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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Post Trump Loss: Dealing With Angrier White Men

by Spocko

It seems like everyone's talking about angry white men (AWM) these days. Who are they? What are they angry about and why do we have to get off their lawns?

Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The politicians want to know the answers to these questions so they can get their votes. The mainstream media want to talk about them to help the non-angry white men understand why they must be appeased--instead of all others.

Fox News and right-wing radio just straight up pander to them. They also need to create more, since their viewers are dying off.

(Speaking of dying off, fun fact: If you compare two people with equivalent schooling and income, the Trump supporter will be the sick fat one. I'm not making this up. See WaPo study under the health subhead.)
I was listening to Micheal Kimmel on Marketplace talking about his book, "Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era, which came out in 2013. He has talked to several hundred of these guys and described them as having, "aggrieved entitlement." (Doesn't that sound like a joint problem? "Uncle Joe has traveling lumbago--with aggrieved entitlement.")
"They were right to be angry, they had been badly done by." What he wanted to say to them--but couldn't because he was the interviewer--was, "Do you really think that it was immigrants who issued those predatory loans that forced you to sell your house or leave it in the middle of the night? Do you think it was feminist women who are responsible for climate change? Do you think it was LGBT people who outsourced your job?' So, I feel that they have a right to be angry but they are delivering their mail to the wrong address."
Too bad he couldn't ask the question. But if he had, and they believed him, would he have been able to convince them to direct their angry "mail" to the right address? A great idea, but it's based on a biased premise.

Kimmel is approaching the men and their opinions about the targets of their anger like a good liberal, which is, "People are basically good. If they knew the truth they would direct their anger at the real villains, not scapegoats!" vs the conservative view which is, "People are no damn good. Take care of yourself and family. Only suckers help others. Don't let "those" people get something for nothing."

When Trump loses in November, angry white men are going to take it out on people they believe stopped Trump: Progressives, Democrats and women. They will also go after the people they believe made America crappy for them: immigrants, Muslims, people of color, the LGBT community and of course, the "liberal media."

They will be angrier than ever. They will feel more "voiceless" since Trump has been saying what they all have been thinking. What form will their attacks take? I expect the usual incoherent rants, bumper stickers and comments in "liberal newspapers." Of course some will go too far.

The good news is that when these threats go beyond the blowhard scale, we have a mechanism in place to address the issue.

Angry White Thugs With Guns Get Busted

Yesterday I wrote a piece for Crooks and Liars. 2 Bundy Ranch Thugs Who Threatened Feds Going To Jail, about how two of Bundy’s militia buddies didn’t get away with their threats.

I think Cooper’s case is an important one for people to know about. The DoJ got Cooper to roll on all his buddies, thus strengthening the government's case for the main trials in 2017. The government isn't the ineffective, incompetent group of lazy idiots the Bundy boosters think they are.

If these militia mooks spent more time on the 1st Amendment vs. the 2nd, they would know that threatening speech isn't protected speech. They might also know social media can be used against them. Here is Sean Anderson broadcasting from the Bundy Oregon stand-off. Link

When the angry white men with guns start with their violent threats after the Trump loss, we have a plan to follow. It involves evidence, arrests, and public trials. There will be convictions and appropriate punishment. They won't get to go down as noble, patriotic martyrs --but as bullies and criminals.

What is ironic is that for years they said Obama was going to arbitrarily take their guns. When they finally lose them, as well as their freedom of movement, it will all have been done legally and after due process.
An unusual definition of impartial

by digby

Politico reports:
In an interview with New York Times investigative reporter Jo Becker on Wednesday, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange accused the press of supporting Hillary Clinton, whom he likened to a “demon.” 
“The American liberal press, in falling over themselves to defend Hillary Clinton, are erecting a demon that is going to put nooses around everyone’s necks as soon as she wins the election, which is almost certainly what she’s going to do,” Assange said in the interview, which was broadcast live Wednesday on Facebook.
In Wednesday’s interview, Assange said WikiLeaks is impartial. He also reiterated earlier statements that he would publish more information about the 2016 election in the future.
Trump, of course, is the guy who wants to change the libel laws so the press can't publish anything he doesn't like but whatever. At least he isn't a demon. (I think he meant succubus actually.)

I wish he sounded unusual but he doesn't. I get this stuff all day long.

Update: Here's one now.

Presidential: some of his best friends are his Mexican servants

by digby

This is some of the rhetoric the press corps is saying showed Donald Trump to be presidential today, hitting a home run with his photo-op trip to Mexico City.
I happen to have a tremendous feeling for Mexican Americans, not only in terms of friendships but in terms of the tremendous numbers I employ in the United States. They are amazing people. Amazing people. I have many friends, so many friends and so many friends coming to Mexico,and in Mexico,  I am proud to say how many people I employ. And the United States, first, second and third generation Mexicans are beyond reproach. Spectacular, spectacular hard working people.
First of all he's being very clear there that he thinks Mexican Americans are ok but their relatives in Mexico aren't so "spectacular." He said this to the president of Mexico.

Second of all, who talks like that? All the Mexicans he "employs?"  What the hell? Are they his servants?   Is it really necessary to go to Mexico and talk about how many Mexican friends he has and  vouch for how spectacular they are?

Seriously, this is exactly how white people used to talk back in the 1960s when they were trying not be racist. He might as well have pulled out a taco bowl.

