Saturday, March 31, 2018

The Man Behind The Myth

The late conservative New York City talk show host Bob Grant was well known for frequently rant of “get off my phone, you fake, you phony, you fraud."  Though the target of his diatribes was invariably someone of the left, his diatribe against individuals whom he accused  of being "a fake, a phony, and a fraud" could never have been more appropriate than if it were directed at the current President of the USA.

University of Buffalo psychologist Shira Gabriel, who led a study of the impact of what is described here as "fourteen seasons of carefully edited prime-time exposure" for Donald J. Trump, found that many viewers developed a

"parasocial bond" with the host- a one-way relationship in which you feel close to a celebrity you have never met....... 

Trump's television persona, like that of Arnold Schwarzenegger (who was ultimately elected governor of California), was "likable and powerful," they note.

"He alone made the decision of who would stay or go ... and he was able to make the decision fairly and quickly"—qualities one would like to see in a president. Relatively few reality TV personalities can say the same.

Of course, the key is that "The Apprentice" was a "reality show,"not a realistic show. Even the blissfully unobservant should be aware of that now. Earlier this month

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson learned he was fired Tuesday only from a tweet by his boss, President Donald Trump, NBC News reported, citing State Department officials.

And to add insult to injury, Tillerson was basically an afterthought in that tweet, which first introduced Trump's new chosen top diplomat, CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

It is, in whatever variant, the President's modus operandi. This past week now-ex Veterans Administration Secretary David

Shulkin said during an interview with MSNBC that he spoke on the phone to Trump on Wednesday about needing to focus on polices to help the VA.

“We spoke about the progress that I was making, what I needed to do from a policy perspective to make sure that we‘re fixing the issues in VA,” Shulkin said. “He was very focused, he was very inquisitive about the things we were working on, making sure we were focused on the job at hand.“

MSNBC host Chris Hayes asked if Trump “made no mention of the fact that he was about to terminate you,” to which Shulkin said, “That’s correct.”

Ten weeks ago we had learned

President Donald Trump is reportedly displeased with Chief of Staff John Kelly’s recent comments about the Republican’s long championed border wall and how the commander-in-chief’s views on immigration have “evolved,” according to media reports....

Trump had been displeased with Kelly for some time, and Axios had recently reported

that Kelly could catch the president’s ire for presenting himself as the man behind the curtain. A source told the publication that Kelly could be going down the road taken by former White House chief political strategist Steve Bannon, who took credit for helping Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton and was dubbed “The Great Manipulator.”

“Kelly has finally ventured into Steve Bannon territory when it comes to trying to create the perception that he’s the ‘great manipulator,’ saving the country from Trump’s ignorance,” the unnamed source told Axios. “The difference is, Steve tried to develop that reputation in off-the-record conversations with reporters. Kelly did it openly on the country’s most-watched cable network. It’s the subtle difference between hubris and arrogance.”

He still does not want Kelly around. Earlier this month

Trump suggested to others outside the White House that he would leave the chief of staff position open. He would then receive direct reports from a handful of top aides, in a set-up that would resemble how he operated the Trump Organization. 

Trump has reportedly tabled the concept for the time being. 

But the chief of staff cannot fire himself. The President must do it and he finds it very, very difficult to fire anyone himself (especially in person), as Shulkin discovered. (Fearful, he also will not criticize Putin if Vladimir might hear him.)  Firing a (retired) general is doubly difficult, so if Kelly were instead to resign, Trump would be more excited than his first night with Karen McDougal.

Mired in real life, however, the "you're fired" fella has a problem because the words "you're fired" get stuck in his throat.   Nevertheless, the left may continue to bail him out.  "He's a bully" they cry out, failing to understand that this act is what catapaulted him onto the stage initially and played a major role in his election.  It sets him apart as a take charge, decisive guy who always is in control, and perceived as a winner.

"The Apprentice" portrayed Trump as "likeable and powerful," Gabriel noted. It is now up to Team Patriot to undermine this false bravado, to reveal that the emperor has no clothes. Big hands notwithstanding, he must be unmasked as a fake, a phony, a fraud.

HAPPY EASTER                                                                           HAPPY PASSOVER                                                         

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Friday, March 30, 2018

The Excrement Of A Bull

On Tuesday, MSNBC's Chris Hayes interviewed David Brody, Chief Political Correspondent of  the Christian Broadcasting Network and author of "The Faith of Donald J. Trump," which Hayes noted must be a short book.

Arguing that Donald Trump has been transformed while President into a God-fearing man, Brody maintained

You can Google it, Chris. I interviewed him in 2015 in August – excuse me, September of 2015 and he said he does ask God for forgiveness. He`s talk about that. Now, look, that`s his word. I mean, I`m not God –

So we (by which I mean I) "Googled it" and found something even more interesting than Brody's claim.

Two months earlier, In June of 2015, Trump famously appeared at a gathering featuring such organizations as the Family Research Council, Liberty University, and the National Organization For (opposite-sex) Marriage. Although at the reverse of an atheistic, secular, or theologically ambivalent group, when Trump was asked whether he ever asks for forgiveness for his actions he conceded

I am not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don't think so," he said. "I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don't bring God into that picture. I don't.

Three months later, in the interview (video, below) to which David Brody evidently was referring, Brody (at 6:10) asked Trump "Do you believe it is important to ask God for forgiveness?" The latter responded

Well, I do. I think it's great. I consider communion to be a very important thing. When I go to church and I take communion I consider that asking for forgiveness in my own way. I do think it's a great thing and I do think it's an important thing. It makes you feel good.

Brody's assertion thirty-one months later that "I interviewed him.... and he said he does ask God for forgiveness" is as inaccurate as possible without meeting the formal definition of a "lie."  Donald Trump did not say that he asked for forgiveness for anything he says or does, let alone for specific statements or actions. He contended he is "asking for forgiveness in my own way."

There is no Christian- Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, or even unafilliated- who ever would qualify the assertion that she asks for forgivenss with the qualifying "in my own way." None.   One does not ask for forgiveness in any special, unique way. She asks God for forgiveness- period.  It may be for all of the sins she has committed, or for ones specified, but it is forgiveness from sin, and the objective is not to "make you feel good."

Prayer is an acknowledgment of sin, commonly accompanied by discomfort, which may itself be evidence of a repentent heart. Notwithstanding what the President believes, it reminds us of what we have done and is not intended to make the sinner feel good or to lay the groundwork for futher commission of sin. Christians would typically agree "the primary purpose of prayer is to change us! But either way, the chief objective remains the same: to glorify God in any and every situation."

