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Fri Feb 1, 2019, 10:38 PM

Friday Talking Points -- 2020 Democratic Field Gets Bigger By The Day

For a change, we're not going begin with Trump's idiocies-of-the-week. After the whole shutdown fiasco, Trump's had a (relatively) quiet week, so we're instead going to focus on what's going on with Democrats first, and then just quickly itemize Trump's flailing later on.

The biggest news on the Democratic side of the aisle -- as it will be from now until at least the spring of 2020 -- is the presidential contest. The race is getting bigger, as more and more people toss their chapeaux into the ring.

Today's news is that Senator Cory Booker is running. Precisely nobody was surprised at this development. Earlier in the week, Kamala Harris kicked off her campaign in pretty spectacular fashion (more on this later). For those keeping score at home, this means at least four senators will be running: Booker, Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Elizabeth Warren. This list is, however, expected to grow soon, as Bernie Sanders seems on the brink of joining the race.

The full list includes more than just senators, of course. We also currently have two House representatives (John Delaney of Maryland and Tulsi Gabbard of Hawai'i), one former cabinet member (Julián Castro), and one mayor (Pete Buttigieg, of South Bend, Indiana).

This week also brought news which shrinks the final list a bit as well. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti officially declined to run this week, and the first Democrat (West Virginia former state senator Richard Ojeda) officially bowed out of the race.

This leaves Democrats with a total (to date) of eight candidates who have either held some political office or are currently holding office. It doesn't count the gadfly candidates, but with the 2020 field expected to be enormous, they can easily be discounted (at least, for now).

Speculation still abounds for over two dozen other Democrats with either rumors or outright statements that they're possibly interested in a run. We're only one month into 2019, and the Democratic 2020 field is already bigger than it was in 2016. In other words, we're in for a wild ride.

Speaking of wild presidential rides, former head of Starbucks Howard Schultz ran the idea of an independent run up the national flagpole this week, on 60 Minutes. To his chagrin, absolutely nobody saluted his idea. Quite the opposite, in fact. Maybe the whole notion that only a billionaire businessman can save the country has finally died an ignoble death? One can only hope... (more on Schultz in a moment).

And over on the Republican side, Jeff Flake officially announced he won't be challenging Trump in a GOP primary bid, but Maryland Governor Larry Hogan certainly seems like he's considering the idea.

To shift gears a bit, there's currently an enormous sea-change happening right now in the Democratic Party -- some of it from presidential candidates, some of it from a woman who is too young to even run for president. We wrote about this earlier in the week, but still the turnabout is worth noting. All of a sudden, it is no longer frightening for Democratic candidates or officeholders to advocate raising taxes on the rich.

This is a big deal, because Republicans have so effectively used the "tax-and-spend" blunt instrument over the last few decades in the political arena. Roughly from Reagan onwards, the GOP mantra has been: "Tax cuts good; tax hikes bad," by which they really mean: "Tax cuts for rich folks like us good; everyone else can go screw themselves."

Finally -- finally -- the public seems to be coming out of the haze of misguided trickle-down beliefs. Trump's tax cut was the most unpopular tax cut since World War II, which means the time is ripe for Democrats to propose raising taxes on the millionaires and billionaires. The Overton Window has shifted in a big way, and only over the past month or so (which is lightning-fast, really).

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is proposing a 70 percent top marginal income tax rate. Bernie Sanders is proposing raising the estate tax to 77 percent on the wealthiest heirs. Elizabeth Warren is proposing a wealth tax. And the media is taking them all seriously, for once.

They should, because while right-wingers will weep and wail about how "radical" such an idea is, they are just flat-out wrong. Taxing the rich is not only a mainstream idea, it is actually wildly popular:

Voters in the Fox News poll support tax increases on families making more than $10 million annually by a whopping 46-point margin, 70 to 24 percent. In the survey both lower- and higher-income households favor raising taxes on millionaires, and even a majority of self-identified Republicans support higher taxes on incomes over $10 million.