If the US press corps thinks this now qualifies as presidential we've gone much further down the rabbit hole that I thought.

Welcome to dystopia

by digby

Last night Trump told his audience in Everett Washington (where the polls show him running 17 points behind) the "country is going to hell, folks."

Actually, not so much, at least most people don't think so:

How Americans feel about the state of their lives have improved markedly in the eight years since Barack Obama was elected president, according to Gallup data released Tuesday. 
In 2008, fewer than half of Americans said their life was good enough to be considered "thriving," according to Gallup. But that's changed: "The 55.4% who are thriving so far in 2016 is on pace to be the highest recorded in the nine years Gallup and Healthways have tracked it," according to the report.

Not only that, members of each ethnic or racial group in Gallup's study feel better about their lives. 
"The percentages of U.S. whites, blacks, Hispanics and Asians who are thriving have all increased during the Obama era," Gallup notes. The percentage of blacks thriving has risen by about 6 points, as has the percentage of whites and Hispanics. Asian thriving has risen by about 10 points since 2008. 

The biggest threat to our future well-being right now is a guy named Donald Trump. 

There are always going to be people who are suffering and there are way too many of them right now. But this idea that we are living in uniquely horrific times just doesn't comport with reality.  People ought to read a little bit about the Great Depression or slavery or one of the epic world wars that went on for years in the last century. We have problems and the world is undergoing change that's presenting a big challenge for the future. But we've been through worse even as recently as 9/11 or 2008. We're doing better and most people know it. 

Let Trump be Trump. Buhleev 'im.

by digby

They don't really have a choice, do they?

Michael Tomasky has a good piece in the Daily Beast reminding us of that time when Mitt Romney backed off all of his wingnutty primary policies in the debates and Obama was briefly behind in the polls. He says Romney came up because people never believed the wingnutty stuff in the first place and because most Americans are decent, mainstream people he benefited from showing his true colors, however belatedly. Trump is different because his ugly positions are the real ones and decent people will not believe him if he tries that.

I agree with that. But Tomasky also thinks Trump's base is going to rebel if he backs off of his draconian immigration stuff even if he just hints at it:

[I]f they give Trump a pass on this stunning a flip-flop on the hard right’s core issue, these people are pathetic. My instinct is that they won’t, or enough of them won’t. None of these people will be Hillary voters, of course, but some may stay home, distraught that their hero caved into the very same dark forces he won their ardor by maligning. Illegal immigration is The Big Issue for the hard right. Has been for a decade. It was the No. 1 issue for Tea Partiers, despite much media misunderstanding about this; Tea Partiers viewed immigrants as a bunch of freeloaders.

If Trump drops deportation in his big speech Wednesday night, it’s hard for me to see how he doesn’t lose huge chunks of that base. Even if he speaks words something like “I’m not dropping deportation” but then proceeds to outline steps that smell like he’s dropping deportation, he’ll lose big portions of the base...

Honestly, I don't think so. They don't like him because of policy. They like him because of attitude. They're cheering all this blather about "helping" African Americans at his rallies and they don't give a damn about African Americans. They're all in.

Tomasky correctly points out that all those racist policies from the primaries are hurting him badly with college educated whites (as well as people of color, obviously) which is why he's attempting to "pivot." But again, it's hard to believe those folks will believe it. Trump's character and personality are not obscure. His completely over exposed on TV and they all saw what he was at the Nuremberg Convention in Cleveland. His fundamental grossness is clear to everyone. That's what his followers like about him. The question is how many of them there really are and how many people are going to vote on both sides.


The ugliest American

by digby

I feel so proud today that this person is going to meet the leader of Mexico as a candidate for president of the United States.

That's just for starters.

And remember, there's not a dime's worth of difference between them.

Mylan didn't lower EpiPen Prices — they just appeared to

by Gaius Publius

These days have seen a number of stories about the Mylan EpiPen scandal, the essence of which is captured in the graphic at the top (note, though, that the graphic understates the EpiPen price; it's now around $640). Heather Bresch, Mylan's CEO, decided to increase corporate profit by increasing the price of a mature product, EpiPen, a device that delivers life-saving epinephrine to people who suffer life-threatening anaphylactic shock from allergic exposure to, for example, bee stings and peanuts.

In the view of most observers, she did it simply because she could.

West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin's daughter Heather Bresch, CEO of Mylan, and some of the work she's been doing. Note — the EpiPen price is actually around $640 at most pharmacies (source).

There's no economic reason for the price increases, any of them. Epinephrine (basically adrenalin) is not proprietary. As Dr. Lee Rogers notes in the first link below, "As a hormone, it's a product of nature and cannot be patented." And the delivery mechanism (the "pen") has been around since 1977. All of the R&D is done, and the medicine is cheap. All told, each EpiPen contains just one dollar worth of medicine. (And it seems the original EpiPen was at least partly developed with taxpayer money.)

Yet under Heather Bresch, Mylan has steadily raised the price from about $50, its price when Mylan acquired the 50-year-old product, to more than $600 — because they could. In 2009, the year Bresch became president, the price of the EpiPen was increased 19%, followed by 10% hikes each year from 2010 through 2013. Then:
After successfully pushing for legislation requiring all public schools to carry emergency epinephrine [devices], Mylan jacked up the price by 15 percent every other quarter from the end of 2013 to the second quarter of 2016 [emphasis mine].
And that's how the game is played.

