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How Democrats Can Avoid Blowing Their Best Chance To Take The House In A Decade

If Republicans didn’t think the bill that 216 GOP House Members backed on Thursday could cost them the House, they wouldn’t keep lying about it.

A giant tax break for the rich and their corporations that guts our health care system — by creating massive costs for aging people and massive doubt for those with pre-existing conditions, while carving a $839 million hole in Medicaid so it will end up covering 14 million fewer Americans by 2026 — is so offensive to basic decency that analysts now see the GOP majority is at risk.

Not as much risk as Trumpcare would inflict on families with sick kids, but some risk nonetheless.

Already liberal groups including Daily Kos and SwingLeft have used the GOP’s vote to raise millions in just days from small donors to support Democratic nominees who will oppose vulnerable Republicans. And those Republicans are so scared that only a very few of them are holding town halls or even defending their votes in public. And the ones who are doing it, just keep lying.

Republicans should pay for this vote to unsinsure tens of millions at least as much as Democrats did for insuring 20 million, but Republican strategist Rick Wilson doubts they will.

Wilson has been one of the most vociferous and able-mouthed conservative opponents of Donald Trump. He’s the guy who called Trump’s early diehard supporters mostly “childless single men who masturbate to anime.” So he’s not exactly creaming his Dockers over the current Republican Party.

 

Sen. Al Franken talked with Esme Murphy Sunday on how the proposed American Health Care Act will affect Minnesota (2:31). WCCO Sunday Morning - May 7, 2017

But he’s even more pessimistic about the Democratic Party, which isn’t shocking given that he beats Democrats for a living.

“If the Dems weren’t a joke party they could blow out 40 seats on this issue,” he tweeted on Thursday. “But they’ll campaign on abortion, gun control, and bathrooms.”

Wilson’s tweet was effective trolling that echoes a lot of critiques of the Democratic Party’s 2016 failings, which tend to fail to note that Roy Cooper, the one Democratic candidate who campaigned against a GOP “bathroom” law, won the governorship of a state Donald Trump won.

So I decided to ask Wilson to put a bit of meat on the skewer he put into Democrats 2018 chances.

“Democrats have a perfect opportunity to be relatable, disciplined, and focused,” he told me. “Does that sound like the Democratic Party to you?”

So what would he do if he were advising Democratic candidates?

“Get on and stay on one message, don’t make it about all the other party-purity issues. ‘Obamacare wasn’t perfect but the GOP made it 1000x worse.’ The ads write themselves.”

Republicans have spent most of a billion dollars attacking Obamacare. But in contrast to the GOP’s hive of scum and villainy known as the American Health Care Act, it has become suddenly popular. And there was always a secret weapon buried inside the bill.

In the lead-up to Thursday’s vote, Wilson warned Republicans testing he did in 2009-2010 about the Affordable Care Act. He found that voters from “EVERY group and I mean EVERY group” loved the ACA’s protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

“…it was the killer app,” he tweeted.

Then how have Republicans taken the White House, Congress and two-thirds of state legislatures by campaigning against it for six years, I wondered.

“Because fear of losing doctor access was a VERY powerful push. Then, rising premiums and deductibles. Complexity is scary.”

Guess what? The 24 million Americans the Congressional Budget Office estimated could lose coverage in an earlier draft of the GOP bill would all lose their doctors. The current bill magnifies the system’s complexities exponentially, with the potential for a different system in every state.

And the bill’s effects seem almost perfectly designed to drive older voters out of the Republican Party by raising their premiums, gutting Medicaid (which seniors rely on in ways that most Americans may not even understand yet), and robbing Medicare.

Wilson sees Democrats abandoning his prescription for constant trumpeting of “Obamacare wasn’t perfect but the GOP made it 1000x worse” for internecine fights about the party’s future that drive candidates to stake out positions that divide the party and confound the general public — like a never-ending 2016 primary. Brian Beutler called this Groundhog Day the party seems stuck in at times as “The Democratic Party’s Existential Crisis.”

The party’s grassroots has a long-held suspicion of the party’s DC leaders that has only been exacerbated by the shock of 2016’s narrow loss to a bumbling, aspiring tyrant.

Beutler offered a pretty simple formula for detente on this crisis by suggesting Bernie Sanders — and more importantly Sanders’ fervent backers who often seem to despise establishment Democrats as much as they hate Republicans — “support the most progressive candidate in every race, primary or general election.”

Daily Kos and SwingLeft are looking past these internal divides and focusing on the party nominee whoever she is. That formula could work, but Wilson might argue that you then end up with unelectable candidates.

However, Jon Ossoff and Rob Quist — Democratic special election candidates who are effectively competing in Republican districts that are not even necessary for the party to take back the House — seem to be doing well in tailoring their messages for their districts, as the GOP’s suicidal instincts do the job of heightening the contrasts between the parties.

And even if Democrats overcome their own divisions and stay fixated on a message that works for their constituents, there’s still a larger problem that Democrats seem to be either ignoring or at a loss to confront.

Since 2010, the GOP has gained extraordinary advantages from gerrymandering, a series of Supreme Court decisions exploding our campaign finance system as typified by Citizens United, and an attack on voting rights unlike anything since the 1960s.

Republicans have picked their voters and their voters keep picking them. They have an extraordinary off-year advantage because voters tend to be older, whiter and more rural and they have a party machine that exists in at least duplicate because of GOP donors’ 50 state “solution.”

Until Democrats confront these pre-existing conditions with a Manhattan Project or Marshall Plan to register and turn out unlikely voters, this whole debate will be as useless as that hour the House GOP allowed before voting on a bill that traded the biggest improvements in our health care system in 50 years for a few stacks of cash for the richest, who have never been richer.

Trump’s One Great Accomplishment? Implicating The Entire GOP In Potentially Impeachable Crimes

You don’t have to be a foreign agent to work for Donald Trump.

You don’t need decades of association with a Nazi-allied group.

You don’t even need to be a liar, though that is necessary if you’re going to say that Trump “has given more financial disclosure than anybody else” when he hasn’t even released one tax return, after promising to release them dozens of times, becoming the first president not to make this bare minimum of disclosure in more than 45 years.

The only absolutely necessary qualification to work for or with Trump is a willingness to abet his potentially impeachable crimes. And the good news for Trump is that nearly his entire party is proving that their prime concern is covering up his potential wrongdoing — even from themselves.

Last week, only one Republican in the House voted for a measure that would have required Trump disclose his tax returns and the official visitor logs to the White House. The Senate Intelligence Committee investigation into Russia’s interference with our elections is still being run by Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), a member of Trump’s transition team, who is reportedly slow-walking the entire process, ideally into irrelevance.

But despite their best efforts, the weight of the evidence demanding scrutiny of Trump’s campaign and presidency hasn’t been squelched.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who led the House investigation until it became obvious even to Republicans that he was more interested in abetting Trump’s abuses of power than examining anything Russia or Trump did, had to recuse himself. As did Attorney General Jeff Sessions. And Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), whose sudden decision to retire from the House and his roost as chairman of the House Oversight Committee this term suggests that his imagined job of inventing Hillary Clinton scandals is nowhere near as much fun as concealing Donald Trump scandals.

Since Chaffetz made that announcement, he is suddenly doing some oversight into Trump’s possible violations of the Emoluments Clause and General Michael Flynn’s lack of disclosures of foreign payments in his background checks. But he’s still echoing the White House’s ridiculous accusation that Flynn’s background check can all be blamed on the Obama administration.

Trump is arguing that he didn’t trust Obama to vet refugees or his own birth certificate, but relied on his earlier endorsement of a general whom Obama later fired?

Abetting this nonsense is one thing. But when Trump repeatedly rejects the consensus opinion that Russia interfered in our elections after parroting Russia propaganda and celebrating the disclosures of Wikileaks, an organization his CIA director now calls “a hostile intelligence agency” — and his party fails to rebuke him en masse — then the choice made by that party is clear.

The GOP as a whole may not have been a part of the (alleged) crimes, but it’s all in on the coverup.

The question isn’t whether there is a case to be made for the impeachment of Donald Trump, but which case is the most compelling.

On Slate’s Trumpcast, Harvard law professor Noah Feldman convincingly argued that there are actually three cases for impeachment: corruption, abuse of power, and the violation of democratic norms, all potentially impeachable crimes.

Corruption is pretty obvious. You’re not supposed to use the presidency as a pop-up ad for the hundreds of businesses you still own and from which you directly benefit.

“In this constitutional sense, using the perks and tools of government to enrich the president personally is an impeachable offense, an offense that would grow out of a pattern of such acts of corruption,” Feldman wrote, noting that the odd advertisement for the president’s Mar-A-Lago resort that showed up on a State Department site this week could fit this pattern.

Is there an honest person alive who doesn’t believe Trump is using this office to enrich himself right now?

Abuse of power comes when you, say, accuse a former president of impeachable crimes with no proof or understanding of the law you suggest he broke. Or it could be from targeting the press as enemies of the people.

The Russia stuff, which has convinced many on the left that treason occurred in the Trump campaign, is the most complicated case to make, given that the alleged wrongdoing took place before the president took office. But the White House’s refusal to participate, for instance, in disclosing Mike Flynn’s entanglements or communication as National Security Advisor suggest that there could be a case for potential high crimes in office. Likewise, any attempt to reward a foreign interest for interfering in the 2016 election would be impeachable, Feldman suggests.

Democrats in Congress will be reluctant to mention the “I” word for fear of turning off “moderates.” This clinging to past propriety lingers on the left, despite America electing a birther who called Mexican immigrants rapists and couldn’t identify his own health care bill with the help of Google.

Yet it’s clear the GOP is rotting from the head. So the “I” word Democrats need to stress is independent investigation.

Two out of three Americans want such to see a commission that seeks the facts about Russia’s involvement in the Trump campaign, without the skew of partisanship. Conceivably, such a process could end in full absolution for Trump, but the public senses that something is amiss and is being hidden from them. And that alone is an indictment of the entire Republican Party.

