Daily Blog September 2019

President Pinhead

Americans are in a crisis never seen before. We are running out of adjectives to describe the shock, horror and embarrassment caused by having someone who behaves like a 2 y/o sitting in our White House on those rare occasions when he’s not enriching himself at one of his golf clubs on American tax dollars.

So, if you have some good adjectives to share, please send some our way.

118 thoughts on “Daily Blog September 2019

  1. What’s the Matter With Republicans?

    Trump has given them another chance to break away. Why won’t they take it?

    In a sane world, the reaction of Republicans to the “memorandum of telephone conversation” between President Trump and the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, combined with the whistle-blower complaint filed by an intelligence officer describing a White House cover-up, would be similar to the response of Republicans after the release, on Aug. 5, 1974, of the “smoking gun” tape that finally broke the Nixon presidency. Republicans would begin to abandon Mr. Trump, with senior figures urging him in private and in public to resign.

    This may be asking too much of Republicans, who have lost their way in the Trump era. One might hope that some of the party’s elected officials would forcefully condemn the president on the grounds that there is now demonstrable evidence that he had crossed an ethical line and abused his power in ways even beyond what he had done previously, which was problematic enough.

    But things are very different today than they were in the summer of ’74.

    Read more in a pdf of this article or go behind the paywall.

  2. Trump loyalists are working hard to defend the president. It isn’t going well.

    Stephen Miller struggles on Fox News, and other lowlights from the Sunday morning efforts to defend the president.

    Following a week in which an abuse of power scandal about President Donald Trump’s Ukraine dealings pushed Democrats toward impeachment, Trump loyalists joined the Sunday morning news talk shows to try and defend the president. Their efforts did not go well, and produced a number of cringeworthy moments.

    In fairness, Trump defenders faced an uphill battle. This weekend, Trump’s dismissiveness about Russian election interference came under new scrutiny. And the whistleblower complaint at the center of the growing Ukraine scandal about Trump trying to strongarm the Ukrainian government into investigating Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has already been corroborated in key respects by the White House.

    The whistleblower accused Trump of using a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “advance his personal interests” by pushing for an investigation of Biden, and a memo about the call released by the White House indicates that did in fact happen. The whistleblower also alleged that officials went to extraordinary lengths to restrict the dissemination of information about that call, and the White House has acknowledged that happened as well.

    But even granting the difficulty of their task, Trump loyalists were still remarkably unequipped to make a case for their president.

    Read more.

  3. Richard Thompson at 70: on love, loss and being a Muslim in Trump’s US

    Richard Thompson at Louis Patisserie, Hampstead, London. Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian

    Richard Thompson is drinking mint tea in a Hampstead coffee shop – he doesn’t touch coffee or alcohol – and between Islam and cricket, he’s discussing the remarkable guest list for his upcoming 70th birthday celebration at the Royal Albert Hall in London. “I don’t like being the centre of attention, strange as it sounds,” he insists. “I just want to have a few friends over.”

    The man the LA Times once hailed as “the finest rock songwriter after Dylan” and “the best electric guitarist since Hendrix” will switch between electric and acoustic guitars, and hopes that “most guests will have time to do a couple of songs”. The 15 guests will include Pink Floyd hero David Gilmour, who has featured alongside Richard in a Rolling Stone magazine best ever guitarist list, and who, as a soloist, covered Richard’s 1975 song Dimming of the Day. “He’ll do that,” says Richard. “And then do something of his … or Floyd’s. He has always been a nice guy and we share a love of all things Fender.”

    The cast will also include old and new British folk heroes, from Martin and Eliza Carthy to Olivia Chaney. And then there will be Harry Shearer, the American actor and comedian, reviving his role as Derek Smalls from Spinal Tap, along with his wife Judith Owen who joined Richard in 2006 for the 1,000 Years of Popular Music project, in which they reworked anything from Sumer Is Icumen In to Britney Spears.

    Richard Thompson may be a virtuoso guitarist, but he insists that it’s the songs that are most important to him. “Most of what I do revolves around the song. If I play guitar, I’m not interested in playing instrumentals. I like playing guitar to accompany a voice, or if there is a solo, then extending the narrative of the song.” So are his thrilling, spontaneous-sounding acoustic or electric guitar solos inspired by the song? “Yes, it’s that way round. Absolutely.”

    Read more.

