Tuesday Reads

Louise Williams Jackson, Woman Reading a Book on a Sofa

Good Morning!!

For months now, we’ve been talking about the society-wide depression and anxiety that Trump’s “presidency” has caused. Speaking for myself, I managed to stay glued to the news for quite a long time, but lately I’ve tried to protect myself by stepping back as much as possible and finding ways to nourish my psyche in order to avoid falling into despair over what is happening to this country.

I’ve still paid close attention to the damage Trump is doing, and I’ve found that I can do that without watching cable TV constantly and reading every horrific article I encounter. I’m still experiencing “Trump depression” though and I know I’m not alone.

In light of that, I want to begin this post by highlighting this helpful article by Paul Rosenberg at Salon: The Trump depression (and we don’t mean the economy): Key symptom of autocratic regimes. It’s quite long, but I hope you’ll go read the entire thing. Some excerpts:

Reviewing “Trump’s Wacky, Angry, and Extreme August” on Twitter, the New Yorker’s Susan Glasser said the experience “was exhausting, a dark journey to a nasty and contentious place.” But that’s hardly news: it’s a place we live in every day. We try to turn the volume down and ignore it, and that may work for a while. But it won’t last. It can’t. It’s getting worse, and we can all see where we’re headed.

We know who Donald Trump admires, who he wants to be like — “president for life” as he keeps on telling us — and the countries they rule. Even as Trump insulted Americans and allies with abandon, Glasser noted, he found time to praise North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

America is nowhere near as bad as Brazil or China, much less North Korea. But our democracy is eroding significantly. Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) tracks hundreds of attributes of democracy for 202 countries, spanning more than two centuries. Its 2019 report found that “24 countries are now severely affected by what is established as a ‘third wave of autocratization,'” an erosion of democratic rights “that has slowly gained momentum since the mid 1990s. … Among them are populous countries such as Brazil, India and the United States.”

If Trump has his way — demolishing all restraints on his power — things will only get much worse, with the journey Glasser took as a tour book guide of what’s to come. And people are feeling it in their bones.

By Keith Gantos ( EUA 1957) óleo sobre madeira

I think we all acknowledge at this point that Trump wants to be a dictator in the mold of Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un. He has managed to get rid of the so-called “adults in the room” and surround himself with sycophants, yes men, and acting cabinet members whose jobs are subject to his whims. On the “Trump depression,” Rosenberg quotes “physician and scholar” Frederick Burkle.

“In America under Trump there is a population-based depression taking hold. It is a very subtle, smoldering, pervasive and serious condition that people in autocratic countries chronically live with,” physician and scholar Frederick “Skip” Burkle told me in a recent interview. Burkle has any number of academic credentials: He was founding director of the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance at the University of Hawaii, and currently serves in advisory or research capacities at the Harvard School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University Medical Institutes, the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington and elsewhere.

It was Burkle who first described Trump as a schoolyard bully to me, as I described in July. His own first childhood encounter with a bully taught him that such people were driven by “not just the violence and intimidation, but the narcissist’s hallmark sense of impunity, backed up by effortless deceit, blame-shifting, and manipulation,” as I expressed it.

“When I did see young adults with sociopathy and narcissism, the depression among their caretaker parents was pervasive,” Burkle told me in our recent conversation. “They control the agenda and suck all the oxygen out of the room every day. They also sap all the energy out of their caretaker parents and staff later in life, and are quick to blame others for the consequences.” It’s not accidental, he observed, that Trump underlings like Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn are the ones convicted of crimes.

Meanwhile, the wider public, overwhelmed by the Trumpian chaos, becomes depressed, disoriented and exhausted, as Burkle puts it.

Woman Reading In Bath by Chen Bolen

Rosenberg cites several other experts, including Elizabeth Mika who wrote a chapter in the book The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.

When I reached out to Mika…, she cited two concepts as particularly important for “understanding our sociopolitical situation” — both what’s driving the depression Burkle speaks of, and what points toward the way out.

“The first one is pathocracy,” Mika said. “which is the rule of pathological characters — specifically, people with entirely absent or severely compromised conscience — who, because of their character defect, are devoted pretty much exclusively to the pursuit of power by any means possible.”

Pathocracies spread into general populace like cancer, taking over and destroying organs of social and political life, along with individual human beings. People living under pathocracies become demoralized and despondent. Depression and despair, along with various social pathologies, are predictable consequences of being forced to adjust to immoral and inhumane socio-political systems based on lies and exploitation.

Yet “just as pathocracy spreads in a populace, so does a healthy resistance to it,” she explained.

Awakening to the reality of pathocracy, mobilizing against it and dismantling it, is a process of positive disintegration — the second concept I mentioned at the start — during which individuals come to realize the importance of higher values, and start implementing them, little by little, in their daily lives.

The way out is not a return to normalcy, since as Mika noted above, “The tyrant shows up in a society that is already weakened by disorder.”

I know I’ve quoted a lot, but there’s much more to read at the link. I hope you’ll check it out.

Fyffe Christie (1918-1979) – The artist’s wife reading (1953)

I don’t know why this story on Russian spying at Yahoo News isn’t getting more attention: Exclusive: Russia carried out a ‘stunning’ breach of FBI communications system, escalating the spy game on U.S. soil, by Zach Dorfman, Jenna McLaughlin and Sean D. Naylor.

On Dec. 29, 2016, the Obama administration announced that it was giving nearly three dozen Russian diplomats just 72 hours to leave the United States and was seizing two rural East Coast estates owned by the Russian government. As the Russians burned papers and scrambled to pack their bags, the Kremlin protested the treatment of its diplomats, and denied that those compounds — sometimes known as the “dachas” — were anything more than vacation spots for their personnel.

The Obama administration’s public rationale for the expulsions and closures — the harshest U.S. diplomatic reprisals taken against Russia in several decades — was to retaliate for Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. But there was another critical, and secret, reason why those locations and diplomats were targeted.

Both compounds, and at least some of the expelled diplomats, played key roles in a brazen Russian counterintelligence operation that stretched from the Bay Area to the heart of the nation’s capital, according to former U.S. officials. The operation, which targeted FBI communications, hampered the bureau’s ability to track Russian spies on U.S. soil at a time of increasing tension with Moscow, forced the FBI and CIA to cease contact with some of their Russian assets, and prompted tighter security procedures at key U.S. national security facilities in the Washington area and elsewhere, according to former U.S. officials. It even raised concerns among some U.S. officials about a Russian mole within the U.S. intelligence community.

It appears that Russian interference in our elections was only the tip of the iceberg.

