Monday, June 24, 2019

TRUMP-HALEY 2020? NOT GOING TO HAPPEN, OBVIOUSLY.

Andrew Stein, the allegedly-still-Democratic former Manhattan borough president and onetime Ann Coulter main squeeze who's also a convicted tax evader, has an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal today arguing that President Trump should dump his running mate.
I’m proud to have founded the Democrats for Trump movement in 2016. President Trump’s pro-growth policies have revived the stagnating U.S. economy, and he deserves a second term. But to have the best chance of re-election, he should replace Vice President Mike Pence on the ticket with Nikki Haley.

... [Pence has] given Mr. Trump all the help he can. He inspired his fellow evangelical Christians to take a chance in 2016. But in 2020 they’ll already be repelled by the Democrats’ embrace of infanticide. Mr. Trump’s greater obstacle to re-election comes from politically moderate suburban women, many of whom see him as divisive.

... Nikki Haley on the ticket could tamp down the antipathy for Mr. Trump that seems to afflict so many moderate and Republican-leaning women. President Trump needs the prospect of a Vice President Haley to help recapture the White House.
This would probably work -- the mainstream media isn't wild about Pence, but it seems likely to embrace Haley. (Here's the ed board of The New York Times telling us, at the time of her resignation as UN ambassador, that "Nikki Haley Will Be Missed"; here's a Haley puff piece in Vogue.)

But it won't happen, and not just because presidents don't dump their vice presidents anymore. (The last to do it was Gerald Ford, whose VP was Nelson Rockefeller but who ran in 1976 with Bob Dole. The last to dump a VP who'd previously been on the ticket was FDR, who did it twice.) It's clear that Trump doesn't respect norms and has no problems with personnel chaos; he'd dump Pence if he wanted to.

But he doesn't want to. For all that he's done to please right-wing evangelicals, Trump clearly feels insecure about their support. Even though they'd pick him over any other candidate because the Democrat will be pro-choice and pro-LGBT, he still thinks he's vulnerable. And why would he want Pence gone? Pence couldn't be more servile.

And Haley, although she calls herself a Methodist now, was raised Sikh by her Indian-born parents. (She was born in South Carolina.) This doesn't always go over well.



She's also been chastised by Breitbart for saying nice things about immigrants:
“Immigrants are the fabric of America,” the former governor of South Carolina said on the May 5 Ben Shapiro podcast, effectively dismissing Americans and their children. She continued:
It’s what makes us great. We need as many immigrants as we can. We need the skills, we need the talent, we need the culture. We need all of that.
Haley did not try to explain why roughly 215 million adult Americans and their 65 million children need legal immigrants or temporary migrants, including the roughly 500,000 Indian visa workers who have taken white-collar jobs from Americans, often after getting workplace training from the Americans they replaced.
Trump also says nice things about legal immigrants sometimes, but he's white and of Northern European extraction. Haley isn't. She'd win moderate voters, but alienate Trump's base, especially the overt racists. She might be a net plus for him, but he'd never make the move.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

HOW ARE RIGHT-WINGERS LYING TO US THIS WEEKEND?

Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel tweeted this yesterday:



In this clip, does Booker really talk about Farrakhan "like he's a saint"? No, and Ronna Romney McDaniel knows that. She assumes that even though the clip is only 48 seconds long, her intended audience is so primed to hate all Democrats that they'll never click on it -- they'll simply accept her characterization.

Here's what Booker says when asked whether he'd have be willing to have an "audience" with Farrakhan:
You know, I have met-- I live in Newark, so we have famous Mosque 25, we have Nation of Islam there. As mayor I met with lots of folks. I've heard Minister Farrakhan's speeches for a lot of my life, so I don't feel like I need to do that, but I'm not one of these people that says I wouldn't sit down with anybody to hear what they have to say. But I live on a neighborhood where I'm getting guys on the streets offering and selling his works. I'm very familiar with Minister Louis Farrakhan and his beliefs and his [inaudible].
In Booker's position, I wouldn't meet with Farrakhan at all. Farrakhan is a hatemonger. But the characterization of Booker in this tweet is wrong. He's not praising Farrakhan in any way. He's saying that Farrakhan is a man of some influence (which he is), that he doesn't feel any need to meet with him, but also that he doesn't like to categorically reject meeting with people.

Ronna Romney McDaniel has the opportunity to call Booker on hypocrisy -- he chastised Joe Biden after Biden patted himself on the back for working well with segregationist senators -- but she doesn't even bring up the hypocrisy angle, because Booker is talking about a black, anti-Semitic hatemonger. In the GOP ranking system, anti-Semites score much higher on the hate scale than those who hate black people. But the bottom line is that Booker never talks about Farrakhan "like he's a saint."

****

Now we move on to Jim Hoft's brother Joe at Gateway Pundit:
VIDEO: Democrat Leaders Pelosi and Schumer Caught on Camera Doing Victory Dance After They Thought They Goaded Trump into War with Iran!

