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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

 
It's not in his nature

by digby



Via TPM:

France’s government has fired back at a flurry of critical tweets by Donald Trump, suggesting the U.S. president lacked “common decency” by launching his broadside on a day when France was mourning victims of the November 2015 terror attacks.

Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said Wednesday: “We were commemorating the assassination of 130 of our compatriots three years ago in Paris and Saint-Denis, and so I will reply in English: ‘Common decency’ would have been appropriate.”

Nursing grievances from a weekend visit to France, Trump lit into French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday over his suggestion for a European defense force, over French tariffs on U.S. wine and even Macron’s approval ratings.

The tweets underscored tensions between the once-chummy leaders and displayed Trump’s irritation over criticism of how he acted in France.

Asking Trump for common decency is like asking a shark for compassion. It's just not in either one's nature.

.
 
The Oval Office is now Trump's panic room

by digby





My Salon column this morning:


President Donald Trump is not himself. And by "not himself" I mean he seems to have lost his swagger. Ever since the midterm elections, he's been churlish and petulant. His brazen braggadocio is suddenly dull and off-key. The question is what exactly has him brooding and upset.

Sure, he held a press conference the morning after the election at which he ludicrously asserted, "I’ll be honest: I think it was a great victory. And actually, some of the news this morning was that it was, in fact, a great victory." The news that morning was nothing of the kind, of course. And even he couldn't pull it off. He rapidly devolved into his patented media-bashing to change the subject and ended up looking like the worst sore loser in presidential history.

That same day he fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replaced him with someone he believed would protect him from the Mueller investigation -- a man described by George Conway -- Kellyanne Conway's husband -- as a "constitutional nobody." And that wasn't his worst day last week.

On Friday, the Wall Street Journal published a big scoop revealing that the feds have unearthed plenty of evidence that Trump had personally broken campaign finance laws. More troubling for him is that the three people given immunity -- lawyer Michael Cohen, National Enquirer publisher David Pecker and Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg -- know where a lot of other metaphorical bodies are buried. (We hope there are no real bodies involved.)

Luckily Trump had a chance to de-stress over the weekend on a nice trip to France for some military pageants, which he loves more than anything. Sadly, this got off to a bad start when he watched a Fox News show that misinterpreted a comment from French President Emmanuel Macron, who has suggested that Europe needs to create its own army to defend itself against Russia, China and the U.S., and took to Twitter to lash out. The Washington Post reports that British Prime Minister Theresa May called Air Force One during the trip to congratulate Trump on his electoral "victory" and he inexplicably exploded at her over Iran.

So the trip didn't start off well and only got worse as Trump acted like a sullen child at the ceremonies he deigned to attend. He didn't even bother to go to the one to commemorate the American dead of World War I -- which ended 100 years ago this week -- instead staying inside and tweeting threats at California as it suffered from catastrophic wildfires. He finally roused himself to attend the big final ceremony, although he couldn't bring himself to walk with the other leaders. He greeted his only real friend, Vladimir Putin, as enthusiastically as one of those dogs who throw themselves at their masters returning from a deployment to Iraq. He didn't care for his former buddy Macron chiding him by suggesting that nationalism wasn't really all that great considering the wars it precipitated, including the horrifying meat-grinder they were all there to memorialize.

He's been pouting ever since his return. He's holed up in the White House furiously posting hysterical tweets about stopping the vote count in Florida and making irresponsible declarations about Democratic fraud and cheating. The Los Angeles Times reports that Trump has "retreated into a cocoon of bitterness and resentment, according to multiple administration sources." The chaos in the White House on Monday and Tuesday was so intense that one former staffer called it, "like an episode of ‘Maury' ... the only thing that’s missing is a paternity test,” according to Politico. Rumors of firings and resignations are flying around so fast that they are bumping into each other.

In one of the weirdest Trump administration episodes yet, it was reported on Tuesday that Mira Ricardel, John Bolton's second in command at the National Security Council, had abruptly been fired. Then that was taken back, and nobody really knew what was going on until First Lady Melania Trump's office announced that Ricardel "no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House." Melania had apparently demanded Ricardel's ouster because of some issues over airplane seats during her Africa trip and the president reportedly gave the OK to fire her, saying "I don't need this s**t." (Perhaps that Wall Street Journal exposé about the hush money added a little stress in the private residence as well?)

This is all a far cry from those giddy early days of the administration when Trump went on a Victory Tour to celebrate with his adoring fans, isn't it? He had barely eked out a tiny win, not all that different from last week's GOP victory in the Senate (where Democratic candidates got 14 million more votes, at last count), but he was able to sell it as a result of his brilliance because it was so unexpected. It's likely he thought that was going to happen again -- but the "Red Wave" didn't materialize and reality is starting to bite, and bite hard.

Trump feels betrayed by all those Republicans who failed to win and made him look like a loser. He's been stabbed in the back by Emmanuel Macron, his little buddy, who hasn't found that flattering Trump got him anywhere and has stopped trying. Kim Jong-un, the man who sends him "beautiful letters" after the two of them "fell in in love," is making a fool of him by continuing to build missile sites after Trump announced to the world that North Korea's nuclear threat was over. Then there's the latest in a long line of former intimates who've turned state's evidence, possibly including his old pal Roger Stone, who appears to be on the verge of indictment. Firing Sessions, the man who committed the original sin of following the rules instead of being his "Roy Cohn," hasn't made him feel any better.

I suspect the biggest reason for all this is the ultimate betrayal: His followers failed him by not voting in great enough numbers to defy all the predictions and prove that he is the biggest winner in American political history. He may not be stable and he may not be a genius, but right now he knows that he looks like a loser. Perhaps he also instinctively realizes that may just break the spell some of his voters have been under since he was unexpectedly elected two years ago -- the belief that even though he is personally a mess and his administration is nonstop chaos, he's an unbeatable giant-slayer, an omnipotent superhero who transcends the normal definition of leadership. He lost, and his followers will never see him the same way again.

Once a con man is exposed, he blows town and moves on to the next mark. But Donald Trump is the president of the United States. He's trapped and he has nowhere else to go.

 

Re-enfranchising NC voters

by Tom Sullivan

At 49.2 percent, the 2018 election was on average the highest midterm turnout in over a century, by Ed Kilgore's reckoning. As many as 39 U.S. House seats could flip to Democrats when ballot counting is done. With Rep. Jeff Denham's (R-CA) loss in California's 10th District, the Democrats' count now stands at 34.

Even with historic turnout, there were no turnovers in North Carolina which since 2011 has lived with some of the most egregiously GOP gerrymandering in the country, not only in federal districts but state House and Senate districts as well. Voting rights advocates have won challenges against them all, but court cases have dragged on since the last census. Democrats gained state legislative seats in 2018, but the GOP held its majorities in both North Carolina chambers. The U.S. Supreme Court's conservative majority is unlikely to strike down partisan gerrymanders in the new session, so the fate of state congressional districts ruled unconstitutional gerrymanders by a panel of federal judges may stand for the last election of the ten-year cycle.

