Friday, July 28, 2017

Midterm Momentum Is Building Nicely-- Another Democratic Legislative Win This Week In New Hampshire


Can Democrats take back the House next year? Yes-- if they have more candidates like Randy Bryce and fewer "ex"-Republicans like the CA-39 Lottery Winner

Last Friday we talked about how progressives are winning special elections in red areas of New Hampshire. Tuesday it happened again. Kevin Cavanaugh, a Democratic alderman in Manchester shocked the political establishment with a grassroots campaign that beat Republican former Sen. David Boutin in a special election Boutin held from 2010 through last year. To understand what happened-- and how Cavanaugh won 55-44%-- first look at the registration numbers in the state Senate district that includes 3 Manchester wards and the nearby small towns of and the towns of Bow, Candia, Dunbarton and Hooksett:
undeclared- 36%
Republican- 35%
Democrat- 29%
Both campaigns raised much more than is normally raised for a state legislative special election-- Cavanaugh $125,771 and Boutin 108,000. The turnout was 21%, relatively strong for a summer special election in a state legislative race. Cavanaugh ran up a big margin in Manchester-- 61.2% to 37.8% and Boutin didn't win his hometown, Dubrow, with a wide enough margin to make up for it. According the WMUR, "Democrats credited Cavanaugh's win to an outpouring of enthusiasm from voters frustrated by the GOP legislative and congressional majorities at the State House and on Capitol Hill."

That all said, Sabato's Crystal Ball just changed 13 ratings for the 2018 congressional midterms-- all but one in favor of Democratic candidates. The one was a swingy district in Nevada that right-wing garbage Dem Jacky Rosen is abandoning in her quest for a Senate seat. She's one of the 10 worst Democrats in the House and is unlikely able to beat Dean Heller-- but could be swept into office in an anti-Trump tsunami. She leaves NV-03 very vulnerable to a GOP win and it goes from "leans Dem" to "toss up." This is Sabato's whole list of changes:

If Democrats do have a chance to win the House next year, it might be because they translated a currently big field of announced candidates into credible opportunities to flip not just some of the top seats on their list of targets, but also some seats that, on paper, might not seem like they should be competitive. If that’s what happens-- a big if at such an early point in the cycle despite President Trump’s unpopularity and the usual midterm trends that favor the party that does not hold the White House-- it would mirror what happened when the Democrats last won the House from Republican control in 2006.

That year, Democrats ended up netting 31 seats, but they were not exactly the 31 seats that many might have thought would flip going into the election.

Several embattled GOP incumbents from districts that Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry had won or came very close to winning in 2004 ended up eking out close victories in 2006, including Reps. Chris Shays (R, CT-4), Heather Wilson (R, NM-1), Deborah Pryce (R, OH-15), and Jim Gerlach (R, PA-6). Had one known before the election that all four of these Republican incumbents would have won, it would have been reasonable to question the Democrats’ ability to net the 16 seats they needed to win the majority.

And yet, Democrats ended up gaining double what they needed, in large part because while they didn’t win all of the most obviously competitive races, they won some upsets through good performances by unheralded challengers. For instance, then-college professor Dave Loebsack (D) surprisingly knocked off Rep. Jim Leach (R, IA-2) and social worker Carol Shea-Porter (D), who defeated a candidate backed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in her party’s primary, upset Rep. Jeb Bradley (R, NH-1).

As we unveil our latest House ratings changes this week, we’ve been thinking about 2006 and the importance, to Democrats, of fielding as many credible challengers as they can. That’s because even if there is a positive environment for Democrats next fall, they are not going to knock off every clearly vulnerable GOP incumbent. Many Republicans who sit in districts that Hillary Clinton won last fall are proven vote-getters who ran well ahead of President Trump last fall, like Reps. Mike Coffman (R, CO-6), Carlos Curbelo (R, FL-26), Barbara Comstock (R, VA-10), Dave Reichert (R, WA-8), and others. Democrats probably will have to beat some of these incumbents in 2018 to win the House-- or hope that some decide not to run for another term, like Clinton-district Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R, FL-27)-- but defeating all of them is unrealistic. Hence, the necessity of expanding the map.

...At this point in the cycle, Democrats have more than 200 filed House challengers who have raised at least a small amount of money ($5,000 or more). That’s more than the combined total of Democratic challengers at this point of the cycle in the last four cycles, and way more than either party has had in midsummer of the off year over the last decade and a half.

Granted, $5,000 raised and being registered with the Federal Election Commission isn’t a tremendously high bar, but the early wave of candidates is striking compared with previous cycles. Additionally, as Malbin writes, the candidates are not necessarily clustered in the same districts: “So far, 105 different Republican incumbents have Democratic challengers with $5,000. At this same time in 2009, only 50 of the Democratic incumbents were up against challengers with $5,000.”

However, there are some packed fields already, too. For instance, Democrats kicked off their 2018 campaign message in Berryville, VA, earlier this week, which is in VA-10, held by the aforementioned Rep. Comstock. This is a district-- Clinton won it by 10 points — that is a major Democratic target. However, party leadership’s preferred candidate, state Sen. Jennifer Wexton (D), actually finished behind three other Democrats in fundraising in the past quarter. Democrats also already have big fields in some races in California, which uses a top-two primary system to determine general election contests. All candidates, regardless of party, run in the primary, and the top-two vote-getters advance to November. It’s possible that big Democratic fields could lead to Republican incumbents in targeted districts advancing to the general election against another Republican, which has happened to Democrats in a couple of targeted races in recent years (and also to Republicans in the state’s U.S. Senate race last year). The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reserves the right to get involved in primaries: Will it do so in a major way next year? And, if the DCCC does, will it upset activists who distrust party leadership and believe that party bigwigs tilted the scales against Bernie Sanders in last year’s presidential primary? If Democrats begin to recoil at party leadership, the Democratic establishment might have to navigate through the same intraparty battles that sometimes bedeviled Republicans in the Obama years.
The bottom 2 charts show how the Beltway looks at seats that are potentially up for grabs but the criteria is pathetic and outmoded. Best example is that WI-01, Paul Ryan's seat, doesn't even show up as a possibility. It will, but the Beltway and it's silly arms are always months behind reality. The first chart shows the Republican-held seats Sabato sees as worth contesting. And the second one shows the Democrats who they think are targetable by the NRCC. With the exceptions of Carol Shea-Porter, Rick Nolan, Dave Loebsack and Matt Cartwright these are not Democrats worth defending.

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Why Backing The Status Quo Is A Losing Proposition For Everyone Except The Very Rich


Thursday morning's tweet from Ro Khanna (D-CA)-- above-- is a good example of how someone can promote genuine economic populism. The program he, Bernie and virtually all progressives back to make state colleges free again is incredibly popular-- far more popular than Schumer's and Pelosi's recycled Papa John's Pizza slogan. As Robert Reich explained, "Higher education isn’t just a personal investment. It’s a public good that pays off in a more competitive workforce and better-informed and engaged citizens. Every year, we spend nearly $100 billion on corporate welfare, and more than $500 billion on defense spending. Surely ensuring the next generation can compete in the global economy is at least as important as subsidies for big business and military adventures around the globe. In fact, I think we can and must go further-- not just making public higher education tuition-free, but reinventing education in America as we know it."

