Monday, October 23, 2017

THOSE NICE HEARTLANDERS IN DINERS ARE TOTALLY COOL WITH TRUMP ATTACKING MIYESHIA JOHNSON

Myeshia Johnson spoke to George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America today and didn't seem angry. She just seemed to be in pain:
Nineteen days after her husband’s death and two days after his wrenching burial, the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson said she has “nothing to say” to President Trump, whose condolence call pulled the grieving widow into the center of a national controversy.

“Very upset and hurt; it made me cry even worse,” Myeshia Johnson told “Good Morning America” about her conversation with the president.
When I watch the interview, I certainly don't see an angry woman with an agenda. She's just grieving, and understandably upset -- she doesn't know why it took two days recover her husband's body, she doesn't know why she wasn't allowed to see the body -- and her recollection of the call by President Trump has the ring of plain truth:



GS: The president...

MJ: Yes the President, said that he knew what he signed up for, but it hurts anyway. And it made me cry cause I was very angry at the tone of his voice and how he said he couldn’t remember my husband’s name. The only way he remembered my husband's name is because he told me he had my husband’s report in front of him and that’s when he actually said La David. I heard him stumblin' on trying to remember my husband’s name and that’s what hurt me the most, because if my husband is out here fighting for our country and he risked his life for our country why can’t you remember his name. And that’s what made me upset and cry even more because my husband was an awesome soldier. He did what it take other people like five years to do in three years. So imagine if my husband was here now. It took my husband three years to make E-5 -- it takes other soldiers five to six years just to make E-5. So if he was here now he woulda been on his way to bein' the E-6 or E-7. My husband had high hopes in the military career.

GS: What did you say to the President? MJ: I didn’t say anything I just listened

GS: But you were upset when you got off the phone?

MJ: Oh very, very upset and hurt. Very it made me cry even worse.
And yet Trump thinks he's winning. Some journalists have noted that, which led to this bit of press criticism:



I disagree with the criticism. This is a story -- but the focus of the story should be on the part of America where Trump's attack on a Gold Star wife is actually playing well. Why is it playing well?

There are one-word answers to that. Racism. Sexism. (Charles Blow touches on both in this New York Times column.) But what are the specifics? What do Trump voters -- our neighbors -- think when they watch something like this take place? What do they say to one another?

Reporters file endless stories about older white voters in heartland diners who say partisan but more or less civil things about Trump. The message is that they're decent people who happen to be passionate conservatives or populists or what-have-you. But go into a Breitbart comments section or a Free Republic thread or some other conservative gathering place and you see the Trump message when it's not dressed up for company.

In this Free Republic thread, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson is the principal villain, but not the only one. Because she likes cowboy hats, she's called a "rodeo clown." Because an organization she heads set up a Gofundme page for Sergeant Johnson's two small kids (and one on the way), she's dismissed a gold digger. But Mrs. Johnson and her family aren't spared. And there are other ugly responses.

Here are some comments from the thread:
“Whatever Ms. Wilson said was not fabricated, what she said was 100 percent correct,” said Johnson.

“Why would we fabricate something like that?” she later added.

https://www.gofundme.com/sgt-la-david-johnson-scholarship

****

Wow. Nearly $700,000.00 on the Go Fund Me page. This whole spectacle is bringing in loads of cash, unlike other Gold Star wives.

****

Money, money, money!!!!!!!!!

****

Why indeed? Why did you just happen to have the rodeo clown riding with you?

The husband made the sacrifice, and yes he knew the risks.

The family and the rodeo clown are engaging in an old democrat and muslim tradition of parading the corpse for political gain.

****

So you make a fortune purely by fighting with Trump over your dead husband. And some of us understand that what we are observing here is pure racist and political hatred.

****

I watched the interview with the widow. It is telling that she stated that she said nothing back to the president...as in he called, he made his condolence statement, and there was no feedback.

Sounds like it was a very awkward call...Trump made a call to a widow who has strong partisan feelings about him...and after he was done talking, well that was that. Very different from the other call from months ago that has been made public.

As far as remembering the name goes...there is no way Trump makes this call without a sheet of paper in front of him, with the highlights of the soldier's life, with his name right on top.

Sadly, this woman comes across as a combination of shell shocked and coached...and its really just sad.
(Let me interrupt here to say that you can watch the interview above. You'll notice that Mrs. Johnson doesn't utter a single partisan word.)
Is she related to the famous Trayvon Martin witness?

“No SIR!”

****

She is lying.
Further, she is about to be EXPOSED by lots of people who are going to be digging at her past.

****

Why are the blacks the only ones bitching.
Its like this guy La whats his name was the only one in Niger.

****

..."shoulda picked our own cotton..." Keeps running through my mind....

****

Left unsaid is that both Mrs. Johnson and empty-barrel Congressperson Wilson had to be stupid not to understand the context of what the president said. The proof is that they took his compliment of the soldier’s bravery as insensitivity; that is, if they’re being truthful.

****

This is why the media has to be taken on, on a daily basis. 9.9 out of 10 gold star families say Trump has been respectful and kind. But the media always finds one victim and uses them by portraying them as a majority. They have the megaphone to do this. Anyone remember the MSM trying to pimp the “Jersey Girls” as speaking for all 9/11 families in an effort to destroy Bush?

Despite other families releasing audio or coming forward to say Trump was gracious, the media ignores it. They got to this woman. Right now they are trying to get to the other three as well. And the cynicism is staggering. The media hates the military and privately celebrates each and every death as an opportunity to do what they are doing now.

Heaped on top of this all is the effort to destroy a four star marine general while insulating that rodeo clown from all criticism under an umbrella of racism. I would be angry but for the fact that rodeo clown has become the face of the democrat party. If that is the face they want, then have at it.

This is absolutely disgusting at this point. I say again the media must be destroyed and it must be made personal. Bannon should add the MSM to his list and get to them. He should make public every aspect of their lives. Where their children go to school, what they eat, drive and where they live. Make them pay the way they make anyone who disagrees with them pay.

I would say make John McCain pay as well but fate has intervened.

****

What kind of a creep who is a recent widow would bring in a dimwitted Congresswoman to eaves drop on a “personal” conversation with our President?

This woman is dripping with fury NOT at the Communist Maobama who sent her there, but at TRUMP! Sick stuff, just like at the Wellstone funeral.

****

Frederica Wilson is also a particularly nasty race hustler. Read her Trayvon Martin speech. If you know the facts of the Martin case [you being a full bore Leftist, that’s doubtful] you will notice the degree to which Wilson misrepresented the case in order to stoke racial hatred.

****

I also think that if he used the phrase “he knew what he signed up for...” or some version of that, she was too ignorant to understand the context. Anyone who has spoken to an ignorant person of color has had this experience. One can never underestimate the thin skin of dumb people!
Everyone who criticizes Trump is evil -- and is part of a hydra-headed conspiracy of evil. It's the family and the congresswoman and black people in general (you know how stupid they can be) and the media and Muslims and Trayvon Martin's family and even John McCain.

