Saturday, September 30, 2017


An extremely unsubtle Breitbart story makes clear that Steve Bannon & Co. really don't like the Koch brothers:
VP Mike Pence to Be Keynote Speaker at Pro-Amnesty Koch Brothers’ Retreat

Vice President Mike Pence will be the keynote speaker at pro-mass immigration GOP mega-donors Charles and David Koch’s New York political strategy retreat.

... The retreat is also to cultivate Republican candidates for the 2018 midterm elections who are in-line with the Kochs’ open borders agenda.

... Pence’s speaking engagement at the event is at odds with his social conservative history and base of supporters, as the Koch brothers remain heavily supportive of cultural libertarianism, open borders, the importation of cheap foreign labor, and driving down wages for American workers who are forced to compete with a never-ending flood of chain migration.
Hey, don't hold back, guys. Tell us how you really feel about the Kochs.

I don't know whether this is merely an ideological war -- the phrase "the narcissism of small differences" comes to mind -- or whether Steve Bannon's Breitbart sugar daddy, Robert Mercer, and his daughter Rebekah merely want to supplant the Kochs as the biggest machers in the GOP donor community. (Rebekah Mercer, who's 43, must be acutely aware of the fact that the much older Kochs aren't going to be around forever.)

As a recent HuffPost story informed us, the Mercers see themselves as being in an ideological competition with the Kochs and the GOP establishment:
The Mercers are “purists,” says Pat Caddell, a former aide to Jimmy Carter who has shifted to the right over the years. They believe Republican elites are too cozy with Wall Street and too soft on immigration, and that American free enterprise and competition are in mortal danger. “Bekah Mercer might be prepared to put a Democrat in Susan Collins’ seat simply to rid the party of Susan Collins,” a family friend joked by way of illustrating her thinking. So intensely do the Mercers want to unseat Republican senator John McCain that they gave $200,000 to support an opposing candidate who once held a town hall meeting to discuss chemtrails....
(That would be Kelli Ward, who's now preparing a run against Arizona's junior GOP senator, Jeff Flake, in 2018, with the Mercers' backing.)

The Breitbart story makes no secret of the fact that an effort is under way to dethrone the Kochs:
Breitbart News executive chairman Steve Bannon told the New York Times that the populist-nationalist movement’s political strategy for 2018 is centered on promoting the America First agenda through candidates who will challenge the GOP establishment. Bannon and conservative donors Robert and Rebekah Mercer are reportedly seeking to create a coalition and think tank to rival the Koch brothers’ organizations and advance the populist economic nationalist agenda.

“We’ve got a long haul in front of us,” Bannon said. “But look at how the conservative movement and the Republican establishment groomed the guys that the populist, nationalist Trump went through like a scythe through grass. How long had they been groomed?”
Do the Mercers really have the wherewithal to take out the Kochs? Maybe not. As The New York Times notes,
the Bannon-Mercer coalition is much less organized at this stage compared with other major donor operations, particularly the Kochs’ network, which resembles a privatized political party with offices in most states and which has spent more than $1.5 billion over the past dozen years trying to reshape American politics....
But, hey, we may soon hear Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham denouncing the Kochs as RINOs and swamp creatures on Fox. Republican voters may start talking about the Kochs the way they talk about George Soros, and rejecting candidates they bankroll. That would be fun, wouldn't it?


We know that Donald Trump backers are loyal, but surely no one will defend this, right?
President Trump on Saturday criticized Puerto Rico's "poor leadership" and defended his administration's response to the aftermath of Hurricane Maria's devastation on the island in an early morning series of tweets....

Following a plea for aid on Friday by San Juan's mayor, Trump said the mayor was being "nasty."

“The mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump,” Trump tweeted. "Such poor leadership ability by the mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help."

"They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort," he continued.

Trump needs defenders? Breitbart commenters are on it!
Fukc that ratchet-asss mayor!

Should just stop every bit of aid in it's tracks and tell the Puerto Rican people we can't help them until they purge all the corrupt politicians that dragged PR into decay LONG before the hurricanes hit!!

Soooo done with these toxic browns and blacks!

Cut them ALL off and let their idiot progressive ideology and hate of America sustain them!!


SCREW Puerto Rico. They expect the US to do everything for them, and they don't contribute anything to our country. Let them fend for themselves if they think we've screwed them. We just finished bailing them out of a $70 billion deficit, and now they expect billions more in aid.

I don't live in hurricane alley for a reason, and we should not be forced to pay for their stupidity. Their failure to plan is not our problem. Their hakuna matata attitude will not save them from disaster.


