Notes and Comment Blog

Good faith argument

Nov 14th, 2018 4:44 pm | By


Frustrating, isn’t it – we know what it’s reasonable to be certain about and what it isn’t, and we say so, and the result is that dogmatists think they’ve won the argument.

It reminds me of “Do you believe, yes or no…”

The Patreon

America is establishing new precedents

Nov 14th, 2018 4:36 pm | By

Walter Shaub points out that whatever the outcome of Trump’s attempts to obstruction of justice, he’s already done harm by setting bad precedents.

But whatever the outcome of Mueller’s investigation, America is establishing new precedents. One precedent is that President Trump fired the FBI director—and Congress did nothing. Another is that Trump admitted the FBI’s investigation of his campaign motivated the firing—and Congress did nothing. A third precedent is that Trump fired the attorney general after having railed against him publicly for refusing to intervene in the investigation—and Congress has done nothing. A fourth precedent is that Trump circumvented the Justice Department’s order of succession so he could replace the attorney general with an individual who has directed partisan attacks at the special counsel, has described publicly how a new attorney general could undermine the investigation, has had a personal and political relationship with an individual involved in the investigation, and has been associated with a company that is the focus of a separate FBI investigation.

If the precedents stand…

If members of Congress or the American people fail to act, these precedents will become the guideposts for future presidents who follow the path President Trump is blazing. A new tenet of American democracy will become that a president is permitted to evade investigation by firing the heads of agencies that investigate the president’s close associates, even when the investigation is the reason for the firings. This cannot stand. Putting a president above the rule of law is a threat to democracy.

We need another precedent: presidents can’t get away with obstruction of justice.

A brooding and petulant president

Nov 14th, 2018 3:36 pm | By

More news on Trump’s grump:

Trump’s trip to France to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I was a disaster, marked by a brooding and petulant president mocked and condemned wherever he went…

After deciding not to attend a ceremony honoring those killed in the war because rain apparently made it inconvenient to get there, Trump grew enraged at his staff “for not counseling him that skipping the cemetery visit would be a public-relations nightmare.” Somehow he was not able to figure out for himself that doing so might not go over well.

I wondered about that at the time. Really, Trump-people? You thought it would be a good look for Trump to squat inside all day doing nothing instead of going to the cemetery, when observing the centenary of the end of World War One is what he was there for? It didn’t occur to you that that would be insulting to pretty much everyone there and a lot of people not there? Is he drugging you?

Trump’s firing of Jeff Sessions and appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general, a move meant to protect him from the Mueller investigation, is turning out to be a mini-scandal in its own right, to the point where the president vacillates between singing Whitaker’s praises and claiming he doesn’t know him.

Again – what did they think would happen?

Anyway. At least he’s miserable. That’s our only consolation these days.

Not due and not process

Nov 14th, 2018 10:38 am | By

I’m not a lawyer, obviously, but the Trump administration’s response in the CNN-Acosta lawsuit seems bonkers to me.

The White House asserts that it can pick and choose which journalists are given a permanent pass to cover it, according to a court filing by the Justice Department on Wednesday.

The filing was the government’s legal response to CNN and Jim Acosta’s lawsuit over the recent suspension of Acosta’s press pass.

Tuesday’s lawsuit against President Trump and several of his top aides alleged that the ban violates CNN and Acosta’s First and Fifth Amendment rights.

Virtually all of the country’s major news organizations have sided with CNN.

Even Fox. But the Trump gang says they have “broad discretion” to choose what journalists can set foot in their White House.

The government’s filing quotes a tweet by White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders in which she announced the suspension of Acosta’s pass and saying his “conduct is absolutely unacceptable.”

The “conduct” mentioned by Sanders in the tweet that the government lawyers cite actually refers to a false and since-dropped argument that Sanders had made in the aftermath of the press conference — that Acosta was “placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern.”

The administration has backed away from that argument in recent days, and it makes no appearance in the government’s first legal comment on the case Wednesday. Even when the filing directly quotes Sanders’ tweets, it leaves out that part.

