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Hullabaloo


Monday, December 31, 2018

 
Happy New Year!

by digby

Raise a glass and share a laugh, this may be the funniest political moment of 2018:



It's only going to get wilder. Oh my.



If you value what we write here, I hope you'll consider supporting the blog with a couple of bucks. If you've already donated, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you haven't and would like to, the paypal buttons are on the sidebar and below as is the snail mail address.

Buckle up everybody. It's going to be a very bumpy New Year ...


cheers --- digby











Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405


.

 
Dumb and dumber tweets, every single day

by digby



He's sitting in bed eating cheeseburgers, watching Fox, checking Breitbart, happy as can be. And it's making him even dumber than usual:



In one of his most recent arguments for a southern border wall, President Trump on Sunday falsely claimed that the Washington home of former president Barack Obama and Michelle Obama is surrounded by a 10-foot wall...

Trump’s assertion came as a surprise to two of the Obamas' neighbors Monday, who told The Washington Post that there is no such wall. The 8,200-square-foot structure, despite several security features, is completely visible from the street.

A neighbor, a longtime resident of the area who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preserve their privacy, said Trump “has a very active imagination.”

“There’s a fence that goes along the front of the house, but it’s the same as the other neighbors have,” the neighbor said. “It’s tastefully done.”

The former president and first lady purchased the nine-bedroom mansion for $8.1 million in 2017, The Post previously reported. It’s located in the affluent D.C. neighborhood of Kalorama, which is also home to Ivanka Trump and Amazon founder Jeffrey P. Bezos, who owns The Post. Previous residents of the neighborhood have included former presidents Woodrow Wilson, William Howard Taft, Warren G. Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover.

TMZ reported on construction to the residence in 2017 before the Obamas moved in, which the website also characterized as “a wall.”

As The Post’s Fact Checker notes, the Obamas added security fencing to a retaining wall in front of the home (it is not a compound) for the needs of the Secret Service. A guard booth was built, and fencing was added to the back.
[...]
Another neighbor said the Obamas' home is “100 percent visible from the street.”

“There is no 10-foot wall in the front, back or sides of the house — and no wall is going up,” the person said.

An editor at The Post who went to the residence Monday morning noted that part of the street was blocked off — neighbors say there are security checkpoints at either end of the street — but confirmed that a wall was not visible from their vantage point, either.

Trump continued to tweet about his proposed wall Monday morning, criticizing Democrats for rejecting the idea. The Senate approved a stopgap funding measure in late December that did not contain wall money but would have kept the government open until Feb. 8.

“They say it’s old technology - but so is the wheel,” Trump wrote.” They now say it is immoral- but it is far more immoral for people to be dying!”

This is a new version of his previous arguments that demanded Clinton and Obama get rid of all armed security if they believe in gun safety.It's stupid but it seems to play well with his rally crowds. They love the idea of Democrats being vulnerable to gun violence.


If you value what we write here, I hope you'll consider supporting the blog with a couple of bucks. If you've already donated, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you haven't and would like to, the paypal buttons are on the sidebar and below as is the snail mail address.

Buckle up everybody. It's going to be a very bumpy New Year ...


cheers --- digby











Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405


.
 
Let the games begin

by digby




I stay out of Democratic presidential primaries as much as possible and I'm hoping to continue that habit this year as well. But I'm thrilled that such a quality field is developing and I look forward to seeing how it all shakes out. Obviously, beating Donald Trump is job one, but I don't have a clue what the winning formula is at the moment so I think a good primary battle will make that a bit more clear.

Anyway, Senator Elizabeth Warren announced her candidacy today and I'm very happy to see her in there. She has tremendous political talent, in particular a way of speaking that conveys economic issues in terms that average people can relate to. I've been a fan for a very long time, ever since I got to hear her address a small meeting of a few of us at Netroots Nation back in 2010. I remember that someone asked her at the end of it if she would run for president and she flashed a rueful little smile and ducked out of the room. I always figured that if the stars aligned that meant "yes."

Anyway, here's her announcement video. Let the games begin:





If you value what we write here, I hope you'll consider supporting the blog with a couple of bucks. If you've already donated, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you haven't and would like to, the paypal buttons are on the sidebar and below as is the snail mail address.

Buckle up everybody. It's going to be a very bumpy New Year ...


cheers --- digby











Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405


.
 
QOTD: Walter Jones, R-NC

by digby



“If Mexico isn’t going to be made to pay for a wall, that means funds must be found internally. As a wealthy man, the president might consider pledging some of his own funds as well [to help build the wall. ]Whatever it takes, just so long as we don’t add to the debt that is bankrupting our great country.”
He's quite a card. As if Trump would ever pay for anything out of his own pocket. He's even got the taxpayers picking up part of the tab for the party down in Mar-a-lago tonight --- a party he isn't even attending but which will be putting money in his own pocket from all the rich bigwigs who paid top dollar to attend.  He stole money from his "charity." The man is the most hardcore skinflint in the world, at least partly because he lives on debt and graft and has very little money of his own.

But it's a cute idea. Haha.

If you value what we write here, I hope you'll consider supporting the blog with a couple of bucks. If you've already donated, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you haven't and would like to, the paypal buttons are on the sidebar and below as is the snail mail address.

Buckle up everybody. It's going to be a very bumpy New Year ...


cheers --- digby











Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405


.
 
The greatest negotiator the world has ever known

by digby




He willingly hung that mantle around his neck. The Democrats must set it afire.
In a series of tweets Monday morning, President Donald Trump demanded that Democratic leaders return to Washington, D.C. to reach a border security deal, just days after GOP leadership sent Congress home without finalizing the bipartisan bill to avert a partial government shutdown of the president’s own making.

“I campaigned on Border Security,” Trump tweeted, “which you cannot have without a strong and powerful Wall … Dems should get back here an (sic) fix now!”

Prior to the shutdown, Trump boasted that he would be “proud to shut down the government for border security,” telling Democratic leaders, “I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down — I’m not going to blame you for it.”

Although they controlled both chambers of Congress for nearly two years, Republican lawmakers have been unable to deliver on Trump’s demands of $5 billion in funding for a border war along the U.S.-Mexico border, one that the president vowed Mexico would fund. GOP leaders in the House and Senate, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), have been largely absent over the past week and, according to the Washington Post, Republicans haven’t organized meetings to develop a strategy to defend the president.

