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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Politics and Reality Radio: Whether Trump Is Mentally Ill May Be the Wrong Question; A Former Prosecutor on Wrongful Convictions

This week, Joshua Holland talks about the #TrumpShutdown.

Then we're joined by Richard Friedman, a professor of clinical psychiatry and director of the Psychopharmacology Clinic at Weill Cornell Medical College, who says that speculation about Trump's mental health miss the point given that anyone can see he's unfit for office.

Then we welcome Mark Godsey, a legal scholar at the University of Cincinnati School of Law and co-founder of the Ohio Innocence Project. Mark discusses his new book, Blind Injustice: A Former Prosecutor Exposes the Psychology and Politics of Wrongful Convictions.

Southern Culture on the Skids: "Nitty Gritty"
Eek-a-Mouse: "Long Time Ago"
The Wedding Band: "Lonely Hearts"

As always, you can also subscribe to the show on iTunes, Soundcloud or Podbean.


The very best thing about Trump's first year in office

by digby

For me anyway. Trump is the first president since Dwight D. Eisenhower not to visit California in the first year in office.

Think about that. It's the most populous state in the union --- and he even has a golf club here here in LA at which he could make one of his regular personal appearances and pocket the money.

He knows the protests would be enormous. He knows we loathe him with every fiber of our beings.

It makes me proud to be a Californian.

That picture above was taken last May at Trump's Palos Verdes golf course here in LA.

A group calling itself “Indivisible San Pedro” corralled the crowd, which included babies as young as 1½, young children and retirees, to a public park nestled within the golf course around 9 a.m.

It took the flash mob about 15 minutes to form the 30-foot-tall letters, after which they sang “God Bless America,” said Peter M. Warren, a retired journalist and member of the group.



Just kiss his ring it's all he cares about

by digby

People are figuring this out. But since he's so unstable and stupid, it probably won't work anyway:

As South Korea presses ahead with efforts to bring a large North Korean delegation to the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang next month, it is willingly agreeing to North Korea’s demands.

But Trump, a former businessman who prides himself on being a masterful negotiator, is claiming — and getting — most of the credit for the sudden burst of Olympics-related diplomacy between the two Koreas.

During a Jan. 4 phone call in which the South Korean leader briefed the American president on the plans for talks with North Korea, Trump asked Moon to publicly give him the credit for creating the environment for the talks, according to people familiar with the conversation.

(In these conversations, Trump calls his counterpart “Jae-in” — an unimaginable informality in Korean business etiquette. Moon calls Trump “Mr. President.”)

He is Moon's superior, obviously. And he demands respect. That is what he meant when he said he would have the world respect America again. What could go wrong?

Later that night, Trump tweeted that the talks wouldn’t be happening “if I wasn’t firm, strong and willing to commit our total ‘might’ against the North.”

At a news conference six days later, Moon agreed Trump deserved “huge credit” for the talks.

This is what he wants. And in some cases it's the best way to get to a decent policy. But since he's a mercurial moron, there's no way to know if it's going to stick.

And the damage this charade does to our country is substantial. Forcing everyone to pretend the King is "winning" just to survive opens the door to the kind of palace intrigue we are seeing with Tom Cotton, Stephen Miller and John Kelly manipulating him for their own authoritarian purposes.

You may think Trump is essentially a buffoon. They aren't. They are something much, much darker.



Approval at year one

by digby

The latest ABC/Washington Post poll:

A year in the presidential spotlight hasn’t been kind to President Donald Trump: His approval rating is the lowest in modern polling for a president at this point, with deep deficits on policy and personal matters alike. Strikingly, the public divides evenly on whether or not he’s mentally stable.

That question aside, a lopsided majority, 73 percent of those polled, rejects Trump’s self-assessed genius. Seventy percent say he fails to acquit himself in a way that’s fitting and proper for a president. Two-thirds say he’s harming his presidency with his use of Twitter. And 52 percent see him as biased against blacks -- soaring to 79 percent of blacks themselves.

Just 36 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s job performance, while 58 percent disapprove, essentially unchanged since midsummer. Next lowest at one year was Gerald Ford’s 45 percent in 1975; average pre-Trump approval -- since Harry Truman’s presidency -- is 63 percent.

Women are especially critical of Trump in this poll, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates: A mere 29 percent approve of his work, vs. 44 percent of men. And a remarkable 55 percent of women doubt Trump’s mental stability.

Americans more likely to blame Trump, Republicans if government shuts down: Poll
Trump’s signature achievement, the new tax law, is unpopular; 60 percent say it favors the wealthy (even most well-off Americans say so), and the public by a 12-point margin, 46 to 34 percent, says it’s a bad thing for the country. At the same time, a majority celebrates his most prominent failure, on Obamacare; 57 percent say the program’s continuation is a good thing.

A vast 87 percent support the DACA immigration program that Trump ended and whose fate in Congress is uncertain -- including two-thirds of strong conservatives, three-quarters of evangelical white Protestants and as many Republicans, core Trump groups. And 63 percent overall oppose a U.S.-Mexico border wall, essentially unchanged since before the 2016 election.

As reported Friday, Trump -- and his party leaders -- also are at greater risk in the government shutdown, with Americans 20 points more likely to say they’d blame Trump and the Republicans in Congress than the Democrats in Congress.

In a controversy that continues to cloud his presidency, half of Americans think members of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russia to try to influence the election. About as many, 49 percent, think Trump himself obstructed justice in the Russia investigation.

Trump’s gone from 11 points underwater in job approval last spring to 22 points today, a shift that occurred by July and has stabilized since. That’s a vast swing from his 12 predecessors, who averaged 29 points to the positive after a year in the White House.

Four previous presidents -- Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and Truman – were at 51 to 53 percent approval after one year; Bill Clinton saw 56 percent and the rest ranged from 63 percent (Richard Nixon) to 83 percent (George W. Bush, after 9/11). Ratings at one year don’t predict a career trajectory. That said, a score in the 30s, this early in a presidency, is uncharted territory.

Indeed just six of the past 12 presidents ever went as low or lower in approval as Trump is now -- Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson, Nixon, Carter and both Bushes -- and all but Truman, much later in their presidencies.
Compared with the first ABC News/Washington Post poll of his presidency, in April, Trump is less popular generally across the board, but especially among college graduates (-11 points, to 31 percent approval), residents of the Northeast and West regions (-9 and -8 points, respectively) and whites -8 points, vs. no change among nonwhites, who started so low).



This is what more looks like

by Tom Sullivan

On Monday here at Hullabaloo, I wrote about the 1st Democratic Candidates Conference (DemCanCon) that took place last weekend outside Washington, D.C.

