Friday, November 30, 2018

Trump's legacy on climate change - and just about everything else - 'I Have a Gut' speech

Dana Milbank, columnist for the Washington Post, asks Does Trump’s great gut mean a tiny brain? There are good reasons to ask that question. None of them are comforting to either my gut or my brain.

It should go down in history as the “I Have a Gut” speech.

President Trump, asked Tuesday by The Post’s Philip Rucker and Josh Dawsey about the Fed’s interest-rate hikes, gave a gastrointestinal response.

“They’re making a mistake,” he said, “because I have a gut, and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else’s brain can ever tell me.”

And what a prodigious and extraordinary gut he has!

Trump’s gut does amazing things. Last week, he said there was no need to prepare for trade negotiations with the Chinese president because “I know it better than anybody knows it, and my gut has always been right.”

He told the Daily Caller that his decisions about which candidates to endorse are based on “very much my gut instinct.” He told the Washington Examiner his 2016 campaign strategy came from multiple locations in his torso. “Yeah, gut,” he said, but also “from my heart.”

He said in 2011 that “my gut tells me” President Barack Obama’s birth certificate may have been forged. His gut also told him to do “The Apprentice.” He has over the years been a veritable fortune cookie on the primacy of gut: “Go with your gut. . . . You have to follow your gut. . . . Develop your gut instincts and act on them. . . . I’ve seen people that are super genius, but they don’t have that gut feeling.”

Obama, during a moment of adversity in his presidency, remarked: “I’ve got a pen, and I’ve got a phone.” Now, in a similar moment, Trump has an equally felicitous phrase: I’ve got a gut. And it thinks better than some brains! No wonder his primary physician before coming to the White House — the one who pronounced all Trump’s test results “positive” — was a gastroenterologist. A great gut needs great care.

There are, of course, other life forms that do their “thinking” with parts other than brains, but these tend to be sponges, scallops and the slime mold that re-created a map of the Tokyo subway system — not exactly a desirable cohort in which the president has placed himself.

Or perhaps he is claiming to be an evolutionary throwback. Anthropologists’ “expensive-tissue hypothesis” posits that as animals’ guts got smaller, their brains got bigger. If Trump’s gut remains so prominent, might his brain be smaller than his hands?

The problem is the gut, intelligent though it may be (and no offense to any guts that are reading this), does not know how to run a country. “Even though it has a lot of neurons and can do a lot of things, it doesn’t think a lot about nuclear policy or climate change,” [Braden Kuo, a director of the Center for Neurointestinal Health at Massachusetts General Hospital] says. Nor is the gut well schooled in the nuances of monetary policy — the matter on the mind of Trump’s gut most recently. (Although Trump’s anxiety over rising interest rates “may be exerting influence in his gut, making him queasy,” the doctor says.)

Bandy X. Lee, the Yale University psychiatrist who has sounded the alarm about the president’s mental functioning, thinks Trump’s preference for his gut is a rare moment of self-awareness. When Trump talks about his gut, she says, he’s really referring to his “primitive brain” — from which a rush of emotion is “overcoming him so he’s not able to access his actual intellect.”

"For people who are cognitively impaired, they use what we call our ‘gut,’ but it is really their primitive mind,” she says. “It takes over and can defeat those operations in the cognitive and rational realm.”

This appears to be what’s going on with climate change, for example, where Trump’s views are contradicted even by his own administration’s findings. Trump says he doesn’t believe his administration’s report despite being one of those with “very high levels of intelligence.”

“His thoughts are in conflict with his emotions,” Lee diagnoses, and “in order to eliminate that conflict and pain, he aligns himself with the primitive part of the psyche.”

Trump’s emotional gut, in other words, dominates the rational part of his brain.

This should give us all butterflies.

OK. That was fun. But now let’s get serious about climate change.

Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer, reviews evidence that Climate change is more extensive and worse than once thought. Here are excerpts from the Daily Star this morning.

Climate scientists missed a lot about a quarter century ago when they predicted how bad global warming would be.

They missed how bad wildfires, droughts, downpours and hurricanes would get. They missed how much ice sheets in West Antarctica and Greenland would melt and contribute to sea level rise. They missed much of the myriad public health problems and global security issues.

Global warming is faster, more extensive and just plain worse than they once thought it would be, scientists say now.

For example: “Massive ice sheets in Western Antarctica and Greenland are melting faster than scientists figured a quarter of a century ago.”

“I don’t think any of us imagined that it would be as bad as it’s already gotten,” said University of Illinois climate scientist Donald Wuebbles, a co-author of the recent U.S. National Climate Assessment. “For example, the intensity of severe weather. We didn’t know any of that back then.”

Recently economists have joined scientists in forecasting a costly future. Yale economist William Nordhaus, who won the 2018 Nobel prize for economics for his work on climate change, told the Associated Press that his calculations show climate change would cost the United States $4 trillion a year at the end of the century with a reasonable projection of warming.

The way science has looked at global warming has changed over the last quarter century because of better knowledge, better computers, better observations, more data — and in large part because researchers are looking more closely at what affects people most. Add to that what many scientists see as an acceleration of climate change and the picture is much bleaker than in the 1990s.

Back then, Michael Mann was a graduate student exploring global warming.

“I honestly didn’t think that in my mid-career we would be watching the impacts of climate change play out on my television” nor that they would be so strong, said Mann, now a prominent climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University. It is playing out with wildfires, rain-soaked hurricanes, flooding, drought, heat waves and other extreme weather, he said.

Also in the Daily Star, Ann McFeatters confesses that My gut tells me there’s trouble ahead.

So, Donald Trump says his “gut” is better than most people’s brains. Thus, the economy is not sliding into soft, potentially dangerous territory but is on an upward trajectory that will amaze us.

Trump also says he does not “believe” in the science of climate change. Now, since the federal government and 99 percent of the world’s scientists do “believe,” Trump’s disavowal of the facts truly does take guts.

Nonetheless, Trump, once again remarking on his remarkable intelligence, told the Washington Post that “people like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence but we’re not necessarily such believers.” Huh?

But enough digressing. Let’s talk about the soaring economy, even though most people with ordinary brains think climate change will be devastating to everyone’s economy.

Let’s do. Trump’s tax cuts for the rich have done not one thing for the working middle class. Trump’s tariffs have done one thing for farmers - it’s killed the soybean market and caused our international trading partners to look elsewhere. Manufacturing jobs (as in, say, GM plants) are not coming back. Trump backs a murderer over his own intelligence services. And he does not believe in the climate change reported by a dozen of his own agencies.

Now Trump is repeating his intention to shut down the government if he doesn’t get $5 billion for his wall, the mythical structure across the border that the experts say will not and could not ever be built. (Separating mothers and babies, jailing hundreds of teens in desert tent cities without adequate supervision and tear-gassing children are not doing the job of keeping Americans safe from migrants, Trump asserts.) The last Republican shutdown of the government cost the economy billions of dollars.

If you have faith in Trump’s gut, you remain unworried. Let’s hear it for that spectacular economy, going up, up, up, making the rich ever richer.

If you have more confidence in brains, as opposed to guts, you may be getting a trifle uncomfortable. Consumer confidence index levels indicate you are not alone.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Mueller's status report on Manafort - Has the perjury trap already been sprung

The New York Times reported that Manafort Breached Plea Deal by Repeatedly Lying, Mueller Says.

Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, repeatedly lied to federal investigators in breach of a plea agreement he signed two months ago, the special counsel’s office said in a court filing late on Monday.

Prosecutors working for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, said Mr. Manafort’s “crimes and lies” about “a variety of subject matters” relieve them of all promises they made to him in the plea agreement. But under the terms of the agreement, Mr. Manafort cannot withdraw his guilty plea.

Defense lawyers disagreed that Mr. Manafort had violated the deal. In the same filing, they said Mr. Manafort had met repeatedly with the special counsel’s office and “believes he has provided truthful information.”

But given the impasse between the two sides, they asked Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to set a sentencing date for Mr. Manafort, who has been in solitary confinement in a detention center in Alexandria, Va.

The 11th-hour development in Mr. Manafort’s case is a fresh sign of the special counsel’s aggressive approach in investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential race and whether anyone in the Trump campaign knew about or assisted Moscow’s effort.

Striking a plea deal with Mr. Manafort in September potentially gave prosecutors access to information that could prove useful to their investigation. But their filing on Monday, a rare step in a plea deal, suggested that they thought Mr. Manafort was withholding details that could be pertinent to the Russia inquiry or other cases.

The question of whether Mr. Trump might pardon Mr. Manafort for his crimes has loomed over his case since he was first indicted a year ago and has lingered as a possibility. A former lawyer for Mr. Trump broached the prospect of a pardon with one of Mr. Manafort’s lawyers last year, raising questions about whether he was trying to influence Mr. Manafort’s decision about whether to cooperate with investigators.

The filing Monday suggested that prosecutors do not consider Mr. Manafort a credible witness. Even if he has provided information that helps them develop criminal cases, by asserting that he repeatedly lied, they could hardly call him to testify.

Mr. Manafort had hoped that in agreeing to cooperate with Mr. Mueller’s team, prosecutors would argue that he deserved a lighter punishment. He is expected to face at least a decade-long prison term for 10 felony counts including financial fraud and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Instead, after at least a dozen sessions interrogating him, the special counsel’s prosecutors have not only decided Mr. Manafort does not deserve leniency, but they also could seek to refile other charges that they had agreed to dismiss as part of the plea deal.

