Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Sunday, December 31, 2017

This Man Should Not Be President

Been feeling pretty sick the last few days, but I can't say my health improved by reading Trump's "interview" with the NYTimes.  As Charlie Pierce notes, this is the exposure of a man in cognitive decline.  Trump was never a smart man, but he is now a stupid man in serious cognitive decline.

As Ezra Klein points out, Trump also manifests the Dunning-Kruger effect, where the least competent people often feel they are the most competent.  You simply don't know what you don't know.

In either case, Donald Trump - left to his own words and devices - incriminates himself at every step.

And it's still not enough to get Republicans to put country over party.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Change Has A Body Count

Mexico - as a country - has many of the hallmarks of a democracy.  The one thing it truly lacks is the "rule of law," the idea that the law applies to everyone from the weak to the powerful.

Mexico is trying to professionalize their courts and police forces.  The effort is going poorly, but it's really the only hope for Mexico in the long run.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Abusive Relationship

Martin Longman says that having Trump for a president is like being an abusive relationship.  I think that's not quite right, though the dynamic is at play.

The GOP is in an abusive relationship with Trump.  He is destroying them and everything they stand for, but they will never leave him.  Once he's dead or out of office, they will turn on him, as they mostly did with Dubya.  If the Democrats sweep into control of both Houses of Congress next November, we will start to hear whispers about how Trump was never a real Republican.  Those whispers have already started among the Libertarian/Neo-Con set that never really warmed to him. 

America needs a center-right party to function, though they should be punished for foisting this orange fartblossom on us.  I think 20 years as a minority party in all levels of government should be sufficient to root out the rot.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017


You have a sitting member of Congress wanting to "purge" the FBI and DOJ.  As Josh Marshall points out, this is part of a broader trend of the Republican party embracing authoritarianism.  As he notes, this preceded Trump, but it is in large part accelerating under him.

Language and ideas like this are why it's so critical that Democrats win control of at least one House of Congress next November.  Someone needs to put the breaks on this frightening movement of one of America's two political parties into the realm of Vladimir Putin's political ideas.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Your Christmas Present

I give you the words of Jeff Flake:

“When you look at some of the audiences cheering for Republicans sometimes, you look out there and you say, ‘Those are the spasms of a dying party,’ ” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said on ABC’s “This Week.” “By and large, we’re appealing to older white men, and there are just a limited number of them.”

In 2012, the conventional wisdom amongst the GOP was that Romney had failed to turn out enough white, male voters.  Trump managed to max out white men, by appealing to their sense that white men can't have as much fun as they used to, telling off color jokes and grabbing a little tush in the office.  I mean, what's a white guy to do if he can't be an asshole?

The problem is that the more Trump appeals to his asshole base, the more he loses those of us white guys who aren't assholes (I narrowly exempt myself), and energizes, well, everyone else.

Flake again:

“If we continue to go down that path, just to drill down on the base, then I think you have a lot of people realize there’s no future for them in this party,” Flake said. 

There is also the part where older people tend to...well, they die.  And increasingly, people under the age of 40 see no place for themselves in the Party of Trump.

Charlie Dent weighs in - implicitly - on the erosion of democratic norms under Trump.

“Before Donald Trump became president, the litmus test, it was really about the ideological purity and conformity” with Republican ideas, Dent said. “Now the litmus test has changed: It’s loyalty to the man.”
“If I set myself on fire for them, they would complain that the temperature of the flame isn’t hot enough,” the GOP lawmaker said, explaining how Trump was “a factor” in his decision to retire after his term ends next year. “It’s not about ideology anymore, it’s about loyalty to the president.”
If only there was something Dent and Flake could do now to limit Trump's power... If only they held some sort of leadership position in the US Congress...

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Racist Is As Racist Does

Donald Trump, Ladies and Gentlemen

If we are looking at this era in American politics from the near distant future, I hope we see it as the last gasp of the viability of racist politics.  For years - since Nixon - the GOP has been winning elections by wedding racists with economic elitists.  The election of 2016 was a stark example of the divide in our country between those who feel comfortable living with different people (city and some suburban dwellers) and those who don't (exurban and rural dwellers).  It required a perfect run of luck in a few Rust Belt states.  But Trump has perfectly exposed what the base of the GOP truly is. 

Will it make a difference?

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Pay Attention To The Pros

When word came out that Roy Moore was a creepy perv, you saw some fairly quick denunciations from members of Congress.  That accelerated over a week.  Then, about a week out of the election, they began to walk back their criticism (Jeff Flake and Richard Shelby being the exceptions).  My guess is that Moore's polling cratered, but then began to rebound as Republicans "came home."

Right now, GOP professionals believe that the GOP are headed for a "bloodbath" next November.  A lot can change, but we've already seen a lot of announced retirements.  Expect more as we get closer to the summer.  Guys will see what Jeff Flake saw and simply give up the fight. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Last Refuge Of Scoundrels

Turtle-American Mitch McConnell gave an interview where he predicted that 2018 would be about bipartisanship.  Of course, some of that is a reflection that he barely has the votes to pass a resolution in favor of apple pie once Doug Jones takes office.  Some is to create a cloak from whence to whine under when Democrats gain a small advantage in the Senate next November.

We have also seen paeans to bipartisanship from Doug Jones and Ralph Northam.  This has created apoplexy in some left-wing circles, because...politicians always speak the truth and never try and spin things?

Bipartisanship is traditionally thought to be popular - and among some Americans it still is.  So what would bipartisan legislation look like?

McConnell says he will allow votes on a DACA fix and Murray-Alexander, which was the price for getting the votes to pass the Kick America In the Nuts Act of 2017.  He will have those votes, and then it will promptly go down to defeat in the House, proving that Jeff Flake and Susan Collins are either dupes or cynics.  Still, from the Senate perspective, look for DACA, CHIP and probably Murray-Alexander to get votes and pass.  Whether they pass the House...

As far as new legislation, they probably need to address the opiod epidemic in some form.  There is, in fact, no good reason why there hasn't been significant legislation to address a plague that is killing tens of thousands of Americans every year, except that the GOP can't govern for shit.

McConnell is positioning himself to be - I can't believe I'm saying this - the moderate in comparison to Paul Ryan.  The House is unlikely to pass Murray-Alexander, though they might take up DACA and CHIP.  Opiod legislation would be popular, but since it would require the government addressing corporate malfeasance by Big Pharma, it will need to pass with Democratic votes.

Ryan can also be counted on to produce a draconian bill to slash entitlements.   Hopefully, he will do so, because you simply can't have too many attack ads.  But that legislation will die in the Senate, if McConnell even allows it to come to vote.

So "bipartisanship" for McConnell will likely come down to deals he made with GOP Senators to get a party-line vote on the odious tax bill to allow votes on popular legislation that will die in the House.

UPDATE: As I was drafting this, I kept getting distracted.  I forgot one obvious area that the Democrats and Republicans could come together: infrastructure.  However, this is CLEARLY a case where Democrats should withhold support unless it's a good bill.  Infrastructure spending is a good thing, and unless it meets Democratic objectives, they shouldn't vote for it, especially if their votes are required for passage.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Checking In On PVI

Cook's Partisan Voting Index is a tool to examine the partisan voting make up of each voting district.  Basically, how much does each district tilt towards Republicans or Democrats.  Some of this can be modified by the powers of incumbency, but waves tend to wash away those powers.  Given how unpopular the GOP's legislative agenda is, I don't think incumbency is going to be a bulwark against the coming blue wave.

Democrats hold an 11% advantage in the generic ballot.  To give you some perspective, Alabama has a PVI of +14 towards the GOP, and Doug Jones was able to eek out a win there.

So, what do we see?  Let's take the PVI GOP +5 districts.  These are districts that barely tilt Republican.  Many of them are in blue states like California, New York and New Jersey.  I think we can count on 80% of those states flipping to the Democrats.  That's 40 seats of the 50 that have a PVI tilt of 5% or less.  I could easily see that number creep up to all 50, but let's keep it at 40.

If we go up to a PVI of GOP+10, that adds 56 more seats. Lets be conservative and say that Democrats win 20 of those. 

That's 60 seats.  Democrats need 24 seats to get the House majority.

