Thoughts from Blue Blaze Irregular Will Reichard
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The Racial Demagoguery of Trump’s Assaults on Colin Kaepernick and Steph Curry

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Every day, and in countless and unexpected ways, Donald Trump, the President of the United States, finds new ways to divide and demoralize his country and undermine the national interest. On Thursday, he ranted from the lectern of the U.N. General Assembly about “Rocket Man” and the possibility of levelling North Korea. Now he has followed with an equally unhinged domestic performance at a rally, on Friday evening, in Huntsville, Alabama, where he set out to make African-American athletes the focus of national contempt.

In the midst of an eighty-minute speech intended to heighten the reëlection prospects of Senator Luther Johnson Strange III, Trump turned his attention to N.F.L. players, including the former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and asked a mainly white crowd if “people like yourselves” agreed with his anger at “those people,” players who take a knee during the national anthem to protest racism.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these N.F.L. owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired!’ ” Trump continued. “You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s gonna say, ‘That guy disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it. They don’t know it. They’re friends of mine, many of them. They don’t know it. They’ll be the most popular person, for a week. They’ll be the most popular person in the country.”

“People like yourselves.” “Those people.” “Son of a bitch.” This was the same sort of racial signalling that followed the Fascist and white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. It is no longer a matter of “dog whistling.” This is a form of racial demagoguery broadcast at the volume of a klaxon. There is no need for Steve Bannon’s behind-the-scenes scriptwriting. Trump, who is desperate to distract his base from his myriad failures of policy, from health care to immigration, is perfectly capable of devising his racist rhetoric all on his own.

In these performances, Trump is making clear his moral priorities. He is infinitely more offended by the sight of a black ballplayer quietly, peacefully protesting racism in the United States than he is by racism itself. Which, at this point, should come as no surprise to any but the willfully obtuse. Trump, who began his real-estate career with a series of discriminatory housing deals in New York City, and his political career with a racist calumny against Barack Obama, has repeatedly defined his Presidency with a rhetoric that signals solidarity to resentful souls who see the Other as the singular cause of their troubles. Trump stokes a bilious disdain for every African-American who dares raise a voice to protest the injustices of this country.

And lest there be any doubt about his intentions or allegiances, Trump tweeted this afternoon, “If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do.”

In addition to urging the N.F.L.’s owners to fire any politically impertinent players, Trump also disinvited the N.B.A. champions, the Golden State Warriors, from visiting the White House after one of the team’s stars, Stephen Curry, voiced hesitation about meeting with the President.

Twitter was alight with players and others rushing to the support of those on the receiving end of Trump’s barbs.

“Going to the White House was a great honor until you showed up!” LeBron James said. Many professional athletes tweeted in the same spirit as James, and even the N.F.L. commissioner, Roger Goodell, who has hardly been stalwart in the interests of his players, issued a statement calling Trump’s comments “divisive” and showing an “unfortunate lack of respect” for the league and its players. Compared to the N.B.A. commissioner, Adam Silver, who has been consistently anti-racist and supportive of the players’ right to protest, Goodell is a distinctly corporate figure, whose instinct is nearly always to side with the owners. (At least six N.F.L. owners each contributed a million dollars, or more, to Trump’s Inauguration fund, including Woody Johnson, of the Jets, Robert Kraft, of the Patriots, and Daniel Snyder, of the Redskins.)

Trump has experience in professional sports––with boxing, as a casino operator; with football, as an owner. (And if professional wrestling counts, the man is practically a charter member of the W.W.F.) In the eighties, he was the owner of the New Jersey Generals, a team in the ill-fated United States Football League, which played its games in the spring. He was reportedly interested in buying the Buffalo Bills as recently as three years ago.

And yet his sympathy for the players is minimal. Not only does he try to isolate them as ungrateful anthem-defiling millionaires, he also could not care less about their health. No matter how many reports are issued making clear that the sport has left countless players suffering from all manner of neurological diseases, Trump is unimpressed. C.T.E. injuries in football seem to be no more a reality to him than climate change.