Got all of that? We liked the phrase "whopping 46-point margin" the best, personally. The same article helpfully points out someone else who used to support the idea of a wealth tax, if the poll numbers weren't enough:

Back during his first serious flirtation with running for the White House -- as a Reform Party candidate in the 2000 campaign -- {Donald} Trump released an economic plan centered around a one time 14.25 percent tax on "net worth" over $10 million.

"By my calculations, 1 percent of Americans, who control 90 percent of the wealth in this country, would be affected by my plan," Trump said at the time. "The other 99 percent of the people would get deep reductions in their federal income taxes."


See? Even Trump agrees: Tax the rich!

What else? Speaking of freaking Republicans out, newly-minted Senator Kyrsten Sinema caused some pearl-clutching on the right by wearing a stylish outfit on the Senate floor which consisted of a short dress and thigh-high boots. She looked pretty fabulous, but that didn't stop the faux moralizing on the right. But then, it's pretty hard to take that "holier than thou" attitude anymore, with who they've got in the White House. It just kind of rings hollow these days, doesn't it?

OK, we've got plenty else to get to, so let's just run through the rest of the week in lightning fashion. Nancy Pelosi is so confident she's winning the battle for public opinion on the border wall/shutdown fight that she is allowing Trump to give his State Of The Union speech next Tuesday night -- before the three-week deadline is up. Recent Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams will deliver the Democratic response, it was also announced.

Today, Trump announced that the U.S. will be pulling out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty with Russia. As with any interaction between Putin and Trump, this will bear close scrutiny by all.

Trump threw a hissy fit after watching his Intelligence chiefs brief Congress on how wrong Trump is about just about everything in the world, which sent him into a rage and a tweetstorm. By the end of the week, somehow they had convinced him that they had been "misquoted" (they hadn't been -- the testimony was caught on camera) or "taken out of context" (again, this didn't actually happen). Just more proof that the man in the Oval Office has no freakin' idea what he's doing, we suppose.

Just to rub salt in the wound, the Senate then rebuked Trump's Syria withdrawal policy, with almost all the Republicans voting their displeasure at the president's plan.

Some of all this dysfunction might come from the fact that Trump has an acting defense secretary, and acting chief of staff, and an acting attorney general right now. And that's not even a full list of top White House positions with no permanent appointees.

Let's see, what else? Yet another tell-all book about the Trump White House is out, this one named Team Of Vipers, by Cliff Sims. It tells exactly the same story of chaos and infantile presidential behavior as all the other tell-alls have told.

And finally, another deep dive into the legalized highway robbery known as "asset forfeiture" was published by a South Carolina newspaper. From the Greenville News story:

This yielded a clear picture of what is happening: Police are systematically seizing cash and property -- many times from people who aren't guilty of a crime -- netting millions of dollars each year. South Carolina law enforcement profits from this policing tactic: the bulk of the money ends up in its possession.... These seizures leave thousands of citizens without their cash and belongings or reliable means to get them back. They target black men most, our investigation found -- with crushing consequences when life savings or a small business payroll is taken.


Yet another reminder of why this odious practice needs to be found unconstitutional as soon as possible.

And we close with a quick note about the news that broke while we were writing this article. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has come out and apologized for the yearbook photo of a man in blackface next to a KKK-robed man, but he has as yet not resigned his office.

We give it until Monday morning, at the latest. This is the type of thing that a Democratic politician simply cannot just explain away and apologize over in this day and age. He may not know it yet, but Northam is toast. Again, our best guess: he'll resign by Monday morning, at the absolute latest. This is a fatal political blow.





We considered giving the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award to Stacey Abrams, but felt it was premature. So she'll have to settle for an Honorable Mention instead.

Stacey Abrams was named this week to be the person to deliver the rebuttal to next Tuesday's State Of The Union speech. The choice was, apparently, pretty obvious. Chuck Schumer: "We were sitting around thinking about this three weeks ago, and her name came up. Immediately, everyone in the room said, 'Let's do it.'" Nancy Pelosi seconded this, saying that Abrams: "embodies the American Dream. Her electrifying message of courage, perseverance and hope reinvigorated our nation and our politics, and continues to inspire millions of Americans in every part of the country."

