Obama Says QUIET PART OUT LOUD: Vote Dem Even If We Fail | Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar

Krystal and Saagar respond to the recent comments made by former President Barack Obama during a campaign stop for Democrats where he justifies voting for Dems even when they do nothing

Norman Finkelstein: Was Obama an Intellectual Fraud?

to just
09:15
just let me enter a footnote but just in
09:18
a site
09:20
it was very interesting to watch who
09:22
pulled it off
09:24
when he establishes his first campaign
09:26
team
09:28
it’s proof axelrod and gibbs
09:31
they’re all white
09:33
then
09:34
he assembles the team of writers
09:37
he has eight writers
09:39
and lyd makes the point
09:42
they’re all white males
09:46
it’s very striking wouldn’t it strike
09:48
you
09:50
yes it has
09:52
of eight writers
09:54
eight
09:56
including
09:57
around three who just did comedy
09:59
sketches because he was going on like
10:02
you know the
10:03
washington press club comedy night you
10:06
know
10:07
he couldn’t find one black writer
10:09
through comedy yeah i think that was a
10:11
really interesting point that you made
10:12
that apparently none of the black
10:14
comedians kind of passed muster to join
10:16
to join the team and yes it’s something
10:18
that i you know people have commented on
10:20
and that you know as i listen to
10:22
the kind of
10:24
crooked media
10:25
podcast
10:27
family
10:28
where a whole lot of people are have
10:30
very lucrative careers now as the host
10:32
of positive america etc because they
10:34
were his speech writers
10:37
and thinking about
10:38
how none of those opportunities befall
10:41
any any black people or any women in
10:42
part because that’s not who barack obama
10:45
to keep around him and put words in his
10:46
mouth it’s really striking in his inner
10:49
circle there were two blacks
10:51
valerie jarrett
10:53
who for all intents and purposes might
10:55
as well have been white well why do you
10:57
say that professor finkelstein well
10:58
first of all
11:00
valerie jarrett just physically let’s
11:02
start with the physically okay but
11:04
that’s but never how race operates in
11:06
america okay okay let’s start there and
11:09
then say finish there
11:12
when her child was
11:14
born
11:15
the hospital administrator put the child
11:18
down as white
11:19
i went to law school with her child in
11:21
fact actually
11:22
one of the most notable moments of i was
11:24
very quiet one all year she was a year
11:26
or two ahead of me and one of the most
11:29
notable moments of my 1l experience was
11:31
a
11:32
professor feldman who’s in the news for
11:33
other reasons not so charmingly right
11:36
now uh called on her and called her mrs
11:38
gray which is about the biggest
11:39
impression i ever made on anybody in
11:41
that class
11:45
so
11:46
and she grew up
11:48
and actually her her mother when her
11:50
mother
11:51
gave birth to her the administrator put
11:54
down white so just at that level at that
11:57
level but you’re right it’s that’s you
11:59
can call it a trivial level because we
12:01
have the one drop rule
12:03
in the united states okay correct she
12:05
she had nothing to do with black people
12:10
why do you say that well because she was
12:11
the mascot for richard daley
12:14
when richard daley when she when the
12:16
richard daley administration came along
12:18
in chicago he appointed her on every
12:21
board
12:22
she was the head of the chicago housing
12:24
authority she was the head of the
12:25
chicago transit authority she was the
12:28
the head of the the chair of the stock
12:30
exchange they just used her for
12:33
everything when she was the head of then
12:35
she became part of this habitat company
12:38
a private public um co-op cooperative
12:42
she was
12:43
she was a one-person gentrification
12:46
machine so i think
12:48
all the black neighborhoods chicago but
12:51
that’s different
12:52
when i challenged the idea that you said
12:54
quote you know she has nothing to do
12:56
with black people but that’s those are
12:58
this is this is the thing you know i i
13:00
all i do is sit around critiquing
13:01
identity politics
13:03
but there’s a
13:04
but it’s a very
13:05
when she is the only representative of
13:09
black people in his inner circle
13:12
she is the only one except for reggie
13:15
love right i understand that but you
13:17
can’t that is not the same thing the
13:19
problem with valerie jarrett is that she
13:22
doesn’t have good politics that connect
13:24
with what the bulk of black voters want
13:26
and need not because she’s light-skinned
13:29