  4. By Nicholas Kristof

    Mr. President, a Few Questions

    President Trump with President Vladimir Putin of Russia last year in Helsinki, Finland. Doug Mills/The New York Times

    “Shall any man be above justice?” George Mason asked in 1787 at the Constitutional Convention. “Above all, shall that man be above it, who can commit the most extensive injustice?”

    That was a central question for the framers of the Constitution — to what extent should impeachment be a check on a president? — and it’s the central question for our political system today.

    President Trump’s bullying of Ukraine to target Joe Biden is parallel to the kinds of abuse that the framers discussed when they adopted the impeachment clause. What they fretted about was a leader who abused power — by colluding with a foreign country, James Madison suggested — and threatened the integrity of our system.

    So, guided by those concerns of abuse of power, let’s see what the impeachment inquiry turns up. Among the areas that merit further investigation:

    Read more in a pdf of this article or go behind the paywall.

    What was Russia’s role? Did Trump discuss Ukraine with Vladimir Putin in their June meeting in Osaka, in their Paris or Helsinki meetings last year, or in their July 31 phone call? Did Putin plant misinformation that Trump acted on?

  5. By Maureen Dowd

    Impeaching the Peach One

    Nancy Pelosi says she always thinks President Trump is projecting: “When he says ‘She’s not the speaker of the House,’ what he really means is ‘I shouldn’t be president of the United States.’” Damon Winter/The New York Times

    WASHINGTON — It’s a beautiful day for an impeachment.

    Or at least an inquiry about an impeachment inquiry.

    So on Friday, as summer stretched on, I went to the Capitol to see what the speaker of the House was thinking, now that she has lowered the boom.

    At the tender age of 73, Donald Trump may finally have to face some consequences for his depredations. His casino games have caught up with him and this time Daddy’s not here to bail him out. How delicious that a woman has the whip hand.

    “Isn’t it something, Maureen?” Nancy Pelosi asks about what she calls her “wild week.”
    I nod. It surely is. “The president says you’re no longer speaker of the House, that you’ve been taken over by the radical left,” I say to Pelosi, who looks smart in a pink pantsuit and sparkly pink high heels.

    She laughs. “See, I always think he’s projecting: When he says ‘She’s not the speaker of the House,’ what he really means is ‘I shouldn’t be president of the United States.’ When he says that Adam Schiff should resign, what he really means is ‘I, Donald Trump, should resign.’ He knows that this is really very incriminating.”

    The speaker is in a fine mood, now that she’s turned her focus from reining in the progressives to reining in the president.

    Read more in a pdf of this article or go behind the paywall.

    The speaker would have preferred to send Trump packing at the ballot box. But since he keeps contaminating the ballot box, asking foreign countries to meddle in our elections to help him win, what choice did she have?

  6. By Ross Douthat

    Last Exit From Trumpland

    President Donald Trump departing on Air Force One. Doug Mills/The New York Times

    Ask an intelligent Republican staffer what they imagine awaits their party after Donald Trump, and you’ll get an interesting disquisition on the factions and figures that might shape conservatism, the political and policy arguments to come.

    Ask that same staffer what happens if Trump is re-elected, and you’ll get a heavy sigh, a thousand-yard stare and then a hopeful “Well, maybe we can just pretend he isn’t there …?”
    This is the state of Republican politics with impeachment suddenly looming. People are ready for the after, the reckoning to come, the attempted restorations and Trumpisms-without-Trump, the great Nikki Haley-Tucker Carlson brawl.

    But if Trump survives impeachment and somehow gets re-elected, there will be no after Trump, not yet and not for four long years. Instead Trump will bestride his party like a decaying colossus, and his administration’s accelerative deterioration will be the G.O.P.’s as well. There will be no second-term policymaking, no John Kelly to stabilize the ship — just a floating hulk drifting between the icebergs of recession and foreign crisis, with all American conservatism onboard.

    Outside the ranks of the truest Trump believers, most Republicans anticipate very bad things in 2022 and 2024 if the Trump Show continues uninterrupted. And most would happily fast-forward through that show if the magical remote control from that terrible Adam Sandler movie were suddenly available.

    My days of writing high-dudgeon columns demanding that Republicans act in concert against Trump are behind me; cynicism and bemusement define my attitude toward G.O.P. decadence these days.

    Read more in a pdf of this article or go behind the paywall.