These are grievance collectors who are able to do one-stop shopping for new grievances (and the airing of old ones) every day on talk radio or Fox. Their hatred for everyone who's not on their side is so great that it's all but impossible to share a political system with them anymore. That's the story that needs reporting.

THE ART OF BLOWING UP DEALS

Headline on the front page of washingtonpost.com this morning:



Really? Ya think?

The story reveals that legislators' now-keen grasp of the obvious still overlooks a few self-evident facts:
... senators said the president shares responsibility for this year’s turbulence and gridlock, observing that the glacial pace of writing and passing laws, complicated by fits and starts, has been a culture shock for Trump.

“He’s a guy who, you know, comes from the business world and he’s in a hurry to get things done,” Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune (S.D.) said. “Around here, that’s hard. You know, things take a while. So it’s a process — and sometimes, kind of a slow and painful one.”
No, it can take a long time to make a business deal, too. That may be one reason Trump has spent many years of his business career failing or trying to recover from failure.

Trump is impatient and distractible:
The president’s propensity to create diversions and follow tangents has kept him from focusing on his legislative agenda and forced lawmakers who might be natural allies on key policies into the uncomfortable position of having to answer for his behavior and outbursts.

For instance, Trump’s news conference last Monday with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), which was orchestrated to project GOP unity on taxes, instead gave birth to the self-inflicted controversy over Trump’s treatment of fallen soldiers, which set the White House on the defensive and dominated the national media for seven days.
Yup, and Trump also couldn't resist going after NFL national anthem protesters in a speech that was supposed to be about Alabama senator Luther Strange's primary campaign -- and then obsessing over the anthem issue as primary day approached, dominating the news cycle. Why does he do that? Well, it's obvious: The election was days away! Legislation takes days ... weeks ... months! Trump needs immediate gratification.

You have to remember that Trump came back from bankruptcy not because he's a great businessman, but because he's a talented self-promoter. In his comeback, he wasn't buying and selling real estate in an effective way. He was selling himself -- branding buildings he didn't build, licensing his name for steaks and ties, playing himself on TV. So of course he thinks winning headlines is more important than getting work done.

Some in Washington still think Trump is hard to work with because he doesn't really have a political ideology:
Trump’s lack of ideological roots makes him an unusual figure in Washington, where most lawmakers adhere rigidly to their party’s agendas. Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) said Trump “feels much more comfortable working and talking in a bipartisan manner than he does trying to defend a partisan side.”

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), who met with Trump and lawmakers at the White House this past week, agreed. “I think the Democrats are crazy to not try and deal with him directly,” he said. “Seven years ago, he was a Democrat. It doesn’t take any brains to realize that he’d be open.”
A Trump critic from outside Washington agrees:
Tony Schwartz, a longtime student and now critic of Trump who co-wrote the mogul’s 1987 bestseller “The Art of the Deal” ... said playing to Trump’s ego ... is an effective way to manage him. His advice to those seeking to make deals with Trump: Find the most persuasive way to portray one’s agenda as a personal victory for the president, and be the last person to talk to him.

“Trump is motivated by the same concern in all situations, which is to dominate and to be perceived as having won,” Schwartz said. “That supersedes everything, including ideology.”
But if you're a Democrat, you'll never be the last person to talk to Trump. A Democrat might have been the previous person who chatted Trump up, which must occasionally be frustrating for Republicans trying to get legislation passed, but the last person to talk to Trump will inevitably be someone on the right.

However, it might be someone on the right who's even more extreme than most congressional Republicans -- Stephen Miller, say, or Steve Bannon, who we know still talks to Trump regularly. It could be the hosts of Fox & Friends, who provide Trump's daily briefing through his TV set every morning. Or it could be Sean Hannity: According to Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman, "Trump calls him almost every night after Hannity’s prime-time show just to give him feedback and bat around ideas and gripe...."

The problem for legislators is that many of these people would rather have Trump creating chaos than signing legislation. Chaos is their stock in trade. They thrive on controversies in which they can portray Trump as the hero and liberals -- or "RINO" Republicans like (these days) Mitch McConnell -- as villains. It isn't just Trump advisers from Fox who'd rather have a controversy brewing than get a bill passed -- Stephen Miller might feel that way too. And we know Bannon does.

That jibes perfectly with Trump's keep-your-name-in-the-papers life strategy. So he's always going to be useless if you want to get a bill through Congress.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

MAYBE GABRIEL SHERMAN AND THE NEW YORK TIMES DID FOX NEWS A FAVOR

The New York Times now reports thatin January of this year, Bill O'Reilly paid an astonishing $32 million to settle sexual harassment allegations by Lis Wiehl, a longtime Fox contributor. Fox executives learned of the settlement, shrugged, and a month later renewed O'Reilly's contract anyway, giving him a raise of nearly 40%, from approximately $18 million to $25 million.

Then, in April, O'Reilly was let go:
But by April, the Murdochs decided to jettison Mr. O’Reilly as some of the settlements became public and posed a significant threat to their business empire.

Early that month, The Times reported on five settlements involving Mr. O’Reilly, leading advertisers to boycott his show and spawning protests calling for his ouster. About the same time, the O’Reilly settlements arose as an issue in 21st Century Fox’s attempt to buy the European satellite company Sky.
The five settlements reported by the Times in April didn't include the one in the case of Wiehl.

Last year, Fox chief Roger Ailes was also forced to resign after he was sued by former Fox anchorwoman Gretchen Carlson, and after reports by Gabriel Sherman and others revealed that Ailes was a serial sexual harasser.

All this has been terrible for Fox. Or has it?

Slate's Isaac Chotiner recently talked to Sherman about Fox and other subjects. Chotiner made the point that the loss of Ailes and O'Reilly, along with the defection of onetime Fox star Megyn Kelly, seemed to have damaged Fox, but now appears to have done very little harm. Sherman concedes the point:
One of the points of your book is that Ailes was a brilliant showman and made great hires, including people like Bill O’Reilly, who people may find distasteful but are incredible television personalities and talents. Now you see people like Tucker Carlson, who has failed at basically every TV show he’s ever had until now and who I do not think is a particularly skilled broadcaster. You see their 9 p.m. hour, which has been a mess, and they can’t quite figure out what to do with it, and they’re still getting great ratings. Ailes obviously was a television genius, but it also seems like we’re at this point with the right-wing audience in America—not to sound condescending—where you can put anything on the air and you will get extremely good ratings. It almost reminds me of the fact that the Republican president can do anything he wants and still have a 35 percent approval rating.

... These are people whose habits are set, and they come home or they sit at home—a lot of these people are shut-ins—and they click on Fox in the morning and they just keep it on all day. It doesn’t really matter the content of the programming, except it has to remain reliably conservative and somewhat conspiratorial.

