Monday, September 25, 2017


Ladies and gentlemen, if you have tears, prepare to shed them now, because Rush Limbaugh told us on his radio show today that he's very sad:
I want to share with you first the way all of this affected me, because in many ways I think that I am fairly typical. I am smack-dab in the middle of the targeted marketing the NFL does to acquire and hold an audience, right smack-dab in the middle of it. And I have to tell you, I was so sad Sunday morning when all of this started falling out.

... I was personally saddened. I did not watch the National Football League yesterday, and it was the first time in 45 years that I made an active decision not to watch, including my team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was not a decision made in anger. It was genuine sadness.
In case you didn't catch that, Rush Limbaugh was sad. He was sad because -- at the age of 66 -- he has lost the ability to worship big, strong jocks as if he were an 8-year-old boy:
I realized that I can no longer look at this game and watch this game and study this game and pretend, you know, fantasize, everything a fan does. This whole thing has removed for me the ingredients that are in the recipe that make up a fan.

The mystique is gone. That actually started vanishing a while ago. The larger-than-life aspect of it is gone. The belief, the wish, the desire that the people in the game were the best and brightest and special, and that’s why they were there, that’s gone.
It's tragic to watch a man lose his faith. Who stole it from Limbaugh? Oh, the usual suspects:
And it’s been politicized. It has been politicized and corrupted, and it didn’t start this weekend....

And the people politicizing it, since we’re talking about politics, the people that politicized it are people on the left. And when that happens, things change. It’s just over.
We've broken him! He's a broken man! How could we be so cruel to Rush Limbaugh?

The liberal response to this, of course, will be that nothing Limbaugh is suffering is in any way comparable to what's suffered by the victims of police brutality, or by their families.

But why should any rational person get worked up over unarmed people being killed by cops? It's all fake news!
You know what I fear? Based on things I’ve seen, based on things I’ve read, based on things I’ve heard, it seems that a lot of people still believe “hands up, don’t shoot” happened. It seems to me — and I’ve done nothing but immerse myself in this. I have wanted to find even the most obscure comments from the most obscure players. And, folks, it seems to me that there are a lot of people who believe “hands up, don’t shoot,” Ferguson, Missouri, that Michael Brown was an innocent victim running away from a policeman and was shot in the back while having his hands up saying, “Don’t shoot.”

It didn’t happen. It is a false narrative that the media spread and spread, and the protesting agitators spread it. And it has taken on a life of its own that it never had, it was never true, and significantly a lot of people believe it and other things similar to it that didn’t happen or didn’t happen the way they were reported.
The Justice Department under Eric Holder, despite being deeply critical of the police department in Ferguson, Missouri, did reject the "Hands up, don't shoot" narrative in the death of Michael Brown. So, according to Limbaugh, that's all you need to know about "other things similar to" the Brown shooting. They "didn’t happen the way they were reported"! None of them! All those cases you've read about -- all fake!

But wait -- aren't some on video? Oh, please:
... you take a street corner, an average street corner and there’s no camera there, and things that happen happen. You put a camera on that corner when people know it’s there, and their behavior all changes. The people who know the camera is there are gonna change their behavior.

... that’s now how people see life, is through the lens of media. And so that affects how people behave. They comport themselves in ways to be seen by cameras that will then televise what they do, people who have, quote, unquote, platforms. And it becomes an act or a call for attention or a marketing plan or what have you.
Remember Eric Garner repeatedly saying "I can't breathe" as he was being choked to death? He was marketing himself, silly!

But back to Rush Limbaugh's sadness, which is the one genuinely tragic result of all these so-called acts of police brutality:
... all of this is just sad. Folks, the National Football League, I loved it. I mean, it was one of my top five passions, hobbies, enjoyments, as regular listeners of this program know. I’m not making this about me.
Oh, no. Obviously not.
There is no way that business is going to grow and prosper. No matter how correct the protest might be, no matter how justified it might be, that is not the place for it. It is not why people spend money watching it, patronizing it, purchasing anything to do with it. And that makes me sad.
Did you catch the "sad" part? I just want to make sure you caught that.
The upshot of it is, though, the sad realization that something I loved — and, look, this is not old man “get off my yard” stuff.

This is not old fuddy-duddy wanting the Ward and June Cleaver days back. It’s not that.
Oh, heavens no. Who on earth would think that?
It’s just I don’t think I’m gonna look forward to NFL Sundays....
And how are you dealing with your profound grief, Rush?
It wasn’t until last year — maybe the year before but certainly last year — that I started playing golf on Sunday afternoons in order to get home to see the second half of the late game and maybe the Sunday night game. That never happened before. But yesterday was the first day I did not watch any of the National Football League.
I'm sorry, readers. I probably should have warned you about how heartbreaking this monologue is. It's almost too much to bear.

So how did that make you feel, Rush?
I just didn’t care, which made me sad. I was depressed.

It made me, as I say, very sad.
Sad. He felt sad.


The Washington Post's James Hohmann wants you to believe that the president's war on sports protesters is uniquely Trumpian:
The most fitting slogan for Donald Trump’s populist campaign, which continues nearly a year after the 2016 election ended, might be “us against them.” ... He is the divider in chief.

Trump, who was a developer before he became a reality TV star and then a politician, has long been a builder of straw men. Everyone knows that he trades on controversy, but his chaotic approach to governing also depends on constantly presenting the American people with false binary choices.
Already I'm confused. What does being a real estate developer have to do with dividing Americans? There's one line on Trump's résumé that Hohmann leaves out: political commentator on Fox News during the Roger Ailes era -- though what's probably more important is that for years he's been a Fox viewer.
Picking a fight with professional athletes who kneel during the national anthem, a controversy from last year that had mostly blown over, is just the latest example.
This was a controversy "that had mostly blown over"? Not on the right. This years, right-wingers have continued to be furious at anthem kneelers, and have been full of schadenfreude because they believe anger about this is hurting NFL TV ratings and attendance. Here are some Drudge Report headlines from earlier this month, well before Trump raised the issue on Friday night:

The anger about this on the right is still fresh.

More from Hohmann:
Trump talks about the world in black-and-white terms: You’re either with him or against him....

He is also looking for distractions. Trump went all-in last week on the Cassidy-Graham health-care bill, which could fail this week. The candidate he endorsed in Alabama could go down in a GOP primary. Puerto Rico has been ravaged by a hurricane, and there are mounting questions about the federal response....

[Trump] thrives on feuds, and he likes setting up binary contrasts between himself and others....

Trump allies see the NFL spat as the perfect wedge issue. The president relishes culture wars that rile up his “forgotten man” base and telegraph that he’s on their side against the elites....

In the next three months, you can take it to the bank that POTUS will start speaking again about “the war on Christmas,” another trumped-up issue that plays well with conservative evangelicals who feel like they are losing their hold over American culture.
And where did Trump pick all this up? Did he learn this during his years in the New York real estate industry? No. In those years, he put a lot of effort into getting his name in the news -- but he mostly tried to sell himself as a business genius and a stud.

Trump learned racism at his father's knee. It's quite possible that the pre-Fox Trump would have attacked kneeling black football players -- in 1989, years before Fox News went on the air, he took out an ad denouncing the Central Park Five and demanding the restoration of the death penalty.

But by then he'd spent years watching Mayor Ed Koch rally New York City with rabble-rousing, backlash-courting pronouncements similar to this. (Yes, Koch was a Democrat, but he was a Trump-style divider, a Rudy Giuliani before Giuliani was Giuliani.) The young Trump also learned backlash-courting from watching Richard Nixon as president.

But Fox News really taught Trump how to use anger over a wide range of cultural issues, such as the "war on Christmas" -- a ginned-up non-problem whose cultural potency he probably wouldn't have been aware of if it weren't for Fox.

