Good Morning Sky Dancers!
I remember the days of being part of the Katrina Diaspora. I spent most of it on the sofa of a friend in Omaha watching endless live coverage on CNN wondering if they would ever figure out the difference between the lower and the upper ninth ward and if all this carnage meant my little kathouse was gone. Finally, satellite photos were released and I happily saw the roof of my house and no water any where.
But, six weeks in a place you vowed you would never return to while not knowing when they’d let you go home is not a pleasant experience. At some point, my late great friend Jane introduced me to binging Law and Order episodes plus the various spins offs like Major Crimes, Criminal Intent, and SVU instead of stressing myself with Anderson Cooper daily. Some how it was quite comforting to watch a program where there were good cops and they always caught the really really bad guys no matter what their position in society. I especially love SVU. It was one way I could relax. I later turned to disaster movies and survival series when I got home, but that’s another story.
I am back binging SVU and Criminal Intent. This is probably why: “How Trump is democratising toxic stress. The US president will probably leave America considerably less mentally healthy” via the UK Financial Times and Edward Lucas. We all just need to admit that having a person with multiple personality disorders, a godfather mentality and swagger, and a bigoted, hateful agenda has us all feeling like a big huge battered family.
A few days ago a psychologist friend told me something that was at once startling and unsurprising; she is seeing far more patients than before Donald Trump was elected — and they tend to be suffering from deeper anxiety. Some people call this the Trump Anxiety Syndrome (TAD), or Post Trump Stress Syndrome (PTSD). People of a more Trumpian flavour might dismiss it as Liberal Snowflake Disorder (LSD), or old-fashioned anecdotal exaggeration. I concede that there is no definitive data to back it up. Other than rising anti-anxiety Xanax prescriptions and surveys such as this from the American Psychiatric Association, it is hard to find incontrovertible statistics. Moreover, some of the deteriorating social indicators, such as rising suicide rates (which in 2017 hit a post-second world war high), and falling life expectancy, precede Trump’s election, even if they have got worse since he took office.
Blaming everything on Trump is facile. Yet omitting him from the equation would be just as mistaken. My own view is that Trump will leave America considerably less mentally healthy than how he found it. His election was the product of an increasingly anxious society. But we find ourselves collectively far more anxious as a result. Trump is a rocket-booster to our toxic stress. He is a cure worse than the disease.
Medical professionals will tell you that acute stress tends to be self-perpetuating. The more we worry, the less we sleep. The shorter our fuses, the worse our decisions. And so on. That is as true of the body politic as it is at the personal level. Individuals can at least ask their doctor for medication. Unfortunately there is no such thing as Xanax for society as a whole. Liberal democracy cannot consult a doctor. The nearest thing America used to have to help them deal with collective stress was a unifying presidential figure. Whether it was FDR after Pearl Harbor, Reagan after the Challenger shuttle exploded, Clinton after the Oklahoma bombing, or even George W Bush after 9/11, most US presidents at least tried play the role of healers-in-chief. Trump does not even make the pretence. He seeks to profit from divisions by exacerbating them. Where others see fear, Trump smells opportunity. That is his re-election strategy. He is good at it. But it comes at a deep social cost. His strategy depends on keeping people at each other’s throats. It makes all of us, including his critics, less thoughtful and more contemptuous.
This is true for every one I know and I hear this all the time. Here’s another take via WAPO and Daniel W. Drenzer; “Donald Trump is stressing out America. Why the economy doesn’t help the president as much as he thinks.”
If the economy is doing well but average Americans aren’t feeling it, that is bad news for Trump. And looking beyond the economy, there is an awful lot of evidence suggesting that Americans are not feeling too well. The polling data is one obvious metric. According to Gallup, in 2018, more Americans were stressed, worried and angry than at any point in the last 12 years. That is extraordinary when you consider that the past dozen years includes the 2008 financial crisis and multiple terrorist attacks. Furthermore, American stress levels are among the highest in the world. Seriously, Americans were as stressed as Iranians and more stressed than citizens of Rwanda, Turkey, and Venezuela. That’s nuts.
Does Trump have anything to do with this? It is difficult to determine causality, but the data is pretty suggestive. Trump inspires a whole host of negative reactions in most Americans. Pew polled Americans in the spring and asked them to describe how Trump’s comments and statements made them feel. The top seven responses, in order: concerned (76 percent), confused (70 percent), embarrassed (69 percent), exhausted (67 percent), angry (65 percent), insulted (62 percent) and frightened (56 percent). I am not a psychologist, but I would reckon that there might be something going on here. If these are the dominant emotions that Trump elicits, and if Trump is everywhere, then hey, it’s going to stress a lot of Americans out!
Even more concrete evidence has come to light in the past week. As my Post colleagues William Wan and Lindsey Bever reported recently, “Researchers have begun to identify correlations between Trump’s election and worsening cardiovascular health, sleep problems, anxiety and stress, especially among Latinos in the United States.” One disturbing JAMA study looked at premature births, an easily quantifiable metric of stress during pregnancy. After analyzing approximately 33 million births between 2009 and 2017 researchers found 3 percent more preterm births than expected among Latina women in the nine months after the election.
It’s not just Latina women who are feeling the stress of America under Trump. The Boston Globe’s Zoe Greenberg reports that psychologists are having to treat a number of anxiety-related maladies among minority clients, including insomnia and hypervigilance. When they dig deeper, the underlying cause becomes apparent:
As Trump doubles down on attacks against the four women of color in Congress known as “The Squad,” which includes Omar and Representative Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, some people of color in the Boston area describe a psychological toll that the episodes, and Trump’s frequent overt hostility, have had on their daily lives — not just this month, but in the many months since the 2016 presidential campaign began.
