Trump Threw a Party and Hardly Anybody Came

I apologize for being scarce. I had to give a thirty-minute talk to a bunch of zennies on Zoom, and preparing for it seemed to eat most of the week. But it’s done now. I think it went okay.

So what about that rally yesterday, huh? And how much of Trump’s campaign staff will be fired after that debacle? Earlier the campaign was anticipating a huge overflow crowd. But that didn’t happen. From Forbes: Turnout At Trump’s Tulsa Rally Was Just Under 6,200–A Fraction Of The Venue’s 19,200 Capacity.

One probable reason for the inflated ticket registration figure was a concerted effort by teenagers on the social media app TikTok to reserve seats at the rally in an effort to create empty seats. Numerous TikTokers posted videos encouraging their followers to register for tickets to deny spots from supporters of the president. They in turn recruited ‘K-pop stans,’ fans of Korean pop music, a massive and active community on social media, to do the same. While it is unlikely this effort denied people any seats, as the rally was first come first serve, it may have accounted for a substantial chunk of the ticket registrations.

The Trump campaign claims that it knew about the fake registrations and weeded out any registration with a fake phone number. The TikTokers and K-pop stans say they were aware of that and spread information on how to acquire a Google Voice number or another internet-connected phone line. Those who did use their real numbers to register were spammed by Trump campaign junk.

The Trump campaign now is putting out excuses that all those millions tens of thousands at least forty people who signed up for the big rally were blocked at the entrace by protesters.

The local Tulsa newspaper published a time-lapse video of the area around the rally venue, from Friday to Sunday, and frankly the crowds around the place were never that huge. Times Square on Sunday morning is more crowded.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune sent a reporter:

Hundreds of demonstrators flooded the city’s downtown streets and blocked traffic at times, but police reported just a handful of arrests. Many of the marchers chanted, and some occasionally got into shouting matches with Trump supporters, who outnumbered them and yelled, “All lives matter.”

Later in the evening, a group of armed men began following the protesters. When the protesters blocked an intersection, a man wearing a Trump shirt got out of a truck and spattered them with pepper spray. …

… Trump campaign officials said protesters prevented the president’s supporters from entering the stadium. Three Associated Press journalists reporting in Tulsa for several hours leading up to the president’s speaking did not see protesters block entry to the area where the rally was held.

So no, the Trump faithful were not blocked from entering the arena. But I would also suggest to Black Lives Matter protesters to stay some distance from the next rally; don’t give them an excuse.

Most of the Murdoch press is reporting the “blocked by protesters” claim as fact. But Chris Wallace at Fox wasn’t having it.

On his Fox News Sunday program, Wallace noted that President Donald Trump’s Tulsa rally on Saturday had been sparsely attended despite the fact that the president claimed nearly a million people had requested tickets.

“We all saw the pictures last night,” Wallace explained. “The arena was no more than two-thirds full. And the outdoor rally was cancelled because there was no overflow crowd. What happened?”

“The key here is to understand,” [Trump 2020 campaign spokesperson Mercedes] Schlapp replied, “there were factors involved, they were concerned about the protesters who were coming in.”

“He talks about how he can fill an arena,” Wallace said, referring to the president. “And he didn’t fill an arena last night. You guys were so far off that you had planned an outdoor rally and there wasn’t an overflow crowd.”

“Protesters did not stop people from coming to that rally,” he added. “The fact is, people did not show up.”

I could be wrong, but I get the impression that Murdoch or whoever is running Fox News these days may be a tad ambivalent about whether Trump wins, loses, lives, dies, or grows feathers. They may be about to decide he’s a loser who hurts their brand. Anyway, it’s entirely possible more people wanted to attend and were (justifiably) concerned about the spread of coronavirus, or else they are too financially strapped right now to travel very far. And whose fault is that?

So the next question is, how long will it be before Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale — whose Twitter feed today is like a festival of excuses — will lose his job?

Rick Wilson, a bestselling author, former Republican consultant and co-founder of the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump super pac, was critical of Parscale’s approach.

“Brad broke the first rule of American politics: under promise and over deliver,” he told the Guardian. “Brad’s survival now depends on the good offices of his patrons inside the Trump camp, and [Ivanka and Kushner] are already signaling their displeasure to the media.

“The only X factor is whether anyone else in Trump’s crew of skells [and] grifters … has offered to keep the scam running.”

The speech itself appears to have been the usual word salad of self-praise and other-blame. I like what WaPo’s Robin Givhan wrote — “He stood at the microphone, pinching at the air with his fingers, ruminating and fulminating until everything becomes a blur of interminable, unearned preening.”

Eric Lach, The New Yorker:

In some ways, what Donald Trump didn’t say on Saturday night in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at a rally that was billed as his big post-pandemic return to the campaign trail, matters more than what he did. In more than ninety minutes onstage, not one mention of the murder of George Floyd. Not one mention of the murder of Breonna Taylor. Barely a mention of the hundred and nineteen thousand Americans killed by covid-19, or of the tens of millions thrown out of work, facing uncertain futures for themselves and their families. This is the President who was, just a few weeks ago, supposedly considering a big speech on race and unity. Instead, on Saturday, Trump did a cool twenty minutes on his experience of walking down a slippery ramp after delivering the graduation speech at West Point last weekend. He also bragged about the stock market; called covid-19 the “kung flu”; accused Representative Ilhan Omar, who was born in Somalia, of wanting to turn America into a failed state “just like the country from where she came”; and said that he instructed a military officer during negotiations with Boeing not to put anything “in writing,” because he wanted to potentially skip out on paying a multimillion-dollar order-cancellation fee for new Air Force One planes.

One line will probably get more attention. Trump actually said, “When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find people, you’re going to find more cases. So I said to my people, ‘slow the testing down.’” There are predictions that line will be featured in future anti-Trump ads. But for the most part, I am not sure that anything Trump says matters any more. Anyone who still enthusiastically supports Trump must have tuned out reality a long time ago. If you want to know what a Trump true believer looks like, don’t miss Jeff Sharlet’s piece at Vanity Fair — “HE’S THE CHOSEN ONE TO RUN AMERICA.”

And, I would add, anyone who stayed away from yesterday’s rally because of fears of coronavirus might fall short of being a true believer. However, disaffection from Trump won’t automatically translate into more votes for Biden.

One thing I keep saying, and I think the rally fail exemplifies this — Trump has not expanded his base. Most presidents who win close elections at least think about what they might do to win over those who voted against them. Trump never did that. He has one strategy, one note to sing, and that is to mug for the people who love him already and the hell with everyone else. And there are all kinds of indicators that even the base is starting to fracture: See, for example, Forbes, June 8: Poll Shows Trump’s Support Eroding Among His Base. But again, we can’t be complacent.