The prosecutors did not describe what they said Mr. Manafort lied about, saying they would set forth “the nature of the defendant’s crimes and lies” in an upcoming sentencing memo. The sentencing judge does not have to accept the prosecution’s account at face value, and Mr. Manafort’s lawyers are expected to vigorously contest it.

So what’s going on here?

"Everybody who lies to Mueller gets called on it — so he had to know that Mueller would catch him. So the question is: What was he hiding that is worse than going to jail for the rest of your life?” said Joyce Vance, a professor of law at the University of Alabama law school and former federal prosecutor. “There are often rocky dealings with a cooperator, and Mueller didn’t cut bait at the first sign of trouble. It was likely more than one lie and this would not have been a minor detail — it had to be something material and significant and intentional.”

Mark Sumner (Daily Kos) speculates that the Manafort plea deal may have started as a set up for Robert Mueller … and ended as a trap for Trump.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has accused Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort of breaching his plea deal by repeatedly lying to investigators after agreeing to provide information in exchange for a reduced sentence. This positions Manafort to face higher penalties for his original charges and additional penalties based on misleading the investigation in the weeks since he made his plea. It also opens the possibility that Donald Trump will pardon Manafort—a possibility that was underlined by Trump’s actions over the last day. Put together, there’s a real sense that this was the intention all along: Send in Manafort to distract and mislead the investigation with Trump holding out the promise of a Get Away With It All deal should his campaign manager be caught.

But there’s more to it then just Manafort being unable to find the off button on his lies. The way this is playing out suggests there’s another angle: One in which Manafort and Trump were together all along in hopes of upsetting the special counsel investigation. Except this dirty trick may be backfiring.

According to the New York Times, Robert Mueller’s team was in court on Monday to report that Manafort’s “crimes and lies” on a number of topics means that his plea deal is void. All except the guilty plea. Because the way the deal was made, Manafort is not allowed to withdraw his guilty plea. In fact, Manafort testified to his guilt, in court, in a prolonged statement made before a judge on the day the plea was signed.

Everything about the Manafort deal seems to scream that Manafort meant to lie from the outset. It also seems to show that Mueller knew Manafort was likely to be less than honest when he agreed to a deal. Because of course he was. Paul Manafort’s entire life consists of lying, cheating, and getting away with it. From his time as an official “dirty trickster” with Roger Stone, to his role as “the torturer’s lobbyist,” right through his seamless transition in to tumbling governments for profit, Manafort hasn’t just lied, cheated, and stolen, he’s come out smelling like—whatever an ostrich-skin vest smells like. In the midst of helping dictators and selling democracy down the river, Manafort was brought back again and again to chair Republican conventions and campaigns. Why shouldn’t he expect it would work again?

And Trump’s fresh round of tweets and statements against Robert Mueller may show that Manafort’s deal wasn’t only with Mueller. In a series of tweets on Tuesday morning, Trump did not mention Manafort directly, but railed repeatedly against how the special counsel investigation “ruins lives.” Before insisting they should be ruining someone else’s life.

The way in which this came down suggests that, from the beginning, Manafort made his plea not in an effort to reduce his sentence, but as a way to curry favor with Trump.

Rather than face a series of charges in federal court that repeatedly trotted out his association with Russia and the rather clumsy schemes to launder money through real estate transactions—both of which served as a tutorial on what to expect should Mueller actually delve into Trump’s business dealings—Manafort may have taken a proposal to the the Tweeter in Chief.

Here’s how that might have gone:

(1) Manafort agrees to a plea deal, promising to tell all. However, what Manafort tells doesn’t just stop short of “all,” it includes deliberate lies and omissions.

(2) In addition to giving Mueller a sanitized version of events, Manafort reports back to Trump on what the investigation is asking him, providing invaluable prep as Trump determines his own actions.

(3) At the same time, Donald Trump is preparing to answer a set of written questions from Robert Mueller’s team. He delays and delays on providing these answers because … because he’s waiting for his inside man to reassure him that the special counsel has swallowed the “official” version of what happened hook, line, and sinker.

(4) Reassured by Manafort that he has sold Mueller’s team on a carefully edited version of the “truth,” Trump turns in his homework.

(5) And it’s only after Mueller has Trump’s answers in hand that he marches Manafort back into court and reveals that he knew the campaign manager was lying all along. Now Mueller doesn’t just have Manafort on record lying, he has written proof that Manafort and Trump were conspiring again to deceive and misdirect the investigation.

In fact, if Trump and Manafort were working together to sell a story to Mueller’s team, it could not only represent the best example of Trump’s willingness to lie to avoid responsibility, it could be a definitive example how his lies never end.

Paul Manafort’s entire lifestyle of having his name clipped into his lawn and having a Mercedes delivered to one of his many homes with the frequency that most people buy milk was based on the idea that he could always find a bigger lie to sell. In this case, it seems he tried to sell it to Robert Mueller. But the person left paying the bill could be Donald Trump.

Maybe this version gives Mueller too much credit. Maybe there was no scheme between Trump and Manafort. But it certainly looks at this point as if Robert Mueller opened up a door marked “one last chance to demonstrate who you are” and both Trump and Manafort hurried in.

Marcy Wheeler (emptywheel.net) has similar suspicions she writes about in Mueller just guaranteed he can issue a public report.

Back when Paul Manafort first entered a plea agreement, I argued the effects of it could not be pardoned away.

Here’s why this deal is pardon proof:

(1) Mueller spent the hour and a half delay in arraignment doing … something. It’s possible Manafort even presented the key parts of testimony Mueller needs from him to the grand jury this morning.

(2) The forfeiture in this plea is both criminal and civil, meaning DOJ will be able to get Manafort’s $46 million even with a pardon.

(3) Some of the dismissed charges are financial ones that can be charged in various states.

Since that time, Mueller has been busy finishing up the Roger Stone indictment, Trump has finally finished his open book test, and any owners of the property Manafort had to forfeit under the plea deal had their 30-day window to challenge the forfeiture (only the bank owning the loan on his Trump Tower condo is known to have contested the forfeiture, which means the government may already be irretrievably seizing $43 million of Manafort’s property).

Which brings us to the status report that Mueller’s team delayed long enough to get that open book test.

Paulie can’t help himself. According to Mueller’s team, he has kept lying and lying since entering the cooperation agreement.

After signing the plea agreement, Manafort committed federal crimes by lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Special Counsel’s Office on a variety of subject matters, which constitute breaches of the agreement. The government will file a detailed sentencing submission to the Probation Department and the Court in advance of sentencing that sets forth the nature of the defendant’s crimes and lies, including those after signing the plea agreement herein.

As the defendant has breached the plea agreement, there is no reason to delay his sentencing herein.

As I noted back in September, the standard the government has to prove to claim Manafort has breached his agreement is just “good faith,” as compared to preponderance of the evidence with Rick Gates.

With Gates, the standard the government has to prove to argue he has breached his agreement is preponderance of the evidence or, in case of committing a crime, probable cause. With Manafort, the government only has to prove “good faith.”

Now, it is true that Trump can pardon Manafort (though that probably won’t happen right away). That’s the only sane explanation for Manafort doing what he did, that he is still certain he’ll be pardoned. But many of these charges can still be charged in state court.

Just about the only explanation for Manafort’s actions are that — as I suggested — Trump was happy to have Manafort serve as a mole in Mueller’s investigation.

But Mueller’s team appears to have no doubt that Manafort was lying to them. That means they didn’t really need his testimony, at all. It also means they had no need to keep secrets — they could keep giving Manafort the impression that he was pulling a fast one over the prosecutors, all while reporting misleading information to Trump that he could use to fill out his open book test. Which increases the likelihood that Trump just submitted sworn answers to those questions full of lies.

And that “detailed sentencing submission … sett[ing] forth the nature of the defendant’s crimes and lies” that Mueller mentions in the report?

There’s your Mueller report, which will be provided in a form that Matt Whitaker won’t be able to suppress. (Reminder: Mueller included 38 pages of evidence along with Manafort’s plea agreement, which I argued showed how what Manafort and Trump did to Hillary was the same thing that Manafort had done to Yulia Tymoshenko.)

When the detailed sentencing submission is filed, assuming it is public, I will update this post.

Where we can go and still feel safe in America

“At its heart, Pearls Before Swine is the comic strip tale of two friends: an arrogant Rat who thinks he knows it all and a slow-witted Pig who doesn’t know any better. Together, this pair offers caustic commentary on humanity’s quest for the unattainable.” Here is the latest strip appearing in the Daily Star on Tuesday, Nov. 27.

Pearls
Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis

Over a year ago, Tuesday October 3rd, 2017, I posted an indictment of America titled J’accuse: Our national failure and disgrace. The occasion was another mass shooting in which 59 people were killed and 527 injured. Nothing has changed except just more shootings and deaths. So, America, this one’s for you. Here are my concluding paragraphs.

I accuse the American people for tolerating the murders of their fellow citizens - adults and children alike - in the name of an archaic document. I accuse my fellow Americans of rewriting their Constitution so as to bestow a right to bear weapons of mass murder. I accuse my fellow Americans of living in mindless fear, of being so afraid of all that surrounds us. I accuse my fellow Americans of being gulled by the gun industry and the NRA and the political leaders into believing that more guns mean more freedom and security.

