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Saturday, September 22, 2018


By any means necessary

by Tom Sullivan

Botham Jean

Every July 4th, America celebrates its declaring independence from rule by hereditary royalty and landed gentry. These days it seems our problem wasn't with being governed by hereditary royalty and landed gentry, so much as that our British overlords were so ... foreign.

John Cassidy of The New Yorker observes that if Brett Kavanaugh takes a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, it will be the second time in 18 months a scion of "the Washington governing class" from Georgetown Preparatory School has received a lifetime, taxpayer-funded job on the court. After obtaining a law degree from Harvard, it goes without saying. (Or Yale. Yale would do, too.) Kavanaugh faces allegations of sexual assault committed while attending Georgetown Prep:

The idea that members of the “law-and-order party” would appoint someone to the highest court in the land while he is facing an accusation of this nature, and before it has been fully investigated, is outrageous.
As is the the idea that a reprobate under investigation for financial crimes and conspiracy with a foreign government can nominate him before that has been fully investigated. Privilege has its privileges.

After noting the school's $60,280 annual tuition for boarders and its graduates' proclivity for landing "upper professional class" employment, Cassidy writes:
My point is a broader one about social class, privilege, and the intergenerational transmission of high status. It is bad enough in a country with hundreds of law schools that seven of the current Justices graduated from just two of them—Harvard and Yale—and that Kavanaugh would make it eight. (Ruth Bader Ginsburg transferred from Harvard to Columbia University’s law school.) If the United States is going to start reserving positions like Supreme Court Justice and chair of the Federal Reserve for folks who have attended the most exclusive private prep schools and the most prestigious Ivy League graduate schools, it might as well go the full hog and change its name to England. Olde England.
Donald J. Trump, the self-styled working-class hero born into wealth, nominated Kavanaugh. Trump fawns over "winners," meaning those who, like himself, measure winning in stacks of hundreds, stock portfolios, and property deeds. The land of opportunity for America's home-grown ruling class is one in which Americans not of their stature wear "sucker" written across their faces as in a Looney Tunes cartoon. The unpunished — that is, essentially state-sanctioned — pillaging of America by Wall Street that led to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression and a grotesque widening of the wealth divide proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt. This is their country and they mean to keep it by any means necessary.

It is not that the concept of noblesse oblige is entirely dead, Adam Howard, a professor of education at Colby College, told NPR's Here and Now. Elite schools pride themselves on instilling "courage, compassion, care, concern and all of that." But that is not the main reason parents send children there. They send them to "make sure that they maintain and hopefully even advance their class position." What students take away from their time in these elite settings is not always what the brochures advertise:
“But those same values, also there’s another side. They also encourage win-at-all-costs attitudes, unhealthy levels of stress, deception, materialism, competition and so forth, selfishness and greed. So there’s a different side to it."
Just as the wealthy measure themselves against one another by their net worth, as measured against fellow Americans, their elite upbringing convinces some they are entitled to supplemental privileges. Such as being able to treat women like chattel and walk away protected by maleness and money. In a sense, the Tories never really went away. We just replaced one set for another.

It is a different America for others supposedly created equal: for women, for people of color, for the poor. Twenty-six year-old Botham Jean, black and unarmed like many before him, died from police gunfire in his Fort Worth apartment while watching football.

Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (another Harvard Law graduate) considers pointing out the wrongness of that something to hold up for ridicule:
[h/t N.A.]

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Friday, September 21, 2018

Friday Night Soother

by digby

We need a red panda baby this week:

The Milwaukee County Zoo recently announced the birth of their first Red Panda cub! The yet unnamed female was born June 6, and she now shares a birthday with her father, Dash.

The cub was born to first time mother, “Dr. Erin Curry” (also known as Dr. E.). Mom is 3-years-old and is originally from the Cincinnati Zoo. First time father, Dash, is 6-years-old and originally from the Granby Zoo in Quebec, Canada.

Because the youngster is still getting acclimated to her new surroundings, animal care staff is allowing her plenty of time to become comfortable and bond with mom before her introduction to visitors. It’s the Zoo’s hope she will make her public debut in the next few weeks.

In the wild, Red Pandas live in the mountains of Nepal, northern Myanmar and central China. Red Pandas are considered endangered due to deforestation, poaching and trapping. With an estimated adult population of less than 2,500 and an approximate mortality rate of 86 percent, every Red Panda birth is very important.

Red Pandas are solitary animals, only interacting during mating season. Youngsters develop at a slow rate, spending the first year or more with mom. Blind for the first

21 to 31 days after birth, mothers keep cubs hidden in nests for the first two to three months. Mothers then teach the cubs how to climb and hunt.

Red Pandas rely on bamboo for most of their diet, specifically the most tender, young shoots and leaves. But, they are only able to extract one-fourth of the nutrients from the bamboo. They can spend up to 13 hours a day searching for and eating bamboo. During the summer months, they supplement their diet with fruit and insects. Cubs stop nursing around 13 to 22 weeks old.

Adult Red Pandas weigh up to 14 pounds and are around 2 feet-long, but their tails add extra length of up to 18-inches! This new addition weighed 166 grams at 3 days old and could fit in the palms of her keeper’s hands! She is now about 2,538 grams (5 pounds) and keepers say it takes both hands to pick her up.

Red Pandas are easily identifiable by their reddish-brown color, white face markings and speckling of black around their ears and legs. They begin to get this adult coloration around 50 days old, which acts as a camouflage. The fur covering their bodies also covers the pads on their feet. This helps Red Pandas keep the heat in their bodies during the cold winter months.

Zookeepers report that the new cub is doing very well, and first-time mother, Dr. E, is doing a great job raising her first cub. Details of her debut will be coming soon!

Good Riddance 

by tristero

Ben Carson:

"The fearful part [Because of the Kavanaugh accusations] is that good people will be afraid to serve their government. They won't want to take the chance of their reputation being sullied," he said while speaking at the Values Voter Summit.
If, by "good people," does Carson mean people like Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump, Clarence Thomas, Rob Porter, John Bolton, Stephen Miller, Jeff Sessions, Scott Pruitt, and Carson himself? Are those the people he thinks are being discouraged from serving in government now?


We must be doing something right.
Another good reason to flip the Senate

by digby

Tapper: “If the Democrats win back the House and/or the Senate, Democrats will investigate what happened, the charges that Professor Ford is laying out, even if that means investigating a [sitting] Supreme Court justice?”

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse: “I am confident of that.”

He also said he wants to know why the FBI "stood down" which is interesting ...

Did Rosenstein really "suggest" wearing a wire? Not likely

by digby

The New York Times has reported out some gossip from inside the Justice Department back in May of 2017 around the time of the Comey firing in which a meeting between former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, Rod Rosenstein and others discussed the fact that Trump was a cretinous moron (my words not theirs). According to the Times, Rosenstein said he could talk to Kelly and Sessions about invoking the 25th Amendment declaring Trump incompetent and that he could wear a wire to record the president.  Apparently, he was also upset about being used by the president to write that silly memo rationalizing the Comey firing which you have thought he could have seen coming a mile away.

