Trump’s chief economic advisor tells the American people that Republican tax cuts created so much growth that the deficit is falling. They didn’t. And it’s not.

Again, I know it doesn’t do any good to point out the blatant lies of the right, or speculate as to how certain things might have been treated differently by the press under previous administrations, but I felt compelled to share the above video of Donald Trump’s top economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, the Director of the National Economic Council, who, yesterday morning, emphatically told viewers of the Fox Business Network that, “The deficit… is coming down, and it’s coming down rapidly.”

The problem is, this isn’t even remotely true, by any standard.

Here’s a clip from today’s Washington Post explaining the fact that the deficit, thanks in large part to Republican tax cuts for the super-wealthy, is actually rising.

…The deficit in fiscal year 2017 ($665 billion) was bigger than it was in fiscal year 2016 ($587 billion). And the GOP has now passed its big trillion-dollar tax-cut package and ramped up spending in other areas. The result? The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects that the deficit will climb to $1 trillion annually by 2020 — a number not hit since the recession spurred Congress to pass an economic stimulus package in 2009.

Even if you consider the deficit not as a raw number but as a percentage of the broader economy — which is probably a better measure, given inflation — it is expected to grow and then stay steady in the coming years, per CBO…

And here’s the actual chart from the CBO, showing the rate at which the deficit is growing.

Personally, I don’t expect much from Kudlow. He, after all, was the author of the late 2007 National Review article titled “Bush Boom Continues,” which argued that we shouldn’t pay attention to the “doom and gloom from the economic pessimistas.” There would be no recession, he said at the time, only continued growth. All we had to do, he said, was keep cutting taxes and deregulating industry. He, of course, was wrong. The bottom did fall out, and a recession ensued.

And he’s wrong here… Actually, I take that back… He’s not wrong here. He’s lying here. He knows full well that the deficit isn’t coming down. He knows that it’s rising. But, with the midterm elections coming in November, he’s been given the task to paint a rosy picture of America’s economic future. And that’s what he’s doing… facts be damned. He is lying. And his lies are then being packaged and distributed by the right wing propaganda network that we know as Fox News… the same group that keeps telling us how many regular Americans got huge bonuses and pay raises as a result of the $1 trillion Republican tax cut, even though most of us can’t name a single person who personally benefited. This is the world we now live in. It would have been absolutely unthinkable even two years ago, but here we are.

Oh, and speaking of the lies being perpetuated by Fox Business on behalf of the administration, here’s one of my all time favorites.

Posted in Economics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 425 Comments

David Simon: “Whatever resentments were in the shooter’s head, the US President stood ready to bolster and validate it.”

This afternoon, a white male gunman outfitted with a shotgun and several smoke grenades, walked into the newsroom of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, and began firing. By the time he was taken into custody by the police, five people were dead, and many more were seriously injured. The man arrested by police has since been identified as Jarrod W. Ramos. From what little information is publicly available, it appears as though Ramos had filed an unsuccessful defamation case against the paper in 2012, after a story ran about his having been arrested for harassing a woman that he’d attended high school with several years previously.

While it’s unclear at this point whether or not the shooter may have been influenced by recent statements made by prominent Republicans about the press, it would appear from his twitter account that Ramos, at least on one occasion, sided with Donald Trump against the press. It would also appear that Ramos has a long history of projecting violence, referring to himself, among other things, as someone who is “making corpses of corrupt careers and corporate entities.” [As an aside, one wonders how a man with a history of stalking, and a harassment conviction, was able to obtain a firearm. I guess we have the NRA to thank for that.]

While I suspect it’s unlikely that a definitive link can be proven, I think it’s worth noting that today’s murders happened just two days after white nationalist provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was quoted in the Observer as saying, “I can’t wait for the vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down on sight.” And, of course, all of this is happening against the backdrop of the Trump administration, where it’s not uncommon to see the President of the United States tweeting out messages to his rabid base referring to journalists as “the enemy of the American people.”

