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Sunday, September 25, 2016

96 years and counting

by digby

From Roger Angel in the New Yorker:
I'm late weighing in on this election—late in more ways than one. Monday brought my ninety-sixth birthday, and, come November, I will be casting my nineteenth ballot in a Presidential election. My first came in 1944, when I voted for a fourth term for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, my Commander-in-Chief, with a mail-in ballot from the Central Pacific, where I was a sergeant in the Army Air Force. It was a thrilling moment for me, but not as significant as my vote on November 8th this year, the most important one of my lifetime. My country faces a danger unmatched in our history since the Cuban missile crisis, in 1962, or perhaps since 1943, when the Axis powers held most of Continental Europe, and Imperial Japan controlled the Pacific rim, from the Aleutians to the Solomon Islands, with the outcome of that war still unknown.

The first debate impends, and the odds that Donald Trump may be elected President appear to be narrowing. I will cast my own vote for Hillary Clinton with alacrity and confidence. From the beginning, her life has been devoted to public service and to improving the lives of children and the disadvantaged. She is intelligent, strong, profoundly informed, and extraordinarily experienced in the challenges and risks of our lurching, restlessly altering world and wholly committed to the global commonality. Her well-established connections to minorities may bring some better understanding of our urban and suburban police crisis. I have wished at times that she would be less impatient or distant when questions arrive about her past actions and mistakes, but I see no evidence to support the deep-rooted suspicions that often surround her. I don’t much like the high-level moneyed introductions and contacts surrounding the Clinton Foundation, but cannot find the slightest evidence that any of this has led to something much worse—that she or anyone has illegally profited or that any legislation tilted because of it. Nothing connects or makes sense; it beats me. Ms. Clinton will make a strong and resolute President—at last, a female leader of our own—and, in the end, perhaps a unifying one.

The Trump campaign has been like no other—a tumultuous and near-irresistible reality TV, in which Mr. Trump plays the pouty, despicable, but riveting central character. “I can’t stand him,” people are saying, “but you know, wow, he never stops.”

We know Mr. Trump’s early transgressions by heart: the female reporter who had “blood coming out of her whatever”; the mocking of a physically impaired reporter; the maligning of a judge because of his Mexican parents; the insulting dismissal of the grieving, Gold Star-parent Khans; the promised mass deportation of eleven million—or two million—undocumented immigrants, and more. Each of these remains a disqualifier for a candidate who will represent every one of us, should he win, but we now are almost willing to turn them into colorful little impairments. “Oh, that’s ol’ Donald—that’s the way he is.”

But I stick at a different moment—the lighthearted comment he made when, in early August, an admiring veteran presented him with a replica of his Purple Heart and Mr. Trump said, “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier.” What? Mr. Trump is saying he wishes that he had joined the armed forces somehow (he had a chance but skimmed out, like so many others of his time) and then had died or been scarred or maimed in combat? This is the dream of a nine-year-old boy, and it impugns the five hundred thousand young Americans who have died in combat in my lifetime, and the many hundreds of thousands more whose lives were altered or shattered by their wounds of war.
Reservations like this are predictable coming from someone my age, but I will persist, hoping to catch the attention of a few much younger voters, and of those who have not yet made up their minds about this election. I do so by inviting them to share an everyday experience—the middle-of-the-night or caught-in-traffic moment when we find our hovering second thoughts still at hand and waiting: Why did I ever?… What if?… Now I can see… and come to that pause, the unwelcome reconsideration that quiets us and makes us mature. It’s the same thought that Judge Learned Hand wanted posted in every school and church and courthouse in the land: “I beseech ye … think that we may be mistaken.”
Mr. Trump is endlessly on record as someone who will not back down, who cannot appear to pause or lose. He is a man who must win, stay on the attack, and who thinks, first and last, “How will I look?” This is central, and what comes after it, for me, at times, is concern for what it must be like for anyone who, facing an imperative as dark and unforgiving as this, finds only the narcissist’s mirror for reassurance.

If Donald Trump wins this election, his nights in the White House will very soon resemble those of President Obama. After he bids an early goodnight to his family, he sits alone while he receives and tries to take in floods of information from almost innumerable national and international sources, much of it classified or top secret. His surroundings are stately, but the room is shadowed and silent. There are bits of promising news here and there, but always more bloodshed, sudden alarms, and unexpected lurking dangers. The import of the news is often veiled or contradictory, or simply impenetrable. The night wears on, and may contain brief hours of sleep. There’s time to tweet. A new day is arriving, and with it the latest rush of bad news—another police shooting out West, another suicide bomber in Yemen, and other urgent briefings from a world already caught up in the morning’s difficult events. He needs to respond, but the beginning of this President’s response is always reliably at hand: How will I look?
The real question is why he looks so much better to to so many Americans. But then we know, don't we? He is their voice.

Mr. Robot goes to Washington: Snowden ***½

By Dennis Hartley

“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.” 
-from “1984”, by George Orwell

Reality can be a tough act to follow. As I noted in my 2008 review of the biopic, W:

No one has ever accused Oliver Stone of being subtle. However, once audiences view his highly anticipated film concerning the life and times of George W. Bush, I think the popular perception about the director, which is that he is a rabid conspiracy theorist who rewrites history via Grand Guignol-fueled cinematic polemics, could begin to diminish.
If the Bush administration had never really happened, and this was a completely fictional creation, I would be describing Stone’s film by throwing out one-sheet ready superlatives […] But you see, when it comes to the life and legacy of one George W. Bush and the Strangelovian nightmare that he and his cohorts have plunged this once great nation into for the last eight years, all you have to do is tell the truth…and pass the popcorn.
Such is the conundrum for Snowden, writer-director Oliver Stone’s new biopic about Edgar Snowden, the former National Security Agency subcontractor who ignited an international political firestorm (and became a wanted fugitive) when he leaked top secret information to The Guardian back in 2013 regarding certain NSA surveillance practices.

The “tough act of follow” is Laura Poitras’ Oscar-winning 2014 documentary, Citizenfour. In 2013, Snowden invited Poitras, along with Guardian journalists Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill, for a meet at the Hong Kong hotel he was holed up in. This was the culmination of months of email exchanges between Snowden (sending encrypted text under the pseudonym of “Citizenfour”) and Poitras. Poitras found herself in the unique position of being a (circumstantial) “co-conspirator” in the story she was filming. The result was a gripping documentary that played like a paranoia-fueled thriller.

Now we have Oliver Stone, a filmmaker often accused by detractors of infusing his own politically charged, paranoia-fueled conspiracy theories into historical dramas like JFK and Nixon, diving head first into one of the most polarizing public debates of recent years: is Edgar Snowden a hero…or a traitor? It seems to be a marriage made in heaven. Surely, this should be a perfect impetus for the return of that fearless, rabble-rousing Oliver Stone of old…speaking truth to power through his art, consequences be damned.

This is actually a surprisingly restrained dramatization by Stone, which is not to say it is a weak one. In fact, quite the contrary-this time out, Stone had no need to take a magical trip to the wrong side of the wardrobe. That’s because the Orwellian machinations (casually conducted on a daily basis by our government) that came to light after Snowden lifted up the rock are beyond even the most feverish imaginings of the tin foil hat society.

In other words, you couldn’t make this shit up, either.

After opening with a cloak-and-dagger vignette set in 2013 on the streets of Hong Kong, Stone flashes back to 2004, where we see a younger, gung-ho Edgar Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) humping it through a grueling Special Forces training course. His Army reservist career is cut short after he breaks both legs in an accident. A few years later, still determined to serve his country, he finds a more ideal fit working at the CIA, where his (apparently) sharp computer hacking skills land him a position as an info tech. Stone follows Snowden’s various job relocations, from D.C. to Japan; eventually ending up at the NSA subcontracting firm Booz Allen in Hawaii (where he famously “did the deed”).

