Sunday, January 15, 2017

Will Trump-- Should Trump-- Ever Get Out From Under The Cloud Of Illegitimacy?

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What does Putin want? He has some very legitimate gripes with Western policy-- especially the way NATO has moved to encircle Russia. Russians are historically touchy about that-- and for good reason. "The West" killed 11 million Russian soldiers and between 7 million and 20 million civilians during World War II. (In comparison, the U.S. lost around 400,000 soldiers in that war.) Weakening the EU and destroying a hostile NATO certainly appears to be in Russia's national interest, irrespective of Putin's penchant for kleptocracy and tyranny.

Putin would be remiss in his job if he weren't supporting right-wing nationalist movements in the West that seek to undermine the EU and NATO. That includes Señor Trumpanzee. And it's working out better than Putin could have ever imagined it would. Over the weekend, Alex Barker, reporting from Brussels for the Financial Times noted that, according to the US ambassador to the EU, members of the Trumpanzee transition team (TTT) have called EU leaders to ask "what country is to leave next" with a tone suggesting the union "is falling apart" this year.
In a pugnacious parting press conference, Anthony Gardner warned of "fringe" voices such as Nigel Farage, the former UK Independence party leader, holding influence in Washington over Mr Trump's team.

Speaking days before leaving office, Mr Gardner said it would be "lunacy" and "the height of folly" for the US to ditch half a century of foreign policy in order to support further EU fragmentation or become a "Brexit cheerleader" in Brussels.

"I was struck in various calls that were going on between the incoming administration and the EU that the first question is: what country is about to leave next after the UK?" he said.

The perceived sense is that 2017 is the year in which the EU is going to fall apart. And I hope that Nigel Farage is not the only voice being listened to because that is a fringe voice... He argued that the next administration needed to be told plainly that the EU "was not falling apart" and was in fact finding more sense of purpose in the wake of Brexit.
Trumpanzee was firmly rebuffed when he tried to strong-arm the British government into naming his neo-fascist crony, Farage, ambassador.


All that said, we still don't have any way of knowing for sure the extent of interference by the Russians in placing Trump into the White House. The Russian and American intelligence services aren't exactly known for veracity or integrity. The Christopher Steele story and his golden showers dossier is still fascinating, regardless of what you believe about it. On Saturday, The Independent revealed the FBI's role in this sordid affair. Steele is a former MI6 agent-- a kind of James Bond character-- who was freaking out about what he claims to have found between Trump and the Russians. He sent his information to both the U.S. and U.K. intelligence services "after concluding that such material should not just be in the hands of political opponents of Mr Trump, who had hired his services, but was a matter of national security for both countries." It looks like Giuliani and his cronies at the FBI were able to keep the information off the Bureau's front burner.
Steele became increasingly frustrated that the FBI was failing to take action on the intelligence from others as well as him. He [and a colleague, a former Wall Street Journal reporter named Glenn Simpson,] came to believe there was a cover-up, that a cabal within the Bureau blocked a thorough inquiry into Mr Trump, focusing instead on the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.

...[In July] Steele produced a memo, which went to the  FBI, stating that Mr Trump’s campaign team had agreed to a Russian request to dilute attention on Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine. Four days later Mr Trump stated that he would recognise Moscow’s annexation of Crimea. A month later officials involved in his campaign asked the Republican party’s election platform to remove a pledge for military assistance to the Ukrainian government against separatist rebels in the east of the country.

Mr Steele claimed that the Trump campaign was taking this path because it was aware that the Russians were hacking Democratic Party emails. No evidence of this has been made public, but the same day that Mr Trump spoke about Crimea he called on the Kremlin to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails.

By late July and early August MI6 was also receiving information about Mr Trump. By September, information to the FBI began to grow in volume: Mr Steele compiled a set of his memos into one document and passed it to his contacts at the FBI. But there seemed to be little progress in a proper inquiry into Mr Trump. The Bureau, instead, seemed to be devoting their resources in the pursuit of Hillary Clinton’s email transgressions.

The New York office, in particular, appeared to be on a crusade against Ms Clinton. Some of its agents had a long working relationship with Rudy Giuliani, by then a member of the Trump campaign, since his days as public prosecutor and then Mayor of the city.

As the election approached, FBI director James Comey made public his bombshell letter saying that Ms Clinton would face another email investigation. Two days before that Mr Giuliani, then a part of the Trump team, talked about “a surprise or two you’re going to hear about in the next few days. We’ve got a couple of things up our sleeve that should turn things around.”

After the letter was published Mr Giuliani claimed he had heard from current and former agents that “there’s a kind of revolution going on inside the FBI” over the original decision not to charge Ms Clinton and that Mr Comey had been forced by some of his agents to announce the reinvestigation. Democrats demanded an investigation into how Mr Giuliani acquired this knowledge without getting an answer.

In October a frustrated and demoralised Mr Steele, while on a trip to New York, spoke about what he has discovered to David Corn, the Washington editor of the magazine Mother Jones. There was a little flurry of interest that quickly died down.


Mr Trump’s surprise election victory came and the Democrat employers of Mr Steele and Mr Johnson no longer needed them. But the pair continued with their work, hopeful that the wider investigation into Russian hacking in the US would allow the Trump material to be properly examined.

It was against this background that Senator John McCain, who had been hearing with growing alarm reports about Mr Trump and the Kremlin, met Sir Andrew Wood, a former British ambassador to Moscow, who had spent 10 years in Russia and is highly respected for his knowledge of Russian affairs, at a security conference in Halifax, Canada.

Sir Andrew stressed to Senator McCain that he had not read the dossier, but vouched for Mr Steele’s professionalism and integrity. The chair of the Senate Armed Forces Committee then sent an emissary to London who picked up the dossier from an intermediary acting on behalf of Mr Steele. The Senator personally took the material to Mr Comey.

Mr Trump and Barack Obama were briefed about the allegations as part of a report into Russian hacking a week ago. Mr Trump remained silent about them until they were published this week and then he angrily denounced them as lies. His spokesperson said he could not recall the briefing.

Mr Steele is now in hiding, under attack from some Tory MPs for supposedly trying to ruin the chances of Theresa May’s Government building a fruitful relationship with the Trump administration. Some of them accuse him of being part of an anti-Brexit conspiracy. A right-wing tabloid has “outed” him as being a “confirmed socialist” while at university.
I wonder how closely Giuliani will be questioned by the various investigatory bodies that are getting ready to take on the task of getting to the bottom of all this. No waterboarding, right?


