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Monday, September 25, 2017

If you think he's deplorable

by digby

Then they are too:
Matt: We wanted somebody to go in and flip tables. We're tired of the status quo, as some people wanted on the other side. We were tired of that. 
Oprah Winfrey: In your mind, what table got flipped? 
Matt: Every time he does a rally or a tweet, he's speaking for people that are sitting at home in Iowa or Oklahoma or Montana, that just wanna say it that way. For years we asked for a president who would just say it the way we do. We got that.
He is their voice.

That's from the 60 Minutes show last night with Oprah Winfrey. It's interesting. But depressing. We are living in different worlds.

And new wounds were inflicted nearly every time we brought up a contentious issue, starting with the investigation into Russian collusion in the U.S. election, which we introduced by way of a presidential tweet.

Oprah Winfrey: "You are witnessing the single greatest witch hunt in American political history, led by some very bad and conflicted people." He's talking about the Russia investigation. Does that matter to you?

Paul: I don't wanna hear one more word about Russia. That's so over the hill for me. What good is it doing anyone?

Oprah Winfrey: Do you think the Russian investigation is valid?

Voices: No. Yes. No. Yes. No.

Oprah Winfrey: Who here thinks… Who here thinks it's not even valid? Really? OK.

Tim: We had a foreign country attack our country. That is…

Jeff: --you know what, spare us the fake outrage. When you wanna go back--

Tim: It is! That's the truth—

Jeff: We changed regimes in Egypt. We changed regimes in Libya!

Tim: In Libya. We're talking about our shores influencing an election.

Jeff: So it's perfectly acceptable for us…

Rose: He is considered guilty until proven innocent right now, in my opinion. Because where's the crime? Where is the crime? Tell me. Where's the crime?

Kailee: When he fires the FBI director for performing the Russia investigation. That is obstruction of justice. He invited the Russian ambassador into the Oval and said, "The pressure is off." Are you kidding me?

The same people who think there's nothing wrong with Russia interfering in the election are the ones who would be the first to scream "love it or leave it" in your face.

If you go over to the program and watch the discussion on Charlottesville, it will make you queasy...

This is pure tribalism. And one tribe thinks Donald fucking Trump can do no wrong.


"You don't lurch into authoritarianism, you slide into it"

by digby

That authoritarian quote was something Nicolle Wallace said on her show today quoting an unnamed friend of hers. She said it in response to this comment by conservative NY Times columnist Bret Stephens about the "take a knee" protest against police violence:
The great question is whether this is a political calculation with malice of forethought... With Trump the line between malice and idiocy is is always this sort of blurry one so it's always sort of difficult to tell. But there a political cunning at work that Colin Kaepernick is a unsympathetic character especially to Trump's voters and going after him in the midst of his own political difficulties is sure to be a winner, not least because in doing so he's trolling the left.

That's on the one hand. But the real issue here is the principle at stake. You don't love the the flag, you don't love the anthem because they're totems. We're not existing in some sort of pre-historic culture where you worship, I don't know, a stone. You love them because they represent a series of constitutional liberties protections, a system of republican and small "l" liberal government which is what makes America special, that you can in fact engage in political protests in public events like this. This is not a deviation from what it means to be an American it's the essence of what it means to be an American.

This is absolutely true. But remember, the only part of the constitution with which Trump is familiar is the second Amendment and that's just because the NRA endorsed him and he thinks everyone should be armed so they can kill all the "bad dudes" in vigilante action if the cops don't get there first. He literally does not understand or care about the principle Stephen talks about above. The principle he cares about is that every American must be forced to demonstrate their loyalty to the government by standing at attention when the anthem is played and the flag is flown. This principle is not about freedom, not in the least. It's about suppressing one's individuality to the state.

What's interesting about all this in terms of Trump is that it was only a couple of years ago that his followers were carrying on about liberty and needing to arm themselves against government power. Now they're cheering on a president who wants to force people to stand and salute on command.

Class acts

by digby

This morning on a radio show Trump said McCain's refusal to vote for the health care monstrosities is “a tremendous slap in the face to the Republican Party.”

And then there's this despicable piece of work:

Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert believes Arizona Sen. John McCain should be recalled while he undergoes treatment for cancer so that Republicans can replace him with someone who will support the party’s latest effort to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law.

“He’s got cancer, it’s a tough battle,” the GOP congressman told “Fox & Friends” on Monday morning. “But stress is a real inhibitor to getting over cancer.”

“I think Arizona could help him, and us. Recall him, let him fight successfully this terrible cancer, and let’s get someone in here who will keep the word he gave last year,” Gohmert said.

McCain said last week he would not support a repeal bill sponsored by GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.

Like most Republicans, the 2008 presidential candidate has campaigned for the better part of a decade on repealing and replacing the 2010 law. But twice in the past two months, he has effectively killed GOP efforts to do so. (In July, he voted “no” on the so-called skinny repeal bill Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put to a floor vote.)

