Posted by: Bruce Allen | August 15, 2018

Mueller: The People Have Spoken

© Bruce Allen       August 15, 2018


Even though the reasons for it are diametrically opposed, events in the Russia investigation have coalesced along with public opinion on the right and on the left. There is, today, a bi-partisan consensus that the results of the Russia investigation be made public prior to November 6. This is big.

Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election probably has 99% of what he wants in order to proceed, and has for awhile. After well over a year with the best attorneys and investigators on the planet and an unlimited budget Mueller has plenty. Zillions of pages of records. Scads of recordings and taps. Testimony from immunized witnesses. Offshore and oligarch bank stuff. And the goods on Russia, the reason for the ongoing blackmailing of Trump by Putin: undeniable evidence that Trump’s win in 2016 was facilitated by the Russians, mostly through social media.

Conventional wisdom, until recently, held that once Mueller was within, say, a 60-day window, he would hold off delivering a report or further indictments until after the midterms, in order to avoid being accused of trying to influence the outcome with an “October surprise.”

You know, like the one Jim Comey delivered in 2016 that changed history.

Instead, by a wide margin among Republicans, Democrats and Independents, some 70% of Americans want Mueller to deliver BEFORE the election, thereby requesting him, through their elected representatives, to expose felonious behavior amongst the Trumpistas, including the family, in time to have a discernible impact on the midterm elections.

Mueller must be thrilled. There will be nothing to prevent him from continuing his investigation into 2019; he can deliver an Interim Report in October, per his upcoming direction from the House and the Senate who are, it seems, intent upon throwing the Special Counsel into the briar patch. He will then be in a position to request additional time, after the House has flipped, to continue his investigation to its conclusion. Were it the Clintons, that would be about seven years.

I want to watch Mueller go ahead and hang a subpoena on the President. Indict Don Jr., Jared, Ivanka, Stone, Cohen, Miller, et al. This kind of timing is known as “malicious obedience,” an art form practiced by the passive aggressive. This is Mueller saying, in effect, “Look. I would have been happy to wait until December to deliver these conclusions, but both the House and the Senate were very clear in demanding that our team deliver prior to November. I argued against it at the time. I lost the argument.”

It’s being mid-August, the Republicans already appear to be on their way to losing the House. This is before Mueller buries the world in subpoenas and indictments. All of these mutts running for Congress and Senate who have shamelessly hitched their wagons to Trump will have yet another front to defend, this one making hash of the entire “witch hunt” facade.

This has never been a witch hunt; these things rarely are. Everything that Trump has said about the investigation, since it started, has been a lie. Over 70% of Americans want to hear about these lies prior to voting for representatives and senators in November.

August recess. September. October. Election. 60 days to take the House and, if at all possible, the Senate. 60 days during which Mueller is going to drop his bomb, Cohen is going to sing, Manafort is going to get convicted at least once, and even Fox News won’t be able to cover it up. It’s going to happen. The days of the Trump administration are drawing to a close. The world needs to prepare for Mike Pence.

Posted by: Bruce Allen | August 10, 2018

Day of Reckoning Looms for Republicans

© Bruce Allen    August 10, 2018

Broken_GOP image

When the pillars of the Republican party decided to get in bed with Donald Trump two years ago, they did so knowing there would probably be a price to pay down the road. They largely abandoned most of their historic principles, held their noses, and went all in with the ludicrous “Trump Agenda,” (No Turbans or Greasers and Give Me All the Money) which changes from day to day anyway. During these two years of rank hypocrisy and amateurish political cowardice, most Democrats have been awaiting the day these hacks would get their feet held to the fire.

That day is approaching. November 6th. Mark it on your calendar.

The recent spate of primary and special elections makes it pretty clear to almost everyone (except Trump) that the Republican party is going to experience an epic fail in November. The deafening loss of the House is all but assured. Maintaining their razor-thin margin in the Senate looks probable, but far from certain. Governorships are in play, many of them playing poorly for the GOP. What is becoming clear is that the Trump brand of support is essential during primaries but will likely be toxic in the general. Which is where it gets uncomfortable to be a Republican politician. And which is where Democrats start flexing their imaginations—this could be good.

Trump and his insatiable ego—really, the guy has a mental disease. Look at his tweet about the Ohio congressional primary—can now be clearly seen to have a divisive effect upon Republicans and a unifying effect among Democrats. If there’s a “Democrats for Trump” movement somewhere it’s keeping a pretty low profile. Amongst Republicans, there are two camps: Trump’s base, and the rest of them, breaking about 40/60. 40% will only vote for Trump Republicans; 60% would rather not. There won’t be much crossover in November or in 2020.

Republicans losing the House represents an existential crisis for the Trump administration. Committee chairs switch, hearings start getting scheduled, witnesses called, subpoenas issued. No more “tax reform,” no more hacking away at the social safety net. Devin Nunes, Douchebag of the Week, is right. Losing the House will put Trump on Resignation Island, all by his lonesome. Watch Don Jr. go to prison? Probably not. Even the current loathsome Supreme Court cannot take on the mantel of brazenly protecting Trump in such a critical time for the Constitution.

