Offense, Not Defense


If nothing changes, there’s a good chance Trump’s attempt to “both-sides” the Ukraine extortion scandal away will work. Trump tweet-screamed about FAKE NEWS, THE REAL STORY and SPIES all of yesterday and is at it again today, now with the full Fox News/GOP elected officials chorus.

Someone made a slick video ad for him that intersperses clips of mainstream media yapping heads (NYT’s Ken Vogel [see here], ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, NBC’s Brian Williams, etc.), all breathlessly speculating about the propriety of Hunter Biden raking in money abroad while his father was VP.

The ad also features a clip of Biden as VP bragging about giving the Ukrainian government an ultimatum to fire the (corrupt!) prosecutor within “six hours” or kiss billion-dollar loan guarantees bye-bye. If you’re not aware of the context (and remember, maybe 3% of Americans are aware of the context), it’s the most both-sidesiest thing ever.

Now, folks who pay attention know the allegations that Biden had the prosecutor fired to protect his son were investigated and amounted to nothing. From what I’ve read, it wasn’t just the US and Biden who urged the Ukrainian government to get rid of the corrupt prosecutor and generally clean up its act; NATO allies took the same “tough love” approach, and they weren’t doing it to protect Hunter Biden. But if you’re explaining, you’re losing. Trump is counting on that.

He’s also counting on the general public’s cynicism about corruption and influence peddling in politics — a cynicism Trump himself has amplified exponentially with his emoluments factory hotels and resorts, hush-money payments, felonious campaign staff, shockingly unqualified nepotism hires and cabinet members’ sundry scams. But Trump learned in 2016 that he doesn’t need to get the public to like or trust him; he just needs to make his opponent seem as bad or worse than he is, and the media will eagerly assist in this project.

It’s already happening, as y’all have noted in justifiably angry comments in a boatload of threads this week. It’s Butter Emailz II, with similar drip-drip-drip potential.

Now, this part might get me clubbed like a baby seal in comments, but I’m going to say it anyway: This issue will resonate in part because voters will rightly wonder what a foreign gas company was buying when it paid Biden’s son $50K per month (along with John Kerry’s already fabulously rich stepson).

It was all perfectly legal. So was General Mattis’s acceptance of a wad of cash to serve as board member of scammy Theranos and General Kelly’s membership on a private prison board that makes money off the Trump child separation atrocities Kelly oversaw.

I don’t mean to suggest an equivalency there but rather to point out that there’s a pattern in which well-connected people with no special relevant skills collect gigantic paychecks because of who they know. It’s legal. It’s routine. Mostly, it’s Republicans, but some Democrats do it too. And I don’t blame voters for thinking the whole thing stinks, because it does.

The Obama administration understood that, which is why some officials were uncomfortable with Hunter Biden’s activities back in 2014. From The New Yorker:

Several former officials in the Obama Administration and at the State Department insisted that Hunter’s role at Burisma had no effect on his father’s policies in Ukraine, but said that, nevertheless, Hunter should not have taken the board seat. As the former senior White House aide put it, there was a perception that “Hunter was on the loose, potentially undermining his father’s message.” The same aide said that Hunter should have recognized that at least some of his foreign business partners were motivated to work with him because they wanted “to be able to say that they are affiliated with Biden.” A former business associate said, “The appearance of a conflict of interest is good enough, at this level of politics, to keep you from doing things like that.”

The article was published July 1 and is entitled: “Will Hunter Biden Jeopardize His Father’s Campaign?” It’s a good article, IMO, and sympathetic. But it also underscores that the Bidens knew what was coming while gearing up for a run against the most corrupt person to ever occupy the Oval Office.

The Republicans are overwhelmingly corrupt, so it’s not fair that “optics” are held against Democrats while Trump openly loots the Treasury. It sucks that the media pirouettes from a shocking abuse of power by Trump to debunked claims about Biden in the same breath. But the double standard is nothing new, and whoever the nominee is, Trump’s campaign will use “both sides” plus obfuscation as a wedge to persuade millions of eligible voters who didn’t bother to show up in 2016 to stay home in 2020 too.

So, what can we do about this shit show? I think we need to go on offense, and the most effective theme of that offense — the issue the Trump administration is crying out to be clobbered with, repeatedly, is anti-corruption. We could start by opening impeachment hearings on Monday. Not an impeachment vote — formal impeachment hearings with full subpoena power.

Go at Trump and everyone associated with him hard on the blatant corruption, abuse of power and obstruction of justice in this target-rich environment. Take every subpoena-flouter to court and hold them in contempt. (Some of this work has already begun, but it’s time to formalize it, publicize it and ramp it up.) When Trump toadies deign to show up or are forced by the courts to appear, get that Burke fellow back to do the questioning instead of letting the members alternate bloviations.

Democrats should relentlessly focus on Trump and his sleazy administration’s corruption in hearings and in the media too. They should learn not to answer media questions posed in Republican framing. When reporters ask about Hunter Biden, ask why Trump passed over the legal successor to former DNI Dan Coats and put a hack in that important job so he could illegally withhold a whistleblower complaint.

When asked about the Department of Justice, ask why William Barr’s father hired known degenerate college dropout Jeffrey Epstein to teach at a fancy prep school, and follow up by asking why Barr lied about the contents of the Mueller report and why he’s interfering in the DNI whistleblower case. In a thousand ways, go on OFFENSE instead of allowing the sleazy prick in the White House and his propaganda outlets to paint the Democratic Party’s current frontrunner as yet another corrupt pol.

