Saturday, August 31, 2019


The Washington Post reports on a failed effort to expand the president's understanding of history:
In his upcoming memoir, newly appointed Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III describes the private tour he gave President Trump of the National Museum of African American History and Culture....

Bunch recalls hoping the visit “would contribute to a broader understanding of race relations in America. I am ever the optimist.”

... they went into the galleries.

“The president paused in front of the exhibit that discussed the role of the Dutch in the slave trade,” Bunch writes. “As he pondered the label I felt that maybe he was paying attention to the work of the museum. He quickly proved me wrong. As he turned from the display he said to me, ‘You know, they love me in the Netherlands.’ All I could say was let’s continue walking.”
Confronted with displays documenting one of history's most profound moral outrages, Trump talks about ... himself. And not accurately. The visit took place in 2017. Here's what the Dutch actually thought of Trump, according to polling conducted that year:

According to a 2017 survey, U.S. President Donald Trump was not particularly well-liked among the Dutch. Nine out of ten respondents to a 2017 survey stated to consider Trump arrogant. Moreover, nearly 80 percent of respondents thought him intolerant, and just under 70 percent said Trump was dangerous. Trust in his capacities was low accordingly: another survey the same year found that just four percent of respondents had some sort of trust in the president.
This has me thinking about Trump's well-known aversion to travel. It's been said that he doesn't like to leave home, except to go to his own properties, because he's too much of a workaholic to take a vacation (no, really, that's what we were told in 2016), or because he prefers his own bed.

But this museum anecdote tells me the real reason. Why do people travel for pleasure? Because they want to see remarkable sights, visit places of breathtaking beauty, walk on grounds where extraordinary things took place.

That would be awful for Trump, for a simple reason: These are places where the surroundings are more interesting than he is. People would be there to focus on something other than Donald Trump. He couldn't bear it.

Yes, it's likely that Trump couldn't process what he saw at the Museum of African American History because he's racist. But he also can't tolerate the thought that anything, even history, could be more compelling than himself.

Friday, August 30, 2019


Josh Marshall is right about the last sentence of this tweet from the president:

I've been assuming that Trump is just trolling us when he says he wants to be president for "six years – or maybe 10 or maybe 14, right?" But he brings this up both as trolling material and as a grievance -- and it's a grievance he won't let go of.

One of Trump's core beliefs is that he can get around every law or rule. (To be fair, he's a rich person in America, so this is generally true.) Why wouldn't he believe that the presidential term limits contained in the 22nd Amendment can be finagled?

And I'll remind you again what I said a few months ago: Trump comes from a city where legally mandated mayoral term limits really do seem finagle-able. Mike Bloomberg persuaded the City Council to vote him (and the Council's own members) an exemption from the city's two-term limit, and he won a third term. Bloomberg's predecessor, Rudy Giuliani, tried to extend his term after the 9/11 attacks, and had a number of interested parties on his side, though he ultimately failed. It's no surprise that Trump thinks he can do the same.

To Trump, being term-limited means he's less of a man than heads of state for life such as Kim Jong Un and Xi Jinping. That's the primary reason he wants to keep the job forever.

If Trump wins again, winning the right to pursue a third term will probably be his top priority as president. For Trump, the point of being president is being president. I don't think he can bear the thought of not being president someday.


This is wrong:

David Brooks writes:
In the first few months of his presidency, Donald Trump surrounded himself with a certain sort of ramrod military man: John Kelly, Michael Flynn, H.R. McMaster and Jim Mattis. These men had or appeared to have the kind of manly virtues and bearing that Trump likes to see in himself: courage, toughness, combativeness.
Trump certainly sees himself as tough and combative. Courageous? If you gained his confidence, I think he'd tell you that it's stupid to risk your life, and he knows that, while the generals don't. What kind of loser would volunteer to do that?
But when you look at how someone like, say, Jim Mattis forged his character, you realize that he is actually the exact opposite of Trump. Mattis built strengths and virtues through the steady application of intense effort over decades. Trump is a man who has been progressively hollowed out by the acid of his own self-regard.
I'm sure Mattis has plenty of self-regard. But there's self-regard and then there's Trump's malignant narcissism. Trump actually has engaged in "steady application of intense effort over decades," but it's intense effort directed at getting his name in the papers and convincing people to shower him with affection.
Mattis is a man who is intensely loyal to others and attracts loyalty among those around him. Trump is disloyal to others and attracts disloyalty in return.
Trump is rich and sometimes gregarious, which has inspired a certain number of people to be loyal to him. Trump isn't exactly loyal in return -- dependent is more like it. (There are so many things Trump simply can't do, or even understand.)
... [Mattis's] new book “Call Sign Chaos,” which he wrote with Bing West and which will be released next week, is purportedly about leadership but really it is a portrait of Mattis’s life-defining love for the Marine Corps....

Love is a motivational state. It propels you. You want to make promises to the person or organization you love. Character is forged in the keeping of those promises. If, on the other hand, you are unable to love and be loved, you’re never going to be in a position to make commitments or live up to them. You’re never going to forge yourself into a person who can be relied upon.
Malignant narcissism is also a motivational state. It (along with millions of dollars of Daddy's money) propelled Trump. He made lots of promises to the one he loved -- himself -- and he kept most of them. He's (sort of) rich. He's constantly in the press. He welched on a lot of deals, but not on the commitments he made to himself.

And here's why I don't believe Mattis is the man Trump wishes he were:
Mattis’s drive, born of his devotion to the Corps, is his most telling trait. He works insanely hard, propels himself extremely quickly, making himself, every day, a better Marine. Much of the work is intellectual....

“If you haven’t read hundreds of books, you are functionally illiterate, and you will be incompetent, because your personal experiences alone aren’t broad enough to sustain you,” Mattis and West write.
Trump doesn't think he needs to read. He believes in eugenics. He thinks his genes gave him some sort of special brain that allows him to outmaneuver people who have studied subjects in depth. (Remember, he said on the campaign trail that he knew more about ISIS than the generals. Earlier this year, Axios compiled a list of all the things Trump claims to know more about than anyone else. Drones? Campaign finance? Social media? The courts? He's the expert. Just ask him.)
He is also willing to submit himself to an institution. Somebody like Trump is anti-institutional. He thinks every organization is about himself, and every organization’s procedures and traditions should bend to his desires.

But a person with an institutional mind-set has a deep reverence for the organization he has joined and how it was built by those who came before. He understands that institutions pass down certain habits, practices and standards of excellence.
This is another treason Trump would never really want to be Jim Mattis. Trump wants to smash everything that doesn't have his own name on it. I'm sure he thinks loyalty to an institution outside your own family is for suckers.

When Trump appointed a lot of generals to top positions in the early days of his presidency, it wasn't because he wanted to be them -- it was because he thought being photographed with them made him look good. He surrounded himself with generals for exactly the same reason he's always surrounded himself with big-haired, big-breasted blondes -- they make him look like a stud.

Trump doesn't want to be Jim Mattis. He wanted to be able to say, "Everyone thinks Mattis is the toughest guy in the world but he kisses my ass. I get the reflected glory, and I didn't even have to get shot at."

Thursday, August 29, 2019


So this is happening:
The Supreme Court in January said it would hear New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York, a case involving some unique-to-New-York restrictions on how gun owners with permits may transport their weapons. The rules were so strict that they forbade taking an unloaded weapon to a firing range outside the city or to a permit-holder’s second home within the state....