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Culture Watch: End of the line for THE circus -- bye-bye, Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey

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-- from ringling.com, the company website


So what do you suppose the new administration plans to do to Save Our Circus and Make the Circus Great Again?-- Ken


Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus to End Its 146-Year Run

By CHRISTOPHER MELE | JAN. 14, 2017



Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus announced on Saturday night that after 146 years of performances, it was folding its big tent forever.

In a statement on the company’s website, Kenneth Feld, the chief executive of Feld Entertainment, the producer of Ringling, said the circus would hold its final performances in May. He cited declining ticket sales, which dropped even more drastically after elephants were phased out from the shows last year.
“This, coupled with high operating costs, made the circus an unsustainable business for the company,” the statement said. “The circus and its people have continually been a source of inspiration and joy to my family and me.”

Stephen Payne, a spokesman for Feld Entertainment, said in an interview on Saturday night that the closing would affect about 400 cast and crew members.

“We looked at the performance in 2016 and advance tickets sales in 2017, and we decided it was not a viable business model,” he said.

The company informed employees Saturday night after shows in Orlando, Fla., and Miami.

“There isn’t any one thing,” Mr. Feld told The Associated Press. “This has been a very difficult decision for me and for the entire family.”

Ringling has two touring circuses this season and will perform 30 shows between now and May. Major stops include Atlanta, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington. The final shows will be on May 7 in Providence, R.I., and on May 21 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.

The final appearance of the circus in New York City will be from Feb. 23 to March 23 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

An estimated 10 million people go to a Ringling circus each year.

Mr. Feld told The A.P. that transporting the show by rail and other circus quirks — such as providing a traveling school for performers’ children — are throwbacks to another era. “It’s a different model that we can’t see how it works in today’s world to justify and maintain an affordable ticket price.”
The Feld family bought Ringling in 1967.

Ringling has been targeted by activists who say forcing animals to perform is cruel and unnecessary, leading to the removal of the elephants, among the most popular features of the performances. The company sent its animals to live on a conservation farm in Florida.

On Twitter on Saturday night, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which campaigned for the elephants’ removal, heralded what it called “the end of the saddest show on earth.” . . .
Read the full story, with links, onsite.
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Comrade Trump: Inauguration Entertainment Update!

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2016 In Review: America Off The Rails, Part 11

(With UPDATE to the Update: Breaking news
from The Borowitz Report -- see below)



Who says there won't be big stars at the Trump Inauguration? Why, the B Street Band will be there -- does it get bigger than that?

by Noah

As soon as Comrade Trumpinsky won the 2016 election, speculation began as to who or what would be performing at the January 20 Inauguration ceremonies. Surely, the A-listers would come begging His Not So Excellency for a spot on the stage and a chance to wow the zombies, white supremacists, Russian diplomats, and fascist oligarchs, wouldn't they?

His Not So Excellency dreamed of basking in the golden glow of A-lister love: Elton John, Garth Brooks, the Beach Boys. Maybe his buddy Chris Christie could land Bruce Springsteen! Well, only if people would stop calling Springsteen "The Boss," because, you know, there can only be one boss.

Trumpie dreamed of matching President Obama's cavalcade of stars, which included Springsteen, Beyoncé, Stevie Wonder, and James Taylor, and that was just for starters.


Pete Seeger was 89 when he and Bruce Springsteen roused the crowd with "This Land Is Your Land" at the 2009 "We Are One" Obama Inaugural Concert. Pete died in 2014. The Boss won't be at the Trump Inaugural either.

That, folks, was never going to happen; not after His Not So Excellency made it clear where he stands on humanity itself.

Back on December 29, I posted about the troubles the President-elect's transition committee was having finding people who wanted to support the various manifestations of hate and treason being exhibited by the new President and his Republican Party.

Elton turned him down. So did Garth. Springsteen? Not a chance. Andrea Bocelli? Uh, no. The Radio City Rockettes? It turns out some have decided to perform and some have not. So far, there is no word as to whether the new President will try to get into their dressing room. They may be a little older than what he likes anyway.

SO WHO'S IN?


Yeah, Ted Nugent'll be on hand -- guns a-blazing?

Well, I know that as soon as those "golden showers" stories started circulating, some people thought R. Kelly might get an invite. (You can look it up yourself. If you're inclined, you could google R. Kelly Chappelle and go from there. Just don't say I didn't warn ya.) But if he did, we'll never know now. Maybe when Trumpinsky had Kanye West over to his golden palace of greed, he had him confused with R. Kelly. Anyway, as the saying goes, "What goes on in Trump Tower stays in Trump Tower." Why else would he refuse the Secret Service guards and replace them with his own private security force?


3 Doors Down will be strutting their brand of, er, "alternative" rock.

As I write this, it looks like, as I said, some of the aforementioned Rockettes (hopefully more than two, since it just wouldn't look all that swell), Ted Nugent (presumably invited because he has called for the killing of Democratic leaders), Kid Rock, Toby Keith, Lee Greenwood, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (also minus a few members), a rock band named 3 Doors Down, who call themselves alternative rock, although alternative to what is hard to discern by listening to their paint-by-numbers Muzak. You can be forgiven if this list reads to you like something from a planet that's stuck in a 1959 time warp. Look at it this way: At least Trumpinsky didn't have to ask his friend Putin to send over some Russian dancing bears.

Best of all -- and believe it, this is real, I am not putting you on -- since they couldn't get Springsteen, the Trumpies got a Springsteen "tribute" band called the B Street Band. As Mr. DT himself would say: Sad, losers! The mind boggles. I wonder if they think that 3 Doors Down is a Doors "tribute" band.


Oh, and I forgot to mention 16-year-old former America's Got Talent runner-up Jackie Evancho. She, unlike most of the performers mentioned in the previous paragraph, actually does sell records, lots of ‘em; DVDs too. She's no has-been. She's current. Sez Evancho, "I hope to just kind of make everyone forget about rivals and politics for a second and just think about America and the pretty song that I'm singing."

Ah, the naïveté of youth! Good luck with that, Jackie! You see, the reason so many other stars are not performing is that they are thinking about America.

In keeping with what the new President is all about, this whole thing gets plenty creepy, too. Golden-boy financial whiz Tom Barrack, who is chairing the entertainment committee, is describing his event as having "soft sensuality" rather than stars. I'm not sure if by "soft sensuality" he means Ted Nugent or Jackie Evancho. I'd rather not know.


