Sunday, April 21, 2019

Joseph "Murfster35" Murphy

Joseph "Murfster35" Murphy is a lifelong liberal political junkie. Being born and raised in Chicago, he is no stranger to bare-knuckle politics. He spent 20 years working for United Airlines, and another 9 as a fraud prevention expert for a large online retailer. He is the author of President Evil: The rise of Trump in the 2016 primaries and its sequel President Evil II: A Clodwork Orange. Murfster35 is a top recommended writer on the blog Daily Kos.

Two similar primaries. Polar opposite results. (Part I)

Trust me on this one, I know of which I speak. On that sunny June day in 2015, when The Grate Pumpkin clanked and wheezed his way down that schlock gilt elevator in Trump Tower,to the tepid applause of paid minions, and thrilled the racists and bed wetters of the far right, I donned my most wrinkled earnest journalist shirt, grabbed my laptop, hopped into Bennie The Cab, and careened down to Toontown to cover the GOP primaries.Those daily dispatches from the insanity front formed the genesis of my President Evil book trilogy. On the surface there are several striking similarities between the GOP primary field of 2016, and the current Democratic crop in 2020, especially at this early stage. In 2016, the GOP fielded 17 candidates right out o the chute to challenge for the Presidency, in 2020, the Democrats will at least match, if not surpass that number. In 2016, Barack Obama was finishing up his second term, and was loathed by the GOP base the way a 5 year old hates Brussels sprouts. In 2020, The Democrats are licking their chops over a first term President with historic lows in popularity, and a polarizing figure with terrible policies, but a cult like following. And in both 2014 and 2018, the President’s party had a midterm that spelled trouble for the future. But there the similarities end, and the exact, total, polar opposites begin. In 2016. GOP strategists gushed over their field with phrases like “The Dream Team (Moronic, since every candidate was a team of one), and “The deepest bench in history (True, if you’re coaching a tee ball team in the first game of the preseason). But lets look t the Opening Day lineup, shall we? Fourteen lily white, tried and true, political male hacks, a novelty wing nut African American, and an obligatory 2016 white woman who ran Hewlett Packard into the ground. Oh yeah, and a baggy pants comic that was a repulsive mix between Groucho Marx and Andrew Dice Clay. I haven’t seen a bench that deep since the softball scene in Ernest Goes To Camp. Already, at this early stage, the Democrats have 4 women candidates (I don’t count the phantom candidacy of Tulsi Gabbard), two African Americans, including a female, a Hispanic former Obama cabinet head, and an openly gay man. We have two septuagenarian, white haired, male candidates for those who prefer the grandfatherly Presidential figure. In baseball, you can’t stock your bench with sluggers, you need utility infielders, singles hitters, and pinch runners too. The Democratic 2020 bench is stocked like the New York Yankees of the glory days. In 2016, not only was diversity in the candidates lacking, diversity in messaging was almost non existent. For several years, the base of the Republican party had been growing steadily older, whiter, more evangelical, more racist, and more fearful of change. A modern, diverse message was not only unwelcome, it was shunned. Here I can speak from personal experience. Us creaky old farts don’t much like newfangled ideas shouted out to us over a microphone, it sounds too much like that rap music crap. And so the candidates in 2016 on the GOP side were reduced to earnestly promoting the same tired, old message, desperately trying to find the magic […]

Sadly, I think Lawrence O’Donnell finally missed one.