Abrams will be not only the first black woman to give the official response, but also the first person to do so while not currently holding electoral office. That's pretty impressive all around.

We have one other Honorable Mention to give out, as well, in more of a snarky vein. We'd like to honor the first Democrat to drop out of the presidential race. Yes, you read that right.

Less than two weeks after he resigned his West Virginia senate seat to run for president, Richard Ojeda has announced that his campaign is over almost before it began:

"When I was a kid in grade school, my teachers always said that anyone could grow up and become president," Ojeda said. "Unfortunately, what I'm starting to realize is that unless you have wealth, influence and power, it's not gonna happen."

The Army veteran and pro-coal populist Democrat said he couldn't in good conscience ask people to continue donating "to a campaign that's probably not gonna get off the ground."


We're giving Ojeda an award for realizing very early on that his run was doomed. The winnowing of the Democratic field over the next year and a half is going to be brutal, and we will likely see a few candidates hang on long past their "due by" date. So it's refreshing to see someone realize early on that he simply doesn't have a chance.

Snark aside, though, our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week was none other than our own home-state Senator Kamala Harris. She kicked off her campaign last weekend in Oakland, and drew a crowd bigger than Barack Obama managed to draw during his own campaign. That's pretty impressive right there.

We have no idea of what her chances are in the end, and we actually view Harris with a fairly skeptical eye (she, and a few other contenders, became a progressive rather late in her career), but we cannot deny that she has made one of the best (if not "the best" ) campaign launches to date. She actually made her big announcement on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but the Oakland rally was the real kickoff to her campaign. Oakland is pretty friendly territory, since fewer than five percent of the people there voted for Donald Trump.

Harris then followed up her rally with a nationally-broadcast CNN town hall in Iowa, which is about as high-profile as you can get, this early in the race. Republicans immediately took one clip from this event and tried to fearmonger on her support for Medicare For All, but this was yet another example of the mainstream media breathlessly reporting something that everyone who knows anything at all about the subject already knew all along. Yes, single-payer means the removal of the middle-man (health insurance companies) from the equation. But then, it always has. It's not new or anything. And it's not something Harris just invented.

Even with this fake outrage, Harris had an excellent week all around. Previously considered somewhat of a lightweight on the national stage (she's only been in the Senate for a couple of years, after all), this week Kamala Harris leapfrogged straight into frontrunner status. She is now being spoken of in the same breath as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, in other words.

That's a pretty impressive first week for a campaign, and that's why Kamala Harris is the winner of this week's Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award. Maybe she'll flame out at some point, maybe she'll become the Democratic nominee. But whatever ultimately happens, Harris sure did have a great first week.

[Congratulate Senator Kamala Harris on her Senate contact page, to let her know you appreciate her efforts.]





We considered giving the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award to Stacey Abrams, but felt it was premature. So she'll have to settle for an Honorable Mention instead.

Stacey Abrams was named this week to be the person to deliver the rebuttal to next Tuesday's State Of The Union speech. The choice was, apparently, pretty obvious. Chuck Schumer: "We were sitting around thinking about this three weeks ago, and her name came up. Immediately, everyone in the room said, 'Let's do it.'" Nancy Pelosi seconded this, saying that Abrams: "embodies the American Dream. Her electrifying message of courage, perseverance and hope reinvigorated our nation and our politics, and continues to inspire millions of Americans in every part of the country."

Abrams will be not only the first black woman to give the official response, but also the first person to do so while not currently holding electoral office. That's pretty impressive all around.

We have one other Honorable Mention to give out, as well, in more of a snarky vein. We'd like to honor the first Democrat to drop out of the presidential race. Yes, you read that right.

