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They welcomed the interference

They welcomed the interference

by digby

It's hard not to be angry at President Obama for failing to adequately sound the alarm over the Russian meddling in the election. But we have been told for many months now that all blame for the outcome rests with that horrifying candidate who did everything wrong and nobody could stand, Hillary Rodham Clinton. So, that's that. I'm uninterested in relitigating all that at the moment. It's gets tiring.

If you really want to look at a man who will be remembered in history as a true patriot, look to Mitch McConnell who dismissed the warnings and refused to join the president in sounding the warning since Vladimir Putin was helping his team. Hey, they were fighting the world's most heinous Feminazi so it makes sense that the Republicans would ally with Russians. Worked for FDR and Stalin, amirite?

Anyway, this is the truly fatuous response from the administration:

“We made the judgment that we had ample time after the election, regardless of outcome, for punitive measures.”

Ok, so they thought that Clinton would win. Fine. But it was only 16 years ago that we had a close election that went to the Republicans by dubious means through the electoral college. It never occurred to them that it could happen again? That's ridiculous.

More importantly, if any of them even entertained the thought that Trump would do anything about this if he won, Mitch McConnell's reactions should have been enough to disabuse them of that fact.

The simple truth is that the Republicans welcomed a foreign government interfering in the election on their behalf. They knew and they were happy about it and they are now doing everything in their power to cover it up. There is no other way to look at it.

Republican leaders were so hungry to kill people on Medicaid, bankrupt the middle class and give tax cuts to their millionaire friends that they knowingly allowed a foreign government to help that corrupt, incompetent imbecile into the White House. Think about that.

I feel sick.


The art of growing a spine by @BloggersRUs

The art of growing a spine

by Tom Sullivan

The Obama administration received an "eyes only" CIA report last August that the Russian hacking attacks were far much more extensive than the DNC and Guccifer 2.0 episodes already known to the public. A bombshell report yesterday from the Washington Post claims the report "drawn from sourcing deep inside the Russian government ... detailed Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the U.S. presidential race." The reporting is based on the accounts of over three dozen current and former senior officials from the White House, the State and Defense Departments, U.S. intelligence services and other agencies. Because of the sensitivity of these matters, most spoke only on condition of anonymity. The report makes clear that second-guessing at the highest levels of the Obama administration and political concerns by the leadership of both major parties in the midst of a presidential campaign quashed a more decisive response:

In political terms, Russia’s interference was the crime of the century, an unprecedented and largely successful destabilizing attack on American democracy. It was a case that took almost no time to solve, traced to the Kremlin through cyber-forensics and intelligence on Putin’s involvement. And yet, because of the divergent ways Obama and Trump have handled the matter, Moscow appears unlikely to face proportionate consequences.
It is a stunning and lengthy report you simply must read.

Over at the Post's Plum Line blog, Paul Waldman highlights how Democrats' timidity in dealing with the crisis helped elect Donald Trump. Granted, in August no one expected that to Trump to win:

What comes through again and again is that the Obama administration was terrified of looking partisan or doing anything that might seem like it was putting a thumb on the scale of the election, and the result was paralysis. This is a manifestation of what some years ago I began calling the Audacity Gap.
I've been doing riffs on this for years, but none this clean.
Democrats are forever worried about whether they might be criticized, whether Republicans will be mean to them, whether they might look as though they’re being partisan, and whether they might be subjected to a round of stern editorials. Republicans, on the other hand, just don’t care. What they’re worried about is winning, and they don’t let the kinds of criticism that frightens Democrats impede them. It makes Republicans the party of “Yes we can,” while Democrats are the party of “Maybe we shouldn’t.”
I've watched older (older than me anyway), local Democratic leaders second guess themselves this way for years instead of taking bold action, "But what will the Republicans do [to us] if we...?" "If we do that, we'll be handing Republicans a campaign issue," etc. And don't get me started on how Republicans made Sen. Dick Durbin cry in the Senate during George W. Bush's term. Democrats behave like abused spouses then wonder why voters won't elect them.

Even if they vote for them at the local and state level, voters often will not vote for Democrats when national security is on the line because Americans at heart want leaders, doers not thinkers. They want candidates they can trust to fight for them, not arbitrate for them. People who will take a stand, not negotiate a compromise (even though that is how much in representative government gets done).

Democrats' greatest weakness is they need people to like them, and they are easily hurt if people don't. Republicans know this. So they deploy their patented hissy fits regularly to get Democrats to back down, just as Waldman writes. Anat Shenker Osorio wrote, "Democrats rely on polling to take the temperature; Republicans use polling to change it."

Much as I hate to admit it, this quote from Margaret Thatcher captures that even more succinctly: "Don't follow the crowd, let the crowd follow you." That's leadership.

Last November 8th's debacle wasn't caused by this thing or that, but by what Lemony Snicket would call a series of unfortunate events. This week, this awful week is the outcome of that. Until Democrats stop cowering and start leading, they'll be stuck following.


In The Beginning…

"The junk [heroin] merchant does not sell his product to the consumer, he sells the consumer to his product. He does not improve and simplify his merchandise. He degrades and simplifies the client."
-- William S. Burroughs, "Deposition: Testimony Concerning a Sickness" with a big h/t to Neo Tuxedo for this quote.
For the record, I am perfectly aware that the roots of our long and tortured political history go back to Beringa, Eric the Red and Strom Thurmond quitting the Democratic Party in 1948 to form the segregationist States' Rights Democratic Party also known as the "Dixiecrats" (note:  The Dixiecrats were later dissolved and then gradually reconstituted into a much larger, more powerful and better-funded segregationist party called "The Republicans".)

But because this post will not be one billion words long, it will not cover anything like a territory that vast.  (I just told you that to trick you into reading this far! Insert Evil Laugh here!) So pedants and "whatabouters" take it elsewhere, preferably to Blogger or Wordpress where you can start your own blog and publish your own sweeping and comprehensive history of American politics.  Which I will gladly read and carp about grin

Instead what you'll get for the price of admission is a simplified overview of  "How We Got Here" spanning roughly one human generation:
In population biology and demography, the generation time is the average time between two consecutive generations in the lineages of a population. In human populations, the generation time typically ranges from 22 to 32 years.
Let us begin.

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan killed something called The Fairness Doctrine:
The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), introduced in 1949, that required the holders of broadcast licenses both to present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was — in the Commission's view — honest, equitable, and balanced. The FCC, which was believed to have been under pressure from then President Ronald Reagan, eliminated the Doctrine in 1987.
For the record, the two federal judges who helped Reagan kill the Fairness Doctrine were future-Supreme Court incubus Antonin Scalia, and disgraced Nixon henchman Robert Bork.  After helping to hold down the Fairness Doctrine while Reagan smothered it, both men went on to enjoy long and fruitful careers as wingnut icons and ruiners of American democracy.

