Thursday, October 31, 2019

REPUBLICANS DON'T CARE IF THEIR TALKING POINTS ARE DEBUNKED IN REAL TIME

Kellyanne Conway was on Fox & Friends this morning and was asked whether Democrats would really vote on an impeachment resolution this morning. She said:
CONWAY: ... you know why we're confused about whether they'll take the vote? Because you have the Democratic leadership, Nancy Pelosi, saying, "Well, we don't need to do that yet," you have Steny Hoyer completely confused, it seems, as to what an impeachment resolution is. You know, all the armchair psychologists out there constantly wanting to analyze the president of the United States ought to have a little go at people like Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Steny Hoyer, Nancy Pelosi. These people -- every time they open their mouths, they make no sense. Something going on in there, folks? So they can't even get it right.

Impeachment is simple math: You either have the votes or you don't. And guess what? Dirty little secret: They don't have the votes.



She went on to say:
You just went through the list of Democratic members of Congress who have not committed to an impeachment inquiry. That's key.

Think about all the people they represent — the 17 swing states that are basically being looked at and are in play for next year. The people, especially the independents in those states, are allergic to a protracted impeachment. Impeaching a president is an extraordinary event that's rarely done because we have democratic elections.
Literally within hours, Democrats held the vote on the inquiry. It passed by a 36-vote margin. Only two Democrats voted no.

This is where I'm supposed to quote 1984 -- “The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.” But I don't think this is Orwellian. I don't think Conway or Fox or the rest of the GOP actually expects the base to believe that Pelosi failed and the vote didn't happen. What I believe is that they think there's value in talking trash about Democrats, irrespective of whether the trash talk is factually accurate. It makes the base feel good. It makes the base feel angry. It makes the base feel superior to those allegedly elitist Democrats. I think it's aimed purely at the collective reptile brain. It isn't meant to inform, or even misinform.

Here it is again in a Fox interview with White House "press secretary" Stephanie Grisham:



GRISHAM: ... I've got to say, Nancy Pelosi has lost all control over there. That is clear. Phase 1 of this impeachment sham was all behind closed doors. Now they're moving to Phase 2, which is supposed to be public. I'm wondering, from the first phase, are we going to be able to see any of the transcripts, or know what was said? Is any of the first phase going to come to light, or are we just starting Phase 2-- and we don't know the rules yet for the White House. Are we going to get to even be involved? I don't think so.
Pelosi had just won a crucial vote decisively, but she's "lost all control over there" -- yeah, right. As for the rest of what Grisham said -- "are we going to be able to see any of the transcripts, or know what was said? ... and we don't know the rules yet for the White House" -- gosh, if only there were a way to determine the answers to those questions...
The resolution allows the president and his counsel to request and query witnesses and participate in impeachment proceedings once they reach the Judiciary Committee, which is tasked with writing any articles of impeachment that will be voted on by the House. It also authorizes the House Intelligence Committee to release transcripts of its closed-door depositions to the public....
This will be understood by most Americans very soon. Hell, they may even have explained on it Fox's "straight news" programs.

But I don't think this is meant to deceive the deplorables -- at least not for very long. It's meant to make them feel righteous rage, even if only for a few hours or days. The facts won't justify that rage, and the Trump base will (probably) know those facts, but they'll still have experienced the rage, and that's the outcome the GOP and its propagandists want. Once this complaint has been made irrelevant by reality, Fox, Grisham, et al. will just move the goalposts and repeat the process, ad infinitum.

HOW RIGHT-WINGERS ARE SMEARING THE PERSON THEY'VE IDENTIFIED AS THE WHISTLEBLOWER

The Ukraine whistleblower has reportedly been outed. A name is being circulated in the right-wing media -- I won't use it, but Memeorandum has links to posts at RealClearInvestigations, Redstate, American Greatness, and other sites that include the name and biographical information.

So, how are these people attempting to tarnish the alleged whistleblower's reputation? Like this:



That's the gist of their case against him: He's a Democrat! He worked in the administration of a Democratic president! He was an aide to a Democratic vice president!

Also, the alleged whistleblower worked for John Brennan and James Clapper. Brennan was CIA director in Barack Obama's second term. Clapper was director of national intelligence for most of the Obama era. Thus, they're history's greatest monsters.

Republicans do not believe that Democrats are Americans. It's that simple.

Jim Hoft's Gateway Pundit quotes a June 2017 story on the alleged whistleblower by Pizzagate promoter Mike Cernovich. I'll quote it without the name.
West Wing officials confirmed to Cernovich Media that XXXXX XXXXX, who worked closely with Susan Rice while at NSC, was recently promoted to be H.R. McMaster’s personal aide.
Omigod! Susan Rice! History's other greatest monster!
... In fall of 2016 as Obama’s director for Ukraine on the NSC, XXXXX was the main force pushing Trump-Russia conspiracy theories.
On the right, Trump-Russia is still a conspiracy theory and a hoax.
Some suspect XXXXX was one of the original leakers who told the media about classified conversations Trump had with Russian diplomat Sergei Lavrov.
You mean this?
President Donald Trump sparked widespread concern within the US and Israeli intelligence communities earlier this year when he disclosed details of a highly classified Israeli operation to Russian officials....

The Washington Post first reported in May that Trump told Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, and ambassador to the US at the time, Sergey Kislyak, about the terrorist group ISIS's work to develop a laptop bomb that could pass through airport security undetected — information Trump had received from Israeli intelligence officials.
I think whoever leaked that story did America a great service.
Staunchly pro-Ukraine and anti-Russia, XXXXX is the media’s dream, which explains why this high-profile personnel move hasn’t been covered in any mainstream media outlets.
The alleged whistleblower is "staunchly pro-Ukraine and anti-Russia"! Appalling!

That appears to be the right's case against this guy: He's a Democrat and he's not sufficiently patriotic -- i.e., pro-Russian.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

SCHRĂ–DINGER'S RATF*CK

Jonathan Chait read the op-ed Tulsi Gabbard just published in The Wall Street Jorunal, and he thinks he's caught her hinting at a third-party presidential run:
Gabbard’s Journal op-ed today is the clearest sign yet of her future course. There is no line in the piece committing Gabbard to running exclusively in the Democratic primary. It doesn’t even mention the primary. It has an ambiguous passage that merits close examination. Read this a few times:
This isn’t a petty “spat” between Mrs. Clinton and me. It’s a serious contrast in views about the choice voters face as they decide which Democratic candidate is best equipped to defeat President Trump. Mrs. Clinton already lost to Mr. Trump once. Why would Democrats think a Hillary 2.0 candidate would result in anything different?
This could be an argument for Democrats to nominate Gabbard. But it’s not exclusively an argument for that purpose. It could just as well be turned into an argument for Gabbard as a second “Democratic” candidate running against Trump, using a familiar Ralph Nader/Jill Stein case that the Democrats are going to fail, so you should vote instead for the superior alternative to the GOP.
I'm no Gabbard fan, but I think that's a strained reading. She's clearly saying that Democrats should pick someone like her as the nominee.

However, Chait is on stronger ground when he cites another passage in the op-ed:
In the following paragraph, Gabbard makes her strategy even more apparent. “Whether Mrs. Clinton’s name is on the ballot or not,” she writes, “her foreign policy will be, as many of the Democratic candidates adhere to her doctrine” of endless regime change, etc. Gabbard is saying right now that any Democratic nominee is going to be Hillary Clinton. What does that tell you about her intentions?
Chait is right to be suspicious of this -- but it makes no sense. Gabbard has just finished telling us that Democratic voters are likely to reject the policies of that horrible warmonger Hillary Clinton. Then, in the very next paragraph, she says a Clinton clone "will be" on the November 2020 ballot on the Democratic line. She doesn't say a Clinton clone "will be" on the ballot if voters reject her own candidacy -- she says an evil neoliberal nominee is inevitable, because "many of the Democratic candidates adhere to her doctrine."

The Wall Street Journal editorial page has been rabidly right-wing for decades. I agree with Chait that the publication of this op-ed advances the goals of Donald Trump's Republican Party, by positioning Gabbard as a Democrat-hater peaceniks can vote for.

But this is Schrödinger's ratfuck -- Gabbard is presented as both a potential third-party candidate and not a potential third-party candidate, in consecutive paragraphs.