I mean, they’ve still got the pathetic Mike Pence on deck. Lose Agent Orange, pick up an evangelical stuffed shirt—that’s a small win for America.

There is far more enthusiasm amongst Democrats than at any time in recent memory, certainly 2016. Women and minorities are raising money and attracting young voters. They have appealing issues to argue—healthcare, immigration, tax “reform,” the Culture of Corruption, gerrymandering, etc. No Hillary factor to defend. The Democratic party is attracting motivated suburban voters, 59% of which disapprove of Trump in recent polling. And for Democrats it’s only going to get better in the weeks until the election.

Trump tariffs will have started to bite, leading to layoffs and higher prices for a variety of consumer goods and raw materials. Group health plans for many Americans will reveal significant 2019 health cost increases and coverage reductions during open enrollment in October. Mueller is going to drop dozens of indictments and may subpoena Trump to testify before a grand jury. Korea could heat up again in an instant. Manafort will get convicted twice, Cohen will get charged, cop an immediate plea, and begin singing like a bird. Bond yield curves indicate a recession is around the corner, economic numbers will deteriorate. The national debt is climbing rapidly; shutdown has been promised by Himself. And Republicans around the country will have to defend themselves against commercials, produced themselves, in which they can be seen kowtowing to this amoral racist buffoon.

There is always the possibility the Democrats in their eternal and generally futile quest for unity will find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. But, thanks entirely to Trump, what we’re seeing is the Blue Wave building offshore, with most Democrats supporting other Democrats, left, right and center. By the time the wave hits the beach in November, Republicans from California to Maine will be getting scattered across the sand; low turnout caused by marked disunity having been the last straw. What’s the over/under on House turnover? +60? +70?

Serves them right. This is what happens when you sell your soul.

Keep tweeting, Mr. President.

Posted by: Bruce Allen | July 19, 2018

We Have Met the Enemy…

The beginning of the famous line from the cartoon Pogo which concludes, “and he is us.” We have been looking at the condition of American politics in the Trump age from the wrong vantage point. The wonder is not that he got elected. The wonder is that his brand of politics has become mainstream in the Republican party.

As a highbrow—one whose education exceeds his intelligence—I have voiced, over the years, the politically inastute observation that 90% of Americans are, in a word, hill jacks, that the vast majority of Americans are uninformed, under-informed, mis-informed, on their phones or simply too busy surviving to give a rip about existential issues such as climate change, income inequality, human trafficking, global corruption, etc. That, in our hearts, most of us are racists, belief-driven rather than knowledge-driven, paranoid, vengeful, and dishonest. Of this 90%, fully half are capable of walking into a voting booth, saying, “What the f**k lol” and pushing the Trump lever. This “Remnant” of the U.S. population, maybe 40%, is what shapes the current political landscape.

The question, after a year and a half of a guy George Will refers to as “this sad, embarrassing wreck of a man,” is not how we got stuck with an inarticulate, immoral con man in The White House. The question is, “Why is there any reason to believe that a blue wave of any significance can occur in November when the water is so red?”

There is a reason we are seeing more and more racism, divisionism, and veiled coddling (“tax reform”) of the rich at the expense of the poor. These practices lie at the heart of the messages used by politicians to appeal to the base instincts of the body politic. “Your tax dollars are going to inner city welfare cheats. Business is being strangled by job-crushing environmental regulations. Muslims are radical fundamentalist terrorists. Obamacare is a disgrace. What we need is to construct a new Fortress America. Our military forces are poorly equipped. Jobs depend upon cutting regulations, especially on big banks. Etc.”

These positions are simply wrong, so wrong, yet resonate so strongly for The Remnant because they’re what they believe and want to hear. “Dog-whistle politics” encourages The Remnant to think, “Hell yes, cut those welfare cheats off at the knees!” “Most of that environmental crap is just bureaucratic BS.” “Black people just aren’t as smart as us white people.” “If America ain’t secure, what’s the point of doing anything?” “These guys put their lives on the line every day and need the best we can provide them, to torch them ragheads once and for all. ”The banks know what they’re doing. They got a little carried away about ten years ago, but they’ve learned their lesson.”

Ultimately, we get the politicians we deserve. As a nation, we’ve believed (since WWII) that the USA is the dominant military, commercial and moral force on the globe. We fail to recognize what is happening today at the hands of the Trumpistas. A slow motion disaster. Our prominent role in the world is shrinking right before our eyes, courtesy of a Republican president who appears to be getting blackmailed by Vladimir Putin and whose resulting egregious behaviors go uncensored by his fellow Republicans on the Hill, other than those retiring on a fat pension rather than having to buddy-up with the repugnant leader of their party in the midterms. Just sayin’.

The politicians we deserve are gaily leading people in the wrong direction on Trump’s coattails in response to pretty much all of the existential threats facing the country. But The Remnant doesn’t know and doesn’t care. The Remnant figures we’ll all run out of oil at the same time, might as well buy a big Dodge pickup to drag the boat. The Remnant cranks up the AC in the summer and the heat in the winter and doesn’t care. Most of the remnant will be dead, one way or another, within 30 years and won’t have to deal with the consequences. That their kids and their grandkids will, they believe, is just the way it goes. They’ll probably fix it by then anyways.

