Friday Talking Points -- They Just Don't Care Anymore

[ Posted Friday, October 18th, 2019 – 18:14 UTC ]

We've reached the stage where Donald Trump and his henchmen are no longer even pretending to care about their lawlessness -- they're just doing it right out in the open for everyone to see, daring their fellow travellers in the Republican Senate to care. Right after Trump's White House chief of staff admitted that there was indeed a quid pro quo in Trump's call to the Ukraine, the White House announced that the upcoming G-7 summit would take place at Trump's own Florida resort. Both are, quite obviously, impeachable offenses. Right out there in the open, for all to see.

Add in to this Trump's pusillanimous behavior towards the strongman who runs Turkey, and his shameful betrayal of our Kurdish allies in Syria, and it's been quite a week all around. The House voted to condemn Trump's Kurdish betrayal by a whopping (and veto-proof) 354-60 majority, which included 129 Republican votes. The measure is being blocked in the Senate, for now, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell just wrote a scathing article for the Washington Post titled: "Withdrawing From Syria Is A Grave Mistake," so perhaps the measure won't be blocked for much longer. Trump has already lost his own party on this massive blunder, which is easily the biggest foreign policy screwup to date, on his watch. He sent Mike Pence over to attempt some damage control, which resulted in Trump giving the Turks pretty much everything they wanted and asked of them absolutely nothing other than they stop slaughtering the Kurds for five days. This ceasefire has already been breached, less than 24 hours after the shameful deal was struck. Turkey is pushing the United States around, Trump is showing his true weakness, and the rest of the world is watching.

Trump, true to form, is trying to spin the whole thing as some sort of brilliant victory. But nobody's buying it. Here's how the deteriorating military situation has developed, in a few short days:

The blow to America's standing in the Middle East was sudden and unexpectedly swift. Within the space of a few hours, advances by Turkish troops in Syria this week had compelled the U.S. military's Syrian Kurdish allies to switch sides, unraveled years of U.S. Syria policy and recalibrated the balance of power in the Middle East. As Russian and Syrian troops roll into vacated towns and U.S. bases, the winners are counting the spoils. The withdrawal delivered a huge victory to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who won back control of an area roughly amounting to a third of the country almost overnight.

It affirmed Moscow as the arbiter of Syria's fate and the rising power in the Middle East. It sent another signal to Iran that Washington has no appetite for the kind of confrontation that its rhetoric suggests and that Iran's expanded influence in Syria is now likely to go unchallenged. It sent a message to the wider world that the United States is in the process of a disengagement that could resonate beyond the Middle East.

In other words, the big winners are: Assad, Turkey, Russia, and Iran. The big losers are, of course the Syrian Kurds, as well as the diminution of U.S. leadership on the world stage. That's a pretty stunning condemnation of the past week, but it is completely true. Here's how the ceasefire negotiations were reported:

The Turkish government is celebrating, and top officials in Ankara believe Trump let himself get rolled: "The agreement, announced by Vice President Pence after hours of negotiations, appeared to hand Turkey's leader most of what he sought," Kareem Fahim, Karen DeYoung and Seung Min Kim report. "The deal delivered Erdogan concessions he had been unable to win during years of negotiations with the United States and vindicated, in some way, his decision to pursue military action instead.... Afterward, a Turkish official briefed by participants in the talks said the Turkish side was surprised and relieved at how easy the negotiations were. 'We got everything we wanted,' said the official, an adviser to the Foreign Ministry.... The request for a temporary ceasefire seemed to be 'face-saving, for the U.S. side,' the official said. 'It was as easy a negotiation as we've ever had,' the official said."

This is what is leading even Republicans to denounce Trump. Mitt Romney took to the floor of the Senate to do so: "The ceasefire does not change the fact that America has abandoned an ally, adding insult to dishonor. The administration speaks cavalierly, even flippantly, even as our ally has suffered death and casualty. Their homes have been burned and their families have been torn apart.... The decision to abandon the Kurds violates one of our most sacred duties. It strikes at American honor. What we have done to the Kurds will stand as a bloodstain in the annals of American history."

Here is how Trump is trying to explain the wonderfulness of his decision:

"We have a situation where Turkey is taking land from Syria. Syria's not happy about it. Let them work it out," Trump said during one of several public appearances. "They have a problem at a border. It's not our border. We shouldn't be losing lives over it."

Trump clearly wants to wash his hands of the whole situation. "They know how to fight," he said of the Kurdish fighters who fought side by side with U.S. forces to put down the Islamic State. "And by the way, they're no angels."

Trump added it's "fine" by him that Russian troops are occupying positions held just days ago by Americans. "They've got a lot of sand over there. So, there's a lot of sand that they can play with," the president told reporters. "Let them fight their own wars."

Also revealed this week was the letter Trump sent Erdogan after the disastrous phone call that gave Turkey the green light to invade Syria. It was pure Trump, which is why Erdogan reportedly tossed it into the trash upon receiving it. The letter started with:

Let's work out a good deal! You don't want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don't want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy -- and I will.

It ended with:

History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way. It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don't happen. Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool! I will call you later.

No wonder Erdogan tossed it in the garbage. Probably right after passing it around his own advisors, so they could all have a good laugh.

Speaking of a good laugh, during the week, Trump gave another press conference next to a hapless European leader, from Italy this time. Trump asserted, much to the Italian's astonishment, that America and Italy had a relationship which goes back "thousands of years." Because we all remember when George Washington had a summit meeting with Julius Caesar, right?