GOP lawmakers have attempted over the past year to rebrand the wall as a “security fence,” in an apparent effort to make the the structure more palatable to Democrats. On Sunday, after a meeting with the president, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told reporters that the “wall has become a metaphor for border security” and that Republican lawmakers are merely pushing for a “physical barrier” that “makes sense.”

Democratic leaders have said they support more than $1 billion in border security funding, but that they do not want any of the money to go toward building a wall.

His enablers, like Lindsey Graham, are trying to change the terms of the debate, calling the wall a "metaphor" but Trump isn't having it, and neither are the right wing radio and TV hosts who have him by the ... fingers:



He's wearing it. Let him smother himself in it.





If you value what we write here, I hope you'll consider supporting the blog with a couple of bucks. If you've already donated, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you haven't and would like to, the paypal buttons are on the sidebar and below as is the snail mail address.

Buckle up everybody. It's going to be a very bumpy New Year ...


cheers --- digby











Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405


.
 
Back to the Republican future

by digby



This is just the beginning if they have their way. It's the kind of thing that used to happen every day, in every state, before the ACA. They are intent upon showing us all just how cruel they can be.

Arkansas is throwing thousands of people off its Medicaid rolls each month for not complying with work requirements, blindsiding vulnerable residents panicked about losing their health coverage.

Views differ on the fairness of the unprecedented social experiment, but there’s unanimity here that it’s causing confusion. And that’s feeding a philosophical debate about whether low-income adults are ducking the work rules or just can’t navigate the tech-heavy reporting system that goes offline every night at 9 p.m.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson defended the program, saying it provides the help residents need to become independent. “These are not people that didn’t want to work,” he said in an interview. “It’s just they might not have had the training they needed, or they didn’t have a job opportunity and they needed additional assistance. And that’s what the objective is of the program.”

The state has removed more than 16,000 low-income adults for failing to log at least 80 hours of work, job training, volunteering or similar activity — including 4,655 in November.

Some of the people thrown off the program describe a nightmarish, confusing experience with clunky technology and no one to help them. Individuals who don't adhere to the new rules for three months get removed from Medicaid for the rest of the year.

“I have pre-existing conditions. But all they could tell me was, 'Sorry, you didn’t comply,'” said Jamie Deyo, who lost coverage and suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and back problems stemming from a 2013 car accident. “It just was a slap in the face.”

Deyo is one of nine Arkansas Medicaid enrollees who sued the Trump administration in August to block the rules. She said a state letter notifying her about the work requirements was sent to the wrong address, leaving her completely unaware of the new terms. After losing coverage, the 38-year-old was unable to go to physical therapy or see her doctor to schedule surgery to repair a broken screw in her back. She’s also had to pay more for medication.

“A lot of people don’t realize how bad I hurt,” she said. “I can’t stand up a lot. If I could work, I would.”

The Trump administration is using work rules to cut enrollment in the safety net program after the Affordable Care Act expanded it to millions of able-bodied low-income adults. Arkansas — which imposed rules in June on certain enrollees age 30 to 49 and plans to expand them in January to those age 19 to 29 — provides the first real-time results of the GOP’s push to reshape the entitlement.

The Trump administration has approved similar rules in Indiana, Kentucky, New Hampshire and Wisconsin, but they haven’t taken effect yet; Kentucky’s have been stalled by a lawsuit from advocates for the poor.

Arkansas officials are belatedly making accommodations for people in a poor state with limited internet access after national backlash from health care advocates, including a new phone line for enrollees to report their hours.

Online reporting kiosks have also been available at county offices. But the state has not hired additional workers to help Medicaid enrollees navigate the new rules, despite the high stakes for non-compliance.

Only 1,428 low-income adults required to report their hours in November logged at least 80 hours. Roughly 8,400 failed to report 80 hours, with 98 percent of them not reporting any work activities, according to statistics from the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

Arkansas’ Medicaid experiment has drawn ire from Democrats across the country as well as from a panel of Medicaid experts that advises Congress, which in November asked Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to stop the state from dropping people until outreach efforts are improved.

Racheal Holmes said she lost her benefits at the end of October despite going to a Department of Human Services office in Little Rock once a month to log her hours.

Holmes, who had been working at a grocery store, said it took hours just to log in to the online reporting system the first time. A state worker offered help only after a security guard noticed she was still at the office after several hours, she said.

“You couldn’t get basic assistance, as though it’s a way for you to fail,” said Holmes, who is currently unemployed and has been unable to afford medication to treat high blood pressure since her coverage lapsed. She doesn’t think the work requirements are unfair but asks, “Where’s the assistance?”

Arkansas officials point to what they describe as promising signs the requirements are working but haven't finalized plans to see whether the project is achieving its goals of helping individuals find work and improving their health.

More than 3,800 Medicaid enrollees who were subject to the work rules have found jobs since June, although it’s unclear how many of them were motivated specifically by the new requirements.

Hutchinson scoffed at critics who say the state isn't doing enough, citing examples such as the Department of Human Services making more than 155,000 phone calls to educate enrollees about the rules. The state is also planning a new advertising campaign.

“You could show that it was 100 percent successful in every way and they would still criticize it, because they don’t believe that any responsibility should have to accompany a social benefit such as Medicaid,” Hutchinson said. “The criticism is based upon myths and misunderstandings and a totally different philosophy.”

Hutchinson fought with legislators in his own party to continue the Medicaid expansion his Democratic predecessor began under Obamacare, which now covers more than 230,000 people. The governor maintains that the work requirements are a needed conservative counterweight to the health law's coverage expansion in a red state where there’s little desire to enlarge the social safety net.

A supermajority of three-fourths of the Arkansas House and Senate is required to approve funding for Medicaid expansion each year, leading to almost annual cliffhanger votes.

Hutchinson's push to institute conservative changes has given Democrats and advocates for the poor heartburn, with critics arguing Medicaid was never intended to be a jobs program. Conservatives disagree.

“It is reasonable and expected in the United States of America and especially here in conservative Arkansas that people who are able to work will do so,” said state Sen. Jason Rapert. “It is not acceptable for people to think they are entitled for other taxpayers to pay for services for them just because they do not want to work. That is not individual responsibility.”

