Monday, August 19, 2019


Paid to lie
[Peter Navarro] Trump trade adviser claims tariffs aren't hurting anyone in the U.S.
[Larry Kudlow] "There’s no recession on the horizon," he added. "What’s wrong with a little optimism?"

Trump: "I don't think we're having a recession. We're doing tremendously well. Our consumers are rich. I gave a tremendous tax cut and they're loaded up with money."
Trump: "I don't see a recession. I mean, the world is in a recession right now, although that's too big a statement.  But if you look at China, China's doing very, very poorly. "

[NB: It's like Tinkerbell. If you say it won't happen, and wish real hard, and keep clapping, then maybe it won't.] 

Top White House economic advisers are emphatically saying that the economy is fantastic. Experts aren’t so sure.
Here's Larry Kudlow on December 7, 2007: “There’s no recession coming. The pessimistas were wrong. It’s not going to happen. . . . .” [read on for more predictions that proved to be wrong]

[NB: As we covered here the other day, Trump's view is that growth is a matter of emotion and perception: if you can convince people the economy is strong, they will engage in behaviors that make it strong; if they believe it's in decline, they will do things that lead to decline. This is the huckster's world view, and it completely ignores underlying, objective economic factors, which as far as I can tell he has no interest in. But it does explain his obsession with how the media covers things, and his claims that when the media covers bad news, that's somehow unpatriotic.]

Trump's anti-press rhetoric goes to "11"
“‘Journalism’ has reached a new low in the history of our Country. It is nothing more than an evil propaganda machine for the Democrat Party. The reporting is so false, biased and evil that it has now become a very sick joke.” . . . “With all that this Administration has accomplished, think what my Poll Numbers would be if we had an honest Media, which we do not.” 

[NB: Declining poll numbers? It's because the media won't say how great I am. Declining economic numbers? It's because the media is intentionally tanking the economy to make me look bad. A nation split by anger and rage? It's because of negative media coverage ABOUT ME.]

“President Trump, confronting perhaps the most ominous economic signs of his time in office, has unleashed what is by now a familiar response: lashing out at what he believes is a conspiracy of forces arrayed against him,” the New York Times reports. “He has insisted that his own handpicked Federal Reserve chair, Jerome H. Powell, is intentionally acting against him. He has said other countries, including allies, are working to hurt American economic interests. And he has accused the news media of trying to create a recession.” “Mr. Trump has repeated the claims in private discussions with aides and allies, insisting that his critics are trying to take away what he sees as his calling card for re-election.”

[NB: We have seen enough by now to recognize the signs of Trump panic: wildly striking out at enemies, real and imaginary; seeing conspiracies targeted at HIM; frantic that the man who says he never loses might . . . lose.] 

By the way, the press coverage of Trump's economy has been VERY friendly at times
These are all recent headlines:
CNN: “The strong economy is Trump’s safety blanket”
Politico: “How Trump is on track for a 2020 landslide”
Los Angeles Times: “How can Trump get reelected? It’s still the economy, stupid” [read on] 

Et tu?
President Donald Trump on Sunday slammed his preferred news network over recent unfavorable poll results, saying: “There’s something going on at Fox [News], I’ll tell you right now. And I'm not happy with it.” . . . Trump said he didn’t “believe” the poll that was published, adding: “Fox has changed. My worst polls have always been from Fox.” . . . “And I think Fox is making a big mistake,” the president said when asked about the polling and the network’s leadership. “Because, you know, I'm the one that calls the shots . . .”

[NB: The Fox polling department is one of the few parts of the news division that people take seriously. It is considered to be objective and accurate . . . oh, sorry, of course, THAT must be the problem.]
"There is no White House, not in the sense journalists have always used the term," New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen recently tweeted, hitting on a media critique he has amplified for more than a year. "It's just Trump—and people who work in the building. The term is still in use because what else are ‘White House’ reporters going to do? But there's no referent for it. The metonymy broke." Rosen’s accurate appraisal pulls back the curtain and reveals that the “White House" that reporters are so busy reporting on and referring to is, at this point, basically a media concoction. It's a prop that's being held up because “the White House" is how journalists have always referred to the sprawling West Wing enterprise that powers and supports each American president. Mercurial Trump, though, has basically dismantled that infrastructure (he doesn't like listening to people who don’t agree with him), yet the press still holds on to preferred tradition. The press keeps pretending "the White House" exists, and keeps presenting a false narrative about what's happened to our executive branch. . . . [read on]

Trump, military tactician, is obsessed with creating a naval blockade of Venezuela. None of his military advisors thinks it's a good idea, but he will not let it go

[NB: A naval blockade is an act of war.]

If gun control is going to happen, it will have to happen soon
White House and Congress say it's "September or bust" on gun legislation 

In investigation news . . .

Trump admin says it might invoke "executive privilege" to block Corey Lewandowski from testifying -- even though he has never served in the administration

[NB: Nothing to hide, right?] 
In other news . . . 