Trump's in-house populist-- avatar of right-wing populism, Steve Bannon, also has a plan that could prove attractive to ordinary Americans-- albeit, probably not to many Republican leaders or donors-- taxing top earners at a 44% rate. Yes, you read that right. Anna Edgerton has the story which stretches the imagination of what we think of as Republicanism. But she even claims that "Bannon’s plan to raise the top income-tax rate for America’s highest earners could find some support among congressional Republicans as part of a populist message to sell a broader tax overhaul, according to one conservative lawmaker who has heard the proposal."

Bannon supports paying for middle-class tax cuts with a new top rate of 44 percent for those who make more than $5 million a year, according to a person familiar with his thinking. The lawmaker, who asked not to be named because discussions are private, said the rate pitched was 42 percent, which would be acceptable to some conservatives, as long as it’s coupled with a low corporate rate and other changes like repealing the alternative minimum tax. The current top individual rate is 39.6 percent.

The proposal could give President Donald Trump’s administration momentum to drum up popular support to rewrite the tax code, while wealthy individuals would get other tax benefits, such as the repeal of the estate tax, to partially offset the higher rate.

Earlier reports of Bannon’s proposal to create the highest top individual income tax rate in 30 years were initially considered unrealistic since Congress is controlled by the historically anti-tax GOP. Automatic opposition isn’t a given among some GOP members, said the lawmaker who’d heard the proposal-- especially if they’re made to understand how it could help publicly sell a plan that would include other changes in the tax code, the person said.

It wasn’t immediately clear how much revenue the new marginal rate could generate. Data from the Internal Revenue Service show that in 2014, only about 0.029 percent of individual income tax returns listed annual income of $5 million or more.

In order to get support among conservatives, the corporate tax rate would have to be low enough to boost economic growth and prevent base erosion. Republican leaders in Congress have proposed a 20 percent rate, and even recently suggested a 22 percent rate before going back to their original proposal, according to the lawmaker. The current top corporate tax rate is 35 percent.

A one-page tax plan presented by White House officials in April suggested a 15 percent rate for corporations and pass-through entities, which would be a better target for policymakers to get support for the higher rate on top earners, the lawmaker said.

There would have to be measures written into the code to prevent high earners from categorizing themselves as pass-through companies merely to get the lower business rate on their income, according to the lawmaker.

It’s unclear whether Trump would support Bannon’s proposal. Trump has said he’s focused on tax changes that would help the middle class, but an analysis this month of the previous White House tax outline shows it would mostly benefit top earners.
Here's the problem for both proposals-- Reich's and Bannon's-- though: the party establishments won't go for either. The DC Republicans aren't about to raise taxes on the rich and the DC Democrats aren't going to agree to really push-- as oppose just pretend to back-- free higher education. And that's why primaries are so important. If you back the DCCC-recruited conservative Democrats-- they now admit they're trying to stock Congress with right-wing Blue Dogs who oppose everything we think the Democratic Party stands for-- you won't be building a coalition to further a progressive agenda for things like free higher education and Medicare-For-All. All you'll get is a slightly left-of-center-- ever so slightly-- blinkered establishment vision of the failed status quo.

I can't speak for Republicans who might back raising taxes on multimillionaires, but the Blue America candidates, all favor proposals similar to Robert Reich's for remaking higher education. And they are all committed to working for a Medicare-For-All healthcare system. The DCCC candidates? Nope... they are primarily status quo candidates. That's what a conservative is-- someone who wants to conserve the status quo. One of the Blue America-endorsed candidates, David Gill, was talking with me yesterday about his vision of progressive politics. Allow me to share it with you:
A progressive is an individual dedicated to improving the lives of all the ordinary men and women who make up the vast majority of our population. A progressive respects all those ordinary people, and sees their well-being as being infinitely more important than the well-being of large corporations and Wall Street banks. In the movie "It's a Wonderful Life", Jimmy Stewart's character, George Bailey, expressed the heart of a progressive in this outburst to slumlord developer Mr. Potter: 
"Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you're talking about, they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath?
Goal Thermometer At a very fundamental level, progressive George Bailey cared deeply about other individuals. I'm proud to be a caring progressive. That instinct drove me into my career as a physician, and it drives my quest to get to Congress and be a champion in the development of single-payer healthcare here in America. Working in the E.R., I see the "rabble" who have been beaten down by the insurance and drug companies and their cohorts in Congress, and it galls me. I cannot stand by and let such a heartless system persist without fighting back.
You can contribute to David's campaign by clicking on the ActBlue thermometer above. But the statements about progressivism below are from some of the dozen or so candidates Blue America is in the process of vetting for endorsements. All of these candidates are far along in the process. First let's look at the Austin-based progressive Derrick Crowe, who's taking on Lamar Smith in TX-21. "Bannon's support for this tax on top earners," he told us, "reminds me of the fossil fuel industry's 'support' for a carbon tax-- I'll believe it when the House passes it. It opens up the real danger to Democrats, though, from a faux populist Republican attack. If we fail as a party to unite behind a true progressive populist agenda--tuition-free college, a $15/hour minimum wage, single-payer heath care, climate change action-- Trump could seize the opportunity to scoop voters from us with lies and half-measures. We need to offer voters a clear choice and a real path to shared prosperity for the working class. Otherwise, Trump could be the new normal."

Kia Hamadanchy is a progressive running for the seat held by conservative rubber-stamp Mimi Walters in Orange County. He has an interesting take on what it means to be progressive in contemporary politics:

Being a real progressive is about not being afraid to do what's right, even when it could cost you. Howard Dean once said of Tom Harkin that he had always admired that he was almost always reelected by narrow margins, and that was because even though Tom Harkin is from a middle-of-the-road state that is trending Republican he was always willing to stick his neck out for liberal causes, even though he knew he’d pay a price for is on Election Day. That is what being a real progressive is all about. We have real problems in this country and we have to take electoral risks sometimes in terms of getting things done. That's what's really going to inspire people and get them out to vote for you.

I support single payer and I support debt-free college. But its not enough just to say that you support it. Its about being willing to put your neck on the line to get the job done. Because there are worse things in life then losing an election and its not just about how we go about winning but we deserve to. It's about being able to win the argument, about being to move a poll not just read it. Because if we act like our ideas are so bad that they can't survive the light of the day stand and we're constantly running away from, we'll never accomplish anything. Why would we ever expect anyone else to support them?
Levi Tillemann is the progressive candidate in the race for Denver-area seat held by Republican Mike Coffman. The DCCC has one of their non-progressives running, of course, but Levi told us that "A fundamental part of my philosophy is that we need to prioritize people over profits. That may sound like a slogan, but it's not. It's actually a powerful guiding economic principle-- and a key differentiator between progressives and Republicans (or for that matter, progressives and Blue Dogs). We use policy to make sure that new technologies, our healthcare system, trade, the energy sector and education are all directed toward reducing inequality and building up the kind of society we want to live in."