In an interview earlier this month, Rapert said he hadn’t heard a single complaint from constituents subject to the work requirements.

But residents tell other stories. Casey Copeland, a 37-year-old who struggled with depression and drug addiction following the death of his father, said he's able to comply with the rules only by volunteering in the community and relying on financial support from his family.

“If my mom didn’t support me on the financial stuff, I couldn’t do all of it,” he said in an interview at Canvas Community Church in Little Rock, which holds a weekly dinner-and-a-movie gathering for the homeless.

Copeland was able to report his hours online using a computer at home but said the process was “very confusing.”

Department of Human Services Director Cindy Gillespie said officials are looking at the program “continuously” to see how it can be improved for enrollees.

“We’re trying to help them get to a lot of the things that exist in this state,” she said. “We’re trying not to really be fixated on what everybody else is saying outside Arkansas about the program.”

That's not much consolation for Deyo, who's figuring out how to deal with her infirmities in the new landscape.

“I have the doctors‘ notes that say I can’t work; I have their signatures,” she said. “Nobody wanted to hear that from me."

Making sick people work in order to get health care is right up there with the most dissonant policies they've ever came up with. It makes even less sense than usual.

Look for them to start saying people need to work to get social security and Medicare as well. After all, just because they're old doesn't mean people shouldn't "take responsibility" for their retirement and health care, amirite?

I wish I could understand what it is about sick people getting health care that makes these people so angry that they lose their humanity.


If you value what we write here, I hope you'll consider supporting the blog with a couple of bucks. If you've already donated, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you haven't and would like to, the paypal buttons are on the sidebar and below as is the snail mail address.

Buckle up everybody. It's going to be a very bumpy New Year ...


cheers --- digby











Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405


.
 
The worst of Donald Trump

by digby



There's just so much. So very much:

I don't know about you but I'm pretty sure I aged at least a decade in 2018. This accelerated political news cycle in the Trump era has the effect of making every day feel like a week and every month feel like a year. With all the chaos and perpetual motion, it would be easy to simply dismiss the whole thing as one big mess. But it isn't. It's all bad, but some things are much worse than others. And yes, the president of the United States is responsible for all of them. Nobody else even comes close.

Trump hurled some personal insults this year that were truly obnoxious, even for him. He called adult film actress Stormy Daniels "Horseface." He said dozens of times in his rallies and his twitter feed that Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat, is "low IQ" (while at the same time declaring himself a "very stable genius"). He called his former staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman "that dog" and cruelly mocked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford for her testimony during Justice Brett Kavanaugh's nomination hearing. He tweeted, “Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!”

Members of his own administration weren't spared, including former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who Trump tweeted was "dumb as a rock" and didn't have the "mental capacity" for the job. We can assume that 2019 will bring similar tweets about soon-to-be-former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, whose resignation letter angered Trump greatly once the pundits on TV explained to him what it meant. His insults toward former members of the intelligence community are too many to list, but one of the big low points of the year was his impulsive decision to pull the security clearances of former CIA director John Brennan in a fit of pique.

It goes without saying that Trump has spent most of the year decrying Robert Mueller's investigation and making wild accusations against anyone and everyone he believes threatens him. (He often simply tweets "Witch Hunt!" as a sort of primal scream into the void.) Nothing threatens him more than the media, which he calls the "enemy of the people." This is an ongoing low point for the presidency -- no single comment or tweet stands out. His Twitter freak flag flies on a daily basis, every day bringing a fresh outrage.

But there have been some specific low points in 2018 that merit acknowledgment for their seriousness. Trump's infantile rhetoric is one thing. Perhaps the republic will be able to restore some semblance of maturity and decency to the office once he's gone. But his policy decisions and behavior on the world stage are something else.

Trump hit the ground running in January with a series of belligerent tweets taunting the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un. The most memorable would be the one in which he wrote, "please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!" The president later cast aside all normal protocol and met with Kim in an elaborately staged but substance-free meeting in Singapore which Trump later described as the moment he and the murderous dictator "fell in love."

This qualifies as a low point for a number of reasons. Despite the fact that Trump's bizarre approach to diplomacy, more or less by accident, temporarily ratcheted down the tensions he had ratcheted up, he showed the world that he's a sap. If that only embarrassed the U.S., that would be one thing. Americans can take it. But the consequences could be a lot more severe if other ambitious leaders with a little more savvy decide to push the envelope.

That brings us to another low point: Trump's "summit" with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. Remember: That came on the heels of him making an utter ass of himself, first at the G8 meeting in Canada and then the NATO meeting in Europe, where he went out of his way to insult every one of America's allies and even showed up late to meet the Queen of England. It was a performance that made the Singapore pageant looks downright stately by comparison.

It was clear Trump was champing at the bit to get to his big meeting with Putin. The two leaders met in private in an unrecorded session for two hours and then emerged for a press conference in which Trump behaved as if he were the Russian president's majordomo. In one of the most memorable moments of his presidency thus far, he made it clear that he did not believe his own intelligence community was more credible than the Russian leader, even saying at one point he didn't see any reason why the Russians would have tried to sabotage his rival in the 2016 election. (He later fatuously asserted that he'd really meant to say that he didn't see why they wouldn't, which made no sense at all.)

That press conference was a turning point for a lot of people, I think. Trump's performance was so outrageously weak and sycophantic it became hard to deny that something was extremely awry in that relationship. Putin seemed very pleased, however.

All those things and many others too numerous to list are low points of 2018. In fact the whole year is a low point. But to my mind nothing is lower than the fact that Donald Trump believes that separating children, even infants, from their parents at the U.S. border -- putting the kids in cages and then losing track of hundreds of them as their parents were deported -- was a justifiable "deterrent." Trump reportedly calls their nations "shithole countries" and threatens their leaders with a cutoff of aid if they don't somehow keep their citizens from seeking refuge in the U.S. (Does he want them to build a wall to keep their people in?)

Trump has created a crisis where none existed -- illegal immigration and asylum claims are quite low by historical standards -- out of bigotry and rank political opportunism. His administration has changed the rules and procedures, forcing people to take more and more dangerous risks. And now children are dying. Two kids under age 10 have died in government custody under dubious conditions in the past month.