A shakedown scheme with a sidecar of murder

As I noted here, this is basically a shakedown scheme with a sidecar of murder — "Got a peanut allergy? Pay my new price or the kid dies." In the meantime, corporate profit went through the roof, as did CEO compensation, as the graphic shows.

Dr. Lee Rogers, a medical doctor and former progressive House candidate, broke the story at DownWithTyranny:

There's a good follow-up here:

Two side wrinkles and you're up to date:

First, CEO Bresch may have engaged in insider trading when she sold over 100,000 shares of Mylan stock in advance of the latest price increases. As noted in the second link above, the stock price fell drastically after Dr. Rogers' piece was published.

Second, Bresch has taken Mylan through a corporate "inversion," a scheme by which a U.S. company buys a foreign subsidiary, then becomes a foreign corporation, with nothing else changing but its U.S. tax status. LA Times reporter Michael Hiltzik has written a full report on Mylan's inversion here.

Shamed by the scandal, Heather Bresch pretended to lower EpiPen's price

Mylan's price-gouging on its EpiPen business is indeed a scandal, not just on the business pages because of the sudden stock decline, but in the larger press because of the "vulture CEO" angle. Even MSNBC, which tends to keep hands off of Democrats, covered it, and tagged Sen. Joe Manchin in the story. (For more on Manchin and his responsibility for his daughter's career, do read Dr. Rogers' well researched story. Manchin's been involved at almost every stage of it.)

As a result of the horrible press, Mylan responded. It was initially reported that Mylan would lower the price of its EpiPen package by 50% in response to public outrage. For example, from The Hill:
EpiPen maker lowers price after uproar

The maker of EpiPens announced Thursday that it is reducing the price of the device following an uproar in Washington over the cost of the treatment for serious allergic reactions.

Mylan, the company that makes EpiPen, said it will provide a savings card worth up to $300 for people who had been paying the full price out-of-pocket, effectively reducing the cost by 50 percent.

The company is also making it easier to qualify for its patient assistance program, which eliminates out-of-pocket costs for uninsured and underinsured people....

Mylan announced the changed a day after Hillary Clinton denounced the company for hiking the cost of EpiPens 400 percent in recent years. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill had also sounded the alarm, sending letters to the company and to the Food and Drug Administration pressing for answers.

Mylan also pointed to insurance companies in its Thursday statement, noting that higher deductibles have left patients picking up more of the cost of drugs like EpiPens.
I hope you noted that last sentence, in which Mylan says "higher deductibles have left patients picking up more of the cost of drugs like EpiPens." Remember, each EpiPen contains about $1 worth of medicine. Patients are actually picking up the cost of CEO Bresch's nearly 700% compensation increase.

But it didn't take long for that "50% reduction in cost" claim to be more carefully looked at. For example, from USuncut:
EpiPen did not actually lower their price — it’s just another Pharma scam

Mylan Pharmaceuticals is now running a slick PR campaign to try and convince Americans they lowered the price of the EpiPen. Don’t buy it.

On Thursday morning, it was widely reported that Mylan responded to consumer outrage by lowering the price of the drug by 50 percent. While that may be true on the surface, the company didn’t actually change the price at all. The drug company’s rollout of EpiPen price cuts only applies to uninsured and underinsured consumers, who are given a $300 savings card while still having to pay roughly $300 more for a [$640] package of two EpiPens.
The bottom line?
However, the market price of the EpiPen remains the same.
And that's how the game is played.

This is Heather Manchin Bresch, by the way, in case you see her on the street. I'm sure she'd be glad to explain the numerous price increases at length. Maybe there's a nuance she can point you to that I've missed.

Mylan CEO Heather Bresch (source; photo credit Joe Wojcik)

Or maybe not. This really is shakedown scheme, with a sidecar of "or your kid dies." Is predator too strong a word for this behavior? Or is predation just business as usual in drug company CEO suites and the DC political offices that take their money?

Hate the drug companies? Support California's Prop 61 in November

If you think predator is not too strong a word for drug company "shakedown or death" profit schemes, consider supporting California's new Proposition 61, which will end Big Pharma's hold on unchecked and sky-high prices. Prop 61 is a serious attack on drug pricing, and it will work if it's passed. It will also appear in a number of other states if it's passed — hope for us all.

More on Prop 61 here.

(A version of this piece appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.)



Vote for me, you dupes

by Tom Sullivan

Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway is bragging on Trump's "boldness" for going after votes in black communities:

This entire conversation had to be had. Republican presidential nominees usually aren’t bold enough to go into communities of color and take the case right to them, and compete for all ears and compete for all votes. They’ve been afraid to do that. So, Mr. Trump deserves credit for at least taking the case directly to the people.
Good luck with that. In Pennsylvania and Ohio Trump polls at zero percent among black voters.

Jamelle Bouie is similarly skeptical. It is typical for Republicans to blame their poor showing among black voters on their “plantation mentality”:
The simple answer is that it’s patronizing, ahistorical nonsense that’s not at all unique to Trump. The problem goes beyond the mere optics of his “outreach”—producing dystopian portraits of black life for predominantly white audiences. And it’s not just the extent to which Trump is talking about black Americans rather than to them. The central issue is that Trump portrays black Americans not as able citizens who need to be convinced, but as mindless followers of a failed regime.


