Friday, August 18, 2017

Señor Trumpanzee Has Been Looking For An Excuse To Demote Or Fire Bannon-- Here Are A Couple On A Silver Platter


This post was written just before Trump fired Bannon today

Chris Cuomo says CNN contacted all 52 Republican senators-- every single one of them, even Mike Rounds, Thad Cochran and James Lankford who no one ever calls for a national interview-- to come on the air and defend their president's Charlottesville remarks. Not one accepted the invitation. Meanwhile Bannon accidentally did an interview with the liberal American Prospect by calling an outspoken Trump foe, Robert Kuttner, out of thin air-- for a chit-chat? I don't think so.

Background: the new CBS poll shows that "nearly two-thirds of Americans consider the attack that led to loss of life in Charlottesville an act of 'domestic terrorism,' a view that spans partisan lines. But President Trump's response to Charlottesville finds more division. He gets majority disapproval overall for his response to the events, while most Republicans approve. Republicans interviewed following Tuesday's press conference also feel Mr. Trump is assigning blame accurately in the matter, while Democrats and Independents, and the country overall, disagree... Disapproval of the president's handling of events rose following the press conference. Both partisan groups showed at least slight ticks up in disapproval, with Republicans becoming a bit more disapproving and Democrats even more so... Overall, Americans are more apt to say Mr. Trump's policies have encouraged racial division rather than racial unity."

Now back to Bannon's interview with Kuttner, which has been driving Regime insiders into a frenzy since it surfaced Wednesday night. By way of introduction, Kuttner wrote that we "might think from recent press accounts that Steve Bannon is on the ropes and therefore behaving prudently. In the aftermath of events in Charlottesville, he is widely blamed for his boss’s continuing indulgence of white supremacists. Allies of National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster hold Bannon responsible for a campaign by Breitbart News, which Bannon once led, to vilify the security chief. Trump’s defense of Bannon, at his Tuesday press conference, was tepid. But Bannon was in high spirits when he phoned me Tuesday afternoon to discuss the politics of taking a harder line with China, and minced no words describing his efforts to neutralize his rivals at the Departments of Defense, State, and Treasury. 'They’re wetting themselves,' he said, proceeding to detail how he would oust some of his opponents at State and Defense." Bannon appears to be calling all the shots at the White House and treating Trump like the puppet Saturday Night Live used it explain their relationship.

“I’m changing out people at East Asian Defense; I’m getting hawks in. I’m getting Susan Thornton [acting head of East Asian and Pacific Affairs] out at State.”

But can Bannon really win that fight internally?

“That’s a fight I fight every day here,” he said. “We’re still fighting. There’s Treasury and [National Economic Council chair] Gary Cohn and Goldman Sachs lobbying.”

“We gotta do this. The president’s default position is to do it, but the apparatus is going crazy. Don’t get me wrong. It’s like, every day.”

Bannon explained that his strategy is to battle the trade doves inside the administration while building an outside coalition of trade hawks that includes left as well as right. Hence the phone call to me.

...I asked Bannon about the connection between his program of economic nationalism and the ugly white nationalism epitomized by the racist violence in Charlottesville and Trump’s reluctance to condemn it. Bannon, after all, was the architect of the strategy of using Breitbart to heat up white nationalism and then rely on the radical right as Trump’s base.

He dismissed the far right as irrelevant and sidestepped his own role in cultivating it: “Ethno-nationalism-- it's losers. It's a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, uh, help crush it more.”

“These guys are a collection of clowns,” he added.

From his lips to Trump’s ear.

“The Democrats,” he said, “the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.”

I had never before spoken with Bannon. I came away from the conversation with a sense both of his savvy and his recklessness. The waters around him are rising, but he is going about his business of infighting, and attempting to cultivate improbable outside allies, to promote his China strategy. His enemies will do what they do.

Either the reports of the threats to Bannon’s job are grossly exaggerated and leaked by his rivals, or he has decided not to change his routine and to go down fighting. Given Trump’s impulsivity, neither Bannon nor Trump really has any idea from day to day whether Bannon is staying or going. He has survived earlier threats. So what the hell, damn the torpedoes.

The conversation ended with Bannon inviting me to the White House after Labor Day to continue the discussion of China and trade. We’ll see if he’s still there.

Yes, we will. When the clownish Mooch attempted to entertain Señor Trumpanzee by making reference to Bannon sucking his own cock, he wasn't just pulling a reference out of thin air. He was probably aware by then about the Coconut Grove party house-- not far from the infamous park where Marco Rubio used to work as a male prostitute-- that Bannon occupied. Bannon and his third ex-wife lived at 1794 Opechee Drive in Miami, a notorious meth and porn den. "The Miami-Dade Police Department’s public corruption unit launched an investigation into whether Bannon had fraudulently registered to vote in that county. Bannon had signed the lease, listed himself as an occupant, and paid the rent every month," wrote Jason Brad Berry yesterday. "One of Bannon’s colleagues, Arlene Delgado, testified that she had met with Bannon at the house on Opechee Drive, which he described as 'my house,' where she saw 'boxes, papers, and effects' that indicated he lived there. They met, according to Delgado, because Bannon had moved to Florida and wanted to increase the presence of the far-right Breitbart News, of which he was executive chair."
[In a 2017 report] the Washington Post focused primarily on the bizarre fact that Bannon listed the Opechee Drive house as his place of residence, despite living in California. The article lightly touched on the state of disrepair in which Bannon left the house-- including a bathtub apparently destroyed by acid.

But the truth turns out to have been much worse than that.

When Curtis first saw the house, the real estate agent, Beatriz Portela, told him the previous tenants “were not very upstanding people” and had “severely damaged” the property.

They had “put padlocks on all the doors, installed video cameras, and had ruined the bathtub, kitchen counter, and floor.”

Worse, though, was that it had been a “party house,” she said, known for frequent drug use.

