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Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

01/01/2003 - 02/01/2003 02/01/2003 - 03/01/2003 03/01/2003 - 04/01/2003 04/01/2003 - 05/01/2003 05/01/2003 - 06/01/2003 06/01/2003 - 07/01/2003 07/01/2003 - 08/01/2003 08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003 09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003 10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003 11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003 12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004 01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004 02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004 03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004 09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005 07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005 09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005 10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005 11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005 12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006 01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006 02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006 03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006 06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006 07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006 08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006 09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006 10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006 11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006 12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007 01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007 02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007 03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007 04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007 05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007 06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007 07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007 08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007 09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007 10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007 11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007 12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008 01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008 02/01/2008 - 03/01/2008 03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008 04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008 05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008 06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008 07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008 08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008 09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008 10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008 11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008 12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009 01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009 02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009 03/01/2009 - 04/01/2009 04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009 05/01/2009 - 06/01/2009 06/01/2009 - 07/01/2009 07/01/2009 - 08/01/2009 08/01/2009 - 09/01/2009 09/01/2009 - 10/01/2009 10/01/2009 - 11/01/2009 11/01/2009 - 12/01/2009 12/01/2009 - 01/01/2010 01/01/2010 - 02/01/2010 02/01/2010 - 03/01/2010 03/01/2010 - 04/01/2010 04/01/2010 - 05/01/2010 05/01/2010 - 06/01/2010 06/01/2010 - 07/01/2010 07/01/2010 - 08/01/2010 08/01/2010 - 09/01/2010 09/01/2010 - 10/01/2010 10/01/2010 - 11/01/2010 11/01/2010 - 12/01/2010 12/01/2010 - 01/01/2011 01/01/2011 - 02/01/2011 02/01/2011 - 03/01/2011 03/01/2011 - 04/01/2011 04/01/2011 - 05/01/2011 05/01/2011 - 06/01/2011 06/01/2011 - 07/01/2011 07/01/2011 - 08/01/2011 08/01/2011 - 09/01/2011 09/01/2011 - 10/01/2011 10/01/2011 - 11/01/2011 11/01/2011 - 12/01/2011 12/01/2011 - 01/01/2012 01/01/2012 - 02/01/2012 02/01/2012 - 03/01/2012 03/01/2012 - 04/01/2012 04/01/2012 - 05/01/2012 05/01/2012 - 06/01/2012 06/01/2012 - 07/01/2012 07/01/2012 - 08/01/2012 08/01/2012 - 09/01/2012 09/01/2012 - 10/01/2012 10/01/2012 - 11/01/2012 11/01/2012 - 12/01/2012 12/01/2012 - 01/01/2013 01/01/2013 - 02/01/2013 02/01/2013 - 03/01/2013 03/01/2013 - 04/01/2013 04/01/2013 - 05/01/2013 05/01/2013 - 06/01/2013 06/01/2013 - 07/01/2013 07/01/2013 - 08/01/2013 08/01/2013 - 09/01/2013 09/01/2013 - 10/01/2013 10/01/2013 - 11/01/2013 11/01/2013 - 12/01/2013 12/01/2013 - 01/01/2014 01/01/2014 - 02/01/2014 02/01/2014 - 03/01/2014 03/01/2014 - 04/01/2014 04/01/2014 - 05/01/2014 05/01/2014 - 06/01/2014 06/01/2014 - 07/01/2014 07/01/2014 - 08/01/2014 08/01/2014 - 09/01/2014 09/01/2014 - 10/01/2014 10/01/2014 - 11/01/2014 11/01/2014 - 12/01/2014 12/01/2014 - 01/01/2015 01/01/2015 - 02/01/2015 02/01/2015 - 03/01/2015 03/01/2015 - 04/01/2015 04/01/2015 - 05/01/2015 05/01/2015 - 06/01/2015 06/01/2015 - 07/01/2015 07/01/2015 - 08/01/2015 08/01/2015 - 09/01/2015 09/01/2015 - 10/01/2015 10/01/2015 - 11/01/2015 11/01/2015 - 12/01/2015 12/01/2015 - 01/01/2016 01/01/2016 - 02/01/2016 02/01/2016 - 03/01/2016 03/01/2016 - 04/01/2016 04/01/2016 - 05/01/2016 05/01/2016 - 06/01/2016 06/01/2016 - 07/01/2016 07/01/2016 - 08/01/2016 08/01/2016 - 09/01/2016 09/01/2016 - 10/01/2016 10/01/2016 - 11/01/2016 11/01/2016 - 12/01/2016 12/01/2016 - 01/01/2017


 

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Hullabaloo


Friday, December 09, 2016

 
Friday Night Soother: sloths FTW

by digby




I think we need some baby sloths tonight. And a good stiff drink:



.
 
Return of the Eunuch Caucus

by digby




I'm just going to leave this here:
Privately, House Republicans complain that Trump’s infrastructure plan reeks of Obama’s stimulus package (though some argue that Trump, unlike Obama, is likely to rely on public-private partnerships, not just federal dollars, and is likely to be paid for). . . . 
Many are afraid to publicly oppose Trump because of his fondness for retribution and use of Twitter to publicly shame his critics. So now, they’re left crossing their fingers that his rhetoric doesn’t translate into actual policy proposals next year.
I used to call the congressional Republicans the Eunuch Caucus during the Bush years. Looks like they're reverting to type.


.
 
The reascendance of the cretins: abortion edition

by digby



















This fine fellow is at least honest and I, for one, appreciate it. He is a lawmaker in Ohio which just passed the most draconian abortion restrictions in the country.
Republican Representative Jim Buchy was a strong proponent for the bill, which he said would “encourage personal responsibility.” “What we have here is really the need to give people the incentive to be more responsible so we reduce unwanted pregnancies, and by the way, the vast majority of abortions are performed on women who were not raped,” he told Ohio Public Radio.

Buchy is a longtime proponent of restricting women’s access to abortion — in 2012, he told Al Jazeera that his ultimate goal is to ban abortion completely in the state of Ohio. Then, the reporter asked him an interesting question: “What do you think makes a woman want to have an abortion?”

He pauses. Then he says, “Well, there’s probably a lot of reas— I’m not a woman.” He laughs. “I’m thinking now if I’m a woman why would I want to get … Some of it has to do with economics. A lot of it has to do with economics. I don’t know. It’s a question I’ve never even thought about.”

And he doesn't care what the reasons are because he believes this is all a matter of making women take "personal responsibility." If the ladies insist on having sex they have to pay the price: childbearing. It's the only way to keep 'em in line.

Trump has said that his picks for he Supreme Court will be anti-abortion --- he's not even trying to pretend there is no litmus test. This may be about to get very real.

.


 
Trump's eugenics

by digby


Actually, it's MONEY through family but whatevs .. 





















I have noted this before but it's worth looking at again. Trump is a eugenicist who believes that he and his family have superior genes and his wealth proves it. Remember this?



Trump biographer Michael D'Antonio explains that Trump was raised to believe that success is genetic, and that some people are just more superior than others:

"The family subscribes to a racehorse theory of human development. They believe that there are superior people and that if you put together the genes of a superior woman and a superior man, you get a superior offspring."

Huffington Post also took the liberty of compiling a whole bunch of times Trump suggested that genes are the main factor behind brains and superiority. Here are just a few choice quotes from good ol' Trump:

"All men are created equal. Well, it's not true. 'Cause some are smart, some aren't."

"When you connect two racehorses, you usually end up with a fast horse."

"Secretariat doesn't produce slow horses."

"Do we believe in the gene thing? I mean, I do."

