Never Let Your Opponent Set The Terms Of Debate

Last night, I told a friend that Elizabeth Warren’s DNA test was a strategic mistake. I haven’t wanted to say much about it, because I didn’t want to add fuel to the fire. But Democrats and others opposing Donald Trump have to get strategically smarter.

Never let your opponent set the terms of debate.

Never let your opponent set the terms of debate.

Never let your opponent set the terms of debate.

Apparently the lie about Warren’s using Native American heritage started in an earlier race. But Trump added the “Pocahontas” part, an obvious racial slur. He also added a challenge that he would pay $1 million dollars to a charity of Warren’s choice if she would take a DNA test.

Probably the way Warren’s people thought about this was: Take the DNA test, demand the $1 million, show Trump to be a piker.

WRONG

 

History shows that Trump is a piker. The $1 million challenge gives him an opportunity to continue the smear. And there was no way he would stop the “Pocahontas” thing in response to a DNA test. Negative commentary from Native Americans gave him more ammunition. All that was predictable.

Trump gets some things right, and his idea of hitting back hard is one of them. Warren should have, the first time Trump said “Pocahontas,” hit back hard by calling that for what it was.  RACISM. Say that her heritage, like everyone else’s, has nothing to do with her eligibility for office. Give the story of Pocahontas and show how the wrongs against her are perpetrated by Trump’s bigotry.

I don’t want to make a big thing out of this – we have more important points to make as we move toward the election. But please, please, Democrats get smart about this.

Never let your opponent set the terms of debate.

 



Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: Assassinating Journalist Not Perceived As Hoped by Saudi Arabia… or Donald Trump



Nicely Played, Senator Warren

Message from my favorite Senator, just as I was about to go to bed…

… I’m not afraid of the facts, so today we’re launching a new Fact Squad website for anyone who wants see the facts for themselves:

http://www.elizabethwarren.com/heritage

This new website has more than you’d ever want to know about the smears, made-up quotes, and invented stories thrown at me . It has personnel files. It has interviews with the people who hired me – and it has my own family members’ opinions about the attacks.

At that point, I could have quit, but I took the extra step and did a DNA test. One of the world’s leading geneticists did a full work up and concluded that it contains Native American ancestry.

The first Native American in our family that can be proved is generations back, and the geneticist says there could be others. No matter. It’s my family, and – like it or not Donald Trump – my family’s stories are supported by this test…

Pessimists will point out that there are not enough Native Americans in the existing databases to make granular statements, but hey: Senator Warren’s parents told her not just their truth, but the truth about her family history.

Donald Trump owes some charity a million bucks, and I’m sure we’ll see him make good on that public promise just as soon as the biogeneticists introduce their exciting line of flying pigs.



Did The Saudis Kill Jamal Khashoggi?

 

On Tuesday, October 2, Saudi journalist and activist Jamal Khashoggi went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to pick up paperwork for his upcoming wedding. He never came out alive.

Turkey says that they have recordings of his interrogation, torture, and murder by Saudis inside the consulate. Additionally, there is photographic evidence of a 15-man Saudi team arriving in Istanbul just before Khashoggi disappeared, including special forces officers, intelligence officials, and a forensics specialist. Turkey is now upping the pressure on Saudi Arabia.

A story has been floated that Khashoggi’s Apple watch picked up the audio and sent it to the cloud, which is where Turkey got it. But this is probably a cover story to allow Turkey to deny it has listening devices inside the Saudi consulate. Of course, every country bugs every other country’s consulates and embassies. Hard to see why the Turks are being so coy.

David Ignatius has written a long backgrounder on Khashoggi. Khashoggi was devoted to his country, Saudi Arabia. He took some big chances, including joining the Muslim Brotherhood when he was in his 20s, where he met Osama bin Laden. He grew to feel that bin Laden was moving in too radical a direction. He managed to maintain backing by prominent Saudis, which allowed him to continue his truth-telling journalism.