Some have tried to guard themselves against the everyday tumult coming from the White House; others have become more vocal in politics. Some have found a grim silver lining, because the scourge of racism that some white people recently claimed had disappeared is now impossible to ignore or explain away. Many said it reminds them of other dark moments of personal and national history, when racial hostility and tension reared up….
“We have now 20 years of research that connects racism with just about every mental health issue that has been studied,” said Monnica Williams, a professor and the director of the laboratory for Culture and Mental Health Disparities at the University of Connecticut. The effect of “vicarious racism” — seeing, for example, videos of police shootings of unarmed black men, or hearing chants of “Send her back!” — has not been studied as much, according to Jessica Graham-LoPresti, an assistant professor of psychology at Suffolk University, but social media indicates the experience is certainly on the rise.
“People are being now not only exposed to their own experiences of racism, but they’re being vicariously exposed to everyone’s experience of racism,” she said, adding that patients often exhibit symptoms very similar to those from post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as depression and social anxiety.
Well, there’s the evidence that it’s true, it’s true. He’s driving us all crazy and making us nervous wrecks to the detriment of our mental, emotional and physical health.. The crazy thing is he can brag all he wants about the economy but it’s not doing as well as he promised or as it appears to people not familiar with the underlying economics.
Trump promised these huge growth rates and he’s failed to deliver. The coverage of downward revision in economic performance for 2018 is from Bloomberg and Rich Miller And, of course he’ll lie about it and scream that some one is cheating, because, well that’s what he does in his daily Gas Light the Nation tweets. These growth rates are pretty average during the peak of a boom. Remember. this boom did not start recently but somewhere during the last recovery and the Obama years.
President Donald Trump failed to achieve his much-ballyhooed 3% target for economic growth in 2018 after all.
Updated government figures show that gross domestic product expanded 2.5% on a fourth-quarter-over-fourth-quarter basis last year. That compares with a previous estimate of 3% and an upwardly revised 2.8% in 2017, the first year of Trump’s presidency.
Behind the 2018 markdown: Slower growth of business investment and exports, along with a greater output in the fourth quarter of 2017 that made the comparison less favorable.
Meanwhile, it appears that Republicans under Trump and McConnell will not be taking any interest in stopping Russian interference in elections. Why should they? It works so well for them.
Today’s NYT outlines Russian interference in the 2016 election in all 50 states. Can we just keep saying the election was stolen from Hillary quite loudly until Trump dies of a massive coronary or something?
The Senate Intelligence Committee concluded Thursday that election systems in all 50 states were targeted by Russia in 2016, an effort more far-reaching than previously acknowledged and one largely undetected by the states and federal officials at the time.
But while the bipartisan report’s warning that the United States remains vulnerable in the next election is clear, its findings were so heavily redacted at the insistence of American intelligence agencies that even some key recommendations for 2020 were blacked out.
The report — the first volume of several to be released from the committee’s investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference — came 24 hours after the former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III warned that Russia was moving again to interfere “as we sit here.”
While details of many of the hackings directed by Russian intelligence, particularly in Illinois and Arizona, are well known, the committee described “an unprecedented level of activity against state election infrastructure” intended largely to search for vulnerabilities in the security of the election systems.
McConnell has stopped bipartisan legislation to do something more about this (via The Hill). He announced that the Orange Shit Gibbon had done enough already and nothing to see here. I’m not a fan of Joe Scarborough but I do agree with his characterization of “Moscow” MItch. All of this keeps me wondering what exactly did the Russians get when they hacked the RNC?
Scarborough made the comments about the Kentucky Republican during a segment on “Morning Joe” after McConnell blocked two election security measures. The hashtag #MoscowMitch quickly began trending on Twitter following his comments.
Scarborough, a former GOP lawmaker, called McConnell’s actions “un-American.”
“How can Moscow Mitch so willingly turn a blind eye not only this year to what his Republican chairman of the Intel Committee is saying, to what Robert Mueller is saying, to what the FBI director is saying, to what the DNI [director of national intelligence] is saying, to what the CIA is saying, to what the United States military intel community is saying,” Scarborough asked.
“How can Moscow Mitch keep denying that [Russian President] Vladimir Putin continues to try to subvert American democracy?”
Scarborough accused McConnell of “aiding and abetting Vladimir Putin’s ongoing attempts to subvert American democracy” and said it was “un-American” for McConnell to block the Senate from taking up election security legislation.
#MoscowMitch is trending on Twitter right now.
This is from the Raw Story article cited in the above Twitter.
Reports that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked two bills aimed at helping to secure America’s election process from Russian interference infuriated Twitter commenters with his action — or inaction — coming right after ex-special counsel Robert Mueller testified that the Kremlin will seek to interfere just as they did in 2016.
The Senate majority leader blocked two election security bills twice this week and commenters were quick to note that the Republican leader also prevented the Obama administration from warning Americans about Russian meddling in 2016.
With the 2020 election right around the corner, McConnell’s decision to look the other way had one Twitter user calling him “Putin’s other puppet” — a reference to a nickname aimed at Donald Trump who was helped in his 2016 presidential run by Vladimir Putin.
