Monday, October 22, 2018

Trump's Plan

Donald Trump is warning people who plan to vote Democratic. But he also is warning all of us when he tweets
Eleven hours later, Paul Krugman responded  "If Democrats don't at least take the House, God help us. But even if they do, we'll be facing a nightmarish political scene. Republicans will claim that the election was stolen, and deny the majority's legitimacy."

Journalist Carl Bernstein said Sunday that President Trump has discussed ways to challenge the results of the midterm elections if the GOP's grasp on power slips.

During an appearance on CNN, Bernstein said his sources relayed this information to him on Friday, warning that Trump has talked about a disruption campaign if the results are close but have the Democrats taking control of the House or Senate.

"I talked to people ... in touch with the White House on Friday who believe that, if the congressional midterms are very close and the Democrats were to win by five or seven seats, that Trump is already talking about how to throw legal challenges into the courts, sow confusion, declare a victory actually, and say that the election's been illegitimate," Bernstein said after being asked if Trump's challenge to fraudulent voters was a form of voter suppression.

"That is really under discussion in the White House," he added.

Really, this is the least President Trump can do to support his party's state-by-state efforts to suppress the vote of individuals likely to pull the Democratic lever(s) though, as Krugman  recognizes, it will go beyond mere claims of fraud.

In Ohio, voters are disenfranchised if after not voting in two consecutive elections, they fail to return a notice warning them they will be purged from the rolls.

In Florida, Governor Rick Scott has virtually eliminated the right to vote of felons who have served their sentence.  

Mindful that many residents of Native American Indian tribe reservations have only a P.O. box, North Dakota has implemented a law requiring voters to present identification with a current street address. 

Georgia Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp has purged voter rolls of nearly three-quarters of a million people, and absentee ballots are being rejected on the flimsiest of grounds, including a trivial difference between the voter registration form and government documents- or the signature on the absentee ballot.   

Dodge City, Kansas, most of whose residents are Latino, has moved its one polling site outside of town, more than a mile from the nearest bus stop.

These are on top of voting restrictions in numerous states, nearly all of them Republican-controlled, implemented before 2018. (Note inclusion of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. That didn't work out so well for Hillary Clinton.)

In an obscene display of bothsiderism, the mainstream media dutifully reported GOP claims of "mob rule" when Eric Holder said "when they go low, we kick them."   But he was speaking especially of voter suppression and gerrymandering, both reducing the impact of minority voters. Donald Trump has now told us what he and his minions have in mind if the GOP doesn't retain control of both chambers.  Democrats need to be ready, kick back, and not aim for the shin.

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Sunday, October 21, 2018

No Thank You, Saturday Night Live

Six days ago, Bill Carter, a media analyst for CNN, noted that the Saturday Night Live takedown of Brett Kavanaugh starring Mat Damon failed to prevent Kavanaugh's approval because of its audience. Most of the program's viewers are on the left and already opposed to Kavanaugh and

Nothing SNL does is going to break through the counter-media of Fox News, where the prevailing entertainment culture is considered prejudiced and exclusionary, and so, dismissible. The laughs are impossible to hear over the ongoing dissonance.

Point well-taken, though there are two additional reasons:despite a credible job by Damon, the skit wasn't particularly funny, and Senator Collins had her mind made up at the jump.

Implicit in Carter's analysis is an assumption that the Saturday Night classic is scrupulously left-wing, and hence pro-Democratic.

But notwithstanding the political preferences of the actors, SNL did not damage candidate Donald Trump's (political) health. Recently, The Hill reported

Former “Saturday Night Live” actor Taran Killam said the show’s creator and executive producer Lorne Michaels told the cast to tone down criticism of then-GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump and find ways to “make him likable.”

Killam was included on an episode of the “I Was There Too” podcast released Tuesday to discuss what it was like on the “SNL” set before the 2016 presidential election.

The comedian, who played Trump on the show before his departure in August of 2016, said that Michaels was “so specific” about what the NBC cast could say about Trump.

He recalled Michaels telling the cast not to “vilify him.”

“He’s like any New York taxi driver ... He just says whatever it is he’s thinking,” Killam recalled Michaels saying. “You have to find a way in that makes him likable.”

Trump was brought in as a guest host for the show in 2015, before the Republican primaries.

“One of the things I do respect about Lorne is he is a very good host to his guests,” Killam said on the podcast....

“I don't necessarily put so much weight into [the idea of] Trump hosting ‘SNL’ helping him become president, but there's definitely something where it normalizes him and it makes it OK for him to be part of the conversation,” Killam told NPR in the interview.

