Thursday, February 28, 2019

CPAC AND THE MEDIA: WHY?



Good question. Even when prominent Democrats show up at the one left-wing gathering that's roughly comparable, Netroots Nation, the press is much less interested. What's the appeal of CPAC?

I think the press understands that any person or idea at CPAC, however preposterous or offensive, could go mainstream, or at least mainstream on the right, with the potential to affect, or at least become a nuisance in, the lives of the rest of us, because that's how conservatism works -- it's nearly impossible to be too offensive, too bigoted, or too full of hatred for our side.

There may be some envy at work -- these are insane haters, but damn, they sure know how to go viral. I don't think it's skill. The right is just more inclined to promote people from the fringes, because the mainstream right needs to feed the base's incessant appetite for anger. A lot of people are promoted and sometimes funded, not because there's so much disruptive talent on the right, but because there can never be too much liberal- and Democrat-bashing content.

Maybe there are other reasons, but I think that's the key.

GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE

Steve Inskeep on NPR's Morning Edition this morning:
In his books and speeches, President Trump has often promoted the power of walking away from a deal, and that is what he did in Vietnam today, ending a summit early with the leader of North Korea.



Sean Hannity on Fox News this morning:
... You know what's really funny -- and I see this about the news media all the time -- if they would just maybe take a little bit of time and try and understand President Trump a little bit more. Maybe they could read The Art of the Deal, because I think -- one of the best-selling business books in history, and what does he say in there? If you want to be a great businessperson, up to the last second in any deal, you gotta be able to stand up and walk away and not want it too much....



The brilliance of that line is that for decades it has enabled Trump to portray negotiating failures as successes, in a Pee-wee Herman way -- "I meant to do that." It's unsurprising that Hannity would reach for it after the collapse of negotiations with North Korea, and obviously the Fox audience is gullible enough to nod in agreement.

It would be nice if NPR didn't invoke the same self-serving rationalization. But I guess that's too much to ask.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

CHRIS CHRISTIE REALLY DOESN'T UNDERSTAND HIS OWN PARTY, DOES HE?

Chris Christie misses the point:
None of the Republicans on the House Oversight Committee are defending President Trump over the “substance” of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s testimony, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Wednesday.

“The interesting thing is that there hasn’t been one Republican yet who has tried to defend the president on the substance, and I think that’s something that should be concerning to the White House,” Christie said during an ABC panel....

"And so I think it’s going to, as the day goes on, it’s going to get tired of hearing the attacks on Cohen’s credibility,” Christie added. “He’s not a credible witness, but he does have corroboration on certain things. Where is the defense of the president?”



The Republicans on the committee, like President Trump, are engaging in a base-only strategy -- they're appealing only to Republican voters. (This makes more sense for them than it does for the president. If Trump wants to win reelection, he has to win states that aren't really conservative and that gave him a tiny margin of victory last time. Most GOP members of the House, by contrast, are in districts carefully drawn to be solidly Republican.)

Committee Republicans aren't defending the president because the base doesn't think the president needs defending. The base thinks the president is awesome. The base is certain that any negative statements about the president are Deep State disinformation.

Besides, the base votes Republican principally because the base believes that Republicans' enemies are pure evil. By that standard, committee Republicans are defending the president. If the base thinks Michael Cohen appears really evil, that's proof that Trump is great and Republicans are on God's side.

Negative partisanship -- it's all they've got, but it's all they need.

SAY WHAT YOU WILL ABOUT THE CORLEONES, AT LEAST THEY HAVE AN ETHIC

I'm sure this now-deleted tweet impressed Donald Trump's fan base, including the many evangelicals who passionately support him:
With the partisan stakes so high, Representative Matt Gaetz, a firebrand Republican from Florida, went after [Michael] Cohen pre-emptively with a personal attack that some Democrats said amounted to witness intimidation.

“Hey @MichaelCohen212 - Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot,” Mr. Gaetz said on Twitter.
I've been thinking about the intersection of two obvious facts: No one loves Trump as much as conservative Christians do, and Trump and his circle see the world the way mobsters do -- in their worldview, it's moral to threaten a Trump critic, especially a critic who used to be a loyalist, because a disaffected Trump loyalist is a "rat," and it's worse to be an anti-Trump rat than it is for Trump to be a criminal.

Many people think it's odd that evangelical Christians love a president who's a thug. But it was clear long before Trump entered politics that right-wing Christianity isn't about living by the moral code of Christ. It's about declaring that your and your allies have a monopoly on morality -- and, more important, declaring that people you don't like are immoral and despised by God, and therefore should have no influence on how we run society.

When your ethic already divides the world into good people and mortal enemies who must be destroyed because they can't be reasoned with or accommodated, of course you're going to be attracted to a leader who shares your political goals and conducts his life like a Corleone ordering a hit. To evangelicals, there's a clear line dividing the saved and the damned, the fit and the unfit -- just as, to Trump, the world is divided into loyalists who should be rewarded and traitors who must be crushed. So of course the evangelicals love Trump. He has a pure sense of right and wrong.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

TRUMP IS UNPOPULAR, BUT THE DEMOCRATS' BRAND SUCKS

Dr. Rachel Bitecofer, a pollster and political science professor, published a New York Times op-ed last month called "Why Trump Will Lose in 2020" -- but that was before Howard Schultz began making noises about running as an independent. Dr. Bitecofer, who conducts polls for the Wason Center for Public Policy, alerts us to the results of Wason's latest survey, which suggests that a third-party run could turn a Democratic blowout into a Trump win.
The Wason Center survey of likely 2020 voters shows that, in a conventional two-party race, the Democratic Party nominee holds an 11-point advantage over Trump, 48%-37%, well outside the +/- 3.2 margin of error. However, when respondents are offered the option of an Independent candidate, a far different picture emerges. Under this scenario, the race becomes a statistical tie between Trump (34%) and the Democrat (32%). Fully 16% of likely voters indicate they would vote for the Independent candidate and another 16% report being undecided — up from 9% in the two-way contest.

... the Democrat loses five times more voters than Trump (16 points vs. 3 points). That is, for every voter who switches from Donald Trump to the Independent, five voters switch from the Democrat to the Independent.
It's just one poll, but the numbers are bad.



The dropoff is quite extraordinary. In a two-person race, Trump gets 86% of the Republican vote; with an independent in the race, he's down to 78% -- an 8-point drop. The drop among Democratic voters, by contrast, is 23 points -- the Democratic candidate goes from 95% to 72%.

With no independent in the race, men go for Trump 44%-38%; add an independent and the numbers are 44%-20% (with 23% going independent) -- Trump doesn't lose any men, while the Democrat loses nearly half of his or her male supporters. And oddly, this isn't primarily a white phenomenon -- non-white support for the Democrat drops from 70% to 43% with an independent in the race.

And why wouldn't this be the case? The Democratic Party has a terrible brand. For years, Republicans have nationalized every election, portraying each contest as a one between pure evil -- the Democrats, along with their putative support network of radical college professors, Hollyweird celebrities, and effete soy boys -- and pure good. Democrats, by contrast, run against their opponents, or against the president of the United States when he's a Republican, but they never run against the Republican Party. And they don't run with pride in being Democrats -- swing-district 2018 House candidates downplayed their party affiliation; Bernie Sanders allied himself with the Democrats in 2016 only long enough to run for president, and is doing the same thing agin this year. Even Democrats mock the Democrats. I mock the Democrats. So it makes sense that a significant percentage of anti-Trump voters would blow off the Democratic Party if given an alternative.