This is what the president of the United States had to say about that:

It is the very end of 2018. The government is shut down over Trump's demand for a wall at the border, while refugee children die in our government's custody. Our president does not show even a scintilla of empathy or take any responsibility. That's low, even for him. I hesitate to think what 2019 is going to bring.


If you value what we write here, I hope you'll consider supporting the blog with a couple of bucks. If you've already donated, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you haven't and would like to, the paypal buttons are on the sidebar and below as is the snail mail address.

Buckle up everybody. It's going to be a very bumpy New Year ...


cheers --- digby











Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405


.


 

No time left for you, 2018

by Tom Sullivan


2019 minimum wage increases by state, via National Employment Law Project/USA Today.

Yes, it's time for year-in-reviews, but there is too much to do in the year ahead to bother right now. The New York Times Editorial Board this morning summarizes what Democrats have in store beginning later this week: Reform.

"Americans are fed up with feeling that the system is rigged against them — to coin a phrase — and itching for leaders who will unrig it," the Times proclaims:

Enter H.R. 1, a comprehensive package of revisions to current political practice that House Democrats are looking to introduce in the opening weeks of the next Congress. While the details are still being hashed out, H.R. 1 will attempt to: establish nationwide automatic voter registration; promote early and online voting; end partisan gerrymandering; expand conflict-of-interest laws; increase oversight of lobbyists; require the disclosure of presidential tax returns; strengthen disclosure of campaign donations; set up a system of small-donor matching funds for congressional candidates; and revive the moribund matching-fund system for presidential campaigns. A plan for repairing the Voting Rights Act will move along a separate track.
I can see the states' rights lawsuits filed to stop Washington from preventing gerrymandering and automatic voter registration now. Except the sitting president is still named Trump and Republicans still control the U.S. Senate, as the Board acknowledges:
One reason H.R. 1 can be so big and bold is that it is mostly an expression of what Democrats would like to do rather than what has any real shot at moving through this divided government. Even staunch fans of the measure expect the Republican majority leader, Mitch McConnell, to jam it up in the Senate. The phlegmatic Mr. McConnell may not get worked up about much, but over the years he has consistently displayed a fierce passion for strangling anything resembling campaign finance reform.
Not to mention his party's general aversion to expanding access to voting. The H.R. 1 package may be more of a "medium- to longish-term legislative goal" for Democrats, but passage in a House led once again by Nancy Pelosi would be a declaration, even if it stalls in the Senate, that when it comes to "draining the swamp," Democrats are more than just talk (at least in the House). So far, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren's Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act (S.3357) has no co-sponsors.

The public may have an unprecedented, bipartisan appetite for campaign finance reform, but reform that puts more in people's stomachs will do more to reduce their appetite for white-nationalist sideshows.

Unrigging the system means people living paycheck to paycheck get someone attending to their needs, and that's happening, if slowly. Workers in over 20 states and 38 cities will see their paychecks increase with minimum wage hikes in 2019, according to the National Employment Law Project, reports USA Today:

In introducing her Accountable Capitalism Act last August, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts wrote:

There's a fundamental problem with our economy. For decades, American workers have helped create record corporate profits but have seen their wages hardly budge. To fix this problem we need to end the harmful corporate obsession with maximizing shareholder returns at all costs, which has sucked trillions of dollars away from workers and necessary long-term investments.
All well and good. Addressing political and corporate corruption could be a full-time undertaking in 2019. Somehow and against opposition, lawmakers still need to fix America's teetering health care system and make immediate and urgent progress on curbing climate change before there is no time left.




If you value what we write here, I hope you'll consider supporting the blog with a couple of bucks. If you've already donated, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you haven't and would like to, the paypal buttons are on the sidebar and below as is the snail mail address.

Buckle up everybody. It's going to be a very bumpy New Year ...


cheers --- digby











Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405


Sunday, December 30, 2018

 
Newt was worried about systematically undermining the Constitution

by digby



Once upon a time :





That was back in 1998. Today, he's singing a different tune:

"This whole thing is an absurdity. We've now had Paul Manafort and his wife in their pajamas at 3 in the morning having the FBI break down the door. Cohen, the lawyer, had the door taken off of the hinges at 6 in the morning. It ain't the rule of law when they kick in your door at 3 in the morning and you're faced with armed men. And you have had no reason to be told you're going to have that kind of treatment.

That's Stalin. That's the Gestapo in Germany. That shouldn't be the American FBI."

I'm sure you're shocked to see that Newt Gingrich is a total hypocrite and political hack. He seemed so sincere.

If you value what we write here, I hope you'll consider supporting the blog with a couple of bucks. If you've already donated, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you haven't and would like to, the paypal buttons are on the sidebar and below as is the snail mail address.

Buckle up everybody. It's going to be a very bumpy New Year ...


cheers --- digby











Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405


.
 
City Mice vs Country Mice

by digby



I don't think this is a new story. The rural and urban folks have always had a different worldview. It's true in other countries as well. Look at what's happened recently in France.

Our system of government was, unfortunately, designed to give an unfair advantage to the rural population in an age when farming was a much more common livelihood than it is today. Now, it just favors Big Ag and a minority of voters in a way that is distorting our politics:
The 2018 midterm election confirmed America’s urban-rural divide; Democrats excelled in cities, Republicans dominated in the country and the suburbs were the tiebreaker that handed Democrats the House. Will the 2020 election play out the same way? This week, we got two polls of President Trump’s approval rating that suggest it might.

First, a Selzer & Co. (one of our favorite pollsters) national poll conducted Nov. 24-27 for Grinnell College found that Trump had a 43 percent approval rating and a 45 percent disapproval rating among all adults. However, his support isn’t distributed equally across different types of communities. He’s enormously popular among residents of rural areas, with a 61 percent approval rating and a 26 percent disapproval rating. In small towns, that breakdown is 44 percent approve vs. 42 percent disapprove. But in suburban areas, only 41 percent of residents approve of the job that Trump is doing as president, while 50 percent disapprove. Trump’s approval rating is lowest among urbanites — 31 percent approve of him while 59 percent disapprove.