I accuse, then, most of all, the United States of America for its failure as a nation. I accuse the USA of failing “to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity …” I accuse the USA of inflicting unjust injury on its citizens. I accuse the USA of fostering domestic discord. I accuse the USA of harming the general welfare. I accuse the USA of the dishonest equation of guns and liberty. I accuse the United States of America of accepting and condoning the deaths of its citizens.

We have surrendered our quest. Preventing gun deaths is possible, as experiences of other countries show. But in America preventing gun deaths is “the unattainable.” J’accuse.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Trump Foundation faces legal troubles

Steve Benen (MSNBC/MaddowBlog) reports that a New York Judge rejects Trump’s argument about his scandal-plagued foundation.

Over the holiday weekend, Donald Trump tried to generate some fresh interest in the Clinton Foundation, as if Hillary Clinton, who left public office nearly six years ago, is still worthy of the political world’s obsession. Of far greater interest is the Republican president’s own foundation.

A New York judge on Friday denied a request from President Donald Trump and his family members to dismiss a lawsuit against them and the Trump Foundation alleging that the charitable foundation violated state and federal laws for “more than a decade.”

In her ruling, Justice Saliann Scarpulla of the New York state Supreme Court shot down an argument from the Trump family’s attorneys that the case should be dismissed because the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution suggests “a sitting president may not be sued.”

Scarpulla also rejected Trump’s argument that the state court lacked jurisdiction over the president in this case.

I can appreciate why the panoply of Trump scandals can seem overwhelming, but this one really is extraordinary.

Circling back to our previous coverage, the New York attorney general’s office in June accused the Trump Foundation of being little more than a slush fund, which, among other things, made illegal in-kind contributions for Trump’s campaign.

The scope of the legal issues raised by the New York court filing is quite broad. There are, for example, questions surrounding the president and his family allegedly running a fraudulent charitable entity. There are additional questions about violations of federal election law, which appear to have been quite flagrant.

There’s also the fact that the president personally signed federal tax returns – under penalty of perjury – swearing that his foundation wasn’t used for political and/or business purposes, and we now know there’s quite a bit of evidence that suggests it was used for both.

Background on court proceedings

The New Yorker’s Adam Davidson recently reported on the court proceedings that occurred before Friday’s announcement in which “the judge in the case, Saliann Scarpulla, made a series of comments and rulings from the bench that hinted – well, all but screamed - that she believes the Trump family has done some very bad things.”

Following are snippets from Davidson’s report, The Inconvenient Legal Troubles That Lie Ahead for the Trump Foundation.

The case against the Trumps appears damning. Charitable foundations are governed by a crucial compromise: they can operate without paying taxes on the condition that their leadership insures that all money spent is spent in pursuit of the public good. The case brought by Attorney General [Barbara] Underwood shows that the Trump Foundation was neither well-managed nor focussed on what would generally be considered the public good. Its operations were shockingly sloppy; at least one of the organization’s official board members said that he had no idea he was on the board and that the board had never met, to his knowledge. No surprise, then, that the other controls that normally govern nonprofits were absent. As David Fahrenthold, of the Washington Post, exposed in a series of stories in 2016, the Foundation did virtually none of the charitable things it claimed to be doing.

In recent years, the only “contributions” to the charity seem to have been payments from business partners, not from the Trumps or the Trump Organization. The charity’s spending appears to have benefitted the Trumps themselves, not the public welfare. The organization had been operating this way for years, but, according to Underwood, in 2016 the Trump Foundation became an arm of the Trump political campaign, cutting checks to Trump’s political allies in key states just before the election. If true, this would mean that the Trump Foundation evolved from a mere tax-avoidance scheme into an instrument for carrying out potential acts of campaign-finance fraud. The Attorney General made clear that her evidence could support criminal cases against the Trumps, but she has no jurisdiction to bring such charges, since tax and campaign fraud are federal matters. She referred the case to federal officials, though it seems unlikely that the I.R.S. or the Federal Election Commission would choose to prosecute a sitting President or his children.

The Trump Foundation case may have already revealed a potential rift between [Allen] Weisselberg and the family. His deposition in the case is fascinating reading. Weisselberg makes it quite clear just how sloppy an operation the foundation was, with no meetings and no careful accounting. In a compelling exchange, Weisselberg describes how he flew to Iowa with a checkbook to give money to political allies of Trump, then a Presidential candidate, and he makes it clear that he did this because his boss told him to. It is a damning statement, and the first evidence I have seen that Weisselberg, when cornered, may be willing to shift blame to the President. Judge Scarpulla will continue pushing the Trumps to settle. Trump-watchers, though, will likely hope that the family chooses to fight. We will learn much more if Weisselberg and others take the stand.

Adam Davidson reports that “The judge has urged the Trumps to settle. The president has said he won’t.”

Deeper background: A tale of two foundations

A lot has been written about the two foundations and how they differ starting in 2016 and extending to the present. You can learn more about them by going to my web site, www.skyislandscriber.com, and using the search feature (scroll down the right hand column to the Search this blog gadget). Below are links that you might find useful listed in reverse chronological order.

Citing ‘vast lawbreaking’ New York sues Donald J. Trump Foundation.

The Trump Foundation in the Mind and Mouth of the Master of Mendacity.

The speech Hillary should give about the Clinton Foundation.

Mississippi Goddam

Tomorrow there is another election worth watching. Tonight Trump arrives in Mississippi to campaign for Cindy Hyde-Smith who “is in a run-off election with Democrat Mike Espy, a former Cabinet secretary under Bill Clinton, who would become the first African-American to represent the Mississippi in the Senate since Reconstruction.” There are several reasons why Mississippians should vote Hyde-Smith into oblivion. AZBlueMeanie lists them in One More Senate Race: Mississippi Goddam (Updated).

Before you read the Blue Meanie’s post, I suggest you sharpen your mindset with this song by Nina Simone (h/t AZBlueMeanie).

Illustrated Gnus and other fantastical creatures inhabiting the White House and Capitol Hill

Trump's scorn

Here are the schemes, themes, memes, and falemes from the selection of weekly cartoons by AZBlueMeanie at Blog for Arizona. It is, you know, Mournday Mourning.

  • Trump’s California empathy tour: I too lost a house.
  • Analogy of the year - Caravan : Mayflower :: Migrants : Pilgrims
  • White House preps for Mueller with concertina wire
  • Trump redefines our border, recalls all 5,200 troops to string said wire
  • Trump issues first (of many?) pardons to Thanksgiving day turkey
  • Matthew McConnell and Mitch Whitaker agree on disposition of Mueller investigation
  • Trump spends Thanksgiving at Mar-a-Lago surfing the Blue Wave
  • House of Representatives screens latest super hero film: “Nancy Pelosi, Superwoman”
  • Trump tosses paper towels to Puerto Rico, rakes to California
  • Trump is not to be outdone: Nero fiddled while Rome burned, Trump rakes while our planet burns
  • Chief Justice John Roberts whaps Trump up side the head. Trump doesn’t feel a thing.
  • There’s MBS and then there’s BS: “… Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t …”
  • No bottom in sight … uh, well maybe one is visible after all as Trump grovels before Mohammed bin salman.
  • Why Trump did not honor our vets: remember his attitude about heros?
  • Poor Ivanka. How was she supposed to know that using a personal email account for government business was wrong?
  • Trump refers to incoming House Intelligence chair Adam Schiff as “Adam Schitt.” Try this from Wikipedia: “Regression …, according to psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, is a defense mechanism leading to the temporary or long-term reversion of the ego to an earlier stage of development rather than handling unacceptable impulses in a more adaptive way. The defense mechanism of regression, in psychoanalytic theory, occurs when an individual’s personality reverts to an earlier stage of development, adopting more childish mannerisms.” Works for me.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Observations on the Nov. 27 Senate election in Mississippi

The 2018 election is not over. Judd Legum (popular.info) reports on the Mississippi special election for U. S. Senate.

Corporations are sick of Cindy Hyde-Smith

First, here’s an update on the impact Popular Information is having on national politics this week.

On Monday morning, I reported on a new FEC filing by Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, who said she’d attend a “public hanging.” The filing revealed recent donations to Hyde-Smith from major corporations including Walmart ($2000), Union Pacific ($5000), Leidos ($5000) and Boston Scientific ($2500).

This information spread rapidly on social media. Then things started to happen.

All these companies have asked for a return of their contributions:Union Pacific, Boston Scientific, Walmart, Leidos, AT&T, Pfizer, Amgen.

The move by companies in the medical industry is particularly notable since Hyde-Smith sits on “the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the Food and Drug Administration.”

Hyde-Smith faces Democrat Mike Espy in a runoff election on November 27.

I suspect that those companies did not want to keep company with the KKK. Legum also reports:

Former Klansman donates to Cindy Hyde-Smith

A former member of the Ku Klux Klan, George Malvaney, donated $1000 to Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) on November 20. The contribution was dated nine days after a video emerged of Hyde-Smith saying she would be willing to attend a “public hanging.”

Malvaney was discharged from the U.S. Navy in 1979 after he organized a Klavern aboard a combat ship. Following his release from the military, Malvaney was part of a failed plot by white supremacists to overthrow the small Caribbean island of Dominica. The bungled operation is known as the Bayou of Pigs.

The attempted coup was disrupted by federal agents in Lousiana before it started. Malvaney and his co-conspirators were found with “eight Bushmaster automatic rifles, 10 shotguns, five rifles, 10 handguns, 10 pounds of dynamite and 5,246 rounds of ammunition.” The men also had “a large red and black Nazi flag.”

