John Delaney, Tim Ryan, and Other Tools

Before getting into all the things I’d like to say to John Delaney and Tim Ryan just before leaving them alone in a cold and desolate wilderness with no matches or shoes, some general comments on last night’s debate:

One, MSNBC did a much better job moderating the June debate. CNN seems to think it was moderating America’s Ninja Warrior; it was more yelling and drama than substance. I agree with Joshua Holland, Bad moderation and a flood of conservative talking points made Tuesday’s Dem debate almost unwatchable.

The Vox editorial team even listed the Republican Party as one of the night’s winners:

If you were Donald Trump or another Republican lawmaker running for reelection in 2020, you probably had a good time watching Tuesday night’s debate. Several of the major issues were framed by the moderators in terms Republicans would love: Will you take private insurance from Americans to give them Medicare-for-all? Will you raise taxes on the middle class to do it? Will you decriminalize illegal border crossings and give unauthorized immigrants free health care? Are Democrats going too far to the left?

The extremely tight time limits, in which candidates could barely begin speaking before Jake Tapper cut them off, favored talking points over substance. The entire evening, from the razz-ma-tazz, rah rah patriotism introduction to the end, seemed more like a frantic game show than a debate. Clearly, CNN was going for “optics,” for entertainment, not for informing the public.

See also CNN’s Debate Questions Were for Losers and Attack of the Mini-Bidens, both at Slate.

I’m not looking forward to what they present tonight except to predict Jake Tapper will go easier on Joe Biden than he did on Liz Warren. Just watch. Fortunately Warren was savvy enough to be one of the evening’s winners, in spite of being set up for an ambush. The lady has skills. Bernie Sanders also did a bit better than in the first debate, I thought.

Now, on to Delaney and Ryan. Which is not to say I don’t have equally low opinions of John Hickenlooper and Steve Bullock, but they didn’t piss me off as much last night as Delaney and Ryan. Here is Delaney’s opening statement:

DELANEY: Folks, we have a choice. We can go down the road that Senator Sanders and Senator Warren want to take us, which is with bad policies like Medicare for all, free everything and impossible promises that will turn off independent voters and get Trump re-elected. That’s what happened with McGovern. That’s what happened with Mondale. That’s what happened with Dukakis. Or we can nominate someone with new ideas to create universal health care for every American with choice, someone who wants to unify our country and grow the economy and create jobs everywhere. And then we win the White House.

Got that? He’s channeling the fears of all Third Way – Democratic Leadership Council – neoliberal and “centrist” Democrats who turned FDR’s Democratic party into Republican Party Lite. We can’t have single payer health care because George McGovern lost to Richard Nixon in bleeping 1972.

Delaney was called out last week in a Paul Waldman column for perpetrating Republican talking points about Medicare for All. “We should have universal health care, but it shouldn’t be the kind of health care that kicks 150 million Americans off their health care,” Delaney had said. What he means is that people with employer-based health insurance love their health insurance and want to keep it. But it sounds as if he’s saying Medicare for All would take health insurance away from people. Waldman wrote,

The generous interpretation of this line is that it’s warning about widespread disruption; the other interpretation is that it’s meant to stoke the fear that if you now have coverage and single payer passes, you could be left with no insurance at all, which is just false. If we passed single payer, you’d move from your current plan to a different plan, one that depending on how it’s constructed would probably offer as good or better coverage at a lower cost.

Delaney was back on the same point last night —

DELANEY: Well, I’m right about this. We can create a universal health care system to give everyone basic health care for free, and I have a proposal to do it. But we don’t have to go around and be the party of subtraction, and telling half the country, who has private health insurance, that their health insurance is illegal. My dad, the union electrician, loved the health care he got from the IBEW. He would never want someone to take that away. …

…SANDERS: The fact of the matter is, tens of millions of people lose their health insurance every single year when they change jobs or their employer changes that insurance. If you want stability in the health care system, if you want a system which gives you freedom of choice with regard to a doctor or a hospital, which is a system which will not bankrupt you, the answer is to get rid of the profiteering of the drug companies…

TAPPER: Thank you, Senator.

SANDERS: … and the insurance companies, move to Medicare for all.


TAPPER: Congressman Delaney?

DELANEY: But now he’s talking about a different issue. What I’m talking about is really simple. We should deal with the tragedy of the (ph) uninsured and give everyone health care as a right. But why do we got to be the party of taking something away from people?

Delaney kept evoking union workers and reminding listeners his dear old dad loved his benefits. Well, my dad was a union guy, too, and those benefits were great for the family and for my parents in their old age. But what about the enormous majority of U.S. employees who are not unionized? And what happens to benefits when factories close or workers are laid off? Which happens a lot.

Tim Ryan also wanted everyone to know that union workers want to keep their union benefits.

RYAN: So here we are in Detroit, home of the United Auto workers. We have all our union friends here tonight. This plan that’s being offered by Senator Warren and Senator Sanders will tell those Union members who gave away wages in order to get good healthcare that they’re going to lose their healthcare because Washington’s going to come in and tell them they got a better plan.

As Jonathan Tasini wrote on Facebook, in recent decades unions have had to make major concessions on wages and working conditions in order to keep the health benefits. This is, Tasini says, a big reason for the meager raises workers have had to accept. An argument could be made that de-coupling health care from employment would be good for unions and workers.

Delaney’s other lie, which he has told before, is that Medicare for All would cause widespread hospital closings.

DELANEY: Listen, his math is wrong. That’s all I’m saying — that his math is wrong, it’s been well-documented that if all the bills were paid at Medicare rate, which is specifically — I think it’s in section 1,200 of their bill, then many hospitals in this country would close.

I’ve been going around rural America, and I ask rural hospital administrators one question, “If all your bills were paid at the Medicare rate last year, what would happen?”

And they all look at me and say, “We would close.”

But the question is, why do we have to be so extreme? Why can’t we just give everyone health care as a right, and allow them to have choice?

Delaney got Four Pinnochios from the Washington Post for a similar statement earlier this month. The problem with Delaney’s claim is that it ignores one of the primary reason hospitals are closing now, which is not because of Medicare rates, but because of the number of people who are treated and can pay nothing. This is a widespread problem in all impoverished rural areas, but hospitals in states that did not expand Medicaid are especially hard hit.

Hospitals in rural areas are losing money and sometimes closing down, taking away jobs and limiting health care options for some of the nation’s poorest citizens, according to a study published earlier this week by the Pittsburg Morning Sun and GateHouse Media. And the decision to reject a key part of Obamacare by Republican politicians in red states is exacerbating the problem.

The hospital closure crisis is most pronounced in states that have declined Medicaid expansion, the policy in the Affordable Care Act that offers coverage for individuals whose income is at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty line. Of the 106 rural hospitals that have shut down since 2010, 77 were located in states that hadn’t expanded Medicaid, the study found.