... On Friday before President Trump decided not to drop bombs on Iran for knocking down a US drone, the President met with Congressional leaders in the White House to discuss the situation.

After the meeting, Democrat Senate leader Chuck Schumer from New York and Democrat Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, could be seen cheering outside the White House. As they approached their cars, Schumer raised his hands in victory and Pelosi was smiling and cheering on Schumer....



The Democrat leaders clearly wanted President Trump to make a wrong move so they could criticize him endlessly for getting America into another bloody war. They don’t care about protecting the US, standing for justice or protecting innocent lives.

It is clear that the Democrats are not about protection of human lives or what is best for the USA. These leaders seek power. What wicked people.
Is that really why Schumer was exultant? No. A Washington Post reporter explains what was really going on:



They just lie and lie and lie.


Saturday, June 22, 2019

E. JEAN CARROLL'S REVELATION WAS AN EXERCISE IN FUTILITY, BUT NOT FOR THE REASON SHE EXPECTED

Advice columnist E. Jean Carroll claims she was raped by Donald Trump in the dressing room of a Manhattan department story in the 1990s, when she was in her early fifties and he was approximately fifty. She's now revealing the rape in a New York magazine excerpt from her new book, but she says she never previously reported it for several reasons: fear of Trump's lawyers at the time, and, more recently, her recognition that many other women had accused Trump of attacks, only to be met with his denials. Also:
I run the risk of making him more popular by revealing what he did.

His admirers can’t get enough of hearing that he’s rich enough, lusty enough, and powerful enough to be sued by and to pay off every splashy porn star or Playboy Playmate who “comes forward,” so I can’t imagine how ecstatic the poor saps will be to hear their favorite Walking Phallus got it on with an old lady in the world’s most prestigious department store.
But they don't believe it happened, and that's their measure of how impressive a Walking Phallus he is. They don't believe he's a sexual ubermensch who had his way with E. Jean Carroll. They believe that because he's a sexual ubermensch, he wouldn't (as they see it) stoop to her level.

At Free Republic, a commenter posts a photo of Carroll from a couple of years ago, when she was seventy-three. At the time she was dying her hair a bright orange:



And so the sniggering begins -- and I warn you, this gets nasty:
Anybody who would jump her, even when she was 30 years younger and presumably better looking, would have to have some serious issues (and not be getting any, which pretty much rules out the young Donald Trump).

After looking at that picture again, I may have to start drinking even earlier than usual. Ugh.

****

No Way. In her dreams maybe. She looks like a geriatric Raggedy Ann. Trick or Treat.

****

Yeah. Someone needs to post a Melania pic. STAT. Eye bleach.

****

trump should claim she was begging him for sex...

****

That’s a man, baby!

****

Actually, to be accurate, Raggedy ANDY.

****

I’m pretty sure President Trump has better taste in women than that. ROTFL. More lies from a lefty.
There's more of this at Townhall:
Well, Ms. Carroll, we're all sorry for you that your wild fantasies of our president could never be a reality for you. Seems like you had the hots for him, like another horse face we know.

****

another dired up useless cumdumpster trying to sell a narcissistic book that no one will ever read. Go away ugly cow, your day in the sunshine has passed. We aren't buying your decades old lies to sell a book.

****

Now lets think about this for a moment. Take a look at Melenia, then look at E. Jean Coatrack. Even on a bad day Trump had more taste than to go into a dressing room in a major NY Department Store, find a woman he doesn't know, allow her' to engage him about buying lingerie, ensures that he follows her to the dressing room, allegedly assaults her, then causally walk away? Then she doesn't tell anyone (other then a couple of gal pals), no noise, no clamor, no scandal - in NYC? So, in the end of the day, was she at the same party that Ballsy Ford went to, or did she mentor Jussie Smollet to grow up to be the liar he is?
That's the other argument made by the commenters: Evil libs lie all the time -- Christine Blasey Ford is invoked repeatedly as a proven liar -- and this just is just more of the same. (Trump is the real victim here!)

Gosh, I can't imagine why more women don't report sexual assaults, especially against powerful, admired men.

Friday, June 21, 2019

DID TRUMP GIN UP A NEAR-WAR BECAUSE HE COULDN'T BEAR CEDING THE NEWS CYCLE TO DEMOCRATS?

The Trump administration, I assume, sent a drone into, or awfully close to, Iranian airspace, in the hope of ... what? Giving the administration an excuse to start a war? But the president passed on an opportunity to launch retaliatory strikes, claiming he learned at the last minute that the attack would kill 150 civilians.

Why did this happen now?

I keep thinking about a Politico story I quoted earlier this week:
Donald Trump wants his Democratic competitors for the White House to introduce themselves to the American public next week on his terms.

Ahead of the first two Democratic presidential primary debates next Wednesday and Thursday, the president and his political team are angling to dominate the news cycle with carefully released tidbits meant to keep the public hooked on the machinations of the commander in chief....

