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Kush goes all in

Kush goes all in

by digby

Too close to the truth:

In an effort to be completely transparent about his business deals, a bearded, keffiyeh-clad Jared Kushner announced Friday that he would avoid conflicts of interest by joining the Saudi royal family. “The American people deserve to know exactly where I stand in regards to financial interests, so to be completely open and transparent, I will become a member of the House of Saud,” said Kushner, who will henceforth be known as Prince Jared bin Charles. “In addition to renouncing my citizenship, I have decided to sell all of my U.S. properties, divorce my wife, and marry the eldest daughter of Prince Faisal bin Salman. Furthermore, I have made a $2.5-million donation to the country’s most selective Wahhabist school to ensure the acceptance of my heirs. Through all of this, I have been and will remain a senior advisor to President Trump.” At press time, bin Charles reportedly drove off in a gold-plated 2019 Lamborghini Aventador.

And yes, that IS The Onion.

He Was Lifting Weights with PJ and Squee

Behold, a Birthday Fundraiser!


Mitch’s chop shop by @BloggersRUs

Mitch's chop shop

by Tom Sullivan

Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in an interview with Bloomberg News this week all but tied on a mask and pulled out a gun:

After instituting a $1.5 trillion tax cut and signing off on a $675 billion budget for the Department of Defense, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that the only way to lower the record-high federal deficit would be to cut entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

"It’s disappointing, but it’s not a Republican problem," McConnell said of the deficit, which grew 17 percent to $779 billion in fiscal year 2018. McConnell explained to Bloomberg that "it’s a bipartisan problem: Unwillingness to address the real drivers of the debt by doing anything to adjust those programs to the demographics of America in the future." The deficit has increased 77 percent since McConnell became majority leader in 2015.

McConnell and company want to dismantle America's most popular safety-net programs. No matter that promises have been made and money withheld from Americans' paychecks for decades to support them. Looting the treasury and selling off America for parts is the GOP's program and what its well-heeled patrons demand. McConnell just doesn't want to do it when he has the power to. Bipartisanship is a good thing when it comes to spreading around the blame. He'll drive up the deficit and moan about the deficit to improve the optics of slashing the safety net. He'll lead Republicans to the cliff, but won't let them jump and take the blame alone for what their party alone wants to do.

As Jordan Weissmann recalls:

With Trump in power, Republicans came within a hair’s breadth of gutting Medicaid under the guise of Obamacare repeal, but were foiled by John McCain’s thumbs down. Other than that, they’ve been happy to pass tax cuts, increase defense spending, and push forward some reductions to food stamps, which would have a negligible budget impact while cutting off aid to needy Americans. Any even-handed observer would have to look at all this and conclude that Republicans mostly see the deficit as a political club with which they can opportunistically beat Democrats, rather than an actual existential concern.
Democrats have long embraced health care as the number one issue voters care about. Republican candidates at long last have discovered that too. So in between scare-mongering about murderous immigrant women and children from south of the border, they are shoe-horning in a message about preserving medical coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Eric Levitz writes in New York magazine:

This was always going to be a tricky gambit for the GOP. Simply put, it’s hard to convince people that they can only trust you to protect their entitlement benefits, when you’re also arguing that taxes must never be raised; military spending must never be cut; and the budget deficit is a threat to our grandchildren.
Levitz lists four false premises behind the GOP targeting of the most popular programs in the republic. The one that I want to highlight a moment is 3) America cannot significantly reduce its military spending:
But popular support for America’s current levels of military spending is much weaker than for the maintenance of entitlement benefits at their current levels. And our nation’s military budget is far more aberrantly expensive (relative to other countries’) than our safety-net programs for the elderly are. No budget “math” dictates that the Pentagon’s funding cannot be cut, but that aid to seniors can be. It is an ideological assumption, and objective news outlets should not allow politicians to present it as anything else.
Nine hundred or more military bases scattered among the world’s nearly 200 countries outside the United States is just what the founders intended, one supposes. The GOP will not touch those. Your Medicare and Social Security are fair game.

And your protection from health care discrimination on the basis of pre-existing conditions. House Republicans who voted repeatedly, year after year, to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) — more than 50 times, in fact — now want to assure voters they have their backs when it comes to protecting that feature of the popular program they swore to kill. Will Ragland, Center for American Progress’s managing director of communications, tells Mother Jones:

“Republicans seem to have gotten some sort of memo saying they need to stand up for preexisting conditions,” Ragland says. If any had not gotten that message yet, they certainly received it yesterday when President Donald Trump tweeted that Republicans must support protections for preexisting conditions.
Candidate Trump would have added, "Trust me."

McConnell, Trump and the GOP congress are merely tidying up their act before the November elections, hoping to survive them and extend the looting spree. Infrastructure and pieces of America they cannot steal directly from voters' pockets they'll haul to the legislative chop shop and sell off for parts.

