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Fri Oct 12, 2018, 07:59 PM

Friday Talking Points -- "Civil" War

There's a debate going on right now among the chattering classes in Washington over whether Democrats should be "civil" or, alternatively, whether they should "kick" back at their opponents. No, really. The hilariousness of such a genteel debate seems to have escaped everyone engaging in it, apparently. Because it is pretty funny, when you consider the actual facts. Which show that Republicans completely abandoned civility altogether, right about the same time they started supporting Donald Trump -- and things have (if it's even possible) now gotten even worse in the midterm campaigns. So all they're really doing is attempting to hold Democrats to a standard they don't even pretend to hew to themselves anymore (after decades of being the moralizing, finger-wagging party, it bears mentioning).

The entire debate, if you can even call it that, began when Hillary Clinton showed more backbone than she ever did during her presidential campaign. In an interview with Christiane Amanpour, Clinton said:

You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about. That's why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and or the Senate, that's when civility can start again. But until then, the only thing that the Republicans seem to recognize and respect is strength.

Which is pretty undeniable, on the face of it. Clinton went on to relate her own personal experience:

I remember what they did to me for 25 years -- the falsehoods, the lies, which unfortunately people believe because the Republicans have put a lot of time, money, and effort in promoting them. So when you're dealing with an ideological party that is driven by the lust for power, that is funded by corporate interests who want a government that does its bidding, it's -- you can be civil, but you can't overcome what they intend to do unless you win elections.

As we said, if she had sounded a little more like this (especially that bit about "funded by corporate interests" ) in 2016, we could all be in a very different place right now.

Conservatives erupted in a paroxysm of pearl-clutching. This reached epidemic proportions after Eric Holder weighed in with his own twist on the Michelle Obama line "When they go low, we go high":

No, no -- when they go low, we kick 'em. Thatís what this new Democratic Party is about.

Of course, being a Democrat, Holder immediately clarified that he was speaking metaphorically:

When I say we, you know, "We kick 'em," I don't mean we do anything inappropriate. We don't do anything illegal. But we got to be tough, and we have to fight for the very things that {civil rights leaders} John Lewis, Martin Luther King, Whitney Young -- you know, all those folks gave to us.

Now, this feeds into the current fearmongering from Republicans, that Democrats are nothing short of an angry mob and will destroy civilization as we know it should they regain power in Washington. So it was big news on the right.

But the GOP dithering about civility is truly laughable, because they simply have no leg to stand on anymore in this regard. Consider the following stories from just last week alone, if you require proof.

Donald Trump refused to cancel a political rally while the third-worst hurricane in American history slammed the Florida coast. He's doing a number of other rallies this weekend, as well. So much for presidents "feeling your pain," eh?

Trump refuses to say anything negative about Saudi Arabia after his own intelligence service reported that Washington Post correspondent Jamal Khashoggi was not only murdered but actually dismembered inside the Saudi embassy in Turkey. Trump explained his lack of concern thusly: "It's in Turkey, and it's not a citizen, as I understand it. But a thing like that shouldn't happen." Got that? "It" is not a citizen. Khashoggi is actually a U.S. legal resident, which apparently doesn't carry any weight with Trump.

Trump wrote an opinion piece for USA Today this week that, by its proper name, is nothing short of propaganda. In it, Trump laughably accuses Democrats of wanting to do exactly what Republicans have been trying to do for years -- destroy Medicare. Joseph Goebbels would have been proud to read this article, since it was so chock-full of Big Lies.

Out on the campaign trail, Scott Wagner, the Republican running against Democratic incumbent Tom Wolf for governor of Pennsylvania, posted a video on Facebook with a warning: "Governor Wolf, let me tell you, between now and November 6, you better put a catcher's mask on your face because I'm going to stomp all over your face with golf spikes." How wonderfully civil of him!

Outreach to women voters (part 1): Senator Lindsey Graham said this week, of the Kavanaugh/Ford hearings: "I think the roles were reversed: the slut/whore/drunk was Kavanaugh."