The dirty secret behind health care costs is that health insurance premiums and medical bills are jacked up to cover the costs of non-paying patients. So those who do pay are shelling out a hefty surcharge to keep the system afloat. Delaney’s argument assumes that hospitals would be deprived of their surcharges, but if treatment for all patients were compensated, the equation changes considerably.

To Delaney’s question, why do we have to be so extreme? Why can’t we just give everyone health care as a right, and allow them to have choice? —  rights one cannot exercise aren’t rights at all. If we call health care a “right” but don’t provide a means for people to obtain it, what’s the point? Delaney’s health care position is, IMO, no more or less pie-in-the-sky than Bernie Sanders’s.

Delaney sees himself as the adult in the room on a major issue — health care — for the Democratic primary debate. He has a universal health care plan, though it is more limited in benefits and scope than single payer plans. (He is also, notably, still heavily invested in the health care industry; about $3.2 million of his $280 million fortune comes from the health care sector, per Sludge.)

Now, let’s switch back to Ryan:

RYAN: Now in this discussion already tonight we’ve talked about taking private health insurance away from union members in the industrial Midwest, we’ve talked about decriminalizing the border, and we’ve talked about giving free healthcare to undocumented workers when so many Americans are struggling to pay for their healthcare.

In the post-debate spin room, Ryan could be heard repeating the charge that undocumented workers shouldn’t be getting “free” health care while citizens have to work to earn it. But the people proposing that undocumented workers should be able to receive health care are proposing some form of single-payer system, meaning that we are de-coupling employment and health insurance and instead paying for health care through taxes. And undocumented workers pay a ton of taxes — billions in taxes, it says here. Undocumented workers wouldn’t be getting anything “free” that citizens also aren’t getting “free.”

And the fact is that undocumented workers are going to get health care from the health care system — not good, preventative care, but they’ll be taken to trauma centers when they are injured on construction sites. And are we going to let women in labor give birth on the streets? Are we going to leave undocumented children unvaccinated (bad idea) or babies sick with flu untreated? I doubt that, which takes us back to the costs of uncompensated care. Ryan (or maybe it was Delaney) kept blathering that undocumented people can just pay for health care, but people living on subsistence wages are not in a position to do that. Do we let them die? Do we let their children die?

Of course, this touches on the undocumented immigrants issue and the need for comprehensive reform that would stop forcing law-abiding people into hiding. It shouldn’t be that hard for a person who has been living and workng here to obtain some kind of official status. And then, voila! They are documented! Why is that so hard? Why is forcing people to stay underground better?

It wasn’t just Ryan and Delaney being stupid last night. Paul Waldman wrote this today:

Did you know that if liberals get their way and pass Medicare For All, you’ll have to actually pay for health coverage for the first time, when obviously everyone now gets it for free?

That was what you would have thought if you knew nothing about health care and listened to the way Jake Tapper of CNN framed the question during the Democratic presidential candidate debate on Tuesday night. And it showed just how difficult it is to have a meaningful, informative debate about a complex policy issue when the media are so determined to focus on squabbling and “newsworthy” moments.

Those moments usually happen when a candidate says something that they’ll be criticized for, often when their comments are taken out of context. So in the debate, Tapper relentlessly demanded to know whether taxes could increase for the middle class if health care reform was passed, as though that is the only real question worth considering. He asked Elizabeth Warren if she’d have to raise taxes, twice. He asked Pete Buttigieg, also twice. He asked Beto O’Rourke.

Seriously obnoxious. Tapper should be in the cold, desolate wilderness also. No shoes, no matches, no signal, not even a granola bar. Tapper kept going to Delaney to get him to challenge the front runners, and on a split screen Delaney would smirk and grimmace and smile the fake smile of someone who has been told to smile on television but doesn’t really want to. I do not like him. He needs to go away.

And after all the stupid shit Ryan said yesterday? What is he being called out for today in our dear mass media? He didn’t put his hand over his heart for the national anthem. Argh.

July 30, 2019 – Detroit, Michigan, United States: CNN Democratic Presidential Debate Detroit, Michigan 2019. L to R: Candidate author Marianne Williamson, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, Minnesota US Sen. Amy Klobuchar South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Vermont US Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts US Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock. (John Nowak / CNN / Polaris)


The Democratic Split on Health Care

Countries that provide universal health care for citizens

The map shows (in green) countries that provide universal health care for its citizens. It’s from 2012, but I assume it’s still accurate. We are reminded that universal health care is not some pie-in-the-sky idea but is something many countries have accomplished. It’s also important to remember that this goal has been achieved in many different ways. I believe no two nations provide health care in exactly the same way. Many roads do get to the same place.

Currently the Democrats are split on two plans, Medicare for All — creating one single-payer system built on Medicare — and Medicare as a public option, sometimes called “Medicare for America.” Very basically, Medicare for All would replace the entire U.S. health insurance system with a Medicare-type program in which the government pays most medical bills directly. Medicare as a public option would allow people to keep their current insurance, including employee-based insurance, if they want that and their employers continue to provide it. Buying into Medicare would be a voluntary option, with substantial subsidies provided for lower- and middle-income people.

Maybe because I’m already on the standard Medicare for Geezers, I am not deeply and personally invested in one approach over the other. I agree with most progressives that Medicare for All, or something along those lines, is where we want to be. But I’ve also written that Medicare as a public option probably would be easier to sell to the public and would get us to the same place eventually.  See “The Many Roads to Universal Health Care” for those arguments.

Polling on these options has been confusing. An American Barometer Survey (whatever that is) came out last year saying that 70 percent of Americans support Medicare for All. But hold on, writes Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight. More recent polling shows that the public option approach is much more popular than Medicare for All.

90 percent of Democrats thought a plan that provided for a public option was a good idea, as compared to 64 percent who supported a Sanders-style Medicare for All plan that would replace private health insurance. The popularity of the public option also carries over to independent voters: 70 percent support it, as compared to 39 percent for Medicare for All.

It’s possible that some of the positive polling for Medicare for All is muddied by confusion about what it means. See Eric Levitz, Polls: Voters Want Medicare for All — But Don’t Know What It Is.

A pair of new surveys confirm that the single-payer movement’s signature rallying cry is both broadly popular and widely misunderstood. In polls conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Navigator Research, majorities of the public endorse the concept of “Medicare for All,” but evince ignorance about what such a policy would actually entail.

In Kaiser’s polling, most voters said that in a Medicare for All system, Americans would retain the option of keeping their current private insurance plans, and the obligation to pay premiums, co-pays, and deductibles.