 

It’s Beyond Parody How Beyond Parody Trump Is

“You can’t make this stuff up!” is an all-purpose punch line to point out something in reality that’s so absurd that a punch line would shrivel in comparison. And it’s become a sort of a mantra for observers of the Trump Administration who are having trouble coming up with a punch line as ridiculous as the Secret Service spending $35,000 on golf carts to babysit the 70-year old president in about three months as Trump’s budget would gut federal funding for hungry seniors on Meals on Wheels.

Of course, all of this was not only predictable, it was predicted.

We were told that Trump could be baited, possibly into a nuclear war, with a tweet. We’d been warned that his campaign’s strange ties and allegiances with Russia, already codified with a change to the GOP platform in Putin’s favor, likely indicated something more nefarious. His policies always read like a George W. Bush-redux but with extra strength racism, misogyny and Islamophobia. And Trump’s rank incompetence and ability to dance from failure to failure sucking in gains while ripping off everyone in his wake was obvious in his business record, which included a class action lawsuit he settled for $25 million right before taking office.

But nothing prepared me for Trump’s schtick about his first 100 days.

Yes, a president’s first 100 days is an arbitrary marker we’ve inherited from Franklin D. Roosevelt, who swept into office after years of the Great Depression determined to make his personal optimism manifest in legislation and executive action.

It was “unlike anything known to American history,” historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. wrote.

Lyndon Johnson’s 100 days intentionally summoned FDR’s spirit to similar effect and in his first 100 days, Barack Obama took steps to prevent a Greater Depression, to rescue and renew the American auto industry, and to create a green energy revolution that will pay dividends in Teslas and better solar panels for generations. (Obama, unlike Trump, also played no golf in his first 100 days.)

In that spirit, as his campaign floundered last October, Trump went to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to lay out “Donald Trump’s Contract With The American Voter,” which stated his “100-day action plan to Make America Great Again.”.

Anyone who knows Donald Trump’s record expects him to welch on any contract he makes, but — hey — at that point, before James Comey got his closeup, did even Don expect Don to win?

And Trump’s first 100 days have gone even worse, legislatively at least, than anyone expected.

He hasn’t jammed Democrats on any significant issues and his only “victories” are a series of reversals of Obama policies that include enabling oil companies to take money from foreign governments, coal companies to pollute rivers, and Internet service providers to track and sell your browsing history. These bills only required Republican votes in both Houses of Congress and were often signed in private because they would have shown the public that he stands entirely “with the Republican establishment he lampooned during his campaign,” as Politico Magazine‘s Mike Grunwald explains.

Yes, Trump is doing untold damage to our environment and the climate while assailing our tourism industry and terrorizing law-abiding undocumented immigrants who, unlike him, would love to pay taxes. And yes, he’s put together a cabinet that is simultaneously the richest and least qualified for public service in American history.

But there isn’t one promise in his 100-day contract he’s fulfilled.

In fact, his only accomplishments worth boasting about were some good jobs numbers and a Supreme Court appointment. Accomplishments, as the Washington Post‘s Dave Weigel pointed out, he inherited from Barack Obama.

Trump’s only talent, it seems, is inheriting things he doesn’t deserve, which makes him apoplectic when it’s time for his success to be compared against people who actually earned theirs.

Yes, there’s a Trump tweet that contradicts everything Trump says or does. The Daily Show‘s Dan Amira noted that “if Trump randomly, like, tripped on a squirrel or something we’d find an old tweet of his saying only fat losers trip on squirrels.”

But I have to say that Trump’s sudden whining about “the ridiculous standard of the first 100 days” was precious beyond my ability to hold water in my mouth, provoking the first unintentional spit take of my life.

This happened when CNN showed a clip of Trump introducing his 100-day plan in Gettysburg by saying, “It is a contract between myself and the American voter — and begins with restoring honesty, accountability, and change to Washington.”

Talk about a ridiculous standard. And never forget how that very speech began with him promising to sue all the women who had accused him of harassment and/or assault after the emergence of the Access Hollywood tape — another promise he flaked on.

All of this is beyond parody. And it’s beyond parody’s power to stop it.

If pointing out Trump’s rank ridiculousness, contradictory tweets, and the hypocrisy of Bible-theme slot machine had sufficient effect on withering Trump’s core support or compelling Republicans into doing even basic oversight, he would never have gotten past his failed Reform Party run for president in 2000.

Alec Baldwin has called Trump “the first satire-resistant president.” If this is true it’s because Trump is far more effective at bending reality, as With Friends Like These‘s Ana Marie Cox keeps saying, than any American politician that has come before him. This comes from his unrelenting combination of the dog-whistle racist demagoguery combined with the subliminal salesman schtick Trump mastered from decades of learning how to rip off people who should know better

No, satire and parody won’t be enough to stop this guy. Our only option is to take the risks he poses to our democracy seriously, deadly seriously. We overestimated the immune system of our society and suppressed the knowledge that the land of the free only truly began extending its full freedoms to minorities, women, and LGBTQ people in the last few decades.

Only by taking Trump absolutely seriously — by contesting every step of his agenda in marches, in town halls, in our reps offices, on the phones, and everywhere we can — have we kept him somewhat in check. Resisting Trump’s agenda relentlessly must be followed by proposing a better one that frame how division weakens us all and strengthens the ruling class. Still, the powers of the presidency are awesome and he likely has at least a baker’s dozen more 100 days left for him to undo the progress we’ve taken for granted here, and in other democracies.

Only an unrelenting, positive resistance will do, because that’s something you can’t just make up.

 

In Georgia, Trump Is Democrats’ Best Revenge

Reprinted with permission from USAtoday.

The real winner in Georgia’s special House election is the Democratic strategy of nationalizing midterm elections in Republican districts to capitalize on President Trump’s historic unpopularity.

Jon Ossoff took in just over 48% of the vote, nearly equaling the top four Republicans in the crowded “jungle primary” to replace Tom Price in the Atlanta-area 6th congressional district. This makes him first Democratic House candidate to break 40% in the district this century.

Democrats across the country poured their hearts and more than $8 million into this race. And it worked. They nearly pushed Ossoff over the 50% he needed to avoid a June 20 runoff against Republican Karen Handel. That’s even though the former House aide and his allies were collectively outspent 61% to 39% by the GOP side.

Trump tweeted about the race several times and took credit for the “big ‘R’ win.” But that bluster is clearly overcompensation for the second straight slap in his face in fights he picked by naming House members from “safe” districts to join his administration. Last week’s special election in Kansas 4th congressional district saw Republican Ron Estes pull out a 7-point win; Trump’s CIA director, Mike Pompeo, had won it six months earlier by over 30 points.

Price, now best known for helping to pilot Trump’s first attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act into a fiery nosedive, held the Georgia 6th district seat until just a few weeks ago. He won last November by a 23-point margin and never took in less than 60% of the vote in his seven consecutive House wins.

Trump, however, only carried the district over Hillary Clinton by 1.5 points — a dramatic acceleration of a trend that saw George W. Bush’s 41-point advantage in 2004 in the district shrink to John McCain’s 25 points in 2008 to Mitt Romney’s 23-point margin in 2012. It was the sixth worst swing from Romney to Trump in the nation.

This is bad news for the president of the United States and all Republican fans of “winning.”

The increasingly diverse Georgia 6th is about as Republican as the Kansas 4th, but it has proven to be particularly repelled by Trump’s gold-plated populism and obvious racial dog-whistling about “illegal immigrants.” Even if Ossoff only matches his primary performance in the runoff, he will have demonstrated the value of putting a Donald Trump mask on his opponent.

Party strategist Geoffrey Garin went even further, crediting Trump for Ossoff’s vote total. “The final polling average for Ossoff was 42.5%. Ossoff actually gained ground after Trump weighed in. So thanks for the help,” he tweeted.

The best news for Democrats?

These two special elections — and a third coming up to replace Montana’s Ryan Zinke, the new Interior secretary — are not the low-hanging seats Democrats need to take back the House. There are 23 House Republicans who currently hold districts where Hillary Clinton got more votes than Trump last November. Democrats only need to win 24 seats to win a majority and with it the power to subpoena things like, say, Trump’s tax returns.

A true wave election, like the 1994, 2006 or 2010 midterms when the minority gained a average of 48 seats, would likely will sweep nearly all of those districts and at least a few more their way. At the very least, the Georgia results are a boon for Democratic recruiting and fundraising. And they suggest a dim outlook for both Trump’s floundering legislative agenda and the GOP’s ability to wrangle strong candidates for 2018.

 

Nearing his 100th day in office, Trump has demonstrated a consistent inability to pass any legislation that doesn’t require simple majorities. Even a simple majority may remain elusive for marquee issues like health care, tax reform and keeping the government open.

The press may rarely mention it but Republicans actually lost seats in both the House and the Senate last fall. That also happened in 2000, the last time a popular-vote loser went to the White House, but George W. Bush was still able to score substantive legislative wins for tax breaks and education reform with the help of Democratic votes.

An energized and enraged Democratic base makes that prospect far less likely for Trump. And given the potential electoral fruits of liberal fury, Democrats would be fools to give Trump a taste of anything else.

 

What Isn’t Donald Trump Hiding?

Given all that he’s hiding — including his tax returns, the reasoning behind his campaign’s contacts and possible coordination with Russia, the visitor logs for the White House, and his private lobbying theme park Mar-A-Lago as well as the details of nearly all his economic proposals — it’s amazing what Donald Trump isn’t hiding.

Let’s start with his impressive ignorance.

After years of insisting at every chance he got that China is ripping off the United States, Trump informed the Wall St. Journal that Xi Jinping, the president of the world’s most populous nation, had schooled him — on North Korea.

“After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it’s not so easy,” Trump said. “I felt pretty strongly that they had a tremendous power [over] North Korea. … But it’s not what you would think.”

If by “you” he means “Donald Trump,” that’s true.

No one — except people who only learn about politics by watching themselves on Fox News — thought resolving our conflicts with North Korea would ever be simple, especially after it became a nuclear power during the George W. Bush administration. But this is still a remarkable admission — like Trump’s admission that he had no idea how complex health care reform would be.