The city of New York rescinded the regulations that the gun groups and owners had objected to, and the state legislature passed a law prohibiting their reinstatement. The two sides are now sparring over whether that renders the case moot, something the court is scheduled to consider Oct. 1.
This case is obviously "moot" as any normal non-lawyer would understand the concept of mootness -- the law being challenged is no longer in force and can never be reinstated. But liberals worry -- quite reasonably -- that our Federalist Society Supreme Court might decide to hear the case anyway and use it as an excuse to legislate from the bench, loosening gun laws because gun-law loosening is one of the top long-term projects of movement conservatism.

So five Democratic U.S. senators wrote a brief urging the Court not to do that.
“The Supreme Court is not well. And the people know it,” writes [Rhode Island senator Sheldon] Whitehouse, who is listed as the attorney of record on the friend-of-the-court brief. “Perhaps the Court can heal itself before the public demands it be ‘restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics.’ ” The phrase is from a poll question with which a majority of Americans agreed.

Democratic Sens. Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) Richard J. Durbin (Ill.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) joined the incendiary brief, which questions whether the court’s conservative majority — nominated by three Republican presidents — is motivated by partisan intent and is in the pocket of the National Rifle Association and the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group.

“Out in the real world, Americans are murdered each day with firearms in classrooms or movie theaters or churches or city streets, and a generation of preschoolers is being trained in active-shooter survival drills,” Whitehouse writes. “In the cloistered confines of this Court, and notwithstanding the public imperatives of these massacres, the NRA and its allies brashly presume, in word and deed, that they have a friendly audience for their ‘project.’”
Please note that there are 45 Democratic senators, plus two independents who caucus with the Democrats. Only five of these senators signed the brief. The Democratic Senate caucus as a whole is not on board with it.

But now all the Republican senators have fired back -- even the few who pretend to be moderate and opposed to partisanship:
All 53 Republicans in the Senate urged the Supreme Court on Thursday not to be “cowed” by a brief from a handful of Democratic senators that warned that the court risks its impartial reputation if it continues to hear a gun case that the Democrats consider moot.

In a letter to the court’s clerk, the Republicans said the brief filed by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and four other Democrats “openly threatened this court with political retribution if it failed to dismiss the petition as moot.”

The justices “must not be cowed by the threats of opportunistic politicians,” said the letter, drafted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)....

The letter notes that some Democrats in Congress and some of the party’s presidential candidates have said they would consider increasing the number of seats on the Supreme Court to dilute its conservative majority.

“The Democrats’ amicus brief demonstrates that their court-packing plans are more than mere pandering,” the Republican letter states. “They are a direct, immediate threat to the independence of the judiciary and the rights of all Americans.”
And because McConnell loves to twist the knife, his letter includes this:
“We share Justice Ginsburg’s view that ‘nine seems to be a good number,’ they said. “And it will remain that way as long as we are here.”
Yes -- unless Republicans hold the Senate while a Democrat is president, in which case the number of sitting justices will undoubtedly be reduced to eight indefinitely as soon as Ginsberg retires, and from there to seven, or six, or ...

I'm reading about this as I also read about Arizona governor Doug Ducey's project to turn the Arizona state supreme court into an arm of the GOP, a project that has included court-packing -- Ducey signed a bill to add two seats to the court in 2016. So spare me the pieties about leaving the courts alone.

Five Democrats tried to call the Supreme Court on its naked partisanship. They're now facing off against 53 Republicans, who are urging the Supremes to act as an unelected legislature, accusing the small group of Democrat of intimidation while engaging in intimidation themselves. Because the Democratic Party isn't a fundamentally radical organizations, Democrats still struggle when they tryto counteract the bullying of the GOP.


I regularly criticize The New York Times, but the paper made a proper editorial judgment when it placed this story on page A17 of the print edition:
Jim Mattis, who resigned last year as defense secretary, implicitly criticized the Trump administration in an op-ed published Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal, writing that the current political climate was dividing the country into “hostile tribes” and driving away longtime allies.

The essay is an excerpt from Mr. Mattis’s book, “Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead,” which will be published Tuesday by Random House. While most of it is a reflection on leadership and public service, the essay delivers a harsher rebuke to the president’s leadership style than what Mr. Mattis initially penned in his resignation letter in December 2018.

“A polemicist’s role is not sufficient for a leader,” wrote Mr. Mattis, who served more than four decades in the Marine Corps and rose to the rank of four-star general. “A leader must display strategic acumen that incorporates respect for those nations that have stood with us when trouble loomed.”

... words of critique in the excerpt are carefully phrased and never blame the president by name.

“What concerns me most as a military man is not our external adversaries; it is our internal divisiveness,” Mr. Mattis wrote in the excerpt. “We are dividing into hostile tribes cheering against each other, fueled by emotion and a mutual disdain that jeopardizes our future, instead of rediscovering our common ground and finding solutions.”
I'm sure the Times would have happily taken the op-ed and given Mattis's words much more prominence; the terrible placement in the paper was, in all likelihood, the result of ordinary professional jealousy. But if it was for the wrong reasons, this was still the correct placement: Trump might eventually post a few angry tweets about Mattis, but this doesn't wound him at all, especially when it's couched in David Broder-esque both-sides-do-it language.

And especially when Mattis is clearly not about to get into specifics:
Former U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said in a new interview he feels duty-bound to keep quiet his personal opinions of President Donald Trump’s leadership, but revealed his obligation to refrain from criticism of the current commander-in-chief is “not eternal.”

The revered former Marine Corps general ... invoked “the French concept of devoir de réserve” in a conversation with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg for a story published Thursday.

“The duty of silence," Mattis explained. "If you leave an administration, you owe some silence."

... Pressed on whether he bears a responsibility to warn Americans about a potentially unfit president, Mattis insisted it was inappropriate to “endanger the country by attacking the elected commander in chief.”

But Mattis also indicated he may soon more vocally challenge Trump or speak out about his time in the president’s Cabinet. “There is a period in which I owe my silence. It’s not eternal. It’s not going to be forever,” he said.

General Mattis is endangering the country by not telling us what he knows. So is every other disaffected ex-Trumper. (Hey, whatever happened to the author of "I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration"? We're coming up to the one-year anniversary of that nothingburger op-ed, which appeared on September 5 of last year. It was seen as a bombshell at the time. So what impact did it have?)

Veiled, diplomatically phrased, non-specific attacks on Trump don't motivate him to curb his behavior. They don't inspire reflection within his inner circle. They don't lead to second thoughts on the part of his allies in Congress or in the media. So what's the point?

Journalists, don't treat these teases as heroes. They should get into specifics about Trump's misrule or they go away quietly.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019


On a day when the pollsters at Quinnipiac are reporting that President Trump is trailing Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris by double digits (and Pete Buttigieg by 9 points), we have this Washington Post report on Trump's desperate quest to please his base before Election Day:
President Trump is so eager to complete hundreds of miles of border fence ahead of the 2020 presidential election that he has directed aides to fast-track billions of dollars’ worth of construction contracts, aggressively seize private land and disregard environmental rules, according to current and former officials involved with the project.

He also has told worried subordinates that he will pardon them of any potential wrongdoing should they have to break laws to get the barriers built quickly, those officials said.
This is Trump's strategy: keep trying to please the voters who are already certain to be on his side, even if it alienates the people who haven't made up their minds yet (and motivates the people who despise him but aren't sufficiently motivated to vote against him yet). To me it seems like a blueprint for defeat, and the Quinnipiac poll may already be reflecting that. But hey, Trump became an instant campaign expert one night in November 2016, so what do I know?

