handful of contributors to Bernie for 2020 will have reached the maximum in a week or so.

    But these people making small contributions could contribute 50 dollars a week (a small contribution) for the next year and easily reach the maximum by this time in 2020.

    While this half-measure step in the right direction may have been appropriate in 2016 to get citizens to accept the idea that small contributions can work, that goal has been achieved and it is now time to take the next step.

    It is time for Bernie and for small contributors to to stop running a campaign with greater emphasis on small contributions and run a true small DONOR campaign.

    So Bernie Sanders (and any other candidates that are trying to pull the same deception) should be the MDDOTW for continuing the charade of the small contribution campaign being a small donor campaign.

    There is a difference. And you, See Bubble You,* should be pointing out the difference instead of pretending they are one in the same.

    * How's that for creative name-calling?

  11. [11] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    ...And Now For Something Completely Normal

    TP 1...It's completely normal for Trump to 'play nice' with these villains, he is, afterall, feathering his nest for life after the White House. He no doubt expects to enjoy financial gain in the 'aftertime'.

    TP 2...And why not be completely normal and act on your instincts as an elected official? It's a 50/50 to exercise your own opinion and act on behalf of your constituents when you are a public it or not, it's true.

    TP 3...Surely the GOP hypocrisy is completely normal where Cohen is concerned, they liked him just fine when he told their committee what they wanted to hear, then vilified him for fessing to lying before them...The difference being, the price he's going to pay for the lies they enjoyed.

    TP 5...Naturally, Grassley thinks it's completely normal to expect Joe Blow to be an idiot, he's been an elected official since Roman times...Stupidity knows itself and no other.

    TP 6...The wall will fence in all its proponents eventually. It's completely normal that notable people from both sides of the aisle pounce on the 'no wall' side, try and tell Texan and Arizonan land owners they have to cede land to an upstart New Yorker to put up a concrete barrier on their land...See what happens.

    TP 7...And finally, it's completely normal that Trump usurp another American reality and try to make it his own. The great economy was Obama's doing, the historically low unemployment...another Obama legacy. If Trump had his druthers, he'd declare Sunday prayer as his initiative too...I'd concede that to him, someone has to be the face of utter stupidity, he's the natural choice.


  12. [12] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    Shit...messed up, damn kids needed's completely normal to assume that some 300 elected officials manage a few tasks at a time. What's abnormal is having full sway over congress and the White house and still achieving a solid goose egg. That's simply not knowing how to walk and being unable to get to the store to buy gum.


  13. [13] 
    neilm wrote:

    CRS [7]

    Exactly right. It is a strange aspect of human nature.

    When I came over here almost 30 years ago the whole tax thing threw me.

    In the U.K. we'd have our taxes calculated for us and automatically deducted. The only people filling in tax forms were the self employed, etc. Most people never filed, never owed anything or got refunds etc.

    So I was asked my first day of work to fill out a W-4 - I talked to a couple of friends and they all said "Make your deductions high and you'll get a refund - it is like a present".

    It took me one tax cycle to wise up.

  14. [14] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:


    Wow, you probably oughta have your wife feel your forehead to see if you're running a fever. Anytime you agree with me, there's gotta be some medical problem.

  15. [15] 
    neilm wrote:

    TP7 is a doosey - can anybody take this clown seriously?

    TP4 - the insidious thing that the Republicans did was alter the withholding guidelines to bump paychecks before the 2018 midterms, and of course they did this without telling people that they would be getting a smaller return (that would have spoiled the story line).

  16. [16] 
    neilm wrote:

    Anytime you agree with me, there's gotta be some medical problem.

    She just did, while cutting my hair. Seems I'm running a bit hot - good call ;)

  17. [17] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    There's been some speculation about what Cohen is coming back next week to testify to, but someone let the cat out of the bag. It seems that, during the closed-door session, Cohen made a charge and was challenged: "Got any proof of that?" Some congressman sneered. "I do." said Cohen, which sent the committee reeling. So it seems that that evidence is coming.

