The occupant of the people’s White House began his morning with more racist attacks on people of color. This time it was Rep. Elijah Cummings and the people of Baltimore. I won’t subject you to the tweets, but he claimed that Cummings’ district in Maryland is “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” and “very dangerous & filthy place” and that “no human being would want to live there.” He also called Cummings a “brutal bully” because he criticized Trump’s concentration camps.
Apparently the occupant was watching TV this morning before he heads out to play more golf.
Cummings also announced recently that he has subpoenaed the White House for employees’ emails sent on personal accounts. That would include Ivanka and Jared.
This morning, CNN’s Victor Blackwell gave an eloquent response to the occupant’s ugly tweets.
Of course the real source of Trump’s rage is the fact that Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have opened an impeachment inquiry into his crimes.
Joshua Matz at The Washington Post: The House has already opened an impeachment investigation against Trump. (Matz is the co-author of To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment.
Has the House of Representatives opened an impeachment inquiry? That question is starkly presented by a petition that the House Judiciary Committee filed in federal court on Friday. It is also answered by that petition. No matter what certain House Democratic leaders might say about the politics of the matter, there can now be no doubt that the committee is engaged in an investigation of whether to impeach President Trump.
Through its petition, the committee seeks access to portions of the report by former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III that were redacted to protect grand jury secrecy. The panel also seeks grand jury testimony bearing on Trump’s knowledge of criminal acts, Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and Russian connections to his campaign. Finally, the committee seeks grand jury testimony about actions taken by former White House counsel Donald McGahn; this last request probably anticipates the committee’s rumored plans to seek an order compelling McGahn to testify.
It is settled law that House committees can obtain grand jury materials as part of impeachment investigations. So the legal dispute will probably center on whether such an inquiry is underway.
The Constitution itself does not use phrases like “impeachment investigation” or “impeachment proceedings.” This has led some to mistakenly assume that the House is disregarding its impeachment power because it has not yet held a floor vote approving articles of impeachment (or expressly instructing the Judiciary Committee to deliberate on such articles).
But to those who specialize in these matters, that all-or-nothing vision of the impeachment power is mistaken. The Constitution’s text and structure — supported by judicial precedent and prior practice — show that impeachment is a process, not a single vote. And that process virtually always begins with an impeachment investigation in the judiciary committee, which is already occurring.
Here is the historic announcement made by Jerry Nadler, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
At The Atlantic, four members of the House of Representatives Mary Gay Scanlon, David Cicilline, Pramila Jayapal, and Veronica Escobar write: Why We’re Moving Forward With Impeachment.
Mueller’s testimony before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees was a watershed moment. At this point, it is up to Congress to act on the evidence of multiple counts of obstruction of justice committed by the president, and to continue our investigation into whether he has committed other high crimes and misdemeanors.
Despite assertions to the contrary by the president and his allies, the special counsel’s report and testimony are not the end of our investigations. We have now filed a petition in court to obtain the grand-jury documents referenced in the special counsel’s report. In that filing, we have made clear that we will utilize our Article I powers to obtain the additional underlying evidence, as well as enforce subpoenas for key witness testimony, and broaden our investigations to include conflicts of interest and financial misconduct.
While many people believe that beginning an impeachment investigation can begin only with a vote of the full House of Representatives, this is not true. Article I authorizes the House Judiciary Committee to begin this process.
As members of the House Judiciary Committee, we understand the gravity of this moment that we find ourselves in. We wake up every morning with the understanding of the oath that binds us as members of Congress, and the trust that our constituents placed in us to uphold that oath. We will move forward with the impeachment process. Our investigation will seriously examine all the evidence as we consider whether to bring articles of impeachment or other remedies under our Article I powers.
Our Constitution requires it. Our democracy depends on it.
An so finally, it is happening.
The hashtag #MoscowMitch was trending on Twitter on Friday morning after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked two election bills designed to deter interference by Russia and other states, claiming it was “partisan legislation” by the Democratic Party.
It followed special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony on Wednesday that Russia is still attempting to interfere in American democracy, further to its meddling in the 2016 presidential election, with a view to disrupting the 2020 contest.
Then on Thursday, the Senate Intelligence Committee published a report detailing Russian interference dating back to at least 2014 through to 2017 that targeted U.S. election infrastructure with an “unprecedented level of activity.”
Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough used the moniker “Moscow Mitch” in reference to McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, multiple times during his MSNBC show on Friday, and tore into the congressional leader for several minutes.
Scarborough made reference to an effort in 2016 ahead of the election by President Barack Obama to sound the alarm to American voters about Russian interference by urging congressional leaders to sign a bipartisan statement condemning it publicly.
At the time, according to The Washington Post, McConnell rebuffed Obama’s suggestion, and said he would view the White House talking publicly about Russian interference before polling day as an act of partisanship designed to aid the then Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
As everyone here knows, Sanctioned Russian Oligarch Oleg Deripaska has promised to pour millions into McConnell’s home state of Kentucky by opening a new aluminum plant there. In addition, Newsweek reports that Mitch McConnell received donations from voting maachine lobbyists before blocking election security bills.