This is intended to win the election for Trump -- but please note that he's already adding to what I'm sure is an extensive selection of people and institutions he'll blame if he loses:
Trump has repeatedly promised to complete 500 miles of fencing by the time voters go to the polls in November 2020.... But the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has completed just about 60 miles of “replacement” barrier during the first 2½ years of Trump’s presidency, all of it in areas that previously had border infrastructure....

When aides have suggested that some orders are illegal or unworkable, Trump has suggested he would pardon the officials if they would just go ahead, aides said. He has waved off worries about contracting procedures and the use of eminent domain, saying “take the land,” according to officials who attended the meetings.

“Don’t worry, I’ll pardon you,” he has told officials in meetings about the wall....

Trump has recently urged the Army Corps to award a contract to a company he favors, North Dakota-based Fisher Industries, though the firm has not been selected. Fisher has been aggressively pushed by Trump ally Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), who briefly held up the confirmation of a Trump budget office nominee last month in an attempt to put pressure on the Army Corps.

Cramer demanded to see the contracts awarded to Fisher’s competitors, lashing out at the “arrogance” of the Army Corps in emails to military officials after he was told the bidding process involved proprietary information that could not be shared. The CEO of Fisher Industries is a major backer of Cramer and has donated to his campaigns.

Cramer visited the El Paso area Tuesday to tour border facilities and view a span of privately funded border fencing Fisher built as a showcase for what it claims are superior construction techniques....

The senator had asked Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, the commander of the Army Corps, to meet him at the site, but Semonite is traveling in Brazil, where the Trump administration has offered to help fight wildfires in the Amazon....

“The agents on the ground said the walls have been very helpful in slowing illegal crossings,” Cramer wrote. “I’m not a wall-building expert, but at the pace of the last few years, it’s hard to see how 450 miles gets built with the same process...  I wish DHS would engage a whole bunch of builders and innovators rather than rely on the same decades old bureaucracy.”
We know that if Trump loses his reelection bid (and accepts the results of the election), he'll blame the usual scapegoats: the mainstream media, the "biased" tech giants, Democratic states and localities that allegedly permit voter fraud, and so on. But here are some new contenders from Trump's doghouse: the Army Corps (especially General Semonite), aides who won't insist on illegal behavior on Trump's behalf, and whoever in the Department of Homeland Security won't hire companies run by donors to Trump allies.

So, yes, the main message of this story is that Trump is hell-bent on building his wall, or at least enough of it to secure him a win in 2020, with no regard for the rule of law -- but the subtext is that Trump has an overwhelming fear of defeat. Pundits may say that he has the fundamentals on his side, and data nerds may insist that he can win the Electoral College even if he loses by five million votes, but he's terrified of losing. Fortunately for his delicate psyche, he'll have a long list of people to blame if it happens, and there isn't the slightest chance he'll put himself on that list.


As far as I can tell, Jeremy Peters of The New York Times really believes this:
In the late summer of 2009, as the recession-ravaged economy bled half a million jobs a month, the country seemed to lose its mind....

Organizers convened mass gatherings across the country called “tea parties,” and they had a specific set of demands: Stop President Barack Obama’s health care law; tame the national deficit; and don’t let the government decide which parts of the economy are worth rescuing.

Ten years since that summer of rage, the ideas that animated the Tea Party movement have been largely abandoned by Republicans under President Trump. Trillion-dollar deficits are back and on track to keep growing. The Affordable Care Act has never been repealed, and Republicans concede it may never be....

But [the Tea Party] continues to define the country today. It ignited a revival of the politics of outrage and mistrust in government, breathing new life into the populist passions that continue to threaten the stability of both political parties. Even if the Tea Party’s ideas are dead, its attitude lives on.
The point Peters makes in that last paragraph is unobjectionable: Even though the Tea Party is dead, its anger is still with us today.

But "a specific set of demands"? Seriously? Even New York Times reporters knew better than that at the time. Here are excerpts from a February 2010 Times story by David Barstow:
Tea Party supporters are already singling out Republican candidates who they claim have “aided and abetted” what they call the slide to tyranny: Mark Steven Kirk, a candidate for the Senate from Illinois, for supporting global warming legislation; ... Meg Whitman, a candidate for governor in California, for saying she was a “big fan” of Van Jones, once Mr. Obama’s “green jobs czar.”

... Their families upended by lost jobs, foreclosed homes and depleted retirement funds, they said they wanted to know why it happened and whom to blame.

That is often the point when Tea Party supporters say they began listening to Glenn Beck. With his guidance, they explored the Federalist Papers, exposés on the Federal Reserve, the work of Ayn Rand and George Orwell. Some went to constitutional seminars. Online, they discovered radical critiques of Washington on Web sites like (“Home of the Patriotic Resistance”) and (“Because there is a war on for your mind.”).

Many describe emerging from their research as if reborn to a new reality. Some have gone so far as to stock up on ammunition, gold and survival food in anticipation of the worst.

... Tea Party gatherings are full of people who say they would do away with the Federal Reserve, the federal income tax and countless agencies.... Some of the prescriptions they are debating — secession, tax boycotts, states “nullifying” federal laws, forming citizen militias — are outside the mainstream, too.

... Tea Party events have become a magnet for other groups and causes — including gun rights activists, anti-tax crusaders, libertarians, militia organizers, the “birthers” who doubt President Obama’s citizenship, Lyndon LaRouche supporters and proponents of the sovereign states movement.

It is a sprawling rebellion, but running through it is a narrative of impending tyranny. This narrative permeates Tea Party Web sites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and YouTube videos. It is a prominent theme of their favored media outlets and commentators, and it connects the disparate issues that preoccupy many Tea Party supporters — from the concern that the community organization Acorn is stealing elections to the belief that Mr. Obama is trying to control the Internet and restrict gun ownership.
Everyone knew that at the time. Everyone knew that the Tea Party was a toxic hash of every ugly idea that have ever crawled up from the right-wing swamps -- the most prominent of which was that Barack Obama was a subhuman Negro usurper with no loyalty to America.

Peters clearly did only a cursory review of old stories. He didn't interview a single rank-and-file member of the Tea Party, though he did interview several political insiders who were linked to the Tea Party's upper echelons. They told him the Tea Party had carefully delineated goals. The historical record says otherwise. It's not just that the rage of the Tea Party was indistinguishable from the rage of Trump's deplorables -- the racism and conspiratorialism were nearly identical. Peters should know that, and say it.



Well, at least the Times saw the error of its ways.

Or maybe not:

Tuesday, August 27, 2019


It kills me to say this, but Jonah Goldberg has a point about the president's recent behavior:
... I am skeptical that the president’s mental state has gotten worse.

Instead, ... I think the fizzle of the Mueller probe was a grievous blow to the president, for the simple reason that it removed an extremely useful political and psychological bogeyman.

Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation allowed Trump to give voice to his persecution complex. In his mind, at least, the “witch hunt” was an all-purpose excuse to whine about “fake news” and distract from other controversies....

In a sense, Mueller was a substitute for Hillary Clinton.... After the election, Mueller and his “angry Dems” of the Deep State served as a serviceable alternative....

With Mueller gone, Trump is left scrambling to find a replacement....