Stone alternates between the personal bio, which includes Snowden’s longtime relationship with his girlfriend Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley) and the increasingly furtive interview sessions with Snowden in the Hong Kong hotel room in 2013 by Guardian journalists Greenwald (Zachary Quinto) and MacAskill (Tom Wilkinson), while Poitras (Melissa Leo) dutifully continues filming. Gordon-Levitt uncannily captures Snowden’s vibe; although by the time credits roll, he remains a cypher. Then again, Snowden has said, “This really isn’t about me […] It’s about our right to dissent.”

Stylistically, the film felt to me like a throwback to cerebral cold war thrillers from the 1960s like The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, The Defector, Funeral in Berlin, and The Deadly Affair. This may not be by accident; because one of the core themes of the screenplay (adapted by Stone with Kieran Fitzgerald from Luke Harding’s The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man, and Anatoly Kucherena’s Time of the Octopus) is that we are, in fact, in the midst of a new “cold war”…in cyberspace.

As Snowden’s (fictional) mentor “Corbin O’Brien” (one of the more interesting creations in the film, especially as played by a scene-stealing Rhys Ifans) tells him, “The new battlefield is everywhere.” True that. It’s happening every day, all around us. It used to be a novelty, but it seems like my bank is issuing me a new credit card about every 6 months anymore, due to some nebulous “security breach”. Or how about the “DC Leaks” story…hacktivists with alleged Russian ties breaking into White House accounts at will?

But the question becomes, of course, how much of our privacy should we, as tax-paying citizens, be willing to sacrifice in the name of national security? As Greg Lake once sang:

Knowledge is a deadly friend
If no one sets the rules
The fate of all mankind, I see
Is in the hands of fools

Luckily, we have filmmakers like Stone and Poitras, journalists like Greenwald and MacAskill, and whistleblowers like Edgar Snowden, who do not suffer such fools gladly. Big Brother is watching us, but now we feel emboldened to ask: What are you lookin’ at?

Previous posts with related themes:

Kill the Messenger
State of Play
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

More reviews at Den of Cinema

--Dennis Hartley

"A monkey with a machine gun"

by Tom Sullivan

Still from viral video promoting Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley may have lost the Democratic primary this year, but he may have won the Internet. When James Fallows asked him how he might prepare to debate Donald Trump if he had won the nomination, he said, “I’d start by thinking of him as a monkey with a machine gun.” Meaning you don't know where he'll be pointing it when it goes off. That is why tomorrow's debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will be the most-watched presidential debate in history.

Fallows looks at tomorrow's debate for the Atlantic and, referencing the famous 160 debate between Richard Nixon and John Kennedy, noted that those who merely heard the debate on the radio called it a tie, but those who saw it on television felt the poised, handsome Kennedy had won. Thus, as the saying goes, "the most accurate way to predict reaction to a debate is to watch it with the sound turned off."

That is why Trump's focus on his primary opponents' high or low energy is significant. Trump is a showman and does best when he can put on a show. Whether what he says is factual or whether he breaks rules is unimportant to the spectacle, or to his fans. Judd Legum observed at Think Progress how Trump's experience in professional wrestling informs how he approaches his "performances." Legum references the late French philosopher Roland Barthe's take on wrestling and passion:

It is obvious that at such a pitch, it no longer matters whether the passion is genuine or not. What the public wants is the image of passion, not passion itself. There is no more a problem of truth in wrestling than in the theater.
This analogy reveals why the attacks on Trump are so ineffective. Recently, Rand Paul and others have taken to calling out Trump as an “entertainer,” rather than a legitimate candidate. This is as effective to running into the middle of the ring during Wrestlemania and yelling: “This is all fake!” You are correct, but you will not be received well.
Legum writes:
In the current campaign, Trump is behaving like a professional wrestler while Trump’s opponents are conducting the race like a boxing match. As the rest of the field measures up their next jab, Trump decks them over the head with a metal chair.

Others in the Republican field are concerned with the rules and constructing a strategy that, under those rules, will lead to the nomination. But Trump isn’t concerned with those things. Instead, Trump is focused on each moment and eliciting the maximum amount of passion in that moment. His supporters love it.
Fallows considers the kind of spectacle we might see tomorrow night. He writes:
These debates would be must-watch TV because they would be the most extreme contrast of personal, intellectual, and political styles in America’s democratic history. Right brain versus left brain; gut versus any portion of the brain at all; impulse versus calculation; id versus superego; and of course man versus woman. The two parties’ conventions this summer were stark contrasts in tone, stagecraft, and lineup of speakers. But they took place in different cities at different times. The first debate will be a matter-meets-antimatter conjunction at a single point. Live sports, from the Olympics to the Kentucky Derby, differ from other TV programming and compel live viewership because no one knows beforehand how things will turn out. The same is true of live presidential debates, above all any including Donald Trump.
Fallows' review of this season's GOP debate lowlights and what features to watch for tomorrow is better debate prep for the reader than Donald Trump will give himself. Simplicity. Ignorance. Dominance (humiliation). Gender. Trump's limited range works for him. And makes it easy breezy for him to lie convincingly.

How might this go down tomorrow night and how might Clinton play it?
Donald Trump will almost certainly insult her directly, about her own crookedness and about the sins of her husband. This was the heart of his strategy during the primary debates—“I call him ‘Little Marco’ ”; “More energy tonight. I like that” to Bush—and is his instinct. She will answer those quickly and firmly—“My husband and I have been through a lot, as the world well knows. But after 41 years, we are still together”—and then move back to whatever policy point she wants to make. One way to describe this strategy is Martin O’Malley’s. “She has to be direct and tough right back to him, but then quickly pivot to what matters for the country,” he said. “It’s not enough just to disqualify this guy, since he’s survived remarks that in other times have been automatically disqualifying. She also needs to say what the election is about.”

Another way to describe this strategy is to use a phrase from Michelle Obama’s convention speech: When they go low, we go high.
With Trump, there's no way to go but down. The task for Clinton will be to not let Trump drag her down to his level.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Monday's Debate Is Not An Episode Of 'America's Got Presidential Talent

by Spocko

My friend Joel Silberman was on MSNBC talking about what to expect at the debates. He talked about how important it is for the media to not lower the bar for Trump.

This isn't Dancing With the Stars, or The Voice or America's Got Presidential Talent. We're talking about the leader of the free world so let's ask some real questions and hold them accountable.

Monday's debate should be a place where both candidates get asked serious questions and are expected to give serious answers. The performance should be judged by how well each answers those questions. But that is so BORING! The mainstream media knows that, so they do everything they can to make the debates more dramatic and exciting. "Live questions from social media! Live audiences to cheer and boo! Gotcha questions!"

Trump won his debates partly because he's been running for Entertainer in Chief and has delivered. (The last funny Republican was Bob Dole, so the media knows Trump is a rare bird.)

The media played along with Trump as Entertainer in Chief because it's more fun. Serious policy answers are boring and don't get ratings.

Trump knows he isn't going to win a debate based on having good policy answers, he'll win because he has the best zingers and "In your face, liberals!" one-liner positions on everything. People remember, "Well, there you go again." from Reagan, which makes sense because as an actor he knew how to deliver a well-timed line. This is Debate Theater not a debate.

My question for Monday is, "Will Trump pay any price for not having deeper answers to serious questions?"

Some people in his camp might think he needs to show knowledge about the issues, they will be ignored. That stuff is for liberal nerds and policy wonks who read blogs and know the names of Supreme Court Justices. His voters just want to hear zingers and see swagger.

Roger Ailes, the un-incarcerated serial sexual harasser, is advising Trump. He's not going to tell him to bone up on Aleppo. He'll advise him on how to say the things his Fox audience loves. He'll remind him, "You don't need to satisfy Holt and the liberal media, they are already in the tank for Hillary. You need to satisfy your base. Show them you are the alpha and are in control."

