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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Today I'm grateful for Don Jr.'s arrogance.

By Spocko

The rich and powerful are used to working the refs, greasing the skids, changing the laws, getting rid of the evidence and undermining the Justice system when all their other tricks fail.

Donald Jr. has tried to copy his father's moves, but he never had the same feral understanding of the world as his father. He also didn't have the layers of lawyers, accountants and fixers that have assisted his Dad for years.

People say that Trump doesn't care about anyone but himself or money, but I think he cares about his kids.  Jr's mistakes and blunders, and his dad's attempt to fix them, are giving the case against Trump Sr. some solid evidence and leverage needed for impeachment.

It won't be the whole case, but because the Don Jr. part can be linked to the election, Russia and his Dad, it is strong.

Think about the need for approval that Donald Trump Sr. has shown. It extends to the whole world! It's a hole he can't fill. Does his son have the same pathology, or just the need to get his father's approval that many sons have?

What would the son do to win his dad's approval? Look at his actions.

I envision Don Jr. as a 5-year old in his father's workshop.  He holds up a power saw. "Look daddy! I'm helping. I'm helping!" 
"Put that down, you'll hurt yourself!"
After getting yelled at the boy goes off and sulks, "I'll show him!"

If Don Jr. was dedicated and smart he could have gone on to learn the trade and rules (and how the crooked break them.) But he took the shortcuts the rich and arrogant use. For this I am grateful.

The good news is that Don Jr.'s desire for approval, combined with his stupidity, laziness and arrogance has made it easier to bust him, and then his father.

We are fighting rich powerful people, who lie constantly and break the few laws they haven't changed to be legal.
They have been getting away with it for years.

I can see now that the case against Trump will use the son's attempt to impress his father, then use the father's attempt to protect his son to bring down the father.

In another era this would be a Homeric tragedy. In ours it's an episode of the Simpsons.

Ocasio-Cortez/Shapiro Redux

by tristero

Ginia Bellafante makes good points about how rare it is for male politicians to take female politicians seriously in her essay re: Ocasio-Cortez's refusal to debate a right winger with a propensity for ethnocentrism and other intolerances. I discussed this situation once before but I'd like to briefly revisit it because I think I missed something quite obvious the first time.

Ocasio-Cortez's refusal has been wrongly construed as - in Bellafante description of the right wing position — "proof of the left’s antipathy to engaging with ideological difference." Liberals, progressives, and the left are not adverse to engaging in with ideological differences. What all three groups — yes, they are distinctly different political philosophies — object to is a false engagement with bogus ideas, be they the facts of evolution, climate change, the complexity of gender, the undeniable relationship between the above-ground Republican party and white supremacists, and so on. There is plenty to discuss about each of these issues, and plenty of difference of opinion. However, the modern right wing has nothing important to contribute to these discourses. They are, as Ocasio-Cortez herself put it, merely cat-calling.

Nevertheless, the actual reason why Ocasio-Cortez should not debate Shapiro is even more obvious than the fact that Shapiro does not have a serious intellectual leg to stand on. It's that he's simply not in the game. He's a dilettante and Ocasio-Cortez — who's a very savvy politician — knows it.

If Shapiro is truly serious about engaging Ocasio-Cortez in a debate, he should move to her district, secure the Republican nomination for seat, and challenge her for re-election when her term's up.

Let's not hold our breath waiting for him to do that.
The California GOP FTW

by digby

They sure know how to pick 'em:

The Republican candidate for governor of California paid a visit to a DMV on Wednesday and casually compared standing in line at the notoriously sedate agency to the plight of a Holocaust survivor in pre-war Germany, Capital Public Radio reported.

The campaign for the Republican candidate and businessman John Cox later clarified to TPM that Cox — who has been visiting DMV’s to point out the failings of the agency — misspoke. In audio of the event recorded by Capital Public Radio, Cox introduces himself to a woman and asks her how long she’s been waiting in line. The woman says she’s been in line “close to an hour,” provoking Cox to launch into a diatribe recounting a conversation he’d had previously with a Holocaust survivor.

“You know, I met a Holocaust survivor in Long Beach. He survived concentration camps, and he said this was worse. He’s 90 years old and he had to wait four hours down in Long Beach. Can you imagine that?” Cox says, according to the Capital Public Radio audio.

His campaign spokesperson told the local radio station that Cox misspoke when he called the lines “worse” than the Holocaust. They also gave Capital Public Radio an audio recording of Cox sharing the same story, but accurately, earlier this week.

“He was saying that it reminded him of pre-war Germany” when Jewish people waited in lines to be processed, Cox spokesperson Matt Shupe told the radio station. “In no way does he mean this as a slight to the Jewish community. He misspoke. It’s very unfortunate. But it’s nothing more than that.”

Well, ok then.

The campaign did tell Talking Points Memo that the candidate planned to stop saying it. So that's good.

By the way, you can make an appointment at the DMV and you don't have to wait at all. And you can do most transactions online. Also, the people who work there are really very helpful. Just saying.


He wants to lock Omarosa up too

by digby

He's very, very, very upset:

In recent days, Trump has called Manigault Newman “crazed,” a “lowlife,” and a “dog” on Twitter. His campaign filed an arbitration suit against her seeking “millions.” And Trump told advisers that he wants Attorney General Jeff Sessions to have Manigault Newman arrested, according to one Republican briefed on the conversations. (It’s unclear what law Trump believes she broke.)

Obviously, she scares him. Who knows what she has?

Supposedly he trusted her and that shows just how inept he really is. She is one of the most famous reality shows villains in history known for deviousness and backstabbing. What did he expect?

Omarosa has released a new tape in which Lara Trump, Eric's wife, who is running the re-election campaign, offers her hush money:

On the new tape, Lara Trump says, "It sounds a little like, obviously, that there are some things you've got in the back pocket to pull out. Clearly, if you come on board the campaign, like, we can't have, we got to," she continues, before Manigault Newman interjects, "Oh, God no."

"Everything, everybody, positive, right?" Trump continues.

For those who don't recall, Lara is one of the real operators in the Trump Crime Family. She and Rudy Giuliani both went on TV and used the same phrase to hint at a big October surprise.

'Well there's still a couple days left in October,' said Lara Trump. 'We've got some stuff up our sleeve.'

A few days later James Comey sent his letter to congress about the Weiner emails. It's fair to assume that the Trump campaign had been given a heads up by their pals in the New York FBI office. Lara was an insider who knew about it. She's a true Trump lieutenant.