He needs some new enemy to brace against, and he’s flailing around in search of one.
The Squad? The Fed chairman? Not compelling enough, for Trump or his fan base.

Other presidents try to pursue long-range policy goals that require planning, study, and a great deal of groundwork. But it would absurd to think Trump could manage that.

Our easily distracted president needs a new all-consuming enemy to keep him from flailing wildly. This seems like a good reason to try impeaching him.

Not only does he obviously deserve it, but if there's a serious impeachment effort, he won't be rudderless. Sure, he'll be the same ignorant, amoral, incompetent, criminal-minded president he is now, but he'll have focus. He won't go off half-cocked. His attention deficit will be alleviated somewhat. He'll be able to concentrate at last. Job #1 will be saving his own ass.

He'll still be an appallingly bad president. But at least we'll be able to predict with reasonable certainty what he'll be obsessed with when he wakes up in the morning. (No more attempts to buy Greenland.)

Impeachment: It's good for America -- and it might be good for Trump. At least it will keep him out of unpredictable mischief.


In the news:
An Oklahoma judge on Monday ruled against Johnson & Johnson in the state’s opioid case, forcing the company to pay $572 million in the first ruling in the U.S. holding a drugmaker accountable for helping fuel the epidemic.
The opioid crisis has devastated small-town and rural America. Surely the heartlanders who comment at Free Republic are cheering this verdict ... right?

Blame shifting by greedy government bureaucrats against a perfect scapegoat. Illicit market is booming and the government wins on both ends. We all know the government is making a ton off the war on drugs and it will never end.


Well the libs got their wish. All the drug companies will soon be out of business.


Everybody losses on this one. The only winner is the bloated federal government by whose ever expanding tyranny is the REAL perp.

When the mostly unconstitutional government wins, We the People lose.


Great news, unless you suffer debilitating pain. You’ll just have to suffer, or find a drug dealer on the street somewhere...


Guess who increased the opioid production limits in 2012 by about 40%? DEA of course. Government is great at entrapment schemes.


Bad precedent as this sets up gun and ammo makers as the next targets.


And beer, liquor & wine. “J.D. killed my son!”


I don’t like J&J due to their leftist views. Still this one is wrong.


The Judiciary is destroying the country.


Alcohol gun, and ammo makers have some statutory limited immunity, but we all know that the leftists will use these types of cases to challenge protections in addition to red flag laws.


Pennies on the dollar for the claimants and millions for the lawyers............
The same thing for the states who won millions of dollars from the tobacco industry while their state hired attorneys collected millions simply for providing the information that was already garnered from the lawsuits down south.........


sure, all these people demanding more pills and they escape any responsibility.....
just like matter what, it is not, never was, nor ever shall be the fault of the smoker....smokers, btw, ALWAYS get their breaks...

oh to be favored in this county.....

smokers/druggies favored.....overweight??...its your own darn fault you lazy cow...


I know we have some smart hackers. Found out how this “judge” did with regard to real (e.g. STEM) classes as an undergrad. (Science for poets and football players, no doubt.)

We already know the relationship between reality and liberal law.

Liberal law - “Spooky action at a distance.”


When I lived near Savannah, a lawyer got something like a 9 million dollar judgement for a baby.

He paid the baby $100,000.00 and gave the rest to himself. Fortunately the Probate Judge caught it. He reversed the payments.


THE cause of the opiod crisis was the Obama administration making pain a part of vital signs.

Doctors had to describe these pills if anyone was in pain of face lawsuits and disciplinary actions.


The cause of the opioid crisis was the rise in illegal drug market which was facilitated by government bureaucracies, money laundering banks and the police state.

There weren’t hardly any lawsuits for inadequate pain control, you could list them on your hand.

Sessions was the scumbag that pushed this to the extreme; the leftists and statists in the doj went right along with it becuse they saw easy targets. It’s a lot harder to go after drug lords and gangs; they don’t have addresses and regular bank accounts. The people in these agencies are statists and leftists and don’t want to go up against hardened targets.


What a Racket, I hope Everyone of these Plaintiffs, Jurors, Lawyers and the Judge SUFFER from a Bad Accident or other extremely painful event, and they should ALL be put on a NO OPIOID LIST for the Rest of their miserable lives.

when I was 18 I had a Bad Accident and had a choice to go into a Medical Coma or Take ALL the Percodan(yesterdays oxycontin) I could eat for 3 months. I became very addicted, I went through withdrawls in the Hospital immediately after Surgery. All by CHOICE!!!


J&J simply makes the drugs to relieve pain. Patient’s cannot obtain them without a MD Rx.

Though it would be hard on the public, I hope these companies respond to this govt thievery by going Galt’s Gulch on them. Fire thousands of workers, raze the manufacturing plants, and return it to the state “the way they found it.”
Conservatives never change. They say they're anti-"elitist," and these days they cheer on Tucker Carlson when he occasionally denounces capitalism. But when authorities -- even in a conservative state like Oklahoma -- go after a big corporation, conservatives rush to defend capitalism against the Evil Government, which is the true enemy (and, in their minds, the true epicenter of "elitism," alongside Hollywood and academia). Big Business can do no wrong. That's still a hill conservatives will die on.

Monday, August 26, 2019


NH Journal reports on a Bill Weld campaign appearance in which he called for impeachment of President Trump if he wins reelection:
For former Massachusett Gov. Bill Weld, the battle against the Trump presidency doesn’t necessarily end on Election Day. He says that if Trump is re-elected, Congress should promptly impeach him.

“I want the whole country to rise up as one and said, we’ve had enough of his crap,” Weld said of the Trump presidency. “And I’ve long said that one of two things was going to happen: Either the sober second judgment of the community’s going to kick in, which may be happening in the last month or so. I think the president’s gone a little bit further on the proverbial limb in terms of lashing out all day long. And people will look at that and say, hm, maybe that’s not my dish after all.”

And if not and Trump is re-elected?

“I think Congress should impeach him.”
In response to this National Review's Jim Geraghty harrumphs:
Salute Weld for his honesty, I suppose; he’s perfectly comfortable overruling the decision of the American voters at the ballot box.
But does anyone believe a Trump reelection will be "the decision of the American voters at the ballot box"? Many people (including me) think he could win a second term, but few apart from the most rabid consumers of GOP propaganda believe he'll actually win a majority, or even a plurality, of the popular vote. He lost by nearly three million votes last time; a month ago, Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report was predicting that Trump could win reelection while trailing nationwide by as much as five million votes.

Not that any of this matters. Richard Nixon won a 49-state landslide in 1972 and was driven from office less than two years later, when it was clear he'd be impeached and removed from office by the Senate.

Defeat hurts, but it's no reason for an opposition party to stop being the opposition. George W. Bush won reelection in 2004, but Democrats successfully fought his Social Security privatization plan in 2005. After that -- and after Bush botched Hurricane Katrina the same year, all while the Iraq War became more and more of a quagmire -- Democrats weren't treated as a party rejecting the will of the people. They won Congress back in 2006 (though they chose not to impeach Bush).

Hold the trial in Trump's second term -- maybe not right away, but eventually. The Russia crimes may seem like old news by then, but Trump will keep committing impeachable offenses (arguably, his suggestion that he should profit off the G7 by holding it at one of his own resorts next year is another one). If he's president again, he'll be unmoored. There's no telling what he'll do. I think he'll cross enough lines in the months immediately after Election Day that a plausible case for impeachment will be possible with no reference to Russiagate whatsoever. And, of course, other investigations of past conduct are underway outside D.C. -- who knows what will emerge?

