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Trump’s defense witnesses that weren’t

Trump's defense witnesses that weren't

by digby

I know it's hard to believe that Trump is well ... Trump, but it's even harder to believe that his administration could possibly be this pathetic. Yesterday Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed there were multiple witnesses who would disprove the allegations of Trump's harassment and assaults and promised to provide a list of them. Here they are, via Think Progress:

Katie Blair

Katie Blair is offered by the White House as an “eyewitness” who disputes the account of Samantha Holvey, who alleges “Trump personally inspected each of the contestants” at an event prior to the 2006 Miss USA pageant. Holvey said it was “the dirtiest I felt in my entire life.” She also said that Trump went into a dressing room while some of the contestants were getting ready.

Blair, however, was not even a contestant at the 2006 Miss USA pageant and has not publicly commented on Holvey’s claims. She was the winner of Miss Teen USA in 2006, which is a different event. Miss Teen USA was held in August 2006 in Palm Springs. Miss USA was held in April 2006 in Baltimore.

Blair spoke out after “multiple other former contestants claimed he walked in on girls changing during a different pageant in 1997.” Blair said that nothing similar had happened to her. She did not rule out that Trump come into a dressing room while contestants were changing but suggested that, if it did happen, it’s because the women wanted to expose themselves to Trump. “f anything like that ever occurred, the women involved were probably ‘well aware’ that Trump was coming back there,” Blair told the New York Daily News.

Melissa Young

Melissa Young was also offered as an “eyewitness” who disputes the account of Samantha Holvey. The White House list describes Young as someone who “Also Competed In The 2005 Miss USA Pageant.”

But Holvey was not a contestant in the 2005 Miss USA pageant. In fact, Holvey represented North Carolina in the 2006 Miss USA Pageant, while Young represented Wisconsin in the 2005 Miss USA Pageant. (A different contestant named Chelsea Cooley represented North Carolina in 2005; she won.)

An inquiry to the White House press office about this apparent error was not immediately returned.

Young has not publicly commented on Holvey’s account. She says that Trump was kind to her several years later when she had a blood clot that sent her to the hospital. Young described Trump as a “gentleman.”

Notably, one person who says Trump walked into dressing rooms while beauty pageant contestants were changing is Donald Trump himself. Here is what Trump told Howard Stern in 2005:

Well, I’ll tell you the funniest [sic] is that before a show, I’ll go backstage and everyone’s getting dressed, and everything else, and you know, no men are anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it. You know they’re standing there with no clothes… And you see these incredible-looking women, and so, I sort of get away with things like that.

Trump’s language, that he “inspected” the contestants, matches Holvey’s account.

Anthony Gilberthorpe

Anthony Gilberthorpe first emerged during Trump’s presidential campaign and claimed to be an eyewitness disputing the account of Jessica Leeds, who says Trump groped her on an airplane in 1980. Gilberthorpe’s name does not appear on the document provided by the White House, which simply refers to him as “an eyewitness.”

Gliberthorpe’s specific claim about Leeds has no independent backing but is based on his “self-described excellent memory.” He claims that, as an 18-year-old British boy, he was in the first class cabin of a U.S. domestic flight. Although he claims “nothing inappropriate” happened, he says he remembers the interactions between Trump and Leeds exactly and monitored their behavior the entire flight. According to Gilberthorpe, Leeds was flirting with Trump. Later Gilberthorpe claims that Leeds, then in her 30s, confided in him (an 18-year-old stranger) that she wanted to marry Trump.

But even more significantly, as ThinkProgress has previously reported, Gilberthorpe is a notorious liar:

In 1987, for example, he told newspapers in England that he was engaged to fashion designer in California named Miss Leah Bergdorf-Hunt. “Both our families are delighted,” he told The Gloucester Express. It was later revealed that he was not engaged. Also there was no Miss Bergdorf-Hunt. He invented the whole thing.

He later won a substantial libel judgment from British newspapers that reported he had AIDS. But it eventually came out that Gilberthorpe himself was the source for the story. The newspapers appealed and Gilberthorpe ended up settling after the newspapers agreed to offset a small portion of his legal fees. The incident left him “very much out of pocket and with egg all over his face.”

Gilberthorpe also contends that, as a young man, he was “paid to recruit underage rent boys for orgies attended by ministers from Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet.” There is no evidence to support his salacious claims.

So the White House’s list of “eyewitnesses” consists of two women who don’t even claim to be eyewitnesses and a British man with an incredible story and a documented history of deception. The White House is suggesting that these “eyewitnesses” mean the claims of more than 14 women are “totally disputed.”

Well ok then.

Yeah, they’re being disdained. For good reason.

Yeah, they're being disdained. For good reason.

by digby

Ed Gillespie, the losing GOP candidate in the Virginia Governor's race and a former RNC chairman appeared on David Axelrod's podcast and said this about the Trump-Moore base:

“There’s a lot of people who feel like they are not just being disagreed with but they are being disdained. People feel like they are being marginalized and demonized for having concerns by an elite that doesn't understand their concerns.”