Here's how the rest of this presser was reported:

Trump lashed out, indiscriminately, in all directions. His unfocused rage was as cogent as a primal scream and as subtle as a column of Turkish tanks.

He attacked the media and the Democrats, of course, and James Comey, Andrew McCabe, James Clapper, John Brennan and "the two great lovers," Lisa Page and Peter Strzok. But he also attacked NATO members and the European Union. He attacked Germany, Spain and France. He attacked his guest ("Italy is only paying 1.1 percent" of gross domestic product for defense "instead of the mandated 2 percent"). He attacked Google and Amazon. He attacked those seeking to rename Columbus Day. He floated a new conspiracy theory saying, "I happen to think" 2016 election corruption "goes right up to President Obama."

Sickeningly, he attacked just-abandoned Kurdish allies as if they deserve the massacre they are now receiving. He portrayed these friends as enemies, saying they're "not angels," that it's "natural for them" to fight and that the Kurdistan Workers' Party is "more of a terrorist threat in many ways than ISIS."

. . .

More revealing was who Trump didn't attack: Turkey and Russia. He said Turkey's invasion "didn't surprise me." He praised Turkey for being "almost paid up" with NATO. He said Russia, Iran and Syria can be trusted to take over the fight against the Islamic State.

Such incoherent rage, combined with confusion distinguishing between friend and foe, is uniquely disconcerting coming from the most powerful man in the world. Trump once worried that "the world is laughing at us." Now the world is staring at us, mouth agape.

As icing on this week's cake, by week's end Trump had lost yet another cabinet member, as Rick Perry decided to head for the exit. Will the last cabinet secretary who leaves the White House please turn off the lights?

Of course, the backdrop to all of this was the impeachment hearings, which are still rolling down the track at full steam. Republicans are crying crocodile tears over the "closed door" nature of the hearings (even calling them "Soviet-style tactics"), which is pretty laughable. Remember it was only a few months ago that they were complaining about the exact opposite thing -- they were whining about the open hearings Democrats were conducting, because (in their words): "it reduced what should have been a serious hearing to nothing more than a media circus, where everyone is trying to utter the best soundbite." That wasn't that long ago, but they seem to have forgotten it, because now their complaint is precisely the opposite. Just goes to show that nothing will satisfy them in this regard.

As for the hearings themselves, everyone who has testified so far has reinforced the original whistleblower's complaint, often in graphic detail. What's most interesting is that some of the people testifying were told not to by the White House, but went ahead anyway (by claiming they had to follow a legal subpoena). The cracks in the stonewall are already showing, in other words.

The big news, however, was Mick Mulvaney flat-out admitting the quid pro quo in public. Mulvaney tried to split a hair here -- he claimed that the military aid to Ukraine was not conditioned on their investigating Hunter Biden ("The money held up had absolutely nothing to do with Biden"), but rather on their investigating the phantom server Trump thinks they have with Hillary's emails. Here's the money quote: "Did [Trump] also mention to me, in the past, the corruption related to the D.N.C. server? Absolutely. No question about that. But that's it. And that's why we held up the money." He tried to frame this all as no big deal: "We do that all the time with foreign policy.... I have news for everybody: Get over it. There's going to be political influence in foreign policy.... That's going to happen. Elections have consequences, and foreign policy is going to change from the Obama administration to the Trump administration."

This of course took everyone by surprise, since it was a full admission of guilt. Here's what an unnamed Trump advisor had to say about Mulvaney's performance: "He literally said the thing the president and everyone else said did not happen." Another unnamed source was more blunt: "Clearly, they just don't care anymore."

Two Democrats were just as incredulous:

"It looks like the White House is so desperate they are finally resorting to the truth. The problem is the truth is an admission of the crime," Democratic Representative Peter Welch said about Mulvaney's initial comments.

"The fact that he said that openly is either a brazen admission or they just don't know the law," said Democratic Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi.

Mulvaney later weakly tried to walk his comments back, insisting that everyone hadn't heard the actual words that he had indeed said. He was resoundingly mocked on Twitter for this pathetic attempt to rewrite reality, naturally.

Oh, and just for good measure, a third and fourth associate/client/minion of Rudy Giuliani were arrested this week -- one of them at another airport. The noose just keeps getting tighter for Rudy, it seems. Maybe that's why we're seeing less of him on television?

Speaking of beclowning yourself in public, Donald Trump Junior got a raft of scorn this week for trying to school Hunter Biden in the ethics of being a child of a powerful politician. Junior showed exactly zero self-awareness in his putdowns, and he was resoundingly mocked on Twitter soon after. Our favorites? "Dude your name is literally your dad's full name," and one non-Twitter comment from former Dubya aide David Frum: "When you see poor Eric and poor Don Jr., you realize there are bivalves with more self-awareness than the Trump children."

OK, this is going way too long (as usual), but we have to end on a sad note, the passing of Representative Elijah Cummings, a moral voice in Congress who will be sorely missed in the days ahead.

Requiescat In Pace.


Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week

Democrats held their fourth debate this week, which we commented on extensively right after it ended (if anyone's interested). Our takeaway was that all three of the frontrunners did well, but Elizabeth Warren did the best. We picked Amy Klobuchar as the loser of the debate, but not every in the pundit world agreed with this assessment (to be fair).

