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Hullabaloo


Friday, July 01, 2016

 
Beating the disabled at the security checkpoint

by digby



Welp, this is the worst story you'll hear today:


A disabled woman was beaten bloody by federal agents during an airport security screening while on her way to undergo treatment for a brain tumor.

Hannah Cohen set off the metal detector at a security checkpoint at the Memphis International Airport, and she was led away for additional screening, reported WREG-TV.

“They wanted to do further scanning, (but) she was reluctant — she didn’t understand what they were about to do,” said her mother, Shirley Cohen.

Cohen said she tried to tell agents with the Transportation Security Administration that her 19-year-old daughter is partially deaf, blind in one eye, paralyzed and easily confused — but she said police kept her away from the security agents.

The confused and terrified young woman tried to run away, her mother said, and agents violently took her to the ground.

“She’s trying to get away from them, but in the next instant, one of them had her down on the ground and hit her head on the floor,” Cohen said. “There was blood everywhere.”

The young woman, who was returning home after finishing treatment for the brain tumor at St. Jude Hospital, was arrested and booked into jail.

Authorities eventually threw out the charges against Hannah Cohen, but her family has filed a lawsuit against Memphis police, airport police and the TSA.

Neither police department commented on the suit, but a spokesperson for the TSA said passengers should notify agents ahead of time if they have special needs.

“Passengers can call ahead of time to learn more about the screening process for their particular needs or medical situation,” said TSA spokesperson Sari Koshetz.

The death of common sense. The idea that a disoriented, confused 19 year old woman travelling with her mother (who was telling them that she was disabled) was a likely terrorist of some kind is ridiculous. But when it comes to security, rulz is rulz...

.
 
Donald is listening

by digby













I wrote about his approach to civil liberties today for Salon:

Last June before Trump entered the presidential race, there was a major debate about renewal of the Patriot Act in the congress. Trump was asked about it on his favorite morning show, Fox and Friends and this is part of what he said:
I think security has to preside, you know, be pre-eminent. I'm looking at security. I think if anyone wants to listen to my phone calls it's fine. They're going to be very boring, it's going to be a very boring conversation... I just hope the government knows what they're doing a lot better than they did with the Obamacare website and the rest. You know in the old days you had a certain confidence in government, you don't have that confidence anymore. 
Trump has said over and over again that he "errs on the side of security" which is his catch-all justification for banning immigration and profiling people on the basis of religion, "giving power back to the police because crime is rampant," allowing proliferation of guns everywhere in society, torture, summary execution and a variety of other "Putinesque" policies. He calls this attitude "anti-PC" and common sense. Others call it unAmerican.

But it's a mistake to think that Trump's authoritarian tendencies are in reaction to current events. They are his nature. Buzzfeed reported yesterday that staff members at Trump's upscale Florida resort, Mar-a-lago, said that Donald Trump had a personal "switchboard" in his lodgings which allowed him to eavesdrop on the staff and guests telephone calls. His campaign denies it but there are several people who confirm that he routinely listens in on phone calls. Others admit that he had the apparatus but only used it for convenience sake so he didn't have to go through the main switchboard to call his friends who were staying at the resort.

Needless to say, that explanation is absurd. One might chalk that up to either another of The Donald's quirks or some disgruntled staff saying things to get back at him. But it's not the first time we've heard that he has a penchant for spying. Recall this passing comment from the New York Times in an article about the disarray in the Trump campaign at the end of May:
A sense of paranoia is growing among his campaign staff members, including some who have told associates they believe that their Trump Tower offices in New York may be bugged, according to three people briefed on the conversations.
At the time both then campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and senior advisor Paul Manafort were asked about this by separate news organizations and both responded less than definitively. Manafort vamped to ABC News, "I don't know who said that. Certainly there are people probably would like to, because there's a lot of good work going on there and we've been able to develop a campaign that is cohesive, that's working together, and in a record time thanks to a great candidate who has got a vision and connected to the American people, put the campaign in a position to win the presidency." And Lewandowski danced on the head of a pin for Chris Wallace of Fox:
“I think that’s a lot of speculation. I don’t think that’s the case at all — I think we’re very happy with the way that our offices are set up.”
The New York Times report about campaign staffers being paranoid doesn't say specifically why they would think this, but the piece implies that they believed Trump (or someone) knew things he could only have known about by eavesdropping. Whether he spied on his guests at the resort is unknown but people who stay there in the future should probably exclusively use their cell phones just in case. And staff should hold their private discussions in the garage like Bob Woodward and Deep Throat.

This little revelation about Trump's nosy parker proclivities would not necessarily raise alarms since employers generally do have the right to spy on their employees, although the good ones don't do it. And spying on customers is part of the modern world if you consider the way companies track people' buying habits to be spying. But Trump bugging his campaign office, if true, would not be standard operating procedure. And the mere fact that his staffers suspect that he has done it is a sign of something very dark going on inside that campaign.

But this should not come as a surprise. This is a man whose mentor was notorious political henchman Roy Cohn and who seems to have gotten his political inspiration from Richard Nixon. There can be no doubt that putting the US Government's spying apparatus in his hands would lead to him using it to monitor and punish his political enemies.

And while it's doubtful that he would go as far as this with Paul Ryan or Chuck Schumer, Trump's attitude toward Edward Snowden makes it very clear to anyone who would blow the whistle on his bad behavior that it would not go well for them:
"I think Snowden is a terrible threat, I think he’s a terrible traitor, and you know what we used to do in the good old days when we were a strong country — you know what we used to do to traitors, right?” Trump said.

“Well, you killed them, Donald,” said fill-in host, Eric Bolling.
He's a big fan of summary execution for anyone he personally designates a traitor. And one could easily see a President Trump deciding, like President Nixon before him, that he needed to find all his traitors and deploy whatever government tools were at his disposal to do it. He makes it clear that his beef isn't with government power, per se. It's that this government uses its power ineffectually, which is not the same thing at all.

Trump does not recognize constitutional limitations or civil liberties. He's shown it repeatedly from national security issues like these, to domestic policing to his threats to "open up the libel laws" to stop the media from criticizing him. He said it most clearly in his infamous 1989 Central Park Five full page ad which said,  "CIVIL LIBERTIES END WHEN AN ATTACK ON OUR SAFETY BEGINS!” That's not actually how it works, but if Trump knows that, he almost certainly doesn't care.


.
 

Can you hear us now?

by Tom Sullivan

"Out of touch" is a perennial criticism of candidates from both major parties. The Brexit vote in the UK was an exercise in politicians misreading their voters. This year, however, the presence of Donald Trump and His Amazing War Chest leaves Democrats at risk of developing a false sense of security. It doesn't help that FiveThirtyEight predictions favoring Democrats just get rosier. But as I said last September, so long as the T-party controls state legislatures and the Congress, who Democrats elect as president won't much matter.

