Thursday, September 29, 2022

No Hoodwinking Allowed


On Friday evening's Overtime segment on Real Time with Bill Maher, guest Vivek Ramaswamy tried to equate the refusal of Stacey Abrams to concede the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial race to GOP election deniers. Bill Maher would have none of that, responding

Yeah, you know, I've heard this on the show before. I just got to call bullshit on this. It's just such silly whataboutism. You pick out the one example on the left- one example among Democrats that it's not nearly as consequential as what is going on in the entire Republican Party, including the leader of the Party, Donald Trump.

That's the answer- Stacey Abrams? It's a bullshit answer, man. with all due respect, it's a bullshit answer to a giant problem that exists almost exclusively on one side.


In May, 2019 Vox explained of the effort by Abrams' organization

The 66-page lawsuit highlights voting issues that affected the state including voter purges, registration applications put on hold, Election Day troubles at predominantly nonwhite voting precincts, and problems with voters’ absentee and provisional ballots.

Each of these issues fueled their own series of lawsuits (several of them successful) in the weeks before and after the election, but this latest lawsuit cites them collectively to make a larger point: Georgia’s current election system created an unconstitutional series of obstacles that are disproportionately likely to disadvantage, and in some cases completely disenfranchise, voters of color.

At the time of the election, the Secretary of State of Georgia, charged with overseeing elections, was none other than Brian Kemp- Abrams' opponent and presumptive winner of the election. However, the most telling factor may be that the plaintiffs proposed a series of reforms.

Donald Trump & Co. challenged the results of the 2020 election for one reason and one reason only: Donald Trump lost.  It was not about the voters; it was about him, only.

But Maher was correct. Whatever Abrams' justification, she did not incite an insurrection and she is not a leading presidential candidate. Ramaswamy argued "we're not going to have faith in either side of the electoral system" unless "everyone who at least points to someone in their tribe." To that Maher noted "Yes, but more so when the two things are of equal merit . And this a mouse and an elephant, you know. I mean, it's a cheap trick."

However, the (willfully) blind cannot be deterred and Ramaswamy stated

What role did this play where a lot of Democrats were not willing to accept the legitimacy of the 2016 election outcome on the back of the Russia collusion narrative. What role does that play in giving legitimacy to the other side to now say they're not going to accept the election. I think this has been a game of escalation going on for a long time.

Maher noted "who didn't accept the election? Hillary came down in her purple suit within- before she went to bed."  

The narrative of what the right dismisses as "the Russia collusion" included the 140+ contacts between Donald Trump and 18 of his associates with Russian nationals and Wikileaks, or their intermediaries, during the 2016 campaign and presidential transition. This was not to conduct their fantasy football draft.

After Ramaswamy again invoked "a Russia collusion narrative," Maher responded "the impeachment was not about Russia collusion. It was about Ukraine. the impeachment was about the Ukraine scandal."

The blueprint was laid with the Brooks Brothers Riot of November 2000 and included the announcement by George W. Bush of victory and nomination of a cabinet before all the votes were counted.  A week before the last presidential election, Roger Stone laid out the Republican playbook: "When that happens, the key thing to do is claim victory. Possession is nine-tenths of the law. No, we won." As noted here, Roger "Stone coordinated the program to shut down the vote count and throw the election to Bush, who had lost the election by 500,000 votes nationwide, a role Stone reprised in both 2016 and 2020." 

The game is election manipulation, there is only one side playing it. Bill Maher knew it and called it for it is.

 


Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Doesn't Matter



The following is a great tweet and can stand on its own- meaning, of course, that I'm going to take it a step further. This is ostensibly about one state, but with unintentional meaning for the Democratic Party.

 

In response, one individual tweeted "she's the best!"

She seems to be a badass and may be the best. But as California governor Gavin Newsom contemplates a run for the presidency (in 2024 or 2028), please understand that he doesn't care. In March, 2021 we read in Politico

California Gov. Gavin Newsom committed Monday to nominating a Black woman for the U.S. Senate should Sen. Dianne Feinstein resign from the seat she’s held for more than two decades.

Newsom made the comments to MSNBC host Joy Reid in an appearance on her show, saying he has multiple names in mind for the spot.

The governor’s surprise statement came as Reid asked Newsom if he would commit to naming a Black woman to the Senate if Feinstein steps down and whether he has thought of particular replacements.

Newsom told Reid, “I have multiple names in mind. We have multiple names in mind — and the answer is yes.”

There has been no indication that Feinstein will step aside, but a growing number of Democrats have raised the possibility in recent months after their displeasure with how she handled the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett, as well as damaging reports in POLITICO and The New Yorker about Feinstein’s age-related missteps.

Feinstein could face additional pressure to step down this year with the recall election expected to qualify. While California’s electorate gives Democrats an advantage in protecting Newsom’s governorship and avoiding a GOP replacement, the possibility remains that a Republican could take the seat and have nomination powers at least until January 2023.

Newsom won the recall election by a wide margin, which should have increased pressure on Feinstein to retire, but- no.  In his defense, Governor Newsom's pander originated when

The California governor faced lobbying after the November presidential election to name a Black woman to fill the seat of then-Sen. Kamala Harris — the only Black woman in the U.S. Senate when she was elected vice president. Newsom ultimately chose Sen. Alex Padilla, the state’s first Latino senator who was serving as California secretary of state.

