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About the Never-Trump Skirmish of 2017

In 2016, Donald Trump started a hostile takeover of the Republican Party and he succeeded. The GOP and the larger conservative movement in America is becoming more and more like the man who “bought” the party in last year’s presidential election.  While for the most part policy is somewhat following a conventional GOP agenda, temperamentally it is a very different party. As columnist Michael Gerson wrote recently:

The war against terrorism has been rebooted on the basis of anti-Muslim bigotry, which undermines domestic law enforcement and anti-radicalization efforts. Authoritarian regimes around the world — now shielded from human rights criticism — feel more secure. Dissidents and democratic activists feel more lonely and abandoned. Fleeing refugees feel more desperate and friendless. The president is conducting delicate nuclear negotiations with demeaning pet names. Morale at the State Department is in collapse, leading to the hemorrhaging of diplomatic talent and experience. Trump has alienated important allies with demands for protection money. The United States has stepped back from effective economic competition in Asia, leaving China a more dominant regional power. Russia, in all likelihood, has helped elect a favorable U.S. president in the largest intelligence coup of modern history.

But even though a good chunk of the GOP is either falling for Trump or kissing up to him like one Vice President Mike Pence, there is a remnant of conservatives that hasn’t bent the knee to the President: that erstwhile group, of which I am a part, called “Never-Trumpers.”

The Never-Trump or Trump-skeptic group is a diverse group with different views on how to deal with Donald Trump. What unites them is that they see Trump as unfit to serve as Commander-in-Chief.  There are fissures in this group and they came to a head recently as a number of skeptics “fought” against each other.

There are basically two groupings of Never-Trumpers: the Revolutionaries and the Pragmatists.  The Revolutionaries see Trump as such a threat to the Republic that anything he supports has to be resisted. Because the GOP seemed to easily acquiesce to Trump, they now have doubts about the whole conservative project.  The most well-known people in this camp are former speechwriter for George W. Bush, David Frum, Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, and former presidential candidate Evan McMullin.

On the other side are the Pragmatists.  The Pragmatists don’t like Trump, but they concede he is the titular head of the party.  They have decided to work with him where possible, but also criticize the President when necessary.  While they are pragmatic, that doesn’t mean they don’t speak out with force; they are very clear where they stand.  Most of the representatives of this side of Never-Trumperland are found at the National Review and they include David French, Jonah Goldberg, and Weekly Standard publisher Bill Kristol.

The match that started a brief conflagration came when National Review editor Charles C. Cooke wrote an article criticizing Jennifer Rubin.  Since the rise of Trump, Rubin has been known to radically switch positions without really telling people why. Cooke wrote about Rubin’s flip-flops which started the online fight.  Here’s what he says:

The illustrations are endless. In two years, Rubin has gone from arguing that the “ludicrous,” “absurd” Iran deal “has to go” — and, indeed, that John Kasich was a fool for contending otherwise – to praising those who believe it must  remain in place as “reasonable” “experts,” and predicting that even to decertify would put “American credibility” at “risk.” In 2015, she wrote that “if you examine the Iran deal in any detail, you will be horrified as to what is in there.” In 2017, she characterizes this position as the “emotional” “temper tantrum” of an “unhinged president.” A similar metamorphosis has sullied her views on tax cuts, welfare, energy, and gun control (before, after), as well as her attitude toward Jews and anti-intellectuals, which once led her to defend Sarah Palin, but which now leads her to condemn Trump on almost all of the grounds she once dismissed.

This prompted a response from David Frum who saw Cooke’s article as a savage attack. Frum then criticizes Cooke and all of National Review for falling into line when it comes to Trump:

Rubin’s crime is that rather than waking up every morning fresh for each day’s calling of balls and strikes, she carries into her work the memory of the day before. She sees patterns where Cooke sees only incidents. She speaks out even when Cooke deems it prudent to hold his tongue.

In this course, Cooke is following the Republican leadership in the House and Senate and the more presentable of the conservative commentariat: Hope for the best. Make excuses where you can. When you can’t make an excuse, keep as quiet as you can. Attack Trump’s critics in the media and Hollywood when all else fails. That has also become the working position of many conservatives who in 2015 and 2016 called themselves “Never Trump.”

In the spring of 2016, National Review published its “Against Trump” issue. Twenty-one prominent conservatives signed individual statements of opposition to Trump’s candidacy. Of those 21, only six continue to speak publicly against his actions. Almost as many have become passionate defenders of the Trump presidency, most visibly the Media Research Center’s Brent Bozell and the National Rifle Association’s Dana Loesch.

So, who is right?

First, you should know where I stand. I tend to see myself as a Never-Trumper and have been since Trump started his campaign. Having said that, now I want to give my own view of this conservative remnant.

I tend to agree with Cooke about Rubin.  She has changed positions for what seems like no other reason than Trump supports it.  She tends to chew out anyone who dares support a bill that Trump might like.  Rubin kind of reminds me of how Andrew Sullivan acted in the latter years of George W. Bush; running around with your hair on fire.

The problem I have with the Revolutionaries is that they currently seem to want to burn everything down.  We see that with Rubin, but it is also at times what Evan McMullin and Max Boot have done.  McMullin has occasionally said things that seem like he is turning his back on conservatism as a whole. McMullin doesn’t seem to show any fealty to his former intellectual home, if only to present himself as a conservative alternative.  Boot wrote recently that he hoped Republicans would lose in the midterms.  In all three cases, it might feel good to seek the right side.  But at the end of the day, it doesn’t help reform conservatism.  In these polarized days, denouncing your side and not proposing solutions or alternatives, only makes you lose integrity among conservatives.  Burning bridges might feel good, but it won’t help change the movement.

The pragmatists can at times seem too accommodationist to Trump’s agenda.  They really aren’t.  The National Review has been a strong voice against Trump when it needs to.  That said, it can appear that they don’t want to rock the boat..  The fear from liberals and Never-Trump revolutionaries that we might become some living version of the Handmaids’s Tale hasn’t happened.  What is happening is actually a bit worse because it is so insidious. There is a breaking of social norms; lines have been crossed that had never been crossed before. How Trump has acted might not destroy American democracy as we’ve known it, but it will weaken its foundations, in ways that will take years if not decades to fix. Yes, he has governed in many ways like a normal Republican; but how he has expressed himself in the office falls far short of the expectations that come with being President.  Pragmatists see Trump kind of as a hurricane that will pass in time.  As much as I think Trump is full of air, I don’t see him as a storm that will pass.  Instead, Trump is more like a nuclear bomb that brings destruction and leaves areas toxic for years. What he is doing now will impact not just conservatism, but America as a whole for years to come.

A case in point is Trump’s treatment of persons of color. You could look at a recent story in the New York Times where Trump said all Haitians have AIDS and referred to Nigerian immigrants as not wanting to go back to their huts after seeing America.  You could also see how he treated Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Over and over again, he has not hesitated before treating Americans and others who aren’t white as less than human.  Or calling Mexicans rapists. Or refusing to condemn white supremacists after Charlottesville. All of this has an effect.  If one thought it was difficult to get Latinos and Blacks and Muslims to listen to what the GOP has to offer now, just wait.  Trump has made the GOP and conservatism toxic to people like me.  While I don’t think that means we should run around with our hair on fire, we ignore that Trump is doing things that will impact our society for a long time.

But while that toxicity is disconcerting, I still fault the revolutionaries for losing their heads at  every little thing the president does.  You can be concerned without falling off the deep end and pissing off people who aren’t as…”passionate” as you are. And if Trump has caused you to rethink your assumptions, for God’s sake, please tell people why.

What really needs to happen right now is a meeting of the two groups.They need to find ways to work together, even if they have different approaches to dealing with Trump. I doubt that will happen, but both sides need to see that they are on the same side and learn from each other about how to act in the age of Trump.


Staff Writer

Dennis Sanders is the Associate Pastor at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Minneapolis, MN.  You can follow Dennis through his blogs, The Clockwork Pastor and Big Tent Revue and on Twitter.  Feel free to contact him at dennis.sanders(at)gmail(dot)com.

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308 thoughts on “About the Never-Trump Skirmish of 2017

  1. I don’t know if it should be surprising that Jewish people on the right were and maintain to be the most alarmed and the most-strident anti-Trumpists. If Trump does (and I think he does) represent a strident form of ethno-nationalism and authoritarianism, Jewish conservatives like Jennifer Rubin and David Frum know the alarm bells of history. Now polling shows a strong potential for an anti-GOP tidal wave election in 2018 (and this is with a map highly favorable to the GOP). The GOP should be alarmed at Alabama and Virginia but they don’t seem to be or they think the writing is on the wall and they are going to do what they can before November 2018 to enact their donor’s wishes.

    But I have a different take on what is happening to Rubin. You say she is merely opposing things just because Trump is for them but what if Trump’s capture of the GOP tore something off her eyes? What if she is on the road to Damascus from right-wing politics? There is no reason why this isn’t plausible but it is not favorable to the conservative political world view. Much better to just call her a knee-jerk contrarian. But when I see her columns, I see someone who has become distgusted with GOP policy and is moving to the left.

    It might be rareish for people to change political ideology but it is not too uncommon or unheard of. It even happens with people moving from the right to the left. Not just people moving from the left to the right.

    This is still a free country and people are not forced to stay in the same political party or stance forever and yet this post seems rather angry at people not falling behind the party line. This is something I imagine you would be quite down if someone on the left was criticizing an alleged fellow traveler for.

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    • Whether or not Rubin is on the road to any kind of change in philosophy is impossible to say. Either way neocon horror of Trump is their just deserts for the Bush years. One of the few good things that could come out of the Trump presidency is a thorough and lasting discrediting of the executive branch.
      Empire and militarism seems all well and good until the plebes elect some charlatan too stupid to maintain a veneer of respectability over our self-destructive foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East.

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      • I see what you are saying but I am not sure I fully agree. I’d rather have Rubin doing what she is doing now over the people on the right who ostensibly denounce Trump’s language/vulgarity as corrosive for our democracy; but still end up taking no substantive actions against him. I’m largely looking at people like Avrik Roy and the Jeff Flakes here. Jeff Flake has done some things as objecting to Trumpism/Mooreism but he still voted for the horrible tax bill.

        What use is Avrik Roy’s alleged heart breaking over the reasons many are against the welfare state if he also going on to cheer people being “liberated” from health care access.

        Rubin has or had many faults. I found her conduct prior to 2016 largely horrible. But 2017 Rubin has written some of the most forceful columns against the GOP congress and their actions. This is much more than Jeff Flake has ever done. Or Avik Roy.

        The OP seems to be largely on the side of the people saying “Yeah Trump is a racist, bigot, and a vulgarian but we control the government; and can put enough Federalist society lackeys on the Judiciary to stymie progressives/liberals for decades to come!!! The #NeverTrumpers are throwing too much sand into this. Just denounce Trump’s language and fret but full speed ahead man.”

        Rubin comes out better here for the reasons I wrote about below. Anyone who ends up trying to align with Trump for temporary advancement of long-held goals; ends up looking deeply debased. Trump debases everything he touches and yet there are still people trying to defend him and/or treating Trump as the head of the GOP? Because what? Because they can’t give up on their illusions on the importance of small government? Because admitting that Trump is toxic and also the head of the GOP means that they need to vote for Democrats?

        I am not feeling much sympathy to the thesis of the essay here. It seems to be doing everything it can to say “But I just don’t want to admit that Democrats/Liberals/The Left might be right here…”

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        • Maybe she pulls an Andrew Sullivan (frustrating as I can still find him at times), and if so, I’ll give her credit. To me though that requires a little more than finding Jesus only after the obviously evil guy you’ve been happily breaking bread with pulls off his mask and announces that he is in fact Satan. She’d need to own some of those old pieces/stances.

          In that respect I very much differ from the OP on Sullivan. His change on Iraq is the biggest reason I can take him seriously. Say what you want about his emotional swings but he isn’t a sycophant. I don’t think it’s at all clear that Rubin would be writing these articles if, say, Romney was president and the Congressional GOP agenda was the same (which it has been since at least 2012).

          As for the rest of the NeverTrumpers I think we are in agreement. If they exist they’re at the margins of conservative intelligentsia, and their opposition strikes me as more of a cultural distaste. They certainly aren’t putting up any hurdles for Trump. The struggles Congress has had seem to arise from contradictions in the conservative coalition than anything to do with the president.

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      • This post made me rather livid as you can tell from my number of comments! But there is nothing redeemable about Trump. I think Dennis knows this. I think a lot of conservatives know this but they are still holding on to trying to do defenses/apologia for Trump to varying degrees. And they do seem to think Trump deserves some deference because he took over the GOP.

        I just can’t stand for this. The idea needs pushback. Pushback hard!!

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      • Good points [InMD]; citing Gerson’s list of Neo-Con foreign policy issues is perhaps a microcosm of the failed Neo-Con-never-trumpening. None of the issues listed by Gerson had anything to do with the election.

        What’s strange is that Trump is basically a Neo-Con whose major sin is not promoting Neo-Cons… that’s the meta-point of Cooke’s critique. What happens when you get everything you want (and more!) but not in ways you prefer or control. And that is mostly the rage behind that faction’s nonsense and why Never-Trumpism in its institutional form is bad politics and not something we should encourage.

        I’ve said it before and will say it again, the Republican party of the Conservative Movement (TM) is probably dead… certainly mostly dead. What comes next or what exactly the Republican party might be in 2018 or 20 or 24 I’m not entirely sure… but I’m not spending any political capital to put Rubin and the Neo-Cons back in charge. RIP.

        [in response to InMD… threaded way down here]

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      • Only if the road to Damascus is circular.

        Cooke’s piece is pretty devastating… a President Jeb!, Romney$, or Rubio^ would have had Rubin’s full support in:

        1. Scrapping the Paris Climate Accords
        2. Moving the capital to Jerusalem
        3. Pulling out of the Iran Nuclear deal.

        Plus…

        1. Increased military aid against ISIS
        2. Bombing Syria
        3. Arming Ukraine
        4. Aggressive sabre rattling for North Korea.

        All of this should have been done years ago, and it is a mystery why the Obama administration did not take the lead on sanctions but, as in the case of Iran, instead had to be dragged down that route by Congress. But better late than never. It is welcome that policymakers in Washington and Seoul are giving up any illusions that North Korea under the present regime is capable of meaningful reform or that it can be enticed into better behavior by handouts or diplomatic outreach.

        The only policy that makes any sense is the one outlined by North Korea experts Sung-Yoon Lee and Joshua Stanton: “Sanction North Korea, and don’t stop until it disarms and begins irreversible reforms.” Or, if reforms do not come, do not stop until the odious regime in the North collapses and North and South Korea can be reunited — as spelled out by another North Korea expert, Sue Mi Terry, in this Foreign Affairs article.”
        ~Max Boot

        Trump is a giant Neo-Con-Monster-Baby… its ok to say we have to fight the monster, but the monster the Neo-Con’s end will be themselves.

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        • Precisely. You can also throw in coming down on the Europeans for being free riders on defense. Trump’s positions are a John Bolton type’s wish list. It’s like the neocons have finally been forced to look at themselves in the mirror and don’t like what they see.

          As for the future of the GOP I have no idea whats coming. I keep expecting them to fracture and maybe Trump will finally cause it to happen but I have my doubts. We’re voting for our tribes and as long as some general conservative culture exists out there and its mouthpieces support Republicans they’ll stumble along no matter the total incoherence on policy/governing.

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            • With one exception: John Bolton is intelligent and educated (if, IMO, misguided), and evidences respect for others who are educated and intelligent.

              Could you really see a President Bolton elbowing the Prime Minister of Montenegro aside to take pole position at a photo op? President Bolton would listen to a foreign head of state explain, in succinct, clear, and evidence-backed terms why the United States needed to side with his country on an issue, and nod sagely, indicating that he understood and would carefully consider what he had just learned. Then, of course, he’d order the exact opposite and call it “realism.”

              But the tone would be different and that is something that matters. Even the Republicans who quietly approve of most things Trump is doing but recoil at the man’s base vulgarity seem to realize that much.

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        • The funny thing about recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is that he has effectively ruined that as a campaign promise.

          No politician, ever again, will be able to say that he supports such a thing.

          He completely broke that.

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            • I disagree; this is the best argument for Rubin’s approach. If Trump breaks every idea, the most important thing is to get him out as quickly as possible before he breaks any more. The incremental cost of opposing him even on things you agree with him on is quite small, since he’s broken the idea anyway.

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          • Yes, this unfortunately is correct. Both parties are very guilty of fearing the power inherent in a branch of government that they do not control, at this exact moment, but are willing to trust in the wisdom and prudence of the leaders of whatever institution happens to be under their fellow-partisans’ sway. There is no reason to think either party will ever learn to address checks and balances otherwise, and this predates Trump.

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            • I would argue this is much less a problem with the parties, and much more a problem with the system they navigate.

              I also am much less concerned about the expansion of executive power than the modal OTer, I expect. Much of it is, IMO, the appropriate functioning of a constitutional check on a Congress that is unwilling to govern for (mostly) partisan purposes.

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          • All power is dangerous, no matter who holds it, but tell me you wouldn’t be less nervous if war powers were unambiguously held by the legislature, like they’re supposed to be, instead of with the President like they have been for decades.

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            • Held by, say, Louie Gohmert? Virginia Foxx? Roy Moore? Lindsey Graham?

              You speak as if Trump were an anomalous madman in a party full of sober responsible Great Men.

              It was Congress in 2003-2006 that rose to its feet to give thunderous approval to the Iraq war and the creation of a gulag archipelago of black sites.

              And this newer generation of legislators is even darker and more filled with rage than that one.

              If Trump demanded a full scale war with North Korea tomorrow, which figures in the GOP would fail to jump to obedience?

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              • If Trump demanded a full scale war with North Korea tomorrow, which figures in the GOP would fail to jump to obedience?

                North Korea is very close to the theoretical “nuclear armed madman” problem. War may be the least destructive way to deal with them.

                Probably it should be China invading rather than us but whatever.

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                  • Sometimes, but the Westminster system seems to do pretty well at avoiding that problem. By contrast, nearly every county that uses a variant of your constitution turns into a basket case. I blame George Washington, his suitability as a leader led the framers to invest far too much power in the President.

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                    • Yes, I think the Democrats are relatively unlikely to push a constitutional amendment that effectively abolishes the office of the President, however much they probably should.

                      Anything short of that is unlikely to work.

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                      • What about giving the senate the power to veto executive orders and to remove executive officers (e.g., secretaries and undersecretaries) for no confidence (instead of only for high crimes and misdemeanors)? I can see how a president could still game such a system, but it would be a check on the presidency without abolishing it.

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                    • The Framers were working with the system they thought they knew best, the British one. The Constitution was an idealized and republicanized version of the British constitution after the Glorious Revolution. You just call the King, a President and don’t have it as a hereditary office and change the House of Lords into a Senate and voila, the American constitution.

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                      • The founders never could’ve envisioned an administrative state like most first world bureaucracies or our mass media and the powerful bully pulpit it gives the executive. It’s why the kind of, shall we say extra-constitutional activity, we now take as a given was sporadic and mostly reversible up through the early 20th century. Any thesis also needs to take into account our emergence as a super power after World War 2 and the endless military commitments ever since. Its no accident that most of the power grabs have been related to actual or imagined threats to national security where the president operates with the least restriction. I don’t know that the Westminster system would’ve done much to alleviate this particular dynamic, even if there are other arguments for it.

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                      • Oh, indeed. Its just a pity the Founding Fathers were working with the 18th Century version of the system. But that’s why they put an amendment process in the Constitution – they knew they didn’t have all the answers.

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                        • Just my opinion, but they set the bar too high. We had to fight a war in order to get amendments doing away with slavery. Direct election of Senators happened only when we were within sight of a Constitutional Convention, the US Senate knew the battle was lost, and were more scared of what else a Convention might do. Otherwise we’ve tinkered with the franchise and some details, but no significant structural changes. (Sanity check: states in the American West, with less history, almost all decided that it was better to err on the side of making it too easy to make changes and added amendments by citizen initiative.)

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                          • …they set the bar too high. We had to fight a war in order to get amendments doing away with slavery.

                            I doubt the South would have cooperated with getting rid of Slavery via Constitutional amendment.

                            In terms of political power for that time period I’d call it at best a 50/50 split slave vs free… and if one side had more it might have been the slave states since they wanted it more than the free states wanted to get rid of it. Every “compromise” ended up either a tie or moving the needle towards slavery.

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                            • I agree with the cause of the Civil War wasn’t that it was too hard to amend the Constitution, the cause was that the South was willing to flip the table rather than lose on slavery.

                              That said, yes I think the amendment process is probably too hard.

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                              • I’m thinking about it from the other direction. If there had been no Civil War, no Reconstruction, if the southern states had simply dug their heels in and said “We’re going to hang on as long as possible, in hopes of a better opportunity for separation down the road,” with their Senators voting against Amendments and the legislatures voting against ratification or a convention… How long before the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments passed? 20 years? 40? Would the 16th have passed if there were no Civil War income taxes? And there’s some chance that the North and West simply throw up their hands at some point and say, “Fine. Go your own way.”

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                                • Ah, I see that makes more sense. Personally, I doubt that would have happened though, after all a Republican-controlled Federal government could have repealed the Fugitive Slave Act, and would probably have been enough to put the Southern States in a table-flipping mood.

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                                  • that would have happened though, after all a Republican-controlled Federal government could have repealed the Fugitive Slave Act

                                    This.