From where many of us sit, the presidential race is a distraction unless the Democratic candidate sends sends us lawyers, guns and money, and provides coattails for our state-level candidates. Talk of landslides just worries me that Democrats will stay home and our local candidates will suffer. If voters are going to come out in November for a contest between two candidates with high disapproval ratings, they will need a reason, something to vote for.

That's why op-eds like Sarah Eberspacher's in the Guardian give me pause. She cautions against the tendency on the left to write off white, male, blue collar voters like those from her rural Illinois hometown (or here on the edge of Appalachia) as racist, sexist, and uneducated:

The Democratic party – and by that, I mean the party gatekeepers with power to wield media influence, which worked out great for the Brexit vote – are writing off those hardcore racists as an overblown minority that is making more noise than they can translate into votes. But overlooking “regular Joe” moderate voters like the ones who filled my childhood could be our undoing.

My party has gotten cocky, and I fear that condescending mentality will lose us this election. Because for all of his divisive bluster, Trump has gotten one thing right time and again: small-town America is not doing great.

[...]

Where my family lives, factories are closing. Schools don’t have enough money for teachers, and all of Barack Obama’s hope and change hasn’t done much trickling down in the last eight years. And just because the moderate voters living in these areas aren’t showing up at Trump rallies or plastering your Facebook wall with tirades about Muslims doesn’t mean they’re planning to support Obama’s heir apparent come November.
That describes a lot of our voters here. Gov. Howard Dean got this. Democrats at both the state and national levels win big in the cities but too often abandon rural America. Winning there again was what the 50 state strategy was about: if you don't show up to play, you forfeit.

Stanley Greenberg wrote this time last year about the need to reclaim rural America:
These voters, as we shall see, are open to an expansive Democratic economic agenda—to more benefits for child care and higher education, to tax hikes on the wealthy, to investment in infrastructure spending, and to economic policies that lead employers to boost salaries for middle- and working-class Americans, especially women. Yet they are only ready to listen when they think that Democrats understand their deeply held belief that politics has been corrupted and government has failed. Championing reform of government and the political process is the price of admission with these voters. These white working-class and downscale voters are acutely conscious of the growing role of big money in politics and of a government that works for the 1 percent, not them.

It is possible that their cynicism about government is grounded in a fundamental individualism and long-standing American skepticism about intrusive government. And it also may be rooted in a race-conscious aversion to government spending that they believe fosters dependency and idleness—the principal critique of today’s conservative Republicans. If that is the prevailing dynamic, no appeal, no matter how compelling, would bring increased support for government activism.

Yet the white working-class and downscale voters in our surveys do support major parts of a progressive, activist agenda, particularly when a Democratic candidate boldly attacks the role of money and special interests dominating government and aggressively promotes reforms to ensure that average citizens get both their say and their money’s worth.
It is why, Russell Berman wrote in May, "The white, working-class voters that embraced [Hillary Clinton's] message of resilience in 2008 have deserted her for Bernie Sanders in many primaries in 2016." But I offer this not as a knock against Hillary Clinton, but to point out an opportunity.

Forget Trump's bigotry and all the rest. He gets a lot of mileage out of talking about trade. Democrats need to pay attention, as Thomas Frank wrote in March, rural America doesn't give a damn about punditry on trade being noble and "free":
To the remaining 80 or 90% of America, trade means something very different. There’s a video going around on the internet these days that shows a room full of workers at a Carrier air conditioning plant in Indiana being told by an officer of the company that the factory is being moved to Monterrey, Mexico, and that they’re all going to lose their jobs.

As I watched it, I thought of all the arguments over trade that we’ve had in this country since the early 1990s, all the sweet words from our economists about the scientifically proven benevolence of free trade, all the ways in which our newspapers mock people who say that treaties like the North American Free Trade Agreement allow companies to move jobs to Mexico.

Well, here is a video of a company moving its jobs to Mexico, courtesy of Nafta. This is what it looks like. The Carrier executive talks in that familiar and highly professional HR language about the need to “stay competitive” and “the extremely price-sensitive marketplace”. A worker shouts “Fuck you!” at the executive. The executive asks people to please be quiet so he can “share” his “information”. His information about all of them losing their jobs.
For younger voters, the concerns are similar: their prospects are slim and too many politicians focused on the concerns of finance seem out of touch with that. As I wrote yesterday, voters want an economic system that treats them fairly. They'll come out and vote for candidates who seems authentically more interested in making that happen than in their own power. Sending that message will be key to winning down ballot this fall. Are Democrats listening?


Thursday, June 30, 2016

 
People who live in Trump's rickety glass house shouldn't throw stones

by digby

















So right wingers are having a lot of fun mocking President Obama and the leaders of Mexico and Canada for this awkward handshake. It's fair enough. It does look pretty silly.



But they shouldn't get too cocky. The last guy who occupied the White House did this:



And then there's this freakshow:





 
The Heebeejobbies

by digby


Or Heebiejeebies?






















She seems nice.

That reminded me of this one, from last September:



Trump did look at "getting rid of" Muslims and he decided to ban them from immigrating and deport all Syrian refugees. So there's a decent chance he'll "look into" firing all the "heebejobbies" and retired retired veterans to man the borders and the airports. No word on whether it will be ok to hire heebeejeebie or heebiejobbie veterans.  There are a bunch of them.

.
 
Trump QOTD: Too good for the average voter

by digby

























He 's just better than your average voter --- and they know it.
Don't forget when I ran in the primaries, when I was in the primaries, everyone said you can't do that in New Hampshire, you can't do that. You have to go and meet little groups, you have to see --- cause I did these big rallies, 3,4, 5k people would come. And they said, wait a minute, Trump can never make it, because that's not the way you deal with New Hampshire, you have to go into people's living rooms, have dinner, have tea, have a good time.  
I think if they ever saw me sitting in their living rooms they'd lose total respect for me. They'd say, "I've got Trump in my living room, this is weird!" 

The King doesn't visit his subjects in their living rooms. They would lose respect for him.

.
 
A full blown macho bully ticket?

by digby

















Looks like it might come to pass:
Four months after endorsing Mr. Trump, Mr. Christie remains one of the few major figures in the Republican establishment to align himself entirely with Mr. Trump’s candidacy. In public, he has defended Mr. Trump’s freewheeling and sometimes offensive pronouncements, vouching for him even after Mr. Trump attacked a federal judge for his Mexican heritage. (Mr. Christie said he knew from personal experience that Mr. Trump is not a racist.)

Mr. Christie is among those being vetted as Mr. Trump’s possible running mate, according to people briefed on the process, and Mr. Trump has said in interviews that Mr. Christie would have a prominent place in a Trump White House.