On the Senate side, the following states have elections in 2018 that have a GOP PVI of +5 or less:
Arizona (potentially two open seats)
Florida (D-inc)
Nevada (R-inc)
Ohio (D-inc)
Pennsylvania (D-inc)
Wisconsin (D-inc)

What about 10 points?
Indiana (D-inc)
Mississippi (R-inc)
Missouri (D-inc)
Texas (R-inc)

The two most endangered Democrats are Jon Tester (R+11), Joe Manchin (R+19) and Heidi Heitkamp (R+17).  But incumbency has some advantages when the wave is headed your way. 

The "Moderates" Always Cave

TPM walks through the Kick America In the Nuts Act of 2017, and it clearly illustrates the great truth of American politics: the GOP moderates always cave.

Bob Corker, who showed real spine in voting against the bill when it didn't matter, will vote FOR the bill now that it does.  All the while, his concerns about the deficit that allegedly lead to his "no" vote the first time have evaporated, even though the deficit looks to be made even worse by this bill.  There is also a provision that will personally enrich him.  Corker is a prime example of a Republican who talks the talk, but simply can't walk the walk. 

Susan Collins and Jeff Flake are going to vote for it based on nebulous promises from the world's biggest cynic, Mitch McConnell, and then Collins whines when people note that she's getting played by saying she's tired of the cynical press.  We know, for historical fact, that in a similar situation 8 years ago, Republicans demanded that Scott Brown be seated before there was a vote on ACA.  Now, they are rushing this bill through before Doug Jones can be seated.  Gee, Susan, why are people cynical about McConnell?

Here's my question.  This odious piece of plutocratic fellation, will pass in the next few days.  At that point, Flake and Collins lose all leverage.  Maybe Collins could become an independent and caucus with the Democrats, but that's about as likely as flowers in Maine in January.  What happens to Flake and Collins when the GOP ignores their demands?

We've seen time and time again that Republicans are craven before the demands of power and wealth.  They know they are likely going to see major defeats next November, and they simply don't care. 

We are governed by the worst people.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

American Plutocracy

The Times notes that the Kick America In The Balls Act of 2017, which will be "rammed down our throats" in the next few days, isn't creating inequality, it is a product of it.  The only people who really want this bill are a slice of the 1% and the Deplorables who will support, simply because "suk it libtards harharhar."

It's not even ALL the 1%, as this video demonstrates.  You have a millionaire somewhat bravely explaining how we have warped the tax code to reward wealth over work.  By the way, "Putting Work Over Wealth" is a nice bumpersticker, Democrats.  You're welcome.

But the donor class is whom this Congress serves.  We've had Republican members of Congress basically say that their donors won't pick up the phone if they aren't showered with money. 

We are governed by the worst people.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Coming Crisis

All the signs point to the GOP killing the Mueller probe.  They are about to get their precious tax cuts for the super-rich, presumably whatever use they have had for Trump is close to over.  Trumpism has cost them a Senate seat in Alabama and a shot at the Virginia governor's mansion.  Yet, there are growing signs that the GOP is gearing up to delegitimize Mueller's probe by the usual bullshit conspiracy crap that has already turned their party into an intellectual and moral wasteland. 

Firing Mueller would be the Saturday Night Massacre on steroids, and it certainly seems that the Republican Congress is perfectly fine to go along with it.  When Nixon did it, it was the beginning of the end for him.  That is unlikely to be the case here.  Roughly 40% of Americans would cheer them on in eviscerating the rule of law in this country, because libtards suck it harharhar.

I honestly wonder if we don't wind up with political violence on the left if this happens.  That would be very, very bad, as it would allow Trump the opportunity to go full Reichstag Fire.

Suicide Squad

Matthew Yglesias basically says that the GOP is floundering its way off the deep end.  As they get pummeled in places like Virginia, losing the suburban vote.  As they lose narrowly in Alabama, of all places.  As they see their poll numbers decline below head lice...

Their decision seems to be to go "all in" on being shitty.

Tax breaks for billionaires?  What a compelling message to voters!

Ending net neutrality?  People LOVE their cable companies!

Depriving children of health insurance?  Who doesn't love making kids sicker!

Deporting DREAMers?  Who cares about kids (see above)!

It seems the thinking goes something like this: Republicans are likely going to get creamed next November.  They will still have Trump's veto pen, should they lose control of both chambers, so these horrible decisions will stay on the books until 2021.  Maybe they will "sink in" like Obamacare.  Except, no.

The minute Democrats get control of all three bodies of government, you can expect that Kick America In the Ball Act of 2017 to be repealed.  In fact, Democrats (should?) will run hard against it, so I would expect even higher rates of taxation on capital.  Efforts to screw around with healthcare will simply lead to more expansion of health care coverage.  Immigration reform will top the docket.

I guess all these Republican Congressmen who are about to get tossed out of office are preparing a place for themselves in the private sector.  Seven figure annual paydays for selling out the rest of us.

UPDATE: Krugman believes in the K Street angle, too.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Day America Forfeited It's Claims To Justice

I can't look at this without weeping.

Shivving The Refs

As they quiver in the wake of Alabama's election results, Republicans have to worry about their connection to the toxic politics of Trump.  As Scott Lemieux points out, Trump did not repeal the laws of gravity.  He won because he won an improbably close set of elections in a unique electoral environment.  The specific weaknesses of Hillary Clinton matched up well with the specific strengths of Donald Trump.

Yet, for some reasons, Republicans still feel compelled to defend this Cheetoh colored fart cloud.

The attacks on Robert Mueller's investigation are the latest example of how far Republicans will go to defend the indefensible.  A calm exemplar of this is Andrew McCarthy's piece that gently hints that maybe Mueller's probe is fatally flawed because some of the people who worked for him had...opinions.  The Editorial Board corrects this.  We know, for instance, that FBI agents in the NY office had a very low opinion of Hillary Clinton.  This may have contributed to the email nontroversy, but the FBI didn't file charges in the end, because they are the FBI, not the Stasi. 

In the debate over Al Franken, I've argued that Democrats have to defend our expectations of what we want from our institutions.  The Republicans have become a party of nihilists, wrecking the fabric of our civic life in the pursuit of power in the service of great wealth.  Now they are turning their sights on the institutions of law enforcement.

We are ruled by the worst people.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Read More David Roberts

Roberts writes a piece where he catalogs how the Right has cauterized themselves off from reality, and how that plays out in our institutions.  In particular, he looks at the Al Franken case where the Democrats have held themselves to standards of morality that Republicans reject on some levels. I do think however, the resignation of Trent Franks is a counterargument to the idea that Republicans don't care at all.

What often goes unargued in these pieces is the fact that basic institutions and norms are under attack from Hair Furor on a daily basis.  When Democrats step up and have a liberal lion like Franken resign, they aren't simply clarifying their political message against Trump and Moore (though that helps).  They are also standing up for institutions that don't have sexual offenders in them. 

That's important, too.

Ready! Fire! Aim!

The Democratic Republican party is in disarrayTrump of course, is claiming he was right all along.  In fact, McConnell and the establishment GOP was right that Roy Moore was unelectable. That won't stop the recriminations from flowing against Steve Bannon's plan to unleash the id of the GOP - naked and foaming at the mouth - upon an unsuspecting electorate.

There were a few reasons to accept a Roy Moore victory - mainly that Republicans would have to spend quite a lot of time defending his presence in the Senate.  A Jones victory brings several positives to the Democrats.

First, any win is precious for a party still reeling from Clinton's loss.

Second, Jones is a reliable vote against Republican legislation in a Senate body that is already a struggle to find 50 votes for an unpopular legislative agenda.  Tax reform might have died last night.

Third, Jones opens the door to Democrats taking control of the Senate next fall.  That would give them subpoena power and the possibility that they could block radical appointees.

But most importantly, Jones' win in crimson Alabama should unleash a war between Bannon's populist wing and the establishment GOP.  To a degree, that establishment is capturing Trump via legislation.  If an open rupture occurs over candidates like Moore, that could greatly advantage Democrats.

