Thursday Reads: “And Now His Voice Is Everywhere.”

Eastman Johnson (American genre painter, 1824-1906)

Good Morning!!

I’m going to begin today by quoting a NYT newsletter that arrives in my email every day even though I never requested it. This one is from Times columnist Roger Cohen:

You grow numb. You grow weary. I recall discovering a few weeks back that President Trump had lied about two phone calls, one from the president of Mexico and one from the head of the Boy Scouts. The calls, supposedly to congratulate him, did not exist. They never happened. They were pure inventions. Asked if Trump had lied, the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said, “I wouldn’t say it was a lie.”

I actually remember shrugging. The shrug was terrifying. This is how autocrats — or would-be autocrats — cement their power. They wear you down with their lies. They distract you. They want you to believe that 2+2=5. They want you to forget that freedom withers when the distinction between truth and falsehood dies. In a dictatorship there is a single font of “truth”: the voice of the dictator. Remember Trump at the Republican National Convention a little over a year ago: “I am your voice.” And now his voice is everywhere.

There’s the scripted Trump voice, which is fake. There’s the unscripted voice, which is genuine. The two tend to alternate; call this the choreography of disorientation. It’s confusing, like having a president who isn’t really a president but instead acts like the leader of a rabble-rousing movement. The Oval Office is a useful prop, no more than that. He’s held eight rallies since becoming president in January. The latest was in Phoenix, where he called the media “very dishonest people.” He led the crowd in a chant of “CNN sucks.” He attacked the “failing New York Times.”

It’s familiar. That familiarity is menacing. It led me to think of my half-repressed shrug at the beginning of this month. Trump has one fundamental talent: a ruthless ability to mess with people’s minds and turn their anger into the engine of his ambition. A dishonest president calls the media that report on his dishonesty dishonest for doing so. This is where we are. This is the danger that Trump represents.

Harold Knight. (English artist, 1874 – 1961) Morning Sun

He said of the Charlottesville violence: “There is blame on both sides.” He equated neo-Nazi bigots with blood on their hands and leftist protesters. For this president, they stand on the same moral place. But when the press reminds him of that, he lashes out. Phoenix was a reminder of that. Don’t shrug.

“And now his voice is everywhere.” That is chilling and of course Orwellian. I never shrug off Trump’s words or deeds, and I suppose that’s why I get so tired. But we must stay conscious and aware of what is happening. Trump is a buffoon, but he still has dedicated followers and he is actively attempting to push the U.S. toward tyranny. He would love to be the American Putin.

And guess who helped put Trump in the White House? Newsweek: Bernie Sanders Voters Helped Trump Win and Here’s Proof.

Bernie Sanders supporters switched their allegiance to Donald Trump in large enough numbers last November to sway the election for the real estate billionaire, according to an analysis of voter data released Tuesday by the blog Political Wire. Since Trump’s shock victory over Hillary Clinton, much discussion has focused on the degree to which passionate Sanders supporters’ refusal to embrace Clinton led to the Republican winding up in the White House.

According to the analysis of the 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Survey, fewer than 80 percent of those who voted for Sanders, an independent, in the Democratic primary did the same for Clinton when she faced off against Trump a few months later. What’s more, 12 percent of those who backed Sanders actually cast a vote for Trump….

The impact of those votes was significant. In each of the three states that ultimately swung the election for Trump—Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania—Trump’s margin of victory over Clinton was smaller than the number of Sanders voters who gave him their vote.

Francesco Nétti (Italian artist, 1832- 1894)

Please go check it out. It’s an interesting piece. Of course the Hillary-hating media will continue to blame her for everything under the sun, but we know the truth.

CNN broke an important Trump Russia story last night: Exclusive: Top Trump aide’s email draws new scrutiny in Russia inquiry.

Congressional investigators have unearthed an email from a top Trump aide that referenced a previously unreported effort to arrange a meeting last year between Trump campaign officials and Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

The aide, Rick Dearborn, who is now President Donald Trump’s deputy chief of staff, sent a brief email to campaign officials last year relaying information about an individual who was seeking to connect top Trump officials with Putin, the sources said.

The person was only identified in the email as being from “WV,” which one source said was a reference to West Virginia. It’s unclear who the individual is, what he or she was seeking, or whether Dearborn even acted on the request. One source said that the individual was believed to have had political connections in West Virginia, but details about the request and who initiated it remain vague.