The government’s lawyers said in Wednesday’s filing that the back and forth between President Trump and Acosta during last week’s press conference, during which Trump strongly criticized Acosta, qualifies as “due process.” They also cite Sanders’ statement the night of that press conference as “notice of the factual bases for denial.”

That’s the part where I decided they’re bonkers. Not just wrong and incompetents but nuts. They’re calling Trump’s rude inappropriate eruptions at Acosta “due process.” Come on.

Other news organizations are now standing with CNN. In a statement Wednesday, The Associated Press, Bloomberg, First Look Media, Fox News, Gannett, NBC News, The New York Times, Politico, USA Today and The Washington Post, among others, said, “Whether the news of the day concerns national security, the economy, or the environment, reporters covering the White House must remain free to ask questions. It is imperative that independent journalists have access to the President and his activities, and that journalists are not barred for arbitrary reasons. Our news organizations support the fundamental constitutional right to question this President, or any President. We will be filing friend-of-the-court briefs to support CNN’s and Jim Acosta’s lawsuit based on these principles.”

Note they will be filing actual briefs, not just tweets.

Jump the gun much?

Nov 14th, 2018 10:09 am | By

Group includes Rick Scott. Rick Scott hasn’t been elected yet (and may never be). The votes are still being counted.

Also…Leader McConnell? With the handle @senatemajldr? Is that clever? Does he really want to have to start a new account when he’s no longer the leader? Plus there’s the whole duce/führer thing. “Leader” as an official title has a certain ring to it now. I know it is the official title in the Senate, but that doesn’t mean he has to advertise it. I checked, and Nancy Pelosi on Twitter is just Nancy Pelosi @NancyPelosi, not Speaker Pelosi @housespkr.

Anyway. Rick Scott is not yet a member of the incoming class of Republican Senators, and we don’t know that he ever will be.

No YOU’RE the Nazi

Nov 14th, 2018 9:46 am | By

Trolling by snail mail, that’s new.

At least one other person did get one. The postmark is Grand Rapids (Michigan) – somewhat notorious for right-wing batshittery.

Ebullient no more

Nov 14th, 2018 9:32 am | By

Trump is having a sad. Or a cranky. Trump is having a sad and cranky. Poor Trump. Do we feel sorry for Trump? No.

For weeks this fall, an ebullient President Trump traveled relentlessly to hold raise-the-rafters campaign rallies — sometimes three a day — in states where his presence was likely to help Republicans on the ballot.

And, the LA Times doesn’t say but I do, joyously fanning the flames of racism and misogyny. He had himself a high old time encouraging his fans to give in to all their hatreds.

But his mood apparently has changed as he has taken measure of the electoral backlash that voters delivered Nov. 6. With the certainty that the incoming Democratic House majority will go after his tax returns and investigate his actions, and the likelihood of additional indictments by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, Trump has retreated into a cocoon of bitterness and resentment, according to multiple administration sources.

He’s lashing out at people, so they’re doing their best to avoid him. Aren’t we all.

Publicly, Trump has been increasingly absent in recent days — except on Twitter. He has canceled travel plans and dispatched Cabinet officials and aides to events in his place — including sending Vice President Mike Pence to Asia for the annual summits there in November that past presidents nearly always attended.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II was in Washington on Tuesday and met with Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, but not the president.

Well he didn’t run for president so that he could do a bunch of hard work.

Unusually early on Monday, the White House called a “lid” at 10:03 a.m. EST, informing reporters that the president would not have any scheduled activities or public appearances for the rest of the day. Although it was Veterans Day, Trump bucked tradition and opted not to make the two-mile trip to Arlington National Cemetery in northern Virginia to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, as presidents since at least John F. Kennedy have done to mark the solemn holiday.

Look, he wasn’t in the mood, ok?

Big concerns

Nov 14th, 2018 8:20 am | By

Why the Foreign Office is not eager to grant asylum to Asia Bibi:

The Foreign Office has been accused of allowing government asylum policy to be dictated to by a Pakistan mob after it was confirmed it urged the Home Office not to grant Asia Bibi political asylum in the UK out of fear for the safety of UK consular staff.

