Trump has done nothing but shut down key parts of government since he took office but you wouldn’t know it listening to Democrats and media

THE ISSUE

Whether it’s through stupidity, unwillingness or incompetence, the Democrat leadership cannot get across the simple message that Donald Trump’s agenda of racism, misogyny and pro-corporatism is bad for the American people, and the mainstream media isn’t much better.

THE MEDIA

YouTube clip by Dan Rather on The Young Turks on January 22, 2018

The Government Shutdown Ends With a ‘Promise’ For DACA Vote From the GOP – The News With Dan Rather

“…if most of the media ignore the year-long slow-motion shut down and if Democrats don’t raise enough stink about it, maybe it’s because too many of us have signalled that we’re on board”

THE COMMENT

Shortcomings with relief efforts in Puerto Rico.  Throwing millions off their medical insurance by hacking away at Obamacare.  Going after Medicare and Social Security.  Gutting the staff at the State Department.  Rescinding regulations for the sake of it.

Those are just some of the actions Donald Trump has taken since being sworn in just over a year ago, yet in recent days he has been able to frame the word ‘shutdown’ as meaning something that is only harmful to the US military, which already receives more funding than any other nation by a long, long way.

At first I was annoyed at myself for not realising that what the President has done since taking office is effectively a massive shutdown in itself, but I’m not involved with politics and government on a daily basis – the point is so simple and obvious that we have to wonder why his primary opposition, namely the Democrats and, as he calls them, ‘The Fake News Media’, haven’t been highlighting it all weekend?

Thankfully we have people like the legendary Dan Rather to get the message out there.  And as he points out, it’s possible that the general public is also complicit to an extent.

As I recently pointed out here on FPP, the likes of Chuck Schumer with his ‘bowl of Jello’ and Nancy Pelosi with her ‘poop Sundae’ simply don’t have the charisma necessary to deliver the kind of soundbites needed to combat Trump’s twitter tirades.  Meanwhile we have Dick Durbin gleefully using the word ‘bipartisanship’ as if it also necessarily means ‘fairness for the American people’.

Besides…if anything should have clinched the message battle for the Democrats re the latest shutdown it should have been that absolutely disgusting ad which suggested they would be responsible for any future murders by illegal immigrants.  That was nothing short of Hitler-esque propaganda [script most likely written by Stephen Miller] which speaks volumes for the intelligence levels of the demographic at which it was aimed.

The party badly needs new leadership.  Whether or not Mitch McConnell keeps to his word on DACA by February 8, the Democrats have left themselves wide open for negative press between now and then for having caved far too easily over the spending bill.

And there I was, very close to writing a post here praising them for finally showing a bit of fight.  Why do I allow myself to get so deluded?  JLP

#IANWAE

PS – As I’m about to publish, Trump has tweeted this :

I rest my case.

 

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US Democrats have an open goal yet no strikers on the pitch to put it away

THE ISSUE

At the time of posting, the US government is within hours of shutting down because the two main parties are engaged in a blaming war with each other, and one that the Republicans are being allowed to win.

THE MEDIA

Podcast by ‘Pod Save America’ on January 18, 2018

‘The Shithole Shutdown’

“If this government shuts down it’s not because of the Dreamers, it is because of what Donald Trump and Tom Cotton and Stephen Miller want to demand in exchange for doing something that they have promised that they would do, which is protect the Dreamers.”

THE COMMENT

It was a good line; all Nancy Pelosi had to do was deliver it.  

The Minority Leader of the US House of Representatives was trying to describe the Republican offer to put off the government shutdown for another month in a deal which had absolutely nothing in it to protect those on the DACA programme who are currently living in fear of deportation.

The line was something like ‘They offered us a bowl of poop with a cherry on top and tried to tell us it was a chocolate Sundae’.  She hesitated drastically just before saying the word ‘poop’ – she clearly didn’t want to say it.  But she did anyway, and she made what could have been a great soundbite into an even bigger poop Sundae.

I have absolutely no doubt that she was talked into using those words by her staff, and that her hesitation came from a reluctance to resort to that kind of talk.

Well I’m sorry Nancy but if you’re not prepared to get into the fight, maybe it’s time you stood aside and let in someone who is.

And while I do believe that the likes of Pelosi and Schumer and Feinstein are too old for what’s required to take on this particular White House and Republican congress, I don’t necessarily mean ‘old’ in the sense of a numerical age.  There are people close to my age who have a similar mindset.

But if issues like the Dreamers and the CHIP programme are being held hostage by the Republicans and the government gets shut down because of it, it’s up to the Democrats to fight tooth and nail to get their side of the story into the public domain, and it really shouldn’t be that difficult.  Look how easily the lads from Pod Save America [former staffers for Barack Obama] make it sound.