Probably Jim Justice, the Governor of West Virginia–the guy who switched parties briefly and then re-registered as a Republican and then appeared at a WV rally with Trump. In 2009 Justice “sold the family’s coal operations in West Virginia to Mechel, a Russian company, and in 2015 bought the operations back for about a penny on the dollar,”

Returning to the CNN story:

Sources said the email occurred in June 2016 around the time of the recently revealed Trump Tower meeting where Russians with Kremlin ties met with the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law Jared Kushner as well as then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.
While many details around the Dearborn email are unclear, its existence suggests the Russians may have been looking for another entry point into the Trump campaign to see if there were any willing partners as part of their effort to discredit — and ultimately defeat — Hillary Clinton.

Bo von Zweigbergk, 1921. (Swedish painter, 1897 – 1940) Woman in Cafe 1921

Guess who Dearborn worked for before he went to the White House?

Dearborn’s name has not been mentioned much as part of the Russia probe. But he served as then-Sen. Jeff Sessions’ chief of staff, as well as a top policy aide on the campaign. And investigators have questions about whether he played a role in potentially arranging two meetings that occurred between the then-Russia ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, and Sessions, who has downplayed the significance of those encounters.

Dearborn was involved in helping to arrange an April 2016 event at the Mayflower Hotel where Trump delivered a major foreign policy address, sources said. Kislyak attended the event and a reception beforehand, but it’s unclear whether he interacted with Sessions there.

Interesting . . .

Another casualty of the White House purge, according Politico:

W.H. RAPID RESPONSE DIRECTOR IS OUT — ANDY HEMMING left his job on Monday as the White House director of rapid response, according to multiple sources. A source familiar with the move told us it was a “mutually agreed upon” separation, and Hemming now plans to take a vacation (in which golf may play a big part) and then explore future opportunities. Right before his departure, he was profiled by Annie Karni (http://politi.co/2g79s6m) as the staffer the White House pays “$89,000 a year to spot and distribute positive stories from the mainstream media.”

HEMMING WAS SENIOR ADVISER for research at the RNC in the 2016 cycle and director of research on the Trump campaign. At the White House, he worked from 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. every weekday and was a regular in reporters’ inboxes, blasting out stories favorable to the administration. Hemming declined to comment. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told us that it was a “[m]utual decision that he could best help promote the president’s agenda on the outside. Andy is smart and very talented and we wish him all the best.”

So who will put those favorable stories on Trump’s desk every day now that Hemming is gone?

I came across an excellent article on Twitter–posted by Republican never-Trumpers. David Roth at The Baffler: The President of Blank Sucking Nullity. The main point of the piece is that Trump’s behavior can be explained by the fact that he’s an asshole. I can’t do it justice with an excerpt, so I hope you’ll go read the whole thing if you haven’t already.

Malcolm T. Liepke American artist, b 1953

 

It is not quite fair to say that Donald Trump lacks core beliefs, but to the extent that we can take apart these beliefs they amount to Give Donald Trump Your Money and Donald Trump Should Really Be on Television More. The only comprehensible throughline to his politics is that everything Trump says is something he’s said previously, with additional very’s and more-and-more’s appended over time; his worldview amounts to the sum of the dumb shit he saw on the cover of the New York Post in 1985, subjected to a few decades of rancid compounding interest and deteriorating mental aptitude. He watches a lot of cable news, but he struggles to follow even stories that have been custom built for people like him—old, uninformed, amorphously if deeply aggrieved.

There’s a reason for this. Trump doesn’t know anything or really believe anything about any topic beyond himself, because he has no interest in any topic beyond himself; his evident cognitive decline and hyperactive laziness and towering monomania ensure that he will never again learn a new thing in his life. He has no friends and no real allies; his inner circle is divided between ostensibly scandalized cynics and theatrically shameless ones, all of whom hold him in low regard and see him as a potential means to their individuated ends. There is no help on the way; his outer orbit is a rotation of replacement-level rage-grandpas and defective, perpetually clammy operators.

Trump now “executes” by way of the The Junior Soprano Method. When he senses that his staff is trying to get him to do one thing, Trump defiantly does the opposite; otherwise he bathes in the commodified reactionary grievance of partisan media, looking for stories about himself. It takes days for his oafish and overmatched handlers to coax him into even a coded and qualified criticism of neo-Nazis, and an instant for him to willfully undo it. Of course he brings more vigor to the latter than the former; he doesn’t really understand why he had to do the first thing, but he innately and deeply understands why he did the second. The first is invariably about someone else—some woman, there was a car accident, like during or maybe after that thing—and therefore, as an asshole, he does not and cannot really care about it. The second is about him and therefore, as an asshole, he really, really does.

