Friday, January 31, 2020


I garbled the facts in this post, so I've taken it down.


I've never believed that there'd be witnesses in Senate impeachment trial, so Lamar Alexander's decision to vote no on witnesses, announced last night, doesn't surprise me at all. Susan Collins and Mitt Romney will vote for witnesses, so it will be a 49-51 vote -- not 50-50, which means John Roberts will be spared the awkwardness of having to reveal his own partisan hackery in his inevitable decision either to break the tie in the GOP's favor or to declare that a tie means the motion fails. Then comes the acquittal. That's impeachment, folks. Hope you enjoyed it.

There won't be any Republican votes to convict, but it's likely that there'll be at least one Democratic vote to acquit. Today The New York Times assesses the possible Democratic defectors. Here's the headline:
Spotlight Falls on Democrats From Trump-Friendly States
I don't like the way this is framed. It's true that two of the possible Democratic votes to acquit are from states that are very pro-Trump: Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Doug Jones of Alabama. I assumed Manchin would vote to acquit even before the Ukraine scandal broke. (He does seem likely to vote for witnesses.) Jones is another story -- he seems to know that he was lucky to win his seat, and he generally appears to vote his principles, on the assumption that he's a long shot to win again no matter what he does. (He voted no on Brett Kavanaugh, for instance.) I think there's a good chance he'll vote to convict, at least one charge, possibly on both.
“I’m still looking at that very closely,” Mr. Jones said, without elaborating. “There are some things that trouble me about it. But I will tell you this about the obstruction charge: The more I see the president of the United States attacking witnesses, the stronger that case gets.”

Later, after a spate of news articles about him, Mr. Jones backtracked: “Don’t go putting some damn headline in there, ‘Still open to acquit.’ I’m open to acquit. I’m open to convict. I want to hear all the evidence. I want to hear witnesses.”
Democratic acquittal votes could also come from Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Gary Peters of Michigan. Are their states truly "Trump-friendly"? Both voted for Trump in 2016 -- barely, in the case of Michigan -- but Trump's approval rating in both states is underwater, according to both Morning Consult and Civiqs. Trump's approval/disapproval numbers are close in Arizona -- 47%/50% according to Morning Consult, 47%/51% according to Civiqs -- but in Michigan, Trump is really unpopular: 40%/55% according to Morning Consult, 44%/54% according to Civiqs.

So what is Peters thinking? Yes, he's facing a tough race against a well-regarded black Republican, John James, who came within 6 points of defeating Debbie Stabenow in the 2018 Senate race. James outraised Peters in the fourth quarter of 2019 -- but the Real Clear Politics poll average shows Peters up by 8.3.

I don't see how voting to acquit helps Peters in an anti-Trump state, unless he doesn't believe the polls. (In Michigan in 2016 they were mostly wrong, though they accurately predicted Democrat Gretchen Whitmer's win in the 2018 governor's race and Democrat Debbie Stabenow's Senate win.) Democrats also gained two House seats in 2018 and won the overall House vote by more than 7 points.

So I think Peters risks alienating his base if he votes to acquit. Sinema, too. I hope they're just hinting at open-mindedness to appeal to swing voters, all while planning to convict.

I've written off Manchin, who votes with Trump more than half the time. (I still want him in office, though, because his replacement would be a Republican who votes with Trump 100% of the time, or close to it.) So I expect at least one Democratic vote to acquit. I hope it's no more than that.


UPDATE: Told ya Murkowski would vote no.

Thursday, January 30, 2020


There are some numbers in the new Pew poll that are very bad for President Trump:
Asked to look ahead to how they might vote in November, more voters say they will definitely or probably vote for the Democratic candidate (48%) than will definitely or probably vote for Trump (38%), while 13% express no preference....

Currently, Democrats are more definite about their general election preferences than are Republicans: 73% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters say they will definitely vote for the party’s nominee, while 59% of Republican and Republican-leaning voters say they will definitely vote for Trump.
When voters are asked to predict their reactions if Trump wins reelection, 57% express a negative emotion and say they would be either disappointed (32%) or angry (25%); fewer say they’d experience either relief (24%) or excitement (18%).
Among Democrats and Democratic leaners, 96% say they'd be angry or disappointed if Trump wins. Among Republicans and Republican leaners, only 84% say they'd be excited or relieved.

Trump's opponents would seem to have the upper hand -- and yet...
... Republicans are far more confident of victory in November. Nearly four-in-ten Republican voters (38%) think Trump will definitely win reelection, while another 41% say he will probably win. Among Democratic voters, just 11% say the Democratic candidate will definitely win, while 32% see a Democratic victory as probable.
And this pessimism is borne out by other polling. Right now, the Real Clear Politics polling average says Joe Biden is beating Trump by a less-than-overwhelming 4.3 points. Mike Bloomberg leads by 3.2, Bernie Sanders by 3.0, and Elizabeth Warren by 1.2. Pete Buttigieg trails Trump by 0.2. (Hillary Clinton won the 2016 popular vote by 2.1.)

I know that a lot of you believe Trump will win through illicit means. I worry that he has a good chance of victory for a much simpler reason: too many Americans who oppose him will be reluctant to vote for the Democrat in November. I'm not just talking about Bernie-or-Busters who won't vote for Biden or moderate Democrats who won't vote for Sanders. I'm also talking about voters who are sick of Trump but have internalized decades of daily Democrat-bashing by conservative media figures and Republican politicians, none of it ever effectively contested (or even acknowledged) by the Democratic Party.

If Trump wins, it won't just be because GOP states suppress the Democratic vote or because Facebook blithely allows right-wing and Russian disinformation to spread. It won't just be because of the Electoral College, or because the "liberal" media retransmits GOP talking points about the Democratic candidate. It will be because the Democratic brand is in awful shape in large swaths of the country, and the party doesn't even recognize that it has a problem.


Trump bootlicker Kurt Schlichter is worried about President Trump's response to the coronavirus outbreak:
The Coronavirus Could Be Trump’s Katrina
Schlichter doesn't mean Trump will actually mismanage the crisis -- that would be unthinkable! It's Trump! He means that Trump might be unfairly maligned, because meany liberals always malign innocent, highly competent Republicans like George W. Bush.
This could be Trump’s Katrina.... Understand this, and you probably don’t know because our media is garbage and most media people know nothing, but the federal disaster response to Katrina was amazing. Huge numbers of personnel and vast quantities of supplies poured into the stricken area in an incredibly short time. The incompetence came from – shocker – the Democrat leadership locally, but the media hung it around George W. Bush’s gentlemanly neck. And because he was too gentlemanly to cry “Bull Schiff!,” most everyone thinks what was a logistical miracle was a clusterfark.

The media is aching, yearning, begging for the chance to do the same thing to Trump.

And the stage is being set to do that. China is going nuts. The numbers of cases coming into the U.S. are growing. People are confused. The stock market is pitching and heaving. And the impeachment circus is going to end with the Democrats’ humiliation soon, meaning suddenly the media will soon need a new shiny object to chase.
If you think this sounds like projection on the part of the folks who were itching to blame Barack Obama for an American Ebola epidemic that never happened, come up and claim your prize. (Kurt Schlichter in 2014: "Liberals’ Refusal To Secure Our Borders Invites Ebola ... And Worse." Also "Trusting This Administration On Ebola, Or Anything Else, Is Insanity.")
Coronavirus is that shiny object. The media will not be honest or accurate or fair. It will lie, cheat, and give voice to leftist leakers with agendas. That’s why Trump needs to go around the media, straight to us.

