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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Those rally goers were just blowing off steam

by digby

Rush on "send her back"

We know that they are targeting us. We know that they are taking political action against us. This stuff gets stored, there is no outlet for it, and then Trump’s rally happens last night, mentions Omar in context with everything that’s been happening here. It’s clear as a bell that Omar has got big problems with this country as founded. So do the rest of the members of The Squad. And let’s not forget the tie-in to illegal immigration, which I think also has a relationship to “send her back.”

I don’t think “send her back” is about one person or about one thing. I think it’s a culmination of many things resulting from a boiling over frustration. It is an overall expression of anger about the lack of enforcement of the morality and of the law and of the rules that preserve this country as founded.

The American people did what they could in 2016. They elected somebody that was gonna stop it. He has been opposed and thwarted at every move he’s made to try to keep his campaign promise, to stop this massive invasion of illegal immigrants into the country. He has been thwarted. You can understand frustration over this building and building and building.

All the while, the people who support this are being portrayed as the enemies of America, and they’re racists, and they’re bigots, and they’re homophobes. And people have been subjected to these insults now for years and years and years. And they’re tired of it. So here comes an outlet to express the frustration.

“Lock her up,” Hillary Clinton. She commits violations of the law, for crying out loud! She is exonerated, she gets away from them. People are fed up with this. They’re fed up with the two-tier justice system. She can do an illegal server. She can traffic in classified documents. She can have a pay-for-play, phony foundation where she’s accepting essentially bribes from foreign actors on the come, assuming she’s gonna be president. And the FBI and James Comey exonerate her after having a meeting with her husband on an airplane on a tarmac in Phoenix!

You think people are not fed up over all of this? And it’s just one thing after another that adds up! And it keeps adding up. And then you add to the fact that there’s no Republican stand up opposition to any of this! No! We get the Never Trumpers and the resigned members of the House blaming Trump supporters for this stuff! Blaming Trump supporters for lack of civility while it’s Sarah Huckabee Sanders being forcibly kicked out of a restaurant or any other number of Republicans.

We’re supposedly engaging in incivility? We’re minding our own business, we’re going about our lives, we end up being targeted. They try to ruin some of us. They try to damage some of us. They do anything they can, including taking physical action against us, and we’re supposed to sit there and be well-mannered. That will triumph in the long haul with the American people who will understand that we’re the ones who are civil.

In other words: Whaaaaaa!!!

This isn't the first time we've heard "send them back"

by digby

Trump made it clear during his 2016 campaign that he planned to deport millions back to Mexico and other countries south of the border. But he didn't stop there:

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Wednesday that he would send Syrian refugees "back" if he were elected to the White House.

In New Hampshire for the first time since he failed to correct a man's rant about President Barack Obama being a Muslim, Trump was greeted by a few thousand cheering fans — and he was fired up.

Trump outlined the specifics of his new tax plan. But in typical Trump fashion, he didn’t stop there.

On the topic of Syrian refugees, Trump was forceful: "I'm putting people on notice that are coming here from Syria as part of this mass migration, that if I win, they're going back!”

He explained: “They could be ISIS …This could be one of the great tactical ploys of all time. A 200,000-man army maybe, or if you said 50,000 or 80,000 or 100,000, we got problems and that could be possible. I don't know that it is, but it could be possible so they’re going back — they’re going back.”

This was big part of his pitch in the early days:
After two days of confusion over whether or not Donald Trump wants to set up a database of Muslims living in the United States, the candidate explained his stance during a political rally on Saturday morning.

"I will absolutely take database on the people coming in from Syria," Trump said, adding that such a database would not be needed in a Trump administration, as he would kick all Syrian refugees out of the country, regardless of their religion, and allow no more to enter. "If I win, they're going back. They're going back. We can't have them."

Trump called for heavy surveillance of Syrians, Muslims and anyone with possible ties to the Islamic State. He urged the audience members to be vigilant and report anything suspicious they see to the police.

"I want surveillance of certain mosques, okay? If that's okay?" Trump said, as thousands of people in the audience cheered. "I want surveillance. And you know what? We've had it before, and we'll have it again."

His followers cheered that then and they cheer him now. The fact that he didn't actually do it is meaningless. They just want to make sure that all immigrants of color know that they are not "real Americans" and that this president will make sure they never, ever think they are. It makes them feel good. It makes them feel powerful. It makes them feel relieved that their ugly bigotry is actually ok.

QOTD: Lindsey Graham

by digby

Hey, he never says racist remarks about white people or people of color who are good boys and girls and bow down and reassure him that he's not a racist.

So --- he's not a racist.

Look what we've become: "Sofi's Choice"

by digby

Scarce at Crooks and Liars:

Sophie's Choice :
Sophie’s Choice is the title of a 1979 novel by William Styron, and in 1982 Sophie’s Choice was made into a critically acclaimed film starring Meryl Streep. In the novel, which is set during World War II, the title character must choose between the lives of her two children while imprisoned in the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz.
In this case, a three-year-old Honduran girl was asked to choose which of her parents could stay with her, while the other was sent away. The dark irony of what they were asking of the three-year-old who they called "Sofi" apparently didn't register with the border agents who were "just doing their job" [sic].

NPR reported this case:

At a Border Patrol holding facility in El Paso, Texas, an agent told a Honduran family that one parent would be sent to Mexico while the other parent and their three children could stay in the United States, according to the family. The agent turned to the couple's youngest daughter — 3-year-old Sofia, whom they call Sofi — and asked her to make a choice.

"The agent asked her who she wanted to go with, mom or dad," her mother, Tania, told NPR through an interpreter. "And the girl, because she is more attached to me, she said mom. But when they started to take [my husband] away, the girl started to cry. The officer said, 'You said [you want to go] with mom.' "

Tania and her husband, Joseph, said they spent parts of two days last week trying to prevent the Border Patrol from separating their family. They were aided by a doctor who had examined Sofi and pleaded with agents not to separate the family, Joseph and Tania said. [NPR is not using migrants' last names in this story because these are people who are in the middle of immigration proceedings.]

Three. Years. Old.

I might doubt this story except for the fact that we are routinely dragging toddlers before judges who ask them if they understand their rights etc.

Because our system is both cruel and insane...

Female GOP officials should be identified for the hacks they are

by digby

The media needs to stop doing this:

CNN hosted a panel of Republican women this week, who defended President Donald Trump’s recent attacks against several progressive lawmakers of color, but the network failed to disclose all eight of the guests are part of an organized pro-Trump club.

The eight women, who came on the network shortly after CNN gave a platform to white supremacist Richard Spencer to discuss Trump’s racism, are all members of a group they call “Trumpettes of America 2019 Palm Beach Team.” Instead of informing their audience that these women are all dedicated, pro-Trump partisans, CNN correspondent Randi Kaye introduced the panelists using the innocuous label, “Republican women from Dallas.”

