Friday, February 9, 2018

"Boycott the Republican Party"

"The Republican Party, as an institution, has become a danger to the rule of law and the integrity of our democracy. The problem is not just Donald Trump; it’s the larger political apparatus that made a conscious decision to enable him. In a two-party system, nonpartisanship works only if both parties are consistent democratic actors. If one of them is not predictably so, the space for nonpartisans evaporates. We’re thus driven to believe that the best hope of defending the country from Trump’s Republican enablers, and of saving the Republican Party from itself, is to do as Toren Beasley did: vote mindlessly and mechanically against Republicans at every opportunity, until the party either rights itself or implodes (very preferably the former)."

Read The Atlantic, Boycott the Republican Party.

Read also the Washington Post, The cowardice among Republicans is staggering, which states in part:

"The United States Congress is an institution of great power. According to the Constitution, it can deny jurisdiction to the Supreme Court. It can remove the commander in chief. But now it watches as Trump makes the executive branch his personal fiefdom. It stands by — or cheers — as the president persecutes law enforcement professionals for the performance of their public duties.

Why can’t Republican legislators see the personal damage this might cause? Trump has made a practice of forcing people around him to lower their standards and abandon their ideals before turning against them when their usefulness ends. His servants are sucked dry of integrity and dignity, then thrown away like the rind of a squeezed orange. Who does Trump’s bidding and has his or her reputation enhanced? A generation of Republicans will end up writing memoirs of apology and regret.

The political damage to the GOP as the party of corruption and coverup should be obvious as well. This is a rare case when the rats, rather than deserting a sinking ship, seemed determined to ride it all the way down.

But it is damage to the conscience that is hardest to repair. For Republicans, what seemed like a temporary political compromise is becoming an indelible moral stain. The Russia investigation is revealing a Trump universe in which ethical considerations did not (and do not) figure at all. Who can imagine a senior Trump campaign official — say, Paul Manafort or Donald Trump Jr. — saying the words 'That would be wrong'? Their degraded spirit has now invaded the whole GOP. By defending Trump’s transgressions, by justifying his abuses, Republicans are creating an atmosphere in which corruption and cowardice thrive. . .

If there is nothing for which Ryan and other Republican leaders will risk their careers, there is nothing in which they truly believe."

Then read the Washington Post, Trump’s lapdogs now accept the labeling of opponents as ‘treasonous’, which states in part:

"No president in memory has — because that sort of talk is so beyond acceptable discourse that it is fair to call it un-American. Where are the Republicans now — the ones who insisted their motives not be impugned by a Democratic president, who derided Obama’s assumption that their motives were partisan and who warned that a president’s words matter? They’ve become apologists for a president who sounds like a tinpot dictator and who trashes perhaps the cardinal principle of a democracy — namely, the right to oppose and criticize those in power.

Trump’s defenders have scoffed at critics who cite Trump’s attack on the free press, the courts and even the notion of objective reality. They’ve decried an investigation into the president’s cooperation with Russians, of which there is substantial evidence he was willing to receive help from a hostile power. ('He at least tacitly collaborated with a foreign-intelligence operation against his country — sometimes in full public view,' write Ben Wittes and Jonathan Rauch. 'This started during the campaign, when he called upon the Russians to steal and release his opponent’s emails, and has continued during his presidency, as he equivocates on whether foreign intervention occurred and smears intelligence professionals who stand by the facts.') And now Trump’s devoted followers are content to allow him to call Democrats treasonous for not applauding their Great Leader.

During the campaign, Trump fans ridiculed concerns that he was undemocratic and prone to demonstrate an unhealthy affection for authoritarianism and autocratic leaders, most especially Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. Now as he confirms the worst of those fears, Republicans wave off evidence of Trump’s undemocratic and, yes, anti-American rhetoric.

If you believe in the rule of law, democratic norms and institutions and decent public debate, Republicans must pay a heavy, heavy price for indulging Trump. I am compelled to agree with Wittes and Rauch: 'The goal is to make the Republican Party answerable at every level, exacting a political price so stinging as to force the party back into the democratic fold.' (That’s small 'd' democratic.) Whether you think the GOP is salvageable or not, to reelect this crew in the midterms is to complete the capitulation to Trump’s anti-democratic brand of politics. All Americans are compelled to stop this."

Friday, January 26, 2018

Trump's Big CON: The Donald is a Russian Agent, CONt. Part 6 (AKA the GOP Coverup)

Another MUST READ, the Washington Post, Republicans are desperate to protect Trump from Mueller. But will their strategy work?, which states in full:

"In their desperate attempt to protect President Trump from the Russia scandal and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation, sizable portions of the Republican Party have returned to a place they know well. It’s the home of intricate conspiracy theories, where nothing is as it seems and the most mundane pieces of information are proof of sinister machinations so shocking that any tactics are justified in order to expose them.

It’s a place where only those willing to believe the most outlandish and ludicrous tales are able to grasp reality and where the truth is a hundred times worse than you think. It’s a madhouse, and they’re moving right in.

As bizarre as this all sounds, there’s a logic to it. If these Republicans can convince the public not only that Trump and those around him did nothing wrong but also that he’s the target of a malevolent conspiracy, then nothing that Mueller or any news organization reveals needs to be believed. It can all be cast aside as fruit of that poisonous tree, no matter what the facts might say.

But will that strategy work? I’d argue that it will work to save Trump from impeachment but won’t work to protect him from the political fallout this November and in 2020.

First, let’s take a quick tour around the fever swamp. The first object of Republican fascination is a memo attacking the FBI that Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, has been circulating. Though Democrats describe it as an absurd collection of tendentious talking points, conservatives have begun a #ReleaseTheMemo campaign (with the help of Russian social media bots) in the hope of attracting as much attention to it as possible. They seem to believe that once it is made public, everyone will realize that the entire Russia investigation is a sham. Spoiler alert: They won’t.

Then there are the text messages sent by an FBI agent and an FBI lawyer — given to Congress by the Justice Department — that reveal that the two of them didn’t think particularly highly of Trump. This has been spun out into the preposterous idea that the FBI is the center of a liberal conspiracy to destroy the president, with the mundane words exchanged by the two employees plumbed for evidence of the dark forces at work.

In the latest twist, members of Congress found a text that made reference to a 'secret society,' which of course couldn’t have been a joke, since everyone knows secret societies all go around talking about how they’re secret societies. This one, Republicans are convinced, was organized inside the FBI to bring Trump down.

'It’s more than bias, but corruption at the highest levels of the FBI and that secret society,' said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). 'We have an informant that is talking about a group that were holding secret meetings off-site. There is so much smoke here, there is so much suspicion.'

Johnson did not mention whether the Illuminati or Dumbledore’s Army might have been involved, but oh boy are the conservative media eating it up. 'It may be time to declare war outright against the deep state and clear out the rot in the upper levels of the FBI and the Justice Department,' thundered Fox Business’s Lou Dobbs.

It is absolutely no surprise that Republicans, including members of Congress, have found their way to lunatic conspiracy theories on the Russia question. That’s because it’s what they always do. They insisted that Barack Obama was a Kenyan-born Muslim enacting a carefully laid plan to destroy the United States. They convinced themselves that Bill Clinton ran a drug-running operation out of an Arkansas airport and had dozens of his political adversaries murdered. They decided that Hillary Clinton and John Podesta were running a child sex ring out of a D.C. pizza restaurant. The president they revere has gushed praise on conspiracy radio host Alex Jones, who has said that 9/11 was an inside job and the massacre at Sandy Hook was staged with child actors.

Not all Republicans tumble down these rabbit holes, but there will always be substantial numbers of the Republican electorate, Republican media figures and Republican elected officials who do. Whether they actually believe this stuff isn’t really the point. To repeat, the purpose is to convince the public that anything that comes out of the Mueller investigation can be discounted and disbelieved, no matter how incriminating it seems.

Will people believe that? Some will. Fox News viewers get it hammered into their waiting eyes every night. Rush Limbaugh’s listeners get a daily education in the sinister plans of the deep state. Breitbart readers learn from Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) that it all ties together: 'If you don’t think that Fast and Furious, if you don’t think that Benghazi, for the lack of accountability, if you don’t think the IRS and the unmasking are tied together with the weaponization of our Department of Justice and political advocates, think again.'

All that amounts to an insurance policy against impeachment. Because in order to stave impeachment off, you don’t have to convince all Americans that Trump is innocent of whatever charges Mueller raises. All you have to do is convince enough Republican members of Congress that their constituents (i.e., Republican voters) won’t stand for it. Those members of Congress might or might not think it’s all a liberal deep state conspiracy, but if they think their constituents believe it, they won’t support impeachment no matter what gets revealed.