Fifty years ago today

by digby

Five years later, same day:

Courtesy Michael Beschloss
He can't stop obstructing justice

by digby

After revoking the security clearance of John Brennan ostensibly for things he did during the last administration and because he is paid for giving his opinions on television (as if that's unusual or corrupt) Trump couldn't help but blurt out the real reason:

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal posted late Wednesday, President Trump once again gave away the ballgame when it comes to his efforts to affect the probe and tear down its leaders (both current and former). He confessed that his true motivation for revoking former CIA director John Brennan’s security clearance was the “rigged witch hunt” that Brennan once “led.” 
“I call it the rigged witch hunt; [it] is a sham,” Trump told the Journal’s Peter Nicholas and Michael C. Bender. “And these people led it!” 
He added: “So I think it’s something that had to be done.” 
You could be forgiven for having flashbacks to Trump’s interview with NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt in the aftermath of his firing last year of James B. Comey as FBI director. Then, as now, the White House offered a series of motivations for the crackdown on a person who was a liability in the Russia probe. Then, as now, it seemed clear what the actual motivation was. And then, as now, Trump appeared to go out and just admit the actual motivation.

A psychologist would have to conclude that this is a man who is subconsciously desperate to be caught. Nobody can be this dumb.


by digby

The story of her iconic feminist anthem:

On returning home from a tour in 1965, the singer Otis Redding had a heart-to-heart with his friend Al Jackson Jr, drummer in Booker T and the MG’s. Redding complained that, after such a long absence, he wasn’t getting the appreciation he felt was due from his wife. Jackson wasn’t sympathetic. “What are you griping about?” he said. “You’re on the road all the time. All you can look for is a little respect when you come home.” 
Redding was working on a song at the time. It was intended for his road manager Speedo Sims and his band The Singing Demons, but Jackson’s words inspired him to up the tempo and keep it for himself. Characterised by plaintive vocals and staccato bursts of horn, “Respect” was a desperate plea that reinforced the archetype of the hard-working man providing for his wife and seeking gratitude, and hopefully sex, in return. The songwas a minor hit, and was among the tracks on Redding's successful Otis Blue album. 
Two years later, on Valentine’s Day, a gospel singer from Detroit named Aretha Franklin entered a studio in New York and, alongside producer Jerry Wexler, the studio crew from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and her sisters Erma and Carolyn, transformed both the song and its meaning. Franklin’s versionadded a bridge in which she literally spelt out what she saw as the song’s central message — “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me”. 
The effect was to turn Redding’s call for spousal submission into a cri de coeur for women tired of being disrespected by men. Unlike in Redding’s version, there’s no cajoling or complaining; instead Franklin demands what is rightfully hers, in the process offering solidarity to her sisters and delivering a fiery reminder that respect is a two-way street. On hearing her interpretation, Redding conceded that “Respect” was no longer his. Performing it that year at the Monterey Pop Festival, he introduced it as “a song that a girl took away from me”. 
It was Franklin’s template that Diana Ross & The Supremes with The Temptations followed for their cover on the 1968 television special TCB that saw two of Motown’s most popular acts perform hits and show tunes in front of a live audience. Here Ross went head-to-head with Eddie Kendricks; while he pleads for attention, she informs him that all will be well as long as he treats her right. A soundtrack LP followed and went to No 2 in the US Billboard album chart. 
A song espousing respect for womankind might not have seemed the obvious choice for Ike & Tina Turner, given the former’s reputation for infidelity and violence, but in the late 1960s the couple regularly performed “Respect”, and included it on their live album, In Person. In 1970, midway through their nine-minute cover of the song at the Newport Jazz Festival, Tina delivered an impassioned speech where she spoke directly of her husband’s philandering. “[Women] hardly ever get what we want,” she told the crowd. “But you know who always get what they want? The men... And they do it with whoever they want to do it with.” 
Other interpretations have, in comparison, fallen flat. The New Jersey singer Adevagave “Respect” a tepid house overhaul in 1989, grazing the UK top 20 in the process. Kelly Clarkson honked her way through it on American Idol in 2002 against a flimsy piano accompaniment (more robust backing was provided for the album American Idol: Greatest Moments), while Joss Stone sampled it on the hopelessly overcooked “Headturner” on 2007’s Introducing Joss Stone LP. 
That none of these can hold a candle to Franklin’s “Respect” is perhaps inevitable, since who could hope to match her urgency and firepower? It’s the song that earned her two Grammys, her first number one hit and, in 1968, her face on the cover of Time magazine. It was her version that was embraced and adopted by the women’s rights movement, and ultimately earned her the title “Queen of Soul”. When Aretha sang “All I’m askin’ is for a little respect”, she got it by the truckload. 
People can hear that song in many different ways but when a woman hears Aretha singing it they know exactly what she's talking about.

By the way, does everyone remember this amazing moment?
At the Grammys in 1998, the legendary soul singer stepped in – at the last minute – for Pavarotti, who had been due to sing his trademark piece, Nessun Dorma. So obviously she went ahead and performed that aria.
I saw it. It was unforgettable.

Here she is performing the piece a few years later, at an event in Philadelphia in 2015. Just **listen** to how she ad libs on that top B.

Poor Ivanka

by digby

Omarosa Manigault Newman‘s tell-all Unhinged claims that Ivanka Trumphated the Saturday Night Live sketch that labeled her “complicit” in March 2017. 
“At the senior staff meeting, Ivanka couldn’t stop bemoaning it, how offensive it was, how ridiculous it was,” Manigault Newman, 44, says about Trump, 36. “We’d all been subject to SNL attacks … We’d all been hit, many of us in that same week’s show. But Ivanka would not stop talking about being ribbed. Like her father, Ivanka was thin-skinned and could not seem to take a joke.” 
Scarlett Johansson, 33, played Trump in the spoof perfume ad, which featured a brief appearance by Alec Baldwin, 60, as Donald Trump, 72. “She’s beautiful. She’s powerful. She’s … complicit,” a narrator said. “She’s a woman who knows what she wants. And knows what she’s doing. Complicit.” 
The skit added, “Complicit, the fragrance for the woman who could stop all this — but won’t. Also available in a cologne for Jared [Kushner].” 
In an interview with CBS News the following month, the first daughter and senior adviser to the president responded to critics who have said she is “complicit” in her father’s agenda.
“If being complicit is wanting to be a force for good and to make a positive impact then I’m complicit,” Ivanka said at the time.“I don’t know what it means to be complicit, but you know, I hope time will prove that I have done a good job and much more importantly that my father’s administration is the success that I know it will be.”
And oh my god, this sounds so true:
Manigault Newman claims that Trump questioned Harriet Tubman’s appearance after the then-White House aide approached him about an Obama-era initiative to put the famous escaped slave and abolitionist on the $20 bill, replacing Andrew Jackson. 
Manigault Newman says she wrote a decision memo about the matter and brought it to Trump. 
Then, Manigault Newman describes, “He came to the picture of Tubman, the woman who personally brought more than 300 slaves to freedom, risking her own life every time, and said to me, ‘You want to put that face on the twenty-dollar bill?’ ”
Of course, he didn't know who Harriet Tubman was, not that it would have made any difference.