Bitecofer writes:
Analysis of these “defectors” reveals that a plurality, 39%, self-identify as Independents under a “soft screen” for partisanship. But under a “hard screen,” where voters who indicate that they are Independents are then asked if they lean towards one party or another, defectors are 45% Democrat, 31% Republican, and 19% Independent. This, too, suggests that the appetite for an Independent candidate is greater among Democrats. The vast majority of defectors (77%) describe their ideology as “moderate.”
Here's a problem for 2020: While defeating Trump is made significantly more difficult by the introduction of a third-party candidate (because the anti-Trump vote is split), the electorate is already split into three camps -- liberal, moderate, and conservative. In 2020, the liberals and most of the moderates should just band together to dump Trump -- but even if it's a two-person race, the moderates might be alienated by a progressive Democratic nominee (or the progressives might be alienated by a moderate nominee). Some brand loyalty would mitigate this problem somewhat, but Democrats haven't tried to build brand loyalty in years.

So the 2020 outcome is still very much in doubt, no matter how unpopular the president may be.

MODERN CONSERVATISM, IN ONE WORD CLOUD

Here's a tag cloud I found on the front page of the right-wing site Townhall.com:



Notice what's not there? Apart from "border security" "border wall," and "national emergency," there's nothing about conservative policies. Nearly every tag identifies a right-wing enemy -- AOC, Andrew McCabe, Jussie Smollett, CNN, the FBI, socialism, and so on.

What do conservatives want? They want a wall. What else? They want to see someone smack down their enemies. There isn't a right-wing health-care plan or a right-wing infrastructure plan or a right-wing plan for dealing with opioids. There's just rage and the wall.

By contrast, Axios reports this:
At a half-dozen events 2020 candidates held in Iowa over the weekend, attendees barely mentioned President Trump — and not a single person asked about Robert Mueller’s investigation or Russia.

The big picture: Instead, most of the questions were about policies — most often health care, climate and immigration.

The attendees at a soup dinner, meet-and-greets, and town halls asked hard-hitting questions about biofuels, money in politics, taxing the wealthy, preventive health care, arts in education, immigration reform, the environment, abolishing the filibuster rule in the Senate, and foreign policy.
To be fair, that's on the campaign trail. The left-wing media tends to be very focused on enemies, particularly the president. But it's also focused on climate change, on health care, on changing the tax code, on dealing with gun violence, on establishing a humane approach to immigration, and a lot of other serious policy issues.

In the Bush years, being a conservative meant being in favor of war in the Middle East. That wasn't my policy, but it was a policy.What do conservatives stand for now, apart from building a wall and inducing liberal tears?

Monday, February 25, 2019

I DON'T BELIEVE MURKOWSKI AND COLLINS WILL REALLY VOTE AGAINST THE TRUMP EMERGENCY DECLARATION (updated)

Josh Marshall really believes that the Senate as well as the House could vote to block President Trump's emergency declaration. Marshall is assuming that two Republican Senate votes are already in the bag:
The [anti-emergency-declaration] measure would only needs 51 votes to pass the Senate, as it is not subject to the filibuster. If Democrats all support it, as expected, only four Republicans would need to split off to pass it and force Trump to issue his first veto. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said she plans to vote for the resolution of disapproval of Trump’s border wall declaration over the weekend, joining Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who said earlier she’d likely vote with Democrats on the measure. That means Democrats likely need just two more defectors to pass the measure.
But Murkowski's vote isn't etched in stone, as Marshall's own link notes:
“I want to make sure that the resolution of disapproval is exactly what I think it is, because if it is as I understand it to be, I will likely be supporting the resolution to disapprove of the action,” Murkowski reportedly said Friday.
Susan Collins isn't a lock, either. She said something similar last week:
“If it’s a ‘clean’ disapproval resolution, I will support it,” she told reporters, according to The Associated Press.
Now, what does Marshall say about the resolution?
By law, once the measure is introduced in the Senate, it will be sent to committee, where it must receive a vote within 15 calendar days. Whether it passes in committee or not, it will be reported out of committee and must get a vote on the Senate floor three days after that.

The measure can be amended, giving Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) some room to maneuver to try to kill it. But it’s unclear how much it can be amended and what poison pills can be added. It appears that McConnell would be blocked from adding a provision for border wall money to the resolution of disapproval, for instance. And while McConnell has flipped to support Trump’s move, it’s unclear at this point how hard he’s willing to work to block a vote on a bill many of his own members want to vote on.
(Emphasis added.)

Marshall knows McConnell and the rest of these people much better than I do, but I think the ornery old bastard will happily add something to this bill to make it "unclean" and not "exactly what" Murkowski thinks it is.

Marshall notes that quite a few Republican senators have objected to the declaration and that some (Mike Lee, Rand Paul) have been willing to oppose Trump from the libertarian/"constitutionalist" right, while others (Cory Gardner, Thom Tillis, Martha McSally) will run for reelection in purple states next year, and others (Johnny Isakson, John Cornyn) might be vulnerable if 2020 is a Democratic wave year. Also, Lamar Alexander has grumbled about the declaration, and he's retiring, so he doesn't really have to watch his right flank anymore.

Marshall may be right about Lee and Paul, and about Alexander. I'm less convinced in the case of the senators running for reelection -- they'll want to shore up their bases, if only to avoid primary challenges.

And Marshall is totally off base regarding two lickspittles: Mitt Romney, whom he describes as having "shown a willingness to buck Trump on other issues," and Marco Rubio. Marshall says of Rubio, "on national security issues he’s shown more spine than on other topics" -- but that bar is so low it's practically subterranean.

Trump can veto a disapproval resolution, and there's no way there'll be a two-thirds majority in the Senate to override it. Maybe McConnell and the White House are resigned to that. Trump would enjoy vetoing the bill and having his veto sustained.

But I think McConnell might want total victory, just for sport, and for the liberal tears. And I wouldn't bet against him getting that win.

UPDATE, TUESDAY MORNING: Last night, The Washington Post published an op-ed by Thom Tillis in which he unambiguously promised to vote against the emergency declaration. This may inspire more defections -- or maybe not. We'll see.

TRUMP WOULD GET AWAY WITH THIS

Or esteemed president, maintaining his usual high standards of decorum:



My response:



A response to my tweet:



That's probably true -- yet if he'd actually done that, don't you think he'd have gotten away with it? Don't you think there'd be a DEFCON-1 mobilization of all conservative opinion-shapers, and every one of them would tell us that an ethnic stereotype was the furthest thing from Trump's mind when he slanted his eyes, even if he accompanied the gesture with nonsense syllables in fake Chinese?

We all know what the response would be. Robert Byrd was in the Klan! Hillary Clinton does black accents when she talks to black audiences! So does Barack Obama! Ralph Northam and Mark Herring wore blackface! Joe Biden said that thing about Indian-Americans back in '08! Liberal Harvard discriminates against Asian-Americans! Ilhan Omar hates Jews!

And why are we forcing modern standards of political correctness on the president? Give him a break! He grew up in a different era! We're censoring him! Why do liberals want to silence everyone they disagree with?

