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    • The Slow Bipartisan Slide to Authoritarianism
      The funniest thing about Trump are those who feel he is of a piece, separate from American history, and somehow a break from it.  That this government is significantly qualitatively worse than those that came before, rather than an extension of it. (A good example is immigration policy, in which Trump is somewhat worse than […]
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Why the Dreamers matter and what they represent.

Never again.

Keep those words in mind while I tell you why the Democrats are holding the line on DACA and why they have to do it.

Masha Gessen, the journalist who had to leave Putin’s Russia has been writing the last year about what it’s like to live in an autocracy. One of her suggestions at the beginning of the One Party Rule- Trump Presidency era is to make a list. The list will be of things and principles you once held dear that you will gradually cede to the autocrat. These things will start to feel normal and that’s where the danger lies. Amy Siskind has been keeping the list. You may need to refresh your memory.

One of those things surely has to be how we allow the current government and its base to treat human beings it has identified as the scapegoats and the cause of all its problems. We are now at the point where we, each individual, has to decide if we can accept inhumane and immoral treatment of immigrants, specifically the ones who were brought here as children, had no choice in the matter, made America their home and in every possible way are culturally American.

Are we going to let this autocrat and his base strip these people of their rights as human beings to seek justice and protection? Are we going to throw them out of the only country they’ve ever known? Are we going to force them to adhere to draconian restrictions on their livelihoods, force them to leave their families and belongings behind as they are quickly rounded up and deported without recourse?

Think about this carefully. Because this is what happened to the Jews in Germany in the 1930’s.

Oh, surely, you exaggerate, RD. The Dreamers are nothing like the Jews. Really? Let’s review.

They had been living in Germany all their lives, considered themselves German. And they were stripped of their citizenship, professions, and property. They became the targets of angry mobs who vandalized their places of business and harassed them. But even that wasn’t enough for the base. No, once they were identified and targeted, they were rounded up and deported to collection centers for forced labor or death, whichever came first.

Think of the logistics of finding and deporting the Dreamers. And it won’t stop with them because Trump wants to throw all illegal immigrants out as quickly as possible reaching into the heartland to find and destroy every one of them.

How is he going to move all of those millions of people? We’re talking about the Dreamers and all the other Salvadorans, Haitians, Mexicans. There will be raids in the middle of the night. Children will live in fear of having their parents taken away from them. (This is already happening). Their property will be confiscated. Their jobs will be gone. They’ll be rounded up in some detention center until they can be returned to the country in which they were born.

How will they be moved to these detention centers when the deportations start? When they get there, how will they be fed? Who will give them health care? Are they even entitled to that? If appropriate detention centers can’t be built to house all of them, will they be sent to prisons run by private industry? We’re talking about millions of people.

Who gets all the stuff they leave behind? What if the base doesn’t want to spend even one more penny feeding them and housing them and taking care of them when they’re sick? We have a country that is loaded with guns and indignant white guys who are ready to form their own militias to give ICE a hand. If some get shot, what are they going to do? Have Dreamers Lives Matter protests? Do they have the right to gather and petition the government to address their grievances like all American citizens do?

It could, and WILL, get very ugly, very fast. But the Dreamers and illegal immigrants are just the start. Because the base blames all kinds of people for its problems. Gay people, black people, women, poor people, sick people, Muslims. They’ve already started their own little wars against those groups. Think of the 9 million poor children on CHIP whose lives are held hostage now. This is the GOP’s way of practicing politics. Take two groups hostage and force the rest of us to decide who lives: the sick kids or the Dreamers.

This is why Democrats have to hold the line until Trump and his hard ass advisors give in. They don’t like it, it’s bad politics. But sometimes, none of our options are good and we are forced to go with the one that has the potential for a better overall outcome in the end.

The reasoning behind the Trump treatment of the Dreamers is immoral. It’s petty. It’s dangerous. It’s beneath us. What does it cost us to let Dreamers stay in this country with a clear path to citizenship? Why are we so intent on making their lives so hard? Why? How does that make US better people? Richer people? More content people? How does exerting power over a helpless targeted group materially or morally improve our lives?

Put it on your list and ask yourself, can I as a citizen of this nation live with this?

If the answer is no, if you have a different vision for the future where we all thrive together, then tomorrow, we march.

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Rs vs Ds budget talks

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Tweet du Jour

And now for something completely different

Have you ever wondered where Monty Python got it’s crazy sketch ideas? Start here, with the very first 10 minutes of broadcast of BBC 2. Note that it starts with technical difficulties.

God, I needed that after this:

The next battleground district: PA 18

A few months ago, Republican House Representative, Tim Murphy, was busted by his former mistress who said he encouraged her to get an abortion. Curiously, Tim Murphy was one of those typical “family values/pro-life” candidates during campaign season and a typical movement conservative in Congress. Anyway, he decided to quit so he could spend more time with his family or something. 🙄

So, the PA-18 House seat is up for grabs and there will be a special election in March. The two candidates currently contending for the seat are Conor Lamb- Democrat and Rick Saccone- Republican.

Here are brief descriptions of each from a recent Reuters article on the race:

But the fledgling candidacy of Conor Lamb, a 33-year-old Marine veteran and former assistant U.S. attorney, has Democrats there dreaming of an upset in a special congressional election that could offer the best test yet of the strength of a possible Democratic wave forming for November’s congressional elections.