The Democrats, and indeed everyone living in the real world outside Utrumpia, badly need spokespeople who can properly deliver this simple message.  And it shouldn’t take TV personalities like Donald Trump and Oprah Winfrey to do it either. JLP

#IANWAE

The Young Turks’ Cenk Ungur lets loose on corporate Democrats as time runs out to secure DACA deal

THE ISSUE

The Republicans and Democrats need to agree on a budget before Friday otherwise the government will ‘shut down’, ie there will be no money to pay federal employees.  As the Senate must have at least 60 votes to pass a spending bill, even though the Democrats are in a minority their cotes are needed and thus they have some leverage and they are hoping to use this to finally secure a deal for the so-called ‘Dreamers’ or children of illegal immigrants who have proven themselves to be productive members of American society.

THE MEDIA

YouTube clip by The Young Turks on January 15, 2018

“…you’re weak, you’re losers, you’re pathetic.  How do you expect us to get excited, to show up to the polls, for these loser Democrats who can’t figure out a way to fight against fucking Trump???”

THE COMMENT

The reason we are outraged by Trump’s recent ‘shithole’ remark [not even going to bother with the word ‘alleged’…we all know he said it] is not because such words that shouldn’t ever be used in politics…in his case, it was all about the fact that he was referring to entire nations of people.

Of course there are times when the use of ‘salty’ language is absolutely necessary, and in this clip of the Young Turks, host Cenk Ungur rightly calls out the corporate Democrats for their meagre attempts to use their leverage in the government spending bill to secure proper legislation for the Dreamers.

It’s not often that Ungur gets this animated – though to be clear, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing because if he went on a tirade for every clip he’d be no better than Alex Jones.  This is definitely the kind of time-sensitive issue where a verbal kick up the backside is exactly what it required.  Whether it will do any good remains to be seen – I’m not so sure Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi know how to use YouTube, let alone subscribe to the Young Turks.

#IANWAE

It’s official – Trump White House believes in evolution!

He’s only been in the job for a couple of days [or to put it another way, only enough time for a few dozen angry Trump tweets] and already the new White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci has damaged the Trump 2020 re-election campaign.

Who could have possibly known that after being appointed to such a high profile job, the general public would trawl through his past tweets?  And there were certainly some gems found in there…

Scaramucci tweets

This is just one of several tweets which put Scaramucci in favour of strict gun control.  With the Republicans firmly in the pocket of the NRA, this clearly would not do.  How does the new Spin-Doctor General handle it?  Like this…

Oh, right! Well, that’s OK then!  So he has ‘evolved’, has he?  Fine.

So why don’t we just tuck this gem of a story in our back pocket until Trump runs for re-election, shall we?  Because you can be sure that the second the Democrats confirm their candidate, the GOP will start looking for dirt from their past, and that will no doubt include opinions they have held.

Clearly Scaramucci has provided them with the perfect response.  Assuming his tenure lasts to the 2020 campaign, that is – with this White House, you never know…  JLP

#IANWAE

 

 

Corporate Dems vow to do things ‘better’ – let’s hope that includes listening

Whatever you might think about Donald Trump and his administration, their tenure in the White House, a shade over six months old now, has been a rollercoaster ride with something new to report each and every passing day.

The biggest drawback to this obsession with the latest Washington shenanigans is, of course, the fact that although Trump & co might provide us with easy one-liners and online memes, there is also a very serious side to the story in that we are talking about the government of the most powerful nation in the world.

It’s all very well to ridicule the man in power right now – but it’s pointless unless you can suggest a reasonable alternative.

That alternative is the broad tent that is the Democratic Party, and the 2016 campaign in particular has divided it into two distinct factions….the “corporate wing”, essentially those in the most senior positions in Washington right now, and the “progressive wing”, ie those who follow the social equity platform of the likes of Bernie Sanders.

Here is a recent quote from the Washington Post to ponder…see if you can guess which side of the Democratic tent it came from…

“When you lose to somebody who has 40 percent popularity, you don’t blame other things — Comey, Russia — you blame yourself. So what did we do wrong? People didn’t know what we stood for, just that we were against Trump. And still believe that.”

Obviously I want you to think that’s a Progressive, when in actual fact it’s one of the most senior corporate Democrats, Minority leader of the Senate Chuck Schumer.

Ever since the election, Schumer and his counterpart in the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi have been as much under attack  from their left as from their right, probably more so.  And most of it was deserved.

But there has to be a point at which even progressives realise that the Schumers and Pelosis still represent the front line of the resistance to the current terrifying incarnation of the Republican Party, and once and a while they need to be given a bit of slack, especially when they are making noises that sound like they come straight out of the Bernie Sanders playbook.

I’m not one to give the Democrat leadership too much praise – the best thing that be said about the likes of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is that at least their corporate policies aren’t as bad as their opposition.  What I would rather do is change the narrative – it’s not about how much or little we appease the wishes of the “one percent”, rather it’s about formulating policies that are fair to everyone whether it benefits the rich or not.

To promote this mindset I fully understand the need to hold big-donor politicians to account no matter what their stripes.  But what do we do when they start using slogans that reflect our agenda?

“A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future”

Of course it’s natural to be sceptical when they start to look as though they’re drinking the Bernie KoolAid.  But care must be taken to ensure healthy scepticism doesn’t morph into petulant rejection.

