New Iowa abortion legislation shows how Irish political climate might look even if #RepealThe8th campaign is successful

THE ISSUE

Ireland is set to hold a referendum on May 25 to repeal the Eighth Amendment which was added to the Constitution in 1983, and if the Yes vote prevails, provisions can be made via legislation for safe and legal abortions in the jurisdiction.

THE MEDIA

Article by Saeed Ahmed and Isabella Gomez in CNN.com on May 3, 2018

Iowa lawmakers pass the nation’s most restrictive abortion ban — as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected

“By passing an intentionally unconstitutional bill, Iowa Republicans have declared that they do not care about the foundational values of our state, or Iowa’s future,” Planned Parenthood Voters of Iowa said.

THE COMMENT

With just a matter of weeks left until the referendum, the focus for all campaigners right now is on winning the vote, which of course is perfectly understandable.

But with ‘Yes’ consistently leading the polls, should they be reflected in the actual vote itself, I wonder if we need to be mindful of what the political climate could be like afterwards?

Removing the Eighth Amendment will allow for legislation to be debated and passed in the Dáil, but that can of course be changed by future governments, and whatever percentage of the electorate votes ‘No’ will become an instant constituency for right-leaning parties to court in election campaigns down the line.

Take the examples in many ‘Republican’ or ‘Red’ states in the USA.  The Roe vs Wade decision of 1973 allowed for safe and legal access to abortion across the country but since that time, state governments have passed a series of laws restricting access to such services that were so severe, particularly to women from lower economic classes, that they might as well have had our 8th amendment in place, and as you can see by the article linked above, Iowa is the latest state to take it further.

My hope is that should Yes win the day, it’s supporters will remain politically active to ensure proper legislation remains on the statute books indefinitely. JLP

www.checktheregister.ie

#IANWAE

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Mueller investigation confirms Russian interference…Trump’s only concern is himself

THE ISSUE

Whether or not Donald Trump personally colluded with the Russian government in their interference with the 2016 US Presidential election, the fact that he has done nothing to stop them doing it again since arriving in the White House is greatly worrying to say the least.

THE MEDIA

Article by Jan Wolf in Reuters on Friday, February 16, 2018

Russian Indictments Could Set Stage For More Mueller Charges

“While they went to great pains to say they are not indicting any Americans today, if I was an American and I did cooperate with Russians I would be extremely frightened today,” said former federal prosecutor Patrick Cotter.

The White House took a different view, issuing a statement saying that Trump had been briefed on the matter and was “glad to see the Special Counsel’s investigation further indicates there was NO COLLUSION between the Trump campaign and Russia.”

THE COMMENT

Rod Rosenstein looked so scared making his announcement you’d swear Trump was standing right in front of him.  I suppose you have to hand it to the President for at least being that intimidating.

Knowing full well his boss wants to fire him, Rosenstein had the unenviable task of explaining the latest move by the Mueller investigation to the media, namely that Russian citizens were being indicted for operating things such as ‘troll farms’ to sway public opinion.

When I was growing up I seem to recall Russia as being an enemy of the USA.  I’m not saying I was ever happy about that state of affairs, but one thing I know for sure is that it was the Republican Party pushing that line more than any other.

Now we have concrete evidence that they [and by they we can only assume the orders came from the very top] have been meddling in the democratic processes of supposedly ‘the land of the free and home of the brave’, we have to assume that the priority of the US government is to punish them and make sure it doesn’t happen again?

Of course not.  All Trump cares about is himself.  Is that just my opinion or do I have proof?  What say we examine his first tweet since the announcement of the Russian indictments…

Great, Mr President – so it looks like you’re in the clear [even though the announcement proves nothing of the sort].  Glad to see you have your priorities straight.  Who needs to worry about the Russians having an ‘anti-US campaign’ anyway?  Not the President, that’s for sure.  No doubt if challenged you’ll point to the fact that Obama did nothing either, even though he did and at the time you said it was bullshit.

As always, we can only scratch our heads as we try to figure out the mental capacity of, not the President himself, but the citizens of Utrumpia who swallow his every word hook, line and stinker.  That’s not a typo.  JLP

#IANWAE

CNN’s Chris Cuomo uses facts to challenge Trump’s claims of economic success, including the President’s own words

THE ISSUE

President Trump wants us to stop focusing on anything negative to do with his administration and instead heap praise on him for the success of the US economy since he took office.

THE MEDIA

YouTube clip by CNN on 29 Jan 2018

Trump [in clip from campaign speech]: “When you hear 4.9 and 5% unemployment the number is probably 28 and 29, as high as 35…”

Cuomo [in CNN studio]: “You know what?  I agree with the President!

THE COMMENT

“You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.” ― Daniel Patrick Moynihan

For me, the health of an economy is far from the only yardstick by which we should be judging our government.  But even if we accept that it is, CNN’s Chris Cuomo has done a great job putting the figures Trump has been crowing about into context.

At best, the economic reports under Trump are basically continuing the success that Obama had after inheriting a disastrous crash of the market.  But as Cuomo points out, in some areas the figures aren’t even that great in themselves.

But the best evidence he has comes from ‘candidate Trump’ who’s words are often found to be in direct opposition to those of ‘President Trump’.

And don’t just take CNN’s word for it…back in August the New York Times pointed out that : ‘Trump Praises the Stock Market at 22,000 That He Said Was a Bubble at 18,000

Let’s be clear…all politicians play fast and loose with economic figures to big themselves up, it’s just that in Trump’s case he has taken it to a whole new level by selectively ignoring his own words from the not-to-distant past.  JLP

#IANWAE

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.

 

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

If the White House can introduce countries like Nambia and Normay, then so can I…let’s talk about #Utrumpia

THE ISSUE

To support President Trump and his agenda, you either have to believe everything he says or at least decide that it is to your advantage to make it look as though you do.  Either way, you are living in a world which I call ‘Utrumpia’.

THE MEDIA

 PLUS

Podcast by FiveThirtyEight.com on January 16, 2018

Immigration Showdown

“...even if you were to take this generous interpretation of this data on it’s own, we’re still talking about a ‘doubling’ from eight to sixteen percent, which is not necessarily something to crow about?”

THE COMMENT

Mexicans are rapists.  The crowd at the 2017 Inauguration was the largest there has ever been [period].   Hillary only won the popular vote because there were millions of votes cast illegally.  There were fine people on both sides at Charlottesville.  There was no collusion with Russia.  Trump is a very stable genius.

All politicians lie.  Actually, all humans do.  But what Donald Trump has done to elevate himself to the highest office in the USA is on a whole new level, even for politics.

He has actually created a world for himself.  One where he establishes his own parameters and premises.  I call it ‘Utrumpia’.  What you see in the opening paragraph is merely a selection of the ‘realities’ in this world.

One of the ‘best qualities’ of this mystical realm is that anything and everything about it can change, because anything and everything is defined by what Donald Trump says in his latest tweet, no matter how much it contradicts something he has stated before or, in the case of the example I’m using for this post, no matter how much the actual facts and figures prove his assertions to be wrong.

As soon as I saw the tweet on his perceived increase in support from the African-American community [courtesy of Utrumpia’s premier news network], I was hoping that the number-crunchers from Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.com would take his claims to task, and in their latest podcast, they do just that.

But it’s not my intention to dig too deeply into this one issue, rather to highlight the wider one that is his overall strategy, although to call it a strategy would suggest we’re buying into his ‘stable genius’ claim…it could be more accurate to call it a ‘delusion’.

From this day forth you are going to see many references to Utrumpia on this website.  It is unfortunately a place we will have to visit quite often while its creator resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  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