It’s also the kind of revelation that illustrates the divide in American politics. To Trump voters, this might make him more relatable, while indicating he has the strength to be flexible. To the majority of Americans who didn’t vote for Trump, it might confirm their worst fears about electing a self-satisfied and self-obsessed doofus to become the most powerful person alive.

But even more remarkable than the admission that Trump had listened to someone else speak for ten minutes was for him to then shake off his campaign promise to label China a currency manipulator — a Trump fixation  that many experts believe is rooted in the past. And the president says he is doing this because China is helping us with North Korea.

Why he suddenly trusts a country he was sure was ripping us off is something he has not explained. But sometimes a con man is the easiest mark.

Then there’s his obsession with sucking up to the elite.

In a interview this month with the New York Times, Trump bragged about his tax reform plan by dropping a name that once represented, in his own rhetoric, the swampiest of the elite swamp zombies, slowly dining on our sweet America First brains.

“We have some very, very good people,” he said. “This man was the president of Goldman Sachs. I mean, he was, like, the president of Goldman Sachs.”

The investment bank is now basically Trump’s farm team, but during the campaign Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein served as his whipping boy, a personification of globalist — cough, Jewish, cough — bankers.  And Trump used the bank to tar Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton as corrupt.

Why would he brag about becoming the Goldman Sachs Bannon Trump Kushner administration?

Yes, Trump campaigned on draining a swamp full of elites. But we shouldn’t be so naive as to believe that he we speaking about all the elites. He meant just the elitists who want to help minorities at the expense of you — meaning, the good people who are sick of not being wished “Merry Christmas” by everyone you meet.

Trump’s right-wing version of populism, as The Nation‘s Jedediah Purdy explains, “often punches both up and down: It attacks those at the top of the economic and political ladder, but it also targets the disenfranchised, whether racial minorities, the poor, or immigrant groups.”

If Trump supporters assume the is using the power of the elites — co-opting them, as his supporters often say — to help you and not them, everything will be fine in Trumpland.

And Trump is giving his supporters plenty of reason to believe that he is still obsessed with going after them, even if it doesn’t help you economically.

There’s been wishful bleating, fed by that the blasts of war that cable news loves, insisting that Trump is somehow becoming more centrist, because he doesn’t want to immediately break up NATO and put tariffs on everything except the products he and his daughter import. But if reality is forcing him to drop some his more disruptive pledges, he is still pursuing sickening nativism while nurturing some of the most bigoted policies in recent American history.

Trump is learning, as The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent notes, that if he pleases the plutocrats with more predictable approaches to existing international alliances and trade agreements, he can keep feeding his followers super-sized nativism.

“The administration continues to defend the travel ban in court and remains fully committed to building the Mexican wall. On deportations, the reign of fear is kicking in,” Sargent wrote. “Parents are yanking kids from day care out of fear of removal; longtime residents with no other offenses are getting deported; the administration continues to try to strong-arm sanctuary cities into enforcing the federal immigration crackdown. As ABC News reports this morning: “The deportation force looks like it’s coming together – just more quietly than anticipated.”

Trump definitely isn’t hiding his Attorney General Jeff Sessions — who is doing his best to reverse nearly every effort the government makes to help minorities vote, settle in America, or stay out of prison.

This includes reviving the War on Drugs to its fullest, most destructive vaience, which means destroying lives of people — disproportionately black and brown people, if history is any guide — for smoking pot.

Trump feels no need to hide his comical ignorance and his even more comical admiration for the “globalist” elites. This could be because he and Jeff Sessions have a unique sense of what his voters want.

Perhaps that’s an America where only they feel welcome. It seems that antipathy for a nation that seeks to accommodate an increasingly diverse population is something they’re sick of hiding, too.

Mitch McConnell Didn’t Just Steal A Supreme Court Seat

When history gathers the men who made the presidency of Donald Trump possible, lingering in a corner behind the blinding glare of Julian Assange and the massive 6’8” frame of James Comey will be Mitch McConnell, his corners mouth shaped into a smile that resembles a twisted mustache.

McConnell will want you to believe that history owes him credit for his strategic brilliance. And it’s undeniable that his campaign of massive obstruction topped off by the historic robbery of a Supreme Court seat, helped unite a GOP that was fracturing like a fissured fibula and make Trump’s improbable rise to the White House possible.

The Senate Majority Leader calls not allowing the appointment of Merrick Garland, President Obama’s pick to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a fair hearing “the most consequential decision I’ve ever been involved in.” And as usual, he’s being both self-congratulatory and deceptive.

Yes, Trump did better with white evangelical voters than Mitt Romney, John McCain and even an actual evangelical George W. Bush, according to an analysis from Pew.

This is a result so unlikely that it’s almost unmistakable from satire.

Trump is a thrice married accumulator of failed casinos, stolen valor from other people’s charity and sexual harassment allegations. For him to even be nearly as competitive with the religious right as devout believers like Romney and Bush or even McCain, the poster boy for the Reagan Revolution, is a monumental victory for both hypocrisy and tactical politics. Trump proved that the right’s feigned concerns for other people’s marriages was absolutely negotiable as long what it was offered in return was up to four revanchist Supreme Court Justices who will reshape and regress America for as long as half a century.

McConnell understands that since Brown v. Board of Education, the Court has been the defining issue for a conservative movement that fully comprehends our justice system’s power to remake or restore old biases. Holding a seat as a lure for the right was an opportunity Trump seized by putting out a list of Heritage Foundation-approved Justices and picking Mike Pence, a walking proof point for the argument that his agenda could be captured by the religious right.

It was a brilliant strategy from a man who has led a movement that recognizing the dusk of its demographic advantages decided to drop all pretenses of pomp and statesmanship for the pure embrace of power politics.

The Senate minority led by McConnell used the filibuster to block 79 of Obama’s nominees by 2013. That’s 79 in less than five five years, “compared with 68 in the entire previous history of the Republic,” Dana Milbank notes. When Senate Republicans refused to confirm anyone to the D.C. appeals court just after President Obama became the first president elected with 51 percent of the popular vote twice, Senate Democrats went nuclear and ended the filibuster for all appointments, except the Supreme Court. McConnell completed the nuclear fallout he made inevitable last week by denying the minority the right to block a young far right Justice selected by a man who lost the popular vote by 3 million usurping an older compromise pick from a genuinely popular president.

McConnell sees shredding of tradition as no vice in the pursuit of preserving privilege.

Nothing was going to stop him from taking Garland’s seat — not even the interference of a foreign government in our election.

This takes us to what Brian Beutler reveals as the real most consequential decision of McConnell’s career” and that’s the decision to shut down any attempt to make the public aware of Russia’s interference into our elections, which had been invited and embraced by Trump himself.

Beutler notes that “leaders of the U.S. intelligence community sought a united front ahead of the fall against Russian election interference—whatever its nature—and McConnell shot it down.” And not only shot it down, promised to impugn any effort to expose Putin’s efforts as false and partisan. This was threat that the Obama Administration calculated would harm both the Clinton campaign and the fabric of our democracy.

“The upshot is that McConnell drew a protective fence around Russian efforts to sabotage Clinton’s candidacy, by characterizing any effort to stop it as partisan politicization of intelligence at Trump’s expense,” Beutler wrote.

So as the FBI investigated a presidential campaign for possible collusion with foreign power, the public only learned of the possible existence, in the days just before the election, of some emails that may have validated the hazy, wild accusations being flung at Hillary Clinton by Donald Trump and his foreign allies.

Rather than broaden its message or revamp its failed policies, the GOP has declared war on democracy. And when history notes who made this strategy and unchecked madman it elected possible, much of the credit should go to Mitch McConnell.

That will be one thing he didn’t steal.

Putin Is The Overlooked Billionaire In The Elections Club

Reprinted with permission from USAToday.

Since Citizens United and related Supreme Court decisions burst open the fire hose of unlimited, anonymous money that can be spent on American elections, the left has fixated on the outsized influence of the donor network run by the billionaire Koch brothers, which was planning to spend close to $1 billion to elect a Republican in 2016.

Likewise, the right has fixated on George Soros, giving the billionaire credit for everything from controlling your Facebook feed to personally slipping a C-note into the pocket of almost everyone who has come out to protest Donald Trump.

But the billionaire who turns out to be the most successful at influencing our elections may also be the richest billionaire ever to billionaire — Vladimir Putin.

The FBI, CIA and NSA all believe that Putin ordered an “influence campaign” aimed at the 2016 U.S. election. The FBI and CIA have “high confidence” the Russian president was trying to elect Donald Trump. Putin’s antipathy for Hillary Clinton is so well documented that it’s difficult to argue that he wasn’t at least pleased by the result.

Trump’s upset, in which the loser and her allies outspent the winner, could be taken to prove that money in politics isn’t as overwhelming as “so-called” reformers argue. But more than meets the eye was spent on Trump, and the spending we know about was highly effective.

In 2012, famously, many of Mitt Romney’s rich funders were angry about the wad they’d blown. Rebekah Mercer was one of those backers and she was “particularly infuriated” by the failings of the GOP campaign, according to a profile of her father Robert Mercer by The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer. That loss reportedly inspired the Mercers to “double down” on a new brand of conservative populism that would make Putin proud, or vice versa.

“The Mercers laid the groundwork for the Trump revolution,” Steve Bannon, White House chief strategist, told Mayer. “Irrefutably, when you look at donors during the past four years, they have had the single biggest impact of anybody, including the Kochs.”

This hearty endorsement comes from a grateful employee. Bannon, according to new disclosures, earned $545,000 in 2016 from four different ventures backed by the Mercers.

So maybe Robert Mercer is the billionaire the left should have focused on?

Mercer’s net worth is described by Rolling Stone as “undisclosed billions.” But he’s almost surely a piker compared to Putin, whose fortune has been estimated at $200 billion. And Mercer doesn’t have an army, a navy and an array of intelligence agencies — or at least he didn’t until recently.

The scope of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 is just beginning to come under scrutiny by the Senate Intelligence Committee, which held its first public hearing on the subject last week. Sen. Mark Warner, the senior Democrat on the panel, said that “There were upwards of a thousand paid internet trolls working out of a facility in Russia, in effect taking over a series of computers which are then called a botnet, that can then generate news down to specific areas.”