If you watch Fox, conservatives are never wrong, never embarrassed by failure or by being on the wrong side of history. If other news sources portray conservatives that way, Fox changes the subject, because there's always a non-white protester or professor or Hollywood star whose words and deeds can be made to seem much more important than any conservative failure. There's always a threat to be averted -- a threat to the flag or Christianity or gun rights. There's always sharia law. There's always Hillary Clinton.

Trump learned that from Fox, and he's deploying it. He stole from the greats. Give them the credit, not him.

Sunday, September 24, 2017


Obviously, President Trump is attacking anti-racist pro athletes because he's a bigoted white guy. But there's more going on than that. There's also this:

Healthcare is hard -- unless you're going to go to single payer, which won't happen under Republicans, you're going to have a complicated system with many moving parts, and if you alter one of those parts, others will function very differently, probably to the detriment of million of Americans. Trump, as president, should have mastered all those details in order to confront the problems with our healthcare system. He never mastered the details and he never will, and he understands that now. He knows he can't just wave a wand and give everybody great healthcare for less money, or even fool people into believing that that's what they're getting. He has to deal with legislators, who get bogged down in the deep muddy of policy details. That's no fun.

North Korea isn't any easier -- sure, it's nice to say you'll kick "Rocket Man's" ass, but the generals know that it's a problem with no good solutions, so they've at least prevented Trump from just ordering a nuclear strike on Pyongyang.

So, in many policy areas, Trump's instincts are being constrained. But no force in Washington is going to constrain Trump if he wants to declare that the NFL should fire all the protesting players. On this, he can just be the angry guy at the end of the bar. That's what he enjoys the most. It's why, even now, he likes making campaign speeches much more than being president.

You can tell that Trump is motivated by more than just racism when he talks about sports because he also said this in his Alabama speech Friday night:
Regarding his nostalgia for the dangerous hits that college and pro football have been trying to take out of the game, Trump said: “Today if you hit too hard—15 yards! Throw him out of the game! They had that last week. I watched for a couple of minutes. Two guys, just really, beautiful tackle. Boom, 15 yards! The referee gets on television—his wife is sitting at home, she’s so proud of him. They’re ruining the game! They’re ruining the game. That’s what they want to do. They want to hit. They want to hit! It is hurting the game.
This is not a new complaint:
At a rally in Lakeville, Florida, during the Presidential campaign, Trump aroused the crowd by insisting that the N.F.L., which has hardly gone to great lengths to protect its players, was “ruining the game” by inflicting penalties on players who, say, hit the quarterback too late. “See, we don’t go by these new and very much softer N.F.L. rules. Concussion? Oh! Oh! ‘Got a little ding in the head—no, no, you can’t play for the rest of the season.’ Our people are tough.”
But this all adds up to a longing for a safe space in which problems are easily solved by wisecracking tough guys, enemies are shown their place, and real Americans can kick back on Sunday and watch hours of football without having their enjoyment sullied by appeals to social conscience or acknowledgment that the game's physical brutality damages lives. The paradise Trump conjures up for his overwhelmingly white fans is ultimately one in which they get everything they want, and the only cost is to people they don't like or, in the case of professional athletes, don't respect as human beings. And there's also the ego stroking: Our people are tough, as if the fans at that Lakeville campaign rally were personally taking vicious hits.

It's a dog's breakfast, but it all adds up to: We rule. Anyone who disagrees with us sucks and isn't worthy of the slightest respect.

Saturday, September 23, 2017


President Trump traveled to Alabama last night to campaign on behalf of Luther Strange, who's trying to hold on to his Senate seat. Trump delivered an 85-minute speech that was occasionally about Strange, but often about Trump's usual hobbyhorses -- "Crooked Hillary" and so on. It's hard to say whether that will help Strange in his upcoming Republican runoff against Roy Moore, who's leading in the polls.

Here's something Trump said that was actually about Strange (although you could argue that it was more about himself):
President Donald Trump claimed his branding genius extended to Sen. Luther Strange's "Big Luther" nickname, telling the crowd at Huntsville's Von Braun Center that he was the first person to give the senator that moniker....

Trump made the comments while sharing an anecdote about one of the first times he met Strange.

"I said, That is the tallest human being I've ever seen," the president said. "I'm tall, I never saw something ... like he should be on the New York Knicks they, could use him. That's why i call him 'Big Luther.' Everyone's now calling him Big Luther.'"

Trump returned back to the "Big Luther" nickname later on in his speech.

"Did people call you 'Big Luther before you met Trump? You know, I brand people," he said. Nobody ever called you 'Big Luther? I think it's a great name."
Strange has been using that nickname since his first run for office, which was in 2006. Here's a news story from that 2006 race:

In that race, which Strange lost, he was running against James Folsom, Jr., who was known as "Little Jim," even though he was a six-footer, because he was the son of "Big Jim" Folsom, a former governor of Alabama. You can also watch this ad from Strange's successful 2010 campaign for state attorney general:

Here's what I'm wondering: When Trump makes a claim like this, does he believe it?

My guess is no -- at least not at first. Swaggering into a public situation and claiming ownership of an idea that's not yours is probably a trick he picked up from his father, or from one of his mentors, probably Roy Cohn. I think he regards this as one of the things you need to do if you're serious about being a winner.

But I think, after a while, he probably doesn't remember that his lies are lies. After this election is over, Trump probably won't think about Strange very much -- but if Strange were to become a key player in the Senate, or were to get a job in the administration, Trump would probably continue to say this until he'd convinced himself that it was true.

In Trump's mind, I think that's now the status of his claim that he won the 2016 election in a huge landslide. I can also imagine that he now believes this, which was one of the digressions in his speech:
Trump called the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election "one of the great hoaxes," and said it is an "excuse" for Democrats after they lost the contest.

"Honestly, it's the thing they did best," Trump said of Democrats. "They did a rotten job of running, but they convinced people of this hoax. That was probably the thing that they did best, but it was one great hoax."

He added: "No, Russia did not help me, that I can tell you, OK?"
Is he lying about that, or is he just in denial? I think he believes it now.

Trump also said this:
President Donald Trump told an Alabama crowd Friday night that if "Crooked Hillary" Clinton had won the 2016 election, "you would not have a Second Amendment."

"You'd be handing in your rifles," Trump said. "You'd be turning over your rifles."
But that's a mass delusion. In the same way that I think Trump comes to believe convenient untruths about himself after he's repeated them a few times, the gun crowd has come to believe that every Democratic president wants to conduct mass confiscations -- even though it didn't happen in eight years of a Bill Clinton presidency and eight further years of a Barack Obama presidency.

What else did Trump say?
Trump also said he'd like to see NFL owners respond to players kneeling during the National Anthem by saying: "Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he's fired. He's fired!"

"For a week, (that owner would) be the most popular person in this country," Trump said....
I'm afraid that's true. Among white males in America, I think it's absolutely true.

And while we're on the subject of Trump and sports, I see that this just happened:
President Donald Trump on Saturday said he had withdrawn an invitation for the National Basketball Association champions Golden State Warriors to visit the White House after star player Steph Curry said that given the choice, he would not go.

"Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team.Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn!" Trump wrote on Twitter, the latest in a series of early morning tweets.
I think Trump will now tell himself that he kept Curry out of the White House. I think he'll really believe that about himself.

Friday, September 22, 2017


If there were still any polar ice caps, Erick Erickson's scorching-hot take on health and human services secretary Tom Price's profligate use of private planes would melt them all:
Liberals Are Upset Tom Price Has Made It Challenging to Try to Kill Him

I am old enough to remember James Hodgkinson, driven by insanity and leftwing rhetoric (but I repeat myself) on Obamacare, attempting a mass assassination of Republican members of Congress.

