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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Trump's movement

by digby

Via Crooks and Liars, here's a look at a nice Trump supporter:

John Martin Roos, a 61-year-old from Oregon, has been charged with communication of a threat in interstate commerce, and additional charges are likely forthcoming. Roos first came onto the federal government’s radar after a “concerned citizen” brought Roos’ Facebook and Twitter postings to the FBI’s attention in February, according to an affidavit from Special Agent Jeffrey Gray. (Excerpts, below, from Roos’ postings contain explicit language.)

In one Jan. 31 Facebook post cited by the FBI, Roos referred to agents as “pussies” and wrote he would “snipe them with hunting rifles everywhere.” (Despite his threats to kill members of law enforcement, he also complained on Facebook earlier this month about the “liberal media ... slamming police.”) In a post in November that was also cited by the FBI, Roos spoke out against accepting refugees and threatened to kill Obama.

“Obama you goat fffing fudgepacker, the refugees are men of fighting age. Black lives matter! Sure we need someone to pick cotton and wash cars. Paris, burn diseased muslim neighborhoods to the ground and start over with human beings. Obama you are on a hit list,” he wrote in a post that appears to have been removed.
Click over to C&L to see some more of his lovely tweets.

Update: Hookay
In a sit-down interview with a Richmond news station, the Imperial Wizard of the Rebel Brigade Knights of the Ku Klux Klan said Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump is his candidate for President. 
The KKK leader, identified by WWBT only as “Imperial Wizard,” also insisted his organization is not a hate group, telling the station’s black anchor, “We don’t hate anyone.” 
Asked who he was supporting in the 2016 race, the wizard replied: “I think Donald Trump would be best for the job.” 
"The reason a lot of Klan members like Donald Trump is because a lot of what he believes in, we believe in. We want our country to be safe,” he said. 
The leader went on to say if Trump were to drop out, he would back Ohio Gov. John Kasich before Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), saying Cruz “is not an American citizen” because he was born in Canada. 
WWBT’s interview opens with anchor Chris Taylor, trailed by a sheriff’s deputy as a precaution, driving to meet with Klansmen in a remote location in a national forest, because Taylor said the leader would only be interviewed on “his turf.” 
The story was spurred by the group mounting a recruitment drive in the Richmond area, dropping fliers that read “I want you for the KKK” in mailboxes and front yards, Taylor said. 
While the Imperial Wizard said Obama’s presidency has been “a very good recruiting tool,” he said it's because of Obama’s politics, not his race. 
“We are not white supremacists, we’re white separatists,” the leader said on camera. “We’re not the big bad hate group people think we are.”

Tweet 'o the day

by digby

I'm sure Trump endorser David Duke was very upset by all of this too:

That's from the man whose candidate likes to tweet white supremacists and insisted our African American president wasn't a "real American." You, know, the man whose white supremacist followers also hate mexicans, Muslims and Jews.

Damn this is an ugly campaign. And it's getting uglier every day.


Cynicism is easy. Changing the culture is hard.

by Tom Sullivan

At Political Animal, Nancy LeTourneau comments on Rebecca Solnit's essay on cynicism in Harpers. She writes that when Barack Obama entered the White House riding on a message of hope and change, that "the Republican strategy of total obstruction was designed to dampen all that with cynicism about the political process." Cynicism about the political process is not in short supply in 2016. Hope is. But let's not give Republicans too much credit.

Solnit writes:

Cynicism is first of all a style of presenting oneself, and it takes pride more than anything in not being fooled and not being foolish. But in the forms in which I encounter it, cynicism is frequently both these things. That the attitude that prides itself on world-weary experience is often so naïve says much about the triumph of style over substance, attitude over analysis.
Anyone who dares venture onto Facebook or Twitter these days knows the posture. Solnit continues:
If you set purity and perfection as your goals, you have an almost foolproof system according to which everything will necessarily fall short. But expecting perfection is naïve; failing to perceive value by using an impossible standard of measure is even more so. Cynics are often disappointed idealists and upholders of unrealistic standards. They are uncomfortable with victories, because victories are almost always temporary, incomplete, and compromised — but also because the openness of hope is dangerous, and in war, self-defense comes first. Naïve cynicism is absolutist; its practitioners assume that anything you don’t deplore you wholeheartedly endorse. But denouncing anything less than perfection as morally compromising means pursuing aggrandizement of the self, not engagement with a place or system or community, as the highest priority.
Watching the Forward Together movement take on conservative retrenchment in North Carolina with its Moral Monday protests, one is struck by how cynicism has no place there. You take your victories where you can find them and take defeats in stride. People volunteer to be arrested by the dozens, by the hundreds. Nothing much changes week to week. Except one of those Moral Monday arrestees, Terry Van Duyn, is now a Democratic state senator and the Minority Whip.

The struggle is never over. The fight for justice is never complete. Moreover, the goal of the struggle is not necessarily winning every battle:
David Roberts, a climate journalist for Vox, notes that the disparagement of the campaign to stop the Keystone XL pipeline assumed that the activists’ only goal was to prevent this one pipeline from being built, and that since this one pipeline’s cancellation wouldn’t save the world, the effort was futile. Roberts named these armchair quarterbacks of climate action the Doing It Wrong Brigade. He compared their critique to “criticizing the Montgomery bus boycott because it only affected a relative handful of blacks. The point of civil-rights campaigns was not to free blacks from discriminatory systems one at a time. It was to change the culture.”

The Keystone fight was a transnational education in tar-sands and pipeline politics, as well as in the larger dimensions of climate issues. It was a successful part of a campaign to wake people up and make them engage with the terrifying stakes in this conflict. It changed the culture.
The Campaign for Southern Equality led by Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara led similarly "pointless" protests. Day after day, they led gay and lesbian couples in efforts to get marriage licenses in county offices across the South. It was never about this couple or that one. They meant to change the culture. The fight did not end with Obergefell v. Hodges. Now CSE has turned to fighting North Carolina's HB2 (#RepealHB2). Later this year Beach-Ferrara will be sworn in as a Democratic county commissioner.

How do you change our politics? The same way you eat an elephant.

Solnit takes on cynics not just as defeatists, but as enablers of what they condemn, "The dismissive 'it’s all corrupt' line of reasoning pretends to excoriate what it ultimately excuses."

Changing the culture is work, and change not always as rapid as with the marriage equality movement. Political change is the same. The two major parties are where they are, in part, because people who joined worked and built their organizations over many decades until they wrote themselves into the political structure of their states and set the rules that preserve their primacy. Cynics who don't like that want things to be different, but few are willing to do comparable work to build rival organizations over time or to take over those already in place. But they'd love for someone else to custom-build a new party to their specifications and work for decades to make it viable for them, then deliver it to them on a platter. Then they'd join. Maybe. It's why I keep around here somewhere a copy of the Little Golden Book version of "The Little Red Hen" to use as a prop. Florida's Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Rep. Alan Grayson, used to prefer a rubber chicken.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday night soother: Remembering Cecil

by digby

The Dodo has the story:


"Cecil's Pride: The True Story of a Lion King" was written by Craig Hatkoff and his two daughters, Juliana and Isabella. While the barrage of coverage Cecil received last summer focused on his death, Hatkoff told The Dodo he was more interested in what came before it.

