Republicans

Why Republicans Are Unlikely To Impeach Trump

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 06/06/2018 - 3:57pm in

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Republicans

This is why the bar for impeachment is so high.

In Alabama, GOP voters delivered a rebuke to incumbent Rep. Martha Roby, who is headed for a runoff against former congressman Bobby Bright — whom Roby defeated in 2010 when Bright held office as a Democrat.

Roby angered constituents by un-endorsing then-candidate Donald Trump after the 2016 release of the “Access Hollywood” tape in which he bragged about groping women. In TV ads, Bright accused Roby of “[turning] her back on President Trump when he needed her the most.”

The Access Hollywood tape was the “grab them by the pussy” tape.

The base supports Trump. You have to get past the base in primaries to be a candidate in the general. This is why the fact that Democratic primary voters are basically ok with Democrats makes change from the left hard: they did mostly vote for Hillary, Bernie’s won independents.

The right did take over the Republican party, and they did it by winning primaries. Every recent attempt by the left to do the same in the Democratic party has failed.

Trump has very consistently acted to frame Mueller’s investigation as partisan, so that whether to impeach him becomes a political decision. In any Congress where Republicans have enough votes to stop impeachment, it will be very hard for Republicans to vote to impeach Trump: doing so will mean a serious primary challenge they may well lose.

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Cartoon: Bourgeois bubbas

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 15/05/2018 - 9:50pm in

One of the biggest intellectual scams perpetrated by the right is the idea that supporting an inclusive, pluralistic vision of America somehow makes one an "elite." As a public school-educated daughter of teachers who grew up in a rural area, I especially resent hearing this from blue-blood multimillionaire frat boy types like Tucker Carlson. I mean, check out the Orwellian absurdity of the screenshot below (from Media Matters).

TuckerCarlsonScreenshot.jpg

Unfortunately, many progressives have internalized the "elite" label which is foundational to conservatives' victimization narrative. Think of the language they've popularized over the years. There's David Brooks' "Bobos in Paradise," which mocked "bourgeois bohemians." There's the vapid insult "limousine liberal." Both terms imply a kind of hypocrisy; yet I would argue that there's nothing wrong with progressives having money so long as they put that money towards addressing inequality and vote accordingly. Meanwhile, no such term exists to describe these wealthy posers on the right who fight policies that might actually help ordinary workers at every step.

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Follow me on Twitter at @JenSorensen

Cartoon: If Watergate happened with today's media

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 06/02/2018 - 11:50pm in

I was busy gestating during the Watergate crisis, and not paying much attention to the news, but hopefully this re-creation will resonate with people who lived through it. This comic was of course inspired by the Nunes memo, about which an objective headline might look something like: “Republicans release piece of garbage intended to mislead public about the Russia investigation.”

An amazing and highly-relevant detail that should be household knowledge but that I learned only this week: the origins of Fox News can be traced back to the Nixon White House. The Nixon administration wanted more favorable coverage in the media and hatched the idea of creating a pro-GOP news network. Roger Ailes offered to do it, though it took some 25 years for the network to actually materialize. Via the late Gawker (which was sued out of business by billionaire Trump backer Peter Thiel):

But according to a remarkable document buried deep within the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, the intellectual forerunner for Fox News was a nakedly partisan 1970 plot by Ailes and other Nixon aides to circumvent the “prejudices of network news” and deliver “pro-administration” stories to heartland television viewers.

The memo—called, simply enough, “A Plan For Putting the GOP on TV News”— is included in a 318-page cache of documents detailing Ailes’ work for both the Nixon and George H.W. Bush administrations that we obtained from the Nixon and Bush presidential libraries.

Flash forward to February 1, 2018. Fox’s Geraldo Rivera tells Sean Hannity “Nixon never would have been forced to resign if you existed in your current state back in 1972, ’73, ’74.” (Hat tip to commenter MiketheLiberal who alerted me to this development, which I’d missed).

Between the corrupt Fox and an intimidated/lobotomized mainstream media deathly afraid of showing “liberal bias,” we have a crisis of journalistic ethics on our hands, one that deeply threatens American democracy and, ultimately, the freedom of the press itself.

(Full disclosure: I currently do editing work for the company that used to publish Gawker.)

