The Democrats’ Best Response to Republican Power Grabs

In Michigan and Wisconsin, lame duck Republican-majority legislatures are enacting laws to limit the powers of incoming Democratic governors. Two years ago in North Carolina, the same happened. These moves are particularly striking examples of recent aggressive Republican procedural hardball. Whatever the right rules are for the separation of powers, they should apply to both parties and not be changed opportunistically.

.. Should they go tit-for-tat and escalate procedural shenanigans, rules-stretching and rules-breaking? Or should they strive, leading by good example, to maintain a system of norms that have provided political stability in the hopes that a more moderate, reasonable Republican Party will re-emerge?

.. Retaliating in kind could aggravate already deep polarization and wreck what’s left of our political norms. Restraint, on the other hand, would establish new norms that establish electoral disadvantages for Democrats and embolden Republicans.

.. There is a better option, and it also happens to be the best option. Democrats can use the Republican hardball against them by weaving together the Michigan, Wisconsin and North Carolina cases into a larger story to take to voters in 2020: the indictment of Republican attacks on democracy accompanied by an aggressive reform agenda for strengthening constitutional norms and democratic procedures.

.. But a very clear narrative or popular revulsion — or both — can change that. Examples are found in the Progressive Era around the turn of the 20th century and again in the immediate aftermath of Watergate, when procedural reform gained traction, for better or for worse, and both term limits and campaign finance reform had moments of widespread popular enthusiasm. There’s good reason to think that the next two years offer the opportunity to create such a corruption narrative and to take advantage of what’s likely to be growing revulsion.

.. President Trump’s administration has made this job easier: The midterm election results showed that its scandals and disgrace have already focused voters’ attention. That’s not the time for retaliation and escalation. It’s the time offer prescriptions for rebuilding the rules that accompany a diagnosis that helps voters make sense of how badly wrong things have gone. Democrats can try to punish Republicans at the ballot box by trying to strengthen rather than weaken democratic norms.

The obvious place to begin is with the White House itself. Proposals to

  • require presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns,
  • give teeth to the Emoluments Clause,
  • strengthen anti-nepotism rules that should keep unqualified family members out of sensitive offices,
  • extend conflict-of-interest rules to include the president, and
  • turn blind trust norms into binding rules

won’t be hard to understand under Mr. Trump. They will reinforce voters’ distrust of the president while also offering ways to prevent his abuses from becoming standard practice.

.. Republican procedural abuses at the state level precede the Trump administration, but they can fairly be connected to it. Most important is disenfranchisement. Democrats should emphasize the sustained nationwide Republican effort to limit access to the ballot and offer proposals to

  • restore the Voting Rights Act,
  • end felon disenfranchisement,
  • undo restrictive voter identification rules,
  • ease registration,
  • protect early voting and
  • ensure that voting places are more widely and evenly distributed.

Not only has Mr. Trump been on the wrong side of those issues, encouraging state crackdowns on imagined millions of noncitizen voters; but voting restrictions in narrowly won Midwestern states got him closer to the White House in the first place.

.. Other proposals, from statehood for the District of Columbia to gerrymandering reform, then make sense as part of the same effort to strengthen representation and fair democratic practice.

.. This is also the best approach for Democrats in the short term because they’re not in a strong position to retaliate even if an angry activist base wants them to. Despite some losses last month, Republicans remain in control of more governor’s seats and more state legislatures. More important, making things worse right now really is the wrong thing to do. If Democrats follow a course of unrestrained but legal tactics, we could find ourselves embroiled in even more severe dysfunction and a constitutional crisis. Tit for tat is sometimes necessary to enforce norms, but escalation in an already seriously polarized environment is dangerous.

.. If Democrats can offer a unifying indictment tying Republican attacks on democratic norms to Trump administration abuses, along with a coherent package of serious proposals to restore procedural fairness, voters will have a way of making sense of new examples of Republican sharp dealing.

.. Proposals to shorten lame duck legislative sessions and to constrain their authority, for example, would reinforce the idea that Republicans have been the party of procedural abuses and unfairness while still setting forth a good neutral rule.

