Impeach The Mofo!

David Leonhardt, one of the bright spots in the New York Times, wrote a brief on impeaching President Donald Trump. It’s very good – you should read it all.

Some highlights:

  • We don’t need results from the Mueller investigation to impeach Trump – he has proved his unfitness for office in multiple ways.
  • Now that moderating influences like James Mattis have left the administration, Trump’s rate of doing damage will increase.
  • The greatest risk is an external event and Trump’s inability to respond, or to immediately reach for dictatorial powers.

He lists four areas in which Trump has broken his oath of office:

  • Trump has used the presidency for personal enrichment.
  • Trump has violated campaign finance law.
  • Trump has obstructed justice.
  • Trump has subverted democracy.

Bob Bauer provides a long explanation of how we get to an impeachment. The first step is for Congress to hold hearings on the various issues. This provides evidence for Trump’s malfeasance. Hearings also publicize that malfeasance to develop popular support for impeachment. Read more








Deploraville Dispatch

Did you argue politics with relatives over the holiday weekend? My Trumpster kin had nothing to say about their orange idol. I suspect they’re ashamed of him but too stubborn to admit it.

I’d like to think that’s progress, but I know better; they still believe the same stupid shit that made them vote for a racist, sexist, xenophobic demagogue in the first place.

Over the weekend, I read a Washington Monthly piece by Daniel Block about Democrats in deep red areas — kinda the opposite of the Deploraville safari articles about “heartland” Trump voters.

There’s a lot of truth to it, IMO. Here’s an excerpt:

Reporters have descended on conservative bastions like Augusta, as well as counties that recently flipped from blue to red, in a bid to understand how a reality television star became president. They have spoken to longtime, working-class conservatives and ex-Democrats who, through Trump, finally found a vehicle through which to express their political frustrations. In doing so, they’ve routinely painted a picture of Trump-voting America so predictable that it has become a trope. Yet very few journalists have chosen to focus on the Democrats in Trump country who stayed Democrats…

But even in places like Augusta County, thousands of people voted for Hillary Clinton. No depiction of Trump country is complete without them. Most of their neighbors may be standing by the president, but if Augusta is any indication, Democrats in rural red counties are just as fired up and enthused as their counterparts in liberal cities. In Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District, which includes Augusta, no Democrat has mounted a midterm congressional campaign in twenty years. This year, four people ran…

As more activists come out of the woodwork, the Democratic Party gains more people like Frank Nolen: human faces who can make the party more accessible to residents with hidden liberal inclinations. This is critical for the party’s fortunes. Building a viable electoral infrastructure depends on making it socially acceptable to be a Democrat.

Ironic, isn’t it, that the people who belong to the party that opposes an abusive, corrupt, would-be authoritarian degenerate are the ones who suffer social consequences for that. But it’s a reality that many of us live on the daily. That’s part of the reason you won’t find me boo-hooing over Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ comped cheese plate or pitying Tucker Carlson for blowback to his hate-mongering.

Fox News feeds its viewers a steady diet of “oppressed conservatives in Hollywood” stories and plays up incidents where its wealthy hate-mongers are harassed by ordinary citizens. The Fox News audience eats that victimization shit up — all the while engaging in subtle and overt intimidation tactics against neighbors with different political views.

The Post has an article today by doctoral candidate Emily Van Duyn about Democratic women secretly organizing in a deep red part of Texas. Some of the women in the underground group she studied shared why they’re unwilling to “come out” as Democrats:

The existence of this group does more than tell us about 136 women in a small county in Texas. Their experience of fear and intimidation challenges assumptions about democracy in the United States. That is, in a truly liberal democracy, people should be able to voice their views without fear of retaliation.

These women’s choice to engage and persist underground also challenges us to reconsider the privilege of being publicly political and the possibility that the things we see on the surface in our communities, the yard signs, the bumper stickers, are not the whole story.

It’s not the whole story, and we can’t write off the folks in those places. I know it’s tempting to give up on red areas — I live in one, and sometimes I think the best solution is to re-stage Sherman’s march. In a post about radicalized rural kids earlier this week, Mistermix observed:

This is not to say that radicalized rural kids aren’t a problem – but the problem is bigger than that. The Senate and the Electoral College over-represent states that intelligent progressive kids want to leave. Maybe, as Deb and James Fallows have reported, some of these kids will stay and enlarge blue dots in otherwise conservative states. But why bother when you can just move a few hundred miles away and not have to deal with the narrow minds and poverty of spirit that infects rural America?

I don’t have a good answer to that dilemma for individuals. I fled my conservative home turf as a young person too, only to ultimately return. But as a society, if we want to have a functioning democracy (and maybe even avoid a second civil war), those of us who do choose to remain in red areas — people like Cole, some of you, and me — have to do the hard work of building an electoral infrastructure, as outlined in the Washington Monthly piece.

That’s the only way forward. I sure hope we can pull it off.