Donald Trump Jr. and hundreds of other right-wingers would retweeted every available fake online meme tying Democrats to racism, starting with that alleged Bill and Hillary Clinton blackface picture that clearly isn't either of them.



Trump's poll numbers would drop a point or two in the immediate aftermath of the incident. Then they'd be right back where they were.

SO HOW ARE DEMOCRATS DOOMED THIS WEEK?

The New York Times reports that moderate House Democrats are being asked to answer for the pronouncements of their progressive colleagues. The situation is initially portrayed as dire:
NEPHI, Utah — In the suburbs of Salt Lake City, Representative Ben McAdams, a freshman, was grilled by constituents about the “socialism” and “anti-Semitism” that they saw coming out of the new Democratic House.

“How long do you intend to ride that train with those people?” one Utahan asked.

In Michigan, Representative Haley Stevens was asked about her ability to counter what one voter deemed the bigotry of some of her freshman colleagues — a concern fueled partly by remarks from her counterpart in nearby Detroit, Rashida Tlaib — and “the negative attitude they bring to Democrats.”

And on a rainy Saturday in Spotsylvania County, Va., one woman stood up in a town hall to remind Representative Abigail Spanberger that while she was the first Democrat to hold that seat in nearly 50 years, the majority of the rural enclave had voted Republican.

“Since the Democrats are now the party of death and taxes,” the woman said, as Democratic supporters scoffed and grumbled, “just how do you propose to effectively represent the taxpayers of Spotsylvania?”

It was Democrats like Mr. McAdams, Ms. Stevens and Ms. Spanberger who secured the party’s House majority, political moderates who won districts often long represented by Republicans. Of the 67 Democrats in Congress’s freshman class, roughly a third prevailed in districts where President Trump won in 2016.

That serves as another indication that Democrats will have to confront the intraparty tussle between liberals and moderates to decide what they stand for, whom they appeal to and where their electoral future lies.
Democrats are doomed! They can't maintain their House majority if they lose the swing districts they won back in 2018, and vocal progressives could be making that impossible!

I'll grant that this could be a serious problem for Democrats. On the other hand, after that alarming lede, I'm struck by the fact that the only two critics who are identified by name are ... people who would never vote Democratic under any circumstances.
... Ms. Spanberger ... made a point of thanking her more critical questioners, including Dale Swanson, a founder of the local conservative women’s coalition, for their presence and their questions....

At a pair of town halls last week in the deeply Republican suburbs of Salt Lake City, Mr. McAdams, an affable and mild-mannered former Salt Lake County mayor, fielded pointed questions about whether he supports the Green New Deal and socialism. More broadly, constituents worried how their moderate congressman might fare in the same caucus as the liberal bomb throwers. Richard Hansen, a Republican county commissioner and one of the two dozen constituents who attended the town hall in Nephi, a mountain town of 6,000, shared a wish with the Utah Democrat: “I hope they don’t corrupt you.” ...
(Emphasis added.)

And notice that Ben McAdams is hearing criticism "in the deeply Republican suburbs of Salt Lake City." That's not where his margin of victory came from. We're told that he and other moderates are making the deliberate choice to hold town halls in parts of their districts where they aren't so popular:
Back home, Mr. McAdams, Ms. Stevens and Ms. Spanberger [have been] seeking out the more conservative corners to temper concerns and reassure supporters that they are focusing on popular policy priorities like broadband internet access in rural Virginia and environmental concerns in Michigan.
If you're a solid progressive, you won't like what some of these House members are saying -- they're swearing that they're not socialists or pledging unswerving loyalty to Israel. But they're good on a lot of issues, they're keeping the House out of the hands of Kevin McCarthy and Devin Nunes, and it looks as if they're actually holding their own, even in parts of their districts where they're sure to lose again in 2020. (Holding their losses to a minimum in Republican parts of their districts is a good strategy.)

In these districts, the true progressives are resigned to the inevitability of not getting what they want from their elected representatives:
More liberal supporters of the newcomers said that while they aspire to have someone openly pushing for universal health care, free postsecondary education and other more aggressive policies, a moderate approach is what will maintain Democratic representation in their districts.

“Those are things I could put aside,” said Damon Burkeen, 17, a high school senior who drove an hour on icy Michigan roads to hear Ms. Stevens speak. “She fits our district,” which, aside from an odd two-month blip in a lame-duck session in 2012, has been represented by Republicans for 52 years.

Bill Rucker, a retired chemistry and biology teacher from Milford, said that as a fan of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and Ms. Tlaib, he “wouldn’t mind if Haley was more that way.”

“But I understand that it can’t be everyone,” Mr. Rucker, 71, added.
That's America outside the blue enclaves: even the progressives become tolerant of moderation, while conservatives parrot Fox News memes -- but politely, so far.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

DON JUNIOR: HE'S RUNNING

A Twitter friend alerts me to this story:
Donald Trump Jr has hinted he could run for president in 2024.

The incumbent US leader’s eldest son posted an Instagram story showing another user mentioning his name in answer to a question about potential Republican candidates in five years’ time.

Mr Trump made no additional comment indicating his opinion....



Reposting "you should run for president" compliments is hardly proof that Junior will run in the future, though it's something his father did for years before entering the 2016 race. I've believed for a while that Junior will run -- he doesn't have or need a real job (holding up huge fish on Instagram doesn't count), although he's fooled Red America into believing that he's an accomplished corporate executive. His relaxed schedule gives him plenty of time and energy to do the one thing Republican voters want a president to do: attack liberals on a daily basis.

Junior might actually be pursuing this activity with more vigor than his father. Here are just some of the culture war battles he's been fighting on Twitter in only the past few days:







Oh, and he published an op-ed at Real Clear Politics alleging that Instagram is censoring him because he's a conservative.

We know that Republicans like to pick rich men's sons as presidential nominees -- they did so in 1988, 1992, 2000, 2004, 2012, and 2016, and will do it again in 2020. So why not 2024?

I think Junior will especially have the inside track if Dad loses in 2020. Vengeance is a powerful motivator for right-wing voters. They'll probably be somewhat less likely to pick Junior without that to inspire them.

I know a lot of you believe Junior will be in prison soon. I continue to believe that no Trump or Kushner will ever see the inside of a cell -- this is America, where we don't punish the people at the top. But I think GOP voters will be more inclined to vote for Junior if he's recently emerged from what they'll regard as an unfair prison sentence imposed on him by the Deep State. (Hell, he could probably even run from jail and sell himself as a political prisoner.) I don't know where he'll be living or whether he'll even be eligible to vote, though the restoration of his right to vote after a felony conviction could be an unintended consequence of a progressive social justice movement. In any case, the Constitution doesn't expressly say that a president has to be eligible to vote.

Maybe he'll be too lazy to run. Maybe disgust at the Trumps will, at long last, have fully taken root even in red America by 2024.

But if not, he's running.


