The Canary in the Tax Cut Mine
Congressman Darrell Issa, southern California Republican, became the first Member of the majority party to announce his opposition to the House tax cut plan: amazingly, because it favored the wealthy over the middle class! Talk about the canary in the (tax cut) mine!!
Issa is one of the most conservative, aggressive, seemingly-safe Republicans in Congress. As the previous Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, he terrorized the Democrats—especially Hillary Clinton—with investigations, subpoenas, press events, committee hearings. And, just as an aside, he is the wealthiest Congressman in the House!
He also represents one of the seven California Republican Congressional districts which voted for Hillary in 2016. And his San Diego/Orange Counties district almost voted him out that year.
Darrell obviously feels the wave at his back. And he is scrambling. There seemingly was no Republican more likely to vote for corporate tax cuts than Darrell Issa.
Clearly, Darrell feels the change in the political environment that we all hope will manifest itself in 2018. His district has never voted for a Democrat. No Republican has ever been as arrogant. No canary has ever chirped more loudly.
“All it takes to stop a bad man with a gun is a good man with a gun”
It figures–the latest gun tragedy in Texas is confirmation of the “thinking” of the NRA and its political stooges: All it takes to stop a bad man with a gun is a good man with a gun. And it confirms the “thinking” of Donald Trump: It’s sad—and proves the primacy of the mental health issue.
Of course, we need better mental health treatment throughout our nation. Of course, we applaud ordinary citizens for getting involved to fight crime. But why the hell can this guy so easily get access to assault weaponry?
He had served time in a military brig for fracturing the skull of his baby. He had physically abused his wife. He was court-martialed and dishonorably discharged from the Air Force. Was there even a background check done? Were these military crimes even available in the background system? If not, why not?
How long, America, will we tolerate this?
A special thank you to MSNBC anchor, Katy Tur. Not only was her own anguish appropriately visible, but she refused to let politicians off the hook for their cream puff responses to her questions.
And also a special thank you to Texas Senator, Ted Cruz. His criminal hypocrisy was obvious to all. The phony grief. The refusal to “politicize” the tragedy—which, of course, is politicalization. And then the NRA catechism: the good guy who stopped further carnage.
TED: there would have been no carnage without the assault rifle!
Thank you, Dr. Bandy Lee!
Dr. Bandy Lee, a Professor in Law and Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, has done our entire nation a great service by gathering2T psychiatrists and mental health experts in producing a volume on The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump. The so-called “Goldwater Rule”, propounded by the American Psychiatric Association, tells mental health professionals that they cannot “diagnose” political figures without having done a personal evaluation. But Dr. Lee and her colleagues feel that the “duty to warn” their nation trumps the Rule.
All of the contributors to this collection do stress that certain diagnoses do require personal examinations. But there is a myriad of behaviors (particularly with this President) that clearly exhibit the existence of certain conditions which, in the case of one who holds sole power over the nuclear codes, represent extreme danger to the entire world.
“Extreme present hedonism” (proven with actual quotes proving dehumanization, lying, misogyny, paranoia, racism, and self-aggrandizement), “pathological and malignant narcissism”, “the psychotic spiral”, “trust deficit”, “sociopathy”, “delusional disorder”, “Trump anxiety disorder” are all clearly explained for every American citizen-as well as why the behaviors represent a clear and present danger to all of us.
We all, as laymen, can see the madness, the impulsivity, the narcissism, the derangement of Donald Trump-but now we have truly expert opinion on both the disorders and their dangers and the ways in which we and our Representatives can deal with Him.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Dr. Bandy Lee!
Not a Moron
The President is not a moron—he is dangerous. North Korea. Puerto Rico. Iran. Climate change. Venezuela. DACA. Nuclear weapons. Worker protections. The Affordable Care Act. Public Education. Democratic elections. Andonandonandon. We cannot rely on incompetence!
And beware of the narrative that NOTHING of consequence has been accomplished in the Administration’s first nine months. The regulatory powers—above and beyond the nuclear power– of the Executive branch is awesome. The environment—trashed. Alternative energy—blocked. Voting rights—abandoned. Young (and old) immigrants—terrified. Working people—endangered. Women’s reproductive rights—threatened. Healthcare for Medicaid recipients—eliminated. Black lives—not mattering. The First Amendment—teetering.
And corporate power—rising. The 1%–eagerly awaiting massive tax cuts. The Second Amendment—untouched. Wall Street and the private college and the Health and Insurance industries—salivating over the possible privatization of–well everything.
Not a moron. Not a bumbling, ineffectual, blustering Tweeter. A destroyer of worlds.
Let Them Eat Paper Towels
Every time you thought it couldn’t get worse, it gets worse. Even Marie Antoinette must be rolling in her grave.
