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Not ready for bovine time by @BloggersRUs

Not ready for bovine time

by Tom Sullivan

Image from "Devin Nunes’ cow" Twitter page @DevinCow

California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes claims to have sued Twitter, Republican political consultant Liz Mair, and two anonymous twitter accounts belonging to “Devin Nunes’ Mom” (@DevinNunesMom) and “Devin Nunes’ cow” (@DevinCow) for defamation of character (if that is even possible).

In what observers believe is a publicity stunt, the thin-skinned congressman allegedly filed a $250 million lawsuit in Virginia on Monday that also seeks $350,000 in punitive damages. Nunes accuses the sitting president's favorite social media platform of anti-conservative bias, of trying to "intimidate" him and “interfere with his important investigation of corruption by the Clinton campaign and alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 Presidential Election.”

Nunes further accuses the defendants, jointly and severally, of “negligence, defamation per se, insulting words, and civil conspiracy" over such tweets as this:

Describing itself as "Hanging out on the dairy in Iowa looking for the lil’ treasonous cowpoke," the site throws shade at political lore about Nunes' California dairy farming roots — the farm is "long gone," the cows are in Iowa. Since "Devin Nunes’ cow" has been live for over a year, and since the Washington Post finds no record of the actual filing, this may indeed be a stunt by Nunes:
“This was an orchestrated effort,” Nunes said during an interview with Fox’s Sean Hannity on Monday. “People were targeting me.”
Nunes promised Hannity this suit would be “the first of many,” etc., etc.

One worries, however, that Nunes and his favorite president might be influenced by a recent law signed by the president's favorite autocrat:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a controversial set of bills that make it a crime to “disrespect” the state and spread “fake news” online, Russian media reported on Monday.

The bills amending existing information laws overwhelmingly passed both chambers of Russian parliament in less than two months. Observers and some lawmakers have criticized the legislation for its vague language and potential to stifle free speech.

The legislation will establish punishments for spreading information that “exhibits blatant disrespect for the society, government, official government symbols, constitution or governmental bodies of Russia.”

The Russian law bypasses the courts and allows prosecutors to block news sources directly, Maria Snegovaya, an adjunct fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, told the Washington Post in an email:
“In other words, it significantly expands the repressive power of Russia’s repressive apparatus. This may be compared to the Stalin’s Troika, a commission of three for express judgment in the Soviet Union during the time of Joseph Stalin who issued sentences to people after simplified, speedy investigations and without a public and fair trial,” she added.
At this stage of the Putin-Trump bromance, it is unclear who inspired whom in promoting "fake news" as any information dictators and autocrats dislike. But Putin's shiny, new attack on free speech is the stuff of Donald Trump's wet dreams.

Trump has called for a loosening of American libel and defamation law before, and as recently as last weekend called for a federal investigation into Saturday Night Live for telling jokes at his expense. In that context, the Nunes stunt on Monday may be another attempt by Nunes to curry favor with his cult leader.

California Democrat, Rep. Eric Swalwell Jr., is on alert, and so should you be:


David Brooks is Wanking Into his Both Siderist Gym Sock Again

From The New York Times:
Cory Booker Finds His Moment

Do Democrats want the fist or the open hand?

Some people believe that fire can be fought only with fire. We’ve got to face the world as it is. If the other side is going after you with full viciousness, you’ve got to find a leader who can do the same to them. This is a knife fight. We need a brawler.

This is the argument white evangelicals made in deciding to back Donald Trump. We’re under siege. He’ll fight for us.

And this is the argument many of the Democratic campaigns are already making. Republicans are irredeemable. Racism is ubiquitous. Capitalist greed is ubiquitous. We need someone who can match Trump blow for blow...
You see, from Mr. Brooks' cloistered, privileged little perch deep inside the Beltway Bubble, he is literally incapable to seeing any difference between fascism and fighting fascist.  Between racism and fighting racism.  None.