“It was a very broad effort to try and penetrate our most sensitive operations,” said a former senior CIA official.

Girl reading a book, (after 1930) by Bertold Piotr Oczko born 1910 in Bielsko, Poland died 1943 in Krakau, Poland

American officials discovered that the Russians had dramatically improved their ability to decrypt certain types of secure communications and had successfully tracked devices used by elite FBI surveillance teams. Officials also feared that the Russians may have devised other ways to monitor U.S. intelligence communications, including hacking into computers not connected to the internet. Senior FBI and CIA officials briefed congressional leaders on these issues as part of a wide-ranging examination on Capitol Hill of U.S. counterintelligence vulnerabilities.

These compromises, the full gravity of which became clear to U.S. officials in 2012, gave Russian spies in American cities including Washington, New York and San Francisco key insights into the location of undercover FBI surveillance teams, and likely the actual substance of FBI communications, according to former officials. They provided the Russians opportunities to potentially shake off FBI surveillance and communicate with sensitive human sources, check on remote recording devices and even gather intelligence on their FBI pursuers, the former officials said.

“When we found out about this, the light bulb went on — that this could be why we haven’t seen [certain types of] activity” from known Russian spies in the United States, said a former senior intelligence official.

The compromise of FBI systems occurred not long after the White House’s 2010 decision to arrest and expose a group of “illegals” – Russian operatives embedded in American society under deep non-official cover – and reflected a resurgence of Russian espionage. Just a few months after the illegals pleaded guilty in July 2010, the FBI opened a new investigation into a group of New York-based undercover Russian intelligence officers. These Russian spies, the FBI discovered, were attempting to recruit a ring of U.S. assets — including Carter Page, an American businessman who would later act as an unpaid foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Once again, I’ve quoted a great deal, but it’s a very long piece that is both interesting and alarming.

A lady reading a book Ernst Liebermann born May 8, 1869 in Langemuss (Meiningen), Germany

This next story is horrific, and once again it began under Obama. The Washington Post: U.S. officials knew bomb-sniffing dogs were dying from neglect in Jordan. They sent more.

The State Department sent dozens of highly skilled explosive-detection dogs to Jordan, even after the agency assessed a high degree of mistreatment and failure to care for the animals in 2016, according to an inspector general report concluded last week. It ultimately led to their early deaths and crushed their spirits so brutally that the dogs “lost the will to work,” the report says.

At least 10 dogs provided to Jordan died of “various medical problems” out of at least 100 canines sent there between 2008 and 2016, the report found, and surviving dogs were starved in kennels smeared with feces and dirt. Dogs were overworked in the desert, suffered hip dysplasia and other conditions. Engorged ticks ringed their ears.

Zoe, [a] Belgian Malinois, died of heat stroke on the Syrian border in 2017, less than a year after her arrival. Veterinarians told investigators that such deaths are not accidental and pointed to negligence on the part of Jordanian handlers.

The report reveals an alarming and fast collapse of dogs that arrived healthy and strong in Jordan, only to be fighting for their lives in a matter of months….

Athena, a 2-year old Belgian Malinois, was found starved in Jordan by U.S. dog handling officials and evacuated to the United States for recovery.

Photos in Jordan show Athena’s malnourished body. Feces covered her kennel floor, her water bowl bone-dry. The State Department had two full-time dog handling mentors on the ground “during the entire time” Athena was in Jordan, the report found, but her condition did not set off any alarms until a site visit in April 2018.

By then, the State Department knew for two years — after an April 2016 site visit — that Jordan was unable to adequately care for and protect dogs carrying out dirty, hot and dangerous work to find explosives in violent places like the Syrian border.

Yet at least 60 dogs arrived in six waves through 2018 after the assessment, the report found

As the Brits say, bloody hell. This is intolerable!

Woman Reading, by Lex Veen

More reads, links only.

Vanity Fair: “They Played It Up Pretty Big”: Turmoil Engulfs The Times Over The Kavanaugh Debacle.

Mimi Rocah at USA Today: Confirmed: Powerful men ignored women in short-circuited Brett Kavanaugh investigation.

Dahlia Lithwick at Slate: The New Kavanaugh Reporting Shows How Far Trump’s Control Goes.

Vox: Susan Collins is in the political fight of her life, and Brett Kavanaugh is a huge factor.

The Washington Post: Pentagon urges restraint after strikes on Saudi oil facilities.

Washington Post Editorial Board: Trump has dug himself into a hole with Iran.

Politico: Trump’s deference to Saudi Arabia infuriates much of D.C.

Buzzfeed News: Donald Trump Keeps Telling World Leaders The Same Bizarre Story About Kim Jong Un.

Gabriel Sherman at Vanity Fair: “Trump is Annoyed Pence Hasn’t Been Defending Him More”: Is Trump’s Long-Suffering V.P. in Danger of Getting Bounced?

Politico: Air Force crews stayed at Trump’s Turnberry resort for days at a time.

So . . . what stories are you following today?


Monday Reads: This and That about #KavaughLies

Image result for historical images US supreme courtIt’s another Monday Sky Dancers!

And, we’re hearing more about the how Brett Kavanaugh was given a lot of special treatment on his short path to a seat on SCOTUS. This is from WAPO and it’s an opinion piece by Jennifer Ruben: “This is the Kavanaugh mess we feared”. The big question is will this make one damned bit of difference?

In September 2018, I warned about the abbreviated FBI investigation into allegations that Brett M. Kavanaugh engaged in sexually aggressive behavior: “If Democrats retake one or both houses in November, they will be able to investigate, subpoena witnesses and conduct their own inquiry. The result will be a cloud over the Supreme Court and possible impeachment hearings … Kavanaugh has not cleared himself but rather undermined faith in the judicial system that presumes that facts matter.”

And sure enough, two New York Times reporters have found multiple witnesses to the allegations from Deborah Ramirez that Kavanaugh exposed himself during a dorm party at Yale. One newly discovered witness had information concerning yet another, similar event. That witness, Max Stier, is the chief executive of Partnership for Public Service, a nonpartisan group that, among other things, tracks nominations and confirmations. According to the Times report, he brought the information to the Senate Judiciary Committee (Who? Who knew about this?) and to the FBI. (I have relied on him for expertise about the federal government and found him to be scrupulously nonpartisan and honest.) He might have been a compelling witness. The New York Times now reports that the woman involved in the incident Stier witnessed does not remember it.

The initial NYT times story has triggered a flurry of calls for Kavanaugh’s impeachment. The article from VOX is from Tara Golshan and sums up the areas where he’s had truthfulness issues..

