Friday Talking Points -- Banana Republicans

[ Posted Friday, August 19th, 2022 – 16:51 UTC ]

President Joe Biden had a very good week the previous week, and he followed that up with another good week this week as well. A bill which is going to become one of the signature pieces of his presidential legacy passed the House last Friday, and on Tuesday Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law. Perhaps we should call it "Biden's Obamacare," because it really is just as impressive a piece of legislation.

We'll get to touting the individual reforms and new projects this bill will usher in later, though (down in the talking points), so we're only going to briefly mention it here at the top of the column. Biden -- wisely -- has scheduled a much bigger celebration of the new law for early September, after Labor Day and when more people are paying attention to the midterm campaign, so he'll have one more victory lap to take soon.

The news from Trumpland continued to spew forth this week, both fast and furious (in both senses of that word) -- so much news that we're going to just quickly run down this week's developments in shorthand fashion here:

House Democrats have sent a letter to the National Intelligence Director, asking for a briefing on just how serious the classified information Donald Trump was illegally hording actually was. This will be a closed-door briefing, but this would also be a critical piece of information for the public to learn (even in the abstract): how serious a breach in national security was this?

Trump is reportedly thinking about releasing the security footage from his golf resort during the execution of the search warrant, which may show F.B.I. agents' faces (and thus put them in danger from the violent wing of the MAGA crowd). So far, he has not done so, although Breitbart has already released a copy of the search warrant which showed agents' names (which had been redacted in the official public release of the document). Nothing like putting federal agents' lives at risk to gain a few political points, eh?

In related news, the F.B.I. and Department of Justice issued a joint intelligence bulletin warning of "violent threats" against federal law enforcement officers, courts, and government personnel and facilities.

Many Republicans who hit Democrats hard for the "defund the police" idea have now fully embraced it as their own: "defund the F.B.I." merchandise is being peddled by some Republicans.

That's not far enough for one GOP House candidate, though, who suggested this week that Attorney General Merrick Garland "should not only be impeached, he probably should be executed." So much for the "law and order" party, eh?

A judge signalled he was inclined to release at least a redacted version of the affidavit that accompanied the search warrant, and has given the Department of Justice one week to come up with proposed redactions (which could be so extensive that little of the document is actually released).

Because he is Donald Trump, "there's a video for that." From his initial run for the presidency, a clip of Trump stating: "In my administration, I'm going to enforce all laws concerning the protection of classified information" made the rounds this week. Promise made, promise broken! Lock him up!

One as-yet-unnamed Trump lawyer may be on the legal hot seat for signing a document stating that there were no more classified documents at Trump's golf resort... you know, except for those 27 boxes of stuff the F.B.I. hauled away.

Trump has, of course, continued to whine about everything and everybody being so mean to him, which has (also of course) meant his rubes have dug deep and are sending him millions of dollars once again on a daily basis. Hey, grifters gotta grift, right?

Trump floated a magic "get out of jail free" excuse for him having classified documents -- that he had some sort of "standing order" that anything he took outside the Oval Office was (hey presto!) somehow magically "declassified" just by him doing so.

Here is how a few Trump White House veterans reacted to such a farfetched notion:

But, according to 18 officials from his administration who spoke to CNN, no such order was ever issued.

Several officials reportedly laughed or scoffed at the notion. One called it "bullshit."

Many of them even went on the record.

John Kelly, who was Trump's chief of staff from 2017 to 2019, told CNN that "nothing approaching an order that foolish was ever given" during his tenure.

"And I can't imagine anyone that worked at the White House after me that would have simply shrugged their shoulders and allowed that order to go forward without dying in the ditch trying to stop it," he added.

Mick Mulvaney, Kelly's successor, also said he was not aware of any such order.

Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton called Trump's claim "a complete fiction." Olivia Troye, who was a homeland security adviser to former Vice President Mike Pence, called the idea of a blanket declassification "ludicrous."

On another legal front, Rudy Giuliani finally showed up to testify in Georgia, after claiming his health was simply too frail to fly down there. The judge rebuked Rudy, gave him one week to get his sorry butt down there, and Rudy meekly did so. Rudy, who is now an actual target of the investigation, reportedly testified for six hours before the grand jury looking into all the election tampering which happened in the state after the 2020 election, but no word has yet leaked on what he actually said. Oh, and then Rudy flew home to New York, because he lies like a rug.

More bad legal news for Trump -- Alan Weisselberg pleaded guilty to over a dozen felonies this week, all committed while he was the chief financial officer of the Trump organization. He reached a plea deal which will force him to testify against the Trump Organization in an upcoming trial, but he will not have to testify against Donald Trump himself. Just chalk him up as another criminal from Trump's inner circle.

Trump's not doing so well in the right-wing media echo chamber this week, as first Laura Ingraham speculated that the GOP voters (not her of course, just a hypothetical situation, you understand...) might be ready to move on: "The country I think is so exhausted. They're exhausted by the battle, the constant battle, that they may believe that, well, maybe it's time to turn the page if we can get someone who has all Trump's policies, who's not Trump."

If that was heresy in Trumpworld, this was outright blasphemy: Alex Jones, conspiracy theorist extraordinaire, didn't mince words and just went ahead and dumped Trump, while throwing his weight behind Ron DeSantis: "We have someone who is better than Trump. Way better than Trump."

And one final media footnote to the Trumpian news this week:

Having recovered from their initial shock over the FBI's search of Donald Trump's Florida estate, Russian experts and pundits started to dismiss it as much ado about nothing, albeit a convenient tale they could use to smear American democracy. Now they're singing a different tune. In the most recent broadcast of the state TV show Sunday Evening With Vladimir Solovyov, host Vladimir Solovyov remarked, "I'm very worried for our agent Trump. They found everything at Mar-a-Lago, they got packages of documents. In all seriousness, they say he should be executed as a person that was ready to hand off nuclear secrets to Russia."