I do not know if Trump has any more campaign rallies scheduled. He can survive one fizzle; whether he can survive more is doubtful. The event made him look pathetic, like a loser. David Atkins writes that Trump’s signature rallies could become a liability. The “problem is that now those very rallies carry a huge political downrisk in both actual pandemic impacts and in public perception,” Atkins writes. The virus is now moving into Trump country; people who could be complacent because it was just city folk getting sick may soon learn they need to be more careful. And a majority of voters support wearing face masks (none of whom live near me, it seems) and think big public rallies are a bad idea.

Even more critical, if the majority of the spin coming out of rallies ridicules Trump and makes him out to be a loser who can’t draw a crowd any more, that might hurt him more than if the rally-attendees all end up on ventilators. It’s going to be interesting to see if the campaign even tries more rallies or decides to leave well enough alone.  Trump will probably insist on trying it again, though.

Anyway, yesterday was almost fun. On a darker note, the past few days also saw the saga of prosecutor Geoffrey Berman, fired by either Barr or Trump, although neither will own up to it. That needs to be looked at more closely. See also What to rename the Army bases that honor Confederate soldiers.

Bolton’s Book Is Out

By “out” I don’t mean officially published, but the review copies of Bolton’s book have been distributed to major media. And reviews and news stories about what it contains are already out as well. Federal prosecutors may be “mulling” criminal charges against Bolton to keep his mouth shut, but it’s too late. Even if a copy is never sold, what’s in the book will be all over news media.

That said, based on this review, I have no plans to read it.

“The Room Where It Happened,” an account of his 17 months as Trump’s national security adviser, has been written with so little discernible attention to style and narrative form that he apparently presumes an audience that is hanging on his every word.

Known as a fastidious note taker, Bolton has filled this book’s nearly 500 pages with minute and often extraneous details, including the time and length of routine meetings and even, at one point, a nap. Underneath it all courses a festering obsession with his enemies, both abroad (Iran, North Korea) and at home (the media, “the High-Minded,” the former defense secretary Jim Mattis). The book is bloated with self-importance, even though what it mostly recounts is Bolton not being able to accomplish very much. It toggles between two discordant registers: exceedingly tedious and slightly unhinged.

Still, it’s maybe a fitting combination for a lavishly bewhiskered figure whose wonkishness and warmongering can make him seem like an unlikely hybrid of Ned Flanders and Yosemite Sam. His one shrewd storytelling choice was to leave the chapter on Ukraine for the end, as incentive for exhausted readers to stay the course.

Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman:

Even after impeachment, even after his disastrous mishandling of coronavirus, even after over 19,000 false and misleading claims and thousands of appalling tweets, President Trump still retains the capacity to shock us with the depth of his corruption.

That’s the immediate takeaway from the revelations that are contained in “The Room Where It Happened,” the new memoir by former national security adviser John Bolton.

But, in addition to revealing new dimensions of corruption that are remarkable — even for Trump — the book also deals a huge blow to one of Trump’s leading arguments for reelection: the idea that opponent Joe Biden is soft on China, while Trump is bristling with toughness toward that country.

The Post, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have obtained Bolton’s book. It reveals that Trump directly asked President Xi Jinping to help him win reelection, telling Xi that if China increased agricultural imports from the United States, it would aid his electoral prospects.

Do read the whole column. I’m sure there will be more nuggets in the headlines tomorrow.

A Shooting in Albuquerque

I’m preparing a Zoom talk about my book The Circle of the Wayso blogging time will be limited this week. But I had to blog about this:

For all the maladministration’s screaming about “Antifa” and “leftists,” it’s been plain that the primary danger of violence in the U.S. is being posed by right-wing groups, many of which are heavily armed. Today there was a shooting at a protest, in Albuquerque:

Gunfire broke out during a protest Monday night in Albuquerque to demand the removal of a statue of Juan de Oñate, the despotic conquistador of New Mexico whose image has become the latest target in demonstrations across the country aimed at righting a history of racial injustice.

As dozens of people gathered around a statue of Oñate, New Mexico’s 16th-century colonial governor, arguments broke out between a multiracial group of protesters urging its removal and others defending it, including a right-wing militia made up of armed white gunmen.

In the chaos that ensued, a man was seen assaulting female protesters by violently shoving them to the ground. At one point the same man used pepper spray on protesters. As protesters pursued the assailant to drive him out of the crowd, the man pulled out a weapon and shot one of the protesters, prompting police officers in riot gear to rush in.

One might wonder why the police in riot gear hadn’t stepped in earlier, such as when the thug was violently shoving female protesters to the ground. But this seems to be a pattern, doesn’t it?

Meanwhile, I keep finding articles saying that there’s no evidence “Antifa” is doing anything much regarding the protests. See, for example, The GOP’s claim that antifa is infiltrating George Floyd protests is a right-wing ‘bogeyman’ that bears all the hallmarks of a domestic disinformation campaign at Business Insider and Little evidence of antifa links in U.S. prosecutions of those charged in protest violence from Reuters.

At the Kansas City Star, Judy Thomas writes Far-right extremists keep showing up at BLM protests. Are they behind the violence?

Recent protests near the Country Club Plaza led to no shortage of talk on social media about who, exactly, was behind violence such as the burning of a Kansas City police car.

“Two of them were the guys on the plaza Friday night who were open carrying and we begged to officers to remove them and they refused,” one woman posted in response to a photo shared in a tweet.

Some questioned whether the men were white supremacists or other far-right extremists who had shown up to commit or incite violence that would then be blamed on the protesters. Or Boogalooers, those who are part of growing and loosely knit movement, many of whose adherents are gearing up for a second Civil War. …

… Devin Burghart, president of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, said his organization has found evidence of Boogaloo and other far-right extremist groups at 40 protests related to Floyd’s death, including some in Kansas City and Wichita.

We don’t really have to ask. This is from Business Insider, June 3: 3 self-proclaimed members of the far-right ‘boogaloo’ movement were arrested on domestic terrorism charges for trying to spark violence during protests.

Federal prosecutors say the men planned to sow discord at protests in Nevada in early April. They first assembled at a rally to reopen the US economy in Las Vegas, where, according to the filing, one of the men said the group “was not for joking around and that it was for people who wanted to violently overthrow the United States government.”

The filing stated that all members of the group possessed firearms, including “pistols and rifles, including variations of AR-15’s.”

