Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Trump's Constant Lying Is a Power Game Called "Fuckery," and He's Winning At It

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Amy Winehouse, live, 2010

by Gaius Publius

Yes, Virginia, that man said "fuckery." It's a lovely word with a lovely place in hip-hop culture. And it's exactly the word we need to understand Trump's (and really, all Republicans') outrageous lies and shenanigans, and also how to deal with them effectively.

Bottom line: Donald Trump isn't just lying, he's "fucking with us" and challenging us to call him on it. This is exactly the "Who do you believe, me or your lying eyes?" problem. And here as there, it's not about the lies; it's a naked show of power. It's about whether one person can impose his will on another person and make him publicly ignore the truth. This interaction is especially true of Trump and the national media, which Trump needs to bring to heel in order to rule for the next four years.

Cheating husband to spouse: "I can make you say you didn't see what you saw. Now, are you going to leave me? Thought not."

Trump to the media: "I can say whatever I want and make you swallow it. I can make you "fact-check" my language instead of laughing in my face for trying it. Watch me do it ... again."

Fuckery is a power game, and pretending it isn't a power game — pretending its a game about truth instead — is what losers do. Fact-checking someone who's fucking with you is like correcting the grammar on a death threat. Once you do that, once you play the game that way, it's over. Your side just lost. 

The Fuckery of Donald Trump

Here's more on Trump and his fuckery from Shawn Hamilton, writing at the Huffington Post (bolded emphasis mine):
The Birth Of F**kery: How To Think About Donald Trump's Lies

Yes, [Trump] lies ― constantly, badly and ridiculously ― but the assembled lies create a whole that is greater and more awe-inspiring than the parts....

“Lies” doesn’t quite capture the distance between these statements and truth. Staid, boring, newspaper language has gotten editors tied up in knots. What do you call a lie that causes you to pause and rewind? What do you call a claim that is so patently and verifiably false that you feel insulted for even being expected to debate it? What do you call a sudden shift in position that demands that you ignore both your “lying eyes” and the official record? “Brazen dishonesty” does not quite do it. Neither does saying that he goes “beyond lying.” It’s not even “bullshit,” which is a lie thrown off carelessly, with no power dynamic at play.

Hip-hop has a better word for it: fuckery.
Fuckery is telling a lie so big it messes with the people hearing it — which is its goal. 
Fuckery is ascendant in our time, and while Trump is not its inventor, he is its most effective practitioner at the moment. The urban dictionary defines fuckery as “absolute bullshit; utter nonsense; something rather suspicious that can bring forth uneasy, angry and irritated feelings.” It’s a lie that is told, not just to achieve an objective, but to demonstrate the power of the person telling the lie relative to those affected by it. Fuckery creates a wall between the person or group telling the lie and the people hearing it. Fuckery throws down a gauntlet: It is too big to ignore, yet so absurd that it promises to debase anybody who grapples with it. It makes a mockery of the very idea of truth.
Fuckery isn't just words, it can be deeds as well. And it isn't just part of Trump's domain.

Fuckery & the Constitutional Coup

Mitch McConnell and the rest of the Republicans are "fucking with us" over Obama's Supreme Court nomination: "Consider Senate Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) obstruction of President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick Merrick Garland. For McConnell and other Republicans to completely block the confirmation process was outrageous. McConnell’s claim that he obstructed so that the “American people have a voice” is ridiculous. But for McConnell to say that the American people won’t tolerate Democrats obstructing Trump while he is currently obstructing Obama is pure fuckery."

I would argue that McConnell's so-called obstruction was fuckery too, a naked power play. As soon as we call it "obstruction" — as the press has constantly done — and not outright theft — which it certainly was — we and the media accept his premise, and thus we lose. We're "fact-checking" instead of making a concerted effort to steal what was stolen. Calling McConnell's theft act an "obstruction" allows it, forgives it, normalizes it, and guarantees it will happen again. The right response is to treat it as a power play and respond with a power play of equal force and magnitude. That didn't happen.

What McConnell did was actually a kind of coup, a constitutional coup, but a coup nonetheless. He used the Constitution to achieve a goal opposite to what the Constitution intends to occur. In the same way, the Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Gore was a constitutional coup as well.

Did anyone in the mainstream or "liberal" press call Bush v. Gore a coup? No, they disbelieved the evidence of their eyes, regardless of what they privately thought, and publicly said they "saw nothing." This is the way fuckery always wins.

So What Do We Do? (How Hip-Hop Treats Fuckery)

Hamilton continues: "Fuckery is a capital offense in hip-hop. Artists, labels and hangers-on get away with all kinds of things they shouldn’t, but there is no spectacle large enough, no “establishment” legitimate enough, and no fan important enough to defend fuckery once it’s been identified." He offers two examples:
An artist that transforms into a gangster overnight like Hammer in 1994 or Ray J in 2011 is mocked and dismissed unless they can provide some extraordinary evidence to support their extraordinary claims.
And:
[W]hen Ray Benzino’s group Made Men received an extraordinarily coveted 4.5 mics rating from The Source for their debut album, putting it on par with Biggie Small’s “Ready to Die” and higher than Jay Z’s “Reasonable Doubt,” fans immediately called bullshit. But it was more than bullshit. It was fuckery, because Benzino was known to have close ties to the magazine, which explained why the album received the rating. Fans trusted their “lying eyes” ― or ears ― and The Source’s credibility took a hit. Standards remained high. Made Men was not normalized. And fans that defend wack music are still judged accordingly. We need to take the same approach to voters.

The Source took a hit because it committed a mockable offense ― and was mocked. It was not, however, “fact checked.” That would have given Made Men’s 4.5 mic rating an air of legitimacy.
 What hip-hop culture can do, we can do.

Believe Your Eyes and Say So: "He's Not Lying, He's Fucking With Us"

Trump is committing a "mockable offense" when he lies as he does, and the media lays down for him, normalizes him, and "ignores their lying eyes" every time they don't treat him as something fundamentally different than everyone else who's held the office he holds.

Not that everyone in that office has been a decent person — very far from it. But Trump and the rest of the Republicans have taken manipulation of the press to a brand new low. He fucks with them to their face and dares them to take it. So far, they do.

After all, do even the mighty hosts of MSNBC call out these lies as "lies," or do they use words like "counter-factual," again and again and again? Do they call out the constant lying as "pathological" — which it certainly is if it's not fuckery? Not in my hearing, but maybe my ears are lying to me too.

GP
  

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Is Donald J Trump Nothing More Than Steve Bannon's And Robert Mercer's Plot Against America?

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When push comes stop shove, McCain, Graham and Rubio won't be standing up to Trumpism. If you ever thought otherwise, you were delusional-- maybe more so in Rubio's case, but Republicans are going to be pushed a lot further before they join any kind of resistance. I hope they've all read Phil Roth's 2004 novel, The Plot Against America. (In fact, I hope everyone has-- and in pursuit of that hope, I've added it to the DWT Book Shoppe, as you'll see by hitting the title link in the last sentence.) Anyway, Roth's book can be categorized as alternative history, prescient alternative history. Set in the 1940s, instead of Trump, the fascist in charge is Charles Lindberg, who has defeated FDR when he tried for an unprecedented third term.