(The video below is from one year ago, with emphasis not on making Trump likable but on giving him the opportunity to host one program.)

Back in September, 2006, when we hoped Saturday Night Live would help destroy Trump as it did Sarah Palin, Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri observed

Saturday Night Live’ will certainly matter from now until the election a great deal.

“It’s among the things I can’t control,” Palmieri said with a hearty laugh. “‘Saturday Night Live’ — among the things I can’t control.”

That turned out to be quite prescient because Lorne Michaels was the only one who could control Saturday Night Live. He did, and with his assistance we got President Donald J. Trump.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Made For Each Other

Blogger Spocko recognizes that the most ardent supporters at Trump rallies cannot be shamed because they have little sense of shame. However

the Trump advance team only puts real supporters behind him so now is the time to name them.

The people who let out their inner misogyny, bigotry, racism and sexism when supporting Trump's comments need to be named now when Trump appears to be winning. Because soon Trump and the views he expresses will experience a huge setback.  The excuse "we won, so it doesn't matter" will no longer provide an excuse.

We know that the excuse will be used. A similar one is popular nowadays among (the few) individuals who have had second thoughts about Trump now that he has misbehaved as President, conveniently claiming that they didn't like Trump but voted for him only because of "Hillary."   (In most cases, that is, in the true sense of the word, unbelievable.)

Moreover, Spocko realizes

Trump's goal is to link winning with his misogynist views. Because greed is his driving force, he also wants people who agree with his views on women, business, and truth to believe it will MAKE them money. (This is why he hid his father's constant influx of cash to shore up his massive business failures.)

He also wants people who agree with him.... to believe it will make them money.   It's no coincidence that President Trump's personal pastor is Paula White, queen of the prosperity gospel, who gave the invocation at Trump's inauguration.

That would be the Paula White who has been married thrice and declared bankruptcy once, under suspicious circumstances. Paula White, a heretic, con woman, hustler, and high school graduate who has been ordained by no one and is best 

known for her controversial strand of Christianity known as the prosperity gospel, advocates of which teach that living as a faithful Christian will result in not only eternal life but also abundance of material wealth on earth. White said in a 2007 televised event, “Anyone who tells you to deny yourself is from Satan.”

But such views are controversial among many Christians, particularly given the instruction by Jesus in Matthew’s gospel: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

"Paula White is a charlatan and recognized as a heretic by every orthodox Christian, of whatever tribe," tweeted Russell Moore, orthodox Christian and president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, in June of 2016.

Believe the right things and give to her empire, Paula White preaches, and God will recognize you as holy while material blessings flow to you.   On the cover of White's 2009 book "Dare to Dream," the future President wrote "read this, and you'll be ready for great success."   One of the greatest practitioners of the Prosperity Gospel hustle, Paula White taught Donald Trump welI, and he is working the con on his supporters, hidden but in plain sight.

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Friday, October 19, 2018

More Than Face Value

Earlier this month, CNN reported

"In their quest for power, the radical Democrats have turned into an angry mob," Trump said at a rally in Topeka, Kansas, on Saturday. "You saw that today with the screaming and the shouting, not from the 200 people or less -- you know what? Those people, they couldn't fit in the front row."

"You don't hand matches to an arsonist, and you don't give power to an angry left-wing mob," he added. "That's what they have become. The Democrats have become too extreme and too dangerous to govern. Republicans believe in the rule of law, not the rule of the mob."

Major Senate Republican snowflakes joined in the cry, with former presidential candidate Marco Rubio, Judiciary Committee member Orrin Hatch, Judiciary Committee chairperson Charles Grassley, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell themselves all decrying "mobs."

That was one or two days before a Trump rally in Iowa in which supporters chanted "lock her up" at the mention of Senator Dianne Feinstein's name. (Iowa is one of those states whose lovely voters, we're told, were smart enough to vote for Barack Obama and against Hillary Clinton.)

Then in Missoula, Montana Thursday evening, Trump declared

But (Representative) Greg (Gianforte) is great- and never wrestle him. You understand? Never. Any guy that can do a body-slam- he's my kind of guy.

I shouldn't say that because- there's nothing to be embarrassed about...

I had heard that he he body-slammed a reporter and he was way up. He was way up and I said "oh, that was the day of the election or two days before- and I said "oh, this is terrible, he is going to lose the election." And I said "wait a minute. I know Montana pretty well and it might help him." And it did.

The obvious (and accurate) takeaway is that President Trump is encouraging violent attacks upon the media, particularly revolting after the Saudis evidently murdered a journalist, a legal resident of the USA whom Trump criticized as not "a citizen of this country, for one thing."