Just as Trump has dictated so much of the political narrative over the last four years, the president’s team is hoping the two Democratic debates simply morph into liberal candidates reacting to the president instead of putting forward their own visions for the country, policy proposals or personal stories.
Is that the explanation for the Iran saber-rattling? Also, is that the explanation for why this is about to happen now?
President Trump has directed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to conduct a mass roundup of migrant families that have received deportation orders, an operation that is likely to begin with predawn raids in major U.S. cities on Sunday, according to three U.S. officials with knowledge of the plans.

The “family op,” as it is referred to at ICE and the Department of Homeland Security, is slated to target up to 2,000 families in as many as 10 U.S. cities, including Houston, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles and other major immigration destinations....
Trump hated the Iran nuclear agreement, and he began promising to round up undocumented immigrants during the 2016 campaign, so these developments were inevitable. But the timing seems suspicious. Trump can't stand giving up the spotlight. I qwonder what else he has planned for the next few days.

(It's also possible that all this was meant to distract from advice columninst E. Jean Carroll's bombshell claim that Trump raped her in a department-store dressing room in the 1990s, which was published today, and which Trump undoubtedly knew was imminent. Or it could be happening for both reasons.)

A prediction about the Iran attack: Trump will eventually say he's surprised that Democrats aren't praising him for aborting it. Recall what he's said about firing James Comey:
... everybody wanted him fired, all the Democrats. I mean, virtually everybody, the Democrats thought he was horrible. The Republicans thought he was horrible.

And I said, you know, this is going to be wonderful. I’m going to fire this guy. When he gets fired, I think it would be popular. It thought it was go going to be bipartisan firing.

And he got fired and the Democrats sat back and they though, and the same people that two days earlier saying how horrible he was, were saying, oh, this is a terrible thing.



If there's never an attack on Iran, I predict Trump will say that about the Democrats: They were against an attack, but when I stopped it they were still upset! The ingrates!

WINGNUT FIND A CULPRIT FOR THE IRAN CRISIS: JOHN KERRY

Major news outlets are reporting that President Trump ordered a strike on Iran, then canceled it just as it was about to take place. At Jim Hoft's Gateway Pundit, many of the commenters think they know who's responsible for the tension in the region: John Kerry.
... I think the Iranians are working under the advice and consent of Kerry, Feinstein, Obama, the EU and the globalist, communist, islamist, antiWhite, antiMale, antiAmerican, antiLife, multinational corporate and financial cabal. The world knows there is absolutely no possibility of unseating PDJT if they are running against peace and prosperity. They also know if he wins in 2020 they are done.

****

And you win the internet for the day!!! Kerry was just over there and quite POSSIBLY passed on information about this through sources....Turds need to be taken out with extreme prejudice...

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I expect that eventually we will learn that Kerry, Obama and Brennan are working with Iran and are behind this whole crisis.

****

... I believe, John Kerry advised iran's leaders, how to motivate our President. That was Kerry's purpose when he broke federal law, Logan act in his recent visit to the muhlars a while back.

Not only would a retaliatory action ordered by Trump, provide addition ammo for the dems impeachment efforts, it would serve as a distraction from the Barr, DOJ investigations. of obozo, fbi, nsa, cia, fisa courts.

A active conflict between the US, Iran wold allow the msm to actively attack Trump...

****

Kerry is working closely with Obama. Both need grounding, like in a prison cell.

****

Trump probably suspects this was a deep state false flag effort to drag him into a war with Iran.

****

Kerry being the point man.

****

... BUSH< HILLARY KERRY< OBAMA and other members of the deepstate behind this false flag event

Kerry has acknowledged meeting several times with Iranian foreign minister Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif since Trump's inauguration. He's trying to reduce tensions, as he explained to Hugh Hewitt last year:
"... What I have done is tried to elicit from him what Iran might be willing to do in order to change the dynamic in the Middle East for the better,” claimed Kerry. “You know, how does one resolve Yemen? What do you do to try to get peace in Syria? I mean, those are the things that really are preoccupying, because those are the impediments to people, to Iran’s ability to convince people that it’s ready to embrace something different.”

“I’ve been very blunt to Foreign Minister Zarif, and told him look, you guys need to recognize that the world does not appreciate what’s happening with missiles, what’s happening with Hezbollah, what’s happening with Yemen,” continued Kerry....
Kerry has been attacked by Trump, by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and others for this.

It's likely that many of the Gateway Pundit commenters had been listening to Rush Limbaugh. Yesterday on his radio show, Limbaugh all but accused Kerry of being responsible for Iran's drone shootdown. Limbaugh started by spreading some disinformation:
So, I got an interesting email. “Mr. Limbaugh, what do you think or who do you think is really stirring up this business with Iran?” It’s a good question, ’cause you know who’s buddy-buddy with Iran and who has been over there attempting to undermine Trump administration on policy with Iran is none other than John Kerry — the haughty John Kerry, who served in Vietnam.

I think that his daughter married some Revolutionary Guard assassin or something, some such thing. His daughter married somebody from over there. The foreign minister’s third cousin, I don’t know what, but there’s some family tie now.
This is a lie spread by, among others, former congressman and war criminal Allen West. In fact, as Snopes notes, Kerry's daughter Vanessa Bradford Kerry is married to a U.S.-born neurosurgeon of Iranian descent.