Democrats called for an investigation into Kavanaugh’s “truthfulness” during the confirmation process, but got nowhere.As new information — and another allegation — comes out, there have been renewed calls to reopen investigations into the Supreme Court justice.

Kavanaugh’s truthfulness has repeatedly come into question

Even before Saturday’s report, there were a lot of discrepancies in Kavanaugh’s story — especially when it came to Ramirez’s allegation.

During the confirmation process, an NBC report detailed communication between Kavanaugh, his team, and college friends to rebut Deborah Ramirez’s claim that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at Yale, before she had come forward with allegations in an article in the New Yorker.

NBC’s reporting was in direct contradiction to Kavanaugh’s testimony, in which he angrily denied the multiple allegations of sexual misconduct brought against him and said he learned of Ramirez’s claim through the original New Yorker story:

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R-UT): When did you first hear of Ms. Ramirez’s allegations against you?

KAVANAUGH: … In the New Yorker.

HATCH: Did the ranking member [Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)] or any of her colleagues or any of their staffs ask you about Ms. Ramirez’s allegations before they were leaked to the press?

KAVANAUGH: No.

However, two friends of Kavanaugh’s — Kerry Berchem and Karen Yarasavage — were in contact with the Supreme Court nominee and his team, according to text messages obtained by NBC:

In a series of texts before the publication of the New Yorker story, Yarasavage wrote that she had been in contact with “Brett’s guy,” and also with “Brett,” who wanted her to go on the record to refute Ramirez. According to Berchem, Yarasavage also told her friend that she turned over a copy of the wedding party photo to Kavanaugh, writing in a text: “I had to send it to Brett’s team too.”

In an interview with Republican congressional staff two days after Ramirez went public, Kavanaugh said he had “heard about” Ramirez calling college friends about the alleged incident. It’s not clear if he had heard about that after the allegations went public.

These text messages detailing Kavanaugh’s knowledge of Ramirez’s allegations aren’t the first time his truthfulness has come into question. Here are five other instances where discrepancies in Kavanaugh’s testimonies have been raised.

1) Kavanaugh’s drinking: The Supreme Court nominee has been adamant that while he enjoys beer and perhaps at time drank “too many,” it was never to the point of passing out, blacking out, or even causing slight lapses in memory.

His characterization of drinking has been denied by multiple friends and past roommates, as Vox’s Emily Stewart explained. He grew “belligerent and aggressive” as a drunk, according to Chad Ludington, one of Kavanaugh’s former classmates.

Liz Swisher, another former Yale classmate, recounted to CNN of Kavanaugh’s drinking: “There’s no problem with drinking beer in college. The problem is lying about it.”

Image result for historical images US supreme court

First photograph of the U.S. Supreme Court, by Mathew Brady, 1869 (courtesy of National Archives).

From the LA TImes: “New reporting details how FBI limited investigation of Kavanaugh allegations.”

The other allegation, previously unreported, came from Washington lawyer Max Stier, who told Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) that he witnessed Kavanaugh exposing himself to a different female classmate during their freshman year.

Both Kavanaugh and the woman were heavily intoxicated at the time, according to Stier’s account, as described by people familiar with the contacts between him and Coons and others who have spoken with Stier since Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

The woman in that case, a friend of Ramirez, has denied that she was assaulted, telling friends she has no memory of such an incident. According to Stier’s account, the woman was so inebriated at the time that she could easily have no memory of it.

Coons sent Wray a letter on Oct. 2 — four days before the Senate voted on Kavanaugh — naming Stier as an “individual whom I would like to specifically refer to you for appropriate follow up.”

The FBI never contacted Stier. The bureau also did not interview other classmates who said they had heard at the time of either the incident Stier reported or the one involving Ramirez.

Stier has declined to comment publicly on the allegation. He wanted his account to remain confidential, both for the sake of the woman, a widow with three children, and for his own professional considerations.

Stier founded a nonpartisan, nonprofit group to promote public service roughly two decades ago. Before that, he was a lawyer at Washington’s Williams & Connolly firm, where he worked with the team that defended then-President Clinton. Several Republican commentators on Sunday zeroed in on that part of his resume to discredit his account as partisan.

During the hearings, Kavanaugh stated under oath that he was never so drunk that he would pass out or forget what he’d done while intoxicated. A number of former classmates who knew him said they were sufficiently upset by that statement, which they considered untruthful, that they contacted the FBI. None received responses from the bureau.

Image result for historical images US supreme court

Sandra Day O’Connor being sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice by Chief Justice Warren Burger, with her husband, John O’Connor, 9/25/1981. (National Archives Identifier 1696015)

So, the usual suspects have lined up to either defend the feckless Kavanaugh.but it appears the calls for impeachment may not go any where at all.  From Politico and Kyle Cheney “Judiciary chairman throws cold water on Kavanaugh impeachment. Jerry Nadler says the committee is too busy ‘impeaching the president’ to consider investigating the Supreme Court justice.”

The House Judiciary Committee is too tied up with “impeaching the president” to take immediate action on a potential investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said Monday.

“We have our hands full with impeaching the president right now and that’s going to take up our limited resources and time for a while,” Nadler said on WNYC when pressed by host Brian Lehrer.

The House Judiciary Committee is too tied up with “impeaching the president” to take immediate action on a potential investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said Monday.

“We have our hands full with impeaching the president right now and that’s going to take up our limited resources and time for a while,” Nadler said on WNYC when pressed by host Brian Lehrer.

Image result for historical images US supreme courtThere just appears to be no depth of depravity to which all of Trump’s appointments can find themselves. And the worst thing?  They don’t ever seem to be held to account in a manner consistence with justice.

Trump and every one that surrounds him engage and scandalous, illegal behaviors and the system props them up.  The Republicans in their search for white male hegemony that only recognizes women and minorities that are enablers must be dealt with at the ballot box and in the committees of the House of Representatives.

Are we woke enough to get this done?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Sunday Reads: Corn POP

Hello.

There was a pro-tRump, KKK, Neo-Nazi rally here in Dahlonega yesterday, it stinks because this is one of the reasons I moved out of Banjoville.

Dahlonega rally organizer on probation for 2016 assault in local bar

Chester Doles, the principal organizer of Saturday’s pro-Trump rally in Dahlonega, has repeatedly described his group as patriotic and peaceful, despite his history as a violent white supremacist.