In the new issue of the New Yorker Judith Thurman asks the same question everyone who ever read The Plot Against America is asking, has it happened here? Already? "The historical Lindbergh," she writes, "was an isolationist who espoused a catchphrase that Donald Trump borrowed for his Presidential campaign, and for his Inaugural Address: 'America First.' The fictional Lindbergh, like the actual Trump, expressed admiration for a murderous European dictator, and his election emboldened xenophobes. In Roth’s novel, a foreign power-- Nazi Germany-- meddles in an American election, leading to a theory that the President is being blackmailed. In real life, U.S. intelligence agencies are investigating Trump’s ties to Vladimir Putin and the possibility that a dossier of secret information-- kompromat-- gives Russia leverage with his regime.
Last week, Roth was asked, via e-mail, if it has happened here. He responded, “It is easier to comprehend the election of an imaginary President like Charles Lindbergh than an actual President like Donald Trump. Lindbergh, despite his Nazi sympathies and racist proclivities, was a great aviation hero who had displayed tremendous physical courage and aeronautical genius in crossing the Atlantic in 1927. He had character and he had substance and, along with Henry Ford, was, worldwide, the most famous American of his day. Trump is just a con artist. The relevant book about Trump’s American forebear is Herman Melville’s The Confidence-Man, the darkly pessimistic, daringly inventive novel-- Melville’s last-- that could just as well have been called The Art of the Scam.”


Art by William Wegman


American reality, the “American berserk,” Roth has noted, makes it harder to write fiction. Does Donald Trump outstrip the novelist’s imagination?

Roth replied, “It isn’t Trump as a character, a human type-- the real-estate type, the callow and callous killer capitalist-- that outstrips the imagination. It is Trump as President of the United States.

“I was born in 1933,” he continued, “the year that F.D.R. was inaugurated. He was President until I was twelve years old. I’ve been a Roosevelt Democrat ever since. I found much that was alarming about being a citizen during the tenures of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. But, whatever I may have seen as their limitations of character or intellect, neither was anything like as humanly impoverished as Trump is: ignorant of government, of history, of science, of philosophy, of art, incapable of expressing or recognizing subtlety or nuance, destitute of all decency, and wielding a vocabulary of seventy-seven words that is better called Jerkish than English.”

Roth retired from writing at seventy-seven, but, given Trump’s threats to muzzle journalism that is critical of him, what role does he see for American writers of today?

“Unlike writers in Eastern Europe in the nineteen-seventies, American writers haven’t had their driver’s licenses confiscated and their children forbidden to matriculate in academic schools. Writers here don’t live enslaved in a totalitarian police state, and it would be unwise to act as if we did, unless-- or until-- there is a genuine assault on our rights and the country is drowning in Trump’s river of lies. In the meantime, I imagine writers will continue robustly to exploit the enormous American freedom that exists to write what they please, to speak out about the political situation, or to organize as they see fit.”

Many passages in The Plot Against America echo feelings voiced today by vulnerable Americans-- immigrants and minorities as alarmed by Trump’s election as the Jews of Newark are frightened by Lindbergh’s. The book also chronicles their impulse of denial. Lindbergh’s election makes clear to the seven-year-old “Philip Roth” that “the unfolding of the unforeseen was everything. Turned wrong way around, the relentless unforeseen was what we schoolchildren studied as ‘History,’ a harmless history, where everything unexpected in its own time is chronicled on the page as inevitable. The terror of the unforeseen is what the science of history hides, turning a disaster into an epic.”

Asked if this warning has come to pass, Roth e-mailed, “My novel wasn’t written as a warning. I was just trying to imagine what it would have been like for a Jewish family like mine, in a Jewish community like Newark, had something even faintly like Nazi anti-Semitism befallen us in 1940, at the end of the most pointedly anti-Semitic decade in world history. I wanted to imagine how we would have fared, which meant I had first to invent an ominous American government that threatened us. As for how Trump threatens us, I would say that, like the anxious and fear-ridden families in my book, what is most terrifying is that he makes any and everything possible, including, of course, the nuclear catastrophe.”
Goal Thermometer Like I hope everyone realizes, it's not going to be McCain, Graham, Jeff Flake, Ben Sasse, Adam Kinzinger, Susan Collins, Rand Paul, let alone Little Marco, who will ever lead the resistance to Trumpism. Nor can be expect much more than hollow verbiage from Schumer. If you want to see real leadership against Trumpism, it's going to come from grassroots leaders like ⁨Linda Sarsour and proven and courageous progressive office-holders, real ones like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Ted Lieu, Pramila Jayapal, Luis Gutierrez, Raúl Grijalva, and Jamie Raskin. Blue America is determined to continue aggressively recruiting men and women for the 2018 congressional elections who will stand up to Trumpism and stop him and his lackeys in their tracks. Right now we have two committed candidates already running. Please consider helping them both by tapping on the thermometer on the right.

After the election, distinguished Yale-based historian Timothy Snyder-- an expert on the dangers of fascism-- took to his Facebook page to compile 20 lessons Americans should learned about combatting the rise of Trumpism or fascism or whatever you want to call it, in light of the European experience of the 20th Century.
Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so. Here are twenty lessons from the twentieth century, adapted to the circumstances of today.

1. Do not obey in advance. Much of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then start to do it without being asked. You've already done this, haven't you? Stop. Anticipatory obedience teaches authorities what is possible and accelerates unfreedom.

2. Defend an institution. Follow the courts or the media, or a court or a newspaper. Do not speak of "our institutions" unless you are making them yours by acting on their behalf. Institutions don't protect themselves. They go down like dominoes unless each is defended from the beginning.

3. Recall professional ethics. When the leaders of state set a negative example, professional commitments to just practice become much more important. It is hard to break a rule-of-law state without lawyers, and it is hard to have show trials without judges.

4. When listening to politicians, distinguish certain words. Look out for the expansive use of "terrorism" and "extremism." Be alive to the fatal notions of "exception" and "emergency." Be angry about the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary.

5. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives. When the terrorist attack comes, remember that all authoritarians at all times either await or plan such events in order to consolidate power. Think of the Reichstag fire. The sudden disaster that requires the end of the balance of power, the end of opposition parties, and so on, is the oldest trick in the Hitlerian book. Don't fall for it.

6. Be kind to our language. Avoid pronouncing the phrases everyone else does. Think up your own way of speaking, even if only to convey that thing you think everyone is saying. (Don't use the internet before bed. Charge your gadgets away from your bedroom, and read.) What to read? Perhaps The Power of the Powerless by Václav Havel, 1984 by George Orwell, The Captive Mind by Czesław Milosz, The Rebel by Albert Camus, The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt, or Nothing is True and Everything is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev.

7. Stand out. Someone has to. It is easy, in words and deeds, to follow along. It can feel strange to do or say something different. But without that unease, there is no freedom. And the moment you set an example, the spell of the status quo is broken, and others will follow.




8. Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.

Art by Tim O'Brien


9. Investigate. Figure things out for yourself. Spend more time with long articles. Subsidize investigative journalism by subscribing to print media. Realize that some of what is on your screen is there to harm you. Learn about sites that investigate foreign propaganda pushes.