All of this is based upon second and third-hand information from anonymous sources who say they saw notes of the meetings --- no direct participants spoke either on or off the record. We don't even know if any of them aside from McCabe (whose notes seem to be what some of these people are basing their gossip on) work in the Justice Department.

On the other hand, the Washington Post reports, (NBC confirmed as well) that their sources say the meeting took place but that Rosenstein was being sarcastic responding to McCabe by saying "what do you want me to do Andy, wear a wire?" which sounds a lot more plausible.

Nobody has reported on why Rosenstein would have said he would talk specifically to Kelly and Sessions about the 25th Amendment since Kelly at the time wasn't the Chief of Staff but rather the Director of Homeland Security and both men were known to be loyal Trumpers even if Sessions had recently recused himself.

Let's just say this is a very weird story.

The point of it is obviously to give Trump cause to fire Rosenstein, although I don't know exactly how he can prove anything based upon a "failing New York Times" story. But Gabriel Sherman of Vanity Fair is reporting that this is former Fox News president and current White House communications director Bill Shine's baby and he is planning to roll out a major "fire Rosenstein" propaganda campaign.

I would guess it's also designed to take some of the pressure off the Kavanaugh confirmation scandal in order to keep the public from bearing down too hard and precipitating a move for him to withdraw the nomination.

I think we all know Trump is likely to fire Sessions and Rosenstein after the midterms no matter what. This might just be more building of the groundwork or they may have decided they need to push it up for other reasons having to do with the investigation. (That Manafort plea has got them reeling.)

Anyway, it looks as though the New York Times is likely being a pawn in their game. Of course it wouldn't be the first time.

Update ---

I’d like to point out something strongly suggested by the stories based on gossiping about Andrew McCabe memos. These stories portray what people not at a meeting that took place just after Comey’s firing think happened at the meeting based off hearing about memos memorializing them. From the WaPo’s far more responsible version of the story, we know that Lisa Page was also present at the meeting.

Another official at the meeting, then-FBI lawyer Lisa Page, wrote her own memo of the discussion which does not mention any talk of the 25th amendment, according to a second person who was familiar with her account.

And the WaPo’s version of the “wire” comment puts it in context, making it clear that Rosenstein was questioning how they could investigate the President.

That person said the wire comment came in response to McCabe’s own pushing for the Justice Department to open an investigation into the president. To that, Rosenstein responded with what this person described as a sarcastic comment along the lines of, “What do you want to do, Andy, wire the president?”

Now go back to earlier in the week, to the frothy right rehashing some texts Page and Peter Strzok sent, talking about opening an investigation into … someone, while Andrew McCabe was Acting Director. (Apologies for the Fox slurs about Page and Strzok.)

Text messages from disgraced FBI figures Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, discussing whether to open a “case” in a “formal chargeable way” after Director James Comey was fired, are under fresh scrutiny after Page told congressional investigators there was no evidence of Russian collusion at the time, according to three congressional sources.

Two hours after Comey’s termination became public on May 9, 2017, Strzok, a now-former FBI agent, texted Page, his then-colleague and lover: “We need to open the case we’ve been waiting on now while Andy is acting.”

“Andy” is a reference to then-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe who temporarily took over the bureau until Christopher Wray was confirmed as director in August 2017.

Page, a former FBI attorney, replied to Strzok: “We need to lock in (redacted). In a formal chargeable way. Soon.”

Strzok concurred. “I agree. I’ve been pushing and I’ll reemphasize with Bill,” believed to be Bill Priestap, the head of the FBI’s counterintelligence division.

Finally, here’s the WaPo version of Michael Bromwich’s description of the memos.
McCabe’s lawyer, Michael Bromwich, said in a statement that his client “drafted memos to memorialize significant discussions he had with high level officials and preserved them so he would have an accurate, contemporaneous record of those discussions. When he was interviewed by the special counsel more than a year ago, he gave all of his memos — classified and unclassified — to the special counsel’s office. A set of those memos remained at the FBI at the time of his departure in late January 2018. He has no knowledge of how any member of the media obtained those memos.”

These are “significant memos” and went right to Mueller when he was appointed. The kind of memos that might back investigative decisions, such as whether to open an investigation into the President.

So what the NYT spin of the story is about is suggesting that at the moment when DOJ opened an investigation into the President, the guy who opened it was “acting erratically.” Presumably based off the third-hand opinions of people like Jim Jordan, who knows a bit about acting erratically. It’s also about whether a discussion of removing the President took place at the same meeting where a discussion of investigating him did.

Likely, the messages are muddled, because they always are when getting laundered through Jim Jordan’s feverish little mind.

Nunes, Hannity and Dobbs must be so disappointed in Dear Leader today

by digby

They had "advised" him that this was the best course and he trusts their judgment implicitly, so much that he had issued the order without having any clue what was in the classified documents he ordered released:

If I had to guess, I'd say that someone told him that the information in the documents made him look bad. That's really the only reason he would do this. Unless Vlad was unhappy, of course.

Mark Warner had earlier warned Trump, "be careful what you wish for..."

Kavanaugh and the GOP hit men screw the pooch

by digby

My Salon column this morning:

Donald Trump held a rally in Las Vegas for Sen. Dean Heller. R-Nev., on Thursday night. (Heller faces a tough re-election fight against Rep. Jacky Rosen, a moderate Democrat well liked in Nevada.) His crowd was as ecstatic as usual, lustily chanting "lock her up" and booing energetically when Trump asked sarcastically, "What about our Justice Department, huh?" It's still jarring to see a president ginning up citizens to demand that his former political rival be put in prison, but this new disgust for federal law enforcement is downright disorienting.

Trump was introduced by Wayne Allen Root, author of "Angry White Male: How the Donald Trump Phenomenon Is Changing America." Root claimed that Trump had specifically requested him, which is probably true. They are both conspiracy theorists, having originally bonded over the "birther" craze that first put Trump on the wingnut radar. If they had a chance to chat last night in Vegas it is almost certain they talked about this:

That story had been teased in right-wing circles for a few days, even making it into the Washington Post opinion page when Kathleen Parker published a fatuous op-ed suggesting that Brett Kavanaugh must have an evil twin (she called it a "Kavanaugh doppelganger") who attempted to rape Christine Blasey Ford at a high school party. Most people not steeped in the right-wing fever swamps thought Parker's piece was just a bizarre fantasy, but those who are tuned in to social and professional GOP establishment circles understood that she was previewing a quasi-official alternative theory of the case.

