Trump hints at Michael Flynn pardon

Nothing says you’re innocent like openly talking about pardoning the guy who’s singing to the prosecutor.

Asked whether he planned to pardon former national security adviser Michael Flynn, Trump said “I don’t want to talk about pardons for Michael Flynn yet. We’ll see what happens.”

Yet.  Because he would see nothing wrong with pardoning Flynn later?  Because he hasn’t decided whether to fire the special prosecutor?  Because someone is going to be disappeared before the investigation is done?

Moore fails despite best efforts by Republicans

Roy Moore had the backing of damn near every Republican, including Donald Trump, the Republican National Committee, most evangelical Christians, and Sean Hannity, despite being twice removed from the Alabama Supreme Court for misconduct, despite being disbarred, despite numerous credible allegations that he is a child molester, despite his support for getting rid of all the Constitutional amendments after the Tenth (including the ones that banned slavery and gave women the right to vote), despite his anti-Semitism.

Credit is due to the tiny minority of Republicans who didn’t go along, including the 1.7% of Alabama voters who wrote in someone else (giving the 1.5% margin of victory to Doug Jones), and the Nebraskan who quit the RNC over its support of Moore.  One wonders what it would take to get those people to quit the Republican Party.

Can the Republican Party ever live down their support of such a candidate?  It’s up to us to give a resounding “hell no” in answer to that question.  No forgiveness, no normalizing of a party that is openly racist, no legitimacy.  The Republican Party is permanently beyond the pale of democracy.

Democratic activists denied access to voter database by DNC

This is not how the Democratic Party is going to fix itself.

All things being equal, a Democrat in a safe seat is likely to swing to the right, because doing so allows them to hoover up massive campaign contributions from rich people and corporate lobbyists and secure themselves cozy sinecures for themselves once they leave office — all without risking their seat, because incumbents automatically get re-nominated and incumbents in safe seats always get re-elected.

So long-term incumbency in Democratic seats is a strong predictor of being a useless sellout Republican-in-Democrat-clothing.

This is why it’s especially grave that the DNC is refusing to allow primary challengers to access Votebuilder, the party’s central database, “housing years of information on just about every contact the party has ever made with every voter.” Denying a modern candidate this database is a hamstringing move, virtually guaranteeing their failure.

It’s a move that’s being weaponized against Sanders Democrats, who, running as “Justice Democrats,” are challenging the worst of the worst of Democratic Party politicians, fronting progressive, bold policies that poll well with voters and bode well for the nation.

Official report: Tax cuts won’t pay for themselves

Congressional Republicans have long argued without evidence that tax cuts for the rich and for corporations will pay for themselves.  Now they have to hope you will ignore their own experts, who have officially said no, they won’t pay for themselves.

The congressional Joint Committee on Taxation said Wednesday afternoon that the Senate tax bill would add $1 trillion to federal budget deficits over the next decade, even after accounting for additional economic growth, a major blow to Republicans’ contention that the $1.5 trillion tax cuts in the bill will pay for themselves through growth.

Trump agrees with fascists (again)

Donald Trump retweeting a right-wing nutjob is not unusual, but it should always be news.  And when he retweeted racist videos from Britain First, it seems that was going too far, even for Britain’s Conservative government.  The President is officially unwelcome in London, and his state visit to Britain has been canceled.

Trump supporters may argue that retweeting is not endorsement.  But Trump himself says they are.  Asked in 2015 whether his retweets were endorsements, Trump said yes:

I think that’s right. Do you want me to say no?  You know, I retweet, I retweet for a reason.

Stephen Doughty, member of Parliament with the Labour Party, did not mince words:

This is the President of the United States sharing with millions inflammatory and divisive content deliberately posted to sow hatred and division by — as the Home Secretary says — a convicted criminal who is facing further charges who represents a vile fascist organization seeking to spread hatred and violence in person and online.  By sharing it he is either a racist, incompetent, or unthinking, or all three.

That the President is a racist is obvious to anyone who knows what racism is, but I think Doughty actually may have understated the problem.  The President isn’t just a racist, he’s a fascist who considers fascist organizations and their criminal leaders his allies.