Warner noted that investigators were looking at indications that these trolls targeted Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, three states that just happened to match Trump’s improbable path to victory. A days before he spoke, an Oxford University study of 22 million tweets showed that Michigan in fact had been inundated with “junk news” from Nov. 1-11 last year.This discussion is replete with irony. Liberals are placing great faith in the “deep state” after so recently wanting bury FBI Director James Comey in patchouli and kale. And Noam Chomsky notes that it’s a “just a joke” for the U.S. to fret about outside involvement in our elections, considering our own long history of meddling.

But what made Putin’s interference so consequential is that was seemingly embraced by the man who now lives in the White House, at least on weekdays.

Former FBI agent Clinton Watts told the Senate Intelligence Committee that “part of the reason active measures have worked in this U.S. election is because the commander-in-chief [Trump] has used Russian active measures at times, against his opponents.” He detailed a series of examples of the Trump campaign echoing Russian propaganda, sometimes within minutes of it first appearing online.

Reports suggest that similar “active measures” are being used to influence the ongoing French national elections. And our president doesn’t seem troubled by that meddling either.

“It’s going to be a very interesting election,” Trump told TheFinancial Times. “But you know some outside things have happened that maybe will change the course of that race.”

It makes you wonder what he knows that we don’t.

 

They’re Coming For Your Taxes, Donnie

It’s almost April 15 and the American people want Donald Trump’s receipts.

On the second Saturday in April, organizers are planning marches in Washington, D.C. and dozens of other cities across the U.S. to call on the president to release his tax returns. Given the improving weather and polls that suggest that about 3 out of 4 Americans want to see Donnie’s tax returns, these marches will likely mark the second largest protests of the new, but seemingly endless, Trump Administration.

House Republicans have blocked five recent efforts from the Democratic side of the aisle to force the release of Trump’s returns — the latest being a party-line vote in the House Ways and Means Committee against a measure that would have directed the Treasury Department to provide the lower house of Congress with his returns, along with other financial information from the president.

Why?

That’s the question I keep asking myself, considering that even many Republican voters continue to tell pollsters that they want more transparency (and less tweeting) from the Commander-in-Tweet.

GOP “media guy” and compulsive Trump critic Rick Wilson keeps trying to remind his fellow Republicans of the possibly irreparable consequences of standing by a president who at least seems content to appear as if he is hiding multiple cancers on his presidency.

“In 1974, the GOP lost 49 House and 8 Senate seats,” Wilson tweeted. “They were branded as defending a corrupt, criminal Presidency.”

So why not try to get ahead of the crooked curve a bit and say you’re doing it because you’re sure the president has nothing to hide? Then, either way, you made the right call. Heck, you could even note that you’re just getting on board with a promise that Trump made dozens of times during the campaign.

Richard Painter was the chief White House ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush Administration from 2005 to 2007. Currently, he’s the vice chair of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and teaches law at the University of Minnesota/Twin Cities, where he will be a speaker at Tax March MN, calling for an end to dark money in politics in addition to the tax documents from Trump that every president since Richard Nixon has released.

I asked Professor Painter why nearly all elected Republicans refuse to join the American people in demanding basic transparency. His answer is simple: Fear.

“They don’t want to get a primary challenge,” he told me.

It’s a fear that’s grounded in reality.

Trump’s social media guru unabashedly called for a primary challenge of Freedom Caucus member Rep. Justin Amash on Saturday. And Rep. Mark Sanford told The Post and Courier of Charleston that Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s director of the Office of Management and Budget, came to him and said, “‘The president asked me to look you square in the eyes and to say that he hoped that you voted ‘no’ on [the American Health Care Act] so he could run [a primary challenger] against you in 2018.”

Coincidentally, Sanford is one of two House Republicans who have publicly called for Trump to release his tax returns.

Painter told me that the fear is visible on Capitol Hill.

“Last Thursday, they had a hearing on some other government transparency issues,” he told me. “The minute I start bringing up Trump, and the Democrats were asking me questions, the Republicans were all ducking out of the hearing. They had three separate Republicans handle the gavel just to chair this thing. None of them wanted to be in the room. They don’t want to argue with me. Not a single Republican wanted to argue with me about a single thing I had to say about Trump.”

And Painter has had a lot to say about Trump.

In a Los Angeles Times‘ op-ed, he explained exactly why Trump’s returns are so crucial to finding out who the president might be beholden to, including foreign interests. He believes that in addition to using its subpoena powers to get Trump’s tax returns, Congress should amend Form 278, which is required of all presidential candidates, “to require more disclosure of debts, capital infusions and revenues of corporations, LLCs and other entities controlled by high-ranking office holders,” who are subject to conflict of interest laws.

Only Republicans currently have the power to subpoena Trump’s tax returns and the professor believes that pressure on GOP reps back in their districts as the 2018 election nears may result in increasing, yet quiet, calls for an independent investigation and even a possible demand for Trump’s returns.

Painter is also part of the legal team suing Trump over violations of the Constitution’s emoluments clause. But that level of corruption is minor compared to what he thinks the president or his associates may be hiding when it comes to possible Russian interference in the 2016 election, which he believes could be the biggest scandal in American politics in at least half a century.

“This scandal is much more dangerous than Watergate because Watergate didn’t involve foreign adversaries conducting spying activities in the United States,” he told me. “That was a break-in by some low-class burglars who weren’t even any good at being burglars, whereas the break-in here at the DNC was a very sophisticated operation.”

The release of Trump’s tax returns would indicate that the president takes this scandal seriously instead of going into what Painter calls “coverup mode.”

Transparency is the demand and Painter believes it’s necessary for politics to help ordinary people.

“I’m concerned with the ethics of this administration,” he told me, when I asked why he decided to participate in the march. “I’m concerned with the ethics of Washington in general. We need to get the campaign finance system cleaned up because that affects both political parties.”

But first we have the small matter of figuring out if the president or anyone around him might have committed some high crimes and/or misdemeanors.

“There is some evidence that there was somebody in the United States collaborating with the Russians at the time the Russians were conducting a spying activity and then selectively disseminating some of the information they discovered through Wikileaks. And there were some Americans, apparently, who were collaborating with that,” he told me. “I do describe that as treason.”

These are serious charges. And Trump continues to fuel the speculation by acting is if he has more to hide in his tax returns than Al Capone ever did.

 

 

 

 

Why The Defeat of Trumpcare Is So Damn Important

It’s hard to be cheery when your government is being consumed by aspiring authoritarian kleptocracy.

Republicans are stealing a Supreme Court seat, unleashing polluters and bankers to do irreparable damage to the climate and economy, and masking wrongdoings that range from never-ending, petty soakings of taxpayers to what could be the biggest scandal in American history.

Put all that aside for a moment to pat yourself — or your local Indivisible group — on the back.

Twice in our recent history, new Republican presidents have stormed into Washington D.C. — even one who had lost the popular vote and was gifted the presidency by the Supreme Court — and achieved their first legislative goal with at least a few Democratic votes. That didn’t happen this time. The American Health Care Act, along with the GOP’s attempt to starve Planned Parenthood and the millions of poor Americans it exclusively serve of crucial public funds, is dead — for now.

Let’s not forget what this was all about: cutting taxes for the richest — who are at or near all-time records for concentrated wealth.

“The payout to the top 400 families alone was estimated to exceed total ACA subsidies in 20 states and the District of Columbia,” Harold Pollack notes in a Politico piece blaming the failure of the AHCA on the bill being a “dumpster fire.”

Taking away things workers need to give the richest gratuitous gifts isn’t just Paul Ryan’s passion in life, it’s the reason the modern GOP exists.

Reporters have called Ryan a “policy wonk” but AHCA revealed that redistributing wealth up is his only policy. It was behind this dumpster fire of a bill that not only repealed the Affordable Care Act but also ended Medicaid as we know it and cut Medicare. And it’s behind his stated passions for privatizing Medicare and Social Security.

Stopping Ryan from achieving his first step in undoing the achievements of Barack Obama, Lyndon Johnson, and Franklin Roosevelt sends a warning shot to conservatives who now must recognize they only had this opportunity because Donald Trump lied to voters about the GOP having an actual replacement for the ACA — and lied as well about his promises to protect Medicaid and Medicare.

For years, Ryan sought to sell cuts as “saving” those vital, beloved programs. Trump realized that they only needed to be saved from Ryan and the GOP, so why not tell voters exactly what they wanted to hear?

“Repeal and replace” became the GOP slogan simply because it was alliterative and it polled well.

SPOILER: There’s no real replacement because the marketplace portion of the law was the closest thing to a GOP plan for universal health care. The Heritage Foundation wanted to implement it for the entire system, ending Medicaid and Medicare, the most popular things government has done that didn’t involve storming Normandy Beach. Their vision of health care is AHCA — massive uninsurance as a matter of “freedom” along with few benefits to the coverage, in defense of insurance company profits.

Trump — as someone who has benefited from GOP largess toward rich kids his entire life — doesn’t know how government works but he knows how to sell crap.

Republicans never thought to pretend that their “replacement” would be “terrific” and fix the things voters don’t like about the ACA — high deductibles, unchecked premiums and the insurance mandate — because they knew any replacement they offered would have higher deductibles and less help from the government to pay premiums. Adding in a new mandate that went directly to insurance companies, and trying to pass it all in about a month, made the entire shit sandwich a perfect parody of everything they claimed.

And they would have gotten away with it if not for cruelty!

The bill was so cruel that not one Democrat even publicly suggested s/he might support it. But it wasn’t cruel enough to win over the Freedom Caucus, a group of 30 or so hard-core conservative white men from districts so safely red that even the local drag queens vote Republican. If not for the Freedom Caucus’ recalcitrance, Ryan could have rushed through the bill and served it up to the Senate to shape the mush into something that might have tempted even a few red state Democrats.

Yes, the resistance from the Freedom Caucus allowed a crucial opening for the left. But this bill didn’t become law for many reasons. There is Trump’s record unpopularity that made Steve Bannon’s demands on the Freedom Caucus laughable. It was crap legislation that reflected a dysfunctional party bereft of any appeal beyond lies and dog whistles to distract from its plutocratic agenda. And the party has just forgotten how or why it should govern.