What makes this whole thing important is that the person who concocted this story is a man named Ed Whelan who operates at high levels of the conservative legal establishment and is close to major players in the White House and to Kavanaugh himself. It is a testament to his reputation inside the Beltway that members of the press, as well as top Republicans, were all aquiver for the last few days waiting to hear what Whelan had.
When he finally laid it out on his twitter feed on Thursday night, with diagrams and floor plans that prove nothing and a lot of speculative folderol, it landed with a thud that sent shockwaves through the media and the political world, for reasons nobody expected. The story he lays out is not just embarrassingly feeble, it is recklessly defamatory. His alternative theory claims that Ford mistakenly identified Kavanaugh as her attacker, a charge which was telegraphed early on by Senator Orrin Hatch when he said that he'd spoken with Kavanaugh and believed she was "mixed up." But then Whelan actually throws suspicion on to a named individual who went to school with Kavanaugh. It's a shocking thing to do to this private person who, as it happens, even signed one of the letters of support for Kavanaugh.

The Washington Post characterized the reaction this way:
Republicans on Capitol Hill and White House officials immediately sought to distance themselves from Whelan’s claims and said they were not aware of his plans to identify the former classmate, now a middle school teacher, who could not be reached for comment and did not answer the door at his house Thursday night.
Saying they weren't aware that he was going to name another man as the attacker doesn't really get those Republicans off the hook. As the Post reports:
Whelan has been involved in helping to advise Kavanaugh’s confirmation effort and is close friends with both Kavanaugh and Leonard Leo, the head of the Federalist Society who has been helping to spearhead the nomination. Kavanaugh and Whelan also worked together in the Bush administration.

Kavanaugh and his allies have been privately discussing a defense that would not question whether an incident involving Ford happened, but instead would raise doubts that the attacker was Kavanaugh, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

That means Kavanaugh was personally involved in this inane charade which would be in keeping with his experience as a professional political operative and hardcore partisan hit man. Unfortunately for him, his skills are obviously a little bit rusty.

n any case, Kavanaugh's supporters seem to have done no real investigation beyond looking at a couple of yearbook photos and determining that the two high school boys looked similar (although anyone can see they aren't the same person). They neglected to inquire if any relationship had existed between Ford and the other man. As it turns out one did:

“I knew them both, and socialized with” the other classmate, Ford said, adding that she had once visited him in the hospital. “There is zero chance that I would confuse them.”
The fact that Kavanaugh and his allies would think it is necessary to go to this ridiculous length speaks to serious insecurity about his denials. If he was involved in this inane plot it is yet more evidence that Kavanaugh is completely unfit for the Supreme Court --- or any court.

And this may explain why they are so reluctant to get the FBI involved. As I mentioned, Orrin Hatch (as well as his deputy chief of staff) gave away the game early on as to why the Senators were pretending that there is no precedent for asking the FBI to interview some witnesses if new information emerged during a confirmation hearing. The last thing they wanted was for the FBI to go around checking on a story everyone was working madly to cover up.

And one can imagine the FBI doesn't really want to get involved in a partisan maelstrom like this either.  The president and his minions' relentless smearing of the bureau has to be making them second guess themselves in ways they normally wouldn't --- which is exactly the point. (Senator Sheldon Whitehouse D-DE,  told CNN's Jake Tapper on Thursday that he's concerned about this and he probably should be.)

Trump, on the other hand, had his own reasons for keeping the FBI out of it by falsely asserting that the FBI doesn't do such background checks. After all, he called the agency a "cancer on the country" so he undoubtedly assumes they will retaliate in any way they can. (That's how he operates, so he thinks everyone else behaves the same way.)

Trump's staff has urged him to hold fire on Kavanaugh's victim which he has done, for the most part, staying on message even though it obviously pains him to do it. But in a live interview with Sean Hannity at his Las Vegas rally, he couldn't hold back entirely, saying, "frankly, Sean, to see what is going on is very, very sad. Why didn’t somebody call the FBI 36 years ago," proving once more that he is incapable of ever learning anything.

Get ready for a very eventful week. As of right now, Ford's attorneys and the Senators are negotiating terms for her to appear for a public hearing. I don't think anyone knows how this one is going to turn out.

Sen. Hirono: FBI Should Investigate Death Threats to Dr. Ford As Witness Tampering

by Spocko

On Rachel Maddow on Wednesday Sen Hirono of Hawaii called out the death threats and intimidation of Dr. Ford as witness tampering and said the FBI should "do its job" and investigate.

 Since July Senator Feinstein's office honored Dr. Ford's wishes to remain anonymous. But then the press found out who Dr. Ford was so she identified herself publicly. At that point Senator Feinstein's obligation to keep her identity secret was dropped. However, as a constituent of Feinstein, an American citizen, and a key witness in an important government decision, Feinstein still has an obligation to Dr. Ford to protect her and defend her rights. 

Feinstein's office should have been prepared for the attacks on Dr. Ford and had a plan. There should have been a physical protection plan, a law enforcement plan, a secure communication plan, a media plan and a social media plan. But it looks like Feinstein's office left it all up to Dr. Ford and her people. The good news is that they aren't clueless, Lawrence O'Donnell has been praising their work all week.  Also, my new favorite Senator, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, has publicly called for the FBI to investigate the witness tampering.   

At this point I don't think Feinstein's office or Hirono's office needs to officially tell the FBI,  "Look into the threats to Dr. Ford as part of a federal witness tampering case." since crimes have been committed. But they could.

Senators Need To Proactively Protect Dr. Ford 

Democratic Senators can do more than wring their hands, "What can we do about these mean people attacking Dr Ford now -- and during the hearings?"

I don't know how witness protection works in the real world. I believe there are protocols and processes. Maybe Kamala Harris can help since she dealt with witnesses and she has a reason to keep Dr. Ford safe until it's time to talk to the committee. 
On TV when someone from a government agency tells a witness, "We can protect you."  I turn to Mrs. Spocko and say, "No they can't!" Because usually two seconds later they cut to a scene where the witness is attacked. I believe protecting witnesses in real life is more successful, which is good for the people involved, but would be bad for TV ratings. I'm glad Mark Burnett isn't in charge of witnesses. 
What I do know about witness tampering and death threats is the technical process used for tracking threatening phone calls and email like the ones Dr. Ford has received.

If Sen Feinstein's office was on the ball, (and they might have been) when Dr. Ford got the first phone call,  email or in-person threat the resources of the Federal government should have been used to trace and track the people making the threats. 

When there is a good cause for tracing a call (such as death threats) and there is support from law enforcement, technically speaking tracking the call or email back to the source has a very high success rate.  It's not like on TV, "We need another 30 seconds to triangulate the source of the call! Keep him on the line!" Forensic tracing is quick, especially when you are prepared and the people making the threats aren't technically sophisticated.

Then the judicial system needs to determine if it is a "true threat" (see Elonis vs. United States), the intent of the person making the threats, and if the communication constitutes witness tampering. All of these decisions are a separate part of the process.  (18 U.S. Code § 1512 - Tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant)

This is something Senators Hirono, Feinstein, Harris can announce right now.
"We will track, trace and investigate all credible threats against Dr. Ford and prosecute the perpetrators."
Sure we can send, "I believe you Dr. Ford!" tweets and write FB posts that we "have her back" but it will be the arrest and prosecution of the people making threats that will show the seriousness of the defense of the witness.

