70% — Go Suck Lemons!

January 27th 2019

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lit a match under the collective arses of American plutocracy and their ‘umble servants in the right wing media last week by proposing a new top marginal income tax rate of 70% on income over ten million.

One assclown, purportedly one of Trump’s top economic people, got on TV to ‘explain’ that a little girl selling lemonade at a dollar a pop would have to turn around and give 70 cents to the government. Oh, the horror!

Well, the wealthy class hire the very best fools and liars to safeguard their interests, don’t they? Since right wing economists don’t know anything about the actual economy and prefer to scare folks instead, let’s explain what really happens to that little girl in the hellish socialist landscape of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

In the real world, the one where kids set up lemonade stands, it’s usually a one-day thing. If it’s a warm day and the kid has a good location, she might sell 20 or even 30 cups of lemonade. She pockets all the money which she will proceed to blow on ALEX toys or, if she’s responsible, save toward a cruiser bike. Mom and Dad, who provided the stand, the lemonade, the cups and the water, are just happy to acquaint their kid with the notion of working to earn money. Unless the kid happens to be African-American and has some really vile neighbors who try to shop her for selling food without a permit (yes, this has happened) officialdom will take no notice. The IRS will not be coming around to seize her glitter and her plush toy unicorns.

So what are the circumstances under which the kid might have to shell out 70% on a cup of lemonade?

Well, none, actually.

In the real business world, she has to buy the lemons, sweeteners and cups, pay the water bill, amortize out the cost of the stand, pay various permits, plus social security and unemployment, and pay rent on the place she sets up her stand. After she’s done all that, she’s maybe making 30 cents on each lemonade sold. The overhead is all deductible, and she doesn’t have to pay taxes on that.

So if she was in the 70% bracket on income, she would be shelling out 70% of 30% on each dollar of revenue, or 21%. That’s still pretty steep, and she would have to cut back on the pink glitter fingernail polish. That seems an awfully cruel thing to do to a little girl.

But it turns out that even Republicans aren’t that malevolent. You see, under the present tax schedule (and AOC isn’t proposing any changes there at this time) she doesn’t pay any tax at all on the first $9,699 of her income from sales.

To make $9,699, she would have to sell 32,330 cups of lemonade. Assuming she takes Sundays off, that’s a bit over 100 cups a day. That would be quite an accomplishment, especially if she lives in, say, Milwaukee, where January sales might be less than brisk.

When she sells that 32,331st cup of lemonade, she’ll will owe income tax. The tax rate is 10%, so she would actually owe seven cents.

But there’s a personal deduction. $12,200 for a single taxpayer. There’s higher brackets for married and head of household, but we’re talking about a non-empancipated minor here.

So after she is sold 40,773 and one third cups of lemonade, she finally has a federal tax liability! Seven cents! Alert the bankruptcy lawyers!

Let’s suppose she made $520,000 from her lemonade stand. At this point, even Kramer would have trouble imagining that it’s just one little girl at one stand. She would be busier than the Deadwood whore house on payday!

So she’s opened new stands and hired people to run them. On the other hand, she’s enjoying economies of scale, so it’s likely she still makes 30 cents on each lemonade sold. Even if the money is coming in without her lifting a finger for most of it.

There’s all kinds of legal and otherwise tax dodges available for someone who is hitting the current top bracket of $510,000, as she has, but let’s suppose she’s very grateful to President Trump for giving her this incredible opportunity, and wants to pay every dime that she’s liable for on paper. Her federal tax burden would be $159,544. To get to that point, she will have sold 1,700,000 cups of lemonade. An enterprise that vast would be fully automatic, and it’s probably been six months since she even touched a lemon. She has people to do that for her. My god how the money rolls in! All she has to do is phone her head accountant once a week. And she’s paying a federal income tax of about nine and a third cents per cup. Mind you, she’s very patriotic and doesn’t want to take further tax relief, even though her account is telling her she can cut her tax liability in half through legal means.

So when does this hypothetical 70 cents per cup of lemonade kick in?

Well, it never does. She can sell up to two and a third million cups of lemonade per year and federal tax is about 9-10%. But when she sells that 2,333,334th cup, watch out! That’s when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pounces! That’s when the dread 70% marginal rate kicks in. For each cup beyond that, she will owe 21 cents. Not 70 cents. 21.