Outreach to women voters (part 2): A Minnesota Republican state representative, in a debate with his Democratic opponent, snatched her microphone away, mansplained for a while, and then threw it back at her where it landed with a clunk.

Minority outreach (part 1): Trump's head of the E.P.A. has been busy on social media, "liking" a photo of Barack and Michelle Obama gazing at a banana and retweeting the conspiracy theorists behind "Pizzagate."

Minority outreach (part 2): Kansas Republican Michael Kalny was forced to resign as a precinct chairman this week, after he attacked Democratic House candidate Sharice Davids, who is both openly gay and a Native American, using terms that could hardly be called civil (Davids is running against incumbent Kevin Yoder): "You and your comrades {sic} stealth attack on Yoder is going to blow up in your leftist face. The REAL REPUBLICANS will remember what the scum DEMONRATS tried to do to Kavanaugh in November. Your radical socialist kickboxing lesbian Indian will be sent backpacking to the reservation."

Minority outreach (part 3): The Trump administration is reportedly now trying to dream up new, ever-more-creative ways to separate families from their children at the U.S. border.

Outreach to women voters (part 3): Speaking of making lives uncomfortable for people trying to get in to America, newly-released emails show the disdain White House Chief of Staff John Kelly had for Senator Elizabeth Warren, back when Trump's initial "Muslim travel ban" took effect (in February of 2017). At the time, Warren called up Kelly to complain that what the administration was doing was illegal. Kelly later wrote an email to his senior advisor about the phone call:

Absolutely most insulting conversation I have ever had with anyone. What an impolite arrogant woman. She immediately began insulting our people accusing them of not following the court order, insulting and abusive behavior towards those covered by the pause, blah blah blah.

The aide wrote back: "Too bad Senate Majority Leader McConnell couldn't order her to be quiet again!" Again, how civil these Republicans are!

Warren already used the McConnell incident to create a campaign slogan, because "Nevertheless, she persisted!" is such a great rallying cry. Now she's got "impolite arrogant woman" to add to her campaign's arsenal. When the new emails were exposed, Warren tweeted out her reaction:

Was I tough on John Kelly in that phone call? You bet I was. Apparently he thought I was an "impolite arrogant woman." "Blah blah blah" -- that's all he had to say when he was called out for breaking the law and destroying lives.

Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump can't shut me up -- and neither can John Kelly. (He can't even get @RealDonaldTrump off Twitter, and as far as I can tell, that was his main job description when he took on the role of @Whitehouse Chief of Staff).

There are some men who can only hear "blah blah blah" whenever a woman's talking. But there's nothing impolite about people's right to speak out and hold their government accountable. And sometimes, people are right to be angry.

You got that right, Senator!

Please remember, all of these stories exemplifying the Republican Party's utter and complete lack of anything which might remotely be called "civility" happened in just one single week's time. This is merely par for the course for the GOP. And they are the ones telling Democrats how civil they should be behaving? That's why the very concept -- indeed even the very debate itself -- is so downright comical. It's like being lectured by Marie Antoinette on philanthropy. Or being lectured by Melania Trump on cyberbullying, for that matter.

All of this incivility (well, that and the hurricane) pushed several stories off the radar. The Dow Jones average tanked almost 1,400 points in two days, but it was barely even mentioned on the evening news. The head of the U.S. Census lied under oath to Congress about putting a question on citizenship on the 2020 Census form, something he previously stated did not come from the White House. Turns out there is a paper trail proving it came directly from Steve Bannon. Whoops!

And finally, Bob Mueller just secured the longest prison sentence to date in his Russia probe, which will send a California man to prison for six months. His name is added to the long and ever-growing list of people who have either pled guilty or been sentenced for their crimes. Trump can scream "witch hunt" all he likes, but Mueller hasn't lost a case yet in his whole probe. And there are several people cooperating with Mueller who have yet to be sentenced in court, so we've got that to look forward to in the coming months as well.