Rules, schmules

by Tom Sullivan

Guile is not supposed to be a virtue. Not a Judeo-Christian one, anyway. Guile: deceitful cunning; duplicity, according to Websters. Yet "values" conservatives now regard it as a sign of strength. To win at any cost, including to one's integrity, is more important than personal integrity and faithfulness to abstractions like decency, fair play, and the rule of law. See the president they elected.

Michael Tomasky writes at Daily Beast that Republican politicians don't push back against Trump out of fear of his base, but because they like what he's doing.

The two major political parties in place since the 1850s adhered, more or less, to established norms on "basic democratic allocation of power," Tomasky writes (eliding nearly a century of Jim Crow rules under Democrats). Elections have consequences. Losing means control by political opponents. But the consensus has collapsed, driven primarily by the GOP:

The shutting down of the recount in Florida in 2000. The aggressive gerrymandering, first engineered by Tom DeLay. The Hastert Rule, holding that bills could pass the House only with a majority of Republicans, and not with bipartisan support. The attacks on voting rights—straight-up attempts to make it hard or even impossible for certain citizens to vote.
Some of it seems superfluous piling on. There are murmurings by ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, to return selection of senators to state legislatures. And since the GOP controls 32 of them, it would guarantee a GOP Senate for the foreseeable future. Superfluous because, according to a prediction I've cited before:
"By 2040, 70% of Americans are expected to live in the 15 largest states... home to the overwhelming majority of the 30 largest cities... that means 70% of Americans get all of 30 Senators and 30% get 70 Senators."
ALEC and the GOP simply don't want to wait. They are actively trying to rig the game so it's heads, they win; tails, Democrats lose. Tomasky continues:
And then came the mother of all rule changes, the Battle of Verdun, the Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the sack of Rome by the Vandals: the blocking of Merrick Garland. This was an unconscionable rewriting of the rules. Let the American people decide, they said. The American people had decided. They elected Barack Obama to a second term of four years. Not three.

I’ve thought a lot about why the Republicans didn’t just go through the motions of giving Garland his hearing and then rejecting him, as they had the votes to do. They could have scheduled it so that they voted him down in August, and then semi-plausibly argued that it was now too close to the election to proceed. Then, they would have played by the rules but still prevailed. So why didn’t they?

To my mind, there’s only one answer. They wanted to show the Democrats and the country that they didn’t play by the rules. They wanted to make that public demonstration to establish a precedent—to show, to return to my phrase from above, that they could exercise public contempt for the democratic allocation of power. And win.
By any means necessary. The only rule is winning. Trump is their patron saint.

Having lost a nonpartisan state Supreme Court race in 2016 to an African-American Democrat, Republicans in control of the North Carolina legislature made several changes to the election laws to tilt the game in their direction. They switched the contest to one in which candidates would carry party affiliation. They eliminated judicial primaries as well. Then a group affiliated with GOP consultants sent out mailers urging Democratic lawyers to run for Supreme Court and Court of Appeals in an apparent attempt to flood the race with Democrats and dilute their opponents' votes. Democrats didn't bite, instead rallying around a single candidate.

Then Chris Anglin, a Raleigh attorney, took it on himself to switch his registration from Democrat and file to run as a Republican. Hoisted, petards, etc., Republicans cried foul and called a special legislative session to pass legislation to strip Anglin's ballot line of its "R." Naturally, this went to court. The ruling came down on Monday:
Wake County Superior Court Judge Rebecca Holt agreed in a forceful ruling handed down Monday afternoon. Holt explained that Anglin has “a vested right to have his party affiliation listed on the ballot”—a right the legislature infringed upon by changing the rules and applying them retroactively. This switcheroo “violates fundamental principles of fairness,” Holt found, “thereby violating [Anglin’s] right to due process” under the North Carolina constitution. She also held that the new law “severely burdens” Anglin’s “associational rights” under the state constitution by preventing him from affiliating with his chosen party. And because the law is justified by no compelling or legitimate state interest, she concluded, it must be set aside.
Rules, schmules. Rules are for losers. The NCGOP will appeal.

* * * * * * * * *

For The Win 2018 is ready for download. Request a copy of my county-level election mechanics primer at tom.bluecentury at gmail.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The church cover-up makes it all seem possible

by digby

If you wonder why some people are so credulous that they think pedophile rings are being run out of pizza parlors by politicians, this is probably why:

If the oldest and most powerful Christian Church in the world could do this I suppose it's not really that kooky to believe that others could too ...

The priesthood of the Catholic Church committed or was complicit in widespread, systemic pedophilia and they successfully kept it quiet for decades. I still find this story to be among the most astonishing well ... ever. It's hard to believe it actually happened.

And clearly they still haven't completely come clean.

Pelosi isn't the poison they think she is

by digby

Earlier I wrote about the Republicans resurrecting the "liberal" epithet zombie in a vain attempt to save some suburban seats. This is probably why:

Republican House candidates have attacked their Democratic opponents over their future potential vote to make Nancy Pelosi the speaker of the House again. Many Democrats fearing potential electoral repercussions have responded by pledging not to vote for Pelosi, if they are elected.

CNN's new poll suggests that Democrats may be overreacting. While the California Democrat remains a very unpopular figure, her impact on people's votes this November looks like it's going to be minimal.

Just 34% of registered voters say that Pelosi will be an extremely or very important factor in their vote this fall. That ranks dead last of the 10 factors asked about by CNN.

To give you an idea of how low Pelosi placed, at least twice as many voters said seven of the other nine factors (the economy, health care, immigration, corruption, gun policy, taxes and President Donald Trump) asked about were extremely or very important.

On the other end, a majority of voters (59%) say that Pelosi will be moderately important or not that important of a factor in how they will cast their ballots. The investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 campaign, an issue that Democrats have been hesitant to talk about too much on the campaign trail, was the only other factor a majority of Americans said was moderately important or not that important to their 2018 vote.

When you drill down further, you can see just how unimportant Pelosi is in the minds of voters. A mere 14% of voters say she will be an extremely important factor. At least 30% of voters said that every other issue tested was extremely important in their 2018 vote.

A little peek into Mueller's other evidence

by digby

The Mueller team dropped a little hint in the Manafort trial:
If there is one context in which Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of President Donald Trump, probably did not want his name to be mentioned, it is that of any legal proceeding involving the ongoing Trump-Russia scandal. 
As the trial of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort draws to a close, however, Kushner is finding himself under that unwanted spotlight. 
Kushner is reported to have told Manafort that he was "on it" after the former campaign manager asked him to consider appointing a banker friend to a high-ranking government post, according to ABC News. According to the exhibit submitted before the court as evidence on Monday, Manafort had sent an email to Kushner in November 2016 — not only after the election but months after Manafort had been pressured into stepping down from the campaign — asking that Stephen Calk, the CEO and founder of Federal Savings Bank, be considered for the position of Secretary of the Army. 
As Manafort explained in his email to Kushner, "Calk was an active supporter of the campaign since April. His background is strong in defense issues, management, and finance." 
Recall that the Daily Beast reported in November of 2016 that Manafort was involved in staffing the new administration:
According to two sources with knowledge of the Trump presidential transition process, Manafort—whose formal association with the president-elect ended in August—is heavily involved with the staffing of the nascent administration.
“When they’re picking a cabinet, unless he contacts me, I don’t bother him,” one former campaign official who worked closely with Manafort told The Daily Beast. “It’s a heady time for everyone.”

