Tag: Republicans

Is this the beginning of the end of the Trump Administration?

We are just a couple of days short of being five months into what is supposed to be a four-year term of Donald Trump being President of the United States, but developments in the last few days or so are indicating that this may be the beginning of the end of the Trump Administration.

The biggest recent news is the announcement that former FBI director Robert Mueller was appointed the special prosecutor in the case regarding the Trump presidential campaign’s ties to Russia:

(b) The Special Counsel is authorized to conduct the investigation confirmed by then-FBI Director James 8. Comey in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on March 20, 2017, including:

(i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals     associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and

(ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and

(iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a).

Additionally, there are other developments that have indicated to me that this could be the beginning of the end of the Trump Administration:

  • An audio tape (transcript here) in which House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) bragged about Russian President Vladimir Putin paying Trump and U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)…Republicans have tried to claim that McCarthy was merely joking, but it’s certainly suspicious when Republicans claim that Putin is paying some of their own, and it’s not 100% clear if they were being serious or not.
  • Vice President Mike Pence has already set up a leadership PAC to support Republican political efforts…this is the first time a sitting VPOTUS has ever done this.
  • Democratic members of Congress are openly mentioning the prospect of impeaching Trump.
  • It has been reported that disgraced former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and others with close ties to Trump had 18 contacts with the Russians that were not previously disclosed.

There’s certainly evidence that this may be the beginning of the end of the Trump Administration.

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Republicans are making their atrocious health care bill even worse to appease the far-right

If you thought the Trumpcare bill in Congress was bad, well, Republicans are now trying to make Trumpcare, which is the proposed legal vehicle for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that provided millions of Americans with health insurance, a lot worse in order to appease members of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of far-right Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Republicans have, since Monday, made two major amendments to the original Trumpcare bill.

The first is the so-called “manager’s amendment”. What the manager’s amendment, if enacted, would end the popular and effective Medicaid expansion a lot sooner than the original bill would have, allows states to raid federal Medicaid funds and use them for purposes other than Medicaid, and makes the Medicaid funding cuts from the original bill a lot more severe, giving state governments, particularly those controlled by Republicans, an opportunity to deprive large numbers of people of health insurance. ThinkProgress, a left-leaning website, gave a more detailed description of the manager’s amendment here.

The second is the Meadows Amendment, named after U.S. Representative and House Freedom Caucus member Mark Meadows (R-NC). Among other things, the Meadows Amendment would allow private-sector health insurers to:

  • deny health insurance to those with pre-existing medical conditions
  • force women to pay more money for the same exact health insurance that men receive
  • enact annual and/or lifetime limits on health care coverage
  • force people to pay money out-of-pocket for vital preventative care, such as mammograms and vaccinations

It’s not hard to understand why most Americans don’t like Trumpcare.

IMPEACH SESSIONS

While under oath during his confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, then-U.S. Senator, and now-U.S. Attorney General, Jefferson Beauregard “Jeff” Sessions III claimed, “…I did not have contact with the Russians.”

As multiple media outlets are now reporting, Sessions did, in fact, have contact with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, on at least two occassions during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions met twice last year with the top Russian diplomat in Washington whose interactions with President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Mike Flynn led to Flynn’s firing, according to the Justice Department.

[…]

Sessions met with (Sergey) Kislyak twice, in July on the sidelines of the Republican convention, and in September in his office when Sessions was a member of the Senate Armed Services committee. Sessions was an early Trump backer and regular surrogate for him as a candidate.

Regardless of what type of communication took place between Sessions and Kislyak, two indisputable facts are important here. First, Sessions told a U.S. Senate committee that he “…did not have contact with the Russians”. Secondly, and contrary to Sessions’s statement under oath, there are at least two documented instances of Sessions meeting with the Russian ambassador to the United States during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

The fact that Sessions committed perjury during his confirmation hearing for U.S. Attorney General is grounds for impeachment. U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has called for Sessions to resign the office of U.S. Attorney General. I am not an attorney or a Member of Congress, but Sessions should either resign from office or face at least one impeachment charge (for perjury).

