Sunday, February 10, 2019

Will Democrats Overreach ... Again!

It's only February and the 2020 presidential field is already crowded. With the announcement by Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar that she is running for president, the number of candidates vying for the Democratic nomination is now up to ten. In addition to Klobuchar, the list includes Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, New Jersey senator Corey Booker, California senator Kamala Harris, former secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Obama Administration Julian Castro, New York senator Kirsten Gilibrand, South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg and Hawaiian congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

By the end of the month we could see former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke, California congressman Eric Swalwell, Colorado senator Michael Bennet, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders and Ohio senator Sherrod Brown announce their candidacies. And let's not forget the 800 pound gorilla in the room: former VP Joe Biden. The man who many now feel should've run in 2016 has said he will make his decision on whether to run in 2020 soon. It wouldn't surprise me one bit if by the end of March there are 20 or more Democrats in the ring. And while I haven't officially weighed in on the various strengths and weaknesses of each of these candidates, I am starting to see a disturbing pattern emerge among those who have declared that could be potentially fatal. To put it succinctly, most of these candidates are running way to the left of where the party needs to be to defeat Donald Trump in 2020.

While the Medicare for all pledge that the frontrunners have adopted will no doubt be music to the ears of progressives, the fact is that in 2009, when Democrats held 60 seats in the Senate, they couldn't even get a public option to the floor for a vote, much less a single payer. Serving up red meat to the base may deliver some lucky person the nomination, but it could also deliver Trump a second term in the White House.

Clearly there is a split within the party between the centrists and the progressives, and I fear that the progressives may end up with the upper hand. And that would be tragic. The gains Democrats made in the House primarily came from suburban districts that are anything but liberal. Many of these districts voted for Trump in 2016 and they could end up voting for him again in 2020 if Dems overreach.

That is why it is imperative that more moderate Democrats like Bennet, Brown and Biden decide to run. They could pull the party back to the middle, which is where it needs to be to prevail in a general election. Brown, in particular, knows a thing or two about how to run and win in a state where Democrats are about as popular as a mosquito at a picnic. While he has supported Medicare for all in the past, he has recently stated that it's "not practical." Instead, he supports lowering the age that people can get Medicare to 55.

Bennet, likewise, has criticized plans to push for a single payer system, calling it "a bad opening offer." He has proposed, along with Virginia senator Tim Kaine, a public option that would allow people to keep their private insurance if they are happy with it. And Biden, perhaps more than any other Democrat, knows all too well that pie-in-the-sky politics doesn't necessarily translate into legislative accomplishments. It is no coincidence that Barack Obama and Bill Clinton were both widely criticized by their base for striking deals with Republicans while in office. It's also no coincidence that both won reelection rather handily.

That's because governing is a lot more difficult than campaigning; a fact that often appears to be lost on many progressives these days. While liberals still decry the Affordable Care Act as a sellout to the insurance industry, it nonetheless passed because Obama was pragmatic enough to realize that a little bit of something was better than a whole lot of nothing. You can call it selling out or incremental politics; it depends on your point of view.

Another potential disaster in the making is the proposal by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to impose a 70 percent tax on the rich. Don't get me wrong: I'm not opposed to the top one percent paying more in taxes. The idea that if you raise taxes on millionaires and billionaires they will lose all incentive to succeed is a fantasy concocted by conservatives that even wealthy men like Warren Buffet have denounced. But ultimately, it's a distraction that can come back to bite Democrats in 2020.

Rather than pledging to raise taxes on the wealthy, the better move would be to pledge to restore the deductions that were taken away (i.e., stolen) from millions of middle-class families in the Republican tax scheme of 2017. As we speak, many of these people are discovering what any first-year accounting major could've told them: that they got screwed. And, as is typical for them, not a single Democratic presidential candidate has mentioned it. Running as a champion of the middle class is a winning hand that Trump and the GOP will have no answer for. It should be priority one in the party platform at next year's convention.