Trump needs to go on the air, to the American people, and lay out the situation. Then Team Trump needs to step up the game by arm-twisting the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) into talking to us, at length, in detail. Get those science nerds in their lab coats out there, in front of the camera, every day, bombarding us with info. Talk our ears off.

... If the president assures the citizenry that he understands this is a priority and that he is vectoring in America’s best scientists to respond, that not only foils the cheesy partisan political attack that is coming. It helps the actual defeat of this potential epidemic. Instead of inspiring panic, the presentation of the Administration as having this crisis well in hand will serve to calm fears as well as tell people what to do.
This is hilarious. Can you actually imagine Trump ceding the limelight this way? Not only that, but ceding it to experts? This is what every other president would do, regardless of party. They'd all know not only that the experts know more, and that the experts would convey a sense of authority and trustworthiness, but that they themselves would look wise and reassuring if they ceded the stage to well-informed doctors and other scientists in lab coats.

Not Trump. Schlichter can't bring himself to acknowledge that if coronavirus really does become a crisis in America, Trump will feel the need to tell us that he is the #1 expert on it. Right now he might be too preoccupied with other matters to get personally involved in the management of America's response, but if it becomes necessary for him to weigh in, he'll insist on being front and center.

And where will he get his information? The same place he gets his information on every other subject: Fox News. Eventually, if this becomes a major concern for Americans, the nihilists at Fox will find a way to blame Democrats and liberalism. I've told you that I believe Trump doesn't hate Asian people the way he hates Muslims, blacks, and Hispanics, but sooner or later Fox will call for more draconian restrictions on foreigners than are necessary, and will begin demonizing scapegoats, probably including Asian-Americans, whether or not they've traveled to Asia during the outbreak. The president will follow Fox's lead.

Let's hope Trump never focuses on this crisis. Let the experts do their jobs. The last thing we need is his involvement.


AND: I spared you the many sneering references in Schlichter's column to bat-eating, which has been blamed for the outbreak, perhaps erroneously. It's quite possible that if coronavirus becomes a serious problem in America, Trump (probably echoing Fox) will just blame it on those crazy non-Europeans with their crazy diets, the way he blames massive wildfires on inadequate forest raking.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020


I've long believed that Republicans got close enough to steal the 2000 presidential election because they successfully spread the message that an immoral Democrat had evaded justice in the failed impeachment of 1998-1999. Bill Clinton polluted the Oval Office, they said, so the solution was to elect a clean-living born-again, George W. Bush, to the presidency. He won and Republicans retained control of both houses of Congress, despite peace, prosperity, and Clinton's high job approval numbers, none of which were enough to give Clinton's vice president a comfortable margin of victory.

Right now, Republicans seemed determined to enrage Trump opponents as much as they possibly can. It now appears that they're likely to block witness testimony, in order to end the impeachment trial as quickly as possible:
It was clear to Senate Republicans on Wednesday after a morning meeting between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) that the question of having additional witnesses is settled, and the Senate will vote Friday to wrap up the impeachment trial of President Trump.

There was no discussion of witnesses at a Senate GOP lunch meeting Wednesday, which was held a couple hours after McConnell and Murkowski met for about 20 to 30 minutes.

That was seen as a sign by several senators that Democrats will fail to convince four Republicans to join them in calling for witnesses. Without a vote to hear from witnesses, the trial could end as soon as Friday.
They're also advancing arguments that are manifestly outrageous. The latest is this:
Alan Dershowitz ... argued that Trump cannot be impeached for pressuring Ukraine for investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden because doing so would be aimed at helping his reelection chances. Dershowitz said Trump's motivations would ultimately be fueled by the public interest because he believes his reelection is what's best for the country.

"Every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest," Dershowitz said. "And mostly you're right. Your election is in the public interest."

"And if a president did something that he believes will help him get elected, in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment."

Here are a few responses:

It's as if Republicans want Trump-skeptical Americans to feel that the trial is even more monstrous an injustice than they anticipated it would be. It's as if they want us to loathe Trump more than we already did. It's as if they want us determined to double and triple our efforts to drive Trump from office, out of fear that in a second term he really will become the dictator his enablers say he's entitled to be.

The anti-Trump ads write themselves -- or, more precisely, they've already been written, by Alan Dershowitz and other Trump allies.


CNN's Jake Tapper reports:
The White House has issued a formal threat to former national security adviser John Bolton to keep him from publishing his book, "The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir," sources familiar with the matter tell CNN.
The letter, dated last Thursday, claims that the book "appears to contain significant amounts of classified information," some of it "at the TOP SECRET level."

Here's what strikes me as odd: If the White House and vetters at the National Security Council still believed as of January 23 that the book needed significant redactions, why did Bolton's publisher, Simon & Schuster, announce a March 17 onsale date a few days later? Given the time it takes to print a book and distribute it nationwide, you'd think the publisher would want to be reasonably certain that the book was in near-final form heading into early February before locking down a publication date. If redactions are necessary, they'll take time to implement. Deleting text might require deleting and renumbering endnotes related to the relevant text. An index might need to be thoroughly overhauled. (At major book publishers, indexing is still done by humans, not computers, because human indexers are better at indexing concepts as well as proper names.)

The letter above is signed by someone who appears to be a career professional rather than a political appointee, but I suspect she's under pressure to carry out the White House's agenda right now. The book went to the White House on December 30; in an accompanying letter, Bolton's lawyer said that "the editorial and publication schedule for the manuscript is highly time sensitive" and asked for completion of the review within thirty working days. We're well past that now.

It may be that, as Bolton's lawyers said in the December 30 letter, Bolton "carefully sought to avoid discussion of sensitive classified information ... or other classified information," in which case he and his publisher may proceed without an NSC sign-off, daring the White House to block publication. If the White House does so, that will create a real Streisand effect -- by engaging in prior restraint, or attempting to, the Trump team will generate massive interest in what it's trying to suppress.

Or the Trump team might be blowing smoke, the way it did when a lawyer for Trump threatened a lawsuit if Michael Wolff's publisher went ahead with the publication of Fire and Fury in January 2018. The publisher blew Trump off. The book was a huge hit. No lawsuit was ever filed.

We'll see.


Benjamin Netanyahu in an Oval Office meeting with President Trump on Monday:
... PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Thank you. Thank you. Mr. President, I just want to say two things: First, that the deal of the century is the opportunity of the century, and we’re not going to pass it by....
Netanyahu in a joint appearance with President Trump in the East Room yesterday:
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: ... Mr. President, your deal of the century is the opportunity of the century. And rest assured Israel will not miss this opportunity.
Nice to see Bibi hammering that catchphrase. I'm sure Trump was thrilled.

I think it's safe to say that our president made no contributions whatsoever to his own Middle East plan, and surely hasn't read a word of it -- but he probably came up with "deal of the century" to describe it, and he may be responsible for the entire slogan ("the deal of the century is the opportunity of the century"). Presidenting is hard work!

Tuesday, January 28, 2020


What the hell is she thinking?
Just after President Trump’s defense lawyers ended arguments in their Senate trial Tuesday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California became the first Democrat to suggest that she could vote to acquit him, despite serious concerns about his character.