Carlos Herrera, who owned the house with with his wife, Andreina Morales, painted a picture of what initially seemed to be a normal tenancy but soon evolved into an almost daily parade of debauchery and drug use, including run-ins with the police.

“The conclusion is she was probably cooking meth in here,” Herrera said of Bannon’s ex-wife. That would have explained the damage done to the bathtub and kitchen sink.

Curtis heard the same stories of porn, drugs, and debauchery over and over again.

“Each person gave accounts that the house was used to film pornography, had a constant flow of men, women-- and even children-- at the house and that blatant drug use was occurring at all hours of the night and day,” Curtis said.

At least five people told him tales of drug use and porn at the house.

Felix, a handyman who frequently worked on the property, told Curtis he had personally “witnessed women and men being filmed in the act.” He described the buckets of chemicals and bags of trash and rags he had to remove. He spent hours scrubbing the master bathtub, “which appeared melted by some form of acid.” Felix suspected the bathtub had been used for “making drugs.”

Curtis heard similar stories from the pest control service man.

“In fact,” Curtis said, “he did so in an almost gleeful and boastful manner.”

The pest control worker described witnessing drug use each time he came to the house, “even at early day hours.” He told Curtis it would blow his mind to know what “what went on in the house.”

An unnamed male tenant, he said, who was “a heavy set man,” offered him “girls for sex and/or drugs in lieu of payment,” but he never accepted because he could lose his job.

When the oven range needed repair, the repairman refused to come to the house. Despite the service warranty, Curtis said, he was told no one would come “if the same people were living in the house because ‘that house is evil and the people are evil.’”

The company ultimately agreed to send someone after being assured the prior tenants were gone.

When Curtis opened the gate, the repairman said with seeming relief, “You aren’t him.”

He proceeded to work on the range and also share his own horror stories about the previous tenants.

He told Curtis that on several occasions, when he would arrive to service the house, “the tenants would scream at him to leave and threatened him with violence.” At other times, when he was allowed into the house to perform work, he observed topless and naked men and women and the constant presence of drugs, which they would sometimes offer to him.

He told Curtis it was “the worst experience of his life” and that he “did not want anything to do with those ‘evil people.’”

“You have no idea what kind of evil stuff went on in the house,” he said.

One day, Curtis said, a woman came to the house asking for “Steve or [his ex-wife].” She appeared distraught when he told her they no longer lived there. She stood outside the gate for several minutes in a daze.

“I assumed she was probably a regular visitor to the house looking for drugs from the previous tenants,” Curtis said, “but I didn’t realize just how bad the drug use in the house had been at the time. I firmly told her to leave and to not come back.”

Meanwhile, according to the realtor, the neighbors had formed a committee “in an effort to get the owners to evict” the tenants before they ultimately left.

In September 2016, upon returning from a filming in the South Pacific, Curtis came home to a pile of mail addressed to Steve Bannon and his ex-wife. Curtis would write “return to sender” on the mail, but “the flow of bills, notices from the city of Miami, and letters from the Bank of Ireland started piling up.”

That’s when the landlord finally told Curtis about the identity of the former tenants.

“He told me that [Bannon] was indeed the previous tenant who caused such drama,” Curtis said. And now that Bannon had joined Trump’s presidential campaign, everyone was looking into Bannon and his history.

“He told me the FBI had contacted them, as well as several reporters and journalists,” Curtis said, “and that I should expect to be contacted as well.”

“It was an unusual situation, to say the least,” he added.

But it was more than unusual. It was also a health hazard.

Shortly after Curtis moved into the house, he started to experience a variety of symptoms: fatigue, inability to sleep, eye and skin irritation, chronic chest pain, and dizziness.

The symptoms would subside when he was away from the house for weeks at a time and they would resume when he returned.

In March, Herrera finally admitted to Curtis that the prior tenants had manufactured meth there. That’s when Curtis went to stay in a hotel. Again, his symptoms subsided.

He also purchased kits to test for methamphetamine in the house. At first, he focused on the kitchen, master bathroom, and guest room. The tests showed a high level of contamination, so Curtis ordered six more tests and had them shipped overnight.

The contamination was through the roof. So Curtis hired a company to test the house at well. The test confirmed “levels of meth and very high levels of cocaine.”

In May, Curtis moved out of the house.

He still suffers from health problems related to living in the house once occupied by Steve Bannon.
This morning Digby mentioned that "Steve Bannon is reportedly going back to Breitbart. That is a mistake and I'm surprised he's doing it. He has an agenda and part of it is to sow dissension on the left over "identity politics" vs economic populism and hostility toward the "deep state," which is a real fault line, if less of a chasm than some people want to believe. He could possibly make progress on that if he started a new project and re-branded himself as an isolationist, economic populist but Breitbart's "alt-right" identity is toxic to everyone on the left. From what I'm seeing so far, Breitbart is planning to "go to war" against the administration saying that it's full of "Democrats, globalists and Generals." (You can be sure that they will also continue to be a hub for the "alt-right's" connection to the Nazis and Neo-confederates too.)

"From the commentary I heard this morning, much of the punditocrisy apparently agrees with Bannon that all that confederate statue stuff has no salience among Trump voters since they inexplicably continue to contend that those nice salt-o-the-earth All American boys and girls reject white supremacy and just want some good union work in a factory somewhere and are looking to Donald Trump to finally deliver now that he got rid of that awful racist. The pundits are deluded."