Promising the moon is not the way to win over the electorate. We already have a snake oil salesman in the White House who sold a bill of goods to a lot of gullible and frustrated people. And while those people are still frustrated, they're not nearly as gullible as they were four years ago. Many of them have caught on to Trump's lies and are reconsidering the Democrats. The best way to ensure they vote blue in 2020 is by providing them with workable and practical solutions to their everyday problems, not conning them again.

Put it this way. When Kennedy, in 1961, promised to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade, America couldn't even get a rocket off the launch pad that didn't explode. But NASA, step by step, constructed a series of rockets that not only attained orbit, but eventually made it all the way to the moon and back. Patience and perseverance was what made the difference.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out what's wrong with the country. Trump did that brilliantly in 2016. The real trick is knowing how to make it right.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

"Countless" Lies

Before we get around to Trump's State of the Union address, I wanted to say a few words about Stacey Abrams' rebuttal. It was a pleasure actually watching someone give an address that didn't look like a hostage video. She was warm, engaging and made a compelling case for Democrats going into the most consequential election in more than a generation. It was also quite clear from her demeanor that she not only has a future in the party, for all intents and purposes she represents the fastest growing segment of it.

Now onto the Liar in Chief. Let's just cut to the chase: it's easier keeping track of the few truths that emanate from Trump's mouth than the many lies. In just under two hours, this president outdid even himself. It's a wonder Nancy Pelosi didn't keel over from laughter during his speech.

I did my best to list the more egregious offenses, and, surprise, surprise, almost all of them had to do with the border and illegal immigration. But a few had to do with another pet peeve of his: tariffs and trade.

The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime — one of the highest in the country, and considered one of our nation’s most dangerous cities. Now, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities.

Between 1993 and 2006, violent crime in El Paso fell 34 percent. In fact, the city had the third lowest violent crime rate prior to the construction of a 57-mile border fence, which was not completed until 2010.

Tens of thousands of innocent Americans are killed by lethal drugs that cross our border and flood into our cities, including meth, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl.

While most illegal drugs do enter the U.S. via the southern border with Mexico, they arrive at legal ports of entry which would be unaffected by a border wall. However, the number one cause of drug-related deaths is prescription drugs. Indeed, the opioid crisis affects thousands of counties across this country, and no president - including this one - has come up with a solution for it.

Year after year, countless Americans are murdered by criminal illegal aliens.

This is an absurd charge to make, given that the word "countless" is not quantifiable by any known metric. However, what we do know is that immigrants - illegal or not - are less likely than native born citizens to commit violent crimes. You can google this, it's not that hard.

The lawless state of our southern border is a threat to the safety, security and financial well-being of all Americans. We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens.

For the umpteenth time, there is no security crisis at the border. Since 2000, apprehensions at the southern border have gone from 1.6 million to less than 400,000. As of 2018, it was at the lowest level in 45 years. This is due primarily to an increase in both technology and the number of border patrol agents deployed, the very things Democrats want to increase funding for in their budget proposal.

Therefore, we recently imposed tariffs on $250 billion dollars of Chinese goods — and now our Treasury is receiving billions of dollars.

He still thinks that tariffs go directly into the Treasury. The fact is exporters like China do not pay the tariff. It's the importers who pick up the tab and then pass it on to consumers in the form of higher prices at the cash register. A first year economics major could figure this out.

Our new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement — or USMCA — will replace NAFTA and deliver for American workers: bringing back our manufacturing jobs, expanding American agriculture, protecting intellectual property, and ensuring that more cars are proudly stamped with the four beautiful words: Made in the USA.

Actually, it doesn't come close to dealing with any of the legitimate issues the U.S. has with China and net, net it will cause car prices to rise and the overall selection of cars to decrease. G.M. has already announced it is fazing out most of the sedans in its Chevrolet division.

In just over two years since the election, we have launched an unprecedented economic boom -- a boom that has rarely been seen before.