But while Warren had a pretty impressive debate, we had to give the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi went to the White House for the first time since the impeachment hearings started, together with all the other congressional leaders, for some stated purpose or another (perhaps it was "infrastructure week" again?). But what happened wasn't a calm discussion between congressional leadership and the president but rather a Trumpian-sized temper tantrum (a Trumper tantrum, maybe?). Trump lashed out at Pelosi, hurling insults like calling her a "third-rate politician."

Pelosi apparently stood up, gave the president a piece of her own mind, and walked out. All the other Democrats left with her. They then addressed the media on the White House lawn, where Pelosi reported to the world that Trump had had another "meltdown."

Soon thereafter, Trump realized he wasn't winning the news cycle, so he fell back on his favorite trick. Call it his go-to "I'm not a puppet, you're the puppet" move. He tweeted out a photo of the meeting to the world, insisting that Pelosi was the one who had the meltdown. Nobody believed him, of course, but the photo went viral -- just not in the way Trump wanted.

The photo is priceless, since it shows Pelosi in a stylish blue dress standing up and shaking her finger at Trump. She later claimed she was probably telling Trump right to his face that: "[with Trump] all roads lead to Putin." Trump looks as petulant as ever, and most of the people on his side of the table seem to be expressing a deep interest in their own fingernails, in sheer embarrassment.

Pelosi immediately put the photo up as the header to her Twitter account. The whole thing backfired spectacularly on Trump, once again proving Pelosi is the champion of getting under Trump's skin, in a way no other Democrat has really been able to.

The best reaction came from Christine Pelosi, who tweeted to Trump about her mother: "Looks like she owned you on #NationalBossDay. Been there. Don't mess with mama!"

So, for meeting with Trump, for walking out of the meeting in disgust, for immediately reporting Trump's temper tantrum to the world, definitely for beating Trump in a news cycle, but most especially for turning Trump's supposed ammo against him, Nancy Pelosi is easily the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week.

[Congratulate Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on her official contact page, to let her know you appreciate her efforts.]


Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week

What the Democrats really didn't need right now was someone prominent out there spreading her own conspiracy theories -- ones that rival the delusions of Trump and Rudy Giuliani.

Hillary Clinton voiced what has become common speculation about Donald Trump in a recent interview, saying: "I don't know what Putin has on him, whether it's both personal and financial. I assume it is. But more than that, there is this bizarre adulation Trump has for dictators and authoritarians. He dreams of being able to order people to do things and make them do it. He has no democratic instincts, really."

That's garden-variety stuff, really. But then Clinton went several steps further, dishing up her own conspiracy theories about Tulsi Gabbard:

[The Russians] are also going to do third-party again. I'm not making any predictions, but I think they've got their eye on someone who's currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate. She's the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far.

Clinton provided no evidence for this claim, although her spokesman later insisted: "This is not some outlandish claim, this is reality."

Just for good measure, Clinton then went after one of her opponents in 2016:

And that's assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not because she's also a Russian asset. Yeah, she's a Russian asset -- I mean, totally. They know they can't win without a third-party candidate. So I don't know who it's going to be, but I will guarantee you they will have a vigorous third-party challenge in the key states that they most needed.

Tulsi Gabbard later minced no words in calling Clinton out on Twitter: "You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain."

Hillary Clinton obviously needs to stop spreading such inflammatory conspiracies, because by doing so she is just doing Trump's work for him. Does she really think Tulsi Gabbard or Jill Stein are really going to be determining factors in the 2020 race? Does she really believe that either of them is "a Russian asset"? Methinks it's time for her to spend a lot more time taking long walks in the Chappaqua woods again rather than making wild accusations in the midst of a Democratic primary race.

Hillary Clinton is, for quite obvious reasons, the winner of our Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week this week.

[Hillary Clinton is officially a private citizen these days, and it is our policy not to provide contact information for such persons, sorry.]


Friday Talking Points

Volume 547 (10/18/19)

We're going to begin today with a mini parade of generals, because so many of them are now speaking out against Trump's disastrous decision in Syria. But before we begin to these serious denunciations, we first have to toss in a few lighthearted remarks given by Jim Mattis, former four-star general and former Trump administration secretary of Defense. this was at an event where the speeches are supposed to be funny, we should point out, in a roast-like atmosphere.

"I earned my spurs on the battlefield," he said at a charity gala in New York on Thursday night. "Donald Trump earned his spurs in a letter from a doctor."

He also addressed Trump calling him "overrated" after he quit his cabinet job in disgust:

I'm not just an overrated general. I am the greatest, the world's most overrated. I'm honored to be considered that by Donald Trump because he also called Meryl Streep an overrated actress. So I guess I'm the Meryl Streep of generals. And, frankly, that sounds pretty good to me.... You do have to admit: Between me and Meryl, at least we've had some victories.

. . .

I think the only person in the military that Mr. Trump doesn't think is overrated is Colonel Sanders.

Mattis, of course, no longer works for Trump, joining a long list (including Michael Flynn and H.R. McMaster) of generals who have been purged from Trump's inner circle.

Comedy aside, though, plenty of other retired four-star generals are also speaking out against Trump. In fact, there were so many voices from the right condemning Trump (for more than one fiasco, we hasten to point out) this week that we are going to turn over the entire talking points section to them. Call them "do it yourself" Democratic talking points, since they can be effectively quoted by any Democrat wishing to show the non-partisan nature of the sweeping condemnation of Trump this week.


