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Friday, August 23, 2019

So much winning

by digby

"Officials are not explaining what legal or moral authority the President has to make that order," CNBC's @EamonJavers reports from the White House after Trump tweeted an "order" for US companies to find an alternative to doing business in China. https://t.co/OdCTXe6sWC pic.twitter.com/ZQtm73psEO

— CNBC (@CNBC) August 23, 2019

President Donald Trump on Friday said he was ordering “our great American companies” to “immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA.”

Trump also said he was ordering all U.S. postal carriers, including FedEx, Amazon, UPS and United States Post Office, “to SEARCH FOR & REFUSE all deliveries of Fentanyl from China (or anywhere else!).”

And Trump said that he will respond this afternoon to China’s newest round of tariffs on U.S. goods.

The White House did not immediately respond when asked if the announcement, delivered in a four-part Twitter thread Friday morning, constituted an official order from the president.

It was not immediately clear how, or under what authority, the president could implement these declared orders, or whether he had already done so.

Equities sunk to session lows shortly after Trump’s tweets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 435 points, or 1.6%, while the S&P 500 slid 1.7% and the Nasdaq Composite dove 2%.

Trump’s tweets followed another missive against Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell, who had just pledged to “act as appropriate” to sustain the U.S. economy amid the “deteriorating” global economic outlook.

In an apparent response, Trump tweeted: “Who is our bigger enemy,” Powell or Chinese President Xi Jinping?

Earlier Friday, China had announced it would slap retaliatory tariffs of 5% and 10% on roughly $75 billion in U.S. imports. The newly announced import taxes represented the latest escalation in the increasingly fraught U.S.-China trade war, as well as a direct response to Trump’s plan to impose duties on $300 billion worth of China’s goods by mid-December.

Top trade advisors Robert Lighthizer and Peter Navarro were reportedly near the Oval Office just before the president sent his latest tweets. A source later told CNBC that Trump was meeting with his trade team Friday.

Trump was scheduled to leave for France on Friday night to participate in the multilateral G7 summit this weekend.

The president had long declared Xi a friend, and had repeatedly said he blames past U.S. leaders, not China, for the unfair trade situation between the two economic superpowers.

Trump held that line even after talks between the two sides’ negotiators broke down in May. “My respect and friendship with President Xi is unlimited,” he said at the time.

But after China’s new round of tariffs, and Powell’s apparently unsatisfying remarks at an annual central bank event in Jackson Hole, Trump’s tune changed.

“As usual, the Fed did NOTHING! It is incredible that they can ‘speak’ without knowing or asking what I am doing, which will be announced shortly,” Trump tweeted.

“I will work ‘brilliantly’ with both” a strong dollar and a weak Fed, Trump assured, before adding: “My only question is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powell or Chairman Xi?”

Trump has ripped Powell relentlessly in recent weeks, as some investors have started to flash concerns that the economy could be headed for a slowdown. He has publicly pressured Powell to lower interest rates by a full percentage point, despite maintaining that the economy is “strong and good.”

In his remarks Friday morning, Powell did not say specifically where he thought rates should go. But he promised that the Fed “will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion,” a phrase he has used several times in the recent past.

Trump continued to rail against China as the busy morning progressed. “Our Country has lost, stupidly, Trillions of Dollars with China over many years. They have stolen our Intellectual Property at a rate of Hundreds of Billions of Dollars a year, & they want to continue,” Trump said.

“I won’t let that happen!” Trump wrote. “We don’t need China and, frankly, would be far better off without them.”

After claiming he was ordering U.S. firms to look for alternatives to China, Trump added, “I will be responding to China’s Tariffs this afternoon.”

The U.S. has already slapped 25% tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports. In early August, Trump announced he would impose 10% tariffs on the rest of the Chinese imports to the U.S. — roughly $300 billion worth of goods — by Sept. 1.

Trump says, "I always find a way to win" ...

Indeed he does. By cheating.


Beyond the fringe

by Tom Sullivan

Patrick Byrne's rambling, half-hour tale of deep-state conspiracy, spies, romance, and "Men in Black" Thursday night on CNN could only have been more unhinged if he had given it in 90-degree heat on the White House lawn with a helicopter idling loudly in the background.

The newly former (as of yesterday) CEO of Overstock.com told Chris Cuomo on "Cuomo Prime Time" a disjointed tale of being recruited by "X, Y, and Z" at the FBI to stay close to Maria Butina, to the point of encouraging a romantic relationship with her. The Russian woman now serving a prison sentence for conspiracy to act as a foreign agent sought to build contacts with Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump. She arranged a secret meeting between Don Jr. and Russian banker Aleksandr Torshin at a 2015 NRA convention in Tennessee (and/or at some other meeting in Kentucky), Byrne claimed as he bobbed around the shot.

News flash: Byrne also claims Butina was being groomed by key oligarchs to be president of Russia.

In an earlier (and oddly consistent) interview with Fox News, Byrne had named John Carlin, Andrew McCabe, and James Comey as officials "X, Y, and Z" who had "hijacked" the FBI from the top to turn a counterintelligence effort into political espionage. Peter Strzok was their "errand boy." But Republicans are wrong, Byrne told Cuomo. The Russians were definitely up to something. Just what was hard to make out from Bryne's bonkers interviews. Nor was Byrne's point.

CNN reports:

Asha Rangappa, a former FBI official and CNN legal analyst, said elements of Byrne's claims about how the FBI encouraged his initial efforts to build a relationship with Butina line up with how the bureau would typically run a counterintelligence investigation.

But she said she was skeptical about his claim that the bureau later encouraged him to have a "romantic relationship" with Butina.
CNN Business obtained comment on Byrne's account from officials at the Department of Justice:
Byrne had shared information concerning the early days of the Russia investigation in a meeting earlier this year with Justice Department officials, a US official said, confirming his account in last week's statement.

Justice officials found aspects of Byrne's story to be believable in part because he shared operational details that were not widely known, the US official said. The official would not say who Byrne met with and what specifically was discussed.
Naturally, the "Deep State" fringe will be all over this story this morning. Nothing so far from Dons Sr. or Jr.
After the chosen one's "increasingly untethered to reality" statements to the press, one wonders after Byrne's interviews if the acting president's personal manias are contagious. He might be the one who needs to be in isolation.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Of course Trump invited himself

by digby

He invited himself
to Denmark and then had a temper tantrum and canceled after they'd already spent a bunch of time and money:
Speaking to reporters on the White House’s South Lawn in late July, President Donald Trump revealed that he was “looking at” a stop in Denmark after an upcoming trip to Poland to attend a World War II commemorative ceremony.

For officials in Copenhagen, the comment came as a surprise. Although it is customary in Denmark for there to be a standing invitation for the U.S. president—and though officials in both countries had been discussing the possibility of an American delegation visiting—no formal invitation had actually been extended to Trump, according to two senior Danish officials and an individual who works closely with the Trump administration in Copenhagen.

By the next day, Queen Margrethe II had issued the invite, and the White House had officially announced the president’s plans to visit the country.

Over the subsequent days, much planning went into preparing for the president’s visit, which was supposed to include meetings with high-level officials from Denmark, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands. It was designed to be a decadent affair: the Queen’s staff was in the midst of ordering the crystal for the tables and flowers for the palace for the big state dinner with Trump. Danish business leaders had finalized plans for roundtable discussions with White House officials about increasing investments in the U.S. Officials in the country’s ministry of foreign affairs were preparing talking points to promote increased cooperation between the U.S. and Denmark in the Arctic.

