Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Slightly Different Way To Look At The Races Blue America Is Involved With So Far This Cycle: DACA

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Courtesy of USC's Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, we've looked at the Numbers of DACA recipients in each district where we have an endorsee and where we have a candidate far along in the vetting process. We also noted the annual GDP loss in each district that would result in the deportation of the DACA workers. This is a very big issue in Texas, as you might guess from looking at the stats. Top of the list is Jason Westin's Houston district. Look at those figures! This morning Westin told us that "Ending DACA would have an enormous negative impact on Houston, and specifically the TX-07 community. The state of Texas has over 120,000 DREAMers, and more than 5,000 live in our Congressional district. We saw first hand their dedication to their country during Hurricane Harvey, when paramedic and DREAMer Jesus Contreras risked his own life to save others. Another DREAMer, Alonso Guillen, drowned in the floodwaters he entered to save strangers in need. In addition to the loss of 5,000 educated and productive members of our society, it is estimated our community would lose $290,000,000 in GDP. Let's be clear: John Culberson wants to send DREAMers to countries they have no memory of for a cheap political win, and a costly community loss.

And Derrick Crowe, the Texan running for the Austin-San Antonio corridor seat held by anti-immigrant fanatic Lamar Smith, summed up what most Blue America-endorsed candidates said about this burning issue. "We knew that scapegoating young people and breaking our word was a massive moral failure. Now we know that repealing DACA for the 2,600 recipients in Texas' 21st District inflicts huge financial damage on us as well. More than $110 million in lost annual revenue--another deep cost that Lamar Smith is willing to impose on his constituents to prop up Trump's ugly agenda."


TX-07- Jason Westin vs John Culberson
5,500 DACA recipients
$290,500,000 in lost annual revenue

TX-32- Lillian Salerno vs Pete Sessions
5,200 DACA recipients
$274,800,000 in lost annual revenue




IL-03- Marie Newman vs Dan Lipinski
4,200 DACA recipients
$237,300,000 in lost annual revenue

CA-39- Sam Jammal vs Ed Royce
3,700 DACA recipients
$202,000,000 in lost annual revenue

CA-48- Laura Oatman vs Dana Rohrabacher
3,700 DACA recipients
$199,400,000 in lost annual revenue

CA-25- Katie Hall vs Steve Knight
2,900 DACA recipients
$159,600,000 in lost annual revenue

IL-06- Geoffrey Petzel vs Peter Roskam
2,700 DACA recipients
$154,900,000 in lost annual revenue

FL-25- Alina Valdes vs Mario Diaz-Balart
2,700 DACA recipients
$128,900,000 in lost annual revenue

NC-05- Jenny Marshall vs Virginia Foxx
2,600 DACA recipients
$120,100,000 in lost annual revenue

TX-21- Derrick Crowe vs Lamar Smith
2,600 DACA recipents
$110,700,000 in lost annual revenue

CA-49- Doug Applegate vs Darrell Issa
1,800 DACA recipients
$99,900,000 in lost annual revenue

KS-04- James Thompson vs Ron Estes
1,600- DACA recipients
$83,800,000 in lost annual revenue

WI-01- Randy Bryce vs Paul Ryan
700 DACA recipients
$28,600,000 in lost annual revenue

IN-09- Dan Canon vs Trey Hollingsworth
600 DACA recipients
$32,400,000 in lost annual revenue

MI-06- Paul Clements vs Fred Upton
500 DACA recipients
$36,800,000 n lost annual revenue

MI-11- Haley Stevens vs [open]
500 DACA recipients
$34,400,000 in lost annual revenue

IL-13- David Gill vs Rodney Davis
400 DACA recipients
$20,900,000 in lost annual revenue

Goal ThermometerMarie Newman is the progressive reformer running for the seat Dan Lipinski has been holding onto. "My opponent, Dan Lipinski has spent his career siding with Republicans on every immigration issue," she told us. "This is both a moral issue and an economic issue. Families will be broken apart, people will be punished arbitrarily and small businesses will fail at dramatic rates in the Third District if Dan Lipinski gets his way on immigration."

I doubt the folks in north central North Carolina want to see $120,100,000 disappear from their local economy (annually). But Virginia Foxx, herself a multimillionaire couldn't care less. She's very anti-immigrant and also very opposed to DACA. Jenny Marshall is the progressive running for the seat Foxx holds. This morning, she told is that she's "strongly against the deportation of DACA recipients. This is the only home they have ever known. They are simply seeking a legal way to work and contribute to their communities. Not only does deportation have emotional costs it will hurt our district in millions in lost annual revenue. These dreamers are not a drain on society or stealing anyone's job. They are citizens in every other sense and I would like to see them set on a path to citizenship, not deported."

Alina Valdes, the physician running for the south Florida seat that Ryan rubber stamp Mario Diaz holds. She's passionate about Trump's DACA betrayal. "As an immigrant and as a Latina, I find it difficult to comprehend how 800,000 Dreamers, brought into the US by their parents as children, could be up for deportation. They are upstanding adults, educated despite having to pay out of state tuition while not being eligible for school loans, speak perfect English, hold jobs with many being skilled and professional, pay taxes including social security and Medicare, own businesses and homes, have never been incarcerated, and have families. In other words, they are part of the melting pot that makes America the land of opportunity. These young people trusted that if they declared themselves and followed the rules, they would be allowed some deferments for being undocumented, ultimately leading to legal residency and citizenship. Instead, despite the economic benefit they bring to their states and districts of residence, they are being vilified and threatened with a disruption in the life and stability they have made for themselves. As a Trump enabler, Diaz-Balart and many others like him should be ashamed of themselves in not outwardly supporting DACA and the people it was meant to protect."

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Has Mercer Hired Bannon To Destroy The GOP? Is Trump In On The Deal?