My fondest hope is that Bannon leads his moronic followers out of the GOP into a quixotic third party bid for white supremacists. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Thank You, Black People

Doug Jones just won the Alabama Senate seat.  In some ways, Roy Moore was a win-win for Democrats, as his presence in the Senate would be a millstone around the neck of the GOP.  Doug Jones winning means that the Democrats now have a legitimate chance to at least get to 50-50 in the Senate next November.  The building Blue Wave should protect most Democratic incumbents, and it should result in a win in Nevada.  Arizona and Tennessee are kind of interesting, as is -  don't laugh - Texas.

Doug Jones will almost certainly lose re-election in 2020, because Roy Moore is unlikely to be the Republican nominee.  Of course, my fondest hope and dream is that Steve Bannon looks at how the institutional GOP - guys like Richard Shelby - turned their back on dear sweet Roy and his one Jewish lawyer and that cost him victory in a very tight race.  As of now, the write-ins look to be within the margin of victory.

I think Steve Bannon should form a third party made up of real, gawd feerin Muricans like Roy Moore and run against those DC establishment types.  This is a great idea, Steve.  Start recruiting by Ammon Bundy for Nevada and Joe Arpaio for Arizona to run for Senate on the Murican Party line!  That will show those cucks who's boss!

Anyway... I want to take a moment and sincerely thank black people.  I want to thank you for so many things, not least of all our 44th president.  But I also want to note that it was literally Selma, Alabama's vote returners that pushed Doug Jones ahead of Roy Moore to stay.  (I saw it on Twitter, I don't care if it's true.)  African American voters, especially women, are the reason - the only reason - a credibly accused child molester, a religious bigot, a man opposed to the Constitution, civil rights and basic human decency is not going to be a US Senator.

Fifty-four years ago, Alabama governor, George Wallace, stood in the school house door to oppose desegregation and equal rights.

Today, African Americans stood in lines at the polling place doors to oppose a different but equally poisonous form of bigotry.  Everyone - black or white or brown - who voted for Doug Jones today is a fucking hero in my book.

So, thank you.

Loopholes! We Got Loopholes!

Jon Chait makes a point I've been making.  The GOP Kick America In The Nuts Bill of 2017 is so poorly written, so shoddily put together that it will create a massive wave of tax avoidance that would make the Greeks blush.

Once item of good news: We could get hammered by the end of the SALT deduction (State And Local Tax), but Connecticut could simply change from an income tax to a payroll tax, raise the same amount of money, protect its citizens and the services those taxes pay for....and punch an even bigger hole in the deficit.

Monday, December 11, 2017

My Theory

Jennifer Rubin is ostensibly a conservative blogger at WaPo.  Yet I'm hard pressed to find a more vitriolic anti-Trump voice.  Today, she takes on two targets: the Know Nothing Trump Voter and the media who can't stop going on Cleetus Safaris.  You've no doubt read a few Cleetus Safari pieces, where the intrepid NYTimes reporter heads to some godforsaken, dying mill town and comes back with the revelation that white people who don't know shit about shit voted for Trump.

What Rubin explores at the end of her piece is the counterpoint.  For every embittered WWC male who blames his lack of employment on coloreds instead of Wall Street there's a pissed off suburban woman or two who has had enough. 

It's been interesting to see the divisions on Twitter and blogs about Franken stepping down.  Roughly there are two schools: "He had to go, because you can't tolerate that behavior" and "How come only our guys are held accountable, why don't Democrats play hardball."  The calculus of jettisoning Franken is driven, I think, by the anger among a very sizable portion of the population and one that could swing dramatically in Democrat's direction.  Roy Moore, should he win tomorrow, becomes a cudgel for Democrats to pummel the hypocrisy and greed for power at the expense of decency of the Republican Party. 

Rubin - who was an avid supported of Mitt Romney - is one of millions of Republican leaning women who are abandoning the GOP in the Age of Trump.  If Democrats catch a wave next November, it will be on the wind of millions of angry sighs from exasperated women.

Not Quite Surrounded

Very good article about the long standing prevalence of white supremacists and authoritarians in America.  However, I don't like the word "surrounded."  This is about 27-35% of the population that has managed to distribute themselves advantageously around the country.  I'm hopeful the actuarial table carries most of them away, but they will always be there.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Le Sigh....

Time for the monthly "Democrats Are In Disarray" story from a major news source.  Democrats have always been a fractious bunch, but the idea that they don't have a coherent message is irrelevant.  My comment below the story:

Here's a question: Why do Democrats need one message? Why shouldn't a Democrat running in a Philly suburb run on one thing, and another in rural Nebraska run on another? Why shouldn't one candidate stress economic fairness while another focuses on criminal justice and immigration reform? That's not to say the latter candidate isn't for economic fairness, too, but rather each candidate should run an authentic campaign for them and their constituencies.

I don't see why Democrats need to produce one bumper sticker for Arizona and Upstate New York simultaneously.  Stand for economic fairness.  Stand for minorities.  But until you have a presidential candidate, you don't need a national message.  You need hundreds of local ones, providing they fit within the bigger tent.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them

Al Franken began his political career by writing about the mendacity of the Right Wing Wurlitzer in the book with the same title as this post. 

How sad that the day he had to resign saw this little nugget from the WaPo.  Trump is a profoundly, profoundly dishonest person.  As the story notes, he is also a liar who uses his lies to be cruel and belittle people.

I'll say again and as many times as I need to.  Donald Trump is the logical end point of two decades of the Right creating a narrative about the world that is false and divisive.  The tax "plan" worming its way through Congress is proof enough that the entire Republican Party lives in a world of lies and ignorance.

Sorry, Comity Police, but that's just how it is.  And, no, David Brooks, it wasn't caused by Trump.  It has been there all along.

Friday, December 8, 2017

FFS Alabama

Roy Moore like Vladimir Putin more than Ronald Reagan.  While the Cult of Reagan is ridiculous, it appears to be dying.  Many have quipped that Reagan would be called a RINO by today's Republicans, but this is an amazing quote.

I haven't heard anything, but it's an appalling missed opportunity if Democratically aligned independent groups weren't trying to convince Alabama Republicans to write-in ANYONE but Moore.  They should've thrown resources behind Lee Busby.  All they need at this point is about 10% of the electorate who can't vote for either guy, but might vote for Moore because of the R next to his name, to stay home next week.  Or vote for a write-in. 

There is an excellent chance that Roy Moore becomes a gift to Democrats as a foil, but there is another argument.  I think Franken had to resign, because he had lost public confidence.  Some Democrats are pissed, because Trump is still in office despite doing much worse.  But Democrats need to be the party that stands for the institutions of this country.  That means Franken needed to go and Roy Moore needs to be defeated by any means necessary, including a little ratfucking. 


There are little snippets coming out seemingly every few hours.  This piece of the timeline. That meeting is clarified. 

I have to confess, I'm struggling to maintain interest in the arcane sub-details.  I can only imagine how others feel.

Some of this is just journalists obsessing over the evolution of a story.  I'm already convinced of Trump's guilt, so what do I care about an additional damning detail about who emailed whom?

Still, I don't think it's having as a big an impact on average people as Trump's own outrageously shitty behavior is.

Thursday, December 7, 2017


I get torn back and forth on the saga of Al Franken.  His behavior was demeaning and inappropriate, if every word is true it's perhaps a little worse than that.  He denies that all of the allegations are true, but the pattern for people who harass is pretty clear - it's never a one time thing. 

Ana Marie Cox makes a solid point that men like Franken aren't being denied due process, because they aren't being charged with crimes.  They are losing their jobs, and people lose their jobs for non-criminal reasons all the time.  Franken and Conyers held jobs of public trust, and their behavior violated that trust.

The fact that Trump remains president and Roy Moore stands a very good chance of becoming the next Senator from Alabama is, of course, troubling.  I get people who say that this "isn't fair."  Why should Democrats hold themselves to a higher standard? 

Probably because someone has to.  Right now, the Republican party is clothing itself in ignominy.  They are tolerating a mentally incapable, emotionally unstable serial predator as president.  They are likely about to welcome a pedophile into the Senate.  Their legislative agenda is morally outrageous, stealing from the sick to give to the rich.

I think a lot of Democrats feel that there will never be a reckoning for men like Trump.  There's ample reason to feel that way, looking at the last year and a half.  However, the reckoning always comes.  It may not feel like it, but eventually the hammer falls.

I have to believe that.