                                    People, thanks to goofy ‘states right’ rewriting of history, tend to assume that the states were leaving each other alone.

                                    In reality, the slave and free states were waging a legal war, with free states bordering slave states trying to make slaves that cross the line free, which had weakened slavery in those slave states to very low levels as slaves, basically, just kept walking across the border. (Turns out escaping from slavery is pretty easy when a slave can just slip out after dark and walk to freedom before anyone notices he’s missing.) Which meant that, at some point, those border states would stop having slaves, so stop voting as slave states, and, become free states, and the _next_ set of states would become border states. And the cycle would start over…and also at some point constitutional amendments could be made.

                                    So the slave states had countered with the Fugitive Slave Act, which meant literally anyone could just claim someone with a dark skin was an escaped slave and free state authorities were required to arrest them.

                                    At the point of the election of Lincoln, the two parts of the country were basically in an escalating cold war. Actually, a lukewarm war, considering the ‘slave raiding parties’ that had started where groups of slaveholders would cross over into free states and basically just kidnap black people.

                                    It is easy to imagine a history where it’s the free states that flips the table. A lot of the state governments were in explicit and open refusal to follow the federal law of the Fugitive Slave Act. And even in the places where Federal agents arrested people who wouldn’t follow the law, juries were nullifying convictions for that left and right.

                                    I’m not sure exactly how they would have flipped the table, though.

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                                • How long before the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments passed?



                                  Some of the “compromises” on slavery were pretty ugly. A lower bar back might have resulted in slavery (or slavery-lite) being the law of the land.

                                  I’m not sure what good ideas didn’t make it into the Constitution because of the high bar but there’s a ton of bad ones which got thrown out.

                                  Women having the Constitutional right to equal pay presumably outlaws the free market if that AM does something more than federal law.
                                  Flag burning gets outlawed.
                                  Personhood starts at conception.
                                  Marriage is defined as straight only.

                                  We got Prohibition even with a really high bar.

                                  Would the 16th have passed if there were no Civil War income taxes?

                                  Yes. The 16th passed in 1913, the Civil War income tax was in 1863. The income tax was a serious idea in this country starting in 1812, at some point politicians would want the money and the people would want “free” stuff.

                                  Sooner or later the country would be leaning left far enough that it’d look like a good idea.

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            • Legislatures — at least those likely to win — have become reluctant to declare war, I think, because of the burdens they are taking on when they win. Suddenly they are an “occupying power”, with responsibilities for governing and humanitarian aid. It’s not just the US who has denied being an occupying power: Israel’s top courts have ruled that Israel is an occupying power, which the Knesset ignores.

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          • I would object to Trump as an honorary figurehead. As the public voice and face of the United States, the President sets a tone that Americans follow and the rest of the world reacts to. Trump is a vulgar man whose racism shines through whatever veneer his aides try to apply; he is an intemperate, impatient man in thrall to his own ego. He is every negative, disparaging stereotype held about Americans. He is not the best of us; he is the worst of us.

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        • Probably not. The Democratic Party is largely but a party built of government skeptics. The bias in the Democratic Party (and I share it) is that government can and should be a force for good in the world. Government is a necessary counterbalance to wealth and the vagaries of the market.

          In a realpolitik sense, Democrats need a strong executive to get things done. The differences between the two parties policy wise is too vast for bipartisan compromise in Congress. The GOP are also acting in bad faith.

          A lot of libertarians have this misguided hope that Democrats are going to become government skeptics because of Trump. But Democrats still believe in the welfare state.

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          • I get that a modern administrative stature requires a more active executive than the Founding Fathers envisioned, that’s not my concern. My concern is that the US system has precious few controls over Presidential power in practice. War powers have been entirely annexed by the President, and regulatory agencies have a distressing habit of just reinterpreting their rules Tom suit new policy demands, instead of policy being directed by the legislature.

            Don’t get me wrong, Congress deserves a big part of the blame. But for a century now, the President has been getting more and more powerful, and its becoming dangerous. Trump is just a harbinger of the sort of disaster this could cause.

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            • I suspect a number of “norms” regarding the President are going to be codified into “laws” in the near future, which is….something, I suppose.

              I mean “We’re going to forbid by law things we hadn’t before because nobody would do these things” is technically limits, right?

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              • I mean “We’re going to forbid by law things we hadn’t before because nobody would do these things” is technically limits, right?

                As I said literally Trump’s second week in office:

                As far as I can tell, it is not illegal for the executive branch to issue someone documentation that says they have permission to enter the country (Aka issue them a visa), and then the same executive branch absurdly bar that person from physically entering the country. Probably because that’s so dumb no one bothered to make a law about it.

                It’s like we’re suddenly parents of a toddler and we’re having to run around saying a bunch of utterly crazy things like ‘Do not eat that ball of hair’ and ‘Do not climb the refrigerator shelves’ and ‘Do not bar people with valid visas from entering the country’…it’s like, who the hell knew we needed those rules?

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                • You will explain why we do not put blueberries in orifices other than our mouths. You will field impossible requests from tiny dictators and weave magic for tyrants with attention deficit. You will say “no” in an increasingly callous way and you will hear, a thousand times, “why.” It will buzz in your dreams like a whiny mosquito. You will be dazed by toddlerian twists of logic and tripped up by twisty teen nihilism. One of them will say, “Geography is a waste of time. We only name things so that we can control them.”
                  You’ll reply, “It didn’t work with you, did it?”

                  From an essay by Lisa Renee

                  Not actually about Trump, but then, we can’t really be sure, now can we?

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          • @saul-degraw

            I don’t expect the Democrats to become government skeptics, unless government skeptic means things like living up to Obama’s campaign promises about constitutional limits around executive use of military force. You can support a robust social safety net, environmental protections, labor protections, etc. (all things I favor) and still be unhappy with a system that allows one person control over the biggest war machine the world has ever known and a bunch of shady intelligence agencies with histories of abusing their power. It’s bad enough when we have a normal politician in charge.

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            • I don’t expect the democrats to become government sceptics even if that is what you mean by it. History suggests the Democratic Party is perfectly fine with human rights violations, so long as they are the ones doing them.

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            • I largely concur . But the enemy of my enemy is my friend is a powerful psychological force. I see lots of Democrats supporting the CIA and FBI just because Trump tweets against them seemingly.

              Some of these are the gooiest bleeding hearts imaginable. Which makes me to the left of them?

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              • But the enemy of my enemy is my friend is a powerful psychological force. I see lots of Democrats supporting the CIA and FBI just because Trump tweets against them seemingly.

                I don’t know if that is ‘the enemy of my enemy’ logic or just ‘A large portion of those agencies are made up of professionals and we shouldn’t pretend otherwise, even if those agencies occasionally abuse their power’.

                Although I’m not quite sure of this premise that the Democrats are normally against those two institutions.

                The FBI, maybe, and that’s just because they have very recently screwed up an election.

                Although in reality there has always been a fascist anti-left section of the FBI that seems to think any sort of left-leaning political group is inches from a communist coup, and the fact we keep learning how they ‘used’ to spy on parts of the left, and that is is all in the past…at some point, should result in people realizing they have never stopped doing that, and it is a systematic problem in the FBI. (Meanwhile, while they are spying on the Sierra Club and other fairly moderate left groups, they keep have to be forced by the DoJ to keep paying attention to far-right groups, you know, the actual groups that commit domestic terrorism.)

                But everyone, including Democratic leaders, keep ignoring that. Guys, those anti-Hillary people in the FBI, the people who forced Comey’s hand, didn’t just appear from thin air, they showed up because somewhere in the FBI is a big cancerous lesion that thinks ‘Left equal a threat to this country and we need to stomp it out via any means necessary’ that Hoover installed in the FBI and it never really got removed. The apolitical nobility is at the top, and it’s something the top brass is trying to force on everyone there, but there are multiple abusive areas that think ‘people marching for equality’ or something like that is a sort of suspicious behavior that needs investigation, and the FBI is completely unwilling to route those people out.

                As for the CIA…I am unaware of the Democrats having any real problem with them at all….despite the fact the CIA is front and center in most things that are misuses of American military power, mostly because the military really doesn’t want to participate in those things. They did the torture, and while the military was also doing drone strikes, the CIA was doing drone strikes the military wouldn’t.

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                • Seeing the world as a nuanced place is difficult for political types.

                  The idea that the CIA and FBI have many moving parts and different competing agendas all within a single organization is a fact that escapes most polemics.

                  The FBI prosecuted the KKK and tormented MLK; the CIA provides accurate intelligence and supported illegal coups;
                  And both organizations are often used as tools for political ends.

                  Being “for” or “against” these organizations is the telling sign of ideologues.

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                • This is what I mean. I see lots of people in the Democratic Party, people who want pony and unicorn welfare states, defend the FBI and CIA because Trump bashes them.

                  When I remind people of all the spying that the FBI did on left groups, it is hand waved away. A product of the bad old days. Or people simply don’t know.

                  Then again, it is only in American political culture that the Democratic Party is considered far left. We have so many right wing loons that it makes the Dems, a bunch of left wing radicals.

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                • …those anti-Hillary people in the FBI, the people who forced Comey’s hand, didn’t just appear from thin air, they showed up because somewhere in the FBI is a big cancerous lesion that thinks ‘Left equal a threat to this country and we need to stomp it out via any means necessary’…

                  Ah, the HRC as ‘victim’ card. Your motivation is weak, HRC hardly hits the radar as some marching radical, more like an openly corrupt politician. Making the assumption the FBI attracts people who treat the law seriously, let me suggest how it would have looked from their point of view.

                  HRC’s various ethical “lapses” seriously offended people in the FBI in the same manner that OJ does. She’s repeatedly been investigated for things most people (even politicians) would be destroyed over. She’s been too clever to be arrested every time, but her charity and various other ways of monetizing her position hit their radar as illegal in spirit if not provably illegal in practice. Certainly none of their careers would survive them having their own personal email server and being so criminally careless with state secrets.

                  This time she was corrupting law enforcement itself. The clearest demonstration of this was when her husband met with the AG a few hours before she was going to announce the result of the investigation… however there were other issues. Obama made statements which could be interpreted as what he wanted the results of her investigation to be long before it was done and the investigation itself was run by various supporters and inappropriately treated her with kid gloves.

                  And they made it clear internally they wouldn’t put up with HRC continuing to corrupt the FBI itself and Comey’s hand was forced.

                  Her problem wasn’t she was of the Left (she was a friend of law enforcement during Bill’s tour). Her problem was her “not provably convictable in court” level of ethics and expecting the FBI to provide political coverage.

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  2. Latest report on Trump’s racism, xenophobia, and bigotry. If the report is accurate, Trump said that Haitians “all have AIDS” and that Nigerians all “live in huts.”

    What I see on going on in the right (from an outsider, left, and partially gloating) perspective is to the extent that right-leaning intellectuals and writers want to deal or not deal with how much of Trump’s open bigotry was a feature and not a bug for many GOP voters. We saw some of this cracking in 2016 with Avik Roy admitting that a lot of people might have said that they were against government provided healthcare, not because of firm ideological beliefs/ideals in the scope and size of government but merely because they disliked people of color. Trump came along and promised welfare state for white people but not for people of color and lots of GOP voters said “Hey, this sounds pretty good.” Poor ol’ Avik Roy had no idea how to handle this one. He still thrilled at “liberating” people from the ACA when the ACA repeals seemed like they would happen.

    This kind of struggle is going on as we speak. Lots of the think tankers and wonks with right-leaning ideals/beliefs in the small state are thrilled that the GOP controls all three branches of government (with plenty of young GOP judicial nominees to be around for decades) and they can finally achieve their dreams but it comes with needing to support someone like Trump with his open authoritarianism, demands of ass-kissing todayism, and bigotry. This is not ideal. So you see lots of contortions at defending the slashing of the welfare state and regulation while pretending to be high-minded and denouncing Trump’s vulgarity and style.

    Jennifer Rubin made a moral choice. She found that it was not worth it to defend the ideals and goals of the right if it meant supporting Trump and seeing him as the head of the party and giving him some fealty as leader. I think she made a right choice. Kissing Trump’s ring only seems to lead to humiliation, ruin, and moral/ethical bankruptcy.

    But there are still plenty of slash the welfare staters out there who might say they deplore Trump but the promise of achieving long-term goals is just too great for them. They are falling for the bait.

    I think these people are going to end up with a serious amount of egg on their face from their devil’s agreement.

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    • I’d give the New York Times story about a 5% chance of being true and a 95% chance of being more made-up news. The meeting is supposed to have occurred in June, yet only now does some anonymous person mention it? It reminds me of last week’s story about how Trump banned the CDC from using words like “fetus”, “transgender”, “entitlement”, and “science-based”, which of course turns out to be nonsense despite CNN’s breathless reporting.

      So we have the New York Times pumping out paragraphs like this:

      Haiti had sent 15,000 people. They “all have AIDS,” he grumbled, according to one person who attended the meeting and another person who was briefed about it by a different person who was there.

      Forty thousand had come from Nigeria, Mr. Trump added. Once they had seen the United States, they would never “go back to their huts” in Africa, recalled the two officials, who asked for anonymity to discuss a sensitive conversation in the Oval Office.

      That sounds like reporting from a junior high school student paper, and the story was flatly denied by people actually there, like generals Kelly, McMaster, Secretary of State Tillerson, etc.

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      • I’d give the New York Times story about a 5% chance of being true and a 95% chance of being more made-up news.

        So by “made-up news” do you mean that there’s somebody at NYT just fabricating stuff and attributing it to sources in the White House?

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          • I keep trying to pin this stuff down because I keep seeing people shouting “fake news” and then when pressed on it, they come up with stories about how the MSM angers them by running too many (true) stories about one thing and putting their thumb on the scale in a way they don’t like. I just want to know:

            1) What’s fake?
            2) How do we know it’s fake?
            3) How do we decide what’s true other than just clinging to what makes us feel good?

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            • I am generally skeptical of these ‘readouts’ of meetings that attribute direct quotes of persons that are not the source themself. (And further skepticism if there’s an additional layers of ‘sources familiar with what happened because they were told about it later).

              Bon Woodward made his entire post-Watergate career writing books with this method.

              That said, this particular story, even though in additiom it validates my priors, does nonetheless seem ‘real’ enough, and sourced well enough despite the telephone game it plays.

              Eta – I kinda miss that they don’t tape conversations in the Oval Office anymore, which have proven to be a real treasure trove for historians and other students of executive decision making.

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              • I’d also say that normally ‘those that say, don’t know, and those that know, don’t say’, but every villian in this administration is the monologuing sonnava gun type.

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        • So by “made-up news” do you mean that there’s somebody at NYT just fabricating stuff and attributing it to sources in the White House?

          Someone who dislikes Trump, maybe never-Trump, maybe some bureaucrat, maybe some Dem, says they heard Trump said “X”.

          The reporter thinks it sounds like something Trump would do so there’s no effort at what would normally be called “journalistic ethics” and it’s published.

          The result is the media looks a lot like an arm of the Democratic party.

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          • The reporter thinks it sounds like something Trump would do so

            That this is entirely consistent with Trump’s 40 year public record is even more damning to Trump than a direct tape recording.

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            • They’ve been ignored in most other cases, so it’s safe to assume they’ve been ignored in this one.

              Was it two weeks ago that they were all breathlessly reporting that Wikileaks had given special, early, inside access to their cache of DNC files to Donald Trump Jr? Pundits at MSNBC, CNN, CNBC, and other outlets ran full tilt with it, and then it turned out that Trump Jr. got the e-mail the day after I and millions of other people had been given access to the document dump.

              This has been going on for well over a year, and once reliable outlets are now as dependable as Alex Jones [i]Inforwars[/i].

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                • “once reliable outlets are now as dependable as Alex Jones [i]Inforwars[/i].”

                  That’s a clear statement that they’re equally likely to be right, ie, there’s no reason to put any trust in them. [I’m not agreeing with it, to be clear, just parsing it for you.]

                  Unless George went back and edited, there’s no reason to assume he’s saying that Infowars is more likely to be correct.

                  This topic is contentious enough without y’all jumping to conclusions about everything each other says.

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            • Do we have any evidence that in this particular case journalistic ethics were ignored?

              Do you have any evidence to suggest ethics were followed? (Yes, I think we’ve hit that point).

              My basic assumption at the moment is yes, Trump is a terrible person. And yes, the media seems unable to apply their journalistic ethics where he’s concerned.

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                • Does the failed O’Keefe “sting” do anything for you?

                  That’s a good example on how the world is supposed to work.

                  But to the best of my knowledge, that “sting” wasn’t offering anything about Trump.

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                  • Is your position that these outlets are generally ethical but they make an exception for Trump? Is there some pattern you’re noticing in the data?

                    I know that sometime back you rejected the idea that that the disparity in bad news about presidential behavior had something do to with Trump’s behavior being different, but is there something more than that disparity that’s driving this claim?

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                    • The problem with Trump is he’s always heinous, and he’s also always inflaming everyone on the left, and he also has tons of political enemies. So it’s very hard to be neutral about Trump and give him the benefit of the doubt because he inspires strong feelings and he’s legitimately a monster.

                      Of course if (when) the media steps into the slime pit with him then they’ve stepped into the slime pit with him and it hurts them more than it does him. He doesn’t need to care about his rep but they really should.

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                    • Well, one question to ask is whether most of the errors made (that were then retracted) were lopsided in one particular way.

                      Everybody makes mistakes, after all.

                      If the retracted mistakes are about 50/50 in favor vs. against, then we’re good. (Let’s say 60/40. For variance’s sake.)

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                        • Well, if you ask “So it is your position that, when dealing with Trump, otherwise reputable news sources throw out journalistic ethics in most cases involving anonymous sourcing?”, I can’t help but notice that that is a question that deals with a proposition that can’t realistically be proven one way or another.

                          HOWEVER! You know what *IS* a provable proposition?

                          Whether news stories that have to go on to be retracted were originally news stories that told about Trump doing a bad thing and then, after more information comes out, well… maybe the original story was oversold as to how bad it was.

                          (To be contrasted with the original story saying that Trump did something good and then, when more info comes out, it turns out that the original story wasn’t as good as the news originally painted it.)

                          It gives a proposition that is testable.

                          If I can find a handful of news stories that go on to be retracted and the original stories were painted as being worse than the retractions eventually showed them as being, that seems to me that that would demonstrate something.

                          And if the retracted stories involved anonymous sources, hey, we might just be able to establish a pattern of, if not a lack of ethics, a surplus of enthusiasm for running stories that would have benefitted from more journalistic care.

                          Want me to find you the handful of stories that went on to be retracted?

                          If not, could you give me a better restatement of your preferred proposition that would be testable-in-theory one way or the other?

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            • So, basically quoting a source? That’s the nefarious activity we’re all complaining about?

              I think *ethically* you’re supposed to get two sources for this sort of thing. Otherwise we have people making things up, which can’t be distinguished from the Press making things up.

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                • How about we look at the peeps Trump retweets. Some tend towards…cough…. ethno nationalism.

                  Trump likes putting out flame bait on Twitter. We’ve elected a Troll who deliberately pushes people’s buttons. All the time. On every subject.

                  Which is why I don’t view Twitter as meaningful.

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              • has me rereading the NYT article and it does appear to have multiple sources:

                1) Six sources said he read the document aloud.
                2) Two sources, one present at the meeting and another who heard it confirmed by a different person present at the meeting confirmed the “all have AIDS” comment.
                3) Two sources at the meeting confirmed the “go back to their huts” comment.

                So it sounds like the two source rule was definitely hit for one of the quotes and pretty reasonably hit for the other. Does that make you feel better about the ethics here?

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                • It seems a dynamic is emerging wherein if something isn’t 100% proven true about Trump, than its inverse becomes objective fact.

                  “We don’t have video of Trump giving AIDS to Haitians? Obviously that means he never said anything but the most lovely things about them.”
                  “But, if he did say it, it’d be true because, ya know, Haitians.”
                  “Wait… Trump isn’t building a wall on the border being Haiti and the US?!”
                  “Oh no, he’ll keep those AIDS-ridden bastards out. He said so.”
                  “But… wait… I thought you said he didn’t…”
                  “FAKE NEWS!”

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                • So it sounds like the two source rule was definitely hit for one of the quotes and pretty reasonably hit for the other. Does that make you feel better about the ethics here?

                  Yes it does. Thank you.

                  (I’m over my limit for NYT so I can’t read the article myself.)

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                    • And yet there you were, calling into the question the ethics of its writers and editors.

                      Yep. Almost like they have a recent history of being wrong because they’ve clearly been ignoring those ethics.

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                      • I’m not sure what the exact recent history is you’re talking about, but I’m still not clear on how you’re deciding what’s true or not. Given that the article you rejected out of hand was properly sourced to your standards, does it move your needle on what you believe to be true about the meeting? About Trump’s behavior in general?

                        What would you say the probability of that article being correct is if it had one source vs two or more? What about any randomly chosen article that paints Trump in a bad light?

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                        • About Trump’s behavior in general?

                          I mentioned I expect he’s always heinous.

                          …Given that the article you rejected out of hand…

                          Not “rejected”, that would be saying “I don’t believe it” or “it’s not true”. What I’m saying is I can’t trust it. I think someone else already posted on this page the NYT mistating when Trump’s son was dealing with wiki. To be fair to the NYT I think it’s CNN who has had to repeatedly issue retractions.

                          Picture a reporter who is impartial and ethical. Now have him write about his loathed ex-wife who is actively lying about him to his new wife (and his boss, and the cops) and trying to break up his marriage and generally trash his life.