Got that? "Our agent Trump." There it is, straight from the mouth of a Putin propagandist. Solovyov later wondered what would happen if Trump were to be declared a Russian spy: "Will we try to exchange him to bring Trump to Russia? Will they include Trump on the prisoner exchange list?"

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

We're almost to the end of the primary season, and the outcome of this week's big race surprised exactly no one -- Liz Cheney went down in flames and got successfully primaried by a Trumpian acolyte. She read a fiery concession speech that instantly got everyone wondering if she's going to mount a 2024 run for the presidency.

There was some other big primary news as well, but we're going to save it for the awards portion of the show.

We'll finish with a hodgepodge of amusing and interesting stories that caught our eye this week, just for your amusement.

A Trump-endorsed (naturally) candidate for the House apparently is too stupid to understand a basic American political metaphor, which he proved when he just went ahead and opened his mouth and removed all doubt (while speaking about the search warrant served on Trump):

A lot of people have likened the situation going on right now, is, you know, they say we're in a Banana Republic. I think that's an insult to Banana Republics across the country. I mean, at least the manager of Banana Republic, unlike our president, knows where he is and why he's there and what he's doing.

Hoo boy. Stupid is as stupid does... I guess you could call him a "banana Republican"?

If you want to contribute to the Ukrainian war effort, there's now a novel way to do so -- sponsor a bomb or artillery shell and you can get your own personalized message written on it before it is launched against the invading Russian army. Multiple munitions are available, with a sliding price scale!

Two cringeworthy items were worth mentioning, for different reasons. Jared Kushner's book got an unbelievably bad review ("Kushner looks like a mannequin, and he writes like one") in the New York Times this week. Here's the best paragraph:

This book is like a tour of a once majestic 18th-century wooden house, now burned to its foundations, that focuses solely on, and rejoices in, what's left amid the ashes: the two singed bathtubs, the gravel driveway and the mailbox. Kushner's fealty to Trump remains absolute. Reading this book reminded me of watching a cat lick a dog's eye goo.

Ouch. Tell us how you really felt!

And ex-jailbird (and ex-Illinois governor) Rod "Blaggy" Blagojevich is apparently having fun these days being an Elvis imitator. You just cannot make this stuff up, folks! Here is a thankfully-short clip of him singing "Jailhouse Rock" (because, of course), which is about as good as listening to drunken karaoke in a bowling alley's bar about 15 minutes before closing time (in other words: you have been warned!).

Much more enjoyable this week was watching Al Franken guest host for Jimmy Kimmel this week. The video of his whole monologue is worth watching (if you like Franken's style of humor), but here's a link that is cued up to perhaps the funniest part of it.

And finally, we are happy to report we are able to end on a feel-good story this week. This seems appropriate after listening to Trump whine about all the "witch hunts" against him over the past few years (which have actually caught a number of criminals -- here's a handy scorecard, in case you've forgotten).

A wonderful article by former eighth-grade student Sarina E. Miller appeared in the Washington Post today, in which the author recounts her North Andover Middle School civics class completing a project to get an official pardon from the state of Massachusetts for the only remaining unpardoned woman convicted of being an actual witch, in Salem, over 300 years ago. She wasn't executed for her "crime," which is why she wasn't included in a previously-successful attempt to exonerate all the legal records. So the eighth-graders sprang into action, stuck with it through bureaucratic swamps, persevered, and finally secured a full pardon for Elizabeth Johnson Junior, the last of the "Salem witches."

If that's not a feel-good story, we don't know what is. Here are the final two paragraphs from the article:

What inspired me most about this project, though, is that we did more than just study history: We corrected a past wrong by advocating for [Elizabeth Johnson Junior]'s exoneration when she could not do it herself. We gave power to a person who never had a voice of her own. As someone who cares about equal rights for everyone, I hope that absolving Johnson will be a reminder that it is unjust to use a person's social class, marriage standing, gender or any other identity or trait to deny them their rights. And lifting up E.J.J.'s example will be just the start of me and my peers' work toward a society where all voices can be heard.

Thanks to a couple of eighth-grade classes, there are, at last, no more Salem "witches." People say those who don't learn history are doomed to repeat it. Why can't some middle-schoolers who changed history change the future, too?


Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week

We have two standout candidates for the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award and we found we could not choose between them because we felt that both of their accomplishments were far too impressive for just an Honorable Mention.

The first one is highly amusing, which is pretty much par for the course in the campaign of John Fetterman. He's the Pennsylvania Democrat running for the Senate against Mehmet "Dr." Oz, an interloper from New Jersey. And Fetterman didn't just get crude in attacking Oz, he went full crudités.

Way back in April, someone on Team Oz decided it'd be a good idea to have the candidate do a "relatable" campaign ad. The ostensible purpose was to hit Joe Biden (and by extension Fetterman) on inflation and high prices, by showing Oz on an obviously-staged-and-bogus shopping trip for his wife. The only problem? Oz turned in the most cringeworthy "rich guy pretending to be an Average Joe without possessing a single clue of what that actually means" performance since Mitt Romney ran for president. Seriously, it was that bad.

In the first place, it is painfully obvious that Oz had never before been in a Pennsylvania supermarket (it's doubtful how long it has been since he ever set foot in any grocery store, in fact, which is understandable because most multimillionaires who live in palatial mansions rarely do their own shopping chores). He mangles the name of the store, mashing up two popular Pennsylvania markets (Wegmans and Redner's) and somehow coming up with "Wegner's." As Rick Perry might have said: "Oops."

Oz, determined to be average and normal (in order to relate to all the Joe and Jane Sixpacks in Pennsylvania), starts off by saying he's casually doing "some grocery shopping" for his wife... for crudités. He picks up some broccoli, asparagus, carrots, salsa, and guacamole, and pretends to be aghast at the prices. He ends, bizarrely, with: "Guys, that's $20 for crudités and that doesn't include the tequila." Um... tequila? Since when is tequila a required part of a crudités platter? Oz doesn't say. Also, as many have pointed out, you can't even buy liquor in a Pennsylvania grocery store -- something Oz would know, if he actually (1) lived in the state, and (2) had ever set foot in a grocery store with "vodka" on his list.