Follow Jen on Twitter at @JenSorensen

SYNDICATED COLUMN: Democrats Could Lose Again in 2018

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 03/02/2018 - 9:23am in

Related image

You’re reading this, so you probably follow political punditry. And if you follow political punditry, you’ve been hearing the usual corporate suspects predict that one of two things will happen in this fall’s midterm elections: either the Democrats will win big (win back the Senate), or they’ll win really big (the House too). Outta the way, Congressional Republicans: here comes the Big Blue Wave!

Of course, these are the same clowns who called it big for President Hillary. Yet on and on they yammer, and we have to listen to them since big-money political media won’t hire anyone who has a clue.

Interestingly, there are early warning signs — just as there were throughout the 2016 presidential race — that Democrats may be counting their electoral chickens before they’re aborted.

“The Democratic advantage on the generic congressional ballot, which asks people whether they’ll vote for Democrats or Republicans for Congress, has dwindled since the heart of the tax debate in December,” Nate Cohn reports in The New York Times. “Then, nearly all surveys put Republicans behind by double digits. Now, poll averages put the Democratic lead at only around six or seven percentage points…the last two weeks of polls have gone further than a reversion to the mean. They’re arguably the best two weeks of polls for Republicans since the failure of the Senate health care bill in July. A highly sensitive poll average — like the FiveThirtyEight tracker — might put the Democratic lead down to roughly six points, basically the lowest level since the spring.”

As Cohn notes, there are nine long months to go before November. Things can and will change. Historically, the party in power usually gets “shellacked” during midterm elections. Democrats hope that voters will punish GOP senators and representatives as proxies for their party’s incredibly unpopular standardbearer.

People hate Trump. Yet Democrats have good cause for concern. Americans vote their pocketbooks, and their wallets are feeling better than they have in a long time. Unemployment hasn’t been this low since 9/11 — to the point that employers are complaining about labor shortages. Consumer confidence hasn’t been this high since Bill Clinton was president. Most people don’t own stocks, but the Dow is soaring — and that’s usually better for jobs than the other way around. Fuel prices have been lower. Like it or not (I don’t), the GOP’s tax bill is becoming more popular.

Given what a turd Trump is, you’d think the booming economy might not be enough to keep voters from turning out against incumbent Republicans this fall. But you’d be forgetting the Democratic Party’s inimitable talent for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

The Democrats are still hobbled by the same internal divisions that led to Clinton’s defeat. The Bernie progressives have the energy and the momentum but the DNC is still under the Clintonista jackboot. In most Republican districts, the Democratic challenger is a corporate right-winger Bernie’s peeps won’t care enough to drag themselves to the polls on a rainy Tuesday in November. A lot of them (women, people of color) play to identity politics over class-based populism — that was a loser in 2016, and it could easily bomb again this year.
The biggest issue for the Democrats is their lack of issues or, more precisely, their lack of a coherent platform of policies with which to unify scores of local campaigns into a national referendum, as Newt Gingrich did for the GOP with his Contract for America in 1994.

What would the Dems do if they got their sweep? No one knows.

Would they impeach Trump? They’re not saying.

Would they repeal the Trump tax law? Probably not (but they should say they would).

Would Democrats push for a higher minimum wage? A national abortion-rights bill? Cutting back NSA surveillance? Bringing back troops from Afghanistan and Iraq? Closing Gitmo? Probably none of the above — so why would left-of-center voters get excited about more of the same?

Democrats aren’t promising anything. Voters may take them at their word — and let the Republicans keep on keeping on.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall) is co-author, with Harmon Leon, of “Meet the Deplorables: Infiltrating Trump America,” an inside look at the American far right, out now. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

Media Racism: Islamists Are Terrorists, but White Fascists Are ‘Loners’

Mike put up a piece on his blog today, commenting on the distinction the lamestream media makes between White and Muslim terrorists. He was discussing the coverage of Darren Osborne, the islamophobe who deliberately drove his car into a crowd of worshippers leaving two mosques in London. Osborne had become obsessed with killing Muslims after watching a documentary on the Muslim grooming gangs and radicalised by following various anti-Islamic groups, including the notorious Britain First, on the net.

What drew Mike’s ire was the way Osborne was described as a ‘loner’, in sharp contrast to the various Islamist mass murderers, who were rightly described as terrorists. They were. So is Osborne. He killed and maimed innocent people for a political ideology. And there is no difference in the pattern of his radicalisation from the Islamists. Many of them were self-radicalised, turning to hatred and violence by following the propaganda spewed over the internet by groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS. They were described as ‘lone wolves’, which I think is how the Islamists themselves want to promote them and their actions.

But White killers like Osborne aren’t described as what they are – terrorists.