                          It’s a high voltage relationship with strong emotions. She’s legitimately the villain of the piece, she does other things to other people, she’s also made a lot of other enemies over the years.

                          He publishes something which paints her in a negative light. The issue isn’t whether she’s a good person, I already know she’s not, the issue is whether or not I can reasonably trust him to do his job impartially.

                          Oh, and we should add that several of her other ex’s have been caught with their emotions exceeding their professionalism and were thus used by her other enemies.

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                          • Not “rejected”, that would be saying “I don’t believe it” or “it’s not true”. What I’m saying is I can’t trust it.

                            So practically speaking, what’s the difference except for the phrasing? You’ve given no indication that the article and its sources have moved the needle on your belief about whether what they claim happened actually happened. So is “rejecting” really that different from “not trusting” when the net result is that it ends up being completely ignored?

                            My overall issue is that I’m seeing a disturbing tendency these days to:

                            1) Reject evidence (or “not trust” it followed by treating it like it doesn’t exist at all) from major news sources out of hand.

                            2) Appeal to vague shortcomings in those sources to support that rejection, implying that it’s all basically just made-up nonsense.

                            3) Refuse to be pinned down on the actual shortcomings or take a concrete position on what they really mean for how reliable the source is, leaving the ultimate impression that nothing can be trusted and news articles add no information.

                            4) Somehow still be pretty sure about what’s going on, despite the apparent total absence of usable sources of information.

                            The argument starts out simply enough–that news people can be biased and might not have Trump’s best interests at heart. Then, once that’s conceded, people start acting like we’ve all just agreed that news articles from major media outlets provide no information content and shouldn’t push our priors in one direction or the other.

                            More than anything else over the past 18 months, this disturbs me. But pushing back against it feels more and more like performing an exorcism.

                            Picture a reporter who is impartial and ethical.

                            Let’s take your concrete example here. He’s impartial and ethical and he makes factual claims about what happened.

                            1) Does the fact that he’s impartial and ethical in all of his other work mean nothing when he writes his account? There’s “not 100% trustworthy” and “worthy of 0 trust” which you seem to be using interchangeably here. What would you say his account is worth on that scale?

                            2) Do you think that the people who report on Trump are as compromised as a person writing about their own behavior and details of their own contentious divorce? Like, if you had to give it a 0 to 100 weight like in (1), would it be the same?

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                            • You’ve given no indication that the article and its sources have moved the needle on your belief about whether what they claim happened actually happened.

                              Eh? I thought I did that… here. https://ordinary-times.com/2017/12/24/about-the-never-trump-skirmish-of-2017/#comment-1337276

                              I raised the bar for evidence based on what I suggested was likely shortcomings and previous problems. That bar was passed (easily). I accepted it and moved on.

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                              • OK, so if I’m understanding you, you’re saying that you believe that the claims about what Trump said in that meeting are very likely true.

                                So back to your more general position: Does it seem like this type of article is the norm (i.e. most of the concrete claims about what Trump is saying/doing/etc are true), or is this just unusually good journalism wrt Trump?

                                Because it seems like these discussions always end up going, “Well that’s true. And that’s true. And that’s true. But these guys are biased, so I really can’t trust anything they write.”

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                                • OK, so if I’m understanding you, you’re saying that you believe that the claims about what Trump said in that meeting are very likely true.

                                  Yes.

                                  Does it seem like this type of article is the norm (i.e. most of the concrete claims about what Trump is saying/doing/etc are true), or is this just unusually good journalism wrt Trump?

                                  Oh, it’s probably the “norm”, you shouldn’t need to be unusually good just to publish the truth, but it’s also clearly what they *want* to publish.

                                  Here, I found a good article detailing the kind of coverage CNN is doing. https://www.realclearinvestigations.com/articles/2017/12/26/flying_the_liberal-friendly_skies.html

                                  Because it seems like these discussions always end up going, “Well that’s true. And that’s true. And that’s true. But these guys are biased, so I really can’t trust anything they write.”

                                  That’s an emotional response to a complex issue.

                                  The first side effect to the whole “they want to do this” issue is I need to wait a week to see if whatever they’re claiming is real. It’s the whole “Mike Brown was shot in the back” (Ferguson) problem created when the filtering is less than great, information is imperfect, and lots of people are chasing “I want to be the great reporter with the great story scooping the others”.

                                  The second side effect to “they want to do this” is the “story selection” effect. Good news about Trump (jobs data, growth in the economy, various agencies cleaning up unconstitutional excesses from the previous Prez) doesn’t get covered. Bad news about Trump (him running his mouth) does. We saw the reverse of this with Obama.

                                  So Trump making a racist comment is serious news and gets serious coverage. But it wasn’t news when Obama was giving guns to drug dealers to see what happens at a similar point in his administration. Similarly, excluding this website, I’ve seen no coverage saying there’s data suggesting refugees (from countries Trump is blocking) commit rape at scary high levels.

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                                  • There’s a lot to unpack in that story, but there are a few core complaints:

                                    1) CNN (and most cable news) is all politics all the time and actually useful non-politics stuff just isn’t covered anymore. This is a pretty serious problem.

                                    2) Most of the stuff CNN covers about Trump is negative. I’m not sure what the correct percentage should be here. Should all presidents receive the same amount of positive and negative coverage? The number on its own doesn’t really tell us a lot. Concrete examples of things that are important but not being covered are more interesting.

                                    Good news about Trump (jobs data, growth in the economy, various agencies cleaning up unconstitutional excesses from the previous Prez) doesn’t get covered.

                                    I don’t think that anybody who watched only CNN was missing out on job or economic growth numbers. They’re reported constantly. Whether they spend a lot of time praising Trump for single-handedly making those things happen with his Business Aura is a different question. I’d have to argue that if spin is happening, networks that spin the economy as primarily being driven by presidential decisions are the ones most badly misinforming their viewers.

                                    Likewise, the “cleaning up unconstitutional excesses” facts are absolutely being reported. They’re just being reported as things Trump is doing and not being spun as the universally positive “cleaning up unconstitutional excesses.”

                                    But it wasn’t news when Obama was giving guns to drug dealers to see what happens at a similar point in his administration.

                                    1) If that’s what you think happened, I do think you have a legitimate criticism to level at whatever news you were watching.

                                    2) What makes you think that story wasn’t covered *extensively* by every major media outlet? It really was. This is another thing I see all the time: People linking to mainstream media articles claiming in the same breath that the mainstream media isn’t covering the thing they’re liking to. I don’t know how to respond to this. I mean, I think I got a lot of information about that particular scandal, and I wasn’t doing my own investigations. I got it all from the news.

                                    Similarly, excluding this website, I’ve seen no coverage saying there’s data suggesting refugees (from countries Trump is blocking) commit rape at scary high levels.

                                    I’d have to see the actual data before I decide whether that’s actually news or not. I do think that there’s something sinister about the recently popular news story genre, “Another crime committed by a FILTHY IMMIGRANT,” but if the aggregate statistics are both significant and policy relevant, I’m interested in seeing them. I just have a feeling that this factoid won’t turn out to be something that we’d scream “Stop the presses!” over.

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                                    • The number on its own doesn’t really tell us a lot.

                                      Fair enough. Let’s look at other numbers for comparison. Overall, Obama’s coverage was 20% negative, compared to Bush & Clinton’s 28%.

                                      For at a serious media player who is attempting to be unbiased, CNN’s 93% negative on Trump is exceptionally weird. Either they’re not attempting to be unbiased or they’re totally failing.

                                      https://www.recode.net/2017/10/2/16401216/president-donald-trump-news-negative-pew-research-obama-bush-clinton

                                      2) What makes you think that story wasn’t covered *extensively* by every major media outlet? It really was.

                                      Not at this point in the Presidency it wasn’t. Yes, by 2012 the Obama halo had slipped, and Holder made the news as the first sitting cabinet member to be found in Contempt of Congress (although wiki mentions that Obama personally stepped in to keep documents secret and I don’t remember that in the news).

                                      But how much digging was the press doing on Obama in 2009 when this program was going off the rails? He was “the great one” for quite a while, that 20% negative rating says the press served as a cheering section.

                                      Another crime committed…

                                      I pay a lot of attention to the news on immigration for personal and professional reasons. My strong impression is since Trump’s election, there have been a lot more stories on immigrants and the bulk of them have been positive.

                                      I disagree, strongly, with Moats!… but I don’t hear their point of view represented. Obviously the sample size is low, i.e. “just my impression”, but it’s not even “that point of view is wrong” so much as “the viewpoint doesn’t exist” as far as coverage.

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                                      • For at a serious media player who is attempting to be unbiased, CNN’s 93% negative on Trump is exceptionally weird.

                                        But what’s the common thread here? It’s not party, because as you point out, the coverage was the same for Clinton & Bush and pretty close for Obama. Trump is a serious outlier. So what percentage of that is stuff that warrants negative attention and what percentage of it is this bias factor? I’m a big fan of the phrase, “The only common factor in all of your failed relationships is you,” and I think it may apply here. If the only factor that really correlates with bad coverage is being Donald Trump, one might wonder if there’s something specific about Donald Trump that warrants bad coverage.

                                        The fact that he was an underqualified conman from the get-go and had surrounded himself with shady associates who are currently being indicted one at a time suggests that his coverage might be at least somewhat more negative than other presidents who weren’t conmen surrounded by a core team of criminals and weirdos. Combine that with the fact that, until this month, his legislative accomplishments were zero and I wouldn’t expect even a 50/50 balance.

                                        The things that you suggest should warrant positive as opposed to neutral coverage are, for the most part, pretty uninteresting relative to having one’s cabinet members hauled off by the FBI or saying that Haitian immigrants all have AIDS. All presidents leave a trail of regulatory decisions and administrative appointments that get nothing more than, “The President just did this obscure regulatory thing that undoes his predecessor’s decision and will be undone again by his successor.” That’s fairly normal.

                                        But how much digging was the press doing on Obama in 2009 when this program was going off the rails?

                                        I don’t know. How much did you know about it then and where did you learn it from? I have to assume the mainstream press is the answer there. As I recall, it was a pretty uninteresting scandal of a sting that wasn’t run properly and then a relatively mild cover up because it was an embarrassing failure, and most of the coverage got interesting later when people were trying to make it into a Benghazi! scandal before there was the Benghazi! scandal.

                                        I’d have to see an actual time line of coverage to believe that this was anything like a press cover up.

                                        My strong impression is since Trump’s election, there have been a lot more stories on immigrants and the bulk of them have been positive.

                                        Some of that may simply be that in an atmosphere of extreme xenophobia, stories that remind us that immigrants are people like us rather than weird monsters with horns stand out. But again, I’d be interested in what you think the baseline statistics should be. I can’t think of much reason to assume that coverage of immigrants should be more positive or negative than the population at large except perhaps for sensationalism bias like The Year of the Shark.

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                                      • The “Fast and Furious” segment of the operation (which began in 2006) began in late October of 2009. Brian Terry was killed in mid-December 2010. The LA Times reported about it on December 15, 2010 (the day after Terry was killed), though for whatever reason the site is only letting me see articles from early 2011.

                                        So… yea… you’re wrong about this.

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                                        • I know a guy, who to this day reflexively responds to questions of the Civil War with a rant about how it was about economics, but “liberal state schools” teach it was about slavery.

                                          Where did he learn it was about economics? *In those liberal state school*. He learned it in junior high or high school, as it’s a pretty damn common “interpretation” of the Civil War here in Texas.

                                          I have pointed out, more than once, that he’s just parroting stuff he learned in high school to…criticize high schools for not teaching it to him. And directed him to various primary sources (like Texas’ own letter of Secession). And he’ll shut up for that conversation, but next time it comes up he’ll repeat the same thing.

                                          Facts don’t matter on this topic. It’s a reflexive complaint, written into his worldview. Even if he acknowledges he’s wrong, it won’t sink in. He’ll still believe the falsehood, because he’s got so much invested in it.

                                          Not at the realm of concious thought, but below it. It’s a bedrock *fact*. State schools are liberal, liberal schools teach fake history to indoctrinate, and the Civil War thing is just his go-to example.

                                          The most you can do is make him shift to a secondary example for that one conversation. But getting him to internalize that the Civil War example is just wrong literally requires him to change his mind about “Public schools as liberal thought police”. Because it’s not about the Civil War to him.

                                          He’ll just keep going back to it, because no matter what he realizes in a given conversation, public schools remain bastions of liberal thought police revisionists who teach the Civil War was about slavery, when it clearly wasn’t. And you didn’t know that, because you went to a public school and were indoctrinated. (How he avoided it in the same damn school I attended is never explained either).

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                                      • Someone pointed to an interesting article here.

                                        It’s a collection of all of the stories that had to be retracted over the last year dealing with Trump-adjacent stories.

                                        Now, not all of them had to do directly with Trump. The list contains the non-story about how Gorsuch “plagiarized” from Abigail Kuzma (as it turns out, he cited her and she agrees that he cited her). Is this a Trump story that had to be retracted? “Opinions differ.” It contains stories about how Cosmopolitan argued that handguns didn’t exist in the 1800s and USA Today falling for the DPRK parody twitter account. And there’s a thing in there about how Yemen reportedly said something about how the US no longer has permission to fight terrorism within Yemeni borders but that was later retracted when the Yemeni government spokesperson said that that wasn’t true. (Does that sort of thing count?)

                                        That said, it does seem to contain a lot of Trump-related stories that directly have to deal with either Trump or the Trump Administration itself.

                                        I kinda wish we had a control group to check retracted stories against… I have no idea whether this is a lot, fewer than normal, or about the average amount of stories that have to be retracted.

                                        And I don’t know if the skew of the retracted stories indicates anything… my gut says that a perfect control group would indicate a 50/50 split between stories that would benefit Trump having to be retracted and stories that would damage him having to be retracted (or 33/33/34 for pro/con/neutral).

                                        This skew seems to be lopsided and lopsided quite heavily… but I don’t know what the perfect control group would look like.

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                                          • No, not really.

                                            Now, keep in mind, my argument is not “they should have 50/50 representation of good/bad stories about Trump!” but “getting it wrong should have a 50/50 distribution of reported that it was worse than it actually was/reported that it was better than it actually was but then we had to retract it because we got the story wrong and then tell the real story”.

                                            Or 33/33/34. Whatever.

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                                            • As with the old cliche about airplane crashes, “President gives a speech- doesn’t drool or make any obscene remarks” is not a headline one expects to see.

                                              So I would expect that negative stories will usually outweigh positive ones.

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                                              • Again: my argument is not “they should have 50/50 representation of good/bad stories about Trump!” but “getting it wrong should have a 50/50 distribution of reported that it was worse than it actually was/reported that it was better than it actually was but then we had to retract it because we got the story wrong and then tell the real story”.

                                                Or 33/33/34. Whatever.

                                                We’re not talking about CNN running a story that says “President gives a speech- doesn’t drool or make any obscene remarks”. It’s that they ran a story saying that he both drooled *AND* made obscene remarks and then they had to retract said story when footage of the speech surfaced.

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                                                • but “getting it wrong should have a 50/50 distribution of reported that it was worse than it actually was/reported that it was better than it actually was but then we had to retract it because we got the story wrong and then tell the real story”.

                                                  I can’t imagine why that would be true. Almost all newspaper corrections logically are because someone complained, and people, especially politicians, are a lot more likely to complain about information that is incorrect in the ‘worse’ direction. No one’s going to correct the record because the paper mistakenly forgot one of their affairs.

                                                  The only time they’d issue a correction the other way is when they notice it is wrong themselves.

                                                  As an aside, there’s a really funny example of the entire news getting something ‘wrong in a nice direction’ of the Trump administration. Basically, the newspaper reported that Trump wasn’t going to exit the Paris Accords because they said something like ‘We would be willing to stay if we could renegotiate’.

                                                  This was because the media operate in actual reality when the Paris Accords are ‘Just say publicly what you are going to do and then later say if you did it’, and the media figured out the administration had changed their mind, when in the Trump administration actually meant ‘We are leaving because we want a better deal, aka, we’re either a bunch of morons who don’t understand ‘a better deal’ makes no sense in the context of this agreement, or, more likely, we cannot justify our behavior. I.e., we’re leaving, like we said originally’.

                                                  It’s hard to figure out how to classify that media mistake.

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                                                • I also want to point out that we’ve shifted from:

                                                  “[Journalistic ethics have] been ignored in most other cases, so it’s safe to assume they’ve been ignored in this one.”
                                                  AND
                                                  “[Dark Matter’s] basic assumption at the moment is yes, Trump is a terrible person. And yes, the media seems unable to apply their journalistic ethics where he’s concerned.”

                                                  To

                                                  “Maybe the media’s error rate is higher with Trump than elsewhere. Maybe. We don’t know. And probably can’t know. But maybe they’re wrong negatively more than they’re wrong positively and maybe that means they might have bias.”

                                                  That isn’t shifting goal posts. That’s taking the football, running to the adjacent baseball field, spiking it on the pitchers mound, and shouting, “GOAAAAAAAAAAAAL!”

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                                                  • You’re ignoring Obama got negative news twenty percent of the time, Bush and Clinton got twenty-eight, and CNN’s percentage of negative Trump news is ninety-three.

                                                    This is strongly suggestive Trump does indeed inspire negative emotions in the media and this effects their reporting. I suppose them deliberately acting as an arm of the Democratic party would also explain it but whatever.

                                                    Or to put it differently, yes, they’re biased.

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                                                    • You think that’s bad? Check out sports coverage. Take the Houston Astros, and the frankly sickeningly biased coverage of the last year. So many positive stories singing their praises!

                                                      Why, three years back it was just endlessly negative! They went from one bias to another! What happened to bias-free sports media?

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                                                      • Were they an arm of the Democratic party when they treated Bush and Clinton equally?

                                                        The whole “accusations of being a cheering gallery” seemed to be new, at least in degree, with Obama. I thought that reporters openly talking about getting a tingle from his greatness when being in the same presence would have been dissed by other reporters if he’d tried it with Bush or Clinton.

                                                        We might be looking at a side effect of societies polarization or the internet or something (although I don’t see the connection off hand). It’s also possible both Obama and Trump are unusual in the emotions they inspire and channel, Obama-as-savior and Trump-as-monster.

                                                        On the other hand we’ve got Romney as nazi, but I was never clear just how much of the media bought into that.

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                                                  • Kazzy, I’m just trying to shift the ground from something that cannot be measured, even in theory, to something that can measured, at least in theory.

                                                    Unfortunately, I was only able to find one story about Obama that was subsequently retracted (that’s my measuring stick: “retracted”).

                                                    It’s this one. It was written in 2017.

                                                    I can’t find any from CNN from during Obama’s time in office.

                                                    So we still don’t have anything to compare Trump’s multiple stories that were published and then retracted to.

                                                    If you have a way that bias could, in theory, be measured, let’s hear it.

                                                    All I’ve got is to compare stories that had to go on to be retracted in one administration vs. the stories that had to go on to be retracted in another.

                                                    And I can’t find any for Obama.

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                                                        • Hmmm ….The “MSM” has had some percentage of stories they have retracted regarding Trump. Do we have a percentage of stories the Right Wing MSM ( Fox, Limbuagh, etc) have retracted as false regarding Obama? Has the hidden muslim or no birth certificate stuff been retracted? If so by who?

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                                                          • Good point. One way to avoid a long list of retractions is to simply never issue them, regardless of whether doing so is justified or not.

                                                            CNN may have some misses with Trump, but nothing that justified DM’s initial claims. I’m curious if he will retract those.

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                                                          • Greg, again, I can’t find a single retracted story for Obama during his tenure.

                                                            I only found one retraction from 2017, from a story written in 2017.

                                                            And that’s the only one I found.

                                                            If you don’t like “retracted” as a measurement, I’d love to hear your suggestion as to what would make a better one.

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                                                                • Perhaps it’s simply not measurable or quantifiable in the way you’re demanding.

                                                                  Perhaps accusations of bias are as much or more an indicator of the bias in the individual making the accusation as in the target of the accusation.

                                                                  Finally, does the 93% figure simply reflect that at least 93% of what Trump says and does is “negative” by any reasonable standard? I.e., just a purely straight up, factual account of Trump’s daily activities and pronouncements seems negative simply because he’s objectively unfit for the office?

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                                                                  • So there are two things going on.

                                                                    1. We cannot really define “bias” according to any reasonable standard and it’s not really reasonable to ask for a measurable definition.
                                                                    2. Besides, maybe the stories are negative because Trump is bad according to reasonable and objective standards.

                                                                    Did I get that right?

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                                                                      • I think it’s just weird that we can know exactly how bad Trump is but can’t know whether the stories about Trump accurately reflect how bad he is, whether the stories are overstated, or whether they’re understated.

                                                                        Finding out that there are stories that were written, then retracted, and then the reporters involved resigned is not indicative of anything, and comparing this to whether this happened before isn’t indicative of anything.

                                                                        Unlike how objectively unfit Trump is for the Presidency by “any reasonable standard”.

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                                                                        • To know if the media is uniquely failing with regards to Trump requires the ability to identify if their known failings are unique to him. We don’t know that and can’t know that because we haven’t chronicled every media failing for every President. Again, you yourself acknowledged the inability to develop a control group.

                                                                          For a variety of reasons that have been offered to you, simply looking at the frequency of failings or the types of failings is insufficient to determine bias.

                                                                          Maybe there is another way. If you think there is, offer it. Even the method you offered was insufficient (by your own admission) and had other flaws pointed out by many folks here.