Voting rights advocates have taken another tack with state districts. Mark Joseph Stern writes at Slate:

On Tuesday, one week after the midterm election, Common Cause and the North Carolina Democratic Party brought a lawsuit on behalf of multiple voters in the state alleging that the current partisan gerrymander is unlawful under the state constitution. Their complaint illustrates, in painstaking detail, how GOP mapmakers “packed” Democratic voters into a handful of deep-blue districts, then distributed the remainder of Democrats across safe Republican districts, where their votes wouldn’t matter. They “cracked” cities into multiple mangled districts, pulling in rural Republican regions to diminish Democratic votes.
The cited examples are standard fare for districts drawn under the GOP REDMAP program. But by attacking the state districts as unconstitutional under the state constitution, advocates may have a firmer case, Stern argues:
The North Carolina Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause is more robust than its federal counterpart, guaranteeing citizens “substantially equal voting power” and “the right to vote on equal terms.” It also commands that “[a]ll elections shall be free”—that is, not manipulated by the state to predetermine the outcome.
This case ultimately will go before a North Carolina Supreme Court state Republicans have so far been unable to manipulate to their advantage through election tricks and traps. Democrats gained two seats on the court in the last two general elections. They now hold a 5-2 majority with the election last week of civil rights attorney Anita Earls.

Stern notes as well that while the ruling against the federal gerrymander likely will not survive SCOTUS review next year, a followup state challenge might succeed in time for approval of new congressional seats by the 2020 election. Success with both cases could hand state control back to Democrats in time for 2021 redistricting. (There are already Democratic pledges to support independent redistricting should that happen.) Given fair congressional districts in 2020, Freedom Caucus chair Mark Meadows (NC-11) will need to start packing up his office.


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

 
Mississippi Mud

by digby

This is gross on so many levels I don't even know what to say:



Here's her statement said when she said she'd be in the front row of a public hanging if her supporter invited her was a form of "exaggerated regard" which doesn't even make sense. To then argue that this disgusting allusion to lynching isn't as bad as the "genocide" of fetuses at the hands of black women is so grotesque I feel sick just thinking about it.

I hope the Democrats put up a fight down there. There's a reason she didn't get over the top in the first round. She's awful.


.



 
Can you see the difference?

by digby

.... I knew that you could:











By the way, I've got your Blue Wave for ya right here:




.
 
Melania makes a power move

by digby



And in the process screws over John Bolton. Maybe her cluelessness is a virtue at this point:

The president has also decided to remove Mira Ricardel, the top deputy for national security adviser John Bolton, officials said. A National Security Council spokeswoman declined to comment.

The president became involved in that decision at the urging of first lady Melania Trump, whose staff battled with Ms. Ricardel during the first lady’s trip to Africa last month over seating on the plane and requests to use National Security Council resources, according to people familiar with the matter.

The first lady’s team told the president that they suspect Ms. Ricardel is behind some negative stories about Ms. Trump and her staff.

Ms. Ricardel also repeatedly clashed with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and his Pentagon team over staffing decisions and policy differences, according to people familiar with the feud. That discord has created a chill in relations between Ms. Ricardel and Defense Department officials wary of her intentions, these people say.

Ms. Ricardel has served as a vital ally for Mr. Bolton as he settled into his West Wing role after taking the national security job in April. Mr. Bolton lost another loyalist last month when his longtime friend, Fred Fleitz, stepped down after serving just six months as chief of staff and executive secretary for the National Security Council.

This comes o n the heels of news today that Kirstjen Neilsen and John Kelly are both on the way out, Kelly also because of clashes with Melania. (Who really knows about Kelly? He's been rumored to be out since the day he got there.)

We knew they were going to clean house. What we don't know is who is coming in to replace them. And it seems that the First Lady is becoming a player in all this. Great.

Be best, Melania.




 
A budding Democratic star

by digby

Lookee here:



He had the shinin' even then.


.

 
Both sides do it again

by digby



Axios commissioned this poll to tell us that both sides do it:



Many Americans think people in the other party are ignorant, spiteful, evil and generally destroying the country, according to a new Axios poll by SurveyMonkey, aired on HBO on Sunday night. 61% of Democrats see Republicans as "racist/bigoted/sexist." 31% of Republicans say they view Democrats in the same light.

If Americans are this convinced that the other side isn't just wrong, but dumb and evil, they'll never be able to find enough common ground to solve real problems. And they're more likely to elect leaders who can't do it, either.

The suspicion runs so deep that a third of all Americans say they'd be disappointed if a close family member married someone whose partisanship didn't match their own, according to the poll for "Axios on HBO."

The percentage saying they'd be at least somewhat bothered by this jumps to 50% among liberal Democrats; it's 32% among conservative Republicans.

For both parties, more moderate affiliates are about 20 percentage points less likely to say they'd be disappointed.



About half of Democrats think Republicans are ignorant (54%) and spiteful (44%). Likewise, about half of Republicans think Democrats are ignorant (49%) and spiteful (54%).

21% of Democrats think Republicans are evil, and about the same share of Republicans (23%) think Democrats are evil.
How Democrats view Republicans:

Of the 22% who provided open-ended descriptions of Republicans, responses included: selfish, greedy, corrupt, spineless, fearful and bad.

How Republicans view Democrats:

Of the 26% who provided open-ended descriptions of Democrats, responses included: socialist, angry, hypocritical, uniformed, power-hungry and violent.

The other side: Good news! A handful of people think their fellow Americans are OK.

4% of both parties think the other side is fair.
3–4% of both parties think the other side is thoughtful.
2–3% of both parties think the other side is kind.
Yes, but: The share of Americans who have more generous impressions is roughly equal to the poll's margin of error, which is 3%.

The bottom line: Both parties are being redefined around the extreme emotions shaping extremely ugly views of each other. That means that, as the midterm elections proved, there's less room for moderates or centrists in the current political environment — a dynamic that's likely to get worse before it gets better.

If you want to know where all this began in the modern era, this tells the tale. (Hint: it wasn't the left.)

Language: A Key Mechanism of Control

Newt Gingrich's 1996 GOPAC memo

As you know, one of the key points in the GOPAC tapes is that "language matters." In the video "We are a Majority," Language is listed as a key mechanism of control used by a majority party, along with Agenda, Rules, Attitude and Learning. As the tapes have been used in training sessions across the country and mailed to candidates we have heard a plaintive plea: "I wish I could speak like Newt."

That takes years of practice. But, we believe that you could have a significant impact on your campaign and the way you communicate if we help a little. That is why we have created this list of words and phrases.

This list is prepared so that you might have a directory of words to use in writing literature and mail, in preparing speeches, and in producing electronic media. The words and phrases are powerful. Read them. Memorize as many as possible. And remember that like any tool, these words will not help if they are not used.

While the list could be the size of the latest "College Edition" dictionary, we have attempted to keep it small enough to be readily useful yet large enough to be broadly functional. The list is divided into two sections: Optimistic Positive Governing words and phrases to help describe your vision for the future of your community (your message) and Contrasting words to help you clearly define the policies and record of your opponent and the Democratic party.

Please let us know if you have any other suggestions or additions. We would also like to know how you use the list. Call us at GOPAC or write with your suggestions and comments. We may include them in the next tape mailing so that others can benefit from your knowledge and experience.