In this narrative, black Americans are mere objects—means to a partisan end. They do not choose or act as political agents. There are no black politicians or activists or leaders of any stripe. Instead, they are acted upon, tools of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. And worse, despite the horrors of Democratic governance, they don’t understand that they’ve been used and “betrayed.” They still vote for Democrats in overwhelming numbers. They are dupes.
Yeah, that should do it. That will make them forget Trump's birtherism, Rep. Joe Wilson's "you lie," voter ID, and the implication that white people go to polls to do their civic duty on Election Day while African-Americans go to commit multiple felonies.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Healthy It Ain't 

by tristero

Ironies of ironies. I literally finished making Mark Bittman's dead simple granola recipe when I read this:
A cup of Nature Valley Oats ’n Honey Protein Granola has 24 grams of sugar and actually contains more sugar than protein by weight. Nature Valley also has a Peanut Butter ’n Dark Chocolate Protein Granola that has 30 grams of sugar per cup. Bear Naked Honey Almond Granola has 20 grams of sugar per cup. 
By comparison, a slice of chocolate cake with frosting has 26 grams of sugar. A cup of ice cream has 28 grams of sugar. A regular Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut has 10 grams of sugar, according to the Krispy Kreme website.
There are three reasons I made Bittman's recipe. #1: we recently bought some Trader Joe's granola that was so sweet that I was literally gagging. A deep-fried Snickers Bar has less sugar and a more nuanced flavor. Second, I got tired of paying $7 for a scoop or so of yuppie granola which, given the ingredients and effort,  should cost - I'm guessing here - about $3 a pound. Finally, I had made a great recipe from Cook's Illustrated (this is basically the same recipe) but I wanted to see if I spent less effort whether it would make much difference.

I'll let you know. And meanwhile, next time I'm halving the maple syrup. No, it's not that healthy, but every once in a while, it's delicious. And you can freeze it like forever.

And now it's time to return to your regularly scheduled politics.

Because nobody can stand him

by digby

An excerpt from the forthcoming Washington Post Trump book:

He had never really had close friends. As far back as 1980, he had told TV interviewer Rona Barrett, “My business is so all-encompassing that I don’t really get the pleasure of being with friends that much, frankly.” She pressed him: Whom would you call if you were in trouble and your family wasn’t around? “Maybe I’d call you, Rona,” he said.

Thirty-six years later, when we asked Trump about his friendships, he took a considerable, unusual pause, and then said: “Well, it’s an interesting question. Most of my friendships are business-related because those are the only people I meet. The people I meet, really, I guess I could say socially, when you go out to a charity event or something. . . . I have people that I haven’t spoken to in years, but I think they’re friends.” And he named — off the record — three men he had had business dealings with two or more decades before, men he had seen only rarely in recent years.

“I mean, I think I have a lot of friends,” Trump continued, “but they’re not friends like perhaps other people have friends, where they’re together all the time and they go out to dinner all the time.” But was there anyone he would turn to if he had a personal problem, or some doubt about himself or something he’d done? “More of my family,” Trump said. “I have a lot of good relationships. I have good enemies, too, which is okay. But I think more of my family than others.”

And truthfully they don't seem truly close to him either. They were raised by their mother and their relationship with him is all about the business and now the campaign. In other words, it's all about him.

A classic narcissist, according to Dr. Seth Meyers, a clinical psychologist who specializes in relationships and parenting, sees people as objects and their children as mirrors. Such characters, preoccupied with their image, are indeed most pleased when their children more closely reflect the image that they themselves want to project to the world. The Trump kids, Meyers posited to me, were very much raised to reflect their father’s image of himself. “They learned very early on to be loved and to fit in with the image their father prized so much,” he said. “What narcissistic parents usually do is they want compliance, and boy, we have no better example of children who seem to be complying with their father and his agenda than these children.” (Growing up, “what he cared about was respect,” Ivanka recalled in a recent Politico Magazine profile. “You would never hear us yelling at our parents or using a tone that was inappropriate or disrespectful. Even a tone.”)

Trump, after all, is not only their father; he is also their professional mentor and boss. (Ivanka does have her own successful fashion line outside the Trump Organization.) “Mustn’t they have feared they could get fired if they didn’t mirror their father’s exact wishes?” Meyers asked.

I think the narcissist description is self-evident and those people aren't really interested in others. So it's not entirely weird that he would have gotten to the age of 70 without any friends. It's odd, however, for a politician. They usually cannot count how many they have gathered along the way. Just another way in which Trump is unique.


Throwback error number 763

by digby

More evidence Trump's stuck in the 1970s:

This is just nonsense he's selling his paranoid white voters who think that the big cities today are still like a scene out of "The Out of Towners"

Trump didn’t cite any evidence to support the point he’s trying to make. But his claim that crime is at “record levels” in the inner-city or elsewhere is false. Violent crime in America’s cities has actually been declining for two decades. The New York Police Department’s latest crime figures embody the point — while murders are up 12 percent so far this year relative to 2014, they’re down 82 percent compared to 23 years ago. 
“The average person in a large urban area is safer walking on the street today than he or she would have been at almost any time in the past 30 years,” the authors of a report on 2015 crime data for the Brennan Center For Justice wrote.
I think he may actually believe his drivel. His delusions are very powerful.  But it isn't true and it's important that people point this out. It's in the context of this lower crime rate that Black Lives Matter and similar concerns about over policing are particularly relevant. Trump and his people want police to "take the gloves off" at a moment of relative safety just as they want the border patrol and ICE to "take the gloves off" at a time of drastically reduced immigration. None of this is based upon increased threats of crime or economic competition. It's the work of a demagogue ginning up fear and hatred for his own purposes. 

