Why Senator Collins Should Vote Against the GOP Tax Plan

In exchange for her surprising expected vote in favour of the Republican Party tax bill, Senator Collins received commitments from both the Trump Administration and Senate leaders to back two separate bills to fund Obamacare.

Collins has nothing to gain from such a deal and everything to lose.  She should vote against the GOP measure, for the following reasons:

  1. The so-called “commitment” received from the Senate leadership is worthless.  Even if the Senate leadership is faithful to the commitment, it only means that the leadership will try to have its members pass the bills Collins wants passed – there is no guarantee.  Collins need look no further than her own refusal to back the Senate leadership’s efforts to repeal Obamacare, killing the bill despite Senate leadership’s efforts to the contrary.
  2. The so-called “commitment” received from the Trump Administration is less than worthless.  Trump is notoriously mercurial, often changing his mind on a whim, and almost certainly suffering from impulse control.  Of even more concern, Trump has made a lifetime of sacrificing his friends, betraying “commitments” he made to many.  He even threw his allies in the House under the bus after they voted in favour of his favourite pet project: destroying Obamacare! (More on that, later.)  Why would Senator Collins put any stock into a “commitment” from Trump?
  3. Speaking of, hasn’t Senator Collins been paying attention?  Nothing animates Trump more than his hatred for Barack Obama, and nothing is more important to Trump in erasing his predecessor’s legacy than the dismantling of Obamacare.  So, does Senator Collins realistically think that Trump will actually honour his “commitment” to help shore up Obamacare, the very thing he has dedicated his first year in office trying to destroy?
  4. Even if the commitments Senator Collins has received from the Senate leadership and the Trump administration are genuine, and even if both really do try to help Senator Collins shore up Obamacare (despite efforts by both the Senate leadership and Trump administration throughout the year to do the exact opposite), both pieces of legislation championed by Senator Collins would have to pass the Republican Party controlled House – and, that is never going to happen because the House skews far more to the right than the Senate and the Freedom Caucus (the one group that may hate Obama and Obamacare just as much as Trump and Senator majority leader McConnell) would never allow either bill to pass the House.
  5. Let’s also not forget the fact that politics is a dirty sport.  Senator Collins national profile rose considerably during the Obamacare repeal effort when she resisted her own party and voted in line with her constituents wishes.  There are plenty of politicians in Washington that will want to cut Senator Collins back down to size, and this would be the perfect opportunity: manipulate Senator Collins to vote against her constituents’ wishes, in line with the Party, and then leave her all alone in the cold by not passing the two bills she bartered away her votes for in the first place.
  6. Let’s be clear.  The majority of Americans oppose the GOP tax bill.  Only 22% of the people of Maine support the the GOP tax bill (less than the national figure, interestingly).  In a perfect world, Senator Collins would feel obliged to vote in line with the majority of her constituents.  But, even in an imperfect world, Senator Collins will end up expending significant political capital merely to vote against the wishes of her own constituents without anything of significance (see above) in return.
  7. Most importantly, though, is that the Republican Party doesn’t need her vote!  With Senator McCain convalescing in Arizona, the Republican Party still has 51 senators versus 48 senators – even if Senator Collins voted against the measure it would still pass 50-49, and Senator Collins would preserve her political clout.  Although his office has promised he would return for the tax vote, even if Senator Thad Cochran were to miss the vote for some reason, Senator Collins could still vote against the measure to preserve her political clout while ensuring its ultimate passage because Vice President Pence has skipped his planned Mideast trip to stay in Washington for the GOP tax vote allowing him to cast the deciding tie-breaking vote in favour of the bill: 50(+1)-50.

In the final analysis, Senator Collins gets absolutely nothing for voting in favour of the GOP tax plan that will pass without her support anyways.

In fact, she will get less than nothing – the damage to her political clout (dropping her from ‘atop the pack’ to ‘just another politician’) will be staggering in the current political climate.

But, if Senator Collins votes against the measure, she will maintain her political clout (if not increase it to emerge as an influential “swing vote“,  entrenching her as an independent centre of power within Washington) while still letting the bill pass into law.

For these reasons, Senator Collins should vote against the GOP tax plan.

Why Senator Corker Should Vote Against The GOP Tax Bill

The Republican Party tax bill threatens to destroy Senator Corker’s legacy, and flip the Senate to the Democrats.