But... wait. Trump did not deny that Gianforte had committed an illegal act nor justified the behavior. He stated that he believed Montanans would reject a body-slamming congressional candidate. Then, he acknowledged, they did not.

It was a subtle- admittedly, very subtle- dig at Montana voters.  The guy assaulted someone,Trump believed voters would reject the assailant, but voila! They don't, and he is elected.

This obviously isn't the most dangerous aspect of a statement meant to encourage violence, and particularly against reporters, by a man who has consistently condemned the press and encouraged violence. However, it is another example of how master magician Donald Trump criticizes or ridicules a group- Christian evangelicals and military veterans, most notably- who proceed to give him their undying support.  "My New Order" did not go unread.

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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Daring Us To See Through Him

He doesn't need "to try a bit more." Otherwise, Joe Scarborough nailed it when sidekick Willie Geist stated Thursday morning, "so Joe, it was pretty clear what the president said. He said if we win, it was me. If we lose, it wasn't.

The "Joe" in "Morning Joe" replied

It's in the transcript. I mean, he's not even trying anymore. Look at the Saudi bill- he tells his own people repeatedly during the campaign rallies "oh, I made hundred of millions of dollars from the Saudis. I got so rich off the Saudis." 

And then he talks to poor Jonathan Lemire- I feel so sorry for him because he didn't get any sleep last night watching the Red Sox. And then- it's in the transcript! And he thinks the next day he can say "fake news" and the people who support him are so stupid and so dumb and it's insulting to them that he thinks that they can't just read the transcript and see that he's lying through his teeth. He really- he really needs to try a bit more. At this point, it's just become embarrassing.

Donald Trump doesn't have to step up, because it worked so well for him that he became President. During the primary campaign, he spoke of "my little wine and my little cracker." He never has asked God for forgiveness, he boasted, and once referred to "Second Corinthians," which any Sunday School student could tell him is wrong.

Asked whether he preferred the Old or New Testament, he replied "probably equal" instead of "neither more than the other, they're both the word of God" or "the old Testament conceals, the New Testament reveals" God's greatness, or glory, or love for mankind. It's simple, biblically sound, and relatively inoffensive.

He refused to admit to a favorite Biblical passage, instead of saying merely "John 3:16" (for God so loved the world....), which every football fan over the age of 30 has at least once seen on a banner at a game.

He didn't even try- yet was elected President. Avoiding a sexually-transmitted disease in the 1990s, he bragged was "like Vietnam, sort of. It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave solider." Trivializing combat, he would have been expected to offend veterans in a nation with people telling soldiers and veterans "thank you for your service." Yet, he defeated Hillary Clinton by 2 to 1 among veterans. His remark, never retracted or even clarified, might have offended Christians also, but evidently many admire Trump, who knew what he wanted what he wanted from women, and got it. A winner.

Donald Trump's supporters aren't especially stupid or dumb, though many lack self-respect. But as Scarborough suggested, Trump believes they are stupid or dumb, once having declared "I love the poorly educated." 

And so President Trump does not have "to try a bit more" to appear honest.  Few of his supporters value honesty or integrity, and he can go on brazenly lying, boasting, or offending people, all the while amazed that they haven't caught on to him.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Public Relations Coup In The Making

Stop it. Stop it right now.

The Washington Post's Kristian Coates Ulrichsen starts strong with "The unexplained disappearance and presumed killing of Jamal Khashoggi brings attention to the security crackdown in Saudi Arabia since Mohammed bin Salman (“MBS”) became crown prince in June 2017. "

But then she refers to "The ruling circle around MBS"  and the "roundup of dozens of influential business executives and ruling-family members by MBS."  She notes "Khashoggi’s presence in Washington represented a credible counter to the image presented by MBS."  However, "The entourage around the prince invested heavily in burnishing MBS’s credentials with the Trump White House as it took office"

We learn about both "the war in Yemen and the blockade of Qatar, both associated closely with MBS," as well as "the time of mounting questioning of MBS’s approach to domestic and international policymaking." Ulrichsen speaks of the slow "buildup of opposition to MBS’s many other mistimed ventures" and "the pressure on Saudi Arabia and MBS, in particular."

Further, "the White House’s closeness to MBS has been controversial as the crown prince has made one mistake after another and has delivered little result" while "King Salman bin Abdul Aziz overrode MBS," sympathetic to the Israeli cause.