Doles has two prior felony convictions, both of which earned him stints in federal prison. Now, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned that Doles was arrested on assault charges in a December 2016 melee in a Dahlonega bar that included, according to a witness report, Doles smashing a woman’s head into a wall while calling her a “stupid (expletive) white bitch.”

Doles is currently on supervised probation for that charge, conditions of which require him to “avoid persons or places of disreputable or harmful character.”

BTW, Doles is planning to run for the US Senate…as a challenge to David Purdue.

Hey, just a side comment:

Uh, that is the sheriff of Chattooga County…as posted by the Facebook page of the Georgia Alliance For Social Justice Discussion Group…That is disgusting. As you can see, the white power symbol being flashed…

#IndivisibleLumpkin had a little rally outside of Doug Collins office in Gainesville on Friday, in conjunction with others to  #DefundHate

It was exhilarating to get out there and yell towards the dipshit’s office…granted he wasn’t there and neither was his staff…but to be able to get the frustration out, that was marvelous.

 

A few tweets….

Poorly phrased?

I wonder if that whole shitfuck was planned, because:

Meanwhile…what is important about this fucking article…gets buried:

A few more tweets…for some harmless fun?

And now, a funny take on Biden, no not just this ridiculous record player crap from the debate.

We are talking about the legendary story of Corn Pop. To get the full jest of the matter, I have to share this extra long Twitter thread with y’all. Take the time to read it in full.

 

You can also read the entire thread here: Thread by @michaelharriot: “Thread: I’m always astounded by the imaginings of white people as it relates to race. Many of them have this fictionalized jigaboo version t […]”

 

In relation to the story of Corn Pop…

Joe Biden recalls lessons learned as the only white lifeguard at city pool in 1962 – The Washington Post

 

Early in the summer, a gang that called itself the Romans frequented the pool. One of the gang members, nicknamed Corn Pop, was bouncing relentlessly on the high diving board, which was expressly against the rules. Biden, wanting to show that he “wasn’t an easy mark” whistled at Corn Pop and yelled, “Esther Williams! Get off the board, man. You’re out of here.”

Williams was a 1950s swimmer and actress best known for aquatic set pieces, and the joke was likely meant to be somewhat emasculating.

 

Former Vice President Joe Biden had a public swimming in Wilmington, Del. named after him on June 26. (WDEL)
As you have learned from the twitter thread…Corn Pop was waiting for Biden in the parking lot…

Biden wanted to call the police, but Wright stopped him. If he did that, he’d never be allowed back in the community. So Biden did as his friend suggested and wrapped a six-foot length of metal chain around his arm, which he then wrapped in a towel.

Corn Pop indeed approached Biden, who said, “You might cut me, Corn Pop, but I’m going to wrap this chain around your head before you do.”

But he also said, loudly for all to hear, “I owe you an apology. I should never have called you Esther Williams. That was wrong. And in front of all your friends, I sincerely apologize. But if you bounce on the board like that again, I’m still going to throw you out.”

The two “put our weapons away, and we ended up being friends. Corn Pop and the Romans looked out for me the rest of the summer.”

This was all news to me. How could I have missed this story of Corn Pop and the gang?

I will end with this image. I think the look on Hillary’s face says it all:

 

This is an open thread.


Lazy Caturday Reads: Post-Debate Speculation

Edvard Meownch

Good Afternoon!!

The mainstream (AKA white male) media has decided for us that only the oldest (white) Democratic candidates are acceptable to them. It also appears they have mostly rejected Bernie Sanders and embraced Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren. I’d like to offer some rare counterarguments, even though it might be a futile exercise.

Henry Olsen at The Washington Post: The three big winners of the Houston debate.

Thursday’s Democratic debate lacked the sparks and conflicts that characterized the first two outings. It nonetheless produced three clear winners: former vice president Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).

Obviously, I disagree with Olsen about Biden but, after all, he is a white man. He does note that Biden “weakened” over the course of the three hours and gave “convoluted” answers to foreign policy questions. He doesn’t mention Biden’s racist response to a question about overcoming the long-term effects of slavery. On Harris and Klobuchar:

By Tetsuo Takahara

Harris was charismatic. Alternately funny and serious, warm and strong, she came across as a real person with real experience and a passion for change. Her answers lacked some of the policy detail of her competitors, but she more than made up for that with her wit and some planned one-liners. Former Obama Cabinet secretary Julián Castro spoke about how Democratic presidential winners excited millions of voters to put together their victorious coalitions. His low-energy performance did not show he was the person to do that, but Harris’s suggested she could.

Whether she can turn a winning persona into a winning campaign remains to be seen. Democrats looking for passionate progressivism have found their champions, and Harris wisely is not trying to out-shout Sanders or Warren. Democrats looking for a steady, more centrist hand also have their person, and Biden thus far hasn’t given them reason to change. But the race is still young, and we know from experience that candidates drop rapidly in the face of attacks and under the pressure of the moment. If Harris can keep this up, she is positioned to pick up former supporters of any of the top three if they falter.

Klobuchar was the surprise of the night, finally showing some energy and life. Her opening statement carefully presented her case as the Midwestern working mom who can unite the country while advancing liberal policy goals. Cleverly blasting Sanders’s signature Medicare-for-all proposal by saying, “While Bernie wrote the bill, I read the bill,” was a masterstroke. Her closing statement was superb as she argued that only someone from the middle of the country could speak to the middle of the political spectrum.

By Anatoly Merkushov

She won’t gain much in the polls from her performance, but it nonetheless demonstrates how she could break out of the pack. Her standing in Iowa polls is slightly higher than her national standing, and her debate strategy was laser-targeted on the Iowa voter who isn’t a staunch progressive.

Christopher Frizzelle at The Stranger: Kamala Harris Landed One Solid Blow After Another Against Trump.

Kamala Harris may not be my number-one choice for nominee, but hot damn she can land a punch. At a previous debate, she took her prosecutorial skills straight to Joe Biden. Last night, she changed tack and went for Trump, over and over again. In doing so, she demonstrated what kind of adversary she would be in general-election debates against Trump, and probably did herself some favors by making it easier to picture her as the nominee. (Not that “winning” debates against Trump in a general election would necessarily mean beating him: Hillary Clinton’s debate performances were flawless).

See videos of Harris’ attacks on Trump at the link. Here’s her opening statement:

 

On the Biden front, I posted this piece by Jamil Smith in a comment yesterday, but it’s so important that I’m posting again here:

As you can see from these few articles in which I found praise of Harris, she probably will never be accepted as a legitimate candidate by the media or the “Justice Democrats,” who favor Sanders and Warren. But it’s possible she could attract the black vote if Biden drops out. And we need the black vote.