This morning Dana Millbank went there at The Washington Post: Mitch McConnell is a Russian asset.
Mitch McConnell is a Russian asset.
This doesn’t mean he’s a spy, but neither is it a flip accusation. Russia attacked our country in 2016. It is attacking us today. Its attacks will intensify in 2020. Yet each time we try to raise our defenses to repel the attack, McConnell, the Senate majority leader, blocks us from defending ourselves.
Let’s call this what it is: unpatriotic. The Kentucky Republican is, arguably more than any other American, doing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bidding.
Robert Mueller sat before Congress this week warning that the Russia threat “deserves the attention of every American.” He said “the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in our election is among the most serious” challenges to American democracy he has ever seen. “They are doing it as we sit here, and they expect to do it during the next campaign,” he warned, adding that “much more needs to be done in order to protect against these intrusions, not just by the Russians but others as well.”
Millbank provides specifics of McConnell’s unpatriotic behavior:
McConnell has blocked all such attempts [to protect our elections], including:
A bipartisan bill requiring Facebook, Google and other Internet companies to disclose purchasers of political ads, to identify foreign influence.
A bipartisan bill to ease cooperation between state election officials and federal intelligence agencies.
A bipartisan bill imposing sanctions on any entity that attacks a U.S. election.
A bipartisan bill with severe new sanctions on Russia for its cybercrimes.
McConnell has prevented them all from being considered — over and over again. This is the same McConnell who, in the summer of 2016, when briefed by the CIA along with other congressional leaders on Russia’s electoral attacks, questioned the validity of the intelligence and forced a watering down of a warning letter to state officials about the threat, omitting any mention of Russia.
Read the rest at the WaPo.
On Hardball yesterday, John Brennan discussed McConnell’s behavior in 2016.
This days, the GOP is filled with Russian assets like Trump’s suck-up golf buddy Lindsey Graham and Rand Paul, who tried to block funding to help 9/11 first responders but fights sanctions on a Russian pipeline. The Daily Beast:
Advocates for a massive Russian natural gas pipeline project have a powerful, quiet ally in Congress: Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican and close friend of President Donald Trump. He has quietly worked against sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 project, which would dramatically expand Russia’s shipments of natural gas to Germany. Critics say it would also dramatically expand Russia’s influence in Western Europe while harming Ukraine. The Trump administration has weighed sanctioning the project, but has yet to do so. And Trump himself has criticized it.
On Thursday, the senator postponed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s mark-up of legislation that would have put sanctions on the project, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the committee’s proceedings. And while Paul hasn’t publicized his opposition to the proposed sanctions, he sent Senate colleagues a letter before the mark-up explaining his stance. The letter, which The Daily Beast obtained, argues that the legislation in question—a bipartisan bill introduced by Sens. Ted Cruz and Jeanne Shaheen—doesn’t clearly state which entities would be sanctioned.
That’s it for me today. What stories have you been following?
Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!
I don’t even know where to start today other than to state that KKKremlin Caligula is seriously losing it as opposed to his normal state of mostly losing it. The Trumpfest storyline on Russia is falling apart as quickly as D’oh Hair Furor’s mental state. I found Greg Sargent’s piece at WAPO helpful. It contrasts the Dem v. Repug version of the FISA warrant on Carter Page and the Steele Dossier after the release of a redacted version of the FISA warrant went public over the weekend.
This morning, the New York Times’s Charlie Savage has a great piece on the White House’s decision over the weekend to release documents revealing the FBI’s application to a FISA court to run secret surveillance on former Trump campaign official Carter Page. The bottom line: The documents lay waste to much of the narrative about the FBI investigation pushed by Trump — and GOP Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the House Intelligence Committee chairman who enshrined that story line in his much-discussed memo — while largely confirming that Democratic efforts to correct that narrative have been offered accurately and in good faith.
The Trump/Nunes narrative rests heavily on the idea that the FBI probe into the Trump campaign was illegitimate, because it was triggered by the “Steele Dossier.” The Nunes memo in January charged that to spy on the Trump campaign, the FBI failed to disclose that former British spy Christopher Steele’s research had originally been funded for political purposes (which Trump and his allies maintain shows the probe had tainted origins). In his rebuttal memo at the time, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California — Nunes’s counterpart — disputed this, noting that the FBI’s application for the warrant did, in fact, disclose that Steele was hired by “politically motivated persons” to “discredit” the Trump campaign.
The newly released documents — in particular, the FBI’s FISA applications — show that Nunes was engaged in disingenuous parsing designed to deceive and that Schiff was telling the truth. The application contained a whole page detailing the FBI’s conclusion that Steele had been hired to do “research” to “discredit” the Trump campaign, and that the FBI deemed Steele credible anyway, having relied on his information in the past. As Savage puts it, the new release offers a “page-length explanation” that confirms what Democrats contended “at the time” about the research’s “politically motivated origins.”