Were Dianne Feinstein to leave the Senate, voluntarily or tragically (think RBG), while Newsom is still governor. he probably will fulfill his pledge to Joy Ann Reid.  Alternatively, he might decide to nominate Porter because Democratic badasses are uncommon and it might be nice to have in the US Senate fighting for the interests of the 99%.

But Gavin Newsom imagines himself as a Democratic presidential nominee some day, and he'll remember the heady, latter seven months of 2020, when the great evil among Democratic activists and voters was the inequitable treatment of African-Americans by law enforcement. A candidate proud that he was co-sponsor of a bill which many of them held responsible for mass incarceration pledged to nominate to the US Supreme Court a black woman. Not a badass, not "the best," but a black woman.

He then gained the support of House Majority Whip and South Carolinian Jim Clyburn and wiped the floor with his opponents among black voters, sweeping to the nomination. Clyburn also encouraged that presumptive presidential nominee, Joe Biden, to choose a black woman as his running mate. He did and won the election, though it had little or no impact on the outcome.

If Gavin Newsom gets to replace a United States Senator, he can select a total badass and arguably the best, whatever her race, in one fell swoop. He already has told us he will not.

 


Monday, September 26, 2022

No Accuracy, No Shame, No Decency


If that's a question, the answer is "no." Ben Stein here states

Well, first of all, the thing that's most apparent right away- as life goes on I wake up every morning- President Trump and President Nixon were kicked out of office for doing exactly nothing wrong and it was just a mob- a lynch mob- that was assembled on the word of, on the words of some crank, uh, some people who have been highly placed in the media.

At least on the basis of this very short video, we don't know who this crank, or these people, are who have been highly placed in the media. We do know, however, that neither President Trump nor President Nixon was kicked out of office. Nixon resigned, and Trump was defeated at the polls by some 81 million "cranks."

Donald Trump did not face a lynch mob; he encouraged a lynch mob. The January 6 committee

heard testimony indicating that then-President Donald Trump — after rioters who swarmed the Capitol began chanting “hang Mike Pence” — expressed support for hanging his vice president, according to three people familiar with the matter.

The White House chief of staff at the time, Mark Meadows, was in the dining room off the Oval Office with Trump at one point during last year’s Capitol attack, the committee has been told. Meadows then left the dining room and informed other people nearby that Trump had signaled a positive view of the prospect of hanging the vice president, the panel heard.

Meadows’ account as it was described to the committee came after some members of the mob converging on the Capitol had broken into chants of “Hang Mike Pence!” Those chants were a reaction to Pence’s decision to accept electoral votes that indicated Joe Biden had won the presidency.

This was not idle rhetoric:



No, Ben Stein and his ilk won't opt for decency.  They won't, because they don't have to do so, confident they will be welcomed back into polite society, even heralded, by the media if it's necessary ever to turn on Donald Trump.

Ben Stein has never run for political office and won't.  He has no reason to be intimidated by Donald Trump and he's not. Yet, he supports the ex-President. He supports him for a reason which the media and Democrats underestimate as a motive for backing Trump. There are many people, especially in the Republican street but many GOP officials, who like him. It was the motivation for the vast majority of individuals who voted for him in 2016 and 2020. 

Most Republicans realize Trump is belligerent, bellicose, and bigoted (though not given to alliteration). Some of those Republicans refuse to criticize Trump because they are intimidated by the 45th President. However, many of them support him because he is belligerent, bellicose, and bigoted.  It's a sad and disturbing fact, but many facts are.

 


Saturday, September 24, 2022

Tweet of the Day- Recession Doesn't Look Good in Any Color


In an article in February describing recent moves regarding nominations to the Federal Reserve, The Washington Post noted "the seven-member Fed Board of Governors is in charge of keeping prices stable and fostering maximum employment, along with regulation of the banking system."

The Board of Governors, under chairperson Jerome S. Powell, clearly is focused on preventing inflation from climbing further and disinterested in fostering employment.


In Senator Brown's "look like America," he evidently was referring to approval to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System Michelle W. Bowman (who looks like a white woman), Lisa D. Cook (who looks like a black woman), and Philip N. Jefferson (who looks like a black man) to joing Lael Brainard (who looks like a white woman), Christopher J. Waller, Michael s. Barr, and Powell (who looks like a white man). There was no one who appears to be of Latin or Asian descent but the Board did then look a little more like America than it did with all white people.

If President Biden's appointees steer the Fed in the proper direction, one which will benefit Americans even if major banks suffer, lending  diversity to the Board will have been a major improvement.

Policy should triumph over an officials' appearance or racial makeup. Unfortunately, the generally wise Sherrod Brown had voted in favor of Jerome Powell's reappointment as Board chairperson. It appears that Powell, whose reappointment the generally wise Sherrod Brown supported, is satisfied with prompting a recession in hopes of stemming inflation. If that ensues, as now appears likely, white women, black women, and black men will be among the Americans crushed financially.

 


Friday, September 23, 2022

Not the Moron He Seems to Be



According to Urban Dictionary, this phrase "was once a compliment turned insult. Meaning to be an insult to those who believe they are smarter than they truly are."