  7. A Lone Journalist Just Got a Giant Pro-Trump Ukrainian Propaganda Outlet Removed from Facebook

    The page ”I Love America” had reportedly been repurposing memes distributed by the Russian group highlighted in the Mueller Report

    * Zach Gibson/Getty Images*

    Since 2017, 1 the seemingly uber-patriotic Facebook group “I Love America” had attracted more than 1.1 million followers with a constant stream of pro-Trump, anti-Democrat posts, sprinkled with a healthy dose of “Support the Troops” messages, along with ample photos of adorable cats and dogs. Yesterday, journalist Judd Legum revealed on Twitter and his online newsletter Popular Information that he’d discovered the page was run by supporters of Donald Trump in the Ukraine.

    Legum warned, “It’s the tip of the iceberg,” in an all-day campaign that would end with the group’s destruction.

    Early on, Legum alerted readers that “’I Love America’ is repurposing memes used by the Internet Research Agency, the Russian group highlighted in the Mueller report that interfered in the 2016 election,” adding, “The big difference is this operation is MUCH BIGGER.”

    Read more.

    1. Why did it take so long? 
  8. At Fox News, Trump Impeachment Inquiry Brings On-Air Sniping

    Big audience numbers have followed the open infighting among several prime-time Fox News personalities this week since the impeachment inquiry against President Trump was announced. CreditRyan Jenq for The New York Times

    Fox News personalities are facing heckles, insults and criticism for their coverage this week of President Trump and the impeachment inquiry. 1

    And that’s just from their own colleagues.

    In an unusual airing of intramural grievances, Fox News anchors and pundits have let loose at one another in full public view — lobbing attacks across time slots and offering a rare glimpse into tensions behind the scenes at the top-rated cable news network.

    In one striking exchange, a guest on Tucker Carlson’s prime-time show on Tuesday dismissed Andrew Napolitano, the veteran Fox News legal analyst, as a “fool” for saying Mr. Trump’s urging of a favor from the Ukrainian prime minister constituted a crime.

    Shepard Smith, the network’s chief news anchor, fired back the next afternoon, declaring it “repugnant” that a guest would insult a Fox News colleague — and adding, pointedly, that the remark had gone “unchallenged” by Mr. Carlson.

    Read more in a pdf of this article or go behind the paywall.

    1. Fox News ratings were at an all time high this week probably due to Democrats tuning in to watch the feeding frenzy. 
  9. Support for Trump impeachment rises 12 points in new poll

    A new Hill-HarrisX survey on Friday found support for impeachment proceedings against President Trump has risen 12 points compared to a similar poll conducted three months ago.

    The survey was conducted on Sept. 26-27, just days after House Democrats started a formal impeachment inquiry over a whistleblower complaint involving Trump’s communications with Ukraine.

    The poll showed 47 percent of respondents support that decision, up 12 points from a similar survey in June, which asked whether Democrats should begin impeachment proceedings.

    Meanwhile, opposition to impeachment dipped 3 points to 42 percent, while 11 percent of those polled in the new survey said they weren’t sure or didn’t know.

    Support for impeachment grew among Democratic, Republican and independent voters alike. Democratic support jumped from 59 percent to 78 percent, a 19-point increase. The number of Republicans backing impeachment jumped 5 points to 18 percent.

    The number of independents who back impeachment doubled to 41 percent.

    Read more.

  10. Mark Amodei Is First House Republican to Support Trump Impeachment Inquiry

    The four-term congressman from Nevada said he was withholding judgment on whether President Trump committed an impeachable offense.

    Representative Mark Amodei of Nevada speaking to reporters at the Capitol in 2018. On Friday Mr. Amodei became the first House Republican to support the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. CreditAlex Wong/Getty Images

    Representative Mark Amodei of Nevada on Friday became the first Republican member of the House of Representatives to back the rapidly escalating impeachment inquiry — but he said he was reserving judgment on whether President Trump should be impeached.

    Mr. Amodei, 61, a four-term congressman from Carson City, is the chairman of Trump’s re-election campaign in Nevada, a swing state that the president lost by 27,000 votes to Hillary Clinton in 2016.

    He said it made sense for Congress to investigate a whistle-blower’s complaint, made public on Thursday, that Mr. Trump used a July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president to advance his personal interests, including asking him to look into unsubstantiated allegations of corruption against former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his younger son.

    Read more in a pdf of this article or go behind the paywall.

  11. Opinion

    How the Climate Kids Are Short-Circuiting Right-Wing Media

    Young people like Greta Thunberg are participating in the culture wars while also managing to float above the fray.

