Lazy Caturday Reads

Dali Atomicus, by Salvador Dali and Philippe-Halsman (photographer)

Good Morning!!

I would love to know who is leaking info about Michael Flynn. Apparently Flynn reached out to Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz while he was supposedly cooperating with the Mueller investigation.

CNN: Flynn contacted GOP Mueller critic while cooperating with special counsel.

While he was cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn contacted at least one member of Congress who was publicly criticizing the special counsel probe, according to messages obtained by CNN.

Flynn sent Twitter direct messages to Rep. Matt Gaetz, encouraging the Florida Republican to “keep the pressure on.” It’s not clear if Flynn sent additional messages to other lawmakers.
“You stay on top of what you’re doing. Your leadership is so vital for our country now. Keep the pressure on,” Flynn wrote in an April 2018 message to Gaetz, which was obtained by CNN.

By Amy Hill

On the evening Flynn sent the message to Gaetz, the lawmaker had appeared on Fox Business’ “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” where he criticized the Mueller investigation.

“We’ve got to play a far stronger role in exposing the hypocrisy at the Department of Justice,” Gaetz said in the April 3, 2018, appearance. “With no evidence of collusion, with no evidence of any crime whatsoever, they unleashed Bob Mueller to go investigate things that happened before Donald Trump was even contemplating running for president.”

That same hour, Flynn sent Gaetz the direct message.

Gaetz also received a message in February of this year. On the day that Attorney General William Barr was confirmed, Flynn sent Gaetz GIFs of a bald eagle and an American flag, without any accompanying text.

Flynn is still “cooperating,” and he hasn’t been sentenced yet. As Dakinikat wrote yesterday, new information has been revealed by order of the judge in Flynn’s case Emmet Sullivan. Did the DOJ leak the incriminating info about Flynn contacting Gaetz in response to the new Mueller report info to make Flynn look bad? I wonder what Judge Sullivan will have to say about this?

There’s also this Devin Nunes tweet from 2016:

Here’s another interesting story I missed from a couple of days ago. This one is about Felix Sater, who was involved with Trump for years and, along with Michael Cohen working on the Trump Tower Moscow project.

Natasha Bertrand at Politico: Judge confirms Trump associate gave feds Osama bin Laden’s number.

A federal judge has confirmed for the first time that Felix Sater, a former Donald Trump business associate who drove Trump Tower Moscow negotiations during the 2016 election, helped the U.S. government track down Osama bin Laden.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Percy, by David Hockney, 1970-71

During a hearing on Thursday in the Eastern District of New York — held as part of a lawsuit brought by First Look Media to unseal records related to Sater’s longtime cooperation with the government on various national security issues — Judge I. Leo Glasser said the media group already knew all of the “very interesting and dangerous things” Sater had done through his decade as an FBI informant.

“He cooperated,” Glasser said. “And you know what he did over the 10, 11 years, because you told me that you know. He provided the telephone number of Osama bin Laden. He has done an awful lot of very interesting and dangerous things.”

The detail is just another bizarre side plot that has emerged over the two-plus years that federal investigators, lawmakers and journalists have tried to uncover every detail about possible interactions between the Trump campaign and Russian intermediaries during the 2016 election. The probes have put spotlights on a cast of figures in Trump’s extended orbit, many of whom possess unusual backgrounds.

Trump’s “Roy Cohn” AKA Cover-Up General Bill Barr appeared on state TV on Friday to publicly trash the investigation into Russia’s interference in our elections.

Charlie Savage at The New York Times: Barr Again Casts Doubt on Russia Inquiry’s Origins, Aligning With Trump’s Attacks.

Still Life with Cat And Lobster 1962 Painting by Pablo Picasso; Still Life with Cat And Lobster 1962 Art Print for sale

When Attorney General William P. Barr described the early stages of the Russia investigation as “spying” on the Trump campaign, he prompted questions about whether he had used that word spontaneously — or whether he was deliberately fueling conspiracy theories.

That question flared anew on Friday after Mr. Barr went even further in casting doubt on the legitimacy of the investigation in two interviews that, by design or coincidence, provided fresh ammunition for President Trump and allies to attack law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

Mr. Barr told Fox News he had been asking whether “government officials abused their power and put their thumb on the scale” in opening the Russia inquiry. “A lot of the answers have been inadequate and some of the explanations I’ve gotten don’t hang together,” he added.