Cooper did refer to the women as part of “the president’s base,” but the on-screen description of the panelists simply read, “Republican.”

Unsurprisingly, not a single one of the women took issue with Trump telling Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley to go back to the countries they “originally” came from. Three of those lawmakers were born in the United States — Omar came to the U.S. as a teenaged refugee and became a citizen.

“He was saying that if they hate America so much — because what we’re seeing out of them and hearing out of them, they hate America,” one of the pro-Trump women said, before claiming the lawmakers are “racist” because they “don’t like white people.”

Another panelist said they are “glad that the president” told the lawmakers to “go back” to their countries. A third woman described the lawmakers of color as “American now, so to speak,” but insisted “they are not acting American.”

“We know the president is not racist,” chimed in another Trumpette. “He loves people from Hispanics to black people, all across the board.”

As for activism that the Trumpettes actually conduct on behalf of the president, the group held a Pennsylvania rally on the same day that the CNN segment aired which featured some of the most notable women Trump supporters, including the president’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump, Trump 2020 senior advisor Katrina Pierson, ex-Fox News host and Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, and pro-Trump viral sensations Diamond & Silk.

During the Tuesday night rally, Lara Trump repeated nearly the same talking points as the CNN panelists when asked about the president’s racist tweets.

“I know Donald Trump. He’s not a racist,” she told Vice News reporter Elizabeth Landers. “It’s a talking point that is always used against any Republican especially this president, and it’s sad to see that that is the only thing that people ever have to throw at any Republican racist, sexist.”

Eric's wife Lara is smarter than your average Trump. And she's got a very, very casual relationship to the truth...

This is not the first time the media has done this over the last few years. and it's a bad habit. They interview "Trump voters" which is technically true, but it turns out that they a political players not average citizens. So they end up promoting the party's talking points as if they are the real views of everyday citizens. It is, to say the least, misleading.

I suspect they do this because they depend upon the party to help them gather these people. Big mistake. The party is dishonest.


Trump has "reprogrammed" their minds

by digby

Trump's followers automatically know what to say:

We now have a new gross Trump rally crowd chant to replace “Lock Her Up!”

During President Trump’s Wednesday night rally in Greenville, North Carolina, he took aim at Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), one of the Democratic congresswomen of color he told to “go back” to where “they came” from.

“Omar has a history of launching vicious anti-Semitic screeds,” the president said.

The MAGA crowd knew just what to do next.

“Send her back! Send her back! Send her back,” the audience chanted as Trump soaked it in for a few moments.

Omar is a United States citizen. She moved from Somalia as a child and gained her citizenship as a teenager.

Maybe someone from the campaign prompted this unamerican bilge but I doubt it.

They are a cult. They know what to do.

Let's just hope there weren't any more cultists like his:

The Florida man who pleaded guilty to mailing explosive devices said in a letter to a federal judge that attending a rally for President Donald Trump "became like a new found drug."

Cesar Sayoc has admitted to sending pipe bombs to CNN, and various Democratic officials and donors. He pleaded guilty last month to 65 felony counts, including using weapons of mass destruction in an attempted domestic terrorist attack.

In the handwritten letter filed Tuesday in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, he told a judge that "the first thing you here (sic) entering Trump rally is we are not going to take it anymore, the forgotten ones, etc."

At those events, he said, he came into contact with all kinds of people. "You met people from all walks life ... color etc," he wrote. "It was fun, it became like a new found drug."

He also wrote that Trump's self-help CDs reprogrammed his mind, and detailed the negative reaction he got for the Trump stickers on his car, including having his tires slashed and windows broken.

Luckily, he was incompetent. But they all won't be.

He is inciting these people.

Update: He said this morning that he "disagreed with it" and tried to stop the chant.

Uhm. No he did not.



In Trump’s world apologies are for losers 

by Spocko

Charles M. Blow wrote a column about Labor Secretary Acosta's press conference on Wednesday July 10th. Trump Detests Apologetic Men On Friday, July 12th Acosta resigned.

A lot of people who wrote about the press conference said the same thing, "Acosta was doing it for an audience of one." meaning Donald Trump.
Blow correctly pointed out how Trump likes his underlings to respond to attacks.
In Trump’s orbit you must ape the behavior of the boss: strongly deny and strenuously deflect. And, if possible, personally attack the person making the accusation. That is the Trump way. That is what he has always done.
This is not just Blow's analysis, it's based on quotes from others who talked to Trump about it.
According to Bob Woodward last year, Trump talked about a “friend who had acknowledged some bad behavior toward women.” When counseling that friend on how to respond, Trump said, “You’ve got to deny, deny, deny and push back on these women.” Trump continued: “If you admit to anything and any culpability, then you’re dead. That was a big mistake you made.”
In Trump’s world, apologies and punishments are for the weak. They are for losers.
People in the media know that Trump coaches people who are caught in a bad situation to deny, deny, deny.  The reporters and producers see it happen again and again when someone is pushed out.  It doesn't take a time traveler like me to figure out that Trump is going to demand it for the next official under fire.

The next person to be pushed out might be Wilbur Ross. "Trump weighs ousting Commerce chief Wilbur Ross after census defeat"
Watch your back Wilbur! (Getty Images)
The media are so busy covering new atrocities they don't have time to see the patterns and use them to expose the White House's tricks. So here is some analysis from Ol' blogger Spocko.

Dear media: Prepare for Trump's denial method. 

I watched the entire Acosta press conference. He used multiple methods to stop or curtail certain lines of questioning. For example:

 1) He attacked one small mistake in reporting to cast doubt on all reporting.

2) He talked about conversations that others could not challenge because they weren't public and couldn't be verified.

3) He offered excuses that were laughable and referenced actions taken by people who weren't there to challenge his characterizations of their actions.

Obvious advice for the media confronting non-apologetic men

1) Read the documents that are public. Court douments about Wilber Ross's census case do exist.

2) Talk to the experts BEFORE the PRESS CONFERENCE and prep them with the likely answers that the ousted cabinet member will give.

3) Prepare for their 2nd and 3rd level excuses with your follow up questions that show the world just how ridiculous they are.

4) Bust Trump underlings in REAL TIME. This is a skill we mostly see from foreign press these days, but it is possible. Here is how to make it happen.
   a)  Work with OTHER reporters to ask follow ups that you can't that
   b)  Use Google during the press conference to find answers and pull up documents that dispute comments made by the ousted cabinet member.

   c) When the ousted cabinet member says, "I don't have the documents in front of me, I can't comment." say, 'Okay, I'll email them to you and we can talk about them tomorrow."

Watch me put a rabbit out of my hat, nothing up my sleeve! Presto! AlexWong / GETTY IMAGES
These all seem obvious, but people who don't know how press conferences work might not appreciate how stacked the format can be against the media, especially facing a well trained politician and their staff.