From galaxy brain to "dumbest person":

 

Arguably the most ethical individual on Twitter, head of the federal government ethics office from 1/13 to 1/17, goes "moron":


The video in the tweet below is longer, thus giving a little more context.

 


But Donald Trump is not mentally ill, a moron, dumb, or possessing of a galaxy brain.  A criminal justice expert and former federal prosecutor explained in August

All the statutes that were charged in the search warrant require that, in order to violate them, somebody has to act willfully, which normally means that they have some kind of improper intent, that it’s not just an honest mistake.

Note that in his interview with Hannity, Trump claimed

There doesn't have to be a process as I understand it. You know, there are different people that say different things but as I understand it, there doesn't have to be. If you're the President of the United States, you can declassify just by saying it's declassified- even by thinking about it. Because you're sending it to Mar-a-Lago or wherever you're ending it and there doesn't have to be a process.

There can be a process but there doesn't have to be. You're the President; you make that decision. 

There doesn't have to be a process; there doesn't have to be; you can declassify just by saying it's declassified; there doesn't have to be a process; there can be a process but there doesn't have to be.

Five times in the space of one statement, the former President maintained that a process for declassifying classified documents is unnecessary. If we didn't know a) that is completely preposterous; and b) when Trump moves his lips he's lying, we'd likely think that he believes he can just think it and it's done. Apart from the dishonest individual involved, it appears the actions were an honest mistake.

And then, recognizing that Attorney General Garland will consider the political, as well as legal, implications of pursuing an indictment against him, Trump lays down the hammer, remarking

There's also speculation because of the severity of what they did, the FBI coming in and raiding Mar-a-Lago, were they looking for the Hillary Clinton emails that were deleted but they are around someplace?...

And a lot of people said that the only thing that would give the kind of severity that they showed by coming in with many, many people is the Hillary Clinton deal, the Russia, Russia, Russia stuff or....

When in doubt, "but those emails." When cornered, "but those emails." Whenever, "but those emails."

"Strategy," it is thought, "describes the destination and how you are going to get there, and tactics describe the specific actions you are going to take along the way." Donald Trump's tactics seem dumb, immoral, or antithetical to mental health. They're absurd, ridiculous, or loathsome to all with concern about their fellow man and woman they're not personally fond of. But he has a strategy, and he keeps to it. It brought him the Republican presidential nomination and the presidency and has kept him relevant even after defeat,




Wednesday, September 21, 2022

A Death Discomfiting to Media


You'll see little of this case on MSNBC or on CNN. You'll see little of this on Fox, though for a different reason. Last week, USA Today (its emphasis) reported

Two Colorado parents say they want prosecutors to file criminal charges after their 22-year-old son was fatally shot by police during an apparent mental health crisis in June.

Body-camera footage released this week shows police breaking Christian Glass' car window and a Clear Creek County sheriff’s deputy firing five rounds at Glass while he was inside his car.

The incident happened after Glass called 911 for roadside assistance in the small mountain town of Silver Plume, Colorado, roughly 45 miles west of Denver.

The case is renewing calls from advocates that police must prioritize de-escalation when responding to mental health crises, instead of reacting with force....

What happened in June: After Christian Glass' June 11 death, the Clear Creek County Sheriff's office issued a news release saying that Glass was shot after he became “argumentative and uncooperative” and tried to stab an officer when police broke a car window to grab him.

But body-cam footage shows Glass pleading with officers and at one point offering to disarm himself by throwing his knives out of his car window.

What's happening now: Colorado's Fifth Judicial District, which includes Clear Creek County, said it is investigating the case along with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. They plan to eventually issue a report on the shooting or present the case to a grand jury, which would decide if indictments should be issued.



This story has been nearly buried. Blue Lives Matter Fox is absent because it conflicts with its narrative that local and state police can do no wrong.

But where is Benjamin Crump when we need him?  Crump, who appears beside any black family whose member has been shot by police, is nowhere to be found. CNN and MSNBC can't be bothered, probably for the same reason.

We don't know all the details about this case- yet cable news became obsessed with other "police-involved shootings" before those facts were in.  Much of the media yearned for reform as it celebrated the transparency it brought to bear upon those incidents. Christian Glass, his family, and a public which needs to understand the full range of law enforcement activity deserve no less. 

 


Monday, September 19, 2022

Paving the Way


Steve M writes

As far as I'm concerned, it was clear that the right had rejected humanity a long time ago -- sixty years ago, obviously (though the segregationist hatemongers were mostly Democrats then), and certainly two decades ago, when the public learned about the Bush administration's embrace of torture. If you lurked at right-wing sites back then, and for many years afterward, you know that the rank-and-file right loved the idea of torturing Muslims.

Those such as Steve M who recognize that the Republican Party's road to villainy did not begin with Donald Trump's descent on the escalator at Trump Tower in 2015 point to the GOP's decades-long flirtation with racism, deregulation of the administrative state to undermine the interests of labor and of consumers, and allegiance to, and reverence for, tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.  However, the most immediate threat to the nation is the ongoing, and growing, attack on democratic governance. And while it is difficult to pinpoint the precise genesis of the racial bias and thrust to redistribute income and wealth upwards (not totally unrelated to each other), the beginning of the assault on the principles of liberal democracy can be traced to an almost precise point.