I see where Trump has already suggested inviting Gennifer Flowers to the debate, So now I expect Holt to bring up the Lewinsky affair.  Holt might use the "some people say..." formula because "it's out there" and will define it as a "character" issue.  If he doesn't, Trump might bring it up via the Clinton Foundation then wondering, "What role will Bill play if elected? Then ending with a, "Well, if you can't control your husband... how are you going to be able to control anything?" comment.

This is classic right wing projection attack model. Trump's the one with problems with his foundation and with relinquishing control of his business, but she will be the one having to defend her's.

In general the idea is to position Hillary as the Cuckolded President. If questioned about what he means with his "If you can't control your husband" comment he will say, "I was talking about control of the Clinton FOUNDATION, not about what your husband did while in the White House!"

If Trump brings up the Lewinsky affair, and I think he will, he will do it by defending and forgiving her. He will acknowledge he's no saint, people have a right to privacy, etc. BUT, his point will be made. This interaction will be seen as a "character" debate about her. Not about the thrice married man who cheated on his wife.  

It will be a big "OMG, HE WENT THERE!"moment. How she responds will be all the media will want to talk about, as well as the audacity of Trump bringing it up.
(I've watched a bunch of clips of Trump on The Apprentice. He knew how to control the moment. Now some of that is editing, but his confidence in the setting is what comes across. Even if his reasoning, when you look at it later, is clearly capricious and loopy, he still "wins the interaction" especially if there is no one there to follow up and question him. )

Karl Rove and Karen Hughes believed, and showed time after time with Bush, that "It's better to look and sound strong than to actually BE strong." When they didn't want to talk about a plan, they classified it. When it didn't work, they changed what the goals were. Details are for underlings. It's about the look and the attitude. You want policies and positions? Sure, if they can fit on a tweet. That, Trump can do.

Which Media will show up?

When Tamron Hall asked what to expect from Trump, Joel responded. "That's the wild card, isn't it? Which Donald shows up?" That will depend on which Media shows up. Will it be the media that don't feel it's their job to point out lies and errors, as Chris Wallace of Fox News said? Or will it be the media that understands the winners' policies will mean life or death to millions? And when the Media gets their answers will they accept them without follow up or demand more?

In the distant past, the metric for success by the journalist moderator were good questions that let people see the knowledge, competence and character of the candidates so voters can decide. I think the last time we saw that was when the League of Women Voters were in charge. If we have a moderator who sees the job like that, then Hillary will nail the debate with knowledge and competence.

If that is how Holt approaches the debate, Trump will try to move to be light and funny. He'll kick the policy details down the road. If Holt then doesn't ask for more detail or accepts vagaries, Trump wins because Holt has let Trump set the rules.

Hillary understands Debate Theater, she knows how to play the zinger game. Zingers actually can be very powerful. I hope someone is writing some new ones for her. She's come up with a few good ones in the past. "A man who can be baited by a tweet" and "Delete your account."

Here's the deal, we need the media that shows up to hold each candidate to the same, "Millions of lives are in the balance" standard. Because that is the reality. If they don't, and let him control the moment and the depth of the debate, Trump will have a real shot at winning the debate, and perhaps the election--and that's not entertaining at all.

Cross posted to Crooks and Liars and Spocko's Brain
Nothing more to say

by digby

There is Only One Presidential Candidate Part Five 

by tristero

The NY Times endorsed Clinton but actually they're heavily promoting Trump for president. How heavily? Literally by a 2:1 margin.

Put another way, the Times believes that what Trump says and does is twice as important as what his closest rival says and does.

Think I'm kidding? If you go now (now being September 24, 2016 at 2:18 EST) to the NY Times Web site and do a word search, you will come up with

Trump: 16 mentions
Clinton: 8 mentions

2 Pictures of Trump
1 picture of Clinton

It's no wonder he's pulled even.
Yes, it was torture, Part XXIV

by digby

This video of a petrified 15 year old girl being pepper sprayed in the back of a police car has been making the rounds. It's a complicated story. The girl hit a car with her bicycle. The cops showed and tried to talk to her, she got scared and tried to ride away and when they stopped and detained her she got hysterical and non-compliant. The cops handcuffed her and put her to the ground, finally decided to take her to the station and wrestled her in the back of their cruiser. She was screaming and crying and as they were trying to close the door on the car as she writhed in the back, one of the officers who had arrived late to the scene put his hand through the window and said if she didn't "get in the car" she was going to get sprayed. And then he sprayed her with pepper spray right in the face. While she was handcuffed and could not wipe her eyes.

They had her in the car. She was not a danger to anyone. She was emotionally overwrought and needed to be calmed and soothed not further agitated. Indeed, she might have even been injured for all they knew.

Pepper spraying her was a punitive act of torture.

And the police department says it was all good police work.

This episode reminds me of this post from long ago which continues to haunt me whenever I see pepper spray being used up-close by police:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Yes of course pepper spray is a torture device

by digby

The hideous pepper spraying of college students at UC Davis yesterday reminds me of a similar case in the 90s, which I've written about several times before.

In 1997, environmentalists were staging a sit-in against the cutting of old forest in Humboldt county. The police sprayed pepper spray directly into the protesters eyes in similar fashion to what happened in UC yesterday and then used liquified pepper spray and applied it directly to the protesters eyes with q-tips. I'm not kidding. There's video:

I was writing about the use of tasers when I wrote this piece back in 2009:

Why is it that the taser videos always show a bunch of cops sauntering around, three or four of them bent over a prone person in handcuffs, blithely administering the taser as if they are merely wiping a speck of dust off the suspects shirt? I think that's the part I find so chilling --- it's so methodical, so cold, so completely inhuman --- that it seems like something out of a dystopian sci-fi novel featuring robots or aliens.

I'll never forget the horror of seeing the video of those environmental protesters having their eyes calmly swabbed with Q tips soaked in liquid pepper spray, by the Humboldt County sheriffs dept. In searching for the video I came across this San Francisco Examiner editorial from 1997, that could be written today about tasers:

Justifying Torture

Law enforcement arguments in a federal lawsuit are malarkey - pepper spray used senselessly hurts cops as much as protesters

San Francisco Examiner
Monday, Nov. 17, 1997 Page A 18

It's almost farcical for law enforcement officials to continue defending pepper spray as a weapon to get protesters to follow orders. A videotape of officers applying pepper spray in liquid form to demonstrators' eyes shows the technique to be a form of torture.

Yet, attorneys for the Humboldt County Sheriff and the Eureka Police Department argue in federal court that this use of pepper spray is legitimate and unobjectionable. In court papers filed in a protesters' suit against the cops, police training expert Joseph J. Callahan Jr. says, implausibly, that the videotape could be used as a training film "illustrating modern police practices delivered in a calm, deliberate manner." (Remind us not to volunteer as guinea pigs for Mr. Callahan.)

The videotape was shot by Humboldt sheriff's deputies at an Oct. 16 demonstration, against logging in the Headwaters Forest, that took place in the Eureka office of Rep. Frank Riggs, R-Windsor. Four women who had chained themselves together with heavy metal "black bears" got liquid pepper spray rubbed into their eyes with cotton swabs, and one woman who refused even then to move had the pepper mist sprayed into her face.

This hurts, as the videotaped reactions make clear. But it broke up the demonstration pronto, and that's what counted for the law enforcers.

"At stake," attorneys for the cops argue, "is whether professionally trained police officers are to be deprived of the use of pepper spray, a substance carried by millions of private citizens in this country."

But this is really not the issue. Most people don't object to police using pepper spray the way it's designed to be used: To subdue a suspect who threatens officers or threatens to flee. Neither occurred in the case of the Eureka protesters.