“Nine months left to go, the people should judge. We are a republic, we are based on the will of the people — the people should judge,” Feinstein said Tuesday, after the president’s team finished a three-day presentation in his defense. “That was my view and it still is my view.”

Still, she indicated that arguments in the trial about Trump’s character and fitness for office had left her undecided. “What changed my opinion as this went on,” she said, is a realization that “impeachment isn’t about one offense. It’s really about the character and ability and physical and mental fitness of the individual to serve the people, not themselves.”

Asked whether she would ultimately vote to acquit, she demurred, saying, “We’re not finished.”
I am reminded that Feinstein became a senator when she won a special election to replace Republican Pete Wilson, who'd just been elected governor. Wilson would go on to champion the anti-immigrant Proposition 187, which passed in 1994 but helped push California Hispanics toward the Democratic Party, leaving the state's GOP in a state of disrepair from which it still hasn't recovered.

Feinstein, however, seems to believe that it's still the early '90s and that her state is still purple. And no, she's not doing this because constituents contacting her office are deeply divided:
Feinstein told reporters that her office had received roughly 125,000 letters in support of the impeachment last week, and about 30,000 against it.
Feinstein votes against Trump more than 75% of the time. Does she believe she'll be rewarded for siding with him on one occasion? Let's see how that goes:
... the USMCA was the TRUMP administration’s top legislative priority, and to its credit, the White House steered it through a Congress beset by partisanship by partnering with House Democrats. And on Wednesday, the WHITE HOUSE is hosting a big signing ceremony for the deal.

OF COURSE, IT IS UNDENIABLE FACT THAT DEMOCRATS played a big role in this deal -- just ask the White House, which told reporters for months that the fate of the bill was in Speaker NANCY PELOSI’S hands. Her trade working group negotiated with USTR ROBERT LIGHTHIZER -- and earned plaudits from many in the administration for being honest brokers.

BUT NOW THAT IT’S TIME TO CELEBRATE, DEMOCRATS are out in the cold. In a closed-door meeting Monday night, PELOSI briefly mentioned that President DONALD TRUMP would sign the trade deal this week, touting the provisions that Democrats helped get added. She mentioned the White House ceremony, and said, “not that Democrats were invited,” according to multiple people in the room.

WAIT. HOW ABOUT WAYS AND MEANS CHAIRMAN RICHIE NEAL (D-Mass.), whose committee was the center of gravity in getting the deal tweaked and passed? Not invited, sources told us. Rep. ROSA DELAURO (D-Conn.), a member of the trade working group? She said she didn’t get the invite.

REP. HENRY CUELLAR -- one of the biggest champions of the trade deal in the House Democratic Caucus -- said he was not included in the event. But two officials in his district -- Laredo’s Democratic Mayor Peter Saenz, and a local county commissioner -- did receive the invite to the White House. “It’s a little petty of him,” the Texas Democrat said in an interview, referring to the president. “Actually, there were more Democrats who voted in favor than Republicans in the House side.”

WE HEARD LATE MONDAY that the White House was considering a few invites to friendly Democrats. There was some internal tension, though, because, as several White House sources pointed out, there may be someone in the building who isn’t exactly interested in celebrating with Democrats because of impeachment.
Maybe Trump would be nicer to Feinstein because it's impeachment, his real #1 priority, and he's desperate for a Democratic defector -- but even if Feinstein votes his way, he'll rebuff her and insult her the minute she does something he doesn't like afterward. So what's the point?


UPDATE: Now there's this:

Good to know -- but then what was all that hedging about?


Leaks from John Bolton's book are making it at least somewhat more likely that witnesses will be called in the Senate impeachment trial. That's should make me happy, but it doesn't. President Trump is on trial, and the only witnesses who should be called are the ones on the Democrats' list -- Bolton, Mick Mulvaney, and so on -- but it seems clear that if witnesses are called, they'll come as part of a deal.
Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.), an influential conservative in the Senate, has spoken with several colleagues in recent days about possibly summoning just two witnesses to President Trump’s impeachment trial, with one called by Republicans and one by Democrats, according to three Republican officials.

Toomey has confided to GOP senators that proposing a “one-for-one” deal with Senate Democrats may be necessary at some point, particularly with pressure mounting for witnesses to be called, according to the officials....
Why aren't all the Republicans rushing to embrace this? If I were a Republican, I'd embrace it, for the most cynical reasons. If Democrats get John Bolton, Republicans will get Hunter Biden. If the Democrats' list lengthens, maybe Joe Biden is next for the Republicans, or maybe it's Adam Schiff or the whistleblower. The more witnesses the Democrats get, the more Republicans have a chance to make the case all about the Bidens, House Democrats, and the Deep State, after which they can use their superior messaging skills to proclaim that all their narratives have been borne out by witness testimony. (Schiff can hold his own, and I imagine the whistleblower can as well, but do you trust Hunter Biden on the witness stand? Do you trust Joe Biden, who can be maddeningly inarticulate, and who often seems to go into debates, especially in this election cycle, showing signs of having underprepared?)

Do you think testimony from Bolton, Mulvaney, or other witnesses on the Democrats' wish list will bust the case wide open? Why? Just because Bolton, in particular, appears willing to offer a firsthand account confirming Trump's guilt? The whole point of Alan Deshowitz's presentation last night in the trial was: It doesn't matter if Trump did it. You can't impeach him even if he is guilty of everything mentioned in the articles. Forty-plus percent of the country has believed from the beginning of Trump's presidency that literally nothing he does can be called a crime, or even an error in judgment. To these people, Trump is amazing. They're unbudgeable. Nothing said against him in the trial will matter to them. And if it doesn't matter to them, it won't matter to the Republicans who represent them in the Senate, who'll be thanked for their votes to acquit even after damning witness testimony.

If Biden and the Democratic Party are effectively put on trial, it will matter. Biden leads in head-to-head polls against Trump, but his lead is narrowing. So are the leads of other Democratic presidential hopefuls. So is Democrats' lead in generic-ballot polling of the 2020 congressional elections. And while poll respondents are still more likely to disapprove of Trump's job performance than to approve of it, the gap is getting smaller.

Democrats have made their case. They'll be better off if the trial is over soon, and is perceived as one-sided and unfair. Anti-Trump voters -- who are still a majority -- will feel that the president got away with something, and will presumably take out their anger at the ballot box, just the way voters who thought Bill Clinton got away with something in his impeachment trial voted Republican in sufficient numbers to give the GOP full control of the government in the 2000 elections.

Also, Trump looks worse to the American people when he's the center of attention -- strutting, bumbling, tweeting, attacking. Right now, he's not the center of attention -- the players in the impeachment trial are. We should give him back the stage as soon as possible, so he can remind voters how obnoxious he is.

This is why I'm rooting for a witness stonewall on the Republicans' part. Get the trial over with. Not much good is likely to come from a negotiation for witnesses, and the result could be a great deal of harm.

Monday, January 27, 2020


Joe Biden has published a USA Today op-ed warning us that Donald Trump is not the leader we want to deal with a dangerous disease outbreak.
The possibility of a pandemic is a challenge President Donald Trump is unqualified to handle as president. I remember how Trump sought to stoke fear and stigma during the 2014 Ebola epidemic. He called President Barack Obama a “dope” and “incompetent” and railed against the evidence-based response our administration put in place — which quelled the crisis and saved hundreds of thousands of lives — in favor of reactionary travel bans that would only have made things worse. He advocated abandoning exposed and infected American citizens rather than bringing them home for treatment. Trump’s demonstrated failures of judgment and his repeated rejection of science make him the worst possible person to lead our country through a global health challenge.
It's regrettable that Trump is president for the coronavirus outbreak, but he might not be as bad as Biden would lead you to imagine. It's true that, like so many other areas of government, the federal public health infrastructure is understaffed and not securely budgeted:
Trump has rolled back much of the progress President Obama and I made to strengthen global health security. He proposed draconian cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for International Development — the very agencies we need to fight this outbreak and prevent future ones.