Saturday, February 23, 2019

LIMBAUGH MAINSTREAMS KAMALA HARRIS/JUSSIE SMOLLETT CONSPIRACY THEORY

Last week, at a little-known right-wing site called the Clover Chronicle -- the kind of site where a momentary hesitation by Nancy Pelosi during the State of Union address was described as an "MK-Ultra 'Glitch,'" a reference to a Cold War-era CIA mind control program -- a theory was advanced about the Jussie Smollett story: that it was all a 2020 campaign stunt.
HUGE: Kamala Harris Was Allegedly Involved In Jussie Smollett’s “MAGA Country” Hoax

... One person who apparently has knowledge of the situation claims 2020 presidential hopeful Kamala Harris may be involved (link):
“This puppy [Jussie Smollett] is tied to Kamala. There is a chance this will come out.... Would suggest for people to contact their representatives to have Kamala investigated. She is involved and wish I could tell you how I know. Just contact your reps and push for them to look into this. It may help.”
The link is to an anonymous comment at 4chan's /pol/ (Politically Incorrect) board.

Our Clover pal continues:
... But, why would Harris help Smollett stage an incident like this?

Oh, that’s right: To make Trump supporters, as well as the POTUS himself, look even more “racist” than the media already portrays them to be.

This would undoubtedly help not only her 2020 campaign, but her fellow Democratic contenders as well.
Updates to the post note that Smollett and Harris both attended a Martin Luther King Day rally in Los Angeles last year (though they don't appear to be together).



Also -- I hope you're sitting down for this -- another message board poster is quoted pointing out that Jussie Smollett's mother's maiden name is Harris. OMIGOD! That's such an unusual name! (Wikipedia says this is true.)

The much-updated post notes that both Kamala Harris and Cory Booker referred to the Smollett incident as "an attempted modern-day lynching," then points out that Harris and Booker are (along with Tim Scott of South Carolina) co-sponsors of a bill to make lynching a federal crime. Clover guy/gal writes:
Was Booker involved too!?
So there's your theory: In order to attack President Trump and publicize their own campaigns, Harris and Booker, or maybe just Harris, conspired to help a TV star commit an easily exposed criminal act that would inevitably be a huge news story once his deception was revealed -- you know, as you do when you're a serious presidential contender.

This idea has spread on the right-wing fringes. Here it is being advanced on Twitter by a self-promoting author/film producer/"media personality" named Tariq Nasheed. Nasheed's tweets were quoted in an American Thinker post by Monica Showalter. The conspiracy theory is being picked up by YouTube vloggers.

But yesterday the theory got a big boost when Rush Limbaugh put it on the air. From the transcript:
RUSH: Dansville, New York. Diana. It’s great to have you here. Hi.

CALLER: Hi. I think that the whole Jussie Smollett incident kind of spider webs out a lot further than we’re seeing on the surface, because there’s no coincidence that Kamala Harris has been pushing her anti-lynching legislation. All of a sudden, you know, out of the blue, out of all the people in the world who supposedly get lynched, it just happens to be her personal friend, Jussie Smollett?

RUSH: Yeah, I’ve got this story coming up. I was going to get to it in the next half hour and I wanted to take your call first to give you credit for creating the transition, because I think you are really on to something. She has made it known how close they are. She’s made it known that Smollett and her and Smollett’s family... All of these uber-left-wing, so-called social justice activists in California… They are all linked. It is an intricately woven web of deceit.

Black Panthers to the New Black Panthers, to the Weather Underground and all of these people. Angela Davis and Kamala Harris, and all these people are all in on it — and she did. She has come out for reparations. I wouldn’t be surprised. We can’t, of course, say for certain here. But I wouldn’t be surprised at all to learn that this thing was part of a coordinated effort to assist her campaign, which is destined to do what? Defeat Donald Trump! I mean, you can cross a lot of T’s and dot a lot of I’s in this. I think you’re on to something. What gave the first clue that this might be something connected?

CALLER: The whole thing just smelled really fishy to me. It’s way too coincidental — and, you know, there’s never coincidences with the Democrat Party. It’s all interweaved all the time. We’re always finding out how it’s so much more below the surface.

RUSH: Well, that’s true. In fact, I’m on record as saying there’s no such thing as coincidences with the Clintons, for example, and that’s the Democrat Party subset. That’s fascinating that you have — just out of the blue — put these two together. Where did you find out that Smollett and Kamala Harris have a relationship? Where did you find that out?

CALLER: Well, she was posting about it on the Internet, what close friends they were, and she was singing his praises, and, you know, calling it “a modern-day lynching.”

RUSH: Right, it looked like it was almost orchestrated response, timed well to what then becomes a call for reparations.

CALLER: Yeah, and she was... You know, she’s been pushing this anti-lynching legislation since last year, and I guess it’s gone through the Senate, but not through the House at this point, I guess.

RUSH: Smollett, by the way, just did a documentary on lynching.

CALLER: Really?

RUSH: Yeah. By the way, I didn’t know that lynching was legal in America. Anti-lynching legislation? I thought it was already illegal. It shows you what I know.
And now your grandparents believe that this was A Conspiracy So Vast involving Kamala Harris.

Has Harris said that she has close ties to Smollett? I can't find any evidence of that. In her original Smollett tweet she called him "one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I know." That's clearly a well-known person talking about another well-known person who's an acquaintance, not a close friend, much less a family friend.

Smollett did work on an episode of a cable series called America Divided that concerned lynching. Maybe that inspired his hoax. It suggests nothing about Harris (or Booker). That black Americans would be separately focused on racist violence is unimaginable to right-wingers -- if they're talking about lynching at the same time, it must be because they're in cahoots with one another.

You see how the paranoia works. Limbaugh said:
Black Panthers to the New Black Panthers, to the Weather Underground and all of these people. Angela Davis and Kamala Harris, and all these people are all in on it — and she did. She has come out for reparations.
All black people and allies who advocate racial justice, past and present, liberal and radical, are all part of one massive conspiracy that's coming for you, whitey!

I hear it's all explained on Michelle Obama's whitey tape.

Friday, February 22, 2019

POOR POWERLESS RICH PEOPLE (AND REPUBLICANS)

Here's a Twitter exchange about Jeffrey Epstein that I spotted this morning:




D'Souza has made a career of pushing narratives he knows are false -- he knows that Barack Obama isn't an anti-colonial Marxist resentnik and that the Democratic Party isn't still the home of segregationists. But what narrative is he pushing here, besides reflexive Clinton-bashing?

It's that a guy like Jeffrey Epstein -- a near-billionaire -- couldn't possibly have clout on his own. It's inconceivable that Epstein could leverage his wealth and range of contacts to hire a team of high-powered lawyers (including former Clinton special prosecutor Ken Starr) and dissuade prosecutors (including a rising star among Republican attorneys who's now a Trump Cabinet member) to go easy on him. It's unimaginable that he might have multiple friends in high places; according to D'Souza, he was just lucky he knew a Democrat who'd been president once.

In the right-wing worldview, rich people don't have the ability to work the system. The rich aren't powerful -- they're embattled. (Remember the wave of billionaires who compared themselves to Hitler's victims when they were criticized during a post-crash economic recovery in which they hoovered up nearly all the money?)

To right-wingers, Jeffrey Epstein isn't an economic elite -- in fact, the category "economic elite" barely exists. "Elites" are upper-middle-class people who shop at Whole Foods, along with the Democratic politicians they vote for and the liberal entertainers and athletes whose work they watch in their leisure time.