“If he had said last year what he was going to do, Kelli Ward would have beat him,” Gohmert said, referring to the former Arizona state senator who ran against McCain in the primary, losing by 11 points. Ward is challenging Arizona’s other GOP senator, Jeff Flake, next year.

Gohmert is not the first Republican lawmaker to connect McCain’s medical status to his opposition to his party’s efforts to repeal and replace the health care law.

In August, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson suggested McCain’s cancer could have affected his decision to cast the decisive “no” vote the previous month.

“Again, I’m not going to speak for John McCain — he has a brain tumor right now — that vote occurred at 1:30 in the morning, some of that might have factored in,” Johnson told a Chicago talk radio show on Aug. 8.

The Wisconsin Republican later walked back his remarks, but not before he was criticized by McCain spokeswoman Julie Tarallo.

“It is bizarre and deeply unfortunate that Senator Johnson would question the judgment of a colleague and friend,” she said in a statement. “Senator McCain has been very open and clear about the reasons for his vote.”

McCain’s office could not be reached for comment on Gohmert’s remarks.

There are no limits with these people, no depths to which they will not go.

These are the people who are in charge of our government. This is what those Americans at Trump rallies voted for.


QOTD: Jackie Robinson

by digby

Today as I look back on that opening game of my first world series, I must tell you that it was Mr Rickey's drama and that I was only a principal actor. As I write this twenty years later, I cannot stand and sing the anthem, I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world. In 1972, in 1947, at my birth in 1919, I know that I never had it made.

That is the last paragraph of the autobiography of Republican, military veteran, American hero and sports legend  --- Jackie Robinson.

Donald Trump and his racist followers haven't changed one tiny bit since that time. They don't openly boo players just for being black anymore. But they're always looking for any excuse to do it.

Trump just had to rip off the scab and poured salt into the wound

by digby

I wrote about Trump's latest tantrum for Salon this morning:

Have you ever noticed that whenever President Trump gets a slight bump in the polls he goes on a tear as if to prove once again that he is the baddest of bad boys and nothing will ever tame him? He clearly yearns desperately for approval but unless that approval is wrenched from people against their will in defiance of everything they have previously believed in, he's left unsatisfied.

But who knows what really drives the man? All we can do is observe his behavior and hope he doesn't completely go off the deep end. This past week-end, he came close.

First, Trump tweeted out the scariest tweet of his long twitter career and that's saying something. He threatened to murder millions of people if the North Korean foreign minister said something he didn't like:

Meanwhile, when he wasn't threatening Armageddon, he decided that the one pressing issue he absolutely had to address was the protests by NFL players against police violence against African Americans. That he decided to do it in the same week there were large demonstrations in St Louis over the not guilty verdict for a cop who was filmed planting a gun on a suspect after he was taped saying he was "going to kill this motherfucker " was probably not an accident.  After everything that happened after Charlottesville, he just had to rip off the scab and pour salt into the open wound.

This is what the president of the United States said at a rally in Alabama last Friday night:
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s FIRED!’ You know, some owner is gonna do that. He’s gonna say, ‘That guy disrespects our flag; he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it. They don’t know it. They’re friends of mine, many of them. They don’t know it. They’ll be the most popular person, for a week. They’ll be the most popular person in this country.”
It should be noted that this isn't the first time Trump has sneered at this protest that began with former San Francisco Quarterback Colin Kaepernick using the sports ritual of "taking a knee"when a comrade in down on the field to protest the death of unarmed black men at the hands of police.  In Louisville Kentucky last March he was going on about how he was going to fix the inner cities and promised that people who go "from welfare to work" there will "find a rebirth of hope, safety, and opportunity" when he abruptly digressed to talk about the "San Francisco Quarterback" who he claimed nobody wanted to hire because it would get them a nasty tweet from Trump. He said many times that the NFL's ratings were down because of Kaepernick's protest.

After his comments on Friday before his adoring all white Alabama crowd, NFL players and owners were hugely insulted.
After all, he called these athletes "son of a bitches" and used the bully pulpit to agitate for them to be fired from their jobs for failing to stand for the national anthem. This is, to say the least, unusual. Or it was until the Trump administration which has been making a habit of calling for black people to be fired if they say or do something Trump doesn't care for. (Using foul insulting language at rallies is nothing new for him. Recall that he once even called Ted Cruz a pussy.)

When the most popular athlete in the country, Stephen Curry said he wouldn't go to the White House with his Warrior teammates because he objected to the president's rhetoric and attitude, Trump angrily tweeted in response:

In response to this bizarre presidential twitter tantrum many more players took a knee during the anthem on Sunday, some teams didn't even come out of the locker room until it was over, some sat on the bench and still others, including team owners, linked arms in solidarity with those who were protesting. It was an intense moment and even people who don't care about sports knew that an extraordinary cultural event was taking place.