Already, Mr. Christie has begun the task of designing a government on Mr. Trump’s behalf. Tapped to lead Mr. Trump’s transition efforts, Mr. Christie has taken a role that some of his allies liken to that of a White House chief of staff, soliciting views on what a potential Trump administration should look like.

Mr. Christie has taken the transition process firmly in hand, according to people familiar with his activities, which have been kept from public view so far. He has enlisted his former top aide in Trenton, Richard H. Bagger, to help manage the transition team.

Behind the scenes, Mr. Christie has prodded his fellow governors and Republican political donors to line up behind a candidate many view with distaste. He has made only modest headway in the last few months: Mr. Trump has struggled badly with fund-raising and Mr. Christie has pleaded with donors, in personal phone calls and fund-raising events, to give him a second look.

A couple of years ago I wrote that I thought the GOP would naturally nominate Christie to go up against Hillary Clinton. He's a sexist bully who revels in going after women. I didn't see Trump coming and he out-bullied Christie to o on to win. But it makes perfect sense to me that they would team up.

If Clinton picks Warren and Trump picks Christie it would be an epic battle of the sexes. Bring it on.

.
 
Trump's credo: "whatever you do, don't apologize"

by digby
















This article by the right wingnut radio host Howie Carr says it all. After doing a racist war whoop in his Trump introduction he joined the candidate on his plane and reported back:
The candidate loosened his tie and offered me some advice.

“Whatever you do, don’t apologize,” he said. “You never hear me apologize, do you? That’s what killed Jimmy the Greek way back. Remember? He was doing okay ’til he said he was sorry.”

Not to worry, I wasn’t going to say I was sorry for mentioning the name of the fake Indian and then doing a few seconds of a war whoop. About an hour earlier, I had been at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, warming up a crowd of maybe 5,000 Trump supporters for Gov. Paul LePage before he introduced The Donald at a weekday rally.

I was speaking extemporaneously when I free-associated Fauxchohantas’ name, and suddenly a war whoop seemed appropriate for the occasion. Moments after I left the stage, one of Trump’s aides handed me his cellphone, with a fresh headline from Politico:

“Boston radio host at Trump event mocks Warren with war whoops.”

The Trump guy smiled. “That didn’t take long.”
Interesting that he referenced sports betting expert and TV commentor Jimmy the Greek who lost his job almost 30 years ago for saying African Americans were "bred" to be better athletes. He apologized but he refused to resign. So they fired him.

Apparently, the campaign "re-boot" doesn't include soft-pedaling the racism. Good to know.

.
 
Obama's epic rant on Trump's "populism"

by digby






"That’s not the measure of populism. That's nativism, or xenophobia, or worse. Or it's just cynicism....Let's just be clear: Somebody who labels 'us versus them' or engaged in rhetoric about how we’re going to look after ourselves and take it to the other guy — that’s not the definition of populism. Sorry.”

Actually it's pretty standard with right wing populism. But the rant is good nonetheless.

.


 
Onward Christian Torturers

by digby

























I wrote about Trump, torture and the evangelicals for Salon this morning:


I wrote earlier in the week about the warm embrace of Donald Trump by 1,000 leaders of the religious right. After meeting with him and praying with him in New York, they decided that he's a sincere man who has the kind of morals and values that qualify him for the most powerful job on earth. All in all it was a very successful meet-up for Trump and portended an alliance that will help him in the fall.

Yesterday Focus on the Family's James Dobson  slightly walked back his comment that Trump had been born again however:
"Only the Lord knows the condition of a person's heart. I can only tell you what I've heard. First, Trump appears to be tender to things of the Spirit. I also hear that Paula White has known Trump for years and that she personally led him to Christ. Do I know that for sure? No. Do I know the details of that alleged conversion? I can't say that I do... if anything, this man is a baby Christian who doesn't have a clue about how believers think, talk and act. 
It turns out that Paula White is a "prosperity gospel" preacher who is not highly regarded by other evangelical leaders:

@saletan @jlupf Paula White is a charlatan and recognized as a heretic by every orthodox Christian, of whatever tribe.
— Russell Moore (@drmoore) June 28, 2016



Dobson is a cunning politician and he had his reasons for trying to make Trump appear to be on the "right path." And he is still backing Trump to the hilt because he says the very thought of Hillary in the White House "haunts" his "nights and days."

But I must admit that even I have been surprised by the fact that Christians, even leaders as cynical as this man, would stick with a man who would say what Trump said on Tuesday night. For all the talk of him "pivoting" to a more presidential style and professional campaign he went back to some of his most depraved and barbaric rhetoric at a rally in Ohio:
They said, "what do you think about waterboarding," I said 'I like it a lot and I don't think it's tough enough." 
We’re living in Medieval times. We have to stop it. We have to be so strong, we have to fight so viciously and so violently, because we’re dealing with violent people, vicious people.

We have laws and the laws say you can't do this , you can't do that, well, a lot, alright? Their laws say you can do anything you want and the more vicious you are the better.

So we can’t do waterboarding but they can do chopping off heads, drowning people in steel cages. They can do whatever they want to do.  
They eat dinner like us. Can you imagine them sitting around the table or wherever they’re eating their dinner, talking about the Americans don’t do waterboarding and yet we chop off heads. They probably think we’re weak, we’re stupid, we don’t know what we’re doing, we have no leadership.  
You know, you have to fight fire with fire.
He didn't tell his favorite gripping tale of General Black Jack Pershing putting down a Muslim uprising by dipping bullets in pigs blood and ordering a mass execution.  But he got big cheers of "USA, USA!!" nonetheless.

I have long wondered why serious Christians would support a man who openly endorses torture, war crimes and cruel and unusual punishment. It seems counter-intuitive since the most famous torture victim in world history is Jesus Christ. But a Washington Post/ABC poll from 2014 showed American evangelical Christians are more supportive of torture than those who are not religious. Sarah Posner reported:
Remarkably, the gap between torture supporters and opponents widens between voters who are Christian and those who are not religious. Just 39% of white evangelicals believe the CIA’s treatment of detainees amounted to torture, with 53% of white non-evangelical Protestants and 45% of white Catholics agreeing with that statement. Among the non-religious, though, 72% said the treatment amounted to torture. (The poll did not break down non-Christian religions in the results.)
But then certain Christian Right leaders have demonstrated a violent streak that may explain their willingness to jump on board the torture train. Take James Dobson himself who was known for many years as an expert on child rearing. His book "The Strong Willed Child" featured a chilling story of animal cruelty.