Oh dear, now have to start doing my mantras again while popping Valerian Root. Tomorrow is Saturday and an entire day of SUV. Until then … om mani padme hum … om mani padme hum … now where is one of my comfort furbabies? Temple? Keely? Dinah? om mani padme hum!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
I believe the end of our national nightmare may be coming to an end. Yes, part of me really wants this to happen badly because I’m extremely tired of reading things like that useless wall plowing through a National Butterfly refuge and that children are dying in ICE custody because his base is a bunch of racist xenophobes and all plus the rest of the horrid things he’s been up to. But, I’m old and I’ve been through this before. Nixon resigned right after I graduated High School. I’m seeing many of the same signs that his days may be numbered. Oh, yes, the pictures are from our National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas (Hildago County along the Rio Grande).
Timothy O’Brien–writing for Bloomberg–explains how and why KKKremlin Caligula is in a ‘legal vise’. There is not one thing that the Trump Family crime syndicate owns or has been involved in that’s not under investigation by some component of our Justice System.
As President Donald Trump and his lawyers turn toward the new year, they’ll have to contend with a legal narrative that’s taken fuller shape through a flurry of court filings and news reports that began landing about three weeks ago and extended through Friday afternoon: Members of Trump’s presidential campaign – and possibly “Individual 1” himself – may have orchestrated a number of criminal conspiracies that took root before and during the 2016 presidential campaign, continued after Trump won the election, and have tainted the White House’s policies and torn at its operations ever since.
The breadth of investigations is so sweeping – as many on social media and reporters with the Washington Post, the Associated Press, and Bloomberg News have already noted – that few of the worlds Trump inhabits have escaped prosecutors’ attention. The Trump Organization, the Trump Foundation, the Trump family, the Trump campaign, the Trump transition, the Trump inauguration, and the Trump White House are all being probed for wrongdoing.
The Trump team’s possible collusion with Russia to sabotage and tilt the 2016 election, a probe spearheaded by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, pulls many strands of the investigations together. Trumplandia’s intersection with Russia may have started with business propositions more than a decade ago (such as the Trump SoHo hotel and condominium), and included more recent undertakings like a project in Moscow, before evolving into a political partnership during the 2016 campaign after Trump’s presidential prospects brightened.
A senate report details the incredibly complex and twisted the interference of Russian in the 2016. The presidential election was so tight in key electoral states that it’s very difficult to not see that the Trump Presidency is not a legitimate one. I can only imagine what the final Mueller report will elucidate.
As if the country didn’t have enough to be divided about, now the forces aligned for and against President Trump are battling over whether his presidency is legitimate.
The evidence emerging in recent days and months of crimes committed to help Trump win the presidency is fueling arguments from Democrats and other Trump critics that the man in the Oval Office got the job through nefarious means. Even without proof that those crimes swayed votes, the critics say Trump has no moral hold on the office.
In the past week, the legitimacy debate has swelled with each new court filing in cases stemming from the investigations into Trump’s 2016 campaign.
First came the statement by federal prosecutors in New York that Trump attorney Michael Cohen “sought to influence the election from the shadows” by arranging to pay hush money to women who said they had extramarital affairs with Trump. Then, on Tuesday, executives at the National Enquirer’s parent company admitted paying hush money to prevent news of the candidate’s alleged infidelities “from influencing the election.”
In Congress, in the media and among activists, criticism of Trump is increasingly taking the form of arguments that he won office fraudulently — especially as the hush-money revelations have landed atop allegations by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team that Russian agents engaged in a criminal scheme to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy.
“People don’t actually really consider Trump a legitimate president,” former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean said on MSNBC last month. “He was obviously elected and all this business, but he does not represent American values.”
Back to the Senate report on Russian Interference via WAPO. It’s pretty clear why Trump feels illegitimate and seeks to prove his election every time he speaks.
A report prepared for the Senate that provides the most sweeping analysis yet of Russia’s disinformation campaign around the 2016 election found the operation used every major social media platform to deliver words, images and videos tailored to voters’ interests to help elect President Trump — and worked even harder to support him while in office.
The report, a draft of which was obtained by The Washington Post, is the first to study the millions of posts provided by major technology firms to the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), its chairman, and Sen. Mark Warner (Va.), its ranking Democrat. The bipartisan panel hasn’t said whether it endorses the findings. It plans to release it publicly this week.
The research — by Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Project and Graphika, a network analysis firm — offers new details of how Russians working at the Internet Research Agency, which U.S. officials have charged with criminal offenses for interfering in the 2016 campaign, sliced Americans into key interest groups for targeted messaging. These efforts shifted over time, peaking at key political moments, such as presidential debates or party conventions, the report found.
The data sets used by the researchers were provided by Facebook, Twitter and Google and covered several years up to mid-2017, when the social media companies cracked down on the known Russian accounts. The report, which also analyzed data separately provided to House Intelligence Committee members, contains no information on more recent political moments, such as November’s midterm elections.
“What is clear is that all of the messaging clearly sought to benefit the Republican Party — and specifically Donald Trump,” the report says. “Trump is mentioned most in campaigns targeting conservatives and right-wing voters, where the messaging encouraged these groups to support his campaign. The main groups that could challenge Trump were then provided messaging that sought to confuse, distract and ultimately discourage members from voting.”
It appears they specifically targeted Black voters. This is from NBC News’ Ken Delianian
Two separate reports on the operation were prepared for senators, both of which were obtained by NBC News. Both sets of researchers found, as Mueller did, that the Internet Research Agency set out in the 2016 presidential election to help Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, in part by inflaming right-wing conspiracy theories and seeking to engender distrust among — and suppress the vote of — left-leaning groups, including African-Americans.
The Russians set up 30 Facebook pages targeting black Americans, the researchers found, and 10 YouTube channels that posted 571 videos related to police violence against African-Americans. YouTube, which is part of Alphabet, the holding company for Google, was not correct when it said in a statement last year that Russian content did not target a segment of U.S. society, the researchers concluded.