“I think he’s weighing in on everything,” the former official said, “I think he still talks to Trump every day. I mean, Pence? That was all Manafort. Pence is on the phone with Manafort regularly.”

I'm betting Pence wouldn't like hearing his name mentioned in all this mess either. But it should be. Manafort picked him for a reason and I'm going to guess it had little to do with ideology.

The idea that Manafort was involved with the transition may be important to the larger case. He was supposedly thrown overboard in August. Yet in November, Jared Kushner was taking his calls and giving him reason to believe he'd come through for him. They went to great lengths to keep his lieutenant in the fold. Someone must be wondering why they would do that.

The Strzok saga is bigger than people realize

by digby

Most former DOJ and FBI people in TV yesterday expressed limited support for the agency's decisions to fire agent Peter Strzok for his unseemly behavior. It was all about preserving the reputation of the FBI and I can see why they would be concerned about that un the current circumstances.

As I noted yesterday, I happen to believe they are doing it as a way to buy time for Robert Mueller's investigation. By throwing some chum into the water every once in a while it appeases the Giant Toddler for a while and makes him feel as if he has some control over the situation. Whether that actually works remains to be seen.

In any case, this piece from Slate spells out the tremendous risk involved in failing to follow normal procedures in these cases. (You could say the same thing about Comey's daft decision to go outside the rules as well.)

[T]he inspector general’s report concluded, “we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that improper considerations, including political bias, directly affected the specific investigative decisions we reviewed.”

But the minutiae of Strzok’s conduct are ultimately a distraction. The most important question right now is not “Were Strzok’s failings sufficiently grievous for him to get fired?” It is, rather: “Did he get fired because of his failings—or did the FBI buckle under the enormous pressure exerted by Donald Trump?”

That question is, unfortunately, far easier to answer. Testifying in front of Congress in June, the director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, promised that the investigation into Strzok would be “done by the book.” But that is emphatically not what happened. The bureau’s Office of Professional Responsibility merely recommended that Strzok be demoted and suspended for 60 days. But it was then overruled by David Bowdich, the deputy director of the FBI As Bradley Moss, a leading national security lawyer, has pointed out, that step was “highly unusual. Maybe legal but definitely not standard practice.”

This should make us very concerned about the impending clash between Trump and his real target: Robert Mueller.
And this is why the crux of this complicated saga is actually pretty straightforward. Strzok stood accused of undermining public trust in the independence of the FBI through his carelessness. This is indeed a significant offense, one that liberals and conservatives alike should take very seriously. But by caving to a massive campaign of vilification by the president, and publicly violating Wray’s promise that the investigation into Strzok would be done by the book, the bureau’s leadership has undermined that trust in a much more public, deliberate, and grievous manner than the man they scapegoated ever did.

Even at this late stage, many commentators still take it for granted that Trump’s attempts to curb the independence of key political institutions will miraculously be foiled by the Constitution. But Strzok’s firing is only the latest in a series of cases in which high-ranking civil servants have been personally attacked by the president and then been forced to leave office under highly unusual circumstances: At this point, Trump has managed to dispatch the FBI’s director, its deputy director, its general counsel, and the head agent of its investigating agency.

This is worrying for two important reasons. First, it sends a clear message to rank-and-file bureaucrats across different agencies: If you value your career, you better stay in the president’s good books. It will take years or decades until we gain the full measure to which this message may already be swaying supposedly apolitical decisions at all levels of the government. And if the message keeps being sent in ever more high-profile cases, we will have to start worrying that political pressure could influence the behavior of key institutions in ways that are directly inimical to the proper functioning of a democracy (like, for example, an investigation of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate on trumped-up charges).

Second, it should make us very concerned about the impending clash between Trump and his real target: Robert Mueller. As Rep. Devin Nunes recently reminded us in his shocking remarks at a private fundraiser, many Republican legislators are now determined to defend the president against any meaningful investigation at just about any cost. The received wisdom remains that Trump cannot possibly win such an open confrontation. If Trump removes Mueller, the smart money says, it would mark the effective end of his presidency. But so far, Trump has amassed a strikingly strong batting average when it came to getting the targets of his ire fired from their jobs.

So if the strange saga of Peter Strzok does nothing else, it should refocus our attention on the urgency of defending the independence of our key political institutions, including the FBI and the Mueller probe.

As the experience of countless other countries, from Russia to Turkey, shows, attacks on the rule of law often start with the politically motivated purge of comparatively minor figures whose record is not entirely clean. Once institutions that are supposed to be independent from the head of state become accustomed to yielding to political pressure, the demands keep ratcheting up. Before long, any critics of the government know that they are unlikely to receive the same treatment as other citizens.

We are still far from that dystopia. But despite Strzok’s undoubted failings, the highly irregular manner of his firing is another early link along the chain that leads from the rule of law to what the Founding Fathers rightly deplored as “the rule of men."

Trump revoked John Brennan's security clearance today:

You can't make this shit up


Stat o' the day

by digby

I know this is mostly a structural issue but since Trump takes credit for GDP and claims the economy is better than it's ever been in history,  he might as well have this rubbed in his face too:

Real average hourly earnings for all employees decreased 0.2 percent from July 2017 to July 2018. The decline in real average hourly earnings combined with the 0.3-percent increase in the average workweek resulted in a 0.1-percent increase in real average weekly earnings over this 12-month period.

Those tax cuts are going to trickle down any day now ...

Pathetic blast from the past

by digby

I'm going to guess this is a ploy to get elderly suburban voters out to vote. I'm going to guess it will have little impact now, even on those voters who remember it for the put-away shot it once was:

Republicans unveiled an ad campaign this week that seemed to turn back the clock a few decades — by trying to turn the word “liberal” into the kind of insult it was 25 years ago.

It’s the sort of campaign that would warm the heart of the late Arthur Finkelstein, the famous political media consultant whose clients from the late 1970s into the 2000s would relentlessly pound the Democratic candidate with the phrase “liberal” usually mixed in with some nickname. In 1992, for Republican Al D’Amato’s Senate reelection, his opponent faced 10-second ads calling him “hopelessly liberal.” And then in 1994, Mario Cuomo (D) was pummeled with ads that regularly ended with the sign off calling the three-term governor “too liberal, too long.”

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC dedicated to electing Republicans to the House, is echoing that theme in a set of ads released this week in its bid to retain the eight-year GOP majority. The ads hammer home, again and again, the idea that the Democratic nominee is a liberal. “How liberal is Katie Porter?” the narrator asks at the outset of a 30-second spot against the Democratic nominee in California’s 45th Congressional District, challenging GOP Rep. Mimi Walters.

