Politics

QAnonsense, and can there be an alt-right without the alt-Reich?

Karen Tumulty points out the unique Democratic line-up in Michigan, where women aren’t just on the ticket, they are the ticket.

This year, Democrats in Michigan have done something unprecedented. They have selected women to be their standard-bearers for every statewide office on the November ballot: governor, U.S. senator, attorney general and secretary of state.

And while Michigan’s ballot  may boast the most X-chromosomes, it’s far from the only state where Democrats are set to make “the year of the woman” more than just a slogan.

With Tuesday night’s primary results in Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington, records have been set for the number of women winning major-party nominations for governor (11) and the House (185), according to a tally by Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics.

Right now there are 84 women in the House—19 percent of the total. Doubling that number still wouldn’t bring women to the level of parity, but it would be one helluva start. And if you’re thinking that a lot of those candidates might be on Team Elephant … not so much.

This pink wave is also a blue one. As the Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman points out, female House candidates so far have won an astounding 71 percent of Democratic primaries in which there is no incumbent and they are running against at least one man. For Republican women, that figure is only 35 percent.

I like the idea of pink and blue wave. Not because we’re getting a new baby Congress, but because we’re getting a new Congress, baby. (yeah, I can hear the groans. Feel free to slap me for that.)


Leonard Pitts reminds us that this is an anniversary of a shameful event.

Donald Trump is a man of famously definite opinions. Whether it be about Mexicans, Muslims, or Mueller, he knows what he thinks and isn’t shy about sharing.

So it was telling, one year ago this weekend, when he refused to take a stand.

Meaning, of course, Charlottesville and the white supremacist rally that shocked that town and the wide world beyond. Bad enough a motley mob of tiki torch-bearing bigots marched under Confederate flags. But then a car plowed through a crowd of counter protesters, and Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old waitress and paralegal, was killed.

Just to note that it was a violent white nationalist that killed Heather Heyer. He used a car, but the car didn’t killed her. Okay, on with it.

In the moment of airless shock that came after, we did what Americans instinctively do at such times: turned to the president to steel our resolve, speak our overflowing hearts, help us make sense of a senseless thing. That’s what Obama would have done, what Clinton or the Bushes would have done. But this time, the president was Donald Trump, and he did something else.

First, he pinned blame on “many sides.” Two days later, with all the sincerity of a bad boy forced to apologize for tormenting his sister, he read prepared remarks acknowledging that white supremacy is wrong. The next day, he reversed his reversal, saying of the white supremacists and those who came to oppose them, that there were “very fine people on both sides.”

A reminder that this is also an anniversary of this. The things that need to change the most, seem to change the least.


David Don Drehle points out that while Trump isn’t a self-made man, he may well be a made man.

If it seems harsh to compare Manafort to a mobster, take it up with President Trump, who got the ball rolling with a tweet before the trial began. “Looking back at history, who was treated worse, [Al] Capone, legendary mob boss . . . or Paul Manafort?” Trump mused.

And the president ought to know: He has spent plenty of time in mobbed-up milieus. As many journalists have documented — the late Wayne Barrett and decorated investigator David Cay Johnston most deeply — Trump’s trail was blazed through one business after another notorious for corruption by organized crime.

Actually, I’m betting what put Trump in mind of Capone was that the murderous mob boss evaded other crimes, but went to jail over tax fraud. And with Paul Manafort’s trial explaining just how money launderers presented funds coming in from Russian oligarchs as “loans” in order to avoid paying taxes, it’s not hard to guess what Trump doesn’t want anyone to see in the tax forms he will never release.

This would not have been news to Trump, whose early political mentor and personal lawyer was Roy Cohn, consigliere to such dons as Fat Tony Salerno and Carmine Galante. After Cohn guided the brash young developer through the gutters of city politics to win permits for Trump Plaza and Trump Tower, it happened that Trump elected to build primarily with concrete rather than steel. He bought the mud at inflated prices from S&A Concrete, co-owned by Cohn’s client Salerno and Paul Castellano, boss of the Gambino family.

But please remember: According to Trump, the idea that asbestos causes lung cancer is a mob-plot.