In other words, what a lot of people polled are approving as Medicare for All is really the “public option” plan, not the single payer plan. Various polls also suggest that many people who really do prefer the single payer plan would be okay with the public option plan. And please do read all of Leavitz’s column; it’s from just last month and very informative.

Since either approach is popular with Democratic voters, it ought to be the case that Democratic presidential candidates who have chosen sides on this issue can advocate for one without trashing the other. But of course that’s not what is happening. “Centrist” Democratic candidates are using Republican talking points to trash Medicare for All. Paul Waldman writes,

The problem with what’s happening now is that some advocates of the public option approach are sounding a lot like, well, Republicans.

Their most common talking point when defending their plan is some variation of “We can’t kick 150 million people off their insurance,” referring to the number of people who are covered by employer plans:

    • “We should have universal health care, but it shouldn’t be the kind of health care that kicks 150 million Americans off their health care,” says John Delaney.
    • Beto O’Rourke says Medicare-for-all “would force 180 million Americans off their insurance.”
    • “I am simply concerned about kicking half of America off their health insurance within four years, which is what [Medicare-for-all] would do,” says Amy Klobuchar.

The generous interpretation of this line is that it’s warning about widespread disruption; the other interpretation is that it’s meant to stoke the fear that if you now have coverage and single payer passes, you could be left with no insurance at all, which is just false. If we passed single payer, you’d move from your current plan to a different plan, one that depending on how it’s constructed would probably offer as good or better coverage at a lower cost.

The further danger is that that kind of talk inevitably leads one toward the promise that got Barack Obama into such trouble, “If you like your plan, you can keep it.” In fact, here’s O’Rourke saying that under his plan, “For those who have private, employer-sponsored insurance or members of unions who have fought for health care plans … they’ll be able to keep that.” And here’s Biden saying much the same thing: “If you like your health care plan, your employer-based plan, you can keep it. If in fact you have private insurance, you can keep it.”

Haven’t they learned anything?

Of course not. The issue is, of course, that the public option plan wouldn’t directly cause you to lose your employee or private health insurance, but you could still lose it in the same ways people lose insurance now; for example, if you employer simply chooses to stop offering the plan you like as an employee benefit. Which happens all the time.

Waldman is also critical of a campaign ad Joe Biden released last week showing a woman thanking her union for fighting for her health insurance plan. “Apart from the praise of the Affordable Care Act, this video could almost have been scripted by the Republican National Committee, with its paeans to private health insurance,” Waldman writes. Health care is framed as something one earns through decades of hard work, not as a universal right.

Stuff like this reinforces my opinion that Biden is not the guy we want as the nominee. Of course I’ll vote for him if he is, but in the long run he’s going to hurt the future of the Democratic Party — by keeping it stuck in the mushy past — more than help it.

I do also run into people who are completely committed to Medicare for All and consider the public option route a betrayal. I respect that opinion, but at this point I think the one stand all Democrats should be taking is that health care is a universal right, period, not something that it’s okay to withhold from people who haven’t “earned” it. Beyond that, I can live with differences of opinion as to  how that will be achieved.

Schrödinger’s Impeachment Inquiry

The House Judiciary Committee appears to have begun an impeachment inquiry yesterday.

The House Judiciary Committee on Friday asked a federal judge to unseal grand jury secrets related to Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation, using the court filing to declare that lawmakers have already in effect launched an impeachment investigation of President Trump.

In a legal maneuver that carries significant political overtones, the committee told a judge that it needs access to the grand jury evidence collected by Mr. Mueller as special counsel — such as witness testimony — because it is “investigating whether to recommend articles of impeachment” against the president.

Or, maybe not. What should have been a bombshell news story was muted by thick fog of ambiguity:

Members of the committee majority, led by Chairman Jerry Nadler, crowded together in front of a lectern to unveil their next steps following the testimony Wednesday of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller. What began as an announcement of high-profile lawsuits building on that testimony quickly devolved into a confused back-and-forth with reporters as Nadler and his colleagues repeatedly insisted they were not beginning impeachment proceedings before admitting that, yes, they were basically doing just that.

“Impeachment isn’t a binary thing,” argued Representative Mary Gay Scanlon, the committee’s vice chair. “What we’ve been saying, what we’ve been doing, is starting a process. We’re engaging in an investigation to see if we should recommend articles of impeachment … We started it some months ago, in some ways.”

“The committee is exercising its authority to investigate all of these scandals and to decide what to do about them, which could include articles of impeachment,” said Nadler—though he also emphasized that this wasn’t the same as an impeachment inquiry: “If an impeachment inquiry is if you’re considering only impeachment, that’s not what we’re doing.”

Then, to confound any faint whisp of certitude that might have taken hold after that exchange, four members of the House Judiciary Committee explained in The Atlantic Why We’re Moving Forward With Impeachment.

Despite assertions to the contrary by the president and his allies, the special counsel’s report and testimony are not the end of our investigations. We have now filed a petition in court to obtain the grand-jury documents referenced in the special counsel’s report. In that filing, we have made clear that we will utilize our Article I powers to obtain the additional underlying evidence, as well as enforce subpoenas for key witness testimony, and broaden our investigations to include conflicts of interest and financial misconduct….

…As members of the House Judiciary Committee, we understand the gravity of this moment that we find ourselves in. We wake up every morning with the understanding of the oath that binds us as members of Congress, and the trust that our constituents placed in us to uphold that oath. We will move forward with the impeachment process. Our investigation will seriously examine all the evidence as we consider whether to bring articles of impeachment or other remedies under our Article I powers.

So, call it an impeachment or other remedy inquiry. Charles Pierce believes that Nancy Pelosi is sorta kinda on board.

Nadler shrewdly roped in the Department of Justice under William Barr by telling the court that DOJ and White House stonewalling left him no other choice than to ask formally for the grand jury material. And it becomes even more intriguing with this wink-and-nod routine from Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Democrats are seeking to enforce subpoenas in court for certain documents in their investigation, as well as testimony from witnesses, all of which the administration has not complied with. This includes requests for six years of the president’s tax returns. “Everybody has the liberty and the luxury to espouse their own position and to criticize me for trying to go down the path in the most determined, positive way,” she said. “Again, their advocacy for impeachment only gives me leverage.”

In combination, Nadler’s motion and Pelosi’s remarks strike me as the result of serious re-negotiations within the Democratic House caucus. Pelosi seems to have freed up Nadler to move on the grand jury material. Baby steps, people, but ones that are starting to echo.