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Something tells me that even as Trump was signaling he was satisfied with the deal Patty Murray (D-WA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) worked out in regard to funding the Obamacare subsidies Trump had eliminated last week, the Mercer/Bannon wing of the GOP is going bananas. It's a deal intended to stabilize health insurance markets under the Affordable Care Act, funding the subsidies for two years, a step meant to provide short-term certainty to insurance companies. They need the cost-sharing reductions to lower out-of-pocket costs for low-income customers. The Washington Post reported that they plan allows "insurers to offer catastrophic insurance plans to consumers aged 30 and older on ACA exchanges, while maintaining a single risk pool. To speed the approval of 1332 waivers, it would shorten the time period for federal review of state waiver applications, expedite review for states in emergency circumstances and those with waiver proposals that have already been approved for other states, and allow governors to approve state waiver applications rather than requiring state legislative approval. It also would assess the budget impact of any state proposal over the life of the waiver, rather than on an annual basis."

No word from Bannon yet. Presumably he's huddling with the Mercers to work out a response. Monday, Trump was all over the map in regard to the Mercer-Bannon plan to destroy the Republican establishment. In the morning he said he "understood" Bannon's frustration with Republican senators. By afternoon he was on TV saying "Some of the people that he may be looking at, I'm going to see if we talk him out of that." Who, exactly? Certainly not Jeff Flake, who Obama despises. Bannon was in Arizona yesterday with Laura Ingraham to boost the official campaign launch for right-wing crackpot Kelli Ward, one of Flake's primary opponents.

Brent Budowsky predicts that the Mercer-Bannon attempt to purge the Republican Party of mainstream conservatives like Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Dean Heller (R-NV), Deb Fischer (R-NE) and John Barrasso (R-WY) could backfire. He wonders, like we all do, if "Bannon is fronting for Trump or acting against him. If Bannon does not end his attacks against incumbent GOP senators, we will know that he is colluding with the president, who is dividing Republicans-- and all Americans-- against each other and endangering GOP control of the Senate."




In the 10th month of the Trump presidency, the Republican Congress still has not passed one major piece of legislation proposed by the Republican president, public disapproval of Congress stands at levels that should be alarming to all incumbent Republican senators, and the president and GOP leaders in the House and Senate all suffer from abnormally high levels of disapproval.

Bannon is bidding to become the most powerful Republican in America by seeking to promote primary challengers against key Republicans in Congress, including possible primary challenges against every incumbent Republican senator running for reelection in 2018 except Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

While public disapproval of various congressional leadership has historically surged at times, what is different this time is that the president and congressional leaders of his party are so unpopular at the same time. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and McConnell both suffer from high levels of public disapproval along with Trump and the Republican Congress itself.




Bannon is attempting a wholesale purge of the Republican Party by constantly attacking House and Senate Republican leaders in aggressively ideological and personal terms and actively seeking primary challenges against a large and growing number of Republican incumbents now serving in Washington.

The GOP long ago purged liberal Republicans out of the party. Now, Bannon seeks to purge moderate, centrist, center-right conservatives and bipartisan Republicans out of the party. What kind of Republican Party will be left if Bannon and far-right conservative groups succeed in their attempts to oust even very staunch conservatives, such as Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY)?

There are various potential outcomes to the Bannon play. Trump may seek to persuade Bannon to end his attempted purge and succeed. Trump may not try to persuade Bannon to end his purge, which should show he has been colluding with Bannon behind the scenes.

If Bannon proceeds with his planned purge, his candidates could be defeated by more moderate or establishment Republicans in primaries. However, there is a very strong chance that Bannon succeeds and his candidates win a succession of primaries against incumbent Republicans, in which case, Bannon could well become the most powerful Republican in America.

Few will publicly admit it, but many key Democrats are privately rooting for Bannon to succeed in his play to purge the Republican Party. With Trump, McConnell, Ryan and the Republican Congress so unpopular with voters at the same time, Democrats have a strong chance to regain control of the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections.

With Republican Senators potentially facing a surge of ugly and divisive primary challenges, it is now possible to envision a scenario where Senate Democrats have a slim but realistic chance of winning back control of the Senate, a possibility that was unthinkable two months ago.

Remember the 2010 midterms? That year, there was a wave election that brought House Republicans to power, but the GOP nominated fringe, right-wing candidates in key Senate races, including Nevada and Delaware, who were defeated by Democrats.

Remember the 2012 Senate elections? Democrats had to defend far more seats than Republicans are trying to do in 2018, and back then, the GOP nominated fringe candidates in Missouri and Indiana, a mistake that enabled Democrats to prolong their control.

It is possible that in 2018, Democrats win a wave election that gives them control of the House, while Republicans nominate fringe candidates for the Senate that give Democrats a narrow victory to regain control of the Senate as well.

Bannon may or may not end up being the most powerful Republican in America, but what he does in the coming months will probably make him the most important Republican in America.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!

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-by Noah

Look at this happy couple! Brothers from another mother? Maybe, but my first guess is that these two a-holes met at Disco Night at the insane asylum. I mean, how else do you explain the mega-weird hair on both guys, the funny clothes on the one on the left and the bizarro clown make-up on the one on the right? What the hell is with the orange stuff and the white around the eyes. Case closed. Disco Night.

I've said in a couple of previous posts that these two wackjobs are very much alike. Señor Trumpanzee is certainly our very own Kim Jong-un. They both demand that their citizens stand for their respective national anthems. The both suffer from massive insecurity and sit around and demand that their staffs praise them 24 hours a day. They both inherited fortunes from their fathers. They've both mastered gibberish as their first language. They're both proven cheaters at golf. They have so much in common, but, most scary to the rest of us, is their mutual disturbing fascination with the size and power of their missiles (Actual size may vary). But, really, using models of missiles for dildos? I wonder if they glow in the dark. Nah, only that orange make-up does.

They say that true love can transform your outlook on the world. It that's so, may the happy couple find true love together. It could save us all.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Would You Vote For Someone Who Claims She's Been On An Extraterrestrial Spaceship? What If She Was Also A Republican Connected To Mike Pence?

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The other day, a friend of mine was on vacation in Colorado. He stocked up on so much marijuana that he decided it was too risky to fly back to the East Coast, so he took a train instead. I'd be a lot younger if he was half my age but he asked me if I had ever done acid. "Dude," I said, "my nickname used to be 'Tripmaster.' Why?" He wanted to take some LSD on the long train ride home. "Would that be your first time?" As I suspected, it would have been. He's already somewhat psychotic and I talked him out of it. I in fact, had stopped taking acid on New Year's Eve, 1969-- or, more precisely on New Year's Day, after a massive New Years Eve trip. I have fond memories of my years as an acid-head... but not on a train. It was always a very spiritual and very powerful experience for me and one that has to be eased into with someone you totally trust so when you inevitably lose your mind, you don't freak out completely.