Also in 1987, immediately after the Fall of the Fairness Doctrine came the Rise of Conservative Hate Radio:
Daniel Henninger wrote, in a Wall Street Journal editorial, "Ronald Reagan tore down this wall (the Fairness Doctrine) in 1987 ... and Rush Limbaugh was the first man to proclaim himself liberated from the East Germany of liberal media domination."
Then, in 1990, immediately after the Rise of Conservative Hate Radio began normalizing a Republican vocabulary of lies, slander, casual racism and hate-mongering via millions of AM radios and "Rush Rooms" across the country. an up-and-coming pervert named Newton Leroy Gingrich began teaching a cohort of ambitious sociopaths inside the Republican Party to relentlessly parrot exactly the same hate-speech coming from Limbaugh and his imitators outside the party.

Venerable, sclerotic institutions like The New York Times looked-with-alarm (as the kids say) --
The Politics of Slash and Burn
Published: September 20, 1990

'Sick.'' ''Traitors.'' ''Bizarre.'' ''Self-serving.'' ''Shallow.'' ''Corrupt.'' ''Pathetic.'' ''Shame.'' The group that urged political candidates to use these epithets has since regretted suggesting the word ''traitors,'' in response to inquiries from the press. But the others were allowed to stand; they appear in a glossary that a conservative Republican group recently mailed to Republican state legislative candidates.

The group is Gopac, the G.O.P. Political Action Committee. Its general chairman is Representative Newt Gingrich. With the pamphlet, ''Language: A Key Mechanism of Control,'' comes a letter from Mr. Gingrich himself. Its message to candidates: Step up invective. Use words like these to describe opponents. These words work.

Mr. Gingrich's injunction represents the worst of American political discourse...

The Gopac glossary may herald a descent into even lower levels of discourse. It comes blessed by a politician of some influence - the Republican whip in the House - and it is intended for candidates on the state level, many of them presumably running for the first time. Even though Mr. Gingrich himself may not have seen the list before it was mailed, this is a disturbing document.
-- but took no substantive action whatsoever to actually stop the Rise of Gingrich, because of their deeply inbred insularity and childlike faith that between the Wise American Voters and some other group of Sober Men of The Establishment. someone else would surely step in to put an end to such toxic and radical flapdoodle.  Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but sooner or later, those other heroes would get around to it:
The nakedness of the Gopac offering also makes it useful. There must be limits to the negative politics that voters will bear; the bald appeal to invective will certainly probe those limits. For now, it should be said that some adjectives in the glossary aptly describe the glossary itself: shallow, sensationalist and, yes, shame(ful).
Four years later, neither the Wise American Voters or the Sober Men of The Establishment had shown up to save the day,   Sure the those crazy Liberals had been jumping up and down screaming that the Party of Lincoln was dying and last remnants of Eisenhower/Rockefeller Republicans were being displaced by billionaire-backed ghouls and madmen, but really, who listens to Libtards anyway?

Instead, Limbaugh's brand of self-pitying white-grievance peddling, misogyny, gay-bashing and rancid bigotry became was the hottest thing on AM radio, being carried on hundreds of stations across the country and spawning dozens of wretched little imitators, while Limbaugh's shitty books shot to the top of the New York Times best-seller list, ushering in a whole new era in ways for wingnuts to get rich telling morons they lies they desperately wish to believe,

Instead, Republicans led by the "shallow, sensationalist and, yes, shame(ful)" Newt Gingrich took control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, which the GOP had not held in 40 years. And in his new role as Speaker of the House, Gingrich went to work immediately on an aggressive program of sabotaging the government, adultery and trying to topple the Clinton Administration by any means necessary.

Instead, this happened.  From The New York Times, December 1994:
Republicans Get a Pep Talk From Rush Limbaugh

BALTIMORE, Dec. 10— To all the advice for the new Republicans coming to Congress, add this from Rush Limbaugh: A hostile press corps lurks inside the Beltway.

"You will never ever be their friends," the talk-show host warned most of the 73 Republican freshmen at a dinner here tonight. "They don't want to be your friends. Some female reporter will come up to one of you and start batting her eyes and ask you to go to lunch. And you'll think, 'Wow! I'm only a freshman. Cokie Roberts wants to take me to lunch. I've really made it!' " The audience laughed.

"Seriously," he added. "Don't fall for this. This is not the time to get moderate. This is not the time to start trying to be liked."

The freshman class, which included not a single "femi-Nazi," one of Mr. Limbaugh's favorite epithets for supporters of women's rights, whooped and applauded, proving itself one big fan club of the man it believes was primarily responsible for the Republican avalanche in November.

Mr. Limbaugh was made an honorary member of the class as its members tonight finished a three-day orientation here sponsored by the Heritage Foundation and Empower America, two conservative Washington research organizations.

Barbara Cubin, an incoming freshman from Wyoming, told Mr. Limbaugh that because 74 percent of the nation's newspapers had endorsed Democrats, "talk radio, with you in the lead, is what turned the tide." On behalf of the women in the class, she gave him a plaque that said, "Rush Was Right." He also received a pin like the ones the freshmen wore, saying, "Majority Maker."

"Rush is as responsible for what happened here as much as anyone," said Vin Weber, a former Representative from Minnesota, now of Empower America. Citing a poll taken after the election by Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster, Mr. Weber said that people who listened to 10 hours or more a week of talk radio voted Republican by a 3-to-1 margin. "Those are the people who elected the new Congress," he said...
In September of 1995, while Australian fascist media mogul Rupert Murdoch was on one of his periodic American media property buying sprees, he gave Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes a big sack of wingnut welfare cash to create The Weekly Standard and staff it with the dregs of every Conservative think tank in D.C.  The first Managing Editor of this "redoubt of neoconservatism" was a gentleman named David Brooks.  (At the time, Mr, Brooks' talents had led him to the position of op-ed page editor of the Wall Street Journal where his job (as Mr. Brooks recently confessed) consisted of not reading or understanding things that his employees were printing on his op-ed page.)  From Brother Charlie Pierce:
Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. Note the shabby, silly alibi that leads us off.
Now I confess I couldn't follow all the actual allegations made in those essays.
You were the editor, fool. It was your job to follow the actual allegations, because a lot of them were crazy tales from Arkansas con-men who looked at the national press and saw a battalion of easy marks.
They were six jungles deep in the weeds.
And hip-deep in pure bullshit, but do go on.
A series of bombshell revelations came out in the media, which seemed monumental at the time.
Some of those were contained in a series of "investigative essays" that helped drive Vince Foster to kill himself. We know this because the WSJ was specifically mentioned in his suicide note. I'm surprised a copy of it isn't hanging in the editorial department.
A special prosecutor was appointed and indictments were expected.
Actually, two special prosecutors were appointed. The first one, Robert Fiske, concluded that there was no crime involving the Clintons in regard to Whitewater and its attendant fiscal shenanigans. That's why Republican judges fired Fiske and we ended up with Ken Starr.
As you can see, Mr. Brooks has always sucked at both the "fact" thingies and the "editing" thingies, which is why he was the perfect Managing Editor of The Weekly Standard.

