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Fri May 24, 2019, 09:01 PM

Friday Talking Points -- Trump Throws Another Tantrum

What do you do with a president who wants to be impeached? That's a surreal question, but then again we live in surreal times. Donald Trump seems more and more like a man begging the House Democrats to impeach him. It's like every political decision he makes is designed to be so outrageous that it'll surely goad Democrats into starting an impeachment committee.

Trump thinks -- and he may very well be right -- that getting impeached and then having the Republican Senate refuse to remove him from office would be a political winner for him. There's simply no way to tell how it would play out during an election year, but the last president impeached by what the public saw as a purely political exercise actually saw his own job approval go up during the process. So Trump is betting the same thing will happen to him, and he may not be wrong in that assumption.

But it certainly leaves Democrats in a quandary. Impeaching Trump might just help Trump politically. But not impeaching Trump leaves him free to run roughshod over all and sundry, in increasingly outrageous fashion. That's a tough choice. So far, Nancy Pelosi has chosen to push forward with investigations, but not pull the impeachment trigger quite yet. Bizarrely, right after she held a meeting with her caucus where she damped down calls for immediate impeachment, Trump's head exploded and he threw an epic hissy fit.

While we're going to save most of the story of Trump blowing his top for later in the program, there are a few side notes worth pointing out. The Washington Post ran a helpful review of all the other times when an announced "Infrastructure Week" crashed and burned for Trump (the most notable being the "very fine people on both sides" reaction to Charlottesville, which actually happened at an Infrastructure Week presentation).

Also, right after Trump swore he was taking his bat and ball and going home rather than getting anything done with Democrats in Congress, Trump caved completely on his demands for border wall money and to stiff Puerto Rico, which allowed a bipartisan disaster relief bill to pass the Senate on an 85-8 vote. Trump threw in the towel a day after he said he wouldn't even negotiate with Democrats, which will wind up being good news for all those affected.

Trump did announce a further $16 billion in aid to farmers to bail them out of the mess that his trade war with China has saddled them with. But even Republicans are getting nervous about the devastation Trump is personally causing in the heartland, as evidenced by a letter Senator Jerry Moran wrote, charging that Trump's trade war would "cause long term damage to U.S. agriculture." He went on to write about Trump's preferred method of using taxpayer money for such bailouts:

Kansas farmers and ranchers understand the need to hold China accountable for bad behavior on trade. Yet, net farm income has fallen by 50% since 2013 and the trade war has pushed commodity prices down even further. Many farmers and ranchers are on the verge of financial collapse.

. . .

This inherent unpredictability of ad hoc disaster assistance underlies the strong preference of farmers and ranchers for markets to sell their livestock and crops instead of government payments.

Meanwhile, House Republican Justin Amash outright called for the impeachment of the president. He read the whole Mueller Report and came to that conclusion, which he shared last weekend. So far, he's the only Republican in Congress to do so, but it's still a notable development.

Trump's stonewalling strategy continues, as he blocked Don McGahn from testifying before a House committee this week. But the courts are moving quickly to address the situation, as two separate federal judges this week ruled against Trump's legal argument that Congress doesn't have the right to issue subpoenas to Trump's banks and his accountant. Trump immediately appealed both decisions, and one of them is already scheduled to be heard by the appellate court on July 12.

New York state lawmakers are doing their part, passing two laws directed at Trump this week. The first will allow congressional committees to get Trump's state tax returns, and the second will allow people accused of criminal activity in New York to be prosecuted even after the president pardons them (presidential pardons only apply to federal lawbreaking, but New York had a law on the books stating that people couldn't be tried for crimes prosecuted at the federal level -- now the new law allows for this in the case of anyone pardoned by the president).

This isn't an abstract possibility, since Trump has shown his willingness to use the pardon power to let off the hook anyone Fox News thinks should be given a pass. In fact, Trump was astonishingly going to celebrate the Memorial Day weekend by pardoning war criminals. That's right -- soldiers and contractors either being prosecuted or already convicted of murdering innocent people and disobeying the rules of war would get presidential pardons, and somehow Trump thought that he'd be honoring the military by doing so. Mitt Romney reacted to this news with: "I think it's a terrible idea to pardon someone who is legitimately convicted of committing war crimes. It's unthinkable." Unthinkable by normal people, but not so for Trump. Hopefully, the pushback against this idea has been so strong that Trump is now reportedly having second thoughts, so we'll have to see what happens (if anything) over the holiday weekend.

Before we get to the main award, we have to give an Honorable Mention to both Representative Judy Chu and Senator Richard Blumenthal. They both introduced into their respective chambers the "Women's Health Protection Act," which would "bar states from imposing restrictions on abortion that are medically unnecessary and interfere with a woman's ability to access care."