Yessir, that's entertainment!


UPDATE
BREAKING NEWS FROM THE BOROWITZ REPORT

This just in --


WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) -- Donald J. Trump’s plans for a triumphal Inauguration were upended over the weekend when a karaoke machine that had been engaged to perform at the event abruptly backed out.

In an official statement, the karaoke machine said that it was withdrawing because it “did not want my participation at the Inauguration to in any way be construed as an endorsement of Donald Trump.”

The President-elect wasted no time in lashing out at the karaoke machine, taking to Twitter in the early hours of the morning to call the entertainment device a “loser” and “sad.”

But Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s adviser, attempted to minimize the machine’s departure in an appearance on Fox News. “Naturally, we’re disappointed in the karaoke machine’s decision, but we still have Jackie Evancho,” she said.

2016 IN REVIEW: AMERICA OFF THE RAILS

No, he's not done yet, but here's Noah's annual Year in Review thus far:

Part 1, "Profiles in Cowardice: The Electoral College" (12/23/2016)
Part 2, "Republican Of The Year Nominee #1: Newt Gingrich" (12/27/2016)
Part 3, "The Trumpf Inauguration Committee Finds The Perfect Inauguration Entertainment At Last!" (12/29/2016)
Part 4, "Republican Of The Year Nominee #2: R-R-Reince Priebus" (1/2/2017)
Part 5, "Comrade Trump: The World’s Worst Cabinet Maker, Believe Me -- Meet The New Russian Oligarchs! (1)" (1/4/2017)
Part 6, "Comrade Trump: The World’s Worst Cabinet Maker, Believe Me -- Meet The New Russian Oligarchs! (2)" (1/5/2017)
Part 7, "Republican Of The Year Nominee #3: Governors' Edition" (1/9/2017)
Part 8, "Trump -- The Art And Acts Of The Emboldened: The Rise In Hate Crimes Under The Influence Of Comrade T" (1/10/2017)
Part 9, "Republican Of The Year Nominee #4: It's A Sad Thing When Cousins Marry Edition" (1/11/2017)
Part 10, "Republican Person Of The Year Nominee #5 -- And Winner!" (1/12/2017)
Part 11, "Comrade Trump: Inauguration Entertainment Update!" (today)
Part 12, "A Down With Tyranny Exclusive: We Have The First Draft Of Comrade Trump’s Inauguration Speech!" (coming soon)
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Resistance In The Age Of Trump

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A few days ago I flew back from Beijing on Air China and they had a very limited English-language movie library for the 11 hour flight. I watched Roman Polanski's award-winning 2002 film with Andien Brody, The Pianist, and a less well-known new movie set in Prague, Anthropoid. Both films dealt with the resistance to the Nazis. There was an especially chilling moment in The Pianist in which 3 middle-aged Jewish men are about to be loaded on a train for the Treblinka concentration camp. One says the Jews shouldn't just march to their deaths without a fight and an argument ensues about practicalities and difficulties in mounting such an operation. They and their families all die in the camp, although eventually the Warsaw Ghetto does organize and rise up against the German deplorables. Anthropoid is about how Czech nationalists murder the Butcher of Prague, SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, the 3rd-ranking Nazi, a Steve Bannon-like character.



A few weeks ago Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) kicked off a kind of symbolic resistance to Trump when he announced he wouldn't be attending the inauguration. "I really don't feel comfortable standing next to a man as he swears allegiance to this country and president of the United States of America, after he said that Mexicans are murderers, rapists, drug dealers and that that's all we are. I just can't un-hear the despicable, terrible things he said about women, about Muslims, so I won't be standing... When I went to George Bush’s inauguration I didn’t feel he was a threat to my presence in America, to my daughter's presence in America. I want to look at my girls in the face and say, I didn't normalize that kind of speech."

Katherine Clark (D-MA) soon followed and now there are over a dozen members of Congress who have publicly stated that they are not going to be at the inauguration, most notably, civil rights icon John Lewis, who told Meet the Press why he doesn't see Trump as a legitimate president. (Trump struck back yesterday morning by claiming Atlanta is "in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested)" and accusing John Lewis of being "all talk, talk, talk-- no action or results." When John Lewis was on the front lines of the civil rights movement, getting his head bashed in by a KKK thug (like Trump's father), Trump was beginning his criminal behavior of systematically denying housing to prospective tenants based on race.

As progressives, we must resist. We must prepare ourselves for the sacrifices it will take to rescue out country from the gaping maw of fascism it's fallen into. A dozen or so courageous congressmen and congresswomen boycotting the Trump inauguration this week is a symbolic step in that direction. Blue America wants to offer our members an opportunity to show the participants that we support them. Please consider making a symbolic contribution to the reelection campaigns of the members who are taking an early stand against Trumpism.

Two weeks ago, Congresswoman Clark told her constituents that she "had hoped the President-elect would use the transition period and his appointments to change course and fulfill his promise to be a President for all Americans; however, this has not been the case. After discussions with hundreds of my constituents, I do not feel that I can contribute to the normalization of the President-elect’s divisive rhetoric by participating in the Inauguration."

Similarly, Earl Blumenauer told Oregon Public Broadcasting that "Here is a person who ran a campaign that is the antithesis of everything I’ve worked for in public service" and that that attending "not a productive use of my time."




This morning stalwart progressive champion Mark Pocan (D-WI) let me know that he had intended to go to the inauguration but the way Trump lit into John Lewis, among other things, made him reconsider and that he's changed his plans and won't be going. He requested that we not raise money for him on this though, so he's not on our fundraising page. As we published, two more Democratic congressmembers announced they're staying away: Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Marcia Fudge (D-OH). In any case, the list of members not going keeps growing. We're keeping a running tally at the thermometer:
Goal Thermometer

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Several Freshman Have Already Proven Themselves To Be Part Of The Republican Wing Of The Democratic Party

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Now that the roll call votes are coming fast and furious, the freshmen are beginning to sort themselves out. The new Republicans in Congress are pretty much all cut from the same clothe-- a hopeless mess, barely worth mentioning or thinking about. But what we're seeing on the Democratic side of the aisle is that some freshmen are embracing Democratic values and principles and others are more comfortable slipping into the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. You can't make a judgement like this from one of two votes but there are already patterns emerging after just two weeks of the 115th Congress.

