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QOTD: The Invisible Attorney General

QOTD: The Invisible Attorney General

by digby

Trump told the Hill that he doesn't have an Attorney General, even condemning poor Jeff Sessions for alleged refusal to truly bring the hammer down on immigrants.

Sessions is doing his best to curry favor. Check out what he said just today:

If you want more shootings, more death, then listen to the ACLU, Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and groups who do not know the reality of policing. If you want public safety, then listen to the police professionals who have been intensely studying this for decades.

It's a testament to how scared Trump is of the Russia investigation that he can't acknowledge how much his base just loves that kind of talk from his Attorney General. Just ACLU, ANTIFA and BLM all in one sweeping condemnation!

Maybe Trump's jealous. When it comes to racist dog whistles, Sessions is a past master. If Trump was capable of learning, Sessions could even give him some tips.


Oh look, the FBI certainly can and does investigate

Oh look, the FBI certainly can and does investigate

by digby

In fact, it's right there in the agency's name:


This is a Holy War Because They Made it a Holy War

In a strange way, I'm grateful to Conservatives like Mr. Erickson for the clarity of their fanaticism.  Thanks to their unstinting efforts over the course of many decades, I no longer feel constrained to see them as anything but enemy combatants in our very Cold Civil War.  Their opinions are irrelevant to me.  Their joys and sorrows are irrelevant.   The tenets of their creepy, cultish perversion of Christianity is irrelevant. 

They are not adult humans to be reasoned with so we can stop wasting our time pretending otherwise.

They are simply obstacles to be overcome.

Today’s epic gaslighting

Today's epic gaslighting

by digby

If you own a business that sells survivalist gear in the case of nuclear armageddon, you'll want to put this interview with the president of the United States on your web-site. It's a great advertisement for your product.

The toady that calls himself a journalist John Solomon, testified on Hannity last night that the president sounded extremely well-balanced, in command of the issues and thoroughly in control.

Here is just one section. You be the judge:


John Solomon: Do you still feel good about a red wave? Do you think you could pull that off?

President Trump: I think this — we probably have the greatest economy in history, so they've tried many narratives with me. You know, I took that test when I got my last physical, and the doctor said that’s one of the highest scores we’ve ever seen. I did that not because I wanted but I did it, I was always good at testing.

But if there’s anything great about me it’s stability, and I’m a good manager. Always been a good manager, but you know, I have a vision. And I had just beaten 17 – because it was actually 18, including Gilmore, just so you know. People say 17 but it was actually 18, you know he was the Governor of Virginia, so it was 18.

And I had just beaten 17 people including the Bush dynasty. I then beat the Hillary Clinton dynasty. You can give me credit for Bernie Sanders and all because I was cause I was part of it, but you know, so I beat the Bush dynasty, the Clinton dynasty, 17 people, and I never left center stage once, you can check.

I never left center stage meaning I had lead in republican primaries from Day one. And I had, and I went through 14-12 debates, 12-debates before Hillary. And I never left center stage, and then they make up a thing, well, maybe he’s losing it, maybe. No, I, I would know that so fast.

By the way, when you start asking me questions maybe someday, and I say, ‘Hmm I don’t know those answers,’ I may say, ‘Well, it’s time to hang it up, OK?’ But the opposite, and I will say that the narrative, the different narratives, they’ve tried all different narratives.

They’ve tried that, they tried, ‘he’s a dictator, he’s a fascist.’ One of them did, one of them did, ‘he’s losing it,’ and the next week they went into, ‘He’s the most brilliant mind. He’s taking over the country. He’s a fascist, he’s a dictator, and he’s gonna make the 8 years into life.’ OK.

I said wait a minute, last week, I was incompetent and now, I’m, you know, taking over the world. OK? It’s incredible. It’s sick. But, the various narratives that they do are just so bad, they’re just so bad for the country. It’s just really so bad.

And they’re such opposites in a sense. Like, if you take insurance they want single payer, which can’t be afforded, and we want really great healthcare where people get a great price.

You know, really great stuff where people get a great price. I mean there are such differences, I could go on, on almost every subject.