Hillary Clinton's decision to call Gabbard out has raised Gabbard's profile, and now she's at 4% in the latest USA Today/Suffolk University national poll (up from less than 1% in the previous USA Today/Suffolk poll). In that way, Clinton's attack backfired. But Clinton also warned us all about the GOP interest in Gabbard's candidacy, and about the risk of a third-party run.

So Gabbard is sending multiple messages. Her editor at the Journal should have worked to remove the internal contradiction in the op-ed -- but I guess two contradictory messages were exactly what Gabbard and her editor wanted to send us.

A BIPARTISAN EFFORT TO SAVE THE GOP SENATE?

The Washington Post ran a peculiar op-ed yesterday. Lanny Davis, the longtime Clinton confidant and, more recently, attorney for Michael Cohen, joined forces with Trumper turned anti-Trumper Anthony Scaramucci to argue that the president should be impeached ... but probably shouldn't be tried in the Senate.
... President Trump must be impeached by the House and removed from office, either by the Senate or at the ballot box on Nov. 3, 2020.

...But we believe the Senate should proceed to a trial only if at least 20 Republican senators announce beforehand that they are open-minded about removing Trump from office.

... If such public announcements of open-mindedness by at least 20 Republican jurors do not occur within a month or so after the House impeachment resolution, then we suggest a Senate trial would be a waste of time and unwise.

... we would propose that the president be given the option of having a full Senate trial if he wants one.

But our instinct is that, if given a choice, Trump would say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” ...

We still believe a House impeachment vote must occur.

... we are confident that the American people will use the ballot box on Election Day to remove him from office.
Then last night, from the far right, there was this from Fox's Laura Ingraham:
Laura Ingraham sent a warning to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Tuesday, calling on him to "stand up" to House Democrats and warning him and Senate Republicans that if they do not act against the impeachment inquiry against President Trump that "the republic" and "future presidencies" are at risk.

"A Senate majority leader must start using his power to stand up against the Democrats political reign of terror. This is McConnell's moment. He needs to show the American people that the GOP stands united behind the man that they elected to lead this country, run our foreign policy, help advance our economy," Ingraham said on "The Ingraham Angle."

... Ingraham called on McConnell to consider changing the rules regarding an impeachment trial and try to make it as short as possible.

"But I will say this these times require extraordinary measures. The House Democrats have decided to launch a partisan hit on a sitting president using members of the foreign policy establishment to trigger a bogus process," Ingraham said. "McConnell can and should aggressively push for a blisteringly short impeachment trial."



Ingraham said:
Now, it is true that there are current rules governing how impeachment is done. Those rules have largely been unchanged for decades and decades. Probably time for some updating, don't you think? ... Giving Democrats maybe an afternoon to put on their sham case -- I think that's too generous.
What's going on here?

Ingraham, Scaramucci, and Davis aren't in sync on all matters, but they know how dangerous a Senate trial could be for the swing-state Republicans who give McConnell his majority. I imagine they all agree that it would be worrisome to give a House and Senate majority to that crazy radical Elizabeth Warren if she's elected president (even though House and especially Senate Democratic majorities would be, on average, much more moderate than Warren).

When vulnerable Senate Republicans are afraid to cast any votes against Trump because they need to protect their right flank while fearing pro-Trump votes because many of their states' voters are disgusted by the president, you can see why Ingraham and the still-conservative Scaramucci might be wishing the Senate trial would just go away. You can make up your own mind about why Davis, a lawyer with the occasional dictator or dodgy corporation on his client list, might be signing on to this idea.

In any case, I don't think anyone here is concerned about the proper conduct of government. They just want Collins, Gardner, McSally, Ernst, Cornyn, and Tillis reelected.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

REPUBLICANS ARE SO GOOD AT THE TWO-PERSON CON THAT ONE GOP CON MAN IS EVEN PLAYING BOTH PARTS

Republicans appear to have discovered that there are limits to how brazenly they can attack Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, who's testifying today in impeachment hearings.
One pundit on Fox News went as far as to suggest that Colonel Vindman had engaged in “espionage” against the United States, prompting an unusual rebuke from a Republican member of Congress....

“Here we have a U.S. national security official who is advising Ukraine while working inside the White House, apparently against the president’s interest,” Ms. Ingraham said. “Isn’t that kind of an interesting angle on this story?”

Her guest, John Yoo, a former top lawyer in the George W. Bush administration, agreed. “I find that astounding,” Mr. Yoo said. “Some people might call that espionage.”

The accusation by Mr. Yoo was decried by left-leaning pundits and, on Tuesday, by Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a Republican lawmaker. “It is shameful to question their patriotism, their love of this country,” Ms. Cheney said, calling on critics to stop questioning the colonel’s loyalties.
But that's how the con works: One person (or in this case two, Ingraham and Yoo) smear Vindman, then Cheney -- a Republican attack dog of the old school, which means her brand requires her to be unfailingly pro-military -- calls Ingraham and Yoo out, thus reassuring everyone in the so-called sensible center that Republicans are actually fine people and -- with rare exceptions! -- won't smear a war hero to get what they want.

(Voters in the Trump/Fox base are far less pro-military than Cheney these days, but they give her a pass as long as she spends most of her time attacking liberals. Cheney obliges.)

So now the mainstream media cries of "Republicans have gone too far!" are quieted -- but the smear is out there.

Con successfully worked.

Republicans are so good at this two-handed con that one GOP con artist is playing both parts.
New CNN hire Sean Duffy launched an extraordinary attack on Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, saying the fact he was born in Ukraine may have been a factor in his decision to report concerns about President Trump’s July telephone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky....

“It seems very clear that [Vindman] is incredibly concerned about Ukrainian defense,” he said. “I don’t know about his concern [for] American policy, but his main mission was to make sure the Ukraine got those weapons. I understand it: We all have an affinity to our homeland where we came from. Like me, I’m sure that Vindman has the same affinity.”

Asked if he would put the defense of his ancestral homeland of Ireland ahead of America’s, Duffy ignored the question and said: “He’s entitled to his opinion, he has an affinity, I think, for the Ukraine, he speaks Ukrainian, he came from the country, and he wants to make sure they’re safe and free.”
Shortly afterward, on Twitter, Sean Duffy insisted that he has nothing but the highest respect for Colonel Vindman.



What a reasonable-sounding young man! Surely he would never besmirch the reputation of a wounded veteran (even though he just did a few hours ago).

Republicans -- they get you coming and going....

YOU SAY "PATRIOT AND WOUNDED VETERAN" AS IF THAT'S A GOOD THING!

Many people seem to believe that conservative Trump voters will find it hard not to respect the background of this man:
A White House national security official who is a decorated Iraq war veteran plans to tell House impeachment investigators on Tuesday that he heard President Trump appeal to Ukraine’s president to investigate one of his leading political rivals, a request the aide considered so damaging to American interests that he reported it to a superior.

Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman of the Army, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, twice registered internal objections about how Mr. Trump and his inner circle were treating Ukraine, out of what he called a “sense of duty,” he plans to tell the inquiry....

The colonel, a Ukrainian-American immigrant who received a Purple Heart after being wounded in Iraq by a roadside bomb and whose statement is full of references to duty and patriotism, could be a more difficult witness to dismiss than his civilian counterparts.
That's from a New York Times story that was published last night. In his opening statement, Colonel Vindman will say:
I have dedicated my entire professional life to the United States of America. For more than two decades, it has been my honor to serve as an officer in the United States Army. As an infantry officer, I served multiple overseas tours, including South Korea and Germany, and a deployment to Iraq for combat operations. In Iraq, I was wounded in an IED attack and awarded a Purple Heart....

The privilege of serving my country is not only rooted in my military service, but also in my personal history. I sit here, as a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army, an immigrant. My family fled the Soviet Union when I was three and a half years old. Upon arriving in New York City in 1979, my father worked multiple jobs to support us, all the while learning English at night. He stressed to us the importance of fully integrating into our adopted country. For many years, life was quite difficult. In spite of our challenging beginnings, my family worked to build its own American dream. I have a deep appreciation for American values and ideals and the power of freedom. I am a patriot, and it is my sacred duty and honor to advance and defend OUR country, irrespective of party or politics.

