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A common disease of the right

Every once in a while I read something that makes me feel good, because I can honestly say I got there first, and when I see such a thing I feel I owe it to me reader or readers to point this out.

Case in point, these observations from Josh Marshall regarding Trump:

Going on two years ago I read something formative to my understanding of Donald Trump. It was a by then-Times business columnist Joe Nocera. The column was about a particular swindle with a golf resort. Standard Trump. But the part that mattered was Nocera’s observation about Trump’s fundamental way of doing business and interacting with other people, one he knew from years of covering Trump.

What was taking place in Jupiter was an essential part of Trump’s modus operandi. In every deal, he has to win and you have to lose. He is notorious for refusing to pay full price to contractors and vendors after they’ve completed work for him. And he basically dares the people he has stiffed to sue him, knowing that his deep pockets and bevy of lawyers give him a big advantage over those who

In every deal, he has to win and you have to lose. It actually goes a bit deeper. He doesn’t know he’s won until you lose.

Marshall goes on to observe that Trump’s approach to life, while well suited to his former life as a grifter, is not well suited to the post to which he was elected.

The fact of the matter is that this attitude is one that is endemic in this nation, particularly among those on the right, even what is considered the respectable right. On many occasions I’ve made reference to a great line uttered by the corporate villain played by Robert Vaughan in Superman 3: “It is not enough that I succeed, everyone else must fail!”. To my mind, the line perfectly encapsulates the mindset of so many on the right. Consider the ultra-respectable Pete Peterson, a billionaire who has dedicated his life to destroying social security so that while he enjoys his billions others will live the lives of poverty to which they should justifiably be consigned. And lets not even start on the Koch Brothers, who want to destroy every benefit the rest of us derive from our government, while they themselves ram their snouts into the public trough.

The difference between these establishment right wingers and Trump is that they are smart enough and self aware enough to pretend they have other motivations. The Koch Brothers don’t want to destroy unions in order to impoverish workers, you see, they want to destroy unions in order to preserve liberty. It’s merely a side effect that by so doing they are not only succeeding, but everyone else is failing. Pete Peterson doesn’t want to destroy social security in order to manufacture millions of losers, he just wants to balance the budget, which is an important objective except when it doesn’t mean a thing. Even in the movie, Vaughn’s character uttered the line outside of public hearing. Trump is too transparent to pull that sort of thing off, but it is only in that that he differs from scores of right wingers.

The DCCC is fully capable of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

I wish I could say that the folks at Down with Tyranny are a bit over the top, since they are constantly railing against the Democratic Establishment. Unfortunately, they always seem to be right, particularly about the DCCC:

Following up on today’s long early morning post about how badly the GOP is screwing up 2018 for themselves, I want to warn that the DCCC can pull a rabbit out of the hat and lose enough districts so the GOP keeps control of the House True… it will be difficult but that is, after all, the only thing the DCCC is good at. They know how to screw up an election. Take FL-27, for example. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is retiring so the seat is empty. It should be the easiest district in America to win. And if the DCCC disappeared over night, it would be. In 2012 Obama beat Romney there 53.0-46.3% and last year Hillary beat Trump by an even wider margin: 58.5% to 38.9%, Trump’s worse performance in a Republican-held district. The PVI went from an R+2 in 2015 to a D+5 this year, an absolutely massive swing. The only reason the district didn’t go blue a decade ago is because Debbie Wasserman Schultz has worked tirelessly to undermine any and all opponents to her crony Ros-Lehtinen. Now Wassermann Schultz is so toxic that she no longer has any power at all. So how can the DCCC screw up FL-27 with her out of the equation? Looks at this graphic:


The NRCC sees that and says, “We have to run a Latino.” The DCCC see it and says, let’s be cool and run a non-Latino. The DCCC is pushing a The smartest Democratic operative in Florida was pessimistic about it today: “If the GOP nominates a Latino and the Democrats don’t, then the Democratic nominee will be crushed in the general election. That’s just the way it works here.” The district is 73% Latino. Is that so difficult to understand? I guess it is; the DCCC is trying to make sure the nominee is state Rep David Richardson, not one of the Latino candidates– or even one of the fake-Latinas with Hispanic last names.

This blog should be must reading for Democratic activists. We can’t hope to stop the DCCC from selling us out if we don’t know what they’re doing. And when they call for money, tell they “no” and tell them why.