Last month, Chris Lehmann- unlike myself, an actual journalist and author- reminded us better than I could have that

In the wake of a bitterly disputed presidential election, a central hub of government operations was suddenly under siege. A group of aggrieved right-wing protesters defied security and flooded into the now-chaotic center of activity. Government officials were harassed and feared for their safety, as charges of fraud and betrayal of the people’s will rose up from the angry mob.

No, this wasn’t January 6, 2021—it was two decades earlier, on the day before Thanksgiving in the year 2000. The target wasn’t the US Capitol but instead the nondescript Steven B. Clark Government Center in downtown Miami. Election officials had congregated there to review disputed ballots marred by ambiguous or otherwise imperfect impressions of electoral intent on the part of voters in the deadlocked 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. They were met by a throng of Republicans clad in polo shirts, chanting, “Shut it down!”

The precedent set by the post-election uprising in Miami-Dade County gives the lie to the common depiction of the failed Trumpian coup as an isolated and outlying event in the annals of right-wing protest. In reality, the “Brooks Brothers riot,” staged amid the surreal, fiercely contested battle over the Florida vote, laid out the blueprint. Then, as in 2020, key legal and political strategists on the right sought to disrupt a clear procedural mandate to preserve the integrity of a vote count. The symbolic staging of the right-wing uprising conveyed the clear message that the votes of a white, upscale electorate were innately more American, legitimate, and potent than the more numerous non-white coalition that broke for the Democratic presidential ticket.

Still more remarkably, both disruptive actions aimed at flipping the election into the Republican column took shape under the guidance of fabled right-wing dirty-tricks impresario Roger Stone—an ardent student of Nixonian electoral realpolitik who moved seamlessly into the vanguard of the Trumpian right. The legal arm of the GOP’s orchestrated bid to shut down the 2000 election recount in Florida boasted no less than three future Supreme Court justices among its foot soldiers: Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. The improbable elevation of Donald Trump to the top of the GOP presidential ticket, and then the White House, during the 2016 election cycle drew directly on the racist animal spirits unleashed in the early-’90s candidacies of presidential hopefuls David Duke and former Nixon communications aide Pat Buchanan; likewise, the horrific and deadly assault on the US Capitol on January 6 built to a striking degree on the precedent set by the Brooks Brothers riot.

Putting it all together, Lehmann notes

“The closed loop of raw power here is extraordinary,” says Roosevelt University political scientist David Faris. “You have Barrett, Roberts and Kavanaugh on Bush’s legal team, who help convince the Supreme Court to issue a party-line 5-4 vote to stop counting votes in Florida. With Bush installed, Roberts eventually becomes chief justice, guts voting rights and campaign finance laws, allows Republicans to continue gerrymandering, cuts the heart out of unions and subjects the ACA to endless legal Calvinball.” At the core of this judicial revolution, Faris continues, was the logic of the electoral putsch, as test-driven in Miami: “With the Brooks Brothers riot, Republicans got their first taste of intimidating election officials, gaming the courts and playing the outrage card to tilt the scales in their favor.”

At that time, many Republicans believed it wise not to count all votes in a presidential election and the media, the Supreme Court, and other institutions were quite satisfied with that. Now, 23 Republican candidates in 18 states argue that Donald J. Trump won the 2020 election.  Most of those who win their elections will study the campaign to thwart the will of the voters in 2020, and it will be empowering.

An active opponent of the United States of America, Donald J. Trump clearly has made matters much worse. However, we need to pay homage- obviously, not in a positive way- to the (almost entirely) men who pointed the way to totalitarianism nearly twenty-two years ahead of their time.

 


Sunday, September 18, 2022

Foolish and Odious



This isn't a perfect post. However, it's the perfect day (Sunday) for it.

 

"Not fast enough" is disturbingly wrong, strategically and otherwise. By contrast, aside from one minor omission, Sam Seder gets it exactly right as he explains

Do us all a favor. Don't say "Christians" when you mean Christian fundamentalists or Christian extremists or religious extremists or religious fundamentalists. Because really, the problem is religious fundamentalists of all stripes.

I can assure you that there's a lot of fundamentalist Jews who are on board with all that stuff and as a political matter, you don't want to alienate everybody who identifies as a Christian or whose parents were Christian or who was raised Christian because that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. You don't want them to think they mean you.

You say "fundamentalist Christians, extremist Christians or I just say "religious fundamentalists" because at the end of the day- because that's the problem.... I'm saying all those things are true. But that's just what's the most effective word.



"Christian" does mean something different to one person than to another. And there are fundamentalist Jews who are on board with the right wing politics and/or with Donald Trump. Most of them are of the Orthodox variety, though many Orthodox Jews are repelled by Trump and the right and a small percentage of non-Orthodox Jews are supporters.

Religious fundamentalists include not only Protestant and Jewish extremists but also Catholics of the Opus Dei variety and Islamism. Although it is unclear whether Seder was including Catholic extremists among Christian extremism, he may have omitted any references to Muslims or Islam if light of the opprobrium directed at Bill Maher whenever he refers in any manner to Islamic extremists.