Like Marie, Hector Morales is taking on an entrenched corrupt conservative Democrat in a primary. TX-29 is held by a career-long servant of Big Oil, Gene Green. Last night Hector told us that "There’s a difference between backing something and being about something-- that’s the distinction between a true progressive and a Blue Dog Democrat who merely backs legislation for a few political points. Take a look at Texas’ Beto O’Rourke and Gene Green. O’Rourke has not backed HR 676-- Medicare for all-- with the excuse that the bill does not ensure that all hospitals accept Medicare. The problem with his remark is that the hospitals who don’t accept Medicare are primarily for those who receive care through the VA. Gene Green only recently backed HR 676 after seeing a myriad of Democrats backing the legislation starting in April. After 24 years in Congress, one would assume that Gene Green co-sponsored Medicare-for-all bills in the past. But assume makes an ass out of you and me. And that’s the problem the Democratic Party faces-- a lack of progressives and a slew of DCCC backed Blue Dogs who are nothing more than corporate shills in safe districts. The Democratic Party doesn’t stand for anything other than being anti-Trump, which doesn’t win elections. Ask Hillary. The very essence of the Democratic Party is about being progressive and representing the people, not wallowing just left of center and whining. This is why progressives need to take back the party and demand that the Democrats not only back, but become about, medicare for all, tuition free education, and renewable energy. Otherwise the DCCC can just burn a pile of millions of dollars-- at least burning them will keep us warm next November."

Jim Thompson is the Berniecrat candidate who ran in Kansas this year and almost won-- after being left high and dry by a DCCC not interested in promoting progressives. Jim is running again now-- and Blue America has endorsed him. Last night he told us that "Progressives strive to move society forward for the betterment of all citizens because a rising tide lifts all boats. We understand 'equality of opportunity' is more than a talking point, but rather is the basis for all that is great about this country and should be available to every person regardless of race, religion, sex, or gender identity. Progressives fight to return political power to the working class people of this country by ending Citizens United and removing dark money from politics. We assert healthcare and education should be considered rights and are part and parcel of 'providing for the general welfare' of the citizenry as required by the Constitution. Progressives battle for policies and laws that will stop the continuing redistribution of wealth to the top 1%, which has been occurring for the past 40 years through tax loopholes for the large corporations and stagnant wages for working class people. In short, as the name suggests, progressives believe in progress for society as a whole rather than the privileged few."

"A progressive to me is someone who wants to learn from the past and move ahead-- to make progress on behalf of everyone. We need to learn that people get excited by a message that they can actually feel, not one that they see repeated ad nauseam that leaves one shaking their head trying to figure out. It’s easy to think like a progressive. It’s not so easy to actually be a progressive."

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Trump Is Making No Friends On Capitol Hill-- And That Could Hurt In An Impeachment Trial


It's widely acknowledged that McConnell and the Trump Regime bribed Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to change her vote on the motion to proceed with TrumpCare, after all her self-congratulatory comments to West Virginia voters about how she would protect them-- even if she had to be the deciding vote to thwart the plan to kick tens of millions of Americans off healthcare. Instead she was the deciding vote in the opposite direction. Somehow, though, the same tactics didn't work on Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski. She stuck to her guns. And now Trump is in full attack mode against her-- and Alaska!

Keep in mind, Murkowski isn't up for reelection until 2022, when Trump is likely to be out of office, possibly in prison, certainly in disgrace. He can't threaten her electorally the way he's been able to threatening three GOP cowards, Dean Heller (R-NV), Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Jeff Flake (R-NV) each of whom is up for reelection in 2018... and vulnerable. Erica Martinson's story today for Alaska Dispatch News, Trump administration threatens retribution against Alaska over Murkowski health votes, set the tone for national coverage. Trump is booking for revenge and he "isn't going to just let go of Sen. Lisa Murkowski's no vote on Tuesday's health care. Early Wednesday, Trump took to Twitter to express displeasure with Murkowski's vote. By that afternoon, each of Alaska's two Republican senators had received a phone call from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke letting them know the vote had put Alaska's future with the administration in jeopardy. The response follows Trump's no-holds-barred style of governing, even when it comes to his own party. It is his first strike of retaliation against Murkowski, however, despite her tendency to stray from the party line and the president's priorities."

That's typical of the mobster mentality that governs the thuggish, anti-democratic Trumpanzee Regime that Zinke chose to be part of and ruin his own reputation. Alaska's other senator, Dan Sullivan "said the call from Zinke heralded a 'troubling message. I'm not going to go into the details, but I fear that the strong economic growth, pro-energy, pro-mining, pro-jobs and personnel from Alaska who are part of those policies are going to stop,' Sullivan said. I tried to push back on behalf of all Alaskans… We're facing some difficult times and there's a lot of enthusiasm for the policies that Secretary Zinke and the president have been talking about with regard to our economy. But the message was pretty clear,' Sullivan said. The Interior secretary also contacted Murkowski, he said."
Sullivan said the Interior secretary was clear that his message was in response to the no vote Murkowski cast Tuesday on the motion to proceed with debate on the House-passed health care legislation.

Efforts and issues on the line include nominations of Alaskans to Interior posts, an effort to build a road out of King Cove through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, and future opportunities to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and expand drilling in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, among other regulatory issues that are a priority for Murkowski and Sullivan.

Sullivan said he had discussed the calls with Murkowski, and his concerns remain.

...Much remains unknown-- how far the White House will go to punish or pressure Murkowski, what exactly the impact will be for Alaska, and just how it will play out.

Murkowski chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and has used the position to drive home Alaska priorities, particularly with Interior nominees. She oversees the confirmation process for the Interior Department.

On Wednesday, a committee hearing on nominations to the Interior and Energy departments was postponed indefinitely. A reason was not posted.

For her part, Murkowski said Tuesday that she was not deeply concerned about pushback from Alaska Republicans about her vote.

"I base my votes on what I believe is in Alaska's best interest," she said. "So I know that there are those who wish that I would be more in line with following the party platform, but I don't think it should come as any surprise that there have been occasions that I have not followed the lead of the party."

Trump has shown a willingness to go after members of his own party when they go against his preferred agenda-- an unusual presidential tactic.

...Murkowski told an MSNBC reporter that future elections did not weigh into her decision on health care.

"We're here to govern. We're here to legislate. We're here to represent the people who sent us here. And so every day shouldn't be about campaigning. Every day shouldn't be about winning elections. How about just doing a little bit of governing around here? That's what I'm here for," she said.

Murkowski has been at odds with Trump at times-- occasionally refuting his more controversial statements. She took a stronger approach toward the end of the presidential campaign, saying she could not support his candidacy and would write in a vote for someone else.

But Trump hasn't struck back at Murkowski in the past. She has been invited to the White House numerous times, and as a potential "swing vote" has repeatedly been seated next to or near the president during negotiations and meetings.

It is not clear whether the president offered Murkowski any deal on health care-- or any threats prior to her vote.
This morning Carl Hulse, writing for the NY Times, noted that Trump's been unable to bully Murkowski the way he has Senate weaklings like Heller, Cruz and Flake. When he pushed her in person "to fall in line behind a repeal of the Affordable Care Act in the interest of party loyalty and protecting the Republican brand, she felt compelled to speak up. 'With all due respect, Mr. President,' she said, according to some of the people at the private White House lunch, 'I didn’t come here to represent the Republican Party. I am representing my constituents and the state of Alaska.' [The moronic and repulsive orangutan Puton installed in the White House] did not appreciate the pushback. Ms. Murkowski was one of just two members of her party to vote against a critical procedural step on Tuesday. Afterward, Mr. Trump voiced his displeasure on Twitter: 'Senator @lisamurkowski of the Great State of Alaska really let the Republicans, and our country, down yesterday,' he wrote Wednesday morning. 'Too bad!'"
But it may be that it’s too bad for Mr. Trump, because he picked on someone unlikely to be rattled by his attack or by accusations that she deserted her fellow Republicans. Ms. Murkowski already survived a political near-death experience in 2010 when she lost a primary race to a Tea Party challenger and was essentially abandoned by the Republican Party.

