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What’s he hiding?

What's he hiding?
by digby

I wrote about Trump putting his fingers in his ears and singling "la-la-la-la-la" whenever anyone in the government tries to bring up Russia for Salon this morning:

On Thursday the Washington Post published a long article about how Donald Trump is dealing with Russia as president. It wasn't exactly reassuring. The reason is not that he's poised to start a war, as he seems to be with North Korea, but that he's giving away the store to the other side. It's disturbing because Trump doesn't seem to be capable of even thinking about America's relationship with Russia like a president at all. He gets so upset by the investigation into election interference and his subsequent actions that intelligence briefers reportedly don't mention it as a priority, slipping it into the written material -- which he's said in the past he doesn't need to read -- or sliding it far down the list of items of concern to avoid provoking his ire.

The upshot is that the president isn't able to focus on relations with Russia at a time when it couldn't be more important to do so. Trump's insistence that there was no election interference has taken on the character of a bizarre fixation that is inhibiting the rest of the government from doing its job. And it seems nobody has a clue what to do about it.

The article is full of interesting details about the inner workings of Trump's national security team and how they deal with this mercurial boss. For instance, he once assumed his highly qualified Russia expert Fiona Hill (the co-author of a major biography of Vladimir Putin) was a clerical worker. Trump asked her to retype a memo, became angry when she seemed confused by the order and demanded that national security adviser H.R. McMaster reprimand her -- which, astonishingly, he did.

But then, none of that should be too surprising. Trump is no more respectful of world leaders with whom he doesn't feel that personal kinship. He reportedly got bored in the middle of a briefing about Angela Merkel and went into the bathroom, leaving the door open and telling his aides to speak up while he primped in front of the mirror. We all saw his refusal to shake Merkel's hand in front of the press, and this derisive tweet from a couple of years ago:

Donald J. Trump

I told you @TIME Magazine would never pick me as person of the year despite being the big favorite They picked person who is ruining Germany
5:53 AM - Dec 9, 2015
4,4294,429 Replies
Twitter Ads info and privacy

He apparently doesn't consider her an equal on a par with strongmen like Putin or China's Xi Jinping, to both of whom he shows a deference that verges on obsequiousness.

The article is a portrait of a man-child, so deeply over his head that you wonder if he isn't literally going to hold his breath until he turns blue before it's all over. In that sense it tracks with the recent New York Times article that depicted Trump tweeting from his pillow in the morning, wandering around in his bathrobe, drinking two six packs of Diet Coke and watching up to eight hours of cable news a day.

After reading both of these articles you get the sense that somebody in the White House has decided that the best defense against charges that Trump colluded with Russia is for people to believe that he behaves as he does because he's a narcissistic simpleton who can't deal with the fact that he didn't win the popular vote. While that description may be accurate, it doesn't let him off the hook.

The Post's reporters vaguely examine the possibility that there could be some blackmail material or kompromat hanging out there, or that Trump has some serious financial exposure somewhere in his past. But the article primarily relies on his aides' portrayal of him as someone who believes in the power of his personality to bond with Vladimir Putin, and believes that together they will solve the world's problems.

Furthermore, the authors seem to take at face value the assertion that Trump's insistence that the Russians played no part in the election is because "the idea that he’s been put into office by Vladi­mir Putin is pretty insulting.” Trump is essentially depicted as a juvenile egomaniac who lacks the capacity or imagination to have done anything as sophisticated as collude with a foreign country.

This is spin that I often see reporters and pundits regurgitate on TV, as if this can all be explained away by the proposition that Trump is a buffoon who is constantly frustrated by people saying he didn't really win. But this fails to account for all the sucking up he did toward Putin during in the campaign and his continued inability to say a bad word about him ever since. It's not as if Trump is usually at a loss for a well-timed insult.

It also fails to account for the fact that Trump has shown not even minimal interest in doing a "deal" with Russia that would benefit the United States. While he repeatedly insults our allies and crudely demands that they pay protection in return for the U.S. living up to its treaties and commitments, he asked for nothing from Putin in return for lifting sanctions and putting up barriers to NATO expansion, other than a vague promise that everyone "gets along."

