B12 Solipsism

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Archive for the ‘trump’ tag

All Politicians Should Be Required to Release Their Taxes

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 I Am A Lonely Visitor

Kevin Kruse wrote about the history of presidents releasing their taxes:

On November 17, 1973, the president sought to reestablish his credibility in the fantasy-friendly confines of Disney World. In a televised Q&A session with 400 newspaper editors, he hoped to convince the nation of his honesty and integrity. He only made things worse.

Nixon grew increasingly angry and agitated at the podium when the Orlando press conference turned to questions about his finances. Reporters had been hounding him for weeks, asking how he could afford two separate private homes on his relatively meager presidential salary and whether he’d benefitted personally from administration dealings. There had even been rumors that the President of the United States was being bankrolled in some way by the eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes.

To prove that he wasn’t a crook – or at least not the particular kind of crook detailed in those allegations – Nixon reluctantly released his tax returns a week later.

The paperwork dispelled most of the larger suspicions about him, but also showed that Nixon had taken advantage of every possible deduction he could have used. (In 1970, for instance, he and his wife paid only $792.81 in taxes on more than $200,000 in income.) More damning, the president had claimed a deduction he shouldn’t have used, backdating the donation of his vice presidential papers. As a result, Nixon owed a considerable sum in back taxes. He paid up and the press moved on to the other “White House horrors.” Nine months later, Nixon was gone.

In the wake of Watergate, the United States embraced a wide array of reforms to make sure that nothing like that would rock the nation again. As part of this trend, it became standard practice for presidential candidates to release details of their tax returns. For a while, anyway.

(click here to continue reading All the Presidents’ Taxes.)

Look At All These People Who Care About Your Taxes

I believe that every politician seeking national office1 should be required to release multiple years of full tax returns. If that means that people like Howard Schultz, Michael Bloomberg and Donald Trump decide not to be politicians because they don’t want people to know how much the wealthy can avoid paying taxes, well, so be it. We as a country will recover from the loss.

Mitt Romney released a partial year return for 2010 and 2011, but in my estimation, that wasn’t detailed enough. Three years, full returns, no exceptions. If you are a thin-skinned plutocrat with political ambitions, take a few years off of your normal tax avoidance schemes and have a cleaner return that you can release. 

Footnotes:
  1. or even local office []

Written by Seth Anderson

February 13th, 2019 at 11:12 am

Posted in government

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Trump Shutdown Priorities

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Between Thought And Expression

 

As the Trump shutdown lumbers on, The Washington Post reports:

On Friday, the Bureau of Land Management changed its plan to allow for 19 percent of its 9,260-person workforce to continue on the job during the shutdown.

According to BLM officials, employees who are back on the job are working on activities including law enforcement, grazing activities and preparing for March lease sales that will take place in several Western states.

Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, for its part, has also brought back employees to avert any delays in its March auction for offshore oil and gas drilling.

(click here to continue reading State Dept. employees ordered back to work as Trump nixes Pelosi trip and Davos delegation, citing shutdown – The Washington Post.)

Priorities. The most important thing to accomplish for the GOP is selling off the public’s land and drill, baby, drill. Jerks.

But some Democrats and environmental groups attacked the decision as political and dangerous.

On Wednesday, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) led a group of House Democrats in calling the assistance to the oil and gas industry “an outrageous step,” with a “farcical” justification in a letter to acting Interior secretary David Bernhardt.

“One of the most striking features” of the shutdown, the lawmakers wrote, “is the way the administration has bent over backwards to ensure that the pain of the shutdown falls only on ordinary Americans and the environment, and not on the oil and gas industry.”

Written by Seth Anderson

January 18th, 2019 at 10:33 am

Farm Country Stood by Trump. But the Shutdown Is Pushing It to Breaking Point

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 Bucolic

The New York Times reports:

Farm country has stood by President Trump, even as farmers have strained under two years of slumping incomes and billions in losses from his trade wars. But as the government shutdown now drags into a third week, some farmers say the loss of crucial loans, payments and other services has pushed them — and their support — to a breaking point.

