Democracy

Shutdown Follies: Business As Usual

Wait a minute. I thought the point of the conservative movement was to shrink the federal government down to the size where it would “drown in the bathtub.” Why are the Republicans so worried about keeping the government open and fear the public’s backlash?

Perhaps because, despite their disdain for government services and their blatant disregard for how many Americans interact with their government, they know deep down that blame for this shutdown cannot be placed on a Senator from New York whose name means nothing to most people.

In short, the Republicans and Donald Trump own this shutdown and they know it. Well, I can’t really be sure what the president actually knows, but I imagine that in the quiet of a commercial break while watching FOX News, someone has told the president that this doesn’t look good for him and that his reputation as a deal maker is what’s actually drowning in the bathtub.

Was this avoidable? Of course. All shutdowns are avoidable if both parties are willing to give something up. And it certainly looked like the discussions between the president and Senator Chuck Schumer were gathering some momentum yesterday afternoon with Schumer willing to say yes to some funding for the wall that I thought Mexico was supposed to pay for. In return, the president was willing to agree to a deal for the Dreamers.

What I imagined happened was that the immigration hard liners then spoke to the president and convinced him of the apparent folly of treating children who were brought here by there parents as nothing less than scoundrels and criminals. Especially the ones who went to college, have respectable lives and love this country every bit as much as an ignorant nativist like Steve King. Whom most people have never heard of. See what I mean?

Most people want a deal that allows the Dreamers to stay and most people do not want to spend $18 billion dollars on a wall that will do nothing to stop people from coming to this country illegally. Most people want responsible border security. Most people want the government to fully fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Most people want a strong military.

In a Congress where a $1.5 trillion dollar hole in the budget is not a problem, haggling over these programs amounts to a Mt. Washington of hypocrisy, full of violent winds, plunging temperatures and dangerous precipices. Add to that a blizzard of Republican accusations that shutting down the government amounts to a repudiation of the mandate of the people as demonstrated in the 2016 election, you know, the one where over 3 million more people voted for Hillary Clinton, and you have a situation where the GOP looks a bit hypocritical.

I have no doubt that there will be a deal soon, but it won’t solve any long term problems. That’s the problem with swamps. The mosquitoes will always find more blood and stagnant water.

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Constituents Laughed at Republican’s Defense of Donald Trump – Video

In her first 2018 “Coffee with Joni” meeting with constituents in Iowa, Junior Republican Senator, Joni Ernst, was asked about Donald Trump’s “supremacy talk” and its effect on the rest of the world. The question came after Trump called Haiti and African countries, “shithole countries,” and stated that he would prefer immigrants from “Norway.”

One Constituent asked Ernst about, “the damage that Trump is doing to our neighbors around the world with his white supremacy talk.” Ernst disagreed, saying that Trump “is standing up for a lot of the countries.”

“Can you name a few” the constituent asked.

“Norway.” Ernst replied.

You can’t make this stuff up

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Civil Rights Icon to Boycott Trump’s State of the Union Address

He has stood for what’s right his entire life. So naturally, Rep. John Lewis of Georgia will stand again later this month to boycott Donald Trump and his blatantly racist views when the Republican president delivers his State of The Union Address.

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) said Friday that he’ll skip President Trump‘s State of the Union address later this month over the the president’s Thursday comments on “shithole countries,” referring to Haiti, El Salvador and several nations in Africa.

“At this junction, I do not plan to attend the State of the Union,” the longtime Georgia congressman told MSNBC’s Katy Tur.

Lewis, a civil rights icon who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said he could not bear to be in the same room as Trump after the remarks  the president made in a private meeting with lawmakers on a potential immigration deal.

“I cannot in all good conscience be in a room with what he has said about so many Americans. I just cannot do it. I wouldn’t be honest with myself,” Lewis said.

Democrats should follow Lewis’ lead.

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Conservative Writer: Trump Called Friends to “Brag” About Calling Countries Shitholes

While Sunday was filled with sheep from Trump’s flock going on television and defending Donald Trump and his racist remarks, we are finding out now that Trump called some of his friends and bragged about calling primarily black occupied countries “shithole.”

A Conservative familiar with the call took to Twitter and told the world that Trump felt great about his comment, because he claimed his base would love him for it.