The press conference format isn't great for the media for a couple of reasons. The presenter is prepared for combat vs actually sharing information. They have their guard up and canned answers ready for tough and "gotchca" questions.  The media need to go to plan B:

Plan B: Set up one-on-one interviews with ousted cabinet members

Remember Trump's terrible Stephanopoulos interview? During one-on-one interviews Trump ignores the carefully crafted answers made for him.

Trump was supposed to tell Lester Holt he fired Comey, because "Comey did a bad job on the Clinton investigation." Instead he blurted out he did it because of the Russia investigation. This comment helped solidify his true intent.   Let's make more of these blurts happen!

Some cabinet members are better at one-on-one's than Trump. But even successful one-on-one interviews can piss off Trump if he doesn't like the way the cabinet member handled it. And then Trump will want to correct the record. That involves him revealing his true answer or intent either in a tweet or softball interview with Fox and Friends where he complains about his underling's answer.

Hot Tip: Set up situations where Trump is compelled to replace well crafted answers with whatever he thinks the answer should be

Now let's say the media follow my advice and get one-on-one interviews with Wilbur Ross. Let's say their research opens up new lines of questions. Now Ross is testifying before congress, UNDER OATH.Whoo. Hooo!

Like the media, the Democrats in congress are busy holding hearings over new atrocities every day. They also don't have time to see the patterns and use them to expose the White House's tricks. So here is some analysis of congressional hearings from Ol' Spocko.

Dear Congress: Prepare for hostile witness testimony

I remember watching the Kavanaugh hearings. He came out of the gate filled with anger and belligerence. He denied and attacked. He was coached to do that.

This worked for "the audience of one"  And it worked on some of the people questioning him. They weren't prepared for his ridiculous answers and lame excuses. "I like beer!"

So if we know Trump's people are told to go into denial mode with ridiculous answers and easily disproved reasons, what should we do with that information?

Prepare for crazy denial testimony

People testifying under oath before congress always prepare for lawyerly questions. They can't lie to them like the press, so they are more careful. We saw the hair splitting word choices during Harris's questioning of Barr. Everyone on the left liked that because Harris anticipated Barr's response and shut down his nonsense.

But I also suggest Congress think like a casting director. What questions will lead an actor to fail their audition for an audience of one? 

Help Trump appointees fail in front of the President. 
Trump threatened to eat Acosta unless he resigned. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Congress staffers need to ask open ended softball question that normal humans would answer rationally. Then prepare for the crazy responses Trump expects to hear.

Wilbur Ross will be coached to deny, deny deny on the census citizenship questions. Let a lawyer ask legal process questions. I suggest we find a story from Ross's past where he acted like a human, maybe even a human Democrat!   Bring up a time he showed integrity, empathy or compassion toward people of color or immigrants.  (It could have happened!)

Ross might think he is getting a life-line from the congressperson. But as Admiral Akbar says, "It's a trap!"

Democrats want to believe people are good and can be rehabilitated, even at this late date, even with all the evidence. That's one of the things that makes us better than them. However, when Ross is offered redemption and acknowledgement of his humanity in the past, and doesn't take it, we have no compunction when crushing him.

"We gave him a chance. He blew it. Now he goes to jail."

Democratic Congresspeople need to understand the theater of the hearings.

Ask questions that will elicit answers that will enrage the audience of one.  

Ask questions that will piss off Trump's base, not just questions that will piss off normal humans. 

What if Ross apologizes for his actions?  That would be interesting. The media might be quick to rehabilitate him, since they are hungering for any Republican to repudiate the President. Even the losers get lucky sometimes. But it would kill him on most of the voting right AND the left. Sorry Wilbur.


Helluva distraction

by Tom Sullivan

Professional trolls duped Fox News into believing these armbands were real. As early as March 2016, it was an easy prank to pull off.

Wednesday night's Trump rally in Nuremberg, NC — Greenville, sorry — poses an uncomfortable choice: whether to add oxygen to pyre the acting president is making of the American experiment or to examine what one suspects is his proximate motive for taking a rhetorical flamethrower to it.

Since the bulk of posts this morning will focus on Trump adopting "SEND THEM BACK" as his 2020 campaign theme, let's look instead at the timing.

"The trip to Greenville was initially expected to coincide with special counsel Robert Mueller's long-awaited testimony before the House Judiciary and House Intelligence Committees," WRAL reported. With Mueller's appearance delayed until July 24, Trump pivoted to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Mich.) and The Squad as his weapons of mass distraction. When Trump condemned the American legislator born in Somalia, the crowd eagerly chanted, “Send her back! Send her back!” The power of it must have given him a thrill up his leg.

But the weekend tweets that began this chapter in one small-handed man's search for a balcony served a purpose not connected to Robert Mueller. Trump needs to shift national focus from the metastasizing Jeffrey Epstein scandal.

When NBC broadcast a 1992 tape Wednesday morning showing Epstein ogling cheerleaders with Trump at a Mar-a-Lago party, Trump's efforts to distance himself from Epstein's alleged underage sex trafficking took a direct hit. Trump faced sketchy charges of raping a raping a 13-year-old girl at an Epstein "orgy" in 1994. The lawsuit brought by “Katie Johnson” (a pseudonym) and dropped just before the 2016 election may get a new look now that more than 50 Epstein victims are surfacing with witnesses to back up their stories.

Vanity Fair'[s Gabriel Sherman writes "a wave of panic is rippling through Manhattan, DC, and Palm Beach" among Epstein's former friends and associates:

Likely within days, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit will release almost 2,000 pages of documents that could reveal sexual abuse by “numerous prominent American politicians, powerful business executives, foreign presidents, a well-known prime minister, and other world leaders,” according to the three-judge panel's ruling. The documents were filed during a civil defamation lawsuit brought by Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre, a former Mar-a-Lago locker-room attendant, against Epstein’s former girlfriend and alleged madam, Ghislaine Maxwell. “Nobody who was around Epstein a lot is going to have an easy time now. It’s all going to come out,” said Giuffre’s lawyer David Boies. Another person involved with litigation against Epstein told me: “It’s going to be staggering, the amount of names. It’s going to be contagion numbers.”
Courtney Wild is an Epstein accuser who gave testimony at his bail hearing. Her attorney told a Tuesday press conference Epstein appears to have spent all his time abusing underage girls. “We have not found anyone who has provided information about a legitimate business he was engaged [in].”

The source of Epstein's fortune is the subject of speculation. As is his purpose for keeping "a pile of cash," a stash of loose diamonds, and a fake foreign passport in a safe in his apartment. Epstein used the passport's phony identity "to enter France, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Saudi Arabia in the 1990s."

Few on Wall Street believe Epstein is a financier as he poses. Sherman explains, "the reigning theory on Wall Street currently is that Epstein’s activities with women and girls were central to the building of his fortune, and his relations with some of his investors essentially amounted to blackmail."