    Greta Thunberg was the keynote speaker at the climate protest in New York on Friday.CreditCreditDamon Winter/The New York Times

    The kids aren’t just all right — they’re scrambling the brains of their political enemies.

    Last Friday, millions of people, many of them children and teenagers, took to the streets during the Global Climate Strike, a protest inspired by Fridays for Future, the international youth effort started by the 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. The protesters’ call for broad action to combat global warming was powerful, as was the message sent by their numbers: Dynamic, frustrated young people are instilling in the climate movement a new urgency.

    Online, the climate kids’ impact can be measured in a different way — by how they’re short-circuiting the right-wing media ecosystem that’s partly responsible for the spread of climate skepticism. Since Friday’s strike, pro-Trump media and conservative cable news pundits have devoted significant resources to turning the children of the climate movement into Public Enemy No. 1.

    Read more in a pdf of this article or go behind the paywall.

  12. Opinion

    Just How Corrupt Is Bill Barr?

    Trump’s attorney general is implicated in the Ukraine scandal, but refuses to recuse

    Attorney General William Barr is up to his eyeballs in the whistle-blower affair. Tom Brenner for The New York Times

    Then there’s Barr’s personal involvement in the Ukraine plot. In the reconstruction of Trump’s call with Zelensky that was released by the White House, Trump repeatedly said that he wanted Ukraine’s government to work with Barr on investigating the Bidens. Barr’s office insists that the president hasn’t spoken to Barr about the subject, but given the attorney general’s record of flagrant dishonesty — including his attempts to mislead the public about the contents of the Mueller report — there’s no reason to believe him. Besides, said Representative Jamie Raskin, a former constitutional law professor who now sits on the House Judiciary Committee, “the effort to suppress the existence of the phone conversation itself is an obvious obstruction of justice.”

    Read more in a pdf of this article or go behind the paywall.

  13. No apologies: MPs’ fury as Boris Johnson goes on the attack

    PM rejects pleas to moderate his ‘inflammatory’ language after supreme court defeat

    An unrepentant Boris Johnson has sparked a furious backlash after he repeated his criticism of the supreme court judgment, and rejected MPs’ pleas to moderate his “inflammatory” language as “humbug”.

    Addressing a rowdy and adversarial House of Commons, just hours after flying back early from New York, Johnson went on the attack, accusing Jeremy Corbyn of trying to thwart Brexit and running scared of an election.

    Johnson infuriated opposition MPs by dismissing fears that his use of language such as “surrender” and “betrayal” was dangerous in a heightened political climate. To gasps, he claimed the best way to honour the memory of the murdered MP Jo Cox was to “get Brexit done”.

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    And he continued to deploy the “people versus parliament” rhetoric that has become a signature of his premiership, claiming: “The people outside this house understand what is happening … The leader of the opposition and his party don’t trust the people.”

    And he added: “Instead of facing the voters the opposition turned tail and fled from an election. Instead of deciding to let the voters decide, they ran for the courts … it is absolutely no disrespect to the judiciary to say I think the court was wrong.”

    Johnson’s appearance led critics to accuse him of failing to show any humility over his supreme court defeat.

    Responding to the prime minister, Corbyn accused him of failing to take the supreme court defeat seriously, calling his statement, “10 minutes of bluster from a dangerous prime minister who thinks he is above the law but in truth is not fit for the office he holds”.

    Labour’s Jess Phillips said: “I know that the prime minister wants to appear as a strong man. But the strongest thing he could do that would look the best to this country at the moment would be to act with some humility and contrition.”

    Read more.

  14. Trump’s weird reference to “CrowdStrike” during the Ukraine call, briefly explained

    Trump still thinks his own intelligence agencies are wrong about who hacked the DNC — and he wanted Ukraine’s help to prove it.

    It hasn’t received as much attention as his efforts to get the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden and his son, but the “transcript” of President Donald Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also indicates that just a day after special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony before Congress, Trump was seeking help in trying to undermine the foundations of the Russia investigation.

    According to the White House’s account of Trump’s July call with Zelensky, the Ukrainian president obliquely brought up military aide that the Trump administration had mysteriously put on hold just days earlier by referring to specific pieces of equipment he intended to buy once the money came through.

    Trump responded by telling Zelensky, “I would like you to do us a favor though.” He went on to ask him for a confusing favor related to a cybersecurity firm, a billionaire, and a computer server — but its subtext seems to be that Trump wanted help uncovering evidence that he believes would indicate that Russia was framed for hacking the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in 2016.

    Read more.

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