No, he's not likely to be convicted in the Senate. But the crimes need to be put on the record. Impeachment will seem like a terrible idea in mid-November 2020 if Trump has just won a second term -- but by mid-2021 or shortly afterward, it will be as clear to most Americans that a horrible mistake has been made again, and impeachment won't seem crazy at all.


Conservatives don't like cancel culture -- the process of drawing attention to objectionable words and deeds in order to shame the perpetrators and sometimes drive them from public life. Or I should say that conservatives don't like cancel culture unless they're the ones demanding the cancellations:
A loose network of conservative operatives allied with the White House is pursuing what they say will be an aggressive operation to discredit news organizations deemed hostile to President Trump by publicizing damaging information about journalists....

Operatives have closely examined more than a decade’s worth of public posts and statements by journalists, the people familiar with the operation said. Only a fraction of what the network claims to have uncovered has been made public, the people said, with more to be disclosed as the 2020 election heats up. The research is said to extend to members of journalists’ families who are active in politics, as well as liberal activists and other political opponents of the president....

It is clear from the cases to date that among the central players in the operation is Arthur Schwartz, a combative 47-year-old conservative consultant who is a friend and informal adviser to Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son.
The story is from The New York Times, which is so angry about the campaign that it's released a letter from publisher A.G. Sulzberger denouncing it. Sulzberger says this is an attempt to "harass and embarrass anyone affiliated with independent news organizations that have asked tough questions and brought uncomfortable truths to light."

You'll probably disagree, but I think conservatives have every right to do this. I think they have every right to do this because I think we have every right to do this -- I think it's appropriate to judge people on their words and deeds. War, climate change, children in concentration camps, an unhinged president of the United States -- cancel culture doesn't upset me nearly as much.

Also, this effort hasn't been terribly successful so far.

As New York magazine's Matt Stieb notes,
Shortly after the New York Times published an editorial condemning Trump’s anti-Semitic language and a profile of the new White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, Breitbart News published an article featuring anti-Semitic and racist tweets from Times political editor Tom Wright-Piersanti, who was in college at the time of his bigoted posts. (The paper stated that the tweets were “a clear violation of our standards” and that it is reviewing the issue.) ... Wright-Piersanti apologized....

In recent months, Schwartz has dredged up tweets from a CNN reporter using a gay slur in 2011 and a CNN photojournalist’s anti-Semitic tweets from the same year.
So that's the body count:

* A Times senior editor embarrassed but, so far, not fired or demoted for moderately offensive tweets.

* A CNN White House correspondent (and former correspondent for the conservative Daily Caller) still on the job after she apologized for a couple of college-age tweets offensive to LGBT people.

* a CNN photo editor out of a job after his anti-Semitic tweets were discovered.

I don't have a problem with holding these people accountable for what they've posted -- and, with the exception of Elshamy, they still have their jobs. Schwartz et al. would like us to believe that they're saving the real bombshells for a more opportune moment, but after watching folks like James O'Keefe for years, I think I know the right's M.O. -- they've led off with the best they've got, and the material they haven't released is no more earth-shattering than this, and probably less so.

What's hilarious is that the right is now experiencing what left-wing critics of The New York Times in particular regularly experience when we criticize the paper -- a haughty self-righteousness and a closing of ranks. The peasants are getting uppity! How dare they second-guess the way we go about our business!

But ultimately this won't amount to much. It reminds me of the way the Trump campaign regularly plants stories (mostly at Politico) about how relentlessly it will fight for the votes of non-white voters or suburban women in 2020. The campaign won't really win over alienated voter groups, and this opposition-research crew won't really bring down or discredit the MSM. It's empty boasting.

But please note that this campaign involves allies of Donald Trump Junior. I'll keep saying it: He's not going away anytime soon. He won't leave the scene when his father does. I don't believe any Trump will ever spend a night in prison, so get used to having Junior around.

Sunday, August 25, 2019


In the comments to my last post, there's been a lively debate on the subject of whether President Trump is suffering from neurological deficits or other problems that will ultimately remove him from the presidency. The Twitter feed of Tom Joseph has been offered in evidence. Joseph acknowledges on a separate site that he brings no professional knowledge to this discussion, but he's dealt with dementia in his own family:
My background is running technology & finance businesses in Chicago & Silicon Valley and technology/biotech investing. I’ve said a number of times on Twitter that I am not a physician. Additionally, I have said hundreds of times that Donald Trump should receive a neurological exam, workup and evaluation at a top facility like the Mayo Clinic or Johns Hopkins. In the absence of proper medical care, raising public awareness is necessary to expose what's obvious.

As for my background with Dementia:

-My mother and sister died from Huntington's Disease.
-My father died from Frontotemporal Dementia- PSP.

I've been:

-In the Legal Guardian role.
-The genetic risk informer to multiple family trees.
-Biotech investor in multiple arenas.
-Researcher in the dementia field for most of my life.
-Personally "at risk" to acquire Huntington's for decades- a 50% chance of inheriting it, until a genetic test cleared me.​
Does that mean he's right? Joseph retweeted this recently:

I don't find the pronunciation of "absurd" odd at all. As for the others -- yes, they're disturbing. But are there possible explanations other than dementia?

I've asked a couple of times on this blog whether Trump is on drugs. I wrote last November:
In May of this year, NBC News reported that a year earlier Trump aides raided the offices of the president's longtime personal physician, Harold Bornstein; they took all of Trump's medical records.

At the time, I questioned whether that was related to reports that Trump was prescribed mood-altering drugs for an alleged "metabolic imbalance" in the 1980s.

More recently, I've wondered why Trump took Senator Jon Tester's criticism of Dr. Ronny Jackson, the White House physician, so personally. Information unearthed by Tester and others revealed, among other things, that Jackson had quite freely distributed uppers and downers to top government officials, especially those traveling on long flights on Air Force One. The revelations compelled Jackson to withdraw from consideration for the post of secretary of veterans affairs.
Trump, we're told, doesn't drink and doesn't do drugs. You know who else was publicly anti-drug? Elvis. Prince. Michael Jackson. All of them were brought low by prescription medications.

Whatever's going on, Trump seems out of control these days. Joseph sees problems with Trump's walking as well as his speech and moods. (When I watch Trump walk, I see an old, overweight, inactive man who might have stiffness in his joints but still wants to convince us -- and himself -- that he's a 30-year-old stud.) I don't know what the truth is.

But if he has dementia, it's taking a while to fully manifest itself -- and it's extremely unlikely that he'll be escorted off the stage before November 2020 unless he's completely incoherent in a public setting between now and then, probably more than once. Short of that, his impairment (if that's what this is) will be covered up. If this is dementia, we should not assume it will come on quickly.

