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© Garry Trudeau

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Another Puerto Rico?

Hurricane Michael left death and destruction across the SouthEast, but Donald Trump said it was ok for him to go ahead and hold a political rally, because:

We had it under great control. Because FEMA and everything else. We had White House, we had on the plane, on Air Force One. I was totally monitoring. So I went in and made the speech and everybody was happy.

There’s just one problem. Survivors of the storm and local officials say that FEMA is nowhere to be seen. One survivor summed it up:

We’re not getting any help. We need food. It’s just crazy.

So far, the only official response they had seen was when the police arrived and told everyone to leave, saying that there was nothing they could do and that it would take a long time to start rebuilding. People are comparing the SouthEast US to Puerto Rico, where the slow response left people without electricity for a year.

Ironically, soon after that a pickup truck arrived with a bunch of water. It wasn’t FEMA, it was two brothers who had just decided themselves to drive from Louisiana to help. Meanwhile, Federal, state, and local officials admitted that it would be days before they would be able to get food or water to anyone. They suggested that people should try to save what food and water they had.

Another resident called FEMA and they referred her to the Red Cross. She then called the Red Cross, but they just suggested that she call emergency number 211.

We should expect even worse storms to become the new normal. The hurricanes that plague the American side of the Atlantic rarely affect Europe, but Hurricane Leslie has made it all the way across that ocean and is now hitting Portugal and Spain with unprecedented winds and rain.


© Robert Ariall

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Retired Bipartisanship

Bipartisanship may be dead in Congress, but it might still be clinging on to life among some retired political figures.

Remember the video that surfaced from John McCain’s funeral, showing George W Bush passing something to Michelle Obama? It was a sweet video, but it is even better than that.

Michelle Obama appeared on the Today show on Thursday, and explained that because of protocol she and former president Bush are “forever seat mates” at official events.

I didn’t realize at the time that anybody noticed what we were doing… That’s how we sit at all the official functions, so he is my partner in crime at every major thing where all the formers gather… I love him to death.

Obama also revealed that the object Bush passed to her was a cough drop, and a very old one at that:

That’s the funny thing, because they were in the little White House box, and I was like, ‘How long have you had these?’ And he said, ‘A long time, we got a lot of these.’

I admire people who respect others and get along with them, even if they are on opposite sides of the political spectrum. We need more people – and politicians – like that.

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Lie like you just don’t care

I know none of this is a surprise, but given that Trump’s campaign rallies have gotten so old and tired that even Fox News isn’t broadcasting them live anymore, this seems particularly germane.

Yesterday, Donald Trump defended his decision to proceed with a political rally in Pennsylvania as hurricane Michael devastated the Florida panhandle and wreaked havoc across the SE US. His excuse? He claimed that he could not disappoint his many fans. Seriously.

On a telephone call to “Fox and Friends”, Trump said:

We had thousands of people standing on line. It’s a great thing that’s happening. It’s a great movement in our country. I go make a speech in a 12,000-seat auditorium, and people start lining up two days early. I mean, literally, they bring tents.

But the local newspaper reports that the capacity of the auditorium is 9000, something that is easily verified. And the line for the rally did not start two days early, as Trump claims, it started earlier the same day as the event, around 12 hours early.

Trump lies for absolutely no reason. Even if the lies are easily disproved. And just to feed his own ego. But it gets worse.

Add hypocrisy to this. Trump excoriated Barack Obama in 2012, tweeting:

Yesterday Obama campaigned with JayZ & Springsteen while Hurricane Sandy victims across NY & NJ are still decimated by Sandy. Wrong!

And that was for Obama campaigning days after hurricane Sandy dissipated, while Trump was happy to campaign while hurricane Michael was actively killing people and destroying whole towns. Talk about fiddling while your country burns.

And to add insult to literal injury, during the campaign rally Trump mocked the #MeToo movement.

Trump also found time to have lunch with Kanye West the same day. Priorities.

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October Surprise?

Yes, the Republicans did manage to get an accused attempted rapist confirmed to the Supreme Court, but that seems to be the only good news for them.

Yesterday, the Dow Jones average dropped 832 points. This has Wall Street rattled, and further drops are expected. On top of that, stock in Ford Motor Co. is down 29% and the company has announced that they are laying off 12% of its workforce. Interestingly, the company is blaming Donald Trump’s tariffs.

So, how will the election go if the economy goes south. Despite the fact that Trump has done little to improve the economy, he has been repeatedly taking credit for the (formerly) high stock market and low unemployment. Will he still feel the same way, or will he find a way to blame an economic slump on Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, or even kneeling football players?