Malvaney also donated $2700 to Hyde-Smith in May.

Popular Information previously reported that Hyde-Smith accepted a $2700 contribution from a notorious racist in Washington State, Peter Zieve. After that report, Hyde-Smith’s campaign told NBC News it was returning the money.

Now about those other donations?

Trump to stump

The Jackson Clarion Ledger takes A look at Cindy Hyde-Smith before US Senate runoff: Trump’s choice, guarded public image.

President Donald Trump’s upcoming rallies were the first thing U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith mentioned in her opening statement at a Tuesday debate in Jackson.

They were also the focus of her closing remarks — even telling viewers the URL where they could “get those tickets.”

It was fitting for a candidate whose central campaign theme is a near-perfect alignment with Trump’s agenda, something she brings up often on the campaign trail. Even the sides of her campaign bus — dubbed the “MAGA Wagon” — display a large photograph of Hyde-Smith sitting beside the president.

Last week’s debate was one of the rare opportunities during this campaign season to watch an unvarnished Hyde-Smith, not speaking through a spokesperson or statement or surrogate. The 59-year-old Republican previously turned down requests to debate, saying she was too busy in Washington, but eventually agreed after she and Democrat Mike Espy moved on following the general election.

But Tuesday’s contest rarely offered a more candid view. Hyde-Smith often read from notes spread out on the podium, or pivoted away from policy questions to deliver attack lines on her opponent. She departed without taking questions from the media, leaving her fellow Sen. Roger Wicker to speak on her behalf.

But with her constant reminders of Trump’s support — the Republican won Mississippi by 18 percentage points in 2016 — it may not matter.

Trump is scheduled to hold Monday rallies in Tupelo and Biloxi to bolster support for Hyde-Smith, after her recent controversial statements, captured on video, which many viewed as having racial undertones. National Republican groups have also sent money and resources to the state in the past two weeks to shore up support for its candidate.

… Hyde-Smith said at a Nov. 1 Jackson gathering of business and political leaders. “President Trump and the Republican Party made promises in 2016, and we have kept those promises.” She added she was the only candidate “to support the president 100 percent of the time,” and said she would “be with him every day, toe-to-toe.”

That support extends to voting for repeal of ACA, “securing the border”, “lower taxes”, and “right to life.” In short, she’s a maga-nanimous member of Trump’s base.

We’ll know more about Mississippi come Nov. 27. As is the case nationally, you see, the story is more about the voters than about the candidate.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Trump guilty of apophasis, maybe paraleipsis, but not perspicacity

This morning I offer three words for the day from the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

paraleipsis noun
para·​leip·​sis | \ˌparəˈlīpsə̇s, -lāp-
Definition of paraleipsis
a passing over with brief mention in order to emphasize rhetorically the suggestiveness of what is omitted (as in “I confine to this page the volume of his treacheries and debaucheries”)

apophasis noun
apoph·​a·​sis | \ə-ˈpä-fə-səs
Definition of apophasis
the raising of an issue by claiming not to mention it (as in “we won’t discuss his past crimes”)

These two figure into how Trump excuses the Saudi’s murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Read on.

Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson explains why he thinks that Trump is not a champion of human rights. He is a clueless clown.

In Riyadh, they must be laughing at President Trump. In Pyongyang, too, and in Tehran. In Beijing and, of course, in Moscow, they must be laughing until it hurts. They look at Washington and they don’t see a champion of freedom and human rights. They see a preening, clueless clown.

Trump’s reaction — or non-reaction — to the Saudi regime’s brutal killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is a holiday-season gift to autocrats around the globe. It shows them that if you just shower Trump with over-the-top flattery, feed him some geopolitical mumbo jumbo and make vague promises to perhaps buy some American-made goods in the future, he will literally let you get away with murder.

After weeks of hemming and hawing, the White House put out a statement Tuesday from Trump making clear that for the murder of Khashoggi — who lived in Virginia, was a permanent U.S. resident and had children who are U.S. citizens — the Saudi regime will face no consequences. Zero. Not even a slap on the wrist.

Despite the CIA’s assessment that the crown prince ordered the killing, the White House statement waffles on whether he even knew about it in advance: “Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Trump said the same thing later to reporters, adding, “We are with Saudi Arabia. We’re staying with Saudi Arabia.”

Even more appalling, the statement — which is littered with exclamation points, suggesting Trump himself had a hand in writing it — attacks and defames the victim. Khashoggi was a respected journalist who sometimes criticized the Saudi government. The president of the United States suggests he deserved to die.

"Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an ‘enemy of the state’ and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that,” the statement says. That is a rhetorical device known as paraleipsis [Scriber thinks apophasis, really]— saying something by professing not to say it — and its use to suggest the Saudis were somehow justified in killing Khashoggi makes me want to throw up.

In the statement — which is headlined “America First!” — Trump emphasizes what he calls the “record amount of money” that Saudi Arabia is supposedly prepared to spend in the United States. Trump goes on to make a series of false claims. No, there is no agreement for the Saudis to spend $450 billion on U.S. goods, despite Trump’s assertion. No, there is no firm agreement for $110 billion in arms sales; the actual figure is $14.5 billion. No, what Trump reckons as “hundreds of thousands of jobs” are not at stake. And no, the Saudis could not simply decide to buy Chinese or Russian arms, instead.

The truth is that in the U.S.-Saudi relationship, the United States holds all the cards. We don’t need the Saudis’ oil and can easily do without their arms purchases. By contrast, without U.S. military assistance and American-made spare parts, the Saudi armed forces could not function.

So why, then, is Trump once again abasing us - you and me and America - by groveling at the feet of another dictator? This, Robinson concludes, is the formula.

Lavish Trump with praise. Treat him like a king. Wave a fistful of money in front of his face. And if you want to, say, kill an inconvenient journalist, he’ll look the other way.

And here is how the Saudis put it into practice.

The Saudi royals got on Trump’s good side by hosting his first foreign visit and fawning over him as if he, too, were an absolute monarch. North Korea’s Kim Jong Un was gracious and deferential to Trump at their summit — and now continues his nuclear and ballistic missile programs unmolested. Russia’s Vladimir Putin complimented Trump’s political skill — and escaped any meaningful punishment for meddling in the 2016 election. There cannot be a strongman ruler in the world who fails to see the pattern — and the opportunity.

Trump may be a confused and confusing clown, but whether he is clueless about his rhetoric, or intentionally malicious, I leave to your perspicacity.

perspicacity \ ˌpər-​spə-​ˈka-​sə-​tē \ noun
perspicacious adjective
per·​spi·​ca·​cious | \ˌpər-spə-ˈkā-shəs
Definition of perspicacious
of acute mental vision or discernment : KEEN
implies unusual power to see through and understand what is puzzling or hidden

UPDATE: Whatever shred of perspicacity you might have attributed to Trump is gone. The LA Times (reprinted in this morning’s Daily Star) reports that Turkey accuses Trump of ‘turning a blind eye’ to Khashoggi’s killing.

For months, Turkish officials have been leaking gruesome details surrounding Jamal Khashoggi’s death as a counter to President Trump’s moves to absolve Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the Trump ally thought to be behind the Saudi journalist’s slaying.

But Ankara took a more direct approach on Friday, with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu slamming Trump for “turning a blind eye” in Khashoggi’s death, and accusing him of putting money above human values.

Cavusoglu’s rebuke echoes those from other Turkish officials, who have described as comical an exclamation-point-filled message from the president concerning reports that the prince ordered Khashoggi’s slaying. .

“Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t,” Trump wrote on Tuesday in a rambling 633-word message, later adding “in any case, our relationship is with Saudi Arabia.” He also thanked the kingdom for its support against Iran and “keeping oil prices at reasonable levels.”

Trump’s statements in support of the prince mean that the president is saying, in essence, “‘Whatever happens, I will turn a blind eye,’” Cavusoglo said in an interview Friday with CNN’s Turkish affiliate, CNN Turk. “This is not the right approach. Money is not everything. … We shouldn’t abandon our humanitarian values.”

Turkey gets it. Trump, a world class chump, does not. He is indeed, as Robinson said, clueless.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Trump thanks Saudis - for what and why

I could list the many things I am thankful for. Just waking up to another year seems like a low bar but at our age…

I am thankful that our doggies did not draw blood in their spat last night over a chocolate chip cookie. I am thankful that Mrs. Scriber did not lose fingers in that aforementioned spat. The take-away is hold your friends close, your enemies closer, and your cookies closer yet.

We might ask about what others are thankful for. I wonder about what the 5,200 troops on our border might, or might not, be thankful for. I wonder about what our president, Donald Trump , is thankful for. Trump thanks Saudis, we are told. OK, but for what?

In the Daily Star, the AP reports that Trump thanks Saudis after defying calls to punish prince. Trump thanks them for lower oil prices.

President Trump publicly thanked Saudi Arabia for plunging oil prices just a day after he was harshly criticized for deciding not to further punish the kingdom for the killing of U.S.-based columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Trump, who made clear in an exclamation-filled statement on Tuesday that he feels that the benefits of good relations with the kingdom outweigh the possibility its crown prince ordered the killing, tweeted on Wednesday that it’s “Great!” that oil prices are falling.

I think I know one person who will not be celebrating Thanksgiving. That would be the dead guy murdered by the Saudi hit squad, Jamal Khashoggi. Thank you mister president for making our moral compass plain for all to see.

