Category Archives: Michael F

Meltdown Of The Week

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Pretty sure that pretty soon it’s going to be meltdown of the day or even meltdown of the hour as DJT becomes simultaneously more unhinged but more willing to offer fresh material to a news cycle that just can’t quit him.

And speaking of can’t quit, nope, the GOP won’t, or can’t. Sure, individuals break off, but to date NOTHING Trump’s done will keep the lemming mass of the party from following him off the cliff. Hell, down here in the Gret Stet, one of the remaining candidates for governor proudly declares himself in favor of DJT in, I think, most or all of his ads.

Democrats, there’s no GOP hero to step in and save you/give you permission to, um, do the right thing and ITMFA. Same with the media — you feed your DJT addiction at your peril. Fake News has already morphed into Enemy of the People. Do you not get those are fighting words? What will it take to realize he’ll gladly accept real casualties?

And finally…as I’ve said previously, he’s bluffing. Yeah, his base is substantial. But it’s not a majority. Most of us still want to live in civil society, if not the civilized world.

One thousand days in…

Oh, and to change the subject briefly, obviously I’ve only just heard about Elijah Cummings and can only say I’m shocked to hear and may he rest in peace.

The Kurds Weren’t There When The Germans Bombed Pearl Harbor Either

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It’s pretty clear Trump’s not even trying to, what’s the expression, reach out, or act even vaguely presidential — his stategery, to the extent he has any, is to play cult leader to the base. Truth to them is whatever he says (hence his recent ad insisting promises made, promises kept — warning, Fox news video). Hope the media is sufficiently cowed to push enough of his narrative that it fouls the waters. If he can eke out any kind of victory, watch out.

I think it’s not a bad idea to revisit these two pieces. The first is from Jack Holmes, who cites reporter Masha Gessen in the NY Review of Books.

Holmes

It has long been clear that the president is attempting to build a genuine authoritarian movement over which only his word has any power, and which he can use to ride roughshod over the institutions of democracy. So far, this attempt has been an unmitigated success, as his supporters inhabit the same infotainment vortex he does and other members of the Republican Party…bow to him out of craven fealty.

Lies that are not merely lies, but instead serve to destroy the very concept of truth, are a cornerstone of any authoritarian playbook.

Gessen

Lying is the message. It’s not just that both Putin and Trump lie, it is that they lie in the same way and for the same purpose: blatantly, to assert power over truth itself. Take, for example, Putin’s statements on Ukraine. In March 2014 he claimed that there were no Russian troops in newly annexed Crimea; a month later he affirmed that Russians troops had been on the ground. Throughout 2014 and 2015, he repeatedly denied that Russian troops were fighting in eastern Ukraine; in 2016 he easily acknowledged that they were there. In each case, Putin insisted on lying in the face of clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, and in each case his subsequent shift to truthful statements were not admissions given under duress: they were proud, even boastful affirmatives made at his convenience. Together, they communicated a single message: Putin’s power lies in being able to say what he wants, when he wants, regardless of the facts. He is president of his country and king of reality.

Trump has exhibited similar behavior, apparently for the same reason: when he claims that he didn’t make statements that he is on record as making, or when he claims that millions of people voting illegally cost him the popular vote, he is not making easily disprovable factual claims: he is claiming control over reality itself.

The campaign is only beginning. By the time it’s in full swing, Trump might well insist he stormed the Normandy beaches. His minions will cheer along, and I don’t doubt there will be pressure on the media (with expressed or at least implied violence) to “not show any librul bias” in calling lies out for lies.

The question will be whether it works. If it does…

 

Well, That Was…Something

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POTUS as extended display of childish petulance.

I think what’s weird is that his base still eats it up, i.e., they live vicariously through Trump, and view his tantrums as something to take pride in.

Own the libs by publicly beshitting yourself.

Which leaves us with a question — are we a country of mostly MAGAts or are enough people out there sufficiently embarrassed by this kind of behavior to do the right thing, vote him out of office (and maybe suggest he get some kind of help)?

I guess we’ll find out in…just over twelve months.

American Red State Gothic

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Trump and his buddy Rudy keep flailing around like they’re in quicksand as the Ukrainian spin fails to get any real traction beyond the right wing media and the base that’s, well, pretty gullible to begin with.