But there’s a critical limitation to that strategy. It might keep Trump from getting impeached, but it won’t keep Republicans from getting crushed in November’s midterm elections. In fact, it may make a wave election more likely, by making Democratic voters more angry and appalled and therefore eager to turn out to vote. And it won’t help Trump get reelected, either. The more unhinged Trump’s defenders look, the more voters in the middle who took a risk and gave Trump a shot may regret it.

But all that’s too far in the future for the Republican conspiracy theorists. They have one goal now: protect Trump from Mueller. They might not succeed, but they’re going to go to any length to do it."

Friday, January 12, 2018

Trump's Big CON: He Feeds His Supporters "the Stale Bread of Hatred and the Spoiled Meat of Racism"

Read the Legacy, MLK: Eulogy for the Martyred Children.

Read also the Washington Post, The enablers of the racist president are back at it, which begins:

"The Post reports:

    President Trump acknowledged Friday that he used 'tough' language during a meeting on efforts toward a bipartisan immigration deal but appeared to deny using the term 'shithole' to refer to some countries. . .

The most distressing part of these episodes is the so-called respectable Republicans who begin to cover for and rationalize Trump’s overt racism. Well, maybe he didn’t say it. But those countries are poor! But what he really meant was … "

The article concludes:

"[T]he constant effort to reinterpret Trump, to make sense of nonsense and to obscure his ignorance and racism is as tiresome as it is insincere. The man who called Mexicans rapists, who declared he wanted to ban Muslims, who criticized a judge because he was a Mexican American (and therefore, in Trump’s twisted mind, could not do his job), who painted African Americans as all living in crime-infested squalor, who said there were good people among the neo-Nazi marchers in Charlottesville, who praised and pardoned Joe Arpaio after he violated the rights of suspected illegal immigrants and who does not have a single nonwhite high-ranking White House staff adviser (and the smallest percentage of female and nonwhite Cabinet officials since Ronald Reagan) is a racist. We have not had a president in the memory of any living American who so unabashedly displayed such racist views and assumptions. And yet many Republicans continue to defend him. The GOP cannot claim to be the party of Lincoln, and as such it has lost its moral legitimacy to govern and is indeed deplorable."

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Trump's Big CON: He is a "Very Stable Genius", and Ingrates Don’t Deserve Him

"From one very stable genius to another, I have some advice for President Trump: Resign immediately.

I feel you. Those small, petty, non-billionaire losers who attack you are not worthy of your brilliance. They don’t deserve the benefit of your intellect, your strength, your devastating good looks. Take your dazzling brain and your normal-size hands and go home. Let the ungrateful wretches suffer. Let them see how they like their precious little democracy without you.

They don’t deserve Ivanka or Jared or Junior or Eric, either. Most of the complainers don’t even have glamorous fashion-model third wives. Sad!

The whiners in the Fake News Media lack your genius for language. In their so-called stories, they never mention that you’ve taught family members and high-ranking White House aides to communicate in a new language you devised as an improvement on standard English. In Trump administration genius-speak, 'the president is a moron' clearly means 'our Dear Leader is doing a magnificent job.' But will the Failing New York Times or the Amazon Washington Post report that? Not likely.

The losers totally fail to appreciate your advanced, post-literate techniques for processing complex information. They still have to rely on primitive methods such as 'reading' and 'listening' and 'thinking.' They don’t understand — as you and I do, and as Aristotle surely would — that the best way to analyze a problem is to free-associate in an angry nonstop monologue while Fox News blares from a flat-screen on the wall.

The pathetic non-geniuses don’t grasp your anti-management theory of management. To them, it probably looks like chaos — just as Shakespeare must sound like gibberish to an audience of chimpanzees. Even the brainiacs at the Ivy League school you attended find it hard to imagine running something as complicated as the executive branch without crutches like organization charts and defined areas of responsibility. For you, it’s a snap. You intuitively knew it would be more efficient to install a bunch of relatives and cronies in West Wing offices, then let them spend most of their time kneecapping one another.

The snowflakes’ heads explode whenever you cite 'alternative facts.' They claim no such things exist — which shows the limits of their understanding. They probably are not even familiar with the 'many worlds' theory of cosmology, which holds that aside from the universe we live in, there are countless other universes and that anything that can happen actually does happen in one of those alternate realities.

In some universe, you did win the popular vote. In some universe, the crowd for your inauguration dwarfed Barack Obama’s. In some universe, there was no collusion between your campaign and the Russians. You’re telling the truth; it’s just that only a few physicists at MIT are able to understand.

The philistines don’t appreciate your subtle approach to foreign affairs. They believe that taunting the paranoid and ruthless dictator of an unpredictable nuclear-armed state is somehow unwise. They see international relations as akin to a chess match — failing to realize that you’re playing the game in four-dimensional space-time as described by Einstein, another very stable genius. You know for a fact that Einstein would applaud your crazy-tweet diplomacy because you time-traveled and asked him.

The haters go on about 'the rule of law' as if it’s something sacred, but you’re smart enough to know that somebody once said — it must have been another genius — that rules are made to be broken. By extension, laws are made to be broken, too. So when you fired James B. Comey and took all those other steps to impede the Russia probe, you weren’t committing a felony; you were merely being a bold rule-breaker who naturally acts in genius mode.

You must have had a lonely year. A few almost-geniuses appreciate your extraordinary mind — Sean Hannity, the hosts of 'Fox & Friends,' some Internet trolls and paid Russian hackers. Most other people, however, think far less of your mind and fear that, in any event, you have lost it.

When you consider the ingratitude, the phrase 'sharper than a serpent’s tooth' must come to mind. Or would, if you weren’t post-literate.

You deserve better. You shouldn’t have to spend another night in that 'dump' of a White House. You should be able to go back to your gold-plated triplex in Trump Tower and spend your days wallowing in ugly conspiracy theories, screaming at aides and planning a busy schedule of golf outings — the same stuff you’re doing now, but in classier surroundings.

Don’t worry about depriving us of your very stable genius. Somehow we’ll cope."

Read the Washington Post, Dear Very Stable Genius: The ingrates don’t deserve you. So quit.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Trump's Big CON: It's 'Liars Lying to a Liar Who Believes the Lie'

UPDATE:  "For the second straight day Thursday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders fought back against Michael Wolff's Trump tell-all. And in doing do, she may have finally killed off what's left of irony in the White House briefing room.

'The president,' Sanders told reporters, 'believes in making sure that information is accurate before pushing it out as fact, when it certainly and clearly is not.'

Yes, we all know what a stickler Trump is for making sure what he says is accurate before he says it. It may be his defining trait.

In all seriousness, it's not just the nearly 2,000 false and misleading things Trump has said as president. It's that the White House and Trump himself have acknowledged that Sanders's standard doesn't really apply to them."

[W]hatever you think about Wolff's book — and there's plenty to be skeptical of — the White House long ago forfeited the moral high ground when it comes to pre-fact-checking.  [Link in original.]

Read the Washington Post, Sarah Huckabee Sanders kills irony dead, once and for all.

And speaking of feverish efforts to hide the truth, "[t]he president and the presidency are unraveling. Trump is unloved in his own house. A figure of ridicule, a theatrical creation, he is almost sympathetic. He was told by the greedy and the outright stupid that he would make a swell president. The Liar’s Paradox has spun out of control, with liars lying to a liar who believed the lie. What would that be called?

Fox News, I think."

Read the Washington Post, Trump and the liar’s paradox.

Don't forget, there is a database of the lies, updated regularly.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Trump's Big CON: The Donald is a Russian Agent, CONt. Part 5

For years “Mr. Trump and his organization had worked with a wide array of dubious Russians in arrangements that often raised questions about money laundering.”

Then he and his family had treasonous, unpatriotic meetings with a hostile foreign government inside Trump Tower, which were never reported, and which Trump and his family tried to coverup by lying, obstructing justice, and trying to stop a FBI investigation.

Read the Washington Post, What did Trump know about Russia, and when did he know it?

And the Republi-CON Party and enablers are working feverishly to stop you from knowing more.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Trump's Big CON: There is a Database of the Lies

UPDATE IV:  "With just 18 days before President Trump completes his first year as president, he is now on track to exceed 2,000 false or misleading claims, according to our database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement uttered by the president.

As of Monday, the total stood at 1,950 claims in 347 days, or an average of 5.6 claims a day. (Our full interactive graphic can be found here.)