Keep in mind she already pulled in ten million bucks and is working a half-hour a week on her business if she’s conscientious. She got college covered, paid her parents’ mortgage, and a couple of new cars, and she still has plenty left over to buy the local plush unicorn toy store franchise. She can afford to pay twenty one cents per cup of lemonade sold!

Most economists like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s plan. It’s not as steep as the 70% top marginal rate under Reagan (which started in the $190,000 range) or the 93% under Eisenhower, a time of unparalleled growth in America. Paul Krugman thinks the top rate should be 80%, and some economists have gone further, suggesting a tax of 100% on annual income over $100,000,000.

So when some weird right wing fruitcake solemnly declares that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is trying to turn America into Venezuela or Cuba, show them this, and ask them why they don’t mention other failed economic hellholes like Kansas or Wisconsin, which enjoy every low tax rates, even on lemonade.

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Opening Day – A Light at the End of a Cave

January 25th 2019

Just the other day, I wrote, “First, he [Mitch McConnell] may have decided he could keep 40 Republicans in line, effectively filibustering the bill. Given that would be the same forty Republicans who voted for that very same bill five weeks earlier, only to have Trump double-cross them, dumping them into a nightmare of rising public fury, it’s unlikely that even the goose stepping discipline for which the Senate GOP is renowned could keep them all in line…Second: McConnell finally convinced Trump that the wall was nothing but a loser from the GOP standpoint.”

Turns out in the end that it was something of a combination of the two. He had the two votes, and while they didn’t actually do anything, they sent a clear message: Republicans in the Senate were far more interested in a “clean” (no wall) continuing resolution to open the portions of government closed by the idiotic impasse than they were in securing funds for the wall, or whatever it is Trump is calling it this week.

After the votes, reports leaked of mounting Republican fury and desperation in the Senate, shared by McConnell himself, who snapped at one cohort, “Do you think I’m enjoying this?”

Still, the Senate, the Republican half especially, is something of a kabuki. An experienced Senate Majority Leader isn’t going to permit a vote which shows large cracks in his caucus unless he wants someone to know those cracks exist.

Even the Idiot Trump had to know that six Republican Senators voting for a clean CR meant they were never going to vote for the wall.

Another such vote might result in a 66-34 vote. There’s an element of kabuki in Senate votes, and while 66 Senators would have voted for the CR, the final vote needed to make the vote veto-proof, which almost certainly would have to be cast by a Republican, would be hard to get.

However, public rage was mounting by the day. Republicans, blindly in love with their delusion that voters want them to eliminate government so they can have all that common wealth all to themselves, were quickly realizing that the voters had a different opinion on the matter. And while most of the public blame was correctly aimed at Trump, the Republican Senate was seen, at best, as his lackeys, and at worst as his co-criminals.

I think Americans have finally lost patience with the GOP tactic to using extortions such as government shut downs to get things they want but which lack the political and public support. That’s my hope. Time will tell.

But for now, all the poor bastards who missed meals and saw their credit scores plummet because of der Trumpenfuhrer’s little games are going to get their back pay, and the even poorer bastards who did contract work for the government are still fucked. Lots of damage done, and for utterly insane reasons, but at least it stopped getting worse.

Another reason for the Trump Cave came from Robert Mueller III. He grabbed his scoop and a plastic bag and got Roger Stone last night. Stone, one of the sleaziest and most vicious political operatives in the country, is believed to have had a central role in the three way tryst between Trump, Wikileaks, and Russia. And probably a whole lot more.

Trump’s tweet reaction was…less than lucid. It read, “Greatest Witch Hunt in the History of our Country! NO COLLUSION! Border Coyotes, Drug Dealers and Human Traffickers are treated better. Who alerted CNN to be there?” Sounds like a Speak N’ Spell with rabies, doesn’t it?

I’m sure the mental image the tweet created, of an American President, naked, smeared in his own feces, screaming and ineffectually urinating in the direction of the CNN building, is a bit less than reassuring. But have no fear: Ann Coulter stepped in to reassure him and calm him down.