Police shouldn't use pepper spray, or any other weapon, to dish out punishment to suspects. Just because cops are in a hurry doesn't make it OK for them to take shortcuts, or inflict pain to get things done.

The argument doesn't wash that no lasting damage was done by the pepper spray. By the same logic, police could use branding irons, sharp knives or psychological abuse on recalcitrant protesters as long as "no lasting damage was done."

Other police legal arguments are similarly shallow. An attorney for the cops said the use of heavy metal sleeves linked with chains that made protesters virtually immovable amounted to "active resistance," justifying the use of pepper spray.

In the past, police used metal grinders to cut through the heavy metal in order to oust demonstrators. That takes longer and is inconvenient, but it doesn't violate anyone's civil rights or threaten their physical well-being.

No one wants to live in a society where police are free to do whatever they wish in order to punish suspected law breakers. Cruel and unusual punishment is outlawed by the Constitution. And anyway, punishment is up to the courts to determine and the penal system to administer.

What cops risk through indiscriminate use of pepper spray, and its indiscriminate defense in court, is losing it altogether. If police are too dense to distinguish between legitimate use and torture, the Legislature should eliminate any confusion and outlaw pepper spray, period.

That holds true for all weapons that can be used for torture.

It took three tries and eight years, but the protesters finally won their case against the police in federal court. They were awarded a dollar.
An article called "Pepper Spray, Pain and Justice" from the Civil Liberties Monitoring Project in northern California on the use of pepper stray as a torture device gives all the details of this famous case.

It tells the harrowing story that you see in that video up top, including the chilling statement by the police after they were done pepper spraying one of the girls directly in the face: "We're not torturing you anymore." 

It asks the question:

Are these valid tactics for the DA's office to use? May the Sheriff and the DA single out forest activists for "special treatment" when they are arrested and charged? The argument for this would be that the protests are costly to the county, and in an effort to contain those costs by reducing the number of protesters, or to prevent nonviolent civil disobedience which is expensive to the government, the government may use its discretionary powers to make the experience these activists have with the criminal justice system as unpleasant and costly as possible. The use of pepper spray to torment activists who are nonviolently sitting-in can be seen as the latest and most extreme step in this campaign.

The difficulty with this approach is that it puts the Sheriff and the DA into the position of the judge. It metes out punishment -- pain, days in jail, costly trips to court, disruption of normal life -- without the bother of proving guilt. Did the Queen in Alice in Wonderland say, "First the sentence, then the trial"? Even children can see that this is backwards.

Oh that wacky Donald

by digby

Here's yet another example of Trump basically saying whatever comes into his head and getting away with it. It's a powerful tool. He can contradict himself, make no sense, be totally uninformed and pathologically mendacious and at least 40% of the country thinks he's terrific because "he tells it like it is" and a fair number of other people think he's more honest than his opponent.
Donald J. Trump on Thursday traveled to Pittsburgh, a city once synonymous with the rich coal seam that runs beneath it and now the capital of natural gas fracking, to promise the impossible: a boom for both coal and gas.

Mr. Trump’s energy promises to those attending a corporate conference contained a fundamentally incompatible concept, as expanding the exploration of natural gas is the surest way to hurt coal production, and vice versa. Since the two fuels compete directly for the same market — the power plants that light American homes — it is effectively impossible to increase production of one without decreasing the other.

But ever the salesman, Mr. Trump gave it a go and promised to restore the region’s old coal economy and pump up its booming new gas economy.

“The shale energy revolution will unleash massive wealth for America,” he told an audience of chief executives from the energy industry. “And we will end the war on coal and the war on miners.”

It is not the first time Mr. Trump has tailored his policies to be all things to all audiences. Last week, he told auditors tallying the cost of his tax plan that he had dropped a $1 trillion tax cut for small businesses while he told the small business lobby he had not. He has promised a foreign policy more focused on American interests than on global entanglements as he promises to widen the war on the Islamic State and take oil from Iraq. His immigration policies have swung wildly depending on his audience.

Energy experts said Mr. Trump’s pledges on gas and coal pandered to his audience while showing a lack of basic knowledge about energy markets.

“There is a fundamental inconsistency between Trump’s promise to ‘bring the coal industry back 100 percent,’ as he says, and any promises to use government policy to grow the market for natural gas,” said Robert N. Stavins, director of the environmental economics program at Harvard.

“The primary cause of the tremendous fall in coal employment is low natural gas prices, due to increased supplies of natural gas from hydraulic fracturing,” Professor Stavins said. “If the Trump administration wanted to help coal, it could ban fracking. But he can’t have it both ways.”
Sure he can. He's a magic man.
Something to haunt your nightmares

by digby

Time Magazine reports:
As recently as a couple of years ago, when Max Geishüttner was in his second year of law school in the Austrian city of Linz, he tended to avoid talking about his support for the country’s Freedom Party. It wasn’t exactly taboo, but a lot of Austrians still associated the party with racism, even neo-Nazism. Its first two leaders, from 1956 to 1978, were former SS officers, and their successors in the years that followed were implicated in a series of scandals over anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. In the homeland of Adolf Hitler, who also went to school in Linz, such a reputation seemed an impossible obstacle to popular acceptance in a Europe that was supposed to have left such prejudices behind.

“So you would feel, like, a bad conscience if you say, ‘I vote for the FPO,'” Geishüttner told me at one of the party’s campaign rallies in mid-September, using the Freedom Party’s German abbreviation. But 2016 is different. Thanks to a broader shift to the right in European politics, the FPO has become the most popular party in Austria, with its support growing fastest among voters younger than 30. Its presidential candidate, Norbert Hofer, is well positioned to win a runoff election in December, which would make Austria the first country in Western Europe to elect a far-right head of state since the fall of Nazi Germany. “Now it’s normal,” said Geishüttner.

The Freedom Party’s rise is not an anomaly. Across the once placid political landscape of Western Europe, right-wing upstarts have created what Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, recently termed “galloping populism.” He was referring to movements like the Sweden Democrats, the National Front in France, the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands and other voices on the far right calling for their once open countries to close up and turn inward. But the insurgency is not limited to Europe. All the rising rightist parties are aligned with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in what they encourage voters to fear: migrants taking your jobs, Muslims threatening your culture and security, political correctness threatening your ability to speak your mind and, above all, entrenched elites selling you out in the service of the wealthy and well-connected.

In the case of Austria, the man responsible for harnessing this formula is Heinz-Christian Strache, a fast-talking, telegenic former dental technician who took over as FPO chairman in 2005. Back then, the party’s approval ratings were in the single digits, weighed down by claims of anti-Semitism that had dogged its upper ranks for years. But Strache changed the party’s image. Support for the state of Israel became part of its platform, and its new leaders renounced the aversion that their predecessors had expressed toward Jews. Instead, Strache focused his party’s hostility on a different minority group: Muslims.

“Political Islam,” he told TIME in an interview in his office in Vienna, “is the fascism of today, and that is what we have to fight.” Such claims would have once been met with outrage in Europe, but no longer. Amid the political backlash to the refugee crisis in the summer of 2015, when more than a million asylum seekers from around the Muslim world came streaming into the E.U., a patchwork of populist movements have begun to call for Europeans to shut their borders to Muslim migrants, close Islamic schools and ban Muslim women from covering their hair or face in public. And they’re winning.

We have one of these too. And the US is the world's only superpower.

There is Only One Candidate Part Four 

by tristero

Yesterday, a fairly typical day at Huffington Post, Trump received much more than twice as many headlines as Clinton. And there were more than 4 times as many pictures of Trump as there were of Clinton.

This kind of gross skewing of coverage is repeated throughout the media. You think this might have something to do with Trump's unnervingly high poll numbers?

You think????


Scroll on Huffington Post September 23, 2016 6:13 PM EST.