I keep hearing this. And it's true that the rest of the country disdains them. It's because they are voting for cretinous monsters who are destroying the country and possibly the world. Maybe if they stop doing that the rest of us would have a little bit more respect for them.

Seriously --- pussy grabbers and child molesters? They have lost all common decency. And they expect the rest of the country to just sit back and say nothing?


David Brooks: Both Siderism Is a Farce that Gives Us Meaning

Last week, Mr. David Brooks performed a grand show in the pages of The New York Times of lamenting the loss of a Republican party that never was.

My how he wept.  O Trumpora!  O Moores!  Where are the heroes of the imaginary Republican party of my youth?

And so, of course, today -- right on schedule -- Mr. Brooks reverted to his default setting: a soulless, Conservative Both Siderist algorithm into which his operators simply punch which aspect of the Left they wish to fuck over this week.

The pattern is an easy one to spot if you simply take the trouble to look for it.  For example, last year during the primaries, Mr. Brooks Both Siderist sermonettes were all about "Trump and Sanders" (from February, 16 2016)?
Hillary, for you the whirlwind is Bernie Sanders. For the rest of you it’s Donald Trump...

Trump has no actual policies and Sanders has little chance of getting his passed.

And yet the supporters don’t care. Sanders and Trump...

...the Trump and Sanders phenomena.

In debates Sanders is uninhibited by the constraints of reality, so his answers are always bolder. Trump speaks from the id, not from any policy paper, so his answers are always more vivid.

Many Americans feel like they are the victims of a slow-moving natural disaster. Sanders and Trump...

I’d love to see one of you counter the Trump and Sanders emotional tones with a bold shift in psychology...

Let Trump and Sanders shout, harangue and lecture...

Let them [Trump and Sanders] deliver long, repetitive and uninterrupted lectures...

Let them [Trump and Sanders] stand angry and solitary. You run as part of a team, a band of brothers...

Let them [Trump and Sanders] assert that all our problems can be solved if other people sacrifice...

Let them [Trump and Sanders] emphasize the cold relations of business (Trump) or of the state (Sanders)...

Let them [Trump and Sanders] preach pessimism...

Sanders and Trump have adopted emotional tones that are going to offend and exhaust people over time.
And once we moved to from the primary to the general election -- surprise! -- suddenly the music was the same but the lyrics has changed to suit the needs of the Brooks Both Siderist algorithm (from September 13, 2016):
The two main candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, are remarkably distrustful...

They have set the modern standards for withholding information — his not releasing tax and health records, her not holding regular news conferences or quickly disclosing her pneumonia diagnosis...

Both have a problem with spontaneous, reciprocal communication with a hint of vulnerability...

Both ultimately hew to a distrustful, stark, combative, zero-sum view of life...

Trump’s convention speech was the perfect embodiment of the politics of distrust...

Clinton’s “Basket of Deplorables” riff comes from the same spiritual place...
And now that we are nearly a year into the maladministration of President Stupid (and now that he has made his great, public show of boo-hooing) Mr. David Brooks has dried his tears and is back on the fucking job!
What’s Wrong With Radicalism

There was a striking moment in the focus group that consultant Frank Luntz recently held with a group of Roy Moore supporters in Alabama. One of the voters said that the women who are accusing Moore of harassment are being paid to do so. Luntz asked the group how many people thought the women are being paid. A bunch of hands shot up and voices called out that all of the women are being paid.

That attitude is evident on the pro-Trump right, but also on the left...
The "pro-Trump right" is the entire fucking Republican party, Mr. Brooks.  An entire party which is now predicated on the theory that there is no greater evil in the world than people like me.  An entire party dedicated to demonizing minorities, hating woman, starving the poor because it will make the  Libtards cry.  A depraved, sadistic, mad-dog party.

But please continue.
The woke activists, the angry Sanders socialists and social justice warriors are just as certain that the system is rigged, that rulers are corrupt and that the temple has to be torn down.
90% of Sanders voters voted for Hillary Clinton you sniveling fraud.  And it sure seems like lot of the social justice warriors who occupy such a prominent place in both Sean Hannity's nightmares and yours have legitimate, life-or-death issues.  You might not recognize their grievances as legitimate because they are not "David Brooks life-or-death issues" (example: worrying that your friends will notice you wore the same tie on Meet the Press that you wore to the Aspen Institute gala) but instead fall into the category of "Shit that David Brooks will never in a million years have to put up with".  The issues of people who would consider it a huge victory if, say, cops stopped murdering unarmed black people and LGBT citizens were extended the same civil rights as the rest of us.  

But please continue.
We’re living in an age of radicalism.

But today’s radicalism is unusual. First, we have radical anger without radical policies.