Until recently, Senator Corker had garnered (rare) widespread bipartisan praise for standing up to Trump and bucking his own party leadership by originally voting against the Senate version of the GOP tax bill because it will explode the U.S. national debt by over an additional $1 trillion, contrary to every principle that Senator Corker (and every conservative in the pre-Trump era) holds dear.

Principle over Party.

Senator Corker was still a “noas of last week, maintaining his principle that he would not vote in favour of a tax bill that would add a single penny to the deficit.

Well, until recently.

Seemingly miraculously, Senator Corker switched his vote to a “yesafter a provision was added to the bill that would personally enrich Senator Corker (and Trump), despite the fact that the bill will still add over 100 trillion “pennies” to the U.S. national debt.

In fact, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn specifically stated that the aforementioned provision was added to the GOP Tax Bill to “cobble together [the] votes” necessary to pass the measure – remember, the only Republican Senator who had voted “no” was Senator Corker.

That looks bad.  Really, really bad.

In fact, #CorkerKickback has been trending on social media as citizen outrage continues to grow over such a seemingly blatant demonstration of corruption as Senator Corker’s flip-flop on the GOP Tax Bill.  So much so, that Senator Corker has had to defend himself by claiming he switched his intention to “yes” before actually having read the full text of the GOP Tax Bill.

That’s an odd defence – essentially, Senator Corker feels his only recourse his to admit to negligence (that he failed to do his job as an elected official).

Needless to say, most citizens will find Senator Corker’s explanation wanting, leaving him as the ‘poster-boy’ image of modern-day political corruption.

Unless he votes “no“.

This is why Senator Corker should immediately declare that after having had an opportunity to review the full text of the GOP Tax Bill, he will vote against it:

  1. Senator Corker may be retiring, but even retired politicians care about their legacy.  Perhaps even more so than active politicians.  After all, Senator Corker’s legacy is all he will leave with when he does retire.  Up until this weekend, his legacy would have been that he had put his principles and his country above his party.  Not a bad legacy to have, in this polarizing age of partisanship.  As of today, his legacy will be of the ‘poster-boy’ of modern-day political corruption.  Even a retiring politician would never choose the latter.
  2. He may be retiring, but he’s not dead.  Not only do many politicians ‘unretire’ (a door that Senator Corker would forever foreclose if he retires after voting for the GOP Tax Bill that enriches himself personally), but as with most individuals of Senator Corker’s passions and ambitions, he is expected to continue to be active, whether in business or in the community, or both.  Again, leaving with a legacy of such blatant corruption would undo any post-retirement plans he may have otherwise had for continuing to be engaged.  Simply put, he’ll be toxic for the remainder of his life.
  3. A clear plurality of Tennessean voters are opposed to the GOP Tax Bill.  By voting against the measure, Senator Corker can loudly and publicly claim that he voted in line with the wishes of his constituents’ wishes, once again reclaiming the moral high ground (and, incidentally, setting himself up as one of the leading post-Trump voices in the conservative movement).
  4. Senator Corker’s vote in favour of the GOP Tax Bill would inevitably embolden the Democratic base in Tennessee, further endangering an open Senate seat that the Democrats are already eyeing to flip the Senate in 2018.  Popular two-term former governor Phil Bredesen has already announced his candidacy for Senator Corker’s upcoming open seat – if Senator Corker saddles the Republican candidate for the open Tennesee Senate seat in 2018 with his vote in favour of the unpopular GOP Tax Bill, Senator Corker’s ultimate legacy may end up being flipping the Senate to the Democrats in 2018.
  5. But, most importantly, the Republican Party doesn’t need Senator Corker’s vote!  With Senator McCain home in Arizona, the Republican Party still has an extra Senate vote it can afford to lose – even if Senator Corker votes “no“, the measure will pass 50-49.  (In fact, up to 3 GOP Senators could simply abstain and the measure would still pass 48(+1)-48 with a Vice President Pence tie-breaking vote, the very reason he skipped out on his Mideast visit to stay in Washington.)

For these reasons, Senator Corker should vote against the GOP Tax Bill.

 

Why The Democrats Must Go On The Offensive On The Mueller Investigation Immediately!