Limbaugh continued:
And, of course, the Iran deal in the Obama administration was one of their great things, they believe, and Trump has come in and has summarily ripped it apart and backed out of it....

So they’re ticked as they can be over sanctions and Trump’s relegating them to this secondary status, and the fact that John Kerry (you can put Obama in this sentence or not) has been actively advising the Iranians on how to deal with Trump... (interruption) Well, no, they shoot down the drone....

We know that John Kerry has been attempting to undermine — let’s say “advise” the Iranians on how to deal with — Trump. We know that the Obama administration’s got to be livid over what happened to the Iran deal, because look what they were doing. They were running out telling everybody that the Iran deal was gonna prevent the Iranians getting nuclear weapons. It was one of the greatest signature achievements of the Obama Regime.

... I guarantee you, you do anything to humiliate the Obama administration or start unraveling, unraveling, unwinding some of their policies and they’re not gonna be happy. So until I hear otherwise, I’m not gonna rule out this as a possibility. I’m not alleging it, either.

I’m just answering a question that I got.
So there you go: Limbaugh was seriously-not-seriously accusing Kerry and Obama of being responsible for the drone shootdown and the war that might still result.

But relax: Limbaugh did -- eventually -- acknowledge that his information about Kerry's daughter was incorrect. Twice, in fact.
... BREAK TRANSCRIPT

By the way, I’m told that John Kerry’s daughter’s not married to some Iranian Revolutionary Guard assassin. It’s a myth. I guess I fell for that. I take it back! I didn’t mean it if it’s not true. Notice I’m correcting it right away, the moment I find out about it. I thought it was true. I had not heard it debunked. I’m being told it’s been debunked.

... REAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Okay. Again just to make sure there’s no confusion about it, I admitted that I erred. Kerry’s daughter is not married to an Iranian anything, Revolutionary Guard, assassin, or whoever. I corrected that back 10 minutes ago, and I’m getting emailed, (impression) “You you you you’re not right, that’s not right, she’s not...” So I’m correcting it again. John Kerry’s daughter is not married to an Iranian anything of the sort. It has been debunked.
Yeah, he walked it back -- but first he got it out there, then he got the words "Revolutionary Guard" and "assassin" into both of his walkbacks.

And your right-wing relatives, along with millions of other voting Americans, listen to this bastard every day.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

TOUGH-GUY TRUMP SHIES AWAY FROM WAR AGAIN

I'd just finished a post arguing that President Trump doesn't want to go to war (because war is hard) when this appeared, in response to today's drone shootdown:



But now...
President Donald Trump said Thursday that the Iranian shootdown of an American drone may have not have been intentional, but a "mistake" by someone "stupid."

... When asked early afternoon whether the U.S. would strike back during an Oval Office meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump said: "You'll soon find out."

But at the same time, he said, "I find it hard to believe it was intentional if you want to know the truth."

"It could have been somebody who was loose and stupid that did it," he said.

"I would imagine it was a general or somebody who made a mistake in shooting the drone down," Trump said. "Fortunately, that drone was unarmed. It was not -- there was no man in it, it was in international waters but we didn't have a man or woman in the drone, we had nobody in the drone. Would have made a big, big difference."
This must be incredibly frustrating for John Bolton and Mike Pompeo. If they're as bloodthirsty as they seem, they'll slip smoking-gun evidence of impeachable offenses to the Democrats just so they can get rid of Trump and have all the wars they want. (Mike Pence is an old-school Republican -- he wouldn't balk at an Iran war, a Venezuela war, or both.)

DougJ is right:



Trump has been toggling between old-fashioned neoconservative bloodthirstiness and the nouveau edition of paleoconservatism represented by Steve Bannon and, more recently, Tucker Carlson. (Carlson, according to the Daily Beast, has been advising Trump to avoid an Iran conflict.) Trump, alas, seems to have no idea that the two worldviews are in conflict -- he just hires advisers (and has telephone consultations with Fox pundits) who seem to be owning the libs, apparently not realizing that some of them are bloody-minded imperialists and others are white-nationalist isolationists. (Poli sci is also hard!)

Trump wants to act like a tough guy. He'd like some big military victories (but only if they're instant and easy) -- yet he'd also like to be able to say that he's smarter than the presidents who got us into our current and recent wars.

Reportedly, he believed that dumping the deal, tightening the screws, and raising the level of provocation would actually get Iran to back down, or so says a Wall Street Journal article titled "Trump Wanted a More Docile Iran but Got the Opposite." (Alternate title: "Trump Wanted Morale to Improve, but the Continued Beatings Surprisingly Led to the Opposite.")

Trump, and/or Trump's administration without his knowledge, will continue prodding and poking Iran. Iran will continue to be defiant -- and Trump will still want to be both a tough guy and a war avoider. If he doesn't go to war, he'll make some new enemies on the right. I really don't know how this will end.

TRUMP: WAR IS HARD!