“Liberal Katie Hill doesn’t think you pay enough taxes,” the narrator saysfrom the outset of spot against the nominee challenging Rep. Steve Knight (R) in California’s 25th District.

“Liberal politician Anthony Brindisi is a tax-and-spend rubber-stamp,” he says in an ad running against the Democratic state assemblyman challenging Rep. Claudia Tenney in New York’s 22nd Congressional District.

A similar set of ads were unveiled last week, including one that blasts “failed liberal politician Paul Davis” — in all caps on the screen — in his bid to win a GOP-held seat in eastern Kansas.

This is a slight variation on what has been a steadily consistent theme from CLF: a steady attack on Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as the potential next House speaker should Democrats win back the majority.

But the earlier ads focused almost exclusively on Pelosi, assuming the viewer already knew what she stood for and why they disliked her. In this week’s trio of ads, however, Pelosi is a bit character, appearing on screen for just four or five seconds in the 90 seconds of airtime.

Instead, CLF is now trying to hammer home that the opposition’s political ideology is the most dangerous thing about their background. It’s an effort to try to move beyond being negative just about Pelosi and to connect the reasons center-right voters despise her on actual policy grounds.

“The word ‘liberal’ is deeply unpopular and represents everything people dislike about the Democratic agenda. Nancy Pelosi and her San Francisco values are the embodiment of what people don’t like about the word ‘liberal,’ raising taxes, open borders and yelling about impeachment,” Corry Bliss, CLF executive director, said Tuesday.

This makes Bliss, a native New Yorker, a modern disciple of Finkelstein, who grew up in Brooklyn and rose to fame with the support of D’Amato and the late senator Jesse Helms (R-N.C.).
The question is also whether the Finkelstein approach has mileage this century. His pugilistic style worked effectively throughout the Reagan-Bush years, as he piled up victories and candidates across the globe. (Finkelstein served as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s consultant in the mid-1990s.)

By 1996, the “liberal” routine had begun to run its course. “I don't know a Senate race in the country where the Republican message isn't charging liberal, liberal, liberal,” Mandy Grunwald, a leading Democratic consultant, told The Washington Post then.

His clients lost at least five Senate races that cycle. “The trick is getting old,” Democratic pollster Mark Mellman said at the time.

The theme faded from most GOP campaigns by early last decade, partly because it had lost its bite and partly because liberalism was growing more popular. In 1992, at the height of D’Amato’s “hopelessly liberal” attack ads, voters identifying themselves as conservative outnumbered liberals by more than 2 to 1, according to the Gallup poll.

That edge has slowly but surely declined the past 25 years. By January of this year, 35 percent of voters identified as conservative and 26 percent as liberal, the first time that margin registered in the single digits, according to Gallup.

In recent years, however, the GOP’s campaigns have taken on a one-trick-pony approach of a different sort, focusing so heavily on linking the candidate to Pelosi that sometimes ads in special elections the past year have lost potency.

So now CLF is using “liberal” as an overarching way to connect Pelosi to the policies that middle-of-the-road voters in swing districts are not likely to support. Porter was linked to “the radical resistance” in the CLF ad for supporting the abolishing of ICE, while Hill was accused of supporting “radical environmental regulations” and Brindisi supported “liberal spending.”

All three ads focused more on state politics and figures — the gas tax issue in California and former state legislative leader Sheldon Silver (D) in New York — as they did on Pelosi or national issues. Intentional or not, the ads all ended with the kind of taglines reminiscent of Finkelstein’s work that hammered home the ideological theme.

“Liberal Katie Porter,” the narrator says in one. “Higher taxes, open borders.”

Good luck with that. "Liberal" was turned into an epithet as a dog-whistle. Dog whistles aren't necessary anymore. It's all out in the open now.

Its clear that the GOP is completely out of ideas. They are empty vessels into which Trump has poured his racism and incoherent juvenile name-calling. That's all there is.


What Omarosa and Martha Mitchell have in common

by digby

My Salon column this morning:

I doubt there was even one Vegas oddsmaker who would have taken the bet that Omarosa Manigault Newman wouldn't write a book about the Trump campaign and administration the minute she left the White House. Of course that's what she would do. It's what they all do. They generally used to wait until the president was out of office but George Stephanopoulos broke that norm when he wrote his memoir shortly after leaving the Clinton White House and shared a lot of information that embarrassed his former boss. The most famous reality show villain on television, known only by her first name (like Cher or Madonna) Omarosa almost certainly took the job with the Trump campaign largely because it would afford her this opportunity to turn the screws on her show business mentor, Donald Trump. That's how reality shows work. It was scripted in the stars.

Omarosa's new book may be mostly fiction but like any good reality show narrative, it must contain some elements of truth in order to be believable. The tapes she is releasing in carefully managed episodic fashion on her publicity tour are backing up at least some of the claims in her book. And she is clearly scaring the hell out of everyone in the White House. If she's been secretly taping conversations since she joined the team there is no telling what she has.

As I watched Omarosa on the various news programs and talk shows this week I was reminded of another famous gadfly who made the White House very nervous in similar circumstances. Back in the early 70s, a garrulous southern belle  who was married to one of the most powerful men in Washington used to have a drink or two and then call up reporters and share information she'd overheard eavesdropping on her husband's meetings. I'm speaking of Martha Mitchell, the wife of the Attorney General in the first Nixon administration and the man who ran the Committee to Re-elect the President, also known as CREEP, John Mitchell.

She too was something of a TV star, a household name, known for speaking her mind and causing no end of heartburn for the administration, largely because they didn't know what she knew and who she was going to tell it to. As it happened she knew a lot because her husband was a corrupt schemer who was in charge of any number of illegal, nefarious schemes in his capacity as Nixon's campaign chairman. As the Watergate scandal unfolded, Martha Mitchell was considered a ticking time bomb and Nixon's supporters went to great lengths to portray her as a lunatic, not to be believed. (At one point a bodyguard physically restrained her from speaking to UPI reporter Helen Thomas by yanking the phone out of the wall. They later held her down, tranquilized her and kept her under lock and key for several days!)  This was all known in real time as the story was unfolding but it was relegated to the "woman's pages" and treated as a sideshow.

What made me think of her in light of Omarosa's publicity tour wasn't that they are personally similar or that Omarosa is being treated so horrifically. Omarosa is a savvy celebrity playing by the same rules as Donald Trump. She is, after all, his creature. Mitchell was a much more sincere sort of trouble maker. But aside from the spectacle of a woman in the president's orbit running around making charges of criminality and corruption, there are a couple of things more substantially comparable between the two.

One of the charges that Omarosa has made in her book and TV appearances indicates that the Trump operation has something very specific in common with the Nixon re-election campaign that was run by Martha Mitchell's husband: hush money.