For some reason, even though this ad dropped back in April, it went viral this week. Fetterman gleefully mocked the cluelessness of his opponent in several tweets: "In PA we call this a veggie tray." He helpfully showed what a Pennsylvanian would pick up if one were actually shopping for such a thing. He then proceeded to raise over half a million bucks off the fiasco, in part by selling stickers from "Wegners" which read: "Let Them Eat Crudités."

The internet, of course, had an absolute field day. Best comment we saw: "Clean up on Aisle Oz." But, hands down, the funniest reaction was from a Chicago comedian, who posted a video of herself dressed in a grocery-store employee smock, pretending to be helpful to a bizarre customer while the Oz soundtrack runs in the background (example: "Do you need a basket or anything?"). It is absolutely hilarious, and we highly recommend you take a look.

There's already a fake Twitter account for the non-existent "Wegners" which proudly proclaimed the comic was their new "Employee of the Month."

Sure, the whole thing was funny. As we said, Oz exhibits a truly Romneyesque level of being out-of-touch with average voters' lives. But the whole point is that Fetterman saw the weakness and then just hammered it home, with glee. This is not just a Democrat having fun on the campaign trail and bringing the fight directly to a clueless Republican, this is an effective Democrat.

Oz is dropping like a stone in the polls, every time Fetterman points out what a Hollywood carpetbagger he truly is. In fact, the polling in the Keystone State is so good now -- Fetterman is consistently and healthily up by double digits -- that the pundits are moving this Senate race from "tossup" to "leans Democrat." This seat would be a pickup for Democrats, which is why it is so important. Republicans are even pulling millions of dollars of ad support out of Pennsylvania, because they're already realizing it is a doomed effort to try to get this television snake-oil salesman over the finish line.

And that is impressive. Which is why John Fetterman is one of our winners of the MIDOTW award this week. We look forward to him taking his seat in the Senate, and we look forward to him schooling other Democrats on how to effectively campaign in a swing state.

Our other winner this week is a Native Alaskan (Yup'ik) woman who turned in a rather astounding performance in two races for the same House seat this week. Mary Peltola was running against Sarah Palin, and she beat her. At least, for now.

We wrote about this extensively both before the primary election took place and afterwards (because we were so stunned at the outcome), but the upshot is that Peltola got more votes than two prominent Republicans in two separate races. One is for the full term of the House seat (which is Alaska's only seat, it is a statewide "at-large" race), and one is to fill in the final months of this year's term, since the guy who had held this office for 50 years suddenly died earlier in the year.

In the primary, Peltola was in first place, which guarantees her a spot on the November ballot (with the other top-4 finishers). But in the special election (which had had a primary earlier), Peltola was up 6 points on Palin and the final outcome (under Alaska's new ranked-choice voting system) will depend on the second choices of the voters who voted for the third-place guy (another Republican).

Peltola will need roughly one-third of the votes that went for the non-Palin Republican, so it is anyone's guess what is going to happen. Will GOP voters who couldn't stand to vote for Palin actually choose a Democrat over a Palin vote? Or will they put party first and give Sarah their second-choice vote? We won't know until next week at the earliest, and perhaps not until the end of the month.

But the stunning (and more than a little impressive) thing is that a Democrat has a chance of winning the race. Against Sarah Palin, no less.

The national political media were rather slow on picking up on this astonishing result (they were more interested in Liz Cheney and Lisa Murkowski), but they did finally get around to spotlighting Peltola.

We certainly don't know how the race will turn out, but while we are indeed hoping Peltola pulls off this stunning upset, the fact that she made it this far -- out in front of two Republicans at this writing -- is beyond impressive. So we had to award her a Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award too. Well done, to both Peltola and Fetterman!

[Congratulate Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman on his official state contact page, to let him know you appreciate his efforts. Mary Peltola is a private citizen running for office, and it is our standing policy not to link to campaign websites, so you'll have to search her contact information out for yourself.]


Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week

We had one candidate for the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award who is a repeat offender here, but even the news that Senator Kyrsten Sinema has been (of course!) raking in donations from hedge fund managers and their ilk, all of whom Sinema went to bat for in the negotiations over the Inflation Reduction Act. Sinema stood tall for the right of these Wall Street zillionaires to pay far less in taxes than every normal worker in America, because Sinema simply hasn't met a wealthy donor she won't fight hard for. And fighting that fight pays off -- to the tune of a cool million bucks in the past year alone.

But, we have to admit, this kind of falls under the heading of: "This just in: water is wet!" news -- not exactly shocking and unexpected, in other words. So we'll just hand her another (Dis-)Honorable Mention award and move on.

Instead, we had a much clearer choice, this week. Here are the disgraceful details:

The FBI arrested former one-term Democratic Rep. T.J. Cox on dozens of charges related to financial fraud, according to public records with the Fresno County Sheriff's Office.

The arrest took place around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at the federal courthouse in Fresno, Calif., according to the records. A statement from the Justice Department said the former congressman was charged with "15 counts of wire fraud, 11 counts of money laundering, one count of financial institution fraud, and one count of campaign contribution fraud."

If convicted in the 28-count indictment, Cox faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for wire fraud and money laundering, according to the Justice Department. Cox is expected to be arraigned at 5 p.m. EST on Tuesday and is currently in custody.

The federal indictment accuses Cox of using a cluster of business entities to enrich himself while saddling business partners with losses. The document describes a scheme in which Cox siphoned off money into secret accounts and used the proceeds to pay off his own debts, cover personal costs like private school tuition and fund his political ambitions. He allegedly fabricated a board meeting to secure loan funding and lied on a mortgage loan application.

In a statement, DOJ said the California Democrat allegedly participated in "multiple fraud schemes" over a number of years. Between 2013 and 2018, he allegedly obtained "over $1.7 million in diverted client payments and company loans and investments" through off-the-books bank accounts.