For over twenty years as an active duty United States military officer and diplomat, I have served this country in a nonpartisan manner, and have done so with the utmost respect and professionalism for both Republican and Democratic administrations.
But if you think this will impress Trump Nation, you're dreaming.

Colonel Vindman's background might have impressed voters who admired previous Republican presidents. In the George W. Bush era, or the Ronald Reagan era, a decorated veteran who'd been injured in a patriotic (i.e., Republican) war would have been hard to discredit. The fact that the colonel fled the Soviet Union would have seemed especially impressive during the Reagan years.

But modern Republicans aren't impressed by these credentials, primarily for one reason: Democrats generally are impressed. We like the troops now. We opposed the Iraq War, but we respect military service.

And now -- after telling us during W's presidency that we were traitors for questioning that war -- Republican voters sound practically leftist as they parrot Trump's complaints about "endless wars." They don't trust the military establishment. They don't believe in the international order. They have contempt for people who've spent their working lives in national security. It's all the Deep State. It's all "globalism." (I'm sure they believe Colonel Vindman has some connection to George Soros.)

The first hit job on Colonel Vindman took place an hour or two after news of his testimony broke.
During a panel discussion on The Ingraham Angle, [Fox's Laura] Ingraham turned to law professor Alan Dershowitz and former Justice Department official John Yoo—author of the so-called “Torture Memos”—to weigh in....

According to Ingraham, however, the really interesting part of the New York Times report on Vindman wasn’t that he raised concerns over Trump attempting to pressure a foreign government to investigate American citizens but rather that Vindman is a Ukrainian-American immigrant.
Ingraham seized on this passage in the Times story:
Because he emigrated from Ukraine along with his family when he was a child and is fluent in Ukrainian and Russian, Ukrainian officials sought advice from him about how to deal with [Rudy] Giuliani, though they typically communicated in English.
Here it comes:
“Now, wait a second, John,” Ingraham continued, addressing Yoo. “Here we have a U.S. national security official who is advising Ukraine, while working inside the White House, apparently against the president’s interest, and usually, they spoke in English. Isn’t that kind of an interesting angle on this story?!”

Yoo replied that he found it “astounding” before offering his own bit of astounding speculation.

“You know, some people might call that espionage,” the former Bush administration official suggested.



But contemporary right-wingers may not even need this level of smear to conclude that Colonel Vindman is untrustworthy. Just the fact that he's part of the national security apparatus -- and was part of it before Trump was president -- is probably sufficient.

Monday, October 28, 2019

BUT IT'S DEMOCRATS WHO ARE UNCIVIL

A terrible story:
Former Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, who had been ill for years due to a tick-borne illness that caused brain inflammation, died Monday at 66.

Hagan, a moderate Democrat who represented North Carolina, beat powerful incumbent Republican Elizabeth Dole to win her seat in 2008, before losing to Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., in 2014....

Hagan was hospitalized in 2016 with encephalitis, or swelling of the brain. A family spokeswoman described the cause as a virus that's spread by ticks from animals to humans, citing a doctor who had been treating her. Test results indicated Hagan contracted what's known as the Powassan virus....

Hagan's recovery was slow, though her family said she had improved significantly. In mid-2017 her family said she “clearly understands what people say to her and recognizes her friends when they come to visit." ...

Hagan advocated for deficit reduction and her state's agricultural industry while still voting with Democrats on major legislation including the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, known as the stimulus package.
The story is at FoxNews.com, based on an AP report. Hagan died way too young, from a condition for which there's no real treatment.

On a day when Democrats are being excoriated for either heckling President Trump at the ballpark or praising the hecklers, here's the reaction in the Fox comments to Hagan's death:
Democrats are dropping like flies this past week.
I don't know what they're doing but I like it.

****

another corrupt socialist bites the dust!

****

Democrats are soulless. Sorry for her family. I hope she got right with God. If she was an abortion proponent...

****

2nd Democrat this week to go belly up. Looking like it's going to be a great week for America!

****

Wish this would’ve been one of the other Dems. Kay wasn’t like today’s Dems/socialists.

****

Must be because of all the ticks the Conservatives are sending them. Got mine ready to pop into the mail. Addressed to Nancy and Schiff head.

****

The "hatred" from conservatives on here is nothing more than a result of the years of hate and spite we have had to endure from Godless democrats as we have had to sit back and watch them purposely destroy our nation.

Should it be? No. But that is the why of it all. So, tell them to cool their jets if they don't like it, ok? And may God find something in her heart to bless her for.

****

Many libs die early due to the toll liberalism places on them.

****

Was she associated with the Clintons?

****

Powassan virus, is that what Pocahontas Warren has?

****

Shame on Al Gore for inventing Powassan's virus.

****

Cummings, Conyers, Hagan. All corrupt democrats. All have died recently.

Is God up to something or is this just a very lucky break for Americans?

****

I hope she did not have TDS [Trump Derangement Syndrome], bad way to spend your last years on this earth. Ask Elijah...oh wait...too late.

****

C'mon, we need RBG to go, along with many of the Democrat leadership in the House and Senate.

Lord, save this country from the forces of evil!

****

I feel for the tick.

****

First Cummings, now Conyers...next up, Al Sharpton, Maxine Waters, Charlie Rangel, Bobby Rush, and so many others from this generation...not to mention the NAACP. I say good riddance...to your race baiting, fear mongering, and the racial division and chaos created by all of you throughout American History. America will be more united and much better off when you are all long gone from America's memory. And yet I smile!

****

Wow. Pelosi should do more outdoors activities.

****


Democrats...the ticks that America can't seem to shake...not even with an X-tra Large Hertz collar!

****

Hillary has her own trained ticks she sigs on people

****

I thought they all had brain swelling?

****

Cummings, Conyers, and Hagan. A good start. But there's plenty of others that God needs to take care of like Schumer, Pelosi, The Squad, Schiff, Nader, and others.

May the Good Lord take the lovers and doers of evil quickly, that this land might be saved from the powers of The Evil One.

****

The joy we have of the deaths of these evil people is just like the joy we had over the deaths of Osama bin Laden and the death of the leader of ISIS.

The deaths of the wicked are always something to rejoice about.

Joe and Mika, your thoughts?

AUTHORITARIANISM WITHOUT AN AUTHORITARIAN

I'm sure you know this happened last night:
President Donald Trump was greeted with a thunderous chorus of boos from the sold-out crowd attendance at Game 5 of the World Series between the Nationals and Astros.

Trump, who showed up shortly after the first inning, was introduced to the crowd after the third inning during the Nationals' salute to veterans, a regular feature at Nats’ games.

As the next inning began, fans chanted "lock him up," a nod to the motto that Trump supporters directed at Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Let the handwringing begin!



For starters, this is not a "strategy" -- it's some fed-up people exercising their freedom of speech, and demanding something that, at least for now, is impossible.

Trump is a man who appears to be guilty of multiple crimes -- constitutional, financial, sexual -- but he literally can't be locked up right now, because he's been determined to be immune from prosecution while in office, and because it's all but certain that the Senate won't convict him in an impeachment. He might face justice -- in a court of law, not in some sort of drumhead tribunal -- after he's defeated in 2020, but even though a clear and convincing majority of Americans don't want to him to win again, Facebook, fat-cat money, foreign interference, and GOP vote suppression might give him another Electoral College win, quite possibly in spite of another popular vote loss. Which means he'll be immune from prosecution for another four years. If expressing frustration with that distinct possibility -- using Trumpworld's own words, thrown back in Trump's face -- is "authoritarian," I'd like to know: Who's the authoritarian leader here?

It's quite possible this man can't be brought to justice through legitimate means. If he goes down, it won't be in a coup -- it will be because the legitimate authorities determined that he's a lawbreaker.

Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski are also fretting.


SCARBOROUGH: But again, I speak to the "Lock him up" chants. Again, it's just -- it's un-American. It started with Donald Trump. In fact, he's made it the centerpiece of his rallies.

BRZEZINSKI: We find it sickening when it happens at his rallies. I find it kind of sickening to watch people leering at the president.

SCARBOROUGH: Of course it's sickening. We are Americans and we do not do that. We do not want the world hearing us chant "Lock him up" to this president or to any president --

BRZEZINSKI: And yet he created it.