If Seder had noted that, like some Christians and Jews, some Muslims are fundamentalist or dangerously right-wing, he would have been shunned, stripped of his liberal or progressive card, and confronted with a campaign calling for his cancellation. That acknowledgement is too much to ask of anyone, but a reminder from the left that not all Christians are radicals, hate-filled racist fascists, or wackadoodles is not only bold but will be extremely helpful if understood.



Saturday, September 17, 2022

Nuts to that


You may recall in May reading that

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the conspiracy theory-peddling Georgia Republican, shouldn't be disqualified over her role in the January 6 insurrection, a judge said Friday in a significant legal blow to the voters and advocacy groups who tried to throw her off the ballot.

State Judge Charles Beaudrot said in a 19-page recommendation that even if it is assumed that the US Capitol riot was an insurrection, "challengers have produced insufficient evidence to show that Rep. Greene 'engaged' in that insurrection after she took the oath of office on January 3, 2021."

The recommendation was submitted to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, who accepted the decision later on Friday night and formally ruled that Greene will stay on the ballot. The anti-Greene challengers said in a statement that they'll appeal Raffensperger's decision in state courts....

Beaudrot's recommendation comes weeks after he presided over an unprecedented all-day disqualification hearing in Atlanta, where lawyers for the voters who challenged Greene's candidacy tried to connect her and her militant rhetoric to the violent attack on the Capitol.

She testified for more than three hours at the hearing, becoming the first member of Congress to answer questions under oath about January 6. She denied knowing about plans for violence and repeatedly said she couldn't remember key facts -- like what she discussed with White House officials about the transfer of power, and with whom she spoke as January 6 approached.

The congresswoman's bad behavior continues, and if you're concerned about your shins, never ask Marjorie Taylor Greene "how does the Second Amendment prevent gun violence?"


Greene was re-nominated in May and will be re-elected in November. She is not "nuts," crazy, and probably not stupid. She knew enough months ago to plead amnesia in a court hearing when she conveniently was unable to remember much of anything so she'd neither be disqualified from running for office again nor subjected to possible charges of perjury.

The 44th President has been derided for several years for allegedly being nuts, crazy, or stupid. However, after Trump gained a favorable ruling on his extraordinary request for a special master- but before Aileen Cannon selected the Trump team's choice- the Washington Post's Philip Bump wrote

Trump, working with then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), pushed hard to fill vacancies on the bench (often ones held open by McConnell). He campaigned on filling those seats with ideological allies and often offered up nominees who checked two boxes: young and conservative. Then, out of office and finding himself in need of a judge’s favorable opinion, he sought out Cannon in particular. On Monday, that paid off — leaving legal observers perplexed (or worse).

Donald Trump, after running a lawless Administration and displaying authoritarian preferences, is still a free man- and his party's favorite for the 2024 presidential nomination. Marjorie Taylor Greene is the current and future United States Representative from the 14th C.D. of Georgia, making outrageous comments, toting a rifle, encouraging an insurrection, and kicking a reporter. And having the time of her life.

These people are evil. But "nuts?" Nuts to that.



Thursday, September 15, 2022

Tweet of the Day- Patronage


The good news is that Marjorie Taylor Greene has not recently encouraged the execution of Democratic politicians and FBI agents. The bad news is that what she is recommending is largely below the radar, more sinister, and is a glimpse into GOP plans for a totalitarian state.

 

In late July, former President Donald J. Trump

seemed to endorse a recently unveiled plan by a cadre of his former staffers to strip tens of thousands of federal workers of their civil service protections and fire them at will under the next Republican administration.

Trump spoke Tuesday at an event hosted by the America First Policy Institute, a think tank founded by former staffers in his administration. His speech came on the heels of an Axios report last week that former White House aides are planning to revive the controversial Schedule F, a job classification system that would take current federal workers in “policy-related” positions out of the competitive service, stripping them of civil service protections and making them effectively at-will employees.

Schedule F was authorized via executive order in October 2020, but the Trump administration failed to implement the measure before he left office in January 2021. One of President Biden’s first acts as president was to rescind the edict.

“We need to make it much easier to fire rogue bureaucrats who are deliberately undermining democracy or, at a minimum, just want to keep their jobs,” Trump said. “They want to hold onto their jobs. Congress should pass historic reforms empowering the president to ensure that any bureaucrat who is corrupt, incompetent or unnecessary for the job can be told—did you ever hear this—‘You’re fired, get out, you’re fired.’ [You] have to do it. Deep state. Washington will be an entirely different place.”

Those involved in the effort to revive Schedule F told Government Executive last week that they have identified 50,000 federal employees that could be fired under the proposed new authority, although they hope to fire only a fraction of that total to create a “chilling effect” to keep the rest of them in line.

Schedule F was reviled by members of both parties, as well as good government groups, academics and federal employee unions, when it was unveiled in 2020. But lawmakers failed to act at the time to prevent its implementation, with Republicans and some members of Democratic leadership concluding that it would go away once Trump left office. Some experts warned it would return in some form with the next Republican administration.

Oh, it will, because if the next Republican administration begins in January of 2025. it very likely will be President Trump or President DeSantis, both would-be authoritarians. The employees will all be expected to think and act exactly as the head of state expects them to, under penalty of being fired- or worse.

It's not sexy or astonishing like an insurrection or threatening the life of FBI agents.  But implementation of the ideas held by Donald Trump or Marjorie Taylor Greene about the federal workforce would put the nation well on its way to autocracy.