It’s a leap of faith, impeachment hearings, because once they begin, they have to end one way or another, and we know the Senate won’t convict. There aren’t currently enough members in the House who’ve indicated they’d vote to impeach, but that’s okay because the purpose of the hearings is to establish evidence of the crimes.

We have to be confident the weight of the evidence will be sufficient to move a sufficient number of Democrats to vote to impeach, and my God, aren’t we confident of that? Air every bit of that dirty laundry in public and hang it around Republicans’ necks at every opportunity.

Another offensive play should include a renewed, party-wide pledge to be the anti-corruption party, the party of honest government. The Obama administration set the gold standard in modern times on this score — not a single indictment in eight years. Obama administration officials worried about how Hunter Biden’s perfectly legal activities looked because, in the Obama administration, appearances mattered because they matter to the public, and they drive the press, at least when a Democrat has questionable “optics.”

As a party, we should aspire to be that sensitive to public confidence in the integrity of government again at every level. And we should go even further by codifying what have been informal agreements on what is and is not kosher, an honor system Trump and company have trampled. Elizabeth Warren’s Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act is a good starting point, regardless of who is the nominee.

Any of our candidates could run on an anti-corruption platform that promises to address the white collar crime wave. Klobuchar, Harris or Warren would be especially well suited, but Biden could pull it off too. He was a key figure in a squeaky clean administration, and he could even turn the baggage from his long career as “Senator from MBNA” into an asset if he fully embraces the issue now. If sleazy, corrupt slimeball Trump could sell “Drain the Swamp,” Joe Biden could sell a campaign to restore public trust in democracy by driving out the swamp monsters in the the most scandal-laden administration in history.

I know there’s a lot of skepticism and distrust about what role the media would play in all of this — impeachment hearings, the campaign, etc. — and it’s justified. But we have to work with the media we have, and we can manipulate them as effectively as Trump does if we make a fucking show out of this thing.

Mainstream media outlets hunt eyeballs, not truth. Well, give them eyeballs AND truth. Make shocking claims about the venality, corruption and criminality of this administration and its Republican enablers, because right now, the truth is pretty goddamned shocking.

Maybe the media will ignore it. Maybe no one will care. Maybe this is just the way things are. If so, we might as well find that out right now. Our democracy can’t survive a complete collapse of public confidence in government and with it, the consent of the governed to abide by a set of rules that only apply to certain people.

It’s not just the right thing to do; it’s an opportunity to truly change things. It’s a unique moment in history to reverse the tide, with the perfect avatar of greed, corruption and amorality sitting in the Oval Office with his entire crooked and spineless political party supine before him. But the time is now, and we have to summon the courage to take that chance.

Okay, if you stuck around for all of this, you deserve a reward, and here it is:

The end.

135 replies
  1. 1
    debbie says:

    Betty, Trump cannot both-sides business practices. Let him try, and then let loose the thousands of people he has wronged.

    Happily, he’s not smart enough to know this. His gut will mislead him.

  2. 2
    Baud says:

    Okay, if you stuck around for all of this, you deserve a reward, and here it is:

    doctor doolittle is *the worst*, yet it contains cinema's greatest minute— Neely O'Horror (@_katiestebbins_) September 17, 2019


  3. 3
    Jerzy Russian says:

    Great piece, but the formatting of my reward is messed up.

  4. 4
    WaterGirl says:

    Betty, I could read your post 10 times and not get tired of reading it. We need to do exactly what you have suggested.

  5. 5
    Amir Khalid says:

    What’sall that in the last para?

  6. 6
    Chyron HR says:

    Mainstream media outlets hunt eyeballs

    No. Stop that. The reason Fox News, Sinclair and the NYT are a perpetual pukefunnel of Republican propaganda is not because it “gets views”.

  7. 7
    BGinCHI says:

    Excellent post, BC.

    Spot on: anti-corruption is what’s most needed now, as it touches on every major issue plaguing this country (inequality, environment, racism).

    Warren is its champion and I hope like hell she prevails.

  8. 8
    WaterGirl says:

    @BGinCHI: So good to see you here!

    (Of course, it may be you who have been here and I who have not.)

  9. 9
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Jerzy Russian: I fixed it. Stupid WordPress!

    @Chyron HR: There are wingnut propaganda outlets (Fox News and Sinclair among them), and there are mainstream media outlets. I’m referring to the latter. If you don’t agree their coverage and motivations are different, we’ll have to agree to disagree on that.

  10. 10
  11. 11
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    The vile vermin of the Village have their both sides do it narrative to keep going. They’ll overlook Donald’s crimes in a desperate attempt to equalize things.

  12. 12
    BGinCHI says:

    @WaterGirl: And you! How are you??

  13. 13
    MattF says:

    I think there’s also a WTF factor with Trump. We’ve gotten accustomed to it, but here’s a report from someone new to the game.

  14. 14
    WaterGirl says:

    @BGinCHI: I am well, thank you! Hard at work on the new website and enjoying the short break from the summer heat and humidity.

  15. 15
    WaterGirl says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: We still have to try. If we don’t try, we have already lost.

  16. 16

    @Chyron HR:

    The reason Fox News, Sinclair and the NYT are a perpetual pukefunnel of Republican propaganda is not because it “gets views”.

    So much this. “It gets views” is their excuse, but they always adopt Republican framing because their management is Republican.

  17. 17
    WaterGirl says:

    @BGinCHI: Are you writing another book, by any chance?

    I do miss you and your ability to get a good open thread going with a single literature related comment from you.

  18. 18
    BGinCHI says:

    @WaterGirl: Glad to hear it. Summer went by too fast, though fall is always a solid compensation for it.

