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Stop the institutionalization of cruelty @spockosbrain

Stop the institutionalization of cruelty

By Spocko

Below Digby highlighted a comment from Mike Godwin of "Godwin's Law"
From the last paragraph:

"But Godwin’s Law was never meant to block us from challenging the institutionalization of cruelty or the callousness of officials who claim to be just following the law."
Yes, we must challenge the institutionalization of cruelty. Now is the time to condemn the callousness of officials who claim to be just following the law. Let's rebuke the people who support cruelty. It's time to remove from office the officials who put cruelty in place in our country.


I had dinner with some wonderful old friends this evening. One wanted to understand why a certain group of people were supporting what he called "meanness."  He wasn't talking about the 30 some percent of white men and women who have been marginalized or left behind. Nor the racists or bigots. What was behind the additional 15 to 18 percent of people who still support Trump?  These people didn't fit the "economic insecurity" box.  They had money and were smart people.

We discussed people who fit this  category. Why were they still supporting Trump? I had some thoughts, I quoted from Altemeyer's The Authoritarians  I talked about the need to be seen as "tough" some men have. I covered the right wing aggrievement that Sam Seder and Digby talk about and the way the conservatives like to "piss off the liberals" that Atrios covers.

But none of those reasons seem to fit this group of people that he and his wife had encountered.

My very smart friend Sara Robinson often directs me to pieces that help explain how conservatives think, like this one. ( Why Trump country is unfazed by the child separation crisis ) The desire to understand is good because we hope understanding will lead to the changing of minds.

Explanations for behaviors are good too. It's useful to learn that some people believe in cruelty because of X, Y and Z. But even if I can't understand why someone believes in meanness or cruelty, and I haven't figured out the process to change them, I CAN still work to stop the implementation of it.

We can try to understand people and also say.

"We as Americans should not be cruel."

That people believe cruelty is acceptable is a tragedy and a failure of our institutions of education, religion and culture.  Today in our country people are working to bring more cruelty into the world.  This is tragic.

Cruelty rejects the best values of our country as codified in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Acceptance of cruelty is morally repugnant and is rejected by the major religions that people profess to be part of.

You're telling me his name is Hey Zeus? 
This meanness and cruelty will lead to future economic pain for our country. It crushes human advancement in areas as diverse as science and art. (Just look at the benefits we have gotten from intellectual and artistic refugees for years.)

Culturally the institutionalization of cruelty is horrifying and ugly.

I could go into the myth of the effectiveness of cruelty as a deterrent to immigration, but that's like discussing  the utility of torture.  I can point to all the ways that torture doesn't work, but then we are arguing about something else. It is the institutionalization of cruelty that we are doing now that is horrific.  (My friend Dr. Rebecca Gordon, has a lot to say about state sponsored torture and what it means)

One of Dr. Gordon's many points is that torture has terrible effects to all involved, not just on the person being tortured, but to the person doing the torture. 

My friend Interrobang pointed out to me that Americans never put themselves in the position of the person being tortured, just the ones doing the torture.

Americans who support cruel policies and the people who implement them don't put themselves in the position of the refugee. They see themselves as the one in power in control who can help or not help.  I wish these people didn't feel this way, I'd like to change their minds, but if I can't I'm not going to start supporting cruelty.

Watch this clip from the Majority Report by CNN at a diner in Arizona talking to supporters of Trump's policy of state sponsorsed child abuse and cruelty.

You can  see three of the ways that the people justify their cruelty.

1) They are bad guys who break the law
2) They are coming here to get our stuff
3)  "Stop picking on me for supporting cruel policies!"

I can argue with these people, point out the incorrect and incomplete facts they are holding onto. The truth doesn't always work for them, though. "I don't care if you can prove it to me, I still won't believe you!"
What we need to do at the same time is to take steps to stop the institutionalization of cruelty. Some people aren't going to come around, so we move forward away from their views into a better human and humane future.


Naming the Crisis

The important thing to understand is that the atrocities our nation is now committing at the border don’t represent an overreaction or poorly implemented response to some actual problem that needs solving. There is no immigration crisis; there is no crisis of immigrant crime. No, the real crisis is an upsurge in hatred — unreasoning hatred that bears no relationship to anything the victims have done.

