Thursday, August 31, 2017

Trump's Tax Scam: Selling Plutocracy as Populism

President Trump. (photo: AP)
President Trump. (photo: AP)

By Bess Levin, Vanity Fair
31 August 17
n Wednesday, Donald Trump will kick off his tax-reform campaign with a speech in Missouri, where he is expected to sell his plan—or his idea for a plan, anyway—as a boon for the middle class. The speech will be necessarily light on details: amazingly, the White House still has no plan of its own after holding a self-congratulatory press conference in April to unveil a one-page, double-spaced, bullet-point list of tax-reform goals.

The Trump administration has since passed the buck to Congress to come up with the actual details. Instead, the speech will be all about ideas: specifically, those populist themes and campaign-style phrases (“Make America Great Again!” ) that help disguise the fact that the Republican Party’s plans to reform the tax code are primarily centered around slashing corporate tax rates, not uplifting the “forgotten men and women” Trump waxed poetic about during his inauguration. 

Administration officials have devised a series of slogans to blur this distinction. “We’re going to end the rigged system,” a White House official said during a call with reporters. “We’re going to build a tax code that really allows all Americans to have access to the American dream.” Apparently, the “rigged system” line has polled well with swing voters. 

It’s not clear how the G.O.P.’s tax proposals, like eliminating the estate tax, will improve access to the American dream. While the exact outlines of the plan have yet to be defined—it’s always easier to sell the idea than the specifics—the broad strokes of the Trump tax cuts appear aimed at rewarding the business class.

His past proposals have included a historic slashing of the corporate tax rate, bringing the top individual rate down to 35 percent, and introducing a loophole that would allow people like hedge-fund managers and lawyers to reorganize their businesses as pass-through entities and pay the corporate rate on their income, which Trump wants to be 15 percent. “Those are not exactly populist, keep-rich-people-from-rigging-the-tax-system provisions,” Roosevelt Institute fellow Michael Linden told the Wall Street Journal. “Those are the opposite of those things.” A July analysis by the Tax Policy Center found that the cuts proposed by the Trump administration in April would be 23,500 times better for the ultra-rich than the poor, giving the former an average tax cut of $937,700 to the latter’s $40. 

But one should never let the facts distract from a good sales pitch! “A lot of this is going to be him cooking stuff up in his head,” a White House aide told Politico. “He’s a good marketer.” Or as another official said, “He’s going to cast a vision for the kind of America he wants to create. More opportunity for everyone. Making the American dream more accessible than it’s ever been before.”

Accessibility appears to be the operative word: according to the White House’s reasoning, letting corporations keep more of their own money will redound to everyone’s benefit. “Every American worker will get a pay raise by getting to keep more of their paychecks,” the same official went on, promising that the money would trickle down while conspicuously avoiding that toxic phrase. “We’re going to win again by slashing the business tax rate and making our companies competitive again. They’ll be able to hire more workers, boost wages, and bring back trillions of dollars parked overseas. We’re going to make taxes simple and easy so people don’t have to spend a bunch of time and money on preparing their returns.” 

Whether the Trump’s blue-collar base or anyone else buys his pitch remains to be seen. Democrats aren’t waiting to hear the details before deriding the salesman. “Donald Trump said he was going to be an economic game-changer for middle-class Americans, but every step of the way his administration has failed to live up to his promises,” American Bridge’s Andrew Bates told Politico. “This tax plan is just the latest example; it’s shaping up to be a wasteful giveaway to the rich at the expense of everyone else, and no amount of White House spin will fool the public.”

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

So You Really Think Trump Is Not a Racist?

Donald Trump. (photo: Getty Images)
Donald Trump. (photo: Getty Images)

By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News
eally? So what is your definition of a racist? Sexist? Bigot? Pay close attention to your answer; you might be on the defensive. Exactly; if you don’t think Trump is a bigot then you probably are one yourself. Here is the Wikipedia definition of racism: prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior. 