    Will try to get over here and off twitter as the election and primaries heat up.

  19. 19
    James E Powell says:

    Mainstream media outlets hunt eyeballs, not truth. Well, give them eyeballs AND truth. Make shocking claims about the venality, corruption and criminality of this administration and its Republican enablers, because right now, the truth is pretty goddamned shocking.

    If only the Democrats had the ability to bring testimony to a public forum to explain to the public the gravity of the situation.

  20. 20
    BGinCHI says:

    @WaterGirl: Novel #2 is with my agent, but in a drawer for now (long story). Novel #3 almost finished, after a furious summer of trying to get it to behave. It’s a historical murder mystery (starring Walt Whitman, among others…), and it’s really difficult to get right.

    Anyone who writes a twisty mystery or thriller has really accomplished something, I’ll tell you that.

    Should be finished this winter if I can claw back the time.

    Thanks for asking. I’ll try to pop over here and boss everyone around about books & films.

  21. 21
    Ramiah Ariya says:

    You have to suspect that Ken Vogel or Politico are adopting this framing because they are likely supportive of Trump. It is not for eyeballs or anything – they are merely sent out to deflect the issue and help Trump move on.It appears they will succeed.

  22. 22
    BGinCHI says:

    @Ramiah Ariya: Brings to mind Josh Marshall’s “DC is wired for Republicans” argument, which has been severely tested by Trump and is proving durable.

  23. 23

    Lee Fang, who is an idiot, had a piece the other day at The Intercept, which is on average 65% not to be trusted. However! Hunter is on the board of a Chinese company that makes social media apps that are a front for facial-recognition surveillance. That’s not a great look. The kid is gonna he trouble for the campaign.

    I was misreading, ignore me, sorry

  24. 24
    Baud says:

    He was a key figure in a squeaky clean administration,

    I’m pretty sure I heard on internet that the Obama administration was plenty corrupt.

  25. 25
    dnfree says:

    I absolutely agree with the observations about the “scions” of the powerful. My kids somehow went out and found jobs on their own—why couldn’t Biden’s son? Why couldn’t Chelsea Clinton or Jenna Bush? Even Obama’s daughter has had internships with other powerful people. It’s not good for the kids and it’s not good for the country. It’s not good for appearances and it’s not good for the perception that politicians use their influence for their friends and family, not the unconnected masses.

  26. 26
    Baud says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    Are we really going to start punishing our leaders for their adult children’s actions?

    I’m all for caring about optics, but the larger problem is that we act defenseless when people impose their optical standards upon us.

  27. 27
    BGinCHI says:

    @Baud: Tan suits, feet on the desk, dancing in public, mouthy wife, apologizing to our enemies….

    I mean, the guy was a monster, OK?

  28. 28
    Baud says:


    Sold out to insurance companies and didn’t even try for single payer.

    It’s not just the frivolous stuff.

  29. 29
    aj says:

    Awesome post. Well argued. Thank you.

  30. 30
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Trump and Co’s actions here are very rapidly eroding what influence the US had in Ukraine.

  31. 31
    BGinCHI says:

    @dnfree: Nepotism is corruption.

    Of course the Free Marketeers can’t be bothered to think about that.

  32. 32
    Ramiah Ariya says:

    The problem, I think, in Betty’s suggestion of turning to anti-corruption is that Fox News and Trumpists in the mainstream media are going to match you scandal for scandal – their scandals will be fake, but they have long realized that these things do not have to be true really. The “independents” are going to be turned off by all this corruption talk and there will be complaints about “Washington” corruption.
    The power of Fox News is significant, I think, in these scenarios.

  33. 33
    BGinCHI says:

    @Baud: You mean Rahm was corrupt.

    That’s a different conversation.

  34. 34
    Baud says:

    We should grow our politicians in test tubes to remove all doubt about family connections.

  35. 35
    BGinCHI says:

    @Ramiah Ariya: This, exactly.

    It was a big tell when Drain the Swamp was their mantra, since it clearly meant the opposite so they could profit off a thriving wetlands of corruption.

  36. 36
    Kelly says:

    @Baud: It’s just science!

  37. 37

    Edit nm I was misreading. Hunter is on the board of the holding company that has that investment. That’s not a scandal, carry on

  38. 38
    MisterForkbeard says:

    I’m actually somewhat cheered by Biden’s conduct here. He had a good ad out yesterday and shot down a Fox reporter this morning with a really good “I did nothing and you know it but you’re ignoring all the looting Trump is doing is out in the open. Ask him about corruption.” response.

    I mangled it a bit, but our Dem candidates are learning how to deal with this stuff.

  39. 39

    There’s the number again…

    A combined 69 percent of registered voters say they don’t like Trump personally, regardless of their feelings about his policy agenda. A record 50 percent say they dislike him personally and dislike his policies, while another 19 percent say that they dislike him but approve of his policies. Just 29 percent say they like Trump personally, with 25 percent saying they also approve of his policy agenda* and 4 percent saying they disapprove.

    On this measure, the high degree of personal dislike for Trump differentiates him from his five most recent predecessors. Majorities of voters said they personally liked Obama, Clinton, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan, even though they might disagree vigorously with their political agenda. In fact, prior to Trump’s presidency, the highest share of voters saying they disliked the president personally — regardless of their views on his policies — was 42 percent for George W. Bush in March 2006, after Hurricane Katrina.

    *OK, so I’m averaging between the two numbers. Margin of error and all that.

  40. 40
    debbie says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    And that’s how it starts… . ;p

  41. 41
    Kelly says:

    I need my glasses to watch the newz

  42. 42
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @MisterForkbeard: This is the upside of Biden. He is an old fashioned pol, but part of that is a willingness to punch and counterpunch when necessary.

