Do you depend on Social Security and Medicare? Get ready to lose it says Mitch McConnell — he plans to take it away

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called on Congress to rein in major government programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security in order to slow America’s spiraling national debt on Tuesday, ignoring the fact the tax plan he recently passed has further grown that number.

“It’s very disturbing, and it’s driven by the three big entitlement programs that are very popular: Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. That’s 70 percent of what we spend every year,” he said on Bloomberg News Tuesday when asked about the national debt. “There’s been a bipartisan reluctance to tackle entitlement changes because of the popularity of those programs. Hopefully at some point here we’ll get serious about this. We haven’t been yet.”

McConnell’s comments give Democrats more fodder for an argument that they’ve been making in campaigns across the map: That the GOP will ultimately try to pay for its tax cuts by slashing social programs.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected that the GOP tax cuts would add $1.9 trillion to the national debt over the next decade. The loss of government revenue from the cuts has been a larger proportional loss than what was caused by the Great Recession, according to the New York Times.

Trump’s attacks on the press are illegal. We are suing.

President Donald J. Trump’s frequent threats and hostile acts directed toward journalists and the media are not only offensive and unbecoming of a democratic leader; they are also illegal. In the Trump era, nasty rhetoric, insults and even threats of violence have become an occupational hazard for political reporters and commentators. To be sure, a good portion of President Trump’s verbal attacks on journalists and news organizations might be considered fair game in this bare-knuckled political moment. The president has free-speech rights just like the rest of us, and deeming the news media “the enemy of the American people” and dismissing accurate reports as “fake news” are permissible under the First Amendment.

But the First Amendment does not protect all speech. Although the president can launch verbal tirades against the press, he cannot use the powers of his office to suppress or punish speech he doesn’t like. When President Trump proposes government retribution against news outlets and reporters, his statements cross the line. Worse still, in several cases it appears that the bureaucracy he controls has acted on his demands, making other threats he issues to use his governmental powers more credible. Using the force of the presidency to punish or suppress legally protected speech strikes at the heart of the First Amendment, contravening the Constitution. Presidents are free to mock, needle, evade and even demean the press, but not to use the power of government to stifle it.

That is why this week PEN America, an organization of writers that defends free expression, together with the nonprofit organization Protect Democracy and the Yale Law School Media Freedom and Information Clinic, is filing suit in federal court seeking an order directing the president not to use the force of his office to exact reprisals against the press.

While the president’s actions are unprecedented, the law here is established. A 2015 judicial opinion by the Seventh Circuit’s (now-retired) Judge Richard Posner makes clear that “a public official who tries to shut down an avenue of expression of ideas and opinions through actual or threatened imposition of government power or sanction is violating the First Amendment.” Similarly, a 2003 Second Circuit opinion found that the First Amendment was violated when an official’s statements “can reasonably be interpreted as intimating that some form of punishment or adverse regulatory action will follow the failure to accede to the official’s request.’”

President Trump has engaged repeatedly in precisely the kind of behavior those courts have found unlawful.

Trump’s 60 Minutes interview: Bobbing, weaving, lying

As he so often does, President Trump falsely declared on “60 Minutes” that North Korea and the United States were going to war before he stepped in to thwart it.

Interviewer Lesley Stahl was having none of it. “We were going to war?”

Trump immediately retreated to safer ground, expressing a view rather than trying to assert a fact: “I think it was going to end up in war,” he said, before moving on to his “impression” of the situation.

The 26-minute interview that aired Oct. 14 was typical Trump — bobbing and weaving through a litany of false claims, misleading assertions and exaggerated facts. Trump again demonstrated what we have known for a long time: His rhetoric is based on lying, and he will be as deceptive as his audience will allow.

The stage of “60 Minutes” was one of the more difficult public settings Trump has allowed himself to be put in. It was the rare national audience outside the friendly confines of Fox News and in a one-on-one, televised interview with a skilled reporter who challenged him repeatedly.

The result was Trump resorting to all of his favored moves to sidestep the truth.

On Stahl’s first question, about whether Trump still thinks climate change is a hoax, the president dodged by saying “something’s happening.” He then completely reversed course and declared that climate change is not a hoax and that “I’m not denying climate change.”