As the famous Demotivator poster observed, “None of us is as dumb as all of us.” Our collective ignorance, encouraged and supported by our peers, has reached a tipping point thanks to Donald Trump and the policies (moods) and politics he practices. Unless he is undone in the next year or so by his own perfidy, he will have made it great to be a member of The Remnant, as repellent as it seems to the rest of us. It is only right, then, that America surrender its role as leader of the free world and allow China and Russia to divide up the rest. We no longer occupy the high moral ground. We have become rivals with Europe and friends with Russia.

The kompromat, as has been referred to many times since 2013, has only truly existed since November of 2016. As has been written elsewhere, it is not pee-pee tapes. It is proof, in the possession of Putin, that Russia did, in fact, throw the election to Trump. Putin privately assures the narcissist Trump that he got elected all by his big boy self, but both of them know that’s a lie, and Trump, psychologically, cannot afford to let this information see the light of day. Even if he didn’t encourage it, or wasn’t even aware of it, it would be lethal for his ego to have to deal with it. A social media program focused heavily on Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania that was designed to help Trump. A program that worked.

The funny thing is that The Remnant would probably be okay with it, as long as they felt Trump was unaware of it. Trump himself might find it unacceptable, but his fans would gleefully overlook it in order to maintain what has become the status quo. The Remnant enjoys getting under the skin of highbrows, and gets mostly ignored by everyone else. The Remnant feeds its own flames. The Remnant is winning.

We have met the enemy, and he is us. Some of us, anyway.

Read More…

Posted by: Bruce Allen | July 11, 2018

Sea Level Rise: Global Warming at its Worst

© Bruce Allen.    July 11, 2018 


Global warming chart CO2

The good news is that we really no longer need to concern ourselves about how to avoid global warming and its attendant shocks. The bad news is that it’s already here. The Anthropogenic Age, the brief historical slice of time when man ruled the Earth and tried to destroy it, is here, for now. Even if global carbon emissions were cut to zero today, global temperatures will continue to increase for the next 50 years. Capital-W Warming’s effect on the melting of the polar ice caps and glaciers, and the attendant rise in sea levels across the globe, is already assured. Populations will need to change their approach to this looming slow-motion catastrophe from one of benign neglect to one of organized relocation. Any thought of building seawalls only delays the crisis or moves it somewhere else.

The challenges for people everywhere are daunting. First and foremost are the impending changes coming to our coastal cities, which are losing the fight against sea level rise. One of the ironies of all this is that the “sinking” of assets into prime waterfront real estate in major coastal cities means that when the inevitable rise in sea levels occurs—say, six feet by 2050, on its way to anywhere from 20 to 200 feet if you believe what you read—it will have a disproportionately negative impact on those one percenters who’ve rigged the urban real estate game over the past 60 years, Urban Renewal having had a nicer ring to it than Negro Removal. Serves the bastards right building in floodplains. There is no way federal flood insurance money will be available to restore these properties, top to bottom, as anything other than as aquariums, museums built at great cost to an urban landscape that will no longer exist.

A partial list of cities for which great masses of prime and subprime real estate are going to disappear over the next 30 years includes Miami, Providence, New York, New Orleans, Charleston, Annapolis, Seattle, Boston, Tampa/St. Pete, London, Mumbai, Jakarta, Guangzhou, a third of Bangladesh, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Chicago; the list goes on and on. The discouraging part is that these losses are already baked into the environmental pie. There will have to be mass migrations away from these urban coastal areas, which will quickly become uninhabitable due, among other things, to saltwater intrusion into freshwater aquifers, ruining drinking water supplies for millions. There is also the problem of sewage disposal when cities are subsiding, built on limestone (Miami), or otherwise at or below sea level.

So our children and their children will need to learn to adapt to a world that is changing above and beneath them. It will have consequences on where they choose to live—both Chicago and Seattle, for our families, will have significant flooding issues—where they work, where they build their lives, where they spend their vacations. Rather than subduing the world, which we’ve done admirably for a few thousand years and aggressively for the past 150, we must now adapt to that world, which is beginning to make non-negotiable demands upon us. BTW, it matters that the world’s oceans are on their way to a pH low enough to prevent the calcium carbonate in mollusk shells from coalescing at all, which would lead to the rapid extinction of most shellfish species.

In the US, great areas of the southwest are, at the same time, at serious, perhaps inevitable risk of losing their ability to provide clean, safe, reliable drinking water to their populations; there will be more migrations from states like Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, California, etc., due to heat and a lack of water for agricultural and drinking supplies. I expect these migrations to head north, into the northern US and Canada to areas where plentiful supplies of both groundwater and surface water exist. Away from saltwater. Away-ish from killing summer heat. Between floods and water shortages there will be a major demand for property in these northern locales. There will also be an enormous loss of agricultural production, most especially in central California.