Still, this is all pretty mushy. Quinta Jurecic of Lawfare and The Atlantic writes,

The basic message is that the movers and shakers among the House Democrats believe the president to be a criminal who is disloyal to his country and abusive of his office, and yet somehow his conduct is not quite bad enough to justify the constitutional remedy designed to address the problem posed by such a leader. Pelosi and Schiff have both argued that impeachment proceedings are too dire a remedy to use in a situation in which the Senate would fail to convict an impeached president. But this is a separate argument, and to some extent one at cross-purposes, from their hints that Trump’s actions so far just don’t rise to a level that warrants impeachment. There may be a clear, forceful line of logic somewhere in here, but the House leadership has instead dabbled in a range of arguments while committing to none.

Friday’s House Judiciary Committee press conference flipped that dynamic on its head. The committee is moving toward impeachment proceedings—or, perhaps, has already begun them—with the same confusion that characterizes Pelosi’s opposition to it.

There is solid reason to believe that by invoking impeachment, the House Judiciary Committee will be on stronger legal ground to prevail in court to get the documents it wants. “In this sense, a press conference establishing that the committee is considering whether to bring articles of impeachment is a necessary step in beginning this litigation,” Jurecic writes. And Pelosi appears to have signed off on the language used in the press conference. “By fudging whether an inquiry actually exists or not, the committee might make it more difficult for that inquiry to be turned against the Democrats. Thus have Pelosi and Nadler split the baby,” said Jurecic.

However, all this fudging does mute the moral weight of the committee’s act. “The trouble with bringing urgent moral questions down to the level of political horse-trading is that the urgency dissolves, and with it the sense of moral crisis that House Democrats worked so hard over the course of Mueller’s testimony to build up,” Jurecic said.

Paul Thorton wrote in the Los Angeles Times,

At almost any other time in American history, a decorated Marine with a highly distinguished legal and law enforcement career vouching for his 400-page report detailing a president’s impeachment-worthy conduct would be greeted with (at least) deference or (at best) bipartisan gratitude.

But Robert S. Mueller III had the misfortune of explaining his life’s most important investigation to a bunch of Republicans eager to engage in character assassination on behalf of the the most amoral president in U.S. history, and in front of a media that valued “optics” just as much as the details of Mueller’s report.

Re “optics”: Do see the Columbia Journalism Review.



Yesterday the Senate Intelligence Committee released the first volume of its bipartisan report on Russian election interference. Most of it was redacted, I understand. But in between the solid black boxes some information did come to light.

The key part of the report shows that it’s very likely all 50 states were targeted by Russian hackers. That doesn’t meant Moscow got into all of the states’ systems, just that it infiltrated at least one system in that state. The report did not find any evidence that hackers were able to change votes.

But because there was no discernible pattern, intelligence professionals and other US officials believe Russia likely aimed to gain access to any systems it could to better understand what it all looks like.

“What it mostly looked like to us was reconnaissance,” Michael Daniel, a top cybersecurity official at the White House during the Obama administration, told the committee in 2017. “I would have characterized it at the time as sort of conducting the reconnaissance to do the network mapping, to do the topology mapping so that you could actually understand the network, establish a presence so you could come back later and actually execute an operation.”

In other words, 2016 was just a test run. But Charles Pierce has questions:

Remember when we were all told that it was only a couple of precincts, then a couple of cities, then a couple of states? Remember when it was just data? Now, as far as we can read between the blacked-out lines, we are being asked to believe that the Russian ratfckers could have deleted “voter data,” that they “were in a position” to jack around with it, but, having achieved this monumental intelligence triumph, they didn’t do anything with it? Does that dog even look like it’s hunting any more?

Oh, who knows? What I do know is that this Russian election interference thing really is a big bleeping deal, and I’ve been saying that since 2016. And, of course, Republicans are shutting down any attempt to add protections to the voting systems. The most recent bills that Mitch McConnell killed in the Senate would have mandated the use of backup paper ballots and other technical sageguards to election systems; required campaigns to report any hacking or other foreign interference to federal authorities; and provided for protecting personal accounts and devices of senators and some staffers from hacking.

These seem fairly benign to me. But Mitch was having none of it, because fair elections are partisan.

But McConnell said Democrats were just trying to make political hay on the heels of the Mueller testimony in their attempt to bring up a House bill that would mandate the use of paper ballots in states’ election systems and provide additional funding to the federal, nonpartisan Election Assistance Commission.

“This is partisan legislation from the Democratic House of Representatives,” McConnell said, noting that the bill garnered just one GOP vote in that chamber and was designed to give Democrats the political upper-hand.

“It’s very important that we maintain the integrity and security of our elections in our country,” the GOP leader said, but he added, “any Washington involvement in that task needs to be undertaken with extreme care, extreme care and on a thoroughly bipartisan basis. Obviously this legislation is not that. It’s just a highly partisan bill from the same folks who spent two years hyping up a conspiracy theory about President Trump and Russia.”

Obviously, paper has a well-known liberal bias. Meanwhile, the Right Wing Noise Machine is hyping up a conspiracy theory that it was Hillary Clinton who colluded with Russians, apparently so … that she would lose?

From Vox:

Put briefly, Hannity’s theory is that the Steele dossier — an unverified document prepared by former British spy Christopher Steele (whose work on behalf of Fusion GPS was funded in part by the Clinton campaign) that makes a number of salacious, unproven claims about the Trump campaign’s dealings with people in the sphere of the Kremlin during the 2016 campaign — contains kernels of misinformation that were intentionally fed to Steele by Russians. Per Hannity’s telling, these bits of misinformation were intended to serve as land mines to take out Trump, and were exploited by anti-Trump officials in the FBI and intelligence agencies to pursue an investigation of the Trump campaign that eventually became the Mueller investigation. Hence, Hannity views the Mueller investigation as the result of collusion between Russians and the “deep state.”

This is worthy of Glenn Beck. Does working for Fox News make one nuts, or do you have to be nuts to begin with? See also Republicans Are Doing a Good Job Blocking Efforts to Fight Russian Meddling in 2020 in Rolling Stone and Surely It’s a Coincidence That a Firm Tied to a Russian Oligarch Is Pouring Millions Into Kentucky by Charles Pierce.

Even if votes weren’t/aren’t changed, just knowing how easily our elections could be hacked sets up a way for Trump and McConnell to void election results they don’t like in 2020.


I Have Little Hope Right Now

I am not following the hearings themselves but the reactions to them, because frankly whenever a Republican starts asking questions I feel nausea. Stupidity has that effect on me. So I’ve cranked up some music so I can’t hear the television set.

The day’s hearings are not over, but frankly I don’t see that anything will be accomplished. Lefties are certain Mueller’s testimony hurt Trump. Righties are already just as certain that Mueller’s testimony exonerates Trump.

For example, the crew at Twitchy is tearing down Mueller for being weak and senile. They have also apparently just learned that “collusion” is not a legal term, a point we lefties knew all along, and somewhere in their tiny little minds they have decided that this fact repudiates Adam Schiff in some manner. Righties are, frankly, dumb as stumps sometimes. They are also making much over Mueller’s refusal to answer many questions that call for him to draw conclusions not already drawn in the report, which of course is just following Bill Barr’s orders.