I met lots of what one trainer called "mom & pop" candidates: people who finally had enough and filed for office for the first time. Most have no idea what they've gotten into, but this conference offered to get them up to speed. About 250 attendees. A small, but enthusiastic group from 24 states.

After finding out where they were from and what they were running for, I asked what help (post-primary) they could expect from the local parties in their districts.

The question generally drew a pregnant pause, a sigh, and perhaps an eye roll.
They were from Maryland, Virginia, New York, Indiana and elsewhere. Almost without exception the same reaction.

It's why I wrote my For The Win get-out-the-vote primer for county officers.

Firsthand experience is behind it.

I visited a western NC county a week ahead of the congressional election (yes, Heath Shuler was top of the ticket that year) to check on their preparations. What had they done? What else did they need to do? What did they need from us?

"We're done," they said.

Excuse me?

"We called through the phone list and put out the signs."

They saw us looking sideways at each other.

"You mean, you want us to do ... more?"

Yes. On Election Night, more suddenly looked pretty good.


An experienced election protection attorney from Boston was in our headquarters on GOTV Weekend. On Election Day, he walks up 3 hrs before the polls close and says with some admiration, "I've never seen an operation like this."

When the polls closed, the county picked up two state legislative seats in a year when Democrats across the country got the shit kicked out of them.

Volunteers arrived in a 15-passenger van from Nashville on GOTV weekend. One had come from as far away as Memphis (IIRC). They'd given up on Tennessee and wanted a chance to help flip North Carolina blue.

After sizing up the place, one visitor said, "We don't have anything like this."

And isn't that the problem?

I explained it to candidates at DemCanCon this way.

If you're not in a swing state, especially if you're in a more rural county in not-a-swing-state (including blue states), Barack Obama isn't parachuting in a team from Michigan Avenue to show you how to do a high-energy, months-long, countywide GOTV and electioneering effort. The governor's race doesn't show up out there. The U.S. Senate race doesn't set up out there.

Want to know one reason why Democrats get no traction in the Plains States? I tried to email Kansas, South Dakota, and Montana counties yesterday and got pissed off. The white counties in otherwise red-shaded states are either unorganized or have no email or Facebook contact information on the state party websites (and probably not even a Facebook page not listed there). That's 40 percent of Kansas counties, half of Montana, and 70 percent of South Dakota. That's counties, not population, naturally. Okay, very rural, low-density areas I have the luxury of not trying to organize. And maybe it is because there are no Democrats out there. Even so. Those states elect U.S. senators. If Democrats don't show up to play, they forfeit. Look at south-central Georgia.

​ So, I don't want to hear "This is the most important election of our lifetime" again. Ever. Because if you think short-term, you never invest in the future. As they say around the office, "Why is there never time to do it right, but always time to do it over?" Democrats do it over — and over — on a two-year cycle, in many places starting each time from scratch.

Turnover from the DNC on down, plus killing off the 50-state strategy, keeps local teams from building over time. State parties teach local committees to pull poorly targeted call lists from VoteBuilder, pat them on the head, and send them on their way. Not good enough.

I'm sending links to county chairs across the country, bypassing state-party bottlenecks and concentrating on places Democratic muckety mucks ignore. It's a lead a horse to water effort. For The Win is not comprehensive, nor meant to be. We just need to lower the bar to higher performance.

To borrow from a movie speech, I'm doing it because there's nobody else to do it right now. If there were somebody else to do it, I'd let them do it, but there's not. So I'm doing it.

Many local committees don't do more because they don't know what more looks like. This is what more looks like.

* * * * * * * *

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

Saturday, January 20, 2018


Saturday Night At The Movies

*On this day of massive national protest , it seemed like a good night to re-run this one ---

Incident on Christopher Street: Stonewall Uprising

By Dennis Hartley

Si se puede: Stonewall rioters, 1969

It isn’t nice to block the doorway
It isn’t nice to go to jail
There are nicer ways to do it
But the nice ways always fail

-Malvina Reynolds
In the wee hours of June 28, 1969 the NYPD raided a Mafia-owned Greenwich Village dive called the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar on Christopher Street. As one of those policemen recalls in the new documentary, Stonewall Uprising, the officers were given “…no instructions except-put them out of business.” Hard as it might be for younger readers to fathom, despite the relative headway that had occurred in the civil rights movement for other American minorities by that time, the systemic persecution of sexual minorities was still par for the course as the 60s drew to a close. There were more laws against homosexuality than you could count. The LGBT community was well-accustomed to this type of roust; the police had no reason to believe that this wouldn’t be another ho-hum roundup of law-breaking deviants. This night, however, was to be different. As the policeman continues, “This time they said: ‘We’re not going, and that’s that.’ It was a war.” More than a war; it in fact proved to be the catalyst for a movement.

Exactly how this spontaneous act of civil disobedience transmogrified into a game-changer in the struggle for gay rights makes for a fascinating history lesson and an absorbing film. Filmmakers Kate Davis and David Heilbroner take an Errol Morris approach to their subject. Participants give an intimate recount of the event and how it changed their lives, while the several nights of rioting (from initial spark to escalation and immediate aftermath) are effectively recreated using a mixture of extant film footage and photographs (of which, unfortunately, very little exists) with dramatic reenactments.

Davis and Heilbroner also take a look back at how life was for the “homophile” community (as they were referred to in the media at the time). It was, shall we say, less than idyllic. In the pre-Stonewall days, gays and lesbians were, as one interviewee says, the “twilight” people; forced into the shadows by societal disdain and authoritarian persecution. As you watch the film, it becomes hard to believe that these folks were living in America (you, know, that whole land of the “free” thingie). The excerpts from a “CBS Reports” news special from 1967 (“The Homosexuals”) are particularly telling of the era. “2 out of 3 Americans look upon homosexuals with disgust, discomfort, or fear,” a grim-faced Mike Wallace intones. From the same program, an “expert” posits that “Homosexuality is, in fact a mental illness, which has reached epidemiological proportions.” (Hide the kids!) Prior to seeing this film, I had never heard of the goings-on in California’s Atascadero State Hospital in the 50s and 60s, where gay inmates were given “cures” straight out of A Clockwork Orange (or the Guantanamo handbook, for that matter). Lobotomies, sterilizations, and even castrations were involved (one interviewee refers to the facility as “The Dachau for Queers”). Gee, what do you suppose those Stonewall patrons were all so pissy about? Why didn’t they just go live in Russia?