Friday there was a vote to grant Trump's Defense Secretary, Mad Dog Mattis, a waiver to serve as Defense Secretary, despite Justin Amash, a libertarian-leaning Republican from Michigan, describing the waiver as a violation of the rule of law. 150 Democrats (+ Amash) voted against the waiver. 36 Democrats crossed the aisle for Mad Dog, mostly New Dems and Blue Dogs, and including these half dozen freshmen:
Lou Correa (CA)
Charlie Crist (FL)
Josh Gottheimer (NJ)
Tom O'Halleran (AZ)
Jimmy Panetta (CA)
Tom Suozzi (NY)
Two of them-- Crist and O'Halleran-- aren't even Democrats at all, but opportunistic Republicans who were recruited by an insidious and desperate DCCC. Lou Correa's record in the California legislature clearly predicted he would be among the worst Democrats in Washington, just as he always was in Sacramento. And Gottheimer... this clown has already clearly marked out his territory as the corrupt Wall Street whore who will give Lou Correa a run for his money as to who will be the worst Democrat in the Class of 2016. And that, of course, brings us to the Wall Street votes. The Republicans and a handful of Wall Street-bribed Democrats are determined to roll back Dodd-Frank and the voting on the chipping away of its regulations has begun. There were two such votes on Thursday, one for Ann Wagner's SEC Regulatory Accountability Act and one for Michael Conaway's Commodity End-User Relief Act. Only 9 Democrats voted for the first (including 3 freshmen-- Gottheimer, Suozzi and Nevada conservaDem Jacky Rosen-- and only 7 for there second-- including freshmen Gottheimer and Suozzi.

Right from the very beginning of the 115th Congress, the Republicans began by passing some rules to, among other things, wipe out executive orders President Obama had put in place to protect consumers, workers and the environment. Only the 3 most heinous Blue Dogs in Congress-- Kyrsten Sinema, Collin Peterson and Henry Cuellar voted with the GOP... plus one freshman: Josh Gottheimer. Another one of these anti-regulatory bills the GOP loves so much, this one from Bob Goodlatte, H.R. 5, passed with 5 Blue Dogs voting with the GOP, including one freshman Blue Dog, Stephanie Murphy from the Orlando area.


Meanwhile, we can see some progressive rising stars developing as well, organizers and leaders who we will be able to count on to help resist Trumpism rather than collaborate with it, first and foremost Pramila Jayapal (WA)-- as far as I know, the only freshman staying away from the glamor of the inauguration-- and Jamie Raskin (MD). Both had clear records of progressive leadership and accomplishment in their respective state legislatures, so it was no surprise when they got to Washington and started blazing a courageous progressive trail there. Another freshman who is already taking strong, principled stands was less predictable, Ro Khanna, from the Silicon Valley seat that Mike Honda occupied for so many years.

I was surprised when Honda, who Khanna defeated, asked his allies and supporters to have an open mind towards Khanna and watch him in action. We took that seriously and have been rewarded by discovering someone who seems determined to do the right thing for his constituents and for the resistance. Yesterday, he told me he was dismayed about how so many New Dems were breaking ranks and backing conservative objectives that fly in the face of Democratic values and principles and denigrate the legitimate interests of working families. "Democrats," he told me, "need to speak with one voice. It's wrong for the New Dem Caucus to have their own negotiations with Paul Ryan. We cannot let Republicans use a divide and conquer strategy. We need to be unified under Nancy Pelosi's leadership to oppose any efforts at repeal and let our leaders negotiate without cutting side deals."

And sure enough, when John Yarmuth's budget proposal came up for a vote Friday as part of the debate over repealing the Affordable Care Act, 37 conservaDems from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- primarily New Dems and Blue Dogs-- crossed the aisle and voted with Paul Ryan. Those 37 included 9 freshmen, mostly the by-now usual suspects:
Lou Correa (CA)
Charlie Crist (FL)
Josh Gottheimer (NJ)
Stephanie Murphy (FL)
Tom O'Halleran (AZ)
Jacky Rosen (NV)
Brad Schneider (IL)
Darren Soto (FL)
Tom Suozzi (NY)
These are the ones we'll have to keep a close eye on going forward, the ones who may earn primaries in 2018.

Darren Soto was a bad state legislator-- and he's proving himself to be a bad congressman as well

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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Not Everyone Hates The Republicans-- The Big Silicon Valley Firms Are Selling Out

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You probably saw the new Gallup poll from yesterday showing how badly Trumpanzee is tanking with Americans watching his daily antics during the transition. Independents are sickened by him already and the majority of Americans disapprove of his transition efforts.
Trump's 48% transition approval rating in December was already the lowest for any presidential transition Gallup has measured, starting with Bill Clinton's in 1992-1993. Trump's current rating only further separates him from his predecessors -- particularly Barack Obama, who earned 83% approval for his handling of the transition process in January 2009, up from 75% in mid-December 2008... Americans view Trump's Cabinet as worse than the Cabinets chosen by Obama, Bush and Clinton... The chief differentiator for Trump is that many more Americans rate his appointments as "below average" or "poor": 44% say this about Trump's Cabinet choices, compared with 13% for Bush's, 12% for Clinton's and 10% for Obama's.


But this week Thomas Edsall reported in the NY Times that not everybody is moving in the same direction politically. Silicon Valley seems to have taken a right turn. The political money flow has reversed course-- from Democrats to Republicans over the past cycle. The Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Amazon PACs all contributed money money to Republicans than to Democrats. Employees of these companies are still supporting Democrats over Republicans, but the companies themselves are tilting heavily towards the GOP.
As these technology firms have become corporate behemoths, their concerns over government regulatory policy have intensified-- on issues including privacy, taxation, automation and antitrust. These are questions on which they appear to view Republicans as stronger allies than Democrats.

In 2016, the PACs of these four firms gave a total of $3.6 million to House and Senate candidates. Of that, $2.1 million went to Republicans, and $1.5 million went to Democrats. These PACs did not contribute to presidential candidates.

The PACs stand apart from donations by employees in the technology and internet sectors. According to OpenSecrets, these employees gave $42.4 million to Democrats and $24.2 million to Republicans.

In the presidential race, tech employees (as opposed to corporate PACs) overwhelmingly favored Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. Workers for internet firms, for example, gave her $6.3 million, and gave $59,622 to Trump. Employees of electronic manufacturing firms donated $12.6 million to Clinton and $534,228 to Trump.