  43. 43
    patrick II says:

    It is just so discouraging to see people as well informed as Betty and this commentariat get the basics of this story exactly backwards. You are taking the “other side” of Biden threatening withholding funds because Biden was worried about an investigation into Burisma Holdings by General Prosecutor by Viktor Shokin. Nor does it make any sense to argue that

    NATO allies took the same “tough love” approach, and they weren’t doing it to protect Hunter Biden. .

    NATO allies would not want to stop an investigation into a crooked Ukranian company, especially to the point of wanting to fire the Ukrainian Prosecuting General.

    The exact opposite is true. President Obama and his State Department wanted the guy gone (not just Joe Biden, he was just the frontman. His tough guy bragging makes this worse) because he was not investigating corruption, including Burisma Holdings. Sorkin was not investigating them because he was part of the corruption. That’s why the western alliance, who wanted Ukraine to move away from their recent tradition of Soviet-style corruption wanted Sorkin gone. Not, not, not to protect Hunter Biden, who would in fact be put in some peril (however slight) by removing a prosecutor too corrupt to investigate the company he was working for.
    The opposite story, that Joe was stopping an investigation to protect Hunter, is Russian Kompromat picked up by Trump and Giuliani, and now we are taking it as the basic, underlying fact of this scandal. It is not. It is a lie. We are arguing the wrong thing. It’s driving me nuts how effective this is.

    Read this story at LGM for a more authoratative statement of these facts.
    Ken Vogel: Hack Reporter on the Make

    The underlying fact of the story as now commonly told makes no sense. NATO and Obama would not fight to protect a prosecutor who is corrupt himself and does not investigate corruption, but they would fight to remove a corrupt prosecutor who was harming the ability to deal with Ukraine business honestly. The west wanted investigations to proceed, not to stop them.

  44. 44
    WaterGirl says:

    @BGinCHI: Wishing you much success as you finish Novel #3; it sounds intriguing. Seems like stories can sometimes behave like teenagers with a mind of their own.

    I eagerly await you dropping in to talk books and films!

  45. 45

    @debbie: I went to Wikipedia to confirm it was a nothingburger but accidentally skipped a sentence between “on the board of” and “a company that makes apps to…” 😞

  46. 46
    Baud says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    This is the upside of Biden. He is an old fashioned pol, but part of that is a willingness to punch and counterpunch when necessary.

    The larger upside to Biden is that he has the same older white male status that Heartland white people like so when he punches back at Trump, he’s not seen as reaching beyond his station. It’s open question whether Warren (or others) can pull that off.

  47. 47
    Baud says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    Too late. It’s out there. The NYT has a journalistic duty to cover it.

  48. 48
    waspuppet says:

    @debbie: Trump doesn’t both-sides anything. The Ken Vogels and Chuck Todds of the world do.

    And the Democratic leaders still don’t seem to realize what could still happen here. This could totally turn into “Biden-Ukraine” with “Trump extorted a foreign country into helping him win an election” as a minor footnote. Despite the fact that, as with “her emails,” “Benghazi” etc., no one could actually say in complete sentences what was done wrong. Our leaders think if they don’t make it a story it won’t be any kind of story. They’re forgetting that Republicans will do literally anything, including selling out for foreign adversaries and starting wars in which Americans die, to avoid talking about how running the country on Republican principles has actually worked out for people who weren’t born rich. And Our Media Stars will actively help them do that.

  49. 49
    zhena gogolia says:

    @patrick II:

    I thought it was Shokin.

  50. 50
    zhena gogolia says:

    That Doctor Doolittle clip is just . . . oh my God.

  51. 51
    patrick II says:

    @patrick II:

    That last paragraph should read:
    The underlying fact of the story as now commonly told makes no sense. NATO and Obama would not fight to protect a prosecutor who is not corrupt himself and investigates corruption, but they would fight to remove a corrupt prosecutor who was harming the ability to deal with Ukraine business honestly. The West wanted investigations to proceed, not to stop them.

    I wish I was a better writer.

  52. 52
    patrick II says:

    @zhena gogolia:

    It is Shokin. Damn it. I am old and my mind substitutes “close enough” words. Sorry.

    Just think of me as the commentariat’s Joe Biden.

  53. 53
    WaterGirl says:

    @patrick II: Don’t be so hard on yourself. We all make mistakes like that.

    When I write about something I am particularly passionate about – when I want my writing to be at its best – that is typically when I make the most errors.

  54. 54
    debbie says:

    @zhena gogolia:

    It reminded me of the long-ago Masterpiece Theater episode of Therese Raquin, where the guy tosses the cat out of the window. This was well before PETA, but WNYC got lots of complaints. The actual depiction was pretty shocking.

  55. 55
    p.a. says:

    Apart from this one issue, for a max offensive every Dem to step in front of a microphone, from Pres aspirants down the ranks to school committee, should use some form of ‘mentally disabled/dementia suffering… etc Donald Trump’ when speaking of the vermin. It will drive him kray-kray, much more than any corruptard insult. The resulting tweetstorms will further erode his support. (Anyone supporting him at this point should be written off as a vote-switcher. The aim now is just to keep them home election day)

  56. 56
    Baud says:


    So call off the BJ Banning Committee meeting?

  57. 57
    debbie says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    I do that all the time. If I could only learn that my skimming skills suck, I’d be a lot happier.

  58. 58
    Baud says:

    House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff said House Democrats may have to impeach President Trump following allegations that he pressured Ukraine to investigate a political adversary, a change in tone for the senior Democrat who has long been cautious about efforts to oust the president.