Cecil and a lioness

"Cecil's death was a very dark moment that tapped into a zeitgeist of anger about our endangered species, and indeed our planet as a whole," Hatkoff said. "The whole world knew how Cecil died; we wanted to tell the story about how Cecil lived."


In order to do that, Hatkoff reached out to the people who studied Cecil's pride at Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park.

We found Cecil's 'biographer,' researcher Brent Stapelkamp, who kept watch over Cecil for nine years," Hatkoff explained. "Brent had also taken stunning photographs of Cecil that we were able to use throughout the book."

oh my God

The images illustrate the complexities of the relationships between the lions in the pride.

One relationship that stood out was that of Cecil and Jericho, an unrelated male who eventually became the coleader of Cecil's pride. Instead of fighting each other for the seat as the dominant male, the lions decided to work together — a dynamic that persisted even after Cecil's death.

Jericho and Cecil

"There was a big concern by researchers that, after Cecil's death, Jericho would likely kill or abandon Cecil's cubs," Hatkoff said. "Instead Jericho has been raising them as his own for the past nine months. It was like the 'Lion King' story except Scar, Simba's evil uncle, turns out to be the good guy and saves the day."

Jericho and the step-cubs

I don't want to ruin the story by discussing the creep who killed that magnificent beast for no good reason. Or mention that Donald Trump's sons are also bloodthirsty big game killers who like to pose with dead African lions, elephants and others. It just. needs. to. stop.

QOTD: Ted Cruz

by digby

When he's right he's right:
“I know it is surprising to Donald Trump, but tweeting ugly pictures at ISIS is not gonna cause them to go away. Yelling and screaming and cursing at them and telling them what big hands you have is not going to cause ISIS to go away."

Benghazi will never die

by digby

Oh fergawdsakes:

In a letter he sent to Benghazi Select Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy today, Assistant Secretary of Defense Stephen Hedger lists a litany of abuses that have taken place during the course of the investigation of the 2012 attack.

Among these abuses, Hedger reports, is that the committee is requesting that the Defense Department track down callers to Sean Hannity’s radio show in order to call them as witnesses:

The Committee has requested to interview an individual identified as ‘John from Iowa’ who described himself as a Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) camera operator on a talk radio show, where he described what he allegedly saw in the video feed from the night of the attack. The Department has expended significant resources to locate anyone who might match the description of this person, to no avail. The Committee staff then expanded this initial request to include all RPA pilots and RPA sensor operators who operated in the region that night.

The May 2013 call to Hannity’s program was subsequently reported on by other conservative outlets, including Glenn Beck’s The Blaze.

Your tax dollars at work folks.

More at Right Wing Watch.

Update: Yep

Wayne Simmons, who presented himself as a national security expert and was a part of the conservative media push for a congressional investigation of the Benghazi attack, has pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges.

In an April 29 press release the Department of Justice noted that Simmons “falsely claimed he spent 27 years working for the Central Intelligence Agency” and had pleaded guilty “to major fraud against the government, wire fraud, and a firearms offense.”

The release further noted, “Simmons admitted he defrauded the government in 2008 when he obtained work as a team leader in the U.S. Army’s Human Terrain Systems program, and again in 2010 when he was deployed to Afghanistan as a senior intelligence advisor on the International Security Assistance Force’s Counterinsurgency Advisory and Assistance Team.”

Dana J. Boente, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said, “Simmons admitted he attempted to con his way into a position where he would have been called on to give real intelligence advice in a war zone. His fraud cost the government money, could have put American lives at risk, and was an insult to the real men and women of the intelligence community who provide tireless service to this country.”

Simmons was a frequent guest on Fox News, appearing on the network dozens of times purporting to be a former CIA operative. In those appearances, Simmons regularly criticized Democrats on foreign policy and national security issues. In one instance, he said, “If the Democrats come into power in the United States and re-employ their vision of defense for this country, we will have 9-1-1s unabated.”

Lara Logan's still got a job on CBS though so that's good.

You'll find Dan Rather on Axe TV.


The establishment insider who ran “The Torturer’s Lobby” is Trump's secret weapon

by digby

I wrote about Trump's new political brain for Salon this morning:

Perhaps one of the most unnerving political developments to watch over these last few days has been the beginning of the reluctant acceptance of Donald Trump among the Republican establishment. Watching the like of Senator Bob Corker on television praising his "foreign policy" and seeing influential House members like Bill Schuster endorse him is more than a little bit unsettling. It stands to reason that this would happen now that Trump is looking more and more like the winner, but considering just how unpopular Trump is among the political establishment, it's more likely due to the hard work of his recently hired senior adviser, Paul Manafort.

According to this fascinating, must-read profile by Franklin Foer in Slate,  Manafort "is among the most significant political operatives of the past 40 years, and one of the most effective. He has revolutionized lobbying several times over, though he self-consciously refrains from broadcasting his influence."  He's the most important Republican campaign consultant and lobbyist the general public has never heard of.

Manafort was mentored by Bush family consiglieri James Baker and partnered with the notorious political operative Lee Atwater. He ran Republican campaigns and conventions for decades, including Reagan's legendary "Morning in America" convention in 1984. Everyone assumed he was hired by Trump to perform the specialized task of suppressing a convention insurgency, which he performed on behalf of Gerald Ford in the 1976 convention. But this man is so much more than that.

He went on to run Reagan's southern operation in 1980, remembered for its clever racist dogwhistle of opening the campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi famously known as the murder site of three civil rights workers 16 years before. After the campaign Manafort and Stone (along with another successful GOP operative Charlie Black) then opened their campaign consultant/lobbyist firm perfecting the dubious business of electing politicians and then lobbying them on behalf of their corporate clients. Trump was one of them, using the firm to help him stave off the threat of Indian gaming. It was an ugly, racist campaign that culminated with Governor George Pataki fining Trump and Stone $250,000 and requiring a public apology.

So  Manafort and Trump are a match made in heaven for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which is Manafort's long association with oligarchs, despots and tyrants all over the world. As much as he's been a GOP operative, his real business is selling evil men to American politicians and power brokers.