...Trumpian populism screams “blow it up” and “drain the swamp.” But Donald Trump’s actual policies are run-of-the-mill corporatist.
Wow.  Muslim bans.  Playing blind-drunk nuclear chicken with North Korea,  Stripping millions of Americans of their health insurance.  Torching the State Department, and gutting and looting every other cabinet department.  Aiding and abetting actual American Nazis.  Stealing Supreme Court seats.  The worst dog's breakfast of a tax bill in living memory.  Relentless attacks on the free press. 

According to Mr, Brooks, all of these and so much more are just "run-of-the-mill corporatist" policies.

Translation:  Mr. Brooks really, really, really wants his fucking tax cuts.

But please continue.
The left-wing radicals talk a lot against the systems of oppression and an institutionalized injustice. But they are nothing like the radicals of the 1930s or the 1960s.
Those "radicals of the 1930s or the 1960s" fought for basic labor rights and worker safety, civil rights, voting rights and all the rest.  The price for those advances in our civilization has already been paid in blood.

For the last 40 years the fight has been between Mr. Brooks' Republican party -- who have spent billions of dollars in a single-minded campaign to roll every one of those advances back -- and we moderns "left-wing radicals" who are are keen to keep and expand on the New Deal and Great Society advances that our forefathers and foremothers bled and died for.
Both the Trumpian populists and the social justice warriors are more intent on denouncing the people they hate than on addressing the concrete problems before them..
You sir are a fucking liar. 

Hillary Clinton, who won the popular vote by three million.

But please continue.
The key influence here is Saul Alinsky. His 1971 book, “Rules for Radicals,” has always been popular on the left and recently it has become fashionable with the Tea Party and the alt-right...
Jesus take the wheel.  Before the Cult of Beck sprouted sobbing, hairy, deranged tentacles and hauled itself upright from the toxic waste dump on the Right and declared that “Rules for Radicals" was the grimoire of the Dirty Commie Collectivist Statist Left, virtually no one over on our side had ever heard of it, much less pored over it to glean potent commie majyks to cloud the minds of men.

But because the Big Lie of Both Sides Do It demands it, Mr. David Brooks is now as one with Alex Jones, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck in telling his feeble-minded octogenarians fans that he has Sekrit Insights into the inner workings of the Left.

And off we go...

“The ethics of means and ends is that in war the end justifies almost any means,” Alinsky writes. “Ethical standards must be elastic to stretch with the times,” he adds.

“Ethics are determined by whether one is losing or winning.” That sentence could have been uttered by Donald Trump, but it was really written by Saul Alinsky...

What’s needed is reform of our core institutions to address the bad byproducts, not fundamental dismantling.

That sort of renewal means doing the opposite of everything the left/right radicals do...
And what is Mr. Brooks' miracle cure for this terrible death-grip on the American polity being cause by a tiny fraction of a fraction of those on the Left and virtually the entire fucking Republican party?

If you guessed a pastiche of ahistorical, pseudo-rabbinical argle bargle, you guessed right.  
It means believing that life can be more like a conversation than a war if you open by starting a conversation. It means collectively focusing on problems and not divisively destroying people. It means believing that love is a genuine force in human affairs and that you can be effective by appealing to the better angels of human nature.
We have had two, consecutive Democratic administrations who both went far beyond the call of duty to try to reach common ground with Republicans by appealing to the better angels of their nature.

Both times, Democratic have been rewarded for their superhuman patience and benefit-of-the-doubting with slander, sabotage and sedition from Mr. Brooks' Republican party, which has been steadily devolving towards yahoo fascism for 40 years.

No Mr. Brooks.  Your Republican party no longer has an better angels to which decent men and woman can appeal.  It is a shitpile of bigots, imbeciles, con men and lunatics. 

A shitpile which would have collapsed of its own dead weight long ago if it weren't being constantly propped up by the Big Lie of Both Sides Do It promulgated by wormy quislings like you.  

Behold, a Tip Jar!


“That makes me smart!”

"That makes me smart!"

by digby

Josh Marshall had a great insight this morning, analyzing Trump's insulting tweet to Senator Gillibrand. It was obviously stunningly sexist but it also illustrates something fundamental about how Trump sees politics:

Remember, this is what he said:

Josh writes:

Trump routinely levels attacks like this. Democratic Politician A always came asking for political contributions. Now that I’m a Republican and a conservative President, they’re against me. In other words, they’re clearly shown to be a fraud, hypocrite, disloyal person.

This seems like a fairly major misunderstanding about how our politics are at least supposed to work. If Politician A solicits political contributions from Apolitical Businessperson B or one who gives equally to both parties and then sees Apolitical Businessperson B stake out a public politics that clashes dramatically with the Politician A’s beliefs we’d expect Politician A to opposes formerly Apolitical Businessperson B. If they didn’t, if they continued to support the now President’s extremist politics, which were starkly different from their own, because of past political contributions, we’d rightly consider the politician to be corrupt.