SCARBOROUGH: That's what I'm saying. Let's hope, as we move forward, maybe this is one less fascist tactic he and his supporters use during chants -- that you are going to actually imprison your political opponents. So let's leave that behind --

BRZEZINSKI: I hope he gets it.
When Trump's crowds chant "Lock her up" in reference to Hillary Clinton, they're talking about someone who's been investigated by the authorities and found not to have done anything that warrants prosecution. And they're chanting it to a president who regularly flirts with genuine authoritarianism -- who regularly suggests that legitimate acts are criminal, even treasonous.

Trump, if he decided to be the dictator he'd clearly prefer to be, could attempt to imprison Hillary Clinton. In a second term, he really might do it.

The crowd at the World Series game can't get Trump locked up. Also, Trump hasn't been cleared by the authorities. These are two rather significant differences between the ballpark crowd's chant and the chants at the MAGA rallies. Also, obviously, the chant at the ballpark was mockery of the original.

Isn't all of this obvious? Do some people really need it explained to them?

Sunday, October 27, 2019

WELL, THERE GO THE TWO OR THREE GOP VOTES FOR CONVICTION IN THE SENATE

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, died in a commando raid in Syria last night. President Trump announced the death in a speech this morning that was 90% dignified and 10% puerile football-spiking.



This was followed by a petulant, whiny, rambling press conference in which the president lavished praise on Russia...



... while he noted that he didn't notify the Speaker of the House in advance.



He also suggested that the death of Baghdadi was more important than the death of Osama bin Laden....



... while claiming that he saw the bin Laden threat coming first.



In fact:
There was nothing original or clairvoyant in the reference to bin Laden in Trump’s 2000 book. As part of his criticism of what he considered Bill Clinton’s haphazard approach to U.S. security as president, he stated: “One day we’re told that a shadowy figure with no fixed address named Osama bin Laden is public enemy Number One, and U.S. jetfighters lay waste to his camp in Afghanistan. He escapes back under some rock, and a few news cycles later it’s on to a new enemy and new crisis.”

Trump’s book did not call for further U.S. action against bin Laden or al-Qaida to follow up on attacks Clinton ordered in 1998 in Afghanistan and Sudan after al-Qaida bombed the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
ISIS is awful. I'm pleased that Baghdadi is dead. I was prepared to give Trump a thumbs-up for this raid, but he makes it very difficult. He could have given a dignified speech and walked away with his head held high. But he had to express a sadist's glee at the death -- red meat for the base, and there'll be more red meat when Trump and fellow Republicans denounce commentators who criticize the gloating -- and then he had to spend an inordinate amount of time airing personal grievances. He simply can't manage a unifying moment. He doesn't know how, and he thinks it would be less advantageous to him than a divisive moment.

But he'll try very hard to leverage this. Obviously, far fewer Americans know who Baghdadi was than knew bin Laden. But the GOP has a much more efficient noise machine than Democrats have ever had. Trump will work "died like a dog" and the rest into every campaign rally, and into most of his other public utterances. His fellow Republicans will also invoke the raid repeatedly, as if it's a Get Out Impeachment Free card.

It'll be enough to keep any wavering Republicans in the House (assuming there ever were any) from voting for impeachment, and any Senate waverers from voting for conviction. Months from now, they'll still be saying it's unthinkable to conceive of impeaching and/or convicting the brave commander in chief who killed the leader of ISIS -- how dare the Democrats! Susan Collins, in her endless speech on the Senate floor, will defend her vote to acquit by invoking this moment. Same with Gardner and Romney and Sasse.

Right? Or will even skillful GOP messaging be incapable of sustaining this moment? I checked the Real Clear Politics polling averages for Barack Obama: His polling pike after bin Laden's death (announced May 1, 2011) lasted about five weeks. And Baghdadi, unlike bin Laden, didn't oversee a mass slaughter on U.S. soil.

But we'll hear about this endlessly. In the next several, lickspittles like Lindsey Graham will be telling us that Baghdadi's death is reason enough for Democrats to shut down the investigation.

I think much of the public will move on quickly, but Republicans will make a heroic effort to prevent us from doing that, and to suggest that "real Americans" consider the raid a crowning achievement for a great president.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

JUST A COUPLE OF TOTALLY NORMAL CENTRISTS WRITING A TOTALLY NORMAL CENTRIST OP-ED

Siri, show me the worst op-ed of all time.
Romney-Gabbard, Make America Decent Again
Yes, you read that right: This is an op-ed proposing a Romney-Gabbard presidential ticket. It's in Newsday. It's real. It's written by two academics of a sort -- I'll tell you about them later.
With the next presidential election only a year away, House Democrats are committed to impeaching President Trump....

But if the House’s next steps are clear, the Senate’s are not. And that’s where things get interesting.

If the Senate convicts, Vice President Mike Pence will become president. It is nearly impossible to imagine his being the Republican standard bearer in 2020. Say what you will about Donald Trump, Pence could never win a general election. And everyone knows it.
Really? It seems to me "everyone knows" that no one in the Democratic field can possibly win -- Andrew Sullivan was just telling us that yesterday.
... if the Senate acquits, the stink of impeachment will hang over Trump throughout the campaign. Either way, a House vote to impeach the president appears to be a win for the Democrats. That is, if things go according to plan.
Our writers believe Republicans could cook up a scheme to ensure victory. Here's how it would work.
Senate Republicans could convict, or threaten to convict, thereby pressuring Trump to resign. They could even work out a deal by which they acquit in exchange for Trump not seeking a second term.
It's hilarious that they believe Trump could be pressured to resign -- the ultimate shame for a man who avoids shame at all costs -- or that he would agree not to run and then keep his word.
Each of these options would leave the Republicans in need of a compromise candidate with very little time left on the clock. Republicans would need someone who understood the requirements of a national campaign, someone with widespread (and largely positive) name recognition, and someone on the record opposing both Trump and Trumpism.

Senator Mitt Romney is all of those things. Running Romney would immediately alienate the Trump base, but would attract voters from the sensible centers of both parties, along with independents, all of whom seem to be horrified by what they have heard thus far in the Democratic debates.
Oh, it's the "sensible center" theory -- you know, the one that's proved astonishingly successful in past presidential elections for groups like Third Way.
Romney could play this centrist position to devastating effect with just about anyone sharing the ticket, but there is one very shrewd move that would allow him to walk into the Oval Office in a landslide: Romney could pick a Democratic running mate.

But he shouldn’t pick just any Democrat. He should pick one with a growing national stature, one with the background to appeal to Republicans and Democrats alike, and one who has openly accused the Democratic Party of playing a rigged game in its primary campaign.

Mitt Romney should pick Tulsi Gabbard.
No, really: These guys s ayTulsi Gabbard has "growing national stature." She also has "the background to appeal to Republicans and Democrats alike," even though she's at 1.3% in national polls for the Democratic presidential nomination.
They agree on little politically, but that is a benefit. A Romney-Gabbard ticket could be based, legitimately, on decency, truthfulness and honor.
Truthfulness and honor? Forget the deceitful little ratfuck Gabbard is currently trying to engineer. Let's recall that during the 2012 presidential campaign, Romney was almost as shameless a liar as Trump is now.
They could point the American people away from the toxicity that has come to infect American political life, and remind us that we are not two countries seeking disparate futures, but one people experimenting with different means to the same end.

A Romney-Gabbard ticket is a long shot. But it is a plausible long shot. And a long shot is increasingly what America needs. The ticket would not make the party faithful on either side of the aisle happy, but why should they be the final arbiters of who ascends to the presidency? It’s time to make America decent again, and this may be the best way to accomplish that difficult goal.
So we're "one people," except that this ticket would infuriate "the party faithful on either side of the aisle." (I guess stalwart Democrats and Republicans aren't people, or at least aren't part of "the people.")

****

This is insane, of course. Who would write such a thing?

Here's what we're told about the authors:
Antony Davies is associate professor of economics at Duquesne University. James R. Harrigan is managing director of the Center for the Philosophy of Freedom at the University of Arizona. They host the weekly podcast Words & Numbers. They wrote this for InsideSources.com.
Davies, Wikipedia informs us, is the Milton Friedman Distinguished Fellow at the Foundation for Economic Education. The Foundation describes its purpose this way:
FEE's mission is to inspire, educate, and connect future leaders with the economic, ethical, and legal principles of a free society.