The new documents also lay to rest another dispute. The Nunes memo claimed the FBI relied on a Yahoo News article to corroborate Steele’s account even though Steele was the source for that article. Schiff’s rebuttal pointed out that, in fact, the FBI had cited the Yahoo article to confirm a separate point. The new documents show that Schiff characterized the FBI claim accurately. As Savage notes: “The application dovetails with the Democrats’ account.”
In sum, the new documents show the FBI suspected that a top Trump official (Page) was collaborating with Russia to sabotage the 2016 election, perhaps along with others. As Julian Sanchez notes, there are extensive redactions following the Steele section that strongly suggest the FBI offered other information beyond the Steele Dossier to bolster those suspicions (which Democrats also claimed to be the case). Though those redactions mean this cannot be conclusively proved right now, the documents show that the FBI’s request for a wiretap and subsequent follow-up applications were greenlighted by judges appointed by GOP presidents, based on the info the FBI offered.
Right Wing media is try desperately to rescue the Nunes Memo. Trump argues that it actually shows proves the Mueller investigation is a witch hunt.
President Trump on Monday made a fresh call to end the investigation of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, citing the release over the weekend of a previously classified application to wiretap former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, who was under suspicion by the FBI of being a Russian agent.
In a series of tweets, Trump falsely claimed that Mueller’s investigation was prompted by the surveillance. Trump and other Republicans have accused the FBI of relying too heavily on a dossier compiled by a former British intelligence officer to seek the surveillance order for Page from a federal judge, arguing that Trump was the real target.
In his tweets, Trump complained that the “Fake Dirty Dossier” compiled by Christopher Steele was paid for by Democrats and Hillary Clinton’s campaign, saying it “was responsible for starting the totally conflicted and discredited Mueller Witch Hunt!”
It seems clear Michael Cohen is trying to turn state’s witness and we’re approaching the first Manaford Trial. Witnesses have been granted immunity to testify in the case.
With the criminal trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort just two days away, the judge in the case ordered the testimony of five witnesses granted immunity by special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis at a hearing Monday morning said he would unseal the documents that would reveal the identities of the immunized witnesses.
Ellis also heard arguments over Manafort’s request to delay Wednesday’s start of the trial. He said he would issue a ruling from the bench on the continuance as early as this afternoon when the hearing resumes after a short recess.
The judge had already denied Manafort’s request to move the trial to Roanoke, Virginia, to escape the widespread publicity about the case in the metro Washington area.
Downing, who took over Manafort’s defense in September 2017, revealed that Manafort’s previous law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering had not turned over the records to the new defense team. He also said that the bookkeeping company refused to give him the records unless Manafort reimbursed the company for the subpoena production, which Manafort did not do.
“Go to court and get the documents,” Ellis scolded Downing. “They belong to your client.”
“We thought we’d get them in discovery, your honor,” Downing responded. “It’s a lot cheaper.”
Tens of thousands of pages of discovery materials that Downing pointed to in requesting a delay in the trial were from devices owned by Rick Gates, Manafort’s longtime business deputy who pleaded guilty this spring and is cooperating with Mueller’s investigation.
Asonye said those materials were images from Gates’ devices and were not among the items on the government’s exhibit list. Downing said that they expected Gates to be a witness and thus the “heart” of the case, so they were entitled time to review all of the materials from his devices.
Manafort faces bank fraud and tax fraud charges related to his consulting work in the Ukraine for then-President Viktor Yanukovych and his pro-Russian Party of Regions. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to these charges and related charges in DC.
Trump continues to get blowback from the severely botched #TreasonSummit in Helsinki. More and more Republicans are speaking out. Today it was Christine Todd Whitman writing an Op Ed in the LA Times stating “Trump is clearly unfit to remain in office”.
President Trump’s disgraceful performance in Helsinki, Finland, and in the days since is an indication that he is not fit to remain in office. Trump’s 2016 “America First” platform might be more aptly named “Russia First” after the disaster that occurred last week.
Trump’s turn toward Russia is indefensible. I am a lifelong Republican. I have campaigned and won as a member of the party, and I have served more than one Republican president. My Republican colleagues — once rightfully critical of President Obama’s engagement strategy with Russian leader Vladimir Putin — have to end their willful ignorance of the damage Trump is doing both domestically and internationally. We must put aside the GOP label, as hard as that may be, and demonstrate the leadership our country needs by calling on the president to step down.
And peak craziness comes in threating tweets to Iran. This out to be giving Bolton and the Dominists some form of hard on. “Iran’s Rouhani warns Trump about ‘mother of all wars’ ” via Reuters.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday cautioned U.S. President Donald Trump about pursuing hostile policies against Tehran, saying “war with Iran is the mother of all wars”, but did not rule out peace between the two countries.
Iran faces increased U.S. pressure and looming sanctions after Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from a 2015 international deal over Iran’s nuclear program.
Addressing a gathering of Iranian diplomats, Rouhani said: “Mr Trump, don’t play with the lion’s tail, this would only lead to regret,” the state new agency IRNA reported.
“America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars,” Rouhani said, leaving open the possibility of peace between the two countries, at odds since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
“You are not in a position to incite the Iranian nation against Iran’s security and interests,” Rouhani said, in an apparent reference to reported efforts by Washington to destabilize Iran’s Islamic government.