And now, with the ground sufficiently prepared by a cohort of Gingrich clones running the House backed up by well-financed army of Conservative radio talkers, think tanks, prestige magazines, book publishers and TV preachers,  Roger Ailes was finally able to realize his life-long dream of creating a Republican propaganda television network and sexual predator petting zoo when he and Rupert Murdoch launched Fox News in October of 1996.

From this moment on -- from the moment the Party of Lincoln chose to turn itself into the Party of Jefferson Davis in order to win elections -- the GOP set itself on a direct path to eventually nominating and electing a monster like Trump.

And still the mainstream Beltway media went right along with it, rubbing their magic Beltway lamps and reassuring the public that sooner or later the Wise American Voters or the Sober Men of The Establishment would swing into action.  And still the ever-more dire warnings from the Left were completely ignored by as the unpatriotic ravings of a few crackpots.

And I have written literally hundreds of times, once the Republican party learned that neither the media, nor the Wise American Voters, nor the Sober Men of The Establishment would make them pay a price for their ginned up hysteria, fake scandals, government shut downs, witch hunts and endless lying during the Clinton Administration, that kind of cynical, overt political thuggery became a dress rehearsal for the outright seditious vandalism they carried out during the Obama Administration.
From "The American Prospect":'s worth remembering just how virulent the opposition to Clinton's presidency was. Republicans began plotting to impeach Clinton long before anyone had ever heard the name "Lewinsky," and many on the right simply refused to accept that he legitimately occupied the office he held. Then-House Majority Leader Dick Armey, when talking to Democrats, used to refer to Clinton as "your president."
It was a warped, hysterical campaign funded by wealthy Right Wing thugs like Richard Mellon Scaife

and propagated by wealthy Right Wing thugs like Rupert Murdoch who made sure the lies were jack-hammered into the headlines day after day, year after year.

And judging by its objectives, it was also a very successful campaign: it legitimized and metastasized Hate Radio; killed the credibility of the "objective" media once and for all; made the overt mass-slander of political opposition by the Right acceptable; moved radicals, militia nuts, bigots, Creationists and Limbaugh zombies to the center of the Republican Party; accelerated the exodus of reasonable moderates the hell out of the Republican Party; destroyed the possibility of public discourse; and kicked the door open to the use of Congressional hearings as instruments of political vendetta...
By the end of the Clinton Administration, all the pieces of the Right's Pretty Hate Machine -- the Rove Rods, the Propaganda Pumps, the Radioactive Base, and the Liquid Bobo Koolant -- were in place and firing on all cylinders.

So let us pause and consider this important fact.

More than twenty years ago it was already abundantly clear what was sort of beasts were incubating inside the dead chrysalis of Republican Party, just as it was perfectly obvious that the craven, enabling, Beltway media had decided that its collective future lay in going-along-to-get-along.  

This is why we on the Left have always maintained that those who have profited over these past to decades either by knowingly pandering to the paranoia and racism of the wingnut horde (Charlie Sykes, Rick Wilson, Hugh Hewitt, Joe Scarborough, Greta Van Susteren, Bill Kristol and Megyn Kelly just to randomly name a few of the NBC employees who are guilty as fuck) or by knowingly propping up the lie that none of it was happening (denial) or the even bigger lie that Both Sides were equally to blame (deflection-by-false-equivalence, and I'm looking at you David Brooks and David Frum and Andrew Sullivan and Michael Gerson and George Will and Jennifer Rubin and Matthew Dowd and Ron Fournier and ... and... and ...) 

... have no business whatsoever being paid to proffer their opinions in the media.

And yet these Conservative talking-point-dispensing sociopaths, myopic bumblefucks and blood-stained goons increasingly dominate the media, while the Left -- we who were right about the Right all along -- are increasingly shoved ever deeper into the corner.

So (he said in a continuing kind of way) for example, by 1998 Newt Gingrich had repeatedly and publicly disgraced himself and was run out of office.  But so what?  By that time, the spawn of Limbaugh and Gingrich had conspired to obliterate the line between the Conservative political office holders and Conservative propaganda ministers. And so while Gingrich's corrupt, slandering, racist ass may have been tossed out of the "political" door, he was welcomed right back to the table through the "media" door like a long lost lodge brother.  In fact, this process of Gingrich Perpetual Reputation Rehabilitation by the craven, enabling, Beltway media has gotten so nauseatingly predictable that a certain, dirty-hippie outcast gave it it's own name -- The Gingrich Rules -- which will continue to be in effect until they are destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom where they were forged:
Until then, the stewards of that tiny sliver of our airwaves which are contractually obligated to discuss "public affairs" for an hour a week will continue to take turns setting out free publicity buffets for disgraced, bomb-throwing, race-baiting grifter Newt Gingrich
The most popular ‘MTP’ guest of the year

THE MOST POPULAR ‘MTP’ GUEST OF THE YEAR…. In the previous post, I mentioned what disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said on “Meet the Press” yesterday. I neglected to ask a relevant question: why on earth was Newt Gingrich on “Meet the Press” yesterday?

Yesterday was Gingrich’s fifth appearance on “MTP” just this year. In fact, Newt Gingrich, despite not having held any position in government for over a decade, was the single most frequent guest on “Meet the Press” in 2009 of any political figure in the United States. Literally.

From March to December, Gingrich appeared on “MTP,” on average, every other month. No one else in American politics was on the show this often...
Another example which will not come as a surprise to anyone who reads my blog is Mr. David Brooks, who took a different but parallel route to media fame, fortune, influence and respect.  As I wrote a long time ago:
The only real difference between what Mr. Brooks does and what Rush Limbaugh does is that Our Mr. Brooks works his ass-for-rent/tell-you-any-lie-you-wanna-hear end of the business for high-income-bracket-types and with a courtesan's blush, while Limbaugh grinds out his living giving fast, unromantic ten-dollar political handjobs to white trash.
Like a high-end, concierge version of the sewage that Fox and hate Radio pump into the amygdalae of the Pig People, Bobo provides his clients with a form of specialized fetish fulfillment.
Put simply, Limbaugh and Gingrich make their live whipping the Pig People up into politically targetable frenzies, while Brooks makes his living telling his rarefied audience of Aspen Institute thought leaders, college presidents, CEOs and insulated plutocrats that neither the Limbaugh nor Gingrich nor the Pig People really exist at all.  Because...
...Mr. Brooks is engaged in a long-term project to completely rewrite the history of American Conservatism: to flense it of all of the Conservative social, political  economic and foreign policy debacles that make Mr. Brooks wince and repackage the whole era as a fairy tale of noble Whigs being led through treacherous hippie country by the humble David Brooks.
But like virtually every other Conservative propagandists of his species, there is a very clear line of demarcation between the lies Mr. Brooks told during his Wall Street Journal and Weekly Standard days, and the lies he has been telling since the Sulzberger family gave him a job-for-life lying on the op-ed page of The New York Times.  And that line is the Iraq War.