He discusses his little pet dachshund named Siggy (named for Sigmund Freud) who refused to "yield to his authority" when he returned from a business trip. This is what he did:
"I had seen this defiant mood before, and knew there was only one way to deal with it. The ONLY way to make Siggie obey is to threaten him with destruction. Nothing else works. I turned and went to my closet and got a small belt to help me "reason" with Mr. Freud." 
What developed next is impossible to describe. That tiny dog and I had the most vicious fight ever staged between man and beast. I fought him up one wall and down the other, with both of us scratching and clawing and growling and swinging the belt. I am embarrassed by the memory of the entire scene. Inch by inch I moved him toward the family room and his bed. As a final desperate maneuver, Siggie backed into the corner for one last snarling stand. I eventually got him to bed, only because I outweighed him 200 to 12!"
Dobson's book sold many, many copies to social conservatives over decades. It's still in print and people are still buying it. So, perhaps it's not really that difficult to understand why so many of the people raised with Dobson's philosophy believe torture is fine and think Donald Trump will Make America Great Again. The common thread isn't religion it's authoritarianism.

 

Enforcing norms of reciprocity

by Tom Sullivan

Reducing human decision-making to a binary this or that choice turns humans into Flatlanders with no other dimensions to their thinking. So the rush to explain last week's Brexit vote as simple xenophobia or stupidity is rankling. (Don't get me started on the complaint that people voted against their best interests.) A flush of articles examines the human psychology that led to it.

Time magazine quotes Drew Westen ("The Political Brain"):

“There’s a very legitimate reason to be concerned about immigration,” says psychologist Drew Westen of Emory University. “Unfortunately ISIS has given would-be fence-sitters the permission to vote out of some combination of conscious or unconscious prejudice or bias.” That hardly means that pro-Brexit Britons acted out of racism; it does mean that people who do traffic in racism had more power to influence voters than they would have had in more peaceable times.
Writing for Scientific American, Julia Shaw cautions that the Leave camp mirrored Donald Trump's appeals to fear undercut the brain's ability for rational decision-making:
When pundits argue that people don’t need experts, they are actively trying to push you from using central processing to a peripheral approach. They are asking you to turn off your logic and turn on your emotion, because they know that it is difficult to use logic once fear takes over.

This is also why politicians like Trump and the Brexiters like to say they represent "ordinary people." Of course, "ordinary people" don’t exist. Even if they did, they'd be unlikely to be a billionaire or an old-Etonian who delivers speeches in Latin. Presenters of such arguments are trying to make you feel negative emotions against an imaginary opponent (usually the ‘elites,’ who also don’t actually exist), trying to get you to disregard evidence and logic.
"Very few people are stupid in any meaningful sense, and the British aren’t either," writes Thomas Hills at Psychology Today. Simmering anger at growing inequality gets his vote for why Leave prevailed:
People who are unhappy and angry often don't attend to the long-term consequences of their actions. Crimes of passion, by definition, lack the premeditated thinking-it-through that tends to keep people out of trouble. Still, crimes and emotionally driven actions are often the outcome of a history of emotional dissatisfaction. People don't just get angry one day and stab their partner. They get angry, and then they get angry again, and then they stomp their feet for a while, and then one day they get really angry and they happen to be cutting onions.

Working-class people in places with high inequality have been angry for a long time, perhaps since the dawn of work. The referendum on Brexit in the UK just handed the working class a knife and placed a blow-up-doll of the EU nearby.
But humans seem to have evolved a sophisticated sense of fairness that a growing body of research supports. Perhaps the most satisfying response to Brexit comes from Eric Beinhocker at the Atlantic:
People are what behavioral economists call strong reciprocators and altruistic punishers. Humans are wired for reciprocal cooperation: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine, etc.
Beinhocker recounts experiments using the Ultimatum Game,
... in which one person is given some money (say $100) and asked to offer a share of it to another person (say $20). If the second person accepts the offer, both keep the money, but if he or she rejects it, both get nothing. The rational solution is to accept any offer except $0, as even $1 is better than nothing. But experiments on thousands of subjects around the world show that offers below around 30 percent are typically rejected, thus harming both individuals.
He explains, "People will sacrifice their own self-interest and harm themselves, even severely, to enforce norms of reciprocity." So the Leave voters have done in the U.K. So might Trump voters in the U.S. this fall, Beinhocker warns. (Or the Bernie-or-Bust crowd he leaves unmentioned.) The lack of accountability for Wall Street in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis coupled with unsustainable levels of economic inequality have created a vast, untapped market for enforcing norms of reciprocity.

From the time we are in the Terrible Twos (I want to do it myself!), people exhibit a need not just for cooperation, but some autonomy and control over their fates. Working people feel the economy and capitalism itself is failing them, that they are getting a raw deal and lack control their fates. Offer them less than 30 percent and they'll offer you a middle finger.

There is a reason Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren excite crowds. They have given voice to the complaints of the masses and convinced their respective audiences that they have been heard, that they have an advocate. People who know Hillary Clinton tell us privately she is a good listener. This is her chance to prove it publicly.

Beinhocker concludes:
The reason the Remain camp lost was that they didn’t understand the game they were playing. They thought they were playing a rational game, appealing to people’s pocketbooks and sense of security. They fought their campaign with facts and figures and by highlighting the risks of Brexit. But the voters were playing the Ultimatum Game. Leave understood this and fought with promises to “take back control.” Like the Remain campaign, Hillary Clinton is also playing the rational game, appealing to voters’ economic and security self-interest. Donald Trump is the weapon of the altruistic punishers.
I'm not as sanguine about their altruism as Beinhocker. Clinton and the Democrats risk selling into the wrong market if they're selling rational self interest this fall. That's not what working people are buying. They want an economic system that treats them fairly.


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

 
QOTD: That nice Dr Carson

by digby















What a guy:
[My mother] has Alzheimer’s. She’s not really cognizant of that, which is a good thing because my mother is really a fighter. She probably would have taken a gun and gone out and shot some of the dishonest reporters... One of the reasons that our founders said that our system and our freedom depends on a well-informed and educated populace is because they recognize that if people were not well-informed and well-educated, they can be easily manipulated by a dishonest media and that’s exactly what happens in our society today.
Did anyone ever find out where all that money went?

.
 