But the frenetic planning came to a stop this past week, when Trump abruptly canceled the trip after being publicly rebuffed for his proposal that the United States buy Greenland from Denmark.

Class all the way.

The G7 meeting should tackle the crisis in the Amazon

by digby

Brazil's Trump and Trump himself are unlikely to be moved by this I'm afraid:
Data from the National Institute of Space Research showed an 84% year-on-year increase in forest fires in 2019, many caused by loggers incentivized by the government’s disdain for environmental oversight. While Bolsonaro relishes criticism of his attitude toward the Amazon -- jokingly referring to himself as ‘Captain Chainsaw’ -- his supporters in the agricultural sector fear a backlash from consumers both in Brazil and abroad.

Germany and Norway have already suspended their contributions to a rain forest preservation fund, and polls indicate that even among Bolsonaro’s own voters there is overwhelming support for stronger measures to combat illegal deforestation.

“In terms of environmental management we’re witnessing a disaster,” Jairo Nicolau, a political science professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, said. “It’s not about just a different policy. We’re seeing total disorganization in an area in which there was a culture of continuity from one government to the next.“

On Thursday morning, a day after he had baselessly accused foreign NGOs of lighting fires to discredit his government, Bolsonaro instructed his Twitter followers to read a thread by his adviser, Felipe Martins.

In the 11-part post, Martins criticized the mainstream media’s “irresponsible disregard for basic data” and stated that over 60% of Brazil is covered by native vegetation, while only 29% is used for agriculture. Martins also wrote that Brazil has some of the most stringent environmental legislation in the world and has a larger share of territory under environmental protection than any other country worldwide. He adds that there is a “clear long-term, downward trend” in deforestation.

While the percentages of land used for agriculture and covered in vegetation Martins cites are roughly true, World Bank data show that there are at least 20 counties that maintain more forest as a proportion of their territory than Brazil, including Japan, Sweden and the Congo.

The statement’s omissions are also significant. Brazil is the country that deforests at a faster rate than any other, according to the research NGO World Resouces Institute.


This G7 is going to be a real doozy.

"I'll have no choice but to release them into the countries from which they came"

by digby

It's a good thing that he is "the chosen one" and "King of the Jews" because the president of the United States does not have the power to do that.

In case you were wondering what this is all about:

With a bizarre threat to “release” terrorists into France and Germany, President Trump is pressing America’s European allies to bring home and put on trial their citizens captured while fighting for ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Publicly elevating an issue that has bedeviled senior officials at the Pentagon and the State Department for months, Trump said he would order the transport of some 2,000 captured fighters back to their home countries if “Europe doesn’t take them”—something that would almost certainly be legally impossible.

“We’re holding thousands of ISIS fighters right now. And Europe has to take them. And if Europe doesn’t take them, I’ll have no choice but to release them into the countries from which they came. Which is Germany and France and other places,” the president told reporters on Wednesday.

Later, in a speech to a veterans group in Kentucky, Trump said that European allies “say to us, ‘Why don’t you hold them in Guantanamo Bay for 50 years and spend billions and billions of dollars holding them’.”

Related: The Many Loopholes in ‘ISIS Is Defeated’
Related: ISIS Is ‘Waiting for the Right Time to Resurge’: CENTCOM Commander
Related: All ISIS Has Left Is Money. Lots of It.
If true, the suggestion would be a remarkable reversal for European leaders, who have spent close to two decades criticizing the United States for human rights abuses at the naval detention facility.

“And I’m saying, ‘No, you gotta take ‘em’,” Trump said.

In the past, senior Trump administration officials have emphasized that the United States is not holding the captured fighters. The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, is holding around 2,000 suspected foreign fighters in northeastern Syria, with American security support.

These foreigners are among 9,000 ISIS fighters currently held by the SDF. Just under a thousand are believed to be European. A small but unknown number are believed to be from the United States.

The Kurdish group is also holding around 70,000 ISIS wives and children, around 10,000 of whom are believed to be from places other than Syria and Iraq.

U.S. officials have been urging allies—largely unsuccessfully—to take back and try their own citizens. But European governments, concerned that the kind of battlefield evidence they have about the fighters won’t prove admissible in domestic courts, have so far resisted calls to repatriate either the men or their wives and children. The situation is straining the SDF’s capacity, and the U.S. has already been forced to call in surveillance support to help put down a jailbreak from a detention facility in Derik, in northeastern Syria.

Some countries—notably, France—have allowed their citizens to be tried in Iraq, where the courts provide minimal access to lawyers and typically mete out a hanging sentence on scanty evidence. (France does not have a death penalty.)

The United States has taken back and charged a handful of its own fighters, most recently a 23-year-old man born in Dallas now charged with providing material support to ISIS.

But the group of fighters pose significant challenges. In 2017, the United States held a U.S.-Saudi citizen for over a year in military detention because officials were certain in the intelligence that indicated he was an ISIS fighter, but believed that it wouldn’t be admissible in an Article III court. Charging him in federal court, they feared, would lead to his release. Civil rights advocates argued that to hold him indefinitely without charge violated his constitutional rights as a citizen.

Still, it is widely agreed that the SDF cannot hold the fighters indefinitely. In addition to the strain on its security resources, the group is not an internationally recognized sovereign government. It’s not clear that the group is even legally able to carry out law-of-war detention.

In other words, the threat to release ISIS fighters into the streets of France and Germany is just another incidence of Trump waving his tiny hands in Europe's face, trying to insult them in order to make himself feel like a big man and pretend that he's economically responsible.

Same old, same old.

They're sending in the Trumpette women's auxiliary

by digby

Trumpettes and their Dear Leader
Realizing that traditionally Republican white women are deserting the GOP en masse, they are dispatching female Trump hacks to persuade them that women should believe him instead of their lying eyes:
President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign will dispatch more than a dozen female surrogates on Thursday to some of the most important 2020 battleground states in its first major push to mobilize suburban women — a critical voting bloc that revolted against Republican candidates as recently as the midterm elections last fall.

Campaign officials have billed the cross-country events as both a celebration of women’s suffrage — Sunday marks the 99th anniversary of the adoption of the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote — and a coordinated effort to train pro-Trump women to become effective volunteers in their communities. As of Tuesday, a campaign official involved with the planning said about 2,000 attendees were expected across the gatherings in 13 states.

“From coast-to-coast we will mobilize and organize to reelect President Trump and give him another four years in the White House,” Katrina Pierson, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign, said in a statement.

It’s the first test for the Trump campaign’s women’s coalition — a mash-up of the president’s most loyal female supporters, ranging in background from pageant queens and YouTube personalities to Christian podcasters and political wives — and it comes as the Trump administration grapples with warnings of a possible recession that could make the coalition’s message of women’s economic empowerment a tougher sell next November. Trump and his allies have repeatedly pointed to the women’s unemployment rate, which has hovered between 3.5 and 4 percent since last summer, and the inclusion of a paid family leave plan in the latest White House budget as evidence that American women have benefited from his policies.

“I’m just going to be very direct with people: It’s a complete scam, a hoax, that we’re going into recession,” said Tana Goertz, an Iowa campaign staffer and former “Apprentice” contestant. Goertz will host around 50 women outside Des Moines on Thursday as part of the Trump campaign’s “Evening to Empower.”

