It Doesn’t Matter What’s in the Nunes “Memo”

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And I’ll show you why. Here’s what the normal reaction should be:

But here’s the right-wing reaction:

It doesn’t matter what’s in the memo. The right will make it seem as though it is the most egregious breach of power in the history of the universe in order to further their persecution complex. The memo could be hand drawings of penguins and they would still do this. The job of the right-wing media isn’t to report the news—it’s to spin it in order to make themselves look like victims of a worldwide conspiracy.

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Dan McLaughlin Is Not a Serious Person

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If you’re wondering what kind of “prayerful” people are the kind that would attend the March for Life, you can be sure they’re the same kind of people who spend their weekends at abortions clinics yelling at women. Besides, the notion of any lack of vulgarity is countered by the fact that many of them are also supporting of Donald Trump, an unspeakably vulgar man himself.

It’s also apropos to revisit the violent history of anti-abortion protesters (“A Brief History of Deadly Attacks on Abortion Providers,” New York Times, 11/29/2015):

At least 11 people have been killed in attacks on abortion clinics in the United States since 1993, including the Colorado attack. The most recent victims were Garrett Swasey, a police officer at the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs and a part-time church pastor; Ke’Arre M. Stewart, a former Army specialist who served in Iraq; and Jennifer Markovsky, a woman from Hawaii who was at the clinic with a friend.

And just for good measure, here’s McLaughlin making a comparison between the Women’s March and the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville (where they murdered Heather Heyer) without explicitly drawing a comparison, just because he’s enough of a weenie to want to be able to wiggle out of it:

Yeah. What a weenie. And a National Review writer, too.

Another New York Times Collection of Trump Voter Kookery

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On Thursday, the New York Times decided to fill up its entire Opinion page with letters from Trump fans who are, you guessed it, still Trump fans, because apparently dispatching reporters to talk to cowhands and ex-miners in local diners in towns like Dogbutt, NC, once a week isn’t enough. I’ve selected a few bits that are sure to make your head spin (“‘Vision, Chutzpah and Some Testosterone,'” New York Times, 1/17/2018):

I loved George W. Bush, but he failed on policy over and over again. If it takes putting up with Mr. Trump’s brash ways to see things get done, that is a deal I’m willing to accept. To be honest, I’m not sure he would have accomplished what he has so far without being an unrelenting public bully.

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And because of Mr. Trump we have an education secretary who actually cares more about educating children than appeasing the teachers’ unions.

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When asked during the campaign about his truthfulness, he replied that maybe he is too truthful. He does ruffle feathers, but seems to end up being right about most important things.

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I’ve voted twice in my life: once for myself when I ran for Congress 10 years ago, and once for Donald Trump last year.

Same weirdo:

How’s he doing? He has turned a fragile nation “anti-fragile” (the scholar Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s term). Before Mr. Trump, we were scared of any volatility. Oh no, ISIS! Oh no, banks! The more chaos there was, the worse we were.

Now volatility is our friend. The more chaos, the better!

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I do not understand why people still believe anything that the media, or politicians and pundits who have an agenda, say.

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Granted we have the most unpresidential president of our time. Crude, rude, clueless dude — but I believe, with the help of his friends, he’s stumbling through one of the most effective presidencies in memory.

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After voting for Democrats for over 60 years I voted for President Trump.

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These two are great back-to-back:

He has undone many of President Barack Obama’s unconstitutional executive orders.

And the next guy:

I am very happy with the number of executive orders he’s passed

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Before I respond to your questions, I have a question of my own: Did you run similar surveys for Obama voters? Or, for that matter, Eisenhower voters? Trump voters are not circus freaks to be displayed or singled out.

This last guy asks a question I’ve asked a few times on this blog: Trump voters are endlessly probed, whereas Clinton or Obama voters are rarely, if ever, asked what they think about anything, even though there are millions more of them.