David Brody knows this. He knows also that the purpose of communion is not to ask for forgiveness, but rather to "reflect on Christ's sacrifice and look forward to his return."

Aside from being unacquainted- understandably- of the ins and outs of the September, 2015 Brody/Trump chat, Chris Hayes conducted a very skillful interview. However, it is extraordinarily difficult to anticipate the twists and turns of an evangelical conservative's rationalization of the acts or statements of a Republican politician. 

In 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV) (probably "Two Chronicles" to Trump), we learn

You were sorry and humbled yourself before God when you heard his words against this city and its people. You humbled yourself and tore your clothing in despair and wept before me in repentance. And I have indeed heard you, says the Lord.

Donald Trump does not seem to understand that this is the prayer God hears because, as we read here, "God wants to hear sincerity in our prayer, not vanity. As we pray, let's determine to stay steadfastly humble before the Lord."

Ironically, the author is Hannah Goodwyn writing on the website of the..... Christian Broadcasting Network.

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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Aye, Aye Captain

"It could have been worse" tweeted Will Bunch Thursday above this famous photograph:

It may be unwise to disagree with a journalist wise enough to have recently written a column entitled 'Race Realism': How Teve Bannon, Cambridge Analytica modernized white supremacy to elect Trump.

However, it would have been far better if  President Grump instead had nominated Dr. Harold Bornstein to be the next director of the Veterans Administration.

You remember Dr. Bornstein, who in August of 2016 wrote that candidate Trump would "be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency." Unless Bornstein doubles as a presidential historian or has personally evaluated each president in his roughly 240 years of life, he did not write the letter, which is almost certain.

Harold Bornstein knows something about President Trump. It may pertain to Trump's physical health, his mental health, or his past, but he knows something.  He wrote a bizarre letter and is arguably slightly bizarre himself and would have faced an extremely difficult confirmation process.  In the unlikely event he would have been approved, the undying loyalty of a doctor who claimed "I think I picked up his kind of language and then just interpreted it to my own" would be suspect.

Rather, the President cleverly nominated a member of  the United States armed forces,  a rear admiral who has demonstrated the loyalty we typically witness from a military officer, a physician to presidents Bush and Obama who was promoted by President Trump.  Like Colin Powell in the Bush Administration and John Kelly in this administration, there is every reason to expect Dr. Ronny Jackson to be a loyal soldier, perhaps even a cheerleader for his Commander-in-Chief (the latter his status if Jackson does not resign from the Navy prior to taking on his new position).

Unlike someone such as Bornstein, Jackson can be depended upon and is at least a reasonably good bet to be confirmed. But as with Bornstein, Jackson knows a thing or two.   Additionally, Trump probably views Dr. Jackson as President Lyndon B. Johnson viewed FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, of whom he once stated "it's probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in."

In January, Bornstein had given Trump a glowing assessment- and not only of his physical health, as unlikely as that is. Additionally, CNN noted

"I have absolutely no concerns about his cognitive ability," Jackson said, noting that Trump scored at 30 out of 30 on the Montreal Cognitive Assessment test.

Trump regularly "speaks his mind," Jackson said, and the doctor "found no reason whatsoever to think that the President has any issues whatsoever with his thought process."

The Montreal Cognitive Assessment Test is not only a well-known tool but is available online for everyone, including the President, to practice before he takes it. Golly gee wilickers! Donald Trump himself had requested beforehand that he be given such a test!

There are other reasons President Trump tapped Dr. Jackson for this important position. (Loyalty is not one of them, unless "Jackson" is short for "Kushner" or "Trump.")  As a good Republican, Trump wants to privatize everything in sight, very likely including the Veterans Administration, which would become more politically viable when Jackson proves incapable of administering a government agency. Further, the President appears in awe of everything military, including parades, and yearns to be seen as military himself.

Certainly, Will Bunch did not mean to suggest that Dr. Jackson was a good choice or even that Dr. Bornstein was in the running. But Donald Trump was sufficiently canny to get elected President, and his motive(s) for choosing Dr. Jackson is more than a little suspicious.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Won't Concede The Obvious

Some of us were amazed that after the Access Hollywood tape was aired, Donald Trump's standing in the polls against Hillary Clinton dropped but rebounded quite nicely.

Our naivete is understandable because Americans claim to value integrity in their elected officials. In a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll conducted after the Stormy Daniels interview on 60 Minutes

91 percent said honesty is “very important“ for elected officials to embody in their personal life in order to carry out their official duties. Seventy-five percent said the same about morality. On the question of extramarital affairs, 80 percent said they were morally wrong. You probably know what comes next:

Despite all that, when asked directly about the Daniels scandal, nearly half of voters say it doesn't change how they view Trump.

"The Stormy Daniels scandal has had little discernible impact on voter opinions of President Trump this month, "said Morning Consult Co-Founder and Chief Research Officer Kyle Dropp. "In this week's poll, 46 percent of voters said the Stormy Daniels matter made no difference in their view of President Trump, compared to 39 percent who said the same in early March."

When Ms. Stephanie Clifford was interviewed on Sunday night, she appeared dressed relatively conservatively, seemed older and more mature than in the photos we've seen of her, and stuck to her version of  events. Yet voters find the probability that Donald Trump had an (limited) affair with a pornographic movie actress- whose voice his team is trying to suppress- less relevant than they initially did.

There is an obvious truth or two here, which Politico and virtually every organ in the traditional, "liberal" media ignore.  When overwhelming majorities of people say they want their politicians to be faithful to their spouses and to be honest and moral, many are themselves not being honest.

The "Time's Up" and "Me Too" movements have won over many people, presumably mostly men. Most individuals directly or indirectly acquainted with sexual harassment or assault, presumably mostly women, did not have to be won over.

However, there are many other voters who remain unmoved. And it's very likely that there is a backlash brewing- fortunately not one which will nullify the movement- that will unfortunately take its toll.  It may not be this week, this month, or even this year, but it will happen.

Most of them believe Stormy Daniels. Even among those who don't, a substantial number believes that when so many individuals (women, in this case) say similar things (video below from 10/16), they're not all lying.

Sure, when Democrats are in power, people will care about the personal behavior of politicians- but only because their outrage will be stoked by Republicans. For now, though, the mainstream media will dutifully report that the American people realize that Donald Trump is not the ethical, sexually responsible public official people say they want.