Rather than try to calm the waters, the president spent the day tweeting complaints about the player protests being unpatriotic and telling fans to boycott the games. A non-profit group that supports Trump immediately took up the cause buying ads accusing the NFL of "disrespecting the country" and called the protesters "hateful individuals." And in one of his greatest acts of chutzpah yet, he pretended that all the people who linked arms during the anthem were doing it to show solidarity with the anthem, not the protesters:

Trump personally spoke to the press and reiterated his position three times on Sunday in addition to the more than a dozen tweets over the week-end. It was all he could talk about.

But he couldn't spare a moment to address the catastrophe that is unfolding for 3 million Americans in Puerto Rico in the wake of hurricane Maria.Not one word in his torrent of tweets and press appearances for what officials are describing as "apocalyptic" conditions. The whole island is still without power and little hope of repairing it any time soon. Food is scarce. Dams are breaking and towns are flooding. It is an emergency.

It's possible that Trump doesn't even know that the people on this devastated island are Americans. It's probable that if he does know that, he thinks they shouldn't be. They are all Latinos and they speak Spanish, after all, which he thinks disqualifies people from American citizenship. He certainly isn't giving them the same kind of attention he gave to Texas and Florida when they were hit by hurricanes and he raced to the scene with his wife by his side to offer solace to the victims. These Americans got one perfunctory tweet last week that was likely written by a staff member.

To add insult to injury, late Sunday night Trump announced a new indefinite travel ban that includes people from North Korea and Venezuela in a nakedly superficial attempt to pretend that it isn't based on religion. Apparently, the new policy is to ban people from the United States for any reason he likes now.

Donald Trump got good reviews for briefly acting like a normal president. He knows what it will take to raise his poll numbers and he has good reason to believe that his supporters will stick with him not matter what. But he simply cannot stop being divisive. It is the single defining feature of his presidency. He is threatening the world and tearing the country apart and it's not getting better. It's getting worse.

There used to be this thing called "principles"

by digby

The following is from David Leonhardt in the NY Times:

“To disagree well you must first understand well,” my colleague Bret Stephens argued in a Saturday speech titled, “The Dying Art of Disagreement,” which I encourage you to read. “You have to read deeply, listen carefully, watch closely.”

I’m guessing that many readers of this newsletter instinctively agree with the pro athletes who have criticized President Trump. But how much have you thought about why so many of your fellow Americans disagree with those athletes’ protests?

Clearly, racism plays a role, at least in Trump’s case. But the debate isn’t only about race. If nothing else, listening to the other side will sharpen your own counterarguments.

At National Review, Rich Lowry said the N.F.L. controversy was an example of Trump’s “gut-level political savvy” and highlighted “why he’s president.”

“He takes a commonly held sentiment — most people don’t like the NFL protests — and states it in an inflammatory way guaranteed to get everyone’s attention and generate outrage among his critics,” Lowry writes. “When those critics lash back at him, Trump is put in the position of getting attacked for a fairly commonsensical view.”

Patrick Ruffini, a conservative political strategist who’s worth following on Twitter, wrote: “A lot of people are operating under the assumption that Kaepernick’s protest is popular. It isn’t.” Ruffini added: “False assumptions about public opinion make opposition to Trump less effective.”

And Ben Shapiro, the conservative writer, tweeted: “What the left sees: People kneeling to protest in favor of the right to kneel. What viewers see: People kneeling during the anthem.”

For smart takes from the anti-Trump side, try John Legend (yes, that John Legend) in Slate, Jamelle Bouie on Twitter, Lindsay Gibbs at Think Progress, Jelani Cobb in The New Yorker and Samuel Freedman and Charles Blow in The Times.

Ok. I read those right wing views. Yes, kneeling for the flag is unpopular among a bunch of people. I'm sure all protests against things people like or respect make some people angry. Likewise, protests against things that upset people are popular among the people who agree with them.

So what else is new? If protests didn't make some people unhappy there probably wouldn't be a need for them in the first place.

When I was a kid flag-waving was just a big a thing as it is today and there were protests that makes these look puny, like the March on Washington for instance. They made some people very angry too. But what has held the country together through these fights has been the corny line by Patrick Henry (and Voltaire) "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend your right to say it." It's something even little kids understand.

Trump doesn't agree with that. He's an authoritarian president calling for people to be fired and blackballed for saying something he doesn't agree with. It won't take much for him (and his little dog Jeff Sessions) to decide that "something needs to be done" legally because it's a threat to the nation. He's working on "the Antifa threat" as well. He's already banning Muslims refugees and building invisible walls.

There have always been plenty of people in this country who think free speech is only for me and not for thee. What's different here is that we have a president who isn't even trying to maintain the larger principle and is instead promoting the idea that some people should be shut up by any means necessary.

He wouldn't fight to the death to your right to say anything he doesn't agree with. In fact, he's one step away from declaring that everyone must agree with him.


A faith not so deep and abiding

by Tom Sullivan

A mile wide and an inch deep. How many times have I written that phrase to describe our conservative opponents' commitment to their vaunted principles? Sen. Chuck Grassley, Republican of Iowa, admitted to reporters his caucus wants to pass an Obamacare repeal this week — this particular unscored and hated Obamacare repeal — strictly to protect their political fortunes [timestamp 5:17]:

"I could maybe give you ten reasons why this bill shouldn't be considered. But Republicans campaigned on this so often, that you have a responsibility to carry out what you said in the campaign. That’s pretty much as much of a reason as the substance of the bill."
Millions of Americans health? Collateral damage. Acceptable losses. Not as important as political careers.