Perhaps not so surprising are the recollections that the media wrote off the incident as an aberration; little more than a spirited melee between “Greenwich Village youths” and the cops (“Homo Nest Raided, Queen Bees Are Stinging Mad”, the N.Y. Sunday News headline chuckled the following day). The film culminates in the story of the first commemorative marches the following year, which were more furtive and politically charged affairs than the relatively festive and celebratory street parties that the pride parades have become (not that there’s anything wrong with that, to paraphrase Seinfeld).

I think this film is an important reminder that when it comes to civil rights, America is not out of the woods yet. Not just for the LGBT community (Prop 8 being an all-too-recent memory) but with Arizona’s SB 1070 darkening Ms Liberty’s doorstep as well. And do I need to remind you about teabagger-fueled vitriol? Stonewall might seem like ancient history, but its lessons are on today’s fresh sheet. The struggle goes on…and the moving closing comments by some of the documentary’s interviewees would seem to bear this out “It was the only time I was in a gladiatorial sport…where I stood up in,” says one participant, tears welling in his eyes, “…I was a man.” And there is no sugarcoating the means to the ends, either. A female interviewee confides, “As much as I don’t like to say it, there’s a place for violence. Because if you don’t have extremes, you don’t get any moderation.” Gladitorial sport? A place for violence? Standing up for what’s right? That is "so gay." And as another interviewee points out, that’s so…American.

Note: The film is currently in limited release around the country, but I noticed that it is a PBS American Experience production, so you’ll want to keep an eye on your TV listings!

Previous posts with related themes:

William Kuntsler: Disturbing the Universe

239 pounds of jello

by digby

Well, if there's one thing we've learned in the past year it's that the presidency actually is important. This Washington Post tick-tock of the last two weeks of "negotiations" is just mind-boggling:

After the president ordered cameras out of the Cabinet Room that day, the group delved into the details. Kirstjen Nielsen, Trump’s homeland security secretary, and her staff passed out a four-page document on the administration’s “must haves” for any immigration bill — a hard-line list that included $18 billion for Trump’s promised border wall, eliminating the diversity visa lottery program and ending “extended family chain migration,” according to the document, which was obtained by The Washington Post.

But one person seemed surprised and alarmed by the memo: the president.

With Democrats and Republicans still in the room, Trump said that the document didn’t represent all of his positions, that he wasn’t familiar with its contents and that he didn’t appreciate being caught off-guard. He instructed the group to disregard the summary and move on, according to one of the lawmakers in the room, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe a private conversation.

“It’s like the wedding where someone actually stands up and objects to the wedding,” the lawmaker said. “It was that moment.”

Read more »

The carnage unfolds

by digby

A year ago Donald Trump gave the darkest, cruelest most cynical inaugural address in American history. And he has lived up to its promise. It's perfectly fitting that on the first anniversary, the government has shut down over the issue of mass deportation of hundreds of thousands of Latinos.

That's what he ran on and that's what he wants to do.

Here's how he frames the DACA issue today:

That's right. The DREAMers are now "unchecked illegal immigration."

He has been all over the map on the DREAM kids. But in the end there is only one constituency that matters to him:

Trump may have gone through dozens of staffers in this first year. But his base, as represented by Fox News, is solidly behind him. And they set the agenda.

As The Daily Beast's Sam Stein wrote on twitter:

It’s probably not an overstatement to say that the length of the government shut down depends largely on a Sunday evening meeting between a select few people: the producers of Fox & Friends


Trump's twitter: year one
by digby

It remained one of his main methods of communication and it gets him into more trouble than anything else:


Get out your "Fire and Fury"
by digby

Michael Wolff was on Real Time with Bill Maher last night. Maher asked him if there was something in the book that nobody's asked him about in all his appearances:

Instead of telling Maher about something that he did put in the book, Wolff slyly teased a White House anecdote that he apparently didn’t feel comfortable including. There was one story about Trump that he kept hearing, but couldn’t confirm, even by his questionable standards.

“I didn’t have the blue dress,” Wolff said, referring to the evidence that damned Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

“It’s about somebody’s he’s fucking right now?” Maher asked, excitedly.

“Yes,” Wolff replied, but he refused to elaborate. “You just have to read between the lines,” he said, adding, “Now that I’ve told you, when you hit that paragraph, you’ll say bingo.”

I don't know who it is although most people are pointing to the above passage in the book as the likely choice. I've certainly wondered about that ...

And it might be bullshit. But considering Trump's history, it also could easily be true. He knows JFK and Clinton had affairs in the White House and he's got an image to maintain...

by digby

Sure, the government is shut down, and the corrupt imbecile in the White House is the subject of a counter-espionage investigation.

This is what Fox News is up to:

In a bizarre video posted to Pirro’s Twitter account on Friday afternoon, she can be seen standing in the woods of Chappaqua, New York, where the Clintons live — and, in Pirro’s words, where she is “on the search for Hillary”:

“You think I’m gonna find her? You think she’s anywhere around?” Pirro asks in the video. “Tune in tomorrow!”

Read more »
Governance by crisis
by Tom Sullivan

Photo credit: National Parks Conservation Association (2013)
On the first anniversary of Donald Trump's inauguration, the federal government shut down.
Once again, dysfunction in Washington has stopped the money flowing from the Beltway outward. The Great American Shutdown has returned for an encore season. For how long, no one knows. But the time spent finger pointing will probably get in the way of resolving the impasse. That and the lies.

Jonathan Swan obtained an internal memo from staff at Justice and Homeland Security detailing objections to the immigration deal. Calling it spin is generous. Kevin Drum notes that while there is a kernel of truth to every section, this is Republicans lying to themselves about what is in the Durbin/Graham proposal on DACA. Drum's notes:

And so in the fullness of time came the vote late last night whether to vote on continuing resolution the nth to provide funding for government operations for another couple of weeks. It would be the fourth temporary spending measure passed in this fiscal year, and the first shutdown since 2013. The vote did not end well. The president had to cancel his golf trip to Florida.

Politico reports:
On a 50-49 vote that closed shortly after midnight, the Senate rejected a patchwork funding measure that would stave off a shutdown for four more weeks. Most Senate Democrats and a small handful of Republicans voted to filibuster the House-passed bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he will offer a new stopgap measure that would fund the government for just three more weeks, until Feb. 8. The vote will not occur immediately early Saturday morning, McConnell said.
Despite the blame-throwing, it is not as if the president's flip-flopping on his own agreements had nothing to do with the chaos. In a Friday meeting with New York Democrat Sen. Chuck Shumer, the sitting president rejected the second bipartisan immigration deal in a week after saying he would sign any immigration deal Congress sent him. The problem is, no one in Washington knows what he wants (if he even does himself).
Read more »

Friday, January 19, 2018

He couldn't negotiate his way out of a paper bag</>
by digby

But then his base doesn't really want him to make one:

President Trump and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the top Democrat in the Senate, came close to an agreement to avert a government shutdown over lunch on Friday, but their consensus broke down later in the day when the president and his chief of staff demanded more concessions on immigration, according to people on both sides familiar with the lunch and follow-up calls between Mr. Trump and Mr. Schumer.