I am old enough to remember liberals attacking Trump supporters with Make America Great Again hats on right after the election.

I am old enough to remember Antifa protestors attacking police officers just a few weeks ago.

And I am old enough to remember the left declaring that anyone who helps Trump is a white supremacist who can be attacked on moral grounds.
See what he does there? He lists examples of actual political violence by specific left-leaning groups and individuals, then claims to have observed "the left declaring that anyone who helps Trump is a white supremacist who can be attacked," as if we had a meeting of the Progressive Politburo and voted to make physical violence against conservatives mandatory for all card-carrying lefties.

But Erickson was talking about Tom Price.
So it is really damn rich to watch reporters and liberal activists complaining about the Secretary of Health and Human Services taking private flights while on the job. The left has not only become increasingly violent, but they have started grounding their violence in the language of moralism.
In 2010, Erickson threatened to pull a shotgun on census workers, and he grounded that threat in "the language of moralism":
... Erickson said he would “pull out [his] wife’s shotgun” if a census worker came to try to jail him for not filling out his census form.

“This is crazy,” Erickson said ... on WMAC’s In the Morning with Erick Erickson of the census. “What gives the Commerce Department the right to ask me how often I flush my toilet? Or about going to work? I’m not filling out this form. I dare them to try and come throw me in jail. I dare them to. Pull out my wife’s shotgun and see how that little ACS twerp likes being scared at the door. They’re not going on my property. They can’t do that. They don’t have the legal right, and yet they’re trying.”
After Erickson said that, should every census taker in America have had the right to fly in private planes paid for by the government?

More from Erickson now:
Tom Price is in charge of the cabinet position that oversees Obamacare. Democrat members of Congress say Tom Price and his Republican colleagues would kill you and your children.

And you want him walking through a public airport? ...

Every single Cabinet secretary should be flying private given Antifa, the so called Resistance, and rise of violent leftwing nutters.
In fact:


Erickson then writes:
But Tom Price in particular, given people like James Hodgkinson and Jimmy Kimmel, should particularly stay out airports.
(Emphasis added.)

Yes, that's right: Freedom of speech is now assassination incitement if it comes from the left, according to Erickson. If Jimmy Kimmel demands a healthcare system that gives a chance to kids with cancer who are poorer than his own kids, that's a clear and present danger, according to Erickson.

Erickson adds:
My goodness, I tweeted out that I had no problem with this and was bombarded by angry leftists saying they had a right to let their voices be heard and confront Tom Price. So yes, they are admitting they want to confront him at the airport
First of all, if Erickson is referring to this tweet, I'm scrolling and scrolling through the replies and I don't see anyone "bombarding" him with assertions of the right to confront Tom Price. I do see replies like this:

Beyond that: Are we now living in a monarchy? Is speaking to public officials no longer allowed? Erickson uses the word "confront" in order to blur the line between violence and the citizenry exercising free speech rights. No one has a right to physically harm Price. But we have every right to give him a piece of our minds. Public officials are not supposed to be an elite caste in this country. I'm old enough to remember when public officials were called "servants of the people."

Price once took a private plane from D.C. to Philadelphia, for a five-figure sum. Dude, rent a freaking Zipcar.


I'm sure I don't have to tell you that Roy Moore -- soon to be the junior senator from Alabama -- really loves God:
Controversial former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore warned that America was falling apart because of things like transgender troops in the military.

“Our foundation has been shaken. Crime, corruption, immorality, abortion, sodomy, sexual perversion sweep our land. When we become one nation under God again, when liberty and justice for all reigns across our land, we will be truly good again,” he said in his first and only one-on-one debate against appointed Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL).

The comments came shortly after he said he wanted to free the country and military from “political correctness and social experimentation like transgender troops in our bathrooms.”
Last week on the campaign trail, there was this:
The man most likely to be Alabama’s next senator told his supporters late last week that rape, murder and child abuse are on the rise — and are so because of Americans’ lack of faith....

Moore later read one of his poems — about how America is falling apart.

Some choice lines:

“Babies piled in dumpsters, abortion on demand,
Oh, sweet land of liberty, your house is on the sand.”

“We’ve voted in governments that are rotting to the core,
Appointing Godless judges who throw reason out the door.
Too soft to put a killer in a well deserved tomb,
But brave enough to kill that child before he leaves the womb.

You think that God’s not angry, that our land’s a moral slum?
How much longer will it be before His judgment comes?”
We've been told that the new right doesn't have much use for the Christian right, but at Breitbart, John Nolte is lavishing praise on Moore:
Time and again, I heard people say of Trump, I don’t agree with everything he says, but I’m damn glad he is saying it.

That statement reveals a key part of Trump’s appeal. Even those who were not completely onboard with him policy-wise or with the Birther stuff, they still understood that Trump was freeing our society, breaking the despotic chains of political correctness, making it okay to not whisper....

Which brings me to outsider U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, who is like a Super Trump in this respect, a place for all that energy to go if you want to continue Making the First Amendment Great Again.

While I may not agree with everything Moore has said or done ... Moore is a walking-talking iconoclast, a swaggering symbol of True Americanism (if you believe “True Americanism” means being allowed to be who you want to be). Moore is a Super Trump in the vanguard against this encroaching fascism that our wannabe oppressors veil as sensitivity and correctness.

How can you not love that this guy said to a left-wing Washington Post reporter, “Sodomy is against the laws of nature”?

Or that he expresses his religious beliefs so unapologetically, “You think that God’s not angry that this land is a moral slum. How much longer will it be before his judgment comes?”

Or that he is basically running on this platform: “We have forgotten the source of our rights” ... “We put ourselves above God. And in so doing, we forgot the basic source of our morality.”

If you want to be a U.S. senator, you are not supposed to say those things.

But he is saying what you are not supposed to say, and whether or not you agree, until Roy Moore attempts to encroach on your beliefs and freedoms, we should all celebrate his strident violation of these tyrannical things we call norms.
So it doesn't matter whether you agree with him on everything (or anything, I suppose) -- he's politically incorrect and that induces liberal tears, so go Roy!

Yes, I know: Steve Bannon has ordered wall-to-wall pro-Moore coverage at Breitbart, and Nolte is just giving the boss what he wants. But still: Nolte called Moore a "Super Trump"! Twice!

Couldn't the religious right's message make a comeback among Breitbart-style alt-rightists? The alt-right wants white Christians to rule America -- isn't that compatible with the Christian right's support for theocracy in America? Many alt-rightists believe in "men's rights," which means they believe most women are evil sluts who ill-advisedly refuse to sleep with them. Isn't the Christian conservative message compatible with at least some of that? Alt-rightists believe that non-whites and non-Christians are gaining power in America in part because of declining white Christian birthrates. Couldn't they find common ground on that with the Christian right? Couldn't they agree that tolerance of abortion, homosexuality, and nontraditional views of gender among white non-conservatives is a big part of that problem?

The religious right politicians with national reputations -- Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum -- don't have much swagger. I wonder whether a cocksure, self-important religious rightist -- a Christian conservative Trump, I guess -- could win over the alt-right.

I hope we never find out.

Thursday, September 21, 2017


So this is going to happen:
CNN anchor Jake Tapper and chief political correspondent Dana Bash will moderate a Town Hall Debate on the fight over Obamacare at 9 p.m. ET on Monday, Sept. 25.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) will debate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) in this 90-minute Town Hall Debate that will air live from Washington, D.C.
A lot of people are concerned:

Former President Obama’s National Security Council spokesman said Thursday a proposed health care debate between Republican and Democratic senators is not “the debate we want right now.”