“Thank you to Saudi Arabia, but let’s go lower!” he wrote from his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, where he’s spending Thanksgiving.

Really? Can Trump “go lower”?

It’s important to know what we are thankful for and for what we are not thankful for - and should not be thankful for. I am not thankful for a president who accepts the murder of a journalist as the price of doing business.

Troops stringing wire reflects Trump's political stuntsmanship

Nicholaikirche
Nicholaikirche, Leipzig, where
Bach served as music director

In 1980, the Scribers attended the meeting of the International Congress of Psychology in Leipzig (then), East Germany. The meeting marked the centennial of the founding of the first laboratory of experimental psychology by Wilhelm Wundt. It was a fine cultural experience; how can you top getting a private concert in the Nikolaikirche which dates to the 1100s and at which J. S. Bach was music director. It was also depressing. We spent a week in an Iron Curtain country. At our departure point, we crossed a ditch lined with concrete and filled with concertina wire. It stretched as far as we could see.

I trouble you with this piece of personal history because I realized that the fortification was not to keep Westerners out; it was to keep the Easterners in.

Stringing Concertina wire
Troops string concertina wire:
Keeping 'them' out or us in?

So it is with all fences. So it is with the deployment of 5,200 combat soldiers to fortify our own border with Mexico by stringing concertina wire. Trump’s border wall is intended to keep the “them” out. But it could be repurposed in an instant by a tyrant to keep us in thus denying us our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

The Tucson Sentinel reports on the troops, the wire, and what this is really about in Experts urge troop withdrawal; DHS repeats need to ‘harden’ border. Excerpts follow.

National security experts and former military officials called on the administration to bring active-duty troops home from the border for Thanksgiving and end what they called a “needless” and politically motivated deployment.

“Exactly as predicted, this deployment of thousands of U.S. troops to our southern border has turned out to be nothing more than what I would call a political stunt,” said Ned Price, director of policy and communications at National Security Action and a former special assistant to President Barack Obama.

The call to withdraw troops came as the Department of Homeland Security reiterated what it called the need to “harden” ports of entry against an exodus of Central American immigrants now headed to the border, a number DHS officials said could now be as high as 10,500 people.

But on a conference call hosted Monday by immigration reform group America’s Voice, advocates and experts said the threats posed by a caravan of Central American migrants had been ginned up for political purposes.

“It’s estimated this deployment could cost hundreds of millions of dollars, while also separating our service members from their families during the holiday period for absolutely no valid reason. But the costs to America’s reputation are just as high,” Price said.

Retired Maj. Gen. Peter S. Cook called the deployment “extremely unwise” and an unnecessary burden on soldiers that “does affect our national security significantly for many reasons.”

“Somebody needs to speak out for their overall welfare,” Cook said. “It goes against every decision-making process and matrix that we’ve been taught in the military.”

Price said he hopes troops sent to the border will not be forgotten as they spend Thanksgiving away from home.

“The caravan was the stuff of headlines for weeks prior to the election when President Trump and his allies in Congress were talking about it,” Price said. “Now that they are virtually silent on it, I certainly hope that the plights and the hardships that have been required by the administration of our men and women in uniform will be covered with equal intensity.”

Best wishes to those 5,200 troops and our hopes for a speedy return to their homes and families.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

'Lock her up' - Trump's obsessions with his enemies are responsible for his abuse of power

In its Tuesday email briefing, the NY Times reports on one instance of Trump’s abuse of power. He is obsessed with Hillary Clinton and James Comey, so much so that he tried, and may be still trying, to get DOJ to persecute prosecute them.

President Trump wanted to order the Justice Department to prosecute Hillary Clinton and James Comey in April, our journalists learned, but the White House counsel warned him the move could lead to impeachment.

The encounter was one of the most blatant examples yet of how Mr. Trump views the typically independent Justice Department as a tool to be wielded against his political enemies.

The episode has taken on significance as Donald McGahn, the White House counsel, left his post and Mr. Trump appointed a relatively inexperienced political loyalist, Matthew Whitaker, as his acting attorney general.

The president has continued to privately discuss the matter, we learned, including the possible appointment of a second special counsel to investigate Mrs. Clinton, above, and Mr. Comey, the former F.B.I. director.

Read more in Trump Wanted to Order Justice Dept. to Prosecute Comey and Clinton. For example:

Perhaps more than any president since Richard M. Nixon, Mr. Trump has been accused of trying to exploit his authority over law enforcement. Witnesses have told the special counsel’s investigators about how Mr. Trump tried to end an investigation into an aide, install loyalists to oversee the inquiry into his campaign and fire Mr. Mueller.

In addition, Mr. Trump has attacked the integrity of Justice Department officials, claiming they are on a “witch hunt” to bring him down.

Mr. Trump’s frustrations about Mr. Comey and Mrs. Clinton were a recurring refrain, a former White House official said. “Why aren’t they going after” them?, the president would ask of Justice Department officials.

Another instance of Trump’s abuse of power, IMO, is his appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting AG. The constitutionality of that appointment is winding its way through the courts with law suits brought by the state of Maryland and, separately, on behalf of three U. S. Senators. One charge is that the appointment bypasses the constitutional requirement for senatorial advise and consent. Read lots more from AZBlueMeanie at Blog for Arizona: Legal challenges to Matthew Whitaker appointment now before the Supreme Court.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

China is 'most significant rival' to U. S.

Because of first hand knowledge, from travels of Mr. and Mrs. Scriber, I’ve been worried about China’s expansive approach to its global influence, for example in Africa and South America. Simultaneously, reports NY Times, China has made amazing advances what it is doing domestically.

In its Monday evening briefing, the NY Times asks “Is China just hitting its stride?”

In a special series of articles, The Times is examining how an isolated, impoverished backwater evolved into the most significant rival to the U.S. since the fall of the Soviet Union.

China leads the world in homeowners, internet users, college graduates and, by some counts, billionaires. Extreme poverty has fallen from three-quarters of the population in 1984 to less than 1 percent today.

China has risen so quickly that an 18-year-old’s chances at upward mobility today vastly exceed those of his or her U.S. counterparts. Eight hundred million people in China have been lifted out of poverty since 1990, and per capita income grew by 500 percent from 1980 to 2014.

And China’s walled-off internet, widely predicted to fail, has instead thrived.

China is doing all this while our great leader snipes, snarks, and shifts blame to everyone other than himself. The best he can do for our country, it seems, is to tweet an adolescent joke about the incoming House committee chair, Adam Schiff. (Trump, “misspelled” it as “AdamSchitt”.) The networks won’t say that but I sure as hell will.

Election update for Nov. 20 - AZ LD28 Senate race still a squeaker

My reporting started with 0630, Saturday, Nov 10. Here are comments as of 6:45 AM, Tuesday, Nov 20.

I signed off on all the races I’ve been tracking except for one, and that is the AZ LD28 Senate race.

Kate Brophy McGee leads her Democratic challenger, Christine Porter Marsh, by 267, down from 347 yesterday. I had hoped, given enough time and enough ballots, Marsh might take this one. Marsh is Arizona’s 2016 Teacher of the year. It’s not looking good, I admit, because the difference no mater how small continues in favor of Brophy McGee.

New Mississippi vs. Old Mississippi - a special election for a U. S. Senate seat will provide an answer

This is a story of how Mississippians define “good heart” and how they reconcile that value judgment with racist rhetoric. How they settle that might determine the balance of power in the U. S. Senate. At least it will determine the size of the Senate majority.

Incumbent Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) is running against Mike Espy (D), an African American former congressman. In the regular election “Hyde-Smith finished with 41.5% of the vote, to Espy’s 40.6%. Because neither candidate reached the 50% threshold, there will be a special election on Nov. 27”, now less than a week away.

Last week Steve Benen (MSNBC/MaddowBlog) reported that a Republican senator’s provocative ‘jokes’ jolt key US Senate race. (Scriber notes: Benen’s post was published last week, Nov. 16, so adjust the date references accordingly.)

When putting together a list of key U.S. Senate races in 2018, few included the special election in Mississippi. It’s a state where Donald Trump won his election by 18 points, and where Republicans tend to dominate.

But in this year’s final major contest, election watchers suddenly have a reason to keep an eye on the Magnolia State.

It was earlier this week that we learned about comments from incumbent Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R), who recently joked about attending “a public hanging.” Given the state’s history, and the fact that she’s running against Mike Espy (D), an African American former congressman, the Republican’s comments struck a dissonant note.

Yesterday, the story took another unsettling turn.

A video surfaced Thursday of Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi saying it might be a “great idea” to make it harder for some people to vote, and her campaign quickly responded that she was “obviously” joking.

Hyde-Smith, who is in a runoff against Democrat Mike Espy on Nov. 27, made the remark at a campaign stop in Starkville, Mississippi, on Nov. 3. It was posted to Twitter on Thursday by Lamar White Jr., publisher of The Bayou Brief. Smith earlier this week posted video of Hyde-Smith making a comment on Nov. 2 about a “public hanging” that started a controversy.

“And then they remind me that there’s a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who … maybe we don’t want to vote,” Hyde-Smith is heard saying. “Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that’s a great idea.”

In a Twitter message posted late yesterday, the GOP senator wrote, “It’s ok to still have a sense of humor in America isn’t it?”

Of course, while having a sense of humor is a good idea, it’s also a good idea for political leaders in a state with a troubled history on race to avoid “jokes” about public hangings and deliberately making it harder for certain people to vote.