Nonetheless, that "liberal," supposedly anti-Trump media will not acknowledge of sizeable chunks of its constituency- the American people- their view of sexual misbehavior generally: 1) they are lying; and 2) seventeen months after the Access Hollywood tape and five months after birth of "Me Too," they simply don't care.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Not That He Isn't An S.O.B.

"Anti-rape advocate" Wagatwe Wanjuki of Daily Kos cautions us not  to consider her criticism of Joe Biden in any "way a personal attack on Biden or a suggestion to completely ban him from the court of public opinion."  She notes the former vice-president, rightfully condemning Donald Trump, recently stated

A guy who ended up becoming our national leader said, 'I can grab a woman anywhere and she likes it.’ 

They asked me if I’d like to debate this gentleman, and I said no. I said, 'If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.'

I've been in a lot of locker rooms my whole life. I'm a pretty damn good athlete. Any guy who talked that way was usually the fattest, ugliest S.O.B. in the room.

While condemning Trump, Wanjuki explains

There are a lot of cultural norms behind why society is still overwhelmingly complacent about rape culture. One of them is at the core of Biden’s own “locker room talk”: toxic masculinity. Toxic masculinity says the only way to be a man is to be violent, emotionless, and dominate women. The idea that boys would handle hearing a teammate brag about sexual assault by physically assaulting him is a manifestation of that....

Giving us a short, helpful history lesson, Wanjuki adds

If this was an attempt to talk about how things were back in the day, don’t believe the idea that sexual assault was less prevalent during Biden and Trump’s adolescence. Rates of rape have been declining for decades. We’re hearing more victim stories—not because of sexual violence, but because we’re increasingly creating a world where survivors’ words, the most powerful tool against rape culture, can be heard. 

However, there is an additional reason to question Biden's response to the Molester-In-Chief.

It is simply not true.   Joe Biden, a proud Catholic, has been doing penance for several years for having enabled the GOP minority on the Senate Judiciary Committee to trash Anita Hill and get Clarence Thomas on the United States Supreme Court. It is unlikely that a young Mr. Biden, less sympathetic to women's issues than he is currently, would have challenged anyone to a fight for making a misogynistic, violent remark. 

Very few- if any- guys would have, given the era and the chance the confrontation would have escalated out of control. A young man might have gone upside the head of another man who said something as bad or similar about his girlfriend. But it's a safe bet that he would have done little if anything about a fellow who spoke as generally as did Trump.

Echoing most feminists and experts in the field of sexual violence in recent years, "rape is about power, not sex. His (Trump's) choice to publicly humiliate his victims emphasizes that." However, rape is defined as "unlawful sexual activity and usually sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against a person's will..." Hence, rape is about both power and sex, with the claim that it is about only power an overreaction to the long-held, dangerously faulty, assumption that it is merely a sexual crime.

Still, Wanjuki gets it mostly right, criticizing Joe Biden's "locker room trash talk" and reminding us that our heightened concern about sexual violence reflects not an increase of the behavior, but creation of a culture in which we understand that a victim must no longer be silenced..

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Monday, March 26, 2018

Still In The Dark

The married president of the world's greatest superpower, the United States of America, allegedly picked up pornographic movie actress Stormy Daniels at a golf tournament, took her to his hotel room, was spanked, and had unprotected sexual intercourse with Daniels.

Once the leader of the free world, he previously had lamented that he could not date his own daughter and allegedly told Stephanie Clifford "Wow, you-- you are special. You remind me of my daughter."

Reportedly, President Trump wanted to continue seeing Ms. Daniels/Clifford, and not to discuss real estate deals in New York City. After the affair ended and she sold her story to a magazine, Stormy/Stephanie , in a parking garage with her daughter, allegedly was threatened by a man remarking "That's a beautiful little girl. It'd be a shame if something happened to her mom. "

In the fall of 2016, Daniels/Clifford was pursued to sell her story. Instead, she took $130,000 in return for signing a non-disclosure agreement with Michael Cohen, the President's fixer, who once stated 

If somebody does something Mr. Trump doesn't like, I do everything in my power to resolve it to Mr. Trump's benefit. If you do something wrong, I'm going to come at you, grab you by the neck and I'm not going to let go until I'm finished. 

Incomprehensibly, Politico's Michael Calderone labeled this a  "lengthy  segment." It was not a lengthy supplement, but a sketchy one, with CBS unwilling even to devote all of 60 Minutes to the interview.  (A segment about a young NBA superstar  from Greece followed.) Calderone wrote

Cooper said on “60 Minutes Overtime” — an online CBS piece that accompanied the television interview — that “there are many, many tawdry details which we did not include in the story because it's just, you know, that's not our interest.”

“For us, it wasn't so much ‘there was an affair,’” Cooper added. “That's not as much the headline. For us, it's everything that has happened since and how we've gotten to this point.”

Alert Bill Clinton, who was impeached because he lied about a sexual encounter.  The current President of the USA allegedly had an affair, and CBS should have left  to the viewers' discretion to evaluate Clifford's story.

A talented interviewer unencumbered by qualms about sex would have asked the interviewee- who said she was physically uninterested in Trump- why she had followed Trump to his hotel room.. He would have asked whether she knew the reason he engaged in unprotected sex. Those aren't questions of prurient interest nor "slut-shaming." It's the President of the USA and Anderson Cooper is regarded as a legitimate journalist who should not be embarrassed to ask follow-up questions.

Of course, there were other leads to pursue. Clifford claimed not to know who threatened her but would recognize him instantly if she saw him. She might have been asked about the individual's race, height, body frame, even what he was wearing.

But she was not, for whatever reason, which leaves the possibility that the Russian government may be blackmailing the President of the United States with information denied the American public.

We don't know, however, whether Cooper failed, the network allocated insufficient time, or there was an agreement between lawyer Michael Avenatti and CBS. Nor do we know whether the Kremlin has more information about the President than Americans do. We deserve to know far more than we do, and the 60 Minutes telecast did nothing to change that.

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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Low-Hanging Fruit

Two years ago, Irin Carmon was understandably alarmed because women had been prosecuted for alleged violation of anti-abortion statues. In Indiana, Purvis Patell was charged by prosecutors with feticide after ordering abortion pills online."  In Tennessee, Anna Yocca had "used a coat hanger to try to induce an abortion and later gave birth to a living chiled." And in Pennsylvania, Jennifer Whalenn was prosecuted "for ordering pills online so her sixteen year old daughter could end her pregnancy."