So, it’s hard to bring everyone together unless there’s a, maybe very large national problem, which we don’t want. Maybe that brings people together, like it did for about a day with the World Trade Center, you know.

And by the way the worst single mistake ever made in the history of our country — going into the Middle East, by President Bush. Obama may have gotten ‘em out wrong, but going in is to me the biggest single mistake made in the history of our country. Because we spent $7 trillion dollars in the middle east.

Now if you wanna fix a window some place they say, “oh jee, let’s not do it. Seven trillion, and millions of lives — you know, ‘cause I like to count both sides. Millions of lives.

To me is the worst single mistake made in the history of our country. Civil war you can understand. Civil war, civil war. That’s different. For us to have gone into the Middle East, and that was just, that was a bad day for this country, I will tell you.

John Solomon: How do you convince people not to vote Democrat? What’s your argument to say, keep Republicans in charge?

President Trump: By the way, to finish that, I think we’re going to do much better than anyone thinks because the economy is so good, and people do like the job I’m doing. You know, they like the job, and to finish it off with just a little extra, when people say, you know, there’s a lot of action going on, I’m going through an illegal witch hunt. If I didn’t have that, you asked me a very good question before, do you spend much time on it? You have to spend time on it. I’m not supposed to be spending time on it. You know, part of this whole thing is that I’m not supposed to be spending any time on it. But I am.

Despite that I think I’ve done more than any president in history. If you look at the things we have done, with the tax cuts, and all of the things that we’ve done, including hopefully now two Supreme Court justices, we’ll have more judges put on than any other president other than one.

Do you know who the one is? George Washington. Percentage wise. I’ll have more than him too, but percentage wise (laughs).

I said that the other, you know I have 145, plus hopefully two Supreme Court judges. And that’s assuming nobody leaves the bench which they will over the next period of time. It’ll be number one. I outta say, ‘Who has highest percentage of federal judges.’ They say, ‘you do.’ I’ll say no, no. I got killed. They said who? George Washington because he appointed a hundred percent of the judges.

So, Buck, I have, in addition to what I’m doing, I have this thing which I wanna run. I wanna manage, but this was used as an excuse, even though it actually started long before I won. You know, and we only found that out through the texts.

This was a hoax before. But the Democrats used this as an excuse for having lost the election, when the Electoral College is totally their way. I mean, I had to run the entire East Coast, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania. I had to win places that haven’t been won in years. I won Wisconsin. I won Michigan. I had to run states that nobody thought were possible to do, except me, and some people and some pollsters, and some good pollsters. Rasmussen was very good I have to tell you.

So, you know, we’re really happy with the job. And just in finishing I was just gonna say that, so they like to say, chaos in the White House. You’re here. It’s running so beautifully.

And expect [sic] for the one area that you asked me about before, Mike Pompeo is a star, everyone of my cabinet members is doing great. I just have one group that’s not been good. You know what that group is.

That's the end of the interview.

That's the man John Solomon finds very impressively in control and on top of things.


Wall-nut in the White House

Wall-nut in the White House

by digby

He used to talk about the Great Wall of China being his inspiration so I suppose this makes some sense to him too.

But this is the wall that he grew up with and is obviously what he's really got in mind:

building it

putting up the barbed wire

I'm serious. Of course this is his image of the wall.  It was "the wall" everyone his age grew up with --- men with guns stationed in watchtowers, shooting people who tried to go over the top. He thinks that's perfectly normal.

He doesn't know that it was built to keep people in. But he probably doesn't have a problem with that either.

Update: Jesus H Christ

DONALD Trump suggested building an enormous wall across the Sahara to solve Europe’s migrant crisis, a Spanish politician has claimed.

Spain's Foreign Minister Josep Borrell, a former President of the European Parliament, said Trump insisted his Mexican barrier idea would work for Europe as well.

Such a wall would probably span about 3,200 miles and, based on the costs of the proposed wall in Mexico, cost around £85billion, involve 90,000 plus workers and take three-and-a-half years to build.