It also alleged that the three men met several times in May to discuss targeting multiple places to place an “economic burden on businesses and the government.”

Do tell.

Albuquerque police detain armed men Monday following the shooting of a man during a protest over a statue of Spanish conqueror Juan de Oñate.(Adolphe Pierre-Louis / The Albuquerque Journal)

Walls Closing in on Trump

Helaine Olen writes at WaPo,

I believe that when we look back at the Trump era, we will remember the spring of 2020 as the time when Trump and his administration finally jumped the shark. Somewhere between seeming to promote bleach as a cure for the novel coronavirus and accusing elderly protester Martin Gugino of being an “Antifa provocateur” after Buffalo police shoved him violently to the ground, Trump has — finally — lost control of the narrative thread.

“Trump wants your eyeballs,” Olen continues. He wants to you watch him, listen to him, pay attention to him, and stay tuned for the next exciting episode. His entire presidency has been a series of attention-grabbing stunts. He doesn’t do the job; he puts on a show. And for three years, he got away with it. Olen continues,

As it turns out, what Charles Sykes at the Bulwark calls Trump’s “almost reptilian instinct for tapping into the Zeitgeist” might well have been a combination of good economic circumstances mixed with ghastly entertainment appeal.

But now we’re facing multiple real crises, and at every turn Trump just makes a bigger fool of himself. And people are noticing. The bad polling numbers for Trump I wrote about last week have gotten slightly worse.

Trump’s speech at West Point on Saturday was clearly intended to enhance his image and provide some video footage for campaign ads, but the stunt appears to have backfired. Stephen Collinson, CNN:

President Donald Trump’s showmanship is failing him as fears mount of a new spike in coronavirus infections and after another shooting of an African American man raised new questions about police brutality.

Instead of addressing such questions directly, Trump is grasping for made-for-TV moments designed to enhance his personal aura — a device he has used to some effect in his presidency but that is now emphasizing his disconnect with many Americans and struggles to manage crises besieging the White House.

The President’s television producer’s eye leads him to seek dramatic tableaus that create his preferred image of himself — strong, defiant, tearing down establishment structures and trampling the normal etiquette of the presidency.

In the most recent example on Saturday, Trump’s attempt to wrap himself in the power and prestige of the military failed at a West Point graduation ceremony apparently put on for his benefit, when his creeping walk down a ramp triggered so much social media mockery that he felt the need to explain it in a tweet of his own.

Now he’s about to resume the rallies, which I don’t believe ever appealed to anyone outside his hard-core fan base. It’s possible those will backfire on him as well.

Assuming there are no more disasters — no wars, no monster hurricanes, no huge second wave of the virus that forces another shutdown — it’s safe to say that by November the economy will not have snapped back to where it was in January, which wasn’t all that great if you didn’t own stocks. The most optimistic independent forecasts I’ve seen say the economy will be in recession until sometime next year. Given the stinginess of the federal response, it’s pretty much a given that working people in service sector jobs especially will still be hurting badly as we go to the polls in November. The very wealthy, of course, probably will be wealthier.

And other than an economy that didn’t completely suck, I don’t see that Trump has anything else to run on. It’s also safe to say that none of our other pressing issues, including racial equality and police brutality, will be addressed in any meaningful way as long as Trump is sitting in the White House and Mitch McConnell controls the Senate.

There are many more hazards for Trump ahead. A neice, the daughter of Trump’s older brother Fred, will publish a tell-all book in July that’s said to be full of “unflattering revelations.”

The niece, Mary Trump, will release the book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” on July 28, according to Ms. Trump’s publisher, Simon & Schuster. The Daily Beast first reported on the book on Sunday.

In the book, Ms. Trump, 55, will say she was a primary source for The New York Times’s coverage of Mr. Trump’s finances and provided the newspaper with confidential tax documents. A spokeswoman for The Times declined to comment on Sunday. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

And then there’s John Bolton’s long-anticipated book, The Room Where It Happened, that was originally scheduled to be released March 17 but which now is scheduled to go on sale June 23. Trump is expected to sue to stop the book from going public, which smells like censorship to me. It’s anybody’s guess whether the suit will stop the book from coming out next week.

From the Simon & Schuster press release:

What Bolton saw astonished him: a president for whom getting reelected was the only thing that mattered, even if it meant endangering or weakening the nation. “I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn’t driven by reelection calculations,” he writes. In fact, he argues that the House committed impeachment malpractice by keeping their prosecution focused narrowly on Ukraine when Trump’s Ukraine-like transgressions existed across the full range of his foreign policy—and Bolton documents exactly what those were, and attempts by him and others in the Administration to raise alarms about them.

Bolton also reveals what it was like to fight against an incumbent President determined to prevent publication of this book. Trump directed the seizure of and withheld his personal and other unclassified documents, despite numerous requests for their return. He also obstructed Bolton’s Twitter account and made outright threats of censorship.
Bolton’s response? Game on.

It sounds as if Bolton has added to the thing since Trump stopped the earlier release. And, frankly, whatever is in that book, Trump would have been much better off had it come out on March 17, just as the coronavirus was beginning to consume the nation’s attention.


ABC News will air a one-hour interview with Bolton on Sunday as a prime-time special. According to ABC News, “Bolton will provide a first-hand account of crucial moments including private meetings in the Oval Office, the Putin-Trump summit in Helsinki and the president’s historic meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. For the first time publicly, Bolton will also present his account of the July 25, 2019 phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and discuss why he didn’t testify during the president’s impeachment trial.”

This could be fun. See also George Conway, John Bolton made a tragic mistake. It’s not the one you might think; and Paul Waldman, Let’s hear what John Bolton has to say. But he’s no hero.

Further down the road there’s the fight over Trump’s taxes and other financial records. I understand that we might get a decision — either way — from the Supreme Court late this month or early next month. However, it’s very possible the mess will get kicked back to a lower court and not be resolved before the November election.

Nothing that happens in the next few months will matter to Trump’s base, which will stampede over a cliff for him.  Paul Waldman:

Despite all the signals of danger — weak poll numbers, a mismanaged pandemic, an economic disaster — Trump supporters have stamped in their mind a mental picture of Trump succeeding, and they are holding it tenaciously. As Politico reports, local Republican officials are brimming with confidence:

“The more bad things happen in the country, it just solidifies support for Trump,” said Phillip Stephens, GOP chairman in Robeson County, N.C., one of several rural counties in that swing state that shifted from supporting Barack Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016. “We’re calling him ‘Teflon Trump.’ Nothing’s going to stick, because if anything, it’s getting more exciting than it was in 2016.”
This year, Stephens said, “We’re thinking landslide.”