To understand Trump is also to understand his appeal as an aspirational brand to the worst people in the United States. What his intransigent admirers like most about him—the thing they aspire to, in their online cosplay sessions and their desperately thirsty performances for a media they loathe and to which they are so helplessly addicted—is his freedom to be unconcerned with anything but himself. This is not because he is rich or brave or astute; it’s because he is an asshole, and so authentically unconcerned.

That’s all I have for you today. What else is happening? What stories are you following?

 


36 Comments on “Thursday Reads: “And Now His Voice Is Everywhere.””

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Dallas Morning News: Federal judge blocks further implementation of Texas’ voter ID law.

    A federal judge in Corpus Christi blocked further implementation of Texas’ controversial voter identification law, after finding for a second time that it intentionally discriminates against minorities.

    In a court order WednesAay, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos blocked Texas from implementing portions of the 2011 voter ID law, which was considered to be one of the strictest in the country. And in a striking blow to the state, she blocked entirely a revamp to the law that the Texas Legislature passed earlier this year as Senate Bill 5. The legislation was an effort to appease Ramos and do away with the finding of discriminatory intent.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    USA Today:

    How Trump could ease the burden he’s putting on the Secret Service

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/08/23/how-trump-could-ease-burden-stressed-out-secret-service/593514001/

  3. bostonboomer says:

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

    • cheekos says:

      I saw where one local charity, in Palm Beach County, was assessed a $160,000 penalty for doing the right thing. Now, I fully understand the financial side of the equation; however, are such penalties always fair? We don’t know!

      It would be great to have a list of: Organizations (however not vital); number of guests planned for; initial payment made to A-a-L, Date of Event and Date cancelled. It would be one thing to cancel a major event, lets say tithing a month; but, what if that actual Date of the Event were, let’s sy, four or five months away. Trust Shylock k Trump to extoll the full ppund of flesh!

    • Enheduanna says:

      Good. I’ve been really disappointed by the number of enablers letting this ahole use the office of POTUS to grift his way into millions of dollars. I had hoped he would suffer at least a little. I’d love to see his businesses ruined.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

  5. NW Luna says:

    WaPo has a very similar story to Newsweek’s on that analysis of Sanders voters from a different author.

    Monkey Cage Analysis
    Did enough Bernie Sanders supporters vote for Trump to cost Clinton the election?
    By John Sides August 24 at 6:00 AM

    This is what stood out to me:

    Schaffner found that what distinguished Sanders-Trump voters from Sanders-Clinton voters wasn’t their attitudes about trade, but their attitudes about race. When asked whether whites are advantaged, Sanders-Trump voters were much more likely to disagree than were Sanders-Clinton voters.

    It ain’t economic anxiety, Berniebros, it’s racism.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/08/24/did-enough-bernie-sanders-supporters-vote-for-trump-to-cost-clinton-the-election/?tid=hybrid_collaborative_1_na&utm_term=.5754bc0aa07b

    • bostonboomer says:

      Yup.

    • Enheduanna says:

      They’ll never regret it because they won’t suffer for it. The damage this presidency will do to our country won’t effect their very white, privileged lives.

    • quixote says:

      And *still* the mainstream media can’t bring themselves to see the misogyny that’s helped bring on the apocalypse.

      Sure, they share racism with Dump’s doofuses, but guess what? Hillary is not black. She brings some other difference into it. Intelligence? Stamina? Diplomacy? Skill? Nope, nope, nope. There’s something, though. what could it be?

  6. NW Luna says:

  7. Minkoff Minx says:

    Oh BB, that letter you quoted from at the top. Wow.

  8. Sweet Sue says:

    To understand Trump is also to understand his appeal as an aspirational brand to the worst people in the United States.

    Wow, that Roth piece gives new meaning to the word “blistering.”
    Thanks for sharing, BB! I’ll be chewing on that one for a while.

  9. dakinikat says:

    So, it’s been 50 years since the summer of love … 20 years since Prince Diana was killed in that car crash and I’m feeling older than ever and thx for sharing the Cohen

    there’s an active shooter in Charleston …

    http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/24/us/charleston-active-shooter/

    x0x0

    Texas peeps Stay high and dry!

  10. dakinikat says:

  11. palhart says:

    i guessed that Dearborn had previously worked for Sessions. It sorta bubbled up.