Trump also falsely said the climate will change back again, even though the National Climate Assessment approved by his White House last year said that there was no turning back. He said he did not know whether climate change was man-made, though the same report said “there is no convincing alternative” posed by the evidence.

Trump did his usual shrug when asked whether North Korea is building more nuclear missiles. “Well, nobody really knows. I mean, people are saying that.” Among the people who are saying that are U.S. intelligence agencies, who have concluded that North Korea does not intend to fully surrender its nuclear stockpile and is instead working to conceal its weapons and production facilities.

Even when he adjusts his rhetoric, at times contradicting what he has just said, Trump almost always appears to believe firmly in what he is saying. While he quibbled with Stahl over some details regarding North Korea, for instance, he refused to concede error on the big picture.

He dismissed a question from Stahl about a shout-out he gave to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at one of his recent rallies — “we fell in love” — as “just a figure of speech.” Yet he went on to insist that Kim had agreed to denuclearization, a goal long sought by U.S. presidents.

Kim actually has only signed a nonbinding statement of goals — and the goal to “work towards complete denuclearization” was listed third. The communique the two men signed was far less detailed than a declaration issued by North and South Korea more than a quarter century ago, with little consequence.

On trade, the president continues to suggest that deficits mean the United States is losing money: “I told President Xi we cannot continue to have China take $500 billion a year out of the United States.”

That’s wrong. The trade deficit just means Americans are buying more Chinese products than the Chinese are buying from the United States, not that the Chinese are somehow stealing U.S. money. Trade deficits are also affected by macroeconomic factors, such as the relative strength of currencies, economic growth rates, and savings and investment rates.

Trump also continues to misstate the trade deficit with China. It’s not $500 billion, as he told Stahl; it was $335 billion in 2017, according to U.S. government figures. The United States imported $505 billion of goods from China, so maybe that’s where Trump gets his number.

Curiously, he denied to Stahl that he ever said he was engaged in a trade war with China, even though he has said and tweeted it many times, including on Fox News last week. He insisted he had only called it a “battle” — a term he has used at times — but was now suddenly downgrading it to a mere “skirmish.”

He also falsely said that “the European Union was formed in order to take advantage of us on trade.” That’s a misreading of history, at best. The E.U. got its start shortly after World War II as the European Coal and Steel Community — an early effort to bind together bitter enemies such as Germany and France in a common economic space to promote peace.

Trump surfaced another old favorite knock on U.S. allies — “we shouldn’t be paying almost the entire cost of NATO to protect Europe.” Actually, the United States pays 22 percent of NATO’s common fund. Trump keeps counting U.S. defense spending devoted to patrolling the Pacific Ocean and other parts of the world as part of NATO funding.

When it was pointed out that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, a former general who served in the military for 44 years, says he believes NATO had kept the peace for 70 years, Trump sniffed, “I think I know more about it than he does.”

Questioned about Russian interference in the 2016 election, Trump conceded that “they meddled.” But he added, “I think China meddled, too.” When Stahl said he was “diverting the whole Russia thing,” Trump insisted he was not. “I’m not doing anything,” he demurred. “I’m saying Russia, but I’m also saying China.”

There is no evidence China engaged in the same disinformation effort as Russia, which intelligence agencies have said was designed to swing the election toward Trump.

Finally, Trump continued his habit of mischaracterizing what his predecessor did. He claimed that Barack Obama “gave away” the Crimea region of Ukraine, when actually Russia seized it and Obama then led an effort to impose sanctions in response.

He also falsely claimed that “Obama had the same thing” as Trump’s controversial family separation policy on the border. This is wrong. There is a collection of policies and court rulings spanning Democratic and Republican administrations, but none required the Trump administration to separate children from their families, as Stahl correctly noted.

“I wanted the laws changed,” Trump said. But his preferred approach failed in the Senate, getting only 36 of 51 possible Republican votes. He has made little effort to negotiate a compromise.

In one of the testier back-and-forths, Trump tried to shut down Stahl with one line that was indisputably true: “I’m president,” he said, “and you’re not.”

Factual news you will not hear on Fox

Indiana Republican says it’s not rape “unless the woman screams” — because the bible tells him so

A former Indiana state lawmaker, who once proudly identified himself as the most “conservative member” of the legislature in the state that gave the country Vice President Mike Pence, used a passage in the Bible to dismiss women who claim they have been raped.