We have three Honorable Mention awards to hand out before we get to the big one. First, Elizabeth Warren deserves recognition for, once again, strongly fighting back against Republican misogyny. We fully expect "Impolite arrogant woman" to be seen on placards at Warren rallies, right next to the "Nevertheless, she persisted" ones, in the near future.

Down in Georgia, Stacy Abrams is fighting to become governor against what can only be called a rigged election. Her opponent currently holds the job of overseeing the state's elections, and has been disenfranchising as many black people as he possible can. Abrams has been fighting back hard, because the situation is so grossly unjust.

Moneyman Tom Steyer deserves recognition as well, for sinking an additional $4 million into efforts to turn out the youth vote next month. This is precisely where a bunch of money could be well spent, so it's worth recognizing.

Speaking of prodigious campaign funding, we have two Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week awards to hand out this week. The first goes to Beto O'Rourke, candidate for the Senate in Texas. O'Rourke is taking on Ted Cruz, and he has been raking in an absolute mountain of cash for his campaign. He just reported a record-breaking $38 million raised in a single quarter. That is more than many presidential campaigns rake in, and far more than any other Senate candidate in history. And you know what? He did it all without accepting any PAC money at all -- it's all small donations. He reported he raised an average of $47 from a whopping 802,000 people last quarter.

Now, to be clear, he still may lose his race -- Texas is a hard nut for Democrats to crack. Even having more money than Cruz won't guarantee his success by a long shot, so while the sheer amount is impressive, be careful drawing any conclusions for the ultimate outcome of the race. Still, O'Rourke has once again proven that small donors can fund campaigns just as successfully as fatcats and corporate money. For doing so in such spectacular fashion, O'Rourke deserves his MIDOTW award.

Our second Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week goes to the coalition between the Maine People's Alliance, Mainers for Accountable Leadership, and activist Ady Barkanis, who last won this award four weeks ago in FTP (500). This coalition set up a page to fund the eventual Democratic nominee to run against Senator Susan Collins in Maine, in two years' time. The money was only going to be collected and used if Collins voted for Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court. Before she announced her vote, the fund had already hit $2 million.

Immediately after Collins announced she was voting yes, the site crashed because so many people were trying to donate at once. In the single week since then, the fund took in another $1.7 million -- in one short week, for an unnamed candidate two years from now. That is beyond extraordinary. Whoever actually wins the Democratic primary (Susan Rice is said to be exploring the possibility of a run) will start their general election campaign with a whole lot of money already in the bank. This is a new form of grassroots, small-donor political advocacy, and it has already been wildly successful. For pioneering the tactic, this coalition of Maine activists are well-deserving of their second Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award.

{Beto O'Rourke is a candidate, and we do not link to candidate websites as a rule. Also, we rarely endorse donation efforts, but if you'd like to contribute to the fund to defeat Susan Collins, please do so at the official Crowdpac donation page.}

While there was plenty of tragic news from Florida this week, there were also hints of political disaster from the Miami region for Donna Shalala. She is running for Congress in a district that voted for Hillary Clinton by almost 20 points, and she is well-known in the area. So she was supposed to be a shoo-in for the seat.

But the race is uncomfortably close, because Shalala is running against "a former Spanish-language television newswoman" who is very well-known to Spanish-speakers in the district. Shalala doesn't speak Spanish, and therefore can't do interviews in the language, as her opponent has been doing. This may be the biggest reason why the polling shows an incredibly tight race.

One Democratic insider criticized Shalala's campaign recently: "Donna's campaign changed in April. It went from active mode to sleep mode. And she hasn't woken up."

If Democrats want to take back the House, they really shouldn't be losing very winnable races (again: Clinton won this district by almost 20 points). This is no time to be coasting along hoping for victory, folks. So we sincerely hope that Shalala's campaign "wakes up" in time to do some good. But for the time being, she is our Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week.

