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Journal Archives

Rick Wilson: Policy papers are a delusion, Democrats. This is a Trump referendum and you're blowing

Policy papers are a delusion, Democrats. This is a Trump referendum and you're blowing it.
Tough love for my Democratic friends: All their 2020 nominee needs is a short, pithy slogan and the ability to cure the infection Trump has given us.
Rick Wilson
Opinion contributor

For many Democrats, the past 25 years of politics were defined by two beautiful, generational candidacies run by two beautiful, generational candidates. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were gifted political figures, charismatic, empathic and raised to play the cool game of television politics.

They were also two of the only bright spots in that time frame. From 1994 on, the Republican Party conducted a slow, grinding march through congressional, local and statewide offices. Sure, the GOP wasn’t immune to setbacks, but the trend line for the Democrats was clear: powerful majorities in urban and coastal cities; beat-downs elsewhere. Yes, Donald Trump is flipping seats and states blue, but you’re not out of the woods. With Clinton (Bill, only) and Obama, Democrats could forget for a moment about Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Al Gore, Mike Dukakis and others who lacked the skills to win.

So, I’m going to give my Democratic friends some very tough love. This election, like every election, has a not-so-secret rulebook, and as of today you’re ignoring it.

Forget the plans, get a good slogan

The election, like all presidential reelection campaigns, is a referendum on Trump. Full stop. Democrats who believe that their massive policy papers and plans to reshape government will sway the electorate are living in a fool’s paradise. I’m not judging your policies. I literally don’t care one whit. I’m just telling you that they don’t matter, and never do. Trump’s policy fit on a trucker hat. Obama’s fit on a poster or in a three-word call of “Yes We Can.” Policy is a delusion.

The referendum on Trump will be based on his actions, his affect, his character, his corruption, and how he is reshaping this nation into a statist personality cult and away from our best values. It’s not like he doesn’t give Democrats something to work with.

To win, your candidate needs to be the most effective counterforce to Trump, a remedy for the disease with which he has infected our body politic. That’s it. Heart, guts and being great on TV beat brains and policy over and over again. Every aspect of the Democratic campaign's communications effort from grassroots door-knockers to earned and social media to paid advertising must be focused on creating this referendum.


Posted by babylonsister | Fri Sep 6, 2019, 06:53 AM (22 replies)

What If President Trump Truly Decompensated?


What If President Trump Truly Decompensated?
Paul Waldman
September 4, 2019
The answer is profoundly troubling.

Trump has around him an infrastructure of support that will work tirelessly to excuse, explain and justify literally anything he does, no matter how terrifying.

In the 1971 Woody Allen film Bananas, after a revolutionary leader succeeds in overthrowing the government of a small Latin American country, he begins issuing bizarre edicts. He declares the country’s official language to now be Swedish, and announces that “all citizens will be required to change their underwear every half hour. Underwear will be worn on the outside, so we can check.” The new president’s aides, realizing that he has gone off the deep end, immediately remove him from power.

Our current situation would resemble that kind of absurdist comedy were it not for the fact that the stakes are so high and the consequences of Donald Trump’s presidency so grave. But the real difference between America today and Bananas lie not in the president’s behavior but in the apparatus of support that surrounds him.

One can make a convincing argument that President Trump has become so erratic and his public comments so disturbing that he has shown himself to be mentally incapable of carrying out his duties. Alternatively, one could argue that not much has really changed, and in fact he has been this erratic since he took office. Even if you don’t agree with either of those assertions, it’s worth asking: What would happen if Trump truly decompensated? The answer is profoundly troubling.


In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson suffered a debilitating stroke, and for the last year of his term in office, the government was essentially run by his wife Edith, all while Wilson’s administration pretended that he was in command and nothing was amiss. We look back on that and say it could never happen today, because of the far greater demands on the president and the ubiquitous gaze of the news media. If the president was incapacitated, we’d know about it almost immediately.

But what if we knew about it, but we couldn’t do anything about it? The most likely scenario of Trump losing his marbles is not that the 25th Amendment is invoked and Vice President Pence takes over, but that it would become just one more partisan controversy. Democrats would say, “For Pete’s sake, the president has plainly gone mad—he just ordered the Air Force to nuke the moon!” Then Republicans would say, “No, in fact his unique genius is more evident than ever, and the moon has had this coming for a long time but other presidents didn’t have the guts.”

Every day on Fox News, programming would alternate between discussions of the moon's dangerous perfidy and attacks on Democrats for taking the moon's side over America's Mainstream news organizations would write stories headlined, “Parties disagree over moon-bombing plan,” while pundits caution Democrats not to get too shrill in criticizing the president lest they alienate white blue-collar voters in the Midwest for whom nuking the moon sounds like just the kind of action-packed initiative America needs.