You see duing the Age of Bush, Mr, Brooks (still at The Weekly Standard) wrote column after column full of authoritative assertions about the brilliance of  George W. Bush's economic and foreign policies and the stupidity and insanity of the dumbass Liberals who questioned or opposed them.   All of those assertions turned out to be catastrophically wrong, which I documented the hell out of  several years ago, when I still held out hope that if enough of us "documented the atrocities" every day, and published them and passed them around, the media would eventually have to stop elevating obvious nitwits and liars at the expense of experts and genuine thinkers.

Obviously I was wrong.

One of Mr. Brooks most infamous anti-Liberal hit pieces is from April of 2003 in which he writes "... Now that the war in Iraq is over" and proceeds to wonder how those stupid, crazy Liberals are ever gonna hide from the righteous judgement of history now that "Bush haters" like them have been proven wrong, wrong, wrong  Because, after all, they were never anything more than a tribe of dupes and imbeciles anyway! many people have noted, hatred of Bush and his corporate cronies is all that is left of their leftism. And this hatred is tribal, not ideological. And so they will still have their rallies, their alternative weeklies, and their Gore Vidal polemics.
Brooks concluded that since we on the Left are just belligerent, deluded haters, we would sustain our stupid, deluded selves and stave off Reality by concocting bigger and more deluded lies
In other words, there will be no magic "Aha!" moment that brings the dream palaces down. Even if Saddam's remains are found, even if weapons of mass destruction are displayed, even if Iraq starts to move along a winding, muddled path toward normalcy, no day will come when the enemies of this endeavor turn around and say, "We were wrong. Bush was right." They will just extend their forebodings into a more distant future. Nevertheless, the frame of the debate will shift. The war's opponents will lose self-confidence and vitality. And they will backtrack. They will claim that they always accepted certain realities, which, in fact, they rejected only months ago.
Ironically, in that one paragraph, Mr, David Brooks -- who has never been right about anything of any importance -- predicted with eerie accuracy the spiraling trajectory of more lies, more self-deception, more lies, more paranoid conspiracies and more lies which the entire Right -- from David Brooks to Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh -- have traveled from those heady, consequence-free days of "... Now that the war in Iraq is over"  until now.

And the final fork in that road to Hell was the collapse of the Bush Administration and the disastrous failure of the Iraq War.   Because the Right had gone all-in with Dubya, who they worshiped as their semi-divine Deliverer.  Karl Rove swaggered about town predicting a "permanent Republican majority" and you were either with them...or they would drop a fucking house on you.

For those of you who are too young to remember it not a lot of fun being a Liberal during the Age of Bush:
Then then it all fell apart.  For those of you who are too young to remember, Google "Hurricane Katrina".  Google "Terri Schiavo".  Google "Iraq Insurgency"  Google "Abu Ghraib".  Google "The Great Recession".

This presented an immediate and existential threat to the entire Republican Party.  You see, Republicans -- The Party of Personal Responsibility -- had spent seven years robbing the graves of those who died on 9/11 and using that national tragedy as a bottomless political ATM machine: 
 ... the political equivalent of the Blood of Christ -- as a means to absolve themselves of their personal responsibility for eight years of malice and derangement -- for them September 11, 2001 stopped being a moment of shared, national anguish and started being a suit of cultural body-armor which magically deflected any criticism of their lies and their hypocrisy.

An impervious sniper's nest from which they could cynically escalate --
"Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers," Mr. Rove, the senior political adviser to President Bush, said at a fund-raiser in Midtown for the Conservative Party of New York State.
-- their war on the Left.
But the high cotton days were over.  Under Republican governance, the military had been wrecked. The economy was in free fall .  We were hemorrhaging 400,000 jobs a month.  The auto industry was on the brink of complete collapse. Two wars were still burning out of control.  We had pissed away the Clinton Surplus and racked up the highest deficit in history (which David Brooks had repeatedly sworn was impossible.)  And our international reputations was in tatters.  

Taken together, this should have been an extinction-level event for the Republican Party, but it was not, for two reasons.

First, because by now the Right owned a fully-functional and completely impervious Reality Bubble with it's own think tanks, magazines, newspapers, book publishing houses, preachers, politicians, one and a half cable news networks and, most importantly, 60 million meatheads who were not about to take one iota of Personal Responsibility for the misery and ruin they had cheered on.  

And second, the craven, enabling, Beltway media was not about the admit the terrible truth, that the Left had been right about the Right all along, and that they -- the craven, enabling, Beltway media -- had been deeply complicit is ever, single Republican debacle.

And so the Beltway media and the Republican Party made common cause against the common threat of being held accountable.  Their efforts took four, interrelated paths.

First, in the greatest missing persons case in American history, the base of the Republican Party suddenly just up and disappeared.  Poof.  Gone, like a fart in a warp engine, just as certain dirty hippies had predicted.  And in their place, millions of newly-minted "independents" suddenly appeared.  

Like fucking Mandrake the Magician I tell you!  

And you know who found this fresh crop of "independents" utterly fascinating?  

David Brooks.  That guy just couldn't get enough of them!  In November of 2009 he wrote a long paean to these new arrivals to our plane of existence and, by making a tasty tossed salad out of a grab-bag of different polls and "trends" that were a scant seven months long, decided that the country was now being driven by "independents", and -- surprise -- these independents had suddenly made a massive lurch to the Right. 

Later, millions of these same "independents" would avail themselves of further refinements to their fake identities offered by the fabulous "Bush Off" machine and emerge as full-fledged members of the "Tea Party" who had never had an opinion about anything in their lives and had never even heard of George W. Bush.  And thus they were taught the most important Conservative lesson of all:  If you just willfully forget hard enough, you can get away with murder (See also, The Memory Hole,  Meme-nto, Strategic Forgettery, Lethe Beach Party and "We Control Matter Because We Control The Mind".)

Once again. many disreputable persons of the Liberal persuasion would waste their time and energy pointing out over and over again that There. Is. No. Tea. Party. 

But once again, who the Hell listens to the Liberals anyway? 

Several years later, both David Brooks and Joe Scarborough would finally get around to admitting that, yeah, they knew is was just the same old racist, imbecile Republican base after all and everyone had a big laugh at how they're all going straight to Hell, but at least they're getting there in really nice cars.  

Second (four steps, remember?), the leaders of the Republican Party decided before Barack Obama had even been sworn into office that their only priory would be sabotaging anything he tried to accomplish by any means necessary. Screw the wars, the economy, the unemployed and the uninsured: literally all they cared about was destroying the black guy.  From Time Magazine, August of 2012:
TIME just published “The Party of No,” an article adapted from my new book, The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era. It reveals some of my reporting on the Republican plot to obstruct President Obama before he even took office, including secret meetings led by House GOP whip Eric Cantor (in December 2008) and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (in early January 2009) in which they laid out their daring (though cynical and political) no-honeymoon strategy of all-out resistance to a popular President-elect during an economic emergency. “If he was for it,” former Ohio Senator George Voinovich explained, “we had to be against it.” 
Third, the same traitors who would spend the next eight years dynamiting anything Obama tried to do including filibustering their own bills (a sample from TPM, December, 2012) -- 
McConnell Filibusters His Own Bill To Lift Debt Ceiling
-- would then run on a platform of bitching about how it's a damn shame that nothing gets done in Washington D.C.