Her husband, Ashiq Masih, has appealed for help to Britain, Canada, Italy and the US but the UK high commissioner in Islamabad is reported to have warned he could not protect his staff if asylum was granted by the UK.

Tom Tugendhat, the foreign affairs select committee chair, asked the Foreign Office permanent secretary, Sir Simon McDonald, whether the episode “does not raise the question that either staff should be withdrawn or security increased or otherwise UK policy is effectively dictated to by a mob?”.

Tugendhat took the committee into lengthy private session after McDonald said he did not wish to give evidence in public on a such a sensitive issue.

And why is it so “sensitive”? Religious fanaticism.

The senior Labour MP Mike Gapes said: “Given the clear inability of this new Pakistani government of Imran Khan to stop these mobs from intimidating and killing Christians in Pakistan, is it not time to reassess our relations with Pakistan? There are big concerns if religious minorities in Pakistan are not safe.”

It’s not “if,” it’s “when.” Pakistan is “when.” Religious fanaticism is in the driver’s seat there.

It prohibited their ability

Nov 13th, 2018 4:53 pm | By

Well that was the best laugh I’ve had in a few hours.

Five hours ago: Pangburn Philosophy cancels all the things.

(You remember what “Pangburn Philosophy” is, right? A guy called Travis Pangburn who sells tickets to people who want to see Michael Shermer n Lawrence Krauss [oops] n Richard Dawkins n Sam Harris talking to each other for hours and hours and hours and hours?)

“what we believe to be some of the most important conversations in human history” – oh yes Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins agreeing with each other that women can be so tiresome; MOST IMPORTANT IN HISTORY. But despite that importance, they find they can’t remember what they did with all the money, so, soz, tour’s off.

Two hours later:

An hour after that:

Yes, that was a great laugh.

International Conference on Sharia, Segregation and Secularism

Nov 13th, 2018 3:58 pm | By

Via Maryam Namazie:

International Conference on Sharia, Segregation and Secularism
25 November 2018, Central London, 9:30-21:00

On 25 November, International Day against Violence against Women, there will be an international conference on Sharia, Segregation and Secularism in central London with 38 notable speakers from 24 countries and the Diaspora who are leaders in the fight for equality, secularism and against the far-Right and religious fundamentalisms of all stripes.
Keynote speakers at the conference are Centre for Secular Space Director Gita Sahgal, Southall Black Sisters Director Pragna Patel and Asia Bibi’s Lawyer, Saif Ul Malook. Asia Bibi is a Christian woman accused of blasphemy who was on death row in Pakistan for eight years. Saif Ul Malook successfully defended Bibi and she was released on appeal in November 2018.
Other distinguished speakers at the one-day event include Bangladeshi Writer Bonya Ahmed who survived a brutal attack which resulted in the murder of her husband Avijit Roy; Moroccan Activist Ibtissame Betty Lachgar; FEMEN Leader Inna Shevchenko; Algerian Sociologist Marieme Helie Lucas; Tunisian Filmmaker Nadia El Fani; Polish Secularist Nina Sankari and Women in Black Belgrade Co-Founder Stasa Zajovic.
The leading secularists and veteran women’s rights campaigners will discuss Sharia, Religious Arbitration and Family Law, the Politics of Collusion, Gender Segregation, the Veil, Women’s Bodily Autonomy and Secularism as a Defence of Women’s and Minority Rights.
There will be a dance and public art protest in solidarity with the women’s movement against compulsory veiling in Iran and an evening awards ceremony to recognise women’s rights campaigners. For the first time in the UK, there will be a screening of 3 Second Divorce by Shazia Javed. The new film explores the impact of instant triple-talaq on Indian Muslim women through intimate stories as well as behind-the-scene glimpses at the struggle of activists fighting for a legal ban on this practice.
The conference aims to gather secular and egalitarian forces, highlight voices from the frontlines, and reaffirm the centrality of the universality of rights and the principle of secularism – the complete separation of religion from the state.
The conference, organised by Maryam Namazie, will mark the 10th anniversary of the One Law for All Campaign for equality irrespective of background, beliefs and religions.
The Conference is sponsored by Bread and Roses TV; Center for Inquiry; Centre for Secular Space; Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain; Culture Project; European Network of Migrant Women; Equal Rights Now; Fitnah; Freedom from Religion Foundation; National Secular Society; One Law for All; Southall Black Sisters and Secularism is a Women’s Issue.
1.      The conference schedule and speaker biographies can be found on the conference website.
3.      For press passes or for more information, please contact:
Maryam Namazie and Sina Ahadi Pour via website or