And he doubled down on the innuendo-laden formulation he used in congressional testimony last month, telling The Wall Street Journal, “Government power was used to spy on American citizens.”

The statements were the latest in a series of actions and comments by Mr. Barr expressing skepticism about how the F.B.I. began investigating during the 2016 presidential campaign whether any Trump associates conspired with Russia’s election interference. The attorney general has appointed a federal prosecutor to review aspects of the investigation, rather than await the results of an independent inspector general inquiry due in the coming weeks, and he has invoked the term “spying” on multiple occasions.

Grey Matter, by Amy Jo Hill

Are we stuck with Joe Biden as the 2020 Democratic nominee for president? The media in general seems to believe he’s the anointed one. But anointed by whom? Obama hasn’t endorsed him. Who really wants this guy to be POTUS?

Jill Filipovic at The New York Times: Does Anyone Actually Want Joe Biden to Be President?

The most important requirement for the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee? Electability. It matters more, we keep hearing, than nominating a candidate who has good policies. It matters more than nominating a candidate with a track record of passing progressive legislation. It certainly matters more than nominating a candidate who could be the first female president.

Unfortunately, very few people who say they are putting electability first seem to understand what “electability” means, or what today’s electorate actually looks like.

Case in point: In a field crowded with nearly two dozen candidates, no answer to the electability question is offered more regularly and with more conviction than “Joe Biden.”

Mr. Biden, whose campaign officially kicks of this Saturday in Philadelphia, is the kind of guy you could see sitting behind a big desk, acting as a wise custodian of our democracy without posing any threat of changing much. He is from one of those scrappy Rust Belt cities fetishized by so many pundits — people who believe that the imaginary working-class white voter who is going to deliver the White House to the Democrats wants Joe Biden, which is what, in turn, makes Joe Biden electable.

But what about the rest of us–Democrats who aren’t white males living in the rust belt? What about women who still dream of a women president in their lifetimes? We don’t count when it comes to “electability” supposedly. Read more at the NYT.

At The Daily Beast, Adam Howard tries to explain Biden’s current appeal to African Americans: Why Black Voters Are Gravitating to Biden.

Haiku, by Albena Vatcheva

Now, with Obama’s blessing if not his formal endorsement, Biden has sought the presidency himself for the third time in 30 years, and this time, he’s enjoying a solid and in some case growing lead over a historically huge field of Democratic contenders. The backbone of his support comes from the most reliable and one of the most coveted Democratic primary voting blocs: African-Americans.

Most of the cable news commentary has approached this fact with the condescending assertion that Biden’s black support is mostly due to name recognition and his proximity to Obama. Some have suggested that older black voters, who are traditionally more moderate, may be attracted to his centrism.

But these hot takes overlook something less tangible and quantifiable: how much the sincere, integrated friendship of Biden and Obama (and their families) was cathartic and inspirational. It was the personification of the post-racial utopia some hoped Obama’s election victories would deliver but never did, and probably never could.

Their platonic bromance provided comfort during the confounding period when Obama’s popularity seemed to grow simultaneously with the rise and improbable election of a man who championed a racist campaign to discredit him.

Howard suggests that Biden could loose African American support as the campaign goes on. He doesn’t specifically address the attitudes of black women or provide any evidence for his arguments. The piece is based on his own personal opinions. I guess we’re just going to have to wait and see.

I’ll end with this article at The Washington Post on Nevada, where women are now in control of the legislature: Where women call the shots.

by Amy Hill

She didn’t plan to say it. Yvanna Cancela, a newly elected Democrat in the Nevada Senate, didn’t want to “sound crass.” But when a Republican colleague defended a century-old law requiring doctors to ask women seeking abortions whether they’re married, Cancela couldn’t help firing back.

“A man is not asked his marital status before he gets a vasectomy,” she countered — and the packed hearing room fell silent.

Since Nevada seated the nation’s first majority-female state legislature in January, the male old guard has been shaken up by the perspectives of female lawmakers. Bills prioritizing women’s health and safety have soared to the top of the agenda. Mounting reports of sexual harassment have led one male lawmaker to resign. And policy debates long dominated by men, including prison reform and gun safety, are yielding to female voices.