“I'm not sure single payer vs Graham-Cassidy is the debate we want right now,” Tommy Vietor, a co-host of the “Pod Save America” podcast, said.
I think this is a legitimate concern: Will Sanders be debating on behalf of retaining Obamacare? Or will he undermine Obamacare by portraying it as seriously flawed?

Dave Weigel suggests that this concern might be overstated:
Starting in January, shortly after becoming the Senate Democrats’ political outreach chair, Sanders helped organize health-care rallies meant to preempt any repeal of the ACA. Throughout 2017, Sanders used campaign funds (he is running for reelection in 2018) to give speaking tours in the states of senators who were seen as on the fence about repeal....

The news of next week’s CNN debate jogged their memories of a similar CNN event in February, where Sanders and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) sparred over health care. At the time, Sanders pivoted from Cruz’s attacks on the ACA to his own arguments for universal care, including praise of single-payer systems in Europe.

“That was a very different moment in this debate,” said Miller-Lewis. “Bernie’s been saying for months that he knows single-payer isn’t going to pass next week. This is about making the argument to save the ACA.”
If you're a repeal opponent, the Sanders rhetoric in his rallies earlier this year was partly reassuring, partly unsettling. Here's what he said in Macomb County, Michigan, shortly before Trump's inaugural:
"Our job today is to defend the Affordable Care Act. Our job tomorrow is to create a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system," Sanders [said].

"Let me be very clear, there are differences of opinion on the Affordable Care Act — some people like it, some people don't like it — but very few Americans believe that we should repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement program to make it better. We are saying to our Republican colleagues: We will not let you throw up to 30 million Americans off of health insurance."
If Sanders emphasizes the latter point -- that it's unconscionable to vote for a replacement that will make healthcare worse -- then he'll be all right. If not....

Obamacare is on the line, but so is Sanders's status as a national leader. The conventional wisdom is that Democrats are hopelessly split between a Sanders wing and a Hillary Clinton wing -- but as a HuffPost/YouGov poll recently noted, 71% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents view Clinton favorably and 73% view Sanders favorably. Most Democrats like both of them.

But what if Sanders's critics are right? What if he's less than enthusiastic about Obamacare, and is perceived as losing the debate for the pro-Obamacare side? And what if Republicans then succeed in passing Graham-Cassidy?

He could come to be seen as the man who killed Obamacare. Some people who think that that creates a huge opening for single payer will be happy -- but single payer can't be debated seriously until 2021 at the earliest, and in the meantime we'll be living in the Trumpcare era. A lot of people are not going to be happy. A lot of people are going to start losing coverage. The suffering is going to begin. Many people who now think of Sanders as a leader of Democrats (even though he's not a member of the party) are going to hold him accountable for that.

Sanders critics tend to be more optimistic about the other member of the anti-Trumpcare debate team, Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar. I just hope she's a powerful enough defender of Obamacare. Here she is in a July TV appearance in Minnesota:

"I said the day the Affordable Care Act passed, this is a beginning and not an end, and we need to make changes," she says. I hope she doesn't undermine the law from the left-center as Sanders undermines it from the social democratic left. You can be sure that Graham and Cassidy won't be conceding many points.


The Kaiser Family Foundation has a new report on the likely winning and losing states if the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill is passed. Something jumped out at me in this Talking Points Memo story about the Kaiser report:
Overall, the report estimates, states would see $160 billion less in federal health care funding over the next decade under the proposed law, with 35 states and D.C. losing federal dollars. But Medicaid expansion states would bear the heaviest burden by far, losing 11 percent of federal support on average. Republican-controlled states that did not expand Medicaid, however, would get an average increase of 12 percent.

The biggest losers under the bill would be high population, progressive states. California, New York, and Pennsylvania would lose $56 billion, $52 billion and $11 billion dollars respectively.
California and New York, sure -- it's no surprise that President Trump and congressional Republicans would want to punish those bastions of liberal depravity. But Pennsylvania? One of the beacons of glowing red on the president's much-beloved electoral map?

A check of the Kaiser numbers also shows that Michigan -- another of Trump's red gems -- stands to lose nearly $5 billion between now and 2026.

Wisconsin didn't go for the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, so it's expected to gain nearly $3.5 billion. But another state Trump won by an eyelash, Florida, stands to lose more than $7.5 billion. North Carolina -- another close one for Trump -- is expected to lose $5.7 billion. Minnesota -- which Trump nearly won and which he probably thinks he could win in 2020 -- will lose more than $8 billion.

All so solidly red states can get more, as TPM notes:
The biggest winners would be the deep red South: Texas would see $34 billion more, and Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi would see $10 billion, $7 billion, and $6 billion bumps respectively over the first decade.
And these changes start taking place in ... 2020.

However, Jonathan Chait has pointed out that the law allows for tinkering with the numbers:
... starting in 2020, the secretary of Health and Human Services is authorized to adjust the formula “according to a population adjustment factor developed by the Secretary.”

The bill says that adjustment must be based on “legitimate factors,” but otherwise places no specific limitations. So, if President Trump wanted, say, to reward a political loyalist or punish a political foe, he could order the secretary to come up with any facially plausible reason to shift around money as he sees fit.... A Republican senator who gets too nosy about, say, the Russia scandal might suddenly learn that his or her state’s health-care needs were less serious than previously believed.
So maybe this will all be tweaked in the interests of salvaging Trump's 2020 electoral map.


Democrats assume that the 2018 elections will be a referendum on President Trump's corruption, extremism, incompetence, ignorance, and coddling of Vladimir Putin. They assume it will be a referendum on Republican efforts to gut the Obama health care law, especially if those efforts are successful.

The right has other ideas. Portions of the right -- the same people who made major issues of the "Ground Zero mosque" in 2010 and Ebola in 2014 -- would like to make 2018 a referendum on how Democrats want all decent people killed by lawless thugs running amok in the streets. Did you know, for instance, that Hillary Clinton -- a woman many lefties decry as a neoliberal sellout -- is actually one of the principal sponsors of Antifa violence?

That's what Pam Geller told her readers yesterday:
Clinton Moved $800,000 From Her Campaign to Help Fund Antifa

Hillary Clinton — the same Hillary Clinton who spent her campaign months talking up the dangers of “dark money” in politics — was just outed for moving about $800,000 of the cash stashed for her presidential run to antifa groups.

Her source is Gateway Pundit -- and yes, I know all of you think of GP's Jim Hoft as "the stupidest man on the Internet," but he's made his site a very influential source of factually dubious propaganda, so he's not all that stupid:
EXPOSED: Hillary Clinton Moved 800K From Her Campaign To Help Fund ANTIFA

... It has been revealed that the failed presidential candidate’s Super-PAC, “Onward Together”, is heavily backing “resistance” and Alt-Left extremist groups such as ANTIFA.

In building investigations, Daily Caller first discovered that Hillary transferred a mass sum of money from her campaign over to Onward Together:
Clinton transferred $800,000 from her failed 2016 presidential campaign to Onward Together shortly before announcing the group’s launch in May, documents the campaign filed with the FEC reveal.
Now, today, it has been revealed by Offended America exactly where that money is going....
The Daily Caller story never says that Clinton is funding Antifa groups. All it says is that Onward Together announced in May that it "would be partnering with five left-wing political groups: Indivisible, Swing Left, Color of Change, Emerge America and Run for Something" -- all of which are decidedly non-violent -- but none have acknowledged receiving any money from Clinton's PAC. That's largely because four of the five groups wouldn't talk to the Caller:
The Daily Caller reached out to all five political groups, asking them to confirm that Onward Together has, in fact, been funding and supporting their groups. Only one group responded to the TheDC’s repeated requests: Indivisible, the Soros-backed “resistance” group.
A few paragraphs down, the Caller tells us that Onward Together was seeded partly with that $800,000 transferred from Clinton's campaign.