She won a stunning victory in a rare write-in campaign-- and “Murkowski” is not all that easy to write in-- returning to Washington still a Republican, but one with a well-defined independent streak and a reputation of fierce advocacy for her remote and sometimes overlooked state.

“She is unshakable when it comes to her constituents,” said Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, the other Republican who opposed Tuesday’s procedural vote. “She has a spine of steel.”

Given the narrow 52-48 party divide in the Senate and the shrinking ranks of more moderate congressional Republicans, Ms. Murkowski has emerged as a key swing vote, giving her new influence. Nowhere has that been on display as much as in the health care fight.

Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and majority leader, shaped his health care proposal with an eye toward Alaska, adding billions of dollars to help hold down insurance premium costs in a state where health care choices are very limited, as well as extra money for the care of native populations. Those provisions were added not only to woo Ms. Murkowski, but also to secure the vote of Dan Sullivan, the other senator from Alaska and a fellow Republican.

Ms. Murkowski remained leery of the health care proposal, expressing concern about its potential effects on the many Alaskans who rely on Medicaid, as well as the partisan manner in which it was being assembled behind closed doors by Republican leaders. Before the vote on Tuesday, she informed her colleagues she would break ranks.

“I’m very comfortable with the decision I made yesterday in working to advance Alaska’s interests,” Ms. Murkowski told reporters on Wednesday, adding that she doesn’t “really follow Twitter.”

Mr. Trump wasn’t the only irritated Republican. Representative Blake Farenthold, Republican of Texas, suggested that he might challenge the Senate Republican women opposing repeal to a duel, and a second House Republican, Representative Earl L. Carter of Georgia, on Wednesday issued a vulgar but incomprehensible insult.

Ms. Murkowski has already challenged Mr. Trump this year. She and Ms. Collins were the only two Republicans to oppose Betsy DeVos, Mr. Trump’s choice for education secretary, with Ms. Murkowski citing the nominee’s lack of experience in public education.

Ms. Collins said that as she and Ms. Murkowski, whose Senate desks are adjoining, prepared to turn their thumbs down on Tuesday, they discussed the possibility that the leadership might want to change their seating arrangement to keep them from being bad influences on each other.

Despite her position on the health care bill and her support for abortion rights, Ms. Murkowski remains a reliably Republican vote on most issues. An avid outdoorswoman, she draws regular criticism from Democrats and environmental activists for her support of the oil and gas industry-- mainstays in her state-- and the conservative stance she takes on other issues involving public lands and wildlife.

But in this case, Democrats credit her for a position they acknowledge must be difficult to maintain.

So this just part of why The Hill's Alexander Bolton wrote today that Trump's management style isn’t making him many friends in Congress. The way he bullies his allies isn't going over well with Republicans and he's "sown seeds of doubt about whether any political sacrifice by a GOP lawmaker will be rewarded-- or even remembered-- by the president." They really have turned against him more because of how he's been treating the detestable Jeff Sessions than for any of his other crap. Lindsey Graham had a hissy fit, whimpering to the media that "Trump 'belittling and humiliating the attorney general' was 'unseemly' and 'inappropriate.'" As opposed to anything else-- anything at all-- that Trump has done since Putin got him his new job? The public shots are 'a sign of great weakness on the part of President Trump,' hissed Graham and "what bothers lawmakers the most," asserts Bolton, "is that Trump seems to want to embarrass his targets." God forbid!
Graham was one of several GOP lawmakers who voiced concern over Trump’s attacks on fellow Republicans. Others, however, asked for anonymity to avoid becoming Trump’s next target.

One Republican senator said Trump should have raised his concerns with Sessions and Murkowski in private, instead of pillorying them in front of the entire world.

“He should have handled it one-on-one, and he shouldn’t have done it publicly,” said the lawmaker.

Another senator said Republicans on Capitol Hill know there’s no guarantee that taking a political risk to do the president a favor will be remembered or rewarded in the future.

“That’s self-evident,” said the lawmaker.

That fear makes it less likely that Republicans will be willing to risk their political futures to pass healthcare reform, one of Trump’s major priorities.

“What happens when someone punches you in the nose?” asked a third Republican lawmaker in response to Trump’s attacks on current and former GOP colleagues.

The senator said he would never get away with some of the audacious moves the president has made.

“I couldn’t get away with that. People who do those things aren’t usually successful, but he’s been very successful,” the lawmaker added.

GOP lawmakers, by and large, try to ignore Trump’s barbs but admit sometimes they can’t help talk about the latest uproar he’s causing on Twitter or cable television.

Trump complained about Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who was not present, at a private dinner with a handful of Republican senators at the White House last week.

Paul found out about it soon after when the New York Times reported on the intimate dinner. The story revealed that Trump was annoyed with the Kentucky senator for going on television to complain about the GOP plan, which he viewed as sabotaging the legislative effort.

Paul brushed off Trump’s jab when asked about it Wednesday.

“In my case, it was mostly in good nature,” he said.

But Trump’s habit of popping off on fellow Republicans makes them uneasy when he jokes about their political futures.

During a meeting at the White House, Trump sat next to Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), who was a holdout on the pending healthcare bill, and joked, “He wants to remain a senator, doesn’t he?”

Heller laughed, but Trump’s track record of attacking allies who diverge from him left other senators wondering if it was entirely a joke.

A fourth GOP senator compared Trump to George Steinbrenner, the late owner of the New York Yankees, who had famously contentious relationships with his team’s managers and stars.

But he said that doesn’t necessarily mean that it isn’t an effective management style.

“It’s like George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin, they won a few World Series together,” the lawmaker said, referring to the former Yankees manager whom Steinbrenner fired multiple times before rehiring him.

Even Paul, who has butted heads with Trump, admitted that his style has helped shape the healthcare debate.
If the Democrats take back the House, dump Pelosi and impeach Trump, he's going to need every Republican senator to keep him from being convicted. How do you think that's working out for him so far?

Painter Nancy Ohanian seems to have low expectations for Señor Trumpanzee

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Worst President Ever Wants To Raise Taxes On The Internet To Get Even With The Washington Post's Owner


The vindictive asshole Trump's supporters elected looks like he may be headed towards letting them down again-- this time over taxes. Who ever thinks about Republicans raising taxes. An effective multi-decade p.r. effort has persuaded Americans that Republican don't raise taxes-- although they certainly do. Trump's inclination to raise taxes on internet purchases, though, does't have anything to do with economics, just with his war against the muckraking journalists at the Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.

Yesterday, at a Financial Services subcommittee hearing (Senate Appropriations Committee), Joe Manchin (D-WV) asked Trumpist Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about internet taxes. As anyone who has bought anything on Amazon knows, Amazon does charge sales taxes-- at least in the 46 states that have sales taxes. But the Trump Regime claims that third party vendors on Amazon don't charges sales taxes. The Putin-placed ignorant and irrational asshole in the White House refers to that on Twitter as an "Amazon no-tax monopoly.

Trump is still furious at the Washington Post for making him into more of a laughingstock by exposing the fake Time Magazine covers he has hanging on the walls of his cheesy resorts and golf clubs. He;s pressuring Mnuchin to do something to cause Bezos pain.