As the use of online telemedicine service to obtain an abortion grows- as it has in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland- the issue of punishing women who undergo the procedure will take on added importance.

For now, however, a much more common assault on women is the continuing effort to undermine Roe vs. Wade. Rewire explains that, in the large and politically pivotal state of Ohio (video below from 9/17 at abortion clinic)

Republicans are once again proposing an unconstitutional ban on abortion care, as lawmakers have introduced a bill that would lead to the “abolition of abortion in the state of Ohio.”

The bill is part of a trend among GOP state lawmakers to pass legislation that would challenge the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, with the goal of creating a case allowing the Supreme Court to revisit legal protections for abortion care.

Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said in a statement that the legislation is part of an effort by “anti-choice extremists” to target Roe....

HB 565, sponsored by state Reps. Ron Hood (R-Ashville) and A. Nino Vitale (R-Urbana), would prohibit the termination of a pregnancy by “any method, including, but not limited to, chemical methods, medical methods, and surgical methods.”

A further problem persists, one in which Republicans who insist that abortion is killing insist on holding one group of individuals responsible while the other is held blameless:

The GOP bill would allow physicians and those who undergo the common medical procedure to be charged with murder, which is punishable by life imprisonment or the death penalty. The lawmakers circulated a co-sponsor request for the bill in September, in which they criticized the legislation for passing abortion restrictions as “regulating evil” and that it was time to “abolish abortion in its entirety.”

Deadset against abortion rights and intent on ending the alleged "evil" of reproductive freedom forever, these legislators are terrified to hold women accountable while they are anxious to prosecute the doctor. If abortion is abolished, they believe, only pro-choice individuals will weep because they have substituted their judgement for the the professional judgement of an individual physician. However, even in one instance blaming  a woman for pursuing, paying for, and welcoming a "murder" would shock the public conscience.

Opposition to abortion would dwindle and their bad intentions would backfire.  There would be a significant upsurge in support for the right of a woman to terminate her pregnancy.

That leaves the pro-forced birth crowd in the philosophically untenable position of wishing to enshrine in statute a procedure as constituting murder, and simultaneously giving a pass to the murderer.  It isn't logically coherent, it isn't honest, but it is cowardly.

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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Their Opposition A Good Sign

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee doesn't like the Omnibus Spending Bill passed by Congress and on Friday signed by President Trump. He tweeted "I join with others in disappointment and disgust with the Omni-BS bill" and posted

If  Mike Huckabee and most "evangelical leaders" oppose the deal, Democrats must have preserved some programs critical tothe  bottom 90% of society. Rewire.News notes

The omnibus omits the Conscience Protection Act, which would have allowed a broadened swath of health-care providers to sue if they’re supposedly coerced into providing abortion care, or if they face discrimination for refusing to provide such care.... A top Senate aide expected the Conscience Protection Act to be in the omnibus, according to Christian Broadcasting Network’s Abigail Robertson. But it wasn’t. Neither was a repeal of the Johnson Amendment, which could politicize churches.

But the news is not entirely positive, as Rewire explains that Congress decided

to hand over the $286.5 million designated in the omnibus for the program to Trump’s abstinence-only Title X chief, Valerie Huber. For the first time in three decades, Huber’s position will have sole decision-making power to award federal family planning grants, based on Trump-era HHS grant criteria that omitted any mention of “contraception” or “contraceptives.”

In approving the statement above, the father of presidential press secretary Sarah Sanders lauds the increase in military spending, which according to CNBC's Phil LeBeau (below) is 10.3%, or $654 billion.   That may not be good for the poor, the sick, the elderly, or workers, but it's heartening to learn that defense contractors are uppermost in the mind of Mike Huckabee and many other evangelicals.

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Friday, March 23, 2018

The Massacres We've Avoided

On February 14, Nikolas Cruz massacred 17 persons by shooting them to death at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  But have you heard about the more recent murders at the same school?

Because no such thing occurred, you have not imagined them unless you have a vivid, macabre imagination- or are Ryan Cleckner, described by The Federalist (where he is a contributor) as "a former special operations sniper and a current firearms attorney, university lecturer, entrepeneur, and best selling author..."

Below (video from Crooks and Liars) Cleckner is seen telling fellow righty Tucker Carlson

Abandoning an inanimate object will not solve the problem. The tool is not the problem. I mean, you want to talk about the tools, look at the Austin bombing, which we just solved today.  Bombs are already illegal.  It didn't stop the bombs from happening.

Bringing a dangerous knife to school also is illegal. Before a boy on Tuesday was arrested at Douglas High School for having posted a threat on social media, the

school day began with the arrest of Jordan Salter, 18, after a conflict in the cafeteria. She poured cereal on another student’s head after he asked Salter’s friend a sexually offensive question. When the boy leaned in close to Salter’s face, she pulled a 2-inch black knife from her bra, opened it and displayed it, according to a report from the Broward Sheriff’s Office.

The next arrest came in the afternoon when school authorities learned that Gavin Stricker, 16, had brandished a knife on a bus Monday. He was called into the school’s office and a 9-inch knife was found in his backpack, according to a juvenile arrest report.

It was a bad day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. But it was not a catastrophic day- because these individuals did not possess a firearm.  If Nikolas Cruz had gone on a rampage with a two-inch or nine-inch knife, lives probably would have been lost, and families would be grieving. But there would not have been 17 lives lost and 17 families grieving.

It's that way everywhere. On January 4, 2017 a man

stabbed at least 11 children after "sneaking into" a kindergarten in southern China, according to the Chinese media. The police arrested the 41-year-old alleged attacker, but his motives remained unclear.

Five of the children suffered serious injuries but none of them was in life-threatening condition, officials in the city of Pingxiang said on Wednesday.

And this concept, which a firearms instructor should be able to understand, applies also to bombs. Noting bombs are illegal, Cleckner cited the bombing attacks- plural- in Austin, Texas. He did not mention that aside from the bomb which killed himself, Mark Anthony Conditt evidently set off five bombs in four separate incidents, killing two individuals and wounding five people, one of them seriously. That is a great tragedy for two families and a somewhat lesser tragedy for the other families. But it's not 17.

Reminding us that "Chicago" is still a profanity for many conservatives, Cleckner claimed "it is the worst place  we have going on in this country for shootings, the worst place we have going on right now in our country for shootings. We have not only shootings but violent crime..." Inconveniently, Chicago has nowhere near the highest murder, or death by shooting, rate in the country- but Chicago. (Republicans- so in love with the "heartland," they'll lie about it.)