The negotiations between Mr. Trump and Mr. Schumer, fellow New Yorkers who have known each other for years, began when the president called Mr. Schumer Friday morning, giving the White House staff almost no heads-up. In a lengthy phone conversation, both men agreed to seek a permanent spending deal rather than the stopgap measure being negotiated by lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Less than an hour later, Mr. Schumer was meeting with Mr. Trump over cheeseburgers in the president’s study next to the Oval Office. The White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly, was there, as was Mr. Schumer’s chief of staff, Mike Lynch.

As the meal progressed, an outline of an agreement was struck, according to one person familiar with the discussion: Mr. Schumer said yes to higher levels for military spending and discussed the possibility of fully funding the president’s border wall. In exchange, the president agreed to support legalizing young immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

Mr. Schumer left the White House believing he had convinced the president to support a short, three to four-day spending extension to finalize an agreement, which would also include disaster funding and health care measures.

Then everything fell apart.

By the end of the day, as midnight struck and the government officially shut down, senators continued talking and the White House issued a blistering statement that “Senate Democrats own the Schumer Shutdown.”

Read more »

Friday Night Soother: endangered pups

by digby

Via Zooborns:

Seven endangered African Painted Dog pups have made their first public appearances at Chester Zoo.

The playful pups scampered out of their underground den, led by their mother K’mana who had kept them safely tucked away since giving birth to them on November 19. Also known as African Wild Dogs, it is the first time the endangered animals have ever been bred at the zoo.

Tim Rowlands, Curator of Mammals at Chester Zoo, said, “After spending six-weeks deep inside their den under the watchful eyes of mum, the pups have now come out and they’ve most certainly come out to play! These rare pups are incredibly important new arrivals and a major boost to the international breeding programme which is working to try and ensure a brighter future for these impressive and beautiful animals.”

African Painted Dogs are one of Africa’s most threatened carnivores and are listed as Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Conservation experts fear there may now be fewer than 1,500 breeding Dogs left in isolated regions of eastern and southern Africa.

Mike Jordan, the zoo’s Collections Director, added, “With human populations increasing in Africa and villages expanding, Painted Dog numbers have plummeted as their habitat is converted to farmland. This puts them in direct conflict with local people, where they are hunted and poisoned for killing livestock and exposed to infectious diseases transferred from domestic Dogs.”

For more than 10 years, Chester Zoo has been a vital part of the George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust African Wild Dog Programme in Tanzania, working to return healthy and genetically diverse populations of Painted Dogs back to the wild. Zoo experts have helped conservationists working in Africa to re-establish viable populations of Painted Dogs, bred in special protected breeding areas in Tanzania, in two national parks – Tsavo and Mkomazi.

African Painted Dogs are named for their mottled coat with splotches of black, yellow, white, and brown. They live in packs and hunt cooperatively to bring down prey many times their size. They are known for their speed, reaching 44 miles per hour, and their stamina during hunts.

More adorable pictures at the link.



How it was: 1/19/17

by Dennis Hartley

One year ago today ...

Just for giggles, let’s look at some of the developing news stories on this day before the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the POTUS:

Oh, boy.

Aw, jeez.

Ay, cabron.

Oh god.

Oh, fuck…

…this is no dream, this is really happening, isn’t it? I feel safe. You?

“Ignorance is king. Many would not profit by his abdication. Many enrich themselves by means of his dark monarchy. They are his Court, and in his name they defraud and govern, enrich themselves and perpetuate their power. Even literacy they fear, for the written word is another channel of communication that might cause their enemies to become united. Their weapons are keen-honed, and they use them with skill. They will press the battle upon the world when their interests are threatened, and the violence which follows will last until the structure of society as it now exists is leveled to rubble, and a new society emerges. I am sorry. But that is how I see it.”
– From the novel A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller, Jr.


We know they colluded. And they also may have committed a crime.

by digby

If you read nothing else about the Russia investigation this week-end I urge you to read this analysis in Lawfare by the former White House Counsel to Barack Obama, Bob Bauer. He breaks down in layman's terms what the actual legal liabilities the Trump campaign faces from its collusion with the Russian government. The argument always seems to be that "collusion" isn't a crime and therefore whatever happened was legal. It's true that there's no criminal statute against this vague term, but there are plenty laws against what we know they did. And, we don't know everything, not by a long shot.

This is just an excerpt. Please read the whole thing if you want to get a sense of how the Russia investigation may be playing out from a legal standpoint:

In June of 2016, the campaign invited Russians connected to the Kremlin to travel to the United States to discuss information in their possession supposedly damaging to Hillary Clinton. Don Jr. expressed enthusiasm for the offer of assistance and conveyed his view of how the publication of the material could be timed to best serve the campaign’s interests. “[I]f it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”

Trump Jr. and the senior campaign staff acted with clear knowledge that the individuals engaging with their campaign were closely associated with the Russian government and acting with its authorization. The intermediaries who proposed and arranged the meeting told him so. The emails from Mr. Goldstone stressed in the first line (1) that the government, through the offices of the Crown Prosecutor, was the source of assistance, and (2) that the Moscow traveling party was tendering campaign assistance as “part of Russia and its government’s support of Mr. Trump.”

This was months after Papadopoulos first heard about the emails–the second time that the Russians had, with evident interest in the part of the Trump campaign, offered assistance. The Russians would also have been aware that, four days after their offer of this meeting, Trump announced plans for a press conference at which new disclosures about Secretary Clinton would be made. The president seems to have believed that something sensational for use against Clinton might soon be in hand. The timing suggests that he was alerted to the offer from the Russian government and open to it. Again, the Russians would have taken note.

It is not clear what happened at the meeting, but we do know that the president participated in publicly misrepresenting the nature of the meeting and the identities of those in attendance. Bannon has expressed disbelief that anyone would think that the president was not informed in real time about what the Russians came to offer. He suggests that Don Jr. might have brought the Russian visitors to meet with his father.