But most importantly this, was a victory for the real resistance.

Because a Google Doc revealing what former Democratic staffers had learned from the Tea Party movement was released in mid-December became a grassroots groundswell known as Indivisible by March, because millions of people were ready to march on January 21, and then tens of thousands showed up again at airports to protest Trump’s travel ban, and at rallies to protest repeal, and because calls to Members to Congress against the bill outnumbered those for the bill by a margin of 50-to1, according to one count, this bill didn’t even get a vote.

Republicans in swing districts began peeling off — and the tremendous power of committee chairs and the White House to grease the wheels of legislation, which could possibly have swayed stray members of the Freedom Caucus and gotten the 216 votes necessary, were useless.

The fight over the sabotage of the ACA at the federal level has just begun. But this was a victory for a Democratic grassroots that has emerged out of pure frustration, passion, and horror.

It’s a movement that allowed elected Democratic officials to stand back and watch the GOP’s incompetence and invidiousness consumed by a firestorm of activated constituents. It wasn’t stoked by the Kochs or publicized by Fox News. So now the questions are whether it will continue to grow, despite inevitable failures and setbacks — and whether Democratic leaders are enraged, impassioned, and relentless enough to keep up with an activated political left with no appetite for compromise or half-measures.

Yes, Trump Can Be Impeached Over A Tweet

Donald Trump enjoyed his 11th golf course trip since taking office eight weeks ago this weekend — and perhaps it’s time for him to start thinking about a permanent vacation.

Before his presidency even hit the 50-day mark, before he had even achieved one significant legislative victory, Trump accused his immediate predecessor of an impeachable crime, via a Saturday morning tweet.

Under pressure, Trump’s defense has become that he used “quotes” in his tweet so he could mean almost anything. This is fiction. And if you trust your own eyes, you can see that it’s not true of Trump’s second tweet on the subject, where he attempts to put his accusation in context.

Trump’s tweet clearly conveys that he is accusing President Obama of a high crime and/or misdemeanor on par with our one president forced to resign from office. And it has become increasingly clear that he made this accusation based on the blatherings of an AM radio host typed up into a post on Breitbart.

Whether or not Trump himself believes the accusation is impossible to discern and wholly irrelevant.

“[A]n accusation by a president isn’t like an accusation leveled by one private citizen against another,” Bloomberg’s Noah Feldman wrote. “It’s about more than factual truth or carelessness.”

Since the president of the United States is imbued with a presumption of seriousness, not to mention the vast wealth of information from the largest intelligence machine ever assembled, Congress rushed to investigate his fever dream and found nothing. Soon the Trump Administration flailed wild accusations against British intelligence in an effort to quell the stink emanating from this scandal. That claim was voiced by a Fox News analyst — an analyst whom Fox News won’t vouch for.

On Sunday, House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes, who has been doing his fair share of PR work for Trump, joined several other members of Congress and the Department of Justice in noting that there is no actual evidence to support Trump’s claim.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)  — who is the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee — made it clear that he feels we’ve already gotten to the bottom of “this wild goose chase:”

Perhaps Trump knows of facts we don’t. Far more likely, this a Steve Bannon-concocted plot to tarnish the investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia, by casting a pall on any surveillance that may reveal troubling or potentially illegal dealings.

Again, the motivations do not matter, as Feldman noted.

Obama cannot sue Trump for libel nor ever match the power of Trump’s current bully pulpit or powers of state.

So this false accusation is a wild abuse of power and perhaps the first potentially impeachable offense of his term — if you don’t count his possible rampant violations of the emoluments clause of the Constitution, in the form of foreign money paid to his properties and foreign copyrights awarded to his “brand.”

“Given how great the executive’s power is, accusations by the president can’t be treated asymmetrically,” Feldman wrote. “If the alleged action would be impeachable if true, so must be the allegation if false.” In short, he may be vulnerable to impeachment now.

Even many Republicans seem to understand the perilous situation into which Trump has driven them and his presidency. Republican House Majority Whip Tom Cole called on Trump to apologize to Obama. And Texas Rep. Will Hurd, a Republican who won a district Hillary Clintion carried in 2016, has echoed Cole’s call.

Would Trump’s apology mean anything?

Benjamin Wittes and Quinta Jurecic of the Lawfare blog argue that Trump’s words require doubt, even when he is taking the Constitution’s solemn oath of office.

“The idea of Trump’s swearing this or any other oath ‘solemnly’ is, not to put too fine a point on it, laughable—as more fundamentally is any promise on his part to ‘faithfully’ execute this or any other commitment that involves the centrality of anyone or anything other than himself,” they wrote.

You could argue that all presidents are worthy of suspicion and their words should never be invested with a presumption of honesty. This is a productive stance for journalists, critics, and academics but it would paralyze government. Likewise, taking a pathological liar — or bullshitter — at his word puts government, as we’ve seen over the past few weeks, into a useless paroxysm that occupies our resources as real threats mount.

You could still argue that this is nothing new. Former George W. Bush press flack Ari Fleischer suggests that Obama accused Bush of violating the Constitution by endorsing torture.

But we know that torture actually happened. And Obama assiduously avoided prosecuting or ever raising the specter of prosecution for Bush or Dick Cheney or anyone for torture, to the disdain and disgust of many on the left.

Trump accused Obama of a crime and then demanded evidence for said crime. And he did this to a man with significantly more power and esteem than 99.999 percent of all Americans. Impeachment is the only remedy for this kind of casual “oppression” that will only escalate unless it is checked.

“Anything else would give the president the power to distort democracy by calling his opponents criminals without ever having to prove it,” Feldman wrote.

Or — even more frighteningly — as the government bends further and further to Trump’s will and agenda, the president can call his opponents criminals and demand that the government “produce” evidence that proves the charge, whether or not such evidence exists. We know that’s true because this is exactly what Trump is demanding right now.

And just because we have a House of Representatives utterly derelict in its duties and consumed with cutting rich guys’ taxes and uninsuring everyone else, we shouldn’t ignore the only safety valve the Founders left us to prevent such tyranny.

Should our worst assumptions prove true, impeachment has to be on the ballot in 2018 if we hope to remain a democratic republic.

IMAGE: Barack Obama pauses during an interview in Washington, January 6, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Trump And GOP Have It In For Their Own Voters

This article originally appeared in USA Today.

Liberals who want to punish Trump voters need to get in line behind President Trump and the GOP.

The American Health Care Act introduced by House Republicans last week and swiftly endorsed by the White House appears to have been designed to hurt Trump voters — at least the vast majority of them who are older, live in rural areas and take in less than $250,000 a year in investment income.

Those who have the most to lose in tax credits to help buy insurance are most likely to have been Trump supporters, according to TheNew York Times. And the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities finds that 11 of the 11 states with residents who will see their credits shrunk on average by half or more went for Trump in November.

The health bill’s $883 billion in tax breaks, meanwhile, are targeted at the rich and corporations — which just happen to be disproportionately concentrated in blue states like California and New York that went massively against Trump. “It’s a very sad transfer of wealth,” says House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, from red states to blue ones.

Many on the left can’t help cheering for this supersized serving of just desserts to Trump’s chumps.

Liberals knew that once you got past Trump’s promises to smite all enemies with deportations, bombings and a stern government-mandated “Merry Christmas,” his agenda was basically House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Billionaires Fan Club plan for dealing with the worst crises of our time — income inequality and climate change — by making them worse, stat.

From robbing low-wage workers of new overtime pay protections to “devastating” cuts to Great Lakes restoration to deporting the one immigrant your town really likes, the outcomes of Trump’s “monumental fraud” were so predictable that to act otherwise offends liberals through their kale-enriched bones.

To liberals, Trump’s obvious racism, misogyny and general contempt for everyone but Fox & Friends viewers made him unacceptable. “Not all Trump supporters are racist, but all of them decided that racism isn’t a deal-breaker,” Charles Gaba tweeted. “End of story.”

The self-alleged billionaire’s approach to racial instigation had much in common with the right’s tradition of scapegoating “welfare queens” and the “47%.” But an important difference made it even more infuriating to the left.

“Donald Trump gave up on hiding the racial message from his critics and his opponents,” Ian Haney-López, author of Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class, told Duke University’s Policy 360. “Nevertheless, I’d say, he continued to use racial messages — or coded formats for his racial messages — in ways that hid the racism of the underlying narrative from the base he was trying to mobilize.”

If you’re a liberal, the idea that there’s anything “coded” about implying millions of Mexicans are “rapists and drug dealers” probably makes you want to beat up your James Comey doll. But Trump never proclaimed that his campaign was about advancing the rights of “European-Americans,” as former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke did in his failed 2016 Senate race in Louisiana. Nor did Trump ever tweet, as Iowa Rep. Steve King did this week, that “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”

Trump’s appeal is much broader. Cognitive scientist George Lakoff has spent decades studying how conservatives have won by nurturing a worldview of a powerful authority enforcing discipline through strength. Last summer, he tried to warn Democrats that Trump — despite a near total ignorance of conservative policy — was appealing to Republicans across the spectrum as well as to union workers who believe in “traditional family values” in their private lives.

“It’s about Strict Father Morality, which entails the racism, and not just the racism, but the Islamophobia and the idea that in 21 states teachers and coaches can beat students with sticks if they don’t show total respect,” Lakoff told me.

Trump is a minority president. Democrats can probably win the presidency again without winning Trump voters by swaying third-party backers and turning out Democrats who stayed home last November. But they’ll never be able to govern effectively without winning over red areas.

The broken promises of Trumpism offer a way forward. “A Strict Father cannot be a betrayer of trust,” Lakoff writes. By empathizing with the plight of poor Trump voters and emphasizing Trump’s growing list of betrayals, the left can begin to whittle away at Trump’s stubborn support. And that would be the best revenge.