Politically abandoned by both major parties, farmer suicide rates higher than during 1980’s farm crisis

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.


The 1980’s was not a good decade for American midwestern family farmers by anyone’s imagination. In fact, for much of the 1980’s, the Upper Midwest was in the grip of a crippling farm crisis that drove thousands of family farmers off of their land and drove many to take their own lives.

In 2017, the suicide rate among male farmers in the United States is much higher than it was during the 1980’s:

The National Farm Medicine Center in Marshfield, Wis., tracked farm suicides during the 1980s in the Upper Midwest, the region most affected by the farm crisis, to try to better understand the relationships between the farm economy and suicide.

They found that 913 male farmers in the region committed suicide during that decade, with rates peaking in 1982 at 58 suicides for every 100,000 male farmers and ranchers.

[…]

Compare that with this year’s (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) report, which found that current national suicide rates for people working in agriculture are 84.5 per 100,000 overall, and 90.5 per 100,000 among males. This means that suicide rates among male farmers are now more than 50 percent higher than they were in 1982, at the peak of the farm crisis.

(Emphasis is mine; I was not able to find a 1982 figure for suicide rates among the overall farmer and rancher population.)

There are major reasons why the suicide rate among farmers and ranchers is so high. First, crop prices are low to the point that farmers are not getting a fair price for their crop and rural communities that are dependent on the agricultural industry are suffering as a result of it. Second, farmers and ranchers have been effectively abandoned by both major political parties: most, but not all, farmers and ranchers in the United States vote for Republican political candidates, but Republican agricultural policies negatively impact family farmers and ranchers, and most Democratic elected officials who remain in office represent heavily-urbanized political constituencies, so the Democratic Party has increasingly ignored the legitimate concerns of rural voters.

Something is seriously wrong in rural America when the suicide rate among those who produce our nation’s food is extremely high.

Obama’s legacy: a failed Democratic Party and President Donald Trump

With the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, leaving office in a little over a month, I’ll take this opportunity to talk about Obama’s legacy, which has become a major talking point among Democrats.

First off, I want to mention an op-ed that Wisconsin State Representative Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) wrote about her thoughts about Obama’s legacy for the Madison, Wisconsin-based The Cap Times earlier this month. Usually, I strongly agree with someone like Sargent, who is a staunch progressive who realizes that opposing Republicans and their destructive policies is only half the battle for progressives. In fact, Sargent is one of the few elected officials in the entire country that I have a strongly favorable opinion of, and one has to remember that I live in a different state than Sargent does. However, I have a much more negative view of Obama’s legacy than Representative Sargent does.

President Obama did not get a whole lot of domestic policy legislation enacted in his eight years in office, largely because Republicans controlled at least one house of Congress for six of Obama’s eight years in office. When Obama did have political allies in Congress who were in a position to enact legislation, much of it was legislation that was largely or effectively corporate welfare for private-sector businesses (such as the Affordable Care Act and the automobile industry bailout) that, despite being effectively government handouts to large corporations, did benefit many Americans. In fact, I have personally benefited from the Affordable Care Act. Obama’s attempts to work with Republicans typically failed miserably, because the Republican Party of today is completely unwilling to work with anyone who is a Democrat.

While President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize not long after being elected to the White House, Obama was no champion of peace in the White House. Obama’s only major foreign policy success as president was his ordering of SEAL Team 6 to take out Osama bin Laden (which succeeded). The rest of Obama’s foreign policy record was largely underwhelming and, in many ways, a continuation of the post-9/11 George W. Bush foreign policy in the Middle East.