Two stories today confirm that the only reason President Trump hasn't gotten us into a war is that it's too much effort for him.

First, from The Washington Post:
With Maduro entrenched in Venezuela, Trump loses patience and interest in issue, officials say

Last winter, the ouster of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro seemed a sure bet to President Trump, a quick foreign policy win at a time when other initiatives in Asia and the Middle East appeared stalled or headed in the wrong direction.

Then came spring, when Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader Trump had recognized as Venezuela’s legitimate president, called for the Venezuelan military to rise up and switch sides. But while the White House had received opposition assurances that many in the upper echelons of the security forces and government had pledged to flip, virtually none answered Guaidó’s call.

A frustrated Trump believed that national security adviser John Bolton and his director for Latin American policy, Mauricio Claver-Carone, “got played” by both the opposition and key Maduro officials, two senior administration officials said. As the president “chewed out the staff” in a meeting shortly after the April 30 failure, in the words of one former Trump official involved in Venezuela policy, he mused that he might need to get on the phone himself to get something done.

Summer arrives this week with Maduro still in place, and little indication that he is imminently on his way out, or that the Trump administration has a coherent strategy to remove him. The president, officials said, is losing both patience and interest in Venezuela.

... Trump has clearly been frustrated about a foreign policy issue he “always thought of ... as low-hanging fruit” on which he “could get a win and tout it as a major foreign policy victory,” the former official said. “Five or six months later ... it’s not coming together.”
He thought he could topple Maduro without reading a briefing book or canceling a golf match, but foreign policy is hard. So Trump just gave up.

On CNN this morning, Maggie Haberman said something similar about Trump and Iran:
During a discussion on news that Iran has shot down a U.S. drone over international airspace on CNN, New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman explained that Donald Trump is in no rush to respond militarily because, for once, he knows he’s “out of his depth.” ...

“He usually responds to a provocation when it’s a smaller thing that he can punch and knock down,” Haberman explained. “He’s pretty aware he can’t actually do that with Iran. So I don’t think you’re going to see the typical, you know, as if he were swinging back at a primary foe. I think he is going to actually be a little more careful in what he says.”

When it was noted that Trump’s latest comments on Iran seemed more in line with the conciliatory tone he takes with North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un, Haberman said it was of a piece.

“Again, he can modulate when he wants to. He’s actually pretty careful when the situation can call for it and when he knows that he is out of his depth, right?” she added. “When he knows there are things he might not necessarily have some great base of knowledge to act on, so I do not expect a ferocious response from him but this is developing.”
Trump has no interest in geopolitics. He cares about winning. And not just winning -- winning without making much of an effort. He'll take a meeting with a dictator -- preferably in a lavish setting he can regard as a reflection on his own greatness -- but he doesn't want to think. He doesn't want to struggle. And he may hold grudges, but he's incapable of patience or endurance or anything that might require character.

So, despite the best efforts of John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, we really might make it to the end of Trump's term without a war, because Trump is a lazy bastard.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

POLITICO: BEING AN ATTENTION JUNKIE IS TRUMP'S SUPERPOWER

The toddler president of the United States can't bear the thought that Democrats will likely dominate the news cycle next week when they debate for two nights. Politico looks at Trump's infantile neediness and concludes that it's political genius:
Trump’s plan for the Dem debates: Make it about him

The president aims to suck up as much oxygen as possible from the 20 Democratic presidential contenders debating in Miami.


Donald Trump wants his Democratic competitors for the White House to introduce themselves to the American public next week on his terms.

Ahead of the first two Democratic presidential primary debates next Wednesday and Thursday, the president and his political team are angling to dominate the news cycle with carefully released tidbits meant to keep the public hooked on the machinations of the commander in chief.
And they're going to achieve dominance by doing what exactly?
This will range from the president sitting down for an extended interview with an anchor from Noticias Telemundo, who is also a moderator of the Democratic debates....
Oooh, yet another extended interview. Wow, that'll force the Democrats off their game! Never mind the fact that Trump's extended interview with George Stephanopoulos was a ratings flop, on a network that (unlike Telemundo) is regularly watched by non-Spanish-speaking Americans.

What else is going to dominate the news?
... to an announcement by the vice president next Tuesday in Miami — where the Democrats are holding their debates — that unveils a list of prominent Latino and Hispanic supporters.
Wow, Mike Pence -- Mister Excitement! Mike Pence and a group of political hacks most Americans have never heard of! That'll get Super Bowl-size ratings!

(Are we supposed to be surprised that Trump has Hispanic supporters? He gets the same 25% of the Hispanic vote that most Republicans do, and more in Florida, also like most Republicans, because so many Cuban-Americans lean conservative.)

And here's something we knew about:
And on the night of the first debate, Trump himself might live-tweet the debates as he flies on Air Force One to Japan for the G-20.
Trump posting tendentious tweets? That'll feel like ... every other day for the past four years!