Most tech executives and employees remain supportive of Democrats, especially on social and cultural issues. The Republican tilt of the PACs at Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Facebook suggests, however, that as these companies’ domains grow larger, their bottom-line interests are becoming increasingly aligned with the policies of the Republican Party.

In terms of political contributions, Microsoft has led the rightward charge. In 2008, the Microsoft PAC decisively favored Democrats, 60-40, according to data compiled by the indispensable Center for Responsive Politics. By 2012, Republican candidates and committees had taken the lead, 54-46; and by 2016, the Microsoft PAC had become decisively Republican, 65-35.

In 2016, the Microsoft PAC gave $478,818 to Republican House candidates and $272,000 to Democratic House candidates. It gave $164,000 to Republican Senate candidates, and $75,000 to Democratic Senate candidates.

Microsoft employees’ contributions followed a comparable pattern. In 2008 and 2012, Microsoft workers were solidly pro-Democratic, with 71 percent and 65 percent of their contributions going to party members. By 2016, the company’s work force had shifted gears. Democrats got 47 percent of their donations.

This was not small change. In 2016 Microsoft employees gave a total of $6.47 million.

A similar pattern is visible at Facebook.

The firm first became a noticeable player in the world of campaign finance in 2012 when employees and the company PAC together made contributions of $910,000. That year, Facebook employees backed Democrats over Republicans 64-35, while the company’s PAC tilted Republican, 53-46.

By 2016, when total Facebook contributions reached $3.8 million, the Democratic advantage in employee donations shrank to 51-47, while the PAC continued to favor Republicans, 56-44.

While the employees of the three other most valuable tech companies, Alphabet (Google), Amazon and Apple, remained Democratic in their giving in 2016, at the corporate level of Alphabet and Amazon-- that is, at the level of their PACs-- they have not.

Google’s PAC gave 56 percent of its 2016 contributions to Republicans and 44 percent to Democrats. The Amazon PAC followed a similar path, favoring Republicans over Democrats 52-48. (Apple does not have a PAC.)

Tech giants can no longer be described as insurgents challenging corporate America.



“By just about every measure worth collecting,” Farhad Manjoo of The Times wrote in January 2016:
American consumer technology companies are getting larger, more entrenched in their own sectors, more powerful in new sectors and better insulated against surprising competition from upstarts.
These firms are now among the biggest of big business. In a 2016 USA Today ranking of the most valuable companies worldwide, the top four were Alphabet, $554.8 billion; Apple, $529.3 billion; Microsoft, $425.4 billion; and Facebook, $333.6 billion. Those firms decisively beat out Berkshire Hathaway, Exxon Mobil, Johnson & Johnson and General Electric.

In addition to tech companies’ concern about government policy on taxation, regulation and antitrust, there are other sources of conflict between tech firms and the Democratic Party. Gregory Ferenstein, a blogger who covers the tech industry, conducted a survey of 116 tech company founders for Fast Company in 2015. Using data from a poll conducted by the firm SurveyMonkey, Ferenstein compared the views of tech founders with those of Democrats, in some cases, and the views of the general public, in others.

Among Ferenstein’s findings: a minority, 29 percent, of tech company founders described labor unions as “good,” compared to 73 percent of Democrats. Asked “is meritocracy naturally unequal?” tech founders overwhelmingly agreed.

Ferenstein went on:
One hundred percent of the smaller sample of founders to whom I presented this question said they believe that a truly meritocratic economy would be “mostly” or “somewhat” unequal. This is a key distinction: Opportunity is about maximizing people’s potential, which founders tend to believe is highly unequal. Founders may value citizen contributions to society, but they don’t think all citizens have the potential to contribute equally. When asked what percent of national income the top 10% would hold in such a scenario, a majority (67%) of founders believed that the richest individuals would control 50% or more of total income, while only 31% of the public believes such an outcome would occur in a meritocratic society.
One of the most interesting questions posed by Ferenstein speaks to middle and working class anxieties over global competition:
In international trade policy, some people believe the U.S. government should create laws that favor American business with policies that protect it from global competition, such as fees on imported goods or making it costly to hire cheaper labor in other countries (“outsourcing”). Others believe it would be better if there were less regulations and businesses were free to trade and compete without each country favoring their own industries. Which of these statements come closest to your belief?
There was a large difference between tech company officials, 73 percent of whom chose free trade and less regulation, while only 20 percent of Democrats supported those choices.

Ferenstein also found that tech founders are substantially more liberal on immigration policy than Democrats generally. 64 percent would increase total immigration levels, compared to 39 percent of Democrats. Tech executives are strong supporters of increasing the number of highly trained immigrants through the HB1 visa program.

Joel Kotkin, a fellow in urban studies at Chapman University who writes about demographic, social and economic trends, sees these differences as the source of deep conflict within the Democratic Party.

In a provocative August, 2015, column in the Orange County Register, Kotkin wrote:
The disruptive force is largely Silicon Valley, a natural oligarchy that now funds a party teetering toward populism and even socialism. The fundamental contradictions, as Karl Marx would have noted, lie in the collision of interests between a group that has come to epitomize self-consciously progressive mega-wealth and a mass base which is increasingly concerned about downward mobility.
The tech elite, Kotkin writes, “far from deserting the Democratic Party, more likely will aim take to take it over.” Until very recently, the
conflict between populists and tech oligarchs has been muted, in large part due to common views on social issues like gay marriage and, to some extent, environmental protection. But as the social issues fade, having been “won” by progressives, the focus necessarily moves to economics, where the gap between these two factions is greatest.
Kotkin sees future partisan machination in cynical terms:
One can expect the oligarchs to seek out a modus vivendi with the populists. They could exchange a regime of higher taxes and regulation for ever-expanding crony capitalist opportunities and political protection. As the hegemons of today, Facebook and Google, not to mention Apple and Amazon, have an intense interest in protecting themselves, for example, from antitrust legislation. History is pretty clear: Heroic entrepreneurs of one decade often turn into the insider capitalists of the next.
In 2016, Donald Trump has produced an upheaval within the Republican Party that shifted attention away from the less explosive turmoil in Democratic ranks.

Hillary Clinton’s failed bid to finesse the inherent conflict between her dependence on corporate contributions and her need for a strong turnout by union workers, minorities and idealistic millennials embodies the Democratic Party’s long term struggle.

High tech and virtually every other special interest poured money into her campaign: finance, insurance and real estate, $115.4 million; communications/electronics, $59.6 million; lawyers and lobbyists, $41.5 million; organized labor, $35.2 million-- the list goes on and on.