Less than two weeks after he resigned his West Virginia senate seat to run for president, Richard Ojeda has announced that his campaign is over almost before it began:

"When I was a kid in grade school, my teachers always said that anyone could grow up and become president," Ojeda said. "Unfortunately, what I'm starting to realize is that unless you have wealth, influence and power, it's not gonna happen."

The Army veteran and pro-coal populist Democrat said he couldn't in good conscience ask people to continue donating "to a campaign that's probably not gonna get off the ground."


We're giving Ojeda an award for realizing very early on that his run was doomed. The winnowing of the Democratic field over the next year and a half is going to be brutal, and we will likely see a few candidates hang on long past their "due by" date. So it's refreshing to see someone realize early on that he simply doesn't have a chance.

Snark aside, though, our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week was none other than our own home-state Senator Kamala Harris. She kicked off her campaign last weekend in Oakland, and drew a crowd bigger than Barack Obama managed to draw during his own campaign. That's pretty impressive right there.

We have no idea of what her chances are in the end, and we actually view Harris with a fairly skeptical eye (she, and a few other contenders, became a progressive rather late in her career), but we cannot deny that she has made one of the best (if not "the best" ) campaign launches to date. She actually made her big announcement on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but the Oakland rally was the real kickoff to her campaign. Oakland is pretty friendly territory, since fewer than five percent of the people there voted for Donald Trump.

Harris then followed up her rally with a nationally-broadcast CNN town hall in Iowa, which is about as high-profile as you can get, this early in the race. Republicans immediately took one clip from this event and tried to fearmonger on her support for Medicare For All, but this was yet another example of the mainstream media breathlessly reporting something that everyone who knows anything at all about the subject already knew all along. Yes, single-payer means the removal of the middle-man (health insurance companies) from the equation. But then, it always has. It's not new or anything. And it's not something Harris just invented.

Even with this fake outrage, Harris had an excellent week all around. Previously considered somewhat of a lightweight on the national stage (she's only been in the Senate for a couple of years, after all), this week Kamala Harris leapfrogged straight into frontrunner status. She is now being spoken of in the same breath as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, in other words.

That's a pretty impressive first week for a campaign, and that's why Kamala Harris is the winner of this week's Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award. Maybe she'll flame out at some point, maybe she'll become the Democratic nominee. But whatever ultimately happens, Harris sure did have a great first week.

{Congratulate Senator Kamala Harris on her Senate contact page, to let her know you appreciate her efforts.}





{Editor's Note: Please read the entire section, as it has been updated with late-breaking news.}

He says he's been a lifelong Democrat, so for the time being we'll just take him at his word (in terms of qualifying for this award). Howard Schultz, the ex-C.E.O. of Starbucks, this week floated the possibility of a third-party bid for president. Reaction from Democrats was swift and unforgiving, with one predicting that Schultz would be nothing more than: "Ralph Nader, but with money and coffee." Overall, we have to say his flirtation this week has disappointed more Democrats than anything else that happened. So Schultz is the clear winner of the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week.

Schultz, who is a billionaire, announced his flirtation on 60 Minutes last weekend. Since then, he's spent pretty much all his time badmouthing Democrats while remaining curiously silent on Donald Trump and the Republicans:

During an interview Tuesday on NPR's Morning Edition, Schultz, a billionaire, said that Warren's plan for a special 2 percent annual tax on Americans whose net worth exceeds $50 million is 'ridiculous.'... The exchange came just a few hours after Schultz called Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) 'a bit misinformed' and pushed back on her idea of a top marginal tax rate of 70 percent.... Schultz also knocked the views of a policy adviser to Ocasio-Cortez as 'un-American.'" Schultz also referred to Harris's comments on "Medicare-for-all" as "not American."


Democrats didn't take this too kindly. Here's how Warren responded to what Schultz had to say:

"When I see Elizabeth Warren come out with a ridiculous plan of taxing wealthy people a surtax of 2 percent because it makes a good headline or sends out a tweet, when she knows for a fact that's not something that's ever gonna be passed -- this is what's wrong," Schultz said. "You can't just attack these things in a punitive way by punishing people."