Other arguments made by Cleckner, with Carlson's encouragement, were invalid. However, this notion that all weapons are the same appears to be one gun apologists are particularly enthralled by. Hopefully, this and other shibboleths will take a serious blow when millions of gun safety advocates hit the streets of Washington, D.C. and elsewhere on March 24.

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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Not A "Flake," Only Irrelevant

Donald Trump is terrified. He is hiding behind his desk and even considering resigning.

He is tortured with fear now that Republican senator Jeff Flake of Arizona has tweeted

We are begging the president not to fire the special counsel. Don't create a constittuional crisis. Congress cannot preeempt such a firing.  Our only constitutional remedy is after the fact, through impeachment. No one wants that outcome. Mr. President, please don't go there. 

"Very strong words," CNN's Wolf Blitzer told the Arizonan when he interviewed him Wednesday (video below from the day after). They probably didn't seem that way, however, to the president who

reportedly told then-acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe that he should ask his wife, who had lost a bid for political office in Virginia, how it felt to be a loser, NBC News reported Monday.

Trump made the remarks in a phone call to McCabe the day he fired FBI Director James Comey that was placed to demand why Comey was allowed to fly on a FBI plane from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., after being fired.

McCabe told Trump that he hadn’t been asked about the flight but that he would have authorized it if he had.

Trump fell silent before lashing out at McCabe and telling him to ask his wife what it felt like to be a loser, according to NBC.

Intentionally or otherwise, Senator Flake has suggested to the President that nothing will happen to him. "Congress cannot preempt such a firing," he told Trump, so don't expect us to stop you.  Then, you could be impeached- but "no one wants that outcome," so we in Congress will avoid it at almost any cost.

Flake appeared honest in his tweet, as well as in confirming the comment in his chat with Blitzer. "We are begging you," he pathetically remarked, "please don't go there."  However, his words were almost- almost- as misleading as they were pathetic. In late January, TIME reported

Two bills have been introduced in the Senate, both bipartisan. Sponsored by Republican Sen. Thom Tillis and Democratic Sen. Chris Coons, the Special Counsel Integrity Act would only permit the firing of a special counsel in the event of “misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, or conflict of interest.” Sponsored by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, the Special Counsel Independence Protection Act that would require an extensive judicial process to do so.

Both have been in a holding pattern in the Senate Judiciary Committee for several months and have only a couple co-sponsors, indicators that they are not moving ahead any time soon.

Congress could act constructively and patriotically but its GOP leadership in both chambers is loathe do so. Team Russia, captained by Speaker of the House Paul D. Ryan, has made its choice. It will do as the team's owner, Donald J. Trump,wants it to do, save a letter signed by President Trump reading "I appreciate your help in winning the election. Quid pro quo forthcoming."  (And "appreciate" would have to be in all caps.)

As a member of Congress not running for re-election, Senator Flake could have a little- maybe a lot- more background. Flake is not responsible for the GOP's choice of party over country because no one cares what he believes as long as he votes for tax cuts for corporations and other important initiatives the President he finds distasteful needs to maintain his credibility.  A larger problem than Jeff Flake, other than the likes of Ryan and McConnell, is that the media has set the bar so low for conservatives and Republicans that "begging the president" is welcomed as "strong words."

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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Incomplete Portrayal

It's never too early to warn viewers and voters of the danger of Mike Pence, who may very well become President of the United States sometime in the next 32 months. .Sunday night on "Last Week Tonight," John Oliver did so for nearly fourteen-and-a-half- minutes of his nearly twenty-and-a-half minute commentary.   And at the end, he promoted his new book, "A Day in the Life of (rabbit) Marlon Bundo," which instantly rose to #1 on Amazon, and all of whose proceeds will be donated to the Trevor Project and AIDS United.

Oliver is disappointed that Pence's rabbit Marlon Bundo is likeable and "an objectively good name for a bunny."  Melissa Locker of Time summarized

Marlon Bundo has been at official press conferences, has an Instagram account documenting his life with the vice president, and now stars in a new children’s book written by the Pence family — and one by Oliver. “In a complete coincidence, we have also published a book about Mike Pence’s rabbit,” announced Oliver.

There are a few differences between the books, though. In Oliver’s version, from illustrator EG Keller and Last Week Tonight staffer Jill Twiss, Marlon Bundo wears a bow tie, is gay and wants to get married to another boy rabbit...

Oliver had earlier pointed out Pence's "impecable credentials as a social conservative" who holds "extreme positions- like opposition to abortion and gay rights" and is "exceptionally good at dodging questions," noted Oliver. He showed a clip of Pence (and Trump) critic Omarosa Manigault stating "Jesus didn't say that," which should be a warning to Christian conservatives, but isn't and won't be.

As he himself would agree, Pence should be assessed (in part) by his belief that religious faith informs his personal and professional life. Nonetheless, his word cannot be trusted. Admittedly, the returns aren't in yet as to whether he was telling the truth when he claimed that, apart from a whole lot of people around him, he wasn't aware that National Security advisor-designee Mike Flynn had talked to Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak in December about U.S. sanctions on Russia.

Not so, though, was the Vice-President's remark in February "Irrespective of efforts that were made in 2016 by foreign powers, it is the universal conclusion of our intelligence communities that none of those efforts had any impact on the outcome of the 2016 election."  Chris Hayes commented "This is simply untrue. It's not a determination anyone in the IC has made." Pence's statement was a lie worthy of Donald Trump.

That is no small thing. Still, it pales in comparison to the primary threat to the American republic posed by the Vice-President, which was ignored also by Oliver.  In "The Danger of President Pence," Jane Mayer lays out a damning case against the Indianan, in which she ignores neither his cultural,  nor economic, conservatism. She explains

Pence’s close relationship with dozens of conservative groups, including Americans for Prosperity, the Kochs’ top political organization, was crucial to his rise....

In June, 2009, (Trump White House legislative affairs director Marc) Short brokered Pence’s first invitation to address a Koch “seminar,” as the brothers call their secretive semi-annual fund-raising sessions for top conservative donors. The theme of the gathering, in Aspen, Colorado, was “Understanding and Addressing Threats to American Free Enterprise and Prosperity.” Pence’s speech was a hit. ...