Now, who among Epstein's acquaintances might be easier than most to blackmail?

That, Kathleen Parker suggests, is "the Something Else" Trump doesn't want us to see. So now it's don't look over here, look over there: non-white women from "other" countries who don't like me.

With Epstein facing trial without bail and life in prison, with more than 50 women threatening to tell all under oath, watch closely for signs of Department of Justice shenanigans aimed at shielding the acting president and his powerful friends either by somehow quashing the investigation or by delaying it until after the 2020 election. Epstein-Barr could take on new meaning.

In a place Trump cultists keep well hidden, there may yet be a vestigial organ of conscience to go with their Christian affectations. But after last night's rally, don't expect the Epstein scandal to awaken it.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

RIP Justice John Paul Stevens

by digby

He was a true gentleman and a scholar:

Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who served the bench between 1975 and 2010 and died on Tuesday at age 99, was known for playing a major role during a crucial era for the Court and his evolving legal views.

Described by The New York Times as a "low-key Republican" who became an "ardent champion" of the court's liberal wing, Stevens wrote the majority opinions in major cases, including one that prevented military commissions from conducting trials for Guantánamo detainees and another declaring that the Constitution does not permit executing the mentally disabled.

But the bow tie-wearing justice wasn't held in high regard for his jurisprudence alone. Stevens was also reportedly known around the court for being a nice guy, treating others "with sensitivity and respect," the Times reports.

One former law clark, Christopher Eisgruber, wrote in a 1993 essay about Stevens' actions during a party for new law clerks. An older male justice instructed one of the few female clerks present at the party to serve coffee before Stevens arrived. When he got there, Stevens walked up to the young clerk and thanked her for serving the coffee. Then he made her stop. "I think it's my turn now," he said before taking over the job.

It's tempting to say that we will not see his like again, but I just don't want to think that. I hope his example will be seen by young lawyers as an inspiration.

I wrote a while back about Stevens' position on guns:

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Repeal and rewrite the 2nd Amendment

by digby

Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has written a NYT op-ed suggesting that since the high court decided back in 2008 to define the 2nd Amendment as an individual right maybe the best way to deal with guns is to repeal the 2nd Amendment. Taking that absurd argument away from the gun proliferation zealots so the nation can have some common sense regulations  would be a good first step.

I wrote about that ruling and Stevens' theories about it a while back for Salon:

In the wake of the horrific Isla Vista, California, mass killing, Americans have once again engaged the debate over gun proliferation. Victims' families issue primal cries for regulation of these deadly weapons and gun activists respond by waving the Constitution and declaring their "fundamental right" to bear arms is sacrosanct. Indeed, such right-wing luminaries as Joe the plumber, who not long ago shared the stage with the Republican nominees for president and vice president, said explicitly:
"Your dead kids don’t trump my constitutional rights."
Iowa Republican Senate candidate Jodi Ernst, known for her violent campaign ads in which she is seen shooting guns and promising to "unload" on Obamacare, had this to say when asked about Isla Vista:
"This unfortunate accident happened after the ad, but it does highlight that I want to get rid of, repeal, and replace [opponent] Bruce Braley’s Obamacare. And it also shows that I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. That is a fundamental right."
This argument is set forth by gun proliferation advocates as if it has been understood this way from the beginning of the republic. Indeed, "fundamental right to bear arms" is often spat at gun regulation advocates as if they have heard it from the mouths of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson themselves. But what none of them seem to acknowledge (or, more likely, know) is that this particular legal interpretation of the Second Amendment was validated by the Supreme Court all the way back in ... 2008. That's right. It was only six years ago that the Supreme Court ruled (in a 5-4 decision with the conservatives in the majority, naturally) that there was a "right to bear arms" as these people insist has been true for over two centuries. And even then it isn't nearly as expansive as these folks like to pretend.

For instance, that gun-grabbing hippie Justice Antonin Scalia went out of his way in that decision to say that beyond the holding of handguns in the home for self-defense, regulations of firearms remained the purview of the state and so too was conduct. He wrote that regulating the use of concealed weapons or barring the use of weapons in certain places or restricting commercial use are permitted. That's Antonin Scalia, well known to be at the far-right end of the legal spectrum on this issue. Most judges had always had a much more limited interpretation of the amendment.

Justice John Paul Stephens discussed his long experience with Second Amendment jurisprudence in his book “Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution," and notes that when he came on the Supreme Court there was literally no debate among the justices, conservative or liberal, over the idea that the Second Amendment constituted a "fundamental right" to bear arms. Precedents going all the way back to the beginning of the republic had held that the state had an interest in regulating weapons and never once in all its years had declared a "fundamental right" in this regard.

So, what happened? Well, the NRA happened. Or more specifically, a change in leadership in the NRA happened. After all, the NRA had long been a benign sportsman's organization devoted to hunting and gun safety. It wasn't until 1977, that a group of radicals led by activists from the Second Amendment Foundation and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms took control and changed the direction of the group to one dedicated to making the Second Amendment into a "fundamental right."

What had been a fringe ideology was then systematically mainstreamed by the NRA, a program that prompted the retired arch conservative Chief Justice Warren Burger to say that the Second Amendment:
"Has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word ‘fraud,’ on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime"
The results are clear to see. Mass shootings are just the tip of the iceberg. Today we have people brandishing guns in public, daring people to try to stop them in the wake of new laws legalizing open carry law even in churches, bars and schools. People "bearing arms" show up at political events, silently intimidating their opponents, making it a physical risk to express one's opinion in public. They are shooting people with impunity under loose "stand your ground" and "castle doctrine" legal theories, which essentially allow gun owners to kill people solely on the ground that they "felt threatened." Gun accidents are epidemic. And this, the gun proliferation activists insist, is "liberty."

Michael Waldman of the Brennan Center for Justice (at NYU School of Law) has thoroughly documented all this history in his book, "The Second Amendment: A Biography," a bit of which was excerpted in Politico magazine. He recommends that progressives who care about this issue think long and hard about how the right was able to turn this around, making a specific case for taking constitutional arguments seriously and using their "totemic" stature to advance the cause. He suggests that they adopt a similarly systematic approach, keeping this foremost in mind:
Molding public opinion is the most important factor. Abraham Lincoln, debating slavery, said in 1858, “Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed. Consequently he who molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions. He makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to be executed.” The triumph of gun rights reminds us today: If you want to win in the court of law, first win in the court of public opinion.
In his book, Justice John Paul Stevens suggest a modest tweak to the Second Amendment to finally make clear what the founders obviously intended:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed.”
Emotional claims that the right to possess deadly weapons is so important that it is protected by the federal Constitution distort intelligent debate about the wisdom of particular aspects of proposed legislation designed to minimize the slaughter caused by the prevalence of guns in private hands. Those emotional arguments would be nullified by the adoption of my proposed amendment. The amendment certainly would not silence the powerful voice of the gun lobby; it would merely eliminate its ability to advance one mistaken argument.