Thus far, perhaps in order to avoid the perception that the Mueller investigation has become politicized, the Democratic Party has generally refrained from getting involved, preferring instead to allow the investigation to continue without (perceived) political ‘interference’.

However, not only are those days now over, but Democratic reticence has already allowed the Republicans to monopolize the political narrative and threatens to allow Trump to end the Special Counsel’s investigation before it snares a member of the Trump family.

In apparent coordination with the White House, the Republican Party has already begun interfering directly with the Mueller investigation by trying to shut it down, or at least force its staff out over claims of conflict of interest.

Trump’s surrogates outside of Washington have also joined in on the offensive against the Mueller, led by Trump’s propaganda arm at Fox News calling for the Mueller team to be jailed – an ironic update on the lock her up” chant made famous by General Flynn, the most infamous criminal convicted by the Mueller team thus far.

Having set the stage, it appears Trump is preparing to terminate the Special Counsel’s investigation by the end of the week.

In this context, then, the Democrats have no option but to enter the field and go on an immediate offensive on behalf of Mueller:

  1. The Democrats must immediately shift the narrative by alleging Trump’s acknowledgement of incriminating emails now the in possession of the Mueller team – the very emails that Trump’s lawyers are now (wrongly) complaining Mueller obtained improperly.  If the emails are not incriminating, then why is Trump so bothered?  If they are incriminating (and, this is what the Democrats must convince the American people of), then Trump’s termination of the Mueller investigation would be the most egregious act of obstruction of justice in the history of the United States of America (even worse than Watergate).  The Democrats must start their media blitz on the Sunday morning talk shows.
  2. The Democrats ought to release a unanimous position statement that terminating the Mueller investigation would be an impeachable offense.  Preferably, the Democrats would (at least try to) obtain some Republican co-signatories.  But, even if no Republican signs on to the position statement, it would change the narrative and force the Republicans on the defence to explain exactly why Trump terminating the Mueller investigation into Trump would not be an impeachable offense (particularly those Republicans that have already suggested the same).
  3. The Democrats must counter Trump’s (and the Republican Party’s and Trump’s allies’) non-stop repetitions alleging that the Mueller investigation has failed to uncover any collusion by continuously and unitedly repeating the mantra ad nauseum that the Mueller investigation has succeeded in convicting members of the Trump campaign and White House for lying about their contacts with the Russians – otherwise known colloquially as “collusion“.

By going on the offensive now, the Democrats can neutralize the Republican interference in the Mueller investigation, immediately shift the narrative towards impeachment, and put the White House on the defensive by forcing Trump to disavow any plans to terminate the Mueller investigation (thereby costing Trump any remaining political capital he may have left if he does backtrack on his forced assurance of impartial neutrality).

Additionally, if the Democrats are successful in shifting the narrative and Trump does attempt to terminate the Mueller investigation, the Democrats can enter the 2018 midterms with an opportunity to play offense in every single electoral seat by forcing Republicans to try and defend Trump’s obvious obstruction of justice.

This would allow the Democrats to nationalize every open seat in the 2018 midterms running against the most unpopular first-year president in history – an unpopularity that will almost assuredly spike if/when Trump attempts to terminate the Mueller investigation.

That’s why the Democrats must go on the offensive on the Mueller investigation immediately!

Why The Anti-Trump Movement Should Take Over Star Wars Opening Weekend

It just seems too perfect of a metaphor.

A Republic toppled from within by an evil dictatorship that demands loyalty, outlaws dissent, fetishizes conformity and idolizes power, challenged by a ragtag, multicultural, diverse group of rebellious idealists calling themselves the Resistance.

Wait. What?

That is not only the basic plot premise of the Star Wars cinematic universe, but also (just about) precisely the world view of the Anti-Trump movement.

The fact that both of these story arcs (one fictional and the other, painfully, non-fictional) are converging in roughly 24 hours, is too good of an opportunity to miss!

The Anti-Trump movement must capitalize on this remarkable cultural coincidence by co-opting the new Star Wars movie release as their own by having a ‘Resistance Party Weekend’.

Picture it:

Scores and scores of Anti-Trump Americans joining up (called to action via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms) to go see the Star Wars movie together, as members of the Resistance.  Some wearing Anti-Trump garments or paraphernalia.  Others carrying Anti-Trump signs.  Everyone posting their Anti-Trump unity on social media – with the appropriate hashtags, of course.