While many rural conservatives may loathe the idea of Big Government, farmers and the federal government are welded together by dozens of programs and billions of dollars in spending.

Now, farmers and farm groups say that federal crop payments have stopped flowing. Farmers cannot get federally backed operating loans to buy seed for their spring planting, or feed for their livestock. They cannot look up new government data about beef prices or soybean yields to make decisions about planting and selling their goods in an ever-changing global market.

(click here to continue reading Farm Country Stood by Trump. But the Shutdown Is Pushing It to Breaking Point. – The New York Times.)

Welfare is what the other guys get. 

How did the rural vote go to Trump in the first place? Having lived a portion of my life in farmlands, I know those people are not stupid, but they sure got suckered by Fox News and the GOP.

Will they vote for him again in 2020? That’s the real question, now that there is evidence of how Trump “governs” instead of just his talking points.

Written by Seth Anderson

January 11th, 2019 at 11:37 am

Posted in government

Tagged with ,

Low End estimates for Trump’s border wall – 18 Billion Dollars

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Talking About My Generation

One of the funniest stories of the month has been some MAGA rubes deciding they can self-fund Trump’s Stupid Fucking Wall™. As of this writing, the MAGAbots have pledged $7,146,127 of their self-stated goal of $5,000,000,000. This translates to slightly over 0.14% of the $5 billion number. In other words, not even one third of 1 percent of $5 billion. At this rate, the wall funds will be raised in time for Trump, Jr. to get out of prison. I think GoFundMe takes 2% of the total too, that’ll have to be factored in.

By the way, the figure of $5 billion is not enough to build the entire SFW™, but only a small portion of it. It also doesn’t include eminent domain litigation, construction overruns, graft, and terrain challenges. Nor does it include subsequent maintenance costs – if the SFW™ only lasts 3 years before collapsing, that won’t make the MAGAbots happy.

The USA Today reported earlier this year:

The cost of President Donald Trump’s promised U.S.-Mexico border wall could be much higher than previously thought because the administration has not fully accounted for factors that can add to the price, a new report from a congressional watchdog agency says.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office report, published Monday, found the agency overseeing the planning and construction of border barriers, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, has identified 17 priority areas for wall construction without doing a cost analysis for each area. The cost to construct 722 miles of barriers in those priority locations was estimated at $18 billion.

But costs vary widely depending on topography — increasing with the steepness of the terrain — and the price of land, especially in Texas, where most parcels along the border are privately held, the report states.

“Without assessing costs as part of the prioritization process, CBP does not have complete information to know whether it is prioritizing locations that will use its limited resources in the most cost-effective manner,” the report said.

A USA TODAY Network analysis found some 5,000 parcels of private land are within 500 feet of the border in Texas, and legal action to acquire them could add years to the project. During the last round of construction, stemming from the 2006 Secure Fence Act, the government initiated 300 condemnation cases against Texas landowners. About 85 of those cases remain in litigation.

(click here to continue reading Cost estimates for Trump’s border wall too optimistic, report says.)

If we use the government’s low-ball number of $18,000,000,000 to build only 722 miles out of the 1,900 total US/Mexico border, that’s roughly a cost of $25,000,000 per mile. Keep giving away your money, MAGAbots…

I'm With Stupid

Also, unless we adopt a new Constitutional Amendment changing how Congress works, private citizens cannot dictate what Congress does with funds. The Congress could take the money and spend it on something crazy like homeless veterans, or hand it out in suitcases stuffed with $100 bills to the children being kept in cages on the border. Or hold a big, big party inviting everyone born on a Monday. Whatever Congress chooses. 

Huge

Power of the Purse:

“All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills.” — U.S. Constitution, Article I, section 7, clause 1

“No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.” — U.S. Constitution, Article I, section 9, clause 7

 

(click here to continue reading Power of the Purse | US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives.)

Written by Seth Anderson

December 20th, 2018 at 4:08 pm

Posted in government

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Trump forced to sell portraits of himself at a loss of over $40,000

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Dump Googly Eyes Trump

This made me giggle.