The major headline is "Charlotte Horror." What follows are the headlines that mention US presidents and candidates for 7 page downs on my monitor. Here is a summary:

Mentions of Trump: 16 (including the name of his son 1x)
Pictures of Trump: 9 (with 5 additional pictures of Trump in the side bars)

Mentions of Clinton: 6
Pictures of Clinton: 2 (with 1 additional picture of Clinton in the side bar)

Mentions of Obama: 2
Pictures of Obama: 1 (with 1 additional picture of Obama in the side bar)


Why Hillary Is More Than Ready To Take On Trump At The Debate (with pics of both)
Trump Team Builds ‘Psychological Profile’ Of Clinton
Hillary Leads Nationally, Struggles In Some Battleground States

Fox News Gives Trump A Pass On Birther Crusade It Helped Fuel (with picture of Trump)
Obama’s Long, Frustrating And Fruitless Campaign To Kill Birtherism

CRUZ CAVES! Endorses Trump After RNC Snub (with picture of Trump)

Obama Sets Up Congress Override Vote With Veto Of 9/11 Lawsuit Bill (with picture of Obama)

Trump Hotels Covered Up A Massive Credit Card Theft. Then They Let It Happen Again. (with picture of Trump)
MORE: Trump Repeatedly Sued For Disability Violations

Glenn Beck Is Not Taking Ted Cruz’s Trump Endorsement Well

Hillary Goes After Misogynist Trump (with picture of Trump)
Clinton’s Formula For Devastating Ads Against Donald

The Explosive And Twisted History Of The Dakota Access Pipeline
Feud Exposes Rift In Organized Labor

Most Voters Don’t Think Trump Respects Ordinary Americans (with picture of Trump)

U.S. Intel Probes Ties Between Trump Adviser And Kremlin

It’s Time To Play The ‘Debate Expectations’ Game! (with picture of Trump)
What Can Clinton Do About The Inevitable Debate Question About Her Emails?

After Backing Republicans For Almost A Century, Cincinnati Enquirer Endorses Hillary (with picture of Clinton)

Elite ‘Bundlers’ Raise More Than $113 Million For Clinton

As We Honor The Sacrifices Of Gold Star Families, Remember That Trump Insulted One (with picture of Trump)

Trump Expands His Supreme Court Wish List, Because Nothing Matters (with picture of Trump)

Eric Trump Laughably Claims His Dad Built Business From ‘Just About Nothing’

Patagonia’s Ex-CEO Moves To Create Argentina’s Largest National Park

Omarosa: ‘Every Critic, Every Detractor, Will Have To Bow Down To President Trump

Trump Campaign Replaces One Racist County Chair With Another


They still believe nothing can be done

by Tom Sullivan

On Saturday morning there is usually time for a thoughtful (I hope) run back through the week's news. But this morning I cannot get a story published this morning out of my mind.

I have long admired the work David Waldman (@KagroX) has done on Twitter in chronicling the sickening, daily litany of accidental shootings (#gunFAIL) in this country. I don't know how he can stand it. Plus, we've seen this week two more shootings of African-American men by police with itchy trigger fingers. What we rarely get is the backstory of victims of the daily carnage of accidental or intentional gun violence in this country.

On Saturday 23 November 2013, ten children across America, all boys, died from gunshots. In an extract at the Guardian from the soon-published "Another Day In The Death Of America," Gary Younge tells the stories of the shooting deaths of two young boys on that day. He picked the day at random.

Seen in the context of the ordinariness of their lives, their stories are heartbreaking. Younge spent two years piecing their stories together from interviews with their families.

Jaiden Dixon, 9, was getting ready to leave for school with his mother Nicole and his older brother when the doorbell rang. He opened it, thinking it was one of the girls down the street who might need a lift:

Jaiden opened the door gingerly, hiding behind it, poised to jump out and shout, “Boo!” when one of the girls showed her face. But nobody stepped forward. Time was suspended as the minor commotion of an unexpected visitor failed to materialise. Nicole craned her neck into the cleft of silence to find out who it was. She looked to Jarid; Jarid shrugged.

Slowly, curiously, Jaiden walked around the door. That’s when Nicole heard the “pop”. Her first thought was, “Why are these girls popping a balloon? What are they trying to do, scare me to death?” But then she saw Jaiden’s head snap back, first once, then twice, before he hit the floor. “It was just real quiet. It was like everything stopped. And I remember staring at Jarid.” She knew what had happened. It was Danny.
A former boyfriend and Jaiden's father, a man with a violent temper and an actual physical list he'd written of people he wanted to kill. He'd come for Nicole, but shot the first person he saw in the doorway before speeding away. He left his son in a pool of blood with a bullet through his skull. Danny Thornton drove 20 minutes away to the workplace of another ex-girlfriend he had not seen in 12 years. He shot her too (she survived) before committing suicide by cop in a Walmart parking lot.

Tyler Dunn, 11, lived in tiny Marlette, population 1,879, in rural Michigan an hour northeast of Flint. He was staying over on Friday night at the house of a friend, "Brandon." Brandon's father Jerry was a truck driver who sometimes took the boys hunting or sometimes take them along on his day-long delivery runs. But this day they decided not to go, and Jerry left them at the house. That evening before Jerry got home, Brandon called 911:
An officer went inside, where he found a lever-action rifle on the kitchen floor and Tyler on the dining-room floor, in a Mountain Dew T-shirt and sweatpants, with a large pool of blood surrounding his head. There was a huge wound on the left side of his head. The policeman found no pulse, called dispatch, and told them Tyler was dead. As he left, he saw a shotgun lying on the living room couch and four holes in the dining-room window.

Nobody but Brandon will ever know for sure what happened that night, Sheriff Biniecki says. Brandon claims they were playing Xbox when he got a rifle out of Jerry’s closet to show Tyler. He asked Tyler to hold it while he went to get his milkshake from the bedroom. He came back and took the rifle from Tyler, who passed it to him butt first, the muzzle pointing in Tyler’s direction. Brandon was resting it against the wall when the gun got caught on his pocket and went off.
The house contained a small arsenal. Both Brandon and his father faced charges, Brandon in juvenile court.

The effects on both families that lost children were devastating.

Younge writes:
This is not a story about gun control. It is a story made possible by the absence of gun control. Americans are no more violent than anybody else. What makes their society more deadly is the widespread availability of firearms. To defend this by way of the second amendment – the right to bear arms – has about the same relevance as seeking to understand the roots of modern terrorism through readings of the Qur’an. To base an argument on an ancient text is effectively to abdicate your responsibility to understand the present. Adopted in 1791, the second amendment states: “A well–regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” These 27 words have been elevated to the level of scripture, inscribed on a blood-soaked pedestal thwarting all debate, more than 200 years after its passing.

None of the family members I spoke to raised the second amendment. Almost all believed guns were too readily available; none believed there was anything that could be done. But when I told them of other families who had lost children that day, they seemed shocked. It was as though they had lost a loved one in a war, unaware that the same war was simultaneously claiming other lives – indeed, unaware that a war was taking place. As though it were happening only to them, when in fact it was happening to America. Every day.
From Newark to San Jose, eight other children (older teens) died that day: killed by a stray bullet, in a drive-by shooting, in a case of mistaken identity, by accident by a friend or in gang violence.

I still find it hard to believe that, days after Terence Crutcher died at the hands of police in Tulsa, Keith Scott would get out of his vehicle – while surrounded by Charlotte police – with a gun in his hand. His wife insists he did not have one. And the casual way it appears police tossed "something" onto the pavement at Scott's feet suggests the something seen in blurry images was not a handgun. But in a country awash with them, it's not surprising police "see" guns everywhere. Of course, there's the 2nd Amendment, so nothing can be done about that.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday night soother

by digby

From the goodfolks at The Dodo:

For 17 years of his life, Tilin was seen as nothing more than a performing animal — and when he wasn't on stage, he lived in solitude.