I hear you KJ..There is an independence movement in PR maybe we should do everything in our power to move that along. It would be worth a lot to rid ourselves of these losers... after all they gave us Rosie Perez...think about it...


We have to many taker's on the doll already. I'm sick of paying for everyone else's problems, especially when they do nothing to help us with our problems. We don't need Puerto Rico.


Democrats tried to paint Houston and Florida hurricane relief in a bad light to smear Trump. They have tried to make Trump responsible for Charlottesville -- and when this failed, Trump "didn't condemn" fast enough, early enough, thoroughly enough ... blah, blah, blah.

Another day, another smear attempt on Trump. Ho-hum, the smear du jour is Trump and PR. Not going to work. The Mayor of San Juan is wasting time and energy whining instead of helping Puerto Ricans --- and MY President takes this latest smear on in his typical way: FU. The Mayor maybe thinks whining will pave the way for the US to bail out PR massive debt? The Mayor is smoking spleef; PUT DOWN THE DOOBIE AND GET TO WORK.


President Trump is an incredible historical figure. He gets crap from every direction, and he still THRIVES no matter from where the smear-mongers come: oily Democrat politicians, MSM "experts", NFL players, Roger Goodell, The Pope, pissant Puerto Rico Mayors, GOPe, RINOs, CAIR, "activists", race baiter con men, ...

Liberal Leftists are the Masters of Chicken Little Whining.

Patriots ARE NOT being fooled. The Democrat/RINO skewering of 2018 is just around the corner.


... disasters SHOULDN'T be about politics but sadly that's not reality. A line from Rahm Emmanuel, "Never let a crisis go to waste" epitomizes the Democrat way of thinking. They used Katrina to criticize Bush and now they're doing the same thing to Trump. The hurricane basically sent Puerto Rico back to the Stone Age and trying to get help and resources to people with no roads, no airport, no communication, no electricity is a real challenge. When everything humanly possible is being done, expecting more is irrational.


It's the people who live there that keep electing the crooks, so it is their fault. If you build a home out of sticks , then you have to expect it's going to be destroyed. They get hurricanes every few years there, so you would think by now they would have started to build better homes. When people refuse to learn from history, then they're doomed to repeat it.


What is wrong with Puerto Ricans? In TX, for example, we had Texans helping each other - heroes we saw on TV during Harvey. Lazy Puerto Ricans just sit at home waiting for help. It must be their culture kicking in


You can judge a culture or a people by their accomplishments, the contributions they have made to humanity you dumb fool. That is why western culture is so so great. They gave the world cures for diseases such as polio, malaria, cholera, etc. They gave the world electricity, air-conditioning, refrigeration, phone and other technologies that made life easier for billions of people in the world. Non-western cultures have zero accomplishments.


The governor came out immediately and said he was very grateful for Trump and his quick and efficient response.
The isis assisting western media didn't cover it.


No other President has had to manage three major hurricane disasters and the nations largest outbreak of wildfires at the same time...I think the Donald is doing pretty well considering PR has been mismanaged for decades.


so they need truck drivers, but they have hundreds of thousands of people waiting for the federal Government, why don't they just get up off their knees and go pick up the trucks and drive them themselves, to sit and wait for someone to save you or take care of you is idiotic or has socialism been a big part of the Puerto Rican lifestyle for years. from the looks of it they're just like the Ethiopians in the worst drought of their lives, they for some stupid reason would remain in their disastrous location hoping things would change, and relying on the Government is a sure death sentence, just look at the VA or any other agency, 6 month wait for an appointment.


Yes while they sit on their asssses and collect welfare.
A few of these arguments will probably turn up in the professional right-wingers' talking points: Trump is dealing with an unprecedented number of natural disasters; Texans and Floridians have a culture of self-help and Puerto Ricans don't; and Democrats always believe you shouldn't let a crisis go to waste. I'm sure conservatives are looking to dig up opposition research on San Juan's mayor -- any embarrassment from her past, however minor, is likely to be on auto-repeat at Fox very soon. She's also likely to be attacked as "emotional," and maybe as unattractive. It's unthinkable that the conservative media will part company with Trump on this.

Friday, September 29, 2017


At Vox, a history professor named Louis Moore writes despairingly about the most recent round of NFL anthem protests:
Last Sunday, in the largest single-day athlete protest in American sports history, players across the league linked arms and took a knee during the national anthem. But it was a toothless gesture.