At a rally in Lakeville, Florida, during the Presidential campaign, Trump aroused the crowd by insisting that the N.F.L., which has hardly gone to great lengths to protect its players, was “ruining the game” by inflicting penalties on players who, say, hit the quarterback too late. “See, we don’t go by these new and very much softer N.F.L. rules. Concussion? Oh! Oh! ‘Got a little ding in the head—no, no, you can’t play for the rest of the season.’ Our people are tough.”

What Trump is up to with this assault on athletes, particularly prominent black ones, is obvious; it is part of his larger culture war. Divide. Inflame. Confuse. Divert. And rule. He doesn’t care to grapple with complexity of any kind, whether it’s about the environment, or foreign affairs, or race, or the fact that a great American sport may, by its very nature, be irredeemable. Rather than embody any degree of dignity, knowledge, or unifying embrace, Trump is a man of ugliness, and the damage he does, speech after speech, tweet after tweet, deepens like a coastal shelf. Every day, his Presidency takes a toll on our national fabric. How is it possible to argue with the sentiment behind LeBron James’s concise tweet at Trump: “U Bum”? It isn’t.

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wreichard
4 hours ago
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"Every day, and in countless and unexpected ways, Donald Trump, the President of the United States, finds new ways to divide and demoralize his country and undermine the national interest."
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wreichard
4 hours ago
"“See, we don’t go by these new and very much softer N.F.L. rules. Concussion? Oh! Oh! ‘Got a little ding in the head—no, no, you can’t play for the rest of the season.’ Our people are tough.”"
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Exclusive: Trump, GOP to cut top rate to 35 percent

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President Trump and Republican leaders plan to cut the top tax rate for the wealthiest Americans to 35 percent and dramatically reduce taxes on big and small businesses, according to details leaked to Axios.

Why it matters: It's the first glimpse of the tax reform plan agreed upon in secret between the "Big Six" congressional leaders and administration officials. It forms the starting point of the tax reform process, which will play out over the coming months.


The big change: The GOP leaders and the White House plan to cut the top tax rate for small businesses — known as "pass-throughs" — from 39.6 percent to 25 percent. (Currently small businesses pay the same tax rates as individuals, and this puts them at a disadvantage to larger corporations, which pay lower rates.)

The so-called "Big Six" tax framework — named because it's been hashed out behind closed doors between six top Republicans and administration officials — will set up a clash with Democrats over the tax breaks that apply to large corporations and upper income Americans.

  • Most Democrats have already drawn a red line on tax reform: 45 out of 48 Democratic senators signed a letter saying they wouldn't support any tax bill that adds to the deficit or offers new tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans.
  • But Republicans are desperate for a win and appear on course to fund tax cuts with a blend of deficit spending and the closing of loopholes. They will dare Democrats, especially the 10 senators up for re-election in states Trump won, to vote against tax breaks for their constituents.

What’s next: President Trump is planning to give a speech unveiling the Big Six framework in Indiana on Wednesday, three sources said. The framework is the starting point for the tax reform process. It reflects the shared view of the Big Six, but it will inevitably change substantially as it goes through the normal legislative processes in the House and Senate.

(The "Big Six" are House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, White House economic adviser Gary Cohn, and the chairmen of the two tax-writing committees — Senate Finance Committee chairman Orrin Hatch and House Ways and Means chairman Kevin Brady.)

The details, per three sources with knowledge of the plan:

  • Top individual tax rate cut from 39.6 to 35. The current seven income tax brackets collapsed to three, as part of simplification. (Axios hasn't obtained the other two rates.)
  • Axios can confirm that the Big Six agreed to cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. That key detail leaked last night to the Washington Post. (Trump has said he wants the corporate rate to be 15 percent.)
  • The Big Six framework is also expected to include guardrails to prevent wealthy people from artificially lowering their income taxes by rearranging their affairs to get taxed at the small business rate.
  • We can confirm, too, WashPo's reporting that under the Big Six framework there'll only be three individual income tax brackets rather than the current seven, and that Republicans plan to double the standard deduction — a boost for the middle class and a key component of simplification.