Survival Mode

Martin Longman makes an important point (of course).  Trump's rash decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem is going to get people killed.  Israelis and Palestinians will die, as the violence has already started.  But Americans will die, too.  My family is considering a trip to Europe this summer, and I've wondered what our reception would be as Americans.  And then there's North Korea.

Trump is a dangerous, unbalanced man.  He is mentally and cognitively impaired; he will never grow into the job.  He's a compulsive liar.  He's a dangerous narcissist and sexual predator.

So the idea that it's "too soon" to talk impeachment seems dangerously complacent.  Obviously, it is beyond unlikely that Trump will be impeached or removed from power, especially with the current Congress.  Even if Democrats capture the House and have the votes to impeach, it will be impossible to convict in the Senate without Republican votes.  That doesn't absolve Congress from their responsibility. 

Republicans have already demonstrated that they won't do a damned thing to hold Trump accountable.  At some point, Democrats need to go to the barricades.  They need to stop pretending that this is a normal difference of opinion.  This fecking lunatic will get millions killed, and anyone who doesn't work now to make it plain that he doesn't represent them should be held complicit.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Bring It On

Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital is a terrible, terrible idea.  It will inflame the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and lead to increased animosity towards America in the Arab world.

What if that's the point?  One theory about Trump is that he's an expert at distraction.  With Mueller circling, why not create a crisis?  If Americans die in a terrorist attack that is a retaliation for this...doesn't that justify all of Trump's virulent anti-Islamic statements?  Don't you think Trump is secretly craving a 9/11 of his own?

Or maybe, he's really just good at distracting himself.  Maybe he wants to do all these crazy things - most of which are touchstones of the Far Right - to prove that he's a big boy president who can do big boy things.

I don't know which is more depressing.

Oh, and fuck you, Republicans, for saddling us with this bloated orange meatsack.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


Catherine Rampell does a nice sketch of the rise of populism and the betrayal of right wing populists by the current GOP.  Essential to this - and Rampell catches it - is that populism is ultimately on some forms about scapegoating.  Even the populist left is guilty of this, in that much of their thinking is simplistic on many issues.  The right is not only guilty of scapegoating, but their targets are inevitably those who can least defend themselves.

The Enduring Mystery Of Our Age

Apparently, Mike Pence was open to staging a coup against Candidate Trump in October of 2016.  But, you know, he didn't.  Mr. Potter Cosplay Enthusiast Orrin Hatch basically confirmed the new Republican Party mantra: We're OK with pedophiles, as long as we can eviscerate the social safety net.

Basically, within a year Trump has ripped any spine or moral compass from the GOP (providing any existed in the first place).  He has exposed to anyone who cares to watch that all the worst things that Democrats have been saying about Republicans - they hate women's sexual freedom, they hate the poor, they hate minorities and immigrants, they serve the rich at the expense of the public good, they don't know how to govern - are all accurate representations of the Grand Old Party.

What is so damned mystifying is why Republicans allowed this to happen.  Why didn't they find a way to replace Trump on the ballot?  And now that he's president, why don't they simply boot him to the curb and replace him with Mike Pence.  Pence will sign everything Trump will sign and he'll stay off Twitter in the interim.

That's why a Doug Jones victory could be so bracing.  Right now, I think Roy Moore win the election.  And that just continues to prove John Oliver's joke that "Nothing matters anymore."  But if Jones can win, it shows a dramatic limitation to Trumpist politics.  And perhaps facing imminent electoral doom, Republicans will finally get off their ass and rid the country of the incompetents, traitors and crooks who currently occupy the West Wing.

Monday, December 4, 2017

War Pig

Jon Chait notes that Republicans have declared war on economics.

I think we can expand that to war on mathematics.

And climate science.

And pluralism.

And Hispanics.

And women.

And African American voting rights.

And the idea that police shouldn't kill people for no reason.

And Islam.

And legal marijuana.

And the idea that pedophilia is bad.

And children's health insurance.

And everyone else's health insurance.

Oh, and North Korea any minute now.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Hot Enough To Stretch Metal

I want you to read this shit and get back to me.

Gosh!  We don't have enough money to give those undeserving, lazy children health insurance, because we had to shower money on the 1% in an estate tax cut. 

I mean....ARRRRRGH.  We are talking about goddamned kids here!  And they are the "undeserving poor" whereas some moronic crotchspawn like Eric Trump deserves a few million more than he might otherwise get?

Socialism never sank deep roots in America for a number of reasons, but if it does gather steam - and it's already pretty popular among the Yutes - it will be because these fuckwads passed the steaming pile of dogshit the other night.

Go To The Mattresses

Loathsome human-turtle-snake hybrid Mitch McConnell thinks that Democrats would be fools to shutdown the government over DACA.

They would be fools not to.

Right now, most of the country is on their side on both the tax bill and the Dreamers.  But the Democrats have very little leverage to force change except through government shutdowns and debt ceiling votes.  Since Republicans control all branches of government, they will very likely be held responsible for any shutdowns or debt crises.  Democrats have to hang tough here. 

A lot of the "analysis" of the tax plan was that it was a "win" for the Republicans - even if it was an odious POS bill that funnels more and more money to the richest Americans.  Democrats and their supporters need a "win," too.  DACA should be that win.  It's popular, it's doable and it's worth it.

Plus - and I can't believe I'm saying this - Democrats shouldn't be afraid if shutdowns or debt defaults cause economic pain.  It will wind up hurting the Republicans.  And right now, purging the system of the sort of people who raise taxes on grad students so they can cut them on private jets is more important that GDP growth over the next few years.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Well, They Did It

Under cover of night, they went and passed an atrocious giveaway to the 1% that will likely hurt a great many poor and middle class people before all is said and done.  We don't even know all the crap they piled in there.  Maybe it gets better in reconciliation, but I can also see the House simply pass the Senate bill.

Next time any Republican (aside, I guess, from Bob Corker) talks about the deficit, you can go ahead and punch them in the throat.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Kakistocracy, An Ongoing Series

Today, possibly...probably...the GOP Senate will vote on and perhaps pass a major overhaul of the nation's tax code.  And they have no real idea what the hell is even in it.

When Democrats were passing the ACA, it took a full year.  There were numerous hearings, votes, amendments - remember the Cornhusker Kickback?  That was both added and then subtracted from the final bill through the amendment process.  It was sausage making at it's finest.

What the GOP is doing is political malpractice.  They are cutting taxes without any idea what the possibly side effects might be.  They are punishing grad students, teachers... you know, Book Learners...because they are just atrocious people.

It's so baffling, as there is clearly a tax bill out there that could be popular (this one isn't) and could pass with broad bipartisan support. 

We are currently ruled by the absolute worst people in America.  That's not hyperbole.  They are going to take healthcare away from the working poor so that they can give billionaires more money.  They are the worst people in America.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Too Much Horribleness To Process

The firehose of shit coming through the American political system in the Age of Trump is impossible to properly process.

But here's an attempt: Roy Moore doesn't believe that women should run for office, and he's really not so sure about the whole women voting thing.

Nevertheless, Roy Moore will win a majority of white women's votes in Alabama.  Because Baby Jeebus.

Deck Chairs

Rumors swirl that there will be a shakeup in the Trump National Security team.  Tillerson is out.  Pompeo moves from CIA to State.  Tom Cotton moves to CIA.

Two things I notice. 

First, essentially replacing Tillerson with Cotton makes for a lot more Iran Hawks in the NatSec team.  I'm coming to worry that Trump will start a war to boost his flagging ratings.  I hope (?) that enough voices like McMaster, Mattis and Kelly have impressed upon him the dangers of attacking North Korea.  The dead would top a million human souls.  Given Trump's bellicose anti-Islamic bigotry, strikes against Iran makes "sense" in the narrow meaning of "likely to happen."  Of course, any conflict with Iran will be a disaster.  It will legitimize the rule of men like Khamenei and delegitimatize the reformist politics of men like Rouhani.  It will spike oil prices as the Straits of Hormuz will be closed.  It will reignite sectarian warfare across the Middle East.  Still, replacing Tillerson with Cotton makes it all more likely.

Second, Tillerson went from a "respected" CEO of one of the largest corporations in the world to becoming a whipping boy for a "moron."  He is a Republican in the sense that he is a rich, old white guy who doesn't like it when the gubmint says he can't dump pollutants in the groundwater.  He is not, however, a partisan creature.