Some very, very good news for a change

by digby

From Sarah Kliff at Vox:
The teen birthrate has plummeted rapidly since the mid-2000s — and a new study suggests better use of birth control is entirely responsible.

There are 42 percent fewer teen births now than just seven years ago. In 2007, 4.2 percent of teenage girls in the United States gave birth. In 2014, the rate was 2.4 percent.

This is an incredibly fast change in a public health trend, and it’s left some researchers puzzled over how it happened so quickly.

But researchers Laura Lindberg, John Santelli, and Sheila Desai say it’s not a mystery at all. Writing in the Journal of Adolescent Health, they find that teenage girls in 2012 were just as likely to be sexually active as girls in 2007. Survey research shows that 43 percent of girls between 15 and 19 said they’d ever had sex in 2007, compared with 45 percent in 2012.

What changed was how teenage girls used contraceptives. The percentage of sexually active teens who used at least one type of birth control the last time they had sex rose from 78 percent in 2007 to 86 percent in 2012. More teens gravitated toward better types of birth control — like pills, IUDs, or implants — rather than relying on lower-quality birth control like condoms.

This is one of those easy answers to difficult questions. Having sex is a very normal thing for adolescents. Hormones etc. Duh. But there is no reason in this modern world that young women cannot do what comes naturally without taking a risk in getting pregnant. (It could still happen, of course. No birth control is perfect. ) These statistics show that we can reduce the teen birth rate significantly, giving women better chances in life and often sparing them the need to get an abortion if only we take the practical approach to the problem instead of dealing with it as if it's a moral matter.

Not that anyone couldn't have predicted this beforehand...

Perhaps we could start taking some practical measures to reduce gun deaths too.

Nah ... what am I thinking?

Update: Unfortunately, these people aren't going away either:
Wayne Allyn Root, a Donald Trump admirer who often claims to be in frequent contact with the GOP candidate has led campaign rallies for him in Nevada, said yesterday that people who receive federal benefits such as Medicaid, welfare and food stamps should lose their right to vote, as should women who use “free contraception” under the Affordable Care Act. 
Root’s plan would cut a large swath of Americans from the voter rolls: Roughly one in five Americans benefit from means-tested benefit programs, while 67 percent of women with private health insurance use copay-free contraception through the Affordable Care Act (which, by the way, is paid for by insurance companies, not by the federal government). 
Root told Virginia radio host Rob Schilling yesterday that much of the energy behind Trump’s campaign, as he discusses in his new book “Angry White Male,” is that the country is “evenly divided between the makers and the takers,” so “the middle class is basically paying, paying, paying and the poor get everything free, and it’s a disaster.” 
Root said that he had recently seen a map on the internet showing that if only “taxpayers” had been allowed to vote, the 2012 election would have been “a Republican sweep.” 
“So if the people who payed the taxes were the only ones allowed to vote, we’d have landslide victories,” he said, “but you’re allowing people to vote. This explains everything! People with conflict of interest shouldn’t be allowed to vote. If you collect welfare, you have no right to vote. The day you get off welfare, you get your voting rights back. The reality is, why are you allowed to have this conflict of interest that you vote for the politician who wants to keep your welfare checks coming and your food stamps and your aid to dependent children and your free health care and your Medicaid, your Medicare and your Social Security and everything else?” 
Root quickly amended his statement to say that receiving Social Security and Medicare shouldn’t disqualify someone from voting, but “in general most of the things I just rattled off should preclude you from voting.”
Nice save... if they don't allow older, racist white people to vote they have a big problem. Unfortunately, the world seems to create new racist white people all the time.

They just want him to crack some heads

by digby

People have been trying to give Trump an out on his daft wall idea for months but he's been very clear that he means to build an actual wall like the Great Wall of China. I don't know why anyone thinks otherwise. The question is if it matters:
"And it will be a real wall. It will be a real wall. It won't be one of these little toys that you see every once in a while, our government throws up a little wall like this."

And this from a rally Wednesday in Tampa: “We’re going to build a wall, don’t you worry about it. We’re going to build a wall. We’re going to build the wall, and Mexico is going to pay for the wall, 100 percent. And it’s going to be a big wall. It’s going to be a real wall. It’s going to be as beautiful as a wall can be, but it’s going to be a wall."

