A couple hundred yards off Mussel Rock, the guano-caked landmark just south of the Daly City cliffs where the paragliders take off, the waters were roiling.
One, two, ... four, five ... maybe as many as seven humpbacks were romping in the waves, exhaling in great geysers of whale breath. The dark, curved backs rose out the surf and then disappeared into the depths. Gulls circled overhead, waiting for them to return for air.
Every now and then, three would breach together, leaping out of the water together like outfielders converging for a full-body bump.
Those whale sightings occurred a couple of weeks ago, but since early May unprecedented numbers of the marine mammals, mostly humpbacks but some grays and even a few blues — the largest creatures on earth, have been gathering off the shores of San Francisco, Marin County and San Mateo County.
Dr. Jaime Jahncke, California Current group director for Point Blue Conservation Science, told Golden Gate Parks Conservancy, that he saw 30 to 80 whales every day during an eight-day research expedition in May.
"This is the first time we've had such great numbers [of whale sightings] this early in the year," Jahncke said. "Generally, the peak numbers have appeared in July. Historically, large numbers are expected in the fall and not in the summer."
So why are so many whales congregating off the coast so early this year?
Humpbacks love anchovies, and Dr. Sara Allen, who heads the Ocean and Coastal Resources Program for the Pacific West Region of the National Park Service, thinks an abundance of the silvery fish, along with other prey, is attracting them.
"You've got a tremendous narrow passage into the estuary so everything is compressed; physically it concentrates the prey [along the tidal zones]," Allen told Golden Gate Parks Conservancy.
So basically, the Golden Gate Strait and surrounding waters have become one giant cetacean seafood buffet.
La Nina conditions may be stirring up nutrients that fish can't resist. The small fry in turn are devoured by humpbacks, which unlike blue whales supplement their krill diet with the likes of anchovies, sardines and other schooling fish. The closer humpbacks are too the coast, the more likely they are feeding on fish.
But there could be other explanations. The whales' presence could also indicate an inadequate krill population, forcing the humpbacks to look elsewhere for food, Jahncke said.
Or a scarcity of krill and fish at the whales' breeding grounds off Mexico and Central America could have induced the creatures to head north earlier than usual, he said.
In sharp contrast to the approval of Clinton's economic package last summer, which was passed without the vote of a single House Republican, Minority Whip Newt Gingrich (Ga.), usually a confrontational leader, rallied House Republicans to support NAFTA. "This is a vote for history, larger than politics, larger than reelection, larger than personal ego," said Gingrich, who is to be his party's House leader in 1995.
INTERVIEWER: Philosophically speaking, what was the wellspring of your ideas? Were you influenced by people like Friedman or Hayek?
NEWT GINGRICH: No, I think I was influenced more by Adam Smith and by the founding fathers -- Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Hamilton, Washington -- and to some extent by the Whig historians of the 19th century. I was very much influenced by Goldwater's "Conscience of a Conservative" and by Reagan's speeches starting with "A Time for Choosing" in October of 1964. I actually came to Hayek backwards through Reagan, rather than the other way. In my mind, at least, what you had was a clear overdevelopment of the state in the 20th century as a vehicle for humans to organize their lives, so you needed a party of freedom that was committed, almost in the British 19th-century liberal tradition, to argue for personal choice for markets, for private property rights, and for taking Bismarck's insurance state and transferring it into a personal insurance system, as we're trying to do now on social security.
What I saw was a deviation from the long 18th- and 19th-century rise of freedom in the Whig tradition with four different patterns: the regulatory state in response to industrialization, where Theodore Roosevelt is probably the leading American developer of it; Fabian socialism with its British class warfare style, which never fit America, but the underlying anti-wealth, anti-achievement patterns did, [such as the] distrust of private property and private activity; third was Bismarck's insurance state, which gradually spread across the industrial world and which is essentially right if you can organize it so that people are insuring themselves rather than as a paternalistic bureaucracy trying to take care of you; and then finally, with Ludendorff's war economy in Germany in 1917, you really get what shapes John Kenneth Galbraith and a whole generation of younger economists, including Keynes, and that is the power of the state for a very short time to mobilize power and wealth remarkably. What they didn't realize was that while you can do that for about the length of the second world war, which in the American experience is not quite four years, if you do it much longer than that, it creates its own internal distortions. [This] is exactly what Hayek writes about it and what Smith understood: that a combination of politics, bureaucracy, [and] the distortion of power in the long run is radically less effective than the market as a place to allocate resources. So you had, from 1917, compounded by Leninism and then by Maoism, this affection of the left for the state as an organizing system, which when I was a young person in the late '50s was really close to its peak. There was a sense [that] this is the intelligent, sophisticated future, and those of you who favor free markets and private property represent this obsolete past. What all of us who believed in freedom felt was that in the long run centralized commanding control systems decay and collapse, and that's a historic pattern. You have to concede at least that Reagan was far more right than most of his left-wing critics in his understanding of the Soviet empire and the fact that in the end it just couldn't keep functioning.
INTERVIEWER: Do you make a connection between free markets and personal freedom, personal liberty?
NEWT GINGRICH: Absolutely. In fact, so did all the founding fathers. That goes back to the English Civil War, which is really the wellspring from which the American model of freedom emerges. It is the English Civil War and the effort of people to protect themselves from judges who are instruments of the state, not instruments of justice, to protect themselves from troops in their houses, to protect themselves from the king's right to kill you. And it's out of that English Civil War that you begin to have the rise of what we now call freedom, [the] first truly mass democratic societies in history, even more than the Roman republic. I think it's inextricable if you read Locke, if you read Jefferson, if you read the founding fathers, it is inextricable that if you don't have the right to private property, if you don't have the right to trial by jury, if you don't have the right to vote and fire the people to whom you loan power, you don't have freedom. The idea of a socialist free society in the long run, as Hayek points out, is an impossibility.
INTERVIEWER: How did you deal with conservatives in your party who opposed NAFTA?