The campaign dismisses the encounter and argues that the Russians came with material that the campaign senior staff did not think useful. Perhaps so; but on this question, too, we know a good deal less than the special counsel, and a final public accounting of what transpired at the meeting is still to come. But it is well established that the meeting took place, and its significance lies in part in that fact alone. The Russians knew that an American presidential campaign was willing to accept direct support from a foreign government. They would have learned from the meeting that the Trump campaign was, in fact, eager for the information about Clinton cited without specifics in the Goldstone emails. Don Jr. has acknowledged that he “pressed” the Russian lawyer for more information during the meeting.

Later in the year, Don Jr. communicated privately with Wikileaks, the known agent of the Russian government in the distribution of illegally hacked material. Once again, he confirmed the importance the campaign attached to these disclosures. He accepted from WikiLeaks a link for general distribution that would facilitate press access to the emails of supposedly highest interest. Fifteen minutes later, picking up on the theme that no one should overlook the importance of this email cache, his father tweeted out a complaint that the press was failing to report more thoroughly about this material. Another two days later, Don Jr. tweeted out the link provided by WikiLeaks. Did Trump Sr. learn about the WikiLeaks communications from his son and act on the specific request that he help in promoting the emails? And, of course, by October, the president was appealing openly to the Russians to locate and disseminate deleted Clinton emails.

These known facts support a case that the Trump campaign knowingly solicited the Russian government’s support and gave the Kremlin “substantial assistance” in achieving its electoral aims.

(1)The solicitation theory draws strength from the communications between the Trump campaign and the Russian government intermediaries, and from the surrounding circumstances. The Russian government probed for the campaign’s expression of interest in the emails; the Trump campaign left little doubt that it was interested. In fact, the exchanges between the Trump campaign and the emissaries from Moscow constitute an explicit statement of that interest in the “thing of value” the Russians claimed to have. To the extent that the campaign might answer that it never quite “asked for” anything in particular, merely agreeing to receive the traveling party and listen, the problem is that the law reaches “implicit” solicitations, not just specific requests. The rule also covers words-plus-conduct, and the behavior of the campaign–an extraordinary meeting with agents of a foreign government in campaign headquarters with the senior staff–bolsters a solicitation charge.

Moreover, the “thing of value” the Russians were peddling remained the same over the course of the year. The purloined emails were not a one-time gift to the campaign. First came the DNC material, then the Podesta stolen emails, and WikiLeaks spread them out over time, in a series of disclosures. The entire course of dealing between the campaign, the Russians and WikiLeaks reflects on the campaign’s part an ongoing strategic commitment to these revelations, and its active assistance to the Russians in using them to maximum effect. The solicitation itself did not take place on just one occasion but was confirmed over time.

(2) “Substantial assistance” is not hard to plead on these facts, coupled with those that may yet come in response to the clear and pending questions. The campaign knowingly encouraged the Russians and Wikileaks at every turn. It was helpful enough that the nominee, rather than denouncing this intervention, publicly applauded it. His tweets and those of his son were also beneficial to the Russian cause.

It also seems to have escaped notice that the campaign aided the Russians by providing access to its judgments about attacks that would be ineffective. The campaign suggests that the Russians came to the U.S. with information about questionable donations implicating Clinton, and they waved this off as of no use or interest. That, too, was valuable to the Russians, who could then turn to other, more fruitful lines of attack. The point is that the Russians and the campaign were working together, sharing information toward the achievement of a shared goal, and the alliance they forged was unquestionably advantageous to the Kremlin.

Trump Campaign Liability

A criminal prosecution will have to address questions of intent., and the president and his campaign team may defend by arguing a lack of clarity about motive in these unusual circumstances. They might stress that the campaign never accepted any cash. It played no part in the hacking of the DNC or of Podesta’s personal email account. Its intention was just to reinvigorate a relationship badly damaged in the Obama years. As all the rest is just politics, maybe some bad judgment exercised here or there, but in no way an appropriate basis for what would be, certainly, an unprecedented criminal charge.

This defense has to fail at least in the case of the Trump campaign as an entity. Let’s assume, for example, that Don Jr., inexperienced and naïve in the way of politics, did not understand legal problems arising from his contacts with agents of the Russian government in Moscow and WikiLeaks. He might also argue in his own defense the more experienced members of the campaign staff who might have warned him about these problems said nothing. What’s more, they accepted his invitation that they meet with Russian agents at the Trump Tower in June 2016.

If Don Jr. did affirmatively advise his father about the meeting, the WikiLeaks proposal for promoting the email cache, and the like, he might have even more of a reason to argue that if the nominee, his father, saw nothing wrong with the activity, the son would not have known the legal risks that he was running.

But the campaign is an organization, an entity with independent legal obligations, and does not have any such defense or excuse. The rules apply to it, as they do to any “person.” It was a large organization, and it had available legal advice required to comply with the law. No lawyer consulted about the facts known to date would have rendered an opinion that these contacts were lawful.. Either the senior staff received advice that it disregarded, or chose not to ask for advice. The campaign’s vulnerability to criminal prosecution often escapes consideration in any discussions about the likelihood of criminal liability for these campaign finance violations.

And Donald Trump? The other day the president reflected on his flexibility in the choice of friends and adversaries and in patching up quarrels. He does not see himself as having any “permanent” enemies or adversaries. “I’m a very flexible person.” For this dealmaker, what drives him is his self-interest, and at any particular time, the benefits of cutting a deal. That his potential deal partner was the Russian government, and that the bargain would involve Kremlin support for his election, may not have struck the president as materially different from other agreements struck in his and a negotiating counterpart’s mutual interest. As the president stated in July of 2017 at a news conference, “I think from a practical standpoint most people would have taken that [Trump Tower] meeting” with the Russians.

In the end, the public record suggests that the candidate, aided by a number of the senior advisers, thought he could make a deal with the Russians. For all we know, Mr. Trump may be truly offended by prior administrations’ policies toward Russia and he believes that improved relations with Vladimir Putin serve the national interest. In 2015 and 2016, he also saw the potential for his campaign in this rapprochement. He entered into a political alliance with a foreign government and there is not much in his business career to suggest that he would sacrifice the gains he perceived in this relationship to the admonitions of his lawyers.

Read on ..

Unhappy Huckleberry

by digby

Graham is pissed at Norman Bates ... er Tom Cotton. If he and Flake hold out, McConnell won't even be able to get to 50 votes. It's happened before.

The White House and many Congressional Republicans attempted Friday to pin the potential government shutdown on Senate Democrats, trying to name it the “Schumer Shutdown” after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). But their strategy was undermined by a prominent member of the president’s own party.

Lindsey Graham, the senior senator from South Carolina, told MSNBC that he is still a “no” on the legislation passed by the House on Thursday that would keep the government open for 30 days but do nothing to protect beneficiaries of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA provided protection to more than 750,000 people who were brought as undocumented immigrants to the United States as children, but President Donald Trump’s administration has moved to end the protections starting in March.