Politico treats this as if Democrats should be quaking in their boots.
Just as Trump has dictated so much of the political narrative over the last four years, the president’s team is hoping the two Democratic debates simply morph into liberal candidates reacting to the president instead of putting forward their own visions for the country, policy proposals or personal stories. The blunt reality, Trump’s allies say, is that a Trump tweet can quickly overtake most actions by any one Democratic presidential candidate — an exasperating scenario for Democrats....

“It would not shock me if one of the moderators of the debate asked a Democrat about one of the president’s tweets and somehow then Trump became an even bigger part of the night,” said one Republican close to the White House.
Right -- the Democratic candidates, who seem to have absolutely no difficulty talking about issues, are suddenly going to be blown off course by ... Trump doing what he does on a daily basis, namely banging his spoon repeatedly on his high chair and saying, "LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME!!!"

And if he does grab attention, so what? If that happens, it will be because he said or did something most Americans would consider appalling -- thus reminding debate viewers why they should vote Democrat and creating a contrast with the mostly very nice, very thoughtful Democratic candidates.

Meanwhile, no one ever writes about how easy it is to get Trump to focus on at least one particular Democrat: Hillary Clinton, who was invoked seven times in a half hour during the president's campaign kickoff rally. And she's not even in office! She occupies much more real estate in Trump's head than Trump does in the heads of most of the Democratic candidates. Why doesn't that make her a political genius?

DID BIDEN LIKE THE SEGREGATIONSTS? AND IF NOT, WHY IS IT SO HARD TO TELL?

It's possible that Kate Riga of Talking Points Memo has this somewhat wrong:
Former Vice President Joe Biden seems to have missed the mark in his wistful reminiscing about the “civility” that used to pervade Congress, as he touted his friendships with virulent segregationists at a New York fundraiser Tuesday night.

According to the Washington Post, he was riffing on his ability to “bring people together” when he name-dropped the late Sen. James Eastland (D-MS), who believed that black people belonged to an “inferior race.” Biden proudly said that Eastland called him “son” and not “boy.”

As the Post points out, it’s unclear why Biden felt that this was an indication of respect, as “boy” was a derogatory identifier used to degrade black men.
The Post story doesn't say that Biden recalled this "proudly." It says:
The Democratic presidential candidate, who has led his competitors in early polls of the crowded nominating contest, briefly imitated the southern drawl of the Mississippi cotton planter, lawyer and lawmaker. “He never called me ‘boy,’" Biden said. “He always called me ‘son.’”
A story in The New York Times says:
“I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland,” Mr. Biden said, slipping briefly into a Southern accent, according to a pool report from the fund-raiser. “He never called me ‘boy,’ he always called me ‘son.’”
The Post story adds:
Biden’s campaign didn’t immediately return a request for comment about why it would be notable that the Dixiecrat — who thought black Americans belonged to an “inferior race” and warned that integration would cause “mongrelization” — didn’t call Biden “boy,” a racial epithet deployed against black men.
Here's a charitable explanation: Biden is saying, Well, Eastland didn’t demean me by calling me "boy" the way he would have if I were black, but he did demean me by calling me "son" rather than "Senator." But it's not very charitable -- if that's what Biden is saying, it suggests that he's claiming to have been demeaned nearly as much as black men who were called "boy." If that's what he meant, he was piggybacking on black people's experience, and he's really not entitled to do that.

Regarding the other segregationist cited by Biden, the Times reports:
[Biden] called [Georgia senator Herman] Talmadge “one of the meanest guys I ever knew, you go down the list of all these guys.”

“Well guess what?” Mr. Biden continued. “At least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished. But today you look at the other side and you’re the enemy. Not the opposition, the enemy. We don’t talk to each other anymore.”
So let's give this the nicest possible interpretation: Biden felt demeaned by Senator Eastland and thought Senator Talmadge was an awful person, but hey, you legislate with the Senate colleagues you have, not with the ones you wish you had, so he sucked it up and got down to work with them.

I'm giving Biden the benefit of every doubt. It seems more likely that Biden misses the backslapping and glad-handing, even with horrible people, and believes he can revive it now (even with horrible people).

He can't of course, as Jonathan Chait notes, with a brief history lesson:
... after Reconstruction was crushed, the Republican Party abandoned its commitment to African-American equality and activist government, while the Democratic Party eventually adopted those identities. In the decades while the Republicans were moving right and the Democrats were moving left, there was a long period in which the parties overlapped. During that time, bipartisanship was the norm. Biden came of political age during the period when polarization had reached its historic nadir....

That’s the era Biden grew up in and recalls fondly. It has disappeared....

... modern leaders have learned that the old conventional wisdom that voters would punish them for failing to get along is false. As Mitch McConnell has bluntly explained, persuadable voters do not pay close attention to policy details. If they see leaders in both parties getting along, they will assume things are going well, and — this is the crucial detail — they will consequently reward the party in power. If they see a nasty partisan fight, they will assume Washington is failing, and reward the opposition. To ask the opposing party to compromise with the majority party is to ask it to undermine its own political interest.