I love to flip the narratives to point out just how serious these threats are. Imagine that a candidate for the Supreme Court was worried about death threats. He or she could be prepared, they could ask to have their calls traced. We KNOW that those callers would be found almost instantly.

When the level of the threat is determined someone would spend days explaining their intent and, if it was determine it was a threat, they would go to jail. That would be appropriate due process. I always demand due process for cases involving people I like or don't like. It's the only way to ensure a modicum of fairness.
This same level of investigation and due process for a Supreme Court nominee should be made available for Dr. Ford right now.

I'm now a big fan of Sen. Hirono ever since she called out Grassley's office for their lame attempts to contact Dr. Ford.

“I would like us to come together and figure out what is the best way to proceed,” Hirono told ABC News on Wednesday evening. 
“Not this seat-of-the-pants stuff,” she added. “The latest, being a letter from the chairman to the Democrats saying, ‘We have done everything we can to contact her.’ That is such bullshit, I can’t hardly stand it.”
Thank you Sen. Hirono for calling out bullshit. You were right about Grassley's office then and are right about the role of the FBI now.

Sen. Hirono on Grassley's office inability to reach Dr Ford.
 "That is such bullshit, I can’t hardly stand it.”
The FBI doesn't need the President's permission to investigate death threats against Dr. Ford. Crimes have already been committed.

Now the next question to ask the FBI is, "How many people have you arrested for death threats and witness tampering?"


Nothing is real
And nothing to get hung about

by Tom Sullivan

Image via Twitter.

In the ongoing Brett Kavanaugh confirmation drama — now with Christine Blasey Ford's allegations of sexual assault at a teenage party — reality itself seems to be breaking down. That's just the way the sitting president likes it. He's in charge and reality is what he says it is. His faithful will believe whatever he tells them to because, as a used-car salesmen this week told the Los Angeles Times, “He would walk through fire for us.” And more besides used-car salesmen:

The doppelganger defense that has been percolating for days appeared on Twitter yesterday, reports the Daily Beast:
A former Supreme Court clerk gave an alternate explanation for Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in a Twitter thread. Ed Whelan, former law clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia and the president of a think tank called the Ethics and Public Policy Center, attempts to map possible locations for the party Ford described when telling her story about the alleged attempted assault. He points to a home belonging to another person whose floor plan “corresponds closely to Ford’s description” of the party house. Whelan claims Kavanaugh and the other person closely resemble each other.
See, the little lady was mistaken about who assaulted her. It wasn't Kavanaugh. It was one of his classmates and a character witness. Ford shot down that theory immediately. The point of such sophistry is not to get at the truth. It is to muddy the waters. Dissolving external reality sustains the Trump cult. The FBI could provide findings of fact to support or undercut the Ford allegations. That is the agency's role in such matters. But even if it did, even if the White House could be pressured into ordering the FBI to reopen its background investigation into Kavanaugh, would anything it finds matter? After all, the sitting president considers the law enforcement agency "a cancer in our country." Whatever he says is so, is so. Im-ho-tep!

Greg Sargent writes at Plum Line blog:
The bottom line is that a legitimate fact finding role for the FBI in this process is simply not possible with this president in office, and Trump’s corruption is the root cause of this. Because of it, there could not be such a fact-finding effort by the FBI in this case even if both parties were to agree that it’s desirable. And Republicans — who are now claiming that testimony by just Ford and Kavanaugh will be sufficient, to keep this dispute shrouded in he-said/she-said uncertainty — are complicit in creating this state of affairs, in which bringing an external, neutral fact finding effort to bear on this process is essentially unthinkable.

Kavanaugh very well may be entirely innocent, of course, but this only underscores the point further. That absence of that neutral effort to determine the truth — which is the direct outgrowth of Trump’s corruption of the rule of law for his own personal ends — will forever be a question mark over the process, should Kavanaugh get confirmed. After all, if you presume Kavanaugh’s innocence, that inevitably also means that this absence leaves doubt lingering over his ascension that should have been dispelled.
The cancer is not in our country. It is eating our brains.
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For The Win 2018 is ready for download. Request a copy of my county-level election mechanics primer at tom.bluecentury at gmail.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

A little bit of sunshine in a dark time

by digby

I know this is dark in and of itself, but it's the best I can do today:

OpenSecrets, a non-profit research organization, has conducted an audit of the National Rifle Association and found that the powerful lobbying group might be facing a budgetary squeeze as higher outlays are coming in conflict with shrinking revenue. Ironically, the organization’s problems are an byproduct of its most successful year ever, 2016. During that presidential election year, the NRA functioned as a key dark money group, funneling more than $30 million to Donald Trump’s successful bid for the presidency.

As OpenSecrets notes, “The NRA’s massive 2016 push was part of what ultimately became a $100 million spike in the group’s outlays between 2015 and 2016. But that spending wasn’t matched with similar growth in revenue, leaving the NRA with a deficit of more than $14.8 million.”

After Trump’s election, the NRA found itself in a budgetary trap because membership started to go down, a natural result of the fact that gun owners have less to worry about with Republicans controlling all three branches of government. Revenue from members shrank to $128 million in 2017, a plunge from around $163 million in 2016. There are signs the NRA is scaling back its spending in the 2018 midterms. They’ve only spent $2.7 million this year, a sharp reduction from the $10.7 million they spent at the same point in the last midterms in 2014.

“Their current business model cannot be sustained the way it is going,” Ohio State University accounting professor Brian Mittendorf told OpenSecrets.

Also they probably aren't getting as much of that "oligarch money" as they had been, now that Trump is installed in the White House to do their bidding. It's a shame.

Trump celebrates misogyny and more tonight in Vegas

by digby

Donald Trump rewards one of his most ardent followers:

“Big day today. I’m opening speaker 4 President of United States,” Wayne Allyn Root, a Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist and former Libertarian Party vice-presidential nominee, boasted Thursday morning on Twitter, hours before President Trump headlines a Las Vegas rally to elect a Republican ticket in the state.

“@realDonaldTrump personally requested Wayne Root as opening speaker to welcome crowd,” the right-wing commentator claimed. “Thank u Mr. President.”

The opening act makes sense considering Root’s long-running, often sycophantic friendship with the president.

Trump wrote a glowing blurb for Root’s 2015 book Angry White Male: How the Donald Trump Phenomenon is Changing America (which, coincidentally, featured a foreword by shady ex-Trump confidant Roger Stone). Root, in turn, emceed the future president’s 2015 campaign rally in Vegas, and later offered to become Trump’s own “Karl Rove” should he win the election. Earlier this year, Root bragged about spending a “magical evening” with President Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

And in many ways, Root is the Las Vegas version of Trump: He’s a ruthless self-promoter from New York; a heavily airbrushed and often-gaudy TV personality whose flashy antics and love of chintz have made him synonymous with a city.