After all we’ve been through up until now, that doesn’t sound like a particularly outlandish series of events, does it?
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Sep 5, 2019, 04:56 PM (6 replies)

We Always Knew Mike Pence Was Irrelevant, and Now We Know He's Corrupt, Too

We Always Knew Mike Pence Was Irrelevant, and Now We Know He’s Corrupt, Too
For two-plus years, the fawning vice president merely made a fool of himself. But after he stayed at Trump’s Ireland hotel, he’s much worse than that.
Margaret Carlson
Updated 09.05.19 10:00AM ET / Published 09.04.19 9:02PM ET

Until Vice President Mike Pence chose to stay at a Trump hotel 180 miles from where his meetings in Ireland were taking place, he fell somewhere in the middle of vice presidents: those who did so little to distinguish the office no one remembers them—Elbridge Gerry, Hannibal Hamlin, Dan Quayle—and those who did so much to disgrace the office—Calvin Coolidge, Spiro Agnew, Dick Cheney—that we can’t forget them.

Pence has moved from the first category to the second, not for dismissing claims that Trump paid off a porn star as baseless. It’s because rather than impose his Bible-thumping religion, with its commandment “Thou shalt not steal” on Trump, he has let Trump corrupt him. A glance at Trivago would reveal numerous hotels smack dab in the middle of where Pence’s meetings were taking place, and yet when Trump said, according to Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short, “Why don’t you stay at my place?” he said yes.

When I invite someone to stay at my place, even if they chip the wedding china and drink all the good wine during their visit, I don’t bill them. But what “staying at my place” means when it’s Trump doing the inviting is that the taxpayer will pay dearly—likely six figures for the whole entourage (a suite with ocean view, high-count thread sheets, in-floor heat, and bespoke decor goes for $1,000 per night), and that’s without the cost of the commute by helicopter, or the bar tab.

The defense that Mike Pompeo’s State Department purportedly approved every last dollar of the trip is just confirmation that everyone’s on the take.


Posted by babylonsister | Thu Sep 5, 2019, 04:39 PM (18 replies)

The Pentagon Wants More Control Over the News. What Could Go Wrong?

September 5, 2019 6:00AM ET
The Pentagon Wants More Control Over the News. What Could Go Wrong?
The Pentagon is using a moral panic over “fake news” to gain influence over the domestic news landscape
By Matt Taibbi

If there’s a worse idea than the Pentagon becoming Editor-in-Chief of America, I can’t remember it. But we’re getting there:

From Bloomberg over Labor Day weekend:

Fake news and social media posts are such a threat to U.S. security that the Defense Department is launching a project to repel “large-scale, automated disinformation attacks,” as the top Republican in Congress blocks efforts to protect the integrity of elections.

One of the Pentagon’s most secretive agencies, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is developing “custom software that can unearth fakes hidden among more than 500,000 stories, photos, video and audio clips.”

Once upon a time, when progressives still reflexively distrusted the military, DARPA was a liberal punchline, known for helping invent the Internet but also for developing lunatic privacy-invading projects like LifeLog, a program to “gather in a single place just about everything an individual says, sees, or does.”

DARPA now is developing a semantic analysis program called “SemaFor” and an image analysis program called “MediFor,” ostensibly designed to prevent the use of fake images or text. The idea would be to develop these technologies to help private Internet providers sift through content.

It’s the latest in a string of stories about new methods of control over information flow that should, but for some reason do not, horrify every working journalist.


Posted by babylonsister | Thu Sep 5, 2019, 04:31 PM (1 replies)

Trump's Middle East Peace Negotiator Quits



Trump’s Middle East Peace Negotiator Quits
September 5, 2019 at 11:31 am EDT By Taegan Goddard

“President Trump’s lead negotiator on his highly anticipated Arab-Israeli peace plan will be leaving the White House soon, throwing further into question the administration’s efforts to resolve the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Jason Greenblatt, who formerly served as the Trump Organization’s chief legal officer, had originally committed to serving for two years but extended his stay as the plan hit several delays, including political uncertainties in Israel.”
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Sep 5, 2019, 11:49 AM (8 replies)

Buttigieg on Trump hurricane map: 'I feel sorry for the president'

Buttigieg on Trump hurricane map: 'I feel sorry for the president'
By Justin Wise - 09/05/19 09:20 AM EDT

Pete Buttigieg on Thursday said that he felt "sorry" for President Trump after he displayed a map that appeared to have altered Hurricane Dorian's original path with a marker.

"I’m really worried about that," the South Bend, Ind., mayor and Democratic presidential candidate said on CNN's "New Day."