Actually, we have seen it before. In the 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2014, to be precise. In both instances, U.S. GDP was 5.1 percent and 4.9 percent respectively, and both were considerably higher than the 4.2 percent in the 2nd quarter of 2018 that Trump likes to boast about. In fact, since the end of the recession in December of 2009, the Obama Administration saw the creation of more than 16 million jobs. During the Clinton Administration, the economy added 18.6 million jobs, by far the most of any presidency. So far, in the first two years of the Trump Administration, the economy has added 4.8 million jobs. Assuming Trump wins reelection and those numbers hold firm, they would eclipse both Obama's and Clinton's. But that's a big if. Both Clinton and Obama had to contend with economic down turns that negatively impacted job growth. It is highly likely that a similar economic down turn will occur over the next couple of years, thereby depriving Trump the title of number one job creator. At any rate, there is nothing "unprecedented" about this economic boom.

The U.S. economy is growing almost twice as fast today as when I took office, and we are considered far and away the hottest economy anywhere in the world.

If you subtract the 2nd quarter of 2018, the economy has grown pretty much at the same pace as it did under the Obama Administration. Indeed, Trump's biggest accomplishment appears to be not completely screwing up the recovery that began under Obama. But give him time; I'm sure he'll get around to it.

If I had not been elected President of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea.

So, basically, what he's saying here is that, sans him, the world would've ended in a nuclear holocaust. Because that's ostensibly the logical conclusion. Any major war involving North Korea would undoubtedly lead to an exchange of nuclear weapons. The fact is this president has been no more successful in getting Kim Jong-un to give up his nukes than previous presidents. Indeed, Kim appears to be playing Trump the same way every other dictator has by stroking his massive ego. If anyone deserves credit for getting Kim to the table, it's South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who welcomed North Korea's athletes to the Winter Olympics at Pyeong Chang last year. Trump, through his use of the term Little Rocket Man to describe Kim in 2017, damn near started World War III.

There were a few more beauties in the speech, but I think you get the point. It was a bad night for the truth and an even worse one for this president, who seems to not care in the slightest that he is destroying the very nation he bragged he would make great again and which he also swore an oath to defend. 

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Ralph Northam Has No Excuses, and Neither Do Democrats

This was no childish prank or drunken outing with the boys at a local honky tonk. Nor was it merely a simple lack of judgment. This was a med-school graduate in his mid-twenties who on his yearbook page had a photograph of a man in blackface and another man dressed in KKK garb.

There is no justification for this. None! Nor is there any excuse that passes the smell test. To even suggest there is offends any sense of decency a civilized society possesses. And for Democrats, this isn't just a political issue, it's a moral one. Ralph Northam, the Democratic governor of Virginia, did something profoundly wrong and he must be held accountable.

I don't want to hear any of the typical rationalizations that I've heard over the years. In the '90s, progressives covered for Bill Clinton. They were wrong. Over the last few months, Senator Kirsten Gilibrand has been facing backlash for demanding that Senator Al Franken resign after his sexual misconduct had been made public. They are wrong. This inability to hold members of their own party accountable for indiscretions is problematic and potentially fatal. Thankfully, it looks as though Northam isn't going to get the same mulligan that Clinton and Franken got.

There are calls for him to resign the governorship coming from virtually all the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates and many from within his own party. Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to be getting the message. Far from it. Northam, after issuing a public apology last night, is now maintaining he was not either of those two men in the photo. Really, Gov? Do you typically apologize for things you haven't done? Are you saying you didn't notice the blackface and hooded guys on your yearbook page when you graduated - 35 YEARS AGO?! Or that you spent three years at a medical school and never purchased a copy of its yearbook, yet took the time to submit to the school a photo of yourself dressed in a suit? Spare me. Be a man and own what you did, for God's sake.

Face it, whether you resign or not, your political career is over. So why not do the right thing and spare your state and party the embarrassment of having a closet racist in the governor's mansion of a valuable swing state going into a presidential election? There is an African American lieutenant governor by the name of Justin Fairfax who is more than qualified to do your job. You can begin your road to redemption by stepping down and turning over the reigns of power to him right now. And with February being black history month, it could be the last decent thing you end up doing in office.