I know, future generations, this all seem too ludicrous to be true.  It could not possibly have been this bad, right. 

Oh yes, I assure you, it really was this bad.  And by leaps and bounds it kept getting worse because of...

...Fourth -- and of paramount importance -- is the cement that holds this whole demented juggernaut together.  The Biggest of all the Big Lies.  

Say it with me now...

Both Sides Do It.

"Both Sides Do It" is the Alpha and the Omega of political lies in modern America.  It is the first falsehood that David Brooks has turned to to prop up virtually every one of his shitty columns since the collapse of the Bush Administration...

...and the final, desperate, excuse-of-last-resort that every single wingnut in Christendom turns to when they the get themselves cornered in another otherwise inescapable a pit of their own bullshit.

It is the fraud that launched a thousand media careers, several ridiculous political "movements" and an entire radio network.  It is...
...[a] parasite-cult that empowers the Right by deflecting and diffusing its opponents. and without which the demise of the Right would be greatly accelerated.

I am speaking, of course, of The High and Holy Church of Both Siderism.

The God of The High and Holy Church of Both Siderism has ruled the American political media for most of our lives, and its deacons and cardinals and popes have made themselves wealthy and influential by spreading it doctrine everywhere.  It has smothered every honest attempt at healing what is broken in our culture, and provided the Right with a permanent alibi for every atrocity they commit. Like the Matrix, it is everywhere,  all around us. You can see it when you turn on your television.  You can hear it on the radio and read it in the paper. You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes.

It is the comforting, asphyxiating fairy tale that has been pulled over our eyes to blind us to the truth.

Unlike the Gods of the Right which demand absolute fealty to a thick catechism of warped and wicked beliefs, the God of The High and Holy Church of Both Siderism only asks its adherents to believe nothing.  To render no judgement of any kind on any act of Conservative barbarism...because out there somewhere there is probably some Dirty Hippie doing something equally terrible.   To affix "No Label" to anything, because the worst profanity against the God of The High and Holy Church of Both Siderism is the partisan wish to distinguish between apple juice and battery acid.  Between Liberals and Conservatives.

The God of The High and Holy Church of Both Siderism demands only that its acolytes sit on the sidelines and bitch incessantly about everyone equally -- to face the Beltway and whine five times a day about how equally awful and equally partisan and equally steeped in sin Both Sides are.

It is a God of the lazy and the cowardly and meretricious, all of which suits the depraved, anti-life agenda of the Right just fine, because every single time they burn down another democratic institution, they can rely on the deacons of The High and Holy Church of Both Siderism to be first on the scene. blaming the arsonists and the fire department equally.

But unlike the pantheon of the Gods of the Right, The High and Holy Church of Both Siderism has a fatal flaw, because The High and Holy Church of Both Siderism cannot exist on it' own.  It can only exist as a mathematical function -- a point midway between two extremes, one of which is wholly fictional and one of which is lethally real...
One inevitable characteristic of every lying Both Siderist is that they when they're not scrounging around for imaginary hippies to blame for half our nation's problems, they can almost always be found in the Men's Room (center stall) pleasure themselves loudly to dog-eared copies of "Hot Third Party Action!" magazine.

In fact, just as George Bush was laying clear title to Worst President Ever, guess who suddenly decided that Both Sides were a dead loss and that what Murrica really needed was a new party?

A Third Party.

Party No. 3 
David Brooks 
AUG. 10, 2006
Yep.  That guy.  
There are two major parties on the ballot, but there are three major parties in America. There is the Democratic Party, the Republican Party and the McCain-Lieberman Party.

All were on display Tuesday night.

The Democratic Party was represented by its rising force — Ned Lamont on a victory platform with the net roots exulting before him and Al Sharpton smiling just behind.

The Republican Party was represented by its collapsing old guard — scandal-tainted Tom DeLay trying to get his name removed from the November ballot. And the McCain-Lieberman Party was represented by Joe Lieberman himself, giving a concession speech that explained why polarized primary voters shouldn’t be allowed to define the choices in American politics.

The McCain-Lieberman Party begins with a rejection of the Sunni-Shiite style of politics itself. It rejects those whose emotional attachment to their party is so all-consuming it becomes a form of tribalism, and who believe the only way to get American voters to respond is through aggression and stridency.

The flamers in the established parties tell themselves that their enemies are so vicious they have to be vicious too. They rationalize their behavior by insisting that circumstances have forced them to shelve their integrity for the good of the country. They imagine that once they have achieved victory through pulverizing rhetoric they will return to the moderate and nuanced sensibilities they think they still possess.

But the experience of DeLay and the net-root DeLays in the Democratic Party amply demonstrates that means determine ends. Hyper-partisans may have started with subtle beliefs, but their beliefs led them to partisanship and their partisanship led to malice and malice made them extremist, and pretty soon they were no longer the same people.

The McCain-Lieberman Party counters with constant reminders that country comes before party, that in politics a little passion energizes but unmarshaled passion corrupts, and that more people want to vote for civility than for venom.

Both Sides Do It was and is a transparently ridiculous and easily debunked scam...

...on which the professional lives and fortunes of virtually every skeevy creative typist in the Beltway now hangs.

And once the Both Sides Do It lie took root, it became clear what the game would be from now on: to borrow a sentiment from Nick Harkaway's brilliant "Gone Away World", we are required to be perfect, while they only need to be persistent.

And brother and sisters, they are nothing if not persistent.

Practically speaking, this means that no matter how often the Left is proven to be right about the Right the media will never acknowledge it because, like apartment buildings put up by The Amazing Mystico and Janet, the structural integrity of the The High and Holy Church of Both Siderism depends entirely on its members continuing to act at all times as if the illusion were true:

And conversely, no matter how fucked-in-the-head depraved the Right becomes, before they dare to look-with-alarm at, say, the unhinged ravings of a senile racist con-man like Donald Trump, the media must always find a Liberal straw man to sacrifice to the God of Both Siderism lest they lose the lease on their temple that way.

One sterling example among thousands from David Brooks in February of 2016
If this seems like a rerun, it's because it is.   Recycling his own, shitty column from just three weeks ago, David Brooks once again brings the full weight of his status as Beltway Very Serious Pundit Number One to bear on the task of making sure that everyone one Earth believes that Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are basically the same person.
Because for the political establishment's most reliable hand-towel, unprincipled political myopia is not just a river in Egypt!