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Trumpanzee Lashes Out In All Directions-- Congressional Republicans Are Victims Of Domestic Abuse


Trump is fighting with Republicans again. He's all but endorsed one of the right-wing lunatics primarying Jeff Flake (R-AZ)-- and is expected to explicitly do so when he travels to Phoenix to pardon Joe Arpaio this weekend. He seemed peeved that Flake pointed out in his new book that Trump's antics are "the spasms of a dying party." On top of his feud with Flake, Trump's been on a rampage against Lindsey Graham again after Graham addressed him directly in regard to his horrifying Charlottesville comments that offered succor to muderous Nazis the KKK and domestic terrorists:
"Mr. President, I encourage you to try to bring us together as a nation after this horrific event in Charlottesville. Your words are dividing Americans, not healing them... I, along with many others, do not endorse this moral equivalency. Many Republicans do not agree with and will fight back against the idea that the Party of Lincoln has a welcome mat out for the David Dukes of the world." Trump's reaction was to call Graham "publicity seeking" and to say he "just can't forget his election trouncing." He then threatened "The people of South Carolina will remember!"

David Nakamura covered the spat between Trump and the 2 Republican senators for the Washington Post yesterday. "In a morning tweetstorm," he wrote, "Trump lambasted Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (SC) and Jeff Flake (AZ), calling Graham 'publicity-seeking' and Flake 'toxic,' and endorsing a primary challenger to Flake in his reelection bid next year.'"
Trump's tweets made clear that the president is willing to challenge fellow Republican lawmakers and potentially imperil their reelection chances if they criticize him. The GOP holds a narrow 52-48 margin in the Senate, though most political analysts say it will be difficult for Democrats to win back the chambers in 2018 due to the election map favoring Republicans.

But Trump also needs to maintain party loyalty to help pass his legislative agenda, including upcoming efforts at tax revision and, perhaps, infrastructure. Graham's fellow Republican senator from Arizona, John McCain, cast a crucial vote against the GOP's effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, prompting Trump to attack him repeatedly.
But it's worse than the Twitter rages. McClatchy's Katie Glueck reported Wednesday on how deeply anxious Republicans are that Trumpanzee is ruining their brand. And do they ever deserve it! "If Donald Trump’s campaign stomped all over the Republican Party’s 2012 plans to build a more diverse movement," she wrote, "his refusal now to squarely blame white supremacists and neo-Nazis for Charlottesville violence has destroyed those efforts entirely." So much for Priebus' autopsy report and any hopes the GOP might start making inroads with fast-growing Hispanic and Asian electorates. And people under 40. "[A]fter the president this week insisted that there were 'very fine people' among those who violently marched at a white supremacist rally, many Republicans fear that Trump is reinforcing the same negative perceptions about the party that they have spent years working to combat."
“Our plan is to reach out and talk to people who haven’t always agreed with us,” said Emmanuel Wilder, a North Carolina-based activist with the Young Republican National Federation. Trump’s comments, he said, make it that much harder. “It’s a major step back. The fact that the head of the party cannot call a spade a spade, it hurts…it’s near impossible for us to try to explain. It’s not really explainable.”

Added a dejected Republican state party chairman, “If he intended that-- that’s almost so crazy that it’s sad. And of course, it’s counter to what the Republican Party has been trying to do, and sincerely so by most of us, for years: to let people of all races and backgrounds and socioeconomic circumstances know they have a home in the Republican Party.”

Interviews with a dozen Republican operatives and activists around the country revealed genuine frustration-- and for some, disgust-- over Trump’s repeated suggestions that there is an equivalence between the neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members and white supremacists who marched in Virginia this weekend, and those who turned out to protest them, even as a woman died after a white supremacist rammed a car into a group of the counter-protesters.

“He is destroying the GOP one day at a time, one reckless statement and action at a time,” said Sally Bradshaw, a longtime adviser to Jeb Bush who co-authored the “autopsy” report and went on to leave the party over Trump. “Why would anyone consider supporting a political party when the leader of the party is anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-woman, and anti-black? He makes me sick.

Some expressed relief that a significant number of GOP lawmakers robustly rebuked Trump’s remarks, and those looking ahead to congressional elections are hopeful that voters will be able to distinguish between Trump and hometown lawmakers, as was the case in many competitive 2016 contests.
We spoke with several Democratic congressional candidates about how that is playing out in their own districts. Derrick Crowe, Blue America's newest endorsed candidate, told us pretty much what almost all the candidates are saying about their own races. "Lamar Smith has issued no official press release on the events beyond a vague tweet. He's said nothing to condemn White supremacy as an ideology. He's not mentioned the death of an American at the hands of a domestic terrorist. He's said nothing critical of Donald Trump's stunningly insipid remarks on the topic. It's clear Trump's first congressional donor is no more willing to criticize Trump than Trump is willing to criticize Putin."

Sam Jammal is the Blue America-endorsed progressive Democrat running in CA-39. He pointed out that "These GOP ties to the KKK and Neo-Nazis are really concerning. We know where Trump stands, but really don't know where the rest of the Republican Party stands, especially Ed Royce. A few years back, he actually spoke at a rally against multi-culturalism which is kind of crazy when you consider that he represents a heavy immigrant district that is 2/3rds communities of color. Last election, the district even voted 60-40% to pass a ballot initiative returning bilingual education as an option in our schools. Proving just how out of step he is, Ed has a long history of supporting English Only policies. Ed's game plan seems to be to say reasonable sounding things when people are paying attention, but do extreme things when they are not-- like speaking at this rally or taking photos with hate group leaders. This is not the type of leadership we need, especially given Trump's full embrace of racial divisions. I think people are now paying attention and Ed is going to have a lot of explaining to do."  

Jenny Marshall, Virginia Foxx's opponent in NC-05, isn't shy about making sure residents of Forsyth, Watauga, Iredell, Wilkes, Davidson, Rowan counties know that "Foxx's silence on President Trump’s statement on Charlottesville shows that she supports a president who condones, and some would say encourages, white nationalists.  But again, let’s be clear-- Virginia Foxx has chosen repeatedly to ignore racism in our home state of North Carolina and throughout the nation. Just this year, federal courts struck down laws created by the North Carolina state legislature because they found that they had directly disenfranchised people of color. Foxx supports these laws and other efforts like them, showing that she has no commitment to at-risk communities. I believe that the people of North Carolina deserve representatives who will take a stand against racism, not just on twitter, but in the halls of congress. Congress must schedule oversight hearings of the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland security to ensure that resources are allocated to combat white nationalists, neo-nazis and other hate groups. When elected, I will fight for this type of congressional oversight to ensure that every American is treated fairly and can feel safe."
In another sign of just how deeply the incident is resonating among people of color, two African American commentators-- one from the left, one from the right-- broke down in tears while discussing the issue on Fox News.