Will Trump win all 50 states, or merely 45 or so? It’s a bit early to say.

Sarcasm off. Fortunately for us, Trump’s base by itself cannot win the election for him. Unfortunately for us, these folks are not going to believe the results if when Trump loses. See Steve M and Digby.

They Report, We Deride

Fox News is having a rough time. On Friday the network got caught publishing digitally altered and misleading photos on stories about Seattle’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ).

As part of a package of stories Friday about the zone, where demonstrators have taken over several city blocks on Capitol Hill after Seattle police abandoned the East Precinct, Fox’s website for much of the day featured a photo of a man standing with a military-style rifle in front of what appeared to be a smashed retail storefront.

The image was actually a mashup of photos from different days, taken by different photographers — it was done by splicing a Getty Images photo of an armed man, who had been at the protest zone June 10, with other images from May 30 of smashed windows in downtown Seattle. Another altered image combined the gunman photo with yet another image, making it appear as though he was standing in front of a sign declaring “You are now entering Free Cap Hill.” …

… In addition, Fox’s site for a time on Friday ran a frightening image of a burning city, above a package of stories about Seattle’s protests, headlined “CRAZY TOWN.” The photo actually showed a scene from St. Paul, Minnesota, on May 30. That image also was later removed.

Fox News also was punked by a Reddit post that quoted lines from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, attributing them to a CHAZ self-appointed leader named Raz.

Fox promoted the Reddit post as a sign of dissension within the protesting ranks until an avalanche of Twitter posts clued them in to the joke.

Eric Wemple has a great critique of Tucker Carlson’s coverage of the George Floyd protests over the past several days. Carlson has been hyping violence. If Carlson were your only source of news, you might believe a large part of America was being burned to the ground by rioting leftists.

In November 2017, the Erik Wemple Blog documented this staple of Carlson’s misleading cable-news wizardry. The sequence routinely goes like this: A scandal of some sort breaks in Trump World or some organization that’s part of the Fox News ideological constellation; a backlash among liberals kicks up; instead of addressing the scandal itself, Carlson feasts on the most extreme fringes of that backlash. In the process, he apprises the audience that he’s “not defending” Trump or the police or whomever.

This framing explains all of the rhetorical jujitsu that Carlson has rolled out since Floyd’s killing.

Wemple then provides some examples of Carlson’s inflammatory coverage. But then the violence dissipated.

A change of gears, accordingly, was in store for “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” On Monday, he denounced the growing cultural influence of the Black Lives Matter movement: “America went insane over the weekend. … This was without precedent in the modern era, a small group of highly aggressive, emotionally charged activists took over our culture. They forced the entire country to obey their will. It all happened so fast and with such ferocity that virtually no one resisted it.”

Well, somebody seems insane, but not “America.” And then Tucker went on a long diatribe that ended with “This may be a lot of things, this moment we’re living through, but it is definitely not about black lives, and remember that when they come for you, and at this rate, they will.”

Exactly who “they” are was not specified. And this seems to be the speech that lost Tucker some of his advertisers, including the Walt Disney Co.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

ANTIFA! They’re everywhere they’re everywhere …

In other crazy news, read about the roofing company workers in Loveland, Colorado, who were mistaken for Antifa and held at gunpoint

[Loveland Police Lt. Bob] Shaffer said that Gudmundsen called police, said there were two “Antifa guys” in the neighborhood and that, “I am going out there to confront them.” Gudmundsen told police in the call he was armed and wearing tactical gear, Shaffer said.

A second person also called police around the same time and said a man in fatigues was holding two people on the ground at gunpoint in the street. …

… When officers arrived in the 2400 block of Dawn Court around 6 p.m. Thursday, they encountered Scott Gudmundsen (pictured) – dressed in fatigues and holding two men on the ground at gunpoint, Shaffer said.

But the men weren’t troublemakers – they work for a local roofing company and were wearing blue polo shirts with the firm’s name on them, shorts, tennis shoes and white surgical-style masks, Shaffer said.

One of them is a Colorado State University football player who is 20 years old and works part-time at the roofing company. The student is a “man of color,” according to a statement from the university.

Gudmundsen was armed with a Glock pistol and another pistol that had been converted into something that looks like a carbine rifle, the news article said. No one was injured. Gudmundsen has been charged with felony menacing and false imprisonment. His family says he is mentally ill, but if that’s the case they might want to consider taking his guns away from him before he kills somebody.

This story is even better: A troupe of jugglers who travel around in a colorfully painted school bus were identified as Antifa in Columbus, Ohio, by the freakin’ police department.

[Update: I see that the Facebook post from the Columbus Police Department that I had embedded here has been deleted, so here is a screen shot.]

Talking Points Memo:

According to the Flow Art jugglers all these claims are bogus. On Facebook Digati said: “The ‘weapons’ that were found are tools. Axes for my wood stove, knives for cooking, etc. … The ‘riot gear’ was literally a child’s shoulder pads, elbow, and knee pads for sports.” Another member of the troupe chimed in: “Yeah, there’s a hatchet on the bus — with a bunch of wood sitting next to a wood-burning stove. Well, duh. The rocks were crystals and fossils. They emptied out a knife block [from the kitchen area] and said they found a meat cleaver.”

But the damage had been done. The Columbus police department post made the rounds as confirmation of the Antifa invasion rumors swirling around the country – seemingly first concocted by a faux “antifa” site run by white supremacists and possibly amplified by Russia bots.

Guess who else got involved?

The FBI still says there is no evidence Antifa, not to be confused with traveling jugglers, is actually involved in the recent protests.

Trump at West Point

So Trump gave his stupid, lying West Point speech, for all the good it did him. There are fact checks at the New York Times and Juan Cole’s Informed Comment.

Trump struggled a bit to get down a ramp from the speaker’s platform. The walk down the ramp has gotten more coverage than the speech. I looked at the video; I’m not sure it’s that big a deal. I understand Trump wears lifts in his shoes to make himself look taller (why he tends to lean forward sometimes), and that might make walking downhill a little tricky.

He also had to use one hand to steady his other hand to take a sip of water. Hmm.

Yeah, Maybe We Do Need to Dismiss All the Police and Start Over

You probably heard that another black man was shot and killed by police in Atlanta Friday night. Rayshard Brooks’s crime was that he fell asleep in his car in a Wendy’s drive-through line. This would seem to require waking him up. Instead, the police were called, and somehow the encounter went sour as the police put Brooks under arrest and Brooks was killed.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta announced on Saturday that the city’s police chief had resigned. Early on Sunday morning, Sgt. John Chafee, a spokesman for the Atlanta Police Department, said Officer Rolfe had been fired and Officer Brosnan put on administrative leave.