All Mr. Brooks ever knows about such matters is that Both Bides are making Loud Noises when they should be Hugging It Out, so obviously Both Sides are to blame for whatever it is they are fighting over.

This is why Mr. Brooks' poor ol' Both Siderist wankin' sock has to weigh at least a ten thousand pounds by now, with a crust as thick as Arctic permafrost.

There are mastodons and saber tooth tigers buried in there. The ruins of ancient civilizations are trapped in there too, like insects in amber.

You know what else is sealed away in there?  Lost and forgotten under layers and layers of desiccated Both Siderist splooge?

The entire fucking Obama administration.

Yep.  Damn thing never happened. Which is why Mr. Brooks can write this with a straight face:
But I’d say that [Corey] Booker has a fuller and more realistic view of our situation. Fanaticism is not the normal human state. Fanaticism is a disease that grows out of existential anxiety. It grows when people fear that they are being delegitimized. It grows when people are isolated and insulated from one another. It grows when you have leaders, like our president, who reduce everything to us/them stereotypes and so poison the public mind. 
The disease is in our context and not in our souls. And that context can be changed with better leadership...
Golly, if only Democrats would elect a president who is calm and humane.  Formidably intelligent and fundamentally decent.  A president who would reach out to Republicans to a fault, no matter how ruthlessly they slander him, how scurrilously they attack his family and no matter how relentlessly they sabotage anything he tries to accomplish, even if it means filibustering their own bills.

But of course Democrats did try that, didn't we?

I remember it like it was yesterday.  I'm sure you do too, as do billions of human beings around the world.  How very, very strange it is, therefor, that quite possibly the only adult human on the planet who doesn't remember a single thing about the Obama administration is the senior Conservative political/cultural columnist for The New York Times.

So since I know Mr. Brooks (or his minions) read this blog, let us take them by the hand and travel up the road a few blocks to the offices of  New York Magazine where Jonathan Chait is testing Mr. Brooks' idiotic theory that Republicans aren't really aggressively ignorant racist zombies who would rather see the country burn that let a Democrat govern it -- it's just that they need "better leadership" to change their "context" -- against what actually happened when Democrats elected a good and decent president:
The Most Unrealistic Promise Democrats Are Making Is to Restore Bipartisanship
...The Obama presidency was an eight-year experiment in the possibility of obtaining Republican support for major initiatives. It is impossible to imagine a more conclusive result. Despite having jacked up the deficit during the entirety of the presidencies both before and after Obama’s, Republicans spent the entire time insisting on massive fiscal austerity despite facing objectively the most favorable conditions for stimulus spending since World War II. Obama’s offer to support John McCain’s cap-and-trade plan and Mitt Romney’s health-care plan drew almost zero Democratic and zero Republican votes, respectively. Republicans wouldn’t even accept a deal to trim Medicare spending in return for tax reform. 
McConnell publicly stated his logic at the time: putting the bipartisan imprimatur on Obama’s policies would make the policies popular. More than mere strategy was at work. By waging partisan war against any of Obama’s initiatives, Republicans helped persuade their voters that his ideas — even those with a solid moderate Republican pedigree — were dangerous socialism. And the more fearful Republican voters became, the harder it was for Republicans to negotiate anything with Obama.”...
So given that we have already tried the "Perfect Brooksian Candidate" experiment ... and given that it not only failed spectacularly to change the attitude or trajectory of the Republican base in any appreciable way, but actually amped up their preexisting racism and paranoia so high that they nominated and elected the King of the Birthers ... and given that Donald Trump now enjoys the solid and enthusiastic support of 90% of Republican voters ... you might be asking yourself from the bottom of what pop-skull whiskey bottle is David Brooks divining that the Republican base really are just good folks who have been cruelly misrepresented and are in need of nothing more than hug and a handkerchief from a black, Ivy League-educated Democratic senator.