In Washington, U.S. officials familiar with the matter told Reuters that the Trump administration had launched an offensive of speeches and online communications meant to foment unrest and help pressure Iran to end its nuclear program and its support of militant groups.
I’m convinced this Bolton’s prize for letting Trump suck up to Putin. The tweet was in all caps and released on Sunday night some time after the NFL and its players pushed Trump’s race baiting KneeGate into a conference room for discussion. His golf game was off and the media is certainly turned into dogs with teethe for a change. Sunday news was full of discussions on how weak and servile he appeared in Helsinki.
President Trump threatened Iran late Sunday, warning of severe “consequences,” as rhetoric between the two countries’ presidents escalated dramatically.
Mr. Trump, in an all-caps message on Twitter addressed to President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, wrote that the country would face “CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED” if he continued to threaten the United States.
Trump may not be the craziest idiot in the beltway at Russia. We always have Aqua Buddha for a distraction too. Twitter is just not a good platform for crazy Republicans. I liked it better when it was mostly beat journalists frankly.
In an unusual move, Paul wrote that he will meet with Trump on Monday to discuss allegations that Brennan is “monetizing his security clearance” and “making millions of dollars divulging secrets to mainstream media.” Paul added that he would ask Trump to revoke Brennan’s clearance.
That’s right libertarian demigod! If all else fails, muzzle the press!
So, I’m going back with a bad dream I had this morning still swirling in my mind’s eye. I was in a weird office off a long white hallway when a set of drone objects to my door to threaten me. I grabbed them and threw them to the wall while spotting a third heading my way under the controls of this child-looking roly poly Trump in white pajamas. I woke up as I saw a secret service guy in dark glasses and black suit headed my way. Eeesh …
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
There’s good news and bad news today. The bad news is that there’s a Republican debate tonight. The good news is this is the last Republican debate before the primaries begin.
Honestly, I don’t know if I can stand to watch another GOP debate. I’ll probably give it a try, but I don’t know how long I’ll last. I’d watch the MSNBC coverage if Rachel Maddow were anchoring it; but for some reason Chris Matthews is doing it again.
It’s been quiet here as it usually is during the holiday season, so maybe we can use this thread to comment on the debate. If for some reason we get really busy, I’ll put up another thread tonight. Please let me know if you plan to watch the debate, and we’ll just play it by ear.
The main debate will begin at 8:30PM on CNN, and it will be live streamed on CNN’s website. There will be a kids table debate at 6PM with only four participants: Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Lindsay Graham, and George Pataki.
Rand Paul should be at the kid’s table; but for some strange reason CNN is letting him appear on the main stage–perhaps because he whined about it or maybe because CNN likes him, who knows. If you didn’t see it last night, I highly recommend watching Rachel Maddow’s report on the Rand Paul story.
Some stories about what could happen in tonight’s circus/horror show:
Ed Kilgore at NY Magazine: Can CNN Get the Cage Match It Wants in GOP Debate?
Here’s another strange story leading up to the debate in Las Vegas tonight. A very wealthy person has purchased the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and he wants to remain anonymous–even to the paper’s employees. Now who could this person be. Someone should ask Sheldon Adelson about it.
Mother Jones reports: Did a Republican Megadonor Just Secretly Buy Nevada’s Biggest Newspaper?
The sale has created a controversy because, while there is no rule requiring a newspaper to disclose its owners, the Journal-Review will be, by far, the largest newspaper in America whose owners are secret. The intrigue is not just journalistic: For a well-heeled person interested in influencing an election, owning the largest paper in the state that in a few short months will hold one of the first nominating events of the primary season (third for Democrats and fourth for Republicans) is a good place to start.
The news broke on Friday, when the paper’s management told employees that the publication, which had been owned by a publicly traded chain of newspapers called New Media Investment Group, had been sold for $140 million. The new owners? An LLC based in Delaware called News + Media Capital Group LLC. The only publicly available information on News + Media Capital Group LLC is that it was founded two months ago in Delaware, and it used a corporate agent that hides any identifying information.
TheReview-Journal’s management introduced a man named Michael Schroeder as the manager of News + Media Capital Group LLC. Schroeder has been the publisher of a very small chain of newspapers in Connecticut and declined to tell theReview-Journal who the new bosses were, other than to say they were “undisclosed financial backers with expertise in the media industry,” a description that does little to narrow down the field. Another detail that leaked from the paper’s management was that there are multiple owners, at least some of whom are based in Las Vegas. The description is odd, since most individuals who have invested in news organizations previously would be aware that refusing to say who owned the paper would do nothing but stir controversy, especially within the paper’s own staff.
The paper’s management also seemed almost determined to stoke controversy. According to the Huffington Post, a version of the story detailing the paper’s sale went to press with a quote that suggested Schroeder was dismissive of employee concerns about the new ownership.
“They want you to focus on your jobs…don’t worry about who they are,” Schroeder allegedly said at a meeting with employees. But the quote was pulled, as were other critical comments, before a new version of the article was printed.