But while these numbers are epic enough, constructing a wall would more likely than face teething problems - not least shoring up its foundations in shifting sands.

The respected Spanish politician did not reveal when the controversial US leader allegedly put forward his radical migration solution.

But diplomatic sources suggested it was in June when he flew to the States in a trip coinciding with the visit to the White House of the Spanish King and Queen.


Slippery when wet

Slippery when wet

by digby

Always dignified:

President Donald Trump on Wednesday could be heard telling a victim of Hurricane Florence to “have a good time.”

Trump made the remark while handing out meals to hurricane victims in New Bern, North Carolina.

“Got it?” Trump said as he handed two meals to a person in a car, adding: “Have a good time.”

The comment caused one MSNBC reporter to speak out off camera.

“I think he just said have a good time!” the reporter gasped.

I gasped when I heard this:

“This is a tough hurricane, one of the wettest we’ve ever seen from the standpoint of water.”

Jonathan Chait observes:

Watching this video is very much like the common experience of making small talk about the weather with a stranger, except rather than ending the conversation after the normal ten seconds or so, the stranger believes his job and stature require him to elaborate with words that are not at his disposal. And so Trump adds that the hurricane “certainly is not good,” and that people have died (“That’s a tough one, it’s tough to understand”) and also that it “has been a nasty one, a big one.”

In the video, Trump is using his favorite dignified scowl. (The New York Times reported last year that the president told staff he wants to look “like Churchill” when he makes this face.) Except Churchill knew more words than an average 10-year-old, and he also wrote them down before he started speaking to the entire country.

You would have thought with such a monumentally wet hurricane, Trump would have at least brought some paper towels.

  This pool report...

Oh my dear God.


Die With The Lie, Opie.  Die With The Lie.

Of all the pieces of advice that Sheriff Andy Taylor would never offer his son, high on the list would be this:  If you are nominated for the high honor and rare privilege of serving on the United States Supreme Court, your best strategy is stick to your bullshit cover story no matter what, lie under oath as necessary, keep your head down and let Andy's goons and spinners clear your path, slander your accusers and strong-arm your nomination to a one-vote margin win.

Behold, a Tip Jar!


Declassifying documents for dummies

Declassifying documents for dummies

by digby

My Salon column this morning:

Way back at the beginning of the year, when the infamous "Nunes memo" was being flogged as the smoking gun that would blow the lid off of the Russia investigation by exposing the entire Department of Justice and FBI as the Hillary-loving traitors they are, President Trump played a rare clever hand. Instead of releasing the classified information himself, he played Pontius Pilate and pretended he had no choice in the matter, allowing the Republicans in Congress to do the dirty work. But that was before he decided that destroying the independent legal and intelligence institutions of the United States would become his proudest personal legacy.

Trump told The Hill TV on Tuesday that he sees his battle against what he calls the "corrupt" Department of Justice, FBI and intelligence community's investigation into Russian interference in America's electoral system as his "crowning achievement."

He said, "What we’ve done is a great service to the country. Really, in its own way, this might be the most important thing because this was corrupt." He continued, "They know this is one of the great scandals in the history of our country because basically what they did is, they used Carter Page, who nobody even knew -- who I feel very badly for, I think he’s been treated very badly -- they used Carter Page as a foil in order to surveil a candidate for the presidency of the United States.”

The "great service" the president is talking about was his decision this week to order the Justice Department to release classified information used in the 2017 FISA warrant application for Page, along with text messages from former FBI director James Comey, former deputy director Andrew McCabe, and former FBI employees Lisa Page, Peter Strzok and Bruce Ohr. According to The Hill, Trump has no idea what's in the documents or the text messages, but Rep. Devin Nunes and the Keystone Kops of the House Intelligence Committee have obviously convinced him that this will be the revelation that turns the tables on Mueller and finally proves that the witch hunt really was rigged.

The new twist is that Trump is now comforting himself with a grandiose delusion that Americans will believe he's leading a righteous crusade to save the country, instead of cravenly abusing his power to save himself. That's unlikely. Polling shows that special counsel Robert Mueller has a much higher approval rating than Trump.