Often we search hard for words to define our opponents. Sometimes we are hesitant to use contrast. Remember that creating a difference helps you. These are powerful words that can create a clear and easily understood contrast. Apply these to the opponent, their record, proposals and their party.

abuse of power
anti- (issue): flag, family, child, jobs
betray
bizarre
bosses
bureaucracy
cheat
coercion
"compassion" is not enough
collapse(ing)
consequences
corrupt
corruption
criminal rights
crisis
cynicism
decay
deeper
destroy
destructive
devour
disgrace
endanger
excuses
failure (fail)
greed
hypocrisy
ideological
impose
incompetent
insecure
insensitive
intolerant
liberal
lie
limit(s)
machine
mandate(s)
obsolete
pathetic
patronage
permissive attitude
pessimistic
punish (poor ...)
radical
red tape
self-serving
selfish
sensationalists
shallow
shame
sick
spend(ing)
stagnation
status quo
steal
taxes
they/them
threaten
traitors
unionized
urgent (cy)
waste
welfare

Rush Limbaugh was made an honorary member of the Republican freshman class of 1994. Roger Ailes started Fox News in 1996.

Everyone talks about right wing backlash and constantly warns the . But maybe, just maybe, it was the right's calculated demonization that caused this in the first place? Just throwing that out there ...

.


 
Collapse

by digby



Four weeks ago he was at 44% approval. He's lost 6 points.

Why? Well, I'd guess that a few of his voters have been appalled by his behavior starting with the odious way he acted after the MAGAbomber and the Tree of Life shooter. Then there's sending troops to the border and his bizarre post-election press conference and evryhing else since then.

But if I had to guess I'd say that it's because his "winner" bubble has burst and some of his voters finally realize that he isn't teflon and they've had to accept that his absurdity is a liability.



 
Psychiatrists see a Trump breakdown

by digby













Macron did not say that he wanted to arm up to fight the US, (even though you couldn't really blame him) he was talking about cybersecurity. Trump got his information from Fox News so naturally he's completely wrong. He's just flailing about because he made a fool out of himself in France this week-end.

But he's also melting down. Tim Dickinson at Rolling Stone spoke to some psychiatrists:

Following a slew of tweets after the midterm elections congratulating himself on losing control of the House to Democrats, Trump had one clear-eyed, honest promise to Americans: “If the Democrats think they are going to waste Taxpayer Money investigating us at the House level, then we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of Classified Information, and much else, at the Senate level. Two can play that game!”

Never mind that it was unclear what “Classified Information” he might be referring to, he ran with this stance at his subsequent press conference, assuring Americans that the bipartisan kumbaya that he was just longing to usher in would be immediately derailed by any attempt on the part of this new House to use its subpoena power to investigate him for corruption. “No,” he responded emphatically to a question about working together for America’s benefit even in the face of heightened investigation. “If they do that, then it’s just — all it is, is a warlike posture.” The threat was clear: Come after me, and I’ll come after you harder — even at America’s expense.

It’s a threat that explains why the relief that comes with taking back the House is tempered by awareness of how Trump will likely respond to resistance outside his base that he can’t ignore. And it’s a threat that many psychologists would have anticipated, especially those who have long been sounding the alarm about Trump’s mental health — or lack thereof. In April 2017, just a few months into Trump’s presidency, I interviewed a number of these professionals about what it might mean to have someone afflicted with Trump’s various proposed mental maladies — narcissistic personality disorder, anti-social personality disorder, sociopathy and mania among them — in the highest office. At the time, many were careful not to proffer a diagnosis of Trump, a man they’d never personally treated; they couched their concerns in a projection of how someone so afflicted might behave.

Since then, times have changed. The change.org petition “Mental Health Professionals Declare Trump is Mentally Ill And Must Be Removed” topped out at 70,760 signatures before it closed, many more shrinks have gone on the record with their diagnoses, and the attendees of an April 2017 Yale ethics conference overwhelmingly concluded that, apropos Trump, their psychiatric “duty to warn” in cases of danger to public health and safety far outweighed any other professional obligations.

“It just seems so quaint now,” says John Gartner, a clinical psychologist who started the petition, of his profession’s reluctance to use its expertise to publicly voice concerns. “I mean, everyone’s shell-shocked. It’s almost beyond this fine point of diagnosis — just the sense that someone who is very ill and dangerous is completely out of control, and no one seems to be stopping him.”

When Trump first took office, of course, it was too early to say with certainty exactly how his psychology would play out. But it was predicted that he would systematically fire those closest to him; that the laws he pushed and the policies he enacted would not benefit America overall, but would benefit him (by either lining his pockets or stoking the affirmation loop of his basest base); that he would attack civil liberties; display further delusions; lie prodigiously and lash out against anyone who opposed him. Now we’ve seen that these predictions have come to pass.

“To be honest, I don’t think he’s done anything that I didn’t anticipate,” says Lance Dodes, a former professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School who, when I interviewed him previously, said that Trump’s attacks on the media would only increase and that his reality-testing would only get worse.

But of course, being right is cold comfort for mental health professionals, especially when it comes to Trump’s sense of his own persecution as the Democratic House prepares to take office armed with the power of subpoena, his approval rating continues to lag (it’s now at 42 percent), and his fear of the Mueller investigation and paranoia about traitors in his midst continue to increase (“one of the fundamental components of narcissism is paranoia,” points out Gartner).

“People like Donald Trump who have severe narcissistic disturbances can’t tolerate being criticized,” says Dodes, “so the more they are challenged in this essential way, the more out of control they become. They change reality to suit themselves in their own mind.” And, as Dodes explains, it creates a vicious cycle: The more out of control Trump becomes, the more reason others have to challenge him, which only makes him more out of control. When he tells a rally crowd that America will become “a third-world country” if he gets impeached, that’s this defensive/delusional coupling playing out in real time.

According to Gartner, as the pressure mounts — as it likely will with a Democratic House investigating the Trump syndicate — the situation will only continue to deteriorate. “The more desperate he is, the more aggressively and the more recklessly he’s going to lash out — and not just lash out on Twitter, but really lash out in ways that are destructive to the bones of our institutions. So, he’ll try to declare criminal investigations on his enemies or anyone who criticizes him. He’ll fire everyone involved in the Mueller investigations. He’ll fire Sessions” —which, of course, he actually did last Wednesday. “He’ll ramp up his attack on civil liberties and the rule of law. He’ll escalate his incitement to violence, whether it’s supporting white nationalists or demonizing minority populations. Things that we think, ‘Oh, he could never do that, because that would be so outrageous,’ he can and he will. There’s no restraints here. There’s nothing he won’t do. And if it’s enormously destructive, that’s not actually a negative for him, that’s a positive.”

Especially because the more destructive something is, the more it will create a distraction from what riled him up in the first place. “Anything you can imagine is not off the table,” Gartner continues. “Starting a war is very possible to distract from his wrongdoing and try to rally the country around him — that whole wag the dog scenario isn’t a joke. I think it’s actually very, very possible. I think he would love to do that. It’s going to be like a scorched-earth swath of destruction.”

The obvious target is Iran. But he might just settle for a war with Mexico.

I'm worried that some terrorist is going to decide this is the perfect time to poke the bear.