One of President Obama’s biggest failures was his attempt to cut Social Security benefits, which was rejected, largely because progressives strongly opposed it. Another major Obama failure is the Democratic Party: Since Obama was sworn into office, Democrats have lost hundreds of state legislative seats, dozens of state executive offices, and dozens of seats in both houses of Congress. Yet another Obama failure was the FBI under Obama’s leadership: James Comey, who was appointed FBI director by Obama, used his office to influence people to vote for Donald Trump in this year’s presidential election.

In some cases, left-wing victories under President Obama’s leadership came from unexpected places. Many of the major LGBT rights victories, such as key provisions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA) being struck down and marriage equality becoming law of the land, were because of rulings by a right-leaning U.S. Supreme Court. The LGBT community used the justice system to win justice.

Now, America is probably a weaker country than it ever has been since the Declaration of Independence was signed, although it’s mostly not President Obama’s fault. However, Obama’s pursuit of free-trade deals and Social Security cuts opened the door for a far-right demagogue by the name of Donald Trump to win the White House. I strongly fear that Trump will, some way or another, undo pretty much all of the positive aspects of Obama’s legacy and destroy this country in so many ways. If the Democrats haven’t gone the way of the Whigs by 2020, I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

How an anti-abortion, pro-TPP candidate can win the White House with only six electoral votes

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The author of this blog post is not an attorney and does not claim to be one.


In normal circumstances, a presidential candidate needs at least 270 electoral votes to win the office of President of the United States for a four-year term. However, in an election that is not normal, it is possible, although, based on recent opinion polling, highly unlikely, that one presidential candidate could end up winning the White House with only six electoral votes.

Any scenario of a presidential candidate winning the White House with less than 270 electoral votes would, per the provisions of the United States Constitution that govern the Electoral College process (mainly the 12th Amendment, although provisions in the 20th Amendment and the 23rd Amendment also govern the Electoral College process), involve no presidential candidate receiving 270 or more electoral votes. The 20th Amendment, among other things, sets the inauguration date for the President, and the 23rd Amendment gives the District of Columbia electoral votes, so the 12th Amendment is the most significant for the scenario that I’m about to describe. Here is the full text of the 12th Amendment:

The Electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate; — the President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted; — The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President. — The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.

NOTE: A portion of the 12th Amendment that was superseded by Section 3 of the 20th Amendment is depicted with strikethrough text.

Should no candidate receive an electoral college majority with at least three candidates receiving at least one electoral vote (either by being a candidate and/or through faithless electors), the U.S. House of Representatives, selecting from the three candidates with the highest number of electoral votes with each state delegation to the House counting as one vote, elects the President. In that scenario, the support of 26 U.S. House state delegations to the upcoming 115th U.S. Congress would be required for a presidential candidate to win the White House.

It would be possible for a presidential candidate to win the White House with only one electoral vote, although the most likely scenario (which I would give a less than 1% chance of actually occurring) of a candidate winning the White House with fewer than 10% of the available electoral votes (538) in this year’s presidential election would involve a presidential candidate winning only six electoral votes.

That candidate is Evan McMullin, a former policy director for the Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives who is now running an independent campaign for president. McMullin’s name is not on the ballot nationwide; in fact, his name only appears on ballots in eleven states, including Utah, McMullin’s state of birth. McMullin is only four points behind a two-way tie between Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump in Utah, per a recent poll by a firm called Y2 Strategies. Although most nationwide projections show that Hillary is likely to get at least 270 electoral votes, and, therefore, win the White House outright, if certain states fall a certain way, it would be possible for the presidential election to be thrown into the House, with McMullin being one of the three candidates that House state delegations can choose from. Here’s one possible, although unlikely, scenario (map created here):


 

Under the scenario above, Trump is denied an electoral college majority due to McMullin (who, for the purposes of the map above, is the “other” candidate) winning Utah and Clinton winning one of Nebraska’s five electoral votes (Nebraska and Maine allocate two votes to the statewide popular vote winner and one electoral vote to the popular vote winner in each congressional district within the state in question). This means that the House would have to choose between Clinton, Trump, and McMullin. Given McMullin’s connections with Republicans in the House, allegations that Trump sexually assaulted numerous women over a period of multiple decades, and Republicans, despite their party being in total disarray, being likely to control a majority of U.S. House state delegations after the November 2016 elections, there is a extremely slim chance that McMullin could end up being elected President of the United States despite not running a national campaign for president.