The picture of the President tossing out rolls of paper towels during today’s visit to Puerto Rico must rank as the most (pick a word) galling, insulting, arrogant, lack of empathy, tone-deaf, over-the-top-noblesse oblige, stupid, in-character actions of this Administration. Throwing paper to Puerto Ricans living without power, without food and water, without medical care, without basic infrastructure??? Take that, you lazy people who ask the Government for everything without trying to help yourselves! Take that Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, you bitch with a name I can’t pronounce! Take that, you stupid people who have put yourselves in bankruptcy and are now giving OUR budget a whack! We have done wonders for you! Even Michael (“good job Brownie”) Brown must be rolling in his grave.
Every criminal, insulting, arrogant act of this Administration quickly gets lost in the next criminal, insulting, arrogant act. Have we already forgotten last week’s “let them eat cake” private jet scandal of the billionaire Cabinet? Former Secretary Tom Price offering to reimburse taxpayers for “his seat”. Secretary Ryan Zinke characterizing his $12,000 flight aboard the private jet of an oil corporation as “a little BS”. Secretary David Shulkin empathizing with his suffering veterans while enjoying the Wimbledon tennis matches and cruise on the Thames. Secretary Mnuchin thinking his status deserving of a private jet for his honeymoon—and his wife denigrating all he working class slobs who can’t afford her wardrobe and jewelry. What cynicism, what arrogance, what insulting behavior, what criminality!!!
Dontcha just love the populism of this crew?
Taking a Knee on Puerto Rico
A lot of football metaphors have been kicking around lately. Was Trump’s attack on NFL players a misdirection play, a punt, a Hail Mary? Let’s call it an unforced fumble. Calling a First Amendment protest an unpatriotic act which dishonored our Flag, our National Anthem, our military sacrifices not only showed his typical ignorance of democratic institutions and values—but highlighted his hypocritical and racist justification of the “good people” marching with Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville.
But the true stain on our national honor has been the criminal neglect of the more than 3 million fellow Americans in Puerto Rico. No power, no food, no water, no housing, no medical treatment—HERE was the opportunity to honor our Flag, National Anthem, and Military. Rather than tweeting on the “national shame” exhibited by football players, why wasn’t he ordering the military, the hospital ships, the airlifts, the funds into a more-than-dire national emergency? Why isn’t he focusing on the moral necessity of immediate aid?
No, Mr. President, once again YOU are the national shame.
How the Hell is this Normal?
As I watch hundreds of heads talking as if we are living through some normal Presidential administration, I keep yelling at them: “How the hell is this normal?”
Is this, at last, a “pivot”? Doesn’t the Afghanistan speech show that Generals Mattis, McMaster, and Kelly are indeed “adults in the room”? Hasn’t Chief-of-Staff Kelly finally restored some order and discipline to the West Wing? Why does the press keep quoting the lies of press secretary Sarah Hucksterabee Sanders? Why do they even keep going to the daily briefings—when no questions are ever answered? Why do they ask “normal” questions of the President when he doesn’t know any details of the legislation he’s advocating—or just blatantly lies, notwithstanding all the “normal” fact-checking? Wow, he’s finally “acting Presidential” because he’s reading off the teleprompter! He’s working with “Chuck and Nancy”! He’s become the Consoler-in-Chief with a photo-op after Hurricane Irma! He even goes to the United Nations! And what a funny bromance with Vladimir Putin?
This ordinary treatment of a deranged President is dangerous! He threatens “complete destruction” of North Korea. This was not merely, as a European foreign minister said, “the wrong speech, at the wrong time, to the wrong audience.” He is actually threatening to unleash nuclear war on our planet!
His original abolition of the DACA program was not merely a change in immigration policy. He has brought existential fear to millions of young people in America—and threatens to use a national police force to deport all the disgusting scum in our midst. California Governor, Jerry Brown, in supporting state “sanctuary” legislation, brought some needed language to the nation: “We’re not soldiers of Donald Trump or the federal immigration service.”
He insults people of color, women, disabled persons, immigrants, judges, reporters—and it’s just “locker room” chatter. Hey guys, he’s attacking all the fundamental values and institutions of our nation. Let’s say it!
He is never going to “pivot”, or “act Presidential”, or demonstrate empathy, or understand complex domestic and foreign policy, or tell the truth, or put national interest ahead of the Trump brand. He’s on a fast track to destroying the nation we love. Talking heads: Let’s develop the language and tactics to make this clear to all Americans.
How do we deal with the threat to DACA, brought about by Donald Trump?
Let’s look back at the sit-ins, Freedom Rides, and voting rights efforts in the Civil Rights Movement in the early 1960s. Faced with the immorality of segregation, thousands of people put their bodies out front and, in many cases, their lives on the line and undertook DIRECT action. Breaking immoral laws (but, as Dr. King insisted, taking the consequences and going to jail), they forced all of America to look at the distance between a Jim Crow legal structure and historical American values. And we triumphed!