The idea that Putin is the only man on earth Trump sees as a partner in bringing peace on earth just doesn't pass the smell test. That the self-anointed master negotiator has not seized the opportunity to use the knowledge we have about election interference as a bargaining chip, and instead seems inclined to grant Putin his wish list for nothing in return, does not give one much confidence.

Trump lies about everything, so there is no reason to take him at his word on any of this. Of course he is upset about the Russia investigation and of course it bothers him that people might think he didn't legitimately win the election. But it's hardly likely that he behaves this way because he's an innocent man. In fact, it's ludicrous. Everything we know about him suggests the opposite.

Whether it's about Trump's past financial exposure or the rumored salacious kompromat or some agreement over dirt on Hillary Clinton or a big hotel deal, there is definitely more to this. He doesn't act like a man who has been unjustly accused. He acts like a man who's hiding something and thinks if he blusters and blames he can hide his guilt from his staff and even from himself. He can't.


This is your government on Trump by @BloggersRUs

This is your government on Trump

by Tom Sullivan

The FCC voted yesterday to turn over the flow of Internet traffic to commercial entities the day after traffic "into and out of Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and other companies" was, suspiciously and intentionally, redirected through a Russian node. The FCC vote was 3 to 2 along party lines, with Republicans in the majority. The FCC ignored an unprecedented number of public comments, millions of which appeared fraudulent.

Daily Beast adds:

Under the new rules, companies like Comcast could slow access to competitors, effectively making sites aligned with the company—or ones who pay their way out of slow lanes—appear to load faster. Over 56 million American households have no choice in internet service providers in their area, leaving them potentially tethered to an artificially slow internet under the new rules.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman vowed to sue to block the new policy. Schneiderman and other state attorneys general and members of Congress argued that the decision should be delayed because the public comment process had been hijacked.

The president's son inveighed against the naysayers in a tweet:

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai was appointed by Junior's father.

AppleInsider reports on that Wednesday Russian hack:

The incident involved the Border Gateway Protocol, or BGP, which funnels high-level traffic through nodes like internet backbones, according to Ars Technica, citing reports by monitoring services BGPMon and Qrator Labs. BGPMon recorded two three-minute hijacks, affecting 80 address blocks in total. Qrator Labs said the incident spanned two hours, with the number of address blocks fluctuating between 40 and 80.

Some reasons for suspicion include the prominence of the impacted companies, and the fact that IP addresses were split into smaller blocks than those announced by the companies —something that doesn't normally happen with a BGP configuration error.

The autonomous Russian system that performed the hijack, known as AS39523, was previously inactive for years except for another BGP incident in August that involved Google.

Crooks and Liars highlights an AppleInsider commenter's take that the event "was likely a test of a future cyber-attack" against what is, in effect, a national security asset.

But as it happens, the president's Russophilia has his staff censoring references to Russia from his daily security briefings. Mention of Russia makes him peevish:

The Washington Post’s reporting Thursday about how the White House is handling the national security threat from Russia included many disturbing details: senior advisers avoiding the Oval Office so as not to involve President Trump on high-priority issues that chief executives normally would address. Trump’s impatience driving him, in turn, to leave the room during high-stakes national security discussions. Perceived personal insecurities preventing him from accepting high-confidence intelligence community judgments.
Judgement is not the sitting president's strong suit. Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, himself not the sharpest tool in the GOP shed, questioned Matthew Spencer Petersen, one Trump's nominees for a US District Court judgeship. Peterson demonstrated his accumulated lack of experience. The exchange went viral last night:
"Have you ever tried a jury trial," Kennedy asked Petersen. "I have not," Petersen replied.

Kennedy: "Civil?"

Petersen: "No."

Kennedy: "Criminal?"

Petersen: "No."

Kennedy: "Bench?"

Petersen: "No."

Kennedy: "State or federal court?"

Petersen: "I have not."

Kennedy: "Have you ever taken a deposition?"

And so on.
Somebody is asleep at the switch, but it's not the Russians. This is your government on Trump. Any questions?

* * * * * * * *

Request a copy of For The Win, my county-level election mechanics primer, at tom.bluecentury at gmail.