As regular readers know, the president has a tendency to repeat himself — often. There are now more than 60 claims that he has repeated three or more times. The president’s impromptu 30-minute interview with the New York Times over the holidays, in which he made at least 24 false or misleading claims, included many statements that we have previously fact-checked."  [Links in original.]

Read the Washington Post, President Trump has made 1,950 false or misleading claims over 347 days.

UPDATE III:  "In a period of less than 26 hours — from 6:31 p.m. on July 24 to 8:09 p.m. on July 25 — President Trump made two fired-up speeches, held a news conference and tweeted with abandon, leaving a trail of misinformation in his wake."

Read the Washington Post, 26 hours, 29 Trumpian false or misleading claims.

UPDATE II:  The Donald is "the most fact-challenged politician that The Fact Checker has ever encountered. As part of our coverage of the president’s first 100 days, The Fact Checker team (along with Leslie Shapiro and Kaeti Hinck of the Post graphics department) produced an interactive graphic that displayed a running list of every false or misleading statement made by the president. He averaged 4.9 false or misleading claims a day.

Readers encouraged us to keep the list going for the president’s first year. So at the six-month mark, the president’s tally stands at 836 false or misleading claims. That’s an average of 4.6 claims a day, not far off his first 100-day pace. . .

When the president was a real estate developer, there was little consequence for repeated exaggeration or hyperbole because few people kept track. But now that he’s president, Trump may find that the “art of the deal” often requires close attention to the facts, especially if he wants to persuade lawmakers to take tough votes.

As president, Trump has already earned 20 Four-Pinocchio ratings — and a total of 152 Pinocchios. If he doesn’t like his Pinocchios, there’s a relatively simple solution: Stick to the facts.

Read the Washington Post, President Trump’s first six months: The fact-check tally.

UPDATE: "So here are the numbers for the president’s first 100 days.

    492: The number of false or misleading claims made by the president. That’s an average of 4.9 claims a day.
    10: Number of days without a single false claim. (On six of those days, the president golfed at a Trump property.)
    5: Number of days with 20 or more false claims. (Feb. 16, Feb. 28, March 20, April 21 and April 29, his 100th day in office.)

While the president is known to make outrageous claims on Twitter — and that was certainly a major source of his falsehoods — he made most of his false statements in unscripted remarks before reporters. (Interviews were another major source of false claims.) That’s because the president would rely on talking points or assertions that he had made in the past — and continued to make, even though they had been fact-checked as wrong.

This makes Trump somewhat unique among politicians. Many will drop a false claim after it has been deemed false. But Trump just repeats the same claim over and over."

Read the Washington Post, President Trump’s first 100 days: The fact check tally.

This article was originally posted at Trump's Big CON: 100 Days, 499 False or Misleading Claims, but the numbers had to be revised upward.

Search the "Fact Checker’s ongoing database of President Trump’s [many] false and misleading claims since January 20th."

Read the Washington Post  365 days of Trump’s claims.

Read also Trump's Big CON: The Score Card of False or Misleading Claims & Promises Kept.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Unfit to Be President

Another MUST READ, USA Today, Will Trump's lows ever hit rock bottom?, which states in substantial part:

"With his latest tweet, clearly implying that a United States senator would trade sexual favors for campaign cash, President Trump has shown he is not fit for office. Rock bottom is no impediment for a president who can always find room for a new low. . .

A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush. 

This isn’t about the policy differences we have with all presidents or our disappointment in some of their decisions. Obama and Bush both failed in many ways. They broke promises and told untruths, but the basic decency of each man was never in doubt. 

Donald Trump, the man, on the other hand, is uniquely awful. His sickening behavior is corrosive to the enterprise of a shared governance based on common values and the consent of the governed.

It should surprise no one how low he went with Gillibrand. When accused during the campaign of sexually harassing or molesting women in the past, Trump’s response was to belittle the looks of his accusers. Last October, Trump suggested that he never would have groped Jessica Leeds on an airplane decades ago: 'Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you.' Trump mocked another accuser, former People reporter Natasha Stoynoff, 'Check out her Facebook, you’ll understand.'  Other celebrities and politicians have denied accusations, but none has stooped as low as suggesting that their accusers weren’t attractive enough to be honored with their gropes.

If recent history is any guide, the unique awfulness of the Trump era in U.S. politics is only going to get worse. Trump’s utter lack of morality, ethics and simple humanity has been underscored during his 11 months in office. Let us count the ways:

    He is enthusiastically supporting Alabama's Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has been accused of pursuing — and in one case molesting and in another assaulting — teenagers as young as 14 when Moore was a county prosecutor in his 30s. On Tuesday, Trump summed up his willingness to support a man accused of criminal conduct: 'Roy Moore will always vote with us.' 

    Trump apparently is going for some sort of record for lying while in office. As of mid-November, he had made 1,628 misleading or false statements in 298 days in office. That’s 5.5 false claims per day, according to a count kept by The Washington Post’s fact-checkers.

    Trump takes advantage of any occasion — even Monday’s failed terrorist attack in New York — to stir racial, religious or ethnic strife. Congress 'must end chain migration,' he said Monday, because the terror suspect 'entered our country through extended-family chain migration, which is incompatible with national security.' So because one man — 27-year-old Akayed Ullah, a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. who came from Bangladesh on a family immigrant visa in 2011 —  is accused of attacking America, all immigrants brought to this country by family are suspect? Trump might have some credibility if his criticism of immigrants was solely about terrorists. It isn’t.  It makes no difference to him if an immigrant is a terrorist or a federal judge. He once smeared an Indiana-born judge whose parents emigrated from Mexico. It’s all the same to this president.

    A man who clearly wants to put his stamp on the government, Trump hasn’t even done his job when it comes to filling key government positions that require Senate confirmation. As of last week, Trump had failed to nominate anyone for 60% of 1,200 key positions he can fill to keep the government running smoothly. 

    Trump has shown contempt for ethical strictures that have bound every president in recent memory.  He has refused to release his tax returns, with the absurd excuse that it’s because he is under audit.  He has refused to put his multibillion dollar business interests in a blind trust and peddles the fiction that putting them in the hands of his sons does the same thing.

Not to mention calling white supremacists 'very fine people,' pardoning a lawless sheriff, firing a respected FBI director, and pushing the Justice Department to investigate his political foes. . .

The nation doesn’t seek nor expect perfect presidents, and some have certainly been deeply flawed. But a president who shows such disrespect for the truth, for ethics, for the basic duties of the job and for decency toward others fails at the very essence of what has always made America great."

Friday, December 8, 2017

Trump's Big CON: Whatsoever a Man Soweth, That Shall He Also Reap, The Reckoning

Another MUST READ, the Washington Post, Who are Republicans really? Look to Alabama., which states in full:

"Just how disordered have our politics become? And how off-the-rails is the Republican Party?

The good people of Alabama will help answer these questions in next Tuesday’s special election for the U.S. Senate. The whole world will be watching them decide whether party and ideology top decency and moderation; whether there is simply no end to the extremism Republican voters are willing to tolerate in their ranks; and whether a majority in their state believe that being a credibly accused sexual predator is better than being a Democrat.

They will also be telling us what they think the word 'Christian' means.

The outcome is likely to be determined by the consciences of conservatives, and of a specific kind: those who see Mitt Romney and Republicans like him as far more reflective of their moral sense than is Judge Roy Moore, the GOP’s ethically defective nominee whose indifference to the law led him to be removed from Alabama’s Supreme Court twice .

Stephen K. Bannon, the former Trump Svengali who proudly peddles the ideological wares of the extreme right, inadvertently clarified the stakes at a Moore rally in south Alabama on Tuesday night with a malicious and spiteful attack on Romney. The former Massachusetts governor tweeted this week that having Moore in the Senate “would be a stain on the GOP and on the nation.”

 Bannon’s response? 'Judge Roy Moore has more honor and integrity in that pinkie finger than your entire family has in its whole DNA.'

Yes, he really said that.

For good measure, Bannon not only accused Romney of avoiding service in Vietnam. He also trafficked in the anti-Mormon sentiments common among some evangelical Christians.

'You hid behind your religion,' Bannon said of Romney. 'You went to France to be a missionary while guys were dying in rice paddies in Vietnam. Do not talk to me about honor and integrity.' (And never mind that 'while guys were dying in rice paddies in Vietnam,' the president whom Bannon served also avoided the war, courtesy of five draft deferments.)

Bannon is many things, but a fool he is not. It’s no accident he linked his Vietnam attack to Romney’s missionary work, which underscored the 2012 Republican nominee’s deep commitment to Mormonism.