 


Wednesday, September 14, 2022

A Reasonable Trip Only in Context



This comment, of course, proved extremely satisfying to left Twitter:

 

Of course, the newspaper reporter(s) did no such thing. The article is behind Bloomberg's paywall but nowhere did Jacobs or her colleagues criticize Joe Biden for voting. In an extremely favorable account of Biden's action, The New York Times reports

On Tuesday evening, President Biden voted. The process involved a hasty announcement to the press, multiple motorcades and two jet flights.

In a last-minute move that demonstrated how the presidency complicates even the most mundane of tasks....

Uh, no. The President of the United States of America snaps his finger and its done, as when "President Trump set up a magic button in the Oval Office that summons a butler carrying a refreshing, ice-cold Coca-Cola."

Picking it up at that point

... Mr. Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden, flew home from the White House to Wilmington, Del., arriving at the polls less than an hour before voting in the state’s primary contests ended at 8 p.m. About an hour after they landed, they climbed back aboard Air Force One and jetted back to Washington.

The trip had not been on the president’s publicly released schedule. But the pilgrimage back to his home state to cast a vote is a familiar one for sitting presidents, and typically affords an opportunity to connect with voters.

Former President Barack Obama traveled to Illinois to vote in the 2014 midterm races while helping campaign for Gov. Pat Quinn. Mr. Biden also voted early from Wilmington during the 2020 presidential election, while his rival, former President Donald J. Trump, cast an early vote from West Palm Beach, Fla.

Good point, except that President Biden campaigned for no one on his quick trip to Wilmington, as it left him "little chance to do anything but travel to and from the polling place, in a performing arts center at a school, answer a few questions from reporters and make a quick stop at his Wilmington residence. "

Mr. Biden chose not to cast an early vote when he was home on Saturday, nor to cast an absentee ballot, opting instead for the royal treatment to which a USA President is entitled for better or for worse (the latter).

For that matter, we have learned over the pat five-and-a-half years, the President is entitled to whatever he wishes to be entitled to.  Instead of defending Biden- at convenient times, a supporter of energy conservation- for doing as he did, O'Brien and other Twitter acolytes of the President might have demanded that Bloomberg News put the matter into context. That would mean noting (Washington Post here, Seattle Times here) something like

President Trump’s company charges the Secret Service for the rooms agents use while protecting him at his luxury properties — billing U.S. taxpayers at rates as high as $650 per night, according to federal records and people who have seen receipts.

Those charges, compiled here for the first time, show that Trump has an unprecedented — and largely hidden — business relationship with his own government. When Trump visits his clubs in Palm Beach, Fla., and Bedminster, N.J., the service needs space to post guards and store equipment.

Trump’s company says it charges only minimal fees. But Secret Service records do not show that.

At Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, the Secret Service was charged the $650 rate dozens of times in 2017, and a different rate, $396.15, dozens more times in 2018, according to documents from Trump’s visits.

And at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, the Secret Service was charged $17,000 a month to use a three-bedroom cottage on the property, an unusually high rent for homes in that area, according to receipts from 2017. Trump’s company billed the government even for days when Trump wasn’t there.

Whataboutism is often unattractive. However, in this case "what about Trump?" would be on target because of the unprecedented perversion of the presidency in the last Administration. Biden's supporters could have used this relatively minor abuse of the office not only to remind voters of President Trump's corruption, but that the presidency has taken on a far greater imperial air than it ever has. They did not. As even he probably is not aware, Donald Trump has triumphed again. 



 



Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Ignoring the Real Culprit(s)

According to CNN, Maggie Haberman's upcoming book will feature the New York Times reporter and CNN contributor writing

that in the immediate aftermath of the November 3 elections, Trump seemed to recognize he had lost to Biden. He asked advisers to tell him what had gone wrong. He comforted one adviser, saying, "We did our best." Trump told junior press aides, "I thought we had it," seemingly almost embarrassed by the outcome, according to Haberman.

But at some point, Trump's mood changed, Haberman writes, and he abruptly informed aides he had no intention of departing the White House in late January 2021 for Biden to move in.


Left Twitter was not amused:

John Pavlovitz- Maggie Haberman is another in a long line of people who were willing to let democracy die on the altar of a book deal.

Keith OlbermannTrump: "I'm just not going to leave." Oh good, another fact, vital to the safety and continuation of the nation, that @maggieNYT withheld from the public for many months if not a year-and-a-half so she could put it in her fucking book

Michael J. SternMaggie Haberman's new book includes Trump being so unhinged, he refused to leave the White House after losing. Journalists who write books have a conflict of interest when they withhold valuable information so they can include it in their book, years in the future. It stinks.

Amie WexlerWhy didn’t Maggie Haberman report on this in real time? Don’t buy her book. Don’t reward this behavior.

And more, virtually all reflecting one or more these sentiments.

It's not clear how the not-quite lame duck period between November 3, 2020 and January 20, 2021 would have been altered had we been informed earlier- even assuming Haberman knew as it occurred- that President Trump was considering staying put. There was an attempted coup on January 6, 2021 even though Bill Maher and a few other individuals had been warning that Trump would not go quietly.



Still, let's stipulate that if a knowing journalist had righteously spilled the beans, the attempted insurrection would have been aborted before the mob arrived to try to take over the Capitol.  