Many of you are saying, “Just because I’m against illegal immigration doesn’t mean I’m a racist.” You may think Donald Trump’s pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio was not a sign that he is racist. The timing of the pardon is a sure sign that he is. Let me explain. Charlottesville has forced the President to distance himself from Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka (racists). What better time to signal to his racist, bigoted base by pardoning Sheriff Joe and banning transgender Americans from serving in the military?

What do transgender rights have to do with it? Sexism, Racism, and all forms of bigotry are related. They come from the same fear and hatred that is passed down from generation to generation.

Back to immigration. Let me ask you this: Why are you better than the undocumented family down the street. Aren’t they human beings with the same needs as you? At some point in your family’s history, someone came from another country. Isn’t that what makes America great? We are a melting pot. What gives you more of a right to a job than any other human being?

What makes that job your job? Instead of blaming another worker for taking your job, why don’t you try blaming the greedy billionaire who is hoarding resources that that could provide you a job?

Think about it: Bob needs a job, too. Taking his because he is not American does not solve the problem. So if you are blaming immigrants for your problems, then you are probably a racist.

Donald Trump led the birther movement. There was tons of evidence that Barack Obama was born and raised in the United States. Donald Trump knew that he could become a hero to a segment of the population that couldn’t accept a black President.

They were consumed by hate, so they were easily influenced by conspiracy theorists. Donald Trump, the reality-TV con man, knew how to get their support.

If Donald Trump isn’t a racist, he is at least someone who knows how to gain the support of racists. Trump knows how to fan the flames of racism and turn people’s fear and hatred into votes.

To me, it is even worse if he is not racist but is purposely fanning the flames of racism. Many racists don’t know that they are wrong. Looking at Donald Trump’s patterns, I believe he knows racism is wrong but chooses to exploit it for political power.

So if you are defending the racist things that Trump does, then maybe it’s you who are racist. Donald might just be playing you for votes.

Scott Galindez attended Syracuse University, where he first became politically active. The writings of El Salvador's slain archbishop Oscar Romero and the on-campus South Africa divestment movement converted him from a Reagan supporter to an activist for Peace and Justice. Over the years he has been influenced by the likes of Philip Berrigan, William Thomas, Mitch Snyder, Don White, Lisa Fithian, and Paul Wellstone. Scott met Marc Ash while organizing counterinaugural events after George W. Bush's first stolen election. Scott moved to Des Moines in 2015 to cover the Iowa Caucus.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

End Is in Sight. Trump's Power Is Ebbing Away Fast

Robert Reich. (photo: unknown)
Robert Reich. (photo: unknown)

By Robert Reich, Newsweek
29 August 17
ith Republicans controlling both houses of Congress, it’s unlikely Trump will be impeached or thrown out of office on grounds of mental impairment. At least any time soon.

Yet there’s another way Trump can be effectively removed. He can be made irrelevant.

It’s already starting to happen. The howling manchild who occupies the Oval Office is being cut off and contained.

Trump no longer has a working majority in the Senate because several Senate Republicans have decided, the hell with him.

Three Republican Senators voted against repealing the Affordable Care Act, dooming his effort. Almost all voted to restrict his authority over Russian sanctions.

They’re also pushing forward with their own inquiry into Trump’s Russian connections. Republican senators Thom Tillis and Lindsay Graham have even joined Democrats in introducing legislation to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller from being fired.

Republicans in the House won’t fund his wall. Many refuse to increase the national debt in order to pay for his promised tax cuts.

After Charlottesville, many more are willing to criticize him publicly. Last week Tennessee’s Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, even questioned Trump’s  “stability” and “competence,” saying Trump hasn’t shown he understands “the character of this nation” and that without that understanding, “Our nation is going to go through great peril.”

The Washington Post’s Dan Balz reports that GOP leaders are “personally wrestling with the trade-offs of making a cleaner separation with the president.”

It helps that Republican patrons in big business are deserting Trump in droves. Last week, CEOs bolted his advisory councils. Many issued sharp rebukes of Trump.