“I’m not going to continue this game with DACA recipients’ lives,” Graham explained. “A lot of people on my side say ‘What’s the urgency?’ Well, put yourself in their shoes. You’re a teacher somewhere, you don’t know if March the 5th you’ll be kicked out of the country you call home. This idea that we’ve got plenty of time — I don’t like that. If you’re one these recipients you feel like we should have done this yesterday. And 80 percent of the American people are actually with us.”

Trump earlier this week rejected a bipartisan deal that would have protected DACA beneficiaries and cleared the way for a funding bill, after initially expressing a willingness to sign such a deal. Graham laid the blame for the impasse on Trump’s flip-flop and his listening to bad advice from two people: White House aide Stephen Miller and freshman Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR).

“I think the change comes about from people like Mr. Miller,” Graham said. “Mr. Miller is well-known in the Senate for having views that are outside the mainstream.” Graham observed that the “Steven Miller approach to immigration has no viability.”

He expressed openness to solutions, but said the Trump White House is taking a “a hard-edged approach” that would not fly even in the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate. “The Tom Cotton approach has no viability here. He’s become sort of the Steve King of the Senate. I like Tom but on immigration, he’s putting something on the table that there’s just no market for in phase one.” (Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is an immigration hardliner with a long history of racist comments.)


When the president is an f-ing moron ...

by digby

As I write this Senator Schumer is at the White House trying to get deal to keep the government open and save hundreds of thousands of young people and sick children. Maybe by the time you read this they will have found a way to do that.

But when you have a racist, heartless Republican party and a moron for president, it's not going to be easy. This freashshow of a president and his henchmen can't be trusted as far as you can throw them. From the New York Times' article on that shithole meeting from last week:

As they departed the now famous Oval Office meeting where President Trump used vulgar language to disparage the national origin of some potential immigrants, Senators Lindsey Graham and Richard J. Durbin found themselves in a condition unfamiliar to such veteran politicians: speechless.

“After Lindsey and I left the room and got in the car together to come back to Capitol Hill, it was silence in the car,” Mr. Durbin, of Illinois, recalled in an interview on Thursday, describing their mutual distress at the ominous turn the negotiations had taken as well as the president’s conduct. “We had just witnessed something that neither one of us ever expected.”

That sudden breakdown in talks toward a bipartisan immigration solution has had significant repercussions. In the absence of a deal to permanently protect young immigrants in what is known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, the Republican-controlled House and Senate are now struggling to keep the government open past Friday.

And the uproar surrounding the disclosure of Mr. Trump’s language has added a huge complication, stirring outrage among Democrats and their allies and sowing confusion among Republicans about the president’s true aims. Most Democrats are refusing to help pass any temporary spending plan without the immigration legislation and Republicans are having a difficult time rounding up votes on their own.

In recounting events, Mr. Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, who has been pushing to protect young immigrants for nearly two decades, noted that he had a promising telephone call with Mr. Trump hours before last week’s meeting. Then he was invited to join Mr. Graham, Republican of South Carolina and a longtime advocate of an immigration law overhaul, at the White House for what they believed was a session to complete a bipartisan agreement to protect the young immigrants known as Dreamers in exchange for new border security and other immigration law changes.

Instead, they ran into a buzz saw of angry and coarse opposition from the president, reinforced by the surprise presence of hard-line opponents of immigration overhaul from the House and Senate.

“The deck was stacked against us as the president walked in the room,” said Mr. Durbin, who said Mr. Graham, seated next to the president, began laying out the specifics of the pending agreement only to have the meeting quickly deteriorate.

“He barely had a sentence or two out of his mouth, then the president started commenting. ‘Who is affected by that? What is this going to do?’” said Mr. Durbin, the sole Democrat of a dozen people present. “It was a very tough conversation starting immediately.”

“The language that was used, the attitude of the president, the expressions he made when it came to immigration just stunned me,” Mr. Durbin said.

Mr. Durbin, who has been in Congress for more than three decades and is no stranger to political back rooms, said the meeting was not the usual case of salty language shared among politicians gathered behind closed doors.

“It was beyond, and the intensity of the president’s feeling, and what he said there, as well as many other epithets during the course of it, I was surprised and shocked in a way,” he said, noting that upon his return to the Capitol, some colleagues commented on his demeanor.

“They said, ‘You look shaken,’ and I said I was,” he said. “After you have been in politics as long I have, it takes something to shake you up.”

Mr. Durbin said he did not personally leak details of the conversation and also directed his staff not to discuss it. But he did share his version of events with four other senators as they plotted how to proceed. Word of what happened during the meeting — and one word in particular — quickly circulated and was first reported by The Washington Post within hours.

Mr. Durbin then began discussing the meeting in public the next morning while in Chicago after the White House did not deny reports of what transpired. The president and others attending the meeting only later challenged exactly what expletives were used in describing countries that Mr. Trump wanted to prevent from sending migrants to the United States.

Though the disclosure has roiled the negotiations, Mr. Durbin said it has also provided better context of the president’s immigration stance.

“Now that the American people have a clearer understanding of the president’s motivation on immigration, it makes it easier to confront some of the things he’s suggesting,” Mr. Durbin said.

He noted that the president previously said his focus was on border security, preventing terrorists from entering the country and protecting jobs for American workers. The new comments, Mr. Durbin suggested, show that racial origin might be a consideration, as well. He said he warned Mr. Trump that singling out Haitians for exclusion was “an obvious racial decision.”

Yes, it's clear that Trump wants to deport millions of people and stop legal immigration because he's a racist xenophobe. He made that clear on the campaign trail and nobody believed him. His henchmen like Tom Cotton heard him and they are running with it.



Guns, God and Trumpski

by digby

I wrote about the Russians and NRA for Salon this morning:

By December of 2015 it was obvious that presidential candidate Donald Trump, whom most people still considered just an entertaining gadfly, had a very friendly attitude toward Russian president Vladimir Putin. Trump complimented Putin for his strength and his leadership, which he often contrasted with Barack Obama's. He denied reports that Putin had critical journalists killed, defending his admiration for the man by simply saying “I think that my words represent toughness and strength."