Whether or not the shooter was influenced by the heightened, violent rhetoric of the Trumpist right, I think would be impossible to argue that what we’re seeing from the administration it’s helpful. As journalist David Simon, who lost two friends in today’s shooting, just said, “Whatever resentments were in the shooter’s head, the US President stood ready to bolster and validate it.”

And maybe this is why, when asked about the today’s murders by members of the press, Donald Trump chose to ignore them and just keep walking. [Believe me, if it had been a Muslim terrorist, he would have offered an opinion.]

Oh, for what it’s worth, some seem to think today’s murders might be tied not to the rhetoric of the anti-free press right, but the “incivility” of Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who, a few days ago, called for her fellow Americans to continue the nonviolent public harassment of Trump officials in public. Here’s a quote from Fox News propagandist Sean Hannity.

So, just to sum up… Two days ago, Trump supporter Milo Yiannopoulos was quoted in the Observer as saying, “I can’t wait for the vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down on sight.” And, today, with five journalists having been murdered outside of DC, Sean Hannity had the audacity to blame not Yiannopoulos, or Donald Trump, who has referred to journalists as “enemies of the people,” but the incivility of Maxine Waters, who said that American citizens were within their rights to publicly challenge the Republicans responsible for separating infant immigrants from their families along the southern border. If you’re looking for an example to sum up the insanity of our times, this is it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 55 Comments

Kennedy announces his retirement, opening the door for yet another Trump Supreme Court Justice

My daughter just happened to be at the Supreme Court this afternoon, with a group of about 60 girls from Detroit and Ypsilanti, when word came out that Justice Anthony Kennedy, after serving 30 years on the high court, would be retiring, giving Donald Trump yet one more opportunity to remake the Judicial branch in his image, and thereby throwing into question, among other things, whether or not American women will continue to have control over their own reproductive health. I don’t know, at the age of 13, that she completely appreciated the magnitude of the situation, or what it might mean to her, or her friends, all of whom are headed into high school next year, but the site of her standing there, smiling on the steps of the high court, knowing what is likely on the horizon, made me incredibly sad.

And I wasn’t just sad because of what this might mean for my daughter’s future. I was sad because I knew that I’d let her down by not fighting hard enough when, back during the previous administration, Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans, arguing that Obama shouldn’t be able to nominate a Supreme Court Justice in an election year, blocked the confirmation of Merrick Garland. At the time, McConnell said, “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” and, perhaps thinking that Clinton would likely beat Trump, we allowed him to get away with it. We allowed the Republicans to block the nomination hearing of Merrick Garland for 269 days, until Trump took office, at which point they installed the far-right Neil Gorsuch, who has already begun making his presence known, casting deciding votes in a number of 5-4 decisions against unions, women and people of color. And, now, unless the Democrats can mount an effective opposition, it’s just going to get worse.

In saner times, we might be able to effectively argue, “Remember how you said that a President couldn’t nominate a Justice during an election year…”, but I don’t think that’s going to work here. Republicans don’t care about the perception of hypocrisy. They care about winning. And no matter how many times we remind McConnell that he blocked the Garland nomination for 269 days, arguing that it was too close to an election, and how it’s now only 132 days until the next election, it’s not going to matter. Simply put, they don’t give a fuck.

Here, for those of you who can’t remember, is one of McConnell’s tweets justifying the blocking of Garland.

When conservative Chief Justice John Roberts was confirmed by the Senate in September, 2005, he said the following. “I do think that it is a jolt to the legal system when you overrule a precedent,” he said. “Precedent plays an important role in promoting stability and evenhandedness.” And that is exactly what’s happening here. They set a precedent that Justices cannot be confirmed during an election year, and now they’re going to act as though that had never happened, further whittling away at the democratic underpinnings of our once great nation.

So now we wait… wondering whether or not Trump will do the unthinkable and nominate the likes of Fox News propagandist Jeanine Pirro, as the Koch brothers announce that they’re ready to invest over $1 million in a campaign to confirm Trump’s candidate, assuming he or she is as pro-business and anti-worker as Gorsuch. [Speaking of Pirro, Donald Trump Jr. just said that he thought she’d be “pretty awesome” in the job.] And we cross our fingers and hope that, when the time comes, Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski once again find their backbones and stand up to Donald Trump on behalf of women everywhere, keeping him from getting the 51 Senate votes he needs for confirmation. I know it’s unlikely, but, really, as we have a minority in the Senate, and he only needs 51 votes, it’s the only hope that we have.

