Category Archives: Congress

Trump is the ‘vessel’ of a right-wing ‘movement’ using him and the alt-right, but who is the real power behind the throne?

In all the media analysis since last Saturday about President Donald Trump’s defense of and false equivalence between Neo-Confederate and Neo-Nazi white supremacists — a key constituency of Trump supporters — and the counter-protestors who were the victims of their hatred in Charlottesville, Virginia, the focus has been on when GOP politicians will finally disassociate themselves from Trump and disown him as their standard-bearer. It is indefensible for Republicans to stick with Trump.

But what is missing from this analysis is that Trump is a demagogue who hijacked the GOP for his own purposes, and the GOP made a Faustian bargain with the devil believing that they in turn could use him for their own purposes.

Trump’s supporters are a cult of personality who worship at the feet of this dangerous demagogue. Trump was quite literally correct when he said that “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” among his supporters. They are unquestioning devoted to him.

The GOP can disown Trump, and Trump in turn will disown the GOP, forming his own Trump-centric political party, and taking his cult followers with him. I fully expect to see this happen before 2020.

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CBO: Trump sabotage of ‘Obamacare’ would send premiums and the deficit skyward

The Trump administration is going to have to file a status report in House v. Price regarding its position on the continuation of cost-sharing subsidies to insurance companies under “Obamacare.”

On August 1, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals granted the motion for leave to intervene filed by several state attorneys general and the District of Columbia. As part of that order, the Court ordered “the case shall continue to be held in abeyance. Appellee, appellants, and intervenors are directed to file status reports at 90-day intervals.” A status report was due on or about August 22 after a continuation in May.

[T]his bizarre lawsuit could still blow up the ACA insurance markets:

A pending court case, House v. Price (née House v. Burwell — and so much turns on the name change), has given the administration a bomb it could use to blow up insurance markets across the country. At stake is the legality of the payments the federal government makes to insurance companies to help cover the medical expenses of low-income people.

If Obama’s appeal continues, then the payments continue. But if President Trump or Attorney General Jeff Sessions were to decide not to continue the appeal, that’s a game changer.

By moving to defuse House v. Price, the Trump administration could signal that it means to make the best of Obamacare. At the same time, however, the case may represent the last best chance to rip the statute up from the roots. Skittish insurers are watching closely to see what the administration will do. Time is short: Insurers will have to decide very soon whether they want to participate on Obamacare’s exchanges in 2018.

Without the subsidies, insurance markets could quickly unravel. Even more insurers could withdraw from the public marketplaces where more than 10 million Americans obtained coverage last year.

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A failure of moral leadership

Franklin D. Roosevelt on the presidency: “It is preeminently a place of moral leadership” (quoted in The New York Times, Sept. 11, 1932).

I watched an interview with Bill Kristol of the conservative Weekly Standard, who said that he has “given up” on Donald Trump ever being capable of moral leadership. Donald Trump has no interest in providing moral leadership. Kristol called on Republican governors, mayors, civic and religious leaders to fill the void of moral leadership lacking from Donald Trump.

Kristol, as well as many Republican elected officials and political pundits, have been highly critical of Trump’s failure to condemn White supremacist groups for their violent rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday.

Trump’s reticence was because these white supremacist groups are a key constituency of his base. It was a crass political calculation.

Former Ku Klux Klan imperial wizard David Duke appeared at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, saying that the event represented fulfilling the promises of President Trump. David Duke: Charlottesville protests about ‘fulfilling promises of Donald Trump’.

“This represents a turning point for the people of this country. We are determined to take our country back, we’re going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump, and that’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back and that’s what we gotta do,” Duke said.

Trump condemned the violence on Saturday without specifically calling out white nationalist groups during a press conference Saturday afternoon. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sideson many sides,” Trump said.

Duke responded to Trump’s weak tweet on Saturday:

Screen Shot 2017-08-14 at 2.16.38 PM

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White supremacists riot in Virginia, President Trump blames violence ‘on many sides’

I made the point a little more than a week ago that “if Ret. General John Kelly, Trump’s new chief of staff, really wants to right the chaos in the Trump administration, he should dismiss the nativists Steven Bannon and Stephen Miller. He will not, because Trump caters to his nativist racist base.” White nationalists making immigration policy in Trump White House.

This weekend, white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, Neo-Fascists, Neo-Confederates, Ku Klux Klan and various and sundry other white nationalist organizations — key constituencies of the Trump political base — held a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia to protest the planned removal of a statute of General Robert E. Lee.