right that’s not the issue and not
13:31
because of what her personal connection
13:33
is no and it’s also not because you said
13:35
she has nothing to do with black people
13:36
i know nothing about her personal life
13:38
who she hangs out with how she grew up
13:40
or how much she has anything to do with
13:42
black people so what i’m i’m not
13:43
disagreeing with the substance of your
13:45
critique of valerie jarrett but i’m just
13:47
cautioning you to be careful especially
13:49
since you aren’t black frankly something
13:52
that that’s who he chose
13:55
it’s right something
13:57
if the leading intellect black
13:59
intellectual in the united states is i
14:01
think clearly hands down is cornell west
14:04
and it’s very striking that obama
14:07
couldn’t find any place for cornell west
14:10
in his administration that tells me
14:12
something
14:14
it tells me something but he finds a
14:16
place from valerie jarrett and the only
14:18
other person is reggie love and reggie
14:22
love it was just
14:23
he was the gopher
14:25
oh obama wants an exotic meal can you
14:27
get it for him obama needs a new pair of
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shoes can you get it for him that’s how
14:31
reggie loved it i actually i i liked
14:34
reggie loves memoir because he didn’t
14:36
give
14:37
he used a memoir to talk about himself
14:40
which i i kind of like even though of
14:42
course there’s the praise for obama but
14:44
it tells you something i don’t know why
14:46
you wouldn’t want to see that
14:48
that the people i don’t need
14:52
i don’t think that you are hearing what
14:53
my criticism is
14:56
does it bother you that does it bother
14:58
you
14:59
that valerie jarrett sings the praises
15:02
of al sharpton
15:04
yes that is a substantive critique of
15:06
valerie jarrett valerie jarrett being
15:09
light skinned her daughter being
15:11
perceived as white as a kid it derails
15:13
the rest of your argument that’s the
15:15
point i’m trying to make
15:16
it’s not helpful no i’m i’m telling you
15:19
i’m telling you as someone who is
15:22
sympathetic to your argument and who is
15:23
perhaps the
15:25
person outside of
15:27
the reeds who has written most critique
15:30
of identity politics on the left that
15:32
there are aspects of what is written
15:34
here that even alienate me and force me
15:38
into a defensive posture that is
15:40
unnecessary
15:42
and you cannot you cannot you can choose
15:44
not to care professor finkelstein that’s
15:46
completely you’re right but we we could
15:48
be talking about
15:49
we could be talking about the
15:51
substantive things that we agree with
15:53
but we keep getting derailed because of
15:56
these kind of assigns that do wait i’m
15:58
sorry if i could just finish the
15:59
sentence
16:00
that do open you up to i think
16:02
legitimate criticism that this isn’t
16:04
about the substance but it’s about a
16:06
personal animus for barack obama and i
16:10
personally don’t have a personal animus
16:12
barack obama beyond the extent to which
16:14
he has failed to stand up for the
16:15
promises that he made to the american
16:17
people who are suffering
16:18
at a historic level right now and
16:21
particularly because he’s a black person
16:22
who traded on
16:24
his blackness in order to convince
16:27
people without a lot of substance as
16:28
you’ve written so persuasively
16:30
to invest in him and to trust him with
16:34
the future and the fate of the most
16:36
historically marginal you know one of
16:37
the most historically marginalized
16:38
groups in this country that is my beef
16:40
with barack obama but when you say
16:42
things like i don’t find him interesting
16:44
that’s fine you don’t have to i
16:46
personally find him to be very
16:48
interesting and deeply compelling and i
16:50
i mean like the whole phenomenon i find
16:52
to be fascinating
16:53
but the i it begs the question you know
16:56
why is it relevant whether you find them
16:58
interesting and i find them just
16:59
uninteresting i said i don’t think it’s
17:01
relevant but it comes up you end up you
17:04
said it i didn’t say it you said it and
17:06
those kinds of asides and those frogs
17:08
and detours i would put to you i would
17:10
put to you
17:12
set you up to be written off and set all
17:14
of your critique to be written off
17:16
as a personal vendetta as opposed to a
17:19
substantive analysis which i think is
17:21
very much here and that’s all that i it
17:24
is that i’m flagging
17:25
because
17:26
um
17:28
i don’t like
17:29
identity politics
17:32
why not
17:33
why
17:34
yeah i mean i don’t either but i want to