We hate to pre-judge, but a "28-count indictment" sounds like a slam-dunk type of case. And these sorts of things tend to leave a damning paper trail behind them. So while Cox is still "innocent until proven guilty," we have to say that we're not exactly expecting him to be fully exonerated.

Which is why we're adding to the woes of T.J. Cox this week, by piling on with a Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award.

[T.J. Cox is a private citizen, and we do not provide contact information for such persons as a rule, so you'll have to search his info out for yourself if you'd like to let him know what you think of his actions.]


Friday Talking Points

Volume 673 (8/19/22)

Today's talking points section is in two parts. The first, we will fully admit, is no more than stenography. Not even, it is more accurately "copy-and-paste-ography," since we didn't even have to type it all out ourselves. It all comes from an interview Politico held with White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, who lays out President Biden's record with admirable clarity and brevity. These are the talking points Democrats should be echoing out on the campaign trail, and we found there was just no way we could compete with such masterful wordsmithing. So we present three excerpts from the interview from Klain to get us started this week.

One quote from Klain that wasn't so applicable as a Democratic candidate's talking point but is well worth including here was his response when asked about Biden's public profile:

I don't think it's true he's out there less than his predecessors. I just think Donald Trump created an expectation of a president creating a shitstorm every single day. And that led to a cycle of cable news coverage and Twitter and so on.

Truer words were never spoken. But moving right along....

The second segment today consists of four talking points constructed around polling. Democrats need to point out to the public -- and almost more importantly, the national political media -- that the all of the stuff in the Inflation Reduction Act is wildly popular with the American people, and that Republicans voted against all of it. This all came from one tweet which gave a great rundown on the approval gaps when all these issues were polled, we should mention (to give credit where it is due). Politico also has the full breakdown of the poll responses, for those interested in the raw data.


   A record to take to the American people

Klain begins by name-checking some impressive former presidents, and measuring up what Biden has accomplished by the metric of what they managed to get done:

We now have a presidency where the president has delivered the largest economic recovery plan since [Franklin D.] Roosevelt, the largest infrastructure plan since [Dwight D.] Eisenhower, the most judges confirmed since [John F.] Kennedy, the second-largest health care bill since [Lyndon B.] Johnson and the largest climate change bill in history.... The first time we've done gun control since President [Bill] Clinton was here, the first time ever an African-American woman has been put on the U.S. Supreme Court.... I think it's a record to take to the American people.


   What have Democrats done? Plenty.

Tell the people what Democrats have accomplished by passing this law.

Elections are choices, and the choice just couldn't be any clearer right now. Democrats have stood up to the big special interests. They stood up to the big corporations and insisted that all corporations pay minimum taxes, stood up to the big oil companies and passed climate change legislation. They stood up to Big Pharma and passed prescription drug legislation. They stood up to the gun industry and passed gun control legislation. Things that this city [was] unable to deliver on for decades because the special interests had things locked down, Joe Biden and his allies in Congress have been able to deliver on.


   Republicans fought it all

Draw the distinction as clearly as possible: Republicans fought us on all of this stuff.

We have an extreme MAGA group in the Republican Party that has no real plan to bring down inflation. They obviously want to pass a nationwide ban on abortion. They sided with Big Pharma. They sided with the climate deniers. They sided with -- most of them sided with... the gun lobby. And so I think that choice [is] between a party that's standing up to the special interests and delivering change, and... an extreme party, a party that's talking about, well, some of the leaders talking about abolishing Social Security and Medicare every five years.... The extreme nature of our opponents, whether it's with regard to democracy or Social Security, are all part of a movement that is just very different than we've seen in recent years in this country.


   Net support gap

Lean heavily on these numbers. Repeat them so many times that the media is finally forced to admit how popular all this stuff truly is.

"A recent poll asked respondents about the specific items in the Inflation Reduction Act, whether people supported such plans or not. Not surprisingly, all the things which the political pundits love to lump into the 'extreme lefty' or 'radical progressive' pile are actually more mainstream than just about any other issue you can name. Here are some of the numbers just on the medical reforms in the bill. Placing caps on prescription drug price increases? Over three-fourths of the American public -- 76 percent -- support that idea. Only 13 percent oppose it. The net support for it is a whopping 63 percentage points. Allowing Medicare to negotiate some prescription drug prices? That clocked in at 73 percent support, 13 percent opposed -- a net of 60 points in support. Limiting annual out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries to only $2,000 per year? A full 72 percent of the public supports that concept, which will positively impact millions of seniors' budgets, while only 15 percent oppose it, for a net support of 57 percent. When issues poll this stratospherically-high, it is absolutely wrong to label them 'extreme' or 'radical' -- you simply cannot get more mainstream than these numbers, folks."


   Strong support for climate agenda too

These numbers aren't quite as high as the healthcare reforms, which is why we led with them first. But they're still pretty impressive.

"President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act which contains the biggest investment in attacking climate change in American history. We can all see the changes already happening around us on a yearly basis -- wildfires, floods, powerful hurricanes -- and it is a relief to finally see the federal government take meaningful action. Two questions were asked on that poll about the climate provisions, and both were also overwhelmingly popular. Providing $60 billion in incentives for clean energy manufacturing in the U.S. polled at 59 percent support to only 28 percent opposition -- a net support of 31 points. Investing $369 billion in climate and energy programs over the next 10 years got 54 percent support and 33 percent opposition, a net support of 21 points. It is not just young voters who care about the future of our planet. A lot of voters have been waiting for something like this to happen for a very long time now, and Democrats delivered."


   Make them pay!

Fight the Republican scare tactics they are already attempting.