This is clearly not how Donald Trump sees it.

To the President, soliciting political contributions creates a bond of subservience against which any subsequent caviling about mammoth political differences is either sleazy, hypocritical or disloyal.

What it all amounts to is that personal loyalty, a kind of mafia-like allegiance, is the only legitimate mode of interaction. Which is to say, in Trumpthink, only corruption has legitimacy.

This is a man who said when accused of not paying any taxes on his hundreds of millions of dollars : "that makes me smart."

It's corruption all the way down. That's what makes him a player, that's what makes him smart.

And, by the way, plenty of his deplorable followers, who love to evoke Jesus and morality to beat the gay out of teenage boys and force young girls to give birth to their own sisters, cheered when he openly admitted that he is corrupt and dishonest. They agree that makes him smart and it's one of the things they like about him.


Feel good for a minute

Feel good for a minute

by digby


Wouldn't it be nice if this woman's first vote defeated that misogynist racist Roy Moore?

Finger crossed, trying not to get my hopes up.

Update: Fergawdsakes

American politics has become the stupidest reality show on earth. Even dumber than Storage Wars.


How Dare Anyone Act Surprised By The Depravity Of The GOP

For a very long time we on the Left have been using every means we could think of to warn of the monsters the GOP was breeding.

And for our sins we were exiled from polite society and told to sit down and shut up.

And now that the Beast's hour has come round at last and it has slouched its way into the highest office in the land, I turn on my teevee every day to see the political panels still dominated by the same people who called us "traitors" and "liars" and "fools" back in the day. 

Except now they are all wringing their hands and wondering how-oh-how did it ever come to this. 

And they all have a book to sell.

From me in July of 2006:

Evil Liberal John Dean Speaks

While America-hating radical Liberal Barry Goldwater looks on.

For all the general bebitching and bemoaning about the horrible state of public discourse in this country (now that Progressives have started to counterpunch) we Lefties are always faced with three, glaringly obvious facts:
1. The Right started this fucking firestorm. The evidence is overwhelming and incontrovertible. They did it to court the extreme, rightwing theocrats and racists that now have taken over their Party, and without whom it would be impossible for them to ever win another election. They did it coldly and with deliberate calculation.

2. Efforts to laugh off or “meet them halfway” have been a failure. Efforts at appeasement of the Mussolini-hearted men who rule the GOP have yielded nothing on the Left but the failed triangulation policy that keeps DLC consultants in big cake and hairplugs…and nothing from the Right except howls of laughter. In the absolutist conservative lexicon, Compromise = Capitulation, and therefore view compromise as spineless and cowardly. So at any effort to find genuine compromise and simply they redouble their “Liberals are vacillating Frenchmen who believe in nothing” narrative. Converselym any effort at standing pat on principle and they redouble their “Liberals are obstructionist” hooligans narrative.

To the Modern Conservative, democracy is a zero-sum-game and Liberals are not the opposition, but the Enemy. To be wiped out as expeditiously as possible.

3. The Persistent Vegetative Press have long since been beaten and starved to the point of abject capitulation, so no joy there. They steadfastly and conspicuously refuse to report on one of the biggest stories of the last 40 years: that Republican Party has been taken over by Stalinists. Instead they have positively sprinted in the opposite direction: burying any story that is critical of the GOP qua GOP, and forever fishing around in the margins for ways in which they can cast the Left as somehow equally and oppositely bad as the Right.

This “Fallacy of False Bisection” is the Conservative Propaganda Firewall; the press’ protective delusion that the “Center” is the Absolute Good wherever is happens to be located today. So that all a Conservative needs to do to radically shift the debate in his direction is to keep charging deeper into the twilight Tyranny/Fascism territory. And, no matter how far he goes, because the Lapdog Press has no fixed principle except “balance”, they will dutifully pace off half the distance between Ann Coulter and the Democrat Du Jure and arbitrarily declare that THIS is where the Reasonable Middle should be.


Ignoring, of course, the fact that tomorrow the "Center" will be 100 miles to the Right, and since Theocrat Conservative starting playing this game, “the Right” has been dragged so many million parsecs to the Right, the beliefs of a New Reasonable Middle Man would make Richard Nixon look like a Socialist.
So with the Press stiff and cold and the Right gone mad, who are we talking to anymore?

In the short term, I have always believed we are talking to the actual middle.

People who many have signed up with the Conservatives because they bought Rush’s despicable lies, because it gave them someone to blame and there was no one to tell them otherwise.

People who should be Democrats, but watched the Democrats roll over and try to play nice-nice with the GOP as it was infested and seized by the scum of the Earth, instead of whipping the crap out of them.

People who have been conned into believing they are forced to choose between “strong, vicious and stupid” and “weak, cowardly and smart”. Who have been brainwashed (with the assistance of Vichy Democrats) into thinking that those are their only options. Who hate those choices and long for others, but also know, in a dangerous world, stronger is a better bet.