Cancela, 32, is part of the wave of women elected by both parties in November, many of them younger than 40. Today, women hold the majority with 23 seats in the Assembly and 10 in the Senate, or a combined 52 percent.

No other legislature has achieved that milestone in U.S. history. Only Colorado comes close, with women constituting 47 percent of its legislators. In Congress, just one in four lawmakers is a woman. And in Alabama, which just enacted an almost complete ban on abortion, women make up just 15 percent of lawmakers.

The female majority is having a huge effect: More than 17 pending bills deal with sexual assault, sex trafficking and sexual misconduct, with some measures aimed at making it easier to prosecute offenders. Bills to ban child marriage and examine the causes of maternal mortality are also on the docket.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

So . . . what else is happening? What stories are you following today?


Lazy Saturday Reads: Trump’s Epic Meltdown Continues

Matisse-Woman-Reading-with-Tea1

Good Afternoon!!

Yesterday, Trump fan Chris Matthews devoted much of his 7PM Hardball program to praising Donald Trump’s supposed “modulation” of his “tone.” By the time the rerun of the program aired at 10PM, it was already obsolete. Trump had given a speech in Michigan in which he blatantly lied about the state’s economy and delivered more stunning insults to black voters while speaking to a nearly all-white audience. The Detroit News reports:

DIMONDALE — On his second visit to Michigan in two weeks, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Friday blasted Democratic policies he said have destroyed Detroit and other urban centers and called for African Americans to support him, saying blacks cannot expect change otherwise….

Trump’s remarks, however, seemed somewhat out of place, given that he was delivering it in a hall outside Lansing, halfway across the state from the Detroit. He also hammered away on a message than Michigan manufacturing is in the dumps, just days after Gov. Rick Snyder — also a Republican — noted that unemployment in the state has dropped to its lowest levels since the early 2000s.

“Your business and plants have been ripped out,” said Trump, who repeated earlier promises to stop manufacturing from leaving Michigan — even though auto jobs are up sharply since the depths of the 2007-9 recession….

Trump said “the Michigan manufacturing sector is a disaster,” and no sector has been hurt more by “Hillary Clinton’s policies than the auto sector,” statements which seemed to ignore that since the rescue of General Motors and Chrysler in 2008-9, auto manufacturing jobs in Michigan have grown from 22,800 to 38,200 and auto parts jobs also have grown, from 73,400 to 162,800.

Artist unknown

Artist unknown

Trump’s message to black voters:

“What do you have to lose by trying something new like Trump?” he asked of blacks.

Trump noted that Detroit is the most violent city in America — a statistic he didn’t back up but Detroit does show up at or near the top of lists of major cities in terms of violent crime and murders — and said he could work changes on the city if elected. A recent EPIC-MRA poll reported by the Free Press last week showed Trump behind Clinton in Michigan by a margin on 85%-2%, with 10% undecided.

“It’s time to hold Democratic politicians accountable for what they have done to these communities,” Trump said. “At what point do we say enough?”

“I will produce for the African Americans,” he said. “All the Democrats have done is taken advantage of your vote. … You have nothing to lose.”

But that’s not all. Trump went off-script with these lovely remarks (h/t Slate):

“What do you have to lose by trying something new like Trump?” he said. “What do you have to lose? You’re living in poverty; your schools are no good; you have no jobs; 58 percent of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?”

Never mind that Trump—who recently polled at 1 percent among black voters in a nationwide survey—was treating black people as a monolithic group of poor, unemployed people. His ad-libbed “what the hell do you have to lose” line sounded very much like Trump thinks he knows what’s better for black voters than they know for themselves….

There were other moments where Trump veered wildly off-script in a way that seemed absurd. Specifically, Trump said that he would not just win this election, but win re-election in 2020 with 95 percent of black voters supporting him—again, earlier this month Trump’s polling among black voters was somewhere between 1 and 4 percent.

“At the end of four years, I guarantee you that I will get 95 percent of the African-American vote,” he said. “I promise you, because I will produce for the inner cities and I will produce for the African-Americans.”

Darren Thompson

Darren Thompson

Cable news commentators are speculating that these disgusting remarks about black people are probably aimed at college-educated Republican women who have abandoned Trump in droves. I can’t imagine it will work.

Philip Bump responded to some of the charges made by Trump: It’s hard to imagine a much worse pitch Donald Trump could have made for the black vote.