An Open Letter Of Thanks To Trump Voters From The Billionaires

Dear Joe,

Sorry, if your name isn’t actually Joe, Joe. But that’s what we call anyone who isn’t in the top 1 percent. “Joe the Plumber” liked it so much that he still lets us call him that, even though his first name is Samuel. “Samuel the Plumber” sounds like a character from kids’ book about a precocious yet handy mouse. Joe got that. He’s a good Joe and so are you, Joe.

Anyway, we just wanted to say a quick thanks for voting for Donald Trump without paying nearly any attention to what his actual policies would be. It’s the least we can do, given that you’ve already done so much for us.

Whether we enjoy restoring natural coal-flavoring to river water or seeing the cabinet stocked with our fellow billionaires and buddies from Goldman Sachs, it’s the little things — like being allowed to destroy the climate so we can be a tiny bit richer — that we appreciate so very much.

We get it, Trump voters. It’s not easy to be a minority, as our housekeepers might insist if we let them learn English. But you approximately 70,000 voters in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan deserve a big thanks and a tiny tax break that will ultimately make sure you never get to retire.

Well played, as our caddies say, each and every hole.

Now we have to make a confession, even though confession is a tool we generally use to keep the powerless indebted to us: We didn’t think you’d actually do it.

We knew the problem with Romney was that he was too poor, too nice to Mexicans and actually paid some taxes? Mitt got crap for his binders full of women, so we never imagined that the solution was nominate a beauty pageant owner known for “wandering” in on Miss Teen USA contestants while they were changing.

As our new Secretary of Energy Rick Perry would say, “Oops.”

We spent decades and hundreds of millions of dollars spreading the idea that rich people are geniuses who if left unmolested would make you a working-class millionaire or at least protect you from the government, which only cares about helping “them.” But we thought we needed a smiling Reagan or a cuddle-bug Rubio who didn’t inherit his life or brag about grabbing women in their baby spot to pull it off.

You may know that Trump never quite fit in with us billionaires. He always stood out like a sore thumb, which is the name of the toner he uses to get that unusual skin color. But we didn’t think that his penchant for stiffing contractors and workers, and trading in a wife each decade, as if there were some sort of lease, would make him more relatable to you.

We honestly thought that Trump’s dependence on government bailouts, and his refusal to pay taxes or veterans’ charities, would end up costing us the House. Little did we know that if we put a rich guy at a board-room-table TV set, and let him fire Flavor Flav, he would look like a genius, at least compared to Mike Pence.

Now look what we have: a delicious tax break for us, dressed up as a health care reform plan. We billionaires in the richest/best 400 families get a $7 million a year tax break. You? You get a chance to pay more for worse health insurance!

We admire your willingness to sacrifice so that our service animals never have to worry about flying anything but private.

Trump and the GOP figured out that the reason you hate the individual mandate is that the tax penalty goes to the government and too few people pay it. So very soon 30 million Americans will be able to pay a mandate penalty directly to the insurance companies (which will make us richer, too).

And that’s not all!

AARP estimates that a 64-year-old who makes $15,000 a year could see an $8,400 hike in premiums, before you add in copays. That and a chance to deport immigrants who want to pay taxes, and ban Muslims who want to flee ISIS,  is what your generation gets for backing Trump by a nine percent margin!

Your generosity toward us, the billionaires who need it least, will not be forgotten. In fact, we’re going to put a fair share of this tax break and the other tax breaks Trump is planning for us right back into the system. We’re going to invest in elections in all 50 states until we’ve made it so hard to vote that only seniors — the good kind with IDs — who have all day to wait in line (and people with limo drivers to hold their place) can do it.

Then as we’re gutting Medicaid and later Medicare, we’re going to show our appreciation by not laying a finger on Social Security, until Trump’s second term or late in his first — depending how this Russia stuff pans out.

You believed in Trump, despite his willingness to lie about his crowd size, his anatomy, and anything else that could possibly be considered phallic. So now we know that anything is possible.

You thought Mexico was going to pay for the wall? Uh, no.

You thought Trump would punish China? Instead he’s opening the door for it to dominate the Western hemisphere.

You thought he cared about you? Well, he could! Just pay Mar-A-Lago’s $200,000 annual membership fee.

So thanks again, Joe. If there’s ever anything we billionaires can do for you, please don’t hesitate to let Donald Trump know about it. Surely, he’ll get to it after he releases his tax returns and finishes suing the women who accused him of sexual assault.

Hearts,

The Real Billionaires

IMAGE: President Donald Trump (L) watches as Vice President Mike Pence (R) swears in Steve Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary in the Oval Office, February 13, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

 

In Secret, The GOP Is Also Planning To Gut Medicaid And Medicare

House Republicans are now busily working to repeal the Affordable Care Act in secret.

Even when the GOP plan is done and made public, the secrecy will continue. The potential impact will still be hidden from the public, as it’s likely to not have any score from the Congressional Budget Office before the House votes on it. This means members of the House will not have any real idea of how many people they’re voting to uninsure, how much this plan will increase the deficit, and just how big a giveaway it will be to the rich.

Why is Paul Ryan is hiding his plan?

He knows that Republicans cannot afford an honest debate about the GOP’s repeal plans, especially their true intentions for Medicaid and Medicare.

Several reports suggest an early draft of the House GOP’s bill was scored by the CBO and — and then pulled before it could become public because the numbers were atrocious, uninsuring nearly all of the Americans who gained coverage thanks to the ACA, and driving up costs for most Americans, especially those closest to retirement who are most likely to have a pre-existing condition.

Topher Spiro and Harry Stein of the Center for American Progress analyzed the House GOP’s outline and found the results weren’t exactly something they’d want to shout about.

“The repeal bill will transfer money from low-income and middle-class Americans to millionaires,” the conclusion states. “Because the math dictates massive cuts to Medicaid and much lower tax credits, millions of people will lose their coverage or have their coverage downgraded.”

Why wouldn’t they want to hide that?

And there’s more. For instance, the argument that Bill Gates needs a $7 million annual tax break while police officers and nurses need to pay higher taxes is a particularly tough sell for a “populist.”

But the real dirty secret that the GOP will likely refuse ever to admit is that its plan to eliminate the ACA is also a stealth plan to gut one of the most popular things the government has ever done that didn’t involve killing Osama bin Laden — Medicaid — while laying the ground work to gut another — Medicare.

Nobody — at least nobody in the Republican Party — seems to understand that Americans love their public health insurance  better than Donald Trump.

During the GOP primary Trump insisted that Mike Huckabee “copied” his promise of “no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid.” He went on to make contradictory promises about health reform, always promising “something terrific” to replace Obamacare, even while veering towards Paul Ryan’s brutal plans on Medicaid, which are huge cuts disguised blandly as “block grants.”

Republicans feel very safe talking about repealing Obamacare, which has only recently become popular. But they don’t want to admit that they’re planning to uninsure people who qualified for public health insurance even before the ACA took effect.

Republicans can’t simply admit this because they know that once Americans get health insurance with government help, they tend to like it. They really, really like it.

Certainly that is true of Medicare. Some 75 percent of those on the government’s single-payer program for retirees said it worked well for most seniors in a 2015 Kaiser Health Tracking Poll. It’s true for Medicaid. About 9 out of 10 beneficiaries told Morning Consult that they were satisfied with the coverage and benefits last year. And it’s even true of the Affordable Care Act: A recent poll from the Commonwealth Fund found “82 percent of Medicaid and [ACA] marketplace enrollees say they are ‘very satisfied’ or ‘somewhat satisfied'” with the plan,” Vox reports.

In a nation where Congress struggles to get 20 percent approval, both parties languish below 40 percent, and the president crests at 40 percent only on a good day, there is a pretty amazing consensus that Americans like health care when it’s provided by the public. In fact, they like it even better than they like insurance they buy themselves, or get from their employer, which is still quite popular and also subsidized by taxpayers. (Yes, we spend around three-times more subsidizing employer-provided health insurance than we do on the ACA.)

The ACA added more than 10 million Americans to the Medicaid rolls through expansion and better outreach. To block grant Medicaid, even under the “more friendly” plans being negotiated by GOP governors, would threaten coverage and tens of millions more.

Why would they want to hide this? Well, only 12 percent of Americans support cutting Medicaid.

And then there is Medicare, once a sacred cow in American politics, until the GOP embraced Paul Ryan’s fantasy of turning the program’s guarantee into a “premium support” system that massively shifts the costs of coverage to seniors.

The ACA has strengthened Medicare while adding free preventive care for all seniors. Straight-up repeal would likely increase Medicare spending by $800 billion over the next decade while eliminating that new benefit.

Yep, Ryan’s dream is to make repeal his Trojan horse for finishing off the Medicare guarantee. Purposely weakening the program will provide him with more momentum to gut Medicare through the bones, the way ACA repeal is gutting Medicaid.

Have no doubt: Even without projecting nefarious future intentions, repealing the ACA as Paul Ryan wants to do it will break Trump’s promise not to cut Medicaid or Medicare. And it will be a nightmare for the millions of poor Medicare beneficiaries who depend on Medicaid for support, including nursing home coverage.

Ryan thinks he can get away with this because the GOP — with the help of its donors outspending ACA defenders 6-to-1 — has gotten away with accusing the ACA of harming Medicare, when it did the opposite, and denying millions of the hardest-working Americans any Medicaid expansion.

But you don’t need a fact checker to tell you that you’ve lost your insurance or been kicked out of a nursing home. The math will eventually catch up with the GOP.

The Kaiser Health tracking poll recently found that 74 percent of Trump backers aren’t worried about repeal causing them to lose coverage, yet the same survey found that Medicaid is at least somewhat important to 44 percent of Republican families. Eventually they may have to figure this out the hardest way possible — through tragic experience.

The GOP is proposing to repeal the ACA but has no intention of replacing it. Instead Republicans are using this opportunity to do what they’ve always dreamed of doing — ending Medicaid and Medicare as we know them.

 

 

 

Trump’s $5 Trillion Attack On America’s Values And Reputation

Donald Trump wants you terrified.

If you’re Muslim, he wants you to expect to be harassed every time you take a plane, even if you’re Muhammad Ali’s son. If you have family or friends who are documented, he wants you to think they can be snatched away at any time, even when seeking protection from a potential abuser. If you’re a legal immigrant, he wants you to know that if you’re shot and killed in cold blood, the president will not even bother to mourn you with a tweet.