Maggie Haberman earns a very fine salary, very likely somewhere this side of $200,000 annually, as a reporter for The New York Times.  Whatever her faults or prejudices, she has been able to maintain employment for approximately seven years at arguably the greatest newspaper in the world, and that's no mean feat.

By contrast, the most successful, by audience share, host on one of the three cable news networks is reputed to take down (by one estimate) in the vicinity of $30 million per year. That's real money. Rachel Maddow appears on air typically once a week and otherwise on election nights and at other, selected, times, in addition to working on special projects. It is not a daunting schedule.

If NBC Universal offered me this sweet deal, I'd take it, as would virtually every other human being, and evidently she's a cash cow for the network.  Nonetheless, it's a tremendous amount of money, which the network wouldn't be offering if it couldn't afford to do so- and didn't have more money where it came from.

Sure, The New York Times, frequently slammed for its imperfections by Soledad O'Brien and other liberal critics, could do more investigative reporting. But the Times, The Washington Post, and the (very) few other newspapers of national scope perform quite well their primary function, presenting the news fully and objectively.

Their reporters strive, usually successfully, to provide explanation and context lacking in cable news.  They work more hours at a more difficult job (typically) being paid less money than the talking heads at Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC.

It is not Rachel Maddow's fault that she has become extremely wealthy without laboring in the vineyards with the likes of Maggie Haberman. The blame should not attach primarily to Maddow and her colleagues but to NBC Universal, CNN Global (and ultimately Warner Brothers Discovery), and Fox News Media. Each has available to it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to offer its viewers actual in-depth information.

None will do it. None will do it because broadcast news has no incentive other than to present the most charismatic and most entertaining hosts for the pleasure of their viewers, most of whom are more interested in having their own views echoed by their personal favorites than in becoming more informed on any subject. It is past time for the left, on Twitter and elsewhere, to affix blame for corporate irresponsibility where it belongs, and it's not on the print media.

Maggie Haberman or major newspapers are often blasted for revealing information later than they should. Meanwhile, individuals such as Sean Hannity, Jake Tapper, and Rachel Maddow rarely reveal or uncover anything we didn't already know, are paid eight figure salaries, and are treated like rock stars. It's enough to make the angels weep.



Sunday, September 11, 2022

Tweet of the Day- Obama's Garland


At completion of this segment, Emergency Medical Services arrived and took Alice Stewart to the nearest emergency room:

 

If it weren't obvious that Stewart was peddling false history, consider

In March 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to justify denying a vote on Obama’s nomination of DC Circuit Court Judge Merrick Garland to replace Justice Antonin Scalia: “All we are doing is following the long-standing tradition of not fulfilling a nomination in the middle of a presidential year.”

There is no such tradition. The table shows the nine Supreme Court vacancies in place during election years in the Court’s post-Civil War era—once Congress stabilized the Court’s membership at nine and the justices largely stopped serving as trial judges in the old circuit courts. Those nine election-year vacancies (out of over 70 in the period) were all filled in the election year—one by a 1956 uncontested recess appointment and eight by Senate confirmation.

Franken left Alice Stewart figuratively battered and bloodied, as she deserved to be for spewing specious talking points. This is a price CNN pays for deliberately putting on the air Republicans who will distort and obfuscate, manipulate and lie, as long as they're not racist or hostile to immigrants.  They are what once were termed "moderate" Republicans or (George HW) "Bush Republicans" or in the modern parlance of Bill Stepien, "Team Normal" of Republicans.

It usually works. A Republican comes on spreading GOP fiction on health care, workers' rights, tax cuts, inflation, the courts, or "Hillary."-  and the host and Democratic guests are expected to hold their tongues and swallow it whole. Al Franken wouldn't play.

 

Friday, September 09, 2022

The Elite Honoring the Elite


Outsider reports

In the moments leading up to kickoff between the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams to open the 2022 NFL season, fans were treated to a rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Grammy-nominated artist Halle Bailey performed the song, also known as the “Black National Anthem.”

Some fans watching at home were left confused by the rendition, chiming in on Twitter with their thoughts. One user claimed the “Black National Anthem” only serves to divide the country.

There is no "claim" about it. If the purpose of the  "Black National Anthem" were to unite, rather than divide, the country, it would be called the "National Anthem."

Moreover

Another was wondering why fans in attendance treated the song as if it was the actual National Anthem.

A common theme in fans’ confusion was the timing of the song. It was played just moments before the league held a moment of silence to recognize the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, the United Kingdom’s longest-reigning monarch. The irony of it all stood out to one Twitter user.

It was one strange juxtaposition:


A good tweet- but "irony" is doing a lot of work there, substituting for "rank hypocrisy."

Two+ years ago, we were hearing a lot about "white privilege" (if not previously, now a phrase certainly deserving to be enclosed in quote marks).  Last year, we still were hearing about "white privilege." Even earlier this year, there were sporadic complaints about white privilege, bestowed upon individuals because of the advantage of being born with white skin in this nation.

Alas, we have learned that the phrase was devoid of meaning, unless an effort to slam poor and working-class white Americans for the privileges they enjoy as they struggle to pay for food, health care, and education beyond the twelfth grade.  We have learned that a sizeable chunk of society, including MSNBC and CNN (and of course, Fox News), is delighted that a small group of individuals is to be treated royally if born of the right parents, regardless of what the individuals have accomplished on their own.