Police dashboard and body-camera videos show that Mr. Brooks was compliant and friendly with the officers when they first approached him and for some time after that, and the encounter turned to a struggle when the officers tried to handcuff him.

Maybe instead of arresting Brooks they should have just bought him a cup of coffee.

Keeping Up With the Times

Clearly, the Trump campaign has made a choice to double down on white nationalism and “lawnorder,” also known as “politce brutality.” In brief, he’s standing against the tide of current events and yelling “no!” Gonna party like it’s 1965! In Selma! And he’s not going to give an inch!

For example, the Great Confederate Generals Flap would be baffling if Trump were a rational person. There are ten military bases, all in former Confederate states, named for Confederate generals. According to the BBC, “Many of these sites date back to camps set up during World War One that were reactivated again for World War Two, eventually becoming permanent establishments.” I assume there was no particular reason for naming them after Confederate generals other than to make the local (white) politicians happy at the time.

The Pentagon itself has said it was open to changing the names of the forts. Even Republicans in Congress appear to be mostly on board with the change. The Associated Press reported:

Senate Republicans, who are at risk of losing their majority in the November elections, aren’t with Trump on this issue. A GOP-led Senate panel on Thursday approved a plan by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, to have the names of Confederate figures removed from military bases and other Pentagon assets.

The only senator on the panel to vote no was Josh Hawley, R-MO, who in his first term has established himself as a five-alarm flake. I take it most Senate Republicans don’t want the names of Confederate generals to be the hill they die on.

But Trump’s ignorance of history is the stuff of, well, history.

“Hey, John, what’s this all about? What’s this a tour of?” Mr Trump reportedly asked John Kelly, his then-chief of staff, when they took a private tour in 2017 of the USS Arizona Memorial, a ship commemorating the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor during the Second World War.

“Trump had heard the phrase ‘Pearl Harbor’ and appeared to understand that he was visiting the scene of a historic battle, but he did not seem to know much else,” write the authors, who quote a former White House adviser concluding the US president was “dangerously uninformed”.

And then there was this brilliant moment:

Did you know President Abraham Lincoln was a Republican? President Trump apparently thinks most people don’t.

“Great president,” Trump said Tuesday night at a fundraising dinner for House Republicans. “Most people don’t even know he was a Republican. Right? Does anyone know? A lot of people don’t know that. We have to build that up a little more.”

Trump then suggested using a political action committee to run advertisements letting people know that Lincoln was a member of his party.

With Trump, “most people don’t know” is a signal that it’s something he just learned, himself. The Pearl Harbor anecdote is especially stunning to me, given that Trump was born in 1946. In my experience most Americans born at that time grew up listening to their fathers talk about World War II. I am not quite that old and still heard about Pearl Harbor up the wazoo throughout my childhood. The Trump family has no legacy of service to the U.S., however, and apparently none of the adults Trump was exposed to as a child had any interest in it. That’s just not normal.

With that in mind, let us reflect on what Trump said about the Confederate generals:

Maybe somebody should quietly explain to Trump that the Confederate generals were all losers — it might be said of some of them that they were better assets to the Union than the Confederacy — and none of them served in World War II. Somebody might want to check that Trump understands what the Confederacy even was., See also David Petraeus, Take the Confederate Names Off Our Army Bases.

I understand that a disproportionate number of enlisted military personnel are from southern states, but it’s also the case that about a third of today’s military personnel are nonwhite. Standing up for Confederate generals may play well with older white southerners, but I doubt it’s a critical issue right now even with most of them.

Greg Sargent wrote today,

Now that President Trump plans to hold his first rally of the coronavirus era on Juneteenth — in Tulsa, the site of one of the deadliest race massacres in U.S. history — it’s instructive to recall Trump’s thinking amid another, more recent episode of deadly white racial violence.

After Trump uttered his “many fine people” comment in the aftermath of white-supremacist violence and murder in Charlottesville, his advisers persuaded him to offer more conciliatory remarks. But after doing so, Trump privately raged that this course change made him look “weak.”

You can chalk that up to Trump’s long-held dictum — never apologize for anything. Or you can chalk it up to Trump’s other long-held M.O. — stoking race war is good for Trump, and conciliation does nothing for him. Indeed, at the time, adviser Stephen K. Bannon counseled that post-Charlottesville racial strife was good politics for him.

Just for fun, somebody might challenge Trump to name one of the Confederate generals he’s defending. I am sure he knows nothing about any of them, nor does he give a hoo-haw about any of them. He’s not giving an inch only because that makes him look weak, and because he’s decided that catering to white racism is a winning strategy.

Eugene Robinson:

Perhaps in an attempt to gain political advantage — and perhaps, as much evidence suggests, because it’s what he truly believes — Trump has used this moment to side with Lost Cause white supremacy. His all-caps tweets for “LAW & ORDER” sound like George Wallace when he was governor of Alabama; his demand for a militarized response to the protests reminds me of Bull Connor, the Birmingham commissioner of public safety who attacked nonviolent civil rights protesters with water hoses and vicious dogs.

Does this still work? More than anything else, Trump seems to be copying the Nixon campaigns from 1968 and 1972, which pandered to white fears of black criminals and resentment of civil rights and affirmative action programs. And then there was Reagan, who ran in 1980 against those welfare queens. George H.W. Bush used Willie Horton to defeat Michael Dukakis in 1988. In 1992 Bill Cllinton defanged the racial issue with the Sister Souljah moment. But for all the many ways I dislike him, I don’t remember that George W. Bush’s general election campaign did that much racial dog whistling — maybe I’m forgetting something — and then of course the next presidential winner was Barack Obama.

Polling over current events suggests that a large part of white America has moved past the dog whistles and black criminal hysteria that Trump is counting on. Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey, WaPo:

At a time when much of the country appears to be moving in a different direction, President Trump has charged into a series of fights over the nation’s racist legacy — gambling that taking divisive stances on Confederate symbols and policing will energize his mostly white supporters in November.

But many Republicans and even some of Trump’s own advisers worry that the approach risks further alienating voters who have already started to abandon him, including college-educated whites, and to harden opposition to him among minorities.

Though Trump has long sought to exploit class resentment and racial tensions for political gain, his decision to continue to do so in the wake of the death of George Floyd — an unarmed black man killed in Minneapolis policy custody — has left some in his orbit uneasy, and Democrats eager to capitalize on what some say is a racist president revealing his true beliefs.