Paul Waldman found as much days ago:
If you ask Republicans why exactly they support the Graham-Cassidy health-care bill that is their last chance to repeal the Affordable Care Act, they'll struggle to offer a specific reason. These are not, after all, a group of people who know much about health care or feel it necessary to understand what they're voting on. But after some casting about, they'll probably settle on the fact that the bill sends authority and money from the federal government down to the states, and doing so is always an unalloyed good.

"As a general rule the states do things better than the federal government does," says Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.). "Our states — our 50 states — are very flexible, very innovative. Much more so than we are here," says Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). "It's about moving power to the states, where money can be spent much more effectively," says Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). "I like the idea of sending money back to the states and letting each state experiment with what's best for their citizens," says Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.).

This is a core part of contemporary Republican philosophy, that whenever possible we should devolve power away from out-of-touch bureaucrats in Washington and send it closer to the people, to those at the state and local level who understand their citizens and can craft the best solutions for them. You've probably heard this idea articulated so many times that you don't even question it. But there are two problems: There's no evidence it's true, and Republicans themselves don't even believe it.
It's like their standard stump speech line condemning "the failed policies of the past." It is cynically vague. They know listeners will fill in the blank themselves so they won't catch hell by naming government programs their audiences actually like and use. (I've heard Democrats use that line, but rarely.) Complaints of federal "waste, fraud, and abuse" serve the same function. Fill in in the blank yourself.

As for pushing the decisions back to the state level, national Republicans won't have to take the heat for draconian decisions made by their less circumspect compatriots in state legislatures.

Waldman continues:
If you listen closely, you'll notice that Republicans always express this belief that states work better than the federal government without getting specific. What you won't hear is anything resembling evidence that on the whole, states actually do things better. It isn't that you can't find innovative state programs or effective state administrators, because you can. But you can find those things on the federal level, too. And there is precisely zero reason to believe that as a group states are more efficient, spend money more wisely, design better programs, or serve citizens better than the federal government does. The next time somebody says that they do, ask them how they know. If they say "It just makes sense," that means they have no evidence.
Plus, Waldman observes, politicians convinced states are somehow more "innovative" and that the federal government is awash in waste, fraud, and abuse don't want to confront the fact that there is actually more corruption going on at the state level. He cites a few statistics just to drive home the point. Thus demonstrating that "government closest to the people" is stump-speech rhetoric not supported by reality. Nor by their own actions:
In the last few years, Republican-run states have been rushing to pass "pre-emption" laws that bar cities and towns from passing certain kinds of liberal measures, despite their alleged belief that the officials closest to the people know what's best for them. According to a recent report from the National League of Cities, 24 states have forbidden municipalities from raising their minimum wage, 17 won't allow measures on paid family leave, and 17 forbid municipalities from setting up their own broadband systems (a result of intense telecom company lobbying). Dozens of states pre-empt local gun laws — and Republicans hope to pass a federal law mandating "reciprocity," meaning that if you have a gun permit in any state you can bring your gun to any other state, which effectively robs each state of its ability to decide what kind of gun laws should prevail within its borders.

Perhaps the best recent example of GOP hypocrisy on the federalism question comes from Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), who will be introducing an amendment to Graham-Cassidy to forbid states from setting up their own single-payer systems. Apparently, Republicans want states to experiment and innovate in health care — as long as it involves things like booting people off Medicaid and cutting back benefits. But if they start to get liberal ideas, then the heavy hand of the federal government is going to have to come down.
Speaking of ... come on down to the home of the bathroom bill repeal, you pikers, and let the NCGOP show you how it's done. From their perches in the state capitol, they'll preempt democracy, preempt equal treatment, preempt a living wage, preempt control of municipal infrastructure, etc. They'll even threaten to preempt your entire city. But it's the feral gummint that is oppressive, dontcha know?

* * * * * * * *

Request a copy of For The Win, my county-level election mechanics primer, at tom.bluecentury at gmail.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Lock him up

by digby

The good news is that Jared's use of private email isn't suspicious because it's not as if he's tried to communicate on back channels with say ... Russia or anything.
Jared Kushner has used a private email address to conduct government business at the White House, Politico reported Sunday afternoon.

During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly and aggressively attacked Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state. This new report suggests that Kushner — Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser — may have engaged in similar behavior, using the private email account to write messages about “media coverage, event planning and other subjects.”

Politico reports that it has reviewed two dozen emails involving Kushner’s correspondence. Kushner has used the private account to trade emails with former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, and former chief strategist Steve Bannon.

He created the private email just before he went to the White House.

You can't make this stuff up.


Fox newsers dancing on the head of a pin

by digby

Trump didn't say what he said so it's all fake news:

HOWARD KURTZ (HOST): The president is clearly tapping into resentment among a lot of sports fans and others toward these multi-million dollar athletes who they think should be playing instead of protesting.