Joe Conason compiled a partial list of his greatest hits at the National Memo:
Manafort first drew public attention during the Reagan era, when he and his lobbying partners represented Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, a world-class kleptocrat whose theft of enormous amounts from his country’s treasury I helped to expose in The Village Voice more than 30 years ago (with my esteemed colleague William Bastone, who later created The Smoking Gun website). Few official criminals in the 20th century were as audacious and greedy as Marcos and his shoe-fetishist wife Imelda, but when their image cratered after our investigation, Manafort gladly took nearly a million dollars to apply lipstick to those pigs. 
Not content with the tainted Marcos lucre, Manafort and company also advocated on behalf of international gangsters such as Mobutu Sese Seko, the kleptocratic dictator known as the “King of Zaire”; Jonas Savimbi, the reputed cannibal and blood-diamond purveyor who tried to seize power in Angola; Said Barre, the authoritarian crook who left the failed state of Somalia to pirates and jihadis; and Ukrainian overlord Victor Yanukovych, the corrupt, Kremlin-backed autocrat thrown out by massive street protests two years ago for fixing a national election.
Foer's account of the Savimbi lobbying campaign is mind boggling:
On a Friday in 1985, Christopher Lehman left his job at the National Security Council. The following Monday, he was flying with Manafort, his new boss, to the bush of Angola to pitch the Chinese-trained guerilla Jonas Savimbi, who wanted covert assistance from the U.S. to bolster his rebellion against Angola’s Marxist government. Savimbi briefly left a battle against Cuban assault forces and signed a $600,000 contract. 
The money bought Savimbi a revised reputation. Despite his client’s Maoist background, Manafort reinvented him as a freedom fighter. He knew all the tricks for manipulating right-wing opinion. Savimbi was sent to a seminar at the American Enterprise Institute, hosted by the anticommunist stalwart Jeanne Kirkpatrick, a reception thrown by the Heritage Foundation, and another confab at Freedom House. (Kirkpatrick introduced Savimbi, who conscripted soldiers, burned enemies, and indiscriminately laid land mines, as a “linguist, philosopher, poet, politician, warrior ... one of the few authentic heroes of our time.”)
That was some time ago. But Manafort's more recent work in Ukraine with Victor Yanukovych and other former soviet bloc oligarchs is no less shocking. His relationship with Yanukovych wasn't unique --- Bernie Sanders' consultant Tad Devine worked for him too --- but Manafort became known as his closest adviser. Indeed, he apparently has an unusual affinity for leaders who are close to Vladimir Putin which may explain why he's also such a good fit with Putin's favorite American politician, Donald Trump.

Foer concludes his piece by explaining how Manafort's special talents will be of use in this coming campaign:
Manafort has spent a career working on behalf of clients that the rest of his fellow lobbyists and strategists have deemed just below their not-so-high moral threshold. Manafort has consistently given his clients a patina of respectability that has allowed them to migrate into the mainstream of opinion, or close enough to the mainstream. He has a particular knack for taking autocrats and presenting them as defenders of democracy. If he could convince the respectable world that thugs like Savimbi and Marcos are friends of America, then why not do the same for Trump?
Donald Trump is a wealthy, proto-fascist demagogue who has hired the man whose firm the Center for Public Integrity once called "The Torturer's Lobby" to get him to the White House. If anyone can do it Paul Manafort can.  It's his specialty.

Speaking of empty souls...

by digby

As Paul Ryan continues his latest make-over as a decent human being, people are taking a look back at this more colorful statements. This one came across my twitter feed last night:
The left is making a big mistake here. What they’re offering people is a full stomach and an empty soul. The American people want more than that. This reminds me of a story I heard from Eloise Anderson. She serves in the cabinet of my buddy, Governor Scott Walker. She once met a young boy from a very poor family, and every day at school, he would get a free lunch from a government program. He told Eloise he didn’t want a free lunch. He wanted his own lunch, one in a brown-paper bag just like the other kids. He wanted one, he said, because he knew a kid with a brown-paper bag had someone who cared for him. This is what the left does not understand.”

— Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, March 6, 2014

By the way, the story was bullshit too. Four Pinnocchios.

As California goes ...

by digby

This isn't going to be pretty:
The protests outside Donald Trump's rally in Costa Mesa on Thursday night appear to point to an upcoming month of activism by Latinos and others as the GOP front-runner tries to seal the presidential nomination in the state.

Hundreds of demonstrators filled the street outside the Orange County amphitheater where Trump held a rally Thursday night, stomping on cars, hurling rocks at motorists and forcefully declaring their opposition to the Republican presidential candidate. At least 17 were arrested.

Inside the OC Fair and Event Center, Trump had surrounded himself with people carrying images of family members killed by immigrants in the country illegally.

When Trump vowed to make Mexico pay for a wall along its border with the United States, thousands of supporters erupted in cheers.

“We’re going to stop drugs from coming in,” Trump told them. “The drugs are poisoning our youth and a lot of other people.”

While the billionaire businessman has faced protests elsewhere, California could prove to be potent ground for demonstrators because of its large Latino population and Trump's negative comments about immigrants in this country illegally.

Several days earlier, pro- and anti-Trump protesters clashed outside Anaheim City Hall, where the council considered a resolution condemning Trump.

Activists predict that Trump will continue to evoke angry protests in California.

"I'm protesting because I want equal rights for everybody, and I want peaceful protest," said 19-year-old Daniel Lujan, one of hundreds of protesters in Costa Mesa on Thursday.

Southern California's Latino community has a long history of street protests, dating back to the famous Chicano Moratorium march against the Vietnam War in 1970.

A decade ago, roughly half a million immigrants and their supporters took to the streets of Los Angeles decrying federal bills that would criminalize providing food or medical services to immigrants in the country illegally and build a wall along the southern border of the U.S.

A USC/Times poll found that 77% of Latinos in California have a negative view of Trump. Yet among Republicans, Trump is ahead in that poll and several others.
As the article points out, California Latinos are organized and they are experienced.

Meanwhile, this piece in Buzzfeed shows the other side of the coin. It's a fascinating look at how the Clinton campaign has been working with Latino activists since before the primary campaign officially kicked off:
One of the most important moments in this election happened at a high school library in Nevada. 
Nearly a year ago, Hillary Clinton spoke to young undocumented immigrants and their families at Rancho High School in the working-class neighborhood of North Las Vegas, where 40% of the population is Latino. The setting was risky — just the kind of event that activists have turned into protests, with videos that travel far and wide.
Her words were directed at Jeb Bush. 
She would offer a “path to full and equal citizenship” she said, while Bush, a favorite to win his party’s nomination, supported earned legal status — or as Clinton dismissed it, “second-class status.” That wasn’t unusual. Nor was her support for “comprehensive immigration reform.” 
What she said next, however, was. “If Congress continues to refuse to act,” Clinton told the activists, she “would do everything possible under the law to go even further.” She wanted the parents of DREAMers, the parents of those seated around her, to be eligible for protection from deportation. 
Clinton would prove to be very, very wrong about Bush. But she was correct about the driving issue of the election. The event would prove to be one of the most significant moments in the Democratic primary, and the policies Clinton outlined that day and as a result of that day will inform an election dominated by immigration policy, and the increasingly polarized approaches by both parties. 
While Donald Trump talks of the wall and a far more restrictionist immigration policy, Clinton began her campaign with likely one of the most liberal immigration platforms ever adopted by a mainstream Democratic candidate.
It's an inside look at a momentous meeting between very savvy grassroots activists and a mainstream politician that changed the trajectory of the presidential campaign. Both Clinton and Sanders moved left as a result. It's going to be a battle royale here in California and the difference between the two parties could not be starker. The stakes for millions of people could not be higher.