I wrote about it for Salon at the time, pointing out that while Trump seemed out of step with what most of us thought was the standard GOP position on the Russian leader, Putin-philia was a phenomenon among a certain sub-set of right wingers. Marie Cogan of the National Journal had chronicled the "Secret American Subculture of Putin-Worshippers" back in 2013, profiling conservatives who saw the Russian president much as Trump did: a manly contrast to the feminine, weak (and black) American president. When the shirtless Putin was pictured allegedly catching a 46-pound pike, posters on Free Republic swooned with envy:

“I wonder what photoup [sic] of his vacation will the Usurp­er show us? Maybe clip­ping his fin­ger­nails I sup­pose or maybe hanging some cur­tains. Yep manly.”

As it turns out it wasn't just those who hated Obama for being a "metrosexual." Other factions of the conservative movement had taken a liking to the Russian government and its right wing policies. Ed Kilgore at New York magazine noted back in 2016 that some Christian conservatives liked Putin, naming Franklin Graham, National Organization for Marriage leader Brian Brown, and American Family Association spokesperson Bryan Fischer among the leaders who appreciate Putin's Islamophobia and hostility to gay rights.

White supremacists have been connecting with like minded white nationalists in Russia for some time. All the top American neo-Nazis from Matthew Heimbach to Richard Spencer have spent time in Russia and extol the virtues of its white homogeneity. None other than former KKK Imperial Wizard David Duke has spent considerable time there. Duke has said that Russia is the “key to white survival."

Since so much of the hardcore right that supports Donald Trump is also very friendly toward Putin it should come as no surprise that gun rights zealots are equally enamored of the macho, white nationalist Russian leader. He is their kind of guy. And they are Russia's kind of guys too.

The Washington Post reported last spring about the remarkable outreach to American right-wing activists by a man named Alexander Torshin, a Russian banker and purportedly close Putin ally who is suspected of international money laundering by the Spanish government. One of the Americans with whom he connected was a Nashville lawyer named G. Kline Preston IV, who had longtime business interests in Russia.

Preston introduced Torshin to David Keane, former head of the NRA and president of the American Conservative Union. With a partner named Maria Butina, they began a Russian gun owners organization which sponsored events and competitions, to which prominent American gun activists were invited.

Last July Richard Engel, NBC News' chief foreign correspondent, and NBC's Kelly Cobiella broadcast a program called Guns, God and Russia in which they interviewed Preston and he made a revealing comment about why he and the far right are so enamored with Russia:
We're very similar people. In fact, you could take many Russians and put 'em in a room with people who are from Nashville, Tennessee and everybody kind of looks the same.
The white people anyway.

It was a bit surprising when the NRA enthusiastically endorsed Trump earlier than usual in the process. He wasn't a member, didn't hunt and hadn't been in the military. He did talk tough on the campaign trail about gun rights and he spoke out both in favor of "law and order" and vigilantism, which isn't something you see every day. The gun lobby backed Trump early and strong, and when he won they took credit, especially for the ad buys in the states that made the difference in the Electoral College win. The NRA massively outspent their previous election record, using a division that is not required to disclose its donors.

According to the Center for Public Integrity just before the election:
In October [2016] alone, about one of every 20 TV ads in Pennsylvania has been sponsored by the NRA ... and in Ohio, the organization is responsible for about one of every eight TV ads that have aired so far in October.
They also financed a sophisticated and expensive ground operation in the states Trump won with a razor-thin margin. NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre had good reason to take credit for Trump's upset.

Evidently, there have been suspicions among the Washington press for over a year that the NRA had received a bundle of Russian cash and on Thursday, Peter Stone and Greg Gordon of McClatchy reported that the FBI is investigating whether the aforementioned Alexander Torshin may have funneled Russian government funds to his friends in the NRA to help elect Trump.

The House and Senate investigations have also been on the trail of the Torshin-Butina-NRA connections. They have also followed up on clues in the Russia probe that touch on Russophile Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., Trump foreign policy aides J.D. Gordon and Sam Clovis, and conservative activist Paul Erickson, who reportedly tried to set up meetings among the various players, including Trump. In fact, Erickson and Butina are partners in a shadowy business whose purposes and activities are unclear.

It's unclear where all this may lead, but if it is true that Russian money was used to help finance the NRA's ad campaign, somebody's got some explaining to do. All these right-wingers may love Vladimir Putin's policies against gays and Muslims, appreciate his manly physique and endorsement of gun violence and mayhem. Perhaps they look forward to a friendly white nationalist alliance to keep all the "shithole countries" in their places. But that desire wouldn't excuse election interference or accepting foreign money to help finance an election campaign. If the Mueller investigation has the NRA in its crosshairs, that fate could not have found a more deserving target.


One year in

by digby

Oh hey look. The public is smarter than we might think:

One reason why Trump's approval ratings remain historically low despite more positive attitudes toward the economy is that a large majority see his policies as favoring the wealthy over the middle class

Donald Trump began his presidency a polarizing figure; he ends his first year a beleaguered one.

As the anniversary of Trump’s inauguration approaches on Saturday, the president’s support has eroded, his opposition has gained energy and his party faces bleak prospects for the midterm elections in November, according to a new USC-Dornsife/Los Angeles Times nationwide poll.

Just under one-third of those polled, 32%, approved of Trump’s job performance, compared with 55% who disapproved and 12% who were neutral. That 23-point deficit represents a significant decline since April and the last USC/L.A. Times national poll, which found Trump with a 7-point approval deficit, 40% to 47%.

Looking just at residents of 11 key swing states, Trump’s standing is virtually the same — 33% approve, 54% disapprove — evidence that his problem goes far beyond the big, Democratic coastal states.

Moreover, opposition to him has intensified — 42% in the poll said they disapproved strongly of Trump’s job performance, up from 35% in April. A much smaller group, 15%, voiced strong approval, down slightly from April.

The 55% disapproval closely matches the average of other recent, nonpartisan polls; the 32% approval is several points lower than the average, most likely because the USC/L.A. Times poll explicitly gives people the option of saying they neither approve nor disapprove, which not all polls do.

Widespread disapproval of Trump’s performance has also dragged down his party’s standing. Asked which party’s candidates they would favor if the congressional elections were being held today, those polled sided with the Democrats by 11 points, 51% for Democrats to 40% for the Republicans.

Democrats have held their own supporters better than Republicans have: Eight in 10 people who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 said they definitely would vote for a Democrat for Congress if the election were held now. Just two-thirds of people who voted for Trump had a similarly definite intention of voting for a Republican.

History indicates that with a double-digit lead on the congressional ballot question, “the Democrats would be very likely to take the House” in November, said Robert Shrum, the veteran Democratic strategist who directs USC’s Unruh Institute of Politics, which co-sponsored the poll. “The Republicans could be in real trouble.”

That result comes despite the poll’s finding of widespread optimism about the economic future, which normally would boost the party in power.