There was no moment of silence for four residents of Memphis, Tennessee, who became victims of a horrible shooting spree a day before the death, at age 96 after a long and fulfilling life, of a famous citizen of Great Britain.  The NFL displayed its priorities, especially with the bizarre recognition of the death of Queen Elizabeth II intertwined with a rendition of the "Black National Anthem."

The monarch died a few hours after a shooting rampage in Memphis, Tennessee which left four people died.  American media, not surprisingly, paid little attention to the murder of several citizens of its own nation, choosing instead to report seemingly endlessly on the death of the monarch. 

If there is such a thing as "white privilege," there is no more obvious and no better example of it than the British monarchy.  The fawning over the death of Queen Elizabeth II in the USA has been more than an ugly editorial judgement.  It has been the celebration, and encouragement, of an institution clearly antithetical to the principle, however imperfectly honored, that all people are created equal in a liberal democracy.


 



Thursday, September 08, 2022

Tweet of the Day- Hillary/Chelsea



According to Hillary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton had it right, the operative phrase being according to Hillary Clinton.

 

The Washington Post in 2014 had reported

In her 2003 memoir, “Living History,” Hillary Clinton revealed the origin of her only child’s name. Chelsea Clinton has Judy Collins’s version of “Chelsea Morning” by Joni Mitchell to thank. The newly married Clintons were spending Christmas strolling through the Chelsea neighborhood in London when they heard that song. Bill then turned to Hillary and said, “If we ever have a daughter, we should name her Chelsea.” Talk about the stars aligning.

Evidently, Mrs. Clinton played along, which means either that she is very loyal to her daughter or the story in the 2003 memoir was a fable. Or maybe Jimmy Kimmel's "noise-cancelling headphones" are not quite as advertised.

 


Wednesday, September 07, 2022

Zig-Zag


Swan may have been referring to Alice Marie Johnson, whom Trump did not pardon but whose sentence he commuted, probably justifiably. Alternatively, Swan was referring to Jonathan Braun, described here as a "prolific predatory lender," who was additionally

finally sent to a prison north of New York City to serve a 10-year sentence for the drug charges. While he was there, New York’s attorney general sued him for usury, fraud, and harassment related to his lending. But then, in January 2021, he secured a last-minute grant of clemency from Trump. His sentence was commuted, and he was released. “Pardon Frees a Drug Smuggler Known for Violence and Threats,” as the New York Times put it in a front-page story.

It appears Braun thereupon returned to ripping off people left and right. That, combined with other drug pushers granted leniency by President Trump, suggests that Donald Trump is a hypocrite.

Nonetheless, there may be another factor.  In November of 2018, CNN's Jim Acosta asked the President "but do you think that you demonized immigrants in this election?"  Trump did not merely say "no" and proceed to ridicule or condemn Acosta, nor did he maintain that there are too many migrants heading to the border. Instead, he replied

Not at all. No, not at all. I want them to come into the country but they have to come in legally. You know, they have to come in, Jim, through a process. I want it to be a process. And I want the people to come in. And we need the people.

You may legitimately contend that arguing that immigrants entering the country was fine with the President as long as they were separated from other members of their family, worked for sub-human wages, and/or received no benefits or any help from the federal government.

Or maybe Trump really did want more immigrant workers. After Acosta responded "your campaign..." the President continued "Wait. Wait. Wait.  You know why we need those people, don't you? Because we have hundreds of companies moving in. We need the people."

It's unlikely this got much play on Fox News, Newsmax, OAN, Breitbart, or any part of the conservative media sphere, and otherwise it certainly did not. It didn't pierce the consciousness of the public or political  power players that Mr. "They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people” was advocating increased immigration.

As President, on at least this one occasion, Trump had pivoted to a traditional Republican approach on immigration, in which the newcomers are to be welcomed because they provide a cheap source of labor for the rich and powerful. Tellingly, this repartee with Acosta did not occur during a tight job market, when jobs allegedly are plentiful and going begging for workers, but when there were too few opportunities for job seekers and wages low.

It was a nod and a wink to the GOP establishment, one taken while the public, especially his supporters on the street- weren't paying attention.

Perhaps the media didn't believe the President because there was plenty on record to indicate that he was hostile toward immigrants, legal or illegal.

But there is another story to be told.  Aside from his other, almost innumerable faults, Donald Trump engages  in strategic hypocrisy, as he has with comments and actions toward drug dealers. Although admittedly he is very conservative, corrupt, crude, and bigoted, Trump is not stupid. He will contradict himself, trim his sails, or intentionally obfuscate an issue when it serves his political or financial interests. 

That contradicts the unofficial, but pervasive, narrative that President 45 is stupid, crazy, or so impulsive as to be self- destructive.  Donald Trump surely has mesmerized some 30-50% of the American public, those who would follow him off a cliff if he were to ask or defend him lustily if he is seen shooting someone on 5th Avenue. However, maybe a lot of the rest of us also have been duped, to his ongoing advantage.

 



Respect

Give New York Times columnist Bret Stephens his due. Back before black lives matter was a thing, and criticism of that thing would get a pe...