Also see this clip from Laura Ingraham's radio show, at the end of which Republican lawyer Joe diGenova urges his ideological soul mates to arm themselves in preparation for the liberal pogrom:



JOE DIGENOVA (GUEST): We are in a civil war in this country. There's two standards of justice, one for Democrats one for Republicans. The press is all Democrat, all liberal, all progressive, all left - they hate Republicans, they hate Trump. So the suggestion that there's ever going to be civil discourse in this country for the foreseeable future in this country is over. It's not going to be. It's going to be total war. And as I say to my friends, I do two things - I vote and I buy guns.
Poor powerless Joe diGenova! He was almost hired as a lawyer by the current president of the United States, and Rush Limbaugh says he should be attorney general. He's been a major presence in D.C. for years, particularly since the time of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, in which he and his wife, Victoria Toensing, were major players on the GOP side. Here's Howard Kurtz writing about the two in 1998:
A decade after he was the city's top federal prosecutor in a high-stakes pursuit of D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, diGenova has become a white-hot media presence, politically connected lawyer and all-around agent provocateur. He and Toensing, also a battle-tested former prosecutor, keep popping up wherever there is trouble -- as commentators, as investigators, as unnamed sources for reporters.

A classic Washington power couple, diGenova, 53, and Toensing, 56, occupy a strange, symbiotic nexus between the media and the law that boosts their stock in both worlds. They are clearly players, which gives them access to juicy information, which gets them on television, which generates legal business.
Yeah, this guy is embattled, too. All rich people and Republicans are embattled. Only those bastards buying soy milk in Whole Foods have any real power, along with the traitors they like in Hollywood and the Democratic Party.

AS NEW HAMPSHIRE GOES, SO GOES ... PRACTICALLY NO ONE

More hype for the notion that Donald Trump might face a serious primary challenge in 2020:
Thirty-nine percent of likely Republican voters in the Granite State said they think that President Trump should be challenged in the 2020 primary, according to poll results released today by the UMass Poll....

“While nearly 40 percent of all likely Republican voters believe President Trump should face a primary challenge, almost half of college-educated Republican voters believe that Trump should be ‘primaried,’” said Tatishe Nteta, associate professor of political science and director of the UMass Poll. “Given the comparatively higher levels of turnout among highly educated voters, these results do not bode well for Trump.”
But does this really matter? Poll respondents sometimes say they're in favor of a primary challenge even when they back the incumbent. That happened to Barack Obama, as Ed Kilgore noted in late 2010:
... mischief-making pundits have seized on a couple of polls to burnish their narrative: One is from AP/KN in late October, showing that 47 percent of Democrats want the president to be challenged by another Democrat in 2012 (with 51 percent opposed); and one came from McClatchey/Marist just before Thanksgiving, showing 45 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents favoring a primary challenge (with 46 percent opposed).

Sounds pretty dangerous for Obama, right? Well no.... the very same AP/KN poll shows that three-quarters of Democrats want to see the president re-elected; i.e., they're not really discontented with Obama and they just like the idea of a primary that gives them options.
Some voters want a primary challenge for Trump the same way New England football fans want two teams in the Super Bowl -- it doesn't mean they want the Patriots to lose.

More important, the New Hampshire primary is not a Republican bellwether. In 2012, Ron Paul got 23% of the New Hampshire vote. Jon Huntsman got 17%. Together, they combined for more votes than the primary winner, Mitt Romney.

And what happened? Paul finished a distant third in delegates (he had 177, Romney had 1,575, Rick Santorum had 245), and fourth in overall poular vote (Newt Gingrich also beat him). Huntsman -- who's regarded as a right-centrist, like most of the Republicans who are being talked about as challengers to Trump -- never cracked double digits again in any state, and finished with a grand total of 3 delegates.

The Huntsman of 2016 was John Kasich. He finished second to Trump in New Hampshire, with 15.7% of the vote. But at the convention he finished fourth in delegates, far behind both Trump and Ted Cruz, and just behind Marco Rubio. Trump won 1,441 delegates; Kasich won 161.

Former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, who seems serious about challenging Trump, is pro-choice and pro-LGBT rights; Larry Hogan, who also seems serious, is the popular GOP governor of the very blue state of Maryland. Not only aren't these two any threat to Trump, they'll cancel each other out in New Hampshire, and then their candidacies will go to die in the Bible Belt, where Trump is God.

But couldn't circumstances change the way GOP voters view Trump? Judging from that UMass poll, apparently not:
Asked if the Mueller report would make them reconsider their vote for Trump, just 22 percent said it would affect their support for Trump if the report concludes that Trump conspired with the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election. Sixteen percent said it would affect their vote for Trump if the report concludes that Trump directed his attorney, Michael Cohen, to lie under oath to Congress. And only 14 percent said it would impact their vote for Trump if the report concludes that Trump obstructed justice by firing former FBI Director James Comey and engaged in witness tampering.

“While the nation awaits the final report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, only a handful of Republican primary voters in New Hampshire will reconsider supporting President Trump in light of the potential revelations in the report,” Nteta said.
I know the president and his party are desperate to lock down the nomination before the primaries begin, but Trump would benefit from a challenge. He could come up with new nicknames for his challengers. GOP voters love that. He could portray his inevitable win as a victory over the media, which is inordinately fond of NeverTrump Republicans. He should be welcoming these guys into the ring.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

HEY, WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ROSEANNE BARR, BADLY WRONGED FREE SPEECH MARTYR?

There have been so many big stories this week that you probably missed Roseanne Barr reminding us why we're lucky to be rid of her:
Roseanne Barr took to her YouTube channel to slam Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, calling her a “Farrakhan loving...bug-eyed b---h.”

Barr posted the nearly two-minute video over the weekend on her channel, which has more than 104,000 subscribers. She never mentions the New York congresswoman by name....

“That Green New Deal...Farrakhan-loving b---h. I don’t remember her name. The bug-eyed b----h who looks like a realtor,” Barr says in the video....

“She got them realtor eyes. She got 'em,” the 66-year-old actress adds. “Bug-eyed lyin’ b---h. Farrakhan fan. Israel hater. Lefty. Dumbass, dumb as they get.” ...

“I’m gonna try to correct some of the mistakes she’s made like costing hundreds of people decent-paying jobs ‘cause, I don’t know, they breathe carbon in the air or some horses--t,” Barr says in the video.
For the masochistic, here's the video:



I know of no connection between Ocasio-Cortez and Farrakhan, or any opinion on Farrakhan that Ocasio-Cortez has expressed. The connection in Barr's brain is probably that they've been mentioned together in multiple segments on Fox News, or maybe on Alex Jones's show. Or perhaps Barr thinks all brown-skinned first-year Democratic congresswomen are Muslims -- y'know, they all look alike.

My favorite part of the video is Barr saying, "Socialism is a fake fuckin' con," and then adding, "It's just like capitalism." All systems are phony! Barr is a regular Holden friggin' Caulfield!

(Barr wanted to run for president as a Green in 2012, but lost the nomination to Jill Stein, after which she got in a Twitter fight about trans bathroom rights -- Stein is for them; Barr, to put it mildly, isn't. Barr then ran on the Peace and Freedom line in 2012; her running mate was anti-war activist and Osama bin Laden death truther Cindy Sheehan.)

Gosh, we could have commentary like the video above in the mainstream of our political dialogue, but you damn liberal fascists had to go and screw it up.

NUMBER OF SMOLLETT STORIES ON THE FOX FRONT PAGE RIGHT NOW: TEN. NUMBER ABOUT THE COAST GUARD TERRORIST: ZERO.