10. Practice corporeal politics. Power wants your body softening in your chair and your emotions dissipating on the screen. Get outside. Put your body in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. Make new friends and march with them.

11. Make eye contact and small talk. This is not just polite. It is a way to stay in touch with your surroundings, break down unnecessary social barriers, and come to understand whom you should and should not trust. If we enter a culture of denunciation, you will want to know the psychological landscape of your daily life.

12. Take responsibility for the face of the world. Notice the swastikas and the other signs of hate. Do not look away and do not get used to them. Remove them yourself and set an example for others to do so.

13. Hinder the one-party state. The parties that took over states were once something else. They exploited a historical moment to make political life impossible for their rivals. Vote in local and state elections while you can.

14. Give regularly to good causes, if you can. Pick a charity and set up autopay. Then you will know that you have made a free choice that is supporting civil society helping others doing something good.

15. Establish a private life. Nastier rulers will use what they know about you to push you around. Scrub your computer of malware. Remember that email is skywriting. Consider using alternative forms of the internet, or simply using it less. Have personal exchanges in person. For the same reason, resolve any legal trouble. Authoritarianism works as a blackmail state, looking for the hook on which to hang you. Try not to have too many hooks.

16. Learn from others in other countries. Keep up your friendships abroad, or make new friends abroad. The present difficulties here are an element of a general trend. And no country is going to find a solution by itself. Make sure you and your family have passports.

17. Watch out for the paramilitaries. When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching around with torches and pictures of a Leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-Leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the game is over.

18. Be reflective if you must be armed. If you carry a weapon in public service, God bless you and keep you. But know that evils of the past involved policemen and soldiers finding themselves, one day, doing irregular things. Be ready to say no. (If you do not know what this means, contact the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and ask about training in professional ethics.)

19. Be as courageous as you can. If none of us is prepared to die for freedom, then all of us will die in unfreedom.

20. Be a patriot. The incoming president is not. Set a good example of what America means for the generations to come. They will need it.



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Monday, January 23, 2017

News Flash! Spicer! Conway! The Trump White House Is Now Officially An Insane Asylum

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White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is on the job.

by Noah

That the Trump White House has become a home for crazy people shouldn't come as a surprise to any sane observer of the events of recent years. Face it: We've seen the Republican Party cross over the edge of sanity since the dawn of the Tea Party. That was the point where it became apparent that the Republican Party had fully become the Crackpot Party. I don't need to recount the Bizarro World antics of the likes of Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Louie "The Bestiality Guy" Gohmert, Paul LePage, et al. Their numbers are legion, and they have been parading across our TV screens for years like the sideshow freaks they are.

Nixon's "last press conference" (oops!)
In fact, if you're a glutton for punishment, you can trace the origins of this thing of total lunacy the Trumpies call a movement back through the Reagan years all the way to President Nixon. Nixon was a raving maniac who we learned literally ran through the corridors of the White House screaming his head off. Even before he was elected president, America had evidence that Nixon was severely paranoid and given to delusion. Think: "You won't have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore" (Nov. 7, 1962, at what he said was his "last press conference," after his California gubernatorial loss). Eventually, his White House taping system proved once and for all that he was a racist and, even more, an anti-semite.

So, really, the precedent for a President Trump or someone like him was set long ago. Most of America, with the help of the mainstream media myth machine, just chose not to see it.


1968-69: THE NIXON PODS DESCEND ON DC

I lived in Washington, DC, in all but the last of the Nixon years. The Nixon government aside, I saw the change in the population of Washington as it moved from the LBJ years to the Nixon years. To say the least, no one I chose to associate with had much if any regard for either man. We could look at LBJ and give him his due for ramming civil-rights and voting-rights legislation through Congress, but there was also his role in escalating the Vietnam War. Nixon, on the other hand, had no redeeming qualities other than the creation of the EPA. Please note that all three of the positives I just mentioned are things that today's republicans hate with all their being.

What I found most disturbing about Washington in those days was that when Nixon took over, you could see a marked difference in the kind of people that were coming to town to replace the LBJ people. I'm not talking just about cabinet people; I'm talking about the massive numbers of department staff and support staff that come along with the tide when a new president comes in. With Nixon it was an influx of crewcut, wound-tight, pole-up-the-ass types, people who were stuck in a world view of 1953, 15 years out of date; people who really did still believe that Commies lurked in every shadow and that the Earth is only 6000 years old.

These people feared a world where males had sprouted long hair. Which made them easy to terrify in the streets of Georgetown, especially after the horrific crimes of the Manson Family, and I admit that I personally had some fun with this. You could just stare at them and they'd start walking on eggshells. Dumb fucks that they were, they thought that any guy with hair over his ears was carrying a machete.

The Nixon types also hated those who hated war. War was big business for them, plus it was waged against Commies. Understand: The word Commies didn't necessarily mean Communists in the literal geopolitical sense. To them a "Communist" was anyone who didn't agree with their myopic, narrow-minded view of things. To the vast majority of them, both bread and people should only come in one color: white.

Today's republicans aren't that much different. Sure, it's harder to tell them from normal people just by fashion differences. I mean, can you tell those Duck Dynasty freaks from a death-metal band or the Manson gang? But if you notice that wound-tight thing, substitute "Muslim" for "Commie," and listen to the various bigotries they express, it's really the same. The difference now is that there seems to be a larger concentration of them in the general population. Either that or they just feel bolder and more entitled to act out in civilized society. Then again, it could be because social media and more TV and stations have given them a platform where they can reach each other easily and egg each other on.


SO HERE WE ARE NOW IN 2017

Russia is still an enemy of the United States. Only now that's OK with republicans 'cause the Russians helped put their guy in the White House. The Republican Party went over the cliff and dropped down so low that, to them, there's not a thing wrong with that. They got so insane that they put party over country like no party has ever done before. They got so insane that they embraced a man who is obviously severely mentally ill and now he is our president. If Nixon ever wanted a president in the White House that made him look sane by comparison, he's got him. Somewhere in Hell, a great burden has been lifted from his shoulders.

It has now gotten so bad that on Saturday afternoon, when I was in our kitchen and heard an angry, shrieking madman on the TV in our living room, I had to stop what I was doing and see what the commotion was about. At first I thought maybe the authorities had arrested some bonkers terrorist at some airport somewhere. Maybe my wife was watching One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest or Vincent Price's House on Haunted Hill.


"Don't try to escape! You can't!"

But no, it wasn't a movie. It was Comrade Trumpinsky's press secretary, Sean Spicer, channeling the Orange Fascist himself. He was clearly off his meds, and was a thing to behold -- emphasize thing.

He wasn't wearing a straitjacket, but you could be forgiven if you remembered it that way. That's how intense the crazy shooting out of his mouth, eyes, and entire body language was as he berated and tried to intimidate the assembled press. Mere words cannot do this bizarre incident justice. And this was just his first day! He made a lasting and credibility-destroying impression. It was a tantrum for the ages. I have never seen Facebook explode over an ongoing event like it did with this one.