NEWT GINGRICH: It wasn't necessarily conservatives. It was more protectionist versus free market. Many of the most conservative members of our party are very free market and were Reaganites, and so they were for it. Our big problem was to try to narrow down the number of folks who [were against it] either because they had textiles or they had something [like] tomatoes in Florida. There were a number of very specific problems, and what we tried to do was either find [a] solution or sweet-talk them. You didn't always win, but we were able to with tremendous help from the business community, an effort that was led by Ken Cole at Allied Signal, there was just a brilliant grass-roots effort and really the most effective I'd worked with, frankly, in Congress. We were able to get across the notion that in the long run you were going to have lower prices in the U.S., more jobs in the U.S., and that if you're going to have overseas production, it's better to have it overseas in Mexico than have it overseas in Thailand or China.
NEWT GINGRICH: Because it increases the wealth of your nearest neighbor, and it's very much to America's interest to have a healthy, productive Mexico with a very high standard of living. Any time you have 100 million people next door, if you have the level of income differential we now have, you have to expect ultimately for a quarter of Mexico to move north. On the other hand, if they are earning a very good living, if they're your customers, if they're enjoying stability and freedom and safety, then you have a natural migration both ways -- Americans who may retire to Mexico or may go to work in Mexico, or who may teach in Mexico; Mexicans who come here. But it's a much healthier relationship, just like living in a neighborhood where you'd like to have neighbors who are able to come over for dinner and you're able to go to their place for dinner and the gap isn't so wide that there's any hostility.
INTERVIEWER: Does globalization make that kind of protectionist impulse irrelevant?
NEWT GINGRICH: No, it's not irrelevant. You always have the right to rule in your country, and there are a number of cases in history where countries have been ruined by their political leaders. It's amazing what Perón, for example, did to Argentina -- lowered its standard of living dramatically compared to most of the other countries around. Look at Russia: Bad economic policy in Russia [was made] at the expense of every other Russian for a decade. So I wouldn't say that it's inevitable, but I do think the argument for a worldwide market and the argument for the ability to buy and sell worldwide is that more people will be wealthier, the environment will be safer and healthier, and the health of the human race will be better. There is no sound intellectual argument against that.
I could be wrong, but it sounds as though Newt had a pretty well thought-out philosophy about all this. But now he wants to be Trump's VP. So he's a born-again protectionist and a populist.
This thing just gets stranger by the minute. To catch you up, Josh Marshall has been reporting that the Trump campaign has been soliciting donations from foreign politicians all over the world. This is illegal, needless to say. But the assumption is that it's just a standard Trump campaign screw up born of the fact that they are only now trying to get donations and they don't know how to do it properly. Marshall speculated that they bought an email list and didn't cull it properly for foreign email addresses. Making that kind of mistake isn't really excusable but for some reason Trump is allowed to flagrantly violate laws all over the place and everyone just shrugs their shoulders and say, "that's the Donald!"
Marshall has an update that makes it even weirder than it already was. The fundraising letters are still going out:
They weren't actually just from Trump. One was from the Trump campaign. The other was from a pro-Trump Super Pac called Crippled America PAC.
Now, normally (i.e., completely separate from anything to do with Trump) it would be entirely unremarkable that someone was getting fundraising emails both from a campaign and also Super PACs supporting the campaign. They're likely both buying lists from the same vendor or even different vendors of likely Trump voters.
But remember, Tim is a foreign citizen and part of the government in another country. We've already speculated about the various ways all these foreign legislators could have ended up on Trump's list. The more we've looked into it, it seems increasingly implausible that he got this list from a list vendor. Not impossible just not likely at all. It now seems more probable that the Trump Organization simply had these emails in some business related database and decided to dump them into the email hopper for the fundraising blitz or just found some site that had a zip file of foreign government officials and used that.
As I've said, all of these possibilities are outlandish and ridiculous. But we know for a fact that he has and continues to spam members of Parliament in the UK, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland and Iceland and possibly others. So one of these completely preposterous set of facts has to be true.
And here's where we get to coordination, which is a big no no.
Given what I've said above, the existence of this list almost has to originate in Trump Derpland. A virtual certainty. So how did the same list end up in the hands of a Trump SuperPac? I looked up Crippled America PAC and as of their last filing just a couple weeks ago, they're total budget was $40. No m or b after that $ sign, forty bucks, the price of a fancy dinner. So obviously CAP was just stood up and actually started operating just now. And now they're showing up in Tim's inbox.
Again, normally you'd just say, they're both buying the list from the same vendor. I'm also pretty sure that a good campaign finance lawyer could find a way to get lists from a campaign to its supportive SuperPacs without running afoul of the rules against campaigns coordinating with SuperPacs. But let's be honest, does any of this look like its done by anyone who has the slightest clue about fundraising or campaign finance law? Of course, not.
The letters are from Trump's son. Maybe someone could track him down and ask him about it?
If you're out of work and need some easy money it's not too late to get in on the Clinton murder conspiracy snake oil tour. Take a look at this guy's scam -- he's just recycling old crap from the 80s and 90s and making big bucks. You too could do it!
[the author of "Crisis of Character" former uniformed secret service agent Gary Byrne] appeared on conspiracy monger Alex Jones’ radio program and, in so doing, “put [his] life on the line.” Jones thanked him for appearing, then said that “I hope you don’t have any car accidents or airplane accidents or anything because the Clintons are organized criminals in my view and there’s a lot of death around them.”
“I really hope you’ve got a big insurance policy taken out for your family,” he added, to which Byrne replied that he and his family “knew what we were getting into and we’ve taken our precautions and did our due diligence. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.”
Byrne outlined some of the stories he heard from unnamed sources in Arkansas about all the people the Clintons had murdered before reaching the White House. “This guy was as serious as a heart attack,” Byrne told Jones.
“He told me all these bizarre stories about all these rumors of people that have had accidents, the stuff that you were referring to before,” Byrne added. “I definitely think that if she gets elected that we’re going to see the crazy stuff we’ve seen for the last eight years is going to, unfortunately, look like a walk in the park.”
Right wingers love to give all their money to con-men so there's definitely an opportunity here. Might I suggest that the "Bill Clinton is gay" rumors have not been adequately explored? I think there might be some big bucks available in that one, especially since it tracks so perfectly with the well known fact that Hillary Clinton is a lesbian.
The culmination of Confederate General Robert E. Lee's second invasion of the northern United States, over 160,000 Union and Confederate soldiers met on the field at Gettysburg in a massive battle which changed the course of the war. General George Meade's Army of the Potomac repulsed the Confederate invasion, shattering the invincible reputation of Lee's army while inflicting higher casualties, forcing a retreat back in to Virginia, and dashing Southern hopes that European powers might provide military aid.