What a mexit

by digby














There's too much to read these days on the ramifications of the Brexit vote and it's hard to keep up, but this struck me as a useful encapsulation of why Britain's leadership looking little better than the Trump campaign:
Mr. Johnson is clearly looking to unite the divided Conservative Party behind his own, flamboyant self and to burnish his free-market economic credentials. 
But playing down immigration, Mr. Goodwin said, could create more political trouble. “I worry for senior euroskeptic leaders, because there is a misunderstanding of the vote, and that will feed voter dissatisfaction,” he said, driving many of the voters who chose a British exit to turn away from both mainstream parties and move to the populist right. 
The referendum was unusual, because it pitted a government on one side, “Remain,” against a loose coalition on the other, made up of Conservatives, some Labour legislators and U.K. Independence Party supporters. The Leave side never had to hammer out an agreement on how to proceed if it won, said Tony Travers, a professor of government at the London School of Economics. 
“There was no coherence, because it wasn’t a political party fighting for government, but an odd coalition fighting against something, but with no consistent view of what it was fighting for,” he said. 
Even on the economy, the Leave side was made of free-market economists who believe in no tariffs at all, those who believe in trade deals and protectionists who want to shield the declining working class against globalization, Professor Travers said. 
“And now the government will have to be reformed as if it were representing the Leave side and yet represent both, a one-party government that must reflect the schism in itself,” he said.
 Sometimes the old "enemy of my enemy is my friend" thing creates more problems than it's worth.  If Conservatives had simply taken responsibility for the consequences of their harsh austerity programs and tried to ameliorate some of the discomfort with the rapid cultural and social change of our modern world instead of seeing opportunities to use all that to advance their own agendas they might have avoided all this. Instead, they just seemed to run with it without any plan or vision for how it was going to work out. Let's just hope their ineptitude doesn't result in Britain voting in a Far Right party. That will not end well.

It's quite a fine mess they've gotten themselves into.

And speaking of Boris Johnson, this article by Tina Brown called "Beware Boris Johnson: The Power of a Cunning Clown"  is devastating.

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Trump is soliciting donations from foreign leaders?!?

by digby



Since members of the British Parliament have complained about receiving several fundraising emails from Donald Trump, politicians in several other foreign countries have revealed that they've also been flooded with email requests for donations from Trump.

Members of parliament in Australia, Iceland, Denmark, and Finland have all received the emails, according to news reports and tweets from the politicians.

Tim Watts, an Australian member of parliament, told TPM's John Marshall on Twitter that he has received several fundraising emails from the Trump campaign, and that he believes all Australian members of parliament have gotten the emails as well.

The Trump campaign has also asked members of parliament in Iceland for campaign contributions, according to Icelandic media. At least three Icelandic members of parliament have received a Trump fundraising email, according to the Iceland Monitor. A couple members of parliament told the Morgublaðið newspaper that they had received emails, according to a report in Iceland Magazine.

"This whole matter is very perplexing. The letter left me speechless," Katrín Jakobsdóttir, the head of Iceland's Left Green Party, reportedly said.

And a member of parliament in Denmark, Ida Auken, revealed on Twitter that she had also received a fundraising email from Trump.

Anders Adlercreutz, a member of parliament in Finland, also said on Twitter that Finnish elected officials have received the fundraising pleas from Trump.
Read the whole story. You won't believe it.

Marshall assumes this is a screw up in buying an email list from someone and not knowing how to eliminate the addresses from which it's illegal to solicit donations. Because this is definitely illegal:
The only plausible answer seems to be that the Trump campaign either dealt with a sloppy or disreputable list broker or was so desperate after its horrible May FEC report was released that it went to a broker and just said they wanted every list and they'd sort it all out later. I confess that both scenarios seem a little farfetched. But some version of one of them basically had to happen, unless there's a prankster actually inside the campaign.
Whatever the case, I would just like everyone to remember this the next time you hear Trump caterwauling about Clinton selling out to foreign governments...

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Cleveland should be loads of fun

by digby















People are starting to get a little bit concerned about violence at the RNC in Cleveland. It's not so much that people are afraid of what might happen at the convention center. The Secret Service will have the place locked down tight.  These events require unbelievable security checks so most people feel pretty confident that the worst that could happen would be some fisticuffs between delegates, not a mass shooting event or something like that. But that's not where the concern lies:
It’s the streets themselves where tension will run highest. Cleveland’s protest zone, even in its revised form, will permit demonstrators to roam freely, so long as they don’t block pedestrian or vehicle traffic. That raises the prospect of pro- and anti-Trump groups meeting in the same vicinity. Groups like the anti-LGBT Westboro Baptist Church intend to rally, and a white supremacist group at the center of a violent outburst in California last week has pledged to show up in Cleveland too.

Local pro- and anti-Trump organizers say they have confidence that even their political opponents are planning peaceful rallies, but they’re less certain that outside agitators won’t show up to stir the pot.

Larry Bresler, a leader of the progressive Organize! Ohio, said he speaks regularly with pro-Trump organizer Tim Selaty and is confident they’re both committed to holding peaceful rallies. But the agitation by anti-Trump activists from outside Cleveland who are pledging to stop Trump’s nomination at the convention has heightened tension.

“This is a whole different animal from other political conventions,” he said, noting that typically, most RNC protesters come from the left. “The serious problems that you had in terms of any kind of disruption by and large came from the anarchists. Here you’ve got a big number that are coming from the right this time … it presents a different dynamic.”

Bresler noted that firearms will be allowed in the “event zone” because of Ohio’s status as an open carry state, even though other more mundane items will be banned — from water guns to tape to sleeping bags.
You can't bring a water gun but you can bring a real gun.

This country is fucking insane.

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Benghazi is evergreen

by digby




















Green is the color of money. The Senate Democrats report today:
One Day After Releasing Partisan Report, Republicans Schedule Another Interview

Anti-Clinton Air Base Mechanic Flown to Washington D.C. at Taxpayer Expense for Interview Today

Washington, D.C. (June 29, 2016)—After more than two years and $7 million, and one day after releasing what they claimed would be the “definitive accounting” of the Benghazi attacks, Select Committee Republicans have scheduled yet another interview today with a mechanic from a U.S. air base in Europe who posted allegations on Facebook that planes could have been deployed to Benghazi sooner.

This individual included on his Facebook postings the hashtag “#ifyouvoteforhillaryyouarebeyondstupid.”   
It appears that the hashtag was removed from his Facebook page within the past 24 hours.  He questioned in this Facebook posting whether fighter jets did not provide air support in Benghazi because “we have a corrupt government with disregard to human life, that looks at us as tools on the physical side of their political battles.”
I'll just use one example from the past so you can understand how this works:
Multiple official investigations into Vince Foster's death concluded that he committed suicide.

The first was by the United States Park Police in 1993, in whose jurisdiction the original investigation fell. Because of Foster's position in the White House, the Federal Bureau of Investigation assisted in the investigation.

Investigations by a coroner and Independent Counsel Robert B. Fiske, in a 58-page report released in 1994, also concluded that Foster had committed suicide. Theories of a cover-up still persisted, some of which were promulgated by the Arkansas Project. The speculation and conspiracy theories featured on talk radio and elsewhere caused pain to the Foster family.

After a three-year investigation, Whitewater independent counsel Ken Starr released a report in 1997 also concluding that the death was a suicide.

In addition, two investigations by the U.S. Congress found that Foster committed suicide, making a total of five governmental investigations to come to the same conclusion.
Donald Trump brought it up on the campaign trail 20 years later, saying the matter had never been resolved.