.. This is the alternative to doing nothing or making things worse: seek to punish Republicans in 2020 by offering a vision of how to make things better.

Stephen Miller’s Biggest Gamble Yet

With less than a week to go before the midterm elections, President Donald Trump is warning darkly of an imminent immigrant “invasion,” deploying thousands of troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, releasing a racist ad on Twitter, and threatening to issue an executive order aimed at ending birthright citizenship.

The president has, in pundit-speak, found his “closing argument” for the 2018 campaign season.

.. “The future of the Republican Party should be tapping into … the feeling of belonging and meaning and pride that comes with being part of this whole ‘America First’ movement,” he told me. “There’s something really beautiful about people from all different walks of life … who are bound together by this big idea about American identity, and American unity, and American interests.”
.. Continuing in concern-troll mode, Miller said, “I think one of the big challenges facing modern liberalism is that there’s not a great emotional appeal to an international identity, like a citizen-of-the-world identity.
.. “Look, the current nation-state model is the product of thousands of years of political, social, and cultural evolution,” Miller said. “I mean, it was only recently, in like the last few decades, that people have tried to create an organizing principle larger than the nation-state.” The desire to root for your own native country is “intrinsic” to human nature, he told me. “You see that flag, you sing the national anthem, or you hear your team wins the gold medal … it creates a kind of pride in you that is really hard to translate.”
.. “Find today your most liberal friend, and ask them this question: Who has more of a right to a job in America—a U.S. citizen, or an illegal immigrant? And if they don’t say U.S. citizen like that”—Miller snapped his fingers—“then that means on some philosophical level they find the idea of America First objectionable.”
..  “But the idea of having official membership in the nation-state, and therefore that state has an obligation to protect you”—that was the big idea he believed voters would keep coming back for. Voters feel that connection at a visceral level, Miller suggested, and in the end they would always side with a president offering that appeal.

President Trump seems to be saying more and more things that aren’t true

Since Saturday, Trump has tweeted false or misleading information at least seven times on the topic of immigration and at least six times on a Justice Department inspector general report into the FBI’s handling of its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server. That’s more than a dozen obfuscations on just two central topics — a figure that does not include falsehoods on other issues, whether in tweets or public remarks.

.. in June, Trump has been tweeting at the fastest rate of his presidency so far, an average of 11.3 messages per day. 

.. The president often seeks to paint a self-serving and self-affirming alternate reality for himself and his supporters. Disparaging the “fake news” media, Trump offers his own filter through which to view the world — offering a competing reality on issues including relationships forged (or broken) at the Group of Seven summit in Canada, the success of the Singapore summit with the North Koreans, and his administration’s  “zero tolerance” policy on illegal immigration.

..  “As far as I can tell, the best way to understand anything he says is what will best serve his interests in the moment. It’s irrespective to any version of the truth.”

.. Trump had made 3,251 false or misleading claims in 497 days — an average of 6.5 such claims per day of his presidency.

.. Trump’s use of repetition is a particularly effective technique for convincing his supporters of the veracity of his false claims, in part because most people have a “truth bias,” or an initial inclination to accept what others say as true.

.. “When liars repeat the same lie over and over again, they can get even more of an advantage, at least among those who want to believe them or are not all that motivated either way,”

.. “So when people hear the same lies over and over again — especially when they want to believe those lies — a kind of new reality can be created. What they’ve heard starts to seem like it’s just obvious, and not something that needs to be questioned.”

.. While Congress could pass a legislative fix, Republicans control both the House and the Senate — making it disingenuous at best to finger the opposing party, as the president has repeatedly done.

.. Trump again falsely painted the humanitarian crisis as a binary choice. “We can either release all illegal immigrant families and minors who show up at the border from Central America, or we can arrest the adults for the federal crime of illegal entry,” he said. “Those are the only two options.”