These principles include: individual liberty, free-market economics, entrepreneurship, private property, high moral character, and limited government.
SourceWatch tells us that the Foundation "is listed as a partner organization of the Charles Koch Institute.... FEE has also received funding from DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund, "two funds that have been closely tied to the Kochs but which obscure the percentage of their grants coming from Koch money." Greenpeace describes the Foundation as a "Koch Industries climate denial front group."
The Foundation for Economic Education promoted a list created by Senator James Inhofe, who gets more political donations from Koch Industries than any other single source, naming 400 scientists who supposedly doubt the climate change scientific consensus. In examination of the authenticity of this list, the Daily Green found that of the 400 names, 44 were TV weathermen, 70 have no background in climate science, and 84 were recipients of industry money.

FEE staff are linked to the Mackinac Center, Americans for Prosperity and the Cato Institute.
Davies is also affiliated with the Heartland Institute, a group described by The Economist as "the world's most prominent think-tank promoting scepticism about man-made climate change."



Harrigan tells us he's the managing director of the Center for the Philosophy of Freedom at the University of Arizona. The university's newspaper, The Daily Wildcat, has written this about the Center:
... donations from Charles Koch helped fund the Center for the Philosophy of Freedom. Better known as the "Freedom Center," it was established in 2008 by UA Philosophy Professor David Schmidtz, and initially funded by Randy Kendrick.

... Randy is wife to Ken Kendrick, owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks. She was part of a Koch-led donor network that donated almost $900 million on the 2016 election cycle.

... In 2010, Schmidtz secured more private funding for the center, allowing him to hire four core faculty members. Of these donations, $1.8 million came from Charles Koch.
Harrigan is also the F.A. Hayek Distinguished Fellow at the Foundation for Economic Education (see above).

This op-ed isn't a plea from the "sensible center." It's a plea from Kochistan. Two guys living off Koch wingnut welfare are heaping praise not only on Romney, but also on a "Democrat" we actual Democrats are being told we owe a much more respectful hearing. Of course Kochworld would like Romney, but this tells me a lot about phony Tulsimania. I wonder just how much of the right-wing praise for Gabbard is being instigated by the Koch network.

Friday, October 25, 2019

FEDERALIST WRITER SEEMS TO CALL FOR VIOLENT RESISTANCE TO DEMOCRATS' PARTICIPATION IN GOVERNMENT

The Federalist's Mollie Hemingway is predicting what exactly here?
While it is tempting to look at the three-year-long temper tantrum from the Resistance as being entirely about Trump, it’s about something much bigger. It is about whether our elected government serves the people or whether it exists to do the bidding of an unelected cabal of unelected, taxpayer-funded bureaucrats and smug partisans of the corporate media.

At some point it won’t just be marches on Capitol Hill from a few Republican congressmen that the Resistance will have to deal with. It is unclear what the proper reaction to an unrelenting campaign to overturn the result of the 2016 election should be exactly, but they should stop expecting people to be as polite as they have been in response.
After forcible entry into a secure facility by a gang of white-collar thugs to prevent the taking of testimony in a legitimate House investigation, what might Hemingway consider a "proper" but less "polite" reaction? Caning on the floors of Congress, as in 1856? (Although given the fact that it's 2019, I'd expect the weapon wielded by an angry congressional right-winger to be an AR-15.)

I don't think that's what Hemingway means, though it's close. I think she's nodding and winking at the notion that "true patriot" citizen soldiers will take up arms and storm the capital, and it seems as if she'd approve of that, though she doesn't want to argue for it in so many words.

Hemingway goes on to write about "Washington needing to learn that political differences have to be settled at the ballot box lest they instead be settled with an undermining of our constitutional norms and institutions" -- which is rich given her party's years-long efforts to suppress the Democratic vote. In The New York Times, Michael Wines writes about Republican efforts to make it harder for students to vote.
Energized by issues like climate change and the Trump presidency, students have suddenly emerged as a potentially crucial voting bloc in the 2020 general election.

And almost as suddenly, Republican politicians around the country are throwing up roadblocks between students and voting booths.....

Florida’s Republican secretary of state outlawed early-voting sites at state universities in 2014, only to see 60,000 voters cast on-campus ballots in 2018 after a federal court overturned the ban. This year, the State Legislature effectively reinstated it, slipping a clause into a new elections law that requires all early-voting sites to offer “sufficient non-permitted parking” — an amenity in short supply on densely packed campuses....

Wisconsin Republicans also have imposed tough restrictions on using student IDs for voting purposes. The state requires poll workers to check signatures only on student IDs, although some schools issuing modern IDs that serve as debit cards and dorm room keys have removed signatures, which they consider a security risk.

The law also requires that IDs used for voting expire within two years, while most college ID cards have four-year expiration dates.
This reminds me of the endlessly creative ways Republican states have found to restrict abortion. The excuse for the abortion laws is always medical safety. For voting restrictions, it's voter fraud. (I'm struggling to understand what an inadequately large parking lot has to do with ballot integrity.)

Hemingway invokes democracy, but she seems to have forgotten a little exercise in democracy called the 2018 midterms, in which, much to her apparent dismay, a sufficient number of Democrats were elected to the House to make an impeachment investigation possible.

But Hemingway is a right-winger, so she'd rather have deplorables in the streets of D.C. with semiautomatics raised than allow Democrats to exercise powers given to them by the Constitution and by their own voters. Our votes are simply illegitimate by definition, as are the representatives we elect. Elections are only legitimate when democrats win. Good citizens fight for democracy by enabling victorious Republicans -- and by thwarting victorious Democrats.

SO WHO'LL FALL FOR TULSI GABBARD'S RATF*CK?

No surprise here:
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) announced early Friday on Twitter that she won’t run for reelection to Congress....

Gabbard cited her presidential bid in her decision not to seek another term....

Hours before announcing that she would not seek another term in Congress, Gabbard appeared on Fox News host Sean Hannity’s show Thursday night to criticize Democrats for holding impeachment hearings in private.
She's losing badly in the primaries and is clearly planning to run third-party, as Hillary Clinton predicted and as Charlie Gasparino and Lydia Moynihan of Fox Business have reported:
Tulsi Gabbard, fresh off her nasty tussle with former first lady, secretary of state, and 2016 Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, was given a hero's welcome at a meeting with Wall Street executives and potential donors on Wednesday evening in New York City that took place at Anthony Scaramucci’s Hunt and Fish Club restaurant, FOX Business has learned.

... about two dozen Wall Street executives sat for the off-the-record meeting with Gabbard that was hosted by Robert Wolf, himself a prominent Wall Street Democrat (golfing buddy of former President Barack Obama) and past chief of Swiss bank UBS' U.S. operations.
(Wolf was also a prominent Clinton backer in 2016.)
... "Tulsi is a rock star," said one Wall Street heavy hitter who attended. "She's warm and smart, people in the room loved her."

... party insiders believe she is poised to shake-up the race even further by running as a third-party candidate that would weaken any eventual candidate to oppose President Trump.
There's disagreement about who'll benefit from this campaign:



Click on the chart in the following tweet -- it does appear that Gabbard's current supporters don't like any of the other Democratic candidates in the race, which suggests that they're not really gettable voters in the general election.



I've long been angry at Ralph Nader for his 2000 campaign, and at Jill Stein for 2016, but I've increasingly come to believe that there are certain progressive voters who just want to make themselves feel morally superior on Election Day, and are determined not to vote for the Democrat. They'll vote for Gabbard, but they would have voted third-party anyway. But will those be her only voters?

I don't think Gabbard will make much headway with 2016 Trump voters, even the incel/Gamergate/alt-right crowd. Yes, they call Gabbard "Mommy" on 4chan, the way Milo Yiannopoulos used to call Trump "Daddy" -- but these are dudebros we're talking about, and for them I'm sure "Daddy" is always superior to "Mommy."

I worry about Gabbard's ability to seem reasonable on television. Do significant numbers of swing voters watch Fox? Will she get TV time elsewhere? How obnoxious will her campaign to be included in the general election debates be?