Steve King holds a town hall meeting

Far-right groups take encouragement and comfort from Trump's tweets

Brexit is tearing apart the UK -- and the Trump admin is happy to help
US would ‘enthusiastically’ back no-deal Brexit

Boris Johnson has ordered the U.K.'s civil service to make preparations for a no-deal Brexit its "top priority," a directive that comes the same week the government has reportedly drawn up plans to stop British diplomats from attending EU meetings . . . Johnson appears hell-bent on fulfilling the campaign promise that paved his path to Downing Street: delivering Brexit on Oct. 31, "do or die." The problem? There is no parliamentary majority for a no-deal Brexit . . .
Leaked Documents Show UK Faces Food, Fuel And Drugs Shortages In No-Deal Brexit

[NB: It's a two-fer for Trump: weaken the European alliance and force the UK into a dependent trade relationship with the US.] 

In Fox World's alternate universe, Trump is looking younger as he serves in office

Selected Dem news
Pete Buttigieg: Voting for Trump in 2020 means "looking the other way on racism"
Biden and Harris Vie for Two Pockets of Black Support
Warren Closes ‘Electability’ Gap With Biden
Bernie Sanders Unveils Sweeping Criminal Justice Reform Plan
Bonus item: Maybe you don't remember Mark Sanford, former Governor of South Carolina, who suddenly DISAPPEARED from office without explanation. The excuse given was that he was "hiking the Appalachian Trail." In fact, he had flown to Argentina to carry out a torrid extramarital affair. Today, he is still spewing BS about a potential primary challenge to Trump
As a result, "hiking the Appalachian Trail" or "hiking the Appalachians" became a euphemism for a sexual scandal . . . 

Former Republican congressman and governor of South Carolina Mark Sanford told Meet the Press host Chuck Todd this Sunday that he's moving closer to mounting a primary challenge to our so-called president for 2020, but still refused to acknowledge that it might be better to have a Democrat in office than the man who he just said doesn't deserve to be reelected and is taking the country down the wrong path:

CHUCK TODD: Does he deserve reelection?
MARK SANFORD: I would say, no. Because I would argue that he's taking us in the wrong direction. . . . And so I think that there are any number of different things where you'd say, "No. We need a course correction." And we need to have a conversation about that course correction.
CHUCK TODD: If you're unsuccessful, are you going to still support him for president?
MARK SANFORD: Yeah, I'm a Republican.
CHUCK TODD: So you realize, you just said, you don't think he deserves reelection. He's taking us in the wrong direction. . .

[NB: Having said all that, I welcome a primary challenge against Trump. Anything that highlights REPUBLICAN dissatisfaction with him is a good thing, and it gives him someone else to waste time attacking instead of the Dems.]

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Sunday, August 18, 2019


Trump has worked hard to make this election a referendum on the economy -- but if things turn bad, he can't get out of it by blaming other people (though he will try)

One sector already suffering this year is manufacturing, the very industry that Trump pledged to revive and fortify with his tariffs. Factory output has fallen 0.5% during the past 12 months, the Fed said Thursday. . . . [read on]

The myth that tariffs are paid by China and not by US consumers has already been abandoned by Trump's advisors -- but this clinches it
“As President Trump’s trade advisers were searching last week for a strategy to forestall his threatened tariffs on China, they struck upon a novel approach: appeal to his Christmas cheer,” CNN reports. “Under pressure from retailers to prevent a move that would likely have caused prices of popular consumer goods to spike, the President’s team came to him during a meeting last week with a warning. Applying new tariffs on all Chinese imports, they cautioned, could effectively ‘ruin Christmas,’ according to people familiar with the matter.” 

It has always been an easy line to say that Trump, former reality TV star, confuses performing with governing, and popularity with effectiveness. But it's getting worse

Trump's rallies are like a cult
“Some people might be there because they genuinely believe in this ideology,” said Mary Beth Altier, an assistant professor at New York University specializing in radicalization. “Some may be questioning those beliefs. They’re toying with them, and they go because a friend brought them or they think it’d be cool to go. They go and get swept up. People start chanting, are you going to be the only one standing there not chanting?” . . . “There’s this intense devotion and the inability to question or criticize or doubt, . . . People in that state tend to cling to their beliefs over reality. They dig themselves even deeper. I think the things we see at the rallies, where people get into these cheers and adore everything he says, is very typical of what we see in run-of-the-mill cults. There’s what we might call blind obedience or blind followership.” [read on]

"I really just want to be here – I really love being with all the people who are coming to the rally. That’s what’s most exciting to me – no offense to president Trump," she said.
Apparently even some of Trump’s fans have gotten tired of the act. Elaina Plott, a reporter for the Atlantic who attended the rally, tweeted that people were heading for the exits before the president had finished talking . . .
Trump’s obsession with crowd sizes
Workers Reportedly Told They Would Lose Pay if Didn’t Attend Trump Speech

Trump desperately wants to get troops out of Afghanistan before the election -- but what are the details of the deal? 