At this point the audience is baked in, and it’s a very stable audience.
So Fox is now rid of Ailes, rid of O'Reilly, and rid of other on- and off-air figures accused of either engaging in sexual harassment or abetting it -- and the ratings are still fine. It's true that MSNBC topped Fox in the ratings briefly this spring, but Fox is back on top, and with a few prime-time hosts who are much less pricey than O'Reilly. And it's also true that Fox's audience skews old -- but MSNBC's audience isn't much younger.

Even though Fox poisons America's political discourse every day, and bamboozles the president of the United States with lies and half-truths, it now gets to boast that it's cleaned house at a corporate level, and it can even do some virtue signaling, as in this Variety article, a couple of paragraphs of which read as if they could have been written by a Fox publicist:
In the U.S., Fox News Channel, widely regarded as the economic engine of its parent, is about to unveil a new programming lineup that depends more heavily on female anchors. On October 30, Fox News is slated to launch new programs anchored by popular conservative radio host Laura Ingraham at 10 p.m,. and by Fox News Supreme Court reporter Shannon Bream at 11 p.m. – a new foray into late night after years of running a repeat of its 8 p.m. hour at that time. Fox News has already given new hours in daytime to Harris Faulkner and Dana Perino, while adding Sandra Smith to an hour co-anchored by Bill Hemmer....

21st Century Fox has reworked the Fox News executive suite, giving female executives oversight of programming, advertising sales and financial operations. The woman who served as Fox’s corporate counsel during Ailes’ command, Dianne Brandi, has taken a voluntary leave from the company, and no details have been released about when she might return. 21st Century Fox has ousted executives in other units who were accused of harassment: The company parted ways with a key staffer at Fox Sports, Jamie Horowitz, after allegations about his behavior surfaced.
The new Times story is another embarrassment for the Murdoch family, one that makes the family's bid to take over the telecommunications company Sky even more difficult than it's been. The bad news may be what causes this takeover bid to be rejected by British regulators.

But eventually we'll have seen the last of the stories about sexual harassment in the bad old Ailes/O'Reilly days, and Fox News will still be on its feet, able to claim that it's run in a professional way, and topping the ratings with TV mediocrities earning midrange salaries. So, in a way, it's all good for Fox News.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

BANNON BEATS HIS CHEST AGAIN, AND A MINUTEMAN ANSWERS HIS CALL

Using some more of Robert and Rebekah Mercer's money, Steve Bannon extends his "Pay Attention to Me!" U.S. tour:
Anaheim, California (CNN) Steve Bannon delivered a withering attack on George W. Bush Friday night....

"There has not been a more destructive presidency than George Bush's," Bannon said during his dinnertime address at the convention banquet of the California Republican Party.
Really? That's the conventional wisdom among the Bannon/Mercer Republicans? That Bush's presidency was more destructive than Obummer's or Klintooon's? That's going to require a significant rewrite of the official wingnut histories if it catches on.

More:
... Bannon ... [said] Bush “didn’t understand anything he was talking about” in a speech the day before that was widely seen as a rebuke of Donald Trump’s presidency.

“He embarrassed himself,” Bannon said in a dinnertime address at the convention banquet of the California Republican Party. “The speechwriter wrote a highfalutin speech. It’s clear he didn’t understand anything he was talking about. ... He has no earthly idea whether he’s coming or going, just like it was when he was president of the United States.”
Dude, you used to work for Donald Trump.

Bannon also attacked big business, including the tech industry:
... Bannon railed Friday against dangerous “global elites” and the Silicon Valley “lords of technology” whom he said are robbing U.S. citizens of jobs, wealth and opportunity.

“They want all the benefits of a free society...all the benefits of this rules-based international order,” including lucrative trade deals and capital markets, he said, while “we the citizens of the United States...underwrite the whole thing.”
Yup, Steve, and the president you claim to support is endorsing that approach with every tax proposal.

Answering Bannon's call (although Bannon has yet to endorse him) is this guy:
... Tim Donnelly, a former state assemblyman and co-founder of the Minutemen ... last week became the first California candidate to seize on Bannon’s call for “war,” and launched a challenge against GOP Rep. Paul Cook, charging that he alone will “have President Trump’s back” on key issues. Donnelly met with Bannon prior to the speech -- but the Breitbart executive has yet to endorse any candidates in California races.
Donnelly was a Minuteman a decade ago, in the years before he entered politics. He was given to making apocalyptic statements about the dangers of undocumented immigrants:
He posted this on a conservative website:

"The facts are incontrovertible that allowing an illegal invasion of the United States will destroy the American Southwest, and very probably wipe out the freedoms we American Christians enjoy, as Muslim Extremists blend in with the so-called 'innocent' illegal aliens, and eventually proselytize them. It is not a stretch to picture a revolt in Los Angeles, whose population is comprised of over 50 percent illegal aliens. At the rate of influx and births, it will be 80 percent illegal alien within a decade. ... None of this bodes well for the citizens who live in Southern California now, nor will it improve the life of the poor alien, but it is well on its way to wiping out everything that was once good in Southern California."
He would go to the border heavily armed:
Tim Donnelly took two handguns on his first tour with the Minutemen, back in '05. His Colt .45 was photogenic, like that of an Old West gunslinger. But before heading to the Mexico border, Donnelly took it to the range and couldn't hit the target. So he bought a Model 1911c — a semiautomatic that would shoot straight, if it came to that.
But he wasn't particularly effective. Here's a Colbert Report segment in which he and some allies string a whopping 400 yards of low fence across the Mexican border. Donnelly boasts that the fencing will make a significant difference, while a colleague acknowledges that it's an exercise in futility.


But he could talk tough. He joined up with the Tea Party, ran for the California State Assembly, and said things like this:
"I am going there to reach across the aisle to the enemies of freedom and annihilate them and pound them into the ground and take back our power. . . . We don't stop until Americans are back in power."
He served two terms in the Assembly, becoming known mostly for angry rhetoric:
Legislators want to "kneel and worship the environment," he says. A Sacramento newspaper is "one of the most Communist papers on the face of the earth." Cap-and-trade programs intended to reduce pollution will allow liberal financier George Soros to "play poker with our jobs" by gaming the market.
He was caught carrying a loaded handgun through airport security, for which he received three years' probation and a fine. I'm sure that impressed his voters.

Oh, and he tried and failed to overturn California's mandatory vaccine law. (He promises to fight mandatory vaccination if elected to Congress.)

Donnelly stepped down from his Assembly seat to run for governor in 2014 and finished third in the non-partisan primary, well behind incumbent Jerry Brown, but only 200,000 votes short of the other candidate to make the runoff, Republican Neel Kashkari. Donnelly won 643,236 votes. In 2016, he came less than 1,500 votes short of making the runoff in a race to unseat Paul Cook, the congressman he's running against now.

Donnelly says he will "have President Trump's back" if elected, implying that Cook doesn't. In fact, according to FiveThirtyEight, Cook has voted with Trump 97.9% of the time, parting ways with him only to back Russia sanctions.