He dismissed the top White House official in charge of global health security and dismantled the entire team. And he has treated with utmost contempt institutions that facilitate international cooperation, thus undermining the global efforts that keep us safe from pandemics and biological attacks.
That's bad. But Trump's approach to coronavirus might not be marked by the same bigotry and know-nothingism as his response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak was -- for a couple of reasons, neither of which is admirable.

First, Trump is less likely to demagogue this outbreak because he's the president, not a Democrat. There was hysteria surrounding the Ebola outbreak, primarily because it came right before midterm elections. Trump wasn't the only Republican using the outbreak to bash the opposition party -- as The New York Times reported at the time, the GOP party line was that Obama and the Democrats would get Americans killed.
With four weeks to go before the midterm elections, Republicans have made questions of how safe we are — from disease, terrorism or something unspoken and perhaps more ominous — central in their attacks against Democrats....

Hear it on cable television and talk radio, where pundits and politicians play scientists speculating on whether Ebola will mutate into an airborne virus that kills millions....

Republicans like Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana — all possible 2016 presidential candidates — have accused Mr. Obama of leaving Americans vulnerable to the Ebola epidemic. Conservative media like the Drudge Report have created crude puns to rhyme the president’s last name with the virus. The Daily Caller has christened him “President Ebola.”
Recall that an asymptomatic nurse who'd worked with Ebola patients was ordered quarantined in an unheated tent by then-New Jersey governor Chris Christie, until the ACLU helped her obtain her freedom. (She had not contracted the disease, and health experts said it was inappropriate to quarantine her.)

So Trump isn't demagoguing this outbreak the way he demagogued that one because there isn't a partisan advantage to doing so.

He's also not mounting a response to the current outbreak driven that's by rage and prejudice because, I assume, he has less contempt for Asians than he does for Muslims and blacks. I can't prove this, but it would be typical for a man of his age and prejudices not to have a visceral hatred of East Asians. I'm sure he has contempt for them -- he's been known to mock the way Asians speak English -- but I'm guessing he thinks Asians are very smart and good with numbers. I'm also guessing that while he can't imagine that their countries are as advanced as ours, he probably doesn't believe they're shitholes, which is how he envisions the nations of Africa, the Caribbean, and the Middle East.

I can't prove any of this, but decades of living among white bigots in the Northeast tells me it's a reasonable educated guess. If I'm right, he won't treat China the way he treats Puerto Rico. And no, he doesn't deserve credit for having some limitations to his bigotry.


We now know that John Bolton's book will be published on March 17. When major political books are embargoed -- which means the contents aren't released to reviewers in advance -- it's now standard practice for the books to be mysteriously acquired by The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and/or CNN so that full reviews and news stories can appear about a week before the publication date. But that would be March 10 -- long after the impeachment trial is likely to end if it stays on its current course. So the leak of a rough version of the book had to happen now in order for it to have some possible influence on the trial.

Therefore, we have this Maggie Haberman/Michael Schmidt report in the Times:
President Trump told his national security adviser in August that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens, according to an unpublished manuscript by the former adviser, John R. Bolton.

The president’s statement as described by Mr. Bolton could undercut a key element of his impeachment defense: that the holdup in aid was separate from Mr. Trump’s requests that Ukraine announce investigations into his perceived enemies, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden, who had worked for a Ukrainian energy firm while his father was in office.
But will this matter? The folks who write Politico's Playbook seem to think so.
MAGGIE and MIKE’S story is as bad as can be for TRUMP. BOLTON is now contradicting the president’s claim that he did not tie the aid to investigating JOE BIDEN, and he is a direct eyewitness. It comes at the absolute worst time for this White House: as the Senate is days away from deciding whether to call witnesses in the impeachment trial.

... AS OF LATE SUNDAY, our GOP sources said they could not predict what was going to happen now with witnesses, and the Republican Conference lunch today will be key in determining the state of play. In other words, these top-level sources were allowing that things may have changed. We have yet to see if Republicans will brush off this new development, or whether it will push enough of them to vote for witnesses.

... HERE’S THE DILEMMA FOR REPUBLICANS NOW: If you’re one of the Republicans who were already uncomfortable with this president, how do you vote to not call Bolton after seeing this?
Don't worry -- they'll find a way.

As the Times story notes, "a week into the trial, most lawmakers say the chances of 51 senators agreeing to call witnesses are dwindling, not growing." As the Times reported on Friday:
Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, who had signaled potential interest in considering new evidence, ... did not sound eager to push the proceeding into the unknown.

“As the House managers have said many times, they’ve presented us with a mountain of overwhelming evidence, so we have a lot to consider already,” he told reporters.

Another possible vote for witnesses, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, also sounded reluctant on Thursday, citing an argument being made by the president’s legal team and her more conservative colleagues against extending the trial.

“The House made a decision that they didn’t want to slow things down by having to go through courts,” Ms. Murkowski said. “And yet now they’re basically saying ‘You guys — the Senate — got to go through the courts. We didn’t, but we need you to.’”

And on Friday, when Representative Adam B. Schiff, the lead House manager, referred to a news report that Republican senators had been warned that their heads would be “on a pike” if they strayed from Mr. Trump, Ms. Collins and Ms. Murkowski were among those visibly outraged.
I've been telling you for days that Senate Republicans will blame phony offenses by Democrats for their decision to end the trial quickly. On CNN Friday, Democratic senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island gave this approach a name:

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-RI): ... I think that if you are a Republican, and you're looking at a really damning case, that you have no counter to, and where you're sitting on lockers full of evidence, and not allowing it into the trial, you are desperate to find an outrage off-ramp.

And they will find something outrageous in parts per billion in order to seize the outrage off-ramp and get away from the damning case that has been made on the substance.
Senate Republicans will use the outrage off-ramp to dismiss the case for Bolton's testimony. And if they don't think that will work, maybe a few of them will concede that testimony from Bolton would be a good idea -- but then the question of his testimony will get mixed up in the fight for Republican witnesses:
If the Senate decides to consider new impeachment trial witnesses and documents next week, Sen. Josh Hawley plans to try and force votes on everyone from Adam Schiff to Joe Biden.

The Missouri Republican is preparing to file subpoena requests for witnesses and documents that Democrats and Republicans alike won't want to vote on. Hawley's strategy harmonizes with plans from GOP Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky to force votes to hear from Hunter Biden....

If the witness vote succeeds, Hawley aims to force votes on subpoenas for House Intelligence Chairman Schiff (D-Calif.), Vice President Biden, Hunter Biden, Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, the still-unnamed whistleblower who reported Trump's July call with the Ukrainian president and a reported acquaintance of the whistleblower's.
Although Joe Biden rejected the notion last week, I think Democrats would swap a Biden for Bolton. But an aggressive Republican move to subpoena a Trump wish list of witnesses will lead to a protracted fight, after which Republicans -- who are much better than Democrats at message discipline -- will say that no agreement could be reached because Democrats are afraid to hear witnesses. End of witness fight; end of trial. Bolton's book, published a month after the trial, will have about the same impact as the release of the Mueller report a month after the William Barr spin.