Two of the Republicans in the room claimed they “couldn’t recall” Trump’s “shithole” comment, although others in the room said Trump made the derogatory comment on multiple occasions. To these cowards, conservative writer, Erick Erickson wrote;

It’s weird that people in the room don’t remember Trump using that word when Trump himself was calling friends to brag about it afterwards. I spoke to one of those friends. The President thought it would play well with the base.

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The Race to the Bottom on Race

At this point, Dr. Martin Luther King’s spinning in his grave could be used as wind power to light up the western hemisphere.

President Trump’s comments at a meeting with Congressional leaders about immigration on Friday smashed through the moral floor that this administration has set ten stories below the White House and established yet another embarrassing standard in ugliness for an administration that struggles to betray any semblance of normality.

Those defending the president like to point out that he’s just saying things that people say around their dinner table, or that he’s giving a truthful version of events or that he’s not a racist because he contributed to African-American causes or has socialized with African-Americans.

This is hogwash. People are complicated and can present different faces to different crowds. I know anti-Semitic people, some of whom are relatives, who hug me when we meet and can share a meal with me without saying anything offensive. But when it comes to their true views, they are not shy about believing that what they say about the most vile stereotypes is absolutely true. They’re still ant-Semites, and it informs their worldview.

In addition, I attended Franklin High School, which was, and still is, one of the most integrated schools in New Jersey. I saw genuine tolerance, friendship and love in the hallways, classrooms and homes.  But I also saw racist stereotyping and denigration at events where one group, either whites or African-Americans, dominated. I saw racial violence that was caused by the same social problems we have today. I experienced Antisemitism.

Many people who harbor racist ideas and attitudes can hide them, but when they get angry or frustrated, as the president does every hour, then the emotional turmoil that lies beneath the skin bubbles up and you find out what a person truly believes. Plus, if people are speaking this way around their dinner tables–denigrating other countries and labeling their people–then we need to do a better job educating our citizens about respecting other cultures and people.

So it is with President Trump. He says racist things. Over and over. That leads me to believe that he is a racist in that he sees whiteness as a virtue, as superior, and the standard by which all other races should be measured. He has equated the tactics and motivations of white supremacists and those groups these white supremacists would like to obliterate. He has questioned the fairness of a Federal Judge based on the fact that the judge was a Mexican-American. He questioned whether the sitting president of the United States was, in fact, a citizen.

These are disgraceful, racist views and none of them is defensible if taken separately. Taken in the aggregate, they are an indictment of the president’s character and his ability to lead this country on this issue.

But as with most eruptions associated with this president, there is even more ignorance below the surface. His characterization of Haiti and African countries betrays the uninformed, but largely prevalent idea, that immigrants bring their former country’s culture and attitudes with them when they come to the United States. He’s saying that they must like the poverty and political dysfunction or economic stagnation or effects of past imperialism that infects their countries. That they cannot possibly become good Americans. That they take American jobs, marry American women, suckle at the American taxpayer’s teat.

This is a conversation we’ve had before. It was discriminatory then and it’s discriminatory now.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the offending countries were Italy, Russia, Greece and other European nations who were sending us Anarchists, Socialists, Jews and revolutionaries who were supposedly unsuited for life in a democracy. Before that, in the 1840s, Ireland sent us their starving people, who were referred to, incongruously, yet reflecting true native ignorance, as White Niggers. Miraculously, those tired, poor un-Americans were able to contribute mightily to the nation and enable it to become a beacon of hope and freedom.

The president’s ignorance betrays an unfortunately all-American, and increasingly all-Western world attitude that reinforces stereotypes and leads to more hatred. He long ago gave up any promise that he would be a leader who would unify the country and present a positive, forward message that we could rally behind. Instead, we are going backwards.

This Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, please make sure that you remind the world that we are a great people being led by a small man.

For more, go to www.facebook.com/WhereDemocracyLives or Twitter @rigrundfest

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Secretariat Was a Stable Genius Too

Can someone please tell me what the fuss is all about? Didn’t we know that a minority of people didn’t elect a statesman or someone with a deep and abiding knowledge of public affairs? Wasn’t it clear that Donald Trump was just a real estate guy with a TV show that glorified…himself and…his accomplishments based on…his ego? Is it not apparent that a minority of voters decided that they wanted a regular person who knew as much about the constitution as every other regular person and wanted someone who is as angry as they are about the what’s-so-complicated policies regarding immigration, taxes, health care, foreign affairs and the separation of powers?