... Billionaire team owners who had donated to Trump’s campaign joined in. The symbol of taking a knee came to mean something else — unity, anger toward Trump, free speech. Kaepernick’s bold statement against systemic racism had been co-opted....

The beauty and brilliance of Kaepernick’s protest the previous season is that it put all athletes and fans on notice. "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told reporters. He did not mince words.

... The desire to appease adversaries has overshadowed the meaning of a protest against systemic racism.
I agree with Moore that these protests have been watered down in response to anger from the president, right-wing commentators, and football fans. It's clear that they mean less when they're gestures of team solidarity (or solidarity among players) and not signs of opposition to racism and police brutality.

What's happening now reminds me of what happened to Occupy Wall Street six years ago. As the Zuccotti Park occupation continued and met with official resistance, the focus of Occupy seemed to change. At first, the occupiers took to the park to protest inequality and the greed of the rich; as weeks passed, the protesters seemed more interested in defending the occupation itself. They fought to stay in the park as the weather got colder, and as the right-wing media fixated on problems with the occupation. The point of the protest got lost.

In the long run, Occupy did succeed in changing the way we talk about the global economy -- but the occupiers lost the momentum of the early fall of 2011. Post-Trump, the NFL protests seem to be heading the same way.

The protesters rose to his bait and spent last Sunday protesting attempts to stop them from protesting. Celebrities and ordinary citizens on social media began taking a knee themselves, in solidarity with the players, and, it seemed, only secondarily in solidarity with victims of police violence. The message was diluted. The spread of the gesture outside football stadiums made taking a knee seem as toothless as planking or the ice bucket challenge.

I don't think we'll see anthem protests for much longer -- this year, yes, but probably by next year they'll be a memory. Taking a knee has has lost its potency. New responses will be necessary.


Under this photo from the 2016 Democratic convention...

... Politico tells us that Democrats, surprisingly, don't seem to be seriously divided going into 2018:
Democrats have long been terrified that the Sanders-Clinton slugfest of 2016 would set off a prolonged civil war in the party, forcing incumbents to fight off primary challengers from the left in Senate and gubernatorial races.

It hasn’t happened.

... Instead, it’s Republican incumbents yet again facing heat from the right, as arch-conservative Roy Moore’s defeat of incumbent Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) this week emphatically showed.

“What Democrats right now care about more than anything is winning,” veteran Democratic pollster Jefrey Pollock said of divisive Democratic primaries. “I don’t think the ultra-progressives have abandoned their principles — not at all — but I think they looked at the challenge and said, ‘This is not the right place.’”
A few Democratic incumbents are likely to face Bernieite challengers -- Senator Dianne Feinstein in California, Governor Andrew Cuomo in New York -- but there doesn't seem to be a lot of energy behind the challengers' campaigns. An all-out civil war doesn't seem to be happening.

We're told that the reason for this is pragmatism on the part of would-be insurgents:
Democrats have escaped the brunt of their own party’s populist fury largely because they’re heading into the midterms in a defensive crouch, with 10 of their incumbent senators on the ballot in states that voted for Donald Trump. So instead of going after their own senators, progressive activists are focused on gaining Republican-held seats in the House.

“There’s some reluctance to put a lot of time into [unseating Democrats], versus [building] a more progressive Congress overall,” said former Communications Workers of America union president Larry Cohen, a top Bernie Sanders advisor who now chairs the board of the Our Revolution political group that was spawned from the senator’s 2016 presidential campaign. “There’s going to be a lot more activity where it’s possible to change the makeup of the Congress.”
I think there are other reasons as well. With rare exceptions, we're not seeing elected Democratic centrists defiantly adopting parts of the Trump/GOP agenda. Democrats in Congress -- after some prodding early in Trump's term -- have stood their ground, voting as a bloc to save Obamacare and mostly opposing Trump's most extreme Cabinet picks. Congressional Democrats regularly appear in the media pressing for more answers on Russia. And we see mainstream Democrats gravitating toward single payer, which seems, in part, like a peace offering to Berners.

Of course, it's early now -- if challenges to Democratic incumbents become serious, we won't know until next year. Some Democratic contests could play out like the Alabama Senate race. But for now there seems to be peace.

I think the friction, if it happens, is likely to come in 2020. I think part of the reason for the relative calm is that many left-leaning voters who want a revolution expect it to come through the election of a president. Sanders, Nader, even Obama -- there's often a belief that all it takes is a presidential win and massive change will automatically happen. Lefties have an unfortunate tendency to forget that you need a like-minded Congress as well.