Consider: Black Americans are not “living in poverty” as a general rule. A quarter of the black population is, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, about the same as the percentage of Hispanics. In Michigan, the figure is slightly higher. Most black Americans don’t live in poverty, just as most white Americans don’t.

Consider: The unemployment rate in the black community is higher than that in the white community, as it has been since the Department of Labor started keeping track. Among young blacks, though, the figure is not 59 percent — unless (as Politifact noted) you consider not the labor force butevery young black American, including high school students. Many young black high school students are unemployed. This isn’t a metric that Labor typically uses, for obvious reasons, but calculating the rates for young whites gives you about 50 percent, too.

Consider: Black voters are perfectly able to evaluate candidates on qualities other than their political parties. Black voters began supporting the Democratic Party heavily thanks to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Since then, they have consistently voted for the party — a party that is one-fifth black and which since 1964 has elected the vast majority of the black members of Congress. (This line of argument from Al Sharpton in 2004 is worth a read.) Democrats win the support of black voters consistently because those voters like the work that they do and like the fights that they fight.

When Barack Obama won reelection in 2012, 93 percent of black Americans thought he was doing a good job as president. That’s also the percentage of the vote he received, according to exit polls, beating Mitt Romney by 87 points.

And yet, somehow, Trump is doing worse.

Les Muses, Maurice Denis

Les Muses, Maurice Denis

There’s much more at the Washington Post link above. The gist is that Donald Trump is pathetically ignorant about the lives of African Americans.

Yesterday Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort resigned after being pushed aside in the latest campaign shakeup and after multiple revelations about his involvement with foreign leaders close to Russia. Politico has all the gory details: Inside the fall of Paul Manafort.

According to Politico, Manafort told Trump in early August that the stories coming out about his foreign consulting and lobbying would become a “distraction” and he wanted to come up with a new leadership plan just in case.

Although Manafort told associates that he thought he would be able to weather the controversy, his meeting with Trump nonetheless sparked internal discussions about changes to the campaign’s senior management structure. They included elevating pollster Kellyanne Conway, who had been brought onto the campaign last month, into a more senior role, and also officially bringing on Breitbart News chief Steve Bannon, who had been informally advising people around the campaign for months.

Still, Manafort associates said, he hoped he could ride out the storm and remain with the campaign until the end. That’s despite what the associates characterize as Manafort’s growing frustration with Trump’s unwillingness to embrace advice for a more scripted, measured tone and a greater reliance on more traditional campaign tactics.

But it quickly became clear that Manafort would have to go. More details about the crumbling mess of a campaign at the link.

Cocotte, reading, by Camille Pissarro

Cocotte, reading, by Camille Pissarro

There’s a federal investigation now, and it involves the Podesta Group, which is currently being run by Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s brother. Rosie Gray at Buzzfeed: Top Firms Lawyer Up In Ukraine–Manafort Lobbying Controversy

Two powerful Washington lobbying firms are engaging outside counsel after becoming embroiled in a controversy over undisclosed foreign lobbying by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy.

The situation concerns a period between 2012 and 2014, when the Podesta Group and Mercury Public Affairs worked on behalf the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine. The Brussels-based nonprofit is closely linked to the Party of Regions, the political party of Ukraine’s pro-Russian ex-president Viktor Yanukovych.

Manafort and his associate Rick Gates connected the European Centre with the two firms, according to the AP, which also reported that Gates personally gave instructions to Mercury and Podesta Group employees in a lobbying effort on behalf of Ukrainian officials. At the time, Manafort and Gates were consulting for Yanukovych in Ukraine. The AP’s story showed that Manafort and Gates had acted as unregistered foreign agents, never disclosing their work for the Ukrainians to the Department of Justice, as is required under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

Now, the Podesta Group is acknowledging that the European Centre may have been directed by the Party of Regions and has hired outside lawyers to advise on the situation.

“The firm has retained Caplin & Drysdale as independent, outside legal counsel to determine if we were misled by the Centre for a Modern Ukraine or any other individuals with regard to the Centre’s potential ties to foreign governments or political parties,” Podesta Group CEO Kimberly Fritts said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. “When the Centre became a client, it certified in writing that ‘none of the activities of the Centre are directly or indirectly supervised, directed, controlled, financed or subsidized in whole or in part by a government of a foreign country or a foreign political party.’ We relied on that certification and advice from counsel in registering and reporting under the Lobbying Disclosure Act rather than the Foreign Agents Registration Act. We will take whatever measures are necessary to address this situation based on Caplin & Drysdale’s review, including possible legal action against the Centre.”