And in remarks from that same town hall airing Tuesday night:

HANNITY: I want to talk about — you've said a lot of things about immigration. Let's start with, I guess, your signature issue on immigration, which is you're going to build the wall. 
TRUMP: Yes, 100 percent.
HANNITY: Here's my question — 
TRUMP: Well, you know, what has been interesting that I've been watching over the last week or two, and they've been saying, 'Oh, well maybe he won't build the wall, maybe he won't' — 
HANNITY: Jeb Bush said that. Jeb Bush said, "He'll never build the wall." 
TRUMP: Oh, he said that a long time ago. I think — 
TRUMP: I think people now realize we're building the wall. It's going to happen. It's 100 percent simple. You know, I tell the story all the time, the Great Wall of China, 13,000 miles long. This is 1,000 miles and we have Caterpillar tractors to build, okay? 
It's 1,000 miles — it's 2,000, but we need 1,000. And it's so easy to do. And it gets higher and higher and higher every time somebody says I'm not going to build it.
It's true that some Trump surrogates have suggested that the wall might be virtual. Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) said as much in May. At the time, he also referred to the "rhetorical deportation" of every illegal immigrant. "Maybe we will be building a wall over some aspects of it. I don’t know," Collins said.

Trump supporter and Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been calling it a "technological" wall and a "digital" wall for months.

But Trump has been steadfast on this point, giving himself no wiggle room.

What's more, while his supporters have been somewhat understanding of his waffling on deportation, the wall might be a bridge too far.
I've seen a few of his supporters interviewed on the subject and they were actually kind of chuckling about the wall. I don't get the sense they care about it that much. It's his attitude they like. As long as he promises to unleash the cops and the border patrol to do "whatever they need to do" they don't care about stuff like the wall or even deportation. They want somebody to crack heads, period. And that goes for Muslims and blacks too, whether here or over there. And if the Chinese need a little ass-whoopin' they're on board for that too --- just so long as we don't tie the military's hands, if you know what I mean.

This isn't about walls and doors. It's about showing who's boss. White America, that's who.

Trump's inevitable triumphant debate comeback

by digby

“I know who I am, and it got me here,” Mr. Trump said, boasting of success in his 11 primary debate appearances and in capturing the Republican nomination over veteran politicians and polished debaters. “I don’t want to present a false front. I mean, it’s possible we’ll do a mock debate, but I don’t see a real need.”
Frankly, it wouldn't do any good.  It's much too late for him to actually learn what he needs to learn so why bother? And with expectations so low for him he's likely to be seen as a winner if he simply manages to resist talking about his penis. I have every expectation that Trump will be hailed by the press as being sober and thoughtful and magically transformed on the morning after the debate.

Recall this:
Last night, the most crucial of her political career, Palin managed to come out of a rocky couple of weeks—marked by stumbling interviews with CBS's Katie Couric—with a credible, confident, aphorism-peppered debate performance that harkened back to her bravura acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. 
You can be sure the old "over-prepared" stick will be given the debate "on points" but she will not perform up to expectations. I may just tweet the reaction in advance and take the night off.

He still rules our world

by digby

I wrote about Drudge's ongoing influence in today's Salon:

Some years back Washington Post reporters Mark Halperin, currently of Bloomberg News and MSNBC, and John Harris now editor in chief of Politico, wrote a book about political journalism called "The Way to Win: Clinton, Bush, Rove and How to Take the White House in 2008." In it they made a famous admission about how beltway journalism works in the digital age:
Matt Drudge rules our world . . . With the exception of the Associated Press, there is no outlet other than the Drudge Report whose dispatches instantly can command the attention and energies of the most established newspapers and television newscasts. 
So many media elites check the Drudge Report consistently that a reporter is aware his bosses, his competitors, his sources, his friends on Wall Street, lobbyists, White House officials, congressional aides, cousins, and everyone who is anyone has seen it, too.
Mitt Romney's former spokesman called him the political media's assignment editor. And in 2012, on the day after the election, Halperin gave credit where credit is due:

I had sort of assumed  that Drudge's star had faded a bit in the intervening years as fresher, sexier right wing sites like Brietbart and The Blaze had emerged. But it turns out he's doing better than ever:
For the first time, The Drudge Report moved into second place on Similar Web's top U.S. Media Publisher rankings, placing just behind MSN.com with about 1.47 billion page view for the month of July. The Drudge Report's traffic beat out the likes of news sites from Disney Media Networks (which includes ESPN.com and ABCNews.com), Yahoo, Google, Time Warner and Fox Entertainment Groups.
In an article last month called, The Man Who Could Have Stopped Donald Trump, Oliver Darcy of Business Insider noted his still dominant role:
Drudge was the top traffic referrer to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, and other news outlets in 2015, according to a Vocativ report. The report said the site accounted for a staggering 52% of referral traffic to the Associated Press.
All those organizations are very well aware of the potential for clicks from a Drudge link and they know what kind of stories he wants to flog. The incentives to please him are obvious.

As we approach the last leg of the 2016 campaign it's worth remembering Drudge's original claim to fame:

The original post which went on to name various publications that were allegedly holding the item put journalists at the center of the story, and needless to say they were beyond excited. The rest, of course, is history. Drudge was fed news items for years by the media, which would often launder them through the foreign press and he would feature links with screaming headlines they could use to show "it's out there."

Today these stories are still generated in the British tabloid press but also at right wing conspiracy sites and bigger operations like Breitbart. Recently, Drudge managed to widely disseminate the discredited story of Hillary Clinton's alleged ill health by posting a picture from a fringe web-site showing Clinton slipping on the stairs some months before with this screaming headline:
That story is now part of the campaign, with demands for her full medical records and the press watching her every move like a hawk for signs of brain damage.