Oliver Willis reports:

 

The agreement with the attorney general’s office says that Trump must sell two large portraits of himself that he spent $30,000 of foundation money on. The paintings are now valued at thousands of dollars less than what he paid for them.

One painting was a six-foot-tall portrait of Trump, a “speed painting” by artist Michael Israel painted in under six minutes during an event at Mar-a-Lago. The other painting is a four-foot-tall portrait of Trump’s face that the Washington Post described as a “a younger-looking, mid-’90s Trump, painted in acrylic on top of an old architectural drawing.”

Trump also spent $12,000 of money ostensibly donated for charity on a Denver Broncos helmet signed by former quarterback Tim Tebow.

Take together, all three items have been valued at $975 on a recent IRS filing, a drop in value of $41,025.

Trump is being forced to shut down the Trump Foundation, which New York Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood described as being part of “a shocking pattern of illegality.” Underwood said Trump and his foundation engaged in “unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing, and much more.”

The foundation, she said, was “little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests.”

(click here to continue reading Trump forced to sell portraits of himself at a loss of over $40,000.)

Continuing on yesterday’s theme1 Trump is also horrible at collecting art…

Footnotes:
  1. and to be honest, the theme of the last three or four years []

Written by Seth Anderson

December 19th, 2018 at 10:14 am

Trump backs off demand for $5 billion for border wall, but shutdown still possible after Democrats reject new GOP offer

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Declaration of Immigration

The Washington Post reports:

President Trump on Tuesday retreated from his demand for $5 billion to build a border wall, as congressional Republicans maneuvered to avoid a partial government shutdown before funding expires at the end of Friday.

But Democrats immediately rejected Republicans’ follow-up offer, leaving the two sides still at impasse as hundreds of thousands of federal workers await word on whether they will be sent home without pay just before Christmas.

Sen. Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) told McConnell Tuesday that Democrats would not accept the deal, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) criticized the plan to reprogram the funds.

“Leader Schumer and I have said that we cannot support the offer they made of a billion-dollar slush fund for the president to implement his very wrong immigration policies,” Pelosi said. “So that won’t happen.”

(click here to continue reading Trump backs off demand for $5 billion for border wall, but shutdown still possible after Democrats reject new GOP offer – The Washington Post.)

World’s worst negotiator. Like much (all?) of Trump’s bluster, the truth is the exact opposite of his claim. “The best people” translates into the worst people, “so much winning” equals consistently losing, “Best negotiator” means “nobody has ever encountered such a poor negotiator”…

Written by Seth Anderson

December 18th, 2018 at 3:10 pm

Posted in government

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Trump Fires National Security Aide Mira Ricardel

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Tarzan Poster

WSJ:

The president has also decided to remove Mira Ricardel, the top deputy for national security adviser John Bolton, officials said. A National Security Council spokeswoman declined to comment.

The president became involved in that decision at the urging of Mrs. Trump, whose staff battled with Ms. Ricardel during the first lady’s trip to Africa last month over seating on the plane and requests to use National Security Council resources, according to people familiar with the matter.

The first lady’s team told the president that they suspect Ms. Ricardel is behind some negative stories about Mrs. Trump and her staff.

The first lady’s office issued a statement on Tuesday calling for Ms. Ricardel to be dismissed. “It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House,” said Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for Mrs. Trump.

(click here to continue reading Trump Weighs Replacing Chief of Staff John Kelly, Fires National Security Aide – WSJ.)

Ouch. Don’t crimp Melania’s style if she wants to go on safari in Africa…

Written by Seth Anderson

November 13th, 2018 at 3:11 pm

Posted in politics

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Midterm Election Results: Trump Constrained, Democrats Take House

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 Forgive Yourself Trump Tower

Bloomberg reports:

Donald Trump, who spent the past two years wielding the powers of the presidency unbound by party or political convention, is now constrained.

The Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives cripples his conservative agenda and opens the way for unfettered investigations into his scandal-plagued administration, his presidential campaign and his family’s business empire.