Thanks to Bannon, we now know that this is no longer just a race between Moore and Democrat Doug Jones, a former U.S. attorney who, depending on the poll, is either slightly behind or slightly ahead. It is, in very large part, a decision by Republicans about who they are.

It is also an important choice for devoted Christians. Do they really want their faith defined by those who tried to justify Moore’s alleged relationships with young teenagers by invoking the Holy Family and saying that Joseph was older than Mary (which, besides being absurd, is biblically unfounded)? Or by arguing that an interest in young girls might be explained by a desire for 'a large family,' as a professor at Ouachita Baptist University wrote?

Do those saying such things not realize that they are helping to discredit the very tradition they claim to be defending? No atheist could inflict this much damage to the faith.

This is how haywire politics has gone in the age of Trump.

Party loyalty can, it’s true, be honorable if it is about the defense of principles, and Moore’s backers say they are sticking with him to oppose abortion and multiply conservative judges.

But these rationales ring hollow given Moore’s utterly unconservative claims as a judge that his theological predilections overrode the law and his lies about not profiting from his private charity, which suggest he is a charlatan exploiting the beliefs of his supporters for his own purposes.

Both Moore and President Trump play on the feelings of marginalization experienced by many cultural conservatives. It would be salutary for such voters to declare that there are limits to how much they will allow themselves to be used by politicians whose words and deeds are so often at odds. If Moore is not the limiting case, there are no limits.

Moore’s promoters, including Bannon, want to convince Alabama Republicans that since a Jones triumph will be taken as a rebuke to Trump, they have an obligation to fall into line. But the long-term harm to the GOP from a Moore victory will be far greater than from one lost Senate seat. Bannon is right to cast the election as being about 'honor and integrity.' When it comes to these virtues, it is not a close call."

Monday, November 13, 2017

Trump's Big CON: Whatsoever a Man Soweth, That Shall He Also Reap (AKA Karma's a B**** Ain't It Republi-CONs)

UPDATE VI:  "Sexual harassment is not the sin of one party. We’ve seen liberals and conservatives alike caught up in the maelstrom of sexual assault and predation complaints. However, Democrats have an easier time dealing with revelations and an opportunity to seize the high ground in a time when voters are furious at politicians who wield power for their own interests.

Let’s begin with the proposition that not all allegations are equal. As David Frum put it, '[Sen. Al] Franken’s prank was cruel and humiliating. [Roy] Moore’s acts ‘if true’ rank among the worst crimes in the statute book. And the president is a confessed serial sexual assaulter, on the record.' That does not excuse Franken nor give him a pass to remain in the Senate (more about that in a moment), but support for Moore and/or President Trump necessitates either 1) willingness to disbelieve multiple women with detailed and similar accounts or 2) toleration of a pattern of sexual assault against multiple women over years. That is the position all Republicans who continue to support Trump are in, and, candidly, I’m surprised Democrats have not made a much bigger deal of this. . .

There are many ways to approach this, but the following seems appropriate for candidates and members of Congress:

An alleged sexual predator/abuser (whose actions are confirmed by reliable accusations and surrounding facts) should not be eligible for the party’s nomination in a House or Senate race. If elected, the person should be expelled from office by the Ethics Committee.

The party should do everything in its power, including support for a third candidate or a write-in, to prevent the alleged predator/abuser from winning.

If the conduct occurs in office, expulsion is the only appropriate remedy.

If the conduct predated the accused lawmaker’s time in office but is discovered once he is in office (as in the Franken situation), the Ethics Committee should consider a full range of options, including expulsion. At the very least, the accused should not be supported for reelection. Parties can and should expel individuals from the party, which is a voluntary association. They can deny anyone the privilege of caucusing with their party or getting assigned to committees.

Now, if that seems reasonable, why should the same standard not apply to the president? . .

Impeachment does not seem to be applicable to conduct before election that was known to voters (although more compelling evidence that comes to light in office might be considered). However, other actions, such as censure, are possible. And certainly Trump is unfit on multiple grounds and has committed conduct that should properly be considered in good faith as impeachable conduct. But at the very least, the GOP going forward cannot support for reelection a candidate against whom so many credible complaints of sexual predation have been launched. There is no moral justification for doing so. There is no political barrier to declaring that henceforth, people of Trump’s ilk cannot run under the GOP’s banner.

And that, you see, is the real difference between the parties. Republicans almost certainly won’t do any of that. Democrats can and should. One party can tolerate an alleged sexual predator, and the other can decide never to do so."

Read the Washington Post, Republican risk being defined as the party of sexual predators.

Read also the Washington Post, Sorry: There’s no equivalence between Republicans and Democrats on sexual harassment., which names the many women who have accused The Donald of sexual harassment or assault, and notes: "we should all be asking ourselves some very hard questions, not only about the people now in positions of power, but about how we’ve each thought about these issues in the past and what we want to change in the future. Democrats are doing that — perhaps imperfectly, and arriving at different answers of varying quality — but at least they’re grappling with it. Republicans, by and large, are doing anything but."

UPDATE V:  Another MUST READ: the Washington Post, Just how bad are Republicans?, which states in substantial part:

"It turns out that electing President Trump was not the apex of Republicans’ political insanity. Since last November, consider the Trump GOP’s track record:

The GOP’s idea of health-care reform was trying to remove millions of people from health-care coverage while giving tax cuts to the super rich. Having learned their lesson (not), Senate Republicans now support a tax bill that will remove millions of people from health-care coverage while giving tax cuts to the super rich — and to big corporations. . .

The GOP’s environmental agenda includes climate-change denial (despite the government’s own confirmation that climate change is real and man-made), lifting the ban on importing elephant trophies (the first sons are avid big-game hunters and Christmas is around the corner) and trying in vain to save the coal industry. Trump’s GOP has made China look like a leader in global environmental issues.

The GOP president now embraces (literally, I think) autocrats like the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, applauds autocratic Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after a stolen election, barely if at all brings up human rights in China and Saudi Arabia, and has not a bad word to say about Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. The GOP now opposes multilateral trade deals (the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership) while China makes trade deals and the TPP countries forge a deal among themselves without the United States.

The GOP’s constitutional conservatism amounts to giving a totally unqualified nominee who hid a conflict of interest a lifetime federal court appointment. . .

The Trump GOP does not believe in fiscal responsibility nor in federalism (as evidenced by its attack on localities that don’t do the feds’ bidding on immigration enforcement) nor in legal immigration. It does, however, believe in mass deportation of “dreamers,” who came here illegally as children.

The GOP president believes 3 million to 5 million people voted illegally based on no evidence whatsoever but doesn’t think the Russians meddled in our election despite the unanimous findings of our intelligence services.

The GOP president does not believe the media should be able to write whatever it wants nor that a sheriff found in contempt of court for abusing the rights of suspected illegal immigrants should be convicted and punished.

The GOP-led Congress is content to tolerate Trump’s nepotism, massive conflicts of interest and possible receipt of foreign emoluments. It looks the other way as a president monetizes the office, hawking his properties at every opportunity.

This is not a party that can be described as coherent, sensible, respectful of the rule of law, dedicated to equal protection or grounded in reality — let alone conservative. Today’s GOP stands for a set of crackpot ideas, unworkable and unpopular policies and a president not remotely fit to remain in office. Some sunny optimists think the GOP can be saved. From our perspective, it’s not worth trying." [Emphasis added.]

UPDATE IV:  "With Republicans searching for a solution to having an Alabama Senate nominee who is accused of molesting a teenager, Roll Call’s David Hawkings reports that how Trump will address the situation has emerged as a “pivotal question” for the party. Trump has three options. He can side with the GOP establishment and call on Moore to step aside. He can stick to the White House’s previous middle-ground response, by saying Moore should abandon his candidacy only if it’s true that he did what his accusers claim. Or he can side with Moore, though this appears a remote possibility.

The problem is that, because of the peculiarities of this situation, it’s plausible that none of these options will prove a good one. . .

Trump cannot call on Moore to exit without raising questions as to why the charges against Moore are disqualifying while similar ones against him are nothing more than a fabrication created by a conspiracy between liberal elites and the “fake news” media.

In the end, there is a fair bit of poetic justice in Trump being stuck with this particular dilemma. Moore is feeding his voters a similar set of narratives about allegations against him that Trump has fed to his own voters for well over a year now. But Trump cannot call on Moore to step aside without undermining Moore’s efforts to pull the same scam — and putting his own agenda in serious peril." [Emphasis added.]

Read the Washington Post, The Roy Moore problem is now squarely on Trump.