We are in a dangerous moment.



.
 

Poisoning the epistemological well

by Tom Sullivan

The Enlightenment was so 18th century. In the 21st, the spirit that gave birth to the United States of America is under attack by people who value form over substance, for whom values themselves are simply patriotic affectations.

Paul Krugman comments on how Donald Trump's thralls reject the very idea of objective fact and by extension, one might add, learning that teaches any. “'Fake news' doesn’t mean actual false reporting; it means any report that hurts Trump, no matter how solidly verified," Krugman writes. "Any assertion that helps Trump ... is true precisely because it helps him."

Krugman continues:

The attempt by Trump and his party to shut down the legally mandated Florida recount with claims, based on no evidence, of large-scale voting fraud fits right into this partisan epistemology. Do Republicans really believe that there were vast numbers of fraudulent or forged ballots? Even asking that question is a category error. They don’t “really believe” anything, except that they should get what they want. Any vote count that might favor a Democrat is bad for them; therefore it’s fraudulent, no evidence needed.

The same worldview explains Republicans’ addiction to conspiracy theories. After all, if people keep insisting on the truth of something that hurts their party, it can’t be out of respect for the facts — because in their world, there are no neutral facts.
Stephen Colbert the character defined "truthiness" in 2005. Using truthiness to form national policy long predates the Trump presidency.

Amanda Marcote offers some advice for children of the Enlightenment "still romantically attached to the idea of reasoned debate." Friends who ask how they can reason with right-wingers are compounding the category error Krugman defines in assuming "that for every problem, there must be a solution — an assumption that the evidence simply doesn't support."

Marcotte's approach is not to waste one's time, explaining, "you can't reason someone out of a belief they didn't reason themselves into." Arguing facts is pointless with people who are lying to themselves at you. She suggests:
Instead, try to raise the social costs of lying for the purpose of trolling -- as high as possible. For randos on social media, shame is admittedly unlikely. Blocking them and depriving them of the interaction they crave is the only real method. But on those occasions when you're engaged with a coworker, friend or family member, that's a time that social shaming — which liberals are often reluctant to use, but which can be really effective — is helpful.

Don't debate facts. Focus instead on impacts. Instead of getting into an argument about whether climate change is real, point out that lying in order to leave the world a worse place for one's children is gross behavior. Don't debate whether #MeToo has gone "too far" or whether Christine Blasey Ford is lying. Instead, shame the person saying these things by bluntly stating your support for victims and opposition to sexual abuse. I find that making it personal can often be really helpful. If a conservative in my life praises Trump for trolling the press with his "enemy of the people" language, I might ask that person if they really think that I am a force for evil and that I should be censored, or perhaps imprisoned.

Be calm and dispassionate, however, and state things matter-of-factly. Any sign of emotion will be taken as evidence of "triggering" and is likely encourage to encourage still more trolling behavior. But I've personally had a lot of luck with calm but adamant shaming, perhaps because it makes behavior the focal point, rather than some pointless debate over what the facts are.
In essence, don't give antagonists the satisfaction of you wasting your breath arguing a point when theirs is to poison the epistemological well. That is, "avoid speaking to liars and instead speak about them." Good advice.


Monday, November 12, 2018

 
Whiny Little Twit Presidential Tweet of the Day

by digby




You cannot make this stuff up.

I wish I could understand why so many adults in the country like this five-year-old beahvior. The bragging the blaming, the whining.

I think we may have misdiagnosed the source of the Republican meltdown. Yes, they are voting for racists and misogynists without a second thought which is revealing of their characters. But the bigger problem, it seems to me, is that the Republican coalition is suffering from a case of mass arrested development. You can only appreciate this arrogant, ignorant man-child if you are equally immature.

What happened to these people? Fox? Rush? Bad schools? Lead in the water? It's a real conundrum.


.


 
What do the troops think about Trump?

by digby




They don't think as highly of him as they used to:

President Donald Trump’s approval rating among active-duty military personnel has slipped over the last two years, leaving today’s troops evenly split over whether they’re happy with the commander in chief’s job performance, according to the results of a new Military Times poll of active-duty service members.

About 44 percent of troops had a favorable view of Trump’s presidency, the poll showed, compared to 43 percent who disapproved.

The results from the survey, conducted over the course of September and October, suggest a gradual decline in troops’ support of Trump since he was elected in fall 2016, when a similar Military Times poll showed that 46 percent of troops approved of Trump compared to 37 percent who disapproved. That nine-point margin of support now appears gone.

During that same period, the number of neutral respondents has dwindled from almost 17 percent to about 13 percent, suggesting political polarization inside the military community has intensified in recent years.

Still, the latest survey shows that military service members are more supportive of the president than the American public at large, which, according to the most recent Gallup poll, approves of Trump at a rate of 43 percent compared to the 53 percent who disapprove.

“The general rule of thumb with the military is that it moves along with public opinion but lags conservative,” said Peter Feaver, a former adviser to former President George W. Bush who is now a political science professor at Duke University and an author of several books on military culture.

“In this case, we’re seeing military members shifting along with the public, but still staying a little more pro-Trump than the rest of the country.”
But even there we see the familiar polarization.
The new survey results also show sharp divides within the ranks. Enlisted men show Trump the most overwhelming support. Military women, meanwhile, have a much harsher view of Trump’s time in office. Officers still have a lower opinion of his presidency than enlisted troops.
[...]
Reflecting views in the broader American public, Trump’s support is higher in the military among men and enlisted troops, and significantly lower among women, minorities and officers.

A CNN poll released earlier this month put Trump’s disapproval rating among women at 62 percent. 
In the Military Times poll, that figure topped 68 percent, with only about 26 percent of military women expressing a favorable view of the president.

Among military men, Trump still enjoys a 47 percent favorable rating and a 38 percent disapproval mark.
[...]
Dissatisfaction with Trump among minorities in the ranks was less pronounced than the gender gap, but still significant. Only 29 percent have a favorable view of Trump, as opposed to 47 percent with an unfavorable view.

Since the December 2016 poll, the biggest shift among minorities has been into the “no opinion” viewpoint of his presidency. Two years ago, only about 15 percent of that group did not have a positive or negative view of Trump. In this poll, that figure rose to nearly 25 percent, drawing from both the favorable and unfavorable camps.

As has been the case in the past, the poll shows that officers are less enamored with Trump than enlisted troops. More than half have an unfavorable view of his presidency, against 41 percent who have a favorable view.

Still, that’s an improvement for Trump, who saw only a 31 percent favorable rating from officers in the poll one year ago.

Enlisted service members trend in the opposite direction. More have a positive opinion of the president (about 45 percent) than a negative view (about 41 percent), but those numbers are down from a 49 percent favorable, 34 percent unfavorable split two years ago.

In most categories, troops were more likely to fall into the “very favorable” or “very unfavorable” groups when asked about Trump’s presidency, suggesting the military may be even more polarized than the overall differences suggest.

The military isn't all that different from the rest of the country. But Trump hasn't done himself any favors by sending all those troops down to the border for a political stunt or refusing to visit the troops in the field even once during his presidency, which is just weird. Acting like an ass on Veteran's Day is never a good look although his followers seem determined to overlook all his flaws.