Offended America -- no, I'd never heard of it before, either -- made the Antifa connection (and the $800,000 connection) simply by asserting that all the cited groups are "Antifa linked," and by flipping the Daily Caller story on its head: While the Caller implies that Clinton is doing nothing for progressive causes, Offended America insists that the failure of left-wing groups to talk to the Caller proves that they're hiding something.
Hillary’s Dark-Money Super-PAC Looted $800K From Her Campaign to Support Antifa

Amid doubts that Hillary’s PAC was doing anything at all with the donations that it was receiving, Daily Caller reached out to five different Antifa linked groups, and only one was willing to deny donations from Onward Together. Soros-linked group, Indivisible, denied receiving financial support from Clinton or Onward Together.
There's fake news that's just made up out of nothing -- Pizzagate, the pope's endorsement of Trump -- and then there's fake news like this, which plays on the riled-up right-wing readers' assumption that all left-ing political organizations are indistinguishable from Antifa.

Your right-wing uncle will be sending out a link to at least one of these stories any minute now.

Of course, right-wingers already believe that there isn't an inch of daylight between Democrats and perpetrators of political violence in response to police brutality. They think every supporter of Black Lives Matter endorses rioting and cop-killing, so we get stories like this, from World Net Daily:

The St. Louis Young Democrats are working hand-in-hand with Black Lives Matter to organize protests in the city....

The Young Democrats tweeted Wednesday at about 12:20 p.m. that the next “protest” in response to the not-guilty verdict in the Jason Stockley trial was planned for Wednesday evening, instructing rioters where to show up and at what time, hashtagging #Black Lives Matter on the tweet....

While the Young Democrats can claim they are calling for peaceful protests, that claim is dubious at best, given their connections with Black Lives Matter, a known radical group that espouses violence and has been seen on video kicking in storefront windows, spraying unknown chemicals and throwing rocks at police.
And while we're on the subject of the right linking Democrats to violence, here's an ad Republican Ed Gillespie is running against Democrat Ralph Northam in the Virginia governor's race:

The Washington Post explains:
Ed Gillespie, who for years pressed fellow Republicans to make their party more welcoming to minorities, on Wednesday unveiled a hard-hitting TV ad that blames his Democratic rival for Virginia governor for the resurgence of the MS-13 street gang....

The ad was based on a tiebreaking vote Northam cast in the state Senate this year, against a bill that would have prohibited the establishment of sanctuary cities in the state.
Virginia actually has no sanctuary cities. And in any case, sanctuary cities pursue criminal cases against gang members -- they just won't routinely detain undocumented immigrants on the federal government's behalf beyond the time they're required to be in the local criminal justice system. But there's an election going on, so don't expect nuance.

In 2018, Democrats are going to be running against Trump and the GOP Congress. Republicans are going to be running against criminal gang members, looters, and cop-killers, whom they'll try to hang around Democrats' necks. And it might work.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


Breitbart pulished this piece by John Nolte yesterday:

According to the latest census figures, white people make up 61.3 percent of the American population. Rounding out those numbers, Hispanics (17.8 percent), blacks (13.3 percent), and Asians (5.7 percent), fill in most of the rest of our glorious melting pot. And yet...

The oh-so progressive left-wing television industry, the very same television industry that spent almost every minute of Sunday’s disastrously low-watched Emmy Award Show smugly blasting away at Trump and his supporters as unrepentant racists, looks nothing like America. Not even close.

In fact, the broad coalition of Trump’s “racist” supporters is much more racially diverse than the television industry.
It is? Do tell, John.
According to a just-released study, minority actors make up only 11.4 percent of the lead actors in television roles. Things are not much better for supporting non-white roles, where white actors “account for about three-quarters of the scripted roles on cable and broadcast.”
Yes, and a lot of non-whites and white liberals have criticized Hollywood for that over the years.

But you were talking about Trump. Tell us about his rainbow coalition of support.
Let us now compare Hollywood’s horrible record of racial diversity on television to the racial diversity of those Hollywood relentlessly blasts as racists, meaning: those awful Trump Supporters.

Only 58 percent of Trump supporters are white. Of that remaining non-white 42 percent, eight percent are black, while 29 percent are Hispanic.
John? No. You're absolutely wrong about this.

The statistics you cite (exit polling from the 2016 election) don't say that "58 percent of Trump supporters are white" -- they say that 58 percent of white voters voted for Trump.

Not the same thing at all.

Nolte repeats the error with the stats for blacks and Hispanics: They aren't, respectively, 8 and 29 percent of Trump voters -- Trump got only 8 percent of the black vote and 29 percent of the Hispanic vote.

According to one of Nolte's sources -- a table of exit poll results at the site of the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research -- whites were 70 percent of all voters in 2016, while blacks were 12 percent and Hispanics 11 percent. The exit poll gives Trump 44.75 percent of the vote (he actually got a bit more than that) -- and Trump's white voters were 40.6 percent of the total vote.

Do the math: That means that nearly 91 percent of Trump voters were white.

Even Hollywood gives more than 9 percent of its lead roles to non-whites.

But your right-wing uncle will send you a link to this story anyway. Which means your right-wing uncle doesn't understand math either.


Last night, Jimmy Kimmel said that Senator Bill Cassidy lied to him:
Late night host Jimmy Kimmel ripped into Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), one of the coauthors of the GOP’s latest effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, on his show Tuesday night. “This guy, Bill Cassidy, lied right to my face,” Kimmel said, encouraging his viewers to call members of Congress.

During the earlier health care debate, Cassidy received a fair bit of attention for coining what he called the Jimmy Kimmel Test, urging fellow lawmakers to protect people with preexisting conditions. Kimmel had called on Congress to do this after his son was born with congenital heart disease.

Since the summer, though, Cassidy has completely changed his mind, and is now sponsoring the GOP’s last effort to repeal Obamacare before a September 30 deadline. The bill Cassidy introduced earlier this month clearly fails his own test. It cuts billions in federal health spending and allows states to wipe out the vast majority of Obamacare’s rules protecting people with preexisting conditions....
Today Cassidy revised and extended his fact-challenged remarks:
Hours after a brutal takedown at the hands of late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) went on television Wednesday to respond.

But with literally his first sentence, Cassidy did the very thing that had drawn Kimmel’s ire: The senator made wildly misleading claims....

“There will be more people covered under the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson amendment than are under status quo and we protect those with pre-existing conditions,” Cassidy said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

That statement, similar to one Cassidy also made on CNN, is virtually impossible to defend.
Cassidy made a lot of statements today that can't be defended:

But is it fair to accuse Cassidy of dishonesty? Of lying?

He's a member of a party in which there are many adherent of the philosophy of Leo Strauss. As Andrew Sullivan wrote a few years ago, Straussians don't believe you and I deserve the truth:
Strauss argued that many critical texts in Western civilization were written with an esoteric teaching for the intelligent few, while presenting a less radical and palatable public doctrine for the masses. Hence the Straussian penchant for a noble lie – one that is good for the people to believe but which the elite knows is bullshit.
If you're a Republican, the need to cut people from the health care rolls is a necessity understood by "the intelligent few," while Cassidy's happy talk is "a less radical and palatable public doctrine for the masses." It's not dishonest! It's what's wise leaders must do in the interest of social cohesion!

So cut Bill Cassidy a break -- he's doing this for your own good.


BuzzFeed's Ben Smith is feeling a thrill up his leg:
Tomorrow, Bill Clinton will hand what used to be [Clinton Global Initiative]'s main event off to Mike Bloomberg. And Bloomberg is reviving part of the event’s original role as a kind of US government in exile....