The poll was mostly completed before the Oval Office meeting last week in which Trump used a vulgar word to describe African countries and said he would prefer to see more immigrants from places such as Norway. As a result, the poll doesn’t reflect any change in Trump’s standing that may have come from those remarks, which many Democrats, and some Republicans, have labeled racist.

And this:

The poll was conducted online from Dec. 15 to Jan. 15 among 3,862 respondents drawn from a panel designed to accurately reflect the country’s demographics. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of 2 percentage points in either direction. Panel members are part of a continuing research project into public opinion by USC’s Center for Economic and Social Research, the poll’s other co-sponsor.

In 2016, the poll repeatedly forecast a Trump victory in the election.
Because the USC/L.A. Times poll questions the same people repeatedly over time, it can track those defections: About one in eight people who said in April that they approved of Trump’s job performance now say they disapprove.

Most of those who had not made up their minds in April now have done so, and by almost 2 to 1, they have gone against Trump.

“The people who were ‘waiting to see’ in the spring have mostly moved toward disapproval,” said Jill Darling, survey director for the USC economic and social research center.

Even among those who voted for him, Trump’s popularity is tepid. Asked to rate him on a 0-100 thermometer, Trump voters gave the president personally an average score of 64. His policies won a score of 72. By contrast, the antipathy from Clinton voters was intense — they gave Trump a personal score of 7 and a policy score of 9.

32% approval. In a roaring economy.


Acceptable casualties

by Tom Sullivan

As expected, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay on a lower court order that North Carolina immediately redraw congressional district boundaries. The three-judge panel found them so partisan it ruled them unconstitutional gerrymanders. North Carolina Republican legislative leaders argued that such action in an election year was unwarranted. Plus, the court already has decisions pending in similar cases from Wisconsin and Maryland. Those rulings will impact the North Carolina case.

Republican lawmakers stated openly their motivations behind the current maps. “I think electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats,” Representative David Lewis said during drafting. “So I drew this map to help foster what I think is better for the country.” Partisan gerrymanders are permissible because they are not against the law, Lewis argued:

"I propose that we draw the maps to give a partisan advantage to 10 Republicans and three Democrats because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats."
The plan worked:
In 2016, the court said, Republican congressional candidates won 53 percent of the statewide vote. But they won in 10 of the 13 congressional districts, or 77 percent of them.
Whether partisan gerrymanders are constitutional may be decided in the Wisconsin and Maryland cases. At issue is whether (as I alluded to earlier regarding Maryland) Republicans drawn into safe districts for Democratic incumbents are denied equal protection under the 14th Amendment, and vice versa. Gerrymandering districts "safe" for your party treats your own voters in opponents' safe districts as acceptable casualties. Independent voters are pawns in both.

That three such cases have reached the Supreme Court speaks to the prevalence of the practice and the threat gerrymandering as now practiced poses to democratic norms. If former United States Attorney General Alberto Gonzales were arguing the case, he might consider an appeal to norms "quaint," but as we have seen with the current administration, democratic norms underlie more of our constitutional system than we previuosly realized.

The New York Times provides a walk-through of the issues at stake. In it, Judge Paul V. Niemeyer of the the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit calls partisan gerrymandering "a cancer on democracy," adding:

“The widespread nature of gerrymandering in modern politics is matched by the almost universal absence of those who will defend its negative effect on our democracy,” wrote Judge Niemeyer. “Indeed, both Democrats and Republicans have decried it when wielded by their opponents but nonetheless continue to gerrymander in their own self-interest when given the opportunity.”
Republican Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland has announced nonpartisan redistricting reform legislation as well as signing onto an amicus brief for the plaintiffs in the Maryland case.

Hogan, a Republican governor in a heavily Democratic state, is less gleeful about the practice than his North Carolina co-partisans whose motives in seeking further delay, plaintiffs there say, Republicans admit openly:
"But their true motive is as plain as day: the Republican contingent of the legislature wants to enjoy the fruits of their grossly unconstitutional actions for yet another election cycle."
And so they shall.

* * * * * * * *

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

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Donnie was a bad, bad boy

by digby

Trump is going to be in a very bad mood tomorrow. In Touch is going to publish the lurid interview with adult film star Stormy Daniels in which she goes into detail sexual encounters with Donald Trump in the last decade.

And then there's this:
Mother Jones has learned that Daniels years earlier talked about having had a sexual relationship with Trump—and in lurid detail. According to 2009 emails between political operatives who were at the time advising Daniels on a possible political campaign, the adult film actor and director claimed that her affair with Trump included an unusual act: spanking him with a copy of Forbes magazine.
“She says one time he made her sit with him for three hours watching ‘shark week.’ Another time he had her spank him with a Forbes magazine.”
In early 2009, Daniels announced that she was considering challenging Sen. David Vitter, the Louisiana Republican who two years earlier had been snared in a sex scandal. Vitter’s phone number was discovered in the records of the so-called D.C. Madam, who ran a prostitution ring in the nation’s capital. Vitter, who now is a lobbyist, was a prominent social conservative who opposed abortion and gay marriage. Daniels, who grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, told reporters she wanted to highlight his hypocrisy. She offered up a potential campaign slogan: “Stormy Daniels: Screwing people honestly.” 
Daniels was serious enough about running that she embarked on a May 2009 “listening tour” of the state and held discussions with local political consultants. Those conversations included coming up with possible campaign contributors. According to a May 8, 2009, email written by an operative advising Daniels, who asked not to be identified, Daniels at one point scrolled through her cellphone contacts to provide her consultants with a list of names. The email noted that the potential donors included Steve Hirsch, the founder of an adult entertainment company; Theresa Flynt, the daughter of Hustler’s Larry Flynt; Frazier Boyd, the owner of a strip club chain; and Jenna Jameson, the so-called “Queen of Porn.” Also on the list: Donald Trump. 
This email was sent to Andrea Dubé, a Democratic political consultant based in New Orleans. In response, Dubé expressed surprise that Daniels was friendly with Trump. “Donald Trump?” she wrote. “In her cell phone?”
“Yep,” the other consultant replied. “She says one time he made her sit with him for three hours watching ‘shark week.’ 
Another time he had her spank him with a Forbes magazine.”  
Dubé and the other consultant confirmed to Mother Jones they exchanged these emails. 
The campaign consultant who wrote the email to Dubé tells Mother Jones that Daniels said the spanking came during a series of sexual and romantic encounters with Trump and that it involved a copy of Forbes with Trump on the cover. 
A fall 2006 cover of Forbes does feature Trump and two of his children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka. 

So, is everyone still sure that the golden showers tape couldn 't possibly exist?