In one sense, it’s actually a pretty good thing that I’m practically a “shut in.” Every night, from 6-8 pm PDT, my dance card is full. From 6-7 it’s the national treasure that is Rachel Maddow, and from 7-8, it’s Lawrence O’Donnell, the only one in cable news that can run neck to neck. If for some reason I’m out, mandatory curfew is 9 pm to catch the reruns… On  a segment last night, Lawrence went into graphic detail of the increasing peril that both Treasury Secretary Steve Munchkin Mnuchin, as well as IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, are facing in defying Chairman Richie Neal’s written demand for Trump’s tax returns. Assisting Lawrence was income tax savant David Cay Johnson, who had found an even more obscure part of the tax code that called for the immediate dismissal or discharge of any government employee who interfered with the application of the tax code. This code section included possible conviction and up to a 5 year stay at the Crossbar Hilton. Absolutely nothing either O’Donnell or Johnson said last night was wrong. As far as I can tell, no one was misquoted, and the pertinent parts of the tax code were read verbatim for the audience to soak up. Where I feel that Lawrence O’Donnell slipped up was either an error of omission, or a simple miscalculation. Here’s why. Even if all of those things are true and applicable, and I have no reason to doubt that they are, there is still one practical roadblock. Of the many tools and powers that congress holds, especially committee chairmen and women, prosecutorial discretion is not one of them. If Donnie Redux lied to a committee, the committee can’t charge and try him for perjury, they have to refer him to the DOJ for criminal prosecution. Even if Neal passes a motion of contempt of congress charges against Mnuchin and Rettig, and it passes the House, Capitol Hill police can’t just wander on over to the Treasury Department and perp walk Mnuchin out the front doors, no matter how much the media and the general public may love it. Everything has to go through the DOJ. And anybody who thinks that that Trombie Ewok in tortoise shell glasses is going to lift a finger to expedite the release of Glorious Bleaters tax returns mat want to look at getting a little counseling. So, for whatever reason, I think that Lawrence’s assertion that there was a serious possibility of any of these things actually happening was off the mark, it did make for sweet dreams. And while I continue to lie prostate at the feet of the all knowing Lawrence O’Donnell, just this once I couldn’t resist looking up and pointing out the fact that I think he has some spinach caught between his teeth. Follow me on Twitter at @RealMurfster35

The Government CAN’T Help Us If Congress Won’t LET It.

It’s an unfortunate fact of life, at one time or another most Americans need the assistance of the government. Even a walking diaper stain as allegedly rich and powerful as The Pampers President needs government support to get anything done, especially in his current job. The worst part of it is, that to obtain government assistance means dealing directly with the necessary government agency. The prospect of having to deal with Uncle Sam tends to lead to a strong yearning for the return of the days of no Novacaine root canal for most people. Fortunately, my interactions with the behemoth that is known as the US government has been limited, and mostly positive. Back in November, I needed assistance from the Goliath Social Security Administration in putting in a claim for Disability Insurance for my new best friend, blindness. In all three cases, two on the phone and one in person, I found every one of them pleasant, courteous, helpful, and as compassionate as any Samaritan you could meet under difficult circumstances. Maybe the fact that I treated them as human beings and not enemies had something to do with it, but I don’t think so. They honestly wanted to help. The clai is currently processing. But no single department of the sprawling sub continent that is the bureaucracy of government causes more night terrors than the dreaded Internal Revenue Service. The mere thought of having to deal with these revenue leaches immediately turns the individual taxpayer into the albino monk from the DaVinci Code, preferring to strip down and flog him or herself with a saltwater knotted hemp rope than pick up the phone and dial. But here’s the funny thing. The people of the IRS, especially the ones you deal with personally, are not Orcs from the Lord of the Rings. They honestly want to help, but there’s one thing. They have to follow the rules. And who writes those rules? The Congress of the United States. Our duly elected representatives write the tax laws, and the IRS enforces them. And there are no exceptions, freebies, or friends discounts, under penalty of law. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t want to help. Here’s a perfect example. Right now, the IRS is developing a free tax software program for all US taxpayers to use if they so desire. The program would auto populate all applicable parts of the form where the IRS already has the tax info, and would ask probing questions to determine any lesser known, or arcane loopholes and benefits that the taxpayer may qualify for. The best part is that the software would automatically be upgraded with any future changes to the tax laws, so taxpayers would not have to worry about using an obsolete program, The US Senate has a competing bill in the draft stages that would compete with the House bill,, but wold contain similar language barring the IRS from sticking their big, fat, IRS noses into personal tax preparation matters. So, who’s that pissing in the punch bowl? Why, none other than the US Congress, of courses!  In a maliciously deceptively named, bipartisan Taxpayer First Act, recently passed by the House, it specifically forbids the IRS to develop and make avail for distribution and use, their new taxpayer software. Why in the world would they do such a thing to thumb […]

The Trump Clan Goes Hollywood!