But now Mohammed bin Sultan (known as MBS) is now effectively ruler of Saudi Arabia. Ben Rhodes has written a backgrounder on MBS and US – Saudi relations. He has pursued a bloody war in Yemen to show his opposition to Iranian influence there. American backing for Saudi Arabia dates back to the 1950s, when the United States took over the United Kingdom’s role in the Middle East and Saudi oil was essential. Read more



Donald Trump, Tax Fraud, and His Fellow GOP Thieves/Enablers

Bess Levin, at Vanity Fair, “Republicans: If Dems Release Trump’s Tax Returns, No One Will Be Safe”:

Unsurprisingly, in the wake of the Times investigation, Democrats renewed their calls for transparency, with Representative Richard Neal telling The Wall Street Journal his party would use the authority of the Ways and Means Committee to commandeer a taxpayer’s records for confidential review—something that can be done without full approval from the House and Senate. And Republicans are having none of such talk. “This is dangerous,” an incensed Representative Kevin Brady tweeted… “Once Democrats abuse this law to make public @realDonaldTrump tax returns, what stops them from prying/making public YOUR tax returns for political reasons?” For good, fear monger-y measure, he concluded by hashtag-ing “#AbuseofPower” and “#EnemiesList.”

And, sure, Democrats could go after your tax returns for political reasons, but that would probably require you to be a sitting president who’s refused to release them on your own, and who’s been accused of “outright” tax fraud based on an investigation by The New York Times. If that describes you, you might have reason to worry! On the other hand, Congress has had this power for nearly 100 years and has not seen fit to “abuse” ordinary Americans with it it for political gain. One time it was used? In 1974, when Congress investigated Richard Nixon’s returns and determined that he was, in fact, a crook. But we’re sure that’s totally not what Brady & Co. are worried about here…

Professor Krugman, “Trump and the Aristocracy of Fraud”:

Until recently, my guess is that most economists, even tax experts, would have agreed that tax avoidance by corporations and the wealthy — which is legal — was a big issue, but tax evasion — hiding money from the tax man — was a lesser one. It was obvious that some rich people were exploiting legal if morally dubious loopholes in the tax code, but the prevailing view was that simply defrauding the tax authorities and hence the public wasn’t that widespread in advanced countries.

But this view always rested on shaky foundations. After all, tax evasion, almost by definition, doesn’t show up in official statistics, and the super-wealthy aren’t in the habit of mouthing off about what great tax cheats they are. To get a real picture of how much fraud is going on, you either have to do what The Times did — exhaustively investigate the finances of a particular family — or rely on lucky breaks that reveal what was previously hidden.

Two years ago, a huge lucky break came in the form of the Panama Papers, a trove of data leaked from a Panamanian law firm that specialized in helping people hide their wealth in offshore havens, and a smaller leak from HSBC. While the unsavory details revealed by these leaks made headlines right away, their true significance has only become clear with work done by Berkeley’s Gabriel Zucman and associates in cooperation with Scandinavian tax authorities.

Matching information from the Panama Papers and other leaks with national tax data, these researchers found that outright tax evasion actually is a big deal at the top. The truly wealthy end up paying a much lower effective tax rate than the merely rich, not because of loopholes in tax law, but because they break the law. The wealthiest taxpayers, the researchers found, pay on average 25 percent less than they owe — and, of course, many individuals pay even less.

This is a big number. If America’s wealthy evade taxes on the same scale (which they almost surely do), they’re probably costing the government around as much as the food stamp program does. And they’re also using tax evasion to entrench their privilege and pass it on to their heirs, which is the real Trump story.
Read more



#FacePalm Open Thread: Oval Office Occupant Gives Interview

… to journalistic ninja Olivia Nuzzi, who is young & attractive & must’ve seemed unthreatening. Should’ve checked her previous work, dudes!

NYMag really deserves all the kudos it’s gonna get for “My Private Oval Office Press Conference With Donald Trump, Mike Pence, John Kelly, and Mike Pompeo”

Around 12:20 p.m. on Tuesday, I was on my way out of the White House after a series of meetings in the West Wing. I was reporting on a question that has hung over this administration for months: How has Chief of Staff John Kelly managed to keep his job in spite of convincing and persistent rumors and reports that the president is unhappy with him, and he is unhappy in his job? I stopped to talk to another reporter, and then I began to walk toward the North Gate. As I walked, I noticed I had a missed call from a Washington number I didn’t recognize. It was Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. She sounded very serious. She asked me if I had left yet. When I said no, she asked me to come back inside, and when she greeted me, she looked very serious. She implied she wanted me to go with her behind a door. I didn’t understand, maybe didn’t quite hear her. Then, she told me Trump wanted to speak to me.