Mike wonders if this was propaganda. And he has a Tweet by Tom London, who also comments on this distinction, and makes the point that to understand these peoples’ action, you need to understand the causes.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/02/02/white-terrorist-described-as-loner-by-mainstream-media-propaganda/

Mike and Mr London aren’t the only people, who’ve noticed this peculiar double standard. The American left-wing and progressive news shows – The Young Turks, in particular, – have also commented repeatedly on the way the media in America also makes this distinction. Whites are ‘loners’, Muslims are ‘terrorists’. And Islamist terrorism is taken very seriously. As it should. White racist terrorism should also be treated in the same way. In fact, it deserves more attention and effort to combat it, as there’s actually more of it than Islamist violence. But Trump’s decided to just about close down the parts of the FBI dedicated to monitoring and tracking White supremacist terrorist organisations. Of course, some of this is self-interest for Trump, as he’s received strong backing from White Supremacist groups, most notably the Alt-Right. Which has its own gang of violent, SA-type thugs in the ‘Proud Boys’, who believe that combating the threat to White America means going out and beating up Anti-Fascists.

But there’s a wider, underlying assumption here. It’s that White America and Britain is tolerant and non-racist, and that the threats to British and American society come from outside. From the ‘unassimilable immigrants’ the Daily Mail, Express and the Torygraph talked so much about under Thatcher, and continue to discuss in those terms. And when the Scum declares that we are a tolerant society, attacking a White racist outrage, you have to be amazed at their hypocrisy. This is a paper that never missed a trick to vilify Blacks and other ethnic minorities. Nearly twenty years ago Private Eye ran a piece about the rag’s double standards, pointing out that there had been 19 complaints against the Scum for racism upheld by the Press Complaints Commission, as was.

Now I don’t doubt that most Brits now aren’t racist, although there still is lingering prejudice, particularly towards Muslims. Some of that is the result of the War on Terror and Israeli propaganda – when the word ‘terrorist’ began entered widespread use in the 1960s-70s, it was always in the context of Muslim and Palestinian/Arab terror. It was the deliberate use of language to present Israel as the noble, wronged party, standing against murderous fanatics. Who were, as orientals, terrible others to be feared and hated. And some of it comes from the real fanatics, who organised demonstrations demanding the death of Salman Rushdie and the Pope, waving banner proclaiming that we would soon be visited for our crimes by the jihadis. And some of this is media bias, as the counterdemonstrations organised by far more tolerant, liberal Muslims against the bigots, firebrands and wannabe mass murderers didn’t receive nearly so much coverage.

There are also dangers with accusing White society en masse of racism. Nobody likes to be told they’re racist, and I’m afraid some of the self-proclaimed anti-racist and Black and ethnic minority advocacy groups did go too far in claiming that British racism was endemic and widespread. Some of them really did give the impression that they regarded all White people as racist. And this has provoked a backlash. Way back around 2004 the Spectator ran a piece, ‘Blackened Whites’, attacking anti-racist groups for unfairly smearing the White British majority, and particularly White men. It was the Tories attempt to use the Republicans’ tactic of appealing to ‘angry White men’, who feel threatened and demonised by feminism and the rise of Blacks and other ethnic minorities. Pushing anti-racist campaigning too far, and labelling all Whites, or nearly all Whites racist, risks further alienating ordinary people, who would otherwise be sympathetic. It plays into the hands of the Tories, who would like to present themselves as the nice, anti-racist party, in contrast to all the White proles in the Labour movement. See Owen Jones’ book Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class, for the way the media deliberately misrepresented an industrial dispute about the use of immigrant workers to see how the Tories and their lapdogs in the press do this.

But there is real racism there. The Tory party was riven in the 1980s with groups declaring their support for ‘racial nationalism’ – the ideology of the National Front and BNP. The Conservative youth organisations were notorious for it, before they were shut down by Norman Fowler and merged into Conservative Future. But these racists haven’t gone away, and neither has the anti-immigrant rhetoric. It’s still there in the right-wing press. A little while ago that side of the Tories tended to decamp to UKIP. But now that UKIP’s very definitely on the rocks, they’re all coming back. In the meantime, there’s always Boris Johnson and Toby Young to make horrifically racist pronouncements, although in fairness to Johnson, he did apologise for his comments about ‘picaninnies’ with ‘watermelon grins’.

And so a White racist, who killed and injured innocent people, simply because of their religion, gets called a ‘loner’, but not the terrorist he is.