"I have great genes and all that stuff which, I'm a believer in."
Well, there's actually a much better explanation for Trump's success:
We’re in an era of the cult of the entrepreneur. We analyze the Tory Burches and Evan Spiegels of the world looking for a magic formula or set of personality traits that lead to success. Entrepreneurship is on the rise, and more students coming out of business schools are choosing startup life over Wall Street.

But what often gets lost in these conversations is that the most common shared trait among entrepreneurs is access to financial capital—family money, an inheritance, or a pedigree and connections that allow for access to financial stability. While it seems that entrepreneurs tend to have an admirable penchant for risk, it’s usually that access to money which allows them to take risks.

And this is a key advantage: When basic needs are met, it’s easier to be creative; when you know you have a safety net, you are more willing to take risks. “Many other researchers have replicated the finding that entrepreneurship is more about cash than dash,” University of Warwick professor Andrew Oswald tells Quartz. “Genes probably matter, as in most things in life, but not much.”

Trump has certainly been creative ... in covering his ass. He managed to get bankers to keep loaning to him when he was clearly totally inept and repeatedly going bankrupts. It took them decades to catch on. He appears not to have federal income taxes for decades. And he just duped a large minority of Americans that he was going to turn back the clock and make them all billionaires. So, he creative alright. The way the best con artists are creative.

But he couldn't have done that without daddy's money. Not in a million years.

.




 
Old paranoid Flynn

by digby















He's so deep into the fever swamp he's drowning in it:
Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Donald Trump's pick to be his national security adviser, claimed in an August radio interview that Arabic signs were present along the United States border with Mexico to guide potential state-sponsored terrorists and "radicalized Muslims" into the United States.

Flynn further said in the interview he had personally seen photos of such signs in Texas.

A CNN KFile review of available information about the terror threat along the US-Mexico border could not corroborate Flynn's claim. CNN's KFile asked Flynn for clarification about the Arabic signs, but received no reply. A Trump transition spokesman declined to comment. A spokesperson for the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) "respectfully" declined to comment.

"I know from my friends in the Border Patrol in CBP that there are countries -- radical Islamist countries, state-sponsored -- that are cutting deals with Mexican drug cartels for some of what they call the 'lanes of entry' into our country," Flynn said in an interview with Breitbart News on SiriusXM radio. "And I have personally seen the photos of the signage along those paths that are in Arabic. They're like way points along that path as you come in. Primarily, in this case the one that I saw was in Texas and it's literally, it's like signs, that say, in Arabic, 'this way, move to this point.' It's unbelievable."

"This rise of Muslims and radicalized Muslims coming into our country illegally is something that we should pay very, very close attention to," he added.


This is the kind of crap he's talking about. And it came from that highly respected organization Judicial Watch, the same group the mainstream media breathlessly followed and reported their every dispatch on the "Clinton email" saga as if they'd discovered a new Dead Sea Scroll:

ISIS is operating a camp just a few miles from El Paso, Texas, according to Judicial Watch sources that include a Mexican Army field grade officer and a Mexican Federal Police Inspector.

The exact location where the terrorist group has established its base is around eight miles from the U.S. border in an area known as “Anapra” situated just west of Ciudad Juárez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Another ISIS cell to the west of Ciudad Juárez, in Puerto Palomas, targets the New Mexico towns of Columbus and Deming for easy access to the United States, the same knowledgeable sources confirm.

During the course of a joint operation last week, Mexican Army and federal law enforcement officials discovered documents in Arabic and Urdu, as well as “plans” of Fort Bliss – the sprawling military installation that houses the US Army’s 1st Armored Division. Muslim prayer rugs were recovered with the documents during the operation.

Law enforcement and intelligence sources report the area around Anapra is dominated by the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes Cartel (“Juárez Cartel”), La Línea (the enforcement arm of the cartel) and the Barrio Azteca (a gang originally formed in the jails of El Paso). Cartel control of the Anapra area make it an extremely dangerous and hostile operating environment for Mexican Army and Federal Police operations.

According to these same sources, “coyotes” engaged in human smuggling – and working for Juárez Cartel – help move ISIS terrorists through the desert and across the border between Santa Teresa and Sunland Park, New Mexico. To the east of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, cartel-backed “coyotes” are also smuggling ISIS terrorists through the porous border between Acala and Fort Hancock, Texas. These specific areas were targeted for exploitation by ISIS because of their understaffed municipal and county police forces, and the relative safe-havens the areas provide for the unchecked large-scale drug smuggling that was already ongoing.

Mexican intelligence sources report that ISIS intends to exploit the railways and airport facilities in the vicinity of Santa Teresa, NM (a US port-of-entry). The sources also say that ISIS has “spotters” located in the East Potrillo Mountains of New Mexico (largely managed by the Bureau of Land Management) to assist with terrorist border crossing operations. ISIS is conducting reconnaissance of regional universities; the White Sands Missile Range; government facilities in Alamogordo, NM; Ft. Bliss; and the electrical power facilities near Anapra and Chaparral, NM.

That was from 2015 and it is 100% prime grade bullshit.

.
 
Basket of delusionals

by digby













New PPP Poll:
Over the course of the campaign we found there was a cult like aspect to Trump's support, where any idea he put forth a substantial share of his supporters would go along with. We see that trend continuing post election. 60% of Trump voters think that Hillary Clinton received millions of illegal votes to only 18% who disagree with that concept and 22% who aren't sure either way.

A couple other findings related to the vote in this year's election:

-40% of Trump voters insist that he won the national popular vote to only 49% who grant that Clinton won it and 11% who aren't sure.

-Only 53% of Trump voters think that California's votes should be allowed to count in the national popular vote. 29% don't think they should be allowed to count, and another 18% are unsure.

There's been a lot of attention to the way fake news has spread and been believed especially by Trump supporters and that's borne out in our polling:

-73% of Trump voters think that George Soros is paying protesters against Trump to only 6% who think that's not true, and 21% who aren't sure one way or the other. (I personally had to explain to my Grandmother that this wasn't true a few weeks ag0 after someone sent her an e-mail about it.)

-14% of Trump supporters think Hillary Clinton is connected to a child sex ring run out of a Washington DC pizzeria. Another 32% aren't sure one way or another, much as the North Carolinian who went to Washington to check it out last weekend said was the case for him. Only 54% of Trump voters expressly say they don't think #Pizzagate is real.

There's also been a lot of discussion recently about how we might be in a post-fact world and we see some evidence of that coming through in our polling:

-67% of Trump voters say that unemployment increased during the Obama administration, to only 20% who say it decreased.

-Only 41% of Trump voters say that the stock market went up during the Obama administration. 39% say it went down, and another 19% say they're not sure.

And the Trump voters strong desire for more populist policies as opposed to Clinton's smug elitists is reflected here:

There's 76% support nationally for increasing the minimum wage to at least $10 an hour, including support from 95% of Clinton voters and 54% of Trump voters.

.
 

Donald in Wonderland

by Tom Sullivan

Curiouser and curiouser, said pretty much everybody. Donald J. Trump, president-elect of the United States of America, may not have time between lies for more than one intelligence briefing a week, but he has time for this:

The larger issue for MGM, NBC, and the White House is the payment that Trump will receive for the series. It’s unclear what his per-episode fee is, but it is likely to be in the low five-figures, at minimum. NBC has ordered eight episodes of “The New Celebrity Apprentice.” Trump’s fees will be paid through MGM, the production entity on the show, not NBC. MGM declined to comment on the financial terms of Trump’s deal. A spokeswoman for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment. NBC declined to comment.
The former reality-show star's presidency hasn't even premiered yet and it is officially a reality show. The cast includes a slew of colorful characters:

It's got a retired general bordering on "demented" as a National Security Advisor who tweets conspiracy theories. Has the general been mixing Infowars with his grain alcohol and branch water again?