* * * * * * * * *

For The Win 2018 is ready for download. Request a copy of my county-level election mechanics primer at tom.bluecentury at gmail.


In Honor of This National Day on Writing… birthday fundraiser continues grin

Meanwhile, as my coffers fill with gold, I'll be out on a neighborhood street cleanup on the west side of town (early AM) and door-knocking for the Londrigan campaign through the afternoon wherever they need me.

If you're out there too, say "hey".

Behold, a Birthday Fundraiser!

“Cheat your landlord if you can and must, but do not try to shortchange the Muse. It cannot be done. You can’t fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.” -- William S. Burroughs

“The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.”-- Robert Benchley

“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.”-- Samuel Johnson

“Know your literary tradition, savor it, steal from it, but when you sit down to write, forget about worshiping greatness and fetishizing masterpieces.”-- Allegra Goodman

“Style means the right word. The rest matters little.”-- Jules Renard

“The first sentence can’t be written until the final sentence is written.”-- Joyce Carol Oates

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”-- Ernest Hemingway

“It ain’t whatcha write, it’s the way atcha write it.”-- Jack Kerouac

“Let the world burn through you. Throw the prism light, white hot, on paper.”-- Ray Bradbury

“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”-- Elmore Leonard

“When I say work I only mean writing. Everything else is just odd jobs.”-- Margaret Laurence

"Writers live twice." -- Natalie Goldberg

Friday Night Soother

Friday Night Soother

by digby

Via Zooborns:

Keepers at Banham Zoo are thrilled to announce the latest addition to the zoo, a male Red Panda cub, an extremely valuable addition to the ongoing international efforts to protect this threatened species.

The cub, which is yet to be named, was born this summer to the zoo’s pair of Red Pandas, Jasper and Maggie. The two adult pandas have been together since 2015, producing a female cub in 2016.

In European zoos, Red panda’s usually mate in early spring and will give birth usually to one or two cubs after a gestation period of approximately four months.

Keepers at the zoo were convinced that Maggie was pregnant again this year and closely monitored her behaviour. They were proved correct when the cub was born in late July.

Maggie is doing an excellent job caring for her baby, staying in the nesting box for long periods of time. Red Panda cubs spend the first two to three months inside their nesting box, and although the keepers have decided to take a “hands-off” approach, they have managed to get an occasional glimpse of the infant to ensure that all is well.

The cub has started to explore its surroundings, occasionally venturing out of the nesting box with mum Maggie to the delight of keepers and visitors.

Animal Manager, Mike Woolham said, “We are delighted with our latest addition. The conservation of the animals in our care is of paramount importance to us and we hope that our latest arrival may throw the spotlight on the plight of this species and others under severe threat in South-east Asia”.

Red Pandas are listed as endangered and numbers in the wild are believed to have decreased by 50% in less than 20 years due to massive habitat loss and an increase in human poaching for their meat and beautiful red fur.

The cub will remain with his parents at the zoo for at least a year. Once he reaches maturity the European and International Studbook Coordinator for the species will recommend transferring him to another zoo, where he will most likely join a female to make up a new pair. They will hopefully then produce young of their own, helping to ensure the survival of the species.


Why we should name the unashamed at Trump rallies @spockosbrain

Why we should name the unashamed at Trump rallies

By Spocko

When Trump mocked Dr. Ford at a rally I watched the video of the people behind him smiling, laughing and clapping. My first thought was, "Name 'em and shame 'em!" But as many pointed out to me, "These people HAVE no shame!"  So is naming the unashamed at Trump rallies a useless activity? No, and I'll Vulcansplain why.

Who is 1) Gold Tie Guy? 2) Tan Hat Guy? 3) Grinning Glasses Guy?
These people chose to attend the rally.  They volunteered to stand behind Trump. They are the opposite of ashamed, they are proud to be on national TV showing their support for Trump as he mocked Dr. Ford. It was an honor.  

Who is 4) Mutton Chop Guy? 5) Beaded Laughing Guy 6) Red Hat Logo Guy 7) Happy Mocking Woman 
People suggest name and shame, because they know it would work on them if they said something considered shameful by themselves, their friends and family.

If you showed a video of me laughing, clapping and cheering for Trump as he mocked Dr. Ford, my family, friends and clients would be shocked. Someone would ask me, "What the what!? Is that Spocko's brain tumor talking?"

My activist friends would ask, "A new deep cover action?" My close personal friend George Soros would call and ask "What's wrong with you Spocko?" Then he would thank me for volunteering my services.

That is what my friends, family and business associates would do based on who they are and what they believe is shameful.  In this case we have shared beliefs.  They also know from my writing and activism that this behavior would be out of character.