Justin Hansford has an idea worth serious consideration.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch was defeated in a Democratic primary on Tuesday by a young African American reformer who ran a campaign fueled by a coalition of local and national organizers. As they say in Ferguson, Mo., where McCulloch, most notably, oversaw the farcical investigation of police officer Darren Wilson following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown: #ByeBob.

If you’ve never had the misfortune to end up in front of a prosecutor, it’s hard to overstate the power they have. They can obtain conviction rates of 99 percent or higher, not because they’re always right, but because they make it clear that failing to plead guilty is subject to unbearable harassment and punishment. On the other hand, they also have the nearly unlimited power to protect. In both cases, justice isn’t even an afterthought.

This is a sign of hope and change. The process should now come full circle. The next prosecutor — presumably Wesley Bell, the Democratic nominee — should reopen the Brown case.

Since 1991, McCulloch presided over a thinly disguised system of plunder. The 2015 Ferguson report revealed that, for years, the police targeted communities of color for heightened traffic enforcement to fill their coffers. This racket, at the expense of Ferguson’s most marginalized communities, combined with McCulloch’s preternatural hesitance to bring charges against police for killing unarmed black people, created a powder keg that exploded after the killing of Brown in August 2014.

This would not represent double jeopardy, since the officer involved never faced charges. The best thing Bell can do is to bring the case to trial, no deals on the side. Of course, Bell would first have to spend enough time with a Grand Jury to convince them that charges should be brought. Say … twenty-seven seconds.


Anne Applebaum makes me go search up my graphics for the Fascism Watch …

“Don’t worry, the institutions will stop him.” Or: “Don’t worry, he hasn’t done any real damage yet, the institutions have stopped him.” How many times have you heard some version of this analysis since the election of President Trump? Sometimes, the speaker is an optimist, someone with faith in the U.S. Constitution. Sometimes, the speaker is a skeptic, someone who dislikes the alleged “hysteria” of those who think Trump’s corrupt habits, autocratic language and authoritarian behavior are doing lasting damage. Either way, they are reassured, and reassuring: Congress will stop him. The judiciary will stop him. The FBI, the Republican Party, the Constitution will stop him. Don’t worry.

I believe it’s been more than thirty seconds, which entitles me to my regular reference to Masha Gessen’s essential article. To wit: “Rule #3: Institutions will not save you.”

But America’s federal institutions are not the only ones designed to prevent someone like Trump from undermining the Constitution. We have other kinds of institutions, too — legal organs, regulatory bodies, banks — that are supposed to prevent men like Trump from staying in business, let alone acquiring political power. The truth is that many of these equally important American institutions failed a long time ago. Trump is not the cause of their failure. He is the result.

The biggest thing that everyone should be getting from the Paul Manafort trial is the feeling of “Why wasn’t this guy stopped decades ago?” Why was he allowed to waltz into the country with his pockets stuffed with illicit funds from dictators on every continent save Antarctica, and openly lobby for foreign autocrats, and display a level of ostentatious wealth that his legal income could never support? Why was he not only not arrested, but regularly tapped to both lead Republican campaigns and organize their national convention, in between sessions of overturning democracies around the globe? The flip-side of the experience with Michael Brown isn’t just the policeman who wasn’t charged in his death, it’s the charges-that-never-came against Manafort, Gates, and Donald Trump.

Now, go read all of Applebaum’s article. It’s a requirement.


Colbert King on the beliefs of those people who Reddit is worried about embarassing.

The views of rank-and-file Republicans, captured in voter surveys, are nothing less than galling.

Let’s lead with a poll conducted by the global marketing firm Ipsos and reported by the Daily Beast. It found that 43 percent of self-identified Republicans said they believed “the president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior.”

When asked if President Trump should shut down The Post, CNN and the New York Times, 23 percent of Republicans said yes.

Shut down the Times, but … Who would come and do their profile articles?

More disturbing to me as a citizen is that those Trump cultists would knowingly and willingly give him the power to trample on the First Amendment, destroying an essential part of our democracy that he doesn’t like. That is appalling.

They either don’t know or care about what Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black wrote in New York Times Co. v. United States in 1971: The Founding Fathers intended that “the press was to serve the governed, not the governors.”