Truly unbelievable

This is the picture from an ad for Dove Soap. One would love to know the backstory of how this ever saw the light of day. One must also wonder if the models were aware of how these pictures would be used.

Worse Than Both-siderism

A lot of left wing blogs vent about the media’s penchant for “both-siderism”; defined perhaps as the media’s reflexive need to assign blame to “both sides” for anything happening in our culture, even when there is no objective basis for so doing. Broadly speaking, the media feels the need to blame both sides for the fact that our politics have gone off the rails, when as a matter of historical fact, it is the Republican Party that has brought us to the brink of fascism.

But bemoaning “both siderism” misses something, and that is the fact that the media does not in fact assign blame to both sides equally; it goes out of its way to impose more stringent behavioral rules on Democrats. Case in point is the Harvey Weinstein imbroglio. The folks at Crooks and Liars point out that on AM Joy the panelists recognized the phenomena:

After reading through the list of women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct, Reid continued.

REID: No one is asking that every single Republican who’s been defending Donald Trump go through an answer for that.

LOPEZ: And that’s the thing, Joy. It’s really interesting to see that a lot of the media that are right now claiming that people are defending Harvey Weinstein, when it would be hard to find anyone defending this, are the same people who are right now propping Bill O’Reilly up, allowing him to do a comeback tour and basically helping him rehabilitate his image.

The C&L post goes on to point out that prominent both-siderist Chris Cillizza assured his readers that Weinstein’s behavior simply must have been known to the Democrats to whom he donated, that assumption excusing him from providing a single fact to support his assertion.

My point is that calling this a “both-sides” position actually puts far too good a face on it. In fact, the media consistently demands more of Democrats than Republicans, as this incident, and so many others prove. Republicans were not taken to task for failing to repudiate Ailes or O’Reilly, or for that matter, Tim Murphy, the married congressional “pro-life” (a Republican term the media has happily adopted, despite the overall pro-death position of the party) hypocrite who just resigned when it leaked out that he urged his mistress to have an abortion in case her fear she was pregnant turned out to be true. There was no condemnation from Ryan or any other Republican, Ryan simply thanked him for his service. There was no outcry from Cillizza and his ilk, pointing out that they must have known about Murphy’s hypocrisy. There never is. The press gives a free pass to Republican hypocrisy and Republican racism, while expecting from Democrats virtues they’d never demand from Republicans. In the case of Weinstein, they actually reported that the Democrats are defending him, which is not the case.

So we need another label. More than that, we need what the Republicans did and continue to do. We need concerted pushback from Democrats accusing the media of the bias that “both siderism” masks.

Trump plays half dimensional chess

This is all over the internet I guess, but for my purposes this description, from the Palmer report, will do.

At around 10:00am eastern time, Trump posted a factually questionable three-part tweet about Corker: “Senator Bob Corker “begged” me to endorse him for re-election in Tennessee. I said “NO” and he dropped out (said he could not win without my endorsement). He also wanted to be Secretary of State, I said “NO THANKS.” He is also largely responsible for the horrendous Iran Deal! Hence, I would fully expect Corker to be a negative voice and stand in the way of our great agenda. Didn’t have the guts to run!” About an hour later, Corker decided to hit back.

Senator Corker tweeted “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.” (link). Although Trump has around three hundred times as many followers as Corker does, Corker’s tweet has already received far more likes and retweets than Trump’s got. This may mark a serious turning point in the inevitable downfall of Donald Trump, due to the unique situation Corker is in.

This is the sort of thing that makes you think that he needs really intense day care.

If Trump actually cared about accomplishing anything of substance, he would utter such a remark only if he was also so stupid that he was unable to even contemplate the consequences of his actions. I used to scorn people who insisted that Obama was playing three dimensional chess in his dealings with other politicians, but he was certainly able to look ahead more than a few moves. Trump is more like the guy who blunders so badly that he clears a path for his opponents pawn to become a queen, rather than take the pawn.

Corker is not running again, but he will be a senator for another year in an almost evenly divided Senate. That means that he and any other random Republican Senator can stop anything that Trump wants to do. Even if what Trump tweeted was true, and it clearly is not, it was an unbelievably stupid thing for him to do. For the rest of us, it’s good news and bad news. The good news being that Trump is less likely to wreak havoc legislatively, the bad news being that we are now more sure than ever that the man with his finger on the button is both mentally ill and …well, … a “dotard”.