Nuclear word salad

by digby

This is the man people like Senator Bob Corker thinks made a lot of sense in his "foreign policy speech" on Wednesday:

Think Progress comments:
Trump is, in all likelihood, one of the two people with a shot at becoming our next president. As Commander-In-Chief, Trump would have full control of America’s nuclear weapons arsenal and would be in charge of our diplomatic relationships with the other 8 nations that possess nuclear weapons. 
Trump has said that he believes nuclear weapons are the greatest threat facing our country. Yet the nuclear deterrence strategy he outlined last night during a 46-second soundbite on Fox News borders on incoherency. 
Diplomacy, particularly with the other countries that possess nuclear weapons, is a high stakes game. It is not an exaggeration to say that humanity’s survival depends on it. Pakistan is arguably the most fraught relationship of all — a nation with a significant nuclear arsenal that constantly faces destabilizing forces inside and outside its borders. 
Asked to comment on Pakistan, Trump essentially offers a word salad. Here’s the transcript:

That's not unpredictability.  It's ignorance. About nuclear war.
Previously, Trump argued that the United States “may well be better off” if more countries — including Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia — develop nuclear weapons. He has also hinted at using nuclear weapons to combat ISIS.
Remember that?
They have to respect us,” Trump said of Muslims in a wide-ranging interview with Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin and John Heilemann set to air in its entirety on Wednesday’s episode of With All Due Respect. “They do not respect us at all and frankly they don't respect a lot of things that are happening—not only our country, but they don't respect other things.”

“The first thing you have to do is get them to respect the West and respect us. And if they're not going to respect us it's never going to work. This has been going on for a long time,” he said. “I don't think you can do anything and I don't think you're going to be successful unless they respect you. They have no respect for our president and they have no respect for our country right now.”

Trump's vision for how he would earn Muslim respect included such controversial proposals as returning to outlawed harsh interrogation techniques like waterboarding; monitoring mosques in the U.S.; and leaving open the possibility of using tactical nuclear weapons against the Islamic State.
“I'm never going to rule anything out—I wouldn't want to say. Even if I wasn't, I wouldn't want to tell you that because at a minimum, I want them to think maybe we would use them,” he said.

“We need unpredictability,” Trump continued. “We don't know who these people are. The fact is, we need unpredictability and when you ask a question like that, it's a very sad thing to have to answer it because the enemy is watching and I have a very good chance of winning and I frankly don't want the enemy to know how I'm thinking. But with that being said, I don't rule out anything.”

Being "unpredictable" with nukes is very, very bad.


Weak tea

by Tom Sullivan

It will take more than fear of Donald Trump for Democrats to win this fall. They need a message. This article from Harold Meyerson after monumental losses in 2014 summed it up:

What, besides raising the minimum wage, do the Democrats propose to do about the shift in income from wages to profits, from labor to capital, from the 99 percent to the 1 percent? How do they deliver for an embattled middle class in a globalized, de-unionized, far-from-full-employment economy, where workers have lost the power they once wielded to ensure a more equitable distribution of income and wealth? What Democrat, besides Elizabeth Warren, campaigned this year to diminish the sway of the banks? Who proposed policies that would give workers the power to win more stable employment and higher incomes, not just at the level of the minimum wage but across the economic spectrum?
Bernie Sanders has focused on the banks this year, but Democrats as a party have failed so far to send a message to families working without a net that their concerns and anxieties have been both heard and felt, and that Democrats have a plan to address them. They need to forcefully answer the "cares about people like me" question.

They need to connect.

Alec MacGillis provided this anecdote from 2012:
The day of the 2012 presidential election, while reporting on the south side of Columbus, Ohio, I came across a 50-year-old man named Matt Bimberg who was waiting for the bus. He was a middle-aged white man with a Detroit Tigers cap in a mostly black neighborhood, and was returning home from a warehouse job as a forklift operator. He got the job thanks to a three-week training course paid for by the U.S. Department of Labor, and for that reason decided to vote for Barack Obama after having voted for John McCain in 2008.

“My line of thinking was that under Romney and Ryan, it would be more a trickle-down administration,” he told me at the time. “Their thinking is to give that money to corporations and the rich in tax breaks, and some will trickle down. But it didn’t work then and it won’t work now. Romney reminds me so much of Reagan’s theory of supply-side economics. It scares me.”
MacGillis' point (allowing for off-year falloff in the vote) was that Democrats forgot that message and failed to tell people whose side they are on in 2014.

Matt Taibbi references a comment by Hillary Clinton that connects the subprime crisis to the problems of race in a way that Sanders never seemed to. Taibbi admits that the press (and he himself) overlooked practices at the heart of the financial crisis. Subprime "was fueled by a particular kind of predatory lending that targeted a very specific group of people." Poor and minority people, to be exact. Predatory lending practices that target black families have made a comeback (they never really disappeared).

The point is not that targeting those practices should be a key campaign issue. It is that the left focuses so much on technocratic issues and spends so much time trying to impress voters with how smart we are that we miss the gut reality people live on the street. Therein lies the disconnect. Donald Trump doesn't suffer from that problem. He doesn't know enough to. It is why his supporters believe Trump says what they are thinking. What Democrats end up offering is technocratic, weak tea to struggling people who need something stronger if they are going to be energized enough to come out and vote for them. Voters want to hear how Democrats understand and care "about people like me."

Thursday, April 28, 2016


by digby

I have to feel a little bit sorry for the conservative movement stalwarts faced with the prospect of Trump blowing up their party.  It can't be easy. But they sound silly when they say stuff like this:
In Congress, Mike Pence was the standard bearer for conservatism. It was his cause. He was the elected Buckley. And I am now so thoroughly disappointed in him. 
The 2016 Republican Presidential primary is a choice between a conservative and a shallow demagogue. The race now hinges on Indiana. Either Cruz will win and we can continue the fight to stop Trump or Cruz will lose and more likely than not guarantee a Trump nomination. A Trump nomination would destroy all that Mike Pence so tirelessly for so many years worked to achieve. 
But Pence, in the face of this, remains on the sidelines. He has not yet wielded his influence in Indiana, the state he governs. Every day he sits on the sidelines is another day in which he could have made a difference. He has not used his influence in the conservative movement to rally against Trump. 
In 2020, conservatives will need to remember who stood up against Trump and who sat silently by. We will need to remember those who collaborated with Trump and those who turned a blind eye to Trump. We will have to remember that the man who kept the fires of constitutional liberty lit for so long stayed so quiet.
That's Erik Erickson. The conservative movement is going to be faced with many problems after this election. Mike Pence's reluctance to get in the middle of this shit-show is going to be the least of it.