CHERYL CHUMLEY: Well, I just want to take a little bit of disagreement with what you said.

KURTZ: Please.

CHUMLEY: First off, I think it is fairly simple for journalists to look at this issue in a light that isn't covering it just from the day-to-day rapid reaction. First off, Trump didn't call anyone an S.O.B. He came out and said, “What if the coaches called these players S.O.B's?” And I think that --

KURTZ: A fine distinction I think.

CHUMLEY: It is a fine distinction, but it's the difference between truth and not truth. And I think as journalists, we are in the business of reporting truth as we see it down the line.

Here's what he said:
"Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now'?"

I know I don't have to explain this.

Oh heck, Puerto Rico is destroyed. The president can't be bothered.

by digby

I'm pretty sure the president doesn't consider Puerto Ricans to be Real Americans what with their "foreign" language and all. But he could at least show some mild interest in the fact that 3 million people are living in what is being called apocalyptic conditions.

(CNN)Days after Hurricane Maria pounded the island of Puerto Rico, killing at least 10 people, authorities are starting to see firsthand the scope of devastation that left the US territory off the grid.

Without power and communications in much of the island, millions of people, including city leaders and first responders, have been cut off from the world since Maria hit Wednesday.

Authorities flew over the island Saturday, and were stunned by what they saw. No cellphones, water or power. Roads completely washed away and others blocked by debris, isolating residents.
"It was devastating to see all that kind of debris in all areas, in all towns of the island," Jenniffer González, the island's non-voting representative in Congress told CNN.

"We never expected to have a lot of debris in so many areas. A lot of roads are closed, older ones are just gone," she added.
At least 10 people have been confirmed killed by the storm, according to Gov. Ricardo Rosselló's office.

Roselló met with more than 50 mayors and representatives from across Puerto Rico on Saturday. Some described the conditions in their communities as "apocalyptic" and said there have been incidents of looting in both homes and stores.

"We know a little more today than we did yesterday," Rossello said. "This is going to be a long road."

A dam is in danger of collapsing, adding to the crisis.

He tweeted about how the NFL should fire players who take the knee 12 times so far this week-end. He excoriated John McCain for failing to vote for the monstrous repeal of health care for 30 million people. He is engaged in playground name calling with the North Korean dictator and told his foreign minister that if he says something he doesn't like "they won't be around much longer!"

Not one word about Puerto Rico. Nothing.

This is stupid as well as heartless. His numbers go up when he pretends to be a president and acts as though he cares about people after a natural disaster. He's not very good at it but the citizens seem to appreciate the effort.

But Puerto Ricans are Latino and they can't vote for president they just don't even rate a mention.

To donate to help:

Unidos por Puerto Rico

“Unidos”: A Hurricane Relief Fund for Hurricane Maria Victims in Puerto Rico

And this from Jezebel:

If you live in the Miami area, the Puerto Rican Leadership Council is accepting donations of nonperishable food, water, and clothing at several locations beginning on Friday, with details and timing over at the Miami Herald. The Miami Foundation created the US Caribbean Strong Relief Fund to raise money supporting hurricane relief efforts in Caribbean nations and territories affected by Irma and Maria. Philadelphia-area nonprofit El Concilio has launched Unidos PA’ Puerto Rico to raise money for hurricane relief. The Salvation Army is accepting hurricane relief donations, and GlobalGiving has a Caribbean Hurricane Irma & Maria Relief Fund, which will initially steer funding towards immediate needs like food, clean water, and shelter, and will later shift toward supporting local organizations’ recovery efforts. Volunteer disaster relief organization All Hands is headed back to the US Virgin Islands for Hurricane Irma and Maria Response, and there is a crowdfunding effort by the Dominica London High Commission to raise money for basic relief materials on Dominica, which has been left in “war zone” conditions; you can donate to that effort here. ConPRmetidos, a Puerto Rico-based nonprofit, is accepting donations here.

79% of Republicans think Trump is taking the country in the right direction

by digby

.... but everyone hates the GOP congress:

Fewer than three in 10 Americans -- 29% -- hold a favorable view of the Republican Party according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS. That is down 13 percentage points from March and is the lowest mark for the GOP since CNN began asking the question in 1992.

The previous low point for the GOP was 30% -- hit twice -- in October 2013 following the federal government shutdown over President Barack Obama's health care law, and December 1998, in the wake of the House of Representatives approving two articles of impeachment against
then President Bill Clinton.

Why should they care? They still get elected. And if they can't quite get enough votes they cheat. It's been working for them quite well.

meanwhile, they have a strong vision for the future:

Republicans are signaling they prefer President Donald Trump's vision for the party, with 79% saying he is taking it in the right direction. A majority of GOP voters -- 53% -- believe Republican leaders in Congress are taking the party in the wrong direction.

Apparently Republicans want war --- a race war at home and a nuclear war with North Korea. The latter will make the former unnecessary but they obviously want to make sure we have a backup.