I guess we’ll find out who it is eventually; but Adelson seems to be the most likely candidate, since he lives in Nevada.
I know I’ve been writing way too much about Donald Trump lately, but I just had to share something that Dakinikat told me about yesterday. These are old links that I somehow missed when I wasn’t taking Trump seriously early on. Apologies if someone has posted these at Sky Dancing previously.
It looks very much like Donald Trump’s father was a member of the Ku Klux Klan as a young man. From Boing Boing: 1927 news report: Donald Trump’s dad arrested in KKK brawl with cops.
According to a New York Times article published in June 1927, a man with the name and address of Donald Trump’s father was arraigned after Klan members attacked cops in Queens, N.Y.
In an article subtitled “Klan assails policeman”, Fred Trump is named in among those taken in during a late May “battle” in which “1,000 Klansmen and 100 policemen staged a free-for-all.” At least two officers were hurt during the event, after which the Klan’s activities were denounced by the city’s Police Commissioner, Joseph A. Warren.
“The Klan not only wore gowns, but had hoods over their faces almost completely hiding their identity,” Warren was quoted as saying in the article, which goes on to identify seven men “arrested in the near-riot of the parade.”
Named alongside Trump are John E Kapp and John Marcy (charged with felonious assault in the attack on Patrolman William O’Neill and Sgt. William Lockyear), Fred Lyons, Thomas Caroll, Thomas Erwin, and Harry J Free. They were arraigned in Jamaica, N.Y. All seven were represented by the same lawyers, according to the article.
The final entry on the list reads: “Fred Trump of 175-24 Devonshire Road, Jamaica, was discharged.”
In 1927, Donald Trump’s father would have been 21 years old, and not yet a well-known figure. Multiple sources report his residence at the time—and throughout his life—at the same address.
Later on in his life, the elder Trump was sued for refusing to rent or sell his properties to African Americans.
A 1979 article, published by Village Voice, reported ona civil rights suitthat alleged that the Trumps refused to rent to black home-seekers, and quotes a rental agent who said Fred Trump instructed him not to rent to blacks and to encourage existing black tenants to leave. The case was settled in a 1975 consent degree described as “one of the most far-reaching ever negotiated,” but the Justice Department subsequently complained that continuing “racially discriminatory conduct by Trump agents has occurred with such frequency that it has created a substantial impediment to the full enjoyment of equal opportunity.”
If Donald Trump was raised in a home where racism was acceptable, that could explain some of his behavior today. It’s certainly interesting to know about this, and I regret that I didn’t read this article when it first appeared in September. You might want to read this piece at the Academe blog as well: Does It Matter if Donald Trump’s Father Was a Member of the Ku Klux Klan?
Naturally the Trump rally in Las Vegas last night produced more shocking news. McKay Coppins reports at Buzzfeed: Trump Campaign Rally Erupts In Chaos And Ugly Confrontation.
The Republican frontrunner had invited a supporter up to the stage to recount how his son was killed by an undocumented immigrant. Midway though the story, a pair of protesters interrupted.
“That’s why we need gun control!” one called out from the sea of Trump die-hards in the Westgate Resort and Casino ballroom. Click useful source here.
A zealous chorus of boos filled the room, while the two protesters brandished a homemade poster (“NO HATE. YOU’RE FIRED.”) and began shouting over the din….
By the time security swooped in, several amped-up Trump supporters had already encircled the protesters — booing, and chanting, and slowly closing in — while a crush of smartphone-wielding media scrambled to capture footage of the clash. The guards managed to remove one protester, but the other resisted, stiffening his limbs and screaming about the First Amendment as they tried to haul him toward the exits. When he toppled to the floor, a horde of rallygoers assembled to hurl insults and threats at him.
“Light the motherfucker on fire!” one Trump supporter yelled….
One after another, protesters were forcibly dragged from the ballroom — limbs flailing, torsos twisting in resistance — while wild-eyed Trump supporters spewed abuse and calls to violence.
“Kick his ass!” yelled one.
“Shoot him!” shouted another.
Trump’s main competitor tonight should be Ted Cruz. From CBS News: Why Ted Cruz might be a threat to Donald Trump.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has surpassed businessman Donald Trump in three recent Iowa polls of likely Republican Iowa caucus-goers. Trump has taken notice, and has begun to cast doubt on Cruz’s fitness for the presidency, calling Cruz a “bit of a maniac” on Fox News Sunday, for instance. The two have come a long way sincecampaigning together against the nuclear deal a few months ago, but that was back before Cruz was polling so well in Iowa.
Trump doesn’t like anyone who challenges his lead in the polls – he compared neurosurgeon Ben Carson to a child molester with a pathological disease when Carson’s popularity began rising among Iowans. But while Carson may be seeing his moment pass, Cruz is peaking as voters begin to settle on their favorite candidates, and his mastery of the issues reassures many evangelical voters who would otherwise like Carson.
Read the rest to learn the reasons author Rebecca Kaplan believes Cruz could beat Trump. Frankly, I think Cruz is actually the scarier of the two. A couple more articles on Cruz:
WaPo Wonkblog: A guide to what Ted Cruz really believes.