Rolling Stone: Why It’s Time for Joe to Go.

Donald Trump is not merely a bully, but a racist one. Bigotry has been the marrow of his presidency, so whoever hopes to face him next year will need to at least be fluent in the language of antiracism, if not be practicing it. It is not enough, as author Ibram X. Kendi writes in his new book How to Be an Antiracist, to simply claim that you are “not a racist.” Democrats, particularly white liberals, have skated on that for generations. There is too much institutional cruelty for the next president to undo should a Democrat defeat Trump next fall….

By Robert Romanowicz

Thankfully, ABC seemed to understand this. They had excellent moderators, including Univision’s Jorge Ramos and ABC correspondent Linsey Davis, the panel’s only African American. She asked several questions of the entire field that provoked the kind of frank and open discussion of black concerns and political interests that is rare for a presidential debate. It was fitting, given the setting on the historically black campus of Texas Southern University, but also because Davis said that young black voters consider racism their chief concern….

Davis…directed a question at Biden concerning his alarming 1975 comments on school segregation. She read the full quote, “I don’t feel responsible for the sins of my father and grandfather, I feel responsible for what the situation is today, for the sins of my own generation, and I’ll be damned if I feel responsible to pay for what happened 300 years ago,” and Biden smirked oddly as she did so. The correspondent followed up by asking, “What responsibility do you think that Americans need to take to repair the legacy of slavery in our country?” Without missing a beat, the Democratic front-runner delivered a response that was considerably more disqualifying than anything Castro said all night.

Having just had something offensive that he said 44 years ago quoted back to him, Biden took the opportunity to say something that was arguably worse.

Night City by Marija Jevtic

After proposing that teacher raises are the first step to undoing the legacy of slavery, Biden said the following. It’s worth reading in full.

Number two, make sure that we bring in to help the teachers deal with the problems that come from home. The problems that come from home, we need — we have one school psychologist for every 1,500 kids in America today. It’s crazy.

The teachers are — I’m married to a teacher. My deceased wife is a teacher. They have every problem coming to them. We have — make sure that every single child does, in fact, have 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds go to school. School. Not daycare. School. We bring social workers into homes and parents to help them deal with how to raise their children.

It’s not that they don’t want to help. They don’t — they don’t know quite what to do. Play the radio, make sure the television — excuse me, make sure you have the record player on at night, the — the — make sure that kids hear words. A kid coming from a very poor school — a very poor background will hear 4 million words fewer spoken by the time they get there.

That’s the current front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination a) first appearing to treat the mere mention of an old segregationist quote of his as ridiculous, then b) responding to a question about repairing the legacy of slavery by saying that the government needs to have teachers go into the homes of kids in poor schools to teach the parents how to raise those children. And what color are the children, disproportionately, going to those poor schools? Nowhere in that answer is a prescription for making the poor families less so, nor for improving the schools. It’s the kind of paternalistic racism that has so long existed in both liberal and conservative circles, and was on Thursday night spilling out of the mouth of the former vice president on the campus of an HBCU. It was all quite a sight to behold.

Theophile Steinlen lithograph, 1909

Jamil Smith is right. We need an anti-racist candidate if we are going to defeat Trump. Biden can’t pass that test, and so far Warren hasn’t done it either. I guess we’ll find out if she has it in her as time goes on, but so far what we have is her claim of Native Americans blood that offended actual Native Americans and the fact that Trump will repeatedly call her “Pocahantas” in the general election campaign if she’s the nominee.

Jonathan Chait has an interesting argument about what may be happening in the Democratic primary race: What If the Only Democrat Who Isn’t Too Radical to Win Is Too Old?

Here is a science-fiction scenario: Imagine a strange new virus that incapacitates everybody below the age of 75. The virus wipes out the entire political leadership, except one old man, who has survived on account of his age, but may also be too old to handle the awesome task before him.

Now suppose — and I am not certain this is the case, but just suppose — that this is happening to the Democratic presidential campaign. The virus is Twitter, and the old man is (duh) Joe Biden.

Apparently Chait doesn’t see Sanders as a Democrat, and I agree with him. Chait argues that after 2016, liberal Democrats bought into the notion that, based on Bernie Sanders’ performance in the primaries, voters were ready to embrace the most progressive ideas and policies and that Trump’s election proved that “a nominee with extreme positions could still win.”

Dan Casado 2012

Neither of these conclusions was actually correct. The Bernie Sanders vote encompassed voters who opposed Hillary Clinton for a wide array of reasons — including that she was too liberal — and were overall slightly to the right of Clinton voters. And political-science findings that general election voters tend to punish more ideologically extreme candidates remain very much intact. (Trump benefited greatly by distancing himself rhetorically from his party’s unpopular small-government positions, and voters saw him as more moderate than previous Republican nominees, even though he predictably reverted to partisan form once in office.)

And yet, this analysis seemed to race unchallenged through the Democratic Party from about 2016 — it seemed to influence Clinton, who declined the traditional lurch toward the center after vanquishing Sanders — through this year.

Of course after Trump won, the media and many Democrats bought into the idea that they needed to work harder to win over white working class voters, but Chait doesn’t mention that.

Nowhere was the gap between perception and reality more dramatic than on health care. In the run-up to the primary, most of the field signed on to Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for All plan. Sanders had not managed to work out solutions to the obstacles that have bedeviled single-payer health-care supporters for decades: How to assure Americans who currently have employer-sponsored insurance to accept higher taxes and that they’ll be happier on a public plan.

Engraving, 19th century, by George White, Vermont.

Kamala Harris has had second thoughts, and has twisted herself into a pretzel trying to wriggle away from the proposal. Cory Booker has largely avoided discussing it. Elizabeth Warren was signaling last year that she would support more moderate reforms, but has instead handcuffed herself to the Sanders plan.

The vulnerabilities of this position have been on bright display in every Democratic debate. Neither Warren nor Sanders could supply a coherent response to the question of whether middle-class voters would pay higher taxes or whether they would like being moved off their employer plan. “I’ve never met anybody who likes their health-insurance company,” Warren insisted, eliding the clear reality that most people who have employer-sponsored insurance do like it. When asked about higher taxes, they dodged by changing the question to total costs. And while it’s probably true that they could design a plan where higher wages — by taking insurance off the company books — would cancel out the high taxes, neither inspired confidence that they could persuade skeptical voters they’d come out ahead in the deal.