   Four-star admiral rips Trump (1)

We begin with Admiral Bill McCraven, former commander of U.S. Special Operations, who really lit into Trump this week. The first paragraph below is McCraven's response to a fellow four-star retired officer who told him at an event honoring soldiers: "I don't like the Democrats, but Trump is destroying the Republic!" Both paragraphs are from a New York Times article McCraven wrote this week:

Those words echoed with me throughout the week. We are not the most powerful nation in the world because of our aircraft carriers, our economy, or our seat at the United Nations Security Council. We are the most powerful nation in the world because we try to be the good guys.... But, if we don't care about our values, if we don't care about duty and honor, if we don't help the weak and stand up against oppression and injustice -- what will happen to the Kurds, the Iraqis, the Afghans, the Syrians, the Rohingyas, the South Sudanese and the millions of people under the boot of tyranny or left abandoned by their failing states?

If we are not the champions of the good and the right, then who will follow us? And if no one follows us -- where will the world end up? [Donald Trump] seems to believe that these qualities are unimportant or show weakness. He is wrong. If this president doesn't understand their importance, if this president doesn't demonstrate the leadership that America needs, both domestically and abroad, then it is time for a new person in the Oval Office -- Republican, Democrat or independent -- the sooner, the better. The fate of our Republic depends upon it.


   Four-star general rips Trump (2)

Retired Marine four-star general John Allen, who used to command American forces in Afghanistan, chimed in as well, on CNN, expressing his disgust at the "completely foreseeable" crisis in Syria which Trump "greenlighted":

There is blood on Trump's hands for abandoning our Kurdish allies.... This is what happens when Trump follows his instincts and because of his alignment with autocrats. I said there would be blood but could not have imagined this outcome.


   Four-star general rips Trump (3)

Retired four-star general Joseph Votel, who commanded America's military operations in Syria was just as blunt, stating that Trump's decision to withdraw "could not come at a worse time." He wrote the following for The Atlantic (with a State Department anti-ISIS expert as co-author):

The decision was made without consulting U.S. allies or senior U.S. military leadership and threatens to affect future partnerships at precisely the time we need them most, given the war-weariness of the American public coupled with ever more sophisticated enemies determined to come after us. It didn't have to be this way.


   Watergate on his mind

A Republican in the House has cut ranks to denounce Trump, which is news indeed. Representative Francis Rooney likened it to a former president's woes: "I remember too many people saying, 'Oh, this is a witch hunt against Richard Nixon,' and come to find out it wasn't a witch hunt." Rooney also spoke out about Mick Mulvaney's disastrous press conference, saying he "couldn't believe" he admitted the quid pro quo.

I was shocked that he said that stuff. When the president has said many times there wasn't a quid pro quo... and now Mick Mulvaney goes up and says, "Yeah, it was all part of the whole plan!"

When asked about Mulvaney attempting to walk back his comments, Rooney replied scornfully:

You know, this is a funny business. How in life can you do those kinds of things when you've just said it right there on national TV?

When questioned about facing Trump's possible wrath, Rooney showed more strength of character than any other Republican in Congress to date:

I didn't take this job to keep it.... I took this job to do the right thing at all times. What's he going to do to me? I mean, he can say bad things, but it's just what it is. There's a lot of people around who are seriously concerned about being criticized by the president. Seriously. I just want to call them as I see it. I want to get the facts and do the right thing because I'll be looking at my children a lot longer than I'm looking to anybody in this building.


   Remember the rule of law?

Republicans, since roughly forever, have had as a solid plank in their party's platform adherence to the rule of law. Now a group has formed called "Republicans for the Rule of Law," and they're running ads on Fox News attacking a Republican president. One ad used Mike Pence's words from the 2016 campaign to shame both him and Trump: "foreign governments cannot participate in the American political process." The director of the group explained a new ad which will run on Trump's favorite show, Fox And Friends (and which compares Trump unfavorably to Hillary Clinton, for good measure):

While candidate Trump was running for president he promised to drain the swamp and tackle corruption. Instead he is using the U.S. government and taxpayer money to enrich himself and his family. Holding the G-7 at a Trump property is inappropriate and Republicans should condemn the president's continued efforts to use the office of the presidency for his personal enrichment.


   Et tu, Brute?

Trump's G-7 decision was too much for two Fox News personalities, who discussed it on air. The first comes from Neil Cavuto:

Just the appearance level alone, the president of the United States rewarding his family-run business and perhaps one of its premier money-makers, the Doral Club Resort, to host this big event. The spillover effect from that, even at cost, is very good for whatever locale you choose.

But it was Judge Andrew Napolitano who really ripped into Trump's decision, in response:

The Constitution does not address "profits," it addresses any "present" -- as in "gift," any "emolument'" -- as in cash, of "any kind whatever" -- I'm quoting here [the] emoluments clause -- from any "king, prince, or foreign state." The purpose of the emoluments clause is to keep the president of the United States of America from profiting off foreign money -- here we go again! Not in the campaign, but in some event or entity that he controls or is running. He has bought himself an enormous headache with the choice of this. This is about as direct and profound a violation of the emoluments clause as one could create.