Revolution-minded conservatives don't seem to make that mistake -- the religious right, the Tea Party, and now the deplorables have all put a lot of effort into downballot races, all the way to the state and local level. I think that's the influence of big-ticket donors and other D.C. power brokers in these supposedly grassroots right-wing movements -- the movers and shakers know that just electing a president isn't enough.

The left needs to understand that -- but for now, the tendency among lefty firebrands to focus on the presidency may be working in Democrats' favor.

Thursday, September 28, 2017


Gary Cohn is selling President Trump's tax plan, and he's not doing a very good job of it:
President Donald Trump's top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, said today that he can't guarantee that taxes won't go up for some middle-class families under the administration's sweeping tax overhaul.

"There's an exception to every rule," Cohn told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview on "Good Morning America."

"I can't guarantee anything," said Cohn, the director of the White House Economic Council. "You can always find a unique family somewhere."

He said Trump's plan is "purely aimed at middle-class families." But Cohn acknowledged that "it depends which state you live in."
Translation: Yes, we're writing this tax bill, and many of us have long careers as financial masters of the universe, which means we know precisely how a tax provision needs to be calibrated so that it confers maximum benefit on ourselves -- but if you want to know what the consequences of our bill will be for ordinary schmucks, our answer is: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Cohn is lying, obviously. He knows the plan will make the rich richer (he's dishonestly denying that, too) and will do little or no good for the non-rich, and will do harm to some.

So you'd assume Breitbart would be raking Cohn over the coals, right? He should be a target for two reasons: First, Breitbart has hated him for a while, referring to him as "Globalist Gary" and framing his name with globe images:

Second, Steve Bannon is a regular Joe whose heart bleeds for the little guy -- or so he tells us on a regular basis:
For Martin Bannon, a former telephone company lineman and splicer who worked his way into management without a college degree, the AT&T stock was sacrosanct.

That all changed during the panicked days of the 2008 financial crisis. As the market plummeted, Bannon, who raised five children on Richmond’s North Side, cashed out the stock that held virtually his entire net worth.

When Steve Bannon saw Wall Street’s recklessness hit home and the impact on his father, it fueled his rage against a system he now describes as “socialism for the wealthy,” where benefits accrue to those at the top while the downside is spread among the masses.

As overleveraged financial institutions ran into trouble, Steve Bannon said, they wanted “the Marty Bannons of the world” to bail them out....

“I do believe that this populist movement that you saw Donald Trump take to the next level in 2016 started with the financial crash in 2008,” Bannon said. “Quite frankly, nobody’s been held accountable for that.”
Yes, nobody's been held accountable for screwing Joe Sixpack -- and if this tax plan screws Joe Sixpack again, and it's the handiwork of "Globalist Gary," surely Breitbart is going to raise hell about it, right?


On the Breitbart front page I see no globes, no sneering references to Cohn, no criticism of the tax plan at all.

At Breitbart, Cohn has been attacked for criticizing Trump's response to the Charlottesville neo-Nazi rally and for seeking to prevent Trump from starting trade wars. That's what being a man of the people means to Steve Bannon: supporting domestic racism and backing xenophobia-based trade policies that would, of course, raise the retail prices Joe Sixpack pays. Taxes? Where in the phrase "blood and soil" do you see anything about taxes?

If Joe Sixpack he can't take advantage of the elimination of the capital gains tax, or the reduced tax rate on pass-through corporation earnings, tough luck. "Populist" Bannon sheds no tears.


According to Axios's Mike Allen, President Trump isn't sure he likes his own tax plan:
In Indianapolis yesterday, he bragged that it's the "largest tax cut in our county's history." But in the West Wing earlier, Trump resisted the framework that had been cooked up by congressional leaders, plus economic adviser Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin....

On Monday, there were some tense moments for Republicans at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, as word got out Trump wasn't thrilled with the framework, sources tell Axios' Jonathan Swan.

Trump wanted to propose an even lower corporate rate. It's "The Art of the Deal": Don't open the bidding with the number you ultimately want — 20% (the figure announced yesterday), down from 35%. Open with an extreme bid and work back. Trump wanted to propose 15%.

Trump was also attuned to the political risks of raising the bottom rate from 10% to 12%, while cutting the top individual rate....

On Monday, Republicans on the Hill were genuinely uneasy, and thought there was a chance POTUS wouldn't sign off.
If this tax plan goes down in flames, Trump apologists will probably claim that it failed because congressional Republicans and White House "Democrats" acted as saboteurs of the #MAGA agenda. We're already being told that people who don't have Trump's best interests at heart urged him to support the now-defeated Luther Strange in the Alabama Senate race. And we're frequently told that much of Trumpism is under daily assault from phony so-called allies who are secretly working for globalism and the Deep State. Here's Frank Gaffney claiming that Trump might not fully withdraw from the Iran deal because "disloyal" H.R. McMaster might persuade him to decertify the deal but remain in it.