The Russians also set up hotlines that encourage people to discuss sexual or other personal problems the researchers found, raising the possibility they could use the information later to blackmail people. Through deceit, the Internet Research Agency recruited many Americans to take various political actions, the researchers found.
The post that drew the most attention featuring Trump emerged on Jan. 23, 2017, after his inauguration — a conspiracy theory asserting that President Barack Obama had refused to ban Sharia Law and encouraging President Trump to take action. It was shared 312,632 times from a page created by Russian propagandists.
The top post featuring Clinton came a month before the election, the researchers found — a soup of conspiracy theories alleging that she would win because of voter fraud and alluding to an armed uprising. It received 102,253 engagements, which can be anything from likes and shares to comments.
“This newly released data demonstrates how aggressively Russia sought to divide Americans by race, religion and ideology, and how the IRA actively worked to erode trust in our democratic institutions,” said Senate Committee on Intelligence chairman Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.
Frankly, Senator Burr, the same could be said about the Republican Party. This is why I agree with Melissa at Shakesville
What’s crucial to understand about this dynamic is that none of it would have been possible without decades of groundwork laid by the Republican Party.
It would not have been possible had the Republican Party not, for example, critically undermined the sort of corporate regulation that would have prevented the monopolies and the vacuum of oversight in which social media giants proliferated, with zero accountability to the populations they exploited in reckless cash grabs.
It would not have been possible had the Republican Party not, for example, ruthlessly fomented divisions among the U.S. populace, which created fissures into which any bad actor could shove their own crowbar to create massive breaks.
It would not have been possible had the Republican Party not, for example, abandoned their responsibility of good governance, willing instead to compromise the security of the nation — and ultimately its sovereignty — in order to win.
We’re just beginning to see the connections between the NRA, Russian Money, the Republicans, and elections. What other Republicans will be found with Russian money and connections besides Dana Rohrbacher? A new poll suggests no one believes Trump now. When will that extend to the rest of his cronies? From NBC News: Poll: 62 percent say Trump isn’t telling the truth in Russia probe. More Americans want Democrats — not Trump — in charge of setting policy, a new national NBC News/WSJ poll finds.
Six in 10 Americans say President Donald Trump has been untruthful about the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, while half of the country says the investigation has given them doubts about Trump’s presidency, according to a new national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
The survey, conducted a month after the results of November’s midterm elections, also finds more Americans want congressional Democrats — rather than Trump or congressional Republicans — to take the lead role in setting policy for the country.
And just 10 percent of respondents say that the president has gotten the message for a change in direction from the midterms — when the GOP lost control of the U.S. House of Representatives but kept its majority in the U.S. Senate — and that he’s making the necessary adjustments.
Polls like these are likely to stick the more news we get from all these investigations. How long can the party ignore them? The Plum line argues that Trump’s been weakened.
Stephen Miller, the Trump kingdom’s Immigration Iago, wants you to believe that his boss retains great leverage in the ongoing government shutdown fight — so much so that he will, repeat will, get his great border wall. Miller, a top White House adviser, said Sunday that President Trump will “do whatever is necessary” to force Democrats to cough up the $5 billion he wants for the wall and will “absolutely” shut down the government to get it.
In reality, it’s not even clear that Trump has sufficient Republican support to get his wall money out of Congress. The New York Times now reports that Republicans aren’t even sure that this funding would pass the House, because many Republicans who were defeated in the midterms might not bother showing up to vote for it.
Wait, this cannot be! Miller, after all, spent much of his “Face the Nation” appearanceexcoriating Democrats over the wall. Democrats have instead offered far less in border security funding, with restrictions against spending it for that purpose. Miller suggested Democrats have the weaker position, claiming they must “choose to fight for America’s working class, or to promote illegal immigration.”
Wow, what a powerful message! That must be the same message that carried Trump and House Republicans to a great midterms victory! Oh wait, the opposite happened. This has gone down the memory hole, but last summer, Miller vowed that precisely that same contrast on immigration would prove potent for Republicans. They ran the most virulently xenophobic nationalist campaign in memory — and lost the House by the largest raw-vote margin in midterm elections history.
The meta-message that Miller hoped to convey is that Trump retains formidable strength in the shutdown battle over the wall, but the real story right now is that Trump is weakened. He lacks leverage in the shutdown fight, and it’s plausible that he’s losing influence over congressional Republicans.
So, how far can the party take the policy of dead and imprisoned immigrant children with tattoed numbers waiting to seek legal refuge and ravaged butterfly sanctuaries? My guess is that everything but the tweets go dark in the six week hold up at Mar a Lago. The NJ one is under investigation by the state so it seems he’s got few options to hide out these days. He’ll have sixteen days to stew and discuss what to do with all the other out of touch greedos.
Meanwhile, I just hope we clear him out before he can do any more damage. But, then there’s Pence …
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
I woke this morning at 5 am to the sound of a tornado warning going off on my smartphone. This is not exactly the most welcome sound at any early hour but particularly cruel on a Monday. Some how, it seems that our endless experience with tornadoes and the torrential rain, wind and hail are metaphorical harbingers of the state of our country. The weather is getting more extreme and severe and yet we’re in the process of going back to denial and letting it happen. I wonder if Alexandria and the other small communities of Louisiana will be able to get a Federal State of Emergency signed in time. I’m not hopeful. Eastern New Orleans is still waiting for a lot of help after the destruction of the February 7 Tornado Outbreak.
This so didn’t have to happen.