But Bannonism and Donnellyism have a lot in common. Here's a moment from Bannon's speech:
... Bannon’s attacks on establishment politicians were generally well received. When he mentioned Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain — the former POW whose name was met with boos — someone in the audience yelled, “Hang him!”
And here's a recent Donnelly tweet:



Seems like a match made in heaven.

Friday, October 20, 2017

I'M NOT WORRIED ABOUT A MILITARY COUP, WHICH DOESN'T MEAN I'M NOT WORRIED

Writing for The New Yorker, Masha Gessen argues that the events of this week are a taste of military dictatorship:
Consider this nightmare scenario: a military coup. You don’t have to strain your imagination—all you have to do is watch Thursday’s White House press briefing, in which the chief of staff, John Kelly, defended President Trump’s phone call to a military widow, Myeshia Johnson. The press briefing could serve as a preview of what a military coup in this country would look like....
Among other things, White House chief of staff John Kelly argued that soldiers are better Americans than civilians, and dead soldiers are the best of all:
... when Kelly described his own distress after hearing the criticism of Trump’s phone call, the general said that he had gone to “walk among the finest men and women on this earth. And you can always find them because they’re in Arlington National Cemetery.” So, by “the best” Americans, Kelly had meant dead Americans—specifically, fallen soldiers.

... It is in totalitarian societies, which demand complete mobilization, that dying for one’s country becomes the ultimate badge of honor. Growing up in the Soviet Union, I learned the names of ordinary soldiers who threw their bodies onto enemy tanks, becoming literal cannon fodder. All of us children had to aspire to the feat of martyrdom.

... At the end of the briefing, [Kelly] said that he would take questions only from those members of the press who had a personal connection to a fallen soldier, followed by those who knew a Gold Star family.... he was now explicitly denying a majority of Americans—or the journalists representing them—the right to ask questions. This was a new twist on the Trump Administration’s technique of shunning and shaming unfriendly members of the news media, except this time, it was framed explicitly in terms of national loyalty.
Does this mean a coup is imminent? I don't think so. We have moments like this every time a Republican is president -- we're told that the troops are better than civilians, that criticizing a Republican war means attacking those ordered to fight it, and that celebrity military men are not to be questioned. The latter include Oliver North in the Reagan presidency, Norman Schwarzkopf in the first Bush presidency, and Colin Powell under both Bushes. ("The troops" had a sort of collective celebrity at times in both Bush presidencies.) All of this put a chill some dissent, but we never reached full-blown fascism, even when the military superstars and the presidents they served had stratospheric approval ratings.

The reason, of course, was that Reagan and the Bushes may have wanted to silence critics, but they didn't have the will to stifle dissent and subvert democracy altogether. I still believe that Trump doesn't either -- he wants to get away with whatever he wants to do, but he doesn't have a well-thought-out idea of how a totalitarian state would function on his watch. He hasn't had the nerve to shut down any news organizations, to order any journalists killed, or even to defy any court orders curbing his powers. He hasn't tried to disband Congress. He's nodded and winked at white nationalists who engage in violence, but he hasn't signaled to them that they're free to commit acts of violence on his behalf without fear of penalty. Someone who came to power the way he did, with the rhetoric he used and the following he amassed, could have built a dictatorship out of it. But he just doesn't have the right stuff.

And a military dictatorship? Trump is too much of a narcissist to tolerate that. "The generals" are there to be servile toward him; Kelly's self-righteous superpatriotism yesterday was all in Trump's service. If there were a Trump dictatorship, it would be center on the God Emperor himself -- the generals would have to be subordinate.

We'll survive the John Kelly moment. Whether we survive the Trump presidency is another matter -- but the damage Trump does will continue to be like what we've seen: institutions left standing but damaged, competence replaced with impulse, self-aggrandizement as the organizing principle. It'll be a mess, but the generals won't take over.

FOX REGRETS THE ERROR, SORT OF

This morning I spotted this on the front page of FoxNews.com:



So it's true? Trans people will sneak into public restrooms and assault your daughters?

No:
A transgender Wyoming woman was convicted Thursday of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl inside a bathroom.

Michelle Martinez, who was known as Miguel Martinez before identifying as female, was found guilty of first-degree and second-degree sexual abuse of a minor and could face up to 70 years in prison.

The Billings Gazette reports Martinez, who is a family friend, invited the girl into the bathroom of a home on March 23, and touched her breasts and genitalia before penetrating her. The girl told her mother immediately after the assault, who then reported it to Casper Police.
This took place in a private home, not in a public facility. But the original Fox story, posted yesterday afternoon, didn't say that. It said:



In fact, it was known that the assault took place in a private home. Here's a story from a local radio station that ran three days ago, when the trial was still taking place:
The girl told the jurors, District Attorney Mike Blonigen and Judge Catherine Wilking she came home from school on March 23 while her mother was cooking and several friends were at her mother's and step-dad's residence.

She went upstairs to get a book, went into the bathroom and closed but did not lock the door. She was pulling up her pants when Martinez came in without knocking....
I guess I'm pleasantly surprised that Fox corrected the story at all. Still, there's no note attached to the story acknowledging the edit.

And the original version of the story has shown up at a number of message boards -- at Cafe Mom (under the headline "Yep, they said this wouldn't happen....."), at 4chan, at the gun boards Glock Talk and SIGforum.

Oops.

A DISHONORABLE MAN POSING AS AMERICA'S MOST HONORABLE MAN (updated)

It doesn't surprise me that White House chief of staff John Kelly got his facts wrong yesterday:
... the retired general ... criticized Democratic U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson for claiming “she got the money” for [a] new [FBI] building during the 2015 ceremony while he and others in the audience were focused on the heroism of agents Benjamin Grogan and Jerry Dove, killed during a 1986 shootout with bank robbers south of Miami....

“A congresswoman stood up, and in a long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there in all of that and talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building, and how she took care of her constituents because she got the money, and she just called up President Obama, and on that phone call, he gave the money, the $20 million, to build the building, and she sat down,” Kelly told reporters....

The General Services Administration had already bid out a $144 million construction contract for the project in September 2010, just a few months before Wilson won her congressional seat. The bidding for federal projects takes place after Congress has secured the funding.

“That is crazy that I got [the money] and Mr. Obama just gave it to me,” Wilson said. “That building was funded long before I got to Congress. I didn’t say that. I have staff, people who write the speeches. You can’t say that.”
What she did was get legislation through a GOP Congress naming the building after the slain FBI agents, for which she won praise from Republicans and then-FBI director James Comey. That's according to the Miami Herald, which tells us that Kelly also got the cost of the building wrong -- it was $194 million, not $20 million. And in a speech about how we honor slain heroes, Kelly incorrectly identified one the FBI agents after whom the building was named:
I’ll end with this: In October — April, rather, of 2015, I was still on active duty, and I went to the dedication of the new FBI field office in Miami. And it was dedicated to two men who were killed in a firefight in Miami against drug traffickers in 1986 — a guy by the name of Grogan and Duke. Grogan almost retired, 53 years old; Duke, I think less than a year on the job. (Editor’s note: The F.B.I. agent for which the building is named was named Jerry L. Dove, not Duke.)
Kelly also slandered Wilson by portraying her as a dishonorable person who listened in on what should have been a private phone call. Not only did La David Johnson's family members invite Wilson to listen by putting the call on speaker, they probably did so because she and the family have known one another for years:
Perhaps Kelly, who also listened to the call, would be less stunned if he realized that Wilson's primary identity to the Johnson family isn't as a member of Congress. The Johnsons have known Wilson for decades — most of those years before the former educator moved to Washington to join Congress....