His personal tax returns may fall into the hands of his opponents. His re-election — always far from certain — may be even more dependent on the economy remaining at full steam.

(click here to continue reading Midterm Election Results: Trump Constrained, Democrats Take House – Bloomberg.)

Weird, like there are different branches of government or something…

Written by Seth Anderson

November 7th, 2018 at 10:24 am

Posted in politics

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Donald Trump praises Gianforte for assault on Guardian reporter

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Donald Trump Is A Swine

The Guardian reports:

A crew of Fox News reporters witnessed the attack on the Guardian’s correspondent in Bozeman. According to their firsthand account, Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands as the reporter was posing questions to him.

The crew wrote: “He then slammed [Jacobs] into the ground behind him. [We] watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter.”

Jacobs was taken by ambulance to a hospital and treated for an elbow injury.

Gianforte pleaded guilty to a charge of assault and was sentenced to four days in jail as a misdemeanor. The sentence was later changed to 40 hours of community service, a fine and a compulsory anger-management course.

In a statement, the Guardian US editor, John Mulholland, said: “The president of the United States tonight applauded the assault on an American journalist who works for the Guardian. To celebrate an attack on a journalist who was simply doing his job is an attack on the first amendment by someone who has taken an oath to defend it.

“In the aftermath of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, it runs the risk of inviting other assaults on journalists both here and across the world where they often face far greater threats. We hope decent people will denounce these comments and that the president will see fit to apologize for them.”

(click here to continue reading ‘He’s my guy’: Donald Trump praises Gianforte for assault on Guardian reporter | US news | The Guardian.)

What a thug. As a long time student of American history, I cannot recall any president ever praising a violent criminal like this, especially 

Probably a good day to donate a couple of bucks (or more) to the Guardian. I did.

Written by Seth Anderson

October 19th, 2018 at 10:11 am

Posted in crime,politics

Tagged with ,

Judge Denies Trump’s Request to Dismiss Emoluments Lawsuit

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Emolument Man 

The New York Times:

Congressional Democrats cleared a key hurdle on Friday in their effort to sue President Trump over whether he is illegally profiting from business dealings with foreign governments, in a case that could give the lawmakers access to the Trump Organization’s finances.

Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the United States District Court in Washington ruled that the lawmakers have standing to sue Mr. Trump for accepting payments and other benefits from foreign governments without obtaining permission from Congress, which would violate the Constitution’s clause that bars federal officials from accepting gifts, or emoluments, from foreign powers without congressional approval.

Judge Sullivan dismissed the Justice Department’s claim that the legislators did not have standing to sue and denied its request to dismiss the lawsuit.

“The court finds that the plaintiffs have standing to sue the president for allegedly violating the Foreign Emoluments Clause,” Judge Sullivan wrote in his opinion. Mr. Trump “has neither asked for their consent nor provided them with any information about the prohibited foreign emoluments he has already allegedly accepted.”

(click here to continue reading Judge Denies Trump’s Request to Dismiss Emoluments Lawsuit – The New York Times.)

Well, a glimmer of hope is better than utter despair.

Written by Seth Anderson

September 29th, 2018 at 4:44 pm

Posted in politics

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Bob Woodward book: Trump confused about federal debt, printing money

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An Investment In Knowledge Always Pays the Best Interest - Ben Franklin

INSIDER:

Bob Woodward book: Gary Cohn was ‘astounded at Trump’s lack of basic understanding’ about the federal debt

During the meeting at Trump Tower in November 2016, Cohn touched on a series of economic issues, including the Federal Reserve. Cohn told Trump that the Fed would most likely increase interest rates during his term. Trump then offered an idea of how to deal with the rising rates.

“We should just go borrow a lot of money, hold it, and then sell it to make money,” Trump said, according to the book.

But according to Woodward, Cohn’s message did not seem to connect.

“It was clear that Trump did not understand the way the US government debt cycle balance sheet worked,” Woodward wrote.

(click here to continue reading Bob Woodward book: Trump confused about federal debt, printing money – INSIDER.)