But the people at the Trump rally liked what Trump was saying. You can tell by the looks on their faces right after he talked and their applause. (I've circled them in the video when they started smiling, laughing and applauding while he mocked Dr. Ford. )

If we found those people now and asked, 'Is this you in the photo?" they wouldn't run away from it like we would, they would embrace it. We need to remember that supporters laughing as Trump mocked Dr. Ford is viewed as a good thing and importantly, a NORMAL THING. This is an example of normalizing something that is repugnant.

Trump's rallies show the country that is it okay to bring out your inner misogynist. This behavior is approved by the GOP.  It now the acceptable social norm in the Republican conservative community.

Trump's goal is to link winning with his misogynist views. Because greed is his driving force, he also wants people who agree with his views on women, business, and truth to believe it will MAKE them money. (This is why he hid his father's constant influx of cash to shore up his massive business failures.)

Trump wants to show everyone there are no social, political or financial penalties for holding his misogynist views.  "Look at me! I said this and I'm a winner!"

He wants GOP members to believe that holding these views will lead to more votes in the upcoming election. If they do, it strengthens them.  If they don't, it should weaken them. 

These events are supposed to support local politicians. Maybe Gold Tie Guy holds an elected position.  At the Council Bluffs Iowa Trump rally two state senators were spotted.

That photo identification of those two politicians was useful. I then found video of Nebraska state senator, Steve Halloran, chanting, "Lock her up." referring to Senator Dianne Feinstein. So much for innocent until proven guilty, eh Senator Halloran?

But Why Name Them Now?
Each new Trump rally is an opportunity to identify more people who are proud supporters of what Trump says. After Plaid Shirt Guy was spotted making faces during a rally, the Trump advance team only puts real supporters behind him so now is the time to name them.

The people who let out their inner misogyny, bigotry, racism and sexism when supporting Trump's comments need to be named now when Trump appears to be winning. Because soon Trump and the views he expresses will experience a huge setback.  The excuse "we won, so it doesn't matter" will no longer provide an excuse.

When Trump loses people will go into denial mode. That is why the video of all these people supporting morally repugnant views needs to be saved and repeated.

Some politicians are more clever about being caught on camera saying equally hideous things (I wonder if Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith was laughing while Trump mocked Dr. Ford. She voted to confirm Kavanaugh)

This specific video has been seen by 10's of millions of people, yet I didn't find any identification of the people in the videos. 

Each rally will bring people cheering, laughing and approving new horrible things side by Trump. As Chris Hayes said tonight, "Trump is best at bringing out the worst in people."

On Thursday night in Montana he praised a politician for his felony assault of a journalist. And he said that it he helped him win. (This was part of normalizing violence against journalists used right after the murder of Khashoggi.)

Where will these Trump supporters be next? Here a link to the complete list.

I'm just like Jesus. He said let the children suffer too!
Mesa, Arizona
Friday, October 19, 2018

Elko, Nevada
Saturday October 20, 2018

Houston, Texas
Monday , October 22, 2018

Prepare For The Trump Crash 

I've worked with brand managers for major corporations who sponsored athletes and movie stars. When a celebrity athlete or performer says or does something that is considered horrible by the company, they often drop sponsorship. Even if that celebrity made them 100's of millions of dollars. Words can sometimes be clarified or "walked back" but no amount of previous Jello pudding pops sales will buy continued support for a convicted rapist.

This is especially the case when the words or actions of a person they sponsor are not in line with what the company stated they stand for. That said, I've learned that not everyone has the same values! Surprise!

There are employers, clients and sponsors who said, "Yes! Way to go Gold Tie Guy! Laughing and applauding Trump while he mocks Dr. Ford is in line with our values."   There will also be employers and clients who were disgusted by the laughter, cheering and applauding of Trump mocking Dr. Ford.

I want to make clear that Gold Tie Guy and the rest definitely should be free to express their political views. Two points:

  • The First Amendment protects Americans' free-speech rights from being restricted by the government, not their employer.
  • Freedom of speech is the right to freely express an opinion. It is most assuredly not the right to express an opinion with freedom from the consequences.
When @YesYoureRacist tweeted the photo of some men who were at Charlottesville Virginia the internet identified them.  One was Cole White. His employer, Top Dog of Berkeley, had a conversation with him and he resigned.  There was much discussion about employee's rights and if a company could fire someone for being a white supremacist. 

There is a possibility that when Gold Tie Guy and others are identified there might be negative consequences. If so, they will lash out and attack the people who named them.  Employers would be wise to review how Top Dog dealt with the Cole White situation.