A spokesperson for Mike Espy’s campaign called Hyde-Smith a “walking stereotype who embarrasses our state,” adding, “For a state like Mississippi, where voting rights were obtained through sweat and blood, everyone should appreciate that this is not a laughing matter.”

I’ll leave it to local experts to say whether, and to what degree, this might affect the upcoming election, but at a distance, there’s reason to believe the race may be more competitive than many first assumed.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee launched a television ad campaign in the state this week, and if Hyde-Smith was a shoo-in, the party probably wouldn’t have bothered. The White House, meanwhile, is reportedly weighing a possible presidential pre-election visit to Mississippi.

The Republican senator launched a new ad of her own this week, and one of the first names mentioned in the commercial is financier George Soros – which is hardly evidence of a candidate confident about her chances of success.

Last week, in a multi-candidate field, Hyde-Smith finished with 41.5% of the vote, to Espy’s 40.6%. Because neither candidate reached the 50% threshold, there will be a special election on Nov. 27, which is just 11 days away.

The two candidates are also scheduled to participate in a debate on Nov. 20.

That would be today. I should have more on this tomorrow.

Related posts

Judd Legum (popular.info) reported that After lynching comments, Hyde-Smith accepts $2700 contribution from notorious racist. Just today Legum provides a chronology of how Hyde-Smith goes off the rails. He reports on who donated what to Hyde-Smith’s campaign, who is trying to claw back their donation, and who is letting their donation ride. Take a guess as to what Walmart did and is doing. Take another guess as to what Trumpy is doing about Hyde-Smith. Aw heck, I’ll clue you in about what the Tweety bird in the WH is doing. Here is part of the post from Legum.

A couple of campaign events on Hyde-Smith’s schedule are two campaign rallies with Trump on November 26, the day before the election.

Donald J. Trump
@realDonaldTrump
.@cindyhydesmith loves Mississippi and our Great U.S.A. https://t.co/hQPC4CrhDi
Official Team Trump@TeamTrump
Join President Trump in BILOXI, MS! GET YOUR FREE TICKETS: https://t.co/A63BD4ocXD #MAGA #Trump #Mississippi #Biloxi #MS #MAGARally #TeamTrump
November 19 2018

A Super PAC aligned with Trump, America First Action, is also unleashing $300,000 in advertisements in support of Hyde-Smith. The ads will tout “the president’s endorsement of Hyde-Smith and her record of voting in lockstep with his priorities since her April appointment to replace Sen. Thad Cochran.”

The ads feature a quote from Trump at a rally earlier this year. “Cindy has voted with me 100 percent of the time. She’s always had my back… A vote for Cindy is a vote for me and ‘Make America Great Again.’”

Democrats are spending more conservatively in support of Espy, apparently believing he is still a longshot. “The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) hasn’t reported making any independent expenditures in the race all year, and nor has the Mississippi Democratic Party,” Sludge reports.

Espy is getting some outside assistance from the Senate Majority PAC but overall “outside groups backing Espy had reported spending $527,000 on independent expenditures since Nov. 8, far less than the nearly $2.7 million spent in support of Hyde-Smith.”

Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) have appeared in Mississippi over the last few days in support of Espy.

This is a very possible pickup for a U. S. Senate, so I hope that the DSCC gets on board fast.

Remember how I claimed that the real story of the 2016 election was not so much about Trump as about the voters who supported him, who voted for him, that is, his “base”. If you have any lingering doubts, check out this one.

Daily Kos Staff writer Kelly Macias adds that Republicans love the Mississippi senator who joked about lynching because she’s got a ‘good heart’.

Republicans across the country have decided to double down on their support for Cindy Hyde-Smith, the U.S. senator from Mississippi who made a disgusting and racist remark about lynching on the campaign trail earlier this month. Hyde-Smith is running against Democrat Mike Espy, a black man, to keep the seat she was appointed to when former Senator Thad Cochran resigned. She was at a campaign event when she joked that she’d be on the “front row” of a “public hanging,” if one of her supporters (the very person who organized the event) were to invite her.

After receiving much backlash (after all, it’s a completely gross and inappropriate thing to say, especially given Mississippi’s history of lynching), Hyde-Smith refused to apologize. And her party is not only standing behind her; it’s decided to throw more money into the ongoing race, now moved into a runoff between Espy and Hyde-Smith that will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 27.

According to The Hill, Republicans are airing TV ads beginning on Thursday, as well as looking to bring in Donald Trump in order to get Hyde-Smith over the finish line and maintain their majority in the Senate. Of course, they are also gaslighting Mississippians by insisting that she’s a “good person,” even though we know perfectly well what kind of person would say this sort of thing. At a press conference on Monday, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant said this:

“I could tell you all of us in public life have said things on occasion that we could’ve phrased better,” Bryant said. “But I know this woman, I know her heart and I knew it when I appointed her. I know it now. She meant no offense by that statement. There was nothing in her heart of ill-will.”

It’s impossible to count how often someone says something offensive and racist and refuses to apologize for it, hiding behind the “But I’m a good person” defense. It’s not only old, it also adds insult to injury. Hyde-Smith could have owned up to her mistake, which would be the right thing to do. But today’s Republicans love nothing more than to dig their heels in and show the world that they aren’t about to back down and that they aren’t afraid to go lower than we ever thought they could.

Meanwhile, a political action committee called PowerPACPlus has released a video in support of Espy showing Hyde-Smith’s comments in the context of how white crowds used to gather to watch black bodies get killed in “public hangings.” The (Jackson, Mississippi) Clarion Ledger notes that even Mike Espy’s campaign called the ad divisive, as it shows Hyde-Smith’s face “superimposed into an old photo of a white crowd attending the lynching of two black men.” The video has had more than 100,000 views so far. It is jarring, but it does remind us of the brutal legacy that Hyde-Smith’s comments evoked, considering that more blacks were lynched in Mississippi from 1882 to 1968 than in any other state in the nation.

Democrats are also investing some money in the race, hoping that Espy will become the first Democrat elected to the Senate in Mississippi since 1982. But it’s hard to predict what will happen in this election and which way it will go. Democrats are hoping that Hyde-Smith’s comments will mobilize turnout among black Mississippians, who make up 38 percent of the state’s population. As for the Republicans, they are also worried about turnout, given voter fatigue with this election cycle. They are less worried about Hyde-Smith’s comments being the reason why Republicans wouldn’t come out to support her. And they are likely right. To paraphrase Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Andrew Gillum, Cindy Hyde-Smith may not be a racist (though she said something extremely racist and insensitive), but the racists probably think she’s a racist. And racists vote. So they are probably thrilled with her comments and her refusal to back down. And they’d love nothing more than to support her and her party as they try to hold on to the Senate.

Let’s hope Mike Espy wins this thing. More racist Republicans in the Senate (or anywhere else) is exactly what we don’t need.

Amen.

Monday, November 19, 2018

2018 Election update for Nov. 19

My reporting started with 0630, Saturday, Nov 10. Here are comments as of 8:20 AM, Monday, Nov 19.

I’m signing off on all the races I’ve been tracking except for one, and that is the AZ LD28 Senate race.
Kate Brophy McGee leads her Democratic challenger, Christine Porter Marsh, by 347. I had hoped, given enough time and enough ballots, Marsh might take this one. Marsh is Arizona’s 2016 Teacher of the year. It’s not looking good.

All the others seem solid. Sinema will be sworn in as a U. S. Senator as will Ann Kirkpatrick as CZD2 Rep. Katie Hobbs is the declared winner for AZ Secretary of State. Kathy Hoffman will be the new Superintendent of Public Instruction. Sandra Kennedy won a seat on the AZ Corporation Commission. Here in LD2, Dalessandro, Gabaldon, and Hernandez will go back to the state legislature.

Mournday Mourning Illustrated Gnus - while Trump fiddles ...

GOP makes voting easy
Making it easy to vote
and hard to cheat.

Here are the schemes, themes, memes, and falemes in the weekly Illustrated Gnus from the AZBlueMeanie at Blog for Arizona.

  • "We want it to be easy to vote and we want it to be hard to cheat.” - AZ Republican Gov. Doug Ducey. Is he quitting the GOP?
  • After denying Obama his SCOTUS pick, McConnell wants drop partisanship and work with Dems? Will the Dems buy into that bridge to nowhere?
  • Why Trump dissed vets: maybe he likes heroes who weren’t killed?
  • What a difference 100 years makes. “Over there” vs. Trump’s hair.
  • In a desperate attempt to suppress the Latino vote, Trump deploys 5200 combat-ready troops to the border.
  • Or maybe it was just another production from Trump studios (formerly known as the White House).
  • Overheard: Commenting on their readiness at the border, one soldier to another - “I feel like a damn fool.”
  • Trump builds wall around the White House - to keep Jim Acosta out.
  • Ronald Reagan’s Ghost: “Mr. Trump, tear down this wall.”
  • Trump won’t fire Mueller. But Melania? Hmmm.
  • Speaking of fire, Trump blames California fires on “poor management.” As Trump heads to California, climate experts wary of adding a fool to the fire.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

2018 election update for Nov. 18. Hobbs declared SoS winner.

Updated voting numbers

My reporting started with 0630, Saturday, Nov 10. Here are new results as of 6:00 AM, Sunday, Nov 18.

Numbers flagged with “+” favor Democrats. Numbers flagged with “-” favor Republicans.