Part of this is a simple kitchen sink strategy to create an atmosphere of scandal. It divides the voters, keeps the press excited and forces the Democrats on to the defensive. Eventually plenty of people who don't follow the details but just hear the endless drumbeat decide on some level that there must be something to it because ... well, people wouldn't be obsessing on it otherwise, amirite?

But these days it really mostly a con game for wingnut welfare recipients. They've all got dollar signs in their eyes.

We'll be hearing BS about Benghazi for a long time to come.



The National Rifle Association’s political arm is launching its first ad campaign of the 2016 presidential race, with a survivor of the terror attack in Benghazi urging viewers to vote for Donald Trump.

The ad, which the NRA Political Victory Fund is backing with more than $2 million, is one of the larger expenditures by an outside group on behalf of the presumptive Republican nominee.

The 30-second spot, entitled “Stop Clinton, Vote Trump,” features Mark Geist, a Marine Corps veteran and security contractor who fought the assault on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012 that claimed four American lives, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

“A lot of people say they’re not going to vote this November because their candidate didn’t win; Well, I know some people who won’t be voting this year either,” Geist says as he walks through a cemetery in the ad. “Hillary as President? No thanks. I served in Benghazi. My friends didn’t make it. They did their part. Do yours.”


 

Yeah, that's the ticket

by digby



I wrote about a possible Clinton Warren ticket for Salon this morning:

One of the more tedious political parlor games in any presidential election is now fully underway --- Vice Presidential speculation. On the Republican side we have the unusual spectacle of far more people running away from the possibility than coyly making themselves available. It seems few people wish to end their political careers this year by diving over a cliff holding hands with Donald Trump.

On the Democratic side the conventional wisdom for months has been that Clinton would pick Virginia Senator Tim Kaine. I’ve never been quite sure why this became the CW but it seems to stem from a conviction that Clinton is so hyper-cautious she would never think outside the box enough to choose someone CW didn’t say was the obvious choice. However, there are others beside Kaine on the list, many of whom would be exciting for different reasons. Choosing a person of color would be an obvious consideration for a multi-racial coalition. Picking someone younger would make sense as well.

But this week we had preview of what it might look like if Clinton decided to defy the CW and instead chose someone who doesn’t “balance” the ticket but rather doubles down on what makes her run risky in the first place --- being the first woman nominee. I’m speaking of Senator Elizabeth Warren, of course, with whom Clinton appeared at an Ohio rally on Monday.

By all accounts it was a very successful event. The Washington Post reported it this way:
If there were any doubt that Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren are the “it” couple of the moment in Democratic politics, it was silenced here Monday when they took the stage together for the first time. The two nerdy wonks and feisty grandmothers, who built rival power centers on the political left but this spring gradually became allies, together electrified a crowd of thousands by locking their arms, punching the air and excoriating Donald Trump.
Warren is on the VP short list for obvious reasons. First is the fact that she represents the progressive wing of the party, which has exerted substantial influence in this campaign through the candidacy of Bernie Sanders and has had some success over the last decade or so pulling the mainstream of the party away from the centrist orientation it adopted during the years of conservative ascendance. This faction would warmly embrace Warren on the national ticket and in this political era that may be more important than “balance” of region or age if Clinton wants to unify the party.

And Warren could also bring something important to the table in the role of “surprising validator,” which is someone from a particular group who can challenge something called “biased assimilation”:
[P]eople assimilate new information in a selective fashion. When people get information that supports what they initially thought, they give it considerable weight. When they get information that undermines their initial beliefs, they tend to dismiss it...This natural human tendency explains why it’s so hard to dislodge false rumors and factual errors. Corrections can even be self-defeating, leading people to stronger commitment to their erroneous beliefs.[...]

But they may reconsider if the information comes from a source they cannot dismiss. People are most likely to find a source credible if they closely identify with it or begin in essential agreement with it. In such cases, their reaction is not, “how predictable and uninformative that someone like that would think something so evil and foolish,” but instead, “if someone like that disagrees with me, maybe I had better rethink.
Clinton has been the subject of malicious right wing smears for more than a quarter century and it has taken a toll. And as I noted yesterday, GOP Super Pacs have successfully deployed a strategy to sow discord on the left in this cycle based upon those pre-existing narratives. Warren, on the other hand, is considered to be a scrupulously honest progressive with a reputation for rectitude. Her enthusiastic endorsement of Clinton’s character is extremely valuable to the Clinton campaign.

There are those who assume that two women at the top of the ticket is too much for the country to handle. After all, it took nearly 230 years for one to even be nominated by a major party for the top job. I thought that myself but after seeing them together I changed my mind. It looked like a natural combination to me. When you think about it, it’s simply illogical to be willing to vote for a woman president but unwilling to vote for a woman to replace her if something happened. That makes no sense. And if you are the type of person who believes that a woman at the top of the ticket needs a man around to keep her steady, why would the VP have to be that person? The administration will surely be filled with men, they always are. In any case, there’s really nothing new about voting for president and VP of the same gender.

Most importantly, the Republicans have nominated a man whose views about everything, but especially women, are nothing short of antediluvian. The prospect of a campaign featuring two strong women standing toe to toe with Trump is just too delicious to pass up. It’s already making him come unglued. So Clinton-Warren may not be a risky ticket at all --- it may be exactly the right one at the right time.

.

 
Trump is running to be a war criminal

by digby















The GOP nominee makes you so proud to be an American:
We're living in Medieval times. We have to stop it. We have to be so strong. We have to fight so viciously and violently because we're dealing with violent people, vicious people. So we can’t do waterboarding but they can do chopping off heads, drowning people in steel cages. They can do whatever they want to do. They eat dinner like us. Can you imagine them sitting around the table or wherever they’re eating their dinner, talking about the Americans don’t do waterboarding and yet we chop off heads. They probably think we’re weak, we’re stupid, we don’t know what we’re doing, we have no leadership. You know, you have to fight fire with fire.
Once more he's implying that he would behead people. That's on top of the waterboarding and the hostage taking and the torturing and killing of their families.

The crowd responded with shouts of "USA! USA!"

I just saw a succession of Republicans on CNN agree that Trump is right about terrorism and that we need a "strong[man]" leader.

I feel sick.

Update:  A new Quinnipiac poll has Trump almost tied with Hillary Clinton, and favored over her 52-39 on the question of who would more effective handling ISIS.

Just because it seems ridiculous to think Donald Trump could become president it doesn't mean it can't happen.

.
 

Just a change of conservative

by Tom Sullivan


Via Paulette Mitchell Lein at Readeatlive blog.

So there were runoffs yesterday in South Carolina. This stuck out:

COLUMBIA — Voters fired a backlash against Statehouse incumbents in runoff elections Tuesday as a string of veteran lawmakers were tossed out of office, including controversial Spartanburg County Republican Sen. Lee Bright, who made gender bathrooms and defense of gun rights a cornerstone of his last months in office.