Of course, Trump doesn’t really care about any of the policies he’s pushing. He could be selling the exact opposite of each, and be perfectly comfortable with it. He just wants to win, but it’s hard to see him winning when he goes out of his way to insult someone who has nothing to lose by opposing him.

By the way, I’ve written before that I’ve often had my doubts about the reporting in the Palmer Report, but I must admit it’s a guilty pleasure. So long as you reserve judgment, and take none of the factual assertions as gospel until confirmed elsewhere, it’s a fun read. My own take is the facts are usually right, but the conclusions drawn are sometimes suspect. If you keep your mind engaged it’s worth reading.

Can’t make this stuff up

Just thought I’d pass this on. If you ever get into an argument with a gun nut, which I don’t recommend, ask them to justify this:

There’s no telling how many guns we have in America—and when one gets used in a crime, no way for the cops to connect it to its owner. The only place the police can turn for help is a Kafkaesque agency in West Virginia, where, thanks to the gun lobby, computers are illegal and detective work is absurdly antiquated. On purpose.

Vvia GQ, though I originally got there from Hullabaloo.

They got a law passed many years ago that expressly forbade the use of computers to keep track of gun registrations. So you can safely leave your gun at the scene of the crime and it’s almost impossible to figure out who owns it. You have to register your car, and the cops can identify you in a heartbeat if they have your license number, but the serial number of a gun is almost useless.

Is there another country on earth that has a criminal’s lobby?

Random thoughts on yet another massacre

A few observations, probably unoriginal, about the Las Vegas shootings.

As Chris Murphy pointed out, the predictable braying about the prayers of NRA supporting politicians being with the victims is becoming increasingly annoying. The stench of hypocrisy is overwhelming. It has already come from Trump, and the stench from that quarter is almost unbearable. As I’ve mentioned before, I have an advanced degree in religion from Our Lady of Sorrows grammar school, and I can tell you, based on my expertise, that if Trump prays for anything, he prays for himself, and it’s a good bet he doesn’t even do that. If he were to pretend to pray for those people, about whom he gives not a shit except as the situation affects him, he’d run into the same trap as Hamlet’s stepfather, who observed as he tried to seek forgiveness for his crimes:

My words fly up, my thoughts remain below.

Words without thoughts, never to heaven go

Observation number two: As these acts by white male loners mount up, and set ever increasing records as far as the body counts are concerned, it’s going to be ever more difficult (though the Republicans will try) to hype up the terror (i.e, acts by people of color) incidents. Unless the shooter sets a record, his or her acts will become mere background noise, as a number of mass shootings have become this year. It will be interesting to see if there’s any media pushback when Republicans talk up the few shootings by people of color as they push those by white males down the memory hole.

Observation number three: Inasmuch as this one is a record setter, and will probably dominate the news for a few cycles, bets should be placed on how long it will take for one or more right wingers to suggest that it never happened.

An open letter to former State Rep John Scott

Dear John:

While the old saying that “the lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client” is mainly true, I feel in this instance I can take that risk, as I have a fool for an adversary. I write at this time to put you on notice that I intend to take legal action (the nature of which I decline to specify) against you for plagiarizing this blog. All the well written bits in the letter attacking Chris Conley, that appeared in today’s Day, which the preponderance of the evidence indicates that you ghostwrote, were written by me, in the course of a well deserved attack against you.

I demand redress.

To prove my claim, “let Facts be submitted to a candid world“:

The letter contains the following lines:

On the issues she mainly confined herself to a fierce and unaccommodating dedication to the interests of workers compensation lawyers everywhere, but especially those in Groton.

and:

Now I am pleased to report that Conley is actively engaged in advancing the interests of her constituent. You can check out the bills she’s sponsored or co-sponsored on her website but I will save you some trouble and tell you about one in particular, HB 6666, “An Act Expanding Remedies and Potential Liability For Unreasonably Contested or Delayed Workers Compensation Claims.”

Before I go on, I fully admit that I stole that “candid world” line above from Thomas Jefferson, but you see I put it in quotes, and that makes it okay, and anyway, Thomas Jefferson is dead and he doesn’t care.

