Late Night Open Thread: The Trump / A$AP Rocky Conundrum

Normally I would have been relieved not to be required to have an opinion on rapper A$AP Rocky’s innocence or guilt. But I did wonder, as a very white person and an old one at that, if Trump’s indignant ‘appeals’ to the Swedish justice system went beyond You don’t understand our folkways! He’s a celebrity! He has money! Eugene Scott’s report at the Washington Post was illuminating:

A$AP Rocky, whose legal name is Rakim Mayers, has been accused of beating a man in the street on June 30 in central Stockholm.

In a video of the alleged assault, the rapper and those with him apparently threw a man to the ground before kicking and punching him.

Another video posted to A$AP Rocky’s Instagram account claims that the men followed him for four blocks and had repeatedly been asked to leave the artist alone…

Trump, a celebrity before he was a politician, appears to give more credence to the words of black musicians than he does black people working in policy and advocacy. He tweeted that he got involved with the effort to release A$AP Rocky after a request from Kanye West. Last year, he demonstrated his commitment to sentencing reform by commuting the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson after Kim Kardashian West advocated for that.

He views entertainers as the most influential voices in black America. That could be in part because Trump does not have a black person working in a senior position in his White House. Some of the people the president mentions most when addressing issues like criminal justice reform and the black unemployment rate are hip-hop artist Kanye West and conservative activist Candace Owens, supporters of the president with no expertise in these areas…
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Cold Grey Pre-Dawn Open Thread: Mueller’s Hearing — the Nut Graf(s)

The Washington Post has a complete transcript of the proceedings, including Adam Schiff’s opening statement:

Your report, for those who have taken the time to study it, is methodical and it is devastating, for it tells the story of a foreign adversary’s sweeping and systemic intervention in a close U.S. presidential election.

That should be enough to deserve the attention of every American, as you well point out. But your report tells another story as well. The story of the 2016 election is also a story about disloyalty to country, about greed, and about lies.

Your investigation determined that the Trump campaign, including Donald Trump himself, knew that a foreign power was intervening in our election and welcomed it, built Russian meddling into their strategy and used it…


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Cold Grey Pre-Dawn Open Thread: ForPol Thoughts That Keep Us From Our Rest


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Hey Democrats – How About Some Polling?

I would like to see more opinion polling on the issues the country faces. There are, of course, the inevitable polls on the horse race, but they tell us (and the politicians) little about the issues that are important to people and how they want their government to deal with them.

Our President continues to damage the country in a multitude of ways. The Republican Party stands by with its program of appointing conservative judges and passing tax cuts for the rich.

Impeachment – the bringing of charges against the President – must originate in the House. Hearings to support a vote of impeachment will take time, and it appears that there is not yet majority support in the House for impeachment. Nancy Pelosi has publicly favored waiting for the 2020 election rather than impeachment. There is some sense to that stand, but Donald Trump is damaging the country right now.

What can be done to stop or slow down the damage? And what needs to be done to build votes to remove Trump from office?

Nancy Pelosi seems to be trying to triangulate between “the Squad” –  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley – and the conservative wing of the House Democratic caucus, some of whom were elected in 2018 in districts that went for Trump in 2016.  Criticizing the Squad to an unfriendly interviewer, however, leaned too far in the direction of protecting the conservative wing from what they might consider radical thought.

Understanding why those districts flipped, however, and how broad support for the ideas of the Squad may be, would seem to be a good idea. My impression – largely from social media, which may not be indicative of the country at large – is that people want to see the corruption and incompetence of the Trump administration called out and policies advanced to turn back from the extreme inequalities Republican policies have inflicted on the country.

I’m not seeing much in the way of polling on those questions.

Should Democrats explicitly call out racists and demand healthcare for everyone? Are people okay with tax increases, particularly on the rich? How many see women of color as the future of the party? How many support the strategy of the House passing bills to make a point, even if the Senate won’t pass them? How many think we should impeach the President? Is there any point in trying to win those Trump voters so frequently interviewed in Midwest diners? Who are the voters who voted for Obama and then Trump, and why? Why did those districts turn around to elect conservative Democrats? Should Democrats call out the crimes Trump has been accused of?

There are a great many more questions. How they are phrased is important. Joe Biden, and perhaps Nancy Pelosi, seem to believe that bipartisan action is what people want. If you ask people whether they think bipartisan action is desirable, they’re likely to say yes. You might get a different answer if you ask whether they think that the current Republican Party is willing to work with Democrats to pass particular legislation.

How many think that the Republican Party needs to be rebuilt from the ground up? Fair is fair, after all the Republicans who are telling Democrats how to run their campaign.

It seems to me that there is a movement away from Trump. On Twitter, the responses to Trump’s tweets are becoming more and more negative. Polls immediately after his racist remarks about the Squad showed large majorities opposed to that racism. Here’s some polling that seems to say that more Americans support the Squad than support Trump.

And here’s a Twitter thread that draws on actual experience in defeating David Duke. The advice is to run explicitly against the racist. Policies are secondary. The whole thread is worth reading. It starts off with a description of the campaign against Duke and the conventional advice from the conventional consultants, which is very like what Pelosi seems to be guided by.

Don’t try to flip those folks in MAGA hats in the diners so beloved of interviewers. Drive up turnout among folks who stayed home in 2016.

Looks to me like this is the way forward. The presidential candidates, particularly Elizabeth Warren, are coming up with a great stock of policies. They’re essential, but not what the party should lead withdemoc

Pelosi could help by, say, one needling statement (NOT tweet) every day pointing out Trump’s racism, dishonesty, incompetence, pettiness – there’s a lot of material there that polling could supply and reinforce. That would have the added advantage of upsetting Trump. Not to fight with him, just to let people know she’s on the job and to keep Trump off balance.

I know I’d feel a lot better if we heard more of this from her.

 








Seriously: A Disgrace Before All the Nations

If you wrote this scene for the cartoon villain in a genre movie, it’d be rejected as ‘too broad’. If your grandfather reacted this way during a serious event, you’d be looking at assisted living facilities with memory-care components. I don’t know if this event was scheduled well in advance, or if the Oval Office Occupation slapped it together to reassure the Talibangelicals that Jeffrey Epstein’s friend Trump still had their backs. But as an American, I’m genuinely ashamed that this is the face we’re showing the world.

When President Trump this week met human rights activist Nadia Murad, an Iraqi who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 for speaking out about her agonizing torture and rape while in Islamic State captivity, he seemed unaware of her story and the plight ofher Yazidi ethnic minority.

For several minutes in the Oval Office on Wednesday, Murad stood beside a seated Trump, who mostly avoided eye contact with Murad, and implored the president to help her community return to Iraq. She explained that the Islamic State, or ISIS, may be gone but that Iraqis and Kurds are fighting for control over Yazidi lands…

Murad, who lives in Germany, told Trump that she never wanted to be a refu­gee but that ISIS murdered her mother and six brothers.

“Where are they now?” Trump asked.

“They killed them,” she repeated. “They are in the mass grave in Sinjar, and I’m still fighting just to live in safety.”

“I know the area very well that you’re talking about,” Trump responded.
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