The odd thing about this race to the left is that there’s little evidence it appeals to the primary electorate, let alone the general election version. Democrats strongly support universal coverage, but have lukewarm feelings on the mechanism to attain this. They prefer reforms that involve a combination of public and private options over the Bernie movement’s manic obsession with crushing private health insurance.

This applies as well to the party’s general ideological orientation. More Democratic voters express concern the party will nominate a candidate who’s too liberal (49 percent) than one who’s not liberal enough (41 percent). By a similar 54–41 margin, more Democrats want their party to move toward the center than toward the left.

It’s an interesting article and there’s more at the link. I don’t agree with Chait on everything, but I do think Democrats need to think carefully about whether focusing on unrealistic policies that will never get through Congress instead of on the dangers of a Trump second term is a winning strategy.

This post is too long, but I want to call attention to one more important article by Dahlia Lithwick at Slate: What Happens if Trump Won’t Step Down? National security expert Josh Geltzer on why we should be prepared for the worst.

Min Zhen, The Black Cat, 18th century, Princeton University Art Museum

In February, Georgetown Law professor Josh Geltzer began to ponder aloud what would happen if President Donald Trump refused to leave office were he to be defeated in 2020. It sounded far-fetched, but Geltzer isn’t a conspiracy theorist. Actually, he served as senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council and, prior to that, as deputy legal adviser to the NSC and counsel to the assistant attorney general for national security. When he wrote his essay suggesting that perhaps it was time to start preparing for if Trump, who has repeatedly shown a willingness to overstep his constitutional authority, simply refused to leave the Oval Office, he was met with silence. When Michael Cohen warned in his March testimony before Congress, “given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 there will never be a peaceful transition of power,” he too was met with awkward silence. But the anxieties gradually began to grow. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi fretted about this possibility in a May interview in the New York Times. When Politico probed the question this summer, it noted: “Constitutional experts and top Republican lawmakers dismiss the fears as nonsense, noting there are too many forces working against a sitting president simply clinging to power—including history, law and political pressure.” But commentators now seem less confident in those forces.

On Thursday, Edward Luce at the Financial Times noted how often Trump jokes about having a third term, observing that, because of Trump’s belief that he could face prosecution after he leaves office, “no other US president has faced the prospect of being re-elected or going to jail.” He added that for Trump, losing the 2020 election is an existential threat, and he has openly invited foreign interference, while Mitch McConnell refuses to even consider legislation to secure the vote. And even if Trump is truly joking when he tweets that he deserves to be credited two extra years in his existing term, years he believes were lost to the Mueller probe, or riffs on staying on the job long after he’d been term-limited out, the tweets send a dangerous message to his loyalists.

Please go read the whole thing.

So . . . what stories are you following? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a peaceful, relaxing weekend.


Friday the 13th Full Moon Reads: Full on Fury

Image result for Biden comics Good Morning Sky Dancers!

It’s going to be an interesting Day! #FridayThe13th coincides with the full moon for the first time since 2000,   So why is Friday the 13th so unlucky?  Yeah, well, guess where most of our superstitions come from?  If you said Christianity you were right!

And, it may have started early last night at the debates and the doddering old white grandpas on the stage and in the press who proved they’re still back in the 20th century.  I about dropped my wine glass when I heard Chris Matthews discuss the concerns of the Democratic Base with Corey Booker and let slip the old school, objectification term “coloreds”.  Matthews and Biden still seem to think that there’s some elusive white male working unicorn class out there like their “dads” that will come to the calming old school, whitie tightie, lexicon.  Meanwhile, they both bungle forwards while stuck in the 60s with Bernie and his throwback Berners.

I love this headline by AP’s Julie Pace: “Analysis: Biden looks like a front-runner, until he doesn’t”. He may wind up writing a thank you note to Julian Castro because the only thing that made him look sympathetic was Castro’s performance.

But the debate was punctuated by moments that highlighted why Biden can’t shake questions about his consistency and whispers about his fitness for office, despite his lead in most national polls and early state surveys. Most glaringly: a meandering answer near the end of the debate about his past statements on racial inequality. Biden said poor parents should play the “record player” for their children before veering off into comments about Venezuela.

Biden’s standing in the Democratic contest is the source of much debate within the party. Is he an experienced elder statesman who can calm an anxious nation and peel back some of the white working class voters who helped send President Donald Trump to the White House? Or is the 76-year-old past his prime and out of step with a party that’s growing younger, more diverse and more liberal?

To move further down the analysis:

Perhaps mindful of that reality, most candidates sidestepped overt criticism of the vice president in Thursday’s debate.

The one notable exception was Julián Castro, who served as Obama’s housing secretary and is in need of a jolt to break out of the lower tier of candidates. In a highly charged moment, Castro challenged Biden’s memory — a barely veiled reference to questions about the former vice president’s age.

Airtime consumed by the candidates in Thursday’s debate. (AP Graphics)

“Are you forgetting already what you just said two minutes ago?” Castro said during an exchange on health care.

In a post-debate interview, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker laid into Biden as well, saying there were many people concerned about Biden’s ability to carry the ball “across the end line without fumbling.”

Castro and Booker were zeroing in on real questions that are being asked about Biden. Is he too old to serve as president? If he were the nominee, would he make a mistake at a critical moment that could clear the way for Trump?

Biden’s stumbles later in the debate magnified those questions. He struggled through an answer about the war in Iraq and gave a grab-bag answer to a question about how to repair the legacy of slavery in America. He appeared to suggest that poorer families needed help learning how to raise their children.

Biden’s supporters argue that ultimately, those answers — and the questions they raise — matter less to voters than their overall impressions of the former vice president. Indeed, there is a deep reservoir of goodwill for Biden in the Democratic Party, shaped in large part by the eight years he served as Obama’s No. 2.

Image result for cartoons Cory Booker I do agree that the best questions of the night came for Jorge Ramos.  However, I’m still highly disappointed that we got no particular information focused on women.

Ramos then turned to New Jersey Senator Cory Booker with one of the most distinctive questions asked so far in the 2020 debate season: “After the recent fires in the Amazon, some experts suggested that eating less meat is one way to help the environment. You are a vegan since 2014. That’s obviously a personal choice, but President Trump and Brazil’s President Bolsonaro are concerned that climate change regulations could affect economic growth. So should more Americans, including those here in Texas, and in Iowa, follow your diet?”

That drew laughs. Booker got even more laughs when he said, “First of all, I want to say no. Actually, I want to translate that into Spanish: No.”

Image result for elizabeth warren comics I also found this analysis interesting from Buzzfeed: “The Real Democratic Primary Starts Now. And It’s All About Elizabeth Warren.“If I could be any candidate right now, I would want to be her.” by Ruby Crame and Ben Smith.