The possibility exists in this altered future, due to massive circulation patterns of Atlantic water and air currents, for western Europe to begin experiencing hugely cold winters. This, I will believe when I see it, which I won’t. The other issues are at once more frightening and more immediate.

So, while the world fiddlefarts around with stuff like tariffs and building islands in the South China Sea, in the context of macroeconomic systems that depend upon growth for vitality, the globe is heating and melting on a logarithmic scale. A book I read on the subject recently (Extreme Cities, by Ashley Dawson) suggested it would take global resource re-allocations on the order of $20 trillion to go from killing ourselves as a species to saving ourselves. I don’t believe the current, deliberately shortsighted “leadership” in Washington would appropriate twenty dollars for this purpose.

What to conclude from this pile of facts? Things will be different 50 years from now than they are today. We already knew that, we are just mostly unaware of how different they will be. Our children, our grandchildren will be involved daily in measures to adapt to environmental damage, on a planetary scale, caused largely by our generation. In the United States, this will occur under an astonishing level of public debt and crumbling infrastructure. We will have left them a world worse than the one we inherited from our parents. We will have failed as stewards, and they will have every right to resent us for our venality.

Climate change has environmental, social, political, economic and other non-pecuniary impacts. In economics, we refer to these as “externalities.” These are the side-effects of corporate capitalism that are not accounted for in balance sheets, that are inflicted upon communities and environments that support large bastions of capitalism. In the U.S., these include, but are not limited to, pollution of water, air and soil, extreme social stratification, the dislocation of poor people to cheaper, more dangerous living environments with more predictable health problems caused by politicians and corporations that are not only not required to reimburse the world for these identifiable costs but are subsidized by tax dollars for doing so. In Washington, we presently watch the EPA being dismantled on the altar of “job-killing regulations.”

Hogwash. In a sense, there are two kinds of people—those who give a rip about externalities and those who don’t. Liberals and conservatives. Democrats and Republicans. Not that it really matters anyway. As an old friend, an ex-cop on a fake disability, said when I jokingly criticized him (in 1976) for keeping his house at 80° in the winter and 68° in the summer, “We’re all gonna run out at the same time anyway.” He was right then, and he’s right now. It’s a pity, but it’s thinking like that which has brought us to this point.

Posted by: Bruce Allen | June 13, 2018

What Would it Take?

© Bruce Allen  June 13, 2018

What would it take to complete the transformation of the United States from a democratic republic to a fascist dictatorship?

  1. Kennedy or Ginsburg to retire from the SCOTUS and be replaced by another right-wing ideologue.
  2. Republicans to achieve super-majorities in both houses of Congress, whereupon they could be counted on to
  3. Suspend the Constitution and the Bill of Rights on the grounds of a non-specified national security emergency. Jeff Sessions is just the guy to do this.
  4. Declare the “two party system” contrary to the national interests of The State. Outlaw the Democratic party and jail congressmen and senators suspected of either being Democrats or being sympathetic to Democrats. Appoint “loyal” Republicans to fill the vacant seats.
  5. Force all registered Democrats to wear a large yellow “D” on their top layer of clothing or face the death penalty.
  6. Nationalize the airlines, the banks, all companies operated by folks like Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, Tom Steyer and George Soros, and the major digital powerhouses—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
  7. Shut down all media outlets except Drudge, Breitbart and Fox News. Liquidate CNN, The Washington Post and The New York Times.
  8. Declare martial law, again on the basis of a national security emergency.
  9. Suspend term limits for all federal elected officials. Make Trump President for Life.
  10. Make the NRA a new federal department. Eliminate HHS and EPA.
  11. Declare illegal immigration, drug possession and distribution to be capital crimes. Eliminate habeas corpus.
  12. Create a Department of Presidential Security consisting of death squads authorized to round up and kill people whose liberal social media posts constitute a “clear and present danger” to The State.
  13. Enter into non-aggression pacts with Russia, China, North Korea, Turkey, Syria, Venezuela, etc.
  14. Annex Canada and Mexico, jailing all their political leaders, and sending in the military to liquidate the Mexican drug cartels.
  15. Recall all diplomatic staff assigned to our former allies and jail them upon their return to the US. Suspend diplomatic relations with those countries.
  16. Drop a nuclear weapon on some insignificant African nation that doesn’t have any Trump-licensed properties to show we mean business.

That should pretty much take care of it. There would be a few kinks to iron out and plenty of time to do the ironing. The Republican Party would clearly be happy to play along. This is what people mean when they say we’ve never in our history been closer to becoming a fascist state.

If you had taken a survey of everyday Germans in the early 1930’s they would have thought the prospect of fascism to be so remote as to be unworthy of discussion. The politicization of the Supreme Court and the abdication of congressional Republicans to exercise oversight on Trump are but the first steps.

Posted by: Bruce Allen | June 9, 2018

Trump: Leading the U.S. to Hell

The recent moves by the president on trade and the ACA should swing the House to the Democrats in November.