I look forward to his tell-all tour. 

No Confidence

Ezra Klein makes the case that impeachment is whatever Congress says it should be - that's what the Framers intended.  I think he's right.  The necessity for a 2/3rds vote in the Senate necessitates that it's not a simple vote of no-confidence.  It has to be manifest that the President should be removed from office.

What is unquestionably clear is that Trump has absolutely zero business being President.  It was clear before the election, but the Republican electorate decided that beating Hillary was more important than having a president who wasn't mentally, emotionally and temperamentally unfit to hold the office.

I think Klein is right up and down the argument.

I also think not enough Congressional Republicans have the spine God gave an earthworm.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Normalizing Predation

Paradoxically, I think that all the allegations that are coming out against various male members of the media and Congress are actually increasing the odds that Roy Moore becomes a United States Senator.

Every time a new report comes out that Matt Lauer or Garrison Keillor or whomever was a creepy perv who used power for sexual exploitation, it actually tends to normalize that behavior.  I'm not saying that this is a reason not to come forward with these allegations, but if you are being told, "Don't vote for Roy Moore, he preys on young women." Well, who isn't preying on young women?  Now, obviously, what Roy Moore did is categorically worse than anything these other guys did.  He was preying on under-aged girls.  That's a category difference. 

But, if you're a Republican from Alabama, and you were wavering in your support for Moore, because he was an awful human being...well, who are we to judge?  Aren't we all sinners?  Isn't the continued presence of Al Franken and John Conyers just proof that what Roy Moore did isn't disqualifying?  Again, that's bullshit logic.  Moore preyed on a 14 year old.  But it doesn't have to make sense to work. 

I was really hopeful that Republican women in the suburbs of Birmingham, Mobile, Montgomery and Hunstville would gag on Moore.  That they would turn away from a guy who would molest children.  But the drumbeat of revelations - and what is more, revelations that target media and Democrats - will allow them to sigh regretfully and vote for the predator.

Just like they did last November.


Trump has been even more unhinged than usual on Twitter recently.  He's also apparently divorced from reality.  This morning, he retweeted a video from a British hate group.  His response to Matt Lauer's firing is to change the subject to the fact that NBC runs stories he doesn't like ("fake news").

I think Donald Trump is a profoundly stupid man, because he thinks he's smart.  One of the first things a smart person realizes is how much she doesn't know.  But I also think he's a compendium of psychological maladies, and the stress of the presidency seems to be exacerbating them.

Thanks, Republicans.  Hope you enjoy your tax cuts for billionaires.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Silver Lining

If the Kick America In The Nuts Act of 2017 actually passes, I really like this take.  Glass half full, bishes.

Read This

Where does racism come from?  Segregation.  Which causes more racism.

Keeping Score

So, in the last few days...

- Trump kind of endorsed a child predator for Alabama Senate.
- Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act.
- Wall Street Watchdog CFPB is under assault.
- Rex Tillerson continues to dismantle the entire State Department.
- Trump dropped a racial slur about Native Americans at a ceremony to honor Native Americans.
- The Republicans continue to march bravely into the late 19th century with their tax bill.
- The NY Times is normalizing Nazis.

How the hell will our system of government survive another three years of this shitshow?

I mean, we barely survived Obama wearing a tan suit.

Happy Christmas Season

This came on the Twitter:

Christmas is about believing what a woman said about her sex life.

Christmas is about a family finding safety as refugees.

Christmas is about a child in need receiving support from the wealthy.

Christmas is about God identifying himself with the marginalized not the powerful.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Whip Counts 2.0

Jesus.  Does anyone actually support the Kick America in the Nuts Act of 2017?

The Week Of Whip Counts

The Kick America In The Nuts Act of 2017 could come to a vote as soon as this week.  Turns out this bill will immisserate the poor even more than we thought.  Somewhere, Paul Ryan just became semi-erect.

Since it is a truly atrocious bill - a Democratic attack ad in legislative form - all 48 Democrats are opposed.  That means three Republicans need to flip to stop this from happening.  So who should we keep an eye on?

First there are the "Moderates."  Susan Collins is a likely no vote.  Lisa Murkowski remains in play.  In their avarice to slash taxes on the rich, the Republicans have also found a way to cripple Obamacare's premium structures.  However, that could put Murkowski in the "No" column.

Second, we have the "Senatorial Mandarins."  John McCain has been railing against the destruction of Senatorial norms, including "regular order."  This bill didn't go through regular order, so he might give it a literal thumbs down.  The Mandarins also overlap with the next group: The Deficit Hawks.

The Deficit Hawks are the most interesting group.  For the most part, the GOP doesn't give two shits about deficits, when it comes to cutting taxes on rich people.  They care about them only when it comes time for Democrats to enact social spending.  However, this bill is a fiscal nightmare, to the degree that some quite conservative members have a problem with it. Koch entity Ron Johnson is currently opposed, and Jerry Moran of Kansas has expressed real doubts, since his state has seen the traumatic effects of rampant tax cutting.  Kansas is a complete disaster because of precisely the sort of bill the GOP is proposing. Steve Daines or Montana has registered his disapproval. Who knows where Rand Paul stands, but presumably it's not next to a riding mower.

Finally, we have the Retirees.  McCain likely fits into this group, but so do Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, who share concerns with the Mandarins and the Deficit Hawks.  This really is a shitty bill, and if those two really cared about the legacy of this Congress, passing a completely terrible bill just to say that you've passed SOMETHING, might be too much for them.

Of course, if they make the plan palatable to Murkowski, Moran, Daines and Corker, with McCain and Collins voting against it and Pence breaking the tie, that still means it has to be reconciled with the House, and if it doesn't punish the poor enough, you could lose votes there, too.

The solution, of course, is to pass a much narrower band of tax cuts that mostly go to the working and middle classes, bypasses the poor and then gifts money to corporations through a corporate tax cut.  The estate tax and pass through corporations don't get any cuts, and you don't cut taxes on the 1% by much at all.  That bill - while also damaging to the country's fiscal situation - would by much more popular and easier to pass.

The Republican party has almost come to believe Trump's insane Twitter boasts.  They think Mr. 47% of the popular vote and their gerrymandered districts constitute some mandate to do something drastic.

The great punchline of 2017 is that Trump voters are motivated by "economic anxiety" when they are really motivated by racial and status anxiety.  However, the bill that the GOP is proposing could be used as a cudgel by Democrats in 2018 and 2020.  It's amazing that they want to go through with it.

UPDATE: Add James Lankford to the Deficit Hawks.  I'm skeptical that they will actually hold the line, but...anything that gets the Good Guys to 51.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

If Only It Would Make A Difference

Martin Longman has flagged a basic confession about what Russia was trying to do in the 2016 election (and other elections elsewhere).  This was written, apparently, a few days after the election last year.  It's a Russian propagandist spiking the football about Russia's involvement in the campaign.

I do think small but solid majorities of Americans believe that Russia had a hand in electing Trump.  That's one of many reasons why his approval ratings are historically low.

The problem - as always - is not the reasonable people.  It's the Republicans.

Not the various mouthbreathing MAGA types who are rolling coal and stockpiling guns for the coming race war, but the average everyday Republicans who voted for Trump because he wasn't Hillary.  They got played.  They don't won't to hear that they got played.

So, even though we have a Russian basically laying out the early process of how they started helping Trump, including the role of Cambridge Analytical, it simply won't make a difference for the fact averse, GOP universe.

And I don't know how we correct that, because if 40-50% of the population simply doesn't care about objective facts...How does democracy work?

Friday, November 24, 2017

Well, This Is Interesting

There is some evidence that Michael Flynn has started cooperating with Robert Mueller.  Flynn has always been the linchpin to the whole sordid Russia story.  I was surprised when Mueller didn't ask for indictments of Flynn when he got the Grand Jury to indict Manafort.  Apparently, he was simply squeezing Flynn, especially with threats to indict Flynn's son.

As a side note, it's very, very unlikely that Mueller concludes his investigations without uncovering a shitload of dirt on Trump.  Trump's business model in NY real estate is crooked as hell.  

What's sad is that we could've been spared the worst president since Andrew Johnson if only we had the legal resources and political desire to prosecute wealthy people for their crimes with the same vigor we go after guys selling dime bags of weed on the corner.