I’m not just some hack you know. A couple of interviews n a radio program gave me an entre to the entertainment industry, and I’m going to use it. Through a few well placed sources I’ve learned that no matter how much Hollywood may hate Trump, they’re not going to turn their backs on a cash cow. So, here are a few soon to be released cinematic endeavors you’ll be sssing soon A Hollywood Blockbuster Sci-Fi Flick A Chilling Modern Horror Movie A Family Classic Updated A Legal Thriller Even A New TV Sitcom I don’t know about you, but I’m going to update my Fandango app for immediate alerts on this stuff. See ya at the movies! Follow me on Twitter at @RealMurfster35
CNN / YouTube Meet Trump  s Supreme Court...

Where The Judicial Rubber Meets The Road

There are rough seas ahead for the John Roberts led Supreme Court, with no safe harbor in sight. Over the next 6-12 months, there are quite likely three critical issues that will be thrust in a national spotlight to their chamber by The Pampers President, issues that the court would rather chew off a paw than have to decide. And the machinations and words of Trump himself will make these issues even harder for the court to navigate and decide. The three issues are self inflicted gunshot wounds, with Trump pulling the trigger. The first is the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. This ruling should have been a no brainer for the court, since most knowledgeable observers say that the lower court judge ran himself through a sausage grinder to create the logic for the ruling, and it is highly likely to be overturned on appeal. But Trump’s decision to have his DOJ drop their defense of the law makes it a case where the plaintiffs will appear to have the unstated but benevolent blessings of the Trump DOJ  The second bone of contention is going to be the release to the Judiciary committee of Trump’s tax returns. This shouldn’t even have to reach the court, since the law is crystal clear, but Trump is going to force the issue to protect his felonious secrets. The third is redactions and release of grand jury information in the Mueller report, and again, previous precedent shows that this issue shouldn’t even have to be decided, vut Trump again needs to shield as much damaging information gleaned in the investigation from becoming public as possible. But despite the unforced errors of the court having to decide cases that it shouldn’t even need to be involved in, it is the dynamic of the composition of the court that is going to lead to the intense scrutiny of every word that is uttered, and the microscopic dissection of each decision, especialy the makeup of the majority vote. The reason is the actual roster of the current court, specifically the latest two members, and this is a situation in which Trump is only partially responsible. First, the one for which trump holds sole responsibility. Brett Kavanaugh has failed miserably in the task that The $1 Store Caligula put before him. Kavanaugh was supposed to replace the questionable swing vote of Anthony Kennedy with a reliably conservative 5th vote. Vut due to Kavanaugh’s reprehensible personal behavior, the 99 car freeway pile up of his confirmation process, and Trump’s own clearly partisan words and expectations for Kavanaugh, instead of providing a reliable 5th conservative vote on the court, kavanaugh has forced Roberts himself into the uncomfortable position of having to be the critical 5th “swing” vote. Roberts has already had to side with the liberals on the court in at least two decisions, rather than risk having his legacy tarnished by Kavanaugh’s obvious partisan role, and he has likely declined to take up another couple of cases that he would have liked to hear, if not for fear of the outcome being referred to as a “Kavaqnaugh tie breaker.” It is quite likely that in at least some, if not all of the upcoming decisions, Roberts may again be forced to vote against his natural inclination, if only […]
MSNBC / YouTube Jim Jordan Announces Bid To Replace...

Is arrogance making “safe” Republicans take an unnecessary risk?