She'll deserve to be in the debates if the ratfuckers achieve their goal, which, I suspect, will be to make her seem like a middle-ground alternative to President Trump and (I assume) Elizabeth Warren. She certainly takes a lot of positions -- in favor of a late-term abortion ban, against the Democrats' handling of the impeachment investigation ("Tulsi Gabbard echoes Republican frustrations with impeachment inquiry: 'I don't know what's going on in those closed doors,'" reads a headline at FoxNews.com right now) -- that put her to Warren's right. Yet the goal is also to sell a portion of the lefty electorate on the notion that Warren is a closet Republican and Gabbard is the true progressive in the race. And all of this has to be done for a candidate who frequently appears on Fox News. I'm not sure it's going to work.

Will Gabbard run as a Green? I assume so -- the alternative will be to mount an expensive campaign to get on the ballot state by state. That would probably need to be funded by Robert Wolf and his fellow fat cats -- not a good look for someone selling herself (at least partly) as the true lefty in the race.

I really don't know how this will play out. Maybe she can be turned into a surfer-girl Ross Perot by the Masters of the Universe and Fox News. More likely, she'll run as a Green, spend a lot of time on TV chatting with Tucker Carlson, and get about as many votes as Jill Stein did. Stein got only 1% of the vote -- but she got more votes than Trump's margin of victory in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. This time, we simply have to outvote both Trump and the ratfucker in every key state.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

SO WHAT YOU'RE SAYING IS THAT THE GOP COULDN'T WIN THIS ELECTION ON THE MERITS

National Review editor Rich Lowry is right when he says, in a Politico column, that there won't be enough Republican votes to convict Trump in a Senate impeachment trial:
Republican senators will soon be receiving an invitation to tear apart the Republican Party ahead of the 2020 elections, and they are going to decline to accept it.

It’s a trope of pro-impeachment commentary that it should be simple for Republican senators to swap out President Donald Trump, who puts them in an awkward position every day, for Vice President Mike Pence, an upstanding Reagan conservative who could start with a fresh slate in the runup to the 2020 election.

This idea’s only flaw is that is entirely removed from reality.
I'm sure Lowry is right. I'm sure Republican senators will decline this invitation. But why? Lowry writes:
If Senate Republicans vote to remove Trump on anything like the current facts, even the worst possible interpretation of them, it would leave the GOP a smoldering ruin. It wouldn’t matter who the Democrats nominated for 2020. They could run Bernie Sanders on a ticket balanced by Elizabeth Warren and promise to make Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez secretary of the Treasury and Ilhan Omar secretary of Defense, and they’d still win.

A significant portion of the Republican Party would consider a Senate conviction of Trump a dastardly betrayal. Perhaps most would get over it, as partisan feelings kicked in around a national election, but not all. And so a party that has managed to win the popular vote in a presidential election only once since 1988 would hurtle toward November 2020 divided.

How does anyone think that would turn out?
So what Lowry is telling us is that, under these circumstances, Republican voters wouldn't vote for their own principles, their own policies, their own judges on the federal bench. Lowry -- who notes that the GOP "has managed to win the popular vote in a presidential election only once since 1988" -- sure has a lot of confidence in the broad popular appeal of his party, its philosophy, and its #2 officeholder.

Let's compare this to the last impeachment. Democrats (and the vast majority of Americans) didn't want Bill Clinton driven from office, but in 2000 we gave a popular-vote win to a ticket that included Joe Lieberman, a proud Clinton scold. Twenty-four years earlier, Republican voters nearly kept Gerald Ford in the White House, even though members of his party helped push Richard Nixon out the door.

Lowry writes:
Trump himself isn’t going to get convicted by the Senate and say, “Well, I’m a little disappointed in your judgment to be honest. But it was a close call, and Mike Pence is a great guy, and I’m just grateful I had the opportunity to serve this country in the White House for more than three years.”

He won’t go away quietly to lick his wounds. He won’t delete his Twitter account. He won’t make it easy on anyone. He will vent his anger and resentment at every opportunity. It will be “human scum” every single day.
In other words, we've entrusted the presidency to a man so emotionally and ideologically volatile that he'll be rooting for his own vice president to lose. This, needless to say, is a solid prediction. But it means that Lowry is saying to us, "How dare you ask us to remove this volatile nutjob from the ticket!"
And it’s not as though the media is going to lose its interest in the most luridly telegenic politician that we’ve ever seen. The mainstream press would be delighted to see Trump destroyed, yet sad to bid him farewell. The obvious way to square the circle would be to continue to give Trump lavish coverage in his post-presidency. He’d be out of the White House but still driving screaming CNN chyrons every other hour.
Trump could, of course, avoid this fate by lying low and allowing the public to forget about his existence for weeks on end. There'll be legal cases against him, but they'll grind on slowly. For the most part, he won't be covered if he's not saying or doing something worth covering.

But Lowry is implicitly acknowledging that Trump can't give up the spotlight. So Lowry is saying, "You'd better leave this pathologically narcissistic attention addict in the Oval Office!"
It’s possible to come up with a scenario in which Ukraine developments are much worse than it’s possible to imagine right now, and Trump’s support craters, even among Republicans. Then, you might have GOP senators voting to convict. This is just another path to the destruction of the party’s hopes in 2020, though, because there’s no way it would snap back from a Nixonian meltdown at the top in less than a year.
Translation: If we learn that Trump has done something even more egregious than what's been alleged against him so far, allegations that already have half of America believing he should be removed from office ... then he'll still be the strongest candidate Republicans can put up in 2020.

That hole is pretty deep, Rich. Stop digging.

BUT YOU TOLD ME UKRAINE WAS EASY TO UNDERSTAND

Lead sentence of a Washington Post story about the impeachment process:
House Democrats are preparing to move their largely private impeachment inquiry onto a more public stage as soon as mid-November and are already grappling with how best to present the complex Ukraine saga to the American people.
Oh, great -- now it's a "complex saga"? I mean, obviously it is -- but we were assured that Ukraine was an ideal subject for impeachment because it was straightforward and easy for ordinary Americans to understand. Well, so much for that.

On the other hand, a new Quinnipiac poll shows support for the impeachment inquiry increasing to 55%, so maybe complexity was never the problem. (I'm not sure most poll respondents who support impeachment do so based on any specific allegation -- many of them, I think, are just sick of Trump and want him to go away.)

If Democrats wanted a charge that was easy to explain, they should have gone for impeachment on emoluments. Foreigners give Trump money, foreigners get favorable treatment, in violation of the Constitution -- what could be easier to understand? Even without the G-7 at the Trump Doral, it's an open-and-shut case. (The Constitution says you can't take money from foreign governments, not that you can take the money if it doesn't quite turn your failing business into a success.)

Granted, Ukrainegate seems more sinister than emoluments. But its increasing complexity, which doesn't seem to be accompanied by a decrease in support for impeachment, reinforces my belief that Democrats, if they'd played their cards right, could have impeached on Russia. They would have needed to respond almost immediately to the release of the Mueller report with the line of argument they only gradually developed: that the report is packed with evidence of obstruction of justice, that Robert Mueller was either too rule-bound or too cowardly to throw the book at the president, and that the William Barr summary of the report was a reprehensible act of misdirection. I still think the tide could have been turned on that, if those messages had gone out within a day or two of the report's release. But we are where we are, with a different story that's nearly as complicated, and with the public ready for an impeachment.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

THE BELTWAY'S FANTASY GOP VS. THE REAL GOP

Sarah Longwell of the anti-Trump group Republicans for the Rule of Law is writing fan fiction about Mitt Romney, which The Atlantic has seen fit to publish:
Mitt Romney, It’s Time

The senator is best positioned to pry the Republican Party from President Trump’s hands.


... Now circumstances are evolving to the point where Romney may be able to lead his colleagues to break with the administration if—or rather when—the president is impeached by the House.