Anyway, soon after my last-ever acid trip, I left America and started my nearly 7 year sojourn abroad. One of my first stops was in Catalonia, in a small hippie hang-out on the beach south of Barcelona. Full moon-- everyone was partying... on drugs. But I was very interested in not using drugs at all. So I left the cave and decided to walk back to someone's parents' villa where we were staying while the parents were in Paris. It was far and it was through a woods and the only light was the full moon. I heard something mechanical sort of accompanying me. Franco was still the dictator and my mind went right to paranoia about fascism.

But, as it turns out, it wasn't fascism. It was... aliens, from another (unidentified) planet. I was scared. They asked me-- telepathically-- if I'd like to come for a ride on their space ship. By this time I was on the verandah of the villa, petrified, and quickly zipped up my sleeping bag with me in it. The aliens told me to cool it and they weren't going to hurt me and if I didn't want to go with them, I didn't have to. "Great," I telepathied back, "I don't. Buenos noches." I never told anyone about that. Who would believe me? Not even me!

A few years later I was living in Amsterdam and my girlfriend's actual boyfriend was returning from 6 months in America and she and I were saying goodbye (forever) on a beach north of town. It was very late at night and no one was there but us. Until a little tiny spec of light in the sky started rapidly coming down towards us until it was as big as a barn over our heads. It was my old friends from Catalonia (or wherever they were from) and they set up a 3-way telepathic communication link. No words were spoken. But they invited us for a ride, a long one, forever. "Uhhh... no thanks," we both telepathed. "Goede nacht, heren," I said as they went back up into speck of light mode.

Many years later-- and now many years from ever having used acid or pot or anything that makes one high-- I was living on the 6th floor of an apartment building on 25th Street in San Francisco, sort of just outside the Mission but not really in Noe Valley, when they were back. I was terrified. "Same deal," they assured me. "No force. Come with us though. There's nothing going on for you here and you'll love this." I should have asked them to define "this," but I was too panic-stricken. They said it was my last chance and if I didn't come this time I'd never hear from them again. I was willing to take that risk and went back to sleep.

I never heard from them again. And, for medical reasons, I use pot every night now. But no Martians. I don't talk about it much. No one would believe it anyway and it's not like I have any proof or can even be sure myself that any of that ever happened (but it did). There were no self-phones with cameras back then. I do have a photo of the other guy's girlfriend I was seeing but I can't even remember her name.

But you know what? A YouGov poll a couple years ago found that 56% of Germans, 54% of Americans and 52% of Brits believes that intelligent alien life exists. Only about one in 5 Americans say there is no extraterrestrials. And 30% believe that aliens have already contacted us but the government has covered it up. Nearly a quarter of respondents believe that aliens have contacted or visited Earth long before the development of human civilization. So... not so crazy? Well... people I know think it's crazy when you talk about it. Probably the ones who don't are... you know... Trump fans on opioids who read newspaper tabloids.

OK, have you heard about Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera yet? She's a former Doral city council member and she's a Republican running for Congress in Miami-- FL-27, the district that has turned bright blue enough for Ileana Ros-Lehtinen to have decided to retire from representing it. There were a lot of headlines yesterday, locally and nationally about her own ride on a spaceship. Seems like a crazy thing for a politician to talk about, no? All of the media coverage makes fun of her and paints her as, well, mildly insane.
Three blond, big-bodied beings-- two females, one male-- visited her when she was 7 years old and have communicated telepathically with her several times in her life, she says. (Sen. Bill Nelson served as payload officer aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1986. All seven people aboard were from Earth. As far as is known.)
Maybe Bettina wouldn't have brought it up in the early states of a congressional campaign-- but in 2009 she did a TV interview about it. And that's following her around like a hungry dog she once fed.
She described “going up” inside the spaceship-- though whether it went into space or just hovered around town was left unclear.

“I went in. There were some round seats that were there, and some quartz rocks that controlled the ship-- not like airplanes,” Rodriguez Aguilera said.

In two separate videos posted to YouTube years ago, one by local Spanish-language station America TeVe and another by a political critic with the user name DoralGirl26, Rodriguez Aguilera spoke on television in detail about her extraterrestrial experiences. She said the alien beings reminded her of the famous statue in Rio de Janeiro, Christ the Redeemer, with arms outstretched.

Among the things she said she found out from the aliens:

 There are 30,000 skulls-- “different from humans”-- in a cave in the Mediterranean island of Malta.
 The world’s “energy center” is in Africa.
 The Coral Castle, a limestone tourist attraction South Miami-Dade, is actually an ancient Egyptian pyramid.
 “God is a universal energy.”

She also said that the aliens had mentioned Isis, though she didn’t clarify if they meant the terrorist organization or the ancient Egyptian goddess.


Yesterday she told the Washington Post that the article, quoted above, from the Miami Herald, "is clearly an attack piece. I’m a person who owns up to who I am. And this is just an experience that I had. It has nothing to do with who I am and what I have shown in the past 40 years and what a positive role model I’ve been to the community."


Rick Yabor, a Miami lawyer and political commentator, told The Post that Rodriguez Aguilera isn’t likely to win-- especially in light of revelations about her previous claims.

“Why Bettina jumped in that race, I don’t know… Her views are not very mainstream,” Yabor said, referring to Rodriguez Aguilera’s stories about aliens. “There’s going to be people that believe her, and there’s going to be people that think she’s wacky.”

And anyway, Yabor said, the district leaned Democratic in last year’s election.

There are at least a dozen candidates vying to replace Ros-Lehtinen, the majority of them Democrats.

Two of Rodriguez Aguilera’s Republican primary opponents, Bruno Barreiro and Raquel Regalado, are better known in Miami-Dade County than she is, Yabor said.

Barreiro has been a county commissioner for nearly 20 years. Regalado is the daughter of Miami Mayor Tomás Pedro Regalado and is a former school board member in the county.

And they have raised significantly more money than Rodriguez Aguilera.

Barreiro has raised about $218,100, according to federal campaign records. Regalado is a distant second, with $15,050. Rodriguez Aguilera has raised less than $5,000.