This is bad, folks. It's not a joke. The opposition needs to focus on the clear and present danger we face. But they won't:

Going forward, 74% of Democrats say the party should mainly work with Republicans to try to get some of the party's ideas into law while 23% say the party should mostly work to stop the GOP agenda.
Democrats will get a couple of crumbs, make Trump more popular and ensure his re-election and the GOP congrss will get 90% of what they want if Democrats do this. 

Saving the DREAMers and Obamacare funding are the only issues where they should work with the Republicans in congress. No more helping them with tough votes to make Trump look good. It's not helping. 

Trump's history as a football team owner

by digby

I had only known some of the details about his football league con until I read this Esquire story. Naturally, he bankrupted others and barely escaped with his own skin:
Before barreling through what he dismisses as his loser, low-energy, blood-coming-out-of-their-whatever opposition and shaking up politics as usual, Donald Trump was trying to shake the high holy shit out of professional football. He was just 37—a budding rogue rich guy with flyaway sandy (not yet orange) hair and a trophy first wife named Ivana. He'd just built a 68-story glass tower in the middle of Manhattan and, to make sure people noticed, put his name on it. In bronze. He'd soon open his first Atlantic City casino, slapping his name on that, too. Even back then, Trump wanted what he still wants most: more.

So in 1983 he bought a football team, joining a confederacy of other rich rogues who had just completed their first season of the United States Football League. The business plan: compete with the NFL—sport's one true, grim superpower, whom USFL owners mocked as the No Fun League—but not directly against it. The twelve-team USFL played its games in the spring, encouraged excessive end zone celebrations (the NFL penalized them), and allowed both replay challenges and two-point conversions after touchdowns (the NFL still didn't permit either). Games were televised on ABC and an upstart cable channel called ESPN.

Trump purchased the New Jersey Generals from J. Walter Duncan, a laidback Oklahoma oil tycoon who got homesick travelling each weekend to watch his team play ("You weren't going to outsmart him," one observer said of Duncan. "But you might be able to out-talk him"). With Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker already in the backfield, the Generals had been the league's flagship underachiever. They won just six games against opponents that stretched from Tampa Bay (whose halftime promotions included seven-car giveaways and the burning of mortgages) to Birmingham to Los Angeles, where the league eventually took over a team almost nobody came to watch. By the next season, when Trump bought in, the league swelled to eighteen cities—a money grab by owners to collect millions in franchise fees and soften their growing losses.

The Generals' fortunes rose instantly, but the league's did not. The USFL collapsed after just three seasons. Yet its Trumpian storyline hews eerily close to today's. The Donald made a media-inhaling, savior-is-born entrance; surged beyond expectations; then went all in on his attempt to upend the entrenched NFL by pushing his fellow owners to move games to the fall in hopes of inciting a merger. The bet brought the league, already in failing health, crashing down. Critics blame Trump's hubris. Haters wait for a similar last act in the upcoming Republican primaries.

"You can cut and paste the USFL and the GOP and it's the same damn story," says Charley Steiner, radio voice of the Generals and now play-by-play man for the Los Angeles Dodgers. "It's all about him and the brand and moving on to the next thing if it doesn't work out."

Read the whole thing. He pretty much destroyed the whole league. Now he's using that unique talent to destroy the whole country.

Can you see what's wrong with this picture?

by digby

Here's the treasury secretary talking about the NFL players protest:

"They can't do free speech on their own time."  See, you shouldn't be able to say whatever you want on the job.


He's special.


The first team to take the knee together

by digby

.... were these professional athletes:

Back in 2016, the Indiana Fever

More to come...


Built to #Resist

by Tom Sullivan

Maybe our reality star president is a shot in the arm of our democracy, argue E.J. Dionne Jr., Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein in the Washington Post. For all the shots you've needed since November 8th, l’chaim.

Okay, maybe his election wasn't the best thing for our democracy. His lack of regard for political norms has him threatening to use nuclear weapons to preemptively wipe a rogue nation off the map in a way that turns "rogue nation" on its head. His erratic behavior has, the trio write, "weakened our standing in the world and deepened the divisions of an already sharply torn nation." The president is doing a heckuva a job in the Michael Brown sense.

But the first reality-show presidency has produced some soul searching among Republicans whose cynical undermining of trust in government over the decades, and deepening radicalization has produced "the least-qualified and least-appropriate president in the nation’s history." So far, that soul searching, in the salons where it exists, has not produced a conservative countermovement to Trumpism. It will take more than a few George Wills and William Kristols, with their own baggage, to undo what the movement's appeals to xenophobia and nativism have endeavored so long to build. No Republican Colonel Nicholsons are going to fall onto the detonator.

