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trump10Specifically, in this case, one of his cabinet members.
 

Gov. Mark Dayton said Wednesday that his inability to reach federal Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on the phone to talk about health care is unlike anything he’s ever experienced.
 
Minnesota lawmakers passed a $542 million financial safety net for insurance companies last session that was aimed at stabilizing the state’s individual health insurance market. But the plan, known as reinsurance, is dependent on the federal government’s permission in the form of a waiver that has not yet been approved. And Dayton said he’s not getting any answers.
 
“I can’t even get the secretary of health and human services on the telephone. I can’t even get a phone number to call him to raise the issue.”
 
…Dayton is also disturbed by the prospect of losing $369 million in federal funds for MinnesotaCare, a basic health care program that serves the working poor. He said federal officials notified his office just last week that the cut would be a consequence of approving the reinsurance program.
(MPR)

Yeah, this guy.
 

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price once remarked that “tough choices” must be made to reduce “waste” in government spending. Apparently, in Price’s mind, frequent and lavish private flights don’t qualify as wasteful spending, but programs that provide life-saving healthcare to millions of Americans do.
 
According to a Politico report Tuesday, Price “last week took private jets on five separate flights for official business, at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars more than commercial travel.” Based on sample flight rates, the cost for Price to fly commercial would have been somewhere between $400 and $725—as opposed to $25,000 to charter a jet for a short trip from Washington, D.C. to Philadelphia and back…
 
Politico goes on to detail Price’s travel schedule, noting that it fits with a pattern of Trump officials taking advantage of taxpayer dollars to charter private planes.
(Common Dreams)

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Trump voters got well and truly suckered, Part 63

by Dan Burns on September 21, 2017 · 0 comments

trump18A big fanfare was made of the claim that money donated for Trump’s inauguration that wasn’t used would go to charity.
 

The $107 million is a massive amount for even the most lavish inauguration. It’s almost twice what Barack Obama took in for a celebration that was much more widely attended and which included many more events. Trump even cut back on the number of inaugural balls to only two, compared to the ten balls that the Obamas attended in 2009. With twice the money and one fourth the events, all but a handful of the $107 million gifted to Trump for the inauguration should be available for charitable giving.
 
It’s been eight months. How much has been given out? None. None at all.
(Daily Kos)

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The Trump Presidency: A Clear and Present Danger (Part 1)

by Invenium Viam on September 19, 2017 · 0 comments

trumpangry No one knows what it's like
 To be the bad man
 To be the sad man
 Behind blue eyes
 And no one knows what it's like
 To be hated
 To be fated to telling only lies.
 But my dreams they aren't as empty
 As my conscience seems to be ...
 ...
 My love is vengeance
 That's never free ... The Who

In an interview with Rachel Maddow last week, Hillary Clinton took the courageous step of again warning the country that the Trump Presidency poses “… a clear and present danger.”

 

There can be no doubt that Clinton used the term with full knowledge of its implications. A “clear and present danger” is a term of art that proceeds from a doctrine adopted by the Supreme Court to determine under what circumstances limits may be placed on First Amendment freedoms of speech, press and assembly.

 

Hillary’s statement was courageous not because she was the first to say it. Others have been saying it since before Trump was elected. It was courageous because Hillary Clinton knows very well that Donald Trump is a malignant narcissist — a man without moral limitations — who now wields the power of the presidency. That Trump is vengeful and vindictive is beyond question. He can suffer no criticism, no wound to his ego, without reacting emotionally. His reaction to Hillary’s recent condemnation appears to be the already infamous retweet of the golf ball video. It was a reaction that reflects an impulsive choice by Trump that finds delight in the thought of violent retribution. In the video, Clinton is struck down by Trump’s golf ball as she boards a plane. Trump saw the video and liked it enough to retweet it. And that is worrisome …

 

We are quick to honor the courage of soldiers, police officers, and firefighters for whom the risk of injury or death in the service of others is readily apparent. But we tend to overlook the courage of political leaders who take a moral stand, boldly speak truth to power (including the power of the electorate), and are prepared to suffer the consequences that may result. At least, we tend to overlook their courage until those political leaders suffer the actual consequences of taking that moral stand … then we name elementary schools and post offices after them. Or erect statues. Too often posthumously …

 

With regard to the malignant narcissist who currently occupies the Oval Office — Mad King Don — Hillary Clinton knows perfectly well what #45 is capable of. Yet she is still willing to sound the alarm for the rest of us.

