Political Animal Blog

Does Trump Know What the Word ‘Steal’ Means?

Donald Trump sent out an fundraising email on behalf of Karen Handel, the Republican who will be facing Jon Ossoff in a runoff this June for Georgia’s 6th District House seat.

Notice that in the first sentence, he accuses Democrats of spending millions of dollars in an attempt to “steal a Congressional seat from Republicans.” He goes on to suggest that they “will stop an nothing to tear down Karen Handel.”

That last sentence is probably in reference to the fact that both Democrats and the media are pointing out that Handel is best known nationally for a failed attempt to take cancer screening funding from Planned Parenthood – a decision for which she was eventually forced to resign from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. But as Trump has certainly demonstrated, bringing up someone’s history is just the way the game of politics is played.

It is Trump’s accusation that the Democrats are trying to steal the election that is outrageous. You have to wonder whether or not someone as morally bankrupt as this president has a basic understanding of what that word means. However, it lines up with a lot of the things he’s said and done that indicate he really doesn’t have any idea what democracy is all about either.

Remember the “lock her up” chants about Clinton that were so prevalent during the campaign? There was also that time during a debate when he suggested that as president, he’d have his attorney general send her to jail. He talked about changing this country’s libel laws so that he could sue the media for writing/saying things he didn’t like. When the president was angry about the fact that Clinton won the popular vote, he suggested that it was because 3-4 million votes were cast illegally. He went on to accuse his predecessor and Susan Rice of doing something criminal. Now he’s attempting to criminalize protests at his rallies.

What it comes down to is that Trump’s reaction to anything he doesn’t like is to define it as criminal. Back in January, Martin wrote about the 12 early warning signs of fascism posted at the U.S. Holocaust Museum. This tendency is embedded in several of them, but most notably this one: “obsession with crime and punishment.”

You might suggest that this time it was simply a fundraising email for one House seat in Georgia. But using rhetoric about “stealing” an election is serious business in my book.

The White House’s Desperate Plan for Wall Funding

Maybe President Trump’s budget director Mick Mulvaney is just following the advice of his boss, but the hostage he’s taking is affordable health care for millions of Americans. Just read this and try not to gasp:

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said Thursday that he hopes to use negotiations to keep the government open past April 28 in an effort to force Democrats to back some funding for creating a new wall along the U. S-Mexico border — a risky move that could provoke a spending showdown with congressional Democrats next week.

Mulvaney said the White House would be open to funding some of the Democrats’ priorities — such as paying insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act — if Democrats agree to fund some of the more controversial parts of President Trump’s agenda, notably the border wall.

Offering to pay for some of the Democrats’ priorities would mean relenting on slashing the Environmental Protection Agency or monies for the humanities and arts. Saying that you’ll follow the law and give subsidies to people to afford health insurance isn’t a real negotiating tactic. It’s “give us the racist wall or we kill all the poor people.” And it’s not even legal.

It’s consistent with Trump’s method of operation, though. Rather than honor a contract, he’ll refuse to pay it until threatened with legal action. Then he’ll countersue and offer a pittance of what he owes as a reasonable compromise. But his form of gangster capitalism isn’t going to fly with the U.S. Congress or with the courts.

Opposition to the wall is bipartisan, and opposition to this particular gambit is near universal.

Republican leaders and members of the House and Senate appropriations committees had hoped to avoid a spending confrontation early in Trump’s administration by negotiating directly with Democrats, whose votes will be necessary to pass any spending bill. Republicans hold a slim 52-to-48 advantage in the Senate, meaning they will need at least eight Democrats to reach the 60 votes required to pass spending measures in that chamber.

Math. How does it work?

Don’t ask the people in the Trump administration because they’re still operating as if magic can overcome arithmetic.

Mulvaney said that the White House is willing to negotiate, but only if Democrats bend on funding the wall.

“If they tell us to pound sand, I think that’s probably a disappointing indicator of where the next four years is going to go,” Mulvaney said. “If they tell us, however, that they recognize that President Trump won an election, and he should get some of his priorities funded for that reason, elections have consequences, as folks who win always like to say.”

If the Democrats wants some advice, I suggest that they can borrow the following Tweet from former Mexican president Vicente Fox:

The Republican leadership and members of the House and Senate appropriations committees can borrow it, too.