Trump’s remarks Tuesday were a stunning reversal from the more explicit condemnation of hate groups that he offered Monday, following several days of criticism for an equivocating initial statement on the Charlottesville violence.

The comments sparked the most significant Republican backlash his administration has faced to date, with leading Republicans including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushing back on Trump’s characterizations.

Notably, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers, not known as a routine Trump critic, swiped on Twitter: “I don't understand what's so hard about this. White supremacists and Neo-Nazis are evil and shouldn't be defended.”

“Politics is about expansion, not contraction,” said Glen Bolger, a prominent GOP strategist and pollster working on midterm races. “Language like that, as many senators and congresspeople have noted, is not exactly helpful in terms of expanding the coalition. Nobody’s coalition wants Nazis-- or should want Nazis-- in it. It was baffling to say the least.”

Bolger said that it was far too early to gauge what the long-term implications of the incident might be for the GOP brand in the next election, given the pace of the news cycle. But some Republicans are concerned that the moment has the potential to do long-term harm.

“I worry the president’s remarks yesterday undermine everything that we are as a party,” said former New Hampshire GOP Chair Jennifer Horn. “As the party of Lincoln, we are built on the very concept of inclusion, equality, freedom for all. His comments undermine that considerably.”

Indeed, in his remarks Tuesday, Trump did not emphasize the GOP’s “party of Lincoln” reputation, instead equating monuments to Confederate leaders with those for presidents such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. He suggested that if Confederate symbols come down, as rally-goers in Charlottesville were agitating against, then those honoring U.S. presidents and Founding Fathers could be next.

“As a party, we go out of the way to try to spread that message” of inclusion, Horn continued. “Having a president who calls himself a Republican and then makes these kinds of comments obviously undermines that message.”

The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, Democrats are already making clear that they plan to use Trump’s remarks to tarnish the entire GOP brand. Coming from a corrupt and morally reprehensible character like Debbie Wasserman Schultz makes it hard to take seriously, but listen to how Randy Bryce, Paul Ryan's 2018 opponent put it:

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How Much "Trump" Is The Right Amount Of "Trump" For Congressional Candidates To Use?


by Nancy Ohanian

Yesterday, in relation to an unrelated post I was discussing with him, L.A. area Congressman Ted Lieu happened to mention that "The American middle class helped to create the greatest economy the world has ever known. However, misguided policies-- mostly driven by Republicans obsessed with tax cuts for the wealthy-- have hollowed out opportunity for Americans to enter the middle class and live out their fair share of the American dream. Hard-working Americans deserve an economy defined by strong wages, good benefits and retirement security-- we have governed this country from the right and from the center, now we need to try an innovative progressive approach." As part of a process of reform, the House Democrats elected Ted DCCC Vice Chair for the West Coast. He's being very proactive with all the candidates who seek his advice and I'm sure they're getting this kind of meta-messaging from him and his staff, meta-messaging that will serve them well if they weave it into their campaigns' approach to the 2018 midterm contest in their districts.

That said, ALG Research noted yesterday that "Trump entered office with a historically low approval rating, one that is made even more notable when taking into account the low rate of unemployment, a booming stock market, high consumer confidence, and the fact that the United States is not currently engaged in a drastically unpopular war. As outrage over the President's response to the violence in Charlottesville this past weekend has become the subject of a vast public outcry, it's important to remember just how unpopular Trump was even before the events of the last two weeks... Three recent polls from CNN, Quinnipiac, and Gallup all found that the President's job approval rating had dropped to record lows of 38%, 33%, and 34% respectively... reflective of a slow and steady decline in Trump's job approval rating, as well as a slow yet steady increase in his disapproval rating."
Most shocking about these recent polls however, is the proportion of people who have very firmly made up their minds and say they disapprove "strongly" of Trump's job performance. In the CNN poll, out of the 56% of respondents who said they disapprove of the way Trump is handling his job as president, 47% said they "strongly" disapprove and only 9% said they "somewhat" disapproved. The Quinnipiac poll showed a similar split amongst respondents. Out of the 61% who said they disapproved of how Trump is handling his job, 55% said they "strongly" disapproved, with just 6% saying they "somewhat" disapproved.

These numbers show that Trump's job approval rating is not a soft number that will be easily influenced by White House attempts to win Americans back over, but rather is indicative of strongly held opinions amongst Americans that are unlikely to change without a significant shift in strategy. While it's not impossible for Trump to win over Americans who currently strongly disapprove of his job performance, it is unlikely, and leaves the White House a very narrow path to attempt to rebuild public perception of Trump's job performance thus far.

Trump's approval ratings amongst Americans who aren't affiliated with a political party or identify as Independents, many of whom are frequently recognized as swing voters, are also declining. In the recent Gallup poll Trump's approval amongst Independents sank to a record low of 29%. The Quinnipiac poll also found job approval amongst Independents was low, with just 34% of Independents approving of Trump's handling of his job so far.

The recent Quinnipiac poll also showed that a half of white Americans without a college degree hold a negative view of Trump's job performance so far. 50% said they disapproved of Trump's handling of his job as President, while 43% said they approved. Largely hailed as one of the groups that propelled Trump to victory, this could present big problems for Trump and his coalition moving forward into the midterms. While job approval and vote share are distinctly different measures, they are also intrinsically linked and a drop to just 43% approval from a group that voted for the President by a margin of 67% to 28% certainly signals that the President's base is not as strong as it once was.