And to Democrats, regardless of what Ralph Northam does or doesn't do, this episode underscores the need for every politician running for president in 2020 to do thorough opposition research on themselves to make sure there aren't any skeletons in the closet that could pop out. Because, trust me, they will. This isn't the '50s and '60s anymore. JFK may have slept with Marylin Monroe and no one cared. That world is long gone. Today, every misstep, every indiscretion, no matter the severity, can find itself on the front page of The Washington Post.

It is not enough for Democrats to say they hold the moral high ground against Donald Trump. They will have to prove it. And the best way they can do that is to have a zero tolerance for anyone in their party who crosses the line and engages in unacceptable conduct. Ever since Watergate, politicians have lost the benefit of the doubt with the electorate. Now in the MeToo era, the electorate's ability to forgive and forget is somewhere between zero and point one.

I know what you're thinking: Trump bragged about grabbing women's genitalia, cheated on all three of his wives and paid off two women to keep quiet over affairs he had with them on his way to winning the presidency. Why should Democrats be forced to behave like Mr. and Mrs. Clean when Trump was rewarded for behaving like a scumbag?

That is certainly a valid question, and one I'm sure political science students will be studying for decades to come, but as they used to say in Manhattan, that and a subway token will get you a ride on the 7th Avenue Express. Like it or not, Trump appears to have created an alternate reality in which there are two sets of rules: one for him and one for everyone else. While he lowers the bar to such a degree that he can virtually step over it, his opponents have to pole vault over theirs. No, it isn't fair, but unfortunately, it's a reality that Democrats will have to accept if they hope to win the White House next year.

As strange as it may seem, Ralph Northam may have done Democrats a huge favor. His response to this self-inflicted wound should serve as a wakeup call to all of them. The type of collateral damage that past candidates have suffered and in many instances survived will no longer be tolerated.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Here's the Challenge for Howard Schultz

So Howard Schultz is considering running for president as an independent. How nice. I'll let the Trump 2020 campaign know so they can stop collecting donations now and prepare for another stroll down Pennsylvania Avenue. Seriously, if this is true and Schultz actually runs as an independent, you can kiss goodbye any hope the civilized world has of evicting the Dark Lord of the Sith from the White House.

The simple truth is that in the entire history of the Republic there has never been a successful third party candidate who has won the presidency. In fact, you have to go all the way back to George Wallace in 1968 to find a third party candidate who actually managed to pick up a few states. Teddy Roosevelt came the closest when he challenged Republican Howard Taft in 1912, coming in second place, yet still losing.

For those not familiar, Roosevelt was furious at Taft for abandoning the progressives values he had championed as the former Republican president. However, far from winning, all Roosevelt accomplished was delivering the White House for the Democrat, Woodrow Wilson. That's because he split the Republican vote.

Third party candidates historically cost the party they are more aligned with the election. The lone exception appears to be the '68 election, in which Wallace, who ran as a segregationist, actually hurt the Democrat, Hubert Humphrey more than the Republican, Richard Nixon, even though Nixon deployed what some have referred to as the Southern strategy, designed to provoke anxious white voters into voting Republican. I should point out that there are historians who think it was the other way around. That what really happened was Wallace took away votes from Nixon and made what other wise would've been a rout into it a relatively competitive election for Humphrey. They could be right. It is doubtful that a liberal like Humphrey would've won any of the five southern states Wallace captured.

The two most recent examples of third party candidates who inadvertently tipped the election are Ross Perot in 1992 and Ralph Nader in 2000. Perot was the business tycoon who siphoned off votes from Republican George H.W. Bush and allowed Bill Clinton to win the presidency with less than 50 percent of the vote; and Nader was the consumer advocate who kept Democrat Al Gore from winning Florida, thus saddling the nation with the likes of George W. Bush. Neither candidate had a realistic chance of winning, yet both effectively became spoilers in their respective races; their legacies forever enshrined in the annals of history. Schultz' legacy, if he chooses to run, will be no different.

Schultz's rationale for running is based on his claim, often repeated by pollsters, that 40 percent of the electorate identifies as independent and is therefore winnable. Additionally, he says, neither party seems all that concerned about solving the problems that beset the country and are more interested in what he described as "revenge politics."