17:36
hear i’m interested in hearing
17:38
your
17:38
analysis because
17:41
i know enough young people
17:44
not from the elite schools
17:47
but
17:48
young people who are
17:50
struggling
17:52
very hard
17:54
now
17:55
i had a wonderful life
17:58
not in terms of professional success
18:01
but enable
18:03
in terms of being able to do with my
18:05
life
18:06
what i wanted to do
18:08
you set a goal as a child a youth
18:11
and then you
18:13
are able to realize it
18:16
i had a friend richard herskowitz
18:19
he loved film
18:21
he became a film uh impresario festivals
18:24
organizing festivals
18:26
larry spivak he was in the school band
18:29
the orchestra leader
18:32
he became the leader of the greenwich
18:33
orchestra
18:35
then there’s the whole slew who became
18:37
doctors
18:38
that was their goal and there were quite
18:40
a few just money in wall street
18:43
this generation
18:47
they
18:49
it’s the very rare person outside the 20
18:52
the 20 will make it
18:54
the 80
18:55
who i know
18:58
they’re not going to see anything in
18:59
their lives it’s very hard for me to
19:01
tell them that
19:02
i um
19:04
often they’re asking me what do you
19:05
think i should do where do you think i
19:07
should go
19:08
i don’t even know what to counsel
19:09
anymore
19:11
because i don’t see any prospects at all
19:15
so
19:17
to me
19:18
this identity politics
19:21
it’s a complete and total
19:24
diversion
19:27
from anything meaningful
19:29
and substantive
19:32
for the young people i know who are poor
19:36
who live four to a room
19:39
in new york
19:40
or four to an apartment in new york
19:43
who struggle each month
19:46
to make the rent
19:48
who keep down
19:50
three dead end jobs
19:53
with no job security no vacation no sick
19:57
benefits nothing nothing
20:00
and then
20:01
juxtaposed to that
20:04
is this idiotic
20:06
identity politics
20:09
which
20:10
so far as
20:12
the young people i know
20:14
has absolutely no meaning
20:17
no
20:18
substance
20:20
whatsoever
20:22
so i just want to make sure i understand
20:24
what you’re really
20:25
one last thought sure
20:27
it was very striking to me
20:31
the
20:32
juxtaposition of the obama campaign
20:37
with the bernie campaign
20:39
the obama campaign was just
20:42
elect obama it was just all focused on
20:46
electing this person president
20:49
the bernie campaign
20:51
was entirely focused on his platform
20:55
everybody the moment he thought bernie
20:58
you thought first medicare for all
21:01
student debt
21:03
abolish tuition
21:05
jobs
21:06
and infrastructure
21:08
it was an identity politics campaign
21:12
juxtaposed against
21:15
a class politics
21:17
it was a very in my opinion
21:21
a very striking juxtaposition
21:25
most people like bernie not because they
21:27
had any particular
21:29
affection for him
21:31
but because they trusted him they knew
21:33
this guy’s been in politics for 40 years
21:35
he’s been saying the same thing since
21:37
the 1970s
21:39
so they figured okay the guy is the real
21:41
thing he’s the real deal uh that’s the
21:45
kind of politics
21:46
that’s always interested me
21:50
i care i care about the fate of humanity
21:53
i do
21:54
i don’t much care about abram x candies
21:57
um
21:59
hair
22:01
it doesn’t much interest me
22:04
is uh
22:06
these are fashion shows
22:08
this is not scholarship
22:10
it’s not politics
22:13
it’s
22:14
tamika mallory doing cadillac
22:17
commercials
22:19
it’s
22:20
patrice coolers
22:23
buying her four homes and then taking
22:25
the money and run
22:28
it’s also
22:30
beyond the scam
22:33
it’s really destructive
22:37
i was out every night
22:39
during the george floyd demonstrations i
22:41
was the only one over there was nobody
22:44
over
22:44
[Music]
22:45
there was literally over 30 at the
22:47
demonstrations because it was jaren
22:48
covert
22:50
so i was the only one
22:53
not for my age cohort
22:55
for four decades
22:58
after 35
22:59
three decades
23:01
and what was most striking to me
23:03
a veteran as it were of demonstrations
23:08
i had never seen
23:10
such anger among the whites the young
23:12
white people
23:15
it was not this kind of no bless oblige
23:18
solidarity with black people no
23:21
it was solidarity
23:23
however
23:25
it was we’re all in this together
23:29
and it was very striking
23:31
let’s say the
23:32
uh barclays center
23:35
which is the big center in downtown
23:37
brooklyn
23:38
here were the cops lined up
23:41
and here were
23:42
the demonstrators
23:45
and
23:46
there would be the white women
23:49
and there was such a fierce
23:52
anger
23:54
they were screaming it was not the most