It's got a professional wrestling promoter — a top donor to the Donald J. Trump Foundation — heading his Small Business Administration. There was another foundation Trump accused of being a corrupt pay-for-play scheme, but that was last season:

It's got Labor Secretary nominee, Andrew Puzder, who opposes a $15 minimum wage — brought to you by Carl's Jr., home of the Bacon 3-Way Burger (no, this isn't a still shot from Idiocracy):

It's got Trump's family, five children by three women, with Donald Jr. always ready with a colorful quip about women who can't take a little sexual harassment in the workplace:

“If you can’t handle some of the basic stuff that’s become a problem in the workforce today, then you don’t belong in the workforce,” Donald Trump’s son told The Opie and Anthony Show in a 2013 interview that BuzzFeed just unearthed.
Or about a mass shooting at movie theater:
Trump Jr. immediately interjected: “Overall, I give the movie two thumbs up.”

"60 Minutes" screenshot.

And Trump's America has got the kinds of "rustics" we're accustomed to from Duck Dynasty. A Texas Agriculture Commissioner, for example, who has shared fake stories about a terrorist training camp in Texas, and that Obama posed with a Che Guevara shirt while in Cuba:

"It's like Fox News. I report, you decide if it's true or not."

Last night, Rachel Maddow examined a PPP poll that reveals just how much of an alternate reality Trump voters live in, concluding, "In terms of what happens next in our country, it seems important to know this incoming president basically created this fantasy life for his supporters.”

Doing your own thing, believing your own way, students inviting professors to teach what they felt was true: these were ideas characters in Trump's America thought pinko and subversive back when bead-wearing, flower-power types rejected The Establishment. That's how far down the rabbit hole Trump's unreality show has already gone.

Have they stopped laughing at us yet, Mr. President-elect?


Thursday, December 08, 2016

 

Floating in a tin can: Godspeed, John Glenn 

By Dennis Hartley





Jesus…my blog is starting to read like an obituary column today.


Not that it is 100% shocking to hear that a 95 year-old astronaut has gone into his final trajectory…but this is John flippin’ Glenn, one of the true icons of America’s original NASA Mercury space program.


When Walter Cronkite died back in 2009, I wrote:


The passing of Walter Cronkite, just several days shy of this upcoming Monday’s 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, has added a bittersweet poignancy to the occasion that is hard for me to put into words. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that some of my earliest and fondest childhood memories of being plunked in front of the TV are of being transfixed by the reassuring visage of Uncle Walter, with the familiar backdrop of the Cape Canaveral launch pad behind him. Remember when the coverage of NASA spaceflights were an exciting, all-day news event, as opposed to a perfunctory sound bite sandwiched in between wall-to-wall minutiae about the latest celebrity death?


Good times.


Good times, indeed. Progressive times for science, and America. That’s what John Glenn and his cohorts will forever stand for.


---Dennis Hartley



 
Big Brass Picks

by digby




This is one good reason why you don't want career military brass in charge of domestic intelligence and police functions. Their experience often gives them a perspective that leads to a certain amount of confusion about domestic issues.

Greg Sargent at The Plumline has this about the proposed head of DHS:

Donald Trump has chosen retired Marine Gen. John F. Kelly to run the Department of Homeland Security, a post that will have great consequence in a Trump administration, given Trump’s vow of a much tougher approach to combating illegal immigration and internal terrorist threats, both areas that DHS oversees.

In that context, there is a quote that Kelly delivered in 2010 that libertarians and civil liberties experts see as troubling, and in need of further clarification. The Post account describes it this way:

Kelly learned firsthand the pain and loss suffered by many military families. His son, 2nd Lt. Robert M. Kelly, died in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban in 2010. Four days later, the general delivered a passionate and at times angry speech about the military’s sacrifices and its troops’ growing sense of isolation from society.

“Their struggle is your struggle,” he told a crowd of former Marines and business people in St. Louis. “If anyone thinks you can somehow thank them for their service, and not support the cause for which they fight — our country — these people are lying to themselves. … More important, they are slighting our warriors and mocking their commitment to this nation.”

That quote, which was about members of the military fighting against the terrorist enemy, seems to suggest that one cannot criticize a war without being seen as anti-troops. That said, it could also mean that one cannot criticize the broader act of defending this nation without being anti-troops.

A full transcript of the speech, which was linked to in a Post article in 2011, provides a slightly different rendition of the quote:
“I know it doesn’t apply to those of us here tonight but if anyone thinks you can somehow thank them for their service, and not support the cause for which they fight — America’s survival — then they are lying to themselves and rationalizing away something in their lives, but, more importantly, they are slighting our warriors and mocking their commitment to the nation.”

Civil liberties experts are calling for him to "clarify" what he meant by that in his confirmation hearing. And if he's smart he'll prepare something that papers over the remark. Maybe he was just emotional in the moment. But the fact is that his boss, the president-elect, is a full on enemy of civil liberties who has made it quite clear that he doesn't have a clue about the constitution and if, god forbid, we have a terrorist attack or some other kind of crisis, he will give the go-ahead for just about anything. The hope was that he would have people around him who would keep a cooler head. There's no indication that this is a guy who would do that.

.
 
Well that worked out

by digby




They tried.

I actually think it's a little unfair to criticize them for naming him Person of the Year. He clearly was, whether we like it or not. And if you read the profile, it's not flattering. And the picture isn't that great either. (As Colbert says, it looks like they sneaked up on him from behind and startled him.) It will be an important document for the historical record. If we survive him.

.




 
Trump's strongman comrade in arms

by digby














President-elect Donald Trump had a good day on Wednesday. After having been embarrassingly overlooked as Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 2015, which galled him to no end, he finally got the nod this year. Trump was thrilled. He even submitted himself to a rare (these days) interview in which he declared, “It’s a great honor, it means a lot, especially me growing up reading Time magazine.”

Evidently he failed to read the editor’s explanation or he would have noted that it wasn’t quite the honor he thought it was:
For reminding America that demagoguery feeds on despair and that truth is only as powerful as the trust in those who speak it, for empowering a hidden electorate by mainstreaming its furies and live-streaming its fears, and for framing tomorrow’s political culture by demolishing yesterday’s, Donald Trump is Time’s 2016 person of the year.
Time’s profile and interview made it quite clear what that editorial was talking about, even if the president-elect didn’t understand it. He made many fatuous statements along the lines of his “analysis” of world affairs, in which he explained that the European Union is “other people are being forced into countries and some people are unhappy about it” because “a lot of bad things are happening.” He also explained that working people don’t want to see their president carrying his own luggage and “that’s pretty much the way it is” and named New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick as an example of good leadership.

There was more in that vein, but what illustrated the editor’s note most vividly was his response to reporter Michael Scherer quoting President Obama urging his fellow citizens to rediscover the “better angels” of human nature. Trump abruptly interrupted him and excused himself for a moment to retrieve a copy of a tabloid newspaper with the front-page headline “’EXTREMELY VIOLENT’ GANG FACTION.” The article was about a surge in local crime in Long Island allegedly committed by immigrants. Trump says, “They come from Central America. They’re tougher than any people you’ve ever met. They’re killing and raping everybody out there. They’re illegal. And they are finished.”