.. twice in the past four days has singled out Germany as facing an increase in crime. “Crime in Germany is up 10% plus (officials do not want to report these crimes) since migrants were accepted,” Trump wrote. “Others countries are even worse. Be smart America!”

.. In fact, the opposite is true. Reported crime in Germany was actually down by 10 percent last year and, according to German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, the country’s reported crime rate last year was actually at its lowest point in three decades.

.. The president has also falsely claimed that the inspector general report “exonerated” him from Mueller’s probe, when the report did not delve into the Russia investigation.

.. On a conference call Tuesday morning, for instance, a senior Health and Human Services official said the new policy was focused on deterrence and was working — contradicting the public comments of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who has publicly said that family separation is not a policy, is not new and is not about deterrence.

.. the past week may mark an “inflection point” in how both the media and the public treat Trump’s mistruths.

.. “The lies have been so bald and discernibly false, I think people have felt license to challenge him and use the word ‘lie’ more freely than they have in the past,”

Alabama, Despite History of Unruly Politics, Has ‘Never Seen Anything Like This’

Mr. Moore has gone about creating a real-life political science experiment, testing whether last year’s presidential campaign was an anomaly or whether voters remain just as willing to shrug off truth-stretching, multiple charges of sexual misconduct and incendiary speech.

.. told an African-American attendee at one of his events that America was last great when families were intact during the slavery era.

.. While Mr. Jones has not said anything nearly as incendiary as Mr. Moore has, he has attempted some political jujitsu amid the campaign’s racial politics, sending out a mailer featuring an African-American that read: “Think if a black man went after high school girls anyone would try to make him a senator?”

.. “I see parallels with one,” he said. “George Wallace.”

.. Wallace, the fiery segregationist governor, comes up often here these days. He was by turns an avid boxer, a circuit judge with lofty ambitions, a state leader who blatantly flouted federal authority, a symbol of defiance to the direction of the national culture, a hero to many rural and small-town whites and a politician who ran national campaigns on a promise to “send them a message” — all descriptions that perfectly fit Mr. Moore.

.. The elder Folsom elevated an Alabama tradition of tub-thumping economic populism in a state dominated for much of its history by a coterie of wealthy planters and industrialists, known as the Big Mules. While Folsom railed against the elite-owned “lyin’ newspapers,” much like Mr. Moore and right-wing populists today, he championed women and blacks along with poor whites.

The George Wallace We Forgot

Mr. Lewis charged Mr. McCain and Sarah Palin with “sowing the seeds of hatred and division” in their fervently red-meat rallies, not unlike “a governor of the State of Alabama named George Wallace” whose race-bating rhetoric

.. Mr. Lewis’s authority to chastise Mr. McCain comes not from his Bloody Sunday stand on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., in 1965, but rather from his subsequent record on the hustings. His mettle was tested not only in Selma but also in three tough campaigns, characterized by tactics of personal destruction.

.. Peaceful marchers found themselves shadowed by a volunteer bodyguard of shotgun-wielding black militants, and a group known as the Atlanta Separatists was demanding that all whites be expelled from the civil rights leadership.

.. Things came to a head at SNCC’s convention in May that year, when late-night, back-room maneuvering elevated Stokely Carmichael to the chairmanship, ousting Mr. Lewis. Whites were purged from the organization, and its longtime white supporters were vilified. Carmichael’s successor, H. Rap Brown, changed the group’s name to Student National Coordinating Committee and directly advocated violence.

.. In 1982, Mr. Lewis, along with other newly elected black Atlanta city councilmen, faced sound trucks rolling through their neighborhoods accusing them of race treason for not supporting a major road project favored by Mayor Andrew Young. Mr. Lewis stood his ground.

..In his first bid for Congress, in 1986 ..  .. He fought his way into office by outworking his opponent and — eloquently enough — outdebating him. He brought to Congress not only a visceral understanding of what it’s like to be clubbed into unconsciousness, but also a deep familiarity with the damage inflicted by take-no-prisoners political campaigning.