In his Gettysburg Address, a November 1863 speech to dedicate the Soldiers' National Cemetery, President Lincoln recast the Civil War as a second American revolution, a rebirth of freedom. While the states did reunite in 1865, the Battle of Gettysburg remained a scar on the national psyche. The battlefields of Gettysburg became a site for reflection and remembrance, where veterans built monuments to their fallen comrades and Americans came, as they still do today, to try to make sense of the human toll of the Civil War.
If you've never been to the Gettysburg memorial it's really worth seeing. Amidst incredibly beautiful Pennsylvania countryside the picture of this horror will be indelible on your memory.
I went there last year and posted some pictures. It's been nearly 150 years but it isn't entirely over yet:
A disabled woman was beaten bloody by federal agents during an airport security screening while on her way to undergo treatment for a brain tumor.
Hannah Cohen set off the metal detector at a security checkpoint at the Memphis International Airport, and she was led away for additional screening, reported WREG-TV.
“They wanted to do further scanning, (but) she was reluctant — she didn’t understand what they were about to do,” said her mother, Shirley Cohen.
Cohen said she tried to tell agents with the Transportation Security Administration that her 19-year-old daughter is partially deaf, blind in one eye, paralyzed and easily confused — but she said police kept her away from the security agents.
The confused and terrified young woman tried to run away, her mother said, and agents violently took her to the ground.
“She’s trying to get away from them, but in the next instant, one of them had her down on the ground and hit her head on the floor,” Cohen said. “There was blood everywhere.”
The young woman, who was returning home after finishing treatment for the brain tumor at St. Jude Hospital, was arrested and booked into jail.
Authorities eventually threw out the charges against Hannah Cohen, but her family has filed a lawsuit against Memphis police, airport police and the TSA.
Neither police department commented on the suit, but a spokesperson for the TSA said passengers should notify agents ahead of time if they have special needs.
“Passengers can call ahead of time to learn more about the screening process for their particular needs or medical situation,” said TSA spokesperson Sari Koshetz.
The death of common sense. The idea that a disoriented, confused 19 year old woman travelling with her mother (who was telling them that she was disabled) was a likely terrorist of some kind is ridiculous. But when it comes to security, rulz is rulz...
I wrote about his approach to civil liberties today for Salon:
Last June before Trump entered the presidential race, there was a major debate about renewal of the Patriot Act in the congress. Trump was asked about it on his favorite morning show, Fox and Friends and this is part of what he said:
I think security has to preside, you know, be pre-eminent. I'm looking at security. I think if anyone wants to listen to my phone calls it's fine. They're going to be very boring, it's going to be a very boring conversation... I just hope the government knows what they're doing a lot better than they did with the Obamacare website and the rest. You know in the old days you had a certain confidence in government, you don't have that confidence anymore.
But it's a mistake to think that Trump's authoritarian tendencies are in reaction to current events. They are his nature. Buzzfeed reported yesterday that staff members at Trump's upscale Florida resort, Mar-a-lago, said that Donald Trump had a personal "switchboard" in his lodgings which allowed him to eavesdrop on the staff and guests telephone calls. His campaign denies it but there are several people who confirm that he routinely listens in on phone calls. Others admit that he had the apparatus but only used it for convenience sake so he didn't have to go through the main switchboard to call his friends who were staying at the resort.
Needless to say, that explanation is absurd. One might chalk that up to either another of The Donald's quirks or some disgruntled staff saying things to get back at him. But it's not the first time we've heard that he has a penchant for spying. Recall this passing comment from the New York Times in an article about the disarray in the Trump campaign at the end of May:
A sense of paranoia is growing among his campaign staff members, including some who have told associates they believe that their Trump Tower offices in New York may be bugged, according to three people briefed on the conversations.
At the time both then campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and senior advisor Paul Manafort were asked about this by separate news organizations and both responded less than definitively. Manafort vamped to ABC News, "I don't know who said that. Certainly there are people probably would like to, because there's a lot of good work going on there and we've been able to develop a campaign that is cohesive, that's working together, and in a record time thanks to a great candidate who has got a vision and connected to the American people, put the campaign in a position to win the presidency." And Lewandowski danced on the head of a pin for Chris Wallace of Fox:
“I think that’s a lot of speculation. I don’t think that’s the case at all — I think we’re very happy with the way that our offices are set up.”
The New York Times report about campaign staffers being paranoid doesn't say specifically why they would think this, but the piece implies that they believed Trump (or someone) knew things he could only have known about by eavesdropping. Whether he spied on his guests at the resort is unknown but people who stay there in the future should probably exclusively use their cell phones just in case. And staff should hold their private discussions in the garage like Bob Woodward and Deep Throat.
This little revelation about Trump's nosy parker proclivities would not necessarily raise alarms since employers generally do have the right to spy on their employees, although the good ones don't do it. And spying on customers is part of the modern world if you consider the way companies track people' buying habits to be spying. But Trump bugging his campaign office, if true, would not be standard operating procedure. And the mere fact that his staffers suspect that he has done it is a sign of something very dark going on inside that campaign.
But this should not come as a surprise. This is a man whose mentor was notorious political henchman Roy Cohn and who seems to have gotten his political inspiration from Richard Nixon. There can be no doubt that putting the US Government's spying apparatus in his hands would lead to him using it to monitor and punish his political enemies.
And while it's doubtful that he would go as far as this with Paul Ryan or Chuck Schumer, Trump's attitude toward Edward Snowden makes it very clear to anyone who would blow the whistle on his bad behavior that it would not go well for them:
"I think Snowden is a terrible threat, I think he’s a terrible traitor, and you know what we used to do in the good old days when we were a strong country — you know what we used to do to traitors, right?” Trump said.
“Well, you killed them, Donald,” said fill-in host, Eric Bolling.
He's a big fan of summary execution for anyone he personally designates a traitor. And one could easily see a President Trump deciding, like President Nixon before him, that he needed to find all his traitors and deploy whatever government tools were at his disposal to do it. He makes it clear that his beef isn't with government power, per se. It's that this government uses its power ineffectually, which is not the same thing at all.