That would be eight(8) references to "MBS." Distressingly, however, Ulrichsen is not alone. David Ignatius' piece in The Washington Post entitled "MBS's rampaging anger will not silencequestions about Jamal Khashoggi" included one reference to "Mohammed bin Salman" and 15 to "MBS." There are two reference to "Mohammed bin Salman" and nine(9)-beyond the headline- to "MBS" in the Columbia Journalism Review's "Reexamining coverage of MBS after Khashoggi's disappearance."

There is even Malcolm Nance(!), who tweeted
Continually referring to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia as "MBS" can soften his image and turn him into an appealing fellow.

The most popular set of initials in the USA is arguably "LBJ," usaually a reference not to the 36th President but to inarguably the greatest player in the NBA, arguably the best player of his generation, and probably one of the three greatest hoopsters ever.

LeBron James is referred to as "LBJ" because he is, well, LeBron James. He neither ordered, nor acquiesced in, the murder of a Saudi journalist and legal resident of the United States. He does not preside over an Islamist dictatorship, nor has he unleashed a powerful bombing campaign slaughtering Yemeni civilians (video from 4/18).

Allowing LeBron James to become"LBJ" has done little damage other than possibly skewing results of the tired talk-radio question "who was better- LeBron James or Michael Jordan? (the correct answer: "Wilt Chamberlain").  But reshaping the image of a mass murderer by changing Mohammed bin Salman into MBS may do so.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Crooked Baby

In a battle- rather, a minor skirmish among apparent allies- there are slightly competing explanations for President Trump's cave-in to the Saudis over the apparent murder of Jamal Khashoggi:

I think we must add the adjective "Saudi-enriched"

— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) October 14, 2018

The law of parsimony, or at least Will Bunch, suggests that Abramson is correct. Bunch links us to an article he wrote five months ago in which he explained

Trump stunned his own foreign policy team— including then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis — when he tweeted that Qatar is a sponsor of terrorism and seemingly endorsed an economic and political blockage of the tiny, oil-rich nation organized and led by two powerful neighbors, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, or UAE.

A few months later, people who suspect the worst about Trump and his minions learned a possible motive that was almost too cynical to comprehend. Not long before Team Trump switched gears on Qatar, key officials from the emirate had met with Charles Kushner — father of Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared, who's in charge of Trump's Middle East portfolio — to discuss a massive Qatar-funded bailout of 666 Fifth Ave., the debt-laden Manhattan skyscraper that was threatening to sink the Kushner family real estate empire. But the Qataris rejected the deal — just weeks before the policy about-face. Whatever actually happened, the appearance was simply awful.

It also seems not to have been the full story. This weekend, the New York Times published a stunning report about a plan floated by a longtime emissary for the Saudis and the UAE in early August 2016, when Trump had just grabbed the GOP nomination but faced an uphill campaign against Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump Jr., aide Stephen Miller and Erik Prince, founder of the notorious mercenary outfit once know as Blackwater, listened intently as the emissary offered Team Trump millions of dollars in assistance, including a covert social-media campaign, to help Trump win that would be run by a former Israeli spy who specializes in psychological warfare, or psywar.

And then there is this:
Well, o.k. However, in the interview conducted on Thursday (broadcast on Sunday) by CBS' Lesley Stahl, the President was asked why he says he "fell in love" with Kim Jong-un, Trump replied. "Sure. I know all these things. I mean- I'm not a baby."

Asked what his "biggest surprise" has been as president, Trump responded. "Okay. So I always used to say the toughest people are Manhattan real estate guys and blah, blah. Now I say they're babies."  To a follow-up question, he remarked "They're babies, the political people."Asked whether like his wife he distrusts some people in the White House, Trump replied "I think I'm guarded anyway. But I'm not saying I trust everybody in the White House. I'm not a baby. It's a tough business."

I'm not a baby... Now i say they're babies.... They're babies, the political people.... I'm not a baby.

If Donald J. Trump is not a baby, he is something very close.  Though holding few if any cards in any confrontation, Riyadh threatened to retaliate against the USA if it responds to Khashoggi's murder.  The President, going beyond the Kingdom's suggestion that it may have been a kidnapping attempt that got out of hand, then suggested the possibility of "rogue killers."

A bully, Trump is a guy who is easily rolled. And that makes it difficult, despite the considerable evidence that Donald Trump is selling out to the Saudis for his family's financial gain, to discount an additional motivation. He is a baby who is letting pipsqueaks threaten the USA. This is not only an extremely greedy individual, but one who asserted "you're fired" enough that it was long before the realization sank in that the baby himself very easily intimidated.

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Trump's Plan

Donald Trump is warning people who plan to vote Democratic. But he also is warning all of us when he tweets All levels of governme...