After to years of looking incredibly like Inspector Clouseau while they obstructed themselves while they had total control of the government, the GOP in the House has gone back to the more familiar and comfortable position of obstructing Democrats instead. But there seems to be something a itte bit reckless about their obstruction this time, almost like they’ve lost their mojo, at least in the House. Republicans in both chambers ran like a scalded cat when Traitor Tot announced his latest foray into the Tattoine wasteland of healthcare.The Republicans took a severe wookie stomp in 2018 in the House, largely from Democrats running on the issue of healthcare. If there’s one issue that the GOP desperately wants so far off of the table that it’s in the dumpster outside the kitchen door in the alley, it’s the issue of healthcare. It was reported yesterday that a couple of House Republicans had taken what could well turn out to be a rather risky step. In response to a letter from the Democratic chair of their committee to Big Pharma companies, requesting their presence at a hearing on prescription drug costs, Ohio Representative Jim Jordan, a die hard Teabagger with questionable social skills, and terminal myopia where college wrestling team doctors are concerned, sent a letter of his own. In the letter, he warned the pharmaceutical companies of the intentions of the chairman of the committee calling them in, basically telling them they were in for a trip to the wood shed if they showed up. The obvious plan being to try to undercut the chair by enticing the companies to decline to appear voluntarily. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. Jim Jordan is in a “safe” Republican district, well enough insulated by gerrymandering to be untouchable. But the simple fact of the matter is that 2018 kind of redefined the meaning of the word “safe” when applied to GOP congressional seats. But healthcare was far and away the #1 issue for voters in 2018, and with the Trump DOJ now backing the lawsuit to try to have the ACA declared unconstitutional, you can pretty well rest assured that it will be right at the top of the issues leader board in 2020 as well. It has been well documented and reported that the vast majority of Americans don’t even have $400 in savings to cover an unexpected expense. The last time I had health insurance, 4 years ago, my basic prescription co-pay table was $10/25/40.  But for “designer” drugs, usually from major pharmaceutical companies, with no generic alternative, the table was $75/150. For a family with a child with a medical condition, that extra $50-125 can be the difference between food on the table and a healthy offspring. And it isn’t just families with children. These days, the most reliable, although shrinking voting base that the Republicans have is senior citizens. And for frost tops like me, the cost of medications is a matter of critical concern. Leave aside for a moment those older Americans with serious medical conditions. Many healthy senior Americans are healthy because of the medications that they take on a regularly scheduled basis. And the cost of those medications can be the difference between a healthy, satisfying existence, and merely surviving. I think that the Republicans are calculating with two mis-perceptions here. […]

Finally, a “Dr Feelgood” political story out of Virginia!

I swear to God, I’d rather be lucky than good. Usually, I have to kick and scratch, fight and scream, to find something interesting to write to you guys about. But every once in a while, an egg comes crashing through the windshield and lands right in your lap, as if a golden goose were flying overhead. This is one of those rare times. If you’re a Virginian, especially a progressive Virginian, the political news for the last 6 months has been brutal. Story after story of rather serious indiscretions by statewide elected officials just keep spewing out, like a cat with a hair ball. Prominent have been stories concerning rather insensitive photo ops by the sitting Governor and Attorney General in their college days. So it’s like that soft, warm kiss of the first spring breeze of the year to finally be able to share a lighthearted political story from Virginia. And even more so when the protagonist of that story is someone that most people confuse for a 1960’s investment banker, or a department store mannequin, you know, a Republican. In this case, the Republican in question is Virginia state Senator William DeSteph. As a politician in Virginia, I’m sure that DeSteph is appalled and mortified at the knocks his profession has taken lately, so he has graciously stepped forward to help to rehabilitate the reputation of the states politicians. Bill DeSteph was not always a Senator. He cut his political baby teeth as a city councilman in Virginia Beach (actually one of my favorite “getaway” towns), and it’s there that our uplifting story originates. Back in 2008, while DeSteph was a city councilman, he had the opportunity to attend a gala to raise money for a childrens charity. The kicker was that the gala was actually a costume party. Being both civic minded as well as charitable, DeSteph jumped into that idea with both feet, coming up with a highly original costume. And keeping in mind that it was for a childrens charity, he of course chose a child friendly costume. *SIGH*…..Because nothing says moral superiority and sexual sensitivity quite like an 18” brass phallic symbol with the words “RUB ME!” emblazoned on it sticking out from your crotch. At 62, when I finally saw my beloved Cubbies win the World Series a couple of years ago, I honestly thought that I had finally seen it all, but fuck me! And the thing to remember here is that while Northam and Herring were caught wearing blackface back in their college days, when this picture was taken, DeSteph was already an elected official, with a public and political image to consider. And the best idea that he could come up with was to dress up the way Traitor Tot likes to brag he looks when he chases a pron star around a hotel room. My dream is that by doing my small part, this picture can go viral enough that Disney picks it up and runs with it. In my minds eye I see them making a childrens movie about it, where a dull, stodgy politician by day becomes a porn star genie by night. Maybe they can name it SLEAZZAM! But until that happens, just about the only thing I can think of to say to Bill DeSteph is, ain’t karma a […]

Sayonara, Mike Pence?