These Big Six decisions have been held incredibly tightly, but details began leaking out around Capitol Hill on Friday night and the corporate rate was first published by the Washington Post's Hill team. By Saturday, influential figures on K Street were beginning to learn more details.

Some problems the Big Six could run into:

  • The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB,) the leading small business association, wants to equalize the small business rate and the corporate rate. Under the current plan, that's not happening. The corporate rate will be 20 percent and the small business rate 25 percent. "That's going to be controversial, but it's not a deal-breaker I don't think," said a source close to the process.
  • House conservatives — especially the Freedom Caucus — haven't been involved in the Big Six discussions and they want the corporate rate to be much lower, at 16 percent. Republican leaders say there's no way that's going to happen, and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin agrees.
  • The Trump tax plan will likely add to deficits, at least in the short term, which will bother some deficit hawks. But tax reform advocates were heartened when, just this week, Senate Republicans on the Budget Committee cut a deal that would reduce government revenue by as much as $1.5 trillion over 10 years. Republicans argue that, with economic growth spurred by the tax reform, there'll be substantially less lost revenue than $1.5 trillion.
  • Realtors and home builders won't be happy with the doubling of the standard deduction. That's because lots more people will take the standard deduction and many fewer will itemize their tax returns. A prevailing belief in the real estate world is that under those conditions fewer people will take the mortgage interest deduction, which could mean fewer homes being purchased.
  • Whichever groups are hit up for the "pay-fors" — the loopholes being closed — will inevitably form lobby groups and oppose those elements of the plan.



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wreichard
5 hours ago
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Louis XIV approves.
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The ACA *is* a bipartisan solution to healthcare

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Arizona Senator John McCain has publicly come out against the latest Republican attempt to repeal the ACA. His statement begins:

As I have repeatedly stressed, health care reform legislation ought to be the product of regular order in the Senate. Committees of jurisdiction should mark up legislation with input from all committee members, and send their bill to the floor for debate and amendment. That is the only way we might achieve bipartisan consensus on lasting reform, without which a policy that affects one-fifth of our economy and every single American family will be subject to reversal with every change of administration and congressional majority.

I would consider supporting legislation similar to that offered by my friends Senators Graham and Cassidy were it the product of extensive hearings, debate and amendment. But that has not been the case. Instead, the specter of September 30th budget reconciliation deadline has hung over this entire process.

Many opponents of the ACA repeal are hailing McCain as a hero for going against his party leadership on this issue. I don’t see it — he’d still support a bill like Graham-Cassidy that would take away healthcare coverage from millions of Americans if only it were the result of proper procedure — particularly because of what he says next (italics mine):

We should not be content to pass health care legislation on a party-line basis, as Democrats did when they rammed Obamacare through Congress in 2009.

This is false. The NY Times’ David Leonhardt explained back in March during another Republican repeal effort:

When Barack Obama ran for president, he faced a choice. He could continue moving the party to the center or tack back to the left. The second option would have focused on government programs, like expanding Medicare to start at age 55. But Obama and his team thought a plan that mixed government and markets — farther to the right of Clinton’s — could cover millions of people and had a realistic chance of passing.

They embarked on a bipartisan approach. They borrowed from Mitt Romney’s plan in Massachusetts, gave a big role to a bipartisan Senate working group, incorporated conservative ideas and won initial support from some Republicans. The bill also won over groups that had long blocked reform, like the American Medical Association.

But congressional Republicans ultimately decided that opposing any bill, regardless of its substance, was in their political interest. The consultant Frank Luntz wrote an influential memo in 2009 advising Republicans to talk positively about “reform” while also opposing actual solutions. McConnell, the Senate leader, persuaded his colleagues that they could make Obama look bad by denying him bipartisan cover.