But that isn’t the worst news for Trump. The news that Trump almost certainly feels the worst about is that Fox News is going to stop broadcasting his rallies live. The ratings for them have been dropping and are just too low now. And with Trump getting less of the attention he craves, look for him to pull some crazy stunt to get back into the news. It might get ugly.

UPDATE: The Dow continued to drop on Thursday, for a two-day loss of more than 1300 points. We’ll see what happens Friday.

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Immigration Hypocrisy

Everyone has been focused on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, so of course the Republicans have taken this distraction as an opportunity to sneak in some things they wanted. Probably the most hypocritical example is a proposed new regulation that affects legal immigrants.

The new regulation will deny “green cards” (residency) to legal immigrants if they have received any kind of government assistance. The benefit programs that are targeted include food stamps, welfare, Medicaid, Medicare Part D (prescription drug subsidies), and housing assistance. So if any legal immigrant utilizes any of these programs, they will not be allowed to become permanent residents and will have to leave the US when their temporary visa expires.

For example, if someone from another country comes to the US on a student visa to attend a university, even if a company really wants to hire them they will have difficulty staying here if, even temporarily, they receive government assistance. For example, if they get in a serious accident and can’t afford our extremely expensive healthcare costs, they will have to choose between medical care and the possibility of becoming a resident in the future.

This will restrict children’s access to food and health care. In fact, it already has, as immigrants are already turning down government subsidies to help them buy staple foods and infant formula for fear that it will be used against them if they ever want to become a permanent legal resident.

Again, this will mainly target legal immigrants, because illegal immigrants are already barred from most federal benefits.

But the thing that is really insidious about this is that the new regulation allows permanent residency to be denied if the government anticipates that the the immigrant may utilize government benefits in the future. I can see where this will go, as Republicans deny residency for legal immigrants who are likely to vote against Republicans if they ever become US citizens. You know, the same way that they are making it harder for Democratic citizens to vote.

How hypocritical is this? Remember that Donald Trump is married to an illegal immigrant.

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No Buddies Care

Even Brett Kavanaugh’s drinking buddies say that he lied under oath when he claimed that he never drank to the point of forgetting what he was doing. They swear that they saw him do just that on multiple occasions.

The point is that this isn’t about what Kavanaugh did when he was younger. This is about him lying his way onto the Supreme Court. And if he lies about this, what else is he willing to lie about?


©

Lindsey Graham said that Democrats attempts to question Kavanaugh were “the most despicable thing I have seen in my time in politics”. Seriously? More despicable than what the Republicans did to Bill Clinton (something in which Kavanaugh was deeply involved)? Or what they did to Merrick Garland? More despicable than starting a war against Iraq? Or torture (in which Kavanaugh was also involved)? Or warrantless spying on Americans (yet another thing in which Kavanaugh was involved)?

Last week, the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh failed. If he is nonetheless confirmed, it is a gross failure of the American system of government.

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Republicans don’t know the meaning of “stop”

Taking the tip from Brett Kavanaugh and Donald Trump, Republicans have started attacking Christine Blasey Ford.

For example, they are posting photographs that they claim proves that Ford is a Democratic party operative. Except that the photographs they are posting of Ford with Bill Clinton and George Soros aren’t actually Ford. In fact, they don’t look anything like her. The one posing with Clinton is Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and with Soros is Lyudmyla Kozlovska. Maybe women all look alike to them.

Right-wing media is also claiming that Ford perjured herself in her testimony to the Senate committee. For example, InfoWars claims that Ford lied about being a psychologist because she is not licensed as a psychologist in California. They conveniently ignore the fact that only clinical psychologists (who treat patients) need a license. Ford is not a clinical psychologist but she has a Ph.D. in psychology and does research on psychology at a university, which obviously fully qualifies her as a psychologist. But I guess readers of InfoWars don’t know that.

Unfortunately, there is strong evidence that the Republican base is eating this crap up. Getting someone who has been credibly accused of attempted rape confirmed to the Supreme Court is actually increasing Republican enthusiasm in advance of the midterms.

We can only hope that there is a backlash against this.


© Jen Sorensen

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Does Lindsey Graham want to be First Lady?

[I was wondering when Margaret and Helen would weigh in. Helen Philpot does not disappoint.]

Lindsey Graham Sets His Sights On Becoming First Lady

Margaret, did you know that women currently make up more than half the population in the US, but we are represented by a Congress made up of 80 percent men? Oh, and honey, it gets worse. Among other countries we are ranked 104th in the world when it comes to female representation in government. Five places behind Saudi Arabia! Hell, we’re almost 40 spots behind Iraq… Yes. You heard me: BEHIND IRAQ.