She tweeted, “Good news for George Herbert Walker Bush: As of today, he is no longer the biggest wimp ever to serve as President of the United States.”

That’s right: She kicked a recently-dead guy to take a shot at a volatile moron over losing a no-win situation that she helped precipitate in the first place. History will remember you kinda, Annie.

She went on to say, “Obviously the gov’t shutdown hasn’t gone far enough if the corrupt & incompetent FBI still has funds for a Keystone Cops stunt like the pre-dawn raid on Roger Stone….Sure feel safer today, with the feds taking Roger Stone off the streets. No need for a border wall now. Nothing to fear from MS-13.”

Gotta say, Annie, I feel a lot safer with Roger Stone in jail. Truth be told, I think the average MS-13 member has higher moral and ethical standards than Stone—or you, for that matter.

But the upshoot of the Mueller action this morning shows that for Trump, the walls are closing in like a Star Wars trash compactor. (Ann as Princess Leia: shudder!)

The continuing resolution is good through Feb 12th, whereupon we find out if the Republicans and Trump want to play some more of their extortion games, or if they finally realized that particular tactic has passed it sell-by date, and the public is well and truly fed up with it.

Meanwhile, Trump will be able to give his SOTU speech, if perhaps a week or two late. I hope the Democrats don’t waste any time being polite to him. He does not deserve respect, or even polite courtesy.

Boo the lies, people! If they can do it in Parliament, they can do it here!

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Shut down – Shut up, Donald—Grown ups are talking

January 22nd 2019

News broke tonight that the Senate is going to take up two bills Thursday regarding the government shutdown.

The first is Trump’s compromise: he gets $5.7 billion in return for extending a grace period for the Dreamers. Like all things Trump, it’s utter bullshit: three courts have already ruled that Trump is legally obliged to continue the DACA program, and just yesterday the Supreme Court ruled that they weren’t going to interfere with the lower court decisions. So Trump is offering something he has to do anyway.

Even worse, the “compromise” essentially eliminates America from honoring its treaty obligations to refugees and asylum seekers. Nobody expects honesty from this administration, but this is particularly egregious, even for them. The “compromise” shows the duplicity and moral bankruptcy of Trump, nothing more.

The second bill, introduced by Schumer, is more promising. It simply finances the portions of government that have been closed through February 8th, and promises open debate on the wall. It’s interesting that McConnell, who had been rejecting consideration of any bill that didn’t include financing for the wall, allowed this one to reach the Senate floor.

Yes, the shutdown is extremely unpopular, and McConnell is seen as first in line behind Trump as being responsible for it. He’s probably realized that the party that caves on this is finished, but Republicans and Trump will remain widely hated no matter what happens. In normal circumstances, a Majority Leader in this position would look frantically for a bill that could resolve the issue while giving him a figleaf. This bill meets that criterium. If it passes, he can claim they haven’t finished the battle for the wall, but merely deferred it for a few weeks. He may even be delusional enough to hope that when the next continuing resolution comes along and Trump digs his bone spurs in, any subsequent closures would be blamed on the Democrats.

But these aren’t normal times. With the party leader in the Oval Office an unstable sociopath, McConnell knows that if it somehow, some way saves his ass from the scandals threatening to tear him apart, Trump will be perfectly happy to sacrifice not only the country, but his own party. There’s precious little evidence that McConnell cares much about his country, but his party? His wonderful, precious party? Nay! Dishonor before Death! The Party must live!

So, there’s three courses of thought he might have followed before deciding to let Schumer’s bill to the floor.

First, he may have decided he could keep 40 Republicans in line, effectively filibustering the bill. Given that would be the same forty Republicans who voted for that very same bill five weeks earlier, only to have Trump double-cross them, dumping them into a nightmare of rising public fury, it’s unlikely that even the goose stepping discipline for which the Senate GOP is renowned could keep them all in line. They have absolutely nothing to gain from continuing the shutdown, and a lot to lose. And most of them don’t even want the fucking wall in the first place.