I keep thinking about how the MAGAt, rural, (white), diner dwellers bought, hook, line, sinker…rod and reel…the sales pitch of someone who’s lived his whole life in New York City…who’s idea of nature is golf…while Ghouliani looks like the kind of person who’d wear a suit visiting a farm. Yeah, real red-staters.

Their elected representatives aren’t exactly open to reason either.

Which means impeachment, regardless of how it’s done (narrow versus broad, quick versus longer in duration) won’t be a coming together in bipartisan harmony. Democrats will have to move this along minus any dream Republican Hero scenario…and accept that, no, they won’t get a conviction, but instead need to use this as a political lesson to, not the lost cause (in more ways than one) MAGAt GOP base, but the people who were never very comfortable with Trump to begin with.

As for DJT himself, no, he’s not playing 11 dimensional chess. Sure, he’ll do anything to motivate his base, but claiming he’s courting impeachment is a pretty desperate attempt to polish a giant turd. Besides, his base won’t put him over the finish line…or at least won’t without a combination of massive fraud, voter suppression, and unprecedented muddying the waters. He also got a remarkably free ride in the last election (“her emails”).

And he’s still bluffing.

Smart Phone, Dumb President

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Maybe the only thing more shocking than this — which, if it was a Democrat, or, god forbid, a Clinton, would have caused Cokie Roberts to grimly emerge from the grave to voice serious concerns while official Washington went on full impeachment watch — is that it’s been bumped from the headlines by Justin Trudeau.

Mon Dieu.

Will it also get lost in the Fog of Trump? It’s starting to look that way.

So…not only is this horror show of an administration getting embarrassingly normalized…it’s making the clusterfuck that was the second Bush presidency look like some latter day Era of Good Feelings, and not the colossal twin failure of domestic and foreign policy it was.

It’s difficult to not get the feeling that…we’re fucked.

All Your Base

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Not exactly news, but the competitive North Carolina election was not decided by swing votes. The difference was large numbers of, well Trump voters voting for Trump. It happens, especially in a state Charles Pierce calls newly insane.

However, as I’ve said, Trump is bluffing. Yeah, with some effort, he or his proxy can pull out a bare victory in a solidly red Congressional District, and maybe even motivate a few die-hards who normally don’t vote at all. And in 2016, against a candidate who’d been pummeled for decades and who didn’t exactly inspire, it made for a razor thin “victory” despite a not particularly close loss.

If the Democrats don’t lose (yeah, I know)…they can win. But they won’t win by flailing about in a desperate attempt to triangulate. Trump voters are Trump voters. Reagan Democrats don’t exist anymore.

Same with undecideds. As if anyone could be undecided.

The path to victory is make your base belong to you. Motivate them, and get them to the polls. And it matters in 2020.

After that, depending on the outcome, it might not.

Some People Just Want To See The World Burn

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Via.

This should make it pretty clear there’s no sense in trying to compromise with or otherwise normalize Trump — he and his minions are fucking psychotic

The paper, which the award panel commended for its “ambitious scope, rigor, and creativity,” is the work of Michael Bang Petersen and Mathias Osmundsen, both political scientists at Aarhus University in Denmark, and Kevin Arceneaux, a political scientist at Temple.

It argues that a segment of the American electorate that was once peripheral is drawn to “chaos incitement” and that this segment has gained decisive influence through the rise of social media.

The intense hostility to political establishments of all kinds among what could be called “chaos voters” helps explain what Pew Research and others have found: a growing distrust among Republican voters of higher education as well as empirically based science, both of which are increasingly seen as allied with the liberal establishment.

Trump’s expertise, in this view, lies in his ability to capitalize on the fear of chaos. “Populist movements,” McDermott and Hatemi write, “rely on inflammatory rhetoric to create a tribal ‘us versus them’ condition — this type of environment instigates neural mechanisms from the evolutionary desire to be part of the group.”

Might Trump and his loyal supporters seek to bring down the system if he is defeated in 2020? What about later, if the damage he has inflicted on our customs and norms festers, eroding the invisible structures that underpin everything that actually makes America great?