Hillary, for you the whirlwind is Bernie Sanders. For the rest of you it’s Donald Trump...

Trump has no actual policies and Sanders has little chance of getting his passed.

And yet the supporters don’t care. Sanders and Trump...

...the Trump and Sanders phenomena.

In debates Sanders is uninhibited by the constraints of reality, so his answers are always bolder. Trump speaks from the id, not from any policy paper, so his answers are always more vivid.

Many Americans feel like they are the victims of a slow-moving natural disaster. Sanders and Trump...

I’d love to see one of you counter the Trump and Sanders emotional tones with a bold shift in psychology...

Let Trump and Sanders shout, harangue and lecture...

Let them [Trump and Sanders] deliver long, repetitive and uninterrupted lectures...

Let them [Trump and Sanders] stand angry and solitary. You run as part of a team, a band of brothers...

Let them [Trump and Sanders] assert that all our problems can be solved if other people sacrifice...

Let them [Trump and Sanders] emphasize the cold relations of business (Trump) or of the state (Sanders)...

Let them [Trump and Sanders] preach pessimism...

Sanders and Trump have adopted emotional tones that are going to offend and exhaust people over time.
A quarter of a century after laboring to set this cataclysm in motion, there is now an entire generation of Americans who have never known a life unpolluted by Conservative Hate Media:  and enterprise which has metastasized to become a multi-billion dollar, multi-media behemoth with its fascist tentacles everywhere.  

A quarter of a century later, Newt Gingrich is still a degenerate and a charlatan, who still enjoys full Friends With Benefits privileges at all the major networks, and who now sits at the right hand of a senile lunatic with nuclear weapons.

A quarter of a century later, and far from delivered us from evil, the Wise American Voters have instead delivered us into the hands of Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and President Stupid.

A quarter of a century later, and the Sober Men of The Establishment now hide out in their cathedral of false equivalence and prattle about the K'rupt Duopoly, the Culture of Washington and how awful it is that Both Sides have let things get so out of hand.

And lo these many years later, a few us us still sit an a keyboard and write things like this.  But really, who the Hell listens to us Liberals anyway? 


Professional Left Podcast #394

"What monstrosities would walk the streets were some people's faces as unfinished as their minds."
-- Eric Hoffer

  • "‘That White Boy ’Bout to Lose’: The Inescapable Racial Politics of the Ga. 6th Special Election” by Jason Johnson
The Professional Left is "sponsored" by...

...and, of course, listeners like you!


Friday Night Soother

Friday Night Soother

by digby

Grab a cocktail and watch these vids.

Now watch this:

Now have another cocktail and watch them again. You'll feel


Trump interviews lawyers

Trump interviews lawyers

by digby

Sounds right to me:

His impression is just uncanny ...


Death Spiral

Death Spiral

by digby

The destruction of Medicaid in order to provide permanent, massive tax cuts for millionaires is undoubtedly the most heinous of the atrocities in the latest iteration of Trumpcare. But as Ian Millhiser at Think Progress points out, there's a lot more to it, this horrible consequence being one of them:

Let’s talk about “death spirals.”

That’s not a political term that Democratic operatives made up to scare you. “Death spiral” is actually the economic term of art for what Trumpcare will do to health insurance markets.

A death spiral is a kind of feedback loop where higher premiums cause healthy, paying customers to drop their health plans, which in turn leads to higher premiums, which in turn drives more people out of the insurance market. It’s called a “death spiral” because it often ends in the collapse of that market.

And, because we are talking about health care, it will also end in the deaths of many Americans who will no longer be able to afford care.

What is a death spiral? 

One of the most challenging problems solved by Obamacare is how to insure people with pre-existing conditions. Before Obamacare, insurers were free to deny coverage to such individuals — and this wasn’t something they did simply because they were being cruel.
The whole point of health insurance is that everyone pays into an insurance pool that they only take money out of when they need medical care. Pre-existing conditions can be quite expensive to cover — indeed, they can be more expensive than the insurer can reasonably charge in premiums.

If you load up an insurance pool with too many sick people, they start taking more money out of the pool than the health consumers are paying into it — until the whole thing collapses.

One possible solution is to simply require insurers to eat these costs, and pass a law requiring them to cover people with pre-existing conditions even if these individuals take out more money than they pay in. But such a law creates its own problem. If people can wait until they are sick to buy health coverage, people will wait until they are sick to buy health coverage. And that will leave insurers with too few healthy customers to cover the costs of their sick consumers.

The death spiral begins after an insurer raises premiums to meet this funding shortfall. Higher premiums drive out more healthy customers, which forces the insurer to jack up premiums even more, which drives out even more healthy customers, which forces the insurer to jack up premiums again.

As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg explained in the first Obamacare case to reach the Supreme Court, “in the 1990’s, several States — including New York, New Jersey, Washington, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont,” enacted laws prohibiting discrimination against people with preexisting conditions, and “the results were disastrous. ‘All seven states suffered from skyrocketing insurance premium costs, reductions in individuals with coverage, and reductions in insurance products and providers.’”

The Obamacare solution 

Obamacare solves this problem with an unpopular, but quite effective provision: the law’s so-called individual mandate. This mandate imposes higher taxes on most people who are uninsured, giving healthy people a financial incentive to buy health insurance that wards off a death spiral.

The Senate Trumpcare bill would repeal this mandate and replace it with, well, nothing.

That’s a huge problem because, while the Senate bill does weaken the law’s insurance regulations and allow states to waive some of them, it leaves in place Obamacare’s provisions prohibiting insurers from charging more to people with preexisting conditions. That’s a recipe for a death spiral.

Once the death spiral begins, things can get pretty grim, pretty quickly. When Kentucky tried protecting people with pre-existing conditions without also enacting an individual mandate, for example, nearly all insurers left its individual insurance market. In New Jersey, some premiums rose by 350 percent. In Washington, some counties had no private individual insurance coverage available at any price.

And, if the Senate Trumpcare bill becomes law, this fate could await all 50 states.

They don't care. They want their tax cuts. I'm almost of the mind that they know Trump is either going to destroy the country or at thevery least destroy the Republican party. So they have just decided to go out in a blaze of glory.

The malevolent liar speaks

The malevolent liar speaks

by digby

Which one, you ask? The Big Orange Kahuna of course, who just gave his first interview since the Lester Holt debacle to some fangirl from Fox. Taylor Link from Salon wrote it up:

“When he found out that there may be tapes out there — whether it’s governmental tapes or anything else, and who knows — I think his story may have changed. You’ll have to take a look at that because then he has to tell what actually took place at the events. And my story didn’t change — my story was always a straight story, my story always was the truth. But you’ll have to determine for yourself whether or not his story changed, but I did not tape.”

The president acknowledged on Thursday that he was not in possession of any recordings of his former FBI director. But Trump’s reasoning for saying that he did remained a mystery — until Friday, of course, when Fox News aired his interview, in which he conceded that he wanted to keep Comey honest.