Saccone is a staunch Christian conservative, backing gun rights, opposing abortion rights and introducing a resolution declaring 2012 to be “the year of the Bible.” While Democrats were surprised a more moderate candidate was not chosen to oppose Lamb, Christopher Nicholas, a Pennsylvania-based Republican consultant, said Saccone “fits the district.”

The district is largely suburban, exurban and rural. It went for Trump by 20 points in 2016.

To be honest, I don’t meet too many Trumpers in Pittsburgh. Clinton won Allegheny county by a whopping number and beat Obama’s 2012 tally by 14000 votes. But I have relatives who I think are in Murphy’s district and except for one of them, they are none too keen on Trump. Appalled would be more descriptive.

Anyway, this will be a good one to watch. I think the key is going to be getting the vote out. How many potential Clinton voters stayed home in 2016 because the media couldn’t stop harping on her emails? I’m guessing that there are a lot. There may be a way to turn this district blue. We’ll see.

Here’s a map of my district, represented by Mike Doyle (I live approximately where the O is) and PA 18. Yep, very close.

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This should be obvious

But unfortunately, there are a lot of people who will stubbornly resist the logic and will swallow whatever their tribal leaders say, no matter how nonsensical:

And this:

I think we can all agree on the bigness of numbers, right? Some numbers are bigger than others. Ok, more technically, the magnitude that a number represents is greater than the magnitude of the numbers that precede it. That is not an alternative fact. That’s just common sense.

So here are the numbers that Hayes is referring to:

House of Representatives:

Republican = 239

Democrat = 193

Vacant = 3

US Senate

Republican = 51

Democrats = 47

Other = 2

I think we can all agree that 239>193 and that 51>49. That seems pretty straightforward.

So, it doesn’t matter if Democrats are cooperative and agree with every thing Republicans want or whether they hold their breath and refuse to play along. There is NOTHING THEY CAN DO IF THEY DON’T HAVE A MAJORITY.

It’s like talking to a wall. These memes get stuck in people’s heads and they persist in spite of all evidence. But they’re just beautiful theories destroyed by ugly facts.

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Hey! Remember this orange oldie?

Turns out Stormy Daniels had a different opinion about 7 years ago and it’s all about to hit the cashier’s aisle at your local supermarket.

She appears to be quite the authority on the subject of love making, if that’s what you call it. What will she tell us about Trump’s stamina?

In Memoriam

Dolores O Riordan (1971-2018)

Linger…

Lack of dementia != lack of evil

The Montreal Cognition test, have you seen it? It’s 30 questions that a third grader should be able to ace. No, seriously, check it out yourself. It asks the subject to do simple things like draw a clock face for 10 minutes past 11 or what do an orange and banana have in common (concrete answer: they’re both fruit. More abstract answer(s): they’re both fruits that are peeled, they both grow in warm sub-tropical to tropical climates, they’re both sweet, they aren’t blue). Any eight year old should be able to do this test enthusiastically. In fact, you’ll probably get more answers from a delightful 8 year old than you needed. They can’t get enough of this stuff.

I can see where this is a useful test for a family member who mistakes his wife for a hat. But note that forgetfulness, confusion and early signs of dementia are not the same thing as disinterest, stupidity or lack of talent. It’s scary that Reagan would have failed this test but as bad as Reagan was, he was still smarter and more capable of doing his job than Donald.

Here is what the test is not: it’s not an intelligence test, it’s not a personality test like the MMPI, it’s not a psychological assessment and it is not a test for evil. Evil is knowing that doing something is wrong and harmful and doing it anyway. For more on this topic, read The Lucifer Effect by the designer of the Stanford Prison Experiment, psychologist Philip Zimbardo. Read that sucker. You’ll understand Donald Trump completely. It explains why he uses Dreamers as bargaining chips, can ignore the health of poor sick children on CHIP, deliberately screwed the blue states on taxes including California which has the 5th largest economy in the world, and can make Puerto Rican’s even more miserable by signing a tax “reform” bill that imposes an excise tax on American citizens that have already suffered a devastating hurricane and who are still in the dark three months later.

Let’s not let Republicans off the hook. They’re either complicit or scared to death that Donald’s childish, mean spirited, retributive score settling and petulance will turn its eye on them and their states next. This is a man who has been allowed to skate his whole life, who has been given break after break, has been praised and appeased like Veruka Salt, and believes that if you’re rich enough, you’re never held accountable for any bad behavior you can pay lawyers to take care of for you.

It’s no wonder that he does bad things, stupid things, careless things. What’s awful about the Montreal cognitive assessment test is now we know that he is perfectly capable and aware of exactly how much harm he’s doing.

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Tweet du Jour:

Stiff competition:

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Corey Booker schools Kierstjen Nielsen. Best quote from Martin Luther King Jr:

Listen up, Trumpers, we all went to school during the Civil Rights era when we were told to never judge a book by its cover and that prejudice was bad. I can’t even say the N word. Haven’t since I was four years old and asked my mom what it meant. Racism is shameful. It diminishes the person who believes that one group of people is better and deserves more of everything good in life. And you all know this. You have an opportunity every day to wake up and see other people as people whose circumstances in life may be wholly different from yours. So do it.

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

Don’t do evil.