First, tariffs. Trump’s nonsensical, unilateral imposition of stiff tariffs on intermediate goods–notably steel and aluminum–will raise costs, and prices, for domestic manufacturers of everything from beer to automobiles. The retaliation from our trading partners will reduce demand for exports, notably agriculture. Taken together, this means higher prices for American consumers beginning this summer and reduced prices for producers of a wide range of agricultural products, from soybeans to pork. China’s “promise” to purchase an additional $80 billion of American products in the next year is a good example of the Occidental practice of saying “yes” and meaning “no.”

Meanwhile, Trumpcare is methodically dismantling the Affordable Care Act, causing premiums to rise across the board, insurers to pull out of some markets entirely, and raising the prospect of putting millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions back in the trick bag they inhabited prior to 2010. As gleeful as his base appears to be in losing health insurance and seeing their purchasing power reduced, for other voters–we’ll refer to them here as “lucid”–these things will make life demonstrably more difficult, and will do so in time for the November midterms.

True, the economy is strong today. But Ben Bernanke, who knows a little bit about this kind of stuff, pointed out the other day that when the economy is strong, the last thing you want to do is inject a $1.5 trillion, deficit-busting stimulus, even if most of it ends up in corporate savings accounts. He predicts a stagflation scenario by 2020 in which a long-overdue recession comes along and the U.S., saddled with trillions of dollars in debt going in, lacks the ammunition to stimulate the economy, having already shot its wad in 2018-19.

Mueller will deliver a bevy of indictments well in time to influence the 2018 elections, kind of a counterweight to the expected interference by the Russians on behalf of Republicans. The effect of these criminal charges will be to turn the less-committed members of his base against him.

The old adage about how you make a small fortune–by taking a large fortune and following your instincts–applies to this dolt in the White House. The steps he is taking will put the brakes on the economy, cause unemployment to reverse its historic fall, produce inflation in consumer goods, make health insurance more expensive and unavailable for those with serious health conditions, and make the trade deficit worse.

Trump’s Hail Mary with North Korea, which Kim Jong Un is winning in a rout at present, is terribly unlikely to produce anything in the way of a reduction of the danger abounding on the Korean peninsula. Never mind the increasing likelihood that the repressive Saudi monarchy, and 25% of the world’s known oil reserves, are at risk of an Islamic revolution at the hands of the fundamentalist Wahhabi majority in that country who are itching to get back at their royal masters after generations of brutal repression.

Increasingly isolated from our historical allies, increasingly friendly with autocratic regimes who don’t give a rip about us, Trump is turning America into a fortress preparing for a siege. We can count on House Republicans to fumble away their best chance to fix DACA this summer and watch 98% of Hispanics vote Democratic in November. They will be joined by an equal percentage of those minorities that Trump has savaged for years–women, blacks, Muslims, LBGTQ folks, etc. He’ll get the votes of the remaining 70,000 U.S. coal miners, as well as the remaining employees in the steel and aluminum smelting industries. Plus the rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth mad dogs racists and troglodytes at the core of his base.

Bottom line: Even if the Republicans somehow hold on to the House (and the Senate) this fall, by 2020 conditions in this country–the economy, healthcare, the environment, ridicule and scorn from our former allies–make his re-election highly unlikely. As The Washington Post said in an editorial the other day, the end of the Trump regime cannot come too soon.

Trump dunce

Posted by: Bruce Allen | March 26, 2018

Most Republicans on the Wrong Side of History. Again.

© Bruce Allen. March 26, 2018

NRA Terr Org.

It would be such a wonderful trip if these millions of outraged tweeners (whom we have failed, BTW) became activist single-issue voters on the side of the angels, passing out NRA report cards on every candidate at every rally and etc. If it catches on, the A+ NRA ratings of the Rubios of the world would become political indictments, smoking guns. And we libtards might find a coherent reason to vote, other than just to honor the institution of voting. The demographics, as predicted when Clinton was president, are moving inexorably in the direction of the Democrats and for good reason. This is a young blue wave.

Imagine if the alleged Movement took hold. Imagine Democratic candidates coming out of the woodwork proclaiming their lifelong fear of and hatred of machine guns and automatic weapons. Explaining how the framers of the Constitution could not be expected, in their time, to imagine the immense destructive capacity of constitutionally-protected assault weapons once commonly/now formerly sold at Walmart.

While being governed by Republicans, people of color, the dispossessed, the barista with $80,000 of student loans, people with health issues, people with income issues, in short, pretty much every new young voter, is finding the quality of their lives diminished. This is how modern Republicans get things done, via the Reverse Robin Hood theorem, taxing the poor to give to the rich, all done under the mantle of “reform.” Consistently, predictably on the wrong side of issues, typically bought and paid for by the trade associations involved. They are always in search of new, regressive ways to finance this largesse, and predictably look in the direction of “unsustainable entitlement” programs, the fast movers of which are SSI and Medicare.