The FoxNews.com front page at 11:52 A.M.:



There are ten separate Smollett links:

* "'SLAP' TO CHICAGO: Police boss unloads on Smollett over alleged race hoax; officials say anger over salary was motive"

* "Smollett didn't give Brett Kavanaugh the presumption of innocence, but asks for it now"

* "FULL CHICAGO POLICE NEWS CONFERENCE"

* "CNN’s Don Lemon: It’s ‘not his fault’ Jussie Smollett lost in the ‘court of public opinion’" (also linked under the headline "'NOT HIS FAULT': CNN’s Don Lemon offers bizarre defense of texting pal Smollett")

* "Dems who jumped on Smollett claims still mum"

* "CHICAGO HOAX: DEROY MURDOCK: Smollett’s phony claim causes leftist meltdown" (notice how Fox is really working the Chicago angle, Chicago being, to all Fox viewers, the epicenter of all that is evil and liberal in America)

* "Jussie Smollett’s behavior is ‘disgusting’: David Harris Jr." (Who? Apparently it's this guy.)

* "Celebrity supporters grapple with hoax reports"

* "A timeline of events surrounding Smollett case"

* "Smollett controversy a result of ‘victimhood chic’: Domenech"
Number of stories on the Fox front page about Christopher Paul Hasson, a white supremacist who's been charged with planning terrorist attacks against Democratic politicians and media personalities perceived as liberal:

Zero. Of course.

Stories that are on the Fox front page, which means they outrank the Hasson story:
* "Baseball players who look similar get test to see if they're related"

* "Woman dies after eating mushroom dish at Michelin-starred restaurant, reports say"

* "Flying stuffed animal costs Georgia upset win over Mississippi State"

This is why your grandparents vote the way they do.


REPUBLICANS WILL TRY TO MAKE 2020 ABOUT SMOLLETT AND SANDMANN, OR SOMETHING EQUALLY TRIVIAL

Dave Weigel on Twitter this morning:



My response:



I could have added "email server management."

If it were the summer of 2020, Republicans might find a way to make the presidential election a referendum on Jussie Smollett and Nick Sandmann, with the eager cooperation of the mainstream media (which is now as obsessed with the Smollett story as Fox News). I can easily Sandmann, the smirking kid from Covington Catholic, having a speaking role at the Republican convention.

Republicans' main goal going into 2020 will be to find some trivial but potentially embarrassing fact (or pseudo-fact) about the Democratic nominee and work it until it's better known than the Democrat's stand on any issue. The mainstream press will play along. Failing this, the goal will be to find some enemy in the culture who can be hung around the Democratic candidate's neck.

It will happen. The only question is how well it will work.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

IS VICTOR DAVIS HANSON COMPLETELY UNAWARE OF TRUMP'S LIFE HISTORY, OR DOES HE JUST ASSUME THE RUBES ARE?

The New Yorker has just published Isaac Chotiner's interview of Victor Davis Hanson. Hanson, a classics professor and hack fluffer of Trump at National Review and elsewhere, is peddling a new book called The Case for Trump, in which he portrays the president as a tragic hero. Here's a quote from the book:
What makes such men and women both tragic and heroic is their knowledge that the natural expression of their personas can lead only to their own destruction or ostracism from an advancing civilization that they seek to protect. And yet they willingly accept the challenge to be of service ... Yet for a variety of reasons, both personal and civic, their characters not only should not be altered, but could not be, even if the tragic hero wished to change ... In the classical tragic sense, Trump likely will end in one of two fashions, both not particularly good: either spectacular but unacknowledged accomplishments followed by ostracism ... or, less likely, a single term due to the eventual embarrassment of his beneficiaries.
Hanson is arguing that Trump "seek[s] to protect" our civilization, even though he realizes that the struggle to do so will lead to his "own destruction," or to "ostracism" from the very society he seeks to shield from harm. How selfless of Trump!

But that's the problem -- apart from Kool-Aid-drinking fanboys, no one has ever written the sentence "How selfless of Trump!" non-ironically. Even many of his admirers realize that the man has never done a single selfless deed in his life.

Yet here's Hanson in the interview:
I think Trump really did think that there were certain problems and he had particular skills that he could solve. Maybe in a naïve fashion. But I think he understood, for all the emoluments-clause hysteria, that he wasn’t going to make a lot of money from it or be liked for it.
Yes, we all know how willing Trump is to sacrifice money and the praise of others for a Higher Cause.

Reading the interview, you can tell that Chotiner is straining not to say what he really believes, like a Daily Show interviewer, in the hope that Hanson will hang himself. I wouldn't have had the restraint. I would have at least had to ask when in Trump's pre-political life he had ever known Trump to put others' interests ahead of his own. Trump's charity didn't even give money away in return for glory, like every other rich man's charity. Trump just isn't capable of generosity, even with strings attached.

Hanson cites Achilles as an analogue to Trump:
Achilles has elements of a tragic hero. He says, at the beginning of the Iliad, “I do all the work. I kill all the Trojans. But when it comes to assigning booty, you always give it to mediocrities—deep-state, administrative nothings.” So he stalks off. And the gods tell him, “If you come back in, you will win fame, but you are going to end up dead.” So he makes a tragic, heroic decision that he is going to do that.
Yes, the late 1960s draft dodger who called avoiding sexually transmitted diseases his "personal Vietnam" sure seems like someone who'd pursue heroism at great personal cost.

Hanson can't possibly believe any of this, can he? But he likes the way people he doesn't like get roughed up by Trump -- immigrants, Barack Obama, and also, um...
... if you go back and look at the worst tweets, they are retaliatory.

What he does is he waits like a coiled cobra until people attack him, and then he attacks them in a much cruder, blunter fashion. And he has an uncanny ability to pick people that have attacked him, whether it’s Rosie O’Donnell, Megyn Kelly—there were elements in all those people’s careers that were starting to bother people, and Trump sensed that out. I don’t think he would have gotten away with taking on other people that were completely beloved. Colin Kaepernick. People were getting tired of him, so he took him on. All that stuff was calibrated. Trump was replying and understood public sympathy would be at least fifty-fifty, if not in his favor.

No, I mean, if you are going to attack a woman as ugly you want to make sure you at least have public sympathy on your side.

I think so. There are certain women that may be homely.
Hanson likes Trump. He likes Trump's boorish anger=. And while he surely knows that the Trump he describes bears no resemblance to the real thing, he knows no one else can class up Trump flackery the way he can, with all those fancypants classical allusions. He knows the deplorables will believe anything about Trump, and so, in his area of specialization, he'll tell them anything they'd like to hear.

MEDIA: FEEL THE MIGHTY POWER OF DONALD TRUMP

Yes, this happened, but why does it deserve its own new story?



President Trump revived the moniker of “Crazy Bernie” on Wednesday as he greeted the entry of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the 2020 presidential race.

“Crazy Bernie has just entered the race. I wish him well!” Trump said in a morning tweet, using the same nickname he used to deride Sanders when he sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.

The subtext is: Be afraid, haters! The Mighty Trump is nicknaming again! That's also the subtext -- or the text -- of a story published by The Hill yesterday:
Trump working on labels for 2020 Dems: report

President Trump is reportedly working on possible nicknames for his potential 2020 Democratic challengers as the field of nominees continues to grow.