It’s impossible, stupid, and likely embarrassing to predict who is going to win the Democratic presidential primary.

But it’s already become clear who has shaped it: Elizabeth Warren.

Warren, the 70-year-old Massachusetts senator, has put her agenda for structural change at the center of the 2020 campaign, helping turn the party’s center into its right and its radical left into a plausible alternative. She’s set the standard for how you run a presidential campaign and watched her rivals — including the men who typically place ahead of her in the polls — imitate her tactics. She’s the focus of public panic on Wall Street and public attacks from the Democratic Party’s old guard. And as she ticks upward in public polling, she’s also benefiting from a remarkable consensus among the Democratic Party’s professional class, according to interviews with a dozen veterans of presidential politics this week, that she is on her way to becoming the candidate to beat.

In the days before Thursday’s debate here in Texas — a moment that marked the start of a tighter, more competitive fight for the Democratic nomination — Joe Biden and his allies telegraphed a series of new talking points, all seemingly aimed at Warren. That same day, a viral clip showed a CNBC panel voice genuine panic about a Warren presidency: “You talk to executives,” said host Jim Cramer, “they’re more fearful of her winning — I mean I’ve never heard anybody say, ‘Look! Uh, she’s gotta be stopped! She’s gotta be stopped!’” A Wall Street Journal editorial followed the next morning.

Onstage in Houston, Warren commanded the most speaking time alongside Biden, putting herself at the center of policy debates on health care while staying out of the most personal arguments between candidates. Her preparation for the third round of Democratic debates on Thursday, her aides have said, did not deviate much from the first and second rounds beyond one key difference: preparing for her opponents to turn their criticism in her direction.

“I know that the senator says that she’s for Bernie, well, I’m for Barack,” Biden said in the first answer of the night, in response to a question about whether Warren and Bernie Sanders are pushing too far left.

Warren, in her response, cut off the idea that she was out to undo Obama’s legacy. “We all owe a huge debt to President Obama, who fundamentally transformed health care in America and committed this country to health care for every human being,” she said. “And now the question is, how best can we improve on it?”

Image result for Cartoons JulIan Castro Trump’s epic physical and mental decline was on full display last night for any one that cares. Matt Fuller of HuffPo writes”Trump Gives A Rambling Mess Of A Speech At The GOP’s Baltimore Retreat — And He’s A Hit. The takeover of the Republican Party is complete.

Trump took the stage clapping along with his excited GOP audience, and he really never stopped praising himself. He cheered his administration’s repeal on Thursday of clean water regulations, while also congratulating himself for what he claimed is the nation’s cleanest water and air in the last 25 years. He cheered the Senate’s confirmation Thursday of his 150th nominee to federal courts. And he lauded the economy that has produced low unemployment rates for minorities.

But far from running through a scripted checklist of accomplishments, Trump delivered a largely extemporaneous ― often bizarre ― speech about, among many other topics, the Democratic presidential candidates, immigration, the 2020 campaign, the 2016 election, the border wall, even cowboy hats.

Trump also told a story about an old business rival that he used to hate and, he said, who used to hate him. He noted that the old rival — who he did not name — was now working to get Trump reelected. He ended the story by remarking that, with the crop of Democrats vying to win the nomination, this old enemy didn’t have a choice but to support him.

“Our country will go to hell if any of these people” win the White House, Trump told the Republicans.

Trump dinged Democrats for their immigration policies ― and spent a considerable amount of time joking about the name of one of the party’s presidential candidates, Pete Buttigieg. But he also praised Democrats for their unity. “We have to stick together like they do,” Trump said.

If the president had any concerns that Republican House members ― who lost their majority in last year’s midterm in a voter rebuke of Trump ― might bail on him, his audience was there to assure him there was no reason to be worried.

As Trump departed the stage to his usual campaign sign-off song, The Rolling Stones “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stopped the music to deliver a message. “We’re with you, we’ll never get tired of winning, and we’ll always put America first,” the Californian said.

Mind you: Trump had cracked minutes before that the husky McCarthy was somewhat bovine. The joke came as Trump claimed, falsely, that the Green New Deal pushed by some progressive lawmakers would result in “no more cows, no more planes, I guess no more people.”

“Because Kevin is just like a cow, just smaller,” Trump continued. He added that he couldn’t resist the attempt at humor and he picked McCarthy because he saw his “beautiful” face smiling at him.

Well, those are some things I found but I’m sure we’ll be hearing about it all day.  The only thing I haven’t written about today is the Andy McCabe situation.

I think we can clearly call this a DOJ political witch hunt but more stuff will come out I’m sure.

So, join me around the potion kettle tonight and howl at the moon a few times!

What’s on you’re reading and blogging list today?


We’re watching the Debate. Are you?

The debate is on your local ABC affiiate. And, it’s interesting already! Immigration is front and center! What is your family story?


Thursday Reads: Good, Bad, and Very Ugly

Good Afternoon!!

Some things that made me smile yesterday:

HuffPost: Hillary Clinton Spent An Hour Reading Her Emails At A Mock Resolute Desk For Art.
Hillary Clinton paid a visit to an art exhibition in Venice, Italy, that involved her sitting at a mock Resolute Desk and reading copies of her now-infamous emails.

Images cropped up online Wednesday showing the 2016 Democratic nominee for president in Despar Teatro Italia, which is currently hosting a solo exhibition by the artist and poet Kenneth Goldsmith called “HILLARY: The Hillary Clinton Emails.”

Goldsmith told HuffPost via email that Clinton’s visit “was a surprise,” while curator Francesco Urbano Ragazzi said organizers thought the possibility of her visiting was a joke.

“Someone close to Mrs. Clinton contacted us very informally a few days before her visit. We realized that it wasn’t a joke only when we saw the security service inside the exhibition space at 9 am on Tuesday,” they told HuffPost via email….

Goldsmith’s exhibition makes public “for the first time in printed format” some 60,000 pages of Clinton’s emails, which, per WikiLeaks, “were sent from the domain clintonemail.com between 2009 and 2013,” according to the description from exhibit co-organizer Zuecca Projects….

“Everybody was very excited [during Clinton’s visit],” Urbano Ragazzi said. “I think the scene was so extraordinary that many customers believed that she was just a lookalike at first.” [….]

The artist shared on Twitter that Clinton read her emails for an hour and, per a translation from an Italian news outlet, said: “This exhibition is further proof that nothing wrong or controversial can be found on these emails. It makes them accessible to everyone and allows everyone to read them.”