Rodriguez Aguilera said she has not raised much because she postponed her fundraising after Hurricane Irma hit to help Florida residents. She said she’s raised a total of $10,000, including “in-kind services” from the community.

Rodriguez Aguilera was a member of the Doral City Council from 2012 to 2014. The city’s mayor nominated her to replace the vice mayor in 2013. She also said she helped boost Doral’s economic and population growth during her time as the city’s economic development coordinator, a position she held for four years.

Rodriguez Aguilera’s daughter, Bettina Inclán Agen, is a former director of Hispanic outreach for the Republican National Committee. Agen is married to Jarrod Agen, Vice President Pence’s deputy chief of staff and communications director.
Miami's other big political news yesterday, at least in regard to FL-27, was that a former professional yo-yo player, Ken Russell, jumped into the race too. He a Democrat, the 8th in the race so far. 73% of the district is Hispanic and I have a feeling Russell isn't.

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The Are No Good Outcomes For Arizona In The 2018 Senate Election

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Jeff Flake is a conservative. In fact, his career-long record in the House and Senate isn't just conservative; it's very, very conservative. He comes across as a likable enough guy for a politician; but he votes wrong on every important issue. There are Arizona Democrats-- and especially independents-- who admire him for bring one of the only Republicans with the intestinal fortitude to take on Trump and call him out on his bullshit-- he even wrote a book savaging Trump-- but just look at that voting record. No one who cares about healthcare or women's equality or economic justice or anything that makes someone a progressive can vote for the guy, no matter how anti-Trump he's being. And is being anti-Trump enough so that a great many Arizona Republicans have written him off. He's going to probably lose his primary, especially if its a head-to-head match-up with a Trumpist crackpot like Kelli Ward, who is announcing her official campaign today (with Bannon and Ingraham in tow). The co-founder of a revenge porn website, IsAnybodyDown, GOP lunatic Craig Brittain, doesn't count, but he's running too.

The latest polling in Arizona (last week) shows Ward beating him 58-42%-- and that's Flakes's best number in over a year! He's been endorsed by cronies who owe him-- like Marco Rubio, Joni Ernst, Mitt Romney and George W. Bush-- but Ward is a Mercer/Bannon candidate who's been endorsed by Señor Trumpanzee and the whole neo-fascist menagerie: Gorka, Hannity, Ingraham, Levin. Are Arizonans ready for Palin's bus chugging around their state? Flake is so cooked!

Yesterday the NY Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg described Flake as "the most endangered Senate Republican, with an approval rating in one recent poll of just 18 percent among Arizonans" and who has been savaged by Trump "as 'toxic' and 'a flake.'" He's being pressured from the right and the only good news he's had in months is that an always dependably clueless Chuck Schumer has handpicked a Democratic opponent, the most right-wing Democrat in the House, Kyrsten Sinema, who is not just ultra-conservative but also horrifyingly corrupt and completely inauthentic-- exactly what voters don't want. It's conceivable that even Kelli Ward could beat Sinema!
[Flake's] fate is an object lesson for other Republicans who might consider voicing dire thoughts about the president’s fitness: Cross Mr. Trump, and your political career could well be over.

Mr. Flake, who is known more for his decency than his independent streak, said he had no regrets.

In an interview here, he ticked off some of his earliest criticisms of the president-- from the days when Mr. Trump peddled the false theory that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya, to the time Mr. Trump referred to Mexican immigrants as “rapists,” to his call for a complete ban on travel to the United States by Muslims-- before looking up and stopping himself.

“In which of those instances,” the senator asked, “should I not have spoken out? At what point should you not stand up and say, ‘This is not right; this is not conservative; this is not where Republicans ought to be?’”

Mr. Flake said he had known from the start that taking on Mr. Trump might do him political harm. Even before he declared the president’s brand of populism a corruption of conservative values, he anticipated a tough primary challenge, given his policy differences with Mr. Trump on issues like immigration, trade and Cuba.

“The truth is, if my only goal were to be elected, re-elected to mark time in the Senate, there are much easier paths,” he said.

Mr. Flake is not the Senate’s only vulnerable Republican; Senator Dean Heller of Nevada is also facing a tough re-election race. And Republicans will now have to field a candidate to succeed Mr. Corker, who announced late last month that he was not running next year.

Last weekend, Mr. Corker said his concerns about Mr. Trump were shared by nearly every Senate Republican, even if few have spoken out. Mr. Flake, by contrast, has put pen to paper with his criticism; his new book, Conscience of a Conservative, published in August, is a blistering indictment of the Republican Party and of a president who, despite record-low overall approval ratings, has retained the support of about 80 percent of his party.

Mr. Flake’s main primary challenger at the moment, Kelli Ward, made clear in an interview that she intended to paint Mr. Flake as “an obstructionist to the America First agenda that Donald Trump touted on the campaign trail, and that the American people want to see enacted.”

Andy Surabian, senior adviser to the Great America Alliance, a Trump-aligned group whose political action committee has been supportive of Ms. Ward, said Mr. Flake’s troubles were “entirely self-inflicted.”

“If Flake wants to know why he’s vulnerable, all he needs to do is look in the mirror,” said Mr. Surabian, who had a stint in the White House as deputy to Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s former chief strategist. He added: “No one told him to go out and be the face of the anti-Trump resistance in the Republican Party. No one told him to go out and write a book that was basically an anti-Trump screed. The reason the race is in play is because of Jeff Flake’s actions.”

Mr. Flake said he felt compelled to write the book because Republicans had lost their way with the rise of Mr. Trump. His assessment of the president is biting.


“We pretended the emperor wasn’t naked,” Mr. Flake wrote. “Even worse: We checked our critical faculties at the door and pretended that the emperor was making sense.”

While Mr. Corker had likened the White House to an “adult day care center” and said Mr. Trump was treating his office like a reality show, Mr. Flake said in the interview that he might not have used those words. But he clearly agrees with his Tennessee colleague.

“A conservative is conservative in demeanor and comportment-- not just policy,” he said. “And the way you conduct foreign policy as a conservative is that you are steady and measured and predictable. And that’s not what we have now.”