Warren, who launched an exploratory committee for a 2020 presidential bid last month, fired back at the billionaire coffee kingpin later that morning.

"What's 'ridiculous' is billionaires who think they can buy the presidency to keep the system rigged for themselves while opportunity slips away for everyone else," Warren wrote on Twitter. "The top 0.1%, who'd pay my #UltraMillionaireTax, own about the same wealth as 90% of America. It's time for change."


Warren wasn't the only one to push back hard against criticism from Schultz:

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) responded on Wednesday to criticism of her tax proposal by former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz with this sharp question: "Why don't people ever tell billionaires who want to run for President that they need to 'work their way up' or that 'maybe they should start with city council first'?"


They weren't the only ones. Schultz, naturally, is in the midst of a book tour. Running for president pretty much always means an autobiographical (and hagiographical) book release, these days. Schultz dropped by a Barnes & Noble in Manhattan for a book signing, and got loudly heckled:

"Don't help elect Trump, you egotistical billionaire asshole!" the heckler shouted. "Go back to getting ratioed on Twitter. Go back to Davos with the other billionaire elite who think they know how to run the world!"

The comments received light boos, and the man was quickly escorted out. Then a few minutes later, a second heckler spoke up.

"Health care is a human right!" Health care is a human right! Health care is a human right! Health care is a human right! Health care is a human right!" he screamed.


The only good news came at the end of the week, when it was revealed that Schultz had (obviously) expected lots of loving support for a third-party bid that just didn't exist. Now, he's apparently rethinking the entire idea, according to FOX Business:

The intense nature of the criticism stunned Schultz, people close to him tell FOX Business. While he expected some carping, he did not foresee the ferocity of some of the vitriol, particularly from the party's top officials and operatives.... What people who have spoken with Schultz agree on is that he is now readjusting his message about the likelihood of an independent presidential campaign. During the 60 Minutes interview, Schultz seemed to be leaning in the direction of entering the race, stating the he is "seriously thinking of running for president... as a centrist independent." But a senior advisor to Schultz told FOX Business on Thursday that Schultz's decision is far from final -- and he won't make up his mind until at least the summer.


But it was Washington Post satirist Alexandra Petri who had the best idea, if Schultz is having second thoughts about what to do next. Her whole article is hilarious, from the opening paragraphs to the closer:

Good news, everyone!

I have thought this all through very carefully, and I have decided what potential independent presidential candidate Howard Schultz should do.

He should go to space.

. . .

Yet! He continues to say he feels a void that is waiting to be filled by his candidacy. What bigger void is there than space! What better place for a third-party candidate than... space? Go to space, Howard! Go to space!


Sounds like a great idea to us. After all, we're in the midst of seeing how a supposed business genius runs the country, so who in their right mind would think that the best person to replace him would be another billionaire with no government experience whatsoever? For his vanity toe-in-the-water independent bid (whether it happens or not), Howard Schultz was clearly this week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week.

{UPDATE:}

OK, parts of this article were written earlier in the day than others. So the above section had already been written when there was late-breaking news from Virginia. Because of the seriousness of the offense, we feel it is absolutely necessary to add a second MDDOTW award this week, for Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, who was already in a political firestorm over comments that had been taken out of context in a fierce late-term abortion law debate. Obviously, someone dug in and did some opposition research, because the following story just appeared:

A photograph on Gov. Ralph Northam (D)'s medical school yearbook page shows a man wearing blackface next to another person in Ku Klux Klan robe.

The image is in a 1984 yearbook from Eastern Virginia Medical School on a page with other photos of Northam and personal information about the future governor.

Northam, a pediatric neurologist, graduated from the Norfolk medical school in 1984 after earlier graduating from Virginia Military Institute.

The page is labeled Ralph Shearer Northam, along with pictures of him in a jacket and tie, casual clothes and alongside his restored Corvette.

It shows two people, one in plaid pants, bow tie and black faced, and the other in full Klan robes. Both men appear to be holding beer cans.