On the Alabama Senate race, Steve Bannon told Sean Hannity that Trump had been duped:
“They tried to destroy Donald Trump; the same gang that is going after Roy Moore is the same gang that went after Donald Trump,” Bannon said. “And I have to tell you, I think at some time later after [Tuesday], a real, you know, review has to be done of how President Trump got the wrong information and came down on the wrong side of the football here.”
The Washington Post's Aaron Blake responded:
But making that argument — that Trump was duped — also means arguing that he is capable of being duped, and apparently rather easily in this case. Inherent in Bannon's argument is the idea that Trump either isn't discerning enough to make that endorsement decision for himself, or at least that he doesn't do enough homework.

Bannon is basically confirming everything aides have said privately about how unsophisticated Trump is in consuming information. This is the president of the United States, and Bannon is talking about him as if he's still a total political novice — a weather vane, even.
The strangest thing about this is that it's an argument that's readily assented to by Trump's most fervent supporters. They told us that he alone had the smarts and the will to make big changes in Washington. They told us that he was the shrewdest dealmaker who ever lived. Yet if (as is likely) he never gets up to speed, they're still going to say this about him, while also saying he's very easily led astray.

I don't really believe there's any way to overcome this degree of denial. But I'm going to try.

Deplorables, why didn't this ever happen to Barack Obama?

You've told us for years that Obama was stupid and lazy, a guy who just liked to play golf and who couldn't utter a coherent thought unless he read it from a Teleprompter. You told us in 2008 that he was far too inexperienced and unqualified to be president.

You'd think a guy like that would be putty in the hands of slickster advisers and backstabbing so-called allies. You'd think he'd constantly be doing things against his own interests.

And yet when you talk about Obama, you describe him as having many sinister plans to destroy America, all of which he executed flawlessly. You describe his administration as a like-minded cabal who were all in on his nefarious schemes. Hillary Clinton, Valerie Jarrett, Susan Rice, Eric Holder, Lois Lerner -- there were no Obama saboteurs there, from what you tell me.

So do you think maybe, just maybe, Donald Trump isn't as smart as Barack Obama -- by your own admission?

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


Axios's Mike Allen reports:
In private, President Trump has taken to physically mocking M&M: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (slumped shoulders; lethargic body language) and Sen. John McCain (imitating the thumbs-down of his historic health-care vote).
McCain's daughter is not pleased:


As I've watched right-wingers become angrier and angrier over the years, I've wondered how mean-spirited some of them are going to be when major figures in the Democratic Party pass away. Jimmy Carter? He's in his nineties, and they hate him. They hate Bill Clinton, who's a generation younger than Carter but has had several heart procedures. They hate Hillary Clinton, who's clearly much healthier than the National Enquirer and Julian Assange haveclaimed, but who does have some acknowledged health problems.

I've been expecting contemptuous responses to the deaths of any of these figures from elements of the right-wing media and from some GOP back-benchers. I've assumed that the most important GOP leaders would respond graciously.

But now Donald Trump is president. And to my list of Democrats we can add McCain, who's despised by the president and also a significant percentage of his rank-and-file supporters.

I have serious problems with McCain's record as a senator, but I think he'll deserve dignity in death. The rest of Washington is likely to agree: He may be a rare member of Congress whose body will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda. The last to do that was Senator Daniel Inouye, a World War II Medal of Honor winner. It's no surprise that Barack Obama went on to eulogize his fellow Democrat and Hawaiian at the National Cathedral -- but Richard Nixon died while Bill Clinton was president, and Clinton delivered one of the eulogies.

What will Trump do under similar circumstances?

He doesn't have to lavish praise on McCain. When Ted Kennedy died, the responses by some prominent Republicans were restrained but respectful:
Former President George H.W. Bush expressed sympathies from members of the Republican Party.

"While we didn't see eye to eye on many political issues through the years, I always respected his steadfast public service," he said in a statement.

Bush's son, former President George W. Bush, said he was pleased to work with Kennedy on legislation for improving public schools, immigration rule and mental illness care.

"In a life filled with trials, Ted Kennedy never gave in to self-pity or despair," the younger Bush said.
Trump doesn't have to give a eulogy. I'm sure he won't be asked.

But can Trump even manage civility?