These are the people who raise big bucks for the GOP. Their dumping Trump makes it easier for elected Republicans to do so, too.

Even James Murdoch, the 21st Century Fox CEO whose media outlets include Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, and The New York Post – among the loudest mouthpieces for Trump – is ditching him.

Last Thursday Murdoch wrote, “What we watched last week in Charlottesville and the reaction to it by the president of the United States concern all of us as Americans and free people,” and pledged $1 million to the Anti-Defamation League.

This doesn’t mean Fox News or the Wall Street Journal will call for Trump’s ouster. It does mean their commentators and editorial writers now have clear license to criticize him.

Hey, America as a whole is abandoning him. Trump’s approval hit an all-time low of 34 percent last week.

Even parts of his base are dropping him. A new News/Marist poll shows his approvals have fallen below 40 percent in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – three states that were key to his election, which he won by a whisker.

Inside the administration, there are moves to contain and isolate the manchild.

On foreign policy, the Axis of Adults – Chief of staff General John Kelly, national security advisor General H.R. McMaster, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson – are asserting tighter control, especially after Trump’s tweetstorm over North Korea.

Reportedly, daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner are stepping up attempts to constrain him as well.

“You have no idea how much crazy stuff we kill,” another White House aide told Axios’s Mike Allen.

Plus, Stephen Bannon is gone.

All this means that, although Trump will still hold the title of President, he’s on the way to being effectively removed from the presidency. Neutered. Defanged.

We’re not out of danger. Trump will continue to rant and fume. He’ll insult. He’ll stoke racial tensions. He could still start a nuclear war.

But, hopefully, he won’t be able to exercise much presidential power from here on.

He’s being ostracized like a obnoxious adolescent who’s been grounded.

When the media stop reporting his tweets, his isolation and irrelevance will be complete.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Poll Shows Bernie Sanders Is Still the Most Popular Politician in America

Senator Bernie Sanders. (photo: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg)
Senator Bernie Sanders. (photo: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg)

By Drew Schwartz, VICE
25 August 17
new poll found that among all other notable American senators, representatives, and even the president, Bernie Sanders reigns supreme as the most popular politician in the nation—the only one a majority of voters on both sides of the aisle view favorably, the Hill reports.

The Harvard-Harris Poll—an online survey conducted from August 17 to 22—culled responses from 2,263 voters who lean both left and right, along with those who identify as nonpartisan. It asked about their feelings on the Democratic and Republican parties, the biggest political moments of the past few weeks, and what issues matter most to them. It also quizzed them on America's politicians, asking how favorably or unfavorably they viewed certain lawmakers.

Unsurprisingly, Sanders—who's long held the distinction of the country's most popular politician—earned the honor once again. The poll found 54 percent of voters view him favorably, while just 36 percent feel the opposite. No other politician netted support from a majority of US voters from both parties. The closest contender—Vice President Mike Pence—earned a favorability rate of 44 percent.

The Vermont senator's success could be based, in part, on how active he's remained since the primaries. He's kept up his unrelenting drive to reach voters where they live, meeting with folks at events in 15 states since the election, the New Yorker reports. He's continued to push for universal healthcare, bash the GOP over its inability to pass legislation, and pounce on Trump every time he says something controversial. He called Trump's Charlottesville comments "embarrassing," slammed his "fire and fury" threat to North Korea as "bombastic rhetoric," and told the president he was "on the wrong side of history" when Trump announced his intention to ban transgender personnel from the military.

For their part, the president, his team, and leading members of the GOP aren't looking so hot. The poll pegged the president's approval rating at 43 percent, with 57 percent disapproving. Only 33 percent of voters view Speaker of the House Paul Ryan favorably. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has the lowest favorability rating of any national politician, at just 19 percent.

Those folks could use a lesson in positive PR, something Sanders—whether intentionally or not—has seemed to master. Maybe it's his policies that have garnered him so much support; but maybe, at least in part, it's his penchant for pulling goofy stunts like taking a poster of Trump's tweets to the Senate, or speaking at the Ben & Jerry's HQ from a giant ice cream podium. At the end of the day, he's a politician with a good sense of humor—what's not to like?