Second: McConnell finally convinced Trump that the wall was nothing but a loser from the GOP standpoint. Two Republicans in Congress have already announced they won’t be running in 2020, one of them is quitting immediately. While that one probably has a major scandal about to break, there’s little doubt that Republicans are looking at the shifting landscape and realizing that if they didn’t do something now, they would be extinct by 2021. McConnell, a political animal, knows this, and perhaps he’s gotten Trump to agree to fight the wall battle another day. After all, Trump managed to go two years without the wall; he can go a little bit longer.

That’s actually the most likely of the three scenarios, and Mitch, if he has any actual religion, must be on his knees right now praying that the crazy fuck in the White House doesn’t cross him up again.

The third scenario is that he has decided to tell Trump to go fuck himself. That’s the bloodiest of the scenarios. In this one, Schumer’s bill passes in the Senate, but not by 66 votes. Trump vetoes it.

Public outrage swells. The national mood shifts from outraged to flat-out dangerous.

House Minority Leader McCarthy and McConnell take the unusual step of permitting the bill to come up again, and release their membership from party discipline on the vote. The bill passes both houses with veto-proof majorities, a massive humiliation of Trump and one that immediately brings down the temperature of the public, giving the Republicans faint hope for the future.

Between Mueller, the Senate Intelligence Committee (which, unlike the previous House Intelligence Committee, has been reasonably honest and non-partisan in its investigations into Trump) and various committees in the new, Democratically-controlled House, various houses of generally quite large sizes are going to begin landing on Trump. His own lawyer, Rudy the Risible, has blabbed enough to put Trump’s ass in jail. Just imagine what the people who aren’t on his side are going to come up with.

McConnell is probably betting that he can defuse this and it won’t matter how much is pisses off Trump, because Trump is going to be up to his ass in alligators in another week or so (Trump hired THIRTY-FIVE lawyers two weeks ago to start preparing his defense).

Both votes are scheduled for Thursday. Stay tuned.

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Down 0-63 After One Quarter – For Trump, only losing six yards on a play is doing good.

January 20th, 2019

Back in 1916, there was a football game between a powerhouse team coached by John Heisman, and a college that had actually already disbanded its football program, but was contractually obliged to play this particular game. So, lacking an actual team, they sent a pack of frat boys, lambs to the slaughter.

There wasn’t much doubt about who would win: it was the score that made history. Cumberland 0, Georgia Tech 222. It was the most lopsided game in history, and observers suspected Tech wanted revenge for a 22-0 baseball drubbing by Cumberland earlier that year. Tech took a 63-0 lead in the first quarter, and built on it for a 126-0 lead at the half. Heisman solemnly warned his squad during the break to be wary of a possible comeback, but the fact was Cumberland was deader than Queen Victoria. Grantland Rice, the sportswriter, noted that Cumberland’s moment of glory came in the second half, when they had a running play in which they only lost six yards.

The stats were cringeworthy: Tech outran Cumberland by a net 564 yards, capitalizing on 15 turnovers. Oddly enough, Cumberland had the better passing game. They went 2-18 for 14 yards, while Tech never even attempted one pass. The score actually fails to show just how lopsided the game was.

So why am I talking about a football game from over a century ago? I mean, I’m not even a football fan!

Well, I was watching Pelosi and Trump this week, and that ancient rogering came to mind.

Trump has been reeling from one self-inflicted catastrophe to the next, and on his best days, he only suffers an embarrassment, and every so often, he has a great day that is merely disappointing.

I watched the televised meeting between Trump and Pence (who knew what as coming and simply went tharn) and Pelosi and Schumer, and my first thought was “It’s Boris and Natasha versus Moose and Squirrel.” Those Russian agents never had a chance.

When Trump crowed that “I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck.” I knew he had lost this one, no matter what he did.

At the time, I figured he would back down. His silly burst of braggadocio had seemingly ensured that he couldn’t shut the government down and evade blame for it.

But I actually underestimated Trump’s craven and easily-manipulated personality. He managed to publicly fold in the face of disapproval from the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. A fringe pair. A has-been and a sociopath. Even most Republicans dismiss them as a pair of dips. Outside of the GOP—which is to say among the other 72% of Americans—they are regarded as two of the more loathsome examples of what crawls around under damp American rocks.

Depending on the approval of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter to stiffen public support is a bit like plotting to win the Indy 500 by entering a Yugo. Or getting a pickup squad of 19 guys—three of whom subsequently get lost en route to the game—to play Georgia Tech.