  59. 59
    Millard Filmore says:

    @Ramiah Ariya:

    going to match you scandal for scandal – their scandals will be fake, but they have long realized that these things do not have to be true really.

    I suggest going after the baby snatching and child torture at the southern border. There are things about Republicans that I can accept, ignore, overlook, dislike, etc. The child separation and abuse of ICE is unforgivable. It is a simple issue to explain and there is plenty of evidence. The morality is clear. After World War II the allies executed people for things like that.

    There is no Both Sides for what they are doing.

  60. 60
    patrick II says:


    Thanks. That is appreciated. It is very frustrating at times. I need time to edit, but comments in the conversational milieu of a comment thread need to be timely. So, I am stuck. I should blame it on WordPress.

  61. 61
  62. 62
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Millard Filmore: Child separation and jailing is something they’ve already bothsides’d. Did you now that Obama was the one that started it?

    This is one of those “Obama did this very rarely and only with very good reason, as opposed to Trump who basically did it for fun” things, but Republicans have already internalized that It’s Obama’s Fault, and the media is reluctant to contradict them.

  63. 63
    jc says:

    I won’t be surprised if Trump succeeds in doing to Biden what he did to the other ‘R’ candidates in 2016 and to HRC. Smear, rinse, repeat. The solution is obvious: nominate E. Warren.

  64. 64
    WaterGirl says:

    @Baud: Well, at least postpone it! :-)

  65. 65
    Jeffro says:

    Way, way too much talking.

    Here’s the short version: I’m good with starting impeachment proceedings tomorrow morning, and so is more than half the country. Let’s GO, Dems.

  66. 66
    zhena gogolia says:

    @patrick II:

    It’s okay! We all do it.

    ETA: I’m the name police around here.

  67. 67
    Kay says:

    This is a wonderful idea Betty – very hopeful!

  68. 68
    Gretchen says:

    @jc: BernieBros are already going after Warren because her daughter worked for a health insurer.

  69. 69
    Baud says:


    I’m telling you. Test tubes. It’s the only way.

  70. 70
    Brachiator says:

    Just wanted to briefly add to the praise for Betty’s post.

    One thing, though. Trump supporters claimed to want to “drain the swamp.” But they never particularly wanted an honest government. They just wanted any opposition to their demands out of the way. For example, they hate all undocumented immigrants, so they were upset with pro-business conservatives who favor guest worker programs.

    These people either deny Trump’s corruption or blindly accept it because they think it gets the job done.

    It’s going to be a tough battle to get rid of Trump and the hack GOP, but it is absolutely necessary.

  71. 71
    Millard Filmore says:


    Child separation and jailing is something they’ve already bothsides’d. Did you know that Obama was the one that started it?

    Obama’s ICE did not tell the kids “your father ran away because he does not love you anymore.” Obama’s ICE did not stuff kids in icy cages, without showers or soap, and no clean clothes or diapers.

    Obama’s immigration judges did not ask toddlers “do you know what a lawyer is?”

    There is a lot of material to work with that CANNOT be spun as Both Sides.

  72. 72
    patrick II says:


    It is hard for your kid not to work for a corrupt business nowadays. Maybe Ben and Jerry’s? You would think Warren would get points for her policies without regard for the interests of her daughter’s company (as Biden worked against the interest of his son’s). But that is not what is going to happen.

  73. 73
    Matt McIrvin says:


    I won’t be surprised if Trump succeeds in doing to Biden what he did to the other ‘R’ candidates in 2016 and to HRC. Smear, rinse, repeat. The solution is obvious: nominate E. Warren.

    I support Warren and personally dislike Biden, but this is a trap. We should give NO space to this as a reason to oppose Biden; that legitimates Trump’s corruption even if we give zero credence to his actual claims.
    Trump could smear Warren as easily, and in more or less the same way (the DNA/ancestry stuff is her tailor-made clouds-and-shadows issue). Same with any of the other candidates. They’re all human beings, so they’ve all got something for a bad-faith attacker to latch onto. The idea that Biden is somehow uniquely vulnerable is a delusion.

  74. 74
    Baud says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    Thank you. Agree completely.

  75. 75
    Anya says:

    I don’t get how Trump and the Trumpites are a good massager on conflict of interest and corruption? Trump’s evil spawns are engaged in business with foreign governments. Ivanka Trump’s brand received several trademarks from China since her dad became president. How is anyone taking these assholes seriously? Why aren’t the reporters challenging them?

  76. 76
    waratah says:

    I thought I would look at some of the candidates on C Span from the steak fry. I watched all of Joe’s speech because I was wanting for his age to not show as bad as it does on the debates that are high pressure. He was not any better. I wish he had not run because I loved him as Vice President.

  77. 77
    Anya says:

    @Matt McIrvin: I absolutely agree with this. I think all the primary candidates should denounce Trump’s actions are rally around Biden. If we give an inch then that disgusting embarrassment will win again.

  78. 78
  79. 79
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Millard Filmore: Right – that’s all correct. What Obama’s administration was very, VERY different to what Trump’s did.

    But since Obama separated 5 kids for short periods of time, I know lots of republicans who claim that HE’S the one who’s at fault for Trump’s massive and intentionally cruel human rights abuses. Hell, even Trump says this. There’s room to fight back on this, but the other half is that a lot of Trump’s voters (like my in-laws) think that everything Trump does to immigrants is justified. There’s a lot of horrible people out there, and the media doesn’t want to lose their dollars… so they play along a bit.