It will be very interesting to see if Erickson goes over to the Trump team. I'd say it's 50-50.

The GOP's favorability is sinking like the Titanic

by digby

The Republican Party’s image, already quite negative, has slipped since last fall. Currently 33% of the public has a favorable impression of the Republican Party, while 62% have an unfavorable view. Unfavorable opinions of the GOP are now as high as at any point since 1992.

In October, 37% viewed the Republican Party favorably and 58% viewed it unfavorably. The decline in favorability since then has largely come among Republicans themselves: In the current survey, 68% of Republicans view their party positively, down from 79% last fall.

Republicans have less favorable view of the GOP.

By contrast, public views of the Democratic Party are unchanged since October. Currently, 45% of the public has a favorable impression of the Democratic Party, while 50% have an unfavorable opinion.

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted April 12-19 among 2,008 adults, finds that Democrats have a far more favorable impression of their party than Republicans have of theirs. Nearly nine-in-ten Democrats (88%) view their party favorably, which is 20 points higher than Republicans’ ratings of the GOP (68%).

Just 28% of independents view the Republican Party favorably, while 37% say they have a favorable impression of the Democratic Party. Notably, just 43% of Republican-leaning independents view the GOP favorably, while 50% hold a negative opinion of the party.

A quarter of the public has an unfavorable view of both parties.

I can't imagine what's happened in the last few months to lower people's opinion of the GOP can you?

One thing we know is that it can't be Donald Trump. Everybody loves him. Just ask him.

The Village lives. (And it's as silly as ever)

by digby

I didn't bother to write about the notoriously inane Jim VandeHei piece in the Wall Street Journal calling for a third party run by a billionaire (and clearly trolling for venture capital) because I just couldn't find it in myself to write another piece about Villager stupidity at the moment. But I suppose it's good to know it's still alive and well. 

Dylan Matthews at Vox challenged VandeHei on the substance of his piece and even got him to respond in some detail. You can read the whole thing at the link, but this stuck out for me:

DM: VandeHei declares, "Terrorism is today’s World War." Does VandeHei know how many people died in the World Wars? It's over 17 million for World War I, over 60 million for World War II. Does he know how many people die from terrorism? It was about33,000 in 2014; only 3,503 Americans were killed between 1995 and 2014, and only 107 from 2005 to 2014. How is that in any sense comparable to the World Wars? 
JV: We are assassinating terrorists in multiple countries at any moment. Ask your friends in Paris, Brussels, and New York if they feel that a war that was started more than 10 years ago has come to an end. Ask the military and those deployed to the Middle East if they feel at war. Ask yourself if ISIS is retreating and receding and stability will return to Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. 
It would be naive to think this isn't a war that get worse before it ends, if it ever does. Clearly, the war on terror does not approximate previous world wars in terms of casualties, but it's only just begun. None of us know what's next. Debating how we guard against it, authorize it, protect civil liberties during it, seems worthy. That is why military expertise strikes me as very important.
That phrase "Terrorism is today's World War" was actually part of a much more cynical political proposition. This is what VandeHei wrote in his original piece:
Exploit the fear factor. The candidate should be from the military or immediately announce someone with modern-warfare expertise or experience as running mate. People are scared. Terrorism is today’s World War and Americans want a theory for dealing with it. President Obama has established an intriguing precedent of using drone technology and intelligence to assassinate terrorists before they strike. A third-party candidate could build on death-by-drones by outlying [sic] the type of modern weapons, troops and war powers needed to keep America safe. And make plain when he or she will use said power. Do it with very muscular language—there is no market for nuance in the terror debate.

This is your standard villager folks. I think people forget what they really are.

His political prescription aside, as atrocious as it is, is not as bad as his insanely hysterical insistence that terrorism is like a World War (or even that it's likely to become as bad as World War II.)  This nonsense has pervaded our media since 9/11 --- the deep an abiding desire to be a "greatest generation" and fight an existential battle. Islamic terrorism is not that. Pretending that it is is a recipe for overreaction and stupid decisions. There is no danger of the US being taken over by Islamic fundamentalists and instituting Sharia law on Americans. It's fatuous nonsense.

Terrorism a challenge and it's dangerous. But we are irrational on the subject as President Obama pithily put it many months ago:
I would ask news organizations — because I won't put these facts forward — have news organizations tally up the number of Americans who've been killed through terrorist attacks over the last decade and the number of Americans who've been killed by gun violence, and post those side-by-side on your news reports. This won't be information coming from me; it will be coming from you. We spend over a trillion dollars, and pass countless laws, and devote entire agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so. And yet, we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths. 
From Vox:

Part of the reason we are so irrational about this is because of Villagers like Jim Vandehei.


Trump doubles down on the sexism

by digby

He appeared on the Today show today:

Matt Lauer: Some American voters might be a little bit nervous that this call for unpredictability is actually a way of masking a lack of understanding of the issues or grasp of the details

Trump: I have a total grasp of the details, far greater than just about anybody else, that I can tell you

I don't know about that but he does have a grasp of the details of being a total asshole:

"Seventy percent of women in this country say they have a negative view of you," Lauer said, referring to a Gallup poll. "Do you even care?"

"Of course I care. Nobody respects women more than I do. And I wasn't playing the woman's card, it's true," Trump said.

He continued:
I mean, she is playing the woman's card. Everything she says is about the woman's card. And, frankly, all I'm doing is bringing out the obvious. And without the woman's card, Hillary would not even be a viable person to even run for a city-council position.

Lauer asked Trump if he thought women in the US vote based simply on gender.

"Well, I don't think they vote on gender, no. I think they vote for security, I think they vote for jobs, and that's why I'm doing so well," Trump said.

He cited exit polls showing him leading with female voters, though those only surveyed Republicans who went to the polls.

Co-host Savannah Guthrie cut in and told Trump that him saying Clinton would only get 5% of the vote if she were a man suggests that the only thing she has going for her is that she's a woman.

"Not that she was a former senator, a former secretary of state, and a lawyer," Guthrie said. "Do you understand why some people find that to be kind of a demeaning comment?"

Trump responded:

No, I find it to be a true comment. I think that the only thing she's got going is the fact that she's a woman. She has done a terrible job in so many different ways. You look at Libya, you look at some of the things that she's done are just absolutely disasters. Now I would say the primary thing that she has going is that she's a woman and she is playing that card like I have never seen anybody play it before.

Those comments are even worse when you hear the casual confident way he says them. But then that's how he sounds when he calls for torture and killing the innocent children of terrorist suspects to force them to talk too. He's nothing if not sure of himself. And judging by his success so far, he's got good reason to be that way.