The answer, though, is obvious, however annoying the constant updates from “Trump country” are. As the excerpts from the letters above demonstrate, Trump supporters are analyzed by the media because it’s fascinating to see people who are completely impervious to reality. It doesn’t matter what Trump does or says; they are able to redefine their reality accordingly. They have been convinced that the eight years of Obama were the worst years of their lives, and they have also been convinced that maybe Trump’s tweets are stupid, but they are not dangerous and his “achievements” outweigh them anyhow. My personal guess is that most of the people who believe this have not seen many tangible changes in their lives one way or the other that can be directly attributed to what they believe, and yet they believe it anyway.

Right Now, People Blame Republicans for the Government Shutdown. Let’s See How Long That Lasts.

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According to a recent poll by the Washington Post, people are holding Trump and Republicans responsible for the government shutdown:

wapo poll

So Trump and his Republican congress have nearly a 20-point lead over Democrats. That’s not insignificant.

There’s a rather misleading title over at CNN, which claims that Democrats are in trouble because of the shutdown: “CNN poll: DACA not worth a shutdown, except to Democrats.” The way they’ve set it up, they make it look like Democrats are taking most of the blame:

cnn poll

Unlike the WaPo poll, the CNN poll had separate options for Trump and Republicans. Now, even if respondents wouldn’t collectively blame Trump and Republicans, all of them still aren’t blaming Democrats first, which means 47% of respondents are blaming either Trump or the Republicans in congress. Another poll from Quinnipiac found that “32% would blame Republicans, 21% Trump and 34% Democrats,” meaning a whopping 53% of respondents blame Republicans one way or another.

Of course, the Fox News–watching base will always blame Democrats no matter what, and Fox News and the rest of the right-wing media will be working overtime to spin this as a dastardly plot by Democrats, as they have been in the week leading up to the shutdown. Right now, it’s not working.

Will it? I’m not sure. Even if there is some temporary hit for Democrats, we’re in an age when the president is likely to do or say something insane relatively soon, or some sort of humiliating detail about his life or administration will be leaked or uncovered and dominate the news cycle. And before you know it, Hannity will be back to investigating the latest Hillary “scandal.” So even if the right could turn this into a talking point, they’re too unfocused to do so at the moment. Which is good.

Government Shutdown When Republicans Control White House and Congress? Democrats’ Fault

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You’d think that because Republicans control the House, Senate, and White House, they’d be the ones who are first and foremost held responsible for the impending government shutdown, with the obvious exception of right-wing outlets like Fox News. But you’d be wrong. From the Boston Globe:

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From the article:

WASHINGTON — Democrats, whose brand as a party is based on government’s potential to positively affect lives, are seriously contemplating a government shutdown for the first time since Republicans won back Washington in last year’s elections.

Spurred on by a fired-up base who have declared themselves “the resistance” and the historically low approval ratings of President Trump, Democrats are now considering withholding their votes to fund the government until they get a deal to protect young unauthorized immigrants brought to the country as children.

The government shuts down Friday at midnight if Congress doesn’t act.

And here’s a clip from ABC World News Tonight:

It’s the Republicans’ own fault they’re in this bind in the first place. In their endless delays of passing a real budget, and by attempting to pass anything and everything through the House and Senate by reconciliation (rather than, you know, compromising with the minority party in order to get a normal and not minimal amount of votes), the Republicans are now in a position in which the government will shut down Friday night if they don’t pass something. They need Democratic votes. Are they doing much in the way of negotiating? Nope. And yet it’s still Democrats’ fault.

It seems lots of people have forgotten that Trump thought a government shutdown was a good idea back in May, probably because he didn’t know what it even meant:

And, judging by this tweet,

it would appear that, yes, Trump is either stupid enough (very probable) to believe a government shutdown would also shut down the American military, or he’s deceitful enough (also very probable) to lie about it.

Now, Republicans came up with a plan to keep the federal government funded through February 16 in order to (supposedly) work on negotiations with Democrats on CHIP, but that no longer seems likely:

With a possible government shutdown looming this weekend, the House had planned to vote late Thursday on a stopgap spending bill that would keep government funding flowing to Feb. 16 as delicate negotiations continue to protect young, undocumented immigrants brought illegally as children from deportation.