You may be thinking that Republican Party intraparty feuding is excellent news for Democrats. I'm not so sure.

Robert Costa of The Washington Post writes:
The stunning defeat of President Trump’s chosen Senate candidate in Alabama on Tuesday amounted to a political lightning strike — setting the stage for a worsening Republican civil war that could have profound effects on next year’s midterm elections and undermine Trump’s clout with his core voters.

The GOP primary victory by conservative firebrand Roy Moore over Sen. Luther Strange could also produce a stampede of Republican retirements in the coming months and an energized swarm of challengers.

It marked yet another humiliation for the Washington-based Republican establishment, particularly Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), whose allies pumped millions of dollars into the race to prop up Strange and reassure his colleagues that they could survive the Trump era....

For Democrats, the prospect of further retirements and revived GOP infighting has sparked talk of competing for Senate seats previously thought out of play.
Could Democrats win formerly safe seats? Could Democrats win this seat? I don't see it. Alabama is a blood-red state -- Trump beat Hillary Clinton 63%-35%. And Trump has now endorsed Moore (and deleted his pro-Strange tweets).

Will there be a "stampede of Republican retirements"? Well, here's one:
The tremors began before the polls closed in Alabama. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announced on Tuesday afternoon that he would not seek reelection in 2018, dogged by complaints from conservatives in his state over his criticism of Trump.
The supposed opportunity for Democrats is that Republicans might nominate extreme, unelectable candidates. Costa quotes disillusioned right-winger Charlie Sykes:
“It’s an acid flashback to 2010,” said Charlie Sykes, a former conservative talk-radio host, referring to the year when seasoned GOP figures lost Senate primaries across the country as incendiary conservatives charged forward.

“It’s almost as if there is a compulsion in the party to nominate the most ‘out there’ candidate just to show you can, with no concern about what that means for the rest of the party,” Sykes said. “Republicans — and that means Trump, too — have unleashed something they can’t control.”
But in 2010, Republicans took back the House and made significant gains in the Senate, even though, yes, they could have won even more seats if they hadn't nominated the likes of Christine O'Donnell and Ken Buck.

Republicans won big in 2010 because their voters were fired up -- understandably, because the GOP was the out party and GOP voters wanted to win again. That's what's supposed to happen to Democrats in 2018 -- but the frustrations of Trump voters, who think they're not getting big wins because Democrats and establishment Republicans are obstructing them, might inspire a big Republican turnout that could partially neutralize the likely big Democratic turnout. If insurgent Republicans run as outsiders, and incumbents survive by tacking farther and farther to the right like insurgents, the GOP might not suffer the turnout dropoff that plagued Democrats in 2010 and 2014.

At this point, I don't know if any candidate could be too extreme for conservative (and even moderately conservative) voters, especially given the fact that most Republicans who are up for reelection to the Senate are in solidly red states, and most House Republicans are in carefully gerrymandered red districts.

Costa notes that the usual suspects are helping to drive this insurgency:
Hard-line challengers to Senate Republicans seized on the fall of Strange ... as a sign of how the clamor of anti-establishment forces like Breitbart News — chaired by former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon — could empower them....

“I was with Bannon last night, talking it through, and what’s happened in Alabama increases the likelihood that I jump in,” said Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R), who is considering challenging Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), speaking Tuesday before polls closed. “It’s a race that has repercussions across the country.” ...

Bannon seems ready to yank open that door, huddling in recent days with Republicans mulling primary campaigns. Tennessee state Sen. Mark Green, who had been considering a Corker challenge, was with Bannon in Alabama. The Mercer family — Bannon’s billionaire backers — have been in touch with these contenders as well and McDaniel said they have encouraged him to run.

When asked about rumors that the Mercers and other donors have pledged more than $1 million to McDaniel, he replied, “It may be more.”
A few notes on these possible Bannon/Mercer challengers: Chris McDaniel has reportedly spoken at two events sponsored by the secessionist Sons of Confederate Veterans, and he sends out campaign emails depicting the Confederate flag draped over the state of Mississippi. Mark Green was Trump's pick for Army secretary until he withdrew his name for consideration after Christianist, anti-Muslim, and anti-LGBT remarks he once made were revealed:
Controversy surrounding Green's anti-LGBTQ record gained traction when advocacy group GLAAD unearthed audio from Green's appearance on the online radio show “Hotwash With CJ and Alex” in 2016. In it, Green seems to compare transgender people to ISIS militants.