Moreover, just like the president, Root is now a bombastic right-wing media personality obsessed with the Clintons, Obama, the physical appearance of liberals, and the batshit conspiracy theories that comport with his worldview.

Perhaps most infamously, when gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire and killed 58 people at a country-music festival on the Vegas strip last fall, Root proclaimed on Twitter, without a shred of evidence: “This is real thing. Clearly coordinated Muslim terror attack. PRAY for our Vegas police. PRAY for victims. VERY bad. Awful.”

After sustained outcry over falsely linking a deadly mass shooting to Islamic terror, Root refused to apologize or back down, instead claiming he heard about the connection from “credible news sources,” which, at that time, meant far-right conspiratorial websites like The Gateway Pundit. “I report it as I hear it,” Root added.

Days later, on his radio show, Root went off the rails, once again claiming “ISIS fingerprints were all over this thing,” before bashing the critics of his radical conspiracy-mongering: “I have nothing to worry about so I laugh in their liberal commie faces, their liberal commie Muslim-sympathizer faces. Screw you! Come and get me. Screw you.”

Months earlier, after it was revealed that a white nationalist allegedly murdered a female anti-racism protester during the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Root shared a particularly deranged theory: “Such B.S,” he said of the alleged killer’s far-right politics. “Probably paid actors & infiltrators hired by Soros. No conservative I’ve ever met commits violence. EVER.”

[I guess he's never heard of a guy named Tim McVeigh...]

Beyond waxing crazy about deadly news events, Root has also been a leading voice for the right-wing conspiracy theory that Democratic officials ordered the murder of former DNC staffer Seth Rich for allegedly passing stolen emails to WikiLeaks.

“He was murdered because he was the guy that gave all the DNC files to Julian Assange and Wikileaks,” Root asserted on his radio show in June 2018. “They just killed him for no reason and nobody seems to be interested in finding the killer. And it sure seems to me to point to leading Democrats—Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC, the Clintons, Hillary Clinton, all the above, Donna Brazile—all the above seem to be mixed up in this, they all had a motive to kill this guy.”

At other points, he has suggested that Rich’s murderer was former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, former President Bill Clinton, or Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta.
He has certainly never shied away from other racially tinged attacks on the first black U.S. president. Obama was a “Marxist, anti-American, anti-Israel, globalist, middle class-hating, Muslim sympathizer,” Root has repeatedly written. At one point, Root called Obama the “first Muslim president” in a column that sought to reveal the ex-president‘s “true religious loyalties.”

Throughout Obama’s eight years in office, Root claimed he was a “Manchurian candidate” who was sent—possibly by the Bilderberg Group—to “destroy this country” from within and “kill all of us.” He further maintained that Obama was gay, referring to him as “Bathhouse Barry” and claiming that his “friends in Chicago” told him the president had a “sordid past.”

While opening a 2016 Trump rally in Vegas, Root reportedly received rapturous applause by suggesting Clinton and her top aide Huma Abedin will meet the same deadly fate as two popular film characters who drove off a cliff. “We all get our wish," Root said of the Clinton-Abedin relationship. “The ending is like Thelma and Louise.”

Beyond the usual bevy of far-right conspiracy theories and inflammatory rhetoric, Root has seemingly fixated on the sexuality and physical appearances of his liberal enemies.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating President Trump’s ties to Russia, Root posited earlier this year, because he has “penis envy.” The radio host declared: “Mueller’s is smaller than Trump’s.” According to Right Wing Watch, Root has claimed that “all liberal men are gay” and “all liberal women are ugly.”

He has lamented how HBO host John Oliver married a “STUNNING. GORGEOUS… Trophy Wife” instead of “plain liberal women.” And he has suggested that MSNBC host Joe Scarborough only became critical of Trump so he could have “sex w/hot blonde” Mika Brzezinski, his fiancée and co-host.

He sounds like the perfect person to intro Trump today.

I wonder if Root or Trump will bring up the allegations by Christine Blasey-Ford? Will they chant "lock her up" in their usual drooling frenzy?

He was a DKE frat-boy. Need we say more?

by digby

"Yale banned DKE from campus for five years in 2011 after videos circulated of fraternity recruits chanting “no means yes, yes means anal” in front of the University’s Women’s Center."

The Yale Daily News reports:

In an Aug. 30 letter to leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee, female college classmates of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh ’87 LAW ’90 testified to the judge’s respect for women, praising his character and his support for female athletics at Yale.

But in his first year of college, Kavanaugh joined an organization notorious for disrespecting women: the campus chapter of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity.

A photograph that appeared in the Yale Daily News on Jan. 18, 1985, shows Kavanaugh’s fraternity brothers waving a flag woven from women’s underwear as part of a procession of DKE initiates marching across Yale’s campus. Kavanaugh does not appear in the photograph. But the portrait it paints of casual disrespect for women seems noteworthy in light of the explosive allegation by California psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford that Kavanaugh attempted to sexually assault her at a high school party almost 40 years ago.

In the 1985 photo, the DKE pledges — “fondly known as ‘buttholes,’” according to the caption — brandish a flag made of underwear and brasiers as they march outside Woodbridge Hall, Yale’s central administrative building. At the time, Bartlett Giamatti, the University’s president, was a former DKE brother himself.

Although the flag may seem shocking by today’s standards, the photograph appeared in 1985 under the tongue-in-cheek headline “DKE AT PLAY.” At the time of the escapades, Kavanaugh — who does not appear in the photo — was a sophomore, already inducted into the fraternity.

In a letter to the editor published in the News three days later, a Yale student, Rachel Eisler ’86, charged that DKE’s pledge antics “demean women.” She wrote that she approached one of the pledges carrying the flag to ask whether any briefs or jockstraps were affixed to the pole. “Well, I didn’t make it,” the pledge responded, according to the letter. He then said he doubted that any “guys’ stuff” would be woven into the flag.

“‘But hey,’” he told the female student, according to the letter. “‘Your panties might be here!”

Steve Gallo ’88, a member of DKE’s 1985 pledge class, said on Wednesday that the flag “was just somebody’s stupid idea” and that the underwear was “obtained consensually.”

During the fraternity’s “pledge week,” he recalled, the frat’s upperclassmen would send the new recruits out “for fun to talk to Yale women on their behalf.” Occasionally, he said, DKE brothers would send new recruits on “scavenger hunts” to find specific objects on campus.

“Pledges might ask for help from women they knew — or maybe the guy who sent them knew — to complete an item on the list,” Gallo said. “I am almost certain that is where any women’s undergarments would have come from … women people knew donating them willingly to play along.”

But in a comment on a post in the YaleWomen Facebook page, Jennifer Lew ’87, a classmate of Kavanaugh’s, recalled that DKE brothers would ransack women’s rooms while they were in class to collect undergarments. Another alumnus, Julie Klein ’87, described DKE as an “animal house.”