The racism in Trump’s 2016 campaign was mostly pointed directly at President Obama, not at all African Americans, and some whites might not have recognized it as racism. But now you’d have to be as stupid as Trump to not see it.

There is irony here, because I believe a big reason Trump defeated Clinton in 2016, especially in the rust-belt states, was that she was the one who hadn’t kept up with the times and was out of touch with the mood of working class voters. But as this awful year drags on, Trump grows more and more out of step with the large majority of Americans. As I wrote a few days ago, Trump has lost ground even with his best demographics — working class whites and older voters. And I don’t think defending Confederate generals is going to help him any.

I can remember watching the great moments in civil rights history of the 1960s on the teevee — I was a child after all — and I think seeing the dogs and fire hoses and ugly racism acted out in plain view shocked a lot of white people into changing their views on equal rights. We’re having a similar moment, long overdue, now. Politicians who don’t keep up are likely to be sorry.

Even white southerners have other things to worry about, I believe.

Stuff to Read

Erin Aubry Kaplan, White tribalism is under assault — from white people. That’s an amazing development

Eric Alterman, You Don’t Have to Publish Both Sides When One Side Is Fascism

Eric Boehlert, How Fox News lost the Black Lives Matter debate

Ignorance and Bigotry Need Not Be Tolerated

Although the current archives only go back to 2005, I’ve been writing this blog for close to 19 years now.  And over those years I’ve linked to a lot of right-wing sites to show what sort of nuttery is going on in them.

One of those sites is Legal Insurrection, written by a fellow named William Jacobson. Over the years Jacobson has been a reliably consistent apologist for whatever outrageous nonsense the Right is fomenting, and I have commented on his work occasionally, although it’s been a long time. This is one example, from 2009, although I notice the Legal Insurrection post I was commenting on appears to have been removed.

However, Jacobson is also a professor of law at Cornell University, and it seems a couple of his recent blog posts about Black Lives Matter have inspired an effort to get him fired. In a post full of high-minded sentiments about intellectual freedom and the importance of vibrant intellectual communities, he writes, “Those posts accurately detail the history of how the Black Lives Matters Movement started, and the agenda of the founders which is playing out in the cultural purge and rioting taking place now.”

So let’s take a look. This one from June 2 is titled “The Bloodletting and Wilding Is Part of An Agenda To Tear Down The Country.”

Yeah, it’s 2020 and this specimen is still using the word wilding in the context of racial crime..

Let us consider now what Professor Jacobson calls “history.” I’m putting nearly the entire post here, because I genuinely want people to read it all the way through.

This has been a long time coming. At least a generation, maybe two. The left methodically has taken control of key institutions to implement an anti-American, anti-Capitalist agenda.

You send your kids to public schools and college, where they are taught from their earliest years that America and capitalism are the sources of evil in the world, that we are a systemically racist society that consumes ‘black and brown bodies,’ while socialist and communist systems are more equal and fair. It’s all a lie, but it’s a lie told by the teachers, professors, and administrators with power. The real racists are the people who obsess about race, and who judge people based on the color of their skin.

When your kids emerge from the social justice warfare meat grinder, you don’t recognize them anymore. Oh well, you shrug.

There is a concerted effort funded by leftist billionaires and high tech companies to control what you can say, and to silence you through mob action or social media throttling if you get out of line. The large corporate media, with only a couple of exceptions, is thoroughly corrupt and works every day to elect their preferred candidates, always Democrats.

The law enforcement system is being undermined by district attorneys funded by George Soros whose agenda is to prevent enforcement of laws, and politicians whose goal is to see those arrested released immediately without bail. We’re seeing that right now with rioters and looters almost immediately released. The next push is to defund the police.

Hollywood, The music industry. Television. Gone.

We still have the vote and can win elections, despite the disadvantage. But it’s not a guarantee. Which is why the left wants to subvert voting integrity.

All this time, you have seen bits and pieces, and figured that while you might not agree, it wasn’t a threat to our existence.

The wilding and looting should be your wake up call. When seconds counted, the police were pulled back by the policitians.

The goal is to destroy capitalism, and to seek revenge. The Black Lives Matter movement, founded based on fraudulent narratives of the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown cases, is led by anti-American, anti-capitalist activists. They have concocted a false narrative of mass murder of Blacks at the hands of police, when the statistics show otherwise. They will exploit George Floyd’s death mercilessly to drive that agenda. And they will have some success, because all the institutions listed above are behind them.

There are short term things that can be done, but it depends on the federal government because in the Democrat states where most of the violence took place, the politicians are part of the problem. There needs to be a massive and relentless tracking down of the people who helped coordinate the violence. It needs to start right now. Of course, it will stop on a dime if Joe Biden is elected, but it needs to be started. It should not take more than 2-3 months to accomplish this, and it will take the key criminals off the street in the federal system where activist District Attorney’s can’t interfere.

Democrat states and cities are in a bad way financially due to their own mismanagement of their economies and their tolerance of rioters and looters. They all will be seeking federal bailouts. Just say no, unless there is structural change.

But these are just a short term actions that will not change the rot in our institutions. I wish I had a long-term solution. That’s something that needs to be discussed in the coming weeks.

Amidst all this gloom, there is a ray of light. Most of the country didn’t riot and loot. Most of the people in the country don’t hate capitalism and want a Marxist revolution. Most of the country still loves the country. Don’t lose sight of that. If after two generations the radical left were not able to beat patriotism out of most Americans, there is a chance.

This wackjob is teaching at a major university, mind you.

I’m not going to take the time to refute all this nonsense — mostly, a festival of strawman fallacies — because it would take a book to do so, but in brief Jacobson brushes aside generations of racial oppression so that he can fit the Black Lives Matter movement into his deeper concerns about the Communist Takeover of Capitalism, or whatever. And the destruction of capitalism is all a nefarious plot fomented by “leftists.” It’s not like capitalism is failing on its own or anything. (See also “The Looming Bank Collapse” at The Atlantic, which I just read this morning.)

And, of course, he’s ignoring the way red, rural states are soaking up the tax dollars of those liberal urban centers, Blue states and their allegedly dysfunctional cities have been bailing out the poorer and more rural red states for decades. But let’s go on.

The other post that’s gotten Jacobson into trouble, “Reminder: ‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ is a fabricated narrative from the Michael Brown case” does get one point right — a whole lot of forensic evidence discredited the claim that Michael Brown was executed while he had his hands up in surrender.