What set Spicer off was the press coverage of the Trump inauguration, particularly the reporting of the simple fact, verifiable by aerial photographs that we have all seen by now, and verifiable by photographs of the empty seats along the parade route, that President Obama's crowd was bigger than President Trump's crowd. Freud would have a field day with this. Obviously Trump had sent Spicer out to combat this reality that Trump cannot deal with and is not mentally equipped to deal with. His megalomania and massive insecurities get in the way.



Spicer managed to set some sort of record for speed lying as he spat out an incredible five lies in just five minutes. You can click here for the specifics. It was engrossing. It was both hard to look and hard to look away. I was watching a man disintegrate on national TV.

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo had this to say:
On the one hand it is chilling, bizarre, un-American to see the President's spokesman begin the term excoriating and threatening the press, telling demonstrable lies, speaking with a palpable rage in his voice. On the other, the President and his toadies are on the second day almost vanishingly small. They are embarrassing themselves. They look silly. They look ridiculous. It is hard to be intimidated by ridiculousness. I suspect this will be the abiding duality of the Trump presidency.
Yes, they look ridiculous, and yes, they are embarrassing themselves. But sadly for them and everyone in the world, they have no idea that this is how they come off, just as those who voted for Trump have no idea how this seems to the moral and the sane. Even former press secretaries from both major parties took issue with Spicer's behavior.

The thing is, of course, that Trump and his toadies are taking millions of naïve, wounded, and gullible Americans right over the cliff with them, and the rest of us are at risk of being collateral damage. While this bit of Saturday-afternoon horror theater was going on, I checked the FOX "News" twitter feed, where Trump's army of brainwashed souls, in an orgasmic state, were cheering Spicer on in his ranting insanity. There were a lot of "About time!" and "Hell yeah!" shout-outs to Spicer. To them, a star was born.


Is Sean Spicer counting hockey crowds now too? Maybe it was the very same "million and a half people" President Trump saw at his inauguration who packed Dallas's American Airlines Center for Saturday's Stars loss to (ahem) the Washington Capitals. [Click to enlarge.]

Reading the FOX Twitter feed offered a glimpse at the total Opposite World these brainwashed crazies live in. The danger is that they want to make the rest of us live in their world. It's like they've already gone through the looking glass and blown right past, into a state of ultimate denial. This is way beyond "O.J. didn't kill Nicole" stuff. This is alternate-reality creation that allows them to rationalize and justify, consciously or unconsciously, the criminality of what they have just done to their own country and the world.

Trump's lost souls are trying to reverse the polarity of reality itself. It may be that the only way to deal with these people is to constantly throw their vile bullcrap right back in their faces until their heads explode from brain-hemorrhaging apoplexy. Disdain, derision, and zero tolerance should be the order of the day.


"ALTERNATIVE" REALITY INVADES SUNDAY-MORNING TV

The Sunday morning news-talk shows like Meet the Press, Face the Nation, and "This Week With George Stephanopoulos brought out Trump's mistress of spin, Kellyanne Konartist. On This Week she made the point that (crowd) size doesn't matter while saying that it was "completely unacceptable" for the media to call Sean Spicer a liar. Well, Kellyanne, I'll go ya one further: If Spicer keeps it up, soon the word spicer will be synonymous with liar.

But it was on Meet the Press that Kellyanne reached the heights of crazy that republicans adore her for, claiming that Spicer wasn't lying, he was just presenting "alternative facts"!



It's really something when you are a republican so disingenuous that even a republican water carrier like Chuck Todd puts you on the hot seat. Still, I have to give Ms. Konartist credit. She is very good at her job and proved it in the campaign. She can also go on TV and erect a stonewall like nobody's business. Maybe Trump can send Kellyanne to the Mexican border and she can just talk any would-be "illegals" away.

I took some amusement from the moment where Kellyanne appeared to flip off Chock Todd UK-style with a two-finger F-U salute. Was it intentional, or am I making up some of that famous "fake news" that is all the rage?



To be fair -- and, like I say, I'm always fair -- I do want to address the bit of unfortunate real fake news that Ms. Konartist brought up on Meet the Press. There was lots of chatter from republikook circles over the weekend about a "fake news" report on the bust of Martin Luther King being removed from the Oval Office (now declared by me to be the Offal Office for the duration of Trump's hopefully short term).

In fact, the bust was not removed. It turns out that it was obscured by someone standing in front of it. The reporter who wrote the story should have at least taken a better look. The righties are focusing on this incident as an example of what they term "fake news." Fair enough, but there is a much more serious underlying issue at play here. The issue is: Why would we assume that President Trump would remove the MLK bust. It's only natural to assume that he would because of his previously demonstrated feelings towards African-Americans, which include his having them removed from the floors of his casinos, the rabid support he received from KKK and other white supremacy groups worldwide, and many of his own words.


[Click to enlarge.]

The silver lining in this is that, if Trump was going to remove the MLK bust, a likely scenario, he will now have to think twice about it. I take pleasure in knowing that, when he is in his new office, he will have to look at something he'd rather not see. Oh well, funny how things can work out! Maybe he can just paint it gold or cover it with a handy white hood.


ANDY BOROWITZ OFFERS A TAKE ON THE SPICER STORY


WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) -- A man who was described as “visibly deranged” eluded the Secret Service on Saturday and gave a five-minute press conference at the White House.

The man, who somehow obtained White House credentials in order to bypass security, unloaded a delusional and paranoid rant that left a room full of experienced reporters shaken.

“We were all very, very scared,” Tracy Klugian, a reporter who witnessed the incident, said. “The things he was shouting made absolutely no sense, and he seemed to just get angrier and angrier.”

After a stream-of-consciousness tirade in which he accused the reporters of being part of a far-reaching conspiracy to distort reality, the man abruptly walked off “before he could do any real harm,” a Secret Service spokesman said.

Reporters who left the White House called the incident the scariest five minutes of their lives and said that they were grateful it did not escalate further.

“We were all terrified that, at some point, he was going to ask us if we had any questions,” Harland Dorrinson, a reporter, said. “None of us wanted to say anything that would set him off.”
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Can The Democrats Win The 3 GOP-Held Seats In Iowa In 2018?

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Saturday, as millions of women and their allies, not just in the U.S., but around the world, marched against Trump, one DC wag asked "where was all that energy during the election?" My response-- "at Bernie Sanders rallies-- drew hysterical anger from thin-skinned Clinton die-hards. It took some cheating, but Clinton managed to win the Iowa caucuses against the then largely unknown Democratic socialist, Bernie Sanders, 49.9% to 49.6%. Most counties were pretty 50/50 but the biggest disapritiy between them came in Jefferson County where Bernie won 72.7% of the votes to her 27.3%. The biggest county in the state, Polk, was closer. Hillary won with 12,122 votes to Bernie's 10,525. Yesterday, women from Fairfield in Jefferson County carpooled and bused up to Des Moines to march against Trumpism. In 2016 Hillary's biggest rally in Iowa was about 3,000 people. Saturday's march in Des Moines drew 26,000-- Hillary supporters, Bernie supporters... as well as independents and perhaps even Republicans who had elected Iowa delegates for Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz... even Jeb Bush.