I walked to the Oval Office. I guessed that the president wanted to disabuse me of any notion that Kelly was about to be fired, or had almost been fired many times before. I was right, but my imagination was too limited. What ensued amounted to a private press conference — featuring a series of special guest stars from the highest echelon of the Trump administration — to try to get me to change my mind.

“I just heard that you were doing a story on … this stuff,” the president said as he came into the Oval Office and sat down at the Resolute Desk. I sat in a chair across from him. Next to me were Sanders and communications director Bill Shine.

“General Kelly’s doing a very good job,” Trump told me. “We have a very good relationship. The White House is running very, very smoothly. We’ve had a big week. We just got a Supreme Court justice on the bench. We have the USMCA, meaning the NAFTA replacement, and many other things. We had a great meeting with North Korea. It was a great meeting. The secretary of State’s coming just in ten minutes.”

He went on, “But I want to tell you a couple of things: the chief is doing a very good job. I’m very happy with him, we have a very good relationship, number one. Number two, I didn’t offer anybody else the job. I didn’t talk to anybody about the job. And I’m not, I’m not looking. Now, look, with time, do people leave? As an example, Nikki Haley told me six months ago, even a year ago — but six months ago, that, you know, she’s been governor, she’s done this, she’s helped us with the campaign, a lot of good things, and you probably saw the conference. It was a very, very positive thing. We have a very positive story going on at the White House. We have a very positive story for the country. We’re doing a great job. We have the greatest economy in the history of our country. We have among the greatest job numbers. Among many groups, we have the greatest job numbers. We have things going on that are phenomenal on trade. China wants to make a deal — I said, you’re not ready yet. But they wanna make a deal, and at some point we might. Iran wants to make a deal. They all wanna make a deal. We have great things going. We have a very smooth-running organization even though it’s never reported that way. So the real story is that. It’s really the real story. When you walk in here, you don’t see chaos. There is no chaos. The media likes to portray chaos. There’s no chaos. I’m leaving for Iowa in a little while. We’re doing something that’s going to be very exciting tonight in Iowa. A big, a big announcement, actually. Doing four rallies this week. I think the rallies have, frankly, built up our poll numbers very greatly. What am I now in Rasmussen? 52?”

The question was directed at Sanders, who confirmed the number. [Note: The Rasmussen poll had Trump at 51 percent.]

“Plus there’s 10 percent, they think, where people don’t respond, unfortunately. I’m not sure if this is nice or not nice, but when they don’t respond, that means it’s an automatic Trump vote. But it’s a 52,” Trump said, “and we’re doing very well in the polls. You see what’s happening with respect to the election, I mean, you know, to the midterms, even though — I know — historically, the president, you don’t tend to do so well in the midterms, but we have, this is a different presidency and this is the greatest economy ever. So, we’ll have to test that. But even the polls are saying that we have really come a long way in the last three weeks. I think we’re gonna do well. And that’s all I have to say. I want to just tell you that I’m very happy with General Kelly and I get along very well with him. We have a very good relationship. And if we didn’t, I wouldn’t stand for it for a minute, and he wouldn’t want it any other way. So it’s just a different narrative than what you were saying. And with that, you’re gonna have to write what you have to write, but the truth is, we have a really smooth-running White House and nothing and nobody has done more in their first two years as president. We’re not even up to the second year.”…

To repeat myself: If your grandpa started rambling like this in public, you’d take away his car keys and checkbook.



Lies and Projection Open Thread

USA Today has decided to become the print regime propaganda organ, to complement Fox News’s video. They have printed an “op-ed” from Donald Trump that contains about as much truth and accuracy as any of his campaign appearances. I don’t want to give them the clicks, since that’s obviously part of their motivation, so here it is.