This is important. As Waldman notes, where the NRA Headquarters once featured words about safety on the facade of its building, it is now festooned with the words of the Second amendment. Well, some of them anyway:
Visitors might not notice that the text is incomplete. It reads: “.. the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
The first half—the part about the well regulated militia—has been edited out.

If they truly believed the 2nd Amendment was absolute and totally clear, you'd think they'd show all the language, wouldn't you? One can only conclude that they are trying to hide something: its real meaning.
His dissent in Bush vs Gore will be seen as historic. He called them out for their partisanship and degradation of the judiciary. Which is certainly was.

He will be missed.

A Mueller Report anyone can read, even your congressional representative

by digby

Summary of the Mueller Report, for those too busy to read it all

An abridged version of the Mueller Report intended for those who don't have the time to read the nearly 500-page full report. This version, which is a fourth of the length, focuses on the question of whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice in his efforts to impede and discredit the Special Counsel's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and whether the Trump Campaign colluded with the Russians to tip the election in Trump's favor. The abridgment uses the exact words of the Mueller Report to tell the investigative story of Michael Flynn's connections to the Russians, Trump's firing of FBI director James Comey, Trump's attempt to get Attorney General Jeff Sessions to unrecuse himself and then firing him when he refused, Trump's effort to fire the Special Counsel and to get White House Counsel Don McGahn to publicly deny that such an effort was made, Trump's attempt to prevent disclosure of the emails relating to the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Russians and senior officials of the Trump campaign, Michael Cohen's exchanges during the 2016 campaign with Russians about building a Trump Tower in Moscow and Trump's repeated statement during the campaign that he had no business dealings with the Russians, Trump's response to Paul Manafort's indictment and conviction, and more.

The abridged version includes an introduction by Thomas E. Patterson, who is the Bradlee Professor of Government & the Press at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. The introduction explains why it is important for Americans to read the Mueller Report and describes the rules that guided the abridgment of the full Mueller Report. The introduction does not offer a conclusion on the obstruction-of-justice issue but instead places that judgment in the hands of the reader.

I think it's very, very important for people to understand the full scope of what Mueller found. I once thought that perhaps the Democrats would hold hearings that explore the report in depth in such a way that no one could be persuaded that Trump didn't betray the country and abuse his power by covering it up. But that doesn't seem to be happening so every citizen must take the responsibility themselves.This is one way for busy people to do it without having to invest a lot of time reading the long report. It's worth it.

We can see the 2020 battleground laid out before us

by digby

A little bit of perspective on the election from Ron Brownstein:
Trump's victory in 2016, and his consistent support in polls from about 40-45% of the population, shows there is a significant audience for his hard-edged message on immigration and demographic change more broadly. But there is also a clear cost. In effect, Trump's bruising racially-infused nationalism is forcing the GOP to trade support among younger voters for older ones; secular voters for the most religiously conservative, especially evangelical Christians; diverse voters for whites; white collar whites for blue-collar whites; and metro areas for non-metro areas. Since Trump's emergence Republicans have consolidated their control of small-town, exurban and rural communities. But that has come with significant losses for the GOP inside metropolitan areas even in red states, like Texas and Georgia.

The trade Trump is imposing on the GOP was apparent in 2016 and enormously intensified in 2018. 
In 2016, Trump lost 16 of the 20 states where foreign-born residents constituted the largest share of the population and won 26 of the 30 states where they represent the smallest shares. Even in the relatively more diverse states he won, he lost the vast majority of the big urban centers where immigrants and other minorities generally concentrate. Overall, Trump lost 87 of the 100 largest US counties to Hillary Clinton by a combined margin of over 15 million votes, according to calculations by the Pew Research Center. 
Trump offset these losses by amassing the largest margins for Republicans in decades in small-town, exurban and rural areas. In 2018 House races, Republicans suffered only very modest losses outside of metropolitan area districts. And they gained three Senate seats in states with large populations of white voters who are rural, blue-collar, or evangelical Christians: North Dakota, Indiana and Missouri. But the party was routed in metropolitan House seats that contained significant populations of minorities, immigrants, singles, college-educated white voters, or all of the above. 
After sweeping losses in suburban districts from coast to coast, the GOP under Trump has been almost completely exiled from the dynamic metropolitan areas that account for the nation's vast majority of job growth and economic output.

There is a whole lot of commentary on cable news this morning about how Trump is welcoming all this because this helps his election chances. I don't disagree that he believes this. But that doesn't make it true. 

They are clearly banking on the same extremely narrow electoral college win they had in 2016. And we would be fools to think that's impossible --- obviously. But nobody knows whether or not he can eke out another victory with his victory by activating the racist right wing lizard brain enough to overcome the massive backlash he's engendered in the urban and suburban areas that could make the difference in swing states.

At this point the one thing the polls show is that for all his antics over the course of the last two and half years, his coalition has not grown.  And the data from 2018 showed substantial losses.  It's hard to believe they can get those people (mostly women) back with this racist, sexist assault but really, it's all he knows how to do.

So that's going to be the 2020 battleground. A referendum on Trump, as this election will be, will have to be fought on that terrain.

Don and Jeff yukking it up, checking out young ladies

by digby

The footage shows two wealthy men laughing and pointing as they appear to discuss young women dancing at a party.

Today, one of the men is president of the United States. The other is in federal lockup awaiting a bail decision as he fights sex trafficking and conspiracy charges.

The November 1992 tape in the NBC archives shows Donald Trump partying with Jeffrey Epstein at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, now a private club, more than a decade before Epstein pleaded guilty to felony prostitution charges in Florida.

At one point in the video, Trump is seen grabbing a woman toward him and patting her behind.

The president says he hasn’t spoken to Epstein since his guilty plea, and that his relationship with him was no different than that of anyone else in their elite circle.

“I knew him like everybody in Palm Beach knew him,” Trump said last week. “I was not a fan.”

But on the tape, Trump gives Epstein plenty of personal attention.

You don't have to be a genius to see what was going on there, especially the part where Donald is whispering in Jeffrey's ear.

But it's all good, right? We already know that Trump is a sex offender. And half the country is fine with that.


The GOP's Racist President Handbook

by digby

Mark Sumner at Daily Kos
lays out how the GOP has learned to deal with Trump's racism. I think he's got it exactly right:

Step one: Trump isn’t racist, because he didn’t mention race.