“The government exists to honor those people who live honorable who do good things — to reward people who behave well and to crush evil,” Green said in the interview. “So that means as a state senator, my responsibility very clearly in Romans 13 is to create an environment where people who do right are rewarded and the people who do wrong are crushed. Evil is crushed. So I’m going to protect women in their bathrooms, and I’m going to protect our state against potential infiltration from the Syrian ISIS people in the refugee program.”
Hey, didn't you think the thrice-divored, ex-Hollywood, seemingly party-hearty Bannon was too much of a libertine to be allying himself with the likes of Mark Green and Roy Moore? Weren't we being told that the Trump insurgency was, among other things, a rejection of the old Bible-thumping far right? Well, so much for that.

It's possible that what happened yesterday in Alabama will turn out to be an isolated event and a warning shot -- like Dave Brat's victory over Eric Cantor in 2014, it might inspire GOP incumbents to fight harder to retain their seats, and compel the GOP establishment to redouble its efforts to save those insurgents. Brat's win was the high point for insurgents in 2014; the establishment won most intraparty battles after that.

It's also possible that Democrats will win seats in purple states and districts because GOP candidates are too extreme, while extremists win elsewhere. So the GOP congressional delegation might become smaller but more extreme.

We'll see.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


According to David Brooks, Donald Trump voters chose their candidate while not expecting him to actually do anything as president:
It has to be admitted that Donald Trump is doing exactly what he was elected to do.

He was not elected to be a legislative president. He never showed any real interest in policy during the campaign. He was elected to be a cultural president. He was elected to shred the dominant American culture and to give voice to those who felt voiceless in that culture. He’s doing that every day.
Yes, his voters wanted him to spit in the eye of the culture. Yes, they're still happy with him, despite the fact that he hasn't accomplished much more of what he promised than that. Yes, every time a mainstream reporter goes to a diner in Trump Country, beaming white cultists say he's a great president because he's "shaking things up."

But they expected that "shaking things up" would lead to actual results. They thought he was telling the truth when he said this:

We are going to take our country and we're going to fix it. We're going to make it great again. We are going to fix our healthcare. We are going to take care of our vets. We are going to fix our military. We are going to strengthen our borders. We're going to build the wall....

And this:

... we're going to do things that have never been done. We're going to straighten our country out. We're going to do it fast. It's going to be done properly. We're going to strengthen our military. We're going to knock the hell out of ISIS -- we have to do it. We're going to win, win, win.
They didn't think he was mostly going to tweet and piss and moan. They're happy to watch him do those things, but they voted for more, even if they're settling for less.

Brooks goes on to sketch a cultural history of America since World War II: The Protestant Establishment ran everything, then Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, and similar provocateurs upended the social order. Then "a new establishment came into being ... the meritocratic establishment."
These were the tame heirs to Hoffman and Rubin. They were well educated. They cut their moral teeth on the civil rights and feminist movements. They embraced economic, social and moral individualism. They came to dominate the institutions of American society on both left and right.
That's quite a broad brush. Every person with any power across the political spectrum falls under this rubric. Apparently they all have the same politics and they're all equally responsible for the state of the world:
This establishment, too, has had its failures. It created an economy that benefits itself and leaves everybody else out. It led America into war in Iraq and sent the working class off to fight it.
Let me stop there. The president who "led America into war in Iraq" was as different from the meritocrats as it's possible to be -- he was a trust-fund drunk who upward-failed all the way to two terms in the White House. Others responsible for the war -- Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld -- cut their teeth in the White House of Richard Nixon, who loathed the cultural changes Brooks identifies with the meritocrats. Karl Rove, another member of the war cabinet, was a College Republican for Nixon. They didn't start the war because they're boomer meritocrats. They started it because they're a specific sort of dangerous idiot.

The economy was the creation of a ravenous capitalist class -- pre- and post-boomer, meritocrat and manor-born elite -- who began taking advantage of cheap outsourcing and the decline of the labor movement long before any ex-Deadhead won power. The rapaciousness accelerated during the backlash presided over by non-boomers Reagan and Thatcher. One of the children of that counterrevolution was non-meritocrat Trump, who, through dumb luck, bought low in the Manhattan real estate market when New York City was broke and cashed in when the financialization of the economy hit warp speed under the Gipper.
So in 2016, members of the outraged working class elected their own Abbie Hoffman as president. Trump is not good at much, but he is wickedly good at sticking his thumb in the eye of the educated elites. He doesn’t have to build a new culture, or even attract a majority. He just has to tear down the old one.