That sounds like some mad-ass caricature

Nov 13th, 2018 3:36 pm | By

Jane Clare Jones has written a historical drama about the terf wars. Think Richard III with trans activists playing Plantagenet.

Prologue: A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

Transsexual women: We just want some basic human rights.

Women: Okay.

Transsexual women: We have this condition called gender dysphoria and it’s really painful and we need to transition to live as the other sex because it’s the treatment for the dysphoria.

Women: Yeah, that sounds tough. Okay, if that’s what you need to do.

Seems like another world, doesn’t it.

Trans activists: So hey, when we said we’d like you to treat us like women that wasn’t right, because actually, we ARE women and we demand that you treat us exactly like women because we are women and that you to stop violently excluding us from all your women things.

Women: Um, we thought you were male people who had to transition to help with your dysphoria?

Trans activists: No, that is out-dated and pathologizing. Women are women because they have a gender identity which makes them women.

Women: Um, we thought we were woman because we’re female?

Trans activists: No, you are women because you have magic womanish essence that makes you women. We have the same magic womanish essence as you, it’s just that ours got stuck in the wrong body.

Feminists: That sounds kind of sexist. Can you tell us what this woman-essence is, and how it gets stuck in the wrong body, because that sounds like a weird metaphys…..

Trans activists: It’s SCIENCE.

Feminists: Science says there’s ‘magic woman essence’??? Are you sure? Because feminism would…

Trans activists: Shut up bigots.

Jumping ahead (do read it all) –

*Enter Intersectional Feminists from top, bottom and side of screen….*


Feminists: Hang on, we thought you were feminists. We thought you cared about female people.

Intersectional feminists: Female people are so last century. Only White Feminists care about female people.

Feminists: White what?

Intersectional feminists: All the feminists before us were white middle-class women and they only cared about what white middle-class women care about and they were only interested in getting good jobs for white middle-class women and they didn’t care about Black women and were dried up whorephobic prudes who didn’t realize sex work was liberating and mostly they just wanted to kill trans people.

Feminists: That sounds like some mad-ass caricature.

Intersectional feminists: You would say that, you oppressive old crones. You’re just saying that to maintain your power.

Feminists: No we’re not, we don’t have much power. We’re saying it because it sounds like bullshit. *Starts trying to explain all the things second wave feminism did to help women*

Intersectional feminists: We’re not listening to you, you oppressive bitches. We’ve hidden all your books in the library to protect young minds from them. You are whorephobes and transphobes and racists. We are intersectional. Only we have learned from the Tumblr-oracle how all the different oppressions have different points on a scale that add up to who is the most oppressed and you are white (so are we mostly but we’re pointing at you because somehow that means something, maybe because we have asymmetric hair-cuts and our profile pics give great side-eye) and you are women and that means that you are the least oppressed and that means that your feminism is shit and that means that you have to centre all these other people in your feminism and if you refuse it’s because you’re the oppressors and the most oppressed people are trans women and they must be the centre of feminism from now on.

Feminists: You want us to centre male born people in our feminism?

Intersectional feminists: THAT’S RIGHT BITCHES. And there is no such thing as ‘male-born people.’ That is cissexism and is literal violence. You need to educate yourselves. We don’t have the spoons.

But at the end there’s a peripateia.

Il y a de la pluie

Nov 13th, 2018 11:27 am | By

Trump’s trolling today is aimed at France and Macron.

The US president’s Tuesday morning tweet exacerbates his standoff with Macron following his visit to Paris over the weekend that was marred by his controversial behavior.