ADDED: It's a pretty good sign that Trump has gotten bad news, if he starts attacking black athletes in his Twitter feed.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Let's Stop Pretending

That Trump is anything but a bog standard racist.

Trumpism In A Nutshell

This article shows the lengths that the Trumpenproletariat will go to "piss off libtards."  In fact, I would argue that "piss off libtards" is the entire ideology of the Trumpenproletariat.  It's not about tax cuts or health insurance or the wall; it's about pissing people off.  It's about the destruction of our common polity.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Things Are Getting Bad

I mean, that headline is kind of redundant here in Trumpistan, but I'm suddenly getting queasy.

I have presumed that the GOP tax cuts were in jeopardy, because there was no way to reconcile the desires of the Nihilist wing of the GOP with the Byrd Rule.  Then, they came out with a tax plan so cartoonishly evil that I figured it was DOA.  Treating graduate school tuition remission as income?  That's...I mean that's just evil.  Killing the SALT deduction?  Political suicide.

This tax plan is an attack ad written specifically for Democrats.

The GOP then doubled down by trying to remove the individual mandate from Obamacare.  I thought that might peel off Collins and Murkowski, but now Murkowski says she's fine with that

Right now, the only hope of killing this monstrosity of a giveaway to the 1% is to try and run out the clock, hope Doug Jones wins in Alabama (I'm feeling less certain about that recently) and then hope Collins and maybe Corker kill it on the merits.  I'm not convinced Johnson and Paul will vote against it because it's not evil enough. I think they will accept that it's just evil enough for them.

From net neutrality to elephant trophies to crushing grad students to giving away hundreds of billions to those who already have it...We really are being ruled by the worst people.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Further Adventures Of Economic Anxiety

Adam Serwer has a long piece at the Atlantic over the fallacy that "economic anxiety" gave Trump his votes.  For the most part, I think he's right.  However, I also think that anxiety of any kind - economic or status anxiety - can trigger self-interest.  There is a segment of American society that would never identify themselves as racists, but as soon as they feel threatened by circumstances, they activate a prejudice against people different than them.

Serwer begins by looking at David Duke (Pat Buchanan would be another harbinger of Trump), but it's less about people who admire Duke and more about people who - the moment things get dicey - want to throw off anyone who isn't just like them.  Give the country broadbased prosperity, and I would wager support for minorities would grow.

I don't think it's a deep seated racism that created Trump, necessarily, as a a situationally activated racism.

So, is it race or economics?  It's both.

Monday, November 20, 2017

There Is Never Only One

Another accusation against Al Franken.  He's marking time.  Any more shoes drop, and I don't think he can survive.  Time for Mark Dayton to get Lori Swanson on speed-dial.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Tax Politics

Democrats should feel pretty good about the politics of this latest legislative monstrosity: The American Kick In The Nuts Act of 2017.  Republicans have written a too slick tax cut bill that allows Democrats to bend the truth a bit about how taxes will rise on lower income families.  Republicans are likely anticipating that those tax increases - designed to get around the Byrd Rule - will be nuked when they come due.  Maybe, sure.  But that's not the bill the GOP will be voting for.  The bill they are voting for will do a lot of terrible, terrible things.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Heh, Funny

Trump will pardon a turkey....the jokes write themselves.

What Next?

Ruth Marcus writes a piece that, frankly, a man couldn't write. She talks about what we should do next with allegations of sexual misconduct, against transgressions ranging from Al Franken's to Roy Moore's.  It's a nuanced bit of thinking about how we are apt to overcorrect to horrible events, and in the process trample the atrocious along with the merely boorish.  Few have mentioned the rights of the accused in these incidents, because few of the cases fall under criminal law (or in Moore's case, outside the statutes of limitations), but not every accusation is proof of guilt.

As always, we are making progress, but that progress is slow and frustrating.  That shouldn't dissuade us from trudging onwards.

Friday, November 17, 2017

If Franken Does Resign

I found his replacement.

Mark Penn Is Wrong; Mark Penn Is Right

Notoriously bad campaign strategist Mark Penn has an op-ed piece out that has some bad advice and some good advice. 

He advances some good ideas to reform the Democratic Party:

- Get rid of caucuses and superdelegates.
- Pick the order of the first 12 primaries out of a hat.
- Adopt transparency principles at the DNC.
- Reforming the finances of the DNC, so it doesn't become a shell for donors.

He also suggests a "jungle primary" but that's a stupid idea for a single party.  It's literally nonsensical.

However, he also comes to his pre-conceived, pre-packaged in 1994 idea that Democrats must nominate "moderates," whatever the hell that actually means.

The point of his reforms is to open up the nominating process and party apparatus.  That's good.  If it produces moderates?  Fine.  If it produces leftists?  Fine.

But don't enter the process with the idea that you are creating more democracy for the purpose of getting what you want.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Al Franken

The photo of him "groping" Leann Tweeden doesn't look like he's touching her.  It's sophomoric and wrong, though.  The kiss is certainly not OK.

However, when someone harasses women, they never do it just once.  That's the important lesson of Weinstein, Ailes, Clinton, O'Reilly, Toback, Packwood, Wiesenthaler and on and on and on.

Another woman comes forward, and he should resign.  Given his time at SNL, there probably will be another woman.

Economically Anxious

Can the GOP do anything right?  They managed to craft a regressive tax package that hurts the average American to benefit the wealthy at a time when populism is on the march around the globe.

Of course, the journalists who go on their next "Cleetus Safari" looking for Trump voters over 60 who still love them some Donald will be surprised when the regressive tax cut that objectively hurts them doesn't erode their support for Trump.

Maybe they WILL turn against the GOP Congress.  Frankly, they will do whatever Fox News tells them to do. 

Also, Democrats will rail against this upwards redistribution of wealth and call for tax measures that raise taxes on the rich.  And then we will get reports that Democrats don't have a message for 2018.

Moore Women, Moore Problems

The GOP is increasingly running out of options on the Roy Moore front.  Despite floating some potential machinations, there really is no way of keeping Moore off the ballot aside from him stepping down.  Roy Moore is not stepping down.  His entire career is about not stepping down.

So, the next Senator from Alabama will either be a pedophile or Doug Jones.  A guy who tries to date little girls or a guy who put their murderers behind bars.  Rumor has it that the GOP has a poll that shows Jones is crushing Moore now.  The race was already very close, but late deciders would've likely broken back to the GOP, like we saw with Trump last year.  Now, they will likely continue to break for Jones (or against Moore). 

There has been a lot of discussion about the "permission effect."  I think Moore's (alleged) child predation cancels that out and give people, in fact, "permission" to vote for a Democrat this one time.

I could be wrong. This could be another Trump surprise.  Without knowing what is going on in Alabama, I'm shooting blanks in the dark here.  But I just don't think there are enough women's votes to get Roy Moore elected. 


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Big Dog

The recent revelations that have cascaded about sexual harassment has led to a critical re-evaluations of Bill Clinton.  I think that's a good thing, and perhaps overdue.

One of the issues is, of course, Monica Lewinsky.  The problem I have is that the affair between Lewinsky and Clinton doesn't feel like harassment to me.  She initiated the relationship (famously flashing her thong at him), and she claims it was consensual to this day.  If there was no Paula Jones lawsuit, then his behavior was inherently skeevy, but not harassment.

No, the problem with Clinton isn't that he had a brief affair with Lewinsky.  But there are real problems.

First, and least disputably, the conduct of the damage control team that sought to protect Clinton was objectively bad.  They trashed Lewinsky.  That is not OK.  This is a "blame the woman" approach that typified the maximalist tactics of the Clinton political machine.

Second, there is Kathleen Willey and Paula Jones.  I'm not sure how we look at those incidents as NOT being sexual harassment.  Maybe the Jones thing was consensual, but Clinton initiated that.  Maybe Jones was flirting with him, but I doubt it.  She worked for the state of Arkansas and he pressured her into sex.  He groped Willey. 

But the most serious allegations that we have to come to terms with is Juanita Broderick.  Her allegations are that Clinton out-and-out raped her.  There are corroborating witnesses to the aftermath.  To paraphrase Mitch McConnell, "I believe the woman."  What I find curious is the focus that Yglesias and others are putting on the Lewinksy affair.  I don't think that's the right focus.  The focus should be on Jones, Willey and, above all, Broderick. 