Trump does not recognize constitutional limitations or civil liberties. He's shown it repeatedly from national security issues like these, to domestic policing to his threats to "open up the libel laws" to stop the media from criticizing him. He said it most clearly in his infamous 1989 Central Park Five full page ad which said, "CIVIL LIBERTIES END WHEN AN ATTACK ON OUR SAFETY BEGINS!” That's not actually how it works, but if Trump knows that, he almost certainly doesn't care.
"Out of touch" is a perennial criticism of candidates from both major parties. The Brexit vote in the UK was an exercise in politicians misreading their voters. This year, however, the presence of Donald Trump and His Amazing War Chest leaves Democrats at risk of developing a false sense of security. It doesn't help that FiveThirtyEight predictions favoring Democrats just get rosier. But as I said last September, so long as the T-party controls state legislatures and the Congress, who Democrats elect as president won't much matter.
From where many of us sit, the presidential race is a distraction unless the Democratic candidate sends sends us lawyers, guns and money, and provides coattails for our state-level candidates. Talk of landslides just worries me that Democrats will stay home and our local candidates will suffer. If voters are going to come out in November for a contest between two candidates with high disapproval ratings, they will need a reason, something to vote for.
That's why op-eds like Sarah Eberspacher's in the Guardian give me pause. She cautions against the tendency on the left to write off white, male, blue collar voters like those from her rural Illinois hometown (or here on the edge of Appalachia) as racist, sexist, and uneducated:
The Democratic party – and by that, I mean the party gatekeepers with power to wield media influence, which worked out great for the Brexit vote – are writing off those hardcore racists as an overblown minority that is making more noise than they can translate into votes. But overlooking “regular Joe” moderate voters like the ones who filled my childhood could be our undoing.
My party has gotten cocky, and I fear that condescending mentality will lose us this election. Because for all of his divisive bluster, Trump has gotten one thing right time and again: small-town America is not doing great.
Where my family lives, factories are closing. Schools don’t have enough money for teachers, and all of Barack Obama’s hope and change hasn’t done much trickling down in the last eight years. And just because the moderate voters living in these areas aren’t showing up at Trump rallies or plastering your Facebook wall with tirades about Muslims doesn’t mean they’re planning to support Obama’s heir apparent come November.
That describes a lot of our voters here. Gov. Howard Dean got this. Democrats at both the state and national levels win big in the cities but too often abandon rural America. Winning there again was what the 50 state strategy was about: if you don't show up to play, you forfeit.
These voters, as we shall see, are open to an expansive Democratic economic agenda—to more benefits for child care and higher education, to tax hikes on the wealthy, to investment in infrastructure spending, and to economic policies that lead employers to boost salaries for middle- and working-class Americans, especially women. Yet they are only ready to listen when they think that Democrats understand their deeply held belief that politics has been corrupted and government has failed. Championing reform of government and the political process is the price of admission with these voters. These white working-class and downscale voters are acutely conscious of the growing role of big money in politics and of a government that works for the 1 percent, not them.
It is possible that their cynicism about government is grounded in a fundamental individualism and long-standing American skepticism about intrusive government. And it also may be rooted in a race-conscious aversion to government spending that they believe fosters dependency and idleness—the principal critique of today’s conservative Republicans. If that is the prevailing dynamic, no appeal, no matter how compelling, would bring increased support for government activism.
Yet the white working-class and downscale voters in our surveys do support major parts of a progressive, activist agenda, particularly when a Democratic candidate boldly attacks the role of money and special interests dominating government and aggressively promotes reforms to ensure that average citizens get both their say and their money’s worth.
It is why, Russell Berman wrote in May, "The white, working-class voters that embraced [Hillary Clinton's] message of resilience in 2008 have deserted her for Bernie Sanders in many primaries in 2016." But I offer this not as a knock against Hillary Clinton, but to point out an opportunity.
Forget Trump's bigotry and all the rest. He gets a lot of mileage out of talking about trade. Democrats need to pay attention, as Thomas Frank wrote in March, rural America doesn't give a damn about punditry on trade being noble and "free":
To the remaining 80 or 90% of America, trade means something very different. There’s a video going around on the internet these days that shows a room full of workers at a Carrier air conditioning plant in Indiana being told by an officer of the company that the factory is being moved to Monterrey, Mexico, and that they’re all going to lose their jobs.
As I watched it, I thought of all the arguments over trade that we’ve had in this country since the early 1990s, all the sweet words from our economists about the scientifically proven benevolence of free trade, all the ways in which our newspapers mock people who say that treaties like the North American Free Trade Agreement allow companies to move jobs to Mexico.
Well, here is a video of a company moving its jobs to Mexico, courtesy of Nafta. This is what it looks like. The Carrier executive talks in that familiar and highly professional HR language about the need to “stay competitive” and “the extremely price-sensitive marketplace”. A worker shouts “Fuck you!” at the executive. The executive asks people to please be quiet so he can “share” his “information”. His information about all of them losing their jobs.
For younger voters, the concerns are similar: their prospects are slim and too many politicians focused on the concerns of finance seem out of touch with that. As I wrote yesterday, voters want an economic system that treats them fairly. They'll come out and vote for candidates who seems authentically more interested in making that happen than in their own power. Sending that message will be key to winning down ballot this fall. Are Democrats listening?
That reminded me of this one, from last September:
Trump did look at "getting rid of" Muslims and he decided to ban them from immigrating and deport all Syrian refugees. So there's a decent chance he'll "look into" firing all the "heebejobbies" and retired retired veterans to man the borders and the airports. No word on whether it will be ok to hire heebeejeebie or heebiejobbie veterans. There are a bunch of them.
He 's just better than your average voter --- and they know it.
Don't forget when I ran in the primaries, when I was in the primaries, everyone said you can't do that in New Hampshire, you can't do that. You have to go and meet little groups, you have to see --- cause I did these big rallies, 3,4, 5k people would come. And they said, wait a minute, Trump can never make it, because that's not the way you deal with New Hampshire, you have to go into people's living rooms, have dinner, have tea, have a good time.
I think if they ever saw me sitting in their living rooms they'd lose total respect for me. They'd say, "I've got Trump in my living room, this is weird!"
The King doesn't visit his subjects in their living rooms. They would lose respect for him.
Four months after endorsing Mr. Trump, Mr. Christie remains one of the few major figures in the Republican establishment to align himself entirely with Mr. Trump’s candidacy. In public, he has defended Mr. Trump’s freewheeling and sometimes offensive pronouncements, vouching for him even after Mr. Trump attacked a federal judge for his Mexican heritage. (Mr. Christie said he knew from personal experience that Mr. Trump is not a racist.)