Still, it's interesting. I'm sure he believes the military is fully supportive --- and they are slightly more supportive than the general population. They're mostly Republicans after all. But they don't really love him all that much and the numbers are going the wrong way.

.








 
Trump is making Naziism great again

by digby




This is just one little story among many. But it's so telling. It happened in Wisconsin, not Alabama. And according to this twitter thread, it's infected the whole culture of this high school. Female and racial minority students report constant harasment from this disgusting people and say that when they reported it to the school authorities they were brushed off.

And apparently, theboys bragged when they took that picture that they got "the black guy" to do it too. If you look closely you'll see that they are flashing that "ok" white power sign as well. Nice kids.

The local paper reports that the school officials are suddenly concerned:

A photo that appears to show the boys from the Baraboo High School Class of 2019 spring prom is generating outrage online over what some say looks like a Nazi salute made by a majority of those in the photo.

The photo was taken on the Sauk County Courthouse steps and includes about 50 students, though not all are holding their arms outstretched.

The photo quickly spread on twitter Sunday night and Monday morning with the hashtag #barabooproud, which often is used by the Baraboo School District to promote its activities and athletics programs. The photo also was shared on Facebook.

Baraboo School District Administrator Lori Mueller addressed the controversy on twitter and said school officials were investigating.

"The photo of students posted to #BarabooProud is not reflective of the educational values and beliefs of the School District of Baraboo. The District will pursue any and all available and appropriate actions, including legal, to address," Mueller tweeted.

Baraboo High School was placed in a "soft hold" Monday due to the photo, according to Administrative Assistant Angie Cowling. She said a soft hold prevents students from leaving school premises — such as for off-campus lunch — unless they have permission from a parent and approval through the office.

The Baraboo Police Department said officers are assisting with the school district's investigation into a "controversial photo."

According to reports in that twitter thread I referenced above, this stuff has been going on in that school for a while and they did nothing about it. They used to just do this:



Now they've gone full-on Nazi.

Trump thinks they are very fine people I'm sure.

Good lord. Look at this mascot. It's real:



.








 
The sanctity of an arbitrary vote counting deadline

by digby





Back when I first started blogging, the 2000 election was still fresh in many of our minds and we used to chatter a lot about Republican electoral tactics. (Also known as GOP cheating.) 

I wrote this comment way back in 2003, about a different election dust-up in New Jersey, in which the Republicans once again decided that their best friend, the arbitrary deadline, overrides every other consideration, particularly the counting of all the votes.:


Despite their varying objections, there was one overriding matter of principle that every last Republican agreed upon, --- a matter so serious and of such fundamental importance to our system that any legalistic hairsplitting or judicial interpretations of it are, by their very nature, antithetical to the practice of democracy. 

This principle is not, you understand, that old liberal clap trap about “counting all the votes” or “whoever wins the most votes wins” or even something silly like “short of incapacity or corruption, office holders who have been certified in a legal election should be allowed to serve their entire term.” These are nice concepts but they don’t carry any serious philosophical weight. 

No, Republicans hold that the single most important principle upon which our electoral system rests is the sanctity of the arbitrary deadline which under no circumstances shall ever be overruled, even if it conflicts with another arbitrary deadline, is incomprehensibly vague or was instituted by the legislature for purely administrative purposes that had no bearing on anyone but a couple of election workers in outlying suburbs (if anyone can even remember why it was instituted in the first place.) 

If an arbitrary deadline is on the books it is sacrosanct under any and all circumstances and no court in the land has a right to tamper with it. 

This is because a deep and abiding fidelity to bureaucratic timetables that mean absolutely nothing is the very foundation of our democracy. You can look it up. 

*This rule only applies to those elections in which Republicans might lose if all the votes are counted.

They are still at it 15 years later:




And some of them are so dumb they are just literally saying that any vote counted after election day is null and void:


.
 
Trump getting trolled

by digby





It's raining in Washington today just as it was in Paris over the week-end. So naturally, Trump doesn't want to mess up his hair and go to lay the ceremonial wreath.

The French Army trolled him hard:



Translation:

“There is #MondayMotivation rain, but it's okay to 😅 stay motivated.”



But his hair will be ruined!




"But the bone spurs ... poor baby!"



.


 
The World Turned Upside Down 

by tristero

I can't believe it, but it's true. The NY Times has actually published an op-ed arguing for Democratic progressive mobilization rather than tacking to the center or prostituting our values for   white nationalist votes. What next? How about dropping torture-enablers like John Yoo from the roster of Times op-ed contributors? Or balancing the opinions of so-called never-Trump conservatives with liberals who were actually right about the moral, social, and economic catastrophe that was the George Bush administration?

Anyway, it's good to read some common sense advice for Dems in the Times rather urgent calls for accommodation to Trumpists. Thanks, Steve Phillips:

Yes, the strategy of mobilizing voters of color and progressive whites is limited by the demographic composition of particular states. But what Mr. Obama showed twice is that it works in enough places to win the White House. And that is exactly the next electoral challenge. 
Democrats can go the old route that has consistently failed to come close to winning and demoralized supporters down the line, or they can do the math and follow the example of Ms. Abrams and Mr. Gillum and Mr. Obama before them. Invest in the infrastructure and staffing to engage and mobilize voters. Stand as tall, strongly and proudly for the nation’s multiracial rainbow as Mr. Trump stands against it. And mobilize and call forth a new American majority in a country that gets browner by the hour and will be even more diverse by November 2020.





 
This is real

by digby




As advertised on Fox:



It is:



.
 

Nov. 6 wins that did not make headlines

by Tom Sullivan

With all the election-rigging and disenfranchising in the 2018 cycle, it is nice to know there were efforts to fix the way we hold elections. Daily Beast enumerates a few:

There were campaign and election reform initiatives on the ballot Tuesday in more than two dozen states and localities, and with a few notable exceptions, they won, sweeping aside defenders of a status quo system that consistently produces incivility, political extremism and government gridlock. Some of the most notable reforms will end the practice of partisan gerrymandering that allows politicians to choose their voters, rather than the other way around, which explains why the vast majority of seats in the House of Representatives are uncompetitive.

Other reforms will end the practice of low-turnout “closed primaries” that empower extreme partisans in both parties and disenfranchise political independents. Still other reforms that passed last week will introduce automatic voter registration to make voting easier, and impose stricter ethics laws on politicians to reduce the influence of money in politics and slow the revolving door between government officials and lobbyists.
Michigan, Colorado, and Missouri passed measures to hand redistricting to independent or bipartisan commissions. Votes for Utah's effort are still being canvassed.
Voting reforms that automatically register voters whenever they update a driver’s license or state identification card and make it easier to receive absentee ballots passed in Michigan and Nevada last week. Anti-corruption reforms that limit or ban lobbyist gifts to politicians, tighten campaign finance rules and increase government transparency passed in Missouri, New Mexico and North Dakota. A host of voting and anti-corruption reforms passed last week at the city level in Denver, Baltimore, Memphis, Phoenix, and New York.
Systems constructed decades ago and refined to service those in power appear corrupt and broken to a growing population of nonaligned voters disgusted with the "duopoly." Reforms are overdue. Voters are willing to fix the problems. Repairs are happening. But like highway work, never not fast enough.