So . . . will you be watching the clown show tonight? What stories are you following?
I’m filling in for Dakinikat today, because her supposedly repaired cable wires were pulled down again yesterday. She really needs to get a break from whomever is in charge of the Universe.
Since GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson has been doing so well in the polls, the media has been focusing on vetting him; and they are coming up with some certifiably crazy stuff. Suddenly that old cliché, “It doesn’t take a brain surgeon” no longer seems applicable; because Carson is a retired brain surgeon and he is clueless about science, history, the health care system, and even basic logic.
If–heaven forbid–this freak were to end up in the White House, this country would be doomed. Therefore, I’m going to focus this post on Carson and his bizarre conspiracy theories and his strange “campaign.” Yesterday we discussed the Buzzfeed piece that revealed a 1998 video in which Carson claimed that the pyramids were built by the biblical character Joseph to store grain.
“My own personal theory is that Joseph built the pyramids to store grain,” Carson said. “Now all the archeologists think that they were made for the pharaohs’ graves. But, you know, it would have to be something awfully big if you stop and think about it. And I don’t think it’d just disappear over the course of time to store that much grain.”
“And when you look at the way that the pyramids are made, with many chambers that are hermetically sealed, they’d have to be that way for various reasons. And various of scientists have said, ‘Well, you know there were alien beings that came down and they have special knowledge and that’s how—’ you know, it doesn’t require an alien being when God is with you.”
At The National Memo, Eric Kleefeld wrote about some of Carson’s other wacky beliefs, The Conspiracy Theories of Ben Carson: A Brief Introduction. Read the whole thing–and watch the videos–at the link. Here’s just a taste.
In 2014, Carson declared that President Obama and then-Attorney General Eric Holder were acting out roles in a decades-long communist conspiracy to subvert America.
In doing so, he cited a book from the 1950s by fringe right-wing conspiracy theorist Cleon Skousen, The Naked Communist. (Skousen was also a major racist, even defending the honor of antebellum Southern slavery and the Supreme Court’s 1857 Dred Scott decision.) [….]
In a 2011 speech to a church group, Carson declared: “I personally believe that this theory, that Darwin came up with, was something that was encouraged by the Adversary.”
Carson elaborated on this point: “Now this whole creation vs. evolution controversy has been raging on, really since the beginning. Because what is Satan’s plan? To get rid of God — to disparage God, to mischaracterize God….
In a 2014 speech to the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage, Carson again referenced the aforementioned Cleon Skousen — and said that “neo-Marxists” had “systematically attacked” the family in order to bring down the United States.
In mid-October, Kevin Drum wrote about some of Carson’s other weird ideas at Mother Jones: Ben Carson Is a Paranoid Nutcase.
A few days ago Carson peddled a conspiracy theory about Vladimir Putin, Ali Khamenei, and Mahmoud Abbas all being old palsfrom their days together at Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow in 1968. He refused to divulge his source for this, but instead explained it this way: “That’s what I call wisdom,” Carson said. “You get these pieces of information. You talk to various people. You begin to have an overall picture. You begin to understand why people do what they do.
He insisted that Hitler’s rise to power was accomplished “through a combination of removing guns and disseminating propaganda”—despite the plain historical fact that Hitler didn’t remove anyone’s guns during the period when he took power.
Asked if the “end of days” was near, he said, “You could guess that we are getting closer to that.”
He has suggested that being gay is a conscious choice because “a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight and when they come out they’re gay. So did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question.”
Last year, before the November elections, he predicted that President Obama might declare martial law and cancel the 2016 elections. “If Republicans don’t win back the Senate in November, he says, he can’t be sure ‘there will even be an election in 2016.’ Later, his wife, Candy, tells a supporter that they are holding on to their son’s Australian passport just in case the election doesn’t go their way.”
This is the guy who is leading the GOP presidential field and is supposedly tied with Hillary Clinton nationally? Here’s more from Steve Benen at MSNBC today: Carson blasts ‘secular progressives,’ defends bogus claims.
It was an amazing trifecta for Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson: he made three ridiculous claims, about three very different subjects, all over the course of about half a day. But it was his defense for one of the three that continues to stand out.
The retired neurosurgeon said, for example, “Every signer of the Declaration of Independence had no elected office experience.” This, of course, is ridiculously untrue. Carson soon after made some specific claims about Medicare and Medicaid, which were also demonstrably wrong.
But it’s hard to look past Carson’s beliefs about the Egyptian pyramids. As the GOP candidate sees it, archeological and physical evidence should be ignored because, in Carson’s mind, the pyramids were built by the biblical Joseph to store grain.
And yesterday, the Republican presidential hopeful continued to defend his alternate version of reality.
“Some people believe in the Bible, like I do, and don’t find that to be silly at all, and believe that God created the Earth and don’t find that to be silly at all.” Carson told reporters in Miami during a stop on his book tour. “The secular progressives try to ridicule it any time it comes up and they’re welcome to do that.”