UPDATE III: Do you doubt the accusers?

Read The New Yorker, Locals Were Troubled by Roy Moore’s Interactions with Teen Girls at the Gadsden Mall.

UPDATE II:  Read also the Washington Post, Ignore the spin. Trump and the GOP have made a devil’s bargain with Roy Moore., which notes that the aim of Trump and his syncophant media enablers is to confuse people about what happened and dissuade them from . . . [making] a judgment as to whose account is the more credible one."

UPDATE: "Roy Moore may or may not become a U.S. senator, but he was fortunate that the explosive allegations about him pursuing relationships with teenage girls (one as young as 14) while he was in his 30s emerged at a time in his party’s history when it had been preparing for years to defend something like this.

If Moore’s political ambitions survive, he’ll have President Trump — and the way the GOP, in service to Trump, abandoned any pretense of moral principle — to thank.

Moore is insisting that The Post’s story is all a bunch of lies engineered by people who want to silence Christians like him. He’s even using it as a fundraising tool, asking supporters to contribute so that he can fight back against 'the forces of evil' and 'The Obama-Clinton Machine’s liberal media lapdogs.'

But if you read the story, it’s almost impossible to believe it isn’t true. Our reporters found four different women, none of whom know each other, telling similar stories of Moore pursuing them when they were teenagers. They didn’t come forward themselves — the reporters, after hearing rumors that apparently had been circulating in Alabama for years, tracked them down and convinced them to share their stories. They have nothing to gain. Relatives and friends corroborate the stories. . .

[The GOP] response gets at two essential things about the GOP. The first is that for Republicans in 2017, there is no such thing as truth. There is only what you want to hear and wish to believe, and anything else can be ignored or explained away. This is the result of an epistemological project that dates back decades, most especially since the founding of Fox News in 1996. From the beginning, the ideology Fox pounded into the heads of Republicans was not only that the mainstream media are biased against them, but that anything the mainstream media says can be dismissed out of hand as nothing but lies, no matter how factual it might appear. The only thing you should believe is what you hear from conservative sources.

That belief system achieved its apotheosis with the nomination of Trump, the most promiscuous liar in American political history. After years of being fed a diet of insane stories about their political opponents — Bill and Hillary Clinton had dozens of their enemies murdered, Barack Obama was born in Kenya — they were perfectly happy to swallow whatever tripe Trump tossed at them. When you hear the phrase, “if it turns out to be true,” this is a line coming from a party that has waged a brutal and systematic assault on the very idea of objective truth.

The second vital feature of today’s GOP is that Trump has led Republicans to a place where there is essentially no behavior that they cannot countenance. This is certainly Trump’s fault. But we shouldn’t excuse Republicans — after getting over some initial qualms, they quite happily followed him down into the moral sewer.

The seminal event in that descent was the release of the 'Access Hollywood' tape, in which the future president bragged about his ability to commit sexual assault with impunity. When it came out, some Republicans condemned it, but they got over their distaste pretty quickly and rallied behind him. When more than a dozen women came forward and said that Trump had groped them, kissed them against their will or otherwise assaulted them, Republicans ignored it or explained it away. To this day, it is the position of the White House that all those women are liars, something I have heard no Republicans dispute.

But that’s hardly all. In the age of Trump, Republicans have taken the position that a hostile power meddling in American elections is no big deal, not even if they got help from people inside the president’s campaign. They’ve stuck with the president as he said that those marching alongside neo-Nazis in Charlottesville were 'very fine people,' as he installed his family members into positions of power, and as he used the office of the presidency, which they once claimed they had such deep respect for, as a vehicle to enhance his own wealth.

In short, the Republican Party has made amply clear that it holds no moral principle above seizing and maintaining power. So a U.S. Senate candidate hit on teenage girls as a man in his 30s? If he can get away with it, Republicans can live with it." [Emphasis added.]

Read the Washington Post, The Roy Moore mess actually began with the Trump ‘Access Hollywood’ tape.

Republi-CONs really have no principles and values, or shame anymore.

Read the Washington Post, Woman says Roy Moore initiated sexual encounter when she was 14, he was 32, which is a detailed and creditable investigation (as much as Republi-CONs will label it FAKE NEWS).

And remember: "[W]hatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."

Or as the kids might say: 'Karma's a b**** '.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

After One Year of Trump, Is There Hope?

UPDATE:  Read also:

The Washington Post, Virginia bloodbath: Trump is exorcising the Democrats’ midterm curse, and

The New York Times, Democrats Cheer, but They May Have to Do Better in ’18, which notes:

"Make no mistake: The results Tuesday are fully consistent with a so-called wave election, like the ones that brought Democrats to power in the House in 2006 and back out in 2010.

All of the conditions for a 2018 wave are in place. The president’s approval rating is stuck in the mid-to-high 30s. The Democrats hold nearly a double-digit lead on the generic congressional ballot. The president’s party nearly always struggles in midterm elections."

Another MUST READ: the Washington Post, Gillespie did not embrace Trump enough, which states in full:

After Republican Ed Gillespie lost the race for Virginia governor on Tuesday, the president tweeted:

Donald J. Trump

Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for. Don’t forget, Republicans won 4 out of 4 House seats, and with the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win, even bigger than before!
7:40 PM - Nov 7, 2017

That was the problem: Ed Gillespie did not embrace Trump or what he stood for enough.

He forgot that there is more to Trump than just racism: There is also corruption and incompetence.

He did the first part just fine. His MS-13 commercials were exactly the sort of nightmarish dog-horn that is Trump’s specialty. But he forgot: that is not all that “Trumpism” is. Otherwise we would not need a special new -ism for it and could just say “racism.”

No, Gillespie barely even tried. Where was the paranoia? Where were the unhinged rants about wire-tapping? Where were the attacks on the legitimacy of the free press? There was, naturally, some gleeful disregard for fact, and those lines about sanctuary cities were Trump-ish, but there could have been much more. Just to show he was trying. Where were the conspiracy theories? Where was Alex Jones?

At no point in the campaign did Gillespie invite any interference from Russia! And he calls this embracing Trump? Where was the nepotism? Where was the dubiously ethical self-promotion? Where was the total apathy towards governing? Where were the unexpected fits of temper that required constant management? I didn’t see Ed Gillespie out on the road emitting a continuous stream of personal insults that, although spoken aloud, sounded somehow misspelled, but I did miss the debate, so it is possible that it happened. He had a whole campaign to do it, and did he insult a single gold-star widow, or even hint at mocking a disabled reporter? What kind of Trumpism is this, really?

Nothing about Ed Gillespie implied that he had embraced the basic Trumpist tenant of having no idea what the job he was applying for even involved. He had some bad ideas — a hallmark of Trumpism — but then again, he had too many, and they all included specifics. Anyone could tell you that a true Trump plan would never have specifics.

Where was the self-promotion? Where were the hats? Where was the well-heeled family with problematic, undisclosed business ties? Where were the advisors of dubious provenance, some with mustaches and some without? I mean, did Gillespie even golf this election season?

Trumpism is a many-pronged pitchfork.

With no evidence that Gillespie was planning to give major responsibilities to a son-in-law incapable of filling out a simple disclosure form, how could the voters of Virginia believe that he was truly embracing Trump and what he stands for? Was Gillespie motivated by a deep desire to help increase the fortune and prominence of Donald Trump, first and foremost, and anything else afterward? No. He also wanted Ed Gillespie to be elected governor.

This is not Trumpism.

Tuesday night brought more than just Ralph Northam’s election as governor, or Justin Fairfax as the state’s second black Lieutenant Governor, or that a tidal wave of down-ticket races also went vigorously blue. It was not because maybe, just maybe, the state was able to rise out of Trumpist politics based on fear and choose one based on hope, where, in the words of newly elected transgender Virginia state legislator Danica Roem, “we celebrate you because of who you are, not despite it.” (Poetically enough, she will unseat the legislator who called himself Virginia’s “chief homophobe.”) It was not because people might want to be better than Trump, both the -ism and the man. It was not that, of course. No one is better than Trump. It must have been Russian interference, or something.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Trump's Big CON: He is a Fool

The Bible foretold of The Donald:

A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards. -- Proverbs 29:11 (KJV)

And there are many more, read Open, What does the Bible say about fools?