Bloomberg’s move to take over the conference (renamed the Bloomberg Global Business Forum) hasn’t drawn much attention, but it’s worth seeing in that context: The former New York mayor is inheriting not a conference, but a platform for an alternative American diplomacy....

Bloomberg’s version has some of CGI’s trappings, with the added polish of the kind of government in exile he represents. This isn’t the former governor of Arkansas, balancing his pro-business policies with folksy populism. This is pure anti-Trumpism, globalist on the big issues of trade and climate, firmly progressive on social values....

Bloomberg's new stage is a sign that on the issues on which he's already begun to dog Trump — climate change, in particular — the former mayor is likely just getting started.
Last night's CBS Evening News devoted a full segment to Bloomberg.

Anchor Anthony Mason asked Bloomberg about subjects ranging from North Korea to immigration, ending with this:
MASON: Have you had any regrets at all that you chose not to run for president?

BLOOMBERG: Well, no. I think it would have been a great job. I would have loved the challenge. I don't think there's any question about that. But we did a lot of work and we in the end decided an independent can't win.

MASON: Does that mean you're never going to run again?

BLOOMBERG: Well, you know, I've joked that I'm gonna run for the president of my block association.
As 2020 approaches, I suspect you're going to see a hunger in the "liberal" media not for a Sanders or Warren or Harris or even Biden presidency, but for something that rids us of Trump without handing power to those icky Democrats. I think Bloomberg will be urged to run, and if not Bloomberg, then a dream "unity" ticket of Governors John Kasich and John Hickenlooper (with Kasich, of course, as the presidential nominee -- mustn't give those Democrats too much power!).

The 2020 Democratic primaries are highly unlikely to produce the daddy or dudebro candidate the media would prefer. (I'm an Obama fan, but he was a bit of both, which was part of the reason the media embraced him.) I think there'll be a lot of not-so-subtle rooting for Bloomberg and Kasich going into 2020 -- and a coldness toward most of the likely Democratic front-runners. I hope I'm wrong about this, but low expectations of the media are generally a wise idea.


... Also, I'm anticipating a certain amount of "Mitt Romney, save us!" talk from the mainstream media if Romney wins the Utah Senate seat next year. And no, I don't think Breitbart attacks on Romney will prevent him from winning this seat effortlessly.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


I see that Vladimir Putin is performing masculinity again:

A statue of Mikhail Kalashnikov, the inventor of the AK-47 assault rifle, has been unveiled in central Moscow in a controversial ceremony that merged military pomp with religious ritual.

The nine-metre (30ft) monument depicts Kalashnikov clutching his eponymous automatic weapon. Tuesday’s event was attended by high-ranking Russian officials including Vladimir Medinsky, the culture minister, and Petr Biryukov, Moscow’s deputy mayor.

“This is Russia’s cultural brand,” said Medinsky, before a Russian Orthodox priest blessed the statue.

“He created this weapon to defend his motherland,” said Father Konstantin, shrugging off suggestions that it was inappropriate to sprinkle holy water on a statue of a weapons designer. Some members of the crowd crossed themselves as the priest blessed the monument.
Okay, Putin wasn't performing masculinity there personally. He was elsewhere, passing up UN ceremonies in New York to do this:
Vladimir Putin watches display of Russian firepower near EU border

A large-scale Russian military exercise that has spooked western countries has entered its final phase, with helicopters, fighter jets, missiles and tanks employed at a firing range close to Russia’s border with the EU.

Vladimir Putin was among those watching the 45-minute display of firepower on a cold and rainy Monday afternoon at the Luga firing range, about 70 miles (113km) from the border with EU member state Estonia. The Russian president, joined by the defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, and a number of army generals, watched through binoculars from a viewing platform.
This is one of the biggest Russian military exercises since the end of the Cold War:
From September 14 to 20, the Russian and Belarusian militaries are holding a joint war game to simulate fending off an attack from Western powers. Russia says only 12,700 troops — as well as 70 planes and helicopters, 280 tanks, 200 artillery weapons, and 10 ships — are participating in the drills.

But foreign officials, including German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, believe the number is closer to 100,000. That’s significant because if a military exercise involves 13,000 troops or more, then foreign officials must be formally invited to watch, according to an international agreement — and the 12,700 number is suspiciously just under that mark.

Western leaders are especially worried about the exercise. NATO accused Russia of using the last Zapad drills in 2013 to prepare for its invasion of Ukraine the following year. Now some leaders, such as Lithuania’s Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis, fear having Russian troops amassed near NATO territory. "We can't be totally calm. There is a large foreign army massed next to Lithuanian territory," Karoblis told Reuters.
Meanwhile, our president just addressed the United Nations and scared the crap out of much of the world:
President Donald Trump threatened Tuesday to "totally destroy" North Korea and its "Rocket Man" leader, warned the "murderous" Iranian government that it cannot endure, and declared that much of the world is "going to hell."

In his first speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Trump also urged nations to band together to fight "evil" — even as he extolled the virtue of respecting national sovereignty and insisted that America isn't looking to impose its "way of life" on others.

The at-times contradictory remarks were filled with soaring rhetoric that touched on everything from "God" to "chaos," and the dark tones were reminiscent of Trump's inaugural address, in which he promised to bring an end to "American carnage."
Trump is also planning to increase the number of CIA drone strikes, while lifting restrictions intended to prevent civilian casualties. Oh, and of course he wants to have a huge military parade in Washington on July 4.

We have decapitation- and torture-happy drug gangs. We have ISIS losing territory and responding by urging followers to commit random acts of violence that get the Islamic State no closer to a caliphate, but mostly shed blood for the sake of shedding blood, publicly and very visibly, as if just being the most badass terrorists on the planet is ISIS's only goal now.

I don't know if we have a more dangerous world today than we've had in recent decades, but the world certainly seems to be more full of men who beat their chests and say, "Look! I'm dangerous! I'm really incredibly freaking dangerous! Pay attention to me! Respect my dangerousness!" Adult-bodied eleven-year-old boys acting out, in other words, with very dangerous weapons.


I know we're all enjoying the Robert Mueller news. But if we're waiting for the 34% to 40% of America that backs Donald Trump to come to its senses, the news makes that less likely, not more. Imagine being a Fox-watching, Limbaugh-listening, Breitbart-reading conservative and learning about this:
Paul J. Manafort was in bed early one morning in July when federal agents bearing a search warrant picked the lock on his front door and raided his Virginia home....

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, then followed the house search with a warning: His prosecutors told Mr. Manafort they planned to indict him, said two people close to the investigation.

The moves against Mr. Manafort are just a glimpse of the aggressive tactics used by Mr. Mueller and his team of prosecutors....

“They are setting a tone. It’s important early on to strike terror in the hearts of people in Washington, or else you will be rolled,” said Solomon L. Wisenberg, who was deputy independent counsel in the investigation that led to the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999....

“They seem to be pursuing this more aggressively, taking a much harder line, than you’d expect to see in a typical white-collar case,” said Jimmy Gurulé, a Notre Dame law professor and former federal prosecutor. “This is more consistent with how you’d go after an organized crime syndicate.”
If you're a Trumper, this (plus the leak of this) confirms everything you've ever believed about the ruthlessness of the "deep state" campaign to take down Trump. Even many Republicans -- yes, Roger Stone excepted -- eventually acknowledged that Richard Nixon was unfit to be president. The Trumpers, by contrast, will never come around. Certainly not after this.

They already believe that they were right about wiretapping, even though it was Manafort, not Trump, who was the target of a FISA wiretap warrant. I'm sure they'll never believe the timing of the Manafort wiretap warrant's renewal was anything but suspicious:
US investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election, sources tell CNN....