How long before men realize that women are their equals? After last week, we can probably make the argument that we are more than equal. Everyone of those GOP Senators expected an overly emotional, erratic and maybe even hysterical witness… and let me tell you Brett Kavanaugh did not disappoint. If I were Brett, I’d be worried that The Donald might now try to grab his pussy. Christine Ford managed to stay calm and respectful for 4 hours. Brett couldn’t last 2 minutes before he came undone. And speaking of undone, Lindsey Graham deserves an award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his portrayal of Donald Trump’s new girlfriend. Move over Stormy Daniels. Hurricane Graham has arrived.

To be clear, Brett Kavanaugh is indeed innocent until proven guilty. And it’s not search and destroy like Kavanaugh and Trump want us to believe. It’s about making sure the truth comes out. Afterall, if there is nothing to find, then it doesn’t matter how hard you search. When a woman finds the courage to speak about sexual assault, she deserves to be heard. And hearing her means taking the time to fully investigate in hopes of uncovering the truth. And if that means men need to be a little scared, so be it. We women have been living scared all our lives. If you are worried for your sons, I have one piece of advice for you. Teach them to respect women. Problem solved.

But I don’t even know why I am wasting my time writing this. For the love of God, Republicans just elected a man who was videotaped bragging about assault. Are we really surprised they think a calendar showing exercise workouts during the 80’s is proof enough of innocence? If you are a Republican woman, I hope you are paying attention. It doesn’t matter how accomplished, how intelligent or how credible you are. You will be ignored, dismissed and even smeared if you stand between a Republican man and his path to power… regardless of what evidence you have or don’t have. If it happens in their teens, it’s boys will be boys, and if it happens as adults, it’s just locker room talk. Evidently Republicans are just fine electing men who sexually harass and assault women.

Honestly, how do Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins sleep at night? It’s been almost thirty years since the Anita Hill testimony, and we women continue to be ignored about sexual harassment, assault and rape at the hands of powerful men. There have been 52 total women in the United States Senate since its establishment in 1789. And one of those women simply served for one day. Until 2001, the most common way for a woman to become a US Senator was to be appointed following the death or resignation of a husband or father who previously held the seat. Today there are 21 female Senators – 16 Democrats and 5 Republicans… well 6 depending on which column you place Lindsey Graham. Quite frankly, he lacks the humanity to be in either. Imagine how differently things could be if there were 50.

The late Governor Ann Richards liked to say, “Life isn’t one thing after another. It’s the same damn thing over and over again.” Well, I am tired of fighting this fight over and over again. This November we have more women than ever running for elected office, and I for one plan to vote for them early and often. I mean it.

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The SC solution

Benjamin Wittes (the editor in chief of Lawfare and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution) published an excellent article in The Atlantic titled “I Know Brett Kavanaugh, but I Wouldn’t Confirm Him“.

I agree with everything Wittes says. He gives more than one strong reason why Kavanaugh should not be confirmed. He does this without claiming things like “perjury”. And he is a conservative Republican.

The bottom line is that regardless of what happened over 30 years ago, “Thursday’s hearing left Kavanaugh nonviable as a justice.”

If the Supreme Court is something you care about, you should read it.

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Why the Anger?

If you don’t understand why the #metoo movement is so angry, I suggest you read this short article titled “Everything I can remember“.

As a man, I can only guess what this must be like. I try to relate it to the times I have felt threatened or in danger from others and how that made me feel. But I acknowledge that this is extremely different. I can only try to imagine what it would be like to face such constant harassment.

I do understand how infuriating it must be to have someone elected as our president who openly brags about sexually assaulting women. Someone who not only treats nobody with respect (unless they are actively kowtowing to him), but seems to be giving the assholes of the world permission to act (and speak) on their darkest impulses.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t automatically believe every woman who accuses someone of sexual assault or harassment. Even though by the very nature of sexual assault, evidence is almost always very difficult to obtain, and indeed, even when there is significant corroboration, it is likely to be ignored or dismissed. If a woman has been assaulted, reporting it will all-too-often result in a worse situation, frequently even worse for the woman than the assault itself.

Anyone who asks “why didn’t she report it immediately” is at best an idiot.

I sometimes see #metoo going too far. But I never question the validity of their anger. Just, occasionally, how they express it. After all, if we are told that “boys will be boys” then we should expect that in response, “girls will be girls”. Everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt, not just men.

How to get out of this dilemma? Take reports of assault and rape seriously and investigate them, like any other significant crime. Listen to women and their concerns, and treat these concerns with respect.

I was once involved in a situation where a man was unfairly accused of something by a woman. After investigating, I helped defend the man, even though the woman was a friend of mine and I didn’t know the man all that well. Unfortunately, the social pressure against him forced him to move away to another city.