Getting the feeling that Trump's time in the White House is likely to expire soon? BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith penned a piece yesterday, Trump Is Failing As A President. But He’s Succeeding As Reality TV that gets right to the meat of the matter. When Señor Trumpanzee "was just starting out as a candidate for the presidency," he wrote, "he used to confuse ratings and polls. It was a meaningless eccentricity from a showbiz candidate going nowhere, a sign of the unreality of his campaign and of his own strange place in American culture. Now, it’s clear how badly a cosmopolitan media that may not have watched The Apprentice missed Trump’s continuous appeal. The sneers of New York tycoons who considered Trump a fraud, and of their media friends, couldn’t drown out the volume of the television, of The Apprentice and later the Celebrity Apprentice."
This isn’t an accident. Trump’s late publicist Jim Dowd recalled that, as a television actor, Trump, paid particular attention to markets in the midwest and south. "The Donald Trump post-first season of The Apprentice all of a sudden became a very popular figure on Main Street, U.S.A.," Dowd told Frontline. "So it was Wall Street before, and then it became Main Street to the point where we showed up in Denver for an event, and we had to have a separate room just for The Apprentice fans."

Jeff Zucker, Trump's erstwhile benefactor-- then of NBC, now leading #FakeNews CNN-- bet on The Apprentice in the waning days of the network's upscale, white Must-See-TV Thursday lineup, which included Friends and Will & Grace. But Trump, who Dowd said once served him and Apprentice creator Mark Burnett Oscar Mayer bologna so they could toast to a successful day of publicity with the sandwich meat, proved to have an unexpected appeal.

Trump wasn’t quite as bad a businessman as his detractors like to think-- their calculations of this return-on-investment typically leave out the staggering sums he dropped on his lifestyle. But he was a truly great publicist, and, it turned out, stellar television actor.

Now Trump is failing as a president by every measure-- popularity, global influence, a basic grasp on the levers of power. Perhaps most fatally, his incoherence has prevented him from projecting power through the federal government. He has been essentially irrelevant to the Republican health care agenda, except to draw out the process when Congress might have otherwise put the issue aside after the first disastrous attempt in the spring.

But the same instincts that have scuppered his presidency made for unbelievable, tremendous television.

"I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a frisson of anticipation when logging into Twitter early in the morning, knowing that the president of the United States could be tweeting about literally anything, no matter how strange or self-sabotaging,” the Trump critic and conservative writer who goes by the name Allahpundit wrote recently. "Is he going to start riffing on Obama’s birth certificate again? Might he be ready to flame Rosie O’Donnell?...Increasingly, The Trump Show isn’t a distraction from the Trump presidency. It is the Trump presidency.”

The ratings for the Trump show bear this theory out. They are, in a word, terrific: Fox News is still No. 1, even in its post-Bill O'Reilly incarnation; CNN, Zucker's kingdom, and Trump's stated enemy, keeps hitting quarterly highs in ratings; and MSNBC has directly benefited from Fox News' implosion, coinciding with Rachel Maddow's rise as the #resist hero. (Here’s a litany of other beneficiaries.) The television executives who felt qualms about syndicating the unfiltered Trump show through the Republican primaries are now cleansing their consciences with episode after episode of The Americans, produced for free by the American government.

This is classic reality television, down to its defining conventions. Perhaps the most memorable trope of reality TV-- popularized in the United States by Trump’s old Pygmalion, Burnett-- is the confessional interview. Those are the moments when a cast member directly addresses the camera, to tell us how they really feel. This is what happens on a Bachelorette date, when Rachel turns to the audience to say she needs Peter to assure her that he'll be ready for marriage at the end of this, or when one of the Real Housewives is filmed in formal dress in an ornate room and snipes about the lies of her castmates.

That moment-by-moment insight into the inner lives of the cast of Survivor: White House doesn’t always include those on-camera revelations, though Trump’s public disappointment with Jeff Sessions-- in interviews, on TV, at the White House and always with tension or even a tease about what could happen-- fits the genre perfectly.

More often, the confessionals come through leaks from the supporting characters: We know about Steve Bannon’s enmity for Jared Kushner, and his complex and shifting relationship with Reince Priebus. We know about Sean Spicer’s frustration, Rex Tillerson’s pique. Everyone is mad at Don Jr.! It’s an emotional mess.

And that twisting, ever fluid dynamic extends to each breaking news development. The country has been rapidly conditioned to wait for the drama of the emotional reaction-- the kind of torqued up authenticity on which reality TV thrives.

The White House reality show goes off the rails when it shifts into more scripted moments. In June, cabinet members heaped stilted praise on Trump for the cameras, and the audience winced.

"To me, that cabinet meeting, that was scripted,” one Emmy-nominated reality producer told BuzzFeed News. “It felt unreal, it felt fake, it felt inauthentic, it felt produced."

The ratings though-- the ratings are terrific. Better, in fact, than on The Apprentice as it aged. Jim Dowd, whose job as a publicist required he tell Trump about the show's diminished numbers, found himself unable to do it: "There’s about 10 people who cover ratings in terms of the publications that matter most," Dowd said. "And he would want to make sure I called all those 10 people and told them, 'No. 1 show on television, won its time slot,' and I’m looking at the numbers and at that point, say Season 5, for example, we were No. 72. I can’t tell that to him. I can’t say that. Maybe I should have, maybe I should have gotten Jeff Zucker involved, but he became kind of a monster when it came to these ratings."

Here, however, it’s hard to turn away.

And the recent rise of Anthony Scaramucci marks a kind of recognition that this is a show. Scaramucci is a television figure, a money manager known best for a conference he organized, and who played the role of hedge fund titan as Trump played real estate baron. A former talk show host who seemed to be working toward a CNBC show, he was hired for his cocksure grace in front of the camera.

Scaramucci recently suggested he’ll be adding an over-the-top morning show (as we say in the biz! BuzzFeed News recently announced one!) to the lineup. There could be “a desk on the White House lawn.” But that’s a crowded space. And the biggest TV show in history is already happening.

The rise of Trump has so many roots. Pundits routinely understate, though, the centrality of his television celebrity. And they miss its continuing power: Trump may not, yet, have figured out how to be president-- but he has monopolized our attention, dominated the narrative and the story, and it would be mistake to dismiss that power. A president doesn’t have to accomplish traditional things (policy, programs, reforms) to change the culture. What if once we start viewing major American institutions as players in the Trump Show, we can’t stop?

He’s failing at what used to be thought of as the presidency, but succeeding at reality television like no one ever has before. The question is whether there’s still a difference.

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The GOP Ramps Up Their War Against Consumer Protections While Everyone Is Looking At The Horrors Of Trump And TrumpCare


The vote in the House Tuesday evening was 231-190. Every Republican but Walter Jones of North Carolina voted to hamper the ability of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to protect bank customers from the kinds of systemic abuse and predatory behavior that led directly to Bush's Great Recession and destroyed the financial stability of millions of American families. Every single Democrat-- even the worst paid-off Blue Dogs and New Dems-- opposed bankster-pawn Keith Rothfus' bill.

What the Republicans are doing is stripping the rights of consumers to use class action lawsuits to protect themselves from the big banks. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce lobbyists who wrote Rothfus' bill for him, were dancing for joy. They are furious that over 34 million bank customers received $1 billion in payments from lawsuits over the past 5 years and want to destroy the Bureau.