Well like any big-league journalist, cracking a major story like this, he sussed it out by by having a lunch with some "locals" --
I write this to you from Nebraska City, Neb., just over the Iowa line. I just had lunch with 15 locals...
-- at which none of the piercing insights into Trump or Republicans or human nature with which Mr. Brooks has festooned his column were in any way discussed:
...many probably Trump supporters and some probably not. But it didn’t come up. 
You see, the special value Mr. Brooks bring to The New York Times -- the special skill set for which  the House of Sulzberger pays him such a princely sum -- is that he has transcended mere journalism and no longer requires "facts" or "quotes" to confirm his opinions.   All Mr. Brooks needs to do is observe how these hardy Nebraska natives wrangled their fajitas over lunch while talking football and cattle prices to know that all of them were the very best of people.  That, in fact, all people are the very best people,  That evil is an illusion and that anyone who thinks otherwise is deranged:
The idea that any of these good people are “downright evil” because of some political affiliation is ridiculous and a sign of how deranged our discourse has become.
Like most of his Beltway media fellow travelers, Mr. Brooks is desperate for his readers to believe all kinds of contradictory claptrap all at once, and not ask him any questions about any of it.

For instance, he wants his readers to believe that the monster that is Donald Trump is somehow completely unrelated to the Republican monster factory that spawned him and nourishes him.

However he also wants his readers to believe that reversing and repairing the damage done by the decades of Limbaugh and Gingrich and rage and racism rotting out his Republican Party is somehow entirely the responsibility of the next Democratic president, while at the same time believing that the only acceptable way for any Democratic president to fix everything that is wrong with our politics is to rerun the Obama Experiment exactly as before while also simultaneously pretending that the Obama Experiment never happened.

But in the end, what Mr. Brooks needs above all else it to convince his readers to refuse to recognize evil when they see it.  To train them look for evil only when it comes stomping up to their doors with cloven hooves, wearing a name tag...

...but never recognize it when it takes the form of a banal little mediocrity who dispenses toxic little lies cloaked in the language of piety for The New York Times.

Behold, a Tip Jar!


Take The Driftglass Challenge!

What is "The Driftglass Challenge"?


Go back to 2013 and try to warn your friends and allies about the future that's coming down the pike.

This future.  The one where  Ben Carson, Ben Shapiro, Ken Starr, and Glenn Greenwald are on Fox News yucking it up with Laura Ingraham.

Then watch as they mock you as a drooling, jackbooted O-Bot lunatic.

Ah, but of course that's impossible isn't it?

There is no going back. 

The only available direction is forward, and so we go forward, hoping to navigate the shoals and storms of the future by learning the lessons it has to teach us so that we might avoid making the same mistakes over and over and over again. 

Which is why anyone who lies to you about the past and demands that you go along with the lie -- anyone who insists that it's just too risky to go poking around there looking for explanations and accountability -- cannot be trusted.

Behold, a Tip Jar!


The president of (some of) the United States

The president of (some of) the United States

by digby

Have you ever seen anything like this?


“There is something very wrong here” #Gambinoshooting

"There is something very wrong here"

by digby

What the hell?

The man charged with killing the reputed boss of the Gambino crime family wrote pro-Donald Trump slogans on his hand and flashed them to journalists before a court hearing Monday.

Anthony Comello, 24, was arrested Saturday in New Jersey in the death of Francesco "Franky Boy" Cali last week in front of his Staten Island home.

While waiting for a court hearing to begin in Toms River, N.J., in which he agreed to be extradited to New York, Comello held up his left hand.

On it were scrawled pro-Trump slogans including "MAGA Forever," an abbreviation of Trump's campaign slogan "Make America Great Again." It also read "United We Stand MAGA" and "Patriots In Charge." In the center of his palm he had drawn a large circle. It was not immediately clear why he had done so.

Comello's lawyer, Brian Neary, would not discuss the writing on his client's hand, nor would he say whether Comello maintains his innocence. Asked by reporters after the hearing what was on Comello's hand, Neary replied, "Handcuffs."