The Associated Press reports that sources close to the president have been working with Trump on labels for specific 2020 candidates. Two sources with knowledge of Trump's 2020 plans told the AP that the president has begun testing nicknames on aides and advisers as he prepares to reveal them publicly.

The president also plans to use early campaign rallies, the sources told the AP, to test the waters for nicknames he may lob at his potential opponents in the months ahead.
Did anyone not expect this? How is it news that he's merely thinking about employing his usual brand of schoolyard insults against the 2020 Democratic field?

This comes from an AP story on Trump's reactions to the Democratic campaign. Democrats, the story suggests, should be very, very afraid of the president's aggression:
In tweets, public remarks and private conversations, Trump is making clear he is closely following the campaign to challenge him on the ballot. Facing no serious primary opponent of his own — at least so far — Trump is establishing himself as an in-their-face observer of the Democratic Party’s nominating process — and no one will be surprised to find that he’s not being coy about weighing in.

Presidents traditionally ignore their potential opponents as long as possible to maintain their status as an incumbent floating above the contenders who are auditioning for a job they already inhabit.

Not Trump. He’s eager to shape the debate, sow discord and help position himself for the general election.
The AP story does call this "a risky bet that his acerbic politics will work to his advantage once again," and does note that "often Trump’s commentary reflects a peculiar sense of disengagement from the events of the day, as though he were a panelist on the cable news shows he records and watches, rather than their prime subject of discussion." But he's still portrayed as the mighty candidate-slayer:
This is the president whose 140-character blasts and penchant for insults made mincemeat of his 2016 Republican rivals. And Brad Parscale, Trump’s campaign manager, said the president aims to use Twitter again this time to “define his potential opponent and impact the Democrat primary debate.”
He's also portrayed as a spectral, menacing nemesis for law enforcement in the layout of yesterday's big New York Times story:



In the war against his investigators, the story says, Trump might be winning:
The attacks on the Mueller investigation appeared to have an effect. Last summer, polling showed a 14-point uptick in the percentage of Americans polled who disapproved of how Mr. Mueller was handling the inquiry. “Mueller is now slightly more distrusted than trusted, and Trump is a little ahead of the game,” Mr. Giuliani said during an interview in August.

... [William] Barr is ... respected among the rank and file in the Justice Department. Many officials there hope he will try to change the Trump administration’s combative tone toward the department, as well as toward the F.B.I.

Whether it is too late is another question. Mr. Trump’s language, and allegations of “deep state” excesses, are now embedded in the political conversation, used as a cudgel by the president’s supporters.
We shouldn't underestime Trump's ability to fight back. But these are hints that the media's respect for Trump might morph into awe over the next year and a half. That shouldn't happen.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

AFTER TRUMP, THE AUTHORITARIAN DELUGE?

At the new anti-Trump conservative site The Bulwark, Christian Vanderbrouk wonders whether President Trump will ultimately be condemned by his biggest fans for not being sufficiently authoritarian.

Vanderbrouk writes about the emergency declaration:
While Trump may have stumbled upon his declaration as last resort, for his supporters, the “state of emergency” is an organizing principle. And if his presidency ends in failure and disgrace, his former supporters will likely blame him for lacking the fortitude to extend the logic of emergency to its authoritarian conclusion.
Trump made his emergency declaration in defiance of congressional Democrats and now intends to watch its fate play out in the courts, but some of his fans are impatient for more. As Vanderbrouk writes,
Fox Business host Lou Dobbs, who boasts 1.9 million Twitter followers and the attentive ear of the president, channeled the spirit of Grand Moff Tarkin in his plea for Trump to stamp out his congressional opposition. “I really believe that the way forward here is for him to declare a national emergency, and simply sweep aside the recalcitrant left in this country. They have — they have obstructed, resisted, and subverted for far too long,” Dobbs editorialized before a national audience.
And then there are these guys:
... even now some on the right are calling on [Trump] to forge ahead in defiance of a negative court ruling. Josh Hammer, a former federal law clerk, wrote last month that “It Is Past Time For Trump To Openly Defy A Federal Court.” Others like White House aide Stephen Miller and failed Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore have decried what they call “judicial supremacy,” which is another way of describing precedent-setting judicial review.
But as I regularly point out, Trump doesn't seem prepared to engage in this level of defiance. He's not making moves to dissolve Congress. He's not rejecting the notion that federal court decisions are binding on him.

So far, his base is okay with that. I think that's because he attacks his enemies in a way that's brimming with self-confidence and is so entertaining to base voters that they believe (a) he'll win on everything eventually and (b) it's a great ride until he does. They're not demanding true authoritarianism of him.

Vanderbrouk thinks this might not last much longer:
Expectations for deliverance have been raised, but met with dashed hopes and despair. Into the breach could be a greater yearning for a sovereign who will slip the bonds of the Founders’ constraints and rescue the nation by whatever means necessary.

And as the president’s political credit rating approaches junk status, it will be important to distinguish between Donald Trump, disgraced charlatan, and Trumpism, the movement that hungers for a strongman and now reserves judgment on his fitness for the role.
I think the Trumpist movement will give Trump a pass on his failure to bring forth the MAGA utopia at least up until he's about to leave office, and maybe afterward -- he's just so personally inspirational to the deplorables that they'll continue to assume any failings on his part are the result of stabs in the back by their enemies.

But the next Trumpist leader won't have Trump's reality TV and pro wrestling trash talk skills. The next one will have to deliver. And it's quite likely that the next one will know how to deliver. He or she will understand how to seize authoritarian power, and will eagerly do what Dobbs and Hammer and Miller now want.

But for now we have Trump, who's such a rock star in the eyes of his base that he gets away with not being the great dictator.

THE EDITORIALS IN THAT ALABAMA PAPER HAVE BEEN RACIST FOR QUITE A WHILE

This story from the Montgomery Advertiser has been getting a lot of attention:
The editor of a small-town Alabama newspaper published an editorial calling for "the Ku Klux Klan to night ride again" against "Democrats in the Republican Party and Democrats [who] are plotting to raise taxes in Alabama."

Goodloe Sutton — who is the publisher of the Democrat-Reporter newspaper in Linden, Alabama — confirmed to the Montgomery Advertiser on Monday that he authored the Feb. 14 editorial calling for the return of a white supremacist hate group.

"If we could get the Klan to go up there and clean out D.C., we'd all been better off," Sutton said.



Asked to elaborate what he meant by "cleaning up D.C.," Sutton suggested lynching.

"We'll get the hemp ropes out, loop them over a tall limb and hang all of them," Sutton said.
Goodloe Sutton has been a small-town journalist for more than half a century. He and his wife won nationwide acclaim in the 1990s when they uncovered corruption in the office a local sheriff, who was sentenced to prison time for his offenses.

That's admirable, and now Sutton keeps a local paper going when many others have folded. But Sutton is a crank and a bigot. This isn't the first time an editorial like this has appeared in his paper. In fact, this is probably not the paper's most racist editorial.

I've been looking in the paper's archives, and it didn't take me long to find equally offensive pronouncements. Here's one from May of last year:



When parents who are uneducated get a mindset on what's best for a school, watch out world.

Tribal rules from the dark continent will not suffice.
I don't quite understand the point being made here. Something something communism, something something teachers' unions, something something television and cellphones rot the brain. But it all seems to get back to the values of "the dark continent" -- a term for Africa that was used even in polite society when I was a child (and I'm a bit younger than Goodloe Sutton).