Here in California, several progressive Democrats running for congressional seats alerted voters in their districts that their own congressmen had betrayed their interests once again. The architect of the CFPB was Elizabeth Warren, who noted that the rule the Republicans just voted to repeal "allows working families to hold big banks accountable when they’re cheated and help discourage the kinds of surprise fees that consumers hate." The Orange County candidate who has worked with her on this issues is Katie Porter, who is running for the seat held by rubber stamp Republican Mimi Walters. This issue is part of Porter's field of expertise and we asked her for a reaction last night. This is what she told us:
As the Senate voted to take away health care for millions, Congresswoman Mimi Walters and the House GOP were taking away justice for all consumers. Today, they rewrote the rules in order to protect Wall Street banks that cheat consumers, no matter how outrageous the banks' conduct. "Mandatory predispute arbitration" agreements ban consumers from telling their stories to judges, instead forcing them into an arbitration process that exists only to protect the big banks from being held accountable.

I've fought against arbitration in my decades of work as a consumer advocate. That's a fundamental difference in this race. I have stood up to powerful financial institutions that break the law and hurt families. In Congress, Mimi Walters has done the opposite. She is as consistent of an ally for big banks, as she is for President Trump's agenda. Wall Street banks can count on Walters' support 100% of the time. Our district needs a congresswoman who will stand up to powerful interests, and that's my pledge to Californians.
Ironically, Porter isn't the only stalwart progressive in the CA-45 race who worked on this issue. Kia Hamadanchy worked on the staff of another top Democrat concerned with Republican collusion with Wall Street predators, Sherrod Brown. Hamadanchy told us that "Once again Mimi Walters has put the interests of her donors and those in Wall Street who have ripped off consumers time and time again above the people of Orange County. If this rule is repealed it would mean that a bank like Wells Fargo could avoid being held accountable for its actions despite a clear evidence of a pattern and practice of wrongdoing. Every American deserves their day in court when they are taken advantage of by the financial services industry and its not surprising that Mimi Walters doesn't agree. Time and time again she continues to vote against the interests of her constituents and in November 2018 she is going to see where that gets her."

North of CA-45, we get to Wall Street puppet Ed Royce's congressional district. Since 1990 Royce, who is a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, has taken an astounding $7,116,597 in legalistic bribes from the Financial Sector. The only current members of the House to have taken bigger bribes than Royce are Paul Ryan ($9,781,835) and House Financial Services Committee chairman Jeb Hensarling ($7,468,190). All three should be rotting in prison.

The DCCC is trying to run some qualification-less "ex"-Republican lottery winner and self-funder, Gil Cisneros, against Royce. Fortunately there's an eminently qualified progressive determined to take on Royce instead, Sam Jammal. Yesterday he pointed out that "If you're wronged, Americans believe you should be able to have your day in court. It's a fundamental check on absuses by the most powerful. This apparently doesn't apply to the biggest banks. It's hard to tell who Ed Royce really represents. Common sense would say that consumers should know their rights and have options to preserve those rights. But, if that is upsetting to his big donors, it looks like Ed is perfectly fine forgetting about consumers in Buena Park or small businesses in Walnut. We need our voices heard again in Washington."

No one ever doubted CA-25 Rep, Steve Knight, would vote to repeal the amendment protecting financial consumers. He's perversely dependable in that sense-- the perfect little rubber-stamp for Ryan and Trump. His progressive opponent, Katie Hill told us "This is yet another example of Steve Knight putting special interests-- in this case big banks-- ahead of working Americans. I personally know so many people in the 25th district who have been taken advantage of or harmed by Wall Street in some way or another. This simple rule would give every day people some small protection and a way of banding together to fight back-- but Steve Knight and other Republicans are too concerned with protecting the profits of their own financial backers. We need representatives in Congress who will once again return power to the people."

Some good news in regard to the Republican war against consumer protections-- yesterday Allied Progress launched the CFPB Action Tracker, a new interactive website that tracks, state-by-state, the CFPB's enforcement actions against big banks, credit card companies, and other financial institutions that have preyed on consumers. The website is a great resource for elected officials and organization in the states, allowing them to see what the CFPB has done to benefit local consumers and arming them with important information in the fight to protect the CFPB from attacks by Wall Street special interests and their allies in Congress, like Ed Royce, Paul; Ryan, Jeb Hensarling and Mimi Walters.

Karl Frisch, executive director of Allied Progress: "The Consumer Bureau has played a pivotal role in bringing justice to consumers over the past six years. They have cracked down on big banks, payday lenders, and other financial bad actors and put an end to the irresponsible practices that caused the great recession that cost so many Americans their jobs, their homes, and their savings. Lawmakers in the pockets of big banks have spread misinformation in their efforts to eliminate the Consumer Bureau, but the truth is in the data. Our new interactive Consumer Bureau Action Tracker shows just how much the Bureau has put back into the pockets of Americans. In just six years, the Consumer Bureau has taken $12 billion from predatory financial institutions and returned it to the more than 29 million Americans they ripped off."

The DCCC, of course, is doing nothing about targeting Rothfus and his traditionally blue district (PA-12) north and east of Pittsburgh. The second biggest veterans' district in the country, it was John Murtha's seat forever but has been abandoned to the Republicans by a DCCC eager to woo white collar suburbanites while ignoring the legitimate interests of blue collar workers. Hillary did worse than Obama had both times he ran and she was crushed by Trump, 58.7% to 37.9%. But a progressive veteran who was knocking on doors for Bernie last year, Tom Prigg, has every intention of replacing Rothfus in 2018... running on a progressive platform geared for the people in his district.

This morning Prigg told us that "It's absolutely unacceptable for our Congress to, once again, expose the American people to the unfair banking practices exercised that led to the 2008 housing crash. During that time, America saw the loss of ten million American homes-- that’s five-times more than during the Great Depression. It is bad enough that none of the perpetrators of this crash faced criminal charges; but now our representatives are trying remove any possible class-action litigation to protect the public. The dissolution of this agency is a direct attack on the American public. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, in just 5 ½ years of its existence, has awarded five billion dollars in lawsuits against unfair banking practices for twenty-nine million Americans. Not only are those impressive numbers for such a young agency, it’s also a testament to how important this agency is for the American public. It’s this type of irresponsible behavior and special-interest policy making that we can no longer accept. I will never let the American people, and our families, take the fall for irresponsible banking practices like we saw ten years ago. We must vote out politicians who’ll sacrifice the security of American citizens in favor of greed. This is one of the reasons why I’m running against the author of this bill, Keith Rothfus."

Expect to hear more from Tom Prigg here at DWT.

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Democrats Complicit in Advancing Christopher Wray Confirmation as FBI Director


Constituents giving Hero of the Resistance Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse a piece of their minds after his vote to confirm pro-torture Mike Pompeo as CIA director

by Gaius Publius

It seems "our" Democrats never learn.

During the earlier rounds of confirmation on Trump cabinet nominees, a group of early votes to confirm some of the worst and least qualified included far too many Democrats saying Yes.

One of the worst votes was the confirmation of torture advocate Mike Pompeo as CIA director 66-32-2, with such Heroes of the Resistance as these...
  • Diane Feinstein
  • Maggie Hassan
  • Tim Kaine (Clinton's VP nominee)
  • Amy Klobuchar
  • Brian Schatz
  • Chuck Schumer
  • Jean Shaheen
  • Sheldon Whitehouse
  • Angus King to install him. (See "Mike Pompeo, Torture, and the Future of the Democratic Party" for more.)