For some needed context, it hasn't been just this week that abortion rights have been under attack. From 2010 to 2016, individual states enacted 338 laws restricting abortion access. As Blumenthal put it: "We face a five-alarm fire in the danger to women's reproductive rights."

This bill has been introduced in every Congress since 2013. It now has 42 Senate cosponsors and 171 cosponsors in the House. For far too long, Congress has punted on its responsibility to fight back against the state-level attacks on Roe versus Wade. This bill would fix the problem once and for all, on a national level. Which is why we have to applaud Blumenthal and Chu for once again introducing it.

We'd also like to award an Honorable Mention to all the Democrats in Connecticut who managed to pass a law hiking the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour. Well done!

But, obviously, the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week is none other than Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. She earns the award for being the most effective Democrat at getting under Trump's skin. Other Democrats should really be taking notes, because Pelosi seems to annoy Trump more than anyone else in Washington.

We wrote about the immolation of yet another "Infrastructure Week" earlier in the week, but in case you've been in a coma or something, here's the basic rundown. Pelosi and Chuck Schumer were scheduled to meet with President Trump this week, where Trump was supposed to present his plan to pay for the $2 trillion infrastructure proposal that both sides had agreed to last month. Trump, obviously, had not done his homework. He had nothing to propose, as Chuck Schumer later pointed out:

What happened yesterday, in my judgment, is that they were so ill-prepared and afraid to actually say how they pay for infrastructure -- they were unable -- that they looked for a way to back out.... I think probably early that morning they concocted this, you know, temper tantrum and he walked out.

Trump was 15 minutes late to the meeting, probably because the White House was planning an impromptu Rose Garden address in the meantime. When Trump finally walked in to the meeting, he refused to shake hands or sit down, delivered a three-minute rant against Nancy Pelosi (who earlier that morning had stated that the president was obviously "engaged in a coverup" ), and then stormed out of the room. Trump later insisted that "I don't do coverups" -- which, of course, Stormy Daniels might just have something to say about.

Trump then strode to the Rose Garden podium, gripping notes that (in his own handwriting) listed his "achomlishments" (you just can't make this stuff up, folks), and appearing before a podium with a sign on it that read "No collusion. No obstruction." The internet had lots of fun pointing out Trump's idiocy afterwards, naturally. Trump ranted for a while, took two questions, and then exited. He seemed to draw a line in the sand: if Democrats in the House continued to investigate him for any reason, he would simply refuse to work with them on anything. He essentially wants to hold America's infrastructure hostage.

The back-and-forth between Trump and Pelosi got more intense all week long. Pelosi, after the "meeting" with Trump, said she prayed for both the president and the United States of America. She also said Trump "had a temper tantrum" instead of a meeting, writing in a letter to Democrats: "Sadly, the only job the president seems to be concerned with is his own. He threatened to stop working with Democrats on all legislation unless we end oversight of his administration and he had a temper tantrum for us all to see."

Trump then hijacked what was supposed to be an announcement of $16 billion more taxpayer money going to bail out the farmers hit hard by his trade war with China, and forced his toadies to stand up, one after the other, and insist that Trump was "calm" during his meeting with Pelosi. He called Pelosi "a mess" and said that she had "lost it." He also said, once again, that he was a "very stable genius." The internet also had a field day with this one, with the best response coming from Rob Reiner: "The only Stable Genius I know of is Mr. Ed."

Pelosi then shot back: "I wish that his family or his administration or his staff would have an intervention for the good of the country. Maybe he wants to take a leave of absence." She also tweeted: "When the 'extremely stable genius' starts acting more presidential, I'll be happy to work with him on infrastructure, trade and other issues."

Once again -- nobody else seems to get under Trump's skin to such a degree. Which is why it's so amusing to watch when Nancy Pelosi does so. For standing up to Trump with a backbone made of steel, Nancy Pelosi is once again the winner of the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award. And, as we said, Democratic presidential candidates should really be taking notes, because one of them will have to take Trump on directly next year.

{Congratulate Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on her official contact page, to let her know you appreciate her efforts.}

This week, Roe versus Wade came under attack. Multiple states took direct aim at it, passing laws to make abortion almost impossible (and, in Alabama's case, completely impossible). All of these laws are designed to wind up in the Supreme Court, because now that Justice Fratboy is on the court, conservatives think the time is ripe to challenge Roe.

In all of these cases but one, a Republican governor signed (or will sign) the new anti-abortion bills. But in Louisiana, it was a Democratic governor who said he will sign the bill into law. John Bel Edwards is one of a very few anti-abortion Democrats left in the party.