Trump campaign spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany, who will host an event in the Atlanta suburbs, added: “The media narrative is always designed to be negative toward the president. There is simply no denying that the economic fundamentals of this economy are strong.”

Sure Kayleigh.  That's going to work.

Trump's numbers with women are abominable and bringing out some other women to tell them they aren't seeing what they're seeing is about as lame as it gets.
The latest Quinnipiac poll doesn’t break out suburban women, but it finds that only 34 percent of women overall approve of the job Trump is doing, compared with 61 percent who disapprove; among white women, only 40 percent approve while 56 percent disapprove. 
A new NBC News poll is more precise on this point. The good folks at NBC sent me these numbers: Among suburban women, Trump’s rating is 36 percent approve to 61 percent disapprove. And suburban women prefer a generic Democratic candidate to Trump by 61 percent to 32 percent.
Meanwhile, in the new Politico/Morning Consult poll, Trump’s approval among women is 39 percent, while 58 percent disapprove, 46 percent strongly. And among suburbanites, Trump’s approval is 43 percent, while 56 percent disapprove, 43 percent strongly. Put those together, and you probably have really bad numbers among suburban women — with a lot disapproving strongly.

I can't imagine why these women loathe him so much. But I just have a feeling that they aren't going to be persuaded to change their minds if Kayleigh McEnany tells them the fake news is hiding the good news about the economy.

Yes, he thinks he's a god

by digby

... and a hero.

At the event in Louisville, Kentucky, Trump singled out for praise WWII veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Woody Williams.

“Thank you, Woody. You’re looking good, Woody. Woody’s looking good,” Trump said.

“That was a big day, Medal of Honor. Nothing like the Medal of Honor,” he continued. “I wanted one, but they told me I don't qualify, Woody. I said, 'Can I give it to myself anyway?' They said, 'I don't think that's a good idea.'

Sure, it was a "joke." But on a day that he retweeted that “The Jewish people in Israel love him like he’s the King of Israel,they love him like he is the second coming of God..." and told the press that he's "the chosen one" it appears that Trump is having a megalomaniacal breakdown.

Trump loses another Steve

by digby

And he's distraught:

Over the past month, President Donald Trump has asked several administration officials the same question. “Where’s Steve?” the president has repeatedly inquired, according to two officials who’ve heard him do so in the White House.

The “Steve” in question isn’t Steve Mnuchin, Miller, Bannon, or Moore. It’s Steve Cortes, a member of the Trump 2020 advisory board and a paid on-air contributor at CNN, a perennial media foe of the president’s.

Late last week, The Hollywood Reporter published a story on how Cortes had been “benched” by network brass, and hadn’t appeared on CNN in the U.S. in more than a month. “They just won't book him,” a former CNN contributor told THR. “They’ll just pay him. They won’t fire him, because that’s just blatant. But they won’t book him, and they’ll tell all the producers not to book him.”

Within the past few weeks, the leader of the free world came to notice Cortes’ absence from CNN, a network Trump has on-and-off insisted that he doesn’t watch or pay attention to anymore.
On top of grousing to his aides, Trump got on the phone with Cortes in the past month to ask him what was going on, and to complain about CNN’s “bias” and how unfairly the cable news network has treated its pro-Trump, conservative commentator, two sources familiar with the call tell The Daily Beast.

“It wasn’t enough to have a stacked, four-versus-one panel,” said former Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), a current Trump surrogate and former CNN contributor. “CNN has decided to eliminate as many Trump supporters as possible, including me, Jeff Lord, Jason Miller, Bryan Lanza, and Steve Moore. The Republicans who survive are the ones who take constant jabs at Trump. They’re Never Trumpers or RINOs.”
[T]he president has known and personally liked Cortes for years, and this isn’t the first time he’s taken an interest in the TV commentator’s career path. In late 2017, Trump and Cortes had a conversation at the White House in which the president remarked on how much he appreciated all of Cortes’ appearances on Fox News (the network on which Cortes was a regular at the time), a former White House official recalled.

Still, the president had something else on his mind: he asked Cortes to go back to CNN, where the Trump surrogate was most needed to do battle with the network’s armada of anti-Trump liberals and Never Trumpers, according to this ex-official. The president made it clear he wanted Cortes sticking it to the libs at CNN before and during his re-election campaign.

Cortes didn’t disappoint. By late Jan. 2018, he tweeted: “It's official, I'm now a @CNN Political Commentator. Had a terrific run at @FoxNews, excited about the adventures ahead!”

It’s unclear if this latest adventure has effectively ended, or if he’s just in the penalty box. CNN, Cortes, and the White House did not provide comment for this story.

Earlier this year, Cortes was briefly considered, according to Politico, as a possible successor to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a job that ultimately went to Stephanie Grisham.

Cortes caused a minor internal stir at the network over his attempt to recast history in Trump’s favor, admonishing the media and essentially absolving Trump of his comments following the murder of a protester by a neo-Nazi at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in 2017. Earlier this month, Trump shared a video Cortes recorded for the conservative website PragerU in which the CNN pundit made a heavily revisionist argument—one that has picked up steam in recent months and is nowadays regularly made by Trump campaign officials—claiming that Trump had not referred to neo-Nazis or white supremacists in Charlottesville as “very fine people” but was instead referring to a different group of protesters.

CNN’s media reporter Oliver Darcy criticized Cortes on Twitter, saying the commentator’s comments were “a weird thing for someone who is a paid CNN commentator to say, given the network's accurate reporting on the matter.” Primetime anchor Anderson Cooper added that although he likes Cortes personally, his description of Trump’s comments about Charlottesville were “inaccurate” and “actually wrong.”

The pundit’s absence from CNN’s air comes as pro-Trump pundits have become far scarcer on the cable news network. Earlier this year, the network decided not to renew the contracts of two of Trump’s fiercest on-air defenders—Kingston and former South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer—and as The Hollywood Reporter pointed out, another commentator sympathetic to Trump, Ben Ferguson, has not been on CNN since April.
They were all extremely annoying, lying, sycophants. Their defenses of Trump were insulting to the collective intelligence of the audience. Cortes was one of the worst.

This is a problem for any news organization that wants to present a "both sides" opinion panel. It requires them to allow shameless hacks to lie and make fools of themselves and the network loses credibility every time one of them appears. The only answer is to retire the format. There is no requirement that they do this.

If a cable network simply adheres to the idea that they are there to present the truth it's really not difficult.

And he had the nerve to call Clinton crooked

by digby

President Donald Trump has filed financial disclosure statements that appear to misstate the value and profitability of his Scotland golf courses by $165 million, possibly violating federal laws that are punishable by jail time.

Trump claimed in his 2018 U.S. filing that his Turnberry and Aberdeen resorts were each worth more than $50 million. For that same time period, he filed balance sheets with the United Kingdom government showing that their combined debt exceeded their assets by 47.9 million British pounds ― the equivalent of $64.8 million at the exchange rate on Dec. 31, 2017, the date of the last U.K. filing available.

His 2018 “public financial disclosure” filed with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics also claims those two resorts earned him “income” of $23.8 million. His filings with the U.K. Companies House office in Edinburgh for that period showed the resorts had actually lost 4.6 million pounds ― equal to $6.3 million.