Mr. Christie is among those being vetted as Mr. Trump’s possible running mate, according to people briefed on the process, and Mr. Trump has said in interviews that Mr. Christie would have a prominent place in a Trump White House.
Already, Mr. Christie has begun the task of designing a government on Mr. Trump’s behalf. Tapped to lead Mr. Trump’s transition efforts, Mr. Christie has taken a role that some of his allies liken to that of a White House chief of staff, soliciting views on what a potential Trump administration should look like.
Mr. Christie has taken the transition process firmly in hand, according to people familiar with his activities, which have been kept from public view so far. He has enlisted his former top aide in Trenton, Richard H. Bagger, to help manage the transition team.
Behind the scenes, Mr. Christie has prodded his fellow governors and Republican political donors to line up behind a candidate many view with distaste. He has made only modest headway in the last few months: Mr. Trump has struggled badly with fund-raising and Mr. Christie has pleaded with donors, in personal phone calls and fund-raising events, to give him a second look.
A couple of years ago I wrote that I thought the GOP would naturally nominate Christie to go up against Hillary Clinton. He's a sexist bully who revels in going after women. I didn't see Trump coming and he out-bullied Christie to o on to win. But it makes perfect sense to me that they would team up.
If Clinton picks Warren and Trump picks Christie it would be an epic battle of the sexes. Bring it on.
This article by the right wingnut radio host Howie Carr says it all. After doing a racist war whoop in his Trump introduction he joined the candidate on his plane and reported back:
The candidate loosened his tie and offered me some advice.
“Whatever you do, don’t apologize,” he said. “You never hear me apologize, do you? That’s what killed Jimmy the Greek way back. Remember? He was doing okay ’til he said he was sorry.”
Not to worry, I wasn’t going to say I was sorry for mentioning the name of the fake Indian and then doing a few seconds of a war whoop. About an hour earlier, I had been at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, warming up a crowd of maybe 5,000 Trump supporters for Gov. Paul LePage before he introduced The Donald at a weekday rally.
I was speaking extemporaneously when I free-associated Fauxchohantas’ name, and suddenly a war whoop seemed appropriate for the occasion. Moments after I left the stage, one of Trump’s aides handed me his cellphone, with a fresh headline from Politico:
“Boston radio host at Trump event mocks Warren with war whoops.”
The Trump guy smiled. “That didn’t take long.”
Interesting that he referenced sports betting expert and TV commentor Jimmy the Greek who lost his job almost 30 years ago for saying African Americans were "bred" to be better athletes. He apologized but he refused to resign. So they fired him.
Apparently, the campaign "re-boot" doesn't include soft-pedaling the racism. Good to know.
"That’s not the measure of populism. That's nativism, or xenophobia, or worse. Or it's just cynicism....Let's just be clear: Somebody who labels 'us versus them' or engaged in rhetoric about how we’re going to look after ourselves and take it to the other guy — that’s not the definition of populism. Sorry.”
Actually it's pretty standard with right wing populism. But the rant is good nonetheless.
I wrote earlier in the week about the warm embrace of Donald Trump by 1,000 leaders of the religious right. After meeting with him and praying with him in New York, they decided that he's a sincere man who has the kind of morals and values that qualify him for the most powerful job on earth. All in all it was a very successful meet-up for Trump and portended an alliance that will help him in the fall.
Yesterday Focus on the Family's James Dobson slightly walked back his comment that Trump had been born again however:
"Only the Lord knows the condition of a person's heart. I can only tell you what I've heard. First, Trump appears to be tender to things of the Spirit. I also hear that Paula White has known Trump for years and that she personally led him to Christ. Do I know that for sure? No. Do I know the details of that alleged conversion? I can't say that I do... if anything, this man is a baby Christian who doesn't have a clue about how believers think, talk and act.
It turns out that Paula White is a "prosperity gospel" preacher who is not highly regarded by other evangelical leaders:
@saletan@jlupf Paula White is a charlatan and recognized as a heretic by every orthodox Christian, of whatever tribe.
Dobson is a cunning politician and he had his reasons for trying to make Trump appear to be on the "right path." And he is still backing Trump to the hilt because he says the very thought of Hillary in the White House "haunts" his "nights and days."
But I must admit that even I have been surprised by the fact that Christians, even leaders as cynical as this man, would stick with a man who would say what Trump said on Tuesday night. For all the talk of him "pivoting" to a more presidential style and professional campaign he went back to some of his most depraved and barbaric rhetoric at a rally in Ohio:
They said, "what do you think about waterboarding," I said 'I like it a lot and I don't think it's tough enough."
We’re living in Medieval times. We have to stop it. We have to be so strong, we have to fight so viciously and so violently, because we’re dealing with violent people, vicious people.
We have laws and the laws say you can't do this , you can't do that, well, a lot, alright? Their laws say you can do anything you want and the more vicious you are the better.
So we can’t do waterboarding but they can do chopping off heads, drowning people in steel cages. They can do whatever they want to do.
They eat dinner like us. Can you imagine them sitting around the table or wherever they’re eating their dinner, talking about the Americans don’t do waterboarding and yet we chop off heads. They probably think we’re weak, we’re stupid, we don’t know what we’re doing, we have no leadership.
You know, you have to fight fire with fire.
He didn't tell his favorite gripping tale of General Black Jack Pershing putting down a Muslim uprising by dipping bullets in pigs blood and ordering a mass execution. But he got big cheers of "USA, USA!!" nonetheless.
I have long wondered why serious Christians would support a man who openly endorses torture, war crimes and cruel and unusual punishment. It seems counter-intuitive since the most famous torture victim in world history is Jesus Christ. But a Washington Post/ABC poll from 2014 showed American evangelical Christians are more supportive of torture than those who are not religious. Sarah Posner reported:
But then certain Christian Right leaders have demonstrated a violent streak that may explain their willingness to jump on board the torture train. Take James Dobson himself who was known for many years as an expert on child rearing. His book "The Strong Willed Child" featured a chilling story of animal cruelty.