It serves Trump's purposes to try to make support for Israel a partisan, divisive issue. It doesn't serve Israel's purposes

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday the U.S.-Israel relationship can withstand the “weakness” of President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who shook diplomatic norms this week in barring two members of Congress from visiting the country. . . .
[Tom Friedman] “I am going to say this as simply and clearly as I can: If you’re an American Jew and you’re planning on voting for Donald Trump because you think he is pro-Israel, you’re a damn fool. . . . Trump’s way of — and motivation for — expressing his affection for Israel is guided by his political desire to improve his re-election chances by depicting the entire Republican Party as pro-Israel and the entire Democratic Party as anti-Israel.”
“As a result, Trump — with the knowing help of Israel’s current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu — is doing something no American president and Israeli prime minister have done before: They’re making support for Israel a wedge issue in American politics.”

The Trump admin wants an extension of a law allowing them to surveil Americans' calls and text messages. What could go wrong?

The law, enacted after the intelligence contractor Edward Snowdenrevealed the existence of the programme in 2013, is set to expire in December, but the Trump administration wants it made lasting. The unclassified letter, signed by Dan Coats on Wednesday in one of his last acts as the director of National Intelligence, also conceded that the NSA has indefinitely shut down that programme after recurring technical difficulties repeatedly caused it to collect more records than it had legal authority to gather. 

In investigation news . . . 
Republicans block FEC probe of NRA's Russia money and Trump
Epstein Lawyers “Not Satisfied” With Medical Examiner Ruling Death a Suicide by Hanging . . . The lawyers vowed to conduct their own investigation into Epstein’s death. . . .
Chief Medical Examiner Barbara Sampson also noted that Epstein’s representatives have hired celebrity pathologist Michael Baden to conduct an independent autopsy . . .

Forensic Pathologist Dr. Michael Baden: I Was Shunned For Being A Defense Witness In O.J. Simpson Trial

In other news . . . 
Another Big Lie
The chair of the Federal Election Commission has called on the President, once again, to provide any proof he has for his bogus claim of widespread illegal voting in the 2016 election. “You have not, so far, provided any proof of these allegations,” FEC Chair Ellen Weintraub wrote to Trump a day after he renewed the conspiracy theory on Thursday. . .
[NB: He won't stop repeating it because he is keeping it in his back pocket for 2020.]
I call B.S.
[Trump] Major consideration is being given to naming ANTIFA an “ORGANIZATION OF TERROR.” . . .

[NB: "Major consideration," huh? Note the passive voice. Whatever criticisms one might have of Antifa and their strategies, it is in no way a "terror" organization. It would discredit the very label to use it in such a tendentious way.]
Planned Parenthood might reject federal funds rather than accept the gag order Trump is imposing on them
[NB: And another IOU paid off to the religious right.] 
Immigrants -- they get the job done
Immigrants in the U.S. are twice as likely to start businesses as their native counterparts for a myriad of reasons, generating at least $1 trillion in annual sales revenue . . .


The odious Stephen Miller is one of the real villains of this crew. He has an interesting back story
“The story of Mr. Miller’s rise has been told with a focus on his pugnacity and paradoxes. Known more for his enemies than his friends, he is a conservative firebrand from liberal Santa Monica, Calif., and a descendant of refugees who is seeking to eliminate refugee programs. He is a Duke graduate in bespoke suits who rails against the perfidy of so-called elites. Among those who have questioned his moral fitness are his uncle, his childhood rabbi and 3,400 fellow Duke alumni.” [read on]

[NB: Remember the ridiculous spray-on hair? See above] 

Fox World and Trump World = One World
Fox’s Pete Hegseth Getting Married At Trump Golf Club  

Mooch predicts Trump will drop out of the race because he knows he can't win 

This is what he said just ONE MONTH ago:
Anthony Scaramucci predicts a ‘resounding’ 40-state landslide for Trump in the 2020 election

[NB: Scaramucci is FOS, as always, and seems to be working through his own escalating war of words with Trump. Like any communications flack, he can argue both sides of any issue without shame. No, Trump will not drop out, because he does not believe he will lose. He will ignore or discount the evidence, right up to election day, no matter what it says. And when he loses, as I am quite sure he will, he is likely to reject the results -- which is a very serious, dangerous possibility. 

What Scaramucci is right about is that it will prove to have been foolish for the Republican party to tie their fortunes to Trump, and that they will be paying the price for embracing Trumpism for a long time. They may have lost a swath of former GOPers permanently over this.]

Stacey Abrams is organizing a movement against voter suppression and disenfranchisement. She understands where the battle needs to be fought

Stacey Abrams Is Playing the Long Game
As vital as such efforts are, as well as those of independent third-party groups in securing the right to vote, new groups organized around ballot access still leave the job of securing election wins primarily to candidates' campaigns not only at the top of the ticket, but all the way down ballot. . . 

The fight to hold onto a red seat in North Carolina is getting ugly

Bonus item: Kentucky passes a law requiring schools to post "In God We Trust." Here's how one school district handled it

***If you enjoy Progressive Blog Digest and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sharing its URL ( with others via email or social media. Thanks for helping to spread the word!

I don’t get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don’t run ads, etc.). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a “mission,” it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***