His U.S. disclosure statement also fails to mention $199.5 million in loans Trump has made to those resorts: $54.9 million from him personally to Trump International, Scotland in Aberdeenshire; $144.6 million from his trust to Trump Turnberry in Ayrshire.

Knowingly providing false or incomplete information on that form is a violation of the Ethics in Government Act punishable by up to a year in jail. Signing the form attesting to the untrue information constitutes making a false statement, punishable by up to five years in prison.

“The numbers don’t appear to add up,” said Virginia Canter, an ethics law expert with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. She added, though, that OGE regulations give filers a fair amount of latitude in determining asset value. “That said, it’s not at all clear after reviewing the U.K. balance sheet for Aberdeen how they came to $50 million. … I think it raises legitimate questions.”

Yeah, yeah. No big deal. Yet another possible criminal act by the president of the United States. Republicans are all fine with it. He could shoot someone on 5th avenue ...

Early Tuesday evening, after this article was published and days after HuffPost first sought comment, the Trump Organization, his family business that operates the resorts, responded through Chief Legal Officer Alan Garten, who said the two sets of statements are filed under different accounting and legal standards. “As a result, while both filings provide financial information, the filings each have distinct reporting requirements and standards. Thus, the two filings cannot and should not be compared,” Garten wrote in an email.

He did not respond to follow-up questions about the widely divergent claims regarding assets and income and why Trump failed to disclose the two loans.

The story goes on to report some of the other financial crimes Trump is credibly accused of committing over the years. But this is happening right now, while he's in the White House:

Trump’s golf courses in Scotland and Ireland offer unique insights into the state of Trump’s businesses because they are required to submit detailed financial documents annually, even though they are privately held. In the United States, where the vast majority of Trump’s businesses are located, there is no such disclosure requirement ― meaning there is no straightforward way of determining whether Trump has similarly misstated the asset value and profitability of his U.S. properties.

Americans would have a clearer understanding of the actual financial health of Trump’s businesses had he kept his initial promise to release his tax returns if he ran for president. But Trump reneged on that pledge almost immediately after entering the race. At first he claimed he would release the returns after “routine audits” had been completed, before eventually arguing that Americans had voted for him anyway and that they were not interested in seeing his taxes. In doing so, he became the first major-party nominee since Watergate to fail to disclose his returns.

Trump’s supposed great wealth was a major selling point for him during his campaign in the Republican primaries. Weeks after entering the race in June 2015, Trump declared in a press release that his net worth was “in excess of TEN BILLION DOLLARS.” In a recent speech, he claimed the presidency was forcing him to lose billions: “It’s probably costing me from three to five billion,” he told workers at a petrochemical plant in western Pennsylvania last week. “I don’t care. I want to do the right job.”

Both of those assertions are almost certainly false.

In the 2005 book TrumpNation, business journalist Timothy L. O’Brien wrote that Trump was most likely worth no more than $250 million, not the many billions of dollars he was claiming at the time. Trump sued him for defamation, but lost ― and in the process lied dozens of times about his business dealings in a deposition taken by O’Brien’s lawyers.

In 2015, National Journal found that Trump had made so many poor business decisions over the years that had he simply taken the fortune his father placed him in charge of in 1974 and put it into a broad index fund, he would have been far wealthier than he wound up.

Despite those and a great deal of other published reports that detailed his multiple casino bankruptcies and poor track record in business, Republican voters chose to support him anyway.

Rick Tyler, who worked for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign in the 2016 GOP presidential primaries, said Republican voters were not paying attention to news coverage that picked apart Trump’s creation myth. “His ostentatious opulence and his willingness to flaunt it led many Republicans to believe that he possessed the business acumen needed to straighten out Washington,” Tyler said. “Republicans should now acknowledge that assumption was false.”

He's a shameless criminal. And yet at least 50 million Americans, probably more, are going to vote for him again in 2020. They just like the fact that he owns the libs. That's it.



Planning for victory

by Tom Sullivan

The psychic cost our acting president takes on the country (and the world) is its own kind of national deficit and a drag on campaign planning. We will never get back the time and money spent litigating clearly illegal administration actions, the time spent debunking the lies and insults, the attention wasted trying to unravel and process unhinged comments and daily, petty cruelties. There are human costs mounting even now to mitigate, but there also opportunity costs to giving attention to tweets that should be spent on laying the groundwork for victory in the coming battles.

Matt Ford tracks the psychological toll the stress of "Trump's gnawing hunger to be at the center of the daily news cycle" takes for the New Republic. We writes:

Wasting time is a defining feature of Trump’s presidency. He is fairly adept at frittering away his own days, spending an indeterminate number of hours languishing in front of the television, simply to watch cable news coverage of himself so he can then offer comments about it on Twitter. But when it comes to wasting the time of everyone around him, the president is without peer. Trump’s haphazard style of governance forces journalists, lawyers, and government officials to expend innumerable hours on doomed initiatives and errant tweets. His corrosive effect on American politics forces Americans to devote far more hours of their life to thinking about him than they should. All of this amounts to a tax of sorts on the national psyche—one that can never be repaid.
It is time progressives cannot afford to waste.

We tore out the nasty carpeting in the Democratic committee headquarters here last weekend after our monthly planning meeting. Funds are secured to replace it now so the space will be ready for the flood of volunteers in 2020. The air conditioning units that died in 2016 are gone, replaced this summer with efficient new ones. Such investment is unthinkable most places. Where would little county committees get the money?

I tell this story in my trainings about how good planning builds on itself:
You all know these guys. They show up every presidential election. You’ve never seen them, don’t know their names. All they want is a yard sign. But if at your storefront they see volunteers arriving for a phone bank, signs bundled and staged to go out, people with clipboards headed out to canvass? I’ve seen this multiple times: People who are never going to knock a door or pick up a phone get their signs and – unprompted – pull out a checkbook and ask, "Who do I make the check out to?" And leave $100.

Because they can see with their own eyes your team has got it going on. And they don’t even know what It is. But it smells like victory and they want a piece of it.
Bridget McCurry has no money. She also has a regional call center she carries in her trunk and can set up overnight. She built it from parts. Much of it donations or from the Goodwill store. Thirty laptops running Chrome, with cheap headsets, mice, and a customized VoteBuilder interface developed by a high school intern who went on to Stanford University.

Bridget McCurry is, shall we say, unorthodox. She’s beyond thirty-something. She calls volunteers her Kings and Queens, makes them glitter name badges. She claims 80-year-olds teach 70-year-olds in five minutes how to run Crowdcall, the customized VoteBuilder tool. She makes phone-banking easy. She makes it fun. And she is relentless. Volunteers don’t come back to make calls for candidates. They come back to make calls for Bridget.

And she didn’t write a grant request or start a nonprofit or launch a Kickstarter. She. Just. Started. She built this with virtually no income, but with drive, passion and creativity. If you are waiting for money before planning your Get Out The Vote program, you might be doing it backwards.

Democrats as a party let local infrastructure languish because their approach to campaigns is too top-down and too campaign-focused. Even Obama's vaunted turnout machine was the most top-down "grassroots" effort ever seen. County committees in many places are so under-resourced and demoralized they have forgotten how to win if they ever knew. Across the country, local committees cannot even maintain Facebook pages, let alone websites. State parties make it hard for voters to find their local organizations.

Not long ago, New York state Democrats listed chair names, street addresses, and maybe a phone number for many county organizations. (They have since improved.) An organizer said at the time, "I don't think Andrew wants us talking to each other."