Late Night Open Thread: FEAR of A Bob Woodward

Bob Woodward is the Establishment’s Guy. Most of his big fat doorstops-with-indexes are launched to certify that All Is Well In This Best of All Possible Worlds. Occasionally, as with the book that launched his & Bernstein’s journalistic careers, the message is This Individual’s Become A Problem That Will Be Dealt With As Harshly As Required.

His new book seems to fall squarely in the second category. The question: Does Trump understand the verdict that has just been passed upon his “presidency”? Or perhaps it should be phrased: Will any of Trump’s staff bother trying to explain the situation to the Oval Office Occupant?


Read more








Excellent Read: “The Priesthood of The Big Crazy”

In the NYRB (a publication which doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves), Garry Wills, ex-seminarian, gets to the heart of a decades-long horror — and ongoing institutional problem:

The grand jury report of Catholic priests’ predations in Pennsylvania is enough to make one vomit. The terrifying fact that hundreds of priests were preying upon over a thousand victims in that state alone makes one shudder at the thought of how many hundreds and thousands of abusers there are elsewhere in the nation, elsewhere in the world. It is time to stop waiting for more reports to accumulate, hoping that something will finally be done about this. Done by whom? By “the church”? If “the church” is taken to mean the pope and bishops, nothing will come of nothing. They are as a body incapable of making sense of anything sexual.

A wise man once told me that we humans are all at one time or another a little crazy on the subject of sex. A little crazy, yes. But Catholic priests are charged with maintaining The Big Crazy on sex all the time. These functionaries of the church are formally supposed to believe and preach sexual sillinesses, from gross denial to outright absurdity, on the broadest range of issues—masturbation, artificial insemination, contraception, sex before marriage, oral sex, vasectomy, homosexuality, gender choice, abortion, divorce, priestly celibacy, male-only priests—and uphold the church’s “doctrines,” no matter how demented…

To be a priest is to be a company man, the company being the pope and the hierarchy. The farther one rises in the hierarchy, the higher the stakes. Pope Francis probably does want to do something about the priest mystique; but he is surrounded by loyalists of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, and he is trammeled by his predecessors’ many years of priest-mystique maintenance, which is the principal task of many in Rome. Waiting for the pope to do something is to hope that the protector of the mystique will forswear the mystique.

Many victims of abuse by priests have made the mistake of reporting their charges to a bishop. They should have gone straight to a secular authority. To expect from the celibate clergy either candor or good sense on sexual matters is a fool’s game. The Vatican II Council proclaimed that the church is the people of God, not their rulers…
Read more








Interesting Read: “A Truth Sandwich”

Tom Toles Editorial Cartoon

(Tom Toles via GoComics.com)
.

Former NYT ombudsman Margaret Sullivan is predictably dubious that such a policy could be implemented under the current system, but kudos to her for headlining it anyways. From her current employer, the Washington Post:

Last week was a particularly rough one for journalists and truth-seeking citizens.

President Trump declared the news media the nation’s worst enemy. And time after shocking time, his acolytes demeaned or threatened reporters for doing one of their most basic jobs: asking questions of those in power…

And the president’s anti-media campaign is convincing at least some citizens that journalists have no worth.

Enter George Lakoff. An author, cognitive scientist and linguist who has long studied how propaganda works, he believes it’s long past time for the reality-based news media to stop kowtowing to the emperor…

Unlike those who insist that what the president says is news and therefore must be reported, Lakoff proposes a radical reimagining of how the news media reports on Trump.

Instead of treating the president’s every tweet and utterance — true or false — as newsworthy (and then perhaps fact-checking it later), Lakoff urges the use of what he calls a “truth sandwich.”

First, he says, get as close to the overall, big-picture truth as possible right away. (Thus the gist of the Trump-in-Singapore story: Little of substance was accomplished in the summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, despite the pageantry.) Then report what Trump is claiming about it: achievement of world peace. And then, in the same story or broadcast, fact-check his claims.

That’s the truth sandwich — reality, spin, reality — all in one tasty, democracy-nourishing meal.

Avoid retelling the lies. Avoid putting them in headlines, leads or tweets, he says. Because it is that very amplification that gives them power.

That’s how propaganda works on the brain: through repetition, even when part of that repetition is fact-checking…

Lakoff is not the only one who has suggested radical changes in how the news media conducts itself in the Trump era.

Jay Rosen of New York University sums up one such proposal in three words: “Send the interns.”

White House briefings, since the very beginning of Sean Spicer’s efforts to defend the indefensible about the size of Trump’s inauguration crowd, are no place for talented, highly compensated reporters to spend their time and energy…

So, Rosen says, go ahead and continue to staff these briefings. But send the interns…

The White House already treats reporters like unruly adolescents — I’d kinda enjoy seeing them face a roomful of actual Youngs with media. If only because it’d be highly entertaining to watch Huckabee-Sanders or Kellyanne Conway’s face as they realized they’d been relegated to the scrub team!