According to excerpt in a column for the Christian website Barbwire, spotted by the Friendly Atheist, Dr. Don Boys, who doubles as an evangelist took aim at the #MeToo movement.

Back when Dr. Christine Blasey Ford accused now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her, Dr. Boys pulled out his Bible to dispute the claim.

“Only fools or fanatics or feminists (but then I repeat myself) say that all female sexual accusations against men should be believed. Period,” Boys wrote, before adding, “A false accusation can destroy a man’s family, finances, and future. All sexual assaults should be seriously looked at and any rapist should be executed as in bygone years and any false accuser should be branded with an L on her forehead and horse-whipped out of town (figuratively).”

But Boys added a caveat by citing a few choice passages from the Bible.

“Some common sense definitions are necessary regarding this accusation,” he explained. “Rape is having sex with a woman while she screams for help. No scream, no rape according to Deuteronomy 22:23-24. Ford says Kavanaugh held his hand over her mouth so did she scream for help when his hand was elsewhere?”

“Moreover, Matthew 18:16 clearly commands that there must be at least two witnesses to validate a charge against a person. This is a repeat of Old Testament law,” he lectured. “Ford has no witnesses. The other man who was allegedly there, Mark Judge said, “It’s just absolutely nuts. I never saw Brett act that way.’”

Trump says he has no business interests in Saudi Arabia.  As usual, he’s lying.  You can tell because his lips are moving.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday sent out a tweet defensively insisting that he has no business interests with anyone in Saudi Arabia — but a video of him on the campaign trail in 2015 shows otherwise.

“For the record, I have no financial interests in Saudi Arabia (or Russia, for that matter),” the president wrote on Twitter. “Any suggestion that I have is just more FAKE NEWS (of which there is plenty)!”

But Robert Maguire, the research director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, has dug up a video of Trump bragging about wealthy Saudis who put money into his properties.

“Saudi Arabia, I get along with all of them,” Trump said during a 2015 rally. “They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.”

Additionally, documents obtained by the Washington Post earlier this month showed that Saudi money has been pouring into flagship Trump hotels that had been experiencing steep declines in revenues ever since Trump launched his political career three years ago.

 

 

Trump lied. Again. Claimed he was going to Texas and speak in the largest stadium in the state.

Trump said he would hold a rally for Ted Cruz in Texas’ ‘Biggest Stadium’. The venue he booked is not even close.

With Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) facing an ongoing threat from El Paso Rep. Beto O’Rourke, President Donald Trump said in August that he would come to the Lone Star State to hold a rally for the embattled far-right senator.

“I’m picking the biggest stadium in Texas we can find,” he tweeted.

And yet the venue he actually picked is decidedly underwhelming.

The largest stadium in Texas is Kyle Field, which serves as the home field for the Texas A&M Aggies and has a seating capacity of roughly 103,000. Trump’s rally for Cruz, meanwhile, is scheduled to take place on Monday at NRG Arena in Houston — which seats just 8,000.

No, you TeaPublican fools, the “Trump economy” is not helping most people

I keep hearing that although Trump is a scoundrel or worse, at least he’s presiding over a great economy.

As White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow recently put it, “The single biggest story this year is an economic boom that is durable and lasting.”

Really? Look closely at the living standards of most Americans, and you get a very different picture.

Yes, the stock market has boomed since Trump became president. But it’s looking increasingly wobbly as Trump’s trade wars take a toll.

Over 80 percent of the stock market is owned by the richest 10 percent of Americans anyway, so most Americans never got much out of Trump’s market boom to begin with.

The trade wars are about to take a toll on ordinary workers. Trump’s steel tariffs have cost Ford $1 billion so far, for example, forcing the automaker to plan mass layoffs.

What about economic growth? Data from the Commerce Department shows the economy at full speed, 4.2 percent growth for the second quarter.

But very little of that growth is trickling down to average Americans. Adjusted for inflation, hourly wages aren’t much higher now than they were forty years ago.