    Here's another irony: the stuff, including the check the Trump signed, came from a box of stuff returned to Cohen by the SDNY, and were kept in a storage bin where Cohen lives - in the basement of Trump Tower! You just can't make this up.

  18. [18] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    It's worthy of note, Trump's 'tell' when he wants people to not look behind a certain curtain is to remain quiet when their names are mentioned. No snappy twitter twaddle. This being said, he's avoided mention of his accountant appearing before the house committee, for obvious reasons, I can't end well for Trump having his finances discussed openly. The most interesting person to land in front of the committee will be Felix Sater. He's the guy to talk to about Trump's sleazy dealings with ruskie oligarchs and money laundering. I just hope the folks on the committee have done their homework.


  19. [19] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Now I hear that Senator Biden is getting flack for explaining his comments to Cynthia Nixon instead of standing by his words.

    Who the heck is Cynthia Nixon, anyway. I mean WHO is she!?

    Maybe Biden will qualify for another dishonourable mention next Friday. And, maybe he'll get 1% in Iowa.

    As badly as the American people need a President Joe Biden, they do no deserve him.

  20. [20] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    They certainly do no!

  21. [21] 
    nypoet22 wrote:
  22. [22] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    i think biden would make a great president. maybe we'll learn from the last three white house residents we've elected as total novices. however, i shan't be holding my breath.

  23. [23] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    I have a general rule not to click on links but, I clicked anyway. That was one to prove the rule.

    Let me rephrase the question … who the heck does she think she is. Let that be the last time we hear from her.

    As for Biden, one more dishonourable mention around here and he's toast.

  24. [24] 
    John M wrote:

    [19] Elizabeth Miller

    "Who the heck is Cynthia Nixon, anyway. I mean WHO is she!?"

    In a short nutshell:

    1) One of the four main stars of the hit HBO TV and movie series "Sex In The City."

    2) A well known bi-sexual / current Lesbian American actress

    3) A loud voice in the liberal / progressive / LGBTQ community

    and finally

    4) A recent candidate for governor of the state of New York

  25. [25] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I knew that. :)

    So, what do you think of Biden?

  26. [26] 
    John M wrote:

    [23] Elizabeth Miller

    "Let me rephrase the question … who the heck does she think she is."

    That would be mostly my number 3 I think

  27. [27] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    5. Someone who doesn't deserve a President Biden. Heh.

  28. [28] 
    John M wrote:

    [25] Elizabeth Miller

    "So, what do you think of Biden?"

    I like Biden quite a lot. Always have. I think he'd make a good candidate. I think his gaffe was minor, as gaffes go, and he handled the response to Cynthia Nixon, who had a valid criticism, very well.

  29. [29] 
    John M wrote:

    People in this day and age forget that Joe Biden is from the old school, where actual bipartisanship existed, where you could fiercely oppose someone's political position, yet at the same time, be friends with them on a personal level. Like Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia being friends, or former Democratic Speaker of the House Tip O'Neil and Republican President Ronald Reagan.

  30. [30] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Very well put, John.

    I had hoped that more people would come to know that about Biden after 8 years as vice president.

    He'll probably be one of the best presidents that America never had.

    Hope I'm wrong and we can get back to those days ...

  31. [31] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    mom and apple pie?

  32. [32] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    oh, so much better that even that.

  33. [33] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Biden would be a fine candidate. His VP would be critical: not a lightweight, not this time.

  34. [34] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    i think biden-harris would be a great ticket

  35. [35] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    John M, Liz-
    Is that what bipartisanship is, having philosophical political differences but being friends personally?

    Why would we want to get back to that when it led to where we are now?

    It is what made the current BUY-partisanship possible.

    Whether it's the old bipartisanship or the current Buy-partisanship, we need to get AWAY from both of them.

    After all, despite their philosophical political differences both the RepubliCONS and Deceptocrats are friends with the Big Money interests and only pretending to be friends with ordinary citizens so they can manipulate ordinary citizens into buying into the show they put on to divide us and keep us from uniting against the Big Money interests.