In addition to DKE, Kavanaugh also belonged to Truth and Courage, one of Yale’s secret societies for seniors. Among some students, the all-male club, which was popular with athletes, was known by the nickname “Tit and Clit.”

Truth and Courage fizzled out of existence in the early 2010s. But since Kavanaugh’s graduation in 1987, DKE’s reputation for mistreating women at Yale has only grown. Yale banned DKE from campus for five years in 2011 after videos circulated of fraternity recruits chanting “no means yes, yes means anal” in front of the University’s Women’s Center.

And this spring, the University launched an investigation into the fraternity’s sexual climate after reports in the Yale Daily News and Business Insider documented sexual assault allegations against more than half a dozen members, including the fraternity’s former president.

Kavanaugh does not appear to have spoken publicly about his time in DKE. But in a speech to the Yale Law School Federalist Society in 2014, he recounted “falling out of [a] bus onto the front steps of the Yale Law School at about 4:45 a.m.” after a night of bar-hopping in Boston, according to a partial transcript of the speech published in Mother Jones.

Not everybody at Yale in the 1980s remembers DKE as wild and misogynistic. Sam Chauncey ’57, a longtime Yale administrator, said this summer that “DKE was pretty tame back in Kavanaugh’s time.”

But “tame” was not the word that came to Eisler’s mind when she saw the DKE flag in 1985.

“I was totally shocked that something like that would happen at Yale,” recalled Eisler, who wrote the letter to the editor and now works as a high school English teacher in Maryland.

“Even when I describe going up to them and talking to them, I was asking them out of disbelief,” she said.

This has been their strategy for millennia

by digby

Michael Tomasky makes a great point today about the GOP's Kavanaugh strategy:

Well, it seems the Republicans have learned exactly one thing in the 27 years since the Anita Hill hearings: be respectful to the woman in the first 24 hours. Hey, that’s progress. At this rate, they’ll demand an FBI investigation in 2045, and by 2072, who knows, maybe they’ll actually believe the woman!

Read this New York Times article from October 7, 1991. It’s the first-day article announcing the explosive news that Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment just two days away from his full Senate confirmation vote.

In it, the reporter writes that the George H.W. Bush White House began pushback against Hill that very day, or the day before: White House staffers gave reporters the name of another woman who had worked with Hill and Thomas at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and would vouch for Thomas. The woman said Hill was making the charges up out of spite that Thomas “did not show any sexual interest in her” (the Times’ words, not the woman’s).

Compare to today. Kellyanne Conway said straight out of the chute that Dr. Ford deserves to be heard. Donald Trump said nothing untoward about her. Can you imagine how itchy his Twitter finger was on Monday morning? But they hid his smart phone in the White House gym or vegetable cellar or some other chamber Trump doesn’t frequent.

I’m not complimenting them. I’m observing that they figured out that the narrative on these kinds of things is set in the first 24 hours and so it was crucial that for those 24 hours, they behave themselves. Seem like they learned from last time, or even from #MeToo.

Lindsey Graham, earlier in the week, even uttered the r-word: “I’d have a hard time putting somebody on the Court that I thought tried to rape somebody. Period.” That quote arrested me, as it seemed to indicate that Graham was actually being open to the possibility of an investigation to determine just what Brett Kavanaugh actually did that night.

But within 24 hours, Graham was back on side. “Requiring an FBI investigation of a 36-year-old allegation (without specific references to time or location) before Professor Ford will appear before the Judiciary Committee is not about finding the truth, but delaying the process till after the midterm elections,” Graham tweeted after Christine Blasey Ford's lawyer said she wanted an FBI investigation before testifying. “It is imperative the Judiciary committee move forward on the Kavanaugh nomination and a committee vote be taken ASAP.”

So that’s what they’ve learned in 27 years—and evidently, it’s all they need to learn, because it looks like it’s going to get their nominee through. They played it cool at the start so that the first-day stories wouldn’t say the Republicans blew a gasket and immediately started discrediting the woman; so that instead, those stories would say “Republicans agree Dr. Ford should be heard.” Establish them as reasonable people. Then, once they skated through that news cycle, they’d start turning the screws.

They played it like Bond villains. Sit down, Meestah Bond. We are both men of the world. We have much to discuss. Beluga caviar? Dom Perignon ’55? What’s that, you prefer the ’53? Alfonso, down to the cellar, fetch a bottle of the ’53! It’s all civility for a few hours. Then they attach him to the laser beam machine with the piranhas swimming below.

That’s what the Republicans do, except they’re smarter than Blofeld. They don’t walk away so the captive can escape. They stay and watch. They finish the job.

There's more. I urge you to read it.

I think there's another aspect to this that goes a little bit deeper. Beating up a woman is a plus. I mean it. It reads "strong" and "dominant" to their base. Look at who is in the White House and how he got there.

This is a feature, not a bug. When Trump told McGahn and McConnell that he wanted a fight, this is precisely the fight he wanted.

Thanks Republican women!

by digby

I don't know where this might be playing but it's pretty powerful:

Kavanaugh will probably end up on the court, although anything can happen. (Collins and Murkowski gave away the game when they strong-armed Ford by saying they'd vote to confirm if she doesn't testify on Monday.)

It's just another insult to women --- for which we can thank white (is there any other kind?) Republican women. Their numbers are shrinking, by the way.

If Democrats retake control of Congress in November, it will be in part due to their strength with young women.

A new survey from the Pew Research Center finds young women — between the ages of 18 and 34 — far and away prefer the Democratic congressional candidate in their districts. Their preference for Democrats is significantly higher than that of women of other age groups.

Women overall are likely to lean blue, with 54 percent supporting or leaning toward the Democratic candidate in their district this fall, versus 38 percent who favor the Republican candidate. But 68 percent of young women are choosing Democrats, compared to 24 percent who prefer Republicans.

Younger men, meanwhile, give Republican candidates the slight edge.

I wonder why?


The GOP's top character witnesses

by digby

They must be so proud:

Former Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore called on Republicans to "take a stand" and support suggested U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh following the sexual misconduct allegations levied against him, adding that he believes the Democrats are using Kavanaugh's accuser as a political pawn.

Moore is no stranger to such allegations. He was accused by nine women of sexual misconduct that allegedly occurred during the 1970s - allegations that surfaced about a month before the December special election between Moore and Doug Jones. Moore denied the allegations, although he conceded to dating young women at the time.

The former Alabama Supreme Court urged Republicans to continue their support of the Supreme Court nominee.

"I think they need to take a stand. I think they need to do what their conscience dictates. They know what's happening," Moore told One America News in an interview posted Wednesday. "It's so obvious that these tactics are used just days before a very important event ...but these come up right before an election or a confirmation, and I think the Republicans need to take a stand. I think a lot of them don't. They don't like criticism."

Moore said Democrats are motivated by what they would gain politically by investigating the claims than getting to the truth.