While I will stipulate that the hyper-partisanship that grips Washington often does culminate in something akin to revenge politics, one party is clearly far more responsible for the polarization that has so turned off the electorate. And that party is now completely under the control of Trump. Removing him should be goal number one for any candidate who cares about the country.

But when it comes to independents, Schultz makes the same mistake Bernie Sanders made all throughout the 2016 campaign. Sanders kept insisting that the throngs of supporters who were showing up at his rallies were independents. In fact, the people who were showing up were disaffected Democrats who felt the party wasn't progressive enough.

The fact is the term independent has undergone something of a metamorphosis over the last couple of decades. Back in the day, an independent was someone who was moderate in their political views. They tended to be either center right or center left. This is where we got the terms Reagan Democrat and Clinton Republican from. Basically, they were one in the same. Nowadays, independents fall primarily into two groups: far left and far right. They are far more extreme in their thinking and tend to reject any candidate they feel isn't pure enough to earn their vote. It is doubtful, given the current political landscape, that there's more than 15 percent of the electorate that would describe itself as moderate. Even if Schultz were to run the table with that group, at best he'd be nothing more than the next Ross Perot: another billionaire with his thumb on the political scale who couldn't close the deal.

If Howard Schultz really wants to beat Trump, his best bet would be to run as a Democrat. If he's concerned that the party is drifting too far to the left, the way to pull it closer to the center is for him and other moderates like Michael Bloomberg to jump in the ring. Indeed, Democrats would be strengthened by having an open and honest debate about which vision would be more effective in a general election.

Prior to 2016, the GOP was a pro-free trade party whose stars were Paul Ryan and Ted Cruz. Then Donald Trump came along and turned things completely upside down. Today, Republicans sing the praises of protectionism and tariffs and Trump's hold on the party is complete. What that proves is that political parties can be transformed with the right candidate.

Over the last six decades the Democratic Party has come full circle from the Great Society days of Lyndon Johnson to the more centrist days of Bill Clinton back to a more liberal ideology today. There are more than just a few pundits who feel such an ideology in a general election is a weak hand. Even if Schultz doesn't win the nomination, his presence on a stage with other Democrats could influence the party platform. Just as Bernie pushed Hillary to the left, Schultz could push the eventual nominee to the right.

That's the challenge for Shultz: to be a team player instead of a lone wolf. Many of his positions are reasonable and would be attractive to voters in 2020. But the only way those positions will ever see the light of day is if they are part of a comprehensive and inclusive platform of a national party that has a reasonable chance of winning an election.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

The Biggest Tragedy of the Shutdown Had Nothing To Do With a Wall

When all was said and done the biggest tragedy of the shutdown had nothing to with Trump's wall, or the revelation that, once more, Washington proved it couldn't govern. No, a monument to bigotry and a dysfunctional government, as sad as that might be, played second fiddle to the real problem that the shutdown unmasked, and that is the heartbreaking stories of federal workers who were unable to go even a month without getting paid and had to resort to going to food banks just to eat.

If you think this is just a public sector problem, you're wrong. It affects the majority of the American workforce. As of 2017, according to a report published by CNBC, 78 percent of full-time workers lived paycheck to paycheck. That was up 3 percent from 2016. Another report, this one from Bankrate, said that only 39 percent of Americans would be able to pay an out of pocket medical expense of $1,000. The rest would either have to forgo the procedure, use a credit card, take out a personal loan or borrow the money from a relative or friend. Imagine not having enough savings to cover a thousand dollar medical bill.

But that's precisely the plight most Americans find themselves in. The tragedy of the 2018-19 government shutdown is that it revealed just how close to the edge millions of people are. Part of the problem is the high cost of living, but the rest is owed directly to a shrinking middle class. In 1971, middle-income earners comprised 61 percent of the workforce; in 2015, it was barely 50 percent.