                                                                          On a related note, what do you make of the media’s focus on Hillary’s emails during the campaign, to the point of the emails being the topic of more stories than all other issues combined. Do we have sufficient data to call that bias? Why or why not?

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                                                                          • Maybe there is another way. If you think there is, offer it. Even the method you offered was insufficient (by your own admission) and had other flaws pointed out by many folks here.

                                                                            I think that stories that have to be retracted demonstrate an editorial lapse on the part of the institution producing them (and, indeed, if people actually have to resign as part of the fallout, that’s an even bigger indicator of actual wrongdoing). If it’s not possible to find previous examples of this sort of thing, I think it’s possible to just say “this behavior is unprecedented” or something and that is enough to shift the burden of proof.

                                                                            On a related note, what do you make of the media’s focus on Hillary’s emails during the campaign, to the point of the emails being the topic of more stories than all other issues combined. Do we have sufficient data to call that bias? Why or why not?

                                                                            Are we allowed to use the standards we established above?

                                                                            Were the email stories later retracted? Did anyone resign as a result of these stories being printed and then retracted?

                                                                            If they weren’t, and no one did, are we really comparing apples to oranges by making that comparison?

                                                                            What measurements are we using to say that the Hillary coverage of her emails was biased? Can we take them up a level of abstraction and then apply them to DJT? What happens when we then apply these same rules to DJT?

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                                                                            • The intensity of her email coverage led to cries of bias.

                                                                              Shift the burden of proof for what to whom?

                                                                              Again, DMs claims were that all journalistic ethics are being thrown out most of the time when reporting on Trump. That is simply unsupported by any facts.

                                                                              Is the media biased against Trump? Unknowable, I’d say. Also, are we including all media or just CNN and the NYT? Does Fox and talk radio get accounted for in your analysis?

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                                                                              • The intensity of her email coverage led to cries of bias

                                                                                So that’s our measuring stick? Cries of bias?

                                                                                If I looked for cries of bias in the coverage of Trump, do you think I’d be able to find any?

                                                                                Shift the burden of proof for what to whom?

                                                                                For the proposition of whether it’s possible to measure bias in the first place from the person arguing that it is to the person arguing that it isn’t.

                                                                                Again, DMs claims were that all journalistic ethics are being thrown out most of the time when reporting on Trump. That is simply unsupported by any facts.

                                                                                Yeah, I agree. More than that, I’d argue that arguing such a proposition would be supportable even in theory is a very difficult row to hoe. As such, I think it’s important to make a proposition that is supportable and measurable in theory. Then we can argue about such things as facts. (I mean, what “facts” would you use when arguing ethics?)

                                                                                Is the media biased against Trump? Unknowable, I’d say. Also, are we including all media or just CNN and the NYT? Does Fox and talk radio get accounted for in your analysis?

                                                                                Perhaps it’s unknowable on some esoteric level, but I do think that if it’s possible to say “the media is biased against Clinton!” and point to, say, stories about her email, then we should be able to say similar about Trump and point to stories that resulted in people resigning after they were retracted and official apologies given.

                                                                                I think that if it’s possible to look at Fox and say “yeah, they’re biased *FOR* Trump!” then it would be theoretically possible to look at a different media outlet’s behavior and say “okay, this is the behavior of an outlet that is biased *AGAINST* him”.

                                                                                And even if the behavior isn’t properly quantifiable, it could still be qualitatively demonstrated.

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                                                                                • Sure. But then let’s look at the totality of the media and all their subjects. Focusing just on CNN/Trump seems biased in its own way.

                                                                                  Note: I’m not levying charges that Fox is biased towards Trump or the handling of Hillary’s email js evidence of bias against her. Only that such charges have been levied so if we’re developing a rubric for identifying bias, it ought to be applicable to and account for those dynamics.

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                                                                                  • Is this one of those things where we’re comparing the nightly news of the big three and the NYT with Fox News and the Wall Street Journal Op-Ed page?

                                                                                    Isn’t this a kata that everyone is already familiar with?

                                                                                    Note: I’m not levying charges that Fox is biased towards Trump or the handling of Hillary’s email js evidence of bias against her. Only that such charges have been levied so if we’re developing a rubric for identifying bias, it ought to be applicable to and account for those dynamics.

                                                                                    At this point, I’m merely interested in seeing how someone *MIGHT* see the handling of Hillary’s email as evidence of bias and whether they’d see that as THEORETICALLY possible of bias showing up in reporting.

                                                                                    Perhaps they’d say “How can we say if journalism is biased or whether they’re reporting on things that are true?”

                                                                                    How would we even know?

                                                                                    Maybe we’re being terrorized by Descartes’s evil demon.

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                                                                                    • The argument with regards to Hillary’s emails is that the actual weight of that story was minimal and yet it received a ton of attention because it was negative and about Hillary and the press was biased towards negative Hillary stories. Are you saying you heard nothing of this during or after the election?

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                                                                                      • The argument with regards to Hillary’s emails is that the actual weight of that story was minimal and yet it received a ton of attention

                                                                                        Correct.

                                                                                        because it was negative and about Hillary and the press was biased towards negative Hillary stories.

                                                                                        That’s one account. Another might be that readers found them “newsworthy” because of their own negative bias against Hillary, so (eg) NYT continued to publish them on the front page. Personally, I think Hillary’s dishonesty/evasiveness about the issue reinforced the newsworthiness of each subsequent revelation. She contributed to creating her own negative newscycles.

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                                                                                      • …The argument with regards to Hillary’s emails is that the actual weight of that story was minimal…

                                                                                        HRC may have gotten people killed by mishandling state secrets via her server, and the only apparent need for it was so she could evade internal controls. She went to a lot of trouble to set it up and her explanation as to “why” shifted day by day as the previous day’s explanation was found to be inadequate.

                                                                                        It’s like she set out to convince everyone she was lying and it was a big deal. She gave the impression that she couldn’t tell the truth because it was so terrible. This does not interact well with her ethical standard of “not criminally convictable”.

                                                                                        I think Obama called it “political malpractice”.

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                                                                                • I would say that everyone here is missing the mark. Journalism is entirely subjective and thus unquantifiable through the metrics is talking about. Accusations of bias come down to trust which is downwind of subjectivity. Do I trust the media is telling me what I need to know about subject X. Any retractions, delays in reporting, putting an article above or below the fold* or burying it? All of these actions get filed by the reader/viewer and set in there mind as to whether someone is biased in the reporting or editing. Americans have a low but rising view of the media as of June, vastly different by political affiliation.(This is from June, so no telling what the CNN retractions and ABC firings, along with the sexual harassment scandal have done. Couldn’t find anything newer.)

                                                                                  As for the question of Hillary’s emails, what it looks like to me is an iterated prisoners dilemma. Not unlike Weinstein, or better yet John Edwards, when the stories broke, they had to cover it, no matter how they felt as political individuals, for to not cover it would be journalistic suicide. Such an obvious partisan move would make them a laughing stock and no matter how they might have felt about them as individuals, they do have a job to do, they do want to be good at it, and they do want to get the story. If no one breaks rank, then there is obviously no story, even if Everyone Knew.

                                                                                  *Homepage of a website, with banners on all pages, etc.

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                                                                                  • “Accusations of bias come down to trust which is downwind of subjectivity.”

                                                                                    Nope. Everyone is biased, so journalists claiming they aren’t is BS, especially, when along comes a polarizing figure like “the donald” and that bias becomes even more noticeable. Note, I’ve known journalists were biased for decades, I don’t mind it, I just make allowances for it.

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                                                                                  • I would say that everyone here is missing the mark.

                                                                                    You have my curiosity.

                                                                                    Journalism is entirely subjective and thus unquantifiable through the metrics is talking about. Accusations of bias come down to trust which is downwind of subjectivity.

                                                                                    You have my attention.

                                                                                    Such an obvious partisan move would make them a laughing stock and no matter how they might have felt about them as individuals, they do have a job to do, they do want to be good at it, and they do want to get the story. If no one breaks rank, then there is obviously no story, even if Everyone Knew.

                                                                                    I don’t see anything in here that I disagree with enough to write an essay about.

                                                                                    (What an awful time for everything to come to a head!)

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                                                                                  • I would say that everyone here is missing the mark. Journalism is entirely subjective …

                                                                                    If that’s true then there’s no distinction between truth and propaganda. I think you’re confusing the inability of a person (a media consumer) to distinguish between fact and fiction with the absence of a distinction between them.

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                                                                                      • Interpreting news isn’t journalism, tho. It’s editorializing, opining, etc. There’s a special section in newspapers for those types of folks: the editorial or opinion section. Journalists report facts and states of affairs that other people express opinions about.

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                                                                                        • Where the stories are placed, the level of writer, even the day it is put up all make a difference in how a story is brought out to the public. Below the fold, buried on A15 (or even the second, local section) having Woodward and Bernstein do the reporting vs. the guy who just graduated from CC journalism classes. Which facts get emphasized. Focus on the number of X or the number of Y? All of this goes into how the story is presented to the public. All of that is journalism. And they all have nothing to do with facts.

                                                                                          The news is just anecdote and chronology. Any topspin is solely journalism. Another word for that is editorializing, simply not on that page you mention.

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                                                                                          • Which facts get emphasized. Focus on the number of X or the number of Y? All of this goes into how the story is presented to the public. All of that is journalism.

                                                                                            So by your own lights, then, it’s not the case that “journalism is entirely subjective” as you wrote earlier, right? Journalists report facts and states of affairs even tho people can (and will) dispute how those facts are presented, or if they are accurate, etc etc.

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                                                                              • (merging two posts) CNN may have some misses with Trump, but nothing that justified DM’s initial claims. I’m curious if he will retract those.

                                                                                I retracted my claim on the NYT story.

                                                                                However imho the percentage of negative claims, retractions, and the swing of those retractions suggest elements of the media have departed from impartiality and “journalistic ethics” for their Trump coverage.

                                                                                Again, DMs claims were that all journalistic ethics are being thrown out most of the time when reporting on Trump. That is simply unsupported by any facts.

                                                                                Not “all”, nor “most of the time”.

                                                                                The problem is (and I’m sure Trump is doing this deliberately) if everything is negative, then nothing is. If bias is in there some of the time, then I can’t trust whether it’s there “this” time. I can’t even trust the overall picture because important elements are unpresented.

                                                                                Trump is attempting to get people to dismiss the (deserved) negative news about himself by portraying the media as biased and self interested at best, and an arm of the Democratic party at worst. To do this he needs the active cooperation of some elements of the media, so he flames and hits emotional buttons to encourage them to “cooperate”, and the math suggests they are.

                                                                                Trump is doing a form of “wag the dog”. He can’t deal with a disinterested press honestly representing him and his message, but an active war is a different problem that he can deal handle.

                                                                                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wag_the_Dog

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                                                                                • To do this he needs the active cooperation of some elements of the media, so he flames and hits emotional buttons to encourage them to “cooperate”, and the math suggests they are.

                                                                                  Whether it’s conscious or not, it’s definitely what’s happening. I’m seeing this tactic more and more all over the place. Constantly do enough bad stuff and get called on it and pretty soon your record is so bad that nobody can believe it’s real and they start thinking the record itself must be a fabrication.

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                                                                        • It’s not weird at all.
                                                                          Even if you were on a deserted island with no access to any media of any kind, except Trump’s own tweets and public statements, any reasonable person would conclude he is suffering from some terrible defect.
                                                                          Even his most devoted supporters tell us to ignore what he says, and listen to the English language interpretations.

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                                                                          • I hate writing something that relies on weasel words and then rereading it because I know that someone is going to notice and point out how the weasel words indicate that the author has his or her thumb on the scale (if they aren’t begging the question!).

                                                                            I suppose I worry about that sort of thing too much.

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                                                                              • Chip.

                                                                                “Any reasonable” is one of those weasel phrases. It sets up for a “No True Scotsman” kinda thing beforehand. Just point out that anyone who disagrees isn’t reasonable and then say Q.E.D. and lean back.

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                                                                                • Your challenge has been accepted.
                                                                                  Does anyone here look at Trump’s words and say they are the words of a man fit for the Presidency?

                                                                                  No weaseling.

                                                                                  Are they or aren’t they?

                                                                                  Yes or no.

                                                                                  Place your marks gentlemen, and stand by them.

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                                                                                  • “Does anyone here look at Trump’s words and say they are the words of a man fit for the Presidency?”

                                                                                    Yes, yes he is “fit”. For the single and sole justification he met the specs in the Constitution, beat his rivals, and was elected. I ain’t seen any impeachment actions moving through Congress.

                                                                                    That’s a low bar, but still. Just like when the president is elected, he gets all the classified goodies. Same here-default assumption is he is fit until proven unfit.

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                                                                                  • Does anyone here? I don’t know everyone here.

                                                                                    I can certainly conceive of a person who says something like “These are the words of a man engaging in brinksmanship in such a way that deliberately bypasses his demonstrated ideological enemies in the press. The fact that he’d figured out how to do this demonstrates his fitness for the Presidency in a way that we haven’t seen since Kennedy.”

                                                                                    But, no, I don’t know if anyone here thinks that.

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                                                                                              • I mean, I hold the government in mild contempt.

                                                                                                Asking me if I see Trump’s words as befitting the Presidency is something that is likely to get me to say “yeah, he’s the fulfilment of the office.”

                                                                                                But you’re going to hear “Yes, I think that Donald Trump should be held in the same esteem as you hold Obama.”

                                                                                                Which is not what I’m saying.

                                                                                                But it’s far to easy to twist my “yeah, he’s the fulfilment of the office” as “JAYBIRD THINKS THAT TRUMP IS A GOOD PRESIDENT!” and I don’t want to argue against people who want me to defend a point that I don’t hold.

                                                                                                So it’s easier to be evasive than to give a straight answer that I deeply suspect will be misinterpreted and twisted.

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                                                                                                  • He’s not a straight-answer kind of guy, so it’s a lot to ask. Like, he answers slantly to stuff like “did you get a chance to take out the trash?” half the time… (he almost always DID get a chance, and seized it, for the record. he’s good about doing stuff like that.) I don’t even notice it for the most part because I’ve learned to track him, but it used to confuse me a lot.

                                                                                                    Asking him why he can’t be more straightforward is … he knows what is and isn’t straightforward by some objective general standard, as far as I can tell, but he doesn’t actually think or operate in those terms. There’s nothing straightforward inside his head.

                                                                                                    So there’s little point of expecting it of him.

                                                                                                    (This isn’t a complaint on my part, I find it more beneficial – sometimes downright beautiful – than I do frustrating. Those comments/thoughts that you and many of us find thought-provoking in good ways come from the same mode that not seeing why he hasn’t already sufficiently answered the question, and being annoyed when people push for yes or no answers, does.)

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                                                                            • Chip handled it well, but for the record, it isn’t more civil to accuse someone of being weasely in a broad and implied way as you did here, than it would’ve been to say that “any reasonable” sets up a No True Scotsman situation as you did downthread.

                                                                              It’s considerably less civil, actually.

                                                                              So don’t do that.

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                                                                          • Even if you were on a deserted island with no access to any media of any kind, except Trump’s own tweets and public statements, any reasonable person would conclude he is suffering from some terrible defect.

                                                                            Trump has been a public dumpster fire for a long time, 40+ years. He hasn’t blown himself up, but he has kept people interested in him for 40+ years. That’s quite an accomplishment. This is the guy who had a movie made about his prenup. “Terrible defect” doesn’t work well in combo with “highly successful”, “has been this for a very long time”, and “thinks multiple moves ahead”.

                                                                            Trump-as-a-method-character-actor works reasonably well for explaining what’s going on. It doesn’t explain (much less justify) everything but there’s probably an element of truth there.

                                                                            Think of Dick Van Dyke doing his exaggerated comedic “I’m drunk” walk. It’s a lie (he’s not drunk), but it’s also truth (he’s an alcoholic). Trump really is lots of things, but he’s also playing a caricature of himself.

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                                                                            • Trump-as-a-method-character-actor works reasonably well for explaining what’s going on.

                                                                              Heh. You might be correct, but it leads to a different conclusion than I think you think it does.

                                                                              Method acting, for those who don’t know what it is outside of metaphor, is a form of acting when actors try to experience the actual emotions they are portraying. I.e., if the actor wants to show sadness, they think of a time they were sad, or something that makes them sad. They want to show love, they think of things they love. (Method acting is not the same thing as ‘staying in character’, although method actors are more likely to do that sort of thing because it’s exhausting to keep re-drawing the emotions needed.)

                                                                              This is in opposition to other schools of acting, which emphasis more mechanical aspects….this is what sadness looks like on the face and sounds like, this is what love is, etc. (And I over-simplify a bit…all schools of acting let you use some real emotion to some extent, but usually only hints of it, and usually just the positive stuff.)

                                                                              There is a very serious problem with pure method acting, and it should be obvious to anyone who knows how humans work. Namely, there is no such thing as fake emotions…you either feel an emotion, or you don’t. If the mere mechanical act of showing an emotion can change your emotion state, like how people who physically smile can feel happier, than actually feeling the emotion is ten times worse.

                                                                              In fact, the guy ‘credited’ with inventing method acting, Konstantin Stanislavski, (who really had a whole system where that was just a part of it) but even there, he noticed it was causing emotional problems. And all the derivative schools move even further away.

                                                                              Method actors who have to play angry people will find themselves angry. Method actors who have to play someone in a hurry will find themselves talking too quickly. Method actors who have to portray someone in love will not only find themselves falling in love, but can even delusionally think their counterpart feels the same way. Etc, etc. And that’s not even touching on the fact that a lot of works would require constantly changing those emotions.

                                                                              This is why, basically, no professional actor uses straight method acting. Or, to quote Wikipedia: [method acting] is among the most popular—and controversial—approaches to acting.

                                                                              By which they really mean ‘It is how naive people approach acting, and it’s a dumb thing to do’ and they’re just being polite.

                                                                              Trump might have been method acting at some point, but at this point, it’s completely moot. If he’s been channeling actual emotion this entire time, then that is truly how he feels about those things now.

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                                                                              • teal deer: If we hypothetically suppose that Trump is acting, that he is playing a caricature, there are two ways he could be doing that:

                                                                                1) He could be a very cold and calculating person, who has been pretending to go on angry rants that he calmly figured out in advance for maximum impact, carefully controlling himself, and…at this point it’s pretty clear either Trump is not that guy, or he’s one of the best actors in the world.

                                                                                2) Or he could be method acting, where he actually does get angry, but he’s pretending to be angry about specific things that do not make him angry in the real world. But that sort of method acting is extremely taxing on someone, and also eventually everyone becomes the mask, so he wouldn’t be acting at _this_ point, where he’s at least two years into it, and really more like five years. He might have tricked himself into his behaviors and feelings, but they would be real now.

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                                                                              • that is truly how he feels about those things now.

                                                                                I used the example of Dick Van Dyke because, under the caricature of being an alcoholic, he really is an alcoholic.

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                                                                        • The way I’d state it is that in news reporting, there’s signal and noise, and in mainstream news reports, the vast, vast majority of it is signal. It’s fun to try to figure out what the actual SNR is in dB, but it’s ultimately not going to happen. If people want to say, “But 10% of the bad things they say about Trump are wrong!” I’m OK with that. It still paints a pretty accurate picture of what’s going on, and it means that the overall goodness or badness of our leaders is more or less knowable.

                                                                          What I object to is, “Here’s an example that constitutes way less than 10% being wrong, so I’m going to treat it like it’s all wrong and replace it with the feelings I have in my tummy.”

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                                                                          • What I object to is, “Here’s an example that constitutes way less than 10% being wrong, so I’m going to treat it like it’s all wrong and replace it with the feelings I have in my tummy.”

                                                                            Oh, absolutely.

                                                                            As a matter of fact, if I was opposed to Trump, I’d think that I’d see particularly egregious examples of media bias as being one of those things that actively undercuts my effective opposition of him.

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                                            • Maybe? I’d want to know the typical rates for these things. The control group, as you say. It is possible the media has a generalized bias towards negative stories and a higher “miss” rate in that direction.

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                                              • I’d also argue that “corrections” aren’t all created equal nor are we really looking at a binary for “corrected” versus “non-corrected”.

                                                Retracted seems the metric we are looking for here. But, again, absent any sort of control group… this data is pretty useless.

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                                            • I see where you’re going (random errors should be random) but I don’t think the nature of reporting is likely to produce that either. Reporting is biased toward interesting things, and I suspect that most interesting things in politics are bad. So I’d expect most errors to be on the side of thinking something’s interesting (bad) when it’s really not.

                                              That is, you’ll probably never see a retraction that says, “Our front page story that Senator Jones had a perfectly normal day yesterday was untrue and has been retracted. He actually stabbed a homeless guy.”

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                                              • That’s kind of what I was attempting to say.

                                                But then, I also question the entire “Bias”premise.

                                                Its valid to ask whether Trump has earned fair and square, a suspicion and distrust which leads to people instinctively believing the worst about him.

                                                I mean, if you took every utterance he ever made and assumed every one was a lie, would the error rate be above or below 50%?

                                                If you took every interaction with a foreign government, and assumed that Trump’s primary goal was predicated on how this would affect Trump Hotels, would you be more wrong than right?

                                                Sometimes assuming that the scorpion will sting you despite its promises, is actually a good thing.

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                                                • Any media analysis methodology would need to explain what they’d expect to see if an absolute saint with the foresight of a prophet and the will of a philosopher king were President vs what we’d see if we elected an enemy of the state bent on destroying America and looting the Treasury on his way out.

                                                  If the difference between those two test signals causes you to conclude that the media is garbage, you probably need a different evaluation function.