.. As a circuit court judge in the 1950s, Wallace was respectful toward blacks, and as a legislator from 1947 to 1953, he was a moderate. In 1948, when Strom Thurmond led the Southern delegations out of the Democratic convention to protest the party’s pioneer civil rights plank, Wallace stayed in his seat. Though no fan of the plank, he was yet more Democrat than demagogue, and was instrumental in rallying the other Southern alternate delegates to save the convention’s quorum, and pass its platform.

.. He might have carried a tolerant message into the Alabama governor’s mansion in 1958, but he lost the race after spurning the support of the Ku Klux Klan (which then backed his primary opponent, John Patterson)

.. Sadly for Wallace’s state, his region, his nation and himself, he did not respond as John Lewis did after his defeat by Carmichael. Mr. Lewis, whenever confronted with calls to divisiveness, chose to redouble his commitment to reason and tolerance. After his loss to Mr. Patterson, Wallace is said to have turned to an aide and declared, “I was out-niggered … and I’ll never be out-niggered again.

.. In the final debate of this presidential campaign, faced with John McCain’s demand that he repudiate Mr. Lewis’s analogy, Barack Obama said he didn’t think his opponent was another George Wallace, and that sounds reasonable if you assume Mr. Lewis was referring to Wallace the vile racist, not the more tragic Wallace, the one-time straight campaigner who bartered conviction for expedience when he thought a raw appeal to division could gain him crucial votes.

.. Mr. Lewis might be deemed generous in wishing on no other member of his profession the harrowed look I witnessed in George Wallace’s eyes as he struggled up off the floor in Boston and beheld what a hell he’d wrought.

 

Binyamin Netanyahu is soft on anti-Semitism when it suits him

The Jewish state chooses its battles carefully

ISRAEL has long seen itself as the protector of Jews everywhere and a bulwark against global anti-Semitism. It has brought prominent Nazis such as Adolf Eichmann to justice and it rescued Ethiopian Jews threatened by war and famine in the 1980s and 90s. Just last week it denounced a crass notice in a Swiss hotel telling “Jewish guests” to shower before entering the pool. So Israel’s government could reasonably have been expected to condemn the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, which featured neo-Nazis chanting “Jews will not replace us”, and to criticise the mealy-mouthed response by Donald Trump, whose presidency has energised the white-supremacist movement in America.

Instead, the anti-Semitic rally, which descended into violence, and Mr Trump’s tepid early comments were met with silence by the government in Jerusalem. Only after Mr Trump’s carefully scripted denunciation of “the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups” did Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, issue a tweet saying, “Outraged by expressions of anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism and racism. Everyone should oppose this hatred.” Mr Netanyahu made no reference to where or when these expressions were made, or to who was making them. Nor did he react to Mr Trump’s later comments, which pinned blame for the violence on both the neo-Nazis and the people who turned out to oppose them.

 .. his reluctance to speak out against anti-Semitism in America is about more than that. Mr Netanyahu and his supporters seem to believe that the people opposing the white supremacists are at least as dangerous to Israel as the neo-Nazis. Take Mr Netanyahu’s son, Yair, who condemned the neo-Nazis on Facebook, but added that the counter-protesters of Antifa and Black Lives Matter “hate my country (and America too in my view) just as much” and “are getting stronger and stronger and becoming super dominant in American universities and public life”.
.. Even Rabbi Marvin Hier, who recited a prayer at Mr Trump’s inauguration, blasted him last week. “No one could ever compare neo-Nazis, the Klan and white supremacists to demonstrators that are demonstrating against them. To equate the two sides is preposterous,” said Rabbi Hier.
.. Mr Netanyahu and his Likud party have won three elections, in part by accusing the left and the media of undermining Israel’s security. This, along with the prime minister’s co-operation with Orthodox Jewish parties, has alienated those American Jews who identify with the opposition in Israel. To some it looks as if Mr Netanyahu only sees anti-Semitism in those who oppose his policies.
.. Consider his treatment of Viktor Orban, Hungary’s populist prime minister. Mr Orban’s government has been accused of running an anti-Semitic poster campaign against George Soros, a Jewish American financier with Hungarian roots who funds liberal causes, and organisations that are critical of Mr Orban.
..  Mr Orban, on the other hand, is one of Mr Netanyahu’s closest allies in Europe.