Democrats Have a Path to Retaking the House of Representatives

Trump's job approval also holds important implications as both parties prepare to fight for Congressional majorities in 2018. The chart below from NBC News shows the number of House seats gained or lost in midterm elections side-by-side with September approval ratings from those elections.

With the midterm elections over a year away and Trump's approval under 40% in all of these recent polls, we could be looking at midterm election results comparable to those of 1946, 1978, 1982, and 1994. In these years when Presidential approval was at 45% or lower in September of the midterm election year, the party in power lost an average of 37.5 seats in the House of Representatives in November elections. That would be more than enough for Democrats to take back the House.

Unfortunately, the President's low job approval is not an ace in the hole for Democrats... However, if Democrats are able to capitalize upon Trump's weaknesses on healthcare policy, foreign affairs, immigration policy, and helping the middle class-- not to mention his implosion amongst Independents-- it could certainly lead to them retaking the House in 2018.
Tuesday night, Alabama Republican primary voters rejected Trump's endorsed candidate, incumbent Luther Strange, for the U.S. Senate seat, despite massive amounts of money going into Strange's campaign and only modest amounts spent by his opponents. Strange came in second and there will be a September 26 runoff.

Crackpot extremist Roy Moore took 162,570 votes (38.9%), while Strange, the Trump guy, took 136,910 (32.8%) and another crackpot, Mo Brooks, took 82,363 votes (19.7%). Moore is more of a Trumpian character than Strange but Trump repeatedly endorsed Strange and did all he could do to motivate his supporters in Alabama, where's he's still popular, to vote for him. All he could do wasn't enough. And if he doesn't have coattails in Alabama... what do you think Mimi Walters, Ed Royce, Darrell Issa, Steve Knight and Dana Rohrabacher are thinking in Southern California. John Culberson, Will Hurd, Pete Sessions, Lamar Smith and Kenny Marchant are all sweating up a storm in Texas now. Trump coattails in the northeast-- for GOP incumbents, Bruce Poliquin (ME), Leonard Lance (NJ), Tom MacArthur (NJ), Frank LoBiondo (NJ), Chris Smith (NY), Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ), Lee Zeldin (NY), Peter King (NY), Dan Donovan (NY), John Faso (NY), Elise Stefanik (NY), Claudia Tenney (NY), John Katko (NY), Ryan Costello (PA), Pat Meehan (PA), Brain Fitzpatrick (PA) and Lloyd Smucker (PA) would be turned into absolute anchors by a competent DCCC. And even the grotesquely incompetent one we have might be able to win some Republican seats here and there.

One thing that many Democratic candidates want to get the balance right on has to do with how much they should make their races about Trump. The DCCC strategy is basically to recruit a pack of dreadful corrupt self-funding conservatives-- Blue Dogs, New Dems, "ex"-Republicans, anti-Choice fanatics, corporate whores (the whole Republican wing of the Democratic Party)-- and hope Trump's self-destruction bleeds over into congressional campaigns. Sensible candidates always ignore DCCC strategy and this year the ones who look like they're doing the best so far are the ones who are campaigning on Medicare-For-All, legalized pharmaceutical importation, free state college education, $15/hour minimum wage, a real infrastructure program, expanding Social Security by lifting the cap and other specific policy proposals the conservatives who run the DCCC abhor.

Our friends at HSG Campaigns laid out the pros and cons for using "Trump" and a piñata in House races.

According to Rasmussen, strong disapproval for Trump exceeded 50% in July, mostly among Democrats. Using Trump's image can be a good way to motivate the base to come out and vote on Election Day. "Send a message to Trump" is a good message for progressives.
Attacking Democratic primary opponents who hold any views that align with Trump's can give your primary campaign a shot in the arm and move the needle in your favor.
In general elections, Republicans who align themselves with too closely Trump will lose independent voters. So, if you have a Trumpian Republican you're facing, you should exploit that in your mailers, ads, and press conferences.


Many voters understand that Trump is not a typical Republican. While anti-Trump messages will work well with progressive Democrats and people of color, they are likely to fall short of expectations with other voters, especially if the Republican in the race distances him or herself from the president.
There is a law of diminishing returns when you try associating a Democratic primary opponent to an unpopular Republican. We have seen it many times in the past. While it can give your campaign a shot in the arm, sustaining those attacks will make them less and less effective because (frankly) voters don't find them very believable.
Traditional Republican voters like the ones we discussed a few weeks ago (wealthier, more educated, suburban) might not like Trump, but that doesn't mean they're ready to vote for a Democratic congressional candidate. They will see through it if you try to get them to vote Democratic with an anti-Trump message.
We asked some of the Blue America-endorsed candidates how they're trying to get the balance right. Jenny Marshall is running for the very gerrymandered west central North Carolina seat held by GOP crackpot Virginia Foxx. "In my campaign," she told us today, "I am about holding our elected leaders accountable for their words and actions. Whether that is Rep. Foxx or President Trump, they do not get a free pass for their bad behavior. I do try to frame it as a contrast rather than just look at how awful these two are. I speak briefly about their statement and then quickly shift to what I believe in and how do I want to enact changes once elected. It can't all be about them in a sky is falling way. You have to show why you are the best candidate for the job."

Sam Jammal is the progressive Democrat in the race for the northeast Orange County seat occupied by Ryan crony/Trump rubber stamp Ed Royce. He said he can't speak for other districts around the country but almost all the candidates we spoke with expressed a similar perspective to his for their own districts. "I can't speak for every district, but, here in the 39th District, Trump has created a level of activism we have never seen. This will be helpful for mobilizing a grassroots army to defeat Ed Royce. But being anti-Trump is not enough. Voters will not just fire an entrenched incumbent, like Ed Royce, they need a reason to hire the Democrat. This is why I am running. I believe we need bold ideas-- like Medicare for All and 100% clean energy-- and to also get back to the basics and focus on making sure workers get a raise, people can afford a home and student debt doesn't cripple the next generation. My campaign is focused on fighting for the families I grew up with and giving voters a clear choice. Trump gets people to pay attention, but real solutions will win these seats."