Donald Trump: Democrats ‘Medicare for All’ plan will demolish promises to seniors
Donald J. Trump Published 3:15 a.m. ET Oct. 10, 2018

The Democrats want to outlaw private health care plans, taking away freedom to choose plans while letting anyone cross our border. We must win this.

Throughout the year, we have seen Democrats across the country uniting around a new legislative proposal that would end Medicare as we know it and take away benefits that seniors have paid for their entire lives.

Dishonestly called “Medicare for All,” the Democratic proposal would establish a government-run, single-payer health care system that eliminates all private and employer-based health care plans and would cost an astonishing $32.6 trillion during its first 10 years.

As a candidate, I promised that we would protect coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions and create new health care insurance options that would lower premiums. I have kept that promise, and we are now seeing health insurance premiums coming down.

I also made a solemn promise to our great seniors to protect Medicare. That is why I am fighting so hard against the Democrats’ plan that would eviscerate Medicare. Democrats have already harmed seniors by slashing Medicare by more than $800 billion over 10 years to pay for Obamacare. Likewise, Democrats would gut Medicare with their planned government takeover of American health care.

The Democrats’ plan threatens America’s seniors

The Democrats’ plan means that after a life of hard work and sacrifice, seniors would no longer be able to depend on the benefits they were promised. By eliminating Medicare as a program for seniors, and outlawing the ability of Americans to enroll in private and employer-based plans, the Democratic plan would inevitably lead to the massive rationing of health care. Doctors and hospitals would be put out of business. Seniors would lose access to their favorite doctors. There would be long wait lines for appointments and procedures. Previously covered care would effectively be denied.

In practice, the Democratic Party’s so-called Medicare for All would really be Medicare for None. Under the Democrats’ plan, today’s Medicare would be forced to die.

The Democrats’ plan also would mean the end of choice for seniors over their own health care decisions. Instead, Democrats would give total power and control over seniors’ health care decisions to the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.

The first thing the Democratic plan will do to end choice for seniors is eliminate Medicare Advantage plans for about 20 million seniors as well as eliminate other private health plans that seniors currently use to supplement their Medicare coverage.

Next, the Democrats would eliminate every American’s private and employer-based health plan. It is right there in their proposed legislation: Democrats outlaw private health plans that offer the same benefits as the government plan.

Americans might think that such an extreme, anti-senior, anti-choice and anti-consumer proposal for government-run health care would find little support among Democrats in Congress.

Unfortunately, they would be wrong: 123 Democrats in the House of Representatives — 64 percent of House Democrats — as well as 15 Democrats in the Senate have already formally co-sponsored this legislation. Democratic nominees for governor in Florida, California and Maryland are all campaigning in support of it, as are many Democratic congressional candidates.

Democrats want open-borders socialism

The truth is that the centrist Democratic Party is dead. The new Democrats are radical socialists who want to model America’s economy after Venezuela.

If Democrats win control of Congress this November, we will come dangerously closer to socialism in America. Government-run health care is just the beginning. Democrats are also pushing massive government control of education, private-sector businesses and other major sectors of the U.S. economy.

Every single citizen will be harmed by such a radical shift in American culture and life. Virtually everywhere it has been tried, socialism has brought suffering, misery and decay.

Indeed, the Democrats’ commitment to government-run health care is all the more menacing to our seniors and our economy when paired with some Democrats’ absolute commitment to end enforcement of our immigration laws by abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That means millions more would cross our borders illegally and take advantage of health care paid for by American taxpayers.

Today’s Democratic Party is for open-borders socialism. This radical agenda would destroy American prosperity. Under its vision, costs will spiral out of control. Taxes will skyrocket. And Democrats will seek to slash budgets for seniors’ Medicare, Social Security and defense.

Republicans believe that a Medicare program that was created for seniors and paid for by seniors their entire lives should always be protected and preserved. I am committed to resolutely defending Medicare and Social Security from the radical socialist plans of the Democrats. For the sake of our country, our prosperity, our seniors and all Americans — this is a fight we must win.

To respond to a column, submit a comment to letters@usatoday.com.

This is disgusting, and potentially very damaging. We need to make a stink about it.