- Paul Krugman "Return of the Blood Libel" (6-21-2018)

This week's featured posts are "Family Separations: Should we be horrified, relieved, or just confused?" and "You can't compromise with bullshit".

This week everybody was still talking about immigration

At times it was hard to remember that anything else was going on. On the other hand, when your country starts talking about opening concentration camps, maybe that deserves some public attention. Jesse Hawken pointed out how the national conversation has evolved since the 2016 campaign:

2016: "Come on, you're talking like Trump's going to put people in concentration camps"

2018: "First of all, I think it's offensive that you refer to them as 'concentration camps'"

Anyway, the "Family Separations" post deals directly with the immigration issue, and "You can't compromise with bullshit" was largely inspired by it.

and two cracks in the Republican wall

All along, the question facing anti-Trump Republicans has been: "Yes, but are you going to do anything?" So far, their responses have mostly been disappointing: A few congressional Republicans will tut-tut a little, and then back Trump when their votes are needed, including backing him in his effort to discredit the Mueller investigation. During the election, conservative columnists groused about their situation, but most ultimately called for an anti-Hillary vote, even if they couldn't bring themselves to endorse Trump.

But this week, two well-known anti-Trump Republicans, George Will and Steve Schmidt, both renounced their party and called for voters to elect Democrats this fall.

In an article titled "Vote against the GOP this November", veteran Washington Post columnist George Will castigated the Republican majorities in Congress for failing to put any checks on President Trump.

The congressional Republican caucuses must be substantially reduced. So substantially that their remnants, reduced to minorities, will be stripped of the Constitution’s Article I powers that they have been too invertebrate to use against the current wielder of Article II powers.

In particular, he denounced Paul Ryan, who has "traded his political soul for ... a tax cut. ... Ryan and many other Republicans have become the president’s poodles."

Schmidt, manager of John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, withdrew "my membership in the Republican Party. It is fully the party of Trump."  In a lengthy tweet-storm, he called for Democratic majorities in Congress.

Our country is in trouble. Our politics are badly broken. The first step to a season of renewal in our land is the absolute and utter repudiation of Trump and his vile enablers in the 2018 election by electing Democratic majorities. I do not say this as an advocate of a progressive agenda. I say it as someone who retains belief in DEMOCRACY and decency.

The current scandal of separating refugee families seems to be the straw that broke the camel's back.

[President Reagan] would be ashamed of McConnell and Ryan and all the rest while this corrupt government establishes internment camps for babies. Every one of these complicit leaders will carry this shame through history. ... Today the GOP has become a danger to our democracy and values. This Independent voter will be aligned with the only party left in America that stands for what is right and decent and remains fidelitous to our Republic, objective truth, the rule of law and our Allies. That party is the Democratic Party.

I doubt that either man has a large following in today's Republican Party. Their statements are important, though, as cover for long-time Republican voters who see no place for themselves in the corrupt and heartless Party of Trump, but still aren't comfortable voting for Democrats. They need to understand that they will never get back the Republican Party they have loved unless Trump and his "poodles" lose.

I've seen a few reactions like "It took you long enough" or blaming Schmidt for putting us on this road by elevating Sarah Palin, and so on. None of that is false, but this isn't the way to greet defectors. The more defectors, the better. Pressure should be on the most anti-Trump Republican who hasn't called for a Democratic victory yet, not on the one who just did.

The leaders of Republican Majority for Choice also announced that they were leaving the party. This is a little less shocking, because it is so overdue. Susan Bevan and Susan Cullman seem to be the last people to realize that the GOP has no place for pro-choice activists.

but I got something wrong last week

Last week I falsely attributed a white supremacist quote by Richard Spencer to White House Advisor Stephen Miller. It was an honest, sloppy mistake: The Vanity Fair article I linked to was about Miller, but it quoted Spencer, attributing the quote to "he". I was reading too quickly and thought "he" referred to Miller, which it obviously didn't on closer examination. (No fault to VF.) Thanks to commenter Mark Flaherty for catching the misattribution. I removed the quote as soon as I realized my error.

and you also might be interested in ...