Yet the president's abrogation of every norm has awakened an appreciation for how they are the keel and rudder for guiding a democracy. Not only among corporate leaders and the media, but on the left. The trio write:

The need to contain Trump has given life to new forms of organization. People of faith, across traditions, have stood up for the most vulnerable in confronting measures that have targeted immigrants and sought to roll back social protections. Lawyers have organized to combat the president’s travel bans, to protect the rights of undocumented individuals and to challenge Trump’s financial conflicts of interest. Public interest groups such as the Campaign Legal Center, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the Project on Government Oversight have expanded their efforts on behalf of political reform, forging new alliances to fight the influence of big money in politics, protect voting rights, end gerrymandering, strengthen anti-corruption statutes and challenge the electoral college.

Will these initiatives lead to a sustained, long-term project? Will they build a new politics that acts as a counter to Trumpism and survives beyond his time in office? The evidence is promising.

Many of the new groups are developing models of citizen activism designed to promote lasting engagement. The largest of these, Indivisible, started as an online guide to political advocacy from former congressional staffers, but it amassed several thousand local chapters across the country with astonishing speed, assisted by full-time organizing staff. While Indivisible chapters do take action to resist Trump’s agenda at the national level, they emphasize advocacy in their states and counties. Although Trump is doing great damage through and to the federal government, the decay in our civic culture and institutions must be addressed from the bottom up.

Swing Left, another group formed in the aftermath of the 2016 election, is helping to connect progressives living in comfortably blue districts with opportunities to support Democratic congressional candidates in nearby swing districts. And #KnockEveryDoor is recruiting and training volunteers to canvass in their communities with the goal of promoting progressive policies by engaging voters in civil conversations — imagine that! — about the issues that matter most to them.
On that note, Insightus and Daily Kos sponsored the Data & Democracy Conference yesterday in Durham, NC. The conference brought together organizers focused on using data analysis for engaging voters and fighting vote suppression. Founded by Bill Busa (DocDawg at DKos), Insightus has been instrumental in providing data analysis in support of lawsuits brought to fight vote suppression and to uncover inequities in administration of voting in North Carolina.

Andrea Stein and Becca Zerkin formed Neighbors on Call in Chapel Hill, NC after the 2016 election. The group aims not to pursue its own agenda, but to build a willing pool of volunteers ready to dispatch in aid of any local campaign or progressive nonprofit that needs foot soldiers. Breaking the GOP supermajorities in the NC legislature is a primary focus. They've already grown so large that their current challenge is spinning off new chapters.

The most surprising presentation came from B Cordelia Yu of RagTag.org, a distributed team of over 200 technology volunteers who build or adapt tech tools, help candidates build websites, or otherwise solve tech problems for progressive activists. With the flood of new orgs out there issuing calls to action, just one of their tools gives the flavor of how RagTag means to help:
Through the CTA Aggregator, anyone who wants to focus on inspiring meaningful activism, rather than building software, will be able to focus on their strengths rather than having to own their full “stack”. Likewise, it will serve as a backend to websites and other mobile apps, permitting them access to a broad range of actions to take. CTA Aggregator has three components: a database of actions, a data entry layer with a scraping toolkit, and a data API. Ragtag has partnered with a number of organizations and is actively soliciting other partners to contribute and distribute timely call-to-action data.
I've never seen anything like it. Still, I'd trade it all for a Democratic Congress and White House. They're working on it.

* * * * * * * *

Request a copy of For The Win, my county-level election mechanics primer, at tom.bluecentury at gmail.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

I don’t feel tardy: A back-to-school mixtape

By Dennis Hartley 

Pfft. Wow. That was a quick friggin’ summer.

As great poets have said…autumn is over the long leaves that love us, yesterday is dead (but not in my memory), and it’s late September and I really should be back at school

Well, not literally (I’m a little old for home room)…but my school days of yesteryear are not necessarily dead in my memory. Some habits die hard. As I prefaced in a 2010 post:

It’s a funny thing. I know that this is supremely silly (I’m over 50, fergawdsake)-but as soon as September rolls around and retailers start touting their “back to school” sales, I still get that familiar twinge of dread. How do I best describe it? It’s a vague sensation of social anxiety, coupled with a melancholy resignation to the fact that from now until next June, I have to go to bed early. BTW, now that I’m allowed to stay up with the grownups, why do I drift off in my chair at 8pm every night? It’s another one of life’s cruel ironies.

So here’s a back-to-school playlist that doesn’t include “The Wall” or “School’s Out” (don’t worry, you’ll get over it). Pencils down, pass your papers forward, and listen up…

“Alma Mater” – Alice Cooper

“At 17” – Janis Ian

“Cinnamon Street” – Roxette

“ELO Kiddies” – Cheap Trick

“Me &Julio Down by the Schoolyard” – Paul Simon

“My Old School” – Steely Dan

“Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” – The Ramones

“School” – Roger Hodgson

“School Days” – Chuck Berry

“Smokin’ in the Boy’s Room” – Brownsville Station

“Status Back Baby” – Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention

“Teacher Teacher” – Rockpile

“Thirteen” – Big Star

“To Sir, With Love” – Lulu

“Wind-up” – Jethro Tull

Previous posts with related themes:

--Dennis Hartley

QOTD: Congressman Mike Quigley

by digby

Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee:

"I was old enough to understand — and watch — Watergate," he said. "This is so much more important. Because I believe that if you had seen what I have seen, you'd want me to go full throttle. Anything that makes the analysis of this by Congress, or any other investigators, inconsistent in any way ... reduces how important this is."