We saw similar geographic trends in an Investor’s Business Daily/TIPP poll that was conducted from Nov. 26 to Dec. 2. Trump again got the highest marks from residents of rural areas — a 62 percent approval rating and a 35 percent disapproval rating. And yet again, his standing took a nosedive among suburbanites and urbanites. In suburban areas, Trump’s approval rating was 32 percent, and his disapproval rating was 60 percent. In urban areas, his approval rating was 27 percent, and his disapproval rating was 67 percent. (The IBD/TIPP poll didn’t include “small town” as an option for respondents.) Overall, Trump’s approval/disapproval spread was much worse in the IBD/TIPP poll (39 percent approve, 55 percent disapprove) than it was in the Selzer poll, which explains why the IBD/TIPP poll is worse for Trump in all three geographic categories as well.



This is perhaps stating the obvious, but Trump would do well to improve his standing among suburban and urban voters before 2020. Less than 20 percent of the U.S. population lives in rural areas. Granted, not all rural voters will cast their ballot for the president, nor will all urban and suburban voters back whoever is the Democratic nominee. But elections are winner-take-all contests waged within discrete geographic areas — states or districts. According to the Congressional Density Index from CityLab, a news website covering urban issues, just 70 congressional districts are “pure rural,” and an additional 114 are a “rural-suburban mix.” CityLab is still in the process of making similar assessments for states, but David Montgomery, a journalist for CityLab, told FiveThirtyEight that 11 states could be classified as mostly rural, while an additional 17 could be classified as a mix of rural areas and suburbs. The former are worth a combined 53 electoral votes, while the latter are worth a combined 138; 270 are needed to win a presidential election.

None of this means that Trump lacks a path to electoral victory. It’s still early in the 2020 campaign; approval ratings may change, and a person’s feelings about the president aren’t the only determinant of his or her vote. But those numbers aren’t great for Republicans even if institutions like the Electoral College give disproportionate influence to rural areas. Without urban and suburban areas, they’ll find it difficult to cobble together a sustainable majority.

Why these people all worship that quintessential city boy Donald Trump --- a man who hates Southern accents and personally holds them in contempt is the big mystery. Apparently, the fact that they hate the same people is all it takes.


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Trump's favorite Feds

by digby





I'm pretty sure that Trump's tweet about the federal workers being Democrats comes from some right winger on Fox saying that they are all Public Employee union members, many of them African American. That's been one of their tropes for a very long time.

And his comment that federal workers want him to keep the government shut down until he gets his wall is probably true --- it was border patrol and ICE agents saying it. For now. They may end up wanting to be able to pay their bills more than getting that stupid wall which they know better than anyone is totally ridiculous.

And Trump found a way to at least pay some of the uniformed federal employees (the only ones for whom he shows any respect) --- the Coast Guard. I wonder if those Border patrol and ICE agents might be wondering why their hero hasn't gone to bat for them too? I mean, he's the smartest, greatest, strongest president the country has ever produced. Why can't he get them their paychecks?

Someone should ask why his big hands cannot help his favorite Feds? Why is he so impotent, so weak?


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What happens if his new toadies are as authoritarian and corrupt as he is?

by digby




John Kelly gave an exit interview to the LA Times:

Trump sometimes pressed his advisors on the limits of his authority under the law, often asking Kelly, “‘Why can’t we do it this way?’” 
But Trump never ordered him to do anything illegal, Kelly stressed, “because we wouldn’t have.” 
“If he had said to me, ‘Do it, or you’re fired,’” Kelly said he would have resigned.
Will Mick Mulvaney tell him what he wants to hear? Will Stephen Miller? Matt Whitaker? William Barr? White House counsel Pat Cippolone?

Would they quit if he ordered them to do something illegal?

I honestly don't know. What I do know is that the president is a corrupt and possibly traitorous criminal with no moral or ethical compass. So we cannot count on him not to give that order. And as he's backed into a corner more and more it's likely he will be even more inclined to do it.

I have a feeling this question is going to become very relevant in 2019.


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A New Low

by digby





Karen Tumulty in the Washington Post wrote about Trump's most disguting tweets of the week. And that's saying something:

With President Trump, there is no bottom. Every time you think you have seen it, he manages to sink even lower.

It is not news that the president is indifferent to human suffering. His limp response to the devastation of the 2017 hurricane in Puerto Rico — which he claimed to have been a “fantastic job” on the part of his administration — stands out in that regard. But on Saturday, we saw yet another level of depravity when Trump made his first comments regarding the deaths in recent days of two migrant Guatemalan children after they were apprehended by federal authorities. It revealed not only callousness but also opportunism, as he sought to turn this tragedy into a partisan advantage in his current standoff with Democrats over the government shutdown.

His statements came, not unexpectedly, over Twitter. First this:



And then, minutes later, this:



Not a word of sympathy here — much less remorse on the part of the government over the deaths of a 7-year-old girl and 8-year-old boy while in its custody. Nor does Trump address questions that are being raised about whether the administration’s new policy seeking to limit the ability of immigrants to seek asylum protection might be a factor in putting more at risk. Under recent changes, migrants must remain in Mexico as their asylum cases are processed, possibly increasing their willingness to do something reckless to come across the border.
[...]
Even if Trump were to get funding for the wall — and even if the wall were the deterrent he promises it would be, a more dubious proposition — that would be many months if not years in the future. This is an immediate crisis, for which the president seems to have no concern. Nor does Trump address the fact that what he claims are Democratic immigration policies have been in place for decades, and yet, until this month, it had been more than a decade since a child had died while in Customs and Border Protection custody.

It is true that greater numbers of vulnerable Central American children are being put into treacherous situations. My colleagues Joshua Partlow and Nick Miroff have done excellent reporting on how smugglers are gaming a dysfunctional immigration system:

This is happening because Central Americans know they will have a better chance of avoiding deportation, at least temporarily, if they are processed along with children.

The economics of the journey reinforces the decision to bring a child: Smugglers in Central America charge less than half the price if a minor is part of the cargo because less work is required of them.

Unlike single adult migrants, who would need to be guided on a dangerous march through the deserts of Texas or Arizona, smugglers deliver families only to the U.S. border crossing and the waiting arms of U.S. immigration authorities. The smuggler does not have to enter the United States and risk arrest.

The Trump administration tried to deter parents this spring when it imposed a “zero tolerance” family-separation policy at the border. But the controversy it generated and the president’s decision to halt the practice six weeks later cemented the widely held impression that parents who bring children can avoid deportation.