So don't get your hopes up. There won't be witnesses.


I should also add that Republicans will insist that the Trump defense was so devastatingly effective that witnesses can't possibly contradict it:

This isn't true, but Republicans know that most Americans aren't watching the trial and have no idea. So why not say this?

Sunday, January 26, 2020


There are two ways of looking at this:
Only a small majority of Bernie Sanders voters say they will definitely support the eventual Democratic nominee at the 2020 election if the independent Vermont senator does not win the race, according to a poll.

The National Emerson College Poll of 1,128 registered voters between January 21 and January 23 found that 53 percent of Sanders supporters said "yes" when asked if they would support the Democratic nominee even if it is not their candidate.

Another 31 percent of Sanders supporters said it depends on who the nominee is and 16 percent flat-out said no....

By comparison to Sanders, 87 percent of former vice president Joe Biden's supporters said yes to voting for whoever wins the nomination, 9 percent it depends on the winning candidate, and 5 percent said no to anyone that is not Biden.

And 90 percent of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren's supporters said they would vote for whoever is the nominee, while the remaining 10 percent said it depended on who won the nomination.

None of Warren's supporters said they would not vote for the eventual nominee if she loses the Democratic race.
One way to respond to this is to be furious at the Sanders absolutists. How dare they! They'd risk four more years of Trump because their candidate lost!

The other way is to say: Well, maybe we should nominate Sanders, because in November we'd keep his voters and nearly all the voters who preferred the other Democratic candidates. He'd be the unity candidate!

I prefer to look on the bright side, because it seems increasingly likely that Sanders will win both Iowa and New Hampshire -- the New York Times/Siena poll gives him a 7-point lead in Iowa, while he has a 9-point lead in New Hampshire according to CNN and a 5-point lead according to NBC/Marist.

There's polling to suggest -- contrary to what you'd think if you spend way too much time on the Internet -- that Sanders is the unity candidate: In the most recent national CNN poll (in which Sanders has a 3-point lead over Joe Biden), a Sanders nomination inspires the highest level of enthusiasm among Democratic voters, and the highest combined levels of enthusiasm and satisfaction. Here's the question wording:
Next I'm going to read the names of some of the Democratic candidates for president and ask how you would
feel if each of them won the Democratic presidential nomination. As I read each name, please tell me whether you would feel enthusiastic, satisfied but not enthusiastic, dissatisfied but not upset, or upset if that person were the Democratic nominee.
Here are the numbers:
Sanders: enthusiastic 38%, satisfied but not enthusaistic 39%, total 77%

Biden: enthusiastic 34%, satisfied but not enthusaistic 38%, total 72%

Warren: enthusiastic 29%, satisfied but not enthusaistic 43%, total 72%

Buttigieg: enthusiastic 24%, satisfied but not enthusaistic 35%, total 59%

Klobuchar: enthusiastic 14%, satisfied but not enthusaistic 40%, total 54%

Bloomberg: enthusiastic 15%, satisfied but not enthusaistic 38%, total 52%
Maybe endorsements will change the course of the race -- though I'm skeptical. The Des Moines Register just endorsed Elizabeth Warren, and the New Hampshire Union Leader just endorsed Klobuchar. But the Register has a mixed record of picking caucus winners, and has picked only one winning presidential candidate since 1988: George W. Bush in 2000. It picked Bob Dole and Paul Simon in 1988, no one in the 1992 Democratic contest, and Bill Bradley, John Edwards, and Hillary Clinton in the Democratic contests in 2000, 2004, and 2008. Marco Rubio was the Register's Republican pick in 2016. The Union Leader's past GOP picks have included Chris Christie in 2016, Newt Gingrich in 2012, Steve Forbes in 2000, Pat Buchanan in 1992 and 1996, and Pete du Pont in 1988. So not exactly a bellwether.

The race might change again. I remember a brief moment in the 2012 campaign when it seemed reasonable to suppose that Newt Gingrich might be the Republican nominee. But Sanders looks strong right now. If you've categorically rejected him, I urge you to reconsider.

Saturday, January 25, 2020


I'm a bit late getting to Mike Pompeo's NPR interview, but I want to point out that in addition to Pompeo's decision to bully reporter Mary Louise Kelly, he also dealt with questions about U.S. foreign policy by responding as if our greatest enemy -- or at least his and the president's -- is not an overseas antagonist, but Barack Obama.

You know about the bullying:
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, apparently frustrated by questions about Ukraine and former U.S. ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, launched into a profanity-laced rant against an NPR reporter after an interview, the news organization said.

During the interview with NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly that aired Friday, Pompeo refused to say whether he owed an apology to Yovanovitch....

Kelly recounted what happened next in a report that accompanied her interview. She said a staffer escorted her to Pompeo’s private sitting room, where he was waiting....

“He shouted at me for about the same amount of time as the interview itself had lasted,” Kelly reported.

“He asked me, ‘Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?’ ” she continued. “He used the f-word in that sentence and many others. He asked if I could find Ukraine on a map. I said yes; he called out for his aides to bring him a map of the world with no writing, no countries marked. I pointed to Ukraine; he put the map away. He said, ‘People will hear about this.’ ”
But also notice the most important thing Pompeo wants to communicate about the foreign policy he's tasked with executing for President Trump: that Obama sucks and Trump rules.

From the interview transcript:
... in [the last] year and a half, Iran has behaved more provocatively, not less. So is maximum pressure working?

Absolutely working. To put it in context, this is 40 years. When you say worse, they held American hostages in our embassy in Tehran. They had our sailors kneeling. The previous administration gave them billions and billions of dollars to underwrite the very actions that they're taking today. When we came into office, it took a lot of work to fundamentally reshape the diplomatic, military and economic landscape....

... in the last year, [the Iranians] have targeted tankers in the Gulf. They have shot down a U.S. drone, and they have attacked Saudi oil facilities. Is that the desired outcome?

No, of course not. Of course, we don't want them to do those things. And we've raised the cost for doing this. The response in the previous administration when they undertook those actions was to reward them — to reward them, to give them billions of billions of dollars to allow countries to trade with them, to allow them to do all the things that you're seeing today, the ramifications, the tail, the end result of what the previous administration is the activity that we're seeing today. The money that underwrote Hezbollah, that underwrites Hamas, that underwrites Shia militias in Iraq is a direct result of the resources that were provided to them for the eight years prior to us coming into office. We are turning this around....
And on Ukraine:
Change of subject. Ukraine. Do you owe Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch an apology?

... This administration delivered the capability for the Ukrainians to defend themselves. President Obama showed up with MREs (meals ready to eat.) We showed up with Javelin missiles. The previous administration did nothing to take down corruption in Ukraine. We're working hard on that. We're going to continue to do it.
Why, it's as if the president and the secretary of state care less about foreign policy as foreign policy and more about foreign policy as a stick with which to beat their domestic opponents, while the GOP base cheers them on.

Besides Democratic officeholders, the other favorite enemy of Republican voters is the media. And so Pompeo went into this interview ready to bully Kelly the minute she began to talk about Ukraine. In the broadcast interview, Pompeo insisted he'd agreed to talk to Kelly only about Iran. Kelly responded that she'd confirmed with his staff that she was also going to ask him about Ukraine.