Turkey, our NATO ally, took another step towards authoritarianism. President Erdogan won Sunday's election, in spite of some polls that indicated he might be in trouble. So far, I'm not seeing accusations of fraud.

As I've been predicting, Republicans are responding to the budget deficit their tax cut created by calling for cuts in Medicare. They want you to pay more for medical care when you get old, so that rich people and multinational corporations and Donald Trump can pay lower taxes. It's a more-or-less direct transfer of wealth from you to them.

Josh Marshall's critique of Trump's negotiating style is worth a read. Basically, he is building on a point made several other places, including the NYT and the Calculated Risk economics blog: You have to negotiate differently when you're going to face the same players in future deals. In one-time deals, like on a used-car lot, you can get an advantage through bluffing, lying, and threats (like the threat to walk away). But situations where you are bound to the other party in some way (union/management, or any firm with its major clients and suppliers) call for a whole different toolkit, because you're not just trying to grind the other party into the dust, you need to build trust, and work towards mutually beneficial agreements that continue into the future.

If you’re going to be dealing with the same players again and again, using threats or bad faith to make a one-sided deal really isn’t necessarily in your longterm interest. Because you’re going to have to deal with that cheated player again.

When we deal with allies like Canada or Germany, or even with rivals like China or Russia, the point isn't to make a one-time "great deal" and walk away with the profit. Because unless we conquer the world, we'll have to keep going back to these same players and making new deals.

The Washington Post's editorial board points out something else about Trump's international trade negotiations: You can't fight a trade war against the whole world at the same time.

The U.S. position regarding China would be stronger if Beijing faced a united front that also included Europe, Japan, Mexico and Canada. As it is, Mr. Trump is threatening them with large tariffs as well, driving them to explore closer relations with Beijing.

and let's close with something spiritual

I think I've linked to this meditation video before, but repetition is part of any good spiritual practice. This seems like a particularly good week for this practice.


He’s not joking, people. He means it.

He's not joking, people. He means it.

by digby

My Salon column today:

There is a tendency in the punditocracy to dismiss President Trump's authoritarian rhetoric as nothing more than red meat for his worshipful base, passing twitter tantrums or hyperbolic salesmanship. He's been doing it from the moment he announced his run for president when he insulted Latino immigrants as rapists and continued through the campaign when he endorsed torture, summary executions and banning Muslims from the country. Needless to say, his ongoing paeans to ruthless dictators from Russia's Vladimir Putin to the Philippines' Rodrigo Duterte to his recent love fest with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un show a genuine admiration and respect for the most ruthless and violent tyrants on the planet.

He truly admires them for their willingness and ability to mercilessly rule their countries with an iron fist. His most recent comment about Kim Jong Un, for instance, even betrays a little envy:

“Hey, he is the head of a country, and I mean he is the strong head. Don't let anyone think anything different. He speaks, and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.”
He later said he was kidding but it really didn't seem that way. After all he had absurdly stated just a couple of days before about Kim that "his country does love him, his people, you see the fervor. They have a great fervor" apparently unconcerned that the "fervor" is coerced under threat of imprisonment or death.

He plans to spend 30 million dollars to try to create some of that fervor for himself next fall:

He was said to have loved the North Korean state TV, commenting on how positive the female North Korean news anchor was about Kim Jong Un. He told former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee last week that US media criticism of his summit was "almost treasonous." That's not the first time he's said that failing to adequately praise him amounts to treason. When Democrats did not applaud his alleged achievements in the State of the Union he asked a rally crowd, "can we call that treason? Why not? They certainly didn't seem to love our country very much."

This is a man who insisted that everyone always call him "Mr Trump" when he was in business and insisted on strict formality even among his family members. As president he routinely gathers his cabinet and other members of the government to sit around the big table and robotically extol his virtues. Recall this little pageant from his first cabinet meeting:

Then there's the downright bizarre order to create a new branch of government called "The Space Force" (against the advice and opinion of every one of his military advisers) to single-handedly upending the international order with a fatuous "philosophy" that the US is some kind of protection racket and must be paid an ever increasing ransom by countries with whom we've been allied since World War Two. In these cases and many others,  he's making unilateral moves without regard to any previous understandings or agreements whether informal or subject to domestic and international law.