Sunday, November 11, 2018

 
Trump takes revenge against states and territories he doesn't like

by digby





That would specifically be California and Puerto Rico. If the citizens of those places want federal support they're going to have to kiss his ... ring, and do it vigorously:

President Trump doesn't want to give Puerto Rico any more federal money for its recovery from Hurricane Maria, White House officials have told congressional appropriators and leadership. This is because he claims, without evidence, that the island’s government is using federal disaster relief money to pay off debt.

Trump also told senior officials last month that he would like to claw back some of the federal money Congress has already set aside for Puerto Rico's disaster recovery, claiming mismanagement.

The White House didn't comment on this reporting.

In late October, Trump grew furious after reading a Wall Street Journal article by Matt Wirz, according to five sources familiar with the president's reaction. The article said that "Puerto Rico bond prices soared ... after the federal oversight board that runs the U.S. territory’s finances released a revised fiscal plan that raises expectations for disaster funding and economic growth."

Sources with direct knowledge told me Trump concluded — without evidence — that Puerto Rico's government was scamming federal disaster funds to pay down its debt.
On Oct. 23, Trump falsely claimed in a tweet that Puerto Rico's "inept politicians are trying to use the massive and ridiculously high amounts of hurricane/disaster funding to pay off other obligations."

At the same time, White House officials told congressional leadership that Trump was inflamed by the Wall Street Journal article and "doesn't want to include additional Puerto Rico funding in further spending bills," according to a congressional leadership aide. "He was unhappy with what he believed was mismanagement of money," the aide said.

A second source said Trump misinterpreted the Journal article, concluding falsely that the Puerto Rican government was using disaster relief funds to pay down debt.

A third source said Trump told top officials in an October meeting that he wanted to claw back congressional funds that had previously been set aside for Puerto Rico's recovery. "He's always been pissed off by Puerto Rico," the source added.

Trump's wariness about sending federal money to Puerto Rico dates back to the beginning of his administration. In early 2017, when negotiating the omnibus spending bill, Democratic congressional leaders were pushing Trump to bail out Puerto Rico's underfunded health care system that serves the island's poorest citizens.

Trump insisted in the negotiations that he wouldn't approve anything close to the level of funds Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats requested, according to two sources involved. (And he didn't.)

Can you believe this man whose various businesses went bankrupt four times has the gall to say anything about anyone else's "mismanagement" of finances? Especially when he's practically illiterate and can't even properly read a fucking newspaper article?

There's going to be a big fight over this. And he'll probably win as the lame-duck GOP congress crawls over broken glass to suck up to their Dear Leader.

Congress took steps to keep disaster relief funds from being used to pay down the island's debt, and as Bloomberg reported at the time, "neither the island's leaders — nor the board installed by the U.S. to oversee its budget — are proposing using disaster recovery aid to directly pay off bondholders or other lenders."

Congress will have to pass a new package of spending bills in December. Hill sources say the package may include a bill to send more federal money to disaster areas. Trump has told aides he believes too much federal money has already gone to Puerto Rico — more than $6 billion for Hurricane Maria so far, according to FEMA. (The government projects more than $55 billion from FEMA's disaster relief fund will ultimately be spent on Maria's recovery.)

In comparison, per the NYT, "when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, Congress approved $10 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency four days later, and another $50 billion six days later. The federal government is still spending money on Katrina assistance, more than 12 years after the storm’s landfall."

The fight won't just be over Puerto Rico either:

Trump often blames Democratic-controlled states for the fallout from their natural disasters. On Saturday, Trump threatened "no more Fed payments" for California to deal with its deadly fires unless the state addresses what Trump claims is "gross mismanagement of the forests."

At least 23 people have died because of California's historically destructive wildfires over the past few days.

Around 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico because of Hurricane Maria, according to government estimates. Trump, without evidence, has claimed this is fake news designed to make him look bad.

I guess we should be grateful that a couple of his most trusted henchmen, Kevin "My Kevin" McCarthy and Devin Nunes are from California. But frankly, I'm not sure that even matters much anymore. Now that he's lost the House he's going to be asking, "what have you done for me lately?"

This is disgusting. But what else is new. The world is now being run by the whim of a man with the mind of a 6-year-old and the character of a mob boss. Saddam Hussein was much more sophisticated.

.
 
Blast from the past: Trump's "globalist" agenda

by digby




With all of Trump's blathering about globalists these days, I thought this op-ed he (supposedly) wrote in 2013 was interesting:

What has been made clear by current events and financial upheavals since 2008 is that the global economy has become truly that -- global.

The near meltdown we experienced a few years ago made it clear that our economic health depended on dependence on each other to do the right thing.

We are now closer to having an economic community in the best sense of the term -- we work with each other for the benefit of all.

I think we've all become aware of the fact that our cultures and economics are intertwined. It's a complex mosaic that cannot be approached with a simple formula for the correct pattern to emerge. In many ways, we are in unchartered waters.

The good news, in one respect, is that what is done affects us all. There won't be any winners or losers as this is not a competition. It's a time for working together for the best of all involved. Never before has the phrase "we're all in this together" had more resonance or relevance.

My concern is that the negligence of a few will adversely affect the majority. I've long been a believer in the "look at the solution, not the problem" theory. In this case, the solution is clear. We will have to leave borders behind and go for global unity when it comes to financial stability.

Is this possible? Is this a new frontier? Yes and no. There is the fait accompli strategy -- stay under the radar -- and the passive aggressive strategy, acts of terror used to paralyze and so on -- so the bottom line must be balance. Rationality must rule. There are philosophical approaches to economics. However, at this point, we don't so much need philosophy as we need action. Which way to proceed is the question.

You ask about Europe in crisis as an opportunity for investment. I see the world in crisis at the moment. I'm a firm believer that there are always opportunities whether the markets or up or down, but it requires insight and sometimes creativity to see those opportunities. I have no doubt that the balance we need will be achieved, but it won't happen overnight.

Europe is a tapestry that is dense, colorful and deserving of continued longevity and prosperity. There are many pieces that must be carefully fitted together in order to thrive.

Our challenge is to acknowledge those pieces and to see how they can form a whole that works together well without losing any cultural flavor in the process. It's a combination of preservation along with forward thinking.

Europe is a terrific place for investment. I am proud to have built a great golf course in Scotland after searching throughout Europe for five years for the right location. I've seen many beautiful places.

The future of Europe, as well as the United States, depends on a cohesive global economy. All of us must work toward together toward that very significant common goal.

I don't know about you but it seems to me that Trump has moved pretty precipitously to the nationalist right in the last few years. At one time he was quite the "globalist", at least when it came to lining his pockets.

This shows to me that his call to claim "nationalism" for his movement is a purely cynical political move. He may not fully understand the full implications of it, but he admitted before that he knows "you're not supposed to say it" so he understands something.

Again, I doubt he actually wrote this. But it went out under his name when he was trying to make money. Today he has a different motive --- assuaging white nationalists.

In both cases it's entirely self-serving.

.