The Kochs, who are not religious, may have been focussed more on pocketbook issues than on Pence’s faith. According to Scott Peterson, the executive director of the Checks & Balances Project, a watchdog group that monitors attempts to influence environmental policy, Pence was invited to the Koch seminar only after he did the brothers a major political favor. By the spring of 2009, Koch Industries, like other fossil-fuel companies, felt threatened by growing support in Congress for curbing carbon emissions, the primary cause of climate change. Americans for Prosperity devised a “No Climate Tax” pledge for candidates to sign, promising not to spend any government funds on limiting carbon pollution. At first, the campaign languished, attracting only fourteen signatures. The House, meanwhile, was moving toward passage of a “cap and trade” bill, which would charge companies for carbon pollution. If the bill were enacted, the costs could be catastrophic to Koch Industries, which releases some twenty-four million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere a year, and owns millions of acres of untapped oil reserves in Canada, plus coal-fired power plants and oil refineries.

Pence, who had called global warming “a myth” created by environmentalists in their “latest Chicken Little attempt to raise taxes,” took up the Kochs’ cause. He not only signed their pledge but urged others to do so as well. He gave speeches denouncing the cap-and-trade bill—which passed the House but got held up in the Senate—as a “declaration of war on the Midwest.” His language echoed that of the Koch groups. Americans for Prosperity called the bill “the largest excise tax in history,” and Pence called it “the largest tax increase in American history.” (Neither statement was true.) He used a map created by the Heritage Foundation, which the Kochs supported, to make his case, and he urged House Republicans to hold “energy summits” opposing the legislation in their districts, sending them home over the summer recess with kits to bolster their presentations.

According to the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University, after Pence began promoting the Kochs’ pledge the number of signatories in the House soared, reaching a hundred and fifty-six. James Valvo, the policy director for Americans for Prosperity, who spearheaded the pledge, told the Reporting Workshop that support from Pence and other Republicans helped “a scrappy outlier” become “the established position.” The cap-and-trade bill died in the Senate.

Short said that he “didn’t recall the Kochs ever asking for help on the issue,” adding, “The Republican Conference believed it was a winning issue because of the impact that the bill would have had on jobs.” In any event, the pledge marked a pivotal turn in the climate-change debate, cementing Republican opposition to addressing the environmental crisis.

Peterson said that the Checks & Balances Project hadn’t detected “much money going from the Kochs to Pence before he promoted the ‘No Climate Tax’ pledge.” Afterward, “he was the Kochs’ guy, and they’ve been showering him with money ever since.” Peterson went on, “He could see a pathway to the Presidency with them behind him.”

Indeed, by 2011 Pence had reportedly become Charles Koch’s favorite potential candidate for President in 2012. 

Yet, no one gets to be a Koch favorite only by denying, the delicious phrase of the late novelist Albert Camus, "the wholly human origin of all that is human." There are lots of Republicans who have done that. In 2014 Democratic Party official and activist Brad Woodhouse wrote

AFP has repeatedly championed tax breaks for big oil companies, such as the Koch brothers' piggy bank -- Koch Industries -- and railed against standards to keep our air safe to breathe and our water safe to drink.

They've played cheerleader for Rep. Paul Ryan's extreme budget plans that would turn Medicare into a voucher program and cut taxes for the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.

They've poured money into statewide elections in Wisconsin and North Carolina to remake the statehouses in their mold -- then lauded their politicians as they gutted education and attacked women's rights.

They worked to end a celebrated school integration program in Wake County, North Carolina, and fought to stop a fix aimed at helping Louisiana homeowners in high-risk flood zones avoid paying more for flood insurance.

John Oliver spent over 20 minutes alerting people to Mike Pence, raised lots of money for gay-oriented charities, and raised his own profile. That is a good thing.

At the same time, Oliver spent over 20 minutes and failed to utter the word Koch.  Those are twenty minutes failing to notice that Rhode Island senator Sheldon Whitehouse observed “If Pence were to become President for any reason, the government would be run by the Koch brothers—period. He’s been their tool for years.”   And if was 20 minutes neglecting to mention that Seve Bannon understands “I’m concerned he’d be a President that the Kochs would own.”

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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Mike Huckabee Checks In From Another Planet

Jim Carrey is a better pundit than comedic actor, but that's setting the bar fairly low. On St. Patrick's Day,  Carrey tweeted the exceedingly unflattering portrait he drew of Presidential Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders with the caption "This is the portrait of a so-called Christian whose only purpose in life is to lie for the wicked. Monstrous!"

If conservatives were honest- if, say, cows could fly- they would have slammed Carrey by noting that Mrs. Sanders is more attractive than he gave her credit for. Instead, we got such thoughts as
Meanwhile, it's taboo to ask whether the man bragging he has "a bigger and better button" than "rocket man" might not have all his snaps fastened.  With less generalization but more sensitivity, one woman tweeted "In the last week Jim Carrey and Hillary Clinton have both attacked women.Hate and intolerance has taken over the left. I’m so disgusted daily by the constant hypocrisy. Call these people out!"

They are so easily offended. Jim Carrey criticizes an individual who is proud of her Christian faith while lying effortlesssly- and he has "attacked women." And it will be a long wait until a Republican argues that Hillary Clinton, who maintained some women are overly influenced in their vote by a husband ora  male boss, is wrong.  They probably figure that's the way it should be.

The most substantive criticism came from Sanders' father, former Arkansas governor, Fox News host, GOP presidential candidate, and pastor Mike Huckabee, who tweeted

Pathetic BULLY, sexist, hater, bigot & "Christaphobe" @jimcarrey attacks @PressSec for her faith; what would be hypocritical Hollywood reaction if he called someone a "so-called Muslim" or "so-called Jew?" #classlessCarrey …

8:07 AM - Mar 19, 2018

He probably didn't notice that we didn't notice that it is precisely, probably solely, the Christian right demanding the privilege to ignore societal norms and the law in opposing same-sex marriage, gay rights, and reproductive freedom on the basis of its interpretation of God's will.  Evidence that Christianity,the Bible, or God is opposed to equal rights for women, gay individuals,or whatever group is today's target of discrimination is unnecessary; one merely has to claim that a higher power demands favor of one group over another.

Except in exceedingly rare instances, this right to discriminate is not being claimed by Jews, atheists, or Muslims, but by self-identified Christians. However, the extraordinary discretion claimed need not be limited to these groups because as Ian Millhiser wrote in 2014

while LGBT Americans are the current target of this effort to repackage prejudice as “religious liberty,” they are hardly the first. To the contrary, as Wake Forest law Professor Michael Kent Curtis explained in a 2012 law review article, many segregationists justified racial bigotry on the very same grounds that religious conservatives now hope to justify anti-gay animus. In the words of one professor at a prominent Mississippi Baptist institution, “our Southern segregation way is the Christian way . . . . [God] was the original segregationist.”