Charlie Pierce is also not a doctor, but he watched his father's decline from Alzheimer's and wrote a book on the subject. He reminded us a while back that we saw signs of Ronald Reagan's impairment as early as 1984:
I awoke this morning thinking of Ronald Reagan. This, I admit, is not something that happens very often. However, what I awoke thinking about was, specifically, the first debate in 1984 between Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale. It took place in Louisville, Kentucky, and, believe me when I say this, the incumbent president of the United States stood on the stage exposed that night as a symptomatic Alzheimer's patient. This was not something I took lightly. The disease was in the process of swallowing my father at the time, as it eventually would his four other siblings. At that point, even at the rough beginning of my encounter with the disease, I knew it when I saw it, and I saw it that night. Had the moderator of that debate asked, "Mr. President, can you tell us what city you are in right now?", the odds were maybe no better than 2-1 that Reagan would have been able to come up with the answer. Years later, in the course of researching a book, after Reagan's Alzheimer's had become public knowledge, I had occasion to ask a prominent Alzheimer's researcher when he first thought Reagan had become symptomatic. "That first debate," the doctor told me, "It scared the hell out of me for his entire second term."
Ron Reagan, the former president's son, said in a 2011 book that he saw signs of dementia even earlier, in the third year of Reagan's first term. Lesley Stahl of CBS News wrote in 2000 that she saw signs midway through Reagan's second term, in 1986, during an Oval Office visit.

Yet Reagan's Alzheimer's diagnosis wasn't made until the fall of 1994. What some observers suspected wasn't confirmed for a decade.

If Trump seems increasingly impaired, yet is relatively coherent (by his standards) most of the time, the goal will be to get him across the finish line -- reelect him and deal with his problems later. I keep telling you that he's still good at the (awful) zingers he uses in his campaign rallies; Reagan could still deliver a speech effectively well into his second term, and even afterward.

What will happen if the president has one real meltdown -- not a few ill-considered pronouncements, but a public appearance in which he can't even manage to communicate? Here's a prediction: Word will circulate on the conservative Internet that the Deep State is poisoning him, slipping him toxins or prescription drugs to make him appear to be suffering from a neurological disorder. That will be extremely plausible to most of his base. And if he subsequently makes a public appearance in which he seems in command of himself, that will be all the confirmation his base will need.

They're not going to pull the plug on Trump. Anyone who tries will be a pariah on the right for life. Even if something's terribly wrong with his health -- which I don't think we should assume -- they're going to stick with him as long as possible.

Saturday, August 24, 2019


The future of the Republican Party is neither of these people:
When top Republicans convened at the St. Regis resort in Aspen, Colo. last month for an exclusive donor retreat, several attendees said there was palpable tension in the room as the gathering’s two headliners prepared to speak: Vice President Mike Pence and former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley.

... to some it seemed as if Pence and Haley, who spoke on back-to-back days, were vying for their attention. Some in the audience ... buzzed they were getting a sneak preview of a 2024 Republican primary....

At a time when Republicans are starting to contemplate what their party will look like after Donald Trump leaves office, a rivalry has developed between the two politicians who cut markedly different profiles — and signs of strain are bubbling to the surface.
Are Pence and Haley sizing each other up in anticipation of the 2024 presidential race? Was Haley's team responsible for the recent rumor that she might replace Pence on the 2020 GOP ticket? How hard will Haley work to help the GOP in the 2020 elections, and how hard is she working to help herself? These are the questions asked in this story (from Politico).

I've told you several times that I don't believe Haley can win the 2024 nomination. She's not of European descent. She was raised a Sikh. She's been a critic of Trump, and as this story notes, that criticism continues.
Earlier this month, Haley took a swipe at Trump after his criticism of Baltimore and its black congressman, Elijah Cummings. “This is so unnecessary,” she wrote on Twitter, adding the eyeroll emoji. White House counselor and former Pence pollster Kellyanne Conway then fired back: “THIS is so unnecessary. Trump-PENCE2020,” Conway wrote of Haley’s tweet.
But Pence won't be the 2024 nominee either. Recent reporting on President Trump's popularity with evangelicals makes clear what should have been obvious to everyone a long time ago: The Christian right isn't looking for a candidate who behaves like a Christian. The Christian right is looking for a candidate who pays lip service to Christianity while attacking the enemies of right-wing conservatism (and conservatism in general) as viciously and relentlessly as possible. Recall what Elizabeth Bruenig recently wrote in The Washington Post about a conversation she had with several evangelical Trump supporters in Texas:
... perhaps the most illuminating moment of the evening came when I asked whether any of them would be willing to vote for a more traditional evangelical challenger to Trump, should one hypothetically rise to oppose him in the primaries.

At first, there were murmurs about the possibility of Vice President Pence. But then Maria Ivy warned that Pence is soft compared with Trump, too decent and mannerly to take on the job. Bob Collins agreed: “The president is having to deal with a den of vipers,” he said. “I’m not sure Pence could do that.” “It’s spiritual warfare,” Dale Ivy added, emphasizing that Trump is the only man in the field who seems strong enough to confront it.
Given the choice between a brawler who doesn't talk about Jesus enough and a devout Christian who doesn't brawl enough, evangelical voters will choose the brawler every time.

You know my short list for 2024: Dan Crenshaw, Tom Cotton, Liz Cheney, Matt Gaetz, Donald Junior. (UPDATE: I should add Josh Hawley to this list.) That's not an exhaustive list -- the point is that the nominee won't be a break from Trumpism or a "healer." The Politico story tells us:
Haley’s forthcoming memoir, to be released in November, may offer a hint of her approach. While the book isn’t expected to take direct shots at the White House, its promotional materials describe her as “a leader who seeks to bring Americans together in divisive times.”
Forget it. That's precisely what the GOP base wants to avoid.

Friday, August 23, 2019


The president of the United States seems more and more unhinged every day, but is he any crazier than the average consumer of right-wing media?

Here's one of the stories currently at Gateway Pundit on the subject of Ruth Bader Ginsberg's cancer diagnosis:
Ruth Bader Ginsburg has Pancreatic Cancer and Received Radiation; Too Bad Google and YouTube are Censoring Cancer Cures that Actually Work

Earlier today the US Supreme Court disclosed that Ginsburg received treatment this summer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

The beloved Supreme Court Justice has pancreatic cancer and is receiving radiation.

It’s too bad research on real alternatives that could save Ginsburg’s life are no longer readily available online.

The tech giants deleted Natural News from their platforms over the past year. Natural News specializes in alternative treatments and methods to treat diseases. They are no longer allowed by the liberal tech giants to offer alternatives for ailing Americans.

Democrats cheered when Natural News was deplatformed because they have a conservative bent.

So liberals thought it was great.

Now those same tech giants are killing beloved liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg by censoring alternative treatments that could save her.
Meanwhile, over at Big League Politics, there's this headline:

A message echoed by Rush Limbaugh on his radio show today:
So the ChiComs announce they’re gonna raise tariffs, $75 billion. The Dow Jones Industrial Average down about 500 points, and Trump hereby orders U.S. companies to start looking for an alternative to China for manufacturing and so forth. Of course, the media and the Democrat Party find themselves in a fascinating situation. They’re actively hoping for American economic decline. They actually find themselves on the side of the ChiComs here.

If the ChiComs are going to try to make life tougher for Trump and tougher for American consumers, then the Democrat Party really has no choice but than to support them, and the media ditto. And that is exactly what is happening as this story unfolds.

Rather than the media and a political party joining the president trying to bring a trading partner to heel and to engineer a fair set of trading circumstances, the media and the Democrat side with the ChiComs, portraying Trump as the out-of-control Looney Tune that is destabilizing the world.
But here's Limbaugh's most paranoid pronouncement of the day:
Multiple sources on Martha’s Vineyard say that the Obamas are now in escrow for the estate owned by the owner of the Boston Celtics....

The Obamas have just sunk $15 million into something that may not be there in 10 years because of climate change and rising sea levels. So why would the Obamas do that? Why would the brilliant Barack Hussein O plunk down $15 million on a property that’s gonna be ruined and destroyed inside of 10, maybe 12 years at the outside because of climate change?