We find this disappointing, which is why we're awarding him this week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week. Now, an argument can be made for making the party a "big tent," and it can also be argued that Louisiana is better off in general with an anti-abortion Democrat than with a Republican sitting in the governor's chair, but we still find the whole thing disappointing. There should be some things that the party as a whole stands for, and we believe that a woman's right to choose should be one of them for the Democratic Party. We're not alone in this belief, either.

Roe versus Wade is under attack. One court ruling could strip it of its power nationwide. America would return to it being up to the states whether abortion was legal or not. We think that's the wrong direction for the country to take. Which is why we feel we must give this week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award to John Bel Edwards.

{Contact Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards on his official contact page, to let him know what you think of his actions.}

Volume 528 (5/24/19)

As we are sometimes wont to do, this week we are foregoing our usual discrete (but seldom discreet) seven talking points in favor of just letting fly with an extended rant. Well, it's not exactly a rant, but it does include a little ranting here and there.

We wrote about this subject yesterday, after hearing that the White House was trying a rather laughable bit of political spin. According to Trump (and his chorus of toadies), Democrats are simply not capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time. Here is a tweet from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, pushing this false narrative: "Democrats are in a tailspin, and their 'leadership' is out to lunch. They have achieved practically NOTHING since taking over the House, and their obsession with impeaching this president is paralyzing any progress we could be making as the UNITED States."

This is utter hogwash, of course. But it strikes at the bedrock case that Democrats really need to be making in the 2020 election campaign. And when we say this, we aren't thinking so much of the presidential race but rather of all the down-ballot races for the House, for the Senate, and for statehouses across the country. So we decided it was time to provide a generic speech for Democratic candidates in all the other races. Here is the basic speech we would write for any of these candidates to deliver.

How Democrats Can Make The Case For 2020

In the upcoming election, American voters will have a clear choice to make between the two major political parties. One public service President Trump has done for the country {Pause for laughter}... no, really... one good thing he's done for us all is to rip the mask off the Republican Party and lay bare for everyone to see just how bankrupt they are of good ideas to improve people's lives. I mean, what does the Republican Party want to do for America? From where I stand, they really only seem to agree on three things. If you look at what little legislation they have proposed, it all boils down to one of the following three things: cut taxes for the wealthiest of the wealthy, build a gigantic wall on our southern border, and prevent as many people as possible from getting affordable healthcare. That's it. That's all they've got.

The Republicans held both houses of Congress for two years, and they want to win the House back and hold onto the Senate in this election. But what did they get done last time? A whole lot of nothing. One big tax cut that showered all its benefits on Wall Street and billionaires, and nothing else. They tried to kill Obamacare and replace it with absolutely nothing for tens of millions of Americans, but thankfully they weren't able to do so. And what else did they achieve? Nothing. What has the Senate achieved this year? As one Republican senator just put it -- and this is a direct quote: "Nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada." This same senator summed up what his Republican colleagues have managed this year by saying: "the Senate hasn't done a damn thing except sit on its ice-cold lazy butt." That's a Republican senator, mind you, and I might add that I couldn't have said it better myself.

When I see Republican campaign ads, all I can see is fearmongering: "We should all be very afraid of this, that, and the other -- vote for us because we will slay the dragon!" But what positive agenda items do they have? They don't say. What do they want to do for the country? Their ads are silent on the subject. The only things Republicans now stand for are cutting your boss's taxes, building a pointless border wall, and denying healthcare to the poor, to women, and to anyone else they possibly can. They know full well that this stripped-down agenda is not really popular with the public, so they don't even try to run on it even though it is all they have left that they agree upon.

The contrast couldn't be clearer. Democrats want to get some good things done to move America boldly into the future. Republicans want to stop all of these ideas cold, but they have nothing to propose other than obstructionism. Oh, and a border wall.

Will building a wall on the Mexican border bring down prescription drug prices? No, it will not. Will building Trump's precious border wall bring a green new energy future to the country? Nope. Will a border wall raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour? I wouldn't hold your breath. Will that wall protect people with pre-existing conditions? I seriously doubt it. Will building a border wall give all Americans the choice to join Medicare? No, it won't. Will a border wall ensure equal pay for equal work? Not even close. Will building a border wall do anything for the Dreamers or solve our nation's real immigration problems? No way. Will spending a bazillion dollars building an ineffective wall mean teachers will be paid more? No, it will not. Will throwing money down this rathole make college more affordable for all? Not a chance.

That's their agenda stacked up against ours, in a nutshell. Democrats want to do all of these things to make people's lives better. Republicans don't want to do any of them, and the Republican Senate refuses to act on any of it.

This week, after the president of the United States threw a temper tantrum worthy of a two-year-old, he's been pushing some fake news in an effort to convince everyone that black is white and up is down. According to him, because the House of Representatives is once again performing its constitutional duty to provide oversight of the executive branch, somehow they aren't able to get anything else done. He tweeted this bizarre theory multiple times, in fact: "You can't investigate and legislate simultaneously -- it just doesn't work that way. You can't go down two tracks at the same time." And also: "Democrats are getting nothing done in Congress.... It is not possible for them to investigate and legislate at the same time."