Trump’s confession was especially bizarre considering part of it directly contradicted his own past statements. Trump suggested in his interview with Earhardt that his strategy worked because Comey did not change his story. Earlier this month, Trump accused Comey of lying under oath to Congress.

During a news conference with the Romanian president inside the White House Rose Garden, Trump said that Comey made false statements in his testimony and that he was willing to provide his own, truthful version of events under oath.

The interview, his first since admitting to NBC’s Lester Holt that Comey was fired over the Russia inquiry, touched on topics beyond witness tampering and collusion investigations.

Trump declares victory in “difficult” health care situation

Earhardt asked the president about the new health care bill in the Senate. Trump answered by declaring himself a legislative genius.

“Health care is a very difficult situation,” he said. “We are trying to do something in a very short time. I’ve been here for five months. Well, I’ve done in five months what other people haven’t done in years.”

In March, Trump said that a health care deal would be “easy.”

Basically he said that his threatening tweet forced Comey to change his story. That's not true. But it does confirm that he meant it as a threat.

He's delusional. Truly sick.

He also implied that Comey and Mueller are extremely close friends (not true by all accounts) and therefore Mueller is unreliable. And he added that he hopes  Pelosi doesn't step down because he wants the Republicans to be able to run against the
old bitch and win like he did when he ran against an old bitch. Well, he didn't say "old bitch" but the meaning was clear.

Lovely guy. A real pip. Makes me so proud to be an American.


Who are the terrorists?

Who are the terrorists?

by digby

A member of the Scranton Police Special Operations Group enters the woods in October 2014 near Canadensis, Pa., in a search for Eric Matthew Frein, an anti-government radical later convicted of killing a state trooper. Frein was caught after a 48-day manhunt.Credit: Butch Comegys/AP Photo/Scranton Times & Tribune

Dave Neiwert has written a vitally important piece on terrorist violence for the Center for Investigative Reporting. It won't reveal anything that most of my readers don't know in the abstract, but here is the data that shows where the real terrorist threat in America comes from:

Trump frequently had excoriated his predecessor, President Barack Obama, and his chief political opponent, Hillary Clinton, as naive, even gutless, for preferring “violent extremism” to describe the nature of the global and domestic terrorist threat.

“Anyone who cannot name our enemy is not fit to lead this country,” Trump said at one campaign speech in Ohio. During another, in Philadelphia, he drove home the attack: “We now have an administration and a former secretary of state who refuse to say ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’ ”

It was a strange place to make his point. The only Islamist terror attack in Pennsylvania over the past 15 years was committed by Edward Archer, a mentally ill man who shot and injured a police officer in early 2016, later telling investigators that he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. Far-right episodes of violent extremism were far more common.

Just two years before Trump’s Pennsylvania speech, anti-government radical Eric Matthew Frein ambushed two police officers in the township of Blooming Grove, killing one and wounding another, then led law enforcement authorities on a 48-day manhunt in the woods. (He was sentenced to death in April.)

Two months before that, police discovered that Eric Charles Smith, who ran a white supremacist church out of his home in the borough of Baldwin, had built a stockpile of some 20 homemade bombs.

In 2011, Eli Franklin Myers, an anti-government survivalist, shot two police officers, killing one, before being shot dead by state troopers in the small town of Webster. And in 2009, white supremacist Richard Poplawski opened fire on Pittsburgh police officers who had responded to a domestic dispute at his mother’s home, killing three and leaving two injured before surrendering. Poplawski, who was active on far-right websites, said he feared the police represented a plot by Obama to take away Americans’ guns.

This contrast, between Trump’s rhetoric and the reality of domestic terrorism, extends far beyond Pennsylvania. A database of nine years of domestic terrorism incidents compiled by The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute and Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting has produced a very different picture of the threat than that advanced by the current White House:  

  • From January 2008 to the end of 2016, we identified 63 cases of Islamist domestic terrorism, meaning incidents motivated by a theocratic political ideology espoused by such groups as the Islamic State. The vast majority of these (76 percent) were foiled plots, meaning no attack took place.
  • During the same period, we found that right-wing extremists were behind nearly twice as many incidents: 115. Just over a third of these incidents (35 percent) were foiled plots. The majority were acts of terrorist violence that involved deaths, injuries or damaged property.
  • Right-wing extremist terrorism was more often deadly: Nearly a third of incidents involved fatalities, for a total of 79 deaths, while 13 percent of Islamist cases caused fatalities. (The total deaths associated with Islamist incidents were higher, however, reaching 90, largely due to the 2009 mass shooting at Fort Hood in Texas.)
  • Incidents related to left-wing ideologies, including ecoterrorism and animal rights, were comparatively rare, with 19 incidents causing seven fatalities – making the shooting attack on Republican members of Congress earlier this month somewhat of an anomaly.
  • Nearly half (48 percent) of Islamist incidents in our database were sting operations, more than four times the rate for far-right (12 percent) or far-left (10.5 percent) incidents. 
  •  Yet as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch pointed out in early February, Trump has yet to acknowledge the threat of right-wing violence:
Long before the 9/11 attacks, the worst terrorist attack on American territory occurred at the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. The bomber, Timothy McVeigh, and co-conspirator Terry Nichols were unabashed radical right-wing terrorists. But check the record. You won’t hear Trump use those words. 
Instead, with his statements, policies and personnel, the president has exhibited an obsession with the Islamist threat to the homeland.

Please read the whole thing. There's a lot more. The right is in the process of creating a myth of left wing violence. As Joshua Holland points out in this piece for The Nation on the same subject:
In the wake of the mass shooting in suburban Virginia last week that left House majority whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and three others wounded, conservatives have been furiously waving the bloody shirt. With left-wing hate filling half the screen, Sean Hannity blamed Democrats, saying they “dehumanize Republicans and paint them as monsters.” Tucker Carlson claimed that “some on the hard left” support political violence because it “could lead to the dissolution of a country they despise.” Others have blamed seemingly anything even vaguely identified with liberalism for inciting the violence—from Madonna to MSNBC to Shakespeare in the Park.

This is all a truly remarkable example of projection. In the wake of the shooting, Erick Erickson wrote a piece titled, “The Violence is Only Getting Started,” as if three innocent people hadn’t been brutally murdered by white supremacists in two separate incidents in just the past month.

In the real world, since the end of the Vietnam era, the overwhelming majority of serious political violence—not counting vandalism or punches thrown at protests, but violence with lethal intent—has come from the fringes of the right. Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project says that “if you go back to the 1960s, you see all kinds of left-wing terrorism, but since then it’s been exceedingly rare.” She notes that eco- and animal-rights extremists caused extensive property damage in the 1990s, but didn’t target people.

Meanwhile, says Beirich, “right-wing domestic terrorism has been common throughout that period, going back to groups like to The Order, which assassinated [liberal talk-radio host] Alan Berg [in 1984] right through to today.” Mark Pitcavage, a senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, told NPR that “when you look at murders committed by domestic extremists in the United States of all types, right-wing extremists are responsible for about 74 percent of those murders.” The actual share is higher still, as violence committed by ultraconservative Islamic supremacists isn’t included in tallies of “right-wing extremism.”