Mike Huckabee can defend his daughter and even, against all logic and reality, imply a parallel between calling someone a "so-called Christian" and calling her a "so-called Muslim" or "so-called Jew." Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State has explained

Ironically, the single greatest threat to religious freedom comes from a radical redefinition of the idea itself...I think the Framers of the Constitution would be appalled at the radical revisionism of the First Amendment being advocated by some. More importantly, I think the America of the future will look askance at efforts to elevate majority faiths or subject not so traditional believers to the status of an orphan class to be denied genuinely equal treatment in this diverse country.”It might. I was never convinced Trump would (successfully) lean on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to fire Assistant Attorney General Andrew McCabe, but I've never been slick enough to be elected President of the United States of America. Donald Trump has.

Jim Carrey could apologize, something along the lines of "I apologize if anything I am construed as having implied might have hurt your delicate feelings. I will learn to be more politically correct."

Or maybe he can lean on irony, as did comedian John Fugelsang, who remarked succinctly "Jim Carrey under fire from Trump loyalists who really don't like it when famous people say rude things about others."

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Monday, March 19, 2018

Not Certain, But Likely

On Sunday, CNN reported

Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, a chief GOP critic of President Donald Trump, said Sunday he expects pushback from his colleagues over Trump's increased attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller.

"We can't in Congress accept that," Flake said on CNN's "State of the Union," adding, "I would expect to see considerable pushback in the next couple of days."

Jeff Flake seems to have a modicum of integrity, which is a modicum more than most GOP members of Congress, so I hope he doesn't hold his breath or make book on it.

Generously (though pointedly), The Week early this morning offered the headline "John McCain joins a thin chorus of Republicans defending Mueller after Trump's weekend tweetstorm."  Given that the chorus includes only  the aformentioned Flake and McCain, plus Senator Lindsey Graham and House Intelligence Committee member Trey Gowdy, that chorus is less "thin" than "emaciated."

Additionally, it probably has escaped the attention of few observers that Flake and Gowdy have announced their retirement, McCain is very unlikely to run for re-election, and that Graham is, well, Graham, prone to criticizing Trump and defending him on alternate weeks.

It's not comforting that

“I’m not sure the House can do a lot,” said Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) on “Fox News Sunday.” Gowdy urged the president to give Mueller the space and resources to finish his probe unimpeded, but he noted that the Senate has more leverage over Trump on this issue because it has a say in his senior administration appointments.

It's not my job, Gowdy seems to be saying, which is significant coming from a Republican who does not have to fear the wrath at primary time from Trump and his acolytes. However, it can remind us that Republicans have put up very little resistance to the President on appointments and even less on legislation. (Twelve House Republicans voted against the tax bill, eleven of them from New York or New Jersey, whose residents will be slammed by the provision on property tax deduction; no Senate Republican voted against it.)

While there are four GOP members of Congress- out of a total caucus of 290- who have questioned Trump's attack on Republican Mueller, that is four more than have spoken out in favor of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (also a Republican).  With Attorney General Sessions having recused himself, the Special Counsel serves at the pleasure of the Deputy Attorney General.

If Rosenstein is fired, he presumably would be replaced by an individual more sympathetic to the President and less sympathetic to the inquiry than Rosenstein is assumed to be.  Even if Mueller survives, the scope of his investigation could be curtailed or his budget cut, which might give Republicans cover to claim their President allowed the respected Special Counsel to remain while the effort to get the truth out would be aborted.

Nate Silver has tweeted "we don't know as much as we think we do about how Republicans would react if Mueller were fired, in the same way that a building surviving a magnitude 6 earthquake doesn't tell you that much about how it would respond to a magnitude 8." We don't know for sure, much as we don't know if the New Orleans Pelicans will make the NBA playoffs. But we can speculate, and 286-4 gives us a fairly good idea.


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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Think Before Speaking, Senator

Democratic senator Dick Durbin of Illinois is a nice man who said something very stupid in response to a speech made on March 10 in Mumbai, India by Hillary Clinton. The latter stated in part

If you look at the map of the United States, there’s all that red in the middle where Trump won. I win the coasts, I win Illinois and Minnesota, places like that. But what the map doesn’t show you, is that I won the places that represent two-thirds of America’s gross domestic product.

So, I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving-forward, and his whole campaign, "Make America Great Again," was looking backwards. You know, you didn’t like black people getting rights, you don’t like women getting jobs, you don’t want to see that Indian-American succeeding more than you are. "Whatever your problem is, I’m going to solve it."

This is not good. It is not good because it blames not only people who voted for Donald J. Trump but states, such as Ohio, Wisconsin, Idaho, South Dakota, and 26 others. In those states, sensible individuals were surrounded by friends, neighbors, co-workers and others who opted for Trump. They should be celebrated, not denigrated.

(It would have been easy for Clinton to have made a similar but less offensive and more salient point, stressing that the states which have adopted her perspective have soared while those which have adopted the right-wing perspective are reeling. Think California and Kansas, respectively.)

But that wasn't the gist of the Durbin's response to Clinton. Instead, he commented 

My friend Hillary Clinton is wrong. Thirty percent of the people that voted for Donald Trump had voted for President Obama. Why? The same people who looked for change with President Obama thought there wasn't enough, as far as their personal lives were concerned, and they supported Donald Trump. That is a reality the Democrats acknowledge.

One can only speculate what part of Durbin's body the Senator pulled the 30% figure from, because the "reality" is there were far, far fewer. (On a closely-related issue, very few voters went from Obama to Trump.)

Additionally, a great many of the Trump to Clinton voters did not switch sides because they believed that Trump would give them more of the change which Obama had begun.  In his autopsy of Clinton's defeat, Democratic pollster and strategist Stanley R. Greenberg wrote

Hillary Clinton fully identified with President Obama’s vision on identity, opportunity, honest government, inequality, the economy, and America’s upward direction, viewing his campaign and governance as successful. She stocked her campaign with his consultants and those who had worked in his White House.

She believed, and still believes, that America is dynamic, growing, and progressing, and now needs an economy that truly leaves no one behind. Inequality has worsened, but the answer is “building ladders of opportunity,” as Obama described in his State of the Union before his re-election, in his campaign speeches for Clinton, and in his private handwritten letter to President Trump.