Didn’t one of your parents ever say to you that big people talk about big ideas, while small people talk about…themselves?

The events of the past three days surprise me not. They are disturbing. They are frightening. And they were eminently avoidable. But Democrats have to be very careful about what accusations they make and what stories they gather themselves behind. Enough with the mental health updates or the talk of impeachment. These just make the left seem unhinged, screechy, petty and uninformed. And can someone please tell the New York Times that they don’t have to include a recap of every wrong thing the president has said over the past year in every story. I can’t even read the paper anymore.

The only objective is to win enough seats to take over the House and/or the Senate and to stop the GOP’s reactionary agenda before it can do any more damage to the country. That’s why the 2018 midterm elections are key. The Democrats need to mobilize their voters and those Trump voters who didn’t like Hillary, but would vote for a sensible Democrat who would protect their health care, truly lower their taxes, safeguard the environment, respect and improve international agreements and support reproductive rights.

It’s clear that the Republicans are not going to challenge the president on his behavior as long as he supports their program. But even that is beginning to fray. The order opening up the entire US coastline to drilling is such an outrageously terrible idea that even Governor Rick Scott, no friend to moderation, is against it, as is Chris Christie, who would be able to see the derricks from his beach chair.

There is also resistance to Jeff Sessions’ announcing that the Justice Department would begin acting against states that voted to legalize marijuana. Not that I’m a big fan of balancing state budgets on alcohol, tobacco, gambling and pot, but returning us to GiulianiTime.  The absolute last thing we need is for our criminal justice system to begin arresting low level drug users in states that have legalized weed. That would be a travesty. And here I thought the GOP was the party of states rights.

Democrats need to capitalize on these issues and get out their voters and those Democrats who sat out the 2016 election. And they’d better come up with an economic argument too because that will also be the key issue in November, as it usually is. That most people see the GOP tax cut as a sop to the wealthy will help, but seeing more money in your paycheck is a powerful argument to stay the course. Then again, cuts to social programs, as the Republicans promise, will certainly wake people up to the danger.

So cut the garbage about psychiatric evaluations and see this election through the correct lens: It’s politics, and all politics is local.

For more, go to www.facebook.com/WhereDemocracyLives or Twitter @rigrundfest

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More Lawmakers Question Trump’s Mental Abilities for POTUS Job

They didn’t have to go to these lengths to questions Trump’s mental ability or lack thereof, they could have listened to the majority of Americans and what they said in the presidential elections.

But no need to cry over spilled milk, Trump is now the president and I am pleased that more and more lawmakers are finally grasping the fact that Trump is missing a few screws in the head. Something’s loose up there!

Lawmakers concerned about President Donald Trump’s mental state summoned Yale University psychiatry professor Dr. Bandy X. Lee to Capitol Hill last month for two days of briefings about his recent behavior.

In private meetings with more than a dozen members of Congress held on Dec. 5 and 6, Lee briefed lawmakers — all Democrats except for one Republican senator, whom Lee declined to identify. Her professional warning to Capitol Hill: “He’s going to unravel, and we are seeing the signs.”

In an interview, she pointed to Trump “going back to conspiracy theories, denying things he has admitted before, his being drawn to violent videos.” Lee also warned, “We feel that the rush of tweeting is an indication of his falling apart under stress. Trump is going to get worse and will become uncontainable with the pressures of the presidency.”

Lee, editor of “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” which includes testimonials from 27 psychiatrists and mental health experts assessing the president’s level of “dangerousness,” said that she was surprised by the interest in her findings during her two days in Washington. “One senator said that it was the meeting he most looked forward to in 11 years,” Lee recalled. “Their level of concern about the president’s dangerousness was surprisingly high.”

The conversation about Trump’s fitness to serve is ongoing — and gaining steam after Trump’s tweet this week taunting the leader of North Korea with my-nuclear-button-is-bigger-than-yours bravado.

“Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” the president wrote online Tuesday night.

The tweet resuscitated the conversation about the president’s mental state and the 25th Amendment, which allows for the removal of the president from office if the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet deem him physically or mentally “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

The amendment is purposefully set up to require a high burden of proof, and there is no evidence that Vice President Mike Pence or the majority of Trump’s Cabinet have turned on him. But Trump’s Tuesday night nuclear taunt managed to cause alarm even within his own party.

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