   Chris Wallace twists the knife

But it was dynastic Fox News journalist Chris Wallace who got the snarkiest word in, which we will close with today:

[Donald Trump] often likes to say about me, "You know, I was covered by Mike Wallace, I liked him much more." To which my reaction is always: One of us has a daddy problem, and it's not me.

-- Chris Weigant


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Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground


48 Comments on “Friday Talking Points -- They Just Don't Care Anymore”

  1. [1] 
    Paula wrote:

    Was appreciating the column until the Hillary-hate appeared -


    Hillary Clinton obviously needs to stop spreading such inflammatory conspiracies, because by doing so she is just doing Trump's work for him. Does she really think Tulsi Gabbard or Jill Stein are really going to be determining factors in the 2020 race? Does she really believe that either of them is "a Russian asset"?

    She does and so do others. "Asset" means witting or unwitting. Gabbard, much like Blotus, always seems to be saying things that are Putin-positive and Dem-negative. Whether she does it deliberately or because she is a moron - that's what she does. A host of rightwing pundits LOVE Gabbard - that's a tell. She spreads conspiracy theories and whines on FOX, which is rightwing propaganda central. And Jill Stein is a total tool - she runs for office for the dough, spent time in Russia and does nothing except spread anti-Dem crap.

    But then, I seem to remember all sorts of people who thought the idea of Russian interference in our elections (long since PROVED and accepted by all but deplorable blotus fools) was just nonsensical.

    HRC was SOS under a legit administration. If it was a contest between what she knows and what CW knows, I'll back HRC. The third party threat exists - especially since Bernie will lose and a chunk of his most idiotic supporters will refuse to vote for the Dem winner and will insist they were robbed. So the question will be which tool will do a spite-run and help the GOP? If some never-trumper runs on the right, that may siphon off Repubs, which is good. But anyone helping to siphon off Dems - Gabbard, Stein or anyone else, should be damned to hell.

  2. [2] 
    andygaus wrote:

    One person I'd really like to see subpoenaed if possible would be the translator whose notes Trump seized after a private chat with Putin.

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Turkey is pushing the United States around, Trump is showing his true weakness, and the rest of the world is watching.

    For those of us who are not Americans but who have long been firm believers in the promise of America, the actions of the Trump administration have been deflating. The betrayal of the Kurds is especially shameful.

    I think if the promise of America is to survive, the next POTUS will have to work extremely hard to regain the trust of the free world and beyond, not to mention many Americans, let alone be considered the global leader.

  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Does the Supreme Court really mean that much to Republicans? I mean, to the point where nothing else matters?

    Do they even understand the role of the Supreme Court and how it functions?

  5. [5] 
    dsws wrote:

    Clinton went several steps further, dishing up her own conspiracy theories about Tulsi Gabbard

    Double you, tea, eff factorial factorial buttonhook factorial factorial buttonhook, Hillary,



    As the saying goes, my ability to even is severely impaired.

  6. [6] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Paula [1]

    Preach it!

    In December 2018, two reports commissioned by the US Senate found that the Russian government's attempts to interfere in the 2016 election had included boosting Stein's candidacy through social media posts. This disinformation effort targeted African-American voters in particular. Stein has often taken positions that closely mirrored Russian positions.

    Hillary has every right to be pissed about the 2016 election and how Russia interfered to keep her out of the White House. That she has remained out of the spot light as much as she has is a testament to her restraint. I think Hillary is just making sure the public keeps its eyes open to the ways that Russia will interfere in our upcoming election.

  7. [7] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Why Trump announcing his property will host the G-7 conference is the worst violation of the emoluments clause to date — it is Trump actively seeking to make money off his position. This is the biggest reason that this could end up being its own article of impeachment! Prior to now, if Saudi Arabia wanted to book entire floors of his hotels, Trump was a passive player in the whole affair. Now, Trump is telling the G-7 members that if they want to be a part of the conference, they will have to pay him personally! Trump is now actively seeking emoluments.

    It is becoming clear that Trump failed to follow the normal selection process for picking private vendors for government funded events. The biggest tell might be that the mayor of Doral, Florida first learned that the resort was really being considered to host the conference was when the White House announced it would host it. That means the city was never contacted by the Secret Service and has not worked with our government to see what security demands will be placed on the city.

    On a sad note, the resort has a bad history of bed bug infestations. Lawyers for the resort recently settled the most recent lawsuit brought by one of the bed bug bitten.

  8. [8] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    While Hillary may deserve the MDDOTW for spreading conspiracy theories, you deserve a dishonorable mention for another Most Impressive Democrat of the Weak award to Pelosi. You are way to easily impressed.

    Or maybe the Dems are just not capable of doing anything that actually is impressive.

    Maybe the conspiracy theory that should be investigated is whether you are working for Pelosi, if she has some dirt on you (pictures of you getting peed on by a cat? :D) or simply that Pelosi is responsible for funneling funding to

  9. [9] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Did you see Warren's recent e-mail aboot her plan to get big money out of politics?

    It contained some interesting points aboot her limiting contributions from certain donors to 200 dollars.

    This might have been a better choice for both the MIDOTW and the MDDOTW.

    Impressive for at least touching on the right idea and disappointing for only touching on it instead of embracing it 100% and following it with the same empty promises of future legislation that will never become law.