 
Oh look, a Republican who isn't a whiny little twit

by digby



I was impressed when I heard that Dan Crenshaw wasn't demanding an apology from Pete Davidson on SNL for his stupid comment about his war wound. It showed something we don't see much in GOP circles: maturity. And he doubled down last night:





I give the guy credit. He resisted the standard hissy fit and acted like an adult instead of a hysterical child or a pearl clutching schoolmarm. And it evoked a round of decency on all sides, imagine that.

Kudos to Pete Davidson too. That was a good apology and a great use of his platform. Good for him. Good for both of them.


.


 
Which way will Whittaker go?

by digby



This piece by Murray Waas at Vox suggests that Whittaker has been playing both sides since he came into the Justice Department:

Matthew Whitaker, whom President Donald Trump named as his acting attorney general on Wednesday, privately provided advice to the president last year on how the White House might be able to pressure the Justice Department to investigate the president’s political adversaries, Vox has learned.

Whitaker was an outspoken critic of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe before he became the chief of staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions in September 2017. That has rightfully raised concerns that Whitaker might now attempt to sabotage Mueller’s investigation. But new information suggests that Whitaker — while working for Sessions — advocated on behalf of, and attempted to facilitate, Trump’s desire to exploit the Justice Department and FBI to investigate the president’s enemies.

In May 2018, President Donald Trump demanded that the Justice Department open a criminal investigation into whether the FBI “infiltrated or surveilled” his presidential campaign and whether Obama administration officials were involved in this purported effort. Trump, his Republican allies in Congress, and conservative news organizations — most notably Fox News — were making such claims and amplifying those of others, even though they offered scant evidence, if any, that these allegations were true.

Sessions, Rosenstein, and other senior department officials believed that if they agreed to Trump’s wishes, doing so would constitute an improper politicization of the department that would set a dangerous precedent for Trump — or any future president — to exploit the powerful apparatus of the DOJ and FBI to investigate their political adversaries. Those efforts, in turn, coincided with the president’s campaign to undermine Mueller’s investigation into whether the president’s campaign aides, White House advisers, and members of his own family colluded with Russian to help Trump win the 2016 election.

During this period of time, Whitaker was the chief of staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and in that role was advising Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on how to counter the president’s demands. But according to one former and one current administration official, Whitaker was simultaneously counseling the White House on how the president and his aides might successfully pressure Sessions and Rosenstein to give in to Trump’s demands.

Sources say that Whitaker presented himself as a sympathetic ear to both Sessions and Rosenstein — telling them he supported their efforts to prevent the president from politicizing the Justice Department. A person close to Whitaker suggested to me that the then-chief of staff was only attempting to diffuse the tension between the president and his attorney general and deputy attorney general, and facilitate an agreement between the two sides.

But two other people with firsthand information about the matter told me that Whitaker, in his conversations with the president, presented himself as a vigorous supporter of Trump’s position and “committed to extract as much as he could from the Justice Department on the president’s behalf.”

One administration official with knowledge of the matter told me: “Whitaker let it be known [in the White House] that he was on a team, and that was the president’s team.”

Whitaker’s open sympathizing with Trump’s frequent complaints about the Mueller investigation resulted in an unusually close relationship between a president and a staffer of his level. The president met with Whitaker in the White House, often in the Oval Office, at least 10 times, a former senior administration official told me. On most of those occasions, Sessions was also present, but it’s unclear if that was always the case.

During this period, Whitaker frequently spoke by phone with both Trump and Chief of Staff John Kelly, this same official told me. On many of those phone calls, nobody else was on the phone except for the president and Whitaker, or only Kelly and Whitaker. As one senior law enforcement official told me, “Nobody else knew what was said on those calls except what Whitaker decided to tell others, and if he did, whether he was telling the truth. Who ever heard of a president barely speaking to his attorney general but on the phone constantly with a staff-level person?”

Despite this being the case, on Friday as he was leaving on a trip to Paris, Trump told reporters, “I don’t know Matt Whitaker.” He also claimed that he never spoke to the then-DOJ chief of staff about the Mueller investigation: “I didn’t speak to Matt Whitaker about it,” he said.

Whitaker was a White House ally in building the case to investigate Hillary Clinton

Whitaker also counseled the president in private on how the White House might be able to pressure the Justice Department to name a special counsel to investigate not only allegations of FBI wrongdoing but also Hillary Clinton. Trump wanted the Justice Department to investigate the role that Clinton purportedly played, as secretary of state, in approving the Russian nuclear energy agency’s (Rosatom) purchase of a US uranium mining company.

The FBI had earlier investigated the allegations, concluded that there was no evidence of wrongdoing, and closed out its investigation. Trump presented no new evidence to the Justice Department that would justify reopening the investigation, and thus senior Justice Department officials considered the president’s request to be a blatant attempt to improperly use the Department and FBI to discredit a political adversary.

Yet Whitaker suggested to the White House that he personally was sympathetic to the appointment of a special counsel to investigate these matters, according to the two officials with knowledge of the matter. A Justice Department official told me: “You have to have a predicate to open an investigation, or to reopen a closed case. You have an even higher one, an extraordinary threshold, to appoint a special counsel. If you don’t, what you are doing is unethical as a lawyer.”

A person close to Whitaker suggested that he did what so many others around Trump do, which is tell the president what he wants to hear: “With Sessions and Rod, [Whitaker] said he was on their side, and thought the appointment of a special counsel was ludicrous.”

CNN repoted that Sessions didn't Whittaker's backstab coming. Rosenstein seems like a savvy player who survived after Whittaker stabbed him in the back. (He's clearly one of the sources who fed that NYT story about "wearing a wire" to the NYT along with any number of others.)

Whittaker doesn't stike me as a hero or someone who is particularly bright. He's been run by Don McGahn, who is now out of the White House. I don't know who's pulling the strings now other than Trump. So it's doubtful he's going to be unpredictably independent now.

It's hard to imagine he will last or, if he does, that he will actually initiate a new investigation into Clinton. But then again, Donald Trump is president so anything can happen. And if they get desperate enough, and FOX News advises the president that he has to do it, I wouldn't be surprised to see it. I've always thought it was one of Trump's aces in the hole. Those "lock her up " chants tell him exactly how much his base would love it if he did it.


.
 
Uh oh, Trumpie's really gonna be mad now

by digby









 
"His personal Verdun"

by digby



Quote o' the day:

Rather than make the hour-long drive (Aisne-Marne is only 55 miles from Paris), the low-energy president remained behind at the U.S. ambassador’s residence. It’s not as if he didn’t sacrifice anything, however. Odds are that his room didn’t have Fox News. So he was probably reduced to watching CNN all afternoon. If the New York dating scene was Trump’s personal Vietnam, this was his personal Verdun.

That's Max Boot pointing out that for all of Trump's love of "the military," he doesn't really show much love for the troops.

He's the first president in memory who has never visited the troops in a war zone. Apparently, he doesn't think they rate his personal attention. Maybe it's one of those things like his view of campaigning --- he refuses to visit people in their homes or a local diner of soup kitchen because he figures people don't really respect a King who mingles with the poloi.

Frankly, I think he prefers to mingle with his Red Hats, local police, ICE and Border Patrol. Those are his personal troops. He never misses a chance to be with them.