It's even harder for a voter to make contact in Louisiana.

Grinding teeth to nubs over tweets won't fix that. Donald Trump won't likely defeat himself. Progressives spread countless pixels complaining about the lack of proper infrastructure for fighting the right's messaging. What we miss is how much winning comes down to mechanics and logistics and to just getting started. As for money, if you build it, the money will come.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

He 's afraid of Obama's yuge crowd size

by digby

Ah. This explains it:

President Trump has now canceled his planned trip to Denmark, claiming he’s doing so because Denmark’s prime minister has shot down his “proposal” to buy Greenland. But is that the real reason he has nixed the trip?

Some observers have offered another possible explanation: Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, plans to visit Denmark at the end of September, and Trump feared the contrasting optics.

“Trump was scared of the likely contrast,” opined David Frum. “Trump knows Obama is bigger than he is, around the world as well as in the United States. That knowledge tortures Trump.”

Several things are immediately striking about this episode. First, it’s a measure of how low we’ve all sunk that, in trying to explain why the president of the United States is making a consequential decision involving an official state visit, we’re forced to choose between two competing rationales that have nothing whatsoever to do with international diplomatic considerations or our national interest.

Notably, the official reason for the cancellation is nearly as saturated in narcissism and megalomania as the “less” flattering Obama-oriented explanation is: Trump is either angry that Denmark Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen is not taking his suggestion seriously, or he’s embarrassed by it — or both.

Trump might argue that he views acquiring Greenland as being in our national interest, of course. Indeed, The Post reports that officials had discussed offering Denmark an arrangement in which the United States takes over its annual subsidies to Greenland, apparently because of wariness of Chinese and Russian expansion in the Arctic.

Of course Trump was afraid that Denmark would show more love for Obama than for him. He's not wrong to assume that. And the biggest clue is that Trump insulted Obama at least 733 times in his chopper talker this afternoon.

Just a couple of examples:

Toxic nostalgia

by digby

This from Michelle Goldberg
is the most important thing you will read all week:

In 2014, Peter Pomerantsev, a British journalist born in the Soviet Union, published “Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible,” which drew on his years working in Russian television to describe a society in giddy, hysterical flight from enlightenment empiricism. He wrote of how state-controlled Russian broadcasting “became ever more twisted, the need to incite panic and fear ever more urgent; rationality was tuned out, and Kremlin-friendly cults and hatemongers were put on prime time.”

Since 2016, the book has enjoyed a new life among people struggling to make sense of the dual shocks of Brexit and Donald Trump’s victory. Both catastrophes demonstrated the triumph of xenophobic post-truth politics, and both were assisted by Russian information warfare. Pomerantsev’s book about Russia suddenly seemed prophetic about the rest of the world.

Now, he’s written a penetrating follow-up, “This Is Not Propaganda: Adventures in the War Against Reality,” that is partly an effort to make sense of how the disorienting phenomena he observed in Russia went global. The child of exiled Soviet dissidents, Pomerantsev juxtaposes his family’s story — unfolding at a time when ideas, art and information seemed to challenge tyranny — with a present in which truth scarcely appears to matter.

“During glasnost, it seemed that the truth would set everybody free,” he writes. “Facts seemed possessed of power; dictators seemed so afraid of facts that they suppressed them. But something has gone drastically wrong: We have access to more information and evidence than ever, but facts seem to have lost their power.”

Why? Social media, which enables the rapid spread of misinformation, is clearly one reason. But Pomerantsev’s most intriguing insight is about how a post-fact society emerges from despair and cynicism about the future.

Throughout the Cold War, he writes, “both sides were engaged in what had begun as a debate about which system — democratic capitalism or communism — would deliver a rosier future for all mankind. The only way to prove you were achieving this future was to provide evidence.” Obviously, this didn’t mean regimes told the truth, only that they were invested in being seen as truthful. That’s why facts that revealed their deceptions could endanger them.

But today, few leaders claim to have an ideological map to a better world. The march of history has been replaced by the will to power. Pomerantsev contrasts Soviet propaganda, which tried, however crudely, to be convincing to outsiders, with modern Russia disinformation, which just aims to confuse. You could make a similar comparison between Ronald Reagan’s rhetoric and Trump’s. One way of communicating points forward, the other, back. Pomerantsev quotes the Russian-American Harvard professor Svetlana Boym, who wrote, “The 20th century began with Utopia and ended with nostalgia.”

Reading that, I thought of a feeling I’ve had since 2016 that the orderly progression of time has given way to something chaotic and hallucinatory. I don’t think I’m alone in this; it’s common to hear liberals talk about the “dark timeline” we’re all trapped in.

So much of the culture feels stuck. Social media creates a sense of eternal present; things that happened two weeks ago feel like half-forgotten history. Internet technology, once imbued with futuristic idealism, has become a source of destruction and dread. Fashion has turned back to the 1990s, which was itself a time of nostalgia for the 1970s. Cinemas are full of remakes. At least when the Sex Pistols screamed “No future,” they were sublimating nihilism into art. But now?

“It’s like we went too far. We imagined too much,” says a character in the recent TV series “Years and Years,” a dystopian drama co-produced by HBO and the BBC that takes place just a few years in the future. “We sent all those probes into space, and we went to the very edge of the solar system, built the hadron collider and the internet, and we painted all those paintings and we wrote all those great songs, and then, pop. Whatever we had, we punctured it. And now it’s all collapsing.”
To move beyond this horrible moment, we’ll need to reform the algorithms that turn YouTube into a machine for radicalization and make Facebook an accessory to ethnic cleansing. But the bigger challenge may be to create belief in a future that doesn’t seem nightmarish, to restore faith in a rational path forward, to give people a sense of control over their destiny. “The need for facts is predicated on the notion of an evidence-based future,” writes Pomerantsev.

A society invested in real, tangible common projects needs objective truths. One organized around a desperate longing for a mythologized past does not. Pomerantsev’s book suggests that the authoritarian darkness that’s descended on so much of the globe is a hangover from the so-called end of history after the Cold War. If that’s true, perhaps one way to dispel it is to get history moving again.

There is no going back. And frankly we shouldn't want to. Despite the belief among too many of both the young and old, things weren't better "then." It's been bad for a long time, with waves of hope coming in fits and starts. It's important to make Trump the apotheosis of this long term dark trend.


I think he means it

by digby

He says this over and over again. At some point I think people have to consider that he's actually thinking about it.

I think people believe he's trolling and of course that's part of it. But he is a salesman who believes that loud and annoying repetition is the best way to advertise. (Think used car ads on late-night TV.) So I don't think it's smart to dismiss this out of hand. If the election is even slightly close anywhere I have no doubt they will contest the results. And if it turns into a political shitshow as it was in 2000, I could easily see him refusing to leave and we simply have no real mechanism for removing him without his cooperation.

This could happen in 2020. But if he legitimately* gets four more years there is no telling what they will have done to make this "legal" by 2024.


Flipping the Senate is not out of the question

by digby

It's CW that the Dems have no chance to take the majority in the Senate but it's not actually true. Yes, it would be difficult because the country is polarized and most states are red or blue with little chance of changing them in the near term. We saw how that played out in a blue wave in 2018. However, some states are in flux and the number of Republican seats up for reelection is much higher than for Democrats so there is a chance.