I guess the Republicans covering for Trump figure that even if Mueller proves that he was working on behalf of the Russian government he's worth protecting. Honestly, that surprises even me and I'm as cynical about Republicans as you can get.

Here's the whole talk if you want to hear it. It's quite interesting.

Reminder about Trump's eugenics beliefs

by digby

Just in case anyone's wondering why he can't stop dividing the country with racist rants like last night's gross comments in Alabama stoking his white supremacist base:

LA Times: For months the political press has been grappling with the greased-pig problem that is Donald Trump, trying to pin down the Republican front-runner as he defies establishment expectations and rejects basic standards of decorum. Much of the time I devoted to my Trump biography was consumed with the same activity: I spent countless hours fact-checking the torrent of slippery claims he made during our interviews. Even more difficult was divining the source of his sense of entitlement.

As campaign reporters are now coming to realize, Trump is not concerned with anyone's dignity, even his own, and will readily deploy lies and distortions when they serve as applause lines. None of the Trump claims checked by Politifact has turned out to be absolutely true by its standards, while 30 have been judged false or, worse, “pants on fire” statements. Yet Trump refuses to correct himself and, instead, ups the ante. Recently he tweeted race-baiting false statistics that appeared to have originated from a neo-Nazi source.

Like history's monarchs, Trump believes that the qualities that make him successful are in-born.

Some who try to understand why Trump would do such things might wonder if he's a deeply wounded, insecure soul compensating with narcissistic bluster. This diagnosis doesn't fit the Trump who answered my questions for many hours, nor does it match the conclusion reached by his second wife, Marla Maples. “He's a king,” said Maples when I interviewed her. “I mean truly. He is. He's a king. He really is a ruler of the world, as he sees it.”

Maples suspects that Trump was a royal figure in some past life. More likely he acquired his reverse noblesse oblige by training from his father who, according to Trump biographer Harry Hurt III, raised young Donald to become “a killer” and told him “you are king.” His mother was so enchanted by royalty that Trump keenly remembers the hours she spent watching the TV broadcast of Queen Elizabeth's coronation.

His sense of entitlement has been affirmed throughout his life. In 1987, at a party marking the publication of Trump's book “The Art of the Deal,” boxing promoter Don King turned to the crowd and proclaimed the arrival of Trump and his then-wife Ivana by saying, “Here's the king and the queen!” A few years later, when he appeared at an event at one of his Atlantic City casinos, an announcer bellowed, “Let's hear it for the king!” — and Trump burst through a large paper screen. When he visited the humble village of his Scottish ancestors he told his relatives that because of his TV show “The Apprentice,” he was American royalty. “If you get ratings, you're king, like me. I'm a king. If you don't get ratings, you're thrown off the air like a dog.”

Like history's monarchs, Trump believes that the qualities that make him successful are in-born. He once said he possesses a genetic “gift” for real estate development.

“I'm a big believer in natural ability,” Trump told me during a discussion about his leadership traits, which he said came from a natural sense of how human relations work. “If Obama had that psychology, Putin wouldn't be eating his lunch. He doesn't have that psychology and he never will because it's not in his DNA.” Later in this discussion, Trump said: “I believe in being prepared and all that stuff. But in many respects, the most important thing is an innate ability.”

Perhaps Trump's conviction that DNA — not life experience — is everything explains why he proudly claims that he's “basically the same” today as when he was a boy. “When I look at myself in the first grade and I look at myself now, I'm basically the same,” he said. “The temperament is not that different.”

Academic research popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his 2002 essay “The Talent Myth” demonstrates that achievement depends more on dedication and experience than in-bred ability. But this message is lost on many well-to-do Americans who, researchers have found, believe their wealth affirms their innate superiority. The better-off are also more inclined to believe that “people get what they are entitled to have.”

Trump has handed down his sense of entitlement to the next generation. His son Donald Jr. told me: “Like him, I'm a big believer in race-horse theory. He's an incredibly accomplished guy, my mother's incredibly accomplished, she's an Olympian, so I'd like to believe genetically I'm predisposed to [be] better than average.”

The notion that Donald Jr.'s mother, Ivana Trump, was an Olympic skier in 1972 persists even though her country, Czechoslovakia, fielded no team. Her son not only believes the tall tale, he's convinced that it affirms his own superiority. “I'm in the high percentile on the bell curve,” he said. He then added that his father's abilities are even greater. “That's what separates him from everyone I know.”

The racehorse theory of human development explains Trump's belief in his suitability for political leadership, despite the fact that he has never held office. He's absolutely convinced that America's problems will be solved by his God-given management skills, bankruptcies notwithstanding. You are either born with superior qualities — the right DNA — or you are not. And people get what they deserve. In his case, that includes the White House.

Why anyone would think he's a white supremacist is beyond me.