Adam Jentleson, former Deputy Chief of Staff for Senator Harry Reid, said basically the same thing on Twitter:

The votes were party-line, but that was a front manufactured by McConnell. He bragged about it at the time. McConnell rarely gives much away but he let the mask slip here, saying he planned to oppose Obamacare regardless of what was in the bill. Those who worked on and covered the bill know there were GOP senators who wanted to support ACA — but McConnell twisted their arms. On Obamacare, Democrats spent months holding hearings and seeking GOP input — we accepted 200+ GOP amendments!

For reference, here was the Senate vote, straight down party lines. Hence the “ramming” charge…if you didn’t know any better. Luckily, Snopes does know better.

According to Mark Peterson, chair of the UCLA Department of Public Policy, one easy metric by which to judge transparency is the number of hearings held during the development of a bill, as well as the different voices heard during those hearings. So far, the GOP repeal efforts have been subject to zero public hearings.

In contrast, the ACA was debated in three House committees and two Senate committees, and subject to hours of bipartisan debate that allowed for the introduction of amendments. Peterson told us in an e-mail that he “can’t recall any major piece of legislation that was completely devoid of public forums of any kind, and that were crafted outside of the normal committee and subcommittee structure to this extent”.

The Wikipedia page about the ACA tells much the same story.

Tags: Adam Jentleson   David Leonhardt   John McCain   healthcare   politics
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wreichard
9 hours ago
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This is really the ultimate insult of repeal and replace...that it was already for all intents and purposes an extreme compromise for anything remotely "liberal."
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jhamill
12 hours ago
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In a 24 hour news cycle, memories are short, which is less than ideal.
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angelchrys
8 hours ago
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Overland Park, KS
Technicalleigh
10 hours ago
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SF Bay area, CA (formerly ATL)
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Homeland Security Just Took A Year To Tell States They Got Hacked By Russia. THEY WERE ON A BREAK.

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If we didn’t know better, we might just think the Trump administration was trying to hide the extent of Russian hacking in the 2016 election. Yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security told elections officials in 21 states that Russian hackers had attempted to breach their voting systems in the run up to the 2016 election. DHS waited an entire year after the attacks took place to tell the states, and they left it up to local officials to disclose whether and to what extent they’d been hacked. Yours is not to question the voting system! Just watch your Fox News, show up with your drivers license, and stand in that line come November. AND BE GRATEFUL THAT THEY LET YOU DO THAT!

We turn now to Chris Cillizza for trenchant commentary.

OR NOT.

Let’s just see if we have our timeline right. A little tick tock, as the kids might say.

  1. Summer 2016: Russian hackers stage waves of attacks on American voting systems, targeting a reported 39 states, according to Bloomberg.
  2. July 2016: Wikilieaks publishes stolen DNC emails. Julian Assange pinky swears he didn’t get them from Russians.
  3. Also July 2016: CIA gets involved at the highest levels.
  4. July 27, 2016: Donald Trump urges Russia to hack Hillary Clinton and determine if she’s hiding any emails. As one does.
  5. August 2016: Obama learns of “Vladi­mir Putin’s direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the U.S. presidential race” and receives first confirmation that hackers are trying to penetrate electoral systems across the country.
  6. August 15, 2016: DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson has conference call on Russian hacking, Republicans refuse to go along with enquiry. Mitch McConnell blocks disclosure or efforts to resist hacking, saying he doubts the underlying intelligence.
  7. Also August, 2016: CIA Director John Brennan calls Russian counterpart and tells him to stop trying to hack the American election.
  8. October 7, 2016: DNI James Clapper and DHS head Jeh Johnson announce conclusively that Russians are trying to hack American election. Americans are too busy with the Access Hollywood Pussygrabbing video release that day to notice. Thanks, Jor-El Obama!
  9. October and November 2016: Russians pay in rubles for Facebook ads microtargeting voters in swing states. Thanks, Judas Mark Zuckerberg!
  10. November 8, 2016: Donald Trump wins election. One small step for man, one great leap forward for the Doomsday Clock.