One last thing… To all of you who voted for Jill Stein in 2016, or refused to vote at all, as you just couldn’t bring yourselves to do the unthinkable and vote for Hillary Clinton, as you felt that she and Donald Trump were effectively the same, this is exactly the scenario that we, your thinking friends, warned you about. But you voted your consciences. And, now, as a result, we’re looking at the very real possibility of a Roe v. Wade repeal. Good work, progressive purists. You wanted to shake things up, and now you’ve gotten what you wished for… You’ve got real, significant change… A Muslim ban. Infant detention centers. The rollback of preexisting condition protections. The end of legal abortion… I know it’ll make you sad to hear this, but this is your doing as much as it is the Trumpists among us. The good news, however, is that you can still redeem yourselves. You are still alive, and you have agency. You can, right this very minute, sign up to help Democratic candidates, you can donate money, and you can register people to vote. You can get involved, and bust your asses to get back on the right side of history. While it’s not going to deter what’s being done to the Judicial branch right now, with your help, we can retake the Congress in November and start to… dare I say it… make America great again. Or at least somewhat less terrifying.

Oh, and here’s one last thing to note. I’m sure it doesn’t mean anything, but it’s being reported that Justice Kennedy’s son was one of Trump’s “most trusted” private bankers a Deutsche Bank for a period of 12 years… years in which, coincidentally, that bank was involved in Russian money laundering.

Posted in Civil Liberties, Mark's Life, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

You can’t argue that Obama imprisoned child immigrants while also arguing that he had an open border policy

I’d like to preface this post by saying that, as a result of economic insecurity, climate change, authoritarianism, and any number of other factors, the United States will almost certainly see more immigration over the coming decades, as an increasing number of people, quite understandably, begin gravitating toward more stabile, less dangerous countries. And, as a nation that has historically been more welcoming to immigrants than most, and very much dependent upon the relatively inexpensive labor of undocumented workers, it’s not going to be an easy issue for us to navigate. Up until now, though, it hasn’t been an insurmountable problem. In fact, illegal boarder crossings, contrary to what you might have heard, have been decreasing for the past several decades. With that said, though, things were already beginning to happen during the Obama administration, demonstrating just how complex things were becoming. As you may recall, back in 2014, when unaccompanied minors began coming over the border in increasing numbers from Latin America, the Obama administration made the decision to detain the children in question, locking them up in government facilities, prompting formal complaints from the ACLU. [These complaints referenced children in cages.]

So, no matter how thoughtful or compassionate a presidential administration might be, there are going to be difficult decisions to be made, and mistakes will happen. And, as much as I may rail against Trump for wanting to invest our nation’s resources in a ridiculous wall, which no one thinks will be effective, instead of in things like education, health care, and dealing in a meaningful way with the global root causes of migration, I agree that immigration reform is necessary. [Regardless of what Trump might say, I’ve yet to hear a single Democrat in elected office advocate for an open border, or advocate on behalf of MS-13 gang members.] We need a clear, fair, and transparent immigration system (unlike the one that delivered Melania Trump an “Einstein” visa for being an underwear model while keeping out people from what Tump has deemed “shithole countries,” who are quite literally fighting for their lives every day), built upon a solid legal foundation that respects our dedication to human rights and equality. This, of course, is not something that we have today, as ICE agents indiscriminately round up our neighbors, while our President is saying things like, we should immediately deport undocumented workers with “no judges or court cases.” [This, of course, would be unconstitutional, as the Supreme Court held in 1982 that “aliens, even aliens whose presence in this country is unlawful, have long been recognized as ‘persons’ guaranteed due process of law by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.“]