Much more at the link.

John L. Wellington

John L. Wellington

As Trump melts down, the media has tried to get voters outraged about “scandals” involving Hillary Clinton’s emails and the Clinton Global Foundation; but so far it’s not working very well. Trump’s high profile flame-out is getting most of the attention. There’s so much happening that I can’t possibly cover all of it, but here are a few more interesting links to check out.

NYT: In Maze of Trump’s Empire, Unknown Ties and $650 Million in Debt.

Sarah Kenzior at Quartz: Donald Trump’s bromance with Vladimir Putin underscores an unsettling truth about the two leaders.

Former Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul at the WaPo: Why Putin wants a Trump victory (so much he might even be trying to help him).

Ruth Marcus at the WaPo: Trump’s Sickening attacks on Clinton’s health.

Daily News Bin: Donald Trump goes to Louisiana flooding site, spends a minute handing out Play-Doh, leaves.

Buzzfeed: Trump Campaign Manager On Manafort: “He Was Asked” To Resign.

Politico: Republicans prep ‘break glass’ emergency plan as Trump tumbles.

Christian Science Monitor: Trump hands his campaign to the ‘alt-right’ movement.

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


Romney Campaign, Spoiled Billionaire Donors Actually Believed They Would Win

Mitt Romney with billionaire donor Sheldon Adelson

I’ve been reading some of post-election articles in which the Village pundits try to explain why Mitt Romney lost the election. Apparently Romney and his campaign staff really did think they were going to win. They were even planning an 8-minute fireworks display over Boston Harbor after Romney won!

While the rest of us were absorbing Nate Silver’s predictions and his logical, math-based explanations of the polls, Republicans were making fun of Silver and convincing themselves that Romney voters were more enthusiastic than Obama voters, that polls were sampling the wrong kinds of voters, and that some magical “Romney wave” would sweep them into power.

At the same time, they didn’t understand that their constant race-baiting, their campaign to suppress Democratic voters, and their war on women’s reproductive rights might arouse some anger among the groups they disrespected–anger that could turn into a steely determination to get out and vote no matter how difficult it turned out to be.

In Politico’s summing up, “Romneyworld reckoning begins,” I read these striking paragraphs:

Multiple Romney sources buzzed about one number in particular: 15 percent. According to exit polls, that’s the share of African-Americans who voted in Ohio this year. In 2008, the black percentage of the electorate was 11 percent. In Virginia and Florida, exit polls showed the same share of African-Americans turned out as four years ago, something that GOP turnout models did not anticipate.

“We didn’t think they’d turn out more of their base vote than they did in 2008, but they smoked us,” said one Romney operative. “It’s unbelievable that that they turned out more from the African-American community than in 2008. Somehow they got ‘em to vote.

Gee, maybe African Americans aren’t as dumb, lazy, and shiftless as John Sununu thinks! Maybe they didn’t appreciate Mitt Romney’s repeated dog whistles and his disrespect toward President Obama.

Andrew Cohen at the Atlantic thinks the voter suppression campaign is the main reason Romney lost. Cohen writes:

May I suggest instead a simple, elegant overriding theory on why we won’t have a Romney Administration in 2013? No serious political party in America — no legitimate party in any viable democracy — can win an election by suppressing votes. So long as the Republican Party endorses (and enacts) voting laws designed to make it harder for registered voters to vote, so long as Republican officials like Ohio’s Jon Husted contort themselves to interpret those laws in a restrictive fashion, the Republicans will continue to play a loser’s game.

That’s my theory, anyway, and I’m sticking to it. Having covered for the past two years the voting rights front in this epic election cycle, I have come to believe that the Republicans will begin to win presidential elections again only when they start competing for votes with the substance of their ideas.

At Balloon Juice, Dennis G. reacted to the same section of the Politico article that struck me as so stupid; and he offers anecdotal evidence to support voter suppression reaction argument:

Here is the thing that Team Mitt and Team Wingnut failed to understand: that when you insult folks and dismiss them, they tend to get mad and they tend to want to kick your ass.