Duterte: “I am a fascist”

Photo: AP
A lot of bleeding heart liberals, myself included, have been using the word “fascist” to describe Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. But now Duterte openly brags of being a fascist. No, really:

I will follow America, since they say that I am an American boy.  OK, granted, I will admit that I am a fascist. I will categorize you already as a terrorist.

It’s not clear who he means by “you” in that last sentence, perhaps the journalist to whom he was speaking.  Note that he says he’s following the lead of America.  Duterte enjoys a warm relationship with Donald Trump, who the aforementioned bleeding heart liberals have also characterized as a fascist, and if you doubted those liberals were correct before, perhaps you should reconsider.

If you, or one of your parents or grandparents, was among those who fought in World War II to defeat fascism, would you please speak up in the comments, and describe your feelings as you read that the Republican Party is on the opposite side today?

Listen to what they don’t say

Things Republican leaders are saying about their candidate Roy Moore:

House Speaker Paul Ryan:

Number one, these allegations are credible. Number two, if he cares about the values that he claims to care about, then he should step aside.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell:

I think he should step aside.

Senator Lindsey Graham:

He was barred from a mall. His behavior was so extreme in his thirties that apparently the Gadsden mall put him on the no-fly list. That tells me a lot. I don’t know anybody personally who’s been banned from a mall.

Things Republican leaders are NOT saying about their candidate Roy Moore:
Alabama Republicans have the power to say this, but won’t:

We, the Alabama Republican Party, hereby decertify Roy Moore as the candidate of our Party.

And no Republican anywhere has publicly said this:

Vote for the Democratic candidate instead.

Not all the Republicans think being a pedophile rapist is disqualifying

An Alabama Republican is standing by Roy Moore, their candidate for Senate in an upcoming special election.

Alabama state auditor Jim Ziegler, a Republican operator, gave an interviews in which he justified Moore’s assaults on children by citing scripture, noting that “Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter” and stating that Moore’s assaults on children were “nothing immoral or illegal…Maybe just a little bit unusual.”

Today’s Republican Party isn’t misogynist and utterly amoral and fascist, just maybe a little bit unusual.  And of course Steve Bannon is blaming the media, not denying the serious allegations the media are reporting.

They know Trump won’t help them, and they love him anyway.

Johnstown, Pennsylvania knows Trump won’t deliver, and they don’t care.

Johnstown voters do not intend to hold the president accountable for the nonnegotiable pledges he made to them. It’s not that the people who made Trump president have generously moved the goalposts for him. It’s that they have eliminated the goalposts altogether.

This reality ought to get the attention of anyone who thinks they will win in 2018 or 2020 by running against Trump’s record. His supporters here, it turns out, are energized by his bombast and his animus more than any actual accomplishments. For them, it’s evidently not what he’s doing so much as it is the people he’s fighting. Trump is simply and unceasingly angry on their behalf, battling the people who vex them the worst—“obstructionist” Democrats, uncooperative establishment Republicans, the media, Black Lives Matter protesters and NFL players (boy oh boy do they hate kneeling NFL players) whom they see as ungrateful, disrespectful millionaires.

And they love him for this.

This is how authoritarian followers think.

We have a monopoly problem

Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz writes about the problems caused by monopoly capitalism.  It’s worth reading the whole piece.

Chicago economists would argue—with little backing in either theory or evidence—that one shouldn’t even worry about monopoly: In an innovative economy, monopoly power would only be temporary, and the ensuing contest to become the monopolist maximized innovation and consumer welfare.

Over the past four decades, economic theory and evidence has laid waste to such claims and the belief that some variant of the competitive equilibrium model provides a good, or even adequate, description of our economy.

But if we begin with the obvious, opposite hypothesis—that what we see in our daily life is true, that our economy is marked in industry after industry by large concentrations of market power—then we can begin to simultaneously understand much of what is going on. There has been an increase in the market power and concentration of a few firms in industry after industry, leading to an increase in prices relative to costs (in mark-ups). This lowers the standard of living every bit as much as it lowers workers’ wages.