“We pride ourselves on embracing and respecting all our differences and every individual’s choice to do as that person wishes within the boundaries of the law. We do not endorse hatred or any illegal conduct. It simply is not part of our culture.
We do respect our employees’ right to their opinions. They are free to make their own choices but must accept the responsibilities of those choices,” the statement said."
-- Top Dog LLC 

Even though the behavior of the people at the rallies is clear, I believe it is important for employers and organizations to gather all the information and consider the context when confronted with a situation like this, because video can be manipulated and info taken out of context. Then if warranted, appropriate action should be taken. 

As a follow up note, people should know that in the case of Cole White, on October 2, 2018 four men, including White, were charged with inciting a riot in Charlottesville.  

Soon more illegal, immoral and traitorous actions leading to Trump's and the GOP's wins will be revealed. That is when we should bring out the video of the unashamed at the rally applauding Trump as he mocked Dr. Ford.

Trump kissing Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, at Mississippi rally
 right before he mocked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's testimony about her sexual assault.
Five days later Hyde-Smith voted to confirm Bart Kavanaugh.

Losers Double Down 

I believe in people's ability to change and grow in both wisdom and compassion. I also know some people chose not to change. The unashamed will double down on their views following a loss at the polls. 

They knowingly chose to celebrate the mocking, lying, cheating, bullying and law breaking of Trump and the GOP. They believed that nothing mattered on the way to a "win."

They trumpeted their support of cruelty on national TV. They knew what they were doing when they hitched their wagon to this dark star.

It is important to name these proud misogynists at that rally in Sutherland Mississippi. I'm hoping that people from Mississippi can identify the people in this video. When the rationale for their horrible views -- winning -- is gone, we can show they are misogynists AND losers.


The suicide mystery

The suicide mystery

by digby

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is scrutinizing how a collection of activists and pundits intersected with WikiLeaks, the website that U.S. officials say was the primary conduit for publishing materials stolen by Russia, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Mueller’s team has recently questioned witnesses about the activities of longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone, including his contacts with WikiLeaks, and has obtained telephone records, according to the people familiar with the matter.

Investigators also have evidence that the late GOP activist Peter W. Smith may have had advance knowledge of details about the release of emails from a top Hillary Clinton campaign official by WikiLeaks, one person familiar with the matter said. They have questioned Mr. Smith’s associates, the person said.

Right-wing pundit Jerome Corsi was also questioned by investigators about his interactions with Mr. Stone and WikiLeaks before a grand jury in September, according to a person familiar with the matter. Mr. Corsi declined to comment. A lawyer for Mr. Stone said he hasn’t been contacted by the special counsel. Mr. Smith died last year.

Mr. Mueller’s office declined to comment.

You know about Peter Smith, right?

Peter Smith, who is now dead, sought and collected donations from four people as part of a plan to obtain Clinton’s stolen emails from hackers just weeks from the election, the Wall Street Journal reported. The FBI is investigating the fundraising campaign as part of it's probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Smith died in May 2017, days after talking to the Journal about his efforts. An autopsy report says Smith committed suicide in a Minnesota hotel room and police said they found a suicide note that reportedly read, "NO FOUL PLAY WHATSOEVER



GOP hobgoblin FTW

GOP hobgoblin FTW

by digby

They don't need no stinkin' consistency. Trump rules are Trump rules. Everybody else better be "nice."

And, by the way, I hear the same thing all over cable news today. The gasbags are especially upset that Beto O'Rourke said that Trump's "Lyin' Ted" nickname for Ted Cruz was accurate because that makes him just as bad as Trump. "Democrats can't condemn Trump if they act like him," they say. In fact, anyone who fires up Democrats, such as O'Rourke and Warren, are Doing It All Wrong, no matter what they do.

Bad Democrats! Stop being so uncivil! You are terrible hypocrites. If you think Trump is uncivil, you must accept their blows, smile and say "thank you for your service" after which you may read aloud from your position paper on school choice. Then the media will criticize you for being weak and compliment the Republicans for knowing how to win.

Republicans everywhere are laughing their asses off. They know that all the negative (and factual) coverage of Trump is going to result in a huge incentive for the press to find ways to make Democrats equally toxic, even when they have to reach like this. That's what "working the refs" is all about. They don't even have to do anything anymore. It's automatic.

Also, this:


A little bit of positive info

A little bit of positive info

by digby

I knew the Dems were massively outraising the Republicans with individual donors. What I didn't know was how that was significant in terms of voting:

There's a ton of dark money floating around in this race on both sides. And I've always been a bit of a skeptic about how much money really makes the difference after a certain point in a time when people skip through ads and online propaganda is pretty cheap. But individual donations being a proxy for enthusiasm makes sense to me. I just hope it's localized enough that it is reflective of voters in swing and red districts and not just national enthusiasm in blue states.

From what I have seen, there are a lot of local Democratic donors. Beto O'Rourke reportedly got 70% pf his donations from Texas. So hopefully this will bear out in individual races around the country.


Professional Left Podcast #463

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