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Midnight Meme Of The Day


-by Noah

Ladies and Gents, the president FOX “News” brought us:


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Charlie Crist's Approach: Clichés Over Substance


Obama beat Romney in FL-13 by over 10 points-- 54.6% to 43.9%. Hillary, a much weaker candidate, also won the district-- 49.6% to 46.4%. Former lifelong Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat the very opportunistic Charlie Crist ran as a pretend-Democrat against moderate Republican incumbent David Jolly and beat him 184,693 (51.9%) to 171,149 (48.1%). Jolly spent $2,176,451 and Crist spent $1,975,501 but the DCCC threw in $1,086,651 and Pelosi SuperPAC threw in another $1,567,917 to bolster Crist while neither the NRCC nor Ryan's SuperPAC spent a dime on Jolly.

An acquaintance of mine, working as a consultant on Crist's time, made an effort to persuade me that Crist was a stalwart progressive now and that Blue America should endorse him. We passed on that without with ado-- luckily... because Crist got into Congress and immediately started the hard work of voting with the Republicans enough to earn an "F" from ProgressivePunch. And he joined both New Dems and the Blue Dogs-- basically the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. His crucial vote ProgressivePunch score is 42.86. There are only 8 Democrats who have worse voting records. And there's only one Republican-- Justin Amash (MI)-- with a better voting record. Crist has the highest Trump adhesion score (26.8%) of any Florida Democrat in Congress. (He sucks; all he does is raise money from special interests-- $1,221,317 already this year-- and then support whatever they're peddling.)

So I wasn't very surprised when his newest fundraising letter-- under the asinine subject line "My Approach: People Over Politics"-- turned out to be this week's stinker. It should have been called "My Approach: Clichés Over Substance." Take a look at this and see how many clichés you can pick out:

Hi Howie,

Are you tired of the political games in Washington? I sure am.

My approach to public service has always been to put people over politics. We get things done by working together, not by pulling each other down to win the next political fight. 

We're dealing with real issues that have real implications for people's lives. We need to create new jobs, raise wages, protect our shores, honor our veterans, make education a priority, and ensure that everyone is treated with respect and civility. The list goes on and on.

I know we can do better than the dysfunction we're seeing today -- and I'm going to continue to work every day to bring people together.

I hope you'll be a part of this winning team: Stay up-to-date with my campaign by joining me on Facebook today!

Thanks for listening,
And, yeah, although he's separated or divorced from his beard now, he's still in the closet. It's 2017 and closets are for Republicans, not Democrats (Except for Ben Gay, apparently). What joke! What a pathetic joke. This turd is a congressman. No wonder people don't understand why it's wrong to vote for a character like Trumpanzee!

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How Badly Will Trump's Stroll Through The Garden Of Racism Hurt GOP Candidates In 2018?


Yesterday we noted that Randy Bryce is calling on Paul Ryan to lead the House in censuring Trump for his pro-Nazi, pro-KKK remarks. Up top is the video and yesterday 3 of Congress' most serious progressives, Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) announced a resolution of censure in the House against Señor Trumpanzee for his remarks at Trumpanzee Tower Tuesday re-asserting earlier comments that "both sides" were to blame for the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia and excusing the behavior of participants in the 'Unite the Right' rally. Pramila, in announcing the resolution, noted that "not even a week has passed since the tragedy in Charlottesville. But on Tuesday, the president poured salt on the nation’s wounds by defending those who marched with white supremacists. In an unscripted press conference, we saw the real and unfiltered Donald Trump-- the logical endpoint for a man who has consistently trafficked in racism throughout his career. The American people expect their leaders to condemn white supremacy in unambiguous terms. President Trump not only failed at condemning white supremacists and neo-Nazis, he stood up for them-- for that he must be censured. The president’s conduct is un-American and it must stop." The resolution censuring and condemning Trump is set to be introduced on Friday, August 18, when the House is next in pro forma session. This is it:
Censuring and condemning President Donald Trump.
Whereas on August 11, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, a gathering of white supremacists, including neo-Nazis, Klu Klux Klan (KKK) members, and other alt-Right, white nationalist groups, marched through the streets with torches as part of a coordinated ‘Unite the Right’ rally spewing racism, anti-Semitism, bigotry and hatred;

Whereas on August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, a car driven by James Alex Fields, Jr. rammed into a crowd of counter-protestors, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 20 others;

Whereas President Donald Trump’s immediate public comments rebuked “many sides” for the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and failed to specifically condemn the ‘Unite the Right’ rally or cite the white supremacist, neo-Nazi gathering as responsible for actions of domestic terrorism;

Whereas on August 15, 2017 President Donald Trump held a press conference at Trump Tower where he re-asserted that “both sides” were to blame for the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and attempted to create a moral equivalency between white supremacist, KKK, neo-Nazi groups and those counter-protesting the ‘Unite the Right’ rally;

Whereas President Donald Trump has surrounded himself with, and cultivated the influence of, senior advisors and spokespeople who have long histories of promoting white nationalist, alt-Right, racist and anti-Semitic principles and policies within the country;

Whereas President Donald Trump has provided tacit encouragement and little to no denunciation of white supremacist groups and individuals who promote their bigoted, nationalist ideology and policies;

Whereas President Donald Trump has failed to provide adequate condemnation and assure the American people of his resolve to opposing domestic terrorism: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

(1)   does hereby censure and condemn President Donald Trump for his inadequate response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12, 2017, his failure to immediately and specifically name and condemn the white supremacist groups responsible for actions of domestic terrorism, for re-asserting that “both sides” were to blame and excusing the violent behavior of participants in the ‘Unite the Right’ rally, and for employing people with ties to white supremacist movements in the White House, such as Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka; and

(2)   does hereby urge President Donald Trump to fire any and all White House advisors who have urged him to cater to the alt-Right movement in the United States.
I don't expect many-- if any-- Republicans to go along with this. I bet that not one musters the political courage to vote for it. In fact, it's hard it imagine Ryan and McCarthy even allowing it to come to the floor for a vote. Ryan's own statement, for the sake of concerned Wisconsin voters, who have been catching on to him as an enabler of Trump, was that "We must be clear. White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity." And he unambiguously refused to name Trump or his regime.