I don’t know how much longer I can endure hearing or seeing either Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump on TV or any place else. How did two throwbacks to the past become installed as “leaders” when they basically look to turn our national dreams into the national nightmares of the past? Headlines regale us of the antics of old, snotty white men like Bernie, Donald, and Mitch McConnell who are desperately trying to put women, minorities, immigrants, and the GLBT community back in their historical places. Alarms should be sounding constantly. Hell is being rained on our civil rights, liberties, and democracy. Just “Gimme Some Truth”.
There are some incredible and powerful reads for you today. Here’s the one on my list from the LA Times. They’re running a four part series on the incredible lying Kremlin Caligula. Here’s the link to the Sunday Op Ed that kicks it off: “Our Dishonest President”. Don the Con may soon replace Tricky Dicky in the National Hall of Shameful Presidential Crooks.
It was no secret during the campaign that Donald Trump was a narcissist and a demagogue who used fear and dishonesty to appeal to the worst in American voters. The Times called him unprepared and unsuited for the job he was seeking, and said his election would be a “catastrophe.”
Still, nothing prepared us for the magnitude of this train wreck. Like millions of other Americans, we clung to a slim hope that the new president would turn out to be all noise and bluster, or that the people around him in the White House would act as a check on his worst instincts, or that he would be sobered and transformed by the awesome responsibilities of office.
Instead, seventy-some days in — and with about 1,400 to go before his term is completed — it is increasingly clear that those hopes were misplaced.
In a matter of weeks, President Trump has taken dozens of real-life steps that, if they are not reversed, will rip families apart, foul rivers and pollute the air, intensify the calamitous effects of climate change and profoundly weaken the system of American public education for all.
His attempt to de-insure millions of people who had finally received healthcare coverage and, along the way, enact a massive transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich has been put on hold for the moment. But he is proceeding with his efforts to defang the government’s regulatory agencies and bloat the Pentagon’s budget even as he supposedly retreats from the global stage.
These are immensely dangerous developments which threaten to weaken this country’s moral standing in the world, imperil the planet and reverse years of slow but steady gains by marginalized or impoverished Americans. But, chilling as they are, these radically wrongheaded policy choices are not, in fact, the most frightening aspect of the Trump presidency.
What is most worrisome about Trump is Trump himself. He is a man so unpredictable, so reckless, so petulant, so full of blind self-regard, so untethered to reality that it is impossible to know where his presidency will lead or how much damage he will do to our nation. His obsession with his own fame, wealth and success, his determination to vanquish enemies real and imagined, his craving for adulation — these traits were, of course, at the very heart of his scorched-earth outsider campaign; indeed, some of them helped get him elected. But in a real presidency in which he wields unimaginable power, they are nothing short of disastrous.
Go savor every word of it.
Yes. The Trumptanic is going down. What will it take with it? This is from the keyboard of Jonathan Allen writing for Roll Call.
Dear Republican member of the House:
Run away from Donald Trump. Run hard. Run fast. And don’t look over your shoulder.
This president doesn’t care about you, he doesn’t share your values, and a dumpster fire would be envious of his reckless disregard for everything and everyone around him.
Senate Republicans have figured this out, and their distancing act is well underway. Sure, they say supportive things, but look at their actions.
When Trump’s first bill was headed toward the House floor, several Senate Republicans openly pressed their colleagues not to pass it. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t crack down on them a bit. And, when the clunky-at-best legislation was pulled from the floor, he pronounced it dead even as the White House and House GOP leaders were explaining how they might revive it
The chances that we will see impeachment are going up as quickly as Trump’s poll numbers are plummeting. This is from Juan Williams writing for The Hill.
Last week, a new poll from the liberal outfit Public Policy Polling (PPP) asked Americans if President Trump should resign if evidence emerges that his campaign worked with Russia to help defeat Hillary Clinton. A majority, 53 percent, said he should resign.
That is important because PPP also found that 44 percent of Americans already believe that Trump’s campaign did just that.
It is no fantasy to say the drip-drip-drip of the Trump-Russia investigations is draining this presidency of political capital. The president’s historically high disapproval rating — 51 percent in the latest McClatchy poll — tells the same story.
That’s why astute Republicans are starting to look out for themselves.
The first Republican to begin to run for cover was Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who decided to recuse himself from any role in the investigation. Last week Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, sought immunity in exchange for his testimony to congressional investigators.
A majority of Americans want a special prosecutor — including 39 percent of Republicans, according to one poll. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has called for Congress to form a bipartisan select committee to probe ties between Russia and the Trump camp.
I loved this headline from Raw Story: Trump allies in short supply as DC finds out trusting him is ‘like putting your faith in a human IED’. It talks about Trump’s new war on the Freedom Caucus.
At heart, the Freedom Caucus agrees with the basic principle of Trumpism: that Washington doesn’t work, that its members are denizens of a corrupt and dysfunctional swamp, and that only a revolution in its operations can save the republic. The dilemma for Trump is that conservatives largely built their base of support on fierce opposition to the establishment agenda, and an ability to gum it up to the point nothing gets done. Its hardline members think it’s better to maintain gridlock rather than allow bad government to continue.
Trump may agree with that, but as president he also needs to get things done. He made promises after all: to repeal Obamacare, to reshape the tax system, to build a wall … lots of things. If he can’t follow through, what’s the point of being president
Unfortunately, Trump’s inexperience and basic lack of understanding of government – and reluctance to learn – evidently included ignorance of the fact the president lacks the power of a chief executive, and is dependent on Congress to approve major initiatives. He can’t just wave his hand and order compliance. He needs the votes. But Democrats won’t vote with him out of principle, and moderate Republicans still recall how gleefully he savaged them during his election bid. He pretty much dedicated himself to chasing their sorry asses out of Washington.
