Fox News is Radio Rwanda

Is that hyperbolic? Maybe. But listen (if you can bear it) to this clip from the Blonde with Two Boobs on a Couch* from this morning:

Partial transcript:

“A few things really hit home, when you think about how hard YOU work, trying to put food on the table, many folks go to a job they don’t like, and then you look at the numbers, and you’re spending about $80K…over the course of one of those illegal’s lifetime to keep them here in the United States — you’re paying for them, and you’re working hard to pay for them. Then you look at the numbers of people that are doing illegal drugs here. A lot of the drugs are coming from the southern border, and the president highlighted that last night.

And then you hear him talk about, he said, “Imagine if this were your child that was killed by an illegal alien” because we hear Kate Steinle’s parents and the parents of, the fire chief parents, in Knoxville, Tennessee, their young son was killed by a suspected illegal immigrant, and you hear about Officer Singh in California…the president highlighted the Air Force veteran who was raped and murdered and beaten to death by an illegal alien. He talked about the Georgia illegal alien that killed his neighbor and beheaded him and dismembered him, he talked about the MS-13 gang members in Maryland who are unaccompanied minors who were arrested and charged with stabbing and beating a 16-year-old girl.

You hear all of that, and you wonder why Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are calling this, are saying it’s immoral to build a wall, they’re saying it’s not a crisis. Look at the video! Listen to the numbers!”

It’s no coincidence that Trump and Fox & Friends name-checked states from coast to interior to coast. They want to incite fear and loathing from sea to shining sea. Fox & Friends is Twitler’s favorite program, and together they form a continuous feedback loop of hate.

Anyhoo, Ainsley Earhardt, ladies and gents — a Leni Riefenstahl minus talent serving a fuhrer without brains. Let us hope their incompetence and stupidity contain the damage.

*H/T: Adam

So it begins…

The Post published an editorial yesterday afternoon imploring Democrats to use their leverage in the border wall fight for a “truly moral purpose” — to protect the Dreamers. The editorial begins with predictable throat-clearing about the shutdown being on Trump and the wall being a wasteful, ineffective, prejudice-driven response to a made-up problem.

But because Both Sides, The Post editors mildly chide Pelosi for “opposing Mr. Trump’s wall in absolutist terms, calling it ‘immoral…'” and urge the Democrats to make a deal with the devil:

Rather than talk about the immorality of a wall, Democrats could use their leverage to achieve a truly moral purpose. In return for a few billion dollars for a segment of the president’s wall — which would immediately be challenged in court by property owners along the border — Democrats might permanently shield from deportation well over 1 million “dreamers,” young migrants primarily brought to this country as children by their parents. They might also protect tens of thousands of Haitians, Salvadorans and Hondurans whom the administration is preparing to expel after having lived legally in this country for years under a program known as Temporary Protected Status.

The difficulty, we understand, is that the president cannot be trusted to bargain in good faith. He agreed to a wall-for-dreamers deal last spring, only to reneg when his nativist aides and base objected. Now Mr. Trump cannot expect Democrats to deal unless he goes first, committing unequivocally to legalize the dreamers and TPS migrants in exchange for some border security.

It’s a long shot. But Democrats should leave themselves in a position to say yes if that long shot comes home. They would accomplish a great good for a huge number of blameless people — and for the country.

IMO, this was a defensible position last spring, when Trump seemed willing to exchange a path to citizenship for Dreamers for $25B for the wall. Sure, the wall was as dumb, racist and wasteful then as it is now. But giving relief to a million or so young people who are Americans in every sense but the official paperwork seemed a worthwhile trade to me.

But, as the WaPo editors themselves note, Trump killed that deal by demanding deep cuts to legal immigration, and he kicked off the current crisis by rejecting a deal he said he’d sign — all to appease unelected, racist screechers who have no legitimate role in driving policy.

The words “committing unequivocally” are utterly meaningless when applied to a pathological liar with no set principles nor an agenda beyond self-enrichment and soaking up real or pretend adulation from a motley assortment of white supremacists, plutocrat water-carriers and neocon warmongers. Trump has demonstrated this daily for going on two years now, most recently with a whipsaw walk-back on withdrawing troops from Syria.

Trying to make a deal with this particular devil isn’t a “long shot” — it’s political malpractice. We can’t trust Trump to follow through on any concessions he might offer to end the tantrum. And, to state the obvious, rewarding this extortion attempt will encourage further hostage-taking.

So far, the Democrats are hanging tough. But this editorial page caviling from The Post is a bad sign that the Both Sidesing is beginning in earnest. If you’re lucky enough to be represented by Democrats, maybe give their offices a call and thank them for not caving. If you (like me) are unfortunately represented by Republicans, tell them the Trump shutdown is hurting your community and they need to stop propping up the lying clown.