Everyone!

Let’s face it, just about every Anti-Trump American is going to go see the movie anyways.  The movie itself may very well break box office records.  Wouldn’t you want to attach your movement to such a phenomenon?

And, what more perfect time than now to do it – just days after Doug Jones pulled off a stunning upset against Trump and helped to galvanize the Anti-Trump movement.

Why not continue the party?  At the movies!

(Naturally.)

Smiling, laughing faces on social media joining together, with neighbours, friends, and complete strangers as part of a weekend celebration of beating Trump will help create a self-sustaining momentum of its own.

And, how effective will the pictures/videos of such large numbers of Anti-Trump Americans be in continuing to energize the Anti-Trump movement?

Oh, yes, if this particular Star Wars trilogy (which more closely resembles the original George Lucas’ story arc masterpiece) holds true, the second part of the trilogy may very well be a (temporary) victory for the Evil Empire.

But, so what?

In the end, everyone knows (even Trump), the Resistance always wins.

Always!

That’s why  The Anti-Trump movement should take over Star Wars opening weekend and appropriate this American cultural phenomenon as part of their own fight to ultimate victory.

Why The Palestinians Should ‘Hint’ at 3rd Intifada to Trump

In response to recent reports emerging that the Trump administration will recognise Jerusalem as the “undivided capital of Israeltomorrow, the Palestinian leadership should ‘hint’ that such a move will result in the Third Intifada.

In discussing such an escalation, the Palestinians should focus on three talking points:

  1. Trump’s recent retweet of an anti-Muslim by a far-right anti-Muslim fringe group has inflamed anti-American passions amongst the Muslim Palestinian community (not to mention amongst the larger Muslim Arab community in the Middle East), proving that, in the eyes of the Palestinians, Trump is personally biased against them.
  2. Recent reports that Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and Trump’s Middle East peace enjoy, concealed his position as director of a foundation that funded Israeli settlements considered illegal under international law – even while he was attempting to influence foreign nations to vote against an anti-Israeli settlement resolution at the United Nationsin violation of the Logan Act – prove that, in the eyes of the Palestinians, the Trump family has been deceiving the Palestinians vis-a-vis American commitment (at least under the current administration) to being an honest broker in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
  3. The Palestinians would consider Trump’s announcement of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital a betrayal of American commitments to the Palestinians – particularly to the moderate Palestinians that have thus far tried to keep their people committed to continuing dialogue towards an ‘always-just-around-the-corner-but-never-actually-materialising‘ peace deal – and proof that the peace process is merely a Trojan Horse meant to force the Palestinian leadership to contain the Palestinian people all the while the Israelis (with American assistance/complicity) exploit the situation to create ‘facts-on-the-ground’.

(Ironically, it was Israel’s attempt to create such ‘facts-on-the-ground‘ that caused the Second Intifada.)

In making their pitch, the Palestinians must impress upon the Trump administration that the Third Intifada will be outside of its control because of the passions the Trump family’s apparent anti-Palestinian bias has unleashed, and the extremely emotionally charged issue of Jerusalem.

In fact, if possible (depending upon the progress of negotiations between the PLO and Hamas), the PLO leadership may consider coordinating fiery press release statements from Hamas ‘threatening’ a response to any such move by the Trump administration.

Both Hamas and the PLO will benefit from the release of such statements: Hamas will benefit by continuing to portray itself to the Palestinians as the only reliable faction willing to stand up to the Israelis and their ally the Americans; the PLO will benefit because it can point to itself as the only faction that can prevent Hamas from plunging the area into another violent Intifada (which the PLO will only be able to do if the Trump administration pulls back from its plan of declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, naturally).

If the Palestinians are able to convince the Trump administration not to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the Palestinian negotiation position is strengthened.

On the other hand, even if the Palestinians are unable to convince the Trump administration not to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, then any (almost certain) protests that emerge throughout the Palestinian territories (and, perhaps, beyond), will be a bargaining chip the Palestinians can utilise in the next round of negotiations (ie. the Palestinians can demand certain concessions in exchange for containing the protests).

Either result benefits the Palestinian negotiating position and forces a ‘jump start’ of a process that has ground to a halt.

That’s why the Palestinians should ‘hint’ at a 3rd Intifada to Trump.