Doncha love it when you can watch Evil fight Evil?
This all will undoubtedly happen but only after the Republicans pull their prize from the National Crack Jack box. That would be the radical and unfit Gorsuch being placed to do decades of damage on the Supreme Court. Mitch McConnell wants white male supremacy so badly that he’s going to go nuclear.
Senators in both parties are speculating that a blowup over President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court could lead not only to the end of the filibuster for such nominations, but for controversial legislation as well.
While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the legislative filibuster is safe, lawmakers fear that pressure will grow to get rid of it if Democrats block Neil Gorsuch’s nomination this week.
McConnell has all but promised to change the Senate’s rules to allow Gorsuch to be confirmed in a majority vote if Democrats filibuster him.
The showdown will take place later this week after a Senate Judiciary Committee vote on Monday.
Senators in both parties are worried about how the fight over Gorsuch will affect the filibuster.
“The thing I worry most about is that we become like the House of Representatives. What’s the next step? Legislation?” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
“I’m convinced it’s a slippery slope.”
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) warned last week on the Senate floor that growing pressure from the right and the left will make it difficult to withstand calls to eliminate the legislative filibuster.
“If we continue on the path we’re on right now, the very next time there’s a legislative proposal that one side of the aisle feels is so important they cannot let their base down, the pressure builds, then we’re going to vote the nuclear option on the legislative piece,” he said.
“That’s what will happen. Somebody will do it.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), one of only three Democrats who have explicitly said they’d oppose a filibuster of Gorsuch, warns the Senate is in danger of becoming a smaller version of the House, where the minority party has few rights.
“People who have been here for a long time know that we’re going down the wrong path here. The most unique political body in the world, the United States Senate, will be no more than a six-year term in the House,” he said.
“I’m doing whatever I can to preserve he 60-vote rule,” he said.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), who like Manchin says she will vote to allow Gorsuch’s nomination to move forward, said she is also concerned about the legislative filibuster.
“This erosion that seems to be happening, of course I’m worried about it,” she said.
Gorsuch picked up a third Democratic vote on Sunday when Sen. Joe Donnelly (Ind.) said he would back him
It’s being reported (NPR here) that the Dems have to votes to filibuster.
Senate Democrats now have enough votes to block the Supreme Court nomination under current Senate rules, which require 60 votes to proceed on a nomination.
That sets up a showdown later this week that will likely lead to a reinterpretation of Senate rules, so that the nominations of Supreme Court justices can be advanced with 51-vote majorities, rather than the preliminary 60-vote threshold that has long applied to high court nominations.
“If we have to, we will change the rules,” Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said during Monday’s Judiciary Committee meeting. “It looks like we’re going to have to.”
Yup, right. We’ve learned that this last few years in spades. The Republican motto is “Cheat if you have to”.
So, I’ve saved the best for last. You must read this excerpt of a book by Susan Bordo at The Guardian: ‘The destruction of Hillary Clinton: sexism, Sanders and the millennial feminists’. It’s a long and cathartic read.
Many books have been written about the way racial differences among feminists both divided and pushed feminist thinking and practice forward over the past several decades. In the 2016 election, however, it was not race but generation that was the dynamic factor among left-leaning women. Women like me, who experienced many cultural battles in the “gender wars” firsthand – from the first scornful comments that journalists had heaped on “women’s libbers”, to the public shaming of Anita Hill, to the renewed threats to bodily rights that we thought we had won decades earlier – brought to the 2016 campaign a personal knowledge of the fragility of feminist accomplishments and an identification with Hillary that was deeper and longer than any current headlines.
We may have winced – as I did – when Madeleine Albright quoted a coffee-cup version of feminism or Hillary said “deal me in”. But we understood that behind every seeming appeal to “sisterhood” was the history of what was indeed a revolution – and one that was far from over. We knew the role Hillary had played in that revolution, and the price she had paid for it. Many of us, too, had followed Clinton through the course of her public career, had read her autobiography, and knew very well that the accusation that she had come to issues concerning racial and economic justice late and “for political purposes” was among the most extraordinary fabrications of the campaign.
Many younger women, on the other hand – no less feminist, no less committed to gender equality – had formed their ideas about “the Clintons”, as Savannah Barker reminds us, in the shadow of 20 years of relentless personal and political attacks. Few of them – as I know from decades of teaching courses on feminism, gender issues, and the social movements of the 60s – were aware of the “living history” (to borrow Hillary’s phrase) that shaped the woman herself.
These young women weren’t around when the GOP, appalled that liberals like the Clintons had somehow grabbed political power, began a series of witchhunts that have never ended. (Hillary was correct: it has been a “vast rightwing conspiracy”, from the Spectator magazine’s “Arkansas Project”, designed specifically to take Bill Clinton down, to Kenneth Starr’s relentless digging into Bill’s private life, to the Benghazi and email investigations.)
They hadn’t experienced a decade of culture wars in which feminists’ efforts to bring histories of gender and race struggle into the educational curriculum were reduced to a species of political correctness. They didn’t witness the complicated story of how the 1994 crime bill came to be passed or the origins of the “super-predator” label (not coined by Hillary and not referring to black youth, but rather to powerful, older drug dealers).
It isn’t necessary, of course, to have firsthand knowledge of history in order to have an informed idea of events and issues. When it came to Hillary Clinton, however, sorting out fact from politically motivated fiction was a difficult task, particularly if one’s knowledge was filtered through the medium of election-year battles.