This week, Adam Purinton reportedly shot Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani at a bar in Olathe, Kansas. Kuchibhotla died.

“He asked us what visa are we currently on and whether we are staying here illegally,” Madasan told the New York Times.

They were.

Purinton was removed from the bar and witnesses say he returned with a gun and shouted “get out of my country” as shots rang out.

If you only get your news from the president of the United States’ Twitter feed, you never heard about this crime. Instead, you’d think the greatest threat to America is a free press reporting on the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with the Russian government. And maybe if you’re Donald Trump, that does feel like the biggest threat in the world.

The rash of hate crimes, an unprecedented wave of anti-Semitic threats, and the federal government’s conscious and public attempts to intimidate non-white Americans all have incalculable costs to our unity and decency, along with calculable damage to our economy, which has been bleeding workers out of the middle class for decades.

“When racism wins,” Ian Haney-López and Heather C. McGhee wrote a year ago, “everyone loses.”

Even if Trump doesn’t go through with the trade wars that Steve Bannon — his Rasputin with a splash of Goebbels — seemed to promise again last week at CPAC, the damage inflicted by their war on American values will be immediate and then possibly permanent.

“Experts across the travel industry are warning that masses of tourists are being scared away from visiting the United States, and the loss of tourism jobs could be devastating,” Arthur Frommer reported this week.

Trump’s religious ban can be tied to a Trump slump of 6.8 percent

“And the fall-off is not limited to Muslim travelers, but also extends to all incoming foreign tourists,” Frommer wrote. “Apparently, an attack on one group of tourists is regarded as an assault on all.”

Trump’s promised assault on undocumented workers is setting off waves of fear for those picking fruit in Florida and glee for Trump supporters.

Why the glee? Won’t this create new openings for Americans who are out of work?

“You can actually make a good living – $15, $20 an hour if you’re good at this – but the truth is Americans don’t want to do this work,” a “prominent Florida farmer” told the Chicago Tribune.

The farmer demanded anonymity, fearing reprisals from the Trump’s administration.

In the short term the decimation of the Sunshine State’s farming industry could result in higher produce prices to go along with the damage to its crucial tourist industry and the long-term curse of unchecked climate change — plus an ACA replacement plan that promises “for individuals ages 55 to 64, total weighted average costs would more than double, rising from $4,078 to $10,167 per year,” while the rich get a “gigantic tax cut.

In exchange for helping to elect Trump, Florida seems to be racking up Biblical plagues.

The president must be assuming that the damage he can do to his “enemies” will make up for the betrayal of his supporters. But all of America will suffer if Trump’s war on the undocumented continues unabated, “with one study suggesting that removing all of them would cost the economy as much as $5 trillion over 10 years,” according to Bloomberg News.

And now we’re back to the incalculable costs. Madasani Jaganmohan Reddy, Srinivas Kuchibhotla’s father, understands those.

“The situation seems to be pretty bad after Trump took over as the U.S. president. I appeal to all the parents in India not to send their children to the United States in the present circumstances,” Reddy told the Hindustan Times.

For centuries, America has benefited from immigrants and their descendants, despite our history replete with slavery, segregation, and know-knothingism. Until a few weeks ago, anyone in the world could look to America and imagine a land where a son — or daughter — could become president.

Now, they see a country that elected a man who demanded our last president’s papers.

Hopefully they also see Ian Grillot — or at least learn his name.

“As shots rang through the suburban Kansas City bar on Thursday, Grillot ducked behind a table and when he thought the gunman was out of bullets, he lunged at the man,” the Hindustan Times reported. “But as the Kansas City Star reported, the man had still one round left and shot Grillot through the arm and chest.”

“It was just, it wasn’t right, and I didn’t want the gentleman to potentially go after somebody else,” he told the Star.

Now in stable condition, Grillot saw Alok Madasani standing in the doorway of his hospital room on Thursday morning. He learned the survivor of the shooting has a wife who is five months pregnant.

Grillot is looking forward to spending time with Madasani, who he now considers his new best friend.

“I don’t think it’s going to be at the bar, though,” he said.

That’s the kind of America the world needs to know. It hasn’t gone away yet, despite Donald Trump and Steve Bannon.

We Need A Simple Way To Remind Everyone That Trump Is Ripping Us Off

Theodore Roosevelt called the robber barons of his era “malefactors of great wealth.” Franklin Roosevelt inveighed against “economic royalists.” Bernie Sanders takes on “the millionaire and billionaire class.”

Hillary Clinton spoke about “an economy that works for everyone.” Hmmm.

Sure, it’s a tidy reminder that for generations Democratic presidents’ economic polices have not just been more more effective, but that growth is also broadly shared. Yet the soapiness of the phrase reveals reveals two of the larger problems Democrats face in this new era of Trumpian treachery.

First, it misses the depth of the inequality that has been created, perhaps intentionally, by an embrace of conservative economics that began with the massive tax breaks for the rich and rollback of protections ushered in by Ronald Reagan. Along with its twin crisis of climate change, economic inequality is the greatest public policy challenge of now. And it has already proved to be perhaps the greatest, and only, existential threat we face in that it already helped elect a race-baiting demagogue with an allergy to a free press and democracy in general.

Consider this atrocity: As the top 1 percent saw their incomes rise 198 percent from 1978 to 2015, the bottom half’s incomes actually declined by 1 percent.

For much of this century, income inequality has been worse in America than it was in pre-revolutionary 18th century France— even when you factor in the proliferation of electronics and other conveniences often enabled by slave wages and child labor abroad.

And what is Trump’s GOP response to this gutting of the middle class? He plans what will likely be the the most massive transfer of wealth to the richest in human history.

It begins with tax cuts for the rich, their kids and their corporations. It includes a goal of erasing Obamacare, the single most effective anti-inequality program of the century, while giving still more tax breaks to the rich as poor workers are cast off their insurance. That would be bad enough, but their plans for Medicaid would uninsure millions more, including many of America’s most vulnerable seniors and disabled people.

Those efforts to rob the poor to pay the rich are obvious. It’s much harder to put numbers on how Trump’s GOP is shifting the cost of pollution from polluters to the people, or how our economy will be starved by the privatization of everything from roads to schools.

You could argue that there would be some sanity to this mass cruelty if it represented effort to eliminate the deficit and begin rolling back the debt — but Trump’s GOP is planning the opposite.

All indications suggest that every possible magic asterisk in the GOP’s bag of ripoffs will be used to make sure they can explode the deficit. And even this maneuver has a nefarious goal with huge payoffs for the rich. If Trump ever cedes power, the GOP will then use that yawning pile of debt to demand cuts to Medicare and Social Security — the only remnants of our safety net after Paul Ryan fully executes his plan to block-grant food stamps, which would justify huge cuts and allow states to spend the money on inanities like online abstinence education instead of things like, say, food.

Yes, we want an economy that works for everyone — and the phrase implies that Republicans only want an economy that works for the richest .01 percent. But it doesn’t scream it.

This leads us to the second problem with “an economy that works for everyone.”

Now I don’t say this to indict Hillary Clinton, who won the popular vote by 3 million and only lost in three states by a percentage less than .01. It’s pretty clear she would likely have won it all if not for an unprecedented act of “Comey ex machina.”

But we must acknowledge that Democrats have not met either the economic or political challenges of this moment. Even a resounding Clinton win would have likely left the House in GOP hands, which is bullshit considering how few are rewarded and how many are abused by conservative policies.

We are a progressive nation.

If every American voted, Democrats would likely win nearly every election. Instead, we’ve let the GOP use the dark arts of voter suppression and gerrymandering to limit the electorate to exactly the voters the GOP needs. And, in an effort to win over both funders and aggrieved Republicans, we’ve used a language of inclusion that is drastically out of step with the horrid corruption of both our economy and the opponents we must defeat.

Face it: Trump was damn good at demonizing Clinton for imagined crimes, offenses for which is far more likely to be guilty. And he was also better at naming his opponents than her. He ranted against “elites” and “draining the swamp” often on his private jet, while preparing to hire a cabinet that’s richer (and less qualified) than the bottom one-third of America.

The campaign was waged almost entirely on his terms, which he repeated like Rainman. By arguing that he wanted to make America “great” he was arguing that his opponents wanted the opposite, over and over and over again.

Yes,Democrats would have won in 2016 if they could have gotten 80,000 Democrats to show up in certain polling places, or swayed just a fraction of third-party voters in three states. Polls and models suggesting an almost certain Trump loss probably gave both of these groups just enough confidence not to pull that lever for Clinton.

But we cannot afford to play on the margins any more.

We should take a lesson from Trump’s GOP, which won bigly by appealing directly to its base with full-throated partisan rhetoric. America needs an uprising from the left that is large enough to wipe away the damage conservative selfishness has done to our nation and planet. And it can’t start soon enough.

“Democrats can win back the House in 2018 if the newly-engaged people who are flooding protests and town-hall meetings around the nation feel inspired enough by Democrats to march to the polls,”  wrote Adam Green and Stephanie Taylor, Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “But the people in the streets want to vote for heroes. And heroes fight villains.”

This starts with naming the scourge we face. We could go with Bernie’s “the millionaire and billionaire class” but it might limit the argument to economics in a way that doesn’t work to our advantage. So I suggest “the exploiters.”

It ties together the polluters who want us to pay for brutalizing of our enviroment, the oligarchs who avoid taxes while calling for deportation of those who’d love to pay them, the ideologues who cut health care for women to serve their antiquated agenda and leave a state like Texas with the highest maternity mortality rate in developed world.

I admit it doesn’t have that Roosevelt ring yet. But if you’ve got something better, you may be the hero we need.

Jonn Dingell Is The Trump-Twitter Destroyer America Needs

This article originally appeared in USA Today.

Since 1966, the news media have granted the opposition party a national platform to deliver a response to the president’s annual State of the Union Address. This attempt to balance our debate must be upgraded for the 21st century, now that we have a new president who tweets like a moody teenager who was just denied a participation award. Democrats should name a Twitter account to issue official responses to President Trump’s tweets, and those rebuttals should be noted in any relevant reporting.