”Don’t you recognize me?” “Ummm, gimme a hint.” “I’m your WIFE, dumbass!”   Ash vs Evil Dead You know, even in the current more progressive, affluent, and permissive age we live in today, most people still tend to take marriage pretty seriously. Not only because of the emotional trauma it can cause, but because of the financial ruin that it can cause for both parties, as well as social damage. And nowhere is that risk more apparent, or serious, than when a Presidential candidate decides to “marry up” to a Vice Presidential running mate. In many ways, a presidential candidate choosing a running mate is eerily similar to the “arranged marriages” previously common in some cultures. The “parents” in the party tend to “pair up” the couple for strategic and political benefit, and the kids are stuck with making the basic mechanics of living together under the same roof work. History is stuffed chock-a-bock full with these “odd couple” arranged marriages politically. Dan Quayle was about as qualified to be a vice president as a real quail, but he provided the necessary “youthful glow” to the stodgy and drying paint dull of George H W Bush. Dick Cheney was supposed to be a steadying political influence on the addle pated and politically nebbish George W Bush, but instead left W in the playpen while he traded US military lives for Haliburton profits. And Joe Biden gave the up and coming, but inexperienced Barack Obama the political and foreign policy gravitas to make people more comfortable. The Donald Trump-Mike Pence ticket was just such a shotgun marriage. Pence was supposed to be a steadying influence to “traditional” Republican voters, as well as deep pocket GOP donors, who were obviously uneasy about the rather erratic behavior and public pronouncements of a candidate who treated real world politics like just another reality TV series. But where Dick Cheney had the strength of will to impose discipline on the pliant W, Pence had neither the savvy, nor the spine to even slow down, much less manipulate the alpha male in his relationship. The marriage was a match-made-in-heaven for Pence. A dull and uninspiring congressman, who became a dull and uninspiring Governor, Pence was facing a tough reelection fight in Indiana for another term. And if he couldn’t win reelection as Governor, he could kiss a future run for Senate goodbye. Yet, here he suddenly was, being offered the job of playing second fiddle to a 70 year old lecher, who snarfed bacon double cheeseburgers like he could “take a mulligan” on his cholesterol score. Pence was, and still is, literally a single heartbeat away from being serenaded with “Hail to the Chief.” But for Donald Trump, Mike Pence was a necessary evil, a means he had to accept to gain his political end. Trump’s disgust with, and his disdain for Pence has been apparent since day one. The casual, almost offhand way in which he made the initial announcement of his selection only served to diminish and humiliate Pence. And he rubbed salt in the wound the very next day, by leaking to the media that he was seriously exploring ways to cancel his offer, and pick someone else instead. Trump has been widely reported to consistently mock both Pence’s staid and traditional lifestyle and […]
DonkeyHotey / Flickr Kirstjen Nielsen Caricature...

Will Immigration Be The Next “Crack” In The GOP Senate Ceiling?