To Prop Up Trump’s Ego, White House Could Trigger a Government Shutdown

A week from today the media will be filled with analysis of Trump’s first 100 days in office. Not only does he have the lowest first quarter job approval rating of any president in modern history, he doesn’t have much of anything to show for all his bluster.

One way to look at that is to review the promises he made in his Contract With the American Voter. He called it his 100-day action plan to make America great again. Among the executive orders he promised, many of them have either been rolled back, diluted or put on hold by the courts. Among the 10 legislative initiatives he promised to introduce and fight for passage within the first 100 days, only one has been produced (repeal of Obamacare) and it never got off the ground in the House.

Trump and the White House are very aware of this dismal record and are frantic to get something done. In the process, they seem to be setting all of us up for an even bigger disaster.

First of all, they are still delusional about the possibility of repealing Obamacare in the House next week.

Legislative text of a new deal that could revive the House Republican bid to repeal Obamacare is likely to be circulated Friday “or by the weekend,” according to two senior White House officials, with an eye toward holding a House floor vote next Wednesday or Thursday.

But Republican congressional leaders are skeptical the vote can happen so quickly. “The question is whether it can get 216 votes in the House and the answer isn’t clear at this time,” said a senior GOP aide. “There is no legislative text and therefore no agreement to do a whip count on.”

You can read about this new plan here. Suffice it to say that it is just as disastrous as their previous attempt. The problem is that the House reconvenes on Tuesday and the White House is demanding a vote before Friday. Never mind what is possible in the Senate because none of this is about actually getting a bill to the president.

Administration officials are feeling inordinate pressure to pass the legislation because of Trump’s impatience and fears that his failure to repeal the health care law will dominate coverage of the administration’s first 100 days, which end next week, officials say.

What makes this push for a vote in the House next week even more appalling is that funding for the federal government runs out on Friday and Congress has to pass a spending bill to avoid a shutdown. Leadership has been working on something akin to another continuing resolution that would simply maintain current spending levels. But the White House has intervened because they need something to show for their first 100 days.

The White House, under internal pressure to show legislative achievements ahead of the 100-day mark, is gearing up for a government shutdown fight to secure money for a border wall, more immigration enforcement officers and a bigger military, according to White House and congressional sources familiar with the plan.

It is a risky gambit. With almost uniform Democratic opposition to nearly all of the Trump administration’s spending proposals, the fight could lead to a government shutdown next Friday.

We’ll watch the machinations over these two issues unfold next week. But the point for today is that the Trump White House is broadcasting that they are very well aware of this president’s dismal record and, in response, they are recklessly intervening in Congress with an agenda to prop up his ego rather than thoughtfully handle the business at hand on behalf of the American people. In doing so, they might very well cause a government shutdown. Welcome to the Trump presidency.

Attorney General Sessions Is an Extremist on Marijuana

Here is Attorney General Jeff Sessions at a Senate Hearing on April 4, 2016:

Of course, this is the same guy who recently said that marijuana is “only slightly less awful than heroin” — which is not only false, but dangerously so.

Yesterday, in honor of 4/20,  CBS released a new poll on American’s attitudes about marijuana. The numbers demonstrate that Sessions is out on a limb on this topic.

Sixty-one percent of Americans think marijuana use should be legal, a five-point increase from last year and the highest percentage ever recorded in this poll. Eighty-eight percent favor medical marijuana use.

Seventy-one percent oppose the federal government’s efforts to stop marijuana sales and its use in states that have legalized it, including opposition from most Republicans, Democrats, and independents.

Sixty-five percent think marijuana is less dangerous than most other drugs. And only 23 percent think legalizing marijuana leads to an increase violent crime.

But just as important, here is what CBS found that relates to what Sessions said at that hearing last year:

If I was writing for a left-wing equivalent of Breitbart, I might have titled this piece, “Sessions Says that Half of Americans Are Not Good People.” But that is not my style. Suffice it to say that, on the issue of marijuana, the current Attorney General is an extremist. This issue is quickly going the way of marriage equality and sooner or later the retrogrades like Jeff Sessions are going to find themselves (to use an apt metaphor) “blowing smoke.”