  80. 80
  81. 81
    low-tech cyclist says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    I support Warren and personally dislike Biden, but this is a trap. We should give NO space to this as a reason to oppose Biden; that legitimates Trump’s corruption even if we give zero credence to his actual claims.

    Absolutely. All Dems need to stand with Joe on this, whether we think he’s suited to be the nominee or not.

    Whatever our differences among ourselves, we must stand together against bullshit attacks from the other side. The very idea that they can get Democratic support for their literally Trumped-up attacks, whether they’re against AOC or Dan Lipinski or anyone in between, should be repugnant to all Dems.

  82. 82
    FelonyGovt says:

    My Rep Ted Lieu is speaking up forcefully about Trump’s corruption. Problem is, unless you follow him on Twitter or are on his mailing list you’d never know it, because it never gets reported.

  83. 83
    waratah says:

    @Matt McIrvin: Beto tweeted Bidens statement yesterday and said Joes right we need to impeach him.
    Maybe some of the other candidates have as well

  84. 84
    Melusine says:

    Fuck AOC for this:

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
    At this point, the bigger national scandal isn’t the president’s lawbreaking behavior – it is the Democratic Party’s refusal to impeach him for it.

    The Republican party hasn’t launched a single investigation, issued a single condemnation, or done a single goddamned thing to check THEIR president’s rampant corruption and lawbreaking. Fuck them, fuck her, and fuck every purity pony-demanding motherfucker who helped put us in this situation in the first goddamned place. 😠

  85. 85
    Millard Filmore says:


  86. 86
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Okay, if you stuck around for all of this, you deserve a reward, and here it is:

    What the ever-loving blue-eyed fuck was that ?

  87. 87
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    @BGinCHI: I listened to a very interesting radio interview this afternoon on my way back from the hospital. It was with the author of “Thundergirls” (which I had not read). She related that when she wrote the book before it was published she was offered 50K (pounds) for the rights to it. This was when the author was living in a bed sit and basically broke. However they wanted to mess with the story and make the characters younger than they were in the book and she didn’t feel right about it. She put the book in a drawer and forgot about it. She then moved to journalism and became quite successful and bought some of Jackie Collins jewelry at an auction. She was wearing the jewelry at a function one night and a woman approached her (a medium) and told her that her jewelry had been owned by a very powerful woman. She then said to her “you have something in a drawer, she wants you to get it out”. And the rest as they say is history. The book was a bestseller. It was a fascinating interview.

  88. 88
    debbie says:

    @Millard Filmore:

    I still watch the reruns, and am very sorry to read this.

  89. 89
    Dan B says:

    @p.a.: It’s the truism that in irder to reach your target audience you have to repeat your point endlessly. And the “herding cats” Dems are offended by being told what the message should be, and, because of the academic tilt of most progressives, using the minimum of words. We’re rewarded for using the maximum in school and stringing together a compelling argument.

    I’m all for picking a few topics and hammering them in creative but similar ways. Corruption: Why did you not get that job / funding? Dementia: It’s shocking he can’t put together a sentence without a teleprompter. The GOP is protecting him. Why aren’t they getting him meducal help / evaluation? Ripping kids from their families: Traumatized families trying to escape hang gang violence/ hoping for safety in America. This country is great because we welcomed people who wanted to make a better life for their children, who sacrificed for their future.

    There will be “both sides” but that’s the way of bullies – He made me hit him. If you stay quiet you are viewed as weak, or guilty. Remember that the audience we need to reach is not the FOX zombies, it is the people who have not fallen completely down the rabbit hole. It is not the corporate media. They will report on how the floods and fires hurt both sides of the political spectrum.

  90. 90
    debbie says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    Agreed. Support Biden on this issue and demand Trump clean his own fucking house.

  91. 91
    Rihilism says:

    @p.a.: During the debates with Trump, the eventual Dem nominee should address Trump as “Failed Businessman, Donald Trump” every time he/she speaks. Deny him the honorific, “President”. If he protests, the Dem should bring up his bankruptcies. Attack his brand, that’ll really freak him out.

  92. 92
    BGinCHI says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Holy damn.

    Off to scour the local auction houses.

  93. 93
    trollhattan says:

    I’m fond of “so-called president.” Air quotes as necessary.

  94. 94
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @zhena gogolia:

    ETA: I’m the name police around here.

    Add DR DOLITTLE to the list.

  95. 95
    Lapassionara says:

    Thanks, Betty.

  96. 96
    dww44 says:

    @Baud: I too have noted the hardening of Schiff’s public statements vis-a-vis impeachment. Maybe, smart guy that he is, he sees that Democratic waffling is no longer playing so well out in the country. Maybe, too, he sees that our democracy must be more forcefully defended and the President held to account. And, it’s time to get past “counting the votes” as Congressional Dems’ overriding strategy.

  97. 97
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    We are all Quinta Jurecic

    Quinta Jurecic @ qjurecic
    The problem with this latest scandal is that I’ve already said everything I have to say (because we live in hell) and so the only option is to just say it again in a louder voice

    @zhena gogolia: if she becomes a BJ point of reference, you’ll probably have to add another name to the list

  98. 98
    dww44 says:

    @FelonyGovt: He’s on cable news quite a lot. Gets quite a bit more exposure than many of his Democratic peers.

  99. 99
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    Totally OT but how about this for complete idiocy. Britain’s oldest travel company Thomas Cook is on the verge of going under. They need 200m pounds to be able to consolidate their debts. They have 150K customers overseas on vacation right now and if they go under the British Government has determined that it will cost them (The UK Gov) 600m pounds to repatriate them. While I am no fan of bailing out private businesses would it not make sound economic sense to give Thomas Cook the 200m in order to save itself 400m? Am I missing something here?