We are having an accountability moment as a culture.  I supported Clinton in the Lewinsky scandal, so maybe my feeling that the actual sexual contact isn't a problem is tainted by that.  But I also think that sexual contact happens.  It happens in the workplace.  It happens between people who do not have equal power relationships.  And it is not always harassment when it does. 

Where I have to change my mind - and have - is that the Clinton White House abused Lewinksy in the press after the fact.  I think he harassed Willey and almost certainly harassed Jones.  I think it is at least possible, if not probable, that he raped Juanita Broderick.

What that means for future evaluations of Bill Clinton and his legacy is complicated.  I do think there is room for complexity in our understanding of past figures in light of current moral standards.  I think Sally Hemmings had no autonomy in her relationship with Jefferson, but she may very well have had agency.  I don't know, and we will never know.  Judging the past is difficult when using a modern lens.

Clinton's behavior was not 200 years ago, though.  It occurred as we began to acknowledge, at least in the broadest of strokes, that sexual harassment was wrong.  How we evaluate Bill Clinton in light of the fact that we are being overwhelmed with the evidence that wrong-doing against women is much more prevalent than - some - men believed?  I think focusing just on the fact that the President carried on an affair with an intern is missing the bigger, more troubling allegations.  Clinton shows the signs of being a sexual predator, using his power to satisfy himself sexually.

I wonder if we will have more revelations about him, the way we have floodgates opening on other public figures.  If so, we should welcome and believe those accusations so that we can move forward into a culture where that is unlikely to happen again.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Straight Line From Trump To Moore

We - we coastal elites sipping our godless lattes - are struggling to understand how Evangelicals can support Roy Moore.  It's actually not terribly difficult once you understand who Evangelicals are.

Evangelicals aren't "the most devout Christians," they are the most ardent culture warriors.  This has nothing to do with theology or doctrinal disputes over the role of the church in public life.  This is about the aggrieved, old white people who wrap themselves in the cloth of faith in order to hate on people they don't like.

This is how they rallied around Donald Trump last fall after the tape came out where he boasted of sexually assaulting women.  Didn't matter.  Trump was willing to hate the same people the Evangelicals hate.  He was willing to pick fights with the uppity Negroes of the NFL; feminists; LGBTQ activists; scientists; bureaucrats; reason; compassion...all the enemies of the narrow minded bigots who cloak themselves in the Blood of the Lamb.  That mattered more than any actual behavior.

Trump's victory is, of course, why Moore is very unlikely to drop out of the race.  If accusations of sexual assault weren't enough to deny Trump the presidency for 46% of the general population, why should it be enough to deny Moore a seat in deep red Alabama?

I honestly don't know if Moore or Jones will win.  Any substantial write-in campaign for Jeff Sessions or Luther Strange could tip the balance to Jones.  While Evangelicals make up a substantial part of the GOP, I don't think they make up a majority of Alabamans.  

Keep an eye on the women of Alabama.  Most of the people rushing to defend Roy Moore have been male.  Republican women swallowed their pride and scruples to vote for Trump last year.  But child molestation is, honestly, the worst thing out there.  It's the crime even prison populations consider beyond the pale.

In prison, murderers get a certain respect, but child molesters are pariahs.  Do Alabama Republicans have the moral scruples of felons?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Seems Like A Nice Man

Roy Moore, ladies and gentlemen.

More and more Republicans are breaking with him.  Interesting to see how this plays out.  Three or four years ago, Moore would have been pressured out, but in the age of Trump and Bannon and Fox News I don't think so.

What's The Play?

Mitch McConnell has called on Roy Moore to step aside.  This adds to a growing list of Republican Senators who have un-endorsed him or called on him to step aside.

What is the play here?

Moore ran AGAINST Mitch McConnell as much as anyone else.  His entire persona is wrapped up in sticking his finger in whoever's eye happens to be handy.  Why in the world would Moore listen to McConnell?  And McConnell has to know that.

The smart guess going around is that Moore is now losing to Jones AND Moore is hurting the Republican party overall.  While a concerted blitz might save Moore's election chances, it would cripple the GOP in precisely those suburban districts that flipped so hard in Virginia last week. 

It looks like the GOP has decided that losing the Alabama Senate seat is necessary to save the national party, even if it makes things like the tax cuts even harder to pull off.  If so, that would demonstrate that perhaps, just perhaps, being a creepy pedophile really IS a deal breaker for the GOP in certain parts of the country.

However, and this is really amazing, being a pedophile is NOT a deal breaker for the so-called "values voters" among evangelical Christians.

I will never claim to be a good Christian.  There are too many theological problems I have with most of the faith to feel comfortable saying that. 

But I am objectively and categorically anti-child molester.  If you're not....Jesus wept.

Drain That Swamp

Clearly, Donald Trump's supporters are motivated by economic anxiety and the need for economic opportunities, and not raging resentment because they can't people f** or n***** anymore.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Meanwhile In Congress

The Republican establishment has tolerated all sorts of moral turpitude in order to give the wealthy even more money.  Trump, Bannon, Moore...They keep swallowing these awful people in order to make sure billionaires have even more money.

The problem is that the GOP is really, really bad at legislating. 

The Byrd Rule - which Republicans have to follow, because they won't and haven't tried to get any Democratic votes - means that there are a great many restrictions on what can be in any tax bill.  It doesn't look like the Senate bill can even pass the Senate.  Plus, you have some fiscal conservatives actually behaving like fiscal conservatives. 

All of this is the backdrop for the Moore-Jones matchup in a few weeks.  If, somehow, enough Republicans and Independents can behave like moral human beings and not just Republican drones, maybe Democrats can completely upend this drive towards plutocracy.


Friday, November 10, 2017

It's The Suburbs

Reading the Alabama GOP's response to the Moore allegations is depressing as hell.  Improbably, Sarah Huckabee Sanders probably gave the "best" response by saying the usual, "Let's wait until we have all the facts."  That's perfectly plausible.

But Alabama Republicans have gone further saying that even if rock solid proof exists that Roy Moore molested underaged girls, they would still vote for him.

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2017 Republican Party.

They deserve to die as a party.  This is despicable. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

"Hey, King David Raped People, Too!"

Apparently the Bible says pedophilia is OK.  I don't know how persuasive that will be as a counter-argument to the revelations that Roy Moore is a pervy pedophile.  It will work with some of the people who will support Moore no matter what.

The "fake news" angle seems more promising, and you can make a case that it worked for Trump.  Hopefully Doug Jones isn't being investigated by Comey.  Moore can try and run against the Washington Post, and that should work a little bit.

I don't want to over-determine the Virginia results, but if Republican women in the Birmingham/Mobile/Montgomery/Huntsville suburbs turn hard against Moore, I think that could tip the balance to Jones.  He was within spitting distance.  This makes that race very, very close.

Oh, and this race could determine who controls the Senate in 2018.

It's Weinman and Spacey's World And We Are Just Living In It

Christianist and White Supremacist Roy Moore may be a pedophile.

Two things.

First, these reports seem credible and are backed up by contemporary witnesses.  If so, there are likely more allegations that will come out.  Guys who hit on three teenagers have hit on more than three teenagers.

Second, it might not make a difference anyway. Alabama is Republican as hell.

But it could.  The polls are tight.  Tuesday showed a wave was building. 

You might consider throwing Doug Jones a shekel or two.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Please Read This

Josh Marshall on last night's wave

TL;DR: The rules of political gravity still apply.

Gillepsie's Xenophobic Race-Baiting Worked

In starting to dissect the results from Virginia, the WaPo notes that Gillespie actually OUTPERFORMED Cuccinelli's run for governor  in rural Virginia.  He turned out and won Republicans in rural Virginia.

Worth remembering that Trump didn't come from nowhere.  He's a perfect avatar for a certain wing of the Republican Party.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Good News From Most Places

What was promised to be a tight Virginia gubernatorial race turned out to not be so tight after all.  Democrats flipped an astonishing 12 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates so far.  They won, as expected, in New Jersey's governor's race.  They look to be winning a ballot measure in Maine to expand Medicaid in that state under the ACA.   Bill De Blasio cruised to re-election.