A political leader who thrives on chaos, relishes disorder and governs on the principle of narcissistic self-interest is virtually certain to find defeat intolerable. If voters deny Trump a second term, how many of his most ardent supporters, especially those with a “need for chaos,” will find defeat unbearable?

About all I can add is most of these chaos voters don’t have the first clue of what a real crisis is, and would certainly beg for help from the government they allegedly hate if one actually hit them. Until then, they’re more than willing to set it all on fire for their amusement, at the expense of all of us…

Yet Another This-Is-Not-Normal Post

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Heading out of town for a few days, so apologies for more repeating a common theme than coming up with anything new. That said, I just keep thinking, what the fucking fuck? It’s now just another news cycle when kids born overseas to US military personnel will have to get registered as citizens (not that I’m a big fan of John McCain, but wouldn’t be surprised if this was just another Trumpian MAGA-t swipe)?…sending deportation notices to families with exemptions based on life-threatening medical conditions (how pro-life of them)? Alleged promises of pardons for bypassing, oh, just actual laws to cater to a ridiculous fantasy border wall that was going to be financed by Mexico? Blatant violations of the Emolument Clause (and the most pathetic learned helplessness reaction from the Democratic Leadership)?

Meanwhile, I’d forgotten Trump’s own sister resigned her federal judgeship to avoid further investigation of financial irregularities (imagine if that was the relative of a Democratic president).

Oh, and then the supposed paper of record published a Tea Party retrospective that was so naively wrong one of their own op-ed columnists called them out (ok, eventually they added a belated correction).

Goddamn.

The Colossus Of Toads

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So, after yesterday’s performance, does anyone really doubt the conclusions of Rachel Bitecofer? Her analysis of the 2018 midterms, in which she predicted a strong showing by Democrats, included the following

Although Trumpism has been an effective rallying cry for the GOP base, it has galvanized a previously complacent part of the electorate; white, college educated millennial women as well as all voters under age 40, who represent a far more diverse and liberal voter universe than their older counterparts

2018 is a story of turnout and turnout was powered by one thing, and one thing only: Donald J. Trump. Contrary to conventional wisdom, Democrats did not flip these Republican districts via the support of moderate Republicans due to their focus on health care. Instead, I’ll show in a forthcoming analysis of the voter file that Democrats’ sharp reversal in their abysmal midterm electoral fortunes was powered by large turnout surges of partisan Democrats and Independents. This turnout surge had profound impacts on the demographic and partisan compositions of the electorates in the competitive districts, leading 40 of them to flip on Election Day.

For better or for worse, American elections are low turnout affairs and it is increasingly clear that in the polarized era, as voters have become more entrenched in their respective parties, elections are increasingly decided by which party (and their Independent leaners) has a turnout-boosting enthusiasm advantage. Analyzed this way, contests are assessed by their turnout surge (or decline) potential. Using this metric, despite Democrats’ impressive 2018 performance, they left a half dozen seats uncontested in the 2018 cycle that may well have flipped if they had been identified as competitive by the Democrat’s campaign apparatus.

In other words, you can forget about swaying Reagan Democrats, because they no longer exist. They’re extinct. And Trump voters are Trump voters. Yesterday’s clown show accusing Jewish Democrats of disloyalty while claiming to be the chosen on (by whom and for what?) won’t change their minds. Nothing will. They are, to use some else’s term, a basket of deplorables, and that’s putting it nicely.

Shitheels might be putting it nicely.

The election will be all about who can get their voters to vote. We know what Trump is. Who are we?

This Week In Republican Values

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And these are just highlights from people not named Donald Trump.

Ken Cuccinelli slammed the door on non-European immigrants, citing the Statue of Liberty and Emma Lazarus’s poem as his inspiration.

Steve King asked what’s wrong with a little rape and incest, since that’s what got us here and put us the map.

And finally, It’s Pat is back. The original Kulturkrieger didn’t say anything particularly outrageous — that I know of — this week, but I’d be comfortable betting with his return to television, he’ll come up with something soon that, to cite/paraphrase the much missed Molly Ivins, probably sounds better in the original German.

Did I miss anything?