23:56
sophisticated
23:58
of the of slogans they were shouting
24:00
nypd sucked my dick nyc
24:04
so angry
24:07
and
24:08
you you could see
24:10
it was the rage against the machine
24:14
that the police were the symbols
24:16
of this whole
24:18
system
24:21
that left them with no future
24:24
a futureless future
24:26
and there was real potential there
24:29
it was real
24:31
black and white
24:33
solidarity
24:35
as i had never before seen it
24:38
and it was very
24:40
inspiring
24:42
to see it because it wasn’t fake it
24:43
wasn’t the martha’s vineyard
24:47
it wasn’t performing
24:48
it was real
24:50
because a lot of these kids you know how
24:52
do you find a place in new york there
24:54
are three people they need a roommate
24:57
so a person comes along they randomly
24:59
choose them there is like a co-op
25:01
screening you know what i mean
25:03
so you have
25:05
every different type living together
25:08
a black person a white person a gay
25:10
person the trans person through living
25:12
together
25:13
there was a real sense of
25:15
community there you know recognition
25:17
that blacks are getting shafted more
25:19
than
25:19
everybody else but we’re all getting
25:22
shafted by this system
25:24
and the identity politics wrecks all
25:27
that it destroys it
25:30
by
25:31
by
25:32
balkanizing
25:34
the
25:36
solidarity
25:37
creating this competitiveness
25:40
who is the most oppressed
25:43
among the group
25:45
who should get bumped to the head of the
25:47
queue
25:48
it’s such a destructive
25:51
politics
25:52
i was a maoist
25:54
in my youth i made many errors
25:57
i’m perfectly willing to
26:00
acknowledge them
26:02
but there are things about that period
26:04
that i look back and they make sense
26:07
mao’s famous slogan was unite the many
26:09
to defeat the few
26:12
unite the many to defeat the few
26:15
the slogan of identity politics is
26:18
disunite the many to enable the few
26:21
to create enough divisions
26:23
fragmentations
26:25
and so forth
26:27
uh it’s a very destructive
26:30
and at the end of course the whole
26:32
identity politics in the george floyd
26:34
demonstrations what do they what
26:36
happened instead of putting forth a
26:39
slogan which could have united people
26:41
the obvious slogan was
26:43
justice meaning justice against the cops
26:45
and jobs because all these people don’t
26:47
have work
26:49
instead of justice and jobs
26:51
it came to
26:52
pummeling
26:54
statues of
26:55
whomever they were pulling down
26:58
and if you were if you attended those
27:00
demonstrations i don’t know if you did
27:03
by the third week the first week it was
27:06
50 50 50 black 50 not black
27:11
by the third week it was about 80 10 80
27:15
white
27:16
the black people sort of
27:18
it wasn’t going anywhere and they
27:20
started to disappear
27:22
and then the whole craziness with the
27:24
statues started
27:26
and then the whole thing just fizzled
27:27
out
27:29
i had there right well i think that the
27:30
i mean there’s a lot to be said about
27:32
those protests and we’ve said some of it
27:33
on the show i would dispute that it
27:35
fizzled out i think that there were a
27:36
lot of things that happened there was
27:38
the media turned on the protests and
27:41
started characterizing them
27:43
as kind of unhinged and violent and that
27:46
the ongoing protests were direct
27:49
um
27:50
there was going to be a direct trade-off
27:51
between the george floyd
27:54
movement policing movement
27:56
and
27:58
joe biden’s electoral chances and that
28:00
deflated some energy out of it and there
28:02
was an unwillingness of figureheads as
28:04
you’ve pointed to to actually stick that
28:06
landing and create any real use it for
28:09
any real leverage in an electoral
28:10
context in the middle of a journal
28:12
election and there was a lot of there
28:13
was a lot going on there
28:15
but um i want to bring this back uh
28:18
to
28:19
the subject to hand and ask you then
28:23
in a broader critique of identity
28:24
politics why is it that you felt the
28:27
need to write a chapter on barack obama
28:30
especially if to your point the younger
28:32
generations let’s say the under 40 crowd
28:35
is pretty woke and hip to
28:38
the
28:39
failures of obama
28:42
and doesn’t need need the pitch who who
28:44
is this who is this for hey youtube
28:47
don’t forget this is a podcast to get
28:49
full episodes including ones that are
28:51
behind a pay wall go to patreon.com bad
28:55
faith podcast to get more episodes
28:57
please do subscribe to this channel hit
28:59
the notification bell and like this
29:01
video
29:03