Well, let’s see. What could the answer be? Maybe because they know that this whole climate change thing is nothing but a gigantic left-wing agenda-driven hoax!

... the truth is Algore doesn’t really believe it. He’s done a great job of convincing people. Obama doesn’t really believe this crap. If he did, they wouldn’t be buying a $15 million home that’s gonna be overrun by the ocean in years. Now, some of you are saying, “Well, wait a minute, Rush. Maybe not. Maybe they don’t want to live in it any longer than that. They love it and they want to get in it while they can, Rush.” I’m sure this will be one of the rationales that their devotees will come up with to explain it, but it’s a futile exercise.

They don’t any more believe that the sea levels are gonna rise to swallow up Martha’s Vineyard than I do. And this proves it.
Now admittedly, some of this nonsense doesn't bubble up to Trump's beloved Fox News. But generally speaking, the right is nuts. We may think Trump is delusional, but how can you not be delusional if you're a regular consumer of conservative media? And why should we expect Republican voters to recognize the weakness of Trump's grasp on reality when theirs is just as weak?


We're learning more about the backstory to President Trump's bizarre offer to buy Greenland from Denmark. Yesterday, the Daily Beast reported that Trump's planned trip to Demnark, which the president abruptly canceled after his Greenland offer was snubbed, was the president's idea -- in fact, Trump invited himself to Denmark:
Speaking to reporters on the White House’s South Lawn in late July, President Donald Trump revealed that he was “looking at” a stop in Denmark after an upcoming trip to Poland to attend a World War II commemorative ceremony.

For officials in Copenhagen, the comment came as a surprise. Although it is customary in Denmark for there to be a standing invitation for the U.S. president—and though officials in both countries had been discussing the possibility of an American delegation visiting—no formal invitation had actually been extended to Trump, according to two senior Danish officials and an individual who works closely with the Trump administration in Copenhagen.

By the next day, Queen Margrethe II had issued the invite, and the White House had officially announced the president’s plans to visit the country.
Prior to that, we had Senator Tom Cotton boasting that the proposal to purchase Greenland was his idea.
Months before President Donald Trump expressed an interest in buying Greenland, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said he suggested the idea to the President and met with the Danish ambassador to propose the sale of the large land mass to the U.S.

Speaking Wednesday (Aug. 21) at the inaugural Talk Business & Politics Power Lunch at the Red & Blue Events Center in Little Rock, Arkansas’ junior senator said buying Greenland is a no-brainer.

“Obviously, the right decision for this country,” Cotton said quickly when asked by Talk Business & Politics CEO Roby Brock about Trump’s Greenland tweets. “You’re joking, but I can reveal to you that several months ago, I met with the Danish ambassador and I proposed that they sell Greenland to us.” ...

“I told the president you should buy it as well,” Cotton said, adding later that “He’s (Trump) heard that from me and from some other people as well.”
But did anyone who spoke to Trump about this seriously believe the offer would be accepted? They all had to know that Trump would be rebuffed, even if Trump didn't.

The visit to Denmark was planned as part of Trump's trip to the G7 meeting this weekend. Trump hates overseas trips of this kind -- it's reported that he doesn't like traveling, but I assume he also loathes them because he's not the only powerful person in attendance, and the meetings are full of sophisticates talking about subjects he doesn't really understand. (The Washington Post reported last night that "Trump has complained repeatedly to senior aides about having to attend" this summit.)

Fearing that he won't be the center of attention at meeting like this, Trump likes to stir up trouble before he arrives. Just before landing in London earlier this year, Trump tweeted an attack on Sadiq Khan, the city's mayor. Prior to last year's G7, Trump announced a series of tariffs that unsettled members of the group. Trump also likes to cause trouble during and immediately after these meetings, of course, but Trump clearly believes that throwing a tantrum before he even arrives confers an advantage on him. I'm sure it relieves some of his anxieties and insecurities.

So we have to ask whether the entire sequence of events surrounding the Greenland proposal was the elaborate setup for a Trump tantrum on the eve of the G7.

But could Trump have planned all this in advance? Trump's not a planner. However, I think it's possible that some of his aides could see how the sequence would unfold. You whisper in Trump's ear about Greenland. He makes the offer. It's inevitably rejected. Maybe you whisper in Trump's ear again: You should punish that nasty woman by canceling your trip. Of course Trump does just that. Now, if you're the aide Trump associates with the snub, he likes you. First you suggested a way he could make a big real estate deal that also would have been a big national security deal. Then you suggested how he could get back at a nasty broad who mouthed off at him. Winning!

Maybe it didn't happen that way. But it might have.

Thursday, August 22, 2019


BuzzFeed tells us that the Justice Department has gone full-on anti-Semitic:
An email sent from the Justice Department to all immigration court employees this week included a link to an article posted on a white nationalist website that “directly attacks sitting immigration judges with racial and ethnically tinged slurs,” according to a letter sent by an immigration judges union and obtained by BuzzFeed News.

According to the National Association of Immigration Judges, the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) sent court employees a link to a blog post from VDare, a white nationalist website, in its morning news briefing earlier this week that included anti-Semitic attacks on judges....

A letter Thursday from union chief Ashley Tabaddor to James McHenry, the director of the Justice Department’s EOIR, said the link to the VDare post angered many judges.

“The post features links and content that directly attacks sitting immigration judges with racial and ethnically tinged slurs and the label ‘Kritarch.’ The reference to Kritarch in a negative tone is deeply offensive and Anti-Semitic,” wrote Tabaddor. The VDare post includes pictures of judges with the term “kritarch” preceding their names.

Tabaddor said the term kritarchy is a reference to ancient Israel during a time of rule by a system of judges.

“VDare’s use of the term in a pejorative manner casts Jewish history in a negative light as an Anti-Semitic trope of Jews seeking power and control,” she wrote.
The BuzzFeed story doesn't link the post, but here it is. It's called "Bill Barr Moving to Control the Immigration 'Judges' by Decertifying Their Union." It's written under the pseudonym Federale.

But the term "kritarch" doesn't seem to be used in an anti-Semitic way. There's a reference to "the politicized kritarchs of the EOIR." Two judges are referred to with the title "Kritarch." One is Ashley Tabaddor, who's quoted above. The other is a fellow office in her union, Amiena Khan.

But neither of these judges appears to be Jewish. Tabaddor is described in this NPR story as an Iranian-American (full name: Afsaneh Ashley Tabador). As far as I can tell, Amiena is a name from the Muslim world.

Right-wing ranters love obscure words and in-group shibboleths -- a tendency that reaches absurd levels on Reddit and the chans. "Kritarch" seems to be a deeply obscure insult, but I see it being applied by right-qingers not to Jews primarily, but to judges who don't hate immigrants. Here's another VDare post by Federale with a reference to "The notorious Chinese kritarch, Dolly Gee of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California." (Gee ruled against Jeff Sessions in an immigration case.) Here's a post at the New American by R. Cort Kirkwood (who for all I know may be Federale) that refers to Judge Haywood Gilliam of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California as "Kritarch Gilliam" (he blocked spending for President Trump's wall). Gilliam is African-American.

There's no question that VDare is racist -- here's the Southern Poverty Law Center's write-up. A sidebar next to the post in question lists "popular tags," which include "Anti-White Hate Crimes," "Minority Occupation Government," "Immigrant Mass Murder," and "Birthright Citizenship Reform."

