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

 

 

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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

 

Perez wins #DNCchair vote but Progressives should not turn their backs

One of the most telling questions in the aftermath of Trump’s victory last November was – how can the Democrats respond?

It was a crushing defeat, leaving them not only without the White House, but also ther Senate, the House and the vast majority of state governing bodies as well.

Well, the opening remarks from the party’s leading “establishment” figures did not bode well.  The likes of Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi were a little too keen to focus on the involvement on the Russians in the election campaign while ignoring the fact that they both shut out the Sanders campaign in the primaries and also missed an open goal with the general election itself even with the alleged interference.

Now they need to regroup, and the first big test of this was the election of a new dhairperson of the Democratic National Committee.  This role is not that of “leader of the Party”, it is more one that is responsible for the overall brand of the party.  But this vote was significant in that the contest turned out to be a straight fight between Tom Perez, Labor Secretary under Obama and thus seen as leaning towards the “establishment”, and Keith Ellison, a Progressive congressman from Minnesota.

There can be little surprise that Progressives will be annoyed that Perez won, as this article on CommonDreams.org outlines…

Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth Action, which supported Ellison, said the outcome showed “[t]he DNC is out of touch with the American public and their needs. Democratic leaders were at a crossroads and today they chose to continue the failed Clinton strategy of prioritizing wealthy donors over the activist base.”

…and even the President himself weighed in shourtly after the result was announced…

Personally, while I would have backed Ellison myself, I don’t believe this is the time to direct anger at the Democrat leadership, however frustratingly corporate-controlled they may seem.  Now is the time to show them how much they need Progressive support,  and having won the vote by just 235 to 200, Perez at least appointed Ellison as his vice chair.

Does that automatically mean the Minnesota congressman will be included?  Of course not.  But right now is not the time to show division in the party.  Instead, at least let the new leadership be given a chance to take shape because there is a much bigger orange fish to fry.

That said,  a keen eye needs to be kept on how the party moves forward because if the likes of Sanders, Warren & Ellison aren’t getting their voices heard, their sizeable following could pose “establishment” Democrats a lot of headaches the next time primaries come around for house and senate elections.  JLP

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