Pelosi must have looked at the political dynamics at play and resolved to not show the pity Trump seemed to demand, since Trump would never show her any pity. Pelosi, after all, is human.

On the other hand, Trump was hurting a lot of people and actually endangering the country in order to suck up to a pair of fringe loons who represent the worst America has to offer. Knowing that probably helped Pelosi to decide that she really didn’t have to play nice with the vicious fool in the Oval Office.

Everyone knows about the subsequent interplay: Pelosi told Donald he wasn’t going to give the State of the Union in front of a Joint Session of Congress until he reopened the government, citing security concerns. I’ll bet any amount of money Trump immediately turned to Miller and screeched, “She can’t DO that! Can she?” No constitutional scholar, he. She can. She did.

Trump responded by canceling her planned trip to NATO allies and Afghanistan via military plane, citing security concerns. It was a pretty feeble riposte, petty tit-for-tat, but it might have actually held water had Melania used a military plane to travel—alone—to Mir-a-Lago that afternoon. OK, granted, Trump probably wouldn’t care much if she died in a plane crash. But then two days later, he exposed and scuppered plans by Pelosi to go ahead with her planned trip via private plane.

Then he announced a big, important announcement for noon yesterday. Now, Trump has taken us all to that particular rodeo many times before, to the point where when he gave a “big announcement” a few weeks ago, the Chuck-and-Nancy rebuttal actually got higher ratings. I wasn’t going to bother watching, simply because the Trump sideshow has gotten so tiresome.

Pelosi felt the same way, I guess. She rejected his offer before he even made it. Oddly enough, I didn’t hear any Republicans accusing her of jumping the gun.

Trump did offer to provide a temporary respite to Dreamers—there’s already court orders telling him he must do so by law—and that was it. The offer didn’t fool any sane Americans, and pissed off the haters on the fascist/Nazi right. So aside from getting a very public slap-down, all he did was harden resolve against him, while chipping away at his loathsome base.

Now there’s open talk among Democrats of impeachment, and outside Washington, talk of a national general strike.

Last night I mentioned on one blog that once Nancy Pelosi gets her fur up, she can be quite formidable.

The same, of course, could be said of the American people.

Donald came into this quarter trailing 63-0. Things don’t look to improve. It’s unlikely that even Heisman is going to be warning anyone of a Trump comeback on this one.

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Barr None – He hit all the right notes, but…

January 15th, 2019

I watched the William Barr hearing this morning, and came away with mixed feelings. He hit all the right notes, vowing not to interfere with the Mueller investigation (but not swearing to recuse himself) and agreeing that the investigation was valid and important and needed to continue.

He agreed that a primary role of the DoJ was to prevent foreign interference in US elections, but undercut it by saying that Russia “appeared to interfere” in the 2016 election. That’s a bit like saying Boston appeared to have won the 2018 World Series. The equivocation is pointless, and leaves one with the unsettling feeling that Barr doesn’t really understand the nature of the investigations against Trump. At best, that’s what he doesn’t understand.

He also had a weird equivocation about the Emoluments Clause, appearing uncertain as to whether it could pertain to Trump. It reads, “And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” An emolument is “profit, salary, or fees from office or employment; compensation for services: Tips are an emolument in addition to wages.” OK, Trump is holding an office of trust, and is getting gifts and kickbacks from a variety of foreign states. Seems pretty straightforward. And it would be insane to pretend that presidents are above the law on conflicts of interest, bribery, self-dealing or misuse of office for profit. All of which Trump is demonstrably guilty of.

The Founders wanted a chief administrator, not a Divine Right King.

That a former Attorney General and lifelong Constitutional lawyer would profess uncertainty about this is troubling. At best, it’s disingenuous.