And that middle class is enjoying less and less of the fruits of this economy. While the United States controls 41 percent of the world's wealth, it also has the largest percentage of wealth inequality of any industrialized country. As of 2014, the top 1 percent owned 40 percent of the nation's wealth, while the bottom 80 percent owned only 7 percent. The gap between the middle class and the top 1 percent was 2,000 percent. The average American employee needs to work more than a month to earn what the typical CEO earns in a day.

If Democrats are looking for an issue to run on in 2020 that will resonate with voters, this is it.  Hatred for Trump may gin up the base, but a far more effective strategy would be to focus on providing solutions for the millions of people who week in and week out know all too well what it's like to come face to face with financial ruin. Imagine what it must be like to literally be a month away from possibly being homeless.

That the richest country in the world should permit the majority of its citizens to live like this is an obscenity. Neither party has taken this problem seriously. Republicans have focused mainly on huge tax breaks for the rich that have only made a bad situation worse and added more than a trillion dollars to the debt. But Democrats have not done nearly enough to come to the table with solutions that can mitigate the disparity among the classes.

Perhaps Elizabeth Warren could become the candidate to champion this cause - assuming, that is, Bernie doesn't make another run - but so far she has been more concerned with regulating Wall Street and the banks than addressing income equality. And while many in the party favor raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, that will do little to help struggling families get ahead. Many of the federal workers who were victims of the shutdown make $20 or more an hour and still were up a creek once they missed a paycheck.

Until and unless we have a real conversation about what it means to be middle class in this country, I doubt we'll be able to address the problems with this shrinking demographic. One thing we do know: Trump's success was due in no small part to the belief by blue-collar workers that he would have their backs. Obviously, like most of his promises, that turned out to be a con. But those blue-collar workers are still out there and they're still hurting. This used to be a reliably Democratic voter bloc. If they hope to win it back, they will have to work for it.

Every cloud has a silver lining. Thanks to the storm Trump inadvertently created, Democrats may have been given the silver lining of a lifetime.

Friday, January 25, 2019

No Wall, Just A Cave

Make no mistake about what happened here. Donald Trump got his ass kicked. Period! And the person who administered the ass kicking was none other than Nancy Pelosi. For 35 days, Trump huffed and he puffed and he shut down the government trying to extort $5.7 billion for his wall; a wall he promised Mexico would pay for. And Pelosi said no.

He tried temper tantrums; that didn't work. He tried dangling a temporary fix for dreamers; that didn't work. He took away Pelosi's traveling privileges; she took away his State of the Union address. The man who has made a living getting his way by bullying his opponents, not only didn't get his way, he now knows his principle protagonist isn't remotely intimidated by him and, even worse for him, isn't going anywhere.

This wasn't just a cave; it was a cowering. The great deal maker negotiated himself into a corner with no exit strategy. He needlessly dragged this country through five weeks of hell, threw members of his own party under the bus - including the current majority leader of the Senate and recent inductee into the witness protection program, Mitch McConnell - and recklessly brought pain and suffering into the lives of eight hundred thousand government employees, all to appease the likes of Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh.

In the end, the reality TV president came face to face with reality. He was forced to sign a three week continuing resolution to reopen the government without one cent for his pitiful wall; the same CR, mind you, he could've signed back in December. It's bad enough coming up empty handed, but taking five weeks to get there is the very definition of adding insult to injury.

Clearly Trump is not accustomed to being told no, especially by a strong woman like Pelosi. And it's driving him up the, you'll pardon the pun, wall. It's time to admit the obvious: all the Debbie Downers out there like me who were publicly questioning whether it was time for Democrats to find a new, younger leader were dead wrong. Three weeks into the new session, Pelosi has been nothing short of brilliant. She hasn't just vanquished her political foes, she's served notice to this president. If you're going to behave like a child, you're going to be treated like one.

The difference between Trump and Pelosi could not be clearer. The former is reactive, relying mainly on his instincts, which are typically wrong; the latter might be the most strategic Speaker we've had in over a generation. While Trump leaps before he looks, Pelosi is always thinking two or three moves ahead. It's like watching someone who's only played checkers try their hand at chess. Trump is so out of his league you almost feel sorry for the bastard. ALMOST!

