Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Informant Marcy Wheeler: 'Mueller sitting on a lot'

Marcy Wheeler’s story about her agonizing decision to unmask a source and talk to the FBI has been told both here at Daily Kos and at mainstream media outlets such as The Washington Post.

In a nutshell, Wheeler, a journalist and staunch privacy advocate who writes a national security blog called emptywheel, revealed a source to the FBI after her conscience compelled her to do so.

Wheeler says she received a text shortly after Donald Trump was elected that piqued her interest, and then some. 

Wrote WaPo:

Her blog post centers on a text message she says she got from the source on Nov. 9, 2016 — about 14 hours after the polls closed — predicting that Michael Flynn, who would be Trump’s appointee for national security adviser, would be meeting with “Team Al-Assad” within 48 hours. Russia has been perhaps the Assad regime’s staunchest ally.
As she noted: “The substance of the text — that the Trump team started focusing on Syria right after the election — has been corroborated and tied to their discussions with Russia at least twice since then.”
Wheeler won’t say when she went to the FBI other than that it was in 2017. In December 2017, Flynn flipped, pleading guilty to one count of lying to the FBI about his contact with the Russian government during the presidential transition; Trump had fired him in February.
In addition to the knowledge of her source’s inside information, Wheeler said, she had reason to believe that the source was involved with efforts to compromise her website and other communications. And perhaps most important, that he was involved in cyberattacks — past and future — that had done and could do real harm to innocent people.
In a new interview with Pod Save America, Wheeler elaborated, claiming that Mueller is “sitting on a lot” and that we’re bound to see some big plot twists before this is all over.

For instance, when asked if most of the information that’s bound to eventually become public is already out there, Wheeler indicated that there’s still plenty to be revealed:

“Well, my part’s going to be a surprise for virtually everyone, but some of what I know was in public. Some of what I went to the FBI with was, ‘Hey, look at this that’s public.’ I just was looking at it from a very different perspective than a lot of people. And that’s part of the core case, I think.
Again, the reason I went to the FBI is because this person played a significant role in the election attack, not because … he sent me a text 15 hours after the polls closed making it very clear he knew exactly what was going on inside the White House. And this is not a Republican and not somebody who has any ties to Trump. ...
“I assume it must be true that there are many witnesses like me who were witnesses to stuff that nobody knows about, who were watching people who no one’s paying attention to who were part of this, and so yeah, I suspect that that kind of case is going to be pretty surprising and pretty strong.
“I mean, I’ve said that I never talked to Peter Strzok, who is the FBI agent that Trump attacked in Helsinki today. He wasn’t anywhere near the testimony I gave to the FBI; I wasn’t actually speaking to the Mueller inquiry when I did, and I can point to things that, between what I told the FBI and what I found, you know, shortly thereafter lying out there in public, I can get right to Trump, and I assume that’s true by a number of means, and therefore … Mueller is sitting on a lot, and he, I think, is going to roll it out. And if today is any indication, I mean, finally we’ve got Republicans saying this is beyond the pale, we cannot have a president subject himself to a hostile foreign power like Trump did today. I think we might see some momentum finally turning against Trump.”
When asked if the revelations in Mueller’s report will ultimately be jaw-dropping, like The Sixth Sense, or a disappointment, like The Village, Wheeler said this:

“I think there are some big plot twists. I did a series some months ago when the questions that Mueller wants Trump to answer came out, and I laid it out. This is clear quid pro quo. They went to Trump and said, ‘We’ll help you. We want sanctions relief, we want Syria, throw in Ukraine, maybe we’ll throw in a Trump Tower.’ And that’s it; that is the basic equation we’re talking about.”

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Abbreviated pundit roundup: World in shock as Trump chooses Putin over America


We begin today’s roundup with Michelle Goldberg’s excellent piece in The New York Times analyzing Donald Trump’s shameful submission to Vladimir Putin yesterday:
Trump’s behavior on Monday recalled his outburst at Trump Tower after the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, when he insisted there were “very fine people” among the racist demonstrators. Both times, everything Trump said was in keeping with things he’d said before. The shocking part was his frankness. Then, as now, it forced, if just for a moment, a collective apprehension of just what a repulsive abomination this presidency is.
It’s always been obvious that Trump does not hold Russia’s hacking of the 2016 election, which he publicly encouraged and gleefully benefited from, against Putin. None of us yet know the exact contours of Trump’s relationship with Russia, whether Putin is his handler, his co-conspirator or just his hero. But it’s clear that Trump is willing to sell out American democracy for personal gain. After all, on July 27, 2016, he publicly called for Russia to find Clinton’s emails, and, thanks to Friday’s indictments, we now know Russia started trying to hack the domain used by her personal office that very day. Trump’s collusion with Russia has always been out in the open, daring us to recognize what’s in front of our faces.