Professional Left Podcast #419

"I learned a long time ago that reality was much weirder than anyone's imagination."
-- Hunter S. Thompson, writer
Don't forget to visit our new website -- -- for all of the sweet bells and whistles:  there are links to donate to our podcast work at that site, as well as a links to our swingin' Zazzle merch store,  our respective blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Kittehs! and much more. Many thanks once again to @theologop for building it all for us!


The Professional Left is brought to you by our wholly imaginary "sponsors" -- 

-- and real listeners like you!


As a Liberal, Just About the Most Transgressive Thing You Can Do… remember the past accurately.

Remember the long, bloody road down which the Republican party and their media enablers have dragged this nation year after year, decade after decade.

Remember it all and, to whatever extent you are able, using whatever megaphone you may have, obdurately and relentlessly refuse to let the Right and the Media wish it all away.

Build a Professional-Grade Website With Wix

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Use a Template or Start From Scratch
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Wix Code Brings Powerful Functionality
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Today In Republican Detachment Disorder: Charlie Sykes

To help fight the scourge of Republican Detachment Disorder --
Republican Detachment Disorder is an extremely common and contagious affliction which my copy of the Fake Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines succinctly as "It's a huge shit sandwich and everybody but me is gonna have to take a bite." 
Of course, Republican Detachment Disorder has been a persistent component of Beltway Both Siderism for years, but since the Rise of Trump the condition has gone airborne and is now fully pneumonic and spreading like wildfire among Conservatives who made an entire career out enthusiastically helping the GOP shit the bed over and over again, and then, as Reality closed in, suddenly started pretending that it was all the fault of some other Republican Party waaaaay over there.
--  we at the Professional Left Podcast are thinking of launching a game show.

Working title:  "2017...or Not?"

Each week, a prominent Republican media person and Detachment Disorder carrier would be invited on the show to wager some fraction of their wildly inflated salary on whether they can guess which quotes are from the Age of Trump (when they believe their Republican party suddenly and inexplicably went to shit) and which quotes are from a time before Il Douche rode the Escalator of Doom into history (when their Republican party was doing great!)
Example:  Federal judges pose a “more serious [threat] than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings"?

Example:  "...the courts are forcing us to a constitutional crisis because of their arrogance and overreach. The courts have been trying to impose an elitist value system on a country that is inherently not elitist.”

Example:  "...we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. . . . And I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters, on some occasions, where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in, engage in violence."
We are hoping to coax Valued MSNBC Employee and noted Republican Detachment Disorder carrier Mr. Charlie Sykes to join us as our first contestant.

Because given his utterly inexplicable and very profitable media ubiquity and his willful Strategic Forgettery of the well-documented history of his own party, we should be able to skin him for at least five figures.

And what do I mean by his willful Strategic Forgettery of the well-documented history of his own party?

Well before reading on, take a wild guess as to the date, time and location that Mr. Sykes identifies as the moment his party began sinking into madness and degeneracy, which he describes in yesterday's New York Times as "A G.O.P. Tragedy in Four Acts"?

It may be worthwhile charting the party’s descent to this moment. 
Think of it as a drama in four acts.
And when, pray tell, does Act I begin?
In Act I, the curtain opens to reveal a gaudy golden escalator, and as Donald Trump descends to...
Boom.  Done. You need read no further.

This is the toxic lie they will go right on telling themselves and the public until they are forced to stop telling it.

And by "forced" I mean publicly confronted, publicly humiliated and rendered unemployable.

But the most hilarious predictable part?  

This is how Mr. Sykes ends his column:
Throughout this final act, the party’s leaders will desperately try to pretend that this is not a tragedy and that they were not the ones who brought this upon themselves. Some of them will know better, but I suspect that in the final scene they will be left with the question “What have we done?”
Once again the same Republican rats are building themselves another flotilla of lifeboats on which they hope to escape justice for the ruin they have brought upon us all

And this time those lifeboat must be burned to the waterline. 

Behold, a Tip Jar!