I know which one I believe, because today, as The Washington Post's Aaron Blake notes, Pompeo is clearly deceiving us about Kelly's foreign policy chops.
On Saturday, [Pompeo] issued a statement responding to the flap that exemplifies gaslighting.

... The most remarkable portion of Pompeo’s statement, though, came at the end.

“It is worth noting that Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine," Pompeo said in it.

The implication is unmistakable: Kelly couldn’t correctly identify the location of Ukraine on the map, and she instead pointed to Bangladesh.
As Blake correctly notes, even a relative foreign policy novice would know that Bangladesh is thousands of miles to the southeast of Ukraine -- and Kelly is no novice.
Kelly isn’t just a host of “All Things Considered,” she is also a former national security reporter who has traveled overseas extensively in her reporting. She also literally has a master’s degree — in European studies — from Cambridge University in England, which is one of the most prestigious universities in the world.
But what's most important to Republicans, even in the area of foreign policy, is bashing domestic foes. That's the way it's been for years.

Friday, January 24, 2020


This New York Times story by Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni might look familiar to you, for a couple of reasons.
Trump May Skip Debates, or Seek New Host, if Process Isn’t ‘Fair’

President Trump’s campaign is considering only participating in general election debates if an outside firm serves as the host, and his advisers recently sat down with the nonprofit Commission on Presidential Debates to complain about the debates it hosted in 2016.

The Dec. 19 meeting between Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., a prominent Republican and co-chairman of the commission, Brad Parscale, the campaign manager for Mr. Trump’s re-election effort, and another political adviser, Michael Glassner, came soon after Mr. Trump posted on Twitter that the 2016 debates had been “biased.”
It might look familiar because The Washington Post simultaneously published a nearly identical story.
Trump campaign warns debate commission the president may not participate if process is not ‘fair’

Senior Trump campaign officials lobbied the nonpartisan presidential debate commission last month over the makeup of its board of directors and its moderator choices, pushing for a process they deemed as “fair” and warning that the president may not participate if he is not satisfied, according to people familiar with the meeting.

The December conversation between Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, campaign operating officer Michael Glassner and Frank Fahrenkopf, the co-chairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates, came as the president weighed whether to participate in the trio of debates scheduled for this fall and as he attacked the commission on Twitter.
It might also seem familiar because we read a very similar story in the Times a little more than a month ago, also carrying the byline of Haberman and Karni:
Will Trump Debate a Democrat in 2020? He’s Not So Sure.

President Trump is discussing with his advisers the possibility of sitting out the general election debates in 2020 because of his misgivings about the commission that oversees them, according to two people familiar with the discussions.

Mr. Trump has told advisers that he does not trust the Commission on Presidential Debates, the nonprofit entity that sponsors the debates, the two people said.
That story appeared a week before the meeting cited in the current stories.

I'm not sure why we're learning now about a meeting that took place a month ago, and that didn't lead to any conclusions. And I don't know why both the Times and the Post learned the details of this December meeting at exactly the same moment.

But I can guess. Trumpworld wants a news story that's about anything other than Ukraine and impeachment. Trump campaign chief Brad Parscale wants the mainstream media to issue a press relea-- sorry, a news story -- saying that he and Trump are Real Men who aren't going to take any guff from the liberal debate commission (co-chair Fahrenkopf used to be head of the Republican National Committee, but that was pre-Trump, so he's basically a Democrat as far as MAGA Nation is concerned).

As I said last month, I don't believe (as many of you do) that the campaign is looking to find a way to prevent a mentally addled Trump from debating. I maintain that Trump isn't mentally addled -- stupid, yes, and informed by nothing more authoritative than Fox & Friends and Twitter, but not mentally impaired.

Parscale and his crew are just using this occasion to intimidate the debate commission because Trump believes in intimidating every counterparty in every transaction (except when he develops a mancrush, as with Putin or Kim Jong-un), and because it's an occasion for Parscale to say, while beating his chest, "LOOK HOW WE'RE OWNING THE LIBS AGAIN!"

From the Post story:
Parscale complained to Fahrenkopf that so many members of the board of directors were, in his estimation, against the president and that he wanted the commission to choose moderators that were viewed as fair by the president’s team.

According to people familiar with the meeting, Parscale cited at least one past moderator that he deemed as unfair, the people familiar with the meeting said.

“We want to have debates that are fair and are more geared toward informing the American people than to boosting the careers of the moderators,” Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said.

He also reiterated the complaint from the president that the microphone did not work during a 2016 debate to the president’s liking. Glassner merely observed, the people familiar said. Campaigns have raised concerns with the commission before, but officials said it had never happened this early in the process.
He wants to intimidate, and he wants it known that he's doing some intimidating. And the Times and the Post are only too eager to spread the word.


A word of advice: Don't get your hopes up.
If you want to know how President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial could play out, keep your eye on Lamar Alexander.

... Three GOP senators have expressed some level of support for calling witnesses, and if they joined all Democrats, it would result in a 50-50 tie and likely be defeated. Unless Chief Justice John Roberts shocked Washington by wading in with a tie-break, Democrats need one more Republican to break ranks and upend GOP plans for a swift Trump acquittal.

That’s got both parties eagerly eyeing Alexander. He's a retiring defender of the Senate as an institution who's occasionally bucked his party, but he also counts Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as a longtime ally. He's more hesitant to criticize Trump than are some other Republicans, but he also has said it was "inappropriate" for Trump to ask foreign governments to investigate his political opponents.

... Democrats ... are holding out hope that Alexander will be their hero in the mold of the late Sen. John McCain, whose extraordinary vote derailed the GOP’s effort to repeal Obamacare. Though Alexander would never blindside McConnell the way McCain did, he is widely believed to be a Republican who could be receptive to Democrats’ message that the Senate needs to hear more evidence.
But CNN's Manu Raju is right: There won't be a 51-49 vote for witnesses. There will have to be more than 51 senators in favor.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well I can tell you, Chris that it's unlikely that there would just be four Senators who would break ranks, if they were to be enough, a majority vote, because no Republican Senator wants to be vote number 51.

If there is enough support in the Senate to subpoena document, subpoena witnesses, there is more likely going to be 53 or 54 votes. That means there would have to be more than four potentially, in order to move forward, maybe five, maybe six, maybe seven, maybe eight, to do just that.

And, at the moment, that is not in the realm of possibility. That could certainly change.

But talking to Republican Senators, people who are on the fence, people who are in Republican leadership, it is highly unlikely, at the moment that they will vote to subpoena witnesses and documents.

Now, that could change because some Members are still holding their cards pretty close to their vest.

Susan Collins has indicated that she would vote to subpoena most likely witnesses and documents, also Mitt Romney has indicated that he wants to subpoena, talk to John Bolton. Lisa Murkowski suggested an openness to it.

But who is the fourth? Who is the fifth? Who is the sixth Senator? Uncertain and unclear, at the moment.

People look at Lamar Alexander, for one, the Tennessee Republican. I've talked to him many times over the last several weeks, and he's taking it very careful, he's very cautious about it. He's a retiring institutionalist.

But he's also very close to Mitch McConnell. He's been critical of the House process too. And there's lot of skeptics that he would be vote number 51.

So, if you're going by the theory that you need to have about 53 Senators in order to move forward, getting the other two is on - who those other people are is unclear.