But it’s not like the police shooting of Michael Brown was an isolated case and that black men and women aren’t executed by police on a dreadfully regular basis. Sometimes law-abiding people are killed by Amerian police while they do have their hands up. Sometimes they are in their own homes and asleep in their beds. And these atrocities keep happening, over and over and over. I can’t imagine how far up one’s ass one must keep one’s head to not be at least a little concerned about this.

Further, Michael Brown’s shooting was hardly an isolated incident in Ferguson, Missouri. A federal inquiry found a long pattern of abuse of Ferguson’s citizens at the hands of police.

The Police Department in Ferguson, Mo., has persistently and repeatedly violated the constitutional rights of African Americans, jailing them for minor offenses far more often than whites, using traffic stops to arrest them disproportionately and subjecting them to excessive force, a Justice Department investigation has concluded.

The investigation portrays a city in which police dogs were set upon blacks but not whites and where blacks were seven times more likely to be subjected to force than whites, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation’s findings.

Officers and municipal court officials in the St. Louis suburb exchanged racist emails, the investigation found, including one from 2008 predicting that President-elect Barack Obama would not be in office long because, it asked, “what black man holds a steady job for four years”? Another email relayed a joke in which a black woman receives $5,000 for having an abortion and, when she asks why, is told that the money came from the citizens group Crime Stoppers.

And even if we assume the shooting of Michael Brown was justified — and I’m not saying it was — this event was followed by absolutely outrageous behavior on the part of St. Louis police, including what has to be called an out-and-out police riot. And while Jacobson might not be aware of it, the Michael Brown incident took place against the backdrop of long-delayed justice for the shooting of  Anthony Lamar Smith by St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley. Will Bunch describes that bit of history here. Although the system let Stockley be acquitted, the St. Louis police board settled a wrongful death suit with Smith’s survivors for $900,000.

But in Jacobson’s mind, those simple black people are not really angry about police brutality and are just being stirred up by unnamed leftists who want to destroy capitalism.

It may be that William Jacobson is not dragging his wackjobbery into his classroom, and that he is competent at teaching whatever part of law he teaches. In that case, Cornell University might be justified in continuing to let him teach, which appears to be happening. It’s really hard to imagine that degree of bigotry doesn’t color the man’s professional work, but let’s continue.

The larger issue is, where is the balance between free speech and yelling fire in a crowded theater? Or, how much do we have to tolerate speech that is clearly harmful to our nation and society?

And then, of course, who gets to judge? Not the government, as a rule, because I don’t want the government to have censorship power. Even though the current White House thinks it does.

But Cornell Univeristy is not the government. Cornell has to consider whether keeping someone like Jacobson on as a professor is damaging the university’s standing and potentially driving better students to other universities. That possibility is one reason I think the Jacobson case requires widespread notice. If I were a recent college graduate with offers from more than one prestigious law school, this story ought to put Cornell at the bottom of the list.

It’s also the case that in the free marketplace of ideas, some ideas are worthwhile, and some are poison. And the First Amendment doesn’t guarantee that you won’t be criticized and ridiculed by other citizens for spewing out poison.

I’ve written elsewhere about how to protect liberal values without violating liberal values. See, for example, Tolerating Intolerance from December 2008. And it’s also the case that the Right perpetually uses every trick in the book to shut down speech they don’t like. See, for example “The Jackboot of Conservative Correctness” from June 2011.

Back in 2006 I wrote a post titled “Being Liberal Doesn’t Mean Being a Patsy.”

Some people don’t understand what tolerance is. It doesn’t mean being a patsy, or not respecting personal parameters. Righties in particular seem to think that because liberals value “tolerance” we’re supposed to stand aside like grinning idiots and approve of everything they do. Some righties think “tolerance” confers on them a right not to be disagreed with.

No; tolerance of public speech means I must not stop someone else from expressing an opinion. But “tolerance” doesn’t mean I can’t express my opinion of his opinion. Tolerance of behavior as a rule means tolerating behavior that is chosen from free will and not harming anyone else. It doesn’t mean I should stand aside if behavior is harming someone else. I don’t know why so many righties can’t grasp that.

And here we still are.

Bill Barr, Hacko di Tutti Hacki

“Hacko di Tutti Hacki” (hack of all hacks, in Italiano, sorta) is Charles Pierce’s invention from awhile back, and it makes me laugh. And it truly fits “Attorney General” Bill Barr. Here is Pierce, today:

Just as ancient tales were being revived about what a classic bully Attorney General Bill Barr was in his younger days, a revival premised on his apparent lust for some Antietam Creek cosplay in Lafayette Park, a retired federal judge popped up on Wednesday and let Barr have one right in the chops. The retired judge was named John Gleeson, and he had been tasked by Judge Emmett Sullivan to submit an amicus brief on the attempt by the Department of Justice to give Michael Flynn a belated walk on the charges to which Flynn already had pleaded guilty. Gleeson proceeded to stomp a mudhole in the DOJ.

And here are some highlights from John Gleeson’s brief:

“The Government’s ostensible grounds for seeking dismissal are conclusively disproven by its own briefs filed earlier in this very proceeding. They contradict and ignore this Court’s prior orders, which constitute law of the case. They are riddled with inexplicable and elementary errors of law and fact. And they depart from positions that the Government has taken in other cases.”
“The facts surrounding the filing of the Government’s motion constitute clear evidence of gross prosecutorial abuse. They reveal an unconvincing effort to disguise as legitimate a decision to dismiss that is based solely on the fact that Flynn is a political ally of President Trump.”
“The Court should deny leave because there is clear evidence of a gross abuse of prosecutorial power…The Government has engaged in highly irregular conduct to benefit a political ally of the President. The facts of this case overcome the presumption of regularity. The Court should therefore deny the Government’s motion to dismiss, adjudicate any remaining motions, and then sentence the Defendant.”
“That is about as straightforward a case of materiality as a prosecutor, court, or jury will ever see. In asserting otherwise, the Government struggles mightily to argue that Flynn’s false statements neither affected nor could have affected the FBI’s investigation of his and his colleagues’ potential ties to the Russian government.”

Oh, snap.


Everybody Knows What Trump Stand For

This is why it won’t matter what Trump says about racial equality and unification and whatever.

These meatheads mocking George Floyd’s death in front of Trump’s name are what Trump stands for. And that’s all he stands for.

Two of the meatheads have faced some consequences; one guy is a New Jersey corrections officer who has been banned from his workplace pending investigation. The kneeling guy was a FedEx employee who was subsequently fired.