Biden either fails to grasp this dynamic, or believes he can overpower it with sheer charm.
If Biden could persuade us that he hates the ideas of the segregationists as much as he loves the idea of forging consensus, maybe this wouldn't be disturbing. But he keeps trying to sell us on the latter idea while downplaying the former.

Will it hurt him? Well, as Chait notes,
Right now, Biden commands strong support among African-American voters. He may or may not be in danger of losing that support. But one way he might lose it would be, I don’t know, talking constantly about his friendships with segregationists.
And given the fact that older African-American voters seem to be his strongest supporters, it might be a terrible idea to constantly invoke friendships with segregationists those older African-American voters might actually remember.

Oh, and at the same fund-raiser:
Former Vice President Joe Biden told affluent donors Tuesday that he wanted their support and -- perhaps unlike some other Democratic presidential candidates -- wouldn’t be making them political targets because of their wealth.

“Remember, I got in trouble with some of the people on my team, on the Democratic side, because I said, you know, what I’ve found is rich people are just as patriotic as poor people. Not a joke. I mean, we may not want to demonize anybody who’s made money,” Biden told about 100 well-dressed donors at the Carlyle Hotel on New York’s Upper East Side....

“Truth of the matter is, you all know, you all know in your gut what has to be done,” Biden said. “We can disagree in the margins. But the truth of the matter is, it’s all within our wheelhouse and nobody has to be punished. No one’s standard of living would change. Nothing would fundamentally change,” he said.
He'd still be better than Trump, on a hundred different issues. But he shouldn't be the nominee.

RETURN THE ANTI-VAXXERS' MONEY

It's a mistake to see anti-vaccine conspiratorialism as a purely grassroots movement. This is the new Gilded Age, so it's no surprise that, as The Washington Post reports, fat-cat money is involved.
A wealthy Manhattan couple has emerged as significant financiers of the anti-vaccine movement, contributing more than $3 million in recent years to groups that stoke fears about immunizations online and at live events — including two forums this year at the epicenter of measles outbreaks in New York’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.

Hedge fund manager and philanthropist Bernard Selz and his wife, Lisa, have long donated to organizations focused on the arts, culture, education and the environment. But seven years ago, their private foundation embraced a very different cause: groups that question the safety and effectiveness of vaccines....

The Selz Foundation provides roughly three-fourths of the funding for the Informed Consent Action Network, a three-year-old charity that describes its mission as promoting drug and vaccine safety and parental choice in vaccine decisions....

Thanks largely to the Selzes’s donations, ICAN is now the best-funded among a trio of organizations that have amplified concerns about vaccines. ICAN brought in $1.4 million in revenue in 2017, with just over $1 million supplied by the Selz Foundation, according to tax filings.
Bernard Selz is, naturally, a hedge-fund guy. Lisa Selz has worked in banking, and at Tiffany. They're straight out of Central Casting.

And they're evil.

They're not as bad as the Sackler family, whose relentless promotion of opioids has made them the worst mass murderers in America. The Sacklers like to give to art museums, or at least they used to, until major institutions told them they'd no longer take their blood money.

The Selzes aren't at the Sacklers' level. But that's a high bar to clear.

The Selzes are paying to spread disinformation about vaccines. So other recipients of their largesse should return their gifts and refuse any more of their cash.

The tax document reproduced by the Post lists the 2017 recipients of the Selz Foundation's money. Some are some charities that might really suffer without the Selzes' help (a food pantry in Montana that received $73,000, for instance). But some are large institutions that could well afford to take a stand.

So Columbia University should return the $522,500, and any other recent gifts, and accept no more from these people. Cornell should return the $65,886. New York Public Radio should return the $37,000. The Frick Collection, a well-endowed museum on Manhattan's Upper East Side, should return the $117,000.

Name them and shame them. They're a menace.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

A PASSIONATE CULT FOLLOWING IS NOT A NATIONAL CONSENSUS

The president tweeted this yesterday:



Today, on the radio, Rush Limbaugh and Vice President Lickspittle took that guitar reference and ran with it:
RUSH: I’m told that there are more people that are lined up to get into your rally tonight than go to Disney World on a daily basis.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: (laughing) It’s just amazing. The president and I were talking about it this morning. And, you know, no guitars, no music. You know, no Epcot. (laughing) People have been lined up for a couple days now. God bless every single one of them....

RUSH: You know, it really is — you make jokes about it — no guitars, no this or that. What —

THE VICE PRESIDENT: (laughing)

RUSH: No, let me explain that. It’s just a guy at a microphone, a guy at a podium.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: (laughing)

RUSH: It normally takes a band and a warmup act to draw 25,000 people, 20,000, at 16 or 18 bucks to get in. You’re doing it with just a guy and a microphone and his vision of the country.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: (laughing)

RUSH: It really is amazing.
I bring this up because Trump probably will have a big crowd tonight, and will be rapturously received, and tomorrow the media, particularly The New York Times, will probably respond with an awestruck sense that maybe Trump is The Voice Of America, and maybe all the polls are wrong again.