It was apparently a big surprise to some people that Trump can be indicted and prosecuted once he leaves office; I hadn’t realized that even was a question. There is also a lot of attention being paid to Mueller’s reasons for not indicting, which is old news, seems to me.

Yes, we’ve gotten some headlines that the president is “not exculpated,” which will mean nothing to most Trump supporters, a crew that struggles with second-grade level English.

It’s not all bad, of course. Josh Marshall writes,

I don’t want to get too fan-boyish about Adam Schiff. But his questioning and that of the intelligence committee Democrats so far is a good illustration of zeroing in on what is important in all of this. President Trump and his campaign encouraged Russian assistance in the 2016; they cooperated with it; they profited from it. The President and his campaign manager were both trying to make cash windfalls in Russia while all this was happening. This is what is important. This is a massive betrayal of country. Whether that amounted to a statute crime is secondary.

Right; and of course if a Democratic president had done anything even faintly resembling that he would have been impeached in a heartbeat. But Republicans protect their own, no matter how corrupt and traitorous they are.

Marshall also says,

It is worth noting the essence of the Republican argument is that the President really should not have been investigated since he could not be indicted. And if he must be investigated the public shouldn’t learn anything about what was discovered unless there was an indictment, which of course can’t happen.

Maybe not, but presidents sure as hell can be impeached. We need to begin impeachment hearings. We don’t have to have a vote right away. Just start the blasted hearings.

Current Events and Bob Mueller’s Second Act

Today the Senate extended the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund through 2090, which I wonder would have happened had Jon Stewart not so thoroughly and publicly shamed them into doing it.

On the other hand, the “administration” has announced it wants to change eligibility requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program.

It is the administration’s latest step to clamp down on the food stamps program, which covers 38 million Americans, and other public assistance services. It wants to require more poor people to work for SNAP benefits, and it is looking to change the way the poverty threshold is calculated, a move that could strip many low-income residents of their federal benefits over time.

This change could take benefits away from 3 million people. The “administration” says this is for their own good.

The administration claims the proposal will move participants “towards self-sufficiency,” a common refrain among Republicans when citing reasons for slashing security net benefits.

It always amuses me when people who inherited wealth, or married into it (see Mitch McConnell), or otherwise became financially comfortable without having to work all that hard for it decide the problem with the poor is that they’re lazy. See also Trump’s new food stamp proposal weaponizes government against poor people by Paul Waldman.

Speaking of wastes of protoplasm — the creature invoked Article II again.

President Donald Trump claimed on Tuesday that Article 2 in the Constitution gives him carte blanche to do anything he wants.

Trump was giving a speech at a Turning Point USA conference, where he predictably veered off into a tirade about special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and how, as president, Trump could’ve stopped it.

“I have an Article 2 where I have the right to do whatever I want as president,” Trump said. “But I don’t even talk about that because they did a report and there was no obstruction.”

It’s like Article II is his new favorite toy. He’s so happy that there’s a section of the Constitution that explicitly spells out his powers, but he’s too stupid to read it to find out that it barely gives him any.

Tomorrow Robert Mueller is supposed to testify publicly to Congress. Even though I think it’s necessary, I am ambivalent about what it might achieve. On one hand–Greg Sargent thinks Mueller’s testimony really could damage Trump.

He [Trump] and his aides keep robotically repeating that Democrats want a “do over” of the Mueller probe, thus pushing the idea — which Trump just tweeted — that the report didn’t produce any damning revelations.

The obvious game here is to frame the hearings as leaving Democrats with only the last ditch hope of prodding Mueller into revealing new information — and to spin any failure to make that happen as a fizzle for Democrats and a victory for Trump.

In reality, if Democrats can simply bring to life what Mueller did document — and convey that to a national audience — that alone will be a real victory, and an important public service.

What might that look like? Former FBI director James B. Comey has suggested asking direct questions designed to get Mueller to reiterate his findings.

This would create video and new headlines to bring the findings of the report back to public attention, and that alone would be helpful. And I suspect that’s the best we can hope for.

an acting solicitor general in the Obama administration, writes that Congress need only ask three simple yes-or-no questions:

Mr. Mueller, the president said your report found, in his words, “no collusion, no obstruction, complete and total exoneration.”

First, did your report find there was no collusion?

Second, did your report find there was no obstruction?

Third, did your report give the president complete and total exoneration?

That’s it. That’s the ballgame. It makes no difference if there are 20 questioners or two when Mr. Mueller appears before two House committees on Wednesday. All of this speculation about whether Mr. Mueller will go beyond the four corners of his report is largely a waste of time, with one asterisk. The report itself is deeply damning to Mr. Trump, elevating him to the rare president who has been credibly documented as committing federal crimes while sitting in office.

But this is Congress we’re talking about. You can’t trust any of them to not blow it.

You’ve probably head that the Justice Department has told Mueller he is not allowed to say anything not already stated in the report. People who know Mueller say he will probably adhere to this. I know that if I were in the same situation I’d be telling the Bill Barr to kiss my ass, but that’s me.

Our National Conversation on Race

Snips from an ongoing national conversation —

In What Americans Do Now Will Define Us Forever, Adam Serwer describes the futile attempts of the conservative intelligensia to either distance themselves from Trump or provide a respectable fig leaf over whatever it is he is doing.

The [National Conservatism] conference stood solidly within the conservative intellectual tradition, as a retroactive attempt by the right-wing intelligentsia to provide cover for what the great mass of Republican voters actually want. Barry Goldwater did not break the Solid South in 1964 because the once Democratic voters of the Jim Crow states had suddenly become principled small-government libertarians; voters who backed Donald Trump in 2016 did not do so because they believed a nonracial civic nationalism had been eroded by liberal cosmopolitanism.

Likewise, Ronald Reagan’s appeal to blue collar whites in 1980 had less to do with his sunny disposition than with their belief he was going to take food stamps away from the “Welfare Queens.” The connection between the “conservative intelligensia” and the mass of Republican voters is a complicated thing that shifts over time, but the two are rarely on the same page.

Trump’s nationalist innovation is not taking pride in his country, supporting a principled non-interventionism, or even advocating strict enforcement of immigration laws. The only thing new Trump brings to the American nationalism of recent decades is a restoration of its old ethnic-chauvinist tradition. Conservative intellectuals cannot rescue nationalism from Trump, any more than they could rescue Goldwater from Jim Crow, because Trump’s explicit appeals to racial and religious traditionalism, and his authoritarian approach to enforcing those hierarchies, are the things that have bound conservative voters so closely to him. The failure of the conservative intelligentsia to recognize this is why it was caught so off-guard by Trump’s rise to begin with.