It's appalling that the Justice Department would link to anything at the site. But the post doesn't seem to attack any of the targeted judges in a specifically anti-Semitic way.

On the other hand, it does refer unfavorably to a New York Times story with the word "#Lugenpresse" -- "lying press," a term used by the Nazis in reference to anti-Nazi journalism. The Times story in question is "Trump Administration Moves to Decertify Outspoken Immigration Judges’ Union" by Christina Goldbaum. Referring to a woman named Goldbaum as a member of the Lugenpresse? That's over the line.


UPDATE: Yastreblyansky notes that the EOIR newsletter has been peddling wingnut nonsense for a while now.


The president seems more unstable than usual these days -- but maybe he's just restless and bored. It's hard to imagine how a president of the United States can experience sustained boredom, but consider what Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman wrote in June in The New York Times:
Unlike nearly every recent modern president who sought re-election, Mr. Trump rarely if ever speaks to aides about what he hopes to accomplish with what would be a hard-won second term; his interest is entirely in the present, and mostly on the crisis of the moment.

... with a limited policy agenda and little interest in governing, Mr. Trump has been running for re-election virtually since the day he won.
Karni and Haberman were trying to explain attitude toward campaigning -- but the point about a "limited policy agenda and little interest in governing" is important. Trump has no long-range plans, and he'll never develop any. He pursues momentary enthusiasms (buying Greenland) and lashes out against irritants (women who challenge him, non-whites who offend him by existing), but he has no big ideas. (All our allies are trying to gyp us doesn't count.)

In response to that Times story, I wrote the following. I was trying to imagine a second Trump term, but I'm beginning to think that Trump's lack of a goal for the future has kicked in already.
So what would he do if he were reelected? We know he can't focus on policy now, except for tariffs and the wall, but would he even care about those anymore if he didn't have another election in the future to motivate him?

He might just stop working altogether. He might limit himself to golf, tweeting, and television -- no trade threats, no immigration crackdowns, no suck-ups to the religious right. If Democrats hold the House he might concentrate on not being impeached, but imagine him after a Republican sweep -- he might turn into Howard Hughes or Elvis, a recluse who barely leaves his bedroom.

I suppose he'd still sign bills and wave them at the cameras. I supposed he'd still pretend he knew something about the judges whose names were spoon-fed to him by the GOP legal establishment. He'd probably still do campaign rallies, even though they'd be campaign rallies without a campaign. But he might completely check out.

Or he might start focusing on inappropriate honors. Where's my Nobel Prize? How do I get on Mount Rushmore? Do I have to be dead before they put me on money?

It could be a bizarre four years.
I think he's at this point now, except that instead of becoming a recluse, he's combating the existential emptiness by saying out loud every crazy thing that pops into his head, or reaches him via Fox or Twitter. (Throughout his presidency, he's repeated whatever he picked up on Fox or Twitter, but now he seems to do nothing else.)

Getting the wall built is hard. Winning a trade war is hard. Getting Kim Jong Un to make serious concessions is hard, especially when you're incapable of focusing on U.S. policy in the region. Passing laws in a divided Congress is hard. Gun control is hard when the base hates it. War is hard. (I'm persuaded that Trump hasn't gone to war in Iran or Venezuela because when he brings up the subject, his generals come to him with plans that are complex and take months and years to unfold, with ongoing risk to U.S. troops for the foreseeable future. Trump doesn't want to hear that. He wants war to go like this: BOOM! I win! I get a parade!)

So what can a president do? Trump is aimless now. He was probably happier when he thought Mueller would get him impeached. It gave him a reason to get up in the morning.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019


Kevin Drum writes:
Over the last 24 hours Donald Trump has:
* Accused Jews who support Democrats of being disloyal.

* Explained that Kashmir is a difficult problem because “You have Hindus and you have the Muslims and I wouldn’t say they get along so great.”

* Canceled a planned visit to Denmark because they declined to discuss the sale of Greenland.

* Thanked a nutcase conspiracy theorist who said that Israeli Jews “love him like he is the second coming of God.”

* Told reporters “I am the chosen one” to take on China.

* Said the prime minister of Denmark was “nasty” about his proposal to buy Greenland and he’s not going to let her talk to him that way.

* Confirmed his disloyalty remark: “If you vote for a Democrat, you’re being disloyal to the Jewish people and you’re being very disloyal to Israel.”
This is not the behavior of a man in control of his faculties. It’s just not.
Understandably, there's more "is Trump losing it?" talk today than usual. I've seen the speculation. I agree with some of the armchair diagnosticians. (Malignant narcissism? Yeah, he's got that.) But I don't believe we're seeing manifestations of dementia, and I don't think he's lost "control of his faculties."

First, dementia. Yeah, I've seen the comparison videos. Maybe, if you watch a long-ago Trump interview on Larry King's show, he seems calmer and a touch more polysyllabic. But he can seem that way these days in an interview that takes place in what he considers a safe space.

But what persuades me that he's not losing his grip is the way he performs at his campaign rallies. He's still an effective insult comic. His jokes are terrible and obnoxious, but he lands them nearly every time. That riff about wind power, with the guy who'd like to watch television, but he can't because there's no breeze outside? It's ignorant, but it kills. Trump delivers it with comedy timing every time out. He doesn't forget where he is in the joke halfway through. The deplorables love it.

Overall, I'd say Trump hasn't lost "control of his faculties" so much as he's concluded that seeming out of control is what got him to the White House in the first place.

He's not completely wrong -- being a nasty, vengeful sonofabitch with an emotional age of eleven is what made him the most beloved politician of my lifetime among Republican voters. But it alienates other voters, many of whom are much more highly motivated to vote against him this time around than they were in 2016. What's more, he didn't win strictly on his personality -- he also had Russian interference and the elite media's email obsession and James Comey's eleventh-hour intervention to thank, and he still lost the popular vote by nearly three million.

He thinks his personality, particularly his penchant for vendettas, got him over the line in 2016, so he should dial it up for the 2020 campaign and he'll win more decisively. In fact, he's been dialing it up for the past month and his approval rating has slipped, while his disapproval rating has risen, according to the Real Clear Politics poll average. And as Reuters recently noted, Trump's racial anger seems to be making voters less racist overall and more inclined to vote against him:
Reuters/Ipsos polling of 4,436 U.S. adults in July showed that people who rejected racial stereotypes were more interested in voting in the 2020 general election than those who expressed stronger levels of anti-black or anti-Hispanic biases.

In 2016, it was the reverse....

This year’s poll found that among Americans who feel that blacks and whites are equal, or that blacks are superior to whites, 82% expressed a strong interest in voting in 2020. That was 7 percentage points higher than people who feel strongly that whites are superior to blacks....

White Americans are ... 19 percentage points more supportive of a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and 4 points less supportive of increased deportations, when their responses from the July poll were compared with a Reuters/Ipsos poll in January 2015.

The July 17-22 poll also found that 29% of whites agreed that “America must protect and preserve its White European heritage,” down 7 points from a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted in August 2017 and 9 points down from another Reuters/Ipsos poll in August 2018.

The poll also found that 17% of whites and 26% of white Republicans said they strongly agree that “white people are currently under attack in this country, a drop of about 6 points and 8 points respectively from 2017.
But hey, he's the world's greatest expert on winning elections, with his impressive record of (checks notes) one (technical) victory. So I urge him to keep doing exactly what he's doing.