But by midday Thursday, the chances of a shutdown appeared to be rising. Efforts to negotiate a broader budget deal that would protect young undocumented immigrants, raise spending for military and domestic programs and fund children’s health care had been making progress until Mr. Trump referred to African nations as “shithole countries” last week. The ensuing uproar upended budget and immigration talks and emboldened Democrats. On Thursday, senior House Democrats introduced a resolution to censure the president for his words.

Republicans, hoping to keep the government open while tempers cool, turned to a one-month stopgap spending measure, but that gambit may be nearing a dead end. Illustrating the trouble, Virginia’s two Democratic senators, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, whose constituents include hundreds of thousands of federal workers, announced together that they would oppose the temporary spending bill. They had been seen as among the most likely yes votes in the Senate, where Republican leaders need at least nine Democrats to support the bill.

And guess who else decided to weigh in on the matter:

There are a lot of Democratic and left-leaning voices that seem convinced voters will not blame them for a shutdown. We know that among Republicans and especially the Trump cultists, this isn’t true. The whole point of right-wing media, and to a lesser extent the ‘both sides’ function of the mainstream press, is to shift blame to Democrats when convenient. Despite controlling congress for years under Obama and being obstructionist, the Republicans, now controlling the White House and congress, are claiming it’s the Democrats who are the real obstructionists. I’ll bet just about anything it works—if not completely, then at least well enough.

Because Trump Is a Serial Abuser, No One Will Care About His Porn Star Tryst

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Okay. So.

It looks like the President of the United States had sex with a porn star several years ago, shortly after his third wife gave birth to their son, and paid $130,000 to keep the story quiet. Oh, and apparently she said Trump told her after they had sex that she reminded him of Ivanka. A far more detailed account can be found here.

That’s where we are right now. If you’re wondering what the porn star in question, Stephanie “Stormy Daniels” Clifford, thought of the encounter, well:

The sex was “textbook generic,” she said.

Does any of this bother his supporters? Well, between calling it “fake news” or thinking it’s a sign of his virility, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Evangelicals are writing it off because Trump was supposedly a Democrat at the time. Never mind that John Edwards, who also paid off his pregnant mistress to keep quiet, faced multiple charges over the scandal. But that won’t happen to Trump. Right-wing media and the general higher standard Democrats are held to will make sure of that. How do I know that? Because Fox News knew about the affair a month before the election and decided to bury the story:

The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Trump attorney Michael Cohen had arranged a $130,000 payment to keep Clifford silent about the alleged relationship in October 2016. Cohen, Clifford, and the White House denied the report.

The allegation of a relationship was no secret to Fox News, though.

One of the network’s reporters, Diana Falzone, had filed a story in October 2016 about an alleged sexual relationship between Clifford and Trump, people familiar with the matter said.

Falzone had an on-the-record statement from Clifford’s manager at the time, Gina Rodriguez, confirming that her client had engaged in a sexual relationship with Trump, three of these people said, and Falzone had even seen emails about a settlement.

But the story never saw the light of the day, to the frustration of Falzone, two of the people said.

“She had the story and Fox killed it,” one of the people familiar with the matter told CNN.

More significant in terms of our culture, though, is that because Trump is a documented abuser, a consensual extra-marital affair isn’t going to bother anyone. If the Hollywood Access recording could be brushed off as something he said 10 years ago, an affair that was supposedly 12 years ago won’t bother the rank and file. Which is sad. Even more, it’s unlikely to stay in the news very long, unless of course there are a lot more salacious details (or other encounters) yet to come out. Because honestly, do you think people who write letters like this to the New York Times give a shit if Trump cheated on his wife with a porn star and then paid her off?