Back to the main point, now that Tom has been put on his ease. Take a look at my blog here, where you see:

On the issues, he mainly confined himself to a fierce and unaccommodating dedication to the interests of insurance agents everywhere, but especially those in Groton

And if you go here, you see:

Now, I’m pleased to report that Scott is actively engaged in advancing the interests of his constituent. You can check out the bills he’s sponsoring or cosponsoring here. But let me save you some trouble and time. Here’s a sampling, selected by yours truly…

I don’t need F. Lee Bailey to prove this case, or even an expert witness. Look, I’m flattered and all, that you think so highly of my prose, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that you are making use of the sweat of my literary brow without my permission. And don’t try to say you didn’t write the letter. I know you did because a) hardly anyone reads this blog, but you do, and, b) I’ve known since I wrote them that those posts hit home. And of course, I’m not happy about the fact that you stole language I wrote to make a perfectly valid point against you so you could make a perfectly Fox Newsian invalid point against Chris Conley. I was particularly fond of my clever use of the singular “constituent”, and was mightily distressed when I saw that you stole it in pursuit of your sad little vendetta against Chris. Oh, by the way John, Chris’s proposal won’t be driving up her billable hours because worker’s comp lawyers don’t get paid by the hour. They get paid only if they deliver for their clients, unlike insurance agents like you who feel the need to force people to get insurance they don’t need through you.

So, case proven, and it only remains to make my demand for rightful compensation for your egregious plagiarism. Don’t worry, I don’t want your money. And I hereby release the person who signed his name to your screed of any moral liability, though legal liability is another thing altogether. No, I shall withhold my legal wrath provided you:

  • Humbly apologize for your premeditated theft
  • Admit that you are a sad and bitterly sore loser who has dedicated the time since your well-deserved defeat to unfairly sliming the person who administered that electoral whopping.
  • Agree to remain under the rock to which you were consigned in 2016, and stop penning letters to the Editor (for this is not the first) for other people to sign.

Should you fail to comply with these demands, I shall have no choice, as we lawyers say, but to take appropriate action.

I would be glad to discuss this matter with you or your attorney.

Tell it like it is

Atrios has nominated Jonathan Chait as one of America’s worst humans for suggesting that we lefties should not be applying the term “white supremacist” to Trump or his followers unless they themselves confess to being so. He links to this Chait takedown, to which the reader is referred.

I find myself in agreement with Chait, though I’m guessing he’d rather not align with me. I find the term “white supremacist” somewhat akin to the term “ethnic cleansing”, a term I have heard coming from the mouths of people who really should know better. That term was invented, or at least popularized, by the perpetrators during the genocidal wars in the former Yugoslavia. It was a way of making genocide sound somewhat more palatable, and still is. For myself, I think we should stick with “genocide”.

Calling someone a “white supremacist” somewhat avoids the issue of what he or she is in reality. The word is “racist”, a word that, at least to all right thinking individuals, connotes unmitigated loathsomeness. Let’s stick with “racist”. It gets the message across so well. And, just to be clear, I do believe that Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions and a host of other Trump hangers on are racists, pure and simple.

Update

A couple of days ago I remarked on the fact that I had never seen the obvious point made, in coverage of “free speech” attempts to legalize anti-gay discrimination, that the same logic could be applied to racial or religious discrimination. I still haven’t seen it made by a member of the press, but it appears that at least one judge has made the obvious connection.

Fresh off being labeled a hate group for promoting vehemently anti-LGBTQ extremism, hate group Alliance Defending Freedom’s lawsuit on behalf of a homophobic couple that wanted to challenge the Minnesota Human Rights Act by refusing service to same-sex couples has been dismissed by a judge, who wrote in his decision this week that the couple’s wish to put a notice on their website saying they wouldn’t provide video recording services to gay couples “conduct akin to a ‘White Applicants Only’ sign”:

In his ruling, Chief U.S. District Judge John Tunheim described that as “conduct akin to a ‘White Applicants Only’ sign” that may be outlawed without infringing on First Amendment rights.

“Posting language on a website telling potential customers that a business will discriminate based on sexual orientation is part of the act of sexual orientation discrimination itself,” the judge wrote. “As conduct carried out through language, this act is not protected by the First Amendment.”

via Daily Kos

This is not a departure, it is fairly well settled law. Some speech is more than speech; it’s action.

I’m glad to be wrong on this one. Here’s hoping the Supremes have as much sense as Judge Tunheim (but don’t count on it).