2017: Denial, Depression, Bargaining, Anger, Organizing

2017: Denial, Depression, Bargaining, Anger, Organizing

by digby

Amy Walter at the Cook Report on the 5 stages of 2017 politics:

It’s been a bit like watching someone work through the Kubler-Ross stages of grief. Democrats spent much of December of 2016 in a state of disbelief: Did that really happen? How did that happen? By early 2017 they had moved on to anger: Hillary ran a terrible campaign; Democrats had no message; the Obama coalition is unsustainable. By spring there was bargaining: We must not focus our attacks on Trump or his voters. We have to make peace with the white working class electorate who is anxious and angry and desperate for real change. Democratic leaders in Washington tamped down talk of impeachment and focused instead on “A Better Deal.”

Today, however, that reticence is gone. Democratic senators are openly calling for the President to resign over allegations of sexual harassment. Not one red state Democrat supported the GOP tax bill. The fear of Trump and his legions of establishment-hating voters has receded. Democrats are now living off the adrenaline and energy that comes with an awakening of their own base; a base that was disillusioned and dispirited in 2016. Anger is the most powerful GOTV force there is.

Republicans, meanwhile, are having something of a Kubler-Ross experience themselves. Some are still living in denial. They see losses in Virginia and Alabama — and underperformance of Republican candidates in House special elections in Montana, Kansas and South Carolina — as candidate or campaign specific. The President falls into this category as well. And, to be fair, he has no other campaign experience to fall back on but for the only one in which he was a candidate. As such, the motto seems to be: if it worked last year, it’ll work again. Earlier this year, Trump had a choice: try to grow the narrow base of support that got him the win in 2016, or simply cater to that base. He chose the latter. And, in turn that narrow base has gotten even smaller. Trump has done nothing to keep the reluctant Trump voters, those Republicans or independents who were wary of Trump’s style and temperament and voted for him anyway, on his side. Many of those voters who wanted to give Trump a chance to act presidential, a chance to learn the ropes, are now growing impatient and dispirited. This is why you are seeing suburban, highly educated voters swing toward the Democratic candidates.

Another group of Republicans are in the bargaining phase. They understand the existential danger that Trump poses to their Congressional majority, but they think they can outwit and outlast him. They can pass a tax bill to show their competence at legislating. They can focus on running "all politics is local" campaigns that are detached from the dysfunction of Washington. They can try to show independence from Trump. Most of these Republicans are people who haven’t lived through a wave election. Which, to be fair, is about two-thirds of the GOP conference in Congress.

Then there are those Republicans who have been in Washington for a while. They are at the acceptance phase. These are the men and women who lived through 2006 and 2008. When I talk to them — as I have this week — they are becoming more and more convinced that 2018 is shaping up to be a very, very bad year for their party. They have tried denial and bargaining in the past. They know that it doesn’t work.

It's all they've got.


Hey ladies get busy. Time to procreate and MAGA!

Hey ladies get busy. Time to procreate and MAGA!

by digby

This is a fundamental white nationalist view. Whether Paul Ryan knows that, I don't know. But it's fucking digusting either way:

During a news conference on Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan urged American women to have more babies, saying their lack of procreation was stunting economic growth.

“People — this is going to be the new economic challenge for America. People,” Ryan said, in response to a question about entitlement reform.

Alluding to the fact that he’s a father of three, Ryan added, “I did my part, but we need to have higher birth rates in this country. Meaning, baby boomers are retiring, and we have fewer people following them in the work force.”

“We have something like a 90 percent increase in the retirement population in America, but only a 19 percent increase in the working population in American,” the Speaker continued. “So what do we have to do? Be smarter, more efficient, more technology — still going to need more people. And when we have tens of millions of people right here in this country falling short of their potential — not working, not looking for a job, or not in school getting a skill to get a job — that’s a problem.”

While it is true that birth rates in the U.S. have been declining, that’s not necessarily bad news — for instance, birth rates for teenagers hit a record low last year. Ryan’s comments also overlook the possibility that people may not share his belief that economic growth is a goal to be pursued at any and all costs.

Furthermore, there’s an obvious solution to the problem that Ryan completely ignores — allowing more immigrants into the country to fill the jobs being vacated by retiring baby boomers. But instead of using his position as House Speaker to pursue immigration reform, Ryan has instead indicated he’s on board with Trump’s hardline anti-immigration positions, including the president’s insistence on spending billions of dollars on a border wall.