The deceased soldier was an alumnus of the 5,000 Role Models of Excellence Project, a mentoring program Wilson started for youths pursuing military careers among other fields. So were his brothers. One received a full scholarship to Bethune Cookman College and the other is training to become a firefighter.

Wilson's connection to the family goes back at least one generation. She told CNN that she was the principal of a school that Johnson's father attended.

These relationships were part of why Wilson was with the family — not just because she was “a member of Congress.”
There's more about Wilson's mentoring and service to her community here -- and yes, since your right-wing uncle will ask, she has spoken out against "hoodlums" responsible for gun violence in the community.

But John Kelly is a dishonorable man posing as America's most honorable man. He has a lot of people fooled, and not just on the right. Here's Axios's Mike Allen:
Sexual abuse in Hollywood. Social media abuse in Silicon Valley. Political abuse in the White House. Dive into Twitter for a few minutes, and these can feel like the worst of times. So everyone, and the GOP establishment in particular, seems hungry for moral clarity.

White House aides, beaten down by criticism from friends and beleaguered by the words and actions of the boss, got a rare moral boost from Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly as he offered a highly emotional and highly personal explanation/defense of Trump's outreach to families who lost young men in Niger....

"Kelly has managed to make himself the moral core of the Trump administration," a top White House official told us. "He just has so much credibility right now ... And he's in the best possible position, because he doesn't have to go out there and face the press every day. If he picks his spots he is now an extraordinarily credible and effective spokesperson on issues that need some moral clarity to them."
But as Josh Marshall notes, that "moral clarity" is just Trumpism with a little less buffoonery. Yesterday Kelly said:
It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation. Absolutely stuns me. And I thought at least that was sacred. You know, when I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country. Women were sacred, looked upon with great honor. That’s obviously not the case anymore as we see from recent cases. Life — the dignity of life — is sacred. That’s gone. Religion, that seems to be gone as well.
Marshall writes:
The ideological and rhetorical spine of his remarks was a paean to MAGA. The old days were good. We had real religion. Things were right with women. There was no abortion. Honor was sacred and respected. Now it’s all crap because of people like Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D), a showboater from Florida who transgressed our last sacred space....

Attacks on President Trump are attacks on the sanctity of heroism and patriotic sacrifice itself. Again, attacking President Trump is attacking the troops. It’s the same maneuver driving Trump’s war on the NFL. Kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism and police misconduct really isn’t about police brutality or racism it all. It’s spitting on the sacrifice of American soldiers.
The last person in Washington to use military service as a cudgel this way was another dishonorable man, Oliver North -- who, naturally, was on Fox last night attacking Wilson.

Do I honor Kelly's military service? Yes -- but he dishonors it, by using it to divide America.

****

UPDATE: Florida's Sun-Sentinel has now posted a video of Wilson's speech. I can't embed it, but you can watch it here. No, she did not boast that she obtained the money for the building. She did begin by declaring her satisfaction with how quickly she'd managed to obtain congressional approval to name the building after the two slain FBI officers -- but she shared the credit with others in Congress including Republicans John Boehner, Marco Rubio, and Carlos Curbelo. Note that her point was that the FBI agents deserved the honor. She went on to praise law enforcement, asking all law enforcement officers to stand, and then she devoted the bulk of the speech to recounting the incident in which the men died, praising them for their sacrifice. And, conservatives, please note that she ended with words for which I would have thought you'd want her to praise her:
God bless you, God bless the FBI, and God bless America.
I'll say it again: John Kelly is a dishonorable man.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

THE FIGHT AGAINST TRUMPISM: SHOTS ACROSS THE BOW AREN'T GOING TO GET THE JOB DONE

Well, this is nice, as far as it goes:
Former President George W. Bush offered an unmistakable denunciation of Trumpism Thursday without mentioning the president by name, urging citizens to oppose threats to American democracy.

“Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication,” Bush warned in remarks at the Bush Institute’s Spirit of Liberty event in New York.
More lines from the speech:
“People are hurting. They’re angry and they’re frustrated. We must help them," he said. "But we cannot wish globalization away, any more than we could wish away the Agricultural Revolution or the Industrial Revolution.” ...

“We’ve seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times, it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates into dehumanization," he said. "... We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism, [and] forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America.”
John McCain's recent denunciation of "half-baked, spurious nationalism" was also nice. But these are futile gestures. Maybe a generation or two ago you could have changed minds with appeals to conscience of this kind. Now you have to abandon the abstract nouns and get down in the mud with the man you're attacking. Bob Corker's "adult day care center" talk may be less Ciceronian than the McCain and Bush speeches, but you know it stung in a way that those lofty orations don't. And Corker had the sense to call Trump out by name. That's the only way you'll ever get his attention.

Bush delivered this speech, but his opposition to Trumpism is less than absolute:



Gillespie, of course, is running ads suggesting that his Democratic opponent in the Virginia governor's race is an MS-13 enabler; he's also embraced the cause of retaining Confederate statues. Maybe Bush believes that Gillespie, heretofore a relatively moderate conservative, is now running a red-meat campaign without really being a true believer, just like Bush's dad in 1988, the year of Willie Horton. But as Kurt Vonnegut wrote, we are who we pretend to be.

Oh, and Bush began the speech with a shout-out to, among others, Trump's UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, who was in attendance.

McCain, for his part, is denouncing Trumpism while endorsing the Trump-backed budget bill.

Do you gentlemen really want to distance yourselves from Trumpism, Bannonism, and Mercerism? Then leave the Republican Party. No, seriously: What would the impact be if John McCain, Bob Corker, Jeff Flake, George W. Bush, Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, John Kasich, and a dozen other prominent members of the GOP said they'd had enough and were no longer Republicans because the Republican Party has been infested with anti-American values? Look, I know it's not going to happen, or anything remotely like it. I know that most of these folks will do nothing more than stomp their feet and say "It's my party too!" as white nationalists complete their takeover. But a mass defection would be huge news, and it might be a wake-up call to at least some of the less rabid rank-and-file Republicans, the ones who aren't on board with full-bore Putinism.

But, of course, all of the Republicans I've named were actively complicit as the party drifted to the edge of Trumpism; most did nothing as implicit Trumpism became overt. Yes, Romney gave a swell anti-Trump speech last year, in which he even called out Trump by name -- but then he prostrated himself before Trump in a futile attempt to become secretary of state.

Meanwhile, Breitbart is unintimidated:



Side headline on the Breitbart front page: "...‘BIGOTRY SEEMS EMBOLDENED’: FORMER PREZ TARGETS THE DEPLORABLES..."