 

Most educated people are aware that Trump is a narcissist. But there are profound differences between classical narcissists and malignant narcissists. Classical narcissism includes symptoms such as poor self-identity, inability to appreciate others, a sense of entitlement, a lack of authenticity, a need for control, intolerance of the views and opinions of others, emotional detachment, grandiosity, lack of awareness or concern regarding how their behaviors might affect others, minimal emotional reciprocity, and a desperate need for the approval and positive attention of others. Sound familiar? Both types demand that the world conform to their self-image and created reality. Both types crave an unending supply of admiration, adulation, and praise. Both types are capable of vicious retaliation when their self-image is injured, their reputation impugned, or their created reality threatened. Narcissism demands to be mirrored and refuses to be challenged. By anyone. For any reason.

 

A malignant narcissist, on the other hand, suffers not only from the elements of narcissistic personality disorder, but also from anti-social personality disorder. In some ways, malignant narcissism is a blend of narcissism and psychopathy. A person with malignant narcissism represents a danger to others because their behaviors have the potential to destroy social groups, families, communities and nations. Malignant narcissists are shallow, petty, thin-skinned, punitive, hateful, cunning and angry. They cannot self-regulate emotionally and espouse beliefs that swing from one extreme to the next based on the requirements of the moment, or how they think an expressed belief might “play” with a listener or audience. They rank others based on superficial standards and often view them through a primitive binary lens (strong/weak, best/worst, winner/loser, smart/dumb, rich/poor, ugly/pretty). A quick overview can be viewed below:

 

 

Therein lies the clear and present danger that Hillary has spoken to and which also includes a danger to herself.  Every human being has fears, doubts and misgivings. Every human being suffers from social anxieties to some degree. But narcissists of all stripes create a personal, alternate “reality” that they live in to accord with an image of themselves that they want to maintain, which itself is a defensive screen to protect a fragile, injured ego within.

 

When the classical narcissist experiences fears, doubts and anxieties — particularly when they arise out of criticism from others — they react in defensive ways that serve to protect their fragile ego and maintain their alternate “reality.” However, a classical narcissist’s reactions need not be pathological. They might write a nasty letter, deny sex to their spouse, withdraw from a social group, or abandon a marriage or family. While such actions are anti-social, they are not pathological. And while the classical narcissist is self-aggrandizing and self-serving, they do not necessarily lack a moral code and generally recognize that society upholds a moral code to which all members of society are expected to adhere.

 

Malignant narcissists have no moral code and do not recognize the presence of a moral code in others. The normal rules of behavior and social interactions don’t apply to them. They have no emotional attachments to others of the kind that inform and modify their behaviors. They routinely and arrogantly violate interpersonal boundaries of weaker, more vulnerable individuals and those of lower social status. When others behave morally, they interpret that behavior as self-serving or self-gratifying. They recognize that society upholds a moral code, but they view the application of that moral code as weak and inconsistent — hence, the social code informs their behaviors only as to which code violations they can expect to get away with while escaping punishment. They have no emotional self-inhibitions in terms of how their behaviors might discomfort or harm others and very little impulse control.

 

The malignant narcissist believes that they occupy a special place in the world, that they are superior to others, and therefore deserve and demand special treatment. When they aren’t accorded special treatment, they can easily become enraged and feel that what is their due is being denied them. And having poor impulse control, they may act out of rage without fully considering the consequences to themselves and others. Gratification of rage is more important than consequences to themselves or harm done to others.

 

The malignant narcissist processes information about the world through the filters of their own delusional thinking and created reality. They fail to form normal emotional bonds with others, fail to develop normal social behaviors in groups, and fail to enter into and maintain normal human relationships. Yet they still require emotional gratification from others, just as classical narcissists do — that unending supply of admiration, adulation and praise. And when they don’t get the emotional gratification they crave, they react negatively, petulantly, even violently.

 

For some, their delusional thinking may be so extreme that they lie compulsively and extravagantly and believe the lies themselves simply because having said them now makes them a part of their created reality. Then they become enraged if their lies are challenged with evidence and facts, typically discrediting the evidence and facts presented as themselves fabrications and falsehoods. This pattern of behavior can easily devolve into gaslighting, as applied to both individuals and groups.

 

The malignant narcissist is a simplistic anti-social being in a complex social world. Their anti-social behaviors produce negative feedback from the larger society, which is then countered with negative reactions from the malignant narcissist, which in turn produces more negative feedback. A self-generating, self-reinforcing negative feedback loop forms, in which the malignant narcissist must struggle constantly to maintain control while finding fewer and fewer options for doing so. Regardless, control of a negative feedback loop is precisely the opposite of what the malignant narcissist desires — precisely the opposite of maintaining the continuing supply of admiration, adulation and praise they desperately need to feed their fragile ego and fill the emotional black hole within.