A 2015 survey of law-enforcement agencies conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum and the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security found that the police rate antigovernment extremists as a greater threat than reactionary Islamists. The authors wrote that “right-wing violence appears consistently greater than violence by Muslim extremists in the United States since 9/11, according to multiple definitions in multiple datasets.” According to the Department of Homeland Security, “Sovereign Citizens”—fringe antigovernmentalists—launched 24 violent attacks from 2010 through 2014, mostly against law enforcement personnel. When Robert Dear shot and killed three people at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic in 2015, it became the latest in a series of bloody attacks on abortion providers dating back to Roe v. Wade in 1973. In the 30 years that followed that landmark decision, providers and clinics were targeted in more than 300 acts of violence, including arson, bombings, and assassinations, according to a study by the Rand Corporation.

But while the extreme right has held a near-monopoly on political violence since the 1980s, conservatives and Republicans are no more likely to say that using force to achieve one’s political goals is justified than are liberals and Democrats. That’s the conclusion of a study conducted by Nathan Kalmoe, a professor of political communication at the University of Louisiana. In 2010, he asked respondents whether they agreed that various violent tactics were acceptable. Kalmoe found that less than 3 percent of the population strongly agreed that “sometimes the only way to stop bad government is with physical force,” or that “some of the problems citizens have with government could be fixed with a few well-aimed bullets.” He says that while “there were tiny [partisan] variations on these specific items,” they weren’t “statistically significant on average.”

Ideology alone isn’t a significant risk factor for violence. “There’s a much stronger factor of individual personality traits that predispose people to be more aggressive in their everyday lives,” Kalmoe says, “and we see that playing out with people who engage in political violence.” Mass shooters are often found to have had histories of domestic violence, and that was true for James Hodgkinson, the shooter who attacked the congressional baseball practice in Virginia. Kalmoe says, “we often see that violent individuals have a history of violence in their personal lives. People who are abusive, or who have run afoul of the law in other ways, are more likely to endorse violence.”

Read that piece too. I don't know where all this is going but with all these right wingers armed to the teeth, the least we can do is be armed with the facts.


Trump’s self-destructive Reality Show hucksterism

Trump's self-destructive Reality Show hucksterism

by digby

I wrote about the "big reveal" on the tapes for Salon this morning:

For weeks President Donald Trump has held out the enticing possibility that there were recordings of his meetings with James Comey that would prove him to be a showboating liar for all the world to see. The suspense was killing us. Finally on Thursday, after teasing and teasing, Trump admitted that he hadn’t taped anyone but still suggested he couldn’t be sure that someone else (the National Security Agency? the Russians? a 400-pound guy in his bed?) might have been taping him in the White House.

It’s true that Trump never said outright that he had taped anyone. He just hinted at it starting with this angry tweet in the wee hours of the morning on May 12:

This was three days after he had abruptly fired Comey and the morning after The New York Times reported that the two of them had a private dinner à deux during which Trump asked for Comey’s “loyalty” and Comey demurred by saying he’d give him “honesty,” which is the last thing Trump would ever want. That Times article was Trump’s first clue that Comey wasn’t going to go away quietly.

That tweet also came the morning after Trump foolishly went on national TV and admitted to NBC News’ Lester Holt that he had fired Comey because of the Russia investigation, saying, “In fact when I decided to just do it. I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story; it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.'”

We now know that Trump also told the Russian foreign minister and ambassador the morning after Comey’s firing, “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” There’s no reason to believe that he whispered in the ambassador’s ear on the way out, “We’re in the clear, comrade.” But it’s not hard to imagine that the Russian official might have taken the president’s comments about Comey in that spirit.

All that set in motion a chain of events that led to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller and an obstruction-of-justice investigation — to go along with the existing investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government. Is he tired of all that winning yet?

Trump’s sales technique of promising to show you something bigger and better than you’ve ever seen before was developed when he was casino owner back in the ’80s and ’90s. “Come to my golden palace and you too can be a gazillionaire, just like me!” Of course, he was a terrible casino owner, caught up in money laundering and bad deals and bankruptcy for decades, but that doesn’t mean plenty of people haven’t been taken in by his promise to remake them in his image. God knows why anyone would want that, but there seems to be an endless supply of takers for Trump’s toxic snake oil.

When his plans for gambling riches finally withered away and he was deeply in debt, Trump’s sales technique morphed into the reality-show style of the 2000s such that he finally got the national celebrity attention he’d always craved with his shows “The Apprentice” and “Celebrity Apprentice.” Teasing the “big reveal” is a staple of every reality show on TV. They drop hints and show sneak peeks for weeks. They milk the dramatic moments for everything they have all season long until they finally show the much-anticipated denouement in the very last show. But the “big reveal” is often a big flop. That happens a lot in the Donald Trump show, whether on TV or in the White House.

Here are some examples of Trump’s big teases, most of which he never delivered on:

1. In 2011, he started the yearslong “investigation” of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate, promising he would reveal his findings. He never did. Last year he begrudgingly admitted that Obama had been born in the U.S. and then took credit for making him prove it.

2. Trump promised to release his tax returns as soon as an audit was completed but has never done so and has never shown any proof that an audit occurred. We await his release any day now with bated breath.

3. After reports emerged that Melania Trump had worked in the U.S. illegally (in the 1990s), he announced that his wife would give a press conference two weeks later to discuss her immigration status. We’re still waiting.

4. Donald Trump pretended to be seriously running for president several times and in 2000 even did some stumping in New Hampshire as a potential Reform Party candidate before deciding against it. In 2012, of course, he thought he could ride the birther wave until President Obama destroyed him at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. But he teased his 2016 run from that point onward. We know what the big reveal of that one was on Nov. 8.

Since then Trump has claimed that he knows things “other people don’t know” about the hacking of the election and promised to reveal it shortly after the beginning of the year. He apparently forgot about that but he worked his decision on the Paris climate accords more effectively, teasing it like the finale of “Project Runway.”

But the president got himself in serious trouble with his tweeted claim that Obama had “wiretapped” him, and we know how badly he’s damaged himself with the hint that he wiretapped the FBI director. He seems to believe that this sort of “showmanship” is something that translates well in politics. Frankly, he might be right. His followers love him and it keeps him in the press. But it’s not a big winner in the legal system, which is where “reality” drama becomes the real thing. Prosecutors and judges have less of a sense of humor about lies and intimidation tactics.

It’s hard to know how much Trump thinks any of this through. I’d guess very little: He runs on instinct. But his instincts are those of a cheap used car salesman or a TV pitchman. They were good enough to get him into the White House on a fluke, but they don’t give him the skills required to be president. Now they are causing him to create enormous problems for himself, one after another.


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