They’re still off guard, seems to me.

The argument that Omar’s criticisms of her adopted country for failing to live up to its stated ideals justify revoking her citizenship substantiates the very criticism she lodged. Trump has said, “If you hate our country, or if you are not happy here, you can leave!” but his entire 2016 campaign was premised on the idea that many Americans not only are deeply unhappy, but also have every right to demand that things be better. That Trump’s supporters believe Omar’s sins justify her banishment, and Trump’s similar transgressions justify his presence in the White House, helps illustrate exactly what is going on here. Under Trumpism, no defense of the volk is a betrayal, even if it undermines the republic, and no attack on the volk’s hegemony can be legitimate, even if it is a defense of democracy.

Although the German word volk can have a more benign meaning, I suspect Serwer is using it in the sense of the Nazi Idea of Volksgemeinschaft — a nation or people made up of the “most superior” of the human races. From the article on the subject:

The Volksgemeinschaft didn’t just exclude different races, as competing ideologies were also rejected. The Volk was to be a one party state where the leader—currently Hitler—was accorded unquestioning obedience from his citizens, who handed over their freedoms in exchange for—in theory—their part in a smoothly functioning machine. ‘Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuhrer’: one people, one empire, one leader. Rival ideas like democracy, liberalism or—especially repugnant to the Nazis—communism was rejected, and many of their leaders arrested and imprisoned. Christianity, despite being promised protection from Hitler, also had no place in the Volk, as it was a rival to the central state and a successful Nazi government would have brought it to an end.

Sound familiar? As Trump has done, Hitler forged an alliance with conservative elements of Christianity, who praised and supported him, but it’s the consensus of historians that he would have dismantled the Church once he no longer needed it.

Now, back to Serwer:

Faced with the president’s baldly expressed bigotry toward four women of color in Congress, Republicans turned to reporters to argue that his attacks are part of a clever political strategy, elevating four left-wing women of color into the faces of his opposition. I suspect these Republicans, and some political reporters, believe that this somehow exonerates Trump from the charge of bigotry, as though prejudice ceases to be prejudice if it becomes instrumental. In fact, the admission that fomenting racism and division is central to Trump’s strategy is a stunning rebuke to those political reporters and pundits who, for four years, have insisted that the rise of Trump is about anything else. Trump and his most ardent liberal critics are in full agreement about the nature of his appeal, even as they differ on its morality. Only the Trumpists, and those who wish to earn their respect, fail to see it.

“He’s not racist if he’s just fomenting racism to serve his own ends” is not something I’m going to dignify with a counter-argument. See also John Cassidy, There Is Nothing Strategic About Trump’s Racism:

To restate the obvious: the President is unpopular. Despite this, it is often argued that he knows what he is doing, and he’s concentrating on turning out his base of disaffected white voters, particularly those living in the Midwestern states that tipped the Electoral College his way in 2016. In an analysis posted on Friday, Nate Cohn, the Times’ election analyst, argued that, given Trump’s advantage in the Electoral College, he “could win while losing the national vote by as much as five percentage points.”

But, even for a candidate focussing on the Electoral College rather than the popular vote, Presidential contests aren’t merely about motivating the base. To win an election in which more than a hundred and thirty million people vote, a candidate has to make some inroads into the center ground. By adopting the language of barroom bigots everywhere, Trump is narrowing his potential voter pool and incentivizing some key groups whose participation could be key, such as suburbanites in Michigan, minorities in Milwaukee and Philadelphia, and millennials who voted for the Green Party in 2016. Could he still pull out a victory? After 2016, only a fool or an eternal optimist would say it’s inconceivable. He didn’t boost his chances this week, though.

Back to Serwer:

It also speaks to the futility of trying to somehow rescue a Trumpian nationalism from Trump. Racism is at the core of Trumpism. The movement cannot be rescued from its bigotry, and those at the National Conservatism Conference who believe it can are in denial. Conservatives can make their case for limited government, or for religious traditionalism, but as long as it is tied to Trump or Trumpism, it will be tainted. Trump is not a champion of the civic nationalism Hazony and others claim they want to see. He is a mortal threat to it.

Conservative elites come in multiple flavors, such as neocons and small-government libertarians. Trumpism supports none of it. But also note:

In the face of a corrupt authoritarian president who believes that he and his allies are above the law, the American people are represented by two parties equally incapable of discharging their constitutional responsibilities. The Republican Party is incapable of fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities because it has become a cult of personality whose members cannot deviate from their sycophantic devotion to the president, lest they be ejected from office by Trump’s fanatically loyal base. The Democratic Party cannot fulfill its constitutional responsibilities because its leadership lives in abject terror of being ejected from office by alienating the voters to whom Trump’s nationalism appeals. In effect, the majority of the American electorate, which voted against Trump in 2016 and then gave the Democrats a House majority in 2018, has no representation.

Yep. I couldn’t have put it better. And if Trump wins again in 2020, it will be miscalculations by Democratic Party leadership that made it possible, just as their miscalculations made his election possible in 2016. They don’t learn.

Jamelle Bouie writes in Trump Voters Are Not the Only Voters that there are far more anti-Trump voters than pro-Trump voters. Yet, somehow, anti-Trump voters aren’t important.

Trump galvanized his supporters at the cost of energizing the opposition. But somehow, this has fallen out of political memory, with many observers focused on the president’s base of non-college-educated whites as the only voters who matter. And that includes some prominent Democrats. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s opposition to serious and aggressive oversight of the president — up to and including impeachment — is arguably tied to a belief in the singular importance of these voters. They must be catered to, even if it angers and disillusions the Democratic base.  …

… African-Americans are the most heavily Democratic group in the country, with a large presence in many of the most competitive states. Small increases in their participation would have an outsize effect on the electoral landscape. The projections bear that out. Given population growth since the last election, if black turnout and support return to 2012 levels, Democrats win handily, with as much as an estimated 338 electoral votes and a five-point margin in the national popular vote.

I have seen news analyses saying that Trump has lost support among blue collar voters in the upper midwest, which suggests that a portion of people who voted for Trump in 2016 know better now. On the other hand, as David Atkins argues, people who still support Trump today are not going to be persuaded by appeals to “centrism.” Those people are all in for Trump. Dems need to stop dreaming they can be won back. Let them bleeping go.

Similarly, Charles Blow wrote back in April,

But there is part of the Biden enthusiasm, and to a lesser extent the energy around candidates like Bernie Sanders, that focuses too heavily on the fickle white, working-class swing voters and is not enough focused on the party’s faithful.

Indeed, in political circles, Biden’s chief attribute in this election feels like his apparent appeal to these white voters.