For their trouble, Democratic senators like Sheldon Whitehouse were subject to their own angry town halls. (See "Democrat-Supported CIA Chief Hires a Torturer of Muslims as Deputy" for more.)

Now our Heroes of the Resistance (including Sens. Whitehouse and Franken; see below) are at it again, this time on the recent vote to confirm Trump nominee Christopher Wray to replace James Comey as FBI Director.

From Huffington Post and Reuters:
Senate Panel Unanimously Approves Chris Wray's Nomination As FBI Director

All 20 members of the committee voted to advance the nomination.

WASHINGTON, July 20 (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday unanimously approved the nomination of Christopher Wray to be FBI director following the dismissal of the agency’s former chief, James Comey, by President Donald Trump.

All 20 members of the committee voted to approve Wray, a white-collar crime lawyer and former assistant attorney general under President George W. Bush, sending his nomination to the full Senate for a vote.

Trump nominated Wray last month after firing Comey during an FBI investigation into whether Trump campaign associates colluded with the Russians to help him with the 2016 presidential election.
Needless to say, Trump would not have chosen Wray in the first place if Wray were going to operate in the recent James Comey mode, meaning independent of White House direction.

Who Is Christopher Wray?

According to Reuters, Christopher Wray is lawyer who specializes in prosecuting and defending white collar crime. He's also Chris Christie's personal lawyer "in a political scandal."

As a bonus, Wray also has a nice connection to the Russian energy giant Gazprom: "Wray works as a King & Spalding litigation partner and represents companies and individuals in a white-collar criminal and regulatory enforcement matters. King & Spalding has represented Russian companies including state gas monopoly Gazprom, according to its website. According to the website, the firm's energy practice also has represented businesses taking part in deals involving Russian entities including state-owned oil major Rosneft."

In other words, Wray is connected to all the right right-wing people. As we'll discuss at another time, part — or maybe most — of the Trump-Russia battle over sanctions may well be related to the U.S. attempt to corner the E.U. LNG (liquified natural gas) market for struggling U.S. suppliers and freeze out Russian suppliers and pipelines that would deliver Russian LNG to the West.

That may be good or bad, depending on whether you think U.S. military policy should protect U.S. fossil fuel corporations. But with Trump and Tillerson firmly in the "let Russia sell their natural gas" camp, you can be pretty sure which side Christopher Wray will be on — Trump's.

A Loyal Trumpie?

Do you think Trump will expect the same "loyalty" from Wray that he expected from Comey? Reuters again:
In written testimony released by the panel on Wednesday, Comey said Trump told him on Jan. 27 that "I expect loyalty," and in a Feb. 14 meeting asked him to back off from a probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn's ties with Russia. ... In a statement, Trump called Wray "an impeccably qualified individual" who will serve "as a fierce guardian of the law and model of integrity."
I think it would be foolish to think otherwise.

"Heroes of the Resistance"

And these fine members of the Senate Judiciary Committee voted (pdf) to send the nomination to the Republican-dominated Senate floor, making confirmation a bipartisan certainty:
  • Al Franken
  • Sheldon Whitehouse (again)
  • Amy Klobuchar
  • Patrick Leahy
  • Dick Durbin
  • Richard Blumenthal
  • Mazie Hirono
As CREDO Political Director Murshed Zaheed put it, "Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee just failed the resistance. ... Every Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee should be ashamed of themselves for rewarding Trump by rubber-stamping his pick to fill the role. If Senate Democrats don’t have the backbone to stand up to Trump’s dangerous regime they might as well go home and find a new line of work."

A New Leaf, or the Old One?

They never learn. How do they expect us to think they've turned a new leaf if they keep showing us the old one?

So we're back to the question we asked earlier — how much Democratic complicity is too much? It seems that Democratic senators are determined to help us find out.


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Trump Declares War-- On Transgender Men And Women Serving In The U.S. Armed Forces


Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the above early morning Trumpanzee Adderall-fueled tweet storm was the first time officials in the Pentagon heard of the Regime's bigoted-- and probably unconstitutional--  transgender service ban. Philip Bump, immediately writing for the Washington Post, reminded his readers that Trump’s argument against transgender soldiers echoes one used against gays, women and blacks
The question of costs-- presumably referring to procedures like gender reassignment surgery-- was addressed in a Rand report that estimated a 0.04- to 0.13-percent increase in military health-care expenditures should transgender people be allowed to serve. Trump has proposed a 10 percent bump in overall military spending, which could certainly absorb that increase.

That latter point, though, the “disruption” that integration of transgender troops would spur? That is an argument we’ve heard before. When gay Americans sought the right to serve in the military, that was a central argument against the change. When women sought combat roles, a central argument. When blacks were integrated into the military? Warnings about disruption.

In 1948, President Harry Truman moved toward fully integrating black Americans into the military. At the time, members of his own party spoke out against the plan. The Washington Post reported on the objections in June of that year.

Former Tennessee U.S. senator Tom Stewart proposed “allowing men in the services to choose whether or not they would serve in mixed units” to avoid offending the sensibilities of those determined to maintain segregation. U.S. Sen. Lister Hill of Alabama argued that integration would “seriously impair the morale of the Army at a time when our armed forces should be at their strongest and most efficient.” He called Truman’s move “unfortunate.”
Andrew Duck is primarying right-wing Maryland Democrat John Delaney. He served over 2 decades in the U.S. Army, 4 tours of duty in Bosnia and Iraq. He told us last night that "Trump’s tweet banning transgender personnel from service is wrong, both morally and militarily. Our Army needs to recruit and retain Soldiers who can shoot, move and communicate. It damages our military to reject high quality personnel solely because of their gender identity. Many of these Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines have been serving their country honorably, risking their lives for our Nation. Denying them the right to serve is just wrong." Wherever there is fear and ignorance, bigotry never seems to die... but today it's very much thriving inside the White House and throughout our government's executive branch. As far as I know, no members of the Trump Regime have resigned over this yet. Anger, though, exploded on social media where Trump announced his "policy."

Ted Lieu was an active duty Air Force officer and still serves as an Air Force Reserve Colonel today. He immediately communicated with his Los Angeles constituents about what's wrong with Trump's decision: "The President's exclusion of Americans who happen to be transgender from serving in the military is not based on facts, it is based on naked bigotry. I know because I served on active duty. The military doesn't care what your sexual orientation or identity is, or who you love. It cares about whether you can shoot straight and complete the mission. The President's discriminatory decision harms our military readiness for our volunteer-based military. Thousands of Transgender Americans are already in the military. Why? Because they are qualified, patriotic and willing to die for their country. There is zero evidence a Transgender sniper would be any less qualified than a gay sniper or a straight sniper. Today is a sad day for America."

New Hampshire progressive Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter ousted a Republican incumbent last year despite her district going for Trump over Hillary. She's not afraid of him and, a member of the House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Military Personnel, she was a leader in the successful 2009 effort to overturn the bigoted Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy and still prioritizes fighting for fairness for all American military personnel. Her response to Trump's tweet storm didn't pull any punches: "This morning’s tweets from the President are a disgraceful slap in the face to the thousands of transgender troops who are actively serving our country, and to all transgender Americans who aspire to serve. These troops are patriots who deserve to be appreciated for their service, not used as political props by their Commander in Chief. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I will fight to prevent President Trump’s ugly rhetoric against our troops from becoming reality, and to make sure these troops know that Americans appreciate their service and sacrifice." BOOM!