Such comments have not gone over well at home, said Mayor Jim Lane of Scottsdale. The mayor, who calls himself a conservative Republican, said he was not currently backing Mr. Flake, whom he views as exacerbating divisions within the party and undermining the president’s agenda.

“It’s difficult, particularly when there’s a lot of people who feel very, very strongly about the president’s agenda and party’s agenda,” Mr. Lane said, adding, “Any time we sense that is not a priority, for any of our delegation, that becomes a bit of a problem.”

Mr. Flake favors immigration and free trade-- stances that put him at philosophical odds not only with the president, but also with many Arizonans. In 2013, he was part of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” group of senators who put forth an immigration overhaul that would have offered immigrants in the country illegally a path to citizenship. It passed the Senate with 68 votes but died in the House. He also worked closely with Mr. Obama to open relations with Cuba.

...[D]espite Mr. Flake’s criticisms of Mr. Trump, he almost always votes with the president. (An analysis by FiveThirtyEight, the political blog, found that Mr. Flake had voted with Mr. Trump 91.5 percent of the time.)

“He wrote a book about the conscience of a libertarian, yet he’s voted along the lines of the things he has criticized,” Dr. Riley said. “So my only conclusion is he doesn’t have a conscience.”

...In his early years in Congress, he developed a reputation as a budget hawk who challenged party leaders to get rid of so-called earmarks, in which federal money is steered to lawmakers’ pet projects. But in the Senate, which he joined in 2013, Mr. Flake has not carved out much of a reputation, other than for being a nice guy.

“He’s going to have to define who he is, what his record is and what he’s accomplished,” said David Winston, a Republican strategist in Washington. “This is really going to be a vote about him and his incumbency.”

As to who he is, Mr. Flake puts it this way: “I’m a conservative in, I think, the traditional sense of the word: a Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan conservative that believes in limited government, economic freedom, free trade, pro-immigration. That’s the kind of conservative I am, and that’s my record.”

But is that the kind of conservative who is welcome in the Republican Party in the Trump era? Mr. Flake smiled wanly.

“That,” the senator said, “is the question.”


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Florida Republican David Jolly: "Is the Republic Safer If Democrats Take Over The House In 2018?"

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One of the worst of the 2016 Democratic freshmen-- worst in terms of his GOP-aligned voting record-- is Charlie Crist, former Republican, former governor of Florida, current terrible congressman from St Petersburg. He won last year by beating incumbent David Jolly 184,693 (51,9%) to 171,149 (48.1%). Each raised and spent around $2,000,000 on their campaigns, although the DCCC and their aligned House Majority PAC dumped another $2.5 million into the race, while there was no counter-balance from the NRCC for Jolly. Meanwhile, Crist immediately joined the Blue Dogs and New Dems, the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, and quickly earned an overall "F" from ProgressivePunch for his decidedly right-of-center voting record. Charlie Crist now has the worst vote score of any Democratic freshman-- 43.10-- and the only Democrats with worse scores-- in order of bad to worse-- are Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN), Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX) and Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ), 3 Democrats who Ryan can always depend on to support the Republican agenda in nearly everything. I don't think Jolly is seriously considering a rematch in FL-13. Crist, who spends virtually all his time sucking up to corporate donors and lobbyists, has already raised $1,625,562.44 for 2018.

Meanwhile, Jolly has become a regular MSNBC contributor. Last night be was on Lawrence O'Donnell's show, the highlight of which was when he admitted that the country would be better off if the Democrats were to win back the House in 2018. "The Republican Party," he said, "never really recovered and found their footing from the emergence of the Tea Party, from the emergence of the likes of Sarah Palin, that has now manifested in the likes of Steve Bannon and Donald Trump. What is different now is that we have a president who’s known to be unstable. We have a president who’s known to be risky when it comes to matters of national security... I’ll be honest with you: Personally, as a Republican, in the past few weeks I’ve wondered, 'Is the Republic safer if Democrats take over the House in 2018?'" It wouldn't surprise me if Jolly winds up in Kenosha at some point during 2018, campaigning for Randy Bryce!

Nor is Jolly the only one with thoughts like that. Early this morning, CNN released a poll by SSR. When asked, "If the elections for Congress were being held today, which party's candidate would you vote for in your Congressional district," 54% of registered voters say Democrats and just 38% say Republicans. 98% of Democrats favor Democrats while only 88% of Republicans say they prefer a Republican. More Independents also say they will vote for a Democrat.

It looks to me that at this point the only thing that could hold back the Democratic wave is the venal and well-practiced incompetence of the DCCC, an organization that embodies the concept of habitual failure. And they're up to their losing tricks again-- picking conservative GOP-lite candidates in race after race across the country, flying in the race of the progressive energy that has swept the nation. Yesterday, I spoke with Dr. Matt Heinz, a progressive running against centrist Republican Martha McSally in Arizona's ultimate swing district, AZ-02 (Tucson). After Pelosi and DCCC chairman Ben Ray Lujan decided ultra conservative New Dem Ann Kirkpatrick (from northern Arizona) should be the candidate against McSally, many in the Tucson area are left wondering if the Democratic Party is worth supporting at all. Heinz: "Only Southern Arizonans can choose who represents them, and Ann Kirkpatrick's record against DACA kids, against clean energy, and in favor of the NRA, assault weapons and high-capacity magazines will prove problematic. Too much hangs in the balance in this election."

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The World's Worst Negotiator

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During the campaign last year, Trump continually bragged that he's the world's greatest negotiator, which was a joke to anyone who knew him or anyone who ever sat across the table from him. Trump was basically a laughing stock or a punch line among top level New York City businessmen. And now the clown is President Clown.

You probably remember the column Joe Nocera wrote for The Times, under "Sports Business," early last year about how Trump had a horrible reputation not as a consummate negotiator but as a bully and a crook. His deals have always tended to turn to shit, just like his legislative agenda has. Nocera's column was about a Trump-owned golf resort in Jupiter, Florida-- Trump National Jupiter. The members of the club say Trump "stiffed them out of their refundable deposits, many of which were in the range of $200,000. Some of the members had to swallow the loss (in return for some paltry benefits) because they had bought time shares or homes that were part of the resort development. Others negotiated settlements. Still others sued."
Although the home sales and time shares made money for Ritz-Carlton, the resort did not. According to a former member named Bernie Carballo, who’s in the golf course business himself and who saw the resort’s books, by 2011 the resort was generating some $13 million in revenue, and had an annual loss of around $1.2 million. It also had a huge liability: nearly $30 million in those refundable deposits. So in 2012, Marriott Vacations Worldwide decided to sell.

