Archive

February 27th, 2017

Trump will likely sell out his working-class white base. Here's how.

    For many months on the campaign trail, Donald Trump sent a clear message about his fellow Republicans: Ideologically, I'm not one of them. This wasn't just true on trade, but also on safety-net programs that protect, among others, low-income whites. President Trump, he said, won't let people die in the streets and will protect Medicare and Social Security from those heartless Paul Ryan types who are forever salivating at the chance to slash them to ribbons.

    But now The New York Times reports that congressional Republicans believe they will be able to get around this niggling problem. Republicans have seen Trump appoint people who want to downsize the safety net -- like Tom Price to oversee health care and Mick Mulvaney to shepherd the budget -- and they think Trump can be persuaded to forget about all that inconvenient campaign talk:

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The limits of promoting 'free speech'

    Speech is free, but not consequence-free. Milo Yiannopoulos managed to skirt this reality for years, but eventually it comes for us all.

    A quick recap for those who have not been following this sordid tale: MILO, as he's best known (all-caps his own), is an Internet personality and now-former Breitbart News senior editor best known for his glibly offensive remarks about minority groups, his hatred of "political correctness" and his support of Donald Trump.

    Many on the right hailed Milo as a much-needed iconoclast, one of the few brave enough to defend free speech, speak uncomfortable truths and push back against the simpering "social justice warriors" of the left. After his charmingly titled "Dangerous Faggot" speaking tour was met with protests at college campuses, including some - most notably at the University of California at Berkeley this month - that turned violent, he was invited to speak at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference.

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February 26th

Our warm February feels fabulous and frightening all at once

    Insanely warm February: We love you. We hate you.

    It's a little delicious, right? A record-breaking February is a fast-forward through the worst month of the year straight into park picnics and spring.

    But warm February is also a little off, like a haunted doll's unhinged smile.

    Gardeners are among the most freaked out by the weather.

    "It's frightening. I've never seen this before," said Scott Aker, head of horticulture at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Arboretum. In his 20 years on the job, he's witnessing a first.

    "The lilacs have broken bud," he said.

    This has already been a bizarre month, where thousands of high temperature records have been set across the country. It was 79 in Nebraska and 74 in Moline, Ill. Dallas has hit 80 degrees 11 times already.

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Not The Nation We Thought

    Few would have argued that this nation had reached the peak that we liked to think we inhabited but we most assuredly did not think we would be in the predicament we now find ourselves occupying.  The fall 2016 election took the lid off all the venom - venom we thought was under control. 

    We are anything but the "one nation under God" that we proclaim.  All those beautiful words in various documents we supposedly venerate appear to be just words with little meaning to so much of the population.

    It would be bad enough if only a small percentage fit in the category but there are enough that we find ourselves in near chaos. 

    There is little doubt that the man holding the highest office in the land, or for that matter the world, is without question the most unfit, the most unqualified to ever hold the office. Making matters worse is that he has surrounded himself with appointees equally uncommitted to running the nation for the benefit of the entire population.  He is representing a party that has abandoned its past principles to an exercise in power. 

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If abortion rights fall, LGBT rights are next

    We represent the organizations that won leading Supreme Court cases in recent years on sexual and reproductive rights: Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015, which secured legal protections for the marriage of same-sex couples, and Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt in 2016, which struck down Texas's attempt to use sham health regulations to shut down 75 percent of the state's abortion clinics.

    President Trump has taken sharp aim at the rights affirmed in those cases. During the campaign, he attacked the Obergefell opinion and repeatedly and unambiguously promised to put justices on the Supreme Court who would overturn Roe v. Wade. According to the president, it's the government, not each individual, that should hold the power to decide who can get married and whether women can terminate a pregnancy.

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Chris Christie's meatloaf humiliations

    This week, in the White House, Donald Trump forced Chris Christie to eat meatloaf, even though Christie did not necessarily want the meatloaf.

    There was a time when Christie was a man with autonomy and pride. There was a time when Trump was kind and his voice was soft and his words were inviting, and life was a Springsteen song and the song was exciting. There was a time, and then it all went wrong.

    Trump rewarded loyalty, they said, and he was loyal.

    He gave Trump his boughs and his branches and his leaves and the better part of his trunk. He brought him the severed head of Marco Rubio. He let Donald Trump sit on his worn-out stump.

    Christie had hopes. He was going to be vice president. And then, he was going to have a job in the White House. And then, he was going to head the transition.

    "There's the menu," Trump told the room, when Christie visited. "You guys order whatever you want. Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf."

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What's next for Trump's war with the media?

    Since facts tend to be very flexible things in the custody of President Donald Trump, one wonders what comes next with his self-declared "running war with the media."

    His constant cries of "fake news" to any news that does not blow him a kiss ratcheted up to a more threatening tone when he sent this Friday afternoon tweet:

    "The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!"

    With that he escalated from mere trolling to the ominous bombast of a tinpot dictatorship. A cooler head, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, assured us that at least he did not view the media as the enemy. Still, I was left wondering what his boss has in mind.

    That's our reality show president. Remember, during last year's election campaign, how delighted he was by the unauthorized and unlawful leaks that came from hacks of the Democratic National Committee emails?

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Wall Street Sodbusters

    I love the names: Bobcat Farm, Golden Eagle Ranch, Long Prairie, Ten Mile Farm. They conjure up Americana, the old homestead, and our rich rural culture.

    Less bucolic, however, is the fact that all those farms are part of a massive Wall Street investment scheme called Farmland Partners Inc. It’s run by a couple of slicks trained in mergers and acquisitions as executives at the investment powerhouse Merrill Lynch.

    Rather than sodbusters, Farmland Partners are taxbusters. They’re using a legalistic plow called the Real Estate Investment Trust, or REIT, to get enormous tax breaks to subsidize their scheme.

    With this special subsidy, the partners have attracted hundreds of millions of dollars from investors to buy up farms and ranches. They now own 295 farm properties covering 144,000 acres in 16 states.

    Of course, the Wall Street plowboys don’t soil their own soft hands by actually farming. No, no — the syndicate hires tenant farmers to do the sweaty work of plowing, planting, and nurturing the crops.

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Trump wants to reduce crime. But he doesn't understand good police work.

    President Donald Trump declared in executive orders this month that the federal government would try to "reduce crime in America" and that the White House was opposed to violence against law enforcement officers.

    Our criminal justice system works mostly at the local and state level, so the executive branch of the federal government is limited in its influence over local police. Crime reduction does not happen through fearmongering or federal fiat. And violence against police is illegal. But although the substance of these orders is near zero, their very existence reveals a shift in focus under the Trump administration.

    Reducing crime is a fabulous wish, and a federal focus on crime reduction was curiously absent in the previous administration. But Trump has little knowledge of the issues at hand. His rhetoric about the perils of cities - which relied on false statements about murder rates - illustrates that the devil, as always, is in the details.

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Trump Is Bad for Water and Puppies

    And now, things that are Really Happening in the world of Donald Trump.

    We bring you this list as a public service. It’s easy to be distracted by all the strange/contradictory/awful things the president says. For instance, a lot of people were stunned when he responded to a question about anti-Semitic attacks in the United States by citing his winning numbers in the Electoral College. Then, when the question came up again and he yelled at the reporter who asked it.

    Much, much later, Trump did read a statement denouncing racism and anti-Semitism. But even that seemed ... worrisome. It’s not just that an elected official should know how to answer that question without a lot of prep work. Everybody should know how to answer that question. Your 3-year-old nephew. Your Uber driver. Uncle Fred who gets drunk at Thanksgiving. Nobody gets to ask for a script.

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