With the news this week that Clinton's right hand Huma Abedin had separated from her husband after yet another public humiliation, Drudge used the opportunity to t-up one of the right's favorite rumors: that Clinton and Abedin are secret lovers. Unsurprisingly, whispers among unenlightened right wingers about the feminist harpy Clinton being a lesbian go back decades but the Abedin insinuations, which started in 2007, have taken off in this campaign.

Mainstream publications have fed the notion with click-bait stories like this slide-show from Politico which sat at the top of their "most-read" list for months this year despite having been originally published back in 2013. As it turned out Drudge had been up to his old tricks. He had linked to a British tabloid story in which Abedin was quoted saying that she thought Clinton was beautiful which led to millions of drooling Drudge readers searching for "Clinton Huma lesbian."

There's no way of knowing if mainstream reporters were among those intrigued by Drudge's dirt but we do know that The New York Times found this item worthy of a breathless front page lede:
Among the trove of emails released from Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state was this instruction to a trusted aide who needed to brief her on a matter that could not wait: 
“Just knock on the door to the bedroom if it’s closed,” Mrs. Clinton wrote in November 2009 to Huma Abedin, then her deputy chief of staff.
Drudge doesn't even try to find political relevance to his lewd, juvenile innuendo but the mainstream media's reaction to this week's Weiner story was hardly any better.  Attempts to make it into a campaign story were downright embarrassing.

Yesterday, under the headline "Weiner free!" Drudge insinuated once again that Abedin and Clinton are lovers with a picture allegedly showing the two of them hugging with joy now that they've vanquished one of their husbands. As it turned out the picture wasn't of Abedine, it was Burmese opposition leader and 1991 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi, but whatever. He made his point.

We can be sure that Drudge's nasty little sex rumors aren't the end of it. The more scurrilous charges of Abedin being a secret Muslim agent are just now breaking into the mainstream direct from the fever swamps, via none other than Donald Trump himself. And publications like The Hill and The New York Post, hungry for Drudge links and eager to give the monster what it wants in return are already pushing it into the mainstream. As long as Matt Drudge is driving the news cycle it will only get worse.

Just think about that a little as you read this story:

Above: A morning headline on the Drudge Report—the right-wing news site that, like a number of other outlets with similar ideological orientations, is crudely obsessed with the idea that Hillary Clinton and her longtime adviser Huma Abedin are involved in a secret lesbian/Muslim relationship. Abedin just separated from her husband, Anthony Weiner; the picture and the caption imply that Abedin has in fact dropped Weiner—and perhaps forgone all penis-related romance—because of her relationship with Clinton.


As it turns out that isn't a picture of Abedin at all. But the point is that this story of lesbian/Muslim brotherhood alliance (in itself totally daft) is pervasive in the right wing fever swamp. And that's fine. They have their little corner of the world where they can say whatever they want to each other.

That report was from August 15th, 2016.

Don't kid yourself, the Villagers still devour this disgusting piece of garbage. If you want to get a feel for the zeitgeist that moves them, read Drudge.

Nothing's changed since then I'm sorry to say except that Drudge's traffic is bigger than ever.

After the storm: delegitimizing a Clinton win

by digby

I wrote about it for Salon this morning:

The latest beltway gossip (aside from Anthony Weiner's latest sexcapade) is that Trump and his Trumpettes have shifted their focus from trying to win the presidency to making sure that a Hillary Clinton presidency is a total disaster. Politico's Edward-Isaac Dovere reports:
The Clinton delegitimization project is now central to Donald Trump’s campaign and such a prime component of right-wing media that it’s already seeped beyond extremist chat rooms into “lock her up” chants on the convention floor, national news stories debating whether polls actually can be rigged, and voters puzzling over that photo they think they saw of her needing to be carried up the stairs.
Leading Democrats in Washington and beyond recognize Trump’s tactic because they’ve seen it before. President Barack Obama and his allies spent eight years sandbagged by the birth certificate/Bill Ayers/his-middle-name’s-Hussein attacks that all boil down to the same thinking now threatening Clinton: He’s a fake; his presidency either doesn’t count or is a Moorish-style Trojan horse.
Donald Trump certainly remembers it. He was the man who brought "birtherism" mainstream, questioning the president's basic qualification to be president. And now, most Republicans don't believe he was born in the US.

Democrats undoubtedly remember that even before Trump flogged that inane conspiracy theory Senator Mitch McConnell declared that the number one task before the GOP was to make Obama a one term president and Senator Jim DeMint promised that health care reform would be his "Waterloo."  Total obstruction followed.

One would have thought that after the embarrassment of having to ask the candidate's own brother to manipulate the voting apparatus in Florida in 2000 and then having to call upon Supreme Court Justices who were appointed by their candidate's father to stop counting votes would have made them think twice but they were not daunted by such hypocrisy. They already knew how successful it would be because this wasn't the first time these same Republicans had portrayed a Democratic president as illegitimate. They'd done it with Bill Clinton.

In the book, "A Complicated Man: the life of Bill Clinton by those who knew him" the subject was covered by a number of close confidantes and contemporary reporters. Journalist Michael Kinsley observed:
In 1992, there was a feeling among Republicans of Manifest Destiny, that they were supposed to rule forever. At that point they had been in power since 1980 and basically conservatism had been dominant since the 1978 congressional elections. They thought it should go on forever. That is the reason they were so resentful of Clinton. How could he have won? The only explanation is he must have done something terrible. He must have cheated because he wasn't supposed to win.
Clinton strategist Paul Begala told the author, 'There was an ongoing effort to delegitimize him. Some on the right refused to call him President Clinton, called him "Mr Clinton" instead." He recalled that Congressman Dick Armey said on the floor of the House "he's your president."