Evan McMullin would be an awful president. For starters, he’s opposed to the idea of women being able to make their own health care decisions, and he supports President Obama’s would-be-disastrous TPP trade deal, which would allow large corporations to have greater influence on American economic policy. Those are just two reasons why McMullin should not be elected to the highest office in this great nation.

Crooked Donald Trump used his foundation to buy off Florida Attorney General

By Donald Trump’s own standard of using a personal or family foundation for corrupt purposes, Trump is even more crooked than the Clintons ever could be.

Amid all of the corporate media hullabaloo about the Clinton Foundation and their corrupt dealings is recent media attention to a 2014 fundraiser for Republican Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, which was hosted by Trump:

…In March 2014, Donald Trump opened his 126-room Palm Beach resort, Mar-a-Lago, for a $3,000-per-person fundraiser for Pam Bondi. The Florida attorney general, who was facing a tough re-election campaign, had recently decided not to investigate Trump University.

Trump did not write a check to the attorney general that night. The previous fall, his personal foundation had given $25,000 to a pro-Bondi super PAC. But by hosting her fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago and bringing in some of his own star power, Trump provided Bondi’s campaign with a nice financial boost.

Since he began his run for the White House, Trump has repeatedly claimed that Bondi is merely someone he has supported politically. But his fundraising efforts for her were extensive and varied: In addition to the $25,000 donation from his foundation and the star-studded Mar-a-Lago event, Trump and his daughter Ivanka each gave $500 to Bondi’s campaign in the fall of 2013. The following spring, Ivanka and her father donated another $125,000 to the Republican Party of Florida ― Bondi’s single biggest source of campaign funds.

The reason why Trump’s ties to Bondi have come under public scrutiny in recent days is because of a couple of reasons.

First, that $25,000 check from Trump’s personal foundation to And Justice For All, a pro-Bondi SuperPAC, was a violation of IRS rules for Trump and his foundation. The IRS levied a $2,500 penalty against Trump for the illegal campaign donation from his foundation.

Second, Trump got something that is, to use a Rod Blagojevich saying, (expletive) golden in return for his efforts in helping Bondi get re-elected. Bondi’s office is supposed to be responsible for processing complaints against the fraudulent Trump University and its fraudulent predecessor Trump Institute, both of which masqueraded as online higher education institutions. However, Bondi’s office has done virtually nothing with the complaints, while the Connecticut Attorney General’s office, which is currently held by Democrat George Jepsen, has successfully helped people refunds for people who are victims of Trump’s deceptive practices.

Donald Trump has been caught engaging in some of the most blatant political corruption I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Although I’m probably asking too much of the GOP-controlled Florida state government, the State of Florida should assign a special prosecutor to determine whether or not criminal charges should be filed against Trump.

STRAW POLL: 7th Congressional District of Wisconsin Democratic primary

Recently, Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) praised Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for…well, being the kind of presidential candidate who appeals to white male bigots like himself. These are Duffy’s actual words, as quoted by the progressive website ThinkProgress:

There’s a viewpoint that says, ‘I can fight for minorities, and I can fight for women,’ and if you get that, you make up a vast majority of the voting block and you win. And white males have been left aside a little bit in the politics of who speaks to them.

It is inherently clear to me that Duffy is supporting Donald Trump because he is a loud-mouthed bigot who would destroy America and everything that this great country stands for if elected. Duffy’s congressional district, while gerrymandered to make it a lot easier for him to win re-election, is not a total Republican stronghold, and Trump’s style of politics don’t play well at all in the Upper Midwest.