John Solomon of The Hill, who conducted the interview, went to some length on Sean Hannity's show Tuesday night to assure everyone that reports of the president being unbalanced and ill-informed were way off base. But according to the write up in his own publication, Trump said this:

I should have fired Comey before I got here, I should have fired him the day I won the primaries. I should have fired him right after the convention, say I don’t want that guy. Or at least fired him the first day on the job. ... I would have been better off firing him or putting out a statement that I don’t want him there when I get there.
That is a very strange thing for a well-balanced, well-informed, stable-genius president to say, since it makes no sense, not even as a joke.

Trump doesn't really seem to understand what this alleged "rigged witch hunt" is all about and you can't really blame him for that, since the surrounding GOP conspiracy theories are byzantine by design. Investigative journalist Marcy Wheeler dug into this latest demand a while back and concluded that this was nothing more than an attempt to feed the right-wing media an alternate narrative. In the end, it may be yet another dud like the previously released "Nunes memo" and the "Comey memos" and all the other big scoops that were teased as big reveals of dastardly Deep State deeds and came up short.

We also don't know if these documents reveal the kind of sensitive material that will put lives in danger, as the FBI has asserted. It's fair to note that national-security agencies tend to say that even when it isn't the case. It's certainly possible that these releases will further support the Department of Justice and the FISA court's decisions, as previously released documents have done. But even aside from the gross abuse of presidential power for personal gain (yet another in a long line of corrupt behavior), there's a bigger structural problem at work here that is extremely worrisome.

Greg Sargent at the Washington Post put it well in an article on Tuesday:

Regardless of the facts, these situations allow Trump and his allies to exploit deep structural imbalances in our discourse and political media. Even if the new release debunks Trumpworld’s narrative, they will lie relentlessly in bad faith to the contrary, and madly cherry-pick from the new information to make their case. And they can count on assistance from a massive right-wing media infrastructure that will faithfully blare forth this narrative — even as the major news organizations adopt a much more careful approach that treats the interpretation of the new information as a matter for legitimate dispute, thus putting good-faith analysis and bad-faith propaganda on equal footing.
And because the details are so deliberately convoluted, that "good-faith analysis" never really penetrates at all. It's just white noise roaring in the background.

This is all leading toward the day when Trump finally pulls the trigger and fires Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. He will then demand that whichever flunky becomes his acting attorney general disband the special counsel's office and end the investigation. We will all wring our hands and rend our garments when we see that the "cause" this new Trump appointee cites is some version of Nunes' absurd "Deep State" narrative. We will understand that it's nonsense. 

But what are we going to do about it -- take it to the Supreme Court?


Hugh Hewitt Will Not Open The Pod Pay Doors

Because Hugh Hewitt (the Cyborg Sent From the Future to Destroy America) is incapable of processing basic human emotions, he is confused and frustrated that anyone would allow a credible charge of attempted rape leveled against Brett Kavanaugh (or multiple charges of perjury, or a completely rigged review process, or the theft of Merrick Garland's seat) to derail or slow down his appointment to the supreme court in any way.

The Right's mission is to so irrevocably pack the Supreme Court with Federalist Society-groomed wingnuts that the Right can go right on methodically destroying the fundamental rights and protections of workers, women, minorities, children, immigrants, the uninsured, the disabled and the political opposition  under the color of law decades after inexorable demographic changes renders them unable to win at the polls.

And Hugh Hewitt's prime directive is that nothing can be allowed to interfere with that mission.

Plus bonus Magic Ruralism (tm)!

Behold, a Tip Jar!


White, wealthy, and bulletproof by @BloggersRUs

White, wealthy, and bulletproof

by Tom Sullivan

Cities were still taking down the signs from the water fountains, figuratively, if not literally, when I arrived in the South. There was a considerable amount of culture shock. Southerners had some strange customs and an odd way of speaking. Underlying it all was an unspoken message not to question the status quo.

That's just the way it is. Know your place. Don't rock the boat.