Unfortunately, I've heard a lot of things in recent months, much of it directed at me, that leads me to believe that Trump knows exactly what he's doing with this demeaning, disgusting sexist description of Clinton and that it could be successful. I just don't think most people find this to be out of bounds. And if they do now, by the time he's finished normalizing it like he's normalized all the rest of his insane political rhetoric, I'm going to guess everyone will see it as perfectly legitimate political criticism, unfreighted with anything more culturally poisonous. And anyone who objects will be just another politically correct sell-out.

I wish I had more faith in my fellow Americans than that but when it comes to this sort of thing, I'm a complete cynic. He knows how to push those buttons and I'm really not sure that a majority of Americans don't want him to push them.

What does the press think of the campaign coverage so far?

by digby

Politico polled the presidential campaign press corps on how they feel about the press coverage of the race. It's fascinating:

Sit with that for a while. I assume that many of these reporters are not in charge of the coverage and must rely on executives, editors and producers who are hungry for ratings, clicks and circulation. Remember that the world of journalism is in crisis and under tremendous pressure to deliver an audience.

Donald Trump understands that better than anyone. But in small ways, perhaps this poll will show reporters that they are not alone in their assessment of the various ways in which the media is presenting an unfair picture of the candidates and will make some adjustment.

Ted's Hail Mary isn't a bad play

by digby

I wrote about Cruz's gamble for Salon this morning:

Say what you will about Ted Cruz, he is a good student. After watching Donald Trump upstage everyone in the race all year long, he knew that after such a big string of wins the night before, yesterday was going to be a big day for the frontrunner, particularly since he had scheduled his first major foreign policy speech for that morning. So, taking a page out of the Trump manual, he scheduled his own big event that afternoon and word quickly "got out" that he would announce Carly Fiorina as his running mate. Sure enough the cable news nets all covered Trump, of course, but then switched almost immediately to the Cruz event and covered both his speech and Fiorina's in their entirety. He bested Trump at his own game by dominating a very packed news cycle that should be been all about Trump's triumphant march through the northeast.

There may have been some good luck involved as well. The Cruz campaign clearly had planned the Fiorina announcement as part of his Indiana Hail Mary and likely because he knows that Trump's biggest vulnerability is with women voters. He couldn't have known that Trump would launch a sexist broadside against Hillary Clinton during his big victory speech on Tuesday night that brought that issue into broad relief --- and created a meme that went viral when the first lady of New Jersey, standing behind Trump and reflecting the feelings of millions of American women gave him an obvious side-eye when he said this.

I think the only card she has is the woman's card. She's got nothing else going on. And frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don't think she'd get 5 percent of the vote. The only thing she's got going is the women's vote. And the beautiful thing is women don't like her, okay?

He obviously thought this was an extremely clever line since he had said it earlier in the day and Clinton had responded to it in her own victory speech. And Trump, as is his wont when a woman challenges him, couldn't resist going there again on Morning Joe:

Trump: I haven’t quite recovered, it’s early in the morning, from her shouting that message. I know a lot of people would say you can’t say that about a woman, because of course a woman doesn’t shout. The way she shouted that message was not ... ewwwww ... that’s the way she said it, and I guess I’ll have to get used to a lot of that over the next four or five months.

One can imagine that millions of women gritted their teeth and mouthed the words "what an ass" when they heard that one.

Lucky Cruz happened to be planning to play his own "woman card" later that day to take full advantage of Trump's sexist impulses. After all, Trump may be deluded that the ladies really like the cut of his jib, but the fact is that they actively loathe him. The Gallup polling over the month of March, showed that 70 percent of women have an unfavorable opinion of him. Cruz needs votes and he's strategically targeting the people who already hate his rival. What choice does he have?

Cruz's speech was a dull and predictable as usual but he did take the opportunity to remind every woman who was listening exactly what Trump had said about Fiorina:

"Everyone remembers that in one of the earliest debates Carly confronted Donald Trump. [cheers] A man who in his characteristic understatement said of her "look at that face". [Boos] And everyone of us remembers the grace, the class the elan with which Carly responded. She responded to Donald that she knew exactly what he was saying and that every woman in America knew exactly what Donald Trump was saying. One of the great principles of bullies, they feed off of fear. They feed off of people who will cower in the corner when they yell and scream and insult and holler and curse. And they don't know what to do when a strong powerful woman stands up and says "I am not afraid."

He was basically saying that Donald Trump has very small hands. It's fair to assume he hopes that Trump will show his usual lack of control and respond on the stump with his patented crude misogyny. He offered this doozy up to Chris Cuomo on CNN already:

“When I came out, I was competing against 17 very capable people… and a woman.”

The pundits all dismissed Cruz's so-called "Hail Carly" as a desperate move, and it is. But Cruz had to do something to change the dynamic after Trump's string of wins in the east and this isn't a bad way to do it. Fiorina never won much in the way of votes but all the reporters who followed her campaign reported that she was quite popular on the trail especially among GOP women. It's unlikely to hurt and could possibly help. It's worth a try.

Cruz and Fiorina may be antediluvian political throwbacks in most ways but for all his faults Cruz does not seem to be threatened by professional women. After all, his wife has been the primary breadwinner. And there has been some kind of "arrangement" between them from the beginning of the campaign. Recall that Cruz's Super Pac contributed big bucks to her campaign which would normally seem quite bizarre but which was explained at the time by Amy Chozick of the New York Times:

“Fiorina finance chairs told me supporters of other candidates have thrown them $$$ to have a woman in race attacking HRC.”

Now she's oddly in cahoots with HRC, drawing misogynist fire from Donald Trump. What a strange campaign.

Finally, there is one other excellent reason to recruit Fiorina to the cause. If Cruz could pull off a miracle in Indiana and live to fight another day, Fiorina might be helpful in her home state of California. She may have failed spectacularly in her Senate bid but she did manage to get the GOP nomination in a statewide contest and she is well-connected with the Republican establishment there. It's possible that she could actually do some good and help keep Trump's delegate haul below the magic number.

All of this is an extreme long shot and most people think that Trump has it in the bag even if he comes close. But this has been the weirdest primary race in history and you just never know. Cruz is still in there, working every available lever to keep his campaign alive. Yesterday he managed to upstage Donald Trump on the day of his greatest triumph and took clever advantage of Trump's weakness with women. He isn't dead yet.

Classy little boys

by digby

Republicans hate political correctness and Trump is giving them permission to completely lose whatever manners they ever had:

Despite the potential for a gender gap in which more women decamp the Republican Party, many Trump supporters see him as the stronger general-election candidate, particularly when facing Clinton.

Bob Sutton, chairman of the Broward County GOP Executive Committee in Florida, voiced confidence that Clinton would be easy to defeat in a debate — with a comment not likely to endear him to some female voters.

“I think when Donald Trump debates Hillary Clinton she’s going to go down like Monica Lewinsky,” he said.

Trump surely got a big old chuckle out of that one and only regrets that he can't use it on the campaign trail himself. Don't be surprised if he finds a way to get it in --- like that time he let the woman in the audience call Cruz a pussy and then repeated it.