{Donna Shalala is also a candidate for office, and we do not as a rule link to campaign websites, so you'll have to seek out her contact info yourself if you'd like to let her know what you think of her lackluster campaign.}

Volume 504 (10/12/18)

Another mixed bag of talking points this week, with the first three on Democrats and the last four on Trump's weekly idiocies. So let's just dive right in, shall we?

Get used to it!

Screw civility -- we're way beyond such niceties.

"Republicans simply cannot be taken seriously over their complaints that Democrats are not being civil enough. The party of Donald Trump is lecturing Democrats on civility? Are you kidding me?!? This, from the party whose gubernatorial candidate in Pennsylvania just warned his Democratic opponent that he's going to, and I quote, stomp all over your face with golf spikes, unquote. Not exactly Miss Manners, is it? I mean, getting lectured by the party of guys like this on politeness is like getting lectured on table manners by Attila the Hun -- it's just ludicrous. You know what I have to say to Republicans? Democrats are angry, they're kicking back at being kicked, and they're not going to run their campaigns on a standard the GOP threw in the garbage can a few years ago. So Republicans should really just get used to it. And, please, spare me the lectures on civility, because you're just embarrassing yourselves."

A coherent political strategy

We should note that it is helpful to view the first graph in this recent article, to see proof of exactly what we're talking about here.

"Washington talking heads and other assorted pundits are completely missing what is going on in all the midterm campaigns out there. They endlessly wonder whether Democrats should campaign on impeachment, or whether Democrats should announce that they're only going to target either minority voters or blue-collar Trump voters. Meanwhile, out on the real hustings, Democrats have an unbelievably unified message. Their campaign is focused intently on an enormous issue that the inside-the-Beltway crowd finds too boring to mention: healthcare. When you take a look at the ads both Democrats and Republicans are running, you can easily see that it is actually the Republicans who appear to have an incoherent strategy, not focusing on any one single issue at all. Democrats, on the other hand, are running over half their ads on protecting healthcare and people with pre-existing conditions. Republican candidates are actually having to now play defense on these issues, and it's not going well for them because of their long history of attacking Obamacare while never quite managing to come up with any viable idea for what should replace it. This focus by the Democrats is for a reason -- healthcare remains one of the top issues for the public. The voters care about healthcare, and Democrats are addressing their concerns. The Republicans are not, and they're all over the map. There is one party out there with a coherent message and a core issue in this campaign, even if the media hasn't figured it out yet."

Small donations work

This is really a talking point for all the Democrats who still don't believe this is possible.

"Politicians can run successful campaigns when they only accept campaign donations from individual small donors rather than PAC money. Beto O'Rourke just raised the most money ever collected in a single quarter in any Senate race in American history, and he did it all from small donors -- over 800,000 of them, in fact. A fund to support the next Democratic opponent to Susan Collins just raised $1.7 million from small donors in a single week. Back in the 1990s, many Democrats sold their soul to big business and Wall Street to rake in campaign cash. But people like Bernie Sanders have proven that this isn't the only way to raise campaign money. When you have a platform that millions of people support, and when you fight hard for your ideals, people across American can and will donate small sums of money to your race. All Democrats should take an oath swearing off PAC money from now on, because when you don't have to tailor your policies to special interests and can propose bold new solutions, people respond by opening their wallets. Beto O'Rourke just proved that, once again, with hundreds of thousands of donations which averaged $47 each. Corporate Democrats, please take note."

Trump rallies while Florida's panhandle is destroyed

This really should be a big scandal, but with Trump it barely moves the meter.

"President Donald Trump cannot be bothered to change his campaign rally schedule even when an enormous hurricane devastates the Florida panhandle. Just imagine for one tiny second what Republicans would have said if Barack Obama had done such a thing. Imagine how 'uncivil' the language they would have used would have been. And yet, Trump somehow gets a pass for ignoring a major disaster because he doesn't want to interrupt his fun. But maybe his shtick is getting a little old -- because even Fox News has apparently decided to no longer cover each and every Trump rally live. It seems that Trump's ratings are down, even on Fox. That's got to be worrying Trump, who absolutely worships television ratings. Maybe his ratings might improve if he showed a tiny shred of compassion for the millions of people who voted for him who were in the hurricane's path. Just a suggestion...."