We already knew that Trump was in the habit of paying people to be quiet using non-disclosure agreements. After all, that's what all the hubub regarding adult film actress Stormy Daniels and his former mistress Karen McDougal is all about. But according to Omarosa, the Trump White House is using the same  tactic through the president's re-election campaign which is strikingly similar to the famous CREEP "slush fund" of campaign donations that John Mitchell used to fund dirty tricks and pay various henchmen to keep quiet. She provided a copy of the non-disclosure agreement they wanted her to sign in return for her silence and $15,000 a month to NBC News.

According to the Washington Post, this is not an unusual arrangement in the Trump White House where there has been an unprecedented amount of turnover. The Post reports that the White House counsel also drafted a short non-disclosure agreement for all staffers that is almost assuredly unenforceable but the president insisted anyway. This practice may be legal, depending on where the money is coming from and how it's being accounted for. But as with so much else in Trumpworld it has "cover-up" written all over it. Hush money usually does. 

Martha Mitchell also said over and over from the beginning that Richard Nixon ordered the cover up. This was the big issue of Watergate, prompting the famous question "what did the president know and when did he know it?"   Once everyone heard the tapes it was clear that for all the mocking and the disrespect, Martha was right all along.   

On Tuesday Omarosa said something else that echoed Mitchell's insistent charges from all those years ago. She told Katy Tur of MSNBC that she had spoken to the special prosecutor and that Trump knew about the Clinton emails before they were released by Wikileaks.  And who knows? Maybe she's got the tapes to prove it...

Richard Nixon himself told David Frost in the famous interviews,  "if it hadn't been for Martha there'd have been no Watergate. The point of the matter is that if John had been watchin' that store, Watergate would never have happened."  If that's so, here's to Martha Mitchell the unsung hero of that scandal. And if the reality show villain Omarosa's ploy proves that Trump knew about the hacking in advance, whatever her motives, she'll be a hero too.


Becalmed with sagging sails

by Tom Sullivan

A bridge collapsed yesterday in Genoa, Italy, killing at least 39.

A German journalist seems to have hit on an unlikely approach to covering the country's far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. Journalist Thomas Walde of ZDF asked AfD leader Alexander Gauland policy questions having nothing to do with refugees:

The resulting 19-minute interview, in which Gauland struggles to answer basic questions about his party’s positions on such issues, has been lauded by opponents of the AfD as masterful. Supporters of the AfD and Gauland himself panned it as biased. ZDF journalist Thomas Walde, who conducted the interview, repeatedly pushed Gauland to clarify or explain statements made by his fellow party members—and asked more than once about proposed policy “alternatives” from a party that counts the word “alternative” as part of its name.
Asked about the party’s position on Germany’s retirement system and his AfD colleague Jörg Meuthen’s suggestion that there should be a “system change,” Gauland said his party had not voted on or released any specific plan for reforms. “We’re discussing this and have no determined concept,” he said. (Asked whether this meant that his party had, in fact, no “alternative” for Germany on this topic, Gauland replied there would be one after the next major party meeting, “not now.”) Referring to the party’s frequent rhetoric about wanting to “protect” the German people (presumably from migrants and increasing immigration), Walde then asked Gauland for the AfD’s position on “protecting” local renters from big international vacation rental companies like Airbnb—a major theme in Berlin, where previously-low rents are rising rapidly. “At the moment I can’t give you an answer on that,” Gauland said. “That has not been voted on in our party program.” On digitalization, which is a major topic of discussion among other political parties here, Gauland was asked to expand on an AfD colleague’s brief comments on the topic’s importance on the floor of the Bundestag. “I can’t explain that, and you’d need to ask an MP,” Gauland said, adding that he personally has “no close relationship to the internet.”
My German never was good enough to follow an interview on policy (interview link above), so I'm taking the word of Emily Schultheis, a Berlin-based freelance journalist (and her Atlantic editors) that the interviewer simply asked Gauland the kinds of policy questions the program "Berlin Direkt Sommerinterviews" typically asks guests. But from her description, Gauland came off like Karl Marx in a Monty Python sketch being quizzed on British soccer trivia.

"Ultimately," she write, "the interview also highlighted the strategy some German politicians have told me they see as the most effective one against the AfD: to hold them to the same standards as other politicians, and watch them fail to deliver anything substantive."

With no xenophobic winds to fill his sails, the AfD's Gauland found himself becalmed. There is a lesson in there for a U.S. press that cannot help but cover the Donald Trump rallies that keep his sails full. But political drama makes infotainment too ratings-rich for many American reporters to bother asking about policies actually impacting people's lives — infrastructure, for example — much less stop fringe figures from somehow making bridge collapses the fault of brown-skinned immigrants.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Good Trumpie, bad Trumpie?

by digby

This is one of the weirdest sub-plots in this whole Trump saga. Usually I can see through the machinations of these Republicans but I have to admit that this one stumps me:
The husband of White House adviser Kellyanne Conway appeared to hammer President Donald Trump for making false statements and attacking allies, adding to a long list of criticisms he's lobbed against the President online.

Since last year, George Conway, a prominent attorney whom Trump considered nominating for solicitor general, has been posting and retweeting tweets critical of the President. Conway's latest criticism took aim at the President for his response to former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman's unflattering accusations against Trump and his White House and campaign staffs.

After the President tweeted a suggestion that he kept Manigault Newman at the White House "because she only said GREAT things about me," Washington Post writer Philip Bump asked on Twitter Tuesday what would happen in a similar situation at a publicly traded company. How would a board react to their CEO telling them an unqualified employee wasn't terminated "because the employee constantly praised him"?

I'm sure Kellyanne would have told all in her big insider account of the Trump admnistration if it weren't for that NDA...

Advance knowledge?

by digby

"I'm going to continue to blow the whistle on all of this...."

It's entirely possible that she's completely full of shit with this but considering he panic coming from the White House about these tapes. She's obviously been recording for a long time. She was in the campaign from the beginning and in the White House for a year. Who knows what she knows?

Dot dot dot ... dot dot

by digby

Colbert's take on Omarosa is just the best ...

The expedient purge

by digby

Attorney Bradley Moss points out that the purge of the top levels of he FBI and DOJ is coming to completion:

There was no doubt a viable—although arguably attenuated—policy justification supporting Strzok’s firing. Having represented government employees at the FBI and across the intelligence community in similar disciplinary proceedings for 11 years, however, I can tell you that the manner in which this particular saga came to a conclusion was in no way consistent with standard FBI practice.

No matter what some in the media might tell you, it is not impossible to fire government officials if there is a valid basis for doing so. When it comes to the FBI, that task is far easier because—with very limited exceptions that likely do not apply to Strzok—FBI officials are effectively “at-will” employees. The Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, which governs the disciplinary due process system for the entire U.S. government, specifically excludes the bureau—as well as several other agencies within the intelligence community—from its statutory scope. In effect, FBI officials receive whatever internal due process the agency decides to provide to them out of a matter of discretion.