"I feel sorry for the president, and that is not the way we should feel about the most powerful figure in this country," he said. "Somebody on whose wisdom and judgment our lives literally depend."
"I don’t know if it felt it necessary to pull out a sharpie and change the map. I don’t know if it was one of his aides believed they had to do that to protect his ego," he added. "No matter how you cut it, this is unbelievably sad state of affairs. If our presidency is not in good shape, then our country is not in good shape. On one level it’s laughable, on another it is exactly why we got to do something different."

The comments from Buttigieg came just a day after Trump showed off a map displaying Hurricane Dorian's path during an Oval Office briefing on the government's efforts to address the storm. The map displayed Hurricane Dorian's expected path, and appeared to include a marker-drawn addition to indicate that it would hit the southern edge of Alabama.


Posted by babylonsister | Thu Sep 5, 2019, 09:30 AM (6 replies)

Serious question. Where does Uncle Joe stand on fracking? Thanks. nt

Posted by babylonsister | Wed Sep 4, 2019, 10:56 PM (30 replies)

Mike Pence Greeted with Gay Disco Protest in Ireland

Mike Pence Greeted with Gay Disco Protest in Ireland

Irish protest echoes guerilla actions outside Pence’s home in Washington DC.
By Matt Baume
September 04 2019 12:57 PM EDT

Irish civil rights groups may not have been able to keep Mike Pence out of the country, but at least they could throw a good party while he was there.

Hundreds of people gathered outside the Dáil, a house of the Irish legislature, for the fittingly named “Disco at the Dáil” on September 3rd. Participants waved rainbow flags, wore masks with Mike Pence’s face, and danced to music by The Village People and RuPaul.

Colm O. Gorman, executive director of Amnesty International in Ireland, said LGBTQ+ organizers in Washington, D.C. staged similar protests after Donald Trump’s election.

“Today was a both a celebration of who we are in Ireland now, as well as a show of solidarity to those being hurt by the Trump/ Pence administration’s policies,” Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, tells Out in a statement.

Organizers called the event “a celebration of all the people that Pence and Trump’s cruel policies are hurting; women, refugees, migrants, and [LGBTQ+] people,” while Amnesty added that the event was intended to show Pence that he can’t go back to the USA and say that Ireland supports him.”


Posted by babylonsister | Wed Sep 4, 2019, 10:04 PM (2 replies)

California becomes the first state in the country to outlaw the fur trade


California becomes the first state in the country to outlaw the fur trade
Gabrielle Canon


Under the new law, fur dealer and fur agent licenses will no longer be issued.

“Not only does the cruel fur trapping trade decimate our increasingly vulnerable wildlife populations, running this program doesn’t even make fiscal policy sense,” California Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, the San Diego Democrat who wrote the legislation, said in a statement. “Taxpayers are subsidizing this unnecessary commercial activity because the cost of managing this program isn’t even covered by the revenue from trapping license fees.”

Backed by animal advocacy organizations, Center for Biological Diversity and Social Compassion in Legislation, proponents of the new bill emphasized that it brings the state in line with its environmental ideals, prioritizing wildlife watching — which contributed close to $3.8 billion to the state economy in 2017 — over animal cruelty.

“Today marks a milestone in the process of bringing California’s wildlife laws into the 21st century,” Brendan Cummings, conservation director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “The overwhelming majority of Californians value our wildlife alive, not to be trapped and cruelly slaughtered for foreign fur markets. We thank Governor Newsom for relegating this cruel and antiquated practice to the dustbin of history in California.”
Posted by babylonsister | Wed Sep 4, 2019, 09:58 PM (14 replies)

Steve King says he drank from toilet at detention center


Steve King says he drank from toilet at detention center
By Zack Budryk - 09/04/19 04:55 PM EDT

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) claimed to have drunk from a toilet in a migration center but appeared to be describing the water fountain attached to the facility’s toilet at a town hall Wednesday in the town of Eagle Grove.

“I actually went into that cell where it was reported that [migrants] were advised they had to drink out of the toilet. I took a drink out of there. And actually pretty good!” King says in a clip from the town hall.

“There’s these toilets in these prisons [that] are stainless steel. They’re built so that they are semi-indestructible by the inmates that are there and in the back where the lid would be on our toilet, that’s also sealed,” King added. “It’s not drinking out of the toilet, it’s drinking out of the water fountain that’s integral with the back of the toilet.”

King’s comments appeared to be in reference to an account by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who said that she was told by detainees that they were specifically told that the water fountains were broken and that personnel suggested they drink from the toilet bowl instead.

King did not acknowledge the distinction in his comments, suggesting that a “language barrier” led to reports that migrants were made to drink from toilets.


Posted by babylonsister | Wed Sep 4, 2019, 05:45 PM (7 replies)
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