These are individual pages where the student gets to choose the photos, layout, and text, mind you. It's not some random juxtaposition, in other words. And that photo is absolutely indefensible. Seriously, take a look, and see if you can imagine any apology that Northam could now make which would save his political career.

As of this writing, Northam still holds office. But that may not last until this article is published. This is such a serious offense that it wouldn't surprise us in the least if he steps down by the end of the day.

For now, we will pile on the condemnation with a second Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week. This was graduate school, not a high-school prank. Even if it had been, it probably still would be just as disqualifying for any member in good standing of the Democratic Party of today.

{Howard Schultz is still a private citizen, and our policy is not to give out contact information for such persons. However, if there's still time before he steps down, you can contact Virginia Governor Ralph Northam on his official contact page, to let him know what you think of his actions. Note: We had problems with verifying this link, so can't swear it's the right one.}




Volume 516 (2/1/19)

Once again, we have a rather mixed bag of talking points this week. In fact, we've really got a 5-for-1 bonus talking point at the end, to squeeze even more into our format.

Oh, but before we begin, we didn't know where else to put this, but if you'd like a smile to start off your weekend, check out this adorable photo series of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaking to fellow Democrat Representative Gerry Connolly during the recess of a recent House committee hearing. We have no idea what was being said, but she seemed to be getting some advice from an experienced fellow Democrat. All was well by the end, as that last photo proves.

OK, enough of that. Let's just get on with the show.



Tax the rich!

A resurgence of an old rallying cry for Democrats

"You know what? Democrats have been far too afraid for far too long to just come out and say what needs to happen in this country to fix some of the glaring inequality, so I'll just flat-out say it -- tax the rich! Taxing rich people and Wall Street more is not some fringe idea or some radical proposal, because pretty much every time the idea is polled the numbers show the public is overwhelmingly in favor of doing so. Red state voters, blue state voters, Republicans, Democrats, Independents -- it doesn't matter. They're all for raising taxes on the obscenely wealthy. The most recent of these polls was from Fox News, even. It showed that a majority of voters favored a tax on the wealthy so the government could spend more on things like infrastructure, national defense, education, and health care. The Fox poll showed that increasing taxes on those who make more than $10 million a year -- exactly what Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez just proposed -- is favored by 70-to-24 percent. Low-income households, high-income households, and even a majority of Republicans favored taxing the rich. Tax the rich is the new rallying cry for Democrats because the public is already on their side. No matter how much the right-wing media tries to portray this idea as some wacky radical notion, they are just flat-out wrong. Taxing the rich is not just a mainstream idea, it is overwhelmingly popular."



Trump smacked down by Intelligence

Without the capital "I" that would be a phrase that could be used just about any week, but this time it's specific.

"The heads of the country's Intelligence services all disagreed with President Trump on foreign policy this week, on the record in a congressional hearing. The five biggest areas where Trump is living in fantasyland, versus factual reality: North Korea is 'unlikely to comply give up its nuclear weapons.' The Islamic State is not defeated. Iran is in full compliance with the nuclear deal that Trump pulled out of, and are not currently trying to build a nuclear weapon. Russia is still attempting to interfere with our elections. And finally, none of the intelligence officials said there is any sort of security crisis or national emergency on our southern border. In other words, our president has no idea what is going on in the rest of the world, and refuses to admit reality."



Senate smacks Trump down

This point was further made in Mitch McConnell's Senate this week.

"The Senate just voted decisively, 68-to-23, to disavow Trump's stated goal of a precipitous withdrawal of American troops from Syria. This is just the latest of a number of times that Mitch McConnell has had to push back against Trump's worst foreign policy impulses. While 25 Democrats voted yes, the majority of the support for the non-binding measure came from Republicans who are obviously afraid that Trump is about to commit a big blunder on the world stage. The message of this stinging rebuke couldn't be clearer: listen to the people who know what is actually going on rather than just your gut feelings, Mister President."