Anton Troianovski at The Washington Post says Putin’s views took center stage:
Responding to a question here about interference in the 2016 election, Russian President Vladimir Putin distilled his worldview: “You can’t believe anyone.”
For once, Putin had a Western leader standing next to him who rejects his critics in the same way. [...] But beyond Putin’s tactical gains, the Helsinki meeting highlighted the global ascendance of Putin’s ruthless approach to politics and to facts — the posture that any truth can be an illusion, that any journalist or public servant is likely pursuing an ulterior motive.
The New York Times on the matter:

There has been no sign that the United States has derived any benefit from Mr. Trump’s obsequiousness toward Mr. Putin, though Mr. Trump himself has now at least gotten a shiny new soccer ball.
Here’s Ed Kilgore’s take:

[U]nless some big developments quickly obliterate the images from Helsinki, it is going to be difficult ever again for Trump and his allies to suggest that his administration has made America Great Again by impressing friends and enemies alike with the bristling courage and plain-spoken nationalism of Donald J. Trump. After crashing through Western Europe, insulting America’s oldest and strongest allies, the 45th president confirmed that he has a weak spot for a Russian leader who is a real authoritarian bully-boy, not just someone who pretends to be tough on television or the campaign trail. It’s not a good look for the man who claims to put America First.
Robin Wright at The New Yorker:

Trump accomplished little in the way of substance in Helsinki. “Putin wanted to communicate that a new era in U.S.-Russian relations had begun, something Trump was all too happy to associate himself with,” Haass told me. “Trump engaged in moral equivalence in blaming both countries for the poor state of relations. As was the case in Singapore, he exaggerated what had been accomplished by the summit. Most egregiously, he criticized the Mueller investigation and refused to back his own intelligence and law-enforcement agencies.” The one positive development may be movement on outstanding arms-control issues, although neither leader provided any details.
James Fallows at The Atlantic says Republicans must stop enabling Trump’s destruction of American values and security:

[E]very hour that elapses after this shocking performance in Helsinki without Republicans doing anything, the more deeply they are stained by this dark moment in American leadership.
And, on the most important point, John Nichols sounds the alarm for Republicans to step up and secure our elections:

Complaining about the signals that this president is sending with regard to election integrity, even suggesting that Trump’s comments might encourage interference in the 2018 and 2020 elections, is just talk. It means nothing unless words are matched with deeds. No matter what anyone thinks about Trump, or about Putin, or about US-Russian relations, or about how direct and how ambitious outside interference may have been in 2016, or about what details of that interference may tell us about the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency, or about where the Mueller investigation is headed—it is simply absurd that affirmative steps are not being taken to secure the electoral processes of the United States going into this fall’s midterm elections and heading toward the 2020 presidential election.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Damn right I am a liberal

I grew up in the ‘70s, and came of age in the ‘80s. Those in my age cohort saw the drinking age changed when we were 17 to 21, and the retirement age was raised from 65 to 67. Both occurred before any of us could vote.

At 17, I volunteered for the United States Army, while the college fund was a part of that decision, I was driven more by a sense of duty to country. Someone in my family has served in this country’s military since before the Revolutionary War. While I served I can say that I was one of a handful of men who served on the East/West Germany border at Observation Post Alpha while at my first duty station. I was lucky enough to serve in one of the most storied units in the Army at my second duty station, the 101st Airborne Division. I was not a stellar soldier—but I did my duty, and those experiences helped to shape my world view.

For the most part, when I got out of the Army, I was a center left Democrat. I supported a woman’s right to choose; I believed that organized labor was the best way to a secure future for the working class; I believed you have a right to worship, or not worship; I believed that health care was a right, and not a privilege. I believed that the promise of America was a worthy goal.