People respond to strength, which is why when Dems fight -- really and persistently fight -- Dems eventually win.

Because our ideas really are better (and among them, yes, we will be raising taxes. Fucking-A. We’ll be rolling back the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy, Day One, 8:00, you mooching, thieving pricks.)

Our theologies are better – all of ‘em!

Our sense of humanity and compassion is not only vastly superior, but something we are actually proud of.

We love our Constitution and not just our Flag.

We don’t think the end of the world is either inevitable or desirable: We pray for peace and a million more years of sunrises, and not for fucking Armageddon.

We respect the lessons on past, but passionately believe in the future; we fight for it and not some delusional, idealized, Disneyfied, Conservative Times of Yore that never existed.

We love our Nation Ideals and not just our zip code.

Our women are sexier and smarter and stronger that you can possibly comprehend. And instead of finding that threatening and terrifying, we find it...magnificent.

Our culture is healthier.

And although we love our beer, our Liberal Chardonnay kicks ass.

That’s in the short term.

In the longer term we are all addressing the Future. The generations yet unborn who will look back at America and wonder just what in the fuck happened to make us lose our natural minds!

Well, consider what would happen if we still lived in a society where “proof” actually meant something. Where clapping your hands over your ears and whirling away dervish-like screaming “La-La-La-I-Cannot-Hear-You” when confronted with facts would get you mocked and laughed at, and not appointed to head the local Republican Party.

Consider, say, the case of Albert Einstein and general relativity (In the end how do you know you're a geek? When all your little parables seem to feature a little physics)…
… of all the thousands of eclipses studied by scientists, the most important one was the eclipse of 1919, which was able to provide the clinching evidence in favour of one of the most revolutionary ideas in the history of physics, namely Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

Although general relativity was a radically new formulation of gravity, its predictions were largely consistent with Newton’s highly successful theory of gravity. However, Einstein’s theory did make one or two predictions which distinguished it from Newton’s theory, and, if true, these predictions would show that Einstein’s model was closer to reality. For example, Einstein predicted that a gravitational field should bend rays of light much more than was expected by Newton’s theory of gravity. Although the effect was too small to be observed in the laboratory, Einstein calculated that the immense gravity of the massive sun would deflect a ray of light by 1.75 seconds of arc – less that one thousandth of a degree, but twice as large as the deflection according to Newton, and significant enough to be measured.

Einstein pictured a scenario whereby the straight line of sight between a star and an observer on earth would be just blocked by the edge of the sun. Einstein believed that the star would still be visible because gravity would bend the rays of light around the sun and towards the earth. The sighting of a star that should have been blocked by the sun would prove Einstein right, but it is generally to impossible to see starlight that passes close to the sun, because it is swamped by the brilliance of the sun itself. However, during an eclipse, the sun is blacked out by the moon, and under such conditions a gravitationally distorted star should be visible.
Light bends, so general relativity is true (well, relatively.)

The Sun does not travel around the Earth, and a look through any telescope proves it.

It doesn’t matter that “germs” ain’t mentioned in the Bible: Cough on a slide, look at it under a microscope, and tell me what you see.

Now take a look at this video --

-- (originally found at Crooks and Liars) and see the evidence for our current plight just as unambiguous and quantifiable as orbital mechanics or the speed of light.

If you have the time, watch the whole thing, and to read the book, and realize that John Dean is, at heart, a lifelong and loyal old-school Conservative.

That his idol and friend was Barry Goldwater: Father of the Conservative Movement and a man who absolutely reviled the maggoty thing is had mutated into at the hands of the likes of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.

That what he is saying strongly parallels some of what founding Conservative Bill Buckley has already said.

And what Kevin Phillips (former Republican strategist and author of "The Emerging Republican Majority") said in his most recent treatise, “'American Theocracy”.

Conservatives all, each practically screaming in their own way that Conservativism is dead, gone, hollowed out and is being worn as sheep's clothing by despicable men who hate and oppose everything the Original Conservatives ever stood for.

So not only do Modern Conservative have contempt for the Founders of our country, they have moved so far into the abyss that they actually dismiss, ignore and revile the Founders of their own ideology.

Consider the numbers Dean is citing: That 23% of the American population are “pure, rightwing Authoritarian followers”. That a tiny fraction – perhaps 1% -- are Liberal, but the rest, the overwhelming majority, identify as Conservatives.

So right there you can kiss any precious pet theory of “balance” goodbye.

Then consider the shameful fact that only about half of the eligible public actually votes during Presidential elections anyway, and quite a bit less at the midterms. And given that it’s a pretty good bet that the 23% who are aggressive, dogmatic followers of a Dear Leader will be much more likely to find their way to the polls, they will be far more represented in the voting half of Americans than in the non-voting half.