As Trump fulminates about the wall, he rarely brings up the idea of doing anything about the source of the problem: the desperation of people who are being driven from their native countries by poverty and violence. Until those forces are addressed, migrants will keep coming, even if it means taking greater risks to do so.

He has no empathy for anyone, and certainly not kids from shithole countries who he believes had it coming. And he does. The man is a heartless cretin.

And keep in mind that he is planning to withdraw the meager aid that we send to these countries from which these people hail because they are failing to "keep them in." He is going out of his way to make conditions there even worse for these children and their parents, making their claims for asylum impossible to obtain and blaming the Democrats and the children themselves for their own deaths.

It is a new low. But it won't be the last one.


If you value what we write here, I hope you'll consider supporting the blog with a couple of bucks. If you've already donated, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you haven't and would like to, the paypal buttons are on the sidebar and below as is the snail mail address.

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What is homo corporatus made of?

by Tom Sullivan

How we think is in ways more important than what we think. Fundamentalism, for example, is not a set of beliefs but a way of believing: rigid, dogmatic, unforgiving, especially of nonconformity. It applies not just to religious believers across faiths, but to radical political movements as well.

A New Yorker profile of Emily Martin examines her studies as a founder of the anthropology of science of the ways in which clinical psychology researchers think about the examination of thinking. Her research is a process of "observing observers observing," says colleague Paul Rainbow. Ceridwen Dovey explains her approach:

While she’s in field-work mode, Martin is always alert to what she calls these “ethnographic moments.” Even the smallest action or fragment of speech, she believes, can be a useful clue to the mostly invisible wider cultural assumptions that shape how research is done in any specialized field. She observes and collects these fragments, hoping that, later on, she’ll be able to find connections between them and make better sense of a scientific world view that is fascinatingly foreign to her.
“Anthropology allows me to see things that might be obvious but usually remain hidden, in a variety of settings, and put them into words,” Martin said, reflecting on the unspoken traumas of a childhood in the household of a father "profoundly disturbed" by his experiences in the Second World War.

One of her “ethnographic moments” captured the commercial framework used for viewing basic human biology:
At childbirth classes, Martin tentatively interviewed other pregnant women; she scoured textbooks on obstetrics and gynecology. She began to see that women giving birth “were being held to standards of production, time management, efficiency” analogous to criteria in manufacturing. The language used about menstrual discharge in textbooks was that of the “ruined debris of failure”; the post-menopausal body was described like an “outmoded factory.”
Martin's observation reinforces how much not just the language of business but its impulses frame how we perceive the world and our places in it. Look at the screen on which you read this, at the chair in which you sit, and at the walls and furnishings around you and the clothes you wear. Almost nothing not the product of a corporation. Business is not just the "elephant in the room," as Martin said of her father's behavior. Business is the room.

It is a "person" who perceives a woman's body as a factory, workers' labor as product inputs, and their very lives as "human resources" to mine.

Case in point: the Marsh Supermarkets chain. Founded in 1931, the business filed for bankruptcy after first selling off 100 convenience stores, plus pharmacies, and 115 grocery stores after auctioning off the real estate they sat on:
“It was a long, slow decline,” said Amy Gerken, formerly an assistant office manager at one of the stores. Sun Capital Partners, the private-equity firm that owned Marsh, “didn’t really know how grocery stores work. We’d joke about them being on a yacht without even knowing what a UPC code is. But they didn’t treat employees right, and since the bankruptcy, everyone is out for their blood.”

The anger arises because although the sell-off allowed Sun Capital and its investors to recover their money and then some, the company entered bankruptcy leaving unpaid more than $80 million in debts to workers’ severance and pensions.

For Sun Capital, this process of buying companies, seeking profits and leaving pensions unpaid is a familiar one. Over the past 10 years, it has taken five companies into bankruptcy while leaving behind debts of about $280 million owed to employee pensions.
One might say investors strip-mined employees' lives. I just did.

The Washington Post's Peter Whoriskey writes:
When a company fails, it is sometimes impossible to pay everyone who is owed money. The trouble, according to some critics, is that financial firms often extract money from losing bets to reward themselves and then, through bankruptcy, leave obligations to workers unpaid. Companies owned by private-equity firms have used bankruptcy to leave behind hundreds of millions of dollars in pension debts, according to a government estimate.

“These private-equity firms buy a company, plunder it of any assets, and then send it into bankruptcy without paying employees,” said Eileen Appelbaum, an economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research who studies private-equity transactions. “To anyone but a bankruptcy court, this looks like a swindle.”
Having unconsciously absorbed the mindset of the the bottom line, the balance sheet, and return on investment, we blithely dismiss how such an arrangement treats employees who have put their lives into businesses owned by absentee landlords. "It's not personal ... It's strictly business." What's decency got to do with it?

For those left with their pensions shorted and their lives upended, it is very personal. When it was Social Security taxes Pres. George W. Bush wanted to turn over to Wall Street or tax withholdings he wanted to send out in refunds, it was "your money." Except when it is negotiated pensions and benefits, it's investors'. Tough luck.

This mindset is what it means to go from being homo sapiens to homo corporatus. And because business has been so very successful at what it does, and so ubiquitous, its framing slowly becomes our own without our realizing it. This implicit bias is what Emily Martin studies in how clinical psychology researchers do their work. It seeps in the way after visiting a foreign culture we sometimes pick up a bit of the local accent.

I am reminded again of "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" from the first year of the original Star Trek. Unknown to the Enterprise crew, exobiologist Dr. Roger Korby has had his consciousness transferred into the body of a look-alike android. When the switch is revealed, "Korby" argues there is nothing essentially different about him. In fact, he has been made better:
KORBY: I'm the same! A direct transfer. All of me, human, rational, and without a flaw.

[...]

KORBY: I'm not a computer. Test me. Ask me to solve any, equate, transmit. Christine, Christine, let me prove myself. Does this make such a difference?
CHAPEL: Don't you see, Roger? Everything you've done has proved it isn't you.



If you value what we write here, I hope you'll consider supporting the blog with a couple of bucks. If you've already donated, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you haven't and would like to, the paypal buttons are on the sidebar and below as is the snail mail address.