What was so unusual in the context of Strzok’s firing, however, was the direct intervention of Deputy Director David Bowdich into the process. Just like in any other FBI disciplinary proceeding, Strzok was initially afforded the right to appeal the proposed termination of his employment to Candace M. Will, the head of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility. I have appeared before Will several times on behalf of FBI clients and I can state from personal experience that she is well-credentialed and compassionate, but ultimately very strict. She is a firm believer in the notion that the FBI has to hold itself to the highest ethical and moral standards and that is often reflected in her determinations. In 11 years of practice, I cannot think of a single time I have ever managed to persuade Will to reverse a proposed termination of an FBI official’s employment.

Nonetheless, according to a statement from Strzok’s attorney, Will chose not to uphold the proposed termination of Strzok’s employment. Instead, she concluded that it was appropriate to instead demote Strzok and suspend him for 60 days. She apparently also concluded that Strzok would be afforded what is known as a “last chance agreement,” which is effectively a written understanding between the agency and the employee that even the slightest instance of misconduct going forward can and will likely result in immediate termination. That Will reached this conclusion is very surprising and, in my professional opinion, speaks to just how thin the case for firing Strzok likely was.

That Deputy Director Bowdich chose to overrule Will is what takes this matter so far outside the ordinary practice of the FBI disciplinary process. I have never seen senior FBI leadership unilaterally and directly intervene in such a manner, whether in my client’s favor or otherwise. If Strzok had not been satisfied with Will’s determination, appealing to Deputy Director Bowdich would not even have been a formal option. His final stage of administrative appeal would have been before the Disciplinary Review Board, which is comprised of three senior FBI officials but to my knowledge does not typically (if ever) include the deputy director.

To be clear: No legal restriction likely prevented Deputy Director Bowdich from directly intervening. After all, Strzok was effectively an “at-will” employee. What is concerning here is the continuous and repeated appearance of political considerations seeping into the traditionally apolitical disciplinary process at the FBI. President Trump made no bones about his distaste for Agent Strzok, just as he similarly publicly criticized Director Comey and Director McCabe prior to their terminations. All three men played or were still playing a role in the investigation into the president’s campaign before they were fired.

With the firing of Peter Strzok, the president’s purge of senior FBI leadership who helped launch that investigation is now complete. For those wondering whether Trump would allow the bureau to do its job without political interference from the White House, I think we have our answer.

Strzok was fired for political reasons. So was McCabe. They are trying to appease King Trump in order to keep him from firing Rosenstein and/or Sessions. I think that's obvious. By throwing out some chum every couple of months they think they can keep him momentarily happy. Indeed, it appears that the new sacrifice will be Bruce Ohr, whose wife Trump currently obsessing about on his twitter feed.

They are buying time by throwing their own people overboard. One can only hope it's for a good cause.

The peace president

by digby

It's good to see the president demonstrating his isolationist peace philosophy again.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday again seized on what he called a "terrorist attack" in London to call for tougher anti-terror measures, even though the incident was still in the early stages of investigation.

"Another terrorist attack in London...These animals are crazy and must be dealt with through toughness and strength!," the US President tweeted.

Metropolitan Police in London were investigating the event -- in which a car crashed into security barriers outside of the Houses of Parliament during rush hour Tuesday morning -- as a terrorist incident. The driver, a man in his late 20's, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of terrorist offenses. He was alone in the car and no weapons were recovered at the scene.

I don't even want to think about what he would do if a major terrorist attack happened in the US right now. Or at any time in his tenure.

He made it clear during the campaign that he believes in harsh, violent retribution. (His Central Park 5 ad showed that he had held these beliefs for many decades.) People who chose to believe his silly insistence that he wouldn't have gone into Iraq meant that he was a "non-interventionist" were fooling themselves. He might not have gone into Iraq. That was a particular hobby horse of the neo-con right and the Bush family. But whatever he did do in retaliation for 9/11 would have been even more bloody. He's a violent, dominating monster.

Back in 2012, Trump said this at Liberty University with his pal Jerry Falwell Jr giving him the full adoring Pence:
"I always say don't let people take advantage -- this goes for a country, too, by the way -- don't let people take advantage. Get even. And you know, if nothing else, others will see that and they're going to say, 'You know, I'm going to let Jim Smith or Sarah Malone, I'm going to let them alone because they're tough customers.'"

"They will never mess with us ...."


No, it's not surprising that he called Omarosa a dog this morning

by digby


Well, he has shown he is a disgusting asshole in every way for years (and his followers love him for it.) This report, from October 2016, was particularly egregious:
Just in case you thought Donald Trump was insufficiently awful: He repeatedly called a deaf actress “retarded,” three sources tell The Daily Beast.

Trump, who was accused on Wednesday of making sexual comments to Marlee Matlin, an Oscar-winning actress who once competed on Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice, also apparently had a habit of insulting, mimicking, and demeaning as mentally handicapped his star female contestant—all because she was deaf.

In 2011, Matlin, who is still the only deaf actor or actress to win an Academy Award for best actress, appeared on Trump’s NBC reality-TV series. By the end of the season, she had come in second place and earned her fair share of compliments from Trump in the aired footage. But according to three longtime staffers who worked on Matlin’s season of Celebrity Apprentice, Trump would regularly disrespect the actress and would even treat her as if she were mentally disabled.

Sometimes the insults would be behind her back; other times they would be right in front of her.

Due to extensive non-disclosure agreements signed by members involved with the production, every one of the sources asked to be quoted anonymously for fear of legal retribution.

“[Trump] would often equate that she was mentally retarded,” said one source, who described how kind Matlin and her interpreter Jack Jason were.

During the taping of the show, Trump would often scribble down notes while sitting at the table of “the boardroom”—the show’s primary set. A person familiar with the notes who helped clean up after tapings said that on one of the pieces of paper, Trump wrote: “Marlee, is she retarded??”

Just don't say he and his followers are deplorable. That hurts their feelings.

Of course he uses the n-word. Of course he does.

"The lies, the deception, the dishonesty..."

by digby

August 10, 2016:

Two years later:

At least 125 Republican campaigns and conservative political groups spent more than $3.5 million at President Donald Trump’s resorts, hotels and restaurants since January 2017, the month he was sworn in, according to an analysis by McClatchy.

The money paid for catering for a fundraiser at the Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla. , a night’s stay at Trump’s golf club in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., and many meals at Trump International Hotel in Washington through June 30, according to the most recent information provided to the Federal Election Commission.

The list includes Trump supporters like House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, Rep. Roger Williams of Texas and Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, chairman of the Freedom Caucus, a group of influential conservative members.

By comparison, candidates and political groups spent less than $35,000 at Trump properties for the entire two-year 2014 election cycle, according to FEC records. The biggest spender was former Rep. Allen West’s leadership fund, which spent more than $15,000 on fundraising expenses at Mar-a-Lago.