Even people like a Cory Gardner, who's up for re-election in Colorado, in a swing state, someone - one of the most vulnerable Republicans in the country, he also needs the President's support in order to win reelection.

CUOMO: Right.

RAJU: He has been very circumspect about saying anything critical about the President so far.

So, a lot of questions about whether the Democrats can succeed because their goal right now....
It's not going to happen.

It was never going to happen. I told you on Sunday that Republican senators would inevitably respond to this trial by announcing that they were shocked, shocked, by the Democrats' behavior:
Much of the Senate GOP, along with the White House and the right-wing media, is about to declare that virtually everything the House managers do is a flagrant violation of law, common sense, and the Constitution. Once this happens, even alleged moderates such as Mitt Romney and Susan Collins will join in the fauxtrage -- and you can forget a successful vote to call witnesses or allow further documentary evidence to be considered. The plan is to say that the behavior of the Democrats was so out of bounds that the only way to conclude the process fairly is a vote to dismiss the charges -- and that will happen.
That's more or less what's going on now. We had this after the first day:
Sen. Susan Collins was “stunned” by Rep. Jerry Nadler’s late-night diatribe this week against what he deemed a “cover-up” by Senate Republicans for President Donald Trump — so much so that she wrote a note to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
And we had this:
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said she was "offended" by House manager Jerry Nadler's comments this week that Republican senators would be involved in a cover-up if they did not agree to call former national security adviser John Bolton to testify in the impeachment trial, one of her aides said Thursday.
And now we have this (admittedly from a non-moderate):

Besides complaints about boredom (“They’ve got about a one-hour presentation that they gave six hours on Tuesday and eight hours yesterday,” Senator Roy Blunt told The New York Times), Republican senators will say that the Democratic case was presented in an offensive manner. The moderates will suggest that they might have voted for witnesses if Democrats had been nicer. So there won't be witnesses.



As I was saying....

Thursday, January 23, 2020


One of my pet peeves is journalism that treats Donald Trump as America's greatest political genius. Yes, he won a campaign nobody thought he could win (including, reportedly, himself) -- but he needed help from James Comey, Vladimir Putin, and a Hillary-hating, email-obsessed mainstream media, and he still lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million. An example of this kind of journalism is a piece posted at Axios this morning:
Mike Bloomberg copies Trump to beat Trump

To beat President Trump, Mike Bloomberg wants to be candidate Trump.

... The big picture: Bloomberg is no Trump, but is trying to beat the president at his own game.
How is Bloomberg trying to be Trump? Here's one of the Axios's examples:
Ubiquity: Trump forced himself into our lives with Twitter taunts and endless TV appearances. Bloomberg is buying his way into the minute-by-minute of our lives with TV ads.
But this isn't Bloomberg imitating Trump. This is Bloomberg imitating himself. He did the same thing in his three mayoral victories. Here's what The New York Times wrote after Bloomberg's first win, in 2001:
Sixty-eight million, nine hundred sixty-eight thousand, one hundred eighty-five dollars.

That's how much Michael R. Bloomberg spent from his personal fortune on the election that made him the mayor of New York City, according to documents his campaign filed yesterday with the city's Board of Elections. It breaks all records for spending in municipal elections by tens of millions of dollars.

It is just $2 million less than Ross Perot spent on his 1992 presidential campaign....

The Bloomberg campaign was the Rolls-Royce of campaigns. It spent more money on television advertisements and mailings in the last two weeks of the campaign than the [Mark] Green campaign spent on the whole race. The filings show that from Oct. 23 on, the Bloomberg campaign spent $8.4 million on television....
In his final mayoral race, in 2009, Bloomberg spent $102 million, "much of it on last-minute television and radio advertising," according to the Times.

What else, Axios?
Slogan power: ... Bloomberg's inner circle thought "Make America Great Again" was an effective slogan. VoilĂ , the Bloomberg slogan: "Mike Will Get It Done." The twist: "It" can mean beating Trump, enacting gun control as president, or whatever the voter imagines.
Newsflash: Donald Trump did not invent the political slogan. Bloomberg's inner circle is right to think that "Make America Great Again" was an effective slogan. But it wasn't the first political slogan in human history. And "Mike Will Get It Done" doesn't sound anything like "Make America Great Again."

What else?
It's all about brand, baby: Bloomberg, like Trump, has set up his campaign so his personal brand shines, win or lose. The former mayor is making plain he will spend up to $2 billion to win himself — or, if he loses, allocate some of that to the Democratic nominee and Bloomberg's pet causes. As a down payment, he's showering money on state and local parties to help them, up and down their tickets, regardless of who wins the primary.
But in 2016, Trump set up his campaign so his personal brand would shine outside electoral politics if he lost. He was going to use the campaign to sell his hotels and golf courses, and maybe a new TV channel. Bloomberg actually seems to want to elect Democrats even if he loses the nomination, because he seems to believe that's good for the country. (If Trump were forced off the ballot, I'm sure he wouldn't give a dime to downballot Republicans.) And on a personal level, Bloomberg and Trump are polar opposites this year: Bloomberg is trying to ingratiate himself with a party he knows is wary of him, while Trump assumes every Republican loves him and it's his prerogative to kick other people out of the party.

I'm not writing this because I'm a big fan of Mike Bloomberg -- I'm not. But it annoys me when all political strategy is described in reference to Trump, as if he's the Lebron James of politicking, based on his (checks notes) one electoral victory, which came with a huge asterisk.


Here's the latest from Martin Longman:
The Republicans Struggle to Keep Their Base in a Bubble

Fox News broadcast the first two hours of the impeachment trial on Wednesday in a normal manner, but after that, they turned off the sound:
Starting with The Five, the network’s early evening roundtable commentary show, and continuing throughout the evening, Fox News broadcast portions of screen-in-screen video of the trial. But instead of playing the audio, network hosts provided the normal Trumpian spin. So while someone who just looked at the screen may have concluded Fox News was covering the trial, in fact it wasn’t covering it at all.
Their post-truth business model couldn’t withstand the House Managers’ methodical destruction of their viewers’ hero, so this is telling but not at all surprising....

Meanwhile, the president was so desperate to distract his base from hearing the truth that he set a personal tweeting record.
As he flew back to Washington on Air Force One, Trump stirred up a veritable Twitter storm as he tweeted and retweeted messages primarily about impeachment, particularly from his Republican defenders—a barrage that marked the most tweets of any day of his presidency, with 142 as of 10 p.m., according to, a website that tracks Trump’s tweets and speeches.
Fox and the president want Americans to pay attention to anything other than the trial itself. At the same time, Republicans, as Greg Sargent notes, are determined to keep heretofore unrevealed truths from being exposed in the trial.
At one point [yesterday], [Adam] Schiff, the California Democrat who is leading the team of House impeachment managers, asked GOP senators a question.

“The truth is going to come out,” Schiff said. “The only question is: Do you want to hear it now? Do you want to know the full truth now?”

... The truth, plainly, is that ... the fact that the votes on evidence and acquittal will come before any future revelations is a feature of doing it this way.

That’s because a vote for acquittal (which, again, is inevitable) before more damning revelations are unearthed is politically less costly than a vote for acquittal after any such revelations.
But is it? Would it really be more politically costly for Republicans to acquit if they had to do it following the disclosure of more information damaging to the president?