"Republicans are going around saying Democrats have 'raised everybody's taxes,' which is just so wrong it is laughable. What Democrats did was to tell all the humongous corporations that have enjoyed setting up their operations in America -- while paying zero in taxes each year to support the country's infrastructure, which they benefit heavily from -- that enough is enough! It is time to pay your fair share. You cannot tell the I.R.S. that you somehow made zero profit last year while telling your shareholders you raked in billions any more. From now on, these corporations will have to pay a 15 percent minimum corporate tax rather than exploiting the tax code to bring their taxes down to zero. And you know what? Over six out of ten -- 61 percent -- of the American people support that concept. Only 24 percent disagree. No corporation that makes billions in profits is going to get off scot-free ever again, because Democrats stood up to them and told them: 'The free ride is over -- it is time for you to start paying your fair share now.'"


   Republicans promise, Democrats deliver

Democrats might as well get some mileage out of this one, since it is one of those issues that Republicans love to make sweeping promises on that they never actually deliver.

"The Inflation Reduction Act is going to reduce the federal budget deficit by $300 billion. Republicans love to run on the issue of tackling the deficit, but whenever they get into power they always fall all over themselves to hand so much in tax giveaways to the wealthy and Wall Street that they wind up blowing up the deficit even further. Democrats are truly the party of fiscal responsibility -- because we don't just make empty promises, we deliver. And you know what? Reducing the deficit by $300 billion is supported by 72 percent of Americans and opposed by only 11 percent. And no Republican voted for it. That's something for the voters to consider in November."

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground


62 Comments on “Friday Talking Points -- Banana Republicans”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Great talking points, all!

    I would just add the following ...

    TP#8: A common perception out there - which extends beyond the borders of the US, I might add - is that Republicans are better stewards of the economy than are Democrats. But, this has long been an un-truism.

    In fact, the Republican cult of economic failure (an apt phrase coined by David Fiderer -see link below) has a long demonstrable record of leaving economic messes on the Herculean order of magnitude of the Augean Stables for Democratic administrations to clean up, time and time again.

    And, just as bad, congressional Republicans, especially these days, work to block any and all Democratic tax and fiscal policies that improve the economic outlook for Americans and make the economy more resilient.

    Democrats are by far the better stewards of the economy, anyway you slice that pie!

    Republican Cult of Economic Failure

  2. [2] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    I promised I wouldn't comment until the Democrats lose control in November; the FTP columns subsequent to that Friday more than a year ago reaffirmed my opinion, sadly.

    But with this FTP I will gladly 'eat crow'. Bravo, Chris, for this exciting, motivating list of 'Democrats getting things done'.

    *THIS* is what every week's 'Talking Points' should be like when the Democrats control the agenda in Washington (attempted coup or Supreme Court gutting women's rights weeks excluded).

    You can bronze this one as the paradigm of what voters want to hear when your party is in power.

  3. [3] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    So what happens when the Dems don't lose control in November? Because they're not going to. The Senate will see Dems add seats for Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and they'll keep Georgia (Hershel Walker -- are you kidding me?)

    The House is NOT a lock to go Repug. CW didn't make up anything in today's cheery FTP column and what do Repugs offer in comparison?

  4. [4] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Great FTP's, CW! I tip my cap to you.

    And the three messages [1, 2, 3] that start us off are all spot on!

    The ads Democrats put out there should be hitting all of the things that Democrats have accomplished so far, while highlighting as well the things that they would have gotten accomplished had the Republican Party not voted to block them.

    I want to see Republican politicians have to explain why they decided that my nephew's insulin should cost $300 instead of being capped at $35 like the Democrats were trying to get it capped at?

    I have to believe that Janet Jackson would authorize her song, What have you done for me lately? being used and playing in the background of commercials where we ask Republicans to answer the question while educating the public on all of the ways the GOP has worked against Americans.

    "It's a simple question, Republicans... "What have you done for me lately?"

  5. [5] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    I happened to have YouTube playing random videos yesterday as I was cleaning the kitchen when the video of Biden addressing the crowd the day of the signing of The Pact Act for Veterans started playing. This is the video where the President gushes over how hard Jon Stewart worked on behalf of the veterans suffering from burn pits and Stewart receives a well deserved standing ovation. (Side note: Good luck keeping a dry eye while watching this, I just want to warn those who have yet to see it.)

    The videos that played just before this one had been 3 or 4 videos of Trump talking to the public about... well,it wasn't always clear what he was supposed to addressing in his speeches, but they always ended up being Trump talking about HIMSELF!

    It didn't matter if it was Trump complaining about how he was the victim of the mean liberal media or if it was Trump praising himself for all that he had supposedly accomplished; he might as well have just stood there hugging himself while mumbling "ME, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME!"

    Or God forbid, showing video of him "dancing" (AKA using both hands to jack off invisible dicks) to the Village People singing Macho Man! Whoever told Trump that the people love it when he dances like that did/does not have Trump's best interests at heart -- that much is clear!

    I think that is why the Biden video was so striking to me... Joe Biden wasn't talking about himself in the video. Biden was lavishing well earned and heartfelt praise to everyone else! Biden did not need to be the focus of the praise! And it was clear that he took great job in lifting up others for their deeds. It was incredibly refreshing to remember that this is WHAT WE USED TO EXPECT when a President spoke to us!

  6. [6] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Re TP3 "The Rep party has no real plan to bring down inflation"

    The price inflation we are currently experiencing is almost totally the result of the monetary inflation ("aka stimulus payments") of the last three yrs created to restore the demand lost during the 'Dempanic'.

    Neither party has offered any solution to that problem, because the only possible one (monetary DEflatio) simply is not realistically possible.

  7. [7] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Or God forbid, showing video of him "dancing" (AKA using both hands to jack off invisible dicks) to the Village People singing Macho Man!

    Oh. My. God.

    That's simply priceless.


    Much of the inflation is due to Covid related supply chain issues. This is why inflation is worldwide with America ranked in the middle of the pack.

    All governments in the development world have been binge printing money for years now -- how else could they provide for their people amid economic chaos.

    The best way to take money out of circulation is to roll back Trump's tax cuts. We the People will put it to far better use than sitting in an offshore account, no?