America First Action, a super PAC dedicated to electing federal candidates who support Trump’s agenda, has been one of the biggest spenders since 2017, spending more than $225,000 on rental fees, catering, lodging and meals, primarily at the the Trump hotel in Washington D.C.

“The simple fact is that our supporters and friends are excited when we do so,” the group’s spokeswoman Erin Montgomery said. “It’s a unique experience for them, they are excellent locations, and the staff are wonderful to work with.”

Trump ignored calls to fully separate from his business interests when he became president. Instead, he placed his holdings in a trust designed to hold assets for his “exclusive benefit,” which he can receive at any time.

He's still wailing about emails and "crooked Hillary" and calling for a new investigation.



Wisconsin v. Walker

by Tom Sullivan

Ever since Wisconsin's Scott Walker gave his 2015 bobble-head speech announcing an ill-fated run for president, we have waited. We have waited since Walker earlier in 2015 submitted a budget that removed from the University of Wisconsin's century-old mission a mandate to “search for truth” and “improve the human condition” and replaced them with “meet the state’s workforce needs.” Walker quickly backed away after the news blew up on social media and news sites.

We have waited since Scott Walker survived a recall election in 2012, and since he signed into law the state's controversial photo ID requirement in May of 2011. Since before that, even, when Ian Walker pranked Walker into thinking he was on the phone with David Koch, the "Tea Party sugar daddy." That was February 2011, at the height of Walker's battle to strip collective bargaining rights from Wisconsin's public sector unions.

This fall, Walker is up for reelection again, finally. Wisconsinites decide today which of over a half dozen Democrats on Tuesday's primary ballot will get a shot at replacing "the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage their subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin."

Lapping his opponents by +/- 20 points in RCP's averages is Tony Evers, the state's Superintendent of Public Instruction. Evers may have name recognition, but a Marquette poll indicates 38 percent of voters are still undecided and others in the Democratic pack have won name-brand endorsements, Vox notes:

Mahlon Mitchell, the president of the Professional Fire Fighters Association, has the support of California Sen. Kamala Harris. Kelda Helen Roys, a former state Assembly member, has the backing of New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (and Wisconsin’s most famed indie band, Bon Iver).
Whichever candidate wins tonight, mounting a statewide campaign for governor after a late primary leaves any challenger with a hard pull against a multi-term incumbent. Walker has raised $4.8 million for his campaign so far.

The Wisconsin Republican Party is not taking chances. Politico reports Republicans have already launched attack ads against four prospective Democratic candidates: the three mentioned above plus former Wisconsin Democratic Party chairman Matt Flynn. Once the Democrats have a nominee, the contrast will crystallize, says Republican strategist Mark Graul:
"The governor has been in sort of a vacuum. Either you're for Scott Walker or you're not for Scott Walker. And after Tuesday I think it'll be 'either you're for Scott Walker or whether it be Evers or Roys or Mitchell,'" Graul said. "So there will be a clear contrast of what people's choices are going to be in November."
The sitting president has helpfully endorsed the governor he once described as “a mess” and "not smart." (Trump has a fixation about smartness, doesn't he?) Speaking of, Trump just endorsed Scott Walker after saying it would be "great" if motorcyclists boycotted Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson. From The Independent:
“Scott Walker of Wisconsin is a tremendous Governor who has done incredible things for that Great State,” he wrote. “He has my complete & total Endorsement! He brought the amazing Foxconn to Wisconsin with its 15,000 Jobs-and so much more. Vote for Scott on Tuesday in the Republican Primary!”
Walker and Trump belong together.

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Monday, August 13, 2018

The comedian in chief

by digby

He's not funny. But he thinks he is ...
"We are proudly giving our troops the biggest pay increase in a decade, and I know you don't want it because you're very patriotic. Just save the money, got to pay down debt. Does anybody not want it? Please raise your hand."

"What's going on here? Are these real patriots? I don't know, general, I don't know."


For those of you who don't live in my personal internet hellscape, here are some comments from people who watched that speech on Youtube:

Our President impresses me all the time by rambling off names of people, like he knows them personally, never needing a document to refer to...a true patriot, one of "we the people". I never trusted any other President before, except Kennedy, but I was in the fourth grade at the time....I thank God for President Trump. It is not politics as usual, things will be turned around to benefit all of us by stopping the corruption that went on for decades.

Every time I turn around, he is speaking somewhere letting us know what he is doing, I have never seen so much transparency by another president, never seen another president work so hard and long for us....You make me proud to be an American, sometimes bringing tears to my eyes.....I want to thank you President Trump, thank you! OOOXXX

The reason some people do not believe our president's words is because we have been lied to for so long, that they are unable to trust a true patriot when he is standing tall.....totally understandable, but have faith, truth will win!

President Trump wasn't originally my first choice for president, but I thank God daily that he was elected and for the expectation surpassing job that he has already done. In spite of 100% opposition from the democrats, added opposition from republicans, and unrelenting negativity and lies from the mainstream media, the entire situation in the US has turned around to the positive. America is truly being made great again!

I'm not letting him off the hook until he punishes Omarosa. This kind of dissent towards the highest administration should not be tolerated by any government of any country especially the United States Government.

President Trump isn't just playing the role of president, Donald J Trump is the best President the United States has ever had!!!!! Thank You Mr Donald J Trump!!!!!!

If the deep state tries to take this great Pres. down THERE WILL BE CIVIL WAR!! We the PEOPLE will rise up!! I can feel it.

When these players take a knee. IT pisses me off when I was 18 yrs. and fighting for my life and brothers lives and watched my brothers hauled out of Vietnam hanging from the belly of a Huey by their boots not in body bags yet.

WOW I see we still have the #HatefulLeft With Us. Thank Q Lastest World News Updates for your work

Love this President ..one of the greatest the world has ever produced

Canada thanks God that the U.S. are our neighbors. We will vote Justin the soy boy out as soon as we can and be a strong partner for democracy, capitalism and a western culture way of life.

Obummer made a lot of cuts to the military because he was not patriotic and didn't care for our troops !!! Thank God President Trump is bringing it back up !!!!!

and the OFFICE

Maybe democracy isn't such a good idea after all ...

By the way, the bill he signed after he gave that absurd speech was called the John McCain Defense Authorization Bill. He never mentioned his name.

And he has the gall to call someone else a lowlife...


Disloyal! Sad!

by digby

Trump should have gotten that loyalty oath up front:

A federal judge appointed by President Donald Trump ruled Monday that special counsel Robert Mueller's probe is constitutional and legitimate, rejecting an effort by a Russian company -- accused of financing a massive political influence operation in the United States -- to stamp out the ongoing investigation.

Judge Dabney Friedrich, who Trump appointed to the U.S. District Court of Washington D.C. last year, is the fourth judge to quash efforts to upend Mueller's legitimacy and cancel his investigation.

They are looking for a judge in one of these cases to rule that the Mueller investigation is illegal so they can get it into the appellate pipeline. So far, no dice.