Professional Trump apologist Sarah Huckabee Sanders also tried pushing this manure on the American public. She called Democrats: "incapable of doing anything other than investigating this president," and asked: "what significant pieces of legislation they have passed that are going to change the course of this country?" Sarah called the idea that Democrats can both investigate and pass bills "a complete lie." And then she stepped back, just in case a thunderbolt from Heaven struck her down for bearing such false witness. {Pause for laughter} OK, I made that last part up, I admit.

This lie is a monumentally stupid one because it is so easy to debunk. The House of Representatives has, in fact, been passing dozens of bills. Nancy Pelosi has been moving legislation like there's no tomorrow, in fact. All told, the House has sent over one hundred bills to the Senate, where Mitch McConnell refuses to act on any of them. We've sent them over a hundred bills and the year's not even half over. So yes, thank you very much, Democrats can indeed run investigations and pass legislation -- just look at their record! It's pretty obvious which party can pass bills and which party cannot, when you take even the most casual look at the facts.

In all this time, what has Mitch McConnell done? Nothing. Democrats aren't the ones who can't pass legislation, it is obviously the Republicans who can't do so -- and they don't even have the excuse of investigations to fall back on, because McConnell has become nothing but Trump's bootlicker. Republicans can't legislate, period.

The only way to end this gridlock is to elect more Democrats to the Senate, and take back the White House. The Republican agenda -- other than tax cuts, taking away your healthcare, and building the wall -- is empty. It is completely hollow. They've got absolutely nothing, which is why they're passing no bills. America gave them both houses of Congress and the White House and what got done?

However, if the American voters decide to give Democrats control, we've already got a strong agenda chock full of things that could make everyone's lives a whole lot better. You don't have to imagine what we'll do, just take a look at some of those bills the House has already passed: the For The People Act, the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, the Save the Internet Act -- and that's just a handful of them.

Democrats want to reform our elections system to make it easier for everyone to vote. Republicans want to make it harder for you to cast your ballot. Democrats want to reform ethics laws for elected officials, while Republicans want to make the swamp deeper. Democrats -- and even some Republicans -- want to protect our elections system from hacking by foreigners, and Mitch McConnell refuses to act on it. Democrats want to make it illegal to deny someone housing or a job just because they are gay. Republicans are pro-discrimination. Democrats want to make college more affordable to all, and Republicans don't. Democrats want teachers in our children's schools to get paid more, and Republicans disagree. Democrats want to protect people's health insurance and people with pre-existing conditions, and Republicans want to take health insurance away and lock up doctors for providing women's healthcare. Democrats want the minimum wage raised to $15 an hour, and Republicans are fighting it. Democrats want to build infrastructure all across the country, and Republicans only want to build a border wall.

That is the contrast. That is what is on the ballot next November. Do we move forward together as a country, or do we refuse to even admit that problems exist? Do we want to make life better for people, or do we want to double-down on rigging the system for the few and against the many? Are we going to return America to being a shining example for the rest of the world to follow, or do we want to continue to be the world's laughingstock? Do we want to return to a time when we treated America's friends as friends, or do we want to continue to see our president coddle dictators because they say nice things about him? The choice is pretty plain. I know what I'm going to do next November -- I'm going to cast a vote for the future. I'm going to vote to move America forward once again. I'm going to reject the idea that there are simply no problems left for Congress to solve. I'm voting for Democrats, and I urge everyone who shares hope for the future to do the same, because it is the only way anything good will get done.

Thank you.

Chris Weigant blogs at: ChrisWeigant.com
Follow Chris on Twitter: ChrisWeigant
Full archives of FTP columns: FridayTalkingPoints.com
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Reply Friday Talking Points -- Trump Throws Another Tantrum (Original post)
ChrisWeigant May 2019 OP
saidsimplesimon May 2019 #1
Skittles May 2019 #2
CatWoman May 2019 #3

Response to ChrisWeigant (Original post)

Fri May 24, 2019, 09:08 PM

1. Thank you, Chris Weigant

Bravo, well written, I made the comment below before reading your excellent post.

I did a search, then realized IT considers all publicity "good publicity". Caligula was a close match.

It is my opinion that a decade from now, IT will occupy a limited few word description by historians. "Dump died as he lived, scorned by his peers, bankrupt morally and financially."

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Response to ChrisWeigant (Original post)

Sat May 25, 2019, 04:24 AM

2. a very impressive analysis, all the way through

great read!

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Response to ChrisWeigant (Original post)

Sat May 25, 2019, 09:42 AM

3. k;r

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