The bottom line is that this is an incredibly complicated problem that doesn’t lend itself to easy answers. Demanding “zero tolerance” and “no judges” does not magically make the problem go away. As we’ve seen over the past several weeks, it just makes things exponentially worse, as families are torn apart, children are lost in the system, and the rule of law further erodes in the face of authoritarianism. But, as it seems to be working with Trump’s racist base, this is what we get. As Trump reportedly said a few days ago about his administration’s family separation policy, “My people love it.” And it’s absolutely true. There’s a sizable population in our country that, like our president, aren’t capable of appreciating complexity, and just want easy answers. They don’t want to think about how easy it would be to scale a border wall, or throw things over it, or tunnel beneath it. They don’t want to think of all the ways it would be an ineffective wasted of money. They just want to chant, “Build-The-Wall,” thinking that it’ll somehow magically take us back to the 1950s, when everyone had jobs, no one’s kids were overdosing on opioids, and the only people on television were happy and white.

I know it’s not exactly helpful to point out the hypocrisy and stupidity of Donald Trump and his followers, but I’m struck today my how confusing the messaging on the right is about the border, especially as it relates to the Democrats.

Countless Americans who have died in recent years would be alive today if not for the open border policies of this administration,” Trump lamented in September 2016. And it’s something that he’s continued to beat Democrats up on since. Just last week, as you might recall, he attacked his detractors in Congress as “extremist open-border Democrats,” and argued that the party wanted “illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country, like MS-13,” because they see MS-13 gang members as “potential voters!” And this message, as you probably saw, was then echoed across the Republican right by the likes of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who shared the following racist post on Twitter.

At the same time, though… and this is what I find so interesting… the same folks on the right have began arguing that Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy toward immigration, which dictated that children be forcefully removed from their parents at the border and held separately, was actually the work of Barack Obama. [As stated above, the Obama administration did detain unaccompanied minors, but, outside of extreme cases, where health concerns or other factors dictated, they did not separate children from families.] In fact, as we discussed some time ago, when Donald Trump was forced to sign an executive order stopping his administration’s policy of child separation, his daughter actually took to Twitter to sing his praises for standing up on behalf of these poor children. [By the way, according to Senator Diane Feinstein, over 2,000 children taken from their parents at the border have yet to be reunited with their families.] And it’s a narrative that I’m seeing more and more of on the delusional right… Here for instance, is something that was sent to me a few days ago on Twitter, from a fellow who referred to me as “libtardo.”

So the heroic Donald Trump, undeterred by the excruciating pain of his bone spurs, finally stood up to the Obama administration Deep State and set these abducted children free. And it isn’t just anonymous internet conspiracy theorists spreading these lies. Amy Kremer, co-founder of Women for Trump, was just on CNN yesterday, telling Victor Blackwell how Obama had started the child separation policy. Obama Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson, she said, had admitted as much, she assured viewers. Knowing that this wasn’t the case, though, Blackwell asked the folks in the control room to find the video of Johnson that Kremer noted, which they promptly did. And, guess what? He’d said nothing of the kind. [Fast forward to the 4:20-mark, if you’re short on time.]

We live in an age of short attention spans and rapidly growing fear, in which a huge percentage of the American population are too stupid and gullible to carry out the work required of citizens living in a democracy. Thanks to them, we elected someone for entertainment value, and, now, as a result, for all intents and purposes, we’re living inside of a reality television program, subjected to the chaos, racism and lies of man more interested in adulation and the accumulation of power than in the welfare of the people he’s sworn to serve. And, thanks to numerous judicial appointments and a stolen Supreme Court seat, this evil we know as Trumpism is gaining a foothold that will be with us for generations. [News came out today that the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, had sided with Trump on his Muslim travel ban.] I wish I could tell you that we’re going to be able to stop it, but every day it seems a little less likely, with gerrymandering cases being thrown out of court, people of color being scapegoated as “animals” “infesting” America, and members of the right screaming about how they’re the one who are being victimized. Speaking of which, today Speaker of the House Paul Ryan demanded that Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters… who our racist president calls “low IQ” Maxine Waters… apologize for saying that people should “harass” members of the administration in public. Ryan, it’s curious to note, did not, however, ask for an apology from his fellow Republican Congressman Steve King, who recently retweeted something from a self-described Nazi sympathizer.