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                                                • Its valid to ask whether Trump has earned fair and square, a suspicion and distrust which leads to people instinctively believing the worst about him.

                                                  About him personally? Sure. However the Trump Presidency is very little about Trump, his personality, and very much about the government, administration, and so on.

                                                  It’s possible to picture the gov is now a massive cluster because Trump’s personality is *that* difficult, he changes his mind hourly, put into place incompetents, and so forth. It’s also possible there’s a vast difference between his public act and his private behavior. That he has serious management skills and runs the place like he would a hotel chain (i.e. a CEO). Putting in place competent minions who are given wide latitude to do their jobs and he only gets involved when those minions conflict.

                                                  The 2nd, 3rd, 4th order effects of the Trump administration are far more important than Trump himself. I’m never going to be in the same room as Trump, he doesn’t give orders via twitter, I’ve accepted that Trump is a terrible person, none of that is news that affects me. Other than Trump running his mouth, how are things going?

                                                  Moving from 20% negative news to 93% means the gov is melting down, that everything Trump touches ceases to work. OK great, what’s his equiv to “giving guns to drug dealers” and how common is that sort of mess?

                                                  The laughable misnamed “Muslim ban” was certainly a cluster. The Russian probe doesn’t hit the radar as well handled but my opinion is waiting for reports to be released, there’s room for that to swing either direction.

                                                  In terms of “news I care about”, the economy is growing, unemployment is going down, the gov is getting smaller (if that’s a negative it needs proving), so there seems to be a lot to like.

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                                                    • Yup unemployment is going down and the econ is going up….at the same rates as under Obama when, apparently, everything was terrible.

                                                      Unemployment yes, growth no.

                                                      To be fair, Obama took over after a credit boom/crash, and it can take years to recover from that.

                                                      Of course the flip side of that is I can’t think of any pro-growth initiatives Obama got passed, and billing what he did get passed as pro-growth implied he didn’t understand the concept. The one I actually respected him for was that Trade deal HRC was for before she was against.

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                                                  • It’s also possible there’s a vast difference between his public act and his private behavior.

                                                    That’s demonstrably untrue.
                                                    It has not been true for any President since at least FDR, and is less true about Trump than any figure since.

                                                    The man insists on making everything about him personally, and in fact that is his main appeal.
                                                    He isn’t some detached ceremonial figurehead; He is Trump the brand, Trump the man, Trump the personal figure of assertiveness.

                                                    And when his personality is so bizarre and freakish,so much the making of a reality show contestant; behaving in a manner that would get him tossed out of a dive bar in New Jersey, well, that is going to result in a lot of negative coverage, and a presupposition of ill will.

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                                                    • That’s demonstrably untrue.
                                                      It has not been true for any President since at least FDR, and is less true about Trump than any figure since.

                                                      Trump has been described as being a lot less crazy and more functional in person. His kids are a lot more functional than I’d expect someone so openly nuts to be capable of raising. Now he’s clearly comfortable in that public skin, and he’s mistreated enough people that “monster” isn’t so much on the table as well established.

                                                      And in any case, what kind of ship he runs is far more important than he himself.

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                                                      • Trump has been described as being a lot less crazy and more functional in person.

                                                        Described by who, exactly?

                                                        Because, you know, I keep reading how he was thin-skinned, narcissitic, and entirely clueless. I mean from everyone from the guy that ghost authored his book, to the people who worked on the Apprentice, to Richard Branson describing a lunch with him.

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                                                        • I don’t see how that’s at odds with him being less crazy and more functional in person.

                                                          In public, he literally just took credit for the fact that airplanes in foreign countries crashed less in 2017 than they did in 2016.

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                                                  • Moving from 20% negative news to 93% means the gov is melting down, that everything Trump touches ceases to work.

                                                    No, it really doesn’t. It just means that a high percentage of the unusual and interesting things that are happening are negative. Like Trump acting like a crazy old man on Twitter or former members of his cabinet being indicted.

                                                    The fact that the economy is continuing on more or less the same pace as it was a year ago and two years ago is news, but it’s not going to dominate coverage. The fact that the Hoover Dam has also not collapsed isn’t going to either. Trump could possibly do things to damage the Hoover Dam, so its continued operation is presumably news that Trump has not done those things, but they’re not nearly as newsworthy as, say, Trump’s former campaign manager laundering money to take payments from sketchy foreign interests.

                                                    In terms of “news I care about”, the economy is growing, unemployment is going down, the gov is getting smaller (if that’s a negative it needs proving), so there seems to be a lot to like.

                                                    All of these things are being reported. All of them. They’re only being reported as “great things Trump is doing” if you watch Fox, which, I’d argue, is a defect of Fox.

                                                    The fact that there’s so much other stuff to cover that, even if you call the above coverage “positive” should be telling on its own.

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    • From the OP:
      “You could look at a recent story in the New York Times where Trump said all Haitians have AIDS and referred to Nigerian immigrants as not wanting to go back to their huts after seeing America. “

      With a link to that same story.

      It’s helpful to discussion if people read the OP fairly carefully before responding to it.

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  3. The conservative movement overwhelmingly decided that Trump was fit to be President, and Never-Trumpers of any stripe are a small minority of both the conservative movement and the Republican Party.

    This isn’t a small mistake.

    This is evidence that the movement is irredeemably corrupt, and a sign that the underlying values that motivate it are profoundly flawed.

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    • I agree but what I see this post is about is how the neverTrumpers are reacting or should react in a post-Trump world. The other big issue is whether the GOP can ever put the genie bottle back on the lid on Trumpism.

      Let’s say that the Democratic Party wins back Congress in 2018 with strong majorities. This reduces Trump to being a lame duck in 2019-2020. Let’s say Trump remains unpopular and loses his bid for reelection in 2020.

      What does the GOP do from there? Do they Trump harder? Do people like Roy Moore keep on getting nominated in the primaries? Or does the GOP leadership find a way to declare that Trump was a “secret liberal” and they go back to nominating people like Romney and Jeb Bush for President? What does the GOP do to prevent future Trumps and Moores from running?

      I think there are lots of people in the GOP looking for answers to these questions. The issue is whether they will find them.

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      • They give up, as Trump should be all the proof we need that the party cannot act constructively at the national level. They are too beholden to a group of donors and activists who view their particular brand of conservatism as nothing more than a flimsy pretext for bigotry.

        The time to pull back from the precipice was in 2009. Now they’ve gone over the cliff and the only question is whether they take the rest of the country with them.

        The question of whether Trump is a catastrophe or a mere setback for the country remains open. But there’s no such uncertainty about what he means for conservatism as a political movement. And when a movement fails this catastrophically, it’s time for it’s well-intentioned members to take a long, hard, and extremely skeptical look at the principles that bound and may still bind them to it.

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    • This is evidence that the movement is irredeemably corrupt, and a sign that the underlying values that motivate it are profoundly flawed.

      Seconded. A few people here might remember, a while back, way before Trump, I tried to figure out exactly the conservative movement wanted.

      But it was nearly impossible for me to come up with a consistent thought process to explain how they thought on social issues, in a manner that doesn’t conclude ‘the origins of this are racists and/or sexist and/or xenophobic’ or ‘the origins of this are for rich people to get richer’. Those were the conclusions I was trying to _not_ reach, but couldn’t find any others. For example, I say, getting into my mindset several years ago:

      1) They seemed to think government oppression was something they needed a bunch of guns to defend against, and yet had no sympathy at all for people killed for no reason and with no accountability by law enforcement. This seemed…somewhat absurd. Especially since they seemed to think Waco was deliberate and malicious on the part of the government. A political philosophy shouldn’t result in extreme positions in both directions, if it’s any sort of real philosophy and not just a bunch of beliefs cobbled together and given a name. (You don’t see the far-left demanding both communism and privatization of roads, for example.)

      Or this could instead have something to do with racism.

      2) Abortion. Okay, let me rewrite my brain where fetuses are people as soon as they are conceived. And, thus, abortion is murdering people. I can follow that logic, even though I disagree.

      But a couple of points immediately appear. First, it’s very hypocritical of the GOP to attack abortion clinics with regulations. Second, the conservative movement seems to be doing none of the things that would reduce the demand for abortion, namely contraceptives and comprehensive sex education. Third, if ‘give the baby up for adoption’ is going to be offered as a competing idea, the adoption and foster care system in this country will have to work, and it is barely functioning.

      I guess the ‘ends justify the means’ when it comes to destroying the ‘murder clinics’ with regulations, but do not justify the means when it comes to…spending money? Or sex ed? The priorities appear to basically be, in this order: 1) No spending, 2) No talking about sex with kids, 3) No abortion-murders, and 4) No regulations.

      Honestly, guys, I have to say, that’s a weird order of priorities.

      Or this could instead have something to do with misogyny to punish women for sex.

      3) For a bunch of people convinced about lowering taxes, they seemed to have no idea of what their taxes actually were or if they’d gone up or down. The Tea Party showed up when Obama got elected, convinced their taxes were too high, when their taxes had not been raised. (And they were so early, in fact, if taxes had been raised it would have been Bush Jr. who raised them!)

      I mean, seriously, compare that to what is going on right now, where taxes are going up on _some_ middle class people and not others, depending, and the people complaining about the tax ‘reform’ are aware of that so are instead making the point about the fact the permanent tax cuts are for corporations, but will slowly go away for human beings and everyone’s taxes will go up.

      This is because the left actually _pays attention_ to changes in the tax code, whereas the right is just…not. And hasn’t ever. At some point, if you want to make something your signature issue, you sorta have to show some knowledge about it!

      Or this could instead have something to do with a black president, and something to do with minorities on welfare.

      In fact, ‘not paying attention to issues that are supposedly very important to conservatives’ is basically conservative’s middle name, which is what I think was really tripping me up.

      The left actually pays attention to this stuff. I am not saying the left doesn’t sometime lie, or misuse stats, but the left tends to have some sort of general awareness of their goals, and how close they are _to_ their goals. The conservative moment doesn’t pay attention. At all.

      They don’t notice how abortions have plummeted as general sexual education happens (Often via the internet at this point.), or dropped even more in areas with better contraceptive access. They don’t seem to have any idea of the relative tax rates, or even how taxes work. They have somehow failed to notice actual systematic government oppression and murder because it’s against black people. They haven’t notice that tickle down economics doesn’t work.

      This is because conservativism is completely uninterested in reaching the goals supposedly stated by conservativism.

      But we mostly sorta ignored that. Oh, people would bring it up, but the response would be immediately ‘How dare people malicious interpret a real, actual noble political philosophy! We have told you what our goals are, and how we’re trying to reach them, and it has nothing to do with attacking Others, in fact, we will make their lives better off, ultimately!’

      And everyone ignored the fact that their stated goals are somewhat dodgy, and their stated methods of reaching those goals were often obviously dumb.

      But then, Trump.

      Trump has made it increasingly clear that, _regardless_ of whether or not the mishmash of ideas that is called ‘conservativism’ makes sense, and whether or not the people at the top truly believe it is the best way to reach specific, noble goals, the entire thing is tainted, from top to bottom. The supposed goals…are not the goals.

      Instead the goals of a good portion of the voters are…racism. Xenophobia. White nationalism. Transphobia. Homophobia, although that has mostly been tamped down because it turns out that ‘gay people’ are those lesbians at the PTA meeting. Basically, the goal is hurting other people who are different from them. Different from ‘real Americans’. This goal might not be the stated goal of the conservative movement, but it appears to be the goal of a large portion of the people who are part of (Or at least, claim to be party of and vote for) the conservative movement, perhaps even of the majority of those people.

      And some amount of the rest of the movement appears to be ‘Rich people who are convinced they need more money and will fund the rest of the thing if that’s what they get’.

      There’s only a very small subset of people who have managed to internalize the stated goals of conservativism and truly think those are the goals and that they are possible to reach via the stated means. They are easy to find: The nomination and election of Trump broke their minds, regardless of whether or not they are still Never Trump or not.

      I want people to imagine something. You are sheriff, and you live in a small town, and near that town is a murderer named Frank. He used to live in town, years ago, but now lives somewhere hidden in the woods, and every week or so sneaks into town and steals food, and kills someone if they happen to be in the way. Everyone knows this, no one is really disputing what is going on, he’s killed about ten people, and there’s an arrest warrant out for him. So you decide to deputize a posse to search the woods, repeatedly because they are big woods, and find Frank, and capture him, or kill him if he resists.

      But as you’re gathering the people into cars the first night, you hear something. It seems a few people have joined the party not to stop a murderer, but because Frank is a gay man, and they’re excited to be able to beat up and maybe kill a [insert favorite homophobic slur]. You ignore them the first night. Just some assholes.

      The next night, even more people are saying it. A few other people are shushing them, not because they seem to think that’s wrong, but because it’s not something people should be saying aloud, and that other gay guy over there might hear them, and they need his truck. You ignore them again.

      The next night, half the crowd is chanting anti-gay slogans proudly, how they are going to scour the town of gay people, starting with Frank.

      From _your_ point of view, what you are doing is entirely reasonable. You think that everyone would agree with your actions, getting rid the murderer Frank. The problem is that a lot of people standing next to you appear to have incredibly tainted motives.

      I see why conservative pundits have been having meltdowns.

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      • All Dems aren’t members of BLM.

        All members of the GOP don’t oppose abortion, immigration, etc.

        This is evidence that the movement is irredeemably corrupt, and a sign that the underlying values that motivate it are profoundly flawed.

        This is an amusing statement coming from the party which WILLINGLY put HRC up for the President’s spot without a Trump-style peasant revolt. There is no “never Trump” equiv on the left, i.e. no “never-HRC”.

        Instead what we have is almost universal support for her collecting money with one hand and handing out gov services with the other. Her charity was legit, her cattle futures ditto, pardon-gate was only condemned when she was out of power.

        Trump is a problem, but he’s acknowledged as a problem and actively opposed, even inside the GOP. Maybe that’s why his governance is so different from his Twitter feed.

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        • You seem to think my post has something to do with Trump’s corruption, or Trump’s personality.

          It did not. It was entirely about _policy goals_, the outcomes that voters want to happen. Those goals have nothing to do with how corrupt a candidate is or how they act or any scandals.

          The left has various stated goals. Hillary Clinton generally promised to do those goals, and thus got nominated.

          Bernie Sanders promised to meet those goals better, but in somewhat implausible ways, and was also given due consideration. Maybe Sanders would have been better, but political maneuvering and familiarity resulted Clinton instead, but that just mean it’s possible to fool voters, and nothing to do with actual goals they want implemented.

          Conclusion: Liberal voters have goals they care about seeing accomplished, even if an argument can be made they are bad at picking people who will accomplish those goals.

          The right has various stated goals. Donald Trump generally promised to stomp all over them. (And fact he often lying about that is not important to the point, and in fact, if his voters guessed that and nominated him anyway, they would be even more insane.)

          Conclusion: Conservative voters do not, in fact, have goals that they want to see accomplished, or rather those goals are not even slightly what they have been claiming they are.

          The Republicans have been claiming, for decades, that all their policies, despite the fact their policies might _seem_ harmful, and might _seem_ directed at minorities and women, were actually very noble philosophical goals, carefully reasoned out, that in the end would make things better. Sure, some bigots might be involved, but this is not bigotry, this is serious politics.

          And the Republicans who said that probably did believe it, because the people who talk about politics, the intellectuals, had carefully built their own system of logic in which all that was true.

          And then, and I repeat myself, Trump. And it suddenly was clear that a good section of the voters didn’t believe in any of the supposed goals of the conservative movement, and in fact were almost entirely motivated by hatred.

          Trump is a problem, but he’s acknowledged as a problem and actively opposed, even inside the GOP. Maybe that’s why his governance is so different from his Twitter feed.

          Look, we all _know_ the raccoon I have put in charge of this airplane is completely unsuited for the task, and I demand some sort of credit for acknowledging that, and trying to stop some of his more obvious errors.

          Why, yes, I am the only person who can unlock the cockpit and replace the raccoon with a human pilot, and I refuse to do so, but I don’t know what that has to do with anything.

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          • Look, we all _know_ the raccoon I have put in charge of this airplane is completely unsuited for the task

            Someone around here once pointed out that the GOP is a collection of people who believe in God! Guns! Moats! & Money! (but normally not all four at once).

            God! got Jerusalem and a Supreme.
            Guns! was ignored after a mass murder, that’s most of what they want right there.
            Money! has a rising stock market, tax reform, administration reform.
            Moats! has more than they’ve ever seen.

            And I could go on and on. If you ignore everything the raccoon says and the fact that he’s a raccoon, the airplane is (amazingly) profitable and seriously ahead of schedule. Sure, the liberals are screaming “Nazi”, but they’d do that if Romney were President so whatever.

            Personally I’d like Moats! to be stiffed in the name of Money! but I doubt I’d be good at keeping the coalition together.

            Big picture I expect all this economic anxiety that Trump is channeling to go away with more growth. I also think it’s a coin flip whether Trump screws up and presto, President Pence.

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              • Does God! care more about Jerusalem and SCOTUS than they do thingd like morality, decency, etc.?

                Very clearly, yes. Or even “YES!”

                Obviously they’d rather have both, but their big reluctance to signing on with Trump was whether they’d *really* get a Supreme(s). Various people expressed that they could trust HRC to pick wrongly so Trump had to be better, but that’s not really convincing.

                And then Trump published his list(s). That was the point where he should have been taken seriously. God! is a big part of the coalition.

                I assume he stole someone else’s homework and put a big “Trump” sticker at the top but whatever. For a politician that’s acceptable.

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            • If you ignore everything the raccoon says and the fact that he’s a raccoon, the airplane is (amazingly) profitable and seriously ahead of schedule.

              Was this intended to be a nearly word for word version of “at least the trains run on time”?

              Because as I said before, under every awful tyranny, there is a class of people for whom the only tangible change is the benefit of cheaper prices or smoothly running trains or streets cleared of protesters and homeless.

              In this case there is a class of people who get the red meat of white supremacy, or tax cuts, or just the grim schadenfreude of snooty college professors screaming into the wind.

              And also under every tyranny there is a class of people untouched by the brutal fist who spend their time tut-tutting, assuring the world that the silly strutting man is just a joke not to be taken seriously.

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                • Immigrants and refugees have already felt the effects, and that is after less than a year, and a determined resistance.

                  Add to that a weakening of workers rights and consumer rights via the gutting of the CBFP, an end of net neutrality. A more subtle shift is in the emphasis of the Justice Department from justice to rigid enforcement of drug laws and sentencing laws.

                  All of these add up to a significant shifting of power from the powerless to the powerful.

                  And no, the fist isn’t something you and I will see directly.

                  It is in defendents who can’t afford the usurious fees, who are forced to stay in jail while people like you and me are let free on bail. Or immigrant families torn apart for no reason. Or women being jailed for suspicious miscarriages.

                  The rise of fascism is never about one person in one place; It is a rising sentiment in an entire country. We are seeing it in the state legislatures and cities, not just from the White House.

                  If you decide to litigate this, please refrain. I already know that this stuff is all invisible and unheard to you and me; I myself never would known about any of this if I hadn’t read about it.

                  But you and I are like the senior party members in the East bloc,or members of the favored family in some banana republic.

                  If you take away one thing, please grasp that the life you live is radically different than many Americans. There are many Americans who are genuinely fearful of injustice.

                  Not the preposterous fears of black helicopters and FEMA camps, but the real thing, that they will end up jailed and their lives crushed by an iron fist of an unjust state.

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                  • An anecdote:
                    I had a Mormon friend who did his mission in Argentina in the 1970s.
                    I asked, “Wow, that must have been a scary place, what with the dirty war and such.”
                    He shrugged and smiled that no, he never knew anything about any of that. Everyone he met with was friendly and cheerful and went about their day.

                    Of course, I realized.
                    As an American tourist, his circle was entirely the affluent and comfortable professional class, who like in the film “The Official Story“, the people for whom the desaparicido were invisible abstraction, something they heard of as scandalous rumor or invective from a hostile foreign press.

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                  • Dark: What “brutal fist” are you referring to, and whom is currently targeted?

                    Chip Daniels: Immigrants and refugees have already felt the effects, and that is after less than a year, and a determined resistance.

                    Trump’s policies on this aren’t that different from Obama’s. So how did you feel about this when it was Obama who was seriously ramping up enforcement?

                    More generally, the underlying immigration problem isn’t “fascism”, it’s the law. We have a bunch of laws which everyone (Dem and GOP) agreed to follow which say the executive branch is supposed to do what Trump is doing. If people weren’t serious about the law being enforced (and imho they weren’t and shouldn’t have been) then they shouldn’t have passed these laws.

                    On immigration I’m to the left of anyone who is electable, but I also think rule of law is an important deal. These laws need to be changed, the last guy to even try to change it was Bush and that effort was derailed by 911.

                    It is in defendants who can’t afford the usurious fees, who are forced to stay in jail while people like you and me are let free on bail.

                    You’re pointing to a set of corrupt, oppressive government policies which long predate Trump and come from an overly powerful and abusive state. I checked and wasn’t surprised to find that Mecklenburg County (your example) is run by the Dems.

                    Presumably your solution to these policies and this example is… what? To empower the Dems and expand the government because the government is always benevolent?

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                    • Its the rising sentiment of fascism that is the problem, of which Trump is only the manifestation.

                      Specifically, the sentiment that no act however cruel or brutal is wrong so long as the law legitimizes it.

                      But the law itself is the injustice. I’m sure you have seen those internet commenters who love to point out that everything Hitler did was within the law.