He referred all other questions to Comello’s Manhattan lawyer, Robert Gottlieb, who said in an emailed statement his client has been placed in protective custody due to “serious threats” that had been made against him, but gave no details of them. Ocean County officials could not immediately be reached after hours on Monday.

"Mr. Comello's family and friends simply cannot believe what they have been told," Gottlieb said. "There is something very wrong here and we will get to the truth about what happened as quickly as possible."

The statement did not address the writing on Comello’s hand, and a lawyer from Gottlieb’s firm declined to comment further Monday evening.

Comello sat with a slight smile in the jury box of the courtroom Monday afternoon as dozens of reporters and photographers filed into the room. When they were in place, Comello held up his left hand to display the writings as the click and whir of camera lenses filled the room with sound.

During the hearing, Comello did not speak other than to say, “Yes, sir,” to the judge to several procedural questions.

The 53-year-old Cali, a native of Sicily, was shot to death last Wednesday by a gunman who may have crashed his truck into Cali's car to lure him outside. Police said Cali was shot 10 times.

Federal prosecutors referred to Cali in court filings in recent years as the underboss of the Mafia's Gambino family, once one of the most powerful crime organizations in the country. News accounts since 2015 said he had ascended to the top spot.

Cali's only mob-related criminal conviction came a decade ago, when he pleaded guilty in an extortion scheme involving a failed attempt to build a NASCAR track on Staten Island. He was sentenced to 16 months behind bars and was released in 2009.

Police have not yet said whether they believe Cali's murder was a mob hit or whether he was killed for some other motive.

I don't know whether that circle is a QAnon sign or not. Whatever. The guy is obviously a RWNJ --- who assassinated a major crime boss?



Health care will be job one (if Democrats win)

Health care will be job one

by digby

A new Kaiser Foundation poll
shows a large majority for the progressive health care positions:

This month’s KFF Health Tracking Poll continues to find majority support (driven by Democrats and independents) for the federal government doing more to help provide health insurance for more Americans. One way for lawmakers to expand coverage is by broadening the role of public programs. Nearly six in ten (56 percent) favor a national Medicare-for-all plan, but overall net favorability towards such a plan ranges as high as +45 and as low as -44 after people hear common arguments about this proposal.

Larger majorities of the public favor more incremental changes to the health care system such as a Medicare buy-in plan for adults between the ages of 50 and 64 (77 percent), a Medicaid buy-in plan for individuals who don’t receive health coverage through their employer (75 percent), and an optional program similar to Medicare for those who want it (74 percent). Both the Medicare buy-in plan and Medicaid buy-in plan also garner majority support from Republicans (69 percent and 64 percent­).
Moving forward, half of Democrats would rather see the new Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives focus their efforts on improving and protecting the ACA (51 percent), while about four in ten want them to focus on passing a national Medicare-for-all plan (38 percent).

Democrats and their Independent leaners want this problem dealt with once and for all. If Democrats win in 2020, they will have a mandate to do it.

I will just say that I think the Obamacare program was probably a necessary step in the evolution of this issue. Changing this huge sector of our society in such a fundamental way, partiularly with a vicious opposition, often takes several steps. But it will happen one way or the other. It has to.


Leave the puerile nicknames to Trump. It’s his one true talent.

Leave the puerile nicknames to Trump

by digby

insecure much?

This "beta male" schtick also comes out of the fetid fever swamp of the internet wingnut right. They talk like this all the time.

As Trump would say: "Sad!"


Now That Fox News Has Reduced Juan Williams to a Perpetual Punch-Line…

...and Susan Estrich is basically a Halloween mask floating in a puddle of Roger Ailes' leftover chardonnay, I wonder if would even be possible to find another Clinton-era "liberal" they can convince to trash what remains of their reputations in exchange for a large pile of money.