Elsewhere in the South, Americans who questioned the way things were found themselves facing police nightsticks, dogs, and fire hoses. They were beaten, jailed, and blown up for questioning the way things were, for having the nerve to question how unequal, how unjust, how fundamentally un-American — and yet very American — society was (and still is).

The rules are largely unwritten, but the nature of privilege becomes clear once one's eyes adjust to the inner darkness of it.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh, writes Jamelle Bouie at Slate, is a lesson in who merits "second chances and absolution" in a society that rations them to an elite few. It is perhaps unfair to judge anyone decades later by their pre-adult selves. Yet when it comes to judging, who is spared and who feels the wrath of the law is closely proscribed, not by judicial precedent as much as by who does the applying to whom.

Bouie recounts the basics of Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court and the recent allegations of his sexual assault as a drunken 17-year-old from an elite boys prep school against a girl, 15, at a house party. Kavanaugh categorically denies the allegation. Republican senators supporting him question the memory and mental stability of the now 51-year-old accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, a research psychologist at Palo Alto University. The defense mustered for Kavanaugh against what seems like a credible accusation sets "broad concerns over accountability and impunity into sharp relief," Bouie writes:

To look beyond individual pundits and politicians is to see a world where responsibility and culpability is structured by race, class, gender, and your overall proximity to disadvantage. In the existing framework, we cannot ask a prospective Supreme Court justice to account for the actions of his youth, but we can hold a 12-year-old black boy responsible for not heeding police commands fast enough, or a 17-year-old black teenager for not deferring to a neighborhood watchman. Some people escape punishment for the crimes of their youth, others lose their right to vote for life. Right-wing pundits who back deportation for young adults brought to the United States as children also think the accusations against Kavanaugh are a disgrace. Somewhere, a man Kavanaugh’s age is sitting in prison for a crime committed as a teenager.

Much of the last decade of American life has been marked by a crisis of accountability that transcends conventional divisions of party and ideology. The leaders who produced the catastrophic failures of the 2000s—from the Iraq War and an illegal torture regime to the financial crisis and the near-collapse of the global economy—remain elites in good standing, with leading roles in political and economic life. Police kill unarmed men and women—many of them from our most marginalized communities—with virtual impunity, immune to criminal punishment or legal sanction in all but the most egregious cases of misconduct. Even after exposing entrenched patterns of sexual abuse and misconduct, women still fight—with limited and provisional success—to hold men accountable for their actions.

Lest we forget, Bouie reminds us, architects of Great Recession still hold elite positions both in government and in business. Those responsible for the failures to save American lives after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and for the Bush torture regime still hold elite positions in government and polite society. Both men and women: Gary Cohn, Kirstjen Nielsen, Gina Haspel. Their failures have disappeared down the memory hole while we bury black men perceived as threatening by skittish whites. Rich white men can wreck the lives of millions and walk free while a black man selling loose cigarettes on the sidewalk can have the life choked out of him on camera by policemen who themselves walk free.

After the election of Barack Obama to the presidency, conservative pundits insisted we drop any discussion of the role of race. The election of a black president meant America was post-racial. (It wasn't.) What Kavanaugh's nomination does is turn up the contrast to 11 on how not only race but class and gender influence one's fate in a country that insists in principle that all its citizens are created equal and no one is above the law while renouncing those principles in practice.

Brett Kavanaugh cannot be held responsible for the failures of society. At issue is whether an allegation of sexual assault at 17, if true, is a valid window into his character as an adult nominated for appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court for life.

Long before being elected president for 8 years, George W. Bush spent his boyhood growing up in West Texas. A childhood friend recounted from those days:

"We were terrible to animals," recalled Mr. Throckmorton, laughing. A dip behind the Bush home turned into a small lake after a good rain, and thousands of frogs would come out.

"Everybody would get BB guns and shoot them," Mr. Throckmorton said. "Or we'd put firecrackers in the frogs and throw them and blow them up."

As president decades later, that boy authorized torturing people.

* * * * * * * * *

For The Win 2018 is ready for download. Request a copy of my county-level election mechanics primer at tom.bluecentury at gmail.


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