Over the years I have changed and grown—my position on gay marriage has evolved simply because I went from being a kid who thought he did not know anyone who was homosexual (I did, I just didn’t know I did), to knowing I have homosexual friends, and realizing that love was not exclusive to male/female pairings. My position on legalized pot changed when I realized that it was not a dangerous drug like it had been made out to be.

As a liberal I believe that my tax dollars should not go into the pockets of corporations, and the rich. I am not asking for anything free—I do want my tax dollars to go toward an education for children, not one that just prepares them for a job, but one that enriches them and shows them the beauty of the world around them. I want may tax dollars to provide health care for all—I already have to pay for health insurance, it makes no difference to me if it is called a tax and goes into a pool, or if I pay an insurance company—either way I am paying for it. If it helps some people who cannot buy health insurance, then that is just a bonus. I want my tax dollars to go toward replacing and repairing outdated infrastructure—I never want to see another American community go through the disaster Flint, Michigan, is going through.

Someday, I would love to see a world where all of humanity lives as one without arbitrary lines drawn on a map dividing us. That does not mean I am advocating open borders today—I do want to see our immigration system fixed, part of that fix includes a path to citizenship for anyone currently here undocumented. I want an immigration system that is fair, and that shows empathy to the downtrodden.

As I said earlier, I used to be considered a center left Democrat. The vast majority of my positions are the same as they were in 1990. Yet today, I am called a communist, a socialist, or a fascist. I am none of those. I am first, an American, and believe that country should always come above party—and that the place the Republican Party has been leading this nation to since Ronald Reagan, and Newt Gingrich is not the promise of America—their policies, and their propaganda have moved people who will never benefit from the Republican agenda.

The GOP has no ideas—they play on fear, and preach hate. While our nation has often fallen short of its promise, if has always moved forward in fits and starts. We will come out of this—but we need to come together and rise to the challenge before us, and the next time a conservative troll calls you a liberal, before he has a chance to wipe the spittle from his pasty white chin, shout back, “Damn right I am a liberal!”

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Kavanaugh Lauded Rehnquist for Dissenting in Roe vs. Wade and Supporting School Prayer

Judge Brett Kavanaugh poses for photographs before meeting with lawmakers at the Capitol on Wednesday. (photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Judge Brett Kavanaugh poses for photographs before meeting with lawmakers at the Capitol on Wednesday. (photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

This guy just looks creepy.  Kind of like Ted Cruz-creepy.  Maybe it's that evangelical smile.

By David G. Savage, The Los Angeles Times

15 July 18

udge Brett M. Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, gave a revealing speech last fall in which he lauded former Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist for having dissented in Roe vs. Wade and for rejecting the notion of “a wall of separation between church and state.”

He also praised the late chief justice’s unsuccessful effort to throw out the so-called “exclusionary rule,” which forbids police from using illegally obtained evidence.

All three of areas of law — abortion, religion and police searches — are likely to be in flux if Kavanaugh is confirmed and joins the high court this fall.

Kavanaugh’s comments are significant because they were in a speech, not a court opinion in which he was bound by precedent, said David S. Cohen, a law professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

“He is not writing as a judge. This is him telling us his own views. And while he doesn’t come out and say ‘the dissent is right,’ it is pretty clear he agrees with Rehnquist,” Cohen said. Agreeing with the dissent, however, would not necessarily mean that Kavanaugh would now vote to overturn a long-standing precedent.

In the speech, Kavanaugh said Rehnquist “was my first judicial hero,” noting that he started law school at Yale in 1987, a year after President Reagan had elevated Rehnquist to be chief justice. Rehnquist had been the court’s lone true conservative for many years, and Kavanaugh said he felt much the same at Yale.

“His opinions made a lot of sense to me. In class after class, I stood with Rehnquist. That often meant in the Yale Law School environment of the time that I stood alone.

Some things don’t change,” he said at a Constitution Day address delivered at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington in September 2017.

He cited five areas—“criminal procedure, religion, federalism, unenumerated rights and administrative law” — where Rehnquist stood fast against the liberals and moved the law to the right.

He “would be the first to say that he did not achieve full success on all the issues he cared about. But it is undeniable, I think, that he brought about a massive change in constitutional law and how we think about the Constitution,” Kavanaugh said.