Over the last few months Trump has cast off anyone in the White House who might have attempted to rein in his worst impulses and is making decisions entirely by the seat of his pants. His authoritarian instincts are no longer  confined to the photo-ops.  People around him who share those instincts are growing in influence, particularly senior adviser Stephen Miller who drafted Trump's first Executive Order banning travelers from majority Muslim countries. Recall what he told John Dickerson on Face the Nation in February of 2017 when asked whether the White House had learned anything from the experience:

Well, I think that it's been an important reminder to all Americans that we have a judiciary that has taken far too much power and become, in many cases, a supreme branch of government. One unelected judge in Seattle cannot remake laws for the entire country. I mean this is just crazy, John, the idea that you have a judge in Seattle say that a foreign national living in Libya has an effective right to enter the United States is -- is -- is beyond anything we've ever seen before.

The end result of this, though, is that our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.
That too was laughed off at the time. He sounded like a North Korean General and no American could possibly take that seriously, right?

But after all the drama, all the turn-over, all the sturm und drang of the past year and half, Miller is still there at the right hand of the president. He's obviously been instrumental, along with his old boss Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Chief of Staff John Kelly, in the crafting of this abominable new "zero-tolerance" border policy with all that stems from it. And he's obviously whispering sweet somethings about that unfettered presidential power in Trump's ears.

On Sunday the president tweeted this, sending shock waves though the media and the political system:

This is more thought out than it seems. Over a month ago, Trump was telling Brian Kilmeade on Fox and friends that he wanted to eliminate due process at the border:

"How do you hire thousands of people to be a judge? So it's ridiculous, we're going to change the system. We have no choice for the good of our country. Other countries have what's called security people. People who stand there and say you can't come in. We have thousands of judges and they need thousands of more judges. The whole system is corrupt. It's horrible...Whoever heard of a system where you put people through trials? Where do these judges come from?"
There is the US Constitution, of course.And laws. And international treaties. And basic human decency. But Trump does not respect of those things. He is essentially proposing to allow the Border Patrol and ICE to deport anyone since the whole reason for due process is to adjudicate the government's assertion of guilt. If there's no due process there's no way of knowing if these "people who stand there and say you can't come in" are following the law themselves. Harvard professor of constitutional law Lawrence Tribe told the New York Times:
Trump is making the tyrannical claim that he has the right to serve as prosecutor, judge and jury with respect to all those who enter our country. That is a breathtaking assertion of unbounded power — power without any plausible limit.
That's what Kim Jong Un does and Trump would like to have that too. Stephen Miller believes he already has it and that we will all soon see that "it will not be questioned."  I don't think anyone should be laughing anymore. They aren't joking.

Matthew Dowd is a Fundamentally Ridiculous Person

How well I remember how the Allies beat the Nazis with hugs.

And Lincoln broke the Confederacy with kind words.

And the United Stated federal government finally ended Jim Crow by asking the Klan reeeeeeeal nice to stop terrorizing and murdering African American citizens for attempting to exercise their inalienable rights.

A reminder that these are not the musings of some maudlin old water-head drunk sitting in his own piss wildly misremembering the past to soften his present circumstance.

This is ABC New's chief political analyst.

Behold, a Tip Jar!


Junior’s got the gun by @BloggersRUs

Junior's got the gun

by Tom Sullivan

Let's talk about power. Not star power, real power. For longer than Donald Trump has had breath, the real power of the United States has grown. Perhaps reluctantly at first. Yet over time, its ability to lead, to project power, and its power to wrestle, often painfully, with its many imperfections and improve itself has made it the light symbolized by the torch held aloft in New York harbor.

Spoiled, immature, needy, insecure, manipulative (I could go on), Donald Trump has cultivated star power most of his life, but until now he has never had real power. He does not know how to wield it. Yet he craves more of what he plainly does not know how to use.