The students at Parkland fit the profile. Young, mostly minority backgrounds. We probably hear mostly from the kids who are on the student council and the debate club, the high achievers, but it appears to make no difference to students nationwide. All appear to be on board, regardless of their differences, and all are counting the days until they can register to vote and begin what they claim is a systematic process to remove legislators and politicians who are on the payroll of the terrorist organization called the NRA. And taking things from there. That’s a mouthful. Many of these kids have experienced gun violence up close and personal. Their credibility is unassailable.

Add to this new layer of outrage over guns the upcoming Great UnGerrymandering of the United States, and the ceaseless disgust/terror generated by Donald Trump–taking Congress in 2018 could be the first step in re-defining the Democratic party. The party of single-payer health care. The party of the modernizing of the American workforce and labor markets. The party of outlawing assault weapons, offering amnesty for their surrender, and getting every possible AK, Mac and AR off the streets of the U.S. Turning the War on Drugs into the War on Assault Weapons.

Ah, but single-issue voters, and the candidates who appeal to them, are dangerous, fully capable of spouting crackpot theories on lots of stuff. Personally, I can live with that. If I have a choice of two Democratic candidates for the same seat, both of whom promise to help outlaw assault weapons, I’d just vote for the less-crazy of the two. Most people would do the same. And if they’re against guns, they’re probably liberals; no need to worry about anti-LBGTQ stuff, etc., in the statehouse. This is the thinking of many single-issue voters on both sides. ‘As long as they’re this, I don’t care about that.’

Being a liberal would once again be okay. Revisions to the IRS code and statues governing entitlement programs would steepen the tax curve and the incidence thereof would fall, visibly, on the highest 10% of earners and asset-owners. The way God intended. The earnings cap on social security contributions would be removed, and SSI benefits would be means-tested, i.e., benefits would not available to rich people who don’t need them. Legislatively, this would represent hard cheese for the ruling class. It cannot and won’t get accomplished under the Mitch McConnells of the world. Never mind you know who.

Single-payer health insurance will need to be paid for and will necessitate a multitude of adjustments and changes for practically everyone. It will also take health care off the table, off the list of global-scale problems the U.S. needs to face up to. And it should lower the aggregate per capita cost of healthcare nationally. Medicare runs like a watch these days. Sell it to everyone. Eliminate the need for separate Medigap and prescription plans. Free preventive care and well-baby exams. To those who would shout that health care is not a right, I would say, “Step aside. Please. Your ideas are outmoded. Thank you for your service.”

Coincident with this must come serious efforts to install term, pension and compensation limits on elected officials, and to get private money out of elections. Repeal Citizens United. Remind ourselves that corporations are not people. Get real. The young people coming at you in a massive blue wave need you to get real and keep it real. About the heating of the planet, and the environment, the air and water. Plastics in the ocean.

They have an innate distrust of career politicians. They want to get rid of them, too, someday.

As 2018 approaches and the Mueller investigation begins its crescendo, this wave will attract growing attention from disaffected middle-class Trump supporters. It will begin to change the minds of adults. Back in 1972 I convinced my parents, both of whom were lifelong Dems, NOT to vote for Richard Nixon in his mismatch with George McGovern. They changed their minds, got crushed, and never stopped thanking me.

This new movement, comprised mostly of high school and college students, must make one of their primary goals the enlistment of their parents in this effort and this new approach to being governed. Though thoroughly earnest and completely energized—radicalized— by what has happened, they are currently few in number. Whatever their numbers today, they could quickly double them by getting their own parents on board, demonstrating and asking other parents to discuss the issue. This is how ideas gain momentum on the ground. Person-to-person with people you know.

We must also make it clear that our desires do not include properly-licensed and registered rifles, shotguns and handguns. Assault weapons only. This group of students, as brave and articulate as any adults, if and when it gets us sensible gun law reform, appears ready to take on the world. First, we must devote time, talent and treasure to the effort to attain critical mass in support of banning assault weapons. I believe we will attain critical mass and that the kids will cause the laws to change.

After all, they have a strong advantage—they are on the right side of history.

Posted by: Bruce Allen | January 17, 2018

The Two-Front Wars Faced by Republicans in 2018 and 2020

The fracture in the Republican party, most evident in the House, painted on the side of the runaway truck that is the Freedom Caucus, promises those seeking re-election in the next few cycles cannon to the left, cannon to the right, and, directly before them, cannon  from Democrats, the former, and far more consuming fight an ugly primary with heavy fire coming from at least one side and possibly more.

With political campaigns becoming increasingly more organized around military concepts–needing a good ground (infantry) game, a well-greased effort with boots on the ground, superior deployments,  comms and network, great intelligence–House Republicans will find themselves fighting the quintessential two-front war, generally a recipe for disaster on the field. Moreover, the noticeable lack of enthusiasm amongst staunch Republicans, evidenced recently in Virginia and Alabama, suggests the conscripts may not be that geeked up about fighting hard for the incumbents.

So, hand-to-hand combat with another well-financed Republican in a long and ugly primary, attacking and defending, followed, if one survives, by a race against a Democrat sure to pin the indictments and failures of the Trump administration squarely on your back with a following that is fully charged up about ‘outing the bastards.’ Sounds great.