In the general, Trump kicked Clinton's ass. He beat her in the classic swing state 798,923 (51.8%) to 650,790 (42.2%)-- turning Obama's 2012 52-46% win on it's head. In 2012 two of the state's four congressional districts elected Democrats and two elected Republicans. These were the results for the Democratic candidates in each:
IA-01- 57%
IA-02- 55%
IA-03- 44%
IA-04- 45%
With Hillary on the top of the ticket in 2016, Iowa Democrats fell apart at every level. These were the congressional candidates' results:
IA-01- 46.1%
IA-02- 53.7%
IA-03- 39.8%
IA-04- 38.6%
The only Democrat Iowa has left it it's 6 person delegation to Washington is Dave Loebsack. The district's PVIs, by the way, don't favor Republicans:
IA-01 D+5
IA-02 D+4
IA03- even
IA-04- R+5
You can't fully blame Hillary for the Democrats loss in "safely" blue IA-01 though. The DCCC (and the toxic, deadly EMILY's List) insisted on "former" Republican conservative Monica Vernon, who was backed by the New Dems as well. A weak, garbage candidate, she lost to an unimpressive Republican extremist, Rod Blum, 206,273 (53.9%) to 176,447 (46.1%)-- in Iowa's most Democratic district. IA-01 has 20 counties. Vernon won only 2, Linn (Cedar Rapids) and Black Hawk (Waterloo)-- and each just barely. In 2012, Obama won Linn with 68,028 votes and won Black Hawk with 39,338 votes, almost 60% in each county. Hillary limped to sad 1 point wins over Trump in each county. Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley (who won 17 of the 20 counties) took 66,682 votes in Linn and 40,268 votes in Black Hawk. Vernon beat Blum 58,269 to 55,140 in Linn and 31,724 to 30,749 in Black Hawk. The DCCC and their allies wasted $2 million in the primary against a progressve, Pat Murphy, who could have won. In the general, Vernon outspent Blum by a million dollars-- $2,856,502 to $1,853,837. She was a truly bottom-of-the-barrel candidate who couldn't even commit to a $10 minimum wage, making a Republican argument that a "big" minimum wage increase would hurt small businesses. None of this augers well for the Democrats in 2018, does it?


That depends. There's another former Republican in the hunt, Linn County Supervisor Brent Oleson, formerly everybody's favorite Republican but now a Democrat everyone is trying to figure out. He was a Bernie backer; he's a total environmental guy. He voted to raise the county minimum wage to $10/hour... but they proposed putting it on hold until they could see what the very right-wing GOP-dominated state legislature would do. Someone complained that he wrote a paean to Fidel Castro on his Facebook page when the former Cuban president died but that isn't something I would hold against anyone. The big hope was that former state Rep. Nate Willems, a true and tested progressive, would run but I spoke with him today and he had reasons that were easy to understand for why he couldn't in 2018. And then there's a very young and very progressive state Rep., Abby Finkenauer (Dubuque), a strong advocate for a living wage and someone who several people are trying to draft. After spending some time on the phone with her today, I'd say she's leaning in that direction. Hopefully we'll be hearing more from her soon. Obviously that's the district where the Democrats have to start. If they can't win back IA-01, they can't win any other Iowa districts and they can't win back control of the House.

Pat Rynard, writing for IowaStartingLine, is optimistic.
Many Democrats in Iowa are concerned that 2016 wasn’t simply an aberration, but the start of a shift in voting trends. Pointing out that Hillary Clinton won the national popular vote by three million is cold comfort to Iowans who saw their state go from Obama +6 in 2012 to Trump +10 in 2016.

Will Iowa snap back that fast if Trump is an unpopular president? That’s what many potential candidates are asking themselves right now. Running for office is a big personal commitment, in time, money and the scrutiny it brings down upon you. People should run because they feel it’s the right thing to do and/or they have a cause to champion, but it’s tough to fault some from passing on a race that seems unwinnable.

Fortunately, though we’re only into the third day of the Trump presidency, many encouraging signs are already emerging.

For one, that enthusiasm gap between the parties that folks liked to talk about during the general election? It sure seems like it’s flipped to the Democrats’ and progressives’ favors considering the dueling crowd sizes of the inauguration and Women’s March. The D.C. rally was estimated at twice the size of the crowd for Trump’s swearing-in.

More important was the turnout in cities across the country. Des Moines saw 26,000 show up to the local Women’s March outside the Statehouse, while crowds of hundreds popped up around the state. That should give Iowa Democrats reassurance that the backlash against Trump won’t skip Iowa.

Comparisons to the energy of the Tea Party were apt-- there’s now clearly an energized grassroots base ready to fight. Some might question if it’s mostly made up of the people who voted for Clinton, as in it’s not an expansion of the party’s base. Even if that was the case, the biggest turnout for a rally Clinton ever got in Des Moines was about 3,000. With a 26,000 turnout yesterday, it’s clear Democrats will be much more united and enthusiastic when they’re fighting against Trump alone.

Trump’s first few days also haven’t really impressed. His inauguration speech didn’t do much to reach out to Americans beyond his core base of support. It’s still important to be cognizant of why he remains so popular among a slice of America, but he’s shown a complete inability to grow into the job so far.

And press secretary Sean Spicer’s “press conference” yesterday in which he just yelled at reporters was borderline unhinged. Now that he’s in the Oval Office, Trump needs to start producing results. It seems obvious he’s still fixated on petty appearances and grudges. That doesn’t bode well for a successful presidency.

On the state level, yesterday’s Iowa Democrats chair election produced a result that should unify activists. In the hours immediately after Derek Eadon’s victory, the vast majority of the SCC members from both Sanders and Clinton sides seemed happy and enthusiastic about moving forward and getting to work.

So while it’s obviously much too early to make any sort of prediction about the 2018 elections, Democrats have to feel good about what they’re starting to see. Assumptions that midterms would automatically be good for the party out of power isn’t a sure bet in Iowa now, but things appear to be moving in the right direction. There’s real reason for optimism, something many Democrats haven’t felt since election night.


UNRELATED To Iowa... But Noteworthy

This evening all the Senate Republicans except Rand Paul, who said he was worried that Pompeo's "desire for security will trump his defense of liberty," voted to confirm Trump's nominee for CIA Director. The Democrats who will own whatever unconstitutional crap Pompeo, a big torture enthusiast, pulls are:
Joe Manchin (WV)
Heidi Heitkamp (ND)
Joe Donnelly (IN)
Tim Kaine (VA)
Claire McCaskill (MO)
Dianne Feinstein (CA)
Jeanne Shaheen (NH)
Maggie Hassan (NH)
Mark Warner (VA)
Chuck Schumer (NY)
Jack Reed (RI)
Sheldon Whitehouse (RI)
Amy Klobuchar (MN)
Brian Schatz (HI)
Angus King (I-ME)
As long as we're talking about the U.S. Senate, the names above that have been bolded are all incumbent senators who will face reelection in 2018 (except Feinstein who will be retiring, although she hasn't announced that yet). Blue America has endorsed just 5 incumbents so far. You can find them all by tapping on the thermometer below (spoiler: no one who voted to confirm Pompeo).
Goal Thermometer

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Will The Republicans Really Impeach Trumpanzee? One GOP Ex-Congressman Says Yes

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Remember, Trump is a venal, vindictive prick

Today, Trump withdrew the U.S. from the TPP, an executive order far more pleasing to progressives-- especially to Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Sherrod Brown-- than to the Republican Establishment represented by Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. The move is upsetting many in the Republican-controlled Congress, not the least, the two Republican senators from Arizona. Jeff Flake says he expects a Trump-backed primary from neo-fascist Republican politician and key Trump ally Jeff DeWit in 2018.
Pre-empting the threat of reprisal, Mr. McCain said he intended to be true to what he saw as his party and his voters: “Trump carried Arizona by four points. I carried my state by 14 points.”

Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, who like Mr. McCain has repeatedly clashed with Mr. Trump, said that he was preparing for the president to back his opponent in a primary next year-- but that it would not dissuade him from putting up opposition on some issues.

“There are some of us who will be pushing to get back to the roots of the party: limited government, economic freedom, individual responsibility, free trade,” Mr. Flake said. “Those are things that the party has stood on for a long time.”

Mr. Trump and some of his closest advisers say such resistance is not just futile but foolish. And they are already pledging to harness Mr. Trump’s following in the states and districts of recalcitrant Republicans to sound warnings of their own.
Robert Reich posted this on his Facebook page over the weekend:
I had breakfast recently with a friend who's a former Republican member of Congress. Here's what he said:

Him: Trump is no Republican. He’s just a big fat ego.

Me: Then why didn’t you speak out against him during the campaign?

Him: You kidding? I was surrounded by Trump voters. I’d have been shot.

Me: So what now? What are your former Republican colleagues going to do?

Him (smirking): They’ll play along for a while.

Me: A while?

Him: They’ll get as much as they want-- tax cuts galore, deregulation, military buildup, slash all those poverty programs, and then get to work on Social Security and Medicare-- and blame him. And he’s such a fool he’ll want to take credit for everything.

Me: And then what?

Him (laughing): They like Pence.

Me: What do you mean?

Him: Pence is their guy. They all think Trump is out of his mind.

Me: So what?

Him: So the moment Trump does something really dumb-- steps over the line-- violates the law in a big stupid clumsy way... and you know he will ...

Me: They impeach him?

Him: You bet. They pull the trigger.
Or maybe they'll have him eliminated in some other, more unpleasant, less traumatic/less unpleasant, more traumatic, way. One Republican vote for impeachment would likely be Jeff Flake, who denigrated him all through the primary and beyond and who has told people he expects Trump to carry through with his threats to help fund a primary against him in 2018. On Friday, Flake referred it the band of kleptocrats Trump picked for his cabinet as "stellar." When asked, he told some religious right station that "if the president governs like he has picked his Cabinet, then we’re in for a good four years. I think they’ll all get through. I look forward to supporting them." Many predicted that Flake would rally behind Trump's horrendous cabinet picks as a peace-offering to the short attention span, easily manipulated new president.

Earlier this month, writing for Roll Call, Alex Roarty speculated that Flake is the most vulnerable GOP Senate incumbent to a primary. If he loses a primary, Arizona becomes the top possible 2018 Democratic pickup. Some Republicans don;t like him because he's been critical of Trump's extremis, on trade and immigration. His allies fear-- possibly expect-- a Trumpist to run against him.
To many GOP officials, no Republican senator is more vulnerable in a primary next year than Flake. The 54-year-old, according to one strategist who reviewed polling data last month, is less popular among likely GOP primary voters in Arizona than even John McCain, who for years has had a famously rocky relationship with his party’s base. The poll showed almost as many primary voters disliked Flake as liked him.

And although he has already drawn a challenger-- former state Sen. Kelli Ward, who ran unsuccessfully against McCain last year-- his supporters are more worried about another foe, state Treasurer Jeff DeWit.

DeWit was a strong Trump supporter, serving as chairman of his Arizona campaign before becoming his national campaign’s chief operating officer. And people close to Flake worry that DeWit could potentially exploit the senator’s adversarial history with Trump. Flake routinely criticized Trump’s conduct during the campaign, culminating in a tense showdown on Capitol Hill in July.

An incumbent senator has many advantages in a primary, including institutional support, name recognition and money. But none of those things might matter if the combative Trump-- the leader of the Republican Party with an unrivaled bully pulpit-- becomes personally involved in the race, a possibility that scares Flake allies above all else.

“Obviously, you hope Republican presidents support their incumbents,” said Steve Voeller, Flake’s former chief of staff. “But … that remains to be seen.”

At the end of September, Flake had only $594,000 on hand. By comparison, GOP Sen. Rob Portman, who ran a model campaign en route to winning re-election last year, had $5.5 million on hand at the same point.

Officials are confident that Flake, who they say makes a point of avoiding fundraising events before his re-election cycle begins, will raise a lot of money fast.

Flake allies are also signaling that the lawmaker, who has frequently defied his party in the past, will look for areas of cooperation with the incoming administration. The first test comes this week, when Flake will have a chance to confirm Trump’s picks for his Cabinet.

...Republicans are also hopeful that Vice President-elect Mike Pence will help bridge the gap between the senator and the White House: Flake and Pence, who both previously ran conservative think tanks and served in the House together, are personal friends.

That's DeWit with a bunch of Trumps


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Global Warming Has Reached Nearly +1.5°C Already

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Slide 5 from the "NOAA/NASA Annual Global Analysis for 2016" (pdf here; click to enlarge image). As you'll read below, global temperature in 1910 is a good proxy for "pre-Industrial global temperature." Thus, converting °F in the chart to °C, global warming has reached nearly +1.5°C already. More than +0.2°F (+0.1°C) or that rise came in just the last two years.

by Gaius Publius

I wrote recently about Trump, climate change and the upward march of global temperature: "Trump Takes Office Following the Three Hottest Years in Recorded History." Now I'd like to extend that idea in a couple of easy charts and one added thought.

The first chart is below. Let's start with a broad look at average global temperature during the Holocene, the period during which our species came out of the Stone Age, became civilized (i.e., lived in settlements; "civilization" has the same root as "city") and entered the modern era.

The Holocene starts around 12,000 years ago, at the end of the most recent ice age, as the last ice receded and the earth warmed to its current temperature range.

Global average temperature during the Holocene. Blue curve: Global temperature reconstruction from proxy data of Marcott et al, Science 2013. Recent instrumental measurements shown in red (global temperature from the instrumental HadCRU data). Graph: Klaus Bitterman. (Source; my annotation; click to enlarge)

In this chart, "zero" on the Y-axis is the average global temperature in the years 1961–1990. The zero point doesn't matter though; what matters is where the most recent low (the "pre-industrial global temperature") is. I've pointed it out in the chart.

("Pre-industrial temperature" refers to the average surface temperature of the earth prior to the start of the Industrial Revolution — the year 1781 when the James Watt steam engine was invented. But it's generally taken to be around 1800, before the climate effects of industrialized coal-burning became apparent. "Pre-Industrial temperature" is a commonly used start point for measuring global warming. A statement like "global warming of +2°C" means "a 2°C increase above pre-Industrial temperature.")