  100. 100
    dww44 says:

    @Melusine:I don’t see AOC as a purity pony. She has a strongly different point of view. As a lifelong Dem of almost the same vintage as Pelosi, I applaud the AOC’s, the Katie Porters, the Ilhan Omars, the Ayanna Pressleys, and the Rashida Tlaibs. They are a breath of fresh air and have injected much energy into the Democratic caucus with good effect.

  101. 101
    EthylEster says:

    Frontpager wrote:

    But if you’re explaining, you’re losing.

    First I don’t accept that.
    Complicated things cannot be reduced to a sound byte.

    Second, your post contained A LOT of explaining.

  102. 102
    sdhays says:

    @dww44: I’m not an AOC detractor, but that quote does suck. It amounts to “Sure, ‘President’ Dump is wiping his ass with the original Constitution from the National Archives, but that pales in comparison to the Democrats failing to condemn his ass-wiping in the fashion I prefer.”

    I’m ready for a consolidated impeachment inquiry. I was ok with letting the committees do a slow build up before Labor Day, but it’s past Labor Day and the “so-called President’s” escalating lawlessness needs to be answered with the strongest rebuke available, even if it’s insufficient. But, please, the “scandals” are not on the Democratic side.

  103. 103
    Amir Khalid says:

    Over here, Malaysian Official One would never be on trial for the grandest embezzlement scheme ever if he hadn’t lost the general election last year — which broke his grip on the agency that investigates corruption in government, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, and on the prosecutors who reported to the Prime Minister i.e. him.

    You face a rather similar situation with Trump, it seems to me. So if beating Trump and the Republican party next year is what it takes to bring Trump to account, I’d be okay with that. I would not be so much in favour of impeachment before the elections next year, if all it achieved was giving McConnell the opportunity to effectively dismiss the charges against Trump.

    Oh by the way, Liverpool held on to beat Chelsea 2-1 in the Premier League, making it six wins in their first six matches for the maximum 18 points. Liverpool maintain their five-point lead over Manchester City, who thrashed Watford 8-0 yesterday. Manchester United lost 2-0 at West Ham, the only muggle football team supported by a Harry Potter character. Arsenal, came back from a goal down to Aston Villa and one man short (he was sent off) to win 3-2.

  104. 104
    Baud says:


    She good but her hyperbole here is objectively false. Trump is always the bigger scandal.

  105. 105
    zhena gogolia says:


    Come sit by me.

  106. 106
    cain says:

    What Ive been advocating is that we start hiring experts in reality tv, and start building the impeachment show. You can’t do this by any other means. All candidates need to pool their money, as well as the DNC into building this because everyone is going to be attacked and since our press is wired for Republicans we need to make it such that the profits are more covering Democrats and their messaging. Make themselves available at cocktail parties or whatever those things are in D.C.

    We can’t be acting like policy wonks and nerds. We need a different approach. Give the press the show they want.

  107. 107
    Kent says:


    I absolutely agree with the observations about the “scions” of the powerful. My kids somehow went out and found jobs on their own—why couldn’t Biden’s son? Why couldn’t Chelsea Clinton or Jenna Bush? Even Obama’s daughter has had internships with other powerful people. It’s not good for the kids and it’s not good for the country. It’s not good for appearances and it’s not good for the perception that politicians use their influence for their friends and family, not the unconnected masses.

    There is no possible way for someone like Malia Obama to achieve sucess entirely on her own. She simply can’t do the normal stuff other college students do. It’s like dating when you are ultra rich and famous. And in any event, as long as they aren’t doing corrupt things for foreign dictators or any of the endlessly corrupt and vile things that the Trump spawn are doing, I really don’t care. It’s no skin off my nose that Malia Obama gets introductions that my daughter who is the same age would never get.

    But I agree with this post entirely. We need to be about 100x better about screaming to the rafters when corruption is slapping us in the face.

  108. 108
    zhena gogolia says:



  109. 109
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: I’d do this:

    1. Give the 200m pounds.
    2. Nationalize the company.
    3. Shut it down overtime or sell it once you have it working properly.

  110. 110
    Jinchi says:


    I won’t be surprised if Trump succeeds in doing to Biden what he did to the other ‘R’ candidates in 2016 and to HRC.

    Trump succeeded against the other Republicans because he was the epitome of the “Screw You I’ve got Mine” mentality that has dominated the Republican party for the last 20 years.

    He only barely succeeded against Clinton with foreign government interference, a critically timed accusation of corruption by Jim Comey, and a media narrative that had effectively demonized her for 2 decades.

    On top of that, Trump was essentially a blank slate for voters to project their expectations on. That’s how we got the ridiculous narrative that the money obsessed, narcisistic “billionaire”, who literally lives in a gold plated NYC penthouse, is a populist man of the people fighting against the elite.

    We all know who he really is now.

  111. 111
    CCL says:

    I’m fond of “so-called president.” Air quotes as necessary.

    I like Bankrupt Donnie.

  112. 112
    cain says:

    @Roger Moore:
    All of the management are. Even NPR.

    Not sure what to do about it. I would love to see us break up media monopolies. It was.. Clinton administration that allowed this right or was with subsequent administration? For some reason my memory is fuzzy on this. But we definitely need to break up media holding companies like Sinclair.

  113. 113
    cain says:

    If I was their child, I would not turn down any opportunities to help influence the world – and make it a better place. I’m fairly sure that’s what the parents and children think. The motivations will likely be different for Republicans but certainly for the Obamas it would be in that vein. I can’t imagine Michelle putting up with any kind of corrupt behavior.