Cartoon: The corruption cycle

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 23/01/2018 - 11:50pm in

Lost in the shuffle of recent headlines about shutdowns and porn stars is the fact that Republicans are eviscerating Elizabeth Warren’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. A case in point.

I’m going to quote from myself here, from a post I wrote last April:

It’s not big or small government that I care about; it’s smart or stupid. In other words, it’s about policy, not “the government.” Once you start doing away with government, or the idea that government regulation is necessary, you grant more power to corporations and Wall Street. Government exists as a check on abuses of power by moneyed interests. While government can be corrupt to varying degrees, the fashionably cynical belief that all government is inherently corrupt is an idea that enables corruption.

The primary way to end government corruption is through campaign finance reform and publicly-funded elections. Anti-government libertarians have not supported candidates or policies that would lead to this outcome. Gorsuch will uphold Citizens United, ensuring future corruption of politicians by moneyed interests, furthering the right-wing ideology that government is inherently corrupt. And so the cycle continues.

We tend to talk about politics in terms of individual personalities.  But I think it’s more useful to look at the broken system of incentives, which invariably compromises even well-meaning public officials to some degree. (I’m talking about Dems here; the entire Republican party is nothing but a scam at this point.) This is not to say we can’t point fingers at specific people, but the problem is systemic. And nothing is going to change without the Supreme Court.

Sadly, much of our mediascape is now terribly corrupted as well, with Fox being almost pure disinformation; I’m not sure how you begin to fix this, but campaign finance is a start.

Follow Jen on Twitter at @JenSorensen

Cartoon: See no evil

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 09/01/2018 - 11:50pm in

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GOP, Media, Republicans

This comic was initially inspired by Sheriff David Clarke’s over-the-top tweetstorm last week. He railed against “fake news” and promised to “bitch slap these scum bags.”  “Punch them in the nose & MAKE THEM TASTE THEIR OWN BLOOD. Nothing gets a bully like LYING LIB MEDIA’S attention better than to give them a taste of their own blood” he added. In earlier times, a prominent supporter of the president making unhinged violent threats against journalists like this might have been perceived as scandalous and embarrassing, but it’s just another day in the Trump era, where this kind of authoritarian rhetoric has been normalized.

Just this last Sunday, hotheaded Trump adviser Stephen Miller had an interview cut off by Jake Tapper on CNN, providing some extra backdrop for the cartoon.

Follow Jen on Twitter at @JenSorensen

Democrats Will Fix It

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 31/12/2017 - 6:20pm in

Donald Trump is pushing through radical right policies, including a tax revamp and a crackdown against immigrants. But Democrats could reverse all that if and when they retake power. So everything will be just fine. Right?

SYNDICATED COLUMN: If Hillary Clinton Had Won, We’d Be Even Worse

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 27/12/2017 - 2:16am in

Image result for president hillary clinton

What if Hillary Clinton had won 114,000 more votes in four key states? Or, what if she’d picked up the two to three percent of the vote she lost because Bernie Sanders’ supporters sat on their hands on election day? She’d be “Clinton 2” or “Clinton 45” or “the second President Clinton” — and the world would look very different.

In terms of personnel and therefore policy, a Clinton Administration II would look and feel like a mash-up of Obama’s third term and a throwback to figures who populated her husband’s White House during the 1990s. Having moved to the right since Bill’s first term, progressive figures like then-Labor Secretary Robert Reich would be out in the cold. Rahm Emanuel and Timothy Geithner could expect cabinet offers. So could some Bush-era neo-cons like Robert Kagan.

Hillary didn’t promise much change to domestic policy during her campaign. Her biggest proposal was to spend $275 billion on infrastructure, which would have left us $1.3 trillion short of what’s needed. Not that she could have gotten it through the Republican Congress.

The alternate presidential history of 2017 differs most significantly in two respects: foreign policy, and tone.

Clinton’s liberal supporters always glossed over her long history of hawkish, arguably far-right, approaches to military matters. Those who mourn her loss to Trump today have completely forgotten that she convinced Obama to back military coups against the democratically-elected leaders of Honduras and Egypt. She also successfully advised advised Obama to arm and fund radical Islamist militias in Syria and Libya, plunging two modern Muslim countries into civil wars that have reduced them to failed states. Clinton’s famous cackle after a U.S. drone blew up Libyan ruler Moammar Khaddafi’s convoy, leading to his being sodomized by bayonet on video, is terrifying.