Barr also equivocated on whether he would allow Mueller to indict Trump. This, too, is troubling, since on a previous occasion he interfered with an investigation that would quite possibly have led to indictments of then-President George Bush and former President Ronald Reagan. As reported here:

Mr. Mueller indicated to Mr. Rivera and to me as well that they would prefer that our indictment — that we work aggressively on it as much as possible… I received a phone call a little bit before noon on August 22 from Denis Saylor who indicated to me that I was directed not to return the BCCI indictment. And I asked who was directing me not to return it, and he said Attorney General William Barr…” (US Atty Lehtinen)

As Robert Mueller III, the Assistant Attorney General at the Justice Department now in charge of the BCCI investigation, testified in October, 1991: BCCI was not an ordinary bank. It was set up deliberately to avoid centralized regulatory review, and operated extensively in bank secrecy jurisdictions. Its affairs are extraordinarily complex. Its offers were sophisticated international bankers whose apparent objective was to keep their affairs secret, to commit fraud on a massive scale, and to avoid detection” (“The BCCI Affair A Report to the Committee on Foreign RelationsUnited States Senate by Senator John Kerry and Senator Hank BrownDecember 1992“) https://archive.org/stream/TheBCCIAffair/The-BCCI-Affair_djvu.txt

It’s important to remember that in 1991-2, Barr was a very partisan lawyer, one who helped Bush write a series of last-minute pardons that effectively destroyed the Iran-Contra investigation, something that threatened to throw some 80 members of the Reagan and Bush administrations, including Reagan himself, in jail.

And now he is in a position to potentially short-circuit Mueller again. Yes, this is cause for concern.

It didn’t help that he was mouthing administration talking points on the wall, immigration in general, and indicated a willingness to make marijuana illegal again.

Well, it’s not like Trump was going to appoint a liberal. It couldn’t have been easy, searching someone who combined plausible credentials with the type of selective moral, ethical and legal blindness needed to serve under Trump.

It may be that it doesn’t matter. Mueller is close to end game, and in any event, even if Barr decided to be a Bork and fire or impair Mueller, the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee could simply subpoena Mueller’s records and go from there.

It’s possible I’m being unfair. Yes, Barr was a partisan ratbag in 1992 and contributed to the vast amount of damage the corrupt Reagan and Bush regimes did to the country by making their criminals exempt from the law.

But that was 26 years ago. People change, mature, develop some ethics. Sometimes. Perhaps Barr did, and perhaps he was sincere, if overly lawyerly in today’s testimony. Perhaps the equivocations were those of a man used to dotting eyes and crossing tees.

Perhaps. But Barr needs to know this going in: This isn’t the America of 1992. If he, and the GOP, try to evade justice and put themselves outside of legal reach though obstruction and misuse of the pardon, they won’t walk away. America will come after them.

They aren’t free to spit on the country the way they did in 1992. It’s a different world, and people have learned about the nihilism of the far right.

If Barr lied, he will end up in jail.

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Coda – The end is near

January 14th, 2019

We’re at the point now where there can be no reasonable doubt that Trump’s involvement with the Russians went far beyond normal business contacts, or that he improperly maintained such connections after announcing he was going to run for office, or that he used those contacts to influence the election in his favor.

Now the evidence is mounting that he has been, at the very least, compromised by the Russians, and at the very worst, is an agent for the Russians. The FBI apparently has been investigating him as a possible Russian agent—yes, the President of the United States—since three days after he fired FBI Director James Comey.

That isn’t just opinion: his own words, beginning with his famous, “Russia, if you are listening…” campaign speech, indict him.

It’s becoming evident that his crimes went beyond enlisting the aid of a adversarial foreign power in order to win the election. Since becoming president, he has had at least five secret meeting with Putin, destroying all records of the meeting and forbidding the translator—the only American witness—from discussing what transpired during those meetings. Further, he is known to have transmitted classified material to Putin directly, in one instance doing so in front of cameras, apparently unaware that he was committing a felony.

By the standard usage of the term, he is a traitor, and needs to be immediately removed from office and put on trial. So why hasn’t he?

In a word, Republicans.

They are just now beginning to crumble under the public outrage generated by Trump’s disastrous move to shut down the government over his vanity wall, but in reality if they were loyal Americans with any courage and ethics, they would have impeached him a year ago. Instead, they had a commission, headed by the contemptible Devin Nunes, to actively cover up his crimes. Nunes should be in jail for obstruction of justice. That he took the extreme measures he did to try and protect Trump makes it manifestly clear he did not believe he was protecting an innocent man.