You handed the party to these people. You used dog whistles and suppressed non-white votes and cozied up to neo-Confederates, and now the intolerance is overt and you say you're horrified. If you really are, then leave. If not, you're still part of the problem.

MISSISSIPPI SCHOOL IS NAMED FOR OBAMA, AND FOX FANS ARE ABOUT AS PLEASED AS YOU'D EXPECT

At FoxNews.com, the top trending story in the country isn't about the president's interactions with Gold Star families -- it's this:
A Mississippi school is shedding the name of the Confederacy's only president and will instead be named for the first African-American president of the United States.

Davis International Baccalaureate Elementary School in Jackson was named decades ago for Jefferson Davis.

The school with 98 percent African-American enrollment is set to be renamed for Barack Obama in the next academic year, in a move proposed by parents and approved by a majority of students, parents, faculty and staff members.
And although the comments aren't 100% negative -- apparently a few liberals and moderates read the Fox site -- many are just what you'd expect:
Oh good, Barry's school of liberal indoctrination.

****

Let's just call it Chairman Mao High School.

****

Makes sense - it's likely most of them receive gov't benefits because of the disastrous job done by Obama - it literally is the "House Obama Built"

****

e's a major political failure and a Hack. That's what happens when you quota hire a community organizer to lead a country.

****

Who is Barrack Obama? I heard of a Hussein Obama, some muslim that tried to destroy America

****

The school motto "Hands Up Don't Shoot".

****

96% black students--12 black fathers---none involved students lives

****

The biggest tragedy was Lincoln not being able to ship those lazy babboons back to Africa

****

You can bet they'll add a course on Islamic studies.

****

So they're removing Davis' name, because they perceive him as being racist. And renaming the school after someone who is clearly racist.

****

The popular courses in this school are "Maximizing welfare benefits" and "Raising children on your own and still in school"

****

Kapernick High School! Lol

****

One big round black building with lowered ceilings so you're forced to kneel?!

****

I bet KFC will soon be carrying Obamfried chicken.

****

And of course Christianity will be banned and Islam adopted.

****

Their new motto in honor of Obama: "What do we want? Dead cops".

****

Attaboy...gotz to pacify dem porchmonkeys.

****

all part of Common Core which sole purpose is to dummy the kids and create a massive gov't workforce for the Global Governance.....pushed by the Dems of course.

****

The new school, "Obama Elementary" is focusing their curriculum on fake news, lying and deception with emphases on how not to get prosecuted well breaking the law. After completing college at Berkeley or Columbia most students will have an open invitation to work for the Clinton Foundation where that can put these richly developed skills to good use.

****

You left out one >>> How To Stay On Welfare For Life.

****

They can name the school whatever they want. I doubt anyone will be able to read it anyway.
I had no idea that America had so much economic anxiety.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

WAS THE WHITE HOUSE TOO CONSUMED WITH INFIGHTING TO RELEASE A TIMELY STATEMENT ON NIGER?

Politico reports that a statement of condolence was drafted by the Trump administration shortly after four American servicemen were killed in Niger, but the statement was never released:
Staffers at the National Security Council drafted and circulated a statement of condolence for President Donald Trump to make almost immediately after a deadly ambush of U.S. soldiers in Niger earlier this month....

The draft statement, a copy of which was seen by POLITICO on Wednesday, was put together on Oct. 5....

The statement was circulated among NSC officials as well as Defense Department officials. But it was never released, and it was not immediately clear why.
The statement was drafted a day after the incident. So why wasn't it made public?

Was it because top officials of the administration, included the president, were too distracted by infighting?

Recall that it was reported on October 4 that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had called the president a "moron" in a July meeting. The president was livid:
John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, abruptly scrapped plans to travel with President Donald Trump [to Las Vegas] on Wednesday [October 4] so he could try to contain his boss’s fury and manage the fallout from new revelations about tensions between the president and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, according to six senior administration officials.

Kelly summoned Tillerson, and their ally Defense Secretary James Mattis, to the White House, where the three of them huddled to discuss a path forward....

Trump was furious when he saw the NBC News report, which was published shortly before 6 a.m. Wednesday.

For the next two hours the president fumed inside the White House, venting to Kelly, officials said.
By October 6, Axios's Mike Allen was reporting rumors that CIA director Mike Pompeo might replace Tillerson as secretary of state.

You could see how certain members of the administration, particularly the guy at the top, might be too distracted to stop bickering and do their jobs. Would you want to be the underling who had to get the statement approved under these circumstances?

The statement was simple, basic, and in good taste -- I can't imagine who in the administration could have written it:
“Melania and I are heartbroken at the news that three U.S. service members were killed in Niger on October 4 while providing guidance and assistance to Nigerien security force counter-terror operations. We offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of these brave American soldiers and patriots. They will remain in our thoughts and prayers.

"We are also praying for the two U.S. service members who were injured in the incident. We wish them a complete and swift recovery.

"The heroic Americans who lost their lives yesterday did so defending our freedom and fighting violent extremism in Niger. Our administration and our entire nation are deeply grateful for their sacrifice, for their service, and for their patriotism.”
But if it had been released in this form, the statement would have been controversial -- on the right. Note the last paragraph, which says that servicemen died "fighting violent extremism." That's simply not acceptable to true conservatives. Here's a story that appeared at Breitbart on September 11 this year:
On the sixteenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, Islamic terrorist attacks, President Donald Trump did not once mention the terms “radical Islam” or “Islamic terrorism” during a commemoration ceremony at the Pentagon.

Those phrases were also not mentioned in speeches today by other Trump administration senior officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary James Mattis, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Instead of naming the enemy, Trump seemingly went out of his way to use other descriptors in his speech, including “terrorists who attacked us,” “barbaric forces of evil and destruction,” “horrible, horrible enemies,” “enemies of all civilized people,” and “enemies like we’ve never seen before.”
The phrase "fighting violent extremism" is conservatively incorrect. If the statement had been released as written, the Trump White House would never have heard the end of it.

THE FOLKS IN CONGRESSWOMAN WILSON'S FACEBOOK COMMENTS SEEM NICE

A gold star mother is confirming what Congresswoman Frederica Wilson told us yesterday -- that President Trump was disrespectful in a phone call to her daughter-in-law:
The mother of a soldier killed in an ambush in Africa said Wednesday that President Trump “did disrespect my son” with remarks in a condolence telephone call.

Sgt. La David T. Johnson's mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, told The Washington Post that she was present during the call from the White House on Tuesday to Johnson's widow, Myeshia Johnson. Johnson's mother also stood by an account of the call from Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla.) that Trump told Johnson's widow that her husband “must have known what he signed up for.”