Trump was very happy to see his fellow white nationalist:




.
 
The War to End All Wars
by Batocchio

Today, 11/11/18, marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, the Great War, the supposed War to End All Wars that unfortunately didn't. I've always been struck by how eager nations were to go to war at the start and how horrific the reality often was. By the end, by most estimates, about 8.5 million soldiers were dead and the total casualty count was about 37.5 million. Add in a couple million civilian deaths from fighting and several million more indirectly from disease and hunger, and the toll is just staggering. The death count would be exceeded in World War II, but it's hard to overstate how devastating the "Great War" was to the world, especially Europe.

The Imperial War Museums (a set of five museums in Britain) has posted an excellent collection of first-hand British accounts on the armistice 100 years ago. Follow the link for the audio, but I've copied some key accounts below. Not everyone got the news about the armistice, and even for those who did, the final hours could be tense:

The news travelled at different speeds, and was delayed in getting to some places. George Jameson’s unit read about it.

When the war actually ended, we didn't even know about it. We knew that things were getting pretty critical, we knew that we were doing well and nobody wanted to cop out on one when the war might be ending tomorrow, sort of thing. It was the wrong time to get wounded or hit or anything, you see! So we were pretty careful. But we were moving forward with the idea of taking another position when one of the drivers shouted up to somebody, ‘There's a sign on that,’ it was an entrance to some house. He said, ‘There's a sign on that thing marking somebody’s headquarters and it says the wars over.’ Don’t believe it. Nobody would believe it. The war couldn't be over; it had been on for years, nobody would believe it could finish! It’s a fact; it says there the war was over. So somebody rode back and read this thing that said, as from 11 o'clock this morning, hostilities have ceased. And we then realised the war was over.

Fighting continued in some places as the news made its way along the Western Front, and men still lost their lives on the final day of the war. Jim Fox of the Durham Light Infantry remembered one such incident.

Of course, when the armistice was to be signed at 11 o'clock on the 11th of November, as from 6 o'clock that morning there was only the occasional shell that was sent either by us over the German lines or the German over at our lines. Maybe there was one an hour. And then, about 10am, one came down and killed a sergeant of ours who'd been out since 1915. He was killed with shrapnel, you know. Thought that was very unlucky. To think he’d served since 1915, three years until 1918, nearly four years and then to be killed within an hour of armistice…

William Collins clearly remembered conditions on the morning of the 11 November, and noted the significance of where he was that day.

On armistice morning, I remember the fog was – it was a Monday morning, November the 11th. The fog was so thick that visibility was down to 10 yards. And as we moved and moved on, we found ourselves at about 10 o'clock that morning we were up with the infantry patrols. And of course, when we found out that they were the closest to the Germans, we stopped and we stood in that place until… must have been oh, half past 12, one o'clock before the order was given to retire. A silence came over the whole place that you could almost feel, you know, after four and a half years of war, not a shot was being fired, not a sound was heard because the fog blanketed everything, you see, and hung really thickly over… We were north-east of Mons, whereas I'd started the battle four and a half years before, south-east of Mons. So there I was, back where the war started after nearly four and a half years of it.


For an exhibit, the Imperial War Museum in London recreated "the last few minutes of World War I when the guns finally fell silent at the River Moselle on the American Front" using WWI seismic data that the Smithsonian explains well. Take a listen:


(It seems the birds were added as an artistic choice, and I think they come in too early and too loudly, but it's still a fascinating piece.)

( Paris.)

In the field, some soldiers celebrated the armistice with gusto, while others were simply exhausted:

Charles Wilson of the Gloucestershire Regiment was delighted when he heard of the armistice.

Well of course there was tremendous jubilation, I can remember. We had just come out of this battle and the armistice was on the 11th of November. We were doing battalion drill back in some village in France when we formed up and the commanding officer made the announcement: an armistice was signed at 11 o'clock today. Of course there was a swell of excitement amongst the men and our only interest then was to find something to drink to celebrate it and there was nothing to be had, not a bottle of wine or anything else! However we soon put that right…

But Clifford Lane was just too physically and mentally shattered to celebrate.

Then as far as the armistice itself was concerned, it was an anti-climax. We were too far gone, too exhausted, really to enjoy it. All we could do was just go back to our billets; there was no cheering, no singing, we had no alcohol – that particular day we had no alcohol at all – and we simply celebrated the armistice in silence and thankfulness that it was all over. And I believe that happened quite a lot in France. There was such a sense of anti-climax; there was such a… We were drained of all emotion really – that’s what it amounted to, you see. Then it was a question of when we were going to get home…


( Trafalgar Square, London.)

More reactions:

Mary Lees, who worked for the Air Ministry, was caught up in the scenes of jubilation that day.

But of course, I mean, Armistice Day was fantastic. You see, you visualise every single office in Kingsway pouring down the Strand. I should think there must have been about 10,000 people. There was no traffic of course. It was solid, like that. And you see, when they got to the end of the Strand of course it opened up, like that, into Trafalgar Square. And still Trafalgar Square was packed. Well, we didn’t get back to the office, to our work, till about half past three, four. And, when I came to get my bus back in the evening, the people had been careering all round London on the buses. But nobody would go inside because they all wanted to go on top and cheer. I forget how many it was in the papers the next morning, fifty or sixty buses had all their railings broken, going up the stairs on the top.
For many, the moment of the armistice was a time to reflect on all the lives that had been lost during the war. Ruby Ord was serving in France with the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps.

I think it was a bit of an anti-climax. Suddenly you thought about, you see, all the people you had known who were killed, etc. They were just in the war zone, and they could come home in your imagination. But the Armistice brought the realisation to you that they weren’t coming back, that it was the end. I think that it was not such a time of rejoicing as it might have been. You were glad the fighting was over and that not more men would be killed. But I do think it was dampened down very much, in France. I think they had all the enthusiasm probably in England, but I think we were too near reality to feel that way. I didn’t, certainly. I did not go out of camp on Armistice Day.

This remembrance seems the best to end on:
After the long years of hardship, suffering and loss, it was no surprise that the news the war had finally ended was received with such a mixture of emotions by those who were immediately affected by it. From shock and disbelief, to relief and jubilation, men and women around the world had their own reactions to the armistice. Basil Farrer served on the Western Front during the war. He was in Nottingham on 11 November 1918 but found he couldn't join the cheering crowds in the city that day.

I remember Armistice Day and I didn't know at the time but in every city, everybody went mad. In London, they were dancing in the streets, the crowds, in all the cities, in Paris and in Nottingham too. In Market Square, it was one mass of people dancing and singing. I did not go there. I do remember – for some reason or other – inexplicable, especially in so young a chap as myself, I felt sad. I did – I had a feeling of sadness. And I did remember all those chaps who'd never come back, because there was quite a lot, nearly a million – not quite a million. As a matter of fact, in Paris I remember the Prince of Wales inaugurating a plaque in the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris to the million dead of Great Britain and the British Empire. And I did have a feeling of sadness that day.


Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery and Memorial to the Missing, Belgium.)

(Notre Dame de Lorette, also known as Ablain St.-Nazaire French Military Cemetery, France.)

(Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, France.)

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(Poppy on a Canadian grave.)