Unlike what I’ve done for races in the 3rd and 6th congressional districts of Wisconsin, where I’ve endorsed progressive-minded Democrats in contested primaries, I’m going to do something different for the contested primary in the 7th Congressional District of Wisconsin. I’m going to conduct a straw poll for the race for the Democratic Party’s nomination in the 7th Congressional District of Wisconsin. The candidates seeking the Democratic nomination are, in the order in which they will be listed on actual primary ballots and in the straw poll, Mary Hoeft of Rice Lake and Joel Lewis of Wausau. Here’s the straw poll:

The straw poll, which is completely non-binding, will be open for voting until 10 P.M. CDT on July 31, 2016 (the polling program I use does not allow me to geoblock the poll outside of the 7th Congressional District of Wisconsin). The actual primary, which is open to voters in the 7th Congressional District of Wisconsin who choose to vote in the Democratic primary, is August 9th. The winner of the real Democratic primary will face the winner of the Republican primary, also held on August 9th, between Duffy and Donald Raihala, in the general election on November 8th.

Minnesota State House candidate Erin Maye Quaye attacked by GOP opponent for being mixed-race and lesbian

The Party of Trump has proven yet again that it is full of bigots who have zero respect for the American people. This time, it’s Minnesota State House candidate Ali Jimenez-Hopper attacking her Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) opponent, Erin Maye Quade, for being who she is:

Referring to Erin Maye Quade, a staffer for Keith Ellison who has a black dad and is married to a woman, Jimenez-Hopper said “she is really far left [in] her values.”

“She brings up that she is half black and she uses that as a strength. She brings up that she is in support of LGBT and that lifestyle and puts out pictures on Twitter of her and her wife,” Jimenez-Hopper continued. “I believe in the traditional marriage in the sense that it’s between a husband and wife and God and that family is important. We need to have these values so we can go forth and think about your community.”

Following that speech, Jimenez-Hopper was officially endorsed as the GOP candidate for the House seat being vacated by Republican Rep. Tara Mack. Neither Jimenez-Hopper or Maye Quade face primary challengers, meaning they’re set to face off in the general election this November.

Maye Quade of the DFL and Jimenez-Hopper of the GOP are running in the general election in Minnesota State House District 57A. Neither candidate faces any opposition in their respective primaries.

Jimenez-Hopper is using racist and homophobic language to attack Maye Quade for being of mixed race, as well as attacking her for being happily married to a woman that she loves. That kind of conduct from Jimenez-Hopper is disgusting, bigoted, and repulsive. Jimenez-Hopper attacked Maye Quade’s family, which is something that is completely out of bounds in American politics.

If you’re interested in why Erin Maye Quade is running for a seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives, here’s what she is running on:

She said she intends for her campaign to be focused on issues like ameliorating childhood hunger, investing in transportation, enacting statewide paid family leave, and providing people with better mental health resources.

Like many Americans, Erin Maye Quade is someone who is genuinely interested in making her community, state, and country a better place to live. That is what a true patriotic American believes in, regardless of personal background. Maye Quade’s campaign website is here, and her Twitter page is here.

More evidence that Dennis Hastert is a disgusting human being

Earlier today, former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) was sentenced to fifteen months (one year and three months) in federal prison for violating federal banking laws by attempting to conceal hush money that was being paid to individuals who were sexually abused by Hastert.

However, that wasn’t the biggest story of the Hastert sentencing proceedings today.

During the sentencing proceedings, one of the victims of Hastert’s sexual abuse was identified as Scott Cross, the brother of former Republican Illinois State House Minority Leader Tom Cross. Furthermore, it was revealed that Hastert called Tom Cross for his support of Hastert:

That right there proves that Dennis Hastert is a disgusting human being. The fact that Hastert would call the brother of someone he sexually abused and ask him to support an abuser is the ultimate form of being a total scumbag. Hastert has absolutely zero regard for victims of sexual abuse.