But while we're talking about "no guitars," and "just a guy at a microphone" drawing a big crowd, I'm reminded of the identity of the first comedian to sell out Madison Square Garden -- capacity nearly 20,000 -- two nights in a row. Richard Pryor? George Carlin? Jerry Seinfeld? Nope -- it wasn't one of those guys.

It was Andrew Dice Clay, in 1990.

Then what happened? People began to object to his sexist, rapey shtick.
... by the second half of 1990 he had been branded with a scarlet “C,” for controversial. MTV banned him after he recited his trademark lewd nursery rhymes at the 1989 Video Music Awards.

Nora Dunn, a “Saturday Night Live” cast member, and Sinead O’Connor refused to appear on the episode he hosted in May 1990. His manager dropped him; a three-picture deal with Mr. Diller was canceled.
You can say he was blackballed; you can say he was the victim of "cancel culture" and "political correctness run amok."

But if you're old enough to remember the era, you know that once he faltered in his bid for mainstream acceptance, the masses weren't clamoring to have him back. The mass audience still wanted (and still wants) to hear the music of Michael Jackson despite his sexual offenses. There's strong support for R. Kelly as well. I'm not saying that's a good thing. I'm saying that some people are too popular to cancel.

Clay wasn't. And Trump won't be, assuming we're finally rid of him next year. As I said yesterday, Trump fans love Trump, but the rest of us don't -- and we outnumber them.

So don't let easily impressed MSM journalists tell you that tonight means anything. It means Trump leads a crazed cult. It doesn't mean America as a whole wants him as president.

IN IRAN, WHERE'S THE CRAZY HARD-LINER WHEN YOU NEED HIM?

We seem to be on the verge of war with Iran:
The Trump administration and its domestic political allies are laying the groundwork for a possible confrontation with Iran without the explicit consent of Congress — a public relations campaign that was already well under way before top officials accused the Islamic Republic of attacking a pair of oil tankers last week in the Gulf of Oman.

Over the past few months, senior Trump aides have made the case in public and private that the administration already has the legal authority to take military action against Iran, citing a law nearly two decades old that was originally intended to authorize the war in Afghanistan.

In the latest sign of escalating tensions, National Security Adviser John Bolton warned Iran in an interview conducted last week and published Monday, “They would be making a big mistake if they doubted the president's resolve on this.” Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan announced on Monday evening that the U.S. was deploying an additional 1,000 troops to the region for “defensive purposes.” And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo jetted to Tampa, home of Central Command, on Monday evening to huddle with military officials to discuss “regional security concerns and ongoing operations,” according to a State Department spokeswoman.
Or maybe not:
... Yet even as the president’s hawkish advisers have highlighted Iran’s alleged bad behavior, administration officials privately stressed that direct military action remained highly unlikely absent an Iranian attack on an American ship or an American citizen. The president, who campaigned against getting the U.S. bogged down in unnecessary foreign wars, is considered the primary internal obstacle to a counterattack, officials said, noting that Trump continues to press for an improved nuclear deal.
I keep thinking about something Yastreblyansky wrote last month, when Bolton was talking about sending 120,000 troops to Iran and Trump was expressing skepticism:
That absolutely fits the Art of the Deal pattern: violent threats against Mexico and Canada provoking the NAFTA renegotiation, "fire and fury" talk on North Korea leading to the Singapore summit, even his behavior over the Affordable Care Act, which is meant to lead Congress to create something like Obamacare only with lots of marble and gold, the design of which is their problem, not his. His fundamental playbook is really that narrow: scream until you get what you want or, more likely, an opportunity to pretend you got what you wanted, and what he basically wants from the presidency is just to get rid of Obama, obliterate him from human memory, and to have some self-esteem.

Trump's been doing the same thing with Iran all along, tossing the Obama-created JCPOA because Obama created it, not because he agrees with all the criticisms of Binyamin Netanyahu and Mohammad bin Salman and Mike Pompeo and John Bolton, or even understands them, at all.... He himself just wants to do his own deal, with his name on it, that will be the best deal ever made.
Bolton and Pompeo
thought [Trump's] violent language about Iran meant he wanted to kill everybody, and salivated over the opportunity, but no, he really wants to fall in love with old Khamenei, take pictures in one of those exquisitely furnished rooms, and sign a document.
That really is Trump's pattern of behavior, isn't it?

Yet I can't quite see Khamenei as the guy Trump wants to negotiate with. Khamenei is old. He's not really the public face of Iran. The original scary mullah from back in the '70s -- Khomeini -- would have been a different story. He was a household name in America. He was once Time's Man of the Year. But even he ruled at some remove from the public.

You know which Iranian leader Trump would have been itching to hang out with? Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He was a nasty hard-liner and a public provocateur. He was just the kind of pro-wrestling villain Trump understands -- and admires. Trump would have threatened him with death and then fallen head over heels in love with him. Ahmadinejad would have wrapped Trump around his finger, and Trump would have bragged about the relationship.

I never thought I'd miss that SOB, but there's no way Trump would have gone to war with him. The mancrush would have been too powerful.