He discusses his little pet dachshund named Siggy (named for Sigmund Freud) who refused to "yield to his authority" when he returned from a business trip. This is what he did:
"I had seen this defiant mood before, and knew there was only one way to deal with it. The ONLY way to make Siggie obey is to threaten him with destruction. Nothing else works. I turned and went to my closet and got a small belt to help me "reason" with Mr. Freud."
What developed next is impossible to describe. That tiny dog and I had the most vicious fight ever staged between man and beast. I fought him up one wall and down the other, with both of us scratching and clawing and growling and swinging the belt. I am embarrassed by the memory of the entire scene. Inch by inch I moved him toward the family room and his bed. As a final desperate maneuver, Siggie backed into the corner for one last snarling stand. I eventually got him to bed, only because I outweighed him 200 to 12!"
Dobson's book sold many, many copies to social conservatives over decades. It's still in print and people are still buying it. So, perhaps it's not really that difficult to understand why so many of the people raised with Dobson's philosophy believe torture is fine and think Donald Trump will Make America Great Again. The common thread isn't religion it's authoritarianism.
Reducing human decision-making to a binary this or that choice turns humans into Flatlanders with no other dimensions to their thinking. So the rush to explain last week's Brexit vote as simple xenophobia or stupidity is rankling. (Don't get me started on the complaint that people voted against their best interests.) A flush of articles examines the human psychology that led to it.
Time magazine quotes Drew Westen ("The Political Brain"):
“There’s a very legitimate reason to be concerned about immigration,” says psychologist Drew Westen of Emory University. “Unfortunately ISIS has given would-be fence-sitters the permission to vote out of some combination of conscious or unconscious prejudice or bias.” That hardly means that pro-Brexit Britons acted out of racism; it does mean that people who do traffic in racism had more power to influence voters than they would have had in more peaceable times.
Writing for Scientific American, Julia Shaw cautions that the Leave camp mirrored Donald Trump's appeals to fear undercut the brain's ability for rational decision-making:
When pundits argue that people don’t need experts, they are actively trying to push you from using central processing to a peripheral approach. They are asking you to turn off your logic and turn on your emotion, because they know that it is difficult to use logic once fear takes over.
This is also why politicians like Trump and the Brexiters like to say they represent "ordinary people." Of course, "ordinary people" don’t exist. Even if they did, they'd be unlikely to be a billionaire or an old-Etonian who delivers speeches in Latin. Presenters of such arguments are trying to make you feel negative emotions against an imaginary opponent (usually the ‘elites,’ who also don’t actually exist), trying to get you to disregard evidence and logic.
"Very few people are stupid in any meaningful sense, and the British aren’t either," writes Thomas Hills at Psychology Today. Simmering anger at growing inequality gets his vote for why Leave prevailed:
People who are unhappy and angry often don't attend to the long-term consequences of their actions. Crimes of passion, by definition, lack the premeditated thinking-it-through that tends to keep people out of trouble. Still, crimes and emotionally driven actions are often the outcome of a history of emotional dissatisfaction. People don't just get angry one day and stab their partner. They get angry, and then they get angry again, and then they stomp their feet for a while, and then one day they get really angry and they happen to be cutting onions.
Working-class people in places with high inequality have been angry for a long time, perhaps since the dawn of work. The referendum on Brexit in the UK just handed the working class a knife and placed a blow-up-doll of the EU nearby.
People are what behavioral economists call strong reciprocators and altruistic punishers. Humans are wired for reciprocal cooperation: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine, etc.
Beinhocker recounts experiments using the Ultimatum Game,
... in which one person is given some money (say $100) and asked to offer a share of it to another person (say $20). If the second person accepts the offer, both keep the money, but if he or she rejects it, both get nothing. The rational solution is to accept any offer except $0, as even $1 is better than nothing. But experiments on thousands of subjects around the world show that offers below around 30 percent are typically rejected, thus harming both individuals.
He explains, "People will sacrifice their own self-interest and harm themselves, even severely, to enforce norms of reciprocity." So the Leave voters have done in the U.K. So might Trump voters in the U.S. this fall, Beinhocker warns. (Or the Bernie-or-Bust crowd he leaves unmentioned.) The lack of accountability for Wall Street in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis coupled with unsustainable levels of economic inequality have created a vast, untapped market for enforcing norms of reciprocity.
From the time we are in the Terrible Twos (I want to do it myself!), people exhibit a need not just for cooperation, but some autonomy and control over their fates. Working people feel the economy and capitalism itself is failing them, that they are getting a raw deal and lack control their fates. Offer them less than 30 percent and they'll offer you a middle finger.
There is a reason Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren excite crowds. They have given voice to the complaints of the masses and convinced their respective audiences that they have been heard, that they have an advocate. People who know Hillary Clinton tell us privately she is a good listener. This is her chance to prove it publicly.
The reason the Remain camp lost was that they didn’t understand the game they were playing. They thought they were playing a rational game, appealing to people’s pocketbooks and sense of security. They fought their campaign with facts and figures and by highlighting the risks of Brexit. But the voters were playing the Ultimatum Game. Leave understood this and fought with promises to “take back control.” Like the Remain campaign, Hillary Clinton is also playing the rational game, appealing to voters’ economic and security self-interest. Donald Trump is the weapon of the altruistic punishers.
I'm not as sanguine about their altruism as Beinhocker. Clinton and the Democrats risk selling into the wrong market if they're selling rational self interest this fall. That's not what working people are buying. They want an economic system that treats them fairly.
[My mother] has Alzheimer’s. She’s not really cognizant of that, which is a good thing because my mother is really a fighter. She probably would have taken a gun and gone out and shot some of the dishonest reporters... One of the reasons that our founders said that our system and our freedom depends on a well-informed and educated populace is because they recognize that if people were not well-informed and well-educated, they can be easily manipulated by a dishonest media and that’s exactly what happens in our society today.
Did anyone ever find out where all that money went?
There's too much to read these days on the ramifications of the Brexit vote and it's hard to keep up, but this struck me as a useful encapsulation of why Britain's leadership looking little better than the Trump campaign:
Mr. Johnson is clearly looking to unite the divided Conservative Party behind his own, flamboyant self and to burnish his free-market economic credentials.
But playing down immigration, Mr. Goodwin said, could create more political trouble. “I worry for senior euroskeptic leaders, because there is a misunderstanding of the vote, and that will feed voter dissatisfaction,” he said, driving many of the voters who chose a British exit to turn away from both mainstream parties and move to the populist right.