Mitt and the Wingnuts have run a four-year campaign that is only a blond hair’s width away from calling the President a nigger every single day. They are focused like a laser beam on promoting white rage and using every dog whistle they can think of to get the message across. White folks heard them and so did people of color. Team Mitt is surprised that African-American turnout increased over 2008, but that is only because they are incapable of thinking of these folks as people.

As I knocked on door after door in a black neighborhood in Columbus, it was clear that folks heard the Mitt/wingnut code-talking and that it pissed them off. They heard the endless disrespect of the President and the general contempt for anybody who is not white that has become the core message of the modern conservative movement. They heard it and they decided to kick Mitt’s ass in the voting booth.

Hey, I’m an old white woman and I was so angered by the race baiting that I was determined to vote against the guy who did it and encouraged it!

 Take a look at what happened in Philadelphia:

In a city where President Obama received more than 85 percent of the votes, in some places he received almost every one. In 13 Philadelphia wards, Obama received 99 percent of the vote or more.

Those wards, many with large African American populations, also swung heavily for Obama over John McCain in 2008. But the difficult economy seemed destined to dampen that enthusiasm four years later.

Not to worry. Ward leaders and voters said they were just as motivated this time.

“In this election, you had to point out to the people what was at stake. And in many cases, they felt that the Romney doctrine was not going to favor the working man,” said Edgar “Sonny” Campbell.

No kidding. But I’d be shocked if a lot of the motivation didn’t come from the poorly disguised racism emanating from Romney and Ryan and their surrogates.

And now let’s turn to those whiny billionaires who thought they could buy the White House and failed miserably. Kevin Roose writes at New York Magazine about a conversation he overheard:

Two months ago, in a dimly lit corner banquette at an exclusive club in the meatpacking district, two well-known billionaires sat down — at a table well within earshot of mine — to have a good bitch about the state of the union.

“The last four years have been a disaster,” said one man, a hedge fund manager who supported President Obama’s 2008 campaign but decided to sit this election out. The primary reason for his disillusionment, he said, was that the country under Obama had grown hostile to wealth, and to those who had accumulated vast amounts of it.

“People work their asses off to get where they are, and they get punished,” he said. “I wanted to fly my friend to Davos this year, and people were like, you’re not going to fly the jet to Davos, are you? How will that look to the Occupy people? I’m like, what the fuck are you talking about? I worked hard for this!”

“It’s a scary reality,” said the other billionaire, once a prominent Democratic donor.

Of course President Obama was extremely friendly to Wall Street during his first term, and the banksters did extremely well while most Americans bore the brunt of the Great Recession that Wall Street caused. But the banksters’ tender feelings were hurt when the President referred to them as “fat cats” and held them responsible for hurting middle- and working-class people.

According to Roose,

Wall Street turned very quickly against Obama, and it made a massive bet that they could put a private equity guy in the White House. The bet turned out to be risky and unhedged — the equivalent of wagering a billion dollars on an exotic derivative that would either triple in value or become totally worthless, with no possible results in the middle….

Backing Romney was a tactical decision, but it was also a psychological one. Under a Romney administration, these donors believed, no longer would they need to hang their heads, hide their jets, and apologize for their success. The social order would be restored, and they could walk proud once more.

What could be more pathetic? These Wall Street titans gambled billions on Romney and got absolutely nothing back. In fact they’ve now lost their leverage over Obama, leaving him free to be even more dismissive of their concerns. Bwaaaaahahahahahahaha!!

Do you ever wonder what effect these self-pitying and self-involved billionaires have on their ultra-privileged offspring? One of them, Peter Brandt II, put on quite a display on election night. The Grio reports that Brandt,

the 18-year-old son of billionaire publisher Peter Brant Sr. and former Victoria’s Secret supermodel Stephanie Seymour [reacted to Obama’s reelection by threatening to kill President Obama].

In a series of text messages to his friend Andrew Warren, which were reprinted by Jezebel, Warren whined about how a second Obama term would make him “poor.” Brant II then claimed, “I have a contingency plan. Kill Obama hahaha.”

Brandt was so proud of his “joke,” that he posted the entire text exchange on Instagram.

Here’s a little more of Brandt’s brand [pun intended] of humor, including this delightful tweet:

Harry & Peter Brant@HarryPeterBrant
H:yay Obama and all, but am i the only person who is DYING for Hill DOG to run in 2016! that stylish mullet needs to be in the oval office.
7 Nov 12

Thank goodness the assholes lost this time.