When Scherer observed that this is the kind of rhetoric one hears from Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, a man responsible for the wanton killing of thousands of his own citizens, Trump replied, “Well, hey, look, this is bad stuff. They slice them up, they carve their initials in the girl’s forehead, OK. What are we supposed to do? Be nice about it?”

This should not be terribly surprising since he spent the last year and a half on the campaign trail bellowing about ISIS, saying he loves waterboarding and wants to do “more than that,” and even hinting at times that he would consider “chopping off heads.” Trump has said he believes that the families of terrorist suspects should be tortured or “taken out.” He has delighted in regaling his followers with lurid stories about war crimes, such as the apocryphal tale he loved to tell about Gen. Jack Pershing in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War:


They took 50 [Muslim insurgents], they lined them up. They took a pig and then took a second pig and they cut the pig open and they took the bullets from the rifles. And they dumped the bullets into the pigs and they swashed it around. Then they took the bullets and they shot 49 of the 50 people. The fiftieth person, they said, ‘Take this bullet and bring it back to all of the people causing the problem’ and tell ‘em what happened tonight. And for 42 years they didn’t have a problem with radical Islamic terrorism, folks, OK believe me.


These violent anecdotes are all in the context of war and terrorism, not that it makes them legal or acceptable. But his comments in TIME were about dealing with criminal matters, which makes it even more disturbing in light of the fact that Trump actually spoke with Duterte last week and invited him to the White House. According to the Philippine government he also endorsed Duterte’s extrajudicial campaign against alleged drug dealers and users, saying he’s doing it “the right way.”

We know Trump follows the New York Times since he complains so much about it. One hopes that he saw yesterday’s grisly array of photographs by Daniel Berehulak showing assassinations at the hands of Philippine police and vigilantes, making clear the horror that Duterte has brought to his country. The idea that the American president-elect would find Duterte’s methods anything but morally outrageous is disturbing indeed.

An article by Adrian Chen in the New Yorker about Duterte’s short tenure, called “When A Populist Demagogue Takes Power” will send chills down your spine. The Philippine leader is crude, impulsive, blasphemous and violent, explaining his propensity to offend by saying, “I am testing the élite in this country” (which is funny because he comes from a very prominent political family.) Aside from his domestic crackdown on drug users and drug sellers, Duterte is blowing up relationships with other nations on what seems to be an ad hoc basis. He famously referred to President Obama as “son of whore,” and has made moves to extricate his nation from its long and close relationship with the U.S.

According to people who know him, Duterte is hypersensitive to criticism and will “snap” if he feels someone is talking down to him. Chen describes him as a person who “thinks out loud, in long, rambling monologues, laced with inscrutable jokes and wild exaggeration” and points out that while his manner is part of his populist image, it inevitably leads to misunderstandings. Duterte is also a conspiracy theorist who has always been fascinated by police and military men. He even shot a classmate in the leg when he was in college. Luckily it was only a flesh wound.

Any normal person who knew anything about the world would be repulsed at being compared to such a man, much less compliment him on his “get tough” policy. But this is Donald Trump we’re talking about. No, he isn’t quite Rodrigo Duterte but let’s just say they share certain traits. Remember that nearly 30 years ago Trump is the man who took out a full-page ad entitled “Bring Back the Death Penalty” which said, “CIVIL LIBERTIES END WHEN AN ATTACK ON OUR SAFETY BEGINS!” Clearly, his beliefs haven’t evolved much.

In case you were wondering, Duterte has an 86 percent approval rating. Right now, Trump’s is at 50 percent and rising.


Update: Check out Duterte's Trump impression:



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We're back to the culture war already?

by digby













You knew this would happen didn't you? Did you think the Republicans would win an election without the Religious Right claiming that it's their victory? Of course you didn't.

The presidential election was so close that many factors were “but-for” causes of Donald Trump’s victory. One that’s been mostly overlooked is Trump’s surprising success with religious voters. According to exit polls, Trump received 81 percent of the white evangelical Christian vote, and Hillary Clinton only 16 percent. Trump did significantly better than the overtly religious Mitt Romney and the overtly evangelical George W. Bush. He likely over-performed among other theologically conservative voters, such as traditionalist Catholics, as well. Not bad for a thrice-married adulterer of no discernible faith.

To what can we attribute Trump’s success? The most logical answer is that religious traditionalists felt that their religious liberty was under assault from liberals, and they therefore had to hold their noses and vote for Trump. AsSean Trende of RealClear Politics noted, since 2012:
Democrats and liberals have: booed the inclusion of God in their platform at the 2012 convention (this is disputed, but it is the perception); endorsed a regulation that would allow transgendered students to use the bathroom and locker room corresponding to their identity; attempted to force small businesses to cover drugs they believe induce abortions; attempted to force nuns to provide contraceptive coverage; forced Brendan Eich to step down as chief executive officer of Mozilla due to his opposition to marriage equality; fined a small Christian bakery over $140,000 for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding; vigorously opposed a law in Indiana that would provide protections against similar regulations – despite having overwhelmingly supported similar laws when they protected Native American religious rights – and then scoured the Indiana countryside trying to find a business that would be affected by the law before settling upon a small pizza place in the middle of nowhere and harassing the owners. In 2015, the United States solicitor general suggested that churches might lose their tax exempt status if they refused to perform same-sex marriages. In 2016, the Democratic nominee endorsed repealing the Hyde Amendment, thereby endorsing federal funding for elective abortions.

Megan McArdle of Bloomberg similarly pointed out, “Over the last few years, as controversies have erupted over the rights of cake bakers and pizza places to refuse to cater gay weddings, the rights of nuns to refuse to provide insurance that covers birth control, the rights of Catholic hospitals to refuse to perform abortions, and the rights of Christian schools to teach (and require students and teachers to practice) traditional Christian morality, some Christians have begun to feel that their communities are under existential threat.”

These guys are taking a victory lap too.

And you just wait and see. The Democrats will soon decide they need to "soften" their stances on the culture war issues so they can win with Real Americans. Sure, it's about the economy, but solidarity on that front is very hard to convey. This culture war issues are much more accessible signifiers.

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PC goes both ways

by digby




















This is a good piece in today's Washington Post pointing out that the right has political correctness too. In fact, they are far more rigid than the left:

Blaming the liberal or mainstream media and “media bias” is the patriotically correct version of blaming the corporations or capitalism. The patriotically correct notion that they “would rather be governed by the first 2,000 people in the Boston telephone directory than by the 2,000 people on the faculty of Harvard University” because the former have “common sense” and the “intellectual elites” don’t know anything, despite all the evidence to the contrary, can be sustained only in a total bubble. Poor white Americans are the victims of economic dislocation and globalization beyond their control, while poor blacks and Hispanics are poor because of their failed cultures. The patriotically correct are triggered when they hear strangers speaking in a language other than English. Does that remind you of the PC duty to publicly shame those who use unacceptable language to describe race, gender or whatever other identity is the victim du jour? 
The patriotically correct rightly ridicule PC “safe spaces” but promptly retreat to Breitbart or talk radio, where they can have mutually reinforcing homogeneous temper tantrums while complaining about the lack of intellectual diversity on the left. There is no such thing as too much national security, but it’s liberals who want to coddle Americans with a “nanny state.” Those who disagree with the patriotically correct are animated by anti-Americanism, are post-American, or deserve any other of a long list of clunky and vague labels that signal virtue to other members of the patriotic in-group. 
Every group has implicit rules against certain opinions, actions and language as well as enforcement mechanisms — and the patriotically correct are no exception. But they are different because they are near-uniformly unaware of how they are hewing to a code of speech and conduct similar to the PC lefties they claim to oppose. The modern form of political correctness on college campuses and the media is social tyranny with manners, while patriotic correctness is tyranny without the manners, and its adherents do not hesitate to use the law to advance their goals. If we have a term to describe this new phenomenon — I nominate patriotic correctness.