So, being conservative (pun intended), lets say 40% of the actually voting public are those “pure, rightwing Authoritarian followers”

And then consider that the numerical split between Dems and Republicans is about 50/50, and the “pure, rightwing Authoritarian followers” tend to overwhelmingly be Conservatives, you end up with damned near 70-80% of Republican voters fitting this profile.

Then, just for good measure, figure out from your own experience how many voters of any Party are actually agenda-driving “activists” -- the ones who pound the pavement, evangelize and make and enforce policy and discipline -- and what kind of Leaders, Policy Makers and Disciplinarians you are likely to grow in this Brownshirt Hothouse, and you begin to see what Liberals have seen and tried to warn this nation about for decades.

That the Grand Old Party has been taken over by monsters.

That based on their perverse theology and enraged-sheep psychological makeup, they have very deliberately driven the traditional democratic model of leadership out of their Party in favor of an aggressively Authoritarian paradigm that is clear in its direction, ideology and intent.

That the GOP has a fascist soul.

Which is why we have to fight like hell. For our values. For our nation. And for that 10% in the middle.

Because appeasing people like this never works; just ask your fathers and grandfathers.

And because, specific programs, policies and timetables aside, in America when one Party openly runs on a single-planked platform of “FEAR” under the “Jebusland Uber Alles” banner, that should damned well be a good enough reason to vote for the other guys.

Behold, a Tip Jar!


Remember when Republicans used to lecture Democrats about family values and honor and dignity?

Remember when Republicans used to lecture Democrats about family values and honor and dignity?

by digby

For those of you who don't use twitter, this happened today:

Yes, that is your president basically saying that Senator Gillibrand offered him sexual favors for money. Among other things.

Oh, and we're about to see if a credibly accused molester of underage girls and totally insane racist theocrat is going to become a member of the US Senate.

Welcome to Donald Trump's America.


Steve Bannon, “Master Strategist”

Steve Bannon, "Master Strategist"

by digby

I wrote about the emerging myth of Bannon the Genius for Salon this morning

There was a time when I might have written the words, "Alabama Republicans would rather see a child molester elected to the Senate than a Democrat," and it would have been seen as an exaggeration. Frankly, I would have meant it, long before now. Alabama is the home of George Wallace, Jeff Sessions and . . . Judge Roy Moore, who was thrown off the State Supreme Court for defying the U.S. Constitution twice! Now he's the Republican nominee in Tuesday's special election for the U.S. Senate. These people are serious, deep-in-their-bones "states' rights" conservatives with all that implies.

Nonetheless, one might have thought there would at least be a collective recoil among conservative evangelicals when a candidate was credibly alleged to have molested and "dated" underage girls when he was in his 30s. But after stumbling a bit at first, Moore adopted the Trump method of blanket denial, and most of his base of conservative Christians have decided to take his word for it over the women who have accused him.

After all, Moore is one of them, a hard right, true blue, evangelical zealot who put a two-ton statue of the Ten Commandments in front of the courthouse and refused to acknowledge the Supreme Court's recognition of marriage equality. And those were just his highest-profile culture war battles. From anti-Muslim rhetoric to antediluvian attitudes on race to patriarchal views on women's rights, he's one of the nation's leading conservative Christian soldiers.

Most Republicans in Alabama will vote for Roy Moore on Tuesday no matter what. The only question is whether enough of them defect or stay home -- and whether enough Democrats show up to vote to defeat him. If that happens, it will be a very big deal. Alabama hasn't elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1992. That was the state's current senior senator, Richard Shelby, who promptly changed parties and hasn't looked back. Interestingly, Shelby has refused to support Moore and says he didn't vote for him, but couldn't bring himself to vote for Democrat Doug Jones either.

It's hard to imagine a less likely champion for a fanatical right-wing Christian than Steve Bannon, the former presidential strategist who is now (once again) chair of Breitbart News. But he's been Moore's most vociferous backer, going back to the Republican primary when President Trump supported Luther Strange, the establishment choice who was appointed to fill the seat after Jeff Sessions became attorney general. Had Strange won that runoff, he would likely be so far ahead of Jones today that the rest of the country wouldn't even be aware of this election. And Bannon's star would be much lower in the sky.

Bannon is a millionaire city slicker whose phony drawl, unshaven mug and what appears to be some kind of hunting jacket are a pose he affects on the campaign trail. It's as if he's had one of his Hollywood stylist pals put together a "populist" costume. It seems to be pretty popular down in Alabama, where he strolls around the stage explaining to folks how the "elites" are tryna tell 'em what ta do. He calls out the GOP "establishment" by their first names, saying things like, "We’re going to hold you accountable, Mitch, real conservatives hold you in total contempt," to ecstatic applause from the crowd.

Just a few days ago, Bannon viciously attacked Mitt Romney, saying, "You hid behind your religion. You went to France to be a missionary while men were dying in Vietnam. Do not talk about honor and integrity." Apparently he has forgotten that draft-dodging Donald Trump once said that avoiding venereal disease was his own personal Vietnam.