Will Anthony Scaramucci Hunt Down West Wing Globalists Who Leak to Joe Scarborough?

After Scarborough recently accused Trump of blackmailing him regarding a story in the National Enquirer about his relationship with now-fiancee Mika Brzezinski, Scarborough refused to release the text messages with Jared Kushner that he claimed to have.

 “I’m told by a person close to Scarborough he doesn’t want to show these text messages because he views these people as sources—anonymous sources—and he doesn’t want to burn them,” CNN’s Brian Stelter revealed at the time. “We’ll see if that changes. I think it will help to have some evidence.”

.. As Breitbart News noted at the time, “it has been established that Scarborough communicates with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. Scarborough has also effusively praised H.R. McMaster, Trump’s establishment Republican national security adviser, and Gary Cohn, Trump’s top economic adviser who was a former Goldman Sachs executive.” Cohn also reportedly donated to Hillary Clinton and is a registered Democrat. Scarborough has also backed Dina Powell, and Brzezinski told the New York Times she was responsible for Powell being in the White House.

.. Scaramucci trashed White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to Lizza but strangely did not have anything bad to say about his friend Powell and Messrs. Kushner, Cohn, and McMaster.

If Scaramucci is concerned about damaging leaks coming from the West Wing, he could start by rooting out the White House’s Morning Joe leakers.

 

Comments

No, I don’t realize that. But even if that were so, Trump is smart enough to know that we, the people, are firmly in the Bannon wing of the White House.

 

.. I think he knows, but is fighting a two front battle within his own administration, between his globalist friends and family, and the populists he absolutely needs if he expects to get reelected. We’ll see how it all turns out, won’t we.

 

.. Trump brought Mooch in to get rid of Bannon & Priebus. You would literally have to be living in fantasy land not to see that. If Trump still wanted either of those men in The White House, he would never have allowed Mooch to go after them like he did.

The interview over the phone with the New Yorker was “on record”. The reporter asked Mooch repeatedly if he wanted to stay “on record” he said he did.

Do you honestly think this guy just waltzed into The White House & completely of his own accord, with no backing from Trump, decided to say these things? If he didn’t have Trump’s complete approval…

1/ He would never have dared to do it.
2/ Trump would have fired him immediately.

Bannon & Priebus are definitely on their way out the door. Trump is done with both of them… he got what he wanted, especially from Bannon & now he wants him out the door.

 

.. I never said he didn’t start winning then. But, if he still had any loyalty or any long term plans for Bannon then why did he allow this to happen?

Seriously, most people by now must realise Trump is not the sharpest tool in the box or the bravest, but he is devious & cunning on a gutter level & he ALWAYS gets somebody else to do the dirty stuff for him… Enter Mr Mooch…. Exit Bannon & Priebus.

Trumps is in The White House now. Next step on his agenda…. move his administration to a more centralist position, therefore allowing him to then appeal to a more wealthy, global audience of voters & he’s set for another 4 year term without ever having to bother pleasing the people who originally voted him in.

 

.. Jared Kushner has been panhandling world leaders trying to get them to bail out 666 5th Ave. Ivanka has tried to profit off of her daddy’s job too.

I don’t care if Ivanka and Jared are there to be Trumps caregiver or sitter or whatever. But they are both card carrying Davos liberal globalists, and therefore shouldn’t be given policy positions.

 

.. Is Scaramucci even a republican? Why is a populist White House admin stocked with liberal NY globalists? No one has ever been able to answer that question satisfactorily.

 

.. The Mooch is an opportunist. Like Trump he has a singular ideology. Himself. He is neither populist nor democrat nor republican or conservative. He is for one thing..himself.

 

.. Well we disagree on currency but Trump already told us why he likes Goldman guys because they are rich. And not sure what any of this has to do with his comms director but ok.