Not only doesn't Trump have any leverage over Pelosi, thanks to this stunt of his, he may very well have lost a good chunk of the leverage he had over his own party. Did you notice that right after he capitulated at his presser in the Rose Garden he tweeted he might shut down the government again in three weeks if he doesn't get his wall funding? You can take this to the bank: there's no way in hell McConnell is going to let that happen. We are done for the foreseeable future with Lord Fauntleroy burning down the village. If it's a wall he wants, he can build it with Legos.

For now, Trump's biggest problem might be with his base. After swearing up and down that he wasn't going to end the shutdown without funding for his wall, old blood and guts came off looking like the pussy he usually grabs. Ann Coulter lit him up on Twitter. Sean Hannity, who's so far up Trump's ass it would take the jaws of life to pry him free, did his best to defend him on his radio program, but to no avail. You can take the tiki torches away from the Hitler Youth, but you can't take away their rage. And rage is the fuel that drives Trumpism. Let's be honest here: the one thing this president can't afford to lose is his base. They're the reason he beat Hillary in 2016 and they're the only chance he has of winning reelection in 2020. Without that 30 to 35 percent of the population - yes, God help me, it's that large - he's finished and he knows it.

And that's why I'm worried he might do something even more stupid than shut down the government. He could start a war. Did you notice his recent comments about Venezuela? For a man who campaigned about not getting entangled in foreign conflicts and who probably can't locate Venezuela on a map, don't be surprised if in a couple of weeks - right about the time McConnell informs him he isn't getting his fucking wall - we end up invading that country. With Robert Mueller closing in on his family, he desperately needs a large distraction. A war would certainly suffice.

I tell you we are dealing with man who is not stable. A narcissist with no moral compass, incapable of feeling empathy and possessing all the impulse control of a four year old. Those are the character traits one would expect to find in a patient residing in a mental ward. Unfortunately for us and the world, he resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

A Temporary Fix Is No Fix At All

The Washington Post's editorial board says that Democrats should accept Donald Trump's offer to grant a three year extension of protection for Dreamers, which would also include TPS (temporary protected status) immigrants, in exchange for giving him $5.7 billion for his border wall. They write,
These are the dreamers, hundreds of thousands of young people who have played by the rules, studied, worked, made lives in this country. They are American in every way but in the eyes of the law, having been brought here as children — as first-graders, on average. Thanks to a dispensation from President Barack Obama, many of them have come out of the legal shadows and are contributing to this country. If no deal is reached, the Supreme Court is likely at some point to end that dispensation, as Mr. Trump has demanded, and they will be sent back into the shadows, or to countries of which they have no memory.
Much as I agree with that sentiment - who couldn't? - giving this president a permanent monument to his bigotry for what amounts to a temporary fix to a problem that has plagued the country for decades is not a solution. It only delays by three years the plight these people have had to live with since their parents brought them here as children. In the ghastly event of Trump winning a second term, we will simply be right back where we started come 2022. What concessions then will he try to extort from Democrats to do the civilized thing?

But rather than flat out reject the offer, I believe the smart play for Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer is to up the ante on Trump. You want your funding? Fine, we'll give you $2.5 billion - not $5.7 - in exchange for a permanent DACA and TPS fix. And the government is reopened, not for two months, but for the balance of the fiscal year. Oh, and throw in raising the debt ceiling through the rest of the year.

Tell Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh to go, well, whatever it is those two do to each other when the rest of us aren't looking. If Trump doesn't agree, the government stays shut and he alone gets the blame, along with this month's MIA candidate, Mitch McConnell. Even old turtle face will have a difficult time backing this president on his suicide mission.

David Frum of The Atlantic, I think, had the best take on Trump's "offer."
The shutdown was a demand for unconditional surrender. Unfortunately for him, the president lacks the political realism to recognize that he doesn’t have the clout to impose that surrender. He’s the one who will now have to climb down, and very soon, probably within days.
Negotiation is always prudent, but in order to negotiate there needs to be two willing partners. So far, we have a president who thinks the federal government is an extension of his organization and a newly Democratic House majority which begs to differ.