Trump’s outburst came as France marked the third anniversary of the 2015 Bataclan terror attack in which a coordinated wave of suicide bombings and gun attacks left nearly 130 people dead.

In the tweet Trump repeated his accusation that Macron had called for a European army as protection against the US – an apparent misreading of Macron’s earlier comments.

It’s shameful that he’s still lying about what Macron said, because he’s been told it’s a lie.

Then he complained about wine and tariffs. No, excuse me, not tariffs but Tariffs.

Guy Verhofstadt, the chief representative for the European parliament on Brexit, shot back at Trump.

“What Trump doesn’t seem to realize is that without French money, the USA would not even exist as France financed the American revolution. They even gave you the Statue of Liberty to celebrate this!” Verhofstadt tweeted.

Trump has also been riled by Macron’s warning on Sunday, at a ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the first world war, about the thrust of global politics. Macron, clearly with Trump partly in mind, denounced those who embrace nationalism and put “our interests first”, adding that “our demons are resurfacing”.

So Trump carries on like a brass-wigged Hitler by way of demonstrating that he’s no demon.

Macron is not the only French element engaging in a social media dispute with Trump. On Monday the French army waded in, expertly playing the US president at his own game – trolling him.

Like so:

There’s a little rain, but it’s no big deal. We’re still motivated!

Polite warning

Nov 13th, 2018 10:51 am | By

Threatening to slice up women with a big knife is the hip new thing.

The tweet is now gone, but

The whole photo doesn’t show up so here:

The network’s chances of winning are good

Nov 13th, 2018 10:01 am | By

CNN is suing the White House to get Jim Acosta’s press pass back.

Legal experts say the network’s chances of winning in court are favorable. Although a court would likely give the president and Secret Service the benefit of the doubt if they barred a reporter due to security threats, the First Amendment protects journalists against arbitrary restrictions by government officials.

Who is more of a security threat to which? Acosta to Trump, or Trump to Acosta?

The suit names CNN and Acosta as plaintiffs. Trump, Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Bill Shine, [Sarah] Sanders and the U.S. Secret Service are named as defendants. It alleges a violation of the First Amendment, a violation of the Fifth Amendment, which guarantees due process in government actions, and a violation of the Administrative Procedures Act. It asks for the immediate restoration of Acosta’s credential, or restoration pending a hearing before a “neutral” arbiter.

In a defiant statement, Sanders called the suit “more grandstanding from CNN” and said the White House will “vigorously” defend itself.

“CNN, who [sic] has nearly 50 additional hard pass holders, and Mr. Acosta is no more or less special than any other media outlet or reporter with respect to the First Amendment,” she said.

What is this, high school??! Nobody said Acosta is special; the point is that his press pass was yanked for no real reason.

She made no mention of a physical altercation between Acosta and the press aide — the original reason the White House cited for the suspension — and instead said the suspension was because Acosta would not yield to other reporters.

“After Mr. Acosta asked the president two questions — each of which the president answered — he physically refused to surrender a White House microphone to an intern, so that other reporters might ask their questions,” Sanders said. “This was not the first time this reporter has inappropriately refused to yield to other reporters . . . The First Amendment is not served when a single reporter, of more than 150 present, attempts to monopolize the floor.”

That may be true, but it’s not the president’s job to micromanage the press. On the contrary: it’s the president’s job to not do that. It’s the president’s job to leave the press alone. That’s a first amendment issue but it’s also a conflict of interest issue. The president has an interest in favorable coverage, and that’s why the president has to be hands off.

Disputes have occasionally flared over which members of the press corps are qualified to receive a “hard pass.” But Trump’s action appears to be unprecedented; there’s no record of a president revoking such a pass from a reporter because he didn’t like the questions the reporter asked.

That’s not, by the way, because none of them have ever felt like it. I think it’s a pretty safe bet that they have all felt like it. But feeling like it isn’t doing it. Trump’s administration has a startling lack of impulse control.

Another possible parallel: A federal judge last year struck down Trump’s blocking of critics on Twitter. She ruled that the First Amendment prevented him from denying access to presidential statements due to a would-be follower’s opinions and views.