Trump is undisciplined. He'll never be able to contain himself. It's going to be stomach churning.


Who do you think you're fooling?

by Tom Sullivan

Not that long ago, campaigns here fretted that black voters did not take advantage of early voting. With the exception of Sunday voting (souls to the polls), seeing neighbors at the polls on Election Day was a kind of communal celebration. Responding in the New York Times to Monday's federal court ruling upholding North Carolina's 2013 voting restrictions, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina N.A.A.C.P., notes how dramatically that changed:

The law eliminated voting rules that had enabled North Carolina to have the fourth best per capita voter turnout in the country. In 2012, 70 percent of black voters used early voting — and cast ballots at a slightly higher percentage than whites. Although black voters made up about 20 percent of the electorate, they made up 41 percent of voters who used same-day registration.

The North Carolina Legislature set out to change those figures and suppress minority votes. Its many impediments to voting all disproportionately affect African-American and Latino voters. None of their attacks would have survived pre-clearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. A Republican official defended the law this way: “If it hurts a bunch of lazy blacks that want the government to give them everything, so be it.”
Passed in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's Shelby decision, the North Carolina "voter ID" law did all of that and more, Barber writes. The bill also "reduces the early voting period and eliminates same-day registration. It expands the ability to challenge voters at the polls. It eliminates a successful preregistration program for high school students."

Election "integrity"? Who do you think you're fooling?

As Barber argues, there was never evidence for voter impersonation to justify the ID requirement. In a 2013 post on North Carolina's Voter Intergrity Project (an offshoot of True the Vote), I wrote about a friend investigated for double voting:
As it happens, I know someone to whom that happened last fall, one of VIP-NC's double-voters. After he voted, Herbert (not his real name) was informed that his vote was contested because records showed he had voted twice. It might be voter fraud.

Here’s what happened. Herbert’s son, Herbert Jr. (same address), voted earlier at a different Early Voting site, signed the log, and the elections clerk mistakenly crossed off Herbert’s name in the voting register. Because this was the Early Voting period, Herbert had time to clear up the mess with the Board of Elections before Election Day. His old ballot was voided and Herbert got to re-vote.

ID cards would have prevented the clerk's error how?
Herbert is black. Early voting protected his vote. The GOP-led legislature slashed the early voting period by a week.

Barber continues:
Since the Shelby decision, many states have been emboldened to implement laws like North Carolina’s. Republican-controlled election boards have greatly reduced the number of polling places. Wisconsin recently passed a bill creating major hurdles to voter registration campaigns. Alabama closed driver’s license offices in several counties with high percentages of black voters. But after an outcry, it sent part-time license examiners to those counties.
Who do you think you're fooling?

Two years ago, I wrote this after registration challenges in my county:
Their panic over alleged double voting, suspected voter impersonation (as elusive as space aliens), dead voters and messy voter rolls is because demographic trends show that the numerical edge to which many white Americans feel entitled will evaporate by 2043. They avoided looking at that fact square on for years.

No longer. Our half-black president embodies the trend Time and National Geographic predict will literally change the face of the nation, reducing white America to just another minority in this melting-pot country.

The fear behind the allegations is not about election integrity or race, but power. Who has it and who fears sharing it. (Hint: not Millennials. ) The GOP base knows how minorities are treated in America. For centuries, our European forebears did most of the treating.

Republican supporters and the Voter Integrity Project could register voters and invest more in get-out-the-vote efforts. But with weak faith in their own ideas, they throw smoke bombs into newsrooms and yell “Voter fraud!” loudly and often to create the perception that where there are smoke bombs there must be fire.
Who do you think you're fooling?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

"Newsflash: you're the weirdos"

by digby

Stephen takes on the toilet police:

"To all those lawmakers out there who are so obsessed with who's using what bathroom and what plumbing they've got downtown?"

 "Newsflash: You're the weirdos."

Beyond Shakespeare

by digby

A little blast from the past:

Mr. Speaker, I am saddened that there is clear and convincing evidence that the president lied under oath, obstructed justice and abused the powers of his office in an attempt to cover up his wrongdoing. I regret that the president's behavior puts me in the position of having to vote in favor of articles of impeachment and pass this matter on to the U.S. Senate for final judgment. In facing this solemn duty, I looked to the wisdom of our founding fathers.

According to Alexander Hamilton in Federalist 65, impeachment concerns offenses with proceed from the misconduct of public men -- or in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. The evidence in President Clinton's case is overwhelming, that he has abused and violated the public trust. In this nation, all men are created equal. Simply put, the president in our representative democracy is not a sovereign who is above the law.

Tomorrow, I shall cast a difficult vote. The president's inability to abide by the law, the Constitution and my conscience have all led me to the solemn conclusion that impeachment articles must be passed.

That was congressman Dennis Hastert announcing on the house floor that he would vote to impeach President Clinton for lying about having consensual sex with an adult employee.

That would be the same Dennis Hastert who was sentenced to 15 months in prison today for lying to the FBI about paying hush money to a man he sexually abused as a teenager while coaching high school wrestling.It turns out he abused a whole bunch of boys between the ages of 14 and 17 during his coaching career.

The Clinton impeachment was one of the most blatant acts of political opportunism this country has ever seen. And the public knew it at the time. But we had no idea of the scale of the hypocrisy. To make an actual sexual predator the Speaker of the House in the wake of all that moralizing is beyond Shakespearean. It's Game of Thrones.

The woman card

by digby

I am reliably informed that everyone in America is just waiting for the right woman so that's nice. Just like every high school boy is waiting for a supermodel.  It'll happen for sure.  It just has to.

In the meantime, we've got Trump.


QOTD: Lindsey Graham

by digby

There's no need to watch Trump's "foreign policy speech".  Just read Lindsey Graham's tweets and you'll get the gist:

Robert Costa put it more seriously:

The thing is that Graham, for all his protestations, has contributed to that belief among many, many Republicans by constantly going on TV and acting like Chicken Little, saying that we're about to be overrun by ISIS and we should run for our lives. He set the table for this nonsense and Trump is just reaping the reward.

That notion that the country is being "humiliated" and "disrespected" by foreigners has historically led some dangerous demagogues to do some very bad things. I'm sure you some notorious examples come immediately to mind.

Update: Lol


Trump's big win

by digby

I wrote about last night's big victory for Salon this morning:

When everyone woke up on Tuesday morning, the expectation was that Donald Trump was going to sweep the primaries. The RCP average had him winning Pennsylvania by 22 points, Maryland by 21, Connecticut by 27, Rhode Island by 29 and Delaware by 37. He actually did better than that in Pennsylvania, Rhode island and Maryland but anyone looking at those polls had to know it was going to be a Trump blowout. Nonetheless, the talking heads put on a good show and at least pretended to be surprised and impressed by Trump's yuuuuge showing. And it's clear that people are starting to fully grapple with the reality that he is more likely than not going to be the nominee.