                      The law could protect DREAMERs but Trump doesn’t want to.
                      The law could prioritize criminal immigrants, but Trump doesn’t want to.
                      The law could safely admit refugees, but Trump doesn’t want to.

                      When the President made his political fortune by calling Mexicans rapists, it makes a mockery that immigration law is based on justice rather than naked racism.

                      The hallmark of fascism isn’t concentration camps or the Holocaust; those were just the peak of its horror.

                      The hallmark of fascism is blood and soil nationalism, and that is what has been given power with this administration.

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                      • I’m sure you have seen those internet commenters who love to point out that everything Hitler did was within the law.

                        Actually no, I haven’t, and I doubt mass murder is within the law.

                        The law could protect DREAMERs but Trump doesn’t want to.

                        No, “the law” doesn’t “protect Dreamers”, just the opposite. The as-written law says the Dreamers are to be deported, Obama pulled the reverse out of thin air. The President isn’t supposed to be creating laws even if the law in question is a good idea. We’re looking at a bad idea the Dems signed off on under… I think Reagan.

                        Obama’s actions were a big step in the “imperial presidency” (what you’d call fascism) march. Trump’s approach is to say the law of the United States is the law of the United States, that’s a big step away from the imperial presidency and a big step towards rule of law.

                        What is supposed to happen is the Dreamer’s supporters (mostly Dems) are supposed to get this passed into law (Trump has said he’ll sign), which means they’ll make trade offs (probably building that stupid wall but whatever).

                        The law could prioritize criminal immigrants, but Trump doesn’t want to.

                        Trump, like Obama, and every other President, does “prioritize criminal immigrants”. However, prioritizing criminals doesn’t mean ignoring all others. Trump is following both the letter and spirit of the law.

                        The law could safely admit refugees, but Trump doesn’t want to.

                        You’re vastly overstating Trump’s actions for effect (to be fair he does too). Trump acted against refugees from lawless countries we’re bombing or want to bomb.

                        The hallmark of fascism isn’t concentration camps or the Holocaust; those were just the peak of its horror.

                        You’re assuming the nasty, dangerous parts of “fascism” was it’s racism. Racism for all it’s ugliness and evil isn’t seductive and doesn’t scale well. We lynched 4,743 between 1882-1968 (Source: NAACP). The Nazis killed 12 million in just a few years.

                        The dangerous, seductive, powerful aspect of the National Socialists was the socialism. It’s an ideology which includes “all of us will be better off if this class of people were eliminated”, and that line of thinking is still attractive today. Some people have too much, they’re stealing from the collective good, we’d all be better off if we took their stuff.

                        After the war, by dropping the socialism the “fascists” became a loser attracting hate group with a membership of hundreds. The socialists denied “National Socialism” was theirs and went on to various other “killed lots of people” experiments.

                        it makes a mockery that immigration law is based on justice rather than naked racism.

                        “Justice”? I’m not sure how immigration law even interacts with “justice”, immigrants don’t have the right to come here. Nor am I sure what golden period of time you’re referring too. This country has had very long periods of time when immigration law was openly racist by design, white countries have a certain quota and so forth.

                        IMHO immigration law should be built around the idea that immigrants are economically useful. We should be stapling a green card to every college diploma (and handing out green cards to the dreamers, and the bulk of the illegals).

                        That aside, crass deliberately offensive racist remarks by candidate Trump are a problem but I think it’s Congress which sets the various countries quotas (i.e. it’s a law, not the President’s whim).

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                        • Just a couple of things off the top of my head:

                          The socialism part of National Socialism got killed during the Night of Long Knives in 34. Capitalists were just ducky in the Nazi regime.

                          The initial travel ban suddenly disallowed people who had visas and in some cases had been working/studying in the US for years. That isn’t following the law.

                          Many things are in the eye of the beholder. What the spirit of immigration law is and what “we” want from immigration might be the best example of that in the entire history of best examples.

                          Ok that is actually three things.

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                          • Capitalists were just ducky in the Nazi regime.

                            Sort of.
                            Its difficult for us in the post-Cold War era to see socialism as anything but the Soviet model.

                            But under the blood and soil nationalism and Great Man worship of fascism, the power of private capital was ducky, but only within the limits delineated by the state.

                            Where Trump and the Republicans fit that mold is in things like the tax bill, where it was written specifically to reward friends and punish enemies of the state.

                            Its in how they are pressing for purges of any enemy of the Great Man from the ranks of the legal system.

                            Unlike the Soviet model, the inspiration isn’t some abstract economic ideology, fascism is based on the more primal ethnic tribalism.
                            Trump’s racism isn’t extraneous to his support; its the very essence of it.

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            • I think you have sorta missed the point. The point isn’t that Trump has pushed traditional Republican positions…the point is that he didn’t _run_ on them.

              God! got Jerusalem and a Supreme.

              This…he did run on, in the sense he clearly did not actually care about any of that and was parroting what he was told to say. So I guess, in the technical sense, he did promise them the traditional Republican stuff.

              Weirdly, despite this being the group that was promised the exact same thing they were always promised, it was also the group that had some notable and very public defections from Trump.

              Guns! was ignored after a mass murder, that’s most of what they want right there.

              Trump after Newtown: “President Obama spoke for me and every American in his remarks in #Newtown Connecticut.”

              What Trump was referring to was Obama saying: “We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?”

              And that’s just the recent stuff, said _after_ he had already flirted with running as a Republican. You can go back to the 90s and 00s and find all sorts of positive remarks about strong gun control. (Trump, after all, lived in New York City in the 80s, where they had a bit of problem with gun violence, and this seemed to have made a big impact on him.)

              Now, you can say ‘Trump changed his position’, but having any hint of slight pro-gun-control tendencies were supposedly completely anathema to what the Republican party stood for.

              Money! has a rising stock market, tax reform, administration reform.

              Trump did not get elected on the promise of an upper-class tax cut, or indeed any tax cut at all. Trump promised to raise taxes on rich people like himself.

              He also did not get elected because he said the stock market would rise. He actually promised to attack American companies that moved jobs overseas, and demand companies reopen factories in America. (Which presumably would make them less profitable, or they would already be doing it.)

              He did, however, promise to do various ‘administration reform’, or rather ‘reducing job killing regulation’, although it was mostly in the context of ‘bringing jobs back to the US’.

              Moats! has more than they’ve ever seen.

              Actually, I’m glad you mentioned that, because ‘moats’ is perhaps the most obvious example of ‘The goals of the Republican voters laid bare.’

              The stated platform of the Republican part has always been ‘secure the borders, and then talk about a path to legality for people here, although they will have to get at the end of the line and there will be background checks’. They have always premised their anti-immigration stuff on ‘national security’ and ‘law and order’. They do not mind immigration on the whole, and in fact they promoted things like H-1B visas. And the idea that has anything to do with racism or xenophobia is just nonsense.

              That was the platform. The stated goals were something like ‘Immigration is good, and built this country, but we need to check everyone on the way in and know who they are.’.

              And Trump blew that entire thing out of the water.

              He attacked legal immigration, and, although most people forget it, proposed halving all legal immigration. He also, and this we remember because he tried to do it, proposed trying to keep Muslims out. He also attacked H-1B visas.

              And I don’t have time to get into how he talked about illegal immigrants, which…let’s just say it did not hew to traditional Republican party line talk.

              And a third of Republican voter said ‘Hey, I like what he’s saying, with his open xenophobia and racism.’

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              • Dark: God! got Jerusalem and a Supreme.

                DavidTC: This…he did run on, in the sense he clearly did not actually care about any of that and was parroting what he was told to say. So I guess, in the technical sense, he did promise them the traditional Republican stuff.

                This is a very weird way to describe something close to a written contract, with Gorsuch’s name black letter on it. I am not a member of God! but imho Trump totally delivered.

                Dark: Guns! was ignored after a mass murder, that’s most of what they want right there.

                DavidTC: Trump after Newtown:…

                You think anyone in Guns! cares what he said after Newtown back when he wasn’t President? Yes, candidate Trump explored putting together a group without the Guns! party line, now he knows that isn’t possible.

                He ran on being a member of Guns! (yes, we know he flipped, and that’s fine) and he’s delivered. In his inner heart of hearts, I’m sure he’s… a total psychopath who never gave a damn about the children of Newtown. Mass murder is an opportunity for him to put his face in the newspapers, not an opportunity for him to enact gun control.

                After Vegas, he did the whole “hearts and prayers” thing, with the only additional gun-control being vetted by the NRA and issued with their approval. And he’ll do the same thing after the next mass murder, and the one after that. From Guns! point of view that’s his job.

                Dark: Money! has a rising stock market, tax reform, administration reform.

                DavidTC: Trump did not get elected on the promise of an upper-class tax cut, or indeed any tax cut at all.

                That’s right. Money! (my faction) was stiffed when Trump was promising things left right and center, and I didn’t vote for him. However Money! is Trump’s first (only?) love and he works as a Money! guy really well.

                He made a number of economically illiterate anti-Money! promises to the economic illiterates who voted for him. So yes, he said he’d create jobs by attacking American companies that move jobs overseas, and so forth.

                You don’t punish business into creating jobs, you have to pick one, and Trump (to his credit) understands what people care about is the later and not the former. If he delivers jobs (via growth), his followers will be thrilled.

                Dark: Moats! has more than they’ve ever seen.

                DavidTC: …And a third of Republican voter said ‘Hey, I like what he’s saying, with his open xenophobia and racism.’

                A pity “racism” was redefined to mean “not a democrat” or calling someone that would mean something. I think “a third” is large as a number, this reaches deep into a segment of voters who voted for Obama, so probably there’s a flaw in this line of reasoning.

                And xenophobia is a serious problem, but imho it’s mostly a reflection of economic anxiety. One hopes Moats! can be brought around to properly respect Money!, a rising tide and all that.

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                • On the plus side- the money!/libertarian/conservative* factions can be laughed out of the conversation if complaints about deficits or debt ever passes their lips again. That ain’t nothing.

                  *Though Bush minor and his GOP congress arguably sank the conservatives claim to any form of fiscal probity back in the aughts evidently they got another bite at the apple; which they botched.

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      • @pillsy

        I suspect that the problem is that OT’s right leaning writers are political orphans. They are largely against Trump and the modern GOP but still have strong biases and/or beliefs that prevent them from becoming Democrats.

        Hence we get posts like this.

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        • Posts like this, when one actually reads them at the level of nuance they are written in, are not actually a problem, and nor is it a problem that our right-leaning writers are against Trump and Trumpism, but don’t want to be Democrats.

          Here is a short version of this post: Trump is awful and I don’t see how anyone can accept him, but we’re not going to change the conservative movement by lowering our own standards of behavior and going into a frenzy of attacking each other.

          I’m not saying there aren’t things to be at odds with in that thesis (and more things to argue with in the full post) – but it might make you less livid than your apparently-skipped-at-least-one-paragraph version of the post did.

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    • While I have difficulty with the notion that most conservative people are basically evil greedy racists, I don’t have difficulty with the notion that a lot of what animates activists and enthusiasts are recapitulations of racism and greed.

      That, and fear.

      The positive, opportunity-creating, optimism of Ronald Reagan would have a difficult time flourishing in today’s dark, bitter, and optimistic conservative political movement. Donald Regan would not have just raised my taxes. Jack Kemp would not have turned their backs on free trade. George Schultz would not have sneered at the use of economic incentives and sanctions to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

      Make no mistake: James Watt would have shrunk national monuments and approved pipeline construction. Ed Meese might have hesitated to open a criminal investigation against Walter Mondale in retaliation for Mondale having had the temerity to run for President against Reagan, but he would not have shrunk from encouraging states to restrict voter rolls along racial lines to skew the electorate more Republican. Dick Thornburgh would have been thrilled with Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. And while Caspar Weinberger would not have relished the idea of a war against Iran, you’d be foolish to think he hadn’t planned on executing one.

      Which is to say, a NeverTrump conservative should be presumed to still be a conservative. That puts them in a bind when Trump does or advocates something that is, despite intemperate rhetoric, the sort of policy that Republicans like. What they don’t like is how Trump pushes back the socially-acceptable veneer of respectability that traditionally has clothed their preferred policies.

      The result is, ultimately, Paul Ryan style accommodation.

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      • You say:

        “While I have difficulty with the notion that most conservative people are basically evil greedy racists, I don’t have difficulty with the notion that a lot of what animates activists and enthusiasts are recapitulations of racism and greed.”

        Human nature generally doesn’t want to see other humans as evil. I don’t know if you can exactly call this the just world fallacy or not. But I generally like Jason K and Hanley but I think they are both deeply wrong about a lot of things. The results of their wrong-headed beliefs are not evil in intent but I think would be evil in effect if fully executed. I think this is especially true when they go on about freedom of association trumping anti-discrimination law (even if Jason K comes at it from a different prospective) and their stressing of property rights uber alies.

        So how do we describe this? When something might not be evil in intent but we think it will be evil in effect.

        There are also plenty of times they might believe the same of me.

        Perhaps there is an honest and sincere belief that tax cuts will spur economic growth. Perhaps there is an honest and sincere belief that the welfare state hinders human potential and is a danger to liberty. But I consider both of the ideas to be very, very wrong. We have seen the Kansas tax disaster but the national Republicans seem absolutely committed to replaying the thing on a national scale? Why? What animates ramming through such a horrible and horribly unpopular bill? It defies all logic. I suppose the same could be said for the ACA. Maybe it is just true belief? Maybe they see the writing on the wall and are trying to do what they can before a November 2018 massacre that they feel they cannot stop?

        Also how much evidence do we need before declaring someone racist? In the mind of many liberals, Trump had a 40 plus year history of racist remarks and actions. He also had a full history of sexist remarks, making fun of the physically disabled on camera, and general cruelty. Surely this was a feature and not a bug of many Trump voters. Since Trump’s freak victory, I’ve seen many people say “I know people who voted for Trump and these Trump voters are not racist.” This includes Steven Horowitz who seems to be a respected economist and friend of Hanley and Jason K. But are these people in denial about their Trump voting friends? Or do we get to say “Okay. Maybe you aren’t racist but you were okay enough with holding your nose and voting for someone with 40 plus years of bigoted history on the record. Isn’t that kind of damning? Did you hate the welfare state so much that you couldn’t vote for HRC? Why couldn’t you do a protest vote for Johnson?” Actions have consequences including how you get seen and judged. It seems like lots of people want absolution for voting for the bigot.

        Or as we say on LGM, this is Murc’s Law, only Democrats have agency apparently.

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        • What’s the LGM/Balloon Juice name for the principle that “conservatism cannot fail, it can only be failed” (or, I presume, foiled)? Because I say that’s the explanation for why Republicans insist on taking the failure of Kansas national, and also the explanation for why subsidized health insurance backed up by an individual mandate was good when a Republican was its author and at its helm but bad when that person was a Democrat.

          I’m not sure if a critical mass of people on the more liberal side of things are guilty of this sort of fanaticism, and if so, to what degree. It’s harder to find fault with people who agree with you than it is people who disagree, but there surely must be some of this going on the other side. With that said, there’s a whole lot of it happening on the more conservative side of things — there’s a massive infrastructure of punditry and news-lensing out there to make sure that the preaching never ends.

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          • I’m not sure if a critical mass of people on the more liberal side of things are guilty of this sort of fanaticism, and if so, to what degree. It’s harder to find fault with people who agree with you than it is people who disagree, but there surely must be some of this going on the other side.

            No. Because there is a fundamental difference in how liberals and conservatives structure things.

            Liberals have actual stated goals they want accomplished (E.g., less financial inequality’), and then invent policies to implement it. (E.g, higher taxes on the wealthy) If they make those policies, and those goals are not reached via some failure in those policies, the movement will move on to new policies.

            Conservatives claim the same thing, but they actually have policies they want implemented (E.g., lower taxes), and retroactively make goals that these policies are supposedly for. (E.g., Freeeeeeedom!)

            This is because, as it has become clear, that the _actual_ goals they want are not things they want to state aloud. Republican politicians and donors want one secret set of goals, Republican voters want a few competing, often secret set of goals.

            The first we’ve known for a long time, as regardless of what is happening in the real world, Republican pols suggest tax cuts. The second is evidenced by the fact that a hell of a lot of Republicans voters were willing to discard all their pretend goals, (and a lot of their policies carefully designed to reach both the pretend goal and the secret donor goal) for someone who stated their real goals aloud.

            Because the stated goals of conservativism are just a coat of paint to justify the stated policies of conservativism, which actually exist to reach the various secret goals, conservativism failing to reach those stated goals will _never_ result in changed policies, and thus the excuse ‘Oh, that wasn’t really conservativism’ is needed.

            Whereas liberals will at some point go ‘Well, that’s not working, let’s try something else’. And, yes, individual people do get too attached to policies long after it is clear they are not working, but the movement _itself_ will move on to other solutions. People will offer competing solutions, and get elected on them, and implement them, and the old non-working stuff will die out.

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        • At some point, as with the American communists in the 1940s confronted with Stalin’s evil, the Never Trumpers are going to have to draw a vision of conservatism which cannot include Trump. Liberals can’t be their apologists and defenders.

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        • As someone who grew up Southern Babtist, I kind of see “evil” as one of those words that signals tribal membership and tribal loyalty rather than as one of those words that signals closeness to the contents of God’s thoughts.

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        • Human nature generally doesn’t want to see other humans as evil.

          I disagree. Tribalism is built around the idea that the other tribe is hostile and evil, and this is reflected in both our instincts and our political rhetoric.

          Naxis are evil. Racism is evil. Romney (and now Trump) was a Nazi because they’re in the other tribe. All Trump voters must be racists.

          The rhetoric speaks to our hearts exactly because it’s human nature to see other humans as evil… and it’s been so heavily over used that we should have long stopped trusting it.

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  4. What is happening is actually a bit worse because it is so insidious. There is a breaking of social norms; lines have been crossed that had never been crossed before. How Trump has acted might not destroy American democracy as we’ve known it, but it will weaken its foundations, in ways that will take years if not decades to fix.

    I disagree with the idea that this breaking of social norms started with Trump. Whatever the original origin (sic) :-) , Karl Rove (and Dick Cheney) gave us the “50% plus one vote” concept. We don’t need to cross the aisle. We don’t need to agree. We don’t need to govern considering, or even caring for, the minority views. We have the power.

    After that, came eight years of blind opposition to everything and anything (*]. If Michelle Obama recommended healthy food, the GOP was for Big Gulps. If only Obama had praised breathing Senator McConnel would have had his whole caucus holding their breaths.

    What we are seeing now is the continuation of a breakdown that has been going on bit by bit fit quite a long time. It’s just that, like erosion, the first pebbles moved away by rain are hard to notice. But give it enough time and mountain tops collapse before your very eyes.

    And maybe I’m partisan, but I don’t see both sides doing it. For sure both sides weren’t doing it in 2004, 2008 (**) or 2012.

    (*) I wonder if a portion of the GOP felt that the 2008 election itself was Democrats crossing social norms that had never been crossed before.

    (**) Unless (*), above, counts as BSDI

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    • Very much this. In this light, much of the conservative critique of Trump is essentially aesthetic. It’s not that what he is doing is substantially different from mainstream conservatism, but that he is personally vulgar while doing it, which in turn makes it harder to spin for the masses.

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    • Are you objecting to a conservative African-American writer pointing out in his own post that “Trump has made the GOP and conservatism toxic to people like me.”?

      If you see a well-developed paragraph on that topic as repetition of a mantra that “lots of people are simply sick of”, you may have priors whose expression – even sideways – aren’t welcome here.

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          • There’s a literal reading of this comment that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in context; and a sardonic one that follows on from your previous comment, is insulting to the writer of the OP, inaccurate (both about the OP and in general), and arguably racist. (And exactly what I meant by saying even sideways expressions of racism aren’t welcome here.)

            I tried real hard to give you the benefit of the former reading but I can’t manage it. You’re on notice. Say something like this again, and I’ll suspend you. And I won’t be giving you much benefit of the doubt.

            (@richard-hershberger, I appreciate your point – but when I’m engaged in moderating someone, it’s helpful if you don’t engage with their “arguments”.)

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            • “There’s a literal reading of this comment that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in context; and a sardonic one that follows on from your previous comment, is insulting to the writer of the OP, inaccurate (both about the OP and in general), and arguably racist.”

              It was, as you perceived, cynical. I would argue though, not inaccurate. To launch broad accusations of racism with no mention of aberrant cultural behaviors, is to propagate and perpetuate a lie, in my humble opinion. If you disagree, you can point out specific instances of “Trump’s treatment of persons of color” that target people based on their skin color.

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              • Engaging with me as if I’m continuing an argument when I’m actually moderating you is not going to be effective.

                There are ways to argue with this part of the OP that would be civil, they’re in evidence elsewhere on this comment section.

                Your line of argument is not civil, you didn’t drop it when told specifically that you were being moderated, not argued with, and you’re now suspended for one week.

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  5. If, as you acknowledge, the battle for the party is more of temperament than policy, how could this not prompt a rethinking of the entire conservative project?

    Dennis, it’s as if you and Eric Loomis are in harmony, that Trump is merely the essential conservative with the wrapper removed.

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  6. This is the wrong time to read this post. Don’t get me wrong- it’s intelligent, insightful, and I absolutely respect that you are hopeful for a reformed politics that benefits all of us.

    But most of the Republicans I know are hoping for that. Maybe I’m lucky- most of the conservatives in my family are horrified at Trump and Trumpism, and hoping we can return to more respectable forms of conservatism after him. And most of the Democrats I know are hoping for a wave that pushes back this wave and makes things better. I mean, I think we’re all hoping that the culture isn’t broken for good.