Don’t get us wrong, we’re glad that you guys at DHS finally got around to acknowledging what everyone knows. BUT WHAT THE HELL TOOK YOU SO LONG? Were you perhaps trying to prop up the ego of one demented old loon who is so sensitive about his illegitimate win that his first official act was to try to force the National Park Service to lie about the crowd size at his inauguration? And also? WHAT HAPPENED TO THE OTHER EIGHTEEN HACKED STATES?

The CIA, FBI, DNI and NSA all agree that Russians hacked our election. But Commander Twitter Fingers is still denying it.

So you’ll forgive our skepticism when states assure us that hackers were only successful in breaching Illinois’s system. Don’t you worry your pretty little head, they say, those pesky Russians were no match for our super-ironclad cyberwalls. As Reid Magney, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Elections Commission, told the Post,

What this boils down to is that someone tried the door knob and it was locked.

NO. JUST NO. We have absolutely no reason to trust DHS when they tell us that Russians tried to change the vote tallies, but they couldn’t get there.

In June, Samuel Liles, the Department of Homeland Security’s acting director of the Office of Intelligence and Analysis Cyber Division, testified that 21 states had been affected by the Russian hacking and said that vote-tallying machines were unaffected. He told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the hackers seemed to be looking for vulnerabilities, an exercise that he compared to walking down the street and looking at houses to see who might be inside.

Because the Russian government trying to destabilize America and manipulate our electoral process is exactly like some tweaker peeking in the window looking to grab a stereo he can pawn for cash! Every month we get another disclosure about the extent of Russian hacking, and the Administration is fucking around with Kris Kobach and his sham search for vote fraud.

Want to see how fast hackers can break into our voting machines? Here, have a video.


Meanwhile, Bob Kolasky, the acting undersecretary from DHS who got trotted out to reassure the public that everything is fine, told the Post that the agency thought real hard about it over the past year, and decided that they should probably tell the states that they’d been hacked.

We heard feedback from the secretaries of state that this was an important piece of information. […] We agreed that this information would help election officials make security decisions.

YA THINK?

Kolasky said that DHS will henceforth “have a bias to get information to [the states] as quickly as we can, and we are building protocols to notify them in a timely fashion.”

Gee, thanks, Bob! Just one quick question, though.

WHY THE HELL WOULD WE BELIEVE YOU THIS TIME? And General John Kelly, what was he doing with his time before leaving DHS to make the Oval Office Great Again? Don’t worry your pretty head about that! Grab a brewski and stay in your lane. There’s football on!

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wreichard
10 hours ago
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Wonkette is pretty much the last possible tone for responding to this. It’s just the Twilight Zone.
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Laugh-Out-Loud Cats #2925

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Laugh-Out-Loud Cats #2925

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wreichard
12 hours ago
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Poor Pip.
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Julian Assange Has Thoughts About Lincoln

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Were you waiting with baited breath for Julian Assange’s thoughts about Abraham Lincoln?

If we accept my complete bullshit about American politics after I did more than any other person (along with my good buddies Vladimir Putin and Glenn Greenwald) to elect Donald Trump, then I am sure you will want to hear more about my discussions of American presidential history. Sure, I would have worked with Lord Palmerston to undermine that National Security State bastard Lincoln in favor of good Americans who aren’t going to start wars with foreign powers or clamp down on dissent like Stephen A. Douglas or Andrew Johnson. It’s what any good rapist hiding out in the Ecuadoran Embassy would do! Let’s start by thinking of all the people “Lincoln killed” without giving a damn about the 4 million slaves in the United States that the Civil War freed. And I am really shocked that Julian Assange doesn’t really care about slavery! Shocked I tell you!!!!

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wreichard
1 day ago
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Silly reporters. The buck only stops with women and minorities.
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