And they used the fact that Clinton won with a plurality due to the Ross Perot candidacy as proof of his illegitimacy despite the fact that all the studies showed he took equally from both parties. On the day after the election Senator Bob Dole announced, "fifty-seven percent of the Americans who voted in the presidential elections voted against Bill Clinton and I intend to represent that majority on the floor of the US Senate." And so began the eight years of relentless investigations, scandal mongering, obstruction and finally impeachment.

This is how they operate when Democrats hold the White House. When they have a majority they will lean on investigations and "show" votes to delegitimize the moral authority of the president and create chaos and distraction. When they are in the minority they will obstruct everything. In both cases they will  work to make the American people see a dysfunctional government that takes their money and offers precious little in return.

If the election were held today, Hillary Clinton would win with less than 50% of the vote.  It would be a perfectly legitimate win, as was her husband's in 1992, Richard Nixon's in 1968 and Harry Truman, Woodrow Wilson and Abraham Lincoln before her. But I think you can see how that is likely to be interpreted by the Republicans. They no longer assume they are in the midst of a thousand year reign, but they have rationalized that by creating the myth of rampant African American voter fraud and hordes of undocumented immigrants voting illegally. She will not be seen as legitimate.

They were very successful at pushing their juicy narratives of corruption and personal misconduct into the mainstream 20 years ago and with the 24 hour news cycle and social media pressures, the press is even less likely to resist today. This is why you see calls for a special prosecutor and wild claims of treason and illegality. If the Republicans manage to keep control of one or more house of congress, they will have a platform from which to run their scandal circus and their own media will prime the MSM pump.

It's already happening with the State Department emails which have been gathered by right wing organizations for the express purpose of feeding the scandal machine. You can see the outlines of how the mutually reinforcing feedback loops works from Sunday's Face the Nation in which congressman Jason Chaffetz cites a discredited AP report about the Clinton Foundation as proof of corruption and promises thorough investigations in the next congress. Likewise Meet the Press in which Clinton's speech condemning Trump's incestuous relationship with the Alt-right was presented as equivalent to Trump's incestuous relationship with the alt-right and characterized it as a "race to the bottom."

There is a bigger concern, however and one that gets more acute every time this happens. This cynical delegitimizing of the duly elected president ends up delegitimizing our democracy in general. And it's getting downright dangerous. Trump's "second amendment" remedy talk and the incessant demands to "lock her up" are taking this way beyond even the political trench warfare of the 1990s and the gridlock of the last eight years. These are barely disguised calls for violence. The political media should be very wary of being used as couriers for that message.


Stock up on popcorn

by Tom Sullivan

Photo by cyclonebill (Popcorn) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

As the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates prepare for their debates, they are bringing in expert advice, the New York Times reports:

Hillary Clinton’s advisers are talking to Donald J. Trump’s ghostwriter of “The Art of the Deal,” seeking insights about Mr. Trump’s deepest insecurities as they devise strategies to needle and undermine him in four weeks at the first presidential debate, the most anticipated in a generation.

Her team is also getting advice from psychology experts to help create a personality profile of Mr. Trump to gauge how he may respond to attacks and deal with a woman as his sole adversary on the debate stage.
With Trump's lack of impulse control, even knowing what's coming won't help him. Besides, this guy doesn't prepare for anything except a strong breeze.
He has been especially resistant to his advisers’ suggestions that he take part in mock debates with a Clinton stand-in. At their first session devoted to the debate, on Aug. 21 at Mr. Trump’s club in Bedminster, N.J., the conservative radio host Laura Ingraham was on hand to offer counsel and, if Mr. Trump was game, to play Mrs. Clinton, said Trump advisers who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the debate preparations were supposed to be kept private. He declined.
Questioning Trump's net worth and intelligence and business prowess are possible lines of attack. Ghostwiter Tony Schwartz told the Times Trump will bring "nothing but bluster" to the debates, and nothing of substance:
“Even so,” Mr. Schwartz said, “Clinton has to be careful — she could get everything right and still potentially lose the debates if she comes off as too condescending, too much of a know-it-all.”
That's what did in Al Gore in his first debate with George W. Bush in 2000. For the Clinton campaign, those who fail to learn the lessons of history, and so forth.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Surely, he’s joking: R.I.P. Gene Wilder

By Dennis Hartley

I guess I must have been in shock.

When I received a text from Digby asking if I’d heard about Gene Wilder, I steeled myself and immediately queried Mr. Google. There it was. But I refused to believe it. This just couldn’t be. That’s when I began a one-sided argument with my, erm…laptop:

“Wait a minute. Gene Wilder is no longer with us? Are you saying, he is no longer with us? Is that what you’re telling me, that Gene Wilder…is no longer here? No longer here. He was here, but now, he is not? IS THAT WHAT YOU’RE TRYING TO TELL ME?!”


Sorry, but people that talented, that funny, are simply not allowed to just up and leave us.

Here are several reasons why, right off the top of my head:

Rest in peace, you bloody little genius.

More reviews at Den of Cinema

--Dennis Hartley