Hundred showed up for a Friday night rally with Tiki torches ablaze that called to mind images of Ku Klux Klan cross burnings in America, and Hitler propaganda rallies in Nazi Germany (really the point they were trying to make).

Alt-RightRally

The Washington Post reports on the horrific events in Charlottesville, Va.:

Chaos and violence turned to tragedy Saturday as hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members — planning to stage what they described as their largest rally in decades to “take America back” — clashed with counterprotesters in the streets and a car plowed into crowds, leaving one person dead and 19 others injured.

Note: If the driver had been identified as a Muslim, Trump would have been tweeting about Islamic terrorism as he watched it live on cable TV. Domestic terrorism from a white supremacist … silence.

Hours later, two state police officers died when their helicopter crashed at the outskirts of town. Officials identified them as Berke M.M. Bates of Quinton, Va., who was the pilot, and H. Jay Cullen of Midlothian, Va., who was a passenger. State police said their Bell 407 helicopter was assisting with the unrest in Charlottesville. Bates died one day before his 41st birthday; Cullen was 48.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), who had declared a state of emergency in the morning, said at an evening news conference that he had a message for “all the white supremacists and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today”:

“Go home. You are not wanted in this great commonwealth. Shame on you. You pretend that you are patriots, but you are anything but a patriot. You want to talk about patriots, talk about Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, who brought our country together. Think about the patriots today, the young men and women, who with wearing the cloth of our country.

“Somewhere around the globe they are putting their life in danger. They are patriots. You are not. You came here today to hurt people. And you did hurt people. My message is clear, we are stronger than you. You have made our commonwealth stronger. You will not succeed. There is no place for you here. There is no place for you in America.”

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The GOP’s descent into authoritarianism

This is not your father’s GOP. The carcass of the Republican Party has been hollowed-out by the parasitic radical extremist fringe elements of the far-right. These are the “double high authoritarians” that John Dean warned about in his 2006 book, Conservatives Without Conscience. See Michael Bryan’s 2006 book review, John W. Dean, “Conservatives Without Conscience”.

They have now coalesced around a demagogue, a professional grifter and con man given to conspiracy theories and appealing to the worst human instincts: racism, bigotry and fear of others and the unknown. Add white nationalism, fundamentalism and political party tribalism, and it forms a toxic brew.

Supporters of Donald Trump are willing to allow him to fulfill his dream of becoming an authoritarian despot, like his pal Vladimir Putin, and rejecting American democracy in favor of “Dear Leader,” according to two new polls taken this week.

Laurie Roberts writes at the Arizona Republic, Would Trump supporters really nix free speech and democracy?

Just how far are Republicans willing to go in their support of President Donald Trump?

Pretty darn far, it seems. Scary far.

They actually believe Trump’s spiel

According to a recent academic survey of 650 Americans who identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, nearly half (47 percent) say Trump won the popular vote in 2016. Sixty eight percent believe that millions of illegal immigrants voted.

Meanwhile, 52 percent said they would support postponing the 2020 election if Trump said it needed to be delayed until the country can make sure that only eligible American citizens are voting.

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Follow the money: Probable cause Paul Manafort committed a crime

It appears that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is pursuing the lesson of Watergate: “follow the money.”

Remember how Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort said that he would work for free?

Yeah, that probably didn’t happen. He appears to have been paid in ways that may involve money laundering, possibly through Russian oligarchs.

Back in May, federal investigators subpoenaed records related to a $3.5 million mortgage that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort took out on his Hamptons home just after leaving the campaign. Feds Subpoena Records for $3.5M Mystery Mortgage on Manafort’s Home:

On August 19, 2016, Manafort left the Trump campaign amid media reports about his previous work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine, including allegations he received millions of dollars in payments.

That same day, Manafort created a holding company called Summerbreeze LLC. Several weeks later, a document called a UCC filed with the state of New York shows that Summerbreeze took out a $3.5 million loan on Manafort’s home in the tony beach enclave of Bridgehampton.

Manafort’s name does not appear on the UCC filing, but Summerbreeze LLC gives his Florida address as a contact, and lists his Bridgehampton home as collateral.

A review of New York state and Suffolk County records shows the loan was made by S C 3, a subsidiary of Spruce Capital, which was co-founded by Joshua Crane, who has partnered with Donald Trump on real estate deals. Spruce is also partially funded by Ukrainian-American real-estate magnate Alexander Rovt, who tried to donate $10,000 to Trump’s presidential campaign on Election Day but had all but the legal maximum of $2,700 returned.

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