Of course Bannon relentlessly attacks the media, which he also calls the "opposition." When the Washington Post reported the first accusations of women claiming to have been molested by Moore, Bannon knew who to blame:

The Bezos-Amazon-Washington Post that dropped that dime on Donald Trump is the same Bezos-Amazon-Washington Post that dropped the dime this afternoon on Judge Roy Moore. Now, is that a coincidence? That’s what I mean when I say opposition party, right? It’s purely part of the apparatus of the Democratic Party. They don’t make any bones about it. By the way, I don’t mind it. I’ll call them out every day.
Bannon's entire spiel during this campaign boils down to what he said in Midland City, Alabama, on Monday night: "They tried to destroy Donald Trump and they tried to destroy Roy Moore. They're coming for you!" For some reason this thrills the crowds and they cheer deliriously when he says it.

The emerging mythology here is that Bannon single-handedly rescued Moore from ignominy after the molestation charges surfaced. The story goes that Trump was overseas and was inclined to follow the mainstream Republican crowd that was saying variations on "If the charges are true, Moore should step down." Trump's poodle Sean Hannity followed his lead, demanding that Moore "explain himself" within 24 hours or he would withdraw his endorsement. Bannon is credited with coming up with the idea of saying that "the people of Alabama should decide," which Hannity adopted quickly, followed by much of the GOP and finally the president himself. After which Moore's poll numbers revived, putting him in position for a likely victory.

Bannon reportedly persuaded Trump that he needed to ensure Republicans didn't lose a Senate vote, but I think this is Bannon being self-serving. Remember, Trump was actually in the catbird seat at the time. He'd endorsed Strange and after he lost had pivoted to Moore without much enthusiasm. If Moore were to lose, Trump could say he'd backed the "real" winner originally so it wasn't his fault. If Moore won, Trump could take credit, since he takes credit for everything, including the sun coming up in the morning.

If the president has moved closer to Moore in recent weeks, it's out of pure self-interested calculation. Trump likely concluded he'd be better off standing up for Moore in the face of all those accusers than letting him twist in the wind while everyone started thinking about that "Access Hollywood" tape of 2016 and all the accusations that followed. Trump's instinct is to fight, and my guess is that he felt by fighting for Moore he was fighting for himself.

This is being seen as Bannon's big moment. Even Roy Moore is calling him the "master strategist." If Moore wins this race, the political establishment is preparing to label Bannon as the latest GOP genius along the lines of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove. And that will be ridiculous.

If Roy Moore is elected to the Senate, it won't be because of Steve Bannon. It will be because it's Alabama, a state so conservative that more people would rather vote for a Republican child molester than a Democratic candidate of any description. It's been that way for more than 30 years.

If Doug Jones wins, on the other hand, it will suggest that something very hopeful may be unfolding: a congressional takeover in 2018. For that we can thank ordinary women who came forward and told their stories. Let's hope they are rewarded for their bravery.


Heart of Dixie by @BloggersRUs

Heart of Dixie

by Tom Sullivan

The special election for U.S. Senate today in Alabama should not be a toss-up. And yet.

With the fall of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and members of Congress over sexual harassment claims, and with the allegations of child predation against Republican candidate Roy Moore, the cultural shift surrounding the #MeToo movement has changed the dynamics of the race between Moore and Democrat Doug Jones. In deep-red Alabama, tonight's outcome is anybody's guess.

Annie Linskey of the Boston Globe told Chris Matthews last night on "Hardball" she had visited an Alabama county where three-quarters of the voters had supported the sitting president last fall. "When I was looking for women who would say on the record that they were voting for Roy Moore, I mean, they laughed at me," she told Matthews. "They just laughed at me. Almost all of them said no."

Even though she is a yankee, Linskey said, Alabamians had all been polite. The puzzle pollsters seem unable to unravel is, were they being honest? What will women do away from reporters and husbands in the privacy of the voting booth?

"Somebody’s going to be wrong in Alabama," Nate Silver writes at FiveThirtyEight. Silver examines the vagaries of calling cell phones or landlines, and live calls versus robocalls. There still remains the question of whether people who are going to vote for (or against) Roy Moore will admit to voting for (or against) Roy Moore. The polls are all over the place.

Scott Douglas, executive director of Greater Birmingham Ministries, worries aloud in the New York Times that Alabama's photo ID law may already have determined the outcome, something Silver's analysis did not consider. People may be coy about who they are supporting in today's election, but in Alabama supporters of photo ID laws are less shy about whom they do not want voting:

A state senator who had tried for over a decade to get the bill into law, told The Huntsville Times that a photo ID law would undermine Alabama’s “black power structure.” In The Montgomery Advertiser, he said that the absence of an ID law “benefits black elected leaders.”