Whether it’s the Trump supporters phoning in to NPR or a group of Republican women interviewed by CNN, one thing is certain: What Trump said is not racist. That’s because Trump supporters have narrowed down racism to the narrowest possible definition. Under this definition, saying Mexicans are rapists isn’t racist. That’s about a nation. Saying congresswomen of color should get out of America isn’t racist. That’s about patriotism. As professor Carol Anderson has pointed out, this isn’t a new thing. In the past, Republicans have made it clear that terms such as “welfare queen” from Reagan and “gang banger” from Bush are also not racist—because they don’t directly mention a race. No matter how loud the dog whistle blows, Republicans will pretend they can’t hear it.

The definition of racism for the modern Republican is completely down to whether someone used a racial epithet. Trump did not say the N-word, so nothing else he could say could possibly be racist according to the Republican rules. And when Trump inevitably tweets the N-word, they’ll make new rules.

Step two: Trump isn’t racist; he’s just telling it like it is.

The next thing that Republicans do with a racist statement isn’t just to excuse it as nonracism, but to explain that it’s actually a good statement. A patriotic statement. An American statement. And that’s exactly what happened with Trump’s latest. Republicans from Kellyanne Conway to Kevin McCarthy have gone beyond just excusing Trump’s words; they’ve made the claim that he was on the side of justice.

As Trump has said, and other Republicans have echoed, his statements weren’t racist. They were just another restatement of that old conservative saw: America, love her or leave her. Which is a pearl of wisdom that Republicans pry free every time there’s a Republican in the White House. In defending his tweet, Trump declared that progressive Democratic congresswomen “hate our country” and have said “horrible” and “vile” things about America. Predictably, even when Trump has made these declarations to the press, no reporter has challenged him to say what these horrible or vile things might be.

This step is superbeloved of Republican voters. Not only does it exonerate Trump, but it also elevates his expressions of hatred into patriotism. And if it can do that for Trump, it can also do that for them. Trump supporters are reassured that Trump’s not a racist, they’re not racists, and the resentment and anger they feel toward people not like them—those urban, coastal elites—is completely justified. And see? No mention of race.

Step three: Democrats are the real racists, for saying that Trump is racist.

After determining that Trump’s statements aren’t racist, but are actually patriotic, and making it clear that it’s perfectly okay to hate the people Trump condemned because they’re vile America-haters who really should be run out of this country, the next step is to search for the real racists.

Because Republicans recognize that the word “racist” still has some punch. Being a racists is a bad thing, but Trump isn’t racist because that’s already been established in step one and step two. So if Trump didn’t say anything about race, then whoever mentioned race first is the real racist. QED.

Once Republicans have completed the racist waltz, they emerge at the other end feeling angered, justified, and satisfied that they have “won” this engagement by showing that the Democrats are the anti-American racists. Oh, and … some of them look like they may have come from “shithole countries.” Not that anyone is saying anything about race! That’s just nationalism. Xenophobia and nationalism are now 100% okay.

That’s how Donald Trump starts the week with a sickening expression of blatant racism, and turns it into an increase in support among Republicans. As Reuters reports, Trump’s net approval among Republicans rose by 5% following his “go back” tweets and his double-down, triple-down aftermath.

The future of the GOP (obviously) isn't Nikki Haley. It's Liz Cheney

by digby

My Salon column this morning:

It's become conventional wisdom among the punditocracy that former South Carolina governor and UN ambassador Nikki Haley is on track to be the first woman Republican presidential nominee. She's one of the few members of the Trump administration to escape with their reputations more or less intact, even having gotten away with publicly disagreeing with the president from time to time and remaining in his good graces.

There have been persistent rumors that now that he knows the conservative evangelical voters are his most loyal Christian soldiers, Trump has been thinking about dropping his sycophantic wingman, Vice President Mike Pence, in favor of the charismatic Haley as his re-election running mate. Some people believe having her on the ticket might be helpful since so many women in this country are violently repelled by him.

In a sane world, Haley would be an obvious choice for either spot on a GOP ticket. She is a Southerner, and she's accomplished and experienced while also being anti-feminist and very conservative. As the daughter of Indian immigrants, she is also a woman of color, which not too long ago was considered an asset for a party that boasts very few nonwhite members and is in desperate need of somehow refuting the notion that it has become a de facto white nationalist political party in a country that is more and more diverse. After Mitt Romney's loss to Barack Obama in 2012, the GOP did a full post mortem — driven largely by then-House Speaker Paul Ryan — that concluded the party needed to do serious outreach to minority voters or risk becoming a permanent minority itself.

But then Trump happened. And now the party couldn't refute its white nationalist ideology even if it tried, or more to the point even if it wanted to. Over the course of the last few days, the president and his accomplices in the Congress and throughout the rest of the GOP leadership have demonstrated that they are all in.

Haley has had nothing to say about Trump's repeated racist rants on twitter and TV about the four Democratic congresswomen going "back to where they came from" because they "hate America." Her only tweet since it started was the following vague irrelevance on Sunday morning.

Since then she's tweeted about Wimbledon and a cute baby but she's had nothing to say about Trump's scandalous commentary.

You can't blame exactly her. It's uncomfortable for Haley to say anything, since her parents are immigrants and all. And frankly, rank-and-file GOP voters are making it clear that they like Trump's upfront white nationalism as much as the official white nationalists do. Early polling shows that Trump is actually gaining support among Republicans for his overt racism (while losing support from independents), which suggests that Haley will not be able to paper over this diversity problem while keeping the racist voters on the team. The GOP base doesn't want to paper it over. Trump has liberated them from all pretense.

But there's another Republican woman who looks like she's making a move. That would be third-term congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who now holds the third most powerful position in the House GOP leadership. Unlike Haley she isn't reluctant to join the fight. In fact, she was waging online wars with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., well before Trump's recent Twitter tantrums.

They went back and forth on this, trading jabs, for quite a while.

Cheney has established that she can take on the traditional VP role of attack dog by being almost as vicious as the president himself. On Tuesday she delivered a fiery denunciation of the four progressive women of color whom Trump has been vilifying for days, brazenly asserting that in spite of all the evidence he has provided, the complaints about them have nothing to do with their race, religion or gender. Instead, she embellished the script every GOP official but Trump is following by saying that the issue is their determination to destroy the country with their allegedly socialist views:

It must be pointed out that the GOP outrage over these Democrats' alleged failure to recognize that America is "the greatest nation that ever existed" is thick with irony. Their own president delivered an inaugural address known as the "American Carnage" speech. As far as he's concerned, every American leader for the last 60 years or so has been an embarrassment who turned the U.S. into a weak and subservient nation, laughed at and exploited by every other country in the world.

Cheney is clever. She let Trump do the dirty work of saying out loud what the base wants to hear. Then she piled on with a long laundry list of lies, tying a fantasy Democratic ideology to Trump's racist, Islamophobic, misogynist commentary without ever having to say the words herself. She has a talent for going for the jugular in a more traditional way that might just reassure any wavering GOP female voters that she represents a return to the old-fashioned Republican insults they know and love — racist dog-whistles and red-baiting.