As for tonight’s address, I hear CNN at least is going to air Pelosi and Schumer’s rebuttal. I hope they’ll call out the lies and insist on a reality-based immigration debate. There’s no point in trying not to offend Trump’s idiotic voters, and there’s no obligation to “respect the office” when it’s held by a degenerate fraud.

Most Americans know Trump is a liar, so I’d go with that, plus maybe outline some actual solutions to real problems.

Networks to broadcast Trump’s lies about the border tomorrow night

According to Trump’s latest tweet, the networks have agreed to give him airtime tomorrow as requested:

I am pleased to inform you that I will Address the Nation on the Humanitarian and National Security crisis on our Southern Border. Tuesday night at 9:00 P.M. Eastern.

Maybe he’s lying — I haven’t seen confirmation from a credible source. But assuming it’s true, the networks have a responsibility here to fact-check the orange fart cloud in real time. Time to air a rebuttal by Nancy Pelosi, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or whomever the Democrats assign the task should be granted automatically, but it’s not enough.

Here’s a fact: Trump lies all the time. The volume of lies is unprecedented, and he lies as much or more about the border situation than any other topic. The networks know this. It’s not debatable. Even Fox News called out Sarah Huckabee Sanders for telling a big fat whopper about terrorists coming across the southern border yesterday (they’re not).

It’s not a bold prediction to say Trump will repeat the same debunked lies he uploaded into Huckabee Sanders’ brain-pan to deliver on Fox News. They’re the same lies he’s tweeted scores of times, the same lies mouthed by other administration toadies, like Kirstjen Nielsen.

I think it’s a bad move for the networks to give Trump a platform to repeat his lies, but I understand they’re in a difficult position. They refused airtime to President Obama for an address on immigration, but they weren’t running government shutdown clocks on every news network at the time.

So, if they’re going to give Trump a megaphone, they need to have journalists on hand to fact-check the lying fraud in real-time, in a chyron at the bottom of the screen, while he’s telling the lies. Daniel Dale of the Toronto Star fact-checks Trump speeches on Twitter live. He says it’s not that hard because Trump tells the same lies over and over.

As we’ve discussed here before, our Beltway media outlets haven’t adjusted to the fire-hose volume of lies coming out of this administration, and their failure to adapt is unacceptable. A fact-check chyron would be a good start.

Open thread.

Border Lies

Trump is lying about the border situation again this morning. Here’s one tweet with five sentences — each a bald-faced lie:

Mexico is paying for the Wall through the new USMCA Trade Deal. Much of the Wall has already been fully renovated or built. We have done a lot of work. $5.6 Billion Dollars that House has approved is very little in comparison to the benefits of National Security. Quick payback!

Trump is holding a meeting on border security with Democrats and Republicans today, according to The Post:

President Trump invited congressional leaders to the White House for a briefing on border security, the first face-to-face session involving Republicans and Democrats as the partial government shutdown entered its second week.

The briefing will occur one day before Democrats take control of the House and Trump gets his first taste of divided government.

It was unclear whether the Wednesday session would break the budget impasse — in its 11th day Tuesday — as Trump has demanded billions of dollars for a U.S.-Mexico border wall, and Democrats have rejected his request. Trump had campaigned on a pledge to build the wall at Mexico’s expense, a proposition Mexican officials called ludicrous.

Officials from the Department of Homeland Security are scheduled to brief the top two leaders in each party in the House and the Senate. “Border Security and the Wall ‘thing’ and Shutdown is not where Nancy Pelosi wanted to start her tenure as Speaker! Let’s make a deal?” Trump tweeted Tuesday.

In reply to the “let’s make a deal” tweet, Pelosi in essence told Trump to blow his “deal” out his ass. But perhaps more instructive was her response to the lies about the border situation that Trump read off index cards during his televised dust-up with Pelosi and Schumer on December 11:

What the President is representing in terms of his cards over there are not factual. We have to have to an evidence-based conversation about what does work, what money has been spent, and how effective it is.

Bingo, once and future Madam Speaker. It all comes down to Trump’s willingness to tell shameless lies at an unprecedented volume. To borrow an annoying word from Silicon Valley, Trump’s shamelessness and lying “disrupted” politics as surely as Lyft and Uber wrenched the individual transportation industry right out from under old-school taxicab companies.

Our Beltway media still hasn’t adjusted to the shameless and constant lying. Millions of our fellow citizens are still walking around shell-shocked two years into the Trump LIElapalooza spectacle. It’s exhausting, and it never ends.