The government snooping continued into early this year, including a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Donald Trump....

A secret order authorized by the court that handles the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) began after Manafort became the subject of an FBI investigation that began in 2014. It centered on work done by a group of Washington consulting firms for Ukraine's former ruling party, the sources told CNN.

The surveillance was discontinued at some point last year for lack of evidence, according to one of the sources.
The FBI then restarted the surveillance after obtaining a new FISA warrant that extended at least into early this year.
It was reinstated during the year when Manafort ran the Trump campaign for a few months, and it continued after Trump was elected? No Trumper is ever going to believe that that was anything other than Obama vindictiveness against Trump.

Trump's fan base, of course, has already claimed vindication:

Richard Nixon resigned in the summer of 1974. Throughout that year, he had job approval ratings in the mid- to high 20s, according to Gallup. Shortly before he left office, he was at 24% approval. In the fall of 2008, George W. Bush had job approval ratings in the 20s, according to most polls; some showed his disapproval rating in the 70s.

I don't think Trump will ever go that low, even if he's impeached and convicted. Not even Charlottesville could push him past a Gallup floor of 34% approval; he's mostly been at 36% to 38% for the past several months. I think he'll leave office right about there. For about a third of the country, he'll remain a hero, in a way Nixon never was (except to Roger Stone) after Watergate, and in a way Bush wasn't by 2008. America is going to be living with Trump cultists for the foreseeable future.

Monday, September 18, 2017


I'm no fan of "Ten Commandments judge" Roy Moore, who's probably going to be the next U.S. senator from Alabama, but I'm inclined to let this slide:
While making the case for unifying the electorate, a candidate for Alabama's open Senate seat ended up saying something pretty divisive.

Roy Moore, a former chief justice on the state Supreme Court, was speaking against racial, political and other divisions at a rally in Florence, Ala., on Sunday when he inserted two words that have been historically used as slurs.

“We were torn apart in the Civil War — brother against brother, North against South, party against party,” he said. “What changed?

“Now we have blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting,” Moore added. “What’s going to unite us? What’s going to bring us back together? A president? A Congress? No. It’s going to be God.”
"Reds and yellows" is not what we should be calling Native Americans and East Asians these days. On the other hand, as Ed Kilgore notes, this is, in all likelihood, a phrase Moore conjured from a non-racist memory:
As perhaps the vast majority of adults in Alabama understood immediately, Moore was alluding, consciously or unconsciously, to this timeworn children’s song...

Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight / Jesus loves the little children of the world.
Ed's a Georgian, and I'm betting he was raised knowing that hymn. I'm a lapsed Catholic originally from Boston, but I knew it as the introduction to "Everything Is Beautiful," one of the more serious songs performed by the musical comic (and now right-wing crank) Ray Stevens. This song was a plea for racial harmony, and it was a big hit during my childhood. Only later was I informed that the first few lines were from a Protestant hymn.

I'm also going to cut Moore some slack because I recall the benediction delivered by the Reverend Joseph Lowery at Barack Obama's first inaugural in 2009. Lowery, a hero of the civil rights movement, was 87 years old at the time; near the end of the benediction, he said this:
Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around — (laughter) — when yellow will be mellow — (laughter) — when the red man can get ahead, man — (laughter) — and when white will embrace what is right.

Roy Moore has angered me many times. He'll anger me many more times. He'll do it deliberately -- his religiosity is clearly, in large part, an effort to induce liberal tears.

I don't think he said "reds and yellows" to offend anyone -- which makes the phrase a rare utterance for him. So I'm going to take more offense at his call for theocracy than I am athis racial language.


This was not a good moment for the otherwise Trump-skeptical Emmys last night:
Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer got a turn on one of Hollywood's glitziest stages Sunday night. And he used it to laugh about the falsehoods he told the American people in an attempt to rehabilitate his image.

... inherent in Spicer's appearance Sunday night was an acknowledgment that he sold the American people a bill of goods from the White House lectern. He essentially admitted to blatantly misrepresenting President Trump's inauguration crowd size, and he and those assembled all had a good laugh at it.

CNN's Brian Stelter asks, "Why did the Emmys help Sean Spicer rebrand?"
... he is hitting the speaker circuit, landing consulting gigs and looking for a potential TV commentator job. He will be a visiting fellow at Harvard Kennedy School's Institute of Politics this fall.

Many Democrats and some anti-Trump Republicans are offended that Spicer -- who peddled misinformation on behalf of his boss -- is being embraced by institutions like Harvard.

"Harvard and the Emmys based on 7 months lying in the WH," former Obama foreign policy adviser Ben Rhodes tweeted. "America is not exactly a meritocracy and false equivalence trumps reality."

... The MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell commented that the Emmys "helped Spicer pump up his 'lecture' fees, which is all that matters to him now."

While many of the objections came from liberals, some conservatives also made arguments against the skit.

"I know people who were offered opportunities to lie for Donald Trump and quietly declined. Harvard & The Emmys calling the wrong folks," former Jeb Bush spokesman Tim Miller tweeted.
And Spicer wasn't just warmly embraced during the broadcast:
Both sources who spoke with CNN on Monday morning marveled at the way Spicer was mobbed by Emmys attendees both at the awards show and at the parties afterward.

"He could barely eat at the Governor's Ball, he was so popular," one of the sources said.
As you can see:

But why should we be surprised? Yes, the entertainment industry has been harshly critical of the Trump administration -- but at the same time, entertainers, especially comedians, seem to imagine that individuals in Trump World are no more harmful than the fictional versions of themselves.

Melissa McCarthy's impersonation turned Spicer into a harmlessly absurd bully -- and then the Emmys turned Spicer into Melissa McCarthy. The Saturday Night Live version of the odious Kellyanne Conway portrays her, in the words of one culture critic, "in a weirdly sympathetic light," as "one part put-upon mother figure, and one part victim of Stockholm Syndrome. As a viewer, you’re set up to feel bad for how Conway has to put up with this blowhard, as if she didn’t a choice."

Melania Trump is regularly portrayed as her husband's victim, or even as his prisoner. Candice Bergen was on Bravo last week wearing a "Free Melania" sweatshirt -- a now-widespread comic trope that's also essentially the message of "The Arrangements," a short story by the novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which was published in The New York Times Book Review last summer. I might have sympathy for Melania myself if I hadn't watched her defend her husband's birtherism:

Trump is reckless, ignorant, vicious, and dangerous -- but, for some reason, his underlings are often treated as worthy of sympathy, especially if they seem to have been mistreated by him.

Also, Trump doesn't wield his power in predictable ways, so media figures want to cozy up to anyone who seems capable of decipher his thinking. Thus, while Steve Bannon is so nasty and unlikable that no one feels sorry for him, he was mostly deferred to by Charlie Rose on 60 Minutes earlier this month, apparently because Rose wanted Bannon to solve the mystery of our new political order.

On Spicer, I'll give Lauren Duca the last word:


This showed up at the Daily Caller last night:
Tucker: Trump Thinks TV More Accurately Reveals The Public’s Beliefs Than Polls Do

Fox News host and Daily Caller co-founder Tucker Carlson says President Trump told him that television programming is a more accurate reflection of the public’s beliefs than polling is.

“I know that he watches a lot of television. I know because I’ve talked to him about it at length, that he’s really interested in television, both the mechanics of it — he knows a lot about ratings and lighting, and producing and guest booking,” Carlson said on “The Jamie Weinstein Show.”

... Carlson told Weinstein that Trump “believes that television is a pretty clear window into what people care about.”