He also recalled Clinton saying, as an aside, to Urbano Ragazzi: “They are just so boring.”

If only so many in the media hadn’t been determined to destroy her, we could have had a competent president with a sense of humor.

Thanks to Dakinikat for alerting me to this important message from NBC’s Katy Tur, who returned from maternity leave yesterday. On her show yesterday, she passionately for paid maternity leave for working mothers and fathers.

Democratic debate tonight

The third Democratic Debate airs tonight from 8-11PM on ABC and Univision. CNN:

The third Democratic presidential debate takes place tonight in Houston, with former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts sharing the debate stage for the first time this cycle, having previously avoided a direct confrontation as a result of the random draw process.

Democratic voters will see the current top three candidates — Biden, Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont — share the stage together, setting up the ideological battle in the nominating race between the more moderate and progressive wings of the party.

For most of the other seven candidates sharing the stage, who have either failed to break into the top tier or have seen their positions stall in the Democratic race, the debate will be another chance to inject their candidacies with much-needed momentum heading into the fall sprint ahead of the first contests early next year.</

The media have decreed that our choices are between two ancient white men and a 70-year-old woman who agrees with Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump on Trade and on supporting primary challengers to Democratic incumbents.

The full list of candidates who qualified for tonight’s debate:

Former Vice President Joe Biden
Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro
Sen. Kamala Harris of California
Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts
Businessman Andrew Yang

Impeachment news:

NBC News: Impeachment inquiry ramps up as Judiciary panel adopts procedural guidelines.

The House Judiciary Committee took a big step Thursday morning in its ongoing investigation into whether to recommend the filing of articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, passing a resolution that set procedures and rules for future impeachment investigation hearings.

The resolution passed along party lines, 24-17.

“But let me clear up any remaining doubt: The conduct under investigation poses a threat to our democracy. We have an obligation to respond to this threat. And we are doing so.”

Earlier this week, Nadler told NBC News that the purpose of the resolution was to put into effect “certain procedures to make that investigation more effective,” a necessary move given that “the inquiry is getting more serious.”

Under the resolution, which does not need to be approved by the full House, Nadler can designate hearings run by the full committee and its subcommittees as part of the impeachment investigation. The committee’s lawyers are also able to question witnesses for an additional hour beyond the five minutes that are allotted to each member of Congress on the panel.

“Some call this process an impeachment inquiry. Some call it an impeachment investigation. There is no legal difference between these terms, and I no longer care to argue about the nomenclature,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said in his opening statement Thursday.

Read more at the link.

At Bloomberg, Jonathan Bernstein critiques the Democrats’ impeachment efforts: Why Are Democrats in Disarray Over Impeachment?

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are planning a step Thursday to make their de facto impeachment inquiry into something more formal. They’re doing it, however, in what Greg Sargent describes as a “muddle.” He has it right: This isn’t a messaging failure as much as it is a substantive one.

The basic problem is that House Democrats can’t seem to agree on where their impeachment effort stands. Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler says that “formal impeachment proceedings” are underway. Others, including in the House leadership, have expressed much more ambiguous views of what’s happening.

A few things are contributing to this muddle. One is a push from many party actors who basically judge everything short of impeaching President Donald Trump as a total flop – a position that I still think doesn’t make much sense. Another is that some House Democrats in tough districts are overly cautious about taking on the president. But perhaps the biggest factor is that the Democrats have had a majority in the House for more than nine months now and have at best managed to produce a handful of memorable moments in oversight hearings on Trump’s many scandals and general lawlessness. At best. Maybe.

Some impeachment-or-nothing advocates suspect that this is all part of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s secret scheme to avoid impeachment altogether – that she fears effective oversight hearings because they’d inevitably lead to more calls for ousting the president. But a better explanation is simple incompetence. Successful hearings would in fact help resolve Pelosi’s difficult choices. There’s an outside possibility that they could shift some Republicans toward supporting impeachment. But even if they didn’t, the House leadership could explain that continued hearings would actually be more effective than a symbolic impeachment vote. That’s an argument that won’t convince anyone right now because no one thinks the hearings to date have had any effect.

Of course Trump has effectively been stonewalling Democrats’ efforts to obtain evidence and witness testimony.

To be fair: Trump’s stonewalling of legitimate House oversight is unprecedented, and a legitimate reason for impeachment and removal from office. The House has never had to deal with anything this extreme, and is fighting back in court. But there’s simply no excuse for their failure to dramatize Trump’s misconduct in ways that would really catch the attention of voters.

There’s still the problem I’ve discussed before, and that Sargent addresses in his item, that an impeachment inquiry really does imply an eventual next step of either clearing the president or moving to a vote, and Democrats probably don’t want to do either right now. But muddling through sometimes works out in the long run even if it looks like a mess to careful observers. Remember that hardly any voters are paying attention to anything Congress does, including impeachment investigations or inquiries or whatever they want to call it.

Whether there’s a train wreck ahead for Democrats or not, figuring out how to hold effective hearings would help in the meantime. Eventually, it’s really going to take some better results from Nadler and the rest of his party.

Read the rest at Bloomberg Opinion..

Now for the bad (AKA Trump) news, links only

The New York Times: Supreme Court Says Trump Can Bar Asylum Seekers While Legal Fight Continues.

Mother Jones: The Supreme Court Just Made It Virtually Impossible for Anyone to Seek Asylum at the Border.

The New York Times: Trump Pressed Top Aide to Have Weather Service ‘Clarify’ Forecast That Contradicted Trump.

Newsweek: ICE Is Building a ‘State-of-the-Art’ ‘Urban Warfare’ Training Facility that Will Include ‘Hyper-Realistic’ Simulations of Homes in Chicago and Arizona.

The New York Times: Trump Administration to Finalize Rollback of Clean Water Protections.

The Washington Post: ‘You’re a prop in the back’: Advisers struggle to obey Trump’s Kafkaesque rules.

The Daily Beast: Trump Flirts With $15 Billion Bailout for Iran, Sources Say.

The Washington Post: ‘I don’t blame Kim Jong Un’: In dismissing Bolton, Trump sides with North Korean leader — again.

Trump wants to open concentration camps for homeless people:

The Washington Post: Trump officials tour unused FAA facility in California in search for place to relocate homeless people.

The New York Times: Trump Eyes Crackdown on Homelessness as Aides Visit California.

KRON4: San Francisco mayor, advocates address Trump Admin’s crackdown on homelessness.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a nice Thursday!