Trump, Tax Cuts and Terrorism

Why do Republicans enable right-wing extremism?

Why has the Republican Party become a systematic enabler of terrorism?

Don’t pretend to be shocked. Just look at G.O.P. responses to the massacre in El Paso. They have ranged from the ludicrous (blame video games!) to the almost honest (who would have expected Ted Cruz, of all people, to speak out against white supremacy?). But as far as I can tell, not one prominent Republican has even hinted at the obvious link between Donald Trump’s repeated incitements to violence and the upsurge in hate crimes.

So the party remains in lock step behind a man who has arguably done more to promote racial violence than any American since Nathan Bedford Forrest, who helped found the Ku Klux Klan, a terrorist organization if there ever was one — and who was recently honored by the Republican governor of Tennessee.

Anyway, the party’s complicity started long before Trump came on the scene. More than a decade ago, the Department of Homeland Security issued a report warning about a surge of right-wing extremism. The report was prescient, to say the least. But when congressional Republicans learned about it, they went on a rampage, demanding the resignation of Janet Napolitano, who headed the agency, and insisted that even using the term “right-wing extremism” was unacceptable.

This backlash was effective: Homeland Security drastically scaled back its efforts to monitor and head off what was already becoming a major threat. In effect, Republicans bullied law enforcement into creating a safe space for potential terrorists, as long as their violent impulses were motivated by the right kind of hatred.

No, not exactly. No doubt some members of Congress, and a significant number of Trump administration officials, very much including the tweeter in chief, really are white supremacists. And a much larger fraction — almost surely bigger than anyone wants to admit — are racists. (Recently released tapes of conversations between Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon reveal that the modern G.O.P.’s patron saint was, in fact, a crude racist who called Africans “monkeys.”)

But racism isn’t what drives the Republican establishment, and my guess is that a majority of the party’s elected officials find it a little bit repugnantjust not repugnant enough to induce them to repudiate its political exploitation. And their exploitation of racism has led them inexorably to where they are today: de facto enablers of a wave of white supremacist terrorism.