The public, at least for the moment, is not willing to support the continued compromise of principle that has been a hallmark of both parties. Trump has provided a temporary solution for the Republican Party; the Democrats need to find a legitimate and more lasting one.

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Election results still got you down? Have you tried thinking about the quantity of shrimp consumed in Las Vegas? (Part 2)

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Part 2: Bring on the shrimp!


That's right, it's about time we talked shrimp.

"Since the election, I sometimes wake up at three or four in the morning, disturbed by dark thoughts, and when that happens I try my best to think of the surprising amount of shrimp consumed in Las Vegas every day. We all have our own way of dealing with this thing."
-- Calvin Trillin, in "Counting Shrimp," in the Jan. 16 New Yorker

by Ken

Okay, it's time to talk shrimp.

Last night we tried one way of dealing with the reality of that, you know, gentleman with the orange hair who is scheduled to swear an incredible oath before the week is over to become the leader of the, you know, Free World. We tried Google's proffered solution of denial, at least insofar as it can be managed via the Chrome browser, through the substitution of pictures of kittens for those of, well, you-know-who.

Well enough for those for whom the trick works. But some of us were left in need, and to plug the need we turned to that paragon of wisdom, Calvin Trillin, who in his New Yorker "Shouts and Murmurs" piece "Counting Shrimp" described his strategy -- what I would tend to call "changing the subject" -- as "what might be called replacement denial":
In order to avoid dwelling on a depressing or disturbing subject -- the sort of subject that can keep you from falling back asleep -- you concentrate on a subject that is so engrossing that it can drive the depressing subject from your mind.

SO WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH THE SHRIMP?

You're probably thinking that it quickly came to Calvin T, in a blinding flash: shrimp consumption in Las Vegas. Not so, however. First he went through a number of other "replacement denial" candidates:

• "the ramifications of a similarly surprising fact: the largest state east of the Mississippi, in land area, is Georgia"



But alas, "diverting ramifications were not forthcoming." He came up with just one: "that people who are asked to name the largest state east of the Mississippi tend to say that it’s Pennsylvania or Florida -- both states won by the man I was trying to put out of my mind."

• "the fact that Edna St. Vincent Millay's middle name is not an old family name, as people tend to assume; she was named for St. Vincent's Hospital, in Greenwich Village"



This worked for "a moment or two," but then left him search[ing] my mind for other poets with buildings in their names."


The poet's family would presumably have known this view (though it presumably looked better in 1892, when young Edna was born), but while a number of the buildings of the former St. Vincent's Hospital and Medical Center have been repurposed, the hospital itself is history.

• "a few more geographical surprises"



The one example we're given: "that the second most populous city in Illinois is Aurora."
Aurora, a suburb of Chicago, is a city predominantly in Kane County and DuPage County, with portions extending into Kendall and Will counties. It is located in the outer region of Greater Chicago in the U.S. state of Illinois. It is the second most populous city in the state,[3] and the 114th most populous city in the country.[4] The population was 197,899 at the 2010 census, and was estimated to have increased to 199,963 by July 2013.[5]

Once a mid-sized manufacturing city, Aurora has grown tremendously since the 1960s. Founded within Kane County, Aurora's city limits and population have since expanded into DuPage, Will, and Kendall counties. Between 2000 and 2003, the U.S. Census Bureau ranked Aurora as the 34th fastest growing city in the United States.[6] From 2000 to 2009, the U.S. Census Bureau ranked the city as the 46th fastest growing city with a population of over 100,000.[7]

In 1908, Aurora officially adopted the nickname "City of Lights," because it was one of the first cities in the United States to implement an all-electric street lighting system in 1881.[8] Aurora's historic downtown is located on the Fox River, and centered on Stolp Island. The city is divided into three regions, The West Side, located on the west side of the Fox River, The East Side, located between the eastern bank of the Fox River and the Kane/DuPage County line, and the Far East Side/Fox Valley, which is from the County Line to the city's eastern border with Naperville.

The Aurora area is home to an impressive collection of architecture, including structures by Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Bruce Goff and George Grant Elmslie. The Hollywood Casino Aurora, a dockside gaming facility with 53,000 square feet (4,900 m2) and 1,200 gaming positions, is located on the river in downtown Aurora. Aurora is also home to a large collection of Sears Catalog Homes (over 50 homes) and Lustron all-steel homes (seven homes). . . .
-- Wikipedia (links onsite)
Frank Lloyd Wright? Mies van der Rohe? Designed stuff built right there in Aurora, IL? Wow! Who knew? Perhaps people from Illinois's Second City.

It's at this point that he "settled on shrimp consumption in Las Vegas." And I think you'll see why this quickly eclipsed Georgia, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and even Illinois's renowned City of Lights.


ALL RIGHT ALREADY, LAS VEGAS? SHRIMP?

Okay, okay. "I had acquired my knowledge of Las Vegas shrimp consumption," Calvin T explains,
from one of those interstitial statements that “PBS NewsHour” flashes on the screen to give viewers a sort of bonus fact about the segment they’ve just seen. What had flashed on the screen, after a segment that took place in Las Vegas but had nothing to do with shrimp, was this: “60,000 pounds of shrimp are consumed per day in Las Vegas, more than the rest of the country combined.”

On the first night I put that fact to use, I’d awakened at about 4 a.m., thinking, Could it really be that American children are going to be raised to look up to a coarse blowhard who has boasted about assaulting women?

“According to no less a source than PBS,” I replied to myself, “Las Vegas consumes more shrimp every day than the rest of the country combined.”

There was a slight delay. Was it working? Not yet, because this thought came into my mind: His appointments so far—people who are opposed to the mission of the departments they’re supposed to lead—seem to indicate an attempt to find a fox for every henhouse.

I countered with: “Where did that figure, sixty thousand pounds of shrimp, come from? It was confirmed, in an Internetish sort of way, by some sites with names like Fun Facts About Las Vegas.”

Maybe it's just as well to go with NewsHour for Vegas fun facts. PBS's may not be as much fun, but at least they don't have to do with "prostition," or the "Cirque Du Soliel."


