Holy Toledo

This is just…well, watch for yourselves if you didn’t see it live:

Trump uttered the words “white supremacy” under duress in the speech, snorting, eyes darting around like a hostage forced to read a sentence denouncing his comrades for a propaganda video. That’s what the media will almost certainly focus on, that Trump acknowledged that “white supremacy” is bad.

Most won’t bother to put it in context, i.e., to point out that the acknowledgement of the obvious was made necessary because one of Trump’s deranged followers murdered innocent men, women and children after parroting Trump’s own xenophobic demagoguery as his motive. Here’s a hot take from the non-Fox News media:

The fucking fuck? No, he did not “set a different tone,” you feckless fail muppets! Trump read an error-laden compilation of shitty platitudes designed to deflect blame from himself and shield gun owners and manufacturers from any consequences. And he did it poorly. Any pundit uttering or implying a “pivot” should be kicked in the junk repeatedly (metaphorically).

Meanwhile, back in Toledo:

Fellow citizens, we either kick the Republicans out of power at every level, or their insanity will engulf this country completely. We’re more than half way there right now. It really is as simple as that.

The Context of Constant Lies

I was ready to be very irritated after getting a Washington Post news alert about Trump’s proposal for “strong background checks”, since he says something like that after every big shooting, then backs down. But the Post’s piece is pretty good at pointing that out:

Trump promised to be “very strong on background checks” in the days after the February 2018 shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school that left 17 people dead.

He later retreated, voicing support for relatively modest changes to the federal background check system, as well as for arming teachers.

The problem with the story is that all of this context happens halfway down the page, after readers are done reading (if they bothered to go past the headline of the news alert) and have internalized that Trump is willing to bargain those background checks in exchange for the Democrats dealing on immigration reform.

We all know that Trump isn’t going to do anything meaningful, but it’s always possible that he and his party will give on a small detail. For example, he was able to stop the sale of bump stocks after the Las Vegas massacre, which is a tiny something more than nothing. Maybe this time he’ll close the gun show loophole, if by some miracle the GOP in the Senate passes that bill, but only an idiot would try to make a deal with Trump on gun reform (or any other hot button issue), given his long track record of not delivering after running his big mouth.

So, the Post coverage gets it right in detail, but as always with Trump, they fail at the overall message.  Any “Trump Offers a Deal on X” story has to begin with Trump’s track record on deals in general, and X in particular.  And, by now the media should know that any  Trump deal offer isn’t worth a news alert, or even front-and-center placement.  It’s not enough for the context to be in the story, the story has to be placed in the context of Trump’s track record of never delivering on what he’s offering.

Update:  I just got an alert from the Guardian, much better than the Post:

“The call is coming from inside the (White) House…”

While we wait for details on the most recent mass murder (the one in Ohio), further evidence is emerging that the El Paso shooter was a Trump-supporting, immigrant-hating white supremacist who was radicalized online and committed his horrific crime to achieve political ends. In other words, a terrorist.

Many lines from the so-called manifesto the terrorist published could have been tweeted by Trump, GOP Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel or the perpetrator’s own US Senator, John Cornyn:

Trump tweeted the following this morning:

The FBI, local and state law enforcement are working together in El Paso and in Dayton, Ohio. Information is rapidly being accumulated in Dayton. Much has already be learned in El Paso. Law enforcement was very rapid in both instances. Updates will be given throughout the day!

Thanks, President Police Scanner. Now go load your ass into a cart and play 18 holes at your self-branded resort on our fucking dime, you worse than useless sack of shit.

Regarding the El Paso shooting, Trump can’t and won’t connect the dots since they lead directly to his bloated orange carcass. The mainstream media is unlikely to connect the dots forthrightly today, if ever. TPM describes the terrorist’s gaslighting strategy:

There’s abundant evidence the shooter is a big fan of President Trump and certainly of his worldview. And yet the manifesto includes a sort of preemptive rebuttal of any claims that he is a Trump supporter or that Trump influenced. He predicts that “the media” will identify him as a white supremacist and blame President Trump’s racist and xenophobic rhetoric for radicalizing him and provoking the attack. Such claims would be “fake news” and such claims will indeed only prove that “the media” is “fake news.