Late Night: We Told You So — Hillary in 2012!

Hillary in 2012! Yes, it’s still a pipe dream, but who else is there? Bernie Sanders came out and said it recently–it’s time to primary Obama or run a third party candidate. Again, I know it’s probably a fantasy, but what other choice do we really have?

For myself, I know I can never vote for Obama. At this point it’s really a moral issue for me. I couldn’t vote for him in 2008, and that was before I realize how truly horrible his presidency would be.

I knew he’d be bad, and I knew he was going to go after Social Security and Medicare. I didn’t know that he would completely ignore unemployment and refuse to use the power of government to create jobs.

I suspected he would carry on Bush’s wars. But I never suspected that he would defend torture and rendition or that he would claim the right to imprison or assassinate American citizens without probable cause or trial.

I don’t know how I can bring myself to vote for Romney either. He’s pretty much indistinguishable from Obama anyway. They are both cynical sellouts; neither has a real ideology or moral core.

Bernie Sanders said it straight out not too long ago:

…while appearing on Thom Hartmann’s radio show, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) — who, while being an independent, caucuses with the Democrats — said that one way progressives can make sure Obama does not enact huge cuts to major social programs is to run a primary challenger against him. Sanders told a listener who called in to protest a debt ceiling deal that cuts Social Security that such a challenge would be a “good idea”:

SANDERS: Brian, believe me, I wish I had the answer to your question. Let me just suggest this. I think there are millions of Americans who are deeply disappointed in the president; who believe that, with regard to Social Security and a number of other issues, he said one thing as a candidate and is doing something very much else as a president; who cannot believe how weak he has been, for whatever reason, in negotiating with Republicans and there’s deep disappointment. So my suggestion is, I think one of the reasons the president has been able to move so far to the right is that there is no primary opposition to him and I think it would do this country a good deal of service if people started thinking about candidates out there to begin contrasting what is a progressive agenda as opposed to what Obama is doing. […] So I would say to Ryan [sic] discouragement is not an option. I think it would be a good idea if President Obama faced some primary opposition.

Am I crazy? Look at what has been going on in Washington for the past few weeks. This debt ceiling fight is utter nonsense, and this President has shown no leadership whatsoever. For a long time, he completely cut Democrats out of the process and “negotiated” with John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and Mitch McConnell! He has put every treasured Democratic program on the table to be cut. Again and again, he has lied about the strength and solvency of Social Security and Medicare. Over at Naked Capitalism, liberal economist Michael Hudson documents Obama’s ugly lies:

You know that the debt kerfuffle is as staged as melodramatically as a World Wrestling Federation exhibition when Mr. Obama makes the blatantly empty threat that if Congress does not “tackle the tough challenges of entitlement and tax reform,” there won’t be money to pay Social Security checks next month. In his debt speech last night (July 25), he threatened that if “we default, we would not have enough money to pay all of our bills – bills that include monthly Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits, and the government contracts we’ve signed with thousands of businesses.”

This is not remotely true. But it has become the scare theme for over a week now, ever since the President used almost the same words in his interview with CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley.

Of course the government will have enough money to pay the monthly Social Security checks. The Social Security administration has its own savings – in Treasury bills. I realize that lawyers (such as Mr. Obama and indeed most American presidents) rarely understand economics. But this is a legal issue. Mr. Obama certainly must know that Social Security is solvent, with liquid securities to pay for many decades to come. Yet Mr. Obama has put Social Security at the very top of his hit list!

The most reasonable explanation for his empty threat is that he is trying to panic the elderly into hoping that somehow the budget deal he seems to have up his sleeve can save them. The reality, of course, is that they are being led to economic slaughter. (And not a word of correction reminding the President of financial reality from Rubinomics Treasury Secretary Geithner, neoliberal Fed Chairman Bernanke or anyone else in the Wall Street Democrat administration, formerly known as the Democratic Leadership Council.)

It is a con. Mr. Obama has come to bury Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, not to save them.

Obama has destroyed the Democratic Party and he is in the process of destroying the U.S. economy and sending us into a prolonged depression. He has to go. Frankly, if we can’t replace him with a liberal Democrat, a Mitt Romney might actually be preferable for the same reason many of us reluctantly preferred McCain in 2008: it’s possible Democrats in Congress would put up a fight against a Republican who did the things Obama has done.