[...]

Bright, who is also known for his failed bills to track refugees resettling in South Carolina and to limit which bathrooms transgender individuals can use, lost to former state Rep. Scott Talley, a favorite of both Gov. Nikki Haley and the S.C. Chamber of Commerce. Both had been critical of Bright’s over-the-top stances.

“The results are clear: the majority of the people two weeks ago and again tonight wanted new conservative leadership in Columbia,” the Chamber statement said after Bright’s 52 to 48 percent loss to Talley. “The business community looks forward to working with Sen. Scott Talley.”
Librul is still a slur in South Carolina. So obviously, the remedy for over-the-top, xenophobic, gay- and transgender-hating leadership that's bad for the Chamber's bidness isn't a change of heart, just a change of conservative.

Perhaps Spartanburg County has been watching what's happening over the border in "hipster haven" Asheville, NC where local independent bookseller Emoke B’Racz is feeling the economic impact of HB2 — that's HB2 the North Carolina "bathroom bill," not the just-overturned HB2 Texas abortion clinic bill. Malaprop's bookstore is feeling the bite:
Out-of-town visitors are essential to her business. But after HB2, sales slumped in April, and again in May, “at a time when they’re up for other independent bookstores,” says B’Racz. “Our business is off on a day-to-day basis.”

Tourists who couldn’t cancel their trips would walk into Malaprop’s and other shops in town and announce that they weren’t spending money.
If there's one thing South Carolina Republicans understand, it's money.
More than $1 million in hotel bookings have been canceled due to HB2, according to the visitors bureau, and business owners such as B’Racz worry about the vital summer season, which is Christmas in terms of sales for this town of 88,000.

Filmmaker Erin Derham had $1.1 million in pledged funding yanked by a tech company that didn’t want to do business in North Carolina. “It was pretty abrupt,” she says. “Everyone stopped answering my emails.”
Can't have that sort of thing happening in South Carolina, though. I mean, they took down the Confederate flag and all. Once it was clear it was bad for business.


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

 
A Child's Garden of Trump

by digby






















From National Memo, how to talk to your kid about Trump:
Having “the talk” about the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee won’t be easy, but it’s necessary. You want your kids to hear about him from you, not from other kids at school or, worse yet, from the omnipresent and omniperfidious man himself.

Why does the orange man want to build a wall? I thought bragging was bad manners? How come he keeps calling people stupid? That’s not nice!

If you’re a Trump supporter, the talk will be considerably easier, consisting largely of: “HE’S THE MAN WHO’S GONNA MAKE US ALL RICH AND MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN AND SEND SHILLARY CLINTON TO PRISON!!” After which you pat the child on his or her bright-red Trump 2016 hat and get back to blogging about how many people the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee has murdered with her laser eyes.

But if you’re wary of Trump and his rhetoric, you have to gently explain to your child why the man who’s constantly on the television is saying what he’s saying.

To that end, writer, comedian and actor Michael Ian Black has given all Trump-concerned parents a useful tool: “A Child’s First Book of Trump.”

Illustrated by Marc Rosenthal in a style I’d describe as Seussically dystopian, this parody of a children’s book does a lovely and hilarious job of distilling Trump to his bare essence: narcissism.

Black writes: “It’s true! A Trump needs all of our noise to exist. Without chaos it shrinks to a sad, orange disc.”

And, of course: “Don’t respond to its brags, its taunts or its jeers; ignoring a Trump is a Trump’s biggest fear.”
Aaand, of course this happened:
As the book — which comes out July 5 — started getting publicity, I noticed Black getting blowback from a certain swath of Trump supporters. They’re rabid anti-Semites, and Black’s book was discussed on one website under the headline: “Sickening Jew Michael Ian Black Makes Anti-Trump Children’s Book for Stupid Goyim.”

This reaction all but demonstrates why it’s important to talk to kids about the Trump phenomenon. The virulent racism and xenophobia he has stirred up does not exist in a vacuum, and children are almost bound to hear about it or get some sense of what’s happening.

Black believes, and I agree, that people, children or otherwise, should know about the unsavory elements that have rallied behind Trump.

“Online, I had never experienced anti-Semitism before Trump became a candidate for the presidency,” Black said. “But suddenly, I and other people like me, meaning Jews, are experiencing that on a daily basis. I don’t know what that says.”

He continued: “My feeling is if you want to support Trump, fine, but understand who you’re in bed with. These are the people you’re throwing in your lot with. If these are the people who support the candidate you support, at least take a moment and ask yourself why, and make all decisions accordingly.”

And for those who bristle at Trump’s bluster, consider having a chat with your kids.
This kind of a joke but the truth is that kids are being harassed over this, with high schools building fake "walls" and kids in the bleachers shouting "illegal" at rivals which have immigrants (or "immigrant looking" whatever that is) on the team. Little kids are being trrorized by bullies saying they're going to be deported or calling them terrorists. It's ugly.

Sadly, the same thing has apparently been unleashed in full force in Britain in the wake of Brexit.

The human species is tragically flawed.



.
 
What could go wrong?

by digby















I assume they will be armed with something that has a little more pop this time:
A group of white nationalists and skinheads who held a rally in Sacramento, Calif., over the weekend where at least five people were stabbed plans to show up at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next month to "make sure that the Donald Trump supporters are defended."

The violent clash at the California state Capitol accentuates concerns about the RNC, with political tensions high and thousands of pro- and anti-Trump protesters expected to descend on Cleveland.

"I think everybody is concerned about the potential for violence at the convention," said Ryan Lenz, senior writer for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremists and hate groups.

Sunday's mayhem in Sacramento began as the white nationalist group Traditionalist Worker Party, along with the Golden State Skinheads, were setting up for a state Capitol rally the group characterized as a response to aggression against supporters of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Trump.

Brawls quickly erupted between the group of fewer than 30 skinheads and the estimated hundreds of anti-fascist protesters that left at least 10 people injured. Police have made no arrests.

Traditionalist Worker Party spokesman Matt Parrott, who blamed the anti-fascists for the riot, said about 30 members of his group would come to Cleveland.

"We're essentially just going to show up and make sure that the Donald Trump supporters are defended from the leftist thugs," he said.

This is his base.

.
 
One down, 7,322 to go

by digby




Sane people have known this for years of course. But that didn't stop the Republicans from going there and it won't stop them in the future. This is one of their favorite ploys to try to take down Clinton and it never works.

They really should try something different. Acting like adults for instance. They could even give actual governing a try.

By the way, there is such a thing as poetic justice in this world. The fall of Ken Starr is a cautionary tale. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.



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Racism? Not a problem

by digby

This new Pew poll on race relations is just heartbreaking:



Now why do you suppose they think that?




