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A Pelosi/Raskin Townhall

A raucous standing room only crowd greeted House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-8) at Rockville's Luxmanor Elementary School cafeteria early Saturday (Nov 4) morning. The Democratic representatives along with several Montgomery County residents came to discuss the dangers to Maryland and the nation that they see in the Republican House tax bill.

Speaking first at the town hall he had organized, Raskin attacked the plan for being largely composed of corporate giveaways. These include a drop in the corporate tax rate from 35% to 12% on income currently stashed overseas and 10% on profits from transnational activities. Deriding the bill as the “billionaire tax break and job cutting plan,” Raskin noted also that the Republican plan slashes $1.5 trillion from Medicare and Medicaid over a decade.

Reforming Weinstein's Hollywood

Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein is a serial sexual harasser, exercises zero anger management, and abuses nearly everybody with whom he has contact. He is one among a number of powerful, or once powerful, Hollywood men who share some or all of these behaviors and characteristics. Trying to avoid the rapists, gropers, and grinders is, therefore, a very serious dilemma for women in the entertainment industry. Sadly, it’s not the only one.

The Clinton Double Standard?

Branko Marcetic has a strong piece at the Jacobin called the Clinton Double Standard. He argues that liberals have given the Clintons a pass for harassing behavior that is not dissimilar to what Harvey Weinstein, Bill O'Reilly, and other are alleged to have done. What makes the article especially trenchant is that Marcetic provides an out for pro-Clinton liberals.

Pawns in the Game

While watching the documentary Don’t Look Back about Bob Dylan’s 1965 tour of England, I was struck, as so many others have been, by the dichotomy between Dylan the young man and Dylan the artist. As a man, he comes across as immature, petulant, and sometimes downright nasty. As an artist, his musical genius shines through every guitar strum, harmonica chord, and whiny nasally sung note. In one uncomfortable hotel room scene, Dylan wields his multifarious talents - he’s a master songwriter, lyricist, guitar player, and troubador - as weapons against the outclassed Donovan. But Dylan also evinces humanity, humility, and empathy in his public performances.

Democratic Opportunity

The Democrats have a great chance to win back many of the working class Midwesterners who were pivotal in last year’s election even if some Trump voters are deplorable racists who cannot be reached through rational argument. A study by professors from the University of Minnesota and Boston University concludes that Hillary Clinton’s narrow loss may be attributed to her relative hawkishness. For example, Trump came out in opposition to the Iraq War far earlier than Clinton grudgingly admitted it was a mistake. Likewise, analyses from such disparate and credible sources as Scientific American, CNN, and Fortune Magazine see Trump’s opposition to free trade as an important factor in his victory.

MD has a lot to lose if Obamacare is repealed

Maryland, particularly Montgomery County, has become a bright spot in the national health-care picture. From 2012 to 2015, subsidies to health insurance purchasers and the expansion of Maryland’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act caused the percentage of uninsured Marylanders to fall from 10.1 percent to 6.7 percent. The national average is 9.4 percent. . .

Read the rest of my Washington Post op-ed here.

Responding to Racism

Two nooses in the District of Columbia and one in suburban Maryland have been found over the past three weeks. Thursday, a noose was found hanging from a tree in an integrated Montgomery Village, MD, neighborhood. On May 31, one was left in the Segregation Gallery at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Less than a week earlier, a noose had been discovered on the grounds of the Hirshhorn Museum.

For me, a white man living in Kensington, these are deeply disturbing reminders of an angry and divided world. A world in which racism remains a strong presence, even in the cosmopolitan DMV, and overtly hostile acts seem only to have grown in frequency since the beginning of the last year’s election cycle.

Winter of Progressive Discontent

Democrats should be disappointed by Republican Greg Gianforte’s win over Rob Quist in the recently-concluded Montana special election. The concept of moral victories in winner-take-all political races is unpersuasive and particularly so in this case. Yes, Quist got a much higher percentage of the vote than Hillary Clinton did in November. But part of that improvement likely came courtesy of Gianforte's assault on a reporter on the eve of the election. Simply put, one cannot discern a Democratic wave on the horizon in the wake of an over 6 point loss to a ruffian in a state with a Democratic governor and senator.

For progressive activists, Quist's loss is particularly troubling. Quist followed the script that we on the left edge of the Democratic Party have been writing. He held rallies with Bernie Sanders. He supports Medicare-for-all.

Bill Maher's much worse than Kathy Griffin

White Bill Maher used the n-word on a live HBO Show Friday night in what smacks of a ugly effort to bond with Republican Senator Ben Sasse  of Nebraska. Because Maher’s proffered apology came after a day of dithering, it reeks of insincerity. At this point, I'm vacillating between calling for his head for expressing an overtly racist sentiment in the worst possible way and thinking a long suspension might be sufficient.

Last week CNN fired Kathy Griffin for staging a photograph showing her holding Trump’s bloody severed head. Given that Griffin’s primary CNN gig is co-host with Anderson Cooper of the apolitical New Year’s Eve Live, her dismissal for being crude, gruesome, and offensive to much of the nation is understandable. Nevertheless, there’s no doubt that the arty, albeit gory, photograph has real value. Griffin was depicting a fantasy that millions share - a brutal end to America’s destructive bully-in-chief.

Why Bernie Matters

Opponents of Bernie Sanders have been having a field day. Over the past couple of weeks, the Vermont Senator has taken a number of shots. A writer at Slate rather absurdly knocks him for 1) hosting a popular podcast allegedly characterized by shoddy production values and softball questions.

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