Sounds like what the 2018 midterms could bring. If Democrats take back both the Senate and the House, the odds of an across-the board rout by the Dems in 2020, including the White House, look good. The good news for Republicans is that many of the Freedom Caucus would get swept away in such a flood. The good news for Democrats is that the economy, by 2019 anyway, will have consumed most of the gains of the tax bill, with interest rates already having risen for months. Some of the wind will have started luffing the economy’s sails.

The only thing holding the Trump administration in the air is the economy/the stock market, both beginning to froth, lotta foam on the beer. Unemployment 4.1%, stock market gaining 1,000 points in seven trading days. But no inflation staring us in the face. Paul Krugman’s ‘liquidity trap’ appears, once again, to be firmly in place. Carmakers are offering 0% financing for 72 months, so they don’t seem to be worried about inflation. The Trump administration needs 2018 to be another brilliant year. It also needs 2019 to be yet another brilliant year. It needs the longest bull market in history (?) to continue apace for another 30 months. That’s a big ask, with China slowing down.

So, can the SCOTUS justices eager to retire hold on until November, and then perhaps until January, to allow centrist nominees to be reviewed by a Democratic-majority Senate? If so, the right-wing tide will have reached its zenith, and the receding water will return to normal, where the political left and center have more to say about how the government is run.  A world more cognizant of facts. A world that makes a little more sense.dropdead

As we watch the budget bill, government shutdown and DACA circling the bowl, we must acknowledge the futility of trying to convince congressional Republicans to grow a pair and do the right thing. These guys, and the lobbyists who finance their viability, are paid to NOT believe in climate change, are paid to NOT support immigration reform, are paid to NOT reform healthcare and the treatment of health insurers, and are paid NOT to lose the tax windfall accruing to their employers via “tax reform.”

Of the many ironies inbred in this conversation, the one that gets me occurs when the party that effectively controls all three branches of government (including both houses of congress) blames the minority party for any or all of the above. The fact is that Democrats have maintained a fairly consistent historical dogma in these areas, using both tax and debt to support expansionary government fiscal policy, to protect the national credit rating and the bond markets by NEVER defaulting on the deficit, and supporting the intent of DACA, to provide a better life for people who had no choice but to grow up in the U.S. and who are as woven into American culture as you or I.

Unlike most congressional Republicans, who find it necessary to get in line and get behind ideas once considered anathema to party pillars–fighting free trade; fighting against states’ rights, noticeably state policies concerning cannabis; fighting stability in bond and money markets, etc. Being forced to support this buffoon and his regressive tax policies and stolen supreme court nominee and gruesome healthcare bill. His bombast and bluster, his profanity, his retrograde notions of leadership and power. His recklessness with North Korea and most of the free world. His crudity, his generally rough, tactless, and emotionally-vacant demeanor.

Despite his best efforts, Trump still has thousands of government employees and contractors working “for him” who loathe him as a pyramid-head boss and as a person. Employees who must implement his policies/moods. People who, with 15 or 20 years in working for the “good” guys are not above a little “malicious obedience” when it comes to direction from the new nitwits upstairs.

The true targets of today’s headline is the Maginot Line of the president’s defense, Republicans in the House and Senate. It is these people whoa give the president political cover whenever his true colors shine through. It is these people who have chosen to believe that the president’s approval ratings cannot be glued to them, which, of course, is stupid and wrong. Who believe they can dump Trump in June when it becomes obvious the Democrats have assembled a tsunami of liberals, women, people of color, people with student loans, people who have lost health care, and people connected in any way to Puerto Rico.

People whose hatred of being governed by Republicans is reaching a crescendo. People whose fire will be stoked by indictments to come from Robert Mueller. People who are going to work tirelessly to get more people like themselves registered and prepared to vote on election day in November 2018. Joined by people who may have voted for Trump in 2016 but are disgusted by his pronouncements and provocations, his amateurish behavior as America’s point man. A sad, bloated carrot of a man who sits in bed, gorging on junk food, watching cable TV news, in a lather, angry at the world.

The only people left to protect him from leaders in both parties are people who are paid to protect him, either politically or policy-wise. Many of them are doing so reluctantly, looking for new jobs, preparing to bail out as soon as possible, having completed their year with the circus. Eight Republican committee chairman, who have accumulated power over decades, have recently resigned rather than face a brutal campaign from both sides in the fall. Their staffers, numbering in the dozens, will no longer be paid to think in a specific way.

In mid-January of 2018, the midterms are shaping up as a rout. How cool is that?

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Posted by: Bruce Allen | January 13, 2018

The Clock is Ticking for The Donald

Democrats and independent voters, along with an increasing number of straight-ticket Republicans, are enjoying watching the lights slowly and figuratively going on inside the head of Donald Trump. Trump, who for decades could have things exactly the way he liked them by snarling, snapping his fingers, and threatening to sue anyone who got in the way of his getting his way, is finding out that things don’t work that way in Washington.