“President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband,” Jones-Johnson said.
The president refuses to back down, as usual. Right-wing media figures, also as usual, are taking Trump's side:



And here's Laura Ingraham, from her radio show:
LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): None of us know what happened on that phone call, but I can tell you this, I would love to put [Rep.] Frederica Wilson [(D-FL)] on the stand and I would impeach her credibility in about 30 seconds. She is a virulent Trump hater, and a tea party hater, and a conservative hater. She has every right -- She doesn't agree with President Trump, that's fine. But don't hold her out as some paragon of credibility and an objective observer as to what happened.

[...]

INGRAHAM: How many of you give much credibility to the woman who walks around with a rhinestone cowboy hat that looks like it came from Dolly Parton’s costume closet? She wears like a green one, and it's a -- She’s trying to play [Rep.] Maxine Waters [(D-CA)] for the -- She’s a combo of Maxine Waters and [Rep.] Sheila Jackson Lee [(D-TX)]. She’s very -- I mean, I’m all for colorful dressing, but you dress like you came -- you look like you came out of a carnival. This woman’s a nutbag. ... She's always on a tear about impeachment. So, she wants Trump impeached, and now she's flapping her mouth about what happened in the car.
Yes, it's true: Wilson likes colorful hats. And she has talked about the possibility of Trump's impeachment.

So, no, this is not going to be the moment when the dam bursts and all the Trumpers suddenly say, "He insulted a dead soldier and his family! He's not an honorable man! The scales have fallen from my eyes!"

In fact, Congresswoman Wilson's Facebook page is a sewer right now. A sampling of the comments:
Disgusting piece of shit! Using a dead soldier for propaganda!

****

And "Spewing out" more hate and discontent, No pictures of you even being with her and if he was on speaker phone why didn't you open your mouth instead of just sitting there if you actually were there !

****

I see you are still a complete bigot and have NEVER had the best interests of ALL Americans in mind. I'm sure Mad Maxine Waters is delighted to know you give her competition as the most vile, despicable member of congress. Resign before your words and actions have you expelled from the House.

****

As a US Marine, we all know when we sign up there is a possibility we may be killed. So why is that controversial? Although I don’t believe a damn thing you say.

****

This comment was taken out of context from corrupt United States Representative (a Democrat) "Frederica Wilson" and interrupted into her own opinion. All she mentioned (another PAID “Crooked Hillary Supporter”) was the negative things about President Trump and NOT the good things said by President Trump regarding the telephone conversation between President Trump and the soldier’s widow. We KNOW your game girlfriend or should I say "Demon" ....Frederica Wilson is a TRUE follower of her master SATAN.

****

You need to conserve yourself to the utmost I listened to you on THE VIEW you sounded full of hate you need to close your mouth and listen instead of rattling on and on. ***Mr Trump is not a great speaker but he is a Business man whom knows how to establish what needs to be done and with opinions from Congress and perhaps to our best interest so be still and listen you might learn or accept some of his moves. SO GIVE SOME RESPECT TO OUR PRESIDENT.***Your problem was being close to David and feeling a lot of sorrow but you were making it worse for the wife. First of all forgive yourself for that. This will not help you get votes for your office position term again. He is my President and I am glad I my not like some words he uses or how he says things but I know he is working for AMERICA the beat way he knows how.

****

You are a hypocrite. You are the definition of racist. I live in Florida but I am thankful that you do not represent me or any member of my family. You bring shame to your position.

****

You're stupidest skank in politics. Can't wait to see your dumbass get busted. It's your turn. Cops are right behind you skank.

****

Where you getting all that money for them gaudy outfits? Hmm??

****

You are a disgrace to Florida, the entire country, and a filthy lying 🐖 pig.

****

(my freedom of speech) she's a slimy nigger

****

Stupid rabid evil bitch...god smite you for your repugnant wickedness
No one's mind is going to be changed by this. Positions are just going to harden even more. This is America now.

WHY REPUBLICANS WON'T QUIT TRUMP, EVEN IF THEY GET THEIR TAX CUTS

Matt Latimer, a former George W. Bush speechwriter and a critic of President Trump, tells us at Politico that congressional Republicans won't have any use for Trump if they get the one thing they want from him -- his signature on a tax cut bill:
... the tax cut bill is a trap. If Trump actually does sign it into law, he might as well be signing his political death warrant.

... The reason the tax cut bill is a danger to Trump is that it’s the one last thing keeping the bulk of his own party in line behind him.

... once Trump signs that bill, he faces his greatest danger: Republicans will finally have an achievement to run on as they seek reelection in 2018. Their donors and supporters will have a prize that eluded them through eight years of Obama.... Simply put, they won’t need the president anymore. After that, the investigative team assembled by special counsel Robert Mueller can do its worst. Mueller would actually be doing GOP leaders a favor.
But a McClatchy story explains why this is wrong:
Trump's small-dollar donors fuel surge in GOP fundraising

The Republican National Committee raised more than $100 million in the first nine months of 2017, marking the first time it has raised that much, that fast, in a non-presidential election year.

The record-breaking fundraising can be largely attributed to a flurry of small-dollar donors responding to fundraising appeals by the first Republican president in eight years, Donald Trump....

The numbers give Republicans a large cash advantage over Democrats as they look to retain control of both chambers of Congress in the midterm elections next year.

... through August, Republicans had raised almost twice as much as the Democrats and had nearly seven times as much money in the bank. The RNC had raised $93.3 million with $47.1 million cash on hand while the DNC raised $46.3 million and had $6.8 million cash on hand.
Republicans should be doomed right now. A new CNN poll says that Democrats have a 16-point advantage, 54%-38%, when respondents are asked whether they'd vote for a Democrat or a Republican in upcoming congressional elections. But the Trump cult is generating the money that can keep Republicans competitive.

Also, a Trumpian meme is keeping this year's Virginia gubernatorial race competitive. Virginia is a state that Hillary Clinton won by 5 points in 2016. In the governor's race, Republican Ed Gillespie beat an unabashed pro-Trumper in the Republican primary and hasn't sought a campaign appearance from Trump, but lately he's been attacking Democrat Ralph Northam as an MS-13 sympathizer because Northam doesn't take a Trump-like hard line on immigration.



And it's working. Northam has had a pretty good lead, but polls are tightening, and one new poll shows Gillespie with a small advantage.

Yes, on the other hand, a Fox News poll shows Democrat Doug Jones tied with Republican Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate special election. But that's an outlier poll that didn't screen for likely voters. And, of course, in that race Trump endorse Moore's opponent in the primary.

I still think Democrats have a solid shot to take the House, though probably not the Senate. But Trump cult worship, alas, is keeping Republicans in the game. It could drive GOP turnout next year, when you'd expect Republican voters to be disillusioned. The party won't turn its back on Trump as long as he's a moneymaker and a vote motivator.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

I'M NOT SURE LAWRENCE LESSIG IS ANY CRAZIER THAN MITCH McCONNELL

This can't possibly happen, and just raising it as a possibility makes liberals seem like sinister coup-plotters. So why bring it up?
Sure, it's been more than 340 days since Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton, but there's still one very narrow, highly unlikely and entirely unprecedented way that Clinton could become president.

And it has some Democratic die-hards dreaming again.