With that history in mind, I think we should confront the DACA situation with two steps:
- Bring every possible public and private institution into a “sanctuary” status. Every individual church, school, University, NGO headquarters, big-box store, community center, hospital should declare themselves open to PHYSICALLY protect our Dreamers. It follow that every single one of us has a local focus to organize our own organization, church, University, place of work, city government, condo building to designate a PHYSICAL space to house 1, 10, or 50 (a college dormitory) Dreamers as deportation threatens.
- And then comes the hard part: Again, with a local focus, organize our own organization members, church parishioners, campus, co-workers, government officials, and neighbors to be prepared to PHYSICALLY surround the sanctuary to “prevent” arrests of Dreamers and, if necessary, be willing to be arrested themselves. As with the sit-ins and Freedom Riders, imagine the media and political impact of ICE agents arresting all those PHYSICALLY protecting our Dreamers! The movement would spread and go viral/spiral!
Millions of hard-working and (now) American neighbors are incredibly fearful of the threatened deportations. Junior high and high school students don’t walk out of school to join (or lead) protest marches without having been brought to a crisis point. They need our help—and need it NOW!
All progressive Americans and organizations must join together to protect our Dreamers. Even, and especially, those of us that who are not specifically threatened with any deportation. And when we are successful, imagine the impact of such a coalition on other ongoing struggles (single payer health care, Black Lives Matter, climate change, education equality, LGBT rights, campaign finance reform, good paying jobs for all, and on and on and on! The DACA crisis is today’s fight—and joining together to protect our American Dreamers will make us all stronger tomorrow.
It wasn’t enough to call Mexicans “criminals” and “rapists”. It wasn’t enough to go after the grieving parents of a U.S. Muslim soldier killed in action. It wasn’t enough to question the impartiality of a Federal judge because he was a “Mexican”. It wasn’t enough to go after the transgender community. It wasn’t enough to try to mandate a Muslim ban. It wasn’t even enough to give comfort to Nazis and Klan members. No, our President had to go further.
In pardoning “Sheriff Joe” Arpaio, he created fear in every Latino family in America. Here was a man, under the color of law, who terrorized the Latino community in his county. Arrests without cause, police brutality, unexplained deaths, instilling fear—these were the reasons he was convicted for contempt by a Federal court. “He was just doing his job,” explained the President. And thus giving cover to every law enforcement agent in this country to violate any citizen’s civil liberties with impunity. Driving while black? OK to stop. Walking while brown? OK to turn over to immigration officials. Reaching for his driver’s license? OK to shoot. Selling cigarettes on the corner? OK to kill.
The President has turned in his dog whistle for a blaring stereo sound system. No respect for law or the basic concepts of humanity and compassion. Racism is the explicit policy of this Administration.
And what does this pardon say to Donnie, Jr., Jared, Paul, Michael, and all the rest: It’s gonna be OK to lie to the FBI, to Congress, to a Grand Jury. Daddy will take care of you.
Hey, Daddy: Pardon ME.
WHERE ARE THE DEMOCRATS?
#3 in a Series: Program? What Program?
Notwithstanding the moral cowardice of elected Republican officials (see previous Blog), Democrats cannot advance by just hoping that the Republicans will self-destruct. We need a program, a vision, a guide to our future action if we ever regain the Congressional majority. For starters, let’s address the following issues:
- Foreign affairs. The President is threatening nuclear war over North Korea. Do we have an alternative diplomatic plan? What do we think about Syria, Afghanistan, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
- Medical care for all. Should we lay out a specific single-payer plan? How about a transition to Medicare for All, starting with lowering the age of eligibility to 55?
- REAL tax reform. We cannot let them label their plan as “reform”: it’s simply and starkly a colossal tax cut for the wealthiest 1% (not to mention a personal windfall for our greedy President). Let’s get rid of the billions in tax loopholes. Let’s have wealthy individuals and corporations pay their fair share. Let’s give the middle class a REAL tax cut. And let’s be bold—and adopt the Tobin Tax. This would put a miniscule tax on all the casino gambling in the financial markets (such as currency and commodity bets)—which amounts to trillions of dollars PER DAY! We could become the Party of NO TAXES for the middle class!
- Community Policing. The answer to crime is to have REAL relationships between police officers and communities. Walking and bicycle patrols. Text numbers and e-mail addresses for the community to contact THEIR neighborhood cops. The police really getting to know the local businesses and local schools. I did much of this when I was a City Councilman in San Diego—and I was probably the only urban councilman in America who could walk into a meeting of black and brown community members with the Police Chief and his neighborhood patrols and get a standing ovation!
- Climate change. Let’s put together a national speakers bureau and go into denial communities and speak their language. Let’s aggressively confront this potentially planet-ending disaster.
- Cabinet Departments that are being hollowed out. We all know that the Secretaries of Housing, Energy, and Education and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency are Republican ideologues who want to destroy the missions of their respective agencies. We must demonstrate their true relevancy to the people of America.
- — (10) Fill in the blanks. And let’s get started! The 2018 elections are just around the corner.