Buckle up everybody. It's going to be a very bumpy New Year ...


cheers --- digby











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Saturday, December 29, 2018

 
Saturday Night at the Movies

If you really must pry: Top 10 films of 2018

By Dennis Hartley




As 2018 closes, it’s time to share my picks for the top 10 feature films out of the 50 or so I reviewed this year. As per usual my list is presented alphabetically, not in ranking order.



Big Sonia
– There is a scene in Leah Warshawski and Todd Soliday’s documentary where you witness something just short of a miracle: a group of junior high students sitting in wide-eyed attentiveness; clearly riveted by a personal story emitting not from a cell phone or a laptop, but rather from a diminutive octogenarian woman. By the end of the talk, many of the students are brought to tears (as is the viewer). But this is no pity party; in fact, many of them now seem genuinely inspired to go make a difference in the world. Her name is Sonia, and her story is much larger and more impactful than her 4 foot, 8-inch frame might suggest. You think you’ve had problems in your life? Let me put it this way…I’ll be thinking twice before I kvetch about my “issues” from here on in. (Full review).

Black KkKlansman – So what do you get if you cross Cyrano de Bergerac with Blazing Saddles? You might get Spike Lee’s Black KkKlansman. That is not to say that Lee’s film is a knee-slapping comedy; far from it. Lee takes the true story of Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), an African-American undercover cop who managed to infiltrate the KKK in Colorado in the early 70s and runs with it, in his inimitable fashion. I think this is Lee’s most affecting and hard-hitting film since Do the Right Thing (1989). The screenplay (adapted by Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott and Lee from Stallworth’s eponymous memoir) is equal parts biopic, docudrama, police procedural and social commentary, finding a nice balance of drama, humor and suspense. (Full review).

Fahrenheit 11/9 – Let’s dispense with this first. Yes, Michael Moore goes “there” in his latest documentary Fahrenheit 11/9…at one point in the film, he deigns to compare Trump’s America to Nazi Germany. However, he’s not engaging in merit-less trolling. Following a brief (and painful to relive) recap of what “happened” on 11/9/16, Moore’s film accordingly speeds off in multiple directions As he has always managed to do in the past, he connects the dots and pulls it together by the end. In a nutshell, Moore’s central thesis is that Trump is a symptom, not the cause. And the “cause” here is complacency-which Moore equates with complicity. If you’re a Moore fan, you won’t be disappointed (though you may be a bit depressed). If you’re a Moore hater, you won’t be disappointed. (Full review).

The Guilty –Considering that nearly all of the “action” in Gustav Möller’s low-budget gem is limited to the confines of a police station and largely dependent on a leading man who must find 101 interesting ways to emote while yakking on a phone for 80 minutes, Möller and his star Jakob Cedergren perform nothing short of a minor miracle turning this scenario into anything but another dull night at the movies. Packed with nail-biting tension, Rashomon-style twists, and completely bereft of explosions, CGI effects or elaborate stunts, this terrific thriller renews your faith in the power of a story well-told. (Full review).

Let the Sunshine In – The best actors are…nothing; a blank canvas. But give them a character and some proper lighting-and they’ll give back something that becomes part of us, and does us good: a reflection of our own shared humanity. Nature that looks like nature. Consider Julilette Binoche, an actor of such subtlety and depth that she could infuse a cold reading of McDonald’s $1 $2 $3 menu with the existential ennui of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 123. She isn’t required to recite any sonnets in this film (co-written by director Claire Denis and Christine Angot), but her character speaks copiously about love…in all of its guises. And you may think you know how this tale of a divorcee on the rebound will play out, but Denis’ film, like love itself, is at once seductive and flighty. (Full review).

Little Tito and the Aliens – I avoid using phrases like “heartwarming family dramedy”, but in the case of Paola Randi’s, erm, heartwarming family dramedy…it can’t be helped. An eccentric Italian scientist, a widower living alone in a shipping container near Area 51 (long story), suddenly finds himself guardian to his teenage niece and young nephew after his brother dies. Blending family melodrama with a touch of magical realism, it’s a sweet and gentle tale about second chances-and following your bliss. (Full review).

Outside In – The rain-washed town of Granite Falls, Washington (population 3400) is a palpable character in Lynn Shelton’s drama about a newly-released felon named Chris (Jay Duplass) struggling to keep heart and soul together after serving 20 years for a wrongful conviction. Only 18 when he got sent up, he has a textbook case of arrested development to overcome. Complicating his re-entry into society is his long-time platonic relationship with the only person who gave him moral support over the years. Her name is Carol (Edie Falco), his high school teacher. Shelton has a knack for creating characters that you really care about, helped in no small part here by Falco, who can say more with a glance, a furrow of the brow, or a purse of the lips than many actors convey with a page of dialog. Duplass (who co-scripted) also delivers a sensitive and nuanced performance. (Full review).

Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda – There’s a moment of Zen in Stephen Nomura Schible’s documentary where Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, after much experimentation with “found” sounds, finally gets the “perfect” tonality for one note of a work in progress. “It’s strangely bright,” he observes, with the delighted face of a child on Christmas morning, “but also…melancholic.” One could say the same about Schible’s film; it’s strangely bright, but also melancholic. You could call it a series of Zen moments; a reflective and meditative glimpse at the intimate workings of the creative process. It also documents Sakamoto’s quiet fortitude, as he returns to the studio after a hiatus to engage in anti-nuke activism and to battle his cancer. A truly remarkable film. (Full review).

Wild, Wild Country – On one level, co-directors Chapman and Maclain Way’s binge-worthy Netflix documentary series is a two-character study about a leader and a follower; namely the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, and his head disciple/chief of staff/lieutenant Ma Anand Sheela. In this case, the one-on-one relationship is not a metaphor; because the India-born philosophy professor-turned-guru did (and still does) have scores of faithful followers from all over the world. This tale is so multi-layered crazy pants as to boggle the mind. It’s like Dostoevsky meets Carl Hiaasen by way of Thomas McGuane and Ken Kesey…except none of it is made up. It’s almost shocking that no one thought to tackle this juicy subject as fodder for an epic documentary until now (eat your genteel heart out, Ken Burns). The Ways mix in present-day recollections from various participants with a wealth of archival news footage. Oddly, with its proliferation of jumpy videotape, big hair and skinny ties, the series serves double duty as a wistful wallow in 1980s nostalgia. (Full review).