The central story of U.S. politics since the 1970s is the takeover of the Republican Party by economic radicals, determined to slash taxes for the wealthy while undermining the social safety net.

With the arguable exception of George H.W. Bush, every Republican president since 1980 has pushed through tax cuts that disproportionately benefited the 1 percent while trying to defund and/or privatize key social programs like

  • Social Security,
  • Medicare,
  • Medicaid and the
  • Affordable Care Act.

 

  • believe that the rich should pay more, not less, in taxes, and
  • want spending on social programs to rise, not fall.

So how do Republicans win elections? By appealing to racial animus. This is such an obvious fact of American political life that you have to be willfully blind not to see it.

For a long time, the G.O.P. establishment was able to keep this game under control. It would campaign using implicit appeals to racial hostility (welfare queens! Willie Horton!) but turn postelection to privatization and tax cuts.

But for some reason this bait-and-switch started getting less effective in the 2000s. Maybe it was the reality of America’s growing racial diversity; maybe it was the fact that American society as a whole was becoming less racist, leaving the hard-core racists feeling isolated and frustrated. And the election of our first black president really kicked hatred into overdrive.

The result is that there are more and more angry white people out there willing to commit mayhem — and able to do so because those same Republicans have blocked any effective control over sales of assault weapons.

A different, better G.O.P. might have been willing to acknowledge the growing threat and supported a crackdown on violent right-wing extremism, comparable to the F.B.I.’s successful campaign against the modern K.K.K. in the 1960s. A lot of innocent victims would be alive today if Republicans had done so.

But they didn’t, because admitting that right-wing extremism was a threat, or even a phrase law enforcement should be allowed to use, might have threatened the party’s exploitation of racial hostility to achieve its economic goals.

In effect, then, the Republican Party decided that a few massacres were an acceptable price to pay in return for tax cuts. I wish that were hyperbole, but the continuing refusal of G.O.P. figures to criticize Trump even after El Paso shows that it’s the literal truth.

So as I said at the beginning, the G.O.P. has become a systematic enabler of terrorism. Why? Follow the money.

Trump’s Ignoring Our Real ‘National Emergies’

  • If the caravan proceeds by foot, during the period of its journey 16,800 Americans will die from drugs.

  • In the period of the caravan’s journey, perhaps 690,000 Americans will become homeless, including 267,000 children.

  • In the period of the caravan’s journey, 8,850 Americans will die from guns, including suicides and murders.

  • In the period of the caravan’s journey, perhaps 9,000 Americans will die from lack of health insurance (people die at higher rates when they’re uninsured, although there’s disagreement about how much higher).

Maybe the real “National Emergy” is drugs, homelessness, gun deaths and lack of health insurance?

.. the issue isn’t really even immigration. Rather, it’s fearmongering. Scholars have found that reminding people of dangers makes them temporarily more conservative, so this kind of manipulation can be an effective campaign tactic.

Remember the 2014 midterm elections? This is a replay. In the run-up to voting, Republicans ratcheted up fears of a “border crisis” with terrorists sneaking in from Mexico to attack us, plus alarm about Ebola and the risk that the outbreak in West Africa could reach America.

.. Trump also tweeted then that if a New York physician who returned from West Africa developed Ebola (as he later did), “then Obama should apologize to the American people & resign.”

In the 2014 elections, Republican candidates ran hundreds of ads denouncing the Obama administration’s handling of Ebola. News organizations chronicled this “debate,” but in retrospect they were manipulated into becoming a channel to spread fear — and win Republican votes.

.. Yet Ebola, like the Central American caravan, is a reminder of the distinction between grandstanding and governing.

.. Obama’s technocratic Ebola program — working with France and Britain, plus private aid groups — may have worried voters, but it was effective.

.. the Ebola virus was contained and eventually burned out. Good governance often turns out to be bad politics, and vice versa.