Recent polls show that Obama’s blatantly conservative policies are finally having and effect–his liberal base is falling apart. The latest Washington Post-ABC poll found that the President’s approval numbers on the economy are dropping fast.

More than a third of Americans now believe that President Obama’s policies are hurting the economy, and confidence in his ability to create jobs is sharply eroding among his base, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The dissatisfaction is fueled by the fact that many Americans continue to see little relief from the pain of a recession that technically ended two years ago. Ninety percent of those surveyed said the economy is not doing well, and four out of five report that jobs are difficult to find. In interviews, several people said that they feel abandoned by both parties, particularly as debates over the debt ceiling gridlock Washington.

To me the most striking finding in this poll is that African American voters are losing faith in Obama’s handling of the economy and jobs.

the number of liberal Democrats who strongly support Obama’s record on jobs plunged 22 points from 53 percent last year to 31 percent. The number of African Americans who believe the president’s actions have helped the economy has dropped from 77 percent in October to just over half of those surveyed.

If African Americans are starting to see through Obama, he’s in trouble. How can he possibly win enough Independents to make up for the loss of African American votes? Sure, plenty of AA’s will still vote for him, but how many will end up staying home?

At the Top of the Ticket blog, Andrew Malcolm argues that Obama is trying to reach out to the “center,” and that his ridiculous speech last night was filled with code words to appeal to “independents.”

Using political forensics, notice any clues, perhaps telltale code words that reveal to whom he was really addressing his Monday message? Clearly, it wasn’t congressional Republicans — or Democrats, for that matter.

The nation’s top talker uttered 2,264* words in those remarks. He said “balanced approach” seven times, three times in a single paragraph.

That’s the giveaway. Obviously, David Plouffe and the incumbent’s strategists have been polling phrases for use in this ongoing debt duel, which is more about 2012 now than 2011. “Balanced approach” is no sweet talk for old Bernie or tea sippers on the other side.

Obama is running for the center already, aiming for the independents who played such a crucial role in his victorious coalition in 2008. They were the first to start abandoning the good ship Obama back in 2009 when all the ex-state senator could do was talk about healthcare, when jobs and the economy were the peoples’ priority.

Maybe, except Obama isn’t running to the center, he’s running to the right. In the debt limit “negotiations,” he is the one who put Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid on the table. He has consistently pushed for even bigger cuts than the Republicans have. And Obama has done exactly nothing about jobs. He seems to have no interest in the issue at all. So how is he going to win “centrist” votes? Surely these centrists still care about Social Security and Medicare and surely they care about jobs. I just don’t buy that running further to the right is going to help Obama be reelected.

I’m probably going on too long in this post, so I’ll wrap it up. I’ll end with a bit of Glenn Greenwald’s piece in reaction to the recent polls:

approval ratings is only one of many barometers of a President’s standing with his base — and, at least in Obama’s case, almost certainly not the most important one. It’s completely unsurprising that the vast majority of Democrats and even “liberals” — when presented with the dichotomous approve/disapprove choice by a pollster regarding their own party’s President — will choose “approve”; that, in essence, is little more than a proxy for declaring one’s tribal identity (which of the two sides are you on?). But what propelled the Obama campaign in 2008 was not merely the number of people willing to vote for him but, rather, the intensity of his support.

It’s one thing to be willing to go vote for a candidate on Election Day (or, more accurately, against the other candidate); it’s another entirely to be willing to donate scarce money, canvass and evangelize, and infuse the campaign with passion and energy. That many liberals will still be willing to do the former notwithstanding their dissatisfaction does not mean they will do the latter. That level of progressive commitment to Obama’s candidacy was vital to his victory in 2008, and its absence could be crippling in 2012 (a dependency on Wall Street cash even greater than 2008 can only take one so far). Wasn’t that one obvious lesson of 2010: the central role base enthusiasm plays in election outcomes?

So what is to be done? I don’t know, but I do know that there isn’t another potential candidate with the stature of Hillary Clinton. Is it just a pipe dream? What do you think? Is there any chance at all that Hillary might step in as Ted Kennedy did (admittedly unsuccessfully) against Carter in 1980? Are there any other possible candidates that could pull it off?