“Trump Has Dragged Us Into The Gutter”

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Charles Blow

We are forced to look on in horror as the power of the federal government is deployed in the service of racism: the Muslim ban, the family separation policy, children in cages, trying to build a wall, efforts to restrict even legal immigration and talk of invasions and infestations.

It is still unfathomable to me that the federal government took children away from their parents without a system for reunification, that some of those children may never see their parents again.

Even if this were only one child it would be outrageous and egregious. Unfortunately, it is more than one.

I stay stuck on this point. There is a new outrage every day, but I try to remember children. If I were one of them, away in a strange place, all alone, surrounded by strangers, and my mother or father or both were taken away, how could I possibly cope? If I were the father of a child taken away from me to who knows where, and I had no idea if I would see my child again, how could I continue to function?

Meanwhile, Trump, no lie, insists his “rhetoric brings people together.” If he really believes that, he’s bugfuck nuts.

Also, too. Biden isn’t my first, second, or third choice to be the Democratic nominee, but there’s no arguing with this. And if he does get the nod, he’ll get my vote.

Non-Debate Moscow Mitch Thread

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The debate — yawn — skipped it for the most part. Like Adrastos, I think life is too short, it’s too early in the cycle. At this point debates are cheap content for cable news. Fill between ads hawking garbage.

Besides, if/when it comes to it, I’ll vote for ANY Democrat over the lying sack of shit that’s DJT. Any of them. Even a minor/lower tier candidate.

I’d even for for an actual sack of shit — lesser of evils — because a sack of shit lying on the ground is preferable to the lying sack of shit occupying the Oval Office.

So, in place of any debate reaction, I saw Moscow Mitch is all butthurt about being called Moscow Mitch.

Well, if that’s the case, let’s hope it catches on (and if we can do anything to help)…

Moscow Mitch…Turtleneck? Turtlenik

And because I did end up catching some debate news and comments, let’s applaud Julian Castro (hahaha, “America needs Castro!”) for working it into last night’s three-hours-of-content. Good for him.

OK Democrats, That Was Your Moment Of Zen Mueller

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And as moments, or all day hearings, it wasn’t awful, despite the spin from the goddamn-I-wish-it-were-actually-librul media. Mueller showed up, he spoke — sure, he didn’t produce a smoking gun or gotcha moment, or declare there was a cancer on the presidency (in a rich, mellifluous soothing dad voice) — which caused some to declare the whole thing a draw. Both sides. Boooring.

Well, as politics go, duh. Because you’ve got an entire political party — hint, the GOP — that’s gone full cult/full Kool-Aid/full Donald Trump could shoot a man…or at least launder money/conspire with Russians/pay off women he’s had trysts or affairs with, and they’ll say it’s fine. They’re not going to give a shit about Robert Mueller’s investigation. They WILL go out of their way to slime the guy in trying to protect Dear Leader. And they did. On TV.

Funny how those optics don’t upset Chuck Todd.

But the Democrats…and unfortunately, it’s always “but the Democrats,” or at least the Democratic leadership…the leadership is still dragging it’s feet. Yesterday you had the straightest of straight arrows, war veteran, former FBI head, under oath, saying the President of the United States is a fucking crook. But they’re gonna bail on the logical next step? WTF?

No, you don’t have to hold another impeachment vote, but time to investigate the hell out of the motherfucker(s).

Political calculation? Playing that game is exactly why people go “both sides” and write off the Democrats as having no spine and no principles. Letting the GOP con you for a generation into playing GOP Lite  — or worse, GOP janitor, cleaning up their giant messes every few years — is a sucker’s game.

Act like you care. Donald Trump is a horrible human being, a misogynist, a bully, a creep, and a crook. Investigate, impeach…and especially, lead.

If you blow this, you won’t get another chance.

President Know Nothing

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“Racist Ass” description courtesy of Ted Lieu. 

In what barely qualifies as news, Trump’s re-election strategy, to the extent he has one, is letting his racist (to the bone), xenophobic, nativist freak flag fly.

Last night’s hate fest was just the latest chapter in the ongoing shit show.

Yes, Trump’s base will be fired up, and the idiot media, continuing their malpractice from 2016 (her emails!), will insist his base embodies Real America (it doesn’t).

The 2018 midterms weren’t an accident. Trump might be popular with his base, but his base isn’t enough to pull out a win.