During the 2016 election, the majority of Clinton voters would have told you that most if not all of Trump’s campaign promises were untenable. From jobs at Carrier Corporation in Indianapolis, which has sent almost 40% of the jobs Trump bragged about having saved, to Mexico in the past three months, to pulling the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal. From implementing a “beautiful health plan for all, you’re going to love it, believe me” to advancing the damage of an already-damaged ACA. True, he helped hijack a supreme court nominee, and rammed a grossly regressive tax plan through the chests of democrats.

Utility companies have announced plans to close and/or convert a record number of plants from coal to natural gas in 2018. The heavily-promised jobs in the coalfield are not coming back. China is cutting back its consumption of coal in favor of natural gas and renewables.

The Wall, once the central plank of his many momentary platforms, will not be the monolith he portrayed during the campaign. It most certainly won’t be paid for by Mexico. His America First program, when examining foreign trade, will reduce the size of the market available to American manufacturers from $21 trillion, across the globe, to $4 trillion, the size of the US economy. The World market can survive much more easily without the U.S. than the U.S. can survive the loss of the World market. Not gonna happen.

Meaningful immigration reform–not gonna happen. DACA and a long term budget agreement–not gonna happen. Even infrastructure, once considered a bipartisan slam dunk, is not gonna happen in any meaningful way. Which is okay, actually, in that the economy is doing pretty well without more fiscal stimulus.

The Russia story does not go away because Trump wants it to. On the contrary, it seems to grow like a snowball rolling down the side of a snow-covered hill, baby. It’s always been about obstruction of justice, the justice to be enforced for money laundering, doing business with Russian oligarch banks which, in turn, leads to blackmail from Putin on behalf of his oligarch buds. “Donald, we have no interest in releasing documents relating to your ownership position, and leverage, in these Russian businesses. None. It is my job to ensure they do not leak. It is far easier for me to attend to this if I am not being whipsawn by questions relating to collusion Every. Single. Day. Kindly make these questions go away.”

He simply can’t keep most of his campaign promises, as they were a fantasy to begin with. His political capital is virtually gone. He has no political strategy and no one to help him develop one, with Sloppy Steve now pissing outside the tent. More indictments–Don Jr., Jared, family–are going to come down any day. McMasters and McGahan are history; Gary Cohn won’t be far behind them. There are virtually no capable candidates to replace them.

So, Trump’s political viability now depends upon the November mid-terms. If, as expected, the House turns over to the Dems, and perhaps the Senate, too, all will be lost for him. His Maginot Line, the Republican majority on the Hill, will have been breached, with nothing standing between constitutional process and his own disgrace but, well, nothing.

By then, the Trumpian dismantling of the United States as a functioning bureaucracy and world leader will have had another year to undercut American institutions, values and conventions. China will be a major beneficiary of the fact that Russia is playing us for a rube. We are taking every bait Putin offers Trump, and the Chinese are buying the world, especially the “shithole” countries. Not surprisingly, these countries react better to a prospective ally with money to invest and who does not call them a shithole country, than they do to one that threatens to take away money, and calls them a shithole country. China’s Vampire Squid plan, to suck out every third world natural resource on the globe through the blood funnel of international trade, is being abetted by Trump’s ignorance and crudity.

Once Congressional Republicans internalize the fact that their support for Trump at this time amounts to obstruction of justice, they may or may not react. So far, most haven’t. Many are choosing retirement rather than facing the passenger train of national anger likely to arrive in November. Mueller, who runs a tight ship, is likely to start making noise in the spring and summer. Getting the prosecutorial flywheel up to speed.

Democrats can hear, in the faint distance, the sound of a heavy train picking up speed. Onboard the train will be registered Democrats and independents, women, people of color, moderate Republicans, people with student loans, people who have lost their health insurance, people who have seen their paychecks go up by $17 a month since the tax bill passed and that Warren Buffet’s companies stand to gain $37 billion.

If both the Senate and House turn over, there is little doubt that impeachment proceedings will commence early in 2019. By then Trump will have likely offended his last remaining apologists in Congress. Someone, a Marc Rubio perhaps, will stand up and proclaim himself The Opportunistic and Loyal Opposition Personified, in early 2019, preparing for a primary challenge to Trump, in the unlikely event he is still around, winning, for the 2020 presidential nomination.

Beginning in January of 2019, Democrats on the Hill may be able to attract sufficient “safe” Republican senators and representatives to be able to override presidential vetoes. This would offer a profound opportunity to stop the bleeding that has marked the Trump administration, that will portray him as an obscenely bad joke, an interloper in the basically decent parade of American presidents. One who is, contrary to his repeated false and vulgar statements, not winning, and not making America great again.

The Republican party is going to have to answer for their enabling support of Donald Trump, of putting party before country. Another congressional committee chair retired just today, wanting to distance himself from the tsunami gathering in the Pacific. Part of the epidemic among centrist Republicans of suddenly wanting to spend more time with their families.

Patriots should brace themselves. Democracy is under assault. The Battle of the Bulge is in front of us. Until Trump is convinced of his own political death, he will fight harder and dirtier than anything we’ve ever seen. Robert Mueller must time his actions right, and this will end well for those who see themselves as Americans first and party members second.

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