Sunday, August 27, 2017

We've Never Been Here Before

Garrison Keillor. (photo: A Prairie Home Companion)
Garrison Keillor. (photo: A Prairie Home Companion)
By Garrison Keillor, The Washington Post
nxious times in America. There was a news story a few weeks back, “Interrupted Sleep May Lead to Alzheimer’s,” and next to it, a wine review with the line “Vivacious and well balanced, with chewy tannins and flavors of fresh red fruits.” You know and I know that a vivacious beverage will not compensate for losing your marbles. And now, driving to California, I find that I must enter a password in order to change the time zone on my laptop clock. Evidently, someone is out to mess up my schedule and my clock must be secured.

I go to concerts by old folk singers with long thin ponytails and see burly men in black, “SECURITY” on their shirts, protecting these oldsters from interaction with their aging fans. The only danger the fans present is that when they stand waving their iPhones and singing “We Shall Overcome,” they might fall and break a hip. As the president would say, SAD.

I grew up in an America with no passwords and many fewer warning signs. Now we buy coffee in cups that say, “Caution: Hot Beverage.” Someday I will drive by a sign: “Turn On Wipers In Event Of Rain.”

Most anxiety is fairly harmless — my fear of water for example, which I inherited from my mother. If you needed a man to ride a horse leaping from a high platform into a water tank at the thrill show, I would not be that man, but I take a daily shower, I drink water, no problem.

We authors experience high anxiety as a book goes through proofreading: You imagine that somewhere in those 150,000 words are “insouscience” and “precosity” and “Her and me went through a lot of anxiaty together.” We 75-year-olds feel the dread of dementia, especially in those moments when the name of the movie Warren Beatty starred in with Natalie Wood escapes us, the movie we saw in our teenage years, the title comes from a poem by somebody, a poem we read in 10th-grade English class — taught by Lois Melby? Helen Story? — and that, young people, is why we are wandering aimlessly through the produce section amongst the lettuce and tomatoes, because we’re waiting for that dazzling moment when (“Splendor in the Grass”!) the name pops up in our brain.

And now, a new anxiety that our history has not prepared us for, a fear that we have elected George III to the presidency and we may not survive three and a half more years of his madness. For the first time in our history, we are looking to generals to save us from democracy.

We Democrats bear some responsibility. Hillary Clinton was a symbolic candidate with a nice résumé who lacked the ability to connect with voters. This is a fatal flaw. She was almost beaten in the primaries by an elderly Vermont socialist. The party, bitterly divided, stuck to symbolism and tried to elect the First Woman President, though most women were not enthused about her. The party apparatus assumed she had to win. Who could possibly lose to an invincibly ignorant blowhard New York developer with a peroxide ducktail? As it turned out, she could.

And now we think about the man picking up the red phone instead of Twitter and ordering fire and fury like the world has never seen and the death of 10 million people. We trust the order will be disobeyed, a de facto military coup, and the man will be packed off to Walter Reed and what then?

We’ve never been here before. A fourth of the population will approve of anything the king does, including my cousin, a godly man who believes the king will safeguard Christians against a liberal elite that is out to confiscate their Bibles. On the paranoia spectrum, this is just below the fear that invisible beams from the microwave may force you to eat toilet cleaner. Evidently my cousin is not getting the uninterrupted sleep he needs.

I hope I am wrong. On Monday I was in the midst of people with protective glasses all excited by the so-called solar eclipse, and what they actually saw was a brief celestial dimness. Any Midwestern thunderstorm is vastly more spectacular. Maybe George III is that sort of phenomenon. The mad king turns out to be the Queen of Hearts who is able to believe six impossible things before breakfast. The rabbit is there and a little girl named Alice. Enjoy the show.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

What was in that Dossier report anyway -- besides the 'salacious claims'?

If only the Senate Intel Committee -- had all of Trump's emails to pursue too.