This piece in Rolling Stone analyzes the lay of the land:

Mark Kelly, the fighter pilot-turned-astronaut and husband of retired congresswoman Gabby Giffords, announced in February that he is running to unseat Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) in 2020. His campaign has been doing quite well. In July, it announced that Kelly had raised $4.2 million in the second quarter, more than all but six presidential candidates. Kelly’s campaign manager called the haul a “sonic boom.” Get it?

On Tuesday, an Arizona poll showed Kelly leading McSally — who lost her 2018 race against Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) but was appointed by the state’s Republican governor to fill the seat left vacant by John McCain’s death — by a margin of 46 to 41 percent. If Kelly goes on to defeat McSally next November, Democrats will have flipped Arizona’s two Senate seats in two scant years following over two decades of Republican control.

Republicans currently hold a 53-47 advantage in the Senate. Thirty-four seats are up in 2020. Twenty-two of them are currently held by Republicans. On the surface, this seems like good news. Twenty-two chances to make up a three-seat disadvantage? And Democrats only have to defend 12 seats? Let’s do this!

The problem is that the vast majority of the 22 seats Republicans will have to defend are in solid red states. Only three are deemed to be truly up for grabs: McSally’s seat in Arizona, Cory Gardner’s seat in Colorado, and Susan Collins’ seat in Maine.

Gardner has been in the Senate since 2015, and, staring down reelection in a state Hillary Clinton won in 2016 by almost five points, has been careful to keep his distance from Trump (although he has endorsed his reelection in 2020). Considering his favorability in the state has been slipping and the popularity of possible challenger John Hickenlooper, who recently jettisoned himself from the presidential race, Gardner could be in trouble.

Same goes for Collins, who will face a respectable Democratic challenger in a state that voted for Clinton in 2016. When Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon, the frontrunner to land the Democratic nomination, announced in June that she is running to unseat Collins, she raised over $1 million in 10 days. She’s also outpacing Collins in in-state donations by a wide margin.

Though Democrats certainly have a shot to flip Arizona, Colorado, and Maine, all three races are expected to be close. But say Democrats do win all three seats. That would level the Senate at 50-50, right? Which means they’d only need to get lucky and flip one more seat to gain a majority? Maybe John Cornyn’s in Texas if Beto O’Rourke drops out of the presidential race to run? Maybe Steve Daines’ in Montana if Steve Bullock drops out and does the same? Maybe a truly galvanizing Democratic challengers could emerge purple-ish states — or at least states that have demonstrated some purple-ish or tendencies — like North Carolina, Iowa, Kansas, or Georgia?

It’s possible, but it’s also assuming Democrats can defend all 12 of their own seats that will be up in 2020, which is going to be difficult. The biggest test will come in deep-red Alabama, where Doug Jones won a seat in a 2017 special election largely because his opponent, Roy Moore, was a credibly accused pedophile. Undeterred, Moore is running again, but he’ll have to win a primary in which his opponents likely will not have been accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old. It’s going to be tough for Jones to hold the seat, regardless, and if he doesn’t Democrats will need to flip Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and at least two other states that don’t seem too inclined to go blue just yet. (This is also assuming Democrats will hold onto the other 11 seats they must defend, which is far from a given, especially in Michigan and New Hampshire.)

Though the odds are long, there’s still well over 14 months between now and the November 2020, which is practical an eternity in Trump years. There’s no telling what the president could do between now and then that could sink his own chances, and with them the chances of the Republican senators who have been holding his water. Stranger things have happened.

Indeed they have. In big landslide years, many strange things happen. And sometimes you just have a flukey election (as we know.) So it's not impossible. And it's really, really worth working for --- any progressive advances (or even a halt to the GOP destruction) will hit a brick wall named Mitch McConnell in 2021 otherwise.

Never say never. I wouldn't have thought the NRA could ever be in the position they are in either. (Yes, I know they still wield great influence, but the truth is that it's the gunowners not the organization holding all the cards now.) The right wing institutions are imploding and that includes the Republican Party.

Truckers in despair that the stable genius for whom they vote is destroying their lives

by digby

I'm sure these guys listen to Rush all day long. This is where that ends up:

Morris Coffman has been a truck driver for 35 years. And he's been a conservative for even longer than that — his whole life.

"That said," Coffman told Business Insider, "[Trump] is absolutely a moron. His idiotic ideas will tank the economy even further."

Truckers, like Coffman, lean conservative. A Verdant Labs analysis of Federal Elections Commission data found that nearly three-quarters of truck drivers are Republican — one of the most conservative jobs in America, along with surgeons and farmers.

And truck drivers supported Trump in droves, according to an Overdrive magazine survey from 2016. About 75% said they planned to vote for Trump, up from 66% who supported Sen. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012.

But a sharp downturn in the trucking industry and a slew of tax changes have hampered their ability to make a living. And many connect those two trends to Trump's economic policies.

"He has not affected our business in a positive way," said one truck driver who asked to be quoted anonymously for fear their small business might suffer. "He's killing our business. If consumers aren't buying, then there is no demand. This really isn't about my political leanings — it's pure business."

Trump's tax reworking in 2017 led to many truck drivers having to pay hundreds in taxes this year, thanks to a change in per-diem laws. Dennis Bridges, an accountant who specializes in doing taxes for truckers, told Mother Jones in April that 75% of his clients saw an unusually large tax payment, and about 20% had to fork over more than $5,000.

That might've been bearable in 2018, when trucking capacity was tight, the industry was raking in cash, and truckers saw their pay jump. But now the trucking "bloodbath," as Coffman and other truckers describe current transportation conditions, has meant low rates and low pay for truckers. Trucking has been in a recession since late 2018.

Read more: 2,500 truck drivers have lost their jobs in 2019 as the transportation 'bloodbath' rolls on. Here's the full list of bankrupt trucking companies.

Transport research groups reported that the volume of trucks purchased in July fell to its lowest level in nearly 10 years. The number of loads needing to be moved in the spot market tumbled by 37% this July compared to one year ago, and rates have fallen by as much as 18%.

"I have witnessed many ups and downs in the industry but nothing like this," Coffman told Business Insider. "Many, many owner-operators and drivers have either lost equipment or lost a job in the last year."


Whatever the cause of the downturn, truckers are a key demographic for any politician to target. The segment of truckers called owner-operators, for instance — who are independent, rather than company drivers — are fiercely engaged with politics on the national level.

Nearly 90% are registered voters, according to the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, compared to about 78% of the general population. More than half have contacted an elected official.

Trump has previously catered to truckers, pledging to slash taxes to help their businesses. "America first means putting American truckers first," he said at a 2017 trucker event.

But truckers, including conservative ones, don't believe Trump has lived up to his promise.

"You can not bully your way to a good economy," Coffman said.

These guys thought that an overfed, silly man on a reality TV show was a business genius. That's what comes of years and years of Limbaugh brain rot. They are learning the hard way. I won't be surprised if they vote for Trump anyway. That kind of hardcore indoctrination isn't easily undone, even with an economic catastrophe. But it only takes a few to make a difference....


Stephen Miller is on a roll

by digby

It just gets worse and worse.

First this:

The U.S. won’t be vaccinating migrant families in holding centers ahead of this year’s flu season, despite calls from doctors to boost efforts to fight the infection that’s killed at least three children at detention facilities in the past year.