The bill’s sponsors were even caught on tape devising a plan to depress the turnout of black voters — whom they called “aborigines” and “illiterates” who would ride “H.U.D.-financed buses” to the polls — in the 2010 midterm election by keeping a gambling referendum off the ballot. Gambling is popular among black voters in Alabama, so they thought if it had remained on the ballot, black voters would show up to vote in droves.

Douglas considers Alabama's law "a naked attempt to suppress the voting rights of people of color."

Estimates Douglas cites for how many registered voters do not have the required ID may be inflated, however. Telephone surveys we conducted in North Carolina ahead of the 2016 election found that many voters flagged for not also having a driver’s license (an indication they might not be able to vote) did in fact have other valid ID. But the size of the pool of exclusion is not the point. Republicans' public reasoning is that even one illegal vote "steals" the vote of a legitimate voter and justifies expensive and onerous measures in the name of election integrity. They are simply less concerned about integrity preventing even one legitimate voter from casting a ballot at all if that person is black or Latino and likely to vote for a Democrat.

People can be racists and not want to be seen as racists. People may vote for a sexual predator and not want to be seen as voting for a sexual predator. Or not. We'll know more about Alabama's heart tonight after 7 p.m. Central Time.

* * * * * * * *

Request a copy of For The Win, my county-level election mechanics primer, at tom.bluecentury at gmail.


Our 10 Favorite WordPress Themes of 2017

As we prepare to say goodbye to 2017, it’s only natural that we look back at the year that was in a variety of design genres. Today, we’ll focus on the top WordPress themes released during the year.

While there are many ways to judge themes (looks, features, popularity, etc.), we’re going to be bold and simply say that we really like the ones on this list. They represent the spectrum of what’s available, from free to commercial, from barebones to feature-rich.

Here they are, in no particular order. Let’s celebrate our 10 favorite WordPress themes of 2017!

Minimal 20/17

Minimal 20/17 is a free child theme of the default WordPress Twenty Seventeen theme. It takes away some of the “excessive” padding of its parent, introduces a wider layout and adds in a couple of extra templates. This will save anyone wanting to build on top of the original a few steps.

Minimal 20/17


WoodMart is a commercial theme that focuses on WooCommerce shops. What really sets it apart are the advanced navigation features. Large, customizable mega menus make it a great fit for sites with a lot of product categories. Ajax product filtering enables customers to find exactly what they’re looking for. There’s something for just about every need here.


WP Generic

WP Generic may be free, but it’s got the look and feature set of a commercial theme (of course, there is the obligatory pro version as well). The theme works with the WordPress Customizer, allowing you to tweak colors and other settings to fit your needs. Overall it’s a very attractive and easy-to-read theme.

WP Generic

Course Builder

Course Builder aims to take advantage of the rise in sites using WordPress as a LMS (Learning Management System). It works in conjunction with the LearnPress plugin to help you build and sell online or offline courses. This commercial theme comes with several LearnPress premium add-ons, including plugins that work with various payment gateways, WooCommerce, Paid Memberships Pro and more.

Course Builder


CustomPress is a free theme that prides itself on being easy to customize. It’s also built for speed (based on the Milligram CSS framework) and compatibility with mobile devices. The look is clean and uncluttered.



Flexblog is further proof that blogging is still an important part of what WordPress does. And this commercial theme treats bloggers right, with lots of different layout options to suit their needs. You’ll also find different navigation/pagination styles, built in social sharing and compatibility with the WordPress Customizer.



Ariel brings an attractive, photo-centric style to blogging. The style isn’t overbearing – a welcome characteristic in this category. Included with the free theme are two slider styles, lots of sidebar options and social media icons. A pro version adds more customization options, post formats and other assorted goodies.


Get Skeleton

Get Skeleton is a free starter theme based on the popular _s (Underscores) and features the GetSkeleton CSS boilerplate. It’s meant for designers who want to create their own stunning theme, but want a solid foundation to build upon. So, no, it’s not going to win any beauty prizes out-of-the-box. It is, however, meant for serious development.

Get Skeleton


Skin shows us the fun side of WordPress themes. The design is unique and quite bold – although you can customize it to match your personality. It seems to be the perfect fit for the modern blog that’s looking to go viral. There’s lots of movement and animation, but the layout is still easy enough to follow. This one is definitely a different sort of commercial theme.



Cortex also lends itself to a more whimsically creative type of website. There are 17 home page layouts to choose from with this commercial theme – all are quite colorful. You’ll find several navigation options, including mega menus and a slide-out “hamburger” option.  Animation is also big here, with lots of floating objects to add a bit of flair to your content.


Looking Back…And Ahead

What did we learn from 2017? Well, blogging is still “in”. And developers are getting increasingly more playful with designs and features. That makes sense given the times we live in and the crowded market for themes.

But 2018 looks like it will be a whole other level of eventful when it comes to themes (and WordPress in general).  With the Gutenberg editor due to arrive, look for theme developers to race to ensure compatibility and add their own custom features based on it. It will be fascinating to see how the market adapts to this new way of creating and editing content.


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