When the Hamadryas baboon wasn't out in the circus ring, he spent his time locked in a tiny cage in Bolivia. The sad reality he endured being forced to entertain audiences finally came to an end in September 2010, when Tilin was confiscated from the circus and transferred to a sanctuary.

Tilin, in the circus cage he had lived in all his life Facebook/Animal Defenders International

He was rescued by Animal Defenders International (ADI), an organization that successfully campaigned to help bring about a 2009 ban on wild animals in Bolivian circuses.

"Tilin was found starved of primate companionship, living next to lions and with a chain around his neck," James Shaw, who founded Lakeview Monkey Sanctuary with his wife, Sharon, told The Dodo. "This [chain] was cut and his new life began."

The moment Tilin's chain was removed Facebook/Animal Defenders International

When Tilin first arrived at Lakeview Monkey Sanctuary, based in England, he was unable to move freely. His legs were weakened due to being deprived of exercise and free movement for years. "We immediately fell in love with the gentle giant," Shaw said. "His character and spirit were still intact."

In the weeks following his arrival, during which he remained in quarantine at the sanctuary, his caretakers read to him, allowing him to learn their voices and grow used to their company (as a result, Tilin is now a huge fan of Jane Austen, Shaw said).

Lakeview Monkey Sanctuary

Through a regime of balanced diet and exercise, Tilin slowly but surely regained strength in his legs. His mental health improved as well, and Shaw said he noticed a decrease in certain repetitive behavioral patterns Tilin had developed during his time as a circus animal.
But the most harrowing part of Tilin's dark past, by far, was how long the social animal lived without companionship. "When we think how long he was living his solitary life, we think what has happened to us as humans during those 17 years; the places we've been, the people we've met, the births, deaths and loves that we've all experienced," Shaw said. "For Tilin, his days were always the same. This, we wanted to remedy as soon as possible."

Lakeview Monkey Sanctuary

Through the luck of a mutual contact, an animal rescue organization called Animal Responsibility Cyprus, the Shaws learned about another baboon, the same species as Tilin, who was living with a German shepherd at a donkey sanctuary.

Tina Facebook/Animal Defenders International

Her name was Tina, and she was born at a captive breeding facility in Israel before being exported with another monkey to Cyprus, where she became part of the country's exotic pet trade. After she became too big for her owners at the age of 5, they handed her over to the local donkey sanctuary.

Lakeview Monkey Sanctuary

She was another baboon who had never known the friendship of her own species — and so the Shaws knew she would be a perfect match for their lonely boy. Tina arrived at the sanctuary in June 2011.

Tina was introduced to Tilin slowly. They were placed next to each other with a wire barrier and were watched carefully for any signs of aggressive behavior. To the Shaws, it soon became pretty obvious that Tina was yearning to be even closer to Tilin, who also liked to keep close to her. It finally came time to properly introduce two the two, face to face.

Tilin and Tina sitting next to each other with a wire barrier Facebook/Animal Defenders International

"The moment Tilin and Tina met, they were inseparable," Shaw said. "They ran to each other, embracing and vocalizing, then Tilin turned to us humans and, in no uncertain terms, threatened us to make us leave them alone. We spent the next few hours hiding behind the trees trying to monitor the situation in case anything happened. Every time Tilin spotted us, he told us off."

Today, Tilin and Tina continue to be a happy "married" couple together, with plans underway to build an even bigger enclosure for them to continue living their peaceful days together.

Lakeview Monkey Sanctuary

"Tilin and Tina are just amazing together," Shaw said. "For two animals who never had the chance to be with their own kind, to see them relaxing in the sunshine, grooming each other is very moving … we feel they truly deserve the best after their past traumas."

Facebook/Animal Defenders International

To help Lakeview Monkey Sanctuary continue helping animals, you can make a donation here. You can also donate to ADI to help it save more animals from circuses.

Projection by numbers

by digby

Here's the conservative movement's answer to Donald Trump's abdication of every tenet of freedom and liberty they've espoused for the last half century. This one's by Richard Viguerie. And that picture above is the cover of a new book they're pimping to keep the coffers full:

“Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”  Samuel Johnson
The 2016 Presidential Election is now about six weeks away – a bit more than a fortnight – but close enough that it should concentrate the mind of every conservative and right-of-center voter in America on what the effects of a Hillary Clinton presidency would be on their lives and the lives of their fellow citizens.  
Accordingly, this booklet isn’t about why conservatives should support Donald Trump, or Gary Johnson or Jill Stein or any other candidate running for President.  
Instead, it is a cannonball through the doors of the Ivory Towers of those “conservatives” who continue to obdurately claim that a Hillary Clinton presidency might not be that bad, that the country can recover after four or eight years, and that her policies won’t be aimed at marginalizing, if not outlawing, the conservative worldview.
To outline and explain these dangers I asked a group of conservative leaders to share with me their assessment of what a Hillary Clinton presidency would mean to those Americans who hold traditional Judeo-Christian values and who believe in American exceptionalism.
Most of these leaders had not backed Donald Trump during the Republican Primaries, but the response was immediate and overwhelming – far beyond the expected pro forma election year support for the Republican candidate for president.   
In fact, each of these respected conservative leaders saw Hillary Clinton not as merely a wrongheaded political opponent, but as a genuine threat to the future of the conservative movement and to the domestic tranquility of this great country.  
The dangers that these leaders saw in a Hillary Clinton presidency represent not obscure Capitol Hill policy differences, but dangers to the peaceful lives of ordinary Americans.  
What they told me was that Americans who believe in the right-to-life; Americans who believe that marriage between one man and one woman is Biblically ordained; Americans who own guns; Americans who believe in the rule of law and protecting our borders are all at risk. Perhaps most at risk from a Clinton presidency are those Americans who believe that the Constitution is the law that governs and restrains government.  
The one voice that is not represented, and from whom I expected to receive a response was my longtime friend, the First Lady of the Conservative Movement Phyllis Schlafly. Not only was Phyllis Schlafly the first major conservative leader to endorse Donald Trump, she was also conservativism’s most effective opponent of the radical Leftist Feminism to which Hillary Clinton subscribes and wishes to impose upon America.  
What’s more, the Trump campaign’s populist – conservative coalition of outsiders seemed to be the very embodiment of her 1964 classic A Choice Not An Echo, committed as they are to breaking the power of the kingmakers, as Phyllis called the Wall Street – Washington – Silicon Valley Axis.  
Unfortunately, before she could submit her response, Phyllis Schlafly passed away and it is to her and her lifelong struggle against the establishment kingmakers and the radical Left that this booklet is dedicated. 
Remember, they like to lose. It makes it easier to fund raise.

The truth hurts

by digby

Looks like Clinton didn't screw the pooch after all. Imagine that:
It was supposed to be her "47 percent" moment.

When Hillary Clinton said that half of Donald Trump's supporters belonged in a "basket of deplorables," Republicans thought they just might have found her campaign-crushing-blunder.

The gaffe, they hoped, was a way to cement an image as an out-of-touch snob, just as Democrats did four years ago to Mitt Romney after he said "47 percent" of voters backed President Barack Obama because they were "dependent on government."

But a new Associated Press-GfK poll finds that Clinton's stumble didn't have quite the impact that Trump and his supporters wanted. Instead, it's Trump who's viewed as most disconnected and disrespectful.

Sixty percent of registered voters say he does not respect "ordinary Americans," according to the poll. That's far more than the 48 percent who say the same about Clinton.

The reason for that is that it's obvious to anyone that Trump is an odious pig and that many of his supporters cheer on his odiousness. There's no better example than the GOP partisans at the RNC shouting "lock her up!" in unison over and over again. Millions saw it. It's obvious. And they're proud of it.