In other words, as Carson sees it, there should be two competing versions of historical and archeological facts. One can be based on evidence, research, and scholarship, though Carson looks down on such an approach, leaving it to “secular progressives,” as if reality has some kind of liberal bias.
Can you believe this guy? Even certified right wing conspiracy theorist Rand Paul is laughing at Carson. From TPM:
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is the latest GOP presidential candidate to jump on 2016 frontrunnerBen Carson’s theory that the pyramids were created by the biblical figure Joseph to store grain.
“I’’m really big into conspiracy theories, so I think they were probably built by the aliens as grain silos, don’t you think,” Paul joked, when asked about Carson’s idea on 1110AM WBT, as reported by Buzzfeed.
Donald Trump is also capitalizing on the media reports of Carson’s beliefs, according to Politico:
Donald Trump is fully on the attack against Ben Carson, his top Republican rival in the polls, as journalists have called into question the retired neurosurgeon’s anecdotes about his violent past.
“With Ben Carson wanting to hit his mother on head with a hammer, stabb [sic] a friend and Pyramids built for grain storage – don’t people get it?” Trump added in a follow-up tweet, referencing the retired neurosurgeon’s past claims that he tried to harm his mother and friend before seeking redemption, as well as his belief that the biblical figure Joseph built the Great Pyramids of Giza to store grain and not pharaohs’ tombs.
He also took a major swipe at Carson on Thursday evening, as Carson defended himself against the network investigating his stories.
“The Carson story is either a total fabrication or, if true, even worse-trying to hit mother over the head with a hammer or stabbing friend!” Trump tweeted.
The next Republican debate should be interesting.
Carson also thinks transgender people should have their own separate bathrooms. From Think Progress: Ben Carson: Trans People Don’t Deserve ‘Extra Rights,’ Like Using Bathroom.
A week after claiming his anti-gay positionsdidn’t make him homophobic, Ben Carson has suggested that transgender people should be segregated to their own separate restrooms.
Speaking with Fusion’s Jorge Ramos, Carson explained that he doesn’t think it’s fair that the only way to accommodate transgender people is with “extra rights” to make everyone else “uncomfortable.”
Answering a question about this week’s defeat of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, Carson suggested, “How about we have a transgender bathroom?”
“It is not fair for them to make everyone else uncomfortable,” he explained. “It’s one of the things that I don’t particularly like about the movement. I think everybody has equal rights, but I’m not sure that anybody should have extra rights — extra rights when it comes to redefining everything for everybody else and imposing your view on everybody else. The way that this country was designed, it was ‘live and let live,’ and that’s the way I feel.”
I wonder if Carson knows about what happened to the old Southern policy of “separate but equal” for black people?
More interesting Carson-related links:
The Atlantic: Where Is Ben Carson’s Money Going?
Kevin Drum: Is Ben Carson a Liar? Or Does He Just Not Care?
Christian Science Monitor: How Ben Carson became leader in war against ‘political correctness.’
Washington Post: Ben Carson’s stories of violence in his past questioned.
Forbes (via Dakinikat): Archaeologists To Ben Carson: Ancient Egyptians Wrote Down Why The Pyramids Were Built.
Steve Benen: Carson sees a political significance to Noah’s Ark
Jonathan Chait: Is Ben Carson Running for President?
What else is happening? Let us know in the comment thread, and have a great weekend!
How low can they go? Only time will tell. We are still about four months away from the primaries, and it could get a whole lot worse. Recently passengers in the GOP clown car have been calling each other clowns and freaks, but none of them seem to see their own ridiculousness.
A few days ago, Donald Trump called Mario Rubio a “clown” at the Values Voters Summit, and got booed for it.
“I’ve been so nice to him. I’ve been so — but he’s in favor of immigration,” Trump said at the Value Voters Summit, before quickly moving on.
The audience had heard Rubio speak just two hours earlier and gave him several rounds of enthusiastic applause.
Yesterday, Rubio told NPR he didn’t want any part of Donald Trump’s “freak show.” CNN reports:
The two candidates have battled through sound bites for the past week, after essentially staying muted on each other for most of the campaign. As Rubio has enjoyed a marked boost in the polls since his performance in the second debate, Trump has gone after Rubio with insults including calling him a “kid” and dinging his voting record this year.
The Florida senator has willingly dished it back at Trump, calling him unserious and “touchy.” That continued in an NPR interview on Monday.
“I’m not interested in the back and forth to be a member or part of his freak show,” Rubio told NPR.
But despite that statement, Rubio quickly ticked off a list of Trump’s recent foibles, including mentioning a speech in South Carolina that had many empty seats and Trump getting booed at Friday’s Value Voters Summit when he called Rubio a “clown.”
“He is a very sensitive person,” Rubio said. “He doesn’t like to be criticized. He responds to criticism very poorly. … His poll numbers have taken a beating, and he was embarrassed on national television at the debate by Carly Fiorina and others.”
Also yesterday on CNN, Rand Paul said of Trump, “How could anyone in my party think this clown is fit to be president?.”
While out on the trail talking to reporters, the mogul picked Paul as one of the next candidates to drop out of the race, after two governors have left the race in recent weeks.