Dana Milbank on the how the character of Republicans informs their actions.

Finally, Rep. Devin Nunes has given Americans a reason to reelect Republicans.

They want to have an impeachment!

No, not that impeachment.

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee told donors that “most” Republicans are on board with impeaching Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, according to a recording broadcast this week by MSNBC. They just don’t have time “right before the election.” Hence the need to retain a GOP majority.

Nunes isn’t just warning that a Republican majority is necessary to protect Trump. He’s letting his supporters know that if they’ll send him back, he’ll finish the disassembly of those checks and balances he’s already done so much to assault.

Rosenstein must have done something truly and utterly horrible, because these guys don’t impeach just anybody. In fact, they impeach nobody. Until now they hadn’t given a moment’s thought to impeaching a single member of the Trump administration:

Not Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who, Forbes reports, has been accused by former associates of siphoning or outright stealing roughly $120 million.

Not former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt, who, while in office, got a bargain condo rental from a lobbyist’s wife, used his job to find work for his wife and had taxpayers procure for him everything from a soundproof phone booth to a trip to find moisturizing lotion.

Not the former national security adviser who admitted to lying to the FBI, not the former White House staff secretary accused of domestic violence, not the presidential son-in-law who had White House meetings with his family’s lenders, not the housing secretary accused of potentially helping his son’s business, not the many Cabinet secretaries who traveled for pleasure at taxpayer expense, not the former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director who bought tobacco stock while in office.

All the president’s men. All the president’s very, very corrupt men.


Cas Mudde on the “demise of the extreme right”

This year’s Unite the Right 2 reflects the demise of the extreme right. Since Charlottesville, so-called “alt-right” activists have organized or attended 32 public events in the US, according to Carla Hill of anti-extremism watchdog Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The clear majority of these events were “flash demonstrations”, where five to 20 people briefly appeared to unfold a banner to protest immigration – a signature strategy of the marginal “alt-right” group Identity Evropa. At the same time, radical right, or “alt-light” groups such as Patriot Prayer and the Proud Boys have organized a few larger rallies, mostly in the north-western part of the country, more reminiscent of last year’s Charlottesville frenzy.

The permits for this year’s rally are for fewer people than turned out last year, and it looks as if those permits still managed to greatly overestimate the numbers who would actually show. As with the QAnon story, it’s almost beginning to seem as if, somewhere in what seemed a bottomless pool of muck, might be something more substantial. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a whole selection of pits still with no sign of limits.

As the media has reported in past months, more and more of these “fine people” from the far-right are finding their way to the Republican party, even winning primaries and getting on the ballot for local, regional, and national races. At least one of them, Paul Nehlen, who hopes to replace House speaker Paul Ryan, is scheduled to attend Unite the Right 2.

Considering the rate at which the Republican House moves from extreme to more extreme, don’t rule them out.


Ruth Marcus asks if there are “limits to Paul Manafort’s greed” which is surely a rhetorical question.

Manafort is doing the legal equivalent of trying to shoot the moon — twice. Even if he is acquitted in this case, another trial looms next month on separate charges of money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent. Perhaps Manafort is angling for a presidential pardon. But even assuming Trump is willing to commit an act so blatantly self-interested, if not outright corrupt, a pardoned Manafort could still be compelled to testify, and prosecuted for any ensuing perjury unless Trump is so brazen as to prospectively pardon that conduct as well.

Any sentence that includes the phrase “assuming Trump is willing to commit” should just go ahead and assume. And anything that follows “unless Trump is so brazen” should be taken as a given.

The mystery—a mystery to me at least—is comprehending the magnitude of Manafort’s greed. Assuming the allegations are true—and even if Manafort’s former partner, Rick Gates, is an admitted liar, bank accounts don’t lie—why would someone who vacuumed up so many millions of dollars take the risk of not paying the taxes due on that income?

Manafort’s greed is at least two orders of magnitude below that of Trump. Ostrich vest, meet entire condo covered in gold. If anything confuses Trump about this trial, it’s not that Manafort always needed more or always found something ever gaudier to purchase.




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