Ryan isn’t alone among male Wisconsin Republicans in believing that women should have more babies for the good of the economy. On the floor of the Wisconsin State Assembly last month, Wisconsin state Rep. Scott Allen (R) argued on behalf of a bill that would prevent health insurance plans for state employees from covering most abortions, saying more births are needed to spur economic growth.

Women aren't brood mares to grow the American herd. They have every right to have fewer children if thy choose and the idea that they have an obligation to procreate to help the economy is just sick, particularly when there are people clamoring to come to this country to work and these white supremacists want to build walls to keep them out.

This stuff is now in mainstream establishment GOP rhetoric and it's scary as hell. For all the women's empowerment we see in the headlines, this is where the other side of the argument comes down. And it's not new:

The fear of being outnumbered by racial and ethnic minorities is the driving force of the so-called alt-right, and in this regard, they are no different from many nationalist movements abroad, or from previous white nationalist movements in American history.

Kelly J. Baker, a religious history scholar and the author of Gospel According to the Klan: The KKK’s Appeal to Protestant America, 1915-1930, says that the need to ensure that more white women were having white babies was a key part of the Ku Klux Klan’s platform during its resurgence in the 1920s and 1930s.

“One of their planks was a defense of white womanhood,” Baker told HuffPost. “They’re very explicit that they have to protect white women from Black men, but also from immigrant men and Jewish men.”

The resurgent Klan was also fixated on the home and the family and on women’s roles in it. The Klan’s position was that “the best role that a woman can have is as a wife and mother who’s going to instill in her children patriotism and white supremacy,” Baker said.

Nearly a century later, the self-proclaimed alt-right has similar fears, and, when it comes to the rightful place of white women, similar goals. The movement seeks the “restoration” of what some leaders call “natural relations” between men and women — that is, men leading in public life and women confined to the domestic sphere, with marriage and procreation for all. To this end, the so-called alt-right sets itself against feminism and the feminist insistence that women and men have a right to an equal footing in public life and that encourages men to contribute more labor in the domestic sphere.

Think about Trump going on about "beautiful Kate" being killed by the illegal immigrant. And his Central Park Five diatribe. Ryan's not that explicit. He may even think it's ok if the Latinas and African American women breed too, that just how non-racist he is. He's just saying that American women need to do "their part" to Make America Great Again. And we all know what that means, don't we?


Yes of course Trump is the most dishonest president in history

Yes of course Trump is the most dishonest president in history

by digby

I think this is obvious but apparently his supporters think that all presidents are pathological liars like their Dear Leader. (Why they also think this is ok, I don't know, but that's just who they are.)

The New York Times:

After we published a list of President Trump’s lies this summer, we heard a common response from his supporters. They said, in effect: Yes, but if you made a similar list for previous presidents, it would be just as bad.

We’ve set out to make that list. Here, you will find our attempt at a comprehensive catalog of the falsehoods that Barack Obama told while he was president. (We also discuss George W. Bush below, although the lack of real-time fact-checking during his presidency made a comprehensive list impossible.)

We applied the same conservative standard to Obama and Trump, counting only demonstrably and substantially false statements. The result: Trump is unlike any other modern president. He seems virtually indifferent to reality, often saying whatever helps him make the case he’s trying to make.

In his first 10 months in office, he has told 103 separate untruths, many of them repeatedly. Obama told 18 over his entire eight-year tenure. That’s an average of about two a year for Obama and about 124 a year for Trump.


Somebody’s shopping a book deal ...

Somebody's shopping a book deal ...

by digby

Omarosa has a story to sell:

There "were a lot of things that I observed during the last year that I was very unhappy with," she said.

"But when I have my story to tell, as the only African-American woman in this White House, as a senior staff and assistant to the president, I have seen things that have made me uncomfortable, that have upset me, that have affected me deeply and emotionally, that has affected my community and my people. And when I can tell my story, it is a profound story that I know the world will want to hear," Manigault added.

I'm going to guess she's going to dump on everyone but Trump. But who knows? maybe she is just that mad.


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