Democrats stronger than Republicans on border security

Rub this one in, because it hurts them so much to hear about.

"Donald Trump shut the government down over not getting his precious border wall. Not only did this send his own job approval ratings down, but it hurt his entire party as well. A new poll out shows that Americans now trust Democrats more than Trump on border security, by 50 percent to 41 percent. This issue almost always favors Republicans, but no more. Back in November, before the shutdown, the public trusted Republicans by a margin of 49 percent to 39 percent. That's the real legacy of Trump's shutdown -- the public has lost trust in him and his party to do what is right."



Wouldn't know what to do with the money anyway

This needs a lot more attention than it has been getting.

"The Trump White House says it needs billions to beef up border security, but it really needs to get its own act together on this front. We already gave Trump $300 million to hire 7,500 new Border Patrol agents over five years. They spent over $60 million of this on a consulting firm which has produced only 33 new hires, out of a total gain last year of only 120 new agents. The target was supposed to have been 2,700 new agents per year. Even when we give Trump the money for border security that he wants, he is absolutely incompetent when spending it, obviously. One management company has made out like bandits -- to the tune of almost $2 million per new agent hired. What an obscene waste of taxpayer money!"



Gag me with some duct tape

Rachel Maddow put this one to rest.

"Throughout all of January -- including one period where he mentioned it 22 times in 10 days -- President Trump has been telling a bizarre story that has no basis in actual reality. He quite graphically describes women being trafficked across our southern border who have been gagged and restrained by duct tape. There have been no such incidents. The administration even sent a memo out asking Border Patrol agents to recount any such instances, but they haven't gotten any such stories back yet that they've publicly admitted. Instead, it took Rachel Maddow to point out that this (and other fanciful border horror stories Trump has been telling) may have come from a recent movie, Sicario: Day of the Soldado. As Maddow put it: 'Now, in any normal administration it would be insane to suggest... even joke about the president of the United States seeing stuff in a movie... and maybe thinking it was real -- or at least real enough to justify an actual military deployment of thousands of active duty U.S. troops to the border.' She's right. It would be insane... with any other president. But not with this one. Trump thinks the movies he watches are actual reality, and he is basing his foreign policy on fiction. Strange but true, sadly."



Mitch's "power grab"

Hoo boy... let the fireworks begin! Mitch McConnell gave a speech on the Senate floor this week, denouncing H.R. 1, the first bill proposed by Nancy Pelosi's House. In particular, he called the provision that would make Election Day a federal holiday some sort of sneaky Democratic "power grab." Democrats (and plenty of others) were quick to ridicule the idea. Here's just a sampling of the tweets McConnell's comment generated:

Senator Elizabeth Warren:

What exactly does @senatemajldr Mitch McConnell have against more Americans voting? Of course Congress should make it easier for Americans to vote on Election Day. And we need a constitutional amendment establishing a nationally recognized right to vote.


Representative Ted Lieu:

I'm sort of happy that McConnell fears making election day a federal holiday. It's such a frank acknowledgement that the GOP's ideas are not accepted by the majority of American voters.

Any party that is scared of people exercising the right to vote, will eventually be doomed.


Senator Kirsten Gillibrand:

Voting isn't a "power grab". It's democracy, and it's literally the entire point of our representative government.

And by the way: Not only should Election Day be a federal holiday, we need automatic voter registration and universal mail voting, too.


The Vermont Secretary of State:

Ensuring that every eligible voter can cast their ballot isn't a 'power grab,' it's a fundamental (and Constitutionally protected) right!

Election Day should be a federal holiday. We ALL win when more voters participate in our democratic process. What are we even arguing about?


And, finally, Dan Rather put it into some historical context:

If making Election Day a national holiday is a "power grab" what would you say about other expansions of the vote? Say the 19th Amendment? Democracy is best when it's inclusive and accessible.





Chris Weigant blogs at: ChrisWeigant.com
Follow Chris on Twitter: ChrisWeigant
Full archives of FTP columns: FridayTalkingPoints.com
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