Yes, it happens. But I believe this is an exception. It just proves that you have to treat both sides fairly. Dismissing the man’s side is just as bad as dismissing the woman’s side.

Unfortunately, we seem to be typically much more willing to dismiss women. Or silence them.


© Bruce MacKinnon

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Kavanaugh

John Oliver asks all the right questions. For example, why are the Republicans so desperate to put Judge Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court? Couldn’t they find someone who is a little less of an asshole?

The interesting thing to me when I watch video of Kavanaugh is that he seems to be acting. I don’t get any feeling that he actually believes much of anything he is saying. He went from appearing on Fox News pretending to be a meek and innocent choir boy, to being spitting angry and insulting to senators (well, at least Democratic ones). I get the sense that he is just doing and saying what he has been told to do and say. It doesn’t matter if his marching orders are coming from the Federalist Society or from Donald Trump, he will be a good little conservative soldier doing their bidding (almost certainly including making sure that Donald Trump never has to answer for any crimes he may have committed).

If you don’t believe me, go back to Kavanaugh’s bizarre acceptance speech when he was nominated to the court. The first thing he said was this: “No president has ever consulted more widely, or talked with more people from more backgrounds, to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination.” That is absolutely unbelievable. Trump (who never vets anyone very well) picked Kavanaugh from a list given to him by the Federalist Society. And even if it were true, why would Kavanaugh say something like this, unless it was to let Donald Trump know that he would do anything to please his masters?

And there were numerous lies and refusing to answer direct questions during Kavanaugh’s questioning by the Senate committee this week.

It seems like Kavanaugh was always this way, all the way back to when he was in high school, drinking hard (even though it was illegal) to prove that he was cool. Or bragging about his sexual conquests, even though he how claims he never had sex, even during college. Seriously?

If Americans buy this crap, they are bigger suckers than anyone thought.

p.s. Make sure you watch the SNL cold open.

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Moral Compass?

If there was any doubt that conservatives — especially social conservatives who used to champion “respectable social behavior” — have completely lost any and all moral authority, you just have to look at the current situation with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Social conservatives have been pretending to hold the moral high ground, opposing supposed sins including gay marriage, abortion, even (and especially) premarital sex. Even birth control, as if sex without procreation is a sin.

Yes, the same people who condemn birth control and premarital sex are now at best silent and at worst condoning sexual assault, claiming that if you even investigate (never mind punish) Kavanaugh for what he is accused (by multiple women) of doing, then you would disqualify all men from being on the Supreme Court.

Really? Sexual assault is just normal teenage behavior? It isn’t even worth investigating? Wow.

I guess I missed that memo when I was a teenager. I don’t remember even being tempted to do any of these things that social conservatives are calling “normal” and “acceptable” for young men.

If that were actually true, then perhaps it would be a good idea to disqualify all men from the Supreme Court.

Truly, Republicans have now completely become the party of dirty old (white) men.


© Tom Tomorrow

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Beer

Now that Donald Trump’s new tariffs against China are in effect, the question is what will this do to prices in the US. Here’s an article that lists what will probably increase in price the most:

TVs
Homes and home renovations
Washing machines
Solar panels
Cars
Beer
Cosmetics
Electronics
Clothing

People have been complaining that the cost of iPhones will go up, and they almost certainly will, but the item on this list that surprised me is “beer”. I’m not sure why tariffs against China will impact the cost of beer, but if this is true and it happens before the midterms, the GOP is definitely screwed.

American companies have already announced that the tariffs would likely force them to raise prices, including Walmart, Gap, Coca-Cola and General Motors.

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Sometimes

Sometimes, not always, but sometimes I think Donald Trump wants to lose his majority in Congress at the midterms. I know this sounds crazy, but what isn’t crazy now?

Look at it this way. Trump loves to complain about how unfair things are to him. With him as president and having majorities in both houses of Congress, he doesn’t really have anyone he can actually blame. He tries to blame Obama for the mysterious “deep state” that was installed in the executive branch that causes all his problems. He tries to blame Jeff Sessions (his own appointee) for the Russian investigation. He wants someone to blame.

And what does Trump have to lose? Other than the Republican tax cut, everything he has done has been by executive order, something he will still have the ability to do even if Congress turns solidly blue. And with a Democratic Congress he will be able to blame the Democrats for everything.

You might ask, but what about judicial appointments? If the Senate goes to the Democrats, it won’t be so easy to appoint conservative judges. He thought it would be fine if he gets Kavanaugh installed on the Supreme Court, but remember, even if the nomination fails, Trump still has until January to install a conservative, and establish a conservative majority.

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