I think that we need to question why the presence of the white male elder seems to ease anxiety among these white voters, and why the Democrats seem to be banking on that.

Barack Obama ran phenomenal campaigns in 2008 and 2012, and there is no doubt that choosing Biden, an elder white man, helped grease the skids among a certain section of white working-class voters. But, these are the same people who in the next breath — or next election — could reverse course and vote for a flagrant white supremacist.

These people are not experiencing conversion, they are being coddled. Democrats want to hold constant their support from women and minorities even as they chase the votes of people hostile to the interests of women and minorities. What does it say that the Democrats lust after disaffection rather than rewarding devotion? Democrats tell their base that this must be done, that the prodigal children must be brought home, as if that is their only path to victory. It is not. That is a lie. And, it’s a lazy lie.

Back to  Jamelle Bouie:

You could make a strong case that the future success of the Democratic Party depends on its ability to mobilize and win over black Americans, a key group in a broad coalition of voters. We have post-Obama proof that this is true from the 2017 elections — where strong black turnout drove those Democratic victories in Virginia and Alabama — as well as in the 2018 midterms, where greater support and participation from black voters put black candidates within striking distance of statewide victories in Georgia and Florida.

But the press isn’t hyper-solicitous of the views of black voters. Cable news doesn’t constantly turn to swing-state focus groups of black Democrats to gauge their opposition to the president. And Democrats in Congress aren’t worried about demobilizing a group that may determine the next election. Just the opposite — some moderates believe the party has spent too much time challenging the president’s racism and showing solidarity with their nonwhite constituents.

See also Bouie’s The Joy of Hatred and This Is What Evil Looks Like from the Mahablog archives.

In Trump Sets the Terms on Racial Division. Do Democrats Know What to Do?, Astead W. Herndon and Jennifer Medina write,

But even as Democratic candidates universally denounced Mr. Trump’s comments, they did not agree on how the eventual presidential nominee should combat the racial division embedded in those words. Do you, on the campaign trail, talk directly about the president’s inflammatory language, racism and discrimination in this country? Or do you talk about jobs and the economy?

Democratic Party leaders, particularly establishment figures with ties to Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns, have largely followed a strategy of careful avoidance: responding to the president’s most inflammatory moments, while attempting to redirect the political debate to what is often described as “kitchen table” issues, such as health care and wages.

However, an increasingly vocal group of Democratic grass-roots organizers and pollsters believe that Mr. Trump’s words and legislative actions amount to a cohesive playbook of white identity politics, meant to court white voters of all economic tiers around the idea that their fates are linked, and are under threat by an increasingly diversifying America. They argue that racism and the public performance of it is a “kitchen table” issue for many voters — black and white — that must be dealt with head-on.

“Just as much time and resources as the nominee spends on targeting and messaging around health care and wages and climate change, they should spend an equal amount of resources around an alternative racial vision for the country,” said Cornell Belcher, a prominent pollster who worked with Mr. Obama. “This isn’t a goddamn distraction.”

Herndon and Medine quote Sen. Cory Booker: “This election will be a referendum, not on Donald Trump, but a referendum on who we are and who we must be to each other.” It is time for Democrats to decisively choose to stand wholeheartedly with nonwhite voters and to let the fickle racist white voters go. I believe — I sincerely hope — the majority of white Americans will see the rightness of the Democratic Party’s position and will vote for Democratic candidates against the fascists.

“This is how low Trump has taken us. We are a debased nation fighting over the scraps of our former principles,” writes Timothy Egan. Are there enough of us to put an end to the disease of Trumpism? That’s the test of our time.

The World Is Watching

It’s got to be scaring the bejesus out of people around the globe that the world’s biggest nuclear superpower appears to be devolving into fascism. Do not doubt that the world is watching, and that Trump is not likely to stop fomenting fascist mobs.

The Associated Press reportsthat Trump and his campaign believe that placing “racial polarization at the center of his call to voters” carries “far more benefits than risks.”

We know what Trump is doing here. The reporting has established a pattern, in which Trump’s racist provocations are employed deliberately to foment racism, rage and/or hate among his supporters. Trump’s belief that his base would cheer was partly what drove his attacks on African American athletes and his refusal to condemn white-supremacist violence.

Charles Pierce:

The president* has a predator’s gift for bringing out the native self-destruction in people for his own profit. What he has done in the last three years has been his masterwork in this regard. He doesn’t plague himself with doubt about what he’s creating around him. He is proud of his monster. He glories in its anger and its destruction and, while he cannot imagine its love, he believes with all his heart in its rage. He is Frankenstein without conscience.

All of that is going to be on vivid display over the next 18 months or so, just as it was on vivid display Wednesday night in North Carolina. The details are already so well-known as to beggar repeating, but what existed in that hall exists all around us now. As a nation, in our politics, we are both Frankenstein and Creature as one, and the president* seems to be the only one who grasps this basic fact, grasps it well enough to use as both sword and shield.

It might have been interesting if Rep. Al Green had held off introducing his impeachment bill to the House until today, after last night’s hate rally shamed the nation.  The representative’s bill failed, but the vote revealed growing support for impeachment. I’ll bet that support would be bigger today. I would hope so, anyway.

Unfortunately, I see no indication that the leadership of the Democratic Party has half a clue what to do about Trump and the rising fascist movement he is fomenting. Yesterday Greg Sargent wrote that Moderate Democrats are getting skittish about confronting Trump’s racism. Seriously?

The House did pass a resolution condemning Trump’s racism, but …

But, dispiritingly, some moderate Democrats now think the party is going too far. Behold this startling passage in the New York Times write-up of the ongoing battle:

While Democrats were publicly unanimous in their support of the resolution, some moderate lawmakers from Republican-leaning districts that backed Mr. Trump in 2016 privately voiced their discomfort. They said that while the president’s comments had been racist, the party was playing into his hands by spending so much time condemning his remarks, according to centrist lawmakers and senior aides who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions.

This is just terrible. To be clear, I’m sympathetic to the plight of moderates. It’s true that they inhabit districts that are far more Republican-leaning than, say, those of Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the rest of “the Squad.” …

…But when it comes to Trump’s racism, such political skittishness is baffling and indefensible.

According to the Times, moderate Democrats feel that too much time has been spent on talking about Trump’s racist remarks. But this isn’t just some parlor debate with no real-world consequences. Trump is sending a signal to the country that it’s acceptable to treat racial, ethnic and religious minorities as fundamentally not belonging to the American nation.

There can be no squishiness now, no more paying lip service to diversity while signalling nonwhite congresswomen to stay in their place. It’s understandable for red state Democrats to express disagreement with Medicare for All or free college tuition; it’s not okay to be the least bit waffling on racial and gender equality. No more. The leadership needs to make this very, very clear, including to themselves.