Trump's Big CON: He is Destroying America

UPDATE:  "A recent Washington “Post-ABC News poll shows that if the Trump/Clinton presidential race were re-held today, it would be a tie. Think on that. Arguably the worst president in modern history might still beat one of the most prominent Democrats in the United States. This indicates a Democratic Party in the midst of its own profound crisis. During the Obama years, it collapsed in large portions of the country. Its national establishment has been revealed — with extensive footnotes provided by Donna Brazile — as arrogant, complacent and corrupt. But the only serious ideological alternative to that establishment is frankly socialist — the fatuous and shallow sort of socialism held by college freshmen and Bernie Sanders.

We have reached a moment of intellectual and moral exhaustion for both major political parties. One is dominated by ethnic politics — which a disturbingly strong majority of Republican regulars have found appealing or acceptable. The other is dominated by identity politics — a movement that counts a growing number of Robespierres. Both seem united only in their resentment of the international economic order that the United States has built and led for 70 years.

Normally, a political party would succeed by taking the best of populist passion and giving it more mainstream expression. But in this particular, polarized environment, how is that possible? Do mainstream Republicans take a dollop of nativism and a dash of racism and add them to their tax cuts? That seemed to be the approach that Ed Gillespie took in the Virginia governor’s race. But this is morally poisonous — like taking a little ricin in your tea. Do mainstream Democrats just take some angry identity politics and a serving of socialism — some extreme pro-choice rhetoric and single-payer health care — and add them to job-training programs?

The lead ideology of the Republican Party at the national level is now immoral and must be overturned — a task that only a smattering of retiring officeholders has undertaken. The lead ideology of the Democratic Party is likely to be overturned — by radicals with little to offer the country save anger and bad economics.

Where does this leave us at Year One of the Trump era? With two very sick political parties that have a monopoly on political power and little prospect for reform and recovery. The stakes are quite high. If America really develops a political competition between ethno-nationalism and identity socialism, it will mean we are a nation in decline — likely to leave pressing problems (educational failure, unconstrained debt, a flawed criminal-justice system) unconfronted. Likely to forfeit global leadership, undermine world markets and cede to others the mantle of stability and firm purpose. . .

So what should we wish for? It is a measure of our moment that this is not obvious. It is quite possible that moderate conservatism and moderate liberalism are inadequate to explain and tame the convulsive economic and social changes of our time. Which places America’s future — uncertain, maybe unknowable — on the other side of an earthquake."

Read the Washington Post, Our political parties can’t save themselves.

Another MUST READ: the Washington Post, How Trump broke conservatism, which states in full:

"A common defense of President Trump points to the positive things he has done from a Republican perspective — his appointment of Justice Neil M. Gorsuch and other conservative judges, his pursuit of the Islamic State, his honoring of institutional religious freedom. This argument is not frivolous. What frustrates is the steadfast refusal among most Republicans and conservatives to recognize the costs on the other side of the scale.

Chief among them is Trump’s assault on truth, which takes a now-familiar form. First, assert and maintain a favorable lie. Second, attack and discredit sources of opposition. Third, declare victory based on power or applause. So, Trump claimed that Florida Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson’s account of his conversation with a Gold Star widow was 'totally fabricated.' (Not true.) Wilson, after all, is 'wacky.” (Not relevant.) And Trump won the interchange because Wilson is 'killing the Democrat Party.' (We’ll see.)

The pattern is invariable. President Barack Obama is a Kenyan; the Mexican government deliberately dumps criminals across the border; 'thousands and thousands' of people in New Jersey celebrated the 9/11 attacks ; Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s father consorted with Lee Harvey Oswald; vaccination schedules can be tied to autism; Obama was “wiretapping” Trump Tower during the presidential campaign; Obama asked British intelligence to spy on Trump; at least 3 million immigrants voted illegally in the 2016 election. Any source that disputes Trump is personally defamed or dismissed as 'fake news.' And how is truth ultimately adjudicated? 'The country believes me,' Trump said earlier this year. 'Hey, I went to Kentucky two nights ago. We had 25,000 people.' Confronted by a reporter about his routine deceptions, Trump answered, 'I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m president and you’re not.'

Thirty years ago, University of Chicago professor Allan Bloom’s 'The Closing of the American Mind' began with the words: 'There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: Almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.' Bloom found this deeply problematic, because the ability to determine truth from falsehood, right from wrong, is essential to personal flourishing and civic health. I wonder what Bloom would make of a political philosophy in which truth is determined by 25,000 screaming partisans and reality is a function of fabulism. Conservatives were supposed to be the protectors of objective truth from various forms of postmodernism. Now they generally defend our thoroughly post-truth president. Evidently we are all relativists now.

Not quite all. Some of us still think this attack on truth is a dangerous form of political corruption. The problem is not just the constant lies. It is the dismissal of reason and objectivity as inherently elitist and partisan. It is the invitation to supporters to live entirely within Trump’s dark, divisive, dystopian version of reality. It is the attempt to destroy or subvert any source of informed judgment other than Trump himself. This is the construction of a pernicious form of tyranny: a tyranny over the mind.

Not that the attempt is fully conscious. Some of this preference for deception may be the result of pathological compulsions. Some of it is surely the intuitive use of trolling to draw attention away from scandals and failures. Some of it may be a strategy to discredit contending sources of truth in Trump’s upcoming public battle with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

But here is the cost. When there is no objective source of truth — no commonly agreed upon set of facts and rules of argument — political persuasion becomes impossible. There is no reasoned method to choose between one view and another. The only way to settle political disputes is power — determined by screaming mobs or because 'I’m president and you’re not.' Politics becomes an endless battle of true believers, conditioned to distrust and dismiss every bit of evidence that does not confirm their preexisting views. The alternative to reasoned discourse is the will to power.

This is the frightening direction of Trumpism. It is the corruption that good men such as White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly are enabling. And it is a source of enduring shame for many conservatives. 'Sycophancy toward those who hold power,' said Bloom, 'is a fact in every regime, and especially in a democracy, where, unlike tyranny, there is an accepted principle of legitimacy that breaks the inner will to resist. . . . Flattery of the people and incapacity to resist public opinion are the democratic vices, particularly among writers, artists, journalists and anyone else who is dependent on an audience.'

Exactly how the conservative movement was broken." [Links in original, emphasis added.]

Trump's Big CON: The 'I Want The Credit, Don't Blame Me' President, WV Edition

"The fact that West Virginia saw a 3 percent increase after years of limited growth was not lost on Trump. In two interviews on Fox News programs, he touted the state’s economic growth, adding that it was a result of his elimination of regulatory policies on mining and coal. Is the credit deserved?

The short answer is, no. . .

Taking credit for economic advances where no credit is due seems to be a habit for Trump. He should be more careful not to overstate the effect of his administration’s policies when praising economic gains across the country.  For trying to capitalize on the hard work of West Virginians, Trump earns Four Pinocchios."

Read the Washington Post, President Trump’s claim that he ‘turned West Virginia around’ by cutting regulations on mining.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Trump's Big CON: Using Fear, Anger and Hatred for Political Purposes

UPDATE II:  "The terrorists behind the attack, he said, need to be “rubbed out.” “Law and order” must be preserved. The courts are “against the country” and “the media should not have unlimited freedom.” “I will allow the military to try you,” the president warned terrorists, “and put you to death.”

You could be forgiven for thinking these were the words of President Trump reacting to Tuesday’s terrorist attack in New York City that killed eight and wounded 12. It’s all there: The familiar Trump bravado. The call for swift justice. The indictment of other institutions — the courts, the press — that are said to be too weak or unwilling to help safeguard the nation.

But each of the quotes above are from authoritarians who have exploited terrorist attacks to undermine rule of law in their own countries and for whom Trump has breathlessly professed admiration. And this week, he has also sought to emulate them. . .

[Terrorist] groups like the Islamic State and al-Qaeda seek to do more than kill. With each attack, they hope to provoke divisions in our society and undermine confidence in the institutions and diversity that define our Republic.

This week, we saw that they have an enabler at the highest level — an unpopular, impulsive, ineffective and increasingly isolated president who in attempting to project a strongman image reveals his fundamental weakness as a leader. Trump has once again succumbed to his worst impulses. They question for the rest of us is, which is stronger — the demagogue or our democracy?"

Read the Washington Post, President Trump is responding to terrorism the way demagogues and dictators do

UPDATE:  "[E]ven when we take reasonable, effective actions against Islamist terrorism, we do not guarantee that these incidents will stop. We are defeating the Islamic State and destroying its caliphate, and yet Islamist fundamentalism may still inspire murderous rampages. We can authorize and reauthorize National Security Agency surveillance programs, but a single killer need not communicate with anyone overseas to launch a plot. We can interdict money flowing to terrorism, but all this attack cost was the rental fee for a truck. . .