Jeff Flake has speculated that 35 or more Republican senators might vote in an impeachment trial to remove Trump from office, but only if the vote were held in secret. Whatever the real number is, the senators face a collective-action problem. Politically, their safest bet is to move as one, announcing their openness to removal as a bloc. The president can say what he wants about this or that senator. But he wouldn’t be able to claim—with any credibility beyond his most cultlike followers—that a group composed of 10 or more Republican senators is just a cabal of dishonest, no-good losers secretly working for the Democrats.
He couldn't? Sure he could. Fox-addled Republican voters -- who aren't the tiny sliver of the party Longwell thinks they are -- have no qualms about rejecting multiple Republicans as traitors and fellow travelers. They've written the entire Bush family out of the GOP pantheon, after accusing liberals of treason for expressing skepticism about George W. a decade and a half ago. To the typical Fox Republican, John McCain was a traitor. Paul Ryan is a traitor. Jeff Flake and Justin Amash are traitors. They've got a little list, and they'd be delighted to make it longer.
Part of any collective-action problem is the disincentive to go first. Senators who want to vote against Trump [in an impeachment trial] will want to wait until the last minute, letting their more courageous colleagues take the political hit by going first.... It won’t be fun, and it’s a big ask for any sitting Republican.

Romney is best suited for the job.... He’s not up for reelection until 2024, which gives him the maximum amount of leeway to make difficult votes. Even then, he represents Utah, a deep-red state where Trump’s approval rating has been underwater for much of his presidency. And that’s all assuming that Romney would even want to run for another six-year term at age 77. This all points to Romney as the perfect person to overcome the collective-action problem—he has more stature and political capital than anyone else in the Senate, but he also has the least to lose.
Maybe he'll join a small number of Republicans facing reelection in purple states, but he's not going to lead a GOP revolt, and he certainly isn't going to "pry the Republican Party from President Trump’s hands."

Republican voters might turn on Trump in the distant future if he's reelected and an economic downturn leads, far too late, to GOP Trump fatigue (at which point they'll start calling him a liberal). For now, though, if he's under attack, GOP voters will continue to regard him as a hero or a martyr, and any Republican who sides against him as the worst kind of turncoat.

The party won't be pried from Trump's hands. It will be lovingly handed off, probably to this guy:



The story:
Roughly two-dozen House Republicans on Wednesday stormed a closed-door deposition in secure House Intelligence Committee spaces to rail against the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry, a political stunt ratcheting up the GOP complaints about the process that threw the deposition into doubt.

The conservative lawmakers, led by Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, barged into the deposition and demanded they be allowed to see the closed-door proceedings.

A source in the room said that as the witness, Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Laura Cooper, was sitting down to testify, the Republicans stormed through the room's three different doors. Rep. Bradley Byrne of Alabama was yelling at House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, but the California Democrat did not engage, the source said. Other Democrats, including Rep. Val Demings of Florida, shouted back at both Byrne and Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, who were yelling about the process.

"It was closest thing I've seen around here to mass civil unrest as a member of Congress," according to a source in the room.
Gaetz is now the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination -- and for the 2020 nomination if Trump is somehow removed from office in the next few months. But Beltway insiders will continue to imagine a "mainstream" GOP restoration, possibly led by Romney, or by some other Trump skeptic. They're dreaming.

TRUMP PREPARES FOR THE WORST IN CHARACTERISTIC FASHION -- BY FINDING OTHER PEOPLE TO BLAME

The president needs a coping strategy as impeachment looms, and the Daily Beast reports that he's found one that's characteristically Trumpian: He's proclaiming that other people are to blame for his troubles.
President Trump, his advisers, and his most fervent media allies have grown increasingly irritated with Senate Republicans for failing to counterprogram the Democratic-led House impeachment inquiry.

... the president’s close advisers have pushed for the Senate GOP to hold hearings and call witnesses of their own in a broader effort to put Democrats on the defensive.

... The complaints have come from the top down. One source who spoke to Trump in the past two weeks said that the president wondered aloud why Republican lawmakers couldn’t be more like people such as Tom Fitton—the Judicial Watch president who Trump regularly watches on Fox and often excitedly tweets about—when defending him against the impeachment inquiry. And in public, Trump has increasingly let his dissatisfaction with Republican Senate leadership and others be known.
Yup. There was this moment:



A longer version of that quote:
Well, I think the Democrats fight dirty. I think the Democrats are lousy politicians with a lousy policy. They want open borders, they don't care about crime, they want sanctuary cities, they don't care about drugs. They don't care about almost anything. They don't care about USMCA. How about that? I think they're lousy politicians. But two things they have, they're vicious, and they stick together. They don't have Mitt Romney in their midst. They don't have people like that. They stick together. You never see them break off.
Trump is angry at Romney, but, hilariously, the president and his allies have also been lashing out at one of his most servile sycophants, according to the Daily Beast:
... there is growing frustration that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, has not yet called hearings into the issues that sparked Trump’s interest in Ukraine: Joe Biden’s alleged and unfounded attempts to aid a business whose board his son sat on as well as a conspiracy theory that links Ukraine with 2016 election meddling....

“Think about this, nothing is happening in the U.S. Senate… nothing!” Lou Dobbs, a Fox Business host and top informal Trump adviser, said on his show Monday evening.... “For nine months, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee [Lindsey Graham] has not lifted a finger to help this president. He blathers little soundbites one side or another for or against the president every week, it seems, but has done nothing for the American people or truth, justice, and the American way.”

... Tucker Carlson, another pro-Trump Fox personality who has privately advised the president on foreign policy, also took aim at Graham on Monday night. Speaking with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Carlson grumbled that Graham wasn’t upholding his promise to get to the bottom of whether or not “top DOJ officials plotted a bureaucratic coup to overthrow the elected president.”

Paul, one of the president’s most vocal defenders on Capitol Hill these days, suggested that Graham and other Republican senators were more loyal to the so-called Deep State than to Trump, adding that the South Carolina senator may want the Deep State to “maintain their power and maintain the intelligence community’s enormous grip.”
Poor Lindsey -- he toadies so much, but it's never enough. He probably toadies too much. Now he's the one Trump wants to throw him under the bus.

Trump wants Graham and other Senate Republicans to do more, but it's not as if Trump himself has a strategy.
... Hill Republicans ... have watched warily over the last few weeks as the White House has struggled to mount a defense to the damaging allegations emerging from the House proceedings....

“It’s amazing that people are attacking Senate Rs,” texted one top Senate GOP aide. “The White House has literally no pushback to what the House is doing. No war room, nothing.”
Hey, just because Trump believes Senate Republicans aren't doing enough doesn't mean he has to do anything. Effort is for other people.

If all this goes very badly for Trump, he'll walk away believing that he did nothing wrong. Trump can't fail -- he can only be failed.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES STILL DOESN'T KNOW HOW THE INTERNET WORKS

This is chilling.

No, wait -- did I say "chilling"? I meant pathetic.
The White House said Tuesday it will not be renewing subscriptions to The New York Times and The Washington Post, two papers the president frequently attacks as “fake” and which he suggested canceling the previous night in a TV appearance.

Monday on Fox News’ “Hannity,” President Donald Trump called the Times “a fake newspaper” and said “we don’t even want it in the White House anymore.”

“We’re going to probably terminate that and The Washington Post,” Trump said. “They’re fake.”

Trump’s “terminate” remarks were interpreted by journalists on Twitter as meaning canceling paper subscriptions, rather than kicking reporters out of the White House. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham confirmed to POLITICO that he was talking about subscriptions, “which we won’t be renewing.”’
He really doesn't know, does he? He doesn't understand that people can read the Times and the Post on their phones and computers, and that they can do this using their own personal subscriptions. Yes, even in the White House.

(He also doesn't know that staffers may be publicly announcing that the subscriptions won't be renewed in the hope that Trump will soon forget that he demanded their cancellation, which is probably a safe bet.)

Trump also said:
“Look, they give Pulitzer prizes to people who got it wrong, okay? ... They’re fake. You take a look at the New York Times and you take a look at the reporting they do– it turned out to be all wrong.”
There's a preposterous gloss on this from a site co-founded by Laura Ingraham, LifeZette.
Among other examples, the president is likely referring to the controversial 1920s-era New York Times reporter Walter Duranty, who ignored reports of massive and gruesome Soviet atrocities, and 1950s-era Times reporter Herbert Matthews, who made the glorification of Fidel Castro a journalistic campaign. Matthews refused to accept evidence Castro was a communist — and was himself a propaganda tool.
It's hilarious that LifeZette's David Kamioner believes that Trump has ever heard of either of these reporters.