Here's one from 2015. It concerns Terri Sewell, a black congresswoman.



Again, blacks are collectivists:
Republicans believe in capitalism and the free enterprise system. Barack Obama and Sewell believe in the government running all business, industry, education, health care, and banking.
We move on from there to the slave trade (all King George's fault), and then to this:
In the South, the plantation owners fostered social, family, and religious life for the slaves.
Sklavery in the South was good for blacks. Of course that idea would show up.

Here's another one from 2015:



Not having grown up in America, Barack Obama harbors no pride in this country. He thinks of it as a welfare state where the money source is unlimited....

We could tell Obama was nothing but a shallow yard boy out of his element after his first speech eight years ago.

Why did not the television news shows jump on this hard?

Their Ivy League bosses told them to stay off the boy.
Yes, "the boy."

There's far more than I've unearthed here. And yet Alvin Benn, a reporter from the Montgomery Advertiser -- not the one who wrote the story about the Klan editorial -- praised Sutton in a 2015 USA Today story:
Weekly newspapers represent the heart and soul of small communities, and Goodloe Sutton is doing the best he can to keep The Democrat-Reporter off life support....

His bare-bones office staff is without an advertising executive to keep the weekly’s bottom line above water, and he’s seeking anyone with selling experience to consider the paper as a future.
Benn praised Sutton even though he knew that the man's work could be poisonous.
He’s still as irascible as ever and his racial references in headlines and stories still upset many of his readers although some dismiss them as examples of “Goodloe being Goodloe.”

On March 19, his main big-letter headline blared off the paper’s front page with: “Selma black thugs murder Demopolite Saturday night.” That would be a resident of Demopolis, Ala., population 7,500, and the largest city in Marengo County.

“What if they were white thugs from Selma, Goodloe?” I asked him. He didn’t respond to that question, but I seemed to detect a wink from him.
A wink! It was just Sutton being "irascible"! Nothing to see here!

Monday, February 18, 2019

A REAL COUP MIGHT HAVE BEEN EASIER

On the subject of Andrew McCabe, Republicans have found the magic word:
Senator Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, vowed on Sunday to investigate whether the top officials at the Justice Department and the F.B.I. plotted an “attempted bureaucratic coup” to remove President Trump from office, and said he would subpoena the former F.B.I. director and the deputy attorney general if necessary.

Mr. Graham, Republican of South Carolina, was reacting to an interview in which the former F.B.I. deputy director, Andrew G. McCabe, confirmed an earlier New York Times report that the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, had suggested wearing a wire in meetings with Mr. Trump and that Justice Department officials had discussed recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Mr. Trump from office.
Alan Dershowitz called this "an attempt at a coup d'etat." Fox talking heads repeatedly called it a "coup" attempt, as did the rest of the right-wing media.

But what's being described wouldn't have been a coup. A coup would be tanks on the White House lawn and generals inside arresting the president and his subordinates. Using the 25th Amendment to remove a president is a process that's so cumbersome, and so full of choke points, that it might have been more difficult than a genuine coup.

Let's review Section 4 of the 25th Amendment. (I recommend doing this for your right-wing relatives when they start using the "c" word.)
Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
So it's not as if a handful of FBI agents could unilaterally declare the president unfit. It had to be the VP and most of "the principal officers of the executive departments" -- the Cabinet. These were Trump appointees. Fox News reports that James Baker, a former FBI lawyer, claimed that a couple of Cabinet members were already on board:
“I was being told by some combination of Andy McCabe and Lisa Page, that, in a conversation with the Deputy Attorney General, he had stated that he -- this was what was related to me -- that he had at least two members of the president’s Cabinet who were ready to support, I guess you would call it, an action under the 25th Amendment,” Baker told the [House Oversight and Judiciary] committees [in closed-door testimony].
Two? Wow. There are fifteen Cabinet-level departments. The 25th Amendment says eight of them have to declare the president unfit to serve, plus the vice president.

But even if that happened, we'd have been far from done.
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office...
So the president can just say he's fit to serve. He gets to veto this assertion of his unfitness. Then he's president again!

Unless...
... unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.
Okay, the same folks who said he was unfit at first would have to insist they were right and the president is wrong. (Remember, we're talking about Trump appointees, acting at a time when angry Trump supporters would be howling in the streets for their heads.)

But let's imagine that they stuck with their original assertion. Then what?
Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.
Right -- the declaration that the president is unfit serve has to be upheld by a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress. This is harder than impeachment, which requires only a simple majority in the House, followed by a two-thirds vote in the Senate. And when this plan was allegedly afoot, both houses of Congress were solidly Republican. How the hell were the alleged plotters going to get a two-thirds vote against Trump under those conditions?

Tanks on the White House lawn would probably have been easier.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

THERE IS NO DEFINITION OF "WINNING" BEYOND "OWNING THE LIBS"

So this happened a couple of days ago:
President Donald Trump poked fun at his Democratic presidential challengers in a since-deleted Twitter video posted Friday afternoon....

The video features the ubiquitous song “Everbody Hurts” by R.E.M. overlaid on footage from the State of the Union address. The footage features shots of Democrats like California Rep. Eric Swalwell, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, California Sen. Kamala Harris and others.

The video was first created by Twitter user “CarpeDonktum,” whose bio section reads “Eternally Sarcastic Memesmith specializing in the creation of Images and Videos. I tweet and meme in support of Donald Trump. Posted content is 100% original.”
The point is that all of the Democrats in the clip look sad or disgruntled. That's it -- that's the whole joke. And yes, the president retweeted it.



We can say what we always say -- "Can you imagine if Obama..." etc., etc. But notice that this is a fanboy's measure of success for Donald Trump: He makes Democrats sad. (Also Mitt Romney, but much of the right sees him as an honorary Democrat.)

The vast majority of what Trump says in the clip is standard State of the Union platitiudes. There's also Trump's promise that America will never become socialist, and a boast about the employment rate. This is edited so it appears that Democrats hate job growth, but it's a reminder of one reason Republicans in 2018 didn't run on the economy, and why Trump spends much more of his time talking about other matters: In real life, Democrats aren't against jobs. The GOP base can't truly savor the unemployment figures in part because they don't induce liberal tears. That's why the base is much more excited about the wall.

As Gateway Pundit notes, members of R.E.M. complained about the video, and the band's music publisher successfully lobbied for the removal of the original CarpeDonkum tweet, which Trump had retweeted. (Someone needs to tell R.E.M. about the YouTube video above, and about another Twitter user's repost of the video.) Eventually CarpeDonkum updated the video with a new soundtrack: the unofficial right-wing national anthem, Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA." The president (or some staffer with the keys to his account) then tweeted the recut version:



That's what American patriotism is to conservatives: liberals being upset.

I don't like conservatives and I think they're destroying America, but I want better policies, and that's what I want to cheer for. Sure, I'd be thrilled if a number of these SOBs went to prison or lost elections, but that's not what I crave most. If you were happy on Election Night 2008, I bet it was less because John McCain and Sarah Palin lost than because someone you thought would do good things for America won. Our joy was seeing that family take the stage in Grant Park, not in watching McCain and Palin concede.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I think that's a difference between us and the right. Our primary goal isn't conservative tears.