Now that the ‘Steel Dossier’ is getting a second read — largely due to the recent 10 hour testimony to the Senate Intel Committee by the report’s sponsor — I thought it would be worth taking a second look, into that “mother of all” Trump-Russia reports.  Especially, at some of its “finer details” — that did not make the ‘salacious headlines’ news-feeds, the first time around ...

Mr Trump calls the memo 'fake news'  

by Adam Withnall and Kim Sengupta, — 12 January 2017

Russia has been “cultivating” Trump for at least five years
Speaking to a trusted compatriot in June 2016 sources A and B, a senior Russian foreign ministry figure and a former top level Russian intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin respectively, the Russian authorities had been cultivating and supporting US Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump for at least 5 years. Source asserted that the Trump operation was both supported and directed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
This is a big deal.  In so many ‘divided’ Loyalty-oath ways.  And it may help explain why Trump has never uttered a harsh word about his overseas ‘sponsor’ Vlad.

Russia admitted it was responsible for the DNC email hacks
Inter alia, Source E, acknowledged that the Russian regime had been behind the recent leak of embarrassing e-mail messages, emanating from the Democratic National Committee (DNC), to the WikiLeaks platform. The reason for using WikiLeaks was "plausible deniability” and the operation had been conducted with the full knowledge and support of Trump and senior members of his campaign team. In return the Trump team had agreed to sideline Russian intervention in Ukraine as a campaign issue.
This is a big deal.  Isn’t this what so many Trump-Russia Investigation’s are trying to prove — a direct Quid-pro-Quo.

Mr Trump’s attorney had a secret meeting with Kremlin officials in Prague in August 2016
[Michael] Cohen had been accompanied to Prague by three colleagues and the timing of the visit was either in the last week of August or the first week of September. According to [redacted], the agenda comprised questions on how deniable cash payments were to be made to hackers who had worked in Europe under Kremlin direction against the Clinton campaign and various contingencies for covering up these operations and Moscow’s secret liaison with the Trump team more generally.
This is important.  It shows the direct coordination between Trump representatives and the “inner workings” (and compensating) of the Russian sponsored hackers.

It kind of puts those Trump repeated debate claims of “Not Putin’s Puppet” — in a completely different light. Someone was pulling his strings, while those very denials were being over-emphatically and vehemently made.

These important “claims” (among 7 others) should NOW gain some new credibility considering that:

    • “Glenn Simpson, a former WSJ reporter who was head of a company called Fusion GPS” … “was apparently commissioned by a group of wealthy Republicans to dig up damaging opposition research on Donald Trump”.
   • “Christopher Steele, a form MI6 agent with British intelligence who has a strong reputation for detailed knowledge of the workings of Russian intelligence” … “has also given the Committee a list of his sources, that he used to compile his dossier report”. 

This is important because the Trump crew has routinely dismissed the Dossier as ‘something funded by Hillary Clinton’.  Also they have on the other hand claimed, that the report ‘lacked credibility because Steele used unnamed sources’.  

Well NOW the Senate Committee has those source names A-Z.   Let the Verification and Subpoenaing begin.

"Mr. Simpson told Congress the truth and cleared the record on many matters of interest to congressional investigators,” Simpson’s attorney Josh Levy told reporters after the marathon session concluded.
He said the firm remains “proud” of the work and “stands by it.”  [Simpson’s private research firm Fusion GPS]
“This investigation into Mr. Simpson began as a desperate attempt by the Trump campaign and its allies to smear Fusion GPS because of its reported connection to the Trump dossier, which Watergate prosecutor Richard Ben-Veniste and others have said is a ‘roadmap for an investigation,’” Levy said.
Well then — Let the “road trip” to the treacherous truth begin ...

Friday, August 25, 2017

CARTOON: Statues of Bigotry

Stephen Miller is only 31, but that’s like 58 in eugenics-years. Hopefully this ghoul won’t become White House communications director because that large forehead messes up the layout of my comics.