The same principle applies in the Acosta case, said Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, which brought the Twitter suit last year.

“The government cannot exclude reporters from [the White House] because of their views,” said Jaffer. “Once the government created a general right of access it cannot selectively withdraw it based on viewpoint. Viewpoint is not a criterion that establishes a media organization’s right to be at a news briefing.”

They’re supposed to be viewpoint-neutral, see.

CNN’s lawsuit, he added, “is critical to preserve the media’s ability to ask hard questions and hold the government accountable . . . It would be intolerable to let this kind of thing go unchallenged. Other reporters would end up hesitating before asking sharp questions, the White House would be able to use the threat of similar revocations for critical coverage, and media coverage of the White House would be distorted because of fear of official retaliation.”

Other journalists have been widely supportive of Acosta since Trump pushed him out last week. In a statement Tuesday, the White House Correspondents’ Association’s president, Olivier Knox, said the organization “strongly supports” CNN in regaining its access. He said the revocation of Acosta’s credential was a “disproportionate reaction” to the news conference incident. “The president of the United States should not be in the business of arbitrarily picking the men and women who cover him,” Knox said.

If Trump had his way there would be only people from Fox News and the National Review and the Weekly Standard at his press conferences (and he wouldn’t be all that sure about the last two).

Oh you do have the audio

Nov 12th, 2018 5:26 pm | By

From the Post:

Rep. Steve King, the newly reelected Iowa Republican with a history of incendiary comments about race and immigration, dared a conservative magazine to show evidence that he had called immigrants “dirt.”

“Just release the full tape,” King, who eked out a narrow victory last week despite affiliations with white nationalists, told the Weekly Standard’s online managing editor Saturday on Twitter. Days earlier, the magazine reported that King had made an inflammatory joke about immigrants.

The Weekly Standard released the recording — a two-minute audio in which King can be heard bantering with a handful of supporters at the back of an Iowa restaurant during a campaign stop on Nov. 5, the magazine reported. He talked about pheasant hunting and his “patented pheasant noodle soup” sprinkled with whole jalapeño peppers he had grown himself. Around the 1:20 mark, King joked that he’d have to get some “dirt from Mexico” to grow his next batch of peppers because they didn’t have enough bite.

“Trust me, it’s already on its way,” a woman quipped, appearing to refer to the caravan of Central American migrants traveling from Mexico to the U.S.-Mexico border.

King engaged, saying: “Well, yeah, there’s plenty of dirt. It’s coming from the West Coast, too. And a lot of other places, besides. This is the most dirt we’ve ever seen.”

The Weekly Standard reported on this charming “banter,” via the transcript but not including the audio. King’s chief of staff said it was all lies, and over the weekend King brawled with the editor on Twitter and said there was no audio.

“Trust me, it’s already on its way,” a woman quipped, appearing to refer to the caravan of Central American migrants traveling from Mexico to the U.S.-Mexico border.

King engaged, saying: “Well, yeah, there’s plenty of dirt. It’s coming from the West Coast, too. And a lot of other places, besides. This is the most dirt we’ve ever seen.”

Which was a very stupid thing to do, because then the WS posted the audio.

Hours later, on Saturday, the Weekly Standard did, along with a column from Hayes.

“So, King claimed our reporter lied. He didn’t. He claimed we didn’t have a recording. We did. He insisted we refused to release the audio. Untrue,” Hayes wrote.

The congressman, who shares President Trump’s hard-line immigration policies, has a long history of inflammatory rhetoric against immigrants, minorities and the media and has peddled conspiratorial views about “white genocide.”

He has compared immigrants to dogs. He said immigrants have “calves the size of cantaloupes” because they haul drugs across the desert. He tweeted a cartoon depicting President Barack Obama wearing a turban. He retweeted a self-described Nazi sympathizer. He endorsed a white nationalist mayoral candidate who questioned whether immigration is causing “white genocide.” He said he hoped Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor “will elope to Cuba.” He reportedly attacked the National Republican Congressional Committee for backing a gay candidate.

