Mike Pence, the GOP’s Emergency Backup Monster

There have been rumors that “Idiot-1” wants to replace Pence on the 2020 ticket with his favorite daughter — so maybe sending him down to Texas was an attempt to make him an expendable sacrifice to public outrage. Or maybe sending Moral Monstrosity Mike was a ‘gift’ to that not inconsiderable portion of the GOP base that wants to hurt people. Quite possibly both!


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Open Thread: The “Wedge Issue” of Torturing Children

The poll first informed respondents of this: “There have been news reports of unsafe and unsanitary conditions for children held in detention at the border. Children have been reported to be without toothbrushes, soap, and blankets, and older children are reportedly caring for babies they don’t know.”

Then the poll asked for respondents’ views. And it found that 68 percent support this statement: “These are unacceptable conditions that need to be fixed immediately so children have a safe environment. Our government should not treat children this way.”

By contrast, only 32 percent supported this statement: “These are not our children, and they should not have come or been brought here. The government is doing all that it needs to be doing.”…

The question is framed starkly. The lead-in paints an arresting — though accurate — picture, and the second view negatively describes the children as not ours, and adopts a deliberately callous expression of how our government should be treating them.

But Alissa Stollwerk, the director of YouGov Blue, tells me that this is precisely the point — to test how voters view the more callous framing, in contrast with the more sympathetic one, in part because the former is the kind of rhetoric you hear on Fox News…

By the way, more neutrally worded polling by CNN found a similar divide: Large majorities of Americans, including of independents, favor allowing Central American refugees to apply for asylum, while large majorities of Republicans oppose it…

The government’s intention, it would seem, is to force more immigrants into substandard conditions, ‘temporary’ hotels at best and prison camps at worst. The agents tasked with this should feel bad about it; the ones that don’t are the ones we all need to worry about.

[Disturbing images below the fold]
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Mueller Report Open Thread: Assange/Russia/Trump Collusion Edition

Trump is a godsdamned magnet for monsters. Per Kevin Pousen, at the Daily Beast:

As laid out by Mueller, Assange’s involvement in Russia’s election interference began with a June 14, 2016 direct message to WikiLeaks’ Twitter account from “DC Leaks,” one of the false fronts created by the Russians to launder their hacked material.

“You announced your organization was preparing to publish more Hillary’s emails,” the message read, according to Mueller’s report. “We are ready to support you. We have some sensitive information too, in particular, her financial documents. Let’s do it together. What do you think about publishing our info at the same moment? Thank you.”

A week later, WikiLeaks reached out to a second GRU persona, Guccifer 2.0, and pitched WikiLeaks as the best outlet for the hacked material. On July 14, 2016, GRU officers used a Guccifer 2.0 email address to send WikiLeaks an encrypted one-gigabyte file named “wk dnc link I .txt.gpg.” Assange confirmed receipt, and on July 22 he published 20,000 DNC emails stolen during the GRU’s breach…

Rich was a 27-year-old DNC staffer when he was gunned down in what police have described as a robbery gone wrong. The unsolved murder timed shortly before Assange’s DNC leaks spoke volumes to inhabitants of the far right wing fringe, where it’s long been an article of faith that Hillary Clinton has her enemies killed…

With Assange behind it, the Seth Rich hoax moved into the almost-mainstream, spawning a quickly-retracted report on Fox News, and a series of “investigations” by Assange ally Sean Hannity. It also wreaked havoc in the lives of Rich’s surviving family, particularly his anguished parents who later begged perpetrators of the charade “to give us peace, and to give law enforcement the time and space to do the investigation they need to solve our son’s murder.”

Even as he was ruthlessly framing Rich to protect himself, the GRU, or both, Assange was privately communicating with his real sources to arrange the transfer of the second election leak, material the GRU stole from John Podesta’s Gmail account…

The Mueller report quotes from cryptic emails and messages exchanged between WikiLeaks and the GRU accounts in September 2016, and based on metadata, Mueller suspects the transfer occurred on September 19. But the actual transmittal of the massive Podesta haul evidently took place in a channel that Mueller couldn’t crack. The report notes the possibility that, this time, the files were simply carried into the Ecuadorian Embassy by one of Assange’s visitors.

In the end, the most charitable interpretation of Assange’s “dissembling” as Mueller calls it, in the Seth Rich hoax is that he genuinely couldn’t rule out the possibility that Rich was his source. The Mueller report demolished that final moral refuge. Rich had been dead four days when Assange received the DNC files...








Excellent Read: Mitch McConnell Is Cartoonishly Evil

He’s turned his party into a purely parasitic organism — which is, apparently, just what the “true” GOP wants. Michael A. Cohen, in the NRYBDaily, “Mitch McConnell, Republican Nihilist”:

[I]f there is one defining characteristic of McConnell’s more than three decades in national politics, it is the prizing of political expediency over integrity, ideology, and any other impulse that should define public service in a representative democracy. For McConnell, as for the president whom he has repeatedly enabled, winning is the only thing that matters. All other considerations are secondary to that goal.

Writing for the Review last fall, the American historian Christopher R. Browning said of the Senate majority leader, “if the US has someone whom historians will look back on as the gravedigger of American democracy, it is Mitch McConnell.” In Browning’s view, McConnell is not dissimilar from the German conservative politicians, who in the 1930s brought Adolf Hitler to power, “thinking that they could ultimately control [him] while enjoying the benefits of his popular support.” With Hitler as Chancellor, the conservatives saw their fulsome policy agenda enacted: rearmament, suspension of civil liberties, the outlawing of the Communist Party, and the abolition of labor unions, among other moves. But as they would later find out, controlling the monster they put in power would be something else altogether.

Over the past two years, McConnell has made a similar pact with the devil (albeit a lesser fiend). He helped Trump pass a huge tax cut that disproportionately benefits the wealthy and he’s rubber-stamped Trump’s conservative picks for the federal judiciary, all the while looking the other way at Trump’s assaults on democratic norms and his authoritarian impulses.

Indeed, as alarming as Browning’s comparison might seem, it doesn’t quite do justice to the malign impact that Mitch McConnell has had on modern American politics. No politician has done more to weaken American democracy and undermine the nation’s most basic norms than McConnell. Nor is any politician more responsible for Trump’s rise to power. All of it has been in pursuit of the narrowest, most parochial goals.
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But Seriously: Mitch McConnell Is A Monster

And it’s getting more widely noticed…

Charlie Pierce:

There simply is no more loathsome creature walking the political landscape than the Majority Leader of the United States Senate. You have to go back to McCarthy or McCarran to find a Senate leader who did so much damage to democratic norms and principles than this yokel from Kentucky. Trump is bad enough, but he’s just a jumped-up real-estate crook who’s in over his head. McConnell is a career politician who knows full well what he’s doing to democratic government and is doing it anyway because it gives him power, and it gives the rest of us a wingnut federal judiciary for the next 30 years. There is nothing that this president* can do that threatens McConnell’s power as much as it threatens the survival of the republic, and that’s where we are.
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