Ding-dong, the witch is dead, the wicked witch, the witch is dead   The Wizard of Oz RIP (Rot In Prison) Kirtjen Nielsen. The Kommisar of Kiddie Kages now finally joins her former boss, General John Kelly, in the “Shit scraped off of the bottom of my shoe” category of the Trump administration yearbook, and like Ebeneezer Scrooge before her, the only ones who will mourn her departure are the chain link fencing salesman. What brought about this stunning fall from grace? Apparently she dared to defy Der Gropinfuror’s demand that she reinstate the insane child separation policy that he himself had halted by executive order. But Wait for the McGuffin before you start rushing out and giving her credit for having belatedly developed a soul. She didn’t balk at reinstating the policy due to any noble aspirations for human dignity and decency. She opposed the move because with the influx of family units seeking asylum, they simply don’t have the space to house all of the new separated arrivals, and also, she didn’t want her name on a document that will directly defy a standing court order prohibiting the Trump administration from reinstating the policy.And for the mortal sin of using logic and law, she became “Kamikaze Kirstjen.” Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out. Let’s just take a step back and look at why the policy was toxic enough to force His Lowness to have to back away and look like a spineless wimp to his base. The audio, video, and still images of toddlers being ripped screaming and kicking from their parents arms, and lying on concrete floors wrapped in nothing but tin foil blankets offended everybody with a soul marginally larger than Heinrich Himmler. Unfortunately for Trump, that included a sizable number of GOP Senators, who publicly broke with him over the policy when their constituents started erecting barricades in front of their offices, and receptionists quit rather than field any more phone calls. And just the “report” that Trump is considering reinstating child separation has a GOP stalwart like WI Senator Ron Johnson “concerned,” and Johnson isn’t even up for reelection in 2020 fer Crissakes! Trump appears to be dead set on reinstating this policy to rev up his base in the run up for 2020, and his designated hitter for Nielsen feels that he has a reach around work around to the legal issue. Mainly, offer the family nits the option of staying together in detention in concrete floored dog runs for an indeterminate amount of time, or choose to be separated, and spend an indeterminate amount of time in concrete floored dog runs, but at least they can’t see how miserable each other are.Almost certainly, any attempt to reboot the policy would lead to an immediate court injunction pending civil litigation, but Trumpenstein would already have scored his cheap points with his base by trying to stop the flood of immigrants, only to be once again stymied by the courts. If Trump insists on moving forward with this policy, it is going to place McConnell, and his Senate caucus in an untenable position, for two reasons. First, there were only 8 GOP Senators up for reelection in 2018, and they could safely insulate themselves from the issue by shyly backing away from […]
Washington Post / YouTube Trump holds rally in Montana...

The Trump “base” revisited.

You know, for 22 months, we had Robert Mueller coming out of our ears. Mueller was like the weather, he was everywhere. The media helped to fuel this feeding frenzy by specifically referring to “the Mueller investigation” on a daily basis, even when absolutely nothing had happened that day. But believe it or not, we have had another media fueled national obsession that has gone on even longer than the Mueller investigation. And that obsession is the Trump “base,” Since November 9, 2016, the media has been fixated on this mythical creature, this silent, hidden army, that like a swarm of termites, toppled the house of democracy. There are two different aspects of the Trump base that the media loves to chew on like a dog with an old pork chop bone, who is the Trump base, and how big is the Trump base? And like most things Trumpian, the medias commentary on the Trump base tends to be riddled with hyperbole and exaggeration. How big is the Trump base? Everybody has their own view, and mine hasn’t changed since the 2016 primaries. From where I’m sitting, Trump’s actual ‘base” is between 32-34%. How did I come up with this low ball figure? Simple. It’s what he was running in the pre primary and early 2016 GOP primary polls. In both parties, the primaries are an almost purely base affair, only the “true believers” show up to vote. And from Labor Day right on through the early primaries, Trump was remarkable consistent, at 32-34%. When I wrote in November of 2015 that Trump could actually win the nomination, it was simple math. Trump was running at 45^, nobody else in the field was clearing double digits. With the early states being “winner take all,” Trump could bank enough early delegates to make him impossible to catch once the herd culled down. Which happened. Trump started clearing 50% when he became the apparent nominee. Yeah, and I was a Bulls fan back in the days when you could walk up to the ticket window a half hour before game time and buy any ticket you wanted. Nothing creates fans like winning. I have seen nothing in the last two years to make me change my mind, in fact, exactly the opposite. Trump won the electoral college with a minority 47% of the popular vote. And where has he been mired for most of the last two years? At between 38-44%.But the important thing to bear in mind is that the Trump base really is the Trump base. In 2018, the Republicans lost the national popular vote to the Democrats by more than double the amount that Trump lost the national vote in 2016! Not only has Trump failed to do what every winning President in history has done, namely to try to expand his base for the next election, Trump has managed the dubious distinction of actually shrinking his base by sending traditional “loyal” Republican voters fleeing in disgust. That is a mean trick, and unfortunately for Trump, it’s only going to get worse for the next 18 months, because for Trump, it’s not about winning, it’s about rallies. As long as he’s serenaded by drooling mouth breathers with chants of “Lock her UP!” at rallies, everything is going according to schedule. So, what is the actual Trump base? From where I’m sitting, it’s made up of […]

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