The Democrats might be able to pull out a loss, but that’s another story.

In the meantime, sure, it’s ugly, but I’m not ready to cede the country to them.

When The Levee Breaks Breaches

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What is climate change? (I still call it global warming)

This

The storm’s timing is unique: In 168 years of hurricane records, a July hurricane in Louisiana has only happened three times, and all of those occurrences have been within the past 40 years. There’s a growing body of research that shows that as the Gulf of Mexico waters warm because of climate change, early-season hurricanes like proto-Barry could become more common. (Right now, water temperatures in the Gulf are at near-record levelsmore typical of peak hurricane season.)

More concerning than the storm’s early timing, however, is its bad timing. The Mississippi River has been continuously flooding southern Louisiana since January 6, the longest flood in recorded history for the river in this region. Spring floods aren’t supposed to last until mid-July, and after 185 days of high water, it’s unclear Louisiana could handle any more. A potential worst-case scenario could prove disastrous for Louisiana, and shows how unprepared we are for the scary new era of overlapping climate disasters.

And this

University of Georgia atmospheric sciences professor John Knox offered one of the most compelling and clear analogies to explain why an anthropogenic climate change signal is increasingly associated with events like the European heatwave. Knox wrote:

The old record for the nation was 44.1C (111.4F), from the deadly 2003 heat wave in Europe. So, France just bested its high temperature by 3 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s a lot. As with, say, 100-meter dash records in seconds, national temperature records in degrees should be broken in tenths, really hundredths–not integer values.If this were the world of track and field, a new record of this extremity would prompt immediate concerns about doping. The runner is fast, but no way is he or she THAT fast.

Welcome to the future.

2020 Prequel?

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Apologies for a short post, and one without links. However, I’m on a long overdue vacation and, um, pretty far away, with at times limited internet.

The guy in the foreground is David Vitter. Louisianians rejected his bid to be governor in 2015, but made him a Senator/Sinator in 2004 and in 2010, even after Mr. Family values proved to be more Mr. Moral Relativism.

His major re-election strategy in 2010 was insisting, without any evidence, that Loosiana [sic] was overrun by illegal immigrant hordes. Hordes that looked a lot like the refugees DJT is abusing.

I’m not a betting person, but I’d put money on Trump taking his manufactured crisis and playing a strategy of “they’re overwhelming us at the border.” The concentration camps become a feature, not a bug, and help create that impression.

Sick, depraved, appalling? Yep. But that’s Donald Trump…oh, and the entire GOP. A feature, not a bug…and a tradition.

Again, apologies for no link. I’ll be back to more normal stuff next week. Cheers.

Versus This Guy

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Prior to boarding Air Force One for his trip to Japan, Trump gave us another glimpse into what makes him tick —  voices in his head

On Wednesday morning, hours after news broke that special counsel Robert Mueller will testify before Congress in a public setting on July 17, President Donald Trump called in to Maria Bartiromo’s Fox Business show for a lengthy phone interview that was especially unhinged, even by his standards.

It was a surreal affair from start to finish. But even during its wildest moments, Bartiromo pretended to understand what Trump was talking about and acted as though he was making profound points. In that respect, it illustrated how Trump-friendly media — Fox News and Fox Business in particular — normalize an obviously abnormal president.

Shortly after the interview ended, Bartiromo appeared on Fox News and pretended as though Trump’s performance was normal.

”The president is who is he, and that’s why he has his base and the loyal supporters that he has,” she said. “He’s not afraid to say — to tell it the way it is. And he was very straightforward and I think that’s why people like him.”

And that’s the real debate. Right there. Regardless of who emerges from the Democratic Party’s nominating process, they’ll face off against a guy who regularly sounds like he’s gone off his meds, but who nonetheless has a lock on the GOP base. Fox Noise will do their best to normalize him. The rest of us will hopefully see who him for the idiot, narcissistic, lunatic crook he is.

As for last night, I’d choose ANY of them over Trump. And I’d take any of the one’s scheduled for tonight, and what the hell, I’d even take any of the two or three who didn’t make the cut.

Trump’s a nut. He must go. It’s that simple.

What They See

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Here’s as good an example as any of the sort of people Joe Biden thinks we can work with if we’ll only get back to civility.