"I think they don't care about transparency, they just use it because its effective," he said. "They know that on the one hand you offend women if you believe somebody that says they weren't guilty of sexual misconduct. On the other hand, if you don't believe them, you're condemning the person accused of guilt to prove his own innocence. It's a Catch-22."

How about this guy?

“It’s just a shame that a person like Judge Kavanaugh who has a stellar record — that somebody can bring something up that he did when he was a teenager close to 40 years ago. That’s not relevant.”

He added: “She said no and he respected it and walked away.”

--- Religious leader Franklin Graham

You can't make this stuff up.



Advanced Kavanaugh calculus

by Tom Sullivan

Chart via Axios.

The calculus behind bringing the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation to its denouement has become Hawking-level complex. Allegations of a sexual assault in high school and the prospect of testimony by Kavanaugh's accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, threaten to wrest confirmation from Senate Republicans' grasp.

Republicans are hell-bent to have this process over with before the mid-terms. Sen. Lindsay Graham gave away the game yesterday on Twitter:

Why the deadline? Graham doesn't explain. Greg Sargent does at Plum Line. Should the GOP lose the Senate in November, their position will be weakened and pushing through this nominee or any replacement nominee becomes that much tougher:
The Wall Street Journal editorial board is helpfully explicit on the real calculus here as well, warning: “If Democrats take the Senate majority, they’ll then insist on no vote until the new Senate convenes in January.” Republicans would not listen to that, of course, but as this basically concedes, moving forward at that point would put them in a politically brutal position.

By the way, Democrats may well partly want to delay this until after the midterms. But even if true, the fact that Republicans are citing this is still revealing. Republicans, after all, could support a fuller investigation into what happened while also getting in the vote before the elections — there is still time for both. The only thing that would delay this until after the elections is if Kavanaugh’s nomination became untenable due to that fuller investigation, forcing Trump to nominate a replacement. Thus, that is what they really want to avoid — a fuller accounting that could scuttle the nomination.
Should a fuller accounting be inconclusive, Sargent argues, that could actually strengthen the case for Kavanaugh's confirmation. But time and news cycles are not on the GOP's side. The longer Dr. Ford's accusation remains in public view, the more damage Republicans incur even if they succeed in putting Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.

Yesterday's gut-punch account of a high school rape case by Elizabeth Bruenig cast a stark light on the issue. Amber Wyatt found herself smeared and shunned for accusing two athletes or raping her after a night of drinking at a teen party. Despite physical evidence, there were no charges, no trials. Instead, the word FAITH appeared chalked on school sidewalks and on students's cars. An acronym, she learned, "meaning 'f--- Amber in the head,' or 'f--- Amber in three holes.'"

Over a thousand alumnae of the Holton-Arms School Ford attended signed an open letter supporting her. “Dr. Blasey Ford’s experience is all too consistent with stories we heard and lived while attending Holton. Many of us are survivors ourselves,” they write.

Women from the same "private school culture suffused by alcohol and drugs" that existed in upper Northwest Washington and Maryland suburbs provide the Washington Post with additional accounts, of "excess and illegality that went widely unchecked by parents and school leaders" in the 1980s.

The same story quotes several graduates of Kavanaugh's Georgetown Prep who "corroborate the impression that alcohol was an integral part of the school’s identity at the time and that heavy drinking and disregard or mistreatment of women were widely accepted."

Senate Republicans want this flood of reports quashed before it drowns their nominee:
Already burdened by an unpopular president and an energized Democratic electorate, the male-dominated GOP is now facing a torrent of scrutiny about how it is handling Kavanaugh’s accuser and whether the party’s push to install him on the high court by next week could come at a steep political cost with women and the independent voters who are the keystone for congressional majorities.
Whether or not Ford will appear on Monday before an adversarial GOP panel without additional FBI examination of her claims is in question. Iowa's Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chair of the Judiciary Committee, has set a Friday deadline for Ford to supply a full statement if she expects to appear on Monday. Sargent reminds readers Grassley originally wanted a private hearing out of public view. Under pressure for a public hearing, he's giving Ford the bum's rush.

Should Kavanaugh's nomination fail, Axios reports, Democrats expect to use the still-open seat "to crank up a presidential-election-sized campaign" between now and November 6 to turn the election into "a referendum not just on President Trump but also women’s rights, abortion and the future of the Supreme Court."

* * * * * * * * *

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

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

It could happen to you too, Trumpers

by digby

This is one of the arguments that are resonating in House races across the country and it is powerful:

It's a little bit comforting to know that most of my fellow Americans have some empathy. Or, at least, they are intelligent to know that a health crisis can happen to anyone.

It will still be a fight, no matter what. They are never going to give up. They're still trying to destroy Social Security and Medicare and as soon as a Democrat is back in the White House they'll be screeching about "entitlements" all over again.

But the more they fight the more the people will see just how insufferably indecent they are. And so it goes.

QOTD: The Invisible Attorney General

by digby

Trump told the Hill that he doesn't have an Attorney General, even condemning poor Jeff Sessions for alleged refusal to truly bring the hammer down on immigrants.

Sessions is doing his best to curry favor. Check out what he said just today:

If you want more shootings, more death, then listen to the ACLU, Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and groups who do not know the reality of policing. If you want public safety, then listen to the police professionals who have been intensely studying this for decades.

It's a testament to how scared Trump is of the Russia investigation that he can't acknowledge how much his base just loves that kind of talk from his Attorney General. Just ACLU, ANTIFA and BLM all in one sweeping condemnation!

Maybe Trump's jealous. When it comes to racist dog whistles, Sessions is a past master. If Trump was capable of learning, Sessions could even give him some tips.

Oh look, the FBI certainly can and does investigate

by digby

In fact, it's right there in the agency's name:


Today's epic gaslighting

by digby

If you own a business that sells survivalist gear in the case of nuclear armageddon, you'll want to put this interview with the president of the United States on your web-site. It's a great advertisement for your product.

The toady that calls himself a journalist John Solomon, testified on Hannity last night that the president sounded extremely well-balanced, in command of the issues and thoroughly in control.

Here is just one section. You be the judge:


John Solomon: Do you still feel good about a red wave? Do you think you could pull that off?

President Trump: I think this — we probably have the greatest economy in history, so they've tried many narratives with me. You know, I took that test when I got my last physical, and the doctor said that’s one of the highest scores we’ve ever seen. I did that not because I wanted but I did it, I was always good at testing.

But if there’s anything great about me it’s stability, and I’m a good manager. Always been a good manager, but you know, I have a vision. And I had just beaten 17 – because it was actually 18, including Gilmore, just so you know. People say 17 but it was actually 18, you know he was the Governor of Virginia, so it was 18.

And I had just beaten 17 people including the Bush dynasty. I then beat the Hillary Clinton dynasty. You can give me credit for Bernie Sanders and all because I was cause I was part of it, but you know, so I beat the Bush dynasty, the Clinton dynasty, 17 people, and I never left center stage once, you can check.