At the moment, there's a lot of speculation that Cheney will run for the Wyoming U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Mike Enzi. Polls show she would win the primary against another woman who has already announced, which means she would almost certainly win the seat in one of the reddest of red states. It's also true she's on the leadership fast track in the Republican House caucus, and may stay put there, believing that's her best springboard to higher office. Whatever she chooses, she will be a powerful force in Republican politics.

Liz Cheney is almost certainly thinking about running for president, as is Nikki Haley. But at this point in the GOP's evolution, only one of them will be seen by most Trump-crazed Republican voters as a leader they can trust. It won't be the woman of color whose parents came to America to start a new life. It's the white woman who's an authoritarian nationalist with a Republican establishment pedigree a mile long, who eagerly marches in lockstep with the president. Now that's a woman Trump voters can sincerely admire.


Jerks jerking chains

by Tom Sullivan

David Graham of The Atlantic this week suggests the acting president is holding the N-word in reserve for use during the height of the 2020 campaign. He'll trot it out in a tweet and minions will explain what the president really meant. There's historical context, you see. Black comedians use it. Outrage over the word's use is a character flaw of liberal snowflakes everywhere. Or something.

Subject changed. Alt-reich base electro-shocked. Mission accomplished.

Those among his base Hillary Clinton called a “basket of deplorables” enjoy seeing Trump jerk lefties' chains, writes John Harris for Politico:

They cringe when Trump goes from merely provocative to outright prejudiced. At the same time, my guess is that it it is far higher than half of Trump voters who are motivated by something not quite the same as what Clinton described: Enjoyment that Trump says so many things that she, along with most Democrats, and many in the media find genuinely deplorable. They don’t endorse racism but admire Trump for seeming not to care that Nancy Pelosi calls him racist.

In my experience, that bond links nearly all Trump supporters in some way: They see him puncturing liberal pieties, and offending elite sensibilities broadly, and like it. His partisans don’t need to agree with Trump’s words or actions — may even find some of them off-putting — and still find the indignation of Democrats and the media more off-putting.
It is Nixon's politics of resentment as perverse entertainment. No one could ignore what Trump said. He triggered the left, freshened up his base's froth, and earned above-the-fold headlines — ensuring he is the center of national attention. If he unifies the bickering left in the process, so what? They're not his target demographic.

In condemning The Squad for “loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States ... how our government is to be run,” writes Lili Loufbourow at Slate, Trump is "taking the actual job of the representatives and presenting it as the vicious work of alien enemies." He is portraying representative government as foreign interference, Loufbourow continues. "For nonwhite Americans, wanting to improve your country is evidence that you hate it. For nonwhite Americans, criticizing America is anti-American."

Less instinctive Republican assets in Mississippi are extending Trump's enemy branding beyond nonwhites to women. Republican candidate for governor Robert Foster denied a request from Mississippi Today reporter Larrison Campbell to shadow his campaign unless she brings a male colleague as chaperone:
“Before our decision to run, my wife and I made a commitment to follow the ‘Billy Graham Rule’, which is to avoid any situation that may evoke suspicion or compromise of our marriage,” he tweeted on Tuesday. “I am sorry Ms Campbell doesn’t share these views, but my decision was out of respect of my wife.”
A second candidate joined in. Former state Supreme Court chief justice Bill Waller Jr. told Mississippi Today, “I just think it’s common sense.” Foster blamed women, “Now, in the #MeToo movement era, people could come back at me five, 10, 15 years later and accuse me of assaulting them, and I have no witness there to protect me from that accusation.”

In a public blog post, social futurist Sara Robinson brands this a variant of Trumpy gotcha. Robinson explains:
This isn't about his personal behavior at all. This is a very deliberate display of performative holiness, and it's a common thing in Evangelical culture. Among the winning messages it's sending to his voters:

1) I understand that women are wicked temptresses who can lead men into sin (or a MeToo harassment lawsuit), and must be kept in their place, far from men who are doing serious business.

2) I am willing to bravely stand up to feminists and liberals in order to protect my status as a pure and Godly man.

3) I share your belief that women belong at home, and will walk that talk.

4) I'm really really good at trolling the libs. Hear them whine? Yeah. I did that. You should vote for me.
In these shows, liberals are the Designated Howlers, Robinson adds, the screaming family the Trump base tunes in for each week. The pattern is familiar, Harris concludes: outrageous words, indignant reaction, indignant reaction to the reaction, rinse and repeat. Trump is jerking people's chains. Don't let him. Pay attention to what's eating him. (See image below.)

Vox's Ezra Klein told Lawrence O'Donnell on "The Last Word" Tuesday [timestamp 34:50] Trump's behavior is an instinctive "hack" he uses when he loses control of the conversation. Saying something offensive allows him to reset the conversation "along the divisive lines" he wants to argue about and away from topics that don't interest him.

Trump initiates fights he thinks he can win to get himself out of fights he thinks he's losing.

Clearly, he's feeling that now:

So are his surrogates:

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

We Live in a Strange Country: Chapter 1685 

by tristero

Seriously, this is fucking weird:

A second Republican candidate for Mississippi governor has said he will not meet alone with a woman who is not his wife. 
The former Mississippi supreme court Justice Bill Waller Jr says he tries to have at least one staff person with him in both professional and social settings when a woman is present, including when he meets with a female colleague on the court. 
“I just think it’s common sense,” Waller said in a campaign video. 
“In this day and time, I think that appearances are important, I think transparency is important, and people need to have comfort of what’s going on in government between employees and people,” he added. 
Last week another Republican gubernatorial candidate, state congressman Robert Foster, said that he would not allow a female reporter to join his campaign unless she brought a male colleague. 
A campaign spokesman for Waller said the candidate follows the rule because he “believes this is respectful to his wife”.
I don't know what the real reason is, but this sounds like bullshit.
Fasten your seatbelts. The debt ceiling negotiations just got real