So that’s the America we live in. The black woman who Donald Trump refers to as having a “low IQ,” is asked to apologize for her lack of civility, while Steve King, an older white man, is allowed to spew racist garbage unchecked.

Personally, I’m beyond giving a fuck about civility. I’m well beyond caring about the politics of whether or not something we do on our side may turn off independent voters. If the owner of The Red Hen wants to kick presidential propagandist Sarah Huckabee Sanders out of her restaurant, I don’t care. Yes, I know that it’ll be all that Fox News talks about for a week, and that it’ll help them avoid confronting the racism and cruelty of Donald Trump’s border policies, but what does it fucking matter? They’re never going to be honest. There is no level of appeasement that would make them stop. It reminds me of a headline I saw yesterday urging the Jews to be more civil toward the Nazis.

I’m also beyond worrying about Nazi analogies, by the way. I don’t care if they hurt your feelings, or if you feel they’re unhelpful. Again, I’d encourage you to consider the fact that the ruling party in our country, which is now run a conman with anti-democratic tendencies who has started saying “I don’t want judges, I want ICE” at rallies, and talking about the “breeding” of immigrants in our country, stole a seat on the Supreme Court, and is now in the process of rolling back civil rights for people color, all while talking about their own victimization. If there’s a better analogy than the Nazi Party, I’m not aware of it.

Posted in Civil Liberties, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 58 Comments

Ever feel like drowning America in the bathtub? Here’s the plan.

As hard as it might be to believe, the above image comes from an actual report issued by White House. The report, titled Delivering Government
Solutions in the 21st Century
, lays out the Trump administration’s aggressive plan for reorganizing (a.k.a. shrinking) the United States government.

[Can you imagine what would have happened if the Obama White House had issued a report quoting a fictional American… let’s call her like Michelle from Delaware… arguing, “Let Obama do what he wants,” or “Let Obama govern like a community organizer”?]

As for what’s in this report, it’s essentially the wish list of the Republican right, as so honestly articulated back at the turn of the century by “small government” jihadist Grover Norquist, the founder and president of the Americans for Tax Reform. “I don’t want to abolish government,” Norquist stated in a May 25, 2001 interview with NPR’s Morning Edition. “I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” And that’s essentially what Trump and his budget director, Mick Mulvaney, have presented in this plan, which was clearly written with the input of wealthy Republican donors like Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers. It’s a detailed roadmap showing how, through the drastic consolidation federal departments, the dramatic rollback of regulation, and the elimination of social safety net programs, the U.S. government can be weakened to the point that, when held below the surface of the water, it can no longer fight back.

When asked about the plan late last week by reporters, Donald Trump laughed, saying that it was “extraordinarily boring,” the suggestion being that our time might be better spent elsewhere. And, if you read it, you can see why he’d rather that people talk about anything else. It’s a plan that would, quite literally, lead to the deaths of American citizens. And I say that without hyperbole.

Here, to give you some sense of what you’ll find within the plan, are a series of tweets from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Laurie Garrett.

While it may be unlikely that a bill like this would make it through Congress, we need to take notice, as this is clearly their plan for the future. This, assuming things continue to go their way, is where the Republicans want to take America. So don’t be distracted by the chaos. Don’t spend too much time fretting over the fact that Donald Trump is hanging out with Corey “Womp Womp” Lewandowski just a few days after the latter mocked a 10-year-old illegal immigrant with Down syndrome who had been separated from her mother at the border, or pissed that Stephen Miller, the White House author of the child separation policy, is out there in the world, attempting to eat Mexican food. None of it is real. These are all just attempts on the part of the administration to get us talking about anything other than their judicial appointments, their increasingly cruel and racist policies, and these “extraordinarily boring” government restructuring plans that they’s started floating. This is always been their endgame, and now, with the Trump administration headed toward impeachment, they intend to give it their best shot.

Posted in Civil Liberties, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 168 Comments

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