    Anyway, I just woke up to an old friend of mine from back home posting about a girl she went to school with at Madeira (it’s a very well-respected private school for girls) who went on to “advocate for seniors in her career” and live with her husband and daughter in Reston, Virginia. It’s a boring, boring, boring and respectable town in the suburban part of Virginia where I grew up. The biggest controversy there is traffic. Anyway, the woman and her husband were just shot and killed by the daughter’s boyfriend, who then shot himself. Things like this happen all the time, I guess. They had forbidden the daughter to be with the boy. Sort of a Romeo and Juliet thing. Love deranges us. Except, the thing is, it wasn’t because of his family, but because he was a Hitler lover and apparently wouldn’t give up his devotion to the ideas of goddamn Hitler for a girl.

    I’m hearing way too many stories like this lately. And it seems like the Democrats are fixated on “the 2018 sweep” and the Republicans are fixated on “conservatism after Trump”. And I keep thinking of these Lou Reed lyrics. “And I am the waterboy. The real game’s not over here. But my heart’s overflowing anyway.”

    Sort of gloomy thoughts for Christmas. I’m going to go visit my friends and have a few drinks and read the book I was reading on the Greeks and their philosophers and have Indian food with my girlfriend. Maybe watch Gremlins.

    Best wishes to everyone here!

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  7. The dustup between the Never Trumpers and the Trumpists can’t really be explained by conventional policy-based analysis.

    There isn’t a coherent policy divide between them, there aren’t any differences in their overall visions for society.It has nothing whatsoever to do with economic ideas, or any sense of how best to organize the mechanics of governance.

    What the right has transformed into, is a mood affiliation, an ethnic and cultural tribe. And yeah, this is why the analyses of fascism seem so apt.

    All the hallmarks are there, from the revanchism of MAGA, to the blood and soil nationalism, the love of theater and spectacle.

    Even the confusion of the old guard who seem puzzled and terrified, when they are not deluded into thinking they can rise above it.

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          • Ah the wondrous comfort of BSDI*. While I readily acknowledge that the left wing anti-fa, anti-free speech loons do exist I don’t see how they are, or have ever been in the last thirty years, any significant force or constituency on the political left in the US. You see their right wing counterparts electing party leaders and having the GOP’s movers and shakers line up to kiss their ring but the left wing fruitcakes say horrible stuff on twitter so both sides are the same.

            *A tonic of choice, especially, for libertarians who just last election discovered that the masses they always imagined wanted to join them in the gulch couldn’t care less about libertarian principles.

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            • @kazzy

              And it is an insidious problem. I can’t tell if the libertarians are being disingenuous or not but a quick study of American political history will tell you that the far left have never worked with the Democratic Party. However, the far right has always worked within the GOP or decided to take it over during the 20th century.

              Eugene Victor Debs, Norman Thomas, Ralph Nader, Jill Stein, anti-fa, were and are not part of the Democratic Party. A lot of farther leftists would consider me to be a neo-liberal shill and I am on the left of OT.

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              • I dunno, Saul, I’m pretty sure I’m considerably further to the left than you and I don’t consider you a shill. I might think you’re wrong oftentimes, but overall I think your heart is usually in the right place and I consider you an ally. But then, I’d say the same of Mike and Dennis, so maybe I’m just a weirdo as leftists go.

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          • This… makes no sense. I’m not asking which Democratic loon is the President right now. I’m asking which Democratic leaders are anti-free speech, members of anti-fa, or claim that those on the other sides are all Nazis. Can you name… one?

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      • I know you could, and probably even in good faith.

        Because Trump and Moore and the rest of that crowd don’t read as scary or dangerous to guys like us. Even the torch carrying Nazis can be viewed by guys like us with amused detachment.

        But some black clad antifa guy, a feminist college professor only calling on women, a black protester blocking the street…for guys like us, something like Glenn Reynold’s fearful murderous rage is a fairly common reaction.

        Even in the darkest days of Stalin or Hitler, there was a class of people who moved and spoke freely, who lived well and easily, who never, ever felt the brutal fist of the state.For them, the resistors to the state were frightening agents of chaos.

        So I can see how claims of “fascism” seem baffling to people who have never felt that fist.

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        • That’s cute considering people on the left think I should be “gotten rid of”, as has been said to me personally, because I’m a gun owner.

          That folks on the left have said that they “don’t understand how I can think like that” when I proffer a view opposing or different from their group think.

          That I’m not nervous when a cop pulls me over because I’m not black. Right.

          Nah, nothing to fear there. Tell me, are you not afraid of left and the right? Maybe not to the same degree? After all, it’s only one election away and all “the resistance” could be in power.

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  8. Having lived through the Never-Bush years and then the Never-Obama years, I find myself firmly in the Pragmatic camp. Even Trump may end up getting a few things right. Just like Obama did. It feels very much to me like the only way to stay in the game, and have a voice, is to be willing to acknowledge when the other party does something right. That attitude serves me well and my career and in my personal relationships.

    Do I think Trump is likely to do very much right? No. Do I hope with all of my being that he is removed from office sooner rather than later? Yes. But until then, I would rather have a seat at the table rather than watching from the front porch and shaking my fist at the world.

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  9. Excellent post Mr. Sanders, I lost track of how many sentences I wanted to highlight and say “that!” on.

    I think I’m of the “hurricane” group. Trump so far off the map socially that I don’t see how what he does can be duplicated. Further, I think after he leaves the GOP will be able to legitimately claim he wasn’t a normal politician and didn’t represent how they want to present themselves. He doesn’t represent a wing of the GOP so much as a primal scream…

    …and yes, mostly his governance is fine. Weirdly he’s abusing the social aspects of the Presidency but not the legal or mechanical aspects. The insanity of the President doesn’t extend past Twitter.

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    • Weirdly he’s abusing the social aspects of the Presidency but not the legal or mechanical aspects.

      Erm, I guess he’s not abusing the legal if you don’t count trying to stop an investigation into himself and people around him. (1)

      And you don’t count him pardoning someone found guilty of constitutional violations.

      And his dumbass executive immigration orders, although that was probably more ‘has no understanding of the boundaries of presidential power or how anything works’ than ‘abuse’.

      And it seems likely that he would have opened an investigation into Hillary Clinton email-ghazi again, if anyone at the Justice Department had been willing to do so on his direction…but they were not.

      …I’m not quite sure what threshold we’re using for ‘abuse’ here.

      1) And I am not going to get into whether or not it’s legally obstruction or not, as that isn’t important for either impeachment or this discussion…it’s clearly _abuse_ of his power, even if it is legal in some technical sense. (I don’t agree it is legal, but I’m tired of arguing that completely moot point.)

      And I am unsure what you mean by the mechanical power of the president. Taken literally, that would be president’s power to move objects around, but I suspect it’s not what you mean. (Unless the worry is that he’s stealing paintings and stuff from the White House. Which…no, he’s not.)

      If we, figuratively, consider his staffing powers as ‘mechanical’ (Aka, putting people into place), he is indeed pretty…abusive? Not really sure what abuse would be there, but he is making a lot of very very bad decisions, and I would arguing that nominating judges that are utterly unsuited to their job is ‘abusive’ of his nominating power.

      Or by mechanical, do you mean ‘day to day operation of the government’?

      Because it’s pretty hard for the president to misuse that, the president is fairly well insulated from any level of the government that interacts with people. Sometimes by law, like law enforcement, because we’ve had abuses in the past. Sometimes it’s just by the sheer size of the thing and that the president doesn’t have much ability to know the specifics of what any of it is doing.

      I mean, yes, he has not come up with some sort of enemies list and distributed it out for the government to attack…except possible Hillary Clinton. So…yay?

      Why do I have a feeling you are about to respond with the discredited IRS scandal, the supposed abuse of power scandal that resulted in…no results at all. If the president is going abuse his power by having the IRS go after people, the idea that he’d do it via _pattern matching_ on the titles _new_ organizations, (which have never accomplished anything and any half will fail anyway) by making it hard for them to get precleared as a charity, which no one has to do, is nonsense. There are really really obvious ways to abuse the IRS, like how Nixon did, where you audit your actual enemies. (And, in fact, there were allegations under both Clinton and Bush of politically motivated audits of political organizations. None of the claims really hold up.)

      Trump…appears to not have done that, from what we can tell. I guess? I’m not sure it would have happened yet…Trump didn’t nominate a new IRS head until the end of September.

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  10. I’d seen the Cooke article, but never having really read Rubin, I wasn’t sure how on-target it was (though his examples seemed pretty convincing). Frum’s response seemed not to really be addressing the meat of his argument.

    You’ve probably seen it already but Ponnuru had a piece in Bloomberg View a while back pointing out that among the Never-Trump set, pretty much the only thing they have in common is their opposition to Trump, which makes them pretty ineffective as a movement.

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  11. I don’t see any path for anti-Trump people on the right to affect any changes. ‘Never Trump’ was defeated in the Spring of 2016 – and then again in November 2016 – and there’s just no way they can regain political strength as long is Trump is President and the larger GOP is in control of Congress.

    To quote the man ‘Evacuate? In our moment of triumph?’

    No,what has to happen is a complete Hoover era level blowout wherein the new political fulcrum is between those that believe in collective economic & social structures and those that believe in classical/neo liberalism & atomized individual liberty.

    Kill the past; let the GOP die – and bring on the 7th Party System.

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    • “wherein the new political fulcrum is between those that believe in collective economic & social structures and those that believe in classical/neo liberalism & atomized individual liberty.”

      OOOOH, I could finally be a centrist!!!

      (Self-centered-ness aside, I really liked this comment and I wish I could believe that would happen.)

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      • I thought we were on the road to this in from 2006-2008 when the Democrats were steamrolling elections and then again in 2015-2016 when Trump took the corpse of the Republican party, skinned it, and wore it like a badly tailored suit.

        I haven’t been right on this prediction/preference yet. (but there’s always a first time)

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  12. As long as the right gets what it wants (right-wing judges, tax cuts, a belligerent foreign policy, etc.), it will not have a real problem with Trump. Part of it will be bothered that he’s a lying buffoon and a vile racist. Other parts won’t mind. Still other parts enjoy that. But no sizable fraction of it will do anything to stop the gravy train.

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    • The American public doesn’t do subtle, is the GOP’s problem. So, say, you cozy up to the buffoonish racist because he appoints your judges and signs your tax cuts. “They real conservatives know it’s just crap we ignore to get our judges and our tax cuts”. That does well and good for the true believers, the folks that will always vote for you anyways, but the mushy middle?

      The irregular votes, the new voters?

      They see a party cozying up with a buffoonish racist, unwilling to criticize said racist and buffoon over his racism and buffoonery, and come to the conclusion that, hey, the party is a party of buffoons and racists.

      That’s the GOP’s real problem with Trump — he’s the face of the party, and while “true conservatives” might say “Oh, but he doesn’t represent us, he doesn’t know the secret tax cut handshake, he’s just a useful idiot” — that’s not what everyone else thinks. Which includes not just Democrats, but all those other voters.

      Trump’s poll numbers really don’t help there — negative political capital is still political capital, and it works as expected. If you’re unpopular, people look for — and remember the most — the bad things about you. An unpopular President passes an unpopular tax bill, and the bulk of the public looks for the catch it knows must be there, not the reward.

      (Conversely, a popular one passing the same bill will have the public cheerful about the reward, and ignoring the catch)

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      • Trump’s poll numbers really don’t help there — negative political capital is still political capital, and it works as expected. If you’re unpopular, people look for — and remember the most — the bad things about you. An unpopular President passes an unpopular tax bill, and the bulk of the public looks for the catch it knows must be there, not the reward.

        Yup. We’ve officially reached negative political capital with the tax bill. We probably reached it sooner, but this bill proves it. I’m kinda proud, I exactly hypothesized exactly this happening right before Trump took office.

        The tax bill, looked at objectively, could actually be something the American public would halfway like in some other universe. We’ve already determined that they don’t care about deficits when Republicans are in power, and the bill itself generally is going to lower taxes on everyone at first, even if the amounts for the non-rich are really small, and that goes away soon.

        Under some other president, I can see a lot of the public believing the trickle-down nonsense, that the bill is designed to inject money into the economy, and that jobs will be created, and of course later Congresses will make the tax cuts permanent.

        Trump has negative political capital, however, which means people are not only not giving him the benefit of the doubt, but they’re giving him the anti-benefit of the doubt, assuming things are even worse than they actually are. Or, at least, assuming things are worse than they otherwise would have assumed…what things ‘actually are’ is a bit vague with politics, and I would argue that the American people should always have been outraged at bills like this. But the simple fact is that pre-Trump they really wouldn’t have been, at least not in such a bipartisan manner.

        Hey, remember when the Republicans decided to keep Trump around as long as he signed their stuff? Sorta looking like a really stupid decision now, isn’t it, if it’s going to make their stuff really unpopular.

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        • Hey, remember when the Republicans decided to keep Trump around as long as he signed their stuff? Sorta looking like a really stupid decision now, isn’t it, if it’s going to make their stuff really unpopular.

          With the alternative being throwing out a popular President legally elected to office for the “crime” of being Trump?

          Be very, VERY careful when you feel the need to throw out the law or to change the rules of the election after the election. That’s a nasty path to take the country down, a lot worse than Trump.

          The country will survive Trump, but I’m not sure we survive throwing out the concept of elections.

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          • With the alternative being throwing out a popular President legally elected to office for the “crime” of being Trump?

            As best I can tell, Trump has never polled above 50% as President. I’m not sure he ever polled at 50% even during his transition. There has never, as best I can recall, been a point where he had more of the country “approving” him than “disapproving”.

            So exactly how is he a “popular President”? His approval rating is currently hovering around 35% or lower.

            And then, of course, who exactly is asking to throw out the law or change the rules of an election here? And how are they suggesting doing this?

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            • You’re taking too broad a view of “popular” and including the Dems when what we’re talking about is what the GOP was supposed to do. They, more or less as a whole although hardly with unity, actively tried to prevent him from getting the nod.

              After he won the election he most certainly was “popular” to the GOP voters, i.e. the same people who put the GOP in charge of deciding what to do about Trump. And then we also have to take into account that Trump over-punches the polls.

              The voters disapprove of him… but that’s not the same thing as being unwilling to vote for him.

              The bottom line is he’s legitimate. The GOP approves of him way more than they do of HRC, so before we think the GOP should have overturned the election (somehow), we really should wonder what else they’d do with that ability.

              [b]RE: And how are they suggesting doing this?[/b]

              That, exactly.

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          • With the alternative being throwing out a popular President legally elected to office for the “crime” of being Trump?

            No, but there is immediately opening up serious investigations into the actual problems of the administration, instead of what is going on now, which really just look like excuse-making committees.

            Hell, they probably could have just passed, before he took office, a joint resolution saying ‘He has to divest of his overseas property and his Washington hotel (Which he’s in violation of the contract of anyway.) within six months of taking office, or we will start impeachment proceedings on the ground of emoluments’, and watch him quit.

            Or they could have impeached him after firing Comey and him admitting he did it to stop the investigation. And, as I’ve said elsewhere, I won’t enter an argument about whether that is legally obstruction of justice…the president trying to stop an investigation into himself by using his position is a blatant abuse of power _even if_ technically no one’s bothered to outlaw it, and exactly what impeachment is for.

            There has basically never been a president this impeachable in the entire history of the Republic, and, yes, I include Nixon, who basically did exactly the same thing as Trump…except that’s all he did, whereas Trump piled on a bunch of other impeachable things.

            It is a political decision the Republicans in Congress have made to not start impeachment. They made that decisions because they wanted him in office to sign their stuff.

            This has, like I said, rather backfired on them. Yes, they might, technically, get a few things signed into law, but Trump’s negative political capital has rubbed off on them and those things are so unpopular that not only are they seriously risking being booted from power, but having all their now-extremely unpopular stuff undone when the Democrats get in power.

            Of course, there’s another theory that all the Republicans have already seen the writing on the wall, and are passing all this stuff with the expectation they will be voted out and it will be repealed, but as they are going to be voted out anyway, they’re passing this stuff so they can get more cushy lobbying jobs. Look, they were team players! They passed huge corporate tax cuts! (Which were repealed after they were voted out, but that’s not their fault.) Give them globs of money to lobby, corporations!

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            • Funny thing is, if the Republican Congress had impeached Trump at the beginning of his mandate, they would have had President Pence, who would have been even more willing than Trump to sign off on Obamacare repeal, tax cuts, and the whole standard Republican package (some of which Trump run against)

              The reason the GOP didn’t go this route was not because they were counting on Trump to sign the same pieces of paper Pence has happy to sign, but that the Republican leadership believes (probably correctly) that they have lost control of the base, and that they’d rather face the backlash of the voters in the General than the rebellion in the primaries

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            • , a joint resolution saying ‘He has to divest of his overseas property and his Washington hotel (Which he’s in violation of the contract of anyway.) within six months of taking office, or we will start impeachment proceedings on the ground of emoluments’…

              True. The resolution could say something like, “While HRC’s two billion dollar charity is technically legal, and technically not a money laundering scheme, Trump’s four billion dollar hotel empire is technically illegal because of its money laundering potential. Further there’s no way Congress could oversee that empire (no, you’re not allowed to review all of the charity’s emails or activities, those are private).”

              This has the advantage of being correct… assuming the GOP Congress claims they “haven’t been informed” of Trump’s empire’s existence to trigger the emoluments clause.

              Sounds like a fun conversation even without Trump inflaming and misrepresenting everything every step of the way.

              There has basically never been a president this impeachable in the entire history of the Republic,

              Thus the special prosecutor, but these things move slowly.

              I read an article which pointed out whenever something bad happens to the Trump administration, Pence is always out of town. He’s attending his son’s wedding or whatever, safely not involved and not involvable.

              Pence is never pushed into whatever slime pit of the day is going on. He’s also never put into a situation where he might act against Trump or vise versa. Everyone has decided to keep their hands off him.

              Everyone knows everything you’ve said about Trump. Lots of people agree.

              The problem isn’t they “want him to sign stuff” (President Pence would do that). The problem is Trump really did win the election, he really is President, and the people’s pick, and the system was deliberately set up to make getting rid of the President hard and painful.

              Trump is the people’s choice, he deserves a fair chance, maybe even a mulligan for some of the early “out of ignorance of how the office works” events.

              But yeah, he’s expected to burn out, and the process for getting rid of him has already started… assuming the special prosecutor finds something other than “HRC corrupted the previous administration and set him up”.

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              • True. The resolution could say something like, “While HRC’s two billion dollar charity is technically legal, and technically not a money laundering scheme,

                Pssst….the Clinton Foundation is not worth two billion…in fact, being a charity, it’s not really worth anything as it cannot be purchased and if dissolved it has to donate all assets to a comparable charity, but even if we pretend it could somehow be sold, it is not worth two billion. It has only ever collected two billion in its entire lifetime.

                But, more importantly: You just never seem to understand that the Clinton Foundation is, as you have described it, an influence peddling scheme that is _less_ objectionable than all the dark money PACs wandering around that are funneling support to politicians, or campaign contributions. That the absolute literal worst case is ‘people donating money to the Clinton Foundation, which then used that for charitable works, thus boasting her image, and in return the people donating get a quid quo pro from that’, which is not anywhere near as bad as what is openly allowed under campaign finance laws.

                You have decided to take the worst possible interpretation of the Clinton Foundation, the absolutely worst thing it could be doing, and have decided that not only was it doing that, which it’s not but I’m tired of arguing about, but you have failed to notice that such a thing is completely allowed by current campaign law for political action committees! That she could have, literally, done all that in the open, with an explicitly political organization called the ‘Clinton PAC’ or something.

                Granted, such a thing would have been trickier before Citizens United in 2010, the PAC wouldn’t be allowed to directly promote her as a candidate. But everyone else got around the rule by running ‘issue ads’ that were very specifically targeted on opponents. And then, Citizens United happened, and her friends could have set up a SuperPAC that is allowed to directly promote her as a candidate as long as she doesn’t tell them what to do. Oh, and let’s not forget actual campaign contributions.

                All that is entirely legal.

                If your level of corruption is ‘People can freely spend money making a politician look good, thus being able to legally bribe politicians without ever actually giving them money.’, you have literally indicted the entire political class. The fact you keep harping on this as absolute proof the Clintons are corrupt is completely insane, especially since, as a charity, the Clinton Foundation did not particularly exist to promote the Clintons, and is not really allowed to do that, and, well, didn’t.

                Your point that ‘The Clinton Foundation has her name on it and people thought good things about her when it did good things, so people donating to it were really helping her, and she knew it.’. is, perhaps, in some other universe, a universe where politics had absolutely no money in it, a legitimate point that some microscopic level of influence peddling could happen.

                But in this universe, we live in an ocean of influence peddling, where people can secretly buy ads (Or, rather, secretly donate to organizations that buy ads.) to promote politicians that do things they like, and also, least we forget, directly donate to their campaign…and somehow all that is fine! The hypothetical influencing peddling scheme you have invented is an eyedropper in that ocean. It is nonsense.

                And you want to assert that Hillary Clinton should had to step away from the Clinton Foundation before taking office, I’m all for that…well, except for the damn obvious point she already stepped away from it when she was Secretary of State and has no position in it at all.

                Trump’s four billion dollar hotel empire is technically illegal because of its money laundering potential. Further there’s no way Congress could oversee that empire (no, you’re not allowed to review all of the charity’s emails or activities, those are private).”