“He believes that television producers, especially of highly rated shows, understand what the public is interested in — what it fears, what it wants, what it loves. And so TV programming in some ways is a more accurate reflection of the public mood than polling,” Carlson said. “That’s his view, he said it to me. And that’s one of the reasons he watches a lot of television. Whether that’s true or not is an entirely debatable point, but he believes if you want to know where the country is, watch TV.”
Oh, okay -- Trump isn't just an old man addicted to his TV remote. He's doing research! As president of the United States, he's staying in touch with the pulse of the people by ... um, watching TV along with them. And not top-rated sports and entertainment programs, but, y'know, Morning Joe, which ordinary people don't watch. He's doing this to become better informed about regular Americans, the same way guys used to say they read Playboy to become better informed about politics and jazz.

Are we going to start hearing this on a regular basis? That Trump's TV addiction is really a populist's attempt to stay populist, and a media professional's attempt to stay on top of trends in his old field? Is this going to be like all the talk we heard during past Republican presidencies about how Reagan and George W. Bush weren't stupid at all, as snooty elitists insisted, but in fact had a unique, intuitive populist genius developed through non-elite means?

It would also seem that Trump's interest in "highly rated shows" is a tad selective. Saturday Night Live and Stephen Colbert got big ratings boosts when they began attacking Trump. American Horror Story got excellent ratings after suggesting that Trump's election would be one of the horrors depicted in the current season. MSNBC passed Fox in prime time ratings this year on the strength of anti-Trump coverage. (The lack of mentions in Trump's Twitter feed suggests that he rarely watches Maddow at all.)

Trump isn't staying connected to the public via TV. He's slacking off. He's half-learning things that he should be learning from briefing books. And he's hoping to get a fix of his favorite drug -- good publicity about himself.

Sunday, September 17, 2017


The New York Post's Page Six claims that women are flocking to a Manhattan plastic surgeon in order to be transformed into the president's favorite daughter.
A New York plastic surgeon says that since the 2016 Republican primaries, he has seen a deluge of patients who want to look like Ivanka Trump.

Dr. Norman Rowe says that since last summer, up to 50 clients have asked him to give them the Ivanka look — which he describes as widened cheekbones, a slender nose and large eyes.

Dr. Rowe says that patients can spend between $30-40,000 to achieve the look with temporary fillers and Botox, or $45-50,000 for what he calls the “Permanent Ivanka” — a version achieved with cheek implants and rhinoplasty. “I never saw [anyone drawing inspiration from Ivanka’s face] before the primary,” said Rowe, “since the summer of ’16 . . . [it’s been] maybe four a month; one a week.”
It's odd that Dr. Rowe is saying this now, because in March, when Allure asked him to comment on a report that Ivanka surgery is popular in China, he denied seeing a similar trend in his practice:
While there haven't been any recorded reports of Ivanka Trump–inspired cosmetic enhancements Stateside, New York City–based plastic surgeon Norman Rowe says he's seen a number of clients request procedures to create Westernized-looking features. "I don't see too many patients, including Asian clients, asking for cosmetic procedure to make them appear like a celebrity—except for patients who want noses like Megan Fox or lips like Khloé Kardashian, for example," Rowe tells Allure. "I do have Asian patients who see me for the creation of Westernized eyelids, though. This is a very popular procedure that is requested."
But now he says Ivankaplasty has been a trend since last summer. Go figure.

Rowe is pretty good at getting his name in the papers. Here he is in the Post talking about women who get plastic surgery before going to Coachella. Here he is telling the local ABC affiliate about one of his specialties, a procedure that gives women enhanced breasts for 24 hours -- he calls them "Instabreasts." If that doesn't suit you, according to ABC, Dr. Rowe can give you "vacation breasts" that are augmented for two to three weeks. The Daily Mail interviews Dr. Rowe about a penis enlargement technique that he claims can be done in ten minutes -- it involves an injection of the patient's own blood. Yeah, this guy knows how to get attention.

He's also been the subject of this New York Daily News story about billing practices:
Ann Winters got what she considered was a crazy medical bill the day her three-year-old son Brendan needed stitches to his lip after taking a fall at home.

The entire procedure took 60 minutes in the emergency room at Lenox Hill Hospital. The “explanation of benefits” that arrived soon after showed the doctor had charged $50,000....

Then she got a second “explanation of benefits” showing that her insurer had actually paid the entire $50,000. The insurer had initially pegged the customary cost for the procedure at $2,660....

... the physician in question — Dr. Norman Rowe — says the $50,000 the insurer paid him for three stitches was just a billing error.

“My billing staff caught the error shortly after the insurance company paid my office $50,000,” Dr. Rowe wrote in an email. “My office returned the $50,000 to the insurance company and has only been paid the customary amount for the patient’s care.”

But according to a March 2011 letter to Winter from Winter’s carrier, Healthnet, Rowe initially refused to accept the $2,660 as full payment and said “he was going to bill you for the unpaid balance.”

Stating that its policy is “to pay any additional amount as necessary,” Healthnet paid the rest.

It’s not clear exactly when Rowe paid back the insurer, though the recalibrated bill doesn’t show up in Winters’ Sept. 30, 2010 explanation of benefits.

In the months in between, she’d complained to the state Insurance Department (now the Department of Financial Services), which looked into the matter.
As my late mother would say, this guy's an operator. Forgive me if I don't trust him when he says Ivanka surgery is all the rage in Manhattan.

Saturday, September 16, 2017


So I assume you know about this story from The Wall Street Journal:
A U.S. congressman contacted the White House this week trying to broker a deal that would end WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s U.S. legal troubles in exchange for what he described as evidence that Russia wasn’t the source of hacked emails published by the antisecrecy website during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The proposal [was] made by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R., Calif.), in a phone call Wednesday with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly....

The possible “deal”—a term used by Mr. Rohrabacher during the Wednesday phone call—would involve a pardon of Mr. Assange or “something like that,” Mr. Rohrabacher said. In exchange, Mr. Assange would probably present a computer drive or other data-storage device that Mr. Rohrabacher said would exonerate Russia....

A Trump administration official confirmed Friday that Mr. Rohrabacher spoke to Mr. Kelly about the plan involving Mr. Assange. Mr. Kelly told the congressman that the proposal “was best directed to the intelligence community,” the official said.
This is a big deal. Alert the president!

Actually, no -- the president wasn't alerted:
Mr. Kelly didn’t make the president aware of Mr. Rohrabacher’s message, and Mr. Trump doesn’t know the details of the proposed deal, the official said.
Amazing -- not only is the president of the United States so easily excited, so easily led astray by pro-Russia fifth columnists, that his chief of staff believes he has to be shielded from information like this, as if he's a giant toddler, but the staff openly acknowledges to a major newspaper that this information has been concealed from the president.

Do Kelly and his subordinates think they can conceal the concealment from Trump? Do they think he'll never find out that he was never told about this?

Who knows? We recently read this:
... Mr. Trump does not have a web browser on his phone, and does not use a laptop, so he was dependent on aides like Stephen K. Bannon, his former chief strategist, to hand-deliver printouts of articles from conservative media outlets.

Now Mr. Kelly has thinned out his package of printouts so much that Mr. Trump plaintively asked a friend recently where The Daily Caller and Breitbart were.
So maybe Kelly won't include any stories about this in Trump's press packet. But wait -- what about TV? Kelly has acknowledged to the media that he can't prevent Trump from watching copious amounts of television.

I imagine this as a bad sitcom episode -- Kelly urging a White House maid to vacuum in front of Trump's TV as the Fox & Friends weekend crew begins talking about the Rohrabacher story. I don't think it'll work, though, and that also seems like a sitcom -- "Lucy! Why didn't you tell me Dana Rohracher was here?" Hilarity ensues -- or maybe John Kelly's resignation.