The referendum was unusual, because it pitted a government on one side, “Remain,” against a loose coalition on the other, made up of Conservatives, some Labour legislators and U.K. Independence Party supporters. The Leave side never had to hammer out an agreement on how to proceed if it won, said Tony Travers, a professor of government at the London School of Economics.
“There was no coherence, because it wasn’t a political party fighting for government, but an odd coalition fighting against something, but with no consistent view of what it was fighting for,” he said.
Even on the economy, the Leave side was made of free-market economists who believe in no tariffs at all, those who believe in trade deals and protectionists who want to shield the declining working class against globalization, Professor Travers said.
“And now the government will have to be reformed as if it were representing the Leave side and yet represent both, a one-party government that must reflect the schism in itself,” he said.
Sometimes the old "enemy of my enemy is my friend" thing creates more problems than it's worth. If Conservatives had simply taken responsibility for the consequences of their harsh austerity programs and tried to ameliorate some of the discomfort with the rapid cultural and social change of our modern world instead of seeing opportunities to use all that to advance their own agendas they might have avoided all this. Instead, they just seemed to run with it without any plan or vision for how it was going to work out. Let's just hope their ineptitude doesn't result in Britain voting in a Far Right party. That will not end well.
It's quite a fine mess they've gotten themselves into.
Since members of the British Parliament have complained about receiving several fundraising emails from Donald Trump, politicians in several other foreign countries have revealed that they've also been flooded with email requests for donations from Trump.
Members of parliament in Australia, Iceland, Denmark, and Finland have all received the emails, according to news reports and tweets from the politicians.
Tim Watts, an Australian member of parliament, told TPM's John Marshall on Twitter that he has received several fundraising emails from the Trump campaign, and that he believes all Australian members of parliament have gotten the emails as well.
The Trump campaign has also asked members of parliament in Iceland for campaign contributions, according to Icelandic media. At least three Icelandic members of parliament have received a Trump fundraising email, according to the Iceland Monitor. A couple members of parliament told the Morgublaðið newspaper that they had received emails, according to a report in Iceland Magazine.
"This whole matter is very perplexing. The letter left me speechless," Katrín Jakobsdóttir, the head of Iceland's Left Green Party, reportedly said.
And a member of parliament in Denmark, Ida Auken, revealed on Twitter that she had also received a fundraising email from Trump.
Anders Adlercreutz, a member of parliament in Finland, also said on Twitter that Finnish elected officials have received the fundraising pleas from Trump.
Marshall assumes this is a screw up in buying an email list from someone and not knowing how to eliminate the addresses from which it's illegal to solicit donations. Because this is definitely illegal:
The only plausible answer seems to be that the Trump campaign either dealt with a sloppy or disreputable list broker or was so desperate after its horrible May FEC report was released that it went to a broker and just said they wanted every list and they'd sort it all out later. I confess that both scenarios seem a little farfetched. But some version of one of them basically had to happen, unless there's a prankster actually inside the campaign.
Whatever the case, I would just like everyone to remember this the next time you hear Trump caterwauling about Clinton selling out to foreign governments...
People are starting to get a little bit concerned about violence at the RNC in Cleveland. It's not so much that people are afraid of what might happen at the convention center. The Secret Service will have the place locked down tight. These events require unbelievable security checks so most people feel pretty confident that the worst that could happen would be some fisticuffs between delegates, not a mass shooting event or something like that. But that's not where the concern lies:
It’s the streets themselves where tension will run highest. Cleveland’s protest zone, even in its revised form, will permit demonstrators to roam freely, so long as they don’t block pedestrian or vehicle traffic. That raises the prospect of pro- and anti-Trump groups meeting in the same vicinity. Groups like the anti-LGBT Westboro Baptist Church intend to rally, and a white supremacist group at the center of a violent outburst in California last week has pledged to show up in Cleveland too.
Local pro- and anti-Trump organizers say they have confidence that even their political opponents are planning peaceful rallies, but they’re less certain that outside agitators won’t show up to stir the pot.
Larry Bresler, a leader of the progressive Organize! Ohio, said he speaks regularly with pro-Trump organizer Tim Selaty and is confident they’re both committed to holding peaceful rallies. But the agitation by anti-Trump activists from outside Cleveland who are pledging to stop Trump’s nomination at the convention has heightened tension.
“This is a whole different animal from other political conventions,” he said, noting that typically, most RNC protesters come from the left. “The serious problems that you had in terms of any kind of disruption by and large came from the anarchists. Here you’ve got a big number that are coming from the right this time … it presents a different dynamic.”
Bresler noted that firearms will be allowed in the “event zone” because of Ohio’s status as an open carry state, even though other more mundane items will be banned — from water guns to tape to sleeping bags.
You can't bring a water gun but you can bring a real gun.
Green is the color of money. The Senate Democrats report today:
One Day After Releasing Partisan Report, Republicans Schedule Another Interview
Anti-Clinton Air Base Mechanic Flown to Washington D.C. at Taxpayer Expense for Interview Today
Washington, D.C. (June 29, 2016)—After more than two years and $7 million, and one day after releasing what they claimed would be the “definitive accounting” of the Benghazi attacks, Select Committee Republicans have scheduled yet another interview today with a mechanic from a U.S. air base in Europe who posted allegations on Facebook that planes could have been deployed to Benghazi sooner.
This individual included on his Facebook postings the hashtag “#ifyouvoteforhillaryyouarebeyondstupid.”
It appears that the hashtag was removed from his Facebook page within the past 24 hours. He questioned in this Facebook posting whether fighter jets did not provide air support in Benghazi because “we have a corrupt government with disregard to human life, that looks at us as tools on the physical side of their political battles.”
I'll just use one example from the past so you can understand how this works:
Multiple official investigations into Vince Foster's death concluded that he committed suicide.
The first was by the United States Park Police in 1993, in whose jurisdiction the original investigation fell. Because of Foster's position in the White House, the Federal Bureau of Investigation assisted in the investigation.
Investigations by a coroner and Independent Counsel Robert B. Fiske, in a 58-page report released in 1994, also concluded that Foster had committed suicide. Theories of a cover-up still persisted, some of which were promulgated by the Arkansas Project. The speculation and conspiracy theories featured on talk radio and elsewhere caused pain to the Foster family.