A large number of prominent federal-level Republicans stand to be implicated—and destroyed—by the emerging evidence that they sold their country out to Putin in an effort to cling to power. Pence will go down. And many others.

Mitch McConnell, it turns out, got nearly $3.5 million in dark money from a pro-Putin Ukrainian named Len Blavatnik. This was in additions to the $7.3 million he got in open donations from the Russians through PACs. Interesting fact: McConnell wasn’t even running for office in 2016. Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, John Kasich and Marco Rubio also received smaller amounts of money from Bavatnik. It does explain the servile, toadying behavior of Cruz, Graham and Rubio, doesn’t it?

The NRA laundered nearly $35 million through to the Trump campaign from a Russian group calling itself “Right to Bear Arms.” You have to be a particular kind of stupid to believe that Putin supports or even allows groups that advocated unlimited gun ownership in Russia. The NRA, in turn, gives Republicans marching orders, among which out be to protect the Russian asset, Donald Trump.

Not all elected Republicans are traitors or subversives, of course. Some close their eyes to Trump’s blatantly compromised position and hope he can somehow survive all this and lead the Republicans to permanent white male power in America.

So you have dim bulbs/patsies such as Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson, to claims the Steele dossier was commissioned by Democrats to smear Trump. The problem is it wasn’t: New York hedge fund billionaire and Never-Trumper Paul Singer commissioned Steele on behalf of Ted Cruz, and sold it to the Democrats when the Washington Free Beacon, a right wing outfit acting as go-between, pulled out. Johnson’s main defense will be that he really is that stupid.

Vilifying your own intelligence agencies is never a good idea, and even Trump has to sense that denigrating the agencies and smearing and destroying the careers of senior members might not result in kid-gloves treatment, but Republicans are obediently herding behind the lunatic “deep state” conspiracy theory in which only by destroying Trump can the corrupt elites keep control.

No, kiddies, destroying Trump would mean there is just one less corrupt elite.

Republicans are hoping their base is ignorant and stupid enough to keep their purblind support going. There’s evidence that support is cracking, between the unpopularity of the shutdown, and the growing mountain of evidence of “the Russian thing.” Sorry, Ted Cruz, but people outside the beltway do care about collusion. By the way, buy a weedeater. You look like you rimmed a silverback gorilla.

It’s been pointed out that if partisan ratfucker Bob Barr (who helped engineer the midnight pardons of most of the Iran/Contra felons) becomes AG, he’ll fire Mueller. Appointing Barr at this point would nearly be a criminal act in and of itself. You see, all the House Intelligence Committee has to do is subpoena Mueller and all his works, and it all comes out anyway.

There are reports that the Committee already has a lot of damning evidence, suppressed by Nunes but now in the hands of people who aren’t in the pay of Putin and are still loyal to America. A lot of Republicans need to be in prison for a long, long time.

Supporters need to examine their own common sense, loyalties and values. They’ve betrayed themselves at the least, and the rest of us at the most. Adam-Troy Castro wrote a brilliant piece condemning them, available at.

It’s very nearly over. Stay tuned.

 

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The first attack of the 2020 campaign – Bierman begins with shots at Warren with only 671 days to go

January 2nd 2019

Well, it’s 2019, and the shameless hypocrisy, dishonesty and flat-out delusion that caused the insane right that took over the GOP to continue with a business-as-usual approach, even as their party leader plunges like a meteorite, loud, flashy, messy but doomed to end badly.

A writer for the Tribune News Service, one Noah Bierman, wrote an opinion piece cleverly disguised as a news story, supposedly reporting on Elizabeth Warren’s new year eve announcement that she was forming an exploratory committee, which is poli-legalspeak for announcing she’s running for president.

Bierman bothered with exactly one quote from Warren’s 4½ minute announcement: “We can rebuild America’s middle class, but this time we gotta build it for everyone.” Apparently none of the remaining 4:27 seconds was worthy of mention in Bierman’s judgment.

He begins with mention of Warren’s age, and at this point, that’s fine. He mentions that Trump, Biden and Sanders are all older, and that a lot of Democrats and Independents think it’s time for a “generational change.” Nothing to take issue with there. But it was the first thing in Bierman’s news queue after a perfunctory and uninformative two paragraphs on the announcement itself, followed by the usual vacuous horse-race “process analysis” of the race itself.