Among whites, 28% say Obama has made progress toward improving race relations and 24% say he has tried but failed to make progress. But a substantial share of whites (32%) say Obama has made race relations worse. 

This is driven largely by the views of white Republicans, 63% of whom say Obama has made race relations worse (compared with just 5% of white Democrats).


I know we're supposed to take pity on these people because they've had a rough time of it but really ... this is just unacceptable.



 
Trump's new hire didn't like him very much

by digby

It's been reported that poor Donald is having a hard time recruiting anyone to work for him. It seems that most Republican political professionals figure he'd be poison for their careers, just as he's poison for the party and the country and the world.

But there's always somebody who really needs a job or who doesn't really have any scruples. So it looks as if Trump finally landed a communications director. Think Progress reports:
Jason Miller, a senior communications adviser for Ted Cruz, signed up to be Trump’s communications director.

Before Miller signed on, however, he had some cleaning up to do. Miller deleted dozens of harshly anti-Trump tweets from his Twitter account, many of them authored just a few weeks ago.

ThinkProgress was able to recover cached versions of Miller’s deleted anti-Trump tweets.

Any member of a rival’s staff is likely to have some negative things to say about their opponents. But Miller’s tweets about Trump frequently drip with contempt and disgust.

Here's a small sample, more at the link:












The sad thing is that I doubt he'll get paid in full ...

.


 
Reboot delayed again

by digby


"She made up her heritage, which I think is racist. I think she's a racist, actually because what she did was very racist," Trump said in a phone interview.  
She used the fact that she was Native American to advance her career. Elizabeth Warren is a total fraud. I know it. Other people who work with her know it. Elizabeth Warren is a total fraud," Trump said. 
In the phone interview Trump re-upped his "Pocohontas" nickname for the Massachusetts senator, which some in the party have cautioned him against using in his attempt to appeal to a wider swath of the electorate. 
"I do what I do. I've listened to this for a long time - at the beginning of the primaries, ' he should do this, he should do that." I won in a landslide," Trump said.
The real estate mogul added that he hopes Clinton chooses Warren as her running mate, saying he would "speak very openly about her if she is."
Tony Soprano threats again...

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Amateur GOP ratfucking 2016

by digby



















I wrote about the latest pathetic attempt for Salon this morning:

It’s standard operating procedure for political campaigns to try to poach votes from their rivals by appropriating their rhetoric and repurposing it to sell their own philosophy. Ronald Reagan springs to mind as one of the best at that game, subtly appropriating liberal icons to use for his own purposes and driving a wedge between the Democratic rank and file and their party. He would blatantly steal from FDR, for instance, using phrases like "this generation has a rendezvous with destiny” for his own right wing purposes. In later years, the Republicans tried to appropriate the martyred Democratic president John F Kennedy as a fellow cold war hawk leading to the famous vice presidential debate exchange between Dan Quayle and Lloyd Bentson who zinged the callow Quayle with the famous line, “I knew John Kennedy, John Kennedy was a friend of mine. And you sir are no John Kennedy.”

Back in the 90s, the Republicans created a scandalmongering cottage industry mostly designed to titillate a gullible press corps but the assumption was always that they were one scandal away from the Democratic rank and file turning on President Clinton and voting him out of office after the first term or, when that didn’t work, help push him out of office before the second one was done. This led to a strategy to throw the kitchen sink at the White House to create what they called “Clinton fatigue” the idea that voters would get so sick of scandals that they didn’t care anymore if they were true and just wanted them to end. It was not very successful. The more they pushed, and the more hysterical the media became, the more the people dug in their heels. The week they voted to impeach him Gallup reported:
Despite the fact that he is only the second President in U.S. history to be impeached by the House of Representatives, President Bill Clinton received a 73% job approval rating from the American public this past weekend, the highest rating of his administration, and one of the higher job approval ratings given any president since the mid-1960s.
On the day he left office he had a 66% job approval rating.

The point of this is that while it often seems like a good idea for the opposing party to try to sow discord between a candidate and his or her base (or take advantage of discord that already exists) it doesn’t always work out the way they plan it. Indeed, Democrats have become very good at seeing when they’re being manipulated by ever-so-clever Republican operatives. But with a Clinton back on the scene, it appears that like moths to a flame, Republicans just can’t help themselves.

Last May Ashley Parker and Nick Corasaniti of the New York Times reported that the GOP was executing an elaborate social media strategy to make the case that Hillary Clinton was selling out the left wing of the Democratic Party. They sent out tweets and Facebook posts which were then shared by thousands of Democrats in their circles without realizing they were generated by Republicans. The program was run by the right wing PAC America Rising’s Matt Rhoades, Mitt Romney’s campaign manager who took the lesson from his own experience that the best way to weaken a general election candidate was for their own base to attack relentlessly during the primaries, as had happened to Romney in 2012. He was not alone. Karl Rove’s group American Crossroads created digital content with the same intention: to portray Clinton as corrupt and untrustworthy and aim it from her left:
Steven Law, president of American Crossroads, said the goal was simply to erode what should be her natural core of support. 
“It can diminish enthusiasm for Hillary among the base over time,” he said. “And if you diminish enthusiasm, lukewarm support can translate into lackluster fund-raising and perhaps diminished turnout down the road.
Both groups used sophisticated micro-targeting:
“You might start looking at union households. You might start looking at Bernie Sanders’s core of support,” Mr. Moffatt said, referring to Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. 
Mr. Law said members of his staff at American Crossroads had easily been able to inhabit the liberal role, despite being fervent Republicans. “We wear these little bracelets — W.W.E.W.D.,” Mr. Law joked, referring to “What would Elizabeth Warren do?”

At that point they had no idea how the Sanders campaign would catch fire on its own or that they might have been better off using some of that clever technological know-how to tend to their own back yard. If they had kept their eyes on the prize and tried some of these tricks on Donald Trump they might have spared themselves the embarrassment they’re facing today.

But they don’t seem to have learned their lesson, at least the RNC hasn’t. As my colleague Sean Illing reported yesterday, a strategy memo has leaked in which it’s revealed that the GOP is planning to attack Clinton’s choice for Vice President, you guessed it, “from the left.” They plan to “drive wedges” between the top contenders and “traditional left-wing constituencies” and frame the choice as “an insult to the large deep base of Sanders supporters.” Unfortunately, they’re a little bit late. As Illing pointed out, Sanders supporters are already moving to Clinton in large numbers if nothing else out of terror at the prospect of the GOP nominee.

You would have thought that Clinton surviving these sorts of attacks 20 years ago and coming out more popular than ever would have shown them that this strategy just doesn’t work very well. Perhaps if they spent more time working with their own extremist base and less time trying to manipulate the Democratic base they might have a little bit more luck actually winning the presidency.


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