Follow me on Twitter @BrianMc_Fadden

Why Trump Can't Pardon Arpaio

Sheriff Joe Arpaio endorsed Donald Trump at a rally in Marshalltown, Iowa, in 2016. (photo: Damon Winter/The New York Times)
Sheriff Joe Arpaio endorsed Donald Trump at a rally in Marshalltown, Iowa, in 2016. (photo: Damon Winter/The New York Times)

By Martin H. Redish, The New York Times
25 August 17
t his rally in Phoenix on Tuesday, President Trump strongly implied that he would pardon Joe Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., who was found guilty in July of criminal contempt for defying a judge’s order against prolonging traffic patrols targeting immigrants. This is not idle presidential chatter: On Thursday morning, CNN reported that the White House has prepared the necessary paperwork, along with talking points for its allies.

This is uncharted territory. Yes, on its face the Constitution’s pardon power would seem unlimited. And past presidents have used it with varying degrees of wisdom, at times in ways that would seem to clash with the courts’ ability to render justice. But the Arpaio case is different: The sheriff was convicted of violating constitutional rights, in defiance of a court order involving racial profiling. Should the president indicate that he does not think Mr. Arpaio should be punished for that, he would signal that governmental agents who violate judicial injunctions are likely to be pardoned, even though their behavior violated constitutional rights, when their illegal actions are consistent with presidential policies.

Many legal scholars argue that the only possible redress is impeachment — itself a politicized, drawn-out process. But there may be another route. If the pardon is challenged in court, we may discover that there are, in fact, limits to the president’s pardon power after all.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

I Have No More Patience for Trump Supporters

President Trump. (photo: Getty)
President Trump. (photo: Getty)

By Charles Pierce, Esquire

24 August 17
Tuesday night in Arizona, Trump came right up to the edge of inciting you to riot and you rode along with him.

t least, old Ted Agnew had the late William Safire writing his stuff for him.

"Nattering nabobs of negativism." "Pusillanimous pussyfooters." I mean, that's the top-shelf brand right there. It's an honor to have such invective thrown in your direction. Ol' Ted broke new ground in only two areas—taking cheap-ass bribes in the office of the vice president and attacking the media.

So the -- and I mean truly dishonest people in the media and the fake media, they make up stories. They have no sources in many cases. They say "a source says" -- there is no such thing. But they don't report the facts. Just like they don't want to report that I spoke out forcefully against hatred, bigotry and violence and strongly condemned the neo-Nazis, the White Supremacists, and the KKK.  (APPLAUSE)
I openly called for unity, healing and love, and they know it because they were all there. So what I did --  (APPLAUSE)
So what I did is I thought, I'd take just a second, and I'm really doing this more than anything else, because you know where my heart is, OK? (APPLAUSE)
I'm really doing this to show you how damned dishonest these people are.

And then,

You know why? Because they are very dishonest people. So I said, racism is evil. Now they only choose, you know, like a half a sentence here or there and then they just go on this long rampage, or they put on these real lightweights all around a table that nobody ever heard of, and they all say what a bad guy I am. But, I mean do you ever see anything -- and then you wonder why CNN is doing relatively poorly in the ratings. Because they're putting like seven people all negative on Trump. And they fired Jeffrey Lord, poor Jeffrey. Jeffrey Lord. I guess he was getting a little fed up, and he was probably fighting back a little bit too hard. They said, we've better get out of here; we can't have that.And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold true as Americans. Now let me ask you, can it be any better than that, in all fairness? And you know I mention that, but to the best of my knowledge when there was a big problem, Barack Obama never said it took place because of radical Islamic terrorists, he never said that, right.

And, finally, the full Schickelgruber:

And -- and I say it, and you know, we're all pros. We're all, like, we have a certain sense. We're smart people. These are truly dishonest people. And not all of them. Not all of them. You have some very good reporters. You have some very fair journalists. But for the most part, honestly, these are really, really dishonest people, and they're bad people. And I really think they don't like our country. I really believe that. And I don't believe they're going to change, and that's why I do this. If they would change, I would never say it. The only people giving a platform to these hate groups is the media itself, and the fake news…These are sick people. You know the thing I don't understand? You would think -- you would think they'd want to make our country great again, and I honestly believe they don't. I honestly believe it. If you want to discover the source of the division in our country, look no further than the fake news and the crooked media...