The buyer was Trump Golf. The company is probably the largest piece of the Trump portfolio-- though with Trump, one never really knows about such things-- with 17 golf resorts, including the National Doral in Miami and Turnberry in Scotland.

Trump Golf confines itself to resorts and golf courses, and eschews time shares. So his business model has no use for refundable deposits. On the contrary, a Trump Golf member usually pays a nonrefundable deposit-- one considerably less than $200,000-- plus annual dues.

The sale to Trump was completed on Dec. 4, 2012. Trump Golf paid $5 million-- and agreed, as part of the sale, to assume the $30 million in debt resulting from the members’ refundable deposits. (Marriott Vacations Worldwide held on to the time shares.) In fact, he had no intention of honoring that agreement.

Three days after the sale was completed, Trump held a meeting at his new resort. He told the assembled members that he was eager to make Trump National Jupiter “one of the finest clubs anywhere in the world!” as he put it in a Dec. 17 letter that reiterated what he had said in the meeting. But its membership rules were “antiquated,” preventing the resort from becoming “ultra-luxurious” and “ultra-prestigious.”

He told the members that if they wanted to remain in the resort, they would have to give up their refundable deposit; in return, he would freeze their dues for three years (saving them, at most, $20,000), and give them the right to play at other Trump golf courses (for a fee, of course). Members who stayed but didn’t accept that deal would be denied those benefits and see an immediate dues increase of $4,000. Stuck with the homes and time shares they had bought, many of the home-owning members accepted the deal.

But there was also one other category of members: those on the resignation list. By the time Trump took over the Jupiter resort, the resignation list had grown to an astonishing 150 members. That was more than half the club.

During the time the Ritz ran the resort, people who put themselves on the resignation list still had access to the resort and the golf course, and they still paid dues. And why wouldn’t they? Until new members joined, allowing them to recoup their deposit, they were still members of the resort. They hadn’t resigned, but simply announced their desire to resign.

Trump, however, wanted nothing to do with them. He immediately barred them from the club, and said he would no longer accept their dues. (According to a brief filed by the plaintiffs in the class-action suit, Trump later complained that the people on the resignation list were in arrears on their dues.) As he bluntly put it in his Dec. 17 letter, “If you choose to remain on the resignation list-- you’re out.”

According to one attendee, the members listened in stunned silence.

(Nearly everyone who spoke to me for this column requested anonymity. Some did so because they had nondisclosure agreements with the Trump organization, while others said they were fearful of Trump’s reaction if they criticized him publicly.)

What was taking place in Jupiter was an essential part of Trump’s modus operandi. In every deal, he has to win and you have to lose. He is notorious for refusing to pay full price to contractors and vendors after they’ve completed work for him. And he basically dares the people he has stiffed to sue him, knowing that his deep pockets and bevy of lawyers give him a big advantage over those who feel wronged by him.

...Many members reacted by suing Trump Golf. Given that the cost of a full-blown lawsuit was obviously going be higher than a $200,000 deposit, many of those on the resignation list sought to settle. The typical settlement was for 50 cents on the dollar, meaning that Trump was pocketing $100,000 of their deposit. Carballo says that the last time he checked, the debt had dropped below $18 million.

...There is one other thing about Trump National Jupiter that is worth pointing out. As I’ve noted, when the Ritz-Carlton ran the resort, it lost $1.2 million on $13 million in revenue. Last year, under Trump’s management, revenue dropped to $12.4 million, according to the financial disclosure forms he submitted last year as part of his presidential candidacy. It also has fewer members thanks to his counterproductive decision to bar all the people on the resignation list.

Which leads to a pretty obvious question: How much is Trump National Jupiter losing today?
Writing yesterday for the Washington Post, Daniel Drezner, referred back to a column of his a week before in which he made the point that "Ordinary toddlers eventually tire out after throwing a tantrum [but that] Trump is not really a toddler, but an overindulged plutocrat who has never had to cope with political failure. With each negative shock or story he faces, his behavior worsens, and that just leads to a new cycle of negative press and disaffected GOP officials. The political effects of this is to weaken his historically weak presidency, making it harder for him to do anything that would counteract this trend. This doom loop means that his behavior is only going to get worse."

Yesterday Drezner reminded his readers that Señor Trumpanzee's "behavior has gotten worse. By the end of the week, Trump had gone after Obamacare, the Clean Power Plan, UNESCO, and the Iranian nuclear deal."
The Trump administration’s style is gleefully aggressive enough to alienate countries that want closer ties with the United States. The data are already starting to come in on how loyal allies are reacting to Trump’s disruptive style, and that data is not encouraging. Politico’s Adam Beshudi chronicles how the Trump administration has successfully annoyed Japan:
Japanese officials are expressing growing frustration with the Trump administration’s economic policies, vowing to continue striking trade deals with other countries that undercut U.S. agricultural exports rather than seek a new trade agreement with the United States.

The frustration comes both from President Donald Trump’s harsh rhetoric on trade and from his pullout from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Japan still hopes can provide a bulwark against China’s growing influence in the Asia-Pacific region...

In interviews with Politico, more than half a dozen senior Japanese officials said they were uneasy with a so-called bilateral-- two-nation-- deal to replace the TPP, arguing that the goal of the multinational agreement was to create a wide international playing field. They said they are dismayed by Trump’s seeming inability to understand the importance of a multinational pact to establish U.S. leadership in the region and set the trade rules for nations on both sides of the Pacific Ocean as a counterweight to China’s rising influence.
...Instead of leading, Trump’s “my way or the highway” approach has been a detour from the multilateral road the United States has traveled since World War II. And as Trump has left behind, or threatened to, the premier international agreements of this century, from the Paris climate accord to global trade alliances and now the Iran nuclear deal, he has not had many willing followers...

Even those who have proclaimed him as a leader have sometimes not felt bound by his demands.