At this point, can anyone seriously be astounded at Trump’s lack of knowledge about any subject? 

Written by Seth Anderson

September 10th, 2018 at 7:58 pm

Posted in politics

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Secret Money: How Trump Made Millions Selling Condos To Unknown Buyers

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Protestors Headed Towards Trump International Tower
Protestors Headed Towards Trump International Tower

Buzzfeed:

More than one-fifth of Donald Trump’s US condominiums have been purchased since the 1980s in secretive, all-cash transactions that enable buyers to avoid legal scrutiny by shielding their finances and identities, a BuzzFeed News investigation has found.

Records show that more than 1,300 Trump condominiums were bought not by people but by shell companies, and that the purchases were made without a mortgage, avoiding inquiries from lenders.

Those two characteristics signal that a buyer may be laundering money, the Treasury Department has said in a series of statements since 2016. Treasury’s financial-crimes unit has, in recent years, launched investigations around the country into all-cash shell-company real-estate purchases amid concerns that some such sales may involve money laundering. The agency is considering requiring real-estate professionals to adopt anti-money-laundering programs.

(click here to continue reading Secret Money: How Trump Made Millions Selling Condos To Unknown Buyers.)

That’s a lot of Kompramat for Putin’s gang to have over the Resident in the White House, don’t you think?

Trump condo sales that match Treasury’s characteristics of possible money laundering totaled $1.5 billion, BuzzFeed News calculated. They accounted for 21% of the 6,400 Trump condos sold in the US. Those figures include condos that Trump developed as well as condos that others developed in his name under licensing deals that pay Trump a fee or a percentage of sales.

Written by Seth Anderson

September 9th, 2018 at 11:43 am

Posted in crime,politics

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The Corrupt Bargain of the Adults in the Room

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Te Jay s Adult Books
Te’ Jay’s Adult Books

And speaking of the Grand Bargain between the Trumpkins and the enabling GOP:

Michelle Goldberg opines:

What we have here, in miniature, is the corrupt bargain Washington Republicans have made with a president many of them privately despise. They know Trump is unfit, but he gives them tax cuts and right-wing judges. Those tax cuts and right-wing judges, in turn, strengthen the president’s hand, buying him gratitude from rich donors and potential legal cover. Republicans who participate in this cycle seem convinced that the situation is, and will remain, under their control.

This is the quintessence of the Trump-enabling Republican. He or she purports to be standing between us and the calamities that our ignorant and unstable president could unleash, while complaining, in the very same op-ed, that the media doesn’t give the White House enough credit. This person wants the administration to thrive because it has advanced Republican policy objectives, even as he or she argues that the administration is so dangerous that it must be contained by unprecedented internal sabotage.

Since this dystopian regime began, I’ve wondered how Republicans who collaborate with Trump despite knowing he’s a disaster live with themselves. Why hasn’t a group of White House staffers quit in protest and then held a press conference? Why haven’t Senators Bob Corker and Ben Sasse, both of whom have said that the anonymous op-ed matches their own understanding of Trump, done more to stand up to him? Why aren’t former officials like Rex Tillerson, Gary Cohn and H.R. McMaster telling us publicly what they saw on the inside? How is it that none of these people have managed to behave as honorably as Omarosa Manigault Newman, who at least put her name to her words, and brought us evidence of what she witnessed?

One answer is that they care about the norms of American democracy — at least some of them — but not quite as much as they care about the agenda of the Republican Party.

(click here to continue reading Opinion | The Corrupt Bargain of the Adults in the Room – The New York Times.)

Slice of Life Ignored
Slice of Life Ignored

The America of the 21st Century is a lot of things, but a functional democracy it is not. One party (the Democrats) is too timid to stand up for liberal ideas with vehemence, though that could change in 2019, maybe; the other party (the GOP) hates the country and everything it stands for, and simply wants to plunder it, feeding the gaping maw of racism and conspiracy theories (climate change, deep state, etc.) in order to maintain power while only representing the interests of a tiny minority of the citizenship. 