That’s exactly what he’s doing. Donald Trump came into a segmenting culture and he is further tearing apart every fissure. He has a nose for every wound in the body politic and day after day he sticks a red-hot poker in one wound or another and rips it open.
But that's not what his voters want. They'll settle for making liberals, non-whites, LGBT people, and non-acquiescent women cry, but what they'd really like is for all us to be gone. They don't want us in power; they don't want us in the media; they don't want us in the country. And they want all their overseas enemies gone -- and gone effortlessly, with few if any U.S. casualties, from the working class or otherwise.

When the dust settles and their enemies are still here and still making trouble overseas, they're going to blame their domestic foes, not Trump, for subverting him -- but eventually they're going to conclude that they need someone more powerful than they think Trump is. Because they still want stuff done.


In a post about this column that's much better than mine, Yastreblyansky reminds us that the Trump administration actually is getting a lot done:
... one of the things that needs to be understood is that Trump's presidency isn't even that ineffective, as compared for instance to the Republican Congress. Trump is personally incompetent, to be sure, but he's got people around him doing things, generally Republican things like stripping environmental and labor regulations, suppressing minority votes, and baffling our friends in Western Europe and East Asia. Trump's continual acting out on the Twitter and at his campaign rallies, his Nixonian call on the racist loudmouth dotards who think of themselves as a "silent majority", whether he himself knows it or not, are a terrific distraction from the real work the White House is quietly getting done. If it weren't for the utter incompetence of Ryan and McConnell and the brokenness of the party as a whole, we could be in real trouble.
But very little of this is what his voters expected him to do. It's not what he promised. And they still want all that.


When Steve Bannon appeared at CPAC in February, the press described it as a "rare public appearance." Shortly before Bannon left his White House job, he gave a "rare interview" to PBS. Then, after he'd lost his job, he gave another "rare interview" to 60 Minutes.

Gosh, if I didn't know better, I'd suspect Bannon isn't the publicity-shy, retiring guy the media thinks he is. He did, after all, give hours of interviews to Joshua Green, who made him the star of a bestselling book about the 2016 campaign, Devil's Bargain.

Now you can barely escape him. It isn't just that he's made the defeat of Luther Strange in the Alabama GOP Senate runoff his life's work. It's that he's making himself the face of the campaign. He headlined a rally for his candidate, Roy Moore, in Alabama last night, and Politico gave him a rave review:
Steve Bannon barreled onstage at a raucous rally inside a barn here to deliver a warning to the national Republican establishment ahead of Tuesday’s special Senate election: I’m just getting started.

In a thundering 20-minute speech Monday night that was partly a rally for insurgent Senate candidate Roy Moore but equally a declaration of war on the Republican Party hierarchy, Bannon made clear that this next act of his political career could make the Republican civil war of recent years look tame....

Bannon headlined the get-out-the-vote rally inside a hay-lined barn alongside Moore ... Brexit leader Nigel Farage and “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson.

But Bannon stole the proverbial show....
Bannon was also on Sean Hannity's show last night, giving, I guess, another "rare interview." On the program, Bannon made his convoluted case for why supporting the guy running against President Trump's candidate is a pro-Trump move:
“I’m here to support Donald J. Trump,” he said... “The hardcore Trump people are not here to defy Donald Trump. We are here to praise him. And I think the best way to do that is to send someone to Washington D.C. -- for Alabama to send someone who is going to have the president’s back.”
He also did a little personal branding:
Bannon ... pointed out early in the interview with Sean Hannity that he was back to wearing the bomber jacket made infamous during the 2016 campaign...
And he took on NFL protesters, claiming they should drop to a knee only to "thank God in heaven Donald J. Trump is president of the United States."

Meanwhile, at Breitbart, the campaign to elect Moore has been the #1 priority -- but it was Bannon's face, not Moore's, on the front page this morning:

What's Bannon's long-term goal? Does he want to be a celebrity pundit/editor, a slob William F. Buckley? Is he looking to become the new Karl Rove, a strategist who's also a media figure?

Or -- and this is pure speculation -- is he starting to think he could someday be a candidate promising white nationalist counterrevolution? We know he said during the 2016 campaign that Trump is an "imperfect vessel" for the movement. I'm sure he thinks he'd be the perfect vessel, if he were a candidate.

So why wouldn't he someday be a candidate? Too many skeletons in his closet? Didn't Donald Trump prove that if you echo the prejudices and rage of angry white males, skeletons in the closet don't matter?

I think it's conceivable that Bannon will run for office someday. Whatever he does, he's going to gravitate toward the limelight. He's enjoying it. And the media is happy to accommodate him.

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.