He met with members of the far-right Austrian Freedom Party, which has historical Nazi ties, during a trip financed by a Holocaust memorial group. In the aftermath of the mass shooting inside a synagogue in Pittsburgh, King defended associating with the Austrian party and said: “If they were in America pushing the platform that they push, they would be Republicans.”

On Election Day, King barred the Des Moines Register, Iowa’s largest newspaper, from covering his election night event, calling the paper a “leftist propaganda media outlet.”

But hey, let’s not be partisan about this. Let’s still be friends with Steve King, because after all friendship is much more important than mere politics.

The other party

Nov 12th, 2018 4:25 pm | By

This is dumb reporting: Kim Hart at Axios on what “Democrats” think of “Republicans” and vice versa.

Many Americans think people in the other party are ignorant, spiteful, evil and generally destroying the country, according to a new Axios poll by SurveyMonkey, aired on HBO on Sunday night. 61% of Democrats see Republicans as “racist/bigoted/sexist.” 31% of Republicans say they view Democrats in the same light.

Why it matters: If Americans are this convinced that the other side isn’t just wrong, but dumb and evil, they’ll never be able to find enough common ground to solve real problems. And they’re more likely to elect leaders who can’t do it, either.

So we should have one party instead of two or more?

But even more to the point, that’s not what the survey asked, at least not if the article is accurate. The question was:

What words would you use to describe the other party today?

Not “Republicans/Democrats” but the other party. The party is not the people who vote for the party. I vote for Democrats but that doesn’t make me a Democrat, and I’m not one. I’m well to the left of the Democratic party. I do think people who voted for Trump did a bad wicked thing, but I don’t assume they’re all Republicans, much less that they and the Republican party are the same thing.

The suspicion runs so deep that a third of all Americans say they’d be disappointed if a close family member married someone whose partisanship didn’t match their own, according to the poll for “Axios on HBO.”


This is the same bullshit as that stupid bald-headed meme about voting having nothing to do with friendship. Political views are closely related to moral views, and yes it is an obstacle to friendship (let alone marriage) to have radically different moral views.

No asylum please, we’re British

Nov 12th, 2018 3:42 pm | By

There have been stories for a couple of days – in the Guardian and the BBC I think – saying unconfirmed reports were that the UK government was refusing to give asylum to Asia Bibi. The Telegraph had a similarly tentative report yesterday:

Britain has not offered asylum to a Pakistani Christian woman freed after eight years on death row for blasphemy because of fear it would prompt “unrest” in the UK and attacks on embassies, her supporters claim.

“Her supporters claim,” but is it true? Unclear.

The mother-of-five remains hidden in Pakistan after Imran Khan’s government agreed to allow a petition against the court decision, as part of a deal to halt the protests.

A UK campaign group in touch with the family said the British government was working to help Asia Bibi, but had stopped short of offering asylum.

So, what, they’ll help with her luggage?

Wilson Chowdhry of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said: “Britain was concerned about potential unrest in the country, attacks on embassies and civilians.

“They have not offered automatic asylum, whereas several countries have now come forward. They won’t be coming to Britain. The family will definitely not be coming to Britain.”

He said Britain was “being helpful”, but it was “an enduring shame that a country with such a lauded history of helping refugees and asylum seekers, that when the Asia Bibi case has come before them, they haven’t been as generous as they have for many victims in the past”.

He went on: “It does seem to me that Britain is now a country that is unsafe for those who may be tarred with an allegation of blasphemy. We are very aware that there are extremist elements in this country.”

“Britain would have been one of their first choices. America, Britain and Canada, these would have been their first choices. It was a bit of a kick in the teeth.”

Fuel for the fires of the anti-immigration brigade, too, unfortunately.

Staying next to the heater

Nov 12th, 2018 12:16 pm | By


The White House on Monday confirmed that President Donald Trump will not visit Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day.

According to Washington Post correspondent Josh Dawsey, the White House announced “a lid” on presidential movements at 10 a.m. ET, meaning the president is not scheduled to leave the White House for the remainder of the day.