After all, now that the mission and business model of Trump Teevee is no longer a mystery to anyone -- now that they have dropped any pretense of being anything other than a fascist lie PEZ-dispenser and sexual-predator petting zoo -- it's got to be a very, very tricky...



Never mind.

Behold, a Tip Jar!


Let’s talk about Trump’s white nationalist authoritarianism

Let's talk about Trump's white nationalist authoritarianism

by digby

A whole lot of people have written columns today about Trump's white supremacy including me. David Leonhardt at the New York Times frames it in light of Trump's comments last week about "his people" getting tough:

The president of the United States suggested last week that his political supporters might resort to violence if they didn’t get their way.

The statement didn’t even get that much attention. I’m guessing you heard a lot more about the college-admissions scandal than about the president’s threat of extralegal violence. So let me tell you a little more about the threat.

In an Oval Office interview with writers from the right-wing news site Breitbart, President Trump began complaining about Paul Ryan. As speaker of the House, Ryan blocked efforts by other House Republicans to subpoena and investigate people on the political left. Trump’s loyal allies in the House “wanted to go tougher,” Trump said, “but they weren’t allowed to by leadership.”

To Trump, the incident was part of a larger problem: “You know, the left plays a tougher game. It’s very funny. I actually think that the people on the right are tougher, but they don’t play it tougher. O.K.? I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump. I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.”

This wasn’t the first time Trump had mused about violence, of course. He has talked about “Second Amendment people” preventing the appointment of liberal judges. He’s encouraged police officers to bang suspects’ heads against car roofs. He has suggested his supporters “knock the hell” out of hecklers. At a rally shortly before 2018 Election Day, he went on a similar riff about Bikers for Trump and the military.

I’m well aware of the various see-no-evil attempts to excuse this behavior: That’s just how he talks. Don’t take him literally. Other Republicans are keeping him in check. His speeches and tweets don’t really matter.

But they do matter. The president’s continued encouragement of violence — and of white nationalism — is part of the reason that white-nationalist violence is increasing. Funny how that works.

After Trump’s latest threat, I reached out to several experts in democracy and authoritarianism to ask what they made of it. Their answers were consistent: No, the United States does not appear at risk of widespread political violence anytime soon. But Trump’s words are still corroding democracy and public safety.

His latest incitement fit a historical pattern, and one with “scary echoes,” as Daniel Ziblatt, who co-wrote the recent book “How Democracies Die,” told me. Trump combined lies about his political opponents — Democrats who need to be investigated (for made-up scandals) — with allusions to a patriotic, violent response by ordinary citizens. Latin American autocrats, including Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, have used this combination. So did European fascists in the 1930s.

The United States, thank goodness, does not have armed citizen militias carrying out regular attacks, as those other countries did. But our situation is still worrisome. “Violent talk can, at minimum, encourage lone-wolf violence,” Steven Levitsky, Ziblatt’s co-author and a Harvard political scientist, said. “It can also slowly normalize political violence, turning discourse and ideas that were once unsayable and even unthinkable into things that are sayable and thinkable.”
It isn’t very complicated: The man with the world’s largest bully pulpit keeps encouraging violence and white nationalism. Lo and behold, white-nationalist violence is on the rise. You have to work pretty hard to persuade yourself that’s just a big coincidence.

Greg Sargent looks at the question from a different angle:
Trump regularly engages in both veiled incitement of violence and anti-Muslim bigotry with a kind of casual regularity that almost seems designed to lull us into desensitization. That this is losing the power to shock is bad enough. But that’s producing another terrible result: This desensitization leads us to spend too little time focused on the actual consequences these verbal degradations could be having.

This is what the White House wants. That reality comes through clearly in an important appearance that acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney made on “Fox News Sunday,” which opens a window on these matters in a particularly illuminating way.

Fox’s Chris Wallace pointed out that before allegedly massacring 50 people at two mosques, the New Zealand shooter declared that he supports Trump “as a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.” Wallace asked Mulvaney: “What does the president think of that?”