They hear what they want to hear

by digby

When Robin Roberts asked President Obama for debating advice for Hillary Clinton, this is what he said:
"Be yourself and explain what motivates you. I’ve gotten to know Hillary and seen her work, seen her in tough times and in good times. She’s in this for the right reasons. There’s a reason why we haven’t had a woman president before, so she’s having to break down some barriers. There’s a level of mistrust and a caricature of her that just doesn’t jive with who I know -- this person who cares deeply about kids."

CNN's Gloria Borger characterized his comments this way:
He wants her to try to be more like herself because she has a hard time doing that. 
I don't think that's what he was saying. In fact, he was saying something else altogether. But they've got a narrative and they're sticking to it.

Looks like Cruz is the weasel we always knew he was

by digby

After the RNC I wrote that Ted Cruz had made a calculation that Trump was going to lose and he would be seen as the man who walked into the lion's den and faced down the boos in order to preserve his place as the man who stood up when others stood down. It showed some courage.

Multiple sources close to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) say he will finally endorse Donald Trump as soon as Friday, according to Politico. 
It is unclear wither Cruz plans on just pledging to vote for the GOP presidential nominee or offering more substantial backing.
Looks like Kasich is the last man standing. Jeb's not going to run again (I never thought he really wanted it)  and the rest have all shown themselves to be without any principles at all.


For Gloria and Mary

by digby

Clinton's new ad:

Gloria is one of my oldest friends and she and her mother Mary are from upstate New York and huge Clinton fans just like that woman.  They always say "she's our girl" too.  There are a lot of women like them out there with a ton of enthusiasm for her.  They're just not the kind of people that anyone pays attention to. They do vote though.

And this ad might motivate some people with daughters and it's really important. The sexism I battled in my working life was very difficult but I really thought it had gotten a lot better. The last few years have been a revelation. Of course there have been improvements since I was a young women. But there is a whole lot of work to do. If this country could produce a man like this as a possible president we still have big problems in this area:


Nothing left but the dogwhistle

by digby

I wrote about the conservative movement's last breaths for Salon today:

That day 15 months ago when Donald Trump descended that escalator to announce his candidacy, it was obvious to me that whether or not he won, he was going to turn the race into something we had never seen before. He had massive celebrity and a lot of money, and he was tapping into a groundswell of anger over immigration that had shocked the political world just a year earlier when the incumbent House majority leader (Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia) was defeated in a primary largely because of that issue. It was foolish for political insiders to laugh at the possibility that Trump could go all the way. But they did. And they’ve had to play catch-up ever since.

The mainstream Republican establishment was knocked for a loop. They had offered up a dazzling array of GOP all-stars for the public to choose from: former and sitting governors and senators, movement heroes, policy wonks, tough guys, pious religionists, a world renowned neurosurgeon and even a famous high-tech businesswoman. It was beyond their imagination that this crude and inexperienced demagogue could beat any of them, much less all of them.

But as much as political insiders and establishment leaders should have been a more savvy about the potential of a populist celebrity billionaire to throw a grenade into a presidential campaign, it was entirely reasonable for many conservative movement leaders to be shocked that a man like Trump could capture the imagination of their movement so quickly, and without any serious commitment to their cause. After all, the last we heard, the Tea Party was still running the congressional asylum. Those folks may have a flair for the dramatic, but they’re true believers in the conservative movement. There was every reason to believe that the millions of Republican voters who supported them were too.

What conservatives found out was that all those years of carefully and patiently educating their voters in the nuances of small government, traditional values and strong national defense, to the point where they could elicit ecstatic cheers by merely uttering the words “tort reform” or “eminent domain” turned out to be for naught. The voters really only heard the dog-whistles.

This has been a rude awakening for conservative intellectuals who’ve spent their lives developing their elaborate ideological framework only to find their millions of supposed adherents never really cared about it. Zach Beauchamp at Voxinterviewed one such leading intellectual, a professor of political theory at George Washington University named Samuel Goldman, about the state of the movement in the age of Trump. Goldman admits that the conservative movement is “doomed,” or at least it is no longer viable as a majority, and rightly attributes the problem to the fact that conservatives no longer attract anyone but white people:
The answer has to do with the adoption of a fairly exclusive vision of American nationalism — which sees America not only as a predominantly white country but also as a white Christian country and also as a white Christian provincial country. This is a conception of America that finds its home outside the cities, exurbs and rural areas, in what Sarah Palin called the real America. 
If you project yourself as a white Christian provincial party, you’re not going to get very many votes among people who are none of those things. That’s what’s happened over the last 10 or 15 years.

Goldman says this is the result of a demographic delusion in which conservatives believed, despite all evidence to the contrary, that their idealized vision of the Real America was literally true.

I’m confused as to why he thinks this trend only goes back 10 or 15 years old, however. This idea that “real Americans” are white small-town folks, hard-scrabble farmers, blue-collar workers and small-business owners who live somewhere in the heartland has been around a lot longer than that. And it’s been used specifically in politics since the late 1960s, when Richard Nixon first coined the phrase “silent majority” and the political press began to notice that its own experiences were not necessarily reflective of the nation at large.

I previously noted this piece by Joseph Kraft, a famous newspaper columnist of that era, because it illustrates the point of view that began to pervade the political establishment in the wake of the upheavals of civil rights, the counterculture and the anti-war movement. He wrote it right after the famous 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago:
Most of us in what is called the communications field are not rooted in the great mass of ordinary Americans – in Middle America. And the results show up not merely in occasional episodes such as the Chicago violence but more importantly in the systematic bias toward young people, minority groups, and presidential candidates who appeal to them. 
To get a feel of this bias it is first necessary to understand the antagonism that divides the middle class of this country. On the one hand there are highly educated upper-income whites sure of and brimming with ideas for doing things differently. On the other hand, there is Middle America, the large majority of low-income whites, traditional in their values and on the defensive against innovation.
The most important organs of media and television are, beyond much doubt, dominated by the outlook of the upper-income whites.
In these circumstances, it seems to me that those of us in the media need to make a special effort to understand Middle America. Equally it seems wise to exercise a certain caution, a prudent restraint, in pressing a claim for a plenary indulgence to be in all places at all times the agent of the sovereign public.
From there flowed decades of “plenary indulgence” toward this white, provincial Real America by both parties, in which politicians were required to pledge fealty to “heartland values” and ensure that such folk were treated with the deference and respect they required.

In other words, this isn’t new. The only thing that’s changed is that the people Real Americans resent — African-Americans, women, recent immigrants and LGBT folks — are now assuming positions of prominence and power, and the provincial anger, stoked for so long by the Republican Party, has finally boiled over. Donald Trump is telling those folks what they’ve been wanting to hear, exactly the way they’ve been wanting to hear it for a very long time.



NC breaking left?

by Tom Sullivan

Three nights of protests in Charlotte have given new meaning to North Carolina being a battleground state. Other cities across the country have seen large-scale protests against police killings of black men: Ferguson, New York, Baltimore. The list goes on. Now Charlotte joins them. Last night the mayor issued an order for a midnight curfew.

Police insist that Keith Lamont Scott posed “an imminent deadly threat” when officers shot and killed him on Tuesday. After viewing police recordings from the scene yesterday, Scott's family requested police release the footage. But as protesters chanted “Release the tape! Release the tape!” police refused:

Kerr Putney, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police chief, said that video footage of the encounter did not give “absolute definitive visual evidence that would confirm that a person is pointing a gun,” but he said that the footage and other evidence “supports what we’ve heard” about what happened.