Kavanaugh noted that Rehnquist joined the high court in 1972, only a few months before the justices heard a challenge to a Texas law that made all abortions a crime, except those done to save the life of the mother. In Roe vs. Wade, along with Justice Byron R. White, Rehnquist “ultimately dissented from the court’s 7-2 holding recognizing a constitutional right to abortion,” Kavanaugh said.

The Bill of Rights did not include an explicit right to abortion, and Rehnquist believed a new, “unenumerated” right should gain constitutional status only if it was “rooted into the traditions and conscience of our people. Given the prevalence of abortion regulations both historically and at the time, Rehnquist said he could not reach such a conclusion about abortion,” he said.

Rehnquist’s dissent in Roe vs. Wade said “the states had the power to legislate with regard to this matter,” he added.

Later, as chief justice, Rehnquist tried, but failed by one vote, to overrule the abortion decision in the 1992 case of Planned Parenthood vs. Casey. Kavanaugh did not mention it, but Justice Anthony M. Kennedy cast a decisive vote to preserve the right to abortion in that case.

“It is fair to say that Justice Rehnquist was not successful in convincing a majority of justices in the context of abortion, either in Roe itself or in later cases such as Casey,” Kavanaugh said. “But he was successful in stemming the general tide of free-wheeling judicial creation of unenumerated rights that were not rooted in the nation’s history and tradition.”

As an example, he cited the 1997 decision in Washington vs. Glucksberg, which rejected a right to assisted suicide for those who are terminally ill.

Turning to religion, Kavanaugh said Rehnquist had maintained that the “wall of separation between church and state” was a misleading metaphor “based on bad history.”

Thomas Jefferson as president used this phrase in a letter in 1802 to describe the 1st Amendment’s twin clauses — one banning an “establishment of religion” and other protecting the “free exercise” of religion. The Supreme Court adopted the metaphor in a 1947 opinion.

Scholars and judges have continued to disagree over whether the Constitution should be interpreted to forbid religious symbols on government property or religious invocations at government meetings.

As chief justice, Rehnquist failed to win a majority to uphold prayers and invocations at public school events, mostly because of Justice Kennedy, who cast crucial votes with the court’s liberals to reject prayers at school in 1992 and 1999.

“Rehnquist was central in changing the jurisprudence and convincing the court that the wall metaphor was wrong as a matter of law and history,” Kavanaugh said.

“Throughout his tenure and to this day,” he added, the court has “sought to cordon off public schools from state-sponsored religious prayers. But Rehnquist had much more success in ensuring that religious schools and religious institutions could participate as equals in society and in state benefit programs.”

In 2002, he noted, Rehnquist wrote the court’s opinion upholding a state law that gave parents tax money to pay for sending their children to religious schools. And just last year, the court upheld a Missouri church’s claim that it had a right to receive state funds to pay for a new school playground. “There again, the Rehnquist legacy was at work,” Kavanaugh said.

As Kavanaugh said, Rehnquist was most interested in criminal cases.

He “fervently believed the Supreme Court had taken a wrong turn in the 1960s and 1970s… in a number of sweeping rulings of the Warren Court” that expanded rights for criminal defendants, Kavanaugh said. He cited as examples the 1961 decision in Mapp vs. Ohio, which called for excluding evidence that arose from an illegal search, and the 1966 decision in Miranda vs. Arizona, which said police must warn suspects of their right to remain silent and to consult with a lawyer.

“Perhaps his most vehement objection… concerned the exclusionary rule,” Kavanaugh said. “This judge-created rule, in Rehnquist’s view, was beyond the four corners of the 4th Amendment’s text and imposed tremendous costs on society.” He did not succeed in overruling it, Kavanaugh noted, and not many are calling for a change today, “given its firmly entrenched position in American law.”

Nonetheless, he said, “Rehnquist dramatically changed the law of the exclusionary rule” in a 1984 ruling that said evidence should not be excluded if the police relied in “good faith” on a flawed search warrant.

In 2009, four years after Rehnquist died, the court did not overturn the exclusionary rule but came close. By a 5-4 vote in Herring vs. United States, the justices upheld evidence from an illegal police stop in Alabama. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., a former law clerk for Rehnquist, said evidence from an illegal search should not be excluded unless the police misconduct was “deliberate, reckless or grossly negligent.” Justice Kennedy was in the majority after indicating earlier that he was unwilling to overturn the entire exclusionary rule.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Mueller Has the Goods - All of the Goods

Robert Mueller. (photo: NBC)
Robert Mueller. (photo: NBC)

By Charles Pierce, Esquire
Wittingly or unwittingly, a huge cast of American characters was in on the plot.