At #GunFAIL, David Waldman compiles hundreds of incidents of death and injury suffered by people mishandling firearms. For all gun owners' claims to being "responsible," most of the incidents seem to stem from unsafe handling of firearms by people with insufficient regard for their power. Many are law enforcement professionals. Many incidents involve children wounded or killed when they picked up their parents' unsecured guns.

Imagine the terror of a mother walking into a room and finding her toddler playing with a loaded weapon, knowing it could go off in the seconds before she can cross the room and take it away. Now imagine U.S. allies across the planet realizing the American people have been similarly careless.

You probably don't have to imagine. Glance at the president's Twitter account or watch one of his rallies. When he's not referring to himself in the third person, the person sworn to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States is issuing statements like this:

Foreign policy consultant Molly K. McKew writes in the Los Angeles Times that Europeans are dumbstruck that at the hands of Trump America is alienating the very allies that make it a superpower. Because its power lies not simply in its military and economy:
Our allies are unnerved. In the midst of starting trade wars (and personality wars) with Canada and Europe, Trump stormed out of the G7 in Charlevoix, removing his signature from the joint communique. His bullying was captured in a now-famous photo of the American president sitting petulant and isolated, surrounded by irritated peers, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel leaning in.

In Singapore, Trump issued fatuous praise for North Korean tyrant Kim, who — with the complicity of Russia and China — has starved his people in order to build nuclear weapons to threaten the United States. The president’s pledge to end military exercises on the Korean Peninsula delivered to North Korea, Russia and China a prize they have wanted for decades, for which the United States got nothing in return. Our Asian allies were left as shaken as our European ones.

Events inside the U.S. give them more reason for trepidation.
In Europe in particular the images of child migrant detention camps read as a data point in a pattern of troubling behavior. Trump spurred a rally of his supporters to scream about migrants being “animals,” and he talks about them “infesting” the country. When former CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden warned of Nazi echoes in Trump’s “zero tolerance policy”, many Americans objected to the comparison. In Germany, however, and in nations that were captive to the U.S.S.R., people nodded. They remember the 1930s, and what it was like to wake up in a country that had slowly gone mad. And they hear that “following silence” from America.
Perhaps their experiences inform their perception of the risk more than does ours. "Responsible" Americans have handed the equivalent of a toddler the equivalent of a very large, loaded gun.

Meantime, "very serious people" insist in the face of what the world can see as a clear and present danger that we maintain decorum. Asking Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave a restaurant or chanting until Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen abandons her dinner is beyond the pale. Even when what prompted the protests was their complicity in abducting infants and toddlers and holding them hostage in cages as leverage to get their migrant parents to give up their right to request asylum.

Shouting is not my style. "Nevertheless," writes Jennifer Rubin, "it is not altogether a bad thing to show those who think they’re exempt from personal responsibility that their actions bring scorn, exclusion and rejection." I prefer the Stephen-King creepiness of entire restaurants going silent when a Trump staffer enters. The only conversation audible would be Every Word they speak. If anything, shunning is so conservative an approach to expressing social disapproval, not even the Washington press corps could find fault. (I kid.) Don't like it? Then as conservative parents might say, you should have thought of that before you did X.

November cannot and may not come soon enough.

* * * * * * * *

For The Win 2018 is ready for download. Request a copy of my county-level election mechanics primer at tom.bluecentury at gmail.


Things Rick Blaine Never Said in Casablanca


Newt’s key mechanism of control

Newt's key mechanism of control

by digby

In which Newt Gingrich scolds people for incivility:

No, no, no, Newt. You wrote the book:

Language: A Key Mechanism of Control

Newt Gingrich's 1996 GOPAC memo

As you know, one of the key points in the GOPAC tapes is that "language matters." In the video "We are a Majority," Language is listed as a key mechanism of control used by a majority party, along with Agenda, Rules, Attitude and Learning. As the tapes have been used in training sessions across the country and mailed to candidates we have heard a plaintive plea: "I wish I could speak like Newt."