“You shouldn’t expect it to be released,” Putney said during a news briefing Thursday. He added: “Transparency is in the eye of the beholder. … If you think I’m saying we should display a victim’s worst day for public consumption, that is not the transparency I’m speaking of.”
The protests have attracted national attention both from social justice activists and the presidential campaigns:
Charlotte organizers have been holding protests, creating coalitions and leading discussions about police brutality against the African-American community for almost three years, since a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer shot Jonathan Ferrell, an unarmed black man who had wrecked his car, in September 2013. But until this week, the violence that erupted in cities across America had not come to Charlotte.

Now, leaders of some of those protests, such as Michael McBride, a California minister who leads the Live Free campaign against mass incarceration, and Traci Blackmon, an organizer of the Black Lives Matter movement in Ferguson, Mo., traveled to Charlotte.

Corine Mack, president of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg NAACP branch, said Thursday that Charlotte-Mecklenburg police, including Chief Kerr Putney, have worked with local groups to build the kind of relationships that could improve treatment of African-Americans and build trust.
Donald Trump blamed the unrest on drugs, telling an audience in Pittsburgh, “If you’re not aware, drugs are a very, very big factor in what you’re watching on television at night.” Trump suggested Thursday he would address violence and black-on-black crime using stop-and-frisk tactics already declared unconstitutional. Trump said of police in a town hall appearance with Sean Hannity:
But, basically, they will -- if they see -- you know, they're proactive and if they see a person possibly with a gun or they think may have a gun, they will see the person and they'll look and they'll take the gun away.
The 2nd Amendment is sacrosanct, but only as it applies to white people. The NRA stuck its fingers in its ears and heard nothing. Today, Trump will be back to warning people it is Hillary Clinton who wants to take their guns.

Hillary Clinton responded to the killing and protests, tweeting:

Politico wonders if the protests in Charlotte could have an effect on North Carolina Republicans' prospects on November 8:

North Carolina political operatives are skeptical that, unless the chaos in Charlotte continues for weeks, the issue will make a substantial dent in the race. But Republicans and some Democrats do say that the dynamic creates an opening for Trump to further shore up and energize the GOP base—something he has struggled to do—predicting voters will respond to his campaign’s law-and-order message and his staunch defense of police, even amid national concerns over institutional police racism. A senior adviser to the Trump campaign said only that Trump had been in the state earlier this week and "we have not yet announced the date of our next trip back to the state."

“I certainly think unrest feeds into Trump’s narrative that ‘America’s falling apart, we need to make America great again,’” said Tom Jensen, a Democratic pollster whose firm is based in North Carolina. “My sense is, most white North Carolinians who would be really repulsed by what’s going on in Charlotte would be in Trump’s camp. I doubt it moves the needle a lot, but the race is just about tied … something like that is never going to move the race by 3 or 4 points, but it can change the race on the margins, and we’re on the margins.”
But one thing that's not obvious from 30,000 feet is that while the protests might help turn out Trump voters in rural North Carolina by a percentage, that's not where the real untapped cache of votes is. Charlotte may be the state's largest city, but Charlotte-Mecklenburg County is the 2nd largest block of registered voters in the state, just behind Wake County (Raleigh). Its voter turnout numbers in recent statewide elections, however, have been anemic, falling below state averages, and ten percent below Wake's in 2014. Sen. Kay Hagan might still be in the United States Senate if Mecklenburg had simply matched average state turnout numbers in 2014.

Because of Mecklenburg's size, it is possible that a large African-American turnout spurred by the shootings and protests could actually help Democrats more than the protests help Trump. In North Carolina's largest city, a percentage or two increase in voter turnout counts for a lot more votes than it does in rural counties. The question is whether Democrats can get their act together enough to turn out voters for Hillary Clinton who actually supports the kind of reform people have taken to the streets to demand. Whether the state goes blue in November might depend on it.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

"Any regret over losing the Scott Baio vote?"

by digby


Contrarianism for dummies

by digby

One of Robert Kennedy's speech writers wrote a bizarre screed for Politico making the so-called "liberal" case for Donald Trump on the basis of his alleged pacifism.  Yes, it's as daft as it sounds. Today, another RFK associate, Peter Edelman, talks some sense:
Writing as a former legislative assistant to Senator Robert F. Kennedy and an enthusiastic supporter of Hillary Clinton for president, I was disappointed to see in Politico the screed written by my former colleague, Adam Walinsky, excoriating Clinton’s record on foreign policy and national security and going on to conclude that Donald Trump should therefore be elected president. It is one thing to disagree with Secretary Clinton, which Walinsky does heatedly, and quite another to turn to Donald Trump.

We should be clear that Walinsky’s critique is not confined to Clinton. He lays out (and massively overstates) a dark view not just of Clinton but also of President Obama and almost the entire Democratic Party. The analysis is overwrought, but even one who buys the argument defies all logic in imagining that the solution is Trump.

The question is not whether there is a military-industrial complex in our country. President Eisenhower called us out on that and there is enough responsibility to go around among both parties for it. The 21st century version begins with the Iraq War, which was originated by a Republican President. I am not interested in adjudicating the issue of which party is the war party except to say that Presidents Obama, Clinton and Carter have stood for peace in important and tangible ways. The question here is whether Donald Trump can claim in any way that he is the candidate who stands for a foreign policy of restraint and the answer is that he cannot.

Walinsky finds in Trump a rationality and consistency that do not exist. Any reasonable observer of the presidential campaign has seen that at one moment, Trump will represent himself as an isolationist who wants to end ties with NATO and other allies; at another, he will lash out at any perceived insult to the U.S. or to himself, and pledges that America’s pride needs to be vindicated militarily. “America First,” Trump says regularly, bringing the isolationism of Charles Lindbergh to mind—before excoriating President Obama for not using greater force in any number of venues and then insinuating that he has a secret plan to obliterate the Islamic State.

To compare John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy to Donald Trump is—well, I won’t finish the sentence. Yes, Robert Kennedy turned against the Vietnam War, but not because he felt that America should retreat from the world. He opposed the war because it was unjust and was based on a flawed notion of American interests. The result, as we know, was the death of Vietnamese and Americans and others who should not have died. JFK and RFK were internationalists. They understood that World War II left the United States with a responsibility to play an active and constructive role in the world. They understood that America must stand together and dependably with allies who also are committed to pursue a peaceful world. They understood that the use of force was sometimes necessary and that brave men and women would be put at risk. They made those difficult, often excruciating, decisions carefully and as transparently as possible, never rashly, impulsively, or vindictively.

Walinsky quotes Robert Kennedy’s statement that if any member of the ExComm other than John F. Kennedy had been president during the Cuban Missile Crisis, we would have had a nuclear war. Ask yourself what a President Trump might have done in that moment. “Restraint” is not the word that comes to mind.

This is a man who said he would order the military to kill the families of Muslim terrorists and use interrogation techniques worse than waterboarding and opined that the United States should have seized Iraq’s oil resources as “spoils to the victor.”

Yes, we have put too much power in the hands of militarists and profit seekers in both the public and private sectors. But electing Donald Trump is not the answer; it would only compound the problem in new and dangerous ways. The answer is an active citizenry that speaks out against the inappropriate use of force and opposes interference in conflicts that involve neither American security interests nor egregious human rights violations—a topic in which Donald Trump has shown an ostentatious indifference, as his fondness for Vladimir Putin reflects.

All the evidence, provided again and again by Donald Trump’s own mouth, tells us not that he is a man of peace, but that he is a man of no principle—a man who will say, and possibly do, whatever happens to cross his mind at a given minute. He is like the weather in New England: If you don’t like it, wait a minute. We do not know what he believes because he does not know what he believes. We do not know what he knows because, from all we can see, he does not know much.

I don't know when it was that corrupt businessmen with violent, authoritarian oligarch tendencies became acceptable to liberals but it seems to be a thing at least among a few. I think they will come to regret that if he wins. First they came for the undocumented immigrants and I did nothing ...