Ryan appointed Steve Stivers (R-OH) to chair the NRCC whose task is to minimize the GOP's 2018 midterm losses. Trump's stroll into the court of public opinion holding hands with the Nazis and KKK probably won't help that effort and Stivers, clearly frustrated, blurted out "I don't understand what's so hard about this. White supremacists and Neo-Nazis are evil and shouldn't be defended." He forgot to mention Trump.

Texas Republican Will Hurd is one of the most vulnerable Republicans in Congress. Hillary won his south Texas 71% Hispanic district last year 49.8% to 46.4%. Unless the DCCC screws it up by nominating another Blue Dog who residents have already shown they do not want, Hurd will lose next year. He urged someone unnamed to "Apologize. Racism, bigotry, anti-Semitism, of any form is unacceptable. And the leader of the free world should be unambiguous about that." Well... "leader of the free world" might be a clue-- could be Angela Merkel-- but many-- too many-- Trump supporters don't have the bandwidth to put something that abstract together.

There's been a lot of chatter that Ohio Governor John Kasich is planning a primary challenge to Trump in 2020 if he hasn't been removed from office by then. He made a nice meme for his Twitter followers:

Little Marco (R-FL) is also eager to figure out how he can worm out from under his pledge to not run for president again until after serving a full 6 year Senate term. He's starting to get antsy about running against Trump too. He found himself in a tweet storm yesterday, which I can't get a screen shot of because he blocked me: "The organizers of events which inspired & led to #charlottesvilleterroristattack are 100% to blame for a number of reasons. They are adherents of an evil ideology which argues certain people are inferior because of race, ethnicity or nation of origin. … These groups today use SAME symbols & same arguments of #Nazi & #KKK, groups responsible for some of worst crimes against humanity ever. Mr. President, you can't allow #WhiteSupremacists to share only part of blame. They support idea which cost nation & world so much pain. The #WhiteSupremacy groups will see being assigned only 50% of blame as a win. We cannot allow this old evil to be resurrected." Little Marco has certainly gone further than most of the Republicans in the Senate.

But as Politico’s Kyle Cheney and Rachael Bade reported, the House Judiciary Committee, which oversees the Department of Justice’s handling of domestic terrorism, has no immediate plans to schedule an investigation into the domestic terrorism in Charlottesville, despite calls from Democrats that just such an investigation is essential. And Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has no interest in a Charlottesville hearing either. Maybe another one on Hillary's e-mails? "GOP sources suggested it might be too early to tell whether Congress should get involved. And some question what tangible action Congress could take to help the situation, aside from calling public attention to the issue through hearings."

Barbara Lee (D-CA) had some ideas on that Wednesday morning: "We cannot address the dangerous spread of white supremacy in America without first assessing its influence on our nation's highest office," she explained to her constituents in Oakland and Berkley. "Yesterday afternoon, Donald Trump defended the white supremacists who descended upon Charlottesville this past weekend while insisting there was blame 'on both sides.' As disturbing as his comments are, they should come as no surprise. As long as Trump has senior advisors with ties to white nationalist groups, he will never fully condemn racism and bigotry. That's why I wrote a letter to Trump yesterday calling for the removal of three prominent White House aides who are involved with the alt-right: Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and Sebastian Gorka. It's time to root out white nationalism at the White House... By placing these three men in his administration, Trump has elevated hate and discrimination to the highest levels of our government. He has signaled to white supremacists that they are no longer a fringe group-- they now have advocates advising the president with their agenda in mind. We have already seen a manifestation of that agenda, from the Muslim ban and a ban on transgender Americans in the military, to raids on immigrant communities and attempts to perpetuate the era of mass incarceration and roll back voting rights. These policies are a result of the far-right extremist ideology held by Trump's top advisors."

John Harwood summed up the predicament the country finds itself in with an essay he penned for CNBC, Trump has a very clear attitude about morality: He doesn't believe in it. "Trump," he wrote, "combines indifference to conventional notions of morality or propriety with disbelief that others would be motivated by them" and noted that the more Trumpanzee "reveals his character, the more he isolates himself from the American mainstream." He was contemptuous of the business leaders who stormed for the exits of his corporate advisory committees and wound up shutting down both committees when it was clear no one would be left except for an embarrassed handful of Nazi and KKK sympathizers.
As president, Trump has emphasized power over morality. Seeking passage of health-care legislation-- which violated his explicit campaign promises-- Trump chided a reluctant GOP senator with a veiled threat.

...When Pope Francis called emphasizing walls over bridge-building "not Christian," Trump ascribed it to political manipulation. The pope, he said, was a "pawn" of Mexico.

Trump touted duplicity in business as a leadership credential, boasting that he once took advantage of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in a real estate deal. "I screwed him," he said. "That's what we should be doing."

Though Trump cast that talent as an asset for the nation, a Fortune magazine review of his business career found this first principle: "He always comes first."

The president's fellow Republicans learned that to their chagrin in 2016, and reached common conclusions about his character.

"A con man," said. Sen. Marco Rubio. "Utterly amoral," said Sen. Ted Cruz.

"Dishonesty is Trump's hallmark," declared Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee. "He's playing the American people for suckers."

Increasing numbers of Americans have reached that conclusion. In a Quinnipiac University poll this month, 62 percent called the president not honest, up from 52 percent last November.