Josh Marshall pointed to a post by Bill McBride at the real estate economics blog Calculated Risk, The Art of Negotiation. He spoke to a few Trump supporters who claim Trump "has extensive negotiating experience. They are wrong."
In general, there are two types of negotiations. There is the “win-lose” type (or Distributive negotiation) where one party receives more and the other party receives less. This is the common approach when buying a car or real estate, or haggling at a street market.

The other type of negotiation is “win-win” (or Integrative negotiation). This type is used when negotiating between a company and a worker’s union, with long term suppliers, negotiating agreements between international allies-- and even with adversaries.

The tactics for the two types of negotiations are very different. In the first type (win-lose), bluffing, threats (like threatening to walk away), even lying are commonly used.  (Sound familiar?)

The approach to an integrative negotiation includes building trust, understanding the other party’s concerns, and knowing the details of the agreement-- with the goal to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

It is important to understand when each approach is appropriate. A used car buyer could use the Integrative negotiation approach, but they probably wouldn’t get a very good deal.

A company could use the “win-lose” tactics with a worker’s union, but they would probably face an extended strike followed by a long period of ill-will.

This brings me to Mr. Trump. He has experience in “win-lose” negotiations (buying and selling real estate), but apparently little or no experience in Integrative negotiations.

Mr. Trump keeps using the tactics of “win-lose” in negotiating with Congress, allies and adversaries. Not only has this been ineffective (members of Congress have repeatedly called his bluffs), but it is damaging to long term relationships. Mr. Trump’s use of “win-lose” techniques with North Korea have made him look weak and ineffective (a “dotard”), and have increased the risks of a major misunderstanding and possibly a war.

So, what can Mr. Trump do to be effective? First, he needs to realize he lacks the negotiating experience that is required for these types of negotiations. He needs to stop with the empty threats, bluffs, and lying. And he either needs to learn the integrative negotiation approach (and become a student of the details), or hire people with relevant negotiating experience (and remove himself from the process). All of this seems unlikely, and I expect Mr. Trump to continue using inappropriate tactics-- that betray his lack of negotiating experience.

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Gillespie And Trump Are Both Embarrassed Of Each Other! Who Could Blame Them?

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Trump's approval ratings might get better-- but that's unlikely. They just keep sinking... and they are, as Jonathan Bernstein explained for Bloomberg readers, really, really bad already. Señor Trumpanzee is, in short, being judged to be the worst president in modern history. He's "back in last place in approval ratings at this number of days after being sworn in of any president in the polling era. And his 'net' approval (subtracting disapproval) has been the worst among those 13 presidents every day of his presidency, and it's never been particularly close. Currently he's within a single percentage point of same-day Gerald Ford in approval, but at -18.3, his net approval is 9 percentage points worse than Ford's, and every other president was in positive territory at this point. All of that with the more-or-less peace and something very close to prosperity-- the two things that generally drive whether U.S. citizens like their presidents or not."

As you probably know, on November 7 Virginians will be electing a new governor and their entire House of Delegates. Democrat Ralph Northam is about as conservative as you can be and still be a Democrat and Republican Ed Gillespie doesn't stand for anything at all other than personal ambition. It's a pretty putrid race. There are plenty of House seats being decided that are far more important to progressives (as long as Gillespie is defeated). Every single poll since early June shows Northam ahead, with the exception of one outlier last month predicting a tie. The most recent poll, last week, by Emerson College has Northam leading 49-44%.

So why doesn't Trump get his fat, sagging ass down to Virginia to campaign for Gillespie (who he did endorse in a weird tweet a couple weeks ago)?I t's a reasonable-- if inelegantly phrased-- question-- and Jonathan Martin explored it yesterday for the NY Times. Gillespie and Trump are dancing around each other warily. Remember, Virginia was the only state that joined the Confederacy that Trump, the improbable Confederate candidate, lost last year.

Gillespie wants the Trump supporters to turn out for him of course-- Trump lost to Hillary last year 49.73% to 44.41% (virtually identical to the gubernatorial polling numbers last week)-- but there were still 1,769,443 Virginians willing to debase themselves and their country by voting for Trump. But Gillespie doesn't want the negatives around Trump to influence independent voters in their gubernatorial decision.

And meanwhile Trump is a little gun-shy too. He's embarrassed that his candidate, Senator Luther Strange, who he backed so strongly, lost so badly. And, like Strange, Gillespie is a swamp-dwelling part of the Republican Party establishment. He founded one of DC's sleaziest lobbying firms, Quinn Gillespie & Associates, whose marquee client was Enron. He was also chair of the RNC, which is a pretty swampy position in the minds of many hardcore Trump voters. But, more than anything, Trump doesn't want to deal with the stench of another ego-damaging electoral defeat.

Martin wrote that Trumpanzee "has so overwhelmed a campaign waged by a pair of bland candidates lacking signature proposals that, much the same way he does across the Potomac, he has made himself and his incendiary style of politics the central issue." For Gillespie there is also the little matter of how Trump's mental health would impact him, especially if there's a rally like the insane one Trump did for Luther Strange a few days before the Alabama election.
“There is so much focus on the activity and the machinations in Washington,” said George Allen, the former Republican governor and senator who ran statewide four times. “With President Trump, whatever he tweets becomes the news till whatever he tweets next.”

With the president rampaging through news cycles seemingly every day, the biggest question looming before Mr. Gillespie is whether it is worth the risk of trying to harness Mr. Trump’s total-eclipse-of-the-sun attention-getting skills to rouse conservative voters.

His campaign and the Republican Governor’s Association signaled to the White House at a meeting this spring that they preferred the reliable hand of Vice President Mike Pence, who campaigned with Mr. Gillespie on Saturday, over Mr. Trump in a state where the president is loathed in the vote-rich population centers but well-liked in many rural areas.

But trailing in every public poll, Mr. Gillespie is now engaged in a robust debate with his advisers about whether he should ask the president to stump with him, according to multiple Republican officials familiar with the conversations.

Those in favor of bringing Mr. Trump in for a rally argue that Mr. Gillespie will be linked to Mr. Trump regardless and, in a state where turnout plummets in nonpresidential years, that the president can jolt his supporters who may have been indifferent about the race or uneasy with an establishment-aligned candidate such as Mr. Gillespie, a former George W. Bush adviser and Republican National Committee chairman.