I've actually been using that term since at least 2005, but whatever. I would also add "religious correctness" too. Lots of stuff you aren't allowed to say on that one.

But the larger point he makes is correct. Everyone has certain ideas about what is and isn't acceptable and it's a constantly evolving set of rules. The right, however, believes they are alone in being taken to task for saying certain things.  Ask Colin Kaepernick about this. He probably has some ideas.

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If you don't show up to play, you forfeit

by Tom Sullivan

Progressive politics is not a zero-sum game where if your issue gets attention, mine gets kicked to the curb. In the face of an extremist state legislature, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP, built the Forward Together movement on inclusion and cooperation that got progressive groups out of their silos to work together. Against efforts to divide them, that model held together a diverse coalition of activists that succeeded in turning out Gov. Pat McCrory in a sweep year for Republicans. Yesterday at The Nation Barber proposed that this tested model could work under a Trump administration:

In the spring of 2013, when the voter-suppression bill was still making its way through the legislature, Moral Mondays emerged as the direct action of concerned citizens against the unconstitutional takeover of our state. Over a thousand North Carolinians were arrested in the largest state government–focused civil-disobedience campaign in US history (arrests that would later be thrown out by a state superior court judge). We took our stand in public, and we exposed the vulnerability of divide-and-conquer tactics to cross-racial, cross-class fusion coalition building.

We fought back hard, organized all over the state, hosted more than 200 Moral Monday events, went to court to prove race-based voter suppression, and defeated one of the worst voter-suppression bills in the country since Jim Crow. We proved that we do not have to concede the battle in the South.
And so "workers stood with preachers and LGBTQ activists stood with the business community" in opposing McCrory, the legislature, and HB2. Barber concludes, "This moral, fusion organizing convinced a majority of North Carolinians to make McCrory the first governor in our state’s history to lose a reelection bid." Perhaps what's in order for progressives now is a little less focus on what went wrong in 2016 and more on the bright spots (Dan Heath) where things went right.

Barber's model has applicability to more than just the South. And we need it to. Because to borrow from Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign, it's not the economy, it's the math. As I argued earlier:
... if Democrats expect to be a national party, they are going to need to make inroads again in the red states, whatever urbanites feel about fellow citizens in the vast stretches of red on the map that supported Trump. Those states cannot be wished away or written off. This is not sympathy for the devil, real or imagined. It's math.
To be sure, a lot of friends on the left are still processing November's painful losses. But in a lot of places we are more comfortable ignoring there are congressional seats and state House and Senate seats, and they matter. Martin Longman writes at Political Animal, the problem going forward is not that Democrats don't have widespread support, it's how that support is spread:
The challenge is not just to sustain and hopefully grow their plurality base of voters, but to change the demographic nature of their supporters. This is why you’ll hear people like me say that the Democrats absolutely cannot ignore that they lost 75%-80% of the white vote in county after county in Pennsylvania and the Upper Midwest. This is the kind of racial voting we’ve seen in the South for years, and if it becomes the norm in the North it will make it impossible for the Democrats to win control of state legislatures in that region, make it nearly impossible to win back the U.S. House of Representatives, and give the Republicans a narrow opening to win the Electoral College with a minority of the popular vote, again.

A lot of people do not like the sound of that. But I don’t care how it sounds. It isn’t a value statement or an assessment of worth. It’s just a diagnosis of a problem. How you solve it, if it can be solved, is what ought to be controversial. The fact that it needs to be solved should not.
Longman argues, as I do, that building progressive strength in heartland states is "not about selling anyone out." (Rev. Barber's Forward Together model does not.) There are a lot of people in red states who do not share progressive values, but abandoning wholesale those who do is not the way to win back the House, the Senate, and state legislatures.* As DNC chair, Howard Dean got that. When Obama and the national Democratic leadership abandoned the 50-state plan, they abandoned their own voters with it. And here we are.

Some years back, I worked a winning congressional race in one of our majority-Democrat districts that consistently votes Republican in federal races. (Yes, lots of conservadems.) We won, in part, by shaving the margins in Republican strongholds. Years later, I am still high-fiving our organizer in the most Republican large county in the district. She lost there, but by only 3,000 votes. That. Was. Huge. And not in a Donald Trump way.

We've got to do that again, and in many more places. Because if we don't show up to play, we forfeit.

* In North Carolina, for example, 2,128,255 people (45%) voted for former ACLU attorney, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Deborah Ross who was supported by Democracy for America and EMILY's List.


Wednesday, December 07, 2016

 
QOTD: Nancy Gibbs

by digby

Look at that hair ...





























... the editor of TIME Magazine in her note about why they picked Donald Trump for "Person of the Year:"
“For reminding America that demagoguery feeds on despair and that truth is only as powerful as the trust in those who speak it, for empowering a hidden electorate by mainstreaming its furies and live-streaming its fears, and for framing tomorrow’s political culture by demolishing yesterday’s, Donald Trump is Time’s 2016 person of the year.”
I think Trump may have only looked at the pictures because he said this this morning:
“It’s a great honor, it means a lot, especially me growing up reading Time magazine.” 

I really wish they;'d have picked "The Trump Voter" because it would have made him soooo mad but he couldn't have said anything about it like he did last year:

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Ratings gold

by digby




Yes, he's probably going to do something like this and yes, it will be a huge ratings grabber:
At a breakfast fund-raiser at Manhattan’s Cipriani 42nd Street, Mr. Trump on Wednesday gave a tantalizing hint at the inaugural festivities to come for a reality TV star-turned-president: The helicopter grand entrance. 
The president-elect said he was paid a visit a day earlier by Mark Burnett, the executive producer of “The Apprentice,” the reality show that helped make the president-elect a household name. Mr. Trump told the crowd that Mr. Burnett proposed reinventing the inauguration with a helicopter taking off from New York City, according to an attendee. 
Mr. Burnett, who is known for producing shows like “Survivor,” “The Voice” and “Shark Tank” as well, also told Mr. Trump that he should consider a parade up Fifth Avenue.
If it's as flat as his RNC pageant, I'm not sure it's worth the 65 millions they plan to spend on the silly thing but that's chump change for the billionaires who are funding it so they probably think it's worth it to curry favor with Dear Leader.

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Just another day in Crazyland

by digby















Honestly, I cannot think of anything more cruel than pushing this despicable conspiracy theory that the Sandyhook parents who lost tiny 6 year old children in that massacre are part of a hoax perpetrated to confiscate guns. It's just plain evil.

And look where it's led:
A Florida woman who believes the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting is a hoax was arrested Monday on charges she threatened the parent of a child killed in the 2012 school shooting.

Lucy Richards, 57, of Tampa, Fla., was indicted on four counts of transmitting threats, according to a statement from the United States Attorney Southern District of Florida.

The Sandy Hook shooting is approaching its fourth anniversary. On Dec. 14, 2012, 20 children and six school staffers were fatally shot at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. By Adam Lanza, 20. Lanza later fatally shot himself.

According to authorities, Richards made a series of death threats against the parent of a child who was killed in the shooting. The parent now lives in South Florida was identified in a statement as Len Pozner.


Richards is accused of telling the parent “you gonna die, death is coming to you real soon," according to federal court documents. The statements were made in January. She also wrote, "Look behind you it's death," according to the documents.