Republicans, on the other hand, are either avowedly with Trump or lost in space. Mitch McConnell defended Trump today, saying that he was “on to something” in his hate speech toward the Squad. Miz Lindsey declared that it was okay for Trump to call out the hate dogs on Rep. Ilhan Omar because she has been strongly critical of Trump. It’s not racist, then, you see. But the crew at The American Conservative are aghast.

Trump must have gotten some hints of a backlash against last night’s rally, because today he is claiming he “disagrees” with the “send her back” chant. He tried to discourage it by speaking over it very quickly, he said today. You can watch for yourself how much he discouraged it —

See also House Dems warn Omar in ‘imminent danger’ after Trump rally chants and Moderate Democrats Warn That AOC Is Distracting From Their Nonexistent Message.

The Racist in Chief Discovers Article II

Before commenting on the reaction to Trump’s moronic comments about certain House Democrats, I want to point to something he said Friday:

So — so there’s no collusion and there’s no obstruction.

Now, we have a great Attorney General now — he’s strong and he’s smart — and he read it and he studied it — along with Rod Rosenstein, who worked it from the beginning.  And Rod Rosenstein and Bill Barr said, “There’s no obstruction.”

It’s also interesting — number one, there’s no crime.  And how do you obstruct when there’s no crime?

Also, take a look at one other thing.  It’s a thing called Article II.  Nobody ever mentions Article II.  It gives me all of these rights at a level that nobody has ever seen before.  We don’t even talk about Article II.

Let’s repeat that last paragraph:

Also, take a look at one other thing.  It’s a thing called Article II.  Nobody ever mentions Article II.  It gives me all of these rights at a level that nobody has ever seen before.  We don’t even talk about Article II.

It has been noted that whenever Trump says something along the lines of “no one ever talks about” or “no one knows about” something, that means he was just told something the rest of the world learned in second grade. It seems the imbecile has noticed there is this thing called “Article II” that gives him presidential powers. Whether he understands that “Article II” is part of the Constitution isn’t clear, but he does seem to assume that this “Article II” thing has been lost in a drawer somewhere all these years, and he is the first one to find out about it. And so now he knows he has power! Lots of power!

If he were to actually read the Constitution — I know, but let’s pretend — he might notice that Congress has lots and lots of specific power and that the president has very little in comparison. But I think it’s safe to say “Trump reading the Constitution” is an event unlikely to happen in this time-space continuum. And even if he read it, he wouldn’t understand it.

But now let’s talk about the outrage du jour, which is Trump’s racist comments on certain Democratic congresswomen of color. For the record, here’s a screen shot of the initial tweets. He’s since doubled down with crazier and crazier rants.

First, speaking as someone descended from soldiers of the American Revolution, let me say that from my perspective Trump just got off the boat last week. I don’t have anything against someone just off the boat, but don’t get off the boat and start making demands about who gets to stay or go. That pisses me off. As Richard Wolff said, “What is it about this German-American that makes him think he can tell native-born citizens what to say and how to behave?”

Note that all but one of the progressive Democratic congresswomen Trump is talking about was born in the United States. They also were all elected to Congress, which means they are authorized by We, the People to determine how our government is to be run. But good luck explaining that to the moron who won’t, and probably can’t, read the Constitution.

Good luck also explaining any of this to right-wing bloggers, such as the always moronic Ann Althouse and her rabidly racist readers. My own fantasy deportation list would start there. See also The Worst Responses to Trump’s Racist Tweets at Mother Jones.

Charles Blow, Trump’s Tweets Prove That He Is a Raging Racist:

Trump — and many of his supporters and defenders — spew their racism and tell themselves that it is perfectly acceptable when it is read back to them, in much the same way that a dog will eat its own vomit. …

…There can be no more discussion or debate about whether or not Trump is a racist. He is. There can be no more rhetorical juggling about not knowing what’s in his heart. We see what flows out of it.

White people and whiteness are the center of the Trump presidency. His primary concern is to defend, protect and promote it. All that threatens it must be attacked and assaulted. Trump is bringing the force of the American presidency to the rescue of white supremacy. And, self-identified Republicans absolutely love him for it.

We are watching a very dark chapter in this nation’s history unfold in real time. We are watching as a president returns naked racism to the White House. And we are watching as fellow citizens — possibly a third of them — reveal to us their open animus for us through their continued support of him.

Eugene Robinson, Republicans embrace Trump’s racism. Blame them as much as him.

“Trump is a Racist” does not exactly qualify as breaking news. But the silence from prominent Republicans is staggering — and telling. It amounts to collaboration — perhaps collusion is a better word — with the president’s assault on diversity and pluralism. In the coming campaign, you will hear Republican candidates at every level claim to be colorblind and embrace all Americans regardless of race or ethnicity. Do not believe them. Their failure to speak out now tells us everything we need to know about their true feelings.

Jamelle Bouie, Trump’s America Is a ‘White Man’s Country’:

Much of Trump’s agenda rests on this idea that the boundaries of rights and citizenship are conterminous with race. Those within Trump’s boundaries enjoy the fruits of American freedom, while those outside them face the full force of American repression. White European immigrants like the first lady, Melania Trump, are welcomed; dark-skinned migrants from Latin America are put into cages and camps.

But also note this:

With that said, what’s more striking than the president’s blood-and-soil racism is how Democratic Party elites — or at least one group of them — are playing with similar assumptions. No, they haven’t held out the white working property owner as the only citizen of value, but they’re obsessed with winning that voter to their side — convinced that this group is the path to victory. It helps explain the current feud between Pelosi and the four congresswomen, with House Democratic leaders attacking progressives on behalf of moderates in the caucus — some of which represent districts Trump won in 2016, but most of whom represent districts that gave Democrats the majority last November.

Indeed, it is instructive — and frankly disturbing — that top Democrats leaked a poll to Axios showing broad dissatisfaction with Representatives Ocasio-Cortez and Omar. Not from the entire public or Democratic voters, but from “1,003 likely general-election voters who are white and have two years or less of college education.”

That kind of thing has to stop, Democrats. The party cannot continue to pay lip service to the virtues of “diversity” while simultaneously telling “diversity” to sit down and shut up. The Democrats are either open to genuine diversity, or they are a diluted version of the Republicans.

Finally, see Inae Oh, Trump Stages Full-Blown, Racist Meltdown at “Made in America” Event about remarks Trump made today.

“If you’re not happy here, then you can leave,” Trump told reporters in a chaotic news conference for a “Made in America” event at the White House. “As far as I’m concerned, if you hate our country, if you’re not happy here, you can leave.”

This is the guy who ranted about “American carnage” in his inauguration speecy. He clearly hates this country and isn’t happy here. He should go first.