“In general, due to the short-term nature of CBP holding and the complexities of operating vaccination programs, neither CBP nor its medical contractors administer vaccinations to those in our custody,” a Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

At least three children who were held in detention centers after crossing into the U.S. from Mexico have died in recent months, in part, from the flu, according to a letter to Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., from several doctors urging Congress to investigate health conditions at the centers.

The United States had previously gone almost a decade without any children dying while under U.S. immigration custody.

I'm pretty sure Miller and Trump consider those deaths a feature not a bug.

And now this:
The Trump administration unveiled a regulation on Wednesday that would allow it to detain indefinitely migrant families who cross the border illegally, replacing a decades-old court agreement that imposed a limit on how long the government could hold migrant children in custody and specified the level of care they must receive.

The White House has for more than a year pressed the Department of Homeland Security to replace the agreement, known as the Flores settlement, a shift that the administration says is crucial to halt immigration across the southwestern border.

The new regulation, which requires approval from a federal judge before it could go into effect and was expected to be immediately challenged in court, would establish standards for conditions in detention centers and specifically abolish a 20-day limit on detaining families in immigration jails, a cap that has prompted President Trump to repeatedly complain about the “catch and release” of families from Central America and elsewhere into the United States.

“This rule allows the federal government to enforce immigration laws as passed by Congress,” Kevin K. McAleenan, the acting secretary of homeland security, said in a statement. He called it a “critical rule” that would allow the government to detain families and maintain the “integrity of the immigration system.”

The administration proposed the rule last fall, allowing the public to comment on the potential regulation. It is scheduled to be published this week in the Federal Register and would take effect 60 days later, though administration officials concede that the expected court challenge will probably delay it.

[The Flores agreement protected migrant children for decades.]

Under the new rule, the administration would be free to send families who are caught crossing the border illegally to a family residential center to be held for as long as it takes for their immigration cases to be decided. Officials said families cases could be resolved within three months, though many could drag on much longer.

Trump administration officials — who briefed reporters on Tuesday night on the condition of anonymity to discuss the plans — said that many of the families would be detained until they were either released after being awarded asylum or they were deported to their home countries. Some families might be awarded parole to leave the facilities while the courts decide their fate.

The 20-day limit has been in place since 2015, a legal outgrowth of a 1997 court-ordered consent decree after a federal class-action lawsuit alleged physical and emotional harm done to immigrant children held for extended periods of time in the detention facilities.

Previous administrations tried to change the rules for detaining children in efforts to reduce surges of migrants crossing the border. Mr. Trump’s homeland security officials have repeatedly said that limiting the detentions of entire migrant families has driven the surge of Central American families who crossed the border this year.

The officials said on Tuesday that enacting the new regulation would send a powerful message that bringing children to the United States was not “a passport” to being released from detention.

They predicted that the rule would cause a significant decrease in the number of families trying to cross into the United States illegally, reducing the need for more family residential centers.

Withdrawing from the consent decree has also been a personal objective for Stephen Miller, the architect of Mr. Trump’s immigration policy. Delays in finishing the new regulation had prompted Mr. Miller to lash out at senior homeland security officials, who were ousted from the department.

The New York Times reported in April that Mr. Miller berated the former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Ronald D. Vitiello, for not finishing the new rule. Mr. Vitiello later had his nomination withdrawn by Mr. Trump, who said he was not tough enough for the job.

And to think that conservative evangelical Christians love these guys.


I miss shark week

by digby

He seems nice



It's over when young people vote

by Tom Sullivan

The election is over the minute young people decide to turn out," Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) tells the Washington Post. And so it is.

Murphy was responding to a gun-control program proposed by March for Our Lives, led by survivors of the February 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Co-founder David Hogg, 19, and other students propose “A Peace Plan for a Safer America.”

The Post reports:

The Peace Plan would create a national licensing and gun registry, long a nonstarter with gun rights advocates; ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines; implement a mandatory gun buyback program; and install a “national director of gun violence prevention” who would report directly to the president and coordinate the federal response to what advocates call a national public health emergency.
The group also proposes raising the age for gun purchases from 18 to 21, a 10-day waiting period for gun purchases, and a federally supervised "multi-step" gun licensing process, renewed annually.

The March for Our Lives proposal goes further than anything floated so far by the current Democratic presidential front-runners. The plan includes a kind of Peace Corps for gun violence prevention, plus "community-based urban violence reduction programs, suicide prevention programs, domestic violence prevention programs, mental and behavioral health service programs, and programs to address police violence in our communities."

The National Rifle Association (should that be prefaced with "Russian-funded"?) naturally will oppose such measures with whatever strength the struggling organization can bring to bear. Spokeswoman Amy Hunter tepidly called the March for Our Lives plan "out of the mainstream."

Hogg called the NRA “the big tobacco of violence in the U.S.,” adding, “The NRA cares as much about gun owners’ safety as the tobacco industry cared about smokers not getting cancer.”

Although a poll taken before the El Paso and Dayton mass-shootings found 70 percent of Republicans favor family-initiated "red flag" laws, the March for Our Lives proposal will find few (if any) friends among Republicans in Congress. Moderate Democrats concerned about their next elections will not be leaping on to the bandwagon either.

But backstopping the students' effort to gain control of the narrative on gun violence is a call for automatic voter registration when eligible teens turn 18. Activating the youth vote is key to moving the needle in Congress.

"The election is over the minute young people decide to turn out," Murphy said. "The only reason that Trump would get reelected is if young people stay home. The issue of gun violence is one of the only issues that truly motivate young people to shake off their indifference and aversion to voting."

An excited voter registration volunteer called yesterday to request laminated copies of this chart I created from last fall's NC turnout data. Showing nonvoters where the people power really lies in this country versus who actually exercises theirs (seniors) was enough to convince them to no longer leave their fates in the hands of parents and grandparents.

This shape of this NC data is similar around the country. Share it with your friends.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The most ineffectual Trump award goes to ....

by digby

Ivanka Trump has quietly been calling lawmakers since the El Paso and Dayton massacres to gauge their openness to movement on gun legislation when Congress returns, sources familiar with her conversations tell Axios. 
... Ivanka Trump spoke last Wednesday to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), while he was vacationing in Hawaii, to get an update on the bipartisan background checks bill he proposed with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.). 
The measure, which was initially introduced in 2013 after the Sandy Hook shooting, would expand background checks to nearly all commercial firearm sales.
"She called Manchin and said she was trying to get a sense of what bills are out there," a Manchin aide told Axios. 
As Steve M wryly notes:
Translation: Ivanka Trump has been not-so-quietly calling journalists, including those at Axios, to gauge their openness to writing stories favorable to Ivanka Trump on the subjects of gun legislation.

And needless to say, Ivanka's little PR push added up to nothing:
President Trump appears to be backing away from potential support for gun background check legislation, according to White House aides, congressional leaders and gun advocates, dimming prospects that Washington will approve significant new gun measures in the wake of mass shootings that left 31 dead. 
Immediately after the carnage in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, Trump said “there is a great appetite” for tightening background checks on people who buy firearms. But in recent days, Trump has focused in public remarks on the need to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill while emphasizing that the nation already has “very strong background checks right now” — positions that hew more closely to the views of the National Rifle Association.
Trump is running a base strategy for re-election. He has no choice since nobody else can stand him. The idea that he would in any way anger the gun nuts is ludicrous.