But now the Democrats are up to bat, and Greg Sargent at The Post makes a good case for centering their tenure on reclaiming the truth — and using the border wall fight as the opening salvo:

The near-total lack of GOP congressional oversight on the Trump administration hasn’t merely let President Trump’s corruption and authoritarianism run rampant. It has also allowed Trump’s bottomless dishonesty, bad faith and megalomaniacal delusions to fester unchecked when it comes to major governing decisions — and one glaring example is the government shutdown over his wall.

Democrats have a big opportunity to begin changing this. When they take over the House, they can use the oversight process not just to investigate Trumpian corruption and abuses, but also to try to restore facts, empiricism and good-faith information-gathering to a place in governing processes and debates…

Democrats have an opening. They should formally request that the Congressional Research Service do a comprehensive report on the current state of border security. This is exactly what the CRS is for. As CRS has explained, it provides lawmakers with detailed empirical information at all stages of the process, including helping them “better understand the existing situation” so they can “assess whether there is a problem requiring a legislative remedy…”

Democrats can also hold hearings at which Homeland Security officials are directly asked to testify to the state of border security. As it happens, a 2017 Homeland Security report found that the border is more secure than it has ever been, which also undercuts Trump’s wall rage-fantasies. Democrats could bring in the authors of that report and ask them to reiterate and explain this conclusion and justify “why we need to spend X dollars on a wall,” [Cornell Law Professor Josh] Chafetz noted, which “itself would make good television.”

Sargent admits the obvious — lies travel faster than truth. Hearings and reports won’t yield as much click-bait as xenophobic lies. But he notes that “effectively presented truths can also go viral” — as happened when someone smuggled audio of crying children from one of Trump’s baby jails.

The meeting Trump called is reportedly taking place in the Situation Room to underscore the national security implications of the border fight. Or maybe that location was chosen to give Trump an excuse to keep the press out so he doesn’t get his balls handed to him on live TV again.

In either case, I hope Nancy Pelosi will make another statement emphasizing the importance of having a reality-based debate on border security funding. Insisting on the truth having a role in policy-making will be an uphill battle given that the president is a pathological liar, everyone in his party is either a spineless enabler and/or evil knave, and too many Beltway journalists are maladaptive, lazy and/or dumb as a bag of hair. But the truth is worth fighting for!

The Trump Narrative

I think that one reason people have taken up the Steele dossier as a key to Donald Trump’s election wrongdoing is that it is a relatively compact telling of events, from which a narrative may be extracted.

Most of the news coverage is of one small piece of the story at a time. The format of the articles tends to be a general statement of that small piece, perhaps with a bit of background, then a more detailed explanation of the small piece, and then more background. Space is limited, and the story is big. The cast appears to include thousands.

I find those articles largely unreadable and uninformative. Journalists seem to be having trouble too. Sally Buzbee, the executive editor of AP, said the Trump-Russia probes have “gone on so long that it’s difficult to be able to assess what in this investigation is truly very serious and what is not as serious. So that is one thing that journalists struggle with a little bit…” (video here; quote begins at 4:30) That certainly could be one reason that their articles are unreadable.

We need an overall story into which we can fit the breaking news. That will help us figure out what is truly very serious. Elliott Broidy, as far as we know now, is not as important to the story as Erik Prince, who is not as important as Donald Trump Jr. A master narrative can show where characters and subplots fit. Then the subplots can be written separately, noting the connections.

So I’m going to stick my neck out and provide a narrative. It is a bare-bones framework on which we can hang the many subplots and add in facts as they emerge. I’ve also added questions that need to be answered. I suspect that Robert Mueller has answers to some of those questions.

I invite you to suggest subplots. I’ll add them to my list and perhaps write another post in which I try to incorporate them into the narrative.

The narrative is below the fold. Read more

Fables of the Great Negotiator

Nancy Pelosi was widely and justly acclaimed for leaving stiletto divots all over Trump’s lumpy hide last Tuesday. But as usual, the Beltway press isn’t going to let a Democrat — any Democrat — enjoy a day in the sun. In The Post, ambulatory cream cheese sculpture Hugh Hewitt is already spiking the football on the coming immigration fight, which Trump will win because nobody thought he’d win the 2016 election and he DID, so suck it, libturds!

Hewitt’s ideological fellow traveler at The Post, the infinitely more sinister Marc Thiessen, is condescendingly advising Democrats to just give Trump what he wants already:

Good news for the incoming House Democratic majority! They have something President Trump really, really wants: money to build a border wall. Trump is desperate for this money. Mexico won’t give it to him. Only congressional Democrats can. Without their consent, he can’t deliver on one of the key campaign promises he made during the 2016 election.