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? – In his affable portrait of the publicly sweet, gentle, and compassionate TV host Fred Rogers, director Morgan Neville serves up a mélange of archival footage and present-day comments by friends, family, and colleagues to reveal (wait for it) a privately sweet, gentle, compassionate man. In other words, don’t expect revelations about drunken rages, aberrant behavior, or rap sheets (sorry to disappoint anyone who feels life’s greatest pleasure is speaking ill of the dead). That is not to deny that Rogers did have a few…eccentricities; some are mentioned, and others are implied. The bulk of the film focuses on the long-running PBS children’s show, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, which debuted in 1968. With apologies to Howard Beale, I don’t have to tell you things are bad. I think this documentary may be what the doctor ordered, just as a reminder people like Fred Rogers once strode the Earth (and hopefully still do). I wasn’t one of your kids, Mr. Rogers, but (pardon my French) we sure as shit could use you now. (Full review).

Happy New Year!


Previous posts with related themes:

Top 10 Films of 2017
Top 100 Films of 2007-2016


More reviews at Den of Cinema
On Facebook
On Twitter



--Dennis Hartley


If you value what we write here, I hope you'll consider supporting the blog with a couple of bucks. If you've already donated, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you haven't and would like to, the paypal buttons are on the sidebar and below as is the snail mail address.

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cheers --- digby











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He doesn't follow the rules because he's smart

by digby




There was a time when people's political careers were ruined when news like this was revealed:

New Jersey prosecutors have collected evidence that supervisors at President Trump’s Garden State golf club may have committed federal immigration crimes — and the FBI as well as special counsel Robert Mueller have played part in the inquiry, the Daily News has learned.

Anibal Romero, a Newark attorney who represents several undocumented immigrants who used to work at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, said Friday he recently met with investigators from the state attorney general’s office and handed over fraudulent green cards and Social Security numbers that management at the club allegedly procured and gave his clients, Victorina Morales and Sandra Diaz.

Before he met with the state prosecutors, Romero said he reached out to Mueller’s office because, while he wanted to contact federal authorities, he was concerned about looping in the Justice Department, which was headed by Jeff Sessions at the time.

“I wasn’t sure, one, if they’d take me seriously and, two, if this could backfire on my clients,” Romero told The News, referencing the Trump administration’s aggressive immigration agenda.

Mueller’s office, which is separately investigating Trump’s campaign for possible collusion with Russians during the 2016 election, made contact and informed Romero the matter was not within their jurisdiction.

A few weeks later, an FBI agent in New Jersey called Romero.

“He said to me that he had received a referral from Robert Mueller’s office and that he already knew the specifics and that he wanted to meet with me in person,” Romero said.

Romero then met with two agents at a federal office in Branchburg, N.J., and outlined the same evidence he had already given the AG prosecutors. The agents said they would “coordinate” with the AG’s office, according to Romero.

Romero said he’s stayed in touch with the FBI and the attorney general’s office but declined to confirm whether either of the agencies have formally opened investigations.

“I’m confident that federal and state authorities will conduct a complete and thorough investigation,” Romero said.

Trump has a very long history of employing undocumented workers. Trump Tower was built by them and Trump paid a million dollars to settle one lawsuit:
In 1980, under pressure to begin construction on what would become his signature project, Donald J. Trump employed a crew of 200 undocumented Polish workers who worked in 12-hour shifts, without gloves, hard hats or masks, to demolish the Bonwit Teller building on Fifth Avenue, where the 58-story, golden-hued Trump Tower now stands.

The workers were paid as little as $4 an hour for their dangerous labor, less than half the union wage, if they got paid at all.

Their treatment led to years of litigation over Mr. Trump’s labor practices, and in 1998, despite frequent claims that he never settles lawsuits, Mr. Trump quietly reached an agreement to end a class-action suit over the Bonwit Teller demolition in which he was a defendant.

For almost 20 years, the terms of that settlement have remained a secret. But last week, the settlement documents were unsealed by Loretta A. Preska, a United States District Court judge for the Southern District, in response to a 2016 motion filed by Time Inc. and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Judge Preska found that the public’s right to know of court proceedings in a class-action case was strengthened by the involvement of the “now-president of the United States.”

In a 21-page finding, Judge Preska wrote that “the Trump Parties have failed to identify any interests that can overcome the common law and First Amendment presumptions of access to the four documents at issue.”

On the campaign trail and as president, Mr. Trump has made curbing immigration one of his top priorities, seeking to close the borders to people from certain Muslim-majority countries and to deport immigrants who are here illegally. The settlement serves as a reminder that as an employer he relied on illegal immigrants to get a dangerous and dirty job done.

Katie Townsend, litigation director of the Reporters Committee, called the decision a major victory that goes beyond this one case. “It makes clear that both the First Amendment and common law rights of public access apply to settlement-related documents in class actions,” she said.

Lawyers for Mr. Trump were not immediately available for comment.

The documents show that Mr. Trump paid a total of $1.375 million to settle the case, known as Hardy v. Kaszycki, with $500,000 of it going to a union benefits fund and the rest to pay lawyers’ fees and expenses. According to the documents, one of the union lawyers involved asked the judge to ensure “prompt payment” from Mr. Trump, suggesting “within two weeks after the settlement date.”

Mr. Trump jumped in to object. “Thirty days is normal,” he said.

At the time of the settlement, the court papers note, “this case has been litigated for 15 years and has already required three rounds of discovery, extensive motion practice, a 16-day trial and two appeals.”

He employs undocumented workers and foreign workers on visas at all of his properties. I suspect if anyone ever really =grilled him on that he'd says it's because he's a very stable genius who hires the cheapest labor he can --- and that his followers would all nod their heads and agree that makes good sense.

And then they'd all chant "build that wall" and cheer the horror of little children being held in cages as a good "deterrent."

If you value what we write here, I hope you'll consider supporting the blog with a couple of bucks. If you've already donated, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you haven't and would like to, the paypal buttons are on the sidebar and below as is the snail mail address.

Buckle up everybody. It's going to be a very bumpy New Year ...


cheers --- digby











Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405


.