These guys really aren’t even trying to hide how feckless and corrupt they are anymore, are they.

On ‘All in With Chris Hayes’ this evening, Republican congressman Sean Duffy of Wisconsin made the argument that a robust economy in Wisconsin during the presidency of Donald Trump means it’s perfectly okay for Donald Trump to commit impeachable offenses.

Duffy’s no James Eastland or Herman Talmadge. But do you really think he’ll reach across the aisle for any reason other than maybe to grab someone by the shirt…or the hair?

The MAGA-ts are fully brainwashed. They’re in the cult. Oddly, the media is as well, but that’s more proof they’d brag about the money they made selling the rope used to hang them.

However, there is hopeful news. Despite everything, Trump’s support peaks at about 45-46 percent in polls (and right now it’s a bit less). Of that, most are likely the cultists, and sure, it’s a damn uphill battle with the idiot media pushing the horse race, and the gerrymandering, the voter suppression, and so on. But Trump, despite all this, is weak. He only wins with another fluke inside-straight election. Playing to the base isn’t enough.

So…when it comes to civility, or whatever…nope. This election is straight up strength versus strength. From a campaign perspective, it’s pretty much over, except for who can turn out their voters. Game on.

Democratic Leaders: This Will NOT Happen

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No, Trump will not self-impeach, any more than he’d self-indict or self-arrest/self-perp walk/self-frog march. And every day you allow Trump to stomp on small “d” democratic norms, or worse, you enable his degrading of what’s left of self-government to the aesthetic of tawdry, reality-show, dictator chic.

Nor will “Republican heroes” save you. With the sole exception of Justin Amash, they’re all in. Duh. Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chao rival DJT in overall corruption, if not pussy grabbing sleaziness. The House hearing this week where John Dean was all but called a rat for choosing the rule of law and the Constitution over blind loyalty to the caught-on-tape felon Richard Nixon is only the most recent example of Congressional GOPers behaving more like a criminal gang than a political party.

Besides. Trump. Is. Bluffing. He’s. Not. Playing. 11. Dimensional. Chess. Shit, I doubt the guy can play a decent game of, I don’t know, spin the bottle, and spin the bottle might be the one game he’d like, other than hectoring, bullying, and bluffing his way to what should have been defined–or at least spun like there’s no tomorrow–by the big “D” Democratic Party as an illegitimate administration, enabled by blind dumb luck and stupid, freak rules.

If they let this clown sociopath gain any more of a toehold than they’ve already given him…then what’s the fucking point?

History will judge Nancy Pelosi…and will judge harshly if she, and sorry to harp on this, but if she normalizes Donald Trump. And every goddamned day she, Schumer, and the rest of the alleged Democratic leadership fail to object — forecfully — is another day Trump’s disgraceful performance gets more normalized.

You don’t win by playing not to lose.

The Four Horses’ Asses Of The Apocalypse

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No, you don’t have to hold an impeachment vote tomorrow, but yes, as Adrastos noted in a comment thread last week (and yeah, the reply was to me), call it what it is. Control the narrative. Trump’s already been too normalized. We’ve got blind, dumb luck to thank if we’ve not been hurt by his policies (while some people HAVE been hurt).

Move the process forward. Besides, if you do it right, you can negate any attempt by McConnell to sandbag. Investigate thoroughly, hold hearings, and sure, if it just happens that Trump’s impeachment is an October surprise…surprise.

And if that’s not enough to prevent his re-election, then…I don’t know what. Welcome to the Hunter Thompson nation of “used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.”

But not fighting is the surest way to lose. By not fighting the Overton window’s been moved so far to the right that Barack Obama was labeled a socialist, Bill Clinton was impeached, and Hillary Clinton was slimed as a crook — slimed by Donald Fucking Trump.

And Trump thinks/assumes he’ll get away with it…like he always does.

Well, he will if they let him.

Today’s the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Europe invasion. Democrats, it’s not like we’re asking you to storm the beaches. We’re asking you to show a little spine in the face of a guy who’s a con, a cheat, a bluffer…a horse’s ass. Take control of the narrative and above all, don’t lay down to him. Please.  We’re asking nicely.