I never left center stage meaning I had lead in republican primaries from Day one. And I had, and I went through 14-12 debates, 12-debates before Hillary. And I never left center stage, and then they make up a thing, well, maybe he’s losing it, maybe. No, I, I would know that so fast.

By the way, when you start asking me questions maybe someday, and I say, ‘Hmm I don’t know those answers,’ I may say, ‘Well, it’s time to hang it up, OK?’ But the opposite, and I will say that the narrative, the different narratives, they’ve tried all different narratives.

They’ve tried that, they tried, ‘he’s a dictator, he’s a fascist.’ One of them did, one of them did, ‘he’s losing it,’ and the next week they went into, ‘He’s the most brilliant mind. He’s taking over the country. He’s a fascist, he’s a dictator, and he’s gonna make the 8 years into life.’ OK.

I said wait a minute, last week, I was incompetent and now, I’m, you know, taking over the world. OK? It’s incredible. It’s sick. But, the various narratives that they do are just so bad, they’re just so bad for the country. It’s just really so bad.

And they’re such opposites in a sense. Like, if you take insurance they want single payer, which can’t be afforded, and we want really great healthcare where people get a great price.

You know, really great stuff where people get a great price. I mean there are such differences, I could go on, on almost every subject.

So, it’s hard to bring everyone together unless there’s a, maybe very large national problem, which we don’t want. Maybe that brings people together, like it did for about a day with the World Trade Center, you know.

And by the way the worst single mistake ever made in the history of our country — going into the Middle East, by President Bush. Obama may have gotten ‘em out wrong, but going in is to me the biggest single mistake made in the history of our country. Because we spent $7 trillion dollars in the middle east.

Now if you wanna fix a window some place they say, “oh jee, let’s not do it. Seven trillion, and millions of lives — you know, ‘cause I like to count both sides. Millions of lives.

To me is the worst single mistake made in the history of our country. Civil war you can understand. Civil war, civil war. That’s different. For us to have gone into the Middle East, and that was just, that was a bad day for this country, I will tell you.

John Solomon: How do you convince people not to vote Democrat? What’s your argument to say, keep Republicans in charge?

President Trump: By the way, to finish that, I think we’re going to do much better than anyone thinks because the economy is so good, and people do like the job I’m doing. You know, they like the job, and to finish it off with just a little extra, when people say, you know, there’s a lot of action going on, I’m going through an illegal witch hunt. If I didn’t have that, you asked me a very good question before, do you spend much time on it? You have to spend time on it. I’m not supposed to be spending time on it. You know, part of this whole thing is that I’m not supposed to be spending any time on it. But I am.

Despite that I think I’ve done more than any president in history. If you look at the things we have done, with the tax cuts, and all of the things that we’ve done, including hopefully now two Supreme Court justices, we’ll have more judges put on than any other president other than one.

Do you know who the one is? George Washington. Percentage wise. I’ll have more than him too, but percentage wise (laughs).

I said that the other, you know I have 145, plus hopefully two Supreme Court judges. And that’s assuming nobody leaves the bench which they will over the next period of time. It’ll be number one. I outta say, ‘Who has highest percentage of federal judges.’ They say, ‘you do.’ I’ll say no, no. I got killed. They said who? George Washington because he appointed a hundred percent of the judges.

So, Buck, I have, in addition to what I’m doing, I have this thing which I wanna run. I wanna manage, but this was used as an excuse, even though it actually started long before I won. You know, and we only found that out through the texts.

This was a hoax before. But the Democrats used this as an excuse for having lost the election, when the Electoral College is totally their way. I mean, I had to run the entire East Coast, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania. I had to win places that haven’t been won in years. I won Wisconsin. I won Michigan. I had to run states that nobody thought were possible to do, except me, and some people and some pollsters, and some good pollsters. Rasmussen was very good I have to tell you.

So, you know, we’re really happy with the job. And just in finishing I was just gonna say that, so they like to say, chaos in the White House. You’re here. It’s running so beautifully.

And expect [sic] for the one area that you asked me about before, Mike Pompeo is a star, everyone of my cabinet members is doing great. I just have one group that’s not been good. You know what that group is.

That's the end of the interview.

That's the man John Solomon finds very impressively in control and on top of things.

Wall-nut in the White House

by digby

He used to talk about the Great Wall of China being his inspiration so I suppose this makes some sense to him too.

But this is the wall that he grew up with and is obviously what he's really got in mind:

building it

putting up the barbed wire

I'm serious. Of course this is his image of the wall.  It was "the wall" everyone his age grew up with --- men with guns stationed in watchtowers, shooting people who tried to go over the top. He thinks that's perfectly normal.

He doesn't know that it was built to keep people in. But he probably doesn't have a problem with that either.

Update: Jesus H Christ

DONALD Trump suggested building an enormous wall across the Sahara to solve Europe’s migrant crisis, a Spanish politician has claimed.

Spain's Foreign Minister Josep Borrell, a former President of the European Parliament, said Trump insisted his Mexican barrier idea would work for Europe as well.

Such a wall would probably span about 3,200 miles and, based on the costs of the proposed wall in Mexico, cost around £85billion, involve 90,000 plus workers and take three-and-a-half years to build.

But while these numbers are epic enough, constructing a wall would more likely than face teething problems - not least shoring up its foundations in shifting sands.

The respected Spanish politician did not reveal when the controversial US leader allegedly put forward his radical migration solution.

But diplomatic sources suggested it was in June when he flew to the States in a trip coinciding with the visit to the White House of the Spanish King and Queen.

Slippery when wet

by digby

Always dignified:

President Donald Trump on Wednesday could be heard telling a victim of Hurricane Florence to “have a good time.”

Trump made the remark while handing out meals to hurricane victims in New Bern, North Carolina.

“Got it?” Trump said as he handed two meals to a person in a car, adding: “Have a good time.”

The comment caused one MSNBC reporter to speak out off camera.

“I think he just said have a good time!” the reporter gasped.

I gasped when I heard this:

“This is a tough hurricane, one of the wettest we’ve ever seen from the standpoint of water.”

Jonathan Chait observes:

Watching this video is very much like the common experience of making small talk about the weather with a stranger, except rather than ending the conversation after the normal ten seconds or so, the stranger believes his job and stature require him to elaborate with words that are not at his disposal. And so Trump adds that the hurricane “certainly is not good,” and that people have died (“That’s a tough one, it’s tough to understand”) and also that it “has been a nasty one, a big one.”

In the video, Trump is using his favorite dignified scowl. (The New York Times reported last year that the president told staff he wants to look “like Churchill” when he makes this face.) Except Churchill knew more words than an average 10-year-old, and he also wrote them down before he started speaking to the entire country.

You would have thought with such a monumentally wet hurricane, Trump would have at least brought some paper towels.

  This pool report...

Oh my dear God.