The 2016 election was no academically rigorous history course; it was dominated by versions of Hillary Clinton constructed by her political opponents and transmitted by reporters who usually don’t see offering context as their job and don’t have the time (or, for some, the inclination) to sort fact from fiction. And then, too, after decades of harsh schooling in the ways of politics and the media, Hillary herself was no longer the outspoken feminist who chastised reporters when they questioned her life choices, but a cautious campaigner who measured her words with care.
I knew just what one of my graduate students meant when I asked her how millennial feminists saw Hillary and she said “a white lady”. A white woman herself, she wasn’t referring to the colour of Hillary’s skin, or even her racial politics, but rather what was perceived as her membership in the dominant class, all cleaned up and normalised, aligned with establishment power rather than the forces of resistance, and stylistically coded (her tightly coiffed hair; her neat, boring pantsuits; her circumspection) with her membership in that class. When I looked at Hillary, I saw someone very different – but I understood the basis for my student’s perception.
So that’s a long excerpt but I had trouble just finding one little nugget to highlight.
Which brings me to Bernie and Berning Down the House. Bernie’s Tad Devine appears to be yet another Paul Manafort with deep ties and economic interests with Russians. Berners and Trumpsters were taken in by Russian Bots and propaganda. Many of them are still dead enders that insist on some kind of “progressive purity”. After I go after these ties in two links, I will return to the Bordo book. (And I am amazed at how I want to say Bardo when I see her name.)
But Manafort was not the only American political consultant in 2016 who had a checkered history of muddying the waters of international politics. In 2009 Manafort was working to help improve the image of pro-Russian Ukranian politician Viktor Yanukovych in an effort to make the presidential nominee seem more accessible, and thus more palatable, to the American Congress. Joining Manafort in that effort was an American consultant named Tad Devine, a man who himself had a dubious history of foreign intervention. Among Devine’s highlights is having worked for exiled Bolivian president Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada in 2002 as well as ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya in 2005. Devine then worked for Yanukovych from 2006 up until he was elected president of Ukraine in 2010. Like both Lozada and Zelaya, Yanukovych has since been removed from power and he currently resides in exile in Russia and just happens to be wanted for treason in Ukraine.
In addition to having supported corrupt politicians abroad, Devine has also supported unsuccessful presidential candidates here at home. Devine had increasing roles in the campaigns of Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Bob Kerry, Al Gore, and John Kerry. After having previously worked on actual successful campaigns for Bernie Sanders’ 1996 congressional run as well as his 2006 senatorial run, Devine officially joined Sanders’ presidential campaign as a senior advisor in May of 2015. Over the course of the next fourteen months, Devine not only became one of the mouthpieces of the campaign but was also able to net himself a pretty penny. According to Slate, through both his consulting work as well as his work with Old Time Media, Devine was able to net himself roughly $10 million through his work on the campaign. For a campaign that prided itself as going to fight for the little guy, Devine, an establishment political consultant and friend of Bernie Sanders, seemed perfectly content to pocket millions of dollars.
But Devine’s hefty payday might not have been paid for entirely by gullible Americans giving $27 each. Throughout the Democratic primary, the Sanders campaign was cited for FEC violations on three separate occasions including a mysterious $10 million donation from a single address in Washington, DC. Despite consistent calls for financial transparency on the campaign trail, the Sanders campaign was exceedingly secretive when it came to its own finances. After twice filing for extensions from the FEC, the Sanders campaign ultimately decided to forgo its final financial disclosure statement in June citing the fact that campaign was no longer active, they were thinking of using lån uten sikkerhet some financial help to be able to raise the business. This decision was accompanied by the news that Sanders himself had purchased a $575,000 home in August, much to the dismay of his loyal followers. The home would be the third residence for Sanders, someone who railed against a system that increasingly favored the millionaires and billionaires of our country.
Yet these financial gains for both Devine and Sanders would never have been possible had it not been for the millions of campaign contributions that came their way. And the only way to get campaign contributions is to convince your supporters you might actually have a chance to win. Luckily for Devine and Sanders, they had some foreign friends who were willing to step in. As reported by Rachel Maddow late on Tuesday, there existed an army of Russian bots who were weaponized to influence our election. Many of them took to various social media sites to discredit and disrupt Hillary Clinton’s campaign and thus, enegize potential Bernie Sanders supporters. Knowing that Clinton had been a target of right-wing media smears for a quarter-century, all the bots had to do was plant this seed to potential Sanders supporters, many of whom had no experience in politics, to get them onboard with the Sanders campaign. By doing this, Sanders and Devine were able to successfully pocket millions of dollars all while pretending to be champions of the common man.
Indeed, some estimates now say that as much as one-fifth of Twitter traffic was controlled by pro-Trump, anti-Clinton bots and troll accounts during the election. With these #MAGA account attacks, it was relatively easy to block them and move on — emotionally, at least, as the abuse they delivered was easy to deflect because “they” were not “people” with whom I believed I had values in common in the first place.
However, the rest of the abuse came from accounts purporting to be supporters of Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders. And these were “people” with whom I believed I shared common values and policy interests. Almost all of the accounts presented as men — mostly young and white — and used sexist and misogynistic tones and words. I was called “mom” and “grandma” as epithets by these “young men.” I was called every vile sexualized name you can imagine. For some reason that I did not understand at the time, they liked to call me a “vagina.” (I now believe non-native English — i.e. Russian — speakers wrote the algorithms controlling these bots and perhaps imagined “vagina” to be the equivalent of the c-word when hurled at a woman.) Not being conversant in the mechanisms of Russian psychological warfare techniques at the time, it never occurred to me that, like the #MAGA bots, these “Bernie Bro” accounts were actually bots too.
And the abuse from these accounts was much harder to dismiss. It wentin further, emotionally speaking. The vitriol of the attacks felt like a painful betrayal. After all, “we” probably shared 99 percent of our political perspective; we just supported different candidates — which is something I said repeatedly in my attempts to appeal to reason with some of the attackers over the course of those long months. Nonetheless, even the mildest criticism of Sanders or comment of support for Clinton would bring out a swarm of these “Bernie Bro” accounts spouting off with abusive language and mockery.
It was not just me who experienced this — nearly every female supporter of Clinton I know who was outspoken on Twitter or Facebook received similar treatment. In addition, men of color who were vocal Clinton supporters were targeted in a similar way. The abuse was also highly targeted toward journalists, especially female journalists reporting on the primary and opinion journalists who were supportive of Clinton.
None of us knew we were being targeted for psychological warfare by a foreign power during these exchanges.
The attacks started in late 2015 and escalated through early 2016. Most of these accounts no longer exist to link to, but others on twitter noticed similar patterns.
I am now called a “pantsuiter” by progressive Dems who still think Bernie’s the future. It’s a the same as being called a gramdma by a damned Russian Troll and they were obviously well-schooled by them. Back to the brilliant Susan Bordo.
And as much as I am in agreement with many of his ideas, Bernie Sanders splintered and ultimately sabotaged the Democratic party – not because he chose to run against Hillary Clinton, but because of how he ran against her.
Sanders often boasted about the importance of the issues rather than individuals, of not playing dirty politics or running nasty ads in his campaign. And it’s certainly true that he didn’t slime Hillary by bringing Bill’s sexual accusers forward or by recommending that she be put in jail, as Trump did. He also seemed, at the beginning of the primary season, to be refreshingly dismissive about the “email scandal”: “Enough already about the damned emails!” he shouted at the first debate, and I remember thinking “Good man, Bernie! Way to go!” But within months, taking advantage of justified frustration with politics as usual (a frustration more appropriately aimed at GOP stonewalling of Democratic legislation), Sanders was taking Hillary down in a different way: as an establishment tool and creature of Wall Street.
“I think, frankly,” he said in January, campaigning in New Hampshire, “it’s hard to be a real progressive and to take on the establishment in a way that I think [it] has to be taken on, when you come as dependent as she has through her super PAC and in other ways on Wall Street and drug-company money.”
Progressive. It’s a term with a long, twisty history. In the 19th century, it was associated with those who argued for the moral “cleansing” of the nation. A century ago, both racist Southern Democrats and the founders of the NAACP claimed it for their purposes. The Communist party has described itself as progressive. By the time Sanders argued that Clinton was “not a true progressive”, the word was not very useful descriptively – one can be progressive in some ways and not so progressive in others, and no politician that I know of has ever struck every progressive chord. Context matters, too. As Jonathan Cohn wrote, in May: “If Sanders is the standard by which you’re going to decide whether a politician is a progressive, then almost nobody from the Democratic party would qualify. Take Sanders out of the equation, and suddenly Clinton looks an awful lot like a mainstream progressive.”
For Sanders supporters, however, progressive wasn’t an ill-defined, historically malleable label, but rather a badge of honor, a magical talisman for those who considered themselves anti-establishment. It may have been “a fallback identifier for pretty much anyone The Nation and its journalistic kin smiled upon” (as Michael Kazin described it), but it was an identifier with a great deal of potency, particularly for a younger generation longing for lives organised around something other than job hunting. When Sanders denied that badge of honour to Clinton he wasn’t distinguishing his agenda from hers (their positions on most issues were, in reality, pretty similar), he was excluding her from the company of the good and pure – and in the process, limiting what counted as progressive causes, too. His list didn’t include the struggle for reproductive rights or affordable child care. Nor, at the beginning of his campaign, was there much emphasis on racial justice.
So which ones on the list did the Trumpsters and Berners fall for and who was duped the worst?
First, there’s provokatsiya (provocation), which is the cornerstone of the Russian espionage worldview. This part of Kremlin spy culture is older than the Bolsheviks, dating to the late Tsarist era, when Russia invented the modern intelligence agency to fight anarchist terrorists.
Provocation is complicated, but at its most basic involves secret acts to confuse and dismay your enemy. The recent antics of Devin Nunes, chair of the House Intelligence Committee—positing conflicting and unsubstantiated allegations of malfeasance by our spy agencies—are a classic provocation designed to divert attention from the White House as its Russia crisis mounts. Regardless of whether anyone in Russia has a hand in this, the Kremlin surely approves.
Provokatsiya gets more complicated and nefarious from there, with the ultimate aim of turning the tables on your enemy and defeating him detail—before he realizes what’s happened. As I’ve explained, this involves a lot of shady stuff such as:
Taking control of your enemies in secret and encouraging them to do things that discredit them and help you. You plant your own agents provocateurs and flip legitimate activists, turning them to your side…While this isn’t a particularly nice technique, it works surprisingly well, particularly if you don’t care about bloody and messy consequences.
Moscow is alarmingly forward-leaning about provocation, and the Kremlin’s traditional devil-may-care attitude about these dirty tricks means it’s a safe bet that when you encounter rabid anti-Putin activists, there’s a solid chance some of them are secretly working for the Russians.
So far, it’s been a slow news day. Deadly tornadoes, bombs in St Petersburg, and threats from North Korea, plus a boatload of hearings and a vote on a nimrod SCOTUS nomination are all up for grabs. (Snark font on)
Let me know what’s on your mind and blogging list today. I’d like to go back to bed but I have to grade homework. I’m tired and seriously behind. I need to go soak in some sun too while it’s out there.