    (I started to discuss Trump’s core beliefs and ran amok. I can’t completely, or even up to the half-way mark, absorb this man who is unlike anyone i’ve ever known or read about. All I can say is “why, dammit, why, why, why”! Obama has written that the Republicans opened the way for Trump, or someone like him, 50 years ago. Americans don’t deserve this daily hell.

    Thanks for your daily contributions to this blog because I can no longer speak or write about him.)

  12. dakinikat says:

    Jennifer Rubin again

    • Enheduanna says:

      Gosh Jennifer – maybe if you hadn’t ragged on Hillary for decades….

      I read somewhere he went on so long at that Phoenix rally people started leaving. The crowd size actually dwindled as people got bored and left.

  13. jackyt says:

    Josh Marshall excerpted a piece from an article in the NYT by John Herrman.

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/sorry-the-racist-alt-right-aint-getting-the-last-laugh-with-their-mass-banning

    An excerpt from the excerpt: “It engages with and uses the rules and protections of the system it inhabits with the intent of subverting it and eventually remaking it in their image or, if that fails, merely destroying it.”

    For me, this describes the BernieBrats perfectly.

    Another good JM piece on the subject of Dearborne/Sessions.

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/thoughts-about-the-new-trump-russia-email

  14. I am pretty exhausted and demoralized by all things Trump at this point, but I’m trying to keep up with it all. I read the WaPo article on Sander’s supporters’ votes in the Presidential election and my take-away besides the all important racism as motivator for some Sanders supporters who voted for Trump, is that a big proportion of those who turned into Trump supporters were likely to have voted for him anyway (racism, Repub leaning), and those who had been or leaned Democratic mostly voted for Hillary in the election. So it made me want to be forgiving and easier on Sanders supporters who have been Democratic and voted that way in the election, which is most of them. True, some turned to Stein and that is too bad. I only know one or two like that and I can’t convince them to change. They bought the Hillary hate messages and they are lost to that. I see that as part of the Russian-Trump war on this country. I can’t hold the blame any longer–I am too worn down from it all. I have trouble believing every day that passes with him still in power and with all the horrors he is bringing still occurring. I’m just so sad for this country. The only upside is that we can’t hide from ourselves in this moment, although I’m sure we will get that ability back soon enough if we are lucky enough to get through this. You can see how cynical I feel. The damage that is being caused won’t go away. I am afraid about nuclear war, about war in general, and about increased violence in our society. But mostly I am sad and tired. Fascism in the U.S. and in obvious power. Resources going to oligarchs. The worst degeneration of public discourse. What a disaster.

  15. A link to a Vox article assessing the Sanders/Trump crossovers: while racism is acknowledged as a motivation, there is no consideration, AT ALL, of misogyny! Talk about an invisible majority… WOW!!

  16. Fannie says:

    Great posting BB. I woke up this morning, and read “What Trump has undone” by Phillip Bump at Wapo

    There is right and wrong, and TRUMP is WRONG!
    Be sure to read, and share, and add things they might have missed.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2017/08/24/what-trump-has-undone/

  17. NW Luna says:

    Well, this is ironic — Trump thinking that Venezuela is “veering toward dictatorship.”

    Trump administration slaps new financial penalties on the Venezuelan government

    The sanctions would bar dealings in new bonds and stocks issued by the government and state oil company.

    A statement issued by the White House said, “These measures are carefully calibrated to deny the Maduro dictatorship a critical source of financing to maintain its illegitimate rule.”
    The action followed President Nicolas Maduro’s decision to convene a special assembly to rewrite the constitution of the oil-rich nation and assume many government powers. U.S. and Latin American leaders say Maduro’s government is veering toward dictatorship.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/world/wp/2017/08/25/trump-administration-slaps-new-financial-penalties-on-the-venezuelan-government/?tid=a_breakingnews&utm_term=.7d0e23deba54

  18. NW Luna says:

    As if we needed it, there’s more evidence that DeVos is just plain wrong.

    Education Secretary Betsy DeVos recently announced that she is reconsidering the guidelines protecting sexual assault victims on college campuses

    More than 5 percent of college women — that’s 300,000 students — are raped each year. Only 12 percent of these rapes are reported to law enforcement, less than the already low 16 percent national average.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dont-fall-for-the-misinformation-campaign-against-title-ix-reforms/2017/08/24/1ebb4450-8834-11e7-961d-2f373b3977ee_story.html?utm_term=.9b7d101ed7ec