Obama’s America was not a country in pain, but one where those left behind were looking for a seasoned leader to make progress. And Clinton only reluctantly decided to pull off this narrative. Obama and Clinton lived in a cosmopolitan and professional America that wasn’t very angry about the state of the country, even if many of the groups in the Clinton coalition were struggling and angry. 

Obama’s refrain was severely out of touch with what was happening to most Americans and the working class more broadly. In our research, “ladders of opportunity” fell far short of what real people were looking for. Incomes sagged after the financial crisis, pensions lost value, and many lost their housing wealth, while people faced dramatically rising costs for things that mattered—health care, education, housing, and child care. People faced vanishing geographic, economic, and social mobility, as Edward Luce writes so forcefully. At the same time, billionaires spent massively to influence politicians and parked their money in the big cities whose dynamism drew in the best talent from the smaller towns and rural areas.

Clinton’s default position was Obama’s refrain about America, but she did invite real discussion of these issues and got close to embracing a change posture during some economic speeches and her convention address, and in the debates. But when the campaign got rocked, she reverted to the Obama narrative.

The Obama narrative. After eight years of the Obama presidency, many of the goods and services enjoyed by people in the cosmopolitan and professional America that Obama and Clinton inhabit had improved while elsewhere incomes lagged, pensions declined, some housing values declined dramatically, and the cost of necessities kept increasing. With most families outside of the Obama/Clinton bubble understanding this, the Democratic nominee pled for a  third Obama term.

Hillary Clinton should not have painted with such a broad stroke.  She should not roundly and generally criticized Americans, but instead noted that most rejected voters Donald Trump's message, and she was the preferred candidate of the two.

Nonetheless, Senator Durbin should realize that Clinton's criticism could have been more direct and biting. The music and lyrics, tone and substance could have been more in keeping with that of Charlie Pierce, who (even before Durbin spoke) remarked

Anybody who attended a Trump rally knows how right HRC was in saying what she did. I’m not entirely a fan; I voted the other way in the Massachusetts primary for all the reasons that anyone did. But there is no question that what she said in India was an accurate summary of the forces that propelled our current president* to the job he now holds. Racism and belligerent, weaponized nostalgia were the accelerants that fueled the fire. It might have been economic insecurity that made people Trump-curious, but it was the xenophobia that got them into the halls....

It really is time to stop buying every voter in certain states a cookie. You people saddled the nation with a corrupt, incompetent oligarch who turns everything and everyone he touches into hazardous waste. You did it because he stroked your cultural and social yearnings until you trilled like a chorus of locusts. You are done no good service by politicians who keep telling you that you’re the salt of the earth, or by reporters on expedition who demand that the rest of us be careful of your tender fee-fees. If you want the country to stop being moronic, stop voting for morons.

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Saturday, March 17, 2018

McCabe Move Part Of Strategy

Chris Hayes tweets "My prediction is that the McCabe firing, like the Comey firing, will end up backfiring."

It might. I was never convinced Trump would (successfully) lean on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to fire FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, but I've never been slick enough to be elected President of the United States of America. Donald Trump has.

Donald Trump has made several moves, let alone issued numerous tweets, which probably are tactically bizarre. When he recently announced steel and aluminum tariffs, several GOP members of Congress were very skeptical, even Senate Finance Commmittee chairperson Orrin Hatch, who argued "Tariffs on steel and aluminum are a tax hike the American people don’t need and can’t afford." That should count as impassioned condemnation from a guy who has said Trump is "the best President I've served 'under' (including) Lincoln, Reagan, and James K. Polk." (Orrin Hatch is quite old.)

The President already has walked back a portion of that plan. Similarly, he has suggested capital punishment for drug dealers, not ony an excessively punitive but borderline bizarre idea that will not come to fruition.

But the push for a protectionist trade policy and killing criminals is part of a larger Trumpian strategy for 2020.  The popularity of tariffs nationwide is questionable, but it is likely the idea has gained him net support in Wisonsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Like the death penalty, it sends the message that Donald Trump is a no-nonsense, authentic guy who will stand up for the average person, whether beleagured manufacturing workers or voters he has convinced street crime has exploded out of control in cities.

Fun fact: The "Don't Mess with Texas" slogan was created by an ad agency, working under contract from state government in Austin, to mobilize support of the public to change its habits to reverse the epidemic of litter spiraling out of control in the state. Nonetheless, it quickly became a go-to line for pundits, politicians, and others, unaware of its origin, to demonstrate their swagger.

Tariffs and drug crime are not at the top of President Trump's consciousness. Neither is Andrew McCabe, no matter how vindictive Grump is.  But they are part of an overall strategy. And now we have a dismissal which may in and of itself- as Hayes expects- be a bad tactic, but part of a clever strategy.  Politico reports

But McCabe sees bigger forces at work in the Justice Department inspector general’s inquiry — which he views as part of a broader campaign to impugn him for his role in handling the FBI’s Russia investigation and his ties to special counsel Robert Mueller.

“Look, it’s personally devastating. It’s so tough on my family,” he told POLITICO during a wide-ranging interview conducted earlier this month, before his firing.

“But at some point, this has to be seen in the larger context,” said McCabe, 49, who says he has voted for every Republican presidential nominee until he sat out the 2016 contest entirely. “And I firmly believe that this is an ongoing effort to undermine my credibility because of the work that I did on the Russia case, because of the investigations that I oversaw and impacted that target this administration.”

“They have every reason to believe that I could end up being a significant witness in whatever the special counsel comes up with, and so they are trying to create this counter-narrative that I am not someone who can be believed or trusted,” McCabe added. “And as someone who has been believed and trusted by really good people for 21 years, it’s just infuriating to me.”

"Trying to create this counter-narrative that I am not someone who can be believed or trusted” is the primary purpose- but only part of the President's motivation.

In getting rid (he hopes) of McCabe, Trump once again has said "you're fired." Typically, he has had others, usually the Chief of Staff (his bodyguard in the case of James Comey) do the actual dirty deed.

But Donald J. Trump rose to national prominence in large measure because of his willingness- even delight- in firing people on "The Apprentice." Many people confused the program with real life, and many people, prone to live their lives vicariously through other people, envy and admire individuals able to snap their fingers and magically get rid of undesirables.

The McCabe move was part of the the Trump strategy- for defeating Mueller and for currying favor with voters. It's Donald Trump, Tough Guy, an image as divorced from reality as Donald Trump, Patriot.

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This  is a reasonable question. If going to a predominantly Jewish neighborhood to harass and intimidate Jewish people at a synagogue is no...