While it may seem unfathomable to some that Richards believed the shooting was a hoax, she is far from alone. A small movement of “Sandy Hook Truthers” promote conspiracy theories that allege the shooting was staged.

Pozner addressed Richards' arrest in a statement.

"We are comforted to know that the system is working to protect the victims of violent crime from re-victimization by potentially violent Hoaxers," Pozner said.

If convicted of all four counts, Richards could face up to 20 years in prison. She is scheduled to appear in a Fort Lauderdale court on Dec. 19.

This is a result of our twisted, pathological gun culture. And it's only going to get worse now.


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Infamy Redux

by digby














For some reason this anniversary of Peal Harbor feels just a little bit more relevant than usual this year. I can't imagine why.

This piece by the Columbia Journalism Review talks about the press and its performance after the attack:

NOBODY KNEW ANYTHING at first. The attack happened far out in the Pacific, on a small remote island. And the long shadow of time has erased much collective memory about the first few hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, 75 years ago today on December 7, 1941.

For the American media, that’s a good thing.

With very limited access to verifiable information, newspaper and radio reporters acted irresponsibly.  Wild speculation flooded the public sphere when radio transmissions from Hawaii were severely constricted and Washington authorities deemed the full scope and extent of the attack a state secret. The opportunity for accurate, verified and responsible journalism evaporated.

A look back at the reporting on Pearl Harbor shows how little has changed in the way media covers—or doesn’t cover—major events, from a tendency for errors in the early days of a crisis to its use of analysts and outside experts to fill the void created by the lack of actual reporting. This void of information catalyzes speculation and conjecture, and it’s here that journalism starts to crumble. Close examination of any epochal breaking news story - Pearl Harbor, the Kennedy assassination, 9/11 - reveals the same pattern.

But American broadcasting was just two decades old when the Pearl Harbor attack happened, making it the first instance of a shocking national news report to be transmitted directly, in real time, to a mass audience. America’s radio networks faced an anxious public dialing in throughout that Sunday. With little news to report as the hours passed, they turned to pundits, who largely did a terrible job.

Across CBS, NBC, and Mutual, the “experts” offered odd theories for how, and why, the attack happened.  Perhaps the nuttiest was the assertion—by several commentators—that the Japanese were incapable of such a ferocious assault. Numerous radio newscasters asserted that only one nation on earth could have pulled off such a brilliant blitzkrieg: Nazi Germany.

“It is possible, my friends, that this is a coup engineered by German influence and with the aid of German vessels in the Pacific,” said NBC News commentator Upton Close—a specialist on the Far East—just 10 minutes after the last wave of bombing ended on Oahu. “And again it is possible that this is a coup engineered by a small portion of the Japanese navy that has gone fanatic,” he continued. A third idea he proffered was that the attack was staged by the anti-war faction in the Japanese government to discredit the pro-war faction by presumably provoking the United States into destroying the Japanese military. “All these things are possible,” he concluded. But none of them, of course, were true.

A few hours later, CBS aired the commentary of Major George Fielding Elliot, a syndicated columnist and military expert, who assured listeners that the Pearl Harbor attack spelled doom for the Japanese Empire.  “Japan is cornered, surrounded by forces which she cannot hope to overcome and to which in the end she must succumb,” he informed the listening public.

As the day wore on, real reporting receded, giving way to more speculation. Right-wing commentator Fulton Lewis Jr. told an audience five hours after the attack that he shared the doubts of many American authorities that the Japanese were truly responsible. He “reported” that US military officials weren’t convinced Japanese pilots had the skills to carry out such an impressive raid. The War Department, he said, is “concerned to find out who the pilots of these planes are—whether they are Japanese pilots. There is some doubt as to that, some skepticism whether they may be pilots of some other nationality, perhaps Germans, perhaps Italians,” he explained. The rumor that Germans bombed Pearl Harbor lingered on the airwaves, with NBC reporting, on December 8, that eyewitnesses claimed to have seen Nazi swastikas painted on some of the bombers.

Twenty years later, scholar Ernest D. Rose carefully evaluated the first radio reports about Pearl Harbor. His assessment was brutal. “One can not escape the conclusion that in the overall pattern of radio news communication that day something was drastically wrong,” he concluded. “The bulk of radio news time was consumed by commentators and analysts trying to explain the meaning of situations without access to reliable first-hand information,” he explained.  All the inaccurate speculation failed to reassure or properly inform the public during a time of national distress. The commentary, Rose said, seemed more intended to prop up the credibility of the pundits than offer reliable information or helpful context.

The inaccurate news analysis would have a lasting impact. The rumor that the Germans collaborated on—or even masterminded—the attack on Pearl Harbor carried into early 1942. It was bolstered by conspiratorial talk in the aftermath of Hitler’s unprovoked declaration of war on the United States on December 11, 1941. The following year, best-selling books by reporters who knew Nazi Germany well (such as Harry Flannery’s Assignment to Berlin, and Pierre Huss’s The Foe We Face) emphasized the complicity of Fritz Wiedemann, Hitler’s friend and the German Consul General in San Francisco, until his expulsion in 1941, in the attack. Wiedemann, a shadowy figure, had been Corporal Hitler’s superior in World War I, and they remained lifelong trusted confidants. When he left San Francisco, Wiedemann traveled to Japan and then China in the weeks before Pearl Harbor, stoking suspicion. Even after the war ended, when the Joint Congressional Committee investigating the attack on Pearl Harbor held its hearings, suspicion about Wiedemann’s role reemerged.

The American media did not distinguish itself in the immediate aftermath of December 7, 1941. But time has let it off the hook. All the commentators mentioned above went on to increased visibility and impressive careers during the war. Americans then—and now—tend to be very forgiving of terrible punditry, inaccurate reporting, and ridiculous commentary.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be.


Yes, perhaps we shouldn't be.

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False equivalency FTW

by digby


They call this "fair and balanced" but it's actually a lie




Eric Wemple at the Washington Post takes a look at the subject of "false equivalency" in the press coverage of the presidential race. It's worth looking at:
U.S. media organizations are locked into such a negative mind-set that they portrayed Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as equally pernicious and scurrilous pretenders to the presidency. That, at least, is the conclusion of a study by Thomas E. Patterson in the fourth of his series of studies on media coverage of the presidential campaign for the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy. 
“False equivalencies abound in today’s reporting,” writes Patterson. “When journalists can’t, or won’t, distinguish between allegations directed at the Trump Foundation and those directed at the Clinton Foundation, there’s something seriously amiss. And false equivalencies are developing on a grand scale as a result of relentlessly negative news. If everything and everyone is portrayed negatively, there’s a leveling effect that opens the door to charlatans.”

The whole thing is fascinating because we watched this unfold in real time, as did the press, but there was nothing we could do about it. I recall writing about the findings of the earlier Shorenstein study's papers on the campaign and I was scolded like a child by journalists who said it was ridiculous data that should be tossed immediately into the dust bin. They did not want to hear it.

I do think this has something to do with a herd mentality in the press when they decide they don't "like" someone. The obvious precedent for this campaign is the most recent one in which an unprepared Republican fool became president largely because the press decided that Al Gore was icky. The same thing happened this time. They went after Clinton with a vengeance, portraying her basically as a sick, corrupt old crone and played into the hands of Mr Entertainment, the class clown who nobody took seriously until it was too late. This was their choice.

In other words, the media picks your president, America. This time they picked Trump, the man who treated them like dogs throughout the campaign. But hey they bagged their white whale finally so it's all good. Hillary Clinton paid for the fact that her husband survived so they can finally put that to rest. It sure was worth it.