Mulvaney replied that it is not “fair” to cast the shooter as a “supporter of Donald Trump.” Wallace pressed Mulvaney on Trump’s history of anti-Muslim remarks — which is long and ugly — and noted that just after the shooting, Trump described immigrants as an “invasion,” just as the alleged shooter did. He asked why Trump won’t state clearly that “there is no place in America for this kind of hatred.”

Mulvaney repeatedly brushed off Wallace’s questions, bridled at the suggestion that the violence was Trump’s “fault,” and whined: “I’m not sure what more you want the president to do.”

What’s particularly reprehensible about this performance is what’s hiding in plain sight: There are no signs that Trump is troubled by the fact that the man who allegedly murdered dozens of people because of their Muslim faith sees him as a symbol of the devotion to protecting white identity that drove this act.

“What does the president think of that?” Wallace asked Mulvaney, who treated this question as not worthy of a response. Mulvaney cynically cast the core issue as: Is Trump directly responsible for this act? In fact, it’s this: Are Trump’s words helping produce conditions that are emboldening and encouraging the type of white-nationalist and white-supremacist group activity that is leading disturbed proponents into violence and murder?

There are no signs that either Trump or the administration sees this as a question that should preoccupy them. Why not? Why aren’t Trump and his advisers asking themselves this question?

It's all about that base. And that base is largely in sympathy with the white-nationalists.

The Average Size of the Illinois State Capitol’s Daily Paper… now smaller than the copies of GRIT kids used to hawk door-to-door back in the day.

The paper itself is a shell (from the Illinois Times):
SJ-R cuts sports editor
Adams laid off last week
By Bruce Rushton

State Journal-Register sports editor Todd Adams was laid off last Friday in what one source says was an economic move.

Adams’ departure came two days after SJ-R newsroom employees, plus editorial employees at the Peoria Journal Register and Rockford Register Star, were offered buyouts. Workers have until today to sign up for buyouts...
The offices, a ghost-town.
Don't let the door hit you
SJ-R employees offered buyouts
By Bruce Rushton

Newsroom employees at the State Journal-Register are being offered buyouts, with the prospect of layoffs on the horizon.

The buyout offer from GateHouse Media, the paper’s corporate owner, was made Wednesday, with employees told they have until Monday to volunteer to be let go. Under a newsroom collective bargaining agreement, employees who accept a buyout would be paid one week of pay for every year of service, to a maximum of 15 weeks...

There aren’t many reporters left to cut. City hall reporter Crystal Thomas is leaving the paper on Friday to cover the Missouri legislature for the Kansas City Star. Her departure will leave the SJ-R with five news reporters, including Doug Finke, Dean Olsen, Brendan Moore, Bernard Schoenberg and Steven Spearie. Fifteen writers, editors and photographers have left the paper in the last six years without being replaced...
As the stalwart Big Box advertisers of the days of yore evaporated and Facebook and Amazon gobbled up the rest, the paper has become more and more dependent on exactly the same source of revenue as every scrappy little blogger and independent podcaster: listener or reader support.   In the case of the newspaper, this means paid subscriptions.

And as keeping paid subscribers down here in Trump-country happy has become more and more directly tied to keeping the doors open and the lights on at the State Journal-Register, it will come as no surprise that on the op-ed page, the Michael Gersons and the Jennifer Rubins have been gradually phased out in favor of explicitly red-meat lunatics like Hugh Hewitt, Ann Coulter and Marc Thiessen.

You see, out here in the real world. it's no big secret what sort of toxic drivel Trump-loving Republican really want to read when they crack open their paper in the morning. 

And however objectively corrosive it might be to our democracy, to keep from going under, the Illinois state capitol's daily paper is gonna keep feeding it to them until they board the place up and auction off the artwork and office equipment.  

Behold, a Tip Jar!


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