“It’s impossible to know which national security crises she would be forced to confront, of course,” Micah Zenko speculated in Foreign Policy in July 2016. “But those who vote for her should know that she will approach such crises with a long track record of being generally supportive of initiating U.S. military interventions and expanding them.”

Two months later, another FP writer penned an astonishing look behind the Kremlin walls at the thinking of top Russian officials worried about the U.S. election: “Moscow perceives the former secretary of state as an existential threat… That fear was heightened when Clinton surrogate Harry Reid, the Senate minority leader, recently accused Putin of attempting to rig the U.S. election through cyberattacks. That is a grave allegation — the very kind of thing a President Clinton might repeat to justify war with Russia,” wrote Clinton Ehrlich.

Would Hillary’s tough talk have triggered World War III with Russia by now? Probably not. But it’s not impossible — which shows us how far right she stands politically on the use of the force.

More likely and thus more worrisome, Hillary might have leveraged the current U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan into attacks against neighboring Iran. “I want the Iranians to know, if I am the president, we will attack Iran” if Iran were to attack Israel — even if there were no Congressional authorization or a clear and present danger to the U.S., Clinton said in 2008. “And I want them to understand that… we would be able to totally obliterate them [to retaliate for an attack on Israel].” Unlike Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran has a real military and thus a real ability to defend itself — which would mean a long, costly and possibly unwinnable war.

Like Trump, Hillary would almost certainly be authorizing the construction, deployment and use of more assassination drone planes.

The one arena where most people agree that President Clinton would have been better than President Trump is presidential tone. Yes, “she does yell into microphones and speak in an overly enunciated voice—two factors that may make her seem abrasive.” But this is a woman whose campaign assigned 12 staffers to compose a tweet; they went through 10 drafts over 10 hours. There wouldn’t be any Trump-style 3 a.m. Twitter diarrhea coming out of a Clinton White House.

When George W. Bush was president, there wasn’t one morning I didn’t regret that Al Gore wasn’t there instead. Gore wouldn’t have invaded Iraq. He might not have gone into Afghanistan either. Unlike pretty much every other president, he cared about the environment.

There isn’t a single moment I miss President Hillary Clinton, though. Trump is a disaster, a real piece of crap. But everyone knows it. Because Trump is so loud and stupid and cruel and greedy and corrupt, all liberals and not a few conservatives clearly discern the true nature of his administration, and of the system itself.

If Hillary Clinton were president, the left would still be just as asleep as it was between 2008 and 2016. First woman president! Aren’t we just the best.

Meanwhile, the drones fire their missiles and U.S. troops and spooks prop up tyrants, and the filthy rich rake in their loot.

Trump gives us clarity. That is no small thing.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall) is co-author, with Harmon Leon, of “Meet the Deplorables: Infiltrating Trump America,” an inside look at the American far right, out now. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

Cartoon: Behind the red white and blue curtain

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 26/12/2017 - 11:51pm in

The Republican tax bill — and the way it was passed, in gross violation of democratic norms — resembles the hyper-corruption we typically see in authoritarian kleptocracies. As the cartoon lays out, there are many ways in which the US is moving towards the kind of dystopian state we used to satirize.

It’s not a stretch at all to note these similarities between the authoritarian tactics of the present-day GOP and Russian oligarchs. Yet I’ve noticed a knee-jerk reaction among some readers whenever Russia comes up. Some object because they see concerns about Russian interference in the 2016 elections as somehow overshadowing the fact that America had plenty of problems with its own political system before Russia got involved. To which I respond, duh. This does not obviate the fact that Russia’s efforts were highly effective. If you follow international news, it’s clear that these influence campaigns are a global problem. Of course, this cartoon isn’t even about election interference, except for the panel about Fox spreading BS about the Mueller investigation.

Another hot take that makes me groan is that criticism of Russia in 2017 amounts to “red-baiting” or McCarthyism. These people have their heads stuck up a 20th-century butt. (Don’t think about that too hard.) You see, in 1950s America, the McCarthyites were the people in power. They persecuted essentially powerless actors and writers for having political sympathies largely imagined. Today’s America is a completely different context. The people in power — virtually unchecked power, mind you — are the ones colluding with a repressive, right-wing traditionalist, crony capitalist Russia. If anything, they are the neo-McCarthyites, quashing dissent by charging peaceful protesters with felony rioting, infiltrating leftist activist organizations, and implying entire demographic groups are criminals or terrorists.

Follow Jen on Twitter at @JenSorensen

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