  8. [8] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Caddie [7]

    True about "binge printing" (binge 'creating' would be more accurate. Nct much money is actually 'printed' anymore.) However, all 'creating' is NOT equal, nor even close to equal. The infamous QE was definitely a case of creating vast amounts of money 'out of thin air', as we say about the Fed, but it wasn't distributed "helicopter money" style, as was the 'stimulus money'. It was actually loanded to banks in hopes that people would borrow it, but most of it never circulated.

    And monetary inflation really doesn't amount to "providing for their people". As Milton Friedman pointed oudt, money only has value as an exchange medium. You can't eat it, you can';t wear it, you can't shelter under it, and if there is so much of it that nobody will accept it (think Venezuela, etc), it becomes worthless.

  9. [9] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    So Stimulus checks should not have gone out but tax cuts for the rich are okay?

  10. [10] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:


    Don't know where that came from. I never said that the stimulus checks "should not have gone out", nor that tax cuts for the rich are OK!

    If somebody were to ask my opinion on monetary inflation for economic stimulus purposes, I'd say fine, just don't be surprised at the consequences.

  11. [11] 
    dsws wrote:

    Got that? "Our agent Trump." There it is, straight from the mouth of a Putin propagandist.

    Ok, so there's one thing Trump is exonerated of. Even he can't be guilty of everything.

    No corporation that makes billions in profits is going to get off scot-free ever again, because Democrats stood up to them and told them: 'The free ride is over -- it is time for you to start paying your fair share now.'

    Here's the text of a Facebook post of mine, from 2019, possibly in a box:

    Corporations are not people. When a corporation owns something or buys something or sells something or transfers some money, and so on, there isn't really an additional person there who owns, buys, etc. There's the management, workers, shareholders, bondholders, and so on.

    It does not matter how much tax a corporation itself pays. You can't be fair or unfair to a corporation, because it's not a person.

    What matters is how the tax burden is distributed among the people involved: customers, suppliers, management, workers, creditors, shareholders. If a company gets paid for something, the customer is really paying the workers who made it, the engineers who designed it, the managers who ran the process, the shareholders and bondholders who paid for the buildings and equipment, and so on. It doesn't matter, for its own sake, whether the customer paid an income tax before deciding what to buy, or whether there was a sales tax nominally paid by the customer, or whether there was a sales tax nominally paid by the seller, or whether there was a value-added tax charged incrementally at several stages of production, or whether there's a tax on the firm's revenue, or whether there's a payroll and dividend tax nominally paid by the firm as the money goes to the workers shareholders etc., or whether there's an income tax paid by the employees. What does matter his how the effect of the tax on actual people is distributed, and what incentives actual people face when making decisions at work and as customers.

    Taxes are costs that have to be paid, if we're going to have government do the stuff we've collectively decided that it's going to do. Those costs should be allocated so as to do the least harm. Taxes do harm in two ways: directly, by depriving people of the stuff they could have bought with the money if the hadn't had to pay the tax, and indirectly, by distorting the incentives people face when deciding what goods and services to buy.

    If there's a tax on product A but not on product B, people will buy more B and less A. Normally, that makes things less efficient. Not always: if A has hidden costs that aren't reflected in its price, via its effects on the environment for example, then the tax can make the economy more efficient by shifting consumption to B. Likewise if B has hidden benefits that aren't reflected in its price. But that kind of situation can't cover the entire cost of government; normally, taxes decrease efficiency, causing a so-called "dead-weight loss" in addition to costing the taxpayer the money that's actually collected.
    Those costs are effects on real people, and they should be minimized, within the constraints of having to pay for government. Effects on corporations don't matter. It can't be unfair that one corporation has to pay too much tax, or unfair that another corporation gets to pay too little.

    A tax on corporate profits is good if it means the tax burden on actual people gets allocated more fairly or efficiently, and bad if it means that that allocation is less fair or efficient. To say that it matters in itself is to implicitly buy the assumption that corporations are people.

    I don't think this is the tag for putting text in a box that was mentioned a while back, but it's the tag I found on the "Commenting Tips" page.

  12. [12] 
    dsws wrote:

    Ok, that's not in a box.

  13. [13] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


  14. [14] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:
  15. [15] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


  16. [16] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    But, you have to use the other type brackets.

    Hi Dan!

  17. [17] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I can't tell you who taught me that! :-)

  18. [18] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    MtnCaddy [3],

    If the Democrats *don't* lose the Senate, I will take a sigh of relief - and look forward to even more Biden appointees occupying the federal bench in 2023 and 2024.

    If the Democrats *don't* lose the House, they will be defying historical trends (of which pundits have been informing us since at least 21 January, 2021). In THAT case, I will dance a jig! :)

  19. [19] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    ListenWhenYouHear [4],

    I couldn't agree more. The Democrats between now and November CAN AND MUST run on their record! When in power, you win re-election by building up, i.e. informing your constituents what you HAVE done. When you're out of power, you tear down, i.e. convince voters that your opposition is terrible and informing them what you WILL do.

  20. [20] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:


    I was thinking of something like:

    (Janet Jackson playing in the background)

    Tell me, Republicans, what have you done for me lately? Explain to me if you can, how do these things benefit me in ANY WAY???

    - Taking away abortion rights for women?

    - Your party claiming that they cannot wait to conduct endless investigations into Biden and his family in retaliation of Trump being investigated?

    - Your refusing to pass The Pact Act out of spite and trying to hurt veterans so you can falsely blame Democrats for causing it?

    - Voting to block insulin from being capped at $35 for all users -- causing my nephew's insulin to cost $300 per prescription?

    - Forcing anyone participating in a women's sport who is accused of being trans to have to be medically examined before they can participate in their athletic event?

    - Voting against legislation that allows Medicare to negotiate lower prices with pharmaceutical companies for the first time ever?

    - Refusing to vote to secure marriage equality at the Federal level?