Before we get to the other stuff, and there was lots of other stuff, I'd like to address myself to those people represented by the parenthetical notation (Applause) in the above transcript, those people who waited for hours in 105-degree heat so that they could have the G-spot of their irrationality properly stroked for them. You're all suckers. You're dim and you're ignorant and you can't even feel yourself sliding toward something that will surprise even you with its fundamental ugliness, something that everybody who can see past the veil of their emotions can see as plain as a church by daylight, to borrow a phrase from that Willie Shakespeare fella.

The problem, of course, is that you, in your pathetic desire to be loved by a guy who wouldn't have 15 seconds for you on the street, are dragging the rest of us toward that end, too.

A guy basically went mad, right there on the stage in front of you, and you cheered and booed right on cue because you're sheep and because he directed his insanity at all the scapegoats that your favorite radio and TV personalities have been creating for you over the past three decades. Especially, I guess, people like me who practice the craft of journalism in a country that honors that craft in its most essential founding documents. The President of the United States came right up to the edge of inciting you to riot and you rode along with him. You're on his team, by god.

Are you good people? I keep hearing that you are, but let's go back to Tuesday night's transcripts and see what we find.

One vote away. One vote away. We were one vote away. Think of it, seven years the Republicans -- and again, you have some great senators, but we were one vote away from repealing it. (CROWD CHANTING)
But, you know, they all said, Mr. President, your speech was so good last night, please, please, Mr. President don't mention any names. So I won't. I won't. No I won't vote -- one vote away, I will not mention any names. Very presidential, isn't' it? Very presidential. And nobody wants me to talk about your other senator, who's weak on borders, weak on crime, so I won't talk about him.

Right there, in the passive-aggressive fashion of the true moral coward, he made a bobo out of a former POW who currently is undergoing treatment for what is likely a terminal brain cancer. And you chanted and cheered. Do good people chant and cheer a rhetorical assault on a dying man of respect and honor?

I have no more patience, and I had very little to start with. I don't care why you're anxious. I don't care for anybody's interpretation of why you voted for this abomination of a politician, and why you cheer him now, because any explanation not rooted in the nastier bits of basic human spleen is worthless. I don't want any politicians who seek to appeal to the more benign manifestations of your condition because there's no way to separate those from all the rest of the hate and fear and stupidity. (And, for my colleagues in the Vance-Arnade-Zito school of Trump Whispering, here's a hint: They hate you, too.) I don't care why you sat out in a roasting pan since 5 a.m. Tuesday morning to whistle and cheer and stomp your feet for a scared, dangerous little man who tells you that your every bloody fantasy about your enemies is the height of patriotism. You are now the declared adversaries of what I do for a living, and your idol is a danger to the country and so are you.

Own it. Deal with it. And, for the love of god, and for the sake of the rest of us who live in this country, do better at being citizens.

As to the rest, I might have been a little groggy, but I thought I heard him say he was going to shut down the government unless Congress gives him money for his stupid wall that Mexico was supposed to finance. I thought I heard him tell that evil racist gossoon, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, to count on a pardon down the line somewhere. And, I swear to god, I thought I heard him call the Democrats in the Congress communists.

Wait. What?

It's all they're good at. It's all they're good at. That's all they do. On healthcare, they have 48 Democrats. We got no votes. We got no votes. And it would have been great healthcare. And by the way, would have been great healthcare for Arizona. Would have been great. So the Democrats have no ideas, no policy, no vision for the country other than total socialism and maybe, frankly, a step beyond socialism from what I'm seeing. (BOOING)

Thought so.

(Also, note to all the Purity Police who think people like Joy Reid are "red-baiting" when they mention that Russian ratfcking helped decide the last presidential election. That bit right at the end there? That's actual red-baiting. Please take notes. I don't want to have to go over this again.)