.. Perhaps the approach with the best record is aid programs to curb gang violence in countries like Honduras, to reduce the factors that lead people to attempt the dangerous journey to the United States. Yet it’s not tangible and doesn’t impress voters. So Trump instead is talking about an expensive wall and about cutting aid to Central America, even though this would magnify the crisis there and probably lead more people to flee north.

.. I fear that we in the media have become Trump’s puppets, letting him manipulate us to project issues like the caravan onto the agenda.

.. Trump is right that, although there’s no evidence of it, “there could very well be” Middle Easterners hiding in the caravan. It’s equally true that the Easter Bunny “could very well be” in the caravan. Speaking of Easter, Jesus Christ “could very well be” in the caravan.

.. So let’s stop freaking out about what “could very well be” and focus on facts. Here are two:

  1. First, the Caravan won’t make a bit of difference to America.
  2. Second, we have other problems to focus on, from drugs to homelessness to health care, that genuinely constitute a “National Emergy.”

Donald Trump Presents: ‘Celebrity Impunity’

conservative author and activist Dinesh D’Souza wrote a book, “Obama’s America,” full of gross speculations about the sex life of the president’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, who was a pioneering anthropologist. “Ann’s sexual adventuring may seem a little surprising in view of the fact that she was a large woman who kept getting larger,” wrote D’Souza. He described her as a “playgirl” who used “her American background and economic and social power to purchase the romantic attention of third-world men.”

D’Souza’s insinuations had little to do with his ostensible thesis, which was that Obama sought to undermine America. It was simply a timeworn insult — calling someone’s mom fat and promiscuous — that tells us nothing about Obama’s family, but a lot about D’Souza’s character.

.. D’Souza is a felon who, in 2014, pleaded guilty to routing illegal campaign donations through a woman he was having an affair with, and the woman’s husband.

.. At the time, D’Souza was married and serving as president of the evangelical King’s College. His ex-wife would later accuse him of physical abuse.

.. D’Souza pardon, like those of the former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio and the former Dick Cheney aide Scooter Libby, is a message to Trump confederates facing legal trouble.

.. D’Souza was convicted of one of the same crimes, a campaign finance violation, that Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen is now being investigated for.

  • .. the study estimating that around 4,600 people died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria
  • outrage over migrant children ripped from their parents’ arms at the border;
  • and an incipient trade war with our allies.

.. D’Souza, who made his name in the 1990s fighting campus political correctness, once had a reputation as a middlebrow conservative provocateur, but he’s really more gutter-dwelling troll.

.. In the Trump era, he’s become even worse. He mocked survivors of the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting who cried after the Florida Legislature voted down an assault weapons ban, tweeting, “Worst news since their parents told them to get summer jobs.”

.. even if Trump was acting out of instinct rather than calculation, he has an intuitive ability to speak to his supporters’ dark impulses,

and an insatiable need to smash boundaries that constrained his predecessors.

.. Fascism, Ilyin wrote approvingly, is “a redemptive excess of patriotic arbitrariness.” Trump has almost certainly never read this line, but he understands it.

The Conspiracy Theory That Says Trump Is a Genius

The theory is fascinating as an artifact of our current political derangement, but more than that, it’s profoundly revealing about the lengths to which some Trump supporters will go to convince themselves that his presidency is going well.

..  In the QAnon reality, Trump only pretended to collude with Russia in order to create a pretext for the hiring of Robert Mueller, the special counsel, who is actually working with Trump to take down an inconceivably evil and powerful network of coup-plotters and child sex traffickers that includes Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and George Soros.

.. “QAnon points out that this is the beginning of the end for the Clintons,” said Jerome Corsi — a prominent proponent of the lie that Obama was born in Kenya

.. the world would be forced to contend with “films of innocent children pleading for their lives while people are butchering them.” Once that happens, presumably, Trump will be revealed as a master of 12-dimensional chess who successfully distracted smirking elites with his buffoonery while he was quietly saving the world.

.. The creativity poured into QAnon is striking; it’s like something between a sprawling work of crowdsourced postmodern fiction and an immersive role-playing game.