                I did not say Trump’s four billion dollar hotel empire was ‘legal’. [Edit: illegal, I mean. It is not illegal.] I said it was grounds for impeachment under the emoluments clause.

                Or, more technically, I argue that Congress, due to the emoluments clause, has the right to make rules and regulations about what sort of foreign income a President can accept(1), and a four billion dollar multinational hotel empire that already had several public examples of diplomats saying they would stay at Trump’s hotel to curry favor with him(2) pretty clearly indicated that then needed to make some really specific rules, instead of just letting him shrug and say ‘Hey, my kids are running it, but I’ll keep owning it.’

                The needed rules would probably impact his business very badly, which I suspect would mean he would resign or refuse to do them (Thus needing impeachment), but that’s why you don’t run to be the damn president if you aren’t willing to do what is required to be in office.

                1) Actually, as they make the rules about what people can be impeached for, they basically have the right to make rules about any sort of income at all. The emolument clauses says they are supposed to do it for emoluments from foreign governments, and are not to allow any emoluments at all from domestic governments, but Congress is basically the referee in their own game and can do whatever they want.

                Hell, if they have enough to impeach the president over a behavior, they have enough to pass a law about that behavior over his signature, and then he has legitimately broken the law and there’s no question about ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’…well, if he keeps doing the behavior, I guess. While it is not legal to make laws that only applies to a specific person by name (It’s a writ of attainder), it is perfectly legal to make a law that only applies to whoever holds the office of ‘The President’.

                2) Which sounds crazy to us that they would just say that, basically admitting to what we think of as bribery, but people need to realize our emoluments clause is pretty unique to the US and other countries traditionally give gifts to heads of states, and do not really understand our rules, as evidenced by all the personal gifts US presidents have gotten over the centuries and then had to give up. They just come out and say ‘I am staying in the President’s hotel because he’s going to like that and be more likely to agree with me’, which is literally the purpose of the emoluments clause.

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                • You just never seem to understand that the Clinton Foundation is, as you have described it, an influence peddling scheme that is _less_ objectionable than all the dark money PACs wandering around that are funneling support to politicians, or campaign contributions.

                  Campaign contributions don’t normally have to be measured in hundreds of millions.

                  The fact you keep harping on this as absolute proof the Clintons are corrupt is completely insane…

                  The donations dried up the moment she lost power. We’ve got that quote from Jimmy Carter saying there’s clearly a connection between the money they’re given and their political activities.

                  she already stepped away from it when she was Secretary of State and has no position in it at all.

                  If memory serves, although she promised she’d do that she didn’t actually. But in any case you’re claiming that HRC’s wallet is different than Bill’s wallet, which brings up the point that his bill rate went up a lot when she became SoS.

                  …entirely legal…

                  I wasn’t being sarcastic when I said what she did was legal. History shows HRC keeps within her ethical standard of “not convictable in a court of law” so I’m sure it was either technically legal or so difficult to prove that she can’t be convicted.

                  instead of just letting him shrug and say ‘Hey, my kids are running it, but I’ll keep owning it.’

                  That argument sounds familiar. Oh I know, “Hey, my husband is running it. I have no connection to it at all.”

                  I said it was grounds for impeachment under the emoluments clause.

                  Exactly. She gets a total pass on her activities, even if smelly, because she’s a lawyer and set up her “charity” to be technically legal. He on the other hand is Trump, his empire wasn’t set up to dance around the letter of the law, it was set up to make money without political influence.

                  Personally I’m a lot more concerned about “seeking favor” by handing 9 digits of money to a “charity” held “at arm’s length” because it’s run by someone’s spouse than I am over the idea that Trump is reviewing every person who rents a room in one of his hotels somewhere in the world.

                  However, big picture, that “charity” wouldn’t exist (at least on that scale) without their political power. Trump’s empire clearly would exist without his political power. Regardless of the letter of the law, imho his issues on the front are FAR less than hers and I don’t see how to creditably make this case to the American people.

                  That’s before the whole problem that the letter of the law for “emoluments” doesn’t say “don’t have them”, it says “tell Congress when you have them”.

                  You’re making an argument that Congress has the ability to impeach Trump. That’s fine, but this is a really weak way to do it.
                  It’s a “Trump-only” letter of the law which most people aren’t going to understand, and IMHO you’re openly giving HRC a pass on far worse behavior (yes, I know it was legal).

                  You’d have a stronger argument for Trump’s sexual harassment, racism, insanity, and general conduct unbecoming being grounds for impeachment. And all of those are imho bigger problems for the country than him renting hotel rooms.

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                  • If memory serves, although she promised she’d do that she didn’t actually. But in any case you’re claiming that HRC’s wallet is different than Bill’s wallet, which brings up the point that his bill rate went up a lot when she became SoS.

                    Uh, what?

                    What the heck does his wallet have to do with anything? We’re talking about a non-profit.

                    You want to argue that the paid speeches are unacceptable, that is a completely unrelated matter.

                    That argument sounds familiar. Oh I know, “Hey, my husband is running it. I have no connection to it at all.”

                    Pssst….neither Hillary nor Bill (Or even Chelsea) Clinton have ever run the Clinton Foundation.

                    Exactly. She gets a total pass on her activities, even if smelly, because she’s a lawyer and set up her “charity” to be technically legal.

                    You keep putting charity in quotes.

                    You understand that it is, in fact, an actual charity, and that none of the Clintons have ever made a dime from it, right?

                    I mean, you seemed to have understood this point before, because you then talk about how it exists to make them ‘look good’, and people donate money to it for it to spend to get the Clinton’s PR…

                    …and then you just sorta forget all that and start asserting it’s not a real charity, and exists to line their pockets. Over and over.

                    The Clinton Foundation, again, literally has never given any money to the Clintons. (Now, it has occasionally flow the one of Clintons somewhere and put them up at its expense so they can give a speech _for_ the charity, with the proceeds going to the Clinton Foundation, but it’s pretty easy to do the math on that and notice they’ve given way more to the charity than any amount of ‘free trips’ they’ve gotten out of it.)

                    However, big picture, that “charity” wouldn’t exist (at least on that scale) without their political power.

                    Yes, the giant charitable organization that helps a hell of a lot of people would not exist without their political power.

                    But, then again, you can’t seem to remember that you’ve have already agreed with me in the past that it’s a real charity that does a lot of good, and the problem is, you claim, that people donate to it so the Clintons can get free PR from their donation.

                    I’m really not going to keep arguing that with you, keep reminding you ‘They are not taking money from it’ and then you go to ‘Oh, but they’re getting good press’ literally every time you bring it up.

                    That’s before the whole problem that the letter of the law for “emoluments” doesn’t say “don’t have them”, it says “tell Congress when you have them”.

                    That is not what it says.

                    “No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.”

                    You are trying to read that as ‘they may accept those things unless Congress does not consent’.

                    But that is not what it says it at all, it says ‘they shall not accept those things unless Congress does consent’, which rather implies until Congress consents, he is disallowed from accepting those things.

                    Congress ‘not doing something’ cannot be the basis of legality. Well, not when that ‘not doing something’ has no time limit, and the act of acceptance is instantaneous.(1) ‘You shall not do something at this moment unless something else eventually objects later!’ Huh?

                    Under your logic, the president is offered something, Congress has not objected to that offer because the offer literally just happened, so he can accept the thing, and now he’s got the thing. (There’s nothing about retroactively having to give it away later.) The ‘shall not’ cannot possibly come into effect, and the entire clause is stupid and pointless. And thus that interpretation cannot be correct.

                    Edit: Actually, that can’t be right anyway. Congress has no right at all to _reject_ an emolument. That is not a thing they can do. It is simply not there. They can consent to it, or they can…say nothing. So the entire interpretation is even stupider. Within the bounds of that clause, there is nothing Congress can do to say ‘The President is not allowed to accept that thing’.

                    The emoluments clause clearly should be read as the president ‘shall not’ accept an emoluments or a titles of nobility _until_ Congress says ‘Yes’. (Assuming they do say yes.)

                    1) Actually, someone ‘not doing something’ can, indeed, be a basis for a constitutional action…for example, if the president fails to sign or veto legislation in a certain time, things happen. But you will notice a very specific time limit on all those things. And the constitution could have, indeed, said ‘The President can accept these things after 30 days unless Congress objects within that time…’ or something. But it does not say anything close to that.

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                    • You understand that it is, in fact, an actual charity, and that none of the Clintons have ever made a dime from it, right?

                      Yes, but that’s irrelevant. TCF’s purpose isn’t to line the Clintons’ pockets, it’s to expand their political power. It does the “power and influence” stuff that we typically see from Billionaires. It funds leftist causes. It’s also a parking spot for Clinton loyalists who are between insider jobs.

                      people donate money to it for it to spend to get the Clinton’s PR…

                      No, people give money to it to get on or stay on the Clintons’ good side. One of the criticisms before HRC decided she really was going to run for President was how secretive TCF was about it’s donors. Blackwater, even when they’re not killing people, is hardly known for its humanitarian efforts.

                      Further, the international donations dried up the moment the Clintons lost power. Why did Blackwater (etc) only care about “PR” when the Clintons were in power? How about the Saudis and the Russians? Why can’t TCF still get 9 digit “donations” from companies that more typically never give anyone anything?

                      I don’t see any non-corrupt reasons. The obvious answer is although the PR value didn’t go down, the political influence they’d be purchasing did.

                      But that is not what it says it at all, it says ‘they shall not accept those things unless Congress does consent’, which rather implies until Congress consents, he is disallowed from accepting those things.

                      Congress has had lots of opportunity to withhold their approval. If we seriously need a piece of paper with their sign off then it’d be trivial to get one with the current Congressional makeup. But my expectation is something along those lines happened during the transition. We don’t hear the Dem political leadership talk about using this method to remove him.

                      This line of thought seems the equiv of those anti-tax guys who claim the IRS is unconstitutional.

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                      • No, people give money to it to get on or stay on the Clintons’ good side.

                        It is literally 100% legal for someone to blatantly say ‘If you want to stay on my good side, you have to donate to the charity I support’. 100% legal.

                        You keep trying to assert corruption while missing the actual corruption part of it. She has to do something in a corrupt manner. It has to, in some manner, impact actual duties of the office.

                        Here, have a Wikipedia: Corruption is a form of dishonest or unethical conduct by a person entrusted with a position of authority, often to acquire personal benefit.

                        It can be the first part without the second (For example, done out of spite), but isn’t corruption with just the second clause. You are basically trying to assert that someone doing an action for personal benefit is corruption by itself, without it involving their office at all. This is absurd. People are allowed to do things that other people like, or things for other people, or things that make other people look good. All those things are…not just legal, but completely ethical. This isn’t some weird technicality of the law. For it to be corruption, she _has to alter her official behavior_.

                        Yes, but that’s irrelevant. TCF’s purpose isn’t to line the Clintons’ pockets, it’s to expand their political power. It does the “power and influence” stuff that we typically see from Billionaires. It funds leftist causes. It’s also a parking spot for Clinton loyalists who are between insider jobs.

                        And that is unethical in what way exactly?

                        You started off pretending Trump’s businesses and the Clinton Foundation were identical, that they were both corrupt, but Clinton’s was legal corruption and Trump doesn’t know laws exist.

                        But here the starting sanity check: All politicians are allowed, right now, to accept campaign contributions up to a certain level. That’s literally the baseline. Clinton herself does this. Additionally, politicians can give paid speeches, or get promised lobbyist positions, all sorts of things that can, in theory, influence their behavior.

                        It is possible to argue the baseline is unethical, it is even possibly to argue that even less corrupt behavior is unethical.

                        But it is completely absurd to complain about political things that do not reach the ‘legal and accepted’ amount of corruption that all politicians can do.

                        What Clinton is _hypothetically_ doing with the Clinton Foundation is much less corrupt than that baseline. Campaign contributions get used for all sorts of personal things, and even when not, are literally replacing money the candidate would have to spend. That’s not how charities work. And, again, none of the Clintons run the Clinton Foundation.

                        So basically you’re already at one step removed from corruption on the ‘accepting money’ end, in that it’s not clear that she really did benefit…and no, just asserting it was PR is not how it works. The Clinton Foundation has never been a very visible charity. You can’t just vaguely wave your hands and assert donations to it helped her…

                        …but that’s not really important, because you don’t even seem to notice that, in the case of political corruption, the concept of ‘corruption’ requires misusing the office for the person whowants something. And we have no evidence of that.

                        Basically, you are asserting that Donald Trump is running up and down the street smashing windows with a baseball bat and stealing stuff from cars….and that Hillary Clinton only decided to be a volunteer crossing guard because she thinks people will like her better for that, and not from any noble intentions, and that her friends paid for her purse. Those are not equivalent things. Those aren’t even measurable against each other.

                        The problem is not that ‘operating a charity for PR reasons’ is ‘technically legal’, and Trump’s business ‘technically isn’t’. The problem is that the second is clearly actual corruption where the president does acts in an official capacity that blatantly benefit…well, him, actually. Which isn’t even what we’re talking about in normal political corruption, where two people basically _secretly_ trade benefits, usually cash towards the pol, and something wanted in the other direction. But Trump doesn’t bother with such nonsense, he just openly does stuff for himself, then tells everyone.

                        Hillary Clinton, who is not insane, would presumable be doing the normal sort of political corruption, which would be someone manages to get money to her, and she does them a favor. The problem is that one has ever managed to figure out the vitally important second part of that, even and the first part is pretty damn dubious WRT the Clinton Foundation. The Clinton Foundation is not her personal property, in fact, it’s not even her personal _charity_, the Clintons have a normal ‘rich person personal charity that they can give money to any time for a tax write-off’.

                        But even if you can do that, if you can show she somehow benefits from people donating to a specific charity because it has her name on it, you them have to to point to something and say ‘This donation caused her to…’ or ‘She was given that in exchange for…’

                        No, people give money to it to get on or stay on the Clintons’ good side. One of the criticisms before HRC decided she really was going to run for President was how secretive TCF was about it’s donors. Blackwater, even when they’re not killing people, is hardly known for its humanitarian efforts.

                        There is an obvious reason Blackwater no longer gives to the Clinton Foundation. The founder of Blackwater is really close to Trump, his sister-in-law is Secretary of Education, and Trump is very anti-Clinton and probably would not approve of any donations.

                        Further, the international donations dried up the moment the Clintons lost power. Why did Blackwater (etc) only care about “PR” when the Clintons were in power? How about the Saudis and the Russians? Why can’t TCF still get 9 digit “donations” from companies that more typically never give anyone anything?

                        The donations did not stop when the ‘Clintons lost power’.

                        The donations first steeply dropped in 2015 when the Clinton Foundation became a political issue. The timeframe is exactly wrong for your claim, because the donation slowed _as she ran for office_, and continued to drop even as everyone thought she’d be the next president.

                        Congress has had lots of opportunity to withhold their approval. If we seriously need a piece of paper with their sign off then it’d be trivial to get one with the current Congressional makeup. But my expectation is something along those lines happened during the transition. We don’t hear the Dem political leadership talk about using this method to remove him.

                        Yes, we do. Violations of the emoluments clause was one of the claims on the articles of impeachment recently introduced.

                        Granted, the obstruction of justice thing ranked higher, but it was there.

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                        • It is literally 100% legal for someone to blatantly say ‘If you want to stay on my good side, you have to donate to the charity I support’. 100% legal.

                          “the charity I support which has my name and is run by my husband and our minions for my political benefit”.

                          Legal perhaps but slimy as all hell.

                          It has to, in some manner, impact actual duties of the office.

                          The Secretary of State is giving the appearance that if you want access to her you need to give money to the “charity” which is run by her husband for her political benefit.

                          That appearance might be the reality. People as far left as Jimmy Carter have pointed out there’s clearly a link between the money she’s given and the political actions taken by her family. IMHO it’s fair to look at this and think there’s a problem much larger than renting hotel rooms.

                          But here the starting sanity check: All politicians are allowed, right now, to accept campaign contributions up to a certain level.

                          That “certain level” isn’t Billions of dollars and they can’t accept hundreds of millions of dollars from a single source.

                          The donations did not stop when the ‘Clintons lost power’.

                          …But as soon as Clinton lost the election, many of the criticisms directed toward the Clinton Foundation were reaffirmed. Foreign governments began pulling out of annual donations, signaling the organization’s clout was predicated on donor access to the Clintons, rather than its philanthropic work. In November, the Australian government confirmed it “has not renewed any of its partnerships with the scandal-plagued Clinton Foundation, effectively ending 10 years of taxpayer-funded contributions worth more than $88 million.” The government of Norway also drastically reduced their annual donations, which reached $20 million a year in 2015.

                          …The main office of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City would be closing, laying off 22 employees. The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) “offers protection to workers, their families and communities by requiring employers to provide notice 60 days in advance of covered plant closings and covered mass layoffs. This notice must be provided to either affected workers or their representatives (e.g., a labor union); to the State dislocated worker unit; and to the appropriate unit of local government.” The reason for the filing was stated as the “discontinuation of the Clinton Global Initiative,” after CGI previously announced layoffs leading up to the general election.

                          http://observer.com/2017/01/the-clinton-foundation-shuts-down-clinton-global-initiative/

                          The timing is damning, and so is the fact that CGI needs to be closed down at all now. Shutting it down if she’d won would have made ethical sense, but what’s the supposed problem now that she’s lost if there were some purpose to the “charity” other than pleasing the Clintons?

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                          • People as far left as Jimmy Carter have pointed out there’s clearly a link between the money she’s given and the political actions taken by her family.

                            Weird how you can keep saying ‘people have said there is clearly a link’, and yet be unable to cite any examples of such a link. (BTW, Jimmy Carter is not actually very ‘far left’)

                            But as soon as Clinton lost the election, many of the criticisms directed toward the Clinton Foundation were reaffirmed. Foreign governments began pulling out of annual donations, signaling the organization’s clout was predicated on donor access to the Clintons, rather than its philanthropic work. In November, the Australian government confirmed it “has not renewed any of its partnerships with the scandal-plagued Clinton Foundation, effectively ending 10 years of taxpayer-funded contributions worth more than $88 million.” The government of Norway also drastically reduced their annual donations, which reached $20 million a year in 2015.

                            To recap what that article just actually described:

                            a) It cites an November article in which the Australian government confirmed that it had _already_ failed to renew partnerships with the Clinton Foundations, which means it already did that before the election. That article came out November 28 2016, which in turn cites a Nov 23 article, and the government had already ‘failed to renew’, so unless the theory is that all the (Presumably year-long) agreements happened to expire between November 10 and November 23, and that the Australian government turned on a dime and quickly moved to not renew them, what _actually_ happened was that Australia failed to renew them as Clinton was frontrunner to become president, not after she lost the election.

                            b) Norway’s highest level of contributions were in 2015, or, to rephrase, they started reducing them in 2016. Again, at the exact time she was assumed to be the next president of the United States. (1)

                            In fact, there’s a huge amount of total gibberish articles published literally that November after the election saying ‘Oh, now that Clinton has lost, donations to the Clinton Foundation have been cut back! It was all just a scam.’…and those articles are citing a combination of of public information from _2015_ for the personal donations (As obviously no charity releases information that fast) and also asking governments, who of course have huge lead times and responded ‘Yeah, we already stopped or reduced donations to them’, or at least that’s the quote that made it into the article.

                            Governments have entire processes to go though to decide what charities they support, and they can’t just stop supporting a charity in three weeks, at least not without the legislature stepping in with public hearings that would have made the news. And I suspect the actual response from Australia was ‘We stopped donating to them last year when they became controversial’, and the article just cherry-picked whatever part of the statement that didn’t include the time or reason. (Which could have fooled most people if those articles had come out a year later, but fail when they come out almost immediately after the election and it’s clear any decisions had to have been made prior to that.)

                            And these utterly dishonest articles never seem to notice ‘Wait, doesn’t the fact that the donations were reduced before the election that she was assumed to be the winner of invalidate our entire damn point?’. Governments and wealthy people all over the world: ‘Oh, hey, she’s about to become president instead of a private citizen, time to stop buying access.’

                            If we operate in the real world, where charity decisions take months to wind themselves through governments, there is a pretty clear pattern:

                            Charitable contributions to the Clinton Foundations ramped themselves up in, roughly, 2013 or so. That’s what Norway’s did, at least. This is immediately _after_ Hillary Clinton left Sec of State. They rose until 2015, and then stopped. And what happened in 2015? Clinton declared she was running for president in April.

                            If there is any correlation between charitable contributions to the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton’s current or perceived-in-the-future political value, it is literally a negative one. Now, correlation does not equal causality, and I don’t think the ramping up had anything to do with anything, and I think the reduced donations were due to controversy, but the correlation is exactly the opposite of what you insist on implying.

                            As for now? That article is making a lot out of the fact it is closing a single office. In reality, the Clinton Foundation is completely restructuring right now, including changing their name and separating out parts of it.

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                            • Reminds me about the screaming about the Victory Fund. Do you know Clinton raised all this money, supposedly for “state races” then sat on it?

                              Well…if you look at the dates of those articles, she was sitting on all that cash during the primaries. None of it had been distributed to states before the convention. Why? Because she was a primary candidate! Had she distributed the money, she’d have been accused of bribing state officials or super-delegates or otherwise trying to sway the primary process.

                              Once she was candidate, the money flowed out — not that people noticed, because it wasn’t a story anymore. Who bothered to report on it? Dog bites man story, at that point.

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  13. Also:

    Rubin is a hack.
    Rubin is a Never-Trumper.
    Therefore, Never-Trumpers are hacks.

    wouldn’t fool anyone who’s not eager to be fooled.

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