I’m carrying forward previous results so you can track trends. For example, yesterday Sinema was beating McSally by 49,318 votes. This morning it stands at 53,676.

Observations

Of note: As of last night (this morning), Katie Hobbs kept her lead for SoS with a 18,373 vote advantage; her previous high - yesterday - was 15,025! Hobbs is the winner.

See this post at Blog for Arizona by AZBlueMeanie: Katie Hobbs elected Secretary of State. Gaynor conceded.

Also of note: In the AZ LD28 Senate race Kate Brophy McGee led her Democratic challenger, Christine Porter Marsh, by only 284; but that was yesterday. Brophy McGee now widened the lead to 347. I had hoped, given enough time and enough ballots, Marsh might take this one. Marsh is Arizona’s 2016 Teacher of the year. It’s not looking good. But, as AZBlueMeanie notes, there are still 60K ballots to count in Maricopa and 7K in Pima.

For the two seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission, Sandra Kennedy (D) leads the next highest vote getter, Justin Olson (R), by 21,469, Both Kennedy and Olson beat Rodney Glassman who withdrew.

The good news
US Senate, Sinema vs. McSally: +20,102 +29,832 +32,169 + 38,197 +38,075 +39,505 +46,783 +49,318 +53,676
US House, Kirkpatrick vs. Marquez-Peterson, +19,584 +22,563 +22,563 +24,768 +24,718 +24,718 +27072 +27,072 +27,917
AZ SoS, Hobbs vs. Gaynor, –10,696 –2,008 –424 +5,667 +4,957 +5,916 +13,171 +15,025 +18,373
AZ Corp Com, Sandra Kennedy vs. Olson n/a +4,642 +5,575 +10,473 +10,126 +10,960 +16,642 +18,458 + 21,469
AZ Sup/Public Instruction, Hoffman +31,809 +43,563 + 46,721 +54,057 +53,780 +55,102 +62,638 +65,171, +69,558
AZ LD2 numbers are either not changing or increasing for Dems so I’m calling it.
AZ LD2 Senate, Dalessandro over Kais.
AZ LD2 House, Gabaldon and Hernandez beat Ackerley and Sizer.

Some of the not-so-good news
CD8, voucher queen Lesko leads Tipirneni, –29,455 –30,219 –37,518 –30,887 –31,374 +31,806 –32,279 –32,540, –33,071
LD28 Senate, Kate Brophy McGee leads but not by much –616 –617 –643 –549 –536 –472 –380 –284 –347

Saturday, November 17, 2018

2018 election update for Nov. 17 - Hobbs wins SoS race

Updated voting numbers

My reporting started with 0630, Saturday, Nov 10. Here are new results as of 7:00 AM, Saturday, Nov 17.

Numbers flagged with “+” favor Democrats. Numbers flagged with “-” favor Republicans.

I’m carrying forward previous results so you can track trends. For example, yesterday Sinema was beating McSally by 46,783 votes. his morning it stands at 49,318

Observations

Of note: As of last night (this morning), Katie Hobbs kept her lead for SoS with a 15,025 vote advantage; her previous high - yesterday - was 13,171! Hobbs is the winner. Gov. Ducey called this one. More on that below.

Also of note: In the AZ LD28 Senate race Kate Brophy McGee now leads her Democratic challenger, Christine Porter Marsh, by only 284. Given enough time and enough ballots, Marsh might take this one. Marsh is Arizona’s 2016 Teacher of the year.

The good news
US Senate, Sinema vs. McSally: +20,102 +29,832 +32,169 + 38,197 +38,075 +39,505 +46,783 +46,783
US House, Kirkpatrick vs. Marquez-Peterson, +19,584 +22,563 +22,563 +24,768 +24,718 +24,718 +27072 +27,072
AZ SoS, Hobbs vs. Gaynor, –10,696 –2,008 –424 +5,667 +4,957 +5,916 +13,171 +15,025
AZ Corp Com, Sandra Kennedy vs. Glassman, +1,602 +8,517 +9,747 +14,782 +14,461 +15,360 +21,023 +22,970
AZ Corp Com, Sandra Kennedy vs. vs. Olson n/a +4,642 +5,575 +10,473 +10,126 +10,960 +16,642 +18,458
AZ Sup/Public Instruction, Hoffman +31,809 +43,563 + 46,721 +54,057 +53,780 +55,102 +62,638 +65,171
AZ LD2 numbers are not changing so I’m calling it.
AZ LD2 Senate, Dalessandro over Kais.
AZ LD2 House, Gabaldon and Hernandez beat Ackerley and Sizer.

Some of the not-so-good news
CD8, voucher queen Lesko leads Tipirneni, –29,455 –30,219 –37,518 –30,887 –31,374 +31,806 –32,279 –32,540
LD28 Senate, Kate Brophy McGee leads but not by much –616 –617 –643 –549 –536 +472 +380 +284
LD11, Holly Lyon is still way behind, trailing each of the R candidates by about 10K.

Post-election blues

Ducey calls the secretary of state race for Democrat Katie Hobbs.

Steve Gaynor hasn’t formally conceded in the secretary of state’s race, but Gov. Doug Ducey said Friday he has congratulated Democrat Katie Hobbs for winning.

Ducey said he concluded there is no way Gaynor, a fellow Republican, can overtake Hobbs in the vote count.

“I said, ‘Congratulations, a race well run, and I’m looking forward to working with you, I think we can work well together,’” Ducey said.

His decision to effectively call the race for Hobbs came even before the latest vote tally was released Friday night.

It showed her increasing her lead over Gaynor since Thursday by close to 2,000 votes. She now leads the race by more than 15,000 votes out of nearly 2.3 million ballots already counted.

There are about 67,000 ballots left to be counted.

That includes 60,000 from Maricopa County, where Hobbs is slightly outpolling Gaynor. The balance are from Pima County, which has provided three votes for Hobbs for every two for Gaynor.

Of course, Arizona GOP launches ‘audit’ of election practices by Maricopa County recorder. There is nothing independent about this, and it’s only an “audit” to those who are smoking something weird.

Alleging voting “irregularities,” the state Republican Party is launching its own “independent audit” of practices by Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes — aided by a law firm that represents the party.

In a news release Friday, party Chairman Jonathan Lines said the investigation will focus on “allegations of fraud in the election.”

Lines provided no examples, however. In fact, he said the plan is to have attorney Stephen Richer, chosen by the party as the auditor, set up a website for people to submit information.

The GOP inquiry also will go into the decision by Fontes, a Democrat, to open “emergency voting centers” on the Saturday and Monday before the Nov. 6 election. Lines has questioned the legality of such centers, even though they have been operated before by Republican recorders and are used in multiple counties.

You gotta wonder how many lines this Lines guy has been sniffing. Even Ducey wants no part of this.

Ducey sought to distance himself Friday from Lines’ allegations and audit. “The election’s over, the people have spoken,” he said.

As to the election process, he said it can be good to examine it regularly. “I always want, and I’ve said many times before, that we can improve, we can reform,” the governor said. “We want it to be easy to vote and we want it to be hard to cheat.”

But Ducey threw cold water on the idea of having that driven by a party-led probe.

“Those are issues that can be handled in a legislative session or after the calendar turns,” he said.

'Decorum at the White House' - LOL

From the NY Times Friday evening briefing:

A federal judge on Friday ordered the White House to restore credentials to Jim Acosta, who was barred last week after a testy exchange with President Trump at a news conference.

The ruling was narrow, the judge said. “I have not determined that the First Amendment was violated here,” he said. But that and other legal issues could be addressed in court at a later date.

The White House press secretary said the administration would temporarily reinstate Mr. Acosta, above, and would “develop rules and processes to ensure fair and orderly news conferences.”

“There must be decorum at the White House,” she wrote.

LOL? Oh, hell no. Let’s call this one ROFL.

For more, see CNN’s Jim Acosta Returns to the White House After Judge’s Ruling.

Friday, November 16, 2018

2018 election update for Nov. 16

Updated voting numbers

My reporting started with 0630, Saturday, Nov 10. Here are new results as of 5:30 AM, Friday, Nov 16.

Numbers flagged with “+” favor Democrats. Numbers flagged with “-” favor Republicans.

I’m carrying forward previous results so you can track trends. For example, yesterday Sinema was beating McSally by 39,505 votes. his morning it stands at 46,783.

Observations
The numbers I report here may be close to the final results. Or maybe not. As of last night (this morning), Sinema widened her lead yet more to 46,783 votes – the largest difference of that race.

Of note: As of last night (this morning), Katie Hobbs kept her lead for SoS with a 13,171 vote advantage; her previous high was 5,916! I was ready yesterday to call this one but the analysis of remaining ballots suggested caution. Caution, schmaution. It sure looks like Hobbs got it.

Also of note: In the AZ LD28 Senate race Kate Brophy McGee now leads her Democratic challenger, Christine Porter Marsh, by only 380. Given enough time and enough ballots, Marsh might take this one. Marsh is Arizona’s 2016 Teacher of the year.

From Steve Farley at 930pm 11/15 (Thursday) Update: (h/t Myra Christeck)

Total remaining ballots to be counted in the state are 85,000 in Maricopa, 7,000 in Pima, and 265 in Yuma. The only remaining race that can change is LD28 Senate, so all eyes will be there in the coming days.