Vote Vets, the most active political action committee run by military veterans was out with a letter to their members immediately:
Sixty-nine years ago today, President Harry Truman issued an executive order desegregating the military, declaring "equal treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services." With the same stroke of a pen, he established the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and opportunity in the Armed Services.

This morning, on the anniversary of that historic step toward equality, our current president, Donald Trump, did the unthinkable: placed a ban on transgender Americans from serving "in any capacity in the U.S. Military."

Here is the truth: right now, there are up to 7,000 openly transgender service members on active duty, with thousands more in the reserves-- all of whom wake up having served with more distinction than Donald Trump could ever dream of. When Trump had the chance to serve, he received multiple deferments because of a "foot thing." He said that avoiding STDs was his own personal Vietnam.

Veterans, military family members, and civilian supporters have an important voice in this fight. Let's make it heard right now.

...This decision by the president puts our national security at risk. There are active units who depend on these decorated service members. But as much as that matters, imagine how it would feel this morning to be a trans service member who volunteered to defender their nation, only to be told that their service wasn't good enough... and to be told that by a man who never had the courage himself to serve.

Kristin Beck, a transgendered woman and former 20 year Navy Seal-- who I'd give odds could knock Trump cold with one hand tied behind her back-- once ran for Congress against corrupt Maryland Democrat Steny Hoyer. Yesterday she was challenging someone else. "Let's meet face to face and you tell me I'm not worthy," she suggested to Señor Trumpanzee, the serial draft-dodger and gross pervert. "Being transgender doesn't affect anyone else. We are liberty's light. If you can't defend that for everyone that's an American citizen, that's not right. Transgender doesn't matter. Do your service." Beck, a decorated former member of the elite Team 6, signed up for over a dozen tours of duty and served in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Iraq, while Trump claimed his version of military serve was an epic decade-long battle against syphilis, gonorrhea, genital herpes and all the other STDs he was spreading around New York in the 1970s.

Goal Thermometer Did you know that Blue America has an ActBlue page dedicated to progressive military veterans running for Congress? You can access it by tapping on the thermometer on the right. We reached out to the vets running for House seats this year in California, Kansas and Wisconsin, an all-star cast we are very proud to be supporting in their races against Darrell Issa, Ron Estes and Paul Ryan. Doug Applegate, a former Marine colonel: "As unusual, President Trump went on a twitter tirade this morning. If you don't use twitter you will be sure to see the tweets on the news. The difference about these bunch of tweets compared to those of recent times is that he attacked U.S. military personnel instead of mainstream media or the left. Today, our draft-dodging President banned the transgender community from serving in the US military. This is discriminatory, stupid, and an absolute disgrace. This makes our country weaker and dismantles some of the progress we have made within the LGBTQ community over the last 8 years. We will continue to fight for our trans brothers and sisters, and I thank you for your bravery and service to our country, one thing our President could never find the courage to do."

Randy Bryce is the progressive iron worker campaigning for the southeast Wisconsin congressional seat held by Paul Ryan. Unlike Ryan and unlike Trump, Bryce is a U.S. Army veteran who seems offended that Trump chose to use transgender service members as a political diversion. "As a veteran, I am offended by the President's insulting actions. He knows nothing about the military or what it means to serve. It's time Donald Trump start focussing on things he does know about-- if that includes anything other than golf and twitter rants-- rather than trying desperately to tear us apart. What makes us different is what makes us special. I was honored to serve in our Military along side some of the most diverse, interesting, hard working people I had ever come across. Donald Trump makes us less safe by today's actions, and he should be ashamed of himself."

Jim Thompson is the Blue America-backed progressive running for the Wichita-based 4th district congressional seat in Kansas-- and a U.S. Army veteran. He was tweeting up his own storm today... and then sent us this:
Wow. In yet another erratic early morning tweet, our draft-dodging President attacked the United States military and the brave men and women that stood up to defend their country. This morning, the President unilaterally decided he would no longer allow transgender servicemen and servicewomen to join or serve in our military. The reason for this sudden announcement remains officially unspoken; however, I think it’s blatantly obvious that, once again, President Trump is trying to distract from his terrible healthcare policies. After attacking Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska for voting against the Trumpcare bill, the President then proceeded to make his indefensible Twitter proclamation. He stated the following:
“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.

“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”
No, thank you Mr. President. Thank you for once again showing us your true colors as a bully with no guiding moral compass. You’ve shown you will attack anyone who falls in your sights in order to distract from your complete lack of legislative accomplishments. We know for a fact President Trump did not consult with the Pentagon, because they stated they never spoke with anyone at the White House about this sudden policy change.

I served in the United States Army Infantry with the understanding the Commander in Chief protected and defended the Constitution of the United States, just like I did. I always felt safe in the knowledge that Presidents Bush and Clinton kept the military’s best interests in mind. I no longer possess this same confidence in our current President given these statements-- and many others-- he issued both on the campaign trail and since his inauguration.

President Trump lacks any idea of what it means to serve anyone other than himself. He used his family's power, money and position to obtain five-- yes, five-- draft deferments during the Vietnam War. This allowed him to avoid serving in the military while others fought and died answering their country's call.

Ultimately, the test for military service is whether or not a person can do the job required of him or her. I side with Sen. John McCain on this issue. Lest we forget, President Trump attacked the Senator on the campaign trail for being a prisoner of war. Sen. McCain’s office released a statement today in response to the President’s tweets that reads as follows:
“The President’s tweet this morning regarding transgender Americans in the military is yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter.

“The statement was unclear. The Department of Defense already decided to allow currently-serving transgender individuals to stay in the military, and many are serving honorably today. Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving. There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military-- regardless of their gender identity. We should all be guided by the principle that any American who wants to serve our country and is able to meet the standards should have the opportunity to do so-- and should be treated as the patriots they are…” 
Sen. McCain’s words ring true. I cannot understand how the President can justify a policy that saps needed talent from our military based solely on a person’s gender identity. These men and women wrote blank checks to the United States military just like every other person serving. If someone is willing to step up and fight to protect American values and they possess the courage, bravery, and skills necessary to complete the mission, then nothing should stand in the way of them serving their country. Period.

Trump proves time and again that he wants the Presidency to serve his interests those of the rich elite first. This attack on transgender service-members is disgusting, indefensible, and just one more drop in the flood of bullying and bigotry emanating from the White House. He continues to create problems rather than solve them. I’ve grown sick and tired of it and I’m sure you have too. Please, join us in this fight and help us protect the rights of every American-- especially members of our military.
Ms. Foundation president Teresa Younger eloquently voiced the Martin Niemöller sentiments that all decent Americans are thinking today: "We cannot forget that many of the freedoms we hold dear as Americans can be stolen away in a moment by any president. Trump's cowardly decision to reinforce state-sponsored discrimination against transgender Americans is an affront to our country’s values and a tremendous blow to LGBTQ equality. We will not stand idly by as Trump rolls back our rights-- first for our Muslim sisters and brothers, now for our LGBTQ family. One can only wonder-- who will be next? The only American thing to do now is to lock arms against this takeover and systematic dismantling of our democracy and let the administration know that we won’t go back."

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