There’s a name for this in classic negotiating strategy. It’s called “leverage.” Good negotiators use leverage (something they have, which their adversary wants) to obtain what are called “concessions” (something their adversary has, which they want). The result is what experts call “compromise.” This is how the civilized world gets things done.

But in a fit of pique, Democrats are throwing away their leverage, insisting that they will never — under any circumstances — give Trump the wall he so desperately wants. The reason? Because he wants it and they despise him.

There is a name for this in negotiating strategy as well. It’s called “insanity…”

So why not give Trump his wall in exchange for something they want? They could give Trump the $5 billion he is asking for to begin construction of the wall in exchange for a path to citizenship for the nearly 2 million “dreamers” — mainly illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children through no fault of their own. Trump would negotiate on this basis in a heartbeat.

Who cares what those two despicable wingnut frauds think, you’re probably asking yourself, and normally, I would agree. But Thiessen’s narrative is seeping into The Post editorial board, which published an opinion earlier today that was infuriatingly entitled “Trump and Democrats can reach a deal on the wall — if they have the spine to take it.” Here’s the conclusion:

If there is a moral imperative in any trade-off involving immigration and security, it’s the urgent necessity of finding a way to ensure a future in this country for dreamers, who are Americans by upbringing, education, loyalty and inclination — by every metric but a strictly legal one. Striking a deal that achieves that outcome should be a no-brainer for both sides. If it means a few billion dollars to construct segments of Mr. Trump’s wall, Democrats should be able to swallow that with the knowledge that it also will have paid to safeguard so many young lives, careers and hopes. That’s not a tough sell even in a Democratic primary.

Any compromise worth the trouble involves painful concessions for each side, but in this case, if assessed with cool heads, the concessions are a far cry from excruciating. The question, for both sides, is familiar: Do they want an issue or a solution? If it’s the latter, it’s eminently achievable.

It’s like there’s an outbreak of collective amnesia at The Post. Does no one there remember that “Chuck and Nancy” were willing to give Trump $25 billion for his stupid-ass wall earlier this year in exchange for a path to citizenship for the Dreamers, an offer that Trump refused to consider unless the Democrats agreed to draconian cuts to LEGAL immigration? The Post covered the story, but it still went down the memory hole.

It may come to pass that Trump accepts one-fifth of the amount of the previous offer and basks in the glow of a great victory because Trump is a liar and a scam artist (and sycophants like Hewitt and Thiessen will be waving pom-poms and singing hosannas in praise of The Great Negotiator in The Post). It’s also easy to imagine Trump insisting on terms the Democrats can’t accept because they’re based on fiction, such as that the USA is being overrun with diseased brown hordes, so future immigration must be restricted to applicants who are underwear models from the Nordic countries.

Either of these scenarios is plausible. But what’s not plausible is the assumption that Trump is bargaining in good faith. Both-sidesing the immigration standoff at this stage is bullshit, and it doesn’t augur well for how the media will spin the upcoming confrontation.

Lying liar necessitates new WaPo fact-checker category

The Post debuted a new fact-check category today in an attempt to capture the unprecedented fire-hose volume of repeat lies coming out of Trump’s lie-hole. They call it the “Bottomless Pinocchio” category:

Trump’s willingness to constantly repeat false claims has posed a unique challenge to fact-checkers. Most politicians quickly drop a Four-Pinocchio claim, either out of a duty to be accurate or concern that spreading false information could be politically damaging.

Not Trump. The president keeps going long after the facts are clear, in what appears to be a deliberate effort to replace the truth with his own, far more favorable, version of it. He is not merely making gaffes or misstating things, he is purposely injecting false information into the national conversation.

To accurately reflect this phenomenon, The Washington Post Fact Checker is introducing a new category — the Bottomless Pinocchio. That dubious distinction will be awarded to politicians who repeat a false claim so many times that they are, in effect, engaging in campaigns of disinformation.

To qualify as a Bottomless Pinocchio, the lie must have been repeated at least 20 times since receiving a 3- or 4-Pinocchio rating from The Post. Glenn Kessler, WaPo’s chief fact-checker, says 14 of Trump’s lies already qualify.

The failure of the mainstream press to adjust the way it covers presidencies in the wake of the election of a pathologically lying stooge of a foreign autocrat has been nothing short of calamitous, IMO. The Bottomless Pinocchio isn’t a serious enough change, but it’s a start since it at least acknowledges the unprecedented nature of this maladministration and its liar-in-chief.