Note, as you look at the chart of the entire Holocene above, that the oldest civilizations, like the Sumerian, date to only 5,000 BCE or so, and proto-writing appears no earlier than about 3,000 BCE or later.Through more than half of this period, humans remained in the Stone Age.

Note also that the Holocene temperature range, from lowest temperature to highest, is no greater than about 0.7°C — less than one full degree of average temperature fluctuation for the entire period. Of course, regional variations have been much greater, but it's the globe as a whole we're concerned about. Thanks to the narrowness of this temperature range, there have always been many places on earth, not just a few, for humans to flourish. Had there been just a few, our population would be much smaller and "civilization" (humans in settlements) would have been much less wide spread.

Put differently, all of human civilization existed on a planet whose average temperature fluctuation was about two-thirds of a degree Celsius. The "pre-Industrial temperature" is also the modern low of that temperature range.

In the next chart, let's look at the end of the above time period, the final 1000 years, in greater detail.

(Source; click to enlarge)

The time frame covers from the year 1000 to about 2013 (2013 is the publication date; the last data sample may be from 2012). The blue line now shows the "PAGES2K" temperature reconstruction, but it gives similar results to the Marcott reconstruction (as discussed by climate scientist Stefan Rahmstorf here).

Note that the global temperature low at about 1900–1910 (the first deep dip in the instrumental readings, the red line) is a good proxy for the pre-industrial temperature low pointed out in the chart. We can take the temperature in that later period (1900 or so) to be nearly the same as the "pre-Industrial low."

Now look at the chart at the very top, from the recent "NOAA/NASA Annual Global Analysis for 2016" (pdf). Note that global average temperature from the low of 1910 to the 2016 high runs from –0.8°F to +1.8°F, a difference of 2.6°F — or 1.44°C — above the 1910 low. (It's a little less in other datasets — for example, see Slide 4 of the same report — but not by enough to matter.)

Two points:
  • The Paris climate agreement had hoped to hold global warming to no more than +1.5°C above the pre-Industrial temperature. This is not going to happen. We're almost at that point now, and we'll breach that goal in just a few years.
  • From the chart at the top, note that the two-year rise from 2014 to 2016 was, converted to Celsius, +0.1 degrees all on its own. Three more two-year periods like this and global temperatures will cross +2°C, the extremely generous IPCC "magic barrier" after which, in lay language, "we're mainly screwed."
This doesn't mean we should do nothing to adapt to the blow — it's always necessary and wise to adapt, even if the start of adaptation is very late. But the window to mitigate — to lessen the blow — is rapidly closing. Remember, once the social and political chaos reaches critical mass (once there's too much of it), global warming will run to its natural conclusion.

Elsewhere I've predicted the "natural conclusion," barring conscious intervention, to be global warming of +7°C before humans are forced to stop emitting so much CO2, either through greatly diminished numbers, or greatly diminished technology, or both.

Global Average Temperature and Donald Trump

Now the added thought. As of this minute, we humans aren't slowing or stopping our carbon emissions. We continue to add carbon emissions to the atmosphere at close to 10 GtC (gigatons of carbon) per year — or, if you measure the CO2 emitted instead of the carbon burned, by more than 3.67 GtCO2 per year. (GtC and GtCO2 are two ways of measuring the same thing. GtC measures the amount of carbon burned. GtCO2 measures the CO2 it becomes after being burned.)

With Trump in office, the rate will surely increase. First, he is determined to encourage exploitation and extraction of U.S. fossil fuels to the greatest extent possible. Any fuel extracted will be burned. Second, U.S. abandonment of "carbon restraint" will encourage the same behavior by other energy-poor countries like India. Third, world leadership, both moral and practical, in the fight against climate change will pass from the U.S. to either Europe, China, or both.

In which case, fourth, the U.S. will be come a pariah among nations, whether the rest of the world drowns itself or saves itself in the climate decade ahead.

Unless, of course, he pushes people too far and they "Easter Island" his regime instead.

There's always a choice, and we make it every day. Just sayin'.

[Update: Fixed a minor math error.]

GP
 

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With Obama Out In California Pushing Perez For DNC Chair, The State Party May Be Swinging Towards Ellison

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Eric Bauman is the chairman of the L.A. County Democratic Party and the state Democratic Party's Vice Chairman. Late yesterday, he caused the California party go haywire by publicly requesting that Party Chair John Burton call a special meeting to consider a state party endorsement for DNC chairman. In the incredible well-crafted letter below, Bauman laid out all his reasons for backing Keith Ellison. This comes right on top of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti's ill-timed endorsement, just after dinner with Obama in Palm Springs, of the establishment pick: former Labor Secretary Tom Perez. Big misstep for Garcetti! With speculation about Garcetti running for governor going from a whisper to a scream, the fight over DNC chair can easily become a crucial intra-party issue for California Democrats. Bauman's letter:
Fellow Democrats,

I just got off the phone with Congressman Keith Ellison to let him know that I am proud to endorse him for Chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Ellison is an extraordinary candidate to be the next Chair of the DNC, and I believe the extraordinary circumstances we find ourselves in require extraordinary measures.

That is why I call upon California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton to call a special one-day meeting so that we can consider, and potentially endorse, a candidate for Chair of the DNC.

We have an impressive array of candidates, each of whom bring needed strengths and perspectives as we rebuild the Democratic Party. I considered each candidate carefully, and have come to the conclusion that Congressman Keith Ellison is the right choice to lead us forward.

My decision became ever so clear as I watched the clock count down the last moments of the Obama Presidency and recognized the sorrow I felt that our country will no longer have the hope that he provided to remind us of the potential that we have as a nation, and as I regained a little of that hope yesterday as millions of us took to the streets in protest.

With this incoming era, it is not enough to be anti-Trump. It is not enough to point out the horrible policies of the racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, homophobic, incoming Administration. At this time, we need a leader at the national level who can unite our Party behind a truly progressive agenda and maintain the enthusiasm and passion of newly mobilized activists across our country.

We are fortunate here in California to have a strong Democratic Party that is at the forefront of the fight for progressive policies. We have won every statewide race two cycles running, and even against last year's backdrop that was the Republican takeover across the country, California Democrats held every Congressional seat and even picked-up seats in our state legislature. But winning races is not the end goal-- these victories will enable California to continue to be a national leader on immigration, the environment, workers rights, criminal justice reform, supporting the middle-class, reducing poverty, ensuring fair taxation, and maintaining our commitment to the health and education of all of our people. The successes of the Democratic Party in California are a roadmap back to power for Democrats nationally.

And Congressman Keith Ellison understands this dynamic. That is why one of his first official trips as a candidate for Chair was to the CDP Executive Board Meeting in San Diego last November. Our General Session was delighted to hear him deliver a powerful and impressive speech, and I personally had the chance to sit down with him for over an hour one-on-one to discuss how to move our Party forward.

We discussed our backgrounds and our views on the challenges ahead. We discussed what kind of relationship he envisioned having with the State Parties across the country, and I impressed upon him my belief of the imperative need for a 50 State Strategy.

For those of you who have been following the race, you know that he doesn't just have a 50 State Strategy, he has a 3,143 county strategy!