CLOSE, BUT STILL NO SLEEP RESTORER



"Had I chased away the depressing thoughts?" Calvin T asks. "Not quite."
I could still envision him as President, giving out the Medal of Freedom to some beloved old television star. Instead of a few graceful remarks of the sort we came to expect on such occasions from, say, Obama or Reagan, he’s boasting that the ratings of the star’s show were nothing compared with the ratings of “The Apprentice,” which, he explains at length, was shafted by the Emmy Awards because the Emmy Awards are definitely rigged.
But, he says, he "was ready for that."
“Saying that more shrimp is consumed in Las Vegas than in the rest of the country is not like saying that more toasted ravioli is consumed in St. Louis than in the rest of the country,” I said to myself. “St. Louis is about the only place where people actually eat toasted ravioli, so that would make sense. But think of all the shrimp consumed in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Aurora.”

"BUT IMAGINING THAT MEDAL OF FREEDOM
CEREMONY HAD STARTED SOMETHING"


At this point Calvin T takes a step back, and then he's ready for the final sprint.
Now I could envision a state dinner for the President of France, during which, in the room where the cellist Pablo Casals played so memorably for the Kennedys, the guests are being entertained by a tag-team exhibition from World Wrestling Entertainment.

“And consider the shells,” I said to myself, even before the thump of huge men hitting the canvas faded. “There must be mountains of shrimp shells, piled on the desert like slag heaps in a played-out coal county. Let’s say that there are thirty or so shrimp to a pound. That means peeling two million shrimp every day.” I could envision the shrimp-peelers, probably paid by the shell, peeling and counting: “One million four hundred and eighty-six thousand five hundred and eleven . . . one million four hundred and eighty-six thousand five hundred and twelve . . .” Long before they got to two million, I was asleep.


Yes, once upon a time the great cellist, conductor, and humanitarian Pablo Casals -- seen here whispering to President Kennedy, with Mrs. Kennedy looking on -- played at the White House.
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Would You Go See The Monster Sworn In?

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I'm surprised so few members of Congress have announced they won't be attending the day of infamy coming up known as a 3 Doors Down concert Trump's inauguration. What a monstrous thing to attend. The only excuse I can think of to go would be to cause a ruckus. Otherwise, it's better to stay away. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) had all announced they would be missing the festivities when John Lewis announced yesterday that he's not going either. Grijalva, on the floor of the House, told his colleagues that his absence "is not motivated by disrespect for the office or motivated by disrespect for the government that we have in this great democracy. But as an individual act, yes, of defiance, at the disrespect shown to millions and millions of Americans by this incoming administration and by the actions we are taking in this Congress. Rather than participate in the inauguration, I will be participating in my district and reaffirming and renewing this democracy and the people that are part of it."

Ted Lieu's office announced that he'll also be doing something more important. "He is a Colonel in the Air Force Reserves and will be doing his reserve duty." I'd like to see Señor Trumpanzee tweet about that one! This morning Pramila Jayapal told us she's doing a healthcare event in Seattle while Trump is being sworn in.



Tomorrow John Lewis will be on Meet The Press explaining not just why he's not going to his inauguration but why he doesn't even consider Trump a legitimate president. Asked by Chuck Todd whether he would try to forge a relationship with Trump, Lewis said "I believe in forgiveness; I believe in trying to work with people. It's going to be hard... it's going to be very difficult. I don't see this president-elect as a legitimate president."

Asked why he doesn't see Trump as a legitimate president, he said "I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. I don;'t plan to attend the inauguration, the first one that I'll miss since I've been in the Congress. You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong."



I don't think anyone who believes in America and who believes in democracy should go. And, Blue America is asking our members to contribute, even if just a token, to the members of Congress who are coming out publicly and saying they won't go. You can visit the page here... or just tap on the thermometer below. And let's keep in mind what Barbara Lee told her constituents about her decision: "Donald Trump has proven that his administration will normalize the most extreme fringes of the Republican Party. On Inauguration Day, I will not be celebrating. I will be organizing and preparing for resistance."

There are now over a dozen members who have decided to stay away from the Trump inauguration-- probably more because of Trump's vicious twitter attack on John Lewis this morning than because Jennifer Holiday pulled out of the wretched event. The most recent members of Congress to announce they're not attending are Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Mark Takano (D-CA), William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), John Conyers (D-MI) and Jose Serrano (D-NY), who said he's not attending because he "cannot celebrate the inauguration of a man who has no regard for my constituents." Only a minuscule 9.6% of his constituents voted for Trump.

Goal Thermometer

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When It Comes To Denying People Healthcare, The Republicans Are Moving The Ball Forward

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Friday morning Mark Pocan (D-WI), on behalf of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, proposed an amendment to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid from Paul Ryan. The amendment codifies what Trump promised over and over again on the campaign trail about not allowing the Republicans to cut Social Security or Medicare. Watch Trump's statement about it from April, 2015:



And in March 2016, he was still campaigning against Paul Ryan and the House Republicans' plotting against Social Security. Trump is very specific here:



But every single Republican without exception voted against Pocan's amendment yesterday. Every Democrat voted for it and it was backed by a very wide array of groups, from AARP and the Alliance for Retired Americans to the AFL-CIO and National Nurses United. Co-sponsors included genuine progressives like Ted Lieu, Jamie Raskin, Jim McGovern, Barbara Lee, Judy Chu, Keith Ellison, and Raul Grijalva, right down the food chain to some of the most contemptible reactionary DINOs like Wasserman Schultz, Tom O’Halleran and Sean Patrick Maloney.

Ryan had already ordered the Republicans to block the amendment in the Rules Committee and did all he could to keep it from coming up, where Republicans who (falsely) claim to support Social Security and Medicare would be on the record refusing to support it. Kind of puts the lie to fake moderates like Charlie Dent (R-PA), Dave Reichert (R-WA), Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), John Katko (R-NY), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Daniel Donovan (R-NY), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Pat Meehan (R-PA), Lee Zeldin (R-NY), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Thomas MacArthur (R-NJ),Alex Mooney (R-WV), David Valadao (R-CA), David Joyce (R-OH), Peter King (R-NY), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) and Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ). All of them voted against protecting Social Security and Medicare for their constituents.