The conspiracy had as its object impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful governmental functions of the United States by dishonest means in order to enable the Defendants to interfere with U.S. political and electoral processes, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

—United States of America v. Internet Research Agency et. al.
oddamn them all.

Goddamn the hackers. Goddamn the journalists who laundered the pilfered material. Goddamn any of them who treated Roger Stone as a source, or as a cute prankster, instead of the nasty vandal he’s always been. Goddamn the pundits who chortled over the pilfered material. Goddamn the politicians who profited from the hacking.

Goddamn the politicians who minimized the hacking. Goddamn the politicians who still stonewall about the hacking. Goddamn the “activists” who ranted about “McCarthyism” when anybody pointed out that the 2016 presidential election had been poisoned from afar. Goddamn them all as traitors, if not to the American nation, then to everything that ever made that nation worth the bother.

They conspired, wittingly or unwittingly. They colluded, wittingly or unwittingly. They are accessories, before and after the fact, to the hijacking of a democratic election. So, yes, goddamn them all.

Bob Mueller dropped the first of many shoes on Friday. Rod Rosenstein announced the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers on charges of helping to ratfck the 2016 presidential election under the noms de ratfck "DCLeaks" and "Guccifer 2.0."

Rosenstein went out of his way to say that no Americans were named in the indictment, so the White House grabbed onto that as though it were the last floating deck chair off the Lusitania. But it is very clear from the indictment that Mueller has the goods, all of the goods, and that nothing is going to slow him down or knock him off pace. (Notice how the indictment details how seriously the Russians took the president* appeal to them to find HRC’s “lost” emails.) The mills of the gods and all that. 

Here’s the whole indictment, and its Tolstoyan cast of defendants, for you to read. Nobody has any illusions that these folks ever will see the inside of a United States federal courthouse, although a little discreet abduction wouldn’t be out of line, as far as I’m concerned. (Not really, but, maybe.) But there’s enough in the indictment to make a lot of people in this country nervous. To wit:
Between in or around June 2016 and October 2016, the Conspirators used Guccifer 2.0 to release documents through WordPress that they had stolen from the DCCC and DNC. The Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, also shared stolen documents with certain individuals.
a. On or about August 15, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, received a request for stolen documents from a candidate for the U.S. Congress. The Conspirators responded using the Guccifer 2.0 persona and sent the candidate stolen documents related to the candidate’s opponent.
b. On or about August 22, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, transferred approximately 2.5 gigabytes of data stolen from the DCCC to a then-registered state lobbyist and online source of political news. The stolen data included donor records and personal identifying information for more than 2,000 Democratic donors.
On or about August 22, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, sent a reporter stolen documents pertaining to the Black Lives Matter movement. The reporter responded by discussing when to release the documents and offering to write an article about their release.
44. The Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, also communicated with US. persons about the release of stolen documents. On or about August 15, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, wrote to a person who was in regular contact with senior member of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump, “thank for writing back . . . anyt[h]ing interesting in the docs I posted?”
On or about August 17, 2016, the Conspirators added, “please tell me if i can help anyhow . . . it would be a great pleasure to me.? On or about September 9, 2016, the Conspirators, again posing as Guccifer 2.0, referred to a stolen document posted online and asked theperson, “What do think of the info on the turnout model for the democrats entire presidential campaign?” The person responded, “[p]retty standard.”
Ignorance will be pleaded. The candidate, lobbyist, journalist, and person close to the Trump campaign will argue that they thought they were dealing with that 400-pound guy in New Jersey. It’s too late now to start believing those protestations. There was enough out there about the ratfcking in the middle of the summer of 2016 to make anyone who cared to look suspicious of being handed anything by hackers, and this includes WikiLeaks, which has had its halo knocked into the Bay of Fundy for good and all by this indictment. Too many people didn’t care, because Trump couldn’t ever win, and because it had been open season on Hillary Rodham Clinton for 25 years, and, boy, was that ever fun!