Moreover, 63 percent said Trump does not share their values. That undercuts his ability to lead average Americans, lawmakers, business executives or foreign leaders toward common goals.

"In a president, character is everything," Republican commentator Peggy Noonan has written. "You can't buy courage and decency. You can't rent a strong moral sense. A president must bring those things with him."

Paul Ryan too. I hope CNN will pay attention to NARAL's message above. No one wants a CNN infomercial from Paul Ryan. Everyone wants a real, honest-to-goodness debate between him and Randy Bryce. Ryan has ducked accountability long enough and hidden behind the Speakers chair. CNN shouldn't be an enabler. He may not be as crude and senile as Trump, but he's the same kind of putrid, unspeakable garbage that needs to be driven out of this country's political sphere-- and soon. And that starts by exposing him as an empty suit, something Randy Bryce should get an opportunity to do on national television. It's up to CNN.

White Power

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Charlottesville: Trump's Very Fine People


It's absolutely crucial to watch the video above to get an understanding about who the "alt-right"-- the American neo-Nazi movement Trump has been equivocating about-- is, and what happened in Charlottesville and why it happened. It wasn't a "both sides" kind of thing that Bannon has Trump saying it was. Hundreds of the Nazis descended on Charlottesville, heavily armed and filled with anti-semitism, racism and intense feelings on inadequacy and victimhood. They were looking for attention for their movement-- and for excitement and a sense of belonging... justifications for pointless, brutish, failed lives.

This is Steve Bannon's wing of the Republican Party that Republicans in Congress are horrified by but reluctant to admit is an inherent part of Trumpism. This could happen in your town too-- and Bannon wants you to know that... just in case you have any ideas about removing Trump from office. This is the threat. Here's how a small city in Bavaria, Wunsiedel-- where Nazi Rudolph Hess was born and buried-- successfully got rid of their neo-Nazi problem starting in 2014. The folks in the town decided to start contributing money to anti-fascist organizations for every step the neo-Nazis took in their marches through their city. They were welcomed to the town as part of a Nazis Against Nazis walkathon. The more the Nazis marched, the more money "they" raised for anti-Nazi organizations.

This morning Trumpanzee was up and tweeting his disdain for America-- maliciously pouring gasoline of the fire. FDR famously said he welcomes the hatred of the predatory banksters. Trump seems to welcome the hatred of the American people. Or is he just trying to push the adults in his regime out with tweets like this? I wonder if this is enough for Paul Ryan to finally denounce him and allow the resolution of censure to come to the floor.

Oh, and that spokesman for the Nazis in the Vice video in Charlottesville up top... the one who just couldn't stop running his foul, ugly mouth... he posted a followup clip on YouTube yesterday, poor widdle snowflake... but ultimately, this is Trumpanzee himself and every single Trump supporter rolled up into one:

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​The Liberal Meritocracy at Work


Liberal meritocracy in action. Slick new buses like these ferry high tech workers to and from Bay Area jobs, using city bus stops as pickup points. The city gets "a pittance" for each "stop event" while the city's less-connected citizens get no right at all to ride them (source).

by Gaius Publius

Thomas Frank has made the point many times that the modern Democratic Party has abandoned the working class, and indeed most of the middle class, and that today its true constituency is really just the "professional" class, the upper 10%, more or less.

That makes a kind of sense if, cynical electoral financing decisions aside, people who actually run the Democratic Party inhabit a culture that considers only the "smart" and "accomplished" truly deserving. Consider the constant praise from mainstream Democrats, for example, of the "entrepreneurial" or "creative" class and how these wannabe billionaires — riders of Google Buses in San Francisco, a kind of alt-transportation system to which only high tech workers have access — can be counted on to lift the rest of the country out of the depths and into a new age of job creation (in China).

There could not be a more striking example of this kind of meritocracy than the following email from the Podesta Wikileaks archives (h/t commenter John Wright in this Naked Capitalism thread). It was sent from Clinton supporter and UC Berkeley Professor Brad DeLong during the primary season to Clinton supporter and Center for American Progress chief Neera Tanden:
Date: 2015-07-31 15:42

Subject: So my 25-year-old Michael DeLong has applied for a Firearms Safety Policy job at CAP…

Dear Neera (and John)—

So my 25-year-old Michael DeLong has applied for a Firearms Safety Policy job at CAP…

I think he is a very, very strong candidate on the merits, given what he has been doing in Portland at Ceasefire Oregon in the three years since he graduated from Reed College, and how effective he has been there. But I find myself somewhat anxious [that] somebody already in Washington and with better connections might crowd him out…

May I beg you to reassure me?


Brad DeLong
When the working class does this, of course, it's called nepotism. I'm sure at Neera Tanden's level it's called "networking."

There were several notes about DeLong's son's job availability sprinkled among the Podesta emails that involved Professor DeLong, and it's certainly true that fathers and mothers everywhere have attempted to ease their children's entry into the job market by asking for a boost from friends. I don't fault the act.

What makes this stand out, though, is not DeLong's interest in seeing his son hired, but his stated fear that his son would be lose his slot at CAP, not to someone better qualified, but to someone better connected.

Thus the "meritorious" competition seems recognized as not between the talented and connected; just between the connected. "I find myself somewhat anxious [that] somebody already in Washington and with better connections might crowd him out… May I beg you to reassure me?"

A small thing perhaps, and certainly not a strike against DeLong for asking. Every father should love his children, and DeLong's son does sound accomplished.

Nevertheless, this is a striking reminder of what concepts like "democracy" and "rights" mean to mainstream (Clinton wing and Obama wing) Democrats as a group, as they struggle with the problem of offering to the rest of us — or working to deny it — the same "rights" that the Party elite and its servicing ecosystem already enjoy as privileges of class, like access to affordable, quality medical care.

Schedule note: I'll be reading but not writing for about two weeks, restarting after Labor Day.


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