It was a deadening, numbing 77 minutes. (If there's one modern orator he most resembles, it's Fidel Castro.) The abiding feelings that I took away from this carnival of the Id were twofold: first, that this jefe manqué is on the verge of sending people infinitely better than he is to die in a war he doesn't understand, and second, and probably most important, this is a president* who is scared to death. He's frightened of the responsibilities of his office, of the mounting unpopularity of both himself and his policies, and of the hounds baying at the frontiers of his shady past and shadier present. He's terrified, and he should be. He's desperately shoring up the bubble that his ovine followers helped him build to insulate him from the truth and from empirical reality.

Come to this house.

Be one of us.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Trump's Phoenix rally: Whines, rants, and the sweet, sweet sound of mindless rage

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 22:  U.S. President Donald Trump gestures during a rally at the Phoenix Convention Center on August 22, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona. An earlier statement by the president that he was considering a pardon for Joe Arpaio,, the former sheriff of Maricopa County who was convicted of criminal contempt of court for defying a court order in a case involving racial profiling, has angered Latinos and immigrant rights advocates.  (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
On Tuesday evening, Donald Trump conducted a raucous, racist, hate-filled rally in which he played all his old favorites: attacking the media, maligning immigrants, and demeaning even members of his own party who dared cross him. Then he spiced up his usual stew by re-writing what he said about Charlottesville, and going all in on attacking a man fighting a desperate battle with brain cancer.

Trump’s attacks on the media included repeatedly telling the Phoenix crowd that the rally was not being televised. 
Oh, that is so funny. Look back there. The red lights. They are turning those live red lights off fast, they are turning those lights off fast. Pres. Trump: Like CNN. CNN does not want their bowling viewership's to see what I'm saying tonight, I can tell you that. 
It was a statement you could watch … on CNN. Though Trump probably wished that no one was watching, as he proceeded to retell the events surrounding Charlottesville, including the victim—Donald Trump. In Trump’s revised history, he never made his “both sides” statement immediately following the murder of Heather Heyer, never spent a a press Q & A sessions defending white supremacists, but was just picked on by the unfair press. Trump? Trump never made any mistake. “The words were perfect,” he said.

Trump’s very-recent-history revisions were further blurred when he described the people who committed violence at Charlottesville as “thugs” then repeatedly used the same term to describe protesters who showed up at his rallies.  Trump raged on, and on, and on to accomplish what CNN’s Don Lemon refereed to as 
A total eclipse of the facts.
Trump returned again and again to the idea that his words following Charlottesville were “perfect” and that it was really the media out to drive the country apart. 
These are sick people. You know that the I do not understand? You would think -- you would think they would want to make our country great again. In, I honest honestly do not believe they did. I believe they don't. If you want to discover the story of the division in our country, look no further than the fake news and the crooked media.
As usual for a Trump rally, media was penned in a specific area so that the crowd could look at them and scream insults—they didn’t disappoint. Encouraged by Trump, at one point the crowd broke into chants of “CNN Sucks.”

When not talking about the press, Trump returned to the anti-immigrant themes that drove his previous appearances in Phoenix. Several times he stated that he would shut down the government if Congress wouldn’t give him the money to build his wall. Which makes it sound as if Mexico won’t be footing the bill.

When it came to racist ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio, Trump didn’t actually deliver on a pardon … he just promised he’d do it later.
“By the way, I'm just curious. Do the people in this room like Sheriff Joe?”
The crowd burst into wild cheers, thinking that Trump was about to pardon Arpaio — something the press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had said just hours earlier would not happen that day.
“So, was Sheriff Joe convicted of doing his job?” Trump continued. “You know what? I'll make a prediction. I think he's going to be just fine, okay? But I won't do it tonight, because I don't want to cause any controversy. Is that okay?”
As if giving Arpaio a waiver on justice would be okay on another day. Overall, it was a performance that inspired an astonished reaction from those watching.