It’ll be clarifying to see which non-Fox News media outlets participate in the white supremacist terrorist’s clumsy attempt at obfuscation. So far, the signs are not encouraging.

But El Paso native Beto O’Rourke didn’t mince words:

We’ve had a rise in hate crimes every single one of the last three years during an administration where you’ve had a president who’s called Mexicans “rapists” and “criminals,” though Mexican immigrants commit crimes at a far lower rate than those born here in the country. He is a racist and he stokes racism in this country, and it does not offend our sensibilities, it fundamentally changes the character of this country and it leads to violence.

Thank you, Mr. O’Rourke. These times demand plain speaking.


I know healthcare is Mayhew’s bailiwick, but it’s incumbent upon us to point and laugh at the Trump administration’s effort to put together a 20,000-page term paper the night before it’s due. Prior to becoming the first person on the planet to discover that healthcare is “so complicated,” Trump made some pretty big promises about how he would change coverage in the US:

“I am going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.”

“We’re going to have insurance for everybody. There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us. It will be in a much simplified form. Much less expensive and much better.”

Three years later, Trump’s flunkies are desperately seeking small-bore policy-tweak “wins” as the freight train of the upcoming election bears down on the administration. The Post:

White House advisers, scrambling to create a health-care agenda for President Trump to promote on the campaign trail, are meeting at least daily with the aim of rolling out a measure every two to three weeks until the 2020 election…

One senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said the White House believes it has “tremendous authority” to write executive orders under food, drug and cosmetic laws, as well as through the ACA, which gives the government broad power to test ways to improve health care and reduce costs in government programs.

“We think the [ACA] authority is pretty tremendous,” the [Trump admin] official said. The administration is currently arguing in federal court to overturn the law, however, with a decision expected late summer or fall.

But many health policy and legal experts disagree and are also skeptical the steps the administration is talking about would have a tangible effect on consumers before the election.

“It’s unlikely the administration is going to be able to use an executive order that Americans are going to be able to notice before the election,” said Benedic Ippolito, a health economist at the American Enterprise Institute. “It’s an incredibly ambitious timeline.”

What could possibly go wrong, aside from wingnut judges nullifying coverage for tens of millions by overturning the ACA on the Trump admin’s advice, thus also deep-sixing the executive order experiments, or the spectacle of top GOP pharma donors suing the Trump admin in court in the run-up to the election?

Other participants in the sometimes contentious daily meetings include Azar, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and representatives from the vice president’s office.


I get that a lot of folks are nervous about some of our candidates’ ideas on healthcare. I share your anxiety, mostly because the media goes all budget-ninja on Democrats when healthcare (or any other topic, really) comes up and doesn’t even bother pointing out the absurdity of Trump’s stream-of-semi-consciousness lies on the subject. But Judd Legum* on Twitter made a good point here:

Last night’s debate revealed the real bias in the media which is the assumption that the status quo is “moderate” and anyone that proposes structural changes is “radical”

In my view, letting people die because they can’t afford insulin is more extreme than proposing a new policy.

Truth. As for Senator Warren locking herself into Medicare for All and the abolition of private insurance, did anyone happen to see the wee hours of the post-debate coverage? I did, God help me. Warren joined the CNN panel, and they pressed her on that issue, particularly on how Medicare for All would affect unions that negotiated Cadillac coverage as part of their compensation.

I don’t remember Warren’s exact words and cannot find a video of the exchange on YouTube, but she mentioned having unions at the table when negotiating the healthcare transition. She talked about leadership and gaining consensus, and she sounded a good bit more flexible on the topic than the post-debate pundit pearl-clutching suggests.

Let’s also recall that the 2008 candidates evolved quite a bit on healthcare by the time the rubber met the road in DC. IIRC, then-candidate Obama scoffed at the idea of an individual mandate on the campaign trail. But since they seriously intend to govern, Democrats have to be willing to compromise and take new factors into account as appropriate.

Given the clown show we’ll be up against, I like our chances on every hot-button issue, including healthcare. As Buttigieg rightly pointed out, the Trumpublican retort will be “socialism!!!” no matter what, so you might as well fight for what you believe is the best plan.

*H/T: Valued commenter germy

Debate Wrap-Up Open Thread

I wonder who at CNN decided it should be the Delaney vs Warren show. Warren should send that person a fruit basket.

What did y’all think?