We've always been at war with Eastasia....

A textbook case, really.

"My dictionary defines 'propaganda' as: 'information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or a point of view.' That seems to be exactly what Donald Trump did this week, with his falsehood-filled USA Today article. It was so bad that USA Today was forced, a few days later, to publish a fact-check article to show how many gigantic lies were contained within Trump's piece. The Washington Post fact-checker said of it: 'almost every sentence contained a misleading statement or a falsehood.' Another article from the Post was more visceral: 'President Trump wrote a remarkable op-ed in USA Today on Wednesday, remarkable because one wouldn't think it possible to pack so much dishonesty into such a small space, nor would one think a newspaper would willingly publish such a steaming pile of lies.' Donald Trump actually believed he could convince Americans that Democrats want to destroy Medicare, even though the reality is that Democrats have been defending the program from Republican efforts to destroy it, pretty much from the day Medicare started back in the 1960s. This is nothing short of a textbook example of propaganda, although 'steaming pile of lies' certainly fits the bill as well."

Irony impairment

This one has several layers of idiocy to unpack, so bear with us.

"Donald Trump tweeted out a conspiracy theory on top of his other conspiracy theory this week, leaving even his own supporters scratching their heads. Trump has become convinced that George Soros is somehow funding every Democratic protest there ever was, by paying people to protest. This is completely false, of course. It is not happening. But then Trump heard someone on Fox News state that she had heard from many people that they haven't been paid by Soros, so Trump tweeted out:"

The paid D.C. protesters are now ready to REALLY protest because they haven't gotten their checks -- in other words, they weren't paid! Screamers in Congress, and outside, were far too obvious -- less professional than anticipated by those paying (or not paying) the bills!

"Got that? The people Trump claims were paid weren't paid, so somehow that justifies his claim that they were. This bizarre tweet came about because Trump doesn't understand humor. When Trump claimed protesters were being paid, many of the protesters joked by tweeting things like: 'I haven't gotten any checks from George Soros' to make fun of Trump's idiotic conspiracy theory. Trump took them seriously, though, because he didn't understand he was actually the butt of the joke. You know what's even more hilarious? A newspaper article about people not being paid to attend a political rally titled: 'Even The Firm That Hired Actors To Cheer Trump's Campaign Launch Had To Wait To Be Paid.' Yep, once again, Trump is accusing others of doing what he's already been caught at."

It's like looking in a mirror

We think we heard this particular joke on Jimmy Kimmel's late-night show last night, but we weren't really paying attention, so it could have been another late-night host who came up with it. Sorry for the vague citation.

"Donald Trump sat and listened to Kanye West go off on what can only be called an epic level of craziness for a good 10 minutes. Afterwards -- for the first time in living memory -- Trump appeared speechless. He simply didn't know what to say about what had just occurred in front of him. Well, Mister President, that's what life has been like for the rest of us since the first day you took office -- being rendered speechless at the craziness which comes from you. It's like Trump was looking into a mirror, really."

Chris Weigant blogs at: ChrisWeigant.com
Follow Chris on Twitter: ChrisWeigant
Full archives of FTP columns: FridayTalkingPoints.com
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Reply Friday Talking Points -- "Civil" War (Original post)
ChrisWeigant Oct 12 OP
RHMerriman Oct 12 #1

Response to ChrisWeigant (Original post)

Fri Oct 12, 2018, 08:09 PM

1. It's nothing new...

It's nothing new...

FDR 1936 campaign speech in Madison Square Garden:

"For nearly four years you have had an Administration which instead of twirling its thumbs has rolled up its sleeves. We will keep our sleeves rolled up.

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peaceóbusiness and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for meóand I welcome their hatred.

I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master."


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