Trump plans to cancel the White House's dead-tree copies of the Times and Post? It's moves like this that make me question recent mainstream-media stories about the Trump campaign's awe-inspiring online advertising campaign and its earth-shattering campaign rallies. We're told that the rallies and the Facebook ads are a mortal threat to the eventual Democratic nominee because they're motivating Trump loyalists to turn out -- but Trump motivates the loyalists, and only the loyalists, every day. The newspaper cancellations (or, strictly speaking, non-renewals) are part of today's daily motivation for the loyalists. The typical day's tweets and helicopter talk are motivation. Nearly everything Trump does is intended to motivate the base (and also make Trump feel better about himself and his life).

As I often say: How motivated can these people get? They can each only vote once. Meanwhile, the rest of the electorate is alienated by everything that motivates the base, as the recent PRRI poll notes:
Nearly three in four (73%) Americans say they wish Trump’s speech and behavior were more consistent with past presidents.... Less than half (46%) of Republicans say they wish Trump’s behavior was more consistent with past presidents, compared to 74% of independents and 88% of Democrats who say the same....

Almost two-thirds (65%) of Americans say that Trump has damaged the dignity of the presidency, while 35% say he has not. Democrats are in near-universal agreement (92%), and more than seven in ten (72%) of independents agree that the dignity of the office of the presidency has suffered under Trump.
So yes, Donnie, you just kep selling your product to people who've already agreed to buy it.



WE DON'T DEMONSTRATE BECAUSE OUR ELECTORAL CAMPAIGNS ARE TOO DAMN LONG

Michelle Goldberg notes that the streets in America are awfully quiet.
All over the world right now, outraged citizens are taking to the streets. Mass protests in Hong Kong have been going on for months.... For the last five days, hundreds of thousands of people have been marching against austerity and corruption in Lebanon.... In Chile, protests over a subway fare increase have exploded into a broader uprising against inequality.

These demonstrations are part of a global trend. “There has been in this decade a real rise in the use of mass protests in particular as a way to address grievances against governments around the world,” said Erica Chenoweth, a Harvard professor and co-author of “Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict.” In fact, she said, in the last 10 years there have been more mass demonstrations calling for the removal of political leaders than in any decade since 1900.

So as Donald Trump’s sneering lawlessness and stupefying corruption continue to escalate, it’s confounding, at least to me, that Americans aren’t taking to the streets en masse.
This echoes a recent column from Goldberg's New York Times colleague David Leonhardt:
L.A. Kauffman, a historian of protest movements, has said that effective ones often throw “a monkey wrench into a process that was otherwise going to just unfold smoothly.” That’s the role that an outside game can now play in the impeachment saga....

So it’s time for a sequel to that first Women’s March — an Americans’ March, in which millions of people peacefully take to the streets to say that President Trump must go. And it’s time for a more intense grass-roots campaign directed at his congressional enablers....
But nothing's going on. Why? Because our electoral campaigns are too long.

There were demonstrations in the early days of the Trump administration because we'd just had an election and the results filled us with outrage and frustration. It would be four long years before we could vote again for a president, two years before we'd choose a Congress.

But much of the energy that went into demonstrating against President Trump in early 2017 eventually found its way into campaigns for Democratic candidates in the 2018 midterms. That went on for a year. Then, almost immediately, the energy went into presidential campaigns, which, in America, take a preposterous two years to complete.

So for three out of every four years, we think we're just on the verge of an election (for most of that time we aren't), and we believe that that the election could change everything (it doesn't -- in 2018, Democrats won the power to check some of the president's worst excesses, but he can still do a lot of harm, and even complete Democratic control, which could conceivably come after the 2020 elections, might leave us at the mercy of timid Democratic moderates, filibustering Republicans, a GOP Supreme Court, and right-wing media propaganda).

Maybe it makes no sense to demonstrate when an election is truly imminent, but at any other time it's well worth it. Think of the damage President Trump did in his first year alone. Now realize that he has more than a year to do damage before we get to vote on him again. So yes, we should take to the streets.

Monday, October 21, 2019

CONVICTION IN THE SENATE? NAHHH.

It's still extremely unlikely that President Trump will be convicted in a Senate impeachment trial, but some pundit keep spotting rays of hope. Jonathan Chait writes:
... the alliance between Trump and the Republican Congress has visibly fragmented in recent weeks. Last week, the House voted 354-60 to condemn Trump’s Syria policy. Mitch McConnell has promised an even stronger resolution of disapproval in the Senate. Internal pressure from Republicans forced Trump to reverse his plans to hold the G7 summit at a Trump property, a crushing defeat for a president who despises both outward signs of weakness and missed chances to profit.
Chait knows that every individual act of defiance is political suicide for a Republican foolish enough to try it, but he sees a way out:
Trump has the power to end the career of dissidents, and he has flaunted it, forcing once-safe figures like Jeff Flake and Bob Corker to retire when they defied him. But his power lies only in the ability to pick off heretics one by one. The Senate Republicans can band together to vote him out, and Trump would have little recourse.
Collective action? Chait thinks the Party of Rugged Individualism is capable of that? If that were the case, it would have happened in late 2015 and early 2016. One Republican, Scott Walker, recommended collective action as a way to stop Trump back in the fall of 2015 -- as Walker ended his own campaign for president, he called for other candidates to drop out as well, in order to clear the field for a strong consensus alternative to Trump. It never happened, and we know the rest of the story.

Chait writes:
Trump would, to be sure, rage furiously against a party that betrayed him and try to whip up his followers against them in 2020, perhaps even running an independent campaign.
Wait -- Trump couldn't run again if he were impeached, right? Well, as Edward B. Foley, a constitutional law professor, noted last month at Politico, the Constitution doesn't require the Senate to disqualify an impeached and convicted officeholder from ever holding office again. A number of impeached officeholders have been removed from office and not disqualified from holding office again, such as Alcee Hastings, who lost his federal judgeship in a 1989 impeachment trial and then won a House seat a few years later. (He's now held it for nearly 27 years.)

But if Republicans have the gumption to join with Democrats to expel Trump, they'll sure as hell want to vote to prevent him from holding office again. They don't want him running an independent campaign for president intended to either (a) return him to the White House (which Trump might believe is possible, even running against a Democrat and a Republican) or (b) screw the GOP by splitting the right-wing vote and ensuring a Democratic victory. So no, he'll be permanently disqualified if he's convicted. (Democrats could vote not to disqualify, to make mischief for the GOP, but that raises the possibility that Republicans will just nominate him again.)

Chait writes:
But [Trump's] power relies on the support of the conservative media apparatus, which is loyal to the Republican Party. Fox News fell behind Trump because his interests dovetailed with those of the GOP as a whole. If the two began to work at cross-purposes, it would likely turn on him as rapidly as it fell in line after he won the nomination.
No it wouldn't. Fox has been trying to take a few tentative baby steps out of the Trump camp -- and it's not working. The Fox audience remains in the Trump cult. Fox can't risk this.

Trump has been an apostate Republican on some issues -- free trade, fighting ISIS -- but as long as he's pissing off the D.C. establishment and, especially, Democrats (who generally oppose a sudden, calamitous withdrawal from Syria that consigns Kurds to ethnic cleansing or genocide), the base is with him. Hey, it's not as if he's signing a gun control bill, or working with Chuck Schumer on an infrastructure plan. That would be heresy.
The cult of personality around Trump is a creation of the party-controlled media. To assume Republican voters would remain loyal to a Trump who has turned against the party extends them too much credit. They will follow whomever they are told to follow.
That may have been true once. It's not true now. Trump isn't Mitt Romney in 2012. This is a personality cult, and the acolytes aren't becoming disillusioned. Remember when Fox tried to slow the rise of Trump by sending Megyn Kelly out there to kneecap him? How'd that work out? Asking Sean or Tucker or Judge Jeannine or the Fox & Friendsters to follow a new, anti-Trump party line would be corporate suicide.

So no, this isn't going to happen. A few Republican senators might vote to convict Trump, but the number won't be double digits, much less 20 (or the 21 who'll actually be needed, because Joe Manchin, from Trump-mad West Virginia, will vote to acquit). I'd be surprised if more than three Republicans vote to convict -- and I wouldn't be surprised if none do.