For now anyway, I am willing to give the likes of Schumer a chance.  After all, it can’t have been easy to keep 48 Democratic senators united against Trumpcare – you can be sure one or two of the “Blue Dogs” (more right-leaning Democrats) were courted by the GOP and none have budged.

If the Democrats really want to adopt progressive values to their platform – remember they did at their convention last year only many feared it was empty promises on paper – they need to be supported, voted for, and put under pressure when there are any signs of them failing to deliver.

After all, that’sq what being a ‘Democrat’, with a large or small d, is meant to entail.  JLP

#IANWAE

The US news cycle in the Trump era

It’s all about the “news cycle” these days.

And it has gotten to a point whereby we are almost afraid to mention the “wrong thing” at the water cooler lest we be, at best, left behind by a conversation, and at worst, accused of being irrelevant.

Here in Ireland, there only seems to be one topic on the go on any given day and that is determined by what gets covered by RTÉ.  One thing I will say about the US…at least there is enough room for something resembling a battle over what people consider to be political priorities.

According to the corporate Democrats, it’s all about whether or not Trump & his cohorts were in collusion with the Russians.

According to the Republicans, it’s all about pushing their pro-big business agenda, while at the same time making small anti-Trump noises once in a while in case he brings them with him if/when he goes down.

According to Trump, it’s all about him, and anything he doesn’t like is merely “fake news”.

According to the mainstream media, it’s all about either taking a Democrat or Republican position or desperately trying to be “fair” ie finding a position somewhere in between them.

According to the Alt Right online media, it’s all about trying to trying to bend the news cycle towards the conservative viewpoint by any means necessary.

According to the more progressive online media, it’s all about deconstructing all of the above, taking breaks every so often to get us to buy razors through the post.

And last but certainly not least, you have Bernie Sanders.  Whether you agree with his politics or not, you can’t deny that when he goes to the media, be it mainstream or social, it’s all about the issues.  No scandal, no smoke and mirrors, no dog whistling, just the issues, with facts to support his argument.

Like this on his Facebook page from yesterday…

Trump is trying to cut $191 billion from the food stamps program, our nation’s most critical anti-hunger program. All over this country we have millions of kids struggling with hunger. Trump is telling them: sorry, we need to put that money into our military, when we already spend more on defense than the next 12 countries combined. This pathetic budget will be rejected by the American people.

We could all do with being more like Bernie when it comes to discussing government.

#IANWAE

Is what should be a “Trump Bump” at the polls already more like a “Trump Slump”?

On Tuesday, the Amercian people had their first chance to tell Donald Trump in a meaningful way what they thought of his overall performance so far.

He had appointed as director of the CIA Mike Pompeo, who had been a Republican member of the House of Repreasentives from the 4th district of the state of Kansas, and thus there needed to be a special election to fill his seat.

I’ll let the Kansas City Star tell you more

Pompeo, a Republican who won by 31 percentage points in November, gave up his seat in the 4th Congressional District in January to serve as Trump’s director of the CIA.

GOP strategists warned in recent days that Democrat James Thompson, a civil rights attorney, was in striking distance against Estes, Kansas state treasurer from Wichita…

Trump made a personal push for Estes on his Twitter account Tuesday morning.

“Ron Estes is running TODAY for Congress in the Great State of Kansas,” Trump tweeted. “A wonderful guy, I need his help on Healthcare & Tax Cuts (Reform).”

In the end, Estes prevailed with 53 percent to Thompson’s 45 percent.

The fact that Trump got involved so late in the race (Pence did too…between them they did some “robo-calling) shows how worried the GOP was.  And for a district that is so strongly Republican (Brits would call it a “safe seat”) to see a majority drop from 31 points to just 8 in the space of 5 months shows the fears were justified.

Many people ask me if there’s any point in bringing attention to all the crazy things that have happened in this administration…will there actually be any consequences?

Well if we’re hoping for impeachment then it’s only results like this that will help bring it about.  The Republicans currently control both the House and the Senate – the chances of either one flipping to the Democrats before the mid-terms in November 2018 are very slim.

BUT if enough results like this one in Kansas keep happening, there’s every chance a group of Republicans fearful of losing their own seats will see the benefit of speaking out against the sitting president.  And next week, there’s another special election which the Democrats might just win.

Tom Price was promoted from representing Georgia’s 6th district to being Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services despite numerous allegations of using his congressional office to personally profit from changes in legislation.  You may remember Price for standing beside the President as the Democrats were being blamed for the failure of Trumpcare.  Now his seat needs filling and the Democrats are confident they can overturn a 23-point deficit from last November.

Believe it or not, I’m not 100% excited by the prospect of the Democrats doing well right now.  Sure, anything that hurts Trump & the GOP is overall a good thing, but despite their having this much power, the Dems have done precious little to address their own failures in recent times.

It remains to be seen what changes will be made by new party chair Tom Perez but if more of these early special elections go his party’s way, he could be tempted to “sit tight” and do nothing, hoping the Repubicans implode so he won’t have to go the more “radical” (a word the MSM would probably use, I’d use “sensible”) route of giving more seats at the top table to the ever-growing Progressive wing.

We will still be following the events from “Georgia 6th” next week with much interest though.

#IANWAE