So what do we do? Do we learn to 'live with' these low-level attacks? Let’s begin with what we should not do — demonize an entire religion, assail our own democratic institutions, demean our intelligence community or politicize every corner of government. . .

Beyond that, we should continue to do the big things (destroy the Islamic State’s territorial haven) and the not-so-big-but-critically-important things (more extensive use of barriers, improved police relations with Muslim communities). We control what we can, and we understand that we cannot eliminate every threat, of every size, of every origin. That is how Israel has survived since its inception; that is how we address ordinary, domestic crime.

This should not be confused with complacency or fatalism. To the contrary, we should remain determined to do whatever is in our power to halt the scourge of Islamist terrorism, but in doing so, we should stop doing silly, time-wasting, counterproductive things for political reasons. We should stop stoke fear of our fellow Americans and of foreigners. Focus on what’s doable and avoid idiotic stunts that make us no safer and that do great damage to the fabric of our democracy. In short, stop Trump from being Trump."

Read the Washington Post, The right and wrong ways to respond to the NYC attack.

"October was bookended by tragedy.

On Halloween, a man who authorities say emigrated from Uzbekistan seven years ago, drove a rented pickup truck down a bike path, killing eight people and injuring 11 before being shot and subdued. On Oct. 1, a man shooting from the windows of a hotel on the Las Vegas Strip killed 58 and wounded 546. . .

Trump’s response to the attack in New York on Tuesday was immediately different. Since the attack, at about 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Trump has tweeted (as of writing) six times about it and about the need for policy changes to address it.

Donald J. Trump

My thoughts, condolences and prayers to the victims and families of the New York City terrorist attack. God and your country are with you!
5:57 PM - Oct 31, 2017

Donald J. Trump

I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!
8:26 PM - Oct 31, 2017

 Donald J. Trump

The terrorist came into our country through what is called the "Diversity Visa Lottery Program," a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based.
6:24 AM - Nov 1, 2017

And so on.

This is not a new pattern for Trump. He’s regularly raced to link terrorist attacks (and things that turned out not to be terrorist attacks) to the need to crack down on immigration. It’s of a piece with his campaign, during which he promoted the risks posed by immigrants as a central concern for the public and his own policies as the only way of addressing them.

Contrasting the two incidents in October mirrors the overall difference between gun violence and terrorism. Since Trump was inaugurated, there have been 283 incidents in the United States in which four or more people were shot. The death toll from those incidents, excluding Vegas, is 224. There have been a handful of terrorist attacks, perhaps only two of which involve a Muslim or an immigrant (though it’s not clear). In those two incidents, two people were killed. . .

[These two incidents show how The Donald uses fear, anger and hatred for political purposes,] how Trump considers people like Paddock versus how he considers people like Saipov. Saipov’s actions are inseparable from his status as an immigrant, as Trump’s tweets make clear: What he did is a reflection of all immigrants and therefore immigration laws need to change. Paddock — older, white — was just a guy with a broken brain. What can you possibly do about that?
So, with Saipov, Trump is quick to weigh in on policy proposals meant to address the perceived threat posed by immigrants — even if those proposals are not necessarily rooted in an accurate understanding of the issue."

Read the Washington Post, For Trump, October’s two mass killings lead to very different responses.

Read also the Washington Post, Trump responds to terror attack with petty tweets and demagoguery.

Trump's Big CON: Lie, Deny, & Vilify, Repeat Frequently, And NEVER Admit a Mistake

"Last week John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, tried to defend President Trump against charges that he was grossly insensitive to the widow of a U.S. soldier killed in action. In the process, Kelly accused Frederica Wilson, the member of Congress and friend of the soldier’s family who reported what Trump had said, of having behaved badly previously during the dedication of an F.B.I. building.

Video of the dedication shows, however, that Kelly’s claim was false, and that Representative Wilson’s remarks at the ceremony were entirely appropriate. . .

[O]f course, Kelly has neither admitted error nor apologized. Instead, the White House declared that it’s unpatriotic to criticize generals — which, aside from being a deeply un-American position, is ludicrous given the many times Donald Trump has done just that.

But we are living in the age of Trumpal infallibility: We are ruled by men who never admit error, never apologize and, crucially, never learn from their mistakes. Needless to say, men who think admitting error makes you look weak just keep making bigger mistakes; delusions of infallibility eventually lead to disaster, and one can only hope that the disasters ahead don’t bring catastrophe for all of us. . .

Again, everyone makes [mistakes]. If you’re consistently wrong, that should certainly count against your credibility; track records matter. But it’s much worse if you can never bring yourself to admit past errors and learn from them.

That kind of behavior makes it all too likely that you’ll keep making the same mistakes; but more than that, it shows something wrong with your character. And men with that character flaw should never be placed in positions of policy responsibility."

Read The New York Times, The Doctrine of Trumpal Infallibility.

Read also from March, The New York Times, America’s Epidemic of Infallibility, which states:

"Just to be clear: Everyone makes mistakes. Some of these mistakes are in the 'nobody could have known' category. But there’s also the temptation to engage in motivated reasoning, to let our emotions get the better of our critical faculties — and almost everyone succumbs to that temptation now and then (as I myself did on election night).

So nobody is perfect. The point, however, is to try to do better — which means owning up to your mistakes and learning from them. Yet that is something that the people now ruling America never, ever do.

What happened to us? Some of it surely has to do with ideology: When you’re committed to a fundamentally false narrative about government and the economy, as almost the whole Republican Party now is, facing up to facts becomes an act of political disloyalty. . .

But what’s going on with Mr. Trump and his inner circle seems to have less to do with ideology than with fragile egos. To admit having been wrong about anything, they seem to imagine, would brand them as losers and make them look small.

In reality, of course, inability to engage in reflection and self-criticism is the mark of a tiny, shriveled soul — but they’re not big enough to see that.

But why did so many Americans vote for Mr. Trump, whose character flaws should have been obvious long before the election?

Catastrophic media failure and F.B.I. malfeasance played crucial roles. But my sense is that there’s also something going on in our society: Many Americans no longer seem to understand what a leader is supposed to sound like, mistaking bombast and belligerence for real toughness.

Why? Is it celebrity culture? Is it working-class despair, channeled into a desire for people who spout easy slogans?

The truth is that I don’t know. But we can at least hope that watching Mr. Trump in action will be a learning experience — not for him, because he never learns anything, but for the body politic. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll eventually put a responsible adult back in the White House."

It should be clear by now that a responsible adult will not be back in the White House any time soon.

Trump's Big CON: It's Not Tax Reform, It's a Tax Cut for the Wealthy

UPDATE VI:  "Contrary to the president’s claim, the tax plan is not “so bad” for the wealthy. In fact, no matter how you slice it, the superwealthy do rather well under the House GOP proposal. As we have said, that’s largely because they already pay a large chuck of income taxes already.

Trump could actually make the distribution tables look better if he pushed to keep the AMT in place for incomes above $1 million and the estate tax in place for estates larger than $11 million. The failure to do so underscores the fact that this tax plan is not only for the middle class."

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s claim that the House GOP bill is ‘so bad for rich people’.

Read also the Washington Post, Who really pays the estate tax?, which notes that roughly 2.7 million Americans will pass away in 2017, but only 11,310 deceased individuals (the top 0.5 percent wealthiest) will need to file an estate tax return.  After deductions, only 5,460 of them will owe any estate tax, and only 80 will be "small" businesses or small farms (worth between $5-10 million). Those 80 "small" businesses or small farms will pay on average $375,000, and they have "the option to pay it off over a period of 15 years, softening its impact."

So Trump's claim that the proposal is 'so bad for rich people' is a lie, but his tax cut proposal will save him and his family billions (yes, billions).

UPDATE V:  "Killing the estate tax has long been the holy grail of Republicans. (They even succeeded in one year, 2010, but then it came back.) So there is little surprise that the tax bill would include an estate-tax repeal.

But what is surprising is that the tax bill also allows the beneficiaries of estates to not pay capital gains taxes on the increase in value of assets held by the estates. That has not been a feature of most previous estate-tax bills. In fact, President Trump’s campaign plan would have repealed the estate tax but taxed capital gains accumulated at death. . .

But the House GOP tax plan, by contrast, kills the estate tax (starting in 2024) and continues to value assets passed to heirs at a stepped-up basis. (The only exception is certain interest in foreign entities, such as a passive foreign investment company.)

[I]t’s interesting that House tax-writers would press forward with an elimination of the estate tax that goes far beyond previous efforts — or even Trump’s campaign tax plan — to allow tens of billions of untapped capital gains to remain beyond the reach of the U.S. government. The money left on the table because of a difference between two words — 'stepped-up' and 'carryover' — is certainly staggering."