Meanwhile, it looks like Democrat Katie Hobbs is going to be our Next Secretary of State – she now has a 13,171-vote lead with 92K ballots left to count, all from counties that have favored her. Congrats, Katie! I am so happy for you and Kyrsten and Kathy and Sandra and us all!

The good news
US Senate, Sinema vs. McSally: +20,102 +29,832 +32,169 + 38,197 +38,075 +39,505 +46,783
US House, Kirkpatrick vs. Marquez-Peterson, +19,584 +22,563 +22,563 +24,768 +24,718 +24,718 +27072
AZ SoS, Hobbs vs. Gaynor, –10,696 –2,008 –424 +5,667 +4,957 +5,916 +13,171
AZ Corp Com, Sandra Kennedy vs. Glassman, +1,602 +8,517 +9,747 +14,782 +14,461 +15,360 +21,023
AZ Corp Com, Sandra Kennedy vs. vs. Olson n/a +4,642 +5,575 +10,473 +10,126 +10,960 +16,642
AZ Sup/Public Instruction, Hoffman +31,809 +43,563 + 46,721 +54,057 +53,780 +55,102 +62,638
AZ LD2 Senate, Dalessandro +9,494 +10,349 +10,349 +10,913 +10,913 +10,913 +11,843
AZ LD2 House, Gabaldon beats Ackerley +6,930 +7,532 +7,532 +7,879 +7,879 +7,879 +8,488
AZ LD2 Hernandez beats Sizer +7,114 +7,813 +7,813 +8,255 +8,255 +8,255 +8,985

Some of the not-so-good news
CD8, voucher queen Lesko leads Tipirneni, –29,455 –30,219 –37,518 –30,887 –31,374 +31,806 –32,279
LD28 Senate, Kate Brophy McGee leads but not by much –616 –617 –643 –549 –536 +472 +380
LD11, Holly Lyon is still way behind, trailing each of the R candidates by about 10K.

'Democrats are invigorated.' GOP does nothing but claim, without grounds, 'Democrats are stealing this erection.'

Those quotes (without the misspelling), are from the Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) review of the election, Election Day starts weeks of political theater in AZ.

Arizona’s 2018 election cycle didn’t end on Election Day.

Republican leads in close races on November 6 vanished as county recorders counted ballots in the days after, and Republicans turned to attacking Arizona’s electoral process, making unfounded claims of vote rigging.

Anybody who thought talk of the elections would simmer down after the polls closed on November 6 was quickly proven wrong as Democratic victories in federal, statewide and legislative races became apparent, shaking up an already contentious election cycle.

As Democrats turned the tide, enough to take the lead in key statewide and legislative races, along came calls of voter fraud and election-snafus from some Arizona Republicans and national GOP figures. Kory Langhofer, an attorney for the state Republican Party, said at a press conference November 9 that “the Democrats are stealing this election, and we’re not going to allow it.”

So what can the GOPlins do? Practice some psychological projection, I guess.

On November 15, state GOP Chairman Jonathan Lines announced he hired a local attorney to conduct an “audit” of the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office, though the announcement doesn’t mention the fact that there’s nothing requiring the Recorder’s Office to comply. Republican Party officials will also launch a website to field complaints about the voting process as part of their outside investigation.

And then, of course, the sore-loser-in-chief does his best to further divide the nation.

President Donald Trump added to local claims of impropriety shaping Arizona’s elections, though he, too, did not provide any evidence of wrongdoing.

“Just out–in Arizona, SIGNATURES DON’T MATCH,” he tweeted on the same day Langhofer made his claims. “Electoral corruption–Call for a new Election? We must protect our Democracy!”

He made similar unfounded accusations against election officials in Florida, tweeting on November 10, “Trying to STEAL two big elections in Florida! We are watching closely!”

There is some irony in Trump’s displeasure with the outcome of Arizona’s elections, in particular the U.S. Senate race.

Sen. Jeff Flake opened the door to that contest when he opted not to run for re-election. The president celebrated the decision, mocking Flake with whom he often clashed. Trump tweeted on the day Flake announced his decision that he had “zero chance of being elected” anyway, and has continued denigrating him on social media as weak and unelectable.

But Trump may now get more out of his public feud with Flake than he ever bargained for.

The president’s preferred successor for Flake’s seat, Republican Martha McSally, lost the election to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema. And while Sinema has said she’s willing to buck her party and work with Republicans, she’s not likely to win over Trump any more than Flake did.

My hunch is that Sinema will do that until she gets treated to Trumpian dishonesty just like what Trump did to renege on an immigration deal with Pelosi and Schumer.

The early returns were disappointing to Dems and the Associated Press prematurely called some of the races. They had to back off as more and more ballots came in (and are still coming in) favoring the Dem candidates.

It might be useful to figure out what will be in the Republican play book for the 2020 election. How about the increased deficit? How about stagnant wages? How about tax breaks promised but not delivered? How about repeated attempts to take away your health insurance? How about ripping kids from their moms? How about rampant corruption in Trump’s cabinet? And how about his thousands and thousands of lies - about everything? That’s the short list I freely offer to the GOPlins.

IMO, better policies, better messaging, and harder work won the day for Dems.

Arizona Democratic Party Chairwoman Felecia Rotellini called this election the tipping point for Democrats.

This election was a culmination of an unprecedented Democratic field program – 4,000 volunteers knocked on 1 million doors – the excitement of possibly electing a Democratic senator and a wealth of unique Democratic candidates up and down the ballot, she said.

“We saw early on that everything, the polling, the fact that Hillary [Clinton] only lost by 4 percent in 2016, all eyes were on Arizona with respect to really elect Democrats up and down the ballot,” Rotellini said.

With Arizona U.S. Senate contests looming in 2020, 2022 and 2024, Democrats are invigorated.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Breathtaking Hipocrisy

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

There are many things to be upset about in today’s world, especially in the political arena. What probably gets my blood boiling quickest though, is the unadulterated hypocrisy I see coming from the Right.

According to the Arizona Capitol Times, AZ House Speaker Mesnard recently criticized Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes for his opening of certain Emergency Early Voting Centers during the General Election. He accused Fontes of selectively choosing where to open these centers and said, “those type of ‘shenanigans’ foster doubt in the public about the integrity of our election system.” Mesnard added that “And I cannot think of a more dangerous reality than people questioning the integrity of an election system.”

Okay, maybe he really does believe this. It is of course, something that any patriotic American should be worried about. Even if he does believe it though, his party and foremost, its leader (President Trump), has been stoking this “dangerous reality” ad-nauseam. And, the Arizona Republican Party recently jumped on his bandwagon with unfounded claims of deliberate election fraud by the Democrats.

At the same time, GOP Congressman Andy Biggs published an op-ed in the Daily Caller titled, “Democrats have a Civility Problem to Fix.” How about this Andy, you guys go first. I mean REALLY, the audacity! I find it beyond the pale that Biggs is lecturing Democrats about civil discourse. After all, his party’s fearless leader has been a master at fomenting hatred and polarization. In 2017, Trump’s first year in office, the FBI reports hate crimes alone were up by 17%.

In his piece, Biggs criticizes Congresswoman Maxine Waters for “incit[ing] criminal conduct by promoting harassment and intimidation of Republicans, conservatives, and Trump supporters. Okay, there may be some truth to his criticism, but she only responded to President Trump calling her “crazy”, “one of the most corrupt people in politics” and of being a “low IQ individual…somewhere in the mid–60s.” No, his attacks do not excuse her of any bad behavior, but let’s not act like she drew first blood. And oh by the way, what she actually said, was “If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd” she followed later on MSNBC with a prediction that people are “going to protest, they are going to absolutely harass” Trump staffers. None of that sounds like “destruction in American politics. Especially not, in comparison to the incendiary comments and Tweets routinely coming out of the Oval Office. How’s about Biggs and his Congressional colleagues do their job as a co-equal branch of our government and act as a check on the worst impulses of this Commander-in-Chief?

Congressman Biggs goes on to write that, “I suspect we will continue to see masked domestic terrorists commit crimes against conservatives and reprehensible conduct toward conservatives.” I assume he is referring to the Antifa protestors who wore scarves on their faces, but I can’t recall any actual terrorism they perpetrated. I do however, remember James Alex Fields, the white nationalist who ran down Heather Heyer, at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. Heather was one of the counter-protestors carrying signs promoting equality and protesting against racial discrimination, hardly the stuff of domestic terrorists. I also remember Cesar Sayoc, an early and impassioned Trump supporter, who mailed pipe bombs to numerous prominent Democrats and news organizations who had been critical of President Trump (their constitutional right as American citizens). And, I remember Robert Bowers, the white nationalist who killed 11 worshippers in a Jewish synagogue. Bowers is an anti-Semite who wrote on his social media page about his stark opposition to immigrants, especially the migrant caravan President Trump has been scaring everyone with (and now post-election, has gone silent about). Are these maybe the incidents of domestic terrorism Biggs is referring to?

I do agree with Biggs’ statement that there are “destructive ironies in American politics today, and they must be corrected before the foundations of our Republic collapse.” But, I suspect the ironies I see aren’t the same ones to which he refers. Rather, that people (especially those in Congress who have responsibility to care for our Nation and all its people), would march lock-step with this nationalistic (by his own claim) President and at the same time, pretend to hold the high ground. No side is totally blameless for the mess we currently find ourselves in. But, I think we have a better chance of finding our way out of it if each side just focuses on cleaning up their own piece of it before they resort to slinging mud across the aisle. What was that proverb about those living in glass houses?