 

Worse, it erodes the foundations of the delusion created world — the alternate “reality” — they live in and produces a fluctuating self-esteem, or emotional disequilibrium. Over time, that reality becomes narrower and narrower and the explanations and justifications needed to maintain emotional and psychological equilibrium in a world that seems to be crumbling around them become ever more illogical and bizarre. At some point, the malignant narcissist crosses over into the purely pathological in their thoughts and actions. No one, not even the narcissist himself, can control his need to protect his ego and maintain at all costs the alternate “reality” he has created to defend it.

 

And if the cost of doing so means he has to undertake the most extreme measures, even incinerating the planet, so be it. At least his name will live on forever. Lesser beings like you and I will be forgotten. But he will be remembered. And never again can his greatness be challenged because is it written forever in history like a ragged scar across the face of time.

 

Therein lies the clear and present danger manifest in the Trump Presidency. Hillary has named it. She has done so forthrightly and courageously.

 

We’d be fools not to listen.

 

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MN-03: Paulsen’s record is 100% rich man’s cur

by Dan Burns on September 19, 2017 · 0 comments

paulsenI hadn’t known about this blog. Great stuff.
 

Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) has never supported taxing businesses. Since 2014, Paulsen has had four major opportunities to do so, but has declined every time.
 
In 2014, for instance, he voted in favor of H.R. 4457. The act was designed to amend the IRS code to allow businesses to make more expenses tax-deductible.
 
On the same day, he voted for the S Corporation Permanent Tax Relief Act of 2014. The act amended the IRS code to reduce the period during which S corporations are subject to taxation. (S corporations are a type of corporation that passes corporate income, losses, deductions, and credit to their shareholders.)
 
Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) criticized both pieces of legislation for making permanent tax breaks that had not been paid for or offset elsewhere. He argued that together, they bills would add $75 billion in deficit increases to the federal budget.
 
For the same reasons, President Obama indicated that he would veto both bills if they made it to his desk.
(Edina Indivisible)

More information about his record is available at PaulsenVotes.org.
 

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Trump voters got well and truly suckered, Part 62

by Dan Burns on September 19, 2017 · 0 comments

trump17This is more or less a rant, but it does pretty well summarize what everyone should know by now.
 

Before this week, the essential character of Donald Trump wasn’t a secret—he was always a flamboyant liar, a raging narcissist, and a man driven by impulse and expedience—but to the victims of the biggest political con in American history those were part of his roguish charm. He was always an actor, playing the successful dealmaker and negotiator.
 
Trump voters are world-champion rationalizers. They knew he was a bastard, but he was their bastard. They knew he was a lying, amoral, narcissistic snake, but by God, he was their snake. American conservatives who knew better sold their virtue, ideology, and principles once Trump won the White House, nodded sagely and intoned, “But Gorsuch.” The last two weeks have been a delicious comeuppance for all of them, as Trump has burned them to the ground by forging a new alliance with the Democratic leadership of Congress and leaving his Republican frenemies in the dirt.
(Daily Beast)

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Frame it as tax fairness, not reform

by Dan Burns on September 15, 2017 · 0 comments

greedActually, a lot of corporate media will probably use the odious framing (generated in right-wing propaganda mills) of tax “relief,” at every opportunity.
 

We are about to embark on a nationwide debate over taxes. Newspapers want to call this a debate over “tax reform.” It is not.
 
Progressives should never say “tax reform” and never accept this phrase as the basis for debate. Whether it’s a matter before federal, state or local governments, progressives champion tax “fairness,” not “reform.” The one word sets us up for victory and the other for defeat.
 
The word “reform” is a value that telegraphs that it refers to something positive. “Reform” means to make changes in something – typically a social, political, or economic institution or practice – in order to improve it.
 
The word “fairness” is an entirely different value and one that is more specific. It announces that something is unjust and that our intention is to address the injustice.
(OurFuture.org)

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oilspillGreat, great news.
 

Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 project — an effort to replace and expand an oil sands pipeline through Minnesota — hit a roadblock Monday when the state’s Department of Commerce said that the project is environmentally and economically risky and that the company has failed to show that the pipeline is even needed at all…
 
“The Commerce Department testimony is really damning and really well reasoned,” Aaron Klemz from the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy told ThinkProgress. “They seem to have taken a really hard look at the facts and made a decision on them rather then just taking the company’s word for it.”
 
Enbridge’s application would relocate and expand a pipeline, already known as Line 3, which carries Canadian tar sands oil from the border to refineries in Wisconsin or to other pipelines. Opponents to the project say the new route will carry oil through sensitive wetlands, including some of the only wild rice marshes in the world. They also say that building more fossil fuel infrastructure now — oil sands is one of the dirtiest fuels in the world — is antithetical to efforts to transition to clean energy, reduce climate change, and keep air and water clean.
(Think Progress)

Here is a sort of cover page and article on the Commerce Department website, with links to all the minutiae.
 