It's too early to look hard at what happened in Virginia with any definitive stance.  Nate Cohn points to something that, if true, is critically important.  If his numbers are correct, Gillespie actually outperformed previous Republicans in the rural parts of the state. 

He got crushed in the suburbs.

Look, Democrats should run the best candidates possible in the most districts possible.  But if they flip the House a year from now, it will be in the suburbs. 

Meanwhile, here in Connecticut, the Lovely And Talented Wife ran as an Independent for Town Council.  Our town has a very strong Republican tilt and the Democrats are a feeble "Me Too!" party that has few ideas and little vision.  She became involved with these Independents - they are ferociously passionate about town politics - because she always wanted to run for office.  She took the loss well, but it is instructive of how elections work.

If you are in opposition, you have to concentrate your attack.  The Republicans are the Party of Power in our town.  You have to hold your nose and unite with your closest allies to take them down.

Northam won in Virginia by being decent, even bland.  He won over anti-Trumpist suburban independents and probably some soft Republicans.

Maybe it will require a firebrand to win in 2020.  I doubt it.  The finger pointing in Virginia going into the election ultimately didn't matter.  But Democrats will need to concentrate their opposition.  To Trump.  To the GOP.  To the whole corrupt gang.

Chait Hits Upon Something Here

Jon Chait notes that Ed Gillespie's vile race-baiting campaign represents "state-of-the-art" Trumpism.  Gillespie was - for decades - a K Street Republican who served as head of the RNC under Dubya.  He's about as "establishment" as you can get.

But Gillespie ran on a message that used fearmongering and racial appeals to whites to narrow what ought to have been a clear Democratic win into a tight race that could go either way.  Perhaps some of this is the debate over statues.  Historical accuracy and a sense of common decency are on the side of the Left here, but it's not a way to win votes in Virginia.  It might be a perfect microcosm of Leftist politics: right, but a loser at the polls.

Chait's best observation is the overlap between the governing philosophy of Trump and Putin. Both men are kleptocrats who want to co-opt or coerce the business elite into a reciprocal relationship with the state.  Putin built his power on two fronts: populist appeals to Russian greatness by demonizing the "Other" and enriching his cronies.

I think Trump is succeeding in enriching himself, and if the GOP tax plan succeeds, he and the very rich will succeed in enriching themselves. But I'm not sure the possibility exists to create the sort of interlocking power relationships that characterize Putin's Russia.  For one thing, Blue America is both hostile to Trump and Trumpism and has significantly more purchasing power than Red America.  We saw this with Trump's various business advisory boards that emptied out once consumer backlash hit.

I just don't think the capacity exists for the sort of Russian oligarchical kleptocracy that Russia has.

What is more important is looking at what a Gillespie win would mean for the Republican Party.  You can count on EVERY threatened Republican officeholder to double down on racist appeals and divisive rhetoric, just as Gillespie has done.  That will tear the country further and further apart.

It would also, hopefully, expose the lie that Trumpism has anything to do with economic populism.  The Republican party is about funneling wealth upwards.  If Gillespie wins and the Republican tax plan passes, and then Republicans hold on to the House in 2018... I think we can safely move beyond another fucking sympathetic portrait of the poor down-trodden coal miner who just knows Trump will bring the coal jobs back. Or the small business owner who just knows that it's good that a real business man is in the White House.

It's culture wars.  All the way down.

Monday, November 6, 2017


Virginia is a light blue state.  It has never been deep indigo like, say, Massachusetts, but it has generally voted for Democrats at the state level over the past few elections.  The suburbs of Northern Virginia have been very fertile vote wells for the Democratic party. 

However, typical Democratic bullshit is imperiling their chance of holding on to the governor's mansion.  Some of this piggybacks off of the ridiculous Donna Brazile claims, but at the moment when the Democratic party needs to be united and pulling in one direction, they seem intent on - as the piece above puts it - shitting the bed.

Hispanic activists are outraged that Northam has vowed to sign a non-existent bill that would hypothetically ban sanctuary cities in Virginia.  Cities that don't currently exist, nor are likely to.  DFA even went so far as to un-endorse Northam.

Ed Gillespie has waded deep into the sewers of white racist resentment.  He has covered himself in the slime of Trumpism.  If Northam isn't everything you want plus a pony, too goddamned bad!  He's not wallowing in the slime that Gillespie is.  He's not a mini-Trump.

Democrats should win this race comfortably.  There is a massive anti-Trump groundswell out there.  They are a lead-pipe cinch to pick up the New Jersey governor's mansion tomorrow.  But if a bunch of lefty types stay home in Virginia, or Latinos and African Americans stay home, because Northam isn't vocal enough on your particular slate of issues...Well, then we deserve the divided, racist politics that will hurt minorities the most.

Jesus, people, it's a binary choice.  And not voting out of pique is effectively a vote for the other guy. 

Did we learn NOTHING from last year?

Sunday, November 5, 2017

My Question, Too

Martin Longman makes a good point: What if Michael Flynn is cooperating with Robert Mueller?

I was surprised when the indictments came down and Flynn wasn't one of them.  His instances of law breaking are pretty clear.  I'm not sure there is any question that Flynn broke various laws regarding registering as a foreign agent as a former military officer.  However, Flynn shares Trump's paleolithic world view and one would think a soldier would value loyalty. He might also value not spending the rest of his life in jail.  Or perhaps he sees the errors of his ways in consorting with Putin.

If Flynn HAS flipped, that's a treasure trove for Mueller, and as the previous exposure of Papadapoulos showed, Mueller can keep a secret.

Flynn can likely put Trump or Trump's sons in the room with Russians.  He's the critical piece.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Donna Brazile...WTF?

I haven't commented on Donna Brazile's inflammatory comments that the Clinton Campaign unduly influenced/rigged the primaries.  It certainly seems that many of her claims are falling apart under scrutiny.

If this is a big pile of bullshit, why in the world would she do that?  Why play with matches in a room full of gasoline and dynamite?

Not At All Innocents Abroad

Does anyone else think that Donald Trump on an overseas trip to some of the most fraught and contentious regions of the world will probably go horribly wrong?

Friday, November 3, 2017


Cheryl Rofer at Balloon Juice gives a more optimistic take on Robert's Epistemic Crisis piece.  She compares the process to Watergate and the current Republican need for a tax cut bill, even if that tax cut bill is political suicide.

I suppose that's true.  But the central dynamic today is that Republicans are more afraid of their own voters than they are of the judgment of history. Ask Jeff Flake.  He's quitting because he can't win.

Any Republican who crosses Trump will likely lose their seat.  Waiting on Howard Baker is a fool's errand.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

50 Votes

In order to pass the Plutocrat Enrichment Act of 2017, the Republicans need to get 50 votes in the Senate, so that Norman Bates Wannabe, Mike Pence, can cast the tie-breaking vote.

Which Senator from a state with a high income tax rate will likely balk?

If you guessed Susan Collins (ME-7.15% rate), give yourself a pat on the back.

Who else might be in play?  Interestingly, I might put Tim Scott on the list.  South Carolina has a 7% tax rate, but that might not apply to the retirees in Hilton Head.

Wisconsin has a 7.65% rate, but Ron Johnson is simply an ambulatory spread sheet from the Koch Brothers, so he probably won't crack.

The thing to remember is that you have to make a fair amount for it to be worth it for you to itemize, so Idaho (7.4%) and Montana (6.9%) probably won't qualify.  Still, if I'm a party that gives even a passing shit about wealth inequality, I might be thinking about running ads there.

Iowa has a high rate (8.98%) but low earners and Joni Ernst is a Tea Party nightmare.  Still, see above.  Democrats should go hard on the airwaves there.

Potential fertile ground is in Georgia.  The tax rate is 6%, but you probably have a lot of people in the metro Atlanta area who rely on that deduction.

Arkansas has the same tax rate at Connecticut (6.9%), so work on it there.

All you have to do is peel off three Senators (two if Collins is already lost) and they have to pull out the SALT deduction.  Do THAT, and you lose any shot of making these cuts permanent, because of te Byrd Rule.

Get busy people!

UPDATE: There are 14 GOP House members from California.  There are 9 from New York.  There are 5 from New Jersey.  If 23 votes switch sides, that kills the bill.