There’s one tweeter who has best demonstrated the character and the 140 characters necessary to perform this role. The best way to stop an unstable 70-year-old with an itchy Twitter finger is the world’s greatest 90-year-old Twitter user — @JohnDingell, a former Democratic representative from Michigan.

While still serving in Congress as a spry 88-year-old in 2014, John Dingell was recognized by BuzzFeed as “probably the best person on Twitter” after an errant tweet from an Environmental Protection Agency account led him to tweeting about the shock of learning what a “Kardashian” is. Since then, he has retired from the House as the longest serving member of Congress in U.S. history and gone on to successfully defend his title of “tweet king” — as Politico Playbook recently called him — with reliable barbs focused on politics, Michigan sports, and Donald Trump.

“Forget the basket,” Dingell  tweeted during Trump’s transition. “The truly deplorable ones end up in the Cabinet.”

When The New York Times reported that Trump aides couldn’t operate the light switches at the White House, Dingell tweeted, “Luckly for them, setting the Constitution on fire provides at least a bit of working light.” As for the fake-news inaugural furor, Dingell tweeted: “If you think lying about a crowd size is bad, wait until you hear about their plan to kick 30,000,000 people off their health care coverage.”

America might have faced periods of greater discord, strife and division, but our public debate has never been so abrasive, typo-ridden, and pissy. And much, if not most, of the thanks for our degenerating discourse belongs to the more than 34,000 tweets of the new president of the United States.

A recent Quinnipiac University poll found that 64 percent of Americans — including 45 percent of Republicans — believe that Trump should give up his personal Twitter account. But given the president’s unwillingness to release his taxes, divest from his businesses or even read a Dummiesguide to the Constitution, Democrats can’t wait around and expect Trump to moderate his behavior on his own.

You could argue that the left would be better served if its official digital response came from a somewhat younger voice from one of the communities most likely to bear the brunt of Trump’s attacks on reproductive health care, immigration, and voting rights. But institutions are all that Americans can rely on now to protect us from Trump’s sleep-starved, anti-democratic impulses.

And John Dingell is an institution.

On the day Pearl Harbor was bombed, he was working as a page on the floor of the House of Representatives. First elected in 1955, he presided over the House in 1965 when Medicare passed and was there in 2010 when President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. Dingell was one of the last two World War II veterans left in Congress when he retired after his 30th term in 2014.

Most important, Dingell doesn’t ever have to worry about getting a job again. This gives him a freedom to swing back at Trump’s wild accusations, proclamations and ejaculations.

Plus, he — like the president — seems to have a fair amount of spare time.

I visited Dingell’s home in Dearborn and found him still filled with reverence for the presidential office that he says “our Founding Fathers and members of Congress regarded as almost mystical in its qualities.” But that reverence is not extended to the man who now holds it, whom he finds to be “a bully and a blowhard and a liar.”

Dingell doesn’t want Trump to fail because “if he’s not a success, everything goes to hell. I want to see him succeed in a proper way.”

What would a proper success look like?

“He is the president of all Americans. It is his duty to look to the well-being of all parts of the county. We’ve not yet seen whether he is doing that, whether he intends to do that, or whether he will do that.”

In fact, Dingell’s seeing the opposite.

“Whether you’re talking about Roosevelt, Hoover, or Trump, they have a responsibility to preserve the dignity of the office. I don’t see him doing that so far.”

His advice to the new tweeter in chief?

“Be careful. He has a responsibility for the economy, the jobs, the futures, the hopes, the dreams of 330 million Americans.”

As a man born between the two world wars and a student of history, Dingell has a staggering sense of the perils of Trump’s bombast.

“If you look, a bunch of big-mouthed European potentates got us into World War I. Do you remember what happened in August of 1914? Read that history. It’s terrifying.”

Many on the right have attempted to reframe Trump’s Twitter usage as a modern update of Franklin Roosevelt’s fireside chats that soothed a nation transitioning from the worst Depression in American economic history to the deadliest war ever. Dingell’s not buying it.

“I listened to the fireside chats as a boy, and they were received reverentially by the American people. You can’t say his tweets are received reverentially. You can’t say mine are, either. You sure as hell shouldn’t,” Dingell said, displaying a self-awareness that is now not allowed within several hundred feet of the White House.

Are there any checks and balances on the Twitter use of a former U.S. congressman?

“John Dingell unfiltered is a little dangerous,” Rep. Debbie Dingell, 63, who succeeded her husband and must still run for re-election, told me. “We encourage him to run (his thoughts) by us before they get posted.”

“And I usually do,” Mr. Dingell assured me.

He recognizes that Twitter offers everyone “a chance to make an ass of himself publicly.” He compares putting that power in the undersized hands of the president to giving “a gun to a kid” without any safety training. But his worries extend far beyond Trump’s Twitter use.

“He is a man who has two problems that work against each other. One is ego. He has a gigantic ego. And he has a gigantic inferiority complex,” Dingell told me. “And he’s playing into the hands of his enemies. But he’s also playing into the hands of our enemies in the nation, which is why people in that kind of office are so careful about what they say. And he’s not. And all of these things are going to come back.”

Seven decades in public service have left John Dingell with some optimism that even Trump could rise to the stature of his office.

“He still has time. And you should watch this to see that he doesn’t jeopardize our leadership position in the world.”

But that hope is only discouraged by the new president’s conduct.

After Trump fired his acting attorney general for refusing to defend his immigration ban, Dingell tweeted, “Comparisons to President Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre are a bit misguided, in that Nixon at least had a general idea of what the hell he was doing.”

That’s the kind of context every American needs.

It’s Time To Grab The GOP By Tom Price’s Seat

The election of Scott Brown to fill Ted Kennedy’s seat in the U.S. Senate was seen as proof by many that the Tea Party movement was more than just the Fox News’ Mickey Mouse Club.

That surprise Republican win in a liberal bastion took away Democrats’ filibuster-proof majority, which only existed for a few months thanks to a tedious lawsuit by defeated Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman. After January 19, 2010, President Obama’s legislative agenda wobbled and was never able to regain the momentum of his historic first year in office.

Democrats now have a chance to strike a similar blow against a minority president before this Trump Train begins barreling through America’s newly revamped health care system.

Despite substantiated allegations of insider trading in the industry he’ll be overseeing, Rep. Tom Price has been confirmed as secretary of Health and Human Services on a party-line vote. He can now immediately begin to dismantle the ACA, which has long been his goal, along with dismantling Medicare and Medicaid as we know them.

Tens of millions of Americans’ health insurance is now at stake and the more than 55 million Americans on Medicare have nobody in power looking out for them. But we do have a chance to let Congressional Republicans know that there will be a huge cost if they live out their dream of stripping Americans of coverage and weakening health the insurance for all Americans.

Georgia’s governor Nathan Deal has announced that the election to fill Price’s now vacant seat in the House of Representatives will be on April 18, with a run-off if no candidate earns 50 percent or more of the vote to follow on June 20.

Price crushed his Democratic opponent in last November’s election by 23.2 percent, pretty close to the 24 percent margin by which Mitt Romney carried the district in 2012.

But Trump only won the district by 1 percent.

So despite the GOP’s registration advantage in what is essentially Newt Gingrich’s old seat, this race could be damned close — especially if voters look at the ballot and see Trump, regardless of who the Republican candidates are.

Our democracy’s problem is that people love living in Democratic areas — and we have a constitutional republic that rewards well distributed electoral minorities.

People nauseated by the Trump agenda living New York or California — or even Madison, Wisconsin or Ann Arbor, Michigan — have been protesting and organizing to support their elected officials through Indivisible Groups. But their impact is stunted because representatives generally only want to hear from the people whom they represent and can vote for them.

The race to fill Tom Price’s seat is a chance for all Democrats, wherever in this nation they may live, to help derail the Trump Train.

So meet Jon Ossoff, the Democrat running for Price’s seat. An investigative documentarian who is a former congressional aide to the last living speaker from 1963’s March on Washington, Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), Ossoff has the two things he needs to consolidate Democrats — endorsements and money. And consolidating Democrats is the key, given an open primary that could see two Republicans in the run off if the left doesn’t unite.

The Daily Kos community has already raised more than $563,000 for Ossoff’s campaign, besting the site’s record of cash support set in 2012 for Elizabeth Warren in just a week. The site is also organizing virtual phonebanks for those who can donate time.

Ossoff’s campaign has just over six weeks to get at least second place in the primary — and these next six weeks just happen to be the most crucial weeks of the battle over repealing the Affordable Care Act. Despite having no replacement and diminishing public support, House Republicans plan to go through with full repeal in March.

Know this: House conservatives have the votes and the immorality necessary to do this. The question is whether they have the same in the Senate, where they can only afford to lose two votes.

If the outrage in the streets and town halls is matched by a stunning electoral defeat in Georgia, it could put the fear of getting gnawed at the polls in the mind of the Republicans who represent swing states. And Democrats focusing their massed collective resources to elect a Democrat in a red state would also put a spike in the terrible GOP “paid protesters” talking point.

It would say, “We pay to protest, fool. That’s how much we care about sick Americans keeping the health insurance they deserve.”

Taking Tom Price’s seat may not shock Republicans exactly in the same way Democrats were shocked by Brown’s win, which offered them a preview of losing the House and then the Senate. But our 45th president never had a filibuster-proof Senate majority and unlike the current loser in chief, our 44th president won a genuine popular vote landslide victory by a margin of 10 million votes.

A loss for the Republicans this spring could shape the debate for the next two years.

Saving Obamacare is not an easy fight but it is winnable. And it’s difficult to get a Republican to do the right thing when his career depends upon not doing it. Right wing donors want the $7 million tax break repealing Obamacare would give to the richest 400 Americans.

If the Tea Party was able to build massive outrage at the idea of people gaining health insurance by taxing rich people, we should be able to build something much larger to prevent the GOP taking insurance from 25 million people so the rich — who have never been richer — can get more tax breaks.

And now here’s something you can do about it.

IMAGE: Newly confirmed Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, REUTERS/Joshua Roberts