In fact, some are saying it's over. Sahil Kapur of Bloomberg reported that Scott Reed, Bob Dole's 1996 presidential campaign manager and current political strategist for the Chamber of Commerce said, "Trump is now the inevitable GOP nominee." Trump himself told the press at his "victory press conference" that he considers himself the "presumptive nominee."

He's probably right. But it's not a shoo-in. This group of states was always very favorable ground for him as those pre-election polls showed. He's been very successful at winning in the east. But the remaining states are west of there and it is still possible that he could be stopped, if every card falls exactly the right way. According to CNN's John King, Trump started the night needing 58% of the remaining delegates and after his wins this week, he will need 50% of all the delegates going forward to win the nomination. That's not impossible, of course. But if Ted Cruz were to eke out a Wisconsin-like win in winner-take-all Indiana, it would make California the last stand, a state with a complicated delegate process where Trump could come up short and go into the convention without the necessary 1237. (And they could still change the rules if they want to, which would probably turn the process completely upside down.)

So it's not actually over and the next seven days are the most crucial of the GOP race. Indiana is really the last chance to stop Trump. Unfortunately, it's dependent on people understanding the logic behind the Cruz-Kasich pact and that isn't easy, mostly because Kasich is being cagey about it and people are naturally confused. According to Tony Dokupil of MSNBC, who spoke with Jim Brainard, Kasich's own Indiana co-chair, nobody really knows what to say to the voters. After the announcement of the pact, he had been telling people to vote for Cruz. Then Kasich was on TV saying people should vote for him if they wanted to and he had to back away. It's a mess, probably because of Kasich's ego which seems to make him unwilling to really get with the program. In interviews he hedges on what he's doing and so far has refused to admit that people have to vote for Cruz in order to stop Trump.

It's hard to imagine that any of this will work, but one more week and we'll know for sure. We do know a number of very disturbing things about Republican voters, however. Up until now, Trump, for a variety of reasons, has been kept below 50%. And one is tempted to assume that his recent success is a result of anger at the #neverTrump movement or the idea of the establishment putting its thumbs on the scale. But the exit polls last night showed that most Trump voters had decided to vote for him more than a month ago. They really like him. And more and more are liking him every day.

What this means is that a majority of Republicans apparently either like or don't care that he thinks Mexicans are rapists and criminals. They are fine with someone as president who wants to torture terrorist suspects and kill their innocent children. They have no problem with someone who wants to use summary execution against accused deserters. It's not a deal breaker to vote for someone who has a long history of sexism and misogyny to lead the country. They don't find it completely unacceptable that he has no respect for prisoners of war, saying he "prefers" people who don't let the enemy catch them. They are apparently not alarmed by the fact that he promises to change the libel laws so the press cannot freely write about him. They cheer when he eggs on violence at his rallies and don't think his offering to pay the legal fees of someone who hit a protesters is a problem. They see nothing wrong in his pledge to kill oil truck drivers and seize oil wells in foreign countries. Sending Syrian refugees that have been properly vetted and are living in the country back to a war zone to be killed is fine with them. Reviving the 1950s plan called "Operation Wetback" to round up and deport millions of people doesn't bother them either. Building a huge wall along our southern border sounds like a reasonable plan to them. These, and more, are all "politically incorrect" ideas that many GOP voters are happy to endorse.

They also apparently have no objections to voting for a man who lies as easily as he breathes and has demonstrated over and over again that he is completely unprepared for the job of president, has no idea what it entails entails and has the knowledge of world affairs and domestic policy of an average 16 year old boy, along with the adolescent temperament. He has shown not one bit of desire to learn about anything but his poll numbers and what TV pundits are saying about him.He is a proto-fascist demagogue who doesn't even know what those words mean.And that's a-ok with all those people who are voting for him.

There are some Republicans who understand that their party is putting the nation and the world at risk but so far they are impotent to stop him. Too many of their voters love what they're hearing. Just ask them and they'll tell you "he says what I'm thinking."

Trump promises that soon he'll be so presidential we'll all be bored and begging him to entertain us again. His campaign manager says it's all an act. I don't believe it but it doesn't really matter one way or the other. What's really dangerous about Trump isn't the man himself, it's that millions of people in this country think just like him --- and their numbers are growing.

He came in like a wrecking ball

by digby

Before the speech this morning:

Andrea Mitchell: As we await the arrival of Donald Trump I think the foreign policy analysis of those of us who cover foreign policy may not be relevant to the way voters are responding to this man.

Richard Engel: Well, I was just listening to what Katy was saying and frankly, it's very disturbing. If they think that a wrecking ball can come in with the power of the United States military the United States government, its diplomatic power its moral power and not make a difference, that one man can not change the course of history then they frankly don't know the course of history. If you look at just what has happened over the last hundred years one person, hyper empowered with a fanatical support base has always been something that we need to be cautious about. So her idea that the people just want radical change we've heard that before, it hasn't gone well.

Katy Tur said she hears people say over and over again on the trail that they have seen him on the Apprentice and they trust that he will be able to do the job and they don't need to know the details.


Thank you for not asking

by Tom Sullivan

This should come as no surprise:

Internet traffic to Wikipedia pages summarizing knowledge about terror groups and their tools plunged nearly 30 percent after revelations of widespread Web monitoring by the U.S. National Security Agency, suggesting that concerns about government snooping are hurting the ordinary pursuit of information.

A forthcoming paper in the Berkeley Technology Law Journal analyzes the fall in traffic, arguing that it provides the most direct evidence to date of a so-called “chilling effect,” or negative impact on legal conduct, from the intelligence practices disclosed by fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Author Jonathon Penney, a fellow at the University of Toronto’s interdisciplinary Citizen Lab, examined monthly views of Wikipedia articles on 48 topics identified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as subjects that they track on social media, including Al Qaeda, dirty bombs and jihad.
The study should support the American Civil Liberties Union filed against the National Security Agency last year:
At issue is the NSA's “upstream” surveillance, through which the U.S. government monitors almost all international – and many domestic – text-based communications. The ACLU’s lawsuit, filed in March 2015 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, is brought on behalf of nearly a dozen educational, legal, human rights, and media organizations that collectively engage in hundreds of billions of sensitive Internet communications and have been harmed by NSA surveillance. The district court dismissed the case in October 2015, and we have appealed to the Fourth Circuit.
The ACLU lawsuit was filed on behalf of Wikimedia Foundation, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International USA, the PEN American Center, the Global Fund for Women, The Nation magazine, the Rutherford Institute, and the Washington Office on Latin America. That list is available on Wikipedia, should you dare look.

Of course, if the ACLU really wants the government to listen on protecting citizens' privacy, it should advise Wayne LaPierre that the NSA could soon be hacking Air Force drones to peep down into NRA members' gun safes and count their AR-15s. Watch Congress ask how high to jump.

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