Well, as someone who has worked in the trenches of the Democratic Party at the grassroots level as the Chair of a County Democratic Party for the last 16 years, and as a Democratic Club President for 7 years prior to that, I feel like that's almost reason enough to support him right there.

Representative Ellison shares my belief that the power and the passion of our Party lies in the hands of our activists and volunteers. Only the most successful DNC Chairs we have seen understand why we dedicate our lives to the fight and keep in mind who we're fighting for.

But there is one more reason I would like to share with you. Congressman Ellison is committed to making sure all of us have a place in the Democratic Party. He will be a Chair for all of us-- from veteran delegates first inspired by the presidential campaigns of John and Robert Kennedy to the energetic and enthusiastic new activists mobilized by the recent campaign of Bernie Sanders.

I must admit I had concerns about media reports that attempted to create controversy and division amongst us about Congressman Ellison, most notably on his support for Israel, Palestine and the two-state solution, and for past relationships from his youth.

But in my meeting with him and in follow-up calls over the last few weeks, he assured me in unequivocal terms that he supports the two-state solution, and has proven that he will be forceful and aggressive in pushing back against media distortions and attempts to create disunity within our Party. Right now what we need is to be united in the important work in front of us: resisting Trump and demanding a progressive way forward for the future.

At the conclusion of our meeting, he and I stood together and hugged, me as a stoutly observant Jewish man, and he as a deeply religious Muslim man-- agreeing that the path to peace in the Middle East requires Jews and Muslims to be able to live side-by-side in peace, with their respective sovereignty. We both understand that only a perspective that embraces and lifts up all that is good in our world, and rejects the anger and hate tearing us apart, is able to one day bring an end to the pain and suffering gripping the region.

I believe it's imperative that California Democrats unite to make our progressive voices heard-- and we must do so in a way that makes DNC members throughout the country take notice of our call to action.

I ask you to join me in my call to Chairman Burton to request a special one-day endorsement meeting, and I sincerely hope you will join me in supporting Congressman Keith Ellison for Chair of the Democratic National Committee.

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

How Dangerous Is Trump's Mental Illness For The Country?

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First everyone was mocking the size of his small... hands. Now they're mocking the size of the small turnout for his bleak inauguration. And this morning, on day two of the Age of Trump, Meet The Press viewers sat around pondering the relationship between "alternative facts" and lies. Trump and his sad-sack paid propagandists can claim there were a million or a million and a half people at his inauguration all they want but that won't make the pictures go away. Glaslighting generally doesn't work as well on people with 3 digit IQs as it does on Trump voters. And, as David Frum put it this morning, "the alt-right administration brings you the alt-fact."




At least Kellyanne Con-Man admitted on ABC's This Week this morning that presidents are not judged by "the crowd sizes at their inauguration; they're judged by their accomplishments." Trump's very first accomplishment, as we noted in real time, was to go immediately from reading Bannon's nice little phrase how "Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families" to signing an order to cancel a fee cut on mortgage costs for first-time and low-income home buyers, a move the National Association of Realtors predicted would result in pricing 40,000 would-be homebuyers out of the market in 2017 alone-- 40,000 families that won't be buying furniture made in North Carolina, carpets made Pennsylvania, refrigerators made in Ohio or the grills, toasters, griddles, popcorn makers and convection ovens made by Star Manufacturing mad in Missouri. All those Trumpanzee voters...


Made in Missouri


This morning's NY Times tried helping its readers decals with the fact that the White House is now the country's biggest source of Fake News. Four more years to go.
President Trump used his first full day in office on Saturday to unleash a remarkably bitter attack on the news media, falsely accusing journalists of both inventing a rift between him and intelligence agencies and deliberately understating the size of his inauguration crowd.

In a visit to the Central Intelligence Agency intended to showcase his support for the intelligence community, Mr. Trump ignored his own repeated public statements criticizing the intelligence community, a group he compared to Nazis just over a week ago.

He also called journalists “among the most dishonest human beings on earth,” and he said that up to 1.5 million people had attended his inauguration, a claim that photographs disproved.

Later, at the White House, he dispatched Sean Spicer, the press secretary, to the briefing room in the West Wing, where Mr. Spicer scolded reporters and made a series of false statements.

He said news organizations had deliberately misstated the size of the crowd at Mr. Trump’s inauguration on Friday in an attempt to sow divisions at a time when Mr. Trump was trying to unify the country, warning that the new administration would hold them to account.

The statements from the new president and his spokesman came as hundreds of thousands of people protested against Mr. Trump, a crowd that appeared to dwarf the one that gathered the day before when he was sworn in. It was a striking display of invective and grievance at the dawn of a presidency, usually a time when the White House works to set a tone of national unity and to build confidence in a new leader.

Instead, the president and his team appeared embattled and defensive, signaling that the pugnacious style Mr. Trump employed as a candidate will persist now that he has ascended to the nation’s highest office.

...Trump also took issue with news reports about the number of people who attended his inauguration, complaining that the news media used photographs of “an empty field” to make it seem as if his inauguration did not draw many people.

“We caught them in a beauty,” Mr. Trump said of the news media, “and I think they’re going to pay a big price.”

Mr. Spicer said that Mr. Trump had drawn “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration,” a statement that photographs clearly show to be false. Mr. Spicer said photographs of the inaugural ceremonies were deliberately framed “to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall,” although he provided no proof of either assertion.

Photographs of Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009 and of Mr. Trump’s plainly showed that the crowd on Friday was significantly smaller, but Mr. Spicer attributed that disparity to new white ground coverings he said had caused empty areas to stand out and to security measures that had blocked people from entering the Mall.

...And he incorrectly claimed that ridership on Washington’s subway system was higher than on Inauguration Day in 2013. In reality, there were 782,000 riders that year, compared with 571,000 riders this year, according to figures from the Washington-area transit authority.

Mr. Spicer also said that security measures had been extended farther down the National Mall this year, preventing “hundreds of thousands of people” from viewing the ceremony. But the Secret Service said the measures were largely unchanged this year, and there were few reports of long lines or delays.

Commentary about the size of his inauguration crowd made Mr. Trump increasingly angry on Friday, according to several people familiar with his thinking.

On Saturday, Mr. Trump told his advisers that he wanted to push back hard on “dishonest media” coverage-- mostly referring to a Twitter post from a New York Times reporter showing side-by-side frames of Mr. Trump’s crowd and Mr. Obama’s in 2009. But most of Mr. Trump’s advisers urged him to focus on the responsibilities of his office during his first full day as president.

However, in his remarks at the C.I.A., he wandered off topic several times, at various points telling the crowd he felt no older than 39 (he is 70); reassuring anyone who questioned his intelligence by saying, “I’m, like, a smart person”; and musing out loud about how many intelligence workers backed his candidacy.

...“He has left the strong impression that he doesn’t trust the intelligence community and that he doesn’t have tremendous regard for their work,” Mark M. Lowenthal, a retired C.I.A. analyst, said of Mr. Trump. “The obvious thing to do is to counter that by saying, ‘I value you. I look forward to working with you.’”

“He called them Nazis,” Mr. Lowenthal added, referring to Mr. Trump’s characterization of the intelligence community. Mr. Lowenthal said Saturday’s visit should have been “a stroking expedition.”

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