  10. [10] 
    Paula wrote:

    [6] Listen:

    Hillary has every right to be pissed about the 2016 election and how Russia interfered to keep her out of the White House. That she has remained out of the spot light as much as she has is a testament to her restraint. I think Hillary is just making sure the public keeps its eyes open to the ways that Russia will interfere in our upcoming election.


  11. [11] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Well, I was gonna type about Hillary, but Paula and Listen did it for me. I'm with them.

    Some of the media was on CW's side on this, which shows just how fast the media can turn on you, even when you have the facts on your side. As political punditry goes, her guess has a history which the press has completely overlooked. Par for the course.

  12. [12] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    In other news, Boris Johnson has lost another Brexit vote. He vows to plug on, but really, it's getting to be about time to pull the plug. Perhaps Brexit shouldn't even be considered until it gets a two-thirds majority.

  13. [13] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Hillary Clinton obviously needs to stop spreading such inflammatory conspiracies, because by doing so she is just doing Trump's work for him. Does she really think Tulsi Gabbard or Jill Stein are really going to be determining factors in the 2020 race? Does she really believe that either of them is "a Russian asset"? Methinks it's time for her to spend a lot more time taking long walks in the Chappaqua woods again rather than making wild accusations in the midst of a Democratic primary race.

    Well said, Chris and I, for one around here, agree.

  14. [14] 
    Paula wrote:

    [11] Balthasar:

    As political punditry goes, her guess has a history which the press has completely overlooked. Par for the course.


    [12] Yep.

  15. [15] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    I don't think Hillary is getting flack here and elsewhere so much for what she's saying but rather that she's saying anything so controversial as to draw this kind of attention.

    You see, in 2008 she lost to a black man. Then in 2016 she lost to a New York Douchebag. Yes, there were headwinds aplenty in 2016 -- the DNC jamming her down our throats, the Rooskies, Comey, misogeny and her own wooden campaign -- but look who she lost to!

    I think that the unspoken Democratic sentiment is for Hillary to just go away.

  16. [16] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Apologies to nypoet22 and Michale. Hey guys, I didn't invent the term NYDB but it's what Trump campaigned as (and is governing as) so it is what it is.

  17. [17] 
    italyrusty wrote:

    * Chris, once again you have provided good commentary, but I don't feel these are good 'talking points' for Democrats. Survey after survey demonstrates that Americans are only peripherally concerned about impeachment. They want their elected officials to focus on health care, wages, and climate change, among other 'real world' issues.

    * Paula [1] = I couldn't have said it better.

    * And I nominate 'dream hampton' (yes, it seems she uses lower-case only) for honorable mention of MIDOTW:

  18. [18] 
    Paula wrote:

    [15] MtnCaddy:

    I think that the unspoken Democratic sentiment is for Hillary to just go away.

    Maybe among Hillary-hating Dems. Lots of us enjoy hearing from her and think her warnings should be heeded.

  19. [19] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    [18] Paula: yep.

  20. [20] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Agreed. And respectfully so: As qualified as she is and considering her opponent, the fact that she in not President is a calamity of historic proportions.

    Nevertheless, I believe that the majority of Democrats don't want to hear from Hillary anymore. What else explains the flack that she's getting. Jesus, like we don't have a Trump to remind us of her failures.

  21. [21] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    BTW I am by no means a Hillary hater. For 25 years I waited for her to win the Presidency, for in my own authentically evil soul I envisioned mass suicides amongst the Republican lemmings by mid-November 2016.

    But Hillary as President just isn't the cards. As much as I admire the woman it's time to move on, Madame Secretary.

  22. [22] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    At what point will our military leaders decide that they can no longer follow the orders of a commander that is working to damage our national security efforts and our standing as a world leader? Our president has made major military decisions without consulting any of our national security or military leaders after speaking with the president of Turkey...twice!

    The first time this happened, Gen. Mattis and the person leading the multinational coalition on defeating ISIS resigned in protest of Trump’s sudden change in our ME strategy.

    Now, Trump pulled us out of Syria immediately after getting off the phone with Erdogan, inviting the ethnic cleansing of the Kurdish people that we had once called our close allies!

    Michael can claim that Trump was preventing us from being drawn into a war all he wants...Trump had us running away from defending our allies like cowards with our tails between our legs! We had to call in air strikes on our own bases to prevent them from being captured by foreign forces — Trump let Erdogan call the shots and tell him what he would order our forces to do. I have said before that Trump is clearly compromised, and this is further proof of that fact!

  23. [23] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    ProPublica put out a great piece that helps show how foreign money (and dirty money originating from home) is being funneled into Trump’s SuperPAC.

  24. [24] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    The US military, it seems, have an affinity for Republicans.

    I've never understood their dislike of Democrats, during the latter part of my lifetime, at least ...

  25. [25] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:


    I think it goes back to the Vietnam era... some anti-war protesters took it too far and couldn’t separate their opposing the war from blaming those forced to fight it for causing the war. Sadly, Republicans just ran with it and made it so anyone who opposed war was guilty of opposing the military.

  26. [26] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Have Democrats done nothing to reverse those perceptions?

    I mean, I know Senator Biden has done so much to support the military over his many decades in service to the country.

    But, his is the only one I know of who ends every single speech he makes with, "And, may God protect our troops."

  27. [27] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    On October 22, Frontline will look at the immigration debate and how President Trump's version of "The Snake" which he often recites at his rallies has defined that debate:

  28. [28] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:


    Have Democrats done nothing to reverse those perceptions?