But the camp urging Mr. Gillespie to keep his distance from Mr. Trump counters that it would be malpractice to embrace a polarizing president who failed to win even 30 percent of the vote in Fairfax County, the most populous jurisdiction in the state and once a suburban battleground.

As they consider their options, Gillespie supporters have an object lesson: Mr. Trump’s ill-fated rally for Senator Luther Strange in Alabama, where he could not resist veering off-message. At that rally, Mr. Trump started his feud with the N.F.L. while offering a backhanded endorsement of Mr. Strange’s rival, Roy Moore.

“Having watched what a great job he did for Luther Strange, I’m not sure I’d want that,” said Ken Cuccinelli, a former state attorney general, suggesting that the president could bring up the bloodshed in Charlottesville with little warning. “Trump rallies are about Trump.”

Then there is the president’s calculation: Would he even want to risk attaching himself to a potential loser so soon after the Alabama race, in which he felt burned, according to White House officials. West Wing advisers say Mr. Trump is willing to record automated calls for Mr. Gillespie but is not clamoring to fire up Air Force One for the trip to Roanoke.

Mr. Trump has tweeted twice about the Virginia race, including on Saturday night, when he wrote that “Democrats in the Southwest part of Virginia have been abandoned by their Party,” as Mr. Pence was on the way to the region.

Yet whether Mr. Trump sets foot here or not, his success at motivating voters with culturally and racially tinged appeals has worn off on Mr. Gillespie. Once one of the loudest voices in his party for an inclusive message, Mr. Gillespie is now assailing Mr. Northam over the Democrat’s opposition to a state measure that would have banned “sanctuary cities” and targeting him for supporting the removal of the state’s many Confederate statues.

The Republican chafes at questions over whether he is adopting a Trumpian message and forgoing his own advice in 2006 that Republicans should resist the “siren song” of anti-immigration rhetoric, insisting he is running as “who I am and what I believe in.”

“The great thing about a governor’s race in Virginia is the people who vote in it are focused on roads and schools and jobs and the opioid and heroin epidemic,” Mr. Gillespie said.

But his advertising reflects what he thinks will actually move the electorate: He is spending the bulk of his money on commercials focused on the statues, which make no mention of his view that the South was “on the wrong side of history,” and illegal immigrants. One of his immigration ads features amply tattooed Salvadoran prisoners meant to be members of the menacing gang MS-13, a target of the president’s.

Asked if he still supported a pathway to legal status for illegal immigrants, which he once vocally championed, Mr. Gillespie unenthusiastically confirmed that he did, deflating his answer by noting that “the debate is 10 years old from my perspective.” (He did more readily note that he supported “accommodating those who were brought here as children illegally,” the so-called Dreamers.)
This week, Northam is enthusiastically campaigning with Obama, who won Virginia both times he ran (53-46% against McCain and 51-47% against Romney). In the end, Trumpanzee will probably be too embarrassed to stay away and will, in all likelihood, waddle down to Roanoke, which is pretty safe territory for him. He lost Roanoke City (56.1% to 38.5%) But he won Roanoke County 61.5% to 33.5%. If Trump does one of his crazy rallies they can bus rubes in from Franklin, Botetourt, Bedford, Craig, Henry, Floyd, and Giles counties, all blood red and filled with Trumpist crackpots addicted to Fox News, Hate Talk Radio and opioids. That way Trump can claim even though Gillespie lost the state, at least he won the backward area Trump campaigned in. Just watch.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!

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-by Noah

Surely, this meme expresses an idea whose time has come. Think of it, since Republicans long to always "put women in their place" and tell them exactly what they can and can't do with their lives, their health and even their bodies, suppose every American woman tried to take advantage of our nation's lax gun laws and armed themselves, ideally to the teeth. What would all those angry, fearful white men do? They just might start second guessing their 2nd amendment arguments. They'd be beside themselves, trembling with fear. Might even the NRA kooks start gasping? Hmmm, probably not, as long as the money keeps coming.

Imagine a world... where every women does just like the guys in open-carry states, and never leaves home without the trusty semi-automatic. Imagine a world... where the local diner, Walmart, or, say, pro-choice demonstration, is chock full of women openly armed to the max like modern day Amazon or Viking warriors. They could even tell the guys, "Hey, if you can carry around a penis substitute, I certainly can!" Or, how about, "You talk about penis envy, I've got your penis envy right here, bozo." Suppose the next "Million Women March" was held in a state where Open Carry is permitted. Can you see an emergency session of that state's legislature?

As the ever-escalating ease of obtaining legal guns, legal or otherwise, grows, I can see this idea of women arming themselves to protect their rights, reproductive and otherwise, really taking hold in America. I can see those models on HSN and QVC modeling with guns of all sorts. Lady Luger's anyone? Coupons in the weekly shopping mailer? I see a future of grocery store cross promotions. Buy two jars of Hellman's Mayo or Hamburger Helper and get a 9mm pistol, half off! Public demand can do this. Women do have power! So, why don't they start calling for more guns?

To be fair, and I'm always fair, the blame for a lack of gun control doesn't solely rest at the feet of one party in this country, even if one party is solidly made up of nihilistic true believers who don't seem to mind bullets flying all over the place. A way too large percentage of republicans will even tell you, with a straight face no less, that tragedies like Newtown didn't really happen, are hoaxes, or even "false flag" events.

Many Democrats often go along with the NRA on the issue of gun control, too, even if only out of cowardice and alleged "political expediency." Still, I think there's no harm in putting the idea of, say, making it even easier for every American woman of voting age to obtain a registered firearm or two, or three, or four, or more, many more, without background checks, of course. What harm could there be in that?

Republicans would have a dilemma. They would have to choose between being the fearful little rodents that they really are inside; worried about every woman in the country packing heat, or, reversing course and calling for what they would suddenly call "common sense" gun regulation. Gone would be the excuses that no gun control is needed because an assailant can kill you with a knife just as well as with a gun. You know damn what will pop into the minds of cretins like Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump, or "Ted" Cruz if you suggest giving every woman a machete instead of a gun.

Wanna take this one step further and really terrorize your crazy Republican uncle? How about suggesting that, if things keep going the way they are, every African-American male of voting age, registered or not, will soon have a gun, registered or not.

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