But since Bierman couldn’t be arsed mentioning it, it should be noted that Warren warned of a dark path America was on that meant “Our government is supposed to work for all of us, but instead, it has become a tool for the wealthy and well-connected,” and “How did we get here? Billionaires and big corporations decided they wanted more of the pie. And they enlisted politicians to cut them a bigger slice.”

This is important stuff. In fact, it defines the battle over who owns America.

But Bierman thinks the “Pocohantas” controversy is more important. It’s a rallying cry against Warren that he takes from a loathsome, low-brow bigot named Donald Trump. He doesn’t mention that for years, and in his alleged biography, Trump himself claimed to be Swedish, because he felt a German ancestry was disreputable. That’s pretty vile compared to repeating a family legend that they had some Cherokee blood a few generations back. Now, if Warren had said she was of Hawaiian descent rather than Cherokees because she found a Cherokee background embarrassing, then people better than Trump might have had cause to criticize. But that isn’t what she did. She wasn’t ashamed of her family.

Bierman thinks it was wrong of Warren to take a DNA test which suggested her family legend was correct. Ah, but it’s been so long since a politician actually produced evidence to support a claim that poor Bierman had no idea what to do. In the GOP, politicians don’t tell the truth, let alone try to demonstrate that what they are saying is true. ‘Taint American! What’s next? Science?

While stopping to point out Warren’s few legislative achievements, noting she was in the minority party without context, he then goes on to describe Warren’s struggle with the banks without detailing any of what the struggle is about, but marveling that she can raise money even though she’s critical of an industry that Bierman evidently thinks controls the political process. Bierman is curiously uncritical of that control, but seems to feel it’s just a part of nature. Let us all worship the Invisible Hand.

He goes on to note she got only 60% of the vote against an “unknown” in 2018 calling her support “tepid” and surmising that many of her own supporters don’t want her to be president. It’s true, in all likelihood, but omits the fact that most people think she can be far more effective and get more of her advocacy translated into law right where she is, in the Senate. She is minority chair Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection; and a member of these other powerful committees: Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; Economic Policy; Securities, Insurance, and Investment; Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and Primary Health and Retirement Security. She can put a serious hurt on the Wall Street casino from there. Especially when you consider that whoever the next president is, or the circumstances under which that person becomes president, the office has been significantly weakened by the antics of the crazed fool presently residing in the White House.

Continuing to ignore her platform, Bierman finished up by gleefully quoting the Boston Globe editorial board, which labeled her a “divisive figure”. He didn’t mention why the Globe said that, which is fair, because the Globe itself didn’t seem to have a reason beyond the fact that she only got 60.8 of the vote, saying, “Those are warning signs from the voters who know her best. While Warren is an effective and impactful senator with an important voice nationally, she has become a divisive figure. A unifying voice is what the country needs now after the polarizing politics of Donald Trump. “

At least they did mention Trump, the most divisive president since FDR or possibly Lincoln, and one of the new breed of Republicans who tries to be deliberately divisive.

In this case, “divisive” simply means “stands for something the banks and other massive corporations don’t want” and “easy to smear.”

Jess McIntosh, a former outreach coordinator for Hillary Clinton, spoke about a wider phenomenon in the media outside of the right wing smear machine: “In the very beginning, as we just start to see women candidates coming through, I want to be cautious that we don’t fall into the sexist trap of talking about their likability exclusively,” she said. “It’s not about running for prom queen, it’s about running for president, and we need to make sure we are treating the women in the race the same as the men.”

He could easily have been including Bierman in the list of reporters he was addressing. I don’t believe Bierman is one of the raging sociopaths of talk radio, and nor is he one of the sleek and sophisticated liars of Fox News.

I believe that he is a reporter who mistakes what corporations want for what America needs, and falls for the herd mentality memes that seem to attach themselves to any Democratic candidate. He mistakes process for substance, and criticisms of the person for criticisms of the policy.

It’s an abdication of what he needs to be doing as a reporter, and it’s the same family of omissions that made the Trump monster possible in the first place.

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