If Democrats were smarter, they would ignore reaching out to the Trump cult members, and instead work at getting the vast majority of country to the voting booth. Somewhere around 50 percent of the electorate doesn’t bother to vote, despite, in general, supporting purported liberal ideas like having a livable minimum wage, health care, schools, repairing water mains and bridges and so on, ad infinitum. 

Yet too often, the Democrats battle on the margins, on a Republican set agenda.

Written by Seth Anderson

September 7th, 2018 at 8:46 am

Posted in politics

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Trump and the Koch Brothers Are Working in Concert

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All Tangled Up In Dreams And Aspirations
All Tangled Up In Dreams And Aspirations

The New York Times reports:

President Trump and the Koch brothers have made it clear that they don’t like each other. Politically speaking, they are in fundamental disagreement over trade, tariffs and immigration.

Nonetheless, there is a functional Trump-Koch alliance, and the Republican Party has capitalized handsomely on it. Trump’s racially freighted, anti-immigrant rhetoric has been essential to persuading white voters to agree to Republicans’ long-sought tax and regulatory policies. These policies are inimical or irrelevant to the interests of low- and moderate-income Americans. They have been promulgated by the Trump administration, but many of them have been meticulously prepared and packaged by the Kochs’ massive political network.

The Kochs’ policy objectives that have been realized since Trump took office are legion: enactment of the $1.5 trillion tax cut; the opening of public lands to mining; the appointment of men and women with industry ties to key regulatory posts; weakened enforcement of worker safety rules; the proposed elimination or rollback of numerous environmental regulations; the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, along with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, and the appointment of judges favored by the Kochs to all levels of the federal bench.

(click here to continue reading Opinion | Trump and the Koch Brothers Are Working in Concert – The New York Times.)

Peas in a pod – oligarchs who despise American Constitutional Democracy, and the will of the people. I guess to be more accurate, Trump is a wanna-be oligarch, but he’s well on his way.

The Koch-Trump-GOP alliance is why Trump is still Resident, and why the Congress lickspittles like Rep. Devin Nunes and Paul Ryan are so dedicated to protecting Trump from consequences of his Crazy Town actions.

The Kochs know it too:

Koch also told donors, “We’ve made more progress in the past five years than I’ve made in the previous 50.”

Trump and the Kochs are not just complementary; they are symbiotic. Trump is essential to marketing the Kochs’ vision. Without him, the Koch agenda would fail.

Written by Seth Anderson

September 7th, 2018 at 8:32 am

Posted in politics

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Enough, already, with anything Steve Bannon has to say. We got it the first time.

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The Washington Post reports:

No one wants a festival of ideas to turn into a cozy chat among like-minded friends. That’s pointless.

But also utterly pointless is the notion that Steve Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist, might have something new or valuable to offer.

That’s why it was a thoroughly lousy idea for the New Yorker magazine to offer a high-profile perch — an onstage interview by top editor David Remnick — at next month’s annual festival to the deposed Svengali.

There is nothing more to learn from Bannon about his particular brand of populism, with its blatant overlay of white supremacy.

While we’re at it, there is also nothing more to learn from the die-hard Trump voters in what I’ve called the Endless Diner Series — the media’s recidivistic journeys to the supposed heartland to hear what we’ve heard a thousand times before about blind loyalty in the face of all reason.

There is also nothing more to learn from proven dissemblers, like Kellyanne Conway, who keep being invited onto the top news shows to shamelessly spout whatever falsehood serves the Trumpian moment.

Yes, it’s time, well past time, to stop lending the media’s biggest and most prestigious platforms to this crowd of racists and liars.

Shut them down — not because of ideology or politics, but because there is no news value there.

(click here to continue reading Enough, already, with anything Steve Bannon has to say. We got it the first time. – The Washington Post.)

Indeed.

Ms. Sullivan has more in this vein, and I found myself nodding my head in agreement as I read, which is kinda weird thing to admit, but  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

Written by Seth Anderson

September 4th, 2018 at 10:53 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,