One More Reason Democrats Shouldn’t Bother Trying to Reach Republicans

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A poll out today from Quinnipiac demonstrates why Democrats shouldn’t bother trying to reach out to Republican voters: the way they see the world is fundamentally different from the rest of us. Take a look at how Republicans view Donald Trump. His favorable numbers:

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Overall, Trump’s favorability is in the negative, 38 to 58. His near-universal disapproval from Democrats, 20-point deficit among independents, and a sliver of Republican voters puts him there. But that’s just a matter of whether people like him or not. Would people vote for him?

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The Republican numbers dip a little bit, but here’s what happens when he’s put head-to-head against Oprah Winfrey:

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What’s interesting here is that it shows Oprah is not, at the present moment, even with all her name recognition and her reputation, enough to move conservative white women voters in numbers that would make a difference, despite her having a favorability of 25% among Republicans (the highest among the Democratic names polled, which included Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Kirsten Gillibrand). Even more, the split between independents reduces sharply.

At this point, it’s safe to assume that anything short of a nuclear holocaust (and maybe not even then), Republicans and Democrats are going to vote for whoever their party nominates. It seems really doubtful that no matter the candidate, Republicans will vote again for Donald Trump, even if the Democrats nominated Jesus. The key is in independent voters, whoever they are. I know it’s not a profound statement, but it’s something that Democrats need to recognize and understand. Trying to appeal to the people who voted for Trump is a waste of time. Conditions could degrade to the point that we’re all living in huts and they’d still go for Trump. Democrats have to trust that the no bullshit, progressive campaign that Sanders waged is their best shot at defeating him. If they can’t recognize that, we’ll be dealing with the Donald until 2024.

Words Have Meaning

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Like the National Review before them, The Federalist is tired of the media paying attention to the words that come out of Donald Trump’s mouth (“It’s Time To End The Trump Media Circus And Get Back To Public Policy For Grown-Ups,” The Federalist, 1/17/2018):

Is Trump wrong if he said what has been reported? Yes, he’s wrong. But I have to tell you that I question the policy seriousness of the person who took a comment from a meeting intended for negotiation and made a media circus out of it. Our immigration laws affect real people every day. We (and potential immigrants) deserve something so much better than cable news fodder.

But the author, Hunter Baker, doesn’t question the seriousness of Donald Trump—the president who is supposed to be leading the negotiations—when he makes the flippant, arrogant, vulgar, derogatory, and racist remark that certain countries are “shitholes.” If Trump didn’t treat his presidency the same way he treated his reality television show The Apprentice, maybe there wouldn’t be comments like this that show his unseriousness and ignorance. Maybe if the GOP, its voters, and its satellite media outlets (like The Federalist) wanted serious policy on immigration, they wouldn’t have helped elect the guy who constantly led chants of “build the wall” at political rallies. Just saying.

Whatever you think of Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin or the proposed legislation itself, they were working on a bipartisan bill that would have a little give and take, a little compromise. It wouldn’t be the Republicans attempting to ram through a bill by barely scraping enough votes together to pass it through the senate.

But it appears that right-wing immigration hardliners were trying to interfere and sabotage the bill, thus deflating the ability to create constructive policy. People like Stephen Miller or Tom Cotton aren’t really interested in making deals. If there’s going to be serious policy, people like them can’t be involved.

The real heart of the matter, though, is that words have meaning. This is probably hard for Baker to understand (and it’s clearly impossible for Trump to understand), but the words Trump uses—whether in public or private—have real-world consequences. If Trump uses the n-word in private and it’s leaked to the press and corroborated by several witnesses, it wouldn’t be a “media circus” to talk about it. Know why? Because it would prove beyond a shadow of a doubt (although I think it’s been proved already) that Trump is a racist. It would mean that we know definitively that he cannot govern for African American citizens fairly. It would mean that he views them as sub-citizens. A call like Baker’s for their to be “public policy for grown-ups” in spite of the president’s remarks would ring hollow, because they would be.