A few hours later, the House voted on the GOP plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act through budgetary reconciliation. First John Yarmuth (D-KY) offered a responsible budgetary substitute, which was defeated 149-272, 37 shitheads from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party crossing the aisle to vote with the GOP:
Pete Aguilar (New Dem-CA)
Ami Bera (New Dem-CA)
Julia Brownley (CA)
Cheri Bustos (Blue Dog-IL)
Gerald Connolly (New Dem-VA)
Jim Cooper (Blue Dog-TN)
Lou Correa (Blue Dog-CA)
Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA)
Charlie Crist (FL)
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)
John Delaney (New Dem-MD)
Suzan DelBene (New Dem-WA)
Bill Foster (New Dem-IL)
Josh Gottheimer (Blue Dog-NJ)
Jim Himes (New Dem-CT)
Derek Kilmer (New Dem-WA)
Ron Kind (New Dem-WI)
Ann Kuster (New Dem-NH)
Dan Lipinski (Blue Dog-IL)
Dave Loebsack (IA)
Zoe Lofgren (CA)
Stephanie Murphy (Blue Dog-FL)
Tom O'Halleran (Blue Dog-AZ)
Scott Peters (New Dem-CA)
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)
Jared Polis (New Dem-CO)
Kathleen Rice (New Dem-NY)
Jacky Rosen (NV)
Raul Ruiz (CA)
Brad Schneider (New Dem-IL)
Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR)
Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ)
Darren Soto (New Dem-FL)
Tom Suozzi (NY)
Niki Tsongas (MA)
Pete Visclosky (IN)
Tim Walz (MN)
When the bill itself came up a few minutes later, it passed 227-198, all the Democrats voting against it and 9 Republicans voting with them, mostly because they said it was promoting a budget that would never be balanced. So far-- it's still early in the process-- the Republicans who won't have ads running against them in 2018 talking about how they kicked millions of people off healthcare are Justin Amash (MI), Charlie Dent (PA), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA), John Katko (NY), Walter Jones (NC), Raul Labrador (ID), Tom MacArthur (NJ), Thomas Massie (KY) and Tom McClintock (CA).

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Señor Trumpanzee Has Plans For The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau-- No More Protection For Consumers

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This was an exciting week. Trump hasn't even been sworn in yet, but the Republicans and the conservative Dems who back their reactionary agenda are already moving rapidly in Congress towards the reactionary policies they stand for. Most of the ink has been going towards Republican Party plans to re-do-- or at least wreck-- the healthcare system. But the Republicans have big plans to destroy consumer and societal protections in terms of Wall Street as well. As we mentioned the yesterday, they have already begun moving to dismember and eliminate chunks of Dodd-Frank, giving the Wall Street predators, who spent $1,017,812,355 on contributions and lobbying in the 2016 cycle, what they paid for. Republicans got most of the money from the banksters last year. Their top 5 investments in 2016 were for 5 notorious crooks with "for sale" signs sticking out of their asses:
Marco Rubio (R-FL)- $7,801,459
Ted Cruz (R-TX)- $5,447,953
Chuck Schumer (D-NY)- $4,811,054
Paul Ryan (R-WI)- $4,319,564
Rob Portman (R-OH)- $3,054,236
Over in the House, the Finance Sector only gave 10 members million dollars or more, the ones who they expect will carry their water most consistently. America would be a much better place if all 10 of these dangerous criminals were permanently behind bars:
Paul Ryan (R-WI)- $4,319,564
Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)- $2,099,289
Patrick McHenry (R-NC)- $1,381,75
Jeb Hensarling (R-TX)- $1,314,695
Ed Royce (R-CA)- $1,276,649
Steve Stivers (R-OH)- $1,197,620
Pat Tiberi (R-OH)- $1,126,582
Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO)- $1,100,132
Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ)- $1,056,190
Joe Crowley (New Dem-NY)- $1,049,573
[Note: the banksters also gave Bob Dold (R-IL) $1,453,738 but he was defeated by another crooked corporate conservative, Brad Schneider (New Dem-IL), who the Finance Sector gave $404,995.] Randy Neugebauer didn't run for reelection this cycle. He represented a big chunk of western north-central Texas-- including Lubbock and Abilene-- from 2003 until last week. A deep red, backward district with a PVI of R+26, Obama only picked up about a quarter of the vote there. In his last reelection bid in 2014, Neugebauer beat his Democratic opponent 77-18%, Two years early he had won with 85% and in 2010 with 78%. In 2011, the National Review dubbed him the "most conservative" member of the House. Neugebauer's step-father was a bankster-- as is his own son-- and Neugebauer was one of Congress' richest members. His son, Toby, gave $10 million to the Ted Cruz presidential campaign. Neugebauer was a notorious bribe-taker and was under investigation for bribery involving a pay day lender scheme-- which he sponsored in the House-- when he suddenly announced he would't run again. He's best known for sponsoring Wall Street special interest bills written by bankster lobbyists (like his anti-regulatory National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers Reform Act. The Finance Sector rewarded him with $3,456,770 in legalistic bribes during his term in Congress. And he probably hasn't finished serving them yet. Looking for the most corrupt person he could find to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Trump stumbled onto Neugebauer.

This week, writing for HuffPo, Ben Walsh and Ryan Grim explained how Trump plans to turn the CFPB into "a weak agency that sides with financial predators over consumers," a slap in the face to his nemesis, Elizabeth Warren. Trump's way of doing that is too appoint Neugebauer to head it.
When he was in Congress, Neugebauer opposed CFPB actions like the first-ever federal rule cracking down on payday loans. He labeled the agency’s effort to require payday lenders to take basic steps to ensure consumers can pay back their loans and not get trapped in a cycle of debt as a “paternalistic erosion of consumer product choices.” He introduced a bill to overhaul and weaken the agency.

As the CFPB was originally designed, the president could not fire its director at will before his five-year term expired. But a federal appeals court ruled last year that the agency structure is unconstitutional. Unless that ruling is overturned by the Supreme Court or reconsidered by the lower court that decided it-- the CFPB petitioned that court to vacate the earlier ruling-- Trump will be able to remove the Obama-appointed Cordray at any time for any reason.

Warren pushed for the CFPB to be created in the wake of the financial crisis as part of the 2010 Wall Street regulatory reform law. It is funded as part of the Federal Reserve system, which means its budget cannot be cut through the congressional appropriations process, and it has a single powerful director, rather than the bipartisan boards found at other agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Under Cordray’s leadership, the CFPB has returned $12 billion to 27 million people caught up in various scams, passed pro-consumer rules on issues like mortgage disclosure, proposed a mandatory arbitration rule that is being finalized, and hit banks for conning customers into paying for expensive add-on products that don’t do much. The agency was central in exposing the large-scale checking and credit card fraud at Wells Fargo.
I'm sure I don't have to say anything about foxes in hen houses or draining swamps for you to already fully understand the point. How did Trump even find a crackpot like Neugebauer? Maybe laughing at his biographical video?

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