Harvard University professor Lawrence Lessig offered a Clinton path to the presidency on Medium, putting forward a series of "if/then" scenarios that lead to House Speaker Paul Ryan handing the White House keys to Clinton.

Here's how constitutional law expert Lessig lays it out:

If number 1: If Trump is definitively found to have colluded directly with Russia, he would be forced to resign or be impeached.

If number 2: If Trump is removed, Vice President Mike Pence would become president.

If number 3: If Pence becomes president, he should resign too, given that he benefited from the same help from Mother Russia.

If number 4: If Pence resigns before appointing a vice president, Ryan would become president.

If number 5: If Ryan becomes president, he should do the right thing and choose Clinton for vice president. Then he should resign.
It's just crazy talk, right? But I wonder what we'd be talking about if the parties were reversed.

Imagine a 2016 election that ended the way the most optimistic Democrats thought it might: with a huge Hillary Clinton victory and a coattail effect that flipped the House and Senate. Now imagine -- and this is a stretch -- that it was Clinton who colluded with a foreign power to steal the election. Imagine a special counsel closing in on the truth and threatening her presidency.

What do you think the Republican leadership would be saying -- the same people who embraced the results of the 2016 and 2000 presidential elections without blinking, and who last year made up a rule saying that a president can be deprived of the opportunity to fill a Supreme Court vacancy for the sin of being in his last year of office?

I suspect they'd be arguing for just the kind of election-result nullification Lessig describes. They'd say Tim Kaine has no right to be president and neither does Nancy Pelosi. They'd probably propose exactly what Lessig proposes here, except for this bit:
... if Ryan did the right thing, that would be the most extraordinary event in the history of America since the Confederate Army fired on Fort Sumter. But unlike that, this event would build the union, not divide it. And if he did it, then Clinton should embrace the spirit of cross partisan decency and nominate Ryan, or a Republican, as her Vice President. At least for the balance of her first term, the frame of adults-behaving-like-adults could live.
There's no way Republican leaders would embrace the notion of Pelosi being rewarded for her voluntary surrender of the presidency by being named Donald Trump's vice president. They'd probably demand an investigation into the elections of whichever swing-state and swing-district Democrats flipped control of Congress. How much money did those candidates get from a treasonous Hillary Clinton and Democratic Party? We need to get to the bottom of this!

So, yes, what Lessig is proposing is far-fetched. But it would probably be a mainstream idea in the GOP if there were a mirror-image presidential scandal. Mainstream journalists would be expected to take the proposal seriously. And if it didn't happen, literally every act by surviving Democratic officeholders would be deemed illegitimate.


YOU COME AT THE LIAR, YOU'D BEST NOT MISS

President Trump said it again today, on the radio to Fox's Brian Kilmeade:
We're the highest taxed nation in the world. We need the tax cuts.
The talking point is regularly refuted -- here's Paul Krugman knocking it down over the weekend -- but Trump doesn't stop.

Today an enterprising young reporter tried confronting Trump on the fake talking point. He was wasting his time.


MIKE SACKS: ... repeatedly said that we're the highest-taxed nation in the world, when that's been seen as objectively false. How -- with the credibility you need to pass tax reform, why do you--

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Some people say it differently, and they'll say we're the highest developed nation taxed in the world.

SACKS: And why don't you say it that way?

TRUMP: Because a lot of people know exactly what I'm talking about it. In many cases, they think I'm right when I say "the highest." As far as I'm concern, I think we're really essentially the highest, but if you'd like to add the "developed nation," you can say that too. But a lot of people agree that the way I'm saying it is exactly correct. Thank you very much.
Yes, the president answered with his usual combination of alpha-male arrogance and "I didn't do the reading so I'm just making stuff up" improvisational BS. But Sacks fails here, too.

Sacks -- a national political correspondent for Scripps (and a former #3 on the "50 Most Beautiful" list of the D.C. publication The Hill) -- shouldn't have even asked the question if he didn't also know that there are many higher-taxed countries, and they're all "developed." Denmark, Norway, France, Belgium, Switzerland -- these are not Third World countries.

How should we rank the nations? Taxes per person? Or taxes as a percentage of GDP? Either way, the U.S. is far behind many rich nations. (Go here to see the charts in their original not-blurry form.)





C'mon, Mike, you get paid to do this. Don't even ask the question if you're not well-informed enough to know what the follow-up should be.




IF YOUR GO-TO ANALOGY FOR TRUMP IS ENTERTAINMENT TV, YOU'RE MISSING THE POINT

Out of nowhere yesterday, President Trump entertained the possibility on Twitter that he might get to run against Hillary Clinton again in 2020. He brought up the subject a second time in a news conference yesterday afternoon.

As The Washington Post's Michael Sherer notes, Trump's M.O. as president is to conjure up enemies, just to rally the base. To Sherer, this is like entertainment television:
Most days bring another round, often at dawn, like plot points in a 24-7 miniseries.

... when the president is on track — he calls Twitter “my voice”-- he can script his presidency like a professional wrestling match, where the heel, or bad guy, is the one who makes the face, or good guy, shine in the ring.
Sherer doesn't use the phrase "reality TV," but that's another favorite pundit metaphor for how Trump runs his presidency.

All of these are reasonable analogies -- but most pundits miss the obvious one: the conservative media, particularly Fox News. Fox programming isn't really news, of course -- it's a 24/7 roundup of liberal/culturally "elitist"/Democratic (and occasionally RINO Republican) villains, contrasted with conservative heroes. Consider Scherer's round-up of Trump's recent feuds:
In just the past few weeks, Trump has started, without any clear provocation, fights with football players who kneel during the national anthem, departments stores that declare “happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” and late-night television hosts for their “unfunny and repetitive material.”

Then there are the individual targets: Clinton, of course, but also “Liddle” Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, North Korea’s “Little Rocket Man” Kim Jong Un, ESPN anchor Jemele Hill, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), and a shifting array of reporters, newspapers and networks he labels as the “fake news.”
Just one enemy after another. Now here's part of the front page of Fox News Insider this morning:



Fox staffers scour the earth day after day, looking for enemies to denounce. That's the central feature of Fox programming. It's why Fox fans, including Trump, love to watch.

It's true that, as Scherer notes, Trump singled out enemies long before he was president:
It’s a tactic he has employed for years — defining himself against a negative space, as a tough truth teller who opposes others. In 1990, he condemned his New York real estate rival, Leona Helmsley, as a “truly evil human being,” and decades later he spent years nursing a viciously personal feud with Rosie O’Donnell, a daytime television host, largely through social media.
But Fox has taught him to juggle multiple enemies at once, to maintain a rotation of go-to enemies, and to continually add new ones. This tactic has helped Fox keep its viewer base after the loss of Roger Ailes, Bill O'Reilly, Eric Bolling, and Megyn Kelly. It's helped Trump keep his base despite his failures as a president.

Trump would make and taunt enemies if Fox had never existed. But he probably wouldn't sustain as many feuds at once.