    Of course they have tried, but Republicans are better at spinning lies than Democrats are at getting their intended message out. Republicans have long supported the military-insustrial complex more than they have those that serve in our military, but they act as if the there is no separating the two when discussing the military’s budget.
    Democrats have been more vocal about our over spending on the military budget, and Republicans have been better at spinning that to seem like Democrats are not wanting to support our troops.

    Trump, however, may do more to ruin the GOP’s relationship with our military service members than anyone could have imagined if they don’t remove him before he completely hands our government over to the foreign powers pulling his purse strings. That Trump sells t-shirts at his rallies that say “I’d rather be a Russian than a Democrat” sounds silly until you realize Trump is working for Putin.

  29. [29] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Tell me you're just kidding about the t-shirts!

  30. [30] 
    John M wrote:

    There are plenty of other problems with Trump's Doral property besides being infested with bed bugs that show why it was such a poor choice and was chosen only because it was a Trump property. For them to state otherwise is what makes it so laughably bad.

    For one, it is directly under the flight path for air traffic from Miami International Airport.

    For another, it is inland and surrounded by corporate high rises. Other G7 locations have used the sea as a security buffer on at least one side.

    The pool has been so poorly maintained that it is dirty and not even filled to capacity with water.

    Several of the bungalows not only have bed bedbugs but are also musty and moldy.

    At least two helipads would have to be built on the golf course for transporting diplomats for security purposes and then removed afterwards, involving major construction and then renovation of the facilities to the tune of millions of dollars at tax payer expense.

    Thank god they finally backed down and will now look for another site.

  31. [31] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    How about the local Motel 6?

  32. [32] 
    Paula wrote:

    [21] MtnCaddy: But Hillary as President just isn't the cards. As much as I admire the woman it's time to move on, Madame Secretary.

    Don't worry - she's not running.

  33. [33] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Stranger things have already happened …

  34. [34] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:


    Tell me you're just kidding about the t-shirts!

    I really wish that I could, but sadly I cannot! It truly is sad that “Liberal” and “Conservative” now carry the same vitriol that used to only come from certain racial slurs and curse words!

    There is a great article in today’s WAPO on how powerful FoxNews is at keeping Trump’s base behind him.

  35. [35] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    John M [30]

    Spot on! But I think the most obvious problem with picking Doral — well, the second most obvious problem, the most obvious is that it is against the law —is that the conference is held in June. Doral’s slowest months are June and August for a very good is hotter than hell during those months and the weather doesn’t like to play nice!

    Why anyone would think that holding a conference in a location where just physically attending will make the participants feel miserable could be conducive to creating a good work environment for these world leaders to work in is beyond me!

    Trump’s team will have to scramble to find a new location, because you know they haven’t been looking anywhere else until now! They didn’t bother to conduct the proper investigation into the property they chose, so what are the chances that they did for any of the other possible locations?

  36. [36] 
    Paula wrote:

    Mark Zuckerberg/Facebook assisting Buttigieg:

    The staff recommendations from Zuckerberg are the first evidence of the Facebook CEO actively assisting a presidential campaign. A number of other high-ranking Facebook executives, including David Marcus, the executive leading Facebook’s cryptocurrency efforts, Naomi Gleit, one of Facebook’s longest-tenured executives, and Chris Cox, former chief product officer who is close friends with Zuckerberg, have donated to Buttigieg.

  37. [37] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Well, the devolutionary nature of American political and media culture practically ensures this sad state of affairs.

    Something different is in order and long overdue.
    I think a description of "up-wing" is also in order.

    Again. :)

    It's a term used by one of my favourite political analysts, William Bradley, and was derived from an idea that former Senator Gary Hart showed him to characterize political figures using a past-future spectrum instead of the usual right-wing/left-wing classification.

    To paraphrase Bradley, this past-future spectrum naturally runs from the up end to the down end of the spectrum, with the 'up' futurist end characterized by new technology, creative utilizations of existing technology, and new structural forms to pursue enduring values and new visions.

    The up-wing leader places a special emphasis on big think/think big future-oriented and enlightened policies in an effort to position a society on the global cutting edge, even in the midst of great challenges and crises that would paralyze a down-wing political leader.

    Additionally, to quote Bradley, "big thinking, big ideas need not be about big items per se. In fact, some of the biggest thinking is about small things, or more accurately, how to bring smaller things into play to solve problems that big things might make worse."

    This is a far superior method of characterizing political figures today than the outdated and tired left-wing/right wing labels because it identifies the candidate most capable of outlining a coherent vision for the future and of possessing the courage to carry it out.

  38. [38] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Trump is definitely down-wing and Biden is most decidedly up-wing, for two examples.

    You see how descriptive this can be for candidates? It takes their party right out of the analysis of who a candidate is and how they would lead.

  39. [39] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    I just read that WaPo piece you linked to.

    All of which just strengthens my argument that Democrats - at least, UP-WING Democrats - should make their voices heard and push back on Trump's most egregious lies, particularly as they relate to the 2020 presidential campaign.

    Of course, this will take plenty of preparation on the part of the Democrats who enter into Fox territory.

    But, I have no doubt that there are many Democrats, including many of those running now and Democrats in congressional leadership positions, who are quite capable of getting out an enlightened message to counter the Trump line.