That takes years of practice. But, we believe that you could have a significant impact on your campaign and the way you communicate if we help a little. That is why we have created this list of words and phrases.

This list is prepared so that you might have a directory of words to use in writing literature and mail, in preparing speeches, and in producing electronic media. The words and phrases are powerful. Read them. Memorize as many as possible. And remember that like any tool, these words will not help if they are not used...

Often we search hard for words to define our opponents. Sometimes we are hesitant to use contrast. Remember that creating a difference helps you. These are powerful words that can create a clear and easily understood contrast. Apply these to the opponent, their record, proposals and their party.

abuse of power
anti- (issue): flag, family, child, jobs
"compassion" is not enough
criminal rights
failure (fail)
permissive attitude
punish (poor ...)
red tape
status quo
urgent (cy)

A few of his greatest hits:
There is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us. (2008)

The secular-socialist machine represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did. (2010)

The mother killing her two children in South Carolina vividly reminds every American how sick the society is getting and how much we have to have change. I think people want to change, and the only way you get change is to vote Republican. (1994)

People like me are what stand between us and Auschwitz. (1994)

Democrats will bring to the United States the joys of Soviet-style brutality and the murder of women and children. (1980s)

These people [Democrats] are sick. ... They are so consumed by their own power, by a Mussolini-like ego, that their willingness to run over normal human beings and to destroy honest institutions is unending. (1989)


Bad faith should not be rewarded with the benefit of the doubt

Bad faith should not be rewarded with the benefit of the doubt

by digby

Hey, remember that time Chuck and Nancy and Lindsey and Donald all got together to fix DACA and provide funding for Ann Coulter's wall? And remember when they struck that deal and everyone was celebrating this new era of bipartisan comity until Stephen Miller and John Kelly told Trump he was being a great big wuss puss so he ostentatiously tore up the deal and told the whole group to go to hell? Yeah, I figured you'd remember that.

Well, now he's blaming Democrats for failing to pass a bill out of the House that doesn't need any Democratic votes. (It won't pass because Trump's buddies in the Freedom Caucus don't think it causes enough pain and agony.) And now we have fatuous fools like GOP Congressman Michael McCaul backing him up for the benefit of idiot Trump voters who watch Fox when asked if Trump is off base with his blame game:

"Well, I think our family needs to come together, but the fact is every Democrat voted against a very rational DACA fix. They've been talking about DACA for a year now, and we had a bill on the floor that would resolve this issue, legalize the DACA kids, and yet every one of them voted against that. I don't think that's operating in good faith either.

And I also think it's important on the border security piece — I've been doing this since I was a federal prosecutor in Texas to chairman of this committee — to deliver on the President's campaign promise, to build the wall, the technology and get the border secure."

Sorry. These Republicans made this toxic, poisonous bed and they have to lie in it. The bill in questions would have curbed legal immigration, given DACA recipients a temporary reprieve so that Trump can hold the futures of 800 thousand kids over their heads as a weapon, and funded his stupid goddamned wall. And he probably wouldn't have signed it anyway.

This is all police state crapola and Democrats are doing the right thing by resisting the urge to "negotiate" with the cheating conman in the White House again.


“We gutted it”

"We gutted it"

by digby

He loves to talk about "gutting", usually in a literal sense when he luridly describes people being slashed, stabbed, cut etc. He gets very stimulated by it.

But he made a huge mistake yesterday in Nevada using that term in a different context:

It may seem obvious that this is a loser for Trump and new survey results from Peter Hart bear that out. People are particularly upset by the administration's decision not to defend the law's ban on insurance companies discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions.

I think it's quite likely you're going to be seeing that "gutted" comment in some ads this fall.

And once again, I have to wonder about the soulless assholes who clap and cheer for this cretin slamming John McCain and bragging that he has gutted the health care system. Who does that?


It’s a media show, Glenn

It's a media show, Glenn

by digby

Brian Stelter is the media reporter for CNN. For some reason Glenn Beck got offended when he asked him about his media company:

They are so used to being fluffed by fellow wingnuts that they've lost the capacity to live in the real world.


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