There's so much more coming. You can feel the hoofbeats of the horseman and the baying of the hounds behind every syllable of this indictment. My guess is that Mueller's not going to move on anyone in the United States until very late in the game. He's given all those folks a look at just a piece of what he's got. That's got to have their knees watery. And, because this is 2018, and everything is awful and strange, the president* this conspiracy helped to install is meeting, one on one, with the architect of it all, the Tsar of all the ratfckers, tomorrow. Everyone should be so very proud.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Experts now rank the United States among the world's 'declining democracies'

And here are the four people most directly responsible for that.
A new report on the state of the world's democracies makes for some grim reading. Writing in the Washington Post, the authors say the study "shows that democracy's decline is gaining momentum: One-third of the world's population lives in a backsliding democracy," and within that tally of declining democracies is the United States itself.

The outlook in the United States is especially dark, say authors Anna Luhrmann and Matthew Wilson, with experts' ratings sliding downward in "precipitous and unprecedented" fashion.
Experts lowered their estimates of democracy in the United States because they began to be skeptical that the U.S. Congress will rein in executive overreach. Similarly, experts lost faith that the opposition party can contribute to overseeing, investigating or otherwise checking the majority party. The U.S. executive branch was assessed as showing less respect for the Constitution and compliance with the judiciary, two indicators that the judicial branch can restrain the executive. For all four indicators, the score for the United States declined. The downward trend in the United States is much worse than in other countries. In terms of government compliance with decisions of the Supreme Court, the United States used to rank among the top countries of the world — but has now declined to No. 48.
There seems little room to argue any of these things. It is self-evident that the Republican Congress has no interest in curtailing corruption within the Trump administration or, in fact, even allowing full investigation of those acts. They are steadfastly blocking opposition efforts to do so, and will apparently continue to do so regardless of what else federal investigators discover. And the Constitution, apparently, has been reduced to a petty slogan.

If there is good news it is that all of this could be reversed if Americans saw fit to boot the lackeys responsible for it. A Democratic House would almost certainly resume the investigative role that Republicans abandoned entirely, after winning a presidential election; we might even come to the conclusion that allowing foreign actors to run roughshod over our elections is something that perhaps ought to be prevented in the future. The larger problems are the role of the ultra-rich in singlehandedly funding whichever campaigns and laws they most desire and a national political press that is forever devoted to both-sidesing our political decay into smarming nothingness.

You can find the full report here and the authors' summation here; you probably don't want to read either too close to bedtime, if you can help it.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

This Country Was Born in Incivility. Being 'Civil' Sure Won't Save It Now.

By Charles Pierce, Esquire
12 July 18
Neither will burying the truth under false equivalences between bad words, racism.
was saying to a friend on Wednesday night that what was sustaining me in this time of trouble and woe was reading the works of my favorite uncivil Americans—Tom Paine, Mercy Otis Warren, Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, late-period Mark Twain, a touch of Mencken here and there. Thus, I was able to read this incredible pile of piffle in The New York Times with comparative equanimity, which is to say without lighting my laptop on fire.
Mr. Trump’s coarse discourse increasingly seems to inspire opponents to respond with vituperative words of their own. Whether it be Robert De Niro’s four-letter condemnation at the Tony Awards or a congressional intern who shouted the same word at Mr. Trump when he visited the Capitol this week, the president has generated so much anger among his foes that some are crossing boundaries that he himself shattered long ago.
The politics of rage that animated Mr. Trump’s political rise now dominate the national conversation, as demonstrated repeatedly during the debate over his “zero tolerance” immigration policy that separated children from parents apprehended at the border.
Bear in mind—I think the NYT is still a great newspaper that still does great work. There is no better reporter working than Charlie Savage. It has the time and the resources and, by and large, it knows how to use them. Just this week, I’ve linked and commented on at least three stories from the paper that would have flown completely under the radar if the NYT hadn’t dug in on them. But its flaws are obvious and manifest, and they are illustrated clearly by this bit of analysis, which has been flambĂ©ed on the electric Twitter machine for nearly a full day. I mean, Jesus, baby jails? If you’re being civil, you’re not paying attention.

I blame Lincoln, actually. If he hadn’t delivered the greatest speech ever by an American president, his Second Inaugural Address, we might not be quite as addicted to premature “healing” as we are. But Lincoln had an excuse. The country was trying to reassemble itself after the incredibly sanguinary effort necessary to crush treason and eliminate chattel slavery.