by digby

This piece by Martin Longman spells out the situation on the ground. If we were dealing with a sane actor in the White House, this wouldn't even be an issue. Both parties would want to take this particular issue off the table until after 2020.  But Trump is so stupid and narcissistic that he may be unpersuadable:
It may not be accurate, but many political analysts believe that Donald Trump’s tenuous hold on approval numbers in the low-to-mid forties is reliant on the continued health of the economy. It seems like a sound theory. Trump has occasionally slipped into the high-thirties, so we know that his floor is at least that low. It also appears that good unemployment numbers, a growing stock market, and decent economic growth are his best arguments for reelection. This actually gives the Democrats an incentive to sabotage the economy as the Republicans attempted to do repeatedly during the presidency of Barack Obama. It’s probably only a sense of basic responsibility, one their right-wing colleagues don’t share, that prevents them from welcoming a default on the nation’s debt.
Contrary to their promises, the Republican tax cuts have not generated more tax revenue and the Treasury Department believes that the country could run out of money during Congress’s August recess. This puts Nancy Pelosi in the driver’s seat. She knows that if we default it will kill our credit rating and cause an economic contraction, possibly on a global scale. She also knows who will get blamed most if that happens. It will be Donald Trump, who has few accomplishments aside from the performance of the economy to show the electorate. If she is going to save Trump from defaulting in the next few days before Congress goes home for summer vacation, she expects to get something in return.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke late Monday as they tried to broker a debt ceiling and budget deal with just days left before Congress plans to leave for the rest of the summer.
The talks took on new urgency after Pelosi shot down a White House fallback plan that would have Congress raise the debt ceiling — potentially for just a short period of time — by late next week if they failed to reach a budget agreement. 
Pelosi, the California Democrat, said the idea of raising the debt ceiling on its own and not in conjunction with a budget agreement was not “acceptable to our caucus” and therefore did not stand a chance of passage in the House of Representatives.

She’s demanding a two-year spending agreement and she’s not interested in a short-term fix so they can resume negotiations after Labor Day. This is her hardball negotiating position, but it’s not clear she’ll stick to it. Some people are operating on the assumption that she won’t.
People involved in the negotiations said they were not panicking and that there were still multiple options to avoid a full-blown crisis, and they also said that all sides were working hard to reach a resolution. One option would be for lawmakers and the White House to reach an agreement in principle on the budget before the August recess, temporarily raise the debt ceiling, and then agree on specifics in the intervening months.
There’s little doubt in my mind that a Republican Speaker dealing with a Democratic president would be willing to stick to their guns and get the concessions they demanded. But that would more obviously work because a Democratic president would rather make concessions than risk throwing millions of people out of work. I don’t know for sure that Donald Trump really understands what default would look like and what it would do to his political standing. Pelosi holds his fate in her hands, and he doesn’t like to be in that kind of situation and may just be constitutionally incapable of accepting it as a reality.

Having a mentally unstable ignoramus leading the country is so, so dangerous on every level.


Big cheers on the alt-right

by digby

Nazi rally at Madison Square Garden 1939

Yesterday, Trump was asked:
REPORTER: Does it concern you that many people saw that tweet as racist and that white nationalist groups are finding common cause with you on that point?
He replied:
TRUMP: It doesn't concern me because many people agree with me.
The ADL surveyed the reaction from those people who agree with him:
Neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin was apparently thrilled by the tweets, posting on his popular Daily Stormer website: “Man, President Trump’s Twitter account has been pure fire lately. This might be the funniest thing he’s ever tweeted. This is the kind of WHITE NATIONALISM we elected him for. And we’re obviously seeing it only because there’s another election coming up. But I’ll tell you, even knowing that, it still feels so good.”

Anglin also emphasized the political implications of Mr. Trump telling people of color to “go back” to their countries: “This is what elected Trump and this is what will always be the best way for him to gain support,” and underscored the importance of these comments being directed at U.S. citizens, particularly Rep. Pressley, who was born in Cincinnati: “So this is not some half-assed anti-immigrant white nationalism. Trump is literally telling American blacks to go back to Africa.”

Meanwhile, alt right figurehead Richard Spencer acknowledged the appeal of the President’s tweets to a range of alt right activists, but also appeared to warn that Trump was bound to disappoint white supremacists (again).

White supremacist organizer and frequent political candidate Augustus Invictus seemed to praise the President’s tweets:

Matt Parrott, former head of the white supremacist Traditionalist Worker Party, appeared to acknowledge the political strategy behind the President’s comments, tweeting:

White supremacist podcaster “Sven Longshanks” primed his “Daily Nationalist” audience by praising the President: “Trump started the week in a great way today by tweeting that the four worst non-White communists in the Democrat Party should go back and fix their own countries first before trying to tell America what to do. Of course he is being accused of being ‘racist’ for pointing this out, as nobody can argue their countries of origin are not ‘the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world’.”

Another white supremacist podcaster, James Edwards of The Political Cesspool, responded to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s defense of the congresswomen with his own racist vitriol:

The President’s tweets are being celebrated elsewhere across the extremist spectrum. On Sunday, anti-Muslim bigot Pamela Geller, head of the Islamophobic American Freedom Defense Initiative/Stop Islamization of America reposted his tweets accompanied by this gleeful comment:

Right-wing Islamophobe and Freedom Center founder David Horowitz defended the President’s comments, calling the targeted congresswomen “anti-Semites, pro-terrorists… anti-Americans…” He blasted the media outlets who have criticized Trump’s tweets, calling them “shills” for Reps. Pressley, Omar, Tlaib and Ocasio-Cortez.


A day which should live in infamy but probably won't

by digby

When I saw this and realized that nothing would ever part Trump from his voters. It was the single worst moment I've ever seen a president deliver on the international stage.

I still can't believe it actually happened, but it did.

And he's getting away with everything...

Kellyanne gets the bootlicking gold star of the day

by digby

And it was a tough competition:

She was just modeling being a good soldier and following Dear Leaders orders:

"Don't show weakness, Republicans! Stick by Dear Leader or else!"

Meanwhile, fromn the other side of Kellyanne's bed, we got this from her husband:

[H]ow naive an adult [like me] could be. The birther imaginings about Barack Obama? Just a silly conspiracy theory, latched onto by an attention seeker who has a peculiar penchant for them. The “Mexican” Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel incident? Asinine, inappropriate, a terrible attack on the judiciary by an egocentric man who imagined that the judge didn’t like him. The white supremacists’ march in Charlottesville? The president’s comments were absolutely idiotic, but he couldn’t possibly have been referring to those self-described Nazis as “good people”; in his sloppy, inarticulate way, he was referring to both sides of the debate over Civil War statues, and venting his anger about being criticized.

No, I thought, President Trump was boorish, dim-witted, inarticulate, incoherent, narcissistic and insensitive. He’s a pathetic bully but an equal-opportunity bully — in his uniquely crass and crude manner, he’ll attack anyone he thinks is critical of him. No matter how much I found him ultimately unfit, I still gave him the benefit of the doubt about being a racist. No matter how much I came to dislike him, I didn’t want to think that the president of the United States is a racial bigot.

But Sunday left no doubt. Naivete, resentment and outright racism, roiled in a toxic mix, have given us a racist president. Trump could have used vile slurs, including the vilest of them all, and the intent and effect would have been no less clear. Telling four non-white members of Congress — American citizens all, three natural-born — to “go back” to the “countries” they “originally came from”? That’s racist to the core. It doesn’t matter what these representatives are for or against — and there’s plenty to criticize them for — it’s beyond the bounds of human decency. For anyone, not least a president.

I don't know what game these two are playing but it's becoming untenable.