    -Voting against new gun laws meant to make it harder to purchase assault weapons?

    So, again, I ask you Republicans...

    "What have you done for me lately? Heck, what have you EVER done for me?"

  21. [21] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


  22. [22] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Okay, everyone, I think I got really mixed up with the times Re. the announcement of our little re-jigged Sunday Night Shindig.

    With doors open at 8pm Left Coast time, it's a little late even for us night owls on the correct coast. :)

    What d'ya say we get things going a bit earlier ... doors open now with the show getting underway in about an hour?

    So, to recap ...

    So, I thought it would be fun to post our favourite albums (bonus points if you can post the full album youtube playlist!), the ones we always love to play from beginning to end and enjoy the complete album experience.

    Here is an open invitation to all music lovers at to come out this Sunday evening and showcase your favourite albums - new, classic, and everything in between.

  23. [23] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Hey, I'm wiped from all this drugs I do but I love the idea of fave albums.

    I've been working on a list of my top ten albums* over half a century. I'm going over to YouTube to see if I can load albums with song lists.

    *Not necessarily the BEST but what I've listened to the MOST

  24. [24] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    I'll try to be on time, around 2000 hrs LCT.

  25. [25] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    I mean in a half hour or so.

  26. [26] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    That all sounds great, Caddy! I can hardly wait to hear them!!! I'll be back in a half hour or so, too ...

  27. [27] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    In the beginning...

  28. [28] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    There was CKLW 50,000 watts of Pop Music. I grew up right there with Motown in Detroit and spent Saturdays learning how to dance like a non-white boy watching SOUL TRAIN.

    THIS is the first album I played to death, namely <a href="
    Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5

  29. [29] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Okay, let's try that again.

    <a href="
    Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5

  30. [30] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    <a href="
    Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5

  31. [31] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:
  32. [32] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    More drugs! Quickly!

  33. [33] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    My Ma was an eternal Classical Music snob which is probably why I'm such a Prog Rocker.

    My Dad, on the other hand, brought home albums from his Library (often my Library, too.)

    This is one of them,

    Sweet Baby James

  34. [34] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    First, last and forevermore...

    Paul Simon is my favorite artist. He's never produced anything but top shelf quality and is underrated as a guitarist. I was bummed when the Beatles broke up but devastated when he and Art Garfunkel broke up.

    My two picks are,



    Hearts and Bones

  35. [35] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I keep forgetting you grew up in Detroit - one of the music meccas. Kinda like Vancouver! Heh.

    Anyway, it reminded me of a live album recording that I would play to death if I had it and I may yet get it!

    It's PRiSM, live at the Royal Oak Music Theatre in Detroit from 1978, sponsored by that radio station there with the strange call letters - WWWW or W4 - featuring the definitive and classic lineup (Ron Tabak, lead vocals; Lindsay Mitchell, guitar, Al Harlow, bass; John Hall, keyboards; Rocket Norton, drums).

    PRiSM Live Tonight at Detroit's Royal Oak - Side One

    PRiSM Live Tonight at Detroit's Royal Oak - Side Two

  36. [36] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Wow -- I remember W4! Don't think I saw any show there but everybody knew the Royal Oak.

  37. [37] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:
  38. [38] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Nice job posting, Liz!

  39. [39] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:
  40. [40] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Tommy Movie Soundtrack.

    The original Who album is excellent but they fleshed out the music for the movie.


    And what's not to like about Ann Margaret slithering in baked beans? Another Canadian product, I believe.

  41. [41] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Houses of the Holy Led Zeppelin

  42. [42] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Al Harlow, Mr. PRiSM himself, took the reins of the band in the aftermath of Ron Tabak's fatal bicycle accident on Christmas 1984. Actually, Ron was fired from the band at the end of 1980 after which PRiSM faltered, big time. Though, their biggest hit, Don't Let Him Know, came in 1981 with Henry Small in the lead vocals spot. Shortly after that the band had no original members and was really an American band.

    A reunion of original members, including Tabak, was in the works before Ron's tragic death. The band reassembled in 1987 with Darcy Deutsch singing lead vocals until 1993 when Al Harlow took over lead vocal duties and is currently the only really original member now.

    But, Al is a prog rocker from a way back - mid sixties - before PRiSM. He always wanted to release a solo album but that was put on hold for some forty odd years. Just this last Valentine's Day, he released his debut solo album, Al Harlow NOW! It's pure rock energy from start to finish and an album that is meant to be savoured, one tune at a time ...

    Here is just a sampler of this fine album that is getting some airplay all over the world!

  43. [43] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Those are some great albums, Caddy ... I'm gonna listen to them all over the course of the next few days!

    And, I think we should continue with this theme for the next few weeks. There are too many great albums and not enough time in one short evening.

    I've got one more for tonight - it's a special one for me!

  44. [44] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Perhaps, two more.

    I've played this one a lot over the years, especially when I just need to relax and rejuvenate...

    Madonna - Something To Remember (1995)

    From the album sleeve,

    "So much controversy has swirled around my career this past decade that very little attention ever gets paid to my music. The songs are all but forgotten. While I have no regrets regarding the choices I've made artistically, I've learned to appreciate the idea of doing things in a simpler way. So without a lot of fanfare, without any distractions, I present to you this collection of ballads. Some are old, some are new. All of them are from my heart. "

    This is one of the few albums that I listen to from start to finish - ALWAYS, without fail - enjoying getting lost in this full album experience.

    I like to think that she does have some regrets, particularly with respect to a love that she always will have for Sean Penn. For me, that feeling comes through so clearly, as a running thread from one song to the next. I guess that's the romantic in me. Heh.

  45. [45] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Elizabeth! I must have brushed my screen and I ended posting at the bottom of Wednesday's column.

    I wondered what happened to you!;D

  46. [46] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    I think that's eight albums I've posted. The last two,

    Waiting for Columbus ...

  47. [47] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    That last one was a live double album by Little Feat.

    And my all-time fave,
    The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.