And the same is true when Trump calls certain countries “shitholes” and thinks being a white Norwegian is itself a qualifying characteristic for immigration. It shows he is not serious about the subject, that he does not know anything about the subject, and it reveals how he views the rest of the world. To say that those who react to Trump’s words are more to blame for the halt in negotiations than the man who uttered them is dishonest.

No, Black Voters Are Not Warming to Trump

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Donald Trump has been watching TV again, so he came to this kooky conclusion:

According to the New York Times, that’s a bunch of bull:

[Fox host] Mr. Kilmeade was almost certainly referring to a distorted finding from Survey Monkey, an online polling company. Since Mr. Trump’s inauguration, the company has conducted 602,134 interviews with adults of every race group — not just “black America,” as Mr. Kilmeade said.

Survey Monkey’s results, provided to The New York Times, show that Mr. Trump’s approval ratings among black Americans actually declined from 20 percent in February 2017, his first full month in office, to 15 percent in December. (This is consistent with polling from the Pew Research Center and Reuters.)

So how did Kilmeade arrive at that dishonest and deceitful assessment?

Survey Monkey broke out some of the results for The Atlantic, telling the magazine in a report that was published last week that 23 percent of black men and 11 percent of black women approved of Mr. Trump’s performance […]

“That score averages out to 17 percent, or twice the 8 percent score he was given in the 2016 exit polls,” Breitbart reasoned in an article headlined, “Donald Trump’s Support Among Blacks Has Doubled Since 2016, Amid Racism Claims.”

It is inaccurate to simply take the average of two genders without taking into account the number of people who were actually interviewed for the poll. Survey Monkey interviewed roughly 19,000 black men and 31,000 black women.

It is also wrong to compare exit polls to Survey Monkey’s results. The company surveyed adults who both are, and are not, registered to vote. By contrast, exit polls necessarily survey people who have just voted.

In addition, although the black unemployment rate has dropped to an historic low, it’s a trend that’s been continuing since about 2010:

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Trump is insane enough to take credit for no domestic airplane crashes in 2017, so he’ll take credit for anything—so long as it’s not bad. Then it’s somebody else’s fault.

I Don’t Believe Trump’s Doctor Report

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I don’t mean to sound too conspiratorial, but this is hard to believe:

The president’s doctor said Mr. Trump’s overall health was “excellent,” with mostly normal results on a battery of tests and examinations. He said Mr. Trump, who is almost 72, has remarkably good cardiac health, probably because he does not smoke or drink alcohol.

But he did say that Mr. Trump’s weight is 239 pounds and that he does not get enough exercise. His cholesterol is too high, despite taking medicine to lower it, and Dr. Jackson said he would be increasing the dosage.

I do not believe that a 72-year-old man who eats lots of fast food and drinks 12 Diet Cokes a day and doesn’t exercise has “remarkably good cardiac health,” unless the doctor means remarkably good considering he should be dead already.

Not only that, but I refuse to believe that this guy

trump fat

is 239 pounds. I know guys who are six foot or a bit more and weigh 220. They aren’t that big (and that’s not to say these are guys who are in particularly good shape). Trump has to weigh more than that.

Also, Trump is reported to be 6″3′, but his driver’s license puts him at 6″2′:

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At 239 pounds and 6″3′, Trump is considered “overweight” according to the BMI. But at 6″2′, he’d be considered obese.

But this is the part that kills me:

“There’s no indication whatsoever that he has any cognitive issues,” Dr. Ronny L. Jackson, a rear admiral in the Navy and the White House physician, told reporters on Tuesday. “I’ve found no reason whatsoever to think the president has any issues whatsoever with his thought processes.”

Dr. Jackson said that a cognitive test was not indicated for Mr. Trump when the president underwent his annual physical on Friday, but that he conducted one anyway because the president requested it after questions from critics about his mental abilities. He said Mr. Trump received a score of 30 out of 30 on the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, a well-known test used by the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and other hospitals.

We’ve had more than a year to witness Trump’s erratic behavior. I’m not in the camp that Trump is showing early signs of dementia, but he’s clearly not mentally well. This report stinks.