.. But for many people, QAnon is very real. Barr has tried to make contact with Q on Twitter. InfoWars, the website run by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones — who has a close relationship with Trump confidant Roger Stone — has consistently promoted it.

.. Cheryl Sullenger, senior vice president of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, posted an article on the group’s website about an “intel drop” from Q revealing a White House plan to end Planned Parenthood. Sean Hannity retweeted a post with the #QAnon hashtag.

.. Some elements of the QAnon conspiracy theory — secret elites, kidnapped children — are classic, even archetypical. “In all Western culture, you can argue that all conspiracy theories, no matter how diverse, come from the idea of the Jews abducting children,”

.. Stories about globalists stealing children for sex aren’t that far removed from stories about Jews stealing children to use their blood making matzo.

.. One twist, however, makes QAnon unusual. Conspiracy theories are usually about evil cabals manipulating world events. QAnon, by contrast, is a conspiracy theory in which the good guys — in this case, Trump and his allies — are in charge.

.. It’s a dream of power rather than a bitter alibi for victimhood. It seems designed to cope with the cognitive dissonance caused by the gap between Trump as his faithful followers like to imagine him, and Trump as he is.

.. legislation many on the right deplored, was shortsighted. In releasing funds to the military, it said, the bill would set off a climactic series of events: “Swamp drain begins, military seizes TRILLIONS in cabal assets, returning them to the people.”
.. An inspector general report would then reveal the establishment’s unspeakable crimes, after which “the strings will be cut from the propaganda machine and people will stop falling for the garbage MSM,
.. You don’t create a wild fantasy about your leader being a covert genius unless you understand that to most people, he looks like something quite different. You don’t need an occult story about how your side is secretly winning if it’s actually winning.
.. Their desperate conviction that they will be proven right about Trump betrays a secret fear that they will be proven wrong.

Under Trump, a Strong Economy but Murky Policy Outlook

Researchers find uncertainty about economic policy is slightly higher now than during Obama’s entire tenure

During Barack Obama’s presidency, uncertainty about U.S. economic policy was much higher than it had been during the previous 25 years, according to calculations by a trio of academic economists.

You would think uncertainty would be low now, with economic expansion advanced and secure, the global economy on a stable footing, and a president in the White House focused on helping business by cutting regulation.

But it isn’t. The researchers find economic policy uncertainty is slightly higher under President Donald Trump than it was during an Obama era marked by deep recession, auto bailouts, unconventional Federal Reserve interventions into the financial system and routine brinkmanship between Democrats and Republicans on fiscal policy.

.. “Obama was president in a time when you needed extreme policy action,” said Mr. Bloom. “Trump has incredibly benign economic conditions. He should have very low levels of policy uncertainty.”

It is hard to say exactly why uncertainty is high now. Mr. Bloom said it is likely partly because of big policy changes happening in Washington—such as an aggressive new stance on trade—and partly because of the decision-making process, which he described as chaotic.

.. “It has been a gut punch to tech investors,” Daniel Ives, chief strategy officer at GBH Insights, an investment research firm, said of the Amazon and Facebook developments. “These stocks and their multiples were not factoring in increased regulation.”

.. Complicating matters, it is hard to see a comprehensive policy framework behind Mr. Trump’s interventions into the economy, making it hard to predict what might come next.

.. Some analysts have described the nation’s evolving trade approach as mercantilism, a government effort to prop up exports and restrain imports in pursuit of trade and financial surpluses. But Qualcomm, AT&T and Amazon aren’t about that. Nor is it quite industrial policy, which is government selection of certain industries over others, as Japan practiced in the 1980s and 1990s.

.. “He’s picking winners and losers,” said Matthew Slaughter, dean of Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, who also served as an economist at the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush. “But it is not obvious what the unifying strategy would be and it is not obvious what the definition of winners and losers are in these cases.”

.. “The regulatory machinery is not likely to be put into motion because the president has a grudge against Amazon,” he said.

His advice to Wall Street: “Don’t fear the Tweeter.”