In my time, I’ve seen “healing” used to excuse all manner of mischief: the Warren Commission; “Bring Us Together” as a slogan for Nixon, of all people; the Nixon pardon; the largely bipartisan effort to defang the Iran-Contra scandal; the elite discouragement of righteous outrage at the Florida hijack in 2000 or the chicanery in Ohio in 2004; the refusal of the Obama people to hold the officials of the previous administration responsible for malfeasance and nonfeasance in office, “Looking ahead, not back.”

All of these were undertaken on the theory, I believe, that The American People are made of fragile glass, and that they must not be encouraged to anger over the misuse of their right to self-government, lest it upset the salons of D.C. or the quiet anesthesia of our finer think-tanks. It must not frighten the horses, or David Brooks, who is only half of one.

Can anybody truly say that these exercises in civility and healing made our politics better? Is America a better place because we let the torturers go unpunished? Can’t it be argued that torture coarsened American culture worse than Robert DeNiro’s bad words at the damn Tony Awards? Is it that hard to trace a cultural line from the cells of Abu Ghraib to the cages of Brownsville, and to conclude that the implicit absolution of the former led to support of the latter?

Good lord, the country was born in incivility. There are monuments to, well, monumental incivility not 12 miles from this very keyboard. Sam Adams was extremely uncivil. The pamphlets of the time were positively slanderous, and they helped make a revolution that changed the entire world. Read the criticisms of the abolitionists in the years leading up to the Civil War. They would have fit in with those chin-strokers that the Times quoted in that piece on Thursday.
Gary Payne, who teaches sociology at Central Lakes College in Brainerd, Minn., said that he opposed the president, his policies and also the trading of crude insults on both sides. “People are looking for the simplest signals to go by,” Mr. Payne said as he stood outside the arena after trying unsuccessfully to attend the rally. “People pay more attention to demeanor than they do to policy.”
Fck off.
Perhaps, and I’m just spitballing here, we shouldn’t equate the words of the goddamn President* of the United States with the comments of television stars and aging actors. Maybe what the president* said from a podium in Duluth carries more weight behind it than what Peter Fonda said in Cannes? The Times piece poses an interesting question that it is far too timid to answer.
This approach traces back to the day Mr. Trump first announced his campaign for president in 2015, when he labeled many Mexican immigrants as “rapists,” a portrayal that drew furious protests.
Mr. Trump recalled that controversy just this week and doubled down on it. “Remember I made that speech and I was badly criticized? ‘Oh, it’s so terrible, what he said,’ ” he said with derision during a speech to the National Federation of Independent Business on Tuesday. “Turned out I was 100 percent right. That’s why I got elected.” Indeed, the lesson that Mr. Trump took from his nastier-than-thou campaign was that the more outrageous he was, the more incendiary his rhetoric, the more attention he drew and the more votes he received. Any expectation that he would put the harsh language aside to become more of a moral leader as president has proved illusory.
Maybe the country is full of enough racists, xenophobes, nativists, and angry idiots that it elected a dangerous buffoon to lead it, and maybe that’s a more important subject than whether or not somebody said a mean thing to Ivanka Trump. Maybe calling the Trump voters what they are, based on what they’ve done to the rest of us, is more important to the survival of the Republic than what three jamokes in a diner think of brown people who are coming to murder them in their beds.

Jesus, Duluth is 1676 miles from the southern border at Brownsville and, anyway, immigration has been good for Duluth’s local economy. So why did people there on Wednesday night applaud wildly this brand of truthless slander?
"The Democrats want open borders. Let everybody come in. Let everybody pour in, we don't care, let them come in from the Middle East, let them come in from all over the place. We don't care. We're not going to let it happen. Today I signed an executive order. We are going to keep families together, but the border is going to be just as tough as it's been.
Democrats don't care about the impact of uncontrolled migration on your communities. Democrats put illegal immigrants before they put American citizens. What the hell is going on?"
I guarantee you it wasn’t because Kathy Griffin made a video.

I wish our politics were less wild, less driven by fear and hate and greed. But, alas, they are, and only one side leveraged fear and hate and greed so successfully through the years as to put a gibbering racist in the White House. Forgive me if I put civility on the back shelf for a while and, instead, take as my navigating star the words of William Lloyd Garrison, writing in the first issue of The Liberator.
I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or to speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; — but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.
That will do for now.