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Trump voters got well and truly suckered, Part 61

by Dan Burns on September 14, 2017 · 0 comments

trump10You have to click on the link to read the jokes. Some are indeed quite diverting.
 

Here in Tulum, Mexico, about two hours drive from Cancun, they don’t lose sleep thinking about Donald Trump, his threats against their country, or his misguided plans to build a southern border wall.
 
They don’t seem to care much that the President of the United States called many of them rapists and criminals either…with some “good people” thrown in.
 
In fact, just like the Americans who have flocked to this laid-back beach town for the long Labor Day weekend, the natives would prefer to tell jokes about The Donald — some predictable, some sophomoric, many delightfully self-deprecating— than to spend one minute worrying about the man they call “La Broma En Naranja.” The Orange Joke.
(Medium/Extra Newsfeed)

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devosPerhaps politicians of both parties at least vaguely realize how unpopular an agenda of massive cuts and for-profit privatization would be.
 

However, (on September 6), DeVos got some bipartisan push back from federal lawmakers. A Senate sub-committee rejected two proposals that, if approved by Congress, would have helped DeVos to move forward with school privatization plans.
 
The panel rejected her requested $1 billion boost to the Title I program, which is designed to educate disadvantaged students. DeVos wanted to use that money to help local districts create or expand her privatization agenda which, in addition to vouchers, also includes charter schools run by for-profit companies. It also rejected a proposal to use a program within the U.S. Department of Education to nurture private school vouchers…
 
Speaking of after school programs, that same Senate subcommittee also rejected a Trump-DeVos request to eliminate federal funding to help cover the cost of such programs. Instead, the panel approved $1.2 billion for the 21st Century Community Learning Center. The House has approved similar funding.
(Education Votes)

Despite having been the birthplace of charters, Minnesota remains one of the best states overall for public schools. But that should be understood in context.
 

In six out of every seven Minnesota school districts, FY 2019 real per pupil state aid is projected to be lower and real per pupil property taxes are projected to be higher than in FY 2003; in nearly half of these districts, total per pupil revenue is projected to decline relative to FY 2003, as projected levy increases will not be sufficient to offset state aid reductions. Whatever increase in revenue did occur since FY 2003 among the remaining districts should be considered in the context of the increased concentration of special need students, increased testing, and other requirements that have been placed upon districts over the last sixteen years.
 
The conclusion is clear: while the financial circumstances of Minnesota school districts have improved in recent years, real per pupil state aid remains significantly below the FY 2003 level, both in aggregate and in the vast majority of districts. To the extent that real per pupil revenues have increased at all over the last sixteen years, the cost has been borne primarily by local property taxpayers.
(North Star Policy Institute)

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Trump voters got well and truly suckered, Part 60

by Dan Burns on September 11, 2017 · 0 comments

trump15Two items that appeared while MnPP was down, and that I want in the archives.
 

In a new report from the nonprofit group Public Citizen, researchers describe how President Trump has spent his first six months defying the pledges that carried him into office, instead favoring the corporate interests groups he condemned during his campaign.
 
Specifically, the report—aptly titled Trump’s Corporate Con Job: Six Months Into Term, Trump Has Fully Abandoned Populism In Favor of Giveaways to Industry—details how Trump’s policies benefit agribusiness; automakers; bankers; chemical producers; defense firms; predatory private colleges and student lenders; for-profit prison companies; the telecom, fossil fuel, and pharmaceutical industries; and wealthy people.
 
As Alan Zibel, research director of Public Citizen’s Corporate Presidency Project, put it: “Giant corporations are now designing and carrying out policy to an extent unequaled in American history.”
 
Despite Trump’s campaign rallying cry to “drain the swamp” and “put the people back in charge of our government”—in which he directly targeted lobbyists and special interest groups—more than 100 former federal lobbyists now work within his administration. As ProPublica reported in March: “During the campaign, Trump said he would have ‘no problem’ banning lobbyists from his administration. But they have nonetheless ended up in senior roles, aided by Trump’s weakening of Obama-era ethics rules that modestly limited lobbyists’ role in government.”
(Common Dreams)

On inauguration day we didn’t yet know whether maybe the majesty of the office would change him or the institutions under which he had to operate would, at least, constrain him. There was always a suspicion that maybe he was more of an act than he let on. Now we know. It wasn’t an act.
 
President Donald Trump is exactly the same person he was on the campaign trail and in the many years of celebrity that preceded his entry into the race. To those who said they liked him because “what you see is what you get,” he has fulfilled their desires. In their book the consistency of his dishonesty is a testament to his authenticity. The rest of us are horrified and appalled and it gets worse all the time.
(Salon)

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