But isn’t he the president who never stops talking about “our great military” and how much he loves the military and how awesome “our great military” is and doncha wish you had one like it? Yet he can’t even tear himself away from the tv to go do a respect on the day set aside to honor veterans?

Oh and also? Don’t count their votes.

Early Monday morning, after returning from a European commemoration of the end of World War I and as Americans awoke to observe the Veterans Day holiday, President Trump announced a bold new strategy: refusing to recognize the votes of U.S. service members stationed overseas.

“The Florida Election should be called in favor of Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis in that large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere, and many ballots are missing or forged,” the commander in chief tweeted. “An honest vote count is no longer possible-ballots massively infected. Must go with Election Night!”

Trump, who has long argued without evidence that there was widespread voting fraud in the election that he won in 2016, was riffing off the tune played by Scott, Florida’s sitting governor, who leads his race to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson by less than 13,000 votes out of nearly 8.2 million votes counted. The slow pace of counting mail-in votes, particularly in urban (and blue-leaning) counties such as Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade, has led Scott to claim on Fox News — against the opinion of Florida’s top law enforcement agency — that “Sen. Nelson is trying to commit fraud to win this election.” What evidence does Scott have? None, other than that the offending South Florida counties “came up with 93,000 votes after election night. We still don’t know how they came up with that.”

Oh but we do know.

As it happens, we do know where those votes came from: Among other sources, many of the ballots that arrive after Election Day are cast by military service members, contractors and dependents deployed overseas.

Well then they should have mailed them sooner! Losers.

It’s raining in DC.

It wasn’t raining in DC.

We should note that this is the talk of authoritarians

Nov 12th, 2018 11:11 am | By

Jennifer Rubin puts it another (but related) way:

President Trump is back in the United States — and back to attacking democracy. He tweets:

I know, we’ve already seen the tweet, but it’s worth looking at twice.

We should note that this is the talk of authoritarians; it shows contempt for the office of the president, whom the Constitution designates to “to take care” that the nation’s laws are faithfully executed. It’s also a frightful peek at what he might do in 2020 should the vote not go his way.

You know, I think we’ve thought all this time (until Trump) that we were better than that. Not better as people, exactly, but better as a collective. Maybe it was just “better” in the sense of: because aware of what happened in Germany starting in the 30s. It’s not comfortable learning we’re not.

Trump’s appointment of an unqualified, radical political hack, Matthew G. Whitaker, as acting attorney general likewise shows his disdain for the rule of law and proclivity to impede or even crush the Russia probe. We should be worried that he is spoiling for a constitutional crisis that can rally his base.

Trump’s decision to revoke the press pass for Jim Acosta is a blatant violation of the First Amendment. (First Amendment guru Floyd Abrams confirms that CNN and Acosta would have a strong lawsuit, an option reportedly under consideration.) Once more, Trump violates his oath to preserve and protect the Constitution.

Can someone stop him? We don’t know.

Another step down the road

Nov 12th, 2018 10:46 am | By

So Tom Pepinsky looks at what it means when elections are delegitimized.

It is now the official White House position that constitutionally-mandated recounts are illegitimate.

In a month of harrowing news, this development is still almost incalculably bad for American democracy. I now assume that a substantial minority of Americans believe that the results of the elections in Florida, Georgia, Arizona, and California are democratically illegitimate unless the Republican candidate wins. Updating the lessons from the previous post,

  1. When electoral procedures lose popular legitimacy, it is nearly impossible to get that legitimacy back. Elections are one great way of building popular legitimacy, and if by assumption they no longer do, what will?
  2. Non-electoral sources of power are particularly dangerous when elections no longer legitimately empower politicians. It now falls to the very politicians who are involved in the recount to vouch for its legitimacy. The safest way to defend that legitimacy would be for the losing candidates to rebuke the President, directly and publicly. A public endorsement would be most meaningful if it were to come from, for example, DeSantis. Let us just ponder how likely that is.
  3. The downstream consequences from the loss of electoral legitimacy are nearly impossible to predict. I suspect that one consequence will be an ever-greater tolerance for executive malfeasance, on the logic that Congressional representatives and state governments lack democratic legitimacy.