  114. 114
    cain says:

    Won’t they just connect with other test tube babies or try to reach out to the contributors of their DNA?

  115. 115
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Amir Khalid:
    I should add that the football punditry this week will all be chewing over (again) whether Man United’s legendary striker and current manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is up to the job he has now. Given the illustrious managers who have failed at it before him, I suspect they should really be asking if that job is doable at all.

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  117. 117
    Quinerly says:

    @Anya: I thought this was a good TPM piece from a couple of days ago:

  118. 118
    Ruckus says:

    Had a whole long thing on nepotism but it got out of hand.
    People who are given everything, and then more tend to be full of what they are given – shit. People who give their kids everything, and then more are bad parents. Because they almost never give them the gift of independent thought, the kids don’t learn the same lesson that their parents didn’t learn. That money is there to facilitate trade, to give a method of trade that doesn’t require chicken cages, or even raising chickens in the first place. What it isn’t is a measure of excellence. What it becomes is a measure of avarice.

  119. 119
    Brachiator says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: I don’t quite understand the need for the 600 million. From a BBC news story.

    If you are on a package holiday you are covered by the Air Travel Organiser’s Licence scheme (Atol).

    The scheme will pay for your accommodation abroad, although you may have to move to a different hotel or apartment.

    Atol will also pay to have you brought home if the airline is no longer operating.

    If you have holiday booked in the future you will also be refunded by the scheme.

    If you have booked a flight-only deal you will need to apply to your travel insurance company or credit card and debit card provider to seek a refund.

    When Monarch Airlines collapsed in 2017, the government organised to bring home all the stranded passengers, whether they were covered by Atol or not.

    I can understand the government helping stranded travellers, but bailing out the company would be a bad deal.

    Unfortunately, it looks like the UK economy will suffer when Thomas finally goes under. Hotels and tourism related companies will take a big hit.

  120. 120
    Amir Khalid says:

    I can’t see BoJo’s government lending the money or nationalising Thos. Cook. I do expect them to dither until no option is left but paying three times as much to bring home thousands of stranded Britons.

  121. 121
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Amir Khalid: Right. BoJo isn’t what I’d call competent.

  122. 122
    debbie says:


    That’s what I thought when I first heard about this. Just make sure it’s structured so the country gets paid back.

  123. 123
    debbie says:


    It’s like she always says one sentence too many. If she’d just have stopped before that last sentence, I could cheer her on. But that last sentence…

  124. 124
    FlipYrWhig says:


    BernieBros are already going after Warren because her daughter worked for a health insurer.

    Of course Sanders’s unqualified wife was made the president of a struggling college in what looks like an obvious attempt to curry favor with that state’s senator, botched the job in part by affiliating the school with a different school run by her daughter, and left in humiliating fashion. Fuck them all.

  125. 125
    Betty Cracker says:

    @patrick II: That’s not what I said.

  126. 126
    cain says:

    Democratic party pols generally play defensive because being on the attack is unseemly by.. gateway media folks – which leads to nitpicking and tsk tsking. They are always expected to be the adults in the room.. literally both media and Republicans depend on the Democratic to save their asses repeatedly – which they do. But they never get support it seems.

    Basically, America is Lucy and Democratic party is charlie brown and the football is being elected.

  127. 127
    Citizen Alan says:


    One would think that the logical thing to do would be to nationalize the company, but that would be socialism, and socialism makes baby Jesus cry.

  128. 128
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Citizen Alan:

    socialism makes baby Jesus cry.

    By some accounts, baby Jesus was a bit of a trickster, but not an anti-socialist:
    Infancy Gospel of Thomas

  129. 129
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Millard Filmore: NOOOOOOOOO! He was my favorite Ferengi! Way too young!

  130. 130

    I think this is a very good piece on this matter, one of the best I have seen.


  131. 131
    joel hanes says:


    Maybe it’s getting close enough to the 2020 election that it’s time to start moving, instead of too early to start moving.

  132. 132
    joel hanes says:


    I applaud

    I’m with you on this, all the way.
    Rhetorical bravery and slashing repartee are important weapons, and the Dems you name have them.
    I would note also Ted Lieu and Adam Schiff.

  133. 133
    blindyone says:

    I’m a regular reader (lurker) here. Appreciate most of the frontpage articles and comments I read here. This is an excellent response to the current situation we have to deal with.

  134. 134
    Melusine says:

    @dww44: I have no problem with bringing fresh views into the party – it’s a necessity. I do have a major problem with liberals/progressives who insist on equating the failure/delay in making a purely symbolic gesture (because it’s not going to remove trump from office or change his behavior in any way) with ACTUAL crimes and actual collusion with those crimes, since the Republicans could actually join Dems to slam him with actual consequences/removal from office. They are not the same, at all, let alone worse. Every Dem should be slamming the GOP at every opportunity for their complete and utter moral failure and complicity with trump’s crimes.

    Instead of shitting on fellow Democrats, she could be encouraging citizens to, you know, maybe express some fucking enthusiasm for impeachment to their reps and build the sense of popular support? Cause I’m not seeing a whole lot of outrage or motivation to DO anything among non-politically wonky voters yet. Or maybe call out specific Democrats and encourage their red state constituents to call them? But trashing the whole party when plenty of them do want to start hearings, or are trying to figure the best time to start because voters have short memories, is bullshit.

    I know she’s intelligent and has a lot to offer, and I expect better of HER.

  135. 135
    Melusine says:

    @zhena gogolia: I’ll bring the Southern Comfort and truffles!

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