After a three-year investigation, Whitewater independent counsel Ken Starr released a report in 1997 also concluding that the death was a suicide.
In addition, two investigations by the U.S. Congress found that Foster committed suicide, making a total of five governmental investigations to come to the same conclusion.
Donald Trump brought it up on the campaign trail 20 years later, saying the matter had never been resolved.
Part of this is a simple kitchen sink strategy to create an atmosphere of scandal. It divides the voters, keeps the press excited and forces the Democrats on to the defensive. Eventually plenty of people who don't follow the details but just hear the endless drumbeat decide on some level that there must be something to it because ... well, people wouldn't be obsessing on it otherwise, amirite?
But these days it really mostly a con game for wingnut welfare recipients. They've all got dollar signs in their eyes.
We'll be hearing BS about Benghazi for a long time to come.
The National Rifle Association’s political arm is launching its first ad campaign of the 2016 presidential race, with a survivor of the terror attack in Benghazi urging viewers to vote for Donald Trump.
The ad, which the NRA Political Victory Fund is backing with more than $2 million, is one of the larger expenditures by an outside group on behalf of the presumptive Republican nominee.
The 30-second spot, entitled “Stop Clinton, Vote Trump,” features Mark Geist, a Marine Corps veteran and security contractor who fought the assault on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012 that claimed four American lives, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
“A lot of people say they’re not going to vote this November because their candidate didn’t win; Well, I know some people who won’t be voting this year either,” Geist says as he walks through a cemetery in the ad. “Hillary as President? No thanks. I served in Benghazi. My friends didn’t make it. They did their part. Do yours.”
One of the more tedious political parlor games in any presidential election is now fully underway --- Vice Presidential speculation. On the Republican side we have the unusual spectacle of far more people running away from the possibility than coyly making themselves available. It seems few people wish to end their political careers this year by diving over a cliff holding hands with Donald Trump.
On the Democratic side the conventional wisdom for months has been that Clinton would pick Virginia Senator Tim Kaine. I’ve never been quite sure why this became the CW but it seems to stem from a conviction that Clinton is so hyper-cautious she would never think outside the box enough to choose someone CW didn’t say was the obvious choice. However, there are others beside Kaine on the list, many of whom would be exciting for different reasons. Choosing a person of color would be an obvious consideration for a multi-racial coalition. Picking someone younger would make sense as well.
But this week we had preview of what it might look like if Clinton decided to defy the CW and instead chose someone who doesn’t “balance” the ticket but rather doubles down on what makes her run risky in the first place --- being the first woman nominee. I’m speaking of Senator Elizabeth Warren, of course, with whom Clinton appeared at an Ohio rally on Monday.
If there were any doubt that Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren are the “it” couple of the moment in Democratic politics, it was silenced here Monday when they took the stage together for the first time. The two nerdy wonks and feisty grandmothers, who built rival power centers on the political left but this spring gradually became allies, together electrified a crowd of thousands by locking their arms, punching the air and excoriating Donald Trump.
Warren is on the VP short list for obvious reasons. First is the fact that she represents the progressive wing of the party, which has exerted substantial influence in this campaign through the candidacy of Bernie Sanders and has had some success over the last decade or so pulling the mainstream of the party away from the centrist orientation it adopted during the years of conservative ascendance. This faction would warmly embrace Warren on the national ticket and in this political era that may be more important than “balance” of region or age if Clinton wants to unify the party.
And Warren could also bring something important to the table in the role of “surprising validator,” which is someone from a particular group who can challenge something called “biased assimilation”:
[P]eople assimilate new information in a selective fashion. When people get information that supports what they initially thought, they give it considerable weight. When they get information that undermines their initial beliefs, they tend to dismiss it...This natural human tendency explains why it’s so hard to dislodge false rumors and factual errors. Corrections can even be self-defeating, leading people to stronger commitment to their erroneous beliefs.[...]
But they may reconsider if the information comes from a source they cannot dismiss. People are most likely to find a source credible if they closely identify with it or begin in essential agreement with it. In such cases, their reaction is not, “how predictable and uninformative that someone like that would think something so evil and foolish,” but instead, “if someone like that disagrees with me, maybe I had better rethink.
Clinton has been the subject of malicious right wing smears for more than a quarter century and it has taken a toll. And as I noted yesterday, GOP Super Pacs have successfully deployed a strategy to sow discord on the left in this cycle based upon those pre-existing narratives. Warren, on the other hand, is considered to be a scrupulously honest progressive with a reputation for rectitude. Her enthusiastic endorsement of Clinton’s character is extremely valuable to the Clinton campaign.
There are those who assume that two women at the top of the ticket is too much for the country to handle. After all, it took nearly 230 years for one to even be nominated by a major party for the top job. I thought that myself but after seeing them together I changed my mind. It looked like a natural combination to me. When you think about it, it’s simply illogical to be willing to vote for a woman president but unwilling to vote for a woman to replace her if something happened. That makes no sense. And if you are the type of person who believes that a woman at the top of the ticket needs a man around to keep her steady, why would the VP have to be that person? The administration will surely be filled with men, they always are. In any case, there’s really nothing new about voting for president and VP of the same gender.
Most importantly, the Republicans have nominated a man whose views about everything, but especially women, are nothing short of antediluvian. The prospect of a campaign featuring two strong women standing toe to toe with Trump is just too delicious to pass up. It’s already making him come unglued. So Clinton-Warren may not be a risky ticket at all --- it may be exactly the right one at the right time.
We're living in Medieval times. We have to stop it. We have to be so strong. We have to fight so viciously and violently because we're dealing with violent people, vicious people. So we can’t do waterboarding but they can do chopping off heads, drowning people in steel cages. They can do whatever they want to do. They eat dinner like us. Can you imagine them sitting around the table or wherever they’re eating their dinner, talking about the Americans don’t do waterboarding and yet we chop off heads. They probably think we’re weak, we’re stupid, we don’t know what we’re doing, we have no leadership. You know, you have to fight fire with fire.
Once more he's implying that he would behead people. That's on top of the waterboarding and the hostage taking and the torturing and killing of their families.
The crowd responded with shouts of "USA! USA!"
I just saw a succession of Republicans on CNN agree that Trump is right about terrorism and that we need a "strong[man]" leader.