    The story behind this is that the guy who's been my BFF for 45 years convinced my to

    1-try acid and

    2-try this album. So I dropped and started listening to side one and side two and then flip it back to side one. For some hours. Never even got to sides 3 and 4. It completely blew my mind!

    After that I went out on adventure and did things I never much did before, like tree climbing (no way Jump School was gonna work for me*yikes*) and hanging under a Railroad bridge over the Huron River... while a train passed overhead.

    To this day I believe that LSD taught me that attitude and perception is everything and that's why a fuck authority guy like me excelled in the Army. I loved the Army and the Army loved me.

  48. [48] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Alrighty! You have your homework -- pop whiz later this week.

    I'll check out your offerings for which it'll be a little different listening while knowing it's one of your favorites.

    I have five more albums all trees up to post...

    Next Sunday?

  49. [49] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Alrighty! You have your homework -- pop whiz later this week.

    I'll check out your offerings for which it'll be a little different listening while knowing it's one of your favorites.

    I have five more albums all trees up to post...

    Next Sunday?

  50. [50] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    I appreciate the narrative that you've added (as I did a little.)

    Background always enhances the experience, plus it's your original words. As opposed to endless paragraphs of cut-and-paste.

  51. [51] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Well, I dropped* and I'm up at 0620 so g'nite, Elizabeth Miller ;)

    *I'm trying to substitute things like mindfulness, exercise and Stoicism for the psyche meds, but Seroquel-- don't leave home without it is something I'm willing to go to the mat for.


  52. [52] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I'll finish for tonight with a very special album for me. I remember being so excited to have tickets to see Styx at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium in November of 1977.

    But, I was blown away by the opening act. Yeah, I went to see Styx but came home with PRiSM ... er, a lifelong fan. The next day, or soon thereafter, I went out and bought their eponymous debut album, released just a few months earlier in the summer of '77. (I bought my first Styx album in 2020!)

    This album was the first debut album by a Canadian artist to achieve platinum status in Canada. I've always been thrilled to have been in on that from the beginning - first time that has ever happened as I'm always very late to the party when it comes to appreciating great bands with PRiSM being the only exception that proves that rule.

    Anyway, as the 45th anniversary of the release of this iconic album approaches, I will be purchasing a blue vinyl edition to replace my long lost original. Guess I'll have to invest in a good turntable, too. :) I've been wearing out the cd, needless to say.

    Here are all the tracks ...

    Side One

    Spaceship Superstaaaaaaaaaaaaar

    Open Soul Surgery

    It's Over

    Take Me To The Kaptin

    Side Two





    I Ain't Lookin' Anymore

    All songs written by Rodney Higgs (aka the inestimable Jim Vallance, who will very soon be inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, along with a sort of PRiSM honorary member, Bryan Adams) except Freewill, written by Tom Lavin (original PRiSM member, rhythm guitar, before founding Tom Lavin and the Legendary Powder Blues Band) and I Ain't Lookin' Anymore, written by founding PRiSM member, Lindsay Mitchell, including the delicious line, "I hope you'll believe me when I tell ya, baby, I love you more than my guitar!"

  53. [53] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Good night, Caddy, my fellow music lover in Weigantia - pleasant dreams!

    And, yes, we shall continue next Sunday! Maybe others will join in, too ...

  54. [54] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I wonder what Kick's favourite Queen album is ...

  55. [55] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I'm guessing Hotel California might be one of Michale's favourites ...

  56. [56] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I think Joshua has played his favourite album on one of these Sunday Nights ...

  57. [57] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    My apologies if I have forgotten any of the other music lovers of Weigantia ...

  58. [58] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    Mtncaddy [3]

    Even the Democrats in the Senate are not expressing optimism about the midterm election.

  59. [59] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    That is an excellent explanation of some of the biggest challenges in the relationship between governments and corporations. Demanding that corporations as a whole pay taxes on income isn't necessarily poor policy, but it misses a LOT of important details.

  60. [60] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:


    To this day I believe that LSD taught me that attitude and perception is everything and that's why a fuck authority guy like me excelled in the Army. I loved the Army and the Army loved me.

    I grew up in the Deep South and was raised in the Southern Baptist Church... so you can probably imagine what my upbringing had to say about doing drugs. Heck, it took me a long time to realize that drinking alcohol wasn't the worst thing a person could do. When I finally accepted the fact that I was gay and that was OK, I started to question much of what I had been taught growing up.

    It's funny (probably not using this word correctly) how illegal drugs are EVIL, but prescription drugs are perfectly OK for us to abuse in full view of everyone. I was hooked on pain pills when I was 16 after suffering multiple concussions (yes, I know... "well that explains a lot!"). I was lucky to survive this time of my life, and it only strengthened my opposition to drugs.

    I tried my first "illegal" drug right about the time I turned 30. My boyfriend and some close friends finally convinced me that I would be OK trying it. I popped an Ecstasy and stood on the dance floor trying to will myself not to be affected by it. After 5 minutes, I looked at my friends and said, "I don't think it's working on me. Hey, why did the music suddenly slow WAYYYYY down?" It ended up being a great night.

    As someone who has suffered from depression most of my life, I found it amazing how much easier it was to talk about some of the worst events in my life when I was high. MDMA, ketomine and GHB opened my mind to allow me to see and speak about things that I had never felt I could talk about. It's why I am a huge supporter of these drugs being used in a clinical environment to help those suffering from PTSD and chronic depression. It made accepting myself much easier.

  61. [61] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    In glad you've enjoyed therapeutic benefits. One might argue that alcohol is far more dangerous than any of these other substances.

    I was raised Roman Catholic. I had an extreme allergic reaction to it when I hit 13 and campaigned so vigorously to end my participation that my whole family bailed on the Church for decades.

  62. [62] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Oh, and just this morning I finished THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE. I think you should take a look at it at your earliest opportunity. Tell me about it afterward, for I found myself glad that I read the whole thing.

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