  40. [40] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    To be clear, I'm talking about the need for up-wing Democrats to make regular appearances on Fox in a concerted effort to counter the Trump arguments, such as they are.

    If they don't, then the message of the article Russ linked to above will only get worse for Democrats.

  41. [41] 
    Paula wrote:

    [40] EM: Wrong.

    But, even if people do expose themselves to beliefs they disagree with, that won’t necessarily make things better. More exposure to the other side can sometimes backfire and cause people to become more entrenched in their own beliefs. One study paid Twitter users to follow accounts that would retweet tweets from their political opponents—liberals would see conservative tweets, and conservatives would see liberal tweets. It didn’t cause people to open their minds to the other side. Instead, liberals became more liberal, and conservatives became more conservative.

    From one of many studies showing that confronting people with facts doesn't change minds. Doing that is a start but must be followed up with other steps that wont happen on FOX.

    Everything about FOX is built to keep it's viewers fooled and propagandized. Appearing on FOX only serves to validate it, thereby allowing its elder-abused, brainwashed fans to say to themselves: "gee, Joe Biden went on FOX and said a bunch of stuff Sean Hannity says is a lie! Since Biden was willing to appear here it's wrong to say FOX is biased! Hannity says what Carlson says which is what they said on FOX and Friends. Chris Wallace and Joe Biden are wrong or lying!"

    FOX IS NOT A NEWS CHANNEL it is a propaganda factory. It hurts Dems collectively when individual Dems appear there and it doesn't matter how cogent their arguments.

  42. [42] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    That's not a very good argument, Paula. Mostly because you don't give voters - not all voters, by any stretch, you understand - enough credit.

    Not all Fox viewers are for Trump, no matter what.

  43. [43] 
    SF Bear wrote:

    [42} EM Wrong again did you not read the WAPO article? It clearly states that 90+ per cent of Fox viewers are Trumpistas

  44. [44] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    i'm with paula on the fox news debate. from top to bottom, fox is set up to make republicans look good and democrats look bad, and any employee who does differently is shown the door.

    worse, even accidental exposure to that sort of propaganda can change voter behavior negatively. liz, it's not about giving voters credit or not giving them credit. propaganda works on groups of people no matter who they are, how intelligent they are, or how well inoculated they think they are from its effects. worse still, CNN seems to have followed MSNBC into the abyss of EMULATING fox - replacing fact with propaganda.

  45. [45] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    SF Bear [43],

    Wrong again did you not read the WAPO article? It clearly states that 90+ per cent of Fox viewers are Trumpistas

    Actually, that's not quite what it said but, even if it did, is that reason to keep Democrats and their messages, arguments, etc. off of Fox?

  46. [46] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Time to leave the old thread and on to the new column!

  47. [47] 
    Kick wrote:

    CW: We begin with Bill McCraven, former commander of U.S. Special Operations, who really lit into Trump this week. The first paragraph below is McCraven's response to a fellow four-star retired general who told him at an event honoring soldiers: "I don't like the Democrats, but Trump is destroying the Republic!" Both paragraphs are from a New York Times article McCraven wrote this week...

    First off, it's "McRaven"... not "McCraven." He makes a lot of good points in that op-ed, doesn't he? I like this one:

    The America that they believed in was under attack, not from without, but from within. ~ William H. McRaven

    Nice of the generals to begin catching on. Has a nice ring to it:

    Donald Trump: A guy who believes that accumulation of wealth is the true sign of a man's worth, who easily takes both sides of any issue for political expediency while his true loyalty lies with himself, a confident con no matter which side he's taking, and the biggest threat to our country coming not from without, but from within, a guy who fancies himself a true patriot but who'd turn coat on America and her people in order to satisfy his insatiable greed and lust for power and title... a modern-day Benedict Arnold. ~ Kick, circa May 2016

  48. [48] 
    Kick wrote:


    Exactly right. It seems CW and others need to be informed regarding what constitutes a "Russian asset" and that a person can be a "witting" as well as "unwitting" Russian asset. Then there's the glaringly obvious honking fact that HRC did not call out the "Russian asset" by name so it was quite accommodating of Tulsi Gabbard to raise her voice in answer of the affirmative.

    HRC is correct for many reasons, of course, as we've discussed on this board months ago:

    Would it be a requirement for a candidate to be "pro-Russian" in order to garner the support of the bots in order to push a narrative? I certainly wasn't trying to make sense about why the Russian bots would flood the zone to make Tulsi Gabbard the winner of a poll on right-wing propaganda media like Drudge, but they are.

    GRU modus operandi is to divide and conquer and spread misinformation. Why would they choose Tulsi Gabbard as a means to that end? Let's now speculate. Perhaps it's because:

    * Gabbard was endorsed by David Duke and the white supremacists and their ilk.

    * The far lefties refer to her as being an "Assad shill" and therefore a "Putin puppet."

    * She took an unannounced trip to meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2017 and afterward said she was "skeptical" that Assad would use chemical weapons against his own people and referred to the accusations as just another round of "pointing fingers."

    * She took a Trump Tower meeting brokered by Steve Bannon who praised Gabbard for embracing the term "radical Islamic terrorism."

    * RT loves her.

    * Gabbard has said that she'd drop all charges against Edward Snowden and Julian Assange. Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are a cutout for the Russian hacking of our democracy.

    So, yes, the Russian bots are promoting Tulsi Gabbard. Just FYI. :)

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