Read the Washington Post, Two words in the GOP tax bill mean tens of billions for the superwealthy.

UPDATE IV:  "The Republican tax bill is often described as being weighted toward 'the rich.' But that’s not the full story.

It’s actually weighted toward the loafer, the freeloader, the heir, the passive investor who spends his time yachting and charity-balling.

In short: the idle rich.

Republicans claim the opposite, of course. For years the GOP has argued that we need to cut taxes to incentivize work and job creation. If only today’s allegedly sky-high marginal rates were lower, millions of talented, driven Americans would apply more of their talent and drive toward growing the economy.

Why? Well, if they got to keep more of their hard-earned cash, there would be a greater payoff from clocking that extra hour, taking on that extra project, seeing that extra patient, scoring that extra client, building that extra business, and so on. Working would look more attractive relative to playing an extra round of golf.

Yet the GOP tax bill offers the biggest windfall to those who sit on their duffs and do nothing.

Rich layabouts benefit in multiple ways from the proposal. . .

So much for the dignity of work."

Read the Washington Post, Who wins biggest in the GOP tax plan? The lazy rich.

UPDATE III: "Many of the ideas in the Republican tax proposal unveiled Thursday have found bipartisan support in the past and endorsements from economists who see a way to improve the U.S. economy. That includes plans to make the corporate rate more competitive, simplify personal taxes, curb several tax breaks of dubious value and provide more assistance to working families.

The controversy is over who will gain the most: the rich and corporations. The GOP bill would cut the corporate rate well below previous attempts, eliminate a tax on inheritance that affects only people with many millions of dollars, and take other actions that do not provide direct benefits to most Americans.

And the proposal represents a significant break with previous tax-rewrite discussions.

Republicans have in the past focused on the importance of not adding to the nation’s debt through tax reform. Democrats have favored overhauling the tax code to raise revenue to pay for needed improvements in America’s infrastructure or to provide services for the middle class and poor.

But in this case, Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation estimated Thursday that the tax plan would be paid for by $1.5 trillion in additional borrowing over the next decade. Much of that reflects tax reductions benefiting the wealthy and companies."

Read the Washington Post, The GOP’s bill is ‘a sensible framework’ — but ‘still a deficit-exploding tax cut’ for the rich and corporations.

UPDATE II:  "Judging from the initial details, Republican tax-plan writers have thrown out the idea that they should simplify the code. They’ve also decided that high-six-figure earners and wealthy heirs deserve a tax break. . .

As one might expect, Trump’s plan takes care of himself and his real estate pals: 'Many companies would face a new limit on their interest deductions, which would be capped at 30% of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, which is a measure of cash flow. Real-estate firms and small businesses would be exempt from that limit.'

In short, this is still a bill that directs enormous benefits to the rich and to corporations and hammers middle-class people in high-cost and high-tax states. The complexity of the proposals undercuts its claim to be “tax simplification” while diminishing some pro-growth aspects. It is a bill in which everyone will find something to hate."

Read the Washington Post, Republicans manage to make the tax code more complicated.

UPDATE:  "In 1986, corporations basically footed the bill for individual tax cuts. It's shaping up to be the reverse this time around."

Read the Washington Post, Who’s really going to pay for Trump’s big tax cut?

Republi-CON so-called tax reform "is, in fact, a gigantic giveaway to corporations and the wealthy . . .

The entire purpose of this exercise is to cut taxes for the wealthy and corporations, because it’s a Republican plan and that’s what Republicans do."

Read the Washington Post, Don’t buy the latest spin. The GOP tax plan is still a huge giveaway to the rich., which explains how they are trying to do it.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Trump's Big CON: It's All About the Show, Commerce Secretary Edition

"Forbes magazine says that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross 'lied to us' about his net worth, exaggerating it by billions of dollars to make the widely cited 'Forbes 400' list of richest people in America. Ross was dropped from the list for 2017 after being a presence for 13 years.

In an article Dan Alexander posted Tuesday, Forbes said it discovered a discrepancy after examining Ross’s government financial disclosure forms, on which Ross, a Wall Street investor before President Trump put him in his Cabinet, listed his assets at $700 million.

That’s not even close to qualifying for what the magazine calls “the country’s most exclusive club” in which the richest person, Bill Gates, is worth $89 billion and the poorest a mere $2 billion."

Read the Washington Post, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross ‘lied’ about his wealth to make richest Americans list, says Forbes magazine.

Remember: it's all 'bout the show, 'bout the show, stupid people!!! (Repeat til you get it).

Trump's Great Strength: He Know How to Connect to People, Unfortunately He Uses It to Leverage Racism

Again, I've always thought The Donald had an exceptionally high EQ , too bad he misuses it.

Read the Washington Post, What makes President Trump casually dismiss black pain? White rage., which states in part:

"The white resentment that unmasked itself during the Obama era, sparked by the tea party and Trump’s birther crusade, had been pretty obvious even before the predominantly white media devoted legions of stories to it over the past couple of years in a fit of 'Hillbilly Elegy' curiosity. It seemed apparent to people of color that this was the mysterious malady that caused people to support Trump; the press, in the manner of Christopher Columbus, would eventually discover it, too. Much less energy was devoted to, say, examining black anger about racial injustice and other issues. That’s partly why the president was able to get so many (mostly white) Americans to believe the fiction that kneeling athletes were Betsy Ross blasphemers. Those attitudes give Trump license to make targets of outspoken sports commentators and various members of Congress — especially if they’re women of color, his favorite opponents. The act of not believing black folks or performing confusion about our anger has social currency as well, since it makes it look as though we are all crying wolf. Even when we’re talking about a pregnant military widow, perhaps the most sympathetic character in the entire American story. . .

It is also the latest chapter in America’s long history of mistreating African American military veterans, alive or dead. As Peter C. Baker noted in November in the New Yorker, the Equal Justice Institute in Alabama released a report about lynching shortly after the election that indicated that 'no one was more at risk of experiencing violence and targeted racial terror than black veterans' of America’s wars in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Baker wrote that those veterans, returning home from fighting overseas, understandably felt more of an entitlement to equal treatment under the law, and the lynchings were intended to disabuse them of that notion.

Lynching was the most violent form of racial denigration in that era. But racial denigration, that act by which bigots strip any respectability or humanity away from black folks to reinforce their false racial hierarchy, has never gone away. And Trump has such a gift for it that he used it to win the White House. He was elected by a swell of bigotry, and so he serves his masters with aplomb. It may be the only consistent thing he does.

While he didn’t break out a noose for the Johnsons or Wilson, he did sic his dogs on them through his continued insistence that they are lying. Already, an Illinois man is being investigated for a Facebook post threatening to lynch Wilson. Knowing that his base either is racist or willing to vote in a man who would metastasize white supremacy, Trump felt secure putting a black Gold Star family in the crosshairs to escape accountability.

Asked toward the end of the interview Monday whether she had anything to say to the president, Myeshia Johnson said, 'No,' then paused a bit before adding, 'I don’t have nothing to say to him.' You should watch it in its entirety, if for no other reason than to see this moment. Her anger and hurt was palpable throughout the interview, but perhaps none more so than right then. You’ll see a woman who clearly can’t believe that she has to deal with this nonsense.

These are surely the worst days of her life. But rather than talking purely about her husband and any righteous rage she may have over the circumstances of his death, she has to talk about Trump and what he is doing to her. She may even be screaming inside over the fact that this maddening episode will always be a part of La David Johnson’s story. The president could’ve prevented that by trying to act like a human being for the five minutes it took to make that call, but alas.

While we don’t yet understand why La David Johnson was left behind to die, we understand why his family has been treated like trash. A fallen soldier’s family is being forced to make space for the president’s petty grievances in their time of bereavement, all because, even at an unconscious level, America accepts white anger. Even when viewed as wrong, it is at least tolerated more than the fury of black folks. This has been a long con by conservatives, dating back to before the birth of the Southern Strategy after Jim Crow, and it is paying out for them now.

The president knows that white resentment is a perfect fit for his pugnacious politics, so he can continue reflexively picking fights that wiser men ignore. He has cover from his acolytic base, who see the disrespect and hatred they have nurtured for so long exploding into presidential action. What appear to be confounding, unforced errors borne of his inherent cruelty are also chunks of red meat for his base. The satisfaction that Trump derives from feeding them clearly matters more to him than the outrage of a black war widow. If that’s disturbing, consider that it makes some political sense for him to behave like this. Whose fault is that?"