Paul called Trump a “clown” and said the attacks on his campaign were similar to the last presidential debate, when the mogul kicked off his first answer with a volley on Paul and a critique of his inclusion in the top-tier debate.
“It kind of reminds me of the funniest moment, I think, of the second debate, where out of nowhere, complete non sequitur, he starts going after me. And I guess it’s part of his bravado, his shtick,” Paul said. “I’m thinking, how did we get the race for the most important office in the free world to sink to such depths, and how could anyone in my party think that this clown is fit to be president?”
Paul said there’s no truth to Trump’s assertions that his campaign is having trouble fundraising. In fact, he said, his campaign is focused on organizing on the ground in key primary states and pleased with how that’s going.
As The National Memo notes, “A few years ago, that was the same stuff people used to say about Rand Paul.”
Of course Bobby Jindal and some of the other clowns have been attacking Trump as a clown for quite awhile. It’s the only way some of them can get any media attention. From The Guardian on September 10:
In a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, followed Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham and Rick Perry in targeting Trump, who has become the clear frontrunner in polls concerning the 17-strong GOP presidential field despite a succession of controversies over his remarks and policy positions.
In his speech, Jindal called Trump a “narcissist and egomaniac”, whom he said was “unserious and unstable”.
“Donald Trump is for Donald Trump,” Jindal said, adding in reference to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan: “Donald Trump is not for making America great. Donald Trump is for making Donald Trump great.”
Jindal even dipped into some of Trump’s trademark insult comedy, saying: “You may have recently seen that after Trump said the Bible is his favorite book. He couldn’t name a single Bible verse or passage that meant something to him.
“And we all know why, because it’s all just a show, and he hasn’t ever read the Bible. But you know why he hasn’t read the Bible? Because he’s not in it.”
He also avoided a commitment to supporting Trump if he were to secure the Republican nomination, saying “he cannot be our nominee”, and predicted that if Trump did become the Republican standard bearer in 2016, he would “implode” and “hand the election to Hillary Clinton.”
All very true, but much of it applies to Jindal as well. These guys are both horrifying and fascinating at the same time. I can hardly wait for the next GOP “debate.” Maybe the clowns will actually come to blows.
As Melissa McEwan writes, none of these fools running for the Republican nomination have any illusions about the voter base they are trying to appeal to–a bunch of poorly educated racists, nativists, gun nuts, and fetus fetishists who can be easily conned into voting for whatever the Koch brothers and Wall Street want. From Shakesville:
Rubio is merely the latest, and most brazen, of Republicans to talk about Trump as though he and his fetid campaign exist somehow outside the Republican mainstream, instead of being the uncensored id of their disgusting party that he really is.
As if Rubio doesn’t know the truth about his party. Of course he does. Every single time he dogwhistles “tradition” or “values” to his base, he’s evoking that truth. He, like Governor Bobby Jindal, is just mad that Trump has the spine and the indecency to be straightforward about what that truth really is.
If Rubio, Jindal, or any of their other fellow candidates for the US presidency are really operating under the misapprehension that their base isn’t voting for them because of fear, hatred, and bigotry, but because of smaller government and lower taxes, then they are too fucking ignorant to be trusted to tie their own shoes, no less elected to lead the nation.
Speaking of ignorant racists, George Zimmerman is back in the news. Isn’t he a perfect example of the kinds of people Republicans appeal to?
From The New York Daily News: George Zimmerman goes on depraved Twitter rant after retweeting picture of Trayvon Martin’s corpse.
George Zimmerman’s Twitter trolling has reached a new low.
Days after retweeting an image of Trayvon Martin’s corpse, Zimmerman went on a depraved Twitter tirade Monday afternoon, spewing racist rants and boasting about “mocking all you trolls.”
The man who shot and killed Martin three years ago also gave out an apparent stranger’s phone number, referring “all media inquiries” to the unsuspecting man.
“Gee..I sure hate offending people that have plotted and tried to kill me and my family…” Zimmerman wrote with one tweet, with a photo matching President Obama with Virginia murderer Vester Flanagan.
Zimmerman flew off the handle days after he seemed to boast about killing the 17-year-old Martin.
Over the weekend, an admirer tweeted him a photo of Martin’s body, which was used as evidence for Zimmerman’s trial. The user called Zimmerman a “one man army.”
Ugh. Why isn’t this disgusting man in prison?
I’m going to give you the rest of the news as headlines as links only, because I have to do some things for my mother this morning. Here we go:
Reuters via The National Memo: Biden Eligible For Democratic Primary Debate: If He Decides To Run.
Ezra Klein at Vox: A theory of how American politics is changing.
Politico: Schumer in talks with Ryan on major tax, infrastructure deal (Count me as not looking forward to Schumer leading the Senate Democrats.
Have I told you lately how much I hate Bill Maher?
Vanity Fair: A Terrifying Look at Our Eventual Trump Presidency.
David Weigel at The WaPo: Trump’s tax plan calms conservatives worried about a populist moment.
What else is happening? Let us know in the comment thread, and have a great Tuesday!