The word is that Trump is going to give an address written by Stephen Miller, for pity’s sake. That’s about as useless as me writing a paper for the American Mathematical Society. The words won’t matter; it’s an exercise in box-checking. It might soothe a few Republican moderates looking for an excuse to not abandon ship, but that’s about it.

What the Polls Are Saying, and Will It Matter?

There is more news about Trump’s declining poll numbers; see Wave of New Polling Suggests an Erosion of Trump’s Support by Nate Cohn in the New York Times.

His approval rating has fallen to negative 12.7 percentage points among registered or likely voters, down from negative 6.7 points on April 15, according to FiveThirtyEight estimates. And now a wave of new polls shows Joe Biden with a significant national lead, placing him in a stronger position to oust an incumbent president than any challenger since Bill Clinton in the summer of 1992.

We’ve got a way to go yet. But keep reading the Nate Cohn article —

Over the shorter term, the decline in the president’s standing has been particularly pronounced among white voters without a college degree, helping to explain why the Trump campaign has felt compelled to air advertisements in Ohio and Iowa, two mostly white working-class battleground states where Mr. Trump won by nearly 10 points four years ago.

In the most recent polls, white voters without a college degree back the president by 21 points, down from 31 points in March and April and down from the 29-point lead Mr. Trump held in the final polls of registered voters in 2016.

Mr. Trump didn’t just lose support to the undecided column; Mr. Biden ticked up to an average of 37 percent among white voters without a degree. The figure would be enough to assure Mr. Biden the presidency, given his considerable strength among white college graduates. In the most recent polls, white college graduates back Mr. Biden by a 20-point margin, up four points since the spring. It’s also an eight-point improvement for the Democratic nominee since 2016, and a 26-point improvement since 2012.

Trump is also doing far worse with women voters than he did in 2016, and he’s slightly behind Biden with older voters. I’m not sure if there is a demographic in the country in which Trump support is holding steady, actually.

There’s also a new podcast at FiveThirtyEight about the erosion of Trump’s support, which I am listening to as I keyboard. People are not impressed by Trump’s handling of either the protests or the pandemic. However, the statistics nerds remind us, Biden’s advantage in national polls won’t necessarily translate into a win in the Electoral College, especially if the gap between Biden and Trump is only four or five percentage points.

Greg Sargent proposes that these numbers are showing us a big cultural shift in white America.

One possible reason for all this can be found in the new Post/Schar School poll: There is a very large shift underway in how white voters view the issues underlying the protests.

Only 35 percent of Americans overall approve of Trump’s handling of the protests, the Post poll finds. Meanwhile, 74 percent support the protests and 69 percent say the killing of George Floyd shows broader problems in how police treat black Americans.

But note these findings among whites: Only 39 percent of them approve of Trump’s approach, while 57 percent disapprove; 69 percent of them support the protests; and 68 percent of them say Floyd’s death reveals systemic police mistreatment of blacks.

In these cases, there’s not a big difference along educational lines: Strikingly, a bare majority of non-college whites disapproves of Trump’s handling of the protests. And large majorities of both non-college and college-educated whites support the protests and say Floyd’s killing shows broader problems in the police treatment of black Americans.

Also striking: The 69 percent of Americans who believe the killing represents broader systemic problems represent a 26-point shift since 2014, when only 43 percent said the same on a comparable question.

The many videos of police brutality and murders probably are playing a part in this shift, but I doubt that’s the only factor at work. It may be that working class whites are finally getting a clue that the system doesn’t work for them, either, and that’s not because of nonwhites. or immigrants, or any other oppressed and marginalized group.

And then there’s the person of Trump himself, who can’t even fake being a decent human being for ten minutes straight. It may be that a lot of people are just now realizing what a colossal asshole Trump really is. The real Trump is not the guy from The Apprentice they thought they were voting for.  For example:

As Jeff Tiedrich of Smirking Chimp commented, “I have to confess I did not have ‘That 75 year old guy faked his own bleeding head trauma’ on my Donald Trump Batshittery Bingo card.” The gentleman who was pushed is still hospitalized, btw.  Politico reports that the tweet made some Republicans “cringe.” But the only way they’ll get Trump to be less of an asshole is if they lock him in the bunker and cut off his Internet access. That’s who he is. He can’t be otherwise.

And this takes us to the fortunes of other Republicans on the ballot with him. Paul Waldman:

Right now, Trump surely knows he’s in trouble, but he doesn’t seem to have much in the way of answers. Instead, he’s doing what he has always done: trying to create conflict and division, sending dozens or even hundreds of tweets a day, hoping that schoolyard nicknames, juvenile insults and fearmongering will ensure his success.

So far it’s not working. Republicans afraid he’ll drag them down may hope that he can pull off another unexpected victory. But even they may now realize that his shocking 2016 win was mostly a spectacular coincidence of circumstances. Yes, he realized when other Republican politicians didn’t (or couldn’t) that there was an appetite within his party for naked bigotry and xenophobia. But it’s not as though Trump planned to have then-FBI Director James B. Comey cast suspicion on Hillary Clinton 11 days before the election.

Trump’s allies are trying to create a repeat of those events by launching investigations of Biden in the desperate hope that they can uncover something damaging. But at the moment, that too looks ineffectual. Which means they’ll have to rely on Trump to come up with some way to turn things around.

It may be, the FiveThirtyEight nerds say, that losing faith in Trump will not translate into votes for Biden. But it may mean that a lot of one-time Trump voters will just stay home in November. And that would be a disaster for Republicans in other elections. Heh.

As I said yesterday, we’re at the mercy of events now. Trump isn’t going to change tactics — I understand he’s even pushing to restart his big rallies soon — so it will take an event I can’t imagine to pump his numbers up again. But a lot happens I didn’t imagine before it happened. And then there’s the possibility that the election itself will be such a mess that there’s no clear winner, and of course our courts are now stuffed with Federalist Society hacks, courtesy of Mitch McConnell.

If this were a novel, I’d be skipping to the ending already.

Stuff to Read

Do read American Psycho (“Jared Kushner—climber, sycophant, snob—is the perfect avatar of elite incompetence for our times.”) by David Roth at New Republic. Absolutely delicious snark.

Pair the David Roth piece with Ivanka Trump’s Vicious Behind-the-Scene Power Plays by Nancy LeTourneau at Washington Monthly.

Why Is Trump’s Campaign Buying Ads in Markets He Has No Chance of Winning? by Martin Longman. Basically, the Trump campaign is running ads in DC so that Trump will see them when he watches television and be happy. Seriously.

NPR, No Sign Of Antifa So Far In Justice Department Cases Brought Over Unrest. Do tell.

75 year old Martin Gugino, after being shoved by police.