  36. [36] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Nypoet (34)-
    Thanks, but I'm not interested in being Vice President or Biden's running mate. :D

  37. [37] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    if one thing is to be learned from donald's electoral success, effective propaganda and snappy sloganeering is super important. we always knew this to be so, but sometimes we forget that the voter brain is an emotional animal, not an intellectual engine. so liz, as much as we weigantians may want high-level intellectual debate, what's really going to make your dream a reality is a well framed talking point and a top notch catchphrase.



  38. [38] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    How aboot a well framed talking point and a top notch catch phrase in one?


    Democracy 101.

  39. [39] 
    nypoet22 wrote:
  40. [40] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Well, if Biden is the nominee, then, to fulfil my dream, his running mate would be Jerry Brown whose critical file and primary focus would be putting the US on the cutting edge of fighting climate change and restoring America's global leadership role on this issue.

    In any case, Biden would probably announce his running mate, and possibly secretary of state (John Kerry) soon after becoming the nominee.

    I have some thoughts on Treasury secretary (on which I'll have to remain mum until after the nomination, ahem)and on who should be the next head of the CFPB, a woman for whom this post was made.

  41. [41] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    In any case, Biden would probably announce his running mate, and possibly secretary of state (John Kerry) soon after becoming the nominee.

    Actually, what I meant to say here is that he'd probably announce these picks strategically, in one of the Democratic debates. Just like he did the last time when you could find me bouncing off the walls. Not literally. :)

  42. [42] 
    TheStig wrote:


    I think Felix Sater is likely to be the most colorful witness, but ultimately a bit John LeCarre novel murky (is there any side this guy ISN'T working for and/or against?) but ultimately in the middle of the food chain that is Trump's "business."

    Allen Weisselberg, CFO of the Trump Organization, now that is the person who can sink Trump in an afternoon. He understands the entire "business" structure and has every incentive to be a very cooperative witness. Accountants are well aware of the legal perils that come with the job and they keep lots of records.

    The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO)Act was made to prosecute people like Trump. Just remember the old cough drop ads from the late 1990s... Rico Law, Rico Law. :)

  43. [43] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    [Biden's] VP would be critical: not a lightweight, not this time.

    That's an interesting point.

    But, I'm not sure what you're saying about Biden's choice for a running mate. Could you elaborate a bit?

  44. [44] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    Were Biden to run, and I've long maintained he will, he'd be well advised to pick an independent, or at least a well known moderate. Trump is a political neophyte, and has already shown the GOP's hand as to their election platform...'death to socialism' or at least the tepid version now being discussed.

    Now don't take this the wrong way, or out of it's context, American voters can't be trusted to turn out for elections, let alone make an informed no no. Clinton fell at the last hurdle because she was an uninspiring character and had far too much baggage. The Dems, and Biden, need to dig up a squeaky-clean bible-thumping white male of middling political bias... A Pence 2.0, if you like. Next best choice would be a popular Floridian politician, if one exists...being the biggest swing state, it couldn't hurt.

    To be clear, I think a Bernie/Biden ticket would be problematic for the progressive wing of the party to wrap their heads around. Personally, I'd like to see a Biden/Booker or Biden/Harris ticket... Warren is too toxic to help in any other capacity than as a spittoon for Trump's twitter-spittle, and Bernie (sadly) will be painted as the poster child for the weak-tea version of socialism that's so feared.

    2020 is the Dems to lose only. After four million years, and twice as many lies, people are exhausted with Trump's bread and circuses, give the independents a anything that resembles a normal choice, they'll bite your hand off, as I suspect most republicans will too, given the alternative.


  45. [45] 
    Kick wrote:


    I agree with you on this point, Stucki, and I'm not ill nor under the influence of any mind-altering substance(s). :)

  46. [46] 
    Kick wrote:

    Speaking of mind-altering substances, Beto just called for the legalization of marijuana.

    Run Beto, run. ;)

  47. [47] 
    Kick wrote:


    Who the heck is Cynthia Nixon, anyway. I mean WHO is she!?

    Richard Nixon's daughter... as far as you know. ;)

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