Trump slashed taxes on the wealthy and promised everyone else a $4,000 wage boost. But the boost never happened. That’s a big reason why Republicans aren’t campaigning on their tax cut, which is just about their only legislative accomplishment.

Trump and congressional Republicans refuse to raise the minimum wage, stuck at $7.25 an hour. Trump’s Labor Department is also repealing a rule that increased the number of workers entitled to time-and-a-half for overtime.

Yes, unemployment is down to 3.7 percent. But jobs are less secure than ever. Contract workers – who aren’t eligible for family or medical leave, unemployment insurance, the minimum wage, or worker’s compensation – are now doing one out of every five jobs in America.

Trump’s Labor Department has invited more companies to reclassify employees as contract workers. Its new rule undoes the California Supreme Court’s recent decision requiring that most workers be presumed employees unless proven otherwise. (Given California’s size, that decision had nationwide effect.)

Meanwhile, housing costs are skyrocketing, with Americans now paying a third or more of their paychecks in rent or mortgages.

Trump’s response? Drastic cuts in low-income housing. His Secretary of Housing and Urban Development also wants to triple the rent paid by poor households in subsidized housing.

Healthcare costs continues to rise faster than inflation. Trump’s response? Undermine the Affordable Care Act. Over the past two years, some 4 million people have lost healthcare coverage, according to a survey by the Commonwealth Fund.

Pharmaceutical costs are also out of control. Trump’s response? Allow the biggest pharmacist, CVS, to merge with the one of the biggest health insurers, Aetna – creating a behemoth with the power to raise prices even further.

The cost of college continues to soar. Trump’s response? Make it easier for for-profit colleges to defraud students. His Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, is eliminating regulations that had required for-profit colleges to prove they provide gainful employment to the students they enroll.

Commuting to and from work is becoming harder, as roads and bridges become more congested, and subways and trains older and less reliable. Trump’s response? Nothing. Although he promised to spend $1.5 trillion to repair America’s crumbling infrastructure, his $1.5 trillion tax cut for big corporations and the wealthy used up the money.

Climate change is undermining the standard of living of ordinary Americans, as more are hit with floods, mudslides, tornados, draughts, and wildfires. Even those who have so far avoided direct hits will be paying more for insurance – or having a harder time getting it. People living on flood plains, or in trailers, or without home insurance, are paying the highest price.

Trump’s response? Allow more carbon into the atmosphere and make climate change even worse.

Too often, discussions about “the economy” focus on overall statistics about growth, the stock market, and unemployment.

But most Americans don’t live in that economy. They live in a personal economy that has more to do with wages, job security, commutes to and from work, and the costs of housing, healthcare, drugs, education, and home insurance.

These are the things that hit closest home. They comprise the typical American’s standard of living.

Instead of an “economic boom,” most Americans are experiencing declines in all these dimensions of their lives.

Trump isn’t solely responsible. Some of these trends predated his presidency. But he hasn’t done anything to reverse them.

If anything, he’s made them far worse.

Remember when Republicans went apeshit claiming Clinton and Obama did not respect the Oval Office?

Remember that?

Speaking of having no respect for the Oval Office . . .

For more than 10 minutes Thursday, President Trump was struck nearly speechless as rapper, activist, entrepreneur and MAGA-hat wearing, Trump-loving, dragon-energy-exuding Kanye West held forth in an Oval Office soliloquy that included an f-bomb, references to male genitalia and a presidential hug that looked more like a mauling.

West, slouched in a chair facing the president, called himself a “crazy mother- (expletive)” and rued the “bull- (expletive)” the president endures. He called the 72-year-old president “bro.” He wore no tie and he kept the red hat on throughout.

Fuck you TeaPublicans and your hypocrisy.

Northumberland County, VA, TeaPublicans are frightened . . . shitting in their pants!!!

In one corner of Virginia’s First Congressional District — “represented” by do-nothing Republican Rob Wittman —  Republicans in Lancaster and Northumberland counties are running scared!!!

2-3 days ago small yard signs started appearing, flanking the big 4×8-foot Wittman and Stewart signs along our roads.

One of the small signs reads: Defeat Socialism, Vote Republican; haven’t
been able to read the other one, though I’m certain it’s equally stupid.

First they ignore you.
Then they laugh at you.
Then they attack you.
Then you win.