After all, Republican voters either don't believe that Trump is a criminal or believe he is one and don't care.
Seven in 10 Americans believe Donald Trump has definitely or probably done unethical things during his time in office or while he was running for president. And 63 percent think Trump has definitely or probably done things that are illegal. But only 51 percent believe the outcome of the Senate impeachment trial should be the president’s removal from office.

Those numbers come from a new in-depth survey by the Pew Research Center of 12,638 U.S. adults that was conducted from Jan. 6 to 19.

... 32 percent of Republicans say they think Trump has definitely or probably done things that broke the law....

But, but, but: Among the 1 in 3 Republicans who think Trump has likely done illegal things, 59 percent say he should remain in office. Another 38 percent say he should be removed.
So despite all the evidence we have so far, 68% of Republicans won't acknowledge that Trump has committed crimes -- and a majority of the remaining 32% believe he should remain president even though they think he has committed crimes.

So why are Fox and Trump even bothering to provide distractions from the presentation of evidence against Trump by House Democrats? Why the rejection of witnesses against the president? It seems likely that if GOP voters had been paying attention to the impeachment trial, or if more evidence were to emerge in the trial, those rank-and-file Republicans would be as unmoved as they are now.

But D.C. Republicans are clearly concerned. What this tells me is that they're less confident about Trump's reelection prospects than many Democrats are.

Ask a Democrat about 2020, and you'll be told: Yeah, Trump is unpopular, but Democratic voters will never unify, and there'll be voter suppression and Russian shenanigans. Even though the Democrat will probably beat Trump in the popular vote, Trump will likely get another Electoral College win.

Republicans clearly don't agree. It's obvious that even the most shocking revelation about Trump's Ukraine scandal will have only a minimal effect on his popularity among his base -- but Republicans aren't confident that he can spare very many defections. They probably also believe that Democrats could run the table and take the Senate if Trump is further discredited.

Personally, I believe that poll numbers would barely budge even if a smoking-gun audiotape were released in which a lawyer told Trump, "You can't put a freeze on the aid, Mr. President, because it's illegal," and Trump replied, "I don't care if it's illegal -- freeze the aid unless the Ukrainians help me take down Biden before the election." But Republicans apparently disagree.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020


According to a post on his website, Michael Savage, that well-known lover of humanity, is deeply concerned that impeachment is making people hate Jews.
There is vile anti-Semitism surrounding the impeachment proceeding and it is being riled up by anti-Semites in this country because of the Jewish names affiliated with it. Schiff, Nadler, Zelensky, Goldman... the list goes on.
So all the anti-Semites were chill until Jews started making trouble for Trump? If I don't know better, it would seem to me that Savage, the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, was blaming a certain group of Jews for the hatred directed at them. But he's a morally upright conservative, so he couldn't possibly be saying that, right?

Go on, Michael.
But this is not about the Jewish people. It is not about religion, but politics, and the like-minded groups working in unison.

We know about the deep state and those in the FBI and CIA who plotted against this president. Why? Because Trump dared to speak up and expose the new world order and those in our government trying to impose their will on our nation. For his honesty, the deep state actors will stop at nothing to undermine and overthrow President Trump.
Oh, okay -- the villains are the folks in the "deep state." So this is crypto-anti-Semitism disguised as a critique of actual anti-Semitism.
Many have noted how the attacks on Trump are similar to the Salem Witch Trials, and McCarthyism, but it bears a resemblance to another historical event. The crucifixion of Jesus.
Yeah, he went there.
... they were both falsely accused by those in power and turned over to a deep state to do their will. Today, the far reach of the Romans has been replaced by the new world order....

According to the gospel of Luke, Jesus is tried and condemned by the Sanhedrin, although not all members of the Sanhedrin were there and only Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus dissented from this decision.

Could we reason that their actions were similar to Adam Schiff’s star chamber where only a few were allowed to attend?
I'm struggling to remember the passage in the Gospels where dozens of members of the Sanhedrin were permitted to attend the trial of Jesus but pretended they weren't, then broke in and ordered pizza. Maybe I'm reading the wrong translation.
But we must not forget who first pushed for impeachment. Nancy Pelosi, a non-Jew who was using Jews to do her dirty work.
Yes, Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler seem so reluctant to impeach Trump. Nancy forced them at gunpoint so Jews would be blamed!
Ultimately, Jesus was turned over to the Romans for crucifixion. The Romans were the deep state of the time. Pontius Pilate found no basis for this crucifixion, much like Bob Mueller found no collusion, but the deep state wanted their blood....

The Democrats and the deep state want to crucify Trump without a shred of evidence. This is history repeating itself....
It really is amazing that Savage is comparing Donald Trump to Jesus.
... I am not comparing Donald Trump to Jesus. Trump fights back, because there is no father for him to turn to. He knows the truth and fights against those trying to hide it. While Jesus fought for the souls of man, Trump is fighting for the basic rights of man under our Constitution, and for this he is vilified in much the same way as Jesus.
And Savage means this in a totally non-comparison kind of way.
And like the Romans of this time, a deep state is using Jews to conduct their deeds, knowing that they will be the ones to suffer the consequences. They will cause a rise in anti-Semitism, which is of no concern to the deep state actors. For the deep state, their only concern is preserving their way of life and trying to impose it on you. Whoever gets hurt in the process makes no difference as long as they are in control.
This is philo-Semitism for anti-Semites. The American right is really good at this sort of thing: creating propaganda that's ostensibly anti-anti-Semitic while it also spreads coded or uncoded anti-Semitic tropes.

I'll remind you that while he's somewhat past his peak, last year Michael Savage was named the second-most influential streaming talk show host by Talk Stream Live, just behind Rush Limbaugh and ahead of Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, Alex Jones, Glenn Beck, and Dennis Prager. In 2017, Talkers Magazine reported that he had 7.5 million weekly listeners; he claims 10 million. There's a big audience for this crap.


We're all having a good laugh watching President Trump's conversation with CNBC's Joe Kernen in Davos:

But at the very end of that clip, watch Trump turn from a doddering old man into a Mafia don. Trump is talking about Elon Musk:
He’s going to be building a very big plant in the United States. He has to, because we help him, so he has to help us.
This is a threat. Maybe it's an empty threat, but it's meant as intimidation.

At, Fred Lambert notes that Musk appears to have no such plans:
Today, Donald Trump commented on Elon Musk and Tesla’s recent success on the stock market, and the US president ended his comments by saying that Tesla is going to “build a very big plant in the US.”

What is he talking about?

... Tesla recently started production at Gigafactory 3 in Shanghai, Tesla’s first vehicle factory outside the US, and also recently announced Gigafactory 4 in Germany.

... As far as his comment about a Tesla factory, I don’t think he knows anything we don’t, but he might be right.

Elon has talked about Tesla building another factory in the US on a few occasions before. He even specifically mentioned a tri-state area at one point.
But that was in 2017:

As for the "we help him" part, Lambert is puzzled:
... I don’t know what Trump means by helping them. I assume he means subsidies that Tesla received over the years, but as we previously reported, this was only a fraction of the subsidies that fossil-fuel companies have received from the US government over the years.

Also, Trump apparently recently intervened to stop the EV tax credit reform, which would have made it a lot fairer to early proponents of electrification like Tesla.

Therefore, he hasn’t been helping Tesla much lately.
Trump's just trying to strong-arm Musk, the way he tries to strong-arm trading partners or NATO allies or Amazon or AT&T. He may be your embarrassing old granddad who doesn't seem to know what century it is, but he's still a thug at heart.