They play this game every time --- the horrific bloodshed galvanizes the gun safety advocates and arouses the masses to demand action. The Republicans pretend to give a damn long enough for the issue o fall off the radar screen at which point it just .... goes away.  Until the next time.

The only answer is to take the Republican party out of power and pass sensible gun safety measures.  In the long term the country needs to deal with this insane gun culture.

As for Ivanka, Steve M has the full indictment. What a sadly useless person she is.

He closes with this:
I keep hearing that Ivanka Trump will be president someday, and I keep thinking: Who'd vote for her? Here she is pursuing gun control. That alienates the right. Here she is failing in her efforts to lobby her own father on behalf of modest gun control measures. That alienates everyone else. She displeases everyone. Why? Why does she keep doing this? What does she think is in it for her?

A recent New York magazine cover story claimed that Ivanka has a solid fan base in Trump country:
Long perceived by MAGA die-hards as a shifty liberal, Ivanka is now mostly beloved on the right, where she polls better than her father in the critical states of the industrial Midwest, leading to speculation on mid-tier news sites that she might replace Mike Pence on the 2020 ticket and to fans’ dreams about Ivanka 2024.
In fact, Ivanka's poll numbers in those Midwestern states are mediocre:
In a Firehouse Strategies and 0ptimus poll released Sunday, Ivanka Trump was net favorable in Pennsylvania at 38-35 as well as Michigan at 37-36. The first daughter had a net disapproval rating of 35-39 in Wisconsin, but her favorability among likely general election voters surpassed her father's. She was +3 versus the president at -3 in Pennsylvania, +1 compared to his -5 in Michigan, and -4 to his -7 in Wisconsin.

"While not by overwhelming margins, Ivanka Trump maintains better net favorability among likely voters in these three states than her father does," the poll report states.
That could be the slogan for Ivanka in 2024: Awful, but Not by Overwhelming Margins.
I'll bet the margins will be overwhleming by 2024.


When a bully uses his pulpit

by digby

The term "bully pulpit" didn't actually apply to what we call a "bully" in 2020. (More like "bully for you!") But in Trump's case it seems to be working in the modern sense. He's changing people's minds --- because more people don't like bullies than like them:

One of the most enduring descriptions of presidential power comes from Teddy Roosevelt, whose description of the office as a “bully pulpit” reflected his conclusion that its true worth was not its constitutional powers, but the ability to speak with and persuade voters. A century later, political scientists had largely debunked Roosevelt. It turns out, Ezra Klein wrote in The New Yorker in 2012, that presidents don’t actually possess much power to sway public opinion.

But maybe Roosevelt was right after all. Recent polling shows that Donald Trump has managed to reshape American attitudes to a remarkable extent on a trio of his key issues—race, immigration, and trade.

There’s just one catch: The public is turning against Trump’s views.

A Reuters poll released today contains a trove of interesting data on race. Trump has long sought to use racial tension to gain political leverage, but this summer he has become especially explicit about exploiting and exaggerating racial divisions, with a series of racist attacks on four Democratic congresswomen, and then on their colleague Elijah Cummings, as a strategy ahead of the 2020 election.

But the Reuters poll casts doubt on that strategy: “The Reuters analysis also found that Americans were less likely to express feelings of racial anxiety this year, and they were more likely to empathize with African Americans. This was also true for white Americans and whites without a college degree, who largely backed Trump in 2016.”

Among the details, the number of whites who say “America must protect and preserve its White European heritage” has sunk nine points since last August. The percentages of whites, and white Republicans, who strongly agree that “white people are currently under attack in this country” have each dropped by roughly 25 points from the same time two years ago.

It isn’t entirely clear what is motivating these changes. As Ashley Jardina, a political scientist at Duke, told me recently, there has been a 10 percent drop in the number of Americans who espouse white identity politics since Trump entered office. Many members of that group interpreted the election of Barack Obama, the first black president, as a threat to their group, and with Obama out of office, they may feel less threatened. Jardina also noted, though, that Trump’s most explicit racist rhetoric turns off voters who may feel threatened but don’t exhibit classical racial prejudice.

But the Trump era has also radicalized Democrats, and especially white Democrats, who by some measures are actually more liberal on race than fellow Democrats who are minorities. Reuters found that more Democrats say blacks are treated unfairly at work and by the police than in 2016—remarkable given how coverage of police violence toward African Americans has dropped in the past few years—while Republican attitudes have remained unchanged.

Meanwhile, opinion shifts like the ones on race appear elsewhere. Consider immigration, which is Trump’s signature issue—though it is also inextricable from race, especially given Trump’s focus on and rhetoric about Hispanic immigration.

Reuters found that white Americans are 19 percent more supportive of a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants than they were four years ago, and slightly less supportive of increased deportations. Other polls find related results. A record-high number of Americans—75 percent—said in 2018 that immigration is good for the United States. Although the Trump administration took steps last week to limit even legal immigration, the Trump presidency has seen an increase in the number of Americans who support more legal immigration—not just among Democrats, but even slightly among Republicans.

Trump, like other presidents but arguably more so, exerts a special type of gravity by virtue of his ability to set the topic of conversation. His fearmongering on immigration has led even Trump critics to argue that if moderates and liberals do not limit immigration, it will embolden hard-liners like Trump. Yet far from suggesting a large appetite for greater immigration restrictions that’s being unmet, the polling data suggest a large appetite for more immigration that’s going unfulfilled thanks to Trump’s aggressive rhetoric. Moreover, there’s been evidence of a backlash against the president’s invective since the first months of his term. Trump has managed to force a national conversation around immigration, but rather than bring people to his side, he has convinced them he’s wrong.

One big problem for Trump is that voters have now gotten a chance to see him implement ideas that seemed novel or at least worth a shot during the campaign, and they don’t like what they’re seeing in practice. A trade war with China might have seemed worthwhile in summer 2016, but now that there’s actually one being fought, the public is having second thoughts, and fears of a recession are growing. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released yesterday found that 64 percent of Americans think free trade is good, up from 57 in 2017, 55 in 2016, and 51 in 2015. Meanwhile, the percentage who say free trade is bad has dropped 10 points since 2017.

The rising support for free trade is interesting in light of the Democratic presidential field’s attitudes toward trade. Barack Obama was a free trader and pursued the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a major trade agreement that was torpedoed by Trump early in his term. This year’s Democratic field has been notably skeptical of trade. In some cases, such as Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, that skepticism is rooted in long-held economic views. But other Democrats who were once more supportive of trade deals have also soured on them. It is possible that they, too, have been fooled by the Trump gravitational field into overestimating the public opposition to free trade.

Raw polling can, admittedly, be somewhat misleading on its own. Progressives have for years lamented the gap between the fairly liberal policies that the public says it favors and those that its elected representatives actually pursue. One reason for that is not everyone votes, and those who don’t vote tend toward the left.

But the Reuters poll offers reason to believe that the shifts it documents are directly relevant to the coming election. The poll found that “people who rejected racial stereotypes were more interested in voting in the 2020 general election than those who expressed stronger levels of anti-black or anti-Hispanic biases.” That wasn’t the case in 2016, when Americans who held strong antiblack views were more politically engaged.

I think he may have made a few people less prejudiced. If you hate him then you may be more inclined to look at your own views and recoil from any that correlate to his.

In any case, there's never been a president who dominates the national consciousness as Trump does. He's a demagogue and demagogues use the "bully pulpit" as their primary political tool. This experiment shows that it's not necessarily a positive for them.