This article by Jonathan Allen was very important and very true:
The reporter's job is to "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable" — a credo that, humorously, was originally written as a smear of the self-righteous nature of journalists. And so the justification for going after a public figure increases in proportion to his or her stature. The bigger the figure, the looser the restraints.

After a quarter of a century on the national stage, there's no more comfortable political figure to afflict than Hillary Clinton. And she's in for a lot of affliction over the next year and half.

That's generally a good way for reporters to go about their business. After all, the more power a person wants in our republic, the more voters should know about her or him. But it's also an essential frame for thinking about the long-toxic relationship between the Clintons and the media, why the coverage of Hillary Clinton differs from coverage of other candidates for the presidency, and whether that difference encourages distortions that will ultimately affect the presidential race.

The Clinton rules are driven by reporters' and editors' desire to score the ultimate prize in contemporary journalism: the scoop that brings down Hillary Clinton and her family's political empire. At least in that way, Republicans and the media have a common interest.

I understand these dynamics well, having co-written a book that demonstrated how Bill and Hillary Clinton used Hillary's time at State to build the family political operation and set up for their fourth presidential campaign. That is to say, I've done a lot of research about the Clintons' relationship with the media, and experienced it firsthand. As an author, I felt that I owed it to myself and the reader to report, investigate, and write with the same mix of curiosity, skepticism, rigor, and compassion that I would use with any other subject. I wanted to sell books, of course. But the easier way to do that — proven over time — is to write as though the Clintons are the purest form of evil. The same holds for daily reporting. Want to drive traffic to a website? Write something nasty about a Clinton, particularly Hillary.

As a reporter, I get sucked into playing by the Clinton rules. This is what I've seen in my colleagues, and in myself.

Read on for how it worked. You will certainly recognize the phenomenon in our recent atrocity of an election.

Way too many people who should know better ignored this obvious truth in 2016. They will never admit it, of course. But they know who they are.

So I just want to extend my thanks to the media for giving us Donald Trump. Good work. You finally bagged Moby Dick. I hope it was worth it.


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Will the Freedom Caucus learn to take yes for an answer?

by digby












I wrote about the coming fight over Obamacare for Salon this morning:

What a difference eight years makes. At this point back in 2008, President-elect Barack Obama was systematically putting together his Cabinet, studying policy briefs and pretty much keeping a low profile as he and his team prepared to take over the most important job in the world. Obama did some interviews and made himself otherwise available to the press from time to time, but there were no victory rallies or abrupt reversals of decades of diplomatic protocols.

As the inauguration grew closer, Obama gathered bipartisan luminaries from both parties to break bread with him, get to know him a little bit and understand his overall strategy. He spent an evening laying out what he called a “grand bargain,” which was described by one attendee, The Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne:
The “grand bargain” they are talking about is a mix and match of boldness and prudence. It involves expansive government where necessary, balanced by tough management, unpopular cuts — and, yes, eventually some tax increases. Everyone, they say, will have to give up something. Only such a balance, they argue, will win broad support for what Obama wants to do, and thus make his reforms “sustainable,” the other magic word — meaning that even Republicans, when they eventually get back to power, will choose not to reverse them.
The pillars of the grand bargain were health care reform, “entitlement reform,” tax reform and limits on carbon emissions.

The White House immediately set up a fiscal responsibility summit and the president told his staff that he expected the “difficult choices” that had to be made about Social Security and Medicare to be made on his watch. He reportedly said, “We’ve kicked this can down the road and now we are at the end of the road.”

As we know, president George W. Bush’s financial crisis had the world economy in a tailspin, so Job No. 1 was to try to keep it from crashing and burning. The first order of business was an economic rescue package and it was an unexpectedly heavy lift and gained only a handful of Republican votes for a much smaller stimulus than was necessary. Nonetheless, it did pass and managed to provide some breathing room.

The White House and the Democrats spent the next year trying to pass health care reform and managed to do it only with party-line votes and parliamentary maneuvering. The Republicans were not going to help and therefore had no stake in making the program sustainable. Nonetheless, the president persisted in this idea that if Democrats could achieve “balance” by giving the Republicans some of what they wanted, such as cutting “entitlement” programs in exchange for letting the Bush tax cuts expire on schedule, he could get a buy in for his grand bargain.

The passage of the Affordable Care Act angered the Republicans so much that it created the grassroots uprising known as the Tea Party, which propelled the GOP into capturing a majority in the House in the 2010 midterm election. Nonetheless, the president did everything he could to make good on his offer, creating bipartisan commissions to create consensus and repeatedly putting Social Security cuts on the menu in budget negotiations.

The Republican leadership under then House speaker John Boehner knew it was the chance of a lifetime to have Democrats do their dirty work for them — cutting Social Security was the GOP establishment’s dream although their constituents’ nightmare — but they could never get the hard-core Tea Partyers to sign on. They simply refused to accept anything apart from total capitulation, which required that the president agree to all their terms, including the repeal of Obamacare, his signature program. So the president wised up and the proposed Social Security cuts were finally abandoned, much to the relief of most Democrats.

But this fight fueled the Tea Party types with growing hostility against their own party and its political leadership. They did not trust Republican leaders in the House and Senate and refused to believe that more obstructionist tactics wouldn’t force the president and a Democratic Senate to do their bidding. That mistrust flowed into the strong anti-Establishment atmosphere that gave us candidate Donald Trump in 2016.

The logic of President Obama’s grand bargain always seemed dubious. Republicans would never feel any commitment to health care reform just because they got something else they wanted. They don’t think that way. In any case, Obama never got his grand bargain and now the Republicans are strutting about declaring that they will finally fulfill their No. 1 desire immediately after Trump takes taking office in January: repeal of the hated Obamacare.

But it appears that the more things change the more they stay the same. According to Salon’s Sophia Tesfaye, the usual infighting among Republicans is heating up already. Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell’s plan to “repeal and delay” Obamacare on a slow timetable, until they can put together a replacement down the road, isn’t going over very well with the Tea Party’s Freedom Caucus. It seems those members want a repeal accomplished immediately and as usual they refuse to compromise.

Ryan and McConnell are trying to delay for purely cynical political reasons. They want to leverage the possibility that people will lose their health care to force Democrats to the table to sign on to whatever flimsy piece of garbage they come up with to replace the current law. If they can delay the worst elements of this change until after the 2018 midterm elections, and force Democrats to run on their replacement plan, they can get this done without too much political damage. They can read the polls showing that the hostility to Obamacare is dissipating now that they have a Republican president. It turns out that most of their voters really just hated Obama, not his health care law.

Nonetheless, the true believers of the Freedom Caucus and some conservative movement groups like the Koch brothers’ FreedomWorks have lurched into gear demanding that the repeal of Obamacare take place immediately — and thereby setting up another showdown that could end up stopping the repeal altogether. 

It would be an amazing twist of fate if, just as they inadvertently saved Social Security, the Tea Party loyalists ended up thwarting Donald Trump and saving Obamacare because they simply cannot take yes for an answer.

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Climate change in the Age of Trump: A "humanitarian crisis of epic proportions"

by Gaius Publius

Sometimes I really think people don't know what we're in for...


Notice the massive river deltas (blue dots) and other large low-lying areas (purple), including the North China Plain, the Chinese "breadbasket" (source; click to open at full size in a new tab).


We're about to witness a kind of "perfect storm," perhaps in our lifetime — the confluence of soon-to-be out-of-control climate degradation with the perfect person in the perfect place to make that degradation worse, President Donald Trump.

First, on the effect of Trump on military climate policy, from Scientific American (emphasis mine):
The military and intelligence communities may soon turn a blinder eye toward some climate change-related threats, indicated by President-Elect Donald Trump’s recent choices of climate-change skeptics for  national security jobs, along with his own dismissive comments. But though experts say Trump and his team could roll back some recent initiatives, the momentum of bureaucracy, along with a military need to take the long view, mean climate-related plans are unlikely to be abandoned entirely.

The Department of Defense and the intelligence community have long considered climate change a crucial input into national security planning and policy. Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said climate “can significantly add to the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict.” The Pentagon calls this a “threat multiplier.”

Yet Trump has tapped retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn to be his national security advisor, and Flynn has ridiculed the idea that climate change poses any particular threat to the country. Congressman Mike Pompeo (R–KS) has been named to head the CIA, and he has questioned the scientific consensus on climate change and has voted for more oil drilling and against any regulation of carbon emissions. Joshua Busby, an associate professor of public affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, who has studied the intersection of climate change and national security, says the appointments mean “some of the gains made by the Pentagon and other executive agencies to prepare for the security consequences of climate change could be undone.”
Anti-climate policy changes at the Pentagon will almost certainly be replicated in NASA via the defunding of its climate science research:
Donald Trump is poised to eliminate all climate change research conducted by Nasa as part of a crackdown on “politicized science”, his senior adviser on issues relating to the space agency has said.

Nasa’s Earth science division is set to be stripped of funding in favor of exploration of deep space, with the president-elect having set a goal during the campaign to explore the entire solar system by the end of the century.

This would mean the elimination of Nasa’s world-renowned research into temperature, ice, clouds and other climate phenomena. Nasa’s network of satellites provide a wealth of information on climate change, with the Earth science division’s budget set to grow to $2bn next year. By comparison, space exploration has been scaled back somewhat, with a proposed budget of $2.8bn in 2017.

Bob Walker, a senior Trump campaign adviser, said there was no need for Nasa to do what he has previously described as “politically correct environmental monitoring”.
Let's set aside the fact that this and similar moves will make the U.S. a pariah among nations. Set aside the consequences of moving, but not quickly enough, to mitigate (lessen) the climate disaster — a likely outcome under Clinton. Consider instead the consequences of moving as aggressively as possible to increase the problem and magnify the disaster.

That's climate change in the Age of Trump — accelerating over the cliff.

The Coming Climate Refugee Crisis — 200 Million and Counting

It's estimated that in the world today there are more than 36 million refugees from climate and other natural disasters, more than for any other cause, including war. Under any president that number would increase, but certainly under Trump it's set to increase to disastrous proportions. Let's start with what the National Geographic thinks would happen anyway: 
The International Red Cross estimates that there are more environmental refugees than political refugees fleeing from wars and other conflicts. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says 36 million people were displaced by natural disasters in 2009, the last year such a report was taken. Scientists predict this number will rise to at least 50 million by 2050. Some say it could be as high as 200 million.
Two hundred million refugees isn't just a humanitarian crisis; it's a military one as well. This is what Europe looked like when an unchecked mass migration took place in Roman times.




Every border in Europe was politically and ethnically redrawn. 

What you see above took place in roughly 400 years. Imagine a migration of this scale taking place in one tenth the time — in just 30 years, roughly the time between now and the article's mentioned date of 2050.

What If the Estimates Are Too Conservative?

Now consider that no recent reputable climate estimate has been wrong in a conservative direction — wrong because things are moving more slowly than anticipated. Almost nothing in the climate world is moving more slowly than expected. In fact, a great many climate estimates are very wrong in the other direction — because things are moving a whole lot faster than anyone thought they would.

Then consider the Trump Effect, that what would have happened anyway will certainly be made worse by Trump, both by his acceleration of the cause (CO2 and methane emissions) and by his armed and deadly reaction to its results.

With that in mind, let's look again at that perfect refugee storm we've been talking about.

First, consider the population-size estimate. The National Geographic article mentions up to 200 million refugees. The nation of Bangladesh alone holds 158 million people. Most of its land will be quickly under water or be threatened by water under any significant sea level rise (see map above). Where will they go? India is already planning to keep them out. And that's just one small region. The entire world holds a human population of 7.5 billion and many similar low-lying regions and large deltas.

So, what if the estimates above are too conservative? An world environmental refugee population of 200 million in 35 years seems like a lot, but it's really only 2.5% of world population. Climate threatens far more people than that. If 150 million in just Bangladesh are panicked and trying to escape, they alone would account for most of that total.

What if not just 2.5% of world population, but 10% or 20% of world population fell into environmental refugee status? We're now looking at 700 million to 1.5 billion people, not just fleeing, but starving, fighting and dying as well. In other words, utter world chaos of every type imaginable. It would in fact be far worse than the migrations through Europe pictured above, and not just because of the time compression. People didn't mass-migrate into Europe from the east during Roman times because they were dying at home and bringing epidemia with them. The mass migration pictured above involved people who were, in the main, healthy.

Next, consider the time estimate. Nothing says this crisis has to be linear, with a relatively slow and steady ramp-up to the (totally arbitrarily chosen) year of 2050. Donald Trump will be president (one presumes) through 2020. Collapses often happen very quickly. What if the bottom falls out between now and, say, 2024, perhaps while he's still in office, then picks up speed? A world refugee crisis that blows up in the next 10 years compresses the time scale to an impossible-to-deal-with degree, yet anyone still alive in the next ten years or so might watch it. The Trump Effect.

As I said above, climate change in the Age of Trump could be a perfect storm, a disaster in which no way to make it worse goes unexplored.

The One Road Out

Interestingly, from that horrific possibility comes the route away, the one road home. Imagine what would happen, in this pre-revolutionary country, if Trump doubles down on this, in North Dakota?
'People Are Going to Die': Father of Wounded DAPL Activist Sophia Wilansky Speaks Out

Is devastating policy brutality against water protectors in North Dakota a harbinger of what's to come when Donald Trump takes office?

Sunday's brutal police assault against peaceful Dakota Access Pipeline activists left one water protector, Sophia Wilansky, at risk of losing an arm, and her distraught father spoke out Tuesday and Wednesday against the shocking show of force and demanded government action.

Wayne Wilansky, a 61-year-old lawyer and yoga teacher from New York City, spoke to a reporter in a Facebook live feed about his daughter's devastating injury, allegedly caused by a concussion grenade.

"This is the wound of someone who's a warrior, who was sent to fight in a war," Wayne said. "It's not supposed to be a war. She's peacefully trying to get people to not destroy the water supply. And they're trying to kill her."

Most of the muscle tissue between Sophia's left elbow and wrist as well as two major arteries were completely destroyed, Wayne said, and doctors pulled shrapnel out of the wound.

The Morton County Sheriff's Department has denied using concussion grenades or any equipment that could cause an injury like Sophia's, despite witness accounts and the shrapnel recovered by surgeons from Sophia's arm. [Note: There's video of recovered cannisters.]

The police in Morton County, North Dakota are acting with such brutality, Wayne warned, that eventually "people are going to die."
"Eventually, people are going to die." And then what? The murder of more non-violent protesters as people gather in response? Before the 2008 economic crisis, this would not have occurred. But after that crisis, with nearly everyone in the country in revolt (remember, they elected Trump and nearly elected Sanders), I don't see either side standing down.

This is the rolling civil war I talked about, something the nation's leaders seem